Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Diplomat's Bride (Treaty Brides #2) Samantha Cayto


 

The Diplomat's Bride by Samantha Cayto

Book 2 in the Treaty Brides series

Word Count: 53,223
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 188

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
GAY
GLBTQI
ROYALS

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Book Description

Being a bride is a state of mind, not of body.

Kexen of the Outer Vale has made a unique splash in the Moorcondian palace and has captured the attention of Benedict, Lord Tentrees, a diplomat trying to make his mark. When a winter-long mission arises to negotiate a trading treaty with a foreign queen, Ben needs a wife by his side. Never having been attracted to women, he sets his sights on marrying the enticing Kexen. He means for him to be both a helpmate navigating court society and a shield against the flirtatious queen.

Because Kexen is someone who—by his own admission—is neither male nor female, he is intrigued by the idea of becoming Lady Tentrees and presenting entirely as a woman. Ben sweetens the offer with a lucrative trade deal between their families. Kexen will not ignore his duty while also being drawn to the virile diplomat who desires him. He cannot help but accept the proposal.

Their journey through both their diplomatic mission and marriage proves to be a rocky one. Kexen is not as experienced as his husband first believes, Ben is more driven by his career than Kexen appreciates and neither of them anticipates the intrigue waiting for them at their destination. The strength of their growing bond will be tested as they fight for their survival.

Excerpt

Benedict, Lord Tentrees of Northcliff, stood at the balcony’s rail and peered down at the colorful spectacle of the servants’ ball. Technically, he had no business being there. The ball season for the nobility had already ended earlier in the evening. These final hours were intended to benefit those who served the palace denizens so faithfully throughout the year. This was a grand gesture of thanks for their hard work and loyalty. Woe be it to anyone who didn’t give a servant these few hours to enjoy themselves with food, drink and merriment. The royal family had long made it clear that this was by decree. There would be some aching heads and sleepy eyes come the harsh light of the morning, but for now, the people twirling around the dance floor and taking liberties with each other in corners had no care in the world—or so it seemed to him. Not that his gaze landed on anyone for long, because he was there to find one person in particular.

It wasn’t difficult for him to spot his quarry. Even among the bright garments of the attendants, Kexen of the Outer Vale stood out. He was clothed in the colors of fall—deep red, bright orange and sparkling yellow. His daringly short doublet sported gathered sleeves that cascaded in folds down his slender arms while provocatively highlighting what lay behind the crotch of his almost obscenely snug trousers. His knee-high brown leather boots gave his legs an even longer look, while his elaborately braided hair swung with his every graceful turn. Kexen was not a tall man, but that was all to the good. The boy would fit perfectly with Ben’s own height. The vision of gathering him in his arms was captivating. His cock hardened at the thought of it, enjoying the spark of pleasure. With his demanding profession, there wasn’t much opportunity to slake his needs. Hopefully, that situation was about to change.

There was no reason to tarry any longer, so, stepping away from his vantage point, he headed toward the staircase that would send him into the midst of the revelers. He had intended to be as inconspicuous as possible, understanding that this was not his domain, that he was an interloper who might cause some alarm among the servants. His good intentions notwithstanding, the severity of his all-black clothing served to make him stand out among the festive outfits of those around him. There was a certain amount of startlement by those who saw and recognized his station, if not his identity, leading to smiles morphing into more respectful expressions. Some nodding of heads occurred, as well, in deference to his rank. Ben tried to convey that he was no threat to them, that he had no demands, not even any expectations—not from these people, in any event. Kexen was a different story altogether. If all went to plan, Ben would seduce the boy while judging up close whether they would make a good match.

Ben caught sight of Kexen on the dance floor again. He was being whirled around in the beefy arms of a footman. Ben settled against the wall to stay unobtrusive as he waited with less patience than he would have expected from himself for the musicians to end their song. The moment the last of the notes were played, he launched into the crowd. Now he appreciated being shown respect as the partying servants cleared a way for him, making his journey that much quicker. He caught up with Kexen and his partner just as they were stepping out onto one of the balconies. The night was brisk but, in contrast to the heat of the ballroom, very refreshing—not that the cold air served to dampen his ardor. Seeing Kexen up close only increased his desire for the boy.

Exquisite.

Kexen’s face was lit with joviality as he gazed up at the footman, laughing at something the man had said. There was a coy look to the boy’s expression, as well. Ben was surprised at the spurt of jealousy he felt at the sight. He reminded himself that Kexen was not his and might never be so unless he proved to be worthy. Charging forth as if he were an enraged lover was hardly going to serve that purpose. Being a diplomat, he knew how to bank his emotions and measure his words and actions. By the time he reached the couple, he hoped he appeared friendly and casual.

Kexen was the first to spot him. His jubilance dimmed somewhat, although he looked more curious than apprehensive. He nodded his head. “My lord, is there something you wish?”

You. In my bed. Ben didn’t voice this desire out loud, of course. Instead, he said, “I would love a dance, if you would honor me.” Ben had the pleasure of seeing surprise flash across the boy’s face. He was delighted that the obviously confident young man could still be caught off guard.

Kexen reached to twist one finger around the chain of a small ruby pendant and dropped his gaze. “I am honored, my lord. But your pardon, this is the servants’ ball. It is not fit for a nobleman.” Just as Ben was appreciating the subtlety of the rebuke, Kexen looked up at him from under his lashes.

Cheeky boy, you’re interested. Ben stepped closer. “And a fine event it is. Please forgive the intrusion, but I have been anticipating the opportunity to meet you, Kexen of the Outer Vale. This seemed the best occasion to do so.”

Now Kexen showed open welcome, his lips curling in a beckoning smile. “Oh. You flatter me, my lord.”

The footman proved that his brains weren’t as big as his muscles. When the man opened his mouth as if to object, Ben stepped deftly between him and Kexen and stared the footman down. “If you don’t mind?”

They were matched in height, and while Ben wasn’t quite as broad, he could hold his own in a brawl as well as at the negotiation table—not that either skill was required in this event. He didn’t hesitate to convey his social position in his gaze to encourage the footman to find someone else to dally with. The man was confident but not entirely stupid, apparently. With a curt nod, he strode away.

Pleased with the outcome, Ben turned to Kexen and held out his hand. “They are playing a waltz…my favorite.”

Kexen managed to convey shyness, something his reputation belied. Ben didn’t mind the pretext. The boy’s ability to navigate the complex waters of a court was one of the things that Ben coveted him for. He hadn’t been worried about a refusal, but when Kexen put his hand in his own, the jolt of excitement Ben felt was a surprise. He prided himself on being cool and measured in his actions. Something about the feel of this boy, however, made him want to drag him off into a corner and do a different kind of dance—one that involved his cock sliding past those slightly tinted and lovely lips. The way Kexen closed the distance between them, wrapping his arm around Ben’s neck, told him that the boy had similar ideas. Such a temptation, but Ben schooled himself to be patient, because this night was not a one-time seduction. It was hopefully the beginning of a short courtship.

Ben took his dance partner by the waist and pulled him in close, letting Kexen feel the measure of his arousal. “Let us stay out here. I wouldn’t want my presence to impede the others’ enjoyment. I will endeavor to keep you warm.” So saying, he began to slowly lead the boy in circles.

Kexen tilted his head to look him in the eye. “You are succeeding admirably, my lord.”

“I’m gratified to hear it. I’m Benedict, by the way.”

“I know who you are, Lord Tentrees. I must confess to being surprised that you know who I am.”

Ben whirled them into the far recesses of the balcony, taking them away from everyone else. “You shouldn’t be. Who at the palace hasn’t heard of the valiant groomer of the Duchess of Vostguard? You helped to save Prince Soren from an ambush at grave risk to your own safety.”

Kexen dropped his gaze and shrugged. “Oh, that. It was all the Duchess’ doing. I merely went along to serve him, as is my duty.”

Ben knew false modesty when he heard it, and this was decidedly not that. Kexen truly believed his actions weren’t worthy of special mention. Ben’s estimation of him increased. There was more to this boy than beauty and even bravery. Most people in his position would brag to anyone and everyone about such exploits, not caring if their words betrayed the secrets of those whom they served. Kexen’s humbleness and discretion were excellent traits in diplomatic circles. There was no doubt in Ben’s mind that he had made the right choice, even if it were really the only one afforded him.

“You don’t do yourself justice. I’ve attended a few meetings in the presence of the king. I assure you he feels quite differently.”

Kexen blushed despite the cold air swirling around them. “The royal family is very kind, my lord.”

“My friends call me Ben.”

“I am surely not that upon such a short acquaintance.”

“I should like you to be.” He let his passion show in his eyes. “Should we continue our dance somewhere more private inside?” He actually held his breath waiting for the reply. In theory, he could have his way whether Kexen wanted him or not. King Auden didn’t tolerate the abuse of servants, but pressure could be brought to bear quietly against even the most secure servants with little retribution, if one was careful about it. But that wasn’t how he intended this venture to go. An eager Kexen would be a far better prize than a reluctant and begrudging one.

Kexen rested his cheek on Ben’s shoulder. “I would like that very much.”

Ben wasted no time, ending their dance before tugging Kexen by the hand back into the ballroom. He skirted the crowd to leave through the nearest exit and led the boy to the first quiet alcove he could find. The palace had so many discreet places for assignations that he was inclined to believe it was by deliberate design. Part of him disliked being so public. He would have preferred to take Kexen back to his own apartment, but, despite his recent promotion in the diplomatic corps, he still didn’t have a room in the palace. Taking the time to dress for outside and head to his place in the city didn’t appeal to him. Plus, he didn’t want to burden Kexen with two trips—there and back—on such a cold and late night.

The moment they were out of the sight of prying eyes, he pulled the boy into a kiss. He’d intended to take it slowly, to do nothing that might alarm even an experienced person such as Kexen. One touch of their lips, however, had him devouring the boy’s mouth instead. His much-valued control snapped with a speed that alarmed him. Or, rather, it would have, if feasting on Kexen were not as delectable as it was. Within seconds, he was sitting on a tufted settee with Kexen straddling his lap. Their respective erections mashed against each other as much as their clothing allowed. Ben wanted nothing more than to strip those barriers away. He had to wrestle with himself to gain control over his passion.

Breaking the kiss, he peppered Kexen’s jaw with quick pecks. “We must slow down, my dear, or I won’t last much longer.”

Kexen giggled in a sweet voice. “Who says I want you to…Ben?”

Hearing his name spoken in a voice thick with need nearly sent him over the edge. He closed his eyes and nuzzled the side of the boy’s neck, breathing in the sharp scent of bergamot mixed with the more musky smell of his arousal. As Ben worried that his mind was becoming cloudy, Kexen slipped from his grasp and was kneeling between his legs before Ben knew what was happening.

“Let me make you happy.” That was all the boy said before undoing the laces of Ben’s trousers, freeing his cock.

What rational thought that was left in his mind fled in the next instance when Kexen swallowed him whole right down nearly to the root. It was an impressive feat based on his prior experience. No one had ever taken the entirety of his rather large dick, and few had been able to manage as much as Kexen was now. The intensity of being mostly encased in such tight, wet heat nearly undid him. Then Kexen worked his throat muscles to massage the top half of Ben’s shaft. That was all it took for him to double over from his orgasm, pressing his lips tight to keep from shouting his pleasure.

Kexen kept lavishing attention on Ben’s dick until it popped out of his mouth. The boy beamed up at him as Ben caught his breath. “Do you feel better now, my lord?”

By way of an answer, Ben hauled him back up to his lap with a swiftness that made Kexen gasp. “Not nearly enough. I want more.” He kissed the boy again, tasting his own bitterness. Far from being disgusted, he loved it, because it was a mingling of them both. He wanted to reciprocate the giving of such pleasure. But when he reached between them to cup Kexen’s erection, he found that the boy had already come from the cocksucking alone. Knowing that he’d had such a potent effect on him puffed up his chest. He wondered if he could do it again and found himself eager to try. There was plenty of time left in the night, and based on the way Kexen melted into his arms, he seemed just as eager for more.

This was proof that he’d been right all along. Kexen of the Outer Vale was the perfect bride for him.

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About the Author

Samantha Cayto

Samantha Cayto is a Boston-area native who practices as a business lawyer by day while writing erotic romance at night—the steamier the better. She likes to push the envelope when it comes to writing about passion and is delighted other women agree that guy-on-guy sex is the hottest ever.

She lives a typical suburban life with her husband, three kids and four dogs. Her children don't understand why they can't read what she writes, but her husband is always willing to lend her a hand—and anything else—when she needs to choreograph a scene.

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: The Last Son Of Venus by Dion Marc


 

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Book Title: The Last Son Of Venus 

Author and Publisher: Dion Marc 

Release Date: January 29, 2022 

Genre: MM Dark Urban Fantasy  

Tropes: Fated Mates, Size difference, Alpha Top 

Themes: Trust yourself, don’t follow anything blindly, magic, gods, good vs evil  

Length: 87 000 words/330 paperback and 340 hardcover 

Heat Rating: 4 flames

It’s the first book in a planned series and ends on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

Paperback or Hardcover also available from

B&N  |  Angus Robertson

Darkness hungers for the child of love. 

Blurb  

Alone and in London for the first time, Alex Anderson is being hunted by the darkness as the fates have seen fit to turn his dream holiday into his worst nightmare before he even steps foot out of the airport. 

An archaic evil hungers for him and will stop at nothing to possess the  twenty-two-year-old and the coveted secrets that have been hidden from Alex his whole life. 

All that stands in their way is a two-and-half-thousand-year-old spartan  Commander named Nikos and his fellow guardian sidekick Jin; a pink haired descendant of the goddess Hekate. 

Nikos will move heaven and hell to protect Alex even if that means protecting him from himself. 

When boy meets man sparks fly and an instant bond is felt, a connection that feels as old as the fabric of time. But Alex must first learn to trust Nikos and Jin while fighting his anxieties that have controlled his life if he has any  hope of surviving what's to come. 

The Last Son Of Venus is the first in the fast-paced LGBT fantasy romance series of the same name featuring queer male characters, high fantasy creatures, magic and the true gods of old. The Last Son of Venus will take  you on a long multi-series journey to a well-deserved HEA. So come and join Alex and Nikos and see what the Fates have in store. 

Excerpt 

Bitter wind violated my exposed flesh, sending a deep chill to the very core of my bones.  Mother had warned me that London was cold, but I thought she meant cold like Melbourne in  winter, not winter in Antarctica. If it wasn't for the fact that my jumpers were all packed down at  the very bottom, I would have stopped and added an extra layer of protection. But I was cold  and feeling far too lazy to reorder my bag, so I went without. Yes, I was an idiot. 

As per the map’s instructions, I turned right onto Gillingham Street. It was becoming really 

hard to focus on the map because the streets were barely lit. I cursed myself inwardly that I  didn't just buy a portable phone charger, but I would be sure to rectify my error first thing  tomorrow. My goodness, this would be a lot smoother if I was using my phone's Google Maps.  Anyway, what was done was done. 

For a Saturday, there was very little nightlife, which I thought was odd considering what I knew  about Londoners and drinking, although I have to say my knowledge on the subject was like  ninety-five percent based on Geordie Shore reruns. But still, there was not a soul on the street. 

I could feel my anxiety grow; it wasn't helped by the fact that some random man told me  someone was trying to kill me—though he wasn't some random man, was he? He knew my  name. I felt a shiver run up my arms; I didn't think I could feel any colder. Maybe I should have  stayed and heard him out before running away...again, if I had, maybe he had a portable phone  charger. 

Looking back down at the map, I estimated I had maybe another six-minute walk ahead,  although I wished I had just paid for the stupid cab fare, but I really couldn't justify the cost for,  what, maybe four hundred metres. I walked further every day on my morning run. 

The light flickered in the lamppost above. How strange. It flickered again, but this time, it didn't  light back up. I was plunged into darkness as the rest of the streetlights also extinguished. 

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP 

My anxiety started to peak, and my instincts told me to get out of there fast. All of a sudden, I  felt eyes on me. Shit shit shit. My pace quickened into a slight jog, my bag swinging heavy  behind me. 

Why did it feel like the approaching darkness was watching me? I looked up to the sky where  once a moon sat giving light to the sky, but now it was gone, shrouded by darkness. I started to  shake  uncontrollably; I couldn't tell if it was from the cold or my anxiety. Both seemed to be at war for  dominance over my body and mind. 

A sound emerged through the darkness, muttered voices. I started to run, every fibre of my  body telling me to do so. My flight response was fully active, I flew down the street, but the  voices seemed to be gaining on me. They were now close enough to hear what it was they were  chanting. "Consumptura est lux tenebris." They repeated it over and over. 

I crossed the street in mere seconds, but was stopped from going further by a gate of iron. I  turned to go around, but to the left of me, I found that the men were closing in on me. Looking  to the right, they were doing the same yet only metres away. 

Fuck fuck fuck, my only option was to jump the fence. It wasn't very tall, so I knew I could make  short work of it. I put my hands on the spikes and pushed down, lifting my body. I swung my  legs up and jumped down. The hem of my shirt got caught on a spike, lifting my shirt up,  trapping my arms. "FUUUUCK!" I yelled, trying to fumble myself free. I was shaking so violently,  I could barely unhook it, the process taking minutes rather than seconds. 

It came loose just as the men closed in. It was then that I realised my duffle bag's strap must  have also gotten caught on the spike as it lay broken just on the other side of the fence, but I  could clearly see the men's robes of red now. I hadn't the time to retrieve it. I'd have to let it go  and hope I found it later after I had made it to a police officer. 

Even the darkness seemed to draw dimmer. How was that possible? Turning, I started to run,  pushing past plants and shrubs, pulling my shirt back down as I ran. 

Their chant suddenly changed, I could now hear their voices ringing in my head as if they were  whispering right into my ears. "Arbores et plantae saxa animari, prohibere eum." Their chant  had changed. It felt as if the trees were drawing closer, which couldn't be so. 

Something grabbed my foot. I let out a scream as I fell to the ground hard. What was that? I  looked around, but all I could see was grass. I must have tripped over a root or something,  though I couldn't see one. Getting back on my feet, my left ankle felt swollen, and as I put  pressure on it, I let out a loud scream. I hoped against hope that it was just twisted and not  broken. I tried to run, but the pain was just too great. 

CRASH. The gate lifted from the ground and flew into a tree. The robed men continued to follow  me. FUCK.

"HELP! Someone, anyone, help me!" I shouted. 

One of the men raised his hand at me, and my voice faltered. I tried to let out a scream, but my  voice was gone. What in the name of Ursula the sea witch was this? All I could do was try  limping away. 

Roots lifted from the ground before my very eyes, spraying moss into the air, leaving the earth a  maze of traps, clearly designed to stop my escape. What was I to do? I tried to hop over them,  the pain forcing tears to fall from my eyes. But the pain didn't stop me. I continued to push  myself, for my life clearly depended on it. 

"Corrumpam vineam eius," shouted one of the robed men. Instantly, vines fell from the trees  and launched themselves at me. I ducked and missed the first one, but the rest found their  target, instantly forcing me to the ground, wrapping around me like dangerous pythons. 

The roots curled up, pulling me to face the robed men, forcing me to watch as they approached.  The men were dressed in robes of red. I could just make out a crucifix scar on one of the men's  outstretched arms. Wrapped around their hands were what looked to be rosary beads, but  something looked wrong. It seemed like the beads dug into their hands, drawing out a dark  fluid. 

The wind changed, and the smell of metallic ooze hit my sinuses, causing my nose to curl. That  answered the question of what the fluid was: it was blood. I struggled with everything left in my  body, but it was no use, the vines just grew tighter and tighter, almost to the point of breaking  bone. 

 "Help me," I prayed inwardly. "Someone, please." 

A man in the centre stepped forward chanting with the others, "Accipere auferat divina virtute."  Something jabbed into me sharp like a needle, causing unimaginable pain to flow through me. I  screamed and screamed, but no sound escaped me. Whatever it was it felt like it was crawling  through my veins. 

He continued forward towards me, chanting. Only a few feet away, I could now clearly make out  his face that was hidden by a hood. He looked to be in his mid-fifties with a full white beard,  long hooked nose, and beady black eyes. He kneeled beside me and raised his outstretched  hand over my face. I tried to close my eyes, but they were forced open. The man squeezed his  palm into the rosary beads, which I could now see were made of jagged barbed wire that cut  into his flesh. As the man squeezed, blood fell like water droplets over my face. On impact with  my flesh, it sizzled like acid; it smelled like it too. I was truly dead. My only thought was on my parents, hoping they would be able to get past my death. My vision started to fade to black.  This was the end of me. My eyes finally closed. I had no strength anymore. Maybe death  wouldn't be so bad? And with that thought, it all went silent. 

BANG! 

The earth reverberated. There was loud running, yelling, and what sounded like sandbags  hitting a wall, but I couldn't open my eyes to see. They felt like they were welded shut. 

"You must continue the chant!" shouted a voice that felt like spiders crying in my ears. 

The chanting started again. "Accipere auferat—" But was cut off mid-sentence as what sounded  like thunder struck the earth. I needed to run, move, get up, break the bonds holding me. My  brain told me this, but it was as if I was buried alive. 

Something dropped beside me. It radiated warmth. I wanted to lean into it. I tried to but failed. I  wanted it closer. "Please come closer," I begged the universe, and by some grace, it did. I felt a hand on my cheek; it was warm to the touch. Who was this? What was this? Again, I tried to  open my eyes but failed. I started to panic again. This couldn't be the end. My mind started to  race. Mentally, I was thrashing back and forth, wishing my body to do the same. This feeling of  disconnection was the scariest thing I had ever felt. 

"By Zeus, Alex, gods fucking dammit, your lips are blue," growled a familiar voice. Was it the  Adonis? It sounded like him, and for some unexplainable reason, I hoped it was him. I could feel  his hands on me. Everywhere he touched, I felt warmth. 

"Jin, we're going to need a recovery charm," he yelled at an unknown person. 

"Babes, I am fucking busy if you didn't realise, you know, holding off the Priests of Bellum  Sacrum," bit back an unknown, effeminate voice. 

"Fuck it all to Hades, you couldn't have just come with me at the train station." The Adonis's  voice turned gravelly. But I couldn't follow him at the train station because he was a stranger. I  didn't know him; therefore, I couldn't trust him. But was he here now to save me? So maybe  that meant I could trust him? 

"Fuck it, we'll have to swap," called the Adonis back to the person he called Jin, I assumed. 

No, don't leave me! He can not leave me. Don't take the warmth away. I'm so very cold. As if he  could hear me, he assured, "Don't worry, Alex, I'll be back." Then he was gone. The coldness set  back in, his warmth only a haunting memory.

Thunder struck the earth again; there were more screams of pain and terror. The smell of  metallic ooze grew almost too strong to possibly bear. A thud beside me. Was it the Adonis? It  couldn't be because this person didn't radiate warmth like he had. Was he friend or foe? 

"Queen, don't even stress, okay, I'm here to help you, boo." It was that voice again; it was  distinctly fem, but like fem male, not a fem female. I assumed it was Jin, but I really wished I  could open my eyes and stop all the guesswork. 

 "Álysoi kaí desmá nýn spázete." I felt warmth all over my body. Suddenly, I felt weightless like I  was flying in the air. The darkness began to fade as a white light came towards me. I tried to  meet it halfway. 

Light burst into my reality as my eyes flew open, temporarily blinding me as my eyes readjusted.  A man who couldn't be any older than myself stood over me, his hair fairy-floss pink, kept neat  and short on the side with a front fringe that covered the tops of his brows. 

"Is he awake yet?" yelled the Adonis from somewhere just out of my field of view. "Yes, fuck, give me a second, Miss Bossy Tiger," snapped the pink-haired man. He turned and spoke to me, trying for a soothing voice, but came off very condescending. 

"Hi, Alex, my name is Jin. I'm going to need you to stand up. Can you do that for me, dolls?" But  wasn't I tied to the ground by vines? 

"Jin, get him the fuck up now. We need to move!" said the Adonis, running back into view. "I'm  trying," he responded. 

"Then try harder." 

Before I could process what was happening, one of the robed figures instantly appeared 

behind the Adonis, bloodied dagger outstretched ready to strike, going for the killing blow.  "NOOOOOOOO!" I screamed, sending out a blast of energy that felt like it came from my 

very soul. I couldn't let the Adonis die. 

Gusts of power forced the robed man into the air, flying back with a loud crunching sound 

into a tree. The dagger burst into smoke. It took me a moment to realise what it was I had done.  My body retracted inwardly, instantly forming a ball. What had I just done? I started to rock 

back and forth, tears falling from my eyes.

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP 

I was a freak, and I may have just killed someone. I needed my mother to tell me it would be  okay, but she wasn't there, so I didn't know what to do. I needed to know I didn't just kill  someone. "Shhhh, calm down, it will all be okay," said Jin softly. 

But it wasn't going to be okay; nothing was. It would never be okay again. "Right, fuck this. Get the fuck up now, idiot, before you get us all killed," growled the Adonis. 

I just looked at him, like was he kidding? Like really, was he kidding? The rudeness. I was 

going through something. Instantly, my anxiety and grief turned to anger like a light switch. I  was standing up, pointing my finger at him. "Who the hell do you think you are? Do not EVER  talk to me like that again, do you understand?" 

The corners of his mouth turned up slightly; the barest whisper of a smile ghosted his face.  "That got you up, now didn't it?" 

About the Author  

Scottish Australian author Dion Marc lives and breathes queer art. Whether he is painting, writing, sewing or dancing naked in the moonlight he does it with pride. He is a practising  Hellenistic polytheist who believes in healing the world one hug at a time and that drinking tea without a biscuit is a horrendous crime. 

Dion has spent over eleven years working full time in film and television as a Makeup Artist, Hairdresser, Wig Maker and Costume Designer. For the last year Dion has been working on the award-winning theatrical shows Hamilton, Moulin Rouge and more recently full-time on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a hair and makeup artist. 

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook Group  |  Instagram

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one of five DELUXE eBook copies of ‘THE LAST SON OF VENUS’ 

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Parasite by Ridley Harker


 

Title: Parasite

Author: Ridley Harker

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/28/2022

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: M/NB

Length: 82500

Genre: Horror, LGBTQIA+, Action/adventure, coming-of-age, dark, humorous

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Description

Seventeen-year-old Jack Ives is used to being unlucky. His only friend has just moved away to college, his parents are alcoholics, and he’s relentlessly bullied by the town psychopath. All that begins to change with the arrival of a handsome but quirky new student, Lucien, who wants to be more than friends.

Their newfound happiness doesn’t last, however, as a strange new illness strikes the island. Fishermen go missing, and the villagers left behind aren’t themselves anymore. When Lucien is suspected to be the cause of the outbreak, can Jack overcome his teenage hormones and save Eldrick Isle? Will he even want to?

Excerpt

Parasite
Ridley Harker © 2022
All Rights Reserved

0054 hours

September 2, 2015

Gulf of Maine

When some kooky mainlanders offered to pay extra for a midnight ferry, Bill Jamison had jumped at the chance to pay off his bar tab. Now he regretted it. The middle-aged fisherman leaned morosely against the starboard rail while beside him his business partner, Jim Kendrick, fought the uphill battle of smoking a pipe during a storm. The rain pounded against the deck in a dull roar and, judging from Kendrick’s cursing, the pipe had gone out once again.

Not for the first time, Jamison reluctantly noted that his partner was getting on in years. Kendrick’s coat hung from his wizened frame like a cloak. His mysterious weight loss had made them both nervous, not that either one said anything. For an Eldrick Islander, the prospect of cancer was like foul weather; something to be endured without complaint.

“Goddamned son-of-a—” Kendrick upended the pipe and a sodden wad of tobacco fell onto the deck. He kicked it away, smearing it across the boards.

“We shouldn’t have gone out tonight,” Jamison said.

“Horse shit,” Kendrick huffed. “We’ve sailed through worse than this.”

“That ain’t what I meant.” Jamison jerked his head toward the mainlander lurking near the bow of the ferry.

Tall and blond, his passenger’s washed-out appearance resembled a photograph, the kind found in a neglected attic of subjects long deceased. Judging by the young man’s pinched frown, Jamison assumed that Silas Spencer was either a lawyer or an undertaker. He shuddered; Jamison hated lawyers, having seen enough of their kind during his divorce. Blood-sucking monsters the lot of them, in his opinion, but he had never been afraid of them, not even when the wretches helped his ex-wife take half of everything he’d owned.

But he was afraid of this one.

It was the eyes. He had seen eyes like that once before, years ago. Back when he had spent much of his days drunk. Once, while Kendrick cleaned their catch, Jamison had gone too far and drunk too much. His legs had betrayed him, and he had tumbled over the side. He remembered tasting blood. A tangy mix of iron and salt that burned his lungs when he tried to inhale. His eyes had stung. He had floundered in the icy water. He, a man who had learned to swim before he could walk, was drowning.

Then the moment of panic was gone, and instinct had set in. Jamison’s powerful legs had propelled him upwards, his arms outstretched toward the boat. He had nearly reached it before the shadow was beneath him. It came at him like a torpedo, almost too fast for his gin-addled brain to comprehend. A massive, prehistoric monster armed with muscled jaws and sandpaper skin. The soulless black pits of its eyes rolled back in its head, and its gaping maw expanded to reveal rows upon row of serrated teeth.

In the split second before the attack, Jamison had stared into the darkness of oblivion—then he had been shaken like a terrier on a rat. The shark had separated the flesh from his leg and sentenced him to a month in a mainland hospital whose bill he was still struggling to pay off. The very existence of such a creature disproved the notion that humans sat at the top of the food chain.

Safely back in the present, Jamison shuddered and remembered to breathe. He rubbed at his forearms, warm beneath his thick woolen sweater. He had been lucky. If he had drunk a little more gin, perhaps he wouldn’t have had the presence of mind to sink his knife deep into the shark’s eye socket. Now only scars and nightmares remained, and he hadn’t touched the bottle since. He liked to say that his rock bottom was on the ocean floor.

Jamison recognized something of that great white shark in Spencer. The man’s flat, grey eyes made his skin crawl. He glowered at Spencer’s broad-shouldered back, but Spencer didn’t seem to notice or care. His attention lay on the swirling mists beyond the ferry’s bow. Typical yuppie mainlander. Pretentious bastard, Jamison thought.

“They’re up to something,” he said aloud, glancing toward the cabin where the other one had sequestered himself.

Kendrick only snorted. “They’re mainlanders. They’ll spend a few weeks on the Isle, get bored, and then go back to whatever hell hole they came from. You know the type. We get a few every other year or so.”

Jamison did know the type. Unlike Nantucket, or Martha’s Vineyard, Eldrick Isle never attracted the summer crowd. There was nothing to offer. The once booming fishing industry had been usurped by commercial trawlers decades ago, forcing the neighboring isles to turn to seaweed farming instead. Eldrick, however, chose to bow its head and soldier on, clinging to the memory of its glory days. Billboards advertised a hotel that had long since shuttered its doors. The lone diner had a Visitor’s Special that no one ever ordered. The pier greeting the newcomers reeked of dead fish, the ever-present stench emanating from the dozen or so rusted fishing boats docked in the harbor.

Then there was the island itself: Eldrick’s shores were steep, rocky cliffs, with edges sharp and jagged like broken teeth. The surf stirred up debris and rotting vegetation, littering the island’s few beaches with trash from the abandoned canning factory on the island’s east side. Even the hottest days of summer were damp and chilly. Mist obscured the frigid waters. It crept onto the island, soaking through the sturdiest of coats. The few vacationers that showed up in August inevitably took one look at the dying town and turned around to book their return ticket.

Rain splattered against Jamison’s hood, echoing in his ears. Kendrick tried his pipe again to no avail. The storm lulled enough that the sound of retching was audible from within the depths of the cabin. Rasping coughs followed by the wet splatter of vomit. The downpour returned with a roar. It slipped past Jamison’s hood, soaking his neck. His shiver had nothing to do with the cold.

Kendrick abandoned his pipe and frowned, his rheumy eyes searching Jamison’s face. Jamison cleared his throat, striving to be heard over the rain and yet not loud enough for Spencer to hear. “Something’s wrong,” he shouted into Kendrick’s ear. “We were barely on the water before the kid got sick—”

“Billy, you been drinking again?” Kendrick asked, clasping Jamison’s shoulder with gnarled fingers. “When’d you get so goddamned superstitious?”

“No, I haven’t been fucking drinking! I’m only saying that this whole thing feels wrong; if one of my brothers were puking like that, I’d at least go check on him. I think the kid’s got something bad—what if it’s contagious?”

“What, like ee-bolah?” Kendrick asked, with a sharp look toward the ferry’s cabin. “Naw, it couldn’t be…”

“You checked on him?”

“No.”

“Well, someone ought to,” Jamison said.

“You do it,” Kendrick said dubiously. “Last time, I slipped in it and damn near broke my back.”

“Go check it out. If he’s only seasick then I’ll clean it up myself, but I’m telling you, something’s very wrong with that kid.”

“Christ, Billy! Nag anymore and you’re gonna sound like my wife.” Kendrick gave him a shove and then marched across the deck toward the cabin. Jamison caught movement in the corner of his eye and found Spencer watching them, his back against the railing. Their eyes met, and all of a sudden Jamison couldn’t hear the storm. There was nothing but the blood pounding in his ears. One corner of Spencer’s thin mouth twitched upward into a razor’s edge of a smirk. Jamison’s skin crawled. He wrenched his eyes away.

“Jim, wait!” Jamison shouted over the rain, but Kendrick had already knocked on the cabin door. The old sailor reached for the handle, his calloused fingers closing in on the doorknob. Jamison sucked in his breath.

Kendrick half turned around, his shoulders squared and his lips pursed, eyes narrowed beneath his bushy white brows. His hand was still on the cabin door. “Jesus Christ, Billy, what now?” he demanded. “What in the hell’s wrong with you, you crazy son of a bitch? You’re shaking like a virgin on—” He paused and glanced down. Jamison didn’t know why until Kendrick tried to take a step back. His boot remained glued to the floor.

Kendrick shoved at the door and yanked at his shoe. He stumbled as it came loose, trailing a viscous black gel behind it. More of the substance pooled out from underneath the cabin door. Lightning flashed, and a rainbow sheen coated the surface of the muck. The door creaked open.

Before Jamison shouted in warning, something darted out from the gloom. Thick and ropy, like a bundle of rotten vines, it hit Kendrick’s wrist with a wet slap, latching onto his bare skin. Kendrick sputtered, his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open in a perfect caricature of surprise—then another tentacled limb emerged and shoved itself down his gullet. Like a fish on a hook, he was yanked into the cabin.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Ridley Harker is an up-and-coming horror author who delights in all things gay and spooky. While past careers have included reptile keeping at a zoo and EMT work at a casino, writing is his true passion. His favorite books are those with enemies to lovers, small town settings, and great villains. He currently lives in the Middle of Nowhere with his two dogs, a grumpy old snake, and a host of pet tarantulas.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Patreon

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Book Blast + Giveaway: Self-Care Workbook for Non-Binary Teens by Michelle Mann


 

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Self-Care Workbook for Non-Binary Teens

Author and Publisher: Michelle Mann

Release Date:  April 1, 2022

Genre: LGBTQ non-fiction, self-help book

Themes: Non-Binary

Length: 89 pages

It is a standalone book.

Goodreads

Buy Links - Hardcover and Paperback

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Blurb 

Looking for skills to navigate sexual orientation and gender expression?

Tired of being defined by labels?


It’s no surprise the people on this journey of self-exploration need tender love, care, and a safe container to explore and express themselves.

The good news is – you can have that space to feel accepted, loved, and heard.

It’s only fair to release yourself from the restrictions of gender conformity and, instead, allow yourself to experiment with gender (or a lack thereof), as if you were an artist experimenting with a new medium.

“Self-Care Workbook for Non-Binary Teens” is an interactive workbook that has exactly what teens need to help them work through internalized negative messages, handle stress, build a community of support, and embrace their true self.

It’s time to discover more about who you are and who you might want to become now!

Inside these pages you will find:

  • Exactly what gender identity actually is;
  • Why understanding your gender identity is core to embracing your full being;
  • How to discover and begin living as your authentic self;
  • How to build unshakable confidence and resilience in a world filled with ignorance, inequality, and discrimination;
  • Practical advice with journaling prompts and space for reflection;
  • Mindfulness techniques for coming out, euphoria and dysphoria, building new friendships and navigating relationships with your friends and family;
  • And much more!


Whether you’ve been pondering big feelings and questions about your gender, or you’re just a little curious about it, the “Self Care Workbook for Non Binary Teens” will show you that there are endless ways to express yourself and that there’s no right or wrong way to identify.

You do NOT have to conform to a singular definition or narrative anymore!

You have the power to make changes and become your most authentic self – It’s your birthright!

If you’re ready to shed labels and identities that no longer serve you and your inner world and find the supportive community you're destined to have…

Then waste no more time, scroll up and grab your copy now!

Excerpt 

STORIES FROM THE CLASS

As you read through the stories below, do any of them resonate with you? Maybe it’s not the whole identity, but only parts? That’s ok - that helps you to define who you are and how you want to identify.

Clarence is a genderqueer young adult who loves knitting and reading mystery books. They use the terms “genderqueer” and “non-binary” interchangeably when describing themselves. They've also accepted that as time goes on, they may find another name to express their identity.

Thomas is transmasculine. He is an adventurous guy who likes cooking, hiking, and movies. He is comfortable using he/him pronouns, and also uses they/them. Thomas knows that he can use either pronoun based on their preference.

Brit is in their late 30s and identifies as ‘agender’. They identify as a person instead of a specific gender, or a spot on the gender binary. They have a love of fashion and excel at personal expression. 

Ellie identifies as ‘neutrois’ and describes themselves as being gender neutral. Ellie loves taking walks in the park with their dog and is especially fond of the spring when they can see flowers bloom everywhere. Ellie knows other neutrois individuals who describe themselves as genderless.

Clair is an ‘autigender' individual who thrives in their neurodiversity and linking it to their identity experience. In conversations with their friends and family, Clair sometimes refers to themselves as “neurogender” or “xenogender”. Clair loves teaching others about neurodiversity, listening to all kinds of music and reading comic books in their free time.

Clay is an ‘androgyne’ person who experiences both a masculine and feminine identity, sometimes simultaneously. Clay loves experimenting with the balance between their identities and the creativity that results from it. They are great at encouraging others to express themselves without fear or restraint.

Danny is an intersex individual who also identifies as genderfluid. They enjoy explaining the intersection of their biological sex and identity to their friends. In their free time, Danny enjoys classic video games, especially the older Mario games.

Ash is a ‘bigender’ person who has both a male and female identity. They’re an artist who loves using canvases to express their emotions and dreams. They choose to express each one as they please and enjoy combining both for unique expression.

About the Author 

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door…”

Michelle Mann is a native of New York City and holds a degree in psychology. She is a busy but happy mother of 4 and an author of self-help and parenting books that are designed to help stressed-out parents to make the most of their child’s formative years.

Her book, Parenting Pre-schoolers 2 to 5 Years Old, provides 20 tips for parents that are aimed at helping them deal with their child’s emotions and build effective lines of communication in what can often be the most challenging of times for parents, whether they are first-timers or have already experienced it and want to avoid making the same mistakes.

She hopes that the future will provide her with enough spare time to write even more self-help and parenting books, so that she can reach even more parents who are struggling with busy careers and family lives, enabling them to find the solutions that will help them to thrive.

Author Links

Facebook  |  Instagram

Giveaway 

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your choice of ebook from author's backlist

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Crazy Little Thing Cold Love by Colette Davison


 

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Crazy Little Thing Cold Love

Author and Publisher: Colette Davison

Cover Artist: Colette Davison

Photographer: Eric McKinney

Model: Patrick H

Release Date: June 24, 2022

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Tropes: Daddy kink, age gap (12 years), hurt/comfort, ex-military 

Themes: Self-care

Heat Rating:  4 flames 

Length: 69 000 words

It is a standalone story, but Jude appeared in His Boy to Cherish as a side character

The book does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Universal link  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

Can two very different men turn an intense holiday romance into lasting love?

Blurb

Jude

I shoot my mouth off and hide behind my smile as I try—and fail—to fill the void inside. Nothing has felt right since I was medically discharged from the army. Can there be more to life than a dead-end job and meaningless hook-ups?

Kasper

I didn’t expect to win a Cuffd Destinations holiday, let alone meet a sexy guy who’s fun to be around. Jude doesn’t think he’s a Daddy, but I’m going to prove him wrong. Who knows what we might discover along the way?

Crazy Little Thing Cold Love is part of the Destination Daddies Season Two multi-author series. It features an emotionally scarred army veteran, a bubbly boy who sees the world in a unique way, summer snow, lots of steam, and a happy ending. Each book can be read as a standalone, but there are so many destinations and Daddies to discover, why not grab them all?

Trigger warning for mentions of PTSD, flashbacks, and nightmares.

Excerpt 

I found a spare stool at the bar and ordered a drink. It took me about thirty seconds to notice I was sitting next to a muscly guy with blond hair and bright blue eyes. He had his back to the wall while nursing a tumbler of scotch on the rocks as he surveyed the room. He was Hollywood’s definition of gorgeous. Not that it would matter if he didn’t have a personality to match his roguish good looks and body builder-scale muscles. I hadn’t talked to him yet, which meant another twizzle stick was about to be mine.

“Hi,” I said, gesturing towards his lanyard. “I’m mint leaves, and you are…?”

“Light rum.”

Flashes of hot pink ignited at the edges of my vision, dominating the other colours already dancing there. The colour of his voice was beautiful, which was a good start.

“Really? That means that together, we’re a mojito.”

The man laughed. “I think we’re missing a few ingredients.” Vibrant pink swirled and undulated with the rhythm of his words.

“Maybe a mojito in potential?”

He laughed louder while I motioned to the barman.

“Light rum and mint leaves,” I told him.

He nodded, checked off our combination on a list, and gave us a twizzle stick. Twenty-four. I had more than hot-pink guy.

“How come you’re not mixing?” I asked.

“I’m talking to you, aren’t I?”

It was my turn to laugh. “Now you are, but you were alone when I came over.”

“I needed a breather.”

“Yeah, me too.” I turned around to face away from the bar and leant against it. I’m Kasper, by the way.” I held my hand out.

“Jude.”

About the Author

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |   Facebook Page   |  Facebook Group: Colette’s Cosy Corner

BookBub   |   Twitter  |   Goodreads  |  Instagram: @colettedavison

Mailing List  |   Newsletter Sign-Up


Giveaway 

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a $10 Amazon Gift Card

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Save the World anthology by Various Authors


 

Other Worlds Ink shares the latest anthology, Save the World from various authors! Read more about the hopepunk tales and don't miss the giveaway for a chance to win a choice of $25 Starbucks GC or a $25 donation to the Sierra Club in the winner’s name!

Save the World cover

Other Worlds Ink has a new book out in the hopepunk cli-fi Writers Save the World anthology series: Save the World. And there's a giveaway.

Climate change is no longer a vague future threat. Forests are burning, currents are shifting, and massive storms dump staggering amounts of water in less than 24 hours. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to save the world from climate change. From the myriad of stories we received, we chose the twenty most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change via solar mirrors, carbon capture, genetic manipulation, and acts of change both large and small.

The future’s not going to fix itself.

About the Series:

“Writers Save the World” is an annual hopepunk anthology from Other Worlds Ink, featuring hopeful stories by sci-fi writers about ways to solve the world’s problems.

Universal Buy Link | Liminal Fiction | Goodreads


Giveaway

Other Worlds Ink is giving one lucky winner their choice of $25 Starbucks GC or a $25 donation to the Sierra Club in the winner’s name:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47244/?


Excerpt

Save the World Meme

No one ate for a full day. At night, they sat around their fires and counted the stars, their boats bobbing in the quiet, dark waters. No electricity was permitted. The drones were shelved. The holo-projectors unplugged. Even the radios were shut off. The next morning, they washed in the invigorating cold of the ocean, and beat their bodies with branches.

This was what Edgard instructed. And what Edgard instructed, everyone obeyed.

The waters seemed bright that morning, despite the depths below. Small dots of sea foam dotted the surface, reflecting the eager light of the new day. The weather was calm, and the ocean peaceful. It was an auspicious morning.

Jason leaned against the rails, elbowing between his crew mates as everyone shuffled for the best view. There was laughter and chatter, some singing, a few rude jokes. The ocean was alive that morning, all the ships of the tribe lining up, energy buzzing across the wide decks.

Then the drumming started, and silence fell. People leaned forward, craning necks.

The canoe emerged from between boats, paddled by a small crew, its painted bow slicing through the water. At the front was Edgard, standing tall. Jason felt someone nudge him, and as he looked over at Amelia, she nodded at the cloak draped over Edgard’s shoulders. The Thunderbird.

The canoe stopped, and Edgard placed a hand in the water. As he rose, he started to sing, lighting a bundle of dried cedar, and waving the smoke over his harpoon. He removed the muscle-shell hooks and wrapped them in cloth, tied rocks around the yew shaft, and placed it in the water. As it sank, his song ended. Edgard turned to face the ships, opened his arms wide, and smiled.

The crews erupted.

It was done.

The harvesting was complete.

—From "Thunder on the Ocean," by Christopher R. Muscato


Author Bio

Gustavo Bondoni is novelist and short story writer with over three hundred stories published in fifteen countries, in seven languages. He is a member of Codex and an Active Member of SFWA. His latest novel is Lost Island Rampage (2021). He has also published three other monster books: Ice Station: Death (2019), Jungle Lab Terror (2020) and Test Site Horror (2020), three science fiction novels: Incursion (2017), Outside (2017) and Siege (2016) and an ebook novella entitled Branch. His short fiction is collected in Pale Reflection (2020), Off the Beaten Path (2019) Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (2010) and Virtuoso and Other Stories (2011).

J. Scott Coatsworth lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was 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 all the people like him were. He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends. A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and the head of its self-publishers committee.

Rachel Hope Crossman is an ex-fry cook, ex-substitute teacher and retired Montessori teacher. Her childhood year in Athens, Greece left indelible imprints of olive groves, pomegranates and the sparkling, turquoise blue of the Mediterranean upon her mind. She is the author of SAVING CINDERELLA: FAIRY TALES & CHILDREN IN THE 21ST CENTURY, (2014) The Apocryhile Press, which examines the world-wide Cinderella story as an archetype and explains the symbolism of rings, knives, birds, pumpkins and more. Her personal heroes are Harold (and his purple crayon), Peggy Hill and Nancy Pelosi.

Jana Denardo is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.

Derek Des Anges is an emerging cross-genre author working in London, who consistently fails to stick to a single format or genre but does at least really consistently write about the queer experience (or some of them, anyway). He’s into fungi, industrial and experimental music, and trying to avoid the climate apocalypse actually flooding his flat too many times, because he has far too many books to consider moving out.

CJ Erick’s stories have appeared in anthologies from WMG Publishing, WordFire Press, and others. He won the FenCon short story competition in 2015. He writes in multiple genres, publishes novels in a space fantasy series, and dabbles in poetry. He’s an MFA student in creative writing at Lindenwood University, and an editorial assistant for the Lindenwood Review. He lives in Dallas area with his wife and their rescue superhero dog Saber-Girl, calls his sourdough bread starter “Ursula” (K. Le Guin), and cooks crazy-good Cajun food for a Midwest Yankee.

J.G. Follansbee’s short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including Others Worlds Ink’s Fix the World. Other publications include Bards and Sages Quarterly, Children, Churches and Daddies, the collection Still Life 2018, and the speculative fiction anthologies Satirica, After the Orange, Spring Into SciFi 2019, Rabbit Hole II, and Sunshine Superhighway. He is the author of the series Tales From A Warming Planet and the trilogy The Future History of the Grail. He has won several awards in the Writers of the Future contest, and he was a finalist in the inaugural Aftermath short story contest. He also has numerous non-fiction book credits. He lives in Seattle.

Geoffrey Hart: Startled by an aggressive dictionary late in her pregnancy, Geoff’s mother was delivered of a child with a precocious antipathy towards users of words. Over time, he transformed this antipathy into a more functional, if equally passive-aggressive, editorial career. After nearly 35 years, the flame burns brightly as ever, leading to an errant, semi-evangelical career ranting against the evils of words from pulpits at any editing or technical writing conference that will have him, seeking new recruits for his cause. In his spare time, he roams the globe, entertaining locals with creative and unrestrained interpretations of their linguistic conventions. He also commits occasional fictions, and has sold 46 stories.

M. J. Holt lives with her husband on their 60-acre family farm with many animals on a peninsula in Puget Sound. She is horrified that the entire world isn’t working to decrease pollution of all kinds. When she was a teenager, she and her mother sat under an ancient crabapple tree and read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Her mother told her that future generations would pay the price for the sins of past generations. That price has increased and now several generations later, some not yet born, will pay the price. Lightning struck that crab tree decades ago. It grew on land her great grandfather bought in 1892. Her great grandmother farmed the land and had the current house, started in 1900, built. The farm passed to her grandfather, and then to her mother. She lives in that house amid the surviving bits of her ancestors’ lives. This generational continuity informs her fiction. Her crime thriller novels, The Devil’s Safe (2021) and its sequel Making Angels (2022) can be found on Amazon. Recent short stories have appeared in the anthologies Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day: An Anthology of Hope, Low Down Dirty Vote Volume II, Alternate Theologies, and her poetry may be found in the poetry anthologies 300K, Timeless Love, and other periodicals. She earned separate undergraduate degrees in History and English Literature, and a Masters in English Literature. She is a member of SFWA, MWA, and other writing organizations.

Jennifer Irani lives and works in southern California. Her story, “Graft,” was inspired by the recent fires in California, Greta Thunberg, and generation Z. A version of this story first appeared in Writing in Place: Stories from a Pandemic. Her work has been published in the anthology Dove Tales Empathy in Art: Embracing the Other. She has published essays in Orange Coast magazine. Her essay, Regeneration, received honorable mention in the Writers Challenge 2021 on Medium.com. Her poem, “Cool Colors Warm the Soul,” was selected for the Connecting Through Color, Art and Poetry exhibit. She is a member of Barbara Demarco’s Literary Posse.

Andrew Rucker Jones was born and raised in Falls Church, Virginia. No muse heralded his birth, and he has not been writing novels since he was in diapers. He received his Bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University in mathematics with minors in computer programming and German. He has always loved reading, so when the time came to choose a new career after twenty years in IT (programmer, system administrator, manager), he decided writing looked like fun. If only it paid. He now lives in Mannheim, Germany, with his Georgian wife, who actually earns money, and their three children, the eldest of whom also earns more than he.

Micháel McCormick likes to write stories in his Batman pajamas. He and his wife also enjoy travel, hiking, Tai Chi, and perplexing cats. They split their time between Saint Paul, Minnesota and Lake Superior. Mike’s work has appeared in Arcanist, Daily SF, DreamForge, Frozen Wavelets, Grievous Angel, Metastellar, Talking Stick, and elsewhere.

Christopher R. Muscato is an adjunct history instructor and writer from Colorado, as well as the former writer-in-residence for the High Plains Library District. He has published over a dozen short stories and is thrilled to be a part of this project.

Masimba Musodza was born in Zimbabwe, and has lived most of his adult life in the United Kingdom. His short stories, mostly in the speculative fiction genre, have appeared in periodicals and anthologies around the world. He has written two novels and a novella in his first language, ChiShona. His collection of science-fiction stories, The Junkyard Rastaman & Other Stories, was published in 2020. Masimba also writes for stage and screen.

M.D. Neu: Growing up in an accepting family. internationally award-winning author M.D. Neu always wondered why there were never stories reflecting our diverse queer society. Surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, he decided to change that and began writing, wanting to tell epic stories that reflect our varied world. When not writing, M.D. Neu works for a non-profit in Silicon Valley, and travels with his husband of twenty plus years.

Jennifer R. Povey: Born in Nottingham, England, Jennifer R. Povey now lives in Northern Virginia, where she writes everything from heroic fantasy to stories for Analog. She has written a number of novels across multiple sub genres. Additionally, she is a writer, editor, and designer of tabletop RPG supplements for a number of companies. Her interests include horseback riding, Doctor Who and attempting to out-weird her various friends and professional colleagues.

NRM Roshak is an award-winning Canadian author and translator. Their stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Galaxies SF, Daily Science Fiction, and Future Science Fiction Digest, and has been translated into several languages. They live in Ontario, Canada, with a small family and a loud cat.

Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her stories have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, and many other publications throughout the world. She hopes to save the world through science fiction and homegrown heritage tomatoes.

Lisa Short is a Texas-born, Kansas-bred writer of fantasy, science fiction and horror. She has an honorable discharge from the United States Army, a degree in chemical engineering, and twenty years’ experience as a professional engineer. Lisa currently lives in Maryland with her husband, two youngest children, father-in-law and cats. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a Futurescapes 2021 alumnus.

Heather Marie Spitzberg is an environmental author, scientist, and lawyer who lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley with her family. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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