How It Became Flight
Anne Barwell asked me to explain how we came up with the theme for this year’s Queer Sci Fi flash fiction anthology and contest.
This is our third contest and second anthology.
When creating a theme for a contest like this, you need to choose something that is broad enough to allow a wide variety of interpretations. For the first year, I chose the theme “endings”, and we got all kinds of them. We also got 15 entries total, which was great—for the first year.
The second year, we bandied it about a bit, and it was my husband Mark who came up with the winning idea – “Discovery”. We got 115 entries, and again, they ran the gamut – from scientific discoveries to the discovery of secret plots.
This year, it was Angel’s turn to tackle the theme beast. After much consideration, she chose flight, which was really cool, because it has so many possibilities:
Flying men and angels
Fleeing from danger
Flights of stairs
A flight of wine
And many more. We had more than 170 entries this time around. And although we got bunches of angels, we also got some truly amazing variations on the theme.
What will next year’s theme be?
It’s Ben’s turn to choose, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Cover & Illustrations Artist: Mila May
Length: 33.6 K
Format: ebook, print
Release Date: General release 9/21/16
Price: $4.99 eBook, $12.99 print b/w*, TBD print color*
*Book contains 5 illustrations inside.
A 300-word story should be easy, right? Many of our entrants say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever written.
Queer Sci Fi's Annual Flash Fiction Contest challenges authors to write a complete LGBTQ speculative fiction micro-story on a specific theme. "Flight" leaves much for the authors to interpret—winged creatures, flight and space vehicles, or fleeing from dire circumstances.
Some astonishing stories were submitted—from horrific, bloodcurdling pieces to sweet, contemplative ones—and all LGBTQ speculative fiction. The stories in this anthology include AI’s and angels, winged lions and wayward aliens. Smart, snappy slice of life pieces written for entertainment or for social commentary. Join us for brief and often surprising trips into 110 speculative fiction authors’ minds.
Smoke, by Zev de Valera
He rubbed his temples and squinted at the soft light of his surroundings through the fans of his thick eyelashes. The last drink had been a mistake.
Was that a shaker he'd felt, or the onset of a hangover?
He clutched a silken pillow and waited.
Suddenly, he felt his home tremble; a few pieces of glass and ceramic ware teetered and then fell to their demise.
Shit. This is the real thing.
With an effort, he hauled himself from his bed.
How many years had it been since the last one?
The shaking ceased, and he looked around his small dwelling.
A model unit when he'd purchased it. Now filled with the result of years of collecting: a gramophone, a first generation television set, a water clock. And much more. All of it all had sentimental value—as did the photos of the various men that sat atop or alongside the items in his collection. Some of these men had loved him. All of them had once owned him. Now he owned their memories. That was the bargain.
Another shake. Followed by several unnerving tilts. He willed his cherished possessions to remain in place and willed himself into sobriety and a more becoming appearance as he prepared himself for work.
What to wear?
He selected a red brocade tunic and pants. A classic look always worked best for the initial consultation.
A resounding thud.
He peered up into the small shaftway at the center of the ceiling.
Then a small circle of light at the end of the shaft.
He sighed, folded his arms, and transformed into a cloud of red smoke.
Up and away to meet his new master.
Judge's Choice — J. Scott Coatsworth
Buy Links Etc:
Publisher (info only, no buy link yet): https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/t
Apple: Coming soon
Barnes & Noble: Coming soon
Smashwords: Coming soon
Goodreads Series Page: https://www.goodreads.com/series/18
In the first year of the Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction contest, we received about 15 entries for the theme “Endings”. In the second year, it was 115 for “Discovery”.
This year, we had more than 170 entries from people around the world, and from all parts of the LGBTIQA rainbow. “Flight” represents 110 of those people and their stories.
Virtual FantasyCon is a fun and interesting online event happening in October and best of all it’s free. The location is your computer. You can drop by any day during the event and check out the booths for that day. There will be authors, bloggers, editors, artists, and publishers to list just a few. There will be a Cosplay booth, Blog Hop Hunt booth, panel discussions, and a new booth this year an Author Cache Sale booth (This booth is new and is only for the participating authors on the day of each event. Books on sale for $1.99 or 0.99 can list these books in the comment section below for guests to find and buy.) It is put together by lovely people like Carol March, Raven Williams, Denise Garrou, and others who have worked behind the scenes to make this event happen.
It’s a place to catch up on your favorite author and discover new authors. There is epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, children’s fantasy, and YA fantasy to name just a few of the different types of authors that will have a booth during the event.
To find out more about the event check out the following social media links:
Blog Hop Hunt
List of Participants
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
Books, reading and writing have been my big love for as long as I can remember, maybe because my mom and her sister were voracious readers. Mom and I lived in California, and my aunt lived in Seattle, and in the pre-ebook days, I remember them shipping boxes of books they'd read back and forth to each other—a couple cartons every month. I'm not saying I didn't watch way too much TV growing up, but I loved reading, and before I could ever properly spell or write legibly, my mom was transcribing little stories I'd come up with, typing them up for me. And when I was seven, our teacher taught our class about poetry, and everyone made a little book of poems, with Haiku, Iambic Pentameter, etc., and for the next twenty years I wrote a few reams of fairly awful poetry riddled with youthful angst.
When I started college, I took some creative writing classes, but I'm a fickle lass with a short attention span, and I never managed to finish so much as a short story until I was in my thirties, writing my Master's thesis. Actually, it was ten years ago, this year! I think so much intensive ananysis and academic writing was twisting my brain in a knot, and I started writing a story that, to be honest, was rooted in an erotic fantasy I'd had since I was a teenager. That story turned into my first novel, Abduction, which I first posted for free on Literotica, and which was later published by eXcessica. Now here I am, publishing my seventh novel!
Can you tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?
The God of Jazz was largely inspired by two things I love: my adopted city of Barcelona, and (surprise!), my adoration of jazz music. I moved to Barcelona a couple years ago, and ever since, I've been wanting to write a book set in this fascinating, complicated city. And, well, I suspect I'm not alone in thinking musicians are sexy as hell. Now that I think about it, Ángel (the god of jazz) is the third musician to have a central role in one of my novels—there was also Vaughn in Abduction, and Aidan in Dangerously Happy, although they are rock musicians. Anyway, Barcelona has a great jazz scene, so all that came together pretty naturally.
I also wanted to write something a little different from my other novels, which tend to be on the dark and gritty side. The God of Jazz is hands-down the lightest, sunniest novel I've ever written (not that there's not a little pain along the way). After writing Trasmundo: Escape, which deals with a civil war and ethnic cleansing, and wrestling with the sequel (which deals with the hardships of living in exile) for over a year, I also just needed a mental health break. I came up with the idea for The God of Jazz one afternoon, started writing the next day, and about six weeks later, it was done! I can't tell you how fun it was to write, and how good it felt to get a book done, start to finish, after battling the other work-in-progress for so long.
Penis envy? Haha, kidding. Maybe.
Well, of my first three novels, two were primarily M/F, and one was M/M/F, but even when it wasn't the plan, somehow some sexy M/M sex and sweet M/M romance has always burrowed into whatever I've written. I in no way identify as trans, but something at the core of my brain deeply connects to male sexuality. From a very young age, I've always leapt between female and male POV in my private erotic imagination. It would be quite an effort to avoid doing the same in my writing.
Do you have any genres you prefer reading, and if so what are they? What book are you reading at the moment? What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow? Do you have a favourite genre that you like to write in? What book do you wish that you had written?
I go through phases. Actually, they seem to be geographical phases, rather than genre phases. When I was in my twenties I fell in love with Russian literature, and then French. These days, I'm pretty focused on South American literature—not so much magical realism and boom literature, but post-boom experimental fiction (although I'll never say no to Borges).
I wish I'd written ALL the books. Yes, I'm that greedy. Or that jealous, haha. I'm just in awe of what some authors are capable of.
Are there any characters that you write, that are based on you, or people you know?
Nope. Seriously, never. Of course everything is colored by my own experience, so certain interactions and emotions derive from things I've gone through, but I don't cast people from my life in my fiction.
Do characters and stories just pop into your head, or do you take your time thinking about them?
This varies vastly from book to book. Abduction sprouted and flowered in my mind for years before it even occurred to me to make a novel out of those scenes playing in my imagination. Dangerously Happy and The God of Jazz practically wrote themselves. But After, Bad Things, and Trasmundo required a lot of plotting, outlinining, and laborious re-sculpting as I wrote.
Do you write often? Is it on a schedule, or whenever you feel like it?
Generally speaking, I'm either not writing at all (like right now—I just can't find the focus because I'm in the middle of a move, I owe a late chapter of my thesis to my academic advisors, and I'm launching The God of Jazz), or I'm buried up to my eyebrows in writing, ignoring my social life, grocery shopping, the front door that leads out of my house...
If you could have any superpower or magical ability, what would it be and why? What would you do with it? And yes world domination is an acceptable answer.
I would give almost anything to be a brilliant vocalist and musician. (Please don't tell me that's not a super power.)
If you had access to a time machine just once, is there anything you'd go back and change? Either on a personal level or an historical event?
Oh, the do-over game is tempting, but dangerous. There are many things I'd be tempted to change, if I could, but when I really think about it, there's nothing I would want to change about who and where I am today, except a few things that are still very much in my power to change, despite the fact I don't.
Contemplating history... that's incredibly tough. So many horrific wars and genocides could be undone, but one thing that upsets me every time I think about it is the trifecta of deaths in the 1960s. I can't help longing for the United States that might have been if Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy had not been assassinated.
What are your writing and personal goals for 2016 and beyond?
I'm eager to get Trasmundo: Exile wrapped up and out to the readers! And I've been putting together the framework for a mystery/thriller that I'm absolutely giddy about. I've never written a mystery, before, so I'm having a lot of fun working out how to build up to the delicious twist that's the nucleus of that novel.
Personal goals? To start learning Catalan (the local language here in Barcelona and the rest of Cataluña), and to do a better job of getting out and making new friends here.
Are you a cat person or a dog person? Can you tell us about your pets?
I grew up with dogs. My mom and I always had tons of pets, actually. Two dogs, plus an aquarium, parakeets, parrots, hamsters, hermit crabs, lizzards, snakes. But for the past ten years or so, I've had cats. I love all the furry friends!
Thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you and your readers! Besos from Barcelona!
TITLE: The God of Jazz: Fugue, Concord
AUTHOR: Varian Krylov
COVER ARTIST: Bey Deckard
LENGTH: 117,450 words
RELEASE DATE: September 16, 2016
BLURB: After years struggling to realize his dream of directing a feature film, on the final night of his fundraising campaign Godard is on the cusp of having everything he ever wanted. The man he loves is upstairs waiting for him, and he's just a few dollars short of his GoFundYourself goal.
Then everything falls apart.
His personal and professional life in ruins, when his old nemesis from film school offers to fund his dream project if he's willing to shoot it in Spain, Godard knows it's a deal with the devil. But he also has nothing left to lose.
Among the labyrinthine streets of Barcelona's Barrio Góthico, the city's vibrant music scene, and the sun-gilt beaches of the Costa Brava, Godard begins making shooting his dream project and putting his life back together, largely under the domineering gaze and deft touch of Ángel, the god of jazz.
But Ángel is keeping a secret, and a deal with the devil always comes at a price.
“Bienvenidos...” After a glance back at his band mates, the trumpet player fixed his intense gaze on the audience and welcomed us in a low, smoky voice. Almost instantly the crowd went quiet, like everyone there was desperate not to miss a syllable. Of course, the remaining crumbs of my high school education in Spanish didn't get me past the first word, except I did catch their names as he introduced his bandmates. Jaume on the drums. Alistair on bass.
The stunner with the trumpet and the arresting eyes that were the color of Amaretto di Saronno in the sun, but almost black in the hard shadow cast by the spotlight hitting his striking, upward angled eyebrows, was Ángel. He shot a glance at the drummer, who set a rhythm, brushes hissing over the heads. The low thrum of the bass came in as an electric smile spread over Alistair's handsome face. The tempo of the music echoed faintly in Ángel's subtly swaying body for a few measures as he let the music lull us out of the hectic pace of our day, the frenetic energy of the crowd that had been bantering and calling for drinks and jockeying for places to sit or stand, into the soothing rhythm. Then he brought the horn to his lips and kissed our souls.
Sultry, thick and sweet, tinges of melancholy. The notes stretched and yawned, curled around us like smoke. Slipped into the gaps in our broken, rusted armor and soothed our wounds.
I felt almost ashamed, in the midst of that transcendental rapture, that I couldn't look at Ángel without conjuring the memory of his naked body, lax and faintly sheened with sweat as his broad shoulders flexed when he'd shifted his weight. The taunting temptation of his bare ass. Impossible to stop trying to imagine what he would look like, standing alone on that stage, under those lights, looking down at me, naked. Picturing his cock hanging, limp. Wondering if, when hard, it would stand up straight, jut off at an angle, or stick out from his groin.
At some point I had stopped looking at the other two sharing his stage, and just stared at him. The slight inward slope of his narrow nose. The delicate bow shape of his upper lip, slightly prominent, overshadowing his narrower bottom lip. Wanting him, almost willing him to turn those intense eyes on me again. Would it feel like a touch, the way it had at the beach? Was he caressing every man and woman in the bar with that gaze? Were they all secretly quivering and warming under his stare?
Leave a comment and be in to win an ecopy of the book. One lucky commenter per blog. Contest deadline is September 29th.
Growing up near Los Angeles, I spent much of my time frolicking in the Pacific Ocean and penning angst-twisted poetry. Now I'm living in sunny Spain writing pathos-riddled fiction. Ironically, two of my favorite things are traveling, and swimming in the ocean, despite increasingly intense phobias of sharks and flying.
I've always loved the music and substance of words, always loved writing in well-worn notebooks by hand, tapping at the keys of the computer, and, of course, conjuring up stories.
And from my earliest memories, I've always been fascinated—maybe obsessed?—with sex and sexuality.
In my writing, sex is the medium, the expression, and the tool of discovery for my characters' insecurities, the needs that drive them, the comfort they can't live without, the joy and relish of life that makes each of them intense, strange, and alluring.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
I am a single mother of two precocious cats who like to keep me on my toes and constantly interrupt my attempts to write. I’ve been scribbling stories of one kind or another since I was in middle school, and I’ve always enjoyed stories/films/books that focus on groups of guys, especially when they form close relationships. Finding out there was an entire romance genre dedicated to that was life changing for me, first as a reader, and then as a writer.
My books do tend to deal with emotional topics, and I’ve written a tear-jerker or two, but I always guarantee and HEA (or at least, an HFN). I mean, it’s romance, right? Without that ending, it’s just fiction. I also love writing blue collar characters who have to face daily struggles to make ends meet; they type of guys you might find down at your corner bar having a beer.
Can you tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?
My new release, Say It Right, is the second book in my All Saints series with Carina Press. All Saints is a New Adult series based around characters who work at or near a homeless shelter of LGBT+ teenagers. This setting came about after reading countless articles about how gay teens are kicked out of their homes. Forty percent of all homeless teenagers are LGBT+, which is astonishingly high when LGBT+ people make up only a fraction of the entire population. I wanted to bring awareness to the problem, while also writing engaging romance novels.
Say It Right is about Marc Villegas, one of the co-managers of the homeless shelter. His story was honestly inspired by an episode of “Intervention” about a man addicted to heroin. I knew Marc had faced difficult challenges in his life, as a gay teen kicked out by his parents, but in the present, he’s settled and five years sober. And his sobriety is tested when his childhood best friend (and secret crush) shows up on his doorstep after an eight year absence from Marc’s life, an addict, begging for help. The rest of the story spiralled from there.
How did you come up with the title?
Music albums. The first book in the series, Come What May, got its title from the film Moulin Rouge!, which the heroes watch together and enjoy. That song kind of becomes a mantra for that book’s couple, and I liked the idea of keeping the song title theme going. In Say It Right, Marc and Anthony are best friends until they’re sixteen, getting into trouble together, and being as close as two guys can be. They shared a love of Nelly Furtado music, so I combed her albums for a title that seemed to work for these two characters. Neither of them are good with words, so figuring out how to communicate was key for them.
Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
I learned that when heroin is smoked, it smells like rancid butterscotch. Probably not trivia I can use to impress my friends, but I did quite a bit of research into addiction, getting sober, and AA/NA programs.
Do characters and stories just pop into your head, or do you take your time thinking about them?
Both. Sometimes characters and their story pop into my head, and I can barely keep up writing them. The Truth As He Knows It (Perspectives 1) was one of those books where I sat down one day and just started writing, without doing much research or preparation. The characters were simply there. For other stories, I have to let them simmer for a while to really understand who they are and what their goals are. Finding Their Way (Restoration 2) was a book where I had to really get to know the two leads, and even then, it wasn’t smooth sailing. I probably did the biggest edit of my career on that book, but the work was definitely worth it.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
I prefer to think of myself as a plontser. In terms of plotting, I always do biographies of the two leads before I begin a novel. I need to know who they are, what their backgrounds are, and what they want in order to start. Plot comes out of the main character’s goals, so if I don’t know what they want, I can’t do any plotting. I very rarely plot out an entire novel, because even when I do, outlines are fluid and often change as I’m writing. But I’ll often have an idea of some of the key scenes that need to happen at different points. The fun comes in getting my characters to those points, and then to their happily ever after.
What are your writing and personal goals for 2016 and beyond?
My writing goals for 2016 have almost been met. I’ve completed all contracted novels, so I have a little room to breathe. I have a few shorter, incomplete projects that I’d like to finish over the last few months of the year. I also plan to test out the self-publishing waters with at least one novel, and three novellas.
When is your next book coming out, and what’s it about?
My next release should be a standalone novel called Fractured Hymns, and it will be my first self-published book late in 2016. It’s set in the same universe as my Cost of Repairs series, but isn’t part of the series or continuity. Self-sufficient Ethaniel Shockley is forced to go home to his family horse farm to recover from a serious work accident, and he meets a very shy, stuttering stable hand named Angel, who’s secretly crushed on Ethaniel for years.
What are you working on at present? Would you like to share a snippet?
I am working on nothing at present. After completing multiple novels this year, I’m taking most of September off (I say that, but I’m a bit of a workaholic, so we’ll see). Future plans include writing another Cole/Jeremy novella for Dreamspinner Press, a new paranormal romance novella to complete a trilogy I will self-publish, as well as a shifter romance I’ve been toying with since June.
Are you obsessed with stationery? And if so, what and why?
I’m not obsessed with stationary, but I am a bit obsessed with Sharpie markers. I’ve gotten into those adult coloring books, as a way to relax at night, and to have something to do during TV commercial breaks. I have a big cup of regular and the tiny tips, in all kinds of colors. I’m constantly checking stores to see if they’ve come out with new colors.
Title: Say It Right
Author: A M Arthur
Series: All Saints #2
Can be read as a standalone
Release Date: September 12th 2016
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance
After his parents kicked him out for being gay, Marc Villegas lived on the streets before getting a second chance. Now he's giving back by working at a shelter for LGBT teenagers—because helping fight their demons keeps his own at bay. Including his infatuation with the former best friend he's sure is straight.
Anthony Romano hasn't seen Marc since Marc left home eight years ago. In his confidant's absence, Anthony turned to heroin. Now at rock bottom, he has an offer from Marc to help him get clean. Detox is hard and ugly, but not as hard as admitting the truth: he's in love with Marc. Always has been.
Marc swore he'd never date an addict, but he never dreamed the one in question would be the man he's always wanted to be with. As the two explore their feelings for each other, Marc faces a difficult choice. Say yes, and it could cost him his sobriety; say no, and it could cost him his heart.
Carina Press | Amazon | B&N
Where to find COME WHAT MAY (All Saints #1)
Goodreads | Amazon | Carina | B&N
Marc jerked upright in bed, instantly alert, but uncertain what had woken him. A hint of light made it through the blackout curtains on his only window, enough to show he was alone in his room. He snagged his phone off the bedside table, but no one was calling him. No texts, and the alarm wasn’t going off.
Only a little after noon. He’d gotten home from his overnight at the shelter less than two hours ago and crashed right away.
Why the hell am I awake?
The distant chime of his doorbell, then muffled banging.
He sat up, covers falling to his waist. No one ever knocked on his door. The Beware Pit Bull sign on his front gate deterred solicitors, and he rarely ordered anything that needed to be delivered. People didn’t ring his bell for no good reason, and that sent Marc diving for a pair of workout shorts.
Sleeping in the nude wasn’t conducive to quickly answering the door.
The stairs challenged him a little, but whatever. Two hours of sleep. At the bottom, he pressed his eye close to the peephole. A young Latina, maybe late teens or early twenties, stood on his stoop. Familiarity hit him in the heart. Her face was thinner, her hair longer, but he knew her.
He snapped the two locks and flung the door open. “Maddy?”
“Hey, Marcos.” Madeline Romano haunted his stoop like a ghost from the past—which she very much was. Maddy was the little sister of his high school best friend, and he hadn’t seen her since he was sixteen years old.
“It’s Marc now.” Stupid thing to say. “What are you doing here?”
“I need your help.”
“Okay. Come in.”
He stepped back, shut the front door once she was inside and out of the January cold, then ushered her toward his lumpy sofa. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“No, I’m fine.” She was pretty far from fine, or she wouldn’t be here after eight years. “Did I wake you up?”
Marc glanced down at his backward shorts. “Um, give me one sec, okay?”
He fled upstairs for proper clothes. Whatever was wrong, he didn’t need to hear it in his underwear. After finding clean briefs, he put on jeans and a sweater. Maddy hadn’t moved from the couch. She clutched at a small purse like she expected it to disappear at any moment.
“How did you find me?” Marc asked as he sat next to her.
“The internet. You stayed in the city.”
“I did. Where are you living?”
“Philadelphia. Sort of. It’s where we moved to when I was twelve. I’m home on winter break. Senior year of college.”
“Good for you. What school?”
“Damn, chica. Congrats on that.”
She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Thanks.”
“What’s Anthony up to?” Marc hadn’t thought about his former best friend in a while. After Marc’s parents had kicked him out at the end of his junior year of high school, Anthony’s family refused to help him or let them remain in contact. Marc hadn’t had any real way to keep in touch, anyhow. No money, no phone, no place to live. Maintaining a friendship hadn’t been part of his survival plan, and the one time he’d sought Anthony out, he discovered the entire family had moved. Apparently to Philly. And after enough years passed, finding Anthony again stopped feeling important.
After all, Anthony had never come looking for him.
Maddy squeezed her purse tight enough to make the leather squeak in protest. “He’s why I’m here.”
Marc’s heart kicked. “What happened?”
“After you left, he became a different person. Moody, angry, acting out. He quit the soccer team. Started getting into fights. He barely graduated, and our parents didn’t know what to do. A few months after graduation, he was arrested for possession.”
That news punched Marc in the gut. Anthony had always been about getting a soccer scholarship that would carry him to college first, then all the way to Europe. He’d dreamed of being a big-name soccer star, and he’d hated the idea of drugs. He’d turned his nose up at weed and didn’t even like to drink at parties.
“He got probation the first time.”
“The first time?” Marc squawked.
“Less than a month later, he was arrested again. He served four months.”
Anthony had been in prison for drug possession.
“It destroyed our parents,” Maddy said. “None of us understood what happened. Why he changed like that. When he got out, he was clean for a while. Even got a job at a car wash. We all thought he was doing good. Then Mom’s jewelry started going missing. Cash was missing. He kept staying out.”
“He was using again.” The words were bitter in Marc’s mouth.
“We had a family intervention. Rehab, or they’d kick him out. He chose rehab, got his act together and came home. He went to meetings, got a job. He was fun to be around again. Everyone thought he was okay until this past summer. Same thing, different day. But instead of rehab or begging for another chance, he just left. He left, and no one knows where he’s been for months.”
The heartbreak in Maddy’s voice put hot tears in Marc’s eyes.
“Fuck.” He blinked the tears away, then tucked Maddy close to his chest, acting on instinct. She clung to him without crying, and he tried not to tense up.
Marc knew the dangers of living on the streets better than anyone. He knew all of the different fates that could befall someone, especially an addict. He’d seen acquaintances overdose on bad shit. Seen them beaten up for what little they had on them, be it cash or dope. Seen them killed outright for standing on the wrong corner.
“How can I help?” Marc asked.
“I saw in the paper about your homeless shelter. It’s awesome that you do that.”
“Thanks, but Anthony’s never come to the shelter.” He wouldn’t have been admitted by Dave or Tate, even if he had. The shelter was for LGBT teenagers, not twenty-four-year-old former soccer stars. And no one brought drugs inside. “Why do you think he’d come back to Wilmington? Your family moved to Philadelphia not long after I lost touch.”
“It’s a guess. I’ve searched all over Philly. All of his old hangouts, his old friends. Dad even checked in with his detective buddy, and no one can find him there. Plus he talked about you a few times after the last rehab.”
And here Marc hadn’t thought anything else could surprise him today. “He did?”
“He wondered what you were doing, if you were okay. Said he owed you an apology, and part of staying sober was making amends. I figured searching here was worth a shot.”
Marc wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Anthony could be right around the block, shooting his own death up his arm, and Marc wanted to cry almost as much as he wanted to punch something. “If he came back to Wilmington, he’s never tried to make contact with me.”
“But don’t you know people? Someone who could help us find him?”
“I’m not sure.” Marc had more resources for this kind of thing than Maddy, but addicts weren’t quick to snitch on each other. Not unless money was involved, and Marc didn’t have a lot of spare twenties to flash in front of people for what would probably be worthless information.
One thought came to mind, though. An acquaintance who might be able to give him a lead.
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About the Author
No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships and "bromance" (and "The Young Riders") with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments. You can contact her at AM_Arthur(at)yahoo(dot)com.
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads
The release date for Safe House, Buchanan House: Book Four, is coming soon! To celebrate, Dreamspinner has created a bundle sale—Pre-order Safe House and get Tiny House (Buchanan House: Book Three) for $0.99! The sale runs September 12 until release day—September 19!
This is a true series so to get the most out of it I recommend to read the books in order. With that in mind I’ve stocked a Rafflecopter with two chances to win the first book in the series, Buchanan House. Visit any stop on my tour between September 12th and October 1st to enter!
Safe House (Buchanan House: Book Four) by Charley Descoteaux
It’s never too late for a new beginning…
Kyle Shimoda is an asshole magnet, has been for as long as he can remember. At forty-seven, he doesn’t see much chance for improving his luck in love. His friends who run Buchanan House, a gay retreat on the central Oregon coast, know he wants to find “someone nice” to settle down with, and they set him up with Officer Brandon Smith. Kyle has a turbulent history with law enforcement, but he can’t deny his attraction to the buff cop.
Brandon has been a police officer in Lincoln City almost since the day he graduated from high school over thirty years ago. He’s cultivated the facade of a serious, disciplined law enforcement officer, but beneath his overdeveloped chest beats the soft heart of a drama queen. A cancer scare shifts Bran’s focus from finding a serious relationship to having as much sex as he can—putting his goals squarely at odds with Kyle’s. If he can’t find the courage to be honest about his feelings for Kyle, the happiness they’ve both been searching for could slip through their fingers.
Read Chapter One at the Dreamspinner store to meet Kyle. Meet Brandon in the excerpt below.
Brandon barely paid attention as he drove between the cemetery and the apartment he shared with two roommates. He’d hoped to find a voice mail from the doctor after the funeral, but no such luck. He did find one saying the new guy, Dylan, had called in sick, and Brandon was expected at work within the hour. He would have been happier to stay at the cemetery and talk with Paulie a little longer. And Kyle. Bran had met Kyle before, but they hadn’t spoken. He had noticed then how handsome Kyle was, and he was even more striking with his hair longer, framing his high cheekbones and full, sensuous mouth. His silky black hair looked so touchable.
This isn’t getting me to work any faster.
At least work will be a distraction.
He hurried home and changed into his uniform. His quick spot check in the bathroom mirror turned into a lingering appraisal. Brandon ran an open hand over his chest, not to smooth the impeccable fabric of his uniform shirt, but to reassure himself that nothing had changed. He grimaced at his reflection, thinking a little less gray and a little more brown in his hair might be a nice change.
Brandon shivered as he recalled the MRI he’d endured three days prior, which had revealed a suspicious lump in his chest. Forty-seven minutes in a tiny tube while the machine hummed and took pictures of his breast and lymph tissue. Just thinking about the way it had felt to lie there made him shiver—it was worse than the needle biopsy he’d had the following day. With every inhale his shoulders had brushed the walls of the tube on both sides, and less than halfway through he’d had to talk himself out of fleeing. He wasn’t a tall man—something that had bothered him throughout his life—but until that day he had taken pride in his body, in the bulk he’d cultivated without sacrificing speed or agility.
During that forty-seven minutes, he would have been happy to trade his broad shoulders for a smaller frame.
Since I’m making empty wishes, I might as well make one for a better-looking face. A face that could attract a handsome young guy like Kyle instead of scaring him half to death.
Bran’s stomach roiled at his own thoughts, and he resolved to not even think the word death again until—unless—he had to. He was tempted to forgo shaving the sandy brown stubble from his face but fell back on the habit, hoping for the comfort a routine could provide, and reached for his electric razor.
Everything seemed to be happening so fast. Less than a week ago he’d gone in for his yearly physical, and now he was waiting for the call that would tell him whether he needed to make another appointment for that week or next year. In the interim he’d been squeezed into a tube and had a biopsy. And relived the worst time in his life over and over, the time when he’d learned about his father’s diagnosis.
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Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. She has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.
Rattle Charley’s cages:
Dreamspinner Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/i
Series: Buchanan House
Book Number: 4
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 19, 2016
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Title: Bread, Salt and Wine
Author: Dev Bentham
Series: Tarnished Souls #4
This can be read as a standalone
Release Date: September 13th 2016
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Some wounds never heal. George Zajac grew up in a religious family with a father who beat “the swish” out of him. At thirty-eight he's a troubled man. Escaping his miserable life as a banker in New York, he moves across the country to start again in Los Angeles as the catering chef for a prestigious French Restaurant. Kenny Marks, a writer who’s currently waiting tables, is everything George cannot be—flamboyant, proud and sexually confident. Enthralled by Kenny, and against his own better judgment, George agrees to a date. Sparks fly. The sex is amazing. But even after the two get close, George is crippled by humiliating sexual hang-ups. Still haunted by his childhood, he lingers in the closet and can’t commit to a relationship with Kenny.
Love is the great healer, but is it enough? George’s emotional scars could drive Kenny away, and with him, George’s last chance at happiness.
**Bread, Salt and Wine was previously published by Loose ID in June 2013, but is being re-released with a fabulous new cover, designed by Jordan Castillo Price.**
Buy Links: Amazon
Find the rest of the Tarnished Souls series here: Goodreads
It was after midnight by the time we got everything cleaned up and stowed away back at the restaurant. I got change for the five one-hundred-dollar bills the financial manager had pressed into my palm as we left, and doled out fifty dollars to each of the four waiters, the busboy/dishwasher, and the bartender. I stuffed one into my pocket and the others into an envelope to give the kitchen crew.
The group started toward the staff locker room, and the kitchen emptied out. Except the cute one, Kenny.
He waved his money at me. “And the momma? Was she pleased?”
I shrugged. “She says she’ll call if she needs catering. We’ll see.” He watched me expectantly until I added, “Thanks for pointing her out.”
“No problem. Glad to be of service.” He shifted his weight onto one hip and looked at me from under his eyelashes. “Chef sometimes forgets to schedule me. Maybe you could put in a good word.”
I nodded. He smiled and turned to leave, throwing a “good night” over his shoulder as he sauntered out the door. I stayed behind to check on the preparations for the next event, Sunday brunch for a hundred. I reviewed the work schedule and was surprised by the pang of disappointment I felt when Kenny Marks’s name wasn’t on the list.
Giveaway: 5 lucky winners will receive an ebook copy of Bread, Salt and Wine!!
About the Author
I write contemporary gay romance. My characters are flawed and damaged adult men who may not even know they’re looking for true love, but when they meet their bershert, their true love, their lives are transformed. My stories are set in the real world where gay men have gay friends, families who do or don’t accept them, personal histories they’re not necessarily proud of and a myriad of experiences that have made them who they are.
I live in Northern Wisconsin with my Boston Terrier and Chicago spouse. I’ve published short stories, poetry, newspaper articles and academic papers and have worked in nearly every profession from restaurants to retail to open-water diving and now write m/m romance out of my fascination with love, courage and gender.
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads
Where did the idea for The Eye of the Storm come from?
This book is the product of two long standing interests of mine, which came together almost accidentally over the course of several years. The first is old-time pulp fiction. The second is cosmology.
That may seem an odd marriage, so I’ll try to explain.
I love the great sci-fi and fantasy writers of the nineteen-twenties and thirties: Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith. H.P. Lovecraft, etc. Sure, some of that stuff is horribly dated by today’s standards, just simply by virtue of how much more we know about actual science now. Lovecraft wrote tales of intrepid adventurers slashing their way through dense jungles on Venus. Edgar Rice Burroughs famously turned Mars into the fantastical world of Barsoom. Given how much better our understanding of these places is now, a lot of the work from that era understandably comes off as a little quaint these days.
But when it was good, it was really good. There was a unique quality that the best of those stories captured. I’m not even sure exactly how to define it. They had a sense of mystery to them, the kind of mystery that comes from striking out into the unknown—into worlds barely imagined, with horrors and wonders alike waiting to be discovered. In many ways this was very much a product of that time. The rapid technological advances of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries must have created a feeling that nothing was truly impossible, that no frontier would go unexplored for long.
For a while that exuberance seemed to die out, but there was a bit of renaissance for this stuff when I was a kid, which is how I came around to it, in the seventies and eighties. The re-birth of Conan the Barbarian in comic book form led to a re-discovery of other pulp heroes like John Carter. Both of those, in turn, combined with Burroughs’s Pellucidar books seems to have inspired Mike Grell’s much beloved Warlord series.
I devoured all of this stuff, and I read as much of it as I could.
Much later I learned that there was a name for this peculiar little sub-genre I liked so much. It was called (derisively by some) Sword & Planet. In short, it was a basic “stranger in a strange land” premise: an Earth man (usually a soldier) gets transported to another world where he has to use his skills and his smarts to battle through a pre-historic fantasy world, often dealing with alien or “ancient advanced technology” in addition to the standard sorcery contained in most fantasy.
Something about that concept grabbed me. In part, it was the combination of sci-fi elements with classic heroic fantasy. But it was more about the characters themselves, that these weren’t strictly tales of distant worlds, they were about one of us making his or her way through them. From the Pevensie children in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to Dorothy in Oz right up through Marshall, Will and Hollie venturing into the Land of the Lost, this kind of story always had a particular hold on my imagination.
Because of my long love affair with this brand of fiction, I had always wanted to write a fantasy novel myself. When I sat down to actually do it though, I didn’t go that route at all. Instead, I tried to write a totally self-contained, invented world like Middle Earth or Westeros. It was a conscious choice. At the time, I thought that was the more “adult” approach, that those types of fantasy universes were the hallmark of a more serious kind of literature. After all, no one was really writing Sword & Planet tales anymore. With the exception of that minor rebirth in the 70s, they had more or less faded away with the pulp magazines. Just like no one believed there were aliens on Mars or jungles on Venus anymore, it all seemed somehow passé.
I went around and around with my idea for years, putting it on the shelf while I worked on other novels and then coming back to it periodically, but I was never satisfied with what I had.
That’s where the cosmology comes in.
I’m not a scientist. Far from it. I’m a lawyer by trade. But I love to read about science, albeit the sort-of dumbed-down version that gets put out for the untrained layman like me. I will never have the mathematical know-how to really get a handle on quantum mechanics or astrophysics. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to fill my head with as much of it as I can. It’s just fascinating stuff, to the extent that I even really get any of it.
One of the most intriguing concepts being floated these days is the multiverse theory. If you’re not familiar, in a nutshell, it’s the idea that our universe is not everything. It may be only one of an infinite number of parallel universes all “floating” endlessly in a sea of universes. Some theories even suggest that the Big Bang itself was actually the energy release from a collision between two “branes” or membranes of this higher dimensional reality.
Sounds like sci-fi, but people way smarter than me think it might actually be true.
With this in mind, I was tinkering with my never-finished fantasy manuscript one day a few years back when it hit me—that was exactly what I was missing.
All the stories I really loved were about men of this world transported to other worlds—and now the latest theories in cosmology were telling us that there really might be other dimensions, other universes. It seemed like a perfect fit. I started re-writing with that in mind, and the story pretty much took over. From there it told me where to go.
So in a way, this book is my attempt to bring back the feeling of those old Sword & Planet stories, but to do it in a modern way, with a 21st century approach.
TITLE: Eye of the Storm
RELEASE DATE: 08/10/2016
AUTHOR: Frank Cavallo
KEYWORDS: fantasy, adventure, sword & sorcery, wizardry, knights, magic, horror
SYNOPSIS: On a research mission in one of the most remote regions of the world, former Navy SEAL Eric Slade and Dr. Anna Fayne are caught in a mysterious storm. Catapulted through a rift in space-time, they are marooned on a lost world.
Struggling to survive and desperate to find a way home, they must confront the dangers of this savage land—a dark wizard and his army of undead—a warrior queen and her horde of fierce Neanderthals that stands against him—and a legendary treasure with the power to open the gateway between worlds, or to destroy them all: the Eye of the Storm.
ONE LINER: Catapulted into a lost world, Eric Slade and Anna Fayne must hunt down an ancient treasure that holds their only chance to return home.
PAGE COUNT: 402
IMPRINT: Dark Serpent
BOOK PAGE: http://ravenswoodpublishing.com/bookpag
AUTHOR BIO: Frank Cavallo is the author of The Hand of Osiris and The Lucifer Messiah. His short stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including Every Day Fiction, Ray Gun Revival, and Lost Souls. He has also written for the Black Library’s Warhammer property, including several short stories in their monthly fiction magazine Hammer & Bolter, as well as a novella featured in the collection Gotrek & Felix: Lost Tales.
AUTHOR LINKS: http://www.frankcavallo.com
AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JU28GC
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01JU28GCW
AMAZON CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01JU28GCW
“Of course he could just be faking sleep and listening to everything we’ve just said.”
Ken slammed on the brakes. Pain screamed through Matt’s arm as he was flung forward and collided with the dashboard.
“I was just joking,” Matt said. He hadn’t meant to get Ken so riled up. Matt rubbed at his sore arm. He’d been told his jokes could be painful at times, but this was taking that just a little too literally.
Fairy Tale Heroes by Alexis Duran
Gryffon Hall was inspired by two fairy tales; Beauty and the Beast and The Griffin. I found that working within the framework of classic fairy tale traditions really fired my imagination when it came to fleshing out my characters, rather than limiting it as one might suppose. The classic hero in a fairy tale almost always has these traits: he’s naive, good-hearted and no one in his immediate circle would ever peg him as heroic.
Another common quirk of fairy tale heroes is that due to their isolation, they've become very self-reliant and survive the challenges they face by using their wits. So even though magic is involved, it's really inner-strength that allows the hero to triumph.
My main character Wrlyer has all of those traits, and more. He's a bit of a nerd who has the misfortune of having an uber-masculine father and rough-and-tumble brothers. (And a dead mother. That kind of goes without saying in most fairy tales!) He’s adrift but making the best of it, trying to find a purpose in a world that seems to have no use for him. Of course what we hope for as readers is that his true calling will come along, and launch him on his grand adventure.
Wryler’s call to adventure comes in the formidable shape of Lord Aeric Rouchet, who fills the role of The Beast or The Griffin, the frightening other who somehow holds the key to the mystery that our hero must unlock. Wryler is both repelled and attracted by this fearsome stranger who, much to Wryler's horror, becomes his fiancée. Much as we’re both drawn to and afraid of the bad boys, outsiders and human-shaped dragons in our real lives, the fairy tale hero just can't turn away from a monster in need of assistance.
Aeric was a kick to write. I liked the idea of a monster who’s comfortable with his monstrosity and so I wrote him not as a pining recluse but a hero in his own right. The real problem for Wryler and Aeric lies in not in Aeric’s nature, or Wryler’s for that matter, but in the pre-expectations and prejudices of the society they grew up in. Although there's an arranged marriage, a dark secret, an ancient "curse”, an evil magician and plenty of other obstacles along the way, their journey is really one of overcoming false limitations imposed on them from outside while learning to trust themselves and each other.
Bringing two totally opposite characters together into this fantasy setting and convincing them to fall in love was wicked good fun. I hope you enjoy their journey as much as I did.
Title: Gryffon Hall
Author: Alexis Duran
Release Date: August 30th 2016
Genre: MM Romance, Historical
Born the useless fourth son of the Lord of Glimmerveen, Wryler dreams of getting married and escaping the rustic confines of his father's castle. A wealthy merchant's son seems to hold the key to Wryler's safe if somewhat dreary future. However, the arrival of a mysterious stranger on the eve of Wryler's betrothal sends his plans into disarray and Wryler finds himself traded off in marriage to one of the most notorious rogues in the land.
Is Lord Aeric Rouchet the scoundrel he appears to be, or is he something much worse? Separated from his family and thrust into a strange and dangerous new life at the foreboding Gryffon Hall, Wryler must unravel the secret of his husband's shadowed life and defeat the curse which threatens not only his growing affection for the barbarian in his bed, but the lives of everyone the Lord of Gryffon Hall is sworn to protect.
Buy Links: Amazon | Loose ID | ARe
Wryler squinted up at a velvet sky recently cleared of clouds. It would be a good night for peering through his telescope, if only the stars would stop swarming about so.
"Lovely night after so much rain."
Wryler lowered his chin and stood up straight. The voice came from the shadows toward the stables, followed by the sloshing of boots through puddles. With a few more strides Aeric Rouchet emerged from the gloom, that damnable grin on his face.
"Yes. Quite," Wryler said, "The dining hall got so hot."
"It did, didn't it?" Rouchet kept walking, and Wryler feared the man might plow straight into him. He braced himself for impact, but Rouchet stopped a few inches shy of contact. "The fresh air is bracing, but it hasn't done much to cool the flush in your cheeks."
"It's a curse. The blushing," Wryler said, and damn if his blood didn't flame even hotter.
"I find it quite becoming." Rouchet rested his palm against the wall next to Wryler's head and leaned in. "Is it only the quest for fresh air that keeps you from your comfy bed, Sir Wryler?"
"Yes. What else would it…would I…?"
"Oh, I don't know. I noticed the young Mr. Arsburry giving you the eye all night."
"Him?" Wryler snorted. "There's nothing going on between us, I assure you."
"Glad to hear it. I thought perhaps you were looking for company."
"I weren't. I wasn't." Accursed wine!
"But now?" Rouchet placed a finger under Wryler's chin and lifted it slightly. His looming presence enveloped Wryler in warmth and the smell of leather. Rouchet blocked out the sky, the stars replaced by his gleaming eyes. Wryler shrank back against the wall. He wasn't being held in place, but he might as well have been. He couldn't move and didn't much want to.
Rouchet swooped in for a kiss, his wine-moistened lips covering and consuming Wryler's. He was surprisingly gentle, this barbarian, his tongue easing into Wryler's mouth slowly but firmly.
What's happening? What's going on here, exactly? Men other than Lennox had kissed Wryler. Large, rough men. Stable hands. Traveling knights. Many had attempted to steal more than a kiss, and while pleasant, Wryler wasn't often tempted for more. But now, now he sensed Rouchet hesitating, waiting for a sign from Wryler, for permission to unleash the lust he obviously held back.
This really isn't acceptable behavior. But Rouchet would soon be gone, and they'd never see each other again. What harm could come of a little kiss?
Wryler responded, pushing back with his tongue, his body arching against Rouchet's.
Rouchet growled and plunged in harder, driving Wryler against the wall. A cascade of tiny explosions fired beneath Wryler's skin, and he was instantly and embarrassingly hard. It had never been like this with Lennox. Wryler always required coaxing and coercing. Now he felt as if he could be the one in charge, tearing at Rouchet's clothing and demanding to taste every inch of the lord's enormous body.
Wryler kept his hands by his sides and balled into fists, not trusting himself to touch Rouchet with more than lips.
Rouchet had no such restraint and ran one large hand down Wryler's back all the way to his buttocks, which he squeezed hard. Wryler gasped, and Rouchet seized him with both hands and pulled him in tight, crushing Wryler's poor swollen cock against his unyielding thigh. The pressure felt too good. Wryler wanted to climb Rouchet, to mount this monster of a man and ride him like….like… Words fled him as he cried out for this unexpected delight.
Rouchet broke out of the kiss but kept his mouth close to Wryler's ear.
"My dear Wryler, thank you for your answer, but I fear if I keep at it I won't be able to stop."
"You're drunk, and although appearances may suggest otherwise, I am nothing if not a gentleman."
"I am not!" Wryler insisted, weaving as Rouchet released him.
"Sweetly, deliciously drunk." Rouchet ran a finger along Wryler's jaw, then stepped back and bowed. "A good night to you, Sir Wryler, and may you arrive safely at your rooms. I'd escort you, but I'm afraid I'm more the monster in the shadows this night than the knight by your side." He sighed deeply. "No, I'm afraid I'm more likely to sling you over my shoulder and carry you to my bed than see you safely tucked away in your own."
"I wouldn't mind," Wryler said. "Not much anyway."
"You're too kind." Rouchet bowed again. "Sleep well." He turned and stalked off into the night, vanishing as suddenly as he'd appeared.
For a moment, Wryler wondered if he'd dreamed the entire thing. His body certainly didn't think so.
Giveaway: Win a ebook copy of To Catch a Threeve by Alexis Duran and a $10 Loose ID gift card
About the Author
Alexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing. She's worked in museums, finance, film production and for several performing arts organizations. Her favorite job so far has been inventorying the collection of a haunted Victorian Mansion. She is the author of the Masters and Mages and Edge of Night m/m fantasy series as well as several stand-alone romances. Her fiction has won several awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference and First Runner Up from Love Romances Cafe. She lives with one dog and four and a half cats.
She is always working on the next novel and has several new ideas brewing at all times.
You can connect with Alexis at