News! The Fairy Gift Re-release – New Cover – #Trans wins Best LGBT Memoir/Biography at Rainbow Awards!

Hello everyone! Long time, no blog! I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful holiday season! I was actually down with a bad cold for most of the holidays, so I didn’t get much celebrating done. I did go and see The Shape of Water, which was excellent and filled the fishman-romance-shaped hole in my heart.

This blog post is just to share a couple different pieces of exciting news! First up, The Fairy Gift has been picked up for re-release by Less Than Three Press! A new, lightly polished second edition will be available for purchase on January 24th, and is has a new cover!

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It’s so pretty! @.@ If you haven’t read The Fairy Gift, it was my first published book, and it’s a fun, sexy fairy tale about a plain young man who receives seductive powers from a fairy and is dragged into a world of magic and romance. And brothels. If you’re up for a light, tropey read, check it out! Pre-order here.

The other exciting news is that the trans memoir anthology I contributed to, #Trans did really well at this year’s Rainbow Awards! It tied for first place in the LGBT Memoir/Anthology category, and got second place in Best Transgender Book. Here’s what they had to say about it:

1) Trans was somewhat painful to read – not by any fault of the author but as a collection of difficult and heartfelt stories it was heart wrenching, but I felt it was a book that needed to be written and will be loved by many.
2) I rather like that each piece was allowed to create it’s own setting. The diversity of the pieces was part of the power of the book. The voice of each essay allowed me to glimpse into different worlds and gave me a clearer understanding of many things.
3) #Trans brings use collection of genuine stories from transgender and non-binary writers who share their heartfelt experiences and insightful thoughts on identity formation and how it has been impacted by technology, film, literature, social media, and music. Well written and edited, this is a must read for youth and adults.
4) #Trans is by turns academic, thoughtful, and provocative, providing insights and deconstruction of what it means to occupy a body in space and time… and how the internet has made it more possible than ever to find the others asking those same questions.
5) Thought provoking and informative, well written and edited, I really loved this book. It sparked quite a few family discussions! 
This was a total departure for me, but I’m really happy with how the anthology came out, and super proud of how well-received it’s been. Evelyn did an amazing job with it!
Well, I think that’s everything. I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year, and gets to read lots of excellent books. As usual, here is a picture of my cat being cute this Christmas:
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Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

#Trans Blog Hop – An Anthology about Transgender and Nonbinary Identity Online

Hi guys! Guess who nearly forgot that I was supposed to write this blog post! In my defense I’ve been working all week and um… it’s  my birthday tomorrow?

b7b5193632599af1554c82fa0950e4f061ad71aeAnyway, this post is part of a blog hop to promote a new collection of essays put together by the amazing Evelyn Deshane called #Trans about how transness intersects with technology and the internet. It’s subject that’s near and dear to my heart because (like a lot of people) I discovered that I was trans because of the internet. If it wasn’t for the community and support I’ve found online, I would probably still be very alone and confused. I believe the internet and online communities have revolutionized the queer experience, allowing otherwise isolated young queer people to discover a community of people like them, to connect and grow together.

My essay, which is called Trans Romance and Radical Love: My Autobiography in Binder Rippers (couldn’t pass that title up,) is about existing as a trans person in the larger LGBT+ romance community. I talk about both the good and bad aspects of it, from discovering my identity alongside other non-binary authors, to the difficulty trans authors in the communities have faced and continued to face. It was actually a pretty difficult essay to write because some of the stuff I talk about is still pretty upsetting for me, but Eve was an absolutely phenomenal editor and she helped me turn my personal ramblings into an essay that I’m pretty proud of.

So, #Trans is available at Amazon and Smashwords now! Here’s the blurb:

#Trans is an essay collection featuring the works of twenty transgender and nonbinary writers as they share their experiences with online communities, video games, and dating apps–among other technologies. Each author’s experience of their identity breaks away from the typical transgender narrative that is predominantly hung up on surgery and medical intervention. While that aspect is still a part of the story for some of these writers, surgery has never been the sole inspiration which pushes these writers forward.

Whether it was the love of a particular movie, the desire to share a feeling on social media, or a song they couldn’t get out of their heads, these twenty writers’ experiences of their identity have been shaped by media, technology, and the internet. And now, #Trans is ready to share with all of you.

It’s also going to be available in print on March 31st. If it sounds at all interesting, please go check it out, and maybe leave a review if you feel up to it! That would be great!

You can check out the official site here, and I’ll list the other stops on the blog hop below.

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re all having a great spring!

#Trans Blog Hop Schedule:
March 10th: Eve Deshane blogging evedeshane.wordpress.com.
March 13th: Erika D. Price blogging on their tumblr.
March 17th Ariel Estrella on their website.
March 20th: J.K. Pendragon on their website.
March 22nd: Gabriel D. Vidrine on their tumblr.
March 24th: Velvl Ryder on his website.
March 29th: Allen Hope on #Trans site.

 

JUNIOR HERO BLUES Blog Tour! Dates and Giveaways

My hard work has finally paid off! JUNIOR HERO BLUES is now available and the truckload of blog posts I wrote about it are crashing out of the back of the truck at an alarming rate and onto a computer screen near you!

That was a weird metaphor. Anyway, blog tour!

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Along with me rambling about just about everything superhero and writing related I could come up with, I’m also giving away three $15 Amazon gift cards! Just leave a comment with your email address on any of the posts to be entered.

In case you want to leave your name on every single one of the posts, here’s the links to where and when they’ll be posted:

November 7, 2016 Joyfully Jay
November 7, 2016 Bayou Book Junkie
November 8, 2016 Prism Book Alliance
November 8, 2016 The Novel Approach
November 8, 2016 The Day Before You Came
November 9, 2016 Love Bytes Reviews
November 9, 2016 Diverse Reader
November 10, 2016 Dog-Eared Daydreams
November 10, 2016 Booklover Sue
November 10, 2016 MM Good Book Reviews
November 11, 2016 Book Reviews and More by Kathy
November 11, 2016 My Fiction Nook
November 11, 2016 OMG Reads

Have fun reading guys, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Update: Giveaway winners have been selected. Thank you for entering, everyone!
You can purchase copies of JUNIOR HERO BLUES at all these fine retailers:
Cheers!

GRNW 2016

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Hello everyone!

I’m writing this from my hotel room in Seattle! We drove down early today, and spent the evening having delicious Chinese food at PF Chang’s, buying lots of body products at Lush, and even more makeup at Sephora. Now were back at our favourite haunted hotel, the Moore, relaxing for our big weekend!

transficsThere are two main events that Alex Powell and I will be attending and speaking at this weekend. The first is TransFics + Love Bites, a free to attend reading at the Hugo House where we’ll be reading snippets of some of our published works, alongside Austin Chant, Tobi Hill-Meyer, Laylah Hunter and EE Ottoman! Then there will be an intermission followed by more short readings by a variety of LGBTQ authors! If you’re going to be in the Seattle area tomorrow (Friday the 23rd) night, please stop by! The readings start at 7PM.

Then on Saturday, the main event! Gay Romance NorthWest 2016 at the Seattle Library! Unfortunately, passes for the event are completely sold out, but if you already have a pass, I can’t wait to see you there!

Registration starts at 12, and then there are panels from 1PM to 4PM. Alex and I, along with the other readers from TransFics will be speaking on a panel called “Trans Authors on Characters, Stories, and Industry” that starts at 2:10. Austin is the moderator, and it looks like it’s gonna be a really awesome discussion!

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I made a bunch of these! Please come by and grab one!

Finally, from 1-6, basically the whole time, there will be a book fair where you can buy books from the bookseller, and from 4-6 there will be an author meet and greet! I’ll be at my table handing out my little business cards and candies that I put together! If you’d like a book signed, or just to chat, please stop by!

Also, when you get a swag bag, check inside for a “Hello, my pronouns are:” tag courtesy of Alex and I! Even if you’re cis, wearing a pronoun tag is a great way of normalizing the idea, and makes trans people more comfortable wearing them as well!

I think that’s everything! There will be an afterparty at the Rendevous after the conference, but last year we were way too tuckered out to go, so we’ll see about that one. XD

We have all sorts of other fun things planned for the weekend, including Alex and I getting matching tattoos and a visit to a cat cafe, The Meowtropolitan! I can’t even tell which of those I’m more excited about. I’ve wanted to go to a cat cafe since I first learned of their existence. I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated via twitter, so feel free to follow me there! I’m @JKPendragon.

And now, I must go wash a green mud mask off of my face and head to bed. Hope to see you all soon!

Cheers!

All The News! Cover Reveal, Tattoo, Print Copies etc….

Hello, everyone! Long time, no blog! I’ve been taking it easy, enjoying my new place, intermittently battling the great depression beast, as you do. I haven’t been writing at all, something I hope will change soon, but I have been editing and preparing for a couple of new releases, as well as preparing for GRNW in September! So, to that end, I have a bunch of stuff to share with you guys! Hold on, lemme get my camera.

Okay, so first off, these babies arrived:

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They are gorgeous, and I wish I could bring them with me to GRNW, but they don’t come out until November! *pout* But I think I’m going to see about maybe doing an advance giveaway possibly maybe. We’ll see. Anyway, next up is these!

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Please ignore the typo on the back. Oh great, now you can’t because I drew attention to it. Go me. I seriously can’t believe I didn’t notice that but… ah well, what can you do? Nobody’s perfect. They are still glorious and rainbow, and I’ll probably be handing them out at GRNW (with candy bribes attached!)

ALSO, I’m going to be on a panel at GRNW! It’ll be Trans Authors on Characters, Stories and Industry. We have an amazing line-up of trans authors, and it should be a pretty great panel! I’ll also be at the book fair selling books and just hanging out, if you want to come and talk to me!

So JUNIOR HERO BLUES is coming out November 7th (go pre-order!) but I also have another romance novella coming out sometime after that! No blurb or release date yet, but I just got the cover, so I have to show it off! It’s by the wonderful Aisha Akeju who like, takes images directly out of my brain and turns them into covers (she is obviously a witch) and this one is no different!

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Perfect, right? Sea Lover is a fairly low-key, sweet romance between a seal-merman and a reclusive fisherman who finds him on the beach. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I can’t wait to share more!

And finally, in personal matters, I finally got a new tattoo!

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Taking pictures of your right arm with your left hand: surprisingly difficult. Anyway, it’s based off of the designs at Newgrange, and I couldn’t be more in love with how it came out. The placement, the size, even the fact that it looks like it was drawn by a human, and not a machine, are all exactly what I wanted. I actually didn’t know the exact placement I wanted going in, so I let the artist (Deborah at Unicus Studios) decide how it would look best, and she came up with this kind of off-centre position that I think looks so great and organic.

This one hurt like a mother-fucker too. Inside arm, and she had to start with a thin line and then go over it multiple times to thicken them. Ouch. It’s still quite tender and sore today, but it seems to be healing well. You can tell in the picture it’s still at that awkward healing, slightly swollen stage, but I’ll post photo updates on my twitter  to show how it comes out!

Thanks everyone for reading! 2016 has been an awesome year so far, and I hope it continues that way. Stay tuned for more info about Sea Lover, and a Junior Hero Blues giveaway.

Oh, and one more thing. No blog post is complete without this face:

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She loves the camera.

JUNIOR HERO BLUES is up for Pre-order! (Plus Cover and Blurb Reveal)

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So around this time last year, I was staring at this manuscript I had written, having no idea what I was going to do with it.

I had originally put off even writing it. I’d loved the story idea, had the whole thing planned out on paper, and was totally in love with the character and world. But it was YA. I wrote adult romance. What was I even going to do with it if I did write it? But the story and the characters wouldn’t leave me alone, so eventually, and after a few false starts, I settled down to write it. It was probably the easiest time and most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. I wrote steadily for about three months, and at the end of it, I had a manuscript that I was sure was the best book I’d ever written. And it was absolutely and definitely a YA.

And then, kind of like fate, a press I’d been wanting to publish with for ages, Riptide Publishing announced the release of their new YA line, Triton. A line of books about queer kids, for queer kids. How could I pass that up?

I read a lot growing up, but for whatever reason, the books I remember reading the most, the ones that really stuck with me, were about lgbt characters. So maybe I’ve always wanted to add to that collection of books, and maybe help a young person come to accept themselves, even subconsciously, the way those books helped me.

I’m still going to keep writing romance, of course. But I’m excited about this new direction as well. And I don’t think JUNIOR HERO BLUES will be my last queer YA.

So, with no further rambling, I present:

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Last year, Javier Medina was your average socially awkward gay high schooler with a chip on his shoulder. This year, he’s . . . well, pretty much the same, but with bonus superpowers, a costume with an ab window to show off his new goods, and a secret identity as the high-flying, wise-cracking superhero Blue Spark.

But being a Junior Hero means that Javier gets all the responsibility and none of the cool gadgets. It’s hard enough working for the Legion of Liberty and fighting against the evil Organization, all while trying to keep on top of school work and suspicious parents. Add in a hunky boyfriend who’s way out of Javier’s league, and an even hunkier villain who keeps appearing every time said boyfriend mysteriously disappears, and Blue Spark is in for one big dollop of teenage angst. All while engaging in some epic superhero action and, oh yeah, an all-out battle to protect Liberty City from the forces of evil.

Welcome to the 100% true and totally unbiased account of life as a teenage superhero.

Pre-order Now!

Rainbow Awards: To Summon Nightmares wins Best Transgender Fiction!

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I am beyond thrilled to announce that To Summon Nightmares received the award for Best Transgender Fiction in the 2015 Rainbow Awards today! This is my first time winning any sort of award for my writing, and I’m so glad it could be for this book, which is so very special to me. ^_^

I don’t have much to say besides a big thank you to all the readers and judges, (I’m so glad you enjoyed my book!) thank you to my fab publishers, Less Than Three Press, and a huge congratulations to all the To Summon Nightmaresother winners and runners up, particularly Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz, for their very well deserved awards of Best Transgender Romance and Best Transgender Book for The Burnt Toast B&B.

I also can’t help but hope that one day the pool of transgender fiction will be so large and full of talented authors, I’ll have absolutely no chance whatsoever of winning this kind of award. ^-^ In the meantime, I’m just excited to be part of a growing genre, and to be doing my part to make trans people like myself more visible in all sorts of different stories. And I’m going to savor my win, because this is pretty darn exciting.

Love you all, and hope you’re having a wonderful week!

GRNW is Happening!

Hi all! As I’m writing this, Alex Powell is driving down from Prince George to stay the night here, and then tomorrow we are heading down to Seattle for Gay Romance Northwest!

If you haven’t heard of it, GRNW is a convention and book festival open to everyone! On Friday night there will be a reading at the Hugo House, and then on Saturday there will be the conference and panels at the Seattle Public Library, followed by a Bookfest where you can meet authors, pick up swag and buy books. There will also be a bunch of books being given away!

I’m going to be on a panel called Celebrating and Elevating Underrepresented Characters in Queer Romance Fiction. My co-panelist all seem really cool, and I think it’ll be a great discussion! Then I’ll have a table at the bookfest, where I’ll be selling paperbacks. If you want copies of Geek Out, The Fairy Gift, To Summon Nightmares or Ink & Flowers to add to your collection, this is your chance! Also please feel free to come and talk to me, I promise I don’t bite, and I’m reasonably friendly. ^-^ I’ll also probably be furiously tweeting the whole time, so you can follow me @JKPendragon to keep updated on what’s happening.

We’re going to be in Seattle for a few days, so if there’s anything you think I should check out while I’m down there, please let me know in the comments!

Finally, since this post is a little short, I’m going to include and excerpt from Witch, Cat and Cobb, my f/f fantasy novella coming out in October. Please enjoy, and I hope to see you in Seattle this weekend!


I awoke to yelling outside my window. Disconcerted for a moment, I threw the blanket off and tripped over a pile of broken wands, then climbed up onto the tower of books under the windowsill to poke my head out, squinting in the bright sunshine.

It was the witch who was shouting. She was wearing a purple nightgown with the sleeves shoved up and wielding a broomstick at some invisible foe in the garden.

“I said out! You’ve ruined my cabbages with your bloody little swords! Try sticking each other with them sometime!”

“Is everything alright?” I shouted, and the witch looked up at me, her eyes wide and her hair a mess.

“Does it look alright?” she shouted back, and whacked her broom against the ground once more. I could have imagined it, but I thought I heard tiny, high-pitched squealing as she did so. “No!” she yelled at the ground. “I don’t want to hear about property titles!”

I pulled my head back in the window and looked around the room. The cobwebs and clouds of dust that I had kicked up in my scramble to the window would have looked pretty illuminated by the morning light were they not so disgusting. I thought about shouting out the window that the room was filthy, but thought better of it, as the witch obviously had enough on her plate that morning. Instead I hauled myself over to the door and went into the bathroom.

I figured out how to use the facilities by snapping my fingers fairly quickly, and spent a few minutes trying to salvage the mess that was my newly short hair in the mirror before giving up and heading out into the kitchen. The witch was there. She had changed into a very nice black and blue dress and had tamed her hair considerably, and she was currently pouring tea into a small shallow bowl for Fen to drink.

“Good morning,” she said evenly as I entered. “Please, sit. Tea.”

They sounded more like orders than suggestions, so I merely nodded and sat quietly at the table as she poured me a tankard of tea. I looked around at the kitchen, noticing that most of the counters, shelves and even the table we were sitting at had been molded from the same pale-orange clay used to make the walls of the house.

“Did you make this place?” I asked as the witch poured herself a mug of tea and sat across from me.

She nodded. “I’ve never been much of an architect, I’m afraid, but it stays together alright.”

“It’s not very elvish,” I commented.

The witch stared at me over the brim of her cup. Her eyes were a deep purple and her brows sharp and intimidating. “No,” she said. “I suppose it isn’t.”

Fen sneezed into his tea.

“Don’t expect to be the beneficiary of my hospitality for long, cat,” said the witch, giving him a sharp glare before returning her gaze to me. “And I’m not in the business of providing free room and board either. What is it you intend to do with yourself now that you’ve run away from all your responsibilities?”

“I don’t know,” I admitted, taking a sip of the tea. It was a rich black blend with a hint of sweetness to it. “I didn’t assume I’d stay away forever. Just until the Saishen Prince is married to someone else.”

“You’re engaged to the elf prince?”

“Yes.” I rested my chin on my fist. “It’s supposedly a long overdue political move. My father was supposed to marry the Saishen princess twenty years ago, but she disappeared.”

“I know that much,” said the witch. She stood, taking the black teapot from the fireplace and pouring a large dollop of it into her cauldron. “I do go into town occasionally. But I haven’t been in a few months, so your engagement must have been fairly recent. Hmm.” She leaned over the cauldron and sniffed, before making a critical face and turning to the table to sift through the herbs.

I took another sip of tea and crossed my arms. “They eventually gave up on the princess, and my father married my mother, and then he died only a few years later. Maybe an alliance between Priia and Saishen just isn’t to be.”

The witch selected what looked like a bay leaf and dropped it into the cauldron, prompting a display of pink and green sparks and a loud bang, followed by a poof of grey smoke. “So dramatic.” She coughed, waving the smoke away with her long sleeves. “So, you expect me to allow you to stay here, free of charge, for however many months it takes them to decide that you are dead and marry the Saishen prince off to someone else. Then what, you’ll return to the castle and marry whatever prince they pick out for you next? What’s so bad about the elf prince?”

“She doesn’t want to marry a prince at all,” said Fen from under the table where he’d taken cover from the smoke. “She’s dreaming of a princess.”

“Shut up, Fen!” I snapped. “She doesn’t have to be a princess.”

“Right,” said Fen. “You would have married that serving girl if she hadn’t run off with the duke.”

I scowled at him. “I liked you better when you didn’t talk.”

“And as for you,” said the witch. “Fen, is it now? Silly name. Who chose it?”

“I did,” I said quietly.

The witch looked stricken for a moment. “Oh. Well, it’s an alright name for a cat, I suppose.” She turned back to Fen. “You want to be human? What will you do for me?” She took a step towards Fen, who cowered under the table.

“What do you expect me to do for you?” he squawked. “I’m a cat! Very little in the way of things cats can do, actually. You’d be surprised.”

“Pest control,” said the witch.


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Witch, Cat and Cobb comes out October 14th from Less Than Three Press! You an pre-order it here and save 15%.

Thanks for reading, and hope to see some of you soon!

Witch, Cat and Cobb Cover Reveal! + Giveaway

I know, I should probably wait until I have a release date and a blurb and all that jazz, but I just couldn’t wait to show this off!

Check it out!

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Tada!

Isn’t it amazing?? It’s by Aisha Akeju, who also did the covers for Ink & Flowers, Geek Out and Double Take. I’m so consistently impressed by her skills, especially her uncanny ability to create covers that fit the stories so perfectly. This one is no exception!

With a cover like this, I don’t even feel like I need to explain the story too much. Suffice it to say, there’s magic, elves, a talking cat, and a princess and a witch who fall in love. I’m just so excited for this story, and thrilled with the cover! ^-^

To celebrate, I’m  giving away a $15 gift card for LT3’s book market! Leave a comment with your email address by the end of May to win!

Update: Giveaway has ended. Congrats Lore Graham!

Thanks for reading! Oh, I almost forgot, this month I’m Less Than Three Press’s featured author! You can save 20% off all my ebooks using the code PENDRAGON in LT3’s book market! Check out my books here!

Cheers, and don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered!

The Pronoun Talk

I wasn’t going to write this post. Originally this was going to be some “How to Review Trans Books” shit, but I reeeally didn’t want to do that for two reasons:

1. I really, professionally, do not want to ever write something that would suggest I have anything to say to reviewers about how they should review my books. I understand that reviews are not for me. I also understand that there is a long history of authors being absolute shit to reviewers, despite the fact that reviewers are pretty much integral to their success. Reviewers should be lifted up on a pedestal by authors, not dragged down and attacked.

2. I had really hoped that the few particularly transphobic reviews out there (not of my books, actually, but of other trans books) were just an anomaly. I wanted to believe that they were just trolls who were being mean or transphobic because they could, and that ignoring them was the best course of action.

But more and more I’m seeing reviews of trans books pop up where the reviewer genuinely seems well-meaning, and doesn’t realise that what they’re saying is something that trans people hear over and over, micro-aggressions that end up being incredibly hurtful at the end of the day. I know that if I was doing or saying something that was hurting someone in that way, I would want them to tell me, and I would hope they were comfortable explaining why.

So I’m gonna talk about it.

I am a genderqueer individual. I was assigned female at birth, and I present largely as female for various reasons (see my post about it here) but I’m not really a girl. Not at all. The way my dysphoria manifests changes from day to day. Some days I can’t stand my body. Some days I just feel vaguely disconnected to it. Sometimes when people call me “miss” or “lady” I get a pang in my stomach, like “no, that’s wrong”. Sometimes I just feel tired. But I always have, deep in my gut, this knowledge that I am not a girl, and I’m not a boy either. I just am.

I dealt with this, the sort of weird to uncomfortable feeling I get from being called “she”, by adopting the pronoun “they.” At first it felt weird to me, and sounded off to my ears. But I wrote up an author bio using it, and immediately felt a sense of relief, because even though it sounded a bit weird, it also allowed me to be perceived, at least by people passing by on the internet, as someone who is not female or male. And that was a big, big deal.

So here’s the thing. I know that gender-neutral pronouns are a bit weird. They’re new, and they take a bit of getting used to. Remember when apple came out with the iPad and everyone laughed, (menstruation is hilarious, you heard it here first) but now people say it all the time without a second thought? New words take a little bit to catch on. But they do, and it’s normal. In this case, it’s desperately needed. We have a whole population of people who don’t identify as male or female, and don’t wish to be gendered in every single sentence used about them. The solution was to come up with new pronouns (and I say “new” but most of these pronouns have been around for decades) or to use the pronoun “they”, which has already been used to refer to someone when you don’t know their gender yet (albeit in a slightly detached way) for a very long time.

If you’re not familiar with the term “micro-aggression” it’s basically a very small, minimally offensive thing that someone says or does that would be fine on it’s own. But when it happens time after time, again and again, it’s like Chinese water torture. It becomes unbearable. That’s why a cis person might laugh off having the wrong pronoun used for them once, but for a trans person who has been having the wrong pronoun used for them their whole life, it becomes an awful, hurtful thing whenever someone does it. Here’s a quote from my book, To Summon Nightmares, that explains it a little bit:

“Well, you’re my little sis—” She cut off with an intake of breath and Cohen flinched violently. Niall who had gone into the kitchen to put the kettle on, glanced at Cohen, looking concerned.
It’s okay, Cohen mouthed at him. The line was silent.
“I’m really sorry,” said Halley, sounding wretched. “Cohen, I’m really sorry, okay? I just forgot.”
“I know.” Cohen nodded, trying to breathe. “It’s fine, really Halley. I appreciate that you’re trying.”
“I am trying,” she said. “Really, I am.”
Niall took a step into the living room. “Do you want me to go?” he asked, and Cohen shook his head.
“It’s okay.” Cohen forced a smile into his voice. “You’re my sister, so I can’t be mad at you.”
“Yeah, right.” Halley gave a forced laugh. “Okay, call me tomorrow, kid. You hear me?”
“I will,” he said. “I promise.”
“G’night little brother.”
“Goodnight.”
He hung up the phone, leaning back against the couch and breathing slowly. His tolerance for being misgendered had gone down now that it wasn’t happening all the time. When it had happened all the time, it had just been like a slow burning, unidentifiable sickness. Now every ‘he’ was a relief, and every ‘she’ and ‘sister,’ every mention of his birth name was like a punch to the gut. He hated it.

So we choose a gender-neutral pronoun to avoid the feeling of being misgendered, but all too often a new micro-aggression takes it’s place, in the form of people complaining that our pronouns are too difficult for them. And I understand that it’s a normal reaction to want to talk about how the words are confusing, you don’t know how to use them or how to pronounce them. But trust me, we’ve heard it before, a lot. We know you’re going to have trouble with it, so did we. But it was worth it for us. And if you respect us at all, it’ll be worth it to you too.

The problem that’s come about, particularly with reviews, is that when you’re writing a review for a book, it’s normal to pick apart and critique aspects of the story. The world building didn’t make sense, so-and-so’s character was hard to understand, the made-up language seemed needlessly complex. Those are all valid critiques. The trouble starts when you treat something like gender identity or pronouns as something that the author has similarly “made up” to put into their book. There’s a difference between a world that an author has created from scratch, and a world that actually exists, that the author has researched or lived, and is representing in their book. One is open for debate and critique, and the other is just the way the world is. Complaining that you don’t like it doesn’t really add anything.

And I mean, it’s perfectly acceptable to read a book about, say, a sheep herder, and then say in your review: “I’m actually not a big fan of sheep, and I found it boring and confusing. Your mileage may vary.” But sheep herders don’t hear every day, in a million different little ways, that their profession is stupid and confusing and ridiculous. Or maybe they do. Equal rights for sheep herders?

For me, as a genderqueer person looking for books to read about people like me, it’s really difficult to get on goodreads, find a book that looks promising, and then scroll down to the reviews, just to read a bunch of reviews about how my pronouns are too confusing to be bothered with. And obviously this is a problem that extends beyond and didn’t at all originate with reviews, which is why I didn’t want to make this post all about them. But book reviews seem to one of the spots where the problem is really showing, so I wanted to address it.

Please, if you meet a person who asks you to use gender-neutral pronouns for them, don’t tell them that it’s too difficult for you. If you mess up, don’t go on about how it was because their pronouns are just so complicated, and it’s hard for you to learn how to use them. Just say sorry, and move on. And if you’re reading a book about a genderqueer character, and you don’t want to be bothered with the pronouns, just put the book down and go read something else. Don’t write about how difficult it was for you, or how you felt put off the book by their existence, because genderqueer people are going to see that, and read it.

And trust me, we already know.