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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Will Rivka and her dragon be able to save the prince’s boyfriend?


The prince smiled slightly. “Save him…” Then he started to faint again. 

Rivka grabbed him by both shoulders. “Wake up,” she demanded. His eyes rolled open, but she wasn’t sure if he was there. “Do you love him?” 

“Yes. More… more than life.” 

Rivka tightened her grip on him and stared into his eyes. “You have to love life as much as you love him, do you hear me? Because if you don’t live to tell me where he is, or how I can rescue him, he’ll die. So try harder.” 


Riv at the bedside of Kaveh

Come along for the ride in Climbing the Date Palm, the sequel to The Second Mango. Labor rights, shapeshifters, and more baklava than you could eat in a week!

Drawing by Becca Schauer.


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Aviva and the baklava

Aviva, the working-class, bisexual chef turned royal mistress, as drawn by Jane Dominguez. Here we see her in a scene from Climbing the Date Palm in which she works all night by herself to accomplish a seemingly impossible task just to ensure that her sweetheart, who is a lesbian, will be able to produce an heir to the throne without ever having to sleep with a dude.






Climbing the Date Palm is the sequel to The Second Mango. Guaranteed to contain canon femslash and supportive relationships between female characters!

JD-Aviva and the 1500 pieces of baklava

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Hypnotizing Chickens: lesbian novel with family, romance, and happy ending

“Just hand me my walker, child.”
“I think it’s funny that you still call me ‘child’.”
“If I can remember when you was a child and I wasn’t a child myself at the time, then you’re a child.”

Hypnotizing Chickens by Julia Watts is a lesbian romance novel that is so much more than that. Chrys, the heroine, is at one of those lifetime crossroads where you have to sit down and think about which parts of your past you’re going to take into your future. When her doctor girlfriend of six years dumps her for a nurse half her age, and her aging, ailing grandmother fires her aide for stealing her pain pills, the broken pieces of life come together to send Chrys home for the summer to take care of Nanny. The romance that ensues is with Nanny’s physical therapist, the divorced mother Dee, but the romance is only one part of the very complete package that isChickens.

Author Julia Watts does a phenomenal job of bringing rural Kentucky to life, as well as all those family moments I know all too well — octogenarian grandparents needing help in bathrooms designed for people without mobility problems, loved ones who say ‘friend’ when they mean partner or spouse because they’re trying their hardest but still have to meet you where they are, and food you remember from childhood. This isn’t just a book about two women meeting and falling in love. It’s a book about a woman looking for the next direction her life will take; it’s a book about family and how even when they’re frustrating there is still sometimes a whole gallon of love to go around; it’s a book about having the pride not to be ashamed of things that have meaning to you or where you came from even if someone you care about is looking on them with disdain.

This story has probably been done before, with straight people. Dumped woman goes home to the couuuuntry to lick her wounds, eat some greasy food, and find true love. But I want this story for us. I love seeing stories where lesbians and bisexual women have families, friends, and a community, instead of just being isolated into stories where we only exist in order to get into romances. That’s why I wish this book was a movie. I can hear the twangy country soundtrack now — with all female vocalists, of course! — and I can see the gorgeous vistas of the countryside in my mind.

This isn’t a book free from any reference to homophobia, but it’s dealt with realistically, and it never takes over the story. I won’t promise you’ll like Chrys’s family — her father is, as she describes it, one of those hypocritical right-wingers who vote for people who wind up hurting them economically — but she likes them, and they like her. And you can see they’re making an effort.

I want this book to do well. When I was looking up the author this morning I found out she’d written “La Belle Rose”, one of the two stories I liked in the Once Upon a Dyke anthology. I’d check that one out, too, if you have time.

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Blessed Twice by Lynn Galli: lesbian love story between college professors

Blessed Twice is a novel about a widowed lesbian, Briony, and her shy colleague coming together in their academic workplace after the main character realizes she’s ready to start dating again.

It begins at the wedding of two of Briony’s friends, and for a while the first chapter read like an all-female version of the opening chapters of The Hobbit as the author introduced all of Briony’s lesbian clique at once.  But then I was launched into the aftermath of the wedding as Briony comes home to an empty house and decides to pack up the rest of her dead wife’s stuff, and I was moved nearly to tears.

Everything to do with Briony’s loss and healing—the physical objects that carry special meaning, the part where her young son recognizes that she’s acting like her old self, the raw fear when he asks if he can go rock-climbing (which was how his other mom died)—was very well executed by the author.

This is a good novel if you want a place to mentally hang out where lesbians never have anything bad happen to them that’s “lesbian-specific.” In other words, nobody’s parents kicked them out; there is sexual assault both attempted (and thwarted) and past (not described) but neither case happened specifically because of lesbophobia. Even the main antagonist is pretty much just a sexist jerk who’s jealous of Briony professionally, not a specifically lesbophobic jerk. It also has a happy ending and a very solid loving relationship that I believed in.

I do have to say, the love interest, with her childhood sexual traumas leading to extreme inability to participate in sexual intimacy until Briony’s patience and love lets her overcome it, reminded me of this trope. Many people who identify as asexual already have people saying, “No, you’re not – you’re just [like this character].” She’s an obvious example of the thing people think asexual people are, when in fact many are not, and until other types of asexual people get as much visibility as this one narrative, they’ll be swept under the rug and mistaken for her. That being said, what this character goes through is a real phenomenon, and those who have survived such experiences may find it meaningful to see how happy of an ending this character gets.

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Guest Post: Shira Glassman on Climbing the Date Palm and The Second Mango


I was invited to post on Racheline and Erin’s blog to talk a little bit about how bisexuality influences the plot and characterizations in my new book. Come check it out!

Originally posted on Avian30:

Another guest post today, this time from Shira Glassman, focusing on some of the bisexual characters in her latest novel, Climbing the Date Palm, the sequel to her book The Second Mango. Both are YA romances that cover the full LGBTQ spectrum and are available from Prizm Books (the YA imprint of Torquere Press) as well as major retailers online and off.

Also, I must note, that in addition to the many other forms of representation present in these books, one of the main characters has celiac disease (just like me!).

 Shira Glassman writes:

I’ve never understood why it’s so hard for some people to believe in the existence of bisexuality.

After all, climbingthedatepalm-1my ravenousness when I see a salad bar doesn’t negate my special relationship with rotisserie chicken or lambchops. People are allowed to like more than one type of food, and if I sit…

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