Girl Mans Up Earns a Kirkus Star!

Okay. So.

A few days ago, I was incredibly thrilled and giddy over the fact that Girl Mans Up was included in Barnes & Noble’s blog list 22 of Our Most Anticipated LGBTQ YA Novels of the Second Half of 2016The blog was written by Dahlia Adler, an influential voice in the queer literary world, and I was completely overjoyed to read her review of GMU.

“I have to admit to not realizing how necessary this book was until I read it, not just for featuring a solid, healthy, romantic relationship between two girls for about the longest stretch I’ve ever seen in a Girl Mans Up CoverYA novel, but as a study of gender and sexuality and how they meet and clash in ways I haven’t seen on the page before.”

It is so humbling and motivating to see your little book—a book that isn’t even out yet!—be included in such a list.

And today…another super exciting thing happened:

Kirkus Reviews has awarded GMU one of its prestigious stars. I mean…what?!

A bit of context here: Kirkus Reviews is a longstanding American book review trade publication. I hear they are regarded as an authoritative voice in the literary world, and notoriously tough on reviews. Their star is said to be awarded to about 10% of the books they review each year, which, according to their website, go to books of “exceptional merit.”

And Girl Mans Up got a star.

I can’t believe I’m typing this.

“A strong genderqueer lesbian character, imperfect, independent, and deserving of every cheer.”

I am totally stuck between “floored” and “giddy.” This is a huge validation. Its a mega motivator. It’s absolutely amazing. I’m super critical of anything I create (aren’t we all), but I worked my ass off on this book, and I’m so proud of what it grew to become. When you’re kind of lost in #AmWriting hell, getting this piece of good news is everything. It makes me think that maybe I could do this again. Maybe even better on the second try? Stay tuned, I guess! 😛

I celebrated this moment by ordering pizza. I’m not a fancy girl at all. 😉

Girl Mans Up – Advanced Reader Copies!

Last week, I received my batch of advanced reader copies of the little book I wrote—the book that’s going to be a real, published book in 6 months!

I got to pick up this paperback-looking version of my story, sandwiched between the amazing back and front cover art. My words are on actual pages. I’ve been impatiently-but-actually-patiently awaiting this moment!


The ARC and me.

It was a ridiculous experience.

I say ridiculous because at first, I opened the box and I felt like it was a regular day of receiving a hefty book order from Amazon. It was that excitement of pulling each book out, holding it, and being like “I can’t wait to read you all!” Except it was my book. My brain just couldn’t comprehend this. It was like “Wow! That cover is so nice. I can’t wait to read this!” And then I’d answer it: “You’ve already read it a million times! This is YOUR book. Look—your name!” But again, Brain would be like, “I’ll just read the first chapter. It sounds so good.” So I was like “Okay, fine. Read it and then you’ll realize what this is.”

I still felt like it was just a book I was reading—a book I might’ve read before, but that I was just as excited about reading yet another time. It felt like this thing I have a connection with, yes, but it wasn’t reflective of the actual super personal, deep connection I have with it. I couldn’t get my mind to realize what was going on. Let me be clear: it wasn’t disappointment at having hyped up this feeling. It’s this big freaking problem understanding reality.

Authors: Do you know what I’m talking about?


The ARC being read by my girlfriend.

I was staring at it, going “Dude, you wrote a book and the advanced copy of it is right here in your hands. It’s a real thing.” But it didn’t make sense. I feel like I can imagine exactly what another author would feel as they first lay eyes on one of their ARCs, but when it came to me, I couldn’t deal with this totally foreign concept.

I have a copy in my hands right now. It’s like…I know it’s a book, and I know it’s my story—it just doesn’t come together in my mind. So I keep staring at it, and reading it, and going “Is this real? Nah… Wait—is this really real?”

I have ARC angst! What an awesome problem to have. Ha!

I’m just going to keep reading my ARC, and telling myself it’s really happening.

Now I’m also wondering who else might want to read it… Do you want a copy of Girl Mans Up to read and (possibly) review? Please don’t hesitate to send me an email (or use my website contact form) and I will submit the requests to my publisher!

My Workshop for the 2016 Ontario Writers’ Conference

About the OWC

On April 30 and May 1st 2016, the Ontario Writers’ Conference (OWC) will take place at the Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Facility in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. Registration for the conference is now open, and until December 24 2015, OWC logothe early-bird rate is in effect.

I’m thrilled to be facilitating a workshop for the 2016 OWC, and I’m especially pumped for 2016’s theme of diversity.

What can you expect from the OWC? Master classes, a variety of workshops, inspiring speakers, the Festival of Authors, practice pitch sessions with literary agents, manuscript mentoring, and more! Oh and Wayson Choy, who is an amazing speaker! Plus you’ll get to hang out with a bunch of other writers, and that’s always a good time.

About my workshop:

Adding a Little Queer to Your Fiction: The Dos and Don’ts

Whether a writer is intentionally setting out to incorporate queerness to their cast of characters, or they’re telling a story that happens to feature an LGBTQ character, the whole idea of representing queer diversity might be intimidating. What are a writer’s responsibilities when it comes to representing a queer character in their fiction? What is to be avoided? And once the work is out in the world—what happens when a writer gets called out for their portrayal of a queer character? This workshop aims to prepare writers without in-depth knowledge of queer and gender studies to cast queer characters in their stories—and to feel confident about doing so.

What this workshop will cover:

  • Defining queernes
  • Queer tropes in fiction
  • Terminology—the official, the good, the ugly
  • Sex vs. Gender
  • Gendered language, political correctness, misogyny, sexism, queerphobia
  • Writing “other”—privilege, marginalization, representation
  • Main characters vs. secondary characters—plot, character arcs, overall message
  • Tips for creating a fleshed-out queer character
  • Being called out for what you wrote—backlash is almost inevitable
  • Resources

Got any questions about the workshop? Send me an email. 😉

#ShoutYourAbortion on Twitter

I was scrolling through Facebook and saw an article talking about the Twitter hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion that went viral on Twitter over the weekend. The hashtag was created in response to the decision that was made to defund Planned Parenthood. People (I don’t want to just use the word “women” here, because abortions aren’t just for women) were invited to share their stories in support of safe and legal abortions.

Since one of the characters in a YA novel I’m working on deals with abortion, I thought this hashtag would be a great place to read real people’s thoughts about their experience with abortion. So tonight I searched the hashtag on Twitter and realized the hashtag has been hijacked by…well I don’t want to start labeling these people, so I’ll just call them “anti-choicers.” Luckily some articles highlighted some of the positive tweets. I’ll share a few of Laci Green‘s here because she pretty much rocks. (You should check her out on YouTube, by the way, where she hosts MTV Braless and the amazing Sex+ video series on sexuality.)


The thing is, I get that someone might feel conflicted when it comes to being “pro-life” or “pro-choice” because the focus is on abortion, as though that was the one thing that separates the two: you’re either totally, 100% cool with abortions, or you’re not, so pick a side. I recently came across this post via @outspokenfeminist on Instagram, and I just felt that it was a perfect way of explaining what pro-choice really means. (I don’t know who the author of this quote is, so I’ll just post it exactly as it’s written on the Instagram post.)

Here’s the thing about being pro choice that people don’t get… You don’t have to morally agree with abortion to be pro choice. That’s why it’s not called pro abortion. It’s an understanding that you can’t make that choice for someone else and they have full control over that not you. It’s pro I’m not the boss of everyone else.

If you look up the definition of pro-choice, you’ll likely see a lot of definitions related to “legalizing abortions,” but really, pro-choice is the belief that a person (again, not just women, but anyone who can conceive!) has the right to make their own reproductive health decisions, not the government or religious institutions. That’s it. You might not agree with abortion for yourself, and maybe you’re not feeling quite right about a friend’s decision to have one, but you realize that everyone should have control over their own reproductive rights, and you believe that this control should remain in the hands of individuals. If you’re pro-choice, you believe access to safe and legal abortions is important and must be preserved. If you notice in Laci Green’s tweets, she refers to pro-lifers as “anti-choicers” because really, that’s exactly what they are.

I’m blogging about this because I don’t remember pro-life and pro-choice being explained to me that way when I was a teen, and even though I was always pro-choice, reading up on the recent #ShoutYourAbortion hashtag really made it clear to me what I believe in and why.

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