Long post about LGBTQ (and poly, too!) YA fiction is long.

So in the wee hours of this morning when my head wouldn’t shut off but also wouldn’t focus properly, I found this site called gayya.org which is all about LGBTQ Young Adult fiction. They have a pretty fantastic reading list, and welcome suggestions for more titles to put on the list (I sent them four.)

They also have an Online Resources page, where they link to “blogs, websites, and authors” who support LGBTQ YA fiction. I suggested youngadultmag.com, the online YA magazine I’ve written for. To demonstrate the LGBTQ inclusiveness of the site, I shared links to the lesbian poly story I wrote (did I mention the reading list for this site also includes YA books that have some form of polyamory? It’s part of the last category!) and a currently featured, first-in-a-series (called Reflection of a Leader) story, written by a dear friend of mine, centering around about a HS teacher and coordinator of a student LGBTQ group.

The reading list on the site was pretty comprehensive, so I’ve copy and pasted it here to spread the word, give me (and anyone else, if you’re the curious type) an idea of what I’ve read, add some commentary, and also help me to pick new books to check out from the library. Which, can I just say that even though I’m living in the South now, my library has a heartening stock of LGBTQ books? One of the newer ones on the Lesbian list, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” just came out and the library had it ready to go!

LESBIAN CHARACTERS AND PAIRINGS
Gravel Queen by Tea Benduhn
How Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart <- WONDERFUL book. Loved it.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth <- just got it from the library last week
The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
Down to the Bone by Mayra Dole
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden <- one of the first lesbian books I read. Made me love the Temple of Dendur even more.
Good Moon Rising by Nancy Garden
Sister Mischief by Laura Goode
Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
Torn by Amber Lehman
Gravity by Leanne Lieberman
Ash by Malinda Lo
Huntress by Malinda Lo
My Tiki Girl by Jennifer McMahon
Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
Tripping to Somewhere by Kris Reisz
The End by Nora Olsen
Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters
Far From Xanandu by Julie Anne Peters
Keeping You A Secret by Julie Anne Peters
Rage by Julie Anne Peters <- Incredibly good, and deals not only with lesbian teen characters, but an abusive one.
She Loves You, She Loves You Not by Julie Anne Peters
Luna by Julie Anne Peters
Grl2Grl by Julie Anne Peters
The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
Empress of the World by Sarah Ryan
The Rules for Hearts by Sarah Ryan
Inferno by Robin Stevenson
The Sweep Series by Cate Tiernan
Please Don’t Kill The Freshmen by Zoe Trope
Pink by Lili Wilkson
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
Love & Lies by Ellen Wittlinger

GAY CHARACTERS AND PAIRINGS
Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block
The Value of X by Poppy Z. Brite
The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron
How Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart
Dance on My Grave by Aidan Chambers
With or Without You by Brian Farrey
The Screwed-up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson
My Heartbeat by Garrett Freymanm-Weyr
The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
Jumping off the Planet by David Gerrold
Bouncing off the Moon by David Gerrold
Leaping to the Stars by David Gerrold
Two Parties, One Tux, and A Very Short Film About the Grapes of Wrath by Steven Goldman
Mariposa Club by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Last Exit to Normal by Michael B. Harmon
Geography Club my Brent Hartinger <- This is part of the “Russel Middlebrook” series (as is the title below this listing) which centers around Russel and his friends in high school. This series is awesome to me, especially, because it features one of YA fiction’s few openly bisexual female characters.
The Order of the Poison Oak by Brent Hartinger
Jack by A.M. Homes
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
Totally Joe by James Howe
Freaks and Revelations by Davida Wills Hurwin
Freak Show by James St. James <- OMG, I don’t think I’ve ever read a more fabulous character in all of literature than Billy Bloom.
Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger
Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg
The Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
Absolutely Positively Not by David LaRochelle
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Leviathan
Boy Meets Boy by David Leviathan
Wide Awake by David Leviathan
Love is the Higher Law by David Leviathan
Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne
Dramarama by E. Lockhart
The Year of Ice by Brian Malloy
Twelve Long Months by Brian Malloy
The Wicked Lovely Series by Melissa Marr
The Straight Road to Kylie by Nico Medina
Hero by Perry Moore
Sunblood by Maria Mora
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Exiled to Iowa. Send Help. And Couture. by Chris O’Guinn
Sprout by Dale Peck
Blood Hound by Tamora Pierce
Do You Know That I Love You by Mark A. Roeder
Obscura Burning by Suzanne van Rooyen
In Mike We Trust by P.E. Ryan
Saints of Augustine by P. E. Ryan
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz
The Rainbow Boys Trilogy by Alex Sanchez <- ADORED this trilogy.
So Hard To Say by Alex Sanchez
Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai
A Really Nice Prom Mess by Brian Sloan
Stick by Andrew Smith
Big Guy by Robin H. Stevenson
The Blue Lawn by William Taylor
Please Don’t Kill THe Freshmen by Zoe Trope
Peter by Kate Walker
Dishes by Rich Wallace
My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
A vigil for Joe Rose by Michael Whatling
Bad Boys by Diana J. Wieler
Teenage Rewrite by Brandon Williams
What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson
Hushed by Kelly York

TRANS, POLY AND QUEER PAIRINGS AND CHARACTERS
I Am J by Chris Beam
Speaking Out – Anthology edited by Steve Berman
Mariposa Club by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde
F2M: The Boy Within by Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher <- It was good. But I also remember it not being as good, to me, as Luna or Parrotfish (see below).
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
The End by Nora Olsen
Luna by Julie Anne Peters <- I love Julie Ann Peters. She’s my hero in the LGBTQ YA scene. I would love to meet her one day. Also, this book rocks my socks and I recommend it to anyone, whether you’re dealing with trans issues in your life or family or friends or not.
Blood Hound by Tamora Pierce
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger <- AWESOME. One of my fav trans fiction books.

“I’ve been here sleeping all these years.”

It’s been a dark week.

My brain and body had very few spoons to start with and the slightest little thing seemed to tap them all at once.  I was besieged by unrelenting nightmares, surprised by physical and emotional pain (much of which shouldn’t’ve been surprising), and bombarded with a near constant urge for chocolate to soothe my nerves, however temporarily.

Slowly, I feel it lifting.  Suggestions from friends (force yourself to work on, and therefore through, it) and family (the less politically correct version: suck it up) helped slightly but not as much as I hoped.  One of the most helpful things was actually when a friend resurrected her round robin style of getting a group of her friends to say three things they’re thankful or glad for every single day. Constantly reminding myself of the good, and having other people do the same, reminded me how many blessings are in my life, if only I remember them.

It’s not perfect.  I still feel off, and things take far too many spoons away from me.  But I’m getting somewhere.  I’m getting some of it out in writing, some through reading, and some in just exploring the dark, painful parts and letting them hurt.

Also, music has been a comfort.  Tylan’s song “Wild Awake” sums up the last 14 years of my life, right up to now, fairly well.  The title of this post is a Melissa Etheridge song called “Into the Dark”, which is where I’ve been.  Others that have popped up are “The Morning of the Rain” and “Let There Be Lonely” by Jonathan Jackson, “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserablès, “Thank God for My Friends” by Crystal Bowersox, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Celtic Woman and sometimes Elvis, and “Hold On” from The Secret Garden.

So, yeah.  Holdin’ on.  I guess that’s something, right?

Being a better person, lobster love, and connecting more dots

Lobster-love-print-newdayprints

Nifty image from newdayprints on Etsy. Check them out. They’ve got hundreds of cool, affordable, unique prints. This lobster, however, is sold out.  I was sad, too.

Cracked.com is known for its incisive, edgy, and trademark snarkiness. Right now, this particular article detailing “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person” has knocked me for a loop.

Because they are kinda harsh.  And they are true.  (And really funny once your ego understands that it’s about to get a kick in the ass.)  Here are the aforementioned 6 Harsh Truths, though you really need to read the article to fully understand the awesome that is Cracked.com.

  • #6. The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You
  • #5. The Hippies Were Wrong
  • #4. What You Produce Does Not Have to Make Money, But It Does Have to Benefit People
  • #3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don’t Do Anything
  • #2. What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do
  • #1. Everything Inside You Will Fight Improvement

It’s about action.  Connecting dots in life.  And what impedes action.  And how you need to find a way to connect the damn dots anyway.

A few days ago, I reviewed the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  In it, there’s a precept/theme that one should always be a little kinder than is necessary.

Because kindness is something you do.  Sitting down and eating lunch with someone who’s eating alone.  Calling a friend when you know they’re going through a rough spot. Giving leftovers to a homeless person. Contributing to a food bank.

Love is also something you do.  And I’m not talking about sex.  I’m talking about the activities, day in and day out, that make a relationship work.  While it’s nice and necessary to have dreams and ideals in a relationship, they only happen if you work towards them every day.  As a friend astutely observed, “we march towards dreams in the day to day. ”

Or, to put it in a less poetic way, I was chatting with another friend recently about how much my impending divorce hurt, because I love my husband.  My friend replied with, “I love lobster.  It doesn’t put a lobster dinner on the table.”

That packed a punch.  I had been shelling out the old adage “sometimes love isn’t enough” but not fully comprehending why.  Because of lobster, that’s why.  Because you can love something, but love alone doesn’t make a relationship.

Or, if you prefer more a more poetic, musical rendition, check out Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra’s music video to “The Bed Song”:

The same goes for friendships…minus the bed.  (sometimes.) Lately I’ve been ruminating about friends I’ve drifted away from.  There are various reasons I could attribute it to: geography, differing interests, some are exes and that can get awkward, unresolved fights, trust issues, growing apart.  But really, it boils down to the fact that we’re not doing.  The friends I’ve drifted away from, when looked at it one on one between each friend and I…neither of us are actively being a friend.  Facebook likes don’t count as much as I thought they did.  Hell, Facebook comments don’t count as much as I thought they did.  They’re all just little offshoots of a bigger part of trying.  Actual contact.  Directly writing to, talking to, spending time with another person.  I’m going to try and change what I can and see if any of those friendships can be salvaged. Because these people I’ve lost touch with…they’ve connected many dots in my life.  We’ve shared incredible things that I still remember and cherish the memories of.  And perhaps all I’ll have left of those friendships is the memories, but I won’t know if new experiences and memories can be had if I don’t try.

In her amazing keynote address given at Grub Street’s 2013 “The Muse and the Marketplace” conference (transcript and video can be found here on her blog), Amanda Palmer talks both about connecting dots and what makes someone a writer.

i asked my twitter feed last night if there were any writers out there, and, it being a friday night, there were thousands ready and waiting.

and i asked: WHAT makes you feel like an actual writer? was there a moment. answer however you want. and hundreds of responses flooded in, and i looked for themes. some people said”

“when i first got paid”
“when i first got published”
“when i got my first real review”

…but a LOT of people said:

“when somebody told me that my writing moved them. that was the moment.”

some of these people wrote blogs, some wrote books, all different styles…the format didn’t matter.

what mattered is that they’d moved another human being. nobody said they felt authenticated when they got their first negative blog comment, or bad review. (well there was one girl who said that her boyfriend insulted her for calling herself a writer because she never spent any time writing. so she quit her job and started writing. that was a happy ending, more or less….)

but mostly: we’re strengthened by those who nod at the dots that we connect.

And she sums it up nicely when she says, “if you’re putting down words to connect the dots, you’re a writer.”

So here I am trying to connect my own dots.  Trying to be a better person, writer, lover, friend.  I know the first time I wrote something where I had unsolicited, unknown to me people comment and say that I touched them with my writing, I felt amazing.  When a random audience member I’d never met before told me they were moved by my singing or dancing or acting or directing, I was on top of the world.  Not necessarily because of the praise, because a fire gets lit under me when someone criticizes me, too.  No, it’s the fact that when I created something and someone reacted, we connected.  Dots were connected, people were connected.  It was like a hug, but without the physical proximity.  It transcended miles, time, race.

Yes, there are times, like the Cracked articles says, everything inside me fights improvement.  And there are times I succumb to that vortex of sucktastic self pity.  And then there are other times, like today after reading the article, I went upstairs, did some dishes, threw in a load of laundry, ate a good meal, and then came back down here and started writing.