New Release– YA LGBTQ Novel One Big Decision!

When I started One Little Word, it was an experiment in writing and publishing something for the first time. I did not give enough thought to the title or the possibility I would base all titles off this first one, and I only had a fun idea to play with and see where it went.

Starting with the jock/nerd and fake relationship tropes, I started writing. And now nearly ten books later, the final novel in the series is here. One Big Decision is out now!

These zany, slice of life novels are contemporary gay romances that aren’t for everyone as they full of so much snark and silliness, but I’ve had a great time writing them and getting to know these characters so well, and I’m grateful for everyone who went on this journey with me, Ryan, and Luke.

In this final book, Ryan and Luke must figure out their plans for the future separately and together while enjoying the remaining days of senior year. In this scene, Ryan and Luke are buying tickets for the prom. This involves talking to one of their favorite teachers, who happens to be kinda scary but has a soft spot for them, and trying to guess the prom theme.


Ryan

From a distance, the table in the cafeteria selling prom tickets resembled a Valentine’s Day explosion made more garish by being late. Up close, the glittery red hearts made of construction paper, shiny material, and naturally, a shitload of glitter… they weren’t hearts at all, rather different shapes with a central theme, the theme being a sea of… red?

“Do you know what the theme is?” I asked Boyfriend as we took our place at the end of a small line.

“Love or something?” he guessed.

“Romantic,” I noted.

When Luke bought our tickets, he asked Mrs, Sharp, “Hey, will you be there?”

“I’m chaperoning,” she answered, tone making it clear she wouldn’t sell these tickets to teenagers otherwise.

“Because you identify with the theme of A Violent and Painful Death?” I guessed.

“No,” she said shortly.

 “You don’t identify or that’s not the theme?” I clarified.

“Both?” she tried.

“What is the theme?”

She glanced to the decorations surrounding the table. “Red?”

“Ohhh, the theme is Blood,” I realized. “I understand now. You’re what causes the blood.”

“That’s not accurate… I think. At any rate,” she continued. “The principal suggested I ought to experience one senior prom as an educator here before leaving.”

“You could say no,” I pointed out. “What’s he gonna do, fire you?” This was her last year teaching at this school before she went to greener or at least bigger and gayer pastures.

“Actually, it sounded like a good idea.” She frowned while watching me do a happy jig about having prom tickets. “Though I could be wrong.”


That Feeling When Review

For my review of That Feeling When, my immediate instinct is to fill in the rest. What comes after that feeling when… the feeling when you’re what? There’s a specific thing S.M. James has in mind, and while I don’t think telling you what that is would be especially spoiler-y, it feels like a jerky thing to do.

Until I saw that it’s literally in the blurb describing the book. As it says, ‘how do you go back to your average life once you’ve experienced That Feeling When … you’re finally happy?’ That feeling when you’re finally happy. There, it’s complete, I feel so much better.

Okay, without further ado, reviewing!

Quick Summary: Archie doesn’t want to be at a fancy summer camp for rich people, but he agreed to go if he didn’t get into the dance school he applied to. Famous actor Landon happens to be shooting a movie at the same place. Neither of them are looking for love, yet are drawn to each other.

Tropes and main elements: famous actor, blackmail, ballet, sexuality crisis, sweet romance, friends to lovers, developing relationship

Overall impression: This sweet novel is perfect for when you wanna escape into a love story. The book really captures all the feelings of falling head over heels and makes every moment Landon and Archie spend together feel special and intense, whether they’re rock-climbing, breaking an entering, or scuba diving.

from novel

2021-03-26 (2)

 

meetings

 Archie is the son of a media mogul who dishes dirt on celebrities. He’s trying to make it through the summer and doesn’t know what to do with his life if he’s not a dancer. His initial opinion on his sexuality seems to be, ‘god, not all male dancers are gay.’ Which, you know, is true, though this also doesn’t mean he’s straight. Growing up with money and the finer things in life, he’s not easily impressed with social status or people who throw around their social status. So when he stumbles upon a film shoot in progress, and Hollywood heartthrob Landon immediately bitches at him, he hates Landon on sight.

While Landon had an off day, he’s not who Archie assumes. By which I mean he’s a total sweetheart. I adore Landon, he’s everything good and perfect in the world. Seriously. Landon’s a sincere bi softie who loves his mother and is very cute when crushing on someone.

Despite his fame, Landon grew up with nothing, and to me is overall more relatable than Archie. Australian Landon is homesick, not used to being a star, and not totally on board with some of the changes he’s made to be a successful actor, like downplaying his aboriginal heritage and keeping his bisexuality secret. He doesn’t love acting so much as his hefty salary that helps provide for his large family back home.

Despite getting off on the wrong foot, this doesn’t feel like a story where the main characters start as enemies. Archie’s first impression, while understandable, is just so different than the reality. Landon’s subsequent apology and wholehearted efforts to make friends quickly make this clear, so Archie spends their initial encounters more confused about how to feel than anything else.

romance

Can a relationship fit as a slow burn and insta-love at the same time? If possible, this book completely qualifies. Despite a tense start, their interest in each other is immediate and feels inevitable, though it takes a while for them to get to know each other and for everything to come together. I enjoyed the pace of their developing relationship. And since they’re already low key crushing, every new morsel of info learned becomes thrilling and every interaction causes them to fall a little deeper. It’s easy to get swept away in the romance with them.

While other stuff is going on, this book primarily focuses on the romance. So if you’re digging the romance, you’re good to go. If you’re more interested in the blackmail elements, or their personal character development, or anything else other than the romance, maybe skip this one or you probably won’t feel satisfied when you’re done with the book.

plot

Both guys are facing some tough decisions, such as figuring out where their lives are headed. Plus, Archie has an impending sexuality crisis and there’s a blackmailer watching them and making demands. These issues come up now and then, though all feel secondary and take a backseat to the romance.

For example, Archie’s dad airs celebrity dirty laundry, and Landon’s a closeted celebrity. Hello, inherent drama! Yet there’s not as much as you might expect. By the time families arrive for the end of camp, it’s kinda hard to stop the relationship train or even slow it down. 

While I don’t think there’s a problem telling a love story this way, the characters and their personal stories interested me enough that I’d have been happy with fleshing out the other plots more and diving deeper into character development.

On the blackmail front, I will give credit where due. I made a guess about the blackmailer fairly early and stuck to my guns about it. I ended up being wrong, so congrats, book! You surprised me.

 

more

This paragraph has some general spoilers for the end.  The only thing that bugged me a bit was Archie’s attitude to his family. Despite his poor opinion of them, they seemed very loving and supportive. They took his coming out extremely well, though he seemed sorta underwhelmed about this. If he’d used the opportunity to get closer to them or there was more acknowledgement he’d gotten them wrong, it’d be fine. His dad was set up as a villain so much that it would have been a fun subversion of expectations, except Archie’s attitude read to me as, ‘well, that’s nice. Anyway, what’s Landon up to?’

Maybe I’m unfair for wishing he were a little more grateful. Should everyone accept LGBTQ+ sexualities without batting an eye or getting any credit for it? Yeah. Are we there yet? I don’t think so.

If I gave star ratings, I’d say four stars for this one. While not in love with the novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way through.

 

Quote from Black Cats and Bad Luck

Life in feline form meant a swishing tail, hunter’s instincts, ears that point, and a voice that mewls. Along with the parts that were More. He knew things. He sensed when Stella needed his assistance to power a spell, when the moon would be full, when the day required a protection charm and when it only needed an umbrella.

-Horatio, Black Cats and Bad Luck

Meet Mason Lewis

Mason Lewis is one of the main characters in Black Cats and Bad Luck. While magic exists in his world, it’s not really part of his life growing up. Except for one thing. He’s been dreaming of his true love for as long as he can remember. The same visitor keeps appearing when he sleeps, a boy with black hair and green eyes. He grows up along with Mason. His name is Horatio.

Mason is eager to meet Horatio, though he tells himself the waiting makes the whole thing sweeter. It will all be worth it one day. Even if the guy is nowhere to be found and Horatio isn’t the most common name. He’s lucky. Not everyone gets this. The surety, the knowledge that their other half is out there somewhere, a comfort telling them to hold on because he’s not here yet but he’s coming. One day. He’ll hold the dreams close to his heart until he can hold the guy in his arms.

When the novel starts, the years have passed and things have changed. Mason is a 23-year-old who stopped waiting for Horatio. The death of his father put things in perspective and made him realize that the life he lives with his eyes open is most important.

The excerpt below comes from a scene where Mason is talking to his best friend Miranda about his strange dreams. They’ve become more frequent, which he doesn’t like.

I leveled with Miranda. “Look at us now. You’re about to be a High Priestess. I’ve got a great job lined up and a serious girlfriend. We’re downright stable and well-adjusted. When we first met, did you ever think we would get here? If past-you could see you now, what would you think?”

“Impossible,” she answered quietly. “I’d call this impossible.”

Miranda and I met in the Dead Parents Club. That was what we called our old support group. I lost my dad while both her parents were gone. If the ‘dead parents’ nickname sounded dark, the reality was even worse. As sullen, maladjusted teens, we sat on folding chairs in a church basement, scowling at everything and sobbing at the unfairness of the world in turns, trying to make sense of grief.

For a long time, I wanted to hurt. Screw moving on and healthy coping and whatever else the counselor talked about. Then I just wanted to breathe easier without every inhale feeling so labored, a near impossibility dragged from my lungs.

Somehow, I did get past the grief. I was doing better than I ever would have imagined. So maybe Horatio and I shared some impossible connection, but what I accomplished in the waking world seemed impossible too. My dad had been gone for close to a decade, which was a long time in some regards. And also not very long. I never thought I’d be able to pick up the pieces by this time.

“I need this, Miranda,” I said. “Because there’s always this thing, if not holding me back then holding me in place. I’m ready to go on. I need to go on.”

There was this moment not too long ago. My apprenticeship was wrapping up and there were two potential jobs waiting for me. The first one was a side project Miranda and I started on a whim a few years ago and could turn into a full-time business. The other was a position with an established home building company. The latter meant moving away, but a fresh start wouldn’t be so bad, and I was getting serious with Rachel. The future never looked better. Maybe I have things under control, I thought. I’m really going to be alright. That was when the dreams started again.

At the heart of every dream, the problem was the same. I desperately desired someone who didn’t exist, someone I never really met. The dreams had too much power over me. It felt like they could destroy everything I worked so hard for.

~

For my new novel and series, I put together some posts that are an introduction to the world and characters of Black Cats and Bad Luck. This paranormal romance is available for free. It’s a new adult gay romance about magic, familiars, dreams, and monsters.

YA authors are recommending other YA books in this BuzzFeed list of The Best YA Books To Gift This Holiday Season, According To YA Authors. Some of the queer books mentioned are The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake, Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins, The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta, and You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson.

Cemetery Boys and other queer indie books

Here is a super easy trivia question. Do you know the first trans book written by a trans author to make the NYT bestseller list in fiction? Yes, it’s Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. There’s an article about it here, which includes some context and facts and some celebrating.

Since I am Latina and queer, I probably appreciate those aspects of the book the most. An honorable mention however, goes to the description ‘ghost-story-turned-gay-rom-com.’ If every ghost story turned into a gay rom-com, I would be able to watch and read ghost stories without recoiling in terror.

Cemetery Boys isn’t completely alone as there are multiple popular YA books featuring queer POCs. Though it’s probably very unlikely you would make it to my little corner of the world without knowing these titles, I’m going to mention them here anyway.

YA Books about LGBT+ Characters of Color

Cults and other weirdness

Do you ever get a weird song stuck in your head? If you are a human being, the answer is probably. And if the human being is me, then I have a song stuck in my head right now. I guess it’s just the subject matter that’s weird, because the song is oddly catchy. The subject is cults.

 

Speaking of weirdos, I write a series about a giant loser and his boyfriend. This is a cut part from One Little Lie where Ryan and Luke are hanging out in Ryan’s room being cute. They can’t be as on top of each other as they want to be because Ryan’s dad is home, they are teenagers, and Ryan’s father possibly owns a firearm. Okay, you are caught up.

~

Luke

“As much as I like your dad, you should probably open the door, so he doesn’t come back.”

“I don’t wanna get up.” Ryan groaned and buried his face in my chest. “Carry me.”

“Yeah, like that would work.”

Ryan was taller than me, though it was hard to tell when we were lying on the bed and he was clinging onto me like an octopus. I poked him in the side with a finger and he squirmed, so I did it again. He clung onto me tighter in retaliation, but I didn’t mind him being pressed up close to me in the first place, so I let him.

“Are you calling me fat?” he asked in a mock scandalized tone but didn’t pull away.

“I’m calling you a giant.” I wrapped my arms around him instead of pushing him away like I was supposed to. This wasn’t cuddling or something girly like that. It was just… a lying down hug. Okay, that didn’t sound any better.

He pulled his head back enough to glare. “You’re ruining the mood.”

“Think your dad did that,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, he’s good at that,” Ryan sighed before pulling away and getting up and opening the door.

“Too bad,” I continued. “I’m sure you were looking forward to doing that yourself.” Ryan was a smartass and could be kinda awkward, so he wasn’t the smoothest guy I’d ever dated. Well, no, he was, because he was the only guy I ever dated. Somehow, he made being weird seem attractive.

He came back and sat on the bed, hitting me in the stomach with a hand. “How dare you,” he protested. “I am romantic and sexy and errrrrotic.” He dragged the ‘r’ sound out while waggling his eyebrows at me.

Okay, sometimes he made being weird attractive and sometimes he was just weird. But still, it was cute coming from him. Even if I didn’t tell him that. “See that right there?” I asked smugly. “Ruining the mood.”

shitt’s creek

My newest obsession is Schitt’s Creek, which has been on my Netflix watch-list literally since I got Netflix. It’s been so long that actually watching it marks the end of era as the show will never again be that thing I want to watch but have never seen. But that’s okay. It’s really freaking good.

I am now going to gush about the show a little, which I have given myself permission to do because I also found a way to relate it back to books.

Premise: Schitt’s Creek is one of those riches to rags stories about a wealthy  family who loses everything and has to start over. Which feels like a trope even though the only other show I can think of like it with a similar premise is Arrested Development.

Schitt’s Creek is the name of the town the Rose family starts over in, and Schitt is the name of the town’s founders, and their descendants still live in the town. It’s also ‘shit’ with an extra ‘t’, duh, but that apparently makes it appropriate enough to display with no censorship at all, which I think is really cool.

Why it’s awesome: Everything everyone says is hilarious, or the way they say it is what makes it fantastic, and I adore stories about terrible, selfish people learning to be a little less self-centered, preferably while still being endearingly terrible.

Also, duh, there’s queer characters! Awesome queer characters too. Even though it took me forever to start watching, usually the quickest way I start a book or show is: Do I have a mild interest? Are there gay people? If the answer to both is yes, I’m totally there.

My darlings:

Alexis, the adventurous free spirit. She also has hella style game, and she’s gorgeous. I would love to say I’m more like her, but I’m not.

David is who I uncomfortably identify with. He’s a worried over-thinker who is moody and obnoxious with an acerbic wit that is usually not appreciated. P.S. yay for pansexuality. In terms of growth and personal story, I prefer Alexis’ arc better. But David has the best romance.

Books!

Okay, now after being a loser about a TV show I love, here is a quote from One Little Word about being chill and not a weirdo.

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New YA Books

What’s new in YA right now and what’s on the horizon?

I have no idea!

Everything is just so much, all the time, you know? Maybe not, because what I said doesn’t make a ton of sense, but I can’t keep up with new releases. So it’s good there’s other people out there to do that for me.

I found this list of YA fiction being released in July-September. These are all sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. The full list is here, but I figured I would just mention the queer ones. Because Hella Gay YA and all that.

The Infinite Noise: A Bright Sessions Novel  by Lauren Shippen

Description: Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.

Release: Sept. 24

The only podcasts I’ve ever listened to are fictional ones about gay characters and true crime, and I’m sure there’s other types that are really good… but yeah, I’m only interested in podcasts if there’s true crime or queer characters and hopefully less crime.

Basically, it’s really cool that The Bright Sessions podcast is a book now.

 Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Description: There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question–How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Release: Sept. 10

Jam is trans and selectively nonverbal, and this book sounds interesting and too scary for me. I have begun to very, VERY slowly enjoy a little bit of horror, mostly by accident. Otherwise I am a big coward and there’s no shame in that because I said so.

Red Skies Falling (The Skybound Saga) by Alex London

Description: Kylee is ensconsed in the Sky Castle, training with Mem Uku to master the Hollow Tongue and the Ghost Eagle. But political intrigue abounds and court drama seems to seep through the castle’s stones like blood from a broken feather. Meanwhile, Brysen is still in the Six Villages, preparing for an attack by the Kartami. The Villages have become Uztar’s first line of defense, and refugees are flooding in from the plains. But their arrival lays bare the villagers’ darkest instincts. As Brysen navigates the growing turmoil, he must also grapple with a newfound gift, a burgeoning crush on a mysterious boy, and a shocking betrayal.

Release: Sept. 3

Game of Thrones but gayer. And YA.

Is Game of Thrones already gay? I’m gonna get around to watching that eventually. I’m guessing there’s less gay people dying in horrific ways in this novel. Again, I don’t watch GoT, but it always seems like somebody is dying in horrific ways.

Of Ice and Shadows (Of Fire and Stars) by Audrey Coulthrust

Description: Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.

As rising tensions and unexpected betrayals put Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerge on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?

Release: August 13

This is the book where, whenever I see the first one on the list of top 100 queer YA novels, I’m like that looks cool, I should read that. And then I remember my KU is filled with M/M teen romances because those are the ones I write and occasionally blog about, but I  read real slow, so I don’t read this yet.

True story. I’m sure all of this really helped you with your reading selections. I still want to read the first one, then this second one, because I have to go in order and because fantasy novel about princesses in love.

 

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre

I’m including the cover of one book that may not be queer, or isn’t as far as I can tell, but I liked the tagline. So simple but memorable. This one also might be too scary for me, but again, love the tagline.

Ranting about Representation; I’ll miss you One Day at a Time

One Day at a Time was cancelled by Netflix a million years ago and I wanted to make a post about it in a timely manner… and then I didn’t. Crazy story, right? It’s all true.  I wanted to write a post celebrating the cancelled but marvelous show and talking about how awesome it is, but when I started to do that I realized that I hadn’t even gotten to praising the show yet because I was mostly just pissy about it being cancelled. Basically? It was great and now I’m mad and sad.

Here’s some thoughts about ODAAT, Latnx representation, and queer characters on Latinx shows. And technically, this is still relevant because there is a chance that ODAAT may find a new home. Which yeah, that would be neat. (That’s me playing it cool. I really, really, REALLY want that to happen.)

Rita Moreno is Awesome

rmorenotwitter
From twitter, no idea what’s happening here, but I liked the pic.

For those who don’t know, One Day at a Time is a Netflix show about a Cuban-American family that has Rita Moreno and is hilarious.

It’s so wonderful. A sitcom that’s not forced and terrible and that’s actually funny! And it’s about a Cuban family! And if that weren’t good enough, queer characters. And if that weren’t good enough, there’s whole storylines dealing with mental illness and working to de-stigmatize needing help for these problems. And if that weren’t enough, Rita Moreno!  And if it that weren’t enough, it even got three seasons.

Sometimes the show is cheesy, sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s silly. Rita Moreno is an occasionally clueless old Cuban lady who rants about things the elderly fear and what is with kids these days, and then she gets worked into a frenzy about having Cuban pride, and then she loves on her grandson and basically I would believe they put stuff in the script like, ‘and here we’ll just let Rita be cute/funny/crazy and it will be awesome’ and it is.

The Stupidest, Greatest Joke Ever

True story, one time I watched this show called Black Sails because I thought it was about wlw mermaids, it was not, but it was really great anyway. I got interested because of the queer women and yet a straight white guy ended up being one of my faves. So, uh, yay Latinx people, but as I’m thinking of my favorite parts, both of them involve the token white guy. Oops.

This is really dumb, yet it’s by far my favorite thing to happen in the show. Yo enitendo means I understand. I don’t know if you need to know that to enjoy the joke, probably not, but there’s your impromptu Spanish lesson for the day.

My other favorite is anytime Schneider tries to do the sign of the cross.

More Hispanic People on TV, Please

rosajakepinter
Rosa and Jake from B99, one is bi and Latina and the other could be at least one of those things! Image from Pinterest

When I was a kid, I remember hearing that the Mexicans were going to take over America. Being Mexican American, that sounded just fine with me. But when it comes to media portrayals of Latinx characters… If we’re supposed to take over, where are we? How come we never appear on TV?

Let me tell you something about our representation on TV. It sucks. Latinx people continue to be so poorly represented even though as a whole things slowly seem to be shifting in the right direction with more diverse casts. There’s a few shows like Brooklyn 99 and Superstore, so I’m mentioning them because they rock.

The Only Good Sitcom About Latinx People in the History of the World

That’s barely an exaggeration, at least when it comes to U.S. shows in English.

In the past undetermined amount of time I’ve been alive, I have watched at least one episode of about every sitcom focusing on a Latinx family. Seriously, even completely terrible ones no one remembers anymore like the Rob Reiner one or George Lopez one after the longer running but terrible first show he had. I’ve been doing this at least since I was a teenager and I usually watch with my mom. We do this for two reasons: one, we want the show to succeed whether we end up liking it or not because yay, Latinx characters and two, because maybe the show will actually be good.

They almost never are. There’s just so few of them already and there’s rarely anything that makes us want to keep watching. Occasionally, something has potential like Cristela and Telenovela, which was rough but I still loved, then it gets cancelled immediately.

Remakes, the Show You Loved Now with More Hispanics!

charmed
The power of tres. Yes, I just wanted to say that. Image from the CW.

Not sure if this is good or not, but it seems like the thing to do these days is take a popular show that’s ended and redo it with a Latinx cast. Hopefully, there’s people who want to see it because they liked the first one, but then again there’s also people who liked the first one and hate that another is being made. There’s One Day at a Time, Charmed, Mayans.

 

So if you see the show you really loved when it was on is now being recreated with Mexicans, Cubans, or Puerto Ricans or something, please don’t immediately hate on it. Yes, I know, another remake, but we don’t get a ton of original content with Latinx casts, so please let us have this.

Hella Gay YA

elenatwitter
Elena Alvarez. Pic from Twitter

Hey, that’s me! Or my blog. I figure that, when having a blog, blogging is, you know, better than not blogging. So not everything is always related to my books or gay YA lit, but there is a correlation here!

 

The show has a queer young adult character in a leading role, Elena. If you are well-meaning and awkward, she’s super relatable. She likes social justice and feminism and ladies and not wearing dresses.

 

elenapin Also, I think this is a callback to the original show or something, I don’t know and it doesn’t really make a difference to me, I just love how excited she is to be a handy (wo)man.