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Queer YA Scrabble

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.

Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.

Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.

But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.

A partly graphic novel.


An excerpt from The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

I don't dream much anymore; I draw instead.

I spill my graphite nightmares onto rough pages that I scavenge from recycling bins in the billing department. And I listen. I listen to the scraps of words and whispers that float about on the cool, antiseptic air. I watch the flickering images that appear and disappear at the corners of my eyes. Sometimes I hear nothing for days, and then it'll all rush in like a tsunami that washes over me and never recedes. Reality becomes twisted until my world and the world of memories, where my family is still alive, blend together and I don't know what's real.

And then there's the world I create.

My superhero has a name: Patient F. Before I arrived at the hospital, I barely drew at all. Just doodles on the edges of textbook pages. But now I draw constantly, filling the gaps between minutes with stark lines and harrowed eyes. Even when I don't want to.

I've been working on Patient F's story for about a month. It begins before Patient F is captured by the RAND Corporation for experimentation. It begins when he's still a man in a suit, doing the kinds of boring things men in suits do. The things that no one writes about because they know that boys don't really have nightmares about clowns or three-eyed tentacle beasts that rise from the deep within volcanoes. When boys wake screaming in the night, it's because they know that one day, they'll have to grow into men who wears suits and spend their days doing boring things that cause them to rot from within, so their skin withers and blackens and cracks, leaking out their juices until they finally lie decaying and putrid, forgotten by a world that deemed them unworthy of remembering.


That's the last Queer YA Scrabble post! Have you managed to solve the anagram? (Hint: you should have found 11 letters and a punctuation mark!) If so, you can enter the giveaway using the form below! Good luck and I hope you enjoyed playing Queer YA Scrabble! 💖

Queer YA Scrabble

Rainbow BriefsRainbow Briefs by Kira Harp

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Have you ever looked at a picture, perhaps a photo of two guys in a tight hug, or two girls holding hands, and wondered, What happened before that moment? What will they do next?

These fifteen stories were inspired by images from the Young Adult LGBT Books Group. In these pages you'll find LGBTQ teenagers living their lives - experiencing first encounters and long relationships, coming out, staying closeted, questioning, loving, having adventures, dealing with family, with prejudice, with magic. Author Kira Harp provides this collection of Young Adult romantic, fantasy, and contemporary short stories.


Kira Harp, author of Rainbow Briefs, kindly answered a few questions for me!

1. How did you become interested in LGBT YA?

I've always loved reading and writing YA, as well as adult fiction. Books saved my sanity as a teenager, and I never stopped enjoying stories of every kind. For a lot of years, I only wrote for my own fun, different genres, adult and YA , with heroes both straight and LGBTQ. Then in 2011, I submitted my first adult gay romance story, and suddenly I was a published author.

I got some really lovely responses on my first books, and that led me to the online reading community. Their encouragement made me brave enough to post some of my YA stories for people to read as well. I joined the YA LGBT Books Group on Goodreads, where we have creative writing fun every month, and I wrote stories there for the picture prompts. Then when Featherweight Press was looking for some YA stories for their charity line, with the royalties going to LGBT charities, I donated a couple of short stories, "The Benefit of Ductwork" and "Intervention". Those were my first YA publications.

2. Rainbow Briefs is a collection of 15 LGBT YA stories. Can you briefly tell us something about the range of stories and experiences represented in the book?

Back when the number of my stories for the Goodreads YA LGBT group reached 25 or 30, my friend Sara Winters began encouraging me to put together a collection of them. The idea was to have a positive, hopeful, diverse set of stories, something that could reach readers who might not find the group or care to join. She convinced me to do Rainbow Briefs, which is mostly free as an ebook (although .99 on Amazon) and inexpensive in paper, to make it accessible.

It was hard to pick which stories to include. I knew I wanted to make the book LGBTQ, covering a range of experiences and situations, and I also wanted to choose stories which I thought were among the better ones I'd written. I included several stories about gay guys, where I have the most experience as a writer, but also some about two girls, or transgender characters, or three guys together, or a bisexual character. I wrote a couple of extra stories for the book, to provide more balance. As for plot lines, most of the stories are contemporary, but some are fantasy or paranormal. Some have a true romance arc, where others are more a slice of life. All have a positive ending, and while there may be pain or difficulties, there are no tragedies here.

3. Do you have a personal favourite story in the collection?

I think "Designing Sam" is my favorite. This was the first time I'd tried to write about a transgender main character.

Sam was born in a female body, but has always felt like a boy. Unfortunately, his family is not at all happy about that. In this story, Sam begins to come out as a guy, to find himself, and to launch his real life. He finds support in unexpected places, but must deal with the realities of trying to transition within the framework of his current life and family. I really liked trying to write Sam's point of view, to make him real, understandable and sympathetic, but not too perfect. I wanted to let readers see that this is not about Sam trying to become something he's not, but rather trying to finally become the person he's always known himself to be. There are some tough moments, but an upbeat ending.


Come back tomorrow morning for the last Queer YA Scrabble post, an excerpt from The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson!

Queer YA Scrabble

Martyr

Martyr by A. R. Kahler

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Three years have passed since magic destroyed the world.

Those who remain struggle to survive the monsters roaming the streets, fighting back with steel and magic—the very weapons that birthed the Howls in the first place.

Tenn is one such Hunter, a boy with the ability to harness the elements through ancient runes. For years, the Hunters have used this magic to keep the monsters at bay, but it's never been enough to truly win the war. Humans are losing.

When Tenn falls prey to an incubus named Tomás and his terrifying Kin, Tenn learns there's more to this than a fight for survival. He's a pawn in a bigger game, one with devastating consequences. If he doesn't play his part, it could cost him his life, his lover and his world.


Let's welcome A. R. Kahler, the wonderful author of Martyr, to the blog to answer some questions!

A R Kahler
by Kindra Nicole photography

1. What inspired you to write Martyr?

I began writing Martyr nearly a decade ago. Honestly, it started at a lunch table with friends, talking about an evil necromancer and his cuddly-cute demonic familiar. That vein of storyline dropped, but I stayed in that world and kept brainstorming and rewriting drafts. It morphed into something completely different--a dark, urban fantasy set in an apocalyptic world with fierce magic and fiercer monsters. So it's hard to say why I wrote it. I just couldn't leave the world.

2. There’s quite a lack of LGBT genre fiction. Can you recommend any good LGBT YA for readers who liked Martyr?

Eesh, this is hard. I honestly haven't read much LGBT genre fiction. The two that come to mind right now are ASH by Malindo Lo and WITCH EYES by Scott Tracy. Hmm....

3. What can readers expect in the sequel to Martyr?

A long wait! We have no idea when the sequel will be out. But, once it's out there, readers can expect a whole new side of this world, as well as a new, sizzling cast of characters. If MARTYR is dark and nostalgic, MENDER is fiery and revolutionary. Lots of fun surprises in store.


Next up: an interview with Kira Harp, author of Rainbow Briefs!

Queer YA Scrabble

Pitch

Pitch by Will Parkinson

Goodreads | Amazon UK

The day Jackson Kern walks into Taylor Andrews’s classroom is a momentous day in Taylor's life. He's had crushes before, sure, but as time goes on, this is starting to look a whole lot more serious. Still, Jackson doesn’t return Taylor’s feelings.

Taylor has his own admirers, though. Kevin Richards is used to getting what he wants, and what he wants right now is Taylor, so when Taylor rejects him, Kevin retaliates. At first Taylor’s entourage rallies around him, but then Kevin takes his deception one step further and Taylor sees his support dwindle, teaching him the valuable lesson about who he can truly consider a friend.


An excerpt from Pitch

STANDING by the bleachers near the dugout, Taylor couldn’t help but wonder why he was there. Baseball tryouts held no interest for him. In fact, he’d always found the game kind of stupid, yet here he was. His gaze landed on Jackson Kern. Yeah, that was something he really wanted, to see Jackson play the game.

Jackson took the center thingy… the mound or whatever it’s called. Taylor had spent a good deal of time reading about baseball. He figured he should know something about it, just in case Jackson ever spoke to him. Still, he was having a hard time wrapping his head around all the rules and terms. Didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try, though. He pulled out his sketchbook and did a few rough outlines, wanting to fill them out later. Jackson threw a few pitches to the catcher, loosening up. Mitch Daniels, Cody’s younger brother, stepped up and tapped his bat on the ground. Jackson brought his arms up near his chest, struck a pose, and shook his head slightly. After a moment he leaned back and threw the ball. It went straight across the plate at blinding speed. Mitch swung at it and missed completely. When Jackson finished the inning, allowing no hits, he marched back to the dugout; the coach’s jaw fell open as he rushed out to meet Jackson.

“Kid, what’s your name?”

“Jackson, sir. My friends call me Jax.”

“Well, Jax, if you can throw like that with consistency, you’re gonna be our ace. I can tell,” the coach said, practically drooling over the young prospect.

Taylor thought he saw Jackson… Jax blush. By the end of the tryouts, not one person had hit anything Jackson threw. When the coach told him he had a spot, Jackson smiled so big and wide, Taylor was sure his heart would stop. Then Becca came running over and threw her arms around the team’s new pitcher. Taylor turned in disgust and started shuffling away, pausing to take a last look at Jackson. He was all hot and sweaty, and it looked really, really good on him. Taylor knew that’s what he was going to be thinking about when he went to bed.

***

TAYLOR found himself drawn to watch the practices. He kept trying to tell himself it was stupid, and he knew it was, but he really enjoyed watching Jackson. He’d been going to watch practice every day for two weeks when he saw Jackson turn in his direction. For just a second he thought, more like hoped, that Jackson was looking at him. His eyes locked on Jackson, and his mouth went dry, wishing that he’d come over to him, put his arms around him, whisper in his ear… but then the guy turned and walked over to the rest of the team, clearing the field for the next inning. Taylor’s heart sank, realizing it was all wishful thinking on his part.

***

“COME on, Taylor, crack a book. I came over to study, not to watch you stare at the ceiling,” Benny huffed, pushing a pile of laundry off the chair and parking himself at the desk. “And would it kill you to clean up a little bit? This place is a sty, man.”

Taylor never even registered the reproach in Benny’s voice. All he could think about was Jackson.

“Benny, I’m going nuts. I know it’s never gonna go anywhere, but I can’t stop going to see him,” Taylor groaned.

Benny stared at him, eyes wide. “Wow, never saw you this bad before. You’d always crush for a few weeks and then see some new hottie that made you forget the old one. Maybe you really do have it bad for this guy,” Benny muttered.

Swinging his legs over, Taylor sat on the edge of the bed, grinning with excitement. “You’ve got no idea. Yesterday morning I saw him with a smear of toothpaste in the corner of his mouth. I swear it was one of the hottest things I’d ever seen, and I just wanted to lick it off.”

Benny’s lips tightened into a grimace. “Toothpaste is hot? God, you’re so weird, Taylor. I hope you won’t be upset if I don’t admit to knowing you when we’re in public.”

Taylor smirked, remembering everything with vivid detail. “It was hot! If it wasn’t for the fact that Becca rubbed it off for him, which really pissed me off, by the way, I’d have stared at it all day.”

“So he and Becca are together?” Benny asked, putting the book down and finally turning to face Taylor.

“Yeah, I guess. She’s always hanging on him and hugging him. It’s totally disgusting,” Taylor sneered.

“Because it’s what you want to be doing?” Benny wondered aloud, keeping his voice low.

“Maybe.” Taylor sighed. “Either way, this just reinforces my dislike of public displays of affection.”

“So when are you gonna finally talk to him? How hard can it really be?” Benny asked patiently.

Taylor could see the look of pity on his friend’s face, but he snapped, “Well, you get a girl to notice you and then come back and give me some pointers, okay?”

Taylor knew it wasn’t fair. Benny was all about his schoolwork. His parents were always so strict about everything, and the schoolwork had to come first.

Benny quirked an eyebrow and stared at Taylor condescendingly. “I don’t need a girl to notice me, Tay. I’m not the one who needs validation. Maybe you should just join the monks. I’m sure then you’ll get plenty of hot action,” Benny chuckled as he opened his math book. There was going to be a stupid quiz tomorrow, which, naturally, Benny was going to ace. He always aced them. Benny’s grades were important to him. As it stood Benny had a near-perfect GPA and would likely be valedictorian as a senior.

He and Benny had been the best of friends since kindergarten. Taylor knew Benny would do almost anything for him, even if it included telling him things about himself he really didn’t want to hear, especially when it was the truth. Taylor knew he was a chicken, but he also knew unrequited love would be better than being humiliated in front of or by Jackson.


Next up: an interview with A. R. Kahler, author of Martyr!

Queer YA Scrabble

Untitled-8

Trust Me, I'm Trouble by Mary Elizabeth Summer

Goodreads | Amazon UK

The sequel to TRUST ME, I’M LYING

Staying out of trouble isn’t possible for Julep Dupree. She has managed not to get kicked out of her private school, even though everyone knows she’s responsible for taking down a human-trafficking mob boss—and getting St. Agatha’s golden-boy Tyler killed in the process. Running cons holds her guilty conscience at bay, but unfortunately, someone wants Julep to pay for her mistakes . . . with her life.

Against her better judgment, Julep takes a shady case that requires her to infiltrate a secretive organization that her long-gone mother and the enigmatic blue fairy may be connected to. Her best friend, Sam, isn’t around to stop her, and Dani, her one true confidante, happens to be a nineteen-year-old mob enforcer whose moral compass is as questionable as Julep’s. But there’s not much time to worry about right and wrong—or to save your falling heart—when there’s a contract on your head.

Murders, heists, secrets and lies, hit men and hidden identities . . . If Julep doesn’t watch her back, it’s her funeral. No lie.


An excerpt from Trust Me, I'm Trouble

If I could give fledgling con artists one piece of advice, it would be this: tacos.

Specifically, Cemitas Pubela tacos.

There might be a mark somewhere out there impervious to the fresh Oaxaca cheese and garden-grown papalo, but if there is, I have yet to meet him. The spit-roasted pork, the chorizo and carne asada, the chile guajillo … No one says no to tacos. At least, not these tacos. Which is why they are my secret weapon in my toughest cases.

Holding a bag of taco heaven, I knock on the back door of our own windowless 1996 Chevy van, and wait for Murphy to let me in. Murphy opens the door, the cord of his headphones stretched to its limit. He doesn’t bother looking at me until he smells the tacos.

“You brought me dinner?” he says, eyes lighting up.

“Mitts off, Murph. These are for the mark.”

Murphy grumbles something under his breath.

“Well, if you’d get out of the van and actually, you know, work, the tacos could have been for you.”

“The van is an extension of me. I do not leave the van. The van does not leave me.”

J.D. Investigations, which is the name Murphy and I finally settled on for our PI form, purchased the van in March for all of the company’s creeper spying needs. Murphy practically drooled on the bumper when he saw the extended wheelbase. I liked the monstrosity for its diesel engine, the price of gas being what it is. But what sealed it for us was the 1-800-TAXDRMY hand-painted on the side. I’d like to see the curious bystander brave enough to peek in that windshield.


Next up: an excerpt from Pitch by Will Parkinson!