Choosing Favourites

AKA how many times can I use the word favourite in a blog post.

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One question I see a lot is ‘What’s your favourite book you’ve written?’

And I always try to avoid the question. How do you pick your favourite? Or maybe, the truth is how do you admit to having a favourite? Gasp. Horror.

I do have a few books that are at the top of my list.

From The Blackbird Series:

Lorcan.  Lorcan is definitely my favourite from the Blackbird Anthology. I adore Ronan and Lorcan. They were such fun to write. And they had the most interesting time together.

From The Sin Bin:

This one is tricky. I love the entire series and all of the couples. I think The Caretaker is my fave, though. There’s something about Freddie and Tens’ relationship that just stands out to me from the others.

From my Standalones:

Hmm. I had a rough time with this one. My standalones are all so varied and even in different genres. But of them all, Found You is probably the one I’d choose.

it was fun to write and some of the lines still make me laugh so hard.

From my Cozies:

Oh, this one hurts. Cozy mysteries are my preferred genre to read and to write most days. I think Poisoned Primrose is going to be at the top of my list. To be honest, it’s at the top of  the entire list (even though I put it last.) And it all boils down to Motts, the main character. She’s the best character I’ve ever developed. I adore her and the story.

Guest Post – The Stark Divide

The Stark Divide - J. Scott CoatsworthJ. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out book one in the Ariadne Cycle: “The Stark Divide.” This is a re-release.

Some stories are epic.

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

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

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

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Get It On Amazon


Giveaway

Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour, and a signed paperback trilogy of the Oberon Cycle (Skythane, Lander and Ithani) – two winners! Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47131/?


Excerpt

“Dressler, schematic,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.

###

Anastasia Anatov leafed through her father, Dimitri’s, old paper journal. She liked to look through it once a day, to see his spidery handwriting and remember what he had been like. It was a bit old and dusty now, but it was one of her most cherished possessions.

She sighed and put it away in a storage nook in her lab.

She left the room and pulled herself gracefully along the runway, the central corridor of the ship, using the metal rungs embedded in the walls. She was much more comfortable in low or zero g than she was in Earth normal, where her tall, lanky form made her feel awkward around others. She was a loner at heart, and the emptiness of space appealed to her.

Her father had designed the Mission-class ships. It was something she rarely spoke of, but she was intensely proud of him. These ships were still imperfect, the combination of a hellishly complicated genetic code and after-the-fact fittings of mechanical parts, like the rungs she used now to move through the weightless environment.

Ana wondered if it hurt when someone drilled into the living tissue to install the mechanics, living quarters, and observation blisters that made the ship habitable. Her father had always maintained that the ship-minds felt no pain.

She wasn’t so sure. Men were often dismissive of the things they didn’t understand.

Either way, she was stuck on the small ship for the duration with two men, neither of whom were interested in her. The captain was gay, and Jackson was married.

Too bad the ship roster hadn’t included another woman or two.

She placed her hand on a hardened sensor callus next to the door valve and the ship obliged, recognizing her. The door spiraled open to show the viewport beyond.

She pulled herself into the room and floated before the wide expanse of transparent plasform, staring out at the seed being hauled behind them.

Nothing else mattered. Whatever she had to do to get this project launched, she would do it. She’d already made some morally questionable choices along the way—including looking the other way when a bundle of cash had changed hands at the Institute.

She was so close now, and she couldn’t let anything get in the way.

Earth was a lost cause. It was only a matter of time before the world imploded. Only the seeds could give mankind a fighting chance to go on.

From the viewport, there was little to see. The seed was a two-meter-long brown ovoid, made of a hard, dark organic material, scarred and pitted by the continual abrasion of the dust that escaped the great sails. So cold out there, but the seed was dormant, unfeeling.

The cold would keep it that way until the time came for its seedling stage.

She’d created three of the seeds with her funding. This one, bound for the asteroid 43 Ariadne, was the first. It was the next step in evolution beyond the Dressler and carried with it the hopes of all humankind.

It also represented ten years of her life and work.

Maybe, just maybe, we’re ready for the next step.

###

The crew’s third and final member, Jackson Hammond, hung upside down in the ship’s hold, grunting as he refit one of the feed pipes that carried the ship’s electronics through the bowels of this weird animal-mechanical hybrid. Although “up” and “down” were slight on a ship where the centrifugal force created a “gravity” only a fraction of what it was on Earth.

As the ship’s engineer, Jackson was responsible for keeping the mechanics functioning—a challenge in a living organism like the Dressler.

With cold, hard metal, one dealt with the occasional metal fatigue, poor workmanship, and at times just ass-backward reality. But the parts didn’t regularly grow or shrink, and it wasn’t always necessary to rejigger the ones that had fit perfectly just the day before. Even after ten years in these things, he still found it a little creepy to be riding inside the belly of the beast. It was too Jonah and the Whale for his taste.

Jackson rubbed the sweat away from his eyes with the back of his arm. As he shaved down the end of a pipe to make it fit more snugly against the small orifice in the ship’s wall, he touched the little silver cross that hung around his neck. It had been a present from his priest, Father Vincenzo, at his son Aaron’s First Communion in the Reformed Catholic Evangelical Church.

The boy was seven years old now, with a shock of red hair and green eyes like his dad, and his mother’s beautiful skin. He’d spent months preparing for his Communion Day, and Jackson remembered fondly the moment when his son had taken the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time, surprise registering on his little face at the strange taste of the wine.

Aaron’s Communion Day had been a high point for Jackson, just a week before his current mission. He was so proud of his two boys. Miss you guys. I’ll be home soon.

Lately he hadn’t been sleeping well, his dreams filled with a dark-haired, blue-eyed vixen. He was happily married. He shouldn’t be having such dreams.

Jackson shook his head. Being locked up in a tin can in space did strange things to a person sometimes. I should be home with Glory and the boys.

One way or another, this mission would be his last.

He’d been recruited as a teen.

###

At thirteen, Jackson had learned the basics of engineering doing black-tech work for the gangs that ran what was left of the Big Apple after the Rise—a warren of interconnected skyrises, linked mostly by boats and ropes and makeshift bridges.

Everything north of Twenty-Third was controlled by the Hex, a black-tech co-op that specialized in bootlegged dreamcasts, including modified versions that catered to some of the more questionable tastes of the North American States. South of Twenty-Third belonged to the Red Badge, a lawless group of technophiles involved in domestic espionage and wetware arts.

Jackson had grown up in the drowned city, abandoned by his mother and forced to rely on his own intelligence and instincts to survive in a rapidly changing world.

He’d found his way to the Red Badge and discovered a talent for ecosystem work, taking over and soon expanding one of the rooftop farms that supplied the drowned city with a subsistence diet. An illegal wetware upgrade let him tap directly into the systems he worked on, seeing the circuits and pathways in his head.

He increased the Badge’s food production fivefold and branched out beyond the nearly tasteless molds and edible fungi that thrived in the warm, humid environment.

It was on one of his rooftop “gardens” that his life had changed one warm summer evening.

He was underneath one of the condenser units that pulled water from the air for irrigation. All of eighteen years old, he was responsible for the food production for the entire Red Badge.

He’d run through the unit’s diagnostics app to no avail. Damned piece of shit couldn’t find a thing wrong.

In the end, it had come down to something purely physical—tightening down a pipe bolt where the condenser interfaced with the irrigation system.

Satisfied with the work, he stood, wiping the sweat off his bare chest, and glared into the setting sun out over the East River. It was more an inland sea now, but the old names still stuck.

There was a faint whirring behind him, and he spun around. A bug drone hovered about a foot away, glistening in the sun. He stared at it for a moment, then reached out to swat it down. Probably from the Hex.

It evaded his grasp, and he felt a sharp pain in his neck.

He went limp, and everything turned black as he tumbled into one of his garden beds.

He awoke in Fargo, recruited by AmSplor to serve in the space agency’s Frontier Station, his life changed irrevocably.

###

A strange sensation brought him back to the present.

His right hand was wet. Startled, he looked down. It was covered with blood.

Dressler, we have a problem, he said through his private affinity-link with the ship-mind.”


Author Bio

J. Scott CoatsworthScott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.

He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

A Rainbow Award winning and runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, Liminal Fiction, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

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

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

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

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

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jscottcoatsworth/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth?from_search=true

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

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

LOGO - Other Worlds Ink 

A Desk By Any Other Name

I’ve wanted to do a post like this for a while. It’s just a silly post about the contents of my desk drawer (and nightstand.)

So, this is my desk drawer. It’s mostly organized. I clean it out every couple of months because it starts to irritate me.

Nothing earth-shattering. Two little baskets with post-notes, ink refills, and stapler refills, even though I never use my stapler.

Stapler. (Anyone else say that in the same voice as the guy from Office Space? Just me?)

Stamps, international and regular. They’re covering up address labels and a checkbook because…no one needs that information.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Now, technically, this isn’t my desk drawer. This is my nightstrand drawer but most of the things on the right should be in my desk drawer.  I often write/work in bed so I keep some of my supplies in my nightstand.

The silver case has some of my pens (Should I do a blog post about my massive pen collection?) The blue folder has post-notes and a notepad. It’s from Cocoa Daisy. Then there’s a collection of drawing/sketch pads, a postcard notebook, and other random nonsense.

Oh! And there’s a sewing kit I’ve owned for twenty years and NEVER USED ONCE.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

 

This inspired a vlog for my patrons so if you’re interested check that out here:

My Patreon

So, what’s in your desk drawer?

Judge a Book By Its Cover

Just a fun post this week with a few of my favourite book covers from 2019 thus far. I couldn’t include all the ones I loved and there is no particular order here.

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune by Roselle Lim

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang  (A fellow Autistic, yay!)

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Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

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The Candle And The Flame by Nafiza Azad

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Broken Bone China by Laura Childs

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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A Divided Mind by M. Billiter

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Zed by MV Ellis

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There have been so many beautiful and/or interesting book covers this year. What have been some of your favourites?

 

The Herb-a-Swore

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If you’ve read any of my books, you’ll know I LOVE a good swear. Sometimes inventive, sometimes conventional, I’ve rarely made a supposed ‘bad’ word I didn’t like.

In Here Comes the Son, I got incredibly creative with Lalo, one of the main characters. He doesn’t curse in a way you’d expect.

So here are a few of his greatest hits.

  1. Holy Crumbs
  2. Fudgesicles
  3. Son of a Carrot
  4. Son of a Cabbage
  5. Oh My Basil
  6. Basil It Up
  7. For the Love of Oregano
  8. For Fennel’s Sake
  9. What the Fennel?
  10. Crumbs

I think ‘basil it up’ is probably my favourite.

The Mile High….City

You thought I was going somewhere naughty with that, didn’t you?

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I’ve been to Denver probably four or five times. My husband was born just north of the city and lived there for the first forty years of his life. He knows the city inside and out.

He was a great resource when I began writing Here Comes The Son.

There are loads of interesting places and buildings to see in the Mile High City (The Library is my husband’s favourite.)

I thought I’d focus on food, partly because it features quite prominently in my story.

So here are ten amazing restaurants to check out if you’re ever in the area.

  1. Denver Biscuit Company – yum
  2. Bar Dough
  3. Uncle
  4. Maria Empanada
  5. Potager
  6. Cattivella
  7. Vinh Xuong Bakery
  8. Aiko Pops
  9. Rioja
  10. Fruition

There are loads more, but these are definitely top of my list.

And now, I’m hungry.