“Why I Write” series at The Good Men Project

Author Dixie Gillaspie (Just Blow it Up: Firepower for Living an Unlimited Life) is asking writers the simple question: Why do you write? over at The Good Men Project.

The responses have been varied as you might expect coming from a diverse array of writers. They have also been very personal and candid. Christine Benvenuto chose to write about her divorce in order to reclaim her life. Christian Clifton writes for connection and self-improvement. Michael Kasdan writes to better understand the world around him.

My contribution to the project came out just this past weekend: To Create Fiction That Tells it Like it Really Is. (Well, at least according to me!).

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Photography from Bold Strokes Books’ Mixed Grill

Some photos from last night’s event at Bureau of General Services-Queer Division, courtesy of my honey Genaro.

photo

Featured books on display

Me, reading from The Seventh Pleiade

Me, reading from The Seventh Pleiade

Me, reading from The Seventh Pleiade

Full length shot of me so you can see my cool jeans

All of the authors

All the authors, from l to r, Daniel W. Kelly, Nora Olsen, Andrew J. Peters, David Swatling, Joel Dossi-Gomez, Jeremy Jordan King, Trinity Tam and Nell Stark

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Twenty books that have stayed with me

Fight Evil. Read Books.

There’s a Facebook meme going around where you get tagged by friends to list 20 books that have stuck with you over the years. I thought that subject fit equally well on my website where I sometimes talk about books and authors who have influenced me.

It’s not precisely a list of favorites. As I understand it, the point is to call up the titles that come to mind the quickest. They’re books that made the strongest impression on you in some way.

I read about 20 books each year, and I’ve been doing that for oh, about 35 years. So this task wasn’t easy. Also, my forty-something brain isn’t as sharp as it used to be. I broke the rules a bit because I didn’t want to focus entirely on books I read recently just because those are the freshest ones in my head.

In the end, I chose books that represent different periods of my life as a reader, and I focused on the ones that still recall vivid scenes, characters and/or imagery. They’re books that I feel like I know like the back of my hand, and some of them I read 30, 20 or 15 years ago.

In alphabetical order by title:

American Gods, Neil Gaiman

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

City of Night, John Rechy

Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger

The Front Runner, Patricia Nell Warren

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling

The Hotel New Hampshire, John Irving

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin

Mordred: Bastard Son, Douglas Clegg

Mysterious Skin, Scott Heim

Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs

Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger

The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco

The Persian Boy, Mary Renault

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

Saul’s Book, Paul T. Rogers

The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller

The Wicked Years series, Gregory Maguire

The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

 

Yeah, I gave three slots to J.D. Salinger. Go sue me. :)

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Save the Date: Bold Strokes Books “Mixed Grill” on September 4th

Bold Strokes Books

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been scandalously MIA, it’s because I’ve been devoting most of my writing time to the manuscript for The Seventh Pleiade follow-up, plus, well, it’s summer.

I haven’t completely boxed myself up from the world, and I’ve signed on to this event which I’m quite excited about.

On September 4th, 7:00pm at the Bureau for General Services: Queer Division, seven authors from Bold Strokes Books will be reading from their latest releases and signing copies of their books. It’s billed as a “Mixed Grill” with a wide selection of titles from gay and lesbian young adult, to gay horror, to lesbian romance and beyond.

The event is totally free, with a suggested book purchase. Here’s the Facebook page where you can RSVP.

Greg and Donnie from BGSQD always put on a great event at their funky bookstore slash event space. It’s worth dropping by just to check it out. ;-)

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A Los Angeles Photo Essay

My LA Selfie

Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, I felt inspired to take a selfie. This is on the stoop outside my cousin’s West Hollywood apartment.

La Brea Tar Pits

This was my second visit to La Brea Tar Pits. I also went to LACMA next door for the first time.

Saber Tooth Tigers at La Brea

I hadn’t noticed the saber-toothed tiger statues around La Brea before so I decided to take some shots.

More Saber Tooth Tigers

Here are some more saber-toothed tigers.

Runyon Canyon

I hiked Runyon Canyon on a very hot morning.

From the top of Runyon Canyon

This is a shot from the top of the canyon with the hazy city in the background.

Dom DeLuise at the Car Wash

I went with my cousin to a car wash on Santa Monica Blvd., and the hallway was lined with autographed photos of all the famous people who had been there.

Me in my Game of Thrones t-shirt

We went shopping on Melrose Ave., but all I bought was this Game of Thrones t-shirt.

Fred Segal

We also stopped at Fred Segal. Everything was too expensive.

Roof Top Pool at Chamberlain Hotel

On July 4th, we hung out in a bungalow by the roof top pool at the Chamberlain Hotel.

Obligatory Hollywood sign photo

Obligatory Hollywood sign photo

Getty Villa

On our last day, we went to the Getty Villa.

Lion mosaic at Getty Villa

There are big cats at the Getty Villa too.

Water lillies

And water lillies

Gladstones Chocolate Cake

Possibly best of all, four of us shared a humongous slice of chocolate cake at Gladstones in Malibu.

Game of Thrones t-shirt redux

Here’s a better shot of that fine Game of Thrones t-shirt I picked up.

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Some Tips for Finding LGBT Books for Teens

Image from GLYS-WNY's website

Image from GLYS-WNY’s website

Gay and Lesbian Youth Services of Western New York (GLYS-WNY) recently asked me to contribute to their ‘Book Corner’ at their website.

My first article: “Some Tips for Finding LGBT Books for Teens” went live just this past Sunday.

GLYS-WNY is a great organization in my hometown of Buffalo. While they have a long history of providing services and a safe haven to LGBT kids, I was much too chicken as a teen to walk through their doors. I was actually stunned to learn that they have been around since 1983, which was before I even realized I was gay.

I have worked professionally with the organization’s amazingly committed Executive Director Marvin Henchbarger for many years, and she has been very generous with spreading the word about my authorly pursuits in Buffalo. Many thanks Marvin, and I’m looking forward to bringing information about LGBT literature to the members of GLYS-WNY. We’re hoping to do an event for teens in the near future.

I’m re-running my article here with hyperlinks for your convenience. Meanwhile, if you’re inspired by what you see over at GLYS-WNY, consider making a donation to them through their PayPal account. :)

Some Tips on Finding LGBT Books for Teens
By Andrew J. Peters

Happily, there are more LGBT books for young adults being released each year than ever before. The trick is: how do you find them?

You can peruse the shelves of libraries and bookstores, and the virtual ‘shelves’ of on-line retailers. But unless the cover is emblazoned with rainbows or some obvious girl-girl or boy-boy combination, books about LGBTs are as indistinguishable as many of us LGBTs ourselves.

Another challenge is that doing a search for “transgender,” or “gay,” or “lesbian,” or “bisexual” at a big retailer like Amazon will turn up first and foremost romance novels, and many of them will be a tad risqué. Nothing wrong with those kind of books, but you’ll have to scroll through many pages if you’re trying to find something different, like a story about lesbian shifters or gay superheroes or transitioning genders in a religiously conservative family.

As an LGBT young adult author, I have some suggestions. Consider these tips as departure points for discovering LGBT books out there in the universe. They do not constitute a comprehensive guide.

Tip #1: Talk to a Young Adult Librarian

This may not be an option for everyone, if the thought of strolling up to the reference desk at your local library and uttering the word “lesbian” or “gay” makes you want to crawl under your bed and not come out for six weeks, for instance. But I have to tell you, in my experience, librarians are pretty cool and knowledgeable about diversity.

An advantage of this tip is that librarians are information-gatherers. Your questions might prompt her/him to consider the number and the breadth of the library’s collection of LGBT titles. He/she might order more of those books so that future readers will benefit.

Tip #2: Browse ‘LGBT YA’ Sites

As LGBT young adult literature has grown, many educators, authors and fans have created resources on the web. It’s really become a movement, sometimes under the abbreviated banner #YesGayYA on Twitter (YA=young adult). There are a ton of sites, and I will just highlight a few that I check out frequently.

“I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell Do I Read?”: Run by blogger and educator Lee Wind, this site profiles recent releases and has a sidebar that lists some books by interest area, including transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay and questioning.

Diversity in YA: Scaling a bit broader, DiYA is on the web and Tumblr with a mission: “to celebrate young adult books about all kinds of diversity…and to bring attention to books and authors that might fall outside the mainstream, and to bring the margin to the center.” It is moderated by young adult authors Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon, and includes some great lists like: “YA books about LGBT characters of color.”

True Colorz: True Colorz’ tagline is “your web source for all things YA in the LGBT community,” and it hosts a wide variety of new release announcements, an archive of titles that run the gamut in terms of genre, as well as “featured author” pieces to get to know the writers, as well as book giveaways.

Tip #3: Take a Look at LGBT Publishers

A quick lesson about the publishing business: the “Big Five” publishing companies (Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Harper/Collins, MacMillan, and Penguin/Random House) produce the bulk of young adult books. There was once a “Big Six” and before that a “Big Seven” and so on. Some experts predict that there will be a “Big One” in ten years or less.

That consolidation of publishers has implications for LGBT literature. As companies wanting to profit from the biggest share of the reader market, mainstream publishers produce a pittance of books for us ‘10-percenters.’ That pittance is about fifteen books each year, according to advocate Malinda Lo. There’s not a lot to choose from, especially if you’re looking for LGBT books outside of contemporary, realistic stories.

Small, LGBT-owned presses have always led the way to making LGBT books of every possible genre available to readers, and notwithstanding the impact of self-publishing, I believe that trend is not likely to change. Thus, it’s worth checking out those publisher’s websites to see their current and upcoming titles. It’s also a nice way to support our community.

Here are a few suggestions.

Bella Books: A leader in lesbian fiction, Bella Books has a list of titles specific to teens and children.

Bold Strokes Books: BSB is one of the biggest publishers of LGBT literature, and its Soliloquy line is geared to young adults.

Harmony Ink Press: A publisher of LGBT stories that feature characters who show “significant personal growth through the course of the story.”

Prizm Books: With a list of primarily female authors, Prizm is an offshoot of Torquere Press, which publishes romance books and stories.

Tip #4: Get a Recommendation from Good Reads

If you’re ready to take the plunge into reader geekdom, which I say with full respect and approval, Good Reads has a lot to offer. You can create a user profile, add books to your ‘shelves,’ connect with ‘friends,’ and ‘follow’ the reviews of readers with similar interests.

Good Reads is an interactive platform with reader-suggested lists as specific as “YA fantasy/sci fi novels with major LGBTQ characters” in which people vote on their favorite titles. You can also join interest ‘groups’ like “YA LGBT Books.” Some of those groups function like an on-line book club (‘Group Reads’), and members can suggest a book to read together and discuss.

Also, check out the ‘Book Giveaways’ section of the site. You might score free books in exchange for posting a review.

Finally, another tip: in Good Reads-speak and elsewhere in the LGBT YA community, LGBT is often called ‘QuILTBAG’ as an umbrella covering Questioning, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual and Gay.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have a specific question, feel free to e-mail me at ajpeters@andrewjpeterswrites.com.

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