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Wonderland

Life After the Zombie Apocalypse

Wonderland
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 2.99
Pages: 102
Paperback - First Edition: $ 7.99
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 102

Zeke is a hermit in his late forties who lives a quiet life in a small cabin in the Western Montana mountains, a few miles outside of Thompson Falls. He’s gotten used to being alone since the end of the world, and has everything he needs. Everything but someone to talk to.

Nathan is a younger man on a cross-country trek, searching the country for someone... anyone still alive. Saddled with a ghost from his old life and a case of OCD, he stumbles upon Thompson Falls and a pack of rabid dogs.

Rescued by Zeke, he has to figure out how to be human again. And with Christmas just a week away, both men have to figure out if there’s something left to be hopeful for, and if they might have a future together.

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Zeke returned to the kitchen and pulled a couple dirty plates from the sink.

Nathan had flinched when Zeke had hugged him. He had started to shake.

Did that mean Nathan liked him? Was afraid of him, disgusted by him? He didn’t know how to read the signs. He'd always been crap with all that touchy feely stuff.

He glared at the stacks of dirty dishes. He hadn't quite finished cleaning the place, but maybe he could keep Nathan out of there until he had a chance to get things organized.

His visitor seemed like a nice guy. Zeke wished his gaydar was better.

He washed the plates with some dish soap, giving them a good scrub, and dried them with some of his precious paper towels. He pulled out the last of his smoked salmon and put it on the plates, along with the fruit salad. "I have a few Snapples left," he called. "Lemon or peach?"

"Peach is fine."

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Zeke hauled the plates and a couple forks out into the living room and presented one of them to Nathan with a flourish. "Compliments of the chef."

Nathan laughed. "What I wouldn't give to go to a nice restaurant again." He took the plate and set it on his lap.

"I would love to have cheese again. Especially mozzarella."

"I would die for a Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bar."

"I loved dark chocolate." Zeke returned with the drinks and a couple more paper towels and took a seat on the floor against the wall by the fireplace where he could see Nathan properly. "Where did you start out on your journey?"

"Vermont. Seems like I've been walking forever." Nathan took a bite of the salmon. "What about you? Ooh, this is delicious."

Zeke looked around the old cabin. So many memories. "I grew up here. This was my Dad's place. He passed away a few years ago."

"It's... nice." Nathan took a drag on the bottle of Peach Snapple.

"It's a pack-rat's heaven," Zeke corrected him.

"Yeah." Nathan smiled wanly. "Sorry. My OCD is getting the better of me. I thought I had it under control, but the dog attack, and being in a place like this... Stress is a big trigger for me."

"Oh man. I'm sorry." A light went on in Zeke's head. "That's why you wanted the Xanax." He glanced outside. It was getting dark. "I can run to town right now—"

"It's all right. I can cope until tomorrow. The Xanax just helps take the edge off for a few hours; gives me time to cope. I've learned other ways to manage it."

"So... OCD. Like that TV detective, Monk?"

Nathan winced. "Yeah. Kinda. It's more complicated than that."

"How long have you had it?" Zeke's gaze lingered on Nathan's naked chest. He was feeling warmer than he ought to.

"Since I was ten." Nathan looked at the piles of stuff around the room.

Poor guy looked nervous as hell. "You think hoarding is a kind of OCD?" Zeke joked to lighten the mood.

Nathan snorted. "This isn't hoarding. It's survival."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right." Nathan was handsome, even dirty as he was. Zeke decided that he wanted to kiss him rather badly.

He shifted his trousers. He wasn't usually so out of control like this.

Of course, Nathan had the whole only other living human being on the face of the Earth thing going for him too.

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Fix the World Anthology

twelve sci-fi writers save the future

Fix the World Anthology
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 6.99
Pages: 238
Paperback - First Edition: $ 16.99
ISBN: 978-1-7323075-8-2
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 238

We’re a world beset by crises. Climate change, income inequality, racism, pandemics,  an almost unmanageable tangle of issues. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to fix what’s wrong with the world.  From the sixty-five stories we received, we chose twelve most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change, make war obsolete, switch to alternative forms of energy, and restructure the very foundations of our society,

The future’s not going to fix itself.

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The rumbling increased to a roar, and more dark patches appeared in the green lagoon waters. So expensive. So laborious to stabilize what was left. But every bit worth it, in this moment.

A great spume of water sprayed high enough to throw a shimmer of mist across her face as the first part of the old city broke the surface. As the spume cleared, the top of the Campanile di San Marco rose above the water, green roof gleaming like new. A nice touch. The Restoration Guild must have worked overtime on that one. Its golden weathervane was gone, but the bas relief of the lion of St. Mark made her clutch her heart.

“Mamma, what’s the lion for?” She licked chocolate off her hands, desperate to make her afternoon snack last just a little longer.

“It’s the symbol of the city.” Mamma put her hand on Cinzia’s chest, patting it—boom boom, boom boom. “The beating heart of who we are.”

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Cinzia stumbled. It felt like yesterday.

“You okay?” Gio’s brow creased.

“I… sorry, yes. So many memories.”

Skipping over the bridges. The bad days of the quarantine. The corner market where mamma used to do her grocery shopping…

The Flood.

Another building broke the surface nearby—the Santa Maria della Salute, the beautiful basilica. Water poured off the gorgeous green domes in a thundering flood. They were mostly intact, though one of the smaller ones had a gaping hole—water poured out of it, cascading down to the lagoon like a waterfall, joining the general uproar of the Rise.

“Look, Kendra. You can see the outlines of the Canal Grande now.” The old waterway—the pulsing artery of the city—snaked away from them like a backwards ’S.’ In the distance, she could make out the edge of the Sestriere Cannaregio, the district where her mamma had lived in a modest apartment in an old stone palazzo that looked out on a concrete courtyard.

Waters rising, as it rained for close on a month, coming ever closer to their own second-floor balcony.

What if the water doesn’t stop coming?” Cinzia stared out at the concrete courtyard, where the seawater swirled and churned.

“Don’t worry about that, tesoro. The water always stops, eventually. Now come here and help me with dinner.”

She had been lucky. She had survived.

All across the lagoon, the buildings of Venice were rising from the water. Many were broken, piles of bricks and debris covered with algae and surprised fish that flopped around on suddenly exposed land. The outlines of the city were becoming clear as water poured out of the buildings, churning the lagoon into a muddy, frothy mess.

A row of palazzos along the edge of the Canal Grande collapsed, sending up a deafening roar as they crumbled into rubble. Cinzia stepped back instinctively, pulling Kendra with her as the platform rose thirty meters into the air to avoid the cloud of debris that briefly rose above the lagoon before settling back to earth.

“Nothing to be alarmed about. Not all buildings were stabilized prior to the Rise.” Doctor Horvat’s lined face nodded reassuringly from the hovering screen before them, her voice broadcast across the world and to the Lunar colonies far above. “We expected some collapses. We will keep you away from the dangerous areas.”

“What if the city doesn’t stop rising?” Kendra grasped the railing, her gaze locked on the scene below.

Gio knelt next to the girl. “There’s no chance of that. The polyps have a very short lifetime…”

Cinzia was grateful to him. He probably understood the science behind all of this far better than she.

Her mind drifted.

They ate the last of the almond cantucci, savoring the hard cookies even though they were stale. Cinzia was still hungry, but she knew better than to ask for more. There was no more.

Outside, the rain had finally slowed to a constant drizzle.

Mamma ruffled her hair, managing a wan smile. “I need you to stay here, Cinzia. Someone will come for you, I promise. I will find us help.”

The helicopters had stopped coming days before, and the boats that had been plentiful the first few days, with men telling them to stay put, had bypassed their part of the city ever since.

The rumbling subsided.

Cinzia opened her eyes and looked around. For just a moment, there was absolute silence on the traghetto, along the shore, and on the sky board.

She looked over the railing.

Venice—her Venice—lay before her. It was in sad shape. Many of the landmarks she remembered were tarnished or broken. Whole zones of the city had collapsed, and except for Piazza San Marco, a green film covered the risen city. She was a ghost of her former glory.

But she was there, as solid and real as the hand before Cinzia’s face.

 

—From "Rise," by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Eventide

Book Cover: Eventide
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 0.99
Pages: 33

What if you woke up in a strange place that was as familiar as your own home, but also completely strange and different? What if you opened your curtains to find the universe looking back at you?

Welcome to Eventide.

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Chinatown

Chinatown - J. Scott Coatsworth
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 0.99
Pages: 40

Deryn is a dreamcaster in the new Chinese enclave in what was once San Francisco. He and his girlfriend Gracie scrape together a life, living in an old department store and struggling to live by the Charter under Chinese rule.

But when someone offers a way out, Deryn is afraid he might lose everything if it goes wrong, including his unborn child. Until he learns that a worse fate awaits them all if he doesn't act.

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Cailleadhama: Through the Veil

Caileadhama: Through the Veil
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 2.99
Pages: 100
Paperback - First: $ 8.99
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 100

Colton is a trans man living in a climate-changed world. He plies the canals that used to be city streets, earning a living taking tourists on illicit journeys through San Francisco's flooded edges beneath the imposing bulk of the Wall.

Tris is an elf who comes through the veil to the City by the Bay - the Caille - on a coming of age pilgrimage called the Cailleadhama. He is searching for his brother Laris, who went missing after crossing through the Caille years before.

The two men find they have common cause, and together they set off to find Laris in a world transformed by the twin forces of greed and climate change. And in the end, they find out more than they ever expected, both about the warming world and their own selves.

Note: This story was originally published in the "Myths Untold: Faery" anthology from Wilde City Press. It is presented here in its original form.

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Reviews:Chris Sweeso on Bayou Book Junkie wrote:

I loved how the author wove action with mythology and romance and gave us a very detailed story that I just couldn’t put down until it ended! Colton and Tris were both amazing on their own, but together they seemed unstoppable and I was very happy with how their relationship progressed and the resolution in the end.


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The Last Run

The Last Run
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 2.99
ISBN: B07WWH579T
Pages: 98
Paperback - First: $ 7.99
ISBN: 978-1688284906
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 98

Sera is the last runner from Earth, bringing badly needed supplies to the Tharassas Colony across a twenty-five year gulf between the planets. Jas works on a hencha farm to make ends meet, harvesting berries from the semi-sentient plants.

Neither one that knows their lives—and worlds—are about to change forever.

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The Shoreless Sea

Liminal Sky Book 3

The Shoreless Sea
Part of the Liminal Sky series:
Part of the Liminal Sky: Ariadne Cycle series:
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 4.95Paperback (Abkhazian) - Second: $ 18.99 USD

As the epic trilogy hurtles toward its conclusion, the fight for the future isn’t over yet. It could lead to a new beginning, or it might spell the end for the last vestiges of humankind.

The generation ship Forever has left Earth behind, but a piece of the old civilization lives on in the Inthworld—a virtual realm that retains memories of Earth's technological wonders and vices. A being named Lilith leads the uprising, and if she succeeds in setting its inhabitants free, they could destroy Forever.

But during the generation ship's decades-long voyage, humanity has evolved. Liminals with the ability to connect with the world mind and the Inthworld provide a glimmer of hope. They'll have to face not only Lilith’s minions, but also the mistrust of their own kind and persecution from a new government as homotypicals continue to fear what they can't understand.

The invasion must be stopped, the Inthworld must be healed, and the people of Forever must let go of their past and embrace what they’re meant to become.

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Homecoming

Second Edition

Homecoming - J. Scott Coatsworth
Editions:Kindle - Second: $ 2.99
Pages: 100
Paperback - Second: $ 8.99
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
Pages: 100

Spaceman meets wolfman.

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

When they awaken from deep sleep on Earth, abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a human-wolf hybrid, whose people harbor secrets which just might cost the crew their lives.

Will Hari and Aldiss uncover the secrets of the past and find common ground? Or are Aldiss and his team doomed to failure?

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Reviews:Paul on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

“This book clicks on just about every level... a ride worth taking.”


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Translation

Translation - J. Scott Coatsworth
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 0.99
Pages: 50

Dominic is a writer who has it bad for his Italian boss, Dante. But Dante doesn't seem to feel the same.

With his roommate Enrico, Dominic hatches a plan to get Dante's attention, but when it gets lost in translation and misfires badly, he doesn't know what to do.

Will he ever get his happily ever after?

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Ten

Ten
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 0.99
Pages: 30

It's ten days until Christmas.

After losing his husband in an auto accident the year before, Chris has decided to go all out to find someone new before the big holiday - planning ten dates in ten days. Somehow, though, none of them is quite right. And as each new day and date passes, Chris starts to notice a strange pattern in the guys he's dating.

What do they all have in common? And is one of them Chris's new Mister Right?

Only time will tell.

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December 17th - Glenn

I picked up the mail on the way into my apartment from the car. It was the usual junk—a copy of Sacramento Magazine, two Bed Bath and Beyond coupons… and a credit card offer made out to Aristotle Collins.

I closed my eyes, picturing Ari’s laugh—“I haven’t been Aristotle since I was six!” I smiled and took it inside, grabbed a Sharpie and scribbled “deceased” across the address label. I tossed it in the mailbox and went back inside to get ready for my third date.

Two days, two duds. No matter—with eight dates left to go, I figured I still had a one in five chance at finding marital bliss again.

I always wasgood at math.

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Glenn had suggested we meet at some place out in the suburbs called the Melting Pot. He was a little older, conservatively dressed in a tailored suit and tie, his hair cropped short. He looked kind of familiar in that weren’t-you-a-character-actor-on-Law-and-Order? sort of way.

I’d found him on Craigslist. I know, I know, it’s basically the swap meet of hook-up sites—a lot of the merchandise is a gritty and a little used, but every now and then you found a copy of Action Comics #1. Or a cute bit of flower-based wall art.

His ad had seemed nice:

Mature, middle-aged man seeks younger for fun, possible relations.

I was sure he’d meant “relationship.”

The restaurant was dark and smelled like meat and chocolate. It kinda turned me on.

I sat down and smiled. “Nice place.”

He nodded. “I like it. It’s quiet and out of the way.”

“I haven’t been to a fondue place in years.” The things you do for dating.

Ari had always hated it. Our first two dates had been famously bad—involving a napkin on fire and some classic teeth on lip action—but we’d given it another try, and somehow the third time had been the charm.

“You’re cute.” Glenn grinned. He had a nice smile. A point in his favor.

“Thanks.” I was pleased. “You’re not too bad yourself.” I refused to add for an older guy. I’dworn that shoe with Bryan, and it was a bad fit, not to mention bad manners. But that tongue…

The waiter stopped by. “My name’s Dorothea. Have you two decided what you want?” She gave us her best waitress smile.

Glenn waved her off. “Give us a couple minutes?”

“Sure. I’ll check back with you in a little bit.”

I felt something between my legs, and looked down to see Glenn’s foot, wrapped in a black nylon sock, massaging my crotch. The sock had a little golden cross embroidered on it.

I looked up and Glenn was winking at me.

Nylon socks? Seriously?

I could almost hear Ari laughing.

He was moving a little too fast. I pushed his foot away.

Glenn looked hurt. “I’m sorry. I thought you likedme.” He tugged at his collar.

His collar.

Boom, I knew where I’d seen him before.“You’re Pastor Glenn from All Hallows,” I blurted out before I could stop myself. My sister’s parish. I’d gone with her once for Christmas Mass and remembered ogling him. Holy shit, maybe I’d turnedthe poor bastard with my gay gaze.

Glenn’s face went white. “I… I’m not… I can’t…” Without another word, he got up and pulled out his wallet to lay forty bucks on the table. Then he almost ran out the door.

I stared after him. Why does everyone think I’m a john or a prostitute?

Then I realized he’d left the money to pay for the meal.

He wasa decent guy, after all

I wasn’t going to waste the twenty-five-minute drive, so I stayed and treated myself to an awesome chocolate fondue.

I was kind of ad for the guy—I mean, what must it be like to go your whole life lying about who you were? But I didn’t date closet cases.

Ari was in total agreement.

I gave Glenn a four on my scale.

Hey, at least he’d paid for dinner.

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Reviews:Serena Yates on Rainbow Book reviews wrote:

At the core of this thoughtful, sweet Christmas story are both heartbreak, due to a husband lost, and a very cute idea to help the surviving man find new hope a year later. It’s a story with heart and a ton of Christmas spirit, entirely without fluff or sap, and written with lots of humor. The end result is entertaining, made me smile, and carries a wonderful message of hope on more than one front.