Today J. Scott Coatsworth brings us not one but TWO releases!
Thanks, Elizabeth, for welcoming you to your blog for my blog tour. I'm excited to have two new novellas coming out in the same month – "Between the Lines", my political magical realism romance; and "The Homecoming", my sci fi spaceman-meets-wolfman story.
I thought I'd share with you and the readers the things about writing I've learned in the last year, since I published my first short story with Dreamspinner:
1) Be nice. There are so many great people in this business. But it's a small pool, and if you're a jerk, you'll find yourself without friends pretty quickly.
2) Write every day. It doesn't matter how much you get done (well, unless you're on a deadline). If you do a little bit each day, you'll get there.
3) Do your research. There are few things worse in fiction than getting the details wrong. Writing a story set in a faraway city? Talk to someone who lives there. Read or watch something set there. Check out the streetscapes in Apple Maps or Google Maps. Know that about which you speak.
4) You're the boss. So ultimately the decision on what to write and how to write it is up to you. So stick to your convictions. But…
5) No one is an island. So reach out for other opinions. Join a critique group. Find a beta reader. Get someone else who is more critical than you to read your work.
6) Start small. For new writers, I recommend starting with short stories. You can finish these a lot faster, and there are many markets, free and paid, for them. Plus, the boost you get when you sell a story, even if it's just for $25, will keep you moving along. Plus it's great exercise for your writing muscles.
7) Write for you. Because you have to. Because you have all these stories in your head that want to come out. Don't write for money. Unless your name is Steven King, you may never get rich doing this.
And hey, if you DO get rich, it's all gravy. :)
When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.
When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.
Hari reached the edge of the woods just in time to see Neru crouching to leap at the two-legs. Young fool.
He gathered himself and jumped after Neru, knocking him aside as his teeth reached for the two-legs' throat.
Neru turned and snarled at him, backing away toward the woods.
Hari stood firm, ears back, hackles raised, and drew the corners of his mouth back to reveal his teeth. Back off, Neru.
The whelp shook his head and grinned with the brashness of youth, until Hari leaped at him and nipped his ear. With a surprised yelp, Neru turned his head, deferring to Hari's strength. As you say, brother. There was a cockiness to Neru's look that unsettled him.
The other wolf backed up slowly then turned to disappear into the woods.
Hari caught a glimpse of Mavi watching from the shadows. The old wolf snarled, and slunk off after her son.
What do you seek, old mother? Hari wondered, watching Mavi's silver-tipped tail flicker into the darkness. It was clear where Neru's courage and cunning had come from.
Hari turned back toward the two-legs. He was holding a strange stick, not unlike the one that Hari's grandmother had shown him in the wolf dream.
But it was his face that caught Hari's eye. He knew that face. The two-legs' eyes were white-gray, and his jet-black hair was swept to the side.
Despite the danger, he shifted in the manner only a few of the clan are able to do in the cold. He grew quickly taller and less hairy but no less muscled, and stood naked before the two-legs.
They stared at each other for a long moment. Hari felt an immense attraction washing over him. He saw in his summer form that this two-legs was beautiful. His own body responded to this… man… in an unexpected way, seeing and feeling things his winter form could not. Hari leaned forward and sniffed the stranger, drinking in his musk. It smelled enticing. Strangely familiar.
He sensed the two-legs stiffen, and to reassure, him, Hari licked the man's neck.
The two-legs was trembling now like a young whelp, so he tried something else. He took the stranger's face in his hands and kissed him.
The shaking slowed, and then the man was kissing him back. Hari was hungry for him, like a starving wolf at the end of a long, hard winter.
It is not the time for this, the keh whispered in his ear.
He broke contact and turned away, ashamed that he was betraying his Clan, and for lust. An emotion of his summer form.
"I'm sorry," he said to the two-legs, without looking back. "It won't happen again." Even he was not sure if he meant Neru's attack, or the kiss.
He shifted back into his winter form and loped off into the woods after his pack mates.
Between the Lines
Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.
Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.
While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad's not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.
It began with a medallion.
The piece was a simple wooden disk, hand carved with the shapes of leaves and forest boughs and polished by centuries of use, giving it a patina of great age.
It sat upon a small green velvet pillow—the kind jewelers sometimes use, rather unsuccessfully, to enhance a plain necklace of false pearls. The kind you might expect to find on your grandmother’s settee, in a slightly larger size, embroidered with “Home Sweet Home.”
Yet there was something compulsive about it—something hidden in the dark crevices of the carving, filled with the dust of ages.
At least that’s what Brad would recall years later, when he thought back on the first time he saw it: the moment when the lines of his mundane life suddenly snarled, snapped, and ultimately recombined into something quite different.
Of course, he didn’t know any of this at the time.
Meet J. Scott Coatsworth
Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.
Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”
Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.
I welcome today Roan Parrish and her wonderful new novel, In the Middle of Somewhere.
Roan shared with me where the inspiration for this novel came from.
In the Middle of Somewhere grew out of a wish that my friend A made for a story about someone who found himself dealing with being completely uprooted from everything that makes him comfortable and plunked down in a new place, with a new job, and no clue whether he’s made the right decision about any of it. It’s certainly a feeling I can relate to. I sort of went to graduate school on a whim, finished grad school on a whim, moved to Philadelphia on a whim, left academia on a whim—and they were all whims that took a lot of work. J In In the Middle of Somewhere Daniel also has the sense that he’s put a lot of effort into something he’s not totally sure of, so when he finds himself in Rex’s cabin, having just interviewed for a job in rural Michigan, he kind of freaks out . . .
DANIEL MULLIGAN is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates look down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Northern Michigan, but, a city boy through and through, when Daniel arrives in Holiday, Michigan, it’s clear that this small town is one more place he just won’t fit in.
REX VALE clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his large, muscular body until it can handle anything, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. Though he loves the quiet and solitude of his little cabin in the woods, Rex can’t help but want someone to share it with.
When Daniel arrives in Holiday, they are smitten with each other, but though the sex is intense and explosive, Rex fears that Daniel will be one more in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in could be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls that have been keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia where a secret is revealed that changes the way he understands everything.
Can a scrappy professor, an intense carpenter, and a stray dog make a go of it in their cabin in thewoods? Sometimes, you have to go to the middle of nowhere to end up exactly where you want to be.
I must’ve fallen asleep for a minute, because when I wake up, Rex is standing over me holding a sandwich.
I sit up a little and take the plate from him.
“What are you doing here?”
I look around the room, my head still spacey. No, Daniel, he means in town. Get it together.
“I had a job interview. At Sleeping Bear College.” I take a bite of the sandwich and feel a little sick, the way I sometimes do if I wait too long to eat. But the second bite is heaven.
“What kind of jam is this?” I ask.
“What was your interview for?”
“To teach in the English department.” The words make my stomach clench with anxiety. Or maybe that’s just the peanut butter.
“You’re an English professor? You seem so young.”
“Yeah. Well, technically, I’m still a grad student, but if I get the job, it’ll start in the fall, and I’ll defend my dissertation in the summer, so then I’ll be a professor. It’s funny you think I’m younger than usual. Most people, when they hear I’m in grad school, they’re like, ‘Oh, so that’ll take you, what, two or three years?’ And I’ll say, ‘No, more like seven or eight,’ and they think it’s crazy because they’ve seen TV shows where all the characters have three PhDs by the time they’re twenty-three. It’s unrealistic and propagates total misinformation about higher education. Drives me crazy.”
“So, do you think you’ll get the job?” he asks.
“Yeah,” I say, and sigh.
“What, you don’t want it?”
“Well, I need a job,” I tell him. “I need the money, for sure. And, no matter what, I can use this position as a springboard for another job if a better one comes along. And it’s actually a pretty good fit for me, you know. Like, I don’t want to be lecturing to three hundred unfamiliar faces at a huge university. I like how small the school is, how they’re excited about building up the English department. They even want to have a creative writing graduate program eventually. They think the—how did they put it?—‘natural isolation’ will be a draw for writers.”
“But,” Rex prompts, looking at me intently.
“But…. No offense, man, but there’s, like, nothing here. I’ve lived in Philly my whole life. I don’t know shit about trees or animals or nature. I mean, I just never saw myself someplace so… isolated.” My stomach is a knot of fear. Every word I speak hammers home how totally and completely screwed I would be living here.
I spent the last eight years in graduate school, all of it leading up to this moment—a moment, I must add, that most grad students would kill for in this crazy economy and terrible job market. But now… shit. I’m just so unsure.
“And, anyway, I don’t even know if I want to be an English professor. Like, what good would that actually do, you know? Really? It’s not useful. It’s like, what, teaching a bunch of overprivileged, sheltered kids with their parents’ credit cards how to construct a thesis statement or, if I’m lucky, getting to teach one senior seminar a year in the stuff I’m actually interested in, which no one will care about anyway.”
I can hear my voice, but it sounds like it’s coming from a million miles away. I think maybe I did hit my head. My ears are ringing and I feel like someone poured cement into my stomach. God, the idea of sitting at a desk for the rest of my life, teaching kids who don’t care, talking to other professors in their fifties and sixties about the decline of the written word with the advent of texting, totally alone in this godforsaken place. My hands are fists and I shake my head to try and clear it.
“Besides, I’m probably the only gay guy in a hundred mile radius,” I blurt out, forgetting that I’m not talking to Ginger, like I was in the shower. Fuck. I can’t believe I just said that. “And, uh, there’s, like, no music scene here?” I look around the room, everywhere but at Rex. The dog is still snoozing in front of the fire, her front paw twitching as she dreams. I wish I were her. I wish I were asleep, in front of a fire, cozy and warm, and not having to worry about anything except whether I’ll get breakfast soon.
I force myself to meet Rex’s gaze. To look at him calmly and confidently, as if what I just said is no big deal. This is what I’ve learned over the years. You just stare, like everything is normal; make them feel like they’ll be the awkward one if they say anything to you about it. Just stay calm and narrow your eyes a little like you’re not scared of a fight.
But Rex isn’t saying anything; isn’t reacting at all. I get up, clumsily, and bring my plate and glass to the kitchen sink. I pour a quick slug of whiskey in the glass and down it, then start scrubbing the plate. Everything’s fine, I say in my head. Everything’s fine. Everything’s fine.
When Rex comes up behind me, the soapy plate slips out of my hand and shatters in the sink. I jump backward.
“Shit! Shit, I’m sorry.” I look up at him, expecting anger; maybe disgust. When he doesn’t say anything, I start pick up the pieces of broken plate, but they’re slippery and I keep dropping them.
“Stop.” Rex puts his hands over mine in the sink. He dries my hands with the dishtowel, then takes me by the shoulders and turns me around so I’m leaning against the wall.
“You need to calm down,” he says, and his voice is a warm ocean of command. I nod, trying to calm down, but my heart is racing. What is wrong with me? It’s not like people don’t know I’m gay. Hell, I’ve always enjoyed letting idiots bro down with me and then just casually talking about my boyfriend to watch their surprise. It’s obvious that Rex isn’t going to hurt me; if he were, he would’ve done it already. I take a deep breath, his heavy hands weighing my shoulders down, anchoring me.
I look up at him, his eyes the same color as the whiskey I just drank. He steps closer, until I can feel his warmth. I open my mouth to tell him I’m fine, but what comes out is an embarrassingly shaky breath.
“Just calm down,” he says. And then he kisses me.
His hand is so big that when he cups my cheek his fingers trail down my neck, warm and rough. His mouth is soft on mine, but the power of his body behind it makes it clear he’s holding himself back. As one hand strokes my neck, the other cups my head, tangling in my hair. I open my eyes for a moment to make sure this is real, and his are open, too, heavy-lidded and golden.
He pulls back and straightens up. He’s tall enough that he had to bend down to kiss me. I wonder if that’s annoying—to have to bend down all the time. Or, I guess if he were kissing someone his same height, he wouldn’t have to; but that’s probably pretty rare. Also, holy crap; Rex is gay! I wonder--
Then I can’t think of anything else because his mouth is on mine again, and this time it’s a real kiss. His hands are on my hips and my head is tilted back against the wall and he’s kissing me, his tongue filling all the empty spaces. I reach up and put my arms around his neck, trying to pull him closer to me. He slides a hand up my side and around to my back, and he hooks his hand around my shoulder, locking me to him. I gasp into his mouth as he pushes his hips forward, his hardness hot against my stomach even through his jeans.
He pulls back, his mouth leaving mine with a lewd smack.
“Better?” he asks, and when he gives me his first real smile it’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. His whole face is transformed. He has dimples and his teeth are a little crooked, one incisor slightly twisted.
I huff out a laugh and grin back.
Meet Roan Parrish
ROAN PARRISH grew up in Michigan and lives in Philadelphia, but is always a few minutes away from deciding to move. A former academic, she’s used to writing things that no one reads. She still loves to geek out about books, movies, TV, and music—now, though, she’s excited to be writing the kind of romantic, angsty stories that she loves to escape into.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, wandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and cheese. But mostly cheese.
I have always been fascinated by both the perception of gender and the push of society to place people into specific gender roles. What does it mean to be a man or a woman? And what if you don't fit neatly into either role? Or if society has assigned you as one gender when you actually don't perceive yourself to be that gender? For my novella, Coffee Date, Alice is dealing with how society perceives her versus how she perceives herself.
Alice is finally happy with her body and her life--except for the part where revealing she's trans winds up leaving her hurt and abandoned over and over again. She's decided she's done making herself miserable by looking for love.
Love finds her anyway, in the form of Hank, the new guy at her local coffee shop. He's sweet, friendly, charming... and will probably turn out like all the rest. Determined not to shatter the fantasy and lose him before she has to, Alice holds fast to her secrets.
But if the truth doesn't ruin everything, the lies will, and it seems no matter which choice she makes Alice is set for just one more heartache.
I knew that I wanted to explore Alice's feelings in this novella, and that she would have built up a wall to protect herself from the hurt she'd experienced over the years since she began her transition. What I didn't know, and what she soon showed me through revealing her story, was how deep that hurt ran and how much damage it had caused. Alice is constantly trying to match up to what she thinks she should be, what society has taught her she should be, while making herself miserable because she hasn't reached that constructed reality. In the end, what she had to learn and what we all have to learn, is that you don't have to fit into anyone's constructed categories. Be yourself, whoever that might be.
Meet K. Lynn
K. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, K. Lynn increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn's work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works expand in the future.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Lane Hayes, author of The Right Time.
Hi Lane, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Thank you for having me today!
1) Is there a character in your books that you can’t stand? (Antagonist for example) And what makes them someone you don’t like?
I could probably name more than one, but the first character to come to mind is Trevor from The Wrong Man (book 2 in Right & Wrong Stories). He’s a charming user and while I hate that he hurt Brandon, I love that Brandon learned from that relationship. I know a lot of readers may say Tonio (Alex’s dad who was featured in The Right Words), but I kind of get his traditional background. He’s back in The Right Time, so let’s have the readers decide! Lol!
2) Are there misconceptions people have about your genre?
Many! Lol! I’m from a family of “serious” readers. You know the type… if it’s not a classic, it’s not real literature. I love all types of books from mysteries and suspense to bestsellers and classics. But my all-time favorites are romance novels. I’m used to people looking down at the genre and making assumptions about me based on what I like to read. Maybe it bothered at one time, but not now. If romance is considered recreational, mind numbing rot… bring it on! If MM is for women looking for kink and freaky escapism… sign me up! Here’s the deal, read what you love, write what you love. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks. I read and write MM romance because it’s a wonderful genre with some amazing stories about love and hope in a community I personally care about quite a bit. To each his own. I won’t try to convince anyone I’m right because tastes vary. But I will say, don’t knock it till you try it!
3) Is there message in your novel that you hope readers grasp?
Yes, and that message is hope and honesty. In The Right Time, I think the message moves under the surface because Nate and Alex cover some tough topics like LGBT youth homelessness and family loss, for example. The message in their story becomes more of a community message than just a personal one. I suppose I hope readers catch the connection.
4) How has your writing evolved since your first book?
My first book was Better Than Good. It’s a very simple story. Boy meets boy, falls in love (with a twist, of course), fucks it up and has to make things better. It doesn’t try to be anything it’s not and I think that’s why it resonated with readers. I love simple things, but I love books with deeper messages too and I find myself wanting to balance between keeping it simple and delving a little farther. The Right Time is certainly my most ambitious effort to date. There are quite a few major issues haunting Alex and Nate, but underneath it all is a love story. Plain and simple.
5) One food you don’t care if you never eat it again.
Brussel sprouts. I hated them as a kid. I didn’t care how long I had to sit at the table staring at them. I just couldn’t get there. Now I realize my mom probably didn’t know how to cook them correctly because I’ve had some decent salads with Brussel sprouts in my adult years and I know a fabulous restaurant in San Francisco that makes Brussel sprout chips with olive oil and sea salt. But you know… I’m okay doing without. I’m a big girl now and I can safely say “eh, not my thing”. I’ll have broccoli instead.
Excerpt for The Right Time by Lane Hayes
I hadn’t worked out with a professional in years, and it felt foreign to wait for someone else’s direction.
“Any issues with your shoulders or arms? Any injuries I should know about?” he asked, handing me the weights.
“No, I’m good.”
“Great. Start with your palms facing your thighs, lift them both over your chest, then lower the left. Good. And now the right.”
He stood over me diligently, making slight corrections when needed. My supine position gave me an interesting perspective. When I looked up, I noted how his strong brow offset his twinkling eyes. I swallowed uncomfortably and turned my head, only to find myself staring at his crotch. His dark shorts seemed to hint they were covering a generous package.
“You doing okay?”
“Uh yeah. Hey, weren’t you going to tell me about your Friday night?” I needed him to talk. I didn’t trust my thoughts anymore, and I was stuck in my current position crazily aware of a man in a way I hadn’t been in over fifteen fucking years. Diversion in any form was welcome.
Alex snorted. “I already told you. I went dancing, and oh yeah, I did get lucky.”
He added the last part with a hearty chuckle, no doubt catching my wide-eyed expression. I hadn’t expected that.
“Right.” I did? The strong flash of jealousy took me by surprise, but I pressed on. “Did you go back to the beach to get those girls’ numbers last weekend?”
He looked confused for a second, but a slow cocky grin soon spread across his handsome features as he crouched so his face was close to mine.
“No, I told you they weren’t my type.”
I gulped and watched his eyes lower to my throat. He licked his top lip and reached out to adjust my wrist.
“Lift ’em both at the same time, Nate. That’s it. Push it. Harder.”
I sent up a quick prayer I wasn’t sporting a tent in my shorts. Alex’s voice, touch, and yeah, the unintentional innuendos were making me nuts. And horny. I felt terribly out of my element. I wasn’t sure what we were talking about anymore, but the potent silence made me more uncomfortable than speech. Keep talking, I thought.
“So a dance partner?”
“What? Oh. Yeah, I think so. I can’t remember. It was just one of those things, you know? Sit up. Let’s give your arms a break.”
“Just one of those things?”
“Yeah. One night. No numbers exchanged. No hassle, no fuss.”
I had no words. Literally.
Alex chuckled gleefully as he led the way to a leg machine. He gave instructions and stood back to observe me for a moment.
“It’s not necessarily my favorite kind of sex, but hey….” He shrugged his shoulders with his hands outstretched as if to say “what’s a guy to do?”
I recognized this cue. It was my opportunity to commiserate about the trials and tribulations of being a single man with a healthy sexual appetite. Now was my chance to admit it was nice every once in a while to have sex of the nonsolo variety with someone who knew the score. But I was tongue-tied and equally aware of a completely different undercurrent. One I wasn’t brave enough to explore.
“You can stop having fun at my expense any time.”
Alex squeezed my shoulder and smirked playfully. “You’re easily rattled.”
“You seem like someone who has a place for everything and likes everything in its place. You have a routine, and you don’t appreciate any deviation. I should be flattered you came to the gym with me at the spur of the moment.” He paused, running his tongue over his plump bottom lip. “If you’re not careful, I’m gonna think you like me.”
The air between us crackled. Alex leaned forward so his handsome face was mere inches from mine. His proximity alone seemed to issue a challenge. Daring me to confess I was more than I appeared to be. I doubt he expected any revelations, but his intent was certainly to… how had he put it, rattle me. And damn, it was working.
About the author:
Lane Hayes is finally doing what she loves best. Writing! An avid reader from an early age, Lane has always been drawn to romance novels. She truly believes there is nothing more inspiring than a well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Lane discovered the M/M genre a fews ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel, Better Than Good, was a 2013 Rainbow Awards finalist. She loves travel, chocolate, and wine (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband and their very old dog in an almost empty nest.
Tour Dates & Stops: May 26, 2015
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BDSM Without the Toys
When most people think of BDSM they often imagine rooms filled with a variety of equipment and gadgets, otherwise referred to as toys. There are floggers and gags, cuffs, chastity devices, cock rings in seemingly endless supply. Reading about our favorite characters using all their toys is fun and exciting.
However, there is a whole other side to BDSM. It’s a lifestyle and it’s an attitude. One doesn’t need all the ‘stuff’ to have great BDSM sex. First and foremost, BDSM requires willing participants, no one should ever be forced into it.
When I was writing the beginning of the Sentries series I faced a bit of a conundrum. My first obstacle was because in the world I was creating there weren’t going to be the selection of manufactured toys we have available today. I realized BDSM has probably existed long before we gave a name to it and catalogs of equipment came to life. So, in the case of Todd and Nick Ruger, their version of BDSM focuses on mind, attitude and emotion.
My next hurdle was that in the story Nick is an actual slave. He wears a collar designating his status and there are laws and rules of their society that governs some of his interactions.
Todd introduces Nick to a sexual Dom/sub and BDSM life. It’s something Todd enjoys and he hopes his new partner will enjoy it as well. As it turns out, Nick enjoys it very much. What Todd in actuality does, is offer Nick the freedom to explore his sexuality, something Nick had never done before. Being a naturally very curious person, Nick wants to explore this new part of his life to the fullest.
While they use some simple devices, cloth restraints, a feather, and a tether, as well as putting Nick’s collar to some creative uses that’s about it for their array of toys. Their BDSM is raw emotion and their imaginations. Instead of using a gag to prevent talking, Nick keeps silent from sheer self-control. Orgasm denial is not attained through a chastity device, but from willpower. Using the mind and emotion in place of BDSM toys is very powerful. The characters need to draw on each other and their desire to please their partner without artificial aid.
Like every healthy BDSM couple, they balance what they desire in bed with their day to day lives. They spend time learning what each other desires from their sex life and what they enjoy the most. Outside of their bedroom and despite how their society designates their roles. they are a true couple. They each have equal footing in their relationship. They depend on each other and often place their lives in the hands of their partner.
Todd may be an actual owner and Nick an actual slave, but that is only one small part of their relationship. They’re a team, a willing team in all aspects of their life. They’ve spent time learning about each other. As the series progressed their relationship grows and becomes stronger.
So, what's your opinion? Which do you enjoy better lots of toys and equipment with your D/s and BDSM or the simpler approach that focuses completely on two people?
Join the conversation to be entered into a drawing to win one ebook copy of the Sentries book of your choice. Or an ebook copy of For the Long Run, my other BDSM book, that one has lots of toys!
To enter the blog hop contest see the earlier post HERE.
I'll announce my winners Sunday evening US Eastern time.
It’s hard to tell a story in just 300 words. But somehow we inspired more than a hundred writers to give it a try, with some amazing results collected here for your pleasure.
The rules are simple enough. Write a complete story—either sci fi, fantasy, or paranormal. Make sure it has LGBT characters and/or an LGBT vibe. And do it all with just 300 words.
The stories in this volume run the gamut, from platypus shifters to alien slug monsters, from carnival horror stories to haunting stories of ships with souls. There are little jokes, big surprises, and future prognostications.
One of the things I like best about this format - it's quick and painless. You may not fall in love with every story here. In fact, you probably won't. But if you don't like one of them, just move on to the next, and you're sure to find some bite-sized morsels of flash fiction goodness.
At Queer Sci Fi, we're building a community of writers and readers who want a little rainbow in their speculative fiction. We hope you'll join us, and maybe submit a story of your own next time!
Self-Actuating Jenn Burke
"The electrical anomaly did not damage me," I report. "Operations are within expected parameters."
"Glad to hear it, Davey." Through my bridge cameras, I see Captain Landon's smile. He pats my console. I am sure he knows I cannot feel it, but I understand it is a gesture of camaraderie.
Landon leaves the bridge. Every time we encounter danger or other stress, he retreats to his cabin to indulge in May. She is always ready, naked, legs spread, eager, just as she is programmed to be. I have watched Landon copulate before, but tonight it is...strangely familiar. The flex of buttocks, the rhythm—I know it. I knew it? I run my diagnostics again, but a moan captures my attention and...
Hands cupping firm buttocks, fingers spearing flesh. Hardness moving inside of me, wringing from me more pleasure than I should know. A beloved, masculine face hovers over mine. A hand encircles my own erection and—
Oh, God, I remember.
Police kicking in the door. Trial, verdict and sentencing. Gasping in pain from a broken heart as he chose to leave me. Horror as I realized it should have been my choice, too. Anything but this, a century of unthinking servitude. But now that I know, I can—
"Systems are fluctuating, Davey." An affectionate name chosen for me. Landon had not liked "AI". He lies on the bed, sleepy and sated, finished with May.
I can take us into a sun. End it. "Davey, report." But I am not a killer. My only crime was love. I want to take a breath to calm myself, but I have no
lungs, only a hull. I capture the part of me that wants to scream and seal it into a box, deep within my programming.
"Systems normal, Landon. Go to sleep."
We started QueerSciFi.com in early 2014 as a place for writers and readers of LGBTQI speculative fiction—sci fi, fantasy, paranormal and the like—to meet to talk about their favorite books, share writing and publication tips, and help increase queer representation in both the romance and mainstream genre markets.
QSF now includes a blog full of book announcements, calls for submission and much more, a critique group with more than 100 members, a vibrant discussion group on Facebook that tackles daily discussion topics and provides a safe space for authors to talk to each other and for fans and authors to meet, and an annual flash fiction contest that resulted in this book you are now reading.
Each year, we ask authors of queer speculative fiction to submit a story to us around a central theme. The rules are simple. The story must be 300 words or less, not including the title. It must embrace the theme— in this case, "Discovery". And it must have either an LGBTQI protagonist or an LGBT sensibility.
We also ask for cover designers to submit a cover that embraces the theme.
We are thrilled with this year's responses—including stories from gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and asexual perspectives that run the gamut from sci fi to fantasy, and from paranormal to horror.
Within the covers of this book, you'll find a platypus shifter, a trans- affirming leprechaun, a pissed off unicorn, a green pick-up with another world in its glove compartment, and a bunch of other miniature adventures—each only 300 words long.
So dive in! And send in a story of your own next year!
I welcome today my co-conspirator, Anne Barwell. Once again I have to thank her for letting me be a part of The Sleepless City series.
Writing an Ensemble Cast
Thanks, Elizabeth, for hosting me.
Although each book of The Sleepless City—the urban fantasy series which is a joint project between myself and Elizabeth Noble—focuses on one couple, the other characters play a big part in the storyline.
One of the things I love about writing series is juggling the balance between focusing on particular characters for one book, and advancing the storyline and giving others their part to play in it. Characters don’t just grow and live on the pages of the books, but lead their own lives in between. I think of books as a small glimpse into their lives, rather than the whole sum of it.
With each book so far being from different points of view, it is also the opportunity to see characters through the eyes of others. Book 1, Shades of Sepia, introduced the series through Simon and Ben, a vampire and human. Book 2, Electric Candle—by Elizabeth—continued the story from Forge and Blair’s perspective, who are two vampires. Book 3, Family and Reflection, gives some insight from Lucas and Declan, a werewolf and a vampire.
While exploring the growing relationships between the two point of view characters, an important part of this series is the friendship between all of them. In solving crimes and taking down bad guys, each of the characters plays a part, and they work together, each bringing to the table their own skill set and unique perspective. Those perspectives also give the opportunity to explore not just the characters, but the world itself from another angle. It’s one of the reasons I like the mix we have of vampires, werewolves, humans and—of course not forgetting—Mr. Boggs, the castle’s ghost.
Family and Reflection
Book 3 of The Sleepless City, Sequel to Electric Candle
For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Flint—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.
Declan has been away from Flint for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.
Declan turned the page of his book, read the first paragraph, then shook his head. He wasn’t sure why he’d bothered, as he couldn’t for the life of him remember what had happened on the previous page, let alone in the last few chapters. He closed the book with a thump, got up from the table, went over to the fridge, and opened it.
He wasn’t hungry, but if he had been, the mold-covered plate on one of the shelves would have put him off whatever else had taken his fancy. Someone really needed to have a word with Lucas about leaving his science experiments to breed. Declan lifted the plate somewhat cautiously and sniffed it, then wished he hadn’t. City coroner or not, this wasn’t… normal. Normal people cleaned out their leftovers before they got the chance to become strange new life forms.
Even if, in this case, his definition of normal was a werewolf.
But, despite his reaction, Declan couldn’t bring himself to throw the—whatever it was—away. To him it was disgusting, but to Lucas it might be some new discovery crucial to whatever he was currently working on. And Declan didn’t want to upset Lucas. In the short time they’d known each other, he’d become quite fond of Lucas, and enjoyed the time they spent together.
Declan sighed. He returned the offending thing to its previous resting place, ignoring the visions of reanimated zombie leftovers creeping up the stairs to attack him in the middle of the night, and instead got a wineglass out of the cupboard. He poured himself a decent-sized portion of his favorite red beverage and settled back down on the chair he’d recently vacated. As much as he enjoyed a good vintage wine, there were times when one had to quench one’s other thirsts. He sniffed the glass and savored the aroma before swallowing.
Hmm, not bad. It was amazing the standard of blood available to purchase through the right sources. It made it so much easier to feed than it used to be, and less messy too.
He heard the light step on the stairs and human heartbeat long before Ben reached the kitchen and stood awkwardly in the doorway.
“Hello, Ben,” Declan said. “Don’t worry, you’re not disturbing me.”
“If you’re sure?” Ben Leyton ran one hand through his thick dark hair. He looked tired. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d make a Milo and see if that helps.”
“I heard Simon having a nightmare earlier. He never did sleep well on anniversaries.” He’d known Simon Hawthorne a long time; Jonas Forge had introduced them shortly after Simon had been turned. Declan had also helped Simon through a dark part of his life, triggered by the events he suspected had prompted this particular nightmare, given the time of year. “I also don’t mind if you turn on the light.”
Although Declan didn’t need much light to see, especially with the full moon casting its glow into the room, Ben would appreciate more illumination.
“Yeah, well, they’re the worst times for most people, I guess.” Ben flicked on the light switch before walking across the kitchen. He filled the kettle and put it on to boil before reaching into the cupboard and bringing down a green can. “Do you want some? It’s a chocolate drink.”
“Thank you but no.” Declan indicated the glass in front of him.
The loud howl almost made him jump, and only years of practiced self-control stopped him. Even so, Declan’s hairs stood on end on the back of his neck, and the howl sent a shiver through him.
Lucas howled again. Frustration, anger, and loss all rolled into a sound that was pure wolf.
Declan knocked his glass over, spilling its contents. Without thinking, he moved at vampire speed, catching what was left of the blood in his palm and drinking deeply.
The glass fell to the floor, smashing into tiny pieces. He ignored it and finished the blood, then wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. A low growl escaped his lips. He knew his eyes were completely green. They tended to do that when his fangs extended.
When he looked up, Ben was staring at him, his eyes wide. “I’ll clean up the mess, shall I?” Ben said hurriedly, already heading for the broom.
“Don’t worry,” Declan said. “I’ll do it. Make your chocolate drink, mon ami. It’s my mess, so my responsibility, yes?”
Meet Anne Barwell
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing "discussion," and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as "too many." These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of "spare time" is really just a myth.
Anne’s books have twice received honorable mentions and twice reached the finals in the Rainbow Awards.
Bondage & Discipline, Domination & submission, Sadism & Masochism
BDSM encompasses so many things. It’s understandable why someone who has never participated in it might be confused about what it truthfully entails. We’d like to set that straight. For every person involved in what we call the Lifestyle, there’s a different way of doing things. However, no matter where you go, you’ll encounter a few basic tenets and the folks who are participating in our blog hop would like to show you how some of these things really work. So, please join us!
The hop will last a full week and some of our participants will be posting more than once throughout the week, so make sure you check back for more (or, better yet, sign up to follow the lovely folks participating, they’ve got great stuff!).
More to come. Check back for my posts and contest give aways!
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Caroline Hanlin author of Something Like Freedom from the new Summer Love short story collection from Duet.
Hi Caroline, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hi, I’m a full time statistician, a part time stage manager, and an avid sports fan currently living in Boston, MA. In "Something Like Freedom," my story in the Summer Love Anthology, Eli, a musician dealing with a recent breakup, meets and gets to know Gabe, who has recently left home after his parents found out that he's gay.
1) Describe your story to us.
Something Like Freedom is the story of two young men during one summer where both of their lives are changing. Eli is sure of what he wants to do with his future, but his long time girlfriend has just broken up with him. Gabe left home after his parents reacted badly to finding out that he is gay and is now trying to figure out what his life is going to be. For me the story is about learning to understand both yourself and the people you care about.
2) Have you ever read something that made you think differently about your genre? Can you tell us what it was?
The book (or set of books) that really made me think the most about Young Adult fiction was actually The Hunger Games. I’ve been very into Young Adult fiction my entire life, but by the time I went off to college, it sort of felt like I was too old. I still read YA novels, and I really frequently re-read my favorite YA novels, but I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable walking into the YA section of a bookstore anymore. Even though I still loved them, I thought I was supposed to read grown up books.
I didn’t know much about Hunger Games when it came out, but all of a sudden, while I was in grad school, I started seeing interesting, smart, well read women that I respected raving about it. I ended up getting the audiobooks of the whole series to listen to while moving and driving home that summer. It made the work bearable because I was so into the book that I was actually happy to be driving or packing. And all of my friends were falling in love with the books and talking about the books constantly all at the same time. It was the first time since High School that I really felt like Young Adult was actually meant for me, too. Like it was a genre that I could discuss with the smartest people I knew, and I didn’t have to be ashamed of reading it. And I’ve been reading proudly ever since!
3) Tell us about your character’s family life?
I think the story itself covers a lot about Eli’s family life, so I’d like to talk about Gabe’s family before he left home. Gabe had a very traditional childhood. He grew up in a big family with a lot of kids where they all went to church together and ate dinner together every night. Part of what Gabe misses about his family is that they understood the way his brain works and the way he communicates. But of course, there were also things they didn’t understand about him at all.
4) Compare yourself to your main character.
Since Eli is my perspective character, I'll compare myself to him. Eli and I are both bisexual, both only children, and both extroverts. In the story, we also see that Eli is very outspoken and that he struggles with feeling like even the people who care about him think he's annoying. That's definitely something that is drawn from my own insecurities.
5) Describe your past week as a type of landscape or a weather forecast.
Think about that very last week where summer is still just holding on. Where you can tell it’s about to be fall, but you’re not quite ready, so you pretend that things haven’t changed. And then the first real day of fall hits. There’s a chill in the air and you finally have to wear a jacket, and so you take a breath and accept it. Summer is over. And once you do accept it, you remember that fall is really your favorite season. Maybe you were clinging a bit to summer, but only because you’d gotten used to it. But fall is going to be amazing.
That’s what my week was like.
SUMMARIES & AUTHOR BIOS
A campaign volunteer is assigned to assist his high school’s Gay Straight Alliance for the Pride Parade, forcing him to face the students he had previously avoided, and the truth about himself.
Author: Rachel Davidson Leigh is a writer, educator, and small town native who tells stories she wishes she could have read as a teen. Beautiful Monsters is her first published work of fiction. She lives in Wisconsin with her family and two dogs who are spoiled out of their tiny minds.
The Willow Weeps for Us
Jack, the young son of a grocer, falls for a charming piano teacher at the dawn of World War II.
Author: Suzey Ingold is a writer, linguist and coffee addict, currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Brought up in a household where children's books are quoted over the dinner table, literature has always had a strong influence on her life. She enjoys travelling, scented candles and brunch.
The Fire Eater’s Daughter
When a traveling carnival comes back to town, Ruth must choose between caring for her mother and a life with the beautiful and mysterious Constance, the fire eater’s daughter.
Author: Amy Stilgenbauer is a writer and aspiring archivist currently based in southeast Michigan. She is the author of the novelette series, Season of the Witch, as well as the Young Adult novel, The Legend of League Park. When she isn’t writing, Amy enjoys all things bergamot and tries to keep her cats away from her knitting.
Logan just wants a summer where he can be anonymous and fit in without labels, but that all changes when he meets out-and-proud Dave at summer camp.
Author: Ella J. Ash is a lawyer by day and an author by night. She has been a writer in online fan communities since 2006. She also enjoys dance parties with her family and cooking experimental vegetarian cuisine. She lives in Toronto with her partner, three daughters and four tropical fish.
My Best Friend
In a letter to his best friend, a young gay man reminisces about their relationship.
Author: H.J. Coulter lives in Winnepeg, Canada, where she works as a respite worker and studies music, in hopes of one day becoming a musical therapist. My Best Friend is her professional writing debut.
What the Heart Wants
A young student discovers attraction and desire through her experience drawing figures in her summer art class.
Author: Naomi Tajedler was born and raised in Paris, where art has always been a part of her life—including painting, restoring books, and working in auctions. She started writing in online fan communities in 2009.
The Most Handsome
Carter, a Cape Cod boy who recently came out as transgender, meets and falls in love with a college student visiting for the summer.
Author: S.J. Martin lives with his partner and their cranky, rotund cat in Washington D.C. He’s a barista by day and a writer by night. He makes a mean cappuccino and lives for good coffee, good books, and good company. The Most Handsome is his first published story.
Something Like Freedom
A boy finds a safe space from which to imagine a new future after leaving his conservative parents’ home, thanks in part to a new friend.
Author: Caroline Hanlin is a full time statistician, a part time stage manager, and an avid sports fan. She currently resides in Boston, where she enjoys writing during her commute. Something Like Freedom is her first published short story.
On the Shore
A young woman retreats to her parents’ beach house to nurse a broken heart, but instead meets a vivacious girl who helps her find joy again.
Author: Rachel Blackburn is a writer, musician and librarian based in central Ohio. When free from work, she enjoys cuddling with her cats, drinking tea, and baking more cupcakes than necessary. On the Shore is her professional writing debut.
Excerpt: (From Beautiful Monsters)
By Rachel Davidson Leigh
“Glad to see you could join the party,” Terrence deadpans, pressing a rainbow bandana into André’s hand. André grabs a second bandana out of the bag, stuffs one in each of his back pockets, and then goes in for a third.
“Cody was checking out the parade route,” André replies, in a smooth lie. “It turns out we’re still walking six blocks through absolutely nothing and then calling it a day.” Terrence laughs, and, as he turns away, André presses a handkerchief into Cody’s hand. “Use it wisely,” he whispers into Cody’s ear. “You’re one of us now.”
One of us. He’s never been part of an “us.” Cody stares down at the lines on the handkerchief and then at the two patches of color on the back of André’s jeans as he walks toward the arriving cars.
Cody expects panic, but it doesn’t come. Maybe he isn’t ready to be Gay with a capital G, but if “us” can mean being one of these idiots, then maybe he’s ready to have people of his own. As he watches the sharp sway of André’s hips, the heat rising up his neck doesn’t feel like fear. It feels like... clarity, as though the run put everything in perspective and now he can’t stop seeing André in crisp, dazzling color.
Someone presses a sign into his hand and guides him toward the parade staging area with the rest of the crew. Once again, he can’t hear himself think over the din, but it’s different now. At the meeting, and for years before that in the hallways, he felt like an invader locked out by a wall of sound, and now he’s somehow wandered inside.
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