What I’m reading this week

Hopefully this will be the first of many posts about books I’m currently reading. This installment features Island of Exiles (Book 1 in the Ryogan Chronicles) by Erica Cameron and A World Without You by Beth Revis (which I’m technicaly listening to as an audiobook).

Things I’m loving: Island of Exiles is such a lush world, despite taking place in a desert. The setting, characters and plot are all richly crafted. I’m dying to finish this one. I hope book two comes out soon because I have a feeling I’m going to want to dive right in again.

I started listening to A World Without You on my way home from Hurricane Irma evacuation because I had met Beth Revis at a Malaprops Bookstore event in Asheville, NC. I knew she had written the Star Wars: Rogue One prequel Rebel Rising, but when she mentioned a time-traveling, mentally ill character, I knew I had to read this book. Knowing I would be trapped in a car for several hours had me opting for the audiobook. I’m loving the narrator and so far the story has me wondering. I’ve heard it keeps you guessing until the end, so I’m dying to finish it as well.

Related recommendations: Beth Revis was kind enough to host a Q&A for me and fellow YA author F.T. Lukens at Malaprops and we talked about our writing process and read random snippets from our books.

Check out F.T. Lukens’ The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic. It’s a great coming-of-age tale juxtaposed with the world of myth and magic. Main character Bridger just can’t seem to get his shit together to follow through on his crush on the cute boy next door. Supporting characters Astrid and Leo are also charmers, and mentor Pavel is a gem.

Up Next: After I finish these two I think I want to dig into a dollar store find that I hadn’t heard of before and I can’t remember the name of. But I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, what are you reading?

My 300-word story is featured in “Renewal”

Queer SciFi (QSF) has a new book out, the latest in its series of flash fiction anthologies, and my story “Allora’s Kiss” is included!

Re.new.al (noun)

1) Resuming an activity after an interruption, or
2) Extending a contract, subscription or license, or
3) Replacing or repairing something that is worn out, run-down, or broken, or
4) Rebirth after death.

Four definitions to spark inspiration, a limitless number of stories to be conceived. Only 110 made the cut.

Thrilling to hopeful, Renewal features 300-word speculative fiction ficlets about sexual and gender minorities to entice readers.

Welcome to Renewal.

Mischief Corner Books (info only) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads


Renewal Banner

Excerpt

Because these stories are only 300 words each, we’re not supplying long excerpts, but here are the first lines of several of the stories. Enjoy!

“Griselda pulled the weeds from between the rows of Valerianella locusta plants in the garden, careful not to disturb the buds that would grow into the babies that were her only real income-producing crop.” —The Witches’ Garden, by Rie Sheridan Rose

“I didn’t know how truly the world was in trouble until I went journeying to look for Anisette’s bluebonnets.” —Bluebonnets, by Emily Horner

“The ship’s drive malfunctioned at the worst possible time.” —The Return, by Andrea Speed

“Before we continue, there’s a rather macabre fact about me I should share.” —Rejuvenation, by Christine Wright

“When I died they buried me at the bottom of the garden and returned to the fields.” —Below the Hill, by Matthew Bright

“The world is ending and I can’t look away from your eyes.” —Sunrise, by Brigitte Winter

““Losing one’s superpowers to your arch nemesis sucks donkey nuts, I tell ya. And trust me when I say I suck a lot of them.” —Rainbow Powers, by Dustin Karpovich

“The day I was born again was damp, rainy—a good day for rebirth, all things considered.” —The Birthing Pod, by Michelle Browne

“Intwir’s twelve eyes roved over the container, taking in the cracked outer lock and the elasticated fabric stretched tightly over its exterior.” —In a Bind, by S R Jones

“‘You’ve reached Androgyne HelpLine. Press one to start service. Press two to interrupt or cancel service. Press three—’” —Auto-Renew, by Ginger Streusel

“The doctor tells me that my wife is dying, but I already know.” —I Will Be Your Shelter, by Carey Ford Compton

“‘San Francisco was the first to go dark, followed by Los Angeles.’” —When Light Left, by Lex Chase

“My fingers lingered on the synthetic skin, trailing soft patterns across my work.” —Miss You, by Stephanie Shaffer Continue reading “My 300-word story is featured in “Renewal””

Find me at DragonCon

September is going to be an especially busy month for me, starting with this weekend. I’ll be at DragonCon in Atlanta again this year along with some of my favorite queer SFF authors: C.B. Lee, F.T. Lukens, Michelle Osgood and Taylor Brooke.

We’ll have our books for sale in booth 1223, first floor of America’s Mart. And I’ll be on the Fanfiction in YA, YA in Fanfiction panel on Sunday at 4 p.m., Marriott A707. Hope to see you there!

Oh, and one more thing: we’re hosting a DragonCon scavenger hunt. Check it out!

What’s your ’90s Zine called?

Grrrls on the Side is full of excerpts from the characters’ zines. These blog-style print booklets have great names like “Chubby Bunny” and “Material Grrrl.”

Want to know what your ’90s zine would be called?

In the graphic above, just find the word associated with your zodiac sign (#1), then the last digit of your phone number (#2) and then the last digit of your age (#3). Put the three words together and you get the name of your zine.

Mine would be Brutal Feminist Baggage.

Grrrls on the Side is now available wherever books are sold!

Grrrls on the Side
ISBN 13: 978-1-945053-21-4Grrrls on the Side - cover

The year is 1994 and alternative is in. But not for alternative girl Tabitha Denton; she hates her life. She is uninterested in boys, lonely, and sidelined by former friends at her suburban high school. When she picks up a zine at a punk concert, she finds an escape—an advertisement for a Riot Grrrl meet-up.

At the meeting, Tabitha finds girls who are more like her and a place to belong. But just as Tabitha is settling in with her new friends and beginning to think she understands herself, eighteen-year-old Jackie Hardwick walks into a meeting and changes her world forever. The out-and-proud Jackie is unlike anyone Tabitha has ever known. As her feelings for Jackie grow, Tabitha begins to learn more about herself and the racial injustices of the punk scene, but to be with Jackie, she must also come to grips with her own privilege and stand up for what’s right.

In the Present Tense wins bronze!

In the Present Tense by Carrie PackIn the Present Tense is a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Bronze Award winner for Science Fiction.

The novel a finalist in two categories: Science Fiction and LGBT.

Description:

Miles Lawson goes to sleep dreaming of a future with his boyfriend Adam, but wakes to find he is married to Ana, an acquaintance from high school. When he learns he has been time traveling, Miles is consumed with finding a cure for his rare condition—and finding his first love. As he loses control, Miles must realize that sometimes fixing your past mistakes means changing your future. But will he be able to convince Adam he is telling the truth before it’s too late?

In the Present Tense is Foreword INDIES finalist

In the Present Tense is a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award finalist for LGBT fiction and Science Fiction.

Description:

Miles Lawson goes to sleep dreaming of a future with his boyfriend Adam, but wakes to find he is married to Ana, an acquaintance from high school. When he learns he has been time traveling, Miles is consumed with finding a cure for his rare condition—and finding his first love. As he loses control, Miles must realize that sometimes fixing your past mistakes means changing your future. But will he be able to convince Adam he is telling the truth before it’s too late?

Playlist for your next riot

Girl-fronted punk bands gave birth to the Riot Grrrl movement. As a result, music played an important role in its culture and the writing of Grrrls on the Side. This playlist is inspired by both the characters from Grrrls and the time period in which it is set—some songs are more modern and others are pure vintage punk. Enjoy!

Cool Schmool – Bratmobile
Oh Bondage! Up Yours! – X-Ray Spex
You’re No Rock n’ Roll Fun – Sleater-Kinney
Bucket of Bleach – Peroxxxidal
Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill
White Girl – Heavens to Betsy
Simple Then – Honeychild Coleman
Bad Reputation – Joan Jett
Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Activity Grrrl – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones
Coming Clean – Green Day
Off-Duty Sailor – Dicks
She’s Amazing – Team Dresch
Sunday Girl – Blondie
Girls and Boys – Blur
Material Girl – Madonna
Just a Girl – No Doubt
Constant Craving – k.d. lang

You can also listen to the playlist on Spotify or by clicking on the widget in the sidebar below.

 

The many ‘flavors’ of bisexuality

I’m going to be blunt here. I only came out as bi about a year ago. Just one year. 365 days, give or take. For the three and a half decades prior, I identified as straight. And not just publicly. I really and truly believed it.

For more than 35 years, I thought that, despite regular and not inconsequential attractions to women and nonbinary folx, I was straight.

Growing up, I only had two examples about sexuality: gay and straight. And let’s be real, the gay rep is still pretty limited, and up until the 1990s, it was mostly the butt of jokes. What I saw reflected in the world was this binary choice. Either or. You either find men attractive or women.

The only problem was that when adolescent me started having feelings, I would often find myself drawn to both girls and boys. Although I don’t think I had the awareness to look at it this way at the time, I had crushes on almost as many girls as I did boys. But my brain, with its conditioning from this binary way of thinking, couldn’t reconcile this. I knew I wasn’t a lesbian, and I knew I liked boys. Therefore, I must be straight.

Continue reading “The many ‘flavors’ of bisexuality”

Revolution (21st century) girl style

“The early ‘90s were a difficult time to be a woman, especially a young one, and too little has changed in the intervening decades.” — Sara Marcus, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

This quote is the epigraph to my latest novel, Grrrls on the Side, and I chose to use this particular quote because it’s the sentence that inspired me to write the book. Literally. I actually set the book down and immediately copied it down because it hit me so hard.

Even after I finished reading Marcus’ book, this quote stuck in my mind. Why had it been such a powerful statement to me? I looked through old zines to see if I could see what Marcus meant. Because Riot Grrrl had formed the bedrock of my feminist viewpoints, I wasn’t shocked that I could still feel passionate reading an issue of Jigsaw or Girl Germs. But I wondered if that was the only reason. I could certainly relate to cries for a “revolution, girl style” and something told me I wasn’t the only one who might still feel this way. In fact, I started to notice how much these old zines were eerily familiar to what my friends and followers were saying online.

The more I paid attention, the more it became clear: the very same issues that riot grrrls wrote about in their zines and music in the 1990s are still on the minds of girls and women today. These issues get talked about on Twitter and Tumblr as well as queer and feminist sites like Autostraddle, Bustle, BGD and more. The Riot Grrrl era is still highly relevant, although I like to think feminism has come much further in its awareness of intersectionality and inclusion. But the same basic ideals are still the zeitgeist of 21st century feminism.  There are clear parallels between social media activism and the feminist zines of my youth. Discussions of rape culture, sexuality, gender expression and body autonomy pop up frequently.

In the end, this realization angered and confused me. How is it than in the nearly three decades since Riot Grrrl began, we’ve only come this far? Especially when our current political climate often feels like a giant step back for women, how do we find the motivation to keep pushing? Is the cause lost? I don’t think so. In fact, I choose to look at this situation another way. I think this is the last, pathetic effort of an oppressive, white, heterosexual patriarchy that knows its days are numbered. It’s a final Hail Mary play to control the discussion, our bodies, and even our minds. But we can’t and won’t let them win. I know that in my heart. I think all of us Riot Grrrls do.

So why did I write a book for teens in 2017 that takes place in 1994? Because it’s a universal story that I hope one day feels antiquated and naïve. I hope it inspires teens to make that happen.


Grrrls on the Side is available now wherever books are sold.