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Contemporary YA Duet Books Gay YA Interlude Press Julian Winters Kevin Craig Mason Deaver MuseItYoung Pride Pride Month Pride Reads Robin Stevenson Steven Salvatore Tom Ryan YA YA Fiction YA Lit Young Adult Young Adult Fiction

Pride Month Pride Reads

It’s Pride Month once again. Despite the fact that we are in the middle (nearing the end??) of a pandemic, June is the month set aside for celebrating the liberation of the LGBTQ+ community. The Pride Protest continues…and it is far from over. Though we celebrate how far LGBTQ+ rights have become human rights, we can’t lose sight of the fact that Pride is still more Protest than Celebration.

But…we do celebrate.

One thing to celebrate is how far we have come in a very short time with LGBTQ+ literature. The diversification of this literature is blossoming, driven by the demand and desire for LGBTQ+ peoples to see themselves in the fiction they read.

Here’s some LGBTQ+ literature I have been and will be reading in June…

JUST READ:

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore:

Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother’s spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice.

Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey’s tormentor and others in the school. It’s up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights–and they refuse to be silenced.

Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore’s Can’t Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.

This is such a lovely read! I was swoony and teary-eyed half the time I was reading this one. It tackles some tough LGBTQ+ issues around identity and equality in a high school setting. It also balances these issues with a sweet romance. It has genderqueer and bi representation and a high school musical. It’s definitely a summer read one could fall in love with. I can’t say enough about this gorgeous story! I have only heaps of praise.

CTTA on Amazon USA

CTTA on Amazon Canada

CURRENTLY READING:

When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson:

As kids, Mark and his cousin Talia spent many happy summers together at the family cottage in Ontario, but a fight between their parents put an end to the annual event. Living on opposite coasts—Mark in Halifax and Talia in Victoria—they haven’t seen each other in years. When their grandfather dies unexpectedly, Mark and Talia find themselves reunited at the cottage once again, cleaning it out while the family decides what to do with it.

Mark and Talia are both queer, but they soon realize that’s about all they have in common, other than the fact that they’d both prefer to be in Toronto. Talia is desperate to see her high school sweetheart Erin, who’s barely been in touch since leaving to spend the summer working at a coffee shop in the Gay Village. Mark, on the other hand, is just looking for some fun, and Toronto Pride seems like the perfect place to find it.

When a series of complications throws everything up in the air, Mark and Talia—with Mark’s little sister Paige in tow—decide to hit the road for Toronto. With a bit of luck, and some help from a series of unexpected new friends, they might just make it to the big city and find what they’re looking for. That is, if they can figure out how to start seeing things through each other’s eyes.

I still don’t know where exactly this one is going, but I am obsessively devouring it to find out! I love that it is set in Toronto and Muskoka, here in Ontario. As if the dynamic duo of two wonderful Canadian authors, Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson, wasn’t enough to make it a must read for my TBR pile, the COVER! I love to see Canadiana represented in fiction. But to see the CN Tower on the cover of a YA book? I couldn’t even imagine it. The second I saw this cover, I knew I had to have it. I’m really loving this story. I’m halfway through and already a little worried I’m going to miss it when it’s over.

WYGTC on Amazon USA

WYGTC on Amazon Canada

NEXT READ:

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver:

Everything happens for a reason.

At least that’s what everyone keeps telling Liam Cooper after his older brother Ethan is killed suddenly in a hit-and-run.

Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationships of his two best friends in the process.

Soon, Liam finds themself spending time with Ethan’s best friend, Marcus, who might just be the only person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through-for better and for worse.

The Ghosts We Keep is an achingly honest portrayal of grief. But it is also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.

I fell in love with Mason Deaver’s debut novel, I Wish You All the Best. Some authors immediately go on my Must Read list for all future books. Deaver is one of those authors for me. I can’t wait to read this much anticipated story!

TGWK on Amazon USA

TGWK on Amazon Canada

An Incredible Pride Reads Announcement from Julian Winters and Interlude Press/Duet Books!

Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-proud, super-likable guy who friends, faculty, and fellow students alike admire for his cheerful confidence. The only person who isn’t entirely sure about Remy Cameron is Remy himself. Under pressure to write an A+ essay defining who he is and who he wants to be, Remy embarks on an emotional journey toward reconciling the outward labels people attach to him with the real Remy Cameron within.

From the author of the bestselling novel Running With Lions, a story about overcoming the labels that try to define our lives

Speaking of authors who immediately go on my Must Read list for all future books, Julian Winters made an incredible announcement this week during the Edelweiss Book Fest! His 2nd novel, How to Be Remy Cameron has an audio book in production! Interlude Press is going AUDIO! I can’t think of a better way to begin that journey than with a Julian Winters book! Watch their Twitter account for more information, but THIS IS HAPPENING!

HTBRC on Amazon USA

HTBRC on Amazon Canada

Upcoming Pride Month Pride Release Read:

There are always new LGBTQ titles dropping! So refreshing to see this market growing so rapidly! Here’s a title that is coming out DURING PRIDE MONTH 2021!

L.I.F.E. by Felyx Lawson:

Rider Williams is your typical high school student. He has classes, hangs with friends, plays video games, writes for the school paper, plays guitar, collects comics, and is gay. Okay, so he’s not your typical high school student.

Rider is trying to finish his senior year of high school while struggling to accept himself and hide his secret. It’s difficult and he might have succeeded if not for two challenges in his way. The first, an assignment about the one thing he doesn’t understand and hasn’t experienced: love. The other, Cameron Walker, a transfer student who looks like a stereotypical jock, but seems to be so much more.

Can Rider survive the weight of his secret?

It’s only the start of the school year but Rider already knows L.I.F.E. isn’t as easy as it seems.

Looking forward to this one! It drops on JUNE 25th, but you can pre-order Felyx Lawson‘s debut novel from Deep Hearts YA any time!

L.I..F.E. on Amazon USA

L.I.F.E. on Amazon Canada

My Own Pride Reads Selections:

Okay, this is where I share my own Pride Reads Books! What?! You knew it was coming.

I just so happen to have 3 Pride books of my own. Now’s as good a time as any to share them! Pick one of them up for Pride Month Pride Reads!

Billions of Beautiful Hearts (Interlude Press/Duet Books) is a young adult story with two nonbinary teens finding love online during the time of Covid Lockdown. The Camino Club (Interlude Press/Duet Books) is a young adult story with six teens walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain as atonement for their crimes back home in Toronto. It features a gay narrator with lesbian rep. Pride Must Be A Place (Muse It Up) is a young adult story with Ezra Caine and his friends coming together to create their small-town high school’s first Gay Straight Alliance. Ezra discovers along the way that he can find happiness, love, and safety in the places he once feared.

KEVIN CRAIG AUTHOR PAGE on AMAZON USA

KEVIN CRAIG AUTHOR PAGE on AMAZON CANADA

It’s Pride Month. Whatever you choose to do with your reading time this month, just consider spending some of that time reading and supporting LGBTQ+ fiction!

HAPPY PRIDE!

Categories
Pride Pride Must Be A Place

PRIDE Giveaway Alert – Head Over to Twitter!

For Pride Month, I’m giving away a print copy of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE! To enter the giveaway, find me at Twitter and RETWEET the following TWEET before Midnight June 21st:

Pride.jpg

ON TWITTER, I’M @KevinTCraig

Here’s the synopsis of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE from AMAZON:

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 Severe, 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.

For reader reviews of PRIDE head on over to GOODREADS. You can also place it on your shelf while you’re there. (-;

You can purchase a copy on AMAZON

Enter by June 21st!

Good luck! Happy Pride!

Categories
Friday Reads Gay YA Pride Pride Must Be A Place

It’s Friday Reads – PRIDE

During the 2016 Muskoka Novel Marathon, I wrote 1/2 of the novel PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE in 72hrs. I usually strive to write the entire first draft of a novel at the yearly novel writing marathon. Honestly, it’s where/when I do the lion’s share of my entire yearly writing output. I’m scatterbrained and forgetful. This makes for a terrible daily writing routine where one has to pick up where one left off the previous day. When I try to write in this manner, I find myself needing to go back a chapter or more just to find out where I am and what the story is about. We make do, right? We figure workarounds and MacGyvers to bypass our weaknesses. The Muskoka Novel Marathon is my workaround. I get to sit and write a novel hopefully from start to finish. Doing it this way, I don’t forget the thread… I carry it with me throughout the entire weekend and the weaving is both tighter and more sensical (as an aside here, I would like to point out that the spellcheck on this thing just told me sensical is not a word and that I should correct it to nonsensical… that is probably a sign in itself).

With PRIDE, I only got halfway through the novel during the marathon weekend. I say only but really, who gets to write half a novel in one weekend? It was a great start. I found my pace and I allowed the characters to take me on their journey. Prior to starting out on the writing journey every year, there is an almost 3 hour car trip from Toronto to Huntsville, Ontario… the heartland of the Muskokas, otherwise known as one of Ontario’s premiere cottage countries. I do this journey with the help of Tim Hortons, obviously. I am, after all, Canadian.

The difference with the year in question, 2016, is that not quite halfway to Huntsville I received a phone call while I was in the drive-thru of the aforementioned Tim Hortons. I pulled into a parking spot and answered my cell.

It was Lorraine Segato on the other end. For those who don’t know who that is, she’s the lead singer of the Parachute Club…the fabulous Canadian new wave band of the 80s that gave us the anthem song RISE UP. I had already chosen the song as the playlist for my 2016 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel. I had a playlist of one song, the title PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, and an idea to somehow weave Ms. Segato into my story by way of reunion concert with my group of gays flocking to see the band that gave them their song of empowerment. It was going to be EPIC!

I spoke with Ms. Segato for a good 20 minutes. She told me what she liked about my ideas as I ran them by her, and she told me what she didn’t particularly stand by. She told me, most importantly, how she WOULDN’T act in certain situations I described. She gave me her authenticity and denounced one of my envisioned final scenes by clarifying that it just didn’t seem like something she would say/do.

After our conversation, I realized the very different turns my story could take. I realized I didn’t need to possibly misrepresent Ms. Segato by having her being inauthentic in the story, that I could leave her out of the story and still tell it. What I did keep in PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE was the thread of the novel’s one song playlist. RISE UP is woven throughout that novel in such a way that I sincerely hope it encourages my readers to reach for the Parachute Club and discover the power and magnitude of the anthem.

Pride did take a totally different direction than the one I envisioned for it. This is often the case when you chase a story over a short amount of time like this. You rush to keep up with the trajectory of your characters, who feel free to just explode onto the page and take the wheel. This is especially true in the wee hours of the mornings when you find you’re still writing the story but kind of in a fugue state… an auto-pilot state where writer has disappeared and only writing is left. I brought in parental characters who had their own story to tell, by way of gay parents for one of the teen characters. I brought in a gay hook-up app and age-inappropriate relations. I brought in characters unwilling to change and characters unable to do anything but change. I introduced love interests and bigots and bright-sides, all the while playing that RISE UP song… both within the pages of the story and in the earbuds connected to my short Spotify playlist. The song fueled me in the same way Ms. Segato’s conversation fueled me. With her help, I totally avoided the bad ending I envisioned for my story. She essentially wrote herself out of the story in a way that kept her presence all over it.

It’s FRIDAY today as I write this. On social media, writers and readers alike use this day to tell the world what they’re reading and suggest what others COULD be reading. So today, I’m going to make a suggestion. Bet you can’t guess what it is.

Here’s the blurb for 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 Severe, 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.

The blurb says nothing about Gary. I honestly didn’t know Gary would strike a chord with so many people, but he has. I’ve even had emails and contacts through my site here from readers telling me how much they loved Gary…who is one of Marc’s two fathers. I don’t know where Gary came from, but I’m almost certain he was born around 2am on the Saturday of that marathon. He’s flamboyant af and when he entered the story he pretty much pranced, garden sheers in hand…demanding to be noticed. That’s one of the delights of the Muskoka Novel Marathon…unexpected characters, unexpected scenes, unexpected everything. THIS IS THE WAY TO WRITE A FIRST DRAFT. Trust me.

Today, may I suggest this little novel that I poured so many dedicated hours of work into…both at the marathon and after. Yes, we plow through first drafts at these marathons, but man do we ever work and rework these things when the weekend’s over. It took me more than a year of rewrites to get to the finished manuscript for this novel. And that was before the big edits at the publisher stage. MNM is for first drafts. It’s a magical way to produce them, too. POOF! In one weekend you have a draft or a good portion of one. And if you get stuck along the way, you’re in a room with 39 other writers doing the exact same thing. We depend on one another to bounce ideas around and help get each other through the hard bits.

I’ll be doing the Muskoka Novel Marathon again this coming July. It’ll be my 11th marathon. I’ve no idea what I’m going to write this time around. I’m almost certain I’ll have no celebrity phone calls during my long ride up to Huntsville, but I’m also certain I’ll have some ideas floating around by then. Maybe even a playlist. In the coming weeks, I’ll be asking for MONEY. Not for me, of course, but for the CAUSE. The marathon is not just an amazing way to write a first draft. Though we often forget it’s not a con or a workshop or a writing retreat…it is first and foremost a fundraiser. Every year the 40 writers who attend the marathon collect pledges prior to attending. All monies raised go to the literacy programs of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka. We typically raise over $30,000.00 a year…these much needed funds keep all the vibrant literacy programs running. Keep a watch here for my donation link. I would really appreciate your support.

In the meantime, how about heading over to Amazon and picking up a copy of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE for #FridayReads You can see just what sort of thing comes out of a 72 hour novel writing marathon. I’m making it really easy for you. JUST CLICK ON ONE OF THE TWO BOOK COVERS BELOW:

 

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AMAZON CANADA BUY LINK

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AMAZON USA BUY LINK

If you have already read PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, I thank you for doing so. If you haven’t already, please consider leaving a review at either AMAZON or on GOODREADS. It would be very much appreciated. Us authors with small publishers rely a lot on word of mouth…Goodreads and Amazon are great ways for new readers to discover us. THANKS SO MUCH!

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CLICK ON THIS SCREENSHOT IMAGE FROM GOODREADS TO BE TAKEN DIRECTLY TO PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE ON GOODREADS.

Happy #FridayReads whatever you choose to read today!

Categories
LGBT LGBT Teen Fiction LGBTQ LGBTQ Fiction Pride Pride Must Be A Place Wiki Ezvid

11 Wonderfully Diverse YA Novels with LGBTQ+ Representation! Pride Must Be A Place Now on Wiki Ezvid…

Check out this Wiki Ezvid List on which Pride Must Be A Place is being featured! Pride is in some great company on this list of YA novels with diverse LGBTQ+ representation! Watch the accompanying video to get a snap-shot of Pride‘s synopsis! CLICK ON THE HEADLINE BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO FEATURING THE 11 BOOKS:

11 Wonderfully Diverse YA Novels About LGBTQ+ Characters

Love BOOK LISTS? There’s a lot to love on Wiki Ezvid then. Check out some of their FICTION LISTS HERE!

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You can pick up a Kindle copy of PRIDE here.