Goodbye September, Hello October! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Goodbye September, Hello October!

October is here, one of my favorite months!  Time for pumpkins, and hauntings, a thinning of veils, and perhaps of things that go bump in the night!  It’s a time for owls to be hooting as they sound out territories and mates, leaves to begin their spectacular autumnal show, and the plaintive notes of geese high above calling as they migrate south to warmer climes and more welcoming waters.  I’m not alone.  There are so many quotes out there from writers sharing their love of fall and this particular month, including L.M. Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables) who wrote:

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”.

I’m totally in agreement.

It’s also a time where authors and publishers start to release books and anthologies with a bent towards the paranormal and horror, noting that Halloween and All Hallow’s Eve occurs this month.  So you all know what I’m leading up to….

Yes, several things actually only one of which I’ll bring up this week.

Let’s start with a Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Horror Rec List.  This might be a short one because, tbh,  I don’t read a lot of horror books myself.  Do any of you?  I read one this week and I’m reviewing it.  It’s by one of the few author’s whose stories continually have a horror/paranormal bent to them.  That would be Xavier Axelson.  See what I found on Monday.  So go through your book lists, your Kindles and shelves. See what horror stories you can recommend.  I can’t wait to read what you all come up with!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Horror Story Recs Giveaway

We will run this all month long in order to take advantage of all the new scary books coming out this month as well.  So leave a comment/rec, along with your email address where you can be reached if chosen.  We will have more than one winner for our gift certificates.  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Also acceptable are spooky paranormal stories!  Ghostly hauntings!  Witchy doings!  You get the idea!  Even throw in a zombie or two!  Contest ends October 28 at midnight.

✒︎Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is looking for reviewers.  If you would like to review for us, please contact us at scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com.  Let’s talk!

 

✒︎And finally, in case you didn’t see our post.  Author B.A. Tortuga needs our help.  She’s very ill and needs our assistance.   There’s a Go Fund Me page started to help with her mounting medical costs.  For the full details, visit the link here.

 

Now for our first week in October, this is what we have for you.  Happy Reading!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, October 1 🎃 🌰

  • Goodbye September, Hello October!
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Release Blitz for Elle Keaton’s As Sure As The Sun (Accidental Roots #4)
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Dragon’s Hoard by M.A. Church
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: ​The Bunny and the Billionaire by Louisa Masters

Monday, October 2:

  • Dreamspinner Promo Tara Lain
  • Harmony Ink Promo Julie Aitcheson
  • BLITZ Tender with a Twist by Annabeth Albert
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: The Keeper by Kiernan Kelly
  • A MelanieM Review: Earthly Concerns by Xavier Axelson
  • An Alisa Review: Soul Bonds (Common Powers 1) by Lynn Lorenz
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Model Exposure (Haven Investigations #4) by Lissa Kasey

Tuesday, October 3:

  • BOOK BLAST Sweet Thing by Isobel Starling
  • Review Tour for Tour: PROPHESY by A.E. Via
  • A Lila Review: Prophecy: The King and Alpha Series #1 by AE Via
  • A MelanieM Review: Read My Mind (Under the Empire #1) by Kelly Haworth
  • An Alisa Review: Finding Home by Garrett Leigh

Wednesday, October 4:

  • Dreamspinner Promo : Living in Fast Forward (Radio and the Road) by B.A. Tortuga
  • Tour for Archer Kay Leah’s Blood Borne (The Republic #3)
  • Cover Reveal for Lawless Anthology
  • A MelanieM Review: Deceived by Megan Derr
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Gummy Bears & Grenades (THIRDS #10) by Charlie Cochet
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: High Calls by Tara Lain

Thursday, October 5:

  • Blog Tour – Patrick’s Savior by Nic Starr
  • BLITZ Leaning into Touch by Lane Hayes
  • Cover Reveal: Anna Butler’s The Jackal’s House
  • RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway: Read My Mind (Under the Empire #1) by Kelly Haworth
  • A Jeri Review: Rank and File by LA Witt
  • A MelanieM Review: Crave (Brawlers, #1) by J.M. Dabney
  • An Alisa Review: Rush in the Dark (Common Powers 2) by Lynn Lorenz

Friday, October 6:

  • Release Blitz – Amy Aislin’s Picture Winter
  • Release Blitz – Changing On The Fly Anthology- Various Authors
  • RIPTIDE Tour and Giveaway: Five Dares by Eli Easton
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:Living in Fast Forward (Radio and the Road) by B.A. Tortuga
  • A Stella Recent Review: Five Dares by Eli Easton
  • An Alisa Review: Edward Unconditionally (Common Powers 3) by Lynn Lorenz

Saturday, October 7:

  • A MelanieM Review: Calloway by Thad J.

 

 

 

 

 

Love Flash Fiction? Check Out Renewal: Queer Sci Fi’s Fourth Annual Flash Fiction Contest (QSF Flash Fiction, #3) (Queer SyFy’s J. Scott Coatsworth and so many other wonderful authors!)

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Renewal: Queer Sci Fi’s Fourth Annual Flash Fiction Contest

(QSF Flash Fiction #3)

QSF Renewal-Print

QSF has a new book out, the latest in our series of flash fiction anthologies:

Re.new.al (noun)

1) Resuming an activity after an interruption, or
2) Extending a contract, subscription or license, or
3) Replacing or repairing something that is worn out, run-down, or broken, or
4) Rebirth after death.

Four definitions to spark inspiration, a limitless number of stories to be conceived. Only 110 made the cut.

Thrilling to hopeful, Renewal features 300-word speculative fiction ficlets about sexual and gender minorities to entice readers.

Welcome to Renewal.

Mischief Corner Books (info only) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads


Renewal Banner

Excerpt

Because these stories are only 300 words each, we’re not supplying long excerpts, but here are the first lines of several of the stories. Enjoy!

“Griselda pulled the weeds from between the rows of Valerianella locusta plants in the garden, careful not to disturb the buds that would grow into the babies that were her only real income-producing crop.” —The Witches’ Garden, by Rie Sheridan Rose

“I didn’t know how truly the world was in trouble until I went journeying to look for Anisette’s bluebonnets.” —Bluebonnets, by Emily Horner

“The ship’s drive malfunctioned at the worst possible time.” —The Return, by Andrea Speed

“Before we continue, there’s a rather macabre fact about me I should share.” —Rejuvenation, by Christine Wright

“When I died they buried me at the bottom of the garden and returned to the fields.” —Below the Hill, by Matthew Bright

“The world is ending and I can’t look away from your eyes.” —Sunrise, by Brigitte Winter

““Losing one’s superpowers to your arch nemesis sucks donkey nuts, I tell ya. And trust me when I say I suck a lot of them.” —Rainbow Powers, by Dustin Karpovich

“The day I was born again was damp, rainy—a good day for rebirth, all things considered.” —The Birthing Pod, by Michelle Browne

“Intwir’s twelve eyes roved over the container, taking in the cracked outer lock and the elasticated fabric stretched tightly over its exterior.” —In a Bind, by S R Jones

“‘You’ve reached Androgyne HelpLine. Press one to start service. Press two to interrupt or cancel service. Press three—’” —Auto-Renew, by Ginger Streusel

“The doctor tells me that my wife is dying, but I already know.” —I Will Be Your Shelter, by Carey Ford Compton

“‘San Francisco was the first to go dark, followed by Los Angeles.’” —When Light Left, by Lex Chase

“My fingers lingered on the synthetic skin, trailing soft patterns across my work.” —Miss You, by Stephanie Shaffer


Included Authors

‘Nathan Burgoine
A.M. Leibowitz
A.M. Soto
Abby Bartle
Aidee Ladnier
Alexis Woods
Andi Deacon
Andrea Felber Seligman
Andrea Speed
Andrea Stanet
Anne McPherson
Bey Deckard
Brigitte Winter
Carey Ford Compton
Carol Holland March
Carrie Pack
Catherine Lundoff
CB Lee
Christine Wright
Colton Aalto
Daniel Mitton
Dustin Blottenberger
Dustin Karpovich
E R Zhang
E.J. Russell
E.W. Murks
Ell Schulman
Ellery Jude
Eloreen Moon
Elsa M León
Emily Horner
Eric Alan Westfall
F.T. Lukens
Fenrir Cerebellion
Foster Bridget Cassidy
Ginger Streusel
Hannah Henry
Irene Preston
J. Alan Veerkamp
J. P. Egry
J. Summerset
J.S. Fields
Jaap Boekestein
Jackie Keswick
Jana Denardo
Jeff Baker
Jenn Burke
Joe Baumann
John Moralee
Jon Keys
Jude Dunn
K.C. Faelan
Kelly Haworth
Kiterie Aine
Kristen Lee
L M Somerton
L. Brian Carroll
L.M. Brown
L.V. Lloyd
Laurie Treacy
Leigh M. Lorien
Lex Chase
Lia Harding
Lin Kelly
Lloyd A. Meeker
Lyda Morehouse
M.D. Grimm
Martha J. Allard
Mary E. Lowd
Matt Doyle
Matthew Bright
Mia Koutras
Michelle Browne
Milo Owen
Mindy Leana Shuman
Naomi Tajedler
Natsuya Uesugi
Nephy Hart
Nicole Dennis
Ofelia Gränd
Patricia Scott
Paul Stevens
PW Covington
R R Angell
R.L. Merrill
Rebecca Cohen
Redfern Jon Barrett
Reni Kieffer
Richard Amos
RL Mosswood
Robyn Walker
Rory Ni Coileain
Rose Blackthorn
Ross Common
S R Jones
Sacchi Green
Sarah Einstein
Shilo Quetchenbach
Siri Paulson
Soren Summers
Stephanie Shaffer
Steve Fuson
Tam Ames
Terry Poole
Tray Ellis
Vivien Dean
Wendy Rathbone
Xenia Melzer
Zen DiPietro
Zev de Valera

Taylor Brooke on Inspiration and her latest novel Fortitude Smashed. (guest post, excerpt and giveaway)

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Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke
Interlude Press
Published September 21st 2017

 

Purchase Links:

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Taylor Brooke here today talking about the inspiration behind Fortitude Smashed.  Welcome, Taylor.

Somewhere Else – The Story Behind The Hollow by Taylor Brooke

Fortitude Smashed is full of Laguna Beach staples – Main Beach, The Whitehouse, The Saloon, The Koffee Klatch. These native hot spots are routinely visited by locals and tourists alike, supplying cocktails, appetizers and daily doses of caffeine. However, there is one place that lives in the pages of Fortitude Smashed that most people will probably give my imagination all the credit for. I mean, how could a giant treehouse be hidden in Laguna Canyon?

Surprise. The Hollow is real.

A friend of mine found it after deviating from an established hiking trail and bush-whacking his way through the dense Laguna Wilderness Park over spring break. I didn’t believe him at first, or I guess I didn’t know what to believe. I asked myself how a treehouse that big, how something that cool, could’ve hidden from us all this time. The answer presented itself when he tried to show me where it was: Make it almost impossible to get to.

The Hollow was a place that demanded to be stumbled upon, and stumble we did. There really was a fence with a hole to crawl through, though, and there really was a game trail that led through a break in the tree line. When we finally got to it, my friend said, “I told you so,” and I said, “Who else knows about this?”

The tire swing dangled by a frayed braided rope that would obviously snap if someone tried to play on it, and the rusted car was littered with cigarette butts, beer bottles and Del Taco salsa packets. The Hollow was magnificent, though. Despite the questionable rigging and the litter left behind by partiers, the cluster of treehouses tucked away in the forest seemed like a promise fulfilled. To me, it proved that magic was real. It was a secret place that we could claim, and claim it we did. We fixed the tire swing, carved our names into the biggest tree and spent many nights howling at the moon, doing things we weren’t supposed to, in a place that wasn’t supposed to exist.

We didn’t know if anyone else knew about it. But whoever did happen to know was never there at the same time we were. We found clues – cigarette packs that weren’t ours, liquor bottles we hadn’t left, new carvings in the tree with names we didn’t recognize. Being a teenager was like running with a pack of wolves. I had my pack, others had theirs, and we shared one magical, strange hideout that blurred the lines between reality and somewhere else.

I live in Central Oregon now, and I have to admit, I miss somewhere else. I wonder if it’s still there.

Here is a deleted scene from Fortitude Smashed. Aiden, Shannon, Daisy and Chelsea take a trip to The Hollow the morning of Aiden’s twenty-third birthday:

The Hollow was a place for secrets.

There were flourishing lakes of wide awake flowers, luminous yellows and tangy oranges, lavender and periwinkle, and heartbeat reds. The trees, full and overpowering, reached every direction with long, leafy arms. Copper leaves danced with springy ferns, and cat tails swayed alongside bristled cacti. Secret upon secret upon secret transformed with the seasons. The muted leaves that crunched beneath their feet in winter had been replaced by lively moss and long grass. The rusted car, crowded with weather-worn party favors, was home to vines climbing the hood, looped through the glassless windshield.

“It’s gorgeous.” Chelsea sighed. She stared up at the tree houses, the rope ladder, the deck, the tire swing, and shook her head. “Is it safe?”

“Yeah, it’s safe,” Shannon said, sipping on a large 7-Eleven soda.

Daisy picked through a bag of mixed nuts and held it out to Chelsea.

Chelsea tossed a cashew in her mouth. “Look at that,” she whispered, taking long strides toward the carved-up tree, branded with memories. Daisy trailed after her.

Shannon watched Aiden circle a bushel of honeysuckles. His blue vans looked strange, such a startling replacement to his combat boots. But that might’ve been the only startling thing about him now. The rest of him, black tank and dark washed jeans, sharp edges and clever eyes, were pleasant familiarities.

Aiden sat in a patch of light that beamed between trees, plucking honeysuckles and sucking on their stems. Shannon took slow steps, drawing out the image in front of him. Aiden’s camera around his neck, his gaze flicking from the flower to Shannon, and his smile, warm and comfortable, parting as he said, “What’re you looking at, Detective?”

 

FORTITUDE SMASHED ~ SUMMARY 

After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.

But loving someone isn’t.

When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.

FORTITUDE SMASHED ~ EXCERPT

Shannon’s first instinct was to call for backup. It’s what he should’ve done.

Instead, he slid his hand around the door and pulled it open; his other hand rested on his holstered gun.

The scent of oil paint and clay wafted strong in the stillness. The room was too open, a wide space with nowhere to hide. Shannon took a step, another, and glanced at the desk, where abstract patterns swirled on the screen of a hibernating computer next to a dimmed, decorative lamp.

Movement. Footsteps, heel to toe, slow and quiet, behind him.

Shannon swung around. Someone—the thief—gasped. He grabbed the fabric of a shirt and shoved whoever was wearing it against the wall.

“You’re under arrest,” he growled. The body, a man, squirmed and cursed. The one time he didn’t play it safe and call for backup was the time he might need it. Shannon forced the thief’s hands against the wall. “Spread your fingers.”

The thief complied. “Of fucking course.” Shannon heard him rolling his eyes.

“Breaking and entering is a crime, you understand that? So is taking things that aren’t yours.”

“I didn’t take anything. I didn’t get the chance to.” Whoever he was, he was unapologetically bored with the situation. Shannon spotted a bold tattoo on his side where his shirt was bunched up from their abrupt collision. The man sighed. “Can I have my hands back now?”

“No, you can’t, because—”

Shannon’s entire being screeched to a stop. His spine straightened; his knees locked. He couldn’t breathe. Beneath his glove, warmth spread from his right thumb into his wrist. The Camellia Clock vibrated, gentle but convincing, a purr that alerted him to the 00:00 that now read in glowing numbers under his thumbnail. Saliva pooled in his mouth. Heat coursed through him. Blood rushed—high speed traffic in his veins. His heartbeat, steady and then not, pounded in his ears.

He stared at the hand spread out on the wall. On the thief’s right thumbnail, the same numbers glowed 00:00. Shannon squeezed the man’s wrist a little tighter.

A shaky breath quivered from the chest in front of him. Apparently, Shannon wasn’t the only one surprised.

He swallowed, and his grip tightened again before he let go and ripped his hands away. Eyeing Shannon carefully, the burglar spun. He had a straight nose and a sharp jaw; he was all angles and edges and pale skin. His skittishness reminded Shannon of a deer—maybe not a deer. The stranger’s lips twitched into a straight-toothed grin under hooded dark eyes. Yeah, maybe not a deer. Maybe a wolf.

A breathless chuckle trickled past a clever smile. The thief gave a slow shake of his head, disbelief and curiosity stitching a genuine expression across his face that Shannon hated. “Aiden Maar,” he said, too confidently to be taken lightly.

Shannon’s jaw was set so tight it ached to open his mouth. “Detective Wurther.”

“Pleasure’s all mine, Detective.” The rasp in his voice made Shannon’s stomach jump.

Before Shannon could yell, or grab, or get another word in, the thief—Aiden—was gone, darting past him and out the door. His head swam. Still reeling, he couldn’t have caught Aiden if his life depended on it. But he was going to have to, because, according to the Camellia Clock, Aiden Maar was his future.

According to Shannon Wurther, the Camellia Clock was wrong.

* * *

Fortitude Smashed will be published by Interlude Press on September 21, 2017. Connect with author Taylor Brooke at taylorbrookewrites.org; on Twitter @taysalion; and on Facebook at facebook.com/taylorbrookewrites.

About the Author

After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup professional, Taylor turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of tea, planning her next adventure, and fawning over baby animals.

* * *

Fortitude Smashed will be published by Interlude Press on September 21, 2017. Connect with author Taylor Brooke at taylorbrookewrites.org; on Twitter @taysalion; and on Facebook at facebook.com/taylorbrookewrites.

Giveaway

Book Tour Rafflecopter Giveaway:
Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Fortitude Smashed// Five winners receive the multi-format eBook

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Falling Into Autumn and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Falling Into Autumn

 

We’ve passed the autumnal equinox and it’s officially fall.  Yes, my favorite time of the year has arrived.  Already the signs are out.  The Sugar Maples are showing their splendid fall colors, my beech trees are busy making a nuisance of themselves by pouring nut bits all over the back stone patio. Their beech nuts a boon for wildlife who are busy taking advantage and a pain for the paws of my dogs who keep stepping on them no matter how quickly I try to sweep them up every morning.  It’s a Sisyphean task to be sure.

Last night I started another fall task.  I started to clean out my Kindle.  Yes, I have to do that.  As a reviewer, or even just a prolific reader, it’s full of books I will never read again.  So the daunting chore begins to weed out the books overflowing my Kindle, choosing which will remain and which, much like my gardens, will be pruned away so I can quickly look over my library. Hah! You say.  Yah, yah…I know…it seems overwhelming and unlikely to me too.

My mental mutterings often go something like this “no, I’m not finished the series yet,  you get to stay”,  “hmm, uh no, I thought I had removed you some time ago”,  “Oh, I loved you so, I know I’ll read you again (no I won’t but I want too)” so I keep that one….and so on.  As you can imagine far more stay then actually get booted.  In the end I put the Kindle down, caught up in a book I need to read and review for the upcoming weeks because that’s as great an excuse as any, right?

Thank goodness they aren’t printed books because I’ve never thrown one of those away in my life.  Shifted boxes  into my  parents attic (yes, I know shameful at any age but there you go).  I think I’m going to go get them this fall, promise.

I won’t even go into my fall gardening chores…it’s still sunny and 80 outside.  Too many seeds are falling from the plants and things are still blooming.  That gets to slide too while I go look at mums in all their glory. I know just the place to plant them while I read and have a sip of wine.

That’s how I’m starting my fall into autumn.  Do you have any special plans for your fall days?  I’d love to hear them!  New giveaway coming soon!  Meanwhile enjoy our easing into Fall and this week’s books and tours.  Don’t miss out on Joker by JM Dabney.  I’ll be doing an author discovery on JM Dabney in the next coming months and reviewing all this author’s series…yes, I’m that much in love!

 

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

Sunday, September 24:

  • Falling Into Autumn and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A MelanieM Review: Drama Luau (Nicky and Noah Mystery #4) by Joe Cosentino

Monday, September 25:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR Avon Gale on The Love Song of Sawyer Bell (A Tour Dates novel)
  • RELEASE BLITZ Figure Study by Suzanne Clay
  • Anniversary Blog Tour for Caught Inside by Jamie Deacon
  • Fortitude Smashed. Interlude Press Tour
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Trans Liberty Riot Brigade by L.M. Pierce
  • An Alisa Review: Saved by AM Arthur
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: Creative Process by Jodi Payne

Tuesday, September 26:

  • Dreamspinner Promo Cari Z. on Off The Beaten Path
  • Release Blitz – The Half Wolf by Jay Northcote
  • Renewal Review and Promo Tour (Queer SyFy Scott)
  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway: Rank and File by LA Witt
  • An Alisa Review; Loose Ends by Jeff Erno
  • A MelanieM Review :Renewal : 3rd Annual Queer SyFy Flash Fiction Anthology
  • An Ali Review: A World Apart by Mel Gough

Wednesday, September  27, 2017

  • TOUR Golden by RL Mosswood
  • TOUR On the Way to San Jose by Jere’ M. Fishback
  • Release Blitz First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) by RJ Scott & VL Locey
  • Review Tour – Amy Tasukada – Would It Be Ok To Love You
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Antisocial  by Heidi Cullinan and Iggy Toma (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

Thursday, September 28, 2017:

  • BLOG TOUR  Waking the Behr (Foothills Pride #7) by Pat Henshaw
  • Dreamspinner Dreamspun Desires Promo Louisa Masters
  • Dreamspinner Promo Skylar M. Cates
  • A Stella Review: The Half Wolf by Jay Northcote
  • An Ali Review A World Apart by Mel Gough
  • An Alisa Review: Revived (Foreverers #1) by Nina del Arce

Friday, September 29:

  • Dreamspinner Dreamspun Desires Promo MA Church
  • Review Tour for First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) by RJ Scott & VL Locey
  • Review Tour – Joker (Executioners #2) – JM Dabney
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Joker (Executioners #2) by  JM Dabney
  • A MelanieM Review :First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) by RJ Scott & VL Locey
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Rim Shot by Skylar M Cates

Saturday, September 30:

  • Blog and Review Tour – City Boy – Country Boy by A.E. Wasp
  • One Call Away by Felice Stevens Audio Tour and Review
  • An Ali Review: Country Boy (Hot Off the Ice #2) by AE Wasp
  • An Ali Review: City Boy (Hot Off the Ice #1) by AE Wasp

A Free Dreamer Review: Dali by E.M. Hamill

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.

Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

“Dalí” was simply and utterly brilliant. I loved every single second of it. It’s no secret that I’m a lover of SciFi books and I’m glad I started reading space operas a while ago. Otherwise I might have missed out on this seriously amazing book and that would have been a real shame.

The set-up is intriguing. Dalí is a third gender changeling. Essentially, they’re the epidome of genderfluid. Their body can actually change to become male or female. Or they can stay in their neutral state, where they’re neither. For a big part of the book, Dalí leans toward female, for reasons I fully understood. And the idea of changing genders was only the beginning. The author took great care to create a truly fascinating world, full of little details that showed how much care went into creating this setting. The world building was extremely well done and it all felt so natural.

I absolutely loved Dalí right from the beginning. I felt their grief and loss and suffered through their self-destruction with them. It was breathtaking and felt so very genuine it made my heart ache. Dalí is a tough person, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel fear or pain or grief or doubt.

Now, I’ve always had a thing for the antagonists/villains in books and movies. And E.M. Hamill did a great job of creating a villain the way I like. He’s not completely and utterly evil. His actions actually made sense, in a cruel, twisted kind of way. And the tension between him and Dalí was absolutely sizzling.

Speaking of sizzling: The sex scenes were smoking hot. Incredibly erotic, without being overly detailed. Dalí’s unique body made the whole experience even hotter for me. But the sex wasn’t just there to get the reader hot and bothered, it always furthered the plot. The balance between hot smut and essential plot device was perfect.

There’s so much going on in this book, with so many unexpected twists and turns, it left me completely unable to put down the book. It was full of action and suspense, but also full of feelings. There were more quiet parts of the book, but those were just as addicting as the fast-moving spy parts.

Another thing I loved about this book was how diverse it was. There are so many different types of relationships and genders portrayed. It always felt completely natural to have such diverse characters. The author didn’t get lost in unnecessary terms or explanations, the characters were just there.

Although this book is set in the distant future and the world as we know it no longer exists, the plot touched on many issues we’re facing right now as well. There’s terrorism, human trafficking, drugs, religious extremism, gender identity and so on. It’s not easy to make a space opera feel like it deals with problems of our day and age.

Every lover of good SciFi with a bit of Erotic thrown in should read “Dalí”. I, for one, enjoyed every single second of it and I really, really hope there will be a second part sometime soon. You’ll love it too, trust me.

I like the cover by Natasha Snow. The colours are gorgeous and the space ship looks great. The young man’s face spoils the otherwise great cover a little. I think it would have looked even better without any human on it.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook
Published August 7th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139572
Edition LanguageEnglish

Our STRW Fantasy Recommendations Continues and This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Our STRW Fantasy Recommendations Continues

Are you at glued to however you watch tv these days when GoT comes on?  That’s Game of Thrones of course.  The lavish, addictive, often dark fantasy series from HBO adapted from George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire, one that’s he still writing, I  might add if you aren’t someone who read the books  first and then started watching the series.  Or lives in Outer Mongolia, although I’m convinced they get GoT there too.  It’s a land where winter’s coming, a woman ride’s a dragon to her destiny, there are terrifying whitewalkers and even scarier queens now sitting on the iron throne.  There’s Tyrion a dwarf who drinks and knows things plus so many mad wonderful, awful, horrific events that have occurred that we stay fastened to this series as though epoxied. You can’t help it.  It’s magnificent.  And its fantasy.  People love fantasy,  From Tolkien to George R. R. Martin, to the stories of our childhood, whether it be Harry Potter or Peter Pan, imagining the impossible or the improbable has always captured our imagination and our attention.

We want to slide into those worlds, those adventures, see those dragons!  How I loved Anne Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series and Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series just to name two that I couldn’t get enough of.   But really I gobbled them all up.  And still do today.  I just finished last week Don Allmon’s Glamour Thieves and another story in Megan Derr’s Tales of the High King, a series Lila loves as well.  Megan Derr can do no wrong in her  fantasy stories.  Just check our our recommendations for her below.

We are still working on our Fantasy Rec lists.  You all know?  I forgot the Supernatural/Paranormal lists, so those may have to come next.  But for now, lets concentrate on the Fantasy ones.  Our Giveaway runs until August 26~you just might see books you never got to or ones you definitely want to reread!

(Extra note:  We are still looking for reviewers, please contact us if you know of anyone or want to review for us yourself.  Write to us at scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com)

 

Fantasy Titles Recommended – 

Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling
Dance with the Devil series by Megan Derr
Charm of Magpies series by KJ Charles
Hexworld series by Jordan L Hawk
Woke Up in a Strange Place  by Eric Arvin
The Druid Stone (Layers of the Otherworld #1) by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Galway Bound (Layers of the Otherworld #1.1) by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Hainted by Jordan L. Hawk
The Pirate’s Game (Etsey Novels #3) by Heidi Cullinan and
Etsey novels by Heidi Cullinan

Fantasy Fiction Rec Giveaway

Send in your recs  for your favorite fantasy book/ or series!  Don’t forget to add your email address where we can reach you if chosen to receive our gift certificate of $10.

Again, gift certificates to a reader chosen at random who left a comment along with their email address where they can be reached if chosen.
Contest ends at midnight on 8/26.  That’s two weeks to get your recommendations in!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

This Week At Scattered Thoughts And Rogue Words

 

Sunday, August 20:

  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Our STRW Fantasy Recommendations Continues

Monday, August 21:

  • Book Blitz & Review Tour – JM Dabney – Ghost (Executioners #1)
  • DSP GUEST POST Vivien Dean
  • TOUR The Vampire’s Protege by Damian Serbu
  • TOUR Blended Notes by Lilah Suzanne
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Suspicious Behavior (Bad Behavior #2) by LA Witt and Cari Z
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Fool of Main Beach (Love in Laguna: Book 5) by Tara Lain
  • A MelanieM Review: Ghost (Executioners #1) by JM Dabney
  • An Alisa Review Wrong Place, Right Time by April Kelley

Tuesday, August 22:

  • DSP GUEST POST Alex Standish for Changing Tides
  • Review Tour – Elin Gregory – The Bones Of Our Fathers
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Suspicious Behavior (Bad Behavior #2) by LA Witt and Cari Z.
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Just Add Argyle (Fabric Hearts 3) by KC Burn
  • A MelanieM Review: The Bones Of Our Fathers by Elin Gregory
  • A Stella Review: TBD

Wednesday, August 23:

  • Blog Tour *Inhuman Beings by Richard May
  • Review Tour – Jay Northcote’s Tops Down Bottoms Up
  • A Jeri Review: Tops Down Bottoms Up by Jay Northcote
  • A Lila Review: The Heart of the Lost Star by Megan Derr
  • A VVivacious Review: How to Love a Monster by Lyssa Dering
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Coasting by Yvonne Trent

Thursday, August 24:

  • Cover Reveal First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) by RJ Scott & VL Locey
  • HARMONY INK GUEST POST Julia Ember
  • RIPTIDE TOUR The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water #2) by EJ Russell
  • An Alisa Review: Dude Mama by Michael P. Thomas
  • A Caryn Review: Becoming Andy Hunsinger by Jere’ M. Fishback
  • A MelanieM Review: One in Vermilion by Kris T. Bethke
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford and Greg Tremblay  (Narrator)

Friday, August 25:

  • TOUR for Grounded by Aidan Wayne
  • Tour and Giveaway for The Runner by Karma Kingsley
  • Retro Tour: Men of London series by Susan Mac Nicol
  • A Lila Review: Conned By Jana Denardo
  • A MelanieM Review: Trust with a Chaser (Rainbow Cove #1) by Annabeth Albert
  • An Ali Review: Love You Senseless (Men of London #1) by Susan Mac Nicol
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain and K.C. Kelly (Narrator)

Saturday, August 26:

  • Blog tour FORBIDDEN LUST BY GRAYSON KNIGHT
  • Release Blitz Without A Compass – Helen Juliet
  • A MelanieM Review: The Lonely Merman (Landlocked Heart #1) by Kay Berrisford

 

A Free Dreamer Pre Release Review: Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.

But loving someone isn’t.

When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.

The idea of a sort of inbuilt clock counting down to Day X isn’t exactly a new idea. Usually, Day X marks the person’s death. In “Fortitude Smashed” the Camellia Clock counts down to the second when you meet the love of your life, your soulmate. I think that was an interesting take on things.

With the whole Camellia Clock and personalized chip set-up, I’d expected a Science Fiction story. What I got, however, was a contemporary story set in  present-day California.  I must admit, I was a bit disappointed by that. It almost seemed a little bit lazy to me, as if the author didn’t want to bother with coming up with a whole new world. Instead, she opted to set it in the present day and just added the Camellia Clocks. Consequently, there was very little worldbuilding involved. I would’ve liked to know how the whole Clock thing actually works and if there is a way to opt out of having that chip implanted.

Considering Shannon is a cop and Aiden is a thief, I’d expected lots of tension there. So I figured, even if there’s no SciFi plot there, at least there’s still gonna be lots of conflict. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t. Aiden stops his thievery pretty soon and the tension between the two is the usual romance-tension. I will say that I’m normally not a reader of contemporary romances, because I always feel like I need a little more than “just” a love story. And that’s just what “Fortitude Smashed” is: Just a contemporary love story.

I liked that both Aiden and Shannon had their issues. Especially Aiden struggled with mental illness and Shannon was wonderfully supportive. Neither of them was exactly perfect but they still worked together really well.

There were plenty of sex scenes and they were really hot, without being overly explicit. Taylor Brooke definitely has a way with words. All her descriptions are wonderful, no matter if she was writing about the landscape or body parts. She definitely also has a sense of humour and I found myself laughing out loud a lot.

Overall, “Fortitude Smashed” was a bit of a disappointment to me. I’d expected SciFi but got contempary. I’d expected a crime plot but got a “normal” love story. I guess I mostly just had the wrong expectations. As I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary romance novels and I probably wouldn’t have picked this up, if I’d known it wasn’t Science Fiction.

Still, this book did have its moments and I’m sure lovers of contemporary romance witha bit of a twist can and will enjoy this book. It just wasn’t for me.

Cover: I really like the cover. It looks very summery and is a nice change from the usual covers of M/M romance. And it matches the feel the story gave me.

Sales Links:

Amazon

Interlude Press

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository 

Book details:

ebook, 346 pages

Expected publication: September 21st 2017 by Interlude Press

Book Blitz for Misha Paige’s Beast of a Time (Hellbound Hound #1)

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Blurb
 

Everyone’s heard stories or songs about being a beast of burden. Well, it’s quite a burden to be a beast, too.

Kane isn’t like most people: he’s not human, for one thing. What he is, is exceptional.


An event from his past led him to stay on Earth, a planet of people that were often scared and hostile to his kind. Even so, Kane ignored all the hateful things said to him and focused instead on the job he chose to do.

That job is everything to him, and it’s his reason for living. When one man shows up—Al, a new hire who keeps smiling at Kane when he should be looking at him with fear and distaste—Kane is faced with a challenge he never expected. He didn’t think anyone would ever truly want him, and to discover that a very sexy, handsome man does indeed want him, shakes Kane to his core.

Despite Kane’s best attempt’s at keeping distance between them, he finds himself partnered with Al. Kane knows he needs to push Al away, and he tries. Sort of.

Al isn’t scared off like Kane’s former partners, and if he and Kane can survive the fight that’s coming for them, then maybe they’ll have a chance to discover what it means to love.

Author Bio


Misha Paige is the pseudonym of a stay at home mom of four whose favorite way to relax has always been reading. After years of hearing voices in her head, she finally decided to set them free and hopefully entertain others.

She is lucky enough to have the support of her wonderful husband even if he is shocked by what she writes.

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

Ravon Silvius on Characters, Writing and The Storm Lords (DSP PUBLICATIONS Author Guest Tour)

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The Storm Lords by Ravon Silvius
DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Where you can find the book 

DSP Publications |  Amazon  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ravon Silvius here talking about writing, characters and their latest fantasy release, The Storm Lords. Welcome, Ravon.

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview With Ravon Silvius

Hello everyone, Ravon Silvius here! Thanks so much for interviewing me! I’m here to promote my newest book as well as talk about my career as a writer!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Honestly? Very little. My life is rather boring and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, so nothing much of my life makes it into my stories. The one thing that might make it in is my curiosity–I’m a researcher in my day job, so some of my characters will likely have a healthy scientific interest.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Interesting question. I think sometimes having real life experiences influence things is for the better. In The Storm Lords, Rowen is mute, and if I was also mute I maybe could have written him even more accurately. Having real experiences to fall back on can often make those experiences feel more real and tangible to the reader. But I could also argue that you don’t necessarily need real life experience to write about something, especially in fantasy. After all, I’ve never summoned a storm, but I can still write about Kristoff using his power. It depends on context, I think.

Of course, the Mary Sue/Gary Stu question comes up if you write a character based entirely on yourself, and never portray the character in a bad light. Think of self-inserts in fanfics. I’ve never done that, thankfully. Like I said above, if I wrote a character based on myself, it would be a really boring character.

 

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

A bit of both. Writing fantasy is fun because you can do anything, but things also have to make sense within the world. For The Storm Lords, I made up the cultures and geography and magic system and everything about the world, but I did do research on weather systems and how they could conceivably work. There’s a lot of fantasy, but I think having the most fantastical things (summoned storms) feel somewhat real (like using the proper terminology and the basics behind how hot and cold fronts work) makes the story more immersive. I think the general rule with fantasy, though, is that you can do and make up anything as long as its consistent within its own world. 

For science fiction, a bit more research is usually required, of course. For my sci fi stories, I did a lot of research on space travel and what sort of cybernetic enhancements might make it easier. I also looked up a lot of information on the theory of a space elevator for my upcoming anthology collection featuring cyborg erotica. 

 

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

As a kid, I read a lot of animal fantasy–things like Watership Down or TailChaser’s Song. I liked the fantasy aspect and the uniqueness of the animal world. As I got older, I started reading more traditional fantasies–things like Wheel of Time and Valdemar. I got into science fiction even later than that, with books by Ben Bova. I enjoy reading almost anything, but my favorites have always been genre. Its both escapist and gives people a caricatured look at the world, with genre writing sometimes able to tackle subjects in an oblique, interesting way. The Enforcers series is like that, a look at inequality in a world with those who can use magic and those who can’t. Plus, who wouldn’t want magic to be real?

 

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I always have a rough idea in my head of where I want a story to end up, so I don’t often run into a problem where I don’t know where the story is going to go. I did have a slight problem while writing the Storm Lords where Rowen’s motivation for a while was to ignore his memories of his old home and strive to forget it. It was an unhealthy way to deal with what he had lost, and it had to come back and bite him–but that part was hard to write!

 

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?


I prefer Happy For Now over Happily Ever After. With HEA, I always wonder “What’s next,” especially with younger characters. Nothing stays happy forever. Maybe that’s a cynical way of thinking, but HFN feels more realistic, like the story we see is a part of a character’s life and not their entire existence. It makes the characters feel more real.I think the saddest story I wrote was Remembrance–it was very much a HFN, with the characters finding love, but the reader knows the world is going to end sooner rather than later. But I liked  ending it that way–the characters’ story was complete, but they and the world they live in had more in it to experience. I like leaving things a bit open for readers to imagine the future.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?


Ebooks are the future! In all seriousness, though, I love Ebooks. As a child and teenager, my only options were the hardcover books in book stores, and while I found a lot of my favorites this way, I also began noticing quite early on that a lot of them were very derivative. You’d see a lot of the same stories over and over, and what was worse, books came out so slow, and I read so fast, that I often couldn’t find new books in my favorite genres! 

Ebooks changed all that. I can go to Amazon and find unique works, either self-published or put out by publishers like DSP, who cater to my exact tastes (like genre with healthy doses of romance!). Ebooks can be released more quickly, and give authors who may not have been discovered traditionally a chance to shine. Of course, I still like paperback, but I am very glad Ebooks have made their mark. 

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)


It depends on the cover. I am not a visual person, so I usually just fill out the cover art form and let the artist do their thing. Most of the time I’m happy with whatever they provide–cover artists are good at their job! I will usually provide a sentence or two of things I’d like to see–with the Enforcers series, for example, I usually request steampunky-type things, and for The Storm Lords I requested a storm somewhere in the art. I think it turned out great! 

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

This is a tough question! I love all of my work, from the shortest of the cyborg erotica stories to my longest work, the entire WaterLord trilogy. If I had to pick an absolute favorite, it would likely be Remembrance, which was discussed above. Its a science fiction story set in the future of a dying world, and it follows Aldric, a soldier who’s been traveling since the war ended. Its very bleak, but I think its a beautiful story.

Of course, I also love The Storm Lords, my most recent book from DSP. I love Rowen and Kristoff, and I hope others do too!

 

What’s next for you as an author?

 I have a few things coming out soon, and a few other things in development. Book 8 of the Enforcers Series, Allies, is coming out soon. Coming in October is an anthology of erotic short stories featuring cyborgs–there are 6 stories, all very hot. And of course, The Storm Lords has just come out! Check it out if you like fantasy with M/M romance. 

In the works I have book 9 of the Enforcers series, which will likely finish the series. I’m also working on a paranormal story feature a vampire. And finally, I hope to write the sequel to Freshman Blues, my first book with Dreamspinner.

Book Blurb:

The Storm Lords

The heat took everything from Rowen: his parents, his voice when the local cure for heatstroke poisoned him, and the trust of his fellow villagers, who branded him a water thief. It would have claimed his life when he was deemed unworthy of precious resources and left in the sun to die, had not a strange man named Kristoff ridden in on the wind and told Rowen he had power. 

Rowen works hard to become a Storm Lord, one of a secret magical group that brings storms to break the heat waves overtaking their world. But Rowen is starting his training at a disadvantage since he cannot speak and is much older than the other novices. The desire to please Kristoff inspires him to persevere even more than the threat of being sent back to his village to die should he fail. Still, he cannot gather rain, and when his abilities manifest, they are unlike anything known to the Storm Lords. Unless Kristoff can help him control his deadly powers, the entire world will be in danger.

Kristoff might be among the mightiest of the Storm Lords, but he’s never been a mentor before. For a chance to be with Rowen, he’s willing to risk everything.

About the author:

Ravon Silvius lives in a tiny apartment with two tiny cats in a tiny town in the United States. Despite the cramped living quarters, Ravon enjoys coming up with big ideas for novels, with some plots coming from Ravon’s findings as a neuroscience researcher and others coming purely from Ravon’s imagination.

Where you can find me:

My website: ravonsilvius.blogspot.com

My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ravon.silvius

I’m on twitter too, sometimes: https://twitter.com/ravonsilvius

And please check out my goodreads page!

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4897217.Ravon_Silvius

On Tour: E.M. Hamill on Writing, and ‘Dali’, (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Dali

Author: E.M. Hamill

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 8/7/17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 85200

Genre: science fiction, space travel, third gender, interspecies sex, kidnapping, genderfluid, space opera

Add to Goodreads

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host E.M. Hamill here today. Thank you for taking time to sit in our author interview chair. The author also brought an excerpt and giveaway.  Don’t forget to check both out after the interview!

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~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words E.M Hamill Interview ~

 

  • Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

Computer. It keeps up between my brain and my fingers better than pen. I used to do data entry and I type really fast.

  • How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Six months for the first draft of a full length novel, usually. You can’t rush editing, though. I average about a year before it’s ready to try and publish.

  • Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Oh, gods, yes…just keep plugging away, is all I can do. Even a few words a day is better than none. Eventually it cracks. I may start an entirely new section just to get flowing again. Worst case scenario, walk away from it for a week or so and then come back.

  • What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Writing is such a subjective thing. There are books I disliked, which were beautifully written and are someone else’s absolute favorite books. A review is simply the manifestation of personal taste. When someone’s taste coincides with mine and they love the story I’ve told, it’s a warm and wonderful thing. A bad review can really crush my ego, but if it’s constructive, I try to take those things into account.

  • What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Be the change you want to see in the world.

  • What is your favorite quote?

“We are the music makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers,

And sitting by desolate streams;—

World-losers and world-forsakers,

On whom the pale moon gleams:

Yet we are the movers and shakers

Of the world for ever, it seems. – Arthur O’Shaughnessy”

Synopsis

Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.

Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

Excerpt

Dalí
E.M. Hamill © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Human beings are assholes. I should know. I’d become one in the last few months.

You’d think the near extinction of our entire species after the pandemics and global poisoning our last world war inflicted might let us all pull together. Even with galactic war breathing down our necks, when almost everyone realized the human race constituted less of a threat to each other than some of the other things out there, we continued to be dicks.

Those attitudes started problems—in particular, Europan attitudes, of the New Puritan variety. I no longer possessed the self-control or sufficient fucks to avoid adding fuel to their fire.

His voice floated over the excited din of the crowd and the pregame show on the holographic screens above the bar.

“Abomination.”

I sighed and turned my head. The Team Europa-jacketed hulk next to me exuded a cloud of loathing against my empathic nets. I raised one eyebrow at him.

“Really? You can’t come up with anything more original after fifteen minutes of shit-talking?” The conversation behind me started as a diatribe against the rally for third-gender rights, held outside the arena and glimpsed on the main holo screen. I didn’t pay attention to either until the comments got louder and were meant for my ears.

“Faggot.”

“How very twentieth century of you.” I downed another of the six shots the robotic bartender dispensed in front of me. I wasn’t looking for trouble, only anesthetic. Outside, a cluster of media bots interviewing star athletes had driven me into the bar to hide. The presence of mechanized paparazzi still unsettled me. I didn’t want them in my face.

The annual Sol Series tournament games between Mars and Europa bordered on legendary for their savagery. No one took rugby as seriously as a gritty Martian colonist or a repressed New Puritan, and the bar overflowed with both, waiting for the station’s arena to open. Spectators gathered around us in the bar, drawn by the promise of a fight, glittering eyes fixed on us. My empathic senses drowned in their excitement and fear, even with the numbing effects of synthetic alcohol.

He invaded my personal space and leaned closer, face centimeters from mine. His breath carried a trace of mint and steroid vapors. Great. A huffer, his molecules all hyped-up on testosterone. He stood over a head taller than me, about twenty-five kilos heavier. His fists would do damage. His minions stood at either side, more meat than smarts. Neither spoke. Their mouths hung open while he harassed me, and I expected shuttle flies to crawl out at any time.

“You’re nothing but an A-sex freak.”

“Better. Still lacks originality.” I threw back the last shot. “How about androgynous freak? Hermaphrodite? No, those words are probably too big for you.”

The titter of laughter from the crowd only pissed him off. “Go fuck yourself.”

“Technically, I can’t. But I can fuck anybody else in this room. Can you?”

Shocked laughter rose from the circle of spectators. The guy clenched his fists and flexed his muscles. I continued, “Do I scare you?” I swiveled on the stool to face him and changed posture, crossing my legs in demure modesty. My voice rose into a husky, suggestive alto as I leaned one elbow on the bar. “Or do you want to find out what’s under my kilt?”

I hit a nerve. His eyes went blank, black, and his rage flooded over my senses. The crowd gasped and took a step back. Minion One caught his rising fist and spoke. “Jon, don’t you know who…”

Jon’s lip curled. “It’s an atrocity. It should have been killed at birth.”

“I prefer the term changeling.” I stood, and the circle around us got wider. The potent mix of hormones surged through my bloodstream as they altered my chemical makeup and bulked strategic upper body muscles. I let a cold smile form on my lips and dropped into a Zereid martial arts stance. Jon took half a step back as I became more definitively male in ways he recognized. “Oh, go ahead and hit me, by all means. A good fight is almost as good as sex.”

“Break it up.”

The crowd parted into nervous brackets with security’s arrival. Caniberi lumbered into the midst of the circle with the boneless roll space-born started to get after generations in orbit. He cast a sour eye in my direction.

“Dalí, why is it always you?”

“Just lucky, I guess.”

The constable growled at me. He turned to Jon. “You can’t play in the tournament if I throw you in the brig for violence. Move out.”

Jon stared at me a minute longer. The threat of not getting to beat the hell out of some hedonistic Martians made him reconsider. He and the minions moved away, but he threw one more sentence in my face like a javelin.

“You’ll be alone, changeling.”

The truth in his words knifed through me all the way to my gut and cut me deeper than any microsteel blade. “I’ll be waiting.”

Caniberi squinted at me as the crowd began to disperse. “Dalí, do I need to talk with the Captain?”

“No, sir. Leave my father out of this.” He’d dealt with enough from me already. My mother was now away on the diplomatic mission I’d been suspiciously—but rightly—deemed unfit to assume. Without Mom there to buffer the uncomfortable presence of my grief between us, Dad was lost.

“One of these days you’re going to push the wrong buttons and end up hurt, or worse. Some things the medical officer can’t fix.” His gaze softened. “Drinking and getting the shit beaten out of you won’t bring them back.”

“I’m well aware of that, sir.” My voice came out sharper than I intended. One of the best officers on the station, Caniberi had known me a little over a decade, and he never hesitated to kick my ass if I deserved it, no matter what gender I chose at the moment. This time, he just stared at me with an odd expression. His pity broke in tepid surges against my senses.

“Get out of here. I don’t want to arrest you again.”

I turned and left the bar. With the bots still hovering outside, I ducked my head to foil their facial recognition apps and fought my way upstream from the arena.

The shakes hit me in the aftermath of the hormone flood. The synthetic alcohol in my system warred with my normalizing chem levels and sour nausea threatened. I grabbed one of the rails lining the corridor and took several shuddering breaths as my muscles cramped, rearranged, and settled back into the lean, sexless frame where I am most at home.

The crowd jostled around me and headed toward the game. My empathic nets buzzed dully with their anticipation and excitement, but the sense of being watched pushed at the back of my mind. A familiar presence tripped a memory and an emotion.

The watcher knew me.

I turned my head. The Zereid made his way toward me, head and shoulders above everyone else, long, muscular limbs wading with passive grace through a river of human bodies as the crowd shifted for him. An eddy of cautious glances swirled and vanished downstream.

Oily quicksilver eyes without lids narrowed, their shape signifying the equivalent of a smile. His resonant voice buzzed in my ears. “He is the size of a cargo bot, you know. Even the arts we learned can’t change gravity. He might kill you.”

“I won’t let it go that far.” I shrugged. I actually hoped I’d bitten off more than I could swallow this time.

But the presence of my childhood friend undid me. A lump rose in my throat, pressure in my head, and I closed the distance between us. He gathered me in against cool flesh. I was locked in arms capable of crushing a human like a piece of foil but which held me with careful tenderness. Against his enormous chest, I felt like a small child, even though in developmental terms, Gor and I are the same age. His concern brushed my mind with affectionate familiarity.

“I see you, Dalí,” he murmured. “I mourn with you.”

I breathed in the scent of Zereid. Gor smelled of his homeworld—rain and earth and copper clung to his leathery turquoise skin and short, downy fur even in absentia. Homesickness washed over me.

I’d lived on Zereid most of my life. My mother, Marina Urquhart, served as ambassador for fifteen years. Dad’s career required he return to Sol Fed, and rather than separate our family, Mom resigned her appointment. My differences were clear, even to my third-gender mother, but there, we were aliens. I wondered what it would be like to have more friends who blinked.

When we got back to our own kind, I found out I was still an alien.

Gor pulled away. In the tarnished silver of his eyes, like antique mirrors, my unkempt reflection stared back at me. His dismay at my mental and physical state, impossible to miss, sighed against my mind.

“How did you hear?” I said.

“Your mother. “

“Of course.”

His head cocked. “I tried to come sooner, but the travel permissions into the colonies are daunting.”

“No, I understand.” I wanted to sit and talk with Gor. I eyed the bar, but couldn’t go back in there yet. “Come on. We can go to Dad’s quarters. He’ll be on the bridge.” My own cramped space wouldn’t accommodate Gor’s height or his bulk.

We squeezed into the private lift and rode up to the command deck. My thumbprint opened the door to the Captain’s suite, and Gor made a sound of wonder as he ducked through the port.

Three levels of transparent alloy shielding overlooked the U-curve of Rosetta Station. Shuttles buzzed in and out of bays like honeybees in the hydroponics domes, ferrying passengers to huge starliners docked on the outer limbs.

“An inspiring view.” Gor gazed out the window.

Ochre planet-shine from Jupiter’s face illuminated the room, the swirling storms in the gas giant’s atmosphere familiar to me now. I never found them beautiful, only an echo of the chaos in my head. I dropped into one of the chairs facing the viewport.

Gor eased himself into the seat opposite me. “You’re in crisis, Dalí.”

I couldn’t hide anything from him. Even if I wanted to, he was a telepath; his empathic senses much more attuned than my own modest abilities. Our friendship spanned far too many years, our trust well established. Lying to him would betray our oath of crechemates, a Zereid custom similar to old Earth tradition of blood brothers.

“Today would be the second anniversary of our wedding.” I stared at my hands. I still wore a ring on each of them, the ones Gresh and Rasida gave me.

“I remember. The love between you and your mates deserves celebration.”

Triad marriages with two members of the same sex and one of the opposite were common. The female population had not rebounded as fast as the male. But mine was the first triad marriage to include a changeling spouse under the new laws we helped to bring about. The legislation was both praised and vilified by hundreds of other citizens while we exchanged vows beneath the domes of the lunar capitol. My parents, Gresh’s mother, and Gor celebrated with us. Rasida’s mother refused to attend the wedding of her only daughter.

The three of us had been inseparable, invincible. Without them, I staggered, incomplete.

Our child would have been three months old now.

“Don’t say it.”

Gor’s eyes elongated in confusion. “What?”

“That they wouldn’t want me to be like this.”

“I did not come here to admonish you for grieving.”

I gave a short laugh. “What did you come here to scold me for?”

“For ceasing to live. Abandoning the larger destiny for which you trained.”

“Ambassador?” I dug a vape out of the pocket of my coat and thumbed the switch, inhaling illegal chemicals deep into my lungs. His gentle reproach against my empathic nets rebuked me without a word.

“You were sure of your calling as a peacemaker six months ago.” Zereid reverence toward conciliation is, ironically, unforgiving and unbending.

“I was certain of a lot of things then.” I exhaled a cloud of spicy mist. If any of the scent remained, I’d catch hell later for vaping in Dad’s quarters.

“There are always those who work against peace, even in their own hearts. As you are doing now.”

“I don’t know if I believe in peace anymore.”

“Because you do not possess it.”

“Stop feeding me platitudes, brother.”

He spread six-fingered hands wide. “What would you have me do? Tell me. Your pain is mine to share, beloved friend. Allow me to help you. Your rage is fearsome but undirected. You point it at yourself.”

“I was supposed to die, not them.” I cursed the terrorists who missed their target by eight minutes. When I decided not to address the media bots and chose instead to hold a private farewell with my family, I put myself ahead of schedule. I should have died with them. Even though the bastards failed to kill me, they destroyed me.

“Come home.” Gor waited for me to answer. I didn’t. He continued. “Madam Ambassador thinks Zereid would be a place of healing for you. You can study at the temple with me again, be teacher and student. This year’s crop of younglings is a challenge.” His vocal pipes fluted in laughter. “As we were.”

“That isn’t much of an incentive.” A grin tried to tug at the corners of my mouth, stiff and out of practice with the expression. “I’ll think about it.”

“Will you?” His doubt hovered between us.

The port slid open again and my father thundered in—Captain Paul Tamareia—“The Captain” to everyone on the station, even me at times. I stood at automatic attention, swaying a little. Gor rose too.

“What the hell were you thinking?” he demanded. “And turn that goddamned vape off.”

I complied. “A misunderstanding, sir.”

“Misunderstanding, my ass. Six shots of the synthetic piss that passes for whiskey says it wasn’t.” He turned to Gor and bowed. “Welcome aboard Rosetta Station, honored friend. Forgive me for not greeting you first.”

“Captain Tamareia.” Gor bowed back.

“How long will you be staying? I insist you use my quarters as your own. Stop by the constable’s office and he will register you for my door. I’m afraid most of the cabins are small, and we’re overcrowded with the tournament.”

“My thanks, sir. My travel clearance is good for the next two weeks, and then I must return.” Gor nodded at us. “I should collect my belongings now. I will go to your constable on the way back.”

“It’s good to see you, Gor.”

“You as well, Captain.” He put one enormous hand on my shoulder. “Dalí, please think about what I said.”

Gor let himself out. Dad and I both understood he made a graceful exit so we could shout at each other in peace. Zereids don’t carry a whole lot of baggage. They don’t wear clothes.

“Did you need to pick a fight with the number eight of the bloody Europan rugby team?” He tossed his personal data device on the table. “Do you even know who he is?”

“Other than a prick, no.”

“Jon Batterson. Does the name ring a bell at all?”

“Batterson.” I blinked through mental processes made sluggish by the vape. “As in President Batterson?”

“Light dawns. The heir apparent to his self-righteous little robotics empire.” He ran both hands through his hair. I inherited my dark-brown waves from him, but Dad’s customary high-and-tight showed little hint of curl. Mine now fell to my shoulders in a shaggy, tangled mane. “Do you realize the mess I would have had to clean up if you really let loose on him? Even if he is built like the ass end of a freighter, you could put him on the injured list.”

“It wasn’t my intent.”

“From what Caniberi told me, you were about to unleash hell on him. You sure stirred up some crap. The president is coming to the game tonight. The constable didn’t know who he was either, or he might have thrown you in the brig to prove a point.” He sat down with a thud on the steel bench and sighed. “Dalí. Come here.”

I sat next to him and braced myself.

“It’s been six months. Your leave from the diplomatic corps is finished, and if you don’t return, you’ll be dismissed. This has to stop. When you go back to your life, you’re going to encounter people like Batterson on a daily basis. Your reputation and your career are at stake. You can’t do this anymore.”

“That life’s over.”

“Don’t throw it away. You did so much in so short a time. You have a gift for understanding, and you will be a formidable ambassador. Sol Fed needs you in the negotiation chamber at the Remoliad. Luna is a better place because of your work.”

“Because of Gresh’s work. Because of Sida and our child. They were my reasons for everything. I’m not sure I feel as strongly for the rest of the human race.”

“Then you need to find another way to deal with their deaths. I won’t watch you destroy your future. You worked too hard for it.”

“Tell me how, sir.” My fury rose. “Tell me how I can deal with it because I’m looking for an exit.”

He stiffened. “What do you mean?”

“Nothing.” I rose and stalked away. He started to call after me, but the communication tones went off.

“Captain Tamareia, report to the bridge. The president’s shuttle is incoming.”

“On my way. Dalí!”

I ignored him and ducked through the port.

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Meet the Author

E.M. Hamill is a nurse by day, sci fi and fantasy novelist by night. She lives in eastern Kansas with her family, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse. She also writes young adult material under the name Elisabeth Hamill. Her first novel, SONG MAGICK, won first place for YA fantasy in the 2014 Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Fiction.

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