âIt's been four years since a global pandemic has ravaged the world and almost a year since Mark and Duncan had their fateful meeting at a tiny pharmacy. Duncan has spent that time doing everything he could to ease Mark's fears of losing himâfears that go beyond the normal danger of their new world. When a minister and his wife seek out Mark for help, Duncan sees an opportunity to show Mark another level of commitmentâif Mark will dare to take it.
The world is no longer one we recognize. A pandemic wiped out a huge portion of the worldâs population. On the heels of the pandemic, chaos and anarchy reigned, bringing even more death to the world until barely twenty percent of the population was left.
Mark had to watch a disproportionate number of the pandemic victims near him die. He stood by helpless as his family, friends, and coworkers succumbed to the disease while he survived. Any of us who tried to live through a situation like that would find themselves leery of opening up to others.
For Mark, the pandemic was just the icing on the cake.
For those who have read Healing, theyâre a little more familiar with how Mark got to the point he did with his fear. Having faced abandonment issuesâand never really dealt with themâitâs no wonder watching his friends die was so hard. Add to that the fact that Mark is a nurse, itâs even harder knowing there was nothing he could do for them, or any of his other patients, for that matter. Beyond the pandemic, he came from a broken family with split parentsâwho didnât do as much as they probably could have to make up for the fact that their family was split in two. In fact, Markâs parents end up not even talking much to the kids, much less each other. Their estrangement only started easing right before the pandemic hit, much to Markâs dismay.
If that wasnât enough, Mark was married before the world fell apart. Heâd just come out to his wife Julie, who hadâ¦ not taken the news well. Thus they were all but estranged when the virus happened.
So, for Mark, opening himself up to another person, giving that person the power to hurtâeven through simply leaving, even if it wasnât voluntary on their partâwas huge. He manages, at the end of Healing, to open himself up and lets Duncan in. Despite this step, despite some nine months together, he still has a lot of fear when Overcoming Fear begins. Itâs understandable. Abandonment issues donât disappear overnightâor even after nine months. It can take years with therapy, and Mark certainly doesnât have access to that anymore.
And this is where Mark is when the preacher and his wife find Mark and Duncanâs cabin to ask for help. Heâs still working through his fears, still worries. And if you want to know how well he handles the next stepâ¦ youâll have to read the story. *wink*
Thank you to Elizabeth for giving me space today! I hope you guys enjoyed the little insight into Markâs background. And enjoy Overcoming Fear!
You can find Overcoming Fear at Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited.
Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age â many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children â both the human and furry kind.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.
Queer Sci Fi has just released the annual QSF Flash Fiction anthology. This year, the theme is "Migration."
1) Seasonal movement of animals from one region to another.
2) Movement of people to a new area or country in order to find work or better living conditions.
3) Movement from one part of something to another.
Three definitions to inspire writers around the world and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell. Here are 120 of our favorites.
Migration feaures 300 word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum, from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.
Queer Sci Fi is giving away a $20 gift Amazon certificate with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:
Each year, hundreds of writers send in stories for the Queer Sci Fi flash fiction anthology. Here are the opening lines from some of the stories chosen for the 2019 edition – Migration:
“Darkness has substance. It is tangible; different shades within the black, sounds, a taste. It is accompanied by self-awareness of time and thoughts, even when other senses fail.” —Hope for Charity, by Robyn Walker
“The sky has been screaming for five straight days when the shrimps come to take us away. They’ve been boxing up the others and hauling them off. Now they’re here for us, soaking wet, dragging cords and crates behind them.” —Shrimpanzee, Sionnain Bailey
“Allister always had faultless hair. He’d comb and gel it to perfection while gazing in the mirror. One day a pair of eyes stared back.” —Zulu Finds a Home, by Kevin Klehr
“On her sister’s wedding day Ari noticed that one of her ears had migrated to her hand. It was right after her high school crush, Emily, arrived with Cousin Matt.” —Playing It By Ear, Aidee Ladnier
“The wound was fatal. Their vessel wouldn't live much longer. This is what came from leaving loose ends. Frantically they sought out a new vessel to migrate to. “ —The Essence, by L.M. Brown
“That night, we were sitting in the bed of her daddy’s old pickup truck and the radio was playing the best song. We had a pack of cigarettes between us and her hand was almost touching mine. The wheat field was silver in the moonlight. When they came, we weren’t surprised, just disappointed that our time was up already.” —Our Song, by Lauren Ring
“Willow said she was my wife, but I knew it wasn’t her, not the right her, anyway. Sure she looked like her with olive skin and bright pink hair. She even smelled of mango flowers, just like I remembered, but there was something about her smile that was slightly off, something about when she said she loved me that didn’t sit well in my old heart.” — They Said It Would Be Her, by Elizabeth Andre
“Agnes is eight when she first sees the river. Cutting its way through town, the only thing she knows not coated in coal dust. She sticks her toes in, comes home with wet socks and a secret. See, the river hadn’t been there yesterday.” —Stream of Consciousness, by Ziggy Schutz
“Terry twirled in her green synthsilk dress, looked at her reflection, liked what she saw. She felt good in her own skin, for maybe the first time.” —Altball, by RE Andeen
“The thing was in the corner. It had come through the window and had slid down the wall. Scratch went the sound. The noise of a hundred nails clawing at the wood. Nails of white bone. Alex pulled the sheets up quickly, covering every inch of skin and hair in a warm darkness.” —Whose Nightmare, by Jamie Bonomi
A hundred and twenty authors are included in Migration:
Zulu Finds a Home, by Kevin Klehr
Allister always had faultless hair. He’d comb and gel it to perfection while gazing in the mirror.
One day a pair of eyes stared back.
“Who are you?” he asked.
The tiny green man climbed from his scalp. “I’m Zulu,” he replied. “Can I stay? My planet is dead. I’ll be no trouble. I can dine on your dandruff.”
“I’ll feed you my crumbs if you live in my kitchen.”
“But your hair is like the vegetation on my planet. It feels like home.”
Allister decided it was cool for an alien to live in his hair. No one else had one. He’d be a trendsetter.
The next morning two tiny men stared back.
“This is my lover, Sulu. He’s very quiet. In fact, he’s deaf. He’ll be no trouble.”
Alister agreed to let them stay. He believed in love.
The following day, three glass domes appeared on Allister’s head. Miniature escalators transported people between each of these structures. Crystal buildings sparkled inside the distinct communities, each full of aliens living their lives.
Alister ran to bed and wept.
“What’s the matter,” Zulu yelled, dangling on a strand of hair in front of Allister’s face.
“I can’t go out like this.”
“But you like being a trendsetter.”
Alister didn’t answer. He cried himself to sleep. When he awoke his head felt lighter.
His reflection wore a beret.
“Is this better?” Zulu asked with Sulu by his side. “We’ve changed the molecules from glass to fabric. You can go out into the world and still be a trendsetter.”
So, Allister never worried about his hair. A different hat appeared each day. A beanie. A fedora. A baby bonnet.
No one knew of the tiny society playing, working and breeding on his head.
And Allister made sure he never scratched his scalp.
Louisa Masters has a new contemporary MM romance book out: Out of the Office.
Whoever thought achieving career goals could be boring? Not Duncan Witten, but here he is at forty-one, in his dream job… and hating it. Throw it all away for a challenge? Yes, please!
If only Dunc had known his challenging new job came with Paul Hanks, a man who redefines “stubborn.” They need to work together to meet targets, but thanks to Dunc’s idiot predecessor, Paul won’t take his calls or reply to emails.
There’s only one solution: travel across the country and confront Paul face-to-face. It’s time to take things out of the office.
Louisa is giving away a $20 gift certificate (your choice of Amazon, iBooks, B&N or Kobo). Enter via Rafflecopter:
I deliberately loiter in a coffee shop across the street from the Perth office. I don’t want to arrive early and give Paul time to come up with an escape plan, but there was no way I was risking being late. I take the time to go over my plan again, checking it for any flaw that might have sneaked past my and Krista’s eagle eyes.
There aren’t any. But it’s a great opportunity to implant every detail in my brain while sucking back a coffee.
The shop is only moderately busy—we’re well past the I-just-arrived-at-work-and-desperately-need-a-coffee rush, and not quite at the midmorning coffee break rush. There are a few small groups efficiently combining coffee with a meeting at the tables, and a couple of other loners like me sitting in armchairs, hunched over laptops, but voices are low and there’s not a lot of ambient noise.
So the strident ring of the shop phone gets my attention, and I’m still only half-focused a minute later when one of the staff calls to another, “Paul’s on his way—make his usual, will you?”
There are a lot of Pauls in the world. In fact, there are probably a lot of Pauls currently within a one-block radius. But a guy who phones in his coffee order when he’s on his way is either superefficient or an asshole, and Paul Hanks has been described as both. Plus, this place is the closest to our Perth office, so it makes sense that he’d use it. And the timing is about right for a break before his meeting with me.
I slouch down a little in my seat. There’s no reason to think he knows what I look like, but it feels like the done thing. I mean, if you’re potentially spying on someone, you’re supposed to be all sneaky, right?
I’m just wondering if maybe I’ve been watching too many police procedural TV shows when the door to the street opens and a man walks in.
Remember, I’ve never actually met Paul Hanks before. I’ve seen a picture of him, though—it was from a company party a couple of years ago, in profile, and not terribly clear. But it’s enough for me to recognise him and to marvel at what the picture didn’t show.
He’s fucking huge.
Tall, yes—about six-three, although it’s hard to judge with me sitting down. But it’s more thathe’s built like a brick shithouse. Broad across the shoulders, with a tank for a torso. He’s just solid. I can’t tell with how he’s dressed—chinos and a long-sleeved shirt—if that solid is muscle or fat, but whatever it is, it’s imposing. His face is average—attractive enough, although he’d never win any awards for his looks—and he has a ruddy complexion. His hair is dark blond, in an all-over messy style that makes me think he usually has it quite short and it’s just overgrown.
But the most important detail is his presence. Seriously. He walks in, and it’s like the room is full to bursting. I can’t stop staring. He has serious charisma, but not of the charming variety. It’s more like a force of nature, blasting through all that stands in its way.
In just a few strides, he’s at the counter and accepting the paper cup offered to him.
“Hey, Paul,” the young man behind the register says as he rings up the sale. “How’s the morning?”
“Not as bad as it could be,” he replies, handing over some cash. His voice is deep enough to stir something carnal in me—I’ve always been a sucker for a deep voice. I shift slightly, reminding myself that I’m not here for that, that I cannot jeopardisemy one chance to get him on sideby letting my sexual urges get in the way.
He’s not even that good-looking. It’s a stupid, petty attempt to convince myself, even if it is true. I’ve met better-looking guys—hell, one of my exes was so fucking hot that people on the street would turn to watch him walk past. Just because Paul is built, has an amazing voice, and can’t stand me (we’ve talked about how I love a challenge, right?) doesn’t mean I should think of him that way.
And yes, he’s gay. I’m not engaging in pointless fantasy here. Well, I am, but not for that reason. Paul being gayis one of the worst-kept secrets in our incestuous, gossipy industry. He managed to keep it under wraps when he was a site engineer, but once he transitioned to mostly working in the office, it came out—no pun intended. He doesn’t advertise, but enough people know that it’s not a secret. He’s been in the industry long enough, and earned the respect of enough people, that it’s not an issue. From what I’ve heard, there’s occasionally some fuckwit on a site who tries to make something of it, but they get shouted down pretty quick.
Paul finishes his transaction and leaves, and I take my first real breath since he walked in.
Okay. It’s gotime.
Louisa Masters started reading romance much earlier than her mother thought she should. While other teenagers were sneaking out of the house, Louisa was sneaking romance novels in and working out how to read them without being discovered. She’s spent most of her life feeling sorry for people who don’t read, convinced that books are the solution to every problem.
As an adult, she feeds her addiction in every spare second, only occasionally tearing herself away to do things like answer the phone and pay bills. She spent years trying to build a “sensible” career, working in bookstores, recruitment, resource management, administration, and as a travel agent, before finally conceding defeat and devoting herself to the world of romance novels.
Louisa has a long list of places first discovered in books that she wants to visit, and every so often she overcomes her loathing of jet lag and takes a trip that charges her imagination. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she whines about the weather for most of the year while secretly admitting she’ll probably never move.
Author Website: https://www.louisamasters.com
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Interview with Paul Hanks
Louisa: Hey, everybody! Thanks for coming on tour with us. Today I’ve finally gotten Mr. Stubborn himself, Paul Hanks, to agree to a chat. Say hi, Paul!
Paul: Hi. Can we move this along? I’ve got shit to do.
Louisa: Aren’t you charming. Don’t you want to tell us about yourself?
Paul: *incredulous look*
Louisa: Right. What was I thinking. So, you and Duncan met at work, you refused to talk to him, he basically twisted your arm… all that is in the book. What I really want to talk about is when you felt the two of you started dating.
Paul: What? Why? That’s personal.
Louisa: Paul, these people are reading a book about your love life. It doesn’t get more personal than that.
Paul: *shrugs* Yeah, but it’s all from Dunc’s perspective. He’s the one who’s sharing. I don’t really share feelings or any of that crap.
Louisa: Yeah. We get that. But how about you give it a go. When did you first consider yourself to be in a relationship with Duncan?
Paul: Well… *huffs* I guess after our first date. It was fast, but when shit’s right, there’s no point fucking around, yeah?
Louisa: Absolutely. And your first date was that night in Perth, the day you officially met?
Paul: Yeah, of course.
Louisa: Did you know that Duncan wasn’t sure if you were actually dating or not until you came to Melbourne?
Paul: Nah. Of course he knew.
Louisa: Mm-hmm. How’ve things been since then? Getting ready for the next stage of the project?
Paul: Yeah, and on that, I really gotta go. Important work stuff to do.
Louisa: Sure, I believe you. Just one more question. If you had to pick a moment from the book as your favorite, which would it be?
Paul: Uh. Wow. That’s…. I guess when we were driving to Beacon and Dunc got hard and then tried to make a joke about it. Hey, do you know why he got turned on in the first place? I never actually asked him.
Louisa: You should. Or, you know, read the book. Because like you said, it’s all Duncan’s perspective, and he’s a pretty funny guy.
Paul: *smiling fondly* Yeah.
Louisa: Thanks for the chat, Paul. I’ll let you know if I have any more questions.
Paul: What? I didn’t agree to that!
Welcome to My World