Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway – A Winter in Rome by Francis Gideon

Hello everyone! Thanks to Charlie for hosting me once again. This is the first stop I’m making to  promote A Winter In Rome, one of the many stories in the Intertwined collection call from Less Than Three Press. Intertwined features poly romances; my story is about a relationship between two men which eventually grows to include a genderqueer person. Craig is the main lead, and as the relationship between everyone develops, he worries that he’s not as interesting or as talented as everyone else around him. Sybil, the genderqueer character, works at a crisis call centre and is in grad school for women’s studies, while Alan is an art professor who Craig thinks is unbelievably talented. Meanwhile, Craig works at a coffee place and failed out of some classes. His life is fun and interesting, but even with all the love in his life, he still thinks something is missing.

The story is set in Toronto, one of the most metropolitan areas in Canada, and Craig’s feelings of unhappiness is actually quite common when living in the city. According to a Statistics Canada report, Toronto is the second unhappiest city in Canada (trailing behind Vancouver in British Columbia). Why does this happen in a place where the business district, school board, fashion industry, the arts, and entertainment industry (a lot of films and TV shows are shot here) are thriving? From my limited experience living in Toronto, I know that when you’re around so many cool people, you start to feel inferior. Toronto is packed with so many talented people that an “imposter syndrome” easily develops and you wonder if you’re good enough or deserve to be there.

How does Craig remedy this? Instead of having him write a bestseller or win the lottery or become a famous actor, I made the choice to have him revel in simplicity. I won’t say exactly what that means (since it could be a spoiler), but I will say that I wanted him to celebrate his life as it was instead of searching for a quick-fix solution. In my writing (and own reading choices), I tend to reject most Hollywood stories that tell me my life could be so much better than it already is. Some change is good, but not everything needs to turn into a competition. Sometimes, it’s not necessary to be the best or brightest–it’s just nice to be there. So Craig learns to appreciate Toronto for what it is: a beautiful city and filled with many creative people, including the two he falls in love with.

And even though I don’t live in Toronto anymore, I still think the Ontario College of Arts and Design, located in the downtown core, is a beautiful building–so much that I based the university in the story off its design and made Alan Winters a professor there.

WillAesopOCAD

There are many other gems inside the city (like The Art Gallery of Ontario, Kensington Market, St. Lawrence Market, and of course, The CN Tower), but I will limit my blog post to these few. And thank you, Charlie, for having me again!

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2015NewAbout the BookCraig is a man adrift, never quite feeling like he belongs or like he’s as successful and settled as those around him—especially his lovers, Alan, an art professor he met while in college, and Sybil, who tutored him throughout his Italian class. When Alan goes to Rome life becomes even shakier and the only grounding point becomes the corkboard of memories Craig creates for the three of them. 

By the time Alan returns, Craig isn’t certain how his relationships will change—especially when Alan starts to fall for Sybil, bringing two pieces of his world completely together and leaving Craig worried it will create a world that has no place for him.

2015NewExcerptWe dug my poor car out from the snow, and I wished that I hadn’t put away my mittens and hats earlier that week, thinking that the Canadian winter was done. Most of the snow plows hadn’t gone by yet, making the roads a little treacherous until more cars wore away a path. We stopped at the first liquor store we could find, then ran from our parking spot to the safety inside.

“I’ll go down this aisle,” Sybil said, “and you go down here. We meet in the middle?”

“Sure.”

Before I knew it, we were both left alone, wandering around and leaving puddles of snow water in our wake. For a moment, I felt as if I had walked through time, and it was that first winter I had met Sybil. Back then, when I had first started to fall in love with her, I had felt like I was a ship over the ocean, being pulled in two. People, Rebecca especially, used to tell me that’s what being bisexual was like—being pulled in two over the ocean, bent and lost at a fork in the road, and having to decide where to stay all the time. Who do you love tonight? And, more importantly, who are you tonight? I used to think I had to pick being Craig, who was gay and a terrible art student when I was with Alan. Or then I was Craig, who was straight and with Sybil and pretending to speak a language I didn’t know.

But that was the wrong way of looking at things. I loved them both—without issue or complaint. Sometimes, I would imagine my rebuttals to Rebecca’s issues. You’re mixing up identity with love, Becca. Love cannot be measured, or quantified. Love just is. And the paths in the woods are always a false choice. If you were smart enough, if you stay around long enough, I was convinced you could have both. Love both. Now that some time had passed, I knew that this was the only right answer. But I still struggled, just a little bit, when I thought of Sybil loving Alan—and him loving her back. What did that do to all of us? How did that change us? And who did that make me at the end of the day?

“Find anything?” Sybil’s voice stirred me back into the florescent light of the store. She smiled, her coat halfway done up and her cheeks flushed with cold.

“Nah. I got distracted. What did you find?”

She held up one bottle in her hand, and then another. “What wine do you want? Red or white?”

“Both,” I said with a smile. I took a step forward and clasped her chin, kissing her quickly.

“Not here, Craig.” She laughed as she chastised me. “We have to go back to your place before my toes fall off from cold.”

“Alan’s place,” I said.

“Don’t call it that. You’re living there too. It’s yours now.”

“Yeah, sure.” I shifted my feet on the store floor, feeling study. “I guess you’re right. But the wine?”

“We’ll get both,” she said, nodding. “Of course.”


Purchase Links
http://www.lessthanthreepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_bookx_info&cPath=118&products_id=990

2015NewAbout the authorFrancis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante.  He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee. Feel free to contact him, especially if you want to talk about horror movies, LGBT poetry, or NBC’s Hannibal. Find him at francisgideon.wordpress.com.

2015NewGiveaway

What’s your favourite city? Comment with your favourite city and your email, and after a week, I’ll randomly select two winners to receive an ebook copy of A Winter in Rome in the format of their choice.

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour & Exclusive Excerpt – The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth

Thanks, Charlie, for having me on your blog again. :)

For my new released, “The Homecoming”, out today from Less Than Three Press, I have an exclusive excerpt for you. This is my “wolfman meets spaceman” story, and this scene begins when Alvin, one of the four returnees to Earth, first wakes up after his ship, the Sapphire, has crash landed.

I hope you enjoy it.

TH Cover

BOOK DETAILS

Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Published: July 29th, 2015
Genre: Gay, Sci-fi
Length: Novella
Cover Artist: London Burden
ISBN: 9781620045831

2015NewAbout the BookWhen his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

Purchase Links

Less Than Three PressAmazon | ARe | Kobo

2015NewExcerpt

Aldiss Harlson’s eyes flickered open. He lay on a firm bed, staring up at a ceiling crowded with instrumentation. He blinked, and tried to move. His body was sluggish, non- responsive. Where am I? Did we make it?

He turned his head to look down at his wrist, where a tube was attached to his circulatory system via an embedded shunt.

Memory returned, slowly. He was on the Sapphire. He was on a mission back to Earth, the home world of legend, the world his grandfather Alvin, the old bastard, had died trying to reach.

His own world had ended.
The suspension drugs leached their way slowly out of his system. His blood was recirculated and cleansed. Eventually he sat up, shakily throwing his legs over the side of the suspension bed.

The dreams that had plagued him in suspension lingered: fire and brimstone, the world’s ceiling falling, hot crystal that tore through whatever it touched. Lorin running after him. The ship blasting off with just the four of them. He’d been too late.

Aldiss shuddered, and pushed down the painful memories. Too soon. Too much grief. Better, now, to care for the ones who were here.

He stood, stretching long-unused muscles, and surveyed the insides of the small exploration ship. The guidance console flashed. He waved his hand over it and a 3-D model of the ship appeared, red marks plastered all over it. Probably damaged in the fall, it would never fly again. It was a miracle they’d reached Earth at all.

He was the first awake. The others were as still as corpses under the plas of their suspension beds. He sat still for a few moments, alone with his thoughts, while the last of the drugs wore off, and then disconnected the shunt.

“Sapphire, status of the others?”
Silence. Maybe the AI had been damaged, too.
The emergency lights cast a reddish pall over the tiny ship’s innards, looking far too much like blood. He found an ASEA jumpsuit that fit him in one of the lockers, and then swiped the console, bringing up the manual controls. The vitals for the other three explorers appeared in mid-air before him—at least that still worked.

Rober Cosgrove and Xandra Collier looked fine, but there was something wrong with Cat Ivins. They’d check her status once she had been awakened.

There would be four from Antana present for this homecoming of sorts, though it was a rather hastily executed one. Four souls. Few enough to build a new world with.

The exploration mission had taken on a renewed urgency when the Flare had begun, and they had barely escaped with their lives. He looked sadly at the empty sleep cells; two hadn’t even made it to the ship. Gods, Lorin, I miss you. He had been the team archeologist, but he’d been much more than that to Aldiss.

It seemed like just a moment ago that his world had ended—though almost a year had passed.

What do you do when your world dies? There were no precedents, not that he was aware of, except perhaps the end of the D’narth. But no one could have prepared him for the loss of his city, in Kanador, or of Antana. He grasped the memdisc that hung upon a chain around his neck, one of the few things he’d brought with him.

He supposed he was a spaceman now, a man without a home.

He checked his arm. The slit where he’d been struck by a shard of burning crystal had healed with the smallest of scars. He was lucky, he supposed, though maybe he’d have been better off dead. He shook his head—there was no time for self-pity.

He was also fortunate that the auto protocol had initiated his awakening from the Sleep. Now it was time to bring the others out, too. Better their company than the bleakness in his own soul.

He ran through the procedure, starting with Rober, then Xandra, then Cat, setting a time delay between each.

When it was done, he put his head in his hands and cried until no more tears would come.

2015NewAbout the author

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

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

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

connectwiththeauthor
Website: http://www.jscottcoatsworth.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Blog Tour, Guest Post & Excerpt – Playing the Lines by J. Colby

Since this is my first official blog “tour”—I say tour but really, it’s more like a quick weekend get-away—I’d like to thank Charlie for giving me a chance to connect with you all!

Especially since I kind of emailed her out of the blue and prostrated myself at her feet. Okay it was slightly less dramatic than all that, but still, I’m grateful that she didn’t think I was a complete weirdo.

Why am I here? I’m here to pimp out my very first (ahhhhh!!) short story that Less Than Three Press is publishing for me, to be released July 22nd, 2015.

“If I were tired of you, I would have stopped walking when we passed the hotel,” he said. He knew it was a lie as soon as he said it. He’d promised he’d join Cory for dinner, and short of falling ill he wasn’t the type of person to back out on a promise.

“Would you have?”

He’d probably invited the question, but Elliot still hadn’t been expecting it and he was forced into giving it honest thought. He couldn’t help but look away though as he gave the question serious consideration.

In their careers, there was a lot of time spent doing things that pandered to clients or companies. Elliot was used to doing things he didn’t really enjoy. If he were honest with himself, he probably would have stayed even if he didn’t really want to. Except that right now he kind of wanted to. Cory seemed more interesting to him tonight, and he wanted to see more of that Cory, not the one who just flirted and smiled emptily. He wanted witty quips and the man who wanted to hear him talk.

“See?” Cory said. “You need to be more assertive. Stand up for yourself.”

Not liking the fact that once again Cory had clearly been able to tell just what he’d been thinking—or at least enough to know his feelings—Elliot frowned. It was more at himself than Cory, though. Maybe there was a lesson in poker faces that he could sign up for. How to Hide Your Thoughts 101. Yours for only five easy payments of $19.95. Surely there was something on the Shopping Channel—they sold everything.

“I stand up for myself when it matters,” he said after a long moment.

Cory’s disbelieving expression called him out on his rather obvious lie.

“I do,” he tried to insist, but it sounded weak even to him.

“And yet you don’t like me and I still managed to convince you to have dinner with me,” Cory said. He seemed nonplussed by the idea that Elliot didn’t like him.

“I don’t dislike you,” Elliot replied. It was true. Disliking something or someone was an active emotion. Up until tonight, he’d considered Cory a continued and necessary annoyance—and something to think about when he was bored and alone, not that he’d ever admit that—but that was about it. “And I need to eat. There didn’t seem any harm in having dinner with someone else.”

At least there hadn’t seemed like any harm in the idea until Cory had started acting so damn human. Now Elliot was wondering if he’d made a bad decision. He’d seen Cory charm people before and the last thing he needed was to fall for that charm.

“You don’t dislike me. Well, I certainly feel better now,” Cory said dryly.

Buy Links: Less Than Three Press * All Romance eBooks * Amazon.ca * Amazon.com * Kobo
*~*~*

While I’m definitely over the moon happy about finally getting my toes in the proverbial water, it has unfortunately pounded home the reminder that I am absolutely terrible at finishing things.

Like, really terrible. I’m pretty sure if the fate of the world rested on me actually finishing something… well, it was really nice knowing you all, and thank you Italians for inventing spaghetti. I’ve lived in my current apartment for two and a half years and I still haven’t finished unpacking. It’s that bad.

It probably doesn’t help that my standard mindset for anything is to do ALL THE THINGS. All of them. All at once. I’m like that at work too—which is great when you have to multi-task, but not so much when you’re trying to advance an existing plot.

I think what worked best when I was working on Playing the Lines was that I already had a definitive end in mind when I started writing. Though I might have to invest in one of those massive flip charts when it comes to something longer than 12,000 words. I doubt my landlord would be all that happy with me if I started writing plot points on my walls.

So if anyone has any advice on how not to get distracted by shiny new ideas every five seconds… please tell me your secret ways. I’m begging you.

Until then, I hope you’ll give Playing the Lines a chance, and I definitely hope you like it!

Find J. Colby: Dreamwidth * Twitter * GoodReads