Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Useful Things #18


It's time again for Wednesday Briefs, a blog hop in which writers post a 500-1000 word flash story—or episode, in my case—based on weekly prompts. At the end of my post, you'll find links to all the other Wednesday Briefers.

I’ve opted to continue my science fiction M/M story “Useful Things” using one of the visual prompts that spoke to me.

If you’d like to start from the beginning, here's the link. [Chapter 1]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Useful Things #18 


Rasvim curled his arms over his head, distraught at what he’d done. Hed spoken back to an Aeth…had raised his voice.

Don’t call me that!

He was going to die. He’d seen other humans die for less. For refusing an order…for allowing a moment of anger to flash in their eyes, Osvith had ordered them torn to shreds. How had he let his control slip now?

“Listen to me, my special one, and remember my promise.” The low rumble of Majak’s voice didn’t sound like that of a predator intent on harm. “You have nothing to fear. I will not hurt you, whatever you say to me, however you say it. Not in private. Not when we are together like this.”

“Private?” Rasvim gasped the word, amazed his mind could shape a word at all. But he absorbed its meaning. They were alone.

“In front of others, I would be compelled to punish you to protect my own status—but I would not hurt you even then. I will never inflict harm. No death. No feeding. No cruelty. Do you understand?”

It had been easier before. Easier to let Aeth words fall to every side of him while he listened for the ones he must obey, upon which his life depended. He had learned those first. Later, to combat boredom, out of a desperate knowledge he might someday need them to survive, he had learned the language. He had said more to Majak in two weeks than he had said to Osvith in five years. Osvith had used him to mindlessly regurgitate information he had been fed or overheard while left in the company of unwitting visitors. And for sex.

Majak wanted something else. And Majak’s words would not slide past his mind the way Osvith’s had. The words stuck in his brain and clamored to be understood, if he would just let them link into his thoughts. Majak wanted him to understand.

But what? Why?

Simply to escape scrutiny, Rasvim nodded that he would listen.

Majak sighed. “My race evolved in violent ways, even the best of us can be vicious. But your poor race was discovered by the worst of our kind, by criminals. When the first of the Var Sareem came to this planet and found evidence of what had been done, we were appalled. That is why I came to your world. What I learned moved me to assume control of the mission to discover the truth about humans.”

Tears rose to Rasvim’s eyes, but he blinked them back. “I don’t know anything. My mother called it spilled milk.” Majak’s sudden look of puzzlement made him realize he’d used human words. He was falling apart…his childhood leaking through the cracks. “You need someone older. It happened before I was born.”

“I’m not here to learn the truth about dead things. I want to learn the truth about you—and others like you.”

No, he wanted to say, though his tongue wouldn’t fashion the word. Majak was pushing for something he was not ready to hear. 

“Rasvim, I am going to ask you to understand something painful. The humans who were removed from your planet and survived, the ones bred for meat, were altered and made more useful for that purpose. So were the ones we now use sexually. Criminal scientists altered the brains of the offspring even more than their parents, made them obedient, only marginally intelligent, and incapable of speech.”

“But Enir—”

“I gave him language. I had a neural speech component created by my scientists and placed into his brain.”

Bright, life-loving Enir had been speechless? Rasvim drew a deep breath. Outside, the solar wall had shifted, keeping dawn from flooding the hut with light.

“Humans in Aeth space are herd animals, suggestible, incapable of critical thinking. Even Enir.” Majak paused, then said, “When a salvage crew found the corpses of several thousand original humans aboard a derelict processing ship, our scientists uncovered evidence about how humans had been altered. They believe humans—those here, like you—might be as intelligent as the Aeth.”

“You—you believe that?” This time he met Majak’s eyes, and received a smile in return.

“I do. I told you that, and I also told you I will not lie to you. Not ever.”

Rasvim nodded. He remembered Majak’s words, and how they had made him feel. He had been happy Majak knew him to be intelligent. “But why does that matter? If we’re smart, if we’re not…what difference does it make?”

“Because life is commonplace, but truly intelligent—sapient—beings are rare. There are only four species that we know of. The Aeth are one.”

He realized he knew the name of another. Osvith had spat invectives against a hated enemy. “The Slig,” he said, and was pleased when Majak nodded.

“Yes. The Slig are terrifying. We don’t understand them and our few encounters have been deadly. The other species of intelligent beings of which we are aware is bound to an extreme environment and our interactions are complicated.”

“I still don’t understand—”

“I do not know what humans truly are.” Majak lifted a hand to his hair and gently stroked the ridge Alaksu had created. “I am hoping to find out by learning what you are.” Rasvim could not look away from the alien’s eyes or the passion burning there, seeing it for what it was, naked and intense and focused only on him. “I want you at my side to show me your mind, speak your thoughts…your ideas. I want your opinions to inform mine, open portals through which I may see. What you say, what you show me, will not be new to you, and you may not understand its importance. But it will be new to me, new to the Aeth.”

Rasvim swallowed. What Majak was saying sounded impossible. What Majak was asking him to do…reveal…could he even do it anymore?

Majak wanted him to be human.


~~~~~~~~

Thanks for reading. I guess Rasvim now knows at least some of what Majak wants. :) The rest of the Wednesday Briefers have great stories to offer if you click on the links below.
Cia Nordwell     

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Long and Short of It

http://dipliner.deviantart.com/
According to my friends and my wonderful husband, my books are getting some reviews. What's most interesting is that a consistent theme is emerging: a lot of the reviewers are saying they wish the stories were longer.

So here I sit laughing my butt off because I deliberately wrote those stories short.

You see, until a few years ago I wrote long stories. Really long stories. I'm talking epic, as in G.R.R. Martin style fantasies set in vast, complex worlds. The drafts and hard copies take up a lot of room in my file cabinet--okay, let's be honest, they take up entire cabinets. If the apocalypse comes, I can stay warm for two, maybe three winters just by burning the pages. I even had agents love these stories but say they wouldn't be able to sell them because... yep, too long. "Cut it in half," I was told, and maybe they would take another look. I may sell the things yet.

But I grew sick of hacking my work to bits. You can only cut a story so far before it ends up a mutilated mess. So I decided I would do something new. I would start completely from scratch and write shorter books! Books with less complicated plots and fewer characters. Less introspection. Fewer subplots. Less wallowing in feelings and declarations of love or disappointment.

What happened, though, is I still pack a lot of world-building into these shorter books. My few characters continue to be complex, with messy lives. It's just how my stories are built.

Making my stories shorter was a sound decision. After all, I am getting published now. But it looks like I may need to fine tune my technique. Reviewers are pretty unified in calling for my stories to be longer and my characters to do more on page romantic bonding (they seem okay with the sex, though, which is good). So I'm going to see about creating characters that are a little warmer and fuzzier, at least with each other. And I'm going to write more novels, and series, and fewer stand-alone novellas.

Because writing long...that's something I can do in my sleep.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Useful Things #17


Welcome back to Wednesday Briefs, in which writers post a 1000 word flash story—or episode, in my case—based on the weekly prompts.

I’ve opted to stay with my science fiction M/M story, “Useful Things.” The prompt I chose this week is "But you said..."

Want to start at the beginning of Useful Things[Chapter One]

You’ll find links to the other Wednesday Briefs bloggers at the end of this post.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Useful Things #17


Rasvim blinked up at the grid of the hut framework against a silver-blue dawn sky. A deep breath helped banish the strange dream, tatters of images the only remnants to remain in memory. He remembered so much, so many things, but seldom his dreams, which remained ghostly footprints through the otherwise neatly partitioned corridors and soundly locked doors. He had awakened in Aeth custody, same as always. His nakedness reminded him of what he was.

Seeing Majak seated on the other bed, hands sometimes moving in the n-space of Aeth communications, Rasvim was reminded of other things. Taking care not to disturb his pre-occupied master, he slipped off the bed and went to the hygiene closet to tend to his needs and appearance. He did not take long. Alaksu had treated his hair so at least it stood up as elegantly as ever. When he returned to the bed, he sat upon it and looked to Majak, wondering what he would want of him.

Not sex. Even in full arousal and dominance display, the alien had not used him for that. The refusal still jarred Rasvim, but not as much as that Majak had called him by his human name.

Jesse. Only Enir had ever asked for it, so only Enir could have told Majak. The other Aeth—his captors and the slave dealer, even Osvith—had not cared to learn it. They had named him Rasvim and he had clung to the sound of it. Enir had said correctly that the Aeth did not name their food.

Majak ceased his silent communication and tucked the disc into his shield suit. He looked rested and had probably slept. Not all Aeth slept, but there were some who did. The higher the rank, the more sleep an Aeth needed. Rasvim did not yet understand the reason, but knew it had something to do with whether an Aeth was genetically engineered. 

“Tell me what you are thinking,” Majak said. He sat across from Rasvim now, leaning forward, eyes assessing him. His attention no longer unnerved Rasvim the way it once had. There was no threat in it.

“That you sleep more than the soldiers—and Osvith said only those who are truebred sleep or dream.” For once, the truthful answer came easily. He waited to see how Majak would react.

Majak held his gaze. “That is what we Var’Sareem are. Born, not cloned. Unaltered, at least for the last thousand years. Weaker than soldiers, smarter, longer lived. And we sleep as the native race did that left our home world so long ago. Our dreams are shared. Do humans dream?”

He nodded, but said, to clarify, “We don’t share them.”

“But you do share information in complex ways.” Majak lifted something from the bed. Rasvim was surprised to see the Oz book. “This book holds many concepts and the information in it appears false. That doesn’t make sense that your people would go to such effort to create a document filled with falsehoods.”

Should he explain it? Could he? There were no flying monkeys, never had been. There were no wizards or witches. Just farmers and Kansas, and even those were vanished now. His father had explained about stories. “Just because something doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean it’s not true. The book has ideas, and the ideas are true.”

“Ideas?” Majak looked at the cover, so faded now. “The place in this book is an idea?”

“I think so. My father—” he caught Majak’s look of encouragement and continued, “—he said stories reveal things that are true. Like how the lion thinks he’s a coward but he’s really brave.”

“So it is a lie.”

“No.”

“But you said—”

“It’s a false belief. A lie is something else.”

Majak appeared thoughtful, then asked, “What do you consider a lie?”

Rasvim held his gaze and said, “I think you’re ugly.”

For a moment, they simply stared at each other. Then Majak smiled. “A lie?”

Rasvim’s heart eased out of his throat. “A lie. Because that’s not what I think.”

“And so what the lion thinks is not a lie because he believes the falsehood?” Majak’s smile remained, along with a light in his eyes that said he understood.

“Yes. And the book doesn’t think he is, either, because it knows he’s brave. That’s the idea. Like how everyone thinks the wizard is so powerful, but—”

“But he is really powerless except for what their belief makes possible.”

Rasvim grinned.

“This is a fascinating book,” Majak said. His smile became something new and vastly intelligent. “Are other human books like this one?”

“I don’t know. Story books are.” History books probably weren’t. Or books of science.

“And these truths…these ideas…are important to humans?”

Why did he want to know? Majak’s curiosity about humans was familiar now, but… new warnings ripped at the seams of Rasvim's trust. Maybe he was being used in a different way. What if the Aeth had gotten as far as they could fighting the remaining humans with weapons, and now they needed something more? A way to trick them? His cold lips ceased speaking and he averted his eyes, fearing what they might reveal.

“Rasvim?” The sound of his own breathing didn’t quite block Majak’s voice, or the order that followed. “Look at me.”

He did so and saw Majak kneeling on the floor again, just as he had the night before, except this time he was grasping his hands, holding them, and looking deep into his eyes, delivering the same promise as before.

“I will not hurt you, Jesse—”

“Don’t call me that!”

Majak pulled back, but did not release his hands. “I won’t. Only what you wish. It is a beautiful name, and I will not speak it if my doing so hurts you. I am not like the ones who had you before. Just listen to me now…”


~~~~~~~~~~~

Of course, they’re not finished talking by a long shot. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll also visit the other Wednesday Briefs bloggers below to find out what wonderful stories they have to offer.
Lily Sawyer     
MA Church     
MC Houle     
Cia Nordwell      

Monday, February 18, 2013

And the Winner Is...

It's President's Day, which is perfect for announcing the winners for the Swept Away Valentine's Blog Hop. After a cup of coffee to clear my head, my poodle and I entered the comments to my Valentine giveaway post and drew numbers at random. With no further ado, the poodle thumps her tail and the winners are:

$10 Amazon gift card... Carol L.

Copy of one of my ebooks... Sue Adams

Congratulations, winners! I'll be sending you emails to confirm your addresses and send your prizes.

Calvin Coolidge
And now, in honor of President's Day, here's a nod to Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929).

"Silent Cal" may not have been our most memorable leader but he will always be remembered for his anecdotal exchange with the marvelous writer, Dorothy Parker. Parker, who was seated next to him at a dinner, said, "Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you." His famous reply: "You lose."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thick as Thieves Fun in the Tub

CLICK HERE to comment for a chance to win prizes in the Swept Away Valentine’s Day Blog Hop.

Just for fun and because love is in the air, I’m posting an excerpt from my next release, Thick as Thieves. My little sword and sorcery book won't be hitting the shelves until summer but there’s no reason we can’t look in on the boys from this early chapter as they clean up a bit and get to know each other.

Vorgell removed his clothes and leaned against the dry, warm wall, arms crossed companionably on his chest. He watched with growing interest as Madd flung off his cloak and began to strip, folding each item of clothing removed before placing it on the room’s lone stone bench. An itch made Vorgell scratch his chin and he frowned. The itching spell had been countered, so perhaps his beard did harbor vermin. It might not be so bad if he bathed, then allowed Madd to trim his hair and beard. Doing so would help his chances. Madd’s bared body, lithe and covered in smooth ivory skin, looked so healthy and tempting he wanted to scoop him up and investigate the rest. His cock plumped with anticipation when he saw Madd’s thumbs hook under the waist of his loin wrap.
“Stop that!” Madd snapped. After four big pails of hot water, the tub was still far from full.
“I can’t help it. You’re pretty.”
“Well, I didn’t ask to be. I didn’t ask for any this.” The golden collar encircling Madd’s neck glinted in the low light, its serpent-eye jewel seeming to watch Vorgell balefully.
Vorgell shrugged. “Neither did I.” He indicated his towering body. “I didn’t ask for this, however much my life is tethered to it. But people see me and make assumptions.”
“Assumptions?” A brittle smile tested the edge of Madd’s mouth.
“About what I am, what I’m good for. What I must want or not want.”
“Then we have that in common, don’t we?”
The scrawny lad returned, helped by a sturdy older woman, each hauling two pails. They poured gouts of steaming water into the tub. It was now half-full, releasing billows of promising warmth. Holding Vorgell’s fierce gaze, Madd flicked his thumbs, sending the loin wrap to the floor. Vorgell perked. His little friend was not so little in the cock. Of course, seeing Madd naked was all his own cock needed to stiffen to full mast.
Madd, accustomed to the display, just rolled his eyes. The woman and lad, however, stopped to stare. Flushed and wide-eyed, they gaped either from interest or sheer amazement. It was difficult to tell. The woman tittered.
“Ay! Best tell the mistress! We’ll all want some of this rosy pair!” Giggles trickled after their footsteps as they retreated.
Vorgell stared after the departed servants. “What manner of place is this? A brothel?” 
Though it smelled of women, the establishment did not have an air of commerce.
“No,” said Madd. Cock bobbing prettily, he stepped over the rim and eased himself into the tub. “It’s a sanctuary. For witches.”

Which explained the women. Vorgell knew only the barest bones about Gurgh’s population of magic-wielders. The city was ruled by a tenuous alliance of powerful princes, mystic priests, and sorcerers who called themselves wizards. He wasn’t quite sure how witches fit in except that the Baron and his soldiers had roundly cursed the lot and he'd heard there was 
coin to be earned collecting bounties. 

Expelling a mighty sigh, Madd sank into the water, arms flung over the tub’s sides and head angled back in pleasure. Vorgell’s mouth watered. His companion was the most alluring creature he had ever seen: glossy black hair flung from his pretty face and rosy lips softly parted, his bodily perfection reclining languidly with soapy water lapping at sweet dusky nipples. No mere mortal seeing Madd this way could resist wanting to fuck him.
Answering his rigid cock, Vorgell took a step forward.  Madd narrowed his eyes in warning. A change of tactics was in order.
“Scrub your back?” he offered.

Thanks for stopping by and joining the boys. They'll be making sneak appearances here and there whenever I feel like having fun. Also, I am taking part in a Valentine's Blog Hop that's offering prizes. The post is just below this one should you be interested in entering the drawing, and there's also a link at the top of the post.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Blog Hop: Is It Love?

Welcome to the Swept Away Valentine's Day Blog Hop. As a lifelong romantic, I decided to celebrate the holiday and the hop with a couple of fun prizes:

  • First Prize is a $10 Amazon gift card
  • Second Prize is your choice of any one of my books [TALI'S BOOKS]

To enter, leave a comment on this post and (optional) an answer to this question: What are your plans for Valentine's day? You must include your email address so I can contact you if you win. If I cannot get in touch with a winner, I will pick another winner for that prize.

So here are my thoughts on Valentine's Day.

Love is such a crazy thing. The part about skyrockets and hot fevered dreams isn't even love at all, it's infatuation. It's sex. It's true...we're hardwired for sex. The continuation of the species is written into our genes and we fall easily, madly, and continually in...lust.

It goes like this. We see another member of the species and our brains send a signal down the reproductive superhighway to our genitals. Straight or gay is all in the wiring, but the signal is old as the ages:

"Jump on that!"

Yep. Mother Nature has no patience. Our brains, which have evolved so as to be not completely under the control of our gonads, often try to put on the brakes. Why? Because it's the brain's job to do complex calculations like risk-reward or cost-benefit analysis. The gonads don't care about benefits and costs. They're completely on board with "Jump that!"

The signal to the gonads takes microseconds. Often the brain has no chance in hell of completing its analysis of the prospective partner, our complex needs and assets situation, and predictions for success or failure. It simply cannot meet the demand for information fast enough, with the result that we find ourselves hopelessly confused and being controlled by our gonads and a pair of endocrine glands with which the gonads are in cahoots.

We fall hard.

pic by Carolyn Sewell
Take an example from my own admittedly sheltered and boring life. One day I'm minding my business in high school, contemplating geometry...when Alan Brown talks to me. He's tall, cute, genuinely nice and a senior! He plays football! He never even knew I existed and now, for the first time in my hormone-flushed life, I exist. My gonads get the signal to jump that. My breathing gets faster in tandem with my heartbeat and I'm feeling all flushed and excited, and, well...it has to be love!

No. That's confusion. But the flush in my genitals and on my cheeks is very real and I'm a goner if Alan isn't a nice guy in better control of his gonads than I am. As it turned out, we were both kind of new at the whole thing and never did much other than kiss and touch. My father got a new job and we moved away the next month, darn it.

I was devastated.

My brain, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as disappointed, because its cost-benefit analysis predicted disaster. Let's look at the many things against us:

  • I was sixteen. 
  • Alan was eighteen. 
  • Neither of us had a way to support ourselves or the possible child Mother Nature was determined to cause. 
  • There was an excellent possibility of one or both of us relocating in the near future (as indeed it turned out). 
  • There was a really excellent chance of him going off to war. (As it also turned out).
Gonads have tunnel vision and care about none of those things.

Which brings me to love. Alan and I didn't have a chance to find out if love was in the cards. Which is too bad because, you see, love changes the whole cost-benefit thing. We start to consider the other person's well-being, for example, as well as what we want. We make plans to address the risks and bring about higher reward outcomes. We truly care for the other person, as a person and not an object. But we still want to roll around in the nude and do undignified things with each other.

It took some mistakes, and a lot of pooh-poohing my brain's clamorous warnings (having a creative brain has its drawbacks), but I finally did find my true love. Having found him, I would never want to live without, not ever. Especially the lust part. Even my brain is on board with that now.

Tonight, for Valentine's Day, my husband and I are going out to eat. Every year he surprises me with where...and I surprise him with what I wear. Today's a great day to celebrate lust and love.

So...What are your plans for Valentine's Day? For a chance to win one of the prizes above, all you need to do is comment with your email address. My pretty poodle Cate and I will pick a winner on the morning of Monday, February 18th.

Thanks for stopping by! And you can go to the Blog Hop link [HERE] for more blogs and prizes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Giveaway Winner: The Last Grand Master

Andrew Gordon took all the comments to his giveaway post, used an arcane formula (or maybe it was a randomizer...) and has drawn the winner for a copy of his exciting high fantasy novel, The Last Grand Master.

And the winner is: Julie Lynn Hayes!

Congratulations, Julie! And thanks to everyone who took part in this giveaway. Your comments about favorite fantasy books and characters were really interesting.

Wednesday Briefs: Useful Things #16

Welcome back to Wednesday Briefs, in which writers post a 1000 word flash story—or episode, in my case—based on the weekly prompts. Even though tomorrow is Valentine’s day and I thought about doing a standalone Valentine’s flash, I’ve opted to continue my science fiction M/M story, “Useful Things.” Majak and Rasvim are on a roll!

The prompt I chose this week is a pic of two people kissing. Both are obviously human. In my story one of the characters is an alien, but who would have a picture of that? This is inspiration, though and…kissing. Yeah. That happens, so we’re good to go.

Want to start at the beginning of Useful Things? [Chapter One]

You’ll find links to the other Wednesday Briefs bloggers at the end of this post. Happy Valentine’s Day!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Useful Things #16


Rasvim shuddered as Majak’s warm breath stirred the fine hairs on the side of his neck, and he silenced a whimper. His erection ached as he thought of Majak using him, but already his body tensed for the assault. He always hated the moment when an Aeth cock invaded his body…hated it as hotly as he craved it. Except this wasn’t the way it was usually done. He was seated on a bed, his legs bent over the edge, and Majak was seated at his side, not looming over him or pushing him down onto his back.

When Majak’s mouth brushed his cheek, the gesture was so delicate, so resonant of restraint Rasvim nearly strangled with need. What would it take to get this alien to fuck him? Frustrated, he turned his head so his lips found Majak’s, mouthing the sensitive skin folds to get at the smooth, moist undersides. He encountered resistance, hesitation, but he renewed his entreaty even more fiercely until Majak emitted his own frustrated growl, grabbing him by the back of his skull and crushing Rasvim’s mouth to his.

Rasvim gave a muffled cry of welcome as Majak’s strong lips pried his open to exchange moisture, heat and breath. Each movement brought discovery. Hot, demanding, pulling desire from his core. He found himself braced by powerful arms, held, mastered…the way it should be. Until Majak ceased his plunder, mouth moving from Rasvim’s parted lips to press hot kisses down the exposed column of his throat.

“I will not use you.” Majak’s voice sounded strained as he murmured against human skin. “I will not do that.”

“Majak, please, I—”

He quieted as Majak returned, lips gliding atop his, gentler this time, exerting control. More aware of his surroundings now, Rasvim caught sight of the Aeth and groaned. Majak was in full sexual arousal and display, his mating crest lifted and magnificent, dominance striations standing out in striking contrast on the skin of his neck and head. Rasvim knew but for the form-fitting shield skin Majak still wore, he would see those markings trail in sinuous patterns down the Aeth’s shoulders, arms and back.

Rasvim spoke Majak’s name again, lips upon lips, and gasped at the light push of the alien’s tongue. He sucked upon the tip, his own tongue tracing the slippery underside while the raspy upper nudged his lip. He sobbed with pleasure when he felt thick alien fingers curl around his stiff cock.

He arched his back only to discover Majak cradled him tightly to his chest. The deep Aeth ribcage coupled with a strong upper limb to hold him captive and yet it didn’t feel like being imprisoned. It felt tenderer than that. Rasvim could still push his feet against the floor and he did so, lifting his pelvis and pushing his erection into Majak’s waiting hold. Two fingers and one of the Aeth male’s opposable thumbs gripped him while the spongy pad of the second opposable digit lightly caressed his exposed, aching glans and spread his dripping pre-come. With every thrust, the lubrication slicked Majak’s fingers, creating delicious friction from the alien’s firm hand.

He was going to come—he wanted to—and he leaked even more. What Majak was doing felt too good…too much, and he broke down in a whine.

Again Majak faltered, but only for a moment. His lips moved in again, laying claim to Rasvim’s mouth and skin with fierce, bright possession and his fingers tightened around the barrel of Rasvim’s cock, pistoning him. “Use my hand, Jesse. Take it. It’s yours.”

Hearing his name, Rasvim lost his bearings completely. His pelvis bounded toward release and he tumbled over the precipice into the free fall of orgasm. Semen spilled thick and hot into Majak’s waiting fingers, each jerk successively weaker.

“I’m sorry.” The apology barely formed on his lips before Majak kissed them away. More soft, shushing sounds followed.

Still holding him gently, Majak pulled him down onto the bed and Rasvim sagged against the alien’s body, surrendering himself over to the heavy lethargy of exhaustion. The Aeth’s body heat and calm lulled him as he futilely tried to make sense of it all. Nothing was making sense anymore…not even this, that he could lie here after, his mind able to drift while he remained anchored and safe…

* * * *

Majak waited until Rasvim was sleeping soundly before he eased his body from the bed. What he had just experienced was too shocking for sleep. Nothing in his pleasant interludes with Enir had prepared him for this. Not this heat. Not this raw, consuming desire. He had enjoyed this human too well, had felt pleasure in laying hold of him…the way Rasvim’s mouth had opened to his so hungrily, the delicious taste of hot flesh giving itself to him without resistance, little as he liked the reason. He could no longer deny that he wanted Rasvim with a craving that someday he must sate.

But carefully. He must be careful. 

Majak walked to the other bed and stripped from his shield suit, wiping his hand clean of semen but not the memory of how it had felt to hold Rasvim’s ejaculating cock in his hand. He wanted to do it again. He wanted to do more. What stirred in his blood far surpassed a simple demand to satisfy his loins. For that, a pet would do, or a subordinate of his own kind. This…was different.

Voicelessly, he tested Rasvim’s race name again. Jesse. Enir had told him of it. Speaking it had felt intimate, and Rasvim’s response to the name had been powerful. He had touched old roots. He had uncovered at last the deeply hidden creature he wanted to reach and see grow.

Jesse. A human name. A name for everything Majak was trying to do…if only he could hold back from claiming Rasvim the way he so wanted to claim him.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed their first kiss. Here are some links to the other Wednesday Briefers and their stories for some fun Valentine’s reading.

Nephylim 
    f/f
Lily Sawyer      m/m 
Cia Nordwell     m/m
Elyzabeth VaLey     m/f
Victoria Adams      m/f
MA Church     m/m
MC Houle     m/m

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thick As Thieves To Be Published

Some of you may remember Thick as Thieves, a fun story that started life as a Wednesday Brief before I pulled it at around 14,000 words. Well, I didn't just drop Vorgell and Madd. They went on to have a few more adventures and ended up the main characters in a novel.

Dreamspinner Press just picked up Thick as Thieves and the book will be published in ebook and in print in July/August this year. 

Am I dancing? Oh, yeah. It's hard to say who is dancing more, me or the poodle, who knows every time I dance she gets a treat.

I can't tell you how happy I am this book found a home. Vorgell and Madd are the funniest characters I've had the pleasure to follow around in ages. Writing their story was a blast and I hope readers enjoy them too.

The book has yet to go through editing and there's no official blurb just yet, but here's what I put in the query letter:

It’s lust on first sight when Vorgell the oversized barbarian gets thrown into a cell and sees Maddog, a young and pretty thief. But Vorgell really can’t help it—while starving in the woods he killed a unicorn, ate some magic berries, and fucked himself in the ass with the unicorn’s horn, a potent aphrodisiac. Now he’s perpetually erect and can’t stop thinking about sex. But he’s in luck…Madd is a male witch who knows exactly how to put Vorgell’s magical body to good use, and he tricks Vorgell into a kiss that gets them out of their dungeon.

Vorgell may desire sex in general and Madd in particular, but Madd has no intention of being screwed by a man twice his size. He’s dealing with problems of his own, most particularly an enchanted love collar that causes him to desire his most hated enemy. He wants the collar off…but that requires a basilisk egg currently being kept in the castle they just escaped. Drawn to each other by magic and lust, the two men agree to an alliance. Conniving circles of witches, wizards who breed fiends from their victims, sun virgins whose maidenheads incinerate any who penetrate them, and a baby basilisk all lend danger and fun to this tale of two men who just need to find some way to admit they really are perfect for each other.

Thanks to all the people who commented on the first chapters of Thick as Thieves! You guys letting me know you were enjoying the story played a part in bringing this book to life. I will have a special deal for you <wink> when the book is published.

Giveaways Galore!

Not only is Andrew Gordon still conducting a giveaway of his high fantasy novel, The Last Grand Master, on my blog until tomorrow [ENTER THAT DRAWING HERE], but I will be giving away THREE of my own books over the next several days. And an Amazon gift card, too. Here's the schedule:



Today, February 12th: Elyzabeth VaLey's blog. Giveaway for a copy of Dangerous Beauty. Comment on my guest blog post about Sensual Writing. Drawing on the 16th.

Thursday, February 14thValentine Blog Hop. For this hop I'm offering two prizes: First prize is a $10 Amazon gift card and Second Prize is a choice of any of my books. Comment after my blog post about Is It Love? Drawing on the 18th.

Tuesday, February 19th: Jennifer LaBelle's blog. A copy of Dangerous Beauty (or Captive Heart if you would prefer that book instead). Comment on my guest blog post about Writing a Cross Genre Series. Drawing on the 23rd.

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Interested in reading some of my other recent guest blog posts? They're part of the tour for my new release but hey, they're good reads! :)  Each post is unique to the host blog. 

Fan Art. Writers love fan art, and several writers share work their fans have created in this visually exciting post.

Family and Faith. Two important themes of Dangerous Beauty intersect in the character of Endre. Why does this matter? I talk about how I built this character.

Voice. Editors, agents, and even readers are constantly saying they want books by authors who have a great voice. They don't mean singing. But what do they mean? I wouldn't be me if I didn't have an opinion.

Reviews and Brussels Sprouts. What do books, reviews, and Brussels sprouts have in common? Find out here.

Psycho King. My hero's father is bat shit insane. What should tip him off? Read my Ten Signs Your Dad is a Psycho King list.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Last Grand Master: Interview and Giveaway

I’m always thrilled to find fellow writers of high fantasy. So naturally when I read a review of a high fantasy novel The Last Grand Master, about a young wizard who must join forces with a great warrior and the queen of the unicorns to defeat a terrible evil, I pounced on the book. If you're like me and love high adventure and sweet, funny gay romance, it's a wonderful read.

Also, Andy will be giving away a copy of the ebook to one of the people who comments on this post, so FREE BOOK! At the end of this post, just leave your email address (necessary to contact you if you win and get the book to you) and your answer to a simple question:

"Name a favorite character from a fantasy book you've read and what makes them memorable to you."

On with the interview!

1.  One thing I love about the Last Grand Master is that it’s chock full of unicorns, wizards, imperiled kingdoms and other staples of the high fantasy genre. What led you to write about chosen ones, magic, and adventure?

I think the first book I remember reading – not read, but I can remember anything about other than school books – was the Lord of the Rings.  For years after that, all I read was fantasy, the occasional Sci-fi and the odd sports related book. I think I've had my own story in my head ever since. 

The Last Grand Master sort of evolved from a scene that has since been discarded. But I think as any writer will tell you, the story took on a life of it's own. I know it's so clich├ęd that people say – it wrote itself – but most scenes were just 'there' in my head waiting to get out.  Others took some work. I bet most people will be able to figure out the ones that 'wrote themselves' and the ones I had to 'write.'

2.  I understand this is the first book in a series. How many books do you foresee and in what directions will the story go?

Hmm, I've mentioned this elsewhere, but the story is about 2 million words long and not quite done.  After the self-edit/rewrite, that 2 million will probably end up about 700k or so That means this could be as many as 6 or 7 books, but it could be a lot shorter, depends on what the publisher wants, the readers will buy and how much I really want to flesh this out. 

There are three main continents on Nendor, plus the very large Island Kingdom of Dumbarten, I envision the books taking us around the entire world as Farrell gathers allies and unites the followers of the Six for another all out war to decide who will Rule Nendor.  Book two will take us to Dumbarten and the Order of Kel.  Book three will take place mainly on the continent of Loudria. IF I take this as far as I want to – 7 books, I'll go to Erd in one of the books.  That part isn't totally necessary, and it would take most of an entire book to bring us to Erd and what I envision there, so it depends on so many factors. 

Book two will introduce other elements, the Temples will start to have more input, the gods a bit more active and we'll learn of new weapons Farrell will be able to use. I also intend to do a lot more with the Peregrines, especially Farrell's adoptive brothers as the story moves on.  There will be a lot more magic, new kingdoms, new players.  At some point I need to get Meglar more directly involved, but not just yet. 

As I said, I've written two million words so there is a LOT of history I can flesh out.  My idea was always to present the entire world, not just a small corner of it. I'm just not sure the readers will stay with me that long. 

3.  Okay, let’s say you’ve met a writer who is brand spanking new to writing fantasy. She wants to get a better sense of the genre and requests a reading list. Which writers and books would you tell her to read?

Wow, there are just so many I'd like to mention. My favorites are Tolkien – of course – Stephen Donaldson, David Eddings, Ursula Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey.  I'm a character person, meaning the characters have to grab me or I lose interest in the plot.  I think Lackey and Eddings did a great job of spending time making us care about the characters.  Ursula Le Guin had this vibrant unique world. Stephen Donaldson's magic was amazing and frustrating at the same time, unlike Eddings where magic was almost a science.  McCaffrey's Pern was unforgettable. To me, these are must reads for what a writer needs to do to keep the readers interested.

Another series that isn't very talked about that I still remember to this day – and that is the mark of great writing – is the Riddle Master of Hed, by Patricia McKillip.  I loved this when I first read it and I can still remember parts of the books and I haven't read them in decades – Iff of the unpronounceable name, the High One, the endless tower, the children with the stars on their foreheads, spending time as a tree to escape the bad guy. I mean that's brilliant writing if people remember it for decades after they put it down. 

4.  M/M is one of the fastest growing—neck and neck with BDSM—genre in publishing. How do you feel about having your books defined as M/M?

I don't know.  I like it in the sense that I think it's great that heroes can be gay or in a male/male relationship.  Lackey's books taught me that. But I don't think of The Champion of the Gods as M/M as much as Fantasy with M/M main characters.  Miceral and Farrell are together, and their romance is part of the book, but it's just one aspect of them and their involvement in the story. There are no coming out scenes, no homophobic problems, no fear of rejection if people learn your gay type problems.  So I don't know that I'd define it as M/M.  On the other hand, the main characters are both men and in love.  Theirs is the only relationship that gets any focus during most of the story.

That doesn't really answer the question.  I'm glad it's defined as M/M, but I'm a bit concerned it is a limiting factor when their relationship is – in my mind – only a small part of the story.

5.  Travel feeds the soul and I’m always on the hunt for interesting places to go. How about telling me one place you’ve been to that you think should be on my list—and one place in the world that you would really love to visit someday?

Where I'd want to go is easier to answer so I'll go there first. New Zealand. Hands down.  My co-author in (Un)Masked is from Wellington, NZ and (Un)Masked is set there.  I've never visited, but I feel like I've been after writing the book.  Add to that the images from LOTR and that is my dream place.  Sadly with a 16 month old, I'm not sure we're going to be going any time soon.  Not sure I'm up for 30 hours of travel with a child.  But never say never.

I'm not the world's most extensive travel.  I tend to like quiet, do nothing but relax, kinds of vacations. I'm not big on taking a vacation that I need a vacation to recover from. A jammed packed, sight seeing vacation is so not my thing. The two places I've been to that stick out are; Cadiz in Spain and Bath in England.  They're both small cities that have such history and I love the 'old' places. I like visiting places that were hundred's of years old before any city in the United States existed. I also like the local feel of these places. You can walk to more places, there are more local stores that Wal-marts, those are my kind of towns and I found both of these places to fit me.

6.  I’m visually-oriented, so I’m dying to ask about your book cover. Who is the artist?  I find the creation of cover art to be one of “fun” parts of being published. How was it for you?

Paul Richmond did the cover for The Last Grand Master and yeah I’m biased, but I think he is amazing.  I gave him this really vague idea of what I wanted and he came back with something pretty close to what you see.  The background changed a bit, but not the look of the characters.  As an aside, a good friend and co-worker bought the book when I was in her office. She took one looked at the cover and said Farrell looks like me. I don't see the resemblance, and it would an amazing coincidence if it were true since I've never met Paul.  But I laughed, so I figured I'd share that I guess I look a bit like Farrell.

Watching the cover go from concept in my head to a drawing, to a rough painting, to the end result was pretty amazing. I love art and I find those with artist talent to be amazing. I guess a small part of me is envious and watching it come to life made me feel a bit – a tiny bit – like I helped created it.

7.  Writing is a solitary, often frustrating, and woefully underpaid profession. That said, a lot of people want to do it, probably because being a writer is considered sexy, smart, and fun. Have you told anyone in your private life that you write? And how do they react?

Everyone knows.  At work my supervisor sent out an email telling folks I had a book published – I can't because it would be too close to using government property for personal gain. But where from me it would be like an attempt to sell a book, from her it was something interesting about her co-worker.  The reaction from co-workers and colleagues ranges from surprised but really happy, to shocked that I have anything close to a creative side.  But everyone thinks it's pretty cool. 

8.  Promotion and marketing increasingly takes up a good chunk of any writer’s time. Most would rather be writing the next novel. What are you learning about promotion and how do you feel about doing it?

Ah yes, the dreaded promotion and marketing question.  Who knew you had to market your book after you wrote it, right?  I mean, most of the books I read, I found at the bookstore. I'd browse the aisles, read the blurbs and think about buying it. Now there are so many books out there, that it's hard to get 'shelf' space. 

I hate doing it, for many reasons. One I feel like I'm bugging folks. Do my friends really need me to hit them up several times with the 'news' my new book is out?  The other part of that is the idea of building a social network.  It feels a bit like Amway. You remember those people who'd strike up a conversation with you, seem friendly, then want to discuss an 'exciting business opportunity.'  Well, building a social network just to sell a book feels weird.  Building a fan base is one thing, but befriending folks so you can try to hawk your book to them never sits right with me so I'm bad at it.

The other part of this equation is, after reading and researching for months, I'm still clueless as to what works and what doesn't. We all know the concept – get your book in front of more people and hope your book appeals to them. Then hope they tell others and the 'they'll tell two people and so on and so' multiplying effect takes over. I think that is equal parts luck as it is about time and effort so there is an element of futility and...

So yeah I hate the marketing aspect. It feels intrusive in a way and I'm always wondering if it is really having that much of an effect because I'm not doing it correctly.  That makes it a very frustrating aspect of the book writing process.


9.  What is a movie or TV show that you watched just recently and really enjoyed?

Does the Super Bowl count?  I mean – Ravens!!!  Sorry, but those of us from Maryland are rightly proud of not just the team, but the state of Maryland for voting for marriage equality and Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Ravens for his unflagging support of equality. 

So, back to your question.  I rarely watch TV that isn't a sports show and sadly, since 'lil q – our daughter was born – Mike and I haven't made it to a movie.  We watch them now and then on pay. He watches TV more than I do, but really – as you know from when your kids were young – who has that much spare time? 

I did watch the Walking Dead – it was interesting and I liked it, but I'm dying to see the new episodes. Everyone at work wants me to watch the New Normal because Mike and I used a surrogate and I used to tell folks stories about it that made them laugh. But I've not really had the time – sorry, very boring I know.

10.  Where can your readers stalk you?

Uff – is this where I mention I have dogs and a shotgun – oh wait, that's for when my daughter brings home her first date. 

My website is very much a work in progress, but www.andrewqgordon.com is where I post.  Twitter is really original - @andrewqgordon and wow – image this, my email – andrewqgordon@gmail.com.  Go figure, no one else wanted the name. 

Blurb:

In a war that shook the earth, the Six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For the three thousand years since, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity.
But then a new wizard unleashes the power of Neldin. Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, uses dark magic to create an army of creatures to carry out his master's will.
One by one, the sovereign realms fall. Soon the only wizard who can stop Meglar is Grand Master Farrell, the Prince of Haven, the hidden home of refugees. An untried wizard, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.
While helping Nerti, queen of the unicorns, Farrell saves Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen to be Farrell's mate. But Farrell approaches love with caution, and before he can decide how to proceed, Meglar invades a neighboring kingdom. Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Farrell pushes himself to the limit as he and Miceral fight not only to stop Meglar but for their very survival.
Buy at:
Dreamspinner Press: The Last Grand Master.
Barnes & Noble: The Last Grand Master

Excerpt:

It took the pair several minutes to wade through the throng of well-wishers. When they reached the central staging area, Farrell scowled as he scanned the stage.

“Didn’t Horgon tell the organizers we wanted all newly-joineds to meet us here?”

Miceral’s smile faded when he looked around. “I heard him dictate the request.”
Searching for the festival organizer, Farrell readied a searching spell when he noticed the official at the head of a large group of confused couples.

“Guess that answers that,” Miceral whispered in his ear.

After an obligatory first dance with the other couples, Miceral led Farrell to a long table set aside for them. Swimming through the sea of well-wishers, Farrell let out a sigh of relief when they reached the far corner of the hall.

“Farrell?” He turned when he heard his name, scanning the crowd for the speaker.

Miceral pointed to their left, just as Ostert and Lillian made their way through the crowd.

“Congratulations on entering the ranks of the joined.” Ostert clapped Miceral on the back while Farrell gave Lillian a hug. Reaching for Ostert’s hand, Farrell stepped back.

“A dress tunic and no sword?” Farrell smirked. “You even wore your uniform when we came to dinner. I didn’t know you owned anything else.”

Lillian rolled her eyes and shook her head. “If you only knew the effort it took to get him to wear this today.”

Miceral reached out to hug her. “You only have yourself to blame for the monster you created.”

She nodded. “I know. You remind me every time I complain. If I hadn’t let him wear the uniform to our union ceremony, he wouldn’t think it’s acceptable everywhere.”

“At the risk of upsetting you,” Farrell pulled out a chair for Lillian, “I think he looks rather handsome in the uniform.”

“Thank you.” Ostert gave his wife an exaggerated nod. “But I still don’t find you attractive, Farrell.”

Farrell laughed, remembering their conversation when they first met. “That’s a good thing, since you’re about to become a father soon. I would hate to have your lovely wife vexed at me.”

“Hey.” Miceral poked him on the upper arm. “You should be concerned about your new life partner. Telling other men you think they’re handsome on our union day is not the best idea.”

Realizing the mistake he’d made, Farrell couldn’t think of a good comeback. He must have looked as confused as he felt because Miceral pulled him closer for a long kiss.

“Do that some more and I won’t even notice other men exist.” Farrell leaned in for another kiss before he let Miceral step back.

“Were we that bad?” Ostert asked his wife.

“We? No, we weren’t, but you were worse.” She smiled at him.

 “Me?”

“Oh, yes.” Farrell pointed at his friend. “For days after the ceremony you wore a smile as wide as your face.”

“So how’s the baby?” Miceral asked.

Ostert’s face broke into a grin. “The healers say he’s doing great.”

Farrell turned to Lillian. “He? I thought you said you didn’t want to know the sex.”

She let out her breath and turned to her husband. “I didn’t, but I agreed to find out if he agreed to dress properly for today.”

Miceral laughed. “I think she played you.”

Turning from his wife to Miceral, Ostert looked deflated. “Really?”

Putting an arm around his friend, Miceral shook his head. “If she really didn’t want to know, do you think she would have bargained just to get you in a tunic? She obviously didn’t mind finding out, but used it to get you do something she knew you’d resist.”

“Miceral!” Lillian’s eyes narrowed as she fixed her stare on him. “You’re not supposed to tell him my secrets.”

Gently taking her hand in his, Miceral brought it to his lips for a brief kiss. “My apologies, Lillian. Ostert is like a younger brother to me. Someone has to teach him what to expect.”

In the process of taking a sip of wine, Farrell sprayed the red liquid all over the table when he coughed. When he recovered, he waved his hand to clean up the mess. “You’re teaching him the ways of women? Where did you come by this knowledge?”

Turning Ostert away from Farrell, Miceral glared at his partner for a moment. “Don’t mind him. Just remember to ask me next time.”   
   

I think that's a good note on which to say "Thank you," to Andrew and remind everyone that he's giving away a copy of his funny and magic-filled book to one of the commenters on this post. Just leave an email address so he knows where to send it... and an answer to this question:

"Name a favorite character from a fantasy book you've read and what makes them memorable to you."

Andrew will hold the drawing on Wednesday, February 13th.