In Which I Discuss the Relationships Happening in THE CAMINO CLUB…AND A SALE!

I often grapple with this treacherous feeling that the stuff I write isn’t gay enough, isn’t teen enough, isn’t ________ enough. I don’t know why I do this to myself. I guess I’m constantly comparing my work to the other LGBTQ YA Lit out there…the stuff I endlessly consume between my own writings.

I wrote my GAY TEEN ISSUES book already (PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE). When I was done with that book, I swore that, moving forward, I would only have incidentally gay teens in my books. Why should all LGBTQ teen literature focus only on the turmoil, the suffering, the struggles? I mean, we all know LGBTQ youth are rejected at home, rejected at school, rejected at church, rejected on the street and in the buses and in the subways and at the mall and restaurants. We ALL KNOW THIS ALREADY. And yes…I love a good redemption story where the main characters manage to find a place for themselves where nary a place was available to them prior to the insurmountable mountains they had to climb to carve that place out for themselves. Like, yeah…give me that story where LGBTQ teens conquer the impassible monumental odds against them. I’ll read it. Yes! That story is still needed.

But I’ll not write it again. I already have, in writing PRIDE. My struggle story is done. It’s exhausting to start your characters out in that place. I won’t do it again. Fuck the narrative that says an LGBTQ story should be fraught with identity struggle and finding a place to be welcome in a world that doesn’t want to welcome you. I’ll leave those books for others to write. And write it, they should.

I totally had that mindset when I set out to write The Camino Club. Even with that goal in mind, though, I did slip a bit into the LGBTQ teen struggle. Alas, it’s a bit inevitable. But I assure you I did not dwell there.

The Camino Club is an ensemble novel. It has probably no fewer than 8 main characters, if I’m being honest. At the very beginning I started to tell the story from 3 points of view and it just expanded from there the way un-planned novels tend to do.

So here’s a little re-cap of some of the main relationships in The Camino Club, for those who haven’t yet read it.

Diego and Shania – two of my three narrators. They hate each other a bit, but forge ahead knowing they’re in this together. They have to walk across Spain together, so they might as well find a way to tolerate each other. CIS/HET relationship.

Diego and Bastien – an old man comes along on the path and helps one of the teen lead characters out of a precarious predicament and then continues on with the group. Patriarch-Mentor/Child-Student relationship.

Troy and Kei – Troy is one of the three narrators. He’s a gay teen and his particular backstory is where I drag the GAY STRUGGLE into this story. Each of the teens have committed offenses that have landed them in the rehabilitation program they’re on the Camino to participate in. Troy’s crime was that he just couldn’t take the homophobia any more. Troy has a meet-cute moment while the group is stopped at a water fountain during a particularly grueling mountainous day on the Camino. Kei strikes his eye and his fancy. Gay Romance Relationship.

Claire and Zoe – The other gay representation in this book is Claire, one of the other 6 main teen characters walking the Camino in the program designed to push them to their limits and send them onto a path of redemption. Off the Page Lesbian Relationship.

Often, after writing a novel, I get this dread that I didn’t include enough LGBTQ content for it to be considered an LGBTQ book. But then I consider the source of my sliding scale content policing…it’s essentially the industry itself. Expectation is widely interpret-able. Some books just scream gay because of the nature of the content. My first LGBTQ book (referenced and linked above) was one of them. The original cover had a bright rainbow colored cover and there was no question that it was LGBTQ. In fact, if the reader was in the closet…it would be one of those covers that they would potentially feel awkward bandying about.

As I mentioned, though, I feel as though I have moved on from issue books. We deserve better…more. We deserve our stories to be focused on something other than JUST sexuality and the issues and luggage that come with that. After all, surely we are more than our sexuality.

I sometimes feel like I’m skating on a razor’s edge…attempting to incorporate just enough content to appease non-LGBTQ readers while intentionally making the story about LGBTQ life. It’s a struggle. It’s a nuisance.

The Camino Club has a gay sex scene. It is, after all, about teens falling in love. But it also explores multiple different kinds of relationships. I wrote it to reflect life…and more specifically, life on the Camino. The way characters walk in and out of your life and become SO IMPORTANT for days or hours at a time…and then move on or stay with you and form a lifelong bond. That’s what the Camino is about. And there’s room on the Camino for every single sexuality, every single gender, every single race…every single everything. I wanted to capture it all, but still have enough LGBTQ content for the novel to be considered as such.

Forgive me for leaving out the heavy issues, or for merely skating past them. We read to escape the tyranny we face…not always to explore it under a microscope. We need ALL KINDS OF LGBTQ STORIES. ALL KINDS. We live everyday lives and we live extraordinary lives. We were not put here merely for struggle. I for one have moved past the struggle stories. I’m not saying the struggle is over…FAR FROM IT. I’m saying a meet-cute romance doesn’t hurt. Feel Good is also a thing that LGBTQ folx can appreciate.

Do you want to read a novel about 6 teens who are pushed to their limits and set on a path of redemption? Pick up THE CAMINO CLUB today! It’s an LGBTQ book. It also isn’t. I believe so much in this story. I wrote it from a place of appreciation for one of my favourite places in the world. The Camino de Santiago is a transformative wonderland and it was something I was desperate to share with others. So…I wrote a book!

CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW:

ETA: In the time it took me to compose this post, my publisher INTERLUDE PRESS/DUET BOOKS announced a Holiday Sale!

So now, if you purchase THE CAMINO CLUB directly from the Interlude Press Online Store, you can get it for 40% off! Sale is on from now to Dec 24th! On anything in the store! This includes 3 of my titles; THE CAMINO CLUB, BILLIONS OF BEAUTIFUL HEARTS, and, BOOK OF DREAMS! Click on the image below to start shopping!

Huge Sale on All Interlude Press and Duet Books Titles and Merch! Nov 25-29, 2021!

Queer Book Sale!! 50% off EVERYTHING in the Interlude Press online store! This includes PAPERBACK BOOKS, DIGITAL BOOKS, and MERCHANDISE!

Which means it includes all the DUET BOOKS titles, including MY THREE TITLES!

Get The Camino Club ebook, The Camino Club paperback, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and the PREORDER of Book of Dreams in either format! for 50% off this weekend…no matter the format you choose!

SO MANY GREAT AUTHORS TO CHOOSE FROM! You can’t go wrong choosing any of them! From Julian Winters to Jude Sierra. From Kate Hazel Hall to C.B. Lee. From Joy Huang-Iris to Rudy Foster. From Celeste Castro to F.T. Lukens! You get the picture…every single book is on sale. 50% off for both the print and the ebook. THURSDAY NOVEMBER 25th, 2021 to MONDAY NOVEMBER 29th, 2021!

Go directly to the INTERLUDE PRESS ONLINE STORE HERE!

To shop exclusively in the DUET BOOKS YOUNG ADULT IMPRINT SECTION OF THE STORE GO HERE!

This coming THURSDAY to MONDAY! 50% off of EVERYTHING IN THE STORE! (only at their online store!) The 50% discount will appear in the cart at CHECKOUT!

Pride and Summer – Redo!

You may have noticed a couple of new covers if you recently visited My Amazon page. Both Pride Must Be a Place & Summer on Fire are now sporting new clothing. (-;

Unfortunately, my publisher, MuseItUp, had to make a tough decision and close their doors. It was a great pleasure working with the folx at MuseItUp! We had a long relationship. They were the publisher of both my debut novel and my sixth novel. I’m grateful for the time we spent together!

I now offer the SAME stories wrapped in newer clothing.

Here are the new covers:

PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE – Ezra Caine is gay. He’s sort of out at school but not at home, where he fears the wrath of his father’s bigotry. When Ezra’s flamboyantly out friend Alex Mills takes one too many beatings from homophobic bully Will Carter, Ezra finally snaps. Fed up with the situation at school, he decides to do something about it. With the help of his BFF, Nettie, and some unlikely allies, Ezra rallies to create their small-town school’s first gay-straight alliance. The Rainbow Alliance Club is formed. But the changes don’t come without hiccups, one of which being a messy scandal involving Alex and a gay hook-up app. As Ezra and his friends attempt to sway their school into an alliance of tolerance and acceptance, Ezra experiences a few surprises of his own on the home-front. He also learns the hard way that friendships out of convenience aren’t always a good idea, just as some enemies might not be as bad as he originally imagined them to be.

SUMMER ON FIRE – Zach Carson is a loyal friend. But is loyalty enough to keep best friends together when one of them sets fire to the rural barn they use as the local hangout? Zach, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson struggle to pick up the pieces when news spreads that a body was discovered in the burnt out shell of the neighboring home. When the word murder is used by the local police, the stakes grow even higher. When the police start searching for their most likely suspect—none other than Jeff’s older brother, and nemesis, Marty Barsell—the boys decide to join forces and come up with a way to prove his innocence. But just how innocent is Marty Barsell? When Marty admits to being at the scene of the crime, the three friends enlist the help of Zach’s annoying sister, Sherry, as well as the sympathetic town eccentric, Ms. Halverton. But can they keep it together long enough to save Marty, and themselves, from eminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.

To purchase copies of either of these novels, you can visit MY AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE RIGHT HERE. Maybe consider grabbing a copy of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE for #PrideReads! Pride month is almost over.

Please note that if you already have copies of either of these books–THE CONTENT IS THE SAME. ONLY THE COVERS HAVE CHANGED.

Billions of Beautiful Hearts is OUT!

My cute little short story BILLIONS OF BEAUTIFUL HEARTS about two teens who find a way to come together during the time of Covid lockdown is now out in the universe! Much thanks and gratitude to my readers who made this a #1 New Release on Amazon this week! My two nonbinary teen characters also thank you! I don’t think I have to say this, but representation is so important. I’m glad Wen & Kaye have made their way out into the world…and I’m excited that they’ve been well received. Thank you all who supported this short story!

Click the image below to go to Amazon to pick up a copy of Billions of Beautiful Hearts!Billions of Beautiful Hearts is one of four short stories in the COME WHAT MAY series…and I can promise you that the other 3 are quite lovely. One of the perks of being involved in this project is that I was able to get early reads on the other 3 stories. You’ll want to pick them up! Links below for the other COME WHAT MAY stories:

GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING by CLAIRE RUDY FOSTER is already out and available!

AND ALWAYS COMING BACK by JUDE SIERRA comes out Tuesday Feb 16th and is available for pre-order now.

SUNNY PASTURES by LILAH SUZANNE comes out Tuesday Feb 23rd and is available for pre-order now.

THANK YOU!

Come What May – February 2021 – from Interlude Press!

Last week I announced my upcoming short story, Billions of Beautiful Hearts. I also mentioned that it’s one in a group of short stories being published by Interlude Press. There are 3 other stories in the Come What May project.

All 4 of these shorts are available at your favourite ebook retailers, including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple Books and more. Below, you will find the Direct-from-the-Publisher buy links for the 3 remaining stories:

In GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING by Claire Rudy Foster, Laura and Thea live together in a punk house in Washington, D.C. Thea, a brash and unapologetic trans girl, lives the punk life to its fullest. But Laura leaves her leather and safety pins at home each day when she leaves for work in a government job—hiding her anti-establishment lifestyle from her co-workers and her mainstream tastes from her housemates.

When she invites Thea with her to see a Vermeer exhibit, Laura finds the courage to open up to Thea while viewing her favorite painting. Thea—normally critical of mainstream art—is charmed by both the painting and by Laura.

Available here for the special pre-order price of 99 cents

In AND ALWAYS COMING BACK by Jude Sierra, at first, David and Evan found a silver lining to quarantine in togetherness. But as the months wore on, the novelty wore off. At the seven-month marker, David broke down—but not because of what was happening outside. Recognizing that loneliness could wield power even when you’re not alone, David and Evan commit to rediscovering the silver that lines togetherness.

Available here for the special pre-order price of 99 cents

In SUNNY PASTURES by Lilah Suzanne when Frankie’s glamorous big city life falls apart, the only place she has left to go is her grandmother’s retirement village where she’s charmed by her grandmother’s friends, and a beautiful home health aide named Claire.

Available here for the special pre-order price of 99 cents

Covers are on their way for these 4 short stories. The release schedule is as follows:

The Girl with the Pearl Earring – February 2, 2021

Billions of Beautiful Hearts – February 9, 2021

And Always Coming Back – February 16, 2021

Sunny Pastures – February 23, 2021

CLICK ON THE TEMPORARY COVERS BELOW TO VISIT EACH STORY ON GOODREADS! Don’t forget to add to your TO READ shelf!

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