Aviva salad! Crunchy raw goodness from the kitchen of Perach’s “royal favorite”

Aviva, the bisexual chef who’s also the queen’s sweetheart, would like to share one of her best recipes with you! It’s vegetarian (with dairy), super refreshing, and requires no cooking.Celery AvivaAviva salad

You will need:

-Raw green peas, shelled
-Celery
-Baby hothouse cucumbers — the little kind that come in the package.
-Plain greek yogurt (around here, we buy Fage)
-Lemons
-Fresh dill

1. Remove leaves and white ends of celery stalks. Draw knife down center of celery stalk the long way to divide stalk into two strips.
2. Slice cucumbers the long way, then, holding the two halves together like a sub sandwich, slice into half-moons.
3. Mix together roughly equal parts by volume cucumber, celery, and peas.
4. Juice the lemons. Bottled has a different taste, so use fresh if you can.
5. Add yogurt and lemon juice, a little bit at a time so the lemon juice cuts into the yogurt and helps it spread around.
6. Chop dill and mix in.

Some people may want to add salt and pepper.

Aviva is a character from The Second Mango and Climbing the Date Palm and she is drawn here by chiroyo.

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Cover reveal for Book Three! Coming January 21, 2015 from Prizm Books

Magic, musicians, and mystery — Perach’s babywearing lesbian queen is on the case! Queue it on Goodreads.

aharvestofripefigs

Esther of the Singing Hands is Perach’s Sweetheart, a young and beautiful musician with a Girl Next Door image. When her violin is stolen after a concert in the capital city, she doesn’t expect the queen herself to show up, intent upon solving the mystery.

But Queen Shulamit—lesbian, intellectual, and mother of the eight month old crown princess—loves to play detective. With the help of her legendary bodyguard Rivka and her dragon, and with the support of her partner Aviva the Chef, Shulamit turns her mind toward the solution—which she quickly begins to suspect involves the use of illegal magic that could threaten the safety of her citizens.

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“Whatever you face, I’ll help you.”

“Whatever you face, I’ll help you.” Aviva took both of her hands and lifted them to her mouth. She kissed each set of knuckles sweetly, then led Shulamit over to the food.In the Hall of Ancestors

Being queen can be stressful, but it helps to have a supportive partner who’s also a professional chef. Read about their latest adventures in Climbing the Date Palm, the sequel to The Second Mango.

Queen Shulamit is eager to help Kaveh, the youngest prince of a neighboring country, when his father throws his engineer boyfriend in jail for leading his workers in protest over underpaid wages. But if she can’t find a peaceful solution that will keep everybody happy, the two countries could wind up at war.

Kindle • eBook package from publisher (4 formats)
Paperback from feminist bookstore • Paperback from Amazon.

Art by Rebecca Schauer on commission.

 

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Uplifting novel “Ebenezer” features lesbian’s (secular) spiritual journey learning to fight severe depression

(Before I start this, I want to mention that the Kindle sample is what hooked me, and that close toward the end of the sample there was something that caught me by complete surprise, bringing tears to my eyes. So maybe that’s all I really need to write — go read the sample.)

There are books and movies out there where we get to watch someone fight an illness, return to their roots, rekindle their love for what inspired them, or learn to treat their fellow humans with more compassion. They become tear-jerker, feel-good stories that win awards and everyone passes them around like Altoids.

If you’re in the LGBTQ+ umbrella, you know that most of the time, these books and movies only hit the big-time if the protagonist is straight (and cisgender.) After all, the mainstream only seems interested in our struggles if our struggles are somehow directly related to our queerness — Philadelphia was about AIDS, Brokeback Mountain showed a losing duel with the closet and homophobic violence. Boys Don’t Cry won an Oscar but, again, it was about transphobic violence. Where’s the Academy Award for the movie about the brave trans man who has to cope with almost losing his precious baby daughter to childhood cancer? No, the father in that movie has to be straight and cisgender for the mainstream to care.

And this sucks, because that means I have to jump up and down and wave my hands in the air to get people to know about Ebenezer, a novel by JoSelle Vanderhooft.

Vanderhooft has said that she wanted “to rescue A Christmas Carol from over a century of schmaltzifying and saccharine-coating and to get in touch with what makes this novella so strange, so haunting, and ultimately so awe-inspiring.” This is Christmas Carol like you’ve never seen it — distinctly un-Christianity-focused, distinctly a story about women. The main character, her mother and grandmother, her ex-girlfriend, her would-be best friend, the woman she tells herself it’s okay to persecute in the course of her soul-crushing job in collections, and most inspiringly of all, the three entities that come to teach her that it’s possible for her to claw her way out of her severe depression, all reinforce the idea that yes, women CAN be the dominant players in their own story, and a lesbian CAN be the protagonist even if the main skeleton of the story would have been completely the same starring a straight person.

With evocative language like “five foot four and frail as newspaper against December” and a passage in which the light from a street lamp is “honey” on the floor, the author awoke my senses and made it very easy for me to picture everything she described. I felt it had the perfect balance of plot and poetry — too much language with not enough actually happening would have lost me, but there’s no “dead weight” here, just well-decorated story.

Oddest of all, given that I’m a bisexual woman, I found myself completely at ease with the fact that the main character’s long-time girlfriend had left her and was now living with a man. Why? Because it didn’t happen because of her bisexuality. A lesbian Marley would also have left; Marley left because their relationship had too many problems on its own, independent of whoever was coming next in her life. And if a woman had been the one there to catch her on her way out, instead of a man, she would have gone with her instead. The main character was never biphobic in her anger and sorrow, either. It didn’t feel threatening to me at all.

I’ll say it again: the entire story would have worked with a straight protagonist, because at its heart, this is a story about a person coping with depression having a spiritual journey that teaches them that it’s possible for depression to be fought, even their depression. Ebbie’s depression is not in any way caused by homophobia or ‘learning to cope with her lesbianism’ or anything else like that. It’s so revolutionary for me to see people writing stories like that with us. It recognizes that yes, marginalized people can face huge, life-altering problems that don’t stem directly from their marginalized status. That we are part of the entire human experience and not just the symbols of our oppression.

This is a book without a present-day romance, yet it still stars a queer woman.

This is a book without sex, yet it still stars a queer woman.

Isn’t that neat? We get to exist.

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Rivka at eight years old

“When you grow up — not soon enough for me, you funny child,” — Mitzi massaged her own brow — “you’ll be a lady, and you certainly won’t be swordfighting. Even with candles.”

“Yes, I will. I’m going to be a lady swordfighter.”

Baby Riv

Rivka was right. She grew to be a five foot eleven, dragon-riding warrior woman (with a Yiddish accent!) who roars her way through The Second Mango and Climbing the Date Palm, available from Prizm Books, and A Harvest of Ripe Figs, due out January 2015.

Illustration by Becca Schauer.

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Busting up the myth of the welfare queen, fantasy-lit style

Kaveh wanted to turn and run, but courage flowed into him as he realized Farzin had joined him at the edge of the dais. “Your Majesty,” said the pudgy engineer. “These men have worked hard, under heat and under rain, lifting backbreaking weights for you. Why can’t you pay them what you promised?”

“They don’t need more than what’s in those purses,” said the king, obviously shocked that someone, even the son of nobility, was talking to him like that. “All they want for is food. Anything extra, and they’re liable to spend it on this vice or that. Why, just the other day I saw a working-class woman wearing a silk scarf on her hair.”

“Most likely a cast-off or gift from a rich employer,” Farzin countered. “Should she have declined it simply because it made you think she had wasted money on it that she doesn’t have? Besides, the money in the purses might buy some food — but what if the man has a large family, or a sick wife who can’t work? And what if someone needs a doctor? There’s nothing in the purse for that, and many of the men have injuries from their toil.”

“That’s the lot of the working class, I suppose,” said the king. “Those who deserve it, rise above. I can’t do anything to help those who are where they are.”

“But how can they rise above if you–“

speaking truth to power

Like labor rights? Justice? Same-sex romance and shapeshifters? Check out Check out Climbing the Date Palm, the sequel to The Second Mango. Available from Prizm Books as an eBook package, from Amazon Kindle or paperback, and in autographed paperback from Wild Iris Books here.

Queen Shulamit is eager to help Kaveh, the youngest prince of a neighboring country, when his father throws his engineer boyfriend in jail for leading his workers in protest over underpaid wages. But if she can’t find a peaceful solution that will keep everybody happy, the two countries could wind up at war.

Art credit Francesca and Jane Dominguez. 

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I like it better when the knight and dragon love each other

 

This was a key component of my writing motivation. If you feel the same way, check out  The Second Mango and its sequel, Climbing the Date Palm. (Book three due out January 2015!)
Chibi Riv -dragon belly rubRivka and her dragon are each other’s favorites. Yeaka drew this for me, as a complete surprise, not a commission. It’s one of my favorites of all the pictures anyone has ever done for me of my characters.

 

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