I’m not sure there’s an author out there who actually enjoys the self-promo part of writing. I always feel guilty, I wince, and it’s out of reach of my confidence comfort zone. End result being awkwardness for everyone, which is so my zone, comfort or nay.
So, while this is a promotion post, I’m going to try something different. You’re at my blog, reading my words, so I’m going to start from a position of thinking you’ve read something I’ve written, and I’m gonna suggest something else I’ve loved and read by other people that’s similar, or at least, that I think you’d enjoy if you liked mine.
Because flogging other people’s stuff? That I can do, and love to do.
Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks is my first queer YA novel. It’s about Cole, a gay kid of seventeen who has a life plan he’s been working on for years: he’s going to graduate, move to Ottawa, and begin a life under the radar from the childhood event that has defined him in his small town: that time he got kidnapped for an afternoon when he was four. Cole is a list-maker, knows what he wants to be when he grows up, and imagines all sorts of conversations ahead of time so he has something prepared and doesn’t have to work on instinct. Because he’s pretty sure he was born without instinct.
And then he develops a spontaneous teleportation problem. Cole doesn’t do spontaneous. But the problem isn’t going away, he’s caught the attention of the cutest boy in school for all the wrong reasons, and it’s possible there are people after him. People in suits.
Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks is a light adventure story with a queer kid and a situation way, way over his head in a completely blindsiding way. No one plans on teleportation.
No one plans on being the key to a solving a curse, either. Which brings me to my first suggestion, which I’m sure long-time readers saw coming: The Unwanted, by Jeffrey Ricker.
Here we meet young gay Jamie, who is just trying to keep his head down and get through high school, has a guy who keeps picking on him, and who is trying to figure out how to explain to his single father dad about the scuffle that just sent him home early from school when his mother shows up.
Given that he was told his mother was dead, this is sort of surprising. Also? She arrived via pegasus.
Yeah, so his mother isn’t just not dead, she’s an Amazon (like, capital-A, Greek Mythology, Amazon). Jamie being born a boy, he was passed on to his father to raise, and that would have been that, except a dark curse has hit the Amazons and would Jamie mind coming into a world full of monsters and magic to fix that, maybe?
Yes. Yes, he would mind. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen…
Of Echoes Born is my first short fiction collection. Now, I love writing short fiction, and I know that’s not everyone’s bag, and so I tried to do something a little different with it to appease the more novel-loving readers of the world. So, yes it’s a collection, but it’s also a linked collection, and there’s a greater story happening across the whole. Half the stories are new, half are reprints, and you get to meet a character who appeared in a glimpse in the very first thing I ever had published professionally: Ian.
Ian is the guy on the cover. At sixteen (in the first story) he starts seeing things. Auras, mostly, around people that reveal what emotional state they’re in (not that he has a guidebook to what the various colours mean, but luckily he has a new friend, Dawn, who’s helping him figure all that stuff out). But when it starts to be more than just emotions as colours, when Ian starts seeing things that have happened, and maybe even things that haven’t happened yet, he’s got some choices to make.
Ian is the thread that runs through all the stories, and the Village, my version of the gay area of Ottawa, is a location that comes to the foreground quite a few times as well. You’ll see familiar faces and places from all the things I’ve ever written, too.
Now, if queer stories with magic and psychic and the speculative fictional other are your thing? You need look no further than the annual Wilde Stories, which has its (sadly) final volume this year with Wilde Stories 2018. You can meet a tonne of authors in anthologies like this, which on its own is a great reason to try out an anthology, but the stories gathered in these annual collections are freaking brilliant.
Sam J. Miller! John Chu! Sean Eads! Richard Bowes! These are names you probably already know and love, but if you don’t, I would love to be the person introducing you to them. Wish-granting fishes, Oscar Wilde, and crossovers with Peter Pan and Greek Mythology? It’s all here. And it’s so queer and so spec-fic it’s magical.
Just trust me. Open up any collection of Wilde Stories and bask and breathe.
Saving the Date is a novella I co-authored with Angela S. Stone, and it’s part of the multi-author 1Night Stand series put out by Decadent Press. The conceit of all the stories is a dating agency run by the somewhat mysterious “Madame Eve,” who has a knack for connecting people looking for a one-night stand with someone suitable for more, if those involved can get there…
This one was a labour of love for me, and also a labour of anxiety. Morgan is a survivor of violence, and scarred (physically and emotionally) and, three years after the hate-crime, has decided to use the service to allow himself some intimacy with someone with no-strings, as he feels ready for that. When the service matches him with big, blond, burly Zach, it seems like things are going well—except Zach was expecting, well, a woman, and though he’s not displeased (he’s bi, though closeted), there’s something else that feels off. They’re familiar to each other. When Zach reveals he’s a cop with the hate and bias crime unit, things become clear: they met during the worst time of Morgan’s life. They move forward, though, and skating turns to kissing turns to something more, and if they’re both willing to take some chances, something far more than one night.
Trying to move forward when life seems to conspire to hold you back is something Hannah Robinson knows well enough. In Unconditional Devotion, by Kayleigh Malcolm, Hannah is fighting through depression, and can’t face returning to the courts where she once had a career as a defence attorney. Her family is cold and damaging, apart from her son. The two men who live in the same building as her, on the other hand, are a bright point of temptation. It takes her son meddling a bit to get things going, but when things get going, this trio of people who’ve been so let down by so many people who were supposed to be there for them find something special together.
I love, love, love, that there’s no magical solution to their problems. No one is “fixed” here, but their lives are improved by support and care and the building of a chosen family. Also? Hot menage. I mean, come on.
This novella also starts the characters from Malcolm’s Peacock Terrace books, which feature steamy menage tales that include things I find rarely seen in romance (such as Hannah’s depression).
Handmade Holidays is my chosen-family queer holiday romance novella. At nineteen, Nick has just been kicked to the curb after coming out, and he’s facing his first Christmas alone. Determined to make the best of it, he buys a very discounted Christmas tree and brings it home only to realize he has no ornaments.
This is fixed by a box of candy canes his buddy Haruto brings over, and then Haruto goes one step further and uses the wrapping paper to fold a paper crane. It’s not the greatest tree, but it’s a start. The next year, Nick invites some new friends over to host “Christmas for the Misfit Toys,” a holiday gathering for those with nowhere to go, and a tradition is born.
Over the next fifteen years, Handmade Holidays checks in with Nick, Haruto, Fiona, Matt, and Phoebe as their lives collide, separate, find love, lose love, face death, face illness, grow in numbers, and—ultimately—find happiness with their chosen family.
Speaking of chosen families? A Little Queermas Carol by Sassafras Lowrey is hands down a favourite and a re-read every year for me. I found it last year, and you’ll just have to trust me that a super-queer kink/little re-telling of A Christmas Carol can be this damn adorable. Humbug as a safeword, a family trying to bring someone into their fold, but meeting resistance born of the pain of loss, and the cutest wee little dog ever (Tiny Tim, naturally).
This one breathes its queerness, from Zine culture to kink to gender and sexuality rep much less common than we see in so many stories. Leather Daddies baking cookies in a holiday story? Yes, damnit. Holiday tales deserve to be queer as fuck too, though, and A Little Queermas Carol is here for it.
It’ll all just take Ebe finding it in their heart to try to care for someone again.
In Memoriam is a gay spec-fic second-chance romance novella with a bit of a different take on the second chance thing. James Daniels is an editor who has just gotten the worst news ever: he’s literally running out of time, thanks to some ill-placed (and fast-growing) tumours in his brain. Worse, where those tumours are placed is making it hard for him to keep a hold on his memory or sense of time.
There’s one thing he wants to make right before it’s over: Andy, the boy who got away. So he contacts a former-detective author friend and tries to gather all the information he has about Andy, which leads him to re-reading his journals. And then something happens: when he’s reading his journals, the same tumours that are making James lose track of time and memory seem to be making time and memory lose track of James, too, and he finds himself reliving key moments of his life…
…and making different choices.
It’s the greatest re-write of James’s life, and it might just be enough to make things right before it’s too late.
Another ticking-clock romantic novella I found last year, Hearts Alight by Elliot Cooper takes a Hanukkah holiday romance and adds magic of a different sort: a golem. At first, Dave Cunningham wants little to do with the holidays—they’ve gotten commercialized and he’s not flush, which makes the gift-giving so frustrating—and the quiet and stoic Amit isn’t helping. It’s hard to get a gift idea for someone who’ll barely speak to you (even if he’s attractive in all the right ways).
But Amit is running out of time—the magic that has sustained him this long is fading, and he knows soon he’ll be inanimate. And so getting close to Dave is a bad idea. Except, it might just be that Dave has the key to the sad history of Amit to turn this slow tragedy into something all the more wonderful: hope for a future.
Triad Blood (and Triad Soul) are my contemporary urban fantasy novels set in a version of Ottawa where the supernatural powers move in groups of three or more: three (or more) wizards make a coven, three (or more) vampires make a coterie, and three (or more) demons make a pack. But Curtis (a wizard), Luc (a vampire), and Anders (a demon) all have reasons they’ve not joined with others of their own kind, and Curtis comes up with a radical notion: the laws say it has to be three, but nowhere is it so specific to say the three must be the same.
They form a triad of their own, and there is more power there than any of them expected, and with that power comes unwanted attention from those who rule Ottawa from behind the shadows. In Triad Blood they face off against the vampire Duke of Ottawa, and in Triad Soul, they clash with someone murdering demons for some uncertain reason. They’ve got the powers of blood, soul, and magic—and many enemies—but more importantly, they’ve got each other.
Speaking of having other people, it’s possible Reylan doesn’t really want the people he’s starting to gather, but in Beast Without, Christian Baines begins his awesome Arcadia Trust series with dark delight. Reylan is a blood shade in Sydney who has little patience for an interruption to his existence, but one is about to arrive in the form of Jorgas, a werewolf with rage issues who has the entire community after him for a string of violence.
But Jorgas also awakens something in Reylan that he’d long thought dead, and it’s possible things aren’t as clear-cut as they seem. Soon Reylan is facing off against powerful forces on the streets of Sydney, and trying to figure out truths while keeping Jorgas—and himself—alive.
Light was my debut novel, a gay superhero(ish) story about Kieran Quinn, a gay massage therapist living in Ottawa who is a little bit telepathic, kind of psychokinetic, and hasn’t really practiced much with either beyond playing with his cat. When he uses his telekinesis, his gift also refracts light, which makes for pretty rainbows, too.
It’s Pride Week, and Kieran loves Pride Week, so he’s there first thing for the opening ceremonies. Which is when things take a turn for the violent in the form of a group who’ve come to protest the event, and who Kieran is pretty sure are led by someone way, way better at the telekinesis thing than he is.
So Kieran has to step up, bring the rainbows, and face off against someone who’d like to crush Pride, as well as saving some drag queens, matching wits with a cop who seems to be on to him, and having a great time with a French Canadian leather man, and hopefully not dying while saving the day, fabulously.
For the queer superhero lover, you need look no further than Sacred Band, from Joseph Carriker, Jr. Spinning our world, but with a faded golden age of heroes having passed in recent history, we meet a group of super-powered individuals who are living more-or-less under-the-radar, in governmental imposed inaction. The queer content here is off-the-charts awesome, and the various heroes (and their powers) are fantastic.
More, the story is surprisingly global—the main plot takes the characters to multiple places on the globe, and is about an attempted rescue of queerfolk from an oppressive regime all-too-real in today’s headlines.
The fact it’s listed as the first of a series still has me happy: I can’t wait to dive back into this world when the second volume arrives.