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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Extras from The Seventh Pleiade: The Houses of the Poseidonidae

I thought I’d share these “extras” from The Seventh Pleiade that aren’t included in the recently released edition of the book.

The story takes place in a prehistoric kingdom that was founded by the legendary Poseidon. There are many clans and many characters, but for the most part that’s a backdrop to the main story, which concerns sixteen-year-old Aerander who is undergoing his Panegyris–a sacred rite of passage for boys of royal birth. Aerander uncovers a conspiracy while searching for his missing cousin Damianos, and that investigation leads to a mission to save his kingdom.

Here’s more about the backstory and the sideline characters.

The kingdom of Atlantis was founded by Poseidon and bequeathed in portions to his five sets of twin sons. Poseidon’s sacred commandments maintain their union, the foremost being: “Ten Kings for One Kingdom.”

Each son was given the right to govern his lands as he saw fit, but in matters of the kingdom, there was one vote for each son. They convened every four years as a Governor’s Council to decide upon those matters, such as pledging units to the kingdom’s military and negotiating trade agreements. Naturally, when there were competing interests, alliances and rivalries formed. But the sons were sworn to never take up arms against each other. They were sworn to Poseidon’s commandment that there would never be one King for their country.

Governorship passed down those ten ancestral lines from father to first-born son or in an alternative patriarchal fashion (e.g. first-born son to second-born son if the first-born died without producing a male heir).

Here are the ten lines or Houses, briefly characterized. The emblem illustrations are by my husband Genaro Cruz. Atlas As the first-born son of Poseidon’s first set of twins, Atlas received the kingdom’s seat of power: the island city of Atlantis. The kingdom takes its name from him as does the Atlantic Sea.

Atlas stands above all in glory among Poseidon’s sons. He fought Minotaurs and Amazons and was known to be his father’s favorite. The Atlas emblem contains Poseidon’s most sacred symbol: the trident spear.

Still, a curse haunts his House. It was said that Atlas insulted an Amazon priestess, and she called upon her goddess to doom him to never raise an heir. According to legend, Atlas’ wife Pleione gave birth to seven daughters (the ‘Pleiades’) and one son Atlas II who died before reaching manhood. The Atlas bloodline is blighted by stillbirths of male children.

Featured Characters: Aerander, Prince Regent; Pylartes, his father and House Governor; Thessala, Pylartes’ wife; Damianos, a minor relation taken in by Pylartes as an orphan; Alixa and Danae, Aerander’s younger half-sisters; Atlas’ lost daughter, the titular “Seventh Pleiade.”GadirThe twin of Atlas, Gadir was given the bread basket of the kingdom in the wintry plains of Azilia, which borders the frozen and barbarous north. The House’s alliance with his ancestral brother has always been tinged with a bit of sibling rivalry. Gadir has produced strong politicians if not the military heroes of his brother clans.

Its emblem is verdant to extol the House’s agricultural power. Its three crescent moons in silver, bronze and gold represent Gadir’s nobility.

Featured characters: Dardanos and Evandros, friends and allies of Aerander; Governor Hesperos.

AMPHISOS

Amphisos is the first clan of the seafaring twins who received dominion of The Fortunate Isles. Amphisos holds the key island outpost of Bimini, the “Gateway to the West.”

The House is known for its rugged and reliable trade galleys that ferry commodities around the world. The fighting dolphins represented in its emblem commemorate the sea-dwelling creatures that were sacred to Poseidon and a sign of good fortune to sailors.

Featured Characters: Kaleidos, a Panegyris celebrant; Deuterion, House Governor..

Eudemon

Eudemon’s House garnered fame for its naval adventurers. Its people have a proud tradition of sagas which chronicle the journeys of their sea captains who fought barbarian raiders and monsters like the Scylla.

Its red emblem represents its stouthearted, red-bearded men who command the House’s warships in the fearsome North Atlantic Sea. A starburst hails Eudemon’s supremacy on the glinting waters.

Featured characters: Lysimachos, a Panegyris celebrant; Leonitos and Kosmos, his cousins; Eulian, Lysimachos’ father and House Governor; Hecamenes, father of Leonitos and Kosmos.

MNESEUS

As Atlas was the favorite of Poseidon, Mneseus was the favorite younger brother of Atlas. Handsome and fearless, Mneseus received the continent of Lemuria where he battled an ancient kingdom of natives (Lemurians) into subjugation. The country boasts the kingdom’s prized lumber — teak and locust — as well as a thriving market for domestic slaves. The hawk is a symbol of Mneseus’ martial strength.

Featured Characters: Calyiches, Aerander’s boyhood lover and a Panegyris celebrant; Oleon, Calyiches’ younger brother; Kondrian, Calyiches’ father and House Governor.

House of Autochthonos

The emblem for House Autochthonos is the stallion tower shield, which reflects its martial tradition. They boast that their boys are taught to ride ponies in the grasslands of Tamana before they have learned to walk on their own two feet. Military discipline is their hallmark, and the House can be counted on to have strong contenders in the kingdom’s athletic games.

Featured characters: Radamanthes, a Panegyris celebrant; Ephegene, House Governor.

ELASSIPPOS

Elassipos’ stronghold is the southwestern coast of Azilia where Atlantis’ “second city” Tartessos flourishes. Like Autochthonos, they are a military clan, and the two Houses vie for bragging rights to having the most ferocious legionnaires. Their men are tall of stature with aquiline noses, and they wear their golden hair long with one ponytail knotted high on their heads. Their symbol is the ibis rearing her wings for flight.

Featured characters: Didophyles, a Panegyris celebrant; Trachmenes, House Governor.

MESTOR

When Mestor mined the arid mountains of his province in Mauritania, he discovered precious silver and gems that would make his House the richest of any of Poseidon’s legacies. His progeny built lavish palaces on the cliffs of the Middle Sea. The gentlemen and ladies of the court pride themselves on their refined, fine-woven costumes and handsome grooming. The women’s jeweled hair pins and pendants set the kingdom’s style. The rival Houses call Mestor frivolous and haughty, but its hard to finance a military campaign without the support of Mestor’s treasury.

Featured characters: Perdikkas, celebrant of the Panegyris; Basilides, his father and House Governor; Palmdyra, Perdikkas’s sister and hearthrob of the Panegyris.

AZAES

The youngest set of twins was portioned the wild continent of Lost Pangea, which had been discovered and claimed by Atlas during the Twin Emperors’ reign (during which their brothers were too young to preside at court).

Azaes built its acropolis in the farthest reaches of the Pangean backcountry and commands a mighty land army to crush its barbarian enemies. Their high-walled fortresses are equipped with parapet archer stations. The House’s favored weapon: the bolt and crossbow are represented in its emblem.

Featured characters: Mesokantes, a Panegyris celebrant; Amphigoron, his father and House Governor.

DIAPREPOS

Diaprepos was tasked with settling the southern portion of Lost Pangea. Like its twin House Azaes, Diaprepos boasts a tradition of rugged, battle-trained warriors.

The emblem also represents the clan’s rustic mysticism, specifically the sacrifice of the bull, which was instructed in Poseidon’s commandments. Diaprepos originated the ritual of bull-fighting. Its famed bull-masters risk their lives for a seat of honor at the table of their ancestral father in his heavenly realm.

Featured characters: Boros, a Panegyris celebrant; Spinther, House Governor.

 

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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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10 Books About Gay Men Written by Gay Men

This is not a top ten list. It’s something I decided to do in celebration of LGBT Pride month.

The title might sound odd. There are lots of books about gay men so why single out the ones that were written by gay men?

I did it because I believe that there is something important about being out and proud within and beyond the author arena. It’s about self-respect, standing up for the right to be who you are, and showing other people that it’s possible to live life openly and freely.

Gay authors don’t just write books about gay men, of course. But when we do write books about gay men, I also believe there is something special about that. It’s a passing down of shared life experiences. It’s a particular point-of-view or some would say sensibility.

Anyway, these are a few of my favorite books under that theme, and they are in no particular order. I acknowledge fully that I’m missing a boatload of great books

The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket by John Weir  The Burning Plain by Michael NavaLight by Nathan Burgoine Just As I Am by E. Lynn Harris Sleeping Angel by Greg Herren

We The Animals by Justin Torres

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter CameronThe Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

Hero by Perry MooreA Density of Souls by Christopher Rice

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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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Some of my favorite tweets from #OutWriters

OutWriters

It’s LGBT Pride month so you can expect things to be a little gayer than usual around here. ;)

Cleis Press, an independent queer publisher, launched the #OutWriters campaign on Twitter to “celebrate the importance of LGBT writing.” Sounded like a damn good idea to me. My publisher Bold Strokes Books has joined in, along with many LGBT/queer authors from the U.S. and beyond. It has inspired some awesome testimonials as well as a nice run of light-hearted humor and generalized frolic.

The idea is to tweet something about why you write LGBT fiction, or why it’s important to you. Here are some of my favorites so far this month.

And of course, here’s one of my own I like a lot.

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