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I’m so delighted to be hosting part of the cover reveal for this fantastic science fiction adventure by Louise Lyons. I was lucky enough to be able to read it at the beta stage and it really got my pulse racing. Terrific stuff with a superb cover to match.

Here are the details:

Regeneration
Release date: January 15, 2017
Genre: Gay fiction, science fiction, MM romance
Length: 75,000 words

In the 23rd Century in the galaxy of Sigma Kappa, Kim Fortune was the first surviving experimental enhanced human—a regenerate. Aged fifteen, he escaped the lab and years later, his failings as a regenerate and the suspicion of regular humans, leave him lonely and lacking in self-worth. Stranded on an abandoned planet, the arrival of a stricken ship and its crew give him hope that he may finally find what he always longed for—love.
Christian Novak is a successful regenerate with all the intended attributes—including lack of human emotion. Despite their immediate attraction to each other, Kim’s failing confidence, and Christian’s inability to empathize are a recipe for disaster. But war, imprisonment, and danger throw them together, and after each saves the other’s life, their feelings begin to change.
Can a seemingly unsuitable pair ever find love, or is a future together destined to fail?

Cover design: Simon Searle

Pre-Order Links
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NAL4NJ8
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01NAL4NJ8
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/688822

Author Bio:
Louise Lyons comes from a family of writers. Her mother has a number of poems published in poetry anthologies, her aunt wrote poems for the church, and her grandmother sparked her inspiration with tales of fantasy.
Louise first ventured into writing short stories at the grand old age of eight, mostly about little girls and ponies. She branched into romance in her teens, and MM romance a few years later, but none of her work saw the light of day until she discovered FanFiction in her late twenties. Posting stories based on some of her favourite movies, provoked a surprisingly positive response from readers. This gave Louise the confidence to submit some of her work to publishers, and made her take her writing “hobby” more seriously.
Louise lives in the UK, about an hour north of London, with a mad dog called Casper, collection of tropical fish and tarantulas. She works in the insurance industry by day, and spends every spare minute writing. She is a keen horse-rider, and loves to run long-distance. Some of her best writing inspiration comes to her, when her feet are pounding the open road. She often races home afterward, and grabs pen and paper to make notes.
Louise has always been a bit of a tomboy, and one of her other great loves is cars and motorcycles. Her car and bike are her pride and job, and she loves to exhibit the car at shows, and take off for long days out on the bike, with no one for company but herself.

Social Media

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/louiselyonsauthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/louiselyons013
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/louiselyons013
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/louiselyons013
Blog: http://www.louiselyonsauthor.com
Email: louiselyons013@gmail.com

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comfy chair

In November, at Manifold Press’s Queer Company event, I was delighted to meet new-to-me author Michelle Peart who was attending with her family. Michelle’s debut New Adult novel had just been released and it looks absolutely terrific.

I’m very glad to host her today so I can get to know here a bit better.

Welcome Michelle!

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

When I was at school I was a shy kid who tried to disappear into the walls. But I was highly artistic with a vivid imagination and an avid reader. At that time, writing was something that was a means to an end and to write creatively just didn’t enter my head. Wind on many many years and I watched a TV programme that I didn’t like the ending of, so I re-wrote it and experienced great pleasure in doing so. That led to taking five writing courses over three years, two of the later courses were at an advanced level. I passed all with distinction. During the last course I began to write To the Left of Your North Star which grew from taking a long walk along the banks of a copper river.

Do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

In-between writing and family I work as a graphic designer with my most recent work being the new book covers for Manifold Press.

When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I enjoy Amateur Dramatics, I mainly help to create the sets and paint the scenery. I’ve painted, amongst others, a Norwegian fiord, a Paris skyline, and desolate moorland. But I have done a wee bit of acting and have become a sassy American photographer, a turn-of-the-century housemaid, and just recently a rather convincing WPC. The group also provide you with the opportunity to write plays – unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to take them up on the offer.

What are you reading?

I’m currently reading a friend’s manuscript. It’s a thriller, which, as a fantasy reader and writer, is a genre I don’t normally read, but I’ve enjoyed dipping into a different world.

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

For me, it was a river! Then the characters came along, and following them, the plot.

Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

Burn arrived fully fledged, I knew who he was, his flaws, his passion, how he spoke, how he felt, what he looked like. But Edward required a lot more work. Initially, because I knew Burn so well, he was going to be my POV character but then I realised that Edward would experience the most upheaval so he had to be my POV. I wrote a whole backstory for him, I even wrote down what he carried in his pockets, and then I trawled Google images until I found an image of a young man that I felt fitted Edward, I pinned the image onto the wall above my computer. He’s still there now, glowering at me.

Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake?

I have a keen interest in history so I would love to write an historical novel. But I’m a scared as it’s a huge undertaking to make sure you have all the details correct. I recently attended the fascinating panels at Manifold’s Queer Company event where various authors discussed writing historical fiction – thought-provoking stuff but scared me even further!

I wouldn’t write horror; I simply can’t get on board with gore and violence.

Put together your ideal team of men/women – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

It’s got to be DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. With Rip, Firestorm, Atom, White Canary, Steel, Hawkgirl, Heatwave, and Captain Cold behind me, all baddies would turn and run with their tails on fire… or frozen.

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

A villain who you can’t see – the best friend, the inner demon, the hidden in plain sight, the one you don’t expect, the shadowy ones.

What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.

At the moment I’m writing a New Adult Urban Fantasy called Brennar. The title protagonist is a young man with a painful secret that lives in the sewers below a city under siege. I’m also compiling a story for Manifold Press’ WW2 anthology, Call to Arms.

 

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

 

Here’s an excerpt from To The Left of Your North Star

The problem was, simply put, that I didn’t feel what my father felt. In fact, I didn’t give a fuck about the planet with its backwards and frankly sex-obsessed natives and total lack of creature comforts.

My father waved once in farewell. I ignored him, tilted my head back, and rolled my neck. My head hurt and the annoying native boy’s humming added to the symphony of pain.

“Wave goodbye, Ed-ward.” Burn’s voice rang with merriment as he rammed his push pole into the sandy bank and heaved the Copper Queen into the twisting flow of the river. The raft jolted. I tumbled off the barrel, sprawled at Burn’s feet and looked up into his stupid grinning face. He flashed his eyebrows and laughed. I so wanted to punch him, but I couldn’t get off this hellhole of a planet without him.

I stood and my legs felt like pistons on the twisting deck. I looked back towards the Fire Glade. The sun was creeping up behind the Mountain of Bones, throwing long bronze reflections across the river’s surface. For a second, I forgot about the annoying boy and saw the beauty my father had talked about my whole childhood. A tiny stab of regret prompted me to wave goodbye but he’d already turned towards the crannog. He entered the dwelling and never gave the river, or me, a second glance. Maybe the famous explorer Herb Kemp was glad to be free of his problem, the embarrassing son. I was no chip off the old block.

Burn steered towards the calmer waters at the edge of the river. My guide appeared to be around my age, perhaps younger. He had a wild look to him with large eyes, cheekbones sprayed with freckles and hair the colour of the river. Long limbed and scruffily dressed, like badly pegged washing, with a bow strung across his narrow frame and an intricate pendant swinging from his neck. I assumed that all the furs in the tent must be the result of his hunting skills.

Burn winked as I caught his eye.

I curled my fists – fighting was always my go-to reaction. Everyone in the Fire Glade appeared to be bedding everyone else. If the bloody native thought he could try it on with me, then he had another think coming. I don’t do, and never will do, boys.

A look crossed Burn’s face as he showed me his open palms. “Lighten up, Ed.”

“It’s Ed-ward.” I sagged and gestured across the horizon. “What do you do on Abaytor? Why is it called that anyway?”

“Abaytor means second in our language, so that was the word your father chose. We call it Heras.”

Typical. Earthlings conquer and rename, whether it’s a tiny island in the middle of the ocean or a whole bloody planet.

Burn jabbed the pole into a shallow reed bed and shoved in the opposite direction. “I look after the bees. The ones your father and his companions have come to study.”

“A beekeeper?” I gave Burn a pitying look. He clearly didn’t aim high up the career ladder. I, on the other hand, was after the job of my father’s best friend – chief executive officer of the Westcoast Bank.

“Well, I suppose. They are rare gold-tipped bees only found in the Mountain of Bones. Their honey has healing qualities not found anywhere else on Abaytor or – ”

Zoning out, I stared at my wet feet. I missed my friends; they’d agree with me that my situation was pants and I had every right to complain. And my bloody mobile wouldn’t work; this God-forsaken planet hadn’t invented the radio yet, never mind the telephone.

“What do you do, Ed, when you are not accompanying your father on his trips?”

I ignored him.

“Edward?”

Good God, the boy was persistent. “I don’t do anything and I don’t make a habit of accompanying him.”

“What is it like having a famous father? I understand he is well known on your planet.”

Fighting an urge to push Burn overboard, I said, “It’s just peachy,” before muttering, “My father’s not paying you to ask questions, just to take me to the Landing Plains.”

“Your father is not paying me at all.”

“You’re doing this for free? You’re mad.” Never do anything for nothing, is what my father taught me. Oh, and never let your left hand know what your right is doing. I still don’t know what that means.

“Having now made your acquaintance, I think I probably am mad.” Burn smiled and rammed the pole into a nearby bank.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To the Left of Your North Star 

The self-assured Edward has accompanied his father, famous explorer Herb Kemp, to Abaytor. Herb is on a mission to save Earth’s bee population, but Edward couldn’t care less and just wants the comforts of home. Burn, an off-kilter Abaytorian with a desire for change, is charged with escorting Edward down the Copper River to Herb’s spaceship. As they travel through perilous lands on a makeshift raft, they are in a constant battle with the river, themselves and each other. Edward’s problems with his father are laid bare as they are hunted, starved, almost drowned, and confronted by difficult choices. But, among the striking landscapes and colourful people of Abaytor, Edward slowly learns about trust, self-acceptance and love.

Buy Links: ARe | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Smashwords

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Author Bio:

I am a writer, a designer, and lover of the fantastical. During the past two years, I have completed four writing courses, two at an advanced level, and passed all with Distinction. To the Left of Your North Star will be my debut novel.

 

You may follow me on my Blog: https://thecopperriver.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter as @ShellPeart, or on Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/mkpeart/

 

 

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Available NOW

 

Author: Elliot Cooper

Title: Junk Mage

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: July 4, 2016

Genre: Sci-fi/Cyberpunk

Category: Romance

Pairing: MM

Sex Content: NA

Length:  17400 words

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Purchase Links:

NineStar Press: http://ninestarpress.com/product/junk-mage/

Email: Raevyn@ninestarpress.com | Website: www.NineStarPress.com

Facebook: NineStar Press | Twitter: @NineStarPress

 

Book Blurb

 

When technomancer Quillian Defote crash-lands on remote planet Marutuk, he has limited time to repair his ship and get off world. If he fails, he’ll forfeit his position as professor of mechanical transmutation at the prestigious Ivy Arcanarium and ruin his employment prospects in yet another sector.

Hunter, a cyborg guarding a junkyard that holds what Quill needs, is charmed by the wayward mage and wants to help him. But Hunter is bound by honor to dutifully guard his mistress and her possessions, no matter how cruelly she treats him.

Together Quill and Hunter stand a chance of starting a new life together if carnivorous wildlife, a violent necromancer, and stubborn pride don’t keep them apart.

 


 

Author Bio

Elliot Cooper is a creativity addict who enjoys writing stories that embody adventure, a hint of the taboo, and shadows that are deeper than they appear at first glance. He also enjoys video games and knitting, and lives in the southern US with his human and feline family.

Website: http://www.elliotcooperwrites.com

Twitter: @elliotwrites

 

Excerpt

Elliot Cooper © 2016

All Rights Reserved

 

I fiddled with the controls on my binocular goggles, one of my own handy creations, and panned the tree line beyond the open, greeneryilled expanse stretching out on the other side of the road. Nothing caught my eye, even at higher magnification. I went left, following the road, jetbike blowing dirt and gravel up into a chalky cloud behind me.

The road curved around a section of deep, dark forest, and I saw my savior. Like a beacon of rusting hope, the hulking bodies of old ships, bikes, boats, and wheeled vehicles hunkered in a huge, fencedff ring at the end of the road.

It was the most beautiful pile of junk I’d ever seen.

A lone figure moved among the wreckage, and I knew I had no time to lose. If I played this right, I could cut a deal, get some parts to work with, and be back to old Lemon before sunset. The bug-eyed critters liked to ease out of the forests, slow and sloth-like, as soon as the light began to fade. No way did I want to figure out why they made those creepy chittering, gnashing noises all night.

I parked my bike and hopped off near the gate, flipping my goggles up and wiping my forehead with my sleeve as I went. It was never a good idea to sneak up on someone who was openly armed, and I definitely wanted the guy’s full attention. I waved in greeting and smiled with all the warmth and excitement I could muster.

“Hey! Hi! You there! With the gun!”

He marched over—huge, bald, and muscled—the brown coveralls tied at his waist and his tight tank top leaving very little to the imagination. It looked like he’d been given hand-me-downs from a scrawnier brother.

“State your business,” he demanded in a rich voice, his rifle in sight but lowered. Half of the hand beside the trigger was polished silver metal.

“I’m interested in buying some parts. Are you the owner?” His expression turned quizzical. Armed guard, then.  “D’you guys take universal credits? Please say you take them.” I didn’t have anything else. I hadn’t intended to take a side trip to a backwater thieves’ den that didn’t even seem to have any thieves in it. But here was captain beefcake, potential business partner, hero, and temporary social life. If he didn’t shoot me.

“Nothing’s for sale. Move along.” He gestured with his gun.

“I can’t interest you in a barter? Something?”

He stood there like a human wall. He didn’t even blink.

“Go away.”

“Look, I crashed on the beach. I just want to get what I need and… well, go away. From this whole weird planet. But to do that, I need some parts. Please.”

“In ten seconds, if you’re still standing there, I’ll shoot.” The cyborg raised his rifle and peered down the sight.

I wondered if he had bionic eyes, too. I wondered if the fence was electrified. I wondered what I could say to change his mind. Whatever it was, it’d take more than ten seconds to work out.

My hands up defensively, I motioned—thoughts working the gun’s barrel up at a ninety-degree angle with a loud creak. The cyborg jerked his head up and stared at the gun, then at me.

“I’m sure we can work out a deal, mister,” I said and put on another of my charming smiles. It usually worked, but this guy was a tough nut to crack. “You have to need something. Everybody needs something or other.”

“Another junk mage.” His brows furrowed over his deep set eyes. It wasn’t a good look for him. His face went impassive again as he tossed his rifle aside and reached behind his back with one hand. There had to be a pistol or some other weapon tucked into his coveralls, but he was smart enough to know if I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t easily ruin it.

“Huh. I’ve never been called that before,” I told him, even though he’d been talking to himself. Maybe that’d get Ry to crack a smile on our next call. Quillian Defote: junk mage extraordinaire. “Is your boss a technomancer? Can I talk to them? Mage to mage?”

“She doesn’t like strangers I don’t shoot.”

Buy links to follow when available!

 

 

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My guest today goes under the name of Ruff Bear in most places though, as so many of us do, he has another name for those boring administrative things that aren’t nearly as much fun as being a creator of truth and beauty. Sadly Facebook doesn’t have much truck with truth and beauty and insists on the workaday name so I’ve invited Bear to my blog so he can talk about the real him for a while.

Welcome Bear.

Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

I have been writing since I was a teenager and had my first work, a poem, published when I was 17. Although encouraged by my writing instructors, I was uneasy about the difficulties of establishing a writing career. I spent over 30 years working in higher education as a professor of political science and a student success specialist. In June 2014, I decided to fulfill my teenage dream and become a fulltime writer.

When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

I enjoy gardening, cooking, travelling, reading books on world history, working out, and submission wrestling. I have written about travel and have a work in progress about the adult wrestling culture.

Bear is also a cracking photographer. Check out more of his work on the Bearly Designed website.

What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

I am finishing up a collection of short stories and novellas by Robert Heinlein.  I read half of it and then switched to Neil MacGregor’s Germany: Memories of a Nation. I wish I could have written anything by Doris Lessing or Gabriel García Márquez. She blows me away with her range and he blows me away with his imagination.

In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Usually character comes first but sometimes I think of a situation I really want to explore. I never know what the plot is until I start writing.

Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

I know my characters completely the minute they set foot in the story. Well, maybe I don’t know their latest colonoscopy results.

Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? 

Eventually I am going to get around to erotica in the D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller sense. I can’t see myself writing horror, crime, or anything with a lot of blood and violence. I admire 19th century horror novels like Frankenstein and Dracula, but the horror isn’t the creatures but how people reacted to them.

I feel very alive when I visit deserts, but desertification is one of many problems facing the world due to climate change, inaction and greed. I wanted to tell a story about the consequences of that inaction and how it could lead to the near destruction of humanity. As someone in love with world history, I wanted to write about cycles in history but projected into the future. As a political scientist, I am drawn to study political change movements, the social contract and empires. I practice Taoism and wanted to create characters that reflected the promises and cautions of that philosophy.

Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot? 

A relationship driven story almost has to be episodic and removes the opportunity to develop a lot of intertwining themes. Even sub plots have to tie into the main relationship. Romance or relationships as sub plots add layers or help explore themes creating a richer story.

When writing series, what measures do you take to keep track of those annoying little details – eye colour, car type, name of ex-spouse’s dog – that are so easy to drop into text and so easy to forget about?

I do one reading that is solely to insure continuity and reveal repetitious descriptions. It drives me crazy that even the best television series will do things like mention a sibling and then next season say the character is an only child.

Put together your ideal team of men/women – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?
Calvin and Hobbes. They always come up with some way to deal with adversity by ignoring convention, usually by creating a distraction that stops anyone else in his tracks. And I have seen film of a leopard hunting and killing a crocodile in water near the riverbank; tigers are larger than leopards and alligators are smaller than crocodiles, so Hobbes can handle them.

Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

Women, getting stuff done, deviously, since, well, forever really.
[Sian Phillips glorious as Livia Augusta in I, Claudius]


Devious men (devious women are never villains), indecisiveness and inaction in the face of crisis, social norms and customs that have lost their meaning, active engagement in any of the Seven Cardinal Sins except lust.

What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.

I am ghostwriting the memoirs of a couple who have lived and traveled widely. I am finishing up the first prequel short story for The Secret History of Another Rome, researching the two sequels, and making notes for more prequel stories. I am finishing a short story about a woman protected by spirits. And I am waiting for my husband to finish the first draft of a science fiction novel we are co-authoring called Crossing Xavier.

Could we please have an excerpt of something?

From The Secret History of Another Rome (the beginning of The Fifth Moment)

Octavian’s mother told her five-year-old son they would be leaving home to live elsewhere. She said it would be a great adventure and they could spend as much time as they wanted together once they arrived. In the meantime, he spent several days with his grandmothers visiting gardens and going on drives in the open air vehicle that was fueled by used cooking oil. One evening, the entire family ate at his great grandmother’s house and stayed up late talking and amusing the child.

One day the boy’s mother instructed him to make sure he said goodbye to his friends after they were done playing in the fields. Octavian couldn’t explain why he was leaving, only that his mother said they were. It wasn’t too unusual for a family to move from a community since opportunities came and went. Still, so far in their young lives, Octavian’s friends had only seen off one other, a girl who left for the interior when her mother was needed at a family cattle ranch when her aunt could no longer manage the place alone. When he said his farewells, the boy with long, bright auburn locks did not know it would be more than two decades before he saw another person less than seventeen years old.

A few days later Octavian found two trunks sitting in the parlor near the front door. It already had been an unusual morning. Instead of giving him his usual short trousers and a shirt to wear, his mother laid out a red piece of clothing that looked like a long shirt without sleeves, an off-white, hooded robe that went down to his ankles, and a light brown leather belt. He asked her what the shirt-like thing was and she said it was a tunic. She said from now on he would be wearing these clothes. It was odd. Mother was wearing a shirt and pants.

After breakfast, the day became even stranger. They traveled some distance to the far side of Mandela beyond Table Mountain to a flat expanse with a modest, white-washed building on one side. Mother told him this was an airstrip. Sitting in the flat, dusty field was a large, metal machine that had wings like a bird, but with upturned ends. He recognized the lettering painted above the windows near the front of the long, silver tube that made up the bulk of the machine. It was Arabic: امبراطورية روما في الإسكندرية. Octavian had been learning Arabic for as long as he had been speaking English and Spanish. The elegant script said Empire of Rome at Alexandria.

Octavian had heard the Empire mentioned by his elders. They did not speak well of it for the most part. His mother, however, used maps depicting the territories of the Empire in her lessons with him. The intelligent child put the pieces together.

“Mother, are we moving to the Empire?”

“Yes, Octavian. Very good of you to sort that out by yourself. We are going to Alexandria, the capital city of the Empire. We will live there.”

“Hmm.”

“Are you ready to go into the plane.”

“Plane? Is that what that is?”

“Yes. It is an airplane, but people just call it a plane for short.”

“Like calling Michael Mike.”

“Yes,” she said. Octavian realized he probably would never see his friend Mike again. “Let’s go. I packed a lunch for us that we can eat in the plane.”

“That sounds like fun.” Octavian enjoyed picnics, but had never had one inside a machine.

Octavian and his mother climbed the stairs and entered the cabin. They were greeted by a member of the flight crew, a smiling, friendly, dark-haired woman wearing a sea green tunic who spoke English with a bit of an accent. “Welcome aboard. I am honored to meet you and travel with you to the city. Please find seats in the passenger cabin. I will speak with you momentarily.”

Octavian’s mother led him into an area in the front of the plane with six large, reclining seats covered in a durable, nubby fabric.

“Here are some blankets and pillows,” the flight assistant added. “I admit the fabric can be a bit scratchy on the seats, so you may want to cover them with one of the blankets. The pillows are a good support for your lower back, as well as your head.”

She disappeared again as Octavian and his mother settled in. His mother was just removing lunch from the bag she had brought with her when the attendant returned. “Oh, I guess they didn’t tell you we provide meals. No worries. I am sure you will be hungry again toward the end of the flight.”

“Flight?” Octavian sputtered. “This machine really uses its wings to fly?”

“Yes, dear. Do you remember a few months ago when I was away for six days? I rode in an airplane to Australia and back. I wanted to be certain I knew what it was like before we moved.”

“And?”

“And I think it best if I give you something after lunch to help you sleep. Even though we will be crossing Africa instead of the southern oceans as I did, there is not much to see and becomes boring rather quickly. You have never been in a confined space like this for any length of time. I don’t want you to become over-excited or ill.”

“But I want to see things, even if it is just clouds and sky.”

“You will be awake while we finish lunch. And I promise to wake you for the last hour of the flight so you have time to see what you want to see.”

Octavian knew his mother always thought matters out carefully and would not bow to him arguing further. Besides, while they were eating, the woman in green came around to ask them to use the belts attached to the seats before takeoff. The boy wondered why they should strap themselves in if they were going to remove their clothes and wasn’t sure why removing their clothes was necessary. However, he saw his mother connecting the ends of her seat belt without stripping. He must have misunderstood.

The engines made a thundering sound. Within minutes, the plane started moving. The machine picked up speed running down the flat, dusty field. Octavian was in awe watching the trees and ground go by so quickly. Suddenly, the airfield was pulling away and the plane was climbing. The boy felt the partially eaten meal settle in his stomach. He couldn’t take his eyes off the window as the landscape became smaller. The plane banked and he could see Cape Town and its harbor, then Mandela, his home community. He could even see his great grandmother’s house set amidst the fields.

As amazing as it was, take off and climbing above the spare clouds was disorienting. Octavian decided it probably was best to relax. After lunch, he took a small red tablet. Funny, he thought. Tablet means a small pill and an electronic screen for reading and writing in English and tableta could mean both in Spanish, too. Those sorts of connections always fascinated the child. Within minutes, however, all thought slipped away and he was curled up in the seat with two blankets and three pillows.

The Secret History of Another Rome

Blurb:
In the mid-2600s, Ranulf becomes Supreme Pontiff of the Empire of Rome at Alexandria, a patriarchy run by priest-bureaucrats called Librarians. After twenty-two years on the throne, Ranulf’s memories flood back to him, from the time he moved to Alexandria with his mother to his present situation resulting from his choices, his training and his relationships. Ranulf’s life has been a quest for truth, not the half-truths of the Librarians and their Secret History, but an understanding of how action rather than static dogma is the path to the future. Guided by mysterious strangers from another time and his own innate curiosity, Ranulf searches for this understanding. Why do the Librarians hide facts from their ruler? What will Ranulf do as he gradually uncovers the truth? How will he respond when he finally understands?

Buy Links:

Kellan Publishing | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Author Bio:

Bear was raised in the Baltimore-Washington area. He has lived in the Albany, NY, area for 20 years. He has been writing since the age of 13 and had his first work, a poem, published at 17. Bear has worked 30 years in higher education as a professor of political science and a student success specialist. He has lived overseas in China, Hong Kong, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Bear currently works full time as a writer of plays, non-fiction, poetry and fiction. The Secret History of Another Rome is his first completed novel. He has written three full-length plays and a one-act play that is the start of another long play. Bear also writes political essays, which have been published at http://www.dailykos.com/user/Ruffbear7 and http://www.opednews.com/hkbearmcneelege. One essay was published in River & South Review’s Winter 2014 issue and a poem was published in December 2014 by Silver Birch Press in their I Am Waiting series. He is completing work on a non-fiction book on the changing definition of democracy and writing several novels and plays. Additionally, he sells blank note cards and prints featuring his original photography at http://www.bearlydesigned.com.

Bear enjoys gardening, cooking, travelling, reading books on world history, working out and wrestling. He and his spouse were married in 1996 in a Christian-Taoist ceremony in a beautiful state park. They enjoy taking care of their 95-year-old house and their three cats: Rani Dolly Lama, Buster Amarillo Spotbelly and Miss KayKay Snugglegrumps.

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Late again but – ah well. Better late than never.

This week I have read a lot of non-fiction – boning up on stuff for work plus a couple of those terrific serendipitous finds on a market stall – but I have fitted in a couple of fiction titles too. It’s one of those I want to wax fulsome about today and a rare and fabulous thing it is too.

Gyrfalcon by Anna Butler

Oh look at that cover!! What a thing of beauty. This book is published by Wilde City Press, rapidly becoming my go to place for finding books with LGBTTQ protagonists that are a bit out of the ordinary. And this book too is something a bit different. What I found here is genuine old school military science fiction, every bit as good as the Vorkosigan Saga, and promising to be as long and as enthralling.

The first of a proposed six book series, Gyrfalcon follows the adventures of Bennett, a highly trained operative in Shield, a special forces organisation that, in addition to regular armed forces, protects the last remaining colony of long lost Earth. Shield seems to be an amalgamation of the SAS and commandos but with a high level of technical training and the ability to formulate long term strategies against the enemy, Maess – aliens that nobody has ever seen who wage war on the surviving humans with the aid of robotic drones built in a parody of human shape.

As if this ongoing war wasn’t trouble enough, Bennett is undergoing a lot of personal conflict in his estrangement from his family and the impossible demands from his long term partner, Joss, who wants Bennett to give up his Shield commission and come home to share in a life of luxurious academia.

But Bennett has another mission – a really crazy one, it’s his idea and it has taken 2 years to line up all his ducks – and he needs a ship. The massive dreadnought Gyrfalcon is commandeered on his behalf, and there he finds the other thing he needs – a team of superb pilots and the best of the bunch, Flynn, who is nearly as crazy as Bennett.

The world building is terrific but I was left wanting more. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at this stage in a series. I don’t need to know the whole history of the human diaspora and I’m certainly given enough to be going on with. Because this book isn’t a mass of dry exposition – it is action from page one. A glance at the blurb will reassure potential readers that there is a romance component but it is most definitely NOT a Romance. This is action, adventure, military drama and thriller combined with exciting hardware and some nicely judged psychological crises. Not all the good people are nice, not all the bad people are villains. Flynn, in particular has his moments where I was muttering Wheaton’s Law to myself. But it’s a very satisfying start to what I hope will be a nice long and complex series.

All I need to know now is how long I have to wait until the next episode!

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Sucking in the Gut
~ a guest post by Anna Butler

We live in great times for gay fiction. The ‘niche’ is pushing back boundaries all over the place. It’s a big and expanding market. I suspect there are now far more readers of gay-themed stories than there are for genres such as the classic western, say. As a genre it’s out and proud, and proudly getting bigger.

And the biggest driver behind this surge is m/m romance.

The romance genre generally is huge. It stands to reason the m/m element is huge too. Readers of m/m romance have certain expectations. That’s not unreasonable. They’re the same expectations I have myself when I’m reading a romance—I want to see two men attracted to each other, overcoming some obstacle to being together, having sizzling sex, being faithful and loving. And at the very least, the book must close with a Happy-For-Now ending even if the story can’t quite make it Happy Ever After. En route they can have all sorts of things happen: murders, mystery, mayhem. Doesn’t matter. What matters is they’re together and I can put the book down feeling good about the outcome.

But this is where it gets a little sticky for me. If you’re looking for pure romance, then I have to confess that neither Gyrfalcon, which is published today, nor any other book in the Taking Shield series, will give you it. Shield isn’t romance. It *is* a love story—a very deep and, at times, intense love story—that covers six years of interstellar war and billions of miles of space travel. This is space saga stuff. All the staples of old school sci-fi are here, too: big spaceships, infiltrations of Maess bases, cool Shield suits, and lots of people running around shooting their lasers.

And it has men in love. Oh wait. Not so old school as all that, maybe.

Across the whole of the Taking Shield series, there are two main story themes, intertwining with each other: the war against the Maess and Shield Captain Bennet’s efforts to prevent the destruction of humanity, and, set against that, the way his life is turned upside down by that intoxicating temptation aka Fleet Lieutenant Flynn. The Maess war and everything Bennet has to do there gets equal billing with the slow unfolding of his relationship with Flynn.

So if romance is driving the great surge in gay writing, where does something like this fit? It’s a niche within a niche market. And here am I, sucking in the gut like whoa so I can wriggle my way in sideways.

Oh, but I hope you find it’s worth the effort to wriggle. If you like big sweeping sagas, big love stories where the obstacles the heroes face a big and sweeping too, I do hope you’ll give Bennet and Flynn a try. They aren’t perfect, but a couple of guys with all their warts and faults, all their brilliance and intelligence, all their courage and loyalty and great hearts, all their beauty and all their ugliness—and they love each other. They love each other a great deal, despite every parting, and every reverse and upset in their relationship. And perhaps one day, at the end of everything, they’ll get the chance they deserve.

Do come on the journey with them. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

GYRFALCON is published today by Wilde City.

 

Earth’s last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn’t need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father—or with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.

EXCERPT

 As advertised, the Shield officer was proving to be the enigma that everyone had expected.

Flynn had worked it that first briefing so he got a good look before anyone else. He liked what he saw. In his black uniform, the Shield captain stood out in the crowd of Fleet pale grey. Everything about the Shield rig was plain. The rank pips in the stand-up collar of the tunic under his flight jacket were a dull silver, and only about half the size of the ones Simonitz wore. There wasn’t a medal ribbon in sight. Only the tiny, ornate Shield badge at his throat was a bright silver.

The monochromatic look suited the Shield captain, matching his black hair and the pale grey eyes. The captain’s hair had more cowlicks than a field full of heifers, spiking up despite it being worn longer than was strictly regulation. Flynn took note, too, of cheekbones so sharply defined that they looked like they’d been machine cut, and a strong mouth. The face was youthful, except for the eyes. They’d seen a lot. Altogether, the Shield captain was definitely one of the pretty people in life. Almost as pretty as Flynn himself.

Cruz, to whom he imparted this insight in the OC after Bennet’s first visit, rolled her eyes so hard it was a wonder the girl didn’t have to grope about on the deck for them. She had never appreciated his true worth. He had to guilt her into buying him a beer in reparation.

He sipped his beer appreciatively. It always tasted better when someone else was paying. “What d’you think of him?”

“Seems pleasant enough.” Cruz shrugged. “He didn’t tell us much, though. I didn’t think he would.”

“No. And that first briefing was a bit basic. Wonder what he was fishing for there.”

“We’ll likely find out in time,” said Cruz.

“I’d rather know now.” Flynn took a pull on his beer. “Simonitz doesn’t like him.”

“Did Sim ever apply for Shield?”

“You picked up on that too, did you? I don’t know, but there were a few hints there. I thought the Shield was pretty gracious about it, with Sim sitting there glowering all night.”

Cruz nodded. After a minute, she said, “He was good with Nairn, taking him seriously. Some people might have laughed or slapped the kid down.”

“Nairn’s a question mark on legs, some days.”

“He’s young for his age.”

“And getting a severe case of hero worship,” Flynn said, laughing.

Cruz looked at Flynn, brown eyes warm with affection and amusement. “He’s not the only one, I’d say.” She smiled. “Would you?”

WHERE TO BUY

Gyrfalcon is available as an ebook at Wilde City Press

 

GIVEAWAY

Comment here and get an entry in a Rafflecopter giveaway to win an Amazon gift card (drawn when the blog tour is over at the end of March).

In addition, one commentator will be chosen at complete close-eyes-stick-a-pin-in-it random, and get a little pack of Gyrfalcon loot and a free copy of FlashWired (a gay mainstream sci-fi novella).

And if you can, come over to the Wilde City Facebook page today for another rafflecopter to win a rocket ship pen. It makes spaceship landing noises. How is that not the most desirable thing on the planet?

ABOUT ANNA

Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.

 

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