Tag Archives: fantasy/sci-fi

J. Scott Coatsworth’s Spells and Stardust tour—exclusive excerpt and giveaway!

Romance Across the Rainbow is proud and happy to host J. Scott Coatsworth today, joining him in celebrating the recent release of his short story collection, Spells and Stardust. Welcome, Scott!
Spells & Stardust

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi/fantasy anthology out: Spells & Stardust.

Spells & Stardust is Scott’s first anthology – eight sci fi and fantasy shorts that run the gamut from regeneration to redemption.

The Bear at the Bar: A gay fish out of water tale with a pinch of magic.

Tight: What happens when your lover disappears in midair?

Morgan: The year when everything changed.

Re-Life: What if you were reborn in a strange new future?

A New Year: They met every eleven years. And each time, Hank’s life changed.

Repetition: What if you wanted to go back in the closet?

Gargoyle: Sometimes you get what you deserve. Sometimes it happens on All Hallows Eve.

Avalon: A few bright moments in the sun, stolen from outside time.

Most of these stories have been previously published in various anthologies and journals. This is the first time they have all been collected in one place.

Get It On Amazon


Other Links
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes


Giveaway

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4740/?


Excerpt

From “A New Year”

The edge of the old cement pediment crumbled away beneath Hank’s feet into the river far below, glistening in the light of the almost-full moon. The bridge railing was cold at his back—he could feel it all the way through his jacket and shirt to his skin. He could see his breath glowing in the night air.

The nearly-frozen water rushed by in the river below, flowing under the bridge behind him and on toward the ocean far away in a steady flow, silver in the moonlight and heavily laden with winter rain. As soon as he gathered his courage, Hank would let go of his grip on the railing and fall into those icy waters, to disappear forever from the world of men.

It was New Year’s Day, 1986, an hour after midnight, and it was the end of things for Hank.

Or it should have been.

It was also the night he first met Dale.


And here is a unique excerpt from the same story — “A New Year”:

1997

Hank knocked back his second beer of the night, glancing around the club to see if anyone interesting had entered in the five minutes since he’d last looked. It was still packed, even though the New Year’s countdown had been almost an hour before.

1997 was officially here.

Another year, another chance to reflect on all he hadn’t done and all he hadn’t become. Still no boyfriend. Still working for a high-end retailer at the SF Centre for low-end wages. But thank God, still out of that small-town hell-hole where he’d grown up.

At twenty-eight, he was a gym-toned, perfected version of his former self. And he was still all alone.

A group of guys came in together, obviously drunk off their asses, and one of them gave him a once-over. Hank ignored him—he wanted something a little less… inebriated. And he could do better.

Hell, he’d done better last night, taking home twins—United Airlines pilots, no less—and they’d shared a memorable evening together. One he’d paid for in spades the next morning with the mother of all hangover headaches.

Someone slid up next to him at the bar.

Hank ignored him, nursing his beer, staring at the music videos blaring on the TV above the bar without really seeing them.

“Hank?”

“Yeah?” He didn’t give the man a second glance. Probably a trick he’d picked up here some other night.

All of his nights had taken on a depressing sameness. He’d found he could have almost anyone he wanted in this place—his farm-boy good looks and strict Golds Gym schedule saw to that. But he never seemed to really want anyone, anymore. Not really.

“You’ve come a long way since Haven Creek.”

That got his attention. He turned to face his admirer. He was gorgeous. Slender, dark hair, golden eyes, bit of an accent…

Recognition clicked. “Shit, Dale, is it really you?” Hank almost fell off the stool. “Well I’ll be damned. After all these years—I halfway thought I’d dreamed you up.”

“It’s really me.” Dale grinned. “Can we get out of here? I can hardly hear you over the music!”

“Sure.” Hank finished the beer in one long swallow and left it on the bar with a tip. “Come on. There’s a coffee shop down on the corner.”

Dale followed him out of the bar.

Hank didn’t miss the jealous looks the two of them got, leaving together. It did his soul good.

“God, you still look amazing.” They hit the sidewalk together.

Hank’s breath turned to fog in the cold winter air. Down the street, one of the trolley cars clanged by, running late for the holiday.

Dale laughed. “You look good too. But then, you looked pretty good to me before.”

Hank shook his head, laughing ruefully. “I don’t know about that—I was a little… rough around the edges back then.” He shoved his hands in his jean pockets. Damn, it’s cold out here. “Hey, what are you doing in San Francisco? Do you live in the City now?”

“No, I’m just here for the day. I was lucky to run into you like this.”

“I’m the lucky one.” He shot Dale a sly grin.

He wanted Dale, wanted him like he hadn’t wanted someone in a very long time.

Author Bio

Scott lives with his husband of twenty five years in a Sacramento suburb, in a cute little yellow house with a brick fireplace and two pink flamingoes out front.

He inhabits in the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into science fiction and fantasy by his mom at the tender age of nine, he quickly finished her entire library. But he soon began to wonder where all the queer people were.

After coming out at twenty three, he started writing the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Crown Books. If there weren’t many queer characters in his favorite genres, he would will them into existence, subverting them to his own ends. And if he was lucky enough, someone else would want to read them.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently than most – he makes connections between ideas that others don’t, and somehow does more in a day than most people manage in a week. Although born an introvert, he forced himself to reach outside himself, and learned to connect with others like him.

Scott’s stories subvert expectations that transform traditional science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something different and unexpected. He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark.

His romance and genre fiction writing brings a queer energy to his stories, filling them with love, beauty and power. He imagines how the world could be – in the process, he hopes to change the world, just a little.

Scott was recognized as one of the top new gay authors in the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and his debut novel “Skythane” received two awards and an honorable mention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOGO - Other Worlds Ink


Thank you Scott and Other Worlds Ink Tours for letting Romance Across the Rainbow be part of the tour for this exciting release!

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

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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Lou Hoffmann’s *Ciarrah’s Light*—Cover Reveal and Pre-order link!

Ciarrah's Light by Lou Hoffmann Cover by Catt Ford

Luccan, future Suth Chiell of the Ethran Sunlands, also known as Lucky, has just completed a harrowing quest, but his adventures and hardships are only beginning. There’s little time to rest before his mother’s ghostly specter attacks, drowning Lucky in horrible nightmares that drain his life and nearly kill him. Only through the power of his enchanted obsidian blade, Ciarrah, can Lucky claw his way out of the shadowy visions and back to daylight. But further horrors await him when he wakes up, and his country needs him—their Sun Child—more than ever.

Unstoppable wraiths—products of an advanced but dying alien world called Terrathia—are attacking, and swords and arrows cannot stop them. Fortunately Ciarrah’s magical light can, and with his dragon-kin uncle Han, his winged horse, a horde of shifters from Earth, and the wizard Thurlock at his back, Lucky faces the enemy, determined to put an end to his mother’s destructive evil once and for all. But will stopping her end the horrors facing his world?

Pre-order atHarmony Ink Press

About Lou Hoffmann
LLou Hoffmann, a mother and grandmother now, has carried on her love affair with books for more than half a century, and she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—partly because the list keeps growing. She reads factual things—books about physics and history and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. She loves all sorts of wonderful things: music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, flora and fauna, rivers and seas. Even good movies and popcorn! Those things help her breathe, and everyone she knows helps her write. (Special mention goes to (1) George the Lady Cat and (2) readers.) Proud to be a bisexual, biracial (European and Native American) woman, Lou considers every person a treasure not to be taken for granted. In her life, she’s seen the world’s willingness to embrace differences change, change back, and change again in dozens of ways, but she has great hope for the world the youth of today will create. She writes for readers who find themselves anywhere on the spectrums of age and gender, aiming to create characters that live not only in their stories, but always in your imagination and your heart.
Facebook: Lou Hoffmann Books
Twitter: @Lou_Hoffmann
Blog: Stories With Pride

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Filed under cover reveal, GLBT YA fiction, LGBTQ+ fiction

Cover Reveal—Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander!

http://www.lexiander.com/index.html

Lexi Ander is revealing the cover for her new MM historical fantasy/paranormal book, Caledonia Destiny – due out on July 9th:

A twist of fate changed both their destinies.

The wyrbears, once a long-lived species, were being lost to the forest in their prime. A people borne of a curse, their abilities not a gift but something wrongly taken, they nonetheless live in harmony with their animal spirits. But over time the curse they lived under changed, mutated, and now what once was a refuge from the world when they became too weary is culling mathan in their prime.

Ewen mhic Friscalach, the leader of his peoples, lost his father too early and is now a widower with four children. The vow he made as a youth to break the curse afflicting wyrbears has been buried by grief and responsibility.

Roi mhic Alric, a priest of Cerridwen and seer, watched his fellow priests slaughtered and his temple desecrated. The only thing that kept him going the last three horror-filled years was the vision Cerridwen had granted him of his emancipation. If freedom came at the cost of his life, well, he was more than ready for the Otherworld.

A fated meeting upon a bloody field of battle. A wrong done long ago. Their choices could save a people… or send them into extinction. Either way, their love will be legend.

Caledonia Destiny started out as 31k short story that had a happy for now ending. Now, years later, I have rewritten and expanded the original to 111k.

Buy Links Coming Soon

Excerpt:

The next morn Ewen rose early and stoked the fire. Roi wandered into the forest to release his water. When he returned, Ewen bade him sit atop the furs. With an unsure countenance, Roi sat and watched Ewen approach with a wary eye. Ewen took Roi’s hand and used the warm, wet linen to wash it. He rinsed the cloth in the crock of water and repeated the motions with the other hand, gently touching the abraded flesh and each of the scabs where Roi had injured himself climbing the tree.

The camp was utterly quiet as he administered to Roi afore the gazes of his kin. He did not glance into Roi’s eyes until he took the cloth to Roi’s face, cleansing the dust of the road from Roi’s forehead and cheeks. Roi’s eyes were large and round with his confusion, but he did not stay Ewen’s hand which gave Ewen hope. He unlaced Roi’s boots and pulled them from his feet and began to wash them as well. He had not imagined he would be so nervous declaring his intentions in front of his kinsmen, but this moment was important, mayhap the most important declaration Ewen would make in his lifetime.

“Roi mhic Alric, I, Ewen mhic Friscalach, would have it known that I hereby put forth afore my kinsmen my petition to court you. I humbly ask that you consider my request and if you accept, allow no other to court you until the time you decide either to accept my hand or decline it.”

Roi turned pale as milk. Apprehension pooled in Ewen’s gut as he awaited for Roi to shun him. He deserved no less for what he had done, avoiding Roi only to succumb to his desires, waking Roi from sleep to beg Roi to touch him. Whilst Roi spoke truth, Ewen had bestowed upon him harsh words instead of Ewen’s own truth in return. He should have confided in Roi, given him the story of his people’s lineage. Roi’s lack of faith in Ewen might yet be Ewen’s own doing.

Roi placed his hand over Ewen’s where he washed the dirt from Roi’s feet. “Ye be of noble blood, ye do not have to do this.”

He captured Roi’s hand betwixt his palms. “Then tell me how to win back your trust.” Roi’s visage hardened, but not afore Ewen beheld the brief flame of longing in Roi’s eyes. “I shall find a way back into your confidence, Roi, and when I do, you shall never have reason to throw me out again.”

After placing Roi’s hand in his lap, Ewen returned to cleansing his feet, then slipped his boots over his calves and carefully laced them up. Ewen had brought over a square of knotted linen, which he gave to Roi afore he rose to his feet with the crock of dirty water. Roi untied the cloth and stared down at the food Ewen had gathered for him. The offering was not much: the last piece of flat bread, some pine nuts, and the best slices of their dried meat.

Donn grinned and nodded as Ewen passed by on his way to the stream to rinse out the crock. Kneeling at the edge of the water, Ewen then splashed the cold water onto his face, growling at the way his hands trembled.

Bear chuffed with mirth. “Good.”

With that one single word, Bear soothed Ewen’s frayed nerves. For the first time that he could recall, Bear rubbed gently against his skin as if to console him. Crouched at the water’s edge, Ewen held still in shock, able to sense Bear’s emotions without Bear saying the words. When Roi was with them, Bear came alive, naught showing of the violent creature Granda had warned Ewen of. Bear now spoke to, and even interacted with Ewen, all thanks to Roi. Ewen wiped the dripping water from his face with a new clarity.

“Ewen.” He glanced over his shoulder to behold Roi standing at the edge of the trees. Anger still pinched the corners of Roi’s lips but his hands twisted with uncertainty. “I shall not allow another to court—” his brows dipped into a hard V as if he could hardly believe his own words “—me until I either decline or accept yer… yer…” He huffed. “I know not what ye be thinking courting a man, Ewen. Everything ye do confounds me no end, and my mind counsels me to leave ye be but—” Roi rubbed at his left breast, his palm pressing into his chest as if he attempted to soothe an ache “—I find I cannot deny yer request, regardless of how unseemly it be. I never thought ye to be a daft man afore.” The last was said under Roi’s breath.

“I thought you would deny me,” Ewen confessed.

“Yer declaration caught me off guard, and when ye walked away without waiting for my answer I found meself at the mercy of others who vied for my attention. Ye have much to explain, Ewen. No others be as accepting as yer people.” Roi shook his head in a disbelieving manner afore turning to leave, moving around the four men who had followed him to the stream.
Donn, Arailt, and two other cousins watched Roi go. Bear and Ewen growled. “You heard him. He has agreed to my courtship.” Ewen’s kinsmen dispersed, Donn chuckling into his fist but hurrying away afore Ewen caught him.


Giveaway

Lexi is giving away three $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4717/?


Author Bio

Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Author Website: http://www.lexiander.com/index.html

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/lexi.ander.9

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LexiAnder1

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6521302.Lexi_Ander

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/lexi-ander/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lexi-Ander/e/B009PT22GM/

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Filed under cover reveal, just a category, M/M romance, Upcoming release

Lou Hoffmann’s *Key of Behliseth*, dragons and wizards and swords, oh my!

KeyofBehliseth_postcard_front_Harmony Happy to announce that Harmony Ink (Dreamspinner Press Imprint) will release Key of Behliseth (the first book in The Sun Child Chronicles), on 9/11/14. Visit Pride Promotions to enter the ebook giveaway raffle! There’s also a 20% discount on pre-orders at the Dreamspinner Press Store! At checkout, Use code SUNCHILD. It’s good on e-book and paperback, and if you can get there today, you get another 25% off!

On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travelMan on spiritual journey is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.

Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.

Lou Hoffmann, a mother and grandmother now, has carried on her love affair with books for more than half a century, and she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—partly because the list keeps growing as more and more fascinating tales are told in written form. She reads factual things—books about physics and stars and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. Through all that time she’s written stories of her own, but she’s come to be a published author only as a johnnie-come-lately. Lou loves other kinds of beauty as well, including music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, rivers and seas. Proud to be a bisexual woman, she’s seen the world change and change back and change more in dozens of ways, and she has great hope for the freedom to love in the world the youth of today will create in the future.

You can find Lou:

On Lucky’s fifteenth birthday, heading home after a long and trying day…

When he emerged from the trees and caught sight of the shack he called home, he stopped and stared while a chill prickled over his scalp like a tattoo needle made of ice.shack on edge

Something wasn’t right.

Could he have somehow come to the wrong place?

For the comfort the sound of his voice might offer, he spoke aloud again. “Don’t be stupid, Lucky. You know your way home by now.”

He’d been living there for nearly a year. After about that same length of time sleeping in alleys and doorways—only occasionally sleeping in a bed, which was even worse—he’d been raveled to within a hair’s breadth of wanting to give up. Even now he didn’t want to think of what that might have meant. But he’d been truly lucky, for once, and happened on this old shed while he was looking for a place to hide from truant officers who’d spotted him trying to panhandle. He’d slept better that night than he had in a long time, and the next morning he decided to make the place his own. He’d swept away bugs and spiders, pounded loose nails, and even mended split planks, and within a few weeks he’d patched it up. Ever since, he’d shared the ten-by-twelve space with Maizie and a family of finches in the eaves, and he’d come to think of it as the one secure place on Earth.

The shack might once have been in the center of a pasture or field, but the walls of Black Creek’s infamous gorge had since crumbled, and now the structure squatted at the cliff’s edge, at the end of the flats. Ordinarily, that precarious location didn’t trouble Lucky. But tonight… tonight a mist rose from the ravine and pearled silver in the moonlight, twisting and twining like ghost flesh. The strange, swarming fog cut the cabin’s hulk off from everything beyond, as if the place he counted on as refuge now hunkered at the edge of oblivion, the brink of the world.

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Sci-fi/Fantasy: Anne Barwell talks about “What-ifs” and “whumping” (and shares a excerpt from *Slow Dreaming*!)

I’ve loved exploring ‘what ifs’ for as long as I remember. I blame my father, in a good way, for my fascination for science fiction, as he introduced it to me, being a fan of the genre himself. My own interest has since expanded to include fantasy, there being a fine line between the two, and often what I read, and write, has an interesting mix of both.

All fiction has an element of ‘what if’ to it, but science fiction and fantasy allows me, as a writer, to push the boundaries further, and to explore new worlds. One aspect I enjoy about doing this is discovering how my characters will react when thrown into a situation complicated by elements that are not the norm. It gives me an opportunity to explore this in ways I couldn’t if writing something set in another genre. I’m also a great fan of the ‘fish out of water’ scenario, and people finding themselves out of their depth, often needing to search within themselves for strength and abilities they didn’t know they possessed.

Besides, there’s more scope for hurt/comfort AKA whumping in these kinds of scenarios. My imagination is the limit, although I do sit down and work out the parameters of the world in which the science or magic operates. People and places need to be governed by rules, whether it be nature or something else, or there’s no challenge in the story. Where’s the fun of building up a cliffhanger if all the character has to do is snap their fingers and the threat is gone?

Obviously it’s not going to be as simple as that, but for every decision made, there’s a consequence. This theme is one which repeats often in both science fiction and fantasy. There are checks and balances in place, there has to be or everything would fall apart. In the same way if I give a character an ability, there has to be a limit to what he can do or there’s no ‘fun’ in it. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and I prefer to write characters with flaws, who aren’t always sure of themselves, rather than someone for whom everything comes easily.

Throwing my ‘hero’ into a world which isn’t his own works well in keeping him just a little off balance. What if there are worlds out there where its inhabitants follow different rules than we do? Where the scientific advancements in our world did not happen, but instead, magic is a valuable commodity, and those who possess the abilities to wield different aspects of it are the ones in power.

There are two aspects to the genre I enjoy reading and writing in particular. The first is psi powers, or a variation on that theme. It not only ups the ante, but allows the characters to explore a part of themselves they might not otherwise. It also complicates a plot somewhat if the bad ‘guy’ finds out that if they hurt one character, his partner is going to feel that pain, literally. Or if someone is keeping a secret, and he falls for someone who is a touch telepath, but his perspective partner is someone who cannot learn the truth. Makes things more than a little complicated, doesn’t it?

As does a character who can move objects with the power of his mind, but hasn’t got the control over his powers he’d like, so he spends a lot of time trying to hide his ability rather use it because subtle really isn’t an option.

And then of course, there’s the shadowy organisation just out of sight, watching him, who has other ideas of what that ability could be used for.

But I digress with spoilers for upcoming stories…and yes I have written/am working on stories containing the elements I’ve just mentioned.

The other aspect I love exploring is that of time travel. Occasionally I like to combine the two. Time travel combines the fish out of water scenario, and the idea of checks and balances. History has already happened so it can’t be changed, right? All the research in the world cannot prepare someone for the reality of the up close and personal. It’s the little things that are going to trap a time traveller, the details that don’t always make the history books, like having no clue about common pop culture references. Or when a file with a faded photograph in the future becomes a real person in the past, someone the time traveller realises he has to save, no matter what, because that assignment is now all about the person he’s fallen in love with and who he wants to be his future.

The story possibilities and potential for exploring relationships within these scenarios are endless. People still fall in love and have to work together to triumph above adversity – with plenty of angst, romance, and whumping along the way – wherever or whenever they find themselves. These stories are still about people, and to me that’s what makes the decision as to whether I want to read or write: characters I care about and want to spend time with.

This way I get to meet new and old friends, and explore new and interesting worlds and ideas with them. After all, it’s not every day that a guy finds out that his partner is a dragon, is it?

To finish I’d like to share the blurb and an excerpt from Slow Dreaming a short novella which will be available from Dreamspinner Press from 1st June as part of their time travel theme daily doses ‘Time is Eternity’ and also as a separate release.
Anne Barwell Slow Dreaming Dreamspinner Press The Blurb: As an agent for the Tempus Institute, Jason Adams’s task is to observe the past, not change it. But when he’s sent to 21st-century Wellington, New Zealand, during the last week of aspiring songwriter Sean Henderson’s life, Jason finds he can’t just watch from a distance. He and Sean quickly become friends and then lovers, and when the song that’s haunted Jason for years connects them in a way he never anticipated, he’ll risk changing history for the chance of sharing a future with Sean.

Jason smiled, trying to put Sean at ease. “Thanks for the compliment, by the way. It’s been a while since anyone’s made the effort or shown any interest.” No one since Rex, but that was history in every sense of the word. They hadn’t spoken to each other since they’d broken up three years ago, and the last he’d heard Rex was on assignment in the mid-1940s. Very hush hush.

“I’m usually a little more subtle.” Sean sighed. “For all the good it does me.”

“I’m surprised.” Jason leaned over and placed a hand on Sean’s arm. It was warm, fine dark hairs smooth under his fingers. He thanked the powers that be that it was warmer today so that Sean’s shirtsleeves were rolled up above his elbows. “You’re a good-looking guy.” More than good-looking. Jason made a point of looking Sean up and down. “I’d even go as far as to say hot.”

“Really?” Jason could almost see the steam coming out of Sean’s ears at the idea. Sean shook his head in disbelief. “Me?” He shook his head again. “Hell no. Now you….” His voice trailed off. “Um, can we change the subject onto something else? Are you from around here? I hadn’t seen you before the other day.”

“I’m from… overseas.” Jason nodded, running through what was left of his cover story in his mind. “I’m a journalist, travel, mostly. This looked like an interesting place, so I thought I’d look around for a few days, take notes, that kind of thing.”

“Where overseas?” Sean settled back into his chair, relaxing as the conversation moved onto a safer topic. “I’ve been to Aussie once, but apart from that I haven’t been out of New Zealand. It’s on my list of things I’d like to do one day.” He laughed, but there was a self-deprecating air to it. “Perhaps once I’m rich and famous. Can’t see it happening otherwise.”

Jason thought quickly, latching onto the first country that came to mind. “Canada.” He hoped Sean wouldn’t ask for anything more specific than that. Giving the truth wasn’t an option. He couldn’t very well explain that although he was a local, the Wellington he was used to was very different from how it was now. It was better this way; there was less chance of slipping up and referring to something that didn’t exist yet.

“It’s on the list.” Sean sipped his coffee, thoughtful. “I’m a mainlander myself. Christchurch. My parents are still down there, don’t want to leave. They reckon they’ve spent their whole life there, and it’s going to take more than a few earthquakes to make that change.” He shrugged. “They’re one of the lucky ones. Their house is still relatively intact.”

“Have you been to see them recently?” Jason hoped Sean had. Closure was important. He’d seen too many families who’d missed out on that. They couldn’t be there at the end, but at least having had some contact beforehand had helped.

“Yeah. I went down as soon as I could after the first big one and spent some time.” Sean wrapped his fingers around his cup, long fingers, slender. “I offered to move back, but they wouldn’t have anything of it. My life is here now, has been for a few years. I’ve got my music, and I work in the cafe part time. Never going to be rich, but it works for me.”

“You’re a musician?” A familiar not-quite tune whispered to him. He ignored it.

“Yeah, although more of a songwriter than a performer.” Sean shrugged. “I doubt you’ve heard of me, although a couple of local bands are willing to play my stuff. I play keyboards for them on the occasional gig, too, when the usual guy is off sick or whatever.” He glanced toward his pile of papers, his mouth twisting into a half grimace, half-shy smile. “I’m working on a new one but having trouble getting it quite right. That happens sometimes, then when it’s the right time, it all falls into place. It drives me crazy until it does, though. I swear I eat, drink, and sleep the thing.”

“I’d love to hear what you’ve got so far.” Jason could have kicked himself for not taking the time to listen to the sound files attached to Sean’s dossier. However, it was Sean’s role at the cafe that was the focus of the assignment, not his music.

“That settles it.” Sean grinned. “I knew you were crazy with all your talk of hotness. Now you want to hear music composed by a guy you’ve only just met.” He schooled his face into a solemn expression. “I think that’s about the fourth sign of madness isn’t it? After all, for all you know my music could be really bad. How do you know you won’t lose your hearing and good taste for the rest of eternity?”

“And here I was thinking the fourth sign was being a true believer of the sanctity and healing properties of coffee,” Jason deadpanned.

Contact Anne Barwell:

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Temptation of the Incubus (a PG excerpt about a sexy devil)

After I dressed, I hovered in the now deserted hallway, trying to act casual, not needy. This early in the new semester students rarely stayed late; there was no need to abuse their free time. Twenty-five tense minutes passed by in relentless boredom. Somewhere in the offices a clock chimed 6:00PM. Hmm, did the handsome handyman stand me up? Did he gain mental revenge against someone else by using me?

No. I refused to accept the damaged notion. Someone else might display such pettiness but not Mads. My senses told me the truth. I patiently leaned against a wall. I fidgeted. I nodded greetings at two professors who glanced at me in question but merely nodded in return. Rita bustled past and halted. “Amando? Is something wrong?”

“I’m waiting for someone who is running late.”

She winked. “I hope you’re going to enjoy the beautiful evening.”

“If he doesn’t arrive soon we’ll enjoy full night.” I pouted in high style.

“Naughty boy. See you next week.”

What a cheerful soul. Three kids and a lawyer husband, eh? I wished Rita well.

Silence. 6:30 chimed at me.

Quickly moving footsteps approached me. Mads rounded the far corner and walked toward me, he now dressed in a snug aquamarine T-shirt which truly matched his eyes and well-worn tight jeans that left little to my happy imagination. I sighed in relief. It took considerable will not to drop and worship his thigh muscles.

His capable hands fluttered toward his shoulders in quick apology. “Amando, sorry for arriving late; the kiln turned into quite a stubborn old cranker. At least I managed to cram in lunch.” He cocked his head in query. “Do we stroll right to your place? No wooing each other over fancy drinks and dinner in some clever little café I can’t afford? I admit since I ate late I’m not hungry.”

More subtle sarcasm. Instead of reacting to his arch words I shrugged, smiled and artfully shook my hair. “There’s no need for such nonsense. If you wish, woo me as we walk.”

Mads’s piercing sea-soaked gaze drilled into me. He slowly shook his head and smiled in true confusion. “What is it about you, Mr. Amando Renato? I don’t believe I’ve ever met someone like you before and that confuses me. Hey, since we’re alone, may I kiss you right now? I always like to check if a beautiful guy appreciates the fine art of kissing. I am damned fond of the act.”

Kissing thrilled me. During the past centuries I leaned numerous special lip tricks designed to conquer a man. I smiled and pursed my lips. “Come here, big boy, and pucker up.” As he leaned close, Mads pressed his lips to mine. I opened in slight need, opened to capture his true spirit. Curiosity washed over me. Mint and maturity spiced his tongue. Sweet of him to eat a breath mint before we met. My lips parted further, there, glorious. My sparked allure refused to stand down, the force wiggling up like a curious puppy. No. Careful, don’t…

My body convulsed in abject confusion.

Angels on High! I jerked back and slammed into the beige wall. Alarmed gasps ripped from my lips. My watery knees barely held me upright. A startled Mads stepped back, sucked in his breath and dazedly shook his head in slow disbelief. His silky hair haloed in slow-motion.

Fear rattled through my flesh.

I gave.

I GAVE my life energy to a human without even trying.

Why? Heaven Above, why? Who authorized that unhappy event? What the fuck happened to me here?

A chorus of startled male gasps flooded the moment. Mads blinked at me in further confusion until words stammered free. “A-A-Amando, wow… did you experience that weird zap? I-I felt like something… wow. Did we step on a faulty wire? No, that’s completely impossible. There’s nothing on the floor that would cause such a stupid short. But… shit… I don’t understand what happened to us.” Of course thinking he consumed my life force floated beyond Mads’s comprehension; hey, anyone order a slice of my life force with a side of fries?
Seconds roared past. Poor practical Mads anxiously peered down at the floor as if seeking a dangerous, spark-spitting wire waiting to strike at us again. His thick blonde hair almost swayed in fresh vitality.

My shaking fingers drifted and touched my slack lips. Nothing abnormal happened. Crazy shock invaded every last cell. I gave my life force to Mads!

Why? How? Click tape loop: why, how, why, how…

Mads looked up from frantically examining the floor and shrugged in fresh confusion. He stared at me. His high forehead displayed worried webbing. “I don’t know what… my God, Amando, are you sick? Do you need to sit down? You look real shaky and pale.” His hands reached toward me.

No. I defensively held up my hands. My back pressed against the wall. Touching me was not a wise option, no, not until I learned what the fuck mondo weirdness happened to me. An instinctive lie tripped free. “Mads, I am fine, it’s…you also suffered that strange, erm… surge.”

Mads smiled in sincere wonderment. “I sure as hell experienced the surge. Damn, I kissed you and I swear a little zap entered me. Kissing your lips makes me tingly inside. I gotta say if that’s what kissing you feels like, let’s run to your place right now and resume the fun.”

My normal kissing style did not involve passing out life force in gay mad abandon. Glad Mads enjoyed the unique sensation. I enjoyed our sincere kiss until I released life to this unknown human without logical reason. What in Belail’s Flaming Chariot happened to me? Why? As my frantic thoughts tripped over each other, I offered Mads a tight smile. My right hand stiffly gestured toward the empty hall. “We can walk there now. It’s not far, over at A and 11th.”

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More from Andrea Speed: *Infected*

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

But when your heart is gone, it’s easy to fall into a black hole and never crawl out. Roan has been lost and alone for more than a year, and his best friends think a new case might be just the motivation he needs. Roan forces himself back into the game and discovers a dead man who might not be all that dead, a street hustler that wants to hustle him, and a dominatrix who is well prepared to take Roan’s orders. As Roan claws his way out of the darkness by diving back into his work, he finds himself in a race against time in the adrenaline-pumping realization that nothing helps a person want to live like helping someone else survive.
*

The murder of a former cop draws Roan into an odd case where an unidentifiable species of cat appears to be showing an unusual level of intelligence. He juggles that with trying to find a missing teenage boy, who, unbeknownst to his parents, was “cat” obsessed. And when someone is brutally murdering infecteds, Eli Winters, leader of the Church of the Divine Transformation, hires Roan to find the killer before he closes in on Eli.

Working the crimes will lead Roan through a maze of hate, personal grudges, and mortal danger. With help from his tiger-strain infected partner, Paris Lehane, he does his best to survive in a world that hates and fears their kind… and occasionally worships them.
*

The newly married Roan is struggling to balance his work with his home life as he grows increasingly distracted by his husband Paris’s declining health. One case with strong emotions attached takes up most of his time: finding the murderer of a missing little rich girl. It’s a family with secrets so toxic they’d rather no one investigate, and there’s no shortage of suspects. But despite the dangers and obstructions involved, Roan won’t stop… until he loses something infinitely precious as well.

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Excerpt: Hot Cargo (Rated R+, Adult)

“Report to the zero-g chamber in ninety minutes,” Peter ordered, walking away without a backward glance. He knew Blaise wouldn’t dare disobey him. The ex-smuggler might push his limits every chance he got, but the Admiral knew they both enjoyed the consequences of those actions. In the meantime, he’d ensure he learned everything Petrov had to disclose about the most recent attack.

“Yes, sir,” Blaise replied to Keller’s retreating back. He finished changing out the last light bulb quickly and returned his cart of supplies to the maintenance closet. Deciding he had enough time for a shower, Blaise returned to his quarters and turned the ’fresher on high, letting the hot water wash away the grease and grime of the day. Relaxed afterward, body humming in anticipation, he grabbed a quick bite to eat before reporting as ordered to the zero-g training room, figuring he might not be free again for quite some time.

It hadn’t taken Peter as long as he’d thought to grill Petrov. Unfortunately, the Pleides’s captain didn’t have as much information as he’d hoped, the attackers once again leaving frustratingly little evidence in the wake of their destruction. He’d pumped Arkady for everything he could remember, but other than the now-familiar energy signature, there’d been nothing but smoking ruins left behind. Peter had cursed as he looked over the vid-scans after Petrov left. The small mining facility hadn’t had much of value to attract pirates, and it didn’t appear the attackers had made any attempt to claim any of the ore from the storage silos before blasting them – and the planetoid’s dozen miners – into ions. Scowling at the images of senseless devastation, he keyed off the display and stalked toward the zero-g chamber, determined to work off some of his aggression.

He was finishing up his preparations when the door swished open and Blaise entered, his attitude as unconsciously arrogant as ever. The Admiral was sure that Blaise’s rebellious attitude was one reason he had yet to tire of the younger man as he had all his earlier subs – that, and the fact that the smuggler made him hotter than the surface of a supernova. As soon as the door closed behind Blaise’s tight ass, Keller tapped the controls to lock the door and kill the chamber’s gravity. “Show me how well you can maneuver in freefall,” Peter ordered. “Strip.”

Blaise was no rank beginner. He had worked more ships than probably most of the sailors under the Admiral’s command, and many of them had been little more than junkyard scrap. He’d had plenty of experience with freefall, mostly when the gravity generators failed. With confident ease, he moved slowly to keep himself from spinning out of control, unbuttoning the fastenings on his ship suit and sliding it off his shoulders and down over his hips.

Peter watched the smuggler appreciatively as Blaise gracefully wriggled his way out of his work uniform, revealing his bare skin and the fact that his cock didn’t require gravity to get hard. “Very good,” he acknowledged, completely comfortable after decades of zero-g experience. “But in your former line of work, you were alone on your ship most of the time. What would you do if you had a shipmate who needed your … assistance?”

“Do you need my assistance, Admiral?” Blaise asked teasingly, though he was also following protocol. He would never approach a shipmate in zero-g conditions without alerting the other person to his intentions.

“One of these days, Blaise, that mouth of yours is going to get you into real trouble,” Peter warned. “Let’s see if you can make it over here without knocking me into orbit, for a start.”

Blaise pushed off gently, floating smoothly across the room, aiming for a spot a little to Keller’s left. “Would you have preferred I come sailing over here with no warning whatsoever?” he countered as he caught himself smoothly on the railing next to the Admiral’s elbow. “I would have thought that against shipboard procedure. It certainly was against mine.”

“You had shipboard procedures?” Peter scoffed in disbelief. “Hard to believe, since you’re so obviously ignorant of proper discipline.” Using just enough motion to slam into Blaise forcefully, he spun the younger man around and pressed his chest firmly against the chamber wall. “You know what kind of assistance I’m looking for, Blaise,” he hissed, holding the pirate’s hip with one hand and rubbing the evidence of his arousal against the taut cheeks. His other hand caught Blaise’s thick hair, pulling the younger man’s head back into his kiss.

Blaise returned the kiss eagerly, far beyond caring that the Admiral knew of his willingness and desire. They had finished with those games for the most part after his birthday, the effects of the wine having broken down barriers they’d chosen not to restore. Instead, he reached behind him and used his grip on the commander’s hips to give him enough leverage to push back into the cock that pressed against him so invitingly. “I’m always happy to serve, Admiral,” he replied when his lips were released.

“You seemed eager enough to serve Petrov earlier, too, so that’s not saying much,” Peter retorted. He slid his lips down the strong curve of Blaise’s neck, biting down hard when he reached the junction of his shoulder, marking the skin with his teeth. The bruise wouldn’t show beneath Blaise’s work suit, but it would remind him of who he belonged to, for a day or so at least.

“A change is as good as a rest,” Blaise quipped, though he would never have submitted to the captain the way he submitted to the Admiral. Only Keller could elicit this response from him. The older man didn’t need to know that, though. Blaise knew the Admiral enjoyed his rebellion as much as the smuggler enjoyed the consequences.

At Blaise’s flippant answer, the Admiral felt a surge of jealousy that surprised him with its intensity. Wrenching the grinning smuggler around by his hair, he towed him across the room to the opposite wall, where he’d secured a pair of leather straps. Removing one, he ran it over his palm, nodding to the other. “Grab that and hold on,” he ordered the pirate. “And don’t let go. If I have to restrain you, it will only make things worse for you.”

Blaise obeyed the Admiral’s orders immediately. His innate sense of self-preservation told him he’d pushed the commander as far as he safely could. Now, it was just a matter of holding on for the ride. A thrill shot through him as he imagined all the possibilities presented by their current situation.

Peter hooked a foot under the rail that circled the training room walls, knowing he’d need some way to brace himself. Otherwise, the first time he brought the strap down against Blaise’s ass – like that! – would send him spinning across the room in reaction.

Even in zero-g, the strap moved with enough force to smart when it hit Blaise’s skin. His hips jerked forward, a motion that would have sent him spinning helplessly through the room if not for his grip on the leather cuffs. As it was, his body twisted around, leaving his vulnerable belly facing the Admiral.

Reaching out to the younger man, Peter spun Blaise back around to face the wall again. He wanted to teach his brash lover a lesson, not leave him incapacitated. Holding Blaise’s shoulder secure with his free hand, Peter brought the strap down a second time, raising a bright red welt on the honeyed skin.

“Ah, shit!” The second blow was enough to pull the muttered curse from Blaise’s lips. Rarely did their games cross over the line to true pain. The energy whip the first night he’d been on board was just about it. His usual punishments involved being denied release. While relatively minor compared to what he’d endured while aboard the Gavenelian ships, it was still enough to leave him tense against the next blow, and none to happy about the situation either.

Peter hardened himself against Blaise’s exclamation of pain. Six blows in all, he told himself. That should be enough to get the cocky bastard’s attention. “Maybe you won’t be quite so eager for a change after this,” he growled, laying a series of quick blows across the spacer’s backside.

Blaise bit his lip to stifle his cries as four more blows fell. He was panting by the time it was done, his body tense and braced for more. His relief when the Admiral released the strap and let it float away was palpable. Still trembling, he tried to steady his breathing, using meditation techniques he had perfected during his imprisonment to push aside the adrenaline coursing through him.

Peter dropped the strap and positioned himself behind his shaking partner. He ground his cloth-covered erection against Blaise’s reddened ass, letting the younger man feel his unabated arousal. “Now, I believe you were going to show me how eager you were to serve me,” he husked against the pirate’s ear. Letting go of Blaise’s hips, he pushed off gently, letting himself float freely.

Blaise took a deep breath and started to release the strap he held when he remembered the earlier order. “I can’t do much if you’re over there and I’m over here,” he said softly. He’d had his fill of punishment for the day.

Impressed that Blaise had remembered his order not to let go of the strap, Peter grinned. “Very good,” he acknowledged. “But I think you’re going to need both hands now. Get over here and take care of what you started.”

Blaise released the leather he was holding and pushed himself in Keller’s direction, letting their bodies bump and the momentum push them toward the far wall. Catching the railing with one hand, he used the other to keep the Admiral from crashing into the wall. As quickly as he dared in the zero-g conditions, he undid the uniform and bared the commander’s body to his gaze. Nudging the Admiral upward, he steadied them both when the thick arousal was at the height of his mouth. Lowering his head, he inhaled the swollen shaft, swallowing around the mushroomed head.

Peter didn’t bother to hold back his moan of pleasure as Blaise’s talented mouth closed around his cock. Holding the dark head in place with one hand, he pried Blaise’s hand away from the railing with the other, letting their bodies drift weightlessly.

Unattached now as they were to anything grounded, Blaise had no choice but to use his grip on the Admiral to provide the leverage he needed to bob his head up and down over the hard cock. One thing, though, didn’t require gravity to be effective. Grinning as best he could around his mouthful, he hummed in his throat, letting the vibrations tease Keller’s erection.

Blaise’s oral prowess never failed to arouse Peter’s admiration – among other things – and at first the Admiral simply enjoyed the delicious suction on his rigid shaft. He watched as a string of saliva escaped the privateer’s lips, breaking into tiny glittering globules that floated past Peter’s face. As he felt his control beginning to slip, he grasped Blaise’s bicep around the stylized horse tattoo, flipping gracefully end-over-end until he faced the younger man’s well-striped ass. Unable to lay hands on the mysterious attackers, he’d taken out his anger and frustration on his smuggler. He owed him something in recompense.

Blaise had let Keller’s cock slip from his mouth in surprise at the maneuver, and the Admiral grasped the spacer’s lean hips and twisted him around, thrusting the neglected organ back in his face. “Didn’t tell you to stop,” he ordered, lowering his head to lap at the droplets of fluid beginning to escaping from Blaise’s swollen erection.

The howl that tore from Blaise’s throat at the feeling of the Admiral’s tongue on his cock was muffled by the shaft in his mouth, but nothing short of the void of space could silence it, not when he was feeling Keller’s mouth on him for the first time.

Blaise’s uninhibited reaction made the Admiral wonder why he hadn’t given in to this particular temptation before. True, he’d never been tempted to taste another prisoner’s cock before Blaise’s, but the salty taste and silky texture of the pirate’s thick shaft felt damn good in his mouth. Not as good as his cock would feel buried in Blaise’s ass, though. With that thought in mind, Peter slid two fingers into his mouth alongside the slick column, coating them thoroughly with saliva and Blaise’s pre-come.

Blaise tried to focus his attention on his ministrations to the Admiral, not wanting to be rebuked for neglecting his duties, but he could feel Keller’s fingers sliding alongside his shaft in the other man’s mouth. He knew where those fingers were going, and the thought alone had him trembling with desire.

Peter tightened his thighs around Blaise’s shaggy head, forcing himself into the smuggler’s mouth until his balls pressed against the man’s sensuous lips. Keeping a firm grip on one hip, he pushed his wet fingers into Blaise’s hole with more urgency than care. He’d make sure the younger man was stretched enough to receive him, but he needed to be inside him the way he needed oxygen to breathe in the void of space.

Blaise’s back arched under the rough penetration, not to fight it, but to draw Keller’s fingers deeper. The sharp movement sent them spinning gently through the room, but he paid no attention to that. His mind was on the thick flesh in his mouth and the callused fingers stretching his ass. Everything else had lost all meaning for him.

Feeling Blaise arch and clench around him, the Admiral worked his fingers deeper, spreading them until he could feel the tight muscle start to relax. When their entwined bodies bumped gently against the chamber wall, he groped for the rail to steady them. Reluctantly abandoning his efforts to work his cock down Blaise’s throat, he pulled the dark-haired captive up to face him. Taken by a sudden impulse, he pulled the younger man’s mouth to his, savoring the taste of his own essence on Blaise’s tongue.

Blaise offered his mouth as willingly as he offered his body, though they still kept to the pretense that the Admiral was forcing his submission. He wondered fleetingly if they would ever move beyond these games, but there was no time for such considerations now. All that mattered was that Keller was fucking his mouth with his tongue like Blaise hoped he would soon be fucking his ass with his cock. He sucked hard on the invading muscle, welcoming it eagerly.

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The busy mind of Cornelia Grey (the author interview)

First, Cornelia, welcome! Thanks for allowing me to feature you as an author and discuss your work. In a bit I’d like to talk about Apples and Regret and Wasted Time, and maybe a bit about some of your other stories. But first, perhaps you can give readers a bit more information about you as a writer:

Q: I know of several short stories (in addition to Apples and Regret) that you’ve had published. If readers look at several of your stories, will they find a common thread, or theme? How do your stories come in to being—do you create characters and the story grows up around them, or do you start with a plot and invent characters as they’re needed? (Or some other mixture?)
A: I noticed there’s definitely a common theme. My stories are mostly set in alternative realities, worlds that are either urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic, steampunk… or just plain weird . And often these worlds’ societies are flawed, deeply unfair, crushed under some oppressive power. The stories revolve around the underdogs, random and unconventional, who strive to fight against this oppression, even if in small ways. Another common element in my stories is that the protagonist is originally on the side of the oppressors, or at the very least completely uninvolved in the events, and his perspective changes completely when he gets to know the underdogs. This is a storyline that comes to me naturally, and even though I’ve used it more than a few times, it’s still my favorite.

I’m also usually a plot person. I tend to think up an ending, the more climatic and explosive the better, then a beginning (in this order!) and then I plan out the intricacies that come in between. By the time I start actually writing, the skeleton of the story is ready, complete with a fairly accurate bullet point list of the scenes. I like to have the full movie, complete with sound and fancy special effects!, all flowing in my head before I start putting it down on paper.

The characters sort of come naturally as the plot flows. Often I don’t know much about their back-story – heck, sometimes I don’t even know their names! – as if I was stumbling across two strangers at the beginning of the story and just stalked them around to see what they’ll do. I think that sums up rather nicely how the whole process works for me, actually – the story’s unfolding almost by itself and all I have to do is keep lurking and be quick to take notes.

Q: In the excerpt from Apples and Regret and Wasted Time, the language is in some places (particularly the line that contains the title phrase), gorgeously sensual. Is that something readers will find throughout your work? If so, perhaps you can talk a bit about what influenced you in that direction. Does it affect the way you see or “feel” your characters? (Their emotions, their actions, their sex?)
A: Thank you for your kind words! To be honest, the issue of language is a little complicated for me. My mother tongue is Italian and I’ve only been writing in English for a couple of years, so my control of the language is still a bit limited. I can never tell if a sentence sounds English or if it sounds like Italian translated into English, for example, so especially in my first stories I had some funny sentence structures floating around. Italian has long, convoluted sentences, and that doesn’t quite make sense in English. Plus I tend to use lots of Latin-derived words, because they remind me of Italian and therefore come easy, while in English they tend to sound obscure and overblown.

I think I keep improving, though – if I read stories I published last year, I can now catch some sentences that sound odd and that I would phrase differently today. I notice my latest stories have a much cleaner use of language, without all the twists and twirls of my Italian writing. I manage to keep things simpler and more effective, and I think it results in a sharper, more incisive writing style.

However, I think the poetic undertones that Apples has are a little unique among my stories . I was caught up in the atmosphere of the story as I was writing it, suspended in its dream-like, foggy scenario: I think that bled into the use of language, shaping it to enhance that particular mood. I notice it with every story, really—the language changes subtly to suit that particular piece’s atmosphere. I don’t plan it rationally, it just comes out that way. A story I just finished, for example, set in the Wild West, has a dry and dusty feel to it, and the language is accordingly grating and sparse. It seems like it all comes instinctively together to bring out the atmosphere I have in my head—use of language, dialogues, setting, the character’s attitude, their approach to sex…

Q: About the characters in Apples and Regret and Wasted Time—in the blurb and in the excerpt, the characters are not named. Are readers given their names in the story? If so, can we have them here? If not, why not? How do you think that changes the way we see them? These characters both seem the type that I, rather crudely, would describe as badass. In the excerpt, it’s apparent that history, as well as strong physical attraction, draws them together. Without giving away the story, can you tell us anything about that history, and the roots of that almost irresistible attraction? How much of that need for one another is emotion deeper than sex?
A: No, we never learn their names. Truth to be told, I never picked any. I just never felt they were necessary. The story was much shorter in its original version, and when I decided to expand it I wondered whether the absence of names would work in a longer piece or whether it would become heavy for the readers: but I just couldn’t imagine forcing names into it. It would change the whole tone of the story, I believe, and make it weaker. It was also an interesting experiment for me: I wondered if readers would relate to the characters even without knowing their names. I know I certainly do. I always wonder exactly how much we have to know of someone in order to care for them, how much is necessary to reveal about a character in a story to make him or her a ‘real’ person, someone the reader can relate to, can grow attached to.

I’ll hide behind a no comment regarding the characters’ history—there are hints scattered around the piece, and I’d rather let the readers dig them out and piece them together as they please.

Q: “Wasted time” implies that the character turns back to a forgotten goal, or perhaps a new goal that he now realizes is where he should have been heading all along. Is that accurate? Are they both headed in the same direction? Don’t answer this if it gives away too much, but I really want to know if there’s a HEA… ?
A: Well, together with the publisher, we decided to list clearly as a warning that this story doesn’t have a traditional happy ending. A HEA is sort of taken for granted in the romance genre, so we wanted to avoid disappointing readers who might expect it. Personally, I’m a big fan of unresolved endings – I don’t really believe in happy endings, but not in unhappy endings either. My favorite endings are always a little open, more of a ‘to be continued’: maybe the couple is happy for now, but – for example – they have just gotten together and we have no clue whether they’ll be together forever or if they’ll amicably part ways in a few weeks or if they’ll end up slaughtering each other with a machete… you get the idea.
Apples and Regret is the one story where I got to indulge this predilection of mine to the fullest.

I also like to explore romances in which life, for one reason or the other, takes precedence on the love story, and the lovers are forced to adjust their priorities… and the relationship doesn’t make it to the top of the list. In my opinion, it doesn’t make the romance – the love – any less important, any less true. I’m in a similar situation in my life – I’m still building my future and looking for my place in the world, and life is tugging me and my partner of six years in opposite directions. Romantic comedies make it look like dropping everything to just bask into each other’s undying love is the simplest thing in the world, but I believe life is more complicated than that. So I guess I’m trying to explore that kind of situation, and maybe learn from my characters how to find solutions: I tug them in opposites directions, heck, I tie them to two freight trains heading to opposite hemispheres, and see how they sort things out…

Q: The cover to Apples and Regret ranks, in my mind, high as one of the best I’ve ever seen. Enticing and beautiful almost to the point of being hypnotic. Who did the art and design? How involved were you in the design—choosing elements or style, for instance?
A: I have to say, I was astonished when I saw how gorgeous the cover was—and for a short story, no less! I couldn’t have asked, or hoped!, for anything better. The artist is the incredibly talented Nathie—I highly recommend you go check her Deviantart gallery. (http://nathie.deviantart.com) She’s an amazing artist, and I’m especially in love with the anatomy of her gorgeous characters.
The process was really straightforward – my editor had the idea for the composition, which I immediately fell in love with, and the rest is all thanks to Nathie’s talent. I gave my input on the character’s face, but that was all – Nathie just seemed to automatically tune in with the atmosphere I wanted to create in the story. It was amazing to work with an artist who seemed to simply read my mind and draw exactly what I wanted, even though I hadn’t quite figured it out myself. I’m really looking forward to working with her again in the future!

Q: You have stories in a couple of Dreamspinner Press anthologies, A Brush of Wings (“Angel Blues”), and Making Contact (“Making Contact”), both released in 2010. Also, in March of this year, Samhain Publishing released “The Mercenary” as a stand-alone. Do you have other published work? Anything new coming up? Are you working on (or do you have plans for) any novella or novel length fiction? Is there anything you’d like to add, now—something I’ve missed that readers really should know about Cornelia Grey, Author?
A: I do have a few things coming up, actually . Storm Moon Press recently released the Wild Passions anthology, which includes my story “City of Foxes”, a gritty urban fantasy involving fox people. This August, Dreamspinner Press will release a pirate anthology, Cross Bones, with my short story “Worth the Price”, and I have another pirate story scheduled for release with them as a stand-alone. The title is “The Tea Demon”, and it’s an odd mix of steampunk, humor and, well… really random randomness! I definitely had fun writing that one 😉

While I have a few novella-length plots sketched down, waiting to be written, I tend to do better with short stories—mainly because they come with a deadline, and I work better under pressure. Also, I have the attention span of a drunken squirrel, so I tend to get sidetracked while working on longer stories – newer, shiny ideas keep fizzing up all over my brain and I end up dropping my current project.

However, I’m currently working on my final project for university, which is a novel-length manuscript. It’s a steampunk mystery, with a good sprinkling of irony and not taking things too seriously. As expected, after working on it for months, now I keep thinking of new exciting projects I’d like to get started with. But the project is due in January, so I do have a deadline to rein myself in—even though I’ve already managed to drop the project for a week and sneak-write the Wild West story I mentioned earlier. I have just no self-control. I foresee interesting months ahead….

As a last random bit of information, I thought I’d mention that I find it essential to have a writing soundtrack as I write. Headphones and music play an essential role in helping me disconnect from my everyday routine and delve in the story’s atmosphere. While each scene tends to have its own specific song, that remains on a loop until that one scene is over, the general soundtrack is made up mostly of classic rock and blues songs—Robert Johnson, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimi Hendrix… And with that, I’ll leave you all with a very heartfelt: rock on!

Thanks, Cornelia, for agreeing to be featured on the blog, for taking the time to answer our questions, and letting us get a peak at your work and your author’s mind. Best of wishes with your work.

(Readers: if you’d like to ask Cornelia a question of your own, or comment, please feel free. The link to comment is (unfortunately) in rather small print, below the title. Welcome!)

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