Sneak Peek: Dreamers (Trans YA Novel)

A few months ago over spring break, my roommate went out of town on vacation and I found myself with the apartment to myself (and no classes to teach) for a solid week. I used this time to start work on a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a long time: Namely, a trans guy coming out and learning to live life as himself. Perhaps because this was a sort of written exorcism of my own feelings, I ended up writing the entire novel in that one week, a feat I have never before accomplished (and suspect I never will again).

Said novel, tentatively entitled Dreamers, follows a young trans guy coming out to friends and family in high school – while dealing with the fact that the ghost of his father has started appearing in his dreams. The book is still in the editing phase at present, but I thought I’d share a blurb and excerpt today, because (a) Pride Month, and (b) honestly, I’m pretty excited about this project and can’t wait until I can get it out there for people to read.

I should also mention that one of my biggest goals in writing this book was to give trans kids something to read that doesn’t focus on the inherent trauma of being trans. The main character, Leo, goes through his share of angst, but the story overall is positive and upbeat, meant to uplift rather than beat down. There’s nothing wrong with stories that explore the very real trauma that trans people often endure, but this isn’t one of those stories.

S’arright? S’arright. Now onto the book!

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What is CHOSEN and why should I care about it?

T.J., you say aloud to your screen, I’ve seen you mention this queer fantasy book series, Chosen, approximately 1,000 times per post, but what is it? What is it about? What would the characters look like if someone spent valuable writing time creating avatars of them via an online fantasy avatar creator? I MUST KNOW.

Well, my inquisitive friends, look no further. This is the post for you.


What is Chosen?

Chosen is a book series that asks the question, “What if there was a fantasy story that featured 99% female characters, most of whom are queer people of color, but it was also, like, interesting and good and stuff?” <–(official tagline)

I’m a huge fan of fantasy, but the fantasy I grew up with generally involved straight white dudes (or straight white elves, or straight white dwarves, etc.) getting to do cool stuff while the women were there either as background characters, romantic/lustful objects for the aforementioned dudes, or as the requisite Tough Female Characters who were generally overly sexualized and ended up being defeated (or romanced, or both) by the main character dudes, anyway.

Queer storylines were pretty much non-existent, and while you would often get a token brown character thrown in somewhere along the way, it was always the exception rather than the rule. And you know what’s really awesome about creating a whole new fantasy world of your very own? You can decide what’s normal, so in the fantasy world of Chosen, normal involves a pantheon of queer goddesses, an abundance of non-white folks, and a general acceptance of queer relationships, trans people, non-binary people, etc.

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In which gay teens fight monsters

I’d hoped to get some writing done today, and shockingly, I did! :O

…but not on the project I was actually hoping to work on. Ah, well. :P I’d been hoping to add to my forever-WIP and gay fantasy epic (TM), Chosen, but instead I unearthed a long-ago begun story and added a few chapters to it.

Said story is tentatively entitled Guardians, and it’s a fun little YA story about teens fighting monsters and trying to stop the end of the world, because that plot hasn’t been done before.

The story, though, is surprisingly engaging, and I can say that because I started writing it long enough ago that it no longer feels like something I wrote. :P The main character, Alisha, is a kickass seventeen-year-old with frizzy hair and a talent for fighting monsters and keeping her narcissistic younger brother out of trouble. Her mother fought monsters back when she was a teenager but now is Retired, and her dad is a researcher who likes punning, Doctor Who, and annoying his children in the most loving way possible.

I have, of course, felt obliged to put as much gay into the story as possible, so Alisha’s older sister has a girlfriend, her brother’s love interest is an awesome trans girl, and Alisha has definite chemistry with nemesis and fellow teen monster-hunter, Belladonna.

Anyway, here’s a quick excerpt from a draft of a scene when Alisha visits Belladonna’s excessively nice house in search of info about this whole ‘end of the world’ thing:

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On Chosen and queer lady vegans

Greetings, friends. Today I found myself faced with a truly monumental decision: Should I watch The Jeffersons marathon or the Supermarket Sweep marathon?

Sometimes life is hard.

In other news, I’ve been doing some work on Chosen (also knows as the LGBTQ fantasy epic I’ve been chipping away at since approximately the age of the dinosaurs), attempting to inject some more action and awesomeness into the book. It’s going pretty well so far, and I’ve also done another experimental gender-switch and transformed the main love interest, Nicholas, into a female character who is primarily attracted to women. This wasn’t something I planned, but it makes her romance with Kaine (biologically female but male by every other definition) all the more interesting and complex, and also ups the number of main female characters.

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Art!

I’m pleased to announce that the first round of Chosen artwork has arrived! And…okay, most of it is my own and thus is imbued with a certain lack of what one might call “artistic talent,” but meh, details. So, yes! ART! (Or whatever we’re calling it.) First up, we have a pencil sketch of Silas Phelps, the sweet-faced bully whose hobbies are being rich, coming … Continue reading Art!

Looking for artists…

In other news: I’m currently looking for artistically inclined individuals who would be willing to do some art of the main characters of Chosen. Said art would be used on this site for promotion of the book, and you would of course receive full credit for your artsy awesomeness, as well as my undying gratitude. You wouldn’t need to have read the book, of course … Continue reading Looking for artists…

Sunshine does strange things to the human mind.

Greetings, internet. I have returned! You may rejoice if you wish. Or not. It’s cool. So, yes, as for the reasons behind my lengthy hiatus, I have no excuses except that Chicago has been experiencing an unusual stretch of gorgeous weather, and thus I’ve been somewhat distracted by strange feelings of optimism and delusions that the world may not be such an awful place after … Continue reading Sunshine does strange things to the human mind.

Chosen: Stuff and More Stuff

I’ve been working hard on my fantasy novel lately, but given my minuscule attention span and attraction to All Things Internet, it was inevitable that I waste at least a little bit of time online when I should’ve been writing. But rather than watching an endless parade of cat videos or reading YouTube comments and despairing of humanity, I instead used my precious time to create…a … Continue reading Chosen: Stuff and More Stuff