Friday, 3 March 2017

Guest Post and Review of Skythane by J. Scott Coatsworth

The Case of the Cover That Almost Was

J. Scott Coatsworth

Designing a cover for a new book is not an easy task. I've done a couple now myself, and it's tricky finding just the right model in just the right pose, and pulling the whole thing together to create a professional and compelling image that will sell your book.

I am an amateur cover designer, and I am in awe of folks who do this for a living.

For Skythane, they asked me who I wanted to design my cover for my first full-length novel. I found two folks I really liked, and ended up with the amazing Anne Cain, whom I liked for the beautiful layered looks of her covers.

Late last month, she sent me her first draft, and I was too scared to look at it. I mean, what if I hated it? I know how I react when someone hates my stories.

So I waited for an hour before I finally, nervously opened the email. I needn't have worried. It was absolutely fricking gorgeous.

We changed the background and a couple minor details:

With a couple more minor tweaks:

We had a wonderful “final” cover. In fact, it was one of the easiest cover design process I’ve been through to date, and the final cover was everything I wanted it to be.

Then the word came down from management that it was far too similar to another existing sci fi cover, and that I would have to give up both my font and cover model.

I cursed. I cried. I told Mark "I knew it! It was too damned easy." Anne tried another model, whom I absolutely hated:

And then I set about finding another guy to grace the cover. In a couple hours, I had him. He was perfect--dark, broody, with an attitude--maybe even better than the first one.

But life has a funny way of sucker punching you when your guard is down.

I showed the new model around, and one of my writer friends pointed out what I had missed. The new guy was the EXACT SAME ONE as the other cover that had been the root of the problem in the first place. And not just the same model, but the same actual shot. The designer had changed the hair, but once he told me, it was obvious.

I guess I have a type. *grin*

In the end, though, it worked out. I got to keep my original model, but we had to change the color, font and composition of the cover.

We made a few final tweaks, and viola, we had the final “final” cover.

I think the last version is even stronger than what we had before, and Anne was a pro throughout.
It doesn't matter how you get there, just that you end up with a gorgeous cover in the end, right.

I can't wait until we do book two.


My new novel, Skythane, is just out – and it combines my love of sci fi and secret reveals and MM romance. I hope you enjoy it!

Sue's Review: I always look forward to a story from Scott and Skythane is no exception. It is a beautiful, complex tale of a world unknowingly on the brink of cataclysm. The two main characters, Jameson and Xander, are brought together, and flung into a race to save Oberon. There are secrets and politics, beautiful men and wings. The world-building has complexity and structure, and the characters have pasts which overtake them. The humour and awkwardness between the two men gives it humanity. Both are changed; by the situation and each other.

I really enjoyed Skythane and look forward to the next book in the series. Now please.

5 stars and highly recommended.


Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnison, a handsome, cocky wing man with a troubled past.

Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.

Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them together.


Rain hit the plas and ran downward in little rivulets, separating and rejoining like branches of time as the storm whipped itself into a frenzy over Oberon City.

Xander Kinnson lay on his bed, head thrown back, watching the tempest with a laziness that belied his inner turmoil and pain. Alix had left him and gone missing. A year had passed, and still he had a hard time accepting that simple fact.

His dark wings with their jet-black feathers were stretched out lazily to each side of his supine form, their tips extending past the edge of the bed. His chest heaved slowly up and down, and he breathed easily, as if he were utterly relaxed.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Below the surface, under the deception of skin and sinew, his heart beat at a thunderous pace, and his mind raced for answers to Alix’s fate that slipped beyond his grasp.

The handsome trick he’d brought home rested his warm hands on Xander’s thighs, his hot mouth engaged elsewhere. Xander smelled the deep, masculine musk of him, slipping a hand absently through the man’s dark, tousled hair as the rain increased to a thundering downpour against the plas. The drops glistened, each an individual universe of shimmering light before running quickly out of sight.

A flash of lightning illuminated the room, thunder indicating how close it had been. As the heavy rain pounded against the arco’s walls, Xander rode the wave of pleasure higher and higher. Despite himself, he rose quickly toward climax, drawn up on the tide as the trick worked his cock. Unable to stop himself, he thrust his hips almost angrily upward into the man’s willing throat. Closer, closer….

He reached the crest, a pleasure so intense it burned through him like phosphorous, a white-hot fire.

Lightning flared again across the wet, black sky, followed by thunder so close it shook the bed. The storm had reached a fever pitch outside, and he arched his back in the air one more time, his wings rustling beneath him. As if in concert with the storm, Xander came, the release of his orgasm radiating from his hips along his spinal cord and down through his toes and the tips of his wings.

The rush of elation washed away his cares for a few brief moments. Xander shuddered, shivered, and shuddered again, and it was over.

For a while, he drifted in an oblivion that was blessed in its emptiness. The rain fell in a steady beat against the window, and he forgot to wallow in his pain. His mind floated free, with no responsibilities, nothing to worry about for those brief moments between sex and real life. This was what he needed. This lack of thought, this pleasurable oblivion where he could just be.

When he opened his eyes at last, the nameless trick was staring down at him, expectant.

“You’re still here.”

“I can do more, if you’d like,” the man said with a grin. Like Alix, he had no wings—a lander man.

Xander glared at him, annoyed. He was handsome enough, tall, dark-haired, with blue eyes and a light complexion. Strangely, he reminded Xander of Alix. The hair and eyes were wrong, but there was something about him, and that annoyed the hell out of Xander, for reasons he didn’t care to examine too closely. “Get out,” he said with a dismissive wave.

The man frowned. “I thought—”

“Oh right, your pay.” Xander took the man’s arm and slitted him a hundred crits from the wrist reader embedded in his own. Then he waved the trick away. “We’re square. Now get the fuck out of my flat.”

The man gathered his own clothes, but Xander didn’t give him time to put them on. Instead he hustled the trick out of the irising door, palming it closed on his hurt and angry expression.

I really have become a bastard, he thought, staring at his dim reflection in the shiny black door. It had been a long year.

He tapped the cirq in his temple with his left hand, and called out to his PA. “Ravi, any messages for me?”

Buy Links Etc:

Dreamspinner - eBook:

Dreamspinner - paperback:

Amazon - kindle:

Amazon - paperback:

Barnes & Noble – paperback:




Author Bio:

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 currently working on two sci fi trilogies, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi ( site, a group for readers and writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and paranormal fiction.




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