Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Booked: Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom

This is the second of the lesbian YA books I read this week. Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin is a story told in two alternating voices. One is the titular Tessa and the other is her best friend Luke, the star pitcher for the baseball team. It starts with Luke reading the tea leave all wrong and asking his best friend Tessa to prom. The only problem is that Tessa is a lesbian.

From there, the story zips along with the kinds of negative reactions that you might find in a small Indiana town. I don't love stories, generally, that dwell on the negative and/or controversial parts of coming out. But, I did enjoy this book. It was cute, sweet, and enjoyable to read about Luke trying to fix the giant mess he makes.

It was a quick read and felt a lot like an after school special but with some genuinely funny moments. The alternating voices (each character has a full chapter and then hands it over to the other character) works well. You get to hear both characters speak in distinct voices and the story comes together well with this technique. This is another to find at the library if you want a quick read.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Booked: Keeping You a Secret

Last week, when I spent a day traveling, I grabbed a couple of lesbian YA novels from the Boston Public Library and loaded them on my wife's Nook. I'm not a huge fan of e-readers but being able to carry three books in one tiny package was nice. Anyway, one of the books was Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters. If you like angst and teen love and coming out stories this is one for you. It is heart pinching, and sweet, and sad, and was the perfect thing for a day of traveling.

The story starts with Holland Jaeger, our main character, meeting Cece Goddard who is the new girl and the only out lesbian at the school. Holland has a boyfriend, Seth, who is sort of ho-hum at best and you can guess where this goes. There are more than enough bumps in the road but both girls are likable, funny, and easy to root for.

I've talked about before finding stories that don't quite make my heart ache or recall some of the nervousness and excitement of high school, first loves, and the slowly dawning realization that "oh shit! I like this girl." I really enjoyed this quick, fun read (although the coming out process in this one is rougher than I really like in a book). It's a good one to pick up at your library.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Booked: The Price of Salt

I am a couple of books behind on my quest to read fifty books this year. Frankly, this book is partly to blame (the rest of the fault goes to my life which is nutty these days). The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith is a classic (or so I had heard). There was much of the book that felt like I was reading a classic in the way that reading a classic in high school felt like a bit of a slog.

It took a while to get into the story for me. At one point one of my kids stole the bookmark out of it and I considered just quitting. But, it was worth finishing (for its place in history and worth reading this version's author's note at the end). The book was the first of its kind. Without giving away the end it doesn't have lesbians killing themselves or any of the other tragic endings most of the lesbian fiction of the time period did (it was published in 1952). I was glad I read it, even though the first half felt slow.

I've zipped through a couple YA novels too so I will have a couple more books to chat about this week that were anything but a slog.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Hey look at that thing! It's the cover for the anthology in which my story "Dragon Slayer" will appear on April 23rd. Yesterday, I had a bit of a fit when I saw that my name and story were listed on the publisher's "Coming Soon" page.

It all feels a heck of a lot more real now. I can't wait to share my story.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Who did you have in mind?

During this Camp NaNoWriMo I have been chatting with some of my fellow crazy people writers about how they "cast" a book. So they start out thinking of actors in mind? Do they use acquaintances? It started with the simple question of "who would you cast in the movie of your book?" I didn't know.

So I got thinking and tossed around some ideas. But mostly it got me thinking about the way I make characters. I am much more apt to choose people in my life as a starting point. Girl who was mean to me in middle school? She might be the start of a jerky character. Girl I had a massive crush on? She might be the jumping off point for a romantic interest. But the characters rarely stay that way. Their personalities are usually a composite of several people and their looks often change in my head. I will give them a scar from that guy who sat next to me in geometry or the eye color of that girl who was on my study abroad trip.

The question came up this time about the story I am trying to finish this month. It was inspired by several different things including Bomb Girls, A League of Their Own, and the obituary of Jo D'Angelo (who was released from the league for having a short haircut/being a lesbian). So for this story Betty and Gladys from Bomb Girls were the jumping off place for how the players would look but they are too old to play the characters I have created (they are 18 and 19 years old). So who steps in? I came up with Troian Bellisario after Pretty Little Liars did the noir episode (she can fully pull off the 1940's look) and have been stumped for an actress who would look like a younger Betty McRae.

The actress playing opposite Bellisario in this video isn't hat I had in mind but the feel of it is almost right. Do you cast your stories? Who do you use?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ladies Turn

This video is very much like the one I wrote about a while ago (which sadly turned out to be an ad campaign) but this time the strangers kissing are just queer ladies. It's cute and so awkward. Parts of it gave me a serious case of second-hand embarrassment but mostly, it's sweet and it put a huge smile on my face.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Finally let it go

We are the parents most likely to put our kids at a disadvantage because they haven't kept up with pop culture. We realized on Friday that every kid in Kid A's class had seen Frozen (and knew all the words to this song). We decided to rectify her knowledge gap and watched Frozen this weekend (yes, we're the last people in the world with a kid who haven't seen it).

I'm one of a billion people who saw Elsa's story (and many parts of the movie overall) as an allegory for being gay. Elsa has a superpower and her parents tell her not to let anyone know. She is forced to hide it, pretend not to feel, and cut herself off from much of the world (including her little sister) in order to keep the secret. "Let if Go" certainly sounds like a coming out anthem to me. This is not the first movie/story to make the parallel (X-Men also makes a compelling case) but I have to say I am a sucker for the gayness as superpower story. (There's certainly a case for Harry Potter to fall into that category. He lives in a literal closet, his aunt and uncle tell him to hide his magical power, and refuse to acknowledge it. He only finds a family when he goes to Hogwarts.)

We have joined the hoards of parents listening to their pre-schoolers belt out "Let if Go" at all times of the day. We're not sick of it yet but I am sure we will be soon. However, I think the message of being yourself and the importance of love within a family (rather than romantic, find yourself a prince love, is refreshing).