Monthly Archives: June 2018

Update! Contract Signed: One Shot at Love Series coming in 2019

Hi everybody. I posted not too long ago about being on edge? Well, I signed today for a four-book deal with Vagabondage Press, a veteran multi-genre US publisher, for the series now entitled One Shot at Love. The first book of the series, A Shot of J&B was released a few years ago but has been out of print for some time now. It will be re-edited and released in February, 2019. Book 2, A Shot at Perfect will follow in April, then A Shot of Courage in June, and A Shot at Forever in September.

Celebrate with me: Jackie Vasquez and Brian Harrison are back!

Each of the three nights that had passed since Brian left for LA, lying in bed alone looking out at the Nebraska winter, Jackie missed Brian so much it hurt. Missed the smell of him, missed his weight creating a dent in the mattress next to him that Jackie couldn’t help but roll into, so that regardless of how far apart they started when they said good night, in the darkest hour he always found himself right up against Brian, usually ensconced in his arms. Safe.

~~Lou Sylvre, from A Shot of Courage

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by | June 16, 2018 · 6:48 pm

Alexis Duran: Jacqui the Cat Mysteries blog tour—giveaway, interview, and excerpts

Jacqui the Cat Series

Alexis Duran has a new book out in her Jacqui the Cat cozy MM mystery series – “Roam” – and there’s a Giveaway!

About the Series

Jacqui Corleone is a fashion designer, a yoga-instructor and a concerned citizen who selflessly helps the police solve crimes. Oh, and he occasionally turns into a small wild cat. Probably due to a wizard’s curse or an evil government plot to create super warriors.

Or, he’s a cat cursed to turn into a human and only the bite of a sexy alpha lion will allow him to remain in his superior form of Cat.

Jacqui does not have a split personality, but sometimes his cat personality can get rather loud.

Loud? You’re loud.

Jacqui Corleone is a cat shifter who doesn’t know why or how he turns into a cat. He lives a solitary life in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. He’s not afraid of intimacy (yes, he is) but sensibly refrains from potentially awkward entanglements. Unfortunately, the sexy new deputy sheriff just moved in across the street and Jacqui’s vow not to get mixed up with island dudes is sorely challenged.

When the mysterious disappearance of three blue pots draws Jacqui to investigate, he’s drawn ever deeper into danger–and into the arms of Deputy Wyatt West (you wish).


Giveaway

Alexis is giving one lucky winner a $10 Amazon gift card. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4713/?


Book One: Prowl

Prowl

Jacqui Corleone is a fashion designer, a yoga-instructor and a concerned citizen who selflessly helps the police solve crimes.  Oh, and he occasionally turns into a small wild cat. Probably due to a wizard’s curse or an evil government plot to create super warriors.

Or, he’s a cat cursed to turn into a human and only the bite of a sexy alpha lion will allow him to remain in his superior form of Cat.

Jacqui does not have a split personality, but sometimes his cat personality can get rather loud.

Loud? You’re loud.

Jacqui Corleone is a cat shifter who doesn’t know why or how he turns into a cat. He lives a solitary life in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. He’s not afraid of intimacy (yes, he is) but sensibly refrains from potentially awkward entanglements.  Unfortunately, the sexy new deputy sheriff just moved in across the street and Jacqui’s vow not to get mixed up with island dudes is sorely challenged.

When the mysterious disappearance of three blue pots draws Jacqui to investigate, he prowls ever deeper into danger–and into the arms of Deputy Wyatt West (he wishes).

Prowl Excerpt:

Not that anything could make Jacqui a dull boy, but hours spent stooped over his sewing table had given him a kink in his neck along a strong urge to throw aside his needle and leap out the window.

Instead he sighed dramatically, pressed his palms against the edge of the heavy table and stretched his neck, tilting his head to one side and then the other. He arched his back, slouched, arched again. Not working.He stood, padded across the hardwood floor and slid open the glass door to his tiny balcony.

He’d been working for hours and still had two jackets to finish. Zee was arriving the next day to pick up the new outfits Jacqui had created. Everything had to be perfect. And complete. Complete and perfect and amazing. Because Zee was a rising star, and when the rabble got a look at the Cat’s Eye creations adorning Zee’s nearly famous bod, Jacqui would have it made. That was the assumption, anyway. Orders would flood his inbox, gobs of money would flow into his bank account, and he could hire an assistant and stop working these dog-awful hours.

Or not. After all, what else would he do with his time if not toil?

Right now, he had a strong urge to prowl.

Now is not the time, Cat. Now is the time of toil.

He stepped out on his second-story balcony and took a deep breath of fresh, slightly salty air blowing in off the water. His studio apartment overlooked Friday Harbor, and at the cusp of sunset, both town and harbor were bathed in a pinkish glow, doing that twinkly and picturesque as all get-out thing that happened on lovely summer evenings like this.

Must prowl.

No. The stitching had to be perfect. The lines exquisitely formed to Zee’s angular shape, the drape immaculate. The last version hadn’t been up to Jacqui’s exacting standards. He’d pulled out a day’s work in a pissy rage at himself, and now he was paying for it.

You’ll be more efficient after a prowl. And Zee’s seaplane won’t arrive until midday.

Jacqui made the mistake of looking down, letting his gaze wander across the street, to where a moving van had recently been parked.

Jacqui had a new neighbor.

Back. To. Work.

Jacqui’s new neighbor was Wyatt West, the new deputy sheriff in town. Yes, Jacqui had played around with the name in an endlessly juvenile fashion. Wild Wild West, with the broad shoulders, lean waist, and an ass to die for. Dark brown hair, amber eyes, and a crooked smile that made Jacqui’s heart do a little squeezy thing, leaving him breathless. How wild was West, Jacqui couldn’t help but wonder?

So they’d never spoken. Minor detail. Didn’t matter. Until this weekend Wyatt West of the exceptionally hot body was a live aboard, a local brand of lunatic who lived on a sailboat surrounded by fucking water. Jacqui wasn’t about to go sniffing around a mental case like that.

But now Wild Wyatt Hot Bod was Jacqui’s across-the-street-two-condos-down neighbor and required closer inspection. Because all neighbors required inspection. Because curiosity.

“Wait for it. Anticipation makes it all the more sweet.”

To hell with that. Do the change and let’s check Wild West out.

Get it On Amazon/Kindle Unlimited


Book Two: Pounce

Half-cat, half-human, all-awesome, Jacqui has spent his life avoiding getting too close to anyone.  But despite his best intentions, he just can’t stay away from the sexy deputy sheriff, Wyatt West, especially after Jacqui is the victim of a local band of thieves and turns to the police for help.

When the call of curiosity grows too insistent, Jacqui does a little prying around on his own, an activity that quickly leads him into danger.

Is this the end for our Furry Fashionista, or will the heroic and altogether too handsome Wyatt save the day? And more importantly, will they finally have sex?? Read Pounce, Book 2 in the Jacqui the Mysteries, to find out.

Pounce Excerpt:

Jacqui stretched out long, ass in the air, paws out in front of him. As Cat, he was strong, fast, invincible. He could see in the dark, leap tall fences in a single bound, smell and hear every nuance of change in his neighborhood, and spy on Wyatt without getting arrested for being a creeper. Everything about being Cat was good, except for doorknobs and dogs. And the inability to sew or make anything. And the fact that ordinary cats took one look at him and freaked.

He sat on the sidewalk outside his apartment. The gin had released its hold on his brain. The crowd at Wyatt’s had long ago dispersed, and Jacqui could not sleep. At two o’clock in the morning, the street was empty of people. A possum rooted around in someone’s compost pile on the next block. Two cats were facing off in a yard behind the apartment building, still in the growling low stage. Bats zinged through the air, chasing bugs.

His ears twitched and his tail flicked back and forth across the pavement. From a long way off, he heard a bicycle. Because he had nothing else on his prowling agenda, he went toward the sound, vaguely curious to see who was peddling home in the wee hours.

He padded across the street and peeked into Wyatt’s backyard. If the tree in the corner were positioned differently, he’d totally be peeking into that bedroom window.

No. That’s just wrong.

Another reason why being a cat is better. Peeping is required. It’s a survival skill.

It’s creepy.

Jacqui peered into the dark rectangle of Wyatt’s patio door for a while, thinking back on how dangerously close to flirting they’d come. They’d flirted with flirting. He knew if he changed back into Jacqui and rapped on that door, Wyatt wouldn’t be surprised. Except for maybe the naked thing. And maybe Wyatt would think Jacqui was more than a little weird, but he wouldn’t turn him away.

Jacqui turned away. It kind of felt inevitable, this imminent collision of body parts and exchange of fluids, but it had to be carefully controlled and limited.

Okay, Wyatt, we can fuck, because we’re guys and that’s what guys do, but here are the rules:

One: No getting all up in my business.

Two: No looking at me funny when I have out loud arguments with myself.

Three: No asking me where I’ve been all night.

Four: No questioning why a guy who loves cats and volunteers at the local shelter doesn’t own a cat.

Five: No falling in love.

Six: No suggesting I see a therapist to address my fear of intimacy issues.

Seven: No prying into my life prior to two years ago.

Eight: No whining when I drop you like a hot potato for no reason whatsoever.

Nine: Who the fuck is that?

Jacqui stopped on the corner of Harrison and Oak to watch the Midnight Biker push his bike up the hill. He was a young dude Jacqui hadn’t seen before, with stringy blond hair poking out of a stocking cap. He wore a lived-in, slept-in, rolled-in-the-dirt-in dingy canvas coat and shredded jeans. He had a big pack on his back and his eyes darted this way and that, peering into people’s yards.

Suspicious? Oh, yeah.

Jacqui slipped into a convenient pool of shadows and watched the interloper trudge by.

Get it On Amazon/Kindle Unlimited


Book Three: Roam

Roam

Being half-cat isn’t easy in a human world, and Jacqui’s life has just gotten a lot more complicated now that he’s dating the hot deputy sheriff who lives across the street. Wyatt’s brain might explode if he finds out his lover turns into a cat sometimes.

And even more unthinkable, Wyatt might REJECT Jacqui if he discovers that his boyfriend and Satan the feral wild cat are one and the same! As if Jacqui doesn’t have enough to worry about, he becomes the unwilling foster parent of a drooling dog, and soon discovers a nefarious plot involving marauding Rottweilers with a taste for Cat.

Follow Jacqui into trouble in his most exciting misadventure yet!

Roam Excerpt:

Several desperate phone calls did not procure any dog-sitter leads. Mei Lin was off island. Rose laughed derisively at the suggestion. Mary Lou, who ran the shelter, was ferrying visiting relatives around the island and just couldn’t possibly take in an extra dog, no matter how much she really wanted to.

When Sam pulled to a stop in front of Jacqui’s apartment, Jacqui’s spirits were low. All Cat could do was emit a low moan every now and then.

“I’ve got to give the beast a bath before I let it anywhere near my stuff.”

“Can I watch?” Sam asked, grinning.

“Help? Surely you meant to ask if you could help?” Jacqui said, turning a withering glare upon him.

“Yeah, that’s what I meant.”

Jacqui slid out of the truck and ran up the stairs to his loft apartment. He was half-tempted to lock the door, pull the drapes, and hope that Sam would give up and drive away with the dog.

Not likely.

He grabbed a bottle of expensive shampoo that he’d decided left his hair too dry, and a thick beach towel. Clutching these items, he looked around at his pristine upholstered furniture and shining wood floors with increasing trepidation. He set down the supplies, rummaged around for an old sheet, and threw it over the couch.

Jacqui didn’t have much in the way of old stuff. He quickly got rid of items that didn’t please him. In other words, he had little he was willing to sacrifice to the ravages of Stinky. Worst-case scenarios began to fill his mind: images of dog toenails shredding cushions, dog slobber staining silk, and so he forced himself to pick up the bath supplies and go back down the stairs.

Sam had found the hose the groundskeeper used and was playing a game of spray-Stinky-from-behind every time the poor dog turned around, which was constantly. The sight of the lumbering man-child and the soaking wet, hairy dog sent a shiver up Jacqui’s spine. He didn’t like hoses, and didn’t like the merriment with which men like Sam turned them on others.

“Put the hose down and step away,” Jacqui said in a low, hopefully menacing tone.

“What? Don’t want to get wet?” Sam asked with a grin, but when he saw the glower on Jacqui’s face, some glimmer of self-preservation stopped him in his overly playful tracks. He took his thumb off the trigger of the nozzle. “I promise I won’t spray you on purpose.”

“Not good enough. Put the hose down, Sam.” Jacqui reached for his best Clint Eastwood, steely-eyed glare.

Sam carefully lowered the hose to the ground and lifted both hands as he backed away a few steps.

“There’s the look that puts the fear into a Rottweiler.”

Stinky ran circles around Sam, barking gleefully, a sound that grated on Jacqui’s already taut nerves.

“This is not a game. This is not fun. We are going to clean that damn dog with no shenanigans. Understand?”

“No shenanigans.” Sam nodded and hung his head in fake shame.

Jacqui strode forward with confidence. Never let them see your fear.

He dropped the towel and the shampoo on the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the road, and picked up the hose. He took a deep breath and said, “You hold the beast. I’ll douse him.”

Get it On Amazon/Kindle Unlimited


The Author Interview

Q: What was the First Romance novel you remember reading?
A: The first romance novels I read were my mom’s gothic bodice-rippers. You know the ones with the heroine in a torn nightgown running away from a haunted mansion/castle on the cover? I have to say these books DID NOT inspire me to write romance. I was the kind of kid who’d read anything I could get my hands on, and I mostly had a love/hate relationship with these books. I hated them because the hero was always an incredible jerk, and the heroine was a simpering victim who tolerated his abuse until he came to his senses and fell madly in love with her, usually after she fell off a horse or something. So why did I keep reading them? I loved the mystery, the haunted mansion/castle, and sometimes, though not often, the plucky heroine who persevered against her jerk employer and the ghost/murderer/gang of thieves. I didn’t discover of the power of the romance factor until much later in life, when I experienced how a great romance can be portrayed. The book that redeemed romance for me once and for all was, believe it or not, Middlemarch, by George Elliott. The first really awesome gay romance that I read was The Archer’s Heart by Astrid Amara.

Q: What Characteristics make up your fave hero?
A: I really love the bad boys. But of course, they’re not really bad, they just need the right good boy to steer them back toward the light. I get all squishy over a bad boy with a keen sense of humor, a lot of self-awareness, boatloads of confidence and a fierce loyalty to those he loves. I have to say the lovable bad boy is my favorite to both read and write. As a writer, I also enjoy writing the hapless good boy; the geek, the bookworm, the sorcerer’s apprentice who gets every spell wrong. He’s the sort of lovable guy who is striving to do his best, and then gets knocked sideways by the arrival of his opposite, the über-confident bad boy.

Q: Pet Peeve when it comes to romances?
A: Hands down, most annoying that happens a lot in the romance genre is The Easily Avoided Misunderstanding. This happens when a writer in search of conflict creates a misunderstanding between their couple, or soon-to-be couple, by having one of them swallow on obvious lie about their love interest, or overhear and misunderstand a bit of conversation, or decide to take offense at something and fly off to the other side of the country without giving their alleged true love any chance to explain, refusing all phone calls, deleting emails, etc. And the reader knows the whole misadventure could be avoided by a ten seconds conversation.
“So did you really sleep with my sister?”
“No!”
“Oh, good. Didn’t think so.”

Q: Hardest part of the writing process?
A:This is a toss-up, and depends on which process I’m currently embroiled in. I love the first draft. I write fast and furious and let it all spill out. This makes for a pretty rough second draft, because I have to go back and make sense of all my babblings, fill in plot holes, murder my darlings (cut out all those lovely adjectives and adverbs) and mold that steaming pile of words I’ve created into something others will enjoy reading. The other hard part is the first round with my editor. Oh, ouch! And having my sex scenes analytically critiqued is just embarrassing. Who’s doing what to whom? Whose body part is that and is that even physically possible? The thing that saves me during this part is knowing my book will be so much better for having toughed it out.

Q: Words of wisdom to aspiring authors?
A: I in no way consider myself wise, or even terribly smart when it comes to the craft and business of writing, but I have learned a few things on the road to publication and I can now proclaim these three things to be self-evident:

  1. Don’t isolate. Get a writing group or partner and share your work. Use beta readers, and hire an editor if you’re self-publishing. Listen to thoughtful critique, be brave, do what it takes to get better.
  2. Be true to your voice and your vision. Write what you love. Don’t let anyone tell you dragons don’t exist so you shouldn’t write about them.
  3. Persistence is the key. Boring but true. Those who keep writing and submitting no matter how long it takes are the ones who get published. There will be rejection, it will hurt, but keep going. If you love to write, it’s worth it.

About the Author

Alexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing.

She’s worked in museums, finance, film production and for several performing arts organizations. Her favorite job so far has been inventorying the collection of a haunted Victorian Mansion. She is the author of the Masters and Mages and Edge of Night m/m fantasy series as well as several stand-alone romances.

Her fiction has won awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference.

She lives with one dog and four and a half cats. She is currently working on the next Jacqui the Cat mystery and always has several new ideas brewing.

Sign up for my newsletter here.

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

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://www.facebook.com/alexis.duran.18294

Author Twitter: http://twitter.com/AlexisSDuran

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8332457.Alexis_Duran

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/alexis-duran/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00L4KQU0Y#

Thanks, Alexis Duran and Other Worlds Ink Tours. It’s been a delight to host you on Romance Across the Rainbow.

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Filed under authors, Book tour, Contests, just a category, New M/M releases

Welcome J.S. Fields’ Ardulum series tour: excerpts and a giveaway

SERIES-GRAPHIC Ardulum

J.S. Fields has a new lesbian sci fi book out in her Ardulum series – Third Don:

The Ardulum series blends space opera and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past, and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.


Giveaway:

J.S. Fields is giving away an eBook copy of books one and two, AND a special collector’s edition First Don enamel pin to one lucky winner, via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4711/?


About the Books

Ardulum: First Don (book one)

Ardulum: First Don

The planet that vanishes. The planet that sleeps.

When Ardulum first appeared, the inhabitants brought agriculture, art and interstellar technology to the Neek people before vanishing back into space. Two hundred years later, Neek has joined the Charted Systems, a group of planets bound together through commerce and wormhole routes, where violence is nonexistent and technology has been built around the malleability of cellulose.

When the tramp transport Mercy’s Pledge accidentally stumbles into an armed confrontation between the Charted System sheriffs and an unknown species, the crew learns the high cost of peace—the enslavement and genetic manipulation of the Ardulan people. Now a young Neek, outcast from her world for refusal to worship ancient Ardulans as gods, must reconcile her planet’s religion with the slave child whom she has chosen to protect—a child whose ability to manipulate cellulose is reminiscent of the ancient myths of Ardulum. But protecting the child comes at a cost—the cultural destruction of her world and the deaths of billions of Charted System inhabitants.

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink

Ardulum: Second Don (book two)

Ardulum: Second Don

The Charted Systems are in pieces. Mercy’s Pledge is destroyed, and her captain dead. With no homes to return to, the remaining crew set off on a journey to find the mythical planet of Ardulum—a planet where Emn might find her people and Neek the answers she’s long sought. Finding the planet, however, brings a host of uncomfortable truths about Ardulum’s vision for the galaxy, and Neek’s role in a religion that refuses to release her. Neek must balance her planet’s past and the unchecked power of the Ardulans with a budding relationship and a surprising revelation about her own genealogy.

Ardulum: Second Don blends space opera and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past, and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink

Ardulum: Third Don (book three)

Ardulum Third Don

The planet wakes.

Atalant is torn between two worlds. In uncharted space, head of a sentient planet, the new eld of Ardulum now leads the religion she once rejected. Emn is by her side, but the Mmnnuggl war brewing in the Charted Systems, threatening her homeworld of Neek, cannot be ignored. Neek must return to the planet that exiled her in order to lead the resistance. She must return home a god, a hypocrite, a liar in gold robes, and decide whether to thrust her unwilling people into the truth of Ardulum, or play the role she has been handed and never see her family, or her world, again.

NineStar Press | Amazon paperback | Amazon ebook


Excerpts

First Don (Book One):

“Were we just attacked?” she asked incredulously. Neek took a closer look out the viewscreen. The rectangular cutter that sparkled with pinpricks of light and the wedge-shaped, agile skiffs, were Risalian. The pods—both the smaller purple ones and the frigate-sized, maroon ones—were unfamiliar. Their fomations were just as strange, stacked in columns like stones on a riverbank instead of in pyrimidal and spherical formations like Systems ships would. “Are those all Charted Systems ships?”

Yorden threw up his hands in disgust. “They’re not just Charted Systems ships—they’re Risalian ships. The cutter and skiffs are, anyway. No clue on the pods. What those blue-skinned bastards are doing out here with fully weaponized ships, I can only guess. However, they’re firing lasers. If we lose our armor and take a hit from any of those, we are space dust.”

“Comforting,” Neek mumbled. She hadn’t noticed the laser ports on any of the ships, but now that she looked closer, all of the vessels were covered with armor plating and had at least two laser turrets each.

Neek continued to watch as the pods begin to cluster around a Risalian cutter. A pod ship zipped beneath the cutter, firing wildly at its underside, before making a quick right turn and heading back to a larger pod. Five others followed suit. The cutter’s shielding began to splinter, but the ship remained where it was.

Neek leaned into the viewscreen, still unsure what she was seeing. “The Risalian ships aren’t chasing, they’re just defending. What is going on? If they’re going to appoint themselves sheriffs of the Charted Systems, they could at least fight back.”

Yorden smacked his hand against the wall, loosing a shower of dust. “Something on that Risalian ship is holding their attention. Get us out of here, before either of them gets any closer.” He pointed to a cluster of ships to Neek’s right, and her eyes followed. Little flashes of bright light sparked and then died intermittently as ships were destroyed, their flotsam creating an ever-expanding ring. A large piece of metal plating floated past the Pledge’s port window. The edge caught and left a thin scratch in the fiberglass as it slid off.

“What are they protecting that is so damn important?” Neek wondered out loud and then snorted. “Something worth more than our hold full of diamond rounds and cellulose-laced textiles?” she added cheekily.

Scowling, Yorden pushed Neek’s hand away from the computer and began his own scan of the Pledge’s systems. “Communications are still up, but I don’t think either party is listening right now.” Frustrated, he kicked the underside of the console. “Try one of them. Better than being crushed.”

“Captain, come on. We are dead in space. If another one comes at us, why don’t we just fire at it? It’s better than being rammed.” She pointed upwards at a circular hole in the ceiling. “What’s the benefit of flying a ship so ancient it falls apart if you’re not taking advantage of the grandfathered weapons system?”

Yorden’s terse response was cut off when a short burst impacted the ship. Another group of skiffs flew past, depositing laser fire as they did so. The Pledge banked to port, carrying momentum from the impact. From the direction they had come lay a trail of shattered ship plating.

A panicked voice called down from the laser turret. Neek bristled, steeling herself against the inevitable irritation that came whenever their Journey youth spoke. “That skiff just fired at us. How does it even have weapons? I thought we were the only ones in the Systems with a ship older than dirt.”

Neek wrapped her right hand back around the steering yoke. Each of her eight fingers fit perfectly into the well-worn grooves, and the brown leather darkened a shade as her naturally secreted stuk smeared from her fingertips. She smiled to herself. Flying a geriatric tramp was still better than flying nothing at all.

“Look, Captain,” she said, keeping her eyes on the battle. “I can steer this thing if we get pushed, but that is it. We don’t have any other options. They have guns. We have guns. Well, we have a gun. Why don’t we use it?”

Second Don (Book Two):

“You have to tell her,” Nicholas said. He pushed himself out of a lean and pointed to where Emn’s blood had fallen. She’d been interfacing with the ship all the way through the wormhole and hadn’t noticed Nicholas return to the cockpit. That meant Emn was getting a lecture, one way or the other. Annoyed, she tugged at the fabric across her chest, the sensation something she was still getting used to, and turned to look at Nicholas. She’d have much preferred a lecture from Neek.

Nicholas’s eyebrow rose. “This is the fourth time I’ve seen you bleed from interfacing with the ship. If your physiology is so incompatible with it, then Neek needs to know. We need to find another ship.”

Emn dabbed at her ear with a finger, ensuring the canal was clean, and then straightened the front of her dress. She’d already stopped the bleeding. The blood vessel breaks had been small—only minor capillaries affected—and healing was simple first-don stuff. Except, each time she synced with the ship, the pain was worse. What had started as a light buzzing during her time on the Mmnnuggl flagship Llttrin, during the Crippling War, was now a pressure that thumped between her skull and brain. It was ever-expanding, pulsed behind her eyes, crushed blood vessels, and had her leaking maroon from her ears and nose.

After sitting down against the black paneling, Emn looked at her lap. The dress, which she’d managed to keep mostly clean of blood, was tight in areas she’d not anticipated. It clung to her hips and chest, highlighting the most notable changes since her metamorphosis. It was… Could something be uncomfortable and yet comforting at the same time? She was an adult. There was no denying that, not with something so formfitting. Emn enjoyed the visual reminder of who she had become.

“For me to discuss any of this with Neek, she’d have to actually talk to me. Right after the Crippling War, I thought we had broken through that layer of self-doubt, or whatever makes Neek so rigid around me, but I guess not.” Emn went to pull at the front of her dress again before catching herself.

Nicholas ran his hands through his thick hair and shook his head. “You’re telepathically connected. You don’t have to be in the same room to talk.” Just as he had when she was in first don, Nicholas plopped beside her so she could lean into him. The reminder of their friendship helped ease the thumping in her head. She was forever grateful that Nicholas didn’t seem at all uncomfortable with the changes she’d undergone.

“Do you think it looks all right?” Emn asked, looking down at the front of her dress.

Nicholas snorted. “You look like a woman in a dress, Emn. It fits well. Your chest looks normal, if that’s what you’re asking, although you’ll crease the fabric if you keep pulling at it like that. If you want more specific feedback, there’s a different person you should ask. I know you don’t have a perpetually open connection, but even if she’s closed down, you could still nudge her. It’s good for her.”

Emn returned the half smile, imagining how Neek would react if she just started chatting to her through their link about mundane things, like constellations or cellulose biometals, or if she actually asked about the dress…

As if Neek had been listening, the door abruptly slid open, and the room was filled with the distinctive sound of booted feet. Emn and Nicholas stood up.

Neek took a moment to stretch, reaching her hands up over her head and letting her sixteen fingers, eight per hand, brush the ceiling. This was the only room in the small Mmnnuggl pod where any of them could stand upright, and it was blissful to do so. Stretching pulled the fabric of the flight suit taut against Neek’s chest and Emn let her eyes linger, careful to ensure the image did not leak across their bond. They needed Neek in the cockpit, captaining, not hiding in her room. She didn’t need to know about Emn’s burgeoning…something. Not yet, anyway. Still, Emn followed the tightly braided red-blonde hair to her narrow shoulders and then to her wide hips partially hidden in a baggy flight suit. Neek had her sleeves rolled up to her elbows, and Emn wrinkled her nose without meaning to. The lighting in the pod did not go well with Neek’s olive-brown complexion. Realizing that she had probably stared for a bit too long, Emn walked back to the viewscreen.

“Looks like such a harmless planet from out here,” Neek said as her arms fell to her sides. Currently filling the floor-to-ceiling viewscreen was Risal, its orange algae oceans and brown landmasses looming above them. Risal’s two moons, the red Korin and white Rath, buffered the planet on either side. At their current position, the shadows from the sun overlapped Risal in two intersecting crescents, leaving a thin hourglass shape of lit land. Two cutters were in orbit around Korin, docked next to one another near the moon’s north pole.

Emn knew more than she cared to about those moons. She had no firsthand memories, but being synced to the late Captain Ran’s cutter had given her data on both. Rath was used as an andal plantation, although it was not a very successful one. Korin, in contrast…Korin was likely where she had been born. Emn probably had had siblings there, perhaps other genetic parents as well. They’d be dead, of course, like all the Risalian Ardulans, but that didn’t make the moon any less oppressive.

Her focus was suddenly returned to the cockpit. Confused, Emn blinked, trying to clear her vision, and then realized what was happening. Her thoughts must have leaked. Now, instead of Korin, she was seeing herself through Neek’s eyes, their connection taut. It was strange to see herself from the back—a woman in a knee-length, gray dress with shoulder straps and a flared hipline, tracing a finger over the moon’s image. Her black hair held only hints of the red that shone in her youth, and the moonlight highlighted the dark veins that streaked across her translucent skin. Patterns emerged, if one looked long enough—and Neek was—patterns of geometric shapes bound tightly together, distorted and intersecting. Several words bounded across their link despite Neek’s best efforts to rein them in. One in particular struck Emn as odd.

Beautiful.

Except, calling the markings such belied their daunting mythos and marginalized Neek’s history. Emn tossed the word aside, conscious of its relevance but unwilling to call it to Neek’s attention.

Third Don (Book Three):

I dislike this flight suit,Atalant muttered as her stuk absorbed into the rough material. The Ardulans did not refine the andalrayon as much as Charted Systems manufacturers did, and the fabric was full of rough, lumpish slubs.

If you could find some time for us to be alone and do away with the memories for a few hours, I’m sure I could arrange for my dress to make an appearance. The images that accompanied her statement flushed Atalant’s cheeks.

Maybe if we met onboard the Scarlet Lucidity , in orbit around Ardulum, where no one could interrupt us and I felt a bit freer… Atalant’s thoughts drifted into that delightful possibility. The Lucidity had soft chairs in the cockpit, wide beds in the quarters, a small bin of andal in case Emn got hungry…

Andal! Atalant’s priorities came crashing back down around her. The planet caught her wandering and whispered dreams of its own, dreams of saplings in open fields, of thick rains and busy pollinators. The collective consciousness of Ardulum sent a yearning desire for family, for a new place to call home.

“Home is overrated,” Atalant whispered.

“I don’t think so. What about your parents, Atalant?” Emn whispered into her ear, misunderstanding Atalant’s words. “Your father and your talther miss you, I’m sure. Your brother is there, waiting to see his sister.” Emn’s lips brushed Atalant’s forehead. “All the things you said at those political rallies, all the times the president cut you down, your exile, your uncle’s teachings… Could you just let all this hang? Can you let the truth, that you worked so hard to uncover, remain a mystery to the rest of your people?”

Atalant didn’t answer. When Emn didn’t press further, Atalant reached over Emn and lifted the window open to its full height. The sounds of reptiles croaking filled the silence between them. Atalant let the heaviness of her eyelids sink her into drowsy memories. She thought of the Lucidity, berthed and awaiting her return in a suburb of the capital. She thought of the gold robes she now regularly wore, of their similarities to the Heaven Guard robes she had so coveted in her youth. She thought of her brother, his pursuit of andal science over Ardulan religion, his urging her to join the Heaven Guard of Neek. She thought of soil barren from andal plantation farming, the decline of the forests on her homeworld, and the death of the Keft ecosystem. She thought of her uncle, the High Priest of Neek, of his teachings, the holy books, and of what the return of living gods could do for her stagnant planet.

The sound of Emn’s even breathing relaxed the remaining tightness in Atalant’s shoulders. As she drifted off into sleep, her mind wandered to the possibility: what would it be like for Ardulum to return to the planet Neek? What havoc would the mystic, traveling planet play on her world’s religion? On her family? Would she be welcomed as a hero, or still branded a heretic? Would she be shot on sight? Gold robes of the Eld or gold robes of the Heaven Guard? Did it matter?

What would it be like for her to come home?


About the Author

AUTHOR PHOTO - J.S. FieldsJ.S. Fields (@Galactoglucoman) is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. She enjoys roller derby, woodturning, making chainmail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, but prefers female pronouns.

Fields has lived in Thailand, Ireland, Canada, USA, and spent extensive time in many more places. Her current research takes her to the Peruvian Amazon rainforest each summer, where she traumatizes students with machetes and tangarana ants while looking for rare pigmenting fungi. She lives with her partner and child, and a very fabulous lionhead rabbit named Merlin.

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

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

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16484795.J_S_Fields

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-s-fields/

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River City Chronicles blog tour—$25 GC giveaway and a double helping of excerpts from J. Scott Coatsworth

COVER-River-City

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer magical realism book out:

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other’s lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

Amazon (ebook) | Amazon (paperback) | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4710/?


Excerpt

Matteo stared out the restaurant window into the darkness of Folsom Boulevard. It was getting dark earlier as summer edged into fall. Streetlights flickered on as cars drifted by, looking for parking or making the trip out of Midtown toward home.

The sign on the window read “Ragazzi” (the boys), lettered in a beautiful golden script just two months old. Investing in this little restaurant his uncle had left to them when he’d passed away had been their ticket out of Italy. But now with each passing day, as seats sat empty and tomatoes, pasta, and garlic went uneaten, the worry was gnawing ever deeper into Matteo’s gut.

Behind him in the open, modernized kitchen, Diego was busy cooking—his mother’s lasagne, some fresh fish from San Francisco, and some of the newer Italian dishes they’d brought with them from Bologna. The smells of boiling sauce and fresh-cooked pasta that emanated from the kitchen were entrancing.

They’d sent the rest of the staff —Max and Justin—home for the evening. The three customers who had shown up so far didn’t justify the cost of keeping their waiter and busboy on hand.

Matteo stopped at the couple’s table in front of the other window. “Buona sera,” he said, smiling his brightest Italian smile.

“Hi,” the man said, smiling back at him. He was a gentleman in about his mid-fifties, wearing a golf shirt and floppy hat. “Kinda quiet tonight, huh?”

“It always gets busier later,” Matteo lied smoothly. “Pleasure to have you here. Can I get you anything else?”

“A little more wine, please?” the woman said, holding out her glass so the charm bracelet on her wrist jangled.

“Of course.” He bowed and ducked into the kitchen.

He gave Diego a quick peck on the cheek.

His husband and chef waved him off with a snort. “Più tardi. Sto preparando la cena.”

“I can see that. Dinner for a hundred, is it? It’s dead out there again tonight.”

Diego shot him a dirty look.

Matteo retrieved the bottle of wine from the case and returned to fill up his guests’ glasses. “What brings you in tonight?” Maybe they saw our ad.…

“Just walking by and we were hungry. I miss the old place though.… What was it called, honey?”

Her husband scratched his chin. “Little Italy, I think?”

“That’s it! It was the cutest place. Checkered tablecloths, those great Italian bottles with the melted wax… so Italian.”

Matteo groaned inside. “So glad you came in” was all he said with another smile.


Now an exclusive excerpt!

Brad was rousted from bed by someone pounding on the front door. Who the hell was coming by at ten thirty p.m.? He grabbed the bat he kept next to the bed.

“Who is it?” Sam asked blearily.

“I don’t know. I’ll find out.”

Sam sat up, and Brad smothered the urge to jump back in bed. Screw their visitor. Sam looked adorable with his sleepy eyes and blond hair sticking up at odd angles.
The pounding sounded again.

“Want me to come with?”

“No, just be ready to call 911.” They were downtown, after all. Things happened here, sometimes. “I’m coming!” Brad shouted to whoever was knocking. He pulled on his robe and clambered down the stairway to the front door. “Who is it?” he called, bat held at ready.

“Brad, it’s Marcos. I need your help.”

Marcos… the web designer? He unlocked the door. “How the hell did you get my home address?” he asked, staring at the man. “You do know I’m married, right?”

Marcos grinned sheepishly. “I know. You had a fundraising party here last year for the Center, remember?”

“Oh, crap. Yeah.” He’d forgotten all about it. “So why are you here?”

“I need your help. Remember that girl, Marissa?”

“Yes. What happened?” He was starting to regret having shared the information with Marcos. If anything had happened to her as a result, he could lose his job.

“She’s in trouble. She called me from the County Jail up on I Street.”

Brad scratched his chin. “Why did she call you?”

“I don’t know. I left my number for her where she hangs out. I guess I was the only one she could think of.”

“Maybe so. Many of these kids don’t have anyone. Hey, come inside. It’s cold out there.” He let Marcos in and closed the door.

“Who was it?” Sam was standing at the top of the stairs in only his white briefs.

Marcos looked up and whistled.

“Just our web designer.”

Sam blushed. “Um, sorry. I’ll leave you guys alone.” He vanished into the bedroom.

“Come have a seat.” Brad ushered Marcos into their small living room.

“Congratulations, Brad. The hubby’s quite a catch.”

Brad cleared his throat. “Marissa?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry. She said she was framed. She needs me to come get her out, but I don’t think they’ll let me, since she’s underage. You know people there, right?”

Brad nodded. “What was the officer’s name?”

“Um… Donna? Dorothy?”

“Doris?”

“Yes. I think so.”

“I’ll come with you and see what I can do. What will you do if they release her to you?”

Marcos shook his head. “I don’t know yet. Get her home and in a warm bed for tonight. I can figure out the rest tomorrow.”

Brad touched Marco’s shoulder. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because she’s me twenty years ago.”

Brad nodded. “Okay, let’s go. You brought your car?”

Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth

Scott lives with his husband Mark in a little yellow bungalow in East Sacramento, with two pink flamingos by the front porch.

He spends his time 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.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

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.twitter.com/jscoatsworth

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

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

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

 

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On the edge… A sliver of Lou Sylvre’s writer’s life (and a giveaway)

Hello readers! Guess what I’m doing today? I mean other than trying to keep three established cats and one newcomer cat from completely ruining each other’s lives…. If you guessed writing, well, yes. If you guessed trying to get in a spot of promo here and there, yep. If you guessed trying to spruce up the website a little, uh-huh, there’s that. Thinking a lot about Pride Month, too. But through it all I’m doing one other thing.

Waiting.

I’ve heard from a publisher interested in a four book series. I’m thrilled, but I’m waiting for the contract and I’m on edge all the time. My alter-writing-ego, Lou Hoffmann, has submitted the fourth book in a series to another publisher, and I’m waiting for—I hope—acceptance. Goodness knows, waiting is a huge part of an author’s life, and you’d think I would be accustomed to it by now. I guess I am, but I still sit on the edge of my seat and click that email tab way too often to see if I have news.

So, to distract myself, I’ve decided to give something away—an e-book copy, winner’s choice of any of my three published novellas: Yes, a heart rending Vasquez and James novella with a lovely happy ending; Falling Snow on Snow, a little angst, but maybe the snow will cool your summer day, and the HFN is sweet; or Sunset at Pencarrow, a Dreamspinner World of Love story co-authored with Anne Barwell, about a couple of men trying not to fall in love on New Zealand’s North Island (hint: they don’t succeed). A review (while appreciated if the spirit moves) is not required. Use the Rafflecopter entry form below, and make sure you comment here—say something about reading romance—as that’s required. You can tweet about the giveaway to get more chances.


Thanks! See you soon, because I’ve got some great blog tours coming up here on Romance Across the Rainbow (aka sylvre.com), and more in the 2018 Community series, too. I hope you have a glorious summer coming up.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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