New Release Blitz and Giveaway- Ardulum: Third Don by J.S. Fields @ninestarpress @GoIndieMarketing #FFromance #giveaway

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Title:  Ardulum: Third Don

Series: Ardulum, Book Three

Author: J.S. Fields

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 4, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 106100

Genre: Science Fiction, action, aliens, bonded, captivity, coming of age, criminals, futuristic, pilot, religion, science, slow burn, smugglers, space, space opera, spaceships, telekinesis, telepathy

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Synopsis

The planet wakes.

Atalant is torn between two worlds. In uncharted space, head of a sentient planet, the new eld of Ardulum now leads the religion she once rejected. Emn is by her side but the Mmnnuggl war brewing in the Charted Systems, threatening her homeworld of Neek, cannot be ignored. Atalant must return to the planet that exiled her in order to lead the resistance. She must return home a god, a hypocrite, a liar in gold robes, and decide whether to thrust her unwilling people into the truth of Ardulum, or play the role she has been handed and never see her family, or her world, again.

Excerpt

Ardulum: Third Don
J.S. Fields © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
January 12th, 2061 CE

“I’ve just lost my last engine! We’re making repairs, but if we can’t dodge another hit—” The audio cut off. A small, blue light on Ekimet’s console went dark.

Inside the Neek’s main temple to Ardulum, Ekimet laid zir head in zir hands and, not for the first time, tried to will the light to come back on. It didn’t work. It never worked. All the power of Ardulum, and Ekimet couldn’t save even one Ardulan life.

The andal bench upon which zie sat lacked cushioning, and the wood was warm through Ekimet’s gold robes. Zir tailbone hurt from sitting and waiting—and zir heart hurt from watching and trying to coordinate a battle zie had no skills for. No one in the room did. The Eld had ensured that.

Ekimet brought zir head back up. Next to zir, Miketh tapped on the andal table, a thin sheet of bioplastic just beyond her reach. Her black hair had lost its red highlights. Ekimet hadn’t noticed until now, and zie didn’t have time to consider what it meant aside from neither of them having gone outside in a month.

The High Priest of Neek was on the other side of the wooden table. He was supposed to be helping, inasmuch as he could as a subspecies Neek amongst Ardulans. Right now, however, he sat, eyes unfocused, wringing his robes as he whispered, “Seven. Seven Ardulan cutters and fourteen skiffs lost.”

“Central, copy? Copy, please!” The Neek accent was clear over the transmission and startled Ekimet. It was a settee pilot, one of the Heaven Guard.

“We hear you, guard,” Miketh answered. Her hand shook as she reached for the bioplastic sheet. It was just far enough on the other side of the table that the high priest had to push it towards her. “Report?”

“The Mmnnuggl pods in orbit, both big and small, are now guarded by at least four of the oval ships the Ardulans can’t seem to hit. There are Risalian cutters out here too, and a bunch of ships I don’t recognize. No matter how much interference we run for the Ardulans, it isn’t making any difference. Nothing is making a difference. The Mmnnuggls are picking off the cutters one by one.”

“Is your squadron still intact?” Miketh asked. “No Neek casualties?”

The voice came back confused. “No, no casualties to report on our side. The Mmnnuggls only seem interested in…” On the computer console in front of Ekimet, another pale blue light went dark.

“We lost another skiff,” Ekimet reported in a monotone. “Only four remain, along with two cutters.”

“One cutter,” the guard reported hesitantly. A red light went out on Ekimet’s console. “A group of four pods just disintegrated the largest one.”

Ekimet squeezed zir eyes shut. There were over forty Ardulans on each cutter and two per skiff. It had been less than an hour since the Mmnnuggls had engaged the Ardulan fleet. What was happening? That the Ardulans and Neek would lose had never been in question, but they weren’t meant to lose like this.

Ekimet leaned towards Miketh and the speaker. “Tell the remaining cutter to—”

One of the skiff pilots cut into the feed. “We just lost our last cutter!” The last red light on Ekimet’s dash went out. “Ekimet, we have to land. We haven’t got a chance with the—” The line went dead. The final three blue lights died in quick succession.

There was silence for a long moment, followed by the uncomfortable shuffling of feet. The Ardulans were dead. Every ship the Eld had sent, every Ardulan onboard, was now scattered in fragments across Neek space. Ekimet and Miketh were…they were stranded. Again. They, and the Neek planet, had no protection.

“My lords?” The settee pilot was back. “The Mmnnuggl forces are leaving the engagement zone. Their allies are following. The Heaven Guard are still in orbit. Would you like us to follow instead of simply watching and reporting?”

“No!” Miketh said quickly before Ekimet could answer. “You have no weapons. Don’t make a threat you can’t carry through. Just…just come back.” She looked at Ekimet, moisture beading in her eyes. She hastily wiped at it with the back of her hand. “Just come home, okay?”

Relief flooded the pilot’s voice. “As you say. I’ll tell the rest of the Heaven Guard.”

The transmission ended. Miketh sniffed, and Ekimet did the same, although zie was far too well trained to let tears form.

“Is it over?” The high priest pushed his chair back from the dark andal table, his eyes on Ekimet’s chin, never higher. “Will they leave? What do they want?”

We are about to find out. Miketh pointed at the yellow line streaking across the dash. Call for you, Eki. We both know how this ends.

Indeed. They’d been sent here to die, the same as the fleet. Sent to appease the Mmnnuggls. Sent to keep Ardulum safe. Ekimet slid zir finger across the yellow line, and an audio feed beeped. Zie could have turned on the Neek’s archaic hologram projector, but…zie couldn’t look at a Mmnnuggl. Not right now. Not with so many dead bodies floating above zir.

“You have lost,” a monotone voice said over the comm.

“We understand that. Only two Ardulans remain, and we are prepared to surrender. We…we thank you for not harming the Neek forces.”

A low trill resounded before it changed to words. “Only Ardulans harm unarmed civilians. Only Ardulans would use a seeded planet of primitive sentients as a sacrifice.” The Mmnnuggl screeched. “Do you think we do not see a ruse when we see one? We have no hands and no feet, so therefore we have no minds?”

Ekimet tried to cut in. “We never meant—”

“You are of no concern to us. Two Ardulans mean nothing.” There was a whirring in the background, and then a new voice came on.

It didn’t have the usual clicking undertones of a Mmnnuggl accent. This voice, although deep and throaty, carried Common with ease. “Call your planet,” it said. “Call your planet and tell them to send the Eld of Ardulum and the flare named Emn. You have one week to comply.”

“One week!” Miketh said, her voice unusually high. “The Neek operate on stable wormhole technology. The time frame is unmanageable. Beyond that, if you aren’t bargaining with Neek lives, what is your collateral? The Neek planet is self-sustaining. They don’t care to travel. If you think Ekimet and I will get frustrated enough to call the Eld here so you can slaughter them, you’re as dumb as we thought!”

Laughter, biped laughter, came from the other end. “Underestimating the Nugels is a really, really stupid thing to do. One week, Ardulans. I suggest you start moving the Neek people to the cities. In one week, if we don’t have the Eld and the flare in-system, then we are coming down to the planet. Well, the smaller pods are, anyway. They’ll come down in the middle of the night when all the little Neek children are tucked snugly in bed, and they will set your forests on fire.”

“You will destroy the Systems if you destroy the andal of Neek!” Miketh exclaimed. “Their entire cellulose infrastructure is rooted in this planet. What happened to not harming the defenseless?”

Chittering rose up from the feed before the male voice drowned it out. “The whole of the Charted Systems is behind this decision. They understand the threat Ardulum poses. Physically, the Risalians are here, along with Minorans, the Oori, and more than a dozen other species from the Systems and the Alliance. A week is plenty of time to move the forest-dwelling Neek out of harm’s way. The Nugels are going to have their vengeance, Ardulans, and we will find the altered Ardulan woman. You just have to decide how much of your planet you want burned.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. She enjoys roller derby, woodturning, making chain mail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, but prefers female pronouns. Always up for a Twitter chat.

Website | Twitter

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Waiting for Violins: A Visit with Justine Saracen

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How did you get started writing lesbian fiction/romance? 

Basically, I have lived deep in fiction most of my life, though I suspect that is true of most gays and lesbians. As a child, I fantasized obsessively and of course with lots of kissing, but did it in chapters and dialog. It seems I was waiting for the universe to provide me a way to realize them in a formal way. That way was the Internet. I wrote fan fiction under the name of Elaine Sutherland for a couple of years, and then, when gay and lesbian presses came into existence, voila, I was ready.

We all know that fiction is more fun than real life. To be sure, my real life has been fun-filled enough. I’ve been in love, traveled abroad, learned a couple of foreign languages, gone scuba diving, swum with dolphins, etc. But I’ve spent more time working at a job, doing laundry/ shopping/dishes, parking the car, enduring the flu, cleaning the cat box, walking the dog etc.

In fiction, you cram all the high points together and leave out the drudgery. It’s way better than drugs.

What kind of characters do you most like to write about and why?

I write historical thrillers with a actual historical persons and LGBT characters moving around them. I’ve written about biblical times, ancient Egyptians, the Crusades, the Renaissance (Rome and Venice) and a great deal about World War II. In principle, I want to re-visit those events that we use to define ourselves, but ensure that the gays and lesbians, who were surely there, are visible. In the novel Sistine Heresy, it was easy because Michelangelo was almost certainly gay himself, so all I had to do was add a couple of lesbians (and painting, and ecclesiastical sex and torture) and I had my story. It took a bit more imagination to add us to the Crusades.

It’s also gratifying to try to get into the heads of great historical people, to try to imagine what was going on in the mind of Michelangelo, a Borgia pope, an Egyptian pharaoh, a Venetian Inquisitor, a disciple of Jesus, a secretary of Josef Goebbels, a soldier at Stalingrad, a fighter in the Résistance. You get to live a hundred lives (and fly planes, parachute into enemy territory, commit murder, torture heretics, visit the underworld, witness Hitler’s suicide, and have any kind of sex with anyone you want.) Did I mention the sex?

Tell us a little about your new release… 

Waiting for the Violins (March 2014) is the third of my World War Two novels and the most historical. When I moved to Brussels from New York a few years ago, I met so many people who had been touched by it. My best friend’s aunt (after whom she was named) was in the Résistance in the Ardennes and was killed by a sniper the day the Allies arrived. My friend brought me to see her grave and monument. Another elderly friend told of being surrendered at the age of three to a Catholic family by Jewish parents who perished at Auschwitz. We made a trip together to a concentration camp outside of Brussels. Deeply impressed by those accounts, I decided to weave them into a novel for which this is the plot summary.

Antonia Forrester, an English nurse, is nearly killed while trying to save soldiers fleeing at Dunkirk. Embittered, she returns to occupied Brussels as a British spy to foment resistance to the Nazis. She works with urban partisans who sabotage deportation efforts and execute collaborators, before résistante leader Sandrine Toussaint accepts her into the Comet Line, an operation to rescue downed Allied pilots. After capture and then escape from a deportation train headed for Auschwitz, the women join the Maquis fighting in the Ardenne Forest. Passion is the glowing ember that warms them amidst the winter carnage until London radio transmits the news they’ve waited for. Huddled in the darkness, they hear the coded message, “the long sobs of the violins” signaling that the Allied Invasion is about to begin.

litviakPlane

Name three things on your desk right now.

I write on my sofa, not at a desk. And surrounding me right now are a chaotic scattering of books for research and reference, a plate of crumbs and drying cheese left over from breakfast, and a sleeping dachshund desperately in need of a bath. (Oh, dear. I must give the impression of being a terrible housekeeper.)

What are some of your favorite lesbian fiction/romance/erotic authors?

– Sarah Waters, because she is so good at surprising the reader.

– Jane Rule   Until she died, I checked every month to see if she had published anything new.

– Jane Wagner, better known as Lily Tomlin’s wife. She wrote all the material for Lily’s Broadway show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life, the screenplay for The Incredible Shrinking Woman, and a bunch more of Lily’s material. A real wit, this woman.

None of these women can be considered romance or erotic authors, but there is such a powerful and intelligent lesbian sentiment behind their writing that it makes me want to belong to them.

Favorite dessert?

Duh. Chocolate, of course.  I live in Belgium.

(Lucky!!!)

Plotter or pantster?

I am always puzzled by this dichotomy since I don’t think anyone can write a whole novel without having some overall plot arc in mind, otherwise they just meander aimlessly. It’s only a question of how much detail you have in the outline in your head. Myself, I like to know where my characters are going in advance and what kind of trouble they’re going to get into. The creative part is filling in the details and dialogs and threading motifs through the story. A historical fiction writer is also bound by the actual historical chronology. Unless you’re writing paranormal or steampunk, you can’t have your heroines make love in a building that was bombed a year ago, or visit a temple that hasn’t been built yet, or be interrupted by someone who was dead for a century.

What are you working on now?

I’m so glad you asked. “The Witch of Stalingrad” is about a female pilot in the Soviet Air Force in World War Two. It’s based on Lilya Litviak, a beautiful young fighter pilot who shot down a lot of German planes and looked like Jennifer Saunders. I’m quite smitten with her, which I suppose is rather inappropriate because a) she was much too young for me, and b) she’s…well….dead. She was shot down herself at the age of 21. The other heroine is an American journalist based on the figure of Margaret Bourke-White, also a very interesting lady who was in Moscow (photographing Stalin) the day the Germans invaded. This manuscript has me in its grip, although research has been a challenge. So much of the biographic material on Litviak is in Russian. But to inspire myself, I bought a gymnasterka, one of those tunics belted at the waist that all the Soviet soldiers and aviators wore, and some fake medals. Now I dream of flying planes. This is due, in no small measure, to Julie Tizard, a pilot friend who suggested the subject in the first place and who has given me an unhealthy desire to get into small planes.

Let me end this interview by thanking Lesfic and Lipstick for inviting me to show off a little. Every lesfic blog and website and Facebook page keeps the ideas (the gay agenda??) circulating and all of you are part of the ‘show.’ Those of us who perch – or wallow on our sofas – for endless hours in front of our screens making stuff up really depend on your presence and interest. If you were here, I’d buy you some fantastic chocolate. Bisous from Brussels.

Link to Bold Strokes Books for purchases:

http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/Author-Justine-Saracen.html

Saracen Portrait

About the author:

A recovered academic, Justine Saracen started out producing dreary theses, dissertations and articles for esoteric literary journals. Writing fiction, it turned out, was way more fun.  With seven historical thrillers now under her literary belt, she has moved from Ancient Egyptian theology (The 100th Generation) to the Crusades (2007 Lammy-nominated Vulture’s Kiss) to the Roman Renaissance.

Sistine Heresy, which conjures up a thoroughly blasphemic backstory to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes, won a 2009 Independent Publisher’s Award (IPPY) and was a finalist in the ForeWord Book of the Year Award.

A few centuries farther along, WWII thriller Mephisto Aria, was a finalist in the EPIC award competition, won Rainbow awards for Best Historical Novel and Best Writing Style, and took the 2011 Golden Crown first prize for best historical novel.

The Eddie Izzard inspired novel, Sarah, Son of God followed soon after. In the story within a story, a transgendered beauty takes us through Stonewall-rioting New York, Venice under the Inquisition, and Nero’s Rome. The novel won the Rainbow First Prize for Best Transgendered Novel.

Her second WWII thriller Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright, which follows the lives of four homosexuals during the Third Reich, won the 2012 Rainbow First Prize for Historical Novel. Having lived in Germany and taught courses on 20th Century German history, Justine is deeply engaged in the moral issues of the ‘urge to war’ and the ease with which it infects.

Beloved Gomorrah, (2013) marked a return to her critique of Bible myths – in this case an LGBT version of Sodom and Gomorrah — though it also involves a lot of Red Sea diving and the dangerous allure of a certain Hollywood actress.

Saracen lives on a “charming little winding street in Brussels.” Being an adopted European has brought her close to the memories of WWII and engendered a sort of obsession with the war years. Waiting for the Violins, appearing in March 2014, tells of an English nurse, nearly killed while fleeing Dunkirk, who returns by night parachute as a British spy and joins forces with the Belgian resistance.

When dwelling in reality, Justine’s favorite pursuits are scuba diving and listening to opera. She can be reached by way of www.justinsaracen.com, through FB justinesaracen, and at Twitter as JustSaracen.

Thank you Justine for coming on the blog today. I am looking forward to reading your new book!