I made this on the solstice. 🙂 Happy Holidays to everyone, whatever you celebrate this time of year!
Right as I was going to bed, I remembered oh yeah, I was going to post more art here. So here you go. I’m attempting to really learn how to do the art thing, and make things that look like what I want them to look like, instead of giving up and saying good enough. I got kind of close with this one. I wanted something dreamy and fantasy-y, if that makes sense.
Hey, check it out! This post has unique content, an excerpt that nobody else has. Enjoy!
Matt Doyle has a new lesbian sci fi mystery out: “Shadows of the Past.”
Shadows of the Past is the new novella collection set in The Cassie Tam Files universe! Enjoy two new stories that follow PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori Redwood as they deal with the fallout from LV48. This book is part of a series and needs to be read in sequence.
A Week in New Hopeland
When Lori Redwood agrees to help out her girlfriend, PI Cassie Tam, by going undercover at a local shipping firm, she gets more than she bargained for. Her ‘boss’ Mr. Graves is a misogynist and a bully, and has been targeting one girl in particular. Cassie is known to him, and he tends to be cautious around Tech Shifters. Which means that Lori may be the best person for the job.
Will Lori be able to help Cassie gather enough evidence for the police to act, or will she become the next target?
PI Cassie Tam is not the only person who lives with regrets, and like most people, she just wants to get on with her life. But in New Hopeland, the past never remains buried. When she’s hired to track a stalker that’s been using some interesting tech to mask their identity on the city’s security cameras, Cassie ends up face-to-face with her darkest memory.
Can Cassie find out who’s responsible before her past mistakes tear her – and her friends – apart?
Warnings: Contains: bullying, stalking, a deceased family member, guns, and workplace harassment
About the Series:
New Hopeland City was built to be the center of the technological age. It was supposed to be a shining example of humanity’s achievements. A beacon to guide us towards a better future. But some habits die hard. Within five years, it had become a hotbed of crime and corruption. And now, even the police are sometimes in too deep to help. That’s where I come in. My name is Cassie Tam. I’m a PI. When no one else will help, I’m the one people turn to …
“So. You said you need my help. What kind of help?”
“Protection, partially. And for you to find someone.”
I raise an eyebrow and tap the fingers of my top hand on the lower one. “Sounds complicated. Are both things connected, or are they two separate issues?”
“Yes, they’re both connected. I’m being…stalked. I need you to find out who by.”
I drop my hands to the table and sigh. Complicated was right. “Do you mind if I grab a coffee myself?” Faraday nods and I make my way to the kitchen. Even with the table so close to the kitchen, my kettle is currently running at the volume known as “stubbornly boisterous,” so when I continue, I have to raise my voice to make sure I’m heard. “First things first, why do you think you’re being stalked?”
“I wasn’t sure at first. I’d catch things out of the corner of my eyes, familiar shapes and so on, but I brushed it off as part of the daily routine. I leave home, go to work, and come home again.”
Huh. I’d presumed she just stayed at the office. That’s interesting. Let’s just treat this like she’s human. “Let me guess. You take the same routes to work and back each day, so you figured you were catching people with similar habits.”
“Yes. I keep fairly regular hours, the same as most people. And you’ve seen the offices. Quite aside from the sheer number of staff, there are plenty of other businesses nearby. So, I made a game of it. I started trying to take note of the people around me, to see if I could figure out who I was spotting. But that one person was always just out of sight. It was as if they were intentionally avoiding me getting a good look at them.”
“And you’re certain there’s only one person doing this, and it’s not multiple similar sized people you’re noticing?”
“I suppose, all things considered, you’d be able to tell, right? Your eyes would be like Bert’s.”
“Actually, no. Bert’s purpose is his own, and he is built to be suitable for his particular role. I, on the other hand, am built to imitate humans, and that comes with certain limitations. While my eyes operate in a similar way to Bert’s, their power is more akin to the average person.”
I finish pouring my coffee and make my way back to the table. “That opens up the possibility of this being just a case of someone taking the same route as you each day.”
Faraday shakes her head. “No, they’re definitely following me. I know, because I tricked them.”
“Well, I was heading home, and started catching sight of the shape again. Rather than continue on my normal route, I took a shortcut down an alley. Yes, it was risky, but I’m familiar enough with the area to know I wasn’t getting closed in. I only take the longer route normally because I prefer the scenery. Anyway, I kept going, and by this point, being out of the crowds, I could hear their footsteps. When they stopped partway down I… I couldn’t stop myself. I turned and saw them. Sort of.”
“They were wearing a dark hoodie and had turned away to look at something. A security camera, I think. Regardless, the hood was up, and they weren’t looking at me, so I couldn’t see their face.”
“And what did you do then?”
“I ran. I knew for certain someone had been following me then, and human limitations being what they are—” she flexes her fingers a little and sighs “—I’m not exceptionally strong. My hands are better suited to my allocated job than to fighting.”
“Okay,” I reply, keeping my voice as light as possible. “When you saw this person, did you notice anything at all that may help identify them? Any clear indicators of gender, any standout physical traits?”
“No, I’m sorry. The hoodie was baggy enough to hide their shape well.”
“That makes it a little difficult, but if they were looking at a camera, then maybe we’ll get lucky. I’ll be honest with you; I’m going to have a lot of questions. But… your safety is the most important thing right now. I assume you’ve finished work for the day?” She nods. “How does it feel when you’re there? Do you think you’ll be safe in the office?”
“Definitely. I’ve not noticed anything once I’m in there, only on the walks to and from.”
“And at home?”
“I’m not sure. They are clearly aware of where I live, though I’m not sure if they know which apartment.”
I roll over in bed and let my arm flop into the empty space next to me. Even with my eyes closed, I can tell the early morning light is beginning to creep in through the window. My slightly bent leg finds a long warm spot, giving away that Cassie hasn’t been up long. I instinctively grip the bedsheet where her body would normally end and let out a content sigh.
“Mine,” I say to myself and roll onto my back again. I raise my hands to my face and rub the sleep out of my eyes, taking in the familiar sight of my bedroom as I clear the cobwebs a little. There are other things to wake me up too; new things that are becoming more familiar as time passes. Smells and sounds I don’t experience as often as I’d like. But I have to be careful, gentle even. Cassie is outwardly quite rough, but she’s softer on the inside. She’s like an emotional armadillo.
A partial conversation from last night flashes across my mind, and a smile reaches my lips. I sit up and stretch, forcing out a yawn as I glance at the back of the door. “Someone’s borrowing my robe again.”
I grab my spare from the wardrobe and tie it up, then walk down the hall, through the living room, and up to the kitchen. I rest against the doorframe, watching Cassie as she carries on oblivious to my presence. After a moment, I say, “Morning.”
Cassie jumps a little and smiles my way. She pulls gently at the sleeve of the robe and says, “Sorry, I didn’t bring mine. I wasn’t planning to stay over, but…”
“Ink can be quite persuasive, can’t she?” I nod to the frying pan on the hob and ask, “What’cha cooking?”
Cassie’s lips tighten and her nose wrinkles, making her look like a cute, frustrated, pouting bunny. She taps the bowl she’s been piling the food in. “It was supposed to be pancakes. I don’t know what went wrong, I’m normally really good with pancakes. These keep sticking, though. And burning. Maybe I didn’t use enough oil.”
“Nah, it’ll be the pan,” I reply, walking into the room and grabbing some plates from the cupboard. “And they look fine, just a little broken.”
“The pan, eh?”
“Yup. That one never was much good. Everything sticks to it, no matter what you do.”
“Huh. If it’s that bad, why keep it?”
“Sentimental reasons,” I reply and start splitting the pancakes out. “So, come on, detective, see if you can figure it out.”
“The first thing you bought for here?” she tries.
I hand her a plate and shake my head. “Nope. Try again.”
“A gift from a relative?”
“Swing and a miss,” I say and start pouring us a drink from the percolator she’s been keeping warm in preparation. “One more guess.”
She shrugs and grabs two forks from the drawer. She hands me one as she answers, “You got me.”
We walk to the living room and sit on the couch. “Well, a few years back, I was woken up by this noise in the kitchen. It must have been about three in the morning, I think. Anyway, I started panicking, right? There’s someone in the house. Who is it? What do they want? That sort of thing.
“Well, we’d been covering some home break-in stories at work, and I decided there and then I wasn’t going to be just another victim, sitting scared in my room while someone takes all my stuff. So, I got up, and creeped up to the kitchen as quietly as I could, and what did I find? Someone going through the fridge.”
“Who was it?”
“I couldn’t tell. Between tiredness, the darkness, and the fridge door being slightly closed, I couldn’t see anything at all really, other than a silhouette. So, I grabbed the first sturdy thing I could.”
“The frying pan.”
“Exactly. I grabbed it, waited for them to step back, and swung. Bam.”
“Then what happened?”
“The woman dropped her milk and starts yelling, ‘What the fuck, Lori?’ So, I turn the light on, and everything starts slotting into place. I’d been out at a club and taken this lady home. Karen, I think her name was. The problem was, I’d gotten a bit drunk and, between that and the stories we’d been covering, I’d completely forgotten she’d stayed over and had gotten a little paranoid.”
“Was she all right?” Cassie asks, staring at me in disbelief.
“She was angry more than anything. That was our one and only night together, though. But yeah, so the frying pan is sentimental for me because it reminds me that one, I shouldn’t bring people home if I met them while drunk, and two, I’m not as much of as a wuss as I thought.”
Cassie laughs. “I guess I should be happy you didn’t think I was an intruder, eh?”
I smile and kiss her forehead. “You never need to worry. If I wake up and you’re gone, I’ll just assume you’re off dealing with any intruder. And even if I did somehow forget you were staying over, I can always tell when you’re in the kitchen in the morning. You sing while you cook.”
Cassie stops mid-sip, and her eyes go wide, peering over the top of the mug. “Diu. You can hear that?”
“‘Iris’ by the Goo Goo Dolls, wasn’t it? I mean, it’s clearly a product of its era, but it’s a good track.”
“Oh, no, no, no. You weren’t meant to hear that. It’s why I stop when I hear your bedroom door open.”
I tilt my head and frown. “Really? I like it. You sound happy.”
“I am happy, but…I don’t really sing…well. Or in front of people.”
“Oh,” I reply, a little worried now. “Sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t really notice you stopped. I always get excited to see what you’re making, so it never really occurred to me.”
“It’s fine,” she says, but I can tell she’s still embarrassed. “Anyway, it can’t be that exciting. I only use what you have in.”
“I know, but I don’t always bother myself. Usually, it’s cereal or toast if it’s just me. Work, right?”
Cassie’s shoulders relax a little and she takes another mouthful of coffee. “Oh, I get that. I’m the same at the apartment, really. I don’t usually stay here when I have a case on, so there’s rarely any rush for me in the morning when I do. I do try to get up early, though, just in case you need to head out earlier. I can make sure I still get something made for you then.”
I take a leaf from Cassie’s playbook and fail to stop the blush rising to my cheeks. If she enjoys doing it, I may as well tell her. “Okay, confession time. Sometimes, I buy a few things I know I might not have the time to cook. You know, to see if you use them when you stop over. I kinda might have noticed you enjoy cooking more than you let on. And, you know, I quite like what you put in front of me.”
I take another big mouthful of pancake to prove the point, and Cassie giggles. “Well, aren’t you full of surprises today?”
“Oh, speaking of surprises, it’s the Saturday after next, right? Your birthday?”
She rolls her eyes. “Yes, it is. Look, Lori, I really don’t want you to make a big deal out of it. Just something small, eh?”
I wave my hands frantically, spilling a little coffee on my knee. Good job it’s cooled down. “Absolutely. I promised I wouldn’t go overboard, so I won’t. We’ll do a stop at a café. And maybe a present or two.”
“No more than two,” she says, fixing me with a stern look.
“No more than two,” I reiterate.
“And a limit of one hundred dollars.”
“I know, I know. You never did explain why you don’t like doing too much.”
Cassie sighs and puts her empty mug down. “Okay, I guess I owe you that much at least. If you really have to know, my birthday falls exactly one week before…one week before the anniversary.”
Cassie’s dad was a cop back in Canada. He took a bullet for her during her last major case back there, and his death tore her and her mom apart. That was why she moved to New Hopeland. “I’m sorry. I knew it was coming up, but the connection didn’t click.”
She waves it away, and her walls come up a little. “It’s fine; I never told you the date. Honestly, if I didn’t want to do anything at all, I wouldn’t have told you my birthday either.”
“Are you sure?”
“Just don’t be a Nancy, okay?”
“My nan. She hated having a fuss made on her birthday, like at all. But she never told us because she didn’t want to disappoint anyone. It wasn’t until she was at death’s door that she finally came clean. Don’t be like her. If it’s too much, tell me so I can back off.”
Cassie’s face softens a little and she pulls me into a gentle kiss. “Thank you. It means a lot knowing you’d do that. It’s fine; just keep it low key. Anyway, I better get a wash and head back home. You never know when the next case will drop in your lap.”
She gets to her feet and starts walking to the door, but I can’t help myself. “An armadillo.”
She stops. “What?”
“Last night. You asked what sort of animal I thought you’d be if you were a Tech Shifter? Well, I’ve decided. An armadillo.”
“An armadillo,” she repeats. “Why?”
I gather the plates and mugs and give her a wink. “I’ll let you figure that one out.
Matt Doyle is a speculative fiction author from the UK and identifies as pansexual and genderfluid. Matt has spent a great deal of time chasing dreams, a habit which has led to success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.
These days, Matt can be found working on multiple novels and stories, blogging about pop culture, and plotting and planning far too many projects.
Author Website: https://mattdoylemedia.com
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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Matt-Doyle/e/B0120Z5RFU/
Lately I’ve been feeling a little grumpy. Well, maybe a lot grumpy. Working an awful lot, not enough money, the usual. I abandoned my NaNoWriMo project because it kept trying to reflect reality.
So this morning I was saying goodbye to my cats. Tasha blinked at me and gave me the cat look that says, “Whatever.” Goon, on the other hand, purred and gave me a wide-eyed happy look.
Right as I was thinking how nice it is to have a sweet, loving kitty, he pounced.
Solid smack, both sides of my head. (No claws.) Totally cracked me up.
I’m not sure what that means, but it seems like a comment on life in general. Maybe I should learn from my kitten and give stress a double-handed smack upside the head.
SA Collins has a new queer alt-earth sci fi book out, book one in the Cove Chronicles: “Beware Mohawks Bearing Gifts.”
It’s 1847, New York. William Matthias Hallett is a fashionable dandy of the Manhattan social set. His life is laid out before him: a world of soirees, riches and luxury. Yet all he wants to do is find an adventure so deliciously wicked that it would satiate his soul for an eternity.
So, disguised in a lower-class manner, into the notorious Five Points he goes, seeking that spark of adventure. That is until it greets him in the form of his old schoolmates from Dartmouth College – a pair of Mohawk warriors who will up-end his world and all he knew it to be forever.
Set in an alternative Earth that deviates from our own known timeline, William Matthias Hallett, a Mohawk/British New York socialite and dandy, who wants very little to do with his upper-crust Manhattan set, sets out to the notorious Five Points, seeking an adventure so decidedly wicked to satiate him for a lifetime. He gets far more than he bargains for when he crosses paths with two Mohawk warriors from their days at Dartmouth college.
Thrust into an unseen war that the Mohawks and the rest of the Haudenosuanee Confederacy has been fighting for over 600 years, William must come to terms with his maternal heritage that is pressing ever forward as their newly created sovereign nation rapidly expands, isolating the burgeoning United States along the eastern seaboard and now reaching a boiling point with the new Americans.
Central to this sci-fi adventure is the creation story of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy where myth becomes reality in ways that William can scarcely imagine.
SA Collins is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
He leaned against the doorway with a slight smile upon his face and placed the message from my sister onto the desk nearest the door.
“So, are you planning to sleep upon the floor, or will you nest down in the kitchen?”
“Just be glad the bed I have in your room is large enough for us both. You will just have a bed mate until we can rectify the situation downstairs.”
“I could always sleep on your sofa in the receiving room, Will.”
“Certainly not. If I am anything, I am a superb host. I will not have you attempting to recline on a sofa that isbarely sufficient to sit upon, let alone gain some much-needed rest.”
“Fancy little Indian, are you not?” He indicated the quality of my nightshirt and dressing robe.
“I walk in two worlds now; allow me my fashionable proclivities,” I replied as I began to change out of my clothing and into the nightshirt. For a few moments he stood there shaking his head and smirking at my nightly routine, though I did detect a blush moving across his face as I got down to my undergarments. As I pulled my shirt over my head, I noted he had slipped into the spare bedroom.
I carried the nightshirt and robe over to the spare room to join him as he began to slip off his leggings and mocs. After he shucked his shirt, I paused to appreciate the simple utility of the Haudenosaunee male wardrobe. Moments later, Joss changed from the comfort of his daily outfit into a simple loincloth suitable for sleeping, and here I struggled with overgarments, shirts, pants, undergarments, and various pieces that served only as ornamentation. I began to question for the first time the intelligence of my way of dress.
::But you wear your clothing so well. I do not judge your choice of them. This is simply what I know and have grown comfortable using. Why are you curious as to our way of dress?::
::Well, I suppose I should gain a better understanding of our people’s ways. I feel I know so little about my Mohawk life. I assume I can lean on you for that. Unless you find me a lost cause.::
::Will, have no doubt. You are Mohawk; your lineage is clear. You just have not had much in the way of guidance in our way of life. You can always turn to me for that.::
“Thank you. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. Since I came into this whole new world of the Guardians and Flintlings, I have felt little more than a leaf upon the raging river, with little hope of purchase with which to grant me some sense of security. You have provided the security I desperately need.”
“Wait here…” He gated out of the room, though to where, simply wearing his loincloth for protection against the elements, was beyond me. I did not have to wait long as he returned within a few moments with a beaded side bag in his hand. He threw it upon the bed and began to rummage through it. He extracted a beaded belt and a tightly rolled piece of blood-red cloth.
“Get out of that precious royal swaddling you have encased yourself in,” he chided me as he unrolled the cloth, revealing it to be about the length of the loincloth he was wearing. I realized he had retrieved his spare clothing, though from where I was uncertain.
Reading my musings, he replied, “I have spare clothing set aside in various places. I can retrieve them whenneeds arise. These shall be yours now.” He indicated the bag on the bed as much as the belt and loincloth he held.
“Oh, Joss…” I gasped, filled with awe at his offering, knowing that to refuse would deeply mar our new relationship. Not something I was willing to risk, given our being inextricably bound to each other.
Forgetting my near nakedness, I knelt upon the bed, running gentle fingers over them, and watched as he completed the folding around the back of the belt. A small smile broke over his face, bringing his eyes to light.Clearly, he was most happy in his offering. I only wished I had something to offer in exchange. As if hearing mythoughts, he had a reply. “Just your wearing it will be more than enough,” he murmured as he
handed me the garment. “Come, let us have you try it on.” “I am afraid you will have to help me out a bit.”
Shortly thereafter, I found myself wearing my first Mohawk loincloth. My slightly burnished alabaster skin, witha dusting of freckles along my muscular shoulders that mellow as they wend their way over my bare torso, standing in stark contrast to the rich colored fabric of the loincloth.
He placed two gentle hands on my shoulders as we regarded my reflection in the mirror. I felt him course along our link with such gratitude and care that I was undone by his gesture.
Joss beamed, watching me take root in my heritage, pleased he could do this for me. After sheathing myself in some of the finest material and clothing the world could offer, I was amazed at how much comfort, both in movement and luxury, this simple natural garment afforded me.
He pulled out the leggings, a pair of mocs, and a shirt. After another few moments, I was fully clothed in my maternal heritage clothing. A sense of pride seemed to swell within me that I had not anticipated. I nearly wept from thesensation. I know Joss did not miss my eyes misting up from the transformation at his hands.
“Joss, I never knew just how comfortable these really are.”
“You wear them well; as if you were born to them,” he added with a bright grin, no doubt pleased with himself.
I paused, turning this way and that, before bringing Joss into a tight embrace, so thankful for his offering. He moved his head from my shoulder to place my forehead against his, his hands on either side of my face, gently holding me there.
::Like this, Ohnehta’kowa. When it matters most, this is how we share that moment.::
I nodded, thankful for his teaching and his generosity. I knew, being so linked with him, our intimacy would be something I needed to embrace and let flow. It was a part of who we are. If I were truly honest, I longed for it to go on into the night; spending this singular touching moment with him and to share it thusly shattered what I knew about myself and the world around me. Joss sensed this and gradually broke contact between us. I felt bewildered and in aslight stupor for the loss of him. I needed to regroup.
“Yes, well, now to bed, eh?”
SA “Baz” Collins hails from the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his husband and Zorro, a character of a cat. A classically trained singer/actor (under a different name), Baz knows a good yarn when he sees it.
Based on years of his work as an actor, Baz specializes in character study pieces. It is more important for him that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the characters and the reasons they make the decisions they do, rather than the situations they are in. It is this deep dive into their manners, their experiences and how they process the world around them that make up the body of Mr. Collins’ work.
You can find his works at sacollins.com, violetquillredux.com and as a co-host of the wrotepodcast.com series.
Author Website: www.sacollins.com
Author Facebook (Author Page): www.facebook.com/sacollinsauthor
Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sacollinsauthor
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Hey, people, I’m special! The author sent me some exclusive content, only available here! J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out, the final book in his Liminal Sky trilogy: “The Shoreless Sea.” And books one and two are on sale!
As the epic trilogy hurtles toward its conclusion, the fight for the future isn’t over yet. It could lead to a new beginning, or it might spell the end for the last vestiges of humankind.
The generation ship Forever has left Earth behind, but a piece of the old civilization lives on in the Inthworld—a virtual realm that retains memories of Earth’s technological wonders and vices. A being named Lilith leads the uprising, and if she succeeds in setting its inhabitants free, they could destroy Forever.
But during the generation ship’s decades-long voyage, humanity has evolved. Liminals with the ability to connect with the world mind and the Inthworld provide a glimmer of hope. They’ll have to face not only Lilith’s minions, but also the mistrust of their own kind and persecution from a new government as homotypicals continue to fear what they can’t understand.
The invasion must be stopped, the Inthworld must be healed, and the people of Forever must let go of their past and embrace what they’re meant to become.
Humankind is on its way to the stars, a journey that will change it forever. Each of the stories in Liminal Sky explores that future through the lens of a generation ship, where the line between science fiction and fantasy often blurs. At times both pessimistic and very hopeful, Liminal Sky thrusts you into a future few would ever have imagined.
The eBook for book one in the Liminal Sky trilogy, “The Stark Divide,” is just 99¢, and book two, “The Rising Tide,” is $1.99 at all vendors:
Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour, along with three eBook sets of his Oberon Cycle trilogy. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
Exclusive Content: Interview with J. Scott Coatsworth
Author of “The Shoreless Sea”
J. Scott Coatsworth is stopping by to celebrate the release of his new book, the final title in the Liminal Sky trilogy with an interview:
What is the Liminal Sky series about?
It’s my first love in writing. Thirty years ago – damn, has it been that long? I started a novel called “On a Shoreless Sea.” It was about a generation ship carrying humanity to the stars. It was my first finished book to be sent out to publishers – ten of the large New York variety – and ultimately the reason I quit writing for twenty years when all ten rejected it. When I came back to writing in my mid-forties, it was the first thing I picked up again. I decided to backtrack and tell the origin story for “Forever,” the gen ship. So it’s the tale of humankind’s first journey to the stars, and how it will change us all.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Yes? I like to be challenged when I read, so I try to do the same thing for the reader – to let them make some of the leaps that can make reading so fun. But you have to be careful too because if you make them leap too far, they may fall away halfway and you will never get them back.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Again, a bit of both. When I first started writing, I was all over the map – I wrote a bit of mm romance, some magical realism, some sci fi, and some fantasy. But it’s hard to build up a loyal reader bade with such diverse genres. So now I am committed to writing sci fi, and most of my works, including my six novels – actually tie into one another. The latest book, my WIP “Dropnauts,” is in the same universe as Liminal Sky, although it’s a stand-alone title.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t stop writing. I let myself get discouraged after my first finished novel was rejected by ten NYC publishers. I was at World Con in San Jose last year and on one of the panels, there was an author who started about the same time as me – the early 90’s – but she never stopped, and is now a well-respected voice in the sci fi community. Instead, I am playing catch-up at the age of 51. But better late than never, right?
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I learned that I could actually do this – and do it pretty quick. My first (unpublished) work took five years. Nowadays I can write a book in about four months, and have it ready for submission in about six.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Probably the cost of attending my first Dreamspinner Retreat – I got to meet with Lynn West, the editor – and tell her about two projects I was working on. She bought both, and they eventually became “Liminal Sky” and “The Oberon Cycle,” putting me on the path I am on now.
What are you working on now?
I just finished the next book in the Liminal world – it’s called “Dropnauts: Redemption Book One” – and it takes us back to Earth to find out what happened after the Last War. I’m also writing more shorts – I made it into the Science Fiction Writers’ Association (SFWA) this year as an associate member, but I want to bump that up to full voting status. The writing never ends!
Kiryn Hammond-Clarke floated in the darkness of space, stars he’d never seen in person twinkling against the velvety black depths.
The voice came to him from out of nowhere. “Can anyone hear me?”
In his dreams, he could hear. Like when Belynn let him ride in her mind.
The voice repeated, sounding stretched and thin. “Is anyone out there?”
In the distance, a single star glowed brighter than all the others, though it was still just a small golden dot.
Kiryn reached out toward the light, his hand naked to the cold of the void.
Ice crystals formed on his arm, hardening it in place. The cold reached into his bones like knives of frozen glass. It raced up his bicep, the burning cold fire of the void.
He snatched back his arm, but he was too late. The freezing grip reached his heart, and he screamed silently—
Kiryn awoke with a start, sitting up in bed in his dorm room drenched with sweat. He ran his hands through his dark hair, letting them come to rest clasped behind his head.
First Light flashed past in the trees outside his window, brightening up the room.
The world was utterly silent.
The silence, his constant companion since birth, was particularly soothing after his rude awakening. It wrapped itself around him like a blanket, a suit of armor, a barrier between him and the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Between him and emotion.
He held his arm out for inspection, half expecting it to be blackened by the void. Instead, it looked perfectly normal. Warm and tan, halfway between his mothers’ sepia and white skin tones.
He shivered at the memory.
The bed moved under him, and his date from the night before sat up, his mouth moving soundlessly.
The man was handsome, a Thyrean sent to the university at Micavery for his higher schooling—long limbs, blond hair shaved short, warm brown eyes.
His name was Dax. Or Zack. Or something.
Kiryn’s lipreading was decent, but he hadn’t bothered to spend too much time learning this one’s name. Dax or Zack hadn’t seemed to mind much.
Kiryn pointed at his ear and shook his head.
The man’s mouth closed, and he blushed. “Sorry. I forgot.”
That one was easy enough to read.
He grabbed the piece of cotton paper and a pencil Kiryn kept at his bedside just for that purpose and scribbled something out longhand, then handed it over to him.
It’s Dax. And are you okay?
Kiryn stared at him. Did you just read my mind? Maybe there was a little Liminal in him. He laughed, wondering not for the first time what it sounded like from the outside. It felt clunky and awkward on the inside.
He sighed and took the paper and pencil.
Dax’s hand lingered over his for an extra second before letting go.
Bad dream. Class in fifteen minutes. He hesitated, then scribbled, Dinner?
Dax took the paper, and a grin lit up his face. His eager nod needed no translation. I work at the hatchery until six. Meet me there?
Kiryn nodded and grinned.
Dax slipped out of bed and pulled on his trousers and white shirt, the V-neck showing off his chest to perfection.
Kiryn sat back with his hands behind his head, admiring the view.
He leaned over, kissed Kiryn on the cheek, and mouthed, “See you.”
When Dax left, Kiryn grabbed a change of clothes and headed down the hall to the dorm bathroom. He hopped into the shower, using the aromatic red berry soap bar his mom and mamma had sent him from the Estate. The smell transported him, and he closed his eyes and imagined himself standing among the long, even rows of red berry vines that arched across the hillsides.
His parents worried about him, out here alone, but it was Andy who had insisted he go.
When Kiryn had been born congenitally and profoundly deaf, Andy and Shandra had learned sign language from the world mind in vee.
There were so few other deaf people in Forever. So few like him.
The day before he was set to leave for university, to catch the public wagon headed for Darlith and then Micavery, he’d had a huge panic attack.
His parents had sat him down along with his sister, Belynn:
“I’m scared. Why do I have to go away?” He was fidgeting, nervous.
“You have to go. There’s nothing here for you.” Andy indicated the Estate, where the family had built a thriving agricultural business on the backs of Trip’s and Colin’s earlier work.
“You’re here.” His hands signed it while his knee bounced up and down.
Andy shook her head. “This is our place. You need to go.”
He flushed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was such a burden.”
“No.” That was emphatic. “That’s not what I meant. We don’t want you to get trapped here, working on the Estate for the rest of your life. There’s a whole world out there for you to explore.” She looked up at Shandra, who nodded.
“I’ll go with him,” Belynn said and signed it at the same time, but he could hear her inside his head too.
Mom could do that, too, of course, but she had to touch him to do it.
“You’re not ready.” Shandra glared at Belynn and shook her head.
“I’ve been with Kiryn in every vee class since I was born. I’m only two years younger than he is. Let me go with him to help.”
Kiryn frowned. He wasn’t sure he wanted his little sister tagging along after him, cramping his style. If he decided to go.
Belynn’s hand found his, palm to palm, and he could feel her emotions. We can take care of each other. That thought was private, just for him, inside his head.
Andy looked at Shandra. “They could take care of each other.” She echoed Belynn’s thought and touched Shandra’s hand. Something passed between them.
Shandra looked at him and then at Belynn, uncertainty clear on her face. “We could… try it.”
Belynn squeezed his hand. “Yes!”
“For a semester.” Andy kissed Shandra on the forehead.
Kiryn thought about it. It would be nice to have someone close by, just in case. Someone who really knew him. “Okay.” And it would be a lot less scary.
Now he was here, and Belynn wouldn’t be far behind.
Where are you, big brother? Belynn’s insistent voice.
I’ll be back in a minute. He pulled the towel from its wooden peg, dried off his hair and shoulders.
A couple of the other guys in the dorm, Stave and Trevor, waved on their way to their own showers. Cute as hell, but straighter than the old antenna on Micavery’s village green. Well, except when Stave got drunk on red berry wine….
Kiryn grinned. He pulled on his trousers and shirt and padded back to his room. Belynn was waiting for him on his bed. “How did you get in?” he signed.
They touched palms, the emotions flowing between them and synching.
“Easy. Aric at the front desk is a sucker for a pretty girl.”
“Like I said, how did you get in?”
She stuck out her tongue at him. “Come on. We’re going to be late.” She tugged him off the bed, and Kiryn barely had time to grab his carry sack before she had him out the door and down the hall.
Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. 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 the people like him were.
He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.
A Rainbow Award winning author and Science Fiction Writer’s Association (SFWA) member, he runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction reflecitng their own reality.
Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com
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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ/
Louisa Masters has a new MM contemporary romance out in the Joy Universe series: “I’ve Got This.”
Derek Bryer loves his life. His job as an assistant director at Joy Universe, the second-largest theme park complex on the planet, makes him indirectly responsible for bringing joy (pun intended) to millions of people. So what if none of his relationships are that close? Everyone he meets loves him.
Except Trav Jones. For some reason, the visiting Broadway performer would rather Derek just go away. He appreciates Derek’s work ethic, though, and after Trav steps up when Derek desperately needs someone to fill in for his sick staff, Derek seizes the chance to convince Trav he’s not such a bad guy.
Falling in love while distracted by a murder at the park, food poisoning, and colleagues laying bets on their relationship won’t be easy, but between the two of them and with the magic of Joy Universe, they’ve got this.
Louisa is giving away a $20 gift certificate for Amazon, iBooks, B&N, or Kobo – enter via Rafflecopter:
He grins at me. “Can I use your number for more than just confirming dates?”
Heat climbs up my neck and floods my face, and I know I must be red. Christ, I’ve always blushed easily, but I spend more time red-faced around this guy than anyone else I can remember. “Maybe.” I meant it to sound flirtatious, but it comes out sounding more like a parent who means no, but doesn’t want to say it for fear of incurring a tantrum.
What the hell is wrong with me? I’m no Casanova, but I’m not a reclusive virgin, either. I usually have a pretty good dating life. I know how to flirt.
I pull out my phone. “What’s your number? I’ll text you.”
He rattles off the digits. I put them in my phone and then send him a text. The faint ding from his pocket tells me he got it.
The rest of the ride back to my resort is silent, and I’m pretty sure it’s my fault. Our conversation over dinner was so easy and fun—but my stupid failed attempt to be flirty seems to have killed the vibe. Is he regretting the whole thing? Wondering how he can get out of our date on Thursday?
He turns off the road onto the driveway of the resort, but instead of pulling up to the entrance, he takes the road that loops around the property to the four parking lots and the three other shuttle stops.
“Where—” I begin, but he interrupts me.
“Which is the closest parking lot to your room?”
Oh. He’s being thoughtful and saving me the seven-minute (no, I didn’t time it—the receptionist told me when I checked in) walk from the main building to the building that houses my room.
“The west one,” I tell him, and then we both fall silent again as he skilfully navigates along the deserted, mostly dark road. I rack my brain for something to say. How did this happen? Twenty minutes ago I was one half of an interesting, fun conversation. How did we go from that to awkward silence?
It has to be the idea of dating that’s turned us into mere acquaintances with little in common. Right? Until he confirmed that we were on a date, and I asked him on another one, everything was fine. After that, it all went downhill.
Wait… he knew all along that we were on a date. I was the one who wasn’t sure what he thought it was. Does that mean this is all me? Am I the reason for the awkwardness?
I’m saved from further introspection (although I suspect it’s going to keep me up most of the night) when Derek pulls into the west parking lot and finds a spot at the far end. The lot is pretty well-lit, but back in this corner there are more shadows.
I undo my seat belt. I’m almost desperate to get out of the car and away from this tension, but at the same time, I’m terrified that if I leave it like this, I’m going to get a text from Derek, canceling our date. What can I say to make it all better?
Derek’s hand on my face makes me jump.
“Whoa! Sorry, I didn’t mean….” He starts to pull away, but I grab his hand and hold it against my cheek. I like having him touch me.
Is this weird? Maybe he was just trying to get my attention and didn’t actually want to hold my face.
I drop my hand to my lap, giving him the opportunity to pull back. My face is hot, and I’m thankful for the dim light. He can probably still see that I’m blushing, but not exactly how red I am.
His fingers lightly stroke my cheek.
My breath stutters. I slowly turn to him. His face is closer than I expected, and there’s a soft smile on his lips. Even in the dimness of the car, I can see how warm the expression in his eyes is.
I swallow. His smile grows.
“I love when you blush,” he says. “It’s so—”
“Sweet?” I interrupt acidly. He shakes his head.
“Hot.” The word sits between us. Hot? Does he mean literally? Because, yeah, my skin gets hot when I—
Derek leans in and kisses me, and I get it. Hot. Derek thinks it’s hot when I blush. Really?
Also, man can he kiss.
I gotta be honest, the next few minutes kind of blur out. I’m too focused on Derek’s mouth on mine, his hands, his body—because my hands get busy too. The only words I can actually think are adjectives: warm, hard, wet, silky….
I’ve got my hands in his pants (and can I just say wow?) when it finally occurs to me that as cushy as Derek’s car is, it’s not roomy enough for us to fuck—well, not comfortably. I jerk back from his kiss. “Not here,” I pant. Crap, Kev’s likely to be back at our room by now. He was saying earlier that he was exhausted, not having had a day off, and wanted an early night. “Your place?” He’s gotta live in Joyville, right? That’s what, half an hour away?
Maybe we can get a room. We’re at a resort. I’m sure he gets an employee discount here too.
Derek sighs and pulls back, stroking my chest under my polo one last time before drawing his hand out. I miss it instantly.
Louisa Masters started reading romance much earlier than her mother thought she should. While other teenagers were sneaking out of the house, Louisa was sneaking romance novels in and working out how to read them without being discovered. She’s spent most of her life feeling sorry for people who don’t read, convinced that books are the solution to every problem. As an adult, she feeds her addiction in every spare second, only occasionally tearing herself away to do things like answer the phone and pay bills. She spent years trying to build a “sensible” career, working in bookstores, recruitment, resource management, administration, and as a travel agent, before finally conceding defeat and devoting herself to the world of romance novels.
Louisa has a long list of places first discovered in books that she wants to visit, and every so often she overcomes her loathing of jet lag and takes a trip that charges her imagination. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she whines about the weather for most of the year while secretly admitting she’ll probably never move.
Author Website: http://www.louisamasters.com
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James Brock has a new MM Military Romance out, and we have the cover reveal for “Dog Tagged.”
Drill Sergeant Clay Norris has his military life running right on schedule. Career focused he appreciates that he joined up when his sexuality is at least acknowledged under Don’t Ask, Don’t tell, even if he doesn’t get to act on his urges as much as he likes.
In formation with his new trainee group he locks eyes with Chevrolet Banks and his life, their lives, are changed forever.
Dog Tagged is an insta love military romance based on real life incidents.
James is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this cover reveal – enter via Rafflecopter:
What also became clear to me in my short time with the fun, cute guy was that I had fallen so hard for Private Chevy Banks that I couldn’t get him out of my head even standing next to this walking hard-on.
I did let the hot salesman give me a quick kiss on the cheek in the changing room and tried to forget the warmth of his lips as I headed out to the clubs and got some dance and further drink on, always bearing in mind that I was an officer now and had some decorum to maintain.
Okay, all that means is that I got pretty wasted.
And that I danced with all comers. I was quickly stripped out of that cute little shirt salesman Evan had put me in, my training ripped body giving me pick of the litter. Not last call litter, not still breathing and leftover litter. Porn star guys (REAL porn star guys) were fighting over me, actual pushing and shoving, it was quite the scene, the knot of men who had surrounded this former Drill Instructor.
At some point I looked up to see the smiling face of Evan the clerk from the clothing store next to me, an arm thrown protectively thrown around my shoulder. His sweet smile was the brightest of the lot, I latched onto him like an octopus gripping a clam.
I have no idea how long the revelry went on or how I got back to the hotel.
Let alone what might have happened there.
The next morning I woke not feeling well at all. Slick with sweat, sick to my stomach I rolled my head on the pillow slowly, not knowing what kind of guy I was going to find next to me. Thankfully the pillow was empty, as was the bed, although the blankets were mussed enough to let me know someone had recently nested there. Carefully lifting myself I checked the floor and was relieved to see no other bodies in the room.
But at that moment the bathroom door opened and a figure came out.
Evan, blond and sunny, cute as the night before in tattered jean and a faded green t shirt with a cracked and worn logo on it stepped into the darkened room.
“Hey buster, didn’t think you’d be up for a while,” he said with a giggle in his voice.
Flopping down onto the chair across the room he slipped his feet into athletic shoes and laced them. “Or should I be calling you Lieutenant Buster?” he added with a nod toward my dress uniform hanging neatly in the closet.
“Just call me a time machine man, I wanna go back about twelve hours and start over again.” I sighed from the bed. “What the fuck happened….”
“What didn’t happen is the better question,” Even said evenly. “you were wined and dined, if you count the bag of Dorito’s you were given to strap on like a feed bag dining, given drinks and very nearly given drugs and taken to other clubs and there was talk of taking you to that skeezy bath house connected to the dance club, but you wouldn’t go anywhere without me once I had been spotted. You seemed to be quite taken with modest little moi and since I refused to go to that bathhouse everyone was trying to get you to go to I finally got you back here where there were more drinks and salty snacks then there was some crying….” he trailed off. “I’ve ordered room service for you; hope you don’t mind.”
“Wait. Wait, wait.” I said using a nearly Drill Sergeant size voice as the handsome young man stood, “I need the whole story.”
About that time there was a knock at the door; Evan let room service in, signing the check. “You are a good tipper, just so you know,” he grinned while pushing the tray of food over toward me on the bed then pouring coffee. He motioned for me to eat then sat back down. “I was going out anyway so when I closed up I came over to the club and there you were, gaily lit as a Christmas tree and surrounded by faeries more headstrong and stubborn than Tinkerbell all out to get a piece of the hottest man in the city. Not the bar, the city. And I’m not just saying that because I am the one who ended up sleeping with you.”
I guess I looked up at him like a deer in head lights.
“Stop, don’t flatter me. I’ve got it going on but I’m not ripped like you. Word was out that there was a military hottie on the hoof in the club and every muscle queen and gym bunny in town showed up to audition as your hook-up for the night. I think guys were flying in from LA and San Francisco trying to get to you,” the blond smiled.
“So you brought me back here and we….” I said, mouth full of egg. The food was going down smoother than I expected it would.
“I didn’t get in the way of your fun too much, I just kept an eye on you. Until they started to undress you and began offering you pills, powders and potions.”
I felt myself shudder and freeze.
“Don’t worry. I didn’t let them. I just brought you back here, where you insisted on another drink or ten. Then you got weepy and I held you and let you talk about a car until you fell asleep. I dunno, everyone has a kink or two, but I’ve never heard anyone rhapsodize about a vehicle the way you went on and on about your Chevy last night.”
I was really embarrassed then.
I let a silence settle between us before taking a sip of scalding hot coffee and replying.
“Not a car, a guy,” I whispered.
“I fell off a turnip truck but that was a long time ago,” he smirked while reaching over and snagging a crisp piece of bacon off my plate and began chewing on it, “I figured as much.” Evan said with true kindness in his voice. “I had a brother in the Army and knew you were just blowing off some steam. Those wolves would have eaten you and I like to think someone would have looked after my brother the same way. Nothing happened between us.”
“That would have been the best part of the night it sounds like,” I managed, no longer interested in the food.
“You were a hot mess, but I am very glad you are alright. Now I’ve gotta go to work. If you are in town for a while here is my card.” With that Evan produced a business card with his name, number and e mail on it. “Use it at will.” he slipped the card on the breakfast tray then slid his arms around my body, giving me a very nice hug.
“Leaving tomorrow, but some other time without question.”
Stopping at the closet on his way out he reached in and touched the sleeve of my dress uniform.
“Are you going over?”
There was a slight pause before he broke his eyes form the uniform.
“Be safe. E mail and let me know how you are. Promise?”
“Promise, and thanks. Is your brother back?” there was a pause before Evan answered Yesin such a quiet way that I knew the way his brother had come home.
“I’m sorry,” was all I had time to say before the cute blond turned and gave me a wan smile and slipped out of the room.
James Brock is an Amazon number one best selling author, with fifteen M/M romance novels published and two family autobiographies.
Once upon a time he sold comedy to Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller, was published in every gay men’s magazine on the market (when there was a market, those dinosaurs were killed off by DVD, which were in turn eaten by streaming and on demand…), the Seattle Gay News and Seattle Standard and essays with the late great Alyson Publications.
James lives in Seattle.
Author Website: JamesBrockBooks.com
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