Tag Archives: Syncopation

Guest Recs: Five Queer Rocker Romances from Syncopation Author Anna Zabo

You may recall Anna Zabo as being last month’s featured author. Well, today, they’re back on the site to celebrate their newest release, a rock star romance called Syncopation, by recommending some more queer rock star romances!

First, here’s the dirt on Syncopation:

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band sodoesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

Rare rep note: Zavier is aromantic pansexual.

And here are Anna’s recs!

To be honest, when writing Syncopation, I didn’t read too many rockstar romances beforehand, but I have read a few over the years, which probably informed some of my writing.

These are in no particular order, and I cheated with one of them.

Running with Scissors by LA Witt (m/m)

One of the things I loved about this book was the nitty gritty of touring, and also how band members can break apart and come together. It’s a redemption book of sorts, too.

Body Rocks by A. M. Arthur (m/m)

A hookup that leads to two members of rival bands falling for each other… heavy on the angst, but that’s rock stars for you!

Rock N’ Soul by Lauren Sattersby (m/m)

Road trips, a sarcastic ghost of a rock star, and love? What more could you ask for? This was a fun book.

Out Of Rhythm by Shona Husk (f/f)

Lovely novella about an Australian rock band back home from their first tour and struggling to develop their next album. Gemma Field is caught between the band, her parents thinking she should get a “real” job, and trying to mend her long-time friendship with Kirsten Vincent, who Gemma’s hopelessly in love with.

Perfect Imperfections by Cardeno C. (m/m)

Gentle romance between a very sheltered rock star and a bartender/adventure seeker who ends up playing the part of a fake boyfriend. Road Trip mixed with Out For You mixed with Fake Relationship!

Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. They live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.

Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. As a child they were heartily disappointed to discover that they couldn’t grow up to be what they wanted (a boy, a cat, a dragon), so they settled on being themself whenever possible, which may be a combination of a boy, a cat, and a dragon. Or perhaps a girl, a knight, and a writer. Depends on whom you ask. They do have a penchant for colorful ties and may be hording a small collection of cufflinks. They can be easily plied with coffee.

Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.

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New Releases: April 2018

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in L.A.) by Amy Spalding (3rd)

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Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?

But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)?

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

Syncopation by Anna Zabo (9th)

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

Buy it: Amazon

Lizzie by Dawn Ius (10th)

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Seventeen-year-old Lizzie Borden has never been kissed. Polite but painfully shy, Lizzie prefers to stay in the kitchen, where she can dream of becoming a chef and escape her reality. With tyrannical parents who force her to work at the family’s B&B and her blackout episodes—a medical condition that has plagued her since her first menstrual cycle—Lizzie longs for a life of freedom, the time and space to just figure out who she is and what she wants.

Enter the effervescent, unpredictable Bridget Sullivan. Bridget has joined the B&B’s staff as the new maid, and Lizzie is instantly drawn to her artistic style and free spirit—even her Star Wars obsession is kind of cute. The two of them forge bonds that quickly turn into something that’s maybe more than friendship.

But when her parents try to restrain Lizzie from living the life she wants, it sparks something in her that she can’t quite figure out. Her blackout episodes start getting worse, her instincts less and less reliable. Lizzie is angry, certainly, but she also feels like she’s going mad…

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

Past Tense by Star Spider (10th)

Julie Nolan is a pretty average girl with pretty average problems. She’s been in love with her best friend, Lorelei, ever since they met in grade three. Only Lorelei doesn’t know about it — she’s too busy trying to set Julie up with Henry, her ex, who Julie finds, in a word, vapid.

But life gets more complicated when Julie comes home to find her mother insisting that her heart is gone. Pretty soon it becomes clear: Julie’s mom believes that she has died.

How is Julie supposed to navigate her first year of high school now, while she’s making midnight trips to the graveyard to cover her mother with dirt, lay flowers and make up eulogies? And why is Henry the only person Julie feels comfortable turning to? If she wants to get through this, Julie’s going to have to find the strength she never knew she had, and to learn how to listen to both her mom’s heart and her own.

Buy it: Amazon Canada

Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian (17th)

The one you love…

Robert Selby is determined to see his sister make an advantageous match. But he has two problems: the Selbys have no connections or money and Robert is really a housemaid named Charity Church. She’s enjoyed every minute of her masquerade over the past six years, but she knows her pretense is nearing an end. Charity needs to see her beloved friend married well and then Robert Selby will disappear…forever.

May not be who you think…

Alistair, Marquess of Pembroke, has spent years repairing the estate ruined by his wastrel father, and nothing is more important than protecting his fortune and name. He shouldn’t be so beguiled by the charming young man who shows up on his doorstep asking for favors. And he certainly shouldn’t be thinking of all the disreputable things he’d like to do to the impertinent scamp.

But is who you need…

When Charity’s true nature is revealed, Alistair knows he can’t marry a scandalous woman in breeches, and Charity isn’t about to lace herself into a corset and play a respectable miss. Can these stubborn souls learn to sacrifice what they’ve always wanted for a love that is more than they could have imagined?

Buy it: Amazon

Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships by Juno Roche (19th)

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In this frank, funny and poignant book, transgender activist Juno Roche discusses sex, desire and dating with leading figures from the trans and non-binary community. Calling out prejudices and inspiring readers to explore their own concepts of intimacy and sexuality, the first-hand accounts celebrate the wonder and potential of trans bodies and push at the boundaries of how society views gender, sexuality and relationships. Empowering and necessary, this collection shows all trans people deserve to feel brave, beautiful and sexy.

Buy it: B&N *Amazon

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (24th)

31180248Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * BAM * IndieBound

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig (24th)

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life.

It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get much worse, right?

But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox—but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.

Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Better Know an Author: Anna Zabo

Today on the site I’m psyched to be talking to Anna Zabo, brilliant author of m/m romance, who’s recently added Polyam to their repertoire. Please welcome them to talk about their newest release, their infamous Takeover series, and what comes next!

Let’s jump right into your newest release! Polyam romances are one of the most common rec requests on the LGBTQReads Tumblr. What can readers expect from Outside the Lines? And might they see more polyam romance from you in the future?

35528567Outside the Lines is a polyam romance between a married couple, Lydia and Simon, and a gay man, Ian. It’s a polyam V relationship rather than a triad—at least sexually. Ian comes to love Lydia, but he’s not sexually attracted to her. But they all develop bonds with each other and become a family.

I would like to write more polyam romances! I love exploring relationships and families that aren’t seen as often in romance. I probably will eventually write a triad romance, and I would love to write a sprawling queer polyam saga along the lines of Kris Ripper’s Scientific Methods books (meaning with the same found family feel!) but I need to find the right characters and plot for that.

You also sold two new books this year, to Carina, about a queer rock band! What can you share with us about Syncopation?

37648566Oh, I loved writing Syncopation! I’ve wanted to write rock stars for a while and loved the idea of the struggle of an up-and-coming band getting jerked around by their manager and label. I also wanted the book not to be about a band-member coming out to the public. So members of Twisted Wishes, the band in the book, are openly queer.

The main focus of the books is between Ray, the lead singer and composer/song writer, and their new drummer Zavier. Zav also happens to be the guy Ray had a complete crush on in high school and invited to join his band all those years ago. Zavier was bound for Julliard, and said no. But he’s recently quit his job as a timpanist, and he’s come to admire Ray and Twisted wishes, so he auditions for the band.

Ray finds Zavier insufferably sexy and is furious that he’s exactly the drummer the group needs. Zavier admires Ray and the band and seeks out a friendship that eventually turns to something more in unexpected ways for both of them. Ray’s gay. Zavier is pansexual and aromantic, and also kinky. (Zav remains aromantic, despite getting his HEA in his own way on his terms. That was important to me.)

In the interest of making sure everyone’s in the know about your superhot m/m office romances, the Takeover series, can you give us a little background on the universe? Is there a story, setting, or character who’s particularly close to your heart?

The background to Takeover—working in high tech, Michael’s job at a routing company, and that company being bought be another—all came about as a way to give a company like the one I invested eleven years of my life (and that was ultimately bought and closed) the ending I would have liked. Then it grew into something else—a story of Pittsburgh and co-workers and queer people living around one another and supporting each other.

23213982I have a soft spot for all the characters in the Takeover Series, but the character who far and away steals my heart each time is Eli Ovadia, one of the main characters from Just Business. There’s so many layers to him. He’s so shaped by his past, but also fights hard to make sure it doesn’t define him completely. He’s strong, yet surprisingly vulnerable, and he knows this. He’s a Dom and a sadist who absolutely will cry and cuddle with his cat when he’s feeling down. He loves and protects his friends, sometimes at the expense of himself. He has a lot of hope to give, but often keeps none for himself. I could write about Eli for ages.

You rereleased your Paranormal Romance Close Quarter this past August following the closure of Loose Id. How was taking the book on your own? Is there anything you can share about the upcoming sequel?

35534292It was good experience to re-read and edit Close Quarter. The writing held up pretty well, all things considered, and I still love the world-building. Going through the process of working with a cover designer and learning KDP and CreateSpace was eye-opening. I learned that I can do this myself, but I also learned I don’t necessarily want to for every book. There are time benefits to working with publishers.

But I will be putting out the sequel this year. No Quarter Given will focus on just how Silas and Rhys upset the balance of power in the fae community in New York City when they return together. It’ll also be quite a bit about all those things Rhys had been avoiding, including a past lover and the press. As well as the things he’s searching for—who he really is.

One of my favorite things you did this past year was run #RRWTalk, a Twitter chat for writers of queer romance specifically. Why do you think it’s important to discuss queer romance separately, and did anything from those chats particularly stick out to you?

One of the things that stuck out was that there is a section of folks for whom LGBT = m/m and there’s also a section of folks for whom it does NOT. And that there are vibrant important queer stories that need and should be read and written that aren’t m/m. Happy Ever Afters are for everyone under the rainbow.

While we’re on the topic of queer romance, who are your go-to authors within? What books would you love to give a shout, especially if you feel like they’re criminally underread?

I’ve been talking about this series a lot lately, but Kris Ripper’s Scientific Methods series. It’s a kinky, poly sprawling found family series that includes all kinds of queer people. Multi-racial. Different genders, including genderqueer and trans characters. The first book is Catalyst, but I warn you, it’s one that hooks you in and suddenly, it’s a week later and you’ve read all…I think there’s 13 books now… and you look around and you wonder what happened.

Another thing I’ve seen you discuss that I really admire is how your writing helped you realize you’re non-binary. It’s sort of one of my greatest interests, for personal reasons and otherwise, how writing LGBTQA lit can really help people work through both gender and sexuality, and I think we see it a lot more with authors who are AFAB. Any thoughts you’re comfortable discussing?

Huh. This is a hard one for me because I’m not sure I have fully formed thoughts about it. Some are too deeply emotional to put into words. What writing did for me was give me a safe place to peel back my psyche, pluck some aspects out, plunk them in other people, and see what happened. I could explore bits of me in bodies that weren’t the one I was born with, and that was so liberating.

I’m not wholly any one of my characters, but there are aspects of me in all of them.

And by exploring me in others and seeing them live authentically, even if it was in fiction, I learned a lot about me in me, and could start taking steps to live my own life more authentically.

I know this isn’t related to books or whatever, but something I see non-binary people struggling with often is finding great clothing, and you dress dapper as hell. Got any great clothing tips? What’s your favorite thing in your closet?

I think the main thing is to find clothes your comfortable in! I love button-downs and bow-ties. But I know that’s not everyone’s thing.

If you’re just starting to build a wardrobe or are aching to dress in clothes that don’t conform to the gender other people think you are, a good place to start shopping is thrift stores. My first suit came from a thrift store and I bought it in October, because no one looks at you strangely when you buy gender non-conforming clothes near Halloween.

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

Sometimes people want the perfect representation of an identity. Like the perfect trans character or the perfect bisexual or the perfect representation of asexuality. And…people aren’t perfect. There’s no perfect rep. What works for someone as the model trans experience might be nothing like another trans person’s experience. People are messy. Rep is going to be messy too. Sometimes queer people hurt other queer people over rep. I really hope we can allow ourselves to be messy.

Since you’re kicking off the new year for us: what are you really excited about in queer lit coming up in 2018? And where do you hope this year takes you?

One of the books I’m most excited about is Cat Sebastian’s Unmasked by the Marquess. It looks like a regency m/f romance, but it is SO so so sooooo queer. SO queer. As Cat puts it:

“It’s the story of a servant who dresses as a man to impersonate her employer, realizes she doesn’t identify as a woman anymore, and accidentally falls in love with a prickly bisexual aristocrat. Featuring: spectacles, lemon drops, and a kitten.”

I beta read an early draft and I loved it. I cannot wait for it to be unleashed unto the world. My only regret is that I know m/m-only readers will skip this one because one LI isn’t a man and they will miss out on a story that rivals the best m/m I have ever read.

As for where 2018 takes me? Well, I’ll be writing my first non-binary character this year. We’ll see how well I do!

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headshots-anna-zabo-1Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.

Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.

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