Spotlight & Excerpt: New Life in Autumn + Giveaway

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A New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams
Michael G. Williams has a new gay sci-fi mystery out, Books of Autumn book 2: A New Life in Autumn. And there’s a giveaway!

THE HARDEST PART OF DYING IS DECIDING HOW TO PASS THE TIME

Valerius Bakhoum died and kept no living. Now he can walk the streets of his city with a new face and a new name and finally feel a little bit respected. Too bad he’s still flat broke and behind on the rent. Unsure what to do with himself—and perhaps even of who he is—Valerius resumes his career as a detective by taking up the oldest case in his files: where do the children go?

Throughout his own youth on the streets of Autumn, last of the Great Flying Cities, Valerius knew his fellow runaways disappear from back alleys and other hiding places more than people realize. Street kids even have a myth to explain it: the Gotchas, who steal them away in the night. With nothing but time on his hands, Valerius dives in head-first to settle the question once and for all and runs smack into a more pressing mystery:

Who killed one of Valerius’ former lovers?

And do they know he’s still alive?

Return to the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius Bakhoum’s side as he shines a light into shadowy corners and finds secrets both sacred and profane with shockingly personal connections to who he was—and who he might become.

Warnings: This book does involve mild violence, capture and impending torture by antagonists, and discussion of the murder of children.

About the Series:

What would you do if you found yourself free at last–and all alone–in the sin-drenched paradise you were told you’d never reach?

Books of Autumn is a series telling the story of Valerius Bakhoum, a down and out private eye in Autumn, last of the great flying Cities, at various points in his life.

In A Fall in Autumn (2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award), we meet Valerius as he winds down his career and his too-short life.

In New Life in Autumn, Valerius navigates a surprising second chance and questions of who he is–and who he might become.

Walk the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius’ side in this award-winning study of the kindness and compassion found in the places where humanity’s lowest ambitions lurk!

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Excerpt

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Across three quarters of the City of Autumn, street kids are an unthinkable paradox. For the most part, the Pluses and the PlusPlus and all the other manifold forms of intentional humankinds only ever run into the sorts of kids someone wanted badly enough to design. There are already a billion people in the world between the Empire, the Eastern Expanse, and the less-organized places nobody’s fought over quite yet. Having kids willy-nilly wouldn’t add up, not with so many people already in line for the breakfast bar. That’s one of the many objections the Spiralists put forward to continued cultivation of Artisanal Humans like me—well, like I was.

That’s going to take some getting used to.

Anyway, widespread cultural insistence on bespoke offspring leaves a lot of kids out in the cold, literally. The ones I described before, orphaned by chance or abandoned for turning out imperfect or who got tired of their old life and decided to chase a new one are, in the remaining fourth-to-fifth of the City, as common as cobblestones and just as underfoot. There are plenty of them, and the supply continually refreshes, and I went to distinctly other streets than theirs. It isn’t that I wanted to avoid them, but talking would have taken money or some sort of barter and I was too short by half on either. I suspected it would have generated too much information rather than too little. A street kid asked to tell a story for a steam bun or a little reliably spendable scrip will gin up all the story you want and then some. I didn’t need urban legends. I needed facts, and that meant a much more gruesome start than some urchin milking my wallet with tall tales of what goes bump in the night.

I mentioned to Clodia one time that I had a friend who worked the Cisterns. The City of Autumn is like any town: its people have to piss like anybody else and its gutters often swell with rain. Autumn routinely flies into weather systems to gather up fresh water, and there’s a vast infrastructure to purify it for use by humankinds. I could spend ten pages telling you about the ponds in Down Preserves where rainwater burbles and bubbles under pressure, mixing in fresh air. The whole City sleeps atop a bed stuffed with pumps and gravity lines, charcoal and scrub algae, grates and artificial reefs and purpose-built shrimp—but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll simply say this: by the time water gets to us, the only thing left is the scent of the air where it first fell as rain. I don’t understand how the process works. I don’t care, either. The important thing, the thing none of us think about too much in case it, too, is another pretty lie in the quilt of them we make over our lives, is it happens. Sip from Lotta’s to remember the dead, cup your hands in the fountains of Domino, turn on a tap in the average Autumn kitchen, and you’ll enjoy the aroma of a field somewhere in Afrique, or a mutant blossom somewhere on a nameless plain in the vast Recovery Zone between Big River and the Salt Flat.

But on the other end of the system? Once all that delicious water has run its course through bodies and beer kegs and ice machines and steam plants?

That’s called Cistern Intake. I knew a gal who worked that part of the system. You could smell it on her from ten meters away. I always felt sorry for her, because it was so baked into her skin, ground down into her pores, she didn’t even smell it anymore herself.

On the plus side, she always had plenty of room in a bar. Nobody crowded her for long.

Frankie was a Mannie. Generally speaking, no variety of Plus—nice, “normal” people with designer genes—would even be considered for her job. Even applying for it might result in getting a replication error assessment. Odds are good you’ve already heard the story from a few years ago about the PlusPlus whose big ideas on “lived egalitarianism” got her carted off for genotoxicity screening. What most folks don’t know, however, is it was a stunt on both sides. Sure, she only wanted to make a point by suing the City for the right to join a scrubber team, not actually take the job if they offered it. But the City went out of its way to make the counterpoint in response, escorting her kicking and screaming away from the workhouse where they keep the little gliders they use to clean the Fore Barrier’s external face.

I assume she hoped to drum up publicity for her so-called perverse beliefs. I think she expected the City would do something to make an example of her, sure, but something more symbolic. You know, a big fine she could never pay, or maybe a few nights in the Palace of Imperial Justice. Something Imperial media could print without making anybody lose their lunch.

Instead, they dragged her —did I mention the kicking and screaming?—straight to the Hive. No trial. No judge. No pretenses. The Hive is right there at the front of the City, and the tiny portion of it sticking out above street level is visible if you climb high enough in Down Preserves and look to the Fore. The joke goes, they put the City’s worst criminals out there so we’ll hear them screaming if we crash into anything. This lady’s worst crime, though, was trying to prove we’re not all equal, not in the lives we’re allowed to lead or the risks we’re expected to take in the course of them. It sounds like heroism to you or me, but to the powers that be, the Sinceres, the Spiralists, and all the other people who don’t care if the Empire is a heap of shit as long as they’re near enough the top to catch a breeze, she’d committed the worst kind of social treason: she’d violated the spoken and unspoken rules propping up the class system on which they relied.


Author Bio

New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams
Michael G. Williams writes queer-themed science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror celebrating monsters, macabre humor, and subverted expectations. He’s the author of three series for Falstaff Books: the award-winning vampire/urban fantasy series The Withrow Chronicles; the thrilling urban fantasy series SERVANT/SOVEREIGN featuring real estate, time travel, and San Francisco’s greatest historical figures; the science fiction noir A Fall in Autumn, winner of the 2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award; and a bunch of short stories. He strives to present the humor and humanity at the heart of horror and mystery with stories of outcasts and loners finding their people.

Michael will be the Guest of Honor at Ret-Con in 2023, co-hosts Arcane Carolinas, studies Appalachian history and folklore at Appalachian State University, and is a brother in St. Anthony Hall. He lives in Durham, NC, with his husband, a variety of animals, and more and better friends than he probably deserves.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Witch Wolf, by Alexa Piper

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Witch Wolf

by Alexa Piper

Paranormal Romance, Gay,  Dark Fantasy

Date Published: June 10, 2022

Publisher: Changeling Press

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Will is a witch wolf, a werewolf who can do magic, but his life so far has been anything but magical. He was sold by his own pack and for four years, Will suffered as a slave to his captors — who used him any way they wanted. Now, after a leap of courage has brought him to Colin’s doorstep, Will’s past should be just that, his past.            

Colin can see the new apprentice he’s supposed to teach magic has been hurt. Colin wants to comfort the young werewolf who takes to magic much more easily than he takes to human contact. Their attraction seems mutual, but how can Colin be certain Will even knows what he wants?

As slow affection grows between Colin and Will, Will’s magic does as well, and he allows himself a sliver of happiness. Except the dark past Will thought he escaped from is not quite done with him, and now, it’s not just Will’s life on the line, but also Colin’s, the witch Will’s heart is beating for.

WARNING: Witch Wolf contains references to past sexual assault (with none of it happening on the page), which may be triggering for some readers.

EXCERPT

 

All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

Will

Once upon a time, Will had sent wishes to the full moon with his howls, but what had come true for him were the slick slaps of skin against skin, stinking breath against his face, the taste of his own blood and other, unspeakable things. Will, instead of meeting a prince under the full moon, had been sold to beasts.

Will carefully turned away from the large form next to him in the bed. Everything seemed so loud in the darkness, the other man’s deep breathing, Will’s own, panicked heartbeat which had not slowed while he had waited for the small hours of the morning, refusing sleep. Will moved, inch by inch, away from the other man. Will refused to think what the other man—Ed—would do if he found Will sneaking out. What Ed had done was already more than Will wanted to think about.

Will had considered packing a small bag, but that would have been too dangerous. All he had dared was leave clothes under the bed, in such a way it looked incidental, forgotten laundry.

The floor was cold against Will’s naked feet. Carefully, he stood. He could say he’d just wanted to go to the bathroom if Ed woke now, but Ed was still sleeping, and so Will got his clothes, slowly pulling them up and onto his arms. He could not make too much noise. He had to get this right.

Will didn’t dare put the clothes on in the bedroom — loup-garouhearing was  sensitive. He walked through the dark house and to the kitchen, grabbing his shoes on the way. There were shards of a glass on the floor. Ed had thrown it in fury when Will had been too slow in getting Ed his beer. Will walked around the broken thing and quickly cleaned himself with a wipe. He gave one last look to the dirty dishes in the sink, then pulled on his clothes, more concerned with doing it as quietly as he could than about doing it neatly.

Before he turned the knob, he listened to the house, but it was quiet. Ed was still sleeping, and so was his pack of three, all of them loup-garous, all of them vicious. They might still hear the door, but if Will was ever going to run, then this was it.

He opened the door and crossed the threshold. Now, if they found him, they would know without a doubt that he had tried to run, and they would punish him.

Will closed the door as carefully as he could, but the mechanism made a small sound. Behind the house, the alley was dirty. Trash bags rustled in the wind, soda cans rusted and collected dirt. Will had to watch where he stepped so he didn’t make any more noise. His heart was thundering in his chest.

Out on the street, Will quickly broke into a run. He knew he had to put as much distance between himself and them, because they could shift and just hunt him down, and he couldn’t without the moon being full.

Winchester Boulevard, on foot, was quite a walk. It took Will an hour, and he ran most of the time, so when he finally got there, he was sweaty from running and trembling with the cold whenever he slowed down to catch his breath. The house he wanted had a large planter by the front door with a red and white plastic windmill in it. Ella had said the windmill would be there. It was such a silly thing, and there wasn’t even any wind to move its spokes, but Will nearly broke out in sobs with relief.

Will was scared to knock, but at this point, it was this or wait for Ed and his pack to hunt him down. And Will knew they wouldn’t just kill him. If it had been that—if he’d known that would have been the worst he’d have to fear—he might have given up at any point over the past four years, might have just accepted death. Everything else the loup-garous would enjoy doing to him—that was what Will feared.

He was huffing when he stood in front of the door, but he didn’t
hesitate to knock.

Will looked over his shoulder as he waited to be let in. This neighborhood was one of the nicer ones for New Elvenswood. The whole city tended to be largely clean and touristy, even if Will had never been allowed to see all that much of the place. The dilapidated house Ed and his pack had rented was the exception more than the rule as far as Will could tell.

Across the street, there was a light on in an upstairs room. Will imagined whoever was up was awake at this hour because of their own choosing. He imagined they were working late or maybe just reading. Just living their life. Will hadn’t lived in such a long time. All he’d been doing since he’d met Ed had been surviving.

The door opened, and Will flinched.

“Yes?” the vampire asked.

Will had known it would be a vampire, but still. This one, his sheer presence absolutely spoke to Will’s wolf nature, and the vampire’s demeanor made Will want to show his belly and submit. He was stunning to behold too, but in a sharp way: almost white-blond hair, icy eyes that had a hard darkness to them, a thin mouth set in a pale face.

With a last shallow breath, Will forced the words he’d prepared in his head out of his mouth. “Ella said you can help people in trouble. I… there’s a pack of loup-garous, and I need to get away from them. I can’t pay you, but I’ll do what you want. I’ll work for you.”

Will’s voice nearly gave out on the last part, because he started shaking violently. It occurred to Will that the vampire looked like a Viking, and his cold eyes were growing only more glacial in their regard. Will doubted the man had laughed for more than a minute in the last hundred years. And he wore nice clothes, really nice clothes. Will knew the vampire was a lawyer, but he felt silly now for asking for help. He expected the vampire to tell him to go and fuck off, just with nicer words.

“Come inside,” the vampire said instead and opened the door wider.

 

 

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Blood Omen + Giveaway

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Blood Omen by Kegan Tyler

Book 1 in the Blood Crusades series

Word Count: 34,844
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 142

GENRES:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description


In the dark of the night…

Thomas is a lone shapeshifter living in a world where vampires and lycans are known to man. He has the unique gift of shifting into any living being, but he feels lost and alone.

Then he meets André, the alpha of the Bramwell pack of lycans, who offers him a new life—and a home. Gunter, the pack beta, sees something in Thomas. Their attraction is magnetic and undeniable. Their primal desires take hold and Thomas falls for this beautiful man—hard.

But when a coven of vampires arrives, showing great interest in shapeshifters, Gunter must protect the one he’s grown to love.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of smoking, the discussion of past sexual abuse, the accidental turning of someone into a werewolf, violence, character death, and scenes of sex whilst in a werewolf-shifted state.


Excerpt

Thomas Allen Wright ascended the steps to the front entrance of his apartment building, sopping wet from the relentless rain and craving a cocktail. He realized as he entered the passcode into the security pad that he’d be walking into an empty apartment, and he would spend the night alone for the first time in a week.

His ongoing affair with Jonathan Greer, a corporate snooze with money and a raucous lifestyle, had come to a screeching halt as of late. For a long while, Jonathan had stayed with Thomas in his apartment, and was always there after Thomas’ late shift at the café. Thomas reminisced fondly about the countless nights they’d shared in each other’s company, all the hot lovemaking they’d indulged in. Jonathan liked to call it ‘fucking’ as he was still putting up a straight-acting façade for his black-tie boys in the office, which, much to Thomas’ discomfort, translated into Jonathan’s day-to-day life as well. And, somehow, it translated to the bedroom.

But perhaps that was why Thomas had been so drawn to him. Jonathan’s macho disposition coupled with his impossibly sculpted tan body made him irresistible. So much so that Thomas had found himself in the most ridiculous situations to be at Jonathan’s beck and call. He was too devoted, and for what? A good lay?

All this swirled in his head as he progressed down the hallway and to the elevator at the far end of the building. He slapped the Up button and waited for it to descend. He set his briefcase down on the checker-patterned carpet and ran his fingers through his dark brown hair, wringing out the excess water dribbling down his leather jacket.

Thomas knew deep down that he was an attractive man with his cerulean eyes and timid smile. But he didn’t believe it himself. He’d often stare at his feet when good-looking men walked past him, or when girls smiled and winked at him on the street.

Like his mane of brown hair, his loafers were unkempt—scuffed, scratched and faded—and their age clearly showed. He looked about thirty, but he never disclosed his real age to anyone, not even his closest lover.

He was a shapeshifter. The animal he transformed into most commonly was a wolf, though he could take on many forms at any given moment. He’d once been a panther, which was his second-favorite creature to shift into. He so often chose a werewolf for the obvious reason—if anyone in the area were to see him in his animal form, he’d not be blinked at more than twice. Werewolves were accepted as part of society now, no longer a myth. If anyone had come across him as a panther, he’d be on the local news and, more than likely, a hunt would be called. How unusual it would be to see an exotic animal that was most prominent in the jungle in the Great Lakes. Lycans had been ‘out’ to the world for about ten years at this point, so he figured he’d blend in posing as one.

Perhaps the most useful part of his unique gift was the ability to not just shift into an animal but to shift into another person. He had first discovered this when he was twelve, in the bathroom stall of his middle school. A bully, whose name he’d long since forgotten, had maneuvered him into the girls’ room and was taunting him, shouting obscenities at the top of his lungs and banging on the stall door with his meaty fists. Desperate for an escape, little Thomas had shifted into Becca, a classmate he was friends with, and pranced out of the girls’ room, laughing under his breath at the look on his bully’s face when she exited the stall instead of him.

This became a fun little game in his youth, and it had expanded in adulthood. By now he’d adopted the appearances of some ten or eleven figures, a couple of them celebrities, and he had found it amusing to trick and confuse those around him. He quite enjoyed living someone else’s life now and then.

The result of this special ability was that he had an alter ego. Evan Winston was his name, and he was a British scholar from Edinburgh on visa in the United States to study biology at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh. Or so he told people. A completely fictional character with an appearance Thomas had appropriated from a fashion model in the UK, Evan was blond-haired, blue-eyed, and had a nice large cock which was useful in bed. Thomas’ own was a bit smaller with a modest girth, and this, paired with his prominent ass, meant that he bottomed all the time…in his true form. As Evan, he enjoyed the pleasure of being on top and having a sizable eight-inch cock. What a dream it was to be Mr. Evan Winston.

Jonathan did not know Evan, and Thomas intended to keep it that way. As a personal rule, he never used his trickery on those closest to him. Presently, the two people that met that criterion were Jonathan and his best friend Shalese.

One other secret that Thomas carried with himself was that he could never visibly age past where he was. His real age was sixty-two, though every time he shifted back to himself, he looked about thirty. He had the most coveted ability in all human existence—immortality, or at least that’s what he considered it. He had the pleasure of watching the world evolve around him, passing through multiple generations while maintaining an appearance much younger than all he interacted with. He’d see friends age and once they noticed that he looked the same as he did when they first met him, it was time to pack up his life and relocate. He’d traveled from New York City, where he was born, to Sacramento and all places in between. For a brief time, he’d lived on the Mediterranean coast, but had decided that the community was too closely knit. Others looked at him with suspicion, and he suspected that several of the city residents knew what he was. He had lasted five months there.

When Thomas touched a living being, the DNA of that life form would transfer to him, and his body would keep a record of that form at that point in time—the age, the shape… Everything about that being as it was when he touched it, he would transform into. He could shift into a variety of life forms, such as a snake, a dove and a Northern cardinal.

He’d never forget the time he met his childhood crush, Ava Charlotte, in person. A superstar pop icon, she had been much more reserved and humble than he’d imagined. He’d shaken her hand, and she’d given him the warmest smile in passing. She was thirty-four at the time, so whenever he shifted, she looked the same as she was that day. He carried the memory with him fondly and would shift into her physique every now and then to remember it.

He’d seen all kinds of men from all parts of the United States, and he’d gotten pretty good at guessing what their cocks looked like. He estimated he’d slept with close to seven hundred men throughout the country. His favorite were the solid boys with a southern drawl and an appetite for ass. They always had the nicest cocks. It was the Jersey boys and the surfers that had the most obnoxious personalities, and the smallest penises.

Thomas reached his apartment door and dug into his pocket for his keys, brushing against the head of his half-hard cock. He fumbled for the right key and, as he slid it in, it reminded him of the times he’d don Evan Winston and slide into those beautiful country boys. He overheard a conversation between a police officer, Thomas’ landlord and the tenant of apartment five. The man was irate, shouting something about an intruder shattering his balcony door. The officer asked if anything was stolen, to which the man said no, not that he could see. The landlord muttered a comment about not paying for the damages. When the man’s voice raised an octave, Thomas took that as his cue to hide.

He flung the door open and closed it behind him, then shed his clothes, tossing them to the floor. He slumped down onto the black sofa and played with himself, fantasizing about Jonathan and the way he so expertly made Thomas come while giving him oral.

Thomas was aware of the fact that he lived in Jonathan’s shadow, and no amount of pity or self-reliance could change that. His mind was always glued to Jonathan’s body, to his full, pink lips, to his sizable prospect too often concealed behind slim jeans. When he came on himself, he ran his fingers through the fresh hot cum and imagined Jonathan’s sensual hands sliding along his torso. Then he envisioned Jonathan spreading his ass and nuzzling his crevice into Thomas’ face. As he fantasized about licking Jonathan’s tight hole, his eager hand traced his abdomen and reached for his cock again, working it until he came a second time.

In a daze, he rolled off the couch and grabbed his nearby shirt, using it to clean himself off. Then he grabbed his other forgotten clothes and stashed them in his laundry basket just inside the bedroom. He dipped into the bathroom and indulged in a hot shower, all the while letting Jonathan’s hypnotic trance take over him.

After he’d stepped out of the shower and dried off, he wrapped the damp towel around his waist then reached into the pocket of his jeans in the basket for his phone. He looked up Jonathan’s contact and dialed.

Four rings later, he was greeted with a melancholy woman. “Your call has been forwarded to an automated voice message system…” He pressed the End button and tossed the phone onto his bed in a mild fit of annoyance. Of course, whenever he wanted to get ahold of Jonathan, he was never available. But the second Jonathan wanted to get ahold of him, Thomas answered at the first ring.

He knew he was too tied up in this delusion that he and Jonathan were meant to be, or rather that they were good together, which in itself was a fallacy. He knew for a fact that Jonathan couldn’t give a damn about him and what he spent his time doing. He guessed that if Jonathan knew that he thought of him so often, he’d probably either shrug it off or ditch him altogether. This thought ravaged Thomas’ mind as he made himself a vegetable stir-fry.

As he was about to dish up the food, his cell phone rang. Eagerly, he bolted into the bedroom and answered. The rough, sexy voice on the other end was unmistakable.

“What’s up?”

“Hey, Jonathan,” Thomas said with a sigh. “What are you doing tonight?”

“I just got back from a twelve-hour day,” Jonathan grumbled. He sounded worn. “Mounds of paperwork and bitchy clients. My head fuckin’ hurts.”

“I bet it does,” Thomas sympathized. Then, feeling ballsy, he said, “Would a blow job help?”

Jonathan sighed, and there was a brief pause. Then he said, “Yeah, it would. I’ve been thinking about your ass all day. I want it.”

“Come over. I’m making stir-fry.”

Another sigh. “I can’t drive.”

“Why is that?”

“I’m a little drunk,” Jonathan confessed.

“Already? When did you get home?”

“Yeah, already. About an hour ago. Downed five shots and I’m on my second beer.”

“How about I bring the food over to you?”

“Mmmmh,” Jonathan moaned. Thomas imagined he was biting his lip. “Sex and free food. Sign me up.”

“I can be there in twenty.”

“Make it fifteen.” Click.

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About the Author

Kegan Tyler

Kegan Tyler was born in Pennsylvania in 1993. He has always been a creative—at the age of eight, he created a comic book series, and he wrote his first novel at age fourteen. His love of vampires and werewolves paired with his love of gay erotica resulted in his passion project, The Blood Crusades.

He enjoys pop music, horror flicks, Halloween, science fiction, the works of Stephen King, and video games. In his writing, he strives to represent LGBTQIA+ individuals. You’ll find his works full of LGBTQIA+ characters living their lives passionately and with conviction.

He lives in Wisconsin.


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