Category Archives: LGBTQ+ fiction

Jeanne G. Fellers’ Keeping House—giveaway and exclusive excerpt!

The Rainbow Gate Books is happy to welcome Jeanne G. Fellers back to the blog with her new release, Keenping House.
Keeping House - Jeanne GFellers

Jeanne G’Fellers has a new queer non-binary/gender fluid paranormal fantasy out in the Appalachian Elementals series: “Keeping House.”

Centenary Rhodes is caught in a deal she didn’t make. Thanks to her eternal lover, Stowne’s, quick thinking, she’ll live forever, but there’s a hitch. Cent’s now fey, and three months out of the year she’ll live on the other side of Embreeville Mountain among the Hunter Fey, serving their king, Dane Gow.

As Cent begins wading through the anachronisms that come with being a Hunter, she learns that nothing is what it initially seems. Cent shares several past lives with Dane, who wants her back, and Stowne’s lied to Cent so many times that she’s having doubts about their marriage. To make matters worse, the past Hunter Kings are influencing Dane’s behavior, and the youngest Hunter, Brinn, might well be the most dangerous of them all.

It’s going to be a cold, dark spring, and Cent needs to unite both sides of Embreeville mountain before her eternal life, her relationship with Dane, and her marriage to Stowne come permanently undone.

Another rich Contemporary Appalachian tale about fantastic people and the magic they possess, including LGBTQIA+ characters Human and otherwise.

Series Blurb:

Come dance with the Appalachian fey and drink a little moonshine under the full moon while you hear Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Death share tales about families of our blood, families of our making, and magic both long ago and flowing through us now.

Warnings: depiction of mental illness including on page psychosis; discussion of gender dysphoria, cutting, and self-harm; discussion of rape and murder; on and off page violence

Mountain Gap Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords | Goodreads


Giveaway

Jeanne is giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4772/?


Excerpt

Keeping House

I can do this. Cent unzipped the top of her coveralls and lowered her long johns to reveal the halter top beneath them. “Sorry, not sorry to disappoint you, King Dane.” She unfurled her wings and rolled her shoulders to shake them open.

“Just look at all them sigils.” Dane stomped her boots on the circle sands as she laughed, and her men laughed with her. “You look like a doodled-out scratch pad.” She removed her arm from her coat and rolled her sleeve above her bracer to show the sigils tattooed across her plaster-pale bicep. “All us Hunters got them, but ours won’t warsh off with a good scrubbin’, and neither will yours by the time you get back to Stowne.”

“Sigils remain intact even if they cannot be seen by the eye.” Cent’s spouse’s mouth thinned with the stress she knew they were feeling. “If the sigils are applied in perfect love and trust, that is. Rest assured, Centenary’s were.”

“Like I care.” Dane shoved her arm back into her coat. “It’s my turn, you worn-out gravel heap. That was our deal.” She lunged forward to grab Cent by the arm.

“Let go!” Cent wrenched away and moved to stand between Pyre and Exan, her elemental escorts. “I’ll fly with them.” She blew Stowne a kiss and stretched her wings, shivering. “Hold on.” She pulled a pair of striped leg warmers from her pocket and slid them over her arms. They were horribly outdated, but they’d been a cheap thrift shop solution, and she was glad she’d remembered them. Still, they weren’t enough for the current weather.

“Betcha she can’t keep up.” Dane’s guard, Conall, snorted and extended his hand to the guard with the dreadlocks. “Deal, Weeds?”

Weeds knocked his hand away. “Nothing to be gained there because you’re right.” He pulled a red wool chullo hat from his pocket and drew it over his head, topping that with a pair of ski goggles he lowered over his eyes. “She’s not going to get there without help.”

“Manners, boys.” Dane pulled a pair of leather Steampunk-style goggles over her eyes. “Best not judge until we see what she’s got under the hood. Come on. We’re late for a helluva shindig.” She laughed as she took to the air, hovering above the circle until Cent, Pyre, and Exan joined her. Her men took to the air behind them, Weeds pressing ahead while Conall brought up the rear.

We’re sandwiched in.Cent flew as hard as she could, hoping to lessen the distance between her and Dane, but it kept growing.

“Problem?” Conall flew up behind Cent as she struggled to keep speed. “Get movin’.”

“I’m trying!” Cent almost stopped mid-air to confront him, but Pyre grabbed her by the shoulder, pulling her to the right so he flew past.

“Not a good idea.” Pyre hooked their smoky arm through hers, urging her along. “You’re cold.” They sent warmth into her, but she still shivered.

“Let us give you the energy to do this.” A thread of Exan’s black mass wrapped her left arm. “Come along.”

“What’s the holdup?” Dane flew back to face them. “Havin’ trouble keepin’ up, girlie?” She moved closer. “Guess Conall’s right after all. You need him to carry you the rest of the way?” Dane snickered when Conall returned to hover, scowling, behind her. Their beating wings stirred the air more than Cent’s, and her teeth chattered to the point she couldn’t hide it.

“I’ll get there.” But she knew she’d be struggling even with Pyre and Exan’s help, and she was so cold their warming energy wasn’t enough.

“You can’t, admit it.” Dane surged forward to grab Cent around the waist, forcing her wings to roll then tuck as Exan and Pyre’s grips fell away. “Your spirit form can fly, but your real wings are puny. Best hold on, or I’ll let you fall.” She turned Cent outward, holding her with one stout arm as they began to move. “Your eyes ain’t used to this cold and movement combined, so keep them closed until we’re— no. Hey, Weeds.” Dane slowed until he caught up along with Pyre and Exan, who both moved to see Cent’s face.

“I’m fine.” She blinked away the frost that’d collected on her eyelashes. “Let her do the work if she wants.”

“I got stuff to get done, or you’d be suckin’ up the rear, that’s all.” Dane motioned to Weeds. “Give her your goggles.”

“But— yes ma’am.” His dismay spread across his face as he pulled a scarf from his pocket, wrapping it around his head until only his eyes showed.

I’m making a great impression on him.

“Put them on, and let’s get movin’. Much longer up here and our wings’ll start freezin’.” Dane pulled Cent’s coveralls and long johns to her chest and opened her own coat to wrap her in it. “Damn rookie-ass flyer. Next time, wear a hat too.” Dane jerked her welding cap from her pocket, pulling it over Cent’s head as they gained speed.

Air whipped around them as they moved, and it began to sleet, pelting Cent with ice shards and freezing over her goggles by the time they touched down. “Someone get her a blanket!” Dane tore the goggles from Cent’s face and blew warm, tobacco-tainted breath in her face. “And somethin’ hot to drink!” Her voice softened. “You all right, sugar?”

“Let go!” Cent broke away and rushed to Pyre and Exan’s sides before they could fully manifest. “Dane’s being nice,” she whispered as she pulled off the leg warmers then raised her long johns and coveralls. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Take a deep breath and look around.” Pyre kept their voice soft and calm, which frightened Cent all the more.

“She means you no harm this night.” Exan wrapped their arm around her shoulders. “This is Dane’s kingdom, and she is in control of all you see.” They spun her around to view the nearly three-dozen pale Hunter faces, some clearly pissed by her presence, others amused, and a few too clouded in their expression to read, clustered around the bonfire she stood near.

“Welcome back to my world, Centenary Rhodes.” Dane bowed before her then rose wearing a mischievous smile. “Let’s get this party started!”


Exclusive Excerpt

In Keeping House, the protagonist, Cent Rhodes, is forced to live among the Hunters, a small band of Appalachian fey of Scottish descent. Time has changed the Hunters, but some traditions have remained, like court. So what’s it like within the Hunter Fey court? Here’s an exclusive excerpt from Chapter Seven: “A Lil’ Drama to go with that Second-Hand Buzz.”


“Her accessin’ the finances ain’t needed for Gow Weldin’ to keep profitin’. I’ve been doin’ the books for the last decade, and they’re balancin’ just fine.” Eudard Gow, one of the Hunter men Cent had been introduced to before the evening gorge of deer steak, fried potatoes, home-canned apple butter, and biscuits, paced the Great Hall’s white marble floor in front of Dane’s throne. “She’s a jasper at best, and Stowne’s girl, their wife, and while she might be—”

“The word you’re lookin’ for is spouse, not wife. And that’s enough.” King Dane waved Eudard toward his seat. “What Cent learnt me before Samhain has already proved good for business.”

“But she’s a jasper.” Eudard flexed his shoulders so his wings dropped into view, but he kept them rolled against his back.

“Watch it, Eddie.” Conall crossed his arms over his chest. He stood beside Dane, his wings fully unfurled, black and glistening, his beard exposed to show three leather-wrapped braids hanging to his belt. Large and in charge. Cent could admire that, but she more admired the way she’d seen him treating Bea the night before. Those two were deeply in love, and Cent missed Stowne more each time she thought about it. But this current argument, Conall’s warning, and Dane’s violent response had been repeating since dinner, Eddie being the third man to broach the topic of Cent’s taking over the bookkeeping.

“How many years have you been with us?” Dane folded her hands in her lap and moved forward on her throne, something she’d done time-and-time again.

Here it comes.

“Why’s it important?”

“Humor me.” Dane pressed her mouth into a thin slash.

“Yes’m.” Eddie took a half-step back. “Near six score, I reckon, but it ain’t got nothin’ to do with this, and—”

“How long has your blood-kin been in this part of Tennessee?”

“A generation longer.” He rolled his shoulders so his wings spread behind him, a bold move, but Dane turned her mouth up into a smile when he did.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Conall shook his head. A shadow passed behind him, followed by another, but he paid them no mind.

“So, Eddie, how many of your kin are still livin’ in Washington and Unicoi counties?” Dane’s smile now spanned her face.

That’s a look to be wary of. The smile Dane had offered Cent earlier had been genuine.

“Besides me?” Eddie gulped. “None. They’ve all died out or moved off.”

“That’d be mighty interestin’ if I didn’t already know it.” Dane drummed her fingers along the metal edge of her throne, her nail clicks echoing among the sighs and generally bored murmurs. “Now, Cent’s been in the area for over three thousand years, and she remembers more of them hundred-plus lives than you’ve ever had family.” She stood and spread her wings, spanning the gap between her and Eddie in a single flex of her back muscles. “I’m gettin’ mighty tired of this stupid outsider argument y’all keep tryin’ to make. Centenary Rhodes has been here longer than any of us, and now she’s Hunter too.”

“But—”

“Enough!” Dane flicked her hand, and Eddie flew backward, sailing over the long banquet table to slam against the Great Hall’s doors. “That’s three. Anyone else got somethin’ to say ’bout my choice of bookkeepers?”

The Great Hall remained silent except for Queen Sissy, who hiccupped into her can of Bud Light.

Author Bio

Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with their father and reading the books their librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s writing influences include Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.

Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennessee with their spouse and five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.

Author Website: https://jeannegfellersauthor.com/

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

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

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

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=Jeanne+G%27Fellers

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jeanne-GFellers/e/B01N0YWCT7/

LOGO - Other Worlds Ink


Thank you OWI and Jeanne G. Fellers, for letting Rainbow Gate be part of your tour. Please come visit again soon!

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Filed under Book tour, just a category, LGBTQ+ fiction, New Release

Dreams, Dreamspinner, and Me

I’ve decided to go on record in a public way about the Dreamspinner situation—if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just do a web or Facebook search. I’m speaking up in response to some harsh words I’ve recently heard about the company and about authors still with them trying to go about the regular business of promoting books published by them. Dreamspinner once made my dream come true. I’m grateful, and I still believe Dreamspinner is basically honest, not a conniving corporation out to bilk authors or anyone else. They made some poor business decisions, and they took too long to admit that they’d made mistakes (but they did admit it). In addition, my personal belief is that they’ve made some poor editorial decisions. I admit I could be biased by the way a rejection was handled by one individual whom I won’t name because despite my pain I can’t know that the hurt was intentional. That person’s perspective on it is obviously different from mine. (I occasionally try to be an adult.) But that aside, I believe, as an observer with a limited field of vision, that it may have been a mistake for Dreamspinner to concentrate so completely on current reader trends and on certain authors to the exclusion of others who might work at a more traditional pace, possibly on books with a more evergreen style.

In addition, I want to go on record saying I believe that despite mistakes, Elizabeth is an honorable person, along with at least many of, if not all of, the people who work with/for her, like Anne Regan and many others. Perhaps Elizabeth was too hands off with the day to day business—like editorial decisions, like managing royalty payments. Perhaps, I say because I am in no position to know what happens behind the scenes. But certainly if she was not an honorable person, once she learned what a debacle the current royalty payment mess was, she would not have undertaken to go through over a thousand accounts one-by-one herself in order to make sure things got fixed. And, she’s made a wise and probably caring business decision to go to SBA rather than a bankruptcy lawyer.

Most of the rights that are reverted to me are mine because—before any of this—Dreamspinner opted not to renew my contracts, which broke my heart. (I cried for days and still cry about it sometimes even though the books were immediately swept up by another publisher.) But I think it was a business decision made with the best information available at the time, and I can accept that (more or less, lol). Asking for my rights back on the one title I now have with Dreamspinner Press as a sole author would not be worth the trouble at this time. And the series I have in progress with Harmony Ink—well, it’s in progress!

So I’m sticking, for now, and I honestly expect not to regret that. Would I sub another title to Dreamspinner? If I wrote the right book, probably yes. I won’t ever make them the sole basket for my eggs again, but that was foolish for me to begin with. It might not be foolish for someone else, but it was in my case. The same is true for other authors choosing to pull their titles—they’re doing what’s right for them and I support them.

I am still waiting for first quarter royalties. It’s an inconvenience, but I’d be just as broke right now if I had them as I am without them (though another bill might be paid). I fully believe I’ll get paid what I’m due.

I also believe Dreamspinner will pull through, and with a course correction, be a strong and thriving force again in the world of MM Romance and LGBTQ+ publishing, as well as in the community of people who stand for equality in the right for all individual to pursue happiness and full, rich lives.

Could I be wrong about all this? I suppose, but I’m pretty sure I’m not. If I am, more fool me. Thank you, anybody taking the time to read this.

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Filed under community, Dreamspinner Press, just a category, LGBTQ+ fiction, Lou Sylvre

Michael G. Williams: A Fall in Autumn—giveaway, exclusive excerpt, and more

Lou’s Rainbow Gate Book Blog is happy to welcome Michael G. Williams.

COVER - A Fall in Autumn - Michael G. Williams copy

Michael G. Williams has a new queer sci fi book out: A Fall in Autumn.

WELCOME TO THE LAST OF THE GREAT FLYING CITIES

It’s 9172, YE (Year of the Empire), and the future has forgotten its past.

Soaring miles over the Earth, Autumn, the sole surviving flying city, is filled to the brim with the manifold forms of humankind: from Human Plus “floor models” to the oppressed and disfranchised underclasses doing their dirty work and every imaginable variation between.

Valerius Bakhoum is a washed-up private eye and street hustler scraping by in Autumn. Late on his rent, fetishized and reviled for his imperfect genetics, stuck in the quicksand of his own heritage, Valerius is trying desperately to wrap up his too-short life when a mythical relic of humanity’s fog-shrouded past walks in and hires him to do one last job. What starts out as Valerius just taking a stranger’s money quickly turns into the biggest and most dangerous mystery he’s ever tried to crack – and Valerius is running out of time to solve it.

Now Autumn’s abandoned history – and the monsters and heroes that adorn it – are emerging from the shadows to threaten the few remaining things Valerius holds dear. Can the burned-out detective navigate the labyrinth of lies and maze of blind faith around him to save the City of Autumn from its greatest myth and deadliest threat?

Falstaff Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Goodreads


Giveaway

Michael is giving away an eBook copy of “Perishables,” book one of The Withrow Chronicles, with this post:

Everybody hates their Homeowner’s Association, and nobody likes a zombie apocalypse. Put the two together, and Withrow Surrett is having a truly craptastic night.

Enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4765/?


Excerpt

MEME 2 A Fall in Autumn

The sun was over the trees at the southeastern edge of the sloped opening in the forest when I awoke. The sun woke me, actually: its rays on my face, the flicker of shadow and light as it played across my closed eyes. I was half dressed: my shoes off, my feet bare, and my coat spread over me in lieu of a blanket. My shirt was somewhere, probably. I wasn’t wearing it, anyway, and my eyes hadn’t opened yet, but I could feel it nearby the way you can sense an old dog by your chair or a former lover on the opposite side of an otherwise perfectly nice party.

My back curled against something firm and supporting and I felt gentle fingers stroke the tufts of silvery black at my temples. Hematite, a man told me once. I would always love him a little for saying that. My hair there wasn’t yet gray but no longer black and when wet it looked like hematite, and he said it like that meant something deep and significant and mystical I didn’t understand. Having someone’s fingers run through it felt good, though. It felt like a happy memory, like something I didn’t expect would happen much anymore if it ever really happened in the first place.

That simple touch was a comfort to me. It’s the most minor thing and, for that reason, the most missed when it’s gone. I don’t go long stretches without being touched, but it had been a while between caresses. This was that: a caress, and more; not exactly sexual but not exactly platonic. It was that happy in-between we call intimate. I made myself vulnerable to other men, and they themselves to me, more times than I can count in my too-short life. It didn’t always work out, though, that my usual flavor of street trade would show basic human kindness in return for mine.

None of that mattered, though. Those guys were long gone. Right that second, someone ran his fingers through my half-asleep hair, intimate and kind and caressing. I felt vulnerable and that was okay. For a few moments I wasn’t dying and I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t lonely and I wasn’t alone. The sun felt good, and the breeze through the branches sounded like Gaia herself telling me to go back to sleep. I thought for a moment I might be okay with dying fairly soon if I got to wake up like this every morning for the rest of my life.

“Okay,” I groaned. I didn’t move and I didn’t open my eyes because I wasn’t quite ready for the moment to go away even as I lifted the pin to pop its balloon. “You want something. So tell me what it is. Because if I say yes – if– I may not have much time to hold up my end of the bargain.” My voice dispelled all the magic of the moment, but his fingers were still at my temple, resting there, ready to go back to what we shared moments before. I rolled over and looked up at Alejandro, his purple hair down over half his face as he leaned on one elbow. I didn’t kiss him, but I did put one hand to his jaw and brush his cheek with my thumb. I wondered if he could feel that – really feel it, like skin feels it. “Let’s not pussyfoot around this. You want me to do something. The whole story about the angel and thinking someone was trying to kill you was bullshit, but there was something there, something worth chasing, so let’s have the truth now and get on with things.” I tried to smile at him. His expression was completely blank.

With the hand he used to brush my temples, he laid a fingertip behind my ear, cupping my face with barely a single point of contact. He still didn’t smile, but his eyes searched my face, my own eyes, for something. It occurred to me the correct phrasing might be to say he searched my eyes for someone. I assumed he’d been alive long enough to know a hell of a lot of people, and I would bet a nickel he looked for one of them in me. There are a hundred romantic stories about golems: meat sacks like me throwing ourselves at a golem out of infatuation with their embodiment of agelessness.

If he’d been there before, heard a hundred thousand of us wail about mortality and still willing to hear number one hundred thousand one, he must have a lot of love for humankind. No, I thought, more than that: he must have loved the hell out of oneof us at some point. Maybe he was waiting for that guy to walk back into his life, reemerging from the vast but finite pool of genetic factors we possess as a species. I wondered if I simply seemed close enough to that long-lost lover to pass muster for a night.

I also wondered what made a golem want to get laid in the first place: ever the detective, after all.

“I really did see an angel in Splendor,” Alejandro said. He still wasn’t smiling. If anything, he had the muted seriousness, the understated gravitas, I’d long since come to recognize as the posture of someone telling the truth at long last. I wondered how long it had been. “I swear it to you. I swear it.” He surprised me, then, because he didn’t cry, golems don’t have tear ducts, but his eyelids quivered with the autonomic response to strong emotion. He still hadn’t moved at all, and we were shielded from the breeze so that his hair hung straight down like a perfectly still and settled curtain across half the stage of his face. “And I believe it would try to kill me if it knew I were here.”


Author Bio

AUTHOR PIC - Michael G. Williams - A Fall in Autumn

Michael G. Williams writes wry horror, urban fantasy, and science fiction: stories of monsters, macabre humor, and subverted expectations. He is the author of three series for Falstaff Books: The Withrow Chronicles, including Perishables (2012 Laine Cunningham Award), Tooth & Nail, Deal with the Devil, Attempted Immortality, and Nobody Gets Out Alive; a new series in The Shadow Council Archives featuring one of San Francisco’s most beloved figures, SERVANT/SOVEREIGN; and the science fiction noir A Fall in Autumn. Michael also writes short stories and contributes to tabletop RPG development. Michael strives to present the humor and humanity at the heart of horror and mystery with stories of outcasts and loners finding their people.

Michael is also an avid podcaster, activist, reader, runner, and gaymer, and is a brother in St. Anthony Hall and Mu Beta Psi. He lives in Durham, NC, with his husband, two cats, two dogs, and more and better friends than he probably deserves.

Author Website: http://www.michaelgwilliams-author.com

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

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

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

Author Instagram: https://instagram.com/mcmanlypants

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6429992.Michael_G_Williams

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-G.-Williams/e/B001KIYBBU/


Exclusive Excerpt


To set up this exclusive excerpt for a moment, let me explain that at this point in the story Valerius needs to navigate a huge open-air market in the worst part of the city. It’s called the Lower Market Market because it’s a market on Market Street. Most people refer to it as just the Market, or the LM, or the LMM.

Valerius knows he’s going to have to contend with multiple gangs of thieves and enforcers to get from one end to the other, and he’s bribed his way through the first section by performing, uh, favors for a young knife-fighter named Fiono. Fiono has a big mane of hair that reminds Valerius of a lion, and he very quickly starts thinking of him that way.

Fiono is clearly talented as a fighter, but he’s somehow gotten in trouble with his very businesslike criminal outfit, the Hendricks Gang, and been busted down to guarding the boundaries of their turf. Valerius has bribed Fiono to accompany him to their contested border with the next gang, the Busters, who are decidedly less formal in their presentation and conduct. Valerius used to be a criminal himself – he spent years as a sex worker in this same market – but it’s been long enough that none of his old contacts are around and none of his old street cred matters. He’s become an outsider to this system he once called home, and now he needs that system’s worst elements to protect him from the rest of it long enough to follow a lead.

We walked for maybe twenty minutes. Different people here and there greeted my Hendricks protector in various ways. Some of them were rent boys, some were rent girls, some were hawkers whose tone was the forced joviality I recognized as fear on seeing him. I wondered if he were especially cruel. Perhaps he had a reputation as a gifted slicer. From what his partner said, he was bumped back down to working the door because he fucked the wrong person, which meant he’d been high enough up to get knocked down. And, of course, maybe these people reacted less to him and more to the organization he represented.

I tried engaging him in conversation—I told him my name, offered a hand to shake—but he kept walking without even looking at me. Maybe he pissed off a trick who then made trouble to get back at him. Maybe he was mute. I found myself manufacturing a hundred different reasons why a street tough like Fiono would get blown in the shadows by a wrung-out stranger like me, then walk a mile without saying a word. In most of my manufactured scenarios, he did it by choice. I imagined Fiono aloof in that way a teenager might find romantic but I found a little sad. In some of them, it was tragic circumstance: Fiono cast in the role of my One True Love, found too late to save him from the gyro accident that stole his speaking voice; or the damage to his larynx from a case of Child’s Malady had been too severe; or he was born silent and would, like a swan, only speak on the day of his death at which time his voice would be shockingly beautiful.

After a sensory-numbing slideshow of spice merchants, back-alley pinpricks selling unfiltered shit in dirty needles, an arcade of manual games operated by the few kids not out trying to steal dinner, furniture huts, games of dice huddling in gaps, accusations of counterfeiting, and who knows what else, we walked down some rickety steps one at a time.
Fiono, The Boy Lion, nodded in the direction of one of the warrens and turned to go.
“Wait.” My voice was quiet, but I didn’t push my luck trying to sound intimate. He paused. “I may need them to see a little muscle to let me get through. I mean, these are Busters we’re talking about.”

He shrugged, leaned against a post, and a knife appeared between his fingers without his visibly removing it from anywhere on his person. Fiono started picking his nails with it. The knife was tiny, the weapon of a guy who enjoyed feeling a foe’s dying breath gutter out against his own face.
“What’s Hendy trash doing sitting on our curb?”

I looked in the direction of the new voice and saw two women with football bats and bandoliers of knives walk to within ten meters and no closer. The one speaking appeared the older of the two, but neither of them would have qualified as an adult in the Imperial census. Busters will take anybody desperate enough to volunteer, but these two looked like they had skills and intentions.

“He came with me. I need to get to a fruit dealer. Let us by.” I tried to sound proud but compliant: the default state of one who knows he’s been beaten by a larger foe. There was a middle finger in my voice, but my eyes didn’t meet theirs.
“Let you by, you mean. We’re not letting a Hendy onto our turf.”

Fiono turned to go at that, hands up in a gesture indicating very clearly he was done participating in this minor melodrama.
“Wait.” I didn’t try to hide that I was begging. “Please, wait. I need all three of you to go with me, and I’m willing to pay.”

Fiono turned back and stared at me. The Buster who’d done the talking burst out laughing. “You want Busters and Hendies to help you out at the same time? Buddy, you don’t need to work so hard to set up a fight. Usually throwing something will get it started.” She laughed again. “Now come with us, and we’ll figure out how to get you there and how much it’ll cost.”

That’s the thing about the Lower Em. I could have found the place on my own. I could have probably paid off the guards and kept walking, or bluffed my way through, but I needed some muscle for this trip to the fruit dealer. Yuri might have gotten bounced out because he didn’t know what he was getting into, but I did. I needed this guy to see I had friends and, even better, I wanted him to see I had friends in at least two of the big gangs.

“No.” I shook my head. “He comes with me, and we all go together. You and he make nice and it’ll be worth your time.”

They exchanged glances, and the younger one blinked at the older. Apparently, that was enough. The older went from pensive to sneering again. “Alright, buddy boy. I mean, it’ll be a hoot to tell the rest, right? For both of us.”

Fiono met my eyes and shook his head once to the left. No dice. He wasn’t sold.

I walked over and leaned in close enough to whisper. “You do this for me, and I’ll put a smile on your face twice a day for a week.”

Fiono considered for a long second, then stepped forward. This kid was going to get himself in real trouble one day.

The three of us drew stares as we walked. Most conversations stopped, but some others took on new vigor—and new subject matter—as we passed by. There were people who were too stunned to contain their reaction on seeing a kid in Hendy blue walk with two beat sticks in Buster yellow rags. (Busters identify themselves with tufts of yellow woven into complicated braids in their hair.) I heard something metallic clatter against the scaffolding as we rounded a corner. The Busters refused to tell me their names, but they made constant patter with one another. One was in front, the other in back, with Fiono, The Boy Lion, walking beside. They joked with one another, they joked about one another, they joked at my expense, and they openly mocked the surprise of the people around us.

“Wot,” the one in front said to a pottery merchant selling plastic painted with shellac. “You never seen blue before? Look up sometime, grandpa!” The other shot back, “He can’t, when he does, he gets shit in his eye!” and then they both laughed these high, keening, vulture laughs, like harpies from prehistoric times. They snorted and farted and pointed at people, stuck their tongues out, made rude gestures. Where the Hendricks Gang has turned their turf into an operating business environment with sustainability and stability highly prioritized, the Busters keep people afraid and have fun doing it.

I remembered what it was like to be afraid all the time—hell, I still felt afraid all the time—and so I hated them for the way they used fear as a tool, but at the same time, I loved their energy. There was a time when I was the kid on the corner shaking my ass at whatever ganger passed, cracking jokes, taunting the serious ones and encouraging the silly ones. That kind of bravery comes from a place of powerlessness, from having nothing to lose. Everything looked like up from where I was back then, and in its strange way that can be liberating.

A part of me whispered there’s never been anywhere but the bottom, for me, that it’s always been nowhere to go but up. So where did that feeling of liberation go?
I didn’t want to go back to those times. I’m not trying to glamorize living on the street, sucking crusty dick in return for barely enough calories not to starve. I’m not trying to say it’s a party. Having nothing is not the same as having nothing to worry about. A lot of my bravery was a lie I told myself to make it through the night. There was a part of me, though, on that walk, with those three, that missed being able to summon up the bravado, false or otherwise. Only the terrorized can achieve fearlessness.

Some street kids—real kids, not the Buster teens, and not Fiono, whose age I pegged at twenty—fell in behind us, singing the songs they make up down here about the gangs and life and dangers to avoid. Like kids everywhere, they make up stories about what scares them, what to stay away from, who’s in charge and why. The songs they sang sounded half-familiar to me because they were based on the songs I heard when I was working these streets. They’d been remixed and rewritten over time, the names changing with the shifting tides of gangs and turf, but the tunes and the themes were preserved from one half-life generation to the next. Very quickly our little foursome turned into an informal parade of Lower Market Market street kids singing and skipping and waving scraps of cloth. Fiono looked a little offended as the Busters joined in on the songs, loving the attention, the grand show we were putting on. Like the one said, it would make a great story for them to tell the others. Fiono took himself seriously, though, so all this abraded his sensibilities, his notion of himself as a slicer who was going places.

“Don’t look so sour.” I hit him with a small smile. “They’re making noise because they’re scared of you.” I nodded forward and back. “And of them. If you were nothing, they wouldn’t need to warn each other of your approach.”

Fiono blinked. He’d never thought about that before. He probably was, once upon a time, one of these kids, too, but he’d never let himself examine that experience. He was too young and too focused on gang captaincy or new knives or his own dick or whatever else he saw as the measure of success. Most slicers only wanted to get rich enough to eat when they felt like it and fuck whom they wished, and eventually to die in a close fight after grievously wounding their opponent. I would probably outlive Fiono, given his current career, but he was still a person. He still deserved a moment of kindness as much as the next living thing.

“Don’t try pillow talk with Fiono,” the one in front said with a sneer. “Better’n you ‘ave tried to put a smile on those pretty lips.”
I started to say something smart, I don’t remember what, when I realized we were there: the fruit seller’s stand. Time to get back to work.

More From the Author


I loved writing this scene so much. It really let me dig into the mishmash of cultures and shifting lines of power at work in this seamy underbelly of the city. The Lower Market Market gets to be the place in the city that most feels alive. It practically boils over with activity, with opportunity, and with people taking advantage of each other and watching out for each other and everything between. Seeing all those factions and forces simultaneously entertained and intimidated by an impromptu parade of singing, dancing street kids and a few members of rival gangs made the Market come to life for me in a way it hadn’t in the first draft. It inspired me to go back and rewrite some earlier sections to bring a little more verve into a dingy part of town.

I loved this scene also because it’s a chance for Valerius to realize how far he’s come from the life he had as a teenage runaway – and how far he hasn’t come. After all, he turned to his old methods when he needed a way across, and he didn’t hesitate to do so. He’s still desperate, still just barely making it in a big, bad world full of people eager to gain the upper hand on anyone and everyone who happens to be around. Valerius hasn’t for many years felt afraid in the way he did as a kid, but he’s also starting to wake up to the fact he still does feel afraid all the time. He’s just afraid of different things.

I think it’s important to feature characters who are weak, and who are looked down upon. It’s important because it gives them powerful motivations to succeed, and powerful motivations lead to daring choices and meaningful turns in the plot. But I also think it’s important because that helps us build empathy for the people we think are beneath us in the real world. It’s important to me to emphasize that all people are people, and all people deserve empathy and consideration and respect. Like Valerius, I think almost everyone deserves more kindness than they’re getting, with the exceptions being the very rich and the very powerful. The powerless among us are the ones who most deserve to be recognized as our comrades in the constant struggle to get by. Valerius feels that, and he hopes this moment right here will teach the others to feel it, too. He feels real affection for Fiono, real sympathy, and I think that’s a much more complex and vulnerable and brave reaction to this silent street tough who’s unquestionably killed, probably many times, than simple cynicism would be. I would much rather work to expose what we have in common with those we think are the least like us than just tell another story of someone exactly like me.

What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
I’ve just signed a deal for 4 more books in the world of A Fall in Autumn and will be writing the sequel over the summer. I can’t wait! I expect the second book, to be titled New Life in Autumn, will be out a year from now.

Later this year I have several other works, already finished and coming out from Falstaff Books:

Nobody Gets Out Alive will be coming out sometime soon, probably over the summer. It’s the fifth and final(-ish) book of The Withrow Chronicles, my suburban vampire series about a guy who became a vampire in the 1940’s and has declared himself the boss of all of North Carolina’s blood-drinkers. The series is a ridiculously fun sequence of genre mashups – vampires and zombies, vampires and superheroes, vampires and spy thrillers, vampires and war, vampires and their witch frienemies – telling a story that gets increasingly complex as Withrow slowly but surely learns the world of the supernatural is much bigger than he thought.

I also have the four-novella San Francisco urban fantasy series, SERVANT/SOVEREIGN. It starts with Through the Doors of Oblivion, and it’s about some of the most evocative moments in San Francisco’s history – such as the 1906 earthquake and fire – and witches and demons and time travel and real estate scams. I’m just exceptionally proud of it, and I get to really focus on the features of San Francisco I most adore, which are not necessarily the parts of the city they try to highlight for tourists. I don’t know exactly when that one is due out, either, but it’s made it through the content edits and the copyeditor and it’s now with the proofreader, so it’s getting close!

And, last but not least, I’ve reached the rights-reversion point on a bunch of short stories I sold years ago so I’m possibly going to reclaim those rights and produce an anthology of short stories and nonfiction essays I’ve written for various venues. That’s a maybe, though. We’ll see.

Thank you so much for having me – I really appreciate your and your readers’ time and attention. I hope you enjoy A Fall in Autumn and I would love to hear from you about it!

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Folks who sign up for my monthly newsletter get a free short story and can read the ongoing first draft of a story set in the world of A Fall in Autumn but in our time rather than 12,000 years from now. Give it a shot! I keep marketing to a minimum and try to focus on rewarding your interest with new content.

And thanks again!


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Thanks to the author and OWI for including us in the tour! Michael, I hope you will visit again. Thanks, readers for comeing by. Comments are always welcome.

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Dark fantasy by Natsuya Uesugi: The Seer of Ice and Sky—exclusive scene here!

Romance Across the Rainbow is pleased to welcome Natsuya Uesugi with a December 2018 release, The Seer of Ice and Sky. Read on for all the usual info plus a bonus excerpt!

COVER - The Seer of Ice and Sky

Natsuya Uesugi has a new queer dark fantasy book out in his “The Seer of Grace and Fire” series: The Seer of Ice and Sky.

Surviving the devastation of DarkFall, Timorn is now rightful King of Faerie. With evil lurking at the fringes between the kingdoms of the humans and the elves, the dark mage Dalannin travels to Dragonreise to forge an alliance with the Dragon King.

Timorn’s travelling party sets off on request from an elven emissary but dissent grows as the party passes through the human city of Ekhrine. As they stop at the Ecclesiastical University where the cleric Kabal translated The Legend of Arden prophesy, a demonic aura haunts their path.

Can Timorn forge an alliance with the dragons to ensure peace or will darkness drive a wedge between him and his magical twin Ethesian as they journey through the elven lands. Transgender heroine.

XLibris | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Barnes & Noble


About the Series:

A human cleric translating an elven prophesy must bring the work to the high court at Kannon in faerie before DarkFall, the solemn anniversary when all the male faerie newborns were murdered 17 years ago. If the translation does not arrive in time, all is lost. Timorn, a 17 year old ranger travels the human towns hiring out his services. A mysterious elven woman hires him to take her to Kannon before DarkFall, and only he can lead her with his purple faerie eyes.

The evil Valkyris is amassing an army to attack Kannon at DarkFall insisting she possess the prophesy. Sending her dark mage Dalannin to infiltrate faerie, he marches his demon hordes towards Kannon and sneaks into the palace. Ethesian, the 17 year old faerie daughter of King Ailon plays the dragon lyre, a female magic. Yet recently she has started having prophetic dreams as if she were male. When a lie is revealed, Ethesian is tasked to study magic she must master before DarkFall. Will Timorn reach Kannon before the Valkyris and Ethesian master a magic she shouldn’t possess? Secrets and lies, revelations and wizardry, DarkFall is coming and so too the reluctant faerie who would be king. Learn more in the first book of the dark fantasy trilogy, The Seer of Grace and Fire.

The Seer of Grace and Fire starts the dark fantasy trilogy reviewers have called “Enthralling” and “A beacon of light for readers young and old.” The series continues with release of The Seer of Ice and Sky book 2. Book 3 The Seer of Flesh and Death will be released early 2020.


Giveaway

Natsuya is giving away an ARC of book one in the series – The Seer of Grace and Fire – enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4758/?


Excerpt

Timorn squinted as he studied the elven emissary, Arhlamanel dressed in finery, yet his stance and mannerisms were less refined then Ihel’s. He sensed deception. His ranger skill told him the elf was concealing something about his identity,

“I am aware of dragon riders, but not of a dragon king in Arenth,” Timorn said, turning to Eanna, his mother the First Consort, for confirmation. Eanna shook her head, also unaware.

Arhlamanel nodded. “The dragons are elusive and secretive, Your Majesty. Only a few high elves dare to venture up the perilous paths into the ice mountains to entertain them. It is treacherous as the dragons carefully guard the priceless gems within their lands.”

Timorn gripped the arms of the throne, leaning forward. “At DarkFall, we saw an adult dragon. A rider in black sat atop its monstrousg form. Luckily the brunt of its power was stopped before it could let loose with abandon.”

“It is as we heard. Thus, the dragon king requests you come to Akrisia, to the mountains in the North. He has sent me as emissary, in partner with the high elves, to bring you to hear his message. A party of your choice is invited to travel along, including one named Ethesian, who is also summoned. But be warned. One who wad banished many years ago has returned and is making inquiries in the dragon lands. He goes by the name of Dalannin. There is much suspicion amoungst the elves. Do you know of him?”

Timorn gasped. If Dalannin was with the dragons, that could only mean danger. Timorn spoke authoritatively, immediately deciding based on the elf’s report. “Yes, we know Dalannin, and yes, my party and Ethesian will accompany you to Akrisia. Lady Eanna will remain and keep watchful eye on the crown.”

“Yes, my lord,” Eanna acknowledged the decree.

“You must come dressed as a ranger,” Arhlamanel added. “That is how they will know you: by your clothes, your faerie daggers, and your sword. The dragon king and his half-dragon army will join you at the dragon court, high in the mountains. The trek up the expanse is arduous and will require a full day of walking to reach once we arrive.”

“Had Dalannin already recruited dragon riders to his cause? Timorn hoped for a negative answer.

“Unknown your Excellency. I hope, for our sakes and all of Arenth he has not.”

Deleted Scene


The Cleric Kabal at the Ecclesiastical University Library

Kabal tapped his foot in annoyance holding the large leather bound Elven dictionary as the Sexton Eskelan engaged him in the hallway. Patience wearing thin, Kabal rolled his eyes trying to disengage from the conversation.

“Your translation of the Legend of Arden was masterful. The Vicar Josephinian as much as said so. All my night students debated it marveling at the copy in the sacred room in the library…” Eskelan droned on.

Realizing there was no ending this conversation, Kabal decided to force the situation. Clearing his throat and interrupting, “your students are teasing you so you won’t assign Elven translations for homework. They hate that as I hated it many years ago as a novice before doing my rotation with the elves.”

A clerical student in the hallway carrying a stack of books came towards Kabal and smiled, nodding in agreement as he passed, the Sexton none the wiser, his back to the youngster.

“How do you know that?”

“Elven magic,” whispered Kabal with an annoyed chuckle. “My friend, I have tarried long. The librarian will have my head if I do not return this elven dictionary. Two turns of the hourglass passed since I promised her. She will eat me alive. I must take my leave.”

Kabal walked away abruptly as Eskelan remained, shocked. Kabal shouted behind him, waving the annoyance away. “Your students are playing with you. Don’t let them get the upper hand or they will battle you to the death and lose faith. May the Goddess of Learning, Aitreya, shine on your good fortune and guide your teachings.”

Kabal chuckled to himself, knowing he belittled the Sexton, as he quickstepped the utilitarian hallway to the illustrious library, the massive structure off the Provost building, the darling of the Ecclesiastical University in the human city of Ekhrine. With its floor to ceiling engraved mahogany doors with golden dragon carvings, to its stained glass dome in the ceiling showing the elven creation story, and marble intricately patterned tile floor, the countless books that lined its shelves were known through all of Arenth.

Kabal had translated the Elven prophesy, The Legend of Arden in the library before DarkFall, a royal edict from King Ailon of Faerie, the prophesy it revealed had changed Faerie forever and installed the young reluctant ranger Timorn, raised by humble human parents, of faerie nobility to the position of king of all Itheria. It had been but weeks since Timorn had started rule and they had now set off on their journey to the elven city of Akrisia then onto the dragons.

Kabal sighed as he pushed in the doors to the library and saw Timorn seated at a back desk glancing at a book lost in thought. Sauntering up to the circulation desk where the librarian was glaring sternly, Kabal swallowed hard garnering his strength and steeled his nerves for the encounter. The librarian was wearing a red short cardigan over a white striped ruffled shirt and a long brown twill skirt as she stood in front of the circulation desk counter extending her hand, frown deepening as Kabal stepped slowly towards her, trying to draw out the coming attack.

“An Anayalee, es ailan, ie nemalas,” he sung out in the Elven tongue using the highest honourific to ensure no disrespect.
She harrumphed translating his words into the human language, “gracious and humble in spirit, Mistress Anayalee, you, Noble Lady, look exquisite… Don’t start on me, Kabal. Your sweet Elven words do not work. You should know better trying to sweeten the librarian’s ego.”

Kabal lowered his eyes and bowed handing over the dictionary. She went behind the circulation desk and put the book up to be reshelved and picked up an unlit white pillar candle in a metal holder, pulling a small wand out from under the counter wagging it at him.

“Fly right or I will light you up!” She smirked, voice raising and touched the wand’s tip to the wick igniting the candle.

“I know your power, and doubt I could withstand such a force,” chuckled Kabal knowing she would not take kindly to sarcasm. Having given her the wand when she had first come to work as the librarian years ago, he knew she had little patience for him and his bucking the library rules, using its gifts at all hours, not filling the ink well, slapping books closed, scraping chairs, leaving books laying around, and never cleaning up the one desk he used. Though he transgressed often, he knew she had a soft spot for him after all these years.

She picked up the candle and motioned to him to follow her down the side hallway past the Elven tomes back to the sacred incantations room. The hallway grew dark as they passed the relic room and the sacred books behind glass and came to the back of the library. The darkness of the area was caused by the magic that kept the incantations housed. Only those with permissions and a certain level of spiritual training were allowed in the area.

There was a large white sign with black letters above the incantations room writing in Elven, the human tongue and Jannai, the faerie language. It warned unauthorized patrons to keep out. The librarian went into her pocket with a large metal key ring and handed Kabal the candle as she opened the door. Placing her right palm flat on the door, other hand on the key, closed her eyes whispering, “incantations, smart and strong. Key to portals, spells long gone. Aitreya, goddess protect my life, open this room as I go inside.”

A purple circle with a an Elven sigil of warding lit up on the door, as the lock clicked, releasing. She pushed the door open slowly, and it creaked taking the candle back. “Close the door behind you.”

Kabal pulled closed the door, leaving them in a heavy darkness, the weight of spiritual power. Closing with a thud, a purple light rushed up the door frame as the celestial incantation sealed them inside The librarian brought her hand over the candle. “Escarna…” she whispered. The candle light flared lighting the entire room. Filled with magical instruments, Elven and Jannai spellbooks, alchemy tools and ritual items, the librarian walked Kabal over to the left wall with a rectangular spell suspended in a glass frame black text inscribed in the celestial ancient Jannai script used only for magic. A purple mist undulated in the boxy frame swirling around the spell.

Kabal spun taking in the room cluttered with ritual items, absentmindedly getting lost in the pages of an open Elven spell book, he snapped out of his reverie quickly coming over to the librarian waving to him.

“What is it? I can make out the ancient text due to my translation of the Legend of Arden from Elven into Jannai. This is a Jannai spell?”

“Yes, a teacher on his way to Amaralon brought it a few weeks ago passing through.”

“That spell is active. It is safe?”

“Watch…” The librarian brought the candle closer to the picture frame and the purple mist swirled faster revealing an image of a wide open room taking over the frame. There was a person in the view. They watched as the person came closer in a long black robe, thorn crown on their head, glaring red eyes, a faerie by their features.

Kabal’s eyes burst open backing up when he realized who it was. He grabbed the librarian’s arm pulling her. “Move away from it. This thing is evil…”

The frame lost its vision and went back once more to the undulating mist. Kabal dragged the librarian back to the door yanking it open and pushing her out. He carefully closed the door and she locked it with the key, purple light once more running up the frame as it sealed, protecting the room.

He shuffled her back to the circulation desk as she blew out the candle and returned it to its hiding place. “That was the Valkyris I saw.”

“Do not utter her name. Its very whisper is evil. I fear she may spy on the library. Did the teacher say why he gave you the incantation?”

“He said he needed it protected. One of his students delved deep into the darkness, conjured it against his training and was being controlled. The teacher banished the presence haunting the student but he could not neutralize the spell. The only logical remediation was to put it in the incantation room.”

“Do not go near it. I must hurry and tell Timorn. We may not be safe here,” warned Kabal and bowed to Anayalee rushing away.
Kabal slapped his hands on the desk forcing Timorn to look up from his book.

“What is it, Good Cleric? Your face as is pale as bone,” Timorn smiled, his eyes darting around the library fearing danger.
“There is evil magic here sealed in the incantation room. It is too close for my liking. The librarian showed me, Your Majesty.”

Timorn took one of his daggers off his leather belt and set it down on top the table. It was dormant, not giving off a blue glow which it did when there was faerie magic near.

“My daggers are calm. There is nothing to worry yourself about.”

Kabal looked up for a minute as Ethesian, Timorn’s twin, and magic dream seer passed behind him looking at the Elven tomes on the shelves. “Still, my concern lingers…”

“Be still, Cleric. We are safe. If there is faerie magic near, my daggers will sound the alarm and I will notify you immediately. Be at ease,” Timorn smiled and flipped the page in the book going back to what he was doing.

Kabal sighed and walked back to the librarian, wary, unable to be at ease. If the Valkyris knew of Timorn and Ethesian travelling to the elven city of Akrisia for more knowledge of the dragon that attacked Kannon at DarkFall, then once again tragedy could befall faerie.


Author Bio

Natsuya Uesugi is a cybersecurity analyst with an MBA in International Management and a minor in Japanese. He is author of the science fiction grydscaen series, the yaoi novellas and manga graphic noiz and The Seer of Grace and Fire fantasy trilogy. He creates all the illustrations for his books. He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, anime and writing poetry.

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

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

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/natsuya_uesugi

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

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4558587.Natsuya_Uesugi

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/natsuya-uesugi/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00J6EDQQ6

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Filed under Book tour, just a category, LGBTQ+ fiction

Blog tour: O. E. Tearman’s The Hands We’re Given—giveaway, links, and exclusive insight

Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes O. E. Tearman, who is on tour with a unique futuristic sci-fi—sounds fascinating!The Hands We're Given - O.E. Tearmann

O.E. Tearmann has a new MM (trans) hard sci fi/cyberpunk tale out, book one in their “Aces High, Jokers Wild” series: “The Hands We’re Given.”

Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned.

Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in.

Life’s a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you’re given.

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


Giveaway

O.E. is giving away an eBook copy of “After Hours Game: A Wildcards Christmas: with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4754/?


Excerpt

The Hands We're Given meme - O.E. Tearmann

The dark shapes of three drones flitted over the junkyard, blotting out the stars. Aidan desperately turned the keys, slamming his foot on the accelerator. The truck’s engine finally revved. Kevin flung open the passenger side door and leapt inside. “Go, go, go!”

Aidan slammed it into reverse and hit the gas. They jumped backward. Once the truck was far enough away from the fence, he changed gears and wrenched the wheel around. They bumped and rattled into the night as fast as Aidan dared without the headlights on. The heat of the engine would make them easy to follow for the drones’ thermal cameras, but the short-range guard drones couldn’t go too far from their base of operation before their programming called them back. Aidan just hoped they could outrun them.

He gripped the steering wheel so hard it hurt. He could feel the suit tightening down against his skin. His heart pounded in his chest. Kevin’s breathing was ragged beside him. Another burst of bullets sprayed the ground right in front of them. Aidan yelped and yanked the wheel to avoid getting hit. The truck jittered to the side. Aidan slammed on the gas. The desert night sped past in a blur of blue and red under the starlight. Slowly, the whir of rotors faded into the distance. Aidan’s grip on the steering wheel began to relax. Kevin pulled his tab out of the bag and set it on the dashboard, watching as the screen flipped through the security channels they’d hacked into, keeping track of the location of dozens of drones.

Finally, Aidan pulled up under an overhang of red rock and cut the engine. The wide-range security drones were due to make their fly-over soon. Better to stop for a while and recover, get back on the road when it was safer.

They sat in silence for a long time, listening for rotors over the quiet buzz of the night insects. Aidan rested his arms on the steering wheel and propped his chin on his wrist, watching the star-studded sky.

“You all right?” Kevin breathed. At some point during the drive, he had deactivated his slick suit.

Aidan sighed and leaned back so he could manually flip his face screen up.”Yeah. Think so. Banged my knee pretty bad. Your shoulder?”

“Bruised. Doesn’t feel severe.” Kevin shrugged.

“Um, good,” Aidan whispered eventually.

So. They were alive. They’d gotten out with most of what they’d gone in for.

At the expense of a bad bruise across Kevin’s cheek, that or worse to his shoulder, and an action that could have caused so much more.

Slowly, some of his anger seeped back. He took a breath. “You scared the hell out of me back there and acted like a complete gamma, Kev. Don’t do that again.”

Kevin ducked his head in a slow nod. “I’m sorry, Aidan. I—When I saw you like that, I guess I panicked.”

Aidan sighed. Kevin was normally so level-headed. He’d been utterly cool on-Grid, when Aidan had been scared shitless.

So why had he acted like this out here?

On the tab screen, the red dot of a drone approached their location. They waited in breathless silence as the long-range drone passed, not even the sound of whirring to announce its presence. The red dot moved out of range.

Aidan breathed out. Kevin looked up with a smile. So close. They were so close.

“That’s the last of them. A very fine night’s work if I do say so.”

Aidan tried to smile, but it faltered. “I didn’t get the holo board. That was the part we needed most.”

Kevin smirked as he pulled the bag up from the floorboard and into his lap. He rifled quickly through the materials they had managed to grab, yanked, and pulled out the board with a wink.

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“What? How…?” Aidan breathed, feeling the wave of defeat that had been threatening lift.

“Fell down the pile when you did,” Kevin whispered, grinning. “I simply grabbed it up. After all, I am the requisitions officer. Snatching things is my forte.”

A rush of joy shot through Aidan. They’d done it. They’d gotten everything. Nose to nose with Kevin, he grinned.

“Holy shit, we- Holy shit! You… wow. Kevin, holy shit! This is like one of your vids!”

Kevin’s eyes glittered like silver in the low light. “You know, if this is a vid, I know how the scene ends.”

“Yeah?” Aidan asked, still giddy with relief.

Kevin was still smiling, his teeth white outlines in his grin. And he was leaning closer. Aidan could feel the heat of his skin, his breath.

“Heroes always get a kiss at the end of the adventure. That’s the convention.” Kevin tipped his head, eyes holding Aidan’s. “Would the hero like a kiss?”

Aidan froze. Was Kevin actually… Was he…?

He wet his lips. His voice escaped as a whisper. “Am I supposed to be a hero?”

Kevin’s smile was soft now, and he was so very close. “I don’t see anyone else in the driver’s seat. So you must be.” Then he pressed his lips against Aidan’s.

Kevin’s lips were hot. Aidan’s brain turned inside out. Kevin was kissing him.

Kevin had started kissing him.

This was real.

He leaned into the warmth with a pleasure that was almost pain. This was only going to be a second, but if only this second would last.

Softly, Kevin drew back. “Was that okay?”

Kevin’s whisper barely made it through the buzzing in Aidan’s brain. He gasped in a breath. “Um, okay. Yeah.” He swallowed hard and forced himself to sit up. “We-we should get going home…”

Kevin nodded, eyes still holding his as he drew away. “I suppose we should.”


Aidan Headly wasn’t always the adorable anxious wreck of a commander who’s currently running the Wildcards in the Aces High Jokers Wild series. When he first appeared in my brain before I had any inkling of what his story would become, he was far, far different. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore how he became the character he is today.

Originally, Aidan was meant to be an antagonist of sorts. In his first story (which, thank goodness, never went anywhere), he was one of two point of view characters in a world that, in retrospect, was incredibly poorly conceived. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that he was in the majority instead of the minority. In this original storyline, Aidan was still part of a rebel group, but he wasn’t a leader–and this group wasn’t fighting for freedom.

As second-in-command of this rebel group, Aidan was a confident sharpshooter and spy who would often go on dangerous missions into enemy territory with his sister, Naomi. He was a post-operative trans guy with a little bit of a wild streak.

Not at all what he is today, right?

When I started to put together this new world and storyline, Aidan began to shift. He initially was going to be a side-character as I focused on his sister’s storyline, But then I got too invested in his and Kevin’s relationship and changed directions. I decided I wanted him to be pre-op so I could explore my own dysphoria and discomfort in fiction. So he got a binder and a hormone regimen. He developed anxiety and depression as I realized those things in myself and started to learn to cope with them. In many ways, Aidan became a reflection of myself on the page instead of the vague character I’d originally imagined. With some additional kick-butt leadership and fighting skills.
He continued to grow and evolve as The Hands We’re Given went from rough draft to published book. At one point, I wrote his depression as so bad and so deep that it began to eclipse every other aspect of his personality. Obviously, that had to get toned back and tweaked. He had a bit of a pendulum swing between being a competent leader and hiding in his closet before things settled out into what I hope is a good balance.

There are some traits that stayed the same throughout this evolution, of course: he’s still a rebel, he’s still trans and gay, and he has a similar voice to when we started out. He still cares deeply for his friends and companions, and will still stick his neck out for them.

No matter how much Aidan changed through the writing process, he has always been close to my heart. I’m proud of the way he evolved and became the character who’s out in the world today. It’s a little like watching a kid grow up and sending him out into the unknown.

All I can do now is hope my readers enjoy his adventures.

Author Bio

AUTHORBIO

O.E. Tearmann lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, in what may become the Co-Wy Grid. They share the house with a brat in fur, a husband and a great many books. Their search engine history may garner them a call from the FBI one day. When they’re not living on base 1407 they advocate for a more equitable society and more sustainable agricultural practices, participate in sundry geekdom and do their best to walk their characters’ talk.

Author Website: http://aceshighjokerswild.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/wildcards1407/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18359444.O_E_Tearmann

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/O.E.-Tearmann/e/B07J62VX9W

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Thanks O. E. Tearman and Other Worlds Ink for letting RATR be part of the tour. I hope you’ll visit again!

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Filed under Book tour, Contests, just a category, LGBTQ+ fiction, New M/M releases

Blog tour: Abaddon’s Locusts by Don Travis—exclusive excerpt, links, giveaway

Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes Don Travis with his new release, Abaddon’s Locusts Read to the end for an exclusive excerpt!
Abaddon's Locusts - Don Travis

DSP Publications author Don Travis has a new gay mystery book out: Abaddon’s Locusts.

When B. J. Vinson, confidential investigator, learns his young friend, Jazz Penrod, has disappeared and has not been heard from in a month, he discovers some ominous emails. Jazz has been corresponding with a “Juan” through a dating site, and that single clue draws BJ and his significant other, Paul Barton, into the brutal but lucrative world of human trafficking.

Their trail leads to a mysterious Albuquerquean known only as Silver Wings, who protects the Bulgarian cartel that moves people—mostly the young and vulnerable—around the state to be sold into modern-day slavery, sexual and otherwise. Can BJ and Paul locate and expose Silver Wings without putting Jazz’s life in jeopardy? Hell, can they do so without putting themselves at risk? People start dying as BJ, Paul, and Henry Secatero, Jazz’s Navajo half-brother, get too close. To find the answer, bring down the ring, and save Jazz, they’ll need to locate the place where human trafficking ties into the Navajo Nation and the gay underground.

About the Series:

BJ Vinson, a gay former-Marine, ex-cop licensed private investigator tries to pick his cases carefully, but prior loyalties or his sense of justice or something always gets in his way. He finds himself traveling all over his beloved state of New Mexico with his companion Paul Barton to mend other people’s problems.

DSP Publications (eBook) | DSP Publications (paperback) | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Google Play


Giveaway

Don and DSP Publications are giving away a $10 DSPP gift card with this tour. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4751/?


Excerpt

Abaddon's Locusts banner

Prologue

Two men gazed down at the sleeping youth sprawled across the mattress. The older, his pleasant features blemished by a glint of cruelty in his dark eyes, smoothed silver wings of luxuriant hair at his temples before handing over a number of $100 bills to a young Hispanic almost as handsome as the boy on the bed.

Now fully clothed, Silver Wings exuded the authority of a player, of someone who counted. “Fucking beautiful. How old did you say he is?”

“Eighteen. Barely. Know that’s older’nyou usually like. But he’s a rare one, no? As lindaas a woman and as macho as a man. He took care of you, huh?”

Silver Wings rubbed his eyes as if remembering the last hour. “Fantastic. Must have worn himself out. Does he usually go comatose?”

“Ah, that is the drug. He claims he gets a bigger bang by charging up. But you benefit as well, no?” He eyed his companion. “He is yours for $25,000.”

Interest flickered and died. “Tempting. But my household isn’t set up for that kind of arrangement. I prefer to call when I feel the need. Even if that means sharing him.”

“You don’t take him, then we move him south.”

“South? To Mexico, you mean? Juárez?” That wouldn’t be too bad. El Paso was a short hop, and Juárez lay just across the border.

“At first, but then we gonna trade him up.”

Silver Wings understood the human trafficking language of trading up, but it was unusual to move members of the “family” out of country these days. “In Juárez? Sounds more like trading him down.”

¡Órale! There’s some big money in Juárez. But a bigwig in the Middle East went apeshitover the kid’s pics. He wants him. And for a lot more than twenty-five. I only give you that price to let you know how much we ’preciateyour help.”

“Middle East, huh?” Silver Wings licked his lips. “Put off that transfer while I see if I can work something out.”

“Two days. Then I gotta move him. You know, easier to ship him overseas from Mexico than from the States.”

Silver Wings’ voice hardened. “You can do better than that. Give me a week to reorder my life. I’d like to visit him a couple of times. Usual fee, of course. That gives you reason enough to hold him here.”

“Okay, but not no more’n a week. I got people to answer to, you know.”

“I’d like him again tomorrow night, but it will have to be late. I have a dinner meeting.”

Hispano lowered his head. “As you wish. All you gotta do is call me.”

Silver Wings left the motel reluctantly. What would take place in that room now that they were alone? Just thinking about it raised a bead of sweat on his upper lip.

His mind returned to the offer he had received. The boy was expensive, and the economy was still struggling to recover from the Great Recession of 2008… but it was only money.

Chapter 1

Monday, August 9, 2010, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I parked the Impala in front of my detached single-car garage and sat for a moment trying to figure out the cacophony on the radio. I’d failed to reset the station after Paul and I went for a rare game of weekend golf at the North Valley Country Club. Paul Barton was the sun in my sky, but I still struggled to understand my companion’s taste in music. Now something called “Alejandro” by a gal proclaiming herself to be Lady Gaga committed assault on my classical-music-loving ears. As I switched off the noise and stepped from the car, a high, uncertain voice snagged my attention.

“Yoo-hoo, Mr. Vinson. BJ!”

Mrs. Gertrude Wardlow, the late-afternoon sun catching in wayward strands of her white hair, waved at me from the foot of her driveway. She had lived in the white brick across the street for as long as I could remember. Mrs. W. and her husband, Herb, had been with the Drug Enforcement Administration from the time it was formed in 1973 until their retirement. Some ten years ago, Herb passed on to his reward—an urn on his widow’s mantelpiece. I walked out to meet her in the middle of Post Oak Drive.

“I’m so glad I caught you.” She fiddled with frilly lace at the neck of her lavender blouse. “A man on a Harley has been driving up and down the street. He stopped at your place twice. Rang the bell and then rode off.”

No doubt she was recalling the time when two thugs on another motorcycle attempted to gun me down. When she’d yelled to distract their murderous attention, they shot up the front of her house, scattering her husband all over the carpet.

I touched her shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’m not involved in any gang disputes at the moment. Not that I know of, anyway.”

Her smile turned impish. “That was an interesting day, wasn’t it? I just thought you should be aware someone was trying to contact you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. W. I’ll be on the lookout.”

After exchanging pleasantries, we parted. I mounted the steps to my front porch and paused to enjoy the welcoming aroma of tea roses my late mother planted. No evidence of a note on the door or in the mailbox. That meant the mysterious biker would probably return. I went inside and forgot the matter as I removed one of Paul’s casseroles from the fridge and got out a pan of rolls. I enjoyed their yeasty aroma almost as much as I liked their yeasty taste. Our household mantra was Paul Barton, freelance journalist, whips up gourmet meals; B. J. Vinson, formerMarineand ex-cop turned confidential investigator, burns toast.

We planned to stay home tonight and watch an episode of a new gumshoe program on the tube called The Glades. Matt Passmore, the guy who played the detective, was a way-cool customer who Paul claimed should be my role model. I’d no sooner set the dishes to heating than a rumble on the street caught my attention. A moment later the doorbell rang.


Exclusive excerpt
Setting the scene Don Travis’s new release Abaddon’s Locusts is the fifth book in his BJ Vinson Mystery Series and follows the ordeal of Jazz Penrod, a mixed blood Navajo kid snared by sex traffickers. In the following excerpt, BJ and his significant other, Paul Barton, are attempting to help Henry Secatero, Jazz’s half-brother, make contact with an apparent contact with the ring.

That evening, Paul and Henry moped around our den at home while I tried to convince them any sex trafficker worth the name would be cautious about responding to an unsolicited Email asking about a guy he’d just kidnapped. But I had faith my partner’s sexy picture would be something Juan couldn’t resist. Henry struck out in his search for Jazz’s Jeep, but I hadn’t expected positive results. That was just to keep him busy.

Later that night while we were all staring at an episode of Breaking Bad without hearing or seeing much of it, Paul’s laptop beeped, signaling an Email. As he led an active social media life, that wasn’t meaningful—he’d received a dozen messages that day, none of them from Juan. This time, it was. Henry and I hovered over Paul’s shoulder as he opened the message.

Hey, man. How come you looking for Jazz? Ain’t seen him. But you a hunky-looking dude. Don’t need nobody else. You and me can get it smoking all by ourselves. Tell me more. Hell, show me more.

Juanito.

After settling down from the excitement of a contact, I analyzed the message. Despite the street grammar, I had the feeling this Juan was reasonably well educated. All by ourselves, was a giveaway for me. And while the Email inferred he knew Jazz, this Juanito denied seeing the missing man. Did it mean anything that he failed to send a photo of himself in return? Probably not. Paul’s original message acknowledged seeing a picture of him on Jazz’s machine.

“Come on, man. What we waiting on? Send a message back and tell him let’s get it on.” Henry was impatient for action.

I shook my head. “No. That’s pushing it. But we need something to speed up the process without spooking the guy. Paul, how far are you willing to go on this thing?” Bad question. Paul was always willing to help a lame dog.

“Whatever it takes. Jazz is one of the good ones. And he needs help.”

“Let me call Gene and see if he can cover what I have in mind. I’ll be back in a minute.

I left the two of them in the den and reached Gene at home. After a long conversation, I returned to Paul and Gene.

“Okay, I want you to send a message along the lines of what I’ve written on this page. But put it in your own words.”

Paul studied the paper I’d handed him for a minute, and then typed out his message on the laptop, pausing before hitting the send button so Henry and I could review it.
Juanito, Lucky you caught me at home. I usually go to the C&W for a little line dancing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but got lazy tonight. Probably make it tomorrow. Have a phony card that lets me slide in. Maybe I’ll see you there sometime, but in the meantime, here’s a selfie that shows a little more skin. Expect the same in return, okay? Keep in touch. And if you hear from Jazz, tell him I’m trying to get in touch with him. Going to Farmington at the end of the week, and would like to see him. He’s pretty cool in addition to being prime beef.
Paul

The selfie he referred to was a shirtless shot he took of himself a few minutes earlier. The reference to the C&W, a big nightclub out on East Central that attracts cowboys and wannabees, would allow Juan or one of his associates to see the prospect in the flesh. The bit about a phony card to get in the bar hinted at an underage minnow. Gene was confident he could provide protection in such a public venue. Even so, I hesitated before telling him to send the message. This was the man I loved above all others offering himself as bait to human traffickers… sex traffickers.

Author Bio

Don Travis is an Okie turned New Mexican. Each of his B. J. Vinson mystery novels features some region of his beautiful adopted state as prominently as it does his protagonist, a gay former Marine, ex-cop turned confidential investigator. Don never made it to the Marines (three years in the Army instead) and certainly didn’t join the Albuquerque Police Department.

He thought he was a paint artist for a while but ditched that for writing a few years back. A loner, he fulfills his social needs by attending SouthWest Writers meetings and teaching a free weekly writing class called Wordwrights at the North Domingo Multigenerational Center, an Albuquerque community center.

Author Website: http://www.dontravis.com
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/dontravis3

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Thanks Don Travis and OWI for bring RATR’s first 2019 blog tour. Congratulations on the book!

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Tucker McCallahan new release The Boys of Summer—Links, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Hello readers! Romance Cross the Rainbow is happy to host Tucker McCallahan today, who’s touring the virtual world with her new release, The Boys of Summer.

Lead singer Ash Redvers needs a drummer. When Dustin Davis shows up, ready, willing, and able to play – not to mention gorgeous – Ash thinks it’s going to be the best season yet. But Ash has never had a boyfriend, and Dust isn’t willing to be a quick hook-up. As the summer heats up, they’ll have to decide whether all they can make together is music, or if there’s something more for them after the Boys of Summer are gone.

Buy links:
Amazon
Smashwords

Hi! My name is Tucker McCallahan, and I’m the author of The Boys of Summer, the first book in the Dust & Ash Saga. I’m so grateful to Lou Sylvre for hosting me today! (From Lou: You’re welcome, Tucker! My pleasure.)

One of the reasons I ended up choosing to self-publish the saga was because it’s a little unconventional. The novels follow an ensemble cast (a rock band – The Boys of Summer) over the course of the summer of 2011, and every single aspect of the sexual spectrum ends up represented: straight, bisexual, pansexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, polyamory, monogamy, monandry… You name it, if it exists, there’s a character repping it in the Dust & Ash Saga.

I feel like that representation is very important. My sole exposure to LGBTQ+ anything while I was growing up was Clive Barker (and yes, I also write erotic gay horror – mostly because of that). I didn’t stumble onto LGBTQ+ fiction until I was in college, and then suddenly it was like the sun came out, the birds sang, and I knew I wasn’t alone. But in reading those early tales, it seemed like the LGBTQ+ world was somehow separate from the reality of my daily life. Like the things those novels encompassed – while being titillating and wonderful – also existed in their own little world, separate from work, school, and most of all, my family.

In The Boys of Summer, I explored the idea that the LGBTQ+ community didn’t have to ever be separate from any other community; that we could all live, work, and love side by side. I wrote it to be realistic, and chose to tackle some of the trope events of LGBTQ+ life: coming out, having a first relationship, and how friendship effects love.

From The Boys of Summer:

Two hours later Jared was pulling his shirt back on when he heard footfalls on the gravel. He turned to see Ash, wide-awake and his usual charming self, striding toward him.

“Hey, man, place looks good.”

“Thanks. You meet the new drummer?”

“Not yet. I saw you guys moving his massive drum kit and beat feet back to bed.”

Jared’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. He crumpled the empty cigarette pack in his hand and threw it at Ash’s head. He missed by a mile.

Ash grinned at him. “What? No way was I moving all that shit in the hot sun. I needed my beauty sleep.”

“Lazy ass.”

“So?”

“So what?”

“Impression?”

“His name is Dustin. He has more bathroom junk than you do.”

Ash stared at Jared for a minute, slightly nonplussed. “Uh, okay.”

“I put him in Arden’s room, but there’s no bed in there except that mattress from—”

“Ugh, that’s nasty.” Ash made a face. “Okay. As soon as he’s done, uh, doing whatever it is he’s in there doing, we’ll go buy a new bed.”

“Cool. He seems like a nice guy. Kinda quiet.”

“He looked like a Marilyn Manson reject, but honestly, as long as he can play the drums, I don’t really care.”

“Well, hopefully I’ll improve your opinion of me over the course of the summer.”

The voice was deep and sultry. Ash instantly thought of Jim Morrison from the Doors growling “Break On Through” or crooning “Love Her Madly.” Ash hoped he wasn’t blushing as he turned around, but when he saw the vision of total fucking hotness on his front porch, he gave up. Ash’s face went as red as a chili pepper.

Dustin was a towhead, that uncanny, natural white-blond that some males were blessed with at birth and never escape with age. Even Dustin’s eyebrows and eyelashes were white, and of course, the very first thing that went through Ash’s filthy mind was that Dustin’s pubic hair would be that same wonderful white-blond too. That thought, and the accompanying mental image, gave Ash a raging hard-on. Fuck.

Aside from the gorgeous color, Dustin’s hair was cut in a skater’s asymmetrical shag, longer on top than it was in the back, and he used some kind of styling gunk to stand it up into an artful pile of spikes. His eyes were toffee brown and positively danced with mischief as he stood on the porch in tight, skinny jeans, an Affliction hoodie, and Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Yup. Ash was hard as granite.

“Well, goddamn!” Jared said with feeling. “Where’s the little punk I helped with the drums a few hours ago?”

Dustin laughed and jumped off the porch. He landed in a graceful crouch, standing to stretch like a cat, which made his clothing ride up and showed off a sweet little six-pack, complete with a pierced navel.

Oh motherfucking hell. Ash was going to have to go inside and adjust. He contemplated the physical tightness of Dustin’s jeans and cocked his head, trying to decide if the hard-bodied little drummer wore boxers, briefs, or—groan—nothing at all.

“I washed him off. You’re stuck with me.”

Ash stared, filled with simple but intense desire. Everything about Dustin turned Ash on fiercely, right down to the multiple piercings in Dustin’s ears.
Jared laughed and looked sideways at Ash, who was unusually quiet. “Uh, Dustin, this is Ash, our singer. Ash, Dustin.”

Dustin’s gaze devoured Ash from the top down. The singer and leader of the Boys of Summer had skin the color of teak, a tawny dark brown that gleamed in the golden sunshine. Dustin had to put effort into not straight-up ogling the guy, because Ash looked like a hero from some romance cover, complete with long, windswept black hair, fiery dark eyes, and oh-so-kissable lips. “You look like a lead singer. Tall, gorgeous, pretty eyes…. Can you actually sing too?”

Ash’s mouth went bone-dry and his heart pounded like a bongo. Had he heard that right? Did Dustin just call him gorgeous? Ash mumbled something unintelligible.

Jared stared at him. “Ground control to Ash, you okay over there?”

Ash looked at Jared, slightly panicked. He could hardly admit to macking on their new drummer in front of the guy. Plus, there was the whole bit about being told he was gorgeous by somebody he wanted to knock down and fuck senseless on the front porch. What was he supposed to say? Tell Jared he was fine except for the massive erection that was currently preventing any blood from getting to his brain and causing a huge case of stupid? Oh yeah, that would go over great.

Ash managed a vague sort of nod and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He tried to keep his eyes glued to the ground, but it didn’t work. They kept flipping up to gaze at their new drummer. Ash jerked his head toward his SUV. “Guess I’ll drive,” he mumbled.

They were all headed in that direction when Jared’s cell phone rang. Ash’s Sketchers crunching on the gravel didn’t quite mask his growl as he glared at Jared’s retreating back and the phone plastered to his ear.

“Hey, I can sleep on the floor, if getting a bed is a problem.” Dustin’s concern was audible in his voice. “Or if the money’s the issue, a futon would be—”
Ash’s beleaguered brain finally clicked on and he turned his attention back to Dustin. “No. No problem. Sorry, man. I just got done with a killer semester. If I space out, or just kind of stare off or something, smack me. It’s totally posttraumatic stress.”

“If you say so.”

Ash furrowed his brows as he glared at Jared, still talking on his phone. Damn it, Ash needed a wingman here. He hooked his thumbs in his back pockets and cocked his head, pivoting on his heel before dancing from foot to foot as if music played somewhere. Dustin smiled, watching him. Ash’s hair swung around his shoulders as he came to a stop, facing Dustin once again as Jared finally came toward them with an apologetic look on his face.

“Sorry, guys, I gotta bail on the bed trip. I have to go see a… a friend.”

“Dealing during daylight hours?” Ash quipped. “Damn.”

Jared made a face, his voice taking on a very serious tone. “I suggest you tell Dustin that you’re merely attempting to be amusing, because everybody in our band knows that I have no sense of humor whatsoever about being referred to as something so onerous as a purveyor of narcotics.”

Ash abruptly stopped dancing about, straightened up, and nodded. “Right dude, sorry. So… you gotta go?”

“Yeah. That was Tracy.”

“Oh,” Ash said, surprised. “I didn’t know you guys were talking again.”

“On and off.”

“I didn’t know she’d finally gotten a divorce.”

“She hasn’t.”

Ash cringed. “Jared, man….”

“Stay out of it, Ash.”

“Yeah, okay. Just… be careful.”

“Have fun buying junior there a bed. Don’t embarrass him too badly.”

“No worries.”

Jared jogged off to his ancient Bug, leaving Ash and Dust alone.

As they drove out toward the shopping mall on the edge of the county line, a comfortable silence filled the SUV. They used the time to size each other up, taking the first leg of the journey for some thorough studying. Dustin decided Ash was simply the best-looking man he’d ever laid eyes on. From his long black hair with its natural red highlights, to his rangy hard body that seemed full of childish, happy energy, the lead singer of the Boys of Summer was completely gorgeous. And firmly in his closet, Dustin was sure, which was a problem.

Ash, on the other hand, decided he was getting laid tonight. He was going to take a man home, alone, for the very first time. No girls allowed this time. He didn’t want anything distracting him from the unbelievable bounty that was Dustin the drummer. Ash had Plans (with a capital P) for this boy, and the more he thought about it, the more excited he got. Why the hell hadn’t he ever done something like this before?

“So… thought about what kind of bed you want?” Ash asked.

Dustin cocked his head and frowned. “The kind you sleep on?”

“Smartass. I meant, like, a queen, a king, a firm mattress, a soft mattress? You ever try one of those Tempur-Pedic beds?”

Dustin stared at him with his mouth hanging open. It was kind of cute. Ash wanted to lean over and suck on Dustin’s lower lip, which probably meant he was going to have a car accident if he didn’t stop thinking with his dick and pay attention to the road.

“What are you, like, the Jacques Cousteau of beds?”

“We spend a third of our lives asleep, Dust. It okay if I call you Dust?”

“Sure, I don’t care,” Dustin said, shrugging. Ash beamed at him.

“I happen to like sleeping, so I have a thing for comfortable beds.”

“Okay.” Dustin slowly nodded. “What kind of bed do you have?”

“At the farmhouse?”

“Yeah.”

“I have a king-sized double pillow-top that I roll a two-inch layer of memory foam over. It’s not ideal, but it does the job for the summer.”

“What’s ideal?” Now Dustin was interested, because thinking about how serious Ash was about his bed was kind of hot.

“The house I live in up in Pittsburgh? I have a California King up there, one of those Sleep Number jobs with separate adjustment areas on each side. It’s on a custom-built spring platform, and it’s fucking amazing. I sleep like a baby every night, even if I’m not wrapped in flesh.”

“Excuse me?” Dustin choked.

“Yeah, uh, I don’t like to sleep alone. It’s kind of a fetish. You’d have found out anyway, living with me. It’s not so much a sex thing as a skin thing. I just sleep better if I’ve got skin on either side of me.”

Dustin stared at him and decided to jump in with both feet and see where he landed. “Well hell, Ash. Why are we wasting money on a bed? Why don’t I just sleep in your room?”

Ash’s heart pounded, and he chose his speech carefully. “Uh, as much as I… appreciate… your offer, you’ll find out pretty quick that our band is really popular. Most of the guys pick up bed-warmers, whether they have sex or not.” At the look on Dustin’s face, Ash’s words spilled out. “I’m not making any assumptions, Dust. What you do is your business. I’m just saying, I don’t doubt you’ll have plenty of offers for—”

But Dustin interrupted him with the one thing Ash totally didn’t expect to hear. At least, not that way.

“I’m gay, Ash. I really don’t think I’m gonna be picking up anybody at a wedding and bringing them home for sex.”

Ash swung the SUV into the furniture outlet and shut the engine off. He pulled the keys from the ignition and turned to look at Dustin, who sat quietly, staring at him, obviously waiting for Ash’s reaction. “Just so you know, I haven’t had any problems picking guys up at weddings for sex. Hell, I ended up with the groom once.” Ash’s face flushed as Dustin’s eyebrows flew up in surprise. “And no, I’m not telling that story. Falling Banks may be a small town, but they aren’t stuck in the dark ages. There are gay couples. There’s even a gay bar.”

“So you expect me to discover the pleasures of hooking up with small-town gay guys?” Dustin’s voice had a hard, sarcastic edge Ash really didn’t like.

“That’s not what I said.” Ash looked decidedly uncomfortable. “I’m just saying, if you’re, uh, out, then you should have your own space.”

Dustin sat back, a contemplative look on his face as he eyed Ash. “I take it, despite your hookups and the fact that you ooze metrosexual all over the place, you’re not out.”

Ash flushed an even deeper shade of scarlet, but decided it was probably better to have this conversation now. He stuck the keys back in the ignition, started the engine, and flipped the air-conditioning on so they’d have both some air—and some cover—then leaned back and turned to his sexy new bandmate.

“No, I’m not. Not down here. Up at school it’s another story, but here at home? No. Jared knows because he lives with me and has seen who I bring home, but since I know he’s a fucking drug dealer, we keep our mouths shut about each other’s business.”

“You mind telling me why? I mean, no offense, but I knew the minute I saw you.”

“Knew what?”

“You’re gay.”

“I’m not gay.”

“Yeah, okay, dude, whatever.” With a tired sigh, Dustin completely disengaged from the conversation and turned away from Ash to get out of the truck. God, this guy was so far in the closet, he couldn’t even see the door!

Ash reached over and grabbed Dustin’s arm before he could open the door. Strange electricity arced between them, pulling a gasp from Ash and stiffening Dustin’s spine. Reacting on instinct, Ash yanked, and Dust bounced across the seat like he’d been shot from a cannon right into Ash’s lap. Dustin slapped one hand against Ash’s chest to stop the singer from hauling him any closer, and it only made things worse. Unbelievable heat arced up Dustin’s hand into his arm, drawing a hiss from between his clenched teeth. Ash couldn’t think; he hummed with need. He wrapped his fingers around Dustin’s upper arms. Dustin shoved both of his hands into Ash’s chest with a sexy little growl. Their eyes locked, and the wrestling went from a surprised struggle to something downright erotic.

“Thought you said you weren’t gay,” Dustin said, a little breathless.

“I’m not,” Ash growled, straining closer. “I’m bi.”

“Thought you said you weren’t out.” Dustin’s arms trembled and started to weaken. God, Ash smelled good, and he was so pretty….

“I’m not!” Four more inches. Just four more fucking inches, and Ash could devour that mouth.

“You kiss me in the front seat of your truck in broad daylight while they load that sofa, and you will be,” Dustin breathed.

Ash whipped his head around. Four men from the furniture store were loading a large sectional sofa into a 4×4 about twenty yards away. Ash immediately let go of Dustin, but couldn’t help raking his eyes over him again.

Dustin felt the heat of Ash’s gaze and knew he had scant seconds before Ash decided he didn’t care about having an audience. Dust had to stop this now; he just met this guy.

“Look, Ash, I don’t want there to be any problems between us, and I don’t want to cause any problems with the band.” Dustin scooted back over into the passenger seat. He tugged his hoodie down, and only then did Ash realize Dustin’s shirt had ridden up over his abs. Ash bit the inside of cheek to hold back the whimper.

“I’m not usually this—” Ash didn’t know how to say it. “Fuck.” He’d never wanted a guy like he wanted Dustin, but if he said that, it sounded stupid and purely physical—which, well, maybe it was. Damn.

Dustin watched the thoughts flicker across Ash’s face as clearly as if he’d sung them. Dustin had never met a man with a more expressive face. A bolt of lust stronger than anything Dustin had felt in a year struck and left him smoldering. Dustin’s chest seized with actual pain as he recognized the feeling and squashed it flat. He couldn’t afford to take any chances. He was in Falling Banks to play the drums, not find a boyfriend. He took a slow, deep breath to ease the ache in the center of his chest and gazed at Ash.

“Look, I felt it too, okay? There’s definitely some kind of crazy attraction between us, but I’m shambling here. I played an all-nighter last night, and we still need to buy a bed. Then, if you don’t mind, I need to get something to eat—something, you know, real. Not fast food. Energy drinks stop working after you’ve been using them for a few days, so—”

“Dude, when did you sleep last?”

Dustin rubbed his beautiful toffee-colored eyes and offered Ash an exhausted smile. “What day is it?”

“I am so sorry.” Ash turned the SUV back off and pocketed his keys. “Let’s pick out a bed. I gotta drop your contract and tax forms off at my parents’ house, but we can grab food after that. I promise not to make a run on your virtue until you can appreciate it.” Ash’s wink was downright lewd.

Dustin took a deep breath and climbed out of the SUV. He followed the tall, sexy singer into the large furniture depot and tried to focus on the rectangles made for sleeping.


I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. The Boys of Summer is the first book in the Dust & Ash Saga and is available now on Amazon and Smashwords. The second book is scheduled to come out in the spring; there are six books in all.

To celebrate the first release in the saga, I’m sponsoring a giveaway! There are three ways to enter: like my author page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or – if you’re already following me on FB and Twitter – leave me a comment about your favorite music to listen to at a wedding reception. I’ll be giving away three gift cards, and the winners will get to choose what they’d like to receive! Winners will be announced on my blog on September 30th.

Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ffcd9d1/?

Once again, I’d like to thank Lou for hosting me and the Boys today. Enjoy the end of summer!
Thanks for being here, Tucker. Be sure to visit again!

About the author


Tucker McCallahan has been lots of places, seen lots of things, and is still learning new stuff on the regular. Multi-published, bisexual, polyamorous, and slave to a big black cat named Emperor Inka, Tucker is a long-time member of the LGBT community and a proud educator/activist.

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Filed under Book tour, just a category, LGBTQ+ fiction, New Release

Eric Allan Westfall’s Of Princes False and True—exclusive interview and a giveaway, proceeds to charity!

Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to welcome Eric Allan Westfall today, touring with his new release, Of Princes False and True. Read on for buy links, an excerpt, and exclusive interview, and a giveaway.

Of Princes False and True

Eric Alan Westfall has a new MM Historical Fantasy book out:

A tennis match? Starting a war between the Duchy of Avann and the Kingdom of the Westlands?

Only in a fairy tale.

When Prince Henry hurts a young ball boy who told him Danilo’s ball was inside the line, Danilo’s response is automatic. Punch the prince’s face, pick him up left-handed, and break the royal jaw. Unfortunately, there’s another “automatic” at work: a death sentence for whoever strikes royalty.

King Hiram can’t—won’t—change the rule of law to rule of royal whim. But he grants the Heir of Avann fifteen days to find words that will allow Danilo to live.

In those fifteen days: Magick. The gods, goddesses and gender-fluid deities on Deity Lane. Kilvar, the assassin. A purse which opens in a bank vault. A mysterious old man. The Lady of All. The Magickal Hand writing, rewriting. A fairy tale within a fairy tale. A huge horse called Brute. And at the end…perhaps the right words and a most unexpected love. Plus a deity-supplied dinner with just the right amount of garlic.

All royalties will go to a local LGBT organization.

Amazon | Indigo | Angus & Robertson | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink |Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Eric is giving away two backlist eBook titles to one lucky winner with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4724/?


Excerpt

From Chapter Three:

The Small Throne Room
The King of Westland’s Castle
Late Morning, the Day The Story Starts

“Sit,” King Hiram commanded. The young man, still head-bowed, didn’t move. The guards squeezed the prisoner’s biceps, half-marching, half-dragging to the chair at the opposite end of the table from the king. With four guard hands occupied by flesh or chains, the difficulty in moving the chair was obvious. The wizard’s spell removed the chains; they reappeared with a clunk!on the floor beside the table.

The guard on the young man’s left pressed a dagger-point against his throat. The other guard released him, stepped behind the chair and pulled it enough away for the young man to be maneuvered in front of it. Rough hands on shoulders forced him down. It was, of course, only happenstance the knifepoint nicked the neck, a drop of blood appearing when the blade was removed.

The recent command not to hurt the prisoner apparently didn’t apply to chairs in which the prisoner was sitting. The force used to propel it toward the table would have crushed the young man’s fingers if he’d rested them on the arms when he sat. Fortunately, his hands were in his lap. The young man’s head remained down as he was in effect caged by the chair and table.

He raised his head, looking straight ahead, but Hiram and his advisors could see he wasn’t seeing anything then present in the room.

Beneath the dirt, bruises, scrapes and crusted blood he was handsome. Sharp cheekbones, aquiline nose, thin lips, a faint cleft in his chin. Brilliant green eyes, flecked with gold. Unusual long hair tumbling near his shoulders, red-brown strands mixed with varying shades of gold. There was something almost familiar… The king chased a wisp of memory, but lost it.

The young man tilted his chin up enough to look at the king, apparently believing if cats could, so could he. There was no cringing in those eyes, no shame, no embarrassment. No anger or resentment. Perhaps, though, a tiny glimmer of…interest. As if this was some grand adventure and he needed to absorb everything happening to and around him for later remembrances.

Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be remembering anything again, in the not too distant future. A man doesn’t when his head has been severed from his neck, or he’s been hanged until a neck-snap or slow strangulation ends him. Hiram realized he didn’t remember what death the law required. He would, he knew, have to check.

In silence, the young man lifted his hands, and pushed the long, thick hair behind his ears, each movement telling a story of strain and pain. As did his face. One eye was swollen almost shut; a cut on his forehead still oozed blood; there was dirt on the bruising on cheeks and jaw; one lip was split.

“Captain Nichols!”

“Sire.”

“Did he resist arrest?”

“No, Your Majesty.”

“Did the prince do this?” The king refused to let himself display the tiniest glimmer of hope the answer was “yes.” The hope Henry fought back.

“Ah…no, Sire.”

“Did he attempt to flee and have to be captured?”

“He is as the Guards found him on their arrival. I am—”

The young man interrupted with a laugh—a bright, beautiful baritone, filling the room with a joy entirely out of place in the circumstances.

The king’s low and angry voice in turn smashed the laughter. “You think all this is a joke?”

The young man blinked. “No, Your Majesty. I just thought it was funny someone thought I might run away. Only a coward runs, when he knows he’s done no wrong. I did what was right.”

“You struck my son.”

The young man shrugged. “I’ll strike any bully beating a child.”

Someone in the room gasped. The king merely thanked the Thirty-Nine it wasn’t him and pretended he hadn’t heard.

But as Hiram spoke he realized he was defending his son because of a father’s obligation, not from a belief in his innocence. “Prince Henry is my heir. He would never—”

“He did.” Kings do not flabbergast easily. Hiram was rendered so. Rogermight interrupt him in the privacy of the royal chambers, but elsewhere? No one dared. Until the young man.

Who had no idea what he was facing; had no idea of the inevitable outcome of his admission of guilt. Hiram did not need to hear more. The law was clear. The punishment was clear.

Yet if he was compelled to do as the law demanded, he would at least learn the truth first.

“Do you have any witnesses?”

The young man’s response was a scoffing, “Of course. Anyone there will tell you…” His voice faded away. “But they won’t, will they? He’s a prince, I’m a foreigner, and they’ll only tell you what a kingly father wants to hear: his son is as pure and innocent as the drifting…slush would be, in a kingdom where snow is possible.”

The chin-tilt this time was defiant. “So. What’s the penalty in this kingdom for saving a child from a beating which might have left him crippled?”

“Death.”

The young man paled, but didn’t flinch, and when he moved his hands to the table, there was no trembling.

Nor was there any in his voice. It was calm, almost matter-of-fact, and he didn’t avert his eyes from the king’s. “Interesting. I thought to rescue a child and instead I start a war.”

Old Moldy heard a threat and started to bluster. Hiram heard a statement of fact, or what the young man believed was truth. He told Old Moldy “No!” and the Chancellor slumped back in his chair.

“A man admits to a crime in my kingdom, for which the law demands the severest penalty. Why should anyone go to war over just punishment?” Everyone heard the silent question, “Who are you your death would cause a war?”

The young man’s bow—so far as he could in his seating situation—was formal. An objective observer might have called it regal.

“Your Majesty, permit me to introduce myself. I am Danilo ys Daeaen ys Cirill. I am the only grandson of the Duke of Avann.” The young man shrugged. “They call me the Heir of Avann.”


OF PRINCES FALSE AND TRUE
BLOG TOUR INTERVIEW

Is there a character in your work you feel especially connected to? Why?

Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Me. And my partner of 30 years.

It was March of 1965. Although I’d known I was gay since I was roughly five, it took me until I was 21 to come out to my parents, and truly admit it to “the world.” I was in my senior year in college, in a town with not much by way of gay bars, so I headed to the “metropolis” with a date. Or meeting a date at the particular very popular bar. (Can’t quite remember because that fuzziness isn’t all that important.)

We met in…let’s say…a most unusual way.

I ditched my date—wasn’t that a queer thing to do?—to go to an after-hours party with him. I traveled back and forth a lot until graduation, and moved to that city in June of 1965 to be with him. The pejorative “instalove” is tossed around a lot these days, which is sad for you all. Love at first sight exists. Always has, always will, if you let it. It happened to me.

We were together until his unexpected passing in August of 1995.

The main characters in The Warlord and the Bard meet the same way we did, though in a much more royal and imperial way in that fantasy world. So, yeah. Special connection, indeed.

What is the hardest part of writing?

Writing.

Seriously.

I don’t have the drive that other writers do, the kind which keeps them writing every day besides having full-time responsibilities with family and day jobs. For the most part, over the years, I’ve had difficulty in starting up and keeping in a productive writing mode with any semblance of regularity.

Here’s a list of what’s in progress, from a page or two to sixty percent or more, from short story to novella to novel: Adam’s Other Rib, The Assassin’s Song, The Bartered Bridegroo, bloodLight, Christmas at the Baths, The Dragon Winked, Dragonne’s Lair, hrny 4 u, 3 Boars & a Wolf Walk Into a Bar, The Truth About Them Damned Goats, Little Red’s Riding a Hood, Hath Not a Demon, The Prince and The Redneck, Sranjir in an Odd Land, The Serpent Mark, Strathairn’s Warrior, Taren’s Tale, The Biter Bitten, and Without the Cask.

These are good ideas. Some of them are great ideas. (You may have noticed my opinions are not very humble.) And they ought to be finished.

Since I committed myself to finishing Of Princes, and no way out (a Regency set in Another England) by signing up for back-to-back blog tours, I’m hoping that will provide the impetus to keep going. So I can get at least 3 Boars and Damned Goats out in 2019…and maybe whittle down the rest of that list.

I can but hope.

Where do you look for inspiration for new stories?

Please, no! You saw the list above.

New ideas? I’m the guy who strings large cloves of garlic around the doors and windows of his house, and adds crosses, to keep the vampires out. New ideas are, I believe, just like vampires.

So to the greatest extent possible, I keep my authorial eyes closed, and have a finger in each authorial ear, all the while going “La, la, la, la, la! I can’t hear you” as loud as I can, whenever I’m in the vicinity of a new idea.

But the sneaky things…sneak in anyway.

I saw a gorgeous male dancer in tights and “tanktop,” stand on his right foot, and raise his left leg until it was vertical, nose pressed to knee, hands above to calf and ankle in an incredible display of flexibility. Which somehow became a serpent shifter in that position, and then other positions calling for serpentine flexibility. “The Biter Bitten” was born.

A while back I watched Adam’s Rib (Tracy/Hepburn) on TCM, and the next day, there was Mike the Manly Muse tapping on my shoulder, then yanking me into the office and forcing me into the chair when I balked. “Shouldn’t there be a gay version of this?” he asked, turning on the computer and monitor without my agreeing, putting my hands on the keyboard. That’s how “Adam’s Other Rib” got started.

Bottom line: New ideas? Nope. Not for me. No way, nohow. La, la, la, la, la.

Uh…what was that you said, Mike?

What are you currently wearing?

Really? What an inappropriate, intrusive intrusion into my privacy. (That’s properly pronounced PRIV-ah-cee.) It’s a good thing this was the last question. Had it been the first I might have walked out of this interview with a display of some degree of dudgeon. I give very good dudgeon.

Author Bio

Eric is a Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “His first sea voyage was with Noah.” He started reading at five with one of the Andrew Lang books (he thinks it was The Blue Fairy Book) and has been a science fiction/fantasy addict ever since. Most of his writing is in those (MM) genres.

The exceptions are his Another England (alternate history) series: The Rake, The Rogue and the Roué(Regency novel), Mr. Felcher’s Grand Emporium, or, The Adventures of a Pair of Spares in the Fine Art of Gentlemanly Portraiture(Victorian), with no way out(Regency) coming out a month after Of Princes.

Two more fairy tales are in progress: 3 Boars & A Wolf Walk Into A Bar(Eric is sure you can figure this one out), and The Truth About Them Damn Goats(of the gruff variety).

Now all he has to do is find the time to write the incomplete stuff! (The real world can be a real pain!)

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Eric-Alan-Westfall-1045476662268838/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/eawestfall43


Thanks to Eric and OWI for letting Romance Across the Rainbow be part of the tour, and thanks all you readers for stopping by. Comments welcome.

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Filed under Book tour, Interviews, just a category, LGBTQ+ fiction, M/M romance, New Release

Summer Fair: New Anthology for Charity from Story Penners—giveaway and exclusive excerpt

Summer Fair Anthology

There’s a new queer romance anthology out that benefits RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) – Summer Fair.

Summer festivals bring the aroma of popcorn, the excitement of rides, and the promise of real-life enchantment. Seven authors bring you original love stories, each set at a different summer celebration. You’ll experience the thrill of the Chicago World’s fair through the eyes of a plucky girl reporter and the quiet desperation of a teen working a summer job at a traveling carnival. Get whisked away on romantic journeys around the world from a sweet Texas Dewberry Festival to a lantern-filled temple celebration to a surprisingly rowdy New England Founders Day. Whether it’s the magic of a Renaissance Fair, the excitement of a Theater Retreat, or the pulse of a Music Festival, you’re sure to get geared up for all things summer with this delightful new collection.

Note: Most stories are fantasy, but this anthology also includes historical, paranormal and contemporary works.

Including:

  • Riding the Wave by Annabeth Leong
  • Amaryllis and New Lace by Gregory L. Norris
  • Salty and Sweet by R.L. Merrill
  • Dewberry Kisses by CM Peters
  • All the World by Marie Piper
  • Carnie by Sienna Saint-Cyr
  • The Storyteller’s Side by Harley Easton
  • With Stars in His Eyes by Arden de Winter

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Universal Link | Goodreads | QueeRomance Ink


Giveaway

The authors are giving away a $75 Amazon gift card – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4723/?


Excerpt

Summer Fair meme

From “All the World” by Marie Piper

She decided to do something bold. “Come up in the wheel with me.”

“I’ve been up in the wheel,” but Cathleen didn’t say no. “You don’t have to buy me a ticket.”

“But I want to,” Anna said. “I want to go up there with you. The line is long. It may be the last thing I get to do today, and though I’m terrified I can’t pass up the chance to do something that is once-in-a-lifetime.”

“No, I imagine you can’t.” Wiping her face, Cathleen finished her hot dog. Anna did the same, and they returned their glasses to the Pabst booth and then got into the long line for the wheel. Children bounced in line, excited to go up but bored with waiting. Men smoked and sent the wafts of smoke across all the people in line, and more than one person looked nervous about going into the sky in the steel contraption.

Anna and Cathleen bought tickets and, by virtue of space, were shoved together as they shuffled slowly to the front.

“Mercy, but it’s high.” Anna felt as if she might be sick.

“You don’t have to do it, you know.”

“But I’ve already bought a ticket.”

“Someone’d pay you for it.”

“But I’ve come all this way and I’m here standing underneath it. Besides, what’ll I do if I don’t—go look at the Fisheries?”

She felt a warm hand take hers and nearly fainted. Cathleen had taken her hand. “Don’t be afraid. It’s fun. It really is.”

“Thank you.”

“And if it collapses and we die, at least we’ll die together.”

Anna groaned but did not take her hand away. Hand in hand, they reached the front of the line and waited with a group of thirty others for the next car to come down and to board. Cathleen pulled them to a windowed corner where they could both press against the glass.

Still, they held hands.

And when the car started to move, Anna squeezed hard from nerves without thinking. Cathleen ducked her head in and put her lips to Anna’s. It was brief, just a momentary touch, but then she whispered into Anna’s ear. “Don’t be afraid.”

Anna wasn’t. Cathleen’s lips against hers had taken away all the fear she had felt about the Ferris Wheel, and then some. With Cathleen beside her, their fingers entwined, she rode the car that rose into the air and beheld the entire fair in all directions before her. She saw the Coliseum of the Wild West show, and the balloon in the sky, and all the trains, and all the people, and all the way back to the basin where she’d first entered the fair off the Lake. The sun was just beginning to go down in the sky. Soon, it would be evening, and Anna would need to get on her way—but with the incredible views and the hand of the lovely girl in hers, and Anna’s heart swelled about to bursting. She could have wept at it all, at this perfect day.

The car started to descend.

“We get one more loop,” Cathleen said.

“I wish it was a hundred,” Anna replied, turning to her friend. “I wish we could stay here forever.” It was an honest confession.

Cathleen smiled, but sadly. With the displays below, Anna felt as if she could see all the world ahead of her. And all the world seemed so small and unimportant.


About the Authors

The brain child of Chicago romance author Marie Piper, the StoryPenners is a collection of fiction and romance authors dedicated to producing independent anthologies to support charitable causes. The StoryPenners has members from the Midwest, the West Coast, New England, Canada, England, and Australia.

Original Members: Marie Piper, Harley Easton, CM Peters, S.B. Roark, and Sienna Saint-Cyr

Contributing StoryPenners: Randi Perrin, Annabeth Leong, Gregory L. Norris, R.L. Merrill, Katey Tattrie, R. Diamond, Arden de Winter

Previous Anthologies:

Melt

Haunt

Author Websites:

http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/

https://www.harleyeaston.com/

http://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

http://www.mariepiper.com/contact/

https://siennasaintcyr.wordpress.com/

http://gregorylnorris.blogspot.com/

Other Worlds Ink logo

Inspiration for Carnie

When I was younger, I’d kind of ‘shut off’ emotionally. Not much affected me by my teen years. I was depressed, into cutting myself (mostly because I wanted to feel something and that was something I could feel), and I ended up working for the local fair. While the fair was run by local folks mostly, the rides were brought in by another party. The folks that ran the rides referred to themselves as Carnies.

Many aspects of my story are real and likely have that feel for that reason. I’ve changed names and scenarios, but there really was a very sweet man running the Tilt-O-Whirl and my friend and I did indeed ask him to ride it with us. We were the first to ever ask him and it really did bring him to tears. I’ve wondered how he’s doing over the years but each year brought a new carnival and different crew, so I never found out. I was sad when I realized he was never coming back.

It’s true that the rules are different when you work for a carnival. I was only fifteen and constantly being hit on by older men. They’d slam cups onto the counter and say, “Do me,” and most of them were complete jerks. And worse, tolerated jerks. But not all were like that. The man that ran the Tilt-O-Whirl was good to me. He watched out for me (and my friend). I didn’t have visible cutting scars then because I mostly kept that to areas people wouldn’t see, but I suspect he saw pain in me, just as I have my characters experience in the story. I saw his pain to.

That’s why I wrote this story the way I did. He’d once told me that no woman could ever love him. I wanted to give him a better story than that. This stranger that I only knew as Carnie Nine was my inspiration for this story. I hope he’s still around, that he’s found someone to love him, and that he one day reads this story and remembers the teen girls that asked him to ride the Tilt-O-Whirl with him.

Bio:

Sienna Saint-Cyr’s erotic fiction has appeared in the Love Slave books and Sexual Expression series; contemporary erotica in Silence is Golden and Goodbye Moderation: Lust, and romance in Melt, Haunt, and Summer Fair. She also writes nonfiction and flash fiction for several websites. Sienna owns and edits for SinCyr Publishing, an erotica company with a focus
on shifting rape culture one sexy story at a time. She also runs a nonprofit writing workshop and writes dark SF and literary fiction under her legal name.

Along with writing, Sienna speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on such sex-positive topics as a healthy body image, using sexuality to promote healing, enthusiastic consent, LGBTQIA, CPTSD, and navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships.

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Cleaning House book tour—Jeanne G’Fellers on writing queer Appalachia fantasy, and a Giveaway

Romance Across the Rainbow is pleased to welcome author Jeanne G’Fellers, who is touring with a new queer paranormal fantasy.

COVER - Cleaning House

Jeanne G’Fellers has a new trans-non binary fantasy book out:

Centenary Rhodes is an old soul with a well-traveled name, but she doesn’t know this yet.

Growing up in southern Appalachia wasn’t easy, so Cent left home as soon as she could, but the post-collegiate happiness she’d expected has never occurred. She can’t find a decent date, much less find that special someone and, after losing her job in a corporate downsize, she’s struggling to meet her most basic needs. Her car has been repossessed, her bills are piling up, and her questionable North Chicago neighborhood is dangerous to navigate.

Returning home to Hare Creek, Tennessee, never crosses Cent’s mind until her Great Aunt Tess contacts her with an offer she can’t refuse. The family’s southern Appalachian homestead must be sold, and Aunt Tess needs someone to clean it up. Cent will have access to Aunt Tess’ garden and truck and can live on the homestead rent-free for as long as it takes. A part-time job is waiting for her as well.

It’s a chance to solve some of Cent’s financial woes, but will her return be enough when evil sets its sights on Embreeville Mountain and the homestead?

Cleaning House is a carefully woven Appalachian tapestry of granny magic, haints, elementals, and the fantastic diversity of the human condition – served with a delicious side of fries and a generous quart of peach moonshine.

Mountain Gap Books | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Smashwords | Goodreads


Giveaway

Jeanne is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. For a chance to win, enter using Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4716/?


Excerpt

BANNER-Facebook - Cleaning House

Fall, 1952

“Put it out and give me the rest of the pack.”

“Of all the— here!” Cent dropped her pack of Lucky Strikes onto the floor and kicked them under the outhouse door to Pyre. They’re almost gone anyway.It was the middle of the night, and she’d gone to the outhouse to sneak a smoke. One, that was all, and the rush felt so good. It was the best she’d felt in days, and—

“Drop that lit cigarette down the hole. Stowne’s on their way.”

“Dangit.” Cent took a long drag, exhaling as she rose. She couldn’t hide that she’d been smoking again, and—

“Centenary, please come out.” Stowne knocked on the outhouse door.

“I’m busy.”

“We must discuss this.”

“I was just going,” Pyre’s light drifted away.

Coward. Cent tied her robe and stepped out the door. Fall had rolled in early and wet, setting her up for a rough bout of bronchitis that wouldn’t go away. “Fancy meeting you here at two in the morning.” She cleared her throat to stifle its perpetual tickle.

“Centenary.” Stowne folded their arms across their chest. “You should not be out here this time of night, especially in these cooler temperatures.” Stowne held out the quilt from their bed. “You should be inside where it is warm and dry.”

“I had to pee. It’s something Humans need to do regular.”

“There is a night bucket beneath our bed for you to use when the weather is bad.” Stowne caught her before she moved away, wrapping her in the blanket. “You gave Pyre the cigarettes, but where are the matches?”

“You already took my lighter.”

“And I am removing every pack of matches from the homestead.”

“But what if we need to light a new fire?”

“Centenary!” Stowne pointed to where Pyre hovered on the porch. “That is not a legitimate argument.” They lifted her into their arms.

“Put me down.”

“Please see reason.” They turned toward the house.

“Put. Me. Down!” Cent all but fell from Stowne’s arms before they turned her straight. “You and me, we gotta talk about this.”

“About what?” Stowne towered over her. “Your refusal to care for yourself?”

“About the elephant in the dang room!”

“El-e-phant?” Water ran off Stowne’s head as they stared at her. “Those large gray mammals you told me about? There is one in the house? Brownie or Birdie surely would have sounded the alarm if—”

“No, honey. I…” Cent shivered as the rain began falling harder. “Let’s go inside and talk.”

“That is what I wanted when we began this elephant-filled argument.” Stowne walked beside her up the hill, helping her at the slick spots until she was inside the door. “There. Safe and warm.” Stowne unwrapped her blanket and pulled off her rain boots. “Sit. I will stoke the fire and heat water for your tea.”

“Chamomile, please.” Nothing else agreed with her stomach anymore. “And do it over the fire so I can watch. Pretty please?”

“Such simple things bring you pleasure.” Stowne set her favorite earthenware mug on the table beside her chair and another blanket across her lap.

“Tell me a story from our pastlives together.” She watched as Stowne talked and worked, admiring the ever-changing lines of their body. Larger or smaller depending on what was needed, delicate as they poured water over the tea strainer but strong in the way they held the steaming cast-iron kettle without using a potholder.

“Cream and sugar?” Stowne peered up at her.

“Sugar, yes. But cream?” Cent blanched. “But I used to like it, didn’t I?”

“Until this life, yes. And you like it in your coffee now, along with lots of sugar.” Stowne slipped into the kitchen to get the sugar bowl and a spoon from the table, dropping three heaping teaspoons into Cent’s mug and stirring. “There. Now we discuss this elephant.”

“Sit down first, honey. You’re pacing.”

“I cannot help it. I worry.” Stowne turned their rocker to face her. “Tell me why you do not care for yourself like you should.”

“It’s hit the point of why bother.” Cent pointed to the medication bottles beside her. “I take something to sleep. Something for pain. Something for my stomach. Something for— Smoking calms me, all right? It helps with the— I’m afraid.”

“What are you afraid of?” Stowne seemed genuinely puzzled.

“This ain’t about dyingif that’s what you’re thinking.” She pulled the blanket higher on her chest and reached for her tea, cursing softly when her hands shook too hard to lift it without spilling it. “I’m afraid of hurting more, of leaving you with horrid memories before I go. Lung cancer is an ugly death.”

“What about the radiation your doctor spoke about?”

“It’ll only delay the inevitable and make me nasty-sick until then.” Cent smiled when Stowne lifted the mug to her mouth. “Thank you.”

“That is why I am here. Never forget that.” Stowne knelt before her. “I will be here the entire time.”

“You’ve never seen me like this.”

“I have watched you die from battle wounds, from Small Pox, and countless other ways. None were attractive, but I have been there every time to walk you across the veil. This will be no different.”

“But I don’t want to leave you alone.” She reached out to stroke Stowne’s face.

“I will wait for your return, same as always.”

“But this land…”

“Yes, there is that.” Stowne kissed her palm. “It must be handed down correctly.”

“I know.” Cent took Stowne’s face into her hands, pulling them up to kiss them firmly on the mouth. “All right. I’ll think on it.”

“Thank you. Does this mean the elephant is gone?”

“Not gone, but it certainly shrank. Take me to bed, baby.”


Why Queer Appalachian Contemporary-Paranormal Fantasy?

Writing Fantasy is a hard turn when you consider that I’ve been a LGBTQIA+ Science Fiction author for over a decade. Sure, Fantasy has its place in my reading life… J. R. R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey and Stephen R. Donaldson are among the authors I grew up reading, but I’d never attempted to write inside the Fantasy genre until last year because my mind didn’t run that direction.

It does now.

What prompted the change? Experience, returning home, road signs, and being queer, though not necessarily in that order.
Experience – I’ve experienced paranormal events and seen things I probably shouldn’t have, among them an elemental like being crossing the road as I was driving home after teaching a night class. I’ve also heard fae speak to me, telling me not to pick flowers from the garden of a property we rented (the entire property was magical, and all our images of the house show what’s called spirit smoke no matter the time or day or level of sun). And I experienced an active haunting when we lived in West Virginia. He wasn’t an evil haint. In fact, he was mischievous in a flipping on the overhead light at three AM sort of way, until we accidentally ticked him off. Even then he wasn’t bad, but he was certainly insistent. Perhaps my nature-based spiritual path has led to these experiences. Maybe it helped me see when others couldn’t. Whatever the reason, they happened, and those around me shared the experiences. The sight (intuition, ESP… call it what you will) runs in my family, and I know I have a bit, as does my mother. We know people, generally family, have died before we otherwise hear about it. We’ve dreamed of things that have happened soon after. I can tell if a house is haunted by looking at interior pictures. I’ve been inside a home and known for certain that it didn’t like my presence, an experience so unsettling that I immediately left. It wasn’t someone there (a ghost) or other sort of spirit. It was the house.
A good smudging was in order that day.

Returning Home – I’m from the Appalachian foothills of Northeast Tennessee, and there’s some ancient magic here. You’ll find fossilized shells on the mountain tops, bibliomancy and cartomancy are still being practiced (as is snake-handling, but I’ll not go there), and granny magic is on the resurgence (though in a modern context). These mountains hold 400 million-year-old secrets. I’ve lived other places – Connecticut, The Texas Panhandle, Charlotte, and Chicago among them, but none of those felt like the Appalachians. This is home. I’m bound here by my history and my blood, and now I’m hearing stories from the mountains in the form of delightful characters that I simply must share.

Road signs – Seriously, a road sign prompted the start of the Appalachian Elementals series. When I first taught in rural West Virginia, I drove back-and-forth to my home in Tennessee on a weekly basis. Each trip, I passed a sign for Centenary Road. I thought it’d be a great character name, and it is. Centenary Rhodes (Cent) is the protagonist of the Appalachian Elementals series and one of my favorite character creations.
Writers find inspiration in the strangest places.

On Being Queer – I am. I always have been, but Appalachia was a place where the term still meant odd or strange when I was young. Words like gay and lesbian were spoken in hushed voices and accompanied by the word “them.” I didn’t want to be a “them.” Who would? So I wondered through life, depressed, discouraged, and making a lot of mistakes until I reached my thirties, returned to college, and woke up to who I am. There’s comfort in knowing your identity and place in the world. I’m a queer Appalachian, a pansexual, a bit genderqueer (though not enough to prompt me to change my pronouns of she/her), an author, and a differently-abled woman married to another queer woman – a retired USMC Gunny who now calls Northeast Tennessee home.

And there’s nothing wrong with any of that.


Author Bio

Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with her father and reading the books her librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s writing influences include Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.

Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennesee with her spouse, Anna, and their five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.

Author Website: http://jeannegfellersauthor.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://www.facebook.com/Jeannegfellersauthor/

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

Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/106949.Jeanne_G_Fellers

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jeanne-gfellers/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jeanne-GFellers/e/B01N0YWCT7/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Thanks, Jeanne G’Fellers and Other Worlds Ink for visiting RATR on your tour!

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