Tag Archives: Transgender

New Releases: October 4, 2016

Big YA Release Day! Two of these are among my favorite reads of the year (that’s not shade re: the third; I just haven’t read it yet!) and I’m not online to enthuse about them allllll day because it’s Rosh Hashana, so I need other people to buy and read them immediately so we can gush about them for the rest of the week!

When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna-Marie McLemore

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When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Buy it: AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-a-MillionIndieBoundPowell’s

Last Seen Leaving, by Caleb Roehrig

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Flynn’s girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Look Past, by Eric Devine

Someone brutally murdered Mary Mathison, daughter of a prominent and very conservative local pastor. Whoever it was is now taunting Avery, a transgender boy, with disturbing messages, claiming that Mary’s murder was revenge for her relationship with Avery. The killer’s demands are simple and horrific: Avery must repent for changing his gender identity, or he will be the next one killed.

Can Avery deny who he is to catch Mary’s killer? Or will sacrificing himself be the ultimate betrayal?

Buy it: Amazon * IndieBound

The Colorful Catalog of…Shira Glassman!

Hello and welcome to The Colorful Catalog, which 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 delighted to showcase the colorful catalog of Shira Glassman, queer indie rec-er extraordinaire and seriously prolific authoress of all things LGBTQAP. As a bonus, you get to stock up on a whole bunch of Jewish queer lit right before Rosh Hashana! Everybody wins!

Hi! I’m Shira Glassman, and today I’m going to play for you the first movement of the sonata for unaccompanied violin by Arthur Honegger—

Wait, sorry, wrong opening line! I’m sure most of you know me, if you know me at all, from my fantasy series, but since this is a backlist guide: did you know I’ve written two contemporary romance novellas, too? The theme of both is borrowed from my orchestral life. Fearless is about a band mom who falls for an orchestra teacher while everyone is snowed in at All-State, a cute butch lady who might just get her to pick up the violin again after a twenty-year lapse. Lioness in Blue is about the bi girl who sits second oboe, whose flirtation with the hot, beardy older man who sits first oboe finally leads to affirming, mildly femdom-y sex.

Now that I’ve satisfied the people who aren’t interested in SFF: on to The Mangoverse! My series originally started as a combination of three needs: a way to cope with the unexpected loss of my father, a lifelong hunger for f/f princess fairytales (when I was A Tiny we didn’t have K.S. Trenten’s Fairest or Audrey Colthurst’s Of Fire and Stars), and wanting to see love instead of conflict between The Hero and The Dragon—which is relatively easy to find nowadays, but not so much in the 80’s. Every book in the series was written to stand alone, and just be separate but sequential adventures about the same characters, but I have no idea if I succeeded at that so you may want to read reviews.

Another important note is that the main character has problems digesting gluten and some of the proteins found in poultry, and her chief romance is with a palace cook who becomes her personal chef as well as her partner.

The first in the series is The Second Mango (hey, kids, never put the word “second” in the first book in a series. Whoops!) in which a nerdy lesbian named Shulamit inherits her father’s throne suddenly at a far too young and sheltered age to know How to Queen. By the end of the book she’s started to figure her shit out, and has acquired a nice solid Found Family to cherish, including a bi girlfriend. The focus of the book is on solidifying her friendship with her new hetero demi bodyguard Rivka while they ride around having adventures. Rivka’s got a significant romantic arc in the book, too, if you’re looking for demi m/f.

Climbing the Date Palm picks up three years later, where Kaveh, a “bi prince from next door” begs Queen Shulamit for help rescuing his labor activist boyfriend Farzin from a trumped-up treason charge. Apparently King Jahandar didn’t like it when his son fell in love with the guy who stood up to him about wage theft. Oops! Shulamit is determined to find a way to help that won’t involve war, even though Rivka is chomping at the bit. This one includes a poly aromantic cat-shifter and is based on real local events in my home county, in which activist friends of mine fought to establish an ordinance that since its inception (around the time I wrote the book) has recovered around 45 thousand dollars in stolen wages from employers.

A Harvest of Ripe Figs shows Shulamit solving mysteries in her capital city as part of her royal obligation toward justice, while she and her partner Aviva raise the baby princess. A celebrity violinist’s instrument is stolen just after her performance, and it quickly turns into a more general security problem as Shulamit comes to realize illegal magic may have been used to disguise the theft.

The Olive Conspiracy just came out this summer. Shulamit uncovers an international plot to tank her country’s economy by sabotaging their agriculture, their main source of strength. What’s worse, the beautiful straight foreign princess she crushed on as a teenager might be behind it. This one features a new lesbian couple—some farmers she helps when they’re about to lose everything—and a heroic elderly trans woman. I had a good time contrasting Shulamit’s healthy, loving relationship with her partner as an adult with the intensity and one-sided torture of her crush at sixteen. The book has adventure, lots of dragon screen-time, three bi characters, three lesbians, and a rescue kitten.

There are also short stories! If you buy Figs and Olives in paperback, you’ll get all the short stories included, but if you buy the eBooks, the short stories are included separately in a volume called Tales from Perach. There are seven of them all together, and they give some of the supporting characters (like the lesbian farmers or the trans woman chef) an opportunity to take center stage, or recount one of Rivka’s adventures on the road with only her dragon companion before Shulamit hired her. (Rivka’s story features her rescuing an aro ace “damsel in distress”, so if that’s special to you, don’t miss “Rivka in Port Saltspray.”)

As a final note at the end, veering away from Mangoverse again, I do have some erotic shorts available online. “Eitan’s Chord” is a Chanukah fairy threesome, about magic to bless a young, impoverished trans m/cis f couple one winter. “Wet Nails“—ignore the cover; it was part of an anthology and I can’t control that for now—is paranormal sex between two bi women, a lonely grad student and the ghost of her favorite glamorous 1950’s Hollywood actress. “Treasure Hunt” is about two guards who get sent into a dragon’s cave to steal treasure. They doubt the dragon’s existence and use the opportunity to eat lunch and fool around, but the dragon…. is watching.

All of the above focus on Jewish characters and often have holidays and other rituals woven into the text. Mine are worlds where religion and the queer soul are completely compatible—with a note to my non-religious readers that with the exception of some of the Tales from Perach shorts, the Jewishness is more focused on the secular culture than the religion itself. My warrior woman Rivka’s native language is Yiddish, for example.

My one published work so far that doesn’t include anything Jewish is my anti-biphobia short “The Artist and the Devil,” about an art teacher who becomes increasingly suspicious that his businessman crush is actually Satan. I’ll leave it up to you to read and figure out if it counts as contemporary romance or paranormal, because categorizing it under those conditions would be a spoiler! 😉

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Shira Glassman is a violinist living in Florida with a very good human and a very bad cat. She is best known for writing fluffy queer fantasy that draws inspiration from her tropical upbringing, Jewish heritage and present life, and French and German operas. She believes that we need infinite princess, dragon, and superhero stories for all the demographics who never got to play those roles when she was little; some of the ones she’s written have made it to the finals of the Bi Book Awards and Golden Crown Literary Society awards. Her latest is The Olive Conspiracy, about a queen and her found-family saving their country’s agriculture from a foreign plot.

New Releases: September 20, 2016

As you can proooobably tell, I know LGBTQIAP+ YA better than anything else, so I’m still catching up to the rest, but I do know today’s got some cool-sounding releases in other categories, so check out this variety of new releases out today!

Overexposed by Megan Erickson

28490317Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he’d planned to do with his sister.

His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs…

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

The Yelp: A Heartbreak in Reviews by Chase Compton

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When Chase Compton met the love of his life at a dirty dive bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he had no idea how far from comfort the relationship would take him. Their story played out at every chic restaurant, café, and bar in downtown New York City. Ravenous hunger, it seemed, was their mutual attraction to one another—until suddenly the appetite was spoiled, and Chase was left to pick up the pieces of a romance gone wrong.

Left high, dry, and starving for affection (and cheeseburgers), Chase turned to an unlikely audience in a moment of desperation: Yelp.com. Detailed in the Yelp reviews is the story of how to survive a broken heart. Every meal and cocktail shared is a reminder of times spent with the ever elusive “Him.” In recounting the bites devoured and the drunken fits of passion that propelled the relationship, the author chronicles his whirlwind relationship with the man of his dreams, revisiting the key places where the couple ate, drank, and fell in and out of love in the West Village and beyond.

The Yelp is a memoir of personal transformation and self-realization, or more simply—a memoir of food and love, played out on a map of modern Manhattan’s culinary scene. The book includes the original twenty-eight Yelp reviews, with interwoven narrative chapters that provide context, insight, and delight to Chase’s story.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

28371999Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his teammates, to Josh, and to his new crush, Madeline. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

And, coming tomorrow:

Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver

26020617Celosia Brennan was supposed to be a hero. After a spectacular failure that cost her people their freedom, she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance at redemption. Together with a gifted team of rebels, she not only sets her sights on freedom, but defeating her personal demons along the way.

Now branded a failure, Celosia desperately volunteers for the next mission: taking down the corrupt Council with a team of her fellow elementally gifted mages. Leading the Ember Operative gives Celosia her last hope at redemption. They seek to overthrow the Council once and for all, this time bringing the fight to Valeria, the largest city under the Council’s iron grip. But Celosia’s new teammates don’t trust her—except for Ianthe, a powerful Ice Elementalist who happens to believe in second chances.

With Council spies, uncontrolled magic, and the distraction of unexpected love, Celosia will have to win the trust of her teammates and push her abilities to the breaking point to complete the Ember Operative. Except if she falters this time, there won’t be any Elementalists left to stop the Council from taking over not just her country, but their entire world.

Buy it: Torquere * B&N

LGBTQIAP+ YAs Available in Audio

In the last two Shopper’s Delight posts, the accessibility focus was on finances. Today’s post is on a different form of accessibility – those who require (or even simply prefer) audiobooks. To that end, here are a whole bunch of LGBTQIAP+ YA books available in audio! (Please note that Adult books have their own Gay & Lesbian category, which is why I’m not doing a post on that here. YA does not.)

Male Protags

  • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (CD * Audible)
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (Audible)
  • Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle (CD * Audible)
  • Drag Teen by Jeffery Self (Audible)
  • Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (CD * Audible)
  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva (CD * Audible)
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (CD * Audible)
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (CD * Audible)
  • Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (CD * Audible)
  • Boy meets Boy by David Levithan (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (CD * Audible)
  • And I Darken by Kiersten White (CD * Audible)
  • Proxy by Alex London (Audible)
  • Hero by Perry Moore (MP3 CD * Audible)

Female Protags

  • This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Ash by Malinda Lo (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Huntress by Malinda Lo (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (CD * Audible)
  • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Audible)
  • Unbecoming by Jenny Downham (Audible)
  • None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (Audible)
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (Audible)
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (CD * Audible)
  • Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (CD * Audible)
  • Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan (CD * Audible)
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Audible)
  • Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (CD * Audible)
  • Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters (CD * Audible)
  • Empress of the World by Sara Ryan (Audible)
  • Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton (Audible)

Male and Female Protags

  • You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour (CD * Audible)
  • As I Descended by Robin Talley (CD * Audible)

Non-Binary Protags

Contemp F/F Romances Under Five Bucks

If you shop for f/f Romance a decent amount, you’ve probably noticed that it tends to be waaaay pricier than m/m or m/f, so, in yet another round of helping you queer up your shelves (or your Kindle) on a budget, here are ten f/f Romances (NA and up; you can find YA here) that are all under five bucks (with thanks to Vanessa North for the help and the inspiration!):

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The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins ($2.99)

Roller Girl by Vanessa North ($3.99)

The Final Rose by Eliza Lentzki ($3.99)

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler ($3.99)

The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer ($3.99)

Something True by Karelia Stetz-Waters ($3.99)

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon ($4.99)

The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper ($4.99)

Such a Pretty Face by Gabrielle Goldsby ($4.99)

Top to Bottom by Delphine Dryden ($4.99)

Fave Five: Adult Romances with Trans Male MCs

A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde (Contemporary m/m)

What it Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger (Contemporary m/m)

Bad Boy by Elliot Wake (Contemporary m/f)

The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz (Contemporary m/m)

A Matter of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman (Steampunk m/m)

Bonus: The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper, coming October 31, 2016

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New Release Spotlight: Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time (An LGBT and Two-Spirit Sci-Fi Anthology)

As soon as this anthology was brought to my attention (h/t Lex Leone!) I reached out to the editor, Hope Nicholson, and asked if the authors would be open to contributing a little information about their stories. So, please check out the book itself below (only $5.00!) and then see what the authors have to say about their contributions to this cool-as-hell antho.

31560094Love Beyond, Body, Space, and Time is a collection of indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBT and two-spirit characters. These stories range from a transgender woman trying an experimental transition medication to young lovers separated through decades and meeting far in their own future. These are stories of machines and magic, love, and self-love.

This collection features prose stories by:
Cherie Dimaline “The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy,” “Red Rooms”
Gwen Benaway “Ceremonies for the Dead”
David Robertson “Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story,” Tales From Big Spirit series
Richard Van Camp “The Lesser Blessed,” “Three Feathers”
Mari Kurisato “Celia’s Song,” “Bent Box”
Nathan Adler “Wrist”
Daniel Heath Justice “The Way of Thorn and Thunder: The Kynship Chronicles”
Darcie Little Badger “Nkásht íí, The Sea Under Texas”
Cleo Keahna
And an introduction by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair “Manitowapow,” with a foreword by Grace Dillon “Walking the Clouds”.
Edited by Hope Nicholson “Moonshot,” “The Secret Loves of Geek Girls”

Buy it: Kindle * Paperback
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Gwen Benaway

I wrote “Transition” because I wanted to see a 1st person narrative of an Indigenous transwoman in the world. I can’t remember ever reading a narrative with an Indigenous transwoman as the main voice, so it felt important to centre us as active subjects in literature. Another part of my desire was to also challenge Western models of becoming “female.” The transgender specific narratives I encounter are often about the medical process of transitioning like surgeries or hormones, but I am interested in exploring what transitioning means in an Indigenous context. We know there was Indigenous transwoman before contact in most Indigenous nations. I often wish I could call up those transgender aunties and ask them “what was it like for you?”. For them, transitioning must have been very different. Being female would have meant something different. They certainly were not going on hormones, removing body hair, or having surgeries, but they were also very clearly perceived and lived as women in our societies.

It is empowering for me to imagine a process of transitioning which is not about morphing our biological bodies, but about reclaiming our souls. Being transgender for Indigenous transwomen is spiritual. Our teachings say it comes from our relationship to the earth and the world around us. It’s intrinsically who we are and we demonstrate our femininity through our actions and responsibilities, not our appearance. In the context of this story, I wanted to place ceremony and Western science side by side and have a main character who works through her gender via both. I cheat a little and fall strongly on the side of her gender coming through her ancestors, but the idea of her female ancestors reaching out to her to guide her into womanhood is a really beautiful and loving image for me. She’s not “changing” her gender. She is reconnecting to who she has always been: an Indigenous woman interwoven into a web of powerful Indigenous women which stretches across time and space.

David Robertson

You don’t always get the opportunity to write a story that involves an LGBT couple, has one character that is Indigenous, and, oh yeah, is sci-fi. Needless to say, it was an amazing and challenging experience to write “Perfectly You.” I wanted to write a love story that felt real in an unreal setting, that didn’t fall into cliche or stereotype, and that was surprising in its narrative, rather than in the sexual orientation or cultural background of its protagonist. In the end, for me, “Perfectly You” really is saying that love is love, and love is timeless.

Richard Van Camp

“Aliens” was a fun piece to write. I believe that this is my third piece of writing as a woman and I’m proud to have placed this story in Fort Smith, my home town. I’ve always had a “what if?” story about aliens, as in, “What if they just showed up and stayed? What would we do?” I didn’t want this story to be about the Sky People as beings. I wanted this to be about the Sky People as a symbol of never being able to go back to the way humanity was before: I also wanted there to be hope with the gentle bubbling of the oceans. I pray that, in this story, the Sky People are coming to help and teach us what we need to get along and heal our planet together. I also wanted this to be a love story. I love it when friendships break down and people start making out. Mah! 🙂

When you listen to the hunters and trappers, so many of them have stories of seeing UFO’s and I believe them. This was a joy to write and I’m grateful to Hope Nicholson for asking me to create something for “Love Beyond Body, Space and Time.” Mahsi cho!

You’ll notice that I dedicated this story to Carla Ulrich. Carla is a director, producer, writer and actor from the North who has adapted three of my books and turned them into movies: “Hickey Gone Wrong”, “Three Feathers” and “The Blue Raven.” I’m so grateful for her and her vision in all that she does. The least I could do is dedicate a story to her.

“Aliens” is now the first story in my new short story collection manuscript “Moccasin Square Gardens” because it has such a playful spirit.

Mahsi.

Mari Kurisato

Imposter Syndrome is the short story of Aanji, a noncitizen artificial life-form who is desperate to escape a grim fate, using her human ancestors’ memories. Set several (hundred?) years after the events of Escape Light, it details one person’s attempt to reclaim her soul. It’s also very autobiographical in some spots, which is why I’m nervous and pleased as punch that the wonderful Hope L. Nicholson is publishing it, alongside amazing Indigenous authors like Doctor Darcie Little Badger, Daniel Heath Justice, Nathan Adler, Gwen Benaway, and Cherie Dimaline.

Nathan Adler

“Valediction at The Star View Motel” is about relationships, and death, and meteor-showers, and messages from beyond the grave, it’s about one of the strongest and lightest materials in the world, spider’s-silk, and love, and connection across time and space. The story started with the two characters—Edie and Mushkeg—and I knew they had this back-story forming, waiting to be told, so when Hope approached me about contributing to this Anthology, I thought this story would be a good fit, and that maybe it was time to write the story of how Edie and Mushkeg met.

Daniel Heath Justice

Hummingbirds fascinate me. They possess a kind of wild, fierce beauty you don’t see in other creatures; they’re brave, bold, temperamental, and dramatic. In so many ways, they embody a courageous certainty of self, and I wanted to capture some of this spirit in a story for those on the margins (especially queer and two-spirit Indigenous folks) who are coming to an understanding of their own special beauty but see too few examples to help inspire their struggle. This world isn’t kind to those who are different; we know this too well. But that’s only because of human prejudices—the rest of the world is teeming with strange beauty.

I drew a bit of inspiration from the Cherokee story about Hummingbird and how sacred tobacco came to heal the People through the skill and cleverness of a medicine man. He put on a feathered cloak and became a hummingbird to steal the plant from an island of selfish, murderous giants. But there are many different kinds of healing, and there are many different kinds of medicine. To me this is a story of love and self-acceptance, and the beauty that inhabits so many of us but is so often denied.

Darcie Little Badger

At its core, Né łe is a lighthearted story about lesbians and puppies in space. Perhaps counterintuitively, I – a horror fanatic – enjoy writing sweet comedies. That said, Né łe contains sad themes that are familiar to my tribe and many others, particularly dispossession. Her longing for a stolen home drives the Apache protagonist of Né łe to Mars.

As a final note, the Watson to my Holmes is a Navajo veterinarian; their guidance enabled me to write the sci-fi veterinary scenes in Né łe. I’m extremely grateful!

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Hope Nicholson is the publisher of Bedside Press and comics historian. Her latest book is a collection of indigenous science fiction and fantasy stories starring queer and two-spirit characters. She also works in reprinted work bringing attention to lost comics.

Guest Post: Recommendations for Polyamory in Fiction, by Shira Glassman

For those unfamiliar with Shira Glassman, she’s not only an author of some of the queerest fantasy around, but also my super go-to person when it comes to tough-to-find queer rep. (Her encyclopedic brain for indie queer lit is unmatched. Seriously.) So when I was getting requests for poly fic, I knew who to beg for a guest post of recs, and as always, Shira delivered!

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I don’t seek out poly specifically for its own sake, but I have nothing against it, so when it pops up in my LGBT reading searches I’ll read anything that suits my plot, demographics, and setting preferences just as I would with a two-person romance. For those unfamiliar with me in general, my preferences tend toward f/f, fiction with trans people, older men, cultural diversity (especially Jewish stuff), “found family”, costume drama, high fantasy, science fiction, and anything having to do with Central Europe or Florida. As such, here are the top recs from my poly shelf on Goodreads, at least two of which were finalists in the most recent Bi Book Awards:

She Whom I Love by Tess Bowery. Configuration: f/f/m triad; all parties involved with each other, although one of the women is pretty explicitly described, in period-appropriate equivalent terms, as homoromantic bisexual and is in love with the other woman whereas she’s only sexually interested in the man. The setting is Regency England and the book is unusual for a Regency romance not only in its poly triad but in the fact that all three characters are members of the working class: you have a corset maker, a lady’s maid, and an actress (which back then was not treated like royalty the way it is today.) Two women who have been friends since girlhood realize they’re in love with each other just about the same time they start a flirtation with a certain man. When they realize it’s the same man, they play a trick on him for revenge and then the next thing he knows he’s got two girlfriends. This is that story you want if you’re that person who gets frustrated at love triangles and says “why can’t they just ALL DATE?” The book’s main conflict comes from everyone trying to figure out how to make sure they’re being treated with as much respect as they deserve as human beings despite living in a class system that denigrates actresses or people born of sex workers, rather than bullshit manufactured conflict and misunderstandings. I was also impressed by the fact that it had actual adventure and action in the plot instead of just the romance. (Buy it here.)

Kneel, Mr. President by Lauren Gallagher. Configuration: m/m/f triad where all parties are involved with each other. I initially assumed a book with a title this outrageous would be unabashedly silly, but no, far from it — this is actually a fully fleshed out complicated triad romance novel, complete with all the realistic turbulence and angst that any throuple (I’m sorry, I know that’s an awful word but I can’t help myself) would go through while navigating their beginning stages. This is a President/First Lady/Secret Service Former Boyfriend When They Were Navy SEALs Together setup. I was really impressed by how well rounded the book was in terms of character interaction besides the sex, of which, predictably, there is lots. I didn’t get bored by the extra sex scenes, either, since each one introduces a new angle (either within the D/s setup, or a new configuration of how all three of them will interact, since the wife initially starts out just watching, etc.) (Buy it here.)

Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver. Configuration: f/f/f triad including trans woman; all parties involved with each other. Chameleon Moon is temporarily unavailable due to the publisher closing down, but the author will be reissuing it in a new self-published format to be quickly followed by several short stories and a Book Two. The male lead is a lizard man named Regan who will be on-the-page ace in the second edition as the author originally wanted. The female lead, a trans woman lounge-singer-turned-superhero named Evelyn, is involved in a f/f/f triad of all superhero women. They even have a child together of which she is one of the biological parents. The book is a “hopeful dystopian” (the author calls it a dys-hope-ian) taking place in an American city that was quarantined by force when everyone there began developing mutant superpowers in response to an overpresecribed wonderdrug. Evelyn and her superpowered girlfriends and the rest of the characters are fighting to bring happiness and justice to the inhabitants of the city. This isn’t a book with sex scenes; the poly representation is focused on love and family. Warning for deadnaming (which Evelyn defeats like a champ) but it’s possible that may not reappear in the second edition. (Buy it here.)

Midnight at the Orpheus by Alyssa Linn Palmer. Configuration: poly V, a bisexual woman with a girlfriend and a boyfriend. This is 1920’s Chicago gangster noir, and that means it comes with a lot of genre conventions: plenty of violence and death, and an ending that’s happy but highly unstable since her girlfriend and boyfriend are not involved with each other and are both violent people. The setting is very bi-normative in the sense that in this particular underworld culture it’s just accepted that some of the women are dating each other and never assumes that a woman who likes women is uninterested in men. There is also a gay cop antihero who is not part of the triad, so all in all a very queer take on a well-established genre. Warning for Irish and Italian slurs. (Buy it here.)

Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi. Configuration: Multiple interlinked poly V’s as part of a found family. This is a book about queer disabled women fighting Big Pharma in space, with strong themes of found family, and the link between bodily autonomy and tough medical decisions. The main character is shown coming to terms with the idea of polyamory as she starts a relationship with a woman who is already involved with someone else, who is also involved with someone else. Warning for loss of family members and also a graphic mutilation flashback. (Buy it here.)

One final note: the Fierce Family anthology is a wonderful collection of sci-fi and fantasy shorts written on the theme of “positive depictions of queer families.” It has plenty of nonbinary representation and families with two moms, and cis m/m isn’t the majority of the stories. I’m mentioning it here because of the story about the space pirates–both the pirates and the ship being attacked have a crew of a bi, poly family. That was just so remarkable that I think it deserves special recognition. The whole anthology is worth it, though. (Buy it here.)

I don’t really have anything of substance of my own to offer as far as poly representation goes, except for a tiny piece of erotica about three Chanukah fairies (Eitan’s Chord.”) Also, I’m told my witch/tavern owner Eshvat (Climbing the Date Palm) is “solopoly” because she’s aromantic and doesn’t form romantic connections with her casual sexual partners. But maybe some day! (Buy Shira’s books here!)

*****

romanescoShira Glassman is a violinist living in Florida with a very good human and a very bad cat. She is best known for writing fluffy queer fantasy that draws inspiration from her tropical upbringing, Jewish heritage and present life, and French and German operas. She believes that we need infinite princess, dragon, and superhero stories for all the demographics who never got to play those roles when she was little; some of the ones she’s written have made it to the finals of the Bi Book Awards and Golden Crown Literary Society awards. Her latest is The Olive Conspiracy, about a queen and her found-family saving their country’s agriculture from a foreign plot.

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.