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SI Clarke has a new quirky queer sci-fi book out (ace/aro/agender): The Left Hand of Dog. And there’s a giveaway!
Escaping intergalactic kidnappers has never been quite so ridiculous.
When Lem and her faithful dog, Spock, retreat from the city for a few days of hiking in Algonquin Park, the last thing they expect is to be kidnapped by aliens. No, scratch that. The last thing they expect is to be kidnapped by a bunch of strangely adorable intergalactic bounty hunters aboard a ship called the Teapot.
Falling in with an unlikely group of allies – including a talking horse, a sarcastic robot, an overly anxious giant parrot, and a cloud of sentient glitter gas – Lem and the gang must devise a cunning plan to escape their captors and make it back home safely.
But things won’t be as easy as they first seem. Lost in deep space and running out of fuel, this chaotic crew are faced with the daunting task of navigating an alien planet, breaking into a space station, and discovering the real reason they’re all there…
Packed with preposterous scenarios, quirky characters, and oodles of humour, The Left Hand of Dog tackles complex subjects such as gender, the need to belong, and the importance of honest communication. Perfect for fans of Charlie Jane Anders’ Victories Greater than Death – especially ones who enjoy endless references to Red Dwarf, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. This book will show you that the universe is a very strange place indeed.
Warnings: anaphylactic shock, minor injury to a dog, this book is not for TERFs.
SI Clarke is giving away four eBooks with this blog tour:
Copyright © 2021 by SI CLARKE – All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Startled by the sound of movement behind me, I whirled around to face three … they had to be children in bunny costumes. ‘What?’ That’s what they had to be, right? I mean, they weren’t actually rabbits. Definitely not. For one thing, they stood upright. Real bunnies don’t normally do that, do they? For another, they were about the size of Spock.
But the costumes looked real in that no skin showed through – not even on their faces – and I couldn’t see any zips. Also, I was pretty sure rabbits didn’t come in pastel rainbow colours. Actually, they reminded me of a toy I’d had as a child. Bunnyboo, I’d called it. Four-year-old me was terribly inventive.
‘Check out your floopy-floppy ears! How adorable are you?’ Nervous sarcasm still intact then.
I was nauseated enough that shaking my head seemed like a bad idea. ‘It was beer I had last night, right? Not, like, psychedelic mushrooms? Maybe some natural tree spore that makes a person have trippy visions?’ No one answered me. Or even looked at me.
Spock sat neatly and dropped her brain in my lap. She lifted a paw towards the nearest of the bunnyboos – for want of a better word. The creature’s mint green fur matched the emerald hue of its humongous Disney princess eyes. ‘Yip,’ said Spock in her smallest, most polite voice.
This is not happening. I must be dreaming. Or hallucinating. Something.
Pulling a device from a holster like a carpenter’s apron, the bunnyboo pointed it at Spock. Or maybe it was merely reading what was on the screen – if it even had a screen. Who was I kidding? I had no idea what they were doing.
Another, slightly taller bunnyboo – this one periwinkle blue with eyes like Wedgewood plates – stepped forwards and ‘spoke’ to Spock as well. That is, its mouth moved and Spock’s full attention was on it. But no sound emerged. Spock yipped again in response to whatever it was I couldn’t hear.
Spock pointed at me with her long, sable nose then looked back at the bunnyboos and emitted a low noise, not quite a growl.
‘Would someone please tell me what the bollocking pufferfish is going on here?’ I demanded. Okay, not demanded. Requested. Well, pleaded. Whined, maybe. Whatever verb it was I verbed, no one paid me any heed.
The bunnyboos of my strange hallucination were too deeply engrossed in their silent conversation with my very real dog to spare me any of their attention. It was like watching a TV on mute – except I could hear movements and breathing and the sound of my heart beating a drum on the inside of my chest.
After a few further moments of this bizarre fever dream, Spock leapt down out of the coffin and turned to face me. She sat on her haunches and looked me in the eye. Then she lifted one paw at me in a clear imitation of the ‘stay’ command I used with her.
A bunnyboo with heather purple fur lowered a rope lead over Spock’s head. Spock stood and followed them from the room.
‘Where are you taking my dog, you fluffy bastards?’ I clambered out of the coffin-bed and scrabbled after them as fast as my besocked feet would carry me. But the thick metal door slid shut seconds before I got to it.
I pounded impotently on the door, screaming, ‘Spock! Come back. Don’t let those fuzzy arseholes hurt you.’ Unable to find a door knob or control panel or anything, I leant against the wall next to the door and slid down until I landed on my arse. I shivered and hugged my knees to my chest.
Why can’t I wake up? Letting my head fall forwards, I cried for a bit, whimpering Spock’s name periodically.
SI CLARKE is a Canadian misanthrope who lives in Deptford, sarf ees London. She shares her home with her partner and an assortment of waifs and strays. When not writing convoluted, inefficient stories, she spends her time telling financial services firms to behave more efficiently. When not doing either of those things, she can be found in the pub or shouting at people online – occasionally practising efficiency by doing both at once. As someone who’s neurodivergent, an immigrant, and the proud owner of an invisible disability, she strives to present a diverse array of characters in her stories.
Author Website: https://whitehartfiction.co.uk
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/clacksee
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/clacksee
Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/32693/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/SI-CLARKE/e/B082GXW66G/
Madeira Desouza has a new mm erotic sci fi serial story releasing on Kindle Vella – Baja Clavius: Dream Time for Moon Men. And there’s a giveaway!
This serialized story continues the science fiction time travel adventures from “Baja Clavius: Moon Men Deep Inside” written and illustrated by Madeira Desouza.
What’s it about? In the 23rd century a gritty, quasi-militaristic time travel agency located beneath the crater Clavius on the moon sends gay male agents on missions to the past on Earth.
The often immoral actions of the time travel agents are unrestricted by the agency which allows the agents free reign to alter timelines to prevent an impending self-destruction of human civilization coming in just a few years.
Madeira is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:
Having never traveled farther west than Wichita, an unexpected work opportunity to jet off to Las Vegas jolts into overdrive the imagination of a young man from Kansas. He is deep in sleep, carefully buckled in while reclining in his comfortable window seat in row number one within the crowded first-class section. The smooth, soothing rush of the cool, pressurized air inside the jet masks his awareness of his forward speed and his current altitude at roughly seven miles up in the sky.
As his jet touches down on the runway, he wonders in anticipation what may be awaiting him in the desert playground. The first few seconds as he walks from the aircraft that brought him to the Las Vegas airport, he is immersed in a literal sensory overload designed to force all arriving visitors to forget where they just came from. First, there is the unforgettable ringing of airport terminal slot machine chimes announcing unexpected winners who will start their stay in Vegas with a few extra hundred bucks in their pocket. Then, large overhead video screens in the baggage claim section shine down brilliantly colorful images that seem almost dreamlike.
However, what catches his attention is a video pitching a side-trip from Las Vegas to Amargosa Valley. He only recently learned of a ranch situated in that western edge of Nevada about a hundred miles from Las Vegas where his work assignment awaits. The young man spins around quickly as he stands next to baggage claim carousel number 22 because he cannot shake the eerie sensation of someone standing too close behind him. His surprised gaze comes into instant, direct alignment with the squinting blue eyes of guy about his same age. He immediately notices the blue-eyed guy has a handsome, chiseled face and he is dressed all in black in an apparent paramilitary-style uniform complete with thick black boots.
“Didn’t mean to startle you. I’m Josh Lorne. From the ranch at Amargosa Valley,” says the guy with blue eyes. “Supposed to pick up a writer flying in from Kansas.”
The young man in blue jeans, cowboy boots and a tight, bright orange t-shirt replies, “Great. I was told someone would meet me when I got here. I’m Lex—Alexander Sarkis, from Wichita.” Lex Sarkis watches the good-looking man clad all in black steps quickly away from the baggage claim area.
It is Thursday, the 11th day of October 2012, which will be remembered for rare, severe thunderstorms lingering over the entire Las Vegas Valley. Declan Andreas, a rugged-looking young man of Mexican and Greek ancestry also is arriving at the airport not far behind Lex Sarkis.
Someone who is known simply by his nickname of “the rancher” approaches Dec Andreas at the baggage claim area. He stands very tall in his large brown work boots. His head is graced with a large white cowboy hat that allows just enough of his curly light brown hair to fall downward toward, but not quite reaching, his thick, muscular neck. Dec Andreas concludes that the rancher’s impressive upper body especially deserves to be uncovered and admired.
Dec Andreas is dressed as if he wants to pass as a tourist. But Dec Andreas is not here in Las Vegas to visit casinos or to spend money gambling. He is not here for winning or losing anything. He retrieves a small rolling suitcase inside the vast luggage claim area. Nobody will care that Dec Andreas is attired like a tourist. This is the arrival point at the Las Vegas airport where everyone starts off on equal footing looking like everyone else. Looks don’t matter at the start. But then, the winning and the losing in Vegas changes all perceptions.
The rancher’s new, white pickup truck heads north and east away from Las Vegas. The severe weather remains over the valley but in the opposite direction from where Route 95 is taking the rancher and his guest, Dec Andreas. Soon the rancher nudges Andreas so he will notice the battered and worn sign by the right side of the two-lane highway that reads, Amargosa Valley, Nevada.
Lex Sarkis is already at the ranch and has discovered he is in serious jeopardy. He is reclining on his back upon a large metal and plexiglass chair upon a grey metallic floor. He is bound to the chair at his wrists, elbows, and ankles by shiny black straps of an oddly translucent polymer. He stares at a tall, horizontal screen that occupies most the area directly in front of him in the darkened room where he is confined to the large reclining chair. On the screen he sees a man who looks authoritative. Lex Sarkis can only observe the man on the screen from his shoulders to the top of his head, but the man’s familiar all-black paramilitary garment demands full attention.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Sarkis,” the man on the screen says while showing no emotion whatsoever.
“Where am I? Why have you restrained me?”
“Excellent opening questions,” the man responds with a slight smile. “You are being held in protective custody at the ranch in Amargosa Valley. I sent someone to meet you at the airport and give you a ride here. Something went wrong.”
“Went wrong? Why am I being held against my will?” Lex Sarkis asks with faked confidence as he struggles to free himself from the chair.
“Let me introduce myself. I am Edward Primero. I run the organization that owns the ranch. You are my guest, Mr. Sarkis.”
Lex Sarkis continues his unsuccessful attempts to wriggle free from the chair that tightly holds him. His torso muscles stand out vividly through his tight, bright orange t-shirt. “You sure have a strange way of treating your guests.” He stops talking and struggling to focus his attention on a thin metallic device connected to a slender, coiled white tube slide up in the air from the right side of the chair. A long, silver needle pokes out from the thin metallic device. When the long, silver needle stops mere millimeters away from plunging into his crotch through his blue jeans.
Madeira Desouza is a gay male author. He focuses upon telling stories about mature, masculine men who are sexually attracted to other mature, masculine men. He steers clear of several deeply embedded traits of American gay culture that can be found in film and in print–eccentric or flamboyant behaviors, alkyl nitrites, dance music, trendy clothing, trendy hair, gay men who think age 30 is old, and so forth.
Desouza’s creative works belong within the bara genre. This little word is shortened from barazuko. Translated from Japanese, it means rose-tribe, which was a code phrase for gay men. Originated in Japan decades ago as gay men created works for other gay men, this genre has not yet been widely embraced internationally. Perhaps this is because bara depicts same-sex feelings and sexual attraction to masculine, muscular men who sometimes behave in aggressive, violent, or exploitative ways towards one another.
As both a storyteller and digital artist Desouza explores conflicting and opposing compulsions that all men have. On one side there are impulses men have towards sustaining life, engaging in love, and being attracted to others. In the opposing direction are impulses men have towards being aggressive, engaging in violence, and, causing pain and death. For centuries, artists and storytellers around the world have found inspiration in these two opposing human compulsions that no man is able to resist or impede merely by his conscious will alone.
Author Website: https://bajaclavius.com/
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/madeira.desouza
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/desouzaofvegas/
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/machodesouza
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/desouzaofvegas/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4667238.Madeira_Desouza
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Madeira-Desouza/e/B008HL3B3C
Shawna Barnett has a new LGBTQ+ pirate fantasy book out (ff bi/ace): Windfall. And there’s a giveaway!
Captain Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fights. She fights the King’s Navy. She fights to balance power in oppressive Vioria. She fights for respect as a female, bisexual, pirate captain. But she’s losing her biggest fight: to escape her secret past as a lost Princess.
With a mysterious letter and a stranger threatening to expose her, Liana is blackmailed into attending a royal ball and protecting her counterpart, sheltered Princess Rhian. The pretenses are suspicious enough, but Liana takes the risk in hopes to finally unveil the magic plot that killed her parents and forced her into hiding.
When Liana encounters Rhian’s own lightning-wielding powers, the ball erupts in violence. The sheltered princess falls into the care of Liana—and her band of pirates. On the run, the only safe haven for the Windfall crew to hide is the most-dangerous place of all: under the thumb of Liana’s narcissistic, abusive brother-in-law.
In order to protect her crew, her family, and naïve Rhian, Liana must demand sacrifices from herself and the people she loves. Her choices will make powerful enemies; good thing Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fighting those.
Shawna is giving away a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card with this tour:
To Go on the Account
6th of Lengnath, 1715
The Capital of Caerwyn
A shadow crept around a stone archway, unseen by a passing pair of guards on patrol. The woman who cast it pulled down her hood and peered about. Her thick, unkempt black hair fell over her shoulders. A long cloak covered her curves, but she had flung it back to rest a hand on her hip, revealing a sword in its sheath. Her fingers, ruddy and coarse with use, pinched her bottom lip. She strained her ears to hear over the soft slaps of water in the harbor, the creaking of the ships’ hulls as they swayed, and the occasional caw of laughter from the nearby row of pubs.
Just as she began to wring her hands under the cloak, another duo approached. They weren’t dressed in soldiers’ uniforms, but sailors’ garb. She took a step forward and allowed her silhouette to be revealed. “There you are. What took you so long?”
“I’m sorry, Captain,” her quartermaster, Ameen Almasi, said, stopping at her side and turning on his heel to face his companion. “Our young friend was… distracted.”
The youth in question tucked his chin and smiled guiltily at his captain.
“Damn it, Squiddy,” she scolded. “Learn to keep up.”
Her expression softened to amusement as he scowled. His real name was Sava, but she’d settled on calling him “Squiddy.” Not much would be able to change her mind.
Ameen chuckled, deep and quiet. Sava looked much like a young Ameen—slight, lanky, and youthfully energetic. Ameen towered over him. He held his posture, straight and sure, lean with muscle gained by nautical labor. The boy still had some way to go before he would be able to carry himself so confidently. Tonight, he would have a chance to prove himself. She beckoned them to follow her.
The Capital of Caerwyn rose before them in layers, on a crest overlooking the sea. The docks formed its base, spanning out south, east, and west like the fingers of an outstretched hand. The rest of the city stacked upon the palm; rows upon rows of buildings, each one smaller than the width of the one below it. The Royal Palace stood at the zenith of this view, like a crooked mountain range, sporting banners of blue and silver. The ocean-side of the palace stretched out like the hand’s thumb, wide and thick.
“Liana,” Ameen breathed her name rather than her title. His voice plucked her from the high towers of the palace and steadily anchored her back to the alley behind the harbormaster’s office.
She looked about the alley to make sure they hadn’t been noticed creeping about. “This is it?” Sava’s voice cracked.
“Yes. Do you remember what you have to do?”
He nodded. Even in the dark, she could see him shake. Placing a firm hold on his arm, she looked into his face. His eyebrow twitched.
Liana breathed in deeply, nodding to invite him to mimic her. “You can do this.”
“I’m ready,” he said as he twisted a lockpick between his fingers.
The building had suffered some damage since the last storm season and was under renovation, therefore it had an outer shell of scaffolding that looked sturdy enough to climb. Ameen knelt to give Sava a lift, and he was off, scaling the walls as easily as strolling the streets. They watched as he reached the third story, settled himself on a beam, and picked open the window. He scrambled through it and disappeared.
Liana saw Ameen lift his hand to his chest, where a Circle of the Divine hung on a chain under his linen shirt.
“He’ll be alright,” she assured him.
His eyes grazed over her face, then downward. “You weren’t supposed to bring that.”
She followed his line of sight to the cutlass at her side. “It’s for protection, if we’re caught.”
“If we are caught, we agreed you would distract them while Sava and I get away. Soldiers won’t harm an unarmed Caerwyn woman.” He looked straight back at her expectantly with an extended hand, wagging his fingers. After a meaningful silence, she begrudgingly loosened her belt. He was right, after all. It was the reason she was wearing her Mass dress.
“Insubordination is what I call that, Almasi,” she spat. Her tone could cut as deeply as the blade she handed over. But Ameen knew her well enough not to be offended. He grinned, obviously pleased with himself. His amber eyes lit up as he caught her looking for a moment too long. Liana began to pace, her shoulder purposefully knocking against his side as a final jab. She didn’t need to look back to know he was still smiling.
The lighthearted energy between them evaporated as they heard a whistling call in the distance—a warning. Sava’s head emerged from the window. Liana waved for him to come down. In return, he made an exaggerated shrugging gesture and went back in.
“That stupid little—” She rushed to the base of the scaffold and gathered her skirts. “Lift me up, I’m going to get him.”
“You’re in a dress.”
“And whose brilliant idea was that?!”
Deep voices and the light of a lantern cut through the darkness. Despite the cool breeze, she began to sweat. She could hear the patrolmen at the front of the building now. They must have taken a shorter route than usual.
An object landed at Liana’s feet with a flutter and thud. She snatched up the book and flipped it open. The ledger was unreadable in the pale moonlight, but she knew it was exactly what they had come for. “Blimey, Squiddy! You’ve done it.”
“Who’s back there?” came a gruff voice from the front, cutting their victory short. The sound of the ledger’s landing had alerted the patrol.
Liana whirled around and shoved the ledger into Ameen’s hands. She unfastened her cloak and threw that at him as well. “Wait for him but go as quickly as you can.”
He tucked it under his arm with her sword. “Be careful, Captain.”
As she lifted her skirts and sprinted off, Sava was already halfway to the ground.
But, by the Divine, this dress!
She hadn’t gone to Mass in years and had outgrown the gown. Ameen had insisted on this particular one—the rest she owned were plain, albeit comfortable. She’d been a fool to think she could have climbed after Sava. Between the binding bodice around her torso and carrying the weight of the layers of the skirt, she was out of breath within seconds. Still, it made her distress all the more convincing as she collided into the chest of the soldier before her.
The man grunted in surprise and took a step back to steady himself. She clung to his dark blue long-skirted coat. His jaw unhinged.
“It’s a woman!” his friend declared.
“Thank the Divine you’re here!” she gasped out. “Th-these men had me cornered and robbed me!”
She gave a doe-eyed shrug, feigning helplessness. The soldier settled his hands on her shoulders. It made her feel uncomfortably small. The other one, a fair young man, threw himself in the direction she had come.
“It’s alright, ye’re safe now,” the soldier who stayed with her said, beginning to stroke her upper back. He had a slight Northern accent, and his features were darker than the other soldier. She arched away.
The fair soldier returned at a slower pace this time. “Whoever attacked you, miss, they’ve gone now. Likely pirates who’ve come to port for the season.”
“Thank you.” She spoke as demurely as her pride would allow. “I’ll be on my way, now.”
“Shall we escort you home—?”
“No!” She realized too late she had interrupted him. “No… Thank you.”
Shawna Barnett is a mother, life-long advocate and author of swashbuckling tales. After receiving a BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, Shawna worked in victim advocacy and behavioral health. Born in San Diego, California, her experiences have taken her all over the United States. After settling in Tennessee with her daughter, Shawna seeks to speak out through writing and contribute to a world where everyone is safe and respectfully represented.
Author Website: https://www.shawnabarnett.com/
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/sbarnettauthor
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/SBarnettAuthor
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sbarnettauthor/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20653893.Shawna_Barnett
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shawna-Barnett/e/B09235XR1H
J.S. Fields has a new lesfic fantasy (lesbian/non-binary) out: Foxfire in the Snow. And there’s a giveaway!
Born the heir of a master woodcutter in a queendom defined by guilds and matrilineal inheritance, nonbinary Sorin can’t quite seem to find their place. At seventeen, an opportunity to attend an alchemical guild fair and secure an apprenticeship with the queen’s alchemist is just within reach. But on the day of the fair, Sorin’s mother goes missing, along with the Queen and hundreds of guild masters, forcing Sorin into a woodcutting inheritance they never wanted.
With guild legacy at stake, Sorin puts apprentice dreams on hold to embark on a journey with the royal daughter to find their mothers and stop the hemorrhaging of guild masters. Princess Magda, an estranged childhood friend, tests Sorin’s patience—and boundaries. But it’s not just a princess that stands between Sorin and their goals. To save the country of Sorpsi, Sorin must define their place between magic and alchemy or risk losing Sorpsi to rising industrialization and a dark magic that will destroy Sorin’s chance to choose their own future.
Warnings: gore, body dysphoria
J.S. is giving away a signed paperback copy of “Ardulum First Don” OR “Ardulum Second Don (winner’s choice), open to anyone, anywhere in the world:
The short guard stepped to the doorframe, bit back a grimace, and tried to restart the conversation. “Apologies for the hour. We’re looking for—”
“She’s not here.” I cut him off, hoping to forestall awkward questions I couldn’t answer. “She left under the last full moon, for professional obligations. It is unknown when she will return. I apologize.”
“Are you her daughter then?” the short one asked.
My stomach twisted. I was no one’s daughter, and that word would stick in my chest for days. It would squirm there, under bindings and layers of clothes, and make me second-guess myself at the fair with every introduction and every awkward stare at my body. In that moment, I hated them, these two men, so sure of their position despite the mud and the hour. Daughter. No. I had never been one and had no intention of starting now.
“The alchemist,” I finished for him.
“I am her heir,” I said through gritted teeth when neither responded. “I have the queen’s last commission. Will you be taking it tonight?”
The men exchanged a glance, but neither answered. The second man sneezed, sending a spray of water across the threshold. I rubbed my palm on my forehead. If they were going to get the house dirty just by being outside, it made no sense for them to stay there. Bones were one thing; mud was just unprofessional. I stepped back and gestured to the small brown oak dining table—the one with the white streak down it where I’d first discovered what the refined, clear parts of bone oil could do to fungal pigments—and grabbed my cloak from the wall.
“Sit,” I said as I fastened the oblong buttons at the neck of the cloak. The men moved in with heavy steps, which grew increasingly hesitant as the fish smell concentrated. They sat and stared at me with disgusted, pained expressions as mud dripped from their boots onto that stupid handmade floor. I’d have to refinish it now.
I didn’t bother speaking again.
Let them sit in the bone oil stink, pooled in their own mud. I turned and left the house, heading to Mother’s woodshop. My feet crunched along the woodchip path, the ground cover damp but still springy. I tried to let the smells of the forest—especially the earthen smell of fungal decay—take my mind away from the word I so hated.
The men had parked their cart, and their ox, near the door to the longhouse Mother used for her shop, but I could still maneuver around it. The sun had already set, but moonlight streaked through the needled canopy of conifers and across my path. Ten short steps brought me to the double doors made from cedar plank. I stripped the padlock from the right door, the one that had been fastened since Mother’s departure, and entered.
I’d not been inside the shop for a month, and the smell of cedar and wood rot reminded me why. Here were my mother’s heart and legacy, as her father’s before her, and her grandmother’s before that. The whole place felt tattered and used and smelled worse than the bone oil.
In the back, near an old leather chair, was where her mother had been born some eighty years ago. To my right, just in front of a treadle lathe, was where my grandfather had died.
Mother had birthed her children here too—myself and the son she gave to another guild for an apprenticeship, and taken none of their children in return.
The whole building was familiar, like an old wool blanket, but scratchy just the same. This was a legacy of guild woodcutting, and the queen’s mandate of matrilineal inheritance, and I didn’t belong here. A woodcutter was not who I was, a daughter was not who I was, and while the former hurt less than the latter, both made me want to pull at my skin and scream.
J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. They enjoy roller derby, woodturning, making chainmail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans.
Author Website: http://www.jsfieldsbooks.com
Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/galactoglucoman
Tim Rayborn has a new bi urban fantasy book out, book one of the Qwyrk Tales: Qwyrk. And there’s a giveaway!
Qwyrk is having a bad day; several, in fact. One of the Shadow folk tasked with keeping an eye on humanity, she’s ready for a well-earned break in Yorkshire, but now she’s (literally) run into a girl, Jilly, who just saw something quite supernatural and truly awful happen in her town.
As Qwyrk tries to unravel the mystery, layers of villainy are exposed, and she’s stuck with an assortment of unlikely folk that she’d rather not have “helping” her.
Together, they confront ancient magic, medieval conspiracies, and the possible end of the world (that again?). It’s not the holiday Qwyrk was hoping for!
Aboyt the Series: Qwyrk is the first in a series of four novels about the adventures of a group of misfits at the edge of reality in modern northern England, a world of shadows, Nighttime Nasties, sorcery, intergalactic councils, tacky nightclub attire, an abundance of sarcasm, and even elves…though they are a bit silly.
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Booksamillion | Blackwells | Liminal Fiction | Goodreads
Tim is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:
Qwyrk and her friends sat on the slanted rooftop of the Ecklesons’ large old home a little later on, quite annoyed. Now they were just trying to avoid all of the clatter and the obnoxious human adults stomping around below. Jimmy’s second outburst had no doubt earned him a grounding for the next month. Mr. Eckleson had let out a few stern words that were decidedly inappropriate for young Jimmy’s ears.
So Qwyrk, and her mates Qwypp and Qwykk, sat and surveyed the scene. It was a nice detached Edwardian home, with a lovely yard. Well, it would have been lovely except that it needed more tending than the Ecklesons were prepared to give it.
An old rosebush had grown to quite a size, such that its thorny branches often grabbed people as they walked by, often to gasps of surprise that then turned to annoyance as new victims found themselves unable to walk any farther until they became untangled. Those that ventured forward to smell the roses risked never being seen again.
At least twice a month, Mr. Eckleson threatened to hack the whole thing down, but somehow, he always got distracted by other weekend activities, such as football on television. And secretly, he harbored a slight fear of the thing, as if it were watching him. He worried that if he cut it down, a mob of rosebushes might return one night to enact a brutal vengeance. Mr. Eckleson needed a bit more fresh air.
Yes, it could have been a charming entryway to an old house, even with the disagreeable rosebush. But the plastic pink flamingos that Mrs. Eckleson had brought back from their Florida holiday and displayed with pride out front ensured that “charming” was not a word on the lips of guests. So did the bright blue ceramic garden gnome.
So, the trio looked down on the yard now: gnomes, flamingos, petulant rosebushes, and all. Humans could only see them as shadows with glowing red eyes, but up here, all alone, they saw each other on their natural form, which was basically like humans, except for their pointed ears. Humans would probably be disappointed by that. The occasional human—like a witch, a druid, a shaman, or some such—who could see them in their true form called them elves or fairies, which the Shadows resented. Elves were pretty silly, after all.
“So… what are we looking at?” Qwypp asked. Her bright red bob haircut clashed with her blue overalls and purple Doc Marten boots in a noticeable way.
“The rosebush,” Qwyrk sighed, as she ran her hands through her short but oh-so-stylish blonde hair.
“The rosebush,” Qwypp repeated. “And we’re looking at this rosebush because…”
“Shhh! Did you see that?” Qwyrk interrupted.
“What?” asked Qwykk, curling a strand of her long, wavy brown hair around her finger, and smoothing out wrinkles in her new designer exercise outfit. She obviously prided herself on being the glamorous one of the three.
“One of the branches moved.”
“Oh. My. Goddess!” Qwypp exclaimed. “You mean they have… wind up here in the north? We got here just in time!”
Qwykk stifled a giggle.
Qwyrk shot both of them an angry look. “It bent a little, like an elbow, you idiots! The rosebush is taking on anthropomorphic qualities. I’m sure I just saw it.”
“Anthro-what?” Qwykk asked.
“It means it’s becoming animated, moving like a bipedal being,” Qwypp answered, looking quite proud of herself, and smiling a smug smile.
“I don’t care what its sexual orientation is! That’s its own private business,” Qwykk answered in an equally snooty voice, clearly trying to sound impressive.
Qwyrk sighed and rolled her eyes. “Look, let’s just focus on it for a while, all right? It may do something else. We have to find out.”
“I wonder how that would work?” Qwykk mused after another minute of the three of them watching in silence.
“How what would work?” Qwyrk knew she’d regret asking.
“I mean, if you was a rosebush, how would you know who you fancied? Like, what if you had a knob with thorns? That wouldn’t be very pleasant! And even if you did know, what could you do about it? I mean… suppose you liked the rosebush on the other side of the street, how would you know if it fancied you back? And even if you knew it did, how would you actually get over there to get a snog? It’s not like you could move or anything. And how would you actually snog? Like, with what? Rosebuds on your branches? And suppose you actually fancied the oak tree next door instead, well, that opens up a whole new set of problems!”
Qwyrk almost put her face in her palms. Almost.
“Why can’t we just go downstairs and do some yoga?” Qwypp interjected, and for once, Qwyrk was glad for her whining.
“I told you…” Qwyrk started.
“You didn’t, though!” Qwypp said, annoyed. “Just that you’ve got a job up here to do, because of some funny reports.”
“Yeah, Qwyrk, what’s up? You dragged us all the way up here from London, when we were going clubbing this weekend, and we have a right to know why.”
Qwyrk assumed a mock pleasant voice. “Look, here it is again, in small words, so you’ll understand: that big rosebush has been doing some strange things over the last couple of weeks. It’s been moving like a human, and people have also been seeing things like ghosts, goblins, strange lights, and apparitions in the neighborhood; there was even a little earthquake a few days ago. When a plant starts moving by itself, it’s usually not a good thing, and if there’re ghosts and goblins involved, and the earth starts rumbling, it doesn’t usually lead to snogs and chocolate. All clear now?”
“But what are we supposed to do about it?” pouted Qwykk. “Now I can’t use my VIP pass to London’s ‘Club Nitro Ibiza Hedonistic Fun Dome’ this weekend.”
“The council wants us to keep an eye on it for a bit, to watch over everything. Our mate Jimmy down there is making that a bit difficult and making me question the wisdom of that order. I’ve a good mind to gag him tomorrow night.”
“The fact that we’re the ones that scare the bejeesus out of most kids who see us is somehow lost on the council, eh?” snarked Qwypp. “I don’t make the rules,” Qwyrk answered. “I just follow them.”
Qwyrk did ponder the irony of it all. “Well, what can I say? Sometimes kids are up far past their bedtimes and spot us. Then they get more scared of us than of the dangers we’re supposed to be watching for.”
It’s time for a change in policy.
Tim Rayborn is a writer and internationally acclaimed musician. He plays dozens of unusual instruments that many people of have never heard of and often can’t pronounce, including medieval instrument reconstructions and folk instruments from Northern Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East.
He has appeared on over forty recordings, and his wanderings and tours have taken him across the US, all over Europe, to Canada and Australia, and to such romantic locations as Marrakech, Istanbul, Renaissance chateaux, medieval churches, and high school gymnasiums.
On the writing side of things, Tim lived in England for nearly seven years and has a PhD from the University of Leeds, which he likes to pretend means that he knows what he’s talking about. He has written several books and magazine articles about music, the arts, history, and business, and undoubtedly will write more (whether anyone likes it or not).
He currently resides in Northern California amid many books, antique music reproduction devices (i.e., CDs), instruments, and with a sometimes-demanding cat. He’s also rather enthusiastic about good wines, single-malt Scotch, and cooking excellent food.
Author Website: https://timrayborn.com/
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/timrayborn
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/TimRaybornMusicandWriting
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tim_Rayborn
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rayborn.esoterica
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3160656.Tim_Rayborn
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B00DWY5J8E
Some time a zillion years ago, I started a project for this blog on worldbuilding. What I didn’t know at the time was I was about to fall on my face. The day I made the first worldbuilding posr was the first day of several awful months that ended up with me in the hospital.
I never forgot the idea, but I have very little time for stuff, other than mindless gaming. That doesn’t take much effort. 😹
Anyway, I found a solution. I don’t have to do a blog series on worldbuilding, because someone has already done something better!
I’ve barely begun to play around with this shiny new toy, but I love it already. And tonight I’m going to start “moving in” for real. Can’t wait to get home and get busy!
Sionnach Wintergreen has a new MM paranormal historical fantasy romance out, Love Songs for Lost Worlds book 3: Infernal Hope. And there’s a giveaway!
Ex-necromancer Frank Hope risked his life to help his demon lover Kasimir return to his homeland, a dimension humans call Hell and Kasimir calls the Eternal Realm—a beautiful medievalesque land. Now, because Kasimir is the heir apparent to a vast, wealthy kingdom, the two live in luxury in a palace by the sea. But darkness haunts them.
Necromancers, humans sworn to capture and slay demons for Earth’s energy corporations to use as fuel, continue to strike the Eternal Realm. Strife between the Eternals’ kingdoms grows as well.
When war breaks out with a neighboring land, Frank and Kasimir are forced to make hard choices that threaten their relationship—and even their lives. Is their love truly meant to be? Will the universe that once smiled upon them turn against them?
This is the final book in the Love Songs for Lost Worlds trilogy and combines elements of fantasy, paranormal, and gay romance within the framework of an alternate 1980s world.
Warnings: Violence, gay bashing, suicidal ideation, foul language, explicit sex, light bondage, vomiting, suicide attempt and sexual assault
About the Series:
Kasimir, a demon boy, secretly watched a human boy, Frank through an interdimensional window. While Kasimir struggled with an abusive father, Frank grieved his father’s death. Little Kasimir watched…and fell I’m love.
Years later, Frank, who always felt like a loser, discovers he has a special power—commanding demons. That’s a valuable skill to corporations like DemonCo who slay and process demons to be used as fuel. When fate brings Kasimir and Frank together, they meet as enemies, but Kasimir believes they are destined to be lovers.
With themes of redemption, courage, and true love, this paranormal fantasy series is set in an alternate 1980’s Texas and the mystical Eternal Realm.
Sionnach is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card with this tour:
Palace of the Kingdom of the Onyx Moon
I hold Frank in the dark. He still has dreams of his former life, nightmares. He doesn’t usually wake up, he just fights things in his sleep, moving jerkily and making unintelligible noises. I put my arms around him and snuggle him against my chest. After a few minutes, he relaxes.
I relax, as well. I hate whatever things lurk in his past that disturb him so. We are living a beautiful life with each other. He seems happy—ecstatic even. But when he sleeps, he’s still pursued by whatever things haunt him.
Things haunt us here, but he is unaware of them.
He doesn’t know the Vanishings have increased, or that we stopped going to the village because the animosity toward him there had begun to worry me. When someone calls him a Necromancer, he corrects them happily—‘ex-Necromancer.’ He doesn’t realize that doesn’t matter to nearly everyone here. To my mother, Rahvel, Bedon, Varalica, and me, he’s a hero. To everyone else, he’s still a villain. And I know that would break his heart.
I’ve instructed Bedon and Varalica not to discuss the Vanishings in front of Frank. He’s blissfully unaware of how dangerous it is to live beyond the palace’s shields.
The only things he fears are in his dreams, and I will have it that way for as long as possible.
So I hold my beloved, and press my lips to his head, his face, and tell him ‘I’m here,’ in hopes my words create a lifeline to the pleasures he loves so much in our world.
I can’t fully partake in those pleasures myself. I love Frank dearly, but I can’t relax here like he does when he’s awake.
I’m free of my betrothal and want to frolic with Frank for as long as I can. I live in fear of the next time my father wants to forge alliances with my hand. Although I’m allowed a measure of say in such things, I still fear confrontations with my father. Frank has my heart, will always have my heart, but I worry how long our freedom will last.
However much I love being here with Frank, I never wanted this. When I Vanished from the Eternal Realm, when Frank summoned me, I was terrified. Once I learned I would not be processed for fiendium but would be his familiar, instead, I was actually happy. Not only was I with the man I had fallen in love with when we were children, I no longer had to worry about being king. I didn’t have to deal with my father’s constant mocking. All I had to do was love Frank.
Now, it’s all back on my shoulders—all of the responsibility, all of the abuse, and the prospect of being married off to someone else. Sometimes, I almost wish he hadn’t saved me. I wish he had gone to Eden and let me die.
I can’t tell him any of that. He’s haunted by enough without my adding worries. For now, there’s only us and our love.
Next day – The King’s Beach
I flop down on our blanket. “I don’t know if I’ll ever come again,” I tell Kasimir. “I’m all out.”
Kasimir turns over, his dazzling eyes alight with mischief. “Twenty minutes from now you’ll be all over me again.”
“Yeah, well…okay. But right now, I feel completely drained.”
“So do I. I wish it were lunchtime already. I’m famished!” He lifts up on one elbow. “You seemed to quite enjoy that sparkling wine yesterday. Would you like me to ask Bedon to get some more of that for us?”
Before I can answer, a man flies from the cliff above us and lands neatly next to us. He’s wearing the colors of the king, black and emerald green. Livery, I think I’ve heard Kasimir call it. I think he’s a messenger. His skin is darker than Kasimir’s, almost bronze, and his bat wings are nearly black. Like all of the eligos, he’s striking and handsome. And again, I feel like the luckiest guy alive, because Kasimir, surrounded by men who all look like underwear models, has chosen me.
It seems so weird now to think I was ever a Necromancer. That I ever worked for DemonCo and thought about killing Eternals to make fiendium. The human world runs on fiendium, on the lives of the eligos and all of the other inhabitants of this world. It’s just a world, like ours, but we somehow decided it was ours to pillage and justified our greed by saying they were demons, evil incarnate, when they’re actually just people and animals from another world.
I catch my snap, then. I haven’t actually been listening to what Mr. Bronze has been saying, but Kasimir stands up, raining sand, with an alarmed expression on his beautiful face. “I see,” says Kasimir. “I need to change clothes….”
“Wear your armor. They leave in an hour.” He turns toward the cliff and raises his wings as if to fly. “Oh,” he faces Kasimir again. “He said to bring your pet monster.” With that he flaps his wings and flies back toward the cliff.
Awww. Kasimir’s asshole father’s term of endearment for me. Great. What now? “What was that all about?”
“We need to fly back to the palace,” says Kasimir. His wings shoot out behind him. They look like giant hawk’s wings, feathered instead of webbed like most other eligos and copper striped with gold. They’re breathtaking. It doesn’t matter how fucking awesome they are, however, I still hate flying. I endure it, but it still makes me feel faint. I hate heights, which kind of sucks when the love of your life has wings.
“What’s going on?”
He spreads his arms so I can hug him while he carries me. “Father is confronting an army from the Kingdom of the Red Moon. He wants us to ride with him.”
I’m Sionnach (prounced SHUHN ukh) and I’m a trans male author of romance and fantasy. Most of my books are gay romances because they’re so much fun to write. Opposites attract is my favorite trope with hurt/comfort right behind it. Few things are as fun to me as bringing men to life and pushing them into each other’s arms. I love happily ever afters and believe true love is absolutely real.
Before I started writing full time, I volunteered as a grant writer for animal rescue nonprofits. I love animals, and they inevitably find their way into my stories. I share my life with my husband and seven spoiled cats. I’m also the emotional support human to a crazy husky. He/him
Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010515095870
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/everwintergreen
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/sionnach-wintergreen/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sionnach-Wintergreen/e/B01FOU8PS4
Dahlia Donovan has a new queer cozy mystery out (ace, biromantic, lesbian), Motts Cold Case Mystery Book 2: Pierced Peony. And there’s a giveaway!
On a casual walk along the Cornish Coast, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley stumbles upon a body and a perilous new murder case in the second novel in the Motts Cold Case Mystery series.
As spring rolls into summer, Motts settles into her cottage. She’s enjoying a daily stroll when a body in the sea destroys her peace and quiet. It brings yet another mystery for her to solve.
How does a woman who vanished from Polperro three years prior wind up battered by waves?
Motts is drawn into the investigation despite her best attempts. She finds a family in turmoil and loads of suspects. With no easy answers, she tumbles further into chaos and ever closer to danger.
Can Motts find the killer before she’s the one put on ice?
Will she survive a bone-chilling brush with death?
Dahlia is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour:
A cat, a turtle, and a stranger face off in the garden. The stranger blinks first. Right. The joke still needs some work.
“Do you always let your turtle and cat out in the garden together?”
“They’re friends. They like to gossip.” Motts set her trowel to one side and got to her feet. She dusted the grass and dirt off her knees. “They both need fresh air and sun in moderation. Are you lost?”
The man didn’t seem lost despite having popped up beside the back fence around her garden. He looked like a police officer. Though not quite as broad-shouldered, he stood as tall as Teo Herceg, the detective inspector she’d met in April and had been dating for over a month.
“I’m hoping to speak with Pineapple Mottley.” He sounded like a policeman. His suit, while nice, appeared rumpled from driving; his short grey hair, however, was gelled and styled perfectly. “I’m Detective Inspector Dempsey Byrne with the Metropolitan Police’s cold case unit.”
“Cold case?” Motts’s heart stuttered in her chest. She rubbed her fingers together nervously. “Jenny. You’re here about Jenny.”
Jenny Cleverly had been her lone best friend through her early childhood. Motts had stumbled across Jenny’s lifeless body on her way home from primary school while walking through a park, hidden behind a hedge. She still had nightmares about finding her.
The unsolved crime had haunted Motts. She’d developed an obsessive curiosity about cold cases as a result. And at least once a year, she searched online to see if anyone had been arrested for Jenny’s murder.
“Motts.” She had a sudden sense of déjà vu; she’d had a similar conversation with Teo in April. He’d been investigating the murder of a Rhona Walters, who’d been buried in the garden behind her cottage. It had been an auspicious start to her life in Polperro. “Cactus.”
Her beloved Sphynx cat had leapt onto the fence and then over to the detective’s shoulder. Detective Inspector Byrne didn’t bat an eyelid. He simply reached up to pat Cactus on his head.
Well, he certainly approves of the random strange man intruding on our afternoon.
Intruding inspector intrudes introspectively.
Not my best alliteration.
“I don’t often see a flowerless garden.” He glanced slowly around at her rows of fruits and herbs. “None at all?”
“My allergies try to drown me if I’m around them for too long.” Motts kept flowers far away from her cottage. Real ones, in any case. She made and sold origami and quilled floral arrangements as part of her small business, Hollyhock Folded Blooms. “Why don’t you come in for tea? Cold case curiosities can converse comfortably.”
Don’t frighten the fancy London detective with your peculiarities.
The judgmental voice in her head sounded suspiciously like her mum, who meant well but couldn’t always relate to Motts’s more unique traits. She didn’t understand her wayward autistic and asexual daughter. Motts had given up trying to fit into neurotypical moulds.
I am who I am.
Alliterations and all.
Oh, fun accidental alliterations are the best.
“I wouldn’t want to impose.”
“Wouldn’t you?” Motts stared blankly at the man, unable to decide if he was being polite or not. “You drove from London. At least a five-hour drive on a good day. Tea isn’t imposing. Sleeping in my garden and trampling the herbs would be.”
Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.
Author Website: http://dahliadonovan.com/
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/dahliadonovan
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/DahliaDonovan
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dahliadonovanauthor/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8184061.Dahlia_Donovan
Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/dahlia-donovan/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dahlia-Donovan/e/B00KFNZFHU/
Other Worlds Ink has a new hopeful sci-fi anthology out: Fix the World. And there’s a giveaway!
We’re a world beset by crises. Climate change, income inequality, racism, pandemics, an almost unmanageable tangle of issues. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.
We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to fix what’s wrong with the world. From the sixty-five stories we received, we chose the twelve most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.
Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change, make war obsolete, switch to alternative forms of energy, and restructure the very foundations of our society,
The future’s not going to fix itself.
OWI is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour:
by J. Scott Coatsworth
The rumbling increased to a roar, and more dark patches appeared in the green lagoon waters. So expensive. So laborious to stabilize what was left. But every bit worth it, in this moment.
A great spume of water sprayed high enough to throw a shimmer of mist across her face as the first part of the old city broke the surface. As the spume cleared, the top of the Campanile di San Marco rose above the water, green roof gleaming like new. A nice touch. The Restoration Guild must have worked overtime on that one. Its golden weathervane was gone, but the bas relief of the lion of St. Mark made her clutch her heart.
“Mamma, what’s the lion for?” She licked chocolate off her hands, desperate to make her afternoon snack last just a little longer.
“It’s the symbol of the city.” Mamma put her hand on Cinzia’s chest, patting it—boom boom, boom boom. “The beating heart of who we are.”
Cinzia stumbled. It felt like yesterday.
“You okay?” Gio’s brow creased.
“I… sorry, yes. So many memories.”
Skipping over the bridges. The bad days of the quarantine. The corner market where mamma used to do her grocery shopping…
Another building broke the surface nearby—the Santa Maria della Salute, the beautiful basilica. Water poured off the gorgeous green domes in a thundering flood. They were mostly intact, though one of the smaller ones had a gaping hole—water poured out of it, cascading down to the lagoon like a waterfall, joining the general uproar of the Rise.
“Look, Kendra. You can see the outlines of the Canal Grande now.” The old waterway—the pulsing artery of the city—snaked away from them like a backwards ’S.’ In the distance, she could make out the edge of the Sestriere Cannaregio, the district where her mamma had lived in a modest apartment in an old stone palazzo that looked out on a concrete courtyard.
Waters rising, as it rained for close on a month, coming ever closer to their own second-floor balcony.
“What if the water doesn’t stop coming?” Cinzia stared out at the concrete courtyard, where the seawater swirled and churned.
“Don’t worry about that, tesoro. The water always stops, eventually. Now come here and help me with dinner.”
She had been lucky. She had survived.
All across the lagoon, the buildings of Venice were rising from the water. Many were broken, piles of bricks and debris covered with algae and surprised fish that flopped around on suddenly exposed land. The outlines of the city were becoming clear as water poured out of the buildings, churning the lagoon into a muddy, frothy mess.
A row of palazzos along the edge of the Canal Grande collapsed, sending up a deafening roar as they crumbled into rubble. Cinzia stepped back instinctively, pulling Kendra with her as the platform rose thirty meters into the air to avoid the cloud of debris that briefly rose above the lagoon before settling back to earth.
“Nothing to be alarmed about. Not all buildings were stabilized prior to the Rise.” Doctor Horvat’s lined face nodded reassuringly from the hovering screen before them, her voice broadcast across the world and to the Lunar colonies far above. “We expected some collapses. We will keep you away from the dangerous areas.”
“What if the city doesn’t stop rising?” Kendra grasped the railing, her gaze locked on the scene below.
Gio knelt next to the girl. “There’s no chance of that. The polyps have a very short lifetime…”
Cinzia was grateful to him. He probably understood the science behind all of this far better than she.
Her mind drifted.
They ate the last of the almond cantucci, savoring the hard cookies even though they were stale. Cinzia was still hungry, but she knew better than to ask for more. There was no more.
Outside, the rain had finally slowed to a constant drizzle.
Mamma ruffled her hair, managing a wan smile. “I need you to stay here, Cinzia. Someone will come for you, I promise. I will find us help.”
The helicopters had stopped coming days before, and the boats that had been plentiful the first few days, with men telling them to stay put, had bypassed their part of the city ever since.
The rumbling subsided.
Cinzia opened her eyes and looked around. For just a moment, there was absolute silence on the traghetto, along the shore, and on the sky board.
She looked over the railing.
Venice—her Venice—lay before her. It was in sad shape. Many of the landmarks she remembered were tarnished or broken. Whole zones of the city had collapsed, and except for Piazza San Marco, a green film covered the risen city. She was a ghost of her former glory.
But she was there, as solid and real as the hand before Cinzia’s face.
Bryan Cebulski is a rural California-based journalist from the Midwest who writes quiet queer speculative and literary fiction.
Scott Coatsworth lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were. He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends. A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
Rachel Hope Crossman grew up in Athens, Greece and Berkeley, CA as the child of a linguist and an actor. Her imagination, marked by the stones of the Acropolis, the granite slabs of the Sierra Nevadas and the blues of the San Francisco Bay, is the all and everything that fuels her engine. A preschool teacher, then substitute teacher, Rachel ultimately followed her Montessori bliss to teach elementary. Mother of four grown children and author of Saving Cinderella: Fairy tales & Children in the 21st Century, (2014 Apocryphile Press), Rachel currently writes eco-fantasy and science fiction stories.
Jana Denardo is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.
J.G. Follansbee is an award-winning writer of thrillers, fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories with climate change themes. An author of maritime history and travel guides, he has published articles in newspapers, regional and national magazines, and regional and national radio networks, including National Public Radio. He’s also worked in the high-tech and non-profit worlds. He lives in Seattle.
Ingrid Garcia helps selling local wines in a vintage wine shop in Cádiz and writes speculative fiction in her spare time. For years, she was unpublished. But to her utter surprise—after years of receiving nothing but rejections—she’s sold stories to F&SF, and the Ride the Star Wind and Sword and Sonnet anthologies. She tweets as @ingridgarcia253and is busy preparing a personal website and—dog forbid—even thinking about writing that inevitable novel
Jennifer R. Povey was born in Nottingham, England, but she now lives in Northern Virginia, where she writes everything from heroic fantasy to stories for Analog. She has written a number of novels across multiple sub genres. Additionally, she is a writer, editor, and designer of tabletop RPG supplements for a number of companies. Her interests include horseback riding, Doctor Who and attempting to out-weird her various friends and professional colleagues.
Mere Rain is an international nonentity of mystery whose library resides in California. Mere likes travel, food, art, mythology, and you. Feel free to reach out on social media. Mere Rain has published speculative short fiction with The Mad Scientist Journal, Mischief Corner Books, Things in the Well, and Mythical Girls.
D.M. Rasch writes feminist speculative fiction for LGBTQ+ young adults and adults, exploring where the social and political meet the personal. Her characters are often found doing their best in worlds that challenge them to become their best selves. Queer representation and reaching out to LGBTQ+ youth drive her writing, informed by her MFA in Creative Writing from Regis University and two bossy sister kittens who like to edit. She identifies as a genderqueer lesbian, currently writing and working (remotely) in the Denver, CO area as a creative mentor, coach, and editor in her business, Itinerant Creative Content & Coaching LLC.
Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her stories have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, and many other publications throughout the world. She hopes to save the world through science fiction and homegrown heritage tomatoes.
Anthea Sharp is the author of the USA Today bestselling Feyland series, where a high-tech game opens a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie. In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, her current novels are set in the shadowed enchantment of the Darkwood, where dark elves and fairytale elements abound. Anthea lives in sunny Southern California where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays the Irish fiddle, and spends time with her small-but-good family.
Alex Silver (he/him) grew up mostly in Northern Maine and is now living in Canada with a spouse, two kids, and three birds. Alex is a trans guy who started writing fiction as a child and never stopped. Although there were detours through assisting on a farm and being a pharmacist along the way.
Katherine McIntyre has a new FF contemporary romance out: Confined Desires. And there’s a giveaway!
Sky’s crush on her best friend has always been unrequited… until they’re stuck in quarantine together and sparks fly.
Sky’s high school bestie is moving back to the area and staying with her for a few weeks. Easy, right? Not when she’d held a torch for the woman since high school. The moment Mia walks through Sky’s door, those unrequited feelings return full-force. So, when a spreading virus keeps them confined in Sky’s apartment even longer, Sky is screwed.
Mia returns home after a bad breakup, but Sky is the only one who offers a safe place to land. However, the seven years they spent apart has her looking at her best friend through a different lens, attraction sparking with every inside joke, shared dinner, and cuddle on the couch.
That flare of desire fast turns physical. They can’t get enough of each other. Yet, whenever Mia tries for the “where is this going” talk, Sky dodges. Sky lost her sister in high school, and ever since, she’s become ace at keeping dates at a distance. Yet if she doesn’t manage to push past her own fears, she might lose her one shot at happiness with the woman she’s waited a lifetime for.
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Mia twined her arms around Sky and leaned her head against her shoulder. “See, this is why I missed you so damn much.”
Sky froze, unable to move. Part of her melted at this touch, while the other freaked out. The last thing Mia needed was her best friend dumping a lifelong crush on her lap. This close, she could feel the woman’s sleepy heat, and the sweet scent of peaches wafted off her. Sky’s mouth watered—the response instinctual. She forced her hand up to run her fingers through Mia’s silken strands. That was friendly, right?
“Missed you too, babe,” she murmured.
“So, wait, are you working tonight, or no?” Mia asked, pulling away to grab her mug.
“Uh, no,” Sky murmured, mind racing as she tried to come up with an excuse to leave.
Mia tapped the edge of her mug with her fingernail. “Then maybe we could take the day to play catch up?” she asked. When Sky didn’t respond, the words refusing to leave her tongue, Mia’s eyes widened. “I mean, as long as you didn’t have plans or anything. I know I kind of dropped this on you. Fuck, I don’t even know if you’re seeing anyone or who you hang out with anymore.”
“Pitifully single,” Sky responded. “My girlfriend and I split up last year, and I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t been able to get out to the bars or clubs in Philly at all to jump back into the dating scene. Trust me, you haven’t missed much.”
“Bullshit,” Mia said, placing her mug of coffee down. “Get dressed. We’re heading out to Lucky’s, and I’m buying you breakfast.” Her blue eyes twinkled as she doled out the commands, and Sky’s heart thumped harder.
Sky scratched the nape of her neck. “Yes, ma’am.”
She headed to the bedroom, cursing her lack of an excuse. A large part of her was thrilled to be spending all of this time around Mia after so long. Yet the other part of her just wanted to solder metal sheets around her heart.
As if she’d stand a chance with Mia Brownstone living at her house for the next two weeks.
Snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes.
Katherine McIntyre is a feisty chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes—and there’s an equally high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women.
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