Giveaway, LGBT, Literary Others Event

Giveaway from JMill Wanders! #TheLiteraryOthers

Hi all! Jenna here. I blog over at JMill Wanders. I hope everyone has been enjoying The Literary Others Reading Event. I’m excited to be hosting the final giveaway for what I consider to be an essential event.

 The Prize
I am giving away one Literary Others book of choice to a randomly selected winner. The book can cost up to $20, and the giveaway is international. The book will be ordered from either Amazon or The Book Depository, so please verify prices on one/both of those sites.

How to Sign Up

It’s simple! Just leave a comment on this post. Please include your favorite Literary Others read, the book you’d like to win, and your email address so I can contact you if you win. You can earn up to two (options) bonus entries for following me on Twitter and Instagram. Let me know in the comment if you’ve done this.

The giveaway will end on Monday, October 31st at 11:59 PM Central Time.

 Best of luck to everyone! Enjoy the rest of the reading event.

Giveaway, Giveaways, guest post, Literary Others Event

My Characters Knew Who They Were #TheLiteraryOthers

My characters knew who they were before I did.

by Robert Hill for Roof Beam Reader

remnants-front-cover-web-sizedWhen I started to write my novel, The Remnants, I had only the vaguest idea about whom the people in it would truly be. All I knew was that I wanted to write a story that would capture life among the last members of a small, isolated town, a group of very senior citizens at the end of the town’s days and at the end of their own. Yet, while fleshing out their individual and collective pasts, traits began to emerge as randomly and organically as if my fictional creations were born of the womb. Eccentricities and genetic oddities made their way onto the page and marked every family line. Dark deeds found their way into every family’s home. Humor arose from the most unlikely moments. But what surprised me the most, were the relationships that took shape without my planning for them.

In creating backstories for the three protagonists (two men, one woman, all of whom are in their 90’s) and other townsfolk as well whose stories are woven throughout, I found myself dredging up a rite of passage from my own youth that suited the small town story well – the rite of passage known as the circle jerk – and used it to exemplify a kind of freedom of exploration that growing up in a small town sometimes makes possible (more often than not, in fiction only).

I’m a gay man and I’m a writer, but I don’t self-identify as a gay writer. Yet, as I delved into the childhoods of the two main male characters, and had each of them furiously gripping themselves during this “innocent” rite, over and over and over and over and over and over again, the two boys loosened my grip on their creation and decided for themselves that their youthful curiosity about each other was more than a curiosity.

Fictional characters, like real people, are born. And like people as real as Cole Porter, or Michael Sam, or too-numerous-to-count Republican Congressmen, or myself, fictional characters are sometimes born gay. I love my characters for having had the (fictional) balls to tell me who they were and make me honor them.

At the core of the novel is the evolutionary desire to find love, and although I may have been coy at first about writing a relationship arc between two men, my characters would not let me cheat them out of their truth. Nor, for that matter, would other characters in the novel whose relationships also took unanticipated turns – some of them surprising, others disturbing, and one downright weird. (But who am I to judge?) All were born from the womb of my imagination, and I love and respect them all equally for their defiance against all odds and conventions to find love in a doomed world. I hope readers find these characters as surprising as I did.


Robert has generously offered one paperback copy of his book, THE REMNANTS, to a lucky winner! Please comment on this post with your email address if you’d like to be entered to win! Good luck!

Giveaway, guest post, Literary Others Event

Brothers by Ted van Lieshout #TheLiteraryOthers

Please welcome Carola from Brilliant Years who is here to provide a guest review of BROTHERS by Ted Van Lieshout. This is a book I read many years ago, and I agree with Carola that it is definitely worth reading.

Carola has also generously offered to provide one giveaway copy to a lucky participant of THE LITERARY OTHERS event! Read to the end for details. 


Half a year after Luke’s brother Marius passed away, their mother intends to burn all Marius’ possessions on his first birthday after his death as a grand goodbye. In an attempt to save Marius’ diary, Luke starts writing in it to make it as much his own as it was his brother’s. At first Luke simply writes on the empty pages and avoids reading Marius’ entries, but eventually he gives in and reads his brother’s words.

This book is quite special to me. I’d like to put this book in the spotlight because it’s a gorgeous young adult book, and because it’s from my home country: The Netherlands. It has been translated to multiple languages, including English, and received a Dutch award and even a German youth literature award. It’s  a fairly popular book for high school reading lists in the Netherlands, which is fantastic.

The story is written from Luke’s point of view in the form of diary entries. In an attempt to save Marius’ diary from being burned by his mother, Luke starts writing in it. At first he only writes in the diary without peaking at his brother’s entries. He writes about himself and his family. He wonders, among other things, if he is still a brother when his only brother is death. When his mother threatens to tear out Luke’s pages and burn the diary after all, Luke is forced to start using Marius’ pages as well and to write between his lines. This is how the dialogue with (or rather monologue to) his brother begins. Not only do we find out more about what happened to his brother, but the diary also helps Luke come to terms with his sexuality. Luke’s words are down to earth, often witty, sometimes heartbreaking. The diary format is incredibly intimate and it works perfectly for this story.

Brothers is a fairly short book at just 160 pages, but even so the author manages to make the reader care deeply about his characters. I finished the book in no time, not just because it’s so short but also because I simply couldn’t put it down. Brothers is a story about family, loss, and sexuality. The book touches sensitive topics, but is written in an almost light-hearted way.

I can’t stop recommending this book!


One lucky winner will receive a copy of BROTHERS.

  • The giveaway is open to anyone living in an area where The Book Depository ships.
  • Please leave a comment on this post indicating that you would like to win and give your recommendation for a book you think everyone should read.
  • Please leave your email so we can contact the winner!
  • Giveaway will close October 31st at 11:59PM CT
Giveaway, Literary Others Event

Giveaway from Ex Libris Kate! #TheLiteraryOthers

Please welcome Kate from Ex Libris, who is here to offer a special giveaway to participants of THE LITERARY OTHERS reading event!

 The Prize
Choose one of the following:

George by Alex Gino

None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

I’ll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

How to Sign Up

Please leave a comment on this post. Include your favorite LGBT book (from this event or not), the book you’d like to win, and your email address so I can contact you if you win.

The giveaway will end on Monday, October 31st at 11:59 PM Central Time.

 Best of luck to everyone! Happy reading!

Giveaway, guest post, Kathe Koja, Literary Others Event

Acting Like Yourself #TheLiteraryOthers

Today, I am honored to welcome back to the blog, Kathe Koja!

Kathe is one of my favorite writers (who happens to have written one of my favorite books). If this is your first introduction to her, you’re in for a treat! Please enjoy this brilliant piece, and be sure to read through to the end for a special treat! 

Acting Like Yourself: Christopher Marlowe, Talk and the mecs

Kathe Koja

We are who we are: that’s determined by genes, by sexuality, by the attributes and traits that combine to make personality; the self is a given from day one.

But how we self-define and then choose to reveal and present ourselves to the world—how we act—that’s mutable, and responsive to circumstance. Enacting the truth of the self is a lifelong gift and task; and easier for some of us than for others, especially if our earliest days were shaped by the pressure to conform, or by fear that made it seem safest to hide who we really are.

As a writer, I work hard to understand my characters—I need to know who they truly are before I can make them real in a novel. And in some of my novels, it’s theatre and the stage, the enactment of roles, that have helped to reveal or highlight those characters’ deepest selves.

talk_pbTalk pivots on a high school performance of a controversial play. Kit Webster has been hiding who he is, unsure how to tell his friends, his parents, his world, that he’s gay, and it’s the action of performance, playing the male lead in the play called “Talk,” that opens him up, from silence to talk, from a fairy tale crush into real first love: “What would he do if he knew? about me, about how I feel for him? What would I do, set free with something bigger than relief—release, into that room where everything is, everything I want?” Losing himself in the role is Kit’s way of finding himself for good, in every sense.

In the Under the Poppy trilogy, the stage is everywhere, on the open road, in a grubby brothel or a Victorian townhouse, and everyone is acting, piling role upon role, sometimes using the mecs, puppets, to perform in outrageous or confrontational ways. But it’s the novels’ heroes, Istvan and Rupert, whose lifelong love is fed, tested, and ultimately enriched by the performance they enact together on the stage of the world, in their comradeship, feints, and deceptions. And both come to know that it is “foolish to call the play at all, for comic or tragic, while the curtain are still parted; always there may be a twist to the story, a coup de maître, a masterstroke.”

Book cover illustration

Book cover illustration

And writing a novel (Christopher Wild) about the trailblazing Elizabethan writer Christopher Marlowe has led me deeply into Marlowe’s dark impassioned view of human nature, its greeds and furies and love of power. His worldview was informed by what he learned as an operative for the Queen’s spy network, itself another kind of performance, with human lives and nations at stake. And Marlowe brought a forthright gay sensibility to his poetry and plays, perhaps most movingly in Edward II, where the king is asked point blank about his lover, Piers Gaveston, “Why should you love him whom the world hates so?” and replies as directly “Because he loves me more than all the world.” Marlowe was as honest about his own beliefs and desires in an era when the wrong words could mean imprisonment and torture, especially for a man who lived so vividly in the public eye.

The stage seems a place of pretense, but sometimes it’s where the literary others find themselves most truly at home, in the words they write or speak, in the masks that show their own true faces to the world. We all are exactly and forever who we are: let none of us ever be unwilling or afraid to act the part.


Kathe has generously offered one autographed copy of her brilliant and beautiful novel, UNDER THE POPPY (find my review here).

To enter: please leave a comment on this post engaging with the topic. What do you think about character(s)? Performance? Have you ever felt you were “acting a part” in life? Do be sure to leave your email so that I can contact the winner.

Giveaway open until October 31st at 11:59PM CT. 

Giveaway, guest post, Literary Others Event

Book Covers in LGBT Fiction #TheLiteraryOthers

Please welcome author Adan Ramie, who is here today with a brilliant and fascinating discussion about book covers in LGBT fiction! Please enjoy, and read through to the end for a special giveaway! 

Book Covers in LGBT Fiction

By Adan Ramie

Think about the last book you read. You can probably picture the cover in your mind, especially if you particularly liked (or disliked) the book. When you browse a bookstore or online retailer, the first thing you see is the cover. Sometimes it draws you in. Other times, it pushes you away. The importance of a quality cover cannot be overstated – even in a niche market like LGBT books. (Or LGBTQ, LGBTQA, QUILTBAG, SAGA, or any other acronym you prefer.)

Like the content, the covers of LGBT books over the years have varied tremendously as cultural shifts have left us hiding in the dark or basking in the sunlight outside of the closet. They went from abstract in the early 20th century to in-your-face by the ‘60s and ‘70s, and these days they still touch both extremes. Some are gorgeous. Others… well, others miss the mark quite badly, and make us wonder how anyone can get past them to the story inside.

A 2013 Flavorwire list, “50 Essential Works of LGBT Fiction,” includes “some essential works that can provide entertainment, introspection, and comfort to those who identify as queer or straight.” I’ve picked a few gay titles, some lesbian ones, one bisexual (sorry, guys), and a few trans books from that article to illustrate the many different iterations of book covers the LGBT niche has seen in the past century.


But do these books really show what the covers of LGBT books selling now actually look like, or are they simply cherry-picked anomalies? For the answer, I turned to the almighty monster that is Amazon, and was a little bit unimpressed with the initial results when I clicked on the Top 100 LGBT eBooks. So I checked out the Top 100 Free for comparison, and found myself with the same issue.


Most of the top LGBT fiction is romance. Not that there is anything wrong with romance; I’ve written a couple of romance novels myself, and read more than a few. And a lot of it seems to be M/M, M/M/F, or strictly erotica.

To be honest, I found the shortage of non-romance, non-erotica literature disheartening, because it seems like Amazon might think readers of LGBT fiction are only in it for the sex scenes.

If you look at the image above, you can see a pretty clear pattern: bare bodies, some of them in compromising positions with others in a similar state of undress, others set against a fully dressed body in an effort to bring to mind the duality of the characters involved. It’s true that sex sells, but I wondered if this pattern would continue as I went deeper into the categories. Were most of us really just in it for the sex scenes?

In the interest of not having to dig pages into the lists, all of the books discussed here on out are in the romance subgenre of the LGBT category. And, for simplicity, I’ll being going through the books in the order of the acronym I’m using. (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, then Trans. Sorry, Asexual, aromantic, and other folks. I didn’t intentionally exclude you!)

It was with trepidation that I looked at the top 100 lesbian romance books. Would it be all bare breasts and butt shots, or were lesfic readers a little less shallow?


I was pleased to find that only a few in the top 20 were even vaguely erotic. Most were action shots of women doing what they do in real life: work, play, and dream. A few didn’t feature people at all, which was even more surprising. There are more good covers than bad ones here, thankfully.

My next step was to go to gay romance. I was a little worried based on all the racy covers in the main LGBT category, but I forged ahead, determined to find the answers I was looking for.


There are lots of bare chests, true, but also a number of female faces and bodies that took me by surprise. It seems M/M/F pairings and even lesbian books get lumped into the “gay” umbrella on Amazon. But here, too, there are more good covers than bad.

Next in the acronym are those bisexual folks that get such a bad rap. Some people (wrongly) think bisexuality is an excuse for promiscuity, and I wondered if the fiction in the category would reflect that attitude.


Here again the lines blurred. Despite the fact that not all (and, in fact, probably not that many) bisexual people are polyamorous or into threesomes, it seems like stories with three or more partners and a lot of erotic content are firmly rooted in this category. Many of these books were also in gay or lesbian fiction, so, again, there are some good and some bad.

Last but not least are the transgender community. With all the attention the trans community has been getting lately through the visibility of people like Laverne Cox and Jazz Jennings, I wondered if there had been a shift from strictly fetishistic stories to more reality-based ones about trans characters.


Here, too, were the threesome stories and the erotica. Transgender characters are still being treated like objects strictly for sexual pleasure, not as people, which is problematic for transgender people in the real world.

The fact that some of these stories may actually be less sex and more substance gives me hope, though, that the future will be brighter. Not just for LGBT characters, but for all people. For now, the trends are still a bit on the iffy side.

Based on these covers, bare-chested men, people of all genders and sexualities in compromising positions, and the reliance on sex to carry the story are all tropes we need to get past in LGBT fiction, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s where I’m heading with my fiction, and I hope other authors will follow suit. Whether readers of LGBT fiction will follow… well, that’s a discussion for a different day.


Adan Ramie is a Texas native who lives in a small town with her wife and children. When not writing, she binge-watches old TV shows on Netflix or works on her gargantuan TBR list. She’s the author of several standalone books, book series, and short stories. Find her online at


Adan has generously offered to giveaway 5 e-book copies and 1 print copy of her new romance novel, RESCUED. That’s 6 winners! To enter, please just leave a comment on this post with your thoughts about the topic — have you noticed anything about the covers of books in the genre you usually read? Please be sure to leave an email address where you can be reached if you win! Good luck!

Giveaway will close on October 25th at 11:59PM CT.

Events, Giveaway, GLBT, guest post, LGBT, Literary Others Event, Young Adult

A Librarian Recommends #TheLiteraryOthers

Please welcome Laura Ashlee Graves from That Librarian Lady, who has provided a wonderful list of LGBT YA books that she recommends, as well as a giveaway following the post! Thank you, Ashlee! (I just added a bunch of books to my TBR Pile!)

When I began my first year at my school library, I immediately noticed that there was a huge lack of GLBT representation. I think the previous librarian was hesitant to purchase books with queer characters because my school is in a pretty conservative community. That may seem funny since I live in Alabama, but I grew up pretty progressive in the South and I’ve been lucky enough to live in areas of the state that are more inclusive and culturally diverse. I also noticed quickly that I had quite a few queer students growing up in this conservative community. Now, I would have made it a point to purchase more books with queer characters anyway because I truly believe that diverse collections can help students develop empathy.

Still, knowing I had students who needed these books in their lives made it a really important task. I haven’t read every book in my library (because I’m not a superhero). I also haven’t read every book with queer characters that I’ve bought. Like most librarians, I rely on reviews and recommendations for the bulk of my book buying. I do have several books in my library that I constantly recommend, though. I thought I would share them.

When I originally made my list, there were twenty-six books on it. I’ve managed to choose my favorite twelve from that list. These are books I’ve read and recommend and they’re all pretty recent releases. These are also young adult books, since I purchase A LOT of young adult for my library. I love it when I see students get excited over these books. I buy them because I know my kids need them in their lives and I want them to have easy access to them.

12000020-1-copyAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle, or Ari, is angsty and confused. He’s angry that his parents won’t talk to him about his brother, who’s in prison. He’s also a loner, never feeling like he quite fits in with other boys. Dante is a brilliant boy who tries to look on the brighter side of life. The two seem to have nothing in common, but learn a lot about themselves through their friendship. Ari struggles a lot with what it is that makes him feel different and being friends with Dante helps him with that. Dante is also figuring it out but he is unapologetic about who he is. They’re also figuring out where they fit in as Mexican Americans and that added another layer to the story that I really appreciated. I loved their friendship. It’s not a perfect book, in my opinion, but I think it’s worthy of the praise it’s gotten.

13069935-copyAsk the Passengers by A.S. King

Astrid feels like she has no one to she can talk to. Her mother is overbearing, her father is disinterested, and her little town is too conservative to understand her. She’s been having a secret relationship with her female coworker and the only people she’s telling are the people in the planes that fly over her back yard. This novel is about self-discovery and challenging the boxes society puts us in. This book affected me on a very deep level when I first read it and it remains one of my favorites. It’s the book that turned A.S. King into one of my favorite authors.

13414183-copyBetter Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Nate Foster wants nothing more than to star in a Broadway show, but he feels held back by his small New Jersey town and his disapproving parents. When a casting call goes out for a musical version of E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Nate knows he has to get to New York and audition for the part of Elliot. This book is a little more fun than the previous two. It’s laugh-out-loud funny but still has its serious moments. While Nate’s runaway trip to New York is fun and hilarious, he’s also dealing with his own self-discovery. It’s meant for younger reads (around middle school age), but it’s still a fun read for older readers. To get the full story, you’ll also have to pick up it’s sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate.

17237214Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
This novel centers on two teenage boys who attempt to kiss for 32 hours to set a new Guinness World Record. Their kiss is partly a political statement they’re inspired to perform after their friend, Tariq, is jumped one night. It’s not only about Harry and Craig’s kiss, though. The story also follows several other boys. Peter and Neil have been together for a year, even though Neil’s family never talks about it. Avery and Ryan only met the night before at a gay prom, but immediately hit it off. Cooper feels completely and utterly alone. No one knows that he’s gay until his father reads a chat session with another guy on his laptop. All these stories and perspectives are narrated by a generation of gay men who lived in a different time, when AIDS was a terror that seemed to pick them off one by one. This is one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful YA novels I’ve ever read. It was a favorite before I even finished. There’s a nice balance of the historical view of gay men and boys and the contemporary lives of these particular gay boys. This is a very emotional book and it will make you cry, but it’s worth it.

17261129Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Brendan has a great life. He’s popular and has a girlfriend he really loves. So, why does he feel wrong in his own body? Why does he dream of looking like a girl? When the feelings become too much, Brendan puts on some of the clothes he wishes he could wear to feel closer to being the person he wishes he were. When he’s caught by one of his best friends, his life begins to fray. Maybe the girl at the LGBT Youth Center can help him find some answers. This book takes a look at the struggle that come with being on the transgender spectrum with raw truth. Brendan’s friends can’t understand what he’s going through and offer him very little empathy. Angel is almost like a representation of what Brendan’s life could be in the future. She’s in a different place in her own life as a transgender girl and possibly on a different place in the spectrum. The novel is written in beautiful verse and it’s a pretty quick read.

18166920Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out edited by Susan Kuklin

Susan Kuklin compiles the stories of six transgender teens. Most of the book is their own words from interviews and she includes a lot of pictures of the teens throughout. I loved this book because it offers so many perspectives and experiences from real trans teens. Some of the stories these teens share are hard to read, but Kuklin puts them on the page with a “take it or leave it” attitude. I think it’s an important book for every library to own and it also may be great for anyone interested in understanding different gender identities and the experiences of trans teens.

20312458Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
Leila feels different enough due to her Persian descent. She doesn’t want people to find out she also likes girls. When Saskia moves to her school, things get complicated. Leila starts developing a crush and it seems like Saskia might return those feelings. I love this book for its simplicity. It’s a sweet book about crushes, bad relationships, and overlooking the person who’s right in front of you. I remember reading it in one sitting and closing it with a good feeling and smile on my face.


19547856Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

When a classmate finds Simon’s emails with a boy names Blue on the school computers, he decides to blackmail him for some help asking out one of Simon’s friends. Suddenly the budding romance between Simon and Blue is affecting every part of his life, including his friendships. This is another pretty simple YA book that I adore with all my heart. It’s about high school bullshit, friendship drama, and embarrassing families. I’ve read it four times and loved it every time. It’s charming, funny, and so sweet. I just want to melt into my couch from happiness every time I read it.

19542841More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Aaron has been struggling to stay happy since his father committed suicide. His mother and his girlfriend help, but it still feels like something’s missing. When a new boy names Thomas shows up in his life, he can’t help but notice the feelings he’s developing for Thomas. Adam Silvera adds a nice speculative twist to this book that can really throw the reader for a loop. It’s one of those books you can only read for the first time once. Also, if you don’t know who Adam Silvera is, what are you doing with your life? Go follow him on all your social media. Despite his sad books, he’s a hilarious human being.

24612624George by Alex Gino

George may have been born a boy, but she knows she’s really a girl. When she’s told by her teacher that she can’t play Charlotte in their classes play of Charlotte’s Web, George and her friend Kelly devise a plan to get her on stage. This book is written for an elementary audience, but you’re never too old for a fantastic children’s book. Gino did such a good job with George’s voice. I felt all of her disappointments and triumphs. It’s a beautiful, quick read. I recommend to everyone, period.


22692740Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Riley knows people don’t know what to think about them. For the most part, Riley manages to fly under the radar and let people wonder. That is, until Riley starts a Tumblr blog about their life as a gender fluid teen. The blog starts to go viral and someone at school knows it’s Riley. With Riley’s father going through a congress reelection, things are getting a little out of hand. This is a bit of a coming out novel, but it’s the first one I know of that’s about a gender fluid teen. I think Garvin did a really great job with it. He also included some awesome music. Riley’s a pretty bad ass, punk rock kid.

26156987If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

After an awful incident, Amanda moves to live with her dad in a small town in Tennessee. She makes friends and starts to find her place in her little town. When she starts falling for sweet, honest Grant, she begins to doubt herself. She wants to tell him everything about herself, but she’s afraid he won’t accept her past. Russo hits on so many issues in this book: secrets, ignorance, friendship, first love, family dynamics. She writes about all this beautifully and sometimes with heartbreaking honesty. Though Russo has spoken about how this isn’t quite the trans book she wants to write, it’s still an important book. It’s a book about a trans girl written by a trans woman with a trans model on the cover. That’s huge and it could pave the way for even more honest trans books with more intersectionality. Also, it’s a really great book.

Note: You might notice there are no books about bisexual characters in my list. The truth is that I have yet to read one I felt was good. I have certainly not read everything, so I know I’ve missed a few and I hope to get to those books soon. However, I do think there’s a big need for YA books about bisexuality.

Thanks again, Laura! These are such wonderful suggestions. I think you’re right that bisexual characters are much less common in literature, YA or otherwise! Two books that come to mind off the top of my head, for those who are interested, include Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block and Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.


Laura is generously giving away TWO ARCS to one lucky winner! The books are The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson and Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard. To enter, please leave a comment on this post saying you’d love to win. Giveaway will end October 20th at 11:59PM CT.