Fave Five: Adult Romances with Trans Male MCs

A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde (Contemporary m/m)

What it Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger (Contemporary m/m)

Bad Boy by Elliot Wake (Contemporary m/f)

The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz (Contemporary m/m)

A Matter of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman (Steampunk m/m)

Bonus: The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper, coming October 31, 2016

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Backlist Book of the Month: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Since this month contains Bisexual Awareness Week, I had to choose one of my (and pretty much everyone’s) first and favorite bi books, Far From You by Tess Sharpe! Sharpe’s debut nails so much: addiction, recovery, chronic pain, grieving, and, of course, attraction not being limited to a single gender, no matter how unfriendly local circumstances are.

18296034Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick.

The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

Buy it: Amazon I IndieBound I Powell’s I Book DepositoryBarnes & Noble (US)
Waterstones I WHSmith I Book Depository I Amazon (UK)
Amazon (Germany)

New Release Spotlight: Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time (An LGBT and Two-Spirit Sci-Fi Anthology)

As soon as this anthology was brought to my attention (h/t Lex Leone!) I reached out to the editor, Hope Nicholson, and asked if the authors would be open to contributing a little information about their stories. So, please check out the book itself below (only $5.00!) and then see what the authors have to say about their contributions to this cool-as-hell antho.

31560094Love Beyond, Body, Space, and Time is a collection of indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBT and two-spirit characters. These stories range from a transgender woman trying an experimental transition medication to young lovers separated through decades and meeting far in their own future. These are stories of machines and magic, love, and self-love.

This collection features prose stories by:
Cherie Dimaline “The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy,” “Red Rooms”
Gwen Benaway “Ceremonies for the Dead”
David Robertson “Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story,” Tales From Big Spirit series
Richard Van Camp “The Lesser Blessed,” “Three Feathers”
Mari Kurisato “Celia’s Song,” “Bent Box”
Nathan Adler “Wrist”
Daniel Heath Justice “The Way of Thorn and Thunder: The Kynship Chronicles”
Darcie Little Badger “Nkásht íí, The Sea Under Texas”
Cleo Keahna
And an introduction by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair “Manitowapow,” with a foreword by Grace Dillon “Walking the Clouds”.
Edited by Hope Nicholson “Moonshot,” “The Secret Loves of Geek Girls”

Buy it: Kindle * Paperback
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Gwen Benaway

I wrote “Transition” because I wanted to see a 1st person narrative of an Indigenous transwoman in the world. I can’t remember ever reading a narrative with an Indigenous transwoman as the main voice, so it felt important to centre us as active subjects in literature. Another part of my desire was to also challenge Western models of becoming “female.” The transgender specific narratives I encounter are often about the medical process of transitioning like surgeries or hormones, but I am interested in exploring what transitioning means in an Indigenous context. We know there was Indigenous transwoman before contact in most Indigenous nations. I often wish I could call up those transgender aunties and ask them “what was it like for you?”. For them, transitioning must have been very different. Being female would have meant something different. They certainly were not going on hormones, removing body hair, or having surgeries, but they were also very clearly perceived and lived as women in our societies.

It is empowering for me to imagine a process of transitioning which is not about morphing our biological bodies, but about reclaiming our souls. Being transgender for Indigenous transwomen is spiritual. Our teachings say it comes from our relationship to the earth and the world around us. It’s intrinsically who we are and we demonstrate our femininity through our actions and responsibilities, not our appearance. In the context of this story, I wanted to place ceremony and Western science side by side and have a main character who works through her gender via both. I cheat a little and fall strongly on the side of her gender coming through her ancestors, but the idea of her female ancestors reaching out to her to guide her into womanhood is a really beautiful and loving image for me. She’s not “changing” her gender. She is reconnecting to who she has always been: an Indigenous woman interwoven into a web of powerful Indigenous women which stretches across time and space.

David Robertson

You don’t always get the opportunity to write a story that involves an LGBT couple, has one character that is Indigenous, and, oh yeah, is sci-fi. Needless to say, it was an amazing and challenging experience to write “Perfectly You.” I wanted to write a love story that felt real in an unreal setting, that didn’t fall into cliche or stereotype, and that was surprising in its narrative, rather than in the sexual orientation or cultural background of its protagonist. In the end, for me, “Perfectly You” really is saying that love is love, and love is timeless.

Richard Van Camp

“Aliens” was a fun piece to write. I believe that this is my third piece of writing as a woman and I’m proud to have placed this story in Fort Smith, my home town. I’ve always had a “what if?” story about aliens, as in, “What if they just showed up and stayed? What would we do?” I didn’t want this story to be about the Sky People as beings. I wanted this to be about the Sky People as a symbol of never being able to go back to the way humanity was before: I also wanted there to be hope with the gentle bubbling of the oceans. I pray that, in this story, the Sky People are coming to help and teach us what we need to get along and heal our planet together. I also wanted this to be a love story. I love it when friendships break down and people start making out. Mah! 🙂

When you listen to the hunters and trappers, so many of them have stories of seeing UFO’s and I believe them. This was a joy to write and I’m grateful to Hope Nicholson for asking me to create something for “Love Beyond Body, Space and Time.” Mahsi cho!

You’ll notice that I dedicated this story to Carla Ulrich. Carla is a director, producer, writer and actor from the North who has adapted three of my books and turned them into movies: “Hickey Gone Wrong”, “Three Feathers” and “The Blue Raven.” I’m so grateful for her and her vision in all that she does. The least I could do is dedicate a story to her.

“Aliens” is now the first story in my new short story collection manuscript “Moccasin Square Gardens” because it has such a playful spirit.

Mahsi.

Mari Kurisato

Imposter Syndrome is the short story of Aanji, a noncitizen artificial life-form who is desperate to escape a grim fate, using her human ancestors’ memories. Set several (hundred?) years after the events of Escape Light, it details one person’s attempt to reclaim her soul. It’s also very autobiographical in some spots, which is why I’m nervous and pleased as punch that the wonderful Hope L. Nicholson is publishing it, alongside amazing Indigenous authors like Doctor Darcie Little Badger, Daniel Heath Justice, Nathan Adler, Gwen Benaway, and Cherie Dimaline.

Nathan Adler

“Valediction at The Star View Motel” is about relationships, and death, and meteor-showers, and messages from beyond the grave, it’s about one of the strongest and lightest materials in the world, spider’s-silk, and love, and connection across time and space. The story started with the two characters—Edie and Mushkeg—and I knew they had this back-story forming, waiting to be told, so when Hope approached me about contributing to this Anthology, I thought this story would be a good fit, and that maybe it was time to write the story of how Edie and Mushkeg met.

Daniel Heath Justice

Hummingbirds fascinate me. They possess a kind of wild, fierce beauty you don’t see in other creatures; they’re brave, bold, temperamental, and dramatic. In so many ways, they embody a courageous certainty of self, and I wanted to capture some of this spirit in a story for those on the margins (especially queer and two-spirit Indigenous folks) who are coming to an understanding of their own special beauty but see too few examples to help inspire their struggle. This world isn’t kind to those who are different; we know this too well. But that’s only because of human prejudices—the rest of the world is teeming with strange beauty.

I drew a bit of inspiration from the Cherokee story about Hummingbird and how sacred tobacco came to heal the People through the skill and cleverness of a medicine man. He put on a feathered cloak and became a hummingbird to steal the plant from an island of selfish, murderous giants. But there are many different kinds of healing, and there are many different kinds of medicine. To me this is a story of love and self-acceptance, and the beauty that inhabits so many of us but is so often denied.

Darcie Little Badger

At its core, Né łe is a lighthearted story about lesbians and puppies in space. Perhaps counterintuitively, I – a horror fanatic – enjoy writing sweet comedies. That said, Né łe contains sad themes that are familiar to my tribe and many others, particularly dispossession. Her longing for a stolen home drives the Apache protagonist of Né łe to Mars.

As a final note, the Watson to my Holmes is a Navajo veterinarian; their guidance enabled me to write the sci-fi veterinary scenes in Né łe. I’m extremely grateful!

*****

Hope Nicholson is the publisher of Bedside Press and comics historian. Her latest book is a collection of indigenous science fiction and fantasy stories starring queer and two-spirit characters. She also works in reprinted work bringing attention to lost comics.

Ten Gay YAs Under Seven Bucks

Obviously one of the toughest things with regard to LGBTQIAP+ YA is accessibility, which manifests in a whole bunch of different ways. It’s tough to afford, it’s tough to find, it’s tough sometimes to know what’s queer, it’s tough to buy or borrow the stuff that is queer when you aren’t in a safe environment… it’s a lot.

To help with the “What is queer?” part, especially books you can safely buy/borrow without anyone being the wiser, make sure you check out the Under the Gaydar feature.

To help find some stuff that’s more affordable than your average $10+ book, check out the below (all links go to Amazon Affiliates link):

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(Please note that half these titles link to paperbacks, not ebooks)

Superior by Jessica Lack ($1.99)

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford ($1.99)

The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren by Cody Wagner

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis ($3.99)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli ($4.51)

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsburg ($5.99)

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan ($6.45)

Hero by Perry Moore ($6.48)

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera ($6.70)

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson ($6.70)

Guest Post: Recommendations for Polyamory in Fiction, by Shira Glassman

For those unfamiliar with Shira Glassman, she’s not only an author of some of the queerest fantasy around, but also my super go-to person when it comes to tough-to-find queer rep. (Her encyclopedic brain for indie queer lit is unmatched. Seriously.) So when I was getting requests for poly fic, I knew who to beg for a guest post of recs, and as always, Shira delivered!

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I don’t seek out poly specifically for its own sake, but I have nothing against it, so when it pops up in my LGBT reading searches I’ll read anything that suits my plot, demographics, and setting preferences just as I would with a two-person romance. For those unfamiliar with me in general, my preferences tend toward f/f, fiction with trans people, older men, cultural diversity (especially Jewish stuff), “found family”, costume drama, high fantasy, science fiction, and anything having to do with Central Europe or Florida. As such, here are the top recs from my poly shelf on Goodreads, at least two of which were finalists in the most recent Bi Book Awards:

She Whom I Love by Tess Bowery. Configuration: f/f/m triad; all parties involved with each other, although one of the women is pretty explicitly described, in period-appropriate equivalent terms, as homoromantic bisexual and is in love with the other woman whereas she’s only sexually interested in the man. The setting is Regency England and the book is unusual for a Regency romance not only in its poly triad but in the fact that all three characters are members of the working class: you have a corset maker, a lady’s maid, and an actress (which back then was not treated like royalty the way it is today.) Two women who have been friends since girlhood realize they’re in love with each other just about the same time they start a flirtation with a certain man. When they realize it’s the same man, they play a trick on him for revenge and then the next thing he knows he’s got two girlfriends. This is that story you want if you’re that person who gets frustrated at love triangles and says “why can’t they just ALL DATE?” The book’s main conflict comes from everyone trying to figure out how to make sure they’re being treated with as much respect as they deserve as human beings despite living in a class system that denigrates actresses or people born of sex workers, rather than bullshit manufactured conflict and misunderstandings. I was also impressed by the fact that it had actual adventure and action in the plot instead of just the romance. (Buy it here.)

Kneel, Mr. President by Lauren Gallagher. Configuration: m/m/f triad where all parties are involved with each other. I initially assumed a book with a title this outrageous would be unabashedly silly, but no, far from it — this is actually a fully fleshed out complicated triad romance novel, complete with all the realistic turbulence and angst that any throuple (I’m sorry, I know that’s an awful word but I can’t help myself) would go through while navigating their beginning stages. This is a President/First Lady/Secret Service Former Boyfriend When They Were Navy SEALs Together setup. I was really impressed by how well rounded the book was in terms of character interaction besides the sex, of which, predictably, there is lots. I didn’t get bored by the extra sex scenes, either, since each one introduces a new angle (either within the D/s setup, or a new configuration of how all three of them will interact, since the wife initially starts out just watching, etc.) (Buy it here.)

Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver. Configuration: f/f/f triad including trans woman; all parties involved with each other. Chameleon Moon is temporarily unavailable due to the publisher closing down, but the author will be reissuing it in a new self-published format to be quickly followed by several short stories and a Book Two. The male lead is a lizard man named Regan who will be on-the-page ace in the second edition as the author originally wanted. The female lead, a trans woman lounge-singer-turned-superhero named Evelyn, is involved in a f/f/f triad of all superhero women. They even have a child together of which she is one of the biological parents. The book is a “hopeful dystopian” (the author calls it a dys-hope-ian) taking place in an American city that was quarantined by force when everyone there began developing mutant superpowers in response to an overpresecribed wonderdrug. Evelyn and her superpowered girlfriends and the rest of the characters are fighting to bring happiness and justice to the inhabitants of the city. This isn’t a book with sex scenes; the poly representation is focused on love and family. Warning for deadnaming (which Evelyn defeats like a champ) but it’s possible that may not reappear in the second edition. (Buy it here.)

Midnight at the Orpheus by Alyssa Linn Palmer. Configuration: poly V, a bisexual woman with a girlfriend and a boyfriend. This is 1920’s Chicago gangster noir, and that means it comes with a lot of genre conventions: plenty of violence and death, and an ending that’s happy but highly unstable since her girlfriend and boyfriend are not involved with each other and are both violent people. The setting is very bi-normative in the sense that in this particular underworld culture it’s just accepted that some of the women are dating each other and never assumes that a woman who likes women is uninterested in men. There is also a gay cop antihero who is not part of the triad, so all in all a very queer take on a well-established genre. Warning for Irish and Italian slurs. (Buy it here.)

Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi. Configuration: Multiple interlinked poly V’s as part of a found family. This is a book about queer disabled women fighting Big Pharma in space, with strong themes of found family, and the link between bodily autonomy and tough medical decisions. The main character is shown coming to terms with the idea of polyamory as she starts a relationship with a woman who is already involved with someone else, who is also involved with someone else. Warning for loss of family members and also a graphic mutilation flashback. (Buy it here.)

One final note: the Fierce Family anthology is a wonderful collection of sci-fi and fantasy shorts written on the theme of “positive depictions of queer families.” It has plenty of nonbinary representation and families with two moms, and cis m/m isn’t the majority of the stories. I’m mentioning it here because of the story about the space pirates–both the pirates and the ship being attacked have a crew of a bi, poly family. That was just so remarkable that I think it deserves special recognition. The whole anthology is worth it, though. (Buy it here.)

I don’t really have anything of substance of my own to offer as far as poly representation goes, except for a tiny piece of erotica about three Chanukah fairies (Eitan’s Chord.”) Also, I’m told my witch/tavern owner Eshvat (Climbing the Date Palm) is “solopoly” because she’s aromantic and doesn’t form romantic connections with her casual sexual partners. But maybe some day! (Buy Shira’s books here!)

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romanescoShira Glassman is a violinist living in Florida with a very good human and a very bad cat. She is best known for writing fluffy queer fantasy that draws inspiration from her tropical upbringing, Jewish heritage and present life, and French and German operas. She believes that we need infinite princess, dragon, and superhero stories for all the demographics who never got to play those roles when she was little; some of the ones she’s written have made it to the finals of the Bi Book Awards and Golden Crown Literary Society awards. Her latest is The Olive Conspiracy, about a queen and her found-family saving their country’s agriculture from a foreign plot.

Ten F/F YAs Under Five Bucks

Obviously one of the toughest things with regard to LGBTQIAP+ YA is accessibility, which manifests in a whole bunch of different ways. It’s tough to afford, it’s tough to find, it’s tough sometimes to know what’s queer, it’s tough to buy or borrow the stuff that is queer when you aren’t in a safe environment… it’s a lot.

To help with the “What is queer?” part, especially books you can safely buy/borrow without anyone being the wiser, make sure you check out the Under the Gaydar feature.

To help find some stuff that’s more affordable than your average $10+ book, check out the below (all links go to Amazon Affiliates link):

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Complementary and Acute by Ella Lyons ($0.99)

Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley ($2.99)

Taking Flight by Siera Maley ($2.99)

Colorblind by Siera Maley ($2.99)

Style by Chelsea M. Cameron ($3.99)

Forgive Me if I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters ($3.99)

Keeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicolas ($3.99)

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler ($4.49)

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley ($4.74)

Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton ($4.99)

Fave Five: Gay Christian MCs in YA

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown 

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis 

Coming Out Catholic by Alex Dunkin

Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen 

The God Box by Alex Sanchez

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The Colorful Catalog of…Matthew J. Metzger!

Hello and welcome to The Colorful Catalog, a brand-new feature on LGBTQ Reads that focuses on authors who’ve got at least five published LGBTQIAP+ books (including novellas) and gives you an overview of everything they’ve got, as provided by the authors themselves! Hopefully you can find at least one book that screams “I NEED THAT!” from any given catalog, and from there, if you love it, ta da! Instant access to info on where to go next.

I’m psyched to kick this off with the fantastic Matthew J. Metzger, whose Spy Stuff will hopefully have arrived at my door by the time this posts, and whose newest release, What It Looks Like, just released on Saturday! But I’ll let him tell you more about that, and everything else!

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Hi, I’m new here.

Only I’m not.

Sort of.

I signed my first publishing contract in 2012. Since then, there’s been over ten novels, a smattering of short stories, and three publishing houses. I write contemporary queer romance, both adult and young adult, and the pile of incomplete manuscripts and unwritten ideas is taller than me.

(Admittedly, I’m five foot three, so that’s not actually that tall, but still.)

Every one of these books is different. Wildly different. And I didn’t quite realise that until I found myself with a new boyfriend (don’t ask) who wanted to know where he ought to start with the backlist.

“Uh,” I said. “Well. I suppose that depends what you’re in the mood for.”

It really does.

Genre wise, I’m a one-trick pony. Adult or young adult, contemporary romance, queer. That’s it. Those are my areas. But within that? Within that, I’ve nearly got a book for every emotion.

28365577He decided he wanted something that had a bit of a ‘fuck you!’ attitude to jerks. The Italian Word for Kisses, I told him. Two boys dealing with a homophobic new kid at school, and in a real working class Sheffield fashion: punch him in the face until he gets the idea and leaves you alone.

But then, if you want a more threatening bad guy, and something to keep your chest locked up tight until the very end, then Thicker Than Bone will have you wanting to murder Tony yourself, just to bail the heroes out. Tony has swastikas tattooed on his hands…and his younger brother’s boyfriend is an Iraqi. Tension is an understatement.

And then there’s the emotional stuff. Most of my work doesn’t have bad guys. Private was deliberately written without one. Shane’s terrified to come out to his military family, but it’s not actually anybody’s fault. It’s just the culture he’s been raised with, and it’s assumptions and jumping to conclusions on both sides that fuel the issue.

What It Looks Like follows a similar pattern, but in reverse. Instead of everyone doing everything right and it still not quite working, What It Looks Like is an entire cast handling a situation wrong. Nobody in this book is what they seem, and so it makes perfect sense for Eli’s parents to disapprove of his new relationship with Rob. Especially as Eli’s parents are police officers, and Rob is a fresh-out-of-prison drug dealer with a history of violence. Are they going about it the wrong way? Yes. But so are both Eli and Rob themselves. Everyone’s to blame here, as opposed to no one. (Helena summed it up better than I can.)

The height of the emotional novels are the Vivaldi in the Dark books. Darren suffers from serious depression throughout the seven years covered by the trilogy, and even I struggle to re-read the second book. This is an exploration of life with a heckuva nasty illness, and it’s painful. Although one of my earlier projects, this one still haunts me.

29775399Spy Stuff crosses the bridge between heavy emotion, and light-hearted fun. Most of the book is the simple first-relationship wobbles that everybody goes through…with an added layer of complexity, as one of the boys involved is transgender, unbeknownst to his new boyfriend. (This was actually where my boyfriend found me, as we’re both trans ourselves. He also hasn’t stopped flailing about this book yet.)

Then there’s the other side of that angst-humour bridge. The Suicidal Peanut. Oh, this book. It’s my guilty pleasure. One of my favourites, even though it’s nothing more than an experiment in writing voice, and an adorkable hero. It’s not complicated. It’s not packed with feels. It’s not a must-be-told story. It’s just a dorky kid with a big crush. It’s a laugh. Mindless, even. But God, I love it.

But what every one of them has in common is some link back to me. Some part of them is part of me. From the streets Tav and Luca roam in The Italian Word for Kisses having been my own streets for five years, to Eli’s bitter regard of his family’s inability to accept his gender identity in What It Looks Like, all of these books come back to me in one way or another.

But in far more ways than a simple queer author = queer books formula.

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Matthew J. Metzger is an asexual, transgender author of queer contemporary romance. Dragged up in the wet and windy British Isles, he combines a punishing writing schedule with a gruelling day job and, as a result, has no discernible life beyond the gym, his overweight cat, and his first-name-terms relationship with the local pizza delivery guy. He can be hunted down mainly on Facebook and Twitter, or at his website.

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!