Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Grab Me By The First Line

"Twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie, twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie…" The words were on repeat in Morgan Drake's head, a litany, over and over, in case he forgot. His FBI shadow had drummed the words into him until he could repeat them in his sleep. 
"Just in case, Morgan, okay? If there's any problem, you take these keys and the car I showed you in the next door basement parking, and you take Highway Twenty West onto the 166, head for Altamont, Western Street, find a bookshop called Black Cat Books. Someone will locate you there, and he'll have a password, okay? Lemon Pie. He's a guy I trust with my life, and his name is Nik. I'm writing his cell number on this paper. You need to memorize it in case I can't contact him. Can you repeat… twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie. After me…" (Guarding Morgan by RJ Scott)


How long do you give a book to grab your attention? One chapter? First Page. First paragraph? First line? 

Once upon a time - see there, you know I'm a reader - I used to have a long attention span. I'd take my latest fantasy novel, all six hundred pages, retire to my bedroom, and not come out until I'd reached The End. That was a long time ago.

Since the advent of my kids, social media and the fact I read on my phone, I have the attention span of...  Squirrel! Yep, like Dug the dog in Up, shiny distracts me every time. I love books, I love reading, but the days of reading three chapters of info-dump before I get to the meat of the story are long gone.

Today's world is faster, more immediate. Long-form articles have been replaced with sound-bites and tweets. Fiction has evolved too. You don't have much time to capture people's attention before they wander off to see the latest drama on Twitter and God know there's a lot of that these days. As a writer you may want to set the scene, world-build, and ease people in to your universe. You will have lost me somewhere around the end of the first page. Get me hooked and I'll happily stay with you until the last word.

I posted the first couple of paragraphs of Guarding Morgan because I remember this first line like it was burned in my brain. I heard RJ Scott read it out at a UK Meet several years ago and I've never forgotten it.

"Twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie, twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie…"

I was hooked immediately. I didn't need to know more to want to buy the book. In fact, I probably remember this beginning better than a lot of my own books.

Not all books start with action. I asked on Facebook for best beginnings and got a multitude of genres from romance and classics to children's books and American literature, although this is possibly my favourite.

"Later, as he sat on the balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months." High Rise / JG Ballard
 Take time to think about your opening lines. You may find it halfway through the book. It may be a scene you never expected. My finished book rarely has the start I intended. Just make your beginning worthwhile.

You've come up with your killer opening. You've hooked your prey, now you have to keep them biting. Don't whatever you do, forget that you're competing with a multitude of distractions in your reader's lives. It doesn't have to be high octane drama, but enough to keep them turning the page or swiping the screen. Let's keep that for another post. 




Snowflakes & Cinnamon Buns: Claire Castle


Snowflakes & Cinnamon Buns


I'm delighted to have my first Christmas story promotion. Snowflakes & Cinnamon Buns is out today.

Buylink: Amazon

Blurb: 

Cameron Pearce loves to work hard and play hard. Living in New York City, means lots of men and lots of variety. He isn’t looking for love.When he goes to his small hometown Dickensville for Christmas, food, friends, family and seeing his best friend Levi are what’s on the agenda. He also hopes for some friends-with-benefits enjoyment.
Levi Jones owns and runs his own café in Dickensville. He loves the Christmas season and all that comes with it. Decorating, baking, and snow among other things. Another perk is when Cameron visits home and he gets him all to himself.
What will happen when true feelings are revealed and everything is put on the line. Will their friendship survive?
Can best friends go from hooking up to a real relationship? Do they even want to?
This book contains delicious cinnamon buns, a cute westie and sexy hot men to warm up your holidays.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Sign Up for November Newsletter

My next newsletter will be coming out very soon with a special offer.

The Clumsy Santa will on offer only to my newsletter subscribers before it reaches Amazon (all formats) and at a reduced price. 

If you would like to read Charlie and Nick's story early please sign up here.

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Saturday, 11 November 2017

The Clumsy Santa




The Clumsy Santa


Release date: 24th November 2017
Blurb:

Charlie discovers love amongst the tinsel.
Falling in love with Santa is the last thing Charlie Johnson expects when he takes a holiday job as an elf in Santa’s Grotto. Nick is the shyest and clumsiest man Charlie has ever met, but that’s just part of his charm. Charlie falls for Santa, whilst Santa falls head over heels onto the floor. At least they can laugh together about it!
But after several weeks, Charlie starts to despair he will ever be more than Santa’s helper. His holiday job is nearly over, yet Nick hasn’t declared anything more than friendship. Will Charlie ever get his real Christmas wish?


Teaser:
Charlie spent a lot of time covertly watching Santa as he gave out gifts to the children. The man was everything Charlie wanted with a cherry on top, even dressed in red velour. He had never seen Santa outside of his cost—uniform. The only features he could see were the twinkly blue eyes and shy smile which greeted him every morning.
A lot of Charlie’s dreams centred around Santa putting his junior elf on his knee and purring what a bad, bad boy he’d been, and how he was going to punish him. He soon learned to quash those thoughts in public, because all the green tights hid was his shoe-size. Charlie was sure there was a rule for that somewhere, too.








Thursday, 9 November 2017

Goodbye Stinkybum

TYLER 11/2008 to 11/2017



I've had this post open for a week, but I've not been able to write it. Time to bite the bullet.

Tyler aged 4
My dog, Tyler, collapsed on his walk last Thursday evening. We took him to the emergency vets, and they said he was almost gone. An operation would give him three months at the most. It was that quick, he was gone two hours after he collapsed. They asked if we wanted his ashes, but frankly, we've got enough white hair at home to remember him by.

We're all gutted as you can imagine, and Faith is struggling without her favourite cushion. She's never been alone. I don't share my kids online, so my dogs get the attention. I have so many photos of Tyler, I'll be facing Facebook memories for years.


Tyler was a pain in the arse, but he was our pain in the arse. I'm not going to miss the stop and sniff
Tyler aged 8
walks or the chewing on the sofa. I'm going to miss his great smile, the way he stamped his foot to get his own way, and the morning snuggles. And his spotty ears.

After worrying about Faith and her tumour, it's ironic that Tyler is the one to leave us.

Tyler was a very special dog. He was our dog. Farewell, my pup.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Alpha Chef

Alpha Chef

Buylink: Amazon & KU
sequel to Alpha Barman

When Greg Mitchelson’s home is torched and his employer killed, Greg fears it's retribution for his past testimony against a notorious drug gang. Alone, with no money and only the clothes on his back, Greg turns to Colm Riordan, the Deputy US Marshall who's protected Greg for the last 3 years. But Riordan doesn’t return Greg’s phone calls, and the local Marshal’s office refuses to help him.
In desperation, Greg goes on the run to Wyoming to find his brother, Mitch, whom he hasn’t seen in over a decade. As he reconnects with his brother, Riordan appears, searching for his missing witness. But Greg needs the answers to a lot of questions before he’ll trust Riordan again. Why didn’t he return Greg’s call? Is Riordan there to help Greg – or kill him?

Teaser: 

Riordan smacked his fist on the table and the mugs jumped. “That’s why I need to protect you, dammit.”
Before Greg could respond, something buzzed past Greg’s left ear and he felt a stinging sensation. “Ow!” Greg flapped at the insect, then he noticed Riordan’s wide-eyed stare. “What?”
“Shit! Get down!” Riordan leapt over the table, knocking Greg over and onto the hard ground.
The air crashed out of Greg’s lungs and he gaped, unable to form words. Having Riordan sprawled over him didn’t help the situation. He’d imagined this exact moment, usually in a bed, not on a dirt floor surrounded by cigarette butts and other trash. Something trickled down the left side of his neck. Finally, his diaphragm worked enough for him to wheeze, “What the—?”
“Stay down!” Riordan snapped. “Someone’s firing at us.”
Greg’s muscles locked in place. “Where?”
“I don’t know. We’re sheltered by the table and the wall, but until I can get a fix on the shooter I don’t know whether it’ll stay that way.” Riordan raised his head and another bullet smacked into the table. “Dammit! We’re trapped.” Greg raised his head and Riordan shoved him down. “What did I tell you?”
Greg gave him a curt nod. “Sorry.”

 

 


Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth


Projecting the Future

I‘m a sci fi writer by trade.

That means I’m supposed to have a good grip on where things are going – future trends in both tech and society.

It’s one of my favorite things about sci fi. And it turns out to be really, really hard.

Imagine living a hundred years ago and predicting the iPhone. Or  the internet. Or Extasy or Epipens.

Now cast your gaze forward. How will people communicate in a hundred years? Five hundred? A thousand?

Society will change in a hundred thousand ways. Try predicting each and every one of these, and how they will interact with all the others.

This is what we contend with as sci fi writers.

You have to pick your battles, and find iconic details that will feel authentic, and give your readers a feel for your future.

For “The Stark Divide,” I chose biotech, imbedded implants, and AI as my main markers. And while you’ll encounter a number of other future forward elements, these three gave me the framework for building an epic story.

I hope you enjoy it.

The Stark Divide

Publisher: DSP Publications
Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Length: 284 Pages
Format: eBook, Paperback
Release Date: 10/10/17
Pairing: MM
Price: 6.99, 16.99
Series: Liminal Sky (Book One)
Genre: Sci Fi, Space, Gen Ship, Apocalypse, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer

Blurb:

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.

Book One of Liminal Sky

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.

Buy Links Etc:


DSP Publications (eBook): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-stark-divide-by-j-scott-coatsworth-415-b

Amazon: myBook.to/StarkDivide

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-stark-divide-j-scott-coatsworth/1126901106

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-stark-divide

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-stark-divide/id1266474103?mt=11


Author Bio:


He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Facebook (author page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

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