Love SyFy? Here’s a Must Read New Novel! The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky #1) by J. Scott Coatsworth (author interview and excerpt)

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The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky #1) by J. Scott Coatsworth

DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:

DSP Publications (paperback)DSP Publications (eBook) | AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo iBooksGoodreads | 

QueeRomance Ink

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have J. Scott Coatsworth here today on his tour for his new release, The Stark Divide.   Welcome, Scott and thanks for agreeing to answer our author questions!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with J. Scott Coatsworth

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

Hmmm, that’s hard to say – mostly my characters are amalgams of other people I know. But of course, my experiences filter into just about any character I write. Still, I’d say the closest to me is probably Alex in my short story “Flames”, and Alex’s mother is totally my mom. 😛

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

Not exactly? Although it’s always easier to write a story set in a fantasy or sci fi setting because you get to make up most of the details. I have written some stories set in real places that did require a fair amount of research – the epitome of this being “Through the Veil”, a post climate change tale set in a half-drowned San Francisco. We drove down there to survey the drowned parts and figure out what would be above water. It was a lot of fun. 😛

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

Yes… I’ve had a soft spot for sci fi and fantasy since I started reading adult novels in third grade. I devoured the Lord of the Rings and lived in Pern for a couple months. I spun around the sun inside Rama, and gloried at Psychohistory’s potential. It definitely informed my writing desires as I grew up. I wanted to make those worlds that I used to live in as a kid.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Hmmm… growing up, it was probably Anne McCaffrey and J.R.R. Tolkien. Both crafted amazingly detailed worlds full of danger and great beauty. I remember asking for “Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern” for Christmas in 1984, and being so thrilled when my Dad (who had no idea what it was) bought it for me.

More recently? Peter F. Hamilton has inspired me with his trains that cross between worlds and his worlds that are living things. And Sheri Tepper, who just recently passed away, wrote stories that left me thinking afterwards for days and weeks.

I’m also finding inspiration lately from Black Mirror, a fantastic sci fi show out of the UK that’s a latter-day Twilight Zone. The way this show projects the now into the future has to be seen to be believed.

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

Um, they choose me? LOL… Seriously, the publishers put them together, but I usually get input. In the case of The Stark Divide, DSPP presented me with two amazing covers by Aaron Anderson, but neither quite captured the feel of Forever, the world in the story. So I asked him to go back to the drawing board, and he came up with the amazing cover (minus a few tweaks) that went on the final book. I love working with artists and seeing how they interpret my writer vision.

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

“Flames.” It’s set in Tucson (my home town). It includes Italian, my second language. The mother is basically my mom. And it’s about marriage equality. It’s one of my most romantic tales.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m currently writing the sequel to “The Stark Divide.” If all goes as planned, “The Rising Tide” will come out in October of 2018. I also recently finished “Lander,” the sequel to Skythane. And I plan to release “The River City Chronicles” in print and ebook form early next year.

Blurb

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.


Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

Excerpt

DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.

About the Author

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

Author Links:

A MelanieM Review :Renewal : 3rd Annual Queer SyFy Flash Fiction Anthology

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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.

I am such a fan of flash fiction, the ability to  tell a complete story in 300 words or less.  Renewal is Queer SyFy’s Fourth year’s collection of flash fiction and what an incredible winner it is. Like a library full of tiny jewels, Renewal‘s flash fiction is glorious in it’s presentation of the dizzying array of imaginative themes and world building by it’s host of authors, the authors represented, the timeliness and resonance of some of their flash fiction storylines and the huge spectrum of genres included from horror to fantasy to science fiction.

Also by the sheer poetry of some of it’s stories.  As you can imagine, given the shortness of the fiction, the quantity of stories within is immense.  So are the number I call favorites, far too many to list here.  And it’s funny, you read them so quickly, that you can be several stories past one before the impact it leaves kicks in.  The “huh, no, let me think about that” that leads to you flipping back to that tale and pondering the thoughts of the author may have had writing it.  Trust me, there are many of those.

Over and over again, authors stopped my in my “reading tracks”, left breathless by what was before me.

Under Science Fiction Part II (yes it’s divided into sections like Horror and Fantasy etc), there is this story whose lyrical imagery has stayed with me:

I Will Be Your Shelter by Carey Ford Compton.  I would have bought this collection for this flash fiction alone based on this.  I will give you but this small moment from the story that still makes me weep with appreciation:

The operating room is blue, sterile. We are awake for the procedure. Surgeons slice into our numbed, shaved scalps. The drill bites. Lights, metallic tongue, clicks of bone.

Then: she bleeds into me like watercolor.

Such power, such beauty.  And this collection is full of such haunting tales.

As J. Scott Coatsworth said in his introduction “this collection includes many colors of the LGBTIQA (or QUILTBAG, if you prefer) universe—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual characters populate these pages—it was our most diverse contest yet.”

I also think it was Queer SyFy’s most outstanding. With pertinent quotes by authors at the beginning of each section and a easily accessible table of contents (I used it often to go back to stories I wanted to reread that I bookmarked), Renewal is a collection of stories that will make you think, occasionally laugh, push some boundaries, give you new authors to explore, and much, much, more.   Don’t you love it when that happens?

And yes, I highly recommend it!

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

Cover art by Gus Li is just gorgeous!

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 196 pages
Published September 13th 2017 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
ASINB074ZPB4ZM
Edition Language English

James Stryker with Deleted Scenes from his latest release The Simplicity of Being Normal (guest post, excerpts and giveaway)

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Title:  The Simplicity of Being Normal

Author: James Stryker

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 8, 2017

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 87500

Genre: Contemporary, YA, transgender, transvestite, transphobia, bullying, child neglect, PTSD, mental illness, Mormonism

Add to Goodreads

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is delighted to have James Stryker here today. The author has brought some deleted scenes for our readers to enjoy. Thank you, James!

✒︎

Deleted Scenes from The Simplicity of Being Normal by James Stryker

Sam’s depression is only briefly mentioned in the final version of The Simplicity of Being Normal; however, in original drafts I’d intended for his mental state and suicide attempt to play a more prominent role. The more I invested in this idea, I realized that it felt misplaced and was driving the book in a direction I wanted to avoid. Where Simplicity begins, Sam has moved forward from the feelings of hopeless that drove him to suicide. Placing so much emphasis on the incident seemed to counter who he’d become, and while it’s important for the reader to be aware that he’d hit a critical point previously, the level of detail wasn’t necessary.

Proof of successful “darling slaughter,” removing this concept from Simplicity allowed me to take the idea of being institutionalized and forced to take anti-psychotics into its own book (completed, and currently titled The Better Man). Being an entirely different piece, I was able to take liberties and explore directions I wouldn’t have been able to in Sam’s world.

In the deleted section below, Sam prompts his teacher, Todd Keegan to view the full school record detailing his “Emotionally Disturbed” classification.

***

“Supposedly, supposedly the law considers me a fully formed human being with the same rights as anyone else, but that’s not true,” Sam had said before.

At the time, Todd had thought that the young man had jumped the track and been about to start a rant about lowering the drinking or smoking age. Usual things teenagers bitched about while there were people starving in third-world countries. Of course, Todd’s care for malnourished Ethiopians was about equal to his concern over green apple jellybeans, but he’d decided to listen anyway. Because he didn’t consider Sam in the Snoochie pile anymore, and sometimes he even surprised him.

Anything I do can, and will be held against me. I’m not innocent until proven guilty. Not until I’m eighteen.” 

“You don’t seem the type to have spent much time behind bars,” Todd had responded. “Or what do you call it? Juvey?”

“Read my file, Mr. K.” 

So once the school hallways had cleared out, Todd left his classroom earlier than usual.

He opened the door to the dark front office. Stepping inside, he didn’t bother to turn on the lights. He just crossed to the back room and into what should have been a secure office. He flipped the light switch in the little room, five black file cabinets were illuminated.

Todd closed the door behind him to hide the light, since technically student files weren’t community property and one was supposed to gain the proper authorization to view the confidential information. He didn’t even need to jimmy open the cabinet.

If I ever have to flee the country, I’ll stop in and pick up a few dozen files.

Not for his entertainment. Full names, addresses, contact information, histories, dates of birth, social security numbers…

It’s an identity thief’s wet dream. I could retire at thirty on a private island in the subtropics. It’s a good thing I don’t like sand.

Todd took out Sam’s folder and opened the cover. It was thicker than most records – about thirty-five pages secured by the top tab embedded fasteners.

On the first page, he skimmed down to the bottom section where the letters “ED” had been typed in a field labeled “CLASSIFICATION; IF ANY.”

But he already knew Sam had bene labeled as “Emotionally Disturbed.” When he received his student lists every year he could count on at least a few names having an attached tag. But unless there was an IEP or a 405 that he was required to read and abide by, he never bothered to dig further. He didn’t care why Johnny’s hamster dying eight years ago necessitated that he have unlimited bathroom passes and needed a ruler to scratch his ass at exactly 12:05 PM. 

Under the “ATTACHED ACCOMMODATIONS” header, both the “IEP” and “SECTION 405” boxes were unchecked. But in the last, shaded blue area marked “CLASSIFICATION OTHER COMMENTS” the note had been added: “IMPORTANT. SEE FOLLOWING DOCS.” 

Todd turned back the page and read more closely.

It was a petition for emergency admission of a minor to a behavioral health center. He recognized the name of another teacher listed as the petitioner at the top section of the statement.

“I respectfully represent that Amanda Michelle Porter needs to be admitted to a Designated Receiving Facility, on an emergency basis because she is in such a mental condition as a result of mental illness as to pose a likelihood of danger to self or others. I believe she has engaged in the following dangerous acts:”

He read the box that’d been checked:

“(A). Within the past thirty (30) days, s/he has inflicted serious bodily injury on him/herself or has attempted suicide or serious self-injury and there is a likelihood the act or attempted act will recur if admission is not ordered.

Sam didn’t seem like a violent person. Todd had Julie to accept and support him. But who did Sam have? And there was only so long a person could stand alone when their kneecaps kept being broken with a baseball bat.

He flipped the page.

“Mental examination of: Amanda Michelle Porter.”

And the results:

“No past or present mental conditions, medications, or hospitalizations. Memory, speech, productiveness, coherence, insight are normal. Current mental status anxious. Potentially depressed due to parents’ divorce and father’s recent remarriage and disinterest. Mother is relatively absent and preoccupied with self-agenda. Handles inordinate amount of responsibility as a result. Grandmother recently passed. Excellent candidate for trial medication.”

Todd only leafed through intake forms, more psychiatric evaluations, and recommendations upon release. It appeared that Sam had spent two weeks in the behavioral center before being freed.

Anything I do can, and will be held against me. I’m not innocent until proven guilty. Not until I’m eighteen,” Sam had said.

Todd tucked the file back in the cabinet. He didn’t feel like he needed to read anymore.

I get it. Without you having to tell me anything else, I get it.

***

Sam had given him more details the next day. As soon as he came in for the prep period, he asked immediately if Todd had read his file.

“They pulled me out of class, you know. A policeman came into the room and escorted me out. Drove me up to the hospital in a cop car.”

“Where was your mom?”

“At work. They wouldn’t even let her see me for the first few days.” Sam added another stapled packet to a growing pile. “They talked to me, they stripped me, they booked me. In less than two hours. I spent the next twenty-four in a padded room.”

Todd hadn’t been sure what to say, so he just let the young man continue talking.

“I’ve never felt as vulnerable as when I was in that padded room. Trapped and alone with just this little window where anyone could look in on me whenever they wanted.  And there was nowhere to hide. It did get a little better once they let me out of isolation and I got my clothes back… Well, almost all my clothes.” He’d put his stapler down and twisted his chair to the side. “Do you know what the most important thing is in a mental institution, Mr. K? What it needs to exist?”

He wished a clever comment would pop into his head, but nothing came.

“Control. Absolute control.” Sam looked at the ground. “They wouldn’t give me back my shoes.”

“Why not?”

“Because I might make a break for it, even though I promised I wasn’t going to run. And I’d be unable to get as far, and be easier to catch without shoes.” He swallowed before tilting his head up again. “Are you familiar with what pinioning is?”

Todd was. But drawing a parallel between having one’s shoes taken away for two weeks and surgically removing a bird’s joint so it was permanently incapable of flight seemed dramatic.

“But do you know what is an apt comparison?” For this, Sam again went back to stapling papers, and Todd could tell it was because he was trying to control his emotions. “Using a child to test a new psychiatric drug.”

Jesus Christ.

“They held me down to take my blood and make sure I was a good candidate. And then they forced me to take it. I was one of the first children they used it on. It’s been two years. Do you know what the fucking warning label says now? It says to not administer to individuals under the age of twenty-one! It’s an anti-psychotic! You read my file! I may have been depressed because a lot of shit was happening to me, but I wasn’t psychotic!”

Synopsis

Sam has his life after graduation figured out. Until then he has to deal with being terrorized for expressing his gender identity. His pleas for help have been ignored by the principal and most of the staff, and his time is spent moving quickly between classrooms and anticipating the freedom that will come with leaving high school behind.

Teacher Todd Keegan, at first, wonders if Amanda is on drugs and if he’s underestimated her maturity. Between enabling his traumatized, dependent sister and hiding secrets of his own, Todd has no desire to waste time on a junkie teenager, but this one intrigues him. When Amanda shows up in his classroom, bleeding from a head wound, he decides to investigate further.

In order to survive senior year, Sam must convince Mr. Keegan that he’s not a junkie teenager and decide if, unlike his family and school staff, this teacher can be trusted with the truth and become his only ally.

Excerpt

The Simplicity of Being Normal
James Stryker © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“Amanda Michelle! I won’t tolerate that mouth of yours a second longer! Get out!”

“Or what? You’ll hit me? Repeat performance sixteen years later. Go ahead!”

If there was one positive thing to be said of his mother, it was that she avoided violence. While her own mother had often resorted to physical punishment, Scarlet had never put a hand on Stevie. And she’d only hit Sam once, which was how she learned her lesson.

“Amanda was maybe one. Barely walking. I can’t remember what she did, but I hit her so hard that she flew across the room. That’s when I decided to keep my temper in check. I just send them away when I’m angry now.”

Scarlet told this story often when child discipline surfaced in adult conversation. She was proud of herself. Proud that it only took one incident of hitting a toddler with enough force to knock her across the room to realize that violence wasn’t a good idea. She never understood why she received strange looks when she finished this charming anecdote of her parental prowess.

Because you should be ashamed that you struck an innocent baby. That you hurt your child, Sam would think when Scarlet retold it and people gave him the confused looks he often received when his mother opened her mouth. You should want to bury that secret instead of continuing to get off on it more than a decade later. The last thing you should feel is pride.

But sometimes he’d rather have a slap to the face than the emotional abuse Scarlet dealt. Bruises healed. The damage from seventeen years of being blamed for every negative circumstance? The constant feeling of rejection? The thousands of times when something or someone else was of more importance than him? His father. Stevie. The boyfriends. Work. The fucking Golden Girls.

I’ll never get over it. Even when I’m free of you. Even when I’m free of Amanda. Sam stared Scarlet down and waited for her to respond. You’re a cancer to me. I’ll cut you out. But I’ll always have the scar.

“Get out, Amanda! Get out!”

“Oh, I’m going.” He lowered his voice and took a step into the hall. “But so should you. That’s all I came to tell you. You should check into a hotel for a few days. It’s not sanitary. And that’s not even my opinion—it’s the disaster crew’s recommendation. You could get sick.”

“This is my house, young lady. I won’t be told what to do by you or anyone else.”

It was the most below-the-belt thing he could be called, and his skin was smoldering. Sam didn’t believe he was capable of laying a hand to anyone, especially a woman. But he needed to leave now before he said something he’d regret. Like yelling in her face at the top of his lungs. Like using every profane word he could think of until her ears bled. Like divulging his secret when she had some power over him.

“Well, I’m not staying here.”

“As long as it’s out of my sight, I don’t care where you go.” She’d turned away from him again. “But Stevie and I are staying here. I’m not paying for a hotel room because the basement is dirty.”

“You know what else lives in their own shit? Pigs. It’s too bad Gary’s condo doesn’t allow farm animals, or you could stay with him.”

Scarlet spun around and slammed the door in his face without another word.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

James Stryker is a central-Pennslvannia author who enjoys writing speculative and literary fiction. Themes in his work focus toward diversity in the LGBTQ spectrum and the voice of underrepresented or misunderstood viewpoints. His debut novel, Assimilation, was released in 2016.

James shares a residence with a pack of pugs, who continue to disagree about the ratio of treats to writing. Despite his day job and writing projects, James is never too busy to connect with readers or other writers. He welcomes you to check out his website, follow him on social media, or drop a line to his email.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

5/8 – My Fiction Nook

5/8 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

5/9 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/10 – The Novel Approach

5/11 – Love Bytes Reviews

5/12 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

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A Caryn Release Day Review: The Santa Hoax by Francis Gideon

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

the-santa-hoaxOne of my favorite things about reading – as opposed to watching TV or movies – is that although an author can give me details about a character’s physical appearance, I can take those details and create a person in my mind who looks, sounds, and moves in the way that seems right to me to fit in the story.  It’s usually a shock to see that same character portrayed by a specific actor/actress, because they are never what I imagined myself.

And that’s what I was thinking about as I read this story about Julian, a trans boy who has just started high school.  His image of himself is never what he sees in the mirror, or in pictures, or in how other people look at him.  If the disconnect is so surprising to me when comparing an imaginary character with an actor portraying that same imaginary character, what must it be like to feel that about yourself?  Every day?  What must it be like to have people call you by a name that is not yours?

Julian Gibson is 14, and just entering high school in Toronto, Canada.  He has felt like a boy since he was old enough to know the difference between boys and girls, but he has only found the words for it in the past few years.  He hasn’t told anyone that he is a boy, and of course is afraid of how they will react.  As he and all the kids around him are entering or moving through puberty, he feels that disconnect between who he is and who he looks like much more acutely, and every day it causes him more distress.  He’s always been the quiet, bookish type, very intelligent, but living more inside his head than anywhere else, and high school is the time when he truly realizes that he will need to learn how to interact with the outside world.  If he doesn’t define himself, others will do it for him, and they will never know who he really is.  He decides that if he can just tell 3 people, that it will become real – yes, he is aware that he’s a little like Pinocchio wanting to be “a real boy” – and now he just needs to find a way to do that.

Those were all the things I loved about the story.  The premise is interesting, the description of Julian’s inner world and the discordance with what happens on the outside is exceptionally well done.  But the plot, well, it’s kind of meh.  I was so frustrated that the conflict is all within Julian’s mind.  When he does start to slowly come out, there was no negativity from others at all.  None, zip, nada.  Everyone not only is supportive, but they also know exactly how to be supportive.  No issues with forgetting to use the correct pronouns, no awkward interactions while reconciling Julian with Julia, and not even any questions like “how does that feel?”  Julian’s girlfriend, who mostly identifies as lesbian, basically just says OK when Julian explains how important it is that she thinks of them as a straight couple, and immediately he is her boyfriend, and that’s that.

The only external conflict had to do with gender specific bathrooms.  Really?  I know that North Carolina made a big deal about that, and the far right continues to make a big deal about it, but I personally think there are many more important discrimination issues facing transgender people.  I say this as a heterosexual, cis-woman, so of course I could be wrong, but I thought the focus on the bathroom issue was disingenuous at best, and a cop-out at worst.

Overall, the book fell short of what I hoped it would be, but it at least made me think more about the internal conflict that any transgender person must feel as they grow up and come to terms with their identity.  And I would definitely want to read a story with transgender teens again in the future.

Cover art, by Alexandria Corza, is also pretty meh.

Sales Links

Harmony Ink Press

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Book Details:

ebook, 254 pages
Expected publication: December 1st 2016 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1634774272 (ISBN13: 9781634774277)
Edition LanguageEnglish

In the Book Spotlight: “His Womanly Ways” by K. Lynn (excerpt and giveaway)

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His Womanly Ways cover

His Womanly Ways by K. Lynn
Release Date: May 27, 2015

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Goodreads

Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BS Clay

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Sales Links: Torquere Books

STRW Author BookSynopsis

 

Alex is a womanizer. He makes no excuses for it. Yes, he picks up women at the local bar, leaving them with just a memory of a good night and a good lay, but he hasn’t had any complaints yet. That is, until he picks up the wrong woman. Not satisfied to be tossed aside as just another notch in Alex’s bedpost, she curses him, wishing he “knew what it was like for a woman.” And he’s about to find out what she means, embarking on a genderswap journey that he can’t stop.

Alex starts slowly gaining secondary female characteristics. Waking up with his cock gone, replaced by a vagina, was bad enough. Then it gets worse, as his body becomes more like a woman than the man he used to be. Alex tries to hide the changes he’s going through, for fear that someone will discover his secret, but keeping this quite literally “under wraps” might be impossible before the curse runs its course.

With the help of his female best friend, Eve, Alex tries to deal with who he is becoming. He feels like he’s lost his identity, his mind not matching the body he now has. But Eve sticks by him, and they become closer as Alex’s changes progress. What started out as friendship may become something more before Alex’s journey is over. Perhaps this curse was actually a blessing in disguise.

Pages or Words: 65,000 words

Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, Humor, Lesbian Romance, Body Horror, Romance, Transgender, Transformation, Genderswap, Gender Change, Cursed

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

“I don’t need you to courier anybody, okay?” he growled. “This is more serious.”

She gave him a raised eyebrow. “I’m not helping you get rid of a body either. That was just a joke. You can’t hold me to anything I say when I’m drunk.”

“Shut up, there’s no dead body,” he said, untying the strings on the front of his sweatpants. “There’s something wrong with me.”

“For fuck’s sake, Alex, I don’t want to see your diseased dick,” Eve said, covering her eyes. “Go to the clinic.”

“I don’t think the clinic can help me with this,” he said, pulling his pants and underwear down and sitting on the edge of the bed in front of her. Alex pushed his legs apart, splaying them so there was no way she could miss the problem when she opened her eyes again.

“Eve, just look,” he urged, looking up at her.

“No!” she said, keeping her eyes fully covered.

“Please, Eve, I’m freaking out here and you’re the only person I knew to call,” his tone was pleading now and he was starting to freak out again. “Just look at me.”

“I told you,” she began as she started taking her hand away from her face, “I don’t want to see…what the hell is that?!” Her eyes widened as she saw him in full glory, her face losing all trace of color as she stumbled back.

“You should know, you’ve got one yourself,” he said with a pasted-on smirk, but his attempt at humor fell flat.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About the author:

K. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. In her youth, she could most likely be found in the local library, devouring books that covered everything from WWII History to Dr. McCoy’s latest adventures aboard the Enterprise, with some X-Men thrown in for good measure. Once she had read everything that was on the shelves, she turned around and read them again. K. Lynn was also known to create elaborate adventures that more than once made it to the page. Ink-filled papers gave way to overflowing computer memory as the years went on, but the stories never ceased.

While in college, K. Lynn increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn’s work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works expand in the future.

Where to find the author:

Twitter: @WriterKLynn
Livejournal – (I have a personal one at http://kimberlyfdr.livejournal.com/, but it’s not K. Lynn specific…though I do speak about my writing there and welcome friending)
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6294892.K_Lynn
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/K.-Lynn/e/B009PNS6VS
Website: http://writerklynn.com/

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Tour Dates & Stops: May 25, 2015
Parker Williams, Cate Ashwood, Inked Rainbow Reads, Bayou Book Junkie, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Havan Fellows, BFD Book Blog, Molly Lolly, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Divine Magazine, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Chris McHart, Iyana Jenna, The Hat Party, Up All Night, Read All Day, Bending the Bookshelf, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

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Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘His Womanly Ways’ by K. Lynn

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