Thursday, May 31, 2012
Fynn and Jack live together with their daughter, Tara, and Fynn has pretty much settled into life as a father and husband.
Things going smoothly isn't exactly in the cards for Fynn. The first of a series of murders shakes his foundations and his life starts to spin out of control.
Writing The Night Shift I knew I had to move forward in time to a more settled, stable Fynn. I wanted to write something that would test him, and I think I managed that.
Fynn is so much fun for me to write. There are a lot of little things he does that catch me by surprise. He's definitely one of those characters that takes charge of the situation and prods me when he doesn't like where I'm going. There isn't especially a lot of romance in this one, Jack and Fynn are a very sturdy couple, but I think everyone will enjoy seeing where Simon and Gabriel started, and getting a glimpse at Ian (Poisoned Spirits).
I can tell you that I am working on a third book, The Hellfire Legacy, and it takes place directly after The Night Shift. The author extra floating around is a teaser for it.
Excerpt from The Night Shift
Sharp, sweet and smoky tendrils of scent followed us. The stone floor beneath my feet was getting slick as Simon bled on it -- he ran just in front of me. Behind us the howls were starting. Throaty, piercing sounds that made your hair stand on end and burned into your memory as surely as that time you walked in on your Great-Aunt Shirley in the bathtub.
Simon -- my partner in this case and an unhealthily good looking young man several years my junior -- had been injured during what had been supposed to be a simple reconnaissance trip. The creatures behind us were ghouls; a nest of them had gotten together in a section of the Old City, and we’d been trying to make a count before taking affirmative action.
I wanted to set fire to the whole damn complex, but somebody overruled me.
“I see the stairs!” Simon shouted over his shoulder.
I looked up, spotting the sliver of sunlight that was our escape hatch. The ghouls wouldn’t be able to follow us out into the light, thank God.
After a moment’s thought, I caught up to Simon and slung him over my shoulder with a grunt. “You see one, shoot.”
“Yes, sir.” He wasn’t particularly surprised to be manhandled, I’d done it before -- not to say the boy was injury prone but… He rested the butt of his shotgun against my shoulder, and I went for the stairs. The howls were getting closer as I took the first step, and Simon fired a warning shot that sent a sharp blow to my shoulder as I absorbed the recoil. I ignored it for the time being and kept going.
At the top of the stairs I set him down, shoving him through the open doorway and turned on the crowd of ghouls that had paused just out of reach of the sunlight. They were ugly bastards. Unlike zombies, ghouls didn’t rot after they dug themselves out of the ground -- they dried. It was particularly unattractive. Several of them had huge distended stomachs to go with the long claws and pointed teeth. They’d fed recently.
“Hi guys.” I smiled and pulled the grenade I’d been saving out of my pocket. “Bye guys.” I jerked the ring out and tossed the grenade amongst them, throwing myself out the door, slamming it shut and running. “Fire in the hole!”
Simon took off and the explosion went off about five seconds later, blasting bits of building, and ghoul, into the air. Simon and I continued our retreat to the van, climbing in and shutting the door. The reinforced panels would keep off the worst of it, though I could hear the tinging as bits of stone and wood and bone struck the exterior.
“That was fucking insane!” Simon snapped, lounging against the wall of the van and panting.
“Aw, it wasn’t as bad as the siren in Humbolt Park and you know it.”
“One of these days, Adder, you’re going to get me killed.”
“Not today.” I took a closer look at his injury, a nasty gash along his side. “We’re heading to the hospital. Bronson, start her up.”
The slender, salt and pepper redhead started up the van without further prompting and took off fast enough to leave tire behind on the concrete. “You blew something up again,” he complained.
“No choice.” Well, there’d been a choice, but I’d liked mine.
“How bad is it?”
I looked at Simon, noting he had passed out. “He’ll be okay, just hurry.”
Simon wasn’t particularly stalwart about pain, it seemed he’d pass out at the drop of the hat -- if you didn’t know why. Simon had been diagnosed with narcolepsy, because what was really wrong with him was too unbelievable for the medical community.
“Is he out?”
“Like a light.” I maintained pressure on the wound. “I’m fine too, thanks for asking.”
“I assumed you were, because you weren’t complaining.” He took a sharp turn that knocked me into the wall. “Now hush.”
Bronson wasn’t technically my superior; we were basically equals, but I still tended to do as he said. For one, I was almost certain that if I pissed him off he’d curse me. Bronson was, after all, a witch.
I refrained from mouthing off and concentrated on keeping Simon from bleeding to death. All in all, not a bad day of training.
I hope everyone enjoys the book, and I hope you can be patient while I finish writing book three.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Two years of experience in the Night Shift and Fynn Adder still has a lot to
learn -- before his newest case drives him back off the wagon. Recently he's
been assigned a new partner, a trainee named Simon Murphy. In the middle of
breaking in his new partner, a grisly murder rocks the foundation of Fynn's
shaky sobriety. And not just any "regular" murder -- the murder of a child.
As more ritual killings start to spread out across the city, Fynn, Jack, and
Simon scramble to track down the necromancer responsible and stop them
before they complete whatever ritual they're performing. Meanwhile, Simon
has to deal with the overly ambitious FBI Agent Gabriel Sheppard, whose
dogged determination to put Simon's mob boss in prison is putting Simon at
risk, and hindering Fynn's investigation. As if that wasn't enough, the king
of the elves wants to have a sit down, Taras birthday is only a few days
away, and it seems the family secrets just keep on coming. The tension and
pressure just never seems to end for Fynn and his crew.
Get your copy today:
Fynn's early days
The earliest moment of my life I can remember with clarity was the day I
fell out of a tree in my parents backyard and broke my arm. I was eight.
All previous memories were erased when my brothers soul was first sent
adrift from his body. Some of those memories come floating back on
occasionbut they were nothing as clear as falling out of that tree.
The pain, the sharp sound of cracking bone and my mothers scream. I could
never forget it.
This was another of those moments. There was smoke all around me, heat
pressing in and screaming voices from those unlucky souls I could not save.
I was being dragged out of the heat and misery by someone I could only
vaguely see, the smoke was too thick.
In the back of my mind I knew the man was Braum, dragging me up the stairs
to the emergency exit from the basement level. I knew he was bleeding badly,
as my way was made easier by the lubrication of more blood than I cared to
think about. My senses were in overdrive and as a woman on the fifth floor
suffocated, I felt her death.
I felt all of their deaths.
Braum was dying as well, I could feel it. But he kept going, and I heard
rather than saw the doors fling open to let in fresh air and sunlight. Heard
him shout for help and throw me out into the arms of someone else.
I clutched at his arm. No, I croaked.
Got to be done. He squeezed my hand and headed back into the fire. He had
to set off the purification sealshad to because if he didnt the level of
death in the place would never be purged in our lifetime. Had to keep that
kind of stain from blighting Chicago. Had to be done now while there were
still living souls.
No one left in the building would make it out.
Sir? I was being forced onto a gurney, an oxygen mask placed over my
face. I coughed into it. Sir, whats your name?
I grappled for my badge, tugging it out of my pocket and shoving it into
the emergency responders hands.
I nodded, trying to slow down my heart and get my lungs back into my own
control. I coughed again, and it set off a spasm. I kept coughing until I
The harsh desert world of Persis has developed its own customs far from Old
Earth. Keepers are cherished as caregivers and helpmeets to Hunters. During
Emerald Keeper Teekas first Contract with Senior Hunter Brant, disaster
strikes. Brant is killed and Teeka is stranded, surrounded by strangers, and
unsure of who to trust. A dark and moody Hunter steps forward with an offer
of partnership and protection. Teeka wonders what motivates the scarred and
solitary Senior Hunter Quill.
Both have hidden motives for agreeing, and both are suspicious of each
other. But the Great Valley will force them to work together and build a
trust born out of necessity and survival. Between the dangers of the harsh
desert and the malice of a hidden enemy, Teeka and Quill must learn to
believe in each other to find the truth.
Pick up your copy today:
Emerald Keep Minah Tea Blend
2 parts hibiscus flowers
1 part rose hips
1 part lemongrass
1 part licorice root
1 part dried orange peel
Combine ingredients in an air-tight container and shake well to mix.
Boil four cups of water in a kettle. Meanwhile, using very hot water, warm
a teapot. Put a handful (about 1/2 cup) of herb mixture into a tea strainer
and place in teapot. If you dont have a tea strainer, you can do one of
two things: pour the tea through a strainer first, or simply let the solid
matter float to the bottom and pour slowly so it doesnt stir up the
Prepare two tea cups in the same way as the tea pot. Set them on coasters
or saucers. Place a slice of lemon in each cup and, if desired, a small bit
of honey. When the water boils, pour over the herbs in the teapot. Allow
tea to steep until it becomes a rich, dark magenta, or about ten minutes.
Pour into the cups and enjoy.
The harsh desert world of Persis has developed its own customs far from Old Earth. Keepers are cherished as caregivers and helpmeets to Hunters. During Emerald Keeper Teeka’s first Contract with Senior Hunter Brant, disaster strikes. Brant is killed and Teeka is stranded, surrounded by strangers, and unsure of who to trust. A dark and moody Hunter steps forward with an offer of partnership and protection. Teeka wonders what motivates the scarred and solitary Senior Hunter Quill.
Both have hidden motives for agreeing, and both are suspicious of each other. But the Great Valley will force them to work together and build a trust born out of necessity and survival. Between the dangers of the harsh desert and the malice of a hidden enemy, Teeka and Quill must learn to believe in each other to find the truth.
Pick up your copy today!
The Night Shift by Missouri Dalton
Two years of experience in the Night Shift and Fynn Adder still has a lot to learn -- before his newest case drives him back off the wagon. Recently he's been assigned a new partner, a trainee named Simon Murphy. In the middle of breaking in his new partner, a grisly murder rocks the foundation of Fynn's shaky sobriety. And not just any "regular" murder -- the murder of a child.
As more ritual killings start to spread out across the city, Fynn, Jack, and Simon scramble to track down the necromancer responsible and stop them before they complete whatever ritual they're performing. Meanwhile, Simon has to deal with the overly ambitious FBI Agent Gabriel Sheppard, whose dogged determination to put Simon's mob boss in prison is putting Simon at risk, and hindering Fynn's investigation. As if that wasn't enough, the king of the elves wants to have a sit down, Tara’s birthday is only a few days away, and it seems the family secrets just keep on coming. The tension and pressure just never seems to end for Fynn and his crew.
Get your copy today!
Digging a Hole by Julia Talbot
When Abel Wainright finds some random cowboy digging a hole on his ranch, he's not sure whether to kiss the hottie or kick his ass for trespassing. He thinks Joshua might be a little crazy, but when he gets to know the man, he thinks he might just be the one who's losing it. Will either man find what he's looking for?
Find out today!
Market Day, a Hammer story by Sean Michael
It's Market Day for Jim and Marcus, and Jim is feeling pretty frisky, wanting to play with his master just because he can. When a large latte sends him into an irritable funk, will Marcus be able to rescue the day and turn grumpy back into horny and, later, sated? Marcus and Jim feature prominently in The Hammer Series, in the novel Bent.
Pick up your copy today!
It hasn’t always been easy to write, though. I’ve faced dry spells, which are about as fun as trying to install drywall with a ferret for a helper. While there are many and varied tools that one can use to help oneself out of a drywall, today I thought I’d share the triangle of music, art, and writing.
I write three pages of longhand every morning in my journal. I got into the habit after doing the exercises in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artitst’s Way. These pages are separate from my story craft, and help support it. She also recommends weekly “Artist Dates,” where you take yourself on a date somewhere festive – and how you define “festive” is up to you. It doesn’t have to take money or a lot of time, just someplace alone, yourself and your inner artist.
In doing these, I remembered (or maybe recovered, as in discovering something lost from under a pile of debris) that I love art. I live in Chicago and our art museum has free days, and sometimes free evenings. I started going to look at the exhibits on a semi-regular basis and one year, even joined for the year and went almost twice a month. The influx of images, even just the smell of the place, kindled things in me that helped me become inspired.
Even if one doesn’t have access to a physical museum, one can visit the collections of many of the world’s finest institutions online. But don’t overlook even the smallest town’s offerings. I’ve been to the Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois, and the Museum in Quincy, California. There are things of value in even the most humble places. One can even find art in the library, if one starts to look at the lush, full color books of different artists, periods in history, or catalogs of particular museum collections.
The other discovery/recovery I made was in the area of music. I remember as a child spending hours listening to my favorite bands, over and over, in the seclusion of my room. Using headphones was a rare treat, since my mother was concerned about hearing loss, but I could – and did – listen for hours in my bedroom to various things on my stereo.
Now, with the internet, I’ve discovered services like Pandora that allow you to build a “station” around a particular music type. Sadly, Pandora’s only available in the states, but one can use other services, You Tube, and iTunes to build up collections of music that speak to a mood.
It was only a short hop between the enjoyment of music for myself, and the connection between my writing and the music. Particular characters liked particular music and, with Pandora, I could build stations around those characters. Rachel and I have a new release this week from Torquere, called Emerald Fire, and I built a Pandora station around the main character, Teeka. Teeka is a dancer and lives on a desert planet, so I built the station around the music of such ensembles as Beats Antique.
In a moment of synergy, one of the writers in my writing group is also a dance instructor. She and I got to talking one evening after group and I mentioned my Pandora character stations. She shared that she was stumped for an upcoming performance because her troupe had gotten bored with their “same old music selections.” I described the station I had built for Teeka and she proposed the band to her troupe and voila! I attended their dance performance last week at which they performed a dance to music I had suggested. Talk about a small world.
What do you do to support your writing or reading? Do you have special “reading music” that you use when you read certain authors or genres? I got on a kick with the band The Cars back in the day and now, when I hear Rick Ocasek’s voice, I’m reminded of Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster of Hed series because I had been listening to The Cars while reading it. What about you?
A. Catherine Noon
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
How did Memorial Day weekend treat you? It was good to me, but BA Tortuga has a terrible sunburn. Send lotion and healing vibes her way.
So, I was sitting here thinking about my Sip that comes out tomorrow. It's a western-ish contemporary called Digging a Hole. (Comment today and tonight I'll pick someone to win a free copy!)
Anyhoo, this is one of those stories where the title came first. This is not as rare as you might think in Chez BA and Julia. We often challenge each other to take a title and make something of it. In this case, I asked BA what I should call my Sip before I started writing it, and she said, "Duh. Digging a Hole"
I thought, oh, neat! What a perfect title for a werewolf tale. Y'all know I love dog/wolf behaviors in my shifter stories, so I was excited.
Then I started the story. This is how it starts:
"What are you doing, man?" Abel watched this crazy guy he'd never seen before toss dirt willy-nilly out of an ever-growing hole in the ground. The fact that the dirt was on Abel's property didn't make the situation any less crazy.
"Digging a hole. Are you blind?"
So I thought, look at that. A perfect werewolf thing, right? Until I wrote the next lines:
The only thing that kept Abel from kicking the guy's ass, once he could drag the man out of the hole, of course, was that the man was cute. Real cute, in a cowboy sort of way. Abel liked cowboys, which was good, since he was one.
"No, sir. Not blind at all. In fact, I can see you right there, on my land, digging up a chunk of it. Want to know what I think about that?"
"Nope." The guy never even looked up. In fact, that hat tilted down so Abel couldn't see the feller's face no more.
"Well, I'm fixing to tell you." This had to be the weirdest day in a month of Sundays.
"You go on ahead and tell me. I'll just keep digging."
Abel blinked. "What are you, a mole?"
"Nope. Not a badger, either."
"Well, that's good. Those things bite."
Werebadgers? Heck no. These boys were cowboys. BA even approved. So, right then and there, the story decided to be a contemporary western.
I love that about my job. You go where the story takes you, and that's that.
Digging a Hole comes out tomorrow on www.torquerebooks.com
Have a good one, y'all
Monday, May 28, 2012
Digging a Hole by Julia Talbot (Short Story, M/M)
Emerald Fire by A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilders (Birthstone Novel, M/M)
Market Day, a Hammer story by Sean Michael (Short Story, M/M)
The Night Shift by Missouri Dalton (Novel, M/M)
Sunday, May 27, 2012
As the title suggests, it’s an album devoted to tornadoes. The first track is even called ‘This Tornado Loves You.’ As I read over my MMF Menage Sip In the Eye, I wondered if I wasn’t just a tad inspired by ‘Middle Cyclone’ when I wrote it.
After all, In the Eye is all about tornadoes.
Not only do our three intrepid adventurers go on a thrill-seeking expedition in tornado alley, but their interactions are tumultuous These characters get caught up in each other, entangled almost violently at times, get swept up in arguments and, ultimately, swept away with one another.
What does the tornado have to say about all this? Well, I guess you’ll just have to read In the Eye and find out!
32 pages / 8900 words
Ebook zipped file contains - html, lit, Adobe and Sony optimized pdf, prc, epub
SampleAs Dale surged forward, the air seemed to get very heavy. He spotted Xu and Susi in the distance before he noticed the darkened cloud system over a bright afternoon sky. "Did you find Charlie?" he called to them, out of breath already. And then he heard the dog barking like crazy up ahead, and a familiar sense of trepidation overtook him.
Xu pointed way out into the distance. "What do you think?"
Jogging up to them, Dale stared up at the charcoal grey sky. The winds were picking up and, without any more warning than that, they were caught in a downpour.
"What the fuck, man?" Susi shouted, picking up Charlie and holding the puppy tight against her chest. Charlie stopped barking, and now sat quivered against her owner's ample cleavage. "Where did this come from?"
Dale couldn't offer any response. He'd planned on tracking storms, or at least seeing what the real storm trackers had to say this evening when they arrived at some cheap and cozy motel in Omaha or thereabouts. When he looked to his partner in crime, Xu said the same thing. "I haven't had a chance to listen in yet. I wanted to get my course-planning out of the way first." He held up his cell phone, shielding it from the onslaught. "I don't get reception out here."
"Wherever here is," Susi said through chattering teeth. Her dark, wet hair slapped her face, and she had to shout over the high winds. They should have been running, trying to escape this massive rainfall, but there was nothing quite so mesmerizing as a possibility.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Abandoned by their employers in a hostile city, Adiún and Matti, together with liberated slaves Devi and Sauda, must find a safe place to spend the winter. While searching, Adiún and Devi struggle to remember how to love each other. The unexpected return of some old friends prompts a flight to the mountain fastness of a rebel people. Have the companions found a home at last? Will Devi and Adiún finally learn the hardest lesson of all: that true love might just be the work of many hearts? Find out in this sequel to "Master of None: The Eight of Pentacles."
Both of the TIDES stories were inspired by Tarot archetypes. For MASTER OF NONE, it was the apprenticeship qualities of the Eight of Pentacles that informed my main character, Adiún. For POLYPHONY, it was the Two of Cups which often signifies love and balance.
Here is an excerpt (teeny bit spoilery for MASTER OF NONE):
POLYPHONY PROLOGUE: DEVI'S DREAM
In his dream, Devi was fucking Adiún, frantic and free, on the riverbank outside Keoded short days after his emancipation.
Adiún’s damp hair coiled around his wrists, twined with his fingers. In Devi thrust, and in and in, with nothing more than spit and river water to ease the way. He knew he was hurting Adiún, and he knew Adiún wanted it.
Heat fizzed up his spine and raced along every nerve until even his fingers and toes felt about to burst apart with orgasm. “With me, Adi-love,” he whispered fiercely in the beloved ear. He hadn’t been brave enough to use the endearment in the waking world, not since he’d been rescued from the slave camp. But in his dream, he was brave, not broken. He thrust again, courageously, wild with love and gratitude and the jagged shards of desperate regret and terror.
It was too much. The hair around his wrists tightened, solidified until it wasn’t Adiún’s hair at all, but strong hands grinding the bones in his wrists together. His thrusts into Adiún’s willing body became hopeless bids to free himself from a heavy, careless man with the face of any and all of the men who’d fucked him in the brothel. He’d never screamed in the brothel, hadn’t fought once; the procurer had beaten it out of him. He’d never hurled invective or ridicule. But here, in his dream, he twisted and hollered and tried to kick. Hard hands held him down, and a hard prick sought, then won, entry.
“No, no! Tides, please! I am not for you, not yours! Please!”
He came awake still begging. Sauda’s face above him was indistinguishable from the dark of the tent only by the brightness of her eyes. Adiún’s arms were around him, not restraining him but catching him instead, easing him out of the nightmare with soft words and gentle caresses.
“All right, love?” Adiún’s voice, sleep-slurred and warm, murmured from under his ear, tempting him to relax back into their blankets instead of letting his panic send him crawling to Sauda. He wasn’t alone anymore, and neither was she; they no longer needed to be each other’s everything as they had been in the brothel or slave coffle. That truth, welcome as it was in daylight, was difficult to remember in the dark.
He laid his head on Adiún’s shoulder and succumbed to the petting of his shamefully short hair, which even after weeks of freedom reached only to his chin.
Matti’s gentle voice reached him as the light in the shelter began to grey into morning. “We have you,” he said softly.
Devi nodded, hoping the others could see him do it. He didn’t trust his voice yet. Trusting anything but the nightmare took effort, no matter how much evidence of his new truth, his new friends, and his old love, presented itself.
His world was a tidal sink, and he’d forgotten where the solid land lay.
Chapter 1. Hunting
|From Jessica Godino & Lauren O'Leary's World Spirit Tarot.|
and were comparing ways to kill different animals with such mannish glee he knew Sauda was only moments away from joining in. To his knowledge Sauda had never killed any animal but men, and he had no desire to hear her thoughts on the best and most decisive methods. Better to cut the discussion off at the knees and endure his friends’ fond derision.
The four of them -- Devi, Sauda, Adiún, and Matti -- had remained outside the delta city of Keoded after bidding a bitter farewell to Gydha and their norvander friends. More farewells had followed, as a few days later their remaining troupe companions, the siblings Kino and Joh and Mari, had outfitted themselves for a return to Dinas hoping to make a claim for Kino’s lover, who was trapped in a brothel there. Devi didn’t like their chances of getting the boy free of his brothel, but he kept quiet on the matter. Too often since his reunion with Adiun, he had brought dark words and anger. That knowledge held his tongue now. Matti and Adiún were going hunting, and Devi had a bad feeling.
“We need food, and goods to trade, if we are going to make a go of it in the city.” Devi startled. Sauda’s voice came as a surprise. She was the only person who could sneak up on him, so vigilant had he learned to be since leaving home.
“I know,” he sighed. “I just…”
“Fret like an old woman,” Sauda finished for him. But there was no rancor in her voice, only the rough affection he had come to rely on in the brothel and later as slaves awaiting transportation to parts distant and unknown.
“They’re being insufferable,” he groused.
“Tell them so, if that will help you let them go.”
“You’re always so reasonable, tiba,” Devi answered, using the name for each other Sauda had taught him from her mother tongue. It meant ‘dear one,’ and she was, though he still found her frightening sometimes.
“Sure you won’t come, Sauda?” Matti asked. “Your knife will be welcome.”
Sauda waved him off. “I don’t hunt. I am war maiden. Would you like to know what that means?”
The grin she flashed was almost feral, and Adiún stepped up quickly, shaking his head and smiling. “I can imagine.” His face hardened to deadly seriousness. “Sauda, keep Devi safe. If we didn’t need food…”
Hackles up, Devi interrupted, “Tides, Adiún! I can protect myself, or did you forget I kept myself alive without you for months?”
Adiún’s nostrils flared. Devi knew that look from their lovemaking, but hadn’t gotten used to seeing it in anger. “I could say the same to you, all right? Keep each other safe, will you?” And with that Adiún planted a hard, possessive kiss on Devi’s lips. Devi savored the tingle as he watched Adiún plant a quick peck on Sauda’s scarred cheek. Matti offered gentle, shy embraces, and they were gone into the tangle of brush that abutted the road, Kibi the half-grown pup lolloping in their wake.
|From Ciro Marchetti's Gilded Tarot.|
Since the disintegration of Gydha’s performing troupe, Matti’s divination cards had been infuriatingly cryptic in their advice about what to do next. Jürn the juggler had taught Matti the trick of the cards, and helped him make his own deck, but Matti fretted that there was much he had yet to learn. Devi well understood the feeling.
Sauda tugged at his arm. “Come, tiba, there’s no reason we can’t make ready to storm the city while the boys are off playing in the woods.”
Devi chuckled, a rusty sound he was only just trying out again after months lacking mirth. He looked over his shoulder to where his lover had disappeared into the wilderness. Then he followed his friend, cautiously hopeful about what the day might bring.
© Lee Benoit
Don't forget, in about 24 hours I'll randomly draw the name of one commenter to either of today's Flashback Friday posts and award a $5 Torquere gift certificate!
I just renewed the contract on MASTER OF NONE, which is a novelette from 2008. It's one of two stories set in my TIDES Universe, an alternate history version of the Cornish coast during a time of intense culture contact. Adiún's people are the original inhabitants of the environment, and suffer under environmental degradation and social oppression wrought by Norvanders from across the sea...
A naïf from the coast, Adiún sets off in search of Devi, the lover who was taken from him the previous autumn. His travels to the city teach him hard truths about how his world is changing, and how little he knows beyond his own village. Arriving in the nearest city, he hooks up with a troupe of performers. They take Adiún in, helping him as he searches brothels and those in the slave trade for signs of his love. But when they finally find Devi, he’s not the man Adiún remembers…
This story is very close to my heart, as it started its life as a series of vignettes I wrote to distract a dear friend from a painful recovery from a bicycle accident. I'd be tickled if you gave it a chance!
All commenters to my posts today will be entered in a random drawing to win a $5 Torquere Gift certificate, to be drawn 24 hours from my last post of the day.
Here is the (rather dark) prologue to MASTER OF NONE:
Adiún blinked smoke from the funeral fire out of his eyes. Most of the villagers had walked away from the pyre, but he would stay until morning, watching over Melle and her babe until the fire died.
One figure remained on the far side of the flames and approached when Adiún raised his head.
“You will leave us now, I fear,” the old man said.
Adiún regarded the village story-father with bleak eyes. “Fear? Rejoice instead, for I go to bring the other half of our stories back to us.”
“And have you spoken with the mab rhi? Surely your father objects.”
Adiún looked into the story-father’s startling eyes --in his wrinkled, ruined old face with its faded tattooing they glistened like new coals, dark and full of promise. “I am not first son, and I am no one’s father.” He swept his hand to take in the fire. Melle and the infant were no longer discernible within it.
“You will not return.”
Adiún blinked hard, this time from surprise. Sometimes the story-father saw true. “If I do not, then our stories die with you.” Perhaps it was unkind to remind the story-father of his oncoming death, but the winter that just passed had taken so many, and had also taken Adiún’s tact.
“The oldest ones remind us that half our stories are dead already. We burned them with my story-sister months ago. There is no balance without them.”
“So even if I find Devi and bring him back...” Devi! His love’s name, spoken as the fire took his hearth-mate and Devi’s sister, wrung his heart.
“Even if you find Devi and bring him back, and with him the stories my sister taught him, half the stories, the ones I taught Melle, die a true death.”
Adiún looked out over the water at the little rounded fishing barks ranged along the shingle. He couldn’t imagine this old, pocked coast without this village. It had always been here, so it seemed. “Surely half our stories are better than none,” he countered, feeling like a child begging for reassurance.
The old man regarded him evenly. “Is half a heart better than none?”
“It’s worse than none,” Adiún whispered.
“Go forth, find Devi, but do not return. Even after he left, when you and Melle began to share a hearth, I had hope.”
Adiún heard what the story-father didn’t say; that now there was no hope. No hope for the village, none for the stories of their people. He remembered hopelessness from the late autumn, when the last caravans of strangers had come through, trading on their way to the cities of the eastern shores where the norvanders now ruled. Crops had failed and fish departed all along the coast, and whole villages were on the move.
Adiún stared into the flames and remembered the last caravan of autumn. At the very end of the warm season, when it had become clear that the crops would prove unequal to the winter, and that the fish would spurn their nets, strangers came as they had been doing all summer. Like all the young people of their village, he and Devi and Melle went to the guesthouse to offer hospitality to the strangers, completing their welcome and acknowledging their contributions to the feasts laid in their honor. All three lay with the same man, who said they were a pretty picture, Devi and Melle so light and Adiún so dark. Big and friendly, he took them with good humor if not much gentleness.
In the morning, when the strangers left, Devi went with them, with the laughing man, who laughed loudly and left more goods with the mab rhi. Adiún wept for his love and Melle wept for her brother and the story-mother wept for the end of the stories only Devi would know after the story-mother died (she knew she was too old to teach a new boy). The rest of the village rejoiced because the gifts the laughing man made to the village would feed them until the fish ran again in the spring.
When he and Melle had each mourned their grief to soft tatters, and wore it like old clothes, they raised their heads and realized they had begun to share a hearth, and that Melle was with child. Adiún called the child his, though none could know whose loins had sparked it.
The story-father’s quiet voice broke his reverie. “Take this, when you go.” He pressed the storymother’s amulet into Adiún’s hand, the vessel carved upon it digging into Adiún’s palm.
“He will wear it,” Adiún promised.
“And you must wear this,” the old man said, removing his own amulet and dropping it over Adiún’s head. Adiún stared dumbly at the round shell with its relief of the polestar standing out pale against the deep purple of the surface.
“I have no stories, father,” Adiún said bitterly, trying to smile so the story-father wouldn’t think he reviled the gift.
The story-father looked closely at Adiún with his glittering black eyes. “Your father intended to save our people, Adiún, not ruin them. The traveler wanted Devi and none other. The goods the he offered seemed a worthy trade, to the mab rhi. After all, one cannot eat stories.”
And with that, the old man walked away, his stooped shoulders wreathed in funeral smoke.
Adiún watched the dawn through the dwindling flames and drifting smoke of Melle’s fire, then went to find his father.
There was no argument, for Adiún kept the spark of his anger hidden, grasping the story-elders’ amulets hard in his hand to remind him why he must go, and why he must keep his own counsel. His departure would be scant loss to the village, for he wasn’t first son. His father nodded and gave Adiún a knife and pelts enough to make a pack.
At the next tide, Adiún rubbed his body with the cooled ashes of Melle’s fire, then plunged naked into the freezing sea, sending her spirit and the child’s onward. He emerged blue and shivering, resolved. He had loved Melle, would have loved the child, but Devi, even at a winter’s distance, warmed his blood until it glowed in his limbs.
He would follow Devi, even if it were across the western sea, as inescapably as Melle had screamed over the unnatural river of blood that brought their child. Adiún turned his back to the sea and watched the inland trails for the first caravans of spring.
© Lee Benoit
Sale good now through Monday May 28 at Midnight (est).
Spend Memorial Day with an ebook from Torquere Press.
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Thursday, May 24, 2012
George Fitzpatrick is a troubled man and former soldier from the Great War.
Ever since his return fifteen years ago, George has been hearing another
mans voice in his head, causing him to question himself and his reality.
His engagement to his fiancée has steadily been going from bad to worse, and
with every passing day George is finding it more and more difficult to deny
his long-buried urges and the feelings brought about by a man he's never
laid eyes on. Is it all in George's head, or is there something more behind
Noah Baxter, the man whose soothing voice invades George's dreams and his
Find out today:
"I have to go," I blurted, getting quickly to my feet and doing my damnedest
not to let Ann see my trembling hands as I removed a couple of bills from my
wallet and threw them onto the table.
"Yes," I interrupted, not needing the reminder that I was defective. A
broken toy soldier. "I'm sorry. I'll call you." I managed to give her cheek
a peck and got the hell out of there before I embarrassed the both of us.
The street was worse. Every little sound was a cacophony of almost
unbearable proportions. People ceased looking like people. They were blurs
and shadows of muddy colors and shapes, eyes and mouths sinking into black
voids. My heart pounded fiercely, my brow beaded with sweat, and I struggled
for breath. Soon everything would fade. I didn't want to black out on the
You can make it, George. Come on, one foot in front of the other. Breathe
deeply. I'm here with you.
I smiled. Despite everything, I smiled. Doing as instructed, I put one foot
in front of the other and managed to hail a taxi. There was very little I
recalled about the journey home, but in a matter of minutes I was back at my
bachelor-apartments hotel, in my bedroom, curled up on my small bed.
Somewhere along the way, I had removed my hat, coat, suit jacket, and shoes.
I lay on my right side with my hands under my head, staring at the blank,
beige-colored wall across me. I was so exhausted, yet couldn't sleep. It had
been so long.
Close your eyes. I'm here. Close your eyes and sleep. You're so tired,
George. You haven't been sleeping again, have you?
"No," I whispered. "You weren't here."
I'm sorry. Please, try not to worry. Close your eyes. That's it. Would you
like me to tell you a story?
I nodded, and before I even knew what story was being told, I was fast
asleep. For the first time in days, I slept soundly. It always happened that
way. It had become my addiction. One whose grip was so profound, I had
trouble functioning without it. For a long time, my dreams -- or nightmares,
rather -- had been saturated with terrible images. Memories of a time when I
truly believed I had been plunged into the very depths of hell. I had no
right being there. I had been so young, as so many of the others had. One
day, their faces began to fade away, each day more and more, replaced by
something warm and safe. Safe I had forgotten what that word meant. To
think, all it took was one man to remind me.
The gwr. Shape-shifters. They are Beasts of legend. Inflamed by the moon and
contained by silver. Known and shunned by good society for their
blood-thirsty longings and uncontrollable emotions. Loving one is easy.
Living with one is a different matter.
Poindexter Fitzhughes, renowned hero and scientist, learns just how much
trouble a full-blooded gwr can be when he attempts to cure his lover, Lord
Seth Maitland, of the disease. But when their backs are against the wall,
the two learn to trust in each other, and more importantly, in their true
natures, to prevail.
Pick up your copy today:
>From Shadow of Kenfig, Shifting Steam, edited by Lorna Hinson
This time, Seth was able to deflect some of the sharks, to converse over
drinks with a few appealing men, and to consider his options. Caster Powell
was the most intriguing, the one who piqued Seths interest.
Caster was not much for chat. He was powerful and strong, his chest covered
with a dusting of black hair, growing gray in some places. He had brilliant
emerald eyes that seemed to notice everything and gazed upon the world with
dark knowledge, slightly cynical, faintly sad, and always hovered on the
edge of amusement. He was heavily scarred, as if hed tangled with a bear
in his youth. Caster was uncouth and rude, huntsmaster of one of the local
lords. He cared for the dogs and led them along behind the riders. Truly,
not one of the gentry at all. But his mouth was soft, almost gentle and his
hands knowledgeable. Seth craved that knowledge, craved release. Holding
the older man in his arms, Seth almost wept with gratitude, knowing that he
As Cas brought him swiftly to climax, Seth groaned, then clamped down on a
startled scream. The older man bit him, hard, on the shoulder. Hard enough
to tear flesh. Blood ran down his arm, staining the sheets with a crimson
splash. Shuddering violently, Seth shoved Cas away, cursing and blustering.
There you are, my young virgin, Cas dressed, ignoring Seths hysterics,
his green eyes full of shadow-secrets. Come back to me, when you learn
more about what you are now.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
My newest release is a short story that's a little... different. It's set in the 1930s, but has a little extra something, namely a little bit of Science Fiction. It's sweet, a little sad, sexy, and offers a lovely happily ever after.
Here's the blurb, a sneaky peak excerpt, and if you leave a comment anytime today, you can enter to win a free copy of Lost In My Waking Dream. (Closes at Midnight EST time)
** Please note: Make sure to leave your email address where you would like to be notified and have your story sent should you win. The winner will be chosen at random and posted tomorrow on my blog to give everyone a fair chance, and also because other authors will be posting here after the deadline and I don't want to step on their toes. :D
"Where is he?" Teddy asked softly, his voice shattering the last remnants of my illusion. His was a kind voice, but it wasn't my Noah's.
"Somewhere I can't reach," I replied, getting a hold of myself before I started to feel any more miserable. I had enough troubles without adding melancholia to my list of ailments.
Teddy nodded his understanding, though I'm certain his conclusion was nowhere near the truth, nor as unfathomable. "You know," he said as he helped me into my overcoat and smoothed out my vest, "out of all of them, you are by far my favorite. You're a good man. I can see it in your eyes."
I swallowed hard and smiled. I'm certain he said such things to his other men, but I appreciated the sentiment. Compliments didn't tend to come my way often, so I took them where I could. "Thank you, Teddy." I took my hat from him and paid him his usual fee. With a tender kiss to my lips, Teddy backed away. "Don't give up. You'll get to your Noah someday." Then he was gone. I stood there in the middle of the shadowy enclosure, enjoying the silence and brief moment of peace, wishing with all my heart that what Teddy had said could somehow be possible.
Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win. The winner will be posted tomorrow on my blog, but I will also notify the winner via email, so don't forget to include yours in your comment if you want to enter. Thanks!
Available here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_93&products_id=3579
Charlie's website: www.charliecochet.com
The gwr. Shape-shifters. They are Beasts of legend. Inflamed by the moon and contained by silver. Known and shunned by good society for their blood-thirsty longings and uncontrollable emotions. Loving one is easy. Living with one is a different matter.
Poindexter Fitzhughes, renowned hero and scientist, learns just how much trouble a full-blooded gwr can be when he attempts to cure his lover, Lord Seth Maitland, of the disease. But when their backs are against the wall, the two learn to trust in each other, and more importantly, in their true natures, to prevail.
Pick up your copy today!
Paprika and Chives: Hotter than Hell by Berengaria Brown
Enre has fiery red hair and an attitude to match. The world is full of injustice, and he wants everything to be fair and equitable right now. Kalman is older, calm and logical, but the two men, co-workers at the botanical gardens, are drawn to each other. They work together at the far end of the gardens all one day, getting to know each other, and passion ignites between them.
The garden bed is made, and sprayed with their seed as well as that of the plants.
Hot, sweaty half naked bodies, and outdoor sex, is so good they do it all again later that afternoon, before planning to spend the evening together -- in a real bed.
Get your copy today!
Lost in my Waking Dream by Charlie Cochet
George Fitzpatrick is a troubled man and former soldier from the Great War. Ever since his return fifteen years ago, George has been hearing another man’s voice in his head, causing him to question himself and his reality. His engagement to his fiancée has steadily been going from bad to worse, and with every passing day George is finding it more and more difficult to deny his long-buried urges and the feelings brought about by a man he's never laid eyes on. Is it all in George's head, or is there something more behind Noah Baxter, the man whose soothing voice invades George's dreams and his heart?
Find out today!
Picking up the Pieces by Mychael Black
A couple years have passed and Robbie and Seth (Hearth and Home, Going Home) have everything going for them. Until their beloved tattoo parlor--the one they've worked so hard on--is robbed. Everything's destroyed, and Robbie's temper gets the best of him. Now it's up to Seth to help his lover pick up the pieces and mend a few wounds. If it takes a bit of pain, then so be it.
Pick up your copy today!
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Look What's OUT TODAY!!!
Gently now Enre explored Kalman, sliding his tongue over the roof of Kalman's mouth, along the insides of his cheeks, behind his teeth, noting the different textures that were all part of this man. A man he was intensely attracted to. A man he wanted to take right now, but who he was prepared to wait for -- even if it killed him!
BUY LINK: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=78_91&products_id=3581
If you'd like to know more about me or Storms and Stars, you've got some options:
It's been fun! Have a great rest of the day.
It's lonely at the top for Commander Villam Elding, who has always ranked loyalty to the empire and career ambition over romance. He finds it easier to love ideas than people; without military life, he's lost. Even so, it's his close relationship with Kardiell, a popular officer, that tears him from his life. Those with competing ambitions try to take Villam hostage to leverage Kardiell's soft spot for him. In the struggle, Villam crashes the small spacecraft he's riding. All hands perish except he and Luke, his kidnapper.
Luke Sicinik travels the galaxy performing dirty missions for money to send home. Born on a desert colony abandoned by the empire, he has no love for imperial soldiers. He spent his childhood in a monastery which taught the evils of anything impractical or sentimental. Yet when he crawls from the destroyed spacecraft, his first instinct is compassionate: he drags Villam's unconscious body free of the wreckage. Stranded together on a wild planet, Villam and Luke know that survival means cooperation. A truce becomes trust, and trust turns to passion, as they struggle to find a new life together -- just the two of them against an entire world.
Here's where you can buy it:
In my case, it also affects what I read. I find it inspiring to read about writing, or just about the creative process in general. Yet there are some widely held truths in writing instruction that catch me up.
One in particular is about writing style. Don't get hung up on style, these books warn. As long as your writing style doesn't get in the way of the reader, it's fine. Most readers are more interested in plot.
These things are probably all very true. My problem is that writing style is what turns me on or off a book very quickly. If I don't like the writing style, I really don't care how good the plot is because I can't move forward on the page. And there have been some very popular authors whose styles made their books impossible for me to read.
How about you guys? Is there an element of a book that is a dealbreaker? Is writing style a crucial part of your reading pleasure?
While I treat myself with a little caffeine, I thought I'd share a webcomic I drew in a moment of whimsy. Drawing is like singing or dancing for me: I have no talent or skill at it, but I enjoy it ^^;.
This came about as I considered what might happen to Villam and Luke after the ending of my debut novel Storms and Stars:
Okay, so maybe that's a joke that only makes sense if you've read the book. But I'll be back to chat with everybody shortly ^_^.
Monday, May 21, 2012
The Blister Effect by Lynn Townsend (Novella, M/M)
Lost in My Waking Dream by Charlie Cochet (Short Story, M/M)
Paprika and Chives: Hotter Than Hell by Berengaria Brown (Spice it Up, M/M)
Picking up the Pieces by Mychael Black (Short Story, M/M)
Lord, it's been a crazy spring and summer isn't gearing up to be particularly lazy.
The puppies have discovered the San Gabriel river, the birds have discovered the 9 bird feeders and 3 bird baths in the yard. The bunnies and squirrels found the corn feeder and all the cactus (yes, I know it's cacti, but that's so blasted pretentious-sounding...) are growing wildly.
We having a low, low key Memorial Day this year -- we're definitely grilling out. We'll do steaks on Friday and chicken breasts on Saturday, but I need to ponder maybe doing a brisket for Memorial Day proper. Doesn't that sound good? Brisket, potato salad, layer salad and cherry pie?
Dude, I think I made a plan.
Julia Talbot and I got together and we're starting a big long summer contest for the choice between a Nook or a Kindle Fire. All you have to do to be entered is to enter one of our other contests -- here, on our blogs, on Facebook or Twitter or our monthly newsletter.
For today, though, I'm giving away a signed copy of one of my print books -- just comment here, let me know which one you'd like, and I'll choose someone randomly tomorrow.
I hope y'all have a good one, that you get to see something this week that makes you smile, and that y'all hear a song that you have to sing along with.
Because sometimes fistfights are foreplay. ;-)
Wednesday, May 16, 2012