Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #6

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.

I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, who are being torn from each other on an alien world. This week the prompts were: “If you wish upon a star” or use pea soup in your story or have your character make some sort of comfort food or “When I'm away from you, I feel...” or use an overdue book fine at the library or  “My .... is bigger than your ...” or “round and round the mulberry bush” or “She slid her thumb gently across my lips and I thought I'd melt” or have your character Google something.

Just for fun, I used two of the prompts this week.


Enjoy!

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Sealed in Stone #6


Torrey knew he’d entered the nom when the palanquin’s red curtains ceased to glow. Luminous paint on the palanquin’s beams provided cool filigrees of light as new odors assailed him. He had lived his life among humans and had never smelled nomari bodies in great numbers. And there was something else, something new, cloying and sweet wafting on the oppressive air. The palanquin continued, rolling on the shoulders of its bearers, until little by little the air grew fresh again. Because of the veil he wore, Torrey saw little other than shadows.

The curtains brightened again shortly before the palanquin was lowered. Sovesa waited a long moment before she opened the curtain.

When Torrey stepped out, he saw no human faces. The only face he saw was Hers. Cyrrhi’s large body occupied a throne atop a dais of red jasper. Gleaming cave crawler fangs and panels of polished chitin graced her regal seat while smooth topazes glowed from her crown. The crown, fashioned from the jaws and carapace of a giant river beetle, trailed amber jewels into her long golden hair. From her crimson silk gown, cascades of priceless damsel eyes winked with sparks of inner fire. Pesht’s Queen rose and slowly descended the steps.

“Son of the Bhesarim,” she greeted. Her voice was rough and low. She lifted the veil that concealed Torrey’s face. Determined to show no fear, he looked Her in the eye. He had known she would be much older than he. Her cold gaze warmed. She slid her thumb gently across his lips and he thought he'd melt as her pheromones took hold.

“Exactly as promised. I am pleased.”

The ceremony took place immediately and was over within minutes. Cyrrhi clasped a heavy bracelet of gold upon his wrist, locking it to his body to mark him as Her Chosen. A yavnath mate. Sacred. He spoke the words drummed into his brain, about how he belonged only to her… his heart to her heart. It was all very flowery and false, because he had no heart to give her and it was not his heart for which she had bartered. The kumbh women, including Torrey’s mother, departed without speaking.

Sovesa guided Torrey’s veiled form back to the palanquin and it was with her that he rode to the Queen’s Chambers.

* * * *

“These chambers are for Her Chosen.”

The nomari female speaking was named Ypa. She was not a queen. She might have been one had she been fed differently during gestation, but she had not been and so her eggs produced only workers or warriors. Workers and warriors were not very smart. Ypa’s large, unblinking yellow eyes followed Torrey’s movements about the room.

“Thank you,” he said. His quarters were luxurious, filled with light.

“If there is anything Her Chosen wishes—”

“I wish to be with my friend.” As soon as he spoke the words, he wanted to take them back. He’d let slip the gender marker.

Ypa lifted her head. “You will not be lonely. She will want you often.”

There was no point in discussing anything with Ypa. To her he was but one of Cyrrhi’s possessions. She’d helped him remove his veils and heavy ceremonial robe moments before. He now wore only a light tunic and the ridiculous cock sheath, within which his erection had mercifully abated. Ypa told him he would be summoned later that night and must wear the cock sheath until his Queen saw fit to remove the device upon her first use of him.

After Ypa left, he dismissed three diminutive nomari domestic workers who watched his every move. They scurried off to curtained alcoves hidden in the walls that separated the different rooms of his apartment. As long as he was in the nom, he would never truly be alone. He stood in the center of the main room and looked up at the high windows. His only view was of the sky.

“Just enjoy it.”

He froze at the voice. No other human should be in his room. He turned around to see a tall, well-muscled youth with perfect creamy skin, honey bright hair, and eyes green as bog glow. A girdle crafted of dark burnished chitin and smooth beetle wings graced slim hips and a jeweled pouch cupped his genitals. Torrey had never seen a more beautiful man.

“I wanted to see Arton’s replacement.” The visitor spoke nomari but not like someone born to it. He was not from the kumbhs.

Torrey drew a breath and waited. He was the Queen’s Chosen and status, among the nomari, was everything. It was for him to guard his by prompting the interloper to concede rank.

His visitor’s eyes narrowed. “My name is Hari.”

It was a slave name, not even his own. Torrey felt a twinge for a man who had no better name to give. “I am Torrey Davir Bhesari Prim.”

“Arton’s brother.” The youth’s gaze raked him. “I expected more. My nose is bigger than your cock.”

“And next you’ll say your cock is bigger than my arm.”

Hari snorted. “Just ask Cyrrhi when you see her tonight—and leave her wanting more.” He walked to the center of the room and flung himself onto the scattered cushions. The erection distending Hari’s genital covering looked thick and long.

The blatant power move caused Torrey’s gut to go cold. Hari had just asserted control of the room. His room. Torrey already knew enough about Hari to be careful. He could take back what Hari had just seized, but that would just shift the Queen’s attention to Hari instead of himself on the night of his own Choosing. Better to play into the ploy and disarm it. Hari knew very little about him.

If Willem were here…Willem would have jumped on Hari with his fists for that taunt. He would have liked to see that.

Instead, Torrey waited before saying, “If She did not want more, She would not have chosen me.”


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Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more fun, free fiction, use the links below to visit the blogs of the other Wednesday Briefers.

Lily Sawyer      
Nephylim    
Cia Nordwell    

Monday, July 29, 2013

Basilisk Mug Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for the Petal the baby basilisk mug. The response was great! I included a response posted on Goodreads also and, without further ado, rolled the random number generator while the poodle thumped her tail and...

The winner is Penumbra!

I will be contacting Penumbra by email to make arrangements to mail her Petal mug.

I will be giving away one more of these mugs at GayRomLit in Atlanta this October. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Sexy Saturday

Welcome to my second Sexy Saturday. For this hop, authors post 7 paragraphs, or 7 sentences, or 7 words. This can be from a WIP or something published. Last week I did something published. 

This week I decided to preview something from my just completed WIP, Adored. The book is M/F and takes place in the Uttor series that includes Captive Heart and Dangerous Beauty. It's the romance of Vallmer, prince of a war-threatened country determined to secure a safe, political bride... and the pregnant, absolutely unsuitable princess he cannot resist.

Enjoy! And please visit the other blogs in the Sexy Saturday Blog Hop.


Adored


Adora laughed again, but the sound was warm, embracing. “You know, sex doesn’t have to be impolite. It’s a little undignified, but—”

“Which is why it is private.”

“Yes,” she agreed, and cocked her head, reassessing him. “Yes, it is.”

“Why are we talking about this?”

“You tell me.”

Now that would be dangerous. They were talking about sex because she made him think of it. “I suppose because I feel I can talk with you about anything, anything at all. And because I feel this way, you can steer me into any conversation you wish.”

Her smile beckoned him to thoughts he would do better to avoid. “Are you calling me artful, Prince Vallmer?”

“I am calling you fascinating.”


Friday, July 26, 2013

Out and About

Just thought I'd put up a list of the guest blog posts I did for my Thick as Thieves promo tour. I like to write unique posts for each blog I visit, and because Thick as Thieves was such a fun book to write, many of these posts are pretty good fun themselves. :)

“My Blurb Has Balls is where I tell the story of how I came up with a blurb about a barbarian sticking a unicorn horn up his ass.

~ No Fun At All, wherein I reveal that my family thinks I'm a dud.

~ Buddy Novels talks about how Thick as Thieves fits in the long tradition of novels, movies, and TV shows about male friendship. What do Vorgell and Madd have in common with Finch and Reese from Person of Interest?

~ Why I Love a Brawny Barbarian  because I really do! See picture below.

~ In Sex, Magic, and Playing by the Rules, I talk about how I built the magic system for Thick as Thieves and why rules are an important component of fantasy.

~ Barbarians and Basilisks talks about basilisks and how Petal was really a fortuitous afterthought. Includes cute excerpt of Petal's hatching.

~ Ten Nifty Uses for a Unicorn Horn  well, that one kind of explains itself! :) I have fun with unicorn horns.

~ In A Visual Writer I give a tip for using visual metaphor in character description.

~ Playing With Size is a fun post about how I drew on romance and fantasy stereotypes to have fun creating Vorgell and Madd. And the post includes an inspirational picture that's dead on for size comparison. Yep, that's what I'm talking about. :D


~ I wrote about Old School Gay Fantasy and Science Fiction--Really and name five books that were my earliest inspirations and put me on the road to being a writer. No surprise, they included gay characters! The book that didn't make the list: Lord of the Rings.

~ Swords and Sorcery has me talking about one of my favorite fantasy genres, not only what it is but also why I so love it. See picture above.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #5

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.

I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, who are being torn from each other on an alien world. This week the prompts were: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" or "anchors aweigh" or "I want to have my way with you" or use a scale in some way or make a reference to any old TV doctor (eg Marcus Welby, Dr. Kildare, etc) or have a character break into song unexpectedly or use a horseshoe or use an unexpected flash of boobs or use a beautiful sunset/sunrise. I was tempted by another beautiful sunset (symbolism and all that) but opted instead for using a scale in some way.


Enjoy!

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Sealed in Stone #5


Torrey drank the hot dark tea his mother poured for him. The drug lacing the liquid passed bitterly over his tongue but he choked it down anyway and welcomed the dulling of his mind that followed. The drug was the only escape allowed him. What came after was a haze of people in motion, his body being arranged and rearranged. Women stripped him and bathed him with scented water, followed by rubbing every inch of his naked skin with rough cloths, then honey-scented oil. They even handled his cock, fitting it with a jewel-encrusted sheath so that it glittered like a luminescent larva.

They gave him names to remember. He had heard most of them before. Sovesa, Cyrrhi’s Voice. Kirugu, a young queen the kumbh feared. Hari, Cyrrhi’s svadu slave, about whom they knew little. And the Kumbh’Kasarim, the goldworkers, suspected of having poisoned Arton so they might place one of their own sons in Cyrrhi’s bed….

He was being thrown into an ant lion’s lair.

By the time the leading women of his kumbh brought him forth to meet the Queen’s Voice, Torrey was draped with crimson silk, cloth woven from gold threads, and a diadem of copper and sea pearls upon his head, holding the veils all human males must wear outside their kumbhs, was so heavy he had no choice but to walk slowly. The garments felt unreal, as though he moved within a dream. So too was the nomari queen awaiting him in his mother’s chamber. A queen, not the Queen. A female who might reproduce sexually… but never had.

A sharp face, angles hardened by age, presented high cheekbones beneath deep, tired eyes as gold as the metal in his robe. Black pupils fixed on him. Sovesa, he recalled.

“She will be pleased.” He flinched from her nomari speech, though he understood the words. “The male must be erect. He can achieve erection?”

Jayn bowed. “Yes, High One.”

Thin lips tensed beneath flared nostrils. “The sight of me has not produced that effect. Yet I must present him in that condition.” Sovesa extended a vial filled with white powder. “Will you see to his presentation or shall I?”

Torrey couldn’t tear his gaze from the nomari queen’s hand. Too many fingers held the tiny bit of glass. Six fingers, he reminded himself. Only six. As if from far away, he saw another—human—hand take the vial, felt his robe being moved aside, the sheath encasing his cock withdrawn so powder could be sprinkled, then rubbed, on his glans before the adornment was worked back in position.

Excitement engulfed his organ and it filled, straining against the sheath as it rose beneath his robe. Sovesa grunted satisfaction, then arranged the panels of fabric by tucking them into his belt, leaving his presented member visible to all.

Please be over. Torrey had never wanted anything so much in his life as for this day to end. It was every bit as horrible as he had feared. Please be over soon.

Within moments, she released the crown’s veils so they covered his face. Torrey wished for light again.

“I release Her gifts to your kumbh.” Sovesa clicked twice and squat workers came forward to lower their yokes to the floor. Torrey listened to the clink clink of metal bars being added to the tray of the kumbh’s massive barter scale. Copper, most likely. Maybe iron or gold. His mind was too fuzzy and he couldn’t quite tell from the sound what the metal might be, just that there was a lot of it.

After the counting was done, Sovesa led the way out of the formal hall. Torrey followed, his mother guiding him. The veil not only hid his face from onlookers but prevented him from seeing individuals in the crowd that filled the courtyard as a dull roar filled the space between his home’s stone walls.

The sounds bore no resemblance to human voices, though he knew them for cheers.

Was Willem among the crowd? As he walked down the steps, Torrey saw only a red haze. Tears clotted his throat as he envisioned his lover standing among the onlookers who watched him depart to Pesht’s Queen with an obscenely erect, bejeweled cock.

Had he told Willem he loved him? He couldn’t remember. They’d tapped amulets. He’d packed his necklace his among his possessions… hadn’t he? The missing weight of it devastated him and the tears flowed at last. The veil stuck to his face.

Let it be done. Please, please be over.…

As the Queen’s Voice, Sovesa entered the palanquin first. Torrey paused, his foot on the lowered step, and then his mother grasped his elbow to hand him up.

“Go with the blessing of the First Mothers, my son.” Her low voice spoke human words that pierced the haze that was on him and ignited panic in his heart. But it was already too late to do anything but bite his lip in silence. “I and your kinswomen will follow you into the nom, to witness to the Ceremony of Yavnath binding, but you are Hers now already.”

The curtain swung closed to block all but stray light and air.

* * * *

“She will not eat you.”

Torrey had not expected Sovesa to speak directly to him. Until now she had spoken only to the women. He looked toward her voice, though he could not see her through the intervening veils and shadow.

“You may speak to me, ri’m.” She used the nomari word for a male of his kind.

“I am Hers, not yours.” He had reached deep into his drugged brain for that response. To speak now was a great risk.

“Obedience. Yavnath males are chosen for many reasons. Obedience was your kumbh’s reason. You will serve them better by learning Hers.” Sovesa huffed back on her cushions. “You are a pretty man, but your beauty will not be enough. I hope you are not depending on it.”


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Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more fun, free fiction, use the links below to visit the blogs of the other Wednesday Briefers.
Lily Sawyer      
Nephylim     

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baby Basilisk Mug Giveaway

Petal the baby basilisk first reared her little head in the final chapters of Thick as Thieves, whereupon she won Vorgells heart completely and that of many readers as well. In a moment of sheer whimsy, I commissioned some coffee mugs featuring Petal and I just love them.

Take a look. The mug was made by Chibisilverwings. Adorable, right? 




Heres the passage where Petal first appears:

All at once the egg split and a hideous little head popped out. The basilisk’s beady, slit eyes fixed on Vorgell. He recognized that gaze. The eye had looked quite a bit larger as it stared at him from the green jewel of Madd’s collar, but it was the same. He grinned a greeting and watched the slimy thing struggle to free a pink, clawed foot. He could not say for sure just what a basilisk was, save that it had very long toes and what looked like a beak on its snout. Some sort of wet, rosy feathers plastered its skull, but the rest as it emerged appeared to be soft, scaly, and green, not unlike a lizard. When it freed the last of four little legs, it tumbled, tiny tail and all, into Vorgell’s waiting hand, where it quivered in the cup of his palm.

“Well, look at you,” he said, putting aside the now vacant egg and its prison of rock. He thought better of touching the poor newly hatched creature, not knowing if that would be wise, and simply cradled it against his body where it would find warmth. Now that it was free of the egg, he could see the rosy feathers continued from its head down its back and it had a cute little tuft at the end of its tail. It didn’t look quite so ugly now.

Im keeping one of the mugs for myself and giving the others away. So yes, this blog post is a giveaway for one limited edition Petal mug! 

~ To enter the drawing, leave a comment and tell me why you think a basilisk would make a good pet. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact the winner.

~ You have until midnight on Sunday, July 28th to leave a comment and I’ll announce the winner on Monday the 29th.

~ I will ship anywhere in the world, but the winner will need to give me an address that will accept a postal package.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Sexy Saturday

Welcome to my first Sexy Saturday. For this hop, authors post 7 paragraphs, or 7 sentences, or 7 words. This can be from a WIP or something published.

This week I'm posting something from my just published novel, Thick as Thieves. This M/M sword and sorcery novel tells the story of Vorgell the barbarian and the witch thief Madd, two completely mismatched men who join forces—often sexually—to save their own skins. For more about the novel, click here. In the excerpt below, they're on the run...

Enjoy! And remember visit the other blogs for their Sexy Saturday excerpts.



“That was close.” Madd shook his head, his cheeks flushed prettily from exertion. He still clutched the bundle they’d gotten from Ibeena, his fingers curled anxiously into the thick hide. Beads of sweat trickled near his ear. A wild impulse to lick those drops swept through Vorgell, and he pushed Madd in one rough movement against the nearest building. Madd looked up at him in alarm.


“Are you all right?” Vorgell bent near to breathe more deeply of the masculine scent of sweat and skin. He could feel Madd’s body casting off heat, and he wanted nothing more in the world than to feel his skin slide slick and wet against the other man’s.

“What’s wrong with you? Of course I’m all right. You’re the one who was fighting! I’m surprised you’re not bleeding!”

Madd was still breathing hard, but he didn’t try to struggle out of Vorgell’s grip on his shoulders. Vorgell moved close, only stopped short by his cock—erect again—touching Madd’s belly.

He smiled at the glare he received for that trespass. “I’m glad you didn’t run away after all. If you’d run, I might have lost you. I rather like having a partner.”

His words earned him a smirk of triumph. “The moonblind trick worked pretty well, didn’t it?”


Vorgell could barely breathe he was so ensnared by Madd’s dark eyes, shining and lined with a fringe of thick lashes. The moon, not the sun, glowed in those liquid depths. Everything about the young witch male invited thoughts of bedsheets and night and the tender joys of the flesh. Vorgell was torn between wanting to keep this man safe and wanting to plunder him like a lovesick swain.



Shadows in the Night Giveaway Winner

Earlier this week, M.A. Church kindly offered a copy of her shifter novel Shadows in the Night for giveaway on this blog. Bright and early this morning the poodle and I drew a random winner from the entries and...

The winner is silverwingz888!

Congratulations silverwingz! I have forwarded your name and email to Michelle and she will be contacting you. And thank you also to everyone who entered and helped make the event fun.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What the Futhark? Skylar Jaye on Runes

Skylar Jaye is visiting today to talk about runes and her book, The Flame. If you haven't bought a copy yet, check out the giveaway on her blog. The magic system in this book is wonderful, and I'm thrilled to learn more about it because, for the record, I own a set of runes and want to use them. :D

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I’m so happy you offered to let me do a guest post here, Tali! I’m excited to share a little bit of random information with your readers.

Today, I’m going to talk about runes. What are runes? Well they’re letters, basically, but they’re so much more than the regular alphabet.


There are several different rune alphabets but the most common is the Old Norse runes. Those are the runes that I use in my book The Flame. The specific name of the alphabet is called Futhark, after the first six letters of the alphabet. I’ll share with you each of them and their meanings.

The first letter is Fehu. It means cattle and wealth and is shaped a bit like an F, but with diagonal lines coming off the straight, not horizontal lines.

The second is Uruz, which looks like a slanted triangle without a bottom. It means wild ox or sometimes water.

The third is Thurisaz or sometimes Thorn, which looks like a straight line with a triangle coming off the middle, kind of like a P but with the hump coming from the middle not the top. It means giant.

The fourth is Ansuz. It means god and especially Odin, the god of communication. It looks also like an F, but with downward diagonal lines, instead of the upward of Fehu.

The fifth Raidho, which means journey or ride. It looks like a capital R, but less round and with sharper angles.

The sixth letter of the alphabet is Kenaz, which means torch or beacon. It looks like a K that’s missing the straight line. So… like a mouth, maybe?

The main character of The Flame, Jeremy, studies runic magik at Samuin College. Runic magik is looked down upon by many of the magikal society—after all elemental magik is where it’s at. But Jeremy is proud of his runes and what they can do.

Jeremy is only a sophomore, but he’s thinking of specializing in defensive runes and wards. One of the best runes for that is Eihwaz. It means yew, but its secondary meanings are strength, endurance, defense, and protection.

Marcus Smith is a fire mage prodigy who’s a senior at Samuin. When he and Jeremy start to date, he gives Jeremy an amulet with Eihwaz etched into it—the protection Jeremy receives from that amulet becomes useful as the book goes on.

Hopefully you liked this mini-lesson in runes. Think of it as a hint at what Jeremy learns every day at Samuin.

The Flame is a long novella at about 40,000 words, or 162 pages. It’s m/m romance, published with Dreamspinner Press.

I’m currently giving away a copy of The Flame at my blog. To enter the contest, just comment at the relevant blog post over there: http://www.skylarjaye.com/?p=538.





Buy Links:



Blurb:
Despite the stigma against magiks other than the four elemental types, Jeremy Ashe works hard toward a degree in runic studies, navigating his way through family disproval and school clique politics while trying to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. What he never figured on is The Flame, Samuin College’s fire mage prodigy, Marcus Smith. Sparks strike and threaten to raze Jeremy’s plans to the ground. When strange fires begin to burn all over campus, clues point to Marcus. Suddenly life isn’t just complicated, it’s dangerous.

Excerpt:
From the second chapter—a part of Jeremy and Marcus’ first date.

Then Marcus blushed too. “Sorry, it’s just… you look great.”
Jeremy’s breath caught briefly and he lowered his eyes bashfully. “Thanks, you too.”
Marcus did, with his dark-red turtleneck that stretched across his wide shoulders. Jeremy appreciated the tightness of it around Marcus’s well-defined chest and then turned his eyes away again before his thoughts turned to inappropriate territory.
He never remembered the protocol for first dates. Was he supposed to say that Marcus looked hot? Because he did, but maybe that was too forward, and Jeremy’s sex drive wasn’t so high that he’d put out tonight, even if it was Valentine’s Day. Conflicted, Jeremy opened his menu.
“This place is known for their burgers,” Marcus told him. “But the rest is good too.”
Jeremy tilted his head. “How about their veggie burgers?”
“I’ve heard they’re good,” Marcus said. Jeremy looked up to see that Marcus hadn’t opened his own menu and was instead staring at him. “Are you a vegetarian?”
“No,” Jeremy said. “But I don’t like to eat meat very much. A couple times a week only, usually, if there’re good vegetarian options.”
Before they could say anything else, their waiter came up. He was an older gentleman, and he smiled at Marcus. “Should’a warned me you were coming, little man.”
Marcus smiled back. “Sorry, Rogers. It was a fairly last-minute decision. I just wanted Jeremy here to experience some of your wife’s fine cooking.”
The waiter, Rogers, nodded enthusiastically and turned his warm brown eyes on Jeremy. “Oh, you’ll love anything on the menu, lad. And the company too, I’ll bet.” He winked. “Now, what can I get you boys to drink?”
“Water for me,” Marcus said. “Jeremy?”
“I’ll have the same,” Jeremy agreed. “Could you maybe bring a lime with that?”
“Ah, sure thing,” Rogers said. “And do you know what you’ll be wanting to eat, lad?”
“Veggie burger?” Jeremy said, though it was more of a question.
Rogers smiled toothily. “A great decision, I’ll say. Fries or chips?”
“Fries,” Jeremy looked at Marcus. “Though only if you’ll eat some too.”
“Why not?” Marcus shrugged. “Just the usual for me, Rogers.”
“Coming right up.” Rogers gave them both another extravagant wink and left.
Marcus cleared his throat as soon as the waiter was out of sight. “So, did you want to open…?”
“Oh yeah.” Jeremy reached for and grabbed the small gift. He nimbly undid the wrapping to reveal a plain blue box. Opening it, he looked inside and saw, surprisingly, a rune. No, an amulet, he reassessed as he picked the gift up out of the box: an etching of Eihwaz with a soft leather cord to go around the neck.
“It’s supposed to bring strength to the wearer. Endurance and some protection,” Marcus said. He looked a bit uncomfortable. “But as a Runes major, you know that.”
“Yeah,” Jeremy murmured, for a moment speechless. “Is this yew?”
“I believe so,” Marcus nodded. “Why?”
Eihwaz,” Jeremy told him. “It symbolizes the yew tree and is most powerful when carved onto its own essence. This is a lovely amulet.”
Marcus smiled softly. “I’m glad you like it.”
Jeremy smiled back and then reached toward his coat. From one of the inside pockets, he drew out his bag of runes and set them gently on the table. He opened it and stuck his hand inside, and then thought strongly of the happiness he felt toward his new gift.
His fingers withdrew Gebo. He set it on the table next to the amulet, touching Gebo with his left hand and Eihwaz with his right. Slowly, he channeled that feeling of happiness and acceptance to both of them, and then switched his hands so that Eihwaz was now under the left.
Jeremy opened his eyes, not having realized he’d closed them. He looked up at Marcus, who was watching him with a curious expression. Jeremy swallowed down the sudden lump in his throat and asked, “Would you mind putting this on me?”
Marcus blinked and sat up straighter. “If you want.”
“It’s just… the gift is more powerful that way,” Jeremy explained quickly. “What I just did, with Gebo, the gift rune, was to, uh, accept the amulet. That way it will work with my other runes instead of trying to protect me against them. And if you put it on me, that will let the amulet and Gebo know that it was from you, so….” He bit his bottom lip. “You don’t have to.”
Marcus had already stood. He walked around the table and held out his hand. Jeremy gave him the amulet, keeping Gebo under his right palm.
“This,” Marcus said. “My gift to you.” He slowly slipped the cord over Jeremy’s head, his hands warm on Jeremy’s neck as the amulet sat heavy on his chest, setting him ablaze with feelings.
Jeremy took a shuddering breath and caught Marcus’s hand before he could return to his seat. “Thank you.”

About Skylar Jaye:

As a writer and a person, Skylar Jaye is eccentric, eclectic, and excitable. Of her many hobbies, she enjoys some of the weirdest and most ridiculous activities out there. From medieval recreation to equestrian games, D&D, muggle quidditch, and beyond. She loves learning, but all of those interests (psychology, anthropology, and sociology) tend to lead her back to her main passion, writing.

Social Links:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #4

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. 

I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, who are being torn from each other on an alien world. This week I used one of the picture prompts. Never could resist a good sunset!


Enjoy!

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Sealed in Stone #4


“You will want Her.” Torrey shook his head, but his mother’s calloused hand cupped his skull, threading through the strands of his hair. “Her chemistry will command it and your body will obey. This has happened before and—”

“It didn’t just happen! You wanted it! You put me before Her… you did. You showed me to Her Voice already, didn’t you? You knew it would happen and you didn’t tell me—” Of course she hadn’t. While he still hoped, he would not try to run away.

“Yes.” Sadness lay upon the word like rust on iron. “Because you are not just the prettiest—you are the brightest, you have the best mind, Torrey. Cyrrhi may want a beauty in her bed, but we want… we need… to put a man there, someone strong. She chose as we wished.”

She pronounced his fate with a plural that sealed his doom. It wasn’t just her. The kumbh leadership had decided. They’d decided he would be the best one to put in her bed, where he would be expected to advance the kumbh’s interests… and also protect the lives of all humans as well. They’d decided he could be trusted to retain his loyalties.

How not, when Willem would always be here, among those Torrey was charged to protect? The kumbh would take care of Willem, see to it he had a good life. At least he could make sure of that.

He spoke through cold, set lips. “Willem gets to be with whomever he wants. He stays in this kumbh. No breeding exchanges of any kind, no alliances. No marriage unless he wants it. And I will write to him, as often as She allows. And when I do, I want Willem to write back. Not you or some scribe. I know his handwriting.”

Jayn nodded. Her eyes bored into his, telling him she understood his feelings and would honor them. Only time would reveal if her agreement could be trusted. For years he and Willem had exchanged notes using an alphabet of their own devising. He suspected the kumbh had learned of it. But no one else would know the code words they’d whispered in the night.

Rafters, needles, belly, game
Our third arm, your bright flame
And I to keep your blanket warm.

What hurt most was knowing he would never hear Willem’s voice again.

* * * *

The Queen’s Voice arrived by curtained palanquin. A frame of gilded wood hung with panels of crimson silk swayed above the shoulders of eight squat workers. An escort of twelve hands of bronze-hued nomari warriors preceded the litter. Twelve hands more followed. They moved with  a bizarre, beautiful precision, their spears held upright and bearing the ceremonial banners of the Pesht’s Queen. The blades glinted red gold with the strong sun of the day.

Willem stood among the hundreds crowding the kumbh’s forward rampart. It was torture watching the nomari contingent progress along the road leading from Pesht’s yawning Mouth—carved in the shapes of giant cave crawlers, those fearsome predators of the mountain deeps—to the bridge dividing the nom from Pesht Dasa and the kumbhs. And then they crossed. The sight of so many pouring over the bridge had the power to sink his stomach, even though the nomari had not swarmed the kumbhs since the death of the last Queen, during the years of his grandfathers.

“Love a show, damn them.” Bayorn Tek’s bushy brows had lowered to a formidable awning above his sharp gray eyes. Hands rough from decades of working stone gripped the time-polished top of the rampart wall.

“I haven’t seen so many since—” He didn’t say the rest.

“We need the influence. Keeps us from having to farm out too many.”

Willem wetted his lips. Damn dry mountain air. But it was really fear that stole the moisture from his mouth and lungs. “When will we know? Will it take Her Voice long to choose?”

Bayorn placed an arm over his shoulders. “She’s already chosen. It’s a formality, lad, don’t you see? It’s all done days before Her Voice brings the gifts and the chosen male gets feted like a visiting Kumbharana.”

The nomari had reached the strong outer gate of the Kumbh’Bhesarim, and it opened to receive the boat-sized palanquin. Only a small number of warriors entered along with it. The rest remained outside in neat ranks. They looked mostly human and unlike any other creature with whom humans shared the world: two legs, two arms, one head atop lithe torsos roped with strong muscle, sharp humanish faces crowned by cropped pale blond hair. Two eyes. Willem couldn’t see those eyes from here but he knew what they looked like. Yellow, tinged with orange, maybe gold. Never dark brown, or green, or blue, or gray. Eyes that looked at a human but never into a human. From childhood he had been taught they were nothing but killing machines.

“The Voice won’t be presented with candidates?” His mind raced but found only dead ends.

“She already saw the candidates during the negotiations. They don’t tell ‘em they’re being looked at. If they know, might try to scuttle the choosing. Might fake illness or pinch themselves to a rash or feign madness, even.” Bayorn sighed. “I know because I loved one of them, too. Davi was Her Chosen before Arton.” He reached to prevent Willem from pulling away. “You can’t warn him. You can’t save him, if that’s his lot. You want to send him away with the memory of seeing you dismembered by nomari spears?”

“He needs to know!”

“Ah, lad. If he’s the one, he knows already.”

Willem ripped away from Bayorn’s hold on him and ran with desperate speed toward the stairs. But there were too many bodies, too many people making their way down to the courtyard where the gold painted palanquin stood with its sunset curtains open.

Waiting to swallow the sun.


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

Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more fun, free fiction, use the links below to visit the blogs of the other Wednesday Briefers.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Giveaway: Shadows in the Night by M.A. Church

I've admired Michelle's writing for years (has it really been that long... yes, it has) and I had the pleasure to be a beta reader for this book. And I do mean pleasure... Shadows in the Night is one hot shifter book! 

She's letting me do an ebook giveaway also. Easy to enter. Just answer her question in a comment and be sure to include an email address. My lovely poodle Cate and I will pick a winner about 6 a.m. on Saturday, July 20th. 



The foes that are unseen are often stronger than those that are seen.
~EDWARD COUNSEL, Maxims



Hey everyone! I’m M.A. Church and I’m here to talk about my latest book called Shadows in the Night from Dreamspinner, which was released July 12th and do a giveaway. To enter, answer this question:

At first, what did Jason call the golden cougar that attacked Chip?

The answer is in this post lol. Make sure to leave an email addy too.

Shadows is a paranormal/shifter novel that focuses on two men raised in different times—Jason, a Native American shifter, and Chip, a modern man with modern ideas.

Time has also brought with it an enemy that harbors a deep-seated hatred for Jason; an enemy who will use whatever means necessary to bring Jason to his knees… including Jason’s own mate.

As Chip is drawing farther and farther into a world he can’t escape from, one thing becomes clear to him. He’s going to have to learn to trust the man he’s coming to care for and take a leap of faith.


  
Shadows in the Night
~A Leap of Faith Novel

~Blurb:
When Chip Riley's beloved granny passes away, she leaves him all her money, her land, and a house that needs some tender love and care. She never mentioned the legacy comes with a Native American shifter who intends to claim Chip as his mate.

Jason Sky has lived since buffalo roamed the land. When his totem spirit, a black cougar, saves a little girl, he doesn’t realize that generations later, her grandson will become his mate, leaving him to take on a modern man with modern ideas. But that’s the least of his problems.

Garon, another shifter with a long-held hatred for Jason, plots to kidnap Chip and lure Jason to his death. Soon Chip finds himself in an untenable position between a rock and a hard place. A leap of faith may be the only way to save himself and the man he’s learned to love.

Pages: 200
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase


~Excerpt:
THE black cougar pulled the blanket to mid-hip. Chip’s chest was still bare, but hey, he had to get his kicks somehow.

Ugh, raw steak. Stereotypical response. See what looks like a wild animal and offer it raw, bloody meat. I prefer mine medium-well, Chip.

He made another loop around the living area. As far as he could tell, things had calmed down outside and the other shifter was gone. The appearance of a new cougar worried him. He knew who all the shifters were in town, and this one, he didn’t recognize. There was something about its scent too—he smelled off. Wrong. He had made eye contact when they fought and there was nothing, no humanity in the other cougar’s eyes. All of his kind retained their morals while in spirit form. Whoever this was had targeted Chip, and that was a mistake. Messing with a shifter’s mate not only could result in death, but usually did. His kind tended to be… possessive.

He glanced back at Chip. His human was snoring. All the excitement must have worn him out.

And what the hell is up with the “boy” nickname all of a sudden? Do I look like a boy? We’ll see who the “boy” is when I get your ass in bed and you’re under me screaming my name. Frankly, I don’t think I can afford to wait much longer, with the appearance of that other shifter. Of course, you need to know whose name to yell. First thing tomorrow, I plan to remedy that, thanks to the Other. Just wish it didn’t have to be done like this.

He’d taken to calling the new shifter Other simply because he didn’t know who he was. Hours passed, and the night sky lightened as daybreak approached. He decided it was safe for him to leave. There had been no sign of the new shifter for hours.

Should I wake him? Ah well, where’s the fun in that? Time to make a point, I think. One that he can’t ignore. Might as well, because come tomorrow, he’s going to have to deal with the fact things aren’t what they seem around here.



Author bio:
M.A. Church
M.A. Church lives in the southern United States and spent many years in the elementary education sector. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have two children. Her hobbies are gardening, walking, attending flea markets, watching professional football, racing, and spending time with her family on the lake.

But her most beloved hobby is reading. From an early age, she can remember hunting for books at the library. Later nonhuman and science fiction genres captured her attention and drew her into the worlds the authors had created. But always at the back of her mind was the thought that one day, when the kids were older and she had more time, she would write a book.

By sheer chance she stumbled across a gay male romance story on the web and was hooked. A new world opened up and she fell in love. Thus the journey started. When not writing or researching, she enjoys reading the latest erotic and mainstream romance novels.

My links:
Twitter @nomoretears00