Welcome to our 2nd week of celebrations for the fabulous
In today's post, we'll talk about Astounding! and Brute, and Rattlesnake, plus take a look at
First up, Astounding!
Carter Evans is founder and editor-in-chief of Astounding!—a formerly popular spec fiction magazine currently in its death throes. Not only can he do nothing to save it, but stuck in a rathole apartment with few interpersonal connections, he can’t seem to do much to rescue his future either. And certainly all the booze isn’t helping. He snaps when he receives yet another terrible story submission from the mysterious writer J. Harper—and in a drunken haze, Carter sends Harper a rejection letter he soon regrets.
J. Harper turns out to be John Harper, a sweet man who resembles a ’50s movie star and claims to be an extraterrestrial. Despite John’s delusions, Carter’s apology quickly turns into something more as the two lonely men find a powerful connection. Inexplicably drawn to John, Carter invites him along on a road trip. But as they travel, Carter is in for some big surprises, some major heartbreak… and just maybe the promise of a good future after all.
It was the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday. Harper probably wasn’t even home. He was most likely at work somewhere, selling shoes or teaching algebra or mopping floors or whatever he did to pay the bills. Carter jaywalked across the street, climbed the three concrete steps, and rang the doorbell. The minuscule porch looked freshly swept, and a rosebush wound its way along the iron railing, although it was too early in the season for blooms.
“I…. Uh.” Carter’s brain refused to function, and his mouth went on strike. The man in the doorway looked like one of the heartthrobs from the 1950s movies Freddy used to love—the all-American types who played war heroes and white-hatted cowboys. They showed up at Hollywood parties with pretty starlets while secretly hosting all-male sleepovers. This guy was maybe six feet tall, broad shouldered, and well built without looking like he spent all his time in the gym. His dark blond hair was trying to escape gelled neatness into curls, his eyes were an intense blue that flirted with violet, and his chin was broad and square and prominent, with a slight cleft. He wore an unremarkable olive sweater and blue jeans.
“Tab Hunter,” Carter said.
“I’m sorry. You have the wrong address.” The man started to close the door.
“No! Wait! I mean… the actor. Tab Hunter. You look like him.”
“Oh.” The man smiled hesitantly, revealing straight white teeth. “Um, thanks. I like his movies.”
Carter tried very hard to force some rational speech past his lips. “Sorry. That wasn’t….” He took a deep breath. “I’m looking for Mr. Harper.”
The man seemed to relax a little. “That’s me. Can I help you?” His gaze strayed to the manila envelope, but it was bent in Carter’s grip and Harper probably didn’t recognize it as his own.
“Not exactly. I mean, sort of. I was hoping I could talk to you. My name is Carter Evans and I—”
But he didn’t get to finish. Harper gasped and fell back a step, his face draining of color. “Is this a joke of some kind?” he whispered.
“No! I’m really him. The editor-in-chief of Astounding! magazine.” And currently its only full-time employee, but he skipped that bit. “You and I have had sort of… a correspondence.” He waved the envelope slightly, as if that would explain everything.
Harper’s obvious attempts to get himself under control took several moments. Finally he gave a shaky little nod. “I’m sorry, Mr. Evans. I didn’t expect you.”
“Of course you didn’t. And I’m Carter, okay?”
That brought a ghost of a smile to Harper’s face. “I’m John.”
“Can we talk somewhere, John? I can take you out to coffee, or….”John stepped slightly to the side and gestured toward the inside of his house. “Please. Come in.”
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Secondly, we have Rattlesnake:
A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.
On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.
Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.
Shane’s face had flushed slightly. “I’m really sorry, man. My dad’s old-school. Once he adjusted to me being gay—which took a while—he decided to police my dating life. Which, as you pointed out, I’m way too old for. Oh, and I can’t believe I never even introduced myself. Shane Little.”
Oh fuck. He was queer, and he was adorable. Jimmy gritted his teeth under his smile. “You already know my name. And it’s nice that he cares.”
“He cares, Mom cares, Aunt Belinda cares. I can’t do anything around here without the entire town knowing right away. I’m really not that interesting, but I guess folks here find their entertainment where they can.”
“Yeah. Small towns are like that.” Jimmy squinted at him. “Do the locals give you a hard time about being gay?”
“Nah. Some used to, years ago. Until I beat the crap out a couple of them. I used to be stronger, and besides, Jesse—” A shadow briefly passed over his face. With a visible effort, he smiled. “So what are you going to do about your car? Hank’s got a pretty good shop and he won’t rip you off.”
“Out of my budget. Besides, even if I had the money, it wouldn’t be worth it. I got more miles out of that Ford than I expected to, so that’s all right.”
Now Shane looked concerned. “So what will you do?”
“Wherever someone will take me,” Jimmy replied.
Their waitress appeared beside the table. “Anything else?” she asked Jimmy.
He didn’t want to go just yet. But his belly was full, and any further conversation with Shane was probably going to frustrate him. Already Jimmy wanted to reach across the table and touch Shane’s hair, maybe run a finger across his scars. “Just the check. Thanks.”
“Mine too,” Shane said, but his thoughts were clearly elsewhere. As soon as she took their plates away, he leaned forward. “You don’t have to go, do you? I mean, you’re not, um, on the run from the law, are you?”
That made Jimmy laugh. “I’ve done some stupid shit, but never bad enough to make me a fugitive.”
“If I google you, I won’t find you on the Ten Most Wanted list?”
“So.” Shane traced his finger through a bit of spilled sugar on the tabletop, worrying at his lip and not meeting Jimmy’s gaze. He finally looked up again. “So you could stick around here for a while. If you had a place to stay and a job.”
God damn it! You don’t hope. You don’t want. That only leads to destruction. But Jimmy felt himself nod. “I could. For a short time.”Grinning as if he’d won an argument, Shane leaned back in his chair. “So what are your job skills?”
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And third in our line-up today, Brute:
Brute leads a lonely life in a world where magic is commonplace. He is seven and a half feet of ugly, and of disreputable descent. No one, including Brute, expects him to be more than a laborer. But heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and when he is maimed while rescuing a prince, Brute’s life changes abruptly. He is summoned to serve at the palace in Tellomer as a guard for a single prisoner. It sounds easy but turns out to be the challenge of his life.
Rumors say the prisoner, Gray Leynham, is a witch and a traitor. What is certain is that he has spent years in misery: blind, chained, and rendered nearly mute by an extreme stutter. And he dreams of people’s deaths—dreams that come true.
As Brute becomes accustomed to palace life and gets to know Gray, he discovers his own worth, first as a friend and a man and then as a lover. But Brute also learns heroes sometimes face difficult choices and that doing what is right can bring danger of its own.
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1. Although I’m fluent only in English, I’ve studied Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Latin, and Russian, plus I can manage a bit of basic Croatian. You never know when languages will be helpful! Last year I was in Portugal trying to direct a taxi driver. Since I don’t speak Portuguese and he didn’t speak English, we ended up having a conversation in rudimentary French. It worked! I got where I wanted to go. (Also, I gotta say—Portuguese taxi drivers are awesome.) Some of my characters end up dabbling in languages too, although this ends up being a pain during edits. Good luck finding someone who can accurately check your Latin and Croatian. Also, it turns out that I have a speech impediment and can’t roll my r’s. Not a problem in English, but an issue in some other languages.
2. I went through a punk period in high school, which I never completely outgrew. Back then it was safety pins in my ears, Vans sneakers or Docs, and the Ramones on my stereo. (Yes! A stereo record player! I am ancient.) Today I listen on my iPhone, but I still wear Docs and occasionally dye my hair interesting colors.
3. I’m short. As in exactly five feet tall. I like to think I’m much taller in print.
4. My day job is university professor, and as part of that job, I write textbooks. I enjoy writing in any form, but I have to say, m/m romance is a lot more fun. Plus, I never get fan mail for my textbooks.
5. I don’t actually think this is a little-known fact, but I love to travel. I do it as often as possible. I’m lucky to live in California, where I can be in all sorts of interesting places with a few hours’ drive. But my dream is to retire early and travel the world with my husband, spending several weeks in each place so we really get a chance to know the place. And of course, I’ll use the travel as inspiration for my writing.
6. I donate all the royalties from my self-published books—including self-published audiobooks—to Doctors Without Borders.
More about Kim:
Kim Fielding lives in California and travels as often as she can manage. A professor by day, at night she rushes into a phonebooth to change into her author costume (which involves comfy clothes instead of Spandex and is, sadly, lacking a cape). Her superpowers include the ability to write nearly anywhere, often while simultaneously doling out homework assistance to her children. Her favorite word to describe herself is "eclectic" and she finally got that third tattoo.
Thanks for joining us today. Come back next week as we continue our celebrations with more info about Kim's books, a personal story she's chosen to share, plus another chance to win!
Until then, happy reading!