Guest blog: J. Scott Coatsworth on his novel “Between the Lines”

BTL CoverI wanted to thank Jamie for inviting me to stop by his blog for my tour – I’m excited to have not just one, but two new novellas coming out in the same month.

Between the Lines is the first, my political mm-romance magical realism story set in my current hometown of Sacramento.

The Homecoming is much different – I call it my spaceman-wolfman story – set a few centuries in the future, exploring what might happen when man comes back to Earth.

I’ve known Jamie for a little over a year, but in that time he’s become a close friend. We hang out a lot on Facebook, and he’s one of a handful of friends I trust to give me guidance on my cover designs, my story ideas and much more.

Being a writer can be difficult. You don’t get into this business to make money. Some people manage to put together a living from it, and a lucky few make it big. You have to do it for the love of writing, and because you have to write.

Jamie is one of those great, prolific writers that does what he does for the love of the art. He inspires me, and I hope my new works are half as good as what he does.

Thanks, Jamie!

BTL CoverBlurb

Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.

Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.

While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad’s not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.

Excerpt

It began with a medallion.

The piece was a simple wooden disk, hand carved with the shapes of leaves and forest boughs and polished by centuries of use, giving it a patina of great age.

It sat upon a small green velvet pillow—the kind jewelers sometimes use, rather unsuccessfully, to enhance a plain necklace of false pearls. The kind you might expect to find on your grandmother’s settee, in a slightly larger size, embroidered with “Home Sweet Home.”

Yet there was something compulsive about it—something hidden in the dark crevices of the carving, filled with the dust of ages.

At least that’s what Brad would recall years later, when he thought back on the first time he saw it: the moment when the lines of his mundane life suddenly snarled, snapped, and ultimately recombined into something quite different.

Of course, he didn’t know any of this at the time.

Buy Links for Between the Lines:

Dreamspinner:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6645

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Between-Lines-J-Scott-Coatsworth-ebook/dp/B011A0STW4/

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-betweenthelines-1840887-143.html

Buy Links for The Homecoming:

Less Than Three Press: http://www.lessthanthreepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_bookx_info&cPath=95&products_id=929

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Homecoming-J-Scott-Coatsworth-ebook/dp/B012U86JFO/

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-homecoming-31

Author Bio

Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Website:  http://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Fantasy, gay, New Release, Occult/Paranormal, SciFi

Train to Sevmash

Davis-croppedI’ve just turned in the short story I was writing for an anthology: Train to Sevmash.

This was an interesting one for me. It began with the idea of doing a Cold War spy story about an American agent posing as an officer in the Soviet navy so he could get access to a secret project aboard a submarine. The submarine was being built at Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk by a scientist who’d defected from the USA to the USSR.

The story was coming along, though it seemed a bit large for a short story with a 10,000-word limit. Then I decided to expand upon the opening paragraph, which mentioned how he’d infiltrated the base by killing a Russian soldier on his way there and stealing the man’s transfer papers. That seemed like an interesting short scene I could add at the beginning.

When I began writing it, I instantly knew that was the story I wanted to write—the story of a man ordered to kill a soldier (technically, a sailor), and what happens when he meets his target face-to-face and discovers he finds the man interesting and likeable. Will he go through with it, even after they spend a train trip becoming friends… and perhaps more than friends?

So I set the other story aside and focused on this one.

Train to Sevmash takes place in 1964, during the Brezhnev era and just two years after the Bay of Pigs. It was a time when a gay man had to be extremely cautious about showing interest in another man, and this becomes part of the dance between Agent Jax Colby and Lt. Yuri Veselov, as they spend a long night traveling from Leningrad to Severodvinsk. And the entire time, Colby is aware of the cigarette case in his jacket which carries the means of Veselov’s execution….

 

2 Comments

Filed under Drama, gay, Historical, Jamie Fessenden, Psychological Drama, Romance

“Murder on the Mountain” has won an award!

This past weekend, I was very honored to see my novel Murder on the Mountain win the Bisexual Mystery category at the Bisexual Book Awards in New York!

I’d been planning on attending the awards ceremony, and now I really wish I had. However, travel proved too difficult this time around. Fortunately, author Cecilia Tan tweeted the awards ceremony!

Click here to see the other winners!

5 Comments

Filed under Bisexual, Bisexual Book Awards, Contemporary, gay, Mystery, Romance, Writing

An American spy struggling to conjugate Russian adjectives

bondI study Russian as a hobby these days. I used to take classes in it in college, and not only was the language interesting in and of itself, but my classmates were terrific. There were only eight of us, and we formed a Russian club. We put on dinners of Russian food and got together to study Russian obscenities when nobody was looking. We were a disparate group—Sandy, the former cheerleader who was rushing a sorority; Steve, a jock who was, frankly, gorgeous; Troy, who was pretty much a nerd (no offense, Troy, you were a great guy), and others I no longer remember so clearly. Then me. I was a nerd, too. But we were united by a common interest, and we had a lot of fun. Sadly, as we moved into our second year, we all found other friends and the Russian club drifted apart.

But over the years, I’ve been frustrated, trying to recall words and phrases from a language I once knew at least a little of. It was nearly gone, when my husband suggested I could take a class in it. I couldn’t find any classes (apart from spending a small our retirement savings on Continuing Ed through UNH—don’t even get me started). But I did discover tutors who were local.

So now I go to Barnes & Noble once a week to study Russian with Natasha* for an hour. She’s from Russia, and Russian is her native language, so I know when she corrects my accent she isn’t steering me wrong. And bit by bit, it’s coming back to me. In fact, I suspect I’m already moving a bit past where I left off in college. Of course, from Natasha’s perspective, I’m about the level of a talking monkey. (“Today… it is… warm.”) Fortunately, she’s lived here a long time, so her English is perfect.

So you’re probably wondering about the James Bond logo. That’s because I was recently asked to write a short story for an athology, and my theme was mercy. I agonized over it for a while, and then while I was re-watching the old 1964 Jonny Quest cartoon series, I had an idea: what about a secret agent during the cold war whose mission is to assassinate someone, but he can’t?

This, not surprisingly, led me to James Bond. But Rex Colby, secret agent, isn’t exactly James Bond. He’s a former US Navy man, trained by the CIA to infiltrate the Russian military. He might have shades of Mack Bolan in him, though I haven’t read one of those novels since I was a kid. Colby speaks Russian without a trace of his native Texas accent, and is the perfect man to go onboard a top secret Russian submarine in search of an American scientist who defected to the USSR with the advanced long-range sonar he was developing.

It was an interesting idea, and it might even allow me to drop in some Russian. I love doing that!

When I mentioned this to Natasha during last week’s tutoring session—”Я пишу рассказ об американском шпионе на российском подводном лодке.” (I am writing a short story about an American spy on a Russian submarine.)—I was expecting her to react to it. I was hoping she’d be amused. At worst, I was afraid she’d be offended. After all, the Russians (Soviets) are the enemy in stories like this.

She looked at me calmly and said, “Лодка is feminine, not masculine. It would be российской подводной лодки.

Oh.  Right.

* In case it isn’t obvious, I’ve changed all the names in this post. I’m no fool.

3 Comments

Filed under Drama, gay, Life, Romance, Writing

Celebrate Dreamspinner Press’s eighth anniversary!

Year3and4_FBpostDreamspinner Press is celebrating its eighth year by having weekly sales. Last week, we had sales on all books by authors who joined DSP in its first and second years, and this week, we have 35% off all books by authors who joined in its third and fourth years.

And that would be me!

I published my first story with DSP (really my first story anywhere) in its fourth year, along with other fantastic authors like Victor J. Banis, J.P. Barnaby, Sue Brown, Kate Sherwood, Christopher Koehler, Rick R. Reed, Shelter Somerset, Eden Winters, Michael Halfhill, Sarah Madison, and… well, the list is huge!

And when you add in the authors from DSP’s third year, who are also on sale this week, it’s bigger than huge! (Whatever that would be. Giga-huge? Huge-normous?)

The entire list is on the home page at Dreamspinner.

So if you’re in the market for some terrific books at a 35% discount, head on over to Dreamspinner Press!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Excerpt – “Isolation” from the “Claw” anthology

The next volume of Gothika was released this week and is available at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and other retailers!

This anthology contains three stories about werewolves and shifters by me, Eli Easton, and Kim Fielding.  Here’s the blurb:

“Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.”
My story, Isolation, is a classic werewolf story about a man (Sean) who gave up on a life-long relationship he’d had with his friend, Jack, to go to college and marry a woman. When the life he tries to lead falls apart, he seeks Jack out in a last-ditch effort to rebuild the relationship he foolishly tossed away.  But Jack has changed now. He’s living in a cabin in the woods, isolated from people, and though he’s happy to see Sean, he resists allowing him back into his life. I was going for a creepy and mysterious atmosphere, with a little humor tossed in and a good bit of erotic tension.

Here’s an excerpt:

He dreamt of that night when they were camping near Cedar Pond. They were both fifteen, both randy as hell, and their friendship was still burning with an intensity few adults could understand. So it was little wonder that here, isolated from the rest of the world, they finally gave in to what they’d both been wanting for such a long time. They didn’t talk about it. Sean, especially, was afraid to. Talking might have given it a name, and he was terrified of that name, of the contempt his father and uncle would have had for him if they’d found out. So he and Jack just did… what they did. And when it was over, they held each other in the darkness of their tent, caressing and kissing until they drifted off to sleep.

Later he awoke and was disturbed to find himself alone in the tent. It was still dark, and without Jack’s body heat warming the tent, Sean felt cold. He hoped Jack had just crawled outside for a minute to take a leak or something, but he waited and waited and his friend didn’t return. Finally, with growing trepidation, Sean unzipped the tent door and peered outside. The moon provided a faint light, though the forest floor was thick with shadow.

“Jack?” His voice sounded quiet and a little fearful. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was very wrong.

He crawled out of the tent and stood, wrapping his arms around his naked body in a vain attempt to stave off the cold night air. Then he saw Jack, standing silent and still about fifty feet away. He was naked, beautifully illuminated by a shaft of blue-gray moonlight. But when Sean called to him again, there was no response.

Cautiously, Sean walked on bare feet through the ferns and pine needles blanketing the forest floor. When he drew near, and Jack still hadn’t moved, he reached out to brush Jack’s bare shoulder with his fingertips. Only then did Jack turn his head to give him a strange, enigmatic smile.

“Listen,” he whispered.

Sean was shivering and wanted nothing more than to crawl back into the warmth of their sleeping bags—both him and Jack together—but he cocked an ear and tried to listen. At first he heard nothing. Nothing, that is, except the usual sounds of a forest at night—wind in the trees, the rustling of leaves, the occasional snap of a twig as a squirrel or deer slipped past in the shadows. But then he caught something—a faint sound like people whispering. The voices were elusive and impossible to pinpoint. He couldn’t be certain what direction they came from, or even if he was really hearing them.

“What is it?” he whispered back.

Jack’s smile was rapturous, as if he were hearing the voices of angels. “It’s calling to us.”

“What is?”

“The forest.”

The next morning Sean woke to the sound of a vehicle pulling into the driveway. It was light out, and the clock on the fireplace mantle read nearly ten. Bright sunlight was streaming through the open curtains.

Before he could decide whether he was really awake yet, the door opened and Jack came in. Once again he was shirtless, which was a pleasant enough sight to wake up to, but the damp, sweaty T-shirt he tossed at Sean’s head was a bit less pleasant.

“Hey, deadbeat! You ever gonna wake up? I’ve been working for hours already.”

“Fuck you,” Sean muttered, but he sat up, tossing the shirt on the floor. “What have you been doing?”

“Landscaping at the Donnelly’s,” Jack replied cheerfully. He crossed the living room to turn on the water in the kitchenette sink, then started scrubbing his filthy hands. “They want to rent their house out when they move to Florida.”

“Oh.” Sean stood up from the couch, still fuzzy and half-asleep. He was wearing just a pair of tight briefs, and when Jack turned back to him, rubbing his hands on the dish towel, Sean was pleased to notice Jack eyeing his package a bit before looking away.

“Come on. It’s hot as hell, and I’ve got two hours ’til I have to deal with that old bitch, Mrs. Westcott, and her damned flower beds. Let’s go for a swim.”

“Where?”

“There’s a pond, just down the path behind the cabin.”

Sean rubbed his face with his hands and glanced down at himself. “I didn’t bring a suit.”

Jack quirked an eyebrow at him and tossed the dish towel onto the counter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Contemporary, gay, horror, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Werewolves

Authors behaving… like human beings

So there is yet another author who got upset over a bad review and blogged about it, and readers who were angered by an author telling them how to review.  I’m not going to link to the disaster.  But I do have some things to say about this issue.

  1. I hate the distinction between “readers” and “writers.”  It’s a false dichotomy.  Every writer is also a reader.  Not every reader wants to be a writer, but many do.  The distinction is muddy, and this isn’t a conflict it’s possible to take sides on.  Unfortunately, it’s still a real conflict, and it’s difficult to talk about it without saying “readers” and “writers” (or “authors”).
  2. Self-publishing has it’s upsides and its downsides.  On the upside, it’s allowing a lot of talented people who can’t get into the hallowed halls of traditional publishing to get their work out to the world.  Some of them are brilliant, but they weren’t writing what publishers thought would sell.  On the downside, it also allows people with little talent or skill to put their work out there.  And this has caused a lot of readers (not all) to think writing doesn’t require any skill or talent, and to view our profession with derision.  They no longer think books are worth paying for, and they begin their relationship with a book on a note of hostility, already angered by the fact they had to spend money on “crap.”  This makes me very sad.
  3. Writers have no choice but to suck it up, when it comes to bad reviews.  It doesn’t matter if the review was nonsensical, it doesn’t matter if the reviewer hated the book for a stupid reason.  It doesn’t even matter if the reviewer didn’t read the book.  None of that matters.  Do you know why?  Because absolutely nothing a writer says in retaliation for a bad review will improve the situation.  It will make it worse.  Guaranteed.  Sure, a few people will rally to your defense, but just as many or more will attack you for it.  And it will cost you readers.  The worst thing to do with a bad review is draw everybody’s attention to it — people who would never have even glanced at the original review — and spew commentary about it all over the Internet.  Do you really want the first thing that pops up on Google when people search for you to be twenty blog posts about how whiny you are?  If you don’t care about people buying your books, fine, but if you do… take a breath, and let it go….
  4. Having said that, I am not on the side of readers who beat their chests and wail about Authors Behaving Badly whenever an author blogs about how hurt they are by a review.  There are two arguments I see over and over again:  1) Authors are “oppressing” readers, and 2) Readers have the real power, because they pay the author’s salary, so to speak.  The second argument is largely true.  Readers pay for our books or don’t pay for them, and that affects our income.  There are a number of authors out there who don’t really give a rat’s ass whether people buy their books — they’re in it for the art — but most of us do.  But that renders argument one invalid.  I cannot have power over someone and claim to be “oppressed” by them.  That’s nonsensical.
  5. Words are not “oppression.”  An author ranting about a review does nothing whatsoever to “oppress” the reviewer.  It’s just words.  The review was words, and the response was words.  Nobody’s freedom has been infringed upon — they both got to have their say, even if what they said was childish and inflamatory.  If anything, it’s the author who’s at a disadvantage, since an inflamatory blog post or response to a review on Goodreads can ultimately cost him or her income.  But I have little sympathy for people who equate hurt feelings with “oppression.”  As my friend and fellow author, F.E. Feeley, Jr. said in his much more ranty blog post today, that’s a “first world problem.”  There are people out there who are really oppressed.  This ain’t it.
  6. There’s no need to bring ridiculous levels of paranoia into this.  Yes, we’ve all heard the story about the author who flipped out and tracked down a reader at her home and then at work.  But have you heard the story about the reader who showed up at a book signing to splash ink on an author because her novel was “about her?”  Yes, whackjobs abound.  But these people don’t represent authors and they don’t represent readers — they represent whackjobs.  For the most part, authors don’t show up at reviewer’s houses and try to kick the door down, and readers don’t attack authors.  So chill.

4 Comments

Filed under Life, Writing