#Review: The Royal Curse (Twilight Mages Book 1) by @eliotgraysonauthor #LGBTQ #RecentRelease #Romance #Fantasy #Magic

Moonbeams over Atlanta welcomes Eliot Grayson to the blog.  Welcome to the first post on the new site. 🙂 Eliot is a new author to me but was intrigued by the burb she sent to me in Instagram direct message and wanted to read it.

Note: A reader copy was provided for an honest review.  The book released on Amazon December 7th, 2023.

The Blurb:

Dawn mage. Twilight mage. Cursed, useless, damaged, dangerous

His birth magic leaves Prince Nikola with nothing but bad choices: live as another man’s possession, subject to his whims and his desires, or remain dependent on a potion that stunts his powers and prevents him from knowing love.

Andreas vows to protect the prince with his life—whether Nikola wants him to or not. After all, the queen pays his soldier’s wage. Nikola’s nothing but a job to do.

But when they find themselves stranded, with Nikola’s potion running out, Andreas has to…improvise. Because what Prince Nikola needs to survive is the opposite of a lowly guard’s respectful protection.

It should’ve been only one night. Just until the potion’s refilled. But now that Nikola’s had Andreas’s touch, he craves Andreas again and again. He shouldn’t. But he—and his magic—can’t live without it…

The Royal Curse is a high-heat MM fantasy romance with a stubborn prince, an even more stubborn soldier, and cursed magic that can’t be denied. There is an on-page attempted sexual assault that is not between the main characters. HEA guaranteed.

The Review:

5 Stars

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I read this a few months ago, in one sitting no less; but, work, holidays, and moving my blog to be self hosting delayed this review. I realized as I was writing this post that it’s been a few years since my last review on my blog. I had said in an earlier post I wanted to review more this year. Well, now I have posted the first review of the year. 🙂 Hopefully, the first of many.

It is a start of a new series about Twilight mages and I have to say that Eliot knocked it out of the park with this first installment. We have Prince Nikola who suppresses his magic with a potion that needs to be carefully made, a trip that has some action-packed scenes highlighting that Nikola is not just a pretty, ryal face, and Andreas, who started out as a bodyguard but the seeds of romance were in place long before these events. The writing is a cross between Victorian and medieval English in wording and cadence, and just a delight to read. It is definitely high-heat and wonderfully written with the requisite happily-ever-after ending.

It’s a fun story with some darker elements, a betrayal, and the romance gives you all the feels. In it, you can see the hints of who will be one of the main characters in a later book. Whether it’s the next book, or not, remains to be seen. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can’t wait for the next installment.

With this, I give The Royal Curse 5 stars.

Eloreen Moon

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon

About the Author:

Eliot’s a lifelong Southern California girl, right down to the flip-flops and backyard garden. When she’s not writing her next book, you can find her reading, drinking tea, or (more likely) catering to the demands of her kids and ancient, cranky cat.

Steamy books with delicious tension, heart-wrenching pining, and a hefty dose of action and adventure have always been her jam as a reader. Guess what she writes?

You can catch up with her on Facebook in her reader group, Eliot Grayson’s Escape from Reality, or sign up for her newsletter at eliotgrayson.com.

Website | Goodreads Author Page | Amazon Author Page | Instagram | Facebook Group ~ Escape from Reality | BookBub | Linktree

#NewRelease Multi-Author Rise QSF’s Annual #FlashFiction #Contest #Anthology Edited by J. Scott Coatsworth

Rise

Queer Sci Fi has a new flash fiction anthology out: Rise, and my story is a part of it. And there’s a giveaway too.

RISE (Noun, Verb)

Eight definitions to inspire writers around the world, and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell:

  1. An upward slope or movement
  2. A beginning or origin
  3. An increase in amount or number
  4. An angry reaction
  5. To take up arms
  6. To return from death
  7. To become heartened or elated
  8. To exert oneself to meet a challenge

Rise features 300-word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum, from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.

About the Series

Every year, Queer Sci Fi runs a one-word theme contest for 300 word flash fiction stories, and then we choose 120 of the best for our annual anthology.

Publisher | Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Google Play | Kobo | Scribd | Smashwords | Thalia | Vivlio | Goodreads | Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Queer Sci Fi is giving away a $25 Bookshop.org gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47301/


Excerpts

Rise Meme

It’s a simple recipe.

Passed down in whispers and hands tracing hands through flour and faith. Never written down, paper being too precious for such a small spell, some might say. Like something must be loud to have worth.

A common myth, one that serves her quiet magic well.

She sits pretty in commonhalls and houses, empty eye-sockets and a cloak of harmless charm enough for most to dismiss her. Certainly, her weaving or kneading is all her pretty head can handle.

She listens, and her hands move. Each stitch another secret, gossip kneaded into every loaf.

—From Simple Recipes for Small Magics – Ziggy Schutz

It wasn’t the principles that Matt Harden objected to. The principles were fine: Limited planetary resources. Circle of life. The wrongness of playing God.

But, he thought as he spread the herbs on the basement floor in the prescribed way, the principles were bullshit when you were faced with reality. When the only man who’d ever held your heart was stolen from you by a moment’s distraction behind the wheel. When you never had the chance to even say goodbye. When your body in bed was as cold and alone as a corpse in a coffin.

When the night mist was clammy on your neck and the grave-dirt heavy on your shovel.

—From Principle and Reality – Kim Fielding

“He’s here,” Matt said, slamming the door behind him. “You ready?”

“Think so,” Rory said. He’d finished the salt circle, and quickly moved on to placing the candle in the center.

“Will this work?”

“It’s this or nothing.” Once Tiff told them she’d survived a run in with the killer known as The Hook, Rory knew they were as good as dead. Supposedly this bastard had been killed before, but he never seemed to stop. Much about The Hook seemed unreal, but Rory thought it was the only weapon they had – the unbelievable. Besides, they were gay; those characters always died first.

From Best Served Cold – Andrea Speed

“You do realize,” the nurse said gravely, “that without your parent permission form, this procedure can only be temporary.”

“I do,” Sharon said nervously. Sharon. That was a good name, right? Sounded like Shawn, but wasn’t. Was a girl’s name. A woman’s name. She liked Sharon.

“And that given your parent’s lack of support for this, there will be a counselor assigned to your home to ensure your safety?” The nurse continued, checking the talking points on her tablet with precision.

“I won’t need it,” Sharon said nervously. “They think it’s a phase, but they’re not, you know, hostile.”

From A New Day – Amy Lane


Author Bio

This year, 554 authors entered the Rise contest. 120 of them were chosen, and their stories are included in this anthology:

  • Jordan Abronson
  • Aisling Alvarez
  • CJ Aralore
  • Ellery Arden
  • Anusha Asim
  • K. Aten
  • Drew Baker
  • Jeff Baker
  • Evelyn Benvie
  • Eytan Bernstein
  • L. R. Braden
  • Sorren Briarwood
  • Kayleen Burdine
  • Siri Caldwell
  • Sonja Seren Calhoun
  • Jennifer Caracappa
  • T. D. Carlson
  • Caro
  • Minerva Cerridwen
  • Amanda Cherry
  • Dawn Spina Couper
  • Monique Cuillerier
  • Lynden Daley
  • Claire Davon
  • Ef Deal
  • Francine DeCarey
  • Nicole Dennis
  • Sarah Doebereiner
  • Kellie Doherty
  • Allan Dyen-Shapiro
  • Markus McCann Edgette
  • Kim Fielding
  • Tom Folske
  • Athena Foster
  • Ani Fox
  • Beáta Fülöp
  • Jendia Gammon
  • Storm Grant
  • Chad Grayson
  • Gabbi Grey
  • Kaje Harper
  • Narrelle M. Harris
  • Kelly Haworth
  • Chisto Healy
  • Megan Hippler
  • Joanna Michal Hoyt
  • Grace Hudson
  • Meghan Hyland
  • Jeff Jacobson
  • Erin Jamieson
  • W. Dale Jordan
  • Adrik Kemp
  • Olivia Kemper
  • Jamie Lackey
  • Aidee Ladnier
  • Amy Lane
  • Tris Lawrence
  • Brenda Lee
  • Katrina Lemaire
  • Gordon Linzner
  • Jayne Lockwood
  • Clare London
  • Nathan Alling Long
  • Patricia Loofbourrow
  • J.C. Lovero
  • Ilyas M.
  • Stacey Mahuna
  • Paula McGrath
  • Atlin Merrick
  • Amanda Meuwissen
  • Eloreen Moon
  • Jaime Munn
  • RJ Mustafa
  • Oliver Nash
  • Annika Neukirch
  • Jess Nevins
  • Rory Ni Coileain
  • K.L. Noone
  • Milo Owen
  • Chris Panatier
  • J Piper
  • Nia Quinn
  • Mere Rain
  • D.M. Rasch
  • Kazy Reed
  • LS Reinholt
  • Alexei Madeleine Reyner
  • Emerian Rich
  • Rie Sheridan Rose
  • Anna Rueden
  • Curtis Rueden
  • Carol Ryles
  • Jamie Sands
  • Rodello Santos
  • Sumiko Saulson
  • Aradhya Saxena
  • Ziggy Schutz
  • C.J. Scott
  • Alex Silver
  • Roxanne Skelly
  • sparks
  • Andrea Speed
  • Chloe Spencer
  • Robin Springer
  • Andrea Stanet
  • Nathaniel Taff
  • O.E. Tearmann
  • Tori Thompson
  • George Underwood
  • Avery Vanderlyle
  • Joz Varlo
  • Dawn Vogel
  • Rhian Waller
  • Dean Wells
  • Devon Widmer
  • B Wilkins
  • Holli Rebecca Williams
  • Paul Wilson
  • X. Ho Yen
  • Jamie Zaccaria

Queer Sci Fi Website: https://www.queerscifi.com

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

Mastodon: https://mastodon.otherworldsink.com/@queerscifi

Other Worlds Ink logo

An Excerpt from my story:

A steady heartbeat woke me. Panicked, I saw myself in a cryo-healing tube.

“Shhhh, Mai Mai, you’re ok,” a soothing voice echoed inside the chamber. “Don’t panic. The surgery was successful and you are recovering.”

“I thought that I was only going in for the gender change?” I croaked, a little confused as I remembered.

From Chrysalis – Eloreen Moon
"My flash fiction story is in this new anthology!" written in white text to the left of a child stand on a cliff holding rope leading to a bow tie attached the full moon at the top. Rise is lettered sideways on the right side with R as dark red, I as bright orange, S as a lighter orange and E as yellow. At the bottom in a black banner with white lettering is "Queer Sci Fi's Tenth Annual Flash Fiction Contest in all caps. In the background is a sunset at the bottom with a night sky and stars around the moon.

#Blitz The London Chance by Lane Hayes #Contemporary #LGBTQ #Gay #Romance #Rafflecopter

Title: The London Chance

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: July 25, 2023

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 27,500

Genre: Romance, Romantic Comedy, Bisexual Romance, Gay Romance, Humor, Contemporary Romance

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Two strangers, an online dating app, and a chance at forever… Chance After months of online correspondence with a sexy businessman, we’re finally meeting in person—in London, no less! Okay. It’s a casual meet-up. Nothing to get excited about. I fully understand that online connections don’t always translate in person. Roman could be pompous or worse…boring. Wish me luck! Roman Dinner with my online “friend” doesn’t go well. I shouldn’t be disappointed. That’s life. But just as I’m ready to write our peculiar acquaintanceship off, Chance turns up unexpectedly at a karaoke bar. Don’t ask what I’m doing there. I have no idea. However, I don’t mind at all. It feels like the universe is giving us a cosmic redo. Sure, Chance lives in California and my home is in the UK now, but this feels like the real thing. Something worth taking a chance on. A forever chance. The London Chance is an MM, bisexual romance featuring an American, a Canadian, a dating app, and an unexpected HEA.

Excerpt

“What time is it?” I grumbled, rubbing my stubbled jaw. “Half one,” a deep, rumbly voice replied. I spun on my heels with my mouth wide open, unsure where to begin. An apology, a thank-you, maybe even a fuck-you.…Words weren’t my friend without caffeine and if it was really one thirty in the afternoon, I was going to have a difficult time navigating this one. If I was going to unravel in a foreign country, was an audience necessary? And better question…did it have to be this man? Roman stepped into the room, instantly taking over the space. The combination of his height, broad shoulders, and broody presence made him seem intimidating as fuck even in a navy V-neck sweater, casual jeans, and bare feet. His hair flopped roguishly over his right eye, which should have softened his sharp features, but…it didn’t. He was devilishly handsome and sexy and— I think I puked on his shoes last night. Oh, please let this be a bad dream. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping for a scene change and a new cast when I opened them again. Nope. I was still in Roman’s guest room, standing three feet from the man himself, wearing his T-shirt and— “Are these your boxers?” I asked, plucking at the silky red fabric. One corner of his mouth twisted in wry amusement. “They were a gift. You can have them. How are you feeling?” I wrinkled my nose. “I’ve been better. I’m sorry about—” “Don’t worry about it.” He waved dismissively and moved to the doorway. “Would you like coffee or tea?” “Coffee, please.” He smiled kindly. “You got it. I’ll make toast and bacon too.” “Thank you. Coffee is fine, but—” I paused to look around the immaculate room. “I need my clothes.” “Trust me. You don’t want your clothes.” “Huh?” “I threw your socks and underwear in the wash, but your suit and shirt needed to be dry-cleaned. They’ll be ready tomorrow. I’ll grab a pair of sweatpants and socks for you. You’re welcome to shower. The toothbrush on the counter is the one you used last night. I’ll leave clothes on the banister for you. Meet me downstairs when you’re ready.” Roman was gone before I could thank him or protest. I decided I wasn’t ready to deal with the fuzzier parts of last night that had resulted in my clothing immediately needing to be dry-cleaned. I headed for the bathroom instead. The deliciously hot shower under a wide spray felt so amazing, I never wanted to get out. And the thick towel on the warming rack was a slice of nirvana. I dried myself, then wrapped the towel around my waist and wiped steam off the mirror. I scanned the marble-and-glass haven as I brushed my teeth, sighing at the very unwelcome memory of kneeling on the tiled floor in front of the porcelain god. How was I going to face this man? I’d been a fucking mess last night. Running into traffic, dancing in the rain…and oh…shit. I’d called him daddy. More than once. Heat bloomed across my cheeks as I rinsed and patted my mouth dry, but I couldn’t exactly hide in here. I slipped the boxers and tee on and found a pair of gray sweats and black socks perched on the banister post where Roman said they’d be. I finished dressing, finger-combed my short hair, and took one last cleansing breath before following the scent of coffee downstairs.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. She loves wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband and her fabulous pup, George.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | BookBub

Giveaway

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#Blitz Tangled Warriors (Weavers Circle 04) by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott #NewRelease #LGBTQ #Menage #Romance #MM #Giveaway #Paranormal #multiplepartners

Title: Tangled Warriors

Series: Weavers Circle #4

Author: Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott

Publisher: Drake & Elliott Publishing LLC

Release Date: September 24, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 85k

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Thriller/Suspense

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Lucien Cummings

The pestilents are trying to kill him.

He’s pretty sure the Water Weaver wants to kill him as well.

But after two months of fighting an attraction for a man who couldn’t possibly be his mate, Lucien cracks when he’s pulled into an impulsive threesome with Calder and a sexy man they picked up in a bar.

That night was earth shattering.

And now he needs to figure out how to keep both men safe and his.

Calder Saito

Calder doesn’t want to fight his attraction for the Fire Weaver any longer, but they can’t really be soul mates, right?

And what about Gio? The sexy man gives him such a feeling of completeness and peace.

Could one man really have two soul mates?

Gio Russo

Can’t he just have them both?

Tangled Warriors is the fourth book in the Weavers Circle series. This MMM paranormal romance includes fast-paced action, running through Savannah, secrets, shapeshifting, kidnapping, deadly Girl Scouts, sexy times, insecurity, three crazy old ladies, soul mates, and magic!

Excerpt

“Shots!” Gio suddenly proclaimed. “I think we could all use a round of shots. What do you say?” He looked up at Lucien and smiled. “Join me in a round of shots. Break the ice.”

“Nothing feels icy to me,” Lucien murmured, while the fingers on Calder’s waist tightened.

He suddenly felt bad. He was intruding like an annoying little brother. Yes, his intention had been to stop Lucien from hitting on this guy, but now that he was standing there, he felt how wrong it was. What Lucien did and who he slept with was none of his business. He was supposed to be working on getting rid of the bad blood between him and Lucien, not making matters worse.

“None for me,” Calder said softly. “I’ll grab the drinks and get out of your way.”

Gio surprised him by cupping the side of his face with a warm calloused hand. “Oh no, sweetness. We don’t want you going anywhere. You’ve got to stay.” Gio looked over Calder’s shoulder at Lucien. “We want him to stay, right?”

Calder tensed, waiting for the rejection, but Lucien shocked him even more by pulling him in tighter so that he could feel Lucien’s groin against the small of his back. Those long fingers slipped down from his waist to caress his hip bone, sending the most delicious tingles all over his body. “Stay. Have a shot with us,” Lucian pressed. His voice was warm and so very tempting. Calder couldn’t remember ever hearing Lucien talk to him like that. He wanted to live in that voice. Just curl up in it like a warm, handmade quilt.

Releasing him, Gio turned to the bartender as she delivered Lucien’s and Calder’s mix of drinks and ordered a round of shots. Calder didn’t hear what he’d ordered exactly because Gio had also slotted himself better against Calder, causing his brain to short out. He was now in the one place he’d never thought he’d be—a Gio-Lucien sammich. Even with all their clothes on, it was now his favorite kind of sandwich. He would happily eat it every day for the rest of his life.

Calder was too tongue-tied to manage words. He nodded. At least he thought he nodded. He must have done something, because Gio’s smile grew wider. A second hand landed on his hip right where Lucien’s

The shots arrived, and Gio slid one over to Lucien before physically placing one in Calder’s hand as if he knew that his brain wasn’t in control of his body any longer. He watched as Gio clicked his shot glass on Lucien’s and then Calder’s. Tipping his head back, he sent the amber liquid down his long, sexy throat. Calder did the same without a thought. The burn was enough to wake him out of his stupor.

Sucking in a harsh breath, he coughed several times while slamming his shot glass on the bar. Gio grabbed his hand again and shoved a drink into it. Without thinking, Calder sipped it, relieved that it was his gin and tonic. The addition of more alcohol to his system probably wasn’t the smartest, but at least it had gotten rid of his coughing.

When he could breathe, he took a deep drink and set the glass on the bar to find Gio smiling at him while Lucien’s hand continued to dig possessively into his hip.

You okay?” Lucien inquired. For once, the question didn’t sound spiteful or mean. There was genuine concern in his tone.

Calder managed a small nod and Gio laughed.

Of course he’s okay. What are you drinking, sweetness?” Before Calder could answer, Gio leaned in and licked his bottom lip, sucking it into his mouth for a second, then releasing it with a wet pop. “Mmm…gin and tonic. Not bad.”

Calder barely heard the words. It was just a rush of blood past his ears as it raced to his steadily hardening dick.

As Gio moved away, he reached past Calder and pulled Lucien close. “And what are you drinking?” Calder watched as Gio licked his way into Lucien’s slack, welcoming mouth. He didn’t know what turned him on more—actually kissing Gio or watching Gio kiss Lucien. It defied all logic, but it was clear that his libido had zero interest in logic. He only wanted to know all the wonderful things Gio could do with his mouth.

Gio released Lucien and licked his own lips slowly. His dark eyes had turned black as his pupils dilated with desire. “I can tell this is going to be a fun night already. I suggest we head to my place so we can get more comfortable and less likely to be arrested.”

We? Calder croaked out.

Review

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I love the Weaver’s Circle series and had just finished book three when I had received the notification for this blitz several weeks ago. It was perfect timing! I wasn’t sure if I could get it read in time for this post, but I managed. It’s the last day of the new release blitz tour and I just made it! This is book four of the series and I would recommend reading the first three books in order to enjoy this book to the fullest. Then again, I tend to read in series order anyway because I don’t want to miss anything.

Note that I will discuss things known from the first three books in this review. If you don’t want any potential spoilers, go read the rest of the series first before finishing this review. Then go read Tangled Warriors! 😀

I’m a big fan of polyamorous relationships and ménages with three men are no exception. Up until now, we’ve had a Weaver and their soul mate join up in the fight against the pestilents trying to take over Earth. Once the Circle completes with the six weavers: Earth, Animal, Soul, Fire, Water, and Air, they can permanently close the rift that allows the pestilents to the planet. The three grandmothers, goddesses in their own right, assist with the fight and give each Weaver their powers. We’ve met the Earth Warrior in the first book, the Animal Warrior in the second, and the Soul Warrior in the third. Now we see Fire and Water’s quest to find their mate together in this fourth installment.

I love that we have two Weavers who share their mate and each other. The story was very well done showing the angst that Lucien Cummings (Fire) and Calder Saito (Water) have from the moment they met roughly a month before we start the story. They are also the latest two Weavers to arrive at the plantation home everyone stays at with their mates. Seeing the others have a mate for each individual Weaver previously, it never occurs to them that the reason they are so at odds is because they are mates to each other and Gio Russo, a man they take to their bed when they meet, the connection between the three is so strong. Throw in a dash of humor, and you will be rolling around laughing at some of the antics these brothers-in-arms have with each other and their mates, while Gio, Lucien, and Calder find themselves and each other. It was great to see how they got to their happy ending with all three of them together in an unconventional union.

There is a bit a repetitiveness to catch you up on the back story if you end up starting the series with this book. You can read out of order because of this, but I would recommend reading in order to get the full history of the characters, the goddesses, and the lives of the Weavers Circle.

They rescue the Air Weaver, along with a little help from Gio’s family, and we get hints of who might be paired with him for the next book. I can’t wait to see the Air Warrior get his powers and happy ending.

Overall, I give it a 5 out 5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed.

-Eloreen

Purchase at Amazon


Meet the Author

Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott have teamed up to combine their evil genius to create intense gay romantic suspense stories that have car chases, shoot outs, explosions, scorching hot love scenes, and tender, tear-jerking moments. Their first joint books are in the Unbreakable Bonds series.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail

Giveaway

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#NewRelease #Blitz: Kline Agency Series Collection by Ana Raine #Contemporary #MM #Menage #Romance #LGBTQ #Gay #multiplepartners

Title: Kline Agency

Series: Kline Agency #5

Author: Ana Raine

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: June 18, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage

Length: 248

Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Gay, Action Adventure, Multiple Partners

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Manhattan — urban center of metropolitan New York. Home of the Kline Agency, where a young man can earn his fortune — or find his love. Chilled Champagne: Micah’s job as an escort is to be whatever his client wants him to be. But Daniel won’t stop exploring until he knows all Micah’s dangerous secrets. Levi: Levi is content in his life as an escort at the Kline Agency — until he meets a new client, Wesley. Can Levi and Wesley escape their haunted pasts and learn to love — and trust — again? Avery: Avery expects to work as an escort at the Kline Agency long enough to help fund his younger brother’s college tuition. A chance meeting with an artist changes everything. But Milo loses his sponsor, he can no longer afford Avery’s services, and Avery is forced to choose between a relationship with Milo or the rich clients of the Kline Agency. Next To You: Twins Alexei and Vasily fulfilling fantasies for customers of the Kline Escort Agency. Kane was once Vasily’s lover, though Vasily doesn’t remember, due to a head injury sustained at the hands of the vicious Noch gang. As his memories slowly return, Vasily becomes determined to end their debt to the Noch Gang — a decision that may cost them all more than they’re willing to pay.

Excerpt

Copyright ©2021 Ana RaineExcerpt from Chilled Champagne Lance was staring at Micah, his toned arms crossed over broad pectorals. At forty-one, he was still handsome and built. Everyone around the Kline Agency knew he was called Loose because he used to put out for his clients. All of that had changed when he’d met the man who was now his lover. Micah didn’t often hang out at the Kline Agency offices like some of the others did. “How did it go?” Lance wrapped his arm around Micah’s still chilled shoulders and led him back to his office. “Did Mr. Patrick have a complaint?” Micah asked hesitantly. “Why would you say that?” Lance laughed, his eyebrows shooting upward. “I wouldn’t put out,” Micah replied. He’d said this so often he barely blushed anymore. Lance didn’t seem surprised. “I figured as much. All the same, he wants to know when he can see you again.” “He called back already?” “Yes. A few minutes ago.” Micah felt his stomach doing a tug of war. He felt flattered he’d made such an impression, but at the same time, he wasn’t going to change his mind. Painfully, his cock kept captive in his pants reminded him how turned on he was. Flushed, he gathered his thoughts before speaking. “What does my schedule look like this week?” “You’re open for tomorrow.” Lance glanced at his computer, clicking his mouse. “Then you have an appointment with a Mr. Hart.” Micah was surprised. “I don’t remember Mr. Hart.” “He’s new. Requested the most beautiful escort we have.” Micah covered his laugh with a cough. “Didn’t he bother looking at the website?” “Sounded like he decided to get an escort last minute,” Lance said, clicking some more. “He didn’t want to take the time to look through pictures.” One thing Micah loved about The Kline Agency was that while most escort services posted full body shots and bios on their websites, Kline posted only profile shots, no faces. Potential clients had to register first. Full-face pictures only went out to email after Lance ran a background check. Micah couldn’t hide if his picture was blasted all over a high volume website. Lance sighed. “Get some sleep.” “Yeah, I’m tired.” Micah unclasped the hair clip. “Is Candace back yet?” “She’s with her favorite client. But she said you could keep the clip. Something about how that color looks better in dark hair than red.” Micah nodded, replacing the clip before grabbing his bag. He would change when he got home. Candace’s hair clip stuck to the side of his head, pressed tightly because he’d worn a knit cap. His gloves had a hole in the right index finger, reminding him he had to buy a new pair before winter came and New York got seriously cold. The Kline Agency office was in a good part of the city. The streetlights were always working at every corner, and the cars lined up were clean without a scratch. His studio was nice enough, considering how quickly he’d had to move and the funds he’d had available at the time. Unlocking the door, he kicked aside a pile of mail. He recognized letters from his mom, and his ex… they only brought back the terrible decisions he’d made. Kisaki, a kitten he’d rescued, was waiting, rubbing his head affectionately against Micah’s leg. “Hey baby,” Micah cooed, dropping his bag on the table. “Hungry?” He held Kisaki with one hand while sifting through his cupboard for a fresh can of cat food. “I’m hungry too.” The scent of wet food had barely hit Micah’s nostrils when he heard his phone buzzing from his bag. “Hello?” There was a pause before a familiar voice made Micah cringe. “Don’t hang up this time.” There was no way Micah was staying on the line. Breathing heavily, Micah slid to the floor, pressing the end button before resting on his side, one hand on Kisaki’s back as he lapped up his food. He’d have to get his number changed. Again. The warm fur beneath his hand and then against his chest made Micah’s throat tighten. He was too tired to stay awake. And he definitely didn’t want to deal with the phone call. His ex was supposed to stay in his past. If he found him now, after four years, Micah was sure his strong resolve would crumble. And what was worse was that Micah didn’t think he’d get so lucky in his next attempt to run away.

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Meet the Author

Ana is still figuring out what she wants to do with her life, although social work seems to be the most likely. Her best friends are a box of chocolate and her kitten who always sit beside her while she writes. When Ana was in high school, she often wrote about the LGBT community, but now her work is less…innocent. Ana enjoys writing anything and everything, including BDSM, dragons, shifters, magic, and more.

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#Blitz: The Couple Next Door by @rickrreed #NewRelease #Contemporary #Romance #LGBTQIA+

Title: The Couple Next Door

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 14, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, MM romance, author, multiple personality disorder, brothers, murder

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Synopsis

Jeremy Booth leads a simple life, scraping by in the gay neighborhood of Seattle, never letting his lack of material things get him down. But the one thing he really wants—someone to love—seems elusive. Until the couple next door moves in and Jeremy sees the man of his dreams, Shane McCallister, pushed down the stairs by a brute named Cole.

Jeremy would never go after another man’s boyfriend, so he reaches out to Shane in friendship while suppressing his feelings of attraction. But the feeling of something being off only begins with Cole being a hard-fisted bully—it ends with him seeming to be different people at different times. Some days, Cole is the mild-mannered John and then, one night in a bar, he’s the sassy and vivacious drag queen Vera.

So how can Jeremy rescue the man of his dreams from a situation that seems to get crazier and more dangerous by the day? By getting close to the couple next door, Jeremy not only puts a potential love in jeopardy, but eventually his very life.

Excerpt

The Couple Next Door
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

How many disappointing dates will I endure before I just give up?

I mean, here I am, a perfectly attractive, fit, self-sufficient thirty-year-old, and I’m still waiting to meet the man of my dreams. Mr. Right. Hell, tonight I’d even settle for that character who seems to come along on dates for most of us, the all-too-common Mr. Right Now. But even he isn’t on the seat beside me. In fact, I strongly doubt he’s anywhere in the vicinity of the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle where I live.

Believe me, I’ve looked.

Mr. First Date pulls his Ford Fusion up to the curb in front of my apartment building on Aloha Avenue. We sit in awkward silence for several long moments, listening as the engine ticks down as it cools. I can feel him looking at me. As he’s done most of the evening, he waits for me to speak. I turn my head and, in the dark, give him a weak smile. The date, dinner at a little sushi place on Broadway, had not gone well, full of uncomfortable silences, awkward pauses, and desperate looks around for avenues of escape—on both our parts.

Do I need to say we just didn’t click?

I didn’t think so.

So what he says now surprises me.

“Do you want me to come up?”

Really? We’ve just spent an hour and a half of agony together, trying to find a snippet of common ground that doesn’t exist, and he’s wondering if I want him to come up, which we all know is code for “Shall we make the beast with two backs?”

Seriously? The most irksome thing is, I’m considering it. I mean, he’s cute in spite of our lack of social connection. He’s a games developer for a software company here in town and looks it, with a sort of hipster/geek vibe going on. He has red hair, which I love. He has a beard, which I love. He wears retro glasses, which make him look paradoxically goofy and sexy—which I love.

Would it be so terrible to sleep with him? I mean, it’s been at least two weeks since I’ve enjoyed the charms of anyone other than Mr. Thumb and his four sons, so at least in terms of a release, maybe I should just say “Sure” and open the car door. If things go like some of my dates in the past, he’d follow me upstairs to my apartment and be back in his car in, like, fifteen minutes.

No, I tell myself. And then I tell him, shaking my head, looking sad, and saying the words countless heartbreakers have used over the years to stop ardent passion in its errant tracks.

“I’m sorry, Neil. But I have to get up early.” Lamely, I pat his hand. “Maybe another time.”

I don’t need to be psychic to know that we both know another time ain’t gonna happen.

Neil seems relieved as he restarts his car. He shrugs. “It’s okay. Club Z’s just a couple minutes away, right? Down Broadway and a right on Pike—easy.”

He grins at me, and I wonder if he expects me to laugh. Club Z is one of Seattle’s filthiest bathhouses, and yes, it’s only a few minutes away. He doesn’t seem to need directions.

It’s my turn to be relieved that I didn’t actually succumb to the temptation of inviting this jerk upstairs. Wordlessly, I get out of the car and slam the door behind me.

Neil roars off into the damp and still night.

I pause and sigh, staring up at the building in which I’ve lived for the past five years. It’s an okay place, an old redbrick three story with none of the modern amenities—no stainless steel, granite countertops, or gas fireplaces. My apartment is homey. It even has the original tile, sink, and claw-foot tub in its single bathroom. The living room is large, with three big windows that look out on Aloha and let in lots of light—on the days when we have sun in Seattle (that means usually summer days). The floors are scuffed original hardwood. The kitchen actually has a pantry and built-in china hutch. I’ve painted the place a cheery, soft yellow.

Upstairs, the TV, with its DVRed episodes of at-odds Sons of Anarchy and Downton Abbey, awaits. Upstairs, there’s the gelato I love from Whole Foods in the freezer—hazelnut dark chocolate.

Such is my life. Comfortable and a little lonely.

Sometimes I wonder, like Peggy Lee, if that’s all there is.

I head toward the glass-paned front door. I grope in my jeans for my keys. The mail had not yet arrived before I left for my date, and I wonder if there will be any surprises in the vestibule mailbox. You know, like an actual letter from someone, standing out from the usual assortment of bills and solicitations by the cursive spelling out of my name—Jeremy Booth.

My problem is I always have hope, even when there’s little reason.

I open the front door, and that’s when everything changes. My life turns upside down. I go from bored discontent to panic in a split second.

The first thing I hear is someone shouting “No!” in an anguished voice. I look up from the lobby to see two figures on the staircase above, on the second-floor landing. One is a guy who looks menacing and so butch he could pose for a Tom of Finland poster. An aura of danger radiates from him. Aside from his imposing and muscular frame, he’s even wearing the right clothes—tight, rolled jeans and a black leather biker jacket with a chain snaking out from beneath one of the epaulets. His high- and tight-buzzed hair gives him a military—and mean—air. He has his hands on the shoulders of a guy who looks a bit younger and much slighter, making me want to call up the stairs, “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” The smaller guy, blond and clad only in a pair of pajama bottoms, struggles with his attacker, looking terrified. Their movements, clumsy and rough, would be comical if they weren’t so scary. The smaller guy is panting and batting ineffectually at the bigger one.

“Please! No! Don’t!” the smaller guy manages to get out, his voice close to hysteria.

I have never seen either of these men before. In fact, the whole scene has the quality of the surreal, a dream. The danger and conflict pulsing down the stairs makes my own heart rate and respiration accelerate, causing feelings of panic to rise within me.

And then the worst happens. The big butch guy shoves the smaller one hard, and all at once he’s tumbling heavily down the stairs toward me.

The fall is graceless, and it looks like it hurts. It’s over so fast that I’m left gasping.

I look up to see the leather-jacket guy sneer down at his mate, lying crumpled and crying at my feet, and then turn sharply on his heel to go back into a second-floor apartment that had been vacant yesterday. He slams the door. The sound of the deadbolt sliding into place is like the report of a shotgun. Both slam and lock resound like thunderclaps, echoing in the tile lobby, punctuation to the drama and trauma of this short scene.

I switch into Good Samaritan mode and drop to my knees at the sniveling, crumpled mess of a man lying practically at my feet.

“Are you okay?” I ask and reach out to lightly touch his shoulder.

He jerks away and, wincing, pulls himself up into an awkward sitting position. He stares at me with clear blue eyes for a moment, almost as though he’s trying to place me. He finally looks away.

“My ankle is throbbing. It hurts like hell. Maybe I twisted it.”

I don’t know what to say, other than to ask, “Would you like to try and stand? Test it out?”

He nods.

I lean over to grip him under the arms—it’s damp there, and I can smell the ripe aroma of body odor, probably inspired by fear or panic—and pull. He comes up with me and then stumbles, wincing and crying out.

“Damn. I might have sprained it when I fell.” His eyes are so appealing, in both senses of the word, as he stares at me, as though seeking direction for what to do next. He leans on me, taking his weight off the injured ankle.

I keep my arm around him, and together we limp over to a bench set beneath the bank of common mailboxes. We sit.

“What do you want to do?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I think Cole may have locked me out for the night.”

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Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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#Blitz: The Handsome Twist by @PezhmunDGhiassi #NewRelease #Thriller #Horror #Romance #Menage #LGBTQIA+

Title: The Handsome Twist

Author: Pezhmun D Ghiassi

Publisher: Friesen press

Release Date: 8/19/2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male/Female (Male/Male interaction), Male/Male Menage

Length: 144 pages

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Horror, Literary Fiction, New Adult, Thriller/Suspense

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Synopsis

The Handsome Twist is a dark fairy tale inspired by the author’s actual life, being raised in Iran as a gay male, which for many who don’t know, is equivalent to the death penalty. Due to tackling topics such as perverse behavior, taboo lust, political oppression, maltreatment, rape and homicide, in high volume of vulgar language, this book is aimed for the mature audience.

Living his sweetest life in a cozy cottage, deep in the heart of a magical forest, a little boy by the name Pezhmun is cursed on his 10th birthday by the 1st royal subject of Hell, queen of lust, to live a life full of horrific trauma and tragedy.

In the rudest awakening he is stripped from his chakras as they take human form, helping him to truly comprehend the power of love, through self acceptance and courage, where only then he meets his soulmate, but hopefully in time to save the world from plunging into eternal darkness.

This story points to topics in which many of people who grow up LGBTQ, usually face throughout the journey of self discovery and self acceptance with a hope of inspiring all to be there true organic selves.

The Handsome Twist simple edition is written in a more comprehensive manner for all to read without difficulty in comparison to the sophisticated, prosaic and poetic original version.

Excerpt

I was born on a glacial Thursday, 4 am of January 4th, 1990, in Baltimore, Maryland, from a mixture of Persian, Irish, Italian, and Native American, something my mother use to call a Heinz 57 ketchup. A year later, after my birth, both my father and mother grew exasperated from to the complexities of the cold climate. In a drastic change of mind, our domesticity was relocated to the Sunny Scottsdale of Arizona.

I confess life in the scorched city did us well. My parents both successful businessman and woman, steady income, a beautiful home and anything to ever ask for and how I wish life always showed its brighter side to me and my loved ones, but that’s not always the case, and this life we speak of isn’t always dreamy…

I recall being ten and en-route from school to home that day as a certain anxiety pommeled my paunch.

I swung the door open only to my witness, the household tarnished! I had never seen so much shattered glass and porcelain gathered in one spot! My pops seeing me rapidly tugged my wrist, marching to the bedroom, sitting us at his computer. “You want to see what your mom’s doing?” My momma’s shriek from the other side of the house rang loud “Parheez No! Don’t do that to him!” Disregarding her plea, he opened his browser, pulling up a website. A tall, scrawny man, his blinkers framed in glass binoculars, and a dirty brown mustache with a red cap on his head appeared as my father uttered, “You’re mother is fucking this man!” I gasped in shock! My breath shortened as I dashed to my only sibling, my older sister’s room drowning in tears! I leaped to her embrace as she nurtured me. How could someone do that to a 10-year old I pondered! Anyhow, let’s let that minor one slip, considering that the least of our worries, for now, that is.

Months later, the once upon a time madly in love couple split! My father by fate lost all his fortune to his partner who had swindled him to his very last dime and as far as my mother who till that day had dedicated her life-giving me and my sister her all, chose emancipation parting ways, re-wedding to a forest firefighter named” William Delaney ” who most likely now quivers in the icy flames of Hell!

My old man now left with empty pockets, and two kids on his hand did what he only knew best, returning to his homeland, Iran.

Luckily his parents had been financially blessed and were indeed the significance of benevolence granting us a home to launch a new life!

A year later, my Baba saw suitable to remarry, so he did. He pondered maybe if a motherly figure hovered our lives, it would do us good, another erroneous mistake!

My step-dame initially seemed the kindest, sweetest being to roam the earth, though gradually in time, she allowed her true colors to show vibrancy.

This woman I speak of had seen much darkness and cruelty in her life, and by the time she had been locked into our family, already had she entrapped herself in a chamber of bitterness, constructed by bricks of pessimism and paranoia. So to be honest, yes, she has a golden heart, though like myself a very fucked up past with the only difference I chose the path of wisdom, not ignorance in my years of youth.

My father made certain to never deprive her of emotion, yet still, she portrayed envy for the love and affection he offered us, making it her mission to assure our lives a misery.

By night shame would be our pillows and goosebumps of gloom our blankets. Now imagine me, my sister to her brown almond eyes, adversaries, not offspring!

Years of her crudeness sailed the sea of our existence till in a sudden twist, this compulsively jealous spouse of a wife of my father went down a darker spiral of violence as one day I declined one of her many ruthless requisitions, expecting me to drop whatever I had in hand and spring at her ease.

I stood up for myself for once, in-surprise my merit were sharpened claws! Scaring my throat, leaving a sting of blood, the image of my scrag!

If a wicked stepmother was my only pain, I’m positive I wouldn’t be here scribbling away.

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Meet the Author

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Raised in Iran, Ghiassi is a renaissance in the field of art! At the age 10 after the separation of his parents he along with his father and sister moved to Iran. He soon began school in a Farsi language school and easily became adapted. In his teen years he discovered himself a dilatent in the field of art by sowing clothing, painting, dancing and high school plays. Ghiassi is a graduate with a BA in Persian literature. At the age 24 he returned to America, served as a US Marine reservist and soon found himself obsessed with writing and a brilliant outlet to manage his heavy luggage of trauma and pain. He currently now resides in Southern California, studying film and directing as an actors student in hopes to one day transform The Handsome into a full length feature.

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#Blitz: Time Lost (Out of Time 02) by C.B. Lewis #NewRelease #ScienceFiction #Mystery #LGBTQIA+

Title: Time Lost

Series: Out of Time, Book Two

Author: C.B. Lewis

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 7, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 114600

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, science fiction, gay, British, detective/police officer, law enforcement, crime procedural, engineer, programmer/decoder, murder, mystery, age gap, interracial, dirty talk, spanking, outrageous flirtation

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Synopsis

A dead intruder. A missing scientist. A terrified child.

No one wants a dramatic case first thing on a Monday morning, but that’s exactly what Detective Inspector Jacob Ofori got. It should be open and shut, but scientist Tom Sanders is nowhere to be found, a dead man seems to have appeared from thin air, and the Temporal Research Institute—Sanders’s company—is strangely uncooperative about assisting with the case.

Jacob’s only source is TRI engineer, Kit Rafferty. He clearly wants to help, but there’s only so much the man can and will tell him. As more and more impossible questions mount up, Jacob finds himself facing a reality that could change his world.

Excerpt

Time Lost
C.B. Lewis © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
At first, everyone assumed it was a burglary.

The postman was the first on the scene. He’d arrived early in the morning to make a delivery to the house in question and found the front door wedged open. No one answered when he rang the bell, so he called the police. The two constables arrived to investigate, and they were the ones who found the body.

It escalated after that.

Not even noon, Jacob thought grimly. Hell of a way to start a Monday.

His autopod shuttled along, arcing off from the main highway. As much as he missed manual controls of old-fashioned cars and early autocars, he appreciated the driverless function of the pod because it gave him time to skim through the images from the crime scene en route.

He wouldn’t get a feel for the scene until he got there, but the images let him know what he was about to walk into. There were signs of a struggle in the room where the body was found, and plenty of blood, but the rest of the house seemed undisturbed.

“Control to Delta Seven. ETA to destination?”

Jacob leaned forward and cleared the images from the display on the windscreen, bringing up his location on the map. Beyond it, he could see the country roads through the glass.

“ETA fifteen minutes, Control,” he replied, then muttered under his breath, “Into the backside of nowhere.”

It was half an hour beyond the miles of sprawling suburbs of the city in the middle of green fields and close to a forest. The nearest amenities had to be at least four miles from the building. He shook his head. What kind of person chose to live all the way out there anymore? It wasn’t as if there were a shortage of housing in the city.

A chime indicated another image had been received.

Jacob opened it up and leaned forward, frowning.

A door, barely visible, blended into the pattern of the wall. No handle, no visible hinges.

“You seeing this, sir?” Constable Foley’s voice rang through the speaker.

“I am indeed, Foley,” he said, widening the image. “Is that a safe room?”

“Looks that way, sir,” the constable replied. “The dust in front of it suggests a box was moved and recently. Looks like someone might be in there.”

Smart girl, Jacob thought with approval.

“Any response?”

“Not yet, sir, but if they were attacked—”

“They might not be capable of replying,” Jacob finished. “Keep trying.” He minimised the image and looked out through the windscreen. “I have visual on you, Foley. Be with you soon.”

Ahead of him, the house was visible between the trees. The red brick structure had to be at least two centuries old, but even from a distance, the modern touches were obvious. The windows were thick and secure. The roof had been replaced with faux slate.

The autopod purred to a halt beside the four other vehicles lining the gravel courtyard, and the door slid aside. Jacob stepped out and glanced at the other vehicles. He recognised the coroner’s transport pod, and the standard blue-and-white- patterned squad pod, but the other two were probably the homeowner’s.

Foley opened the front door to greet him.

Half his age, she hadn’t been with the force long enough to be as jaded as him yet. She smiled in greeting. “Morning, sir.”

He winced. “Say afternoon. It makes it a little more bearable.”

She laughed. “You want a summary, sir?”

“I read up on it on the way over. Any word on the owner?”

“Thomas Sanders,” Foley said, leading him toward the house. “Forty-eight. Widower with one young son. He’s a well-reputed scientist and engineer. High up in some kind of historical and scientific research program in the city, the Temporal Research Institution.”

“Have you been able to make contact with him?”

Foley shook her head, her sandy ponytail swinging. She offered him overalls to cover his suit. “We’ve tried his business and private numbers. His colleagues said he’s been on a leave of absence for health reasons for several weeks. Our best bet is the safe room.”

“Any sign of the son?”

“We assume he’s with his father,” Foley replied.

“Do we have an ID for the body yet?”

She hesitated in the hallway. “That’s the strange thing, sir. We can’t find anything on him. His prints aren’t in the system. No DNA trace either. We still need to run facial recognition, but so far, we’ve got nothing.”

“That’s not unusual.”

Foley looked at him. “There’s something off about it all. I’ll show you.”

The house was spacious inside. The lower level was split into four rooms, all branching off from a wide, sunlit hall. Foley led him down the hall and to one of the rooms at the back, her covered boots thumping on the wooden floors.

Jacob stopped in the doorway, taking a moment, then stepped across the threshold. The crime scene team was still at work.

The room appeared to be some kind of laboratory with workbenches running along one wall. Another wall was covered in old-fashioned whiteboards with all kinds of incomprehensible text and codes marked on them in half a dozen colours. Jacob studied all of it for a moment, but whatever Sanders was working on, it was far beyond Jacob’s barely adequate physics A level.

There were little machines here and there, suspended from the boards by wires. Spools of wire and gears were scattered across the floor. Several boxes had been upended from shelves and lay on their sides.

In the middle of it all, the body lay face down on the floor, a bloodied hammer close at hand.

Danni Michaels was working on the body and glanced up with a nod. “Sir.”

“Cause of death?” Jacob said, keeping his eyes off the dead man’s face.

“Looks like blunt force trauma,” Danni replied, nudging her magnifying glasses up her nose with her knuckles. “I don’t think it’s a wild guess to say the weapon was that hammer. It was a single blow, landed here.”

Jacob gritted his teeth and looked. The left side of the man’s forehead was ruptured. His eyes were open, and he had an expression of surprise on his rigid, bloody face. He was young. Maybe thirties. Dark-haired. His eyes were dark, the pupils flared wide open, but death sometimes did that. Blood had spread in a wide, sticky pool around his body. Jacob swallowed down the familiar rising acid.

Christ, he hated the messy ones.

He glanced around the room.

A pair of slippers, several steps away from the blood pool, had left bloody prints on the polished floor. The owner must have kicked them off, and they’d ended up at least three feet from each other. Not good shoes for running, slippers. If he—men’s slippers, size nine approximately—had already knocked down the man on the floor, then there had to be another assailant whom he was running from.

“Any sign of this man’s accomplice?”

“Accomplice?” Foley asked.

Jacob gestured to the slippers. It was easier than looking at the body. “You don’t try and run from an unconscious, nearly dead man. There was someone else here.”

“We haven’t seen any sign of anyone else,” Foley replied. “Sorry, sir. I didn’t even notice that.”

He offered her a brief smile. “That’s why I’m a DI, Foley.” He motioned to the body. “You said there was something off?”

Foley nodded, crouching by the body. “Take a look at his right eye.”

Jacob went down beside her, propping his forearms on his knees. It took him a moment, but then he saw what she was pointing out: The pupil wasn’t blown. There was no iris at all.

“What the hell…” He leaned closer. “Michaels, can I borrow your magnifiers?”

She handed them over and obligingly shone the torch over the man’s eyes. “Clever, isn’t it?”

Jacob peered down and frowned. “A synthetic bionic eyeball? Is that even possible?”

Michaels shook her head. “I’ve heard of people developing them, but I’ve never heard of any successful trials.” She squatted by the body and grinned. “I can’t wait to get it out and see what it’s made of.”

“And there’s one of those images I didn’t need,” Jacob murmured, peering through the magnifier again. The pupil seemed to be a focusing lens. High-quality, high-end technology. “Foley, have you checked anywhere that might carry tech this advanced?”

“We’re putting together a list,” she said. “But from what we’re hearing back, this is off the charts, sir. No one has heard of technology like this before, or if they have, they’re not telling us about it.”

He straightened up. “You said this Sanders was a scientist?”

“Doctor in physics and engineering,” she confirmed.

“Could he have made something like this?”

She hesitated. “From all accounts, he didn’t deal in human biology or bio-artificing.”

“Doesn’t mean he couldn’t.” Jacob ran a hand over his face. “Well, if we can’t find this man by standard identification, maybe we can find him by the eye he doesn’t have. Danni, we need all the information you can get us as soon as possible.”

“Sir,” Danni said at once.

Jacob turned to Foley. “Where’s Singh?”

“Still trying to get into the safe room.” She jerked her head. “This way.”

The safe room was up the stairs in what appeared to be a playroom. Windows lined one of the walls, the others covered in posters and drawings. Kids’ toys and games were scattered all over the place. Singh was working his way along the one blank wall with a scanner.

Jacob took in the mess. “You said Sanders has a son?”

“Ben,” Foley confirmed.

“About eight?”

Foley looked at him in surprise. “Seven and a half. Is this another one of those detective things?”

Jacob chuckled. “This time, it’s one of those dad things.”

Singh glanced over his shoulder at them, sighing in frustration. “Foley, I know you said to scan for a high intensity of fingerprints on the wall, but this whole wall is fingerprints.” He nodded at Jacob. “Afternoon, sir.”

“Singh.” Jacob approached, studying the wall. “It’s very smoothly done, isn’t it?” He rubbed his short beard thoughtfully with his fingertips. “No visible buttons or latches anywhere?”

“None we could find,” Foley said. “I thought it might be a pressure-point system, but seems not. We requested an expert, but they’ve been delayed.”

“I think we need to un-delay them,” Jacob said, touching his earbud to activate it. “If Sanders is wounded and inside there, we need to get him out. If not, we need confirmation, because this could be an abduction.”

While they waited, Jacob had gone down to the laboratory to take another look at the whiteboards. He didn’t see what it had to do with Sanders’s work at the Temporal Research Institution. A quick search suggested the institution specialised in identifying historical discrepancies and confirming historical events. It could be something to do with locating old records and creating algorithms, he supposed. You would need a specialised engineer to do that.

“Sir?”

Jacob turned. “Foley?”

“The smith is here. I thought you might want to be present if he can open the door.”

They headed back up the stairs to the playroom. The body had been removed in the hour before the locksmith arrived, the crime scene unit now working their way out from the house across the grounds, searching for trace evidence of the intruders.

The locksmith was already working on the wall with a scanning device.

“Apparently,” Singh said, joining them, “all safe room doors come installed with a registration chip, in case the mechanism needs to be deactivated in an emergency.”

“Not unlike this,” Jacob observed. “Useful.”

The locksmith glanced over. “It’s a recent make. Give me two minutes.”

In the end, he took less than thirty seconds, and the door swung outward.

Inside, there was a room big enough for a family, but only one person was there. A small tawny-haired boy shrank back into the corner of the room, his arms wrapped around his legs, his face bone-white.

Jacob motioned for the smith and the two constables to back off, and crouched a couple of feet away from the door.

“Hey,” he murmured.

The boy was shivering, and tears rolled down his face from swollen, red-rimmed eyes.

Jacob took out his badge, laid it on the floor, and slid it across to the boy. “It’s okay. I’m a policeman. My name’s Jacob.” He watched as the boy tentatively leaned forward and looked at the badge. “Are you Ben?”

The boy nodded. “Where’s my dad?” His voice shook as much as he was.

“We’re trying to find him now.” Jacob offered a hand. “Do you want to come out? You don’t need to stay in there.”

“Dad told me to stay here.” Ben wrapped his arms tighter around his legs. “He told me to, until he came to get me.”

“I know.” Jacob knelt and sat back on his heels. “We want him to come and get you, too, Ben, but right now, I think he’d want you to be safe, don’t you? How about we keep you safe?”

“P-promise?”

Jacob nodded. “Promise.”

Ben got unsteadily to his feet. His trousers were sodden, and there was vomit on the front of his shirt. The poor kid must have been terrified. Jacob knelt up, offering both his hands, and Ben’s icy fingers wrapped around his.

“There you go,” Jacob said as gently as he could, drawing Ben back out. “You’re safe now.”

The little boy gave a sob and stumbled forward and wrapped his arms around Jacob’s neck, clinging to him. Jacob scooped him up and rose to his feet with the boy in his arms. He rubbed his hand in circles on Ben’s back.

“You’re okay,” he murmured. “You’re okay.”

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Meet the Author

C.B. Lewis has been making up nonsense since she was able to talk. Now, she puts it into computers and turns it into books. She is chuffed to bits to officially be yet another one of the collective of authors from Edinburgh. Find C.B. Lewis on Facebook.

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#Blitz: M4M by @rickrreed #NewRelease #Contemporary #Romance #LGBTQIA+

Title: M4M

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 31, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, MM romance, online dating apps, deception, HIV, men over 40, grief

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Synopsis

Three great stories. One great love.
VGL Male Seeks Same

Poor Ethan Schwartz. It seems like he will never find that special someone. At age forty-two, he’s still alone, his bed still empty, and his 42-inch HDTV overworked. He’s tried the bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find one another, but for Ethan, it never works out. He wonders if it ever will. Should he get a cat?

But all of that is about to change…

NEG UB2

Poor Ethan Schwartz. He’s just had the most shocking news a gay man can get—he’s been diagnosed HIV positive. Up until today, he thought his life was on a perfect course. He had a job he loved and something else he thought he’d never have: Brian, a new man, one whom Ethan thought of as “the one.” The one who would complete him, who would take his life from a lonely existence to a place filled with laughter, hot sex, and romance.

But along with the fateful diagnosis comes another shock—is Brian who he thinks he is?

Status Updates

Ethan finds himself alone once more and wonders if life is worth living, even one with a cat. Via a Facebook friend request, an old nemesis appears, wanting to be friends. Ethan is suspicious but intrigued because it seems this old acquaintance has turned his life around…and the changes just might hold the key to Ethan getting a new lease on life…and love.

Excerpt

M4M
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Ethan Schwartz was alone. At forty-two, the state of being alone was almost like having another person by his side, a person he was growing to know more and more intimately with each passing night in his too-big-for-one bed. In fact, Ethan sometimes wondered if being alone was his natural state of being. Perhaps it was simply his fate to spend his evenings in front of his brand-new forty-two-inch Toshiba HDTV, watching classic 1940s movies from an endless queue at Netflix.

He wondered if his life would ever change. Maybe he would continue to go to work at his job as a publicist for several Chicago theater companies, come home about seven o’clock, nuke a Lean Cuisine, fall asleep in front of the TV, and repeat the routine until he expired.

He had thought, as he tossed in bed at night, in those endlessly stretching hours slogging their way toward dawn, of getting a dog or even a cat. He envisioned himself walking into his apartment door at night, greeted by a French bulldog’s grin or the slightly harlotish leg rub of a Maine coon. But an animal just didn’t seem like—well, it just didn’t seem like enough.

In the above scenario, he also imagined a man coming in the same door minutes later and Ethan getting the four-legged companion riled up by saying “Daddy’s home!” No, Ethan knew—in his heart of hearts—he wanted an animal of the two-legged variety, one who would talk back to him, one he could spend long autumn weekends in Door County with, one he could take out to dinner parties and bring home to his family at Christmas. He wanted an animal that wouldn’t shed and would need little housebreaking. Well, at least not much. At forty-two, Ethan had lowered expectations.

He also dreaded the thought of subjecting some poor tabby or Boston terrier to a solitary existence much like his own. After all, the stand-in-for-a-boyfriend pet would spend most of its time roaming the apartment by his or her lonesome and staring mournfully out the window because of Ethan’s long hours at work.

He knew from experience that subjecting an unsuspecting animal to an existence akin to his own would be cause for calling out the SPCA.

So Ethan would have to go on dreaming of meeting Mr. Right in human form and continue to watch as those dreams faded into wispy gossamer as the years relentlessly marched toward old age. Already Ethan found it necessary to use a moisturizer on his face and a depilatory on his back. His dark brown hair he kept buzzed close to his skull in an effort to minimize its traitorous thinning. Starting at around age thirty-two, every year he’d added a pound or two to his five-foot-ten-inch frame, and every year that pound or two became harder and harder to lose, in spite of long, sweaty hours on the treadmill or a diet consisting chiefly of the frozen culinary delights of the people at Smart Choice, Lean Cuisine, or South Beach Diet.

Heading toward middle age sucked…especially when you were doing it alone.

Tonight Ethan dug in the Doritos bag for one remaining chip of decent size while glued to the adventures of Ugly Betty. Why couldn’t he at least find a nice nerd, as Betty once had? Why couldn’t he at least have a little drama at work, like the Mexican magazine assistant faced every single day of her charmed life? Ethan’s days were spent trying to chat up theater critics in hopes of persuading them to write a review or feature on whatever play he was pushing that week. Or he holed up in his cube and wrote the same press release over and over, with only the titles, venues, and dates changed. When he had taken the job ten years ago, he’d thought the free nights out at the theater would be a great way to get dates. He’d assumed he would meet lots of handsome actors, and they would all want to cozy up to the publicist who could get them so much press.

He’d thought wrong.

Ethan got up and shut off the TV and threw his Doritos bag in the trash. He stretched and looked out the window. His move to this North Side Chicago neighborhood had been another misguided romantic maneuver, one that started full of hope and confidence and had been dashed by cold reality. He felt even more isolated and alone as he looked down from his studio apartment on Halsted Street, the blocks between Belmont and Addison that Chicagoans referred to as Boystown. When he had rented the little studio above a gay bookstore a decade ago, he had reasoned that wrangling a date would be no more difficult than hanging out his third story window with a smoldering gaze and a come-hither pout.

He had reasoned wrong.

Shortly after Ethan had moved in and hung his first Herb Ritts poster, Boystown had begun quickly gentrifying itself. Most of the gays moved farther north to Andersonville or even Rogers Park. Sure, gay bars still lined the street, and the teeming throngs continued to taunt him with luscious examples of masculinity on the prowl, but it had been a long time since one of the minions had made his way up the creaking stairs to Ethan’s studio.

Oh, he supposed he could throw on some jeans, T-shirt, and his Asics and run across the street to Roscoe’s or any of the other watering holes lining the rainbow-pyloned avenue, but he had been to that dry well too many times to even consider it. Every year, it seemed, there was a new crop of gorgeous twentysomethings laughing and drinking…and practiced in the art of ignoring nice but nondescript men like Ethan. One could only endure so long the hours of standing against a wall, Stella Artois in hand, trying to look approachable and then never being approached. It didn’t do much for the ego.

And it didn’t do much for the wallet. Or the self-esteem. Or certainly the romantic, or even sex, life.

No, the bars had long ago lost their allure, becoming more and more an exclusive club for younger gays looking to hook up, or dance, or text message each other…or whatever other ways they found these days to make Ethan feel old. Besides, Ethan hoped for a more meaningful connection.

And with each gray hair, each crow’s-foot and laugh line stamped upon his features, he despaired of ever finding it.

He padded into the little bathroom and gasped as a cockroach beat a hasty retreat into a crack between the baseboard and linoleum-tiled floor. He shook his head and thought that even the bugs wanted nothing to do with him.

He looked at his tired face in the mirror and laughed. “Jesus,” he said to his reflection, “you’re pathetic.” He held his aging mug up to the light cast by the overhead fixture and said, “What’s wrong with everybody? You’re not so old. You’re not so bad.” And indeed, Ethan spoke the truth. He looked every bit of his forty-two years, but that was still pretty young, wasn’t it? Didn’t somebody at the office just yesterday say something about forty being the new thirty? And his face, while certainly not Brad Pitt sexy, was pleasing, with a nice cleft in his chin, a strong nose, and deep blue eyes framed by long black lashes. His lips were a bit thin—a gift from his German father—and he could probably use some sun to give his pasty complexion a little pizzazz, but all in all, it wasn’t a face one would run from, screaming into the night. It was every bit as cute as a Tom Hanks or Will Ferrell.

Ethan pulled his toothbrush from the medicine cabinet and decorated its bristles with orange gel—when had toothpaste gone orange?—and gave his teeth a savage brushing, even though his dentist always admonished him about that, telling him a slow, gentle course was the way, lest he wanted to erode his gums entirely away. But Ethan had never been able to dissuade himself from the idea that the harder the brush, the whiter the teeth.

He spit and wiped his mouth on the hand towel and headed back into the common area to pull out his queen-size—hush!—futon for another night of lonely slumber.

Tomorrow, he thought, he had to do something about his depressing state. And he did not mean moving out of Illinois. Somewhere there had to be a companion for him, just waiting. His dream man wasn’t in all the places he had fruitlessly checked, like the bars, backstage, and in his office. But he was out there, and like Ethan, he too was pulling the covers up by himself and thinking the answer to the riddle of how to escape a solitary existence was just within reach.

Just before he fell asleep, he wondered if his mystery man also cynically told himself the same thing every night.

“Shut up!” Ethan cried into the darkness. And then whispered, muffled into his pillow, “Tomorrow will be different. I just know it.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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Psst… I have some news… #BlogTour x2 #Together #ComingNextWeek #AnimatedCover #NewRelease #Innovation

Click on the picture to purchase via Amazon: eBook (KU) or Print.

First, I did the thing. I’ve set Together on a virtual blog tour over the course of 14 days starting Monday, August 10, 2020. Sorry for the late notice. The Full Time Job ™ has been insane recently and just now have time to even think about post. It’s why I’ve been radio silent for the last couple of months.

Sorry about that. I will attempt to post more and be around on social media more often. No guarantees, but you can usually find me with the #WrtitingCommunity in Twitter (@eloreenmoon) when work hasn’t taken over my life. Sometimes I’m on Facebook, and you can always signup for my newsletter. There will be exclusive content coming soon; so, you will need to join to see it.

Follow all the stops with Other Worlds Inc blog, my social accounts, or here (I will link them here as they post live). Who knows, perhaps you can join the giveaway for a $25 Amazon eGift Card! Read all the way to the end for another surprise.

I also commissioned my cover to get animated. Check out my Twitter feed on the sidebar of my blog as I have posted all three today! Thank you to @byMorganWright for wonderful animations. Unfortunately, I don’t have the WordPress plan to upload videos or I would post them here. Perhaps that will be my first content exclusive to the newsletter. *wink* I will just have to figure out logistics. Stay tuned!

That was the first blog tour. Now for the second…

For 6 years in a row, I made the cut for the 7th annual QSF Flash Fiction Contest Anthology!

Titled “Innovation”, Queer Sci Fi’s 6th Anthology published today and my story made it in. It’s available in eBook and Paperback. See the Buy Links later in the posts.

It is also on a 14 day blog tour. Keep reading for more information about the anthology, the series, and a chance to enter a choice of $20 Amazon gift card OR a print copy of four of the other five flash fiction books in the series. Books three through five are also available through retailers. It’s not necessary to read the previous books to enjoy the latest in the series.

1 – Discovery (out of print)

2 – Flight (out of print)

3 – Renewal (out of print)

4 – Impact

5 – Migration

Book Blurb:

IN-NO-VA-TION (Noun)

1) A new idea, method, or device.

2) The introduction of something new.

3) The application of better solutions to meet unarticulated needs.

Three definitions to inspire writers around the world and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell. Here are 120 of our favorites.

Migration features 300-word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum, from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.

Series Blurb:

Every year Queer Sci Fi holds a flash fiction contest that solicits stories from writers around the world, and publishes the best stories as an annual anthology.

Excerpt:

“The fields are overgrown, have been for years with all the Bios underground. The wind kisses the grass in serpentine patterns long forgotten, patterns the Bios couldn’t imagine anymore. My mechanical hand stores the seed envelope in the mechanical pocket in my androgynous torso. In these suits, there is no gender. Gender is, always has been, in the mind. And I am finally, unequivocally, female.” —Seed, by Val Muller

“No one in the village knew what the Change would bring. They never saw it happen. They only knew what they had been promised: the Change would bestow three gifts.” —A New Way, by Rory Ni Coileain

“The girl kissed her, hard. Then backed away, grinning, teasing, drawing her to the end of the hallway and a flight of stairs leading downward. She took two steps and gazed back up at Lilian, one hand outstretched. Her brilliant red lipstick wasn’t even smudged. Her skin glowed in the harsh white torchlight.” —The Thing With the Bats, by Mary Francis

“Interspecies sex is outlawed on the Freespec Interplanetary Space Station. Politicians call it a safety measure. But I’ve been in the Medical Corps for half my lifecycle, and I call it criminally negligent prudery. Leaders would rather let innocents die needlessly—punctured by sperm darts and dissolved in sacks of voltaic pleasure mucus—than give them the knowledge to express their feelings safely.” — Are My Underwater Sperm Darts Normal?, Brenna Harvey

“The bell’s brassy gong echoes through the flat; the walls blush crimson. See, see! He’s at my door. The live feed shows him sniff his armpit; cup his breath. He wants to impress, but I’m impressed already. His lips softly part; he brushes them with stubby fingers, as he waits. Ugly fingers. Ugly hands. Scrawny neck. Milky eyes. But those lips, see, they’re perfect, just perfect. Plump n’ pale, a slither of my future.” —Just perfect, by Redfern Jon Barrett 

“Lekke looked down over the valley, First People’s home for as long as any tales or dreams could tell. Now only Spirit Dreamer Manoot, neither he nor she but both, and Lekke, elder healer, were left. Lifetimes of Long-legs’ raids had driven First People to their deaths—or, some few, to the Way. If there truly was a Way.” —Going Back,” by Sacchi Green

“Savinna limped into her lover’s workshop, her hip still sore from tangling with the marabbecca which had knocked her into its well before she managed to kill it. Such was the life of a monster hunter. Not at all surprised to see Larissa hunched over her bench, hard at work tinkering with something, Savinna ghosted her hand over Larissa’s back.” —Those Who Hunt Monsters, by Jana Denardo

“The baby cried as Freya lowered the bartering bucket into the wishing well. Many had come to the tree-shrouded clearing to make exchanges—a bushel of azure apples for a sword, a woven blanket for a day of rain. The well had been the final creation of a thousand-year-old inventor. But dead wizards often don’t anticipate how their gifts birth consequences.” —The Bartering Bucket, by Diane Callahan

Giveaway:

Queer Sci Fi is giving away your choice of a $20 Amazon gift card OR a print copy of four of the other five flash fiction books in the series – Flight, Renewal, Impact, and Migration (US only unless you are willing to pay the shipping outside the US) with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter here.

Buy Links:

Publisher | Amazon eBook | Amazon Paperback | Barnes & Noble |iBooks| Kobo

Author Bio:

120 authors contributed stories for this volume:

  • Adrik Kemp
  • Alex Silver
  • Alex Stargazer
  • Allan Dyen-Shapiro
  • Andi Deacon
  • Andrea Speed
  • Andrew Vaillencourt
  • Ava Kelly
  • Barbara Johnson-Haddad
  • Barbara Krasnoff
  • Beáta Fülöp
  • Benoit Lafortune
  • Blaine D. Arden
  • Bob Milne
  • Brenna Harvey
  • Brooke K. Bell
  • C.L. McCartney
  • Cassidy Frazee
  • Chet Gottfried
  • Chloe Spencer
  • Chris Bannor
  • Christine Wright
  • Christopher Koehler
  • Clare London
  • D.J. Clarke
  • D.M. Rasch
  • David Gerrold
  • Devon Widmer
  • Diane Callahan
  • E. L. Harrison
  • E. Romeis
  • E.D.E. Bell
  • E.M. Hamill
  • Edie Montreux
  • Elaine Burnes
  • Eloreen Moon
  • Emilia Agrafojo
  • Emma Johnson-Rivard
  • Eric Warren
  • Evelyn Benvie
  • Gareth Worthington
  • Ginger Streusel
  • Howard V. Hendrix
  • J. Needham
  • J. Zachary Pike
  • J.S. Garner
  • Jade Black
  • James Alan Gardner
  • Jamie Lackey
  • Jana Denardo
  • Jasie Gale
  • Jeff Jacobson
  • Jennie L. Morris
  • Jet Lupin
  • Jon Miller
  • Jonathan Fesmire
  • Joshua Ian
  • Julian Maxwell
  • K. Kitts
  • K.L. Townsend
  • K.S. Marsden
  • KA Masters
  • Katelyn Cameron
  • Kellie Doherty
  • Kevin Andrew Murphy
  • Kevin Klehr
  • Kim Fielding
  • Kitt Harris
  • Koji A. Dae
  • L.S. Reinholt
  • L.V. Lloyd
  • LC Treeheart
  • Lee Jordan
  • Lee Soeburn
  • Lou Sylvre
  • M. X. Kelly
  • Maria Zoccola
  • Mary E. Lowd
  • Mary Francis
  • Mary Kuna
  • Matt Doyle
  • Mere Rain
  • Milo Owen
  • Minerva Cerridwen
  • Naomi Tajedler
  • Nathan Alling Long
  • Nathaniel Taff
  • Nicole Dennis
  • Nina Kiriki Hoffman
  • Noah K. Sturdevant
  • Patricia Scott
  • Paul Uebler
  • R. E. Carr
  • R.L. Merrill
  • Raine Norman
  • Ray Lidstone
  • RE Andeen
  • Redfern Jon Barrett
  • Rory Eggleston
  • Rory Ni Coileain
  • Rosalie Wessel
  • S S Long
  • Sara Testarossa
  • Sean Ian O’Meidhir
  • Shannon Brady
  • Shannon Yseult
  • Skip J. Hanford
  • Stephen B. Pearl
  • Stephen J. Wolf
  • Steve Carr
  • Stone Franks
  • Stuart Conover
  • Susan James
  • Sydney Blackburn
  • T. T. Thomas
  • T.W. Cox
  • Tom Jolly
  • Val Muller
  • Warren Rochelle
  • William Tate

Comment on this post for two winners a chance to win a print copy of either Together OR your choice of a prior QSF Flash Fiction contest Anthology. I have extra copies of all but Discovery. This contest will end on August 23rd, 2020 11:59 PM EST. I will pick the winners from the comments of this post only within 2-3 days of the contest end and post on the blog the winners then. Please make sure you provide an email address and I will contact you for your mailing address. This is open to the US only. International: I will be happy to send to you for the cost of shipping. Thank you for reading!

Eloreen Moon