Tag Archives: Ryan O’Connell

Happy Disability Pride Month 2022!

Books to Read Now

The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath

It’s 1904 on an island just west of Norway, and Asta Hedstrom doesn’t want to marry her odious betrothed, Nils. But her mother believes she should be grateful for the possibility of any domestic future, given her single-sided deafness, unconventional appearance, and even stranger notions. Asta would rather spend her life performing in the village theater with her fellow outcasts: her best friend Gunnar Fuglestad and his secret boyfriend, wealthy Erlend Fournier.

But the situation takes a dire turn when Nils lashes out in jealousy—gravely injuring Gunnar. Shunning marriage for good, Asta moves with Gunnar and Erlend to their secluded cabin above town. With few ties left to their families, they have one shot at gaining enough kroner to secure their way of life: win the village’s annual horse race.

Despite Gunnar’s increasing misgivings, Asta and Erlend intend to prove this unheard-of arrangement will succeed. Asta trains as a blacksmith; Erlend cares for recovering Gunnar. But as race day approaches, the villagers’ hateful ignorance only grows stronger. With this year’s competition proving dangerous for the trio, Asta and Erlend soon find they face another equally deadly peril: the possibility of losing Gunnar, and their found family, forever.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp

End the game before it ends you.

For five friends, it was supposed to be one last getaway before they went their separate ways—a time to say goodbye to each other, and to the game they’ve been playing for the past 3 years. But they all have their own demons to deal with and they’re all hiding secrets.

Finn hasn’t been able to trust anyone since he was attacked a few months ago. Popular girl Liva saw it happen and did nothing to stop it. Maddy was in an accident that destroyed her sports career. Carter is drowning under the weight of his family’s expectations. Ever wants to keep the game going for as long as they can, at all costs.

And things take a deadly twist when the game turns against them.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore

Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate.

Then the lines between air and water begin to blur. The world under the lake drifts above the surface. If Bastián and Lore don’t want it bringing their secrets to the surface with it, they have to stop it, and to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years, and working together means trusting each other with the very things they’re trying to hide.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Run by Kody Keplinger

23613983Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter — protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and — worst of all — confronting some ugly secrets.

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Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley

Owen Turner is a boy of too many words. For years, they all stayed inside his head and he barely spoke—until he met Lily. Lily, the girl who gave him his voice, helped him come out as bi, and settle into his ASD diagnosis. But everything unravels when someone reports Owen’s biggest secret to the school: that he was sexually assaulted at a class event.

As officials begin interviewing students to get to the bottom of things, rumors about an assault flood the school hallways. No one knows it happened to Owen, and he’s afraid of what will happen if his name gets out. He’s afraid that his classmates will call him a word he can’t stand—“victim.” He’s afraid his father, a tough-as-nails military vet, will resort to extreme methods to hunt down the name of who did it. And he’s afraid that when Lily finds out, she’ll take their relationship to a dark, dangerous place to keep Owen quiet. Then, one day, Owen’s fears all come true. And it will take everything he’s got to escape the explosion intact.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Panpocalypse by Carley Moore

In COVID pandemic-era New York City, Orpheus manages to buy a bicycle just before they sell out across the city. She takes to the streets looking for Eurydice, the first woman she fell in love with, who also broke her heart. The city is largely closed and on lockdown, devoid of touch, connection, and community. But Orpheus hears of a mysterious underground bar Le Monocle, fashioned after the lesbian club of the same name in 1930s Paris.

Will Orpheus be able to find it? Will she ever be allowed to love again? Panpocalypse—first published as an online serial in spring of 2020—follows a lonely, disabled, poly hero in this novel about disease, decay, love, and revolution.

Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Just By Looking at Him by Ryan O’Connell

Elliott appears to be living the dream as a successful TV writer with a doting boyfriend. But behind his Instagram filter of a life, he’s grappling with an intensifying alcohol addiction, he can’t seem to stop cheating on his boyfriend with various sex workers, and his cerebral palsy is making him feel like gay Shrek.

After falling down a rabbit hole of sex, drinking, and Hollywood backstabbing, Elliott decides to limp his way towards redemption. But facing your demons is easier said than done.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West z”l

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In this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together.

Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

Buy it: Amazon | Gumroad

Stake Sauce by RoAnna Sylver

Act 2, In Which: Our friends, some old and some new, must awaken a powerful, centuries-old magical force – before an old enemy gets there first…

Life for Jude is finally getting back to normal – or as normal as it gets when your new boyfriend has fangs, your old maybe-boyfriend isn’t dead after all (and has even bigger fangs), and everyone’s scrambling to adjust their lives accordingly.

There’s enough to worry about without evil, ancient vampires closing in, preparing dark rituals, and threatening to undo everything Jude, Pixie, and their loved ones have built together. But as they’ve all seen, normal doesn’t tend to last for long. And it’s hard to shake the feeling that something’s missing.

But then, it seems like everybody’s missing somebody.

Buy it: Amazon | itch.io

All in the Family by Q. Kelly

13361448Allison Albrecht and Samantha Cannizarro are thrown together when their parents become engaged. Sam is deaf, so Allison begins to learn sign language. Allison is eager to please Sam and to make a good impression on her. Sam does not care about good impressions. She is a loner, always has been. She resents her new instant family, especially her stepmother-to-be. Sam is also reluctant to bond with three-year-old Allen. However, Allison and Allen gradually crack Sam’s facade, and the two girls fall in love.

But life in a stepfamily is rarely easy. Throw in romance between two stepsiblings, and the ride is going to be bumpy.

Buy it: Amazon

The Unbroken by C.L. Clark

Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Eight Kinky Nights by Xan West z”l

A femme kink expert who recently realized something new about her own sexuality…

Leah, a 51 year old fat Jewish queer femme, is an experienced submissive who recently came to terms with being gray ace and is trying to figure out how to rework her life and relationships in a way that more fully honors her gray aceness: as a kink educator, as a sex shop owner, and as a polyamorous kinky person with multiple ongoing play relationships.

A newly single butch who wants to finally explore her dominance…

Her best friend Jordan, a 49 year old fat disabled Jewish pansexual stone butch with PTSD, is newly divorced, has just gotten an awesome new job, moved to NYC and is subletting a room in Leah’s apartment. After years of vanilla monogamous marriage, Jordan wants to explore kink and polyamory. Jordan devoted her adult life to parenting her younger sister and building a home with her wife, and now she is going after what she wants, which may even include making a move on Leah after all these years.

Eight kink lessons between friends…

Leah offers Jordan eight kink lessons, one for each night of Chanukah, to help Jordan find her feet as a novice dominant, certain that they can keep it friendly and educational. After all, she’s been keeping her kink life casual for years. Why would this be different?

Buy it: Gumroad

Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas

thomasIn Samsboro, Kentucky, Kalyn Spence’s name is inseparable from the brutal murder her father committed when he was a teenager. Forced to return to town, Kalyn must attend school under a pseudonym . . . or face the lingering anger of Samsboro’s citizens, who refuse to forget the crime.

Gus Peake has never had the luxury of redefining himself. A Samsboro native, he’s either known as the “disabled kid” because of his cerebral palsy, or as the kid whose dad was murdered. Gus just wants to be known as himself.

When Gus meets Kalyn, her frankness is refreshing, and they form a deep friendship. Until their families’ pasts emerge. And when the accepted version of the truth is questioned, Kalyn and Gus are caught in the center of a national uproar. Can they break free from a legacy of inherited lies and chart their own paths forward?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

25014114When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | Books of Wonder

Books to Add to Your TBR

February 2021 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

Emmy-nominated writer, actor, and producer of Netflix’s Special Ryan O’Connell‘s JUST BY LOOKING AT HIM, in which a gay TV writer with cerebral palsy who, despite his perfect boyfriend, can’t stop cheating with a sex worker while in search of something bigger, to Michelle Herrera Mulligan at Atria, at auction, for publication in spring 2022, by Kent Wolf at Neon Literary (NA).

Alexis Hall‘s ROUGH RIDE and FOOL’S GOLD, the next two installments in the award-winning SPIRES series, along with the first four previously-published books and LOOKING FOR GROUP, as well as HUSBAND MATERIAL and THE AMNESIA PLOT, two additional LGBTQIA+ romances in the BOYFRIEND MATERIAL universe, to Mary Altman at Sourcebooks Casablanca, by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary.

Montana MFA Jules Ohman‘s BODY GRAMMAR, pitched as a queer SWEETBITTER set against the backdrop of the glamorous but grueling modeling industry, in which a young woman discovers herself, what it means to live in her body, and how to let herself find love, to Anna Kaufman at Vintage, in an exclusive submission, by Dan Conaway at Writers House (NA).

Author of ON HELL and the nonfiction collection MINERVA THE MISCARRIAGE OF THE BRAIN, artist, and musician Johanna Hedva‘s YOUR LOVE IS NOT GOOD, set in the Berlin and Los Angeles art worlds, following a queer biracial Korean American painter on the precipice of success as she struggles to reconcile her ambitions, her growing debt, and her complicated relationship to whiteness with her support for a boycott of museums and galleries for their racist and imperialist practices, to Jeremy Davies at And Other Stories, by Clare Mao at Europa Content (world English).

Lambda Award and Charles Johnson Fiction Award-winning author of the story collection BLUE TALK AND LOVE Mecca Jamilah Sullivan‘s MORE OF EVERYTHING, about an African American girl growing up in 1990s Harlem, grappling with the stigma of obesity passed down through three generations of women in her family, who comes to terms with her self-image and her sexuality against the backdrop of Harlem’s changing landscape, pitched as a fictional counterpart to Roxanne Gay’s HUNGER, to Gina Iaquinta at Liveright, at auction, for publication in summer 2022, by Janet Silver at Aevitas Creative Management (NA).

Griffin Prize winner Billy-Ray Belcourt’s A MINOR CHORUS, in which a queer Indigenous doctoral student steps away from his dissertation to conduct research in his northern hometown for what he hopes will be a novel about how to live a beautiful life; he has a series of intimate encounters with friends, lovers, and elders that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief, to Mo Crist at Norton, at auction, for publication in fall 2022, by Stephanie Sinclair at CookeMcDermid (US).

KJ Charles‘s THE DOOMSDAY BOOKS, a duo of gay Regency romances about aristocrats, smugglers, and spies on the Kent coast, to Mary Altman at Sourcebooks, in a two-book deal, by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary (world).

Maya Deane’s WRATH GODDESS SING, an #OwnVoices trans women’s literary epic fantasy pitched as reimagining of the Iliad, wherein Athena recruits the young trans heroine Achilles to defeat the omnipotent Helen and her Olympian enablers before she drowns the world in human sacrifice, pitched as a mash-up of N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy and Madeline Miller’s SONG OF ACHILLES, to David Pomerico at William Morrow, by Jason Yarn at Jason Yarn Literary Agency (world).

Paulette Kennedy‘s PARTING THE VEIL, in which a scandalous Gilded Age heiress marries a British lord with a tragic past, only to discover dark family secrets hidden within his haunted manor, pitched in the vein of The Clockmaker’s Daughter meets the queer-inclusive fiction of Sarah Waters, to Jodi Warshaw at Lake Union Publishing, for publication in fall 2021, by Jill Marr at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency (world).

Caribbean-English-American writer David Santos Donaldson‘s GREENLAND, a literary ghost story in which a Black gay writer who is on an obsessive quest to get published, seeks to find his own voice while writing a novel about the forbidden real-life love affair between E.M. Forster and the young Black Egyptian train conductor Mohammed el-Adl, as he becomes gradually more and more possessed by Mohammed’s spirit which is coming alive in him as he writes, drawing on magical realism and exploring issues of racism, psychological manipulation, and identity, to Tara Parsons at Amistad, in a pre-empt, for publication in spring 2022, by Tom Miller at Liza Dawson Associates (world English).

Cornell University Press production editor and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund award recipient Jennifer Savran Kelly‘s ENDPAPERS, about a genderfluid bookbinder in 2003 New York, whose discovery of a queer love letter written on the back of an old lesbian pulp cover and hidden in the binding of a book pushes them to venture out of the safe world they’ve built as they track down the letter’s author, reexamine their own ill-fitting relationship, and use their art to explore what it means to live authentically, to Abby Muller at Algonquin, by Trevor Ketner at Ladderbird Literary Agency (world English).

Author of PETITE MORT Beatrice Hitchman‘s ALL OF YOU EVERY SINGLE ONE, set in a queer bohemian enclave of Vienna in 1910-1946, about three women and the lengths they’ll go to protect the ones they love, to Chelsea Cutchens at Overlook, for publication in January 2022, by Laura Macdougall at United Agents (NA).

Children’s/Middle Grade Fiction

Queer mixed media artist from Washington and #DVpit success story Ashley Ferguson‘s Middle Grade graphic novel MY GIRLFRIEND THE WITCH, in which the narrator has disappeared into fanfiction ever since coming out as queer, and escapes to a magical world, finding it easier than making new friends or dealing with “supportive” parents who don’t “get” him, to Michele McAvoy at Blue Bronco, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2023 (world).

Debut author Katryn Bury‘s DREW LECLAIR GETS A CLUE, pitched as a modern-day, queer HARRIET THE SPY, in which a true crime-obsessed girl decides to catch a cyberbully by profiling all of the bullies in her grade, and discovers that family, friendship, and sexual identity are the hardest mysteries to solve, to Emilia Rhodes at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2022, by Chelsea Eberly at Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA).

Young Adult Fiction

Mason Deaver‘s THE FEELING OF FALLING IN LOVE, in which a boy’s non-relationship ends right before his mother’s latest wedding so he enlists the prep school roommate he barely tolerates to pose as his boyfriend only for their temporary alliance to turn into something much more, to David Levithan and Jeffrey West at Scholastic, in a two-book deal, by Lauren Abramo at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (NA).

Author of BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR and the forthcoming IN THE RAVENOUS DARK AdriAnne Strickland‘s COURT OF THE UNDYING SEASONS, about a reluctant initiate to a school for vampires trying to survive the deadly politics of her kingdom’s blood-drinking rulers, her sexy-but-hostile mentor, and a string of student murders, to Rachel Diebel at Feiwel and Friends, for publication in 2023, by Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates (world).

Rebecca Mix‘s debut THE ONES WE BURN, a Sapphic YA fantasy in which a blood witch’s mission to assassinate the prince she is betrothed to is compromised by the discovery of a deadly plague—and by the beautiful princess intent on stopping it, to Alyza Liu at Margaret K. McElderry Books, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2022, by Kiana Nguyen at Donald Maass Literary Agency (world English).

Author of GHOST WOOD SONG and the forthcoming THE RIVER HAS TEETH Erica Waters‘s THE RESTLESS DARK, in which two girls join forces in a macabre true crime contest to find the missing bones of a killer in the nightmarish fogs of Cloudkiss Canyon, but when their search morphs into a hunt for a monster in their midst, the girls must ask themselves—is the fog to blame for what’s happening in the canyon, or are they?, to Alice Jerman at Harper Teen, in a good deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2022, by Lauren Spieller at TriadaUS Literary Agency (NA).

Author of REVERIE and BE DAZZLED Ryan La Sala‘s THE HONEYS, pitched as Heathers meets Midsommar set at an exclusive overnight camp in the Catskills, to Zack Clark at Scholastic, in a good deal, at auction, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2022, by Veronica Park at Fuse Literary (world English).

Non-Fiction

Married writer/photographer team Hannah Murphy and Billie Winter’s QUEER POWER COUPLES, a photographic celebration of queer intimacy and excellence, to Natalie Butterfield at Chronicle, for publication in spring 2023 (world).

LGBTQ human rights activist Angeline Jackson and Susan McClelland’s THE POWER OF ONE PERSON, with its title chosen from President Obama’s public address about Jackson’s ordeal and efforts, the true story from Jackson’s POV as a young girl and rape survivor, coming to terms with her sexuality and forging ahead to create safe spaces and unprecedented support for LGBTQ communities in Jamaica, to Scott Fraser at Dundurn Press, in a nice deal, for publication in the fall of 2022, by Rob Firing at Transatlantic Literary Agency (world).

NEA fellow and author of three poetry collections Emma Bolden’s THE TIGER AND THE CAGE, a debut memoir connecting a personal narrative of endometriosis, chronic pain, and asexuality to a long history of women being treated as curiosities and hysterical unreliable narrators of their own bodies and experiences, to Sarah Lyn Rogers at Soft Skull, for publication in fall 2022, by Cassie Mannes Murray at Howland Literary (world).