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Saturday, August 06, 2022

Dropnauts by J. Scott Coatsworth is out in audio and there's a giveaway!

A diverse hopepunk space opera Dropnauts, written by J. Scott Coatsworth's and narrated by Kevin Earlywine.  

Life after the Crash.

Over a century after the end of the Earth, life goes on in Redemption, the sole remaining Lunar colony, and possibly the last outpost of humankind in the Solar System. But with an existential threat burrowing its way into the Moon's core, humanity must recolonize the homeworld.

Twenty brave dropnauts set off on a mission to explore the empty planet. Four of them—Rai, Hera, Ghost and Tien—have trained for two-and-a-half years for the Return. They're bound for Martinez Base, just outside the Old Earth city of San Francisco.

But what awaits them there will turn their assumptions upside down—and in the process, either save or destroy what's left of humanity.

Amazon Audio <> Universal Buy Link <> Goodreads

Excerpt

We’re going home.

Rai sweated inside his suit, white-knuckling the arms of the retrofitted launch chair under his suit gloves. He watched the Zhenyi'slaunch countdown clock.

Sixty, fifty-nine, fifty-eight…

Outside he was calm, but inside he vibrated like an erhu string, his stomach doing acrobatics in his chest. I’m not ready.

Five teams of dropnauts had strapped themselves into their jumper ships, prepared for the ascent from Redemption on the lunar surface to Launchpad station. Outside his porthole, the blue-green marble of Earth beckoned.

Forty-five, forty-four…

Rai cast a nervous glance at his three teammates. Hera was doing her preflight check, her back to him, sweat dripping down the umber skin of her neck from her short-cropped, curly black hair.

Behind him on his right, Tien’s eyes were closed, and she was still as a golden statue. Zen.

He turned to find Ghost looking at him from behind. His ex grinned, running his hand through his lanky, dirty blond hair, his green eyes twinkling. His skin was as white as Rai’s own, but with a dusting of freckles over the bridge of his nose.

Rai managed a pale imitation of a smile back. -It's totally safe.- Ghost's voice pinged in his head, em to em.

-Easy for you to say.- Ghost had never feared a thing in his life.

Rai sighed. If he had to, he could take the small ship apart and put it back together with his bare hands, a skill learned under Sam's supervision—the mech was as harsh a taskmaster as any human Rai had ever worked for. Still, he felt like puking. The speeches and adulation of the farewell celebration were over, and now his doubts circled like vultures. I'm not ready.

Thirty-two, thirty-one…

-You'll be ok.- Hera's determined voice this time. She turned to squeeze his knee, and then fired up the Zhenyi'shydro-fuel engine. He flashed her a sheepish grin.

A hundred meters away, the Bristol's takeoff shook the landing pad. Rai watched it rise, carrying Dax, Jess, Ola, and Xiu Ying, the London team, toward the bright stars above. The jumper’s expelled water froze almost instantly, falling as snow over the snaking lava tube that held the city of Redemption. A lunar blizzard whipped by them and shimmered into nothing.

Rai closed his eyes, remembering the night before. Jess, laughing and dancing with him at Heaven, the clear dome of the lunar sky sparkling above them, the heavy beat of the thromb club pulsing through his chest. Dancing like no one was watching.

He rubbed his jaw. It still ached from the fist he'd taken to the face. Wild party. And a wilder night with Ayvin, the jack he'd picked up at the club.

"Zhenyi, ready for liftoff in T-Minus ten seconds.” Sam's voice, coming from Team Five's ship, the Liánhuā, was cool and collected. Did the mech feel emotion, like the nausea that was boiling in Rai's guts? His teammates were strong, smart, and prepared for anything. I can do this. Besides, it was too late to back out now.

"Affirmative.” Hera shifted in her seat, her biframes stretching her paralyzed legs for her.

"You’ll do okay, tiger.” Ghost elbowed him in the ribs.

“Six, five, four…” Hera swiped the glossy white control deck, and the launch controls appeared, floating over the white surface.

“Leave him alone.” Rai could hear the icy frown in Tien’s voice.

He closed his eyes, willing his stomach to calm. Here we go. Nothing he could do about it now.

“Three, two, one… hang on.” Hera fired the engines, and the craft lifted on a cloud of steam into the star-filled skies of Luna.

Rai squeezed his armrests again as G-force pushed him hard back in his seat. He was committed now. Poppies, Chinese Houses, Fiddlenecks, Baby Blue Eyes, Yellow Pansies, Star Lilies… Reciting the flowers of the old San Francisco basin helped soothe his abraded nerves as the rumbling of the little craft rattled his bones.

He opened his eyes to see Redemption receding below them. The great lava tube was striped with sparkling bands of solar receptors that let sunlight into the city below. Rail lines snaked out from Redemption to the transit center like roping vines—to the seed launcher at Copernicus Crater, to Renewal colony, and beyond.

As the city shrank below them, his fear turned to sadness, a lump forming in his throat. He’d taken his home for granted, enthralled by the idea of joining humankind’s greatest adventure in a century. Now he might never see it again.

The hydro rocket thrust them up out of Luna’s gravity well into naked space, toward the bright blue skies of the empty Earth above. Rai stared at it, that enigmatic ball in space which no one had visited in over a century. What secrets are you hiding?

The roar cut off as quickly as it had begun, leaving the Zhenyi drifting upward in silence as they slipped out of Luna’s grasp.

Hera’s hands flew across the deck, swapping the launch controls for navigation, and nudged them onto a new course following the Bristol toward the Launchpad.

Rai let go, his breath coming out in a heavy sigh.

“See? That wasn’t so bad.” Ghost unbuckled his seatbelt and stretched, yawning as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

God, he's beautiful. Pale as his namesake under his mop of dirty blond hair, the engineer’s thick arms were just a suggestion under the bulky suit, but Rai could still see them in his mind. Ghost’s well-toned muscles, the smell of his skin after—

“You okay, buddy?” Ghost was staring at him, one dark eyebrow raised in concern.

Rai bit his lip and looked away. “Just nervous. Wondering if we’ll ever make it back home”

“Hey, if things go well after the drop, maybe you and me could open the first Earthside bar since the Crash.” Ghost leaned over him from behind to stare at the Earth through the porthole, his cheek close to Rai’s

“That’s crazy.” But his spirits lifted. It was idiotic. And just the distraction he needed.

Ghost sank back into his own seat. “Every outpost needs a good bar where the colonists can blow off a little steam, right?”

Rai laughed in spite of himself, warming to the idea. “We could call it ‘The Frontier’.”

“Or ‘The Wild Hookup’.”

“Best beer this side of the planet.”

Only beer!”

Rai snorted. Just like old times. He hadn’t forgiven Ghost, though. Not yet. He looked down at his gloved hands, emblazoned with the leaf-and-orb of Redemption’s space service.

Things had ended badly between them—crash and burn bad. Still, they’d be too busy the next few weeks to think about anything but the drop. The survival of Redemption and the remnants of humanity depended on them.

He could let it go. I have to. He’d managed the launch, after all. I can do this too.

Ghost squeezed his shoulder and closed his eyes, touching his temple and bobbing his head to a song only he could hear.

Rai turned away.

You're stronger than any of us. Hera had told him that the night before. Still, he didn’t feel strong.

He looked out of the porthole again at the Earth—the same view they’d had from Heaven. And yet somehow, it looked different. More real.

Poppies, Chinese Houses, Fiddlenecks, Baby Blue Eyes, Yellow Pansies, Star Lilies…

He touched his hand to the porthole. Even through the glove, it was cold. We're going home.

Listen to Chapter One

Dropnauts meme

Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth

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

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

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

Author Website  <> Author Facebook (Personal) <> Author Facebook (Author Page)

Author Twitter <> Author Instagram <> Author Goodreads <> Author QueeRomance Ink

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com) <> Author Amazon <> Author BookBub

Narrator Bio:

Kevin Earlywine

Kevin Earlywine is an actor, director, singer/songwriter, and audiobook narrator who hails from Rockford, Illinois! His debut album DANGER was released February 28th, 2017. Kevin started writing songs for the album in 2012, and finally in November, 2015, he started recording the songs!

Giveaway

Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Recent Release Review of The Oracle's Flame by Mell Eight

BLURB: The Kingdom of Altnoia is on the cusp of civil war. The king and heir have been murdered, the throne taken by their uncle, and the kingdom’s only hope lies with Prince Edan who has been missing for the past year. The Oracle appoints Kindle, her new Dragon of Fire, one task: find Prince Edan and keep him alive.

It should have been a simple task, but Kindle did not anticipate Prince Edan would hide away on a pirate ship, forcing the dragon not only to endure pirates, but seasickness and his fear of water. And nothing, not even the Oracle, could have prepared him for the two pirates he meets and the complicated feelings they spark.

My Review:  I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

I usually enjoy books by Mell Eight, as they are sweet and easy reads, but still have plenty of action and storyline to them. Unfortunately this one seemed a bit lacking in the character development compared to others of hers I've read. I never really felt I got to know either of the main characters at all. That said it was still a good story, just not up to the standards I have come to expect. I will read the follow up when it gets released but I am hoping it will be better than this one.


Author: Mell Eight
Title: The Oracle's Flame
Series: Oracle, Book #1
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Length: 19,100 words
Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage
Genre:
Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, romance, menage,
dragons, sailors/pirates, royalty,
psychic, action/adventure
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 2nd August 2022
Book Description
The Kingdom of Altnoia is on the cusp of civil war. The king and heir have been murdered, the throne taken by their uncle, and the kingdom’s only hope lies with Prince Edan who has been missing for the past year. The Oracle appoints Kindle, her new Dragon of Fire, one task: find Prince Edan and keep him alive.

It should have been a simple task, but Kindle did not anticipate Prince Edan would hide away on a pirate ship, forcing the dragon not only to endure pirates, but seasickness and his fear of water. And nothing, not even the Oracle, could have prepared him for the two pirates he meets and the complicated feelings they spark.

Excerpt

The Oracle’s Flame

Mell Eight © 2022

All Rights Reserved


The castle wasn’t burning, although her mind’s eye saw it outlined in flames. There would be fire, but not this night. No, this night was death. This night was treason.


These events had already occurred. They were sent from the past, meant to ensure her understanding of the present, and to help her decipher the future. They were important, so the Oracle watched them again.


Ferim was scowling over his brother’s body. His older half brother, the king, was dead. The specter of his mother, the long-dead second wife of the previous king, hung over Ferim’s head as he declared himself King of Altnoia. The spite in his mother’s heart had successfully lived on, given new birth at the end of Ferim’s bloody sword. The king was dead. The king’s wife was dead. The king’s oldest son was dead. Ferim’s mother placed a heavy crown on Ferim’s head and then began to let out a crazed laugh.


The second son of the dead king escaped the castle, a circle of loyal servants and guards ensuring that Prince Edan, the rightful heir to the throne, boarded a ship in the harbor. Cannons fired as the White Crest forced an opening through the country’s armada. The news of the coup in the castle was just arriving at the port; too late to halt Prince Edan’s escape. Those captains loyal to their jobs futilely returned fire while those loyal to land and crown abandoned ship and took to the hills to begin building a rebellion against the false king.


The rebellion continued at sea as well, led by Prince Edan and his loyal crew, and the years passed. King Ferim grew in power, but dissent also grew as the people thought of their lost prince. The Oracle watched as a sickly green shadow began to grow in Altnoia. First the shadow was contained, as a shadow should be, by the forces of light and dark. It clung to Ferim’s robes, his shoes, and his very breath. But sickness spreads quickly. As Ferim breathed on his councilors, their shadows also began to grow ill. Ferim walked through the city, and everywhere he stepped, a pool of deadly miasma formed. Soon the shadow was hanging over all of Altnoia.


These were the images the Oracle’s mind provided to symbolize corruption and greed as they fermented. As filling one’s own pockets with gold and gems went above the good of the country. As regular citizens fought to produce enough grain to feed their families and pay the tithe the king demanded. As they sickened and died when blight came to the crops and deadly illness into the wells.


The people remembered the prosperity they had enjoyed under the murdered king, and they remembered their prince had escaped that day of blood. The people hoped for a better life, and the rebellion grew in strength every day. King Ferim sat on his throne and heard those whispers, and he knew Prince Edan had to die for his reign to continue.


And thus, the present was ended. Now it was time for the future, for the unknown, and the possible paths diverged in dozens of directions. Should King Ferim go riding on one sunny day in late spring, his horse would step in a hole, and both horse and false-king would be dead. But such an event was unlikely. King Ferim was afraid of riding, as that was allegedly what had killed his beloved mother. The Oracle discarded that path and moved on to another.


The Oracle was not alone in her mind, which helped her sort through the possibilities of each future path. She was myriad, the consciousness of each Oracle that had come before her current body held safely within her. Each consciousness sorted quickly, soon finding the most likely paths of future possibilities. The Oracle watched each one occur in her mind’s eye.




Meet the Author
When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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Giveaway 

One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!