A MelanieM Review:The Shoreless Sea (Liminal Sky Book 3) by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Liminal Sky: Book Three

As the epic trilogy hurtles toward its conclusion, the fight for the future isn’t over yet. It could lead to a new beginning, or it might spell the end for the last vestiges of humankind.

 

The generation ship Forever has left Earth behind, but a piece of the old civilization lives on in the Inthworld—a virtual realm that retains memories of Earth’s technological wonders and vices. A being named Lilith leads the uprising, and if she succeeds in setting its inhabitants free, they could destroy Forever.

 

But during the generation ship’s decades-long voyage, humanity has evolved. Liminals with the ability to connect with the world mind and the Inthworld provide a glimmer of hope. They’ll have to face not only Lilith’s minions, but also the mistrust of their own kind and persecution from a new government as homotypicals continue to fear what they can’t understand.

 

The invasion must be stopped, the Inthworld must be healed, and the people of Forever must let go of their past and embrace what they’re meant to become.

I have been waiting to see how this very talented author was going to wrap up his  Liminal Sky trilogy.  The preceding stories (The Stark Divide #1 and The Rising Tide #2) were both marvelous feats of LGBTQIA science fiction, carrying me along a journey of epic proportions.  So what would the conclusion bring?  A finale to a story that, for the author, has really been decades in the making (read the author’s note).

So into The Shoreless Sea (Liminal Sky Book 3) by J. Scott Coatsworth I dove!

Well, this is one of those circumstances where I wish I could leave a rating off.  Why?  Because 3/4 of this novel is brilliant, living up to its predecessors.  For the majority of this story, Coastworth has a clear vision, moving his narrative smartly forward towards a highly passionate, suspenseful, action-packed climax.  New characters are introduced, indeed entire new revelatory elements have been brought in, layered and over layered to the existing foundation of the seed ship Forever and its inhabitants moving through space. Past history is reintroduced, skillfully I will add, for those that might have forgotten some of the past.  And new horrific villains have risen.

The author had me hooked.  I was turning those pages, needing to know what was happening next, so thoroughly in the moment with those people, from Destiny (the author’s binary character), to Andy, Gordy, Aine, and all the rest.  They were, and are magnificent, and perfectly realized.   The sciences behind the workings of Forever is still just as fascinating and incredibly visualized as anything I’ve read.  All the people and their various gender identities were handled just as one would hope for a society that advanced. Or should I say a world trying to be a society to be more advanced.

I just loved this story.  Especially that climax!  Just outstanding?  So what is my issue here?

Well , after I got through cheering and thinking about just how perfect I thought that climax was and how neatly I thought Coatsworth had tied up the ending of his story and the trilogy, I noticed something.  And my heart sank a little.  I wasn’t finished yet.  There was more to read.  Sign.  I was, facing more chapters…after a perfect ending.

That’s the hardest thing for authors.  How to let a story go, knowing when to release your characters and say goodbye.  Especially when you have lived with them in your head and your heart for such a long time.

There was another chapter, another villain, another smaller, less effective denouement, just to give a beloved character a send off.  One that, in my opinion, she had already received prior with her partner and heartmate.  This one?  Sort of diminished that which had gone before. So very anticlimactic.  And it also muddled the waters of the fantastic  ending/send off Coatsword had written in the other chapter as well. Just didn’t make as much sense.

And then there was yet another chapter after that.  One that could have easily been set aside as one of those side stories the authori talked about when he said he might be revisiting this universe in the future.  You could also feel the author just not wanting to let go of this trilogy….not yet…just one more paragraph….one more line.

So how to rate this?

The Shoreless Sea (Liminal Sky Book 3) by J. Scott Coatsworth was mostly a magnificent finale.   Full of passion, great characters, wonderful science, and imaginative plot, and suspenseful ideas and plot, I enjoyed it right up to the first climax and ending.  That was the perfect story for me.  It was there I should have stopped.  And taken the rest as additional short stories later on.

But that’s not how the author wrote it and that’s not his vision.  His vision includes all the chapters and for me, that’s several too many.

I still think the Liminal Sky trilogy is a remarkable series and this was author’s loving tribute to his characters and a story that he’s loved and now finished.  I think he did a rmarvelous job and highly recommend it.

Cover art: Aaron Anderson.  I have loved all the covers for this series and this one is no different.  Just outstanding.

Sales Links: Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | QueeRomance Ink

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published October 15th 2019 by DSP Publications
ASINB07T5C8DWY

Liminal Sky Trilogy:

The Stark Divide
The Rising Tide
The Shoreless Sea

 

 

Don’t Miss Out on the Release Tour for The Shoreless Sea (Liminal Sky Book 3) by J. Scott Coatsworth (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Shoreless Sea - J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out, the final book in his Liminal Sky trilogy: “The Shoreless Sea.” And books one and two are on sale!

As the epic trilogy hurtles toward its conclusion, the fight for the future isn’t over yet. It could lead to a new beginning, or it might spell the end for the last vestiges of humankind.

The generation ship Forever has left Earth behind, but a piece of the old civilization lives on in the Inthworld—a virtual realm that retains memories of Earth’s technological wonders and vices. A being named Lilith leads the uprising, and if she succeeds in setting its inhabitants free, they could destroy Forever.

But during the generation ship’s decades-long voyage, humanity has evolved. Liminals with the ability to connect with the world mind and the Inthworld provide a glimmer of hope. They’ll have to face not only Lilith’s minions, but also the mistrust of their own kind and persecution from a new government as homotypicals continue to fear what they can’t understand.

The invasion must be stopped, the Inthworld must be healed, and the people of Forever must let go of their past and embrace what they’re meant to become.

Series Blurb:

Humankind is on its way to the stars, a journey that will change it forever. Each of the stories in Liminal Sky explores that future through the lens of a generation ship, where the line between science fiction and fantasy often blurs. At times both pessimistic and very hopeful, Liminal Sky thrusts you into a future few would ever have imagined.

Dreamspinner | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | QueeRomance Ink | GoodreadsGet Books One and Two on Sale!

Liminal Sky Series sale

The eBook for book one in the Liminal Sky trilogy, “The Stark Divide,” is just 99¢, and book two, “The Rising Tide,” is $1.99 at all vendors:

The Stark Divide Buy Links – 99¢Dreamspinner | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

The Rising Tide Buy Links – $1.99Dreamspinner | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play


Giveaway

Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour, along with three eBook sets of his Oberon Cycle trilogy. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

MEME-Shoreless-Sea-03

Kiryn Hammond-Clarke floated in the darkness of space, stars he’d never seen in person twinkling against the velvety black depths.

The voice came to him from out of nowhere. “Can anyone hear me?”

In his dreams, he could hear. Like when Belynn let him ride in her mind.

The voice repeated, sounding stretched and thin. “Is anyone out there?”

In the distance, a single star glowed brighter than all the others, though it was still just a small golden dot.

Kiryn reached out toward the light, his hand naked to the cold of the void.

Ice crystals formed on his arm, hardening it in place. The cold reached into his bones like knives of frozen glass. It raced up his bicep, the burning cold fire of the void.

He snatched back his arm, but he was too late. The freezing grip reached his heart, and he screamed silently—

Kiryn awoke with a start, sitting up in bed in his dorm room drenched with sweat. He ran his hands through his dark hair, letting them come to rest clasped behind his head.

First Light flashed past in the trees outside his window, brightening up the room.

The world was utterly silent.

The silence, his constant companion since birth, was particularly soothing after his rude awakening. It wrapped itself around him like a blanket, a suit of armor, a barrier between him and the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

Between him and emotion.

He held his arm out for inspection, half expecting it to be blackened by the void. Instead, it looked perfectly normal. Warm and tan, halfway between his mothers’ sepia and white skin tones.

He shivered at the memory.

The bed moved under him, and his date from the night before sat up, his mouth moving soundlessly.

The man was handsome, a Thyrean sent to the university at Micavery for his higher schooling—long limbs, blond hair shaved short, warm brown eyes.

His name was Dax. Or Zack. Or something.

Kiryn’s lipreading was decent, but he hadn’t bothered to spend too much time learning this one’s name. Dax or Zack hadn’t seemed to mind much.

Kiryn pointed at his ear and shook his head.

The man’s mouth closed, and he blushed. “Sorry. I forgot.”

That one was easy enough to read.

He grabbed the piece of cotton paper and a pencil Kiryn kept at his bedside just for that purpose and scribbled something out longhand, then handed it over to him.

It’s Dax. And are you okay?

Kiryn stared at him. Did you just read my mind? Maybe there was a little Liminal in him. He laughed, wondering not for the first time what it sounded like from the outside. It felt clunky and awkward on the inside.

He sighed and took the paper and pencil.

Dax’s hand lingered over his for an extra second before letting go.

Bad dream. Class in fifteen minutes. He hesitated, then scribbled, Dinner?

Dax took the paper, and a grin lit up his face. His eager nod needed no translation. I work at the hatchery until six. Meet me there?

Kiryn nodded and grinned.

Dax slipped out of bed and pulled on his trousers and white shirt, the V-neck showing off his chest to perfection.

Kiryn sat back with his hands behind his head, admiring the view.

He leaned over, kissed Kiryn on the cheek, and mouthed, “See you.”

When Dax left, Kiryn grabbed a change of clothes and headed down the hall to the dorm bathroom. He hopped into the shower, using the aromatic red berry soap bar his mom and mamma had sent him from the Estate. The smell transported him, and he closed his eyes and imagined himself standing among the long, even rows of red berry vines that arched across the hillsides.

His parents worried about him, out here alone, but it was Andy who had insisted he go.

When Kiryn had been born congenitally and profoundly deaf, Andy and Shandra had learned sign language from the world mind in vee.

There were so few other deaf people in Forever. So few like him.

The day before he was set to leave for university, to catch the public wagon headed for Darlith and then Micavery, he’d had a huge panic attack.

His parents had sat him down along with his sister, Belynn:

 

“I’m scared. Why do I have to go away?” He was fidgeting, nervous.

“You have to go. There’s nothing here for you.” Andy indicated the Estate, where the family had built a thriving agricultural business on the backs of Trip’s and Colin’s earlier work.

You’re here.” His hands signed it while his knee bounced up and down.

Andy shook her head. “This is our place. You need to go.”

He flushed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was such a burden.”

“No.That was emphatic. “That’s not what I meant. We don’t want you to get trapped here, working on the Estate for the rest of your life. There’s a whole world out there for you to explore.” She looked up at Shandra, who nodded.

“I’ll go with him,” Belynn said and signed it at the same time, but he could hear her inside his head too.

Mom could do that, too, of course, but she had to touch him to do it.

“You’re not ready.” Shandra glared at Belynn and shook her head.

“I’ve been with Kiryn in every vee class since I was born. I’m only two years younger than he is. Let me go with him to help.”

Kiryn frowned. He wasn’t sure he wanted his little sister tagging along after him, cramping his style. If he decided to go.

Belynn’s hand found his, palm to palm, and he could feel her emotions. We can take care of each other. That thought was private, just for him, inside his head.

Maybe so.

Andy looked at Shandra. “They could take care of each other.” She echoed Belynn’s thought and touched Shandra’s hand. Something passed between them.

Shandra looked at him and then at Belynn, uncertainty clear on her face. “We could… try it.”

Belynn squeezed his hand. “Yes!”

“For a semester.” Andy kissed Shandra on the forehead.

Kiryn thought about it. It would be nice to have someone close by, just in case. Someone who really knew him. “Okay.” And it would be a lot less scary.

Now he was here, and Belynn wouldn’t be far behind.

Where are you, big brother? Belynn’s insistent voice.

I’ll be back in a minute. He pulled the towel from its wooden peg, dried off his hair and shoulders.

A couple of the other guys in the dorm, Stave and Trevor, waved on their way to their own showers. Cute as hell, but straighter than the old antenna on Micavery’s village green. Well, except when Stave got drunk on red berry wine….

Kiryn grinned. He pulled on his trousers and shirt and padded back to his room. Belynn was waiting for him on his bed. “How did you get in?” he signed.

They touched palms, the emotions flowing between them and synching.

“Easy. Aric at the front desk is a sucker for a pretty girl.”

“Like I said, how did you get in?”

She stuck out her tongue at him. “Come on. We’re going to be late.” She tugged him off the bed, and Kiryn barely had time to grab his carry sack before she had him out the door and down the hall.


Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth

Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

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

His friends say Scott’s brain 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 seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

A Rainbow Award winning author and Science Fiction Writer’s Association (SFWA) member, he runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction reflecitng their own reality.

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jscoatsworth

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ/

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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Through the Tears by Leigh M. Lorien

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 

Rafe’s human lover Eamon disappears through a portal to a differnet world after a ghoul attack. Rafe is a low ranking lord and thinks the king will not help so he decides to rescue his lover himself. As Eamon battles the elements and strange culture of the ghoul world with the help of Beah, a native who helps him, Rafe battles ghouls to learn the secret of portals with his second in command Kiran. Larger evil is afoot than just ghouls jumping worlds to eat humans and what started as a horrible accident, leads into a possible war no one saw coming.

Rafe is called a rin, which is basically a vampire. I liked the lore used here. Even though the ideas aren’t radically unique, there are some interesting takes on common science fiction themes: interdimensional travel, feeding on blood/sex/energy, mind linking/control, bonded mates, turning on magic users, religion to control the population, the feudal type of setting, etc. Eamon is strange at first, full of fear and anger, like he can’t take control of himself and needs Rafe to (mentally) control him. I think this was meant to show him as submissive, but I’m not sure I like this characterization. Taking this out of the equation, Eamon is loyal and brave, even when frightened. I loved the flashback of how Rafe and Eamon met. At the beginning Rafe is cold, calm, and collected even after Eamon disappeares; then he seems to miss him slightly, but does go to look for him. By the end the I love yous are completely over the top, so I wish this had been a little more even handed. It would have made their reunion more impactful. Beah is a great trans character who gets treated horribly by his tribe. Be aware they are several depictions of misgendering, humiliation, and dead naming–although the author doesn’t allow the reader to know the dead name, which I appreciated.

This story could be a self contained adventure, but it’s also a larger story arc that will be picked up in the next book. The side characters like Kiren, Orienna, and the King are all intriguing, but there is little to them in this book. Eamon is the fish out of water in this tale. There is a little of Beah being a fish out of water as well, for some nice symmetry. It’s difficult in a first book with all the world-building, so I am hoping the next book works harder at holding/highlighting the emotional moments between the friends and lovers so they don’t get stomped on in all the politics and intrigue. Those are what gives me something to root for–to hope they win and save the day. There are twelve worlds and this book has only shown small parts of two, so there are so many different possibilities for future stories.

The cover art by Natasha Snow shows a desert through what appears to be a grimy window pane, which I take to be the portal between worlds.

Sales Links:

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 8th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN 139781951057015
Edition Language English

Love Fantasy? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Through the Tears (Torn Between Worlds #1) by Leigh M. Lorien (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Through the Tears

Series: Torn Between Worlds, Book One

Author: Leigh M. Lorien

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 8, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56600

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, gray-ace/gray-aro, transgender, bonded, monsters, violence, anxiety attacks

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Huge, horrid creatures with a taste for human flesh have been invading Seacliff Manor and its surrounding lands for years. Ghouls are coming from another world through portals made of magic. No one knows why or how, but nothing good ever comes with them.

During a hunting trip, Eamon encounters one such monster and falls through a portal into the ghoul’s hellacious desert home world. Separated from his home, his friends, and his lover, with no magic of his own and no sign of other life, Eamon expects to die there…until an encounter with a lone stranger gives him hope. There is a way home. But can Eamon survive alone in ghoul-infested terrain long enough to get there?

Worlds away, the Lord of Seacliff Manor is determined to bring Eamon home. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Rafe knows his human lover is alive. It’s just a matter of finding out where. To that end, Rafe has a plan. It’s dangerous, perhaps even suicidal, but he’ll do anything to save the man he loves.

From different sides of the galaxy, the lovers fight monsters and seek magic with one goal in mind: reunion. Monsters aren’t the only things they’ll have to defeat to find their way back to each other, and the horrors uncovered along the way may be more than they can handle.

Excerpt

Through the Tears
Leigh M. Lorien © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Rafe

The body lay at the base of a maple tree in a crumpled heap of leathery gray flesh and black blood. Rafe studied it for a long time. Its fanged mouth hung open, eyes like black marbles gazing lifelessly at him, hands with hawk-like talons curled into loose fists in the grass. It was more than capable of killing a human—gods, it was probably capable of killing him. He turned away, forcing down the momentary surge of fear as he took in the scene, playing through the information he had.

Eamon, Lionel, Rose, and Tuomas had been hunting that morning, as Eamon had said they planned to do. Lionel was training a new bird. They were well armed. No one left the stronghold unarmed these days. Ghoul incursions were growing more frequent, and the filthy things were getting bolder by the day. Rafe had wanted to send an escort with them but let his lover talk him out of it. We’ll be fine. We’re barely going past the village.

But they weren’t fine. Lionel’s bird didn’t return when it should have. The ghoul had crept up on them while they were distracted.

Signs of the struggle were obvious all around the body. Broken twigs, displaced leaves, mud spatters up the trunks of the trees. The humans had come out victorious. Three of them had, anyway.

Thirty or so feet beyond the ghoul’s body, a cliff dropped into the sea. Ignoring his audience—the three humans who’d returned, as well as two of his rin retainers—Rafe walked past the ghoul’s corpse, inspecting the grass between the site of the attack and the edge of the cliff. Clods of soil lay in heaps where massive claws had raked it up. He wished there was some indication of Eamon’s movements, but the ghoul’s weight and erratic assault covered all sign of his human lover. Blood spatters painted the grass black. Rafe didn’t need to touch or taste the drying liquid to know it was not human. Not Eamon’s. The rotten stench of ghoul blood was as foul as raw sewage and, for once, he envied the humans their inferior senses. Someone had hurt it, and badly, right here. Eamon was not a close-quarters fighter. He was barely a fighter at all. If Rafe were a gambler, he’d put his money on Lionel and the longsword he wore.

“You say he fell,” Rafe stated. It wasn’t a question. Rose had spoken for the group, told their story in a quavering voice. If the two men were hoping Rafe would show mercy to a teary-eyed woman and thus to them as well, they were all mistaken.

“Yes, Lord,” Rose said. “Th-the ghoul tackled him, and they rolled, and…I’m not certain, I mean I-I didn’t see it myself, Lord, but…Eamon was gone when…”

Rafe walked to the very edge of the cliff and leaned forward to look down, grateful for an excuse to breathe air untainted by blood. The tension level behind him rose tangibly, but no one rushed forward to drag him back. He was their lord, not a child to be scolded for putting himself in danger. Hundreds of feet below, waves crashed and roared over a beach of jagged stone. Even with his sensitive rin hearing, little more than the faintest whisper reached Rafe’s ears from this distance. There was no question that a fall from this height meant no survival for a human. No matter what awaited at the end of the fall, no matter how strong the human.

And yet…

He had not felt Eamon die. Rafe had never had a bound companion die, so, he didn’t know from experience what it would feel like, but he’d heard others speak of it. He’d expected something…worse. He should have experienced fear as Eamon fell, pain as he crashed to the ground and his body shattered against the rocks below. It would have dropped him to his knees, put him in a state of shock.

Instead, there was a sharp surprise, fear, and then…an absence. Eamon simply was not there. He wasn’t alive, but neither was he dead.

“You are aware Eamon is bound to me?” Rafe turned to the humans, and they all bowed their heads, nodding and avoiding his eyes. “You should have protected him.”

The wind off the sea howled and whipped his dark hair around his head. Everything was cast in a dusky gray—the winter sun had not shown its face for days, and the choppy sea below was the color of cold steel. Standing at least a head taller than the tallest of the three humans, Rafe was no stranger to intimidation tactics. It wasn’t his preferred modus operandi—physical threats were so pedestrian—but it was easy, and with the gaping absence of Eamon distracting him, it was all he managed.

“I’m sure they did their best, my lord,” Kiran, his retainer, said softly.

Rafe continued to aim a cold gaze at the humans.

“I’m sure. Have search parties organized. Comb the beach and the forest in this area. I did not feel him die.” And if he was mistaken and Eamon was dead…The words hurt as they formed in his mind, but he forced them out. “If you find him, or his body, bring him home.”

Kiran bowed his head and rushed toward the manor to find willing and able individuals to carry out the command. Wind continued to buffet Rafe’s side and face, tangling his hair as it whipped around. In his imagination, Eamon was scolding him as he worked a brush through Rafe’s hair as he did every night. Would it kill you to tie your hair back once in a while? It’s like you tangle it on purpose.

If it weren’t tangled, I wouldn’t need you to brush it, would I? Rafe would reply and grin in the mirror at his lover. The thought of the familiar teasing almost made him smile. Almost.

“M-my lord,” Tuomas ventured, stepping forward as Rafe returned to the ghoul’s body. “We would like to join the search parties, if we may.”

Rafe shook his head. “No. Take this body to the manor. Have it burned.”

The three humans exchanged wide-eyed glances. The ghoul was larger than all three of them combined. Heavy as it was, it would take them hours to drag it to the manor. It seemed a mild punishment in Rafe’s eyes, for letting his lover fall over a cliff.

Tuomas and Lionel were unbound and had been for as long as Rafe had known them. Rose was bound to Elena, the manor’s doctor, and lived in the manor with her, while the two human men lived in the village outside the manor walls—together, if Rafe was not mistaken. Eamon had lived with Tuomas for some time, until he came to Rafe’s attention, and still spent the night in Tuomas’s village home on occasion. Perhaps it was cruel to punish the three of them in any way for what had happened. They were likely hurting as much as Rafe, but they were not bound to Eamon. They could not feel his absence, like the loss of a limb or an eye or an ear, like a crushing emptiness where, until mere hours ago, there had been a warm, bright presence every day for the past ten years.

“Stay with them,” Rafe instructed his second retainer, Orienna. “See that we lose no one else to rogue ghouls today.”

The woman bowed. “What of you, my lord?”

“I’m in a mood to rip something’s throat out,” he said coldly. “Let the filth try.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Leigh M. Lorien is a queer author who got her start at the tender age of five, writing and illustrating her own Sonic the Hedgehog stories. Fortunately, her writing has improved in the subsequent decades. Nowadays, Leigh’s stories primarily lean toward science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy, but she has had some contemporary pieces sneak out of her head. Regardless of genre, her books will usually include sarcasm, strong relationships (romantic and platonic), polyamory/non-monogamy, magic, music, animals, mental illness, and less-frequently-represented queer identities.

When she’s not writing, Leigh enjoys gardening, photography, travel, music, Renaissance festivals, doing hair-color experiments in her bathroom, and going on any kind of adventure involving the outdoors (unless it’s cold, screw that). If you want to know her better or see pictures of her many fur-children, she’s most active on Twitter and Instagram.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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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

✒︎

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

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

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

STRW In The Spotlight Header

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

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

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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