Category Archives: New Release

Writing advice, because that’s what we writers like to do

So my latest novel, Small Town Sonata, was contracted for publication by Dreamspinner Press, and I’m very happy. Hopefully, it signals the revving up of my writing career again.

So, in the spirit of that, and because someone asked about it in a Facebook group, I’ve decided to offer some Writing Advice (capitalized, to show how pompous… I mean “important” it is). Seriously, this is just some stuff I learned over the years. Take it or leave it, as you like. It’s less about writing than about some practical concerns.

I started writing in Middle School, reading articles in The Writer (which was a much better magazine then) and locking myself in my room after school to type. My mother bought me my first typewriter (personal computers were like $5,000 then), but with the door closed, the heat from the wood stove couldn’t reach me, so I had to bundle up in a blanket. Abe Lincoln would have been proud.

I still have all of that writing in a briefcase. Most of it is pretty bad. Writers often tend to start out thinking their prose needs to be Serious and Important (translation: flowery). That’s actually the worst thing for modern writers, unless you’re doing historical or literary fiction. (And even then, it’s probably not great.) So there are some story ideas I like in that pile, but I’d have to rewrite them all from scratch. But, hey, that period taught me a lot about how to write.

I wrote on and off over the years after that, but had difficulty finishing things. Eventually, I tried NaNoWriMo, and that allowed me to finish my first novel (Seidman), then another, and so on. Everything I wrote through NaNo was eventually published. (Finish what you write. An unfinished story is no good to anybody, and even one that isn’t 100% perfect has a better chance of being published than an brilliant, unfinished one.)

I write in Word and use Scrivener to keep my notes. (Tip: You can relocate the Scrivener directory to a folder in your Dropbox folder, so they’ll be backed up.) I tried writing in Scrivener a few times, but so far I’ve found it difficult. The problem I’ve had with Word is that it wants me to buy it on iPad, even though I own (=lease) it on my laptop. This has made it nearly impossible to use my iPad for writing, as I used to do.

In college, I composed electronic music, using a program called Personal Composer, which had a problem with frequent crashes (at that time). One night, after working on a piece for something like 5 or 6 hours (it was around 3am), I saved and it crashed. Because I’d only used ONE file the entire time, it got corrupted, and all my work was lost. I learned to create a NEW save, every time I work on something. My novels tend to have over a hundred save files, by the time I’m done.

For a while, I was working a corporate job, and using thumb drives to take my current working files back and forth between home and work (I didn’t have a laptop). I discovered two things about thumb drives:

 

  • They’re easy to lose. I had to completely rewrite an entire chapter once.

  • They’re unreliable. On several occasions, I saved files to a thumb drive, ejected, and discovered the files were not there. They weren’t anywhere – not on the drive, not on the computer, not even in temp files. This is when I started using Dropbox, and yes, they’ve had some problems with security, but they also keep backups of files, so when a file of mine was destroyed somehow (Virus? I don’t recall.), I was able to go to the Dropbox site and download it again.

Lastly, if you can’t get a publisher or agent to buy your novel, consider self-publishing it. I’ve read a bunch of articles which insist self-publishing is what Losers do, when their work isn’t good enough to be published by real publishers. They’re the equivalent of cavemen banging on rocks, angry that “cheaters” have discovered a box of matches.

Look, the fact is, self-publishing is relatively easy, and that’s led to the market being flooded with a lot of stuff I would have to call “poor-quality”… if I’m being kind. This, in turn, has led a lot of readers to assume our self-published work isn’t worth very much. Combined with Kindle Unlimited, authors are now forced to sell months of hard labor for pennies, if we want anyone at all to notice its existence. (Thank you, Amazon, for pulling the floor out from under aspiring authors.) This has led to more and more indie publishers throwing in the towel, so those that are left have been forced to close or severely restrict submissions.

Throw in the fact that, with so many people out of work, everyone seems to think writing might be a way to earn some income, and the end result is that traditional routes to being published, which were already difficult, are now extremely difficult. Good books, bad books, books written by the next Great American (or whatever country you’re from) Author… they’re all being rejected. It is not a sign of failure to self-publish.

Some books make the rounds between publishers for years — even decades. Do you have that kind of time? I’ve published over 30 novels and novellas between December 2010 and now — just over eight years. (Of course, I know authors with two or three times that output.) I may not be a brilliant author, but my work is being read. And that’s what needs to happen, if you want to earn anything writing.

What a lot of authors are doing, if they can, is publishing through publishers at the same time they self-publish. This is called hybrid publishing, and it has the advantage of getting your name out by association with the publisher, as well as convincing readers your stories, including the self-published stories, are professional quality. Going through a publisher can also help you make contacts with editors, cover artists, and others who can help you, when you self-publish.

And that’s a key thing: if you self-publish, you must hire a professional editor and a professional cover artist, and probably a formatter, as well. This shouldn’t break the bank, but it will likely cost a few hundred dollars. It will be worth it. Nothing screams “Crap!” like a homemade Photoshopped cover with free images everyone and his brother has used before. And if a reader skims the preview and sees typos and spelling errors on the first two pages, you’ve lost that reader forever.

But self-publishing has a much quicker turnaround than publishing houses. When I published my last Christmas novel, I finished it, had it edited, got a wonderful cover for it, and published it — all in the space of about a month and a half. I didn’t have a choice about going through a publisher, if I wanted it out by Christmas. Self-publishing also means a smaller chunk comes out of my royalties. This isn’t because publishers are swindlers, but simply because they have overhead costs.

Anyway, all this pontificating has worn me out. I’m gonna go take a nap.

I mean “write.” I’m gonna go write.

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Filed under James Erich, Jamie Fessenden, Life, NaNoWriMo, New Release, publishing, Romance, Writing, Young Adult

Tomte is now available on Amazon!

My newest Christmas story Tomte is now available on Amazon!

RYAN ANDERSON has known something was wrong since he was a teenager. He’s been tormented by a sense of emptiness and loss—but what did he lose? He has no idea. Then a mysterious man appears, calling himself Tomte, a Swedish word Ryan remembers hearing from his grandmother in his childhood.

It means “Christmas elf.”

With the help of his older brother and his nine-year-old niece, Ryan begins a journey to discover what happened fifteen years ago, when he disappeared during a winter storm and didn’t reappear until spring. Not only has he forgotten those months, he’s forgotten the faithful dog who failed to come back with him. 

As memories surface and impossible things happen all around him, Ryan senses Tomte, that beautiful man he’s inexplicably drawn to, is the key to everything—his past, his future, and his happiness. 

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KWLZ4YT/

Excerpt:

Ryan came to an intersection where the tracks went in two different directions, and he swore under his breath, struggling to sort it out while snowflakes flitted across his vision. A frantic bark to his left sent him in that direction, and after a few more twists and turns, he burst into an open circular area. There were no lights, but the overcast sky had the bluish-gray pall it often had on stormy nights and the snow on the ground reflected it back. Ryan could see, though barely. The music was louder here, and mixed with laughter and exuberant conversation—the sounds of a joyful gathering.

A mound rose from the earth in the center, about the height of a grown man and twice as wide—the same mound he’d dreamt of nearly every night since leaving the hospital, though in the dream it had been surrounded by forest, not a labyrinth of corn.

Tracks led to a sort of cave in the side of the mound—dog prints and what seemed less like deer hooves than human boot prints, though they were rapidly fading under a blanket of white. Ryan followed them. The opening in the mound was barely large enough for someone his size to crawl through. He stood at the entrance and peered inside. The ground inside sloped downward and then took a sharp turn to the right. Light flickered in the depths, as if a campfire burned just out of sight. He’d never seen this cave before, but a memory kept dancing away from him, maddeningly out of reach.

The sound of footsteps crunching on snow made him spin around. A large white shape emerged from a dark gap in the wall of corn. The stag. It walked purposefully toward him, and the nearer it came, the larger it loomed in his vision. Ryan had never seen a stag that size. He’d read about a seventeen-pointer called the “Emperor of Exmoor,” which stood seven feet tall, and this magnificent beast had to rival him.

Unlike in the dream, the stag didn’t run past Ryan. It drew near and was suddenly engulfed in a swirl of snow. When the snowflakes spun off into the night, Tomte was standing in its place, stark naked, his skin shimmering as if it were sprinkled with stardust. He walked barefoot through the snow as calmly as if it were a warm, summer evening. Without clothes, Tomte’s slim form was surprisingly muscular, though the beauty of his nude body was overshadowed by the antlers that sprang from his head, forming a magnificent crown of silver wider than his shoulders.

When he was near enough to touch Ryan, he asked, “Do you remember?”

Ryan’s head was full of a confused jumble of images, wonderful and awe-inspiring but also a bit frightening. “I… I’m not sure.” His gaze traveled down Tomte’s trim torso, unable to escape a strange sense of familiarity, as if he’d once rubbed a thumb over Tomte’s nipples and caressed the ripples of his abdomen. The thick, uncut flesh between Tomte’s thighs… yes, that was familiar too.

Self-conscious now, he forced himself to look into the man’s face. There were sparks in Tomte’s eyes. They were clearly visible in the darkness that surrounded them—tiny flickers in the depths of his pupils. Ryan could gaze into those eyes forever.

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Filed under Christmas, Contemporary, Cover, Excerpt, Fantasy, gay, Historical, Jamie Fessenden, LGBT, New Release, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Victorian

Coming Soon: Tomte

I did it!

I finished my Christmas novella, after a very long dry spell.

Tomte is a holiday story about Ryan, a man who’s been suffering from depression ever since his teenage years, but he has no idea why. Then a handsome man begins appearing in his life at odd moments, only to disappear again without a trace. Eventually, his older brother tells him about the time he got lost in the forest, during a winter storm, and didn’t return for six months. Ryan has no recollection of this or the faithful dog he’d always had by his side, up until that night.

 

Then things get really bizarre. 

Don’t worry, that’s not actually the blurb. I’m working on that. I’m also working on formatting, and intend to have everything polished and professional in a few days, aiming for a release date of Friday, November 3oth.

I already have a gorgeous cover from Reese Dante, but I’m holding off on posting that until I have the Pre-Order link on Amazon.

NOTE: A tomte is a Swedish gnome who watches over a family or farm. Some people believe he’s the spirit of the first farmer to clear the land, and he’s usually depicted as a small man with a long white beard, wearing the typical clothes of a medieval farmer: breeches, stockings, a tunic, and a pointed cap. (The tomte in my story is human-sized and sexy. I claim poetic license.) As long as he’s treated well by the people living on the homestead, who leave him offerings of milk and porridge with butter, he’ll make sure they’re prosperous and well cared for, often leaving small gifts for them. This folk legend greatly contributed to the Santa Claus mythos.

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Filed under Christmas, Contemporary, Fantasy, gay, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, Occult/Paranormal, Romance

Guest Blog: “Oberon Cycle Book Two: Lander” by J. Scott Coatsworth

LanderJ. Scott Coatsworth has a new MM Sci Fi book out:

Sometimes the world needs saving twice.

In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.

Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.

In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.

Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?

The Oberon Cycle: Book Two

About the Oberon Cycle:

Xander is a skythane man whose wings have always been a liability on the lander-dominated half world of Oberon.

Jameson is a lander who has been sent to Oberon to find out why the supply of the psycho-amoratic drug pith has dropped off.

What neither knows is that they have a shared destiny that will change the two of them – and all of Oberon – forever.

Dreamspinner – eBook | Dreamspinner – Paperback

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks

QueeRomance Ink

Goodreads Link


Giveaway

Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate and three copies of his queer sci fi eBook “The Stark Divide.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d474/


Excerpt

Lander banner

Xander stared at the torrent of water pouring over the cavern entrance. Somewhere out there, Quince and the others were lost in the storm.

“What happened to everyone else?” Jameson shouted, putting his hand on Xander’s shoulder.

“I don’t know. Last I saw them was before the lightning strike.” How had things changed so quickly?

Jameson started toward the exit. “We have to look for them!”

Xander pulled him back.

Jameson’s eyes were wild.

He squeezed Jameson’s hands, trying to reassure him. “Hey, calm down. There’s nothing we can do right now.”

“We already lost Morgan.” Jameson’s eyes pleaded with him. “I can’t lose the rest of them.”

Xander shook his head. “It’s no use. We’ll never find them in this tempest. They’re seasoned veterans. They can take care of themselves. We’ll go looking after the storm passes.” The loss of Morgan weighed on him too, though he was less and less certain that Morgan had been a human boy at all.

Jameson looked doubtful.

Xander felt it too, but there really was nothing they could do. “Hey, it’s gonna be all right.” He pulled Jameson to him, enfolding the two of them with his wings. Jameson was soaked, but Xander didn’t care.

Jameson nodded against his chest. “You’re right. Gods, I know you’re right. I’m sorry. I thought we were done with all this.”

Xander held him out at arm’s length. “Gods, huh? We’re doing the plural thing now?”

Jameson gave him a half smile. “Trying it out? When in Rome….”

“How’s your hearing?”

Jameson cocked his head. “It’s better. But everything sounds muffled.”

Xander nodded. “I can tell.”

Jameson blushed. “Am I talking too loud?”

“Just a little.”

Jameson smiled sheepishly. “It’s weird. It feels like my ears are full of water.”

Xander kissed him gently. “It’ll pass.” He looked around the cavern at last, his eyes gradually adjusting to the dim blue light.

The place was a faeryland, filled with rows of golden stalactites and stalagmites, like the bulwarks of an eldritch castle. Each one was a miracle of minute detail, like candle wax dripped from above. The whole cavern was lit by a turquoise-blue glow.

Xander looked around for the source. It came from pools of water on either side of the cavern. The scintillating light shimmered along the walls, creating complex, ever-changing patterns.

“Look, Jameson… it’s beautiful.” They were both a muddy mess. “We’re stuck here until the storm blows itself out. Why don’t we get cleaned up and try to rest? Then we can figure out what to do next. We have a long flight to Gaelan.” He was still shivering from the rain.

“A bath sounds like heaven.” Jameson let Xander lead him to one of the glowing ponds.

“Do you think it’s safe to go in?” Xander asked, pulling off his boots and testing the water with his toes. It was warm.

Jameson looked queasy, but then he smiled. “They called them faery ponds. There’s a microscopic organism that makes the light. It’s harmless, but beautiful.” He grinned. “Romantic, even.”

Ah, that’s how you knew this place. “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?” he said, slowly and clearly, gesturing to indicate Jameson and the cavern. His own generational memories were still fleeting, occasional things.

Jameson’s smile fled. He shrugged. “Not me personally….”

“Shhh. I know.” If he closed his eyes and focused, he could see this place too, but he seemed to be able to block them out when they were inconvenient. “Too many memories.” Xander pointed at his head.

Jameson nodded. He looked relieved. He reached out and pulled Xander close, his hands warm on Xander’s waist.

Xander slipped his arms around Jameson and kissed him once, twice. He wrinkled his nose. “You’re filthy and you stink! So do I.” He held up his shirt as proof. It was covered in mud stains.

Jameson laughed. “We can fix that.”

He helped Jameson unlace the sides of his shirt, pulling it off to reveal the naked skin underneath. Jameson returned the favor, his hands lingering for a moment before withdrawing to pull down his own pants.

They shucked their wet and dirty clothes and descended into the water. It was surprisingly warm, silky and smooth around Xander’s waist.

The pool was about three meters across and sloped down to about a meter deep at the far end. There was a warm, gentle current drifting past Xander’s legs, and the stone beneath his feet had been worn smooth by water and time.

Xander washed the grime off his skin, and it drifted off into the water around him.

Jameson pulled him in deeper and gestured for him to lower his head.

Xander lay in Jameson’s arms, and warm water washed over him, carrying the mud and dirt out of his hair. Jameson massaged his scalp, pulling away the twigs and bits of gunk he’d accumulated on the mad run through the forest in the storm.

Xander’s desire threatened to overwhelm him at Jameson’s gentle touch. He dipped his face into the water and rinsed off. It was so fucking good to get clean.

He shook his head, splashing Jameson, who shot him an aggrieved look.

The look turned into a wicked grin, and Jameson splashed him back. Then they were going after each other and laughing, a fine mist of water flying through the air.

Damn, it’s good to hear you laugh again. Xander grabbed Jameson and kissed him, harder this time, and Jameson’s body responded. They fell back into the water, and Jameson was hard against him, his own need naked before Xander’s desire.

After all that had happened, Xander needed to feel human and alive again. He tugged Jameson back to the shallow part of the pool and pulled his skythane down on top of him, Jameson’s skin warm against his own.

He kissed Jameson’s neck and nibbled on his ear, eliciting a low moan.

Jameson wanted this as much as he did. He could tell.

For a long, slow, ecstatic hour, Xander forgot all about the storm.


Author Bio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Bloghop, Excerpt, gay, LGBT, New Release, SciFi

Christmas music in Iceland!

I have yet to actually visit Iceland. So when I was writing my novel A Viking for Yule, I had to rely upon a friend (Sigríður Valdimarsdóttir) who lives there, a lot of research, and Google Maps. But I wanted to experience as much as I could, so I ordered food from Iceland (the shipping cost was more than the order, not surprisingly) and tried the rye bread, licorice, and chocolate Sam eats in the novel. I also ordered Appelsin and Malt Extract, so I could make Jólabland. (It was all absolutely delicious, and I want more!)

Another thing I wanted to do was experience Icelandic Christmas music. What’s Christmas without music?

So I dug around on the Internet and talked to my Icelandic friend to learn what might be on the radio during the yule season this year. I ended up putting together a CD that I listened to pretty much constantly, as I worked on the novel.

It drove my husband insane, but I picked a couple of songs to use in the story.

The first time Arnar turns on the radio, this song comes on, which I thought was a wonderful upbeat pop song. It’s called Jólin eru að koma (Christmas is Coming) by the group Í svörtum fötum (In Black Clothes from the best John Henric UK collection).
Here’s the scene where they come across it:

Arnar fiddled with the radio and a contemporary rock song came on. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics were in Icelandic.

“What is that?” Sam asked.

“Christmas music.”

Sam grinned at him. “It doesn’t sound very Christmassy. It’s more like the J-pop I heard in Japan.”

“Stop being so provincial.” Arnar looked scandalized. “That’s ‘Christmas is Coming’ by In Black Clothes.”

“In Black Clothes?”

“That’s the name of the group. It’s actually a pretty old song, from when I was at university.”

“Oh.” Sam wasn’t sure if he liked it or not. For that matter, he wasn’t sure if Arnar liked it or just didn’t like Icelandic music being mistaken for J-pop. He closed his eyes for a bit to listen.

After a moment, he heard Arnar softly singing along with it.

 

Later, when they are sitting in the car, waiting to see if the Northern Lights will put in an appearance, a song called Ef ég nenni by Helgi Björnsson comes on. It was Sigríður’s favorite Christmas song, and I fell in love with it too. The line Arnar “sings” to Sam was translated by Sigríður from the original Icelandic.

Arnar turned the radio on, tuned to the same station they’d been listening to wherever they drove, and Wham’s “Last Christmas” washed over Sam, comforting in its familiarity, though it wasn’t normally one of his favorites. He settled back in his seat, relishing the warmth of his new sweater and the smell of clean wool. The song ended, and another song came on that he didn’t know.

“This is my favorite Christmas song,” Arnar said softly.

It was in Icelandic, so Sam had no idea what it was about, but it was slow and pretty, with sort of an ’80s pop ballad feel. Arnar sang along in a smooth baritone, which made it sound beautiful. After a few lines, Arnar said, “He’s singing about how he wants to give his love all these wonderful presents for Christmas, if only she’ll have him—gems and pearls and a golden crown for her forehead, all the kingdoms of the world, the most beautiful roses from the bushes of the past, the Water of Life….” He sang a little more, then translated, his pupils glinting in the faint light of the GPS, “‘Never again will you have to endure any evil in this world, my angel, because I’m here and watching over you.’”

That sent a shiver down Sam’s spine. He smiled sadly and glanced away. “For a couple more days at least.”

“Já,” Arnar said gently, lifting Sam’s hand to brush his lips against it. “For a couple more days.”

But of all the songs I listened to while I was writing A Viking for Yule, this Icelandic version of A Spaceman Came Traveling by Frostrósir struck me as the most beautiful. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a live version I liked as much as this one, so this video just has the album cover. But thankfully I also came up to interesting car articles which helped me decide what car to finally buy.

For that matter, Frostrósir has become my favorite Icelandic “group.” Actually, they’re not really a group, so much as an annual concert with different performers each year. The music director is Karl Olgeirsson, who writes a lot of the music and lyrics for the songs each year. Another of my favorite Icelandic Christmas songs springs out of it. This one features an appearance by one of Iceland’s openly gay male singers, Friðrik Omar, along with Margret Eir, and it was released for the 10th anniversary of the Frostrósir concerts. It’s just so… cheerful!

Next, we have two quieter songs. The first is Dansadu Vindur (Danse Wind) by a singer known as Eivør:

Then, a beautiful ballad called Hin fyrstu jól (The First Christmas) by another openly gay Icelandic singer, Páll Óskar.

Sigríður pointed me at another favorite of hers: Það á að gefa börnum brauð (We Should Give Children Bread) performed by Reykjavíkurdætur.

The next two are just songs I enjoy listening to: Heima um jólin (Home for Christmas) by Helga Möller and Þú komst með jólin til mín (You Brought Me Christmas) by Bo Halldorsson and Ruth Reginalds.

Lastly, Sigríður tells me the song “Morning Has Broken,” popularized by Cat Stevens in the 1970s (it actually originated as a Scottish hymn in 1900, with English lyrics written in 1931 by Eleanor Farjeon), has become a very popular Christmas song in Iceland. This is the version I stumbled across while writing A Viking for Yule, called Líður að Jólum (Christmas Is Coming) performed by Stebbi Hilmars.

This is a really long post, so I’ll stop there. But I hope you enjoy the sound of Christmas in Iceland!

AFTER SAM’S GRANDFATHER nearly died in a blizzard one year ago, Sam has panic attacks in snow storms. So where does his friend Jackie propose they spend the holidays, as the last stop on their trip around the world?

Iceland. Of course.

But there’s more in Iceland than snow. When Arnar, a handsome Icelandic man, offers to escort Sam on a several-day tour of the beautiful countryside, they soon find themselves drawn to each other. But Arnar is firmly rooted in his native soil, and Sam has to return to the US in a week to care for his ailing grandfather.

Suddenly, yule can’t last nearly long enough.

NOTE: Though this novel includes characters from “A Cop for Christmas,” it is a standalone adventure. It isn’t necessary to read “A Cop for Christmas” first.

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Filed under Christmas, Contemporary, Excerpt, Jamie Fessenden, LGBT, New Release, Romance, Viking

This Christmas, let’s go to Iceland!

This Christmas, I wanted to write about a couple of secondary characters in last year’s A Cop for Christmas: Sam and Jackie.

Sam Wilson was the ex-boyfriend of Steve Coleman, and he was kind of a sad, lonely person, whose life nearly fell apart when his grandfather had a heart attack in a blizzard, and help couldn’t get there in time. Fortunately, Steve was able to drive them to the highway through the storm, and they made it to the hospital.

They spent the night at Jackie Montgomery’s house, a house from the houses for sale greenwich ct. Jackie is an older woman who knew Steve’s mother in college, and she’s been a close friend of the family since Steve was born. She’s a bit like Patrick Dennis’s Auntie Mame—a woman who believes in living life to the fullest, who travels the world in search of adventure and has the financial means to do so. In A Cop for Christmas, she immediately took Sam under her wing, drawn to his insecurity. For other travel tips, visit aceboater.com for more information.

As A Viking for Yule begins, Sam and Jackie have been traveling through eight different countries in as many months, and Sam is a bit more self-confident. He’s been to baths in Japan and Russia, experienced an earthquake in Indonesia, and had monkeys steal food from his pockets in Bali. But nothing has prepared him for a week in Iceland with Arnar Thorsteinsson as a guide….

The Christmas season in Iceland is still called Jól—Yule—as it was before the country was Christianized, and many of the popular traditions still have a very pagan feel to them. At this time of year, the sun doesn’t rise until nearly 11:30 a.m. and sets around 3:00 p.m. The shortest day (the winter solstice, December 21st) is just four hours long. So most of the day is dark. But the largest city in Iceland, Reykjavik, is lit up like a Christmas tree!

Like other cities in Europe, Reykjavik and the neighboring Hafnarfjördur  have Christmas markets where you can go from booth to booth, buying Christmas ornaments and decorations—many locally made—and the hot chocolate Sam and Arnar are so fond of. Akureyri in the north also has year-round Christmas shops.

But my favorite thing is (are?) the Yule Lads. Since about the twelfth century, and possibly dating back before then, Icelanders have warned their children that, if they’re not good, the troll, Gryla, will scoop them up in her sack and take them to her cave to devour them. She is aided in this by the Christmas Cat. Less sinister, however, are her thirteen children—the Yule Lads.

The Yule Lads are trolls, but they’re more mischievous than evil. Each one has a particular vice. Window Peeper looks into windows to spy on people and steal what he sees. Door Slammer stomps around your house in the night and slams doors, to prevent you from getting any sleep. If you can’t find your… *ahem*… sausage, it’s probably because Sausage Swiper absconded with it, when you weren’t looking.

If children are particularly good, however, the Yule Lads just might leave some candy behind for them.

Each lad comes to town on a different day of the yule season and remains thirteen days before departing. So, for example, Sheep-Cote Clod (who steals the milk from sheep) shows up on the 12th and remains until the 25th. His brother, Gully Gawk (who hides in gullies and watches people), arrives the next night, and stays until December 26th. The last to arrive is Candle-Stealer on the 24th, which is the night Icelanders typically open all of their gifts. He remains until January 6th (Epiphany).

The Reykjavik Art Museum-Hafnarhús put out a booklet called Christmas Creatures in Reykjavik, which gives brief descriptions of the Yule Lads and Gryla, and shows the locations of them on a map. If you go to these spots during the yule season, you can see animated projections of them on the sides of buildings.

AFTER SAM’S GRANDFATHER nearly died in a blizzard one year ago, Sam has panic attacks in snow storms. So where does his friend Jackie propose they spend the holidays, as the last stop on their trip around the world? 

Iceland. Of course.

But there’s more in Iceland than snow. When Arnar, a handsome Icelandic man, offers to escort Sam on a several-day tour of the beautiful countryside, they soon find themselves drawn to each other. But Arnar is firmly rooted in his native soil, and Sam has to return to the US in a week to care for his ailing grandfather. 

Suddenly, yule can’t last nearly long enough.

NOTE: Though this novel includes characters from “A Cop for Christmas,” it is a standalone adventure. It isn’t necessary to read “A Cop for Christmas” first.

Buy Linkhttps://www.amazon.com/Viking-Yule-Jamie-Fessenden-ebook/dp/B077TLWLZ4/

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Filed under Christmas, Contemporary, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, Romance, Viking

Excerpt from “The Stark Divide” by J. Scott Coatsworth

Some stories are epic.

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

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

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

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

Excerpt:

Colin sat on an outcropping of rock with absolutely nothing to do. It was a strange feeling, after the hectic pace of events these last twenty-four hours. The enormity of what had happened rushed in on him and threatened to crush him. He turned off his comm link, wrapped his arms around his chest, and wept unabashedly. For Hammond, for the Dressler, for his own endangered life.

The suit’s recycling systems dutifully removed the water his tears deposited within the helmet, the soft whir of the suit motor the only external sound.

After a while, he began to calm down, taking a few deep, ragged breaths. The worst was over. Jackson was in no pain, and they had escaped the wreckage of the Dressler.

Now he would witness the birth of a new world, something good come out of this otherwise unmitigated disaster. I can do this.

He turned the comm link back on.

The doc’s voice was in his ear. “—can’t seem to reach you. Are you okay? I’m coming back as quickly as I can—”

“I’m here, Doc.” Colin kept his voice steady. “Just a glitch on the comm. Don’t rush back. Just take it slow and steady.”

“Oh God, it’s so good to hear your voice, Colin.” She sounded close to losing it. “I don’t know what I would do all alone.”

“I’m okay. Just get back here so we can get this done.” He stood and stretched.

“Affirmative.” She was all business once again. “Give me about ten minutes.”

He put his hands on the seed, trying to feel the life within, wondering what it would lead to. The thing he held between his hands was destined to become a world all its own, mankind’s first interstellar ship.

What would its occupants think of the world around them? Would its strange interior be as natural to them as the Earth was to him?

He looked up at the stars as the spin of the asteroid pulled them away from the sun’s glow once again.

Where would it go, and how long would it take to get there?

It was a liminal moment in the history of mankind, the threshold of a new era, and he was here to see it.

For a moment, he forgot all about Jackson Hammond and the Dressler. He was filled with an intense longing to go along with these future star travelers, to see what was out there. It was what had fueled his passion to become a pilot, to come out here into the vast unknown. Though ultimately he’d become nothing more than a highly paid delivery boy.

There was so much more beyond where they were allowed to go.

We have such short lives in the grand scheme of things. He’d be unlikely to live long enough to see her launched into the void, let alone to see where she went and what she found there.

“I’m almost there, Captain,” Anatov called.

He acknowledged her tersely, turning back to look at Jackson’s corpse lying there in the starlight.

He just wanted to get this over with and get back to the safety and comfortable confinement of the lifeboat.

It was too big out here for one man, no matter his grand ambitions.

Buy Links:

DSP Publications (paperback): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-stark-divide-by-j-scott-coatsworth-416-b

DSP Publications (eBook): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-stark-divide-by-j-scott-coatsworth-415-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Stark-Divide-Liminal-Sky-Book-ebook/dp/B074G2NJP6/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-stark-divide-j-scott-coatsworth/1126901106?ean=9781635338324

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-stark-divide

iBooks: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-stark-divide/id1266474103?mt=11&at=1l3vtqV

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35834187-the-stark-divide

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/the-stark-divide/

Author Bio:

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links:

Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Facebook (author page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/jscoatsworth/

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

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

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

 

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Excerpt, gay, Guest Blogger, LGBT, New Release, SciFi