Guest Post: All the Queer Love Stories by Pene Henson

All the queer love stories

I value queer love stories. I’m here for a femme geek tripping up the stairs when she first sees her hot neighbour. I’m here for a bright-eyed city socialite trapped in a snowbound cabin with a gloriously competent hermit girl. I’m here for a fireman catching his breath to exchange flirty banter with a clothing designer or Olympic diving rivals growing to respect and then love one another. I’m here for a charmer of a non-binary person reconnecting with a love they thought they’d lost. I’m here for a trans guy realising the love he considered unrequited is so very not.  

Like many queer folk with a soft spot for a love story, I grew up on straight romance.

Harry’s romantic New Year’s Eve speech to Sally in When Harry Met Sally is a lesson in knowing someone and loving all of them. The ball players of Love and Basketball share a fierce respect and growing understanding. When Monica tells Quincy “I’ve been in love with you since I was eleven, and the shit won’t go away,” we feel every part of her pain and hope. In You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan’s Kathleen says “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.” And we wanted it too. Even though we knew it all along.

Jane Austen, my oldest favourite, understands the small details of love and respect. Emma’s Mr. Knightley has known Emma all her life and chokes out “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”; Captain Wentworth pens a desperately romantic and reverent letter to his long-ago love Anne in Persuasion.

There are thousands on thousands of moments of straight romance. The best of it becomes a benchmark for love in real life.

There’s value in having benchmarks. It’s important to believe that you’re worth the dazzling awe of new love. It’s a sheer joy to experience that stomach-flipping heart-pausing moment when all feelings are laid bare. Even the fluffiest romance can make a person happy, and when time’s been spent on character, when respect is given to reality, then that same fluffy romance can make the whole world better.

It’s not just the romancey side of romance (The kissing part my kid closes his ten-year-old eyes for). Love stories tend to be kind to their characters. The stories are full of tiny human observations about how people think and move and what they do when they’re happy or sad or successful or frustrated.  In them the ordinary becomes beautiful. Any dim view or grey room or commonplace person is suddenly bright and beautiful when a character is in love.  

But it’s tough, because most of these wonderful stories are heterosexual. You can’t just replace Billy Crystal with Cher in your imagination. You can’t just replace Sanaa Lathan with Anthony Mackie. (Though both those movies sound amazing). So many love stories are inherently not queer, and they give us queer folk the idea that we can’t ask for something that magical, or wonderful, or silly, or forever.

There’s sometimes this sense that queerness is just about sex. That queer romance is primarily about exploring sexuality and people’s fantasies. And sure, often that exploration is fabulous and important and for some people just plain hot. There’s value in sex.  

But I also want queer people to have touchstones for romance, to have all the huge sweet speeches, all the stomach twisting moments of new love. I want them to have the meet-cutes, the eyes-catching across a crowded room, the heart-flipping terrifying moments of falling head over heels for someone. I want the depth too, the rich characterisation and the big lives. I want the lonely hearts and the communities of queer folk laughing and living with one another. I want all the queer love stories. (I wish I could write all the queer love stories – But I’m going to have to leave the witty banter to other writers).  

Queer romance is about giving queer characters happiness, giving them a place in the everyday world, giving them communities and dreams, and giving them a happily ever after.

My hope is that queer people can see themselves reflected in that happiness.  That’s why I write queer love stories. They won’t change the world, except in all the ways they will.


About Pene Henson:

Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the local LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time watching sports and gazing at the ocean with her wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. She received the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance for her first novelInto the Blue (Interlude Press, 2016) about surfers growing up on the North Shore of Oahu. Storm Season, about two women trapped in a remote Australian cabin, was published in 2017. She had a short story about WNBA players going home for Christmas in If The Fates Allow (Interlude Press, 2017) an anthology of queer holiday stories.

Connect with Pene: www.penehenson.com or @penehenson on twitter.

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Countdown to a New Year, December 29: Erin Finnegan

Countdown to a New Year, December 29: Erin Finnegan

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!

**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**

THINGS I LEARNED IN 2017 THAT EVERYONE ELSE ALREADY KNEW

I’m a believer in lifelong learning. I witness it every day as the caretaker of my elderly father, who is currently teaching himself how to code.

Inspired by this, maybe, I tried to assess what I learned this year. Specifically, what did I learn about books?

One lesson stood out. It ends up, I was just catching up on what so many others already knew: Young Adult fiction is awesome, even for those of us who haven’t been teenagers in awhile.

When Young Adult began its steep ascent in publishing, I didn’t think I’d be a fan. Too much dystopia, too many stories about kids asking the questions I’d already answered for myself, and didn’t care to revisit.

Was I ever wrong. If 2017 showed me anything, it was that YA isn’t just a genre for high school students and Hollywood scouts. The very best of the genre serve as a bellwether for change, as an index for where literature and culture are headed. It can push old boundaries, and teach us lessons about both ourselves and others, and hint at how the next generation of thought leaders will shape the world.

And the best in this genre in 2017 wasn’t just the best YA of the year, it was some of the very best of the year’s fiction.

Case in point: Angie Thomas’ brilliant The Hate You Give. Along with a lot of other readers, it was my book of the year not only because it entertained, but because it made me stop, go back, re-read, and think. The characters are so vivid, the dialogue so on-point, and the story fleshed out in the realist of realism: so-called bad guys sometimes do honorable things, and good guys sometimes lapse. Not every story is clear-cut.

I was sickened but not surprised to hear that a Texas school district banned THUG. In this current political climate, it may have been inevitable. They couldn’t be more wrong. This isn’t a book you keep out of kids’ hands. This is a book that belongs in every high school library in this country.

Young Adult books may tell us about community and our place in it, but they are so often at their core coming of age novels. And I learned this year that coming of age doesn’t have to be an instruction manual. It can be relevant long past your teen years.

Coming of age should be about introspection, about learning something about yourself, and when its done well—whether combined with fantasy or romance or action/adventure—it has the power to connect with anyone, of any age.

My favorite example of 2017 (and there were several) was the book that was so ballsy as to spoil it’s ending in the title: Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End. Ultimately, it makes sense, because dying isn’t the point of this well-written novel—it’s about how you use the time you have.

YA can also be just plain fun, and in this world of daily (sometimes hourly) WTF-ery, we can use a little laughter.  Sound good? Try F.T. Lukens’ The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic. A friend accurately described this wonderfully weird and wild ride as being “a literary version of the waiting room in Beetlejuice.” It’s fast, it’s wild, it had me laughing out loud—while still making a point about being true to yourself, no matter how daunting that may be.


Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and PR flack who now spends a lot of time thinking about and occasionally writing books in her home outside Los Angeles. Her novel Luchador (Interlude Press, 2016) was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016 and was named the best independently-published romance of 2016 by Foreword Reviews. She is also the author of Sotto Voce (2014) and Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille, part of the Interlude Press anthology, If the Fates Allow.

Connect with Erin on her website: http://www.erin-finnegan.com/


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The Best Books I’ve Read Recently

Hey guys! It’s Judith!

I know, I know – I so rarely have a chance to review but this week? I’m on vacation! Which means that instead of just eating and drinking and doing absolutely nothing but enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of the season, I’ve been reading! Lots and lots of books! ALL THE BOOKS!

A few were such standouts, I am coming out of vacation hibernation to urge you all to read them, because yes, they were just that good. Read More

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Countdown to a New Year, December 21: Candysse Miller, Publisher at Interlude Press

Countdown to a New Year, December 21: Candysse Miller, Publisher at Interlude Press

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!

**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**

LOOKING FORWARD: 2018 AT INTERLUDE PRESS

It’s that time of year when people take stock of their lives. Do we need change as we start a new year? Is it time for a resolution? Maybe we just need to make a list of goals, benchmarks for a new season. In that spirit, we thought we’d spill some details about what’s around the bend for the first half of 2018 at Interlude Press.

For those of you who don’t know us yet, IP is a small press dedicated to publishing top quality fiction featuring main characters that identify as LGBTQIA. We’re a young company, and we like to approach our work from unconventional angles.

As we look forward to the six months leading up to our anniversary, we see a publication calendar that balances new voices, old favorites, and a lot of great fiction.

2018 begins with a final nod to a series that began as a fandom phenomenon: Zane Riley’s Go Your Own Way. The first two installments of this series (Go Your Own Way and With or Without You) originated as enormously popular fanworks that Zane rewrote from the ground-up for his books. When It’s Time is the final coda of the new adult love story of Lennox, a tough and brash kid whose life takes an unexpected turn after he meets and falls for high school baseball player Will.  

Valentine’s week will mark the debut for the writing team of Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sterick with Snowsisters from our YA imprint Duet Books. A story of friendship, love and coming of age set in a week-long writers’ camp for girls, Snowsisters is being hailed as “a wonderful, important debut” by a New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult (Small Great Things) and “thoroughly satisfying” by Kirkus Reviews.

In March, we’ll be revisiting Taylor Brooke’s soulmate contemporary romance Camellia Clock Cycle series with Curved Horizonin which the women from Brooke’s IP debut, Fortitude Smashed meet their soulmates and the original couple’s relationship is put to the test.

March also features the return of Michelle Osgood with Moon Illusion, the third installment in her popular shifter series, The Better to Kiss You With. In Moon Illusion, she concentrates on Nathan and Cole, who must juggle a fracture in their relationship with a mysterious death.

In April, award-winning adult and YA author Mia Kerick joins IP with The Weekend Bucket List from Duet Books. Determined to experience the wild side of teenage life, high school seniors Cady LaBrie and Cooper Murphy set out to check off items on their bucket list in the 48 hours before graduation. When dropout Eli Stanley joins them, they all face new questions about love and friendship.

Jude Sierra follows up her Kirkus Reviews best-of-2016 nod for Idlewild in May with A Tiny Piece of Something Greater. After moving to Key Largo to make a fresh start, Reid Watsford meets Joaquim, a dive shop intern looking for adventure. As their relationship develops, they both must learn how to navigate Reid’s secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape.

And in the final stretch leading up to our fourth anniversary, we will feature books from authors both new and familiar. The month starts with Julian Winters’ YA debut,  Running With Lions. Set in the world of high school soccer, it is the story of how a star goalie must reconcile with an estranged childhood friend for the good of the team, only to find that there is more to his former friend than soccer skills.

Finally, we will celebrate our fourth anniversary in late June with one of our original launch authors. Amazon bestseller Lilah Suzanne returns with Jilted, a romantic comedy about two men left at the alter when their respective exes run off together, and whether taking a fake honeymoon together can result in a second chance at love.

There’s plenty more to look forward to in 2018! Follow us @InterludePress as we reveal covers and announce summer and fall titles.


Candysse Miller, Director of Marketing & Communications at Interlude Press, is a former journalist and media industry veteran, guiding communications programs that have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, and every major U.S. television network. She is a native of Los Angeles and bleeds Dodger Blue.

Learn more about her and Interlude press at: www.interludepress.com.


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The Romance of Fan Fiction, part 3 by Jude Sierra

Hello all! Happiest of Novembers to everyone. This month we wanted to welcome Jude Sierra for two exciting reasons: first for a very first look at her upcoming novel and second, for a four part series she wrote for Binge On Books. Jude will be spending the month of November discussing the intersections between some of her favorite things: fanfiction, romance novels, and authors you know who play in both sandboxes! Jude will be talking with some of your favorite romance authors throughout the month about their fanfiction to original fiction publication stories and just how important fan communities have been to them.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, there’s one more order of business. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a new novel by Jude, and we’re excited to announce the details of her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater.

Blurb: Reid Watsford has struggled with his cyclothemia his whole life. When his grandmother offers him a place to stay at her condo in Key Largo, he decides to leave Wisconsin, his ex, and his family to try to make a fresh start. There he meets Joaquim, a Brazilian wanderer who came to the US looking for adventure, and ended up an intern at the Key Largo Dive Shop. When Reid signs up for his introductory dive classes, it seems an adventure has come to Joaquim—but Reid has a lot of secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape. As their relationship deepens, so do Reid’s complications, something they both must learn to navigate—on their own and with each other.

Coming from Interlude Press on May 17th, 2018. 


For us Fanfictioners (Fanficers? anficionados?) the road to publishing fiction or writing original fiction looks different. I mentioned in my last blog post how some of our published fiction began as fanfiction or was conceptualized as fanfiction and reworked as original fiction. Sometimes that fiction was previously published as fanfiction and then changed. This is where many beautiful, well crafted and beloved books in our genre come from. One of my favorite things about this sort of transition is the idea that authors love a story enough to know that it will work better as original fiction.

For many of us, fanfiction came first, and it became a comfort zone. Fanfiction readers are wonderful: in fandom the feedback you get is positive, helpful, and comes from a place of love for a common interest. This is how many of us learn to write and craft – through the feedback we get in those spaces. Fandom is much more immediately interactive than publishing spaces. In fact, this is one of the hardest aspects of transition to publishes spaces for us – the distance from your readers.

Fanfiction readers and authors love to imagine their characters in completely different scenarios than the source material (for example, as I discussed last time, the time I gave a character wings as a part of a writing challenge). It is in these spaces that authors often realize that the characters they’ve written don’t necessarily fit the characters in the show, book, game, etc.

Jordan Brock once responded to a simple prompt from a reader in the BBC Sherlock fandom: John is CanadianIn 18 days she completed a 98,000 word story in which so many things were different than the source material she decided to rework it. Through NaNoWriMo participation, Jordan was contacted by Sourcebooks about publication. This book received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and yet she told me that she “was nervous about revealing the origin of the story, especially when it got starred reviews in places like Publishers Weekly. I worried that people wouldn’t take me seriously as an author if they learned I got my start in fanfic.”

This narrative isn’t unusual – for many of us, the potential stigma or judgement makes it challenging to know if we should address our fanfiction roots. And yet, many of us are award winning, critically acclaimed and successful authors.

For some authors, learning to write through fanfiction made it initially hard to envision an original work. Lynn Charles spoke of this: “…all three of my published novels were at least conceptualized as fanfiction, but never were finished or made it off of my computer into the ether of the internet.” For Charles and other authors, that transition, support, and encouragement came from publishers who understood the potential and quality being created within fandom. “The transition from fanfic to novel happened through…Interlude Press and their initial commitment to giving quality fanfiction authors a chance to publish original novels.”

For some, reimagining of fanfiction to original fiction didn’t initially work, or weren’t workable. And yet that attempt, that work in recreating, helped them learn how to craft original characters and hone the skills necessary for writing original novels. Amy Stilgenbauer’s first attempt at an original novel was a rework of a Sailor Moon story which she knew, in the end, wouldn’t work. Although she published poetry going forward, it took her a while to transition to original published fiction. Community was a big part of this transition. “I switched to creating my own original work when I lost contact with fandom friends for a while and felt weird writing it without them. I had to create new worlds out necessity, but I still brought the skills honed in fandom forward with me.”

This is not to say that all authors who have written fanfiction and original fiction took these paths, or that their trajectory was from fanfiction to published work: some authors did them concurrently. Sometimes, for those who have made that transition, it is accompanied by anxiety or worry that our roots might somehow lessen our accomplishments, skills, value of our work, etc. But all of these authors are gifted, with readers who will attest to how wonderful their books are.


About the authors:

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who  began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews.  Her novels include Hush,  What it Takes,  and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.

Social Media Links: Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook


Jordan Brock is the author of Change of Address, published by Riptide Publishing. She currently publishes fanfiction under the name Kryptaria. She has written in many fandoms, including Dungeons to Dragons, World of Warcraft and Sherlock.


Amy Stilgenbaur is an archivist by day, writer by night. She has published 2 novels, The Legend of League Park independently and Sideshow with Interlude Pres, as well as having published a number of poems and short stories. Additionally, she is a professional ghost writer covering various subjects from history to abstract mathematics. I wrote in the Sailor Moon, Harry Potter, and Newsies fandoms.


Lynn Charles is the author of Chef’s TableBlack DustBeneath the Stars as well as the short story, Shelved, in the upcoming holiday anthology If the Fates Allow. She wrote in the Backstreet Boys and Glee fandoms.


 

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Guest Post: How Much Does a Bear Weigh? (And Other Things a Novelist Needs to Know) by Alysia Constantine

 How Much Does a Bear Weigh? (And Other Things a Novelist Needs to Know) by Alysia Constantine

My Google search history and my little notebook of Things to Remember have become quite amusing reads this year. My second novel, Olympia Knife, tells the story of a woman who grows up in a travelling circus in early 20th Century America, and in researching that book (even if it was often only on Google and not through airless hours in the library, as I was trained for), I wound up seeking the answers to a hundred little questions that presented themselves: how much would Viselik, the trained bear, weigh? How many of those mean, alcohol-soaked clowns could fit into a clown car, and is it a special car? When was the circus canon invented (in case I want to shoot a character out of one)? How do you swallow a sword?

Since the novel takes place in the early 20C, this research was made ever more important by my need to be historically accurate. I also wound up researching period circus costumes, customs of the time and early 20C American slang. (My favorite discovery: “It’s all jake,” as in “everything’s cool”.) I even found myself trying to figure out when folks in the U.S. started saying “OK.” (In case you need to know, it was originally a joke in Boston ‘round about the 1830s… cool Bostonians liked to abbreviate everything—“That’s an NG” instead of “That’s a no-go”, for instance—and OK stands for “Orl Korrect,” which is the 1830s Bostonian’s Intentional Silly-Talkin’ way of saying “All Correct.”)

My point, I suppose, was that the old saw “write what you know” will only get you so far. In my case, it means all my novels would be about middle-aged, fat, disabled, white, first generation, lesbian professors who live in New York and have two dogs. That would dubiously be good for one novel, but after that, one probably must move on. On the other hand, I’ve never been interested in “historical fiction,” either—like sci-fi, much of it seems too caught up in the details of the unfamiliar world, and privileges those details over good, strong characters, beautiful language and sensory detail (the good stuff, of course, doesn’t… hence my love for Octavia Butler).

So how does one strike the balance between research and writing when one’s writing something creative? It’s a version of that same predicament about whether good writing requires routine and diligence or inspiration. (I cannot count how many people, upon hearing that I write novels, have made the assumption that I sit around eating bonbons and waiting for inspiration to strike. I must then explain that if I did that, I’d never write anything at all, because I usually find other things—things that don’t feel like work, like sorting through my fourth-grade papers or arranging my socks—more inspiring, and that writing, at least for me, is work and often an unpleasant task I must make myself do on the regular by, usually, sitting at my laptop for a prescribed 6 hours a day.) Eating bonbons is pretty good, too—as long as I’m also working.

What I’ve finally discovered, well into my forties, is that for me, writing works best as a tightrope walk balanced between inspiration and routine: I must get myself inspired within the confines of a routine. Research helps with this—I can spend hours flipping through pictures of early 20C circus performers, or reading about the history of poi spinning (that’s twirling stuff, often stuff on fire, for you uninitiated folks). But if I limit myself to twenty minutes of research, which must be followed by an hour of writing, I have the inspiration I need to feed me in the drudgery, and the structure to make sure the drudgery gets properly drudged.

Here’s the disenchanting, unromantic truth: writing is usually neither fun nor magical nor John-Berryman-wild-eyed-crazy-inspired. Writing drunk or high doesn’t usually make for good writing, either, at least in my experience. (Lots of writers wrote in spite of drinking or drug use, not because of it.) Dead Poets Society got it 100% wrong: writing is work, often unpleasant or tough or boring or just unrewarding in the moment, and rarely does it involve standing on your chair and bursting with emotion and quoting Whitman. And almost never does a writer get to witness the effects of the writing (except when a reader makes the effort to find her and tell her about it, ahem, friends).

I’m not trying to make writing sound more difficult than it is, or more important, I’m simply trying to demystify it here.

It’s the same thing I had to learn when writing about circus stuff, too: I was really drawn to writing about trapeze performers and fat ladies and bear trainers, but what I found was that the more real I made these characters, the more I had to think about what people threw at Minnie the Fat Lady while she was on stage (newspaper, rocks and hair pins, mostly), or whether Samu slept in his bear Viselik’s cage at night (yes, he did). I also figured most of their costumes smelled like sweat, and the air around the Flying Knifes was always filled with chalk dust from their hands. And the clowns were mean and cliquish and a little bit ominous.

Oh—and in case you were wondering and your Googling finger is broken, the answers to the questions I began with are, in order: about 400 pounds; between 14 and 21 clowns in a car without seats; the first human canon ball performed in 1877.

And how do you swallow a sword? Very carefully.


Alysia Constantine is the author of the novels Sweet (2016) and Olympia Knife (2017). She lives in the lower Hudson Valley of New York with her wife, two dogs, a cat, and a cucumber vine that has completely taken over the garden and produces ridiculous, armlength cucumbers.

Her next book is Olympia Knife. It will release on 11/3/17:

Born into a family of flying trapeze artists, Olympia Knife has one small problem: When her emotions rise, she becomes invisible. Everyone in the traveling circus has learned to live with this quirk; they banded together to raise Olympia in a loving environment when her parents vanished midair during their act, never to return. But the same fate befalls Arnold, the world’s shortest man, followed by one act after another, until the show is a crumbling mess of tattered tents and terrified troupers. Into this chaos walks Diamond the Danger Eater. Olympia and Diamond forge a friendship, then fall in love, and, together, resolve to stand the test of time, even as the world around them falls apart.

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Sounds Like Halloween: Day 26 with Jude Sierra

Jude Sierra joins Sounds Like Halloween with a reading from her paranormal romance, Hush.


About Hush: 

Wren is one of “the gifted”—a man with the power to compel others’ feelings and desires. He uses his power as a game of sexual consent until Cameron, a naive college student, enters his life. As Cameron begins to understand his sexuality and gain confidence under Wren’s tutelage, Wren grows to recognize new and unexpected things about himself. Can their game become a relationship as the power shifts from teacher to student?



About Jude Sierra:

Jude began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”.

As a sucker for happy endings and well written emotional arcs and characters, Jude is an unapologetic bookaholic. She finds bookstores and libraries unbearably sexy and, to her husband’s dismay, is attempting to create her own in their living room.

She is a writer of many things that hope to find their way out of the sanctuary of her hard drive, and many that have found a home in fanfiction communities.

She recently completed her Master of Arts in Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy (a title almost no one understands) and hoping everyone she knows will begin to acknowledge her as Master of the Universe. Jude is currently working toward her PhD in writing and Rhetoric and works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. In her non-existent free time, she attempts to manage a home filled with her husband, two young sons, and two cats. Her first novel, Hush, was published in 2015 by Interlude Press. What it Takes, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, is her second novel. Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus reviews and is now available.


Learn more about the Sounds Like Halloween audio series, including authors taking part & what you can expect, here.

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Guest Post: Villains, antagonists and more— oh my! by CB Lee

 

In my novel Not Your Villain, Bells’ alter-ego Chameleon is the country’s most wanted villain. While he’s been framed, it’s interesting from a writing perspective to think about what people think about villains and how the people in power in this series direct attention to what they believe is good and bad.

Writing the antagonist in your story one of the most important ways to keep your novel engaging and move the plot forward. Memorable villains often capture the imagination of readers and their dynamics with your heroes will help build your conflict. Depending on what you’re going for, having your antagonist have a compelling backstory and motivation helps them from being over-the-top. Unless, that’s what you’re going for— my antagonist Captain Orion takes a lot of cues from classic cheesy comic book villains, which is part of the fun of the Sidekick Squad series, but we meet a new antagonist in the second book, Lowell Kingston, who is cool and calculating.

The difference between Orion and Kingston is that while Orion is all physical strength and power, Kingston’s shrewdness makes him dangerous  and you don’t know what he’s planning or what to expect, and he has a vast number of resources.

Motivation

A good way to think about your antagonist is what their driving force is. What are their ambitions and reasonings for what they want? What are they willing to do to get it? Are they relatable? I think what makes a truly scary antagonist is that fear too, for readers to examine themselves and think how this person got to where they are and where they crossed the line.

Power

There are different types of power and different ways you can give your antagonist resources. Captain Orion can summon lightning and can fly, making her a formidable opponent, while Kingston is a central figure in a corrupt government. What kind of background do you want to give your antagonist? Do they have vast knowledge and expertise in a certain area? Are they only ones who know an important secret? Do they have the command of admirers or a military? Do they hold sway over the press? These are all great things to think about when crafting your antagonist.

Opposition

The most important thing about your antagonist is that they oppose your protagonist in some way. It doesn’t have to be a clear cut hero-villain route, and it isn’t always a person. Is it an institution, or a system that your main character is striving to change? Is the antagonist themselves? The forces of opposition are what really come into play; your antagonist can even be a close friend or family member and care about your protagonist, but doesn’t see eye-to-eye on what your conflict is.

Villains are so much fun to write, and I hope these ideas help you move forward in your writing! Thank you for having me here on the blog, and I hope you have a chance to check out Not Your Villain, the second in a series where LGBTQ+ teenagers  take on corrupt government agencies and uncover the truth about the hero-villain dichotomy in their superpowered world.

If you’re interested in more writing resources as well as updates and exclusive extras from my books, check out my newsletter!

Thank you again!


C.B. Lee is a bisexual Chinese-Vietnamese American writer based in Los Angeles, California.

NOT YOUR SIDEKICK was a 2017 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in YA/Children’s Fiction and a 2017 Bisexual Book Awards Finalist in Speculative Fiction. SEVEN TEARS AT HIGH TIDE was the recipient of a Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Fantasy Romance and also a finalist for the 2016 Bisexual Book Awards in the YA and Speculative Fiction categories.

CB has been featured at literary events such as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Lambda Litfest’s Celebrating the Asian American LGBTQ+ Experience at the Chinese American Museum, YALLWEST and Pasadena Litfest as well as a guest at  popular panels and discussions such as DragonCon’s “LGBTQIA in YA” , “BiScifi: Queer Heroes in Science Fiction and More”, “The Craft of Dystopia”,  “Magic and Worldbuilding,”, WonderCon’s “Sisterhood of the Self-Sufficient,” Emerald City Comic Con’s “Diversity in Publishing,” and San Diego Comic Con’s “Super Asian America” and “Into the Fanzone!”


NOT YOUR VILLAIN: SIDEKICK SQUAD, BOOK TWO—

Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants, and if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most-wanted villain.

After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges. Everyone is in danger. 

Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.

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