Release Blitz: Junior Hero Blues by J.K. Pendragon #YoungAdult #LGBTQ @JKPendragon @GoIndiMarketing @ninestarpress

Title: Junior Hero Blues

Author: J.K. Pendragon

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/29/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 58400

Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBTQIA+, Action/adventure, Coming-of-age, Criminals, Enemies/rivals to lovers, Geeks, Humorous, Interracial, Law enforcement, #ownvoices, Superhero, Young adult

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Description

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.

Excerpt

Junior Hero Blues
J.K. Pendragon © 2021
All Rights Reserved

When I woke up, my mask was lying beside me on the ground, and I felt like my entire head had been squeezed like a pimple.

It took me a few minutes to get my bearings, and by the time I realized the Raven was there with me, she was putting my mask back over my eyes and checking my vitals. Masks have a way of obscuring expressions, but I could see her jaw was tight and her lips were even thinner than usual.

“What happened?” I groaned, my voice raspy. I was starting to get memories back, of the smoke and explosions of the battle, and of him. That bastard smashing my head into a mirror—I raised a hand to my forehead and felt crusted blood through my glove—and then of us fighting, and of a rather unheroic rage that had come over me as we did so. The last thing I remembered was my hands on either side of his head, shooting sonic waves into his ears so hard his eyes were rolling back, and his big meaty hands around my neck, squeezing me into darkness.

“Don’t know.” The Raven’s ambiguously Slavic accent was harsher than normal. “I found you here, with your mask off. Who did it, do you know?”

“Yeah.” I coughed. “Who do you think? Jimmy Black.”

*

I guess I should back up a bit. Jimmy Black was my sworn enemy, if you go for dramatics like that (I totally do), and I’d met him before all this crap with the Organization started. I’d been on a date with Rick Rykov. My first date. Ever, that is, and I was pretty convinced the whole thing was a setup to make fun of me, because that would be typical. But then Rick actually showed up at the café, and we sat there for twenty minutes drinking coffee and discussing our lives like regular people, and there was absolutely no sign of the whole thing being a prank or some plan concocted by him and his friends to humiliate me.

I mean, aside from being gay, Rick was, like, standard bully material. He was a football player, even—six feet of lean teenage muscle and popularity. And I have a theory that being gay in high school just pushes your social standing to an extreme either way. Like, if you’re already popular, and then you come out as gay, you become this amazing, brave individual who inspires change (exhibit A: Rick Rykov). But if you come out as gay, and you’re that weird little Spanish dude who came to America in first grade and couldn’t speak any English, who decided to compensate for that fact by eating a bug in front of his entire class, which was never forgotten, ever, by anyone…

Well, see exhibit B: Javier Medina (that’s me, by the way). Skinny, brown, nerdy. I’m sure you can picture it. That, combined with my family not exactly being wealthy, meant I got picked on a lot in school, even before the bug thing, so I’m a little skittish. Or possibly a lot skittish. You decide.

So anyway, naturally, considering my rather extensive history with bullies, when a superhot, superpopular football player came striding down the hall toward me after class one day, my first instinct was to run away. Unfortunately, Kendall (who apparently has superhearing that I don’t know about) had overheard that Rick was planning on asking me out and grabbed my arm to keep me from escaping. She’s pretty heavyset, and I guess she was using her weight to her advantage, because I was basically rooted to the spot despite having, you know, moderate superstrength.

So then Rick strolled up, cool as you please, and introduced himself. Like, he full-on shook my hand. As if it were a job interview. And then he asked me out, and I was thinking I might be stupid enough to eat a bug, but I sure as hell wasn’t stupid enough to think that Rick Rykov was actually asking me out on a date. So I told him to eff off.

Yeah right. I actually said something along the lines of, “Uhh…you want to go…on a date? With me? Wh… Why?”

And he said, “Because I like you. I think you’re cute, so I thought we could get to know each other a bit better over coffee.”

At this point, I was basically giving myself whiplash looking around trying to see if I was in the process of being ambushed with the eventual intent to stick my head in the toilet. And then I got kind of angry because, like, here I was, busting my butt every single day to save people’s lives and keep the public safe. Screw putting up with this high school bullying crap.

So I decided I would go out with Rick, and if he or any of his buff football friends decided to try to pull one over me, I was just going to spontaneously snap and beat the crap out of them (or at least use my powers to pull some fun tricks with them) and plead temporary insanity to Captain Liberty after the fact.

Rick seemed pleased, and a little surprised I’d agreed. We set a date, and I went fully expecting to be doused with whipped cream, or laughed and jeered at, or at the very least stood up.

But Rick was there, leaning back in one of the little spindly café chairs that looked like it might break under his weight and sipping some frothy drink. When I sat, he shook my hand again, and then we just sort of…started talking.

Which I know isn’t a big deal, because, like, people talk all the time. But not me. I mean, I talk to Kendall, because she’s my best friend and has been forever, and we tell each other everything. I talk to my parents, in Spanish mostly, which is still a bit easier for me, funnily enough (although I’m sure you can tell I have an absolutely superb grasp of the English language). But with everyone else? It’s kind of like the fewer syllables I can use, the better. I mumble my way through life. I just can’t make myself say what I’m thinking most of the time.

So yeah, it was pleasantly surprising to be able to talk to Rick. He asked me questions and waited patiently while I answered them, and then offered information about himself. He lived with his parents in a really nice part of town, although pretty close to me, and had a sister and a cat. And I told him, a bit defensively, that I lived with my parents in a crappy little apartment that didn’t allow pets, and that my dad worked on computers and my mom worked at a gas station so we could have a little extra income. I was all set for Rick to be all judgey or awkward (or worse, feel bad for me) about my poorness, but he didn’t seem to care about that at all. He actually seemed to genuinely want to get to know me.

And then, just when I was starting to relax and believe that this was actually a thing that was happening and I wasn’t going to, you know, die, Rick’s phone rang. He had a sort of awkward conversation and said, looking really let down, “I’m sorry, I’ve got to go to work. Last-minute thing.” Then his face brightened up a bit. “But we should do this again sometime.”

I agreed, and he went off, and I was left sitting there for about ten minutes finishing my coffee and thinking. And then my phone rang too.

I should have figured it out right then and there.

It was the Legion dispatch, about as polite as ever, which is to say one step up from a robot. Actually, scratch that, the Legion AI was way friendlier.

So she was all, “There’s an incident downtown, not far from your location. Can you respond?”

And I figured why not, since I was pretty pumped at that moment, and anyway, it was my job. Like, I got paid for it and everything. So I told her I’d be there in two minutes, and grabbed my bag and headed out.

Now, listen up, because I’m going to let you in on a little secret about switching from your civilian clothes into your superhero getup.

The telephone booth thing?

Utter bullcrap.

I mean, maybe except for old pros like Captain Liberty. I’ve seen him change into his costume so fast it was as if he must have been wearing a tear-away outfit, complete with, like, origami cape and boots in his back pocket. But for the rest of us, it’s three-plus minutes of awkwardly hunching on top of a building—try even finding a telephone booth these days—ripping off your clothes and pulling on the parts of your costume that don’t fit under them, and then you have to try to fit everything, including your shoes, into your backpack. And then you have to look for a place to stash your backpack where it won’t be stolen or crapped on by pigeons or something.

And the Legion really does expect you to respond to a call within only five minutes. I don’t know why they haven’t invented some sort of quick-change technology. Maybe they have, and they just don’t make it available to Junior Heroes.

It’s a complete rip-off being a Junior Hero, by the way. You’re supposed to be only assigned to low-risk stuff, but half the time it’s just as dangerous as anything else anyway, and the rest of the time it’s freaking boring.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

J.K. Pendragon is a Canadian author with a love of all things romantic and fantastical. They first came to the queer fiction community through m/m romance, but soon began to branch off into writing all kinds of queer fiction. As a bisexual and genderqueer person, J.K. is dedicated to producing diverse, entertaining fiction that showcases characters across the rainbow spectrum, and provides queer characters with the happy endings they are so often denied.

J.K. currently resides in British Columbia, Canada with a boyfriend, a cat, and a large collection of artisanal teas that they really need to get around to drinking. They are always happy to chat, and can be reached at jes.k.pendragon@gmail.com.

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Release Blitz: A Queer Little Book of TAles by H.R. Harrison #LGBTQ #fantasyromance @mythstakes @GoIndiMarketing @ninestarpress

Title: A Queer Little Book of Tales

Author: H.R. Harrison

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/15/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Female/Female

Length: 125200

Genre: Fantasy Short Stories, LGBTQIA+, fairy tales, magic, medieval setting, royalty, coming of age, elves, aliens, dwarves, fairies, MM romance, MNB romance, nonbinary, transgender, autistic, deaf, Jewish, magical transformations, animal bridegrooms

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Description

A collection of queer fairy tale retellings for the discerning reader. Dive into a world both familiar and strange and meet a colorful cast of characters from all different backgrounds and upbringings, from princes and paupers to aliens and dwarves, from merchant sons to sign language interpreters. And fairies, of course. But it’s important to remember… most fairies aren’t fairy godmothers.

The White Cat follows the intrepid young prince Yufitri from across the Sea, who meets a mystical talking cat who offers to grant all his desires—even the call for a wife.

The Fairy’s Gift tells the tale of a young princess Wynn who was cursed by an evil fairy to… have the body of her dreams? Oh no, whatever shall she do? Save a neighboring kingdom it seems!

In From Stars They Fell, when a strange metal ship falls from the sky, an angel with dragonfly wings is left stranded in a strange land, and meets a young man who speaks with his hands.

When the angel takes the job of the young man’s interpreter, Oswin, he sets out to find new work. The Echoes of the Dead finds him stumbling across mysterious black ruins in the woods, inhabited by a scarred and quiet elf whose kindness hides a depth of despair.

In A Step Apart and a World Away, Naomhan, a duke’s son, who has always felt apart from the world, rescues a beautiful snake, who turns into a beautiful man promising rewards for Naomhan’s kindness. But Naomhan wants only to disappear.

And In the Shade of the Tree of Life ends the collection with a tale of anxiety and heartbreak, when a tailor’s apprentice of maligned background falls in love with a hermit of a prince.

Excerpt

A Queer Little Book of Tales
H.R. Harrison © 2021
All Rights Reserved

The next day, Yufitri woke to gentle hands shaking his shoulder and pointing toward a set of unfamiliar clothing folded atop the chest at the foot of the bed. Two pairs of hands helped him undress, then put on the foreign clothes. A short shirt with tight sleeves and short pants came first, and then a longer shirt that ended at his knees and buckled at the waist. It had tight sleeves only to the elbow and then fell open, dangling strangely around the long sleeves of the first shirt. And to finish, soft deerskin shoes.

He felt like his top half had been overstuffed, leaving legs oddly bare, but he found, as he acclimated to the unfamiliar clothing, he was much warmer. A long cloak was draped over his shoulders and fastened with a pin.

Now that he was fully dressed, the hands gave him a gentle push toward the door and led him down to the dining hall. The white cat sat at the head of the long table, sitting primly on a velvet cushion so it could look over the empty dishes. The rest of the table, save for one seat, was filled with other cats of varying size and color. Their eyes, jewel-bright and glittering, watched him as he entered. He was a bit intimidated but took the empty chair beside the white cat and sat to its right.

Green eyes gleamed at him, and the cat inclined its head politely. “I am glad the clothes suit you, king’s son. Don’t worry; you can have yours back when you leave. I am having them washed.”

“Did they offend?” Yufitri couldn’t help a smirk.

The cat seemed to smile, its eyes narrowing softly. “A little. Cats have delicate noses.” The rest of the table started to purr, presumably in amusement. The food emerged from the kitchen, carried by the floating hands. He was surprised how quickly he was getting used to them.

However, he was not excited to see the plates contained an opening course of roasted mouse. The cat saw his face and called a pair of hands over with a paw. “Make sure our guest gets his proper meal,” it said. “I will not be the sort of host who serves food unfit for human consumption.”

The hands came together and dipped forward as if bowing and returned to the kitchen.

In a moment, there was a bowl of warm soup in front of Yufitri, white and steaming. “Milk and potato are the main ingredients,” the cat said comfortingly. “No mouse or rat has touched it.” A purr snuck into its voice. “Though I can do nothing about the cat hair. A hazard of a cat-ruled kitchen, you see.”

“I…also do not consume swine or cow, dear cat. Though I’ve no such objection to accidental fur.” He smiled.

“I shall have a note made.” Sure enough, it told the nearest set of hands to inform the kitchen. Yufitri watched, marveling, as two hands came together and reshaped into quill and parchment. Another hand wrote the note and, when finished, rolled it up, and flew off into the kitchen.

The potato stew was excellent. Two large birds served as main course, each carried by two sets of hands. Well-mannered cats cut slices off with their claws and took only small bites. The white cat, the politest of them all, patted delicately at its face and whiskers with the napkin from beside the plate.

After the meal, the rest of the cats leapt from their chairs and returned to whatever their business they had, leaving Yufitri and the white cat.

“Would you care to join me in the drawing room?” asked the cat.

“I would be glad to,” he said.

It jumped off the cushion and landed primly on its feet, looking back at Yufitri. “I am curious about whatever quest brought you to this strange land, and I’m sure you have questions for me, though there is little I can answer.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

H.R. Harrison is the penname of an unfortunate soul whose ancestors opted to Americanize pronunciation… but not spelling.

She has worn a lot of hats in her day jobs, but always spends a lot of time thinking about communication, language, and how words… word.

She has a love for fantasy, mythos, and genre subversion, and that is what drew her toward writing LGBTQ fantasy. She also tends to fall into research pits while trying to write. Therefore, she knows a lot of random trivia about a lot of random topics.

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