Monday, August 17, 2015

The Homecoming by J Scott Coatsworth

Being a published author has been my lifelong dream.  Or at least one of them - the other one was to be an astronomer… but there was waaaay too much math. Oh, and there was the whole rock star thing, but I found out that I didn't have the voice for it.

I got the writing bug early. My Mom put a copy of the Lord of the Rings into my hands when I was in second grade. Within six months, I finished the trilogy, and I had decided that it's what I wanted to do.

About the same time, Star Wars came out. I was maybe nine years old, and I begged every relative I could get a hold of to take me to see it.  I saw it seven times in the theater. And I was so jealous when my cousin got the Millennium Falcon  for Christmas, and I only got an x-wing fighter.

I started out by writing a short story. I won a contest to have my sci fi story placed in the University of Arizona library (illustrated in crayon and everything). Soon I began drawing maps of new worlds…. Pages and pages taped together with scotch tape.

By high school, I was writing a novel on an old manual typewriter – this was the early eighties, after all.  I took the first page to my Junior year English teacher, and asked her to read it. I sat back, expecting her to rave about it.

She handed it back to me, smiled, and said "it's a good start."

I completed my first novel when I was about 28, and sent it out to ten mainstream publishers. It took a year, but every one of them eventually rejected it. So I gave up.

I tried to get going again a few times, but it never took. One day two years ago, I was complaining to my husband, Mark, that yet another thing had derailed my writing.  He looked at me and said "The only thing that's stopping you from writing is you."

It lit a spark under me.  I got back to it for the fifth or sixth time. But this time I did a little every day, I started with some stories I'd written before, freshening them up and sending them out. Then I responded to some anthology calls from Dreamspinner. The first couple were no-goes. But then I wrote one especially for a "bear" anthology called A Taste of Honey – and BG Thomas and Anne Regan plucked me from obscurity.

Now a year later, I have not one but two stand-alone novellas coming out – "Between the Lines", a modern day romantic magical realism piece set in the political world of Sacramento, California, and "The Homecoming", my wolfman-spaceman piece which is partially set in one of those worlds I created in maps so many years ago.

My dream has become a reality. And I can't wait to write the next chapter. :)

Title: The Homecoming

Author: J. Scott Coatsworth

Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Cover Artist: London Burden

Length: 20,000 words

Release Date: July 29, 2015

Blurb: When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

Hari reached the edge of the woods just in time to see Neru crouching to leap at the two-legs. Young fool.

He gathered himself and jumped after Neru, knocking him aside as his teeth reached for the two-legs' throat.

Neru turned and snarled at him, backing away toward the woods.

Hari stood firm, ears back, hackles raised, and drew the corners of his mouth back to reveal his teeth. Back off, Neru.

The whelp shook his head and grinned with the brashness of youth, until Hari leaped at him and nipped his ear. With a surprised yelp, Neru turned his head, deferring to Hari's strength. As you say, brother. There was a cockiness to Neru's look that unsettled him.

The other wolf backed up slowly then turned to disappear into the woods.
Hari caught a glimpse of Mavi watching from the shadows. The old wolf snarled, and slunk off after her son.

What do you seek, old mother? Hari wondered, watching Mavi's silver-tipped tail flicker into the darkness. It was clear where Neru's courage and cunning had come from.

Hari turned back toward the two-legs. He was holding a strange stick, not unlike the one that Hari's grandmother had shown him in the wolf dream.

But it was his face that caught Hari's eye. He knew that face. The two-legs' eyes were white-gray, and his jet-black hair was swept to the side.

Despite the danger, he shifted in the manner only a few of the clan are able to do in the cold. He grew quickly taller and less hairy but no less muscled, and stood naked before the two-legs.

They stared at each other for a long moment. Hari felt an immense attraction washing over him. He saw in his summer form that this two-legs was beautiful. His own body responded to this… man… in an unexpected way, seeing and feeling things his winter form could not. Hari leaned forward and sniffed the stranger, drinking in his musk. It smelled enticing. Strangely familiar.

He sensed the two-legs stiffen, and to reassure, him, Hari licked the man's neck.

The two-legs was trembling now like a young whelp, so he tried something else. He took the stranger's face in his hands and kissed him.

The shaking slowed, and then the man was kissing him back. Hari was hungry for him, like a starving wolf at the end of a long, hard winter.

It is not the time for this, the keh whispered in his ear.

He broke contact and turned away, ashamed that he was betraying his Clan, and for lust. An emotion of his summer form.

"I'm sorry," he said to the two-legs, without looking back. "It won't happen again." Even he was not sure if he meant Neru's attack, or the kiss.

He shifted back into his winter form and loped off into the woods after his pack mates.

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, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi ( site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

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Winner’s Prize: E-copy of The Homecoming.

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