Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Book Blitz: Mimic by C.L. Denault

Mimic | C.L. Denault

The Prodigy Chronicles #2

Publication date: March 22nd 2019

Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

In 2012, one cycle of an ancient calendar system came to a close. Humanity predicted its downfall, but it wasn’t the end of their evolutionary climb. It was the beginning.

Willow Kent is discovering that life as a second-phase prodigy comes at a price. Trapped in the London Core, her choices are limited, made difficult by her forbidden romance with Reece and the presence of a new commanding officer who establishes harsh rules.

With unpredictable skills and a growing distrust in her birth parents, she is struggling to play the Core’s game. But when opportunity arises in the form of a mysterious shapeshifter, Willow realizes there’s more to her own evolution than meets the eye.

She soon learns that keeping secrets is a key move, and the more dangerous they are, the greater her need to evolve into the powerful prodigy nature intended her to become.

But those closest to her have their own secrets, and her status has made her an easy target for betrayal. Who will she turn to, when nothing is as it seems?

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Author Bio:

C.L. Denault is a speculative fiction writer who loves dreaming up tales of adventure and intrigue.

A former systems analyst, she gave up her nerdy code-writing skills to care for her family (including a son with special needs), and currently lives among the vast stretches of cornfields in Illinois.

Writing and working out are her biggest passions, along with drinking coffee and watching sci-fi. When she’s not hanging out with her husband and kids, she can usually be found at a library or tucked away in the shadowy corner of a hip coffeehouse. She’s also been glimpsed sneaking into her garage, late at night, to work on her time machine.

She enjoys connecting with people—especially those from other planets, nearby dimensions, and the future. To find her, just visit her website or social media pages. Or use a Stargate. Whichever is easiest.

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Book Blitz: Bad Luck Charlie by Scott Baron

Bad Luck Charlie | Scott Baron

The Dragon Mage #1

Publication date: March 15th 2019

Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Charlie Gault had all the luck. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the good kind.

It was looking like Lady Luck had quite a grudge against him. In fact, at this point merely crashing the multi-billion-dollar ship he had helped design would have felt like winning the lottery compared to his current dilemma. If only he were so lucky.

Things had started off all right––that is, until a freak wormhole unexpectedly swallowed his ship, leaving him stranded on an unknown planet far, far from home.

With the crew’s lives at stake, Charlie had no choice but to stop his whining, put on his big boy pants, and step up to save them all, and much to his surprise, it actually looked like he might succeed. Of course, that was when things really went sideways in ways that made merely crashing on an uncharted planet seem like a walk in the park.

Suddenly faced with alien space pirates, talking dragons, and something that seemed very much like magic, Charlie found himself adrift, feeling like a space age Robinson Crusoe––only his man Friday was a blue-skinned alien, and this wasn’t just a desert island. It was a whole new galaxy.

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Author Bio:

A native Californian, Scott Baron was born in Hollywood, which he claims may be the reason for his off-kilter sense of humor.

Before taking up residence in Venice Beach, he spent a few years studying abroad before settling into the film and television industry, where he has worked off and on for some time.

Scott not only writes, but is also involved in indie film and theater both in the U.S. and abroad.

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New Release Blitz: We are the Catalyst by Tash McAdam

We are the Catalyst | Tash McAdam

The Psionics #2

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 25, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 106,900

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, cliffhanger, espionage, spies, military, young adult

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Blurb

Kidnapped and imprisoned, telepathic children are forced to gather military intelligence. Repeatedly stripped of their memories, they live in ignorance of the world above. You can’t tell anyone a secret if you don’t remember it. It’s not child abuse if no one knows you exist.

Epsilon 17 appears to be just another mindless tool, empty of thought. But it’s a lie. The carefully constructed shell she hides behind protects her from their mind wipes. One day she will destroy the Institute. All she needs is a chance.

That chance could be Toby, if he doesn’t die first. He should never have left the safety of the suburbs, but cornered in an alley by a gang, he’s out of options. Of course, if he realized he had superpowers, he probably wouldn’t have been so worried. Unfortunately, they come at the cost of a finger, and his old life. Injured and panicked, he would have stayed on the dirty ground until the Institute came for him, if it wasn’t for Serena. Name-taking, ass-kicking Serena. She can punch through walls and practically fly, surely she can keep him safe…

But the Institute is sending Epsilon 17 to hunt him down, and she’s never lost a trail.

Can ARC, the mysterious group Serena works for, protect him? He has to get his powers in order, fast. It’s time for Toby to stand up for himself. An underground war is raging, and Toby’s just been drafted.

Join NineStar Press Authors Alex Harrow, L. A. Ashton, and Tash McAdam on FACEBOOK for a virtual launch party of their releases, EMPIRE OF LIGHT, ECHOES, and WE ARE THE CATALYST!

Find the party HERE. The event is February 25th from 8-10 PM CST, but feel free to drop by and stay as long as you wish!

For more info on each author and their books, visit:

EMPIRE OF LIGHT by Alex Harrow
ECHOES by L.A. Ashton
WE ARE THE CATALYST by Tash McAdam

Stop by for exclusive snippets, character takeovers, prizes, and swag!

Excerpt

We are the Catalyst
Tash McAdam © 2019
All Rights Reserved

E17

I’m floating, weightless, sensationless. The gel covers my body, every inch of my skin submerged and cushioned. The drowning sounds almost pleasant when I describe it this way, but my eyes are covered, liquid is pressing against my lips. It’s in my ears, filling my nose, dulling my senses. I’m drowning in breathable fluid, oxygenated goop. The sensation of lungs pleading for air lasts the short minutes I can hold my breath…then I have to inhale and my body is flooded.

I scream. The noise vibrates soundlessly in my throat, and then my body goes limp as my insides adjust, and my brain revels in the fresh oxygen. This isn’t new to me, I’ve been here before. I know how the gel works, giving me the oxygen my body requires at the cost of instinctive terror and panic that overrides all logic. It turns out there’s no getting used to suffocation. Even once the lungs realize they can drag oxygen from the fluid, it’s an emotional drowning.

You lose every sense of who you are like this, blurring at the edges until disappearing into nothingness, every sense of self fading as you drift out of your body, into a void. The sensor pads connected to my poor, bald head were itchy when they were applied, now they may as well not be there—except I know they’ll still be doing their jobs. The wireless connections to the computer equipment in the laboratory above me will continue to let the doctors know when I have disappeared, when I can’t think anymore.

It comes too fast. It always does. Without any variation in pressure or sound around me, my mind rebels and flails for anything to hold onto. It takes me hours, maybe. It could be minutes or weeks, I suppose, but I think it takes me hours to calm myself, to drag back the knowledge I have skin, I have a border, and I’m impenetrable and separate from what is around me.

This is the Tank.

In the Tank, there’s no gauge of time, nothing to touch or feel, no sensory hooks to hold onto. Insulated against life, I can’t do anything except hang there, helpless. There’s no one here for me to reach for, this time. Sometimes there will be others—different people, different ages. I reach out to them, feel for them with the telepathic powers that are both the reason I suffer and the only thing saving me from true madness. Even momentary connections with others remind me I’m not alone. I reach out, but they never feel me. They are truly alone, isolated from everything and everyone.

I’m the only one who survives the Tank. And I don’t know why. Of course, the scientists would never tell me anything. I’d be punished if I asked. I’m supposed to come out blank and empty and unknowing, like the others.

Thanks to the Tank, and the loneliness of my life, I spend a lot of time speculating why I’m different. I think it might be the dreams keeping me safe. I dream of a boy, a boy who runs in the sunshine and plays a sport with bats and balls. A boy who lives a blessedly unremarkable life. I think I made him up, to save me from the nothing. Could I have invented a place to go and hide in vibrant experiences and Technicolor feeling? Not like the Tank, where there’s nothing, nothing at all.

I’ve been in fourteen times as far as I remember. Other people have been dipped opposite me, or next to me, ten of those times. I feel their thoughts, their confusion and panic. I can’t see them. I can’t see anything at all except for vague shadows which pass my prison. Once a hand was pressed to my Tank, a black blur against the grey dark. The thoughts buzzing in the person were angry and desperate. They wanted to help me, but they couldn’t. I don’t know who it was.

Today, I’m alone. There’s no one else being wiped. Even if there were others, I can’t Project—send thoughts or feelings out of myself—so there’s no way for me to communicate. It seems to me if we connected, maybe they’d stay.

Instead, I talk to myself all the time, even under the draining numbness of the gel I drown in. It does something to me, to them, to us. As soon as I’m submerged, I can barely sense at all, the techs and other people mere scratching tickles at the surface of my consciousness, not like the normal swirling chaos of the thoughts always spinning around me, every fleeting miniscule flicker of awareness loud and seething for my attention. For the vast majority of my life, I have to block everything, block it all out so I don’t lose myself in the minds of others.

Not in the Tank, though. My powers are muted and tamped down by whatever is happening to me. And the others? Eventually their minds recoil at the endless nothing and they withdraw into the safety of white noise, the illusion of peace.

Then the wipe begins—a skull full of bees buzzing, crawling through memories and erasing the pathways making someone’s self. People fade away as I listen to their mental screams and pleas for mercy. They’re loud, then, as they beg for their memories, but the cries always dissolve into whispers and then nothing, nothing at all.

They cease to exist.

I don’t know why I alone remain “myself” in the Tank; perhaps I’m mad and there is no me. Maybe all I ever do is float here in the numbing absence of everything and tell myself stories. But I don’t believe so. I’m Epsilon 17, and I remember what that means. It is the name they gave me—not one I want, but it defines me, nonetheless. Epsilon is my class; I’m Epsilon Class, number seventeen. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon…there are mostly Beta class here—the lowest, the least gifted. Alpha talents are so low the Institute has no interest in taking them on as students. That is what the Shepherds call them…call us, when they speak to us. Alpha talents get to live their lives away from this.

We are “students,” as though they are our teachers, here to help and educate us. In their heads, they call us sheep. They have no idea I can hear them—hear everything they think. They are trained to hide themselves, as I have taught myself to do, and it never crosses their minds they aren’t as safe as they believe. Because they are wrong about me. They have no idea I can tuck myself into a secret space inside my head and resist the nothingness of the Tank. Maintain my sense of self. Protect my memories. They know I’m special, but they have no idea how strong I really am…and how much stronger I’ll be. Every time they leave me in the Tank, I come back to my memories faster, and I hate a little more.

Soon all there will be left of me is hate.

This is how I stay myself in the Tank. Instead of waiting for it to end and feeling my mind snap when I realize it never, ever will—I have been here forever and will stay here forever—I take all the scraps of me, all the pieces making up who I am, and tuck them away, out of sight, in a private bunker in my mind.

While I’m suspended, I disappear into my dreams, if I’m alone. When there are others, I always wait until they have gone, in case one day one of them stays with me. They never do.

Once I’ve hidden I don’t come out until I’m sure I’m safe. Until I feel a soft, scratchy sensation and smell the faint, fresh bleach of my sheets. The triggers my body remembers. When I’m tucked up in my bed, I come back to reality, I realize I am not the boy-who-runs. And I remember everything they tried to take from me.

The moments before it comes back are the only times I feel safe.

It wasn’t always this way. When I was a child, I didn’t remember at all. They cleaned me the same way they clean everyone, and I became a fresh slate, a new start. You can’t tell anyone a secret if you don’t remember it. It’s not child abuse if no one knows you exist. We are the perfect soldiers in a war most of us repeatedly forget. We are forced to participate and then erased as though we were never there, gifted in a way people don’t expect and can’t plan for.

Mindreaders. Telepaths. Psychics. There are many names, but here at the Institute, they like the scientific terms. We are the Psionics, and they use us without shame.

If you are powerful, The Institute is there, listening to your thoughts, guiding your hands when you are writing, perhaps sending you dreams. Even controlling your every move like a puppet. Assignments can last for years if the Government wants a consistent presence monitoring one individual. You get to know them when they’re your target. I’ve been in heads which haunt my dreams. It makes me wish I did forget, but never enough to let go.

Two years ago, I was assigned to a political leader in Muntgummery, near the East, for eight months. He was a bad man. He liked to hurt women, and I had to watch it so the Institute could blackmail him. The Government knew the city was going to drown in the ravenous coastal waters as they rose and wanted to control who was saved. At the end, I worked with a Projector, who used my knowledge of the target to get into his head and overtake him completely. The city was abandoned to the flooding shortly after. The top Test-scorers were evacuated, and then the tube tunnels were sealed, Citizens, slumdwellers, and refugees alike were left to drown. I remember them screaming as we flew over the rioting streets.

The list of secrets I know is long, and I have nowhere and no way to write it down, so I keep them in my mind. It’s safe there because, though the business we are in is to take secrets, nobody knows I have any, and so nobody even looks. I hide everything under a blank, unmarked surface, and their probes slide over me like I’m invisible, or empty like the others—an untouched piece of paper waiting to be filled with their knowledge and used to affect the course of the world.

I have been aware for five years, give or take. It’s possible I have remembered myself before but didn’t manage to hide it and was wiped so I really did forget again.

But I learned.

The first time I came back to myself, they tried to wipe me again and again. Three times they put me back in the Tank, until I thought I was lost, gone and mad. But then it happened. I found the way—the way to leave what they were doing behind with my body—and keep my mind safe inside another life. A better life.

I don’t know how many days passed after that dip, but when I came to, I was restrained on a cold, hard table. I felt a grasp at my thoughts, a touch against my mind. I knew what it meant—they would put me back in, drown me again to kill these memories. We’re not supposed to remember the Tank. We’re not supposed to remember who we are. I scampered away inside my head and drew myself into the smallest ball possible, shielding my thoughts. I was small and tight and tucked away in a corner, and I tried so hard to hide and make the man go away. I felt him grope around—a blind man fumbling through my head. He must have been satisfied, accepted the lack he found inside me. He thought I was empty, and they could start again.

This is my story, and I’m putting it away to keep it safe. That way when I disappear again, I can find all the thoughts I’ve had, see the feelings I stored here. I don’t know how it works, but it is enough for me that it does.

Because this is my mind, my secret self, the weapon with which I’ll one day destroy everyone who has a hand in this. I’m Epsilon 17, and I’m going to bring this regime down in flames.

The Tank fades away and I’m gone. The boy’s packing a bag, this time. I think he’s frightened. I wonder what he has to be scared of, this boy with parents who ruffle his hair and friends who shout with laughter.

Meet the Author

Tash is a 30-year-old teacher candidate at UBC in Canada, although they were born and raised in the hilly sheepland of Wales (and have lived in South Korea and Chile before settling down in Vancouver). Tash identifies as trans and queer and uses the neutral pronoun ‘they’.

They’re also an English teacher and fully equipped to defend that grammar! They have a degree in computer science so their nerd chat makes sense and a couple of black belts in karate which are very helpful when it comes to writing fight scenes.

Their novel writing endeavours began at the age of eight and included passing floppy discs back and forth with a friend at swimming lessons. Since then, Tash has spent time falling in streams, out of trees, learning to juggle, dreaming about zombies, dancing, painting, learning and then teaching Karate, running away with the circus, and of course, writing.

They write fast-paced, plot-centric action adventure with diverse casts. They write the books that they wanted to read as a queer kid and young adult (and still do!)

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New Release Blitz: Empire of Light by Alex Harrow

Empire of Light | Alex Harrow

Voyance #1

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 25, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 102,000

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, gay, pansexual, demisexual, sci-fi, romance

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords

Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Blurb

Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill.

In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.

Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As Aris slips away from Damian and his control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on.

Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one minute and kiss him the next.

With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.

Excerpt

Empire of Light
Alex Harrow © 2019
All Rights Reserved

One: Shootings with a Chance of Explosions

Funny how I always had to be the guy who ended up with a gun to his head.

“I thought you said this was going to be easy,” Aris said somewhere to my right. His voice was thick, the words choked out past the gun shoved underneath his jaw. The two Reds who kept us pinned were all broad shoulders and raw muscle. Huge white guys. Buzz cuts. Built like fucking tanks. In the low light of a fading sunset spilling into the empty warehouse, their leather coats gleamed like congealing blood.

The run had started out simple enough: get in, dump the cargo—a couple dozen barrels of diesel and some tech we’d snatched off a derailed train—and get the hell out. The place’d been abandoned for years, just another slouching ruin on the outskirts of Low Side. The perfect hiding spot to stash away things you didn’t want the Watch to find, while waiting for the highest bidder to jump the gun. A surefire way to some quick and easy cash and still get to my real job for the night.

Standing there with my face mashed against the crumbling brick wall, a gun barrel against my skull, it looked more like a surefire way straight to a cell in the Finger of Light.

If we were lucky.

The guy above me seemed happy to put a bullet into my brainpan and chalk both Aris and me up as “casualties, resisting arrest.” The Watch, safeguards of the Empire, the Consolidated Nations at their best. To protect and serve. Right.

I couldn’t just tell our dear upstanding Reds to go ahead and stick their guns and handcuffs up their asses because we kind of were on the same team. I might be running the Empire’s off-the-books hits for extra cash, but officially, I didn’t exist. Blurting out I was on their boss’s payroll wouldn’t get me anything but a bullet to the head and my body dumped into the East River. Talk about employment perks.

That’s what I got for double-booking myself. Fucking Murphy’s Law.

And worse, I’d dragged Aris into it.

“Guess Jay was sugarcoating it a little when she said there might be slight complications.”

Someone ratted us out. No way the Watch had just shown up here, far from their usual patrol routes, without any reason. The whole thing’d been a sting from the get-go, and once I found out who’d set us up—

My fingers twitched for my Colt. My Colt that lay cold and useless five feet away from me. Slim chance I’d be able to shoot both Reds before one of them got to either Aris or me, but I might get lucky and get the drop on one of them. Especially if I could piss him off enough he got stupid. At the very least I could distract them from Aris.

“You know, I kind of need to be somewhere. And I’d appreciate a little more leg room here,” I said and squirmed under the Red’s grip.

Honestly, by now I probably should’ve memorized some of the regulars’ names or something. To me, they all looked the same. All fists ready to punch and guns ready to fire; neatly wrapped in black uniforms and their trademark red coats. Not like this was the first time either. By now, the Watch should issue us a punch card for frequent visits, maybe something with a rewards program.

“Shut up.”

The Red jerked me around and slammed my head into the murky stained-glass window to my right. Point taken. A distant rushing filled my ears. Spots started to slow-dance in front of my vision. I went down hard, twisting away from the Red’s reach and blindly fumbling for my Colt. I’d barely moved before his boot came down on my fingers with a dry crunch. I bit back a grunt that came out more like a breathless scream.

“Next time it’ll be your head,” the Red—I mentally tagged him as Captain Crunch—said, towering above me, gun aimed at my forehead. If he shot me from that angle, there wouldn’t be enough of my head left for Aris to scrape out of the wall cracks behind me.

Here was hoping he had more fun beating the shit out of me than making shooting me look like it’d been his only option.

The Red didn’t shoot me. Instead, his knee dug into the small of my back, his free hand going for a pair of handcuffs. “In the name of the Empire of Light, I hereby place you under arrest for—”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” Aris said.

He’d been standing perfectly still, his head slightly bowed, a model of the “hands above your head and don’t make a move” arrestee. The unthreatening kind. The kind who came quietly and wouldn’t even think to make any trouble for our dear upstanding officers of the Watch who only did their job.

When he straightened, brushing away a few errant blond curls that’d slipped out of his loose ponytail, a slow smile curved his lips. A dangerous smile, turning positively radiant until it teetered on the edge of manic as he glanced from the guy above me to the one holding him.

“In fact, I’d suggest you two start running. This is going to get messy.”

His eyes flicked to me. “Damian, stay down. And get out.”

And like that, all color drained out of his eyes until they were a stark, milky white.

Oh shit.

“Aris, no!”

Too late.

The Red pinning me tensed. He slapped his hand on his right ear to call out for reinforcements. His headset shorted out with a buzz and the burned-copper smell of fried electronics. The guy holding Aris cursed and flinched away, as if he’d been zapped by a high-voltage fence.

Aris didn’t move. His expression wiped completely blank, like someone’d snuffed out the lights behind his eyes, now fixed on some point far above me.

Then he blinked.

I felt the zing of the Voyance crack through the air like a power surge. The window wall at my back blew up in a shower of broken glass and toppling bricks.

Sacred, bleeding fuck!

I managed to duck and roll away before half the wall collapsed on top of me. I flattened myself onto the ground and then scrambled to my feet, cursing and coughing through a cloud of red-brick dust settling on the crumbling remains scattered all over the cement floor and the cracked pavement outside.

The explosion hit the Red above me completely by surprise. I only spared him a quick glance to make sure his hunched form wasn’t moving, and he wasn’t faking being unconscious. Or dead. A slow trickle of blood ran down his temple where one of the flying bricks must’ve hit him. People died from less. I didn’t push my luck.

I grabbed my Colt, its weight solid and familiar against my stiff, throbbing fingers.

“Aris?”

“Over here.” His voice was a thin thread, fraying at the edges. “Told you to get out.”

I ignored that last bit. Aris stood only a few feet away from me, his back pressed against the remnants of the wall. His face was gray, and he was trembling badly; he probably would’ve fallen over if not for the second Red who kept him pinned.

“Fucking Voyant,” the Red snarled, gun shoved against Aris’s temple, ready to put him down. As if Aris was nothing but a rabid animal.

Aris stood perfectly still, blood running out his nose—a steady drip down the collar of his shirt. Looking at him, knowing how easily I could lose him, hurt worse than all the bruises and broken bones any Red could ever give me.

“Damian—”

The Red’s finger tightened around the trigger. I shot him in the head. His body sagged sideways and hit the ground with a meaty thud, his gun slipping uselessly from his fingers.

“Just to be clear,” I said to the body at my feet. “He’s my fucking Voyant, so back the fuck off.”

Join NineStar Press Authors Alex Harrow, L. A. Ashton, and Tash McAdam on FACEBOOK for a virtual launch party of their releases, EMPIRE OF LIGHT, ECHOES, and WE ARE THE CATALYST!

Find the party HERE. The event is February 25th from 8-10 PM CST, but feel free to drop by and stay as long as you wish!

For more info on each author and their books, visit:

EMPIRE OF LIGHT by Alex Harrow
ECHOES by L.A. Ashton
WE ARE THE CATALYST by Tash McAdam

Stop by for exclusive snippets, character takeovers, prizes, and swag!

 

Meet the Author

Alex Harrow is a genderqueer, pansexual, and demisexual author of queer science fiction and fantasy. Alex’ pronouns are they/them.

When not writing diversity with a chance of explosions, Alex is a high school English teacher, waging epic battles against comma splices, misused apostrophes, and anyone under the delusion that the singular ‘they’ is grammatically incorrect.

A German immigrant, Alex has always been drawn to language and stories. They began to write when they realized that the best guarantee to see more books with queer characters was to create them. Alex cares deeply about social justice and wants to see diverse characters, including LGBTQ+ protagonists, in more than the stereotypical coming out story.

Alex currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with their equally geeky wife, outnumbered by three adorable feline overlords, and what could not possibly be too many books.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest


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New Release Blitz: Severed by Shona Husk

Severed | Shona Husk

Precinct One #1

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 25, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

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

Length: 79,600

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, alternate universe, drug use/addiction, law enforcement, dark, dystopia, doctors, wings, menage

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads

Blurb

Halle Ish, one of Velli’s elite police Arrows, is shot down during a Precinct One riot. Wounded and unable to fly, she tries to hide and avoid capture, knowing that if she is found by the razor gangs or Clipper Sect they will sever her wings. She needs to get out of Precinct One.

Avin Lent was once a promising medical student, but he started sniffing Mumble to beat the stress and is now the doctor to one of the biggest gangs in Precinct One—while not part of the Clipper Sect, they are just as dangerous. He knows he is only as useful as his next surgery and they would have no qualms about killing him. Only Jarro is keeping him safe.

Jarro Coblic is deep undercover and has been for a year. Immersed in the gang, he suspects his hands will never be clean again. When he finds the wounded Arrow, he knows he can’t turn her over even though everyone is looking for her. With his lover’s help, they hide her and heal her wing.

All the while, falling for her. He prays Avin will not crumble and reveal their secret as Jarro tries to figure out a way to get them all out of Precinct One before the Sect and the gangs bring the full wrath of Velli on Precinct One. Tearing the place down can’t come soon enough, but there will be blood before the slate can be washed clean.

Excerpt

Severed
Shona Husk © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

There was blood everywhere. Avin needed to clean the room and his instruments before the next person arrived. Real surgeons didn’t work like this. His hands shook as he scrubbed and sterilized. He was tempted to skip that step and let his patients die of infection. But if something happened, he’d start losing toes…another toe. Not his fingers though because he needed them. As long as he was useful, the Tower gang would let him live.

If this was living, this was his punishment.

He mopped the floor. No one else arrived. Perhaps the cops had moved on to a different gang territory. Ever since the Clippers and the Bridge-side gang had attacked the central courthouse in Velli, the cops had been putting the pressure on the gangs of Industrial 13. Which, in turn, put pressure on him. Spending a night sewing up arrow wounds wasn’t his idea of fun, yet it was better than the other job they’d once had him doing—cutting women’s wings so they couldn’t fly anymore. The mop slid out of his hand. His fingers struggled to grab the handle to pick it up.

He was just tired.

He’d skimped on the anesthetic for his patients and there were a couple of vials left over. He licked his lower lip, already imagining the slightly sweet tingle as he inhaled what was known as Mumble on the streets.

If the Tower boss knew he stashed it, Avin would be in trouble. But after tonight, he deserved a sniff.

Satisfied the room was clean, even though the scent of blood lingered beneath the cleaning product, Avin opened the fridge. Behind some bags of blood were two small green vials. He’d leave one for later.

He knocked over a bag of blood as he reached in. His hand shook more than usual. How long had it been since he’d last inhaled? A few days at most. The boss was careful to give him just enough to keep him hooked, but not enough to make him useless.

The vial was cold against his palm.

He shouldn’t, but he wouldn’t sleep tonight without it. He wanted to forget he was even here. If he could go back three years… He cracked the top and got his first scent of Mumble. While he couldn’t go back, he could at least numb himself to the reality.

He brought the vial to his nose, the cold plastic against his top lip. Jarro would be annoyed. He wouldn’t say anything, but there’d be that look of disappointment in his gray eyes and the clenching of his jaw. It was enough to make Avin hesitate, but only for a moment. Then he inhaled, and the first whiff of Mumble trickled up his nose and into his lungs.

A groan escaped.

He was no better than an addict. While he didn’t pay with money, he still paid in loyalty and blood. He closed his eyes and inhaled the rest of the vial.

With his eyes still closed he took a couple of deep breaths. The drug spread through his lungs, and he felt the exact moment it hit his bloodstream. A cold buzz that took the edge off reality. In a few minutes, he’d have the typical Mumble of a user and the inability to do much more than stumble along with the support of a wall.

He knew the signs and the side effects, and how to use it medically and recreationally. Four years of med school had taught him that. It had also given him the habit. Mumble had helped him sleep after long shifts at the hospital and long days studying.

Avin dropped the vial in the trash with the rest of the waste. Bloodied bandages, arrow tips and shafts, needles and empty tubes of surgical glue. Just another day in Industrial 13. He turned off the lights, his mouth starting to feel pleasantly numb and his muscles loose, and made his way slowly, leaning on the wall, up the stairs to his room.

If Jarro found the extra Mumble in their apartment, he’d go spare.

He’d be asleep before Jarro got home. No doubt Jarro had been busy killing cops. There was too much blood on both their hands. The city-state of Velli would be a better place if Avin let the gang members die on the table.

Maybe if enough died he’d be able to leave. Start again. Get clean. His lips couldn’t turn up in a smile, and the laugh that bubbled up sounded more like choking.

His legs gave way and he sat heavily.

This batch was strong; the real stuff, not the cheap shit the gang sold to users. Avin rested his head against the wall; the cracked surface was cool against his temple.

Eyes closed, he let go of reality, happy to float in the numb space caused by Mumble where thoughts drifted past but didn’t catch and hold and they had no effect. All the violence and death and blood—he could remember it and see it, but from here it didn’t matter. Nothing did.

Footsteps made Avin open his eyes. The heavy tread of a man in boots. It took a couple of heartbeats for him to be able to focus on the black-clad man now standing a few steps below on the staircase and peering at him.

“You’ve been sniffing again.” Jarro frowned. A line of blood marked his cheek, and his dark hair was pulled back into a knot.

Avin tried to speak but his tongue was thick, and his lips didn’t obey. How long had Avin been sitting here? A breath, maybe two? From the stiffness of his back as Jarro hauled him up, Avin had been sitting for far longer than a few breaths even if he couldn’t reconcile the loss of time

He tripped up the stairs, but Jarro kept him upright so he didn’t land on his face or break anything. Mumble also caused stumble. It was funny, but he couldn’t laugh or share.

Jarro tugged at Avin’s clothes. “You smell like a chop shop.”

That’s what happens when you spend the best part of the night up to your elbows in blood and guts. Avin tried to help, but he was still too uncoordinated, and his hands got in the way.

“I know why you do it, but if you don’t stop, you will die here.” There was an edge in Jarro’s voice. What had he seen tonight?

Avin glanced up. Jarro made it sound as though there was another choice. There were no options once in the Industrial 13 precinct. No one got out unless as a corpse or sold. No one wanted to live here.

He didn’t want to live here, but drug debts weren’t easy to clear, apparently. And if he took off, they’d hunt him or his family down, and he had no desire to see his womb brother or his sisters and parents hurt because he screwed up. He’d done enough damage to his family.

Jarro grabbed Avin’s shirt and gave him a shake. “Are you listening to me? I don’t want to die here.”

Was he talking about leaving? Actually leaving.

Sounds bubbled past his lips but didn’t make words.

Jarro gave a cold laugh. “Can’t argue back when you’ve been sniffing.” He stripped off Avin’s shirt and undid his pants, Jarro’s touch lingered for a moment. The heat was almost enough to cut through the fog.

What had started as simple protection—pick the roughest, meanest bastard—had become something more. Yeah, Jarro could be cold and he kept more secrets than Avin had seen bodies, but he’d never once hurt him.

It was more than luck. Avin lifted his hand and touched Jarro’s cheek. The gesture was clumsy and not the soft touch that he’d intended.

Jarro took his hand and shook his head. “Not tonight. Not while you’re dreaming on that shit.” But he leaned in and pressed his lips to Avin’s cheek.

At that moment, he wished he hadn’t caved in to the hollow need of Mumble. What he wanted was Jarro, but he was already pulling away and drawing off his clothes.

“Get a shower, and then we can get to some sleep.” Jarro dropped his shirt on the floor. “I’ll make sure you don’t slip and crack your head open.”

Then Jarro guided him to what they called a bathroom. More of a wet room with hot, running water. There was no bath, and the mirror was rusted and cracked. Like everything else here, it was what it was, and no one expected more.

He glanced at Jarro. Except Jarro.

Jarro had crossed city-state borders after pissing off another gang. He’d ended up working for the Tower gang by luck and chance. Ended up in his bed after too much to drink.

But talking of fleeing, again?

That was dangerous.

Jarro needed to watch his mouth.

Meet the Author

Shona Husk is the author of over forty books that range from sensual to scorching, and cover the contemporary, paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi romance genres. Her most recent series are Face the Music, Blood and Silver, and Annwyn.

As well as writing romance she also writes sci-fi for the Takamo Universe game and urban fantasy under another pen name.

She lives in Western Australia and when she isn’t writing or reading she loves to cook, cross stitch and research places she’d one day like to travel.

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Cover Reveal: Mimic by C.L. Denault

Mimic | C.L. Denault

The Prodigy Chronicles #2

Publication date: March 22nd 2019

Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

In 2012, one cycle of an ancient calendar system came to a close.

Humanity predicted its downfall, but it wasn’t the end of their evolutionary climb. It was the beginning.

Willow Kent is discovering that life as a second-phase prodigy comes at a price.

Trapped in the London Core, her choices are limited, made difficult by her forbidden romance with Reece and the presence of a new commanding officer who establishes harsh rules. With unpredictable skills and a growing distrust in her birth parents, she is struggling to play the Core’s game.

But when opportunity arises in the form of a mysterious shapeshifter, Willow realizes there’s more to her own evolution than meets the eye. She soon learns that keeping secrets is a key move, and the more dangerous they are, the greater her need to evolve into the powerful prodigy nature intended her to become.

But those closest to her have their own secrets, and her status has made her an easy target for betrayal. Who will she turn to, when nothing is as it seems?

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Author Bio:

C.L. Denault is a speculative fiction writer who loves dreaming up tales of adventure and intrigue. A former systems analyst, she gave up her nerdy code-writing skills to care for her family (including a son with special needs), and currently lives among the vast stretches of cornfields in Illinois.

Writing and working out are her biggest passions, along with drinking coffee and watching sci-fi. When she’s not hanging out with her husband and kids, she can usually be found at a library or tucked away in the shadowy corner of a hip coffeehouse. She’s also been glimpsed sneaking into her garage, late at night, to work on her time machine.

She enjoys connecting with people—especially those from other planets, nearby dimensions, and the future. To find her, just visit her website or social media pages. Or use a Stargate. Whichever is easiest.

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New Release Blitz: Ostakis by Angelica Primm

Ostakis | Angelica Primm

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 18, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: M/NB

Length: 52600

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, sci-fi, action, intersex

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Synopsis

The Human Planets Collective sent young Ambassador Kaj Deder to the former colony planet Ostakis to establish relations. But in the twenty-five hundred years since Earth lost contact with Ostakis, the people of that colony have dramatically changed. Kaj is tasked with finding the reason for these changes while he forges trade links between the HPC and Ostakis.

Without trade with the HPC, the dwindling resources of Ostakis will ultimately end human life on the planet. But his mission faces a huge obstacle in the form of Most Reverend Thyenn Sharr, the head of the Faith Progressive Church, who sees the arrival of Kaj as the beginning of the end of the Church. Kaj’s powerful attraction to Trademaster Klath’s son, Arlan does not smooth relations.

Arlan Klath, the son of the Trademaster of Ostakis, bears the secret that the pious people of his planet want to hide from the homeworld and the HPC. The Curse of the Unspoken, wrought through the unspeakable acts of the First Colonists, afflicts all Ostakians, but some more strongly than others. Arlan is totally Cursed, considered born sinful and he lives without legal rights or property.

He is scrutinized by Sharr who is enraged that Arlan’s father defiantly refuses to submit Arlan to a cruel act to “redeem” Arlan’s soul. The stakes increase when Arlan and Kaj form a relationship that Thyenn Sharr considers ample justification to usurp the Trademaster position through the power of his Church.

Excerpt

KAJ

Dearest Marta,

You would ask if I’m upset with my new posting. No. Not that. Discomforted. Yes. That is the correct word. You know I am a man who likes his routines, the stuff that meshes you to the pleasurable aspects of living. A delicious cup of coffee in the morning. Grilled vegetables on the barbecue and a nice glass of wine on the terrace in the evening. Everyday things.

Where I head is not ordinary…

Landfall is the most dangerous part of the journey.

The transport shook and rattled as it descended to hit the atmosphere of Ostakis. Flames flared from the heat shield and now I know why the pilot told me to pull the shade on my seat window. It’s terrifying watching the flames of friction ignited ionized gas shimmer outside the window and engulf the ship. To take my mind off my impending death I mulled over my last briefing with Director Kotel.

“How terraformed is this planet?” I had asked the director. We both paged our copies of the sparse notes and reports on Ostakis on our government issued readers. Survey had just turned in the information, and I was eager to see it. But, at the director’s request, I had to wait until this meeting to go through it thoroughly.

“Not quite Earth normal,” said Director Kotal. “Ten percent of the original plant and animal forms still survive. The Ostakians fight the planet’s encroaching desert sands. The shield wall the colonists built is in disrepair.”

That was an interesting bit of information. “Any reason why?”

“Our survey found abandoned population centers. Grey and Jacobs in Analysis think the number of people is shrinking. They may not have the workers to maintain it.”

“So, after all this time, it has begun.”

“Yes. It had to, didn’t it?” She stood and stared out of the port window that revealed the desert planet beneath us. “If any planet needs what the HPC offers, it is Ostakis.”

A silence hung between us. The urgency of the mission weighed more heavily.

“And another thing,” she said. “The scout team reported rumors, or myths, of aboriginal tribes hiding in the desert.”

We looked each other in the eye. The first hope of Earth had been finding indigenous sentients, but to our disappointment found none.

“Our lack of knowledge of the basis of the Faith Progressive Church hampers us. They didn’t send literature on their precepts.”

“Odd. Religions like to proselytize.”

“Exactly. So we can only assume that there are things they don’t want us to know. Be careful of Thyenn Sharr, Kaj. He’s the church’s head man. I can’t impress this enough on you. Their highly conservative religious movement does not condone much that isn’t praying and preaching. The hardest part of this assignment is conforming to the societal norms of the planet.”

“Until I otherwise need to.”

“Yes,” she said with a nod of her head. “Until that. So tread carefully.”

Meet the Author

Born in a century far less progressive than how her brain is wired, Angelica engages in occupations now considered now less than reputable, one of them being a ghostwriter of erotic and romance fiction.

Since time travel is not an option, in her off time she contents herself with writing about people and places in a far distant future with the twists that only come with traveling to the stars.

Angelica lives in Connecticut with an odd assortment of cats and humans and putters at hobbies ranging from art to bird watching when she’s not turning a phrase for her supper.

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