New eBooks for Sale for Under $5!

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A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian (historical f/f, $1.99)

200 Hours by Natasha West (contemporary f/f, $2.99)

In Bloom by Allie Keane (contemporary f/f, $3.99)

When She Thaws by Lily Craig (contemporary f/f, $3.99)

Good Vibes by Cara Malone (contemporary f/f, $4.99)

Runaway Road Trip by Kris Ripper (contemporary m/m, $4.99)

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Exclusive Cover Reveal: Ghosting You by Alexander C. Eberhart

Today on the site we’re welcoming back Alexander C. Eberhart, this time to reveal the cover for Ghosting You, his contemporary gay YA releasing from 7 Sisters Publishing on November 5, 2019! Check it out:

Tommy hears dead people. Okay, one dead person. His best friend, Chase. Since his death, Tommy can’t stop hearing his voice. They talk every day and Tommy even sends him texts, but it always ends the same. Message failed to send. Until one day, a stranger texts back.

Getting stuck in nowhere Georgia was not on Nick’s summer agenda, but a horoscope, a chance encounter, and a cute boy has things looking up. There’s just one problem, the boy hates him. When a broken phone leaves him with a new number, Nick is ready to write off the entire summer as a loss. But then he receives a strange text.

When Tommy and Nick’s worlds collide, the attraction is instant, but Tommy just can’t let Chase go. Can Nick use his status as Tommy’s anonymous stranger to break down his defenses or is Nick destined to live in a love triangle with a ghost?

And here’s the fabulous cover, designed by Molly Phipps!

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Pre-order: Amazon

unnamedAlexander C. Eberhart grew up in the Metro Atlanta Area his entire life, moving from suburb to suburb, just on the outskirts of the city. He’s always had a passion for writing, even from a young age. He still lives on the cusp of Atlanta, inching his way ever closer to finally becoming the City Dweller he’s always wanted to be.

In the meantime, he spends his days writing stories with queer characters and drinking an unfathomable amount of coffee. When he isn’t crafting quality queer fiction, you can find Alexander most likely curled up alongside his boyfriend, watching a movie or another equally lazy task.

Fave Five: Adult Historical Fantasy Romance

For Steampunk novels, click here.

The Alpennia series by Heather Rose Jones

Passing Strange by Ellen Klages (f/f)

Caroline’s Heart by Austin Chant (m/f) – T

A Charm of Magpies series by KJ Charles (m/m)

Graveyard Sparrow by Kayla Bashe (f/f)

Fave Five: Series Starring Queer PIs

Roxane Weary by Kristen Lepionka

Donald Strachey by Richard Stevenson

Dave Brandstetter by Joseph Hansen

The Henry Rios Mysteries by Michael Nava

Charlie Mack Motown Mystery by Cheryl A. Head

Bonus: This is primarily centered on adult books, but I’d be remiss not to mention the Historical MG series Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens!

 

Fave Five: YA with Queer College Student MCs

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves

By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery

Bonus: In Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater, the LI is in college and chapters of the book are set there.

New Release Spotlight: Let’s Call it a Doomsday by Katie Henry

Picking a spotlight book every month, when so much greatness keeps coming out, is a challenge, but every now and again I stumble upon a book I hadn’t even known was queer and am so completely walloped by it that I need to spread the gospel ASAP. There’s no pun intended, as this is in fact another one of YA’s rare “reliqueer” titles, i.e. books that explore the intersection of queerness and religion. In this case, Mormon Ellis is questioning whether she’s bisexual, and the way religion, questioning, sexuality, love, and mental health all come together in this sophomore novel, Let’s Call it a Doomsday by Katie Henry, just knocked me off my feet. If you’ve been seeking such a thing, I hope it does the same for you!

Let’s Call It A Doomsday by Katie Henry

There are many ways the world could end. A fire. A catastrophic flood. A super eruption that spews lakes of lava. Ellis Kimball has made note of all possible scenarios, and she is prepared for each one.

What she doesn’t expect is meeting Hannah Marks in her therapist’s waiting room. Hannah calls their meeting fate. After all, Ellis is scared about the end of the world; Hannah knows when it’s going to happen.

Despite Ellis’s anxiety—about what others think of her, about what she’s doing wrong, about the safety of her loved ones—the two girls become friends. But time is ticking down, and as Ellis tries to help Hannah decipher the details of her doomsday premonition, their search for answers only raises more questions.

When does it happen? Who will believe them? And how do you prepare for the end of the world when it feels like your life is just getting started?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository

Why Oscar Wilde, or: How Oscar Returned To My Life and Helped Me Write My First YA Novel, a Guest Post by R. Zimora Linmark

It’s tough to be a fan of queer lit or queer anything, really, and not admire the late, great Oscar Wilde. Today on the site I’m excited to introduce YA debut R. Zamora Linmark, who wrote an entire book based in that admiration, which releases today! Check out how Oscar Wilde influenced not just the main character of this novel, but the author himself, right after you check out The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart!

hi-res The Importance of Being Wilde at HeartWords have always been more than enough for Ken Z, but when he meets Ran at the mall food court, everything changes. Beautiful, mysterious Ran opens the door to a number of firsts for Ken: first kiss, first love. But as quickly as he enters Ken’s life, Ran disappears, and Ken Z is left wondering: Why love at all, if this is where it leads?

Letting it end there would be tragic. So, with the help of his best friends, the comfort of his haikus and lists, and even strange, surreal appearances by his hero, Oscar Wilde, Ken will find that love is worth more than the price of heartbreak.

Buy it:  Amazon | B&N| Indiebound

And here’s the guest post! (tw: suicide, bullying, abuse)

After reading The Picture of Dorian Gray in Mrs. Pang’s British Literature class, my admiration for the inimitable Oscar was cemented, earning him (and Dorian Gray) a in my growing altar of heroes, alongside The Smiths, David Bowie, Judy Blume, Donna Summer, and Holden Caulfield. I remember going to school, toting Oscar’s scandalous novel as if it were a sacred text. Dorian Gray was my new god dressed in a bowler’s hat and tweed suits. He was hip, devilish—a hedonist who made the seven deadly sins sexy. He flirted with danger, was a disciple of both male and female beauty, and sought pleasures to its murderous ends. I was a high school senior in Hawaii at the time. The year was 1986. My two friends and I sported punk/New Wave haircuts. We were a trio of anarchists-in-progress, “non-conformists”, as one of our teachers dubbed us because we spoke our minds and dared to be ourselves. One friend wore safety pins for earrings. Another had an Annabella-Lwin Bow-Wow-Wow-inspired mohawk, while I had bangs long enough to shield me from the hostile eyes of the world. We went to school dressed up like mods from 1950s or psychedelic hippies from the 60s, our wardrobe courtesy of Mother Rice, Goodwill, and Salvation Army thrift stores. We put on clothes that, to borrow Oscar Wilde’s term, were tailored for “bunburyists”—adventurous rebels who dressed up with impeccable style as themselves – or their alter egos. We listened to The Cure, Sex Pistols, The Cramps, Violent Femmes, The Smiths, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, and Dead Can Dance, punk and New Wave bands who sang of doom and anarchy, love and disaster, death and loneliness. This was the decade when everyone either identified as “bi” or was soon-to-be, for it was the safest and closest to coming out. A guy could make out with as many guys as he wanted to, so long as he was open to the possibility of one day making out with the opposite sex.

Across the Boulevard of Rebel Hearts were morality-driven censors and conservatives like Mrs. Pang, who had purposefully left out Oscar’s magnetic and, at times, scandalous personality that made him larger than Art. Thank god I had friends and club-dancing partners like Shirley who worked as a bookseller at Jelly’s Comics & Records—the hippest and coolest store in Hawaii. She was the one who filled me in on the intrigue-ridden life of the dandy playwright known for his witty sayings as much as for his comedies; quoting him became a trend among the artsy-fartsy wannabe’s, like wearing trench coat in a ninety-degree weather. From Shirley, I also learned that Oscar was married with two sons. That he had carried on a volatile relationship with a younger man, the handsome Lord Alfred Douglas, a.k.a. “Bosie.” That he was persecuted and imprisoned for engaging in sexual acts with other men. His personal history was enough to pique my curiosity, for prior to Oscar, I didn’t know any writers who were gay, famous or not. It was very comforting, mind-blowing, that there existed a writer who was highly visible and very vocal about his love for the same sex. I wasn’t so alone anymore. I had someone to read—a role model to look up to, if not emulate. It gave me a feeling of security and self-affirmation akin to a few years later, when I first got my hands on Dangerous Music, a collection of prose and poetry by Jessica Hagedorn who, like myself, was from the Philippines and migrated to the United States in her teens. It was very empowering and inspiring: to know that there were writers from my immediate community who were only a library or a bookstore away. Reading them was like reuniting with long-lost friends, comrades, extended family members.

After The Picture of Dorian Gray, I read Oscar’s masterpiece “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Then his fairy tales. Then The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde. As a graduation gift, Shirley gave me an Oscar Wilde journal with a cover of Oscar wearing his trademark accessory: a green carnation in his buttonhole coat; below his headshot was one of his gazillion immortal quotes: “I have nothing to declare except my genius.” I even wore an Oscar T-shirt, a gift from a friend who’d purchased it during a family vacation to Chicago. I wore that shirt as if I was wearing a work of Art. I wore it until Oscar’s face faded and the collar, stretched. It was my sartorial way of coming out.

In 1988, when I was a junior at the University of Hawaii, majoring in Lit and Creative Writing, Richard Ellman’s much-awaited biography of Oscar was published. I lugged that doorstopper around campus as if I had all the time in the world to read a 700-page book, in addition to Milton’s Paradise Lost and James Joyce’s Ulysses. I never got a chance to read it in its entirety; I think I went as far as the first hundred pages because I was too busy preparing an itinerary for my next uncertain life.

Fast Forward to 2010.

I picked up Ellman’s biography again. This time, I was determined to read it from cover to cover. I placed myself under self-imposed house arrest. Reading it renewed my relationship with Oscar, and revived heartbreaking memories of my teenage years.

From Ellman’s extensively-researched biography, I uncovered more surprises about my Renaissance man and early literary hero. Oscar was not only a poet, playwright, and an essayist, but was also a leading member of an aesthetic movement that espoused an artificial, yet beautiful lifestyle. To Oscar and his cohort of elegantly-dressed dandies, life was already shallow and meaningless, so might as well be stylish and beautiful. A man of flamboyant taste in fashion, Oscar wore what he preached: “Be a work of art, or wear a work of art.” He was both. He was also a speed-reader who spewed wit at a lightning speed, wrote fairy tales, was chief editor of a women’s magazine, fought for prison reform, and traveled around the United States, delivering lectures, including to coal miners in Colorado where he gave a discourse on Italian Renaissance sculptor Cellini.

During his infamous trials, his wife and children fled the country to avoid public shaming and, shortly after Oscar’s conviction, had changed their name to “Holland.” Oscar was not afraid to defend himself and others who shared his love that “dared not speak its name.” And for this, he was vilified, ostracized, and persecuted by the very same people who lined up to see his plays and celebrated his brilliance. In the end, he was sentenced to prison to two years with hard labor, then, upon release, left for Paris where homosexuality was more tolerated. What I didn’t know until then was that Oscar was also a victim of bullying and multiple forms of abuse—from a classmate in Oxford, to Bosie’s father, to Bosie himself. Bosie’s father was so incensed by Oscar’s and Bosie’s relationship that he threatened to disown his son and publicly humiliated Oscar by calling him a “sodomite.” Oscar, at the insistence of Bosie, struck back, with a libel suit that quickly backfired. Forced to dismiss his suit, Oscar now had to defend himself not only from Bosie’s father but from a bloodthirsty public who wanted him convicted for “gross indecency.” Bosie, who had a temper as explosive as his father, abused Oscar. He constantly picked fights with Oscar, taunting him, tormenting him, when he was not spending Oscar’s money from royalties from his plays. I found it odd, however, that Oscar didn’t fight back, or ended the volatile relationship. He tried but he was too forgiving. Why? Why did a genius like Oscar who had everything—fame, fortune, a supportive family—allow someone to control, manipulate, and take him away from what he loved the most—his two sons and his writing? And even after he was released from prison, why did he, now an outcast in Paris, take Bosie back, as if two years in prison weren’t hell enough? Was it madness? Obsession? Despair? Questions like these gnawed at me. It forced me to re-evaluate my relationship with my role model. It made me rethink of my definition of a hero. Did it now mean separating the genius from the deeply-flawed man who tormented himself over love?

Around the same time that I was engrossed with Oscar’s larger-than-Art life, teens across America were committing suicides. Four of them took place in September, just days apart from each other. Racially different, these teens had one commonality: they were victims of bullying because they were gay, openly or closeted. Damn if you do, damn if you don’t. Two had hung themselves, one on the rafters of the family barn, the other from a tree branch. The third shot himself in the head, while the fourth jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge. Of the four, three died instantly, but one hung on for ten days, on life support. Their ages ranged from thirteen to Freshmen in college. Unable to keep fighting, these lone warriors decided to end a struggle that once held meaning. Their tragic deaths made headline news, went viral on the Internet, played in a loop on CNN, grazed the cover of People magazine. CBS produced a special segment on bullying-related deaths; they were among the main features, which included an eleven-year-old who killed himself because he was bullied for being short. I was enraged, yet in awe of their guts. My heart broke. I felt hopeless, was helpless. I wanted to punch the world in the face. It brought me back to that time in the 80s when the AIDS virus was killing thousands of people, and boys my age who knew they were gay were so terrified to come out, to love ourselves and others, because of the stigma it bore, and the fear and anxiety that we were next in the toe tag line.

A year later—more teen suicides. One of them was Jamey Rodemeyer who, on September 18, 2011, had hung himself. An openly gay activist who fought homophobia via YouTube videos he helped thousands who, like him, were victims of bullying. He was a fan of Lady Gaga who paid tribute to him at her concerts. She called him her “little monster.” In his videos, he reassured his viewers that things would get better, so hang on—advice that he believed in and lived by, until the bullying got too unbearable. He was fourteen
years old. So what happens when you, as a role model for others, feel defeated? Where and who do you go to refuel and help you extend your faith in, and love for, yourself and others? What happens when love and hope are overpowered by hatred and cruelty?

Reading about a literary genius who was persecuted over a century ago, and the suicides of American kids simultaneously was no accident. It was a loud blast call to action. I had no choice but to let rage fuel the words. I knew right there and then that the only way to deal with the violence and hatred and unbearable sadness that were metastasizing across the country like stage-4 cancer was to write about it. A book for young adults. It would be my way of remembering and honoring them for their courage to look hatred in the eye because they dared to be themselves. It would also be my small offering of hope that, though the book might not save lives, it could, perhaps, delay the tragedy, lessen the pain. I had never written a book for young adults, or with a targeted audience in mind, for that matter. It was new, terrifying, even constricting (or what I thought of then as constricting). It would be like writing my very first book. And to an extent, it was. Like my first novel Rolling The R’s, it was an invitation to create and dare myself. And to double the dare: I chose a subject matter that courted clichés the most. It would be
about love. Love of sorts. Love between two boys. Love among outcasts who, tired of being alone and picked on, create their own trio-of-a-community where they do not need the approval of the majority because, in their small world, belonging is not defined by numbers but by that shared space where they can thrive as individuals, voice their differences while continuing to encourage and strengthen each other. To them, this is how empowerment begins. And in this small community of three outcasts, Oscar, their literary hero, would play a role in shaping their minds, dropping in on them as he used to drop into mine. What better hero, flaws and all, than this larger-than-Art figure to guide seventeen-year-olds through the rocky pathways of this difficult world? A man of endless wit who never stopped preaching about love, despite the hatred and cruelty of many who had wished him misfortune? A fantabulous individual who, tragic as the last chapter of his life was, believed until the very end that “The world had shut its gates, but the door of Love remains open”? Who else but the indomitable Oscar Wilde?

***

R Zamora Linmark (Credit Desiree Solomon)R. Zamora Linmark is the author of The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart, his first novel for young adults from Delacorte/Random House. He has also published two novels, Rolling the R’s which he’d adapted for the stage, and Leche, as well as four poetry collections, most recently, Pop Vérité, all from Hanging Loose Press. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Baguio, Philippines.

Fave Five: M/M Romance Retellings

First Impressions by Christopher Koehler (Contemporary Pride and Prejudice)

The Secrets of Eden by Brandon Goode (Fantasy Cinderella)

The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake (Fantasy Rapunzel)

Peter Darling by Austin Chant (Fantasy Peter Pan)

Rabi and Matthew by L.A. Witt (Contemporary Romeo & Juliet)

 Rainbow heart

Backlist Book of the Month: Who is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht

I freaking love books that are helmed by female spies, and this brilliant historical about a queer woman working as one during the Cold War was everything I’d wanted it to be when I read it in one sitting on a flight. Who is Vera Kelly? is fun and surprising and clever and a good glimpse into a fraught era from both a political and queer perspective, so do yourself a favor and check it out!

New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She’s working night shifts at a radio station when her quick wits, sharp tongue, and technical skills get her noticed by a recruiter for the CIA.

Next thing she knows she’s in Argentina, tasked with wiretapping a congressman and infiltrating a group of student activists in Buenos Aires. As Vera becomes more and more enmeshed with the young radicals, the fragile local government begins to split at the seams. When a betrayal leaves her stranded in the wake of a coup, Vera learns the Cold War makes for strange and unexpected bedfellows, and she’s forced to take extreme measures to save herself.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Tin House

Finding My Identity Through Poetry: a Guest Post by Lenee Hendricks

Today on the site I’m excited to welcome poet Lenee Hendricks, author of Radiant Souls, to discuss how she found her identity through poetry! Check out the Sapphic book here and then read on for more Lenee words!

RS4Radiant Souls is a collection of poetry which speaks of healing, identity, self-love, and relationships. It contains pieces inclusive of gender neutral language and tells of sapphic experiences. In this collection, Lenee H. explores finding the strength and beauty within oneself, and celebrating the people in our lives.

Buy on Amazon | Add to Goodreads

*****

Finding My Identity Through Poetry

When I began writing poetry, I never expected it to become so important to me. I knew next to nothing about the publishing world and was coming straight from having dropped my college classes, ready to delve into writing. During my middle and high school years I had planned to become a nurse. My own interest in medicine and science was real, but the direction of my life was often dictated by my desire to please my parents. Conscious or not, I let who I was and who I would become be controlled by everything but what I truly felt and wanted.

I was freshly entered into the exciting new age of twelve when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. This was nearly two months following the sudden and traumatic loss of my older brother in a car accident. I don’t think I ever really had the chance to grow into myself. Just as I was about to enter those teen years of becoming your own person and beginning to rebel a little, hungering for that taste of adulthood, I was faced with an onslaught of stresses and harsh reality. The weight of issues belonging to adulthood were tossed into my lap. I suppose I got that taste most kids yearn for, just not the flavor they usually imagine.

Having family death and sickness enter my sphere at such a young age caused me to want to be mature. I felt the need to be grown up and so, I parroted adults around me. I adopted the beliefs I thought seemed solid and trustworthy, I tried to act older than I was. In many ways, I naturally was more mature than I should have been, but I was still mimicking. And it only worsened as my stresses increased. My mother continued to battle cancer, she had a mastectomy but then it showed up in her sternum and, despite undergoing radiation, it would only continue to spread. My dad had a brain injury which caused severe amnesia and a permanent personality shift. My sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor. One thing stacked on top of another, and all I wanted was to make everyone else happy.

I erased myself and turned into a mirror of expectations, both what was placed upon me by others, and a lot of which I was reflecting onto myself. I spent my life like this until I graduated high school in 2017. This was a time I should have been coming into my own, deciding what I wanted to do with my life and exploring who I was. But, instead, I was soon preparing for my mom’s death. I was homeschooled and somehow, this brave, stubborn woman managed to continue teaching me even through the ups and downs of her health. She was certainly pushing me to plan my future, to think ahead. But I was already steeped so deeply into wrapping up my identity into what I thought would please her.

I didn’t really stop until months after she passed that October. I spent so long caring for her, nursing her, wanting to make her happy. It was strange for it all to be gone so quickly. All at once I had no excuse to not examine myself, to not be who and what I wanted. I think it took about a month longer before I began figuring out who I was. The following Thanksgiving, I let myself say the word “fuck” and appalled my siblings who viewed me as “the good kid.” As funny as that is and sounds, looking back it really was so telling of how much I hid myself away and suppressed my growth.

It was some time into the first months of 2018 when I began to think about sexuality. I was raised in an extremely conservative, Christian household. Certainly, I had long been feeling differently about the LGBTQ+ community than everyone around me. I felt so uncomfortable with the knee jerk reactions and derogatory language tossed their way. But there was a curiosity in me which I tried to ignore, a need to say, “gay is okay.” It took me several months before I finally realized, if I was telling everyone else they could have faith and be LGBTQ+ then, why couldn’t I say that about myself?

This was the first step in a long journey of self-discovery.

It wasn’t much later until I figured out rather than my fingers cramping from sticking people with needles, I wanted them to ache from typing. I wanted to be an author. So much of my desire to become a nurse was tied to my mom’s health and feeling like I had to stick to this plan I made when I was thirteen. Yet, during all of those years I was constantly pursuing creative writing in my free time. And even through those years of casual writing, I often found myself pushing the limits of my upbringing, bit by bit, through fiction. It took even longer to let go of the voices telling me I had to go to college to please everyone else, but I finally dropped my classes (a week before they began, might I add). Then, I dove straight into figuring out what I wanted to write.

I settled with poetry; I had written a few things here and there. I thought it would be a simple way to dip my toe into the writing world and get my name out there. What I thought was going to be a quick little project, turned into a journey of finding my voice and beliefs. Cosmic Phases was my debut collection and as I wrote it, I found myself able to freely express the parts of me I had kept hidden. I put my political views in words, I wrote about equality, healing from sexual abuse, speaking up about anxiety and depression…I figured out me. While I was still closeted and had to carefully craft my words about love or attraction, I was still able to express myself more than I ever had before.

After months of marketing and selling that book, and accidentally coming out to my dad as bisexual (thanks dental anesthesia!!), I began Radiant Souls. I had over a year of growth, learning I am a feminist, I really do know I have white privilege, and yes, I am a queer mess. As I wrote this collection, I was able to freely speak of my sapphic experiences, and I began using gender neutral language for many pieces. Perhaps, it was fitting not long after wrapping up this project I realized I was gender fluid.

This time, when I listed my book into Amazon categories, I put Radiant Souls in the LGBT Poetry section. In and of itself that was an incredible step. But during the course of my pre-order campaign and following the release, I saw my title go to the top of the LGBT Poetry releases. Some days, I still can’t believe that’s something which actually happened. To think just earlier this year, I would have been mortified to even clearly write about being attracted to women.

Looking back, there was so much I never had the courage to say out loud but was able to put into Cosmic Phases. Since publishing it, I have been able to speak out more boldly on LGBTQ+ issues, feminism, racial equality, and everything else that would make my conservative uncle shake his head in disapproval. Radiant Souls is only another step in my process of growth. Everyone says writing is a form of self-expression, and it is, but I think it is also a tool of discovering the parts of us we never realized we ever needed to express. Writing freed me. Poetry has been a method of healing and liberation I can only hope reflects back to those who read it. I can look at my poetry and finally see a mirror I have crafted to show nothing but myself, what I believe, and who I am.

DSC_0002Lenee H. is the author of Cosmic Phases and Radiant Souls. Drawing upon her experiences and observations of the world, she seeks to inspire others in their journeys of healing and growth. When she isn’t writing, she’s failing to keep her cats out of trouble.

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!