Publisher: (info only) | Amazon | ARe | Kobo | Smashwords | Goodreads | Outlook for Android
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Authors: Gregory L. Norris, J. Scott Coatsworth & Wendy Rathbone
Cover Artist: Freddy MacKay
Length: 40.8k, 228 pages
Format: eBook, Paperback
Release Date: 12/14/16
Price: 4.99, 10.99
Genres: mm romance, holiday, Christmas, gay science fiction, gay contemporary
Fear of Fire by Gregory L. Norris
Glass Artist Lucius Price works desperately to create a holiday symbol intended to help the town of Villatopia heal from a rash of unsolved hate crimes against gay men. When he is targeted next and his studio set ablaze, handsome firefighter Oscar Ramos rescues Lucius from the flames, creating a different kind of fire during an unforgettable Christmas.
Wonderland by J. Scott Coatsworth
Zeke is a loner his late forties, living in a small cabin in rural Montana. Nathan has been traveling across country on foot since the zombie apocalypse, dealing with his OCD in an empty world. Zeke just wants someone to love. Nathan just wants to be home again. Fate brings them together in a winter wonderland, but their own fears and baggage may tear them apart. Is there still hope for love at Christmas, at the end of the world?
Eve of the Great Frost by Wendy Rathbone
Remi has prepared for over a year to be the king’s gift at the annual celebration of the Eve of the Great Frost on the planet Niobe. Twelve men, taught under the tutelage of the Pleasure Master, hope to be the one (or one of several) chosen to spend an erotic night with the mysterious alien king who always wears a mask. But when Remi’s turn comes to be presented to His Majesty, everything goes wrong from a costume malfunction to breaking protocol. What happens next is a shock, and a night he will never forget
Excerpt from Wonderland
Zeke stared up at the darkening sky from the porch of his log cabin. The clouds were rolling in over the mountains, thick as cotton. A year and four months he'd been here all alone, since he'd last seen another living human being. At forty-eight, he was resigned to the fact that nothing much was likely to change in his life from now on.
A good storm was coming—he felt it in his bones, although the winter had been unusually warm and dry so far. He'd need to haul some firewood inside the cabin and check his food stocks. He scratched at his scraggly beard as he carried in the chopped wood to lay it next to the fireplace.
Zeke lived off a combination of trout from the Clark Fork River and an assortment of canned goods from the local Grocery Surplus store, but even that vast source of food was starting to wear thin. Winter was just starting—and still not an inch of snow, though that looked to be changing quickly.
Sometimes he wished that he wasn't the last man on Earth. He'd always been a loner. He'd lived up here on the slopes of the Reservation Divide his whole life, first with his father, and then these last ten years by himself. He'd acted on his impulses once or twice, driving down to Missoula for some big-city life in the town's two gay bars, but he'd never found what he was looking for, and now it was too late.
It turned out that absence really did make the heart grow fonder. He wished that he had someone—anyone—to talk to. He snorted. If wishes were fishes, we'd all live in the sea—one of his father's favorite sayings.
Maybe I should think about heading south.
The first year after the plague, he'd stayed put as it ravaged Thompson Falls down in the valley below. Even rural Montana hadn't escaped its reach. Even so, he'd run into one of the besotted, still living a couple weeks after the end, and had blown it away with his rifle. Its blood had splattered all over his face, but he hadn't gotten sick.
He shrugged. Someone had to be immune. Maybe I was the unlucky sod.
Zeke covered the rest of the wood with a new waterproof tarp to keep out the snow and sleet. That was one advantage of being the last man in the world—there were so many things at his disposal, right there for the taking, and he didn't have to pay a dime for them.
He snorted. Money—such a strange, strange thing. Sometimes he would crack open a cash register in town to grab a handful of metal coins—quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies—just to run them through his hands.
He cranked up the generator out back and went into his library room to check the shortwave radio, just like he'd done every day since the plague. It was his ritual, though he'd long since given up hope.
He sat down and scanned through the bands, listening intently for anything signifying human contact. There was only static.
Zeke went back outside and sniffed the air. Cold wind whipped at his beard. Snow was coming, for sure, but he should have enough time to make it down to the market for a quick supply run before the storm began.
He checked the fuel gauge on his ATV. It was low—he should probably top off in town. The first month after the plague, when he'd deemed it safe again to go out, he'd found a way to tap the underground tanks at the old Sinclair gas station, so he had all the fuel he needed.
He strapped one of his heavy-duty canvas sacks onto the back of the vehicle and hopped on, firing her up. He took a deep breath of the cool pine-scented air and then started off down the canyon toward the empty town of Thompson Falls.
Excerpt from Eve of the Great Frost
I stood quiet and still as instructed, my hands clasped behind my back, my head slightly bowed. The red jewels on my sleeves caught the light, winking. All twelve of us glimmered in rubies.
The pleasure master was a short, portly man with gray-silver hair tied tightly back. His black shirt was trimmed in white fur. He held a traditional leather whip, black as onyx, that he gestured with the way a conductor of an orchestra might use his baton. Since the new ways and laws came into effect, whips were for ornament only, never used for punishment.
Some said the new young king wanted to do away with slavery for good. I did not know. If it were true, why were we here tonight, clad in the Cloaks of Erotic Promise? Was it for the ritual and nothing more?
My stomach lurched at the thought. I wanted more than ritual. I wanted this night to prove to myself I had something to give. I'd trained hard and with great dedication. I longed to belong to another in pleasure, in surrender. Decadence, sensual ardor, red passion's heat—these were things I craved. To be worthy. To be wanted. I would not have sold myself otherwise. I knew my family would be taken care of by being chosen, but honestly, I was doing this for myself.
I stood on that gold stage worried, nervous, excited. My fingers clenched to fists, something we were told not to do. The sounds of revelry began to diminish, the volume softening across the ocean of dancing, moving bodies until only the voices from the guests outside could be heard wafting on the cool breeze.
Heads turned. The celebrants looked in the direction behind me. I was not allowed to move. I could not see what was happening, but I could feel it: the electricity of his approach; the change in air pressure.
The king had made his entrance.
The air seemed to flutter about me. Light and flame, gilt and tinsel—everything glowed. The great hall seemed too small to contain it all.
I could feel his presence looming closer, a psychic weight, a change in the dimensions of reality both subtle and dramatic. Everything blurred, all heat and distant ringing of stemware and held breaths mixing with raised pulse rates, the inner hum of awe, the rustle of silks as people realized they now occupied the same space as a legend.
Every part of my being wished to break formation, to turn and look upon the origin of this catalyst of change and upheaval, this man who'd brought an end to our suffering ways.
Only my vow of discipline kept me in my place.
The pleasure master said from somewhere behind me in a voice of wavering bass tones, "Welcome, Your Highness, Emperor of Niobe, Greatest of Venerables, King Shin. I have the honor of presenting to you on this glorious evening the revered and most exotic gifts of our land, the finest and most beautiful physical representatives of our male citizens, trained in the esteemed art of exquisite gratification."
An enthralling voice replied, "The honor is mine."
Review by: multitaskingmomma
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
I normally don't give a five star rating for anthologies for usually, the case is mostly a miss than a hit. Especially when the collection is so diverse despite the specific theme and there are some stories that just don't make sense in relation to said theme. Thankfully, This Wish Tonight is only authored by three writers, two of whom I'd never read before, and one, I am more familiar with in writing style. Of course I thought, sure why not. A holiday's not a holiday without a guaranteed holiday read, right? Well, this is not a normal holiday read. For one thing, this is TWISTED!
Note: Review is written as per order in the book.
Okay, let's begin with Eve of the Great Frost by Wendy Rathbone. This is a familiar sub/dom theme in a sci-fi setting. I expected, okay, hohum, another one of those and it did read just like until about halfway through where it began to take a left turn.
This is a story of a young man who signed up to be an offering to an alien king who'd conquered his world. For the first time, there is peace on the planet, but the people are not happy for it. They're the kind who like to war on each other and don't know when to stop. King Shin is a very intelligent, powerful and rich human who knew when to come in, and when to get out. The offering served his purpose, but seeing the young man before him, he couldn't say no. One night is all they have and Shin has to make a drastic decision.
Although the author's style took some getting used to, I ended up enjoying this short, little story. Always wondering about Shin's reasons for the way he acted, for why he behaved the way he did. True, he is not a most enjoyable man, being so confident in his manner and thought, I wondered how he would act with the young man involved. Keeping me guessing makes makes me a happy reader.
Second on the list is Wonderland by J. Scott Coatsworth, the author I am more familiar with. I expected the twist, and he gave it with full gusto. Now, this is a post-apocalyptic story of the first holiday after mankind's fall to a deadly virus. No, there are no zombies, but there are a maniacally hungry pack of dogs who used to have loving homes but are now hopelessly going wild.
The main man, Zeke, he thinks he's the only man left on the planet so goes about his days reading or going to and fro to the village to hunt and gather grocery and pharmaceutical products. He's not bothered to clean up, for who would mind when he's all alone? One day he opens the door and he finds a stranger who'd almost frozen on his doorstep. Being alone for so long, both Zeke and Nathan, the second man of the planet, took some time to get to know one another. It was difficult for they each had their own unique quirks and habits and...well, it's difficult. Period. Then, there's this third man walking and Andy is his name.
I really loved Wonderland, for there is a particular twist I suspected coming because of some foreshadowing, but couldn't confirm until I set eyes on the written words. When I did, I grinned...oh yes, this was a great read.
Now, for the final and third story. Fear of Fire by Gregory L. Norris, the second new author for me. This is a very visual read. If you've seen glass makers blow glass, then reading this gave the videos more sense. Lucius is the glass blower and he's been targeted. He wakes up in hospital after his shop goes to flames. His rescuer, none other than Mr. November himself, fireman Oscar. Crushing on each other tips the favor their side, don't you agree? Question is, who is out to hurt Lucius? Again, the foreshadowing clued me in, and it's nasty.
My only gripe to this story, hmm...I would have dealt with the idiot worse than how it was written here. Then again, I'm kind of a war freak, so there. No excuses! The idiot deserved to hurt more for what happened. I am happy that Lucius got his calendar man in the end.
Overall, this is not as diverse an anthology as compared to others out there, and as there's only three good-length stories, very worthy of you picking this up. Oh, and yes...everyone gets their HEA...and thank you, Scott, for not giving me zombies.
Guest Post from: Wendy Rathbone
First I want to say what an honor it is to be in This Wish Tonight with J. Scott Coatsworth and Gregory L. Norris. Also, a great thank you goes to Mischief Corner Books for publishing the anthology.
For this blog I am going to talk about a couple of my favorite subjects for writing (and reading) in the m/m romance and erotica genre.
I love science fiction,but not just any science fiction. I like character-oriented, tightly focused, romance stories. Though I love world-building, I still prefer to read less about the politics and more about the heart.
Writers are taught that every scene in a book must have a reason for being, either to further the plot or give insight into a character. I will go one step further and say every scene, including those associated only with plot momentum, must still also give some insight into character. A space battle is all fine and good, but one can never forget about the fact that real people with real feelings are involved, and how that battle might affect them is important. The same goes for erotic scenes.
I love situations where someone feels displaced. Or where things go awry of the plan. When such situations lead to unexpected vulnerabilities, interesting things begin to be revealed.
In Eve of the Great Frost, my novella for the anthology, I play around with the ideas of displacement and a character’s vulnerabilities. My story is set in my far-future “Starshiptopia Universe,” where many of my novels are set, all stand-alone reads, where the galaxy is human-colonized and there is a starship around every corner. I focus in on one character, Remi, on the frosty planet Niobe and tell his story of a night he will never forget.
Remi has volunteered to be trained in the arts of pleasure in the hopes of being chosen as a gift to King Shin during an alien Solstice celebration. Technically, he is submissive, taught to do as he is told, and offer himself. The pleasure slave aspect is there, but Remi is entirely a volunteer.
I love to play around with themes like these. And I love to throw in hitches and wrinkles, turn the tables, throw my characters off-kilter and test them. This story is not about the end of the world, or any major space battle or usurping of sentient rights, but to Remi, who has excelled in all his classes, a bout of stage fright and a costume malfunction can feel in the moment like the end of his world. And as for playing submissive, he has a lesson coming there, as well, and it’s not what he thinks.
One of my favorite things to do, especially in a shorter piece, is to take things down a notch, from epic to personal, and explore a single day or night, a single event. It is a lot of fun.
Eve of the Great Frost is about one holiday party, one gift to a king who is not what he seems, and one night that changes the lives of two men forever.
I loved writing Eve of the Great Frost. Remi and Shin were delightful to imagine. I hope readers will enjoy them as well.
About the Authors
I am a full-time professional writer, with numerous publication credits to my resume, mostly in national magazines and fiction anthologies. A former writer at Sci Fi, the official magazine of the Sci Fi Channel (before all those ridiculous Ys invaded), I once worked as a screenwriter on two episodes of Paramount’s modern classic, Star Trek: Voyager and am the author of the handbook to all-things-Sunnydale, The Q Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Alyson Books, 2008).
In late 2009, two of my paranormal romance novels for Ravenous Romance (www.ravenousromance.com) were reprinted as special editions by Home Shopping Network as part of their “Escape with Romance” segment – the first time HSN has offered novels to their customers. In late 2011, my collection of brandy-new terrifying short and long fiction, The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse: A Baker’s Dozen From the Terrifying Mind of Gregory L. Norris is being published by Evil Jester Press. I have fiction forthcoming from the fine people at Cleis Press, STARbooks, EJP, The Library of Horror, Simon and Shuster, and Pill Hill Press, to name a few.
Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.
Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him "the only one stopping you from writing is you."
Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way. He has sold more than a dozen short stories - some new, some that he had started years before. He is currenty working on two sci fi trilogies, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a group for readers and writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and paranormal fiction.
Wendy Rathbone has been writing for many years in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance and erotica. Her poetry and short stories have been widely published in magazines and anthologies, and won many awards. She is a Writers of the Future alum (second place, vol 😎 and has two stories in the classic, still in print, Hot Blood series, as well as a story in the scifi volume of the classic gay anthology Bending the Landscape.
While she has always written GLBTQ characters in her fiction and fan fiction, in 2011 she began to delve deeply into the realm of male/male romance and erotica. She has many indie m/m romance novels, the most recent being “The Moonling Prince” and its sequel “The Coming of the Light”. This year she sold her newest novel “The Android and the Thief” to Dreamspinner Press for publication in April, 2017.
Wendy lives in Yucca Valley, CA with her partner of 36 years, Della Van Hise, and is currently hard at work on a new m/m romance novel.