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I'm including a few Bella Books releases from October because a couple of my fellow Bella authors asked me to. And guess what? Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17Vortex of Crimson is the final book in Lise MacTague's Deception's Edge SF romance trilogy.

All Torrin Ivanov wanted was to get Jak Stowell back, that was supposed to be the hard part. In a cruel twist, Jak is hers again, but her girlfriend is literally losing her mind. The only help can be found on the last planet in the universe to which Torrin would like to return…To cure Jak, they must return to her war-ravaged home planet, Haefen. 

For Jak, returning to her home planet gives her the chance to make good on a promise too long deferred. But will she be able to finally take out her brother’s killer? Or will she be pulled into the dark undertow of local politics… 

The two women soon find that politics pale next to the threat of the one who still hunts Jak. This time he has bait—Torrin’s sister, Nat Ivanov. As their search intensifies, Torrin and Jak realize that despite all of the obstacles in their way, one thing is clear—they can at least depend on each other. But will that be enough?


Like Vortex of CrimsonMother of Souls is a third book, though the Alpennia series is both longer-reaching and less of a single story than the traditional trilogy format. The two books have one more thing in common, though: they're both on sale this weekend at Bella Books!

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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I made a few teensy exceptions to my rules that books for this promotion had to be November releases. One friend had a re-release, one November release was short fiction that I used to bump mention of the related book, and when I mentioned the project on the Bella Books facebook group, a couple of my fellow Bella authors with October releases asked it I could include them too--which I did when I found I had some space open at the end of the month. (Ordinarily, I try to avoid scope creep because it hits my anxiety buttons.) I'm re-arranging the planned schedule a bit to move those Bella books into the next few days because...Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17.

Tempered Steele: Hard Edges by M. E. Logan is a follow-up to the post-apocalyptic dystopian  romantic adventure Tempered Steele: Stoking the Fire.

After a nearly apocalyptic earthquake engendered a societal breakdown, visionary Deborah Steele returned to her isolated family farm and turned it into a safe haven for women to escape from the increasingly misogynistic and dystopian world around them. Her fair and open system of contracting labor for food, shelter and security has bound them together and ensured their survival. So far… 

Outside the farm, however, others are using a contract system as a form of human trafficking. And Deborah’s attempts to protect her estranged love, Joanna Davis, will soon bring the women’s community unwanted visibility, putting them all in danger and forcing Deborah to choose between the sanctuary she has built and the woman she still loves. 


It doesn't take a dystopia for women to need to struggle against misogyny and a society that exploits their labor and denies them a full life. Challenging those forces will always put them in danger, whether of overt violence or the no less hazardous rejection of society. In Mother of Souls, Luzie Valorin faces the choice between acceding to those who think her musical skills are only suitable for domestic amusements--or to support a man's career--and reaching out to sieze the chance for greatness. Perhaps even to change the fate of Europe with her compositions!

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events. And at the moment, some of those books are on sale!

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I confess to an occasional bewilderment at the sub-genre of "shifter" fantasy that seems to have sprung up almost overnight. (Ok, ok, I'm showing my age, right? But I swear, it wasn't there the last time I turned around.) Cathy Clamp's Illicit uses shapeshifter communities to explore motifs of social conflict and hidden identities.

When a border dispute between two bear clans destabilizes shapeshifter relations throughout Europe and threatens to reveal their existence to humans, the Sazi High Council orders both sides to the negotiation table. The peace talks take place in Luna Lake, the American community where all shifter species—wolf, cat, bird, bear, and more—live in harmony. Diplomats, their families, and security personnel stream into town, among them Dalvin Adway, a Wolven agent. Dalvin is startled to find Rachel Washington in Luna Lake. The last time he saw her, they were children in Detroit. Then she was kidnapped and, he thought, murdered. But Rachel became an owl-shifter as a result of the attack and has avoided family and old friends ever since, knowing they would not understand her. She’s stunned to see Dalvin and learn that he, too, is an owl-shifter. Their wary friendship is on the brink of becoming something more when conspiracy and betrayal cause the peace talks to break down. The fight between the bear clans will be settled through a form of traditional challenge—a risky tactic that might lead to full-blown war. Rachel is determined to prevent that, even if it means taking up the challenge herself!


I confess I've been having fun finding ways to tie each book in this series into some aspect of my own November 2016 release, Mother of Souls. I suppose I should take satisfaction in how many times I could manage it naturally! A pity that, in this case, I'm not promoting my (not yet scheduled for publication) Skinsinger collection which has a rather different take on shapeshifting. So you'll have settle for this not-a-connection connection to my book.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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This book really needs to go on my To Be Read list! Gail Garriger has several intertwined paranormal/steampunky series. Romancing the Invntor tosses in a lesbian romance as well as a mad scientist. Oh, and vampires. Mustn't forget the vampires.

Imogene Hale is a lowly parlourmaid with a soul-crushing secret. Seeking solace, she takes work at a local hive, only to fall desperately in love with the amazing lady inventor the vampires are keeping in the potting shed. Genevieve Lefoux is heartsick, lonely, and French. With culture, class, and the lady herself set against the match, can Imogene and her duster overcome all odds and win Genevieve’s heart, or will the vampires suck both of them dry?


It can be hard to find mainstream SFF books with "incidental lesbians" -- lesbian characters in stories that aren't "about" sexuality. Books like Romancing the Inventor give me how that some day publishing will be a place where books like the Alpennia series could have found a home in mainstream SFF. In the mean time, if you love mainstream SFF but wish it had more queer women in it, check out Mother of Souls.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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The SFF podcast Skiffy and Fanty interviewed me for their "Signal Boost" series and the show is now live. Check it out! I talk about the Alpennia series as well as the Lesbian Historic Motif Project. This is a really fun podcast show and you should consider subscribing to it.

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I pulled the titles to include in this blog series from a variety of sources: SFF lists, lesfic lists, LGBTQ lists. I don't exactly remember where I turned up Cristina Sánchez-Andrade's The Winterlings. From the blurb, it could have been any of several. The description sounds as if it's being pitched as a "literary novel" (in the genre sense) but I most likely found it recommended in an SFF context.

Galicia, Spain’s northwest region, in the 1950s. After a childhood in exile, two sisters return to their grandfather’s cottage for the first time since his shocking murder during the civil war. “The Winterlings” try to keep their dark secrets buried and carve out a peaceful existence in Tierra de Chá, an idyllic village host to a cast of grotesque but charming characters: a powerful psychic, a madman who believes he is a bus, a woman who refuses to die and the obese priest who heaves up a steep hill each day to give her last rites, a cross-dressing dentist who plants the teeth of the deceased in his patients’ mouths. Tension mounts when the sisters, once united by their passion for Hollywood cinema, compete for the chance to stand in for Ava Gardner in the nearby filming of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. Meanwhile, a mutual suspicion develops between the mysterious sisters and the eccentric villagers: Why have the women returned, and what are they hiding? What perverse business arrangement did the townspeople make with their grandfather, and why won’t they speak of his death? Enchanting as a spell, The Winterlings blends Spanish oral tradition, Latin American magic realism, and the American gothic fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Shirley Jackson into an intoxicating story of romance, violent history, and the mysterious forces that move us.


Sometimes categorization of books can be confusing...or even feel misleading. Readers rarely approach a book without a "reading protocol" (to use Samuel Delany's term). Should The Winterlings be read through a fantasy lens? A magical realist lens? Or simply as a realistic story that may surprise you? The Alpennia novels have a tendency to confound expected reading protocols, whether the reader expects a romance novel, a lesfic novel, a swashbuckling fantasy, or a tale of magic. Mother of Souls breaks even the tenuous expectation of a romance plot that the previous books offered. If I could advise readers, I'd beg them to read Alpennia simply as stories of complex human beings, seeking purpose, connection, and community. If you find love, magic, and adventure, consider it a bonus.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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By delightful coincidence Claudie Arseneault's book Viral Airwaves is not only a November 2016 release (for the 2nd edition) but will be on sale this week. Check Claudie's blog for details.

Henry Schmitt wants nothing more than a quiet life and a daily ration of instant noodles. At least until he learns the terrible secret that drove his father away—the Plague that killed his mother and ravaged his country was created by those now in power. He has one chance to help expose the conspiracy: a ragtag band of rebels needs a pilot for their hot air balloon, where they can launch a broadcast revealing the truth. If Henry accepts, he can experience his dream of flight. But he would have to leave his safe, tranquil life behind … and bring the wrath of a corrupt government upon his head.


I'm always delighted when I have an opportunity to promote the work of writers who are also fans of the Alpennia books. Claudie featured the series several month ago in her occasional twitter series #indiemanche (it's a bilingual pun) that promotes the work of indie authors and creators. She has also created a database for science fiction and fantasy with characters on the asexual and aromantic spectrums.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that--like the third Alpennia novel, Mother of Souls--may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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One of the awkward things about re-booting November books is that several of them have been clearly marketed for the December holiday season. I decided to slip this novella by Tansy Rayner Roberts in anyway and do a two-fer by also mentioning the novel it's linked to, Musketeer Space (even though that isn't a November release). Gender-swapped musketeers in space? If that sounds like your catnip, this was written for you.

It’s festival time on Paris Satellite: a seven day whirl of drunken bets, poor decision-making, religious contemplation and tinsel. But mostly, poor decision-making.

Porthos and Athos aren’t going to sleep together, no matter what Aramis says. Aramis isn’t going to marry her girlfriend, Minister Chevreuse, which probably means they’re breaking up. Athos is not prepared to be visited by the ghost of his dead husband. Oh, and the Duchess of Buckingham is totally not going to hook up with the Prince Consort thereby causing an interplanetary diplomatic disaster… right?

When a group of “festive terrorists” start inflicting traditions from a very different midwinter festival on the space station via nano-virus, the Musketeers and the Red Guard are expected to work together to protect Paris Satellite. This isn’t going to end well.

Joyeux is the prequel novella to Musketeer Space, an epic gender-swapped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers.


And here's the blurb for Musketeer Space itself:

“I haven’t got a blade. I haven’t got a ship. I washed out of the Musketeers. If this is your idea of honour, put down the swords and I’ll take you on with my bare hands.” 

Dana D'Artagnan longs for a life of adventure as a Musketeer pilot in the Royal Fleet on Paris Satellite. When her dream crashes and burns, she gains a friendship she never expected, with three of the city's most infamous sword-fighting scoundrels: the Musketeers known as Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

Even as a mecha grunt, Dana has a knack for getting into trouble. She pushes her way into a dangerous political conspiracy involving royal scandals, disguised spaceships, a tailor who keeps getting himself kidnapped, and a seductive spy with far too many secrets.

With the Solar System on the brink of war, Dana is given a chance to prove herself once and for all. But is it worth becoming a Musketeer if she has to sacrifice her friends along the way?


Adventures and duels and intrigues and the long, complex process of disparate personalities coming together to form a bond that goes beyond friendship! That was one of the atmospheres I wanted to evoke when I began writing the Alpennia series. My women lean more heavily toward intellectual duels and philosophical challenges, but there are still a scattering of swordfights, daring rescues, and breathless escapes. In Mother of Souls the stakes go beyond battles of honor to put the fate of Europe in play. And who would think that a composer's hidden mystical talents would prove the key?

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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It's fascinating how the different communities we live in will shift and intersect in unexpected ways over time. Way back in the early '90s Kathleen Knowles and I worked at the same biotech company. I went off to grad school and then to a different biotech company, and she went in other professional directions as well. And then one day I went to a bookstore reading in San Francisco and found we'd come back on an intersection course as authors of lesbian fiction. Two Souls is the most recent book in a loose series beginning with Awake Unto Me, and A Spark of Heavenly Fire, set in turn of the century San Francisco and involving a social network of professional women. Two Souls brings the series up to the 1906 earthquake, which is a guarantee of drama for any historical San Francisco story!

Abigail Eliot is a brilliant naturalist whose entire life is dedicated to her work. When she meets an earnest doctor, Norah Stratton who’s new to San Francisco, they start an unlikely friendship. When the 1906 earthquake and fire strike, they’re both caught up in the event in very different ways. Will their tentative connection turn to a lasting love or will San Francisco’s great tragedy drive them apart?


One of the challenges in writing lesbian historical fiction set before the mid-20th century is to show women in the context of a like-minded community. How did they find and recognize each other? How did they come out to each other in a context when indiscretion could destroy lives? And how did that closed and secret aspect of their lives affect their personal relationships? One of the challenges and joys I've had in writing the Alpennia series--including the most recent book, Mother of Souls--is to create networks of this sort that are as realistic and believable as the rest of the historic setting.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.


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I've listened to Lauren Beukes talk about her books on a number of podcasts. This collection--Slipping--looks like an excellent introduction to the range of her writing.

A Punk Lolita fighter-pilot rescues Tokyo from a marauding art installation. Corporate recruits harvest poisonous plants on an inhospitable planet. An inquisitive adolescent ghost disrupts the life of a young architect. Product loyalty is addictive when the brand appears under one’s skin. Award-winning Cape Town author and journalist Lauren Beukes (Zoo City, Moxyland, Broken Monsters) spares no targets in this edgy and satiric retrospective collection. In her fiction and nonfiction, ranging from Johannesburg across the galaxy, Beukes is a fierce, captivating presence throughout the literary landscape.


The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events. And I'm at a loss to come up with a clever way to tie in a reference to Mother of Souls on this one. Look: I wrote this fabulous book and more people should know about it and read it and tell their friends about how fabulous it is. That's all I've got this time.

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Back when my first novel was just barely out on the shelves, Tami Veldura interviewed me for the newsletter she sends out to her fans and readers. It meant a lot to me to have someone treat me like a real author at that point. I'm delighted to return the favor by featuring Tami's book Learning to Want as part of the Great November Book Release Re-Boot. It's an erotic story of dominance and submission in a science-fictional setting.

Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he's stranded on a desert planet he's never heard of, chained to the only other human around.

Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia's complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man's worth. He's struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.

Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn't here to play Atash's political games. He's going to escape, if his former employer doesn't see him killed first.


I really appreciate the way networks of independent and small-press authors support each other in carving out niches in the publishing market. In many ways, they're reminiscent of the networks of connections and support built by the women of the Alpennia novels to carve out a place in a society that sees them as lesser creatures. Mother of Souls features networks of all kinds: of blood, of desire, of aspiration, of common purpose.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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This is the only non-fiction post in the Great November Book Release Re-Boot: a biography of Barbara Grier, one of the founders of Naiad Press and a long-time lesbian activist. Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier by historian Joanne Passett chronicles her complex and jam-packed life.

Barbara Grier—feminist, activist, publisher, and archivist—was many things to different people. Perhaps most well known as one of the founders of Naiad Press, Barbara’s unapologetic drive to make sure that lesbians everywhere had access to books with stories that reflected their lives in positive ways was legendary. Barbara changed the lives of thousands of women in her lifetime.

For the first time, historian Joanne Passet uncovers the controversial and often polarizing life of this firebrand editor and publisher with new and never before published letters, interviews, and other personal material from Grier’s own papers. Passet takes readers behind the scenes of The Ladder, offering a rare window onto the isolated and bereft lives lesbians experienced before the feminist movement and during the earliest days of gay political organizing. Through extensive letters between Grier and her friend novelist Jane Rule, Passet offers a virtual diary of this dramatic and repressive era. Passet also looks at Grier’s infamous “theft” of The Ladder’s mailing list, which in turn allowed her to launch and promote Naiad Press, the groundbreaking women’s publishing company she founded with partner Donna McBride in 1973. Naiad went on to become one of the leaders in gay and lesbian book publishing and for years helped sustain lesbian and feminist bookstores—and readers—across the country.


Back when I started reading lesbian fiction in the 1980s, Naiad Press was one of the few companies publishing it, possibly the only one exclusively focusing on lesbian stories. Bella Books is something of a loosely-connected heir to Naiad, having picked up their inventory and continuing to publish many of their authors when the Naiad proprietors wanted to retire. That history was one of the reasons that Bella was at the top of my list when I was ready to submit Daughter of Mystery to publishers. As it happened, I didn't need to work further down the list. My most recent novel, Mother of Souls carries the heritage of a pubishing line that first and foremost supports the right of fictional women to love other fictional women, without apology or flinching.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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There are many types of romantic adventures in the wide world, even within the confines of contemporary realism. Lorelie Brown's Take Me Home plays out an adventure that start with what must be a fantasy for many contemporary lesbians. No, not that sort of fantasy. The fantasy of figuring out just how thoroughly one can blow the minds of disapproving relatives in a single go.

"Thanksgiving arrives in one week and one day. Feeling hemmed in by parental expectations? Are they disappointed by your sapphic proclivities? I can help! The only pay I want is the holiday meal!"

I didn’t know what I was looking for until I saw her Craigslist ad.

I love my family. I’m lucky to have them—well, most of them. But my aunt? I’m so tired of her giving my mom crap because I happen to be a lesbian. So one pink-haired tattoo artist pretending to be my girlfriend will annoy my Christian fundamentalist aunt right back and make my Thanksgiving perfect.

Only . . . Brooke turns out to be cuter and more complicated than I expected. And before you can say “yorkiepoo,” we kiss . . . and abduct a dog together. I want to keep them both—but Brooke isn’t the kind to be kept. Lucky for me, I’m the kind to chase what I want.


How times change! The characters in Mother of Souls are usually more concerned with flying under the radar--and essential component of happiness for a queer woman in the early 19th century. And Antuniet Chazillen wasn't specifically intending to shock Rotenek society in general, and her cousin Barbara in particular, when she embarked upon her new Great Work of alchemy. Margerit Sovitre wasn't intending to shock the dozzures of Rotenek University when she opened her women's college. Luzie Valorin never meant to shock anyone at the debut of her opera on the life of the philosopher Tanfrit. And yet somehow they all turned the world upside down.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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I suppose I'm cheating a little by including Naomi Novik's League of Dragons in this series, because technically the hardback was released in June. But the mass market paperback was a November book, so that's my excuse. And it isn't that Novok's Hugo-finalist series needs any extra publicity boost from me, but it's an opportunity to tell an amusing story about the power of the knowledgable independent bookseller. Back when the first book in the Temeraire series had been out for a little while, I wandered into my local SFF bookstore, The Other Change of Hobbit (now, alas, out of business) and while I was browsing the relatively new releases I idly remarked to Tom Whitmore that I was trying to remember the title of a new book that various friends thought I might like. He instantly handed me a copy of His Majesty's Dragon and I recognized it as the title people had been recommending. That was the extent of the clue: "a new book my friends thought I might like" and Tom's familiarity with my reading habits as a long-time customer. That's what we lose when we lose face-to-face independent booksellers. (P.S. They were all correct about me liking the book.) League of Dragons is the final volume in the Temeraire series.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all—if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart.

Aware of his weakened position, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country—and the ferals, loyal only to themselves—vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa—and even by England, whose dragons have long rankled at their disrespectful treatment.

But Laurence and his faithful dragon soon discover that the wily Napoleon has one more gambit at the ready—one that that may win him the war, and the world.


This blog series is all about recommending books, or at least featuring them (when I don't know enough about the specific work to recommend it). The fate of brick-and-mortar bookstores is not the only handicap that non-bestsellers face. While the rise of electronic self-publishing and small specialty presses has meant greater access of marginalized authors to publication, it has created a vast array of books that will never have shelf space in a physical bookstore. Other than the lost Other Change of Hobbit, and Laurel Bookstore in downtown Oakland, I have only once seen any of the Alpennia books on a physical bookstore shelf. (Though I have reports of sightings from readers.) This makes reader recommendations an invaluable resource. I am massively grateful to those readers who have enjoyed my books, including the most recent Mother of Souls, and who have shared that love with others.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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