Today I am so pleased to welcome Dawn Cutler-Tran to Joyfully Jay. Dawn has come to talk to us about her latest release, An Epic Construct. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


My choice to become an author was partially rooted in getting COVID-19 in March 2022 and having nothing to do but stare at the same four walls for almost four weeks. It is also, more than partially, rooted in coming out as nonbinary during the pandemic. I was browsing through gender queer TikTok, reddit, and blogs and the idea of not just this book but both books in the series hit me like a ton of bricks.

This story is not based off of my own experience with coming out as nonbinary, but rather it incorporates many experiences I have had, heard, and read about and applies them to a fun romance novel. My hope is that this book is a learning experience for some outside of the LGBTQ community, an opportunity for many of those in the community to see themselves in the pages of a fun romance, and of course, a good time to read.

This excerpt comes from the moment Penelope and Riley first meet in person and captures their personalities as they begin their dating adventure.


A handful of people were already sitting on bar stools, so Penelope slid into one of the only available seats and flagged down the bartender. She ordered a rum and coke, hoping the sugar would somehow calm her nerves, no matter how counterintuitive that might be. She was about to pull out her phone to fiddle away at nothing when a soft voice called her name.

She turned to look at the man sitting to her left and found he looked quite familiar. His sharp features were somehow muted in the bar light, but his eyes were still a striking green. His hair looked darker in this light than in his photos, but she could still catch little sparkles of blonde.

“Oh! Riley! You’re—early!” she stuttered out, stumbling and tripping over every syllable, nearly shouting at the poor man.

“I am. I’m sorry. I was… a little nervous about being late and getting lost, so I thought I’d get her early and get a drink and relax.”

She noticed then that he was wearing a crisp V-neck sweater over a button-down, on top of dark slacks. He looked much more put together than she felt, and she hoped her blush wasn’t too visible.

On top of how nicely dressed he was, Penelope realized with a sinking feeling that his photos didn’t do him justice. He was stunning, all long-limbed and slender. He reminded her of the elegant crane that sometimes frequented their local park.

“Oh no, please don’t apologize. I was just plain nervous, so I thought I’d also get a drink and try to be less nervous, but that has clearly backfired. I mean—not that I’m not excited to see you, because I totally am, I just… you know… wasn’t ready to do the whole talking thing. Except like. To myself. In my head.”

Penelope knew she was rambling, and the bartender thankfully came to her rescue, sliding over her drink which she immediately brought to her lips so she wouldn’t be tempted to speak again.

“Would you… I mean… would it be weird if we just took a few more moments to ourselves? I know we weren’t supposed to meet until five thirty, so maybe we just take the next twenty minutes like we had both intended? I have to admit… I wasn’t quite ready to socialize either.”

Penelope noticed an endearing blush creep across his cheeks, which didn’t bode well for the visibility of her own burning cheeks. On Riley it was kind of cute, though. It helped release some of her tightly wound muscles.

“I don’t think that would be weird at all. In fact, that would be kind of perfect. I think I only need ten minutes to get myself together, but I’m happy to give you twenty?”

“Ten it is,” he said gently, raising his glass to her and then purposefully tilting his stool away from hers.


Is a LGBTQ+ friendly dating app the answer to all of Penelope’s dating woes? Within a few minutes of swiping, Penelope matches with the mysterious, yet charming Riley, who identifies as queer, but is slow to open up about his sexuality… and everything else.

As Penelope explores dating again, she gets the opportunity to MC a drag brunch, in full drag king regalia. For a long time, Penelope has suspected she might be nonbinary, but that feels like something she’ll sort out on her own eventually… right? The drag brunch is a smashing success, and she meets a beautiful woman in the audience named Taylor. They begin forming a deep connection in their queerness and Taylor supports Penelope as she finally begins to explore her gender identity.

Penelope begins to notice similarities between Riley and Taylor, in the way they think, the way they talk, and most importantly in the way they make her feel. What if the two people she’s falling for are more than just amazing, what if they’re her soul mate? Follow Penelope’s journey as she navigates the ups and downs of dating, self-discovery, and the search for love and acceptance in a hilariously complicated and ultimately satisfying, queer love story.


Dawn Cutler-Tran is an avid board gamer and rock climber who lives on the East Coast of the United States but loves to travel to places near and far as often as she can.

Dawn has always identified as queer, but during the pandemic she finally discovered she was nonbinary (she/they pronouns) and came out to family and friends. This book was part of that process, and she has loved exploring different genderqueer identities like her own through her writing, reading, research, and countless hours watching reels and videos on social media.

Her biggest hope in writing queer fiction is to provide at least one other person out there with characters and story lines that they can recognize themselves, or their friends and loved ones in.


Dawn has brought a $10 Amazon gift card to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Wednesday, March 15th at 11:59 pm ET.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.