True Colorz is your web source for all things YA in the LGBTQ community! Our blog features new releases, featured authors, interviews, and reviews/recommended reading.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Skye Allen

Skye Allen has had short fiction published in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal and Of Dragons and Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds and poetry in Insomnia and Sinister Wisdom. She works as a singing teacher and occasionally performs Irish music around the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her wife, two cats, and four chickens. Pretty Peg is her first novel.

Connect with Skye Allen on Twitter @eppiemorrie or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Skye Allen:

  1. In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

    The obvious answer is that the hero is a girl-loving girl! I love all the YA fantasy novels with strong teenage girls in the lead, but most of them are straight. I really wanted to see someone like Josy in the kind of book I love – a fast, emotional adventure where the magical world meets the familiar world.

    Beyond that, though, Pretty Peg goes into some heavy topics. The plot was inspired by a traditional Scottish song called “The Bonnie Banks o’ Fordie,” which is about incest. I’ve always been fascinated by the way the three sisters in the song handle the situation, and how the youngest sister seems fearless and heartbroken at the same time. One thing I love about YA is the freedom to go deep into the gnarliest places in the psyche and to confront some of the biggest horrors we live with -- whether they take the form of vampires or werewolves, or of other humans in a position to do harm.

  2. Which of your characters is most like you?

    I’m definitely in everyone in the book. I’m just as snarky (and as secretly vulnerable) as Josy, I get just as distracted by a good music practice session as Laura, and I’m just as much of a rule-follower as Neil. But I share the most real-life history and articles of faith with Margaret. I spent a long time believing that working for social change would help me hush the demons in my head – it did, and still does. But I’ve also learned that you still have to take on your demons face-to-face and find a way to coexist, which Margaret never got the chance to do.

  3. How do you research for your books?

    I have a whole shelf of books about the U.S. war with Afghanistan that I collected to help me navigate Margaret’s story. And even though I’ve lived in Oakland, I had to consult my wife (who was born in the East Bay) about some local geography I wanted to keep intact. I did change some parts of the map where the story needed it. I also relied on my brilliant, talented teenage voice students for authentic dialog and fashion!

  4. Do you have a nervous habit when writing?  A guilty pleasure when writing?  

    Caffeine. Definitely caffeine. I wrote the first draft of Pretty Peg for NaNoWriMo, and it was All! Coffee! All! The! Time! I was working full-time in a stressful admin assistant job and I wrote early every morning and late every night for that one crazy month. Now I try to rely more on green tea for my writing binges. I also have a weird problem where I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I’m writing, not even in a language I don’t speak. I’m a singer, and I get too distracted by vocal music. I have a 3-hour playlist that’s mostly artists like Django Reinhardt, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Yo-Yo Ma – fantastic music that I could never play myself.

  5. Are there any LGBT charities or resources that are near and dear to you that you would like to give a shout out to?

    I’m really moved by the work of Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco. They work with homeless teens, many of whom are LGBTQ+. They’ve offered respect and the beginnings of stability to a lot of kids who had no place else to turn over the years.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    That you are gorgeous exactly the way you are! My main character, Josy, is plus-sized, and one of the lessons she learns is just how desirable she is. I heard Nomy Lamm say at a show once, “Fat and pretty go together like peanut butter and chocolate,” and that’s true!

Now Available from Skye Allen:

Pretty Peg High school senior Josy Grant already had plenty on her plate before she found the magic puppet theater her murdered sister left behind.  Despite Josy’s grief, the responsibility of taking care of her family falls to her, and being queer doesn’t make dealing with school any easier. Things only get worse when sexy new girl Nicky tells Josy her sister died at the hands of a mysterious figure from the Faerie Realm called the Woodcutter, and if they can’t stop him, Josy and her remaining sister will be next.

They have just days before the Woodcutter strikes again on the autumn equinox, so Josy follows Nicky into the Faerie Realm to hunt him. Along the way, she discovers Fey gifts of her own and answers to the questions that have driven the Grant family apart. Nothing comes for free when dealing with Fey, though, and those gifts and answers might come at a terrible price.

Pretty Peg Giveaway!

Skye Allen has generously donated a free copy of Pretty Peg for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on June 15th.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Amy Dunne

Amy Dunne was raised in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in Philosophy and Psychology. After graduating she worked for a while with vulnerable young people. She is currently setting up her own speech writing business and concentrating on her writing. She is married to her beautiful wife, Lou. They have two gorgeous cats and a mischievous dog. 

Connect with Amy Dunne on Twitter @giftofthegaborg or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Amy Dunne:

  1. In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

    Secret Lies is unique in that it doesn’t shy away from the slightly darker issues that some young adults experience. I worked for a number of years with vulnerable young people and it really impacted on my life.

    Self-harm and abuse both play a pig part of in Jenny and Nicola’s lives. I wanted to raise awareness of these subjects but also give an insight that some people might not otherwise see. It was difficult getting the balance just right. In no way did I want to make either subject gratuitous, but I did also want to do them justice. I hope I’ve gotten the balance just right.

    The story also explores how Jenny and Nicola overcome these issues. That’s a really important part of the book. No matter how scary and dark things become, there’s always help and support available.

    I should probably point out that the story isn’t all doom and gloom. Far from it. The experience of first love is a wondrous thing. There’s laughter and drama all thrown in the mix.

  2. If you could travel back in time and tell the teenage you one thing, what would it be?

    “Amy, you’re a lesbian. Surprise!”

    Well, maybe I’d not say it in quite that way. Knowing my teenage self as I do, I wouldn’t have listened anyway. In my head I was still thinking about becoming a Catholic nun. My reasoning at the time was as follows: I’d watched Sister Act too many times, I didn’t have to go near guys, and I’d be locked away with a bunch of repressed women. Thank goodness I finally saw sense.

    What I’d really say to my teenage self is, “Everything’s going to be just fine. You’ve got some amazing things to look forward to and a few difficult times ahead as well. Just keep on being you and follow your heart. It’s worth it in the end.”

    What would my teenage self say in return? I imagine it’d be, “Err, okay. Thanks. Do I really put on that much weight?”

  3. Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?

    Yes, there are a few things.

    Jenny confesses to watching Sister Act repeatedly as a child. I did that but took in one step further and genuinely considered becoming a nun.

    Jenny’s parents are Irish. Both sets of my grandparents are Irish and a lot of the mannerisms are the same. Such as: feeding large portions of home cooked food, the nosiness, the great sense of humor, and the closeness / importance of family.

    Home cooked food is important in Jenny’s family home. It was important in my family home too. Perhaps it’s the Irish in us, but we’ve always had lots of mash potato. I drive my wife crazy because it’s still one of my favorite foods and I insist we have it at least twice a week if not more.

    Nicola is an avid reader, (Like me) and for her coursework she’s reading, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This is one of the books I read and wrote an essay about when I was in college.

    Nicola isn’t a huge fan of drinking alcohol but in the end she quite likes cider. I drank cider occasionally as a teenager and I still drink it to this day.

  4. Which of your characters is most like you?

    Would it be cheating if I said both? Well, I’m going to say it anyway.

    Jenny is fiery and has a bit of a temper. She feels like no one really knows her and she’s terrified of being seen as different. Accepting her attraction to Nicola is a huge deal. She’s also incredibly caring and protective beneath the surly exterior.

    My teenage self was pretty much the same with the exception that I totally ignored my feelings for women and buried them deep down inside. I didn’t come to terms with my sexuality until I was in my mid twenties. So, I have huge respect for characters like Jenny and all of the young people who are brave enough to accept who they are at such an early age.

    Nicola is great at listening and is sensitive to other people’s emotions and feelings. She loves reading and devours one book after another. When she starts to think she might be gay she buys lots of lesbian themed books and DVDs online.

    I did this too. I spent a small fortune one night and then had to hide them all around my room so no one would find them. They opened my eyes to what life as a lesbian was really like and went on to help me accept who I was. I’ve also always been sensitive to other people’s emotions and feelings. My sister and mum are the same. Even today we still have people telling us their deepest darkest secrets. Thankfully, like Nicola, we’re all great at keeping secrets.

  5. Tell us about your cover design. Is there any symbolism from the story reflected in the cover?

    Bold Strokes Books has an incredibly talented graphic artist named Sheri. I was curious to see what she’d come up with. A number of varying designs were e-mailed to me and this one stood out among the others. It far exceeded my expectations. I love it as much today as I did when I first saw it. The girl on the front looks like how I described Jenny. The intense expression on her face, the tussled hair, and the interlinked fingers all show that she’s considering something serious. The jagged tear down the front suggests something dark and broken. The red text emphasizes the title and in conjunction with the image sets the mood perfectly for the story. It’s dark and gritty. Have I mentioned that I love it? Because I really do.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    Firstly, I’d like young readers to enjoy reading my novel. I hope they feel represented in the characters, story, and the emotions that are explored.

    When I was a young adult I remember reading everything I could get my hands on just to see if I could relate to the story and characters. More often than not, this wasn’t the case.

    This was the driving force behind writing Secret Lies. I wanted to give an honest portrayal of what life can be like for queer youth today without shying away from some of the serious issues. As a result the story is a little gritty and deals with some dark themes such as abuse and self-harm. It also explores the positives that come with experiencing first love, sexuality, and self-acceptance.

    I hope readers take solace from Jenny and Nicola’s story. No matter how dark and difficult life can seem, this won’t always be the case. For young people who are experiencing self-harm or abuse don’t be afraid to seek help. There are resources and support available. Never give up on yourself or your dreams. Never apologize for who you are and who you love. There’s a wealth of support, love, and incredible opportunities in the world, just waiting for you.

Now Available from Amy Dunne:

Secret Lies Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one you love?

Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize that she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.

Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and seemingly perfect life.

Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?

Secret Lies Giveaway!

Amy Dunne has generously donated a free paperback copy of Secret Lies for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on June 8th.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

New Releases for June 2014

Featured New Releases:

Freak Camp by Jessica V. Barnett

Freak Camp by Jessica V. Barnett

self-published by author

Thirteen-year-old Celeste Jardine has one priority for the summer: to identify her source — earth, air, water, or fire. Only then can she register for one of the four public source schools and avoid being sent to Fluidity, the local private school for unidentified teens. Things explode the last day of school when Celeste learns that her perfect best friend, May, is going away to earth camp for eight weeks. To add insult to injury, Celeste's mom has decided to send her to summer camp at the very place she has been trying so hard to avoid ... Fluidity. Celeste resolves to try anything under the sun—or on the Internet—to get into source school in the fall. But, after rekindling a friendship with her estranged neighbor, Rainie, Celeste must confront startling new truths about who she is, who she loves, and where she wants to be when fall classes start..
Home for Wayward Ladies by Jeremy Blaustein

Home for Wayward Ladies by Jeremy Blaustein

Published by Dress Circle Publishing

When used correctly, friendship is the most powerful weapon known to man. Fresh out of Mackinaw Conservatory’s School of Theater, Eli, Hunter, and Nick have relocated to Manhattan’s Upper-Upper West Side bound by an oath that friendship shall conquer all. Amid bitchy brunches and failed one-night stands, these friends- as promising as they are promiscuous are on a quest to have their voices heard over the roar of the city.When they get a chance to work in summer stock, this “family” is forced to find out the hard way what it takes to become the ultimate anything: a somebody. Day jobs pay bills and hand jobs stroke the ego, but handling betrayal with grace is the best way to prove who is a true Lady. “The Home for Wayward Ladies made me laugh out loud, but with a lump in my throat for those funny, warm, real and delightful characters. They're your brother, your son and your friend and it's a treat to hang out with them and hear their very honest and smart voices. I wanted to adopt them all.” - Iris Rainer Dart (Beaches) "The Home for Wayward Ladies isn’t just funny. It’s laugh-out-loud, read-out-loud-to-your-friends, snort-a-cocktail-out-your-nose, lose-bladder-control kind of funny. A gem of a debut in the effervescent tradition of P.G. Wodehouse, Patrick Dennis and Armistead Maupin" - Marc Acito, (How I Paid for College) .
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

Published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Why bother, when their home cooking is far superior to anything "these Americans" could come up with? Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshmen year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan. Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. When Ethan gets Alek to cut school and go to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City’s Central Park, Alek embarks on his first adventure outside the confines of his suburban New Jersey existence. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again. Michael Barakiva's One Man Guy is a romantic, moving, laugh-out-loud-funny story about what happens when one person cracks open your world and helps you see everything—and, most of all, yourself--like you never have before.
Pretty Peg by Skye Allen

Pretty Pegby Skye Allen

Published by Harmony Ink Press

High school senior Josy Grant already had plenty on her plate before she found the magic puppet theater her murdered sister left behind. Despite Josy’s grief, the responsibility of taking care of her family falls to her, and being queer doesn’t make dealing with school any easier. Things only get worse when sexy new girl Nicky tells Josy her sister died at the hands of a mysterious figure from the Faerie Realm called the Woodcutter, and if they can’t stop him, Josy and her remaining sister will be next. They have just days before the Woodcutter strikes again on the autumn equinox, so Josy follows Nicky into the Faerie Realm to hunt him. Along the way, she discovers Fey gifts of her own and answers to the questions that have driven the Grant family apart. Nothing comes for free when dealing with Fey, though, and those gifts and answers might come at a terrible price.
Shoulder Pads and Flannel by Jo Ramsey

Shoulder Pads and Flannel by Jo Ramsey

Published by Harmony Ink Press

High school football star Guillermo Garcia can count himself among the popular kids—for now. Although he secretly dates Evan Granger, who is openly gay and badly bullied for it, Guillermo doesn’t dare let his teammates, classmates, or close-knit family learn about his sexuality. But Guillermo witnessed an attack on Evan, and now the school bullies plan to out Guillermo in retaliation. In their small town, word spreads rapidly, so Guillermo must make a quick choice—come out now on his own or risk having someone else do it for him.
Sink or Swim by Zoe Lynne

Sink or Swim by Zoe Lynne

Self-published by author; FREE Read

When Jason's parents decide to the pull the plug on their marriage, Jason's father forces him to go to a camp that'll turn his son into a strapping young man and not some fairy like Jason's theatre camp does. He hates it there, but the cool kids love him. Thomas Carroll isn't one of the cool kids, not by any stretch of the imagination. He's a chunky boy with bright freckles and hair the color of a copper penny, but somehow, he manages to befriend the cute new boy at camp. Only, the cute new boy only acknowledges their friendship in private. One boy's fear of drowning and hunger to swim leads to an eye-opening experience, and one boy will admit to having feelings and attractions he never would've admitted to otherwise.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Andrew Demcak

Andrew Demcak is an award-winning poet and novelist whose work has been widely published and anthologized both in print and on-line, and whose books have been featured by The American Library Association, Verse Daily, The Lambda Literary Foundation, The Best American Poetry blog, The Nervous Breakdown, and Poets/Artists. His first Young Adult (YA) novel, GHOST SONGS, was published March 13, 2014 by Harmony Ink Press. His first literary novel, If There's A Heaven Above, was published January 5, 2013 by JMS Books. His fourth book of poetry, Night Chant, was published by Lethe Press, 2011. His other poetry books are: A Single Hurt Color, GOSS 183::Casa Menendez Press, 2010, Zero Summer, BlazeVOX [Books], NY, 2009 and his first poetry book, Catching Tigers in Red Weather, three candles press, 2007, that was selected by Joan Larkin to win the Three Candles Press Open Book Award. He was a 2010 Finalist for The Crazyhorse Poetry Award. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Lambda Award, Thom Gunn Poetry Award, both the California and Northern California Book Awards, Best of the Web, and others. He has an M. F. A. in English/Creative Writing from St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA. 

Connect with Andrew Demcak on Twitter @andrewdemcak or visit his website:

Q&A with Author Andrew Demcak:

  1. In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

    Ghost Songs is genre bending in two ways: first, it's a GLBTQ YA novel that’s not a romance. The lead character, Todd, doesn’t spend all his time pining over some boy or worrying about his sexuality. It’s a ghost story and not someone’s diary entries. The second way is: Ghost Songs, as M/M fiction, has extremely strong female characters. Todd’s best friend Jennifer, and Todd’s mother, Eddie, are not just decorations in the background – their stories are as important as Todd’s.

  2. What are your writing goals for the next five years?

    I’ve got two more unpublished novels finished: another GLBTQ YA novel, A Little Bit Langston, which is a speculative fiction coming out story (read: coming out = super powers) and my adult literary fiction, Limboville (it’s a farce about the most famous pulp fiction romance writer going through a divorce and cancer treatment – I know that doesn’t sound funny. But it is, as well as being very touching.) Plus I have two more completed poetry collections, Lazarus and The Excitable Gift, both ready to go. I am currently finishing my new poetry collection, Crytopedia, which is an encyclopedia of the weird and strange, all the prose poetry cut-up from Wikipedia articles.

  3. Do you believe in ghosts?

    Yes. I grew up in a haunted house. The ghost used to jingle keys down the hallways and come and sit on the edge of beds during the night. Creepy, but totally harmless. It was like the loop of an old film that kept playing.

  4. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?

    Ahhh, that’s the theme of my new GLBTQ YA novel, A Little Bit Langston. The lead character James always seems to give off a green spark of electricity when he touches his best friend Paul. I wonder what that could be all about?

  5. What other interests do you have outside of writing?

    Knitting, collection 20th century American art pottery (Love Grueby, Rookwood, and Rose Cabat’s work), jogging, hiking, camping with my partner Roland (he’s an ex-Marine and is into all that stuff, too)

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    The takeaway is a real sense that they are Okay as they are, and they do not have to do this alone. We are a large supportive community. Also, I like to think my books impart a kind of hope, or at least, a positive outlook, in spite of their heavy-duty subject matter.

Now Available from Andrew Demcak:

Ghost Songs It’s not easy being Todd Williams, a fourteen-and-a-half-year-old gay musical prodigy. The bullies, Bob and Ari, at his fancy private school make his life a living hell. Todd’s drunken, irresponsible mother, Eddie, constantly embarrasses him and puts his artistic future in jeopardy. And now, his best friend, Jennifer, who plays clarinet with him in the orchestra, isn’t speaking to him. Maybe Leroy, Todd’s friendly poltergeist, knows what’s going on with her. To top it off, he can no longer rely on Jennifer's help in the race to solve a puzzle that could lead to a buried treasure. Todd must learn to stand alone. He’s finding out that growing up is far scarier than he ever imagined.

If There’s a Heaven Above (18+) (Nominated by The American Library Association for its 2014 Rainbow Books List) "If There's A Heaven Above" takes the reader on a tour of the Southern California demi-monde Goth scene of the mid-1980s, as seen through the eyes of 18 year-old club-kid, Matt. Andrew Demcak combines innocence with experience, sex and drugs, Love and Rockets, with just the right touch of poetry. It is a thrilling ride along the freeways and turntables of that era: when AIDS was new, Reagan was King, and hope was a wounded kitten, cared for by the creatures of the night.

Ghost Songs and If There’s a Heaven Above Giveaway!

Andrew Demcak has generously donated a free copy of Ghost Songs and If There’s a Heaven Above for two lucky winners. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on June 1st.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Krissy Bells

Krissy Bells was born and raised in the Detroit metro area. A former school secretary, she now spends her days as a stay-at-home mom. She is passionate about her family and friends, her Dachshund named Harry, and anything topped with cheese or chocolate.

Q&A with Author Krissy Bells:

  1. If you could travel back in time and tell the teenage you one thing, what would it be?

    Not to worry so much about what other people think of me and to stand up for myself. I still have to remind myself of those things daily.

  2. Do you have a nervous habit when writing?  A guilty pleasure when writing?  

    Snacks are absolutely involved in all of my writing sessions. I’m a procrastinator for sure and unfortunately chocolate is the perfect stress reliever for me. At least until I realize, I’ve say, emptied an entire bag of Dove chocolates or as I like to affectionately refer to them, Dovies.

  3. Is there one genre of YA that you would love to write but haven’t?

    I totally hope I can write a fantasy novel one day. When books are able to take their reader to an entirely new world, I think it is truly amazing. Getting lost in a place filled with creatures and words and things that you have never even heard of before is a magical experience.

  4. What season do you like to write your stories in most or do you love writing in all of them and why?

    Fall is the perfect time to write. It is my favorite time of the year and always brings me my greatest inspiration.

  5. If there is one message you would like to get out from your book, what would it be?

    I hope that there are several that are present in the story of Aaron Garrett. More than anything I want readers to consider the ways in which their actions may unknowingly or even unintentionally affect others. I was inspired to write this story after the Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty controversy occurred. I was shocked to see the outpouring of social media support for such ludicrous statements. It made me want to put myself in the shoes of someone struggling with their sexuality on the other side, maybe having to see their loved ones post support for the comments. Especially with social media, it has become much easier to hurt others without even having to look at the other person or be accountable. Whether it is memes with racially insensitive jokes or pictures of scantily clad girls being passed around and promoted. I just wanted to remind people that there are individuals that those things affect and hurt. There is a gay teen somewhere that saw that stupid meme you posted with homophobic content or a girl struggling with her body image that is constantly seeing people like and share pictures of women with unattainable physiques. I think social media insensitivity is unfortunately a problem that will continue to impact our future generations.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    That acceptance and love are the most amazing of gifts.

Now Available from Krissy Bells:

Fag Aaron Garrett is many things in life: he is a son, a friend, a student, and caring boyfriend to his lovely girlfriend Leigh Ann. In these roles, he is kind, hardworking, smart, loving, dedicated, and considerate. At Jefferson High School, he is a leader, a football star, and well-respected by his peers. Aaron’s life is perfectly on track, he is pursuing a college scholarship and hopeful for the future, except for just one thing: Aaron Garrett is gay. When a former child star from Aaron’s small Southern town saturates the national media after making homophobic comments, Aaron’s life is turned upside down as supporters rally around the sentiments. Social media attention begins to swell nationally and locally until it begins to eat away at every part of Aaron’s existence.

Fag Giveaway!

Krissy Bells has generously donated a free copy of Fag for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on May 25th.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Alex Norris

Alex Norris
Alex Norris is an author and undergraduate at the University of Cambridge.

Connect with Alex Norris on Twitter @AlexSNorris or visit his website:

Q&A with Author Alex Norris:

  1. What part of the story was the most fun to write? The most challenging?

    I always enjoy writing no matter which part of the book I’m focused on, but there were certainly parts of this story that were harder to write than others. Anyone who has read the novel will know that it contains some fairly gritty scenes and some rather unpleasant events and these were, at times, very hard for me to write about. On one hand, I was keen to portray the events in the book in as realistic a way as possible, but on the other, I was cautious not to stray into giving overly explicit descriptions. There were times when I was unsure of how much sexual detail would be appropriate for certain scenes, but ultimately I think I struck a fairly good balance.

  2. What are your writing goals for the next five years?

    Ideally, I’d like to release a new book every year. At the moment I’m sticking to that goal and am planning to release my second novel this summer. As I’m currently in my final year at university though, the future is a little uncertain at the moment. I don’t know where I’ll be in a year’s time or what I’ll be doing, but whatever it is, I will certainly make sure I have plenty of time for writing.

  3. Which of your characters is most like you?

    My main character, Lewis, is based very heavily on myself. At first I was cautious of creating a protagonist based on so many aspects of my own personality, mostly because I worried people would take the story as a memoir rather than a work of fiction. However in the end, I decided that the most important thing for me was to include a strong sense of realism. I decided that by drawing from my own emotions and experiences (some of Lewis’ memories are almost indistinguishable from my own), I would be able to create a character that was both convincing and relatable.

  4. Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?

    I put lots of myself into my writing purely because I want to write realistic fiction that is heavily based on real life. Throughout the entire novel you can find references to popular culture taken straight from real life as well as the odd episode that I have loosely adapted from my own experiences. I find it’s very easy to fall into clichés when writing about certain themes and so I try to depend on my own experiences as much as possible. At one point of the book, Lewis is dogged by memories of a boy he was infatuated with, but who let him down. The whole episode is taken more or less word-for-word from my own experience. It is quite cathartic to talk about such difficult experiences through the prism of fiction – it gives you some distance from the events and lets you assess them objectively. Ultimately though, the aspects of my own life that are in the book are not necessarily specific to me, but are experiences and emotions that most people will have gone through, or will go through, at some point. I hope that people will be able to relate to what I write, and understand that much of it doesn’t come from imagination, but from memory.

  5. How do you research your books?

    Before I started writing this book I was wary of tackling such difficult issues as homelessness and prostitution. I was therefore very keen to do some good research so I could write about these themes convincingly. I volunteered with a local organisation that feeds people without homes or on low incomes, and it was my experiences there that inspired much of the story. I also talked to shelters about the problems facing homeless people and made sure I did abundant research online.

For the sexual aspect, my inspiration simply came from the slew of messages that I, as well as a lot of gay men with an online presence, receive from people soliciting for sex. I thought it would be interesting to ask what would happen if I was ever to accept such an offer. Although I never went as far as meeting any of these men, I was fortunate enough to talk to people who had met with men in exchange for money. Their experiences helped me get an idea of what it’s like to have sex for money, outside of the clichés we are often subjected to in films and on TV.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    I would like to change the way all people, regardless of age, view homelessness. So often we encounter homeless people, especially in big cities, but think of them as little more than inconvenient distractions from our own comfortable lives. I would like to think that after reading the book, people will reassess the attitudes they have towards people who have fallen on difficult times. 

    In terms of sexuality, I would like young readers to appreciate the fact that in the case of the novel’s protagonist, his being gay is very much a non-issue. Unlike a lot of LGBT literature, this is not a coming out story. This is a story of a young, gay student whose sexuality does not define him or dictate his experiences of university. It does, however, provide him with a unique idea of how his status as a young, gay man might help him raise money for his new homeless friends.

Now Available from Alex Norris:

Angel Cambridge University isn't everything Lewis wanted it to be. Still hung up on a lost love affair from the past and surrounded by friends he loves and loathes in equal measure, Lewis' life takes a dramatic turn after a chance encounter with homeless Rosie. Desperately seeking meaning among the vacuous student lifestyle, Lewis embarks on a quest to help those without homes and without voices.

Through a string of secret and sordid affairs with strange men he meets online, Lewis tries to raise money for his new homeless friends. Along the way he'll encounter a transvestite with the lips of Brigitte Bardot, a gorgeous French traveler, and a slew of lonely men willing to pay for satisfaction.

But as Lewis delves further into the depraved, secret life of Cambridge's backstreets, his faith in humanity and hope for his own future decline rapidly. How low is he willing to sink to make some cash?

Angel Giveaway!

Alex Norris has generously donated a free copy of Angel for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on May 19th.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New Releases for May 2014

Featured New Releases:

Chasing My Dream

Chasing My Dream by Jeff Erno

Published by Top 2 Bottom Bookstore

Sixteen year old Nash Adams feels like the token gay guy in his small, northern Michigan high school. When his boyfriend dumps him on the very night they're supposed to go to the carnival together, Nash wonders if he'll ever find the guy of his dreams. Later that night, beneath a full moon, Nash gazes into the midnight sky and sees a shooting star. At the urging of his best friend Cala, he halfheartedly makes a wish. A few miles away, Caleb Cummings lies on the beach staring up at the sky when he notices a star that seems to be moving. He makes a wish of his own. When Nash and Caleb fall asleep that night, they wake up together. Though at first confused, it doesn't take long to figure out what has happened. They've entered each other's dreams. Initially they're each convinced the other is a figment of their imagination, but when the phenomena continues to occur, night after night, Nash wonders if there might be a way to find Caleb in real life. It shouldn't be difficult to find someone in this modern, technological age. But as he begins his search, he faces numerous frustrating obstacles. Eventually he has to decide if it is even worth the effort to keep searching for an imaginary friend. Maybe he should give up on his dream guy and look for someone in the real world..
Angles and Curves

Angles and Curvesby George Berger

Published by Queerteen Press

Steve is a student at a rural Montana high school who is taking twelfth grade for the second time. There he meets Heather and Gretchen, two elves in a relationship who are outcasts just like him. Though elvish kingdoms are formally recognized by the federal government, the Supreme Court doesn’t see elves as human, so they don’t benefit from the same basic rights that others do. Steve is transgendered, and can empathize with the elves’ plight. Friendships are forged between him and the elves when they realize all three have had problems with a bully named Melvin and the jocks at school, who are known to sexually assault elves. Despite his age, Steve lives alone, and has to produce a “parent” for parent/teacher day. He enlists the help of his elvish friends to hire an adult, but their scheme backfires when they’re caught soliciting an undercover policewoman named Sara Raimi. However, with their newfound connection to Sara, they look to find a way to catch Melvin and his cohorts. Angles and Curves is a fresh and enticing story about racism, sexism, and sexuality, and what it means to be human after all..
For a Price

For a Price by Hallie Burton

Published by Harmony Ink

At seventeen, Charles “Trey” Maddox Taft III has had better years. His father ran off with a younger woman, and with no alimony or child support, his family has to move from affluent Coconut Grove to a rough neighborhood near Miami’s Little Havana. It’s a completely different world, but Trey is determined to make the best of a bad situation, if only no one finds out he’s gay. On Trey’s first day in his new territory, he’s saved from being run over by local bad boy Bobby Cruz. Bobby is an unabashedly gay, sexually active high school senior who’s tired of one-night stands. After meeting preppie Trey, Bobby decides to try something new. Things go well at first, but being in a relationship is tricky and might take more work than either wants to do..
Grave's End

Grave's Endby Hayden Thorne

Published by Queerteen Press

It isn’t business as usual for Maelwine when a new family moves into Grave’s End House. With the old, great house standing untenanted for quite some time, being a house shade attached to it has turned the hours dull for Maelwine. He has no family to entertain him, no variations in his daily duty, which involves the rousing of shadows in every room when the sun goes down. Things change when the Villar family arrive, however, and Maelwine is finally happily caught up in the comings and goings at Grave’s End. That is, until he notices Royden Villar, a young boy with a secret that depresses his spirits and touches Maelwine in surprising and alarming ways. The more Maelwine studies Royden’s behavior, the more he glimpses the other boy’s heart, and, suddenly, new paths reveal themselves to Maelwine -- paths that are as muddy as they are dangerous. As a house shade, Maelwine is immortal and enjoys certain benefits that can only come with immortality. Not once has he questioned his situation. It is, after all, as Nature has always intended. But with Royden’s arrival, Maelwine’s forced to face difficult answers to unsettling questions about the nature of his existence. He’s only a house shade, after all, and nothing more. He doesn’t have a heart, doesn’t feel loneliness in the shadows of his world. Things should be easy, but Royden Villar has set certain wheels in motion, and there’s simply no turning back..
Little Black Dress

The Little Black Dressby Linda Palund

Published by Harmony Ink

Carmen is the most beautiful and desirable girl Lucy has ever known, and when Carmen is savagely murdered, Lucy’s teenage life crumbles. She is devastated by the loss of her first love, and when it appears the killers might never be found, she vows to solve the murder herself. Together with her best friend Seth, who is not only a master computer hacker but also the son of LA’s new Chief of Homicide, they gain access to the gruesome autopsy reports. They learn the true extent of the horror inflicted on Carmen, and Lucy gets closer to understanding the secret behind Carmen’s little black dress. After another beautiful girl is murdered, they uncover the brutality lurking within the corridors of their privileged Los Angeles high school. They put their lives on the line to come face to face with the murderer himself..
This Is Not a Love Story

This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet

Published by Harmony Ink

When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him. Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough. This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy).

Monday, May 5, 2014

Featured Author: D.E. Atwood

When D.E. Atwood was in second grade, she finally grew tall enough to see the shelf above the mysteries in the bookmobile. She discovered a rich landscape of alternate worlds, magic, and space and has never looked back from the genres of fantasy and science fiction. When she was twelve, she declared that she was going to be a writer, and share the stories that she saw happening all around her. She wanted to create characters that others would care about, and that would touch their lives, like the books that she read had touched her own life. Today she has combined her interests, creating genre stories about the people who live next door, bringing magic into the world around us. When not writing, D.E. Atwood is a mother (to two children, a cat, a dog), a wife, a reader, a knitter, a systems administrator, almost a black belt in tae kwon do, and a music aficionado. Sleep, she claims, is optional.

Connect with D.E. Atwood on Twitter @DEAtwoodWrites or visit her website:

Q&A with Author D.E. Atwood:

  1. Which of your characters is most like you?

    I feel like the answer should be Jordan, because so much of him is drawn from within my own mind and heart, but if I'm being dead honest, it's Maria. Her pushiness, her exuberance, the way she ignores personal space and at the same time, the way she wants to be close. The way she sees the good side and thinks that things are going to work out as long as she believes hard enough. The way she wants to live her life just flat out, and wants to see the best in the people around her. She is what I would be if I had the ability to let go of fear; she is my natural personality turned up to an eleven. And she is very much a character of my heart for all of that. It was an absolute joy to give her the freedom to be herself on the page.

  2. What other interests do you have outside of writing?

    Loads! I love music, and my daughter and I like to go to concerts. This year we are hoping to see William Beckett, All Time Low, and go to Warped during the summer. Also on the potential list for summer outdoor shows are Def Leppard, Journey, and Steve Miller Band. My daughter is angling to see Queen's tour with Adam Lambert, but I'm not sure that one is going to work out, which is a pity because I'd love to see it too.

Then there's Tae Kwon Do, which I adore, perhaps to the point of obsession. My son started TKD when he was five and having trouble sitting still. Seven years later, he has his second dan and is working his way towards his third dan while he also learns how to coach. I started almost four years ago and am looking ahead to my own black belt test this summer, and my husband started about a year after I did. So it's a huge family thing that we do, and all three of us are also a part of the tournament team. My daughter doesn't do TKD, but she does do Combat Hapkido, which is the self-defense specific discipline that our school teaches, along with the rest of us. We spend a lot of time at the dojang, but I think it is worth it, both for the exercise for all of us, and for the confidence and strength that it teaches. 

TKD is a huge thing in my life because it is something I thought I couldn't do, and that I actually love doing. I'm short (tall is better), overweight, and well, old compared to lots of folks doing it. But I work hard at it, and I've actually won against an opponent in a tournament (shocked me! It was awesometastic!), and I'm going to be getting my black belt. This is huge as far as I'm concerned, because this is something I never saw myself doing. It's not a sport designed for someone my age, weight, and somewhat broken body. But I do it and I'm halfway decent at it.

What that says to me is don't believe the hype. The only thing to believe in is yourself. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't be successful because you're not the right "type" somehow. 

Er, so yes, tae kwon do. Obsessed. If you ever want to hear more about it, just stop by my blog, because I really do talk about it periodically.

  3. Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?  

    In this case, it's the play that the book revolves around! I fell in love with Shakespeare as a teenager in the 80s. My parents dragged me (yes, at the time I thought I was dragged, and now I look back and treasure the memories) to various plays throughout my young life, and among them were various Shakespearean comedies. I learned to appreciate the humor and commentary that Shakespeare made about human life.

    A Midsummer Night's Dream was one of my favorite shows. My school performed it (I didn't take part, but my best friends were all in the show, so I was with them through every rehearsal) when I was in high school. I read it so many times, and analyzed it, and fell in love with all the words. Then I read a YA book which had it as a part of the story, and I fell in love with Puck all over again. Somehow Dream became a part of my high school experience, and a part of my growth, and Puck in particular with his mischief became a synonym for the way my own group of friends came together and changed over those years. 

I've wanted to write my own story including Dream for a long time, and when I sat down to do so, I knew I couldn't just let it stay with that one part of Shakespeare's works. I needed to branch out into other shows which had formed a large part of how I looked at life from a young age, like Twelfth Night, and see if I could let the Bard influence the characters in my story as much as he influenced me.

  4. How do you research for your books?

    I really try to focus in on the human experience. I'm a character-driven writer, and I want to be able to use everything I learn as filtered through my characters' eyes. So I read everything I can get my hands on, preferring personal memoirs to dry history. I love youtube videos where people tell me things. I love talking to friends who have experience with the topic, finding out what they recommend and then viewing/reading that. My research is almost random, with one thing leading me to another, and different facts and experiences setting of plot bunnies in my mind that I have to jot down, and then that sets off another need for research. I end up writing a lot down, and just assimilating other things into the back of my mind so they can be blurted back out later in the form of how a character sees the world.

    For Shadows, I am exceedingly grateful to my friends for helping with my research and pointing me toward useful resources.

  5. Is there one genre of YA that you would love to write but haven’t? (example: paranormal, contemporary, fantasy)

    There are two that I want to write desperately, and have stories vaguely plotted, but they aren't done simmering on the backburner of my brain yet.

First, I want to write my own dystopia. They are everywhere right now, and the best part about tropes is the idea of turning it on its ear. How can I write a dystopia and have it be unique and different and interesting? This is an idea that's still forming in my mind, and I have some of the characters and the outline of a vague few plot points so far, but I need to do a ton of research in order to properly build the world. I started just writing (my usual technique) and quickly realized that there is a ton more world-building involved than I can do off the cuff. I need to nail down all the specifics of the world so that they can come out in dialogue and description, without being intrusive. But I'm hoping I've got a good idea that will be edgy without being completely out there, and when it's done simmering, I'll get that written.

Second, I want to write a superhero novel. I grew up reading about superheroes and fell in love with the idea of how having some incredible power means having to look carefully at how you do things. I read a lot of Marvel comics because they weren't black and white issues. There were questions of morality and the why and how of decision-making during every storyline. Plus: SUPERHEROES. Didn't we all dream of being telepathic or telekinetic or being able to teleport at one time or another? It would be one way to bring those childhood dreams alive.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    I want them to know that they are not alone, and that there are other people out there who have similar thoughts, tastes, loves, problems, loves, interests, fears… and that those characters are making their way in the world and finding happiness, and so can every single teen out there. While growing up, I always looked for myself in books and the ones where I found something similar became my favorites. I hope to create adventures and stories which have characters that people can relate to.

Now Available from D.E. Atwood:

If We Shadows Born female, all Jordan wants is to slip under the radar and live the last year of high school as a boy. His parents and siblings support him, but he’d rather be recognized for his acting and musical talents than his gender issues.

When Shakespeare’s Puck gives him three magical potions—true sight, true seeming, and true love—Jordan discovers being true to himself isn’t as simple as he thought.

Jordan must navigate the confusion of first love, a controversial role in the fall musical, and his transgender identity, while fairy magic creates a net of complications over everything he does. In order to unweave the spells laid over his friends—his supportive older brother, James, his playwright friend, Pepper, and Maria, another transgender student—Jordan needs to understand exactly how far he’ll go to reach his goals of finding true love, true sight, and true seeming.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Featured Author: J.S. Frankel

J.S. Frankel was born in Toronto a rather long time ago and moved to Japan when he was in his mid-twenties in order to teach English to anyone who would listen to him. In 1997 he married the charming Akiko Koike and they decided to make their home in Japan for good.

Currently, Frankel and his family live in Osaka where he teaches English by day and writes until the wee hours of the morning. His specialty is Young Adult fiction, and Twisted is his first novel—a gender switch—and deals with sexual identity as well as the concept of finding love with that special someone no matter what form they inhabit or what they look like. He is also the author of the upcoming Lindsay Versus the Marauders which will be released in July of this year.

Connect with J.S. Frankel on Twitter @JessSFrankel or visit his website:

Q&A with Author J.S. Frankel:

  1. Tell us about your cover design. Is there any symbolism from the story reflected in the cover?

    In Twisted, you see the MC of the story, Charlie Matthews, staring into a mirror. This foreshadows the person he will become. (You gotta read the story, though!) It also shows that what we see in the mirror isn’t necessarily who we are.

  2. In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

    I think it gives a different ‘twist’ on the old idea of gender switches. Gender switching is not a new genre by any means and goes back to ancient Egypt. In more modern times, you have a number of television shows and movies that have dealt with it. However, they tend to bring a number of stereotypes which I tried to avoid. In large part, I think I’ve succeeded.

  3. What are your writing goals for the next five years?

    I’d like to keep writing for not only the gay market, but also for all markets. I really want to improve as an individual who can write from various viewpoints and age groups.

  4. Which of your characters is most like you?

    Good question! Probably Charlie, the main character in Twisted. He’s the kind of guy who’ll stick up for others even if it’s not the most popular thing to do. But I was always taught that sometimes you will become unpopular because of what you do. I’ve learned to ignore the criticism for it. I want to do my own thing—write about whatever subject matter I like—and if people don’t agree with it, then too bad. I won’t stop.

  5. How do you research for your books?

    I do a lot of research online and also consult my sister. For Twisted, I had to employ some terms used in the Middle Ages, and my sister who is well versed in those matters, helped me immensely.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    My takeaway message for anyone is that you should never be ashamed of what you are. It doesn’t matter what race, religion, or creed you are, and it doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is. People are people. You should be proud of the person that you are and no one has the right to tell you any different.

Now Available from J.S. Frankel:

Twisted Chivalry isn't dead. It just wears a skirt.

Highschoolers Charlie Matthews, his adopted brother Martin, and Sharon Collins win a contest to play an interactive medieval game as the avatars of their favorite characters. Their mission: fight off the monsters, storm the castle, and capture the evil king.

But things go terribly wrong. Charlie is dismayed to discover he is Angella of Avernon, the lead female character in the game. Fortunately, she's the most powerful avatar around, but he also finds out that he, Martin, and Sharon have been infected with a virus that will kill them outside the game, so they have to stay inside the scenario.

Trapped and beset on all sides, Charlie has to deal with the sexism of the characters circa 1430, his stepbrother's distaste for his female form, and his feelings about becoming a woman. In addition to fighting off the various monsters within the scenario, Charlie tries to fight his attraction to Sharon...and then realizes Sharon is attracted to him, which makes it all the more confusing.

When the deadly opponents in the game get the upper hand, Charlie must summon all of his love and courage to save the day and rescue Sharon. Will he understand that love is where you find it and that the gender of the one you love doesn't matter at all?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Releases for April, 2014

Featured New Releases:


Because of Her by KE Payne

Published by Bold Strokes

For seventeen-year-old Tabitha "Tabby" Morton, life sucks. Big time. Forced to move to London thanks to her father's new job, she has to leave her friends, school, and, most importantly, her girlfriend Amy, far behind. To make matters worse, Tabby's parents enroll her in the exclusive Queen Victoria Independent School for Girls, hoping that it will finally make a lady of her. But Tabby has other ideas. Loathing her new school, Tabby fights against everything and everyone, causing relations with her parents to hit rock bottom. But when the beautiful and beguiling Eden Palmer walks into her classroom one day and catches her eye, Tabby begins to wonder if life there might not be so bad after all. When Amy drops a bombshell about their relationship following a disastrous visit, Tabby starts to see the need for new direction in her life. Fighting her own personal battles, Eden brings the possibility of change for them both. Gradually, Tabby starts to turn her life around—and it's all because of her..

Breaking Free by Winter Page

Published by Harmony Ink Press

Raimi Carter is finally a girl, just like she always knew she was meant to be. At a new school where nobody knows she’s had gender reassignment surgery, she hopes to finally live the normal life she’s longed for, happy in her own skin. Life is great until she discovers a dangerous bully is blackmailing head cheerleader, Clare Strickland, threatening to reveal her secret: she’s gay. As Raimi fights to free Clare from his clutches, the two girls move beyond friendship. But secrets from their pasts and their own fears of coming out tear them apart—maybe forever. Baring their souls to each other could cost them everything. For two girls trapped and desperately in love, only strength, courage, and trust in each other will help them break free and claim their future..

Eagle Peak by Elizabeth Fontaine

Published by Torquere Press (Prizm Division)

Eagle Peak, population 596, has two bars, five churches, and a vibe (or lack thereof) that couldn’t be more different than Sean's native Minneapolis. Moving to rural small town Minnesota, Sean must leave his life of acting classes, going to all-ages shows, and hanging out with friends, to enter into a world of pep rallies, pick-up trucks and country pop. Sean’s inclination for heavy eyeliner, black attire, and surly attitude make him an easy target of suspicion, intrigue, and prejudice in the small town of Eagle Peak. But despite Sean’s growing sense of dread and depression, small town Minnesota also offers a lot of firsts: he becomes the love interest of three classmates of which one is a closeted gay boy afraid of his own sexuality, he is surprised to discover and chant with a Buddhist family in town, and he gets in the middle of an abusive father and his town jock son. Sean’s old life of theater, live music, and diverse friends collides with his new life in Eagle Peak, and Sean is left confused about what he thought he knew about small towns, the world he left behind, and himself..

Hunters by A.M. Burns

Published by Harmony Ink Press

Bigfoot hunters prowl the forests of Cripple Creek, Colorado. That doesn’t sit well with Thom Woodmen—a Bigfoot—albeit the runt of his family. Being the smallest has advantages; Thom, in disguise, gets to attend high school, and he’s not expected to accomplish much in life. All that changes when he comes across a distressed human in the forest. Ben Steele is new to Cripple Creek High School, and after a harrowing experience in the woods near his new home, he quickly falls in with Thom Woodmen and his circle of friends. So what if they like to hang out with nature? Ben’s got nothing better to do. Trouble is, Ben can’t seem to stay out of it—trouble, that is. However, in saving young Ben’s life, Thom inadvertently kick-starts a bonding process that’ll change both their lives forever. With the support of family and friends, Thom learns to accept bonding with the human boy. But with the danger overrunning Cripple Creek lately, Thom may be cut down before he can confess his secret and his love..

If You Really Love Me by Gene Gant

Published by Harmony Ink Press

With time ticking until graduation, Ellis Carter doesn’t have a plan for after high school. Since his best friend Cary dropped out, he has no one to talk to. All he knows is he doesn’t want to continue being a burden to his mother. Adding to his daily torture is the school’s new resident bad boy, Saul Brooks. So to say he’s amazed when the mysterious Saul invites him to the gym for a workout is an understatement. Soon, they go from workout buddies to boyfriends, and Ellis couldn’t be happier. But happiness is fleeting. His mother begins a new relationship he thinks will lead to pain, and Cary makes a decision that could take him out of Ellis’s life for good. Just when he needs to lean on his boyfriend the most, Ellis discovers Saul has a secret that could break them apart..

Outshine the Stars by Nash Summers

Published by Queerteen Press

Justin is hell on legs. He’s a self-proclaimed brat, a manipulator, and has a bit of a flare for the dramatic. While Justin might look like the picture of innocence, he leaves a path of terror wherever he goes. His senior year starts off like all the others, him and his best friend sticking their noses up at everyone else while they bask in their own glory. But when a handsome new student catches Justin’s eye, he recruits the likes of a smart-mouthed kid named Connor to help him in his mission to capture the heart of the attractive newcomer. When Justin is finally forced to face himself and the truth behind his self¬-centered universe, it feels like the sky comes crashing down..

Revolt of the Perfectly Free by Kim Flowers

Published by Queerteen Press

In this steampunk version of American history, slavery was abolished during the American Revolution and Native Americans live in harmony with immigrants of all races. Steam-powered carriages and trains make travel easier, and automaton robots do manual labor such as planting crops. The government uses a mixture of native ways and democracy, with both a chief and a governor ruling over the state of Delaware. Across the ocean in Great Britain, the people live in a near-dystopia, and tyranny and inequality still reign. Amelia Corn is the daughter of the governor of Delaware, and her best friend Two-Spirit is son of the Lenape chief. When a delegate from Great Britain arrives and threatens war unless the U.S. agrees to serve Queen Victoria under colonial rule again, Amelia and Two-Spirit know they must make sure this never happens. Amelia enlists the aid of Nadine, a beautiful slave of the British delegate, who organizes a revolt while the citizens attack the British ships. Two-Spirit’s boyfriend, the warrior Strong Arrow, completes their team and helps take out any traitors or enemies who get in their way. Amelia falls in love with Nadine, whose family is an ocean away; Nadine doesn’t know if she has room in her heart for romance. Two-Spirit becomes both shaman and warrior, which makes Strong Arrow insecure; he faces ridicule from his father because of who he loves. And the biggest threat of all is the might of the entire British Imperial Navy, rumored to be headed to Delaware to set up a stronghold for Queen Victoria to rule. Can Amelia and her friends defeat their enemies or will they be torn apart, victims of a failed attempt at perfect freedom? The stories in this anthology are available as separate e-books. Contains the following stories: Amelia's Revolution, Two-Spirit's Red Road, Nadine's Voyage, and Strong Arrow's Warpath.

Special Effect by Russell J. Sanders

Published by Harmony Ink Press

Graduating senior, theater lighting wunderkind, and closeted gay, Nick Fortunati volunteers with The Streetwise Players in the dark corners of The Laughton, a creepy old movie palace decorated in Grand Guignol style. But his father wishes Nick would use his intellect and his scholarship to become a biotech engineer and earn a prosperous living for his future family. Nick loves his dad and wants to please him, but he dreams of a career in theater. And he wants a male lover. Unfortunately, his homophobic father won’t approve of either. When Nick’s at his loneliest, out of the corners of the theater and into his life comes trouble-laden Steve Stripling, a man with little memory of his past other than his name. Meanwhile, Nick’s introduced to the dashing Wash Vitek and is torn between the two men. His situation is further complicated because he doesn’t know if Wash is gay. Nick resolves to solve the mystery surrounding Steve and help the young man recover his memories, even though by doing so, he risks losing the first love he’s ever found.

A Strange Place In Time: The Merry Executioner Returns by Alyx J. Shaw

Published by Torquere Press (Prizm Division)
The battle has begun, and old friends become new enemies, and allies become traitors. The Court of Hercandoloff realises that the only way to avert true disaster is attack the instigators of the rising darkness, and that will take a great deal of secrecy and deception. As Arrowsmith returns to Earth to persuade a friend to come to Dargoth, the Wizard-King Blackbird finds himself facing foes alone in his own palace, as the army rides north to the Kingdom of Kirianna. With the Master Thief blinded and missing, Blackbird sick and injured, and only a matter of days before one adversary is brought back form the dead, plans have to be made, and quickly. There is no chance of real victory, only of a stalemate, and that is with every member of the Court present. The search for Infamous leads the Court to the dead remains of the holy city of Palaklais, and the Temple of the Creator, but what they find there does not give them hope. The god of madness, SkullDigger, awaits them, as the most powerful of their adversaries, Rhaklan the Damned. The Court is without one of its most important members, and the strongest of their foes have joined forces. The Court has no choice but to fight, after they make plans for their own imminent demise.

The Balance by Neal Wooten

Published by Bold Strokes Books

In a dystopian future, life hangs in the balance. Piri is a nineteen-year-old boy who lives in a technological metropolis that rises above the clouds. But when an accident drops him out of the city, everything changes. At first terrified by the atrocious reality of life on the surface, including surviving gruesome creatures known as Scavs, Piri is soon mesmerized by the bond they have for one another. He also comes to understand his own feelings for Niko, the boy who rescued him. In the end, Piri chooses love over comfort. But things are never as they seem. When he discovers just how far the city dwellers will go to maintain control, and the horrific truth behind an ancient and secret alliance, he will do everything he can to protect his new family—and disrupt the balance.

Tiffany and the Tiger's Eyeby Foxglove Lee

Published by Prizm

How many secrets can a family keep? If there's one thing Rebecca knows, it's how to hide her problems. But with a rock-and-roll dad who drinks too much and a mom who works day and night, Rebecca needs a sympathetic ear. That's why she tells her troubles to Yvette, an antique doll that once belonged to her grandmother. In the summer of 1986, after her father's strange disappearance, Rebecca and her little brother are sent to the cottage with Aunt Libby and Uncle Flip. Rebecca's relieved to get away from the city, and her relief grows to bliss when she meets Tiffany, a water-skiing blonde who dresses like Madonna, makes her own jewelry, and claims to see auras. But strange things happen when Rebecca spends time with Tiffany. Her aunt and uncle are convinced she's acting out -- and she'd have good reason to, considering they obviously know where her father is and won't say -- but she can't convince them she isn't the one trashing her bedroom and setting fires. As crazy as it seems, Yvette must be the culprit. There's nothing more dangerous than a jealous doll that knows all your secrets...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Author: Mia Kerrick

One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.
Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.
Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.
Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.
With a foreword by C. Kennedy
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“Miss Libby just said to read it and comment.”
“And your comment? I’m very much looking forward to hearing it.”
“I already told you. I don’t believe that this”—he placed his hand firmly on my journal—“is genuine.”
“Well, do you believe I found the note in the trashcan?”
He looked directly into my eyes and nodded.
“And that it said I hated you and myself and my sexuality?”
He nodded again, this time with more fervor.
“Do you believe that I know I was wrong?”
Another nod.
“Do you believe I know I’m gay?”
He shrugged and then nodded once more.
“Then what about this journal entry isn’t genuine, Scott?” I lifted my notebook from off the desk and waved it back at him. “What part do you not believe?”
“I don’t believe that you could possibly have forgotten what we feel, or rather, felt, for each other. I don’t want to believe that.”
Frankly, those words hurt like I’d gotten bitch-slapped, but I could tell by his expression that he had more to say, so I waited.
“And I don’t believe that you cannot remember what happened that Saturday night.” Scott rubbed his eyes with his thumbs and then he swallowed deeply. “It was the worst night of my life. I can’t believe it isn’t burned into your mind, as well.”
It was my turn to nod.
“But I do believe you are sorry. I’m just not sure that it matters anymore.” After rubbing his dry eyes one more time, he pulled his journal out of his backpack and handed it to me. “My entry is about how much I detest broccoli.”
Hello and thanks for inviting me over…
What would you like teen readers to take away from your novels?
My goal is for my novels to be difficult to put down once they have been started. I want teens to think, I can’t wait to pick up another Mia Kerick novel after they have finished, so my primary objective in writing is to create interesting stories that teens will actually want to read.
I write romances, so I want teen readers to recognize that love can be very powerful, even instrumental, to happiness, when it is respectful and honest and devoted. Mixed in with this message are sub-themes, I guess you could call them, that encourage teens to accept responsibility for their actions, to say that they are sorry, to forgive themselves and others, to embrace everybody’s differences, and to recognize that they have the power to take care of themselves and to help others.
But back to the beginning of my answer, if the book isn’t interesting, then teens won’t get to the part that they reflect upon their own lives because they’ll have put the book down on the coffee table, so writing a compelling book—one that makes teens want to think about its message—is goal number one.

Tell us about your cover design. Is there any symbolism from the story reflected in the cover?
I had looked at lots of pictures of models as I was creating covers for my previous books, so I had come across this model, MJ (who is older now and looks much different), in Dan Skinner’s work on Deviantart. Somehow, the challenging look in his eyes, and the physical characteristics of this model, stayed in my mind as I wrote The Red Sheet. So, in effect, I wrote this book about this model as my second main character, Scott Beckett.
When it came time to choose the cover, I had no doubt about what I wanted. And I wanted a photo of this model. However, in order to incorporate the symbolism, and the title, we had to change the color of the sheets that he was lying on. They couldn’t be white!! They had to be red!!
In my novel The Red Sheet, the red sheets symbolize the main character, Bryan Dennison’s, sudden inexplicable urge to be a better person and to do the right thing. Bryan actually refers to himself as  “a Superman of Intention” because he sees his strong desire to wear the red sheet, tied around his neck like a cape, as representative of how Superman wears a red cape when he is off to save the innocent and foil the bad guys. When Bryan needs to feel empowered to do the right thing, he envisions, or even actually wraps himself in, his new set of red sheets. And by these sheets, he is comforted and encouraged to continue on his path toward creating a better world.

What part of the story was the most fun to write? The most challenging?
The most fun part of The Red Sheet to write was definitely the flash mob scene where all of Bryan’s new, less-than-popular friends dance to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” in the lunchroom, in front of the entire junior class, to celebrate a much-loved teacher’s thirtieth birthday. I laughed as I wrote I, especially when I was describing 6’4” hairy-legged Bryan doing Rockette-style high kicks.
I will say, though, the flash mob scene was also the most difficult to write because it involved research. I have a seventeen-year-old daughter who is a dancer living in New York, so first thing I did was call her. She told me about me some basic dance moves that might be used in a flash mob and she referred me to Youtube videos where I could check these moves out so I could describe them accurately. I researched the most commonly danced to songs (for the purpose of a flash mob) and I selected ABBA’s Dancing Queen. I then viewed as many different flash mob videos as I could find to get the full spirit of a flash mob event. I googled “how to set up a flash mobs” and I found a rather serious set of “rules”.
Now, this was fun and interesting research, but it was also a bit intimidating as I had never described this type of a scene in writing and I wanted it to be funny and true-to-life, and I wanted it to really bring to the reader the feeling that was in the room.

If you could travel back in time and tell the teenage you one thing, what would it be?
I think my big message could be encapsulated into one word: relax. You see, I am a worrier, and I have been as long as can remember. I worried about school quizzes and my driver’s test. I worried about whether I would make the cheerleading squad and if I would get a part in the school play. I asked myself “what if this happens?” and “what if that doesn’t happen?” It would have benefited me to have just taken a deep breath and tried to relax, because worrying really doesn’t change things.
More than relaxing about the things that could happen to me, though, I would tell myself to relax when I worried about what everybody else thought of me. “Will they say my outfit doesn’t match?” “Does he think I’m pretty?” “Does she think I’m cool?” “Was that a totally stupid thing to say?” “If I say no, will they hate me forever?” I would go back and tell myself, again, to take a deep breath, and just do what my gut told me was right, regardless of what anyone else though or said.

Which of your characters is most like you?
A few come to mind, but the one who most resembles me in personality would be from my first book, Beggars and Choosers. Beggars and Choosers is technically an adult novel, but it falls into the category really of a “New Adult” or a “coming-of-age” novel where one of the two characters, Cory Butana, is 15-19 during the entire book. Cory is very much like me, in fact, this story had been in my mind since I was about thirteen, and in my mind, Cory was me.
The main characteristic I share with Cory is my deep desire to please other people. Cory tries to please his father, his bosses, his best friend, Maura, and his love interest, Brett. He is a bit of a target at school, but not a total victim. He is honest and thoughtful and has trouble saying no even when he needs to. Cory can be pushed very far before he gets angry; but when he finally draws a line, he means it.

Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?
As a teen, music was very important to me. (It still is!) I incorporate music into every story that I write as I know it would be important in the lives of my characters. Intervention is about a musical boy who uses popular songs and lyrics to communicate with a boy who refuses to pay attention to him when he speaks. The intervention in question is a musical one. Not Broken, Just Bent was named after and inspired by the Pink/Nate Ruess song “Just Give me A Reason”. It refers to two boys’ long term relationship that endures hard times, but ultimately is not broken, just bent out of shape. The Red Sheet was inspired by Five For Fighting’s “Superman”, which is quoted throughout the novel. It deals with the fragile humanity of Superman as he takes on the evil of the world.

About the Author:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them.

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