Now is the time to support stories celebrating the intimate lives of queer girls and women. Because, what could be more revolutionary than claiming your happiness?
Where are the all happy queer girls in fiction? So often, queer and trans characters are used as a punchline in stories, or as supporting actors. Shine Shine Shine celebrates bright, complex, and imperfect characters. No sad endings!
Join me and Unbound Press to center queer and trans girls as independent, interesting, complex people.
Pas De Deux : She moves close to me, really close. I can feel the breath coming out of her body. “Here, you be me and I’ll be him.”
The Voice of Edith : Every one of my senses was trained on the entwined forms of Katz and Edith, listening for the subtle movements of their bodies, their murmurs and whispers, the sofa’s creak as they slowly uncoupled.
Roommates : Our place smelled like heaven, to me, like powdered sugar and Meyer lemon rind, all mixed together in a sweet almond paste. One time she made a whole tray of cream puffs, filled with some kind of huckleberry cream and glazed with honey, sprinkled with bee pollen and raw sugar. Fairy food.
Field Medicine : I laid the King of Cups next to the Tower. It was a gentle card that promised a balance of masculine and feminine energy: together, the two might suggest that it was time to heal imbalances, or find a calm anchor in a storm of anxiety.
How To Be A Better Metamour : It was hard to say no to Mark’s bed, but it was summer and Josie didn’t want to get all sweaty, and besides, once they started fucking it was so hard for her to stop, she’d spend all day in his bed in the loft of the carriage house, with the skylight open to let the fresh air in and her happy sounds out.
Venus Conjunct Saturn : Kate wasn’t a cheater, she told Angie, right from the start. She couldn’t help it that people were attracted to her. And even early on, Angie was super attracted, so this was proof that what Kate said must be true.
The Shine of the Ever : She stuck out her fruit-blackened tongue. Her lips were purple. Her shoulders were pink and dappled with fresh freckles. Overhead, the fat bumblebees spun, harvesting nectar. My hand buzzed along the cartilage of her ear.
Seeing yourself, whether it’s on screen or on the page, is a powerful experience. Yet, so many of the roles written for queer and trans girls are reductive, limited, and depressing. Where’s the fulfillment? Where’s the happy ending? Shine Shine Shine challenges popular ideas about queerness, and expresses what it’s like to live in a culture that doesn’t know how to see queer and trans girls as whole, powerful, and human.
When I started out as a book reviewer a decade ago, a lot of the books I read were romances. There were plenty of gay couples, and even a few queer and trans characters. However, I was shocked to learn that the vast majority of these stories were written by straight women. Was this really how people see us? I thought. As I slowly came out, and learned more about my identity as a queer, trans person, I realized that representation---and especially representation in fiction---was super important.
Shine Shine Shine will move you. If you fund me, you’re helping support a very special book that just might change the world---and light it up just a tiny bit, for someone who needs to feel that they belong, too.
For US Customers
Unbound, along with its warehouse and distributors, are based in the UK. Unfortunately the cost of shipping books to the US from the UK are substantial. Please note that we do not make a profit from our shipping and are always searching for ways to make it more affordable for our customers. We've also added a digital bundle reward level, for which there is no shipping charge.
Amanda wasn’t even pretty, but she knew how to work it. I watched her get ready for yet another Tinder date, leaning in the bathroom doorway while she applied her makeup. Her nose, too heavy for her heart shaped face, got a couple lines of contour. She combed her eyebrows with a tiny, dry mascara brush and penciled them. It was a casual, first time date, so she didn’t put on the individual fake lashes, which looked to me like disembodied tarantula legs, preserved in a plastic vanity bubble. She was a lot shorter than me, and I could see the sandy roots of her hair coming in. She took out a powder puff and started to blend out the layers and lines, making a smooth mask that was both just like her face and nothing like it at all.
“How am I doing?” she muttered, pressing her lips together.
“What are you wearing? The black top again?”
She blinked, exaggerating her eyes like a doll’s. “Probably. And my boots.”
Men loved those boots, and she knew it. She called them her catnip . They were fake Louboutins, the red soles peeling off. They gave her about four or five inches and made her walk with a sexy swivel, totally different than the heavy kitchen clogs she wore for work every day.
“Breaking out the big guns?”
“Hardly. Anyway, he’s cute. And tall. Take a peek.”
I picked her phone up off the sink and put in the passcode. She had the app open to his photo. Six foot five, green eyes, athletic build. A man of few words, from the bio. Probably stupid.
“He looks like your type,” I said. I flicked through the photos. Man with three similar-looking friends. Man in sports jersey. Man holding someone else’s baby. Man with fish. The usual. “Does he eat carbs?”
“I don’t date boys who don’t eat carbs,” she said, and turned to pluck the phone from my hand. She whisked the makeup brush across the tip of my nose. “Seriously, Amit, you should come out sometime. All you do is work.”
I went into the kitchen without answering her, turned the stove on even though I didn’t really want to drink tea. I was on the schedule for that night, actually, but hadn’t mentioned it to Amanda. I didn’t like coming home after the night shift and smelling her sex through the apartment. She brought these men over on the first night, left lipstick stains on my wine glasses, let them sleep in her bed until late morning. When I stopped telling her when I was going to be gone, there were no more mystery guests. That was our unwritten agreement: she could fuck whomever she wanted, but not where I could hear it.
“Would you zip me?”
She trotted after me, heels clicking on the bamboo floor tiles. She turned around and presented me with her bare back. She was scented with Chanel Mademoiselle and baby powder. Catnip. The zipper teeth were jammed, so I picked at the seam until it loosened, then eased the tab carefully up.
“This is getting tight,” I said. “It was baggy on you a few weeks ago.”
“I think I put it in the dryer by accident,” she said, pushing her bleached hair over her shoulders. It was styled in crispy curls. Her selfies were fabulous, and when I saw her all made up like this, I noticed the components of her face that made her so striking: the wide set eyes, bow lips, and delicate brows. Men, she told me once, didn’t notice subtle things like artificial cosmetic colors or shapes. They couldn’t differentiate between an unnatural blush and a real one; all they knew was that they liked it. Amanda knew it. Amanda could work it.
“I can’t believe you don’t eat everything in sight at the restaurant,” I said. “I would weigh a ton.”
“My last date told me I smelled like apple pie.”
“Fringe benefits.” She winked at me over her shoulder, took her bag, and checked her phone. “My Uber’s here. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Be safe,” I said, like always, like it ever made a difference.
I have perfected the art of acting straight. In locker rooms, or when I’m shopping, or even on the street, I know how to talk to women in a way that suggests I am like you and I am not a threat. The best way to do it is to sweeten my voice, make it higher, and offer compliments that include the words so cute. I always mention my boyfriend, who is an imaginary person, or my partner, who doesn’t exist unless I close my eyes, and I see Amanda, taking up the whole bathroom or leaving her clogs in the middle of the floor, or scrolling through the Humane Society website and crying because of all the dogs nobody will adopt, or forgetting to put the groceries away so that the frozen things all melt into separate lumps in their plastic and cardboard containers, or making my bed for me as a surprise and leaving a handful of pansies in the middle of it, or feeding me a bite of buttercream frosting on the end of her special icing spatula. Six years of both our names on the mailbox.
My imaginary boyfriend is taller than me and doesn’t mind that I look like a dyke. He likes athletic women, I tell the girl changing next to me in the locker room, trying to keep my eyes away from her breasts when they pop out of her sports bra. Mine’s like that too, she says, as though commiserating. I wish I could just let myself get fat, quit the gym. Acting straight means nodding when women describe the lengths they go to catch a man, keep him, and please him.
This stranger’s breasts were practically in my face but we didn’t see each other. When I act straight, my personal space disappears. Men touch me without asking. Women don’t mind standing too close to me. Erasing myself seems like a small price to pay for feeling less alone.
Many, many thanks to the 62 friends who have helped boost my project! I'm only a few books away from my first funding milestone. If you bought a digital copy, please consider upgrading to a hardcover or a give-one-keep-one option. Your support helps bring this book to life!
When you buy a second copy of Shine Shine Shine to donate to an LGBTQ group, I'll sing you a song on my ukulele. (Yes, I'm…
"Once you see yourself on the page, you can't unsee it. That's why representation is so important."
#IndieVoices host Howard Lovy interviewed me about Shine Shine Shine, the vital experience of seeing yourself in fiction, and how Unbound works for authors. My segment starts at 14:31. Thanks for listening!
Hi, friends! Here's a little video I made while I was taking a break from my writing. I hope you like it.
When you pledge at the Donate A Copy level, which gives one copy of my book to an LGBTQ in your name, you can also make a song request. Do you love Led Zeppelin? Swoon for Eva Cassidy? Let me know, and I'll serenade you.
Hope you're having a good week.
These people are helping to fund Shine Shine Shine.