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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal

Effective immediately: Boosting the Signal coming out of hiatus

Given the political events of this week, I find myself moved to pull Boosting the Signal back out of hiatus. So, effective immediately, I am now open for submissions as outlined on the Boosting the Signal page.

I will continue to accept submissions from channels I have had open before: Carina Press authors, NIWA, the Here Be Magic crowd, authors I personally know, etc.

But moving forward, I am especially interested in submissions for progressive fiction of any stripe. If you’re a QUILTBAG author and you have some work to share, I want to hear from you.

As always, Boosting the Signal is a promotional column, not a review column. It is an opportunity for authors to get creative with putting out some hooks to interest potential readers. As such, you are not obligated to send me a copy of your work, but I will certainly not turn down free ebooks if they are offered. (I encourage you to keep print copies for reviewers, though!)

Any questions, talk to me.

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Timeless Tales, by Various Authors

One last post to clear my Boosting the Signal queue, finally! This one comes to me from fellow Here Be Magic author Ruth A. Casie, and even though it’s May, what the hey, I’m still going to run this piece about the holiday anthology she participated in. It’s called Timeless Tales, and Ruth’s piece, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, features a heroine whose goal is going to be familiar to all my fellow writers: trying to resurrect her stalled-out muse. If you feel the need for a bit of wintry holiday goodness while the weather’s heating up outside, this might be just what you’re looking for.

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Timeless Moments

Timeless Moments

Roberta’s review was on my e-reader and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was as if she’d plunged a knife in my heart then slowly twisted it throughout her review until the end when she gave the final flourish and dug in even deeper. I must have misread her comments. How could she compare my work with this JD Watson? I crushed the paper and aimed for the basket, but missed. Was her review her revenge for that shit storm on the open chat? It couldn’t be. That was three months ago.

I know. I should’ve kept my mouth shut. But no. Not me. Like so many faceless social media participants I spewed my vitriol. Except… I’m not faceless. I’m Beth Alexander, an international best-selling romance writer. People listen when I speak. My eyes slid close. I knew better.

To distance myself from the desk I gravitated to the window and pulled back the curtain. It would be a white Christmas, but the clean snow outside Havenport Inn didn’t cover anything up. Roberta’s review of SPENT ADRIFT, the latest book in my Jo Dee series was the icing on the cake.

The notebook for my next book was blank. I hadn’t been able to write a word since September. I was back here in my home town where I fell in love with writing for a family Christmas and a book sign for said rotten book at The Final Chapter Bookstore. Final Chapter. How prophetic. I slammed the curtain shut. It would have splintered into a million pieces if it had been a shutter. Tears dripped down my cheeks. Was it over? Was that funny little muse gone… forever?

The steam quickly out of me I looked into the dresser mirror. I forced a smile and blotted the tears from my cheeks. “You write romantic comedy about women, like your Jo Dee, who are strong, smart and empowered and the men, like Jo’s Detective Ryan, who deserve them. Ten books is not a fluke. Now put on those new Jimmy Choo boots and get over the bookstore and get things set up for tomorrow.”

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Through the Hourglass, by Various Authors

I’m continuing my series of catchup posts for Boosting the Signal, to clear my queue so that I can put the feature on soft hiatus while I THEN get caught up on my own work. Since I did three posts yesterday, I’m doing a couple more today to clear the queue, and the first of these is for the anthology Through the Hourglass. Editor Sacchi Green talked to me about how to do a post for this anthology–and the theme, lesbian historical romance, definitely fits in with my interests around here. If the words “lesbian historical romance” sound like reading catnip to you, check this excerpt from Connie Wilkins’ story “The Bridge”, won’t you?

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Through the Hourglass

Through the Hourglass

Blurb from the Editor:

Women loving women have been a fact of life for as long as love and women have existed. Who’s to say some of those sculptors of full-bodied stone or ivory goddesses weren’t women? We have always been here, in every era and every area of society, even though our stories have so seldom been told.

Fiction has its own power to deepen and intensify our perceptions and beliefs. Stories that show lesbians in well-researched historical settings, with passions fully recognizable today, rescue our past from invisibility and affirm our place through all time, past, present and future.
The stories here, set from Iceland in the 10th century to New York in the mid 20th, have been written by Ann Bannon, Jean Copeland, R.G. Emanuelle, Allison Fradkin, Patty G. Henderson, Heather Rose Jones, Lee Lynch, Megan McFerren, Cara Patterson, Aliisa Percival, Doreen Perrine, Priscilla Scott Rhoades, Susan Smith, Lexy Wealleans, Connie Wilkins, and MJ Williamz.

A portion of the proceeds for Through the Hourglass will go to these charities that directly serve LGBT senior citizens: Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and The Gay & Lesbian Association of Retiring Persons, Inc. (GLARP).

Edited by Sacchi Green and Patty G. Henderson
Published by The Liz McMullen Show Publications
November 2015

——

Upstream the river riffled over stony outcroppings, but under the bridge it ran deep and clear. Reggie leaned over the wooden railing and stared down into those amber-green depths, willing herself to see only a great speckled trout balanced in perfect stillness against the current. An ordinary Midlands English stream, all green shadow and shimmering sunlight and blue reflected sky. An ordinary fish. Yet she could not block out visions of bodies submerged in other streams throughout the ravaged countryside of France, flowing ever redder with blood until they reached the Somme. Even the songs of birds in flight, spilling over with rapture, warped in her mind into cries for help, help that could never be enough.

“Shell-shock,” the doctors might say, but it scarcely mattered what one called it. Pure, searing grief, not war itself—though war would have been enough—had breached her defenses. Grief for Vic. For herself without Vic.

By what right did England bask in such a May morning, calm and lovely, while over there artillery’s thunder still shook the fields, and men rotted in muddy trenches? How could she bear to stand idle in the midst of such peace when her place was over there, even…even with Vic gone? All the more with Vic gone.

But she must adjust, must let the peace of home heal her—not that anywhere felt like home now. Or ever could again, without Vic. If Reggie could prove herself recovered, not only from her physical injuries but those of the spirit—capable once more, clear-minded—they just might send her back to the war. An experienced ambulance driver, strong as most men, skilled at repairing motorcars and field-dressing wounded soldiers; here in pastoral England she was of no use, but over there she was desperately needed.

Reggie straightened abruptly, trying to focus on the tender green of new leaves, the glint of sunlight on the flitting gold and peacock blue of dragonflies. She shook herself like a retriever emerging from deep water.

“Don’t move!” 
The low, terse command froze her in mid shake. “There’s a nest…” The voice came from below, less peremptory now, but Reggie’s mind raced. A machine gun nest? She fought the impulse to drop to the wooden planks of the bridge. Surely not gunners, not here! A nest of wasps?

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” The speaker was almost whispering. “It’s just that swallows are nesting below you on the supports of the bridge, and I’ve been sketching them, but they get uneasy when you move so suddenly and might leave the eggs.”

A flush of fury heated Reggie’s face. Forced to the verge of panic by some silly schoolgirl! She bent over the wooden railing, an angry shout surging into her throat, and saw, first, a head of tousled light brown hair cut short about the ears. A schoolboy, then! All the worse! “WHAT do you bloody mean by—”

The artist looked up. The remainder of Reggie’s words, stifled, burned like mustard gas in her mouth.

Not a boy. Not a child at all, though she might have been taken for one if it weren’t for tiny lines at the corners of mouth and eyes, and a certain look in those eyes that spoke of a share of pain in her life; rather like what Reggie saw in her own when she was careless enough to look in a mirror. Her hair was really no shorter than Vic’s pale curls had been in France, and Reggie’s own dark thatch had been cropped a good deal shorter back then, a necessity in the filth and chaos of battlefields. She realized uneasily that it was about time she cut it again. Eight months in hospital had left it just long enough to tie back in a straggly knot, which she would have hated if she had cared in the least about appearance these days.

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Street Fair, by Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins

Today’s third Boosting the Signal catchup post features another pair of previous guests: the writing team of Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins! They’re on hand to bring you an excerpt from Book 2 of their Fair Folk Chronicles–a series which, since this book’s release, has gone on to include a Book 3 as well! In this short excerpt from Street Fair, two characters have a very basic goal before them: figure out how to get past a barrier. Without exploding. As you do.

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Street Fair

Street Fair

After what seemed to Megan like an hour of slow, careful walking and occasionally squeezing through tree roots, they reached the first artificial support. The walls started showing fewer signs of encroaching roots, and the earth appeared more worked.

Not long after that, Ashling stopped them. “We’re getting close. It’s warded. I’m not finding a way around it.”

Megan recalled the pixie’s occasional very precise movements in the tomb before and wondered just how many traps she’d allowed them to avoid, beyond those she’d seen evidence of. “So what now?”

“Two options,” Ashling responded. “Three if we had a handy backhoe and a three-foot-thick concrete barrier.”

“That bad?” Megan couldn’t help but ask.

“Only if we cross this line,” Ashling pointed out an imaginary line on the floor, “Or mess with the ward the wrong way, or mess up with anti-magic, or maybe jump around too much, or breathe really hard in this direction.” Megan and Jude both drew back a little, careful to direct their breath elsewhere, in case.

“So, we have two options. How do we get through?” Megan asked.

“The more I think about it, the more options we have. It’s too bad we don’t have a goblin minesweeper or something.”

“That’s a thing?” Megan knew she was going to regret asking, but had to know now. “What sort of equipment do they use for that?” After seeing the goblin market, Megan was trying to imagine what sort of tech or magic might be involved.

“Running shoes,” Ashling answered cheerfully. “Hopefully really good ones.”

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Raven’s Heart, by Shawna Reppert

Prior Boosting the Signal guest Shawna Reppert is the featured author for today’s second Boosting the Signal catchup post. If you enjoyed Shawna’s previous posts about her Ravensblood urban fantasy series–or better yet, if you enjoyed the previous books–then you’ll be pleased to see she’s come back with an excerpt from Book 3, Raven’s Heart, available now! And if you’ve read Book 1, you’ll be able to tell very quickly that Raven’s goal here ties right back to the events of that story. Because his goal is very simple: take down a very, very bad person.

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Raven's Heart

Raven’s Heart

From the Author: In this excerpt, William has just killed a clerk at Raven’s favorite bookstore, although it’s likely that the intended victim was the bookstore owner, Raven’s friend Josiah. Raven, together with his fiancé Cassandra and two Guardians, is trying to figure out who the next targets might be, and how they will ultimately deal with William.

——

It took Raven a moment to realize that Ramirez was asking for a list of his friends. Once, it would have taken a significant and believable threat of force before he allowed such an invasion of his privacy. Once, the list would have been either incredibly short, or non-existent.

“Cassandra, of course,” he said.

“Of course,” Ramirez agreed.

His tone said don’t treat me like an idiot. Despite the grimness of the conversation, Raven managed a half-smile.

“Sherlock,” he added after a moment’s thought. “But they are less likely to go after either of them, at least until they have run out of easier targets. The same goes for Ana. She taught William’s father a healthy dose of caution in the Mage Wars, and William will not have forgotten.”

Though in other respects, Ana would be a prime target, both as Cassandra’s aunt and as the person responsible for negotiating a pardon for Raven in exchange for his betrayal of William. The thought of Eric picking off the people close to him left him with a sick feeling deep in his gut.

“Other than that, it’s hard to say. It depends on how much William knows about my associates. He’s almost certainly the one behind this, with Eric just his trained attack dog. The fact that Josiah was the first targeted suggests that he is going after personal, not professional contacts, but he might not limit himself. I usually have dinner with Madeline Love at least once when she is performing in town.”

“Madeline Love?” Donovan asked.

“Opera singer,” Raven said. “Famous in the arts and culture community. I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of her.”

“Stop baiting my partner.” Ramirez said it in the same tone one might use to request someone to stop leaving the door open as it caused a draft. “Anyone else? Chuckie?”

“Maybe. We’ve worked together a few times. And of course he was instrumental in helping me prove my innocence in the theft of the Ravensblood.”

“Of course.” Ramirez’s eyes darted away.

Raven had no interest in flogging the man for past crimes; Ramirez did a good enough job of it himself. “As to others, he might target other GII members of the Wing who worked with me last year. He thought a moment longer. “The MacLeans. I would worry about them more if they weren’t all in Australia. Neither Mick nor his boys are easy targets, not by a long shot, but I’m not sure William would know that. However, I doubt William and Eric are going to travel half-way around the world to prove their point.

“Then there are any number of agents of GII I’ve worked with. It might be easier to get the list from Sherlock than rely on my memory. Generally, I am more interested in solving the puzzle than paying attention to the people around me.”

“Why does that not surprise me?” Donovan sniped.

Raven merely smiled as though he had been complimented, deliberately baiting the man. “Then there’s the handful of agents from the pub nights Chuckie finally dragged me to.”

“Pub nights?” Ramirez raised an eyebrow, clearly amused.

“Yes, well.” Now it was his turn to look away. “There were only the two times. Three maybe. Because Chuckie insisted.”

And because he could not deny his debt to the annoyingly cheerful geek mage that Cassandra had somehow managed to end up with as a partner. And because Chuckie did grow on one, though Raven would die before he admitted it.

Ramirez barely stifled a chuckle. “I’m just trying to picture you in a pub. Doesn’t GII usually hang out at the Barley Mill?”

“Usually, yes. If I am to accompany them, however, I insist on the Blue Moon. Though both are, I understand, owned by the same brothers, the Blue Moon has a certain understated elegance that I find acceptable.”

Ramirez shook his head. “Corwyn Ravenscroft in a MacMenamin’s pub. Will wonders never cease.”

“I believe we are straying somewhat from the topic,” Raven said.

“Yes, right. I’ll get the list of agents who worked cases you consulted on from Sherlock. And I’m guessing that Chuckie has a better idea of who was at those pub nights. Just in case they do decide to go after your drinking buddies.”

Ramirez said the last phrase with particular relish. Raven suspected he would be hearing about this for a long time to come.

“The thing we need to do is find William and Eric,” Raven said. “Rather than sitting around twiddling our thumbs and wondering when they are going to strike next.”

“You have any ideas on how to do that, you just let me know,” Ramirez said.

“I doubt he’s had the time to build the strength and resources for a hidden sanctuary like he had before.” Raven said. “My guess is that he’s holed up somewhere in North Portland. If I only could have managed a clearer trace on Eric’s teleport.” He ground his teeth in frustration.

“I’ll get Chuckie doing a search for any homes in the area with ownership that might trace back to William or Eric Blanchard,” Cassandra said. “If the Archmage was clever enough to hide his ownership through holding companies and the like, I wouldn’t put it past William.”

“What I want to know,” Ramirez said, pinning Raven with his gaze, “is can you take him?”

Beside him, Donovan made a choked noise of protest.

“The man is too dangerous to hold.” Ramirez answered Donovan’s objection, but his eyes were still on Raven. “We both know it. I doubt anyone on the Joint Council is going to call for an inquiry if William winds up dead rather than in custody.”

Raven rather doubted it as well. The Pro Tem Archmage had been on the front lines during the Mage Wars and had seen up close and personal what a mage like William could do. Mother Crone, with her Craft practicality, would weigh the greater good over rhetoric and the Mundane President was justly terrified of what would happen to his community if William ever achieved the rule absolute that was his goal.

Or that had been his goal the last time around. He lacked the power base now to achieve such a goal; surely even William in his madness must see that. This time, he must be after pure revenge. Which might make him even more dangerous, since he had little left to lose.

Ramirez leaned forward, deadly serious now. “My question remains. Can you take him?”

On one hand, he had the Ravensblood. And William might still be badly weakened from their last encounter.

On the other hand, William had had several years to recover. And Raven had barely won the last time.

He gave them the only answer he could. “Gods, I hope so. For all our sakes.”

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Black Angel, by Kyell Gold

As I posted earlier this week, I got severely behind on doing Boosting the Signal posts. I will be putting them on a more or less official “soft” hiatus for a while (meaning, I’m not actively recruiting posts but I’ll post ’em if anybody sends me some). But before I do that, I wanted to clear my queue of the posts I did have already! This is the first of these, featuring the recently released Black Angel, by fellow Outer Alliance member Kyell Gold. If you like stories involving anthropomorphized animals, particularly with queer content, Kyell’s got a character named Meg you’ll want to meet!

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Black Angel

Black Angel

Hi, I’m Meg. I’m an otter, and I’m nineteen years old, and I’m trying to get a handle on what’s real in my life. I mean that literally as well as—well, I’ll just lay it out.

I’m an artist and I recently got some time to myself and decided to draw this comic story I came up with years ago, about a muskrat who wants to be a voodoo priestess. As I was drawing it, I felt like I went into a light trance, and then the main character of this story talked to me. Or I imagined that, anyway. And now the frustrating thing is that I can’t draw anything else, even the commissions I make a living off of.

To make things worse, I started having even weirder dreams, about some weird Christian cult where girls are forced to marry at sixteen, where I was following this otter who’s attracted to her female best friend, which is of course verboten in this cult.

Those dreams felt really real, but I know they’re not. And I’d like to talk to someone about them, but—well, here’s what’s going on with my friends.

My best friend is probably this grey fox named Athos. We met online while I was in high school, and yeah, he’s older, but not that much older. And no, he didn’t try to put moves on me or anything. We were just good friends. Except the last time he was down here, we were arguing and he grabbed my arms and I just flipped out. I knew he wanted to be more than friends, but I didn’t ever see it as an immediate thing. You know? But him touching me like that freaked me out.

And what we were arguing about—well, I’ve got these two other friends, great guys. Sol is a wolf and Alexei is a fox from Siberia. They both had some experiences the last few months, or thought they did. Sol said a ghost saved him from his abusive boyfriend and stopped him killing himself. Now, I’m all in favor of people not killing themselves, but don’t put it down to a ghost. Alexei then thought he saw a ghost, and Athos thought he saw it too, and that’s what we were arguing about.

Because there’s this thing that happened to me a while ago, put me in therapy for four years and on antidepressants. If there was just one thing I learned from that whole stupid chapter of my life, it’s that ghosts aren’t real.

So you see where my problem is. If these are just hallucinations, I could go back on some kind of pill, but that screwed with my art as well, so I don’t know that I want to do that. Rent’s due at the end of the month and I have to make money somehow. And if it is real—then that other thing from long ago is real, too, and I really don’t want that to be true.

Meanwhile there’s this pressure to decide if I want to date Athos or not (he apologized for touching me without asking, you should know). And the problem is that I can’t even tell if I’m attracted to boys or girls. So I should probably figure that out first, right?

Sheesh. It’s gonna be a weird summer. Hope I make it through.

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Boosting the Signal

Inadvertent Boosting the Signal hiatus and apology

Y’all may have noticed that there haven’t been any Boosting the Signal posts in a while. This is not because I don’t have any to post–because I DO. But I’ve been swamped with trying to plan a bunch of my own projects lately, as well as not having much brain left over from the day job.

But I’ve been also trying to conduct a bunch of digital spring cleaning in my life, and that includes working on email backlog, which in turn means working on getting those lagged Boosting the Signal posts out.

Therefore, I’d like to issue public apologies to Shawna Reppert, Jeffrey Cook, Kyell Gold, and a couple other folks I think I’ve missed, about not getting your posts up in a timely fashion. I will be putting up those lagged posts this week, so please be on the lookout for those.

Once that is done, I’m also going to put Boosting the Signal on a bit more official of a hiatus. I have a lot of writing I need to do–as I called out in my post from earlier today, I have a lot of balls in the air and I need to focus on juggling them properly if I want to get at least one release done this year. So I won’t be actively recruiting Boosting the Signal posts for a while.

If people want to actively send me ones, I’ll be happy to run ’em, I just won’t be actively recruiting them.

And again, apologies to Shawna and Jeff and Kyell and the others!