Tag Archives: Vicki Johnson

New Releases: June 27, 2023

Molly’s Tuxedo by Vicki Johnson (text) and Gillian Reid (art)

Molly wants to look her best for picture day at her school, and what looks better than a tux?

Molly’s school picture day is coming up, and she wants to have a perfect portrait taken to hang on their wall. Her mom has picked out a nice dress for her, but Molly knows from experience that dresses are trouble. They have tight places and hard-to-reach zippers, and worst of all, no pockets! Luckily, she has the perfect thing to save picture day–her brother’s old tuxedo!

But mom doesn’t want her to wear a tuxedo in the photo; she thinks Molly looks best in the dress. Can Molly find the courage to follow her heart and get her mom to realize just how awesome she’d look in a tux? This book highlights a gender nonconforming main character and is published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance.

Buy it:  Bookshop | Amazon

Manslaughter Park by Tirzah Price

This is the third book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series, and the first with a queer (bi) protag.

Aspiring artist Fanny Price is an unwelcome guest at her uncle Sir Thomas Bertram’s estate. It’s his affection for Fanny that’s keeping her from being forced out by her cousins Tom and Maria and nasty Aunt Norris, back to a home to which she never wants to return. But then Sir Thomas dies in a tragic accident inside his art emporium, and Fanny finds evidence of foul play that, if revealed, could further jeopardize her already precarious position.

Edmund, her best friend and secret crush, urges Fanny to keep quiet about her discovery, but Fanny can’t ignore the truth: a murderer is among them.

Determined to find the killer, Fanny’s pursuit for justice has her wading into the Bertram family business, uncovering blackmail, and brushing with London’s high society when Henry and Mary Crawford arrive at Mansfield Park with an audacious business proposal. But a surprising twist of fate—and the help of local legends Lizzie Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy—brings Fanny more complications than she ever expected and a life- altering realization she never saw coming.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

The Archive Undying by Emma Mieko Candon


When the robotic god of Khuon Mo went mad, it destroyed everything it touched. It killed its priests, its city, and all its wondrous works. But in its final death throes, the god brought one thing back to life: its favorite child, Sunai. For the seventeen years since, Sunai has walked the land like a ghost, unable to die, unable to age, and unable to forget the horrors he’s seen. He’s run as far as he can from the wreckage of his faith, drowning himself in drink, drugs, and men. But when Sunai wakes up in the bed of the one man he never should have slept with, he finds himself on a path straight back into the world of gods and machines.

The Archive Undying is the first volume of Emma Mieko Candon’s Downworld Sequence, a sci-fi series where AI deities and brutal police states clash, wielding giant robots steered by pilot-priests with corrupted bodies.

Come get in the robot.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue

Rachel is a student working at a bookstore when she meets James, and it’s love at first sight. Effervescent and insistently heterosexual, James soon invites Rachel to be his roommate and the two begin a friendship that changes the course of both their lives forever.  Together, they run riot through the streets of Cork city, trying to maintain a bohemian existence while the threat of the financial crash looms before them.

When Rachel falls in love with her married professor, Dr. Fred Byrne, James helps her devise a reading at their local bookstore, with the goal that she might seduce him afterwards. But Fred has other desires. So begins a series of secrets and compromises that intertwine the fates of James, Rachel, Fred, and Fred’s glamorous, well-connected, bourgeois wife.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

The Ghosts of Trappist by K.B. Wagers

Ensign Nell “Sapphi” Zika has been working hard to get past her trauma, but the unnerving pleas for help she’s hearing in the Verge and the song she can’t get out of her head are making that increasingly difficult. As Zuma’s Ghost gears up for a final run at the Boarding Games, their expert hacker is feeling anything but confident. Plus, her chief’s robot dog, Doge, is acting weird—a computer problem she can’t find an answer to—and the increasing number of missing freighters is putting everyone living on or stationed around Trappist on edge.

It doesn’t help the NeoG’s mission that Dread Treasure is sidelined from competing in the Boarding Games, and Commander D’Arcy Montaglione is stuck on the front lines of the mystery of the missing ships while also stuck in his own head. Never good at trusting people to begin with, he’s struggling to piece together his new crew in the aftermath of a great betrayal, knowing this may be his final chance at command. The last thing he wants to do is prove his enemies right and end up getting shoved behind a desk and forgotten. The easy answer to missing ships is pirates, but D’Arcy soon realizes the easiest answer is rarely the right one out in the vacuum of space. What’s worse is that the actual pirates fear something out beyond the asteroid belt. Something that’s been taking their ships too…

As the unknowns multiply and one of their mysterious enemies escalates by launching an attack on the NeoG itself, the Interceptor crews must brave both cyber and outer space to hunt down their foes, but no one is prepared for the truth that is revealed or the way it will shake the foundations of everything they believe about the universe.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

The Follower of Flowers by Natalia Hernandez

This is the sequel to The Name Bearer

As a child, the Name-Bearer had one duty; to receive and deliver the names of the future monarchy from the Flowers of Prophecy. But on the day of the Naming Ceremony, the Flowers refused. They claim another child was born more worthy of the Naming, and the Name-Bearer must find him and deliver him to them in order to restore peace to her land.

Now, ten years later, the Name-Barer and her companions are on a quest to find the Unnamed Prince and fulfill the prophecy. But with a bounty on their heads, an increase in monstro activity, and a long dangerous journey through enemy territory, they may be in for more than they bargained for. In order to survive, they will have to rely on strangers, unlikely new allies, and those they once loved – and hope that their trust in them has not been misplaced.

With so much opposition, will their courage – and their friendships, survive?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Begin Transmission: the Trans Allegories of The Matrix by Tilly Bridges (June 27, 2023)

Begin Transmission: The trans allegories of The Matrix (hardback)Trans woman and screenwriter Tilly Bridges takes you through the trans allegories of the Matrix franchise, with deep dives into The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Animatrix, The Matrix Revolutions, and The Matrix Resurrections, tracking one person’s transition journey – from Thomas Anderson, to Neo… to Trinity.

Each movie’s allegory is deeply layered, building from movie to movie, and speaks to a different aspect of trans existence. You’ll learn how color is used to convey more than you realize, how Neo’s psyche is personified in the people around him, how no other mass media franchise speaks as truly, deeply, and honestly to the trans experience, and exactly why these movies are beloved and vital to the trans community (and their cis allies).

Free your mind, and see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Buy it

New in Paperback

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Ace of Spades - Àbíké-Íyímídé, FaridahWhen two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Authors in Conversation: Vicki Johnson and Harry Woodgate

Today on the site, I’m thrilled to welcome a pair of wonderful picture book authors, Vicki Johnson and Harry Woodgate! They’re here to talk about their books (Molly’s Tuxedo, illustrated by Gillian Reid, and Grandad’s Pride, respectively), approaches, history, the process of working with illustrations, and more!

HW: Firstly, huge congratulations on Molly’s Tuxedo, it’s such a gorgeous book. Your writing is full of warmth and humour and Molly is such a memorable character, and Gillian’s illustrations are wonderfully textured and so expressive. It’s so lovely to be chatting to you for LGBTQReads Authors in Conversation.

VJ: I’m so happy to be here chatting with you. First, I have to say congratulations on all the many accolades you’ve received for Grandad’s Camper – Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Best Illustrated Book; shortlisted for the British Book Awards Children’s Illustrated Category, and a 2022 ALA Stonewall Book Awards Honor, among others. Incredible, and so well deserved!

Grandad’s Pride is a beautiful and vibrant follow-up story, celebrating the diversity of our community and the fullness it brings to the world. Your art, as always, is layered and so inviting and full of color. I would have loved to read this to my daughter when she was young, to talk about all of the intricate details – the signs and t-shirts and hair colors and storefronts and animals and trees and flowers and families. It’s a perfect read together book.

HW: Thank you so much, that really means a lot and I’m so pleased you enjoyed it! I enjoy adding in those details because that’s what I loved when reading as a kid – looking at the buildings, outfits, characters, all the hidden stories within each book.

On a related note, I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on the intersections between fashion, gender and self-expression in picture books, because I think Molly’s Tuxedo explores these themes in such a playful yet meaningful way. How did you approach this and what do you hope your readers take from the story?

VJ: My goal was to explore my own experiences and feelings on these concepts, but to remember them from a child’s point of view. Young children have a tiny bit of agency over decisions in their lives, and self-expression in the form of what clothes feel right is a major opportunity for them to exercise their decision making. The push to conform is stronger as they get older but really young ones can be free and play and they have such strong feelings at that age. It was big for me as a child, and I observed the same with my own child. I also see it all around me every single day where this sense of play and self-discovery can be squashed by rigid and outdated ideas about gender. I drew on those experiences to write, hopefully, a very child-centered story about self-discovery and burgeoning self-confidence. I hope I’ve created some space for conversation about it for children and caregivers. I hope readers take from Molly’s experience that they can follow their inner compass and be brave if need be and feel just as happy as their classmates about their choices, even if it is a different one.

Regarding Grandad’s Pride, I’ve seen you talk about the need to recognize queer elders and their experiences as you have done in both of these books. I came out as a teen in 1980 and it has been a long and winding journey for this diverse community and there are so many untapped stories to tell! Our history and the rich tapestry of individuals within it will help sustain us, especially now. I have on my bucket list to write a story of historical fiction. How did you connect with these stories initially and are there more to come? And what is on your bucket list to write one day?

HW: In some ways I think my academic interest came first and from that I began to draw connections with my own experiences. In the UK, Section 28 prohibited the ‘promotion’ of LGBTQ+ identities in schools from the late 1980s all the way through to 2003 when it was finally repealed, and although almost all my school years came after that date, I still don’t recall learning a great deal about LGBTQ+ history or seeing many books in the library with openly queer characters and storylines. When I began researching these topics at sixth form and university, it revealed a whole alternate timeline of events and individuals and experiences I simply didn’t know had existed – and although I’m sure I could have sought them out sooner had I been so inclined, the point is that nobody should have to seek them out. They shouldn’t be on a separate shelf; they shouldn’t be consigned to a closing paragraph or a footnote; they should be readily available.

With Grandad’s Pride, I was keen to include key moments in LGBTQ+ history, such as Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, Act UP, and the eventual legalization of same-sex marriage. I wanted to link up a few of the dots and reiterate that where we are today is simply another step along a path that has been trodden by countless generations of LGBTQ+ individuals, families, activists and campaigners.

In terms of what’s to come, I recently illustrated the cover for ‘Tales From Beyond The Rainbow’ by Pete Jordi Wood, which is a collection of lost or forgotten LGBTQ+ fairy tales from many different cultures, featuring illustrations by artists from around the world. It’s publishing with Puffin Classics this June. I’m also illustrating a non-fiction book of LGBTQ+ historical figures, which is a nice change to some of the projects I’ve worked on before. As for my bucket list, I think a graphic novel is definitely up there.

What I absolutely love about Molly’s Tuxedo is that we experience Molly’s journey at the same pace as her, which really allows us to understand her feelings in each moment and creates a wonderful sense of anticipation for the final reveal. How did you develop the pacing for the story, and were there any ways in which Gillian’s illustrations informed this?

VJ: I wish I had a grand explanation for my pacing of the story. I knew this was going to be an emotional journey for Molly so I had to write it in a way that kept the emotions high from the moment she wakes up on the big day! It was a bit tricky to find a way for Molly to have her tux with her at school, and for her mom to be there, too. Gillian’s illustrations have everything to do with carrying us moment by moment in Molly’s journey. The way she used spot illustrations to depict each and every line in the scenes where Molly expresses disdain for dresses was perfect. I loved her use of Molly’s cat to mirror Molly’s emotions. Her expressions! Picture books are magical for this interaction of words and images. As an author, it’s the most exciting thing. It will keep me writing picture books for sure.

Yes, I love Molly’s cat too! Your point about the interaction between word and image is so true, and I think sometimes the complexity of picture books in this regard is underappreciated. Visual literacy is such an important skill and picture books teach it so well.

What I love about Grandad’s Pride is the setting: this wonderful seaside village full of diverse individuals from all walks of life. It’s idyllic. I particularly love how you use sweeping lines across the spread like the colors of the pride flag or a road or the rolling hills of the landscape, giving your stories a very unique energy of place. How did you decide on the setting and what is your process for creating a story? Do you ever have to change the art to match the words or the words to match the art?

HW: Thank you! The British seaside has such a hold of my imagination and was a key part of my childhood, so I suppose it’s natural that it continues to crop up in my stories. The village in Grandad’s Pride is an amalgam of several places that are important to me. I wanted any child or family to be able to imagine themselves right there on the seafront amongst the celebrations, so I spent a lot of time populating the village with a diverse cast of characters.

As for how I create a story, I usually have to edit both art and text multiple times! Usually, I begin with character or location sketches before writing a first draft, which tends to come in several hundred words too long. Then I’ll cut out all the extra fluff and exposition by translating that into illustration. I’ll repeat that process until I have a set of rough layouts and a manuscript that flow as one – where the illustrations build upon the words, and the words give structure and rhythm to the illustrations.

It’s always fascinating hearing about other writers’ processes. Coming from an illustration background, I find I tend to begin with the visual world of the story, but I’d love to hear what aspect of the story came to you first: theme, character, structure, or something else? How did you transform those initial seeds into a full picture book, and were there any aspects you particularly struggled with or enjoyed along the way?

VJ: With all my writing I start with a character for sure, then I imagine, through a child’s eyes, the simple topic I’m thinking about. As I generate words it’s more like I am writing verses in a poem without an idea where it is going until I get there! Later I work on whether it makes sense and what kind of structure it needs and what may be missing. That usually means I need to dig deeper emotionally or enliven the language, both of which always work to make the story better. I naturally write in a poetry or lyrical picture book style, and then enhance and correct over several drafts.

I tend to be more serious in my writing and have the highest praise for Gillian who was able to inject lightheartedness and humor and color and motion with her artwork. I get the sense that you and I might be similar in that our stories are heartfelt, and I wonder if you’ve ever written a humorous or silly picture book, or if you’ve considered writing a book completely out of the norm for you? Admittedly I have tried and failed at this, ha.

HW: I think you’re probably right about the kinds of stories we’re drawn to write! I absolutely love how Gillian’s illustrations bring a levity to an experience which, for a child, can feel quite overwhelming, but I think your words portray Molly’s feelings in such an honest way and have their own gentle humour, too. There’s absolutely no doubt that kids love hilarious, silly books, but there are also lots of young readers who will cherish the quieter, more reflective stories such as ours, so there’s definitely a space for both.

Funnily enough, whilst I haven’t yet written a silly picture book, I am writing a middle grade series which is about as un-serious as you could possibly get! I’d been working on some other ideas which alongside the pressures of work, news and social media were beginning to weigh me down, so I just started writing to make myself laugh, and it unlocked an enthusiasm I genuinely feared I had lost.

On the topic of humour: are there any funny rituals, routines or ‘little treats’ that form part of your day-to-day writing process that you couldn’t do without? I think mine is that the closer it gets to deadline, the more I bribe myself with coffee shop trips or G&Ts once I’ve finished work for the day!

VJ: I was going to ask you something similar! You seem to be SO busy with multiple projects, all of the time. I rely on daily walks outside to clear my head, and I need so much head clearing that I live in an actual forest, ha. I also live with five rescue pets who amuse me and interrupt me to no end. So those things give me a respite. As to writing, I am an early bird and do my best generative work when it’s still dark outside, with hot coffee next to me and cats sleeping around me.

Big thumbs up for daily walks (and rescue pets!). Excellent stress relievers, both. I wish I was an early bird. I’m lucky if I haul myself into the office before 11am.

My question for you: Gillian Reid, who illustrated our book, is absolutely amazing, and we have met since and she is just as lovely in person and also very funny. She put a few “Easter eggs” or hidden gems in the book. For example, I have a photo of me at age 7 in a suit and clip-on tie in front of our red family car and it appears on Molly’s family wall. Do you ever include secret references in your books or use friends as visual references for your characters?

HW: Oh I love hearing about these little Easter eggs! Yes, I absolutely do this. My illustrations are full of references that probably only a select group of family and friends will recognize. After all, what is it that draws us to writing or illustrating in the first place if not the opportunity to translate and thereby more fully understand our own internal worlds? They’re not just stories, in the end, they’re time capsules. 

Something which is perhaps unique about picture books is how they need to speak to children and their caregivers simultaneously, without patronising either. I wonder if you have any thoughts about this, and if there are any ways it informed your writing, because it’s something I feel Molly’s Tuxedo really succeeds in doing.

VJ: This makes me very happy that you mention this. It was really important to me to write a story where the caregiver had a proper arc, too. I do think even the most present and involved adult can miss something about their child or make mistakes or just be busy and overlook something important. I did as a parent for sure! In this case, Molly’s mom wasn’t tuned in to how important the tux was to Molly until she overheard her talking with her friends at school. I wanted Mom to have an opportunity to have a course correction because this can happen in real life. I didn’t want adults leaving this book feeling bad if they made a mistake or missed something in their own family. I wanted them to feel as empowered as Molly. If you notice in that scene when she ‘sees’ Molly she is hugging Molly but her eyes are open. That’s a moment Gillian made more special with her attention to detail.

HW: It’s so amazing how much difference something small like a character’s eyes being open or closed can make! And that is a lovely point about giving Molly’s mum the space to make mistakes. It’s so important for young readers to know that parents don’t always have the right answers, too, but that you can help each other grow by listening and making space to be open about your feelings. That’s a really powerful message.

VJ: I enjoy photography as another creative outlet, and going to movies and museums, and I’m wondering if you have other things that you do for fun or to fill your creative well?

HW: Me too! I also enjoy music – listening to, playing and writing. It’s so lovely having a creative hobby which you don’t feel obliged to share with anyone. Apart from that, cycling is my favourite way of getting outdoors and making sure I’m not sat in front of a screen for seven hours a day!

A couple of shorter questions to finish! Firstly, are there any other recent or upcoming picture books that you are really excited about or would recommend (or perhaps an older title that you feel didn’t get the recognition and appreciation it deserved)?

And secondly, the various outfits Molly and her friends wear for school picture day are so varied and exciting. If you were back at school, what would you wear for the big day?

VJ: So far this year, I have really loved Out of the Blue by Robert Tregoning and Stef Murphy, and The Wishing Flower by A.J. Irving and Kip Alizadeh, and I look forward to reading Hope for Ryan White by Dano Moreno and Hannah Abbo. As for my time-traveling picture day, in kindergarten I was horse obsessed, and I told my teacher I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up, so I would probably wear a cowboy hat and boots.

How about you? What would be your dream outfit or what was your favorite picture day memory (Do you have a picture day in the U.K.?)

HW: Yes, I loved Out of the Blue too, and I’m looking forward to the other two as well. And a cowboy outfit sounds iconic! I’m not sure what I’d pick – we had school uniforms in the UK so the only time we got to choose what to wear was on non-uniform day (which usually had a theme, like ‘book characters’ or ‘superheroes’). I think a very swishy, sparkly ball gown would make a fun statement in our imaginary class. 

Finally, are you working on anything new right now that you’re allowed to talk about? I’ve got a few picture books in the works, as well as the (hopefully!) funny middle grade series I mentioned earlier.

VJ: I recently wrote a new picture book I’m really excited about! It came to me very quickly and for me that feels like something really true and good. I’m also in developmental edits with my middle grade novel.

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Harry. I hope we get to meet in person one day.

I love what you bring to the world of children’s literature. As Lesléa Newman told me to remember, love wins. Your stories prove it.

Buy Vicki’s Tuxedo: Bookshop | Amazon

Buy Grandad’s Pride: Bookshop | Amazon

Harry Woodgate (pronouns: they/them) is an award-winning author and illustrator who has worked with clients including National Book Tokens, Google, The Sunday Times Magazine, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Walker Books, Andersen Press, Bloomsbury, The Washington Post and Penguin Random House.

Their books include Grandad’s Camper, Grandad’s Pride, Timid, Little Glow, Shine Like the Stars, My First Baking Book and The Very Merry Murder Club.  Grandad’s Camper, their debut author-illustrator title, won the Waterstones Childrens Book Prize Best Illustrated Book 2022 and a Stonewall Book Award Honor from the American Library Association. It was also shortlisted for the Children’s Illustrated category at the British Book Awards as well as the inaugural Polari Children’s & YA Prize, and was nominated for the CILIP Yoto Kate Greenaway Award.

Harry is passionate about writing and illustrating diverse, inclusive stories that inspire children to be inquisitive, creative, kind and proud of what makes them unique.

Vicki Johnson (she/her) is a children’s book author, and a former band nerd, White House staffer, and nonprofit director, among other life adventures. Her debut picture book is Molly’s Tuxedo, illustrated by Gillian Reid, releasing June 27, 2023 from Little Bee Books in their publishing partnership with GLAAD.

Born and raised in rural GA, Vicki is a lesbian mom, proud first-gen graduate of Smith College and Emory University School of Law, and an MFA candidate in Writing for Children & Young Adults at VCFA. Vicki was a 2022 Lambda Literary Fellow, a 2020 PBChat Mentee, a 2020 WNDB MG mentorship finalist, and a 2018 grant recipient from the WV Div. of Arts, Culture & History and the National Endowment for the Arts. She’s an active member of SCBWI and was a nominee for the Sue Alexander Award for most promising new work. Vicki is currently working on her middle grade novel and texting cat photos to her college kid. Read more: www.vickijohnsonwrites.com

October 2021 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

Psychotherapist K. L. Cerra’s‘s SUCH PRETTY FLOWERS, a Southern gothic suspense with horror and queer elements about a woman’s investigation into her brother’s unlikely suicide—his last words being “get it out of me”—and subsequently, her obsession with his fiancee, a magnetic, black-eyed florist with a penchant for carnivorous plants; and a second book about a coven operating under the guise of the wedding industry whose plans to save women from wife- and motherhood have sinister implications, to Jenny Chen at Bantam Dell, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Chelsey Emmelhainz at Copps Literary Services (world).

Taleen Voskuni‘s SORRY, BRO, a queer rom-com about a twenty-something newly single Armenian woman whose mother insists she find a proper new suitor at a series of local Armenian cultural events—only the woman she meets is the last person her very traditional family had in mind, to Cindy Hwang and Angela Kim at Berkley, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2023, by Katelyn Detweiler at Jill Grinberg Literary Management (NA).

Lena May‘s THE SIGNS WE MISSED, in which a young gay man who emancipated from his mother battles addiction, an eating disorder, and being in love with his best while trying to graduate high school and survive, to Kisstopher Musick at Cinnabar Moth, in a nice deal, for publication in summer 2022.

Lindy Ryan and Toni Miller‘s eds.’s UNDER HER SKIN, a showcase of body horror-inspired poetry from women (cis and trans) and nonbinary femmes in horror, including Bram Stoker Award-winning and nominated poets Lee Murray, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Sara Tantlinger, and Jessica McHugh, with a foreword by Linda D. Addison, to Black Spot, for publication in April 2022 (world English).

Kate Brook’s NOT EXACTLY WHAT I HAD IN MIND, following four 20-somethings—two roommates navigating the awkward aftermath of a one night stand, and a lesbian couple looking to start a family—as their lives collide and all four learn that sometimes you find family, and love, in the place you would least expect, pitched as for readers of Emma Straub or J. Courtney Sullivan, to Lindsey Rose at Dutton, by Rebecca Wearmouth at PFD (NA). Rights to Sarah Hodgson at Corvus, by Philippa Sitters at David Godwin Associates (UK/Commonwealth, excl. Canada); to Suma de Letras (Spain); and to Diana (Germany), at auction, by Rebecca Wearmouth at PFD.

Author of the forthcoming MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE Alexene Farol Follmuth writing as Olivie Blake’s THE ATLAS SIX TRILOGY, pitched as Kingsman/X-Men meets THE SECRET HISTORY with a diverse cast and strong queer representation, following six uniquely talented magicians from around the world who are invited to compete for an elite academic fellowship where elimination holds deadly consequences, the first book of which was previously self-published and popular on TikTok, to Molly McGhee at Tor, in a major deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication in March 2022, by Amelia Appel at TriadaUS Literary Agency (world).

Winner of the 2018 VQR Emily Clark Balch Prize for Fiction and UT Austin MFA Celia Bell’s THE DISENCHANTMENT, which follows a baroness who falls in love with another woman, and the chaos that ensues when her husband discovers their secret, set against the backdrop of Versailles and Parisian society, to Shelley Wanger at Pantheon, for publication in 2023, by Anna Stein at ICM (NA). Rights to Serpent’s Tail (UK), by Lucy Morris and Sabhbh Curry at Curtis Brown UK.

Children’s/Middle Grade Fiction

Vicki Johnson‘s picture book MOLLY’S TUXEDO, about a girl who has big plans to wear a dashing tuxedo for her school picture day, but her mom has picked out a dress, so with her friends’ support, the girl proves the way to look your best is to be yourself, illustrated by Gillian Reid, to Charlie Ilgunas at Little Bee Books, for publication in summer 2023, by Zoe Sandler at ICM for the author, and by Christy Tugeau Ewers at The CAT Agency for the illustrator (world).

Aliza Layne‘s BEETLE AND THE CHIMERA CARNIVAL, a sequel to the Stonewall Honor Book BEETLE AND THE HOLLOWBONES, which follows Beetle and her friends as they face new and sinister complications when the dragons set to arrive for a community celebration never appear, illustrated by Aliza Layne, to Julia McCarthy at Atheneum, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2024 and fall 2025, by Susan Graham at Einstein Literary Management (world English).

Author-illustrator Kyla Smith‘s FOXES, FIRE, & OTHER MAGIC, in which a curious young fox spirit who stumbled into the human world during the annual Obon festival and became trapped, and a nonbinary noodle maker struggling to keep their parents’ legacy alive, must learn to trust each other to save the udon shop and get the fox spirit home before the spirit gate closes for good, to Emily Settle and Erin Siu at Feiwel and Friends, in a very nice deal, for publication in spring 2024, by Jennifer Azantian at Azantian Literary Agency (world).

Coauthor of RENEGADE RULE Ben Kahn‘s ELLE CAMPBELL SAVES THEIR SATURDAY, in which a nonbinary seventh grader wants to meet their celebrity hero at a local signing, so they and their two best friends will have to stage a daring escape from weekend detention, and avoid bullies and parents as they trek across town to save their Saturday, to Mallory Kass at Scholastic, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2023, by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds (world).

Dresden Douglas’s GIRLS GIVE ME BUTTERFLIES, a debut middle grade graphic novel pitched as a sapphic Lizzie McGuire, about a young girl who begins to feel flustered and tongue-tied around other girls while struggling to tune out the voice of an excitable little figment who manifests all her innermost thoughts, to Mekisha Telfer at Roaring Brook Press, at auction, for publication in 2023, by Claire Draper at The Bent Agency (world).

Young Adult

Mela Rogers‘s debut LOVE LIGHT, set in a world where a beacon of light connects each person’s heart to their soulmate’s; a girl’s parents are light fanatics, so she is shocked when she falls for a girl who is not her soulmate, and when she meets her actual soulmate, she must choose between her faith and her first love, to Dana Chidiac at Holt Children’s, for publication in winter 2025, by Chelsea Eberly at Greenhouse Literary Agency (world).

HERE FOR IT author R. Eric Thomas‘s debut KINGS OF B’MORE, a celebration of queer Black friendship as two boys plan a day of fun and facing their fears, pitched as inspired by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to Joanna Cardenas at Kokila, for publication in summer 2022, by Anna Sproul-Latimer at Neon Literary (world).

Freja Nicole Woolf’s NEVER TRUST A GEMINI, pitched as a LGBTQ+ ANGUS, THONGS AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING, in which a zodiac-obsessed 15-year-old struggling with a desperate crush on her best friend must scramble through a fake boyfriend, a house fire, and an unexpected Christmas romance to find her happy ending, to Denise Johnstone-Burt and Non Pratt at Walker UK, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2023, by Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency (world).

NYT-bestselling author of CEMETERY BOYS Aiden Thomas‘s JUST MAX, in which a stealth transgender college student faces the usual stress of freshman year—making new friends and trying to fit in—all while managing testosterone shots, navigating the perils of communal bathrooms, and falling in love with the handsome soccer player down the hall, to Holly West at Feiwel and Friends, in a good deal, in an exclusive submission, for publication in winter 2024, by Jennifer March Soloway at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world).

MAJOR DETOURS author Zachary Sergi‘s SO YOU WANNA BE A POPSTAR?, an interactive novel following five diverse and queer teen solo artists who are forced into a pop group that goes viral overnight, and where the reader chooses the paths forward to guide the characters on their journey to stardom, to Britny Brooks at Running Press Kids, for publication in winter 2023, by Lucy Carson at Friedrich Agency (world).

FULL DISCLOSURE author Camryn Garrett’s FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE, about a queer teen determined to throw a lavish coming out party in place of a sweet sixteen, but when her mother is laid off, she’s forced to balance saving for the party with keeping her household afloat, all the while navigating her growing feelings for a new girl at school, to Katherine Harrison at Knopf Children’s, in a six-figure deal, for publication in spring 2023, by Beth Phelan at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (NA). Rights also to Emma Jones at Random House UK Children’s, by Ellen Greenberg, on behalf of Beth Phelan.

K.M. Watts’s BORN ANDROMEDA, a debut in which a moon princess is kidnapped by galactic pirates, and joins the world of piracy in order to get home—if she doesn’t fall for one first, to Annie Harper at Duet, in a nice deal, in an exclusive submission, for publication in fall 2022 (world). Rights: Mary Jo Courchesne at Gryphon Publishing Consulting


WHAT ARE YOUR WORDS? illustrator Andy Passchier‘s GENDER IDENTITY FOR KIDS, a chapter book guide breaking down what gender is and isn’t, what your feelings around gender might mean, and how to let the world know who you are and help others do the same, to Regan Winter at Little, Brown Children’s, with Andrea Colvin and Aria Balraj editing, for publication in summer 2023, by Alexandra Gehringer at The Bright Group (world).

Chicana writer, activist, poet, essayist, and playwright Cherrie Moraga‘s LOVING IN THE WAR YEARS and THE LAST GENERATION, combined in a single 40th anniversary volume; and WAITING IN THE WINGS: PORTRAIT OF A QUEER MOTHERHOOD, to be published on its 25th anniversary, both with new forewords by the author, to Julie Fain at Haymarket, in a two-book deal, by Stuart Bernstein at Stuart Bernstein Representation.

Olympic champion and elite runner Caster Semenya’s SILENCE ALL THE NOISE, a story of courage, resilience, and hope about her childhood in rural South Africa, her running career, and her experience as an intersex woman in professional sports, to Norton, at auction, with a young readers edition.