Tag Archives: f/f

Why My First Novel Couldn’t Be Anything But #ownvoices: a Guest Post by Naomi Tajedler

Today on the site we have guest post from Naomi Tajedler, author of the recently released Concerto in Chroma Major. Naomi’s here to talk about her book’s being #ownvoices, which, for those who don’t know, is a term that was coined by author Corinne Duyvis to refer to work written by an author who shares the marginalized identity (or identities) of their main character.

Before we get to the post, here’s some info on the book:

Alexandra Graff, a Californian living in Paris, is a stained-glass artist whose synesthesia gifts her with the ability to see sounds in the form of colors. When she is commissioned to create glass panels for the new Philharmonie, she forms a special bond with the intriguing Halina Piotrowski, a famous Polish pianist. As their relationship develops, Alexandra shows Halina the beautiful images her music inspires. But when it comes to a lasting future together, will Halina’s fear of roots and commitment stand in the way?

Buy it!

And here’s the post!

***

Like many xennial authors, my first creative writing came in the form of fanfiction. This medium turned out to be exactly what I needed to figure out what I wanted to read, what I wanted to write, and how to create my own characters. More importantly, it gave me the courage to write the stories I felt needed to be told, to express the voices I needed to be heard.

It’s at this starting point in my career as an author that I turned to YA. Not only did an opportunity to take this leap into original fiction came in the shape of an anthology (at Duet Books, Interlude Press’ YA imprint), but I felt like the very first time I wanted to write a story all of my own, I needed to write it for Past Me. For the teenager I used to be. For her insecurities, for her doubts, for her pains, for what she didn’t know but unconsciously set her apart from her peers.

Fourteen-year old me needed a story telling her that no matter what, if she stayed true to herself, the people around her would still love her. Thus What The Heart Wants was born.

The story of a young girl who discovers that Straight may not be her norm was a story I could have used at Noam’s age. I could also have used the story of someone who doesn’t fit “normal” beauty standards and yet is loved and crushed on. I could also have used, at some point in my development as a woman who is still questioning herself, the story of someone who refuses to date simply because it is “expected” of her.

Writing Noam’s coming of age story came to me pretty naturally, because my teenage self, back when I wrote it, was bursting at the seams to come back into my life, with all the strength, rage and loudmouth adulthood had tamed into silence.

Writing this short story unlocked the door I had unconsciously closed on my plot bunnies. Stories I had told myself, funny and adventurous. Stories I had daydreamed about while studying and / or working.

Then the time came to think about what would be next, and I decided that I needed to write, well, for me now. For the adult I had become in spite of, or thanks to, the heartbreaks and pains.

Writing Concerto in Chroma Major took me a while, because a short story is not a novel, and writing for adults is not the same challenge as writing for young adults, obviously.

Parallelly to writing this story is when I started therapy, and some sessions were dedicated to that process. Unconsciously, a lot of it infused this story, which is why it cannot suit a young adult audience. It’s not that young adults cannot deal with darker themes, not at all. There are challenges, ideas, we face in Life later on and an insight that demands years to step back from the situation and look at it differently to accept someone else’s point of view.

Through the story, I realized that I projected a lot of who I am into my characters: Halina has my independence, my wanderlust, my love for art; Alexandra has my synesthesia, my fatness, my views on Judaism and how to be Jewish, my romantic identity. She also represents the woman I aim to be: more confident in myself and my body, more at ease with herself and her pursuit of romance, more comfortable with confrontations too.

Concerto in Chroma Major is #ownvoices in many ways. Through it, I express my voice as a fat, bisexual, Jewish woman, all communities that need more representation from within.

No one can claim to speak for an entire community, but I do know that my voice is one representation within a more global picture.

***

Born and raised in Paris, France, Naomi Tajedler learned to love art from the womb when her father played guitar to her pregnant mother. Her love for books led her to a Bachelor of Arts in Book Restoration and Conservation, followed by a Master’s Degree in Art market  management. Her first short story, “What The Heart Wants”, was published in Summer Love (2015), an LGBTQ Young Adult collection by Duet Books. When not writing, Naomi can be found sharing body positive tips on social media and trying recipes out on her loved ones.

Twitter handle: @Naomi_Tajedler
Advertisements

Fave Five: LGBTQP MG/YA Set at Summer Camp

Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Nothing Happened by Molly Booth

Keeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicolas

Lunaside by JL Douglas

On a Summer Night by Gabriel D. Vidrine

New Releases: July 2018

Criminal Intentions: The Cardigans by Cole McCade (8th)

This is the first episode in a brand-new serial. You can also get it via the author’s Patreon.

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

When a string of young queer men turn up dead in grisly murders, all signs point to the ex-boyfriend—but what should be an open-and-shut case is fraught with tension when BPD homicide detective Malcolm Khalaji joins up with a partner he never wanted. Rigid, ice-cold, and a stickler for the rules, Seong-Jae Yoon is a watchful presence whose obstinacy and unpredictability constantly remind Malcolm why he prefers to work alone. Seong-Jae may be stunningly attractive, a man who moves like a graceful, lethal bird of prey…but he’s as impossible to decipher as this case.

And if Malcolm doesn’t find the key to unravel both in time, another vulnerable young victim may end up dead.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Baltimore homicide detective Malcolm Khalaji has his own way of doing things: quiet, methodical, logical, effective, not always particularly legal. He’s used to working alone—and the last thing he needs is a new partner ten years his junior.

Especially one like Seong-Jae Yoon.

Icy. Willful. Detached. Stubborn. Seong-Jae is all that and more, impossible to work with and headstrong enough to get them both killed…if they don’t kill each other first. Foxlike and sullen, Seong-Jae’s disdainful beauty conceals a smoldering and ferocious temper, and as he and Malcolm clash the sparks between them build until neither can tell the difference between loathing and desire.

But as bodies pile up at their feet a string of strange, seemingly unrelated murders takes a bizarre turn, leading them deeper and deeper into Baltimore’s criminal underworld. Every death carries a dangerous message, another in a trail of breadcrumbs that can only end in blood.

Malcolm and Seong-Jae must combine their wits against an unseen killer and trace the unsettling murders to their source. Together, they’ll descend the darkest pathways of a twisted mind—and discover just how deep the rabbit hole goes. And if they can’t learn to trust each other?

Neither will make it out alive.

Buy it: Amazon

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White (10th)

This is the third and final book in the And I Darken series.

22817368Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it?

Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before–including her relationships–can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

Buy It: B&N * Amazon 

Concerto in Chroma Major by Naomi Tajedler (12th)

Alexandra Graff, a Californian living in Paris, is a stained-glass artist whose synesthesia gives her the ability to see sounds in the form of colors. When she’s commissioned to create glass panels for the new Philharmonie, she forms a special bond with the intriguing Halina Piotrowski, a famous Polish pianist. As their relationship develops, Alexandra shows Halina the beautiful images her music inspires. But when it comes to a lasting future together, will Halina’s fear of roots and commitment stand in the way?

Buy it: Interlude Press

Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie (17th)

33382313Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor’s salary isn’t enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she’s from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha’s and Key’s paths collide, and the two must learn to work together–a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

Over And Over Again by Cole McCade (24th) 

OverandOverAgain6x9A ring of braided grass. A promise. Ten years of separation.

And memories of an innocent love with the power to last through time.

When Luca Ward was five years old, he swore he would love Imre Claybourne forever. Years later, that promise holds true—and when Luca finds himself shipped off to Imre’s North Yorkshire goat farm in disgrace, long-buried feelings flare back to life when he finds, in Imre, the same patiently stoic gentle giant he’d loved as a boy. The lines around Imre’s eyes may be deeper, the once-black night of his hair silvered to steel and stone…but he’s still the same slow-moving mountain of a man whose quiet-spoken warmth, gentle hands, and deep ties to his Roma heritage have always, to Luca, meant home.

The problem?

Imre is more than twice Luca’s age.

And Luca’s father’s best friend.

Yet if Imre is everything Luca remembered, for Imre this hot-eyed, fey young man is nothing of the boy he knew. Gone is the child, replaced by a vivid man whose fettered spirit is spinning, searching for north, his heart a thing of wild sweet pure emotion that draws Imre into the compelling fire of Luca’s frustrated passions. That fragile heart means everything to Imre—and he’ll do anything to protect it.

Even if it means distancing himself, when the years between them are a chasm Imre doesn’t know how to cross.

But can he resist the allure in cat-green eyes when Luca places his trembling heart in Imre’s hands…and begs for his love, over and over again?

Buy It: Amazon

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown!

Please excuse me while I go full fangirl, but if you’ve spent any time asking for recs on the LGBTQReads Tumblr, you know that Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit falls out of my mouth about twelve times a day. So how psyched am I to be revealing the cover of Jaye Robin Brown‘s next f/f YA, The Meaning of Birds, which releases on April 16, 2019?? (Very. Is that not obvious? I’m sorry, I thought it was obvious.) Here’s the story behind the story:

Before:
Ever since her father’s death, Jessica has struggled with the anger building inside her. And being one of the only out teens in school hadn’t helped matters. But come sophomore year, all that changes when effervescent Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. Suddenly the future is a blank canvas, filled with possibilities.

After:
In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased in an instant when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from another devastating loss, Jess falls back into her old ways. She gets into fights. She pushes away her family and friends. And she trashes her plans for art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.
 
Desperate to escape her grief, Jess finds solace in her gritty work-study program, letting her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Jess may never draw again, but if she can find room in her heart to heal, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself.

And here’s the most excellent cover, designed by Jessie Gang with illustrations by Elliana Esquivel!

The Meaning of Birds releases from Harper on April 16, 2019!

Jaye Robin Brownor JRo to her friends, has been many things in her life–jeweler, mediator, high school art teacher–but is now living the full-time writer life. She currently lives in New England but is taking her partner, dog, and horses back south to a house in the woods where she hopes to live happily ever after. She is the author of NO PLACE TO FALL, GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT, and the forthcoming, THE MEANING OF BIRDS which releases 4/16/19.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Of Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst!

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst was one of the first traditionally published f/f YA fantasies, so there’s no question it’s made its mark in queer book world, especially with its heavy emphasis on romance and lightness and a Happily Ever After. But if you’ve been dying for even more Denna and Mare, you are so in luck: today we’re revealing the cover for the sequel, Of Ice and Shadows!

OfIceandShadows_JKT

Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.

But just after Mare and Denna arrive in Zumorda, an attack on a border town changes everything. Mare’s diplomatic mission is now urgent: She must quickly broker an alliance with the Zumordan queen to protect her homeland. However, the queen has no interest in allying with other kingdoms—it’s Denna’s untamed but powerful magic that catches her eye. The queen offers to teach Denna herself, and both girls know it would be dangerous to refuse.

As Denna’s powers grow stronger, Mare does her best to be the ambassador her kingdom needs. Her knowledge of Zumorda and its people grows, and so too do her suspicions about the queen’s intentions. With rising tensions and unexpected betrayals putting Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerging on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?

***

And now here’s the cover, designed by Michelle Taormina with art by Jacob Eisinger and guaranteed to look stunning next to the first book!

OfIceandShadows_JKT.JPG

Of Ice And Shadows will be released on March 5, 2019. Pre-order it today at B&N, IndieBound, or Amazon!

***

ACauthorphoto2.jpg
Evrim Icoz Photography

Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse. She lives in Santa Monica, California. http://audreycoulthurst.com/

 

Guest Recs From Erin Ptah: Webcomics With Interspecies F/F Romance

It’s been a while since the last webcomic-rec roundup…mostly because I started to have trouble coming up with themes where I haven’t recced all my favorite examples already.

But Pride Month means promo posts all over Twitter and Tumblr, which means I’ve had a deluge of new recs to go through, and now you get to enjoy the results. Especially if you like robots, demons, aliens, and/or furries. This set is part fantasy, part sci-fi, and all wlw.

Today’s theme is: Webcomics with interspecies f/f romance!


sample-poppy

(1) Poppy O’Possum by I. Everett

Poppy O’Possum is a story about a mother named Poppy Odeletta Possum who lives on a world called Flora and wants nothing more than to retire to a comfortable homemaking life with her daughter, Lily. Unfortunately, living’s especially rough on Flora when you’re an opossum, and Poppy’s a regular trouble magnet. She’s moved to a little town in the Fenneclands called Eggton to try and start a new, low-profile life. This fails immediately.

Fantasy comedy-adventure, ongoing. It’s heartwarming. It’s funny. It also has some of the most engaging and complicated magical worldbuilding I’ve ever read, which gets revealed layer by layer. The main relevant part at first is that opossums are the only animals that nullify magic — which is very inconvenient when magic is the foundation of most of your tech, transportation, healthcare, and society in general.

So Poppy and her daughter are dealing with a lot of prejudice, suspicion, and avoidance. Fortunately, Poppy is ridiculously buff, strong, and durable. As long as she has ways to earn money by punching things, she’ll manage.

The rest of the cast is delightful too. There’s some cool exploration of fantasy-world disability, like the guard who uses a magical-construct prosthetic to replace a missing arm. LGBT+ characters keep popping up in the ensemble, including a fashion-designer Shiba Inu drag queen. And when one of Poppy’s friends suspects her of having a secret romance, it’s scandalous, but not because they’re both women — it’s all “b-but you’re an opossum and she’s the Queen.”

(The Queen is an adorable perky fennec magic chemist, and they are actually dating now, and I ship them like it’s my job.)


sample-starwardlovers

(2) Starward Lovers by Miki B.

A piping hot f/f love story about longing and space aliens.

Sci-fi drama, ongoing. Cute shy butch falls for glamorous cool femme…who turns out to be a secret-agent alien fighter. Cute shy butch (Jen) gets drawn into hot space-warrior femme’s (Revonda’s) team of adventurers. (These two are human, but there are other human/alien pairings along the way.) Hot space-warrior appears stoic and closed-off, especially compared to her more gregarious teammates…but could she have more going on under the surface?

The art is slick and clean; the shading is deceptively minimalist, but used to great effect. Jen is cute and likeable, while Revonda’s style is clearly “lesbian femme” as distinct from “conventionally-attractive straight woman”, which is something a lot of artists (self included) have a hard time pulling off.

I should mention that this one sat in my “do I like it enough to rec?” pile for a long time. A few chapters later, it shot up to “rec this to everyone you possibly can.” Without spoiling anything specific, there were things in the writing that were off-putting when it wasn’t clear if they were intentional, and then it turned out yes, yes they were. So even if the early chapters don’t grab you, stick with it. There’s payoff.


sample-k6bd

(3) Kill 6 Billon Demons by Abaddon (Tom Parkinson-Morgan)

Sorority sister Allison Ruth must travel to Throne, the ancient city at the center of the multiverse, in an epic bid to save her boyfriend from the clutches of the seven evil kings that rule creation.

Fantasy drama, ongoing. When a supernatural event barges through Allison’s dorm room, her boyfriend gets kidnapped and she ends up in a hell-dimension with a world-conquering magic key stuck in her forehead. At first she spends a lot of time getting dragged around and expositioned at by nominally-helpful entities who don’t want the key ending up in the wrong hands.

The amount of detail in the art is breathtaking, both in the characters — even one-off background figures — and in the urban demonic landscapes. They’re full of levels and lights and eerie architecture…frequently incorporating the stony mountain-sized bodies of earlier beings. I don’t even want to think about how long a single page must take to draw.

Eventually our heroine decides to seize the unexpected new power and go save the boyfriend, largely because nobody else is gonna do it. Along the way she ends up with more-substantial feelings for one of her female allies — a group that includes a law-enforcement angel with gender issues and an ex-monster-crimelord demon who writes fanfiction. Bonus: the fact that Allison is a long-time Sailor Moon fan is a reocurring plot element.

Heads-up, this one includes graphic violence/injury. Along with most of the other content you’d expect from a strip about demons being demons.


sample-circuitsandveins.png

(4) Circuits and Veins by Jem Yoshioka

Androids and Humans, are we really so different? Navigating chronic illness, prejudice and a new relationship, two awkward dorks are trying to understand each other.

Sci-fi romance, ongoing. Aki is a virtual-reality pet designer, working from home in between flare-ups. Ai is an underemployed android, a model old enough to have experienced the AI rights revolution, who just moved in next door.

There’s some ongoing tension from Aki’s chronic pain and a recent breakup, and Ai’s body starting to show that it’s past its warranty date. But mostly it’s fluff, both women occupied with cute texting, pet-sitting, housewarming gifts, job shenanigans, and getting to know each other.


sample-patchworklace

(5) Patchwork and Lace by Sooz

An adventure/romance about a Lovecraftian Disney Princess mage and her flesh golem partner in monster hunting. It’s about ladies fightin monsters and havin dark pasts and general relationship stuff.

Fantasy adventure, ongoing. Sheol’s a golem with super-strength. Lilika’s a talented human magician with a frilly fashion sense. They travel the world, hunting monsters and adoring each other.

Most of the pages so far involve the first storyline, which wrapped up relatively recently. An entire cave temple was sealed off to protect the town from the results of a summoning gone bad, and our heroines are asked to safely retrieve the bodies. After all, it’s been long enough that no one is still alive in there…right?

(Heads-up for death, PTSD, and discussion of sexual assault.)

Sheol and Lilika refer to each other as “friends” in public — possibly in response to homophobia (we haven’t seen any other open same-sex couples), possibly because a golem being in a relationship with any human would seem weird and threatening to people who don’t know her. Either way, they save the romantic stuff for when nobody else is around.


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (including human/battle-monster f/f) and Leif & Thorn (no human/vampire f/f yet, but stick around). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

New Release Spotlight: When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

Is there anything more exciting than when a major publisher puts out a queer book and people are actually going to be able to find it on bookshelves in stores?? My God, how sad that that is still so exciting, but let’s be real, it is. In When Katie Met Cassidy, Camille Perri’s sophomore novel, which releases on June 19, 2018, we get an extremely cute, low-angst lesbian romance between a woman who’d thought she was straight and an extremely dapper lifetime lesbian, who go from being professional adversaries to half-reluctant friends to, well. You should read it. Again and again and again.

Katie Daniels is a perfection-seeking 28-year-old lawyer living the New York dream. She’s engaged to charming art curator Paul Michael, has successfully made her way up the ladder at a multinational law firm and has a hold on apartments in Soho and the West Village. Suffice it to say, she has come a long way from her Kentucky upbringing.

But the rug is swept from under Katie when she is suddenly dumped by her fiance, Paul Michael, leaving her devastated and completely lost. On a whim, she agrees to have a drink with Cassidy Price-a self-assured, sexually promiscuous woman she meets at work. The two form a newfound friendship, which soon brings into question everything Katie thought she knew about sex—and love.

When Katie Met Cassidy is a romantic comedy that explores how, as a culture, while we may have come a long way in terms of gender equality, a woman’s capacity for an entitlement to sexual pleasure still remain entirely taboo. This novel tackles the question: Why, when it comes to female sexuality, are so few women figuring out what they want and then going out and doing it.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

Author-Blogger M. Hollis Presents Two Writers Making Brazilian F/F Happen!

I’m extremely excited to welcome author-blogger M. Hollis back to the site today with a very cool post on Brazilian f/f writers. It doesn’t really need any introduction, so I’m gonna shove off and let Maria take it away!

***

There is something about growing up without seeing yourself on any kind of media that alienates you from the world. It makes you feel like something is wrong with you. One of my most poignant memories from my teenage years was watching my friends just talking to each other and feeling like they were speaking in another language I couldn’t understand. And then being left behind.

It took me until my twenties to understand what was this barrier that existed between me and most of the other teenage girls. I like girls. In a sexual, romantic, any kind of way. I want to kiss women, marry women, have the epic love story with women. When my friends talked about wanting these things with men, I felt uncomfortable, broken, alone.

I didn’t know I could like women when I was as a teenager. Of course I knew gay people existed, but I didn’t know I was allowed to be like them. The first time I’ve heard the full acronym LGBTQIAP+ was in college and I only read my first F/F book a few years ago. So when I started writing my own fiction many years ago they were completely different from the stories I write today.

Brazilian television, books, any kind of media we have, doesn’t treat us LGBTQIAP+ folks in the best way. For many years, we were censored from telenovelas, and until today, any kind of kiss between people of the same gender is received with some rage from part of our society.

But change is happening. In the first days of 2018, Malhação, the biggest teenage TV Show on national TV with more than 20 years of running, had its first kiss between two women. And this change is happening in books too. Authors like Olívia Pilar and Solaine Chioro have been publishing stories with diversity that are finally giving young LGBTQIAP+ Brazilian people a mirror where they can see themselves. Reading their stories made me feel so incredibly happy. It was like finding everything I was looking for all these years. It can be great to read books about other people from other countries, but there is nothing like finding Brazilian characters who are living similar things I live.

There is a call for intersectionality that is clearly growing online to give marginalized readers and creators their own space. It’s a slow change. But it’s a change that I’m happy to be a part of.

I hope that this next Brazilian generation can have all the books they deserve. I hope that it makes them feel less alone. That we can keep fighting to make our media more inclusive and that we can provide every day more forms of representation for all kinds of people.

I talked to some other YA Brazilian writers and I’m glad to have Olívia Pilar and Mareska Cruz sharing a bit about their own journey in writing their stories.

Olívia Pilar

Photo taken from author’s website

Being a writer wasn’t always a dream or something that I wanted as a kid. I always liked to write, always loved words, but also thought that writing wasn’t for me. And then I graduated in Journalism. I thought that was the career I wanted to pursue. I thought that was what I wanted to write. And it wasn’t until the beginning of 2017 that I realised that what I liked to write weren’t articles or news or notes. It was fiction, that maybe had a little bit of reality — or not. I wanted to write about real people, but not exactly people that exist.

My first adventure into fiction was writing a fanfiction with a friend — it was a Camren story, the most popular ship from the girl band Fifth Harmony. It was my friend’s idea and I dove into it with her. According to her, it was the best way to practice my writing skills. I was a little lost by then, I didn’t know what to do with my life, so at least it was a good way to distract myself. And it worked! Little by little, I was able to get more comfortable, to understand the characters better — fanfic isn’t really easy, because you need to work with something that already exists.

Now our fanfiction — still being written — has more than 137k readings on Wattpad, but the best thing in this story (a fictional universe where Camila Cabello is a Brazilian girl from Rio de Janeiro and Lauren Jauregui is an American girl studying abroad) gave me was the courage to actually write something and show it to another person. The almost immediate feedback that was made possible by the platform was also a way to tell myself that I had potential.

My second work was a short-story created exclusively for a contest. I didn’t win, but I saw the bright side of joining in. It was the beginning of my path as a writer. This first story, “Dia de Domingo” (Sunday’s Day), was published later on Amazon. Before, I published “Entre estantes” (Between Shelves) and “Tempo ao tempo” (Time To Time), also on Amazon, and my first novel on Wattpad, “Dois a Dois” (2×2, a reference to soccer plays).

My path as a writer is still short (it has been almost a year since I first published my short story), not so long as others young writers, but as a bisexual Black woman (it’s important to say that), I can say it’s been amazing. I met a lot of people — from publishing or not —, got a lot of messages and every day, my feeling of belonging grows. It’s what I was looking for, back in 2010 when I started college. Did I find it in Journalism? Yes, but not as much as I feel right now.

I can also say the publishing world has been good to me. I’m still an indie author that doesn’t have a complete novel published, but the reception was so good that, for me, it was already worth it. I didn’t think that writing love stories about other bisexual women (most of them black) would take me to the top of Amazon best-selling list for weeks, but it did. My three short-stories are always on Amazon Top 5 of LGBT YA Fiction. They are there and being read.

But I’m not naïve. I know it’s a long road. I know that, like me, there are other girls that write f/f fiction that will never have courage to share their stories with the world,  because our whole lives people tell us that they don’t matter. But they are as important as any other story. And it’s the messages from readers saying, “I saw myself in your short-story” that give me strength to keep going. To see what waits for me in the corner. To take risks. To share my stories. To show my characters to the world.

It started with a fanfiction, but it could have started in any other way. I think the most important is to start. Even though you think no one will read, even if it’s only for you. I don’t think the industry is totally open to some of our stories yet, but we don’t need to hide because of it. We need to put them out in the world and let them be seen.

You can find and support Olívia Pilar here!

Mareska Cruz

I always liked writing and the desire to one day be a Writer (with the uppercase W) was always there, silent, but it used to be satiated with short texts. I never managed to stretch a story beyond the usual 10,000 words that I always wrote on NaNoWriMo before setting the project aside. One day I met the person who told me “let’s do something about this”, and we talked, and suddenly, I had something I never thought I would have: I had a novel. It existed. And then came another novel, which is still in the process of editing, but it was yet another victory. After this came a Christmas short story, my first published work in a collection, and with it came the realization that the desire to be a Writer was slowly becoming real. With it, there also came the notion of responsibility I have in this process: with the story I want to tell, with the people who will read it, and with myself.

It was only in my early twenties that I understood that what I felt wasn’t really a phase, or something that could be pushed aside. It couldn’t be pushed aside, and even I didn’t want to push it. When I was younger, I didn’t care about seeing only a part of me in the protagonists that I loved, because I didn’t know I could have it any other way. The time it took me to understand myself as a bisexual woman coincided with the moment I started to think about what kind of writer I wanted to be, and what kind of stories I wanted to tell. I wanted LGBTQ+ characters, happy with their sexuality and their relationships, living their lives with good and bad moments, but even more than that—I wanted those characters to EXIST. As protagonists, being the center of their stories, and not only being the token gay friend allowed in a sea of straight characters.

When my Christmas story was published I saw a lot of readers happily commenting the fact that my main character is a bisexual girl with a reciprocated crush on her best friend, I knew I was on the right path. Young-adult literature in Brazil and even the editorial market in general is just beginning to be open to more stories with LGBTQ+ main characters, but it’s still very slow, testing its ground. I still long for more main characters who identify as lesbian, bisexual, trans, and ace. I know our path is very long, but I’m excited that I get to be a part of this. It’s my gift to teenage me: “you’ve spent your whole life without seeing yourself. Now you can.”

Find and support Mareska Cruz here!

***

M. Hollis is a Brazilian writer working on stories about women who love other women while also running Bibliosapphic, a blog dedicated to sapphic literature. In her free time, you will always find her baking, reading fanfiction and binge-watching too many TV shows. Currently, she is living her best gay life in Canada and writing more than she sleeps.

Backlist Book of the Month: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Zoraida Cordova’s fabulous second novel in the Brooklyn Brujas series, Bruja Born, might not be queer, but the first one sure is, and it’s fabulous! The perfect rec for fantasy fans who love magic, f/f, happiness, present family, zero queer-related angst, and, yes, love triangles done well, whether or not you plan to pick up Bruja Born tomorrow, definitely pick up Labyrinth Lost today!

(Left to right: Hardcover, Paperback, Paperback redesign)

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone. 

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * IndieBound * iTunes * Kobo * Audible

Backlist Book of the Month: Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley

I’ve had the joy of recommending this book probably at least once a week since I read it, because fluffy f/f YA can be super hard to come by (as is also a running joke in this delightful rom com) and this is one of the cutest, sweetest, most fun ones you will ever read. Dating Sarah Cooper was written before the MTV show Faking It, but imagine that show had had an HEA for the characters instead and you’d basically have this book. Sound fabulous? It is. Best friends-to-lovers at its finest! (And as a bonus, you definitely want to get to know this author, who’s one of the best YA self-pubbers on the market and has a nice and affordable backlist!)

Katie Hammontree and Sarah Cooper have been best friends since the 2nd grade. Katie’s welcoming, tight-knit family is a convenient substitute for Sarah when her distant parents aren’t around, and Sarah’s abrasive, goal-oriented personality gels well with Katie’s more laid-back approach to life.

But when a misunderstanding leads to the two of them being mistaken for a couple and Sarah uses the situation to her advantage, Katie finds herself on a roller coaster ride of ambiguous sexuality and confusing feelings. How far will Sarah go to keep up the charade, and why does kissing her make Katie feel more alive than kissing her ex-boyfriend Austin ever did? And how will their new circle of gay friends react when the truth comes out?

Buy it: Amazon (ebook and paperback) * B&N (paperback only)