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Ten

Ten
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 0.99 USD
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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Publisher: Other Worlds Ink
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Excerpt:

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.

COLLAPSE
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.


I use Amazon Associate links to support the site and my writing.

Spells & Stardust

Spells & Stardust - J. Scott Coatsworth
Editions:Kindle - First: $ 3.99 USD
Pages: 136
Kindle (Abkhazian) - First: $ 9.99 AUD
Pages: 136

Spells & Stardust is Scott's first anthology - eight sci fi and fantasy shorts that run the gamut from regeneration to redemption.

The Bear at the Bar: A gay fish out of water tale with a pinch of magic.

Tight: What happens when your lover disappears in midair?

Morgan: The year when everything changed.

Re-Life: What if you were reborn in a strange new future?

A New Year: They met every eleven years. And each time, Hank's life changed.

Repetition: What if you wanted to go back in the closet?

Gargoyle: Sometimes you get what you deserve. Sometimes it happens on All Hallows Eve.

Avalon: A few bright moments in the sun, stolen from outside time.

Most of these stories have been previously published in various anthologies and journals. This is the first time they have all been collected in one place.

Excerpt:

The edge of the old cement pediment crumbled away beneath Hank’s feet into the river far below, glistening in the light of the almost-full moon. The bridge railing was cold at his back—he could feel it all the way through his jacket and shirt to his skin. He could see his breath glowing in the night air.

The nearly-frozen water rushed by in the river below, flowing under the bridge behind him and on toward the ocean far away in a steady flow, silver in the moonlight and heavily laden with winter rain. As soon as he gathered his courage, Hank would let go of his grip on the railing and fall into those icy waters, to disappear forever from the world of men.

It was New Year's Day, 1986, an hour after midnight, and it was the end of things for Hank.

Or it should have been.

It was also the night he first met Dale.

I use Amazon Associate links to support the site and my writing.

The River City Chronicles

River City Book 1

The River City Chronicles - J. Scott Coatsworth

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other's lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

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Publisher: Other Worlds Ink
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Matteo stared out the restaurant window into the darkness of Folsom Boulevard. It was getting dark earlier as summer edged into fall. Streetlights flickered on as cars drifted by, looking for parking or making the trip out of Midtown toward home.

The sign on the window read “Ragazzi” (the boys), lettered in a beautiful golden script just two months old. Investing in this little restaurant his uncle had left to them when he'd passed away had been their ticket out of Italy. But now with each passing day, as seats sat empty and tomatoes, pasta, and garlic went uneaten, the worry was gnawing ever deeper into Matteo's gut.

Behind him in the open, modernized kitchen, Diego was busy cooking—his mother's lasagne, some fresh fish from San Francisco, and some of the newer Italian dishes they'd brought with them from Bologna. The smells of boiling sauce and fresh-cooked pasta that emanated from the kitchen were entrancing.

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They'd sent the rest of the staff —Max and Justin—home for the evening. The three customers who had shown up so far didn't justify the cost of keeping their waiter and busboy on hand.

Matteo stopped at the couple's table in front of the other window. "Buona sera," he said, smiling his brightest Italian smile.

"Hi," the man said, smiling back at him. He was a gentleman in about his mid-fifties, wearing a golf shirt and floppy hat. "Kinda quiet tonight, huh?"

"It always gets busier later," Matteo lied smoothly. "Pleasure to have you here. Can I get you anything else?"

"A little more wine, please?" the woman said, holding out her glass so the charm bracelet on her wrist jangled.

"Of course." He bowed and ducked into the kitchen.

He gave Diego a quick peck on the cheek.

His husband and chef waved him off with a snort. "Più tardi. Sto preparando la cena."

"I can see that. Dinner for a hundred, is it? It’s dead out there again tonight.”

Diego shot him a dirty look.

Matteo retrieved the bottle of wine from the case and returned to fill up his guests' glasses. “What brings you in tonight?” Maybe they saw our ad.…

“Just walking by and we were hungry. I miss the old place though.… What was it called, honey?”

Her husband scratched his chin. “Little Italy, I think?”

“That’s it! It was the cutest place. Checkered tablecloths, those great Italian bottles with the melted wax… so Italian.”

Matteo groaned inside. “So glad you came in” was all he said with another smile.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Melanie on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

All the characters here are so beautifully created, so multidimensional that they are all on equal footing. Each and every one is so important to the story and will gain equal measure in your heart. It’s a large cast but it simply doesn’t matter. You invest yourself completely in their lives and their stories. You hurt with them, you laugh with them…the entire spectrum of emotion will be trotted out here between the kids thrown out of their homes to the May/December romances and so much more.

The River City Chronicles is a rich tapestry of lives…messy, complicated, wonderful, human lives. It’s filled with love, cooking, Italy through the language and recipes, and the singular location of Sacramento. And I can’t get enough of it.

I want more of it.

Like visiting that restaurant you have picked out as yours and visit over and over because the food is perfect, the atmosphere warm and welcoming, the people inside familiar and everything about the place makes you anticipate an evening that will fill your heart with love and memories. That’s how The River City Chronicles makes me feel as well. I hope that J. Scott Coatsworth feels that there’s more tales to tell here. I certainly hope so. Ragazzi is doing so well, so are the cooking classes. Who knows who will show up next? Scott, are you listening?

Trust me, this book is magical. I highly recommend it.

Anne Barwell on Drops of Ink wrote:

I was drawn into the story immediately, and wanted to know more about the overarching story, the characters, and how they would interact. The chapters are a great size, perfect for diving in and out of the story although, as I approached the latter part of the book, I didn’t want to put it down as I wanted to know how everyone’s stories would end. The story is a lovely, easy, feel-good read with plenty of ‘heart,’ and I very much enjoyed it. Although I could guess how some characters were connected to others, and how their stories might unfold in places, it added to my reading enjoyment, rather than detracted from it.

I’d recommend The River City Chronicles to readers who enjoy a feel good story with real characters with a focus on the important of friends and family, both the ones we are born into, and those we choose. 5 out of 5 stars.