PROMO: The Left Hand of Dog

Promo

The Left Hand of Dog - SI Clarke

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.

Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Universal Buy Link | Goodreads


Giveaway

SI Clarke eBooks giveaway

SI Clarke is giving away four eBooks with this blog tour:

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Excerpt

MEME4 - The Left Hand of Dog

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.


Author Bio

SI Clarke

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/

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PROMO: Baja Clavius: Dream Time For Moon Men

Promo

Baja Clavius: Dream Time for Moon Men - Madeira Desouza

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.

Read It On Kindle Vella


Giveaway

Madeira is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

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.


Author Bio

Madeira Desouza

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

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PROMO: Windfall

Promo

Windfall - Shawna Barnett

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.

Publisher – Paperback | Publisher – Hardcover | Amazon | Goodreads


Giveaway

Shawna is giving away a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

Windfall - meme

Chapter 1

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.”


Author Bio

Shawna Barnett

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

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PROMO: Foxfire in the Snow

Promo

Foxfire in the Snow

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

Publisher | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audiobook


Giveaway

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:

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Excerpt

Foxfire in the Snow

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.

“Sorin the…”

“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.

Daughter.

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.


Author Bio

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

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PROMO: Qwyrk

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Qwyrk - Tim Rayborn

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


Giveaway

Tim is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

Qwyrk Meme

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.


Author Bio

Tim Rayborn

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

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PROMO: Darkness Master

Promo

(Sorry, been a while since I had any new release promos. Life happened.)

 

 

 

Darkness Master - Mary Rundle

 

 

Mary Rundle has a new MM paranormal romance out, Blackwood Pack book 10: Darkness Master. And there’s a giveaway!

 

The Blackwood Pack saga continues…

 

This is part of a continuing series by Amazon International Bestselling Author, Mary Rundle – reading the previous titles is advised. Readers will enjoy catching up with members of the Blackwood Pack and reading about what is happening to them as the pack does what it does best ̶ caring for one another and helping shifters everywhere.

 

Pursuing his dream, Sawyer heads to LA for some sun, waves and surfing lessons. After a disappointing day of surfing, he heads back to his campsite and meets Alex, his Fated Mate, who runs away, valuing his freedom more than anything else.

 

After the death of his wealthy, domineering father, Alex can finally shed a lifetime of restrictions. Leaving New York City, he sets out on a long, cross-country RV trip, unaware that an overnight stop in a Los Angeles campground will yield not one Fated Mate, but two! Shocked at meeting Sawyer, Alex rejects him, vowing never to be under the thumb of any Alpha mate.

 

Glenn, a career secret agent, is also in LA to seek help from his friend, Ghost, a surfing instructor, in his quest to find who is responsible for kidnapping Glenn’s mother and other rare shifters. After meeting up with Ghost, Glenn discovers his Fated Mate is Sawyer, his friend’s current surfing student.

 

After the three mates finally meet, each has to face up to some hard facts about their past and present lives before coming to an understanding that leads them to find love and happiness with each other.

 

Astounding surprises, rare and unique gifts, an action-packed mission, and many unexpected twists and turns make this passionate love story by Mary Rundle impossible to put down once you’ve read the first page.

 

 

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads

 

 


Giveaway

 

Mary is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and a Blackwood Pack mug to one lucky winner:

 

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47173/?

 


Excerpt

 

 

 

 

Darkness Master Meme

 

 

Rolling over, Alex stretched, groaning as a sliver of early morning light hit his eye. Quickly covering his face with a pillow, he lay there for a while, dozing on and off until finally the memories from last night filled his mind. Oh shit! He needed to get going if he was going to escape the control of a mate. Sitting up quickly, he glanced at the time, biting his lower lip when he saw it was after eight in the morning. Moving the curtain aside a hair, he peered out, sighing in relief when he saw no one outside. Thank goodness for that, at least. Scooting out of bed, he headed to the small bathroom to get ready to meet the day.

 

After a shower, he dressed quickly and then, after securing everything inside the trailer, grabbed a protein bar and a bottle of juice for breakfast. Sitting down at the table, he studied the map of Southern California. There were only two other gay campgrounds, neither of which were close to the one he was presently at. That meant a day of travel. Something Alex wasn’t very happy about but it was a far better alternative than finding himself again under someone’s thumb.

 

Taking another bite, he chewed slowly while considering the two options, head south to Palm Springs or north to San Francisco. According to his research both were meccas for men like him and both were on his list to visit. His goal was to pick the one he liked most, then buy a house, somewhere he’d be free from the restrictions others had always imposed on him for as long as he could remember.

 

If there were any doubts about taking off on his cross-country trip, they were gone as Alex began to experience what he’d been robbed of in his youth. Vowing to never fall under another person’s control again, he was quite prepared to live the rest of his life alone, finding pleasure in random hook-ups instead of being crunched under the boot of a mate. Even though he’d heard talk at school about the pleasures guaranteed by finding a fated mate, Alex knew the price was too high, at least for him. His only regret—and it wasn’t a deal breaker—was that his choice would mean accepting a lifetime of loneliness.

 

Finishing his breakfast, he decided to head south, keeping to his original plan to check out Palm Springs first. Folding up his map, Alex stuffed it back into the folder before gathering up some water and snacks to take with him in the SUV. Glancing around the trailer once more to make sure everything was secured, he opened the door. Lifting his gaze, Alex stopped mid step as his eyes landed on the one person he was hoping to avoid.

 

Standing naked at the edge of the clearing after shifting, Sawyer stared at the slim man whose face he would never forget. His mate was even more beautiful in the daylight. When he saw Alex’s tongue tentatively licking his lower lip, his body flamed with desire, his now-hardened cock quivering against Sawyer’s stomach, demanding to be sheathed in his mate’s body. Never, in all the time he sought pleasure with strangers, did he ever feel the overpowering need to be one with another as he did now. There wasn’t any way he could deny what his body was telling him. Taking a step forward, Sawyer reached out his hand, wanting to touch his mate’s body…to bury his nose against his mate’s neck…to imprint his mate’s scent in his heart…to mark the man as his.

 

All of Alex’s plans to flee flew out of his mind as he gazed at the gorgeous, naked man in front of him. Shivers ran up his spine, his cock hardened, his legs trembled. Intense desire ran through his body, overtaking his mind until all he could think of was that man taking him, easing his need, filling him up with cum. Nothing else mattered now…his preparations to leave were replaced by images of him surrendering as the man’s cock entered his body, making Alex his mate. His jeans were too tight, the flannel shirt was suddenly too hot, the urge to tear off his clothes had his fingers reaching for a button but when the man moved towards him it was as if someone had dumped a bucket of ice cold water over his body allowing him to remember his vow to remain free. Panicking now, he held up his hands. “No…don’t come closer. I don’t want you. Leave me alone!” Turning around, he retreated back into the trailer, slamming the door behind him.

 


Author Bio

 

 

 

 

Mary Rundle Logo

 

 

The first book I ever wrote was Dire Warning in 2017 and, much to my delight, it became an Amazon Best-Seller. Readers loved it and I was on my way to chronicling the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates—stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure and, of course, happy endings.

 

As my books began to be translated into other languages, I also became an Amazon International Best-Selling author and then achieved the honor of becoming an Amazon All Star due to their popularity. My tenth book, Darkness Master has just been published and audible versions of the entire series are in progress.

 

I love the M/M paranormal genre because it gives my imagination a lot of territory in which to roam. My mind can really run wild and come up with some amazing stuff when it doesn’t have to stay inside the box.

 

My readers tell me they feel like they’re members of the pack as the stories unfold…as if they’re right there in the middle of the action. Others tell me it’s like watching a fast-paced movie. My writing style pulls no punches…readers love it and are always clamoring for the next book.

 

Stories come to me as if channeled by my characters, all of whom I love (except for a few villains). They are eager to recount their lives, loves and adventures and are not inhibited when it comes to revealing steamy, sexy details.

 

I currently live in the Northeast and love the beautiful change of seasons, my husband, and our quirky calico cat, though not necessarily in that order. I’m always happy to hear from my readers and can be reached through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, or my website.

 

Author Website: https://www.maryrundle.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundle69

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundleauthor/

Author Facebook (Group Page): https://www.facebook.com/groups/171112140176036

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryRundle69

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryrundle69

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14246427.Mary_Rundle

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/mary-rundle/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Rundle/e/B0763CDQQ6

 

 

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PROMO: Skythane

Promo

Skythane - J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out, Liminal Sky: Oberon Cycle Book 1: “Skythane.”

Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnson, a handsome, cocky skythane with a troubled past.

Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.

Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them.

Get It On Amazon


Giveaway

Scott is giving away your choice of a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or a signed first edition of the Liminal Sky: Ariadne Cycle Trilogy (USA only). Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Skythane Meme

Prologue

And we fairies, that do run

By the triple Hecate’s team,

From the presence of the sun,

Following darkness like a dream.

–William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Quince sat at her desk by the window of her flat, staring off into the distance through the floor-to-ceiling plas window.

Outside, the storm was coming. It had roared out of the Pyramus Mountains that morning, causing flooding all the way down to the Gildensea, and now the vast tempest was approaching Oberon City. The angry purple clouds stretched up to at least 30,000 feet above sea level, and great multiforked lightning bolts lanced down from the sky.

She was tired of everything—the city, the attitudes. A winged skythane woman among all these wingless lander men.

The streetscape of the city lay spread out below her, thousands of amber lights running in strings along the main roadways where the ground transportation rumbled among the mostly industrial buildings.

In the distance beneath the clouds, she could just make out the blue shadow of the Pyramus Mountains, their peaks a sharp-toothed wall of darkness along the eastern edge of the world. Above them, in a break in the clouds, the stars swam in the deepest night, thickest overhead.

Neither Hermia nor Lysander, Oberon’s two moons, was up to challenge the stellar dominance of the night sky. Somewhere out there, Titan Station tracked slowly across the heavens.

She watched it all from her small apartment, perched halfway up one of Oberon’s great arcos—ten two-hundred-story residential-commercial habitats that housed most of the population of the city.

In her mind’s eye, she could see the waters of the Argent Sea on another world, lapping at the rocks far below her bedroom window, half a lifetime ago.

She closed her eyes and remembered the day it had all begun.

Quince was all alone in the forest just outside Ballifor, searching for hoarberries to take back home to her uncle’s house. She walked under the great redoak trees, the sunlight filtering pink through the branches and leafy canopies down to the forest floor.

Something cracked behind her, and she spun around, catching her foot on a root and falling hard to the ground. When she looked up, winded by the fall, the most beautiful creature stood there, looking down on her.

It was a nimfeach. She… or was it a he? It, she decided. It looked like a luminescent butterfly as tall as a human being, its gossamer wings trailing off into a shower of soft sparks, golden in the darkness under the trees. Its features were humanoid, but its eyes were far larger, and its face was heart shaped.

The nimfeach had existed here for as long as humanity. There were legends about them going back to the first skythane settlers. Some said they brought luck; others that they were tricksters.

Quince was unafraid. She stood and approached the creature. Its large eyes regarded her with what she could only interpret as curiosity.

It held out a glowing hand with three fingers, and she lifted up her own so that they met.

Quince.

She nodded.

I have come to find you.

Quince broke contact, surprised. How could such a beautiful creature know someone as lowly as she, let alone want to speak with her?

The voice persisted. There is a task we must ask you to perform. It will not be easy, and it will profoundly change your life.

Quince considered. Her life was dull beyond words, living here in a small village away from Gaelan and the Court. Maybe it was time it changed for the better. She nodded. “What do you want me to do?”

The creature smiled, and Quince was flooded with warmth. When the Queen of the Gaelani calls for you, you must go. She has borne a child….

Shortly after, she had been summoned by the Queen. Apparently Robyn had gotten a visitor too.

A loud crack of thunder startled her out of her reverie. She had been so young then. Sometimes she felt she’d lived a century in these past twenty-five years.

These storms had grown worse these last few months. Her time here was growing short.

The last message from Robyn had arrived in a tube tied to the scaled leg of an imprean along with a vial of pith, a delivery method so antiquated it made her smile.

The news inside had not.

The King was dead. Whether by natural causes or the machinations of the invaders, it wasn’t clear. But what was clear was that their quarter-century wait was at an end.

Coincidental or not, the crisis they had anticipated was upon them.

With luck, they would be reunited soon, and the years-long occupation of Gaelan would come to an end. All their carefully laid plans were coming to fruition at last, but there were so many things that could still go wrong.

She tapped the side of her head, activating her cirq. “Ari, where is Davyn?” she asked quietly. It had taken Quince a long time to get used to the tech of the Common Worlds, so different from how simple things had been back home, so inherently invasive, and yet, so convenient.

Her personal assistant responded immediately. “Xander is at home. All vital signs seem normal, though he does appear to be in a state of some excitement.” The voice was warm and professional.

Quince chuckled. I’ll bet he is. “And Lyrin?” He’s finally coming home.

This time it took longer.

While she waited, Quince went over her contingency plans. She had to get the two of them together, and soon. The fate of both worlds depended on it.

She recited Elyra’s prophecy—written seven hundred and fifty years before—that she had long ago committed to memory:

Tempest comes with clash and thunder,

Skies alight with rainbow’s blood,

When the sunlight runs to red,

Comes the reaper for the dead.

One with wings as black as night

One with wings of golden light

Spin the worlds back into one

To save them from the murdering sun.

It looked like the end time was finally here.

Ari broke into her reverie. “Jameson is on approach—he has arrived at Titan Station and is expected in Oberon City by shuttle this afternoon at 13:20.”

“Thank you, Ari.” Everyone said personal assistants were just bioware, that they had no true feelings, but it cost her nothing to be polite. One never knew.

“You’re welcome, Quince.” Ari sounded satisfied.

Quince closed her eyes and sat back, thinking about all the things that could’ve gone wrong up to this point. Thinking about Robyn with her long dark hair, her eyes alight with mischief….

She shook her head. This was no time for fanciful daydreams. “Ari, access protocol ‘clear screen.’”

There was a slight pause. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Please run the protocol.”

“Running protocol ‘clear screen.’”

In five minutes, all record of her time here would be erased from Oberon’s grid. Even in the virtual jungle, it was best to cover one’s tracks.

She stared off toward the edge of Oberon City for a moment longer. Beneath the approaching storm, the neat, geometric lines of the city scrambled and snarled in the Slander, where the Syndicate held sway.

Quince stood and took one last look around the small, sparsely furnished room. It wasn’t much. She had chosen it mostly for the view, which had astonished her when she had first arrived in this thriving, decadent metropolis so many years before. The room held a bed, a small writing desk by the window, and a couple chairs.

There was an open carry sack on the mattress, filled with the few possessions she cared to take with her.

The apartment was impersonal, and yet it had been hers for these twenty-five long years.

She closed her eyes. She was tired of fighting. So tired. She sighed, resigned to the fact that her life was about to change once again, but soon enough it would all be over.

She checked the contents of her carry sack once more, then ran her hand over the edge of the bag to seal it seamlessly. She snapped the straps over her shoulders, letting the sack rest between her white-feathered wings.

She closed the door closed behind her, leaving the place empty.

As if she had never been there at all.


Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth

Scott 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).

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Twitter: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com/jscoatsworth

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jscottcoatsworth/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth?from_search=true

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

LOGO - Other Worlds Ink

PROMO: Prince Ivan, A. Wolfe, & A Firebird

Promo, Uncategorized

Prince Ivan, A. Wolfe & A Firebird - Eric Alan Westfall

Eric Alan Westfall has a new queer fairy tale out: Prince Ivan, “A. Wolfe & A Firebird.” And there’s a giveaway!

Dear Reader,

What do you get when you combine a greedy Great Tsar, his two cheating, bullying older sons, his youngest esser (shh! no saying that aloud) son, stolen gold apples, a Firebird quest, A. Wolfe who has the power t’assume a pleasing shape, a magickal sandstorm, as well as two bands and a full Symphony of Gipsumies?

A rollicking, roisterous Russian Fairy Tale, with vigorous esser activities in tents, halls, bedrooms and alcoves, with and without the assistance of PSTs. Plus princely parades, a duel over Gus, new lyrics to an old drinking song, and the possibility of bits of blood, gobs of gore or moments of mayhem. As required by CORA (the Code of RFT Authors), should these occur, your author will give you timely warning.

Ah. Still not ready to part with your kopek-equivalent? Consider the fun you’ll have reading chapters like:

  • “To Kvetch, Or Not To Kvetch? A Reader’s Choice”
  • “Ivan Has A Close Encounter Of The F-Word Kind”
  • “Second Direction Questers vs. The Caliph’s Sayer Of Sooths”
  • “Will Sasha Succeed In Seducing Prince Ivan?”
  • Bad Prince Ivan! No Touch Cage!”
  • “A Travel Pause For Gratuitous Sex In The Tent—Which Does Not Advance The Plot—At The Insistence Of The Characters”
  • “A Necessary Interlude To Consider The Age-Old Questing Question: What The [Expletive Of Your Choice, Dear Reader] Do We Do Next?”

If you buy it and try it, you’ll like it, or so says your most talen…er…humble author.

p.s. If Karrie Jax and I have covered you and blurbed you to buy, look for “Dear Reader, Along The Way, Did You Happen To See The Allusion To Olivier?” in the TOC. It’s a spot-the-allusions chance at gift cards of $25, $15, or $10.

166,000 words of story fun and frolic, plus a 2160-word teaser from another MM fairytale: The Tinderbox.

Amazon | Smashwords | Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Eric is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Prince Ivan, A Wolfe & A Firebird meme

IVAN PUTS HIS HORSE AT RISK, AND MEETS A. WOLFE

“A wolf who talks,” Ivan said, his voice all full of surprise.

“I am not a wolf, Prince Ivan, I am A. Wolfe.”

Ivan lifted an eyebrow, in his long-perfected “inquiring princes want to know what you mean” mode, while wondering what effect it might have on such an enormous beast. Well, not a beast, exactly, since it could talk.

No reaction, except the bright gold eyes—so like one of his father’s apples, well-polished after plucking, or the gold circles in the Firebird’s tail—stared back, unblinking.

Since his eyebrow inquiry failed to a verbal response, it was Ivan’s turn to talk. Politeness had worked with the Firebird, when used in place of “I am royal, hear me roar” arrogance, and might be best for Ivan’s well-being in the current situation, conversing with a wolf, the top of whose head was above Gus’ shoulder.

“‘A wolf who talks,’” yes. My exact words, Sir Wolf.”

The wolf opened his mouth. Wide. No mere flash this time. Ivan was fully fanged. As they had only just met, he could not tell whether he was being fang-grinned for a reason he could not fathom, or fierce-fanged to frighten him. If it was the latter, there was a glimmer of starting-to-work happening.

But the wolf’s voice was neither fierce nor fun-filled when he hid most of his fangs and talked again. His tone was a goblet of great size, filled not just to the brim but overflowing—with more coming from somewhere so the over kept on flowing—with…patience. The kind of patience you use for, with, and on, those who are not very bright. Indeed, those who are so dim that if their brains were used to provide light for reading at night they’d be as effective as an inch-tall stub of a quarter-inch wide candle, set in a candlestick in the bowels of a cavern on the far side of a mountain range five-and-a-half eighths of a continent away.

“When you bathe, do you clean your ears, Prince Ivan?” [See above for how he said it.]

“Uh…what?”

A sigh was heard.

Ivan wished he’d brought along a sigh that big, but then, since it was a large wolf letting it loose, accompanied by, Ivan was almost sure, a hint of a scent of pasta, pesto, garlic and butter, Ivan might not have been able to use it with the same effect. The sigh might almost have been designed to complement the show-patience-to-the-afflicted voice.

“Do. You. Clean—”

“I heard you the first time, Sir Wolf. I just don’t understa—”

It was the wolf’s turn to interrupt. “It’s clear you don’t understand, young prince. I was trying to ascertain whether your inability to understand plain Russian was based on a physical defect—stuffed ears, whether unclean or for another reason, bad hearing, something of that sort—and if not, on some mental lack which in theory requires me to be considerate and gentle.”

There was a tiny pause, so infinitesimal Ivan would have had no chance to get a syllable of a word in edgewise, sidewise, upwise, or downwise, even had he tried. “You do understand kindness and gentleness are not traits associated with a wolf, and especially not A. Wolfe?”

At the end of this series of insults, the Great Tsar would have raged, calling on his ever-present Imperial Guards to “Rid me of this wolf!”

Anatol would have ranted about the presumptuousness of peasants who did not know or stay in their proper place, probably forgetting who had just offended his sense of propriety.

Vlad would have grabbed his sword, and whether from horseback, or following a grandiose leap to the ground which displayed his awesome athleticism for the admiration of any viewers lurking in the vicinity—it was his policy to always act as if he was being viewed with admiration—would have started hewing and hacking away.

In part because Ivan suspected the outcome would have been the same with all three of those scenes—dead soldiers, dead royal family, likely including bystander youngest prince—Ivan chose the fourth door…and laughed.

He couldn’t say why he saw—thought he saw—a twinkle of humor in the great golden eyes. But he must have been right, because the wolf didn’t leap up, all howling, growling and slavering, and drag him off Gus before doing the devouring which would logically follow offending laughter.

Ivan forced a halt to his own humor. With gasps interrupting his initial words, he said, “My apologies, Sir Wolf. I was not laughing at you. It was an image in my head of my family’s reactions to your words, and yours to theirs. However, with all the respect to which you are entitled, which seems to be at least a reasonable amount”—Ivan was willing to be reasonable, but not obsequious—“I have no mental or physical defect which interferes with my hearing or my understanding. Perhaps the, ah, flaw lies in your explanation of what you mean? Or, you might consider, the lack of one?”

Ivan gave the wolf a princely grin of satisfaction with his response.

Wolfe gave the prince back a wolfeish huff. “I’ll entertain the possibility you might be right, if you’ll entertain the possibility you are not listening as well as you should.”

Ivan nodded.

“Very well. Repeat after me, ‘A wolf is not the same as A. Wolfe.’”

“A wolf is not the same as a wolf.”

Wolfe sighed again. He apparently had an inexhaustible supply, in a wide range of sizes.

“A wolf is an animal, Prince Ivan. It resembles me, but is far smaller, roams the forest, howls from time to time for various reasons, and at times for no reason at all. Perhaps because it doesn’t reason. I am a wolfe—with an ‘e’ at the end. Which means I have magickal skills. My name is: A…full stop…Wolfe.”

Ivan grinned again. “Your first name is Afullstop? What an unusual name. Not Russian, is it?”

No. Not an ‘uh’ sound, but a long a-sound, which rhym… You’re teasing.”

Ivan learned another lesson in wolfe-prince relations. A wolf-with-an-e-at-the-end could grin, without his fangs looking all fearsome.

Ivan widened his own grin. “I am. So what does long-A stand for?”

“Aleksandr.”

“A handsome name for a handsome wolf-with-an-e.”

Ivan paused. He shouldn’t, he really shouldn’t, but he decided he would, anyway. “Sir Wolfe, now that I know your name is A. Wolfe, and since we are being so precise with our pronunciations, are you really quite certain I shouldn’t call you ‘A. Wolfie?’ To be sure the final ‘e’ gets its just and proper due?”

Ah. So that’s what a Wolfeish glare looked like with a fillip of fang.


UNIQUE CONTENT!

A Pause to Provide a Reassuring Response for the Horse Kvetchers in the Crowd

The author extends his apologies, dear reader, for this interruption. But the kvetchers in the crowd, whinging on and on about the horses, are a probable distraction for other readers who, unlike you, are incapable of fully focusing on the tale while extraneous noise is being made. So, if you will be so kind as to bear wi—

The horses belonging to the princes. As you will recall, the horses were…

Oh. You don’t.

Ah.

Well, in that case, this interruption will serve as a reminder for those who perhaps don’t care as much as they should about tales which seem to include the abandonment of two fine animals to an unknown, and potentially dire fate, given the RFTness going on. This will also be a reassurance for those more vocal in their concerns over the possibility of off-page horse endangerment.

As it so happened—and as you know, you may trust the author to true-tell all this tale’s events occurring on and off the pages—not long after the brothers were swept up and swirled away by the sandst…

No. There has not been a precise allocation of the passage of a particular amount of time sufficient to serve as a definition of “not long.” Suffice it to say—and with all the authorial respect appropriately due to the kvetchers in the crowd, when this author decides something sufficeth, more than a mere sufficiency of sufficing has thereby been accomplished—the not-longness was not short enough to make subsequent events even more improbable than they already are because of the fairy taleness occurring, but also not long enough for the horses to experience more the mildest need for something to eat or drink.

If the author may now proceed?

Thank you.

As the author was saying, not long after the brothers were swept up and swirled away by the sandstorm, a band of Gipsumies happened by.

A happenstance of any form, of course, is by its very nature naturally nothing more than an alternative form of coincidence, but one which carries with it far less sheerness.

The Gipsumies—sometimes referred to by the ignorant as Roaminies, which they find offensive—were experienced travelers and well aware they were well beyond the far edge of All The Russias in the third direction.

Their band arrived at the site of the happenstance—the location of two saddled, bridled, Imperial warhorses—with all its instruments in tune, and being played with vigor, especially the violins, and with the men, women, and other genders, dancing with spectacular (of the non-Russian-axe variety) leaps and bounds, swirls and twirls and intricate steps. The perfect-pitch singers sang a series of songs during the course of the happening-by arrival, with also-perfect timing so they all finished simultaneously with a final stamp of the dancers’ feet, and a long-lasting high or low note from the singers.

No. There is no definition of how long the last notes lasted.

Great Tsar’s War Hammer, as named by Vlad—the horse much preferred his actual name, Nikki, but he answered to the other one because he had no choice—had seen a Gipsumy arrival before in Moscow and was impressed. Unaware this was only a rehearsal, he rose a bit on his back legs, and slammed his front feet down, giving them his stamp of approval.

Gleb, who answered to Anatol’s choice of Imperial Storm Racer, had seen that Moscow arrival alongside Nikki, but was less impressed with this one. He gave it only a modest half-stamp of a left foreleg of approval.

Rehearsal and arrival complete, the members of the band swiftly put their instruments away, stripped off their costumes and handed them over to the cleaners, and donned working garb in dull, drab colors, designed to make them easily overlookable in civilized circumstances. That done, the pre-selected men and women—it was the other genders’ turn for a day off from this task—spread out to investigate this most excellent finding in many a happening-by.

What the surroundings said to the Gipsumy investigators in subtle signs was threefold.

First fold, “There’s no one anywhere around who might claim to be the owner of the horses.”

Second fold, “There are some owner-type footsteps leading from the horses to the edge of the desert, but there are no steps indicating an owner’s desire to return to two valuable horses before anyone happens upon them and concludes they were abandoned. There are no signs of steps to the right of the desert line, nor steps to the left, or steps out into the desert. Therefore, the only conclusion to a reasonable degree of Gipsumy investigatorial certainty, is that the owners stepped out onto the sand and were likely sucked down.” (One lithe, elegant, more fey than the Fae, Gipsumy man sighed at the thought of such a sad ending to a sucking.)

Third fold, “Inasmuch as horse abandonment is a clear sign of intent to relinquish ownership thereof to anyone who thereafter happens by, and we, having thereafter happened by, it unquestionably follows the horses, and everything on them, are ours.”

Experienced in avoiding ownership confusions caused by returning persons denying horsical abandonment, the members of the band took the time for a brief meal and taking care of those needs which cannot be mentioned. After hitching Nikki and Gleb to the back of the chief’s caravan, and storing the saddles, bridles, saddlebags, and everything else in secret compartments scattered throughout the rest of the band’s caravans, they left the scene of the happenstance.

Some time later—

No!

they reached actual civilization, and thanks in part to the parchment provenance carefully crafted on the way, the Gipsumies made a more than healthy profit off an investment of the few rubles spent keeping the horses healthy and happy on the journey.

As paid-up members of GAPCHBOP—the Gipsumy Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Happened-By Beasts and Other Property—this band took more than the minimum amount of time mandated by GAPCHBOP rules to ensure that the new owner of both horses would treat them with love, care, and good food, water and grooming.

The author adds his personal assurances that many years after the events in this tale were concluded, Nikki and Gleb died of comfortable old age, surrounded by several herds’ worth of horsical friends, acquaintances and a great many descendants, the pair having been most active in their post-prince years.

Moving along, dear readers, moving along…


Author Bio

Eric Alan Westfall

Eric is an American Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “He’s old enough to have sailed with Noah.” In the real world he writes for a living, with those who would claim what he writes is fiction. His partner of thirty years—who died unexpectedly in 1995—enthusiastically encouraged him to try to get his writing published (mostly poetry back then, plus some short stories), but he didn’t have the guts to do so until 2013. At this point he’s not sure which was officially first, The Song, or Like a Mountain, Waiting.

Starting then, he’s published 13 novels and novellas, 1 poetry collection, 2 short story collections, and 3 short stories. God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, 2020 will also see The Tinderbox out and about. But since real life is, as we all know, a pain in the (anatomical site of your choice)…no guarantees.

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PROMO: The Qinali Virus

Promo

The Qinali VirusValerie J. Mikles has a new queer sci fi book out: “The Qinali Virus.”

Rage. Poverty. Disease.

They’re gone. Every last one.

The cost was great. The population has been devastated. But for the survivors, utopia has arrived.

Then the suspicious death of a young person forces Amber to question her world like she never has before. The Contentedness Council is after her, determined to protect their perfect society. Now Amber must unbury her city’s repressed past, expose the crimes that led to their utopia, and find a way to stop the Council from killing the world… again.

Join astral-projecting asexual Amber and her telepathic sister as they fight to save the human race from extermination!

Get It on Amazon


Excerpt

The Qinali Virus MemeJenise gasped. “Don’t do it.”

“Don’t call for help?” Amber asked, setting the tablet aside. “This is an astral injury. Maybe someone back home can help you.”

“No, please,” Jenise whimpered.

Amber felt her body vibrating and heard a ringing in her ears. The world became hazy and she saw her physical body collapsed on the ground. She hadn’t moved, and when she reached to the side, her hands passed through everything. This was how her book had described the astral plane.

“I did it! I’m here,” she squealed. Then she saw Jenise lying on the ground. A needle-like splinter pierced Jenise’s brain, and her aura seemed to ooze from the wound.

“Oh, this… this is bad…” Amber stammered, gathering the oozing essence back toward Jenise. Her hand went right through the glowing ooze and Jenise’s body. “How can I help you if I can’t touch you? What did the book say?”

“She’s coming for me,” Jenise murmured. Her physical form twitched, the red welts spreading as the needle dug deeper into her brain. Amber tried to clamp Jenise’s chin, but Jenise’s body passed through hers, so she grabbed the needle, and suddenly Jenise went still. She saw the needle because Jenise had described the needle. It was a manifestation of an injury; not a physical injury.

“I can manipulate a manifestation,” Amber murmured. Moving gingerly, Amber extracted the needle from her sister’s brain, and Jenise started to scream.

“Do you want me to stop?” Amber asked. Jenise kept screaming, oblivious to the question.

Gritting her teeth, Amber removed more of the needle, and her sister’s essence gushed from the wound. Amber blew gently on the oozing liquid and it seemed to dissolve into her sister’s skin. Once the needle was out, she molded her hands around her sister’s head, trying to close the wound. Her hands kept passing through Jenise’s skull, making her twitch. Amber didn’t like astral surgery, and she hoped she was helping.

“They’re coming,” Jenise murmured, her hands flailing, passing through Amber’s astral body. She felt her form vibrate and a ringing sound filled her ears.

“No. No, I’m not finished!” Amber cried, feeling an anchor pulling her back to her physical form. She curled into a fetal position, fighting to get back to the astral plane.

Jenise rolled onto her side and spooned behind Amber. “We have to run,” she rasped. “Someone’s coming.”

“Who? Is it Parey? Someone from the Council?” Amber asked. Amber heard the truck now, its wheels crushing the dirt and gravel as it came down the road from Highmere.

“I can’t tell,” Jenise rasped. “Don’t give up, Amber. Don’t go back.”

Amber sensed Jenise’s urgency, but when she saw the truck, she felt relieved. Running meant more isolation and uncertainty. What if Jenise wasn’t really better? Going back to Highmere made sense.

“Let’s go home,” Amber said. “You were scared, Jenise. We were scared. We can say… I don’t know. They’ll give us counseling and then we can go back to our lives.”

“I don’t want to go to brainwashing therapy,” Jenise said.

“Stop calling it that,” Amber explained.

“You don’t even know, do you?” Jenise said. “You don’t remember how you were before Cenn died. What “therapy” did to you.”

“It helped,” Amber insisted, looking hopefully at the truck ambling toward them. “I was a mess. I needed to be able to talk to someone without dumping it on all of you.”

“But you stopped feeling,” Jenise argued. “Not just the grief; you stopped feeling joy. You used to make twittering noises when you read books. You used to get so excited about things that Cenn had to sit you down so you wouldn’t pass out.”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll be calm,” Amber said, fighting for a reason to trust her people. “They want the tablet with Chenna’s research. That’s all this is. A misunderstanding.”

“I was almost misunderstood to death!” Jenise cried, kicking at Amber, and rolling out of reach.

“Jenise, unless you can move, we can’t outrun them,” Amber said. “I am not leaving without you. I—oh, no.”

The stress of the argument made her dizzy and she dropped to her knees. A moment later, she was standing by the road, watching the truck roll by. Her voice caught in her throat, but she didn’t need to call out. The husky man in the passenger seat saw her and hollered, and the truck screeched to a stop. She recognized him from the Council—Tobin Wauld.

“I know we’re not supposed to be here. We’re scared. Can you take us home?” she asked. The weight of fear lifted for a moment, but then Wauld hoisted himself out the window, and drew a long-barreled weapon.

“Well, well, Discontent Delouise. This was too easy,” he smirked.

Amber’s lips quivered and her legs froze. She’d never seen a weapon like that in Highmere, but she’d seen them in that zombie movie. Run, you idiot, her brain shouted. She’d muttered it at the characters in the movies often enough.

He shot Amber with an orange-tipped weapon as he stalked past. She felt the sting of the puncture and a thin stream of liquid dripping into her astral form.

“Tobin, you shot her!” his companion cried.

“We came with tranqs for a reason. We don’t have time to argue with discontents,” Wauld said.

Amber still couldn’t believe a councilperson had shot her. Pretending to faint, she turned and dropped, rolling down the embankment. The moment the truck was out of sight, she willed herself back to her physical body.

“How’d it go?” Jenise asked.

“They shot me,” Amber said. Her whole body was trembling from adrenaline and she could feel the spread of the tranquilizer dart pushing against it.

“Misunderstanding?” Jenise taunted.

“Oh, no. Very clear,” Amber said, blinking away the spots in her vision. She had never experienced violence in Highmere, and she didn’t even know her people had dart guns. The feelings of shock and betrayal hit her in waves, as did a profound sense of loss. This wasn’t a short camping trip that ended with a meek return home anymore.


Author Bio

The Qinali Virus - Valerie J MiklesValerie loves dancing, writing, astronomy, sci-fi, and grapes. She’s agender, aromantic, and asexual, and even though her labels describe many things she is not, her motto in life is “I can be everything I want, just not all at the same time.”

Although she has yet to get paid to eat grapes, she was delighted to learn that people would pay her to study black holes, and spent much of her twenties as a black hole hunter. She was rewarded with an astronomy PhD, which promptly inspired her to move to L.A. to be a screenwriter. How she ended up working on weather satellites for NOAA, we may never know.

Her passion for story-telling extends back to before she could write, and in fall 2017, she achieved a life dream and published her first book, “The Disappeared.” Valerie currently has six books published in her New Dawn series You can learn more about Valerie’s books on her website: http://www.valeriejmikles.com

An asexual activist, Valerie has written and produced a series of comedic short films featuring asexual characters. You can watch her films online at: http://www.aces-sitcom.com. Her third book ‘Trade Circle’ features an asexual protagonist, and interestingly, she created this character before she even knew there was a word to describe it. She is super-excited about the release of the Qinali Virus, featuring an asexual, aromantic astronomer (and a weather satellite for good measure).

Author Website: http://www.valeriejmikles.com

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Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/valeriebean

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PROMO: Belega

Promo

Belega - Dianne HartsockDianne Hartsock has a new MM fantasy romance book out, The Karthagans Book One: “Belega.”

The Karthagans have regained their ancient powers of manipulating nature, but at the price of madness. In their lust for control they’ve destroyed their island and most of their race. They come now to Belega where one of them, Camron, seeks domination over the known world.

The Mage has come from the northern continent of Sennia to bring peace, but finding his strength no match for the coming struggle, he passes his abilities on to Natan, who only desires a simple life. Now only Natan has the ability to stop Camron, but the personal cost is more than he imagines.

It is only with the combined strength of his friends, his Karthagan lover, Kavi, and his deep desire to bring peace to the earth, that he finds the courage to overcome Camron and restore balance to the world. The power of the mind is immense.

In this world, mankind has learned to gather the energies of creation to use at their whim. But absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Publisher | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN

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Giveaway

Dianne is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47115/?


Excerpt

Belega meme - Dianne Hartsock“I have you.”

Natan rose into a low crouch from the scrub brush, careful not to scrape his cloak against the foliage, and searched his memory for the trick Kavi had taught him. Oh, yes. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, releasing all worries. His expectations. Letting go. The clip of the horse’s hooves echoed in his mind and he concentrated on that, the smell of the horse, the feel of its hide, the oats on its breath. He became aware of a vague fear in the animal’s mind.

But then the tenuous connection broke without time to try again as the soldier leading the roan brought him to a stop, his gaze sweeping the path ahead, alert. Gathering his scattered wits as best he could, Natan lunged to his feet and dove for the soldier’s legs. They went down hard, Natan gasping at the whoosh of air against his cheek as the horse reared, hooves barely missing him. Knowing he was no match for the soldier physically, he scrambled to jab a knee into the man’s back, then drew his thin knife and pressed it against the pulse at his throat and felt him stiffen.

“Hold very still,” he warned. The soldier didn’t move as the keen blade inadvertently nicked his skin. Recalling Kavi’s imprisonment, Natan gritted his teeth and swung his arm back, then brought the hilt of the knife down sharply on his vulnerable skull. The man went limp with a grunt. Natan climbed to his feet, cursing under his breath as the horse disappeared up the trail. He rolled the man over so his face wouldn’t be in the dirt, making sure he could breathe without difficulty.

Frowning at the thick trees crowding them, he left his captive a moment to scout the vicinity, at last coming upon a small clearing off the trail. It took some effort to drag the unconscious soldier to the spot, and a relief to roll the heavy body down the last few feet. He retrieved leather strips from his pack and bound the man’s hands and feet to a small sapling, and examined the soldier’s head once again. Although the purplish welt had swollen, the bleeding had stopped.

Natan watched the soldier a moment, and shook his head in disgust when he didn’t waken. “Hit him too hard,” he muttered, angry with himself. He built a small fire as the air grew chilly, and sat with his back to a tree while he waited for the soldier to regain consciousness. Darkness descended on the forest and he chewed his lips in growing anxiety. Bryon had gone to Nagal to petition the Mage to help them recover Kavi. Had he reached the city yet? If so, Natan would need to be at the Lake of Glass to meet with them in a few short days. A lifetime, while Kavi remained captive.

He sharpened his knife on a whetstone to pass the time while the soldier remained unconscious. The stars came out and an ache crept into his chest as he thought of Kavi and how they used to lie awake and watch for falling stars. Natan would make them tea in a little pot over the fire, and they’d wrap in warm blankets and talk quietly while the sky wheeled overhead. Sometimes they made love, Kavi’s warm sleek body pliant as Natan searched out new ways to draw those sweet breathy moans from his lips.

And then it had all ended. Natan closed his eyes at the jab of pain in his heart. The Nagal soldiers had come to their camp and dragged Kavi away, laughing when Natan struggled, and methodically beat him senseless. That had been two weeks ago, and every attempt he’d made to find his lover had failed. The last time he’d been threatened with imprisonment himself.

He would do Kavi no good behind iron bars, he reminded himself again.

Natan opened his eyes to find the captive staring at him from where he’d slumped against the tree. Natan went over and helped him to a sitting position.

“What’s your name?” he asked with ice in his voice. The man continued to stare at him, insolent. Natan looked him over carefully. “Let me guess. You’re dressed as a Nagal soldier, though you’re obviously not one. Maybe a deserter? Maybe a Barkuit spy?” He watched the soldier’s face as he named the rival country, then leaned closer to whisper, “What of Kavi?”

“That trash?” the man asked in surprise, and yelped when Natan lunged at him, knife slipping into his hand.  “Say that again and I’ll slit your throat. Now, what

is your name?”

“Captain Syros Reed.”

Natan sat back on his heels, fury hot in his chest.

“Speak.”

“I could tell you where they mean to bury him,” Syros drawled, holding Natan’s gaze, and smiled slightly at his sharply indrawn breath. “He was alive the last time I saw him, but I heard they mean to bury him soon. If you hurry, he may still be breathing. I don’t know.”

“And you didn’t help him?” With a sudden enraged cry Natan drove his knife into the sapling inches from Syros’s face. “He’d better be alive, for your sake.”

He left his water skin for Syros, should the man succeed in freeing himself, then gave the soldier no more thought as he snatched up his pack and settled into the long run ahead, determined to be at the Lake of Glass on time.


Author Bio

Dianne HartsockDianne grew up in one of the older homes in the middle of Los Angeles, a place of hardwood floors and secret closets and back staircases. A house where ghosts lurk in the basement and the faces in the paintings watch you walk up the front stairs. Rooms where you keep the closet doors closed tight at night. It’s where her love of the mysterious and wonderful came from. Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind.

She now lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. Dianne says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee in her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

Author Website: http://diannehartsock.wordpress.com/

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