Fave Five: Trans Kidlit by Trans Authors

George by Alex Gino (Contemporary MG)

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (Contemporary YA)

Spy Stuff by Matthew J. Metzger (Contemporary YA)

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz (Dystopian YA)

The Unintentional Time Traveler by Everett Maroon (Sci-Fi YA)

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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!

*****

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.

*****

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.

Cover Reveal: The Melody of You and Me by Maria Hollis

Today on the site, please welcome Maria Hollis, to unveil the cover of her upcoming pansexual NA novella, The Melody of You and Me! The Melody of You and Me is Hollis’s first LGBT+ New Adult Novella, a love story about two girls, a bookstore, and how music connects people in different ways. Here’s the blurb:

After dropping out of university and breaking up with her girlfriend of three years, Chris Morrison’s life is now a mind-numbing mess. She doubts that working at the small neighborhood bookstore is going to change that. The rest of her time is spent mostly playing guitar and ignoring the many messages her mother keeps sending her about going back to college.
But one day, an adorable and charming new bookseller waltzes her way into Chris’s life. Josie Navarro is sweet, flirty, and she always has a new book in her hands. The two girls start a fast friendship that, for Chris, holds the promise of something more. But is she reading too much into this or is it possible that Josie feels the same way?
And here’s the cover!
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Links:
Bio:
M. Hollis could never decide what to do with her life. From the time she was a child, she has changed her ideas for a career hundreds of times. After writing in hidden notebooks during classes and daydreaming during every spare moment of her day, she decided to fully dedicate herself to her stories. When she isn’t scrolling around her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies.

Fave Five: LGBTQ Muslim MCs

A Love That Disturbs by Medeia Sharif (Contemporary YA)

Due Diligence by Anna Zabo (Contemporary Romance)

Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam (Adult Contemporary)

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (Contemporary YA)

Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis (Historical YA)

Bonus: And I Darken by Kiersten White (Historical YA) – Gay MC converts to Islam mid-book

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Around the Blogosqueer: #BiYABooks

Welcome back to Around the Blogosqueer, where we take a closer look at a delightfully rainbow-y corner of the internet! Today we’re checking out #BiYABooks, a Twitter chat about YA books with bisexual main characters, run by three YA authors!

#BiYABooks grew out of an IRL discussion between authors Mackenzi Lee (@TheMackenziLee) and Rebecca Wells (@rebeccawriting) about the lamentable lack of young adult books featuring bisexual main characters. When they took this discussion to Twitter late last year, they got a ton of great responses pointing them toward bi representation in books. It was phenomenal to see what they had been missing, but it did make them think that maybe part of the problem was that while these books did exist, not enough people were hearing about them! So Mackenzi and Rebecca invited author Ashley Herring Blake (@ashleyhblake) to team up and started #BiYABooks as a way to showcase, examine, and celebrate that bisexual representation.

When selecting books to discuss for the chat, Mackenzi, Rebecca, and Ashley try to pick a variety, including contemporary, speculative, and historical. They also try to select books that feature bisexual main characters of all genders, color, varying religions, and abilities. They are hopeful that intersectional books will increase in number and availability and that, before too long, bisexual teens will have a much easier time finding themselves between the pages of a book.

So what books have they done so far?

And what’s up next?

Over You by Amy Reed

16074995Max would follow Sadie anywhere, so when Sadie decides to ditch her problems and escape to Nebraska for the summer, it’s only natural for Max to go along. Max is Sadie’s confidante, her protector, and her best friend. This summer will be all about them. This summer will be perfect.

And then they meet Dylan. Dylan is dark, dangerous, and intoxicating, and he awakens something in Max that she never knew existed. No matter how much she wants to, she can’t back away from him.

But Sadie has her own intensity, and has never allowed Max to become close with anyone else. Max doesn’t know who she is without Sadie, but she’d better start learning. Because if she doesn’t make a decision about Dylan, about Sadie, about herself it’s going to be made for her.

Tune in at 9 p.m EST on August 23rd to discuss!

And finally, get to know the authors behind the chat!

Rebecca Wells is an overly enthusiastic book peddler (otherwise known as a manager at an independent bookstore) specializing in children’s literature. When not shouting on the internet about her newest favorites, she writes (mostly) YA (mostly) fantasy books, which are represented by the fabulous Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Simmons College and has too many books on her nightstand.

Mackenzi Lee is a reader, writer, bookseller, unapologetic fangirl, and fast talker. She holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. Her young adult historical fantasy novel, This Monstrous Thing, which won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, is out now from HarperCollins. Her second book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, a historical adventure novel about boys in love, will be released in 2017. She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars.

Ashley Herring Blake is a reader, writer, and mom to two boisterous boys. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching and loves coffee, arranging her books by color, and watching Buffy over and over again on Netflix with her friends. Her young adult contemporary novel, Suffer Love, is out now from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her second book, How to Make a Wish, another contemporary about a bisexual girl in the throes of a toxic relationship with her mother all the while falling in love with another girl, will release in 2017. Girl Made of Stars, a book about a girl whose twin brother is accused of rape, will release in 2018.

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Better Know an Author: Erica Cameron

Welcome to Better Know an Author, a feature title I stole from Colbert Report because I miss it so, which will introduce you to a fabulous author of LGBTQIAP+ books every month! This month, the spotlight is on Erica Cameron, who’s got a whole lot of books on the shelf and in the pipeline, adding some much-needed rainbow representation to the YA canon. Come say hi!

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Which of your books have LGBTQIAP+ representation, and can you tell us a little about them?

All four of my series have at least some representation. Laguna includes the least, and my upcoming fantasy might arguably include the most—based both on the world and the individual characters.

In Laguna Tides, Kody, one of the secondary characters in the first two books, is demisexual. His orientation is hinted at in the first two books and will be confirmed in book three. He’ll also get his own story told in book four.

In Dream War Saga, though there isn’t any rep in Sing Sweet Nightingale (the one thing I now regret about that book is how straight and white it is, no matter how true that demographic is to the setting), I introduce a lot of queer characters in the second book, Deadly Sweet Lies. Julian and Nadette—my two narrators—are asexual and lesbian respectively, and both of those are confirmed on page. There are other queer spectrum characters in the book, but only Nadette’s love interest has their orientation confirmed.

For the Assassins books, rep is all over the board and—over the course of both books—not confined to orientation. Asexual, bisexual, gay, panromantic demisexual, gender fluid, and intersex. Most of this is confirmed with labels on the page, but some is implied when we’re talking about the minor characters.

In the fantasy series coming in February, The Ryogan Chronicles, the story starts on the island of Shiara and focuses on a culture with a bisexual-as-normal outlook on orientations. I do also have asexual rep in the book as well as an established third gender. Also, as a point of interest, there isn’t a single white character in this series. At all.

Your next book is the first in a series all about assassins—what kind of hands-on research does that entail?

Far less than I wanted to! I did get the chance to go to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and that was a lot of fun. It’s unfortunately one of the few museums in DC that isn’t free because it’s privately run, but it has some great interactive features. Like a vent you can actually crawl through! I had hoped to be able to take lessons at a gun range with various weapons (I’d probably be very bad at it, but I still wanted to have the experience), but time and money got in my way. Aside from that, though, a ton of research went into this book, none of it concentrated on any one thing. Hacking, security systems, weapons, spy technology, homemade bombs, the reality behind truth serum—basically, if there is such a thing as a government watch list based on search history alone, I’m on it because of this book.

What’s a particularly conscious choice you’ve made in your representation?

Well, more of it, definitely. I come from a place of privilege, and even though I’ve grown up in an area that forced me to be aware of that privilege in certain ways, I was still ignorant of many aspects of that same privilege when I wrote Sing Sweet Nightingale. Yes, the book is set in a very small town in northern New York that is based loosely on the town my father grew up in, and yes, that town is still to this day predominately white and straight and incredibly insulated from the reality of the world, but I didn’t have to recreate it so exactly. I could have made it a more realistic—more representative—version of the same place. With each book since then, as I learn more and more about respectful inclusion, the representation in the stories expands. Hopefully it will continue to do so.

That being said, incidental diversity is very different from a story about some aspect of the diverse experience. I will do my best to include as many non-white, non-straight, non-cisgender characters as possible—with a somewhat selfish focus on making sure every one of my series includes an asexual-spectrum character—but I will likely never ever tell a story about what it is like to be non-white, non-straight, or non-cisgender. Even if I were to attempt writing a book about what it’s like to be a white, cisgender female, heteromantic asexual, I’d still be nervous. And that’s writing exactly from my experience. I don’t have the gall to try telling someone else’s story. Not in that way.

You’re an ardent advocate for asexual representation in media, and a frequent user of the #DontErasetheAces hashtag. What are some things allosexual people, especially authors, can keep in mind in order not to contribute to ace erasure?

That, just like in the bisexual community, erasure happens. All of the time. The recent uproar over American Apparel’s pride month tote bag is just the most recent example, but it’s a perfect one. And it’s ridiculous that even a full year after GLAAD publicly stated that A is for Asexual, Agender, & Aromantic, we’re still having the same argument.

Erasure is also one of the reasons I prefer MOGAI—marginalized orientations, gender alignments, and intersex—instead of LGBTQIAP+. First, it’s easier to say, but more importantly, it never changes. Letters, and therefore people, don’t get dropped. With an acronym as long as LGBTQIAP+, the end almost always disappears. A lot of people who aren’t deeply involved in the community have a hard time remembering any of the letters past Q, and have an even harder time remembering what those extra letters stand for. The belief that A is for ally is still pretty pervasive. It’s also one of the few letters that stands in for multiple sections of the community—asexual, aromantic, and agender—so even when the A is included in LGBTQIAP+, people don’t always agree on who is being represented.

What can authors do? Incorporate characters who fall on the asexual spectrum, even if they’re secondary characters. Give them full lives and interests outside of sexual relationships and give us the word in black and white. Make readers go look it up if they don’t know what it is, but don’t give them any wiggle room on interpretation. Don’t leave it implied. Find a way to work the word into the text, whether it’s demisexual, graysexual, asexual, or any other orientation under the ace umbrella. The solidity of that kind of representation is so important right now. Awareness is key to changing the way asexuality is viewed by the world.

What’s something you still dream of contributing to YA lit? (Can be as general or as specific as you like!)

At least one book that lives a lot longer than I do. It’s literally impossible for me to know if this will happen, but I sincerely hope that it does.

What’s the first ace representation you saw in any medium that really stuck with you, for better or for worse?

I wish I could remember the name of the book…so I could warn people away from it. Unfortunately, since I returned it right away, and I didn’t write the title down anywhere, I don’t have it. This story, while otherwise interesting, had a main character (we’ll call him Bill) who told the second (let’s call him Ted) that he was asexual. It was the first time I remembered ever seen a character say that in a book, and definitely the first time since I had discovered the orientation for myself. The noise I made upon seeing that in print was basically inhuman. But then the story continued. It was clear very quickly that Bill was not asexual. Bill was afraid of intimacy for various (very real) reasons, a virgin, and mistrustful of Ted. Due to all of those factors, Bill basically lied to Ted about being asexual. He used it as a stalling technique to give himself time to think.

It was the first representation of my orientation I saw, and it was used as a trick to keep someone else at bay. It was a lie. Bill was “fixed” with sex. It was awful.

It also strengthened my resolve to include as many different aces as I could in my own books.

What’s something you’ve seen in LGBTQIAP+ lit that’s really stuck with you, for better or for worse?

The way the community rallies. Whether it’s to promote a new story that is exceptional or to protect an author being harassed or to call out discrimination or awful representation when it’s presented as “good enough,” this community—especially in YA—is a beast. In the best way. It’s the dragon in a fantasy story that will curl up with the human who raised it and smilingly burn a would-be assailant to a stick of over-charred meat. I love the support I’ve seen and that I’ve gotten from this community, and I’m so happy to continue contributing to it.

What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads, and which ones are you most looking forward to?

The first I ever remember reading was in Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series. I was thrilled because Daja—who already reminded me of my best friend at the time—became even more of an accurate representation for my friend after she started crushing on girls. Sadly, it took a long time after that before I found any sort of representation that wasn’t a snarky, fashion-conscious Gay Best Friend character.

Recent years have made me so happy. I fell in love with books like Martyr by Alex Kahler (which is being relaunched in brilliant new form soon!) and None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio. I get to be champions of books like 27 Hours by Tristina Wright and bounce in anticipation of books like Timekeeper by Tara Sim, Marion by Ella Lyons, and Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst. This is a very exciting time to be part of the YA community and I can’t wait to see what the next few years will look like!

Where can people find more of your work on asexuality?

The first time I really wrote in detail about my asexuality was on DiversifYA in a great interview I did after meeting Marieke Nijkamp at RT 2015, but the piece I am pointing everyone to right now is the essay I recently wrote. Don’t Erase the Aces is a very personal story about my late discovery of asexuality and what not having access to that label meant in my life. On my site there is also an Asexuality Awareness page with useful links to both things I have written and outside sites with valid and valuable information. I am hoping to do a lot more in the future (I’ve applied for a TED Talk, so here’s hoping that happens). Honestly, I will likely spend the rest of my life talking about this, and I’m very okay with that.

Erica’s next book, Assassins: Discord, releases on September 5!
Buy it from: Riptide/Triton | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book DepositoryBooks-A-Million | IndieBound |

TBRainbow Alert #4

For those of you who feel like you’ve already read every LGBTQIAP+ book in existence, not to worry – there’s plenty still to come! Every TBRainbow Alert will have a mix of five LGBTQIAP+ titles to make sure are on your radar, along with three reasons why you should know them. If you missed the earlier alerts, you can check out those titles here. And now, the final TBRainbow Alert for 2016!

Title: Cherry (August 16)
Author: Lindsey Rosin
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: one of four MCs is bi
Why put it on your radar?
1. It really is a YA version of American Pie for girls
2. The friendships and honestly and awkwardness and all of that is so killer
3. This is the kind of book that has only just started getting queer POVs (see Tumbling by Caela Carter, Winning by Lara Deloza) and it’s so, so great. The romance is adorable and it has multiple on-page sex scenes between girls and even that elusive discussion about what constitutes sex between girls.

Title: Keeping Her Secret (August 23)
Author: Sarah Nicolas
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA Romance
Rainbow details: f/f
Why put it on your radar?
1. Contemporary f/f YA Romance! Sorry, is that not an auto-add for you somehow?
2. This seems like a book with kissing. I am a fan of such things.
3. You can read a delightful excerpt from it here!

Title: Bad Boy (December 6)
Author: Elliot Wake
Genre/Category: Contemporary
Rainbow details: trans male MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. Trans lit by trans authors is super rare and desperately needed, even more so by trans guys
2. Contains characters from author’s earlier works, so if you’ve been looking to see what they’re up to…
3. Wake has a solid track record of having books with the only rep of their kind on brick-and-mortar shelves.

Title: Overexposed (September 20)
Author: Megan Erickson
Genre/Category: Contemporary NA Romance
Rainbow details: m/m, LI is demisexual
Why put it on your radar?
1. Demisexuality on the page! Demisexuality on the page!
2. I love this series of Erickson’s, so it’s all instabuy to me.
3. Appalachian Trail setting and recurrence of a familiar character from Out of Frame

Title: Interborough (October 24)
Author: Santino Hassell
Genre/Category: Contemporary Romance
Rainbow details: m/m, one MC is bi
Why put it on your radar?
1. Contains the same characters as Sunset Park, which ordinarily wouldn’t be my thing, except…I’ve read Sunset Park. Yes. I will take another book of them, thanks. (And of course, if that is your kind of thing, this is a dream come true.)
2. I love this series of Hassell’s, so it’s all instabuy to me. (And yes, if that looks familiar above, you may be not at all surprised to learn their coauthored series is also instabuy to me. #sorrynotsorry)
3. On-page rep in m/m romance other than Gay is tough to find, so I love this series in particular for having bisexual Raymond, among others.

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!