Boston Pride 2015

Until yesterday, I had never been to a Pride event. I had always wanted to go, but they were either too far away from me, or I forgot about it/didn’t know about it until it was too late. This year I had the opportunity not only to go to Boston Pride, but to help represent my publisher and sell copies of my YA titles.

WHAT A BLAST!

Boston is only about an hour and half from where I live right now, so it was really exciting to be able to make the trip for the day. I left early in the morning, had a heart attack navigating the tunnels into the city, but found a parking garage close to where I needed to be.

Just some of the books we had to offer. And me posing in the background.

Just some of the books we had to offer. And me posing in the background.

I was early. But it was still nice to see everything as it was being set up with so few people around. Because when eleven o’clock hit, it started to get busier. And when the parade reached us at around one, oh my GOD it was wall-to-wall bodies.

Since Boston is the home of my favorite drag queen, JuJubee, I had been hoping to meet her. She responded to my facebook post about being there, but sadly that wasn’t the case. However I sold out of all my YA titles, and fast! By an hour into the festival I was worried I wouldn’t have any left! With a little over three hours to go, I did sell out, but that just meant helping the other authors!

I was happy to have been able to bring Julie Blair and ‘Nathan Burgoine’s books as well. It was nice to have a good selection for festival goers!

I got to hang out with great authors from my group. I knew Cathy Frizzell from the Rainbow Book Fair in NYC, and Dena Hankins from the retreat last summer, but I also got to meet Jean Copeland and Holly Stratimore and their respective partners. Fun times!

Jennifer Lavoie, Jean Copeland, Holly Stratimore, CF Frizzell, and Dena Hankins

Jennifer Lavoie, Jean Copeland, Holly Stratimore, CF Frizzell, and Dena Hankins

But what was even better was the opportunity to connect with the readers. That was amazing. There were a lot of young adults there, and I had a blast talking with them. Some readers had no idea we existed and eagerly snatched up books. Some didn’t realize we were the authors until we asked if they wanted the books signed. Some readers were young – like one girl who bought Meeting Chance with her two dads and her little sister near – or older who had read a lost of LGBT fiction in their lives. Either way, I appreciated them all.

Dena looks on while Jean signs her novel and I...stare at something.

Dena looks on while Jean signs her novel and I…stare at something.

I can’t wait to do it again. I know all of us want to go back next year, and I hope I get to do more Pride events. I was originally going to do Providence Pride next weekend, but that had to be cancelled since no other authors were interested. And it’s a bit late for NYC Pride. But hey, maybe next year?

What do you think? Would you like to see Bold Strokes Books and NYC Pride next year? If you would, leave a message here! I’ll let my publisher know you want to see us! Any other Pride suggestions or events? Let me know! I’ll pass it along!

 

True Colors Open House

I should probably be in bed right now – okay I DEFINITELY should be in bed right now – but I can’t. I’m too excited! Tonight (as in yesterday) I went to an Open House for True Colors in Hartford, a group that works with LGBT youth. It was for those interested in volunteering, mentoring, and fostering.

I’ve been wanting to get involved for years now, but I never could manage to get around to it. I even filled out the application – twice – but never sent it in. Life got the best of me.

But last week at the retreat (post on that later) I thought about it again and was like yeah, YEAH I’m going to do it.

And then I got the email about the open house. Before I could chicken out, I sent Amber an email saying I’d be there.

AND I’M SO GLAD I WENT.

Everyone I met was amazing. I was nervous at first going in, but that faded so fast. I love the space. It’s so positive and welcoming I was completely at ease. What an amazing place for youth to go to! I donated copies of each of my books to their library. And then I saw the library. It’s nice, but they had it arranged by color. And it needs to be fixed. I volunteered.

Okay, more like literally FLAILED at the opportunity to fix it.

What can I say? I love books. And I love organizing them. And they have BOXES to be sorted and omg I want to go tomorrow and start! D:

Focus, Jen.

So I also might be doing something with a writer’s workshop and Paul mentioned a book club and I may have flailed a little at that, too. Also putting together something for the conference in March which I was supposed to do last year…but again life got in the way of that.

Really I can’t wait to get my volunteer application in. I’m so freaking excited to start. Why did I wait this long to do it? I’m so energized I can hardly sit still! And I should be in bed!

Sleep is for the weak.

For more information about True Colors, you can visit their website here. 

And because it’s important, if you’d like to volunteer or donate to True Colors, follow this link directly for more information! Every little bit helps!

Tristant and Elijah – OFFICIALLY RELEASED!

So excited! Tristant and Elijah has officially been released everywhere and so far the reviews are great! Head on over to the reviews section of the page to see more, but here’s a few excerpts!

I truly loved the supportive role that Tristant played for Elijah in his journey. Elijah’s anguish, and Tristant’s empathy and kindness are palpable. These two are really tender boys–and I’m glad that they found each other. – Veronica from V’s Reads

 

I found the story to be relevant and one we can all relate to. Many of us have had the experience of having a crush on someone we cannot have. – Amos Lassen

 

Have you read Tristant and Elijah? Let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Movie Review: This Is What Love In Action Looks Like

This is a short but well paced documentary that looks at the ex-gay group Love In Action that has an in house program for teenagers called Refuge. When a young, gay teen is sent there against his will by his parents, he blogs about it and what happens next is nothing short of outstanding. Considering the time period, social media was really just taking off. The boy, Zach, found that his friends spread the word about what was happening to him and very soon a group of people stood outside the Refuge for the entire 8 weeks he was there, trying to be “converted” to a straight teen.

The documentary focuses not just on Zach and his story, but the story of other men who went through this experience and came out with serious after effects that took years to resolve. It shows just how dangerous it can be when others take your life into their hands.

One of the people interviewed surprised me. It was the man who was a director of the Refuge, and because of the protesting, he had a change of heart. By the time the Refuge was shut down, he changed gears and began to welcome gay members into his church. This change of heart just shows how much of an impact one person can have. Because of Zach a light was shined on the Refuge and what they were doing, and as a result, lives were changed and possibly saved.

I highly recommend this documentary. It can opens viewers eyes to the damage done to teenagers who undergo this kind of “treatment,” often at the consent of their parents.

Review: Kings of Ruin by Sam Cameron

Danny Kelly cares only for rock ‘n’ roll and fast cars. Too bad he’s stuck in the capital of country music and he’s banned from driving until he turns twenty-one. Plus he likes other boys, a secret that he’s vowed to keep until he graduates high school. When his stepdad’s new truck roars off on its own, Danny discovers a secret that is endangering cars and drivers across America. It almost kills Danny, too, until he’s saved by seventeen-year-old Kevin Clark. Kevin’s gay, handsome, and confident, but working with his dad’s secret government organization has left him lonely. It’s going to take a weekend of car chases, fiery explosions, and country-western singing to save the citizens of Nashville from certain death—but can Danny protect his heart and secrets as well?

Okay, so this book doesn’t come out until March, but I received a copy to review from NetGalley. I love Sam Cameron’s YA series Fisher Key Adventures, and just like those books, this one does not disappoint.

This book has definite science fiction elements. The Ruins are a sort of alien being that come and enter engines to take over them. The Kings are the biggest Ruins and are set on having fun and do not care about destruction.

I loved the characters, both human and Ruin. Danny is a great character because he’s flawed but trying to do his best. He is gay, but he so desperately wants to hide that part of him. When things get strange and he meets Kevin, who is open about his sexuality, he almost blows his chance at something.

The author included great non-human characters. Even though they didn’t speak and weren’t on the page for long, I completely fell for FIREBUG, 2KEWLE, and CHOPR. These Ruins were tiny and had very human reactions to what went on around them. I hope this series is going to be a sequel because I want to see them again.

The book is filled with action and drama, both real and science fiction based. It might be the book that bridges the gap for some kids who aren’t sure if they like science fiction novels. This is definitely a book worth having on your YA shelf!

The book will be released on March 18, 2013. You can preorder your copy from Bold Strokes Books. 

Book Review: Swimming to Chicago by David-Matthew Barnes

I’m having a hard time writing a review for this because I want to do it justice, yet I’m afraid my words won’t be sufficient. There were so many beautiful pieces of imagery that stuck out and followed the characters throughout the book that it really is a remarkable piece. Though tragedy strikes the characters, they get through it, together.

First, the pink and white sandals, flowers, and everything else that seems to follow Jillian around. It shows a sense of innocence, and yet her actions are far from. But at the same time, she is innocent because she isn’t completely aware of her actions and what chaos they will cause.

Then there is the way the characters are brought together, particularly Alex and Robby, as well as John and Martha. Alex loses his mother, and in walks Robby. He’s clearly a fragile person who has suffered at the hands of others, and Alex, fresh from his grief over finding his mother having committed suicide, he clings to Robby. Here is someone he can protect and keep safe, unlike his mother. Likewise, John, having just lost his wife, it isn’t surprising when he falls for Martha, a woman who is in a terrible relationship and looking for some way out.

While some may not believe the relationships, especially Alex and Robby, I thought it was very real. In times of grief, people do what they can to protect themselves. Alex was angry that he couldn’t help his mother, but he can help Robby, or so he thinks.

I thought their relationship was beautiful. I just wish more had been told from their point of view.

Really well done, but as I said before, my words fail to express how beautiful this novel was.

Swimming to Chicago is available for sale Bold Strokes Books and Amazon in paperback and e-book form.

Speaking out against bullying

I am writing this post as a teacher.

I am also writing this post as the victim of bullying.

Once again my television is telling me that another teenager has taken her life because she was bullied. It doesn’t matter whether she is a lesbian or not. What matters is how senseless this tragedy is, and how preventable it can be. According to the news, as she lay in critical condition in the hospital, the bullying continued on her Facebook page. How can people be so cruel?

I’ve heard some adults say that “bullying is a right of passage” or that “kids will be kids.” But it’s wrong. No matter what way it is looked at, making another person feel inferior for ANY reason – be it their sexuality, gender, religion, ethnic background, clothing, hair color, whatever – is wrong. So very, very wrong.

My bullying started when I was in the eighth grade. In homeroom, every single morning, one of the guys who sat next to me spit on me. I don’t know what I did. It could have been my glasses. Maybe even my jeans (my family didn’t have much, and I wore KMart or Caldor’s brand clothing instead of Abercrombie, which was cult-like at the time). Could it have been my hair? I wondered if maybe I even smelled bad, though they never said that. I don’t remember one of my bullies’ names. And I don’t even remember the name of the teacher who watched, day by day, as this happened, and not once said a single word. My mother now asks me why I never told her. My response? “Because the teacher didn’t stop it, so I figured no one would help.”

I’ve told this story to my students, and I remind them whenever a bullying issue comes up. I will not tolerate any form of bullying in my classroom. I cannot stand by and watch one of my students being harassed by another student because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to be made to feel inferior. And no one has the right to do that to another person. I truly feel my students pain when they tell me how they feel when it happens.

I’m proud to say I’ve seen changes. But it’s not enough. More adults need to take this stand as well. If you see kids harassing another kid who is visibly upset, please, step in and help them. Be the responsible person and get help for them. If someone you know is being bullied or you fear they might be, talk to them. Do something about it.

Kids look to adults for guidance. They look to us as role models. Maybe if we really push and take a stand against bullying, they will finally realize that it’s wrong and has serious, harmful side effects.