A Missed Opportunity

Hello QRI readers, after two months off, I’m blogging again. I was on vacation in June and then July I had to finish 4 books.

*shocked face*

I successfully finished all 4 and now I’m ready to chat again. Or actually, the muse is. Michael has thoughts, so  forget about me and allow him to speak. 

Michael, you have the floor…

Demons Be Mine - Michael Mandrake - Immortals
Demons Be Mine – Michael Mandrake – Immortals

Greetings readers!

Thanks to QRI for having me again after a 2-month hiatus. Shar and I have been very busy finishing several books, including the last installment of Immortals, Mercurio’s Mating.

In all honesty, these books are definitely products of the inmates running the asylum. *grins* What I mean is, I influenced Shar to write a dark romance involving my vampire, Ryland Durand, as well as other immortals we’d had in the N’awlins Exotica world. From the twin’s books to Immortals, you meet characters, old and new. The aforementioned Ryland and his twin brother, Ryder Durand. Their lover Dale, who was recently turned. Ryland’s vampire mentor, Baron Pierre, his demon teacher, Valios, his angel lover Calisto, as well as Zylen, who was a vampire/angel hybrid. All these characters and others obtained a spot in Immortals as part of our new series.

By doing this, it meant worldbuilding was involved. I wanted Shar to create a world where immortal beings, no matter shifter, vampire, demon, and/or fallen angel roamed as if they were normal everyday people. We named the world Nouvelle Terre as in New World that existed on the third plane. The one above hell, meaning it was sort of like purgatory. We made that world similar to our favorite place on earth, New Orleans, with some of the same scenery, to depict how seedy and magical it was. Nouvelle had a language, they had street signs, and a political structure. Nearly everything that’s needed to have a different world, exists in the Immortals book collection.

So why do I say it was a missed opportunity?

Only because more details could’ve been expounded upon. By Shar being a romance writer, we tended to focus more on the relationships, which is fine. However, by doing this, smaller details were overlooked. Not saying we should’ve done an info dump, but certainly more information regarding the Nouvelle Terre world could’ve been explored. What did Valios do to create Rotiflan? Why are the streets only labeled, north, south, east, west with single numbers? Why are Soul Catchers the highest of all immortals in Nouvelle? So many questions that could’ve been interwoven into the fabric of each book. That’s why I’d say it was a missed opportunity. Of course, we live and learn, right? It might be a product of being a panster who allows the characters to move the plot arc forward. Then again, these books focused on key points that made the general idea more cohesive.

Before we started the series, we created a series blurb for Immortals.

In The Realm, immortals and their mortal mates or servants roam what is known as the third plane–the middle connection between heaven, earth, and hell. The son of the Dark Lord and Death rules that plane, recruiting fallens, vampires, shifters, and dragons. In return for their allegiance, Valios includes them in his horde and promises them eternal life as Soul Catchers, the most high of all souled demons who are always prepared to fight the Great War for prominence in the realm.

Although immortal, the beings of this world are not perfect, needing to work towards it as a goal in their eternal existence. In the meantime, beings encounter emotions and feelings similar to that of humans, such as consciousness, remorse, anxieties, fear, and love.

Follow the beings of The Realm and their stories of learning to accept their imperfections as they continue to maintain the life the Dark Lord requires. Even though they’re demons, not all good qualities are forgotten by souled demons on the third plane.

 After finishing Mercurio, I read through all the books again to check what imperfections they’d learned to accept. In other words, the lessons and general themes for each pairing. This was what I came up with.

For Demon Be Mine – Eli and Zylen Confidence

For Immortality’s Gift – Ryland, Ryder, and Dale Consciousness

For Anasa’s Awakening – Anasa and Neil Companionship

For Calisto’s Quest – Calisto and Valios Conquest

For Mercurio’s Mating – Mercurio’s Mating Commitment

When I finished, I believe I achieved all those themes, so in that aspect we did well. However, the small details make the story come alive, right? Sure, there are small glimpses , but we didn’t quite get there. These little things with further explanation would’ve added some intrigue.

Oh well, lesson learned. Despite that, I’m happy with the way things turned out for Immortals. We stuck to the idea of making this series focused on the characters and how they fell in love with their mates, while learning something along the way. The MPreg books weren’t expected, but they seemed to fit right in.

Now that Immortals is pretty much done, except for a couple of offshoots, we can focus on our next big adventure. Our first full sci-fi MPreg novel. I do love challenging Sharita, only because I’m quite sure she can come up with some interesting things in that overactive imagination of hers.

Or is it mine?

*laughs*

Thanks for listening. Authors, share your thoughts. Have you noticed something you’ve written that you wished you could do over because of a missed chance like this? Let us know in the comments!

* * * *

Immortals of N'awlins Exotica banner - Michael Mandrake

Mercurio is with beta readers as we speak. Once it’s edited, it will be released at the end of August. For now, catch up on the Immortals series at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iTunes.

Demon Be Mine – https://www.books2read.com/u/4AwEOe
Immortality’s Gift – https://www.books2read.com/u/3RoQJY
Anasa’s Awakening – https://www.books2read.com/u/mgrAEX
Calisto’s Quest – https://www.books2read.com/u/bPJYQY

BOOK TOUR: Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea

Buy Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea on Amazon Universal
Author: Asta Idonea
Book: Super for You, Bad for Me
Page/Word Count: 200 pages, 60K words
Categories: Fantasy/Paranormal/Sci-Fi, Gay Romance, Superheroes
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Buy Links:
Buy Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea on Amazon Buy Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea on Amazon Universal Buy Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea on Barnes & Noble Buy Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea on iBooks Buy Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea on KOBO Add Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea on QueeRomance Add Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea on Goodreads
Blurb:
Buy Super for You, Bad for Me by Asta Idonea on Amazon Universal
Life—and love—doesn’t follow a script.

Struggling actor Oswell Outterridge thinks he’s hit the jackpot when he’s chosen to play a scene opposite his idol, Kane Teague, in a superhero movie. However, things take an unexpected turn when the slime he accidentally ingests gives him telekinetic powers. Then Kane asks him out, against all expectation, and it seems that life couldn’t get any better—aside from the little matter of keeping his identity secret from his celebrity boyfriend.

Oswell goes from a nobody with little social life and few prospects for the future to dating the man of his dreams and using his superhuman abilities to defend innocents. Everything is perfect, and it seems he’s finally achieved a happily ever after worthy of the silver screen. But when a supervillain arrives, determined to defeat Oswell and win Kane’s affections, everything falls apart. In the ensuing conflict, Kane gets caught in the crossfire, and Oswell faces his toughest fight yet. Can he remain the hero he’s always imagined himself, or will a dark desire for vengeance change him forever?


Excerpt:
I’m supposed to begin by introducing myself, but that seems a strange task when everyone already knows me, by one name or another—something for which I’ve longed almost my entire life, though certainly not in the way it came about. Which name? Which reputation? I guess that depends on your point of view. Nevertheless, whatever you may think you know about me from the news and social media, I promise you, it isn’t the whole truth. When anyone with a smartphone and an online profile can pen their own headlines, the facts soon become skewed. That’s why I’m here, writing my tale. It’s my one chance to set the record straight. At least, that’s what they all tell me.

Good and evil. Black and white. Hell, even yin and yang. It’s never as clear-cut as it might first appear, and so much depends upon your point of view. Inside every hero is a villain, trying to claw his way out. Within every villain, a hero waits to burst free. There’s often a damned fine line between the two, and the catalyst can be anything, from the sublime to the ridiculous. For Dr. Jekyll—he of literary fame—it was a potion. For me, it was a man. Still, I mustn’t get ahead of myself. If I’m going to tell this right, I need to start at the beginning.

About Asta Idonea:
Asta Idonea authorAsta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages. Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind! As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theater, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing. She is never found too far from her much-loved library/music room.

Interview with Asta Idonea:

  1. What was the inspiration behind Super For You, Bad For Me? I’m a big MCU fan girl, having come to those movies via seeing Tom Hiddleston’s performances in Shakespeare. (A bizarre trajectory, I know.) I’d had in mind for a while that I wanted to write a superhero piece, and then, in 2016, Oswell popped into my head. He was perfect for the lead role, and the more time I spent getting to know him, the more clearly the plot formed. I am often drawn to anti-heroes and villains, so I wanted to write a story that looked at the line between good guy and bad, and questioned what it would take to make someone cross it.
  2. There’s a big leap a writer takes from putting words down on paper for the love of it and actually publishing those words for public scrutiny. What was that journey like for you? I started with fan fiction in my late teens/early twenties. I got some positive comments from readers, but then I went travelling, ended up moving to Australia, and everything went on the back burner for a while. It was in late 2010 that a friend, who was published, suggested I should write something original. I commenced with a vampire short story, and from there, I didn’t look back. For the first three years I wrote MF genre fiction, mostly paranormal and fantasy. During that period, and into 2014, however, I had started to take on some editing work, often LGBT stories. I’d written slash fan fiction, so I decided to try my hand at an original MM tale. Now, although I still write the occasional MF work, I predominantly write gay romance, across many different genres. I love sharing my stories and characters with others. I only hope readers get as much joy reading their exploits as I had creating them.
  3. What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writing? Don’t skip editing. It may be expensive, but it can mean the difference between putting out an average book and producing a great one. I’m a qualified freelance editor, but I still have editors for my published works. It’s easy to miss things in your own prose, because you are so familiar with it. An editor is a step removed and can see things you can’t. They are there to help you create the best possible book, so make use of them.
  4. What do you think makes a good story? I think it’s about meeting readers’ expectations while also offering something new. That’s especially true in genre fiction. You have to tick all the boxes but at the same time produce something that feels fresh and not a rehash of what people have already read. To my mind, characters play a big part in that. If you can create characters that stand out and stick in a reader’s mind, you’re halfway there.
  5. What can readers expect from you next? I am currently waiting to hear back from the publisher on a MM PNR novel. If that is accepted for publication (as I hope it will be), it will be coming out in 2019. In the meantime, I am working on two more MM PNR stories. One is contemporary, with a focus on witches. The other is historical, with vampires.

5 Fun Quickies

  1. Least favorite endearment: Sugar, maybe, but I’m not completely against anything, as long as it’s respectful.
  2. You’re auditioning for a singing competition, what’s your song: ‘On My Own’ from Les Misérables, but sung in German or Czech. Or else something from a foreign-language musical. I like to be different.
  3. If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be: Vanilla. I prefer a simple base to which you can add anything.
  4. Sleep with your socks on or off: Off in the summer, but on during cold winter nights.
  5. Ask for permission or ask for forgiveness: Permission, I guess, but I could go either way, depending on the situation.

Where to find Asta Idonea:
Asta Idonea Amazon Author Page Asta Idonea on Facebook Asta Idonea on Goodreads Asta Idonea on Google Plus Asta Idonea on Instagram Asta Idonea on Pinterest Asta Idonea on Twitter Asta Idonea Website Asta Idonea on YouTube

ANNOUNCEMENT/GIVEAWAY: Euphoria, by Jayne Lockwood

Euphoria

Jayne Lockwood has a new queer sci fi book out:

It might take the arrival of an alien being to remind an isolated man what it means to be human.

With a stressful job, his boss breathing down his neck for profitable results, and an estranged wife and daughter, scientist Kurt Lomax doesn’t think life can get much harder. Until a nonbinary extraterrestrial with an otherworldly beauty, captivating elegance, and a wicked sense of humor inconveniently shows up at his apartment.

Vardam watched the destruction of their own world, and they don’t want to see the same thing happen on Earth. They are lonely, and feelings soon develop between them and the supposedly straight scientist—feelings Kurt reciprocates, much to his confusion.

The arrival of cheery interpreter Tom Soames—whose Goth appearance belies a gentle heart—is like a ray of sunshine in the somber lab. He acts as matchmaker for man and tentacled extraterrestrial, unwittingly instigating a national crisis when the news breaks out.

But will a misunderstanding ruin Kurt and Vardam’s chances for happiness together—along with the hope for peace between humanity and the Var?

DSP Publications | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

Jayne is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4722/?


Excerpt

Three hours later, they were still none the wiser.

“Any joy with communications?”

Nic shook her head. “None. They don’t seem to respond to any spoken language. I’ve tried binary code, sonar, whale music, radio waves. Not a flicker. I’m not sure how well they can see or hear. They won’t let me near enough to do any examinations. They just keep staring at me like I’m the one who isn’t getting it. It’s really frustrating.”

When Kurt looked again, Vardam was there. With a graceful tilt of the head, they watched him as he approached the glass.

“What about the forensics on that note?”

“Just got them,” Troy said, looking up from his computer. “The note was written with an old-style Bic ballpoint pen by a human female….”

“Human? Are you sure?”

“I can’t argue with the evidence. There was a trace of fingerprint on the paper but nothing I can analyze. The paper looks like any A4 copy from a twentiethcentury printer or photocopier. The only thing is, I think it might have been written by someone in distress. The handwriting is very jerky, like they weren’t sure what to write and then just dashed it down. But….” Troy shrugged his wide shoulders. “That last bit’s a hunch. Could be totally wrong. Still waiting on the DNA.”

“Thanks, Troy. Let me know as soon as you get it.”

He turned back to where Vardam was standing, staring at him with those unnerving gemstone eyes.

“Who are you?”

Vardam raised their hand, running the back of it down the glass close to Kurt’s face. He jerked away. It was too close for comfort, even with three inches of glass between them. Vardam backed away as well, as if alarmed by his sudden movement. For reasons he didn’t understand, he was irritated beyond measure by their wounded expression.

“Talk to me, damn it! What do you want with me?” He smacked his hand against the glass. The sharp slap shocked Vardam into stepping back. They bared gold teeth at him and made a gesture that looked almost obscene. Then they dropped into a crouch. Immediately, a smooth iridescent shell closed over their hunched body, covering it completely.

Kurt and Nic exchanged glances, then looked back at the pod. It was completely smooth, devoid of any seams or openings. Every few seconds it quivered. Kurt could almost feel the waves of disapproval emanating from the gleamingsurface.

“Well, that’s new,” Nic said. “Get some rest. I’ll babysit until ten. Troy will take the graveyard shift.”

Kurt tore his angry gaze away from the strange pod. The way it hunched reproachfully in the corner didn’t improve his mood one bit. He knew he was more than tired. He felt emotionally and physically drained and couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten a proper meal. Not that he was hungry. He just wanted sleep.

In his apartment, he lay naked in his wide bed. He was thinking about his continued feud with James Dyer. The issue dangled over his career like a sword of Damocles but all he could see was the beautiful creature. Those eyes, staring into his ragged soul. What did they want?

The telephone by his bed rang, waking him from an unnerving dream. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was 6:15. The last eight hours had passed frighteningly quickly.

“Hello?” His voice sounded faded.

“Sorry to wake you, Professor, but I’ve got the DNA results back. You need to see them.”

“I’ll be right down.”

He stumbled out of bed and into the shower. Twenty minutes later he was down in the lab, a fresh white coat over his shirt and tie.

In the isolation room, Vardam had emerged from their shell. The melon had been eaten, apart from the rinds, neatly scalloped with teeth marks.

“What’s happening?”

“It was just as I thought it would be. There’s human DNA on that note. Female. I took the liberty of cross-checking it against the National DNA Database and found a match. Whoever wrote this note is related to you. Not just distantly, but directly of your bloodline.”

Kurt looked closer at the screen. It was policy to hold the medical details of everyone at the Bunker, including himself. Even so, he wondered why he wasn’t more surprised.

It was impossible but saying so would have been redundant. The evidence was right there in front of him. He walked over to the glass and beckoned to Vardam. They gave him a withering look and turned away, presenting a bony back to the window.

“I think we’re going to have to use the softly-softly approach,” Troy said. “They’re not going to tell us anything until they’re ready. And I’ve got another hunch. I think they’re using BSL.”

“British Sign Language?” Kurt was skeptical.

“I know it sounds weird, but there’s a guy who works at Tesco in Wycombe. He uses it with some of the customers. It looks the same. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?” Troy prodded buttons on his iPad. The official website came up with a finger-spelling option. “Not all words have signs, obviously, so each letter has a sign, right?”

“I know the principles of sign language,” Kurt said irritably. The alien was an inconvenience, however beautiful they were.

“You write in your name, and the finger shapes come up.” Troy typed rapidly. Kurt’s surname appeared on the screen in sign.

Troy gently tapped on the glass. “Hello?”

Vardam turned around, saw it was Troy, and ambled over. Troy showed them the diagrams on the iPad screen. The alien nodded, repeated the signs, and pointed at Kurt. Then it signed, “I am….”

“I can’t tell what they’re saying,” Troy said. “They’re too fast. Hang on.” He typed again. “I’ve found a YouTube video for learning phrases. Ah! This one is easy.” He put the iPad down and signed, making a sad face, swirling his fist on his stomach, then raising both hands over his head, shaking it at the same time.

“What are you doing?”

“Telling him I don’t understand. It’s ‘way over my head.’ Get it?”

Vardam seemed to. They signed “okay,” then turned to Kurt and made another gesture, flattening one hand and punching up into it with the other.

“My instincts are telling me that isn’t good,” Troy said. “Looks like we need to find ourselves a sign language expert.”

“We can’t bring anyone else in at the moment. Certainly not in a professional capacity. The government will be all over us before we know it.” As Kurt said it, the seed of an idea was forming in his mind. “Where did you say that BSL user worked again?”


Author Bio

Jayne Lockwood

Jayne Lockwood has always wanted to learn to fly. Spending free time honing her Peter Pan skills on an aerial hoop, she also creates flights of fancy in her books, mingling sex and romance with angst and a healthy dash of dark humor.

Since she was a small child, Jayne has always sympathized with the villain. It all began with Alice Cooper, even though she was banned from listening to his music by her mother. From wanting to sail away with Captain Hook or redeeming the Child Catcher, the antihero has been an enduring fascination ever since.

After a two-year sojourn in New Jersey and two decades of child-rearing, Jayne is an outwardly respectable member of an English village community. She also is one of the founder members of WROTE podcast, which is dedicated to showcasing LGBTQA authors and their work, and now writes book reviews as well as diverse fiction.

She is also in a sub/dom relationship with a cat called Keith.

Website: http://hollowhillspublishing.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jayne.lockwood.71

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ladyjAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893372.Jayne_Lockwood

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jayne-lockwood/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jayne-Lockwood/e/B00AAXXA6I/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Fox, The Dog and the King, by Matt Doyle

The Fox, the Dog and the King, by Matt Doyle

Matt Doyle has a new lesbian sci fi book out:

New Hopeland City may have been built to be the centerpiece of the technological age, but some remnants of the old world still linger. The tools of the trade have changed, but the corruption remains the same, even in the criminal underworld …

When PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori try to make up for their recent busy schedules with a night out at the theatre to watch the Tech Shift performer Kitsune, the last thing they expected was for Cassie to get a job offer. But some people are never off the clock, and by the end of the evening, Cassie has been drawn into a mundane but highly paid missing pet case. Unfortunately, in New Hopeland City, even something as simple as little lost dog can lead you down some dark paths.

Until now, Cassie wasn’t aware that there even was a rabbit hole, let alone how far down it goes.

Publisher | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
 


Excerpt

“I’m sorry, but did you want to get changed before we speak? We’d be happy to leave the room while you get ready. It must be hard work performing in both the TS gear and a kimono thick enough to house projectors without them moving out of line with each other, even if they are the smaller, lightweight models.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Kitsune sighs. “There’s a wireless motion detection system in each hand too,” they add, waving two metallic, clawed paws. “You’ll note that my tails are missing. They don’t yet make multi-tailed suits, you see, and the number is important within the folklore, so we had to find other solutions. The projector tucked under the obi sash keeps the back open nicely, and it allows movement, both in animation and in the actual device, but it’s a bit stronger than the main ones.”

“Meaning that it’s heavier,” I reply.

“Indeed. The way the system works is identical to the tail guidance in regular suits though.”

I frown and Lori clarifies, “Regular Tech Shift gear uses two small wireless touchpads to control tails, one for the bottom half, and one for the top half. They’re embedded in the hand rest of Ink’s front legs. For hybrid-style gear, they usually sit inside the thumb of each hand. It’s the same concept in each one, but animal-style gear allows for bigger movements, while hybrid gear measures micro movements.”

“Which would be rather fiddly, given the level of movement that I require. These are built into the paw pads and are set to register larger movements so that the tails can move in time with the different dance routines and my more flamboyant gestures,” Kitsune explains, demonstrating one of the hand flourishes from the show. They pause then and chuckle. “Ah, but I’m rambling. I am afraid that changing is, contractually speaking, impossible. Will my appearance be a problem?”

“No, I’m used to Tech Shifters…”

Lori laughs and cuts in with, “You are sonot used to us yet.”

I laugh quietly, despite myself. The miserable old loner that still lives in my head says I should be angry about that; I’m working after all. But the part of me that was enjoying the evening is far more prominent and reminds me that this was supposed to be Lori’s evening too. I can allow her a small jab or two on that basis. “My early experiences with Tech Shifters were notpositive,” I say, addressing Kitsune. “I’m getting better, though. What do you mean by ‘contractually speaking,’ if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Not at all. It is essentially as it sounds. The Kitsune brand is a joint venture between myself and Kevin, and there is a lot of paperwork involved dealing with how the whole thing is to be played out in every mundane situation that you could imagine. What it means is that I can boss Kevin about and make him my dogsbody as much as is required, but at the same time, I must respect his rather brilliant marketing strategies. Part of that means that the mystery of the Kitsune’s true identity is to be protected at all times. As such, I do not meet with anyone without my professionalface on. It seems a little strange, I know, but he was previously a historian of certain old-world sporting brands by trade and thought that applying a degree of what he called kayfabewould help give the whole thing a new edge. I can’t say that he was wrong.”

“So, are you Kitsune when you’re around family too?” Lori asks. “Or partners?”

“Oh, I have no time for partners, not with mytouring schedule. With family, I can be myself, though Kevin did insist upon them signing a gagging order to prevent them from revealing my identity to anyone who hadn’t signed a similar contract. You should have seen my mother’s face when he brought that up. I honestly thought that the rolling pin she was holding was going to be put to nefarious use. Outside Kevin, even my oldest friends do not know who resides beneath the mask.”

“That must be hard to maintain,” I say.

“Oh yes, I have cover stories and everything. It’s somewhat akin to witness protection if television is to be believed. As far as most know, I am simply a touring stagehand for the great performing fox spirit.”

I nod. “Kitsune, as pleasant as this is, I assume there was a reason that you wanted to see me?”

“Oh yes, of course. I saw the news coverage of your recent success with that Gary Locke character,” they say, and Lori flinches slightly. “As far as local detectives go, there are plenty of them about, but you are certainly the most well regarded. I have actually been in town for a week now, and I am due to remain here for a further two. I am afraid that, over that initial period, I was subject to a crime of the nature I am led to believe the police do not take overly seriously.”

“The police wouldn’t be happy about not knowing your identity, regardless of the crime. If it’s one that they won’t usually touch, that doesn’t leave many possibilities. What are we talking about?”

“It is rather lonely on the road,” they sigh wistfully. “A few months ago, we stopped in Toledo, and I was awoken from a post-performance nap by a clattering outside the tour bus. I wandered out, expecting to find a fan or two hunting autographs, and instead found this charming little thing skulking around the bins. I named him Fish.”

Kitsune produces a phone from their kimono, loads up a photo, and passes it over. It shows a snow white American Shepherd dog sitting on one of the tour bus seats and giving the camera a suspicious look. It’s too big to be a puppy, but certainly not big enough to be fully grown.

“You named your dog Fish?”

“It seems strange, doesn’t it?” Kitsune laughs. “There’s a reason, though.” They take the phone back and enlarge the picture, revealing that the dog’s tail is about half the length it should be. It was easy to miss at normal size because the single colouring made it seem like it was tucked under its legs. “When I was young, my parents had some rosetail betta fish. One of them was pure white, and it had a habit of nibbling through its tail fin. When we took Fish to the vet, they said that the tail damage, judging by the angle of the marks, was likely self-inflicted. I couldn’t remember what my parents called the fish, so I just stuck with Fish.”

I nod. “And I assume that Fish is now missing?”

“I am afraid so. It happened yesterday, during the early hours. I was woken by a loud bang and found that Fish was gone, and the tour bus door was open.”

“Could Fish have run away?”

“It would have been difficult for him to open the door, but not impossible. I don’t think that he would have run, though. We were lifelines for each other, you see. He kept me company during the day, and when he had nightmares, I comforted him. If he was spooked, he would usually run and hide near my bed. I heard something else too, a van door being slammed shut maybe? And then an engine.”

“So you’re thinking that he was stolen.”

“Honestly? I don’t know. Do you think that you could take the case? How much would it cost?”


Author Bio

Matt Doyle lives in the South East of England and shares his home with a wide variety of people and animals, as well as a fine selection of teas. He has spent his life chasing dreams, a habit which has seen him gain success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.

These days, Matt can be found working on far too many novels at once, blogging about anime, comics, and games, and plotting and planning what other things he’ll be doing to take up what little free time he has.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Words: Selfless (And Selfish)

Flamingos. Because there were no free images that worked for the subject, but the flamingos were pretty.

I was procrastinating on Facebook reading a very important article recently, about a woman whose son was donating a kidney to his father. I went to comment, wishing her luck and praising the son for his selfless act. Before I hit send, that word struck me: selfless. The word struck me, and it made me a little nauseous too.

I quickly reworded the comment – the son in question is absolutely doing something beautiful and giving for his father, and I don’t want to come off as though I don’t approve of organ donation. I do, wholly and without reservation, and whatever’s still got some miles left in it after I’m gone is certainly up for grabs. That’s not the point. The point is the language used to describe the act.

As an opposite for the word selfish, selfless is probably a perfectly adequate word. Maybe I’m just a little oversensitive to the word selfless. I grew up Catholic, if bad at it. I was surrounded by hagiographies, examples of people who essentially worked themselves to death in lives of service to the religious community. These were people who were held up as positive examples, and they doubtless did a lot of good for the world.

They also, you know, worked themselves to death. But hey, details, right?

The word selfless is generally used to mean “without thought of one’s own needs or desires.”  If we break down the word, though, it literally means “without self.”  I don’t know. That’s… creepy. I’m all for being part of a community and sacrificing for the greater good to a certain extent (more later). When a person is praised for being “without self,” I have to pause.

One of the first criticisms I heard of LGBTQ+ people – also one of the most absurd, but whatever – is that we’re “selfish.”  Somehow, our attraction to our own sex, to more than one sex, our gender identity, or even the way our bodies expressed our chromosomes was somehow detrimental to society at large. We were supposed to be selfless and swallow it down, push it aside, and conform so we could…

I’m not really sure how this was supposed to work, actually. It’s like the underwear gnomes from South Park.

Step 1: Self-repression.

Step 2: ?????

Step 3: Profit? ??? ????

Yeah, I’m still not following the logic. I think it has something to do with giving people grandchildren, or something like that. Which, I mean it’s a creepy kind of logic in its own right. “Society needs you to completely obliterate yourself so you can go and make babies, because that’s a healthy example to set for children.”

Yeah, no.

Women who don’t want children, regardless of orientation, are usually called “selfish” too. I’ve never seen anyone call a man who didn’t want kids selfish – it may happen, but being a cis woman it’s not something I’ve encountered. As a woman who didn’t want kids, it’s something I heard all the time. I was closeted, but I was pretty firm on the “no kids” thing.

My reasons for not wanting them did not matter, to anyone who weighed in on the subject. It was “selfish” for me to not want them or to refuse to have them. Medical issues were irrelevant, personal issues were irrelevant, questioning my marriage was irrelevant (!) – no, it was very simply selfish for me to not want children. My husband, on the other hand, was not considered selfish for not wanting children.

Funny how that works.

And then, when I did cave and agree to have a child, the old “selfish” accusation came into play again. I was “selfish” for having a scheduled C-section, despite the fact that my medical team strongly encouraged it. Medical science doesn’t matter, you’re just selfish!  Then you’re selfish if you don’t breast feed, selfish if you don’t shell out for lactation consultants to force your kid to breast feed even if they won’t nurse, selfish if you stay home with the baby and selfish if you work outside the home…

Huh. Sounds like “selfish” is a word that gets thrown around a lot to control folks, women in particular.

So, getting back to selfless. We see it a lot when people perform incredible acts of heroism. I saw another article yesterday while I wasn’t doing my work was avidly researching a novel I haven’t plotted yet. A random passer by rescued thirteen people from a boating accident on a river before drowning in an attempt to rescue a fourth. That fits the definition of selfless, I think. He literally destroyed himself, saving others.

He left behind a four-year-old and a five-month-old infant, along with an unemployed wife, in a country without a good social safety net.

Am I suggesting that we should not act to help others, and only work for our own interests? That sounds… terrible. I’m having visions of an awful man, standing in a gleaming white building in a city carved out of a swamp in the Potomac, talking about how he’s waited his whole life to take health care away from poor people and retirement care away from everyone.

Am I suggesting that maybe the complete negation of the self is dangerous, and not something we should be holding up as the ideal for our daily lives? Hell yes.

Look, there’s nothing inherently selfish about being who you are. There’s nothing selfish about existing, for crying out loud. There’s nothing selfish about a lifestyle that doesn’t lead to children, either. Given that we’re looking at an overpopulated planet, I’d say the people putting so much pressure on people to reproduce biologically are the selfish ones.

It’s okay to be ourselves. It’s okay to acknowledge that we have needs, goals, and desires. And while yes, it’s good to be a hero, maybe it’s okay to also not demand people set themselves on fire to keep other people warm, too.

I like brave. I like giving. I like generous, or heroic. Selfless is a word whose overtones are starting to leave me a little cold.

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENT/GIVEAWAY: Cleaning House, by Jeanne G’Fellers

COVER - Cleaning House

Jeanne G’Fellers has a new trans-non binary fantasy book out:

Centenary Rhodes is an old soul with a well-traveled name, but she doesn’t know this yet.

Growing up in southern Appalachia wasn’t easy, so Cent left home as soon as she could, but the post-collegiate happiness she’d expected has never occurred. She can’t find a decent date, much less find that special someone and, after losing her job in a corporate downsize, she’s struggling to meet her most basic needs. Her car has been repossessed, her bills are piling up, and her questionable North Chicago neighborhood is dangerous to navigate.

Returning home to Hare Creek, Tennessee, never crosses Cent’s mind until her Great Aunt Tess contacts her with an offer she can’t refuse. The family’s southern Appalachian homestead must be sold, and Aunt Tess needs someone to clean it up. Cent will have access to Aunt Tess’ garden and truck and can live on the homestead rent-free for as long as it takes. A part-time job is waiting for her as well.

It’s a chance to solve some of Cent’s financial woes, but will her return be enough when evil sets its sights on Embreeville Mountain and the homestead?

Cleaning House is a carefully woven Appalachian tapestry of granny magic, haints, elementals, and the fantastic diversity of the human condition – served with a delicious side of fries and a generous quart of peach moonshine.

Mountain Gap Books | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Smashwords | Goodreads


Giveaway

Jeanne is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. For a chance to win, enter using Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4716/?


Excerpt

BANNER-Facebook - Cleaning House

Fall, 1952

“Put it out and give me the rest of the pack.”

“Of all the— here!” Cent dropped her pack of Lucky Strikes onto the floor and kicked them under the outhouse door to Pyre. They’re almost gone anyway.It was the middle of the night, and she’d gone to the outhouse to sneak a smoke. One, that was all, and the rush felt so good. It was the best she’d felt in days, and—

“Drop that lit cigarette down the hole. Stowne’s on their way.”

“Dangit.” Cent took a long drag, exhaling as she rose. She couldn’t hide that she’d been smoking again, and—

“Centenary, please come out.” Stowne knocked on the outhouse door.

“I’m busy.”

“We must discuss this.”

“I was just going,” Pyre’s light drifted away.

Coward. Cent tied her robe and stepped out the door. Fall had rolled in early and wet, setting her up for a rough bout of bronchitis that wouldn’t go away. “Fancy meeting you here at two in the morning.” She cleared her throat to stifle its perpetual tickle.

“Centenary.” Stowne folded their arms across their chest. “You should not be out here this time of night, especially in these cooler temperatures.” Stowne held out the quilt from their bed. “You should be inside where it is warm and dry.”

“I had to pee. It’s something Humans need to do regular.”

“There is a night bucket beneath our bed for you to use when the weather is bad.” Stowne caught her before she moved away, wrapping her in the blanket. “You gave Pyre the cigarettes, but where are the matches?”

“You already took my lighter.”

“And I am removing every pack of matches from the homestead.”

“But what if we need to light a new fire?”

“Centenary!” Stowne pointed to where Pyre hovered on the porch. “That is not a legitimate argument.” They lifted her into their arms.

“Put me down.”

“Please see reason.” They turned toward the house.

“Put. Me. Down!” Cent all but fell from Stowne’s arms before they turned her straight. “You and me, we gotta talk about this.”

“About what?” Stowne towered over her. “Your refusal to care for yourself?”

“About the elephant in the dang room!”

“El-e-phant?” Water ran off Stowne’s head as they stared at her. “Those large gray mammals you told me about? There is one in the house? Brownie or Birdie surely would have sounded the alarm if—”

“No, honey. I…” Cent shivered as the rain began falling harder. “Let’s go inside and talk.”

“That is what I wanted when we began this elephant-filled argument.” Stowne walked beside her up the hill, helping her at the slick spots until she was inside the door. “There. Safe and warm.” Stowne unwrapped her blanket and pulled off her rain boots. “Sit. I will stoke the fire and heat water for your tea.”

“Chamomile, please.” Nothing else agreed with her stomach anymore. “And do it over the fire so I can watch. Pretty please?”

“Such simple things bring you pleasure.” Stowne set her favorite earthenware mug on the table beside her chair and another blanket across her lap.

“Tell me a story from our pastlives together.” She watched as Stowne talked and worked, admiring the ever-changing lines of their body. Larger or smaller depending on what was needed, delicate as they poured water over the tea strainer but strong in the way they held the steaming cast-iron kettle without using a potholder.

“Cream and sugar?” Stowne peered up at her.

“Sugar, yes. But cream?” Cent blanched. “But I used to like it, didn’t I?”

“Until this life, yes. And you like it in your coffee now, along with lots of sugar.” Stowne slipped into the kitchen to get the sugar bowl and a spoon from the table, dropping three heaping teaspoons into Cent’s mug and stirring. “There. Now we discuss this elephant.”

“Sit down first, honey. You’re pacing.”

“I cannot help it. I worry.” Stowne turned their rocker to face her. “Tell me why you do not care for yourself like you should.”

“It’s hit the point of why bother.” Cent pointed to the medication bottles beside her. “I take something to sleep. Something for pain. Something for my stomach. Something for— Smoking calms me, all right? It helps with the— I’m afraid.”

“What are you afraid of?” Stowne seemed genuinely puzzled.

“This ain’t about dyingif that’s what you’re thinking.” She pulled the blanket higher on her chest and reached for her tea, cursing softly when her hands shook too hard to lift it without spilling it. “I’m afraid of hurting more, of leaving you with horrid memories before I go. Lung cancer is an ugly death.”

“What about the radiation your doctor spoke about?”

“It’ll only delay the inevitable and make me nasty-sick until then.” Cent smiled when Stowne lifted the mug to her mouth. “Thank you.”

“That is why I am here. Never forget that.” Stowne knelt before her. “I will be here the entire time.”

“You’ve never seen me like this.”

“I have watched you die from battle wounds, from Small Pox, and countless other ways. None were attractive, but I have been there every time to walk you across the veil. This will be no different.”

“But I don’t want to leave you alone.” She reached out to stroke Stowne’s face.

“I will wait for your return, same as always.”

“But this land…”

“Yes, there is that.” Stowne kissed her palm. “It must be handed down correctly.”

“I know.” Cent took Stowne’s face into her hands, pulling them up to kiss them firmly on the mouth. “All right. I’ll think on it.”

“Thank you. Does this mean the elephant is gone?”

“Not gone, but it certainly shrank. Take me to bed, baby.”


Author Bio

Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with her father and reading the books her librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s writing influences include Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.

Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennesee with her spouse, Anna, and their five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.

Author Website: http://jeannegfellersauthor.com/
Author Facebook (Author Page): http://www.facebook.com/Jeannegfellersauthor/
Author Twitter: http://twitter.com/jlgfellers
Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/106949.Jeanne_G_Fellers
Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jeanne-gfellers/
Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jeanne-GFellers/e/B01N0YWCT7/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

ANNOUNCEMENT/GIVEAWAY: Impact Flash Fiction Anthology

Impact reveal

Queer Sci Fi is releasing its fourth flash fiction anthology: Impact. The book has just come out!

IM * PACT
(noun)

1) One object colliding with another

2) An impinging of something upon something else

3) An influence or effect on something or someone

4) The force of a new idea, concept, technology or ideology

Four definitions to inspire writers around the world, and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell, but only 110 made the final cut.

A difficult choice to be made. An object hurtling recklessly through space. A new invention that will change the world. So many things can impact a life, a society, or a planet.

Impact features 300 word speculative fiction ficlets from across the queer spectrum from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.

Welcome to Impact.

About the Series:

It’s hard to tell a story in just 300 words. Each year we ask writers to take the challenge, turning in stories across the queer spectrum. The rules are simple. Write a complete sci fi, fantasy, paranormal or horror story, include LGBTIQA characters, and do it all with just 300 carefully chosen words.

Get It On Amazon


Giveaway

Queer Sci Fi is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4721/?


Excerpt

Since this book is composed of stories of no more than 300 words, we can’t really do a standard excerpt, so we’re offering you the teaser first lines from a number of stories.

“She’d needed new oil. She felt her joints grow stiff, her muscles grow tight, her follicles thickening. If she didn’t get fresh quarts soon, people she passed would start calling her sir, asking, Where’s your gun?” —Crossville Station, by Nathan Alling Long

“The mallet’s impact on the hard, bright disk shattered the silence in the talking chamber. The resulting deep tone reverberated through the vault, through Saskia, as she fidgeted beside her lover.” —Settled, by Aidee Ladnier

“This is how the world ends, or so they say. From where I’m standing, it simply looks like a rolling darkness as distant lights flicker and die.” —Visitors, by LJ Phillips

“’What have you done?’ The mechanical eyes came to rest on his face, the droning beepsounding loud in the small room.” —Identity and Change, by Jo Tannah

“’Once upon a world, we were the same,’ he said, lifting my hand to his lips; the ground shaking beneath us.” —Impact, by Jack Ladd

“I been a tinker and soothsayer long enough to know this country’s at the cusp of war. They stir up hate easy as breath. And, oh, it pains my soul to see it. “ —Impact of Intervention, by Patricia Scott

“All lives begin with a messy impact of some kind. The crash of zygotes and gametes. Splats of silica gel between cybernetic synapses. Two women slam into each other carrying full cups of coffee.” —Quintessence, by E.M. Hammill

“If I venture far enough into the house, I’ll find my closet.” —The Closet, by K.S. Trenten

“It touched Ligaya when she was a child. Or she touched it. A half-glimpsed shape under her bed.” Mas Mabuti An Answang, by Foster Bridget Cassidy

“Jam zipped down the neon track, feather-light in low gravity. She rocketed forward, a glowing haze in her starred helmet, and shot past the pack. “Space Jammer!” echoed as she neared the line. Time to rack up the points.” —First Bout: Andromedolls Vs. Crotch Rockets, by Ginger Streusel


About Queer Sci Fi:

At Queer Sci Fi, we’re building a community of sci fi, fantasy, paranormal and horror writers and readers who want a little rainbow in their speculative fiction. We run a great discussion group on Facebook, a twitter feed, and have a website full of useful materials, news, and announcements for readers and writers of queer speculative fiction.

Website: https://www.queerscifi.com

Facebook Discussion Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/qsfdiscussions/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/queerscifi/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/QueerSciFi

ANNOUNCEMENT/GIVEAWAY: Blackwood Pack Series, by Mary Rundle

Mary Rundle has a new MM paranormal mpreg book out in her Blackwood Pack series:

About the Series:

Blackwood Pack Series

Join the journey of the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates – stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure. Each book has two main characters who meet, fall in love, mate and achieve an HEA but the stories also chronicle the continuing saga of the Blackwood Pack. The series is best appreciated by reading the books in order.


Giveaway

Mary is giving away a $15 Amazon gift certificate with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4715/?


Dire Warning, Blackwood Pack – Book 1

COVER Blackwood Pack Book 1 - Dire Warning

Steel, one of the last Dire Wolves on earth, has searched more than 100 years for the special mate promised by the Fates. Discouraged after meeting his latest prospect, he sees a naked hitchhiker on his way home who’s everything he’d envisioned the man of his dreams would be. His wolf and body tell him he’s found his fated mate but why can’t he pick up his scent?
Robbed of his car, clothes and money, Jackson, Alpha of the Blackwood Pack has no choice but to thumb a lift, frantic to get home to his six brothers. He’s been protecting them from a rival pack who massacred most of his family and wants to finish off the rest. When Steel rolls down his window, Jackson knows he also has found his fated mate but it would be too dangerous to claim him with his pack under attack.
After the intervention of an Oracle and a Witch, Jackson discovers why the Fates made him unique-just for Steel. Navigating the mine field this revelation brings, Jackson and Steel must figure out how to make their relationship work while dealing with forces determined to kill the Blackwood pack – and them.

Excerpt:

Steel’s wolf was snarling and snapping as he drove away from Jimmy’s after leaving Jackson behind. He just couldn’t understand his wolf. What am I missing here? Jackson is not my mate.His mate had to be a wolf—he knew it because he’d been told not only by his mother who was an Oracle but by no less than three other Oracles. His mate would help save his species of wolves.

The importance of this was impressed upon him throughout his life. He stepped on the gas, eager to get home to do some research. He needed answers because he had a feeling of foreboding about what was going to happen to Jackson and that was driving his wolf crazy.

Finally arriving home, he stopped at the fifteen foot high gates, keyed in his passcode and then drove up the long driveway to his sprawling house, nestled among the trees on the knob of a small mountain. Although there were taller mountains to roam on his 200,000 acres of land, this spot spoke to his wolf spirit. He inhaled deeply as he got out of the truck, feeling his body reacting to the sights and smells around him.

Looking around, he wondered if Jackson would like this spot as much as he did. And that did it—his cock hardened in a second and his blood started to heat up. What the fuck?  He drove the image of Jackson’s firm body from his mind and thumped his cock several times to get it to go down.

Hmmm, what to do first?Decision made, he stripped out of his clothes and stood still for a second before he called on his wolf and shifted. Birds scattered as the noise of bones cracking and stretching filled the air. When the sound faded away, Steel stood in his wolf form, shaking out his fur and scenting the air. Deer to the east, a small black bear and her cub ambling along the trail to the south and, yes there it was, a path that was free of any animal—Steel knew it wouldn’t be a good day to engage in a sparring match. His wolf was too unsettled for that.

He struck out at a full run for the trail leading north to one of the tallest mountains on his land. His large paws made no sound on the thickly carpeted forest floor. Steel had gotten so many mixed signals from his wolf today he needed this time to figure out what was happening. He knew his wolf needed it also. While he was running, Steel examined his wolf’s feelings regarding Jackson because it was much easier to understand his wolf when they were one, especially now, since he hadn’t understood his wolf’s reaction to a man who had no scent. Taking in the smells and sounds of his forest, his mind searched and filtered through his wolf’s feelings.

Buy Links:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07636FVJH
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07636FVJH
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07636FVJH
https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B07636FVJH
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07636FVJH
https://www.amazon.de/dp/B07636FVJH
https://www.amazon.es/dp/B07636FVJH
https://www.amazon.it/dp/B07636FVJH

Raphael’s Power, Blackwood Pack – Book 2

COVER Blackwood Pack Book 2 - Raphaels Power

Dr. Ian Wallace, a rare Scottish Wolf, has dedicated his life to saving and healing wolf shifters by joining Frontline Doctors. Determined never to take a mate, he avoids relationships and is content to live a nomadic life, taking assignments to wild and remote places. That is, until an old friend asks him for a favor which Ian’s wolf will not let him refuse. Now on his way to the Blackwood Pack compound, his wolf becomes frantic and Ian learns not only that he has a Fated Mate, but that his Fated Mate is in danger.
Colton was forced to give up his dreams of becoming a nurse and joining Frontline Doctors when tragedy befell his family. Instead, he healed sick animals around his home while hiding from a pack who wanted him dead. Given the chance to use his skills, Colton seizes it and embarks on a journey that will reveal just how special he is.
A kidnapping, slave auction, revelations of long-kept family secrets and a rare, powerful gift from the gods are some of the surprises in store for both of them until they finally find their way into each other’s hearts after discovering neither is who the other thought he was.

Excerpt:

His wolf surged forth, claws grew, teeth dropped, fur sprouted and he vibrated in Colton’s arms trying to fight the shift. But did he want to? Ian wasn’t sure. He and his wolf needed to avenge the wrong done to their mate. If Colton wasn’t going to kill Pablo, Ian’s wolf would. Then, mind made up, he pushed out of the arms holding him and landed with all fours on the floor. Snarling and growling, Ian’s wolf wanted his prey—to kill him and remove any threat to his mate. He lifted his head, opened his mouth and issued his challenge. Howling loud and long his wolf wasn’t going to quit until his mate was safe.

Stunned, Colton looked at the small yet fierce wolf in front of him—a rare golden-tipped, white wolf with deep golden eyes—the stuff of legends. Holy Shit! Before he could do anything, the room was filled with six, very large bodies, ready to handle the threat of Ian’s howls. In a blink of an eye, Ian’s wolf turned, facing the perceived threat against Colton. Hackles raised, saliva dripping, he looked as if he’d take on everyone now crowding the space.

Colton knew this had the makings of a disaster; he needed to calm his mate so he could shift back. Slowly he slid off the loveseat and knelt next to his mate. “Ian, please babe, stop. I’m safe. These are my brothers and Steel. You know them, please babe.” Colton put his arms around the neck and buried his hands in the soft fur. Rubbing his face against his mate, Colton inhaled deeply, marveling again at the scent. He felt Ian’s wolf slowly relax as he reassessed the situation. That was, until Colton heard Jackson.

Jackson waddled into the room, bellowing, “What the fuck is going on?”

And just like that, Ian’s wolf turned to face the new threat, growling, tensing, ready to spring. Colton saw Steel move in front of Jackson, the rest of his brothers moved and stood in front of Steel, forming a wall of muscled bodies, intent on protecting Jackson and his unborn pup.

Colton panicked. He jumped up and moved in front of Ian’s wolf. Nobody was going to touch his mate. Now Colton was the one fighting a shift as he listened to his mate issue howls and growls, warning everyone he was ready to fight. Colton knew everything was going to hell in a handbasket but he didn’t know what to do. He needed help to defuse this right now—but who?

Suddenly, he heard an Alpha voice so powerful and overwhelming that Colton immediately tilted his neck in submission as did all in the room. Maximus, in Dire Wolf Alpha mode, strode into the room, immediately sussed out the situation, and commanded, “Stand Down! Now!!” he roared those words, enveloping the room in his Alpha power.

Buy Links:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077R3WNY9
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B077R3WNY9
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077R3WNY9
https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B077R3WNY9
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B077R3WNY9
https://www.amazon.de/dp/B077R3WNY9
https://www.amazon.es/dp/B077R3WNY9
https://www.amazon.it/dp/B077R3WNY9

Peace Maker, Blackwood Pack – Book 3

COVER Blackwood Pack Book 3 - Peace Maker

Enforcer Dylon Royd worked for the notorious Silver Point Pack until they accused him of disloyalty. Imprisoned and beaten to within an inch of his life, he’s dumped at the side of a road and left for dead. Waking up in the Blackwood Pack’s hospital, he’s shocked to discover his Fated Mate is one of the pack’s members he’d been ordered to kill.

Cody is a seer and has grappled with visions all his life, but after most of his family is massacred they have intensified so fiercely he begins to make plans to escape his pain and suffering. Thinking no one wants a freak for a Fated Mate, he tries to reject Dylon until he realizes his salvation depends on accepting him.
A life or death situation for Cody, a rare gift to both from the Fates, a dangerous mission, and an unexpected surprise are some of the challenges they face. Together they begin a journey to save Cody’s life while forging a partnership that requires absolute trust for both to survive.

Excerpt:

Low hanging, heavy, cloud cover. A pitch-black night in the Tajikistan mountains. It were as if the gods were blessing his commitment to stop the bloodshed so many of his people had experienced over these long years. Ulfric tried to recall a time in his life that was free of the beatings and killings that Arald had inflicted on his pack. But he could not remember such a time. Now his wife was expecting their first pup, and as much as he was excited about it, he dreaded it just as much. So, when this chance arose, he had to try, for the sake of his family.

After telling his wife he was leaving, Ulfric slipped out the back door and paused. Lifting his nose, he sniffed but found no other wolf nearby. Sticking to the shadows, he quietly made his way out of town, hoping his luck held. Right now, Arald was meeting with the representative of Dire Enterprises in a pre-conference meeting. He hadn’t wanted to wait this long but it was impossible to even contact the other pack Alpha until today.

As he saw it, this was his final chance to stop the tyranny he and his pack lived under. But he couldn’t stand alone. He needed the other pack to join with him during the conference if there was ever a chance his pack would be free of Arald and his goons. Pausing often to check for anyone following him, he crept down to the mountain waterfall where they could talk where not even wolf hearing could distinguish spoken words.

Apologizing to Arald and Slate Valentin for his need to get home to help his wife, Ordovic left the building, nodding to the guards who stood outside the meeting room. He wasn’t sure why his presence was required since nothing would change for his pack. No, Arald controlled this land—something even a young shifter knew. And even though he tried to tell himself there wasn’t anything he could do about it, Ordovic hoped that this time might be different.

That was the reason he gave himself for heading to the agreed meeting place instead of home where his wife and children slept. But he wanted a better life for his children. A place they could grow up and not fear being attacked every time they left home. And as the leader of his pack, he owed it to his pack members to at least try to free them from the oppression they now lived under.

Fading back into the shadows at the top of the mountain path, he waited to see if anyone had followed him. His ability at camouflage was superb, though it was a well-guarded secret. After a few minutes he continued down the path. At least he didn’t have to worry about being attacked—killed, yes—but the guy from Dire Enterprises made the three leaders sign a contract agreeing to not attack another pack while the peace conference was in session.

Buy Links:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079RWQC4T
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B079RWQC4T
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079RWQC4T
https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B079RWQC4T
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B079RWQC4T
https://www.amazon.de/dp/B079RWQC4T
https://www.amazon.es/dp/B079RWQC4T
https://www.amazon.it/dp/B079RWQC4T

Ice Soul, Blackwood Pack – Book 4

COVER Blackwood Pack Book 4 - Ice Soul

Kieran was sold into slavery where he was forced to care for other prisoners held by a shifter trafficking ring. But that changed when a Blackwood brother freed him and the others. Now for the first time in his life, the world beckons and he can plan his future. That is, until he discovers why the Fates brought him to the Blackwood Pack.

Logan, one of the brothers, has become a virtual recluse, spending hours at his design table, unable to shake the horrible memories of his family’s massacre and an unhappy childhood under the fist of his father, a dictatorial and abusive Alpha.

When Kieran appears, Logan is smitten with this pink-loving twink who tries to use his sassy and irrepressible wit to win his heart. After Logan claims Kieran, he finds keeping him is not easy. When both realize Logan can’t give himself completely to his Fated Mate, Kieran takes off but tells no one where.

A frantic search, rejection, dark secrets revealed, ghosts exorcised- these are just some of the obstacles Kieran and Logan must overcome as they embark on a mission of discovery that will make their love for each other stronger. Only then, will these two unique wolves fulfill their destinies decreed by the Fates and gods and prove worthy of the powerful gifts bestowed on them.

Excerpt:

Kieran saw Lizzie coming in from the kitchen and said to her, “Miss L, what fantastic taste you have. I’m so glad they have you supervising their clothing choices otherwise, who knows what they would learn from their daddies?” Then, turning back to Dylon and Cody, “No offense big guys, but you really should let Miss L do some shopping for you, too. I mean, I know you are mated—I mean Fated Mated—so there isn’t going to be anyone else for you but still, you should look good for each other. Hey Miss L, do you think Dylon could use a facial mask? Maybe something to soften his skin so Cody will want to kiss him more? You know, that’s the first thing to go when you have kids. No time to take care of yourself. But I bet with a little help from Miss L and me, we could have you looking like you did before you had kids. Do you take bubble baths? You know, they’re great for softening all parts of your body, well maybe not all parts, if you catch my drift. That’s another side benefit for new parents who aren’t getting all they want in the sex department. Maybe Miss L and I …”

“Stop!” yelled Dylon, startling Jessica who let out a wail while most everyone else was doubled over with laughter. “Now, look what you did!”

“Don’t you blame Kieran, Dylon. You yelled, causing your daughter to cry,” Lizzie scolded, taking Jessica from her son’s arms, “Shush there, sweetie, grandma has you.”

“But did you hear what he was saying to us? He said we had sex problems!” complained Dylon, handing Jessica’s bottle to Lizzie.

“Kieran was only trying to help, weren’t you honey?” Lizzie asked Kieran. “All new parents can do with a little help.”

“That’s right, Miss L. I have some ideas to spice up their sex life I can run past you, and if you agree, then I can find out where to buy the items online—you know since they are new parents and all.”

Growling, Dylon spat, “You are not going to discuss my sex life with my mother—do you understand? No way! No how! Never! Kieran, am I making myself clear?” Then turning to his mother, he said, “Mother, don’t, just don’t. This is embarrassing me and my mate.”

Holding up his hands, Kieran said, “Whoa, big guy! If you don’t want my help, then no problemo. I’m sure Jackson or Colton will appreciate my help in getting their sex life back on track. If you want to suffer, then who am I to interfere? But you really ought to think about Cody before you go issuing your orders. Right Miss L? It takes two to tango.”

Handing Jake to Dylon, Cody said, “Kieran, that’s enough. While I appreciate your offer to help us, there’s no need as we’re very happy with our ‘sex life’. You and I are going to have a talk later about boundaries, or the lack of them, in this case.”

Buy Links:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D3KQWJV
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07D3KQWJV
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07D3KQWJV
https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B07D3KQWJV
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07D3KQWJV
https://www.amazon.de/dp/B07D3KQWJV
https://www.amazon.es/dp/B07D3KQWJV
https://www.amazon.it/dp/B07D3KQWJV


Author Bio

I never went to school to learn writing nor attended a writing workshop, but it didn’t stop me from entering a writing contest and from that came my first book, Dire Warning. Readers loved it and I was on my way to chronicling the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates– stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure and, of course, happy endings.

My stories come to me as if they were being channeled by my characters, all of whom I love (except for a few villains). They are eager to recount their lives, loves and adventures and are not inhibited when it comes to revealing steamy details. I love the M/M paranormal genre because it gives my imagination a lot of territory in which to roam. My mind can really run wild and come up with some amazing stuff when it doesn’t have to stay inside the box. Although my writing is sometimes raw—that’s the way I like to tell my stories—readers love it and are clamoring for more. I currently live in the Northeast and love the beautiful change of seasons, my husband, and our quirky calico cat, though not necessarily in that order.

Author Website: https://www.maryrundle.com
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundle69
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundleauthor
Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/maryrundle69
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14246427.Mary_Rundle
Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/mary-rundle
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Rundle/e/B0763CDQQ6

COVER REVEAL/GIVEAWAY: Impact Flash Fiction Anthology

Impact cover reveal

Queer Sci Fi is releasing its fourth flash fiction anthology: Impact. We have the cover reveal here today!

IM * PACT
(noun)

1) One object colliding with another

2) An impinging of something upon something else

3) An influence or effect on something or someone

4) The force of a new idea, concept, technology or ideology

Four definitions to inspire writers around the world, and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell, but only 110 made the final cut.

A difficult choice to be made. An object hurtling recklessly through space. A new invention that will change the world. So many things can impact a life, a society, or a planet.

Impact features 300 word speculative fiction ficlets from across the queer spectrum from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.

Welcome to Impact.

About the Series:

It’s hard to tell a story in just 300 words. Each year we ask writers to take the challenge, turning in stories across the queer spectrum. The rules are simple. Write a complete sci fi, fantasy, paranormal or horror story, include LGBTIQA characters, and do it all with just 300 carefully chosen words.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback (Coming 7/25) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | Angus & Robertson | Goodreads


Giveaway

Queer Sci Fi is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4721/?


Excerpt

Since this book is composed of stories of no more than 300 words, we can’t really do a standard excerpt, so we’re offering you the teaser first lines from a number of stories.

“She’d needed new oil. She felt her joints grow stiff, her muscles grow tight, her follicles thickening. If she didn’t get fresh quarts soon, people she passed would start calling her sir, asking, Where’s your gun?” —Crossville Station, by Nathan Alling Long

“The mallet’s impact on the hard, bright disk shattered the silence in the talking chamber. The resulting deep tone reverberated through the vault, through Saskia, as she fidgeted beside her lover.” —Settled, by Aidee Ladnier

“This is how the world ends, or so they say. From where I’m standing, it simply looks like a rolling darkness as distant lights flicker and die.” —Visitors, by LJ Phillips

“’What have you done?’ The mechanical eyes came to rest on his face, the droning beepsounding loud in the small room.” —Identity and Change, by Jo Tannah

“’Once upon a world, we were the same,’ he said, lifting my hand to his lips; the ground shaking beneath us.” —Impact, by Jack Ladd

“I been a tinker and soothsayer long enough to know this country’s at the cusp of war. They stir up hate easy as breath. And, oh, it pains my soul to see it. “ —Impact of Intervention, by Patricia Scott

“All lives begin with a messy impact of some kind. The crash of zygotes and gametes. Splats of silica gel between cybernetic synapses. Two women slam into each other carrying full cups of coffee.” —Quintessence, by E.M. Hammill

“If I venture far enough into the house, I’ll find my closet.” —The Closet, by K.S. Trenten

“It touched Ligaya when she was a child. Or she touched it. A half-glimpsed shape under her bed.” Mas Mabuti An Answang, by Foster Bridget Cassidy

“Jam zipped down the neon track, feather-light in low gravity. She rocketed forward, a glowing haze in her starred helmet, and shot past the pack. “Space Jammer!” echoed as she neared the line. Time to rack up the points.” —First Bout: Andromedolls Vs. Crotch Rockets, by Ginger Streusel


About Queer Sci Fi:

At Queer Sci Fi, we’re building a community of sci fi, fantasy, paranormal and horror writers and readers who want a little rainbow in their speculative fiction. We run a great discussion group on Facebook, a twitter feed, and have a website full of useful materials, news, and announcements for readers and writers of queer speculative fiction.

Website: https://www.queerscifi.com

Facebook Discussion Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/qsfdiscussions/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/queerscifi/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/QueerSciFi

BLOG TOUR: Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander

Buy Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on Amazon
Author: Lexi Ander
Book: Caledonia Destiny
Series: Blessed Bane, Book #1
Page/Word Count: 111K words
Categories: Fantasy/Paranormal/Sci-Fi, Gay Romance
Release Date: July 9, 2018
Publisher: Self-Published
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow
Universal Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/mVBaVM
Buy Links:
Buy Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on Amazon Buy Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on Barnes & Noble Buy Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on iBooks Buy Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on KOBO Buy Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on PayHip Add Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on QueeRomance Add Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on Goodreads
Blurb:
Buy Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on AmazonThe wyrbears, once a long-lived species, were being lost to the forest in their prime. A people borne of a curse, their abilities not a gift but something wrongly taken, they nonetheless live in harmony with their animal spirits. But over time the curse they lived under changed, mutated, and now what once was a refuge from the world when they became too weary is culling mathan in their prime.

Ewen mhic Friscalach, the leader of his peoples, lost his father too early and is now a widower with four children. The vow he made as a youth to break the curse afflicting wyrbears has been buried by grief and responsibility.

Roi mhic Alric, a priest of Cerridwen and seer, watched his fellow priests slaughtered and his temple desecrated. The only thing that kept him going the last three horror-filled years was the vision Cerridwen had granted him of his emancipation. If freedom came at the cost of his life, well, he was more than ready for the Otherworld.

A fated meeting upon a bloody field of battle. A wrong done long ago. Their choices could save a people… or send them into extinction. Either way, their love will be legend.

**Caledonia Destiny started out as 31k short story that had a happy for now ending. Now, years later, I have rewritten and expanded the original to 111k.**


Excerpt:
The next morn Ewen rose early and stoked the fire. Roi wandered into the forest to release his water. When he returned, Ewen bade him sit atop the furs. With an unsure countenance, Roi sat and watched Ewen approach with a wary eye. Ewen took Roi’s hand and used the warm, wet linen to wash it. He rinsed the cloth in the crock of water and repeated the motions with the other hand, gently touching the abraded flesh and each of the scabs where Roi had injured himself climbing the tree.

The camp was utterly quiet as he administered to Roi afore the gazes of his kin. He did not glance into Roi’s eyes until he took the cloth to Roi’s face, cleansing the dust of the road from Roi’s forehead and cheeks. Roi’s eyes were large and round with his confusion, but he did not stay Ewen’s hand which gave Ewen hope. He unlaced Roi’s boots and pulled them from his feet and began to wash them as well. He had not imagined he would be so nervous declaring his intentions in front of his kinsmen, but this moment was important, mayhap the most important declaration Ewen would make in his lifetime.

“Roi mhic Alric, I, Ewen mhic Friscalach, would have it known that I hereby put forth afore my kinsmen my petition to court you. I humbly ask that you consider my request and if you accept, allow no other to court you until the time you decide either to accept my hand or decline it.”

Roi turned pale as milk. Apprehension pooled in Ewen’s gut as he awaited for Roi to shun him. He deserved no less for what he had done, avoiding Roi only to succumb to his desires, waking Roi from sleep to beg Roi to touch him. Whilst Roi spoke truth, Ewen had bestowed upon him harsh words instead of Ewen’s own truth in return. He should have confided in Roi, given him the story of his people’s lineage. Roi’s lack of faith in Ewen might yet be Ewen’s own doing.

Roi placed his hand over Ewen’s where he washed the dirt from Roi’s feet. “Ye be of noble blood, ye do not have to do this.”

He captured Roi’s hand betwixt his palms. “Then tell me how to win back your trust.” Roi’s visage hardened, but not afore Ewen beheld the brief flame of longing in Roi’s eyes. “I shall find a way back into your confidence, Roi, and when I do, you shall never have reason to throw me out again.”

After placing Roi’s hand in his lap, Ewen returned to cleansing his feet, then slipped his boots over his calves and carefully laced them up. Ewen had brought over a square of knotted linen, which he gave to Roi afore he rose to his feet with the crock of dirty water. Roi untied the cloth and stared down at the food Ewen had gathered for him. The offering was not much: the last piece of flat bread, some pine nuts, and the best slices of their dried meat.

Donn grinned and nodded as Ewen passed by on his way to the stream to rinse out the crock. Kneeling at the edge of the water, Ewen then splashed the cold water onto his face, growling at the way his hands trembled.

Bear chuffed with mirth. “Good.”

With that one single word, Bear soothed Ewen’s frayed nerves. For the first time that he could recall, Bear rubbed gently against his skin as if to console him. Crouched at the water’s edge, Ewen held still in shock, able to sense Bear’s emotions without Bear saying the words. When Roi was with them, Bear came alive, naught showing of the violent creature Granda had warned Ewen of. Bear now spoke to, and even interacted with Ewen, all thanks to Roi. Ewen wiped the dripping water from his face with a new clarity.

“Ewen.” He glanced over his shoulder to behold Roi standing at the edge of the trees. Anger still pinched the corners of Roi’s lips but his hands twisted with uncertainty. “I shall not allow another to court—” his brows dipped into a hard V as if he could hardly believe his own words “—me until I either decline or accept yer… yer…” He huffed. “I know not what ye be thinking courting a man, Ewen. Everything ye do confounds me no end, and my mind counsels me to leave ye be but—” Roi rubbed at his left breast, his palm pressing into his chest as if he attempted to soothe an ache “—I find I cannot deny yer request, regardless of how unseemly it be. I never thought ye to be a daft man afore.” The last was said under Roi’s breath.

“I thought you would deny me,” Ewen confessed.

“Yer declaration caught me off guard, and when ye walked away without waiting for my answer I found meself at the mercy of others who vied for my attention. Ye have much to explain, Ewen. No others be as accepting as yer people.” Roi shook his head in a disbelieving manner afore turning to leave, moving around the four men who had followed him to the stream.

Donn, Arailt, and two other cousins watched Roi go. Bear and Ewen growled. “You heard him. He has agreed to my courtship.” Ewen’s kinsmen dispersed, Donn chuckling into his fist but hurrying away afore Ewen caught him.

Buy Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander on Amazon

About Lexi Ander:
lexi-ander-authorLexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a notebook, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Where to find Lexi Ander:
Lexi Ander Amazon Author Page Lexi Ander on Facebook Lexi Ander on Goodreads Lexi Ander on Twitter Lexi Ander Website

Contest:
Lexi is giving away three $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4717/?