A MelanieM Review: Travels Through the Scarlet Equinox (Mischief Corner Anthologies #6) by Toni Griffin , J. Scott Coatsworth , Angel Martinez , Freddy MacKay

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Travels Through the Scarlet EquinoxThe Autumnal equinox—when the trees dress in their formal scarlet and gold and the crisp air whispers of chance and change, when bright days turn into sudden storms and the veil between reality and imagination thins. Join the Mischief Corner authors as they share stories evoking this often unpredictable time of year.

I’m really hooked on these seasonal anthologies that Mischief Corner Books is rolling out each year.  The stories they contain spark the imagination, pull up memories of old mythologies forgotten, and just plain entertain.  And sometimes they bring that twinge of something more, something a little painful, joyful and unexpected.  That was certainly Travels Through The Scarlet Equinox, a more surprising mixup of stories that, upon reflection, works together for four tales of change.  Ah, the Autumnal equinox…

A Bear’s Bear by Toni Griffin   Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Matthew Warner’s been a Chicago Bears fan as far back as he can remember. What other team was a young bear shifter from the Smokey Mountains supposed to root for? When his college friend gets tickets to the next home game, Matthew jumps at the chance for a holiday. It’s his favorite time of year and Nic promises him pumpkin carving and a visit to the world’s largest corn maze, what more could he want?

What Matthew doesn’t expect is finding out the defensive tackle for the Bears is his mate. Between fainting at the realization, meeting family, and dealing with the media fallout of his mate’s coming out Matthew is in for a hell of a rocky Halloween.

Toni Griffin’s bear shifters have really won me over.  I can’t believe I’m saying this but this story is the “most normal” of the group.  A young, shy bear shifter travels to see friends in Chicago and carry out a service for his Alpha at the same time.  When those two elements combine into a meeting with his Alpha’s best friend in Chicago, the unexpected happens and not just for Matthew.  I loved the author’s descriptions of Matthew and Hudson, they definitely exhibit bear-like tendencies, the emotions flowing between them feel real and the story exudes a lot of heart and warmth.

The Autumn Lands by J. Scott Coatsworth.  Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Jerrith is running. Kissed by an elf, he can’t remain in his hometown of Althos anymore. Not that he wanted to stay.

Caspian still hasn’t figured out why he kissed Jerrith, but he’s running too. Since he was exiled from the Autumn Lands, his past has been hazy, and his future uncertain. But when a stray memory brings things into focus, the two decide to run toward something together. What they uncover will change how they see the world, and themselves, forever.

I loved this story.  I felt Coatsworth’s world building was amazing as was his characterization.  It was so close to perfect, hurt only by the short length.  It cried out for a longer novel so certain elements, which needed to be expanded, could be more fully told.  The author’s use of certain standard elements pertaining to physiology in a non conventional way was unexpected and quite wonderful (no spoilers here, sorry).

And then there is the romance between Cas and Jerrith which is touching and so sweet.  Almost a Romeo and Juliet or Jules if you prefer.  I thought the ending was in keeping with the mythology the author had established and worked so well within the framework of the story.  However, I can hear some of you now.  You won’t be pleased.  Sigh.

Beside a Black Tarn by Angel Martinez   Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When Shax stumbles across rumors of an experimental house that responds to the occupant’s brain functions, creating scenarios to please and delight, naturally he wants to steal it. But with the return of a troubled and hunted Julian Parallax and an overabundance of Poe references, even Shax’s scheming may not be enough to get the Brimstone crew out alive this time.

Of course, Angel Martinez had me at Shax.  But then she brought back Julian Parallax and my happiness was complete.

Once again the crew of the Brimstone is off on a misadventure but this time the stakes are unexpectedly high…their lives and sanity.  Angel Martinez has always managed to find a way to combine humor and horror in her tales and here she has done it once more.

I loved Julian Parallax from the earlier story Potato Surprise and was thrilled to see him return. But of course trouble was not far behind, troubles of the demon prince scale, troubles of the sort that brought horrors that gave have me the shudders and shivers. To counter that Angel Martinez also gives us elements of humor and romance.  The author introduced a new crew member, Maximillian, the marvelous pink, opera singing millipede. And two crew members finally get their chance at love.

In between, things get blown up, there are imps getting ballet lessons, things go splat and there are Ron Perlman references.  Be still my heart!

I loved this story, especially the promise it hung out there of Julian and Shax and the crew working together sometime in the future.  What a tale that will be.

Eternity in the Tides by Freddy MacKay  Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Autumn has always been Zak’s favorite season for hiking and camping. Not to mention breathing in all that crisp fall air and sitting around toasty bonfires. That all changed year and a half ago when a rich prick high on prescription pills sideswiped Zak while he was out biking.

Now his days are filled with pain and limited mobility. No more camping. No more trails. Zak’s life as he knew it is gone forever.

Back at his beloved stomping grounds, Zak is ready to say hello and goodbye one last time. But when a cry from the frigid Lake Superior waters throws him into the role of a rescuer, more than just his life hangs in the balance. Little did Zak know how much one person giving a damn mattered to him.

It’s stories like these that make me want to kick myself.  It happened in the Chestnuts Roasting Anthology and now here again in Travels Through the Scarlet Equinox.  It seems to take an anthology for me to find Freddy MacKay all over again.  This time I’m making a ginormous post it note and sticking it on the monitor because this story exemplifies why she should never be forgotten.

The beginning of this tale is so haunting, so realistically painful I stayed up reliving it after the story was through, that and many other scenes throughout this moving story.  You flow into Zak’s life at what is possibly the lowest point of his life, where all the pain, frustration and rage has combined to let Zak decide to commit suicide by drowning himself.  Every dreadful moment of his decision, each pain-filled movement he makes in the boat, every memory from the day forward when his body was demolished, the author makes Zak real and his predicament immediate and heartbreaking.

Then in his boat, he hears a nearby splash and cries.  Then realizes someone is drowning.  And makes a decision that changes the course of his life forever when he cuts a man free of fish nets, saving him from drowning and putting off his own suicide.

We forget that most of the old fairytales were equal parts horror stories but not Freddy MacKay.  The author remembers that there is always a price to pay, that what one person may think is marvelous, another will covet, what one will want, another will reject or destroy. Eternity in the Tides pulls in Chinese mermaid mythology, old lore specifically (including some horrific elements), and mixes it with modern science of genetics and combines it all with a touching romance that teaches about hope and new possibilities, just not in the way you might think.

There is so much beauty here, beauty and blood.  Love and hate.  Forever happiness…just not what you might predict.  The ending and the epilogue will surprise you.  I did find myself sobbing more than once.  It was the perfect way to end this anthology.  And I promise myself, it won’t take another anthology to find Freddy MacKay again.

I highly recommend this collection of stories.  If you are expecting four stories of exactly the same thing, this is not the collection for you.  But if you love exploring, have a bit of the heart of a adventure lover in you, seek this one out, it won’t disappoint.  Startle you, make you laugh, make you cry, and make you start reading them all over again, certainly.  But never disappoint.

Cover art by Freddy MacKay is sort of perfect for this collection.

Sales Links: Mischief Corner Books | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, First, 485 pages
Published November 18th 2015 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
original titleTravels Through the Scarlet Equinox
edition languageEnglish
url
seriesMischief Corner Anthologies #6

 

 

 

Take A Journey! ‘Travels Through The Scarlet Equinox’ Is Waiting for You To Explore! (author interview,blurbs and contest)

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BTBanner_Travels

One of my favorite authors is here to talk about her story and involvement in the collection, ‘Travels Through The Scarlet Equinox’. Welcome, Angel Martinez!  I love the idea for this anthology and the lineup of authors and stories is just such a delight.  I see that you have brought my favorite demon Shax back, along with the Brimstone crew.

Is this the first new story for them? Or have there been other space escapades along the way?

It’s the first new story in their ongoing timeline since Shax’s War came out last April. For anyone new to the series, Shax, the Demon Prince of Thieves, and the Brimstone crew had their first adventure in Hell for the Company, followed by Fear of Frogs, then Shax’s War, in chronological order. Those first three stories all happen within a few months of each other in Shax’s timeline. We jumped back quite a few years then because Shax wanted his origin story written, which happens in the prequel, Potato Surprise, just released last summer.

So this is the first new story after the first triad. Beside a Black Tarn takes place a few months after the end of Shax’s War. While each story is a full story on its own, it’s probably best to read them in order so the introduction of new characters will make the most sense.

Why Shax and the Brimstone crew?  What draws you back to them?

Shax and his crew started out as just a lark, a humorous SF piece to balance out some of the heavy bits I was writing at the time. But he’s such a fun, bad little demon – vain, arrogant, and vulnerable all at once – that I can’t help coming back to him and asking, what’s he gotten himself into this time?

While the humor part still applies, Shax and his crew have insisted on becoming real people with quirks and hopes and fears all their own. Shax’s schemes are fun, but I think I have just as much fun with how the crew interacts with him and each other.

What was the inspiration behind the idea of a Scarlet Equinox Anthology?

Mischief Corner Books does themed anthologies every year with an eye to keeping the theme broad enough for authors’ varied styles and preferred genres. Cowboys. Science Fiction. Etc. The original thought was for a Halloween anthology, but that limited some authors, so the theme was expanded to the Autumnal Equinox and autumn.

For some of the authors, like me, fall is a favorite time of year for the weather, the holidays, the changes it brings, while for others, like our Aussie writer, Toni Griffin, fall is a wonderful, foreign concept that was fun to explore.

Can we look forward to a Winter Equinox anthology lineup too?

Last year saw the release of a Christmas/Winter anthology, Chestnuts Roasting, so it may be a bit before mischief Corner comes back around for a Winter Equinox anthology.

Thanks, Angel.  I can’t wait to start reading!

AboutTheBook

TravelsFSTITLE: Travels Through The Scarlet Equinox

AUTHOR: Toni Griffin, J. Scott Coatsworth, Angel Martinez, Freddy MacKay

COVER ARTIST: Freddy MacKay

LENGTH: 475 Pages

RELEASE DATE: November 18, 2015

BLURB: The Autumnal equinox—when the trees dress in their formal scarlet and gold and the crisp air whispers of chance and change, when bright days turn into sudden storms and the veil between reality and imagination thins. Join the Mischief Corner authors as they share stories evoking this often unpredictable time of year.

A Bear’s Bear by Toni Griffin

Matthew Warner’s been a Chicago Bears fan as far back as he can remember. What other team was a young bear shifter from the Smokey Mountains supposed to root for? When his college friend gets tickets to the next home game, Matthew jumps at the chance for a holiday. It’s his favorite time of year and Nic promises him pumpkin carving and a visit to the world’s largest corn maze, what more could he want?

What Matthew doesn’t expect is finding out the defensive tackle for the Bears is his mate. Between fainting at the realization, meeting family, and dealing with the media fallout of his mate’s coming out Matthew is in for a hell of a rocky Halloween.

The Autumn Lands by J. Scott Coatsworth

Jerrith is running. Kissed by an elf, he can’t remain in his hometown of Althos anymore. Not that he wanted to stay.

Caspian still hasn’t figured out why he kissed Jerrith, but he’s running too. Since he was exiled from the Autumn Lands, his past has been hazy, and his future uncertain. But when a stray memory brings things into focus, the two decide to run toward something together. What they uncover will change how they see the world, and themselves, forever.

Beside a Black Tarn by Angel Martinez

When Shax stumbles across rumors of an experimental house that responds to the occupant’s brain functions, creating scenarios to please and delight, naturally he wants to steal it.  But with the return of a troubled and hunted Julian Parallax and an overabundance of Poe references, even Shax’s scheming may not be enough to get the Brimstone crew out alive this time.

Eternity in the Tides by Freddy MacKay

Autumn has always been Zak’s favorite season for hiking and camping. Not to mention breathing in all that crisp fall air and sitting around toasty bonfires. That all changed year and a half ago when a rich prick high on prescription pills sideswiped Zak while he was out biking.

Now his days are filled with pain and limited mobility. No more camping. No more trails. Zak’s life as he knew it is gone forever.

Back at his beloved stomping grounds, Zak is ready to say hello and goodbye one last time. But when a cry from the frigid Lake Superior waters throws him into the role of a rescuer, more than just his life hangs in the balance. Little did Zak know how much one person giving a damn mattered to him.

Excerpt

 

A Bear’s Bear by Toni Griffin

 

“Take a seat,” Christian said as he closed the door behind them. The Alpha was acting strangely, especially when he checked the hall just before the door closed. Christian walked over to where Matthew was sitting. Instead of taking a seat behind the desk as Matthew would have expected, Christian hiked a leg and leaned against the edge of the desk just to the side of him.

“Thank you for taking a minute to speak with me.”

“Anything you need, Alpha.” Matthew nodded. His hands were already sweating. Matthew rubbed them back and forth on his pants, hoping to dry them.

“There’s no reason to be nervous,” Christian assured him, chuckling lightly. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”

Matthew nodded as he sighed in relief.

“I know we don’t know each other very well,” Christian started and Matthew nodded again. “However, you’ve known my younger brother for years.”

“I have. He’s a good guy.”

“He is. Can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but I love him nonetheless.” Christian chuckled.

Matthew was too nervous to do anything more than smile.

“Anyway, I happened to overhear a conversation you had earlier on the phone.”

Matthew swallowed and fisted the denim of his jeans in his hands. Would Christian stop him from going on vacation? Was there a sleuth in Chicago? Did he need to notify them of his travel plans?

“Yes?” he asked quietly.

“You’re planning to travel to Chicago, is that correct?”

Matthew nodded slowly.

“Excellent.”

Matthew furrowed his brows. Why on earth would Christian think his travel plans were excellent? “I don’t understand.”

“I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind doing me a favor.”

“A favor? Me?”

Christian nodded. “I’m trying to go through the sleuth, one by one, and get to know everyone as the Alpha. But Bobby trusts you. And I was hoping I could too.”

Trust me? To do what? Matthew went back to rubbing his hands on his pants. If he could comfortably put them in his pockets sitting down, he would have, but he couldn’t. When Matthew didn’t say anything, Christian smiled kindly at him and continued. “I have an item that I plan on purchasing that I don’t feel comfortable with the postal system handling. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind picking it up while you’re in Chicago and bringing it back for me.”

Matthew’s mind raced. What exactly was his new Alpha into? Surely it wouldn’t be anything illegal; drugs and guns were just a couple of the things that popped into his mind. Matthew shook his head. There was no way Christian would put a member of his sleuth in danger like that, but he couldn’t help but ask.

“I won’t get into trouble for doing this, will I?”

“No.” Christian laughed. “Although if Vinnie finds out, he might have a few words to say to you.

“Vincent?” Why would Christian’s mate want to talk to him if he did this?

“The item in question is from Tiffany’s,” Christian said, raising his brow. Matthew’s eyes widened as everything suddenly made sense. Oh wow!

“Yes,” he blurted. “Yes, sure, okay, I would be honored. Anything you need.”

Christian chuckled, placed a hand on his shoulder, and squeezed.

“Thank you. You can understand why I don’t want an item such as this being posted or even couriered to me.”

“I can. I’m touched that you trust me to collect it and deliver it into your hands.”

“You’re of my sleuth. I would trust you with my life.”

Matthew’s eyes teared up at the absolute sincerity he felt from his Alpha. No one before had ever had so much faith in him.

“Thank you. I won’t let you down.”

 

The Autumn Lands by J. Scott Coatsworth

Jerrith Ladner ran down Dyer’s Alley in Althos, winded but not daring to stop. He swung left down Chaplain’s Lane where the lanterns cast a crazy patchwork of light across cobbles, uneven enough to give even the Night Guard pause. His lungs hurt, but he didn’t slow down and didn’t dare glance back.

The occasional passerby stared at him as he flashed past, but he ignored them. Several times he stumbled and fell, and blood dripped down his bare leg from a skinned knee. The outskirts of town were silent, with almost everyone already indoors for the night.

His recent past was a blur, with snatches of it flitting by in his head like birds, flapping and confusing him with their unsteady rhythm:

The kiss.

The unexpected shock of it.

The glimpse of the Autumn Lands through the Nevris man’s golden eyes.

At last, exhausted, Jerrith ducked behind a low wall that ran along the fields just outside of town and looked back.

It was quiet. There was nothing but blackness crisscrossed by lamplight at even intervals.

Almost sobbing, he sat down with his back to the wall and curled up into himself, scarcely noticing the pain that traced the lines of his rib cage or even the bright line of red on his leg.

Ever so slowly, his heavy breathing eased and his jumbled mind began to sort things out.

He had been walking to the Smithy in the early morning when the Nevris caravan had passed him by, six wagons of merchandise from the Autumn Lands covered with heavy tarps, crossing through town on its way to the stables on the far side of the village. A stranger had drawn his attention—an outrider for the caravan.

Tall and slender where Jerrith was stocky and muscled, he was a young man, more or less Jerrith’s own age. His blond hair had been pulled back behind his pointed ears, the mark of the Nevris. He moved with a quiet and restrained grace.

His eyes were wide and golden, and they’d met his as Jerrith crossed the town square on the way to ‘prentice to the blacksmith. The man’s gaze had filled Jerrith with something hot and impulsive, a sense of anticipation. Something that he had no name for.

Then he’d been gone.

Jerrith had spent the long, dizzying hours of work in the Smithy, hammering out heated metal into a new plowshare for Farmer Angus, the hot breath of the bellows tempered only by the cool springtime air from outside. Trying to forget those eyes.

The heat of the oven only served to fuel the heat he felt inside, until he thought he might explode.

Sent home at last well after nightfall, he’d heard a whispered voice from the dark alleyway between the Alchemist’s shop and the Rutting Crow. Jerrith had looked around to see if anyone was watching, then slipped into the alley, his heart beating faster and the bulge in his pants stiffening.

The man had kissed him hard and rough, and he’d returned the kiss passionately as the Nevris man pulled him close.

 

Beside a Black Tarn by Angel Martinez

“Do you have your route planned?” Shax asked Leopold as he tucked the field glasses into his jacket.

“Up the long drainpipe. On the side without windows. The master suite first.”

“That’s my boy. Remember, only what’s out in the open tonight. No looking for safes, trapdoors, or hidden rooms.”

An irritated peep followed his advice, accompanied by what Shax was beginning to recognize as a hedgehog glare. “I have it, Captain. You gave simple instructions. I am not Heckle.”

“Now, now. None of that.” Shax ran a hand through his hair to complete his artful mussing. “Heckle’s not stupid. Just… easily distracted.”

“And impetuous. And clumsy and so twitchy. Curious fingers.”

“He did apologize and has orders not to enter your burrow again. Please let it go.” Shax unfastened the first three buttons of his shirt. “Here we go, then. I’ll do the best I can to give you time, but when you hear me leaving or when I call for you, it’s time to go.”

With a last pat to Shax’s leg, Leopold dropped to all fours and scurried off through the vegetation. This would be classic accomplice distraction technique, nothing fancy. Start with the basics. He tapped in the code for the Brimstone‘s pilot pod where Ness was monitoring. “We’re going in, cupcake. Radio silence, please. I’ll yell if we need you.”

“Please be careful, my love.” Ness’s soft voice caressed his nerves.

“Easy job. Nothing to worry about.”

“You do know you’ve said that before.”

“Hush. No more. I’ll see you soon.”

He started for the front door, keeping in plain sight, dragging his right foot a bit in case anyone was watching. Tonight, Leopold was the second-story man while Shax was just the diversion.

He waited until Leopold had made it around the side of the house before he lifted the handle on the gargoyle knocker and hammered on the door. “Hello! Is anyone home? Please, please help! There’s been a terrible accident!”

A thin, terrified wail seeped through the heavy door. Shax tilted his head to listen. No, this was getting too ridiculous. A clank of chains accompanied heavy footfalls toward the door. Something on the other side let out an eerie moan. Then the door swung open on creaking hinges to reveal a dim, cobweb-festooned chandelier in a much-neglected front hall.

Oh, for all the sulfurous pits’ sakes. Shax decided to play along and performed the requisite action by calling “Hello?” at the dark and sinister interior.

He jerked back when a face suddenly popped up before him. Pale, cadaverous, sunken eyes wide, the apparition regarded him openmouthed for a single instant.

“Bells and whiskers!” the apparition whispered in obvious horror. “What in all elements are you doing out there? You’re supposed to be in here. Oh my goodness.”

A skeletal hand closed around Shax’s wrist and he blinked in confusion as he was dragged inside. “Pardon?”

“It’s really rather rude of you. If you’re going to answer the summons, you should at least do it properly.”

“I’m… sorry?”

 

Eternity in the Tides by Freddy MacKay

Crimson,  hot  pink,  burnt  orange,  and  a  dark  purple  lit  the  sky  and splashed  over  the  calm  waters  of  Lake  Superior.  Dusk  had  fallen  in  all  its beauty,  gracing  Zak  with  the  perfect  moment  at  his  favorite  stomping grounds.  If  he  had  to  go,  and  well…  yeah,  he  couldn’t  ask  for  anything better than this.  Tonight  was  the  night. Had to be.

Water  lapped  at  the  boat,  rocking  it  gently.  A  breeze  wafted  over  Zak. He  shivered,  then  hugged  himself  as  he  looked  over  the  lake,  back  at Madeline  Island.  Like  each  night  over  the  past  few  days,  a  pang  of  longing hit  him.  Zak  had  said  his  goodbyes,  accepted  the  fate  handed  to  him,  knew better  than  to  hold  on  to  dreams  he  could  never  have.  He  should  have  been able  to take  the  next  step.

But  he  couldn’t.

Each  night  he  rowed  back  to  his  rental  cabin,  Quiet  Bequest,  in  defeat. What  the  hell  he  held  on  for,  Zak  didn’t  have  a  clue.  His  heart  thumped heavily,  his  palms  slipped  over  the  oars,  and  the  hair  on  his  arms  stood  up —goose  bumps  everywhere—as  if something big were  about  to happen.

Well,  yeah,  something  huge  if  Zak  could  get  his  head  on  straight.  Well, maybe  not  straight—his  plan  was  utter  ridiculousness  to  the  outside observer. Made  sense  to him, though. But  then it  would.

Anticipation  rode  Zak  hard.  He  knew  what  he  had  to  do.  Planned  it. Came  determined.  This  trip,  the  two-week  cabin  retreat  he  could  never afford,  the  rowboat—my  accident—had  been  in  the  works  for  months.  And now… now  Zak cowered in his  waterlogged rowboat.

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AuthorBio

About Toni Griffin

Toni Griffin lives in Darwin, the smallest of Australia’s capital cities. Born and raised in the state she’s a Territorian through and through. Growing up Toni hated English with a passion (as her editors can probably attest to) and found her strength lies with numbers.

Now, though, she loves escaping to the worlds she creates and hopes to continue to do so for many years to come. She’s a single mother of one and works full time. When she’s not writing you can just about guarantee that she will be reading one of the many MM authors she loves.

For a complete list of books, go to: http://tonigriffin.net/Current_Books.html

:: Website :: Facebook Page ::

 

About J. Scott Coatsworth

Scott is the admin for the Queer Sci Fi site. He has been writing since ele- mentary 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, 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 be- fore—and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs QSF, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatu- ral fiction.

:: Website :: Twitter :: Facebook Page ::

 

About Freddy MacKay

Freddy grew up in the Midwest, playing sports and running around outside. And honestly, that much has not changed since Freddy was small and throwing worms at other kids, expect worm throwing has been replaced with a healthy geocaching addiction. Freddy enjoys traveling and holds the view a person should continually to learn about new things and people whenever possible.

Freddy’s contemporary LGBTQ book, Incubation: Finding Peace 2, won 3rd Place – Best Gay Erotic Fiction in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. In 2013, Freddy’s story, Internment, tied for 3rd Place – Best Gay Fantasy in the Rainbow Awards. Freddy’s steampunk/SF story, Feel Me, was a finalist and honorable mention in the 2014 Rainbow Awards for SF. You can email Freddy at: freddy.m.mackay@gmail.com

:: Website :: Twitter ::

About Angel Martinez

While Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres, she writes both kinds of gay romance – Science Fiction and Fantasy. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author’s head) Angel has one husband, one son, two cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

:: Website :: Facebook Page :: Goodreads :: Email ::

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November 18  – The Purple Rose Tea House
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November 20  – The Land of Make Believe
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Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review — Foolish Encounters: A Rainbow Gold Anthology by Angel Martinez, Tinnean, Tali Spencer, Amy Lane, J.C. Wallace, Elin Gregory, and Freddy MacKay

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Foolish Encounters coverThis is a collection of stories in which one or both of the MCs have something happen which disrupts their routine before they have that first chance encounter. As the blurb states, “An accident, a chance encounter, a thought blurted out, a boat blown off course, a change in direction that suddenly runs into the line of fire – the smallest misstep can change everything. These foolish encounters are the moments around which lives pivot and sometimes spin out of control.”

A Message from the Home Office by Angel Martinez
Sissal, a cobra shifter, is sent an assistant to his outpost on planet Earth. The young guy named Rcrred, and nicknamed Richard, is cute, blond, very high strung, and uses his eidetic memory to spout regulations at Sissal every chance he gets. Richard is a dik-dik shifter and is the last thing Sissal wanted in his life. But Sissal adapts to the situation until he discovers that Richard has hacked into his computer and is apparently trying to find something on him to report back to headquarters. Actually, he’s reporting back to a specific officer who has had it in for Sissal for years. This is a very nice story with great world-building, interesting characters, and a plausible, complex storyline. Great for those who like sci-fi/futuristic adventures. 4 stars

Shredding the Heart by JC Wallace
Nicholas is a skateboarder who is hoping to win a national title, and in the meantime is working, going to college part time, and practicing on his skateboard every chance he gets. He’s not only obsessed with skateboarding, though. He’s obsessed with the guy he sees out running every morning, and in an attempt to get closer one morning, he accidently overcompensates on his board, sending it slamming into the man’s head. Quinn is a workaholic, driven to achieve in his high pressure finance job, and hadn’t noticed the gorgeous skateboarder until they both ended up in the hospital together. Eventually, Quinn gives in to Nicholas’s attempts to befriend him, and the two find they have a lot in common. But Quinn’s been burned before and doesn’t give his trust lightly. When he perceives that Nicholas has used him to get sponsorship to attend his next skateboarding event, he cruelly breaks Nicholas’s heart and storms off in a huff.

This is the longest of the stories and was very well done. The author took the time to build a relationship with the men and gave them plenty of time to work out their own issues and for Quinn to realize his own stupidity. Shredding is defined as performing an athletic sport well, and it’s not until Quinn learns how to master his heart that the two can finally find their HEA. Great for those who love a little angst and self-flagellation mixed with their romance. 5 stars

The Lunar Imperative by Elin Gregory
Futuristic sci-fi about Haken, a Vargan sergeant who leads a covert mission to another planet to exterminate the man who escaped their planet with their treasury. One of his soldiers, Raimi, is attracted to Haken but is not of the same rank so Haken hesitates to pursue anything. The Vargans are huge, and shift-shape to beasts during the full moon, often losing their humanity during that time and feasting on each other. However, at this full moon, both Raimi and Haken have been captured. The heart of the story revolves around whether or not they will kill each other, exterminate their captor, or be killed. This is an interesting tale with a lot of world-building for such a short story. If you like non-human species and sci-fi space adventures, you will likely enjoy this one. 3 stars

Blue and Green Persuasion by Tinnean
Stranded aboard The Midnight Ride, a starship which has been floating without power through the galaxies for centuries, Hart accepts that his fate may be to die aboard the ship that was to have transported them to a new world before it lost power. But as they enter a new galaxy, his father, the captain, asks him to power up his pod—a small spaceship that he uses for scouting. As Chief Scout, he will not only drop into a possibly hostile atmosphere, but he may never return to the ship since there’s not enough power to get back. But the reports look good. The planet seems to have both water and land mass, and when he lands he finds an oxygen-rich atmosphere, small animals to use as food, and beautiful, bird-like sentient beings. Kes is such a being and right from the start, they are attracted to each other. But Hart has to direct his father and the other survivors onboard The Midnight Ride as they use shuttle tenders to land in this new world so the men are separated until Hart completes his mission. This was a great story with amazing world-building within so few words. The primary romance, and another between Hart’s brother and one of the soldiers were sweetly done, and we see enough of the promise of a future together to make it a satisfying romance story. 5 stars

Well Hello, Eight Eyes by Tali Spencer
Tanner is out on Lake Michigan when a horrible storm blows up, and he can’t make it back to shore. Shooting for an island, his boat capsizes, and he ends up on Spider Island where the residents don’t seem very happy about saving his life. He’s assigned to Cory as his housemate and “sitter”, and told to stay in the cabin no matter what happens while Cory is gone during the day. He steps onto the porch and is greeted with a scary sight—huge, furry, eight-legged creatures resembling spiders seem to be playing with each other in a nearby field. Needless to say, he gets indoors and doesn’t plan to go out at all the next day. That night, he and Cory get closer and more romantically involved, and he’s starting to wonder if he even wants to leave the island the next day when the supply boat is due to arrive. But before he has to make the choice, he gets a greater shock when he spots a spider indoors with him. What happens next changes the course of his future, and he finds a chance to be happy with Cory in a warm and fuzzy way (pun intended!). 3.5 stars

The Fenestra Penetration by Amy Lane
A fenestra is an opening or a window. Steve is a UPS driver who enjoys imagining what goes on behind the windows he views as he makes his deliveries every day. Usually he can see something inside each window that fires his imagination, but one house on his route has all the shades pulled, and when he sees where the package he’s about to deliver is from, he’s hoping that the guy who lives there is as hot as his imagination makes him out to be. That particular company only produces certain items—the kind of items Steve himself prefers, and when he gets a look at the cute guy who receives the box, he wants more. Eventually, he not only gets it he gets much more than his imagination could have possibly hoped for. A really cute, sweet, hot, well done story packed with humor and romance. 5 stars

The Nut Job by Freddy Mackay
This one is somewhat of an offshoot of “A Message from the Home Office” by Angel Martinez. Spencer is the pilot who dropped off Rcrred and got out of there quickly before Sissal could make him return for the irritating little rik-rik. Spence is a squirrel, or a squirrel-like being, who is on a mission to gather nuts, not only for the people on his planet, but there’s also a little side trip to set himself up with his own private stash. When his assistants, some of whom are large and furry, are spotted and shot at by a human, Spence has to abort his mission, drop his nuts, and try to get his friends to safety. It’s during this escape that he meets Raijin, a human male who is stoned on pot and ’shrooms and doesn’t really believe his own eyes. Over time, and a great deal of bickering, he and Spence start to form an attraction, and when Raijin is injured by that same gun-toting human, Spence does whatever he can to keep him safe, including making Raijin his pet. This is a nutty story (pun intended) in which the author shows a definite sense of humor with the nut jokes. A great way to end the anthology, and though not strictly a romance, there’s hope for one as the story closes. 4 stars

Overall, this is a nice anthology, definitely just perfect for those who enjoy sci-fi since many of the stories were space adventures. I enjoyed some stories more than others, and I’m sure other readers will have their own choices, but overall I enjoyed this very much.

Cover art by Wilde City Press.  Cute cover that works for the anthology.

Sales Links:     Wilde City Press        All Romance (ARe)      Amazon       Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, First, 353 pages
Published April 1st 2015 by Wilde City Press, LLC (first published March 31st 2015)
original titleFoolish Encounters: A Rainbow Gold Anthology
ISBN 1925313069 (ISBN13: 9781925313062)
edition languageEnglish

Get Into the Holiday Spirit with Mischief Corner Books ‘Chestnuts Roasting’ Anthology from Angel Martinez, Silvia Violet, Freddy MacKay, and Toni Griffin (book tour and contest)

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 Book Name: Chestnuts Roasting Anthology
Goodreads Link
Authors Names: Toni Griffin, Angel Martinez, Silvia Violet, Freddy MacKay

Four authors, four different perspective on the holidays.  Now for something a little different.  Instead of a full author interview, I asked each of the authors one question. Where did your inspiration come from?  Here are their answers…

Angel Martinez:

Yes. Everywhere. Everything. A conversation, a painting, a moment on the street, Freddy daring me to try something – there are no limits or predictable patterns for inspiration. I use a lot of science news and folktale as starting points, but those are certainly not my only inspirations.

Silvia Violet:

My story is set in Baton Rouge. I lived there for six years so all the celebrating Christmas when it still feely summery outside comes from personal experience. A scene with a barista asking out a guy who considered himself straight just popped into my head one day. I wrote it down, knowing I’d use it eventually and when I started thinking about Christmas stories, there it was.

Freddy MacKay:

I decided I wanted to write a fantasy, so I went shopping for mythical creatures. I like to go for the more obscure, lesser used/known creatures. When I found my “demon” I was hooked because I knew I hit something different and fun for me to write.

Toni Griffin:

My story, Wreath of Fire, is book two in my Smokey Mountain Bears series. It’s my only series set outside of Australia and the reason for that is in 2012 I visited Gatlinburg TN and the surrounding areas. I met some amazing people, had the time of my life in one of the most relaxing, picturesque settings I could have ever imagined. This place needed to be put down on paper. When the idea for the Cabin for Two anthology was being thrown around I knew exactly what I wanted to write. A Bear in the Woods was born. It’s taken me a little while to get back to the characters and write book two, but I can guarantee you won’t have to wait as long for book three.

 

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Author Group Bio:

Mischief Corner Books is an organization of superheroes… no, it’s a platinum-album techno-fusion group…no, hold on a sec here…

Ah, yes. Mischief Corner is a diverse group of authors who met on a mountain in Tennessee and decided since we probably were too easily distracted to rule the world that we’d settle for causing a bit of mayhem instead.

In addition to making mayhem, we publish books with a diverse range of genres and topics… we live to break molds. 

MCB. Giving voice to LGBTQ fiction.

Author Contact:

Mischief Corner Books Website and Store
MCB Facebook page

Publisher: Mischief Corner Books, LLCChestnutsRoasting10x15
Cover Artist: Catherine Dair
Sales Links:  

 

Blurb(s):

Christmas means different things to everyone, but most often it’s all about pulling loved ones close and brightening the gloom. The fire’s crackling. The snow is piling up outside, even if it’s only in your dreams. Time to snuggle up with some cocoa and some stories carefully crafted by the Mischief Corner Crew to warm hearts and cockles.

Wreath of Fire: Smokey Mountains Bears 2 – Toni Griffin:

Michael’s trying to start a new life away from his abusive father, but he’s drifting and not sure what he wants. When he accidentally starts a kitchen fire, the hot new fireman who comes to the rescue is not only another bear shifter. He’s Michael’s mate. Michael desperately needs to get his act together and figure out what he wants if he has any hope of claiming the bear fated to be his.

A Christmas Cactus for the General – Angel Martinez

Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can’t imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought.

Holly Jolly – Silvia Violet

I’m not gay. I just notice men sometimes. Everybody does, right? I notice Dane a lot, like every time I’m near him, but just because I think he’s an attractive man that doesn’t mean I like him, does it?

I’m also not a fan of Christmas. Too many years “celebrating” with my Bible-thumping family ruined the holiday for me. So what if I envy all these cheerful souls dashing about with smiles on their faces? I don’t have to like Christmas, do I? If anyone could get me in the Christmas spirit, it would be Dane with his easy, relaxed manner and his gorgeous smile. If that were going to happen, though, I’d have to find the courage to talk to him and to admit that maybe I don’t know myself all that well after all.

Snow on Spirit Bridge – Freddy MacKay

Alone in Japan, Finni is struggling against the constant distrust, avoidance, and xenophobia he experiences every day. He misses home. He misses his family. Nightmares come all too frequently because of the stress, and well, Christmas is just not Christmas in Japan. Not how he understands it.

Distressed by how miserable Finni is, his roommate, Mamoru, offers to be Finni’s family for Christmas. Little does he know how much one agreement would change everything between them, because both of them kept secrets neither ever dreamed were true.

Categories: Contemporary, Fantasy, Humor, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy (Please note: Not all tags refer to the collection of stories.)

Excerpt From Snow on Spirit Bridge by Freddy MacKay

Chapter One

There should be snow. Lots of it. Moreover, it should be below freezing with clouds, not this sunny and fifties crap. People should be huddled together and hurrying to get inside. It didn’t feel like Christmas otherwise.

With a sigh, Finni glanced around the train platform.

If he’d been home in Chicago, snow would blanket the streets and salt would crunch under his feet. Shop windows with mannequins would line the Magnificent Mile with Christmas winter scenes. The tree would be up at his parents’, decorated with bright lights and homemade ornaments he and his siblings made over the years. One or two presents would lie under the tree as a teaser for the younger cousins. Warm drinks would be waiting for him as he stepped through the door and brushed the snow off his coat. His family would smile at him and voices would call out to him.

If he’d been home in Chicago.

Tokyo wasn’t home.

A big, bustling city, yes, but not home.

As people hurried from one shop to the next, got on and off the trains, and ran about in their jackets and sweaters, Tokyo couldn’t have been farther from home. Yes, decorations were up at cake shops and at the department stores, but they weren’t the same. The plastic Christmas trees seemed more likely to come alive and hunt people down than give off a relaxing pine scent. They didn’t give off the same cozy family feeling Finni connected with. Everything was geared toward couples.

Since when was Christmas about couples?

A pang of loneliness ate at Finni’s gut. All he wanted was his parents, his brothers and sisters, and his cousins, aunts, uncles, and some snow. He needed to see everyone was happy and okay. Was that too much to ask for?

A chilled wind blasted Finni, and he looked up, expecting the train, but nothing rattled down the tracks. Other people grabbed their coats and hunched. Some young girls squealed and huddled closer to each other. Finally, a shiver wracked Finni, clueing him in to the unusual temperature drop.

Temperatures had plummeted from the fifties to almost thirty since he’d arrived on the platform, not normal weather. In only a T-shirt, even Finni felt the cold.

Finni sighed, closed his eyes, and concentrated on sunshine and warm thoughts. He almost laughed under the circumstances. The people would think he was odd and leave an even bigger circle around him. One more oddity to make Finni miss home even more.
The swoosh and rattle of a train making its way down the tracks caused Finni to open his eyes, watching expectantly with the others.

About damn time. Usually the trains didn’t run late unless something untoward happened. Like a jumper, which occurred more often than Finni comprehended. He risked a glance around and saw the people more relaxed, the extreme temperature flux now gone, just an oddity to discuss among themselves.

The train hissed to a stop, the doors popped open, and everyone hurried on, ready to leave the unusual drop in temperature behind them. While the men and women bumped into each other, the girls giggling as they passed Finni, he still got a wide berth as he ducked through. The crowd moved and swayed in a loose circle around him until Finni got to his spot by the doors and faced the window.

Once again, the seat next to him remained empty, no one sitting down even though the train was packed. Not every foreigner got quite the same treatment he did, but his size—not to mention the blond hair and blue eyes—made people’s reaction to him more extreme. Finni ignored the slight, though it stung more than it had the past couple of months. He’d learned not to notice when people stared or jumped in surprised when they looked up at him or moved away as soon as they noticed him after they sat down. Better to stay quiet and pretend nothing happened than draw attention to the behavior. It only made things worse.

Except today, the unfounded fears of the people he’d rode the train with since his move mid-October dug into him like claws. He sighed, leaned against the windows, and closed his eyes, exhausted.

Sleep wasn’t easy lately. Nightmares waited for him, ones that made it harder to be away from his family. He yawned, fighting off the weariness, but the rocking of the train called to him like a siren to a sailor.

No matter the direction he looked in, Finni only saw white. The snow beat down on him as he cried out. Torrents of wind spiraled all around him, the weather mimicking his heart.

Why hadn’t anyone come? The sky was dark. Someone should have found them by now. He trembled in the cold and felt so tired. He just wanted to sleep.

But he couldn’t. Not yet.

Finni tried to call out, but his voice had given out long before the sun went down.

He clutched Gunder to him. Realization had finally sunk in, but as he sniffed, Finni knew he’d never let Gunder go. No matter what.
He should’ve kept up with him. Kept Gunder in his sights, but his brother ran so much faster than he did. His legs were so long and big compared to Finni’s scrawny ones. Someday, he’d be bigger than Gunder, though, he just knew it. Then he’d be able to outrun his brother.

When they were grown up, three years wouldn’t be that big of a difference in age.

“Hear that, Gunder?” Finni asked in a whisper, pressing his face against his brother’s. “I’m going to be bigger than you someday. Be able to run faster. So…so…so…”

He broke down, sobs torn from his chest. How did they get home? Finni just wanted Mom and Dad. He just wanted to go home with Gunder.

“Mom!” His voice barely made it out, but he had to try. “Dad! Somebody!”

Nothing. He was alone. All alone.

Mom. Dad. I don’t want to be alone.

He screamed and the wind picked up, whipped around him in a cyclone. The temperature dropped farther.

“Finni! Gunder!”

Who was that?

“Finni! Where are you boys?”

“Gr-gr-grandpa?” Guilt warred with hope. He should hide. Everyone was gonna be mad. So, so mad. They’d never like him again.
The wind’s moaning stopped. The snowflakes stirred no more. Grandpa’s huge, hulking figure appeared.

“Grandpa,” Finni cried out. The hiccups came as he tried to get it all out. “G-G-Gunder fell through the ice… I-I-couldn’t reach him. Gunder…he… I-I-tried to g-g-get us home.”

“Oh, oh. Oh, Finni,” his grandpa said quietly. Tears ran down his cheeks.

Oh no. Grandpa was mad.

“My little boy.” Grandpa wrapped his big arms around them and kissed his forehead. “My poor boys.”

Finni wailed, and the snow picked back up.

 

Snow on Spirit Bridge – Freddy MacKay – Angel Martinez Reading The Excerpt – so wonderful!

Pages:

MCBBadgeTour Dates/Stops:

20-Nov

Amanda C. Stone

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

21-Nov

Parker Williams

24-Nov

Love Bytes

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

25-Nov

Hearts on Fire

26-Nov

BFD Book Blog

27-Nov

MM Good Book Reviews

28-Nov

Velvet Panic

1-Dec

Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

Molly Lolly

2-Dec

Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

Cate Ashwood

3-Dec

My Fiction Nook

Queer Town Abbey

Prism Book Alliance

4-Dec

Multitasking Mommas

Cathy Brockman Romances 

 

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