Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #10

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: “Get on your bike and ride!” or “Try peddling your papers somewhere else” or “the ties that bind” or have your character find out that someone they know is pregnant or “ship of fools” or use a broken condom or use voyeurism or exhibitionism or use a flogger or paddle or have a character wear a pair of gloves and then explain why or have a character with a banana fetish or use: motorcycle, wings, tilt.


Enjoy!

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Sealed in Stone #10


Willem was on the floor, being held down by two women and one brawny guard brought in especially for him, when the nomari courier arrived. Upon that news, the women got off his legs and the guard yanked him up by the collar and thrust him into the nearest chair.

“Stay there!” Jayn snapped. Frustration poured off her like heat and narrowed her gray eyes to menacing slits.

Willem glared at the women and the guard—who really was the biggest human he had ever seen—and made a show of slumping back in the chair, showing he understood this was a fight he wouldn’t win. There’d been a string of them lately.

The door opened to admit a slender nomari warrior, its elegant body sheathed in the Queen’s colors and carrying a golden message tube in its hands. The creature’s dull-witted gaze scanned the room alertly but if it thought anything there was no way to tell. It addressed its words to Jayn.

“This”—it displayed the ornate tube with its seals and privacy ribbons—“for the male Willem Danisvit.”

“I will accept it.” Jayn extended her hand.

No! Only Torrey would have—could have—sent the message. Willem would never trust Jayn to give it to him. He lurched from the chair but the huge guard pushed him back down with one hand. The nomari messenger seemed not to notice the other humans, neither did it hand over the message.

“For the male Willem. No other.”

Nomari warriors weren’t very smart, but they were utterly obedient. Jayn’s mouth stretched thin with acknowledgment. She gestured for Willem to come to her and this time the guard let him rise. Not sure how he must behave, Willem walked over to where Jayn stood before the messenger.

“This is Willem,” she said, then to him she added, “Extend your hand.”

He did. He had never been this close to one of the nomari. He stood a head taller than this one. The creature smelled sharp and different, and it looked almost human except it was completely wrong: too angular, too bland, too yellow. He forced his hand to remain extended as the creature bent over it and sniffed. Was it possible the creature knew him by smell?

“This is the one.” When it spoke, the nomari messenger’s teeth showed, filed to sharp points, between pale lips. It handed the cylinder to him. “Return answer next sunfall.”

It left without another word. Unlike their females and queens, nomari warriors didn’t really have enough sense to be polite.

The message cylinder was made of wood carved with the shapes of coiling worms and other fantastic living things, covered with thin hammered gold and bound with intricately knotted ribbons and seals of wax. None of the latter were broken.

“May I see it? Please?” Jayn stood stiffly before him. What they’d been arguing about before was clearly no longer of concern.

“He sent it to me.”

“You will be the first to see the message. I will give you privacy to read it. I simply want to see the seals before you break them.”

The seals? Willem hesitated, not sure he could trust her. She’d taken just about every freedom he’d ever known… insisted he stay in this house, give up his stone working, eat and crap and bathe under watchful eyes in case… what? What did she think he would do? Talk to someone? Try to escape the only home he’d ever known? It had turned into such a hellhole the thought had begun to appeal to him.

The look in her eyes now wasn’t at all what he was used to seeing. She looked like she was pleading, wanting something from him. If she truly wanted to screw him over, she could just call in more guards and take the cylinder anyway. Pondering what lay behind her request, he handed it to her. Jayn snatched it and eagerly turned it in her hands. The two other women, though they eyed Willem warily, crowded near to look at the seal. They chattered excitedly.

“… the Great Worm of Pesht, the hammer and chisel… look! How beautiful it looks in wax!”

“Can I just have the message?” Willem didn’t see how a seal was so worth talking about. “I’ll try not to break it and maybe you can keep it.”

Jayn sighed and handed the cylinder back to him. “The seal is designed to break if the message is opened. But thank you for allowing us our first sight of it whole. Each Chosen is given his own design and seal. We are honored by the one Torrey has adopted. See?” She showed him the seal, nearly three fingers wide, layers of colored wax stamped to show the Worm of Pesht encircling two tablets of stone. Within the tablets were a hammer and a chisel. “The tools of our trade. Arton’s was a wall. Torrey chose these things to honor us… and also you.”

Willem took the cylinder and retreated to the chair, where he pried the ribbon loose, trying to simply lift the seal free. Just as Jayne had said, the seal cracked and broke into dozens of pieces. Seeing no more need for care, Willem opened the top of the cylinder and tipped it so the message fell into his hand. He dropped the cylinder to the floor and unrolled the paper to read Torrey’s words.

His friend was well and whole, living in luxury. Cyrrhi treated him kindly and he spent much time with her. He spent his time reading books and drawing designs, two of which he had included—Willem looked at the two other pages—and hoped Willem might work into stone for inclusion in Torrey’s chamber. The Queen was pregnant and he was doing fine. Torrey still sounded as optimistic, good-natured, and determined to do his job well as ever.

Willem looked up to see Jayn’s resolute face.

“You and I,” she said, “have much to talk about.”


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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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guest Author Rob Colton Talks About The Ranch Foreman

I want everyone to give a warm welcome to Rob Colton. I’ve been following Rob’s writing career for a long time and was thrilled when I learned he’d taken the big step toward publishing his work. I also think his first published book, The Ranch Foreman, is wonderful! 

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I’m Rob Colton and I’m here to talk about my new release, The Ranch Foreman. But first, I want to thank Tali for having me today. Thanks for your support!

Before we get to the excerpt, I wanted to take the opportunity to give some advice to first time authors. As a first timer myself, I’ve had several people ask me questions and hopefully I can help some people along the way.

My first piece of advice is to write, and keep writing. Read all you can get your hands on. Practice makes perfect.

Put your stuff out on the Internet. Set up a blog or use an established site like GayAuthors.org. If your stories are compelling, you’ll begin to get feedback and start to develop a following.

It is so important that you hook up with a beta reader and an editor—they could also be the same person. The beta reader can give you feedback and suggestions before you publish the story. An editor will help make sure you don’t have any grammar or spelling errors. Sites like GayAuthors.org are great at helping you find beta readers and editors.

Once you have written your masterpiece, try to find a well-established author to help mentor you. They can guide you through the process of getting your book ready for a publisher.

Finally, be fearless and submit!


The Ranch Foreman Blurb:

When Madison “Matty” Ward finds himself out of work and without a place to live, his cousin comes through with a job on the Gates cattle ranch. Despite not knowing anything about herding cattle or taking care of horses, Matty does his best to impress the older hunky foreman, Baxter Hollingsworth. Baxter is drawn to the new young hand, but he’s deeply closeted, and after an openly gay veterinarian shows he’s interested in Matty, Baxter’s repressed feelings lead to an explosive encounter. Baxter then withdraws—leaving Matty feeling angry and used—until an accident forces him to confront his fears.

Pages: 120

Cover Artist: Leah Kaye Suttle

Purchase Links:


Excerpt:

Matty slowly opened his eyes. For some reason, he was lying flat on his back on the soaking-wet ground. He felt like he had been run over by a bus. The storm still raged around him, and he blinked rapidly as he tried to focus on his surroundings.
Someone was shielding his head with a jacket. Not that it helped too much. He was still being pelted with rain. Matty looked around, trying to get his bearings. A flash of lightning illuminated Baxter pacing back and forth nearby, muttering to himself while Brian leaned over Matty’s head, holding the jacket.

Matty looked up as Brian’s face leaned over even closer.

His cousin gasped in surprise and shouted, “He’s awake!”

Matty lifted his hand and swatted his cousin away. “Gimme some room.” Matty groaned and rubbed the middle of his chest with his palm. “Ow…. Oh fuck….”

“The tree twisted. A limb smacked the shit out of you, knocked you clean out for a couple of seconds.” Brian let out a ragged breath. “We thought you were dead.” Brian’s voice cracked.

“I’m fine.” Matty tried to sit up, but the pain in his chest and a throb in his head forced him back down. “Fuck, that hurts!”

At the sound of Matty’s pained cry, Baxter spun around on his heels. The cowboy was wide-eyed in shock, yet furious at the same time. He stormed up to Matty and dropped down to a squat. He grabbed a fistful of Matty’s shirt collar, then quickly let go.

“Of all the stupid—” he shouted. “Are you trying to give me a fucking heart attack?!”

A smart remark was on the tip of his tongue, but Dobby pushed forward with George, interrupting. “You okay, kid?” When Matty nodded, Dobby looked back to Baxter. “Boss, we got the herd rounded up.”

Baxter looked back at Dobby and nodded. “Get the fence repaired. I’m gonna take Matt back.”

“I can stay and help,” Matty protested as he tried to sit up.

“Like hell.”

At the look Baxter shot him, Matty knew better than to argue this time. Baxter and Brian helped Matty to his feet.

“I lost my hat,” Matty said as the cold rain pelted him in the face, forcing his eyes closed. His head throbbed and his stomach rolled and it hurt to breathe. Okay, so maybe he wouldn’t be much help.

“Take Chestnut back for me.”

Matty assumed Baxter was talking to Brian, but he didn’t open his eyes to look. Instead, he leaned against Baxter’s big body and let his strength hold him up.
When they got back to the bunkhouse, Baxter helped Matty up the stairs, straight to the bathroom. Matty sat on the wooden bench and quietly watched as Baxter fetched a first aid kit, some painkillers, and a glass of water.

Matty downed the painkillers and handed the glass back to Baxter.

“You’re bleeding from a cut,” Baxter noted. Baxter set the glass down and shrugged his heavy canvas coat off. He turned Matty’s head aside and examined the cut on his forehead. “It doesn’t look too bad.”

As he worked on Matty, he quietly spoke. “When I saw you go down and you didn’t get up… I thought you were dead.” Using a washcloth and peroxide, he wiped the cut clean, and then placed two large Band-Aids over the cut. “I’m glad you’re not.”

“Me, too,” Matty said with a smile and a chuckle, trying to lighten the mood some.

Baxter didn’t react to Matty’s comment. He remained serious as ever while he started on Matty’s clothes. He pulled off Matty’s coat, then squatted down and tugged off his boots.

Despite his head and chest hurting like hell and shivering from the cold of being soaked to the bone, Matty found himself getting aroused.

The crabby cowboy was being soft and tender and taking care of Matty when he needed it. Unfortunately, that seemed to be the only time Baxter acted like he cared. But maybe he wasn’t a complete lost cause after all.

And maybe Matty had bumped his head harder than he thought.


 Author Bio:

Rob Colton is a software developer by day, and avid reader of romance novels at night. A romantic at heart, he loves stories that feature big, burly men who find true love and happy endings.

Rob grew up in northern Michigan and currently lives in the Atlanta area with his very supportive husband and their very spoiled miniature schnauzer.
 
Author Links:



Friday, August 23, 2013

Mermen, Pirates, and Sex... Really! Shira Anthony Spills the Pearls

ç  See this book here? The one with the hot mermen on the cover? Well, its one sexy, amazing read. I read the first draft. I read two beta drafts. And I just finished reading the published book. If you love world building on a grand scale, pirates, adventure and beautiful men in lust and love (including sex in shifted form), this book hits the spot. 

Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea Series #1), by Shira Anthony

Naturally, I invited Shira to come over to talk about her writing process. She's sharing a juicy excerpt! And click here to visit her blog to enter her Stealing the Wind giveaway!

* * * *

I didn’t set out to write a series about mermen.  Honest!  I really just planned to write about smutty pirates.  But somewhere along the way, the mermen joined the pirates and ended up co-opting the story.  And the erotic fairy tale became a full-blown romantic adventure series!  And oh, those mermen… I totally fell in love with them. 

Stealing the Wind started out as a story about Taren Laxley, a young man who was living his life as a slave after having been sold by his former master.  Taren loved climbing the masts of the large sailing ships that put into port in Raice Harbor in the mythical Kingdom of Derryth.  But his master, Borstan Laxley, was a gambler, and in order to pay his debts, he sells Taren to an inn where Taren barely has enough to eat.  Taren dreams of sailing on one of the ships he used to rig, but knows he’ll probably never realize those dreams.

Taren’s adventure begins in earnest when he encounters a group of pirates in the dining hall of the inn.  The lusty pirate captain takes a fancy to Taren, who after initially hesitating, gives in to the pirate’s advances right then and there (at the dinner table!).  On his way back to the sleeping quarters of the inn, Taren is accosted by one of the captain’s men, and wakes to find himself at sea.  The pirate captain offers Taren his freedom in return for three years servitude.  The catch?  Taren is to join the captain and his first mate in bed.  Taren, who longs for the pirate captain’s touch once again, willingly and happily agrees.  And thus ensues a very hot and very explicit ménage scene I had a blast writing!

But the pairing in Stealing the Wind isn’t ménage.  It’s strictly a two-man relationship.  And that’s where the mermen come in.  I wanted Taren, now two years older and far wiser than he was when kidnapped, to meet his true mate.  That man—well, maybe not exactly a man—is Ian Dunaidh, the seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom.  Taren is not naïve.  He knows Ian is attracted to him, and he fights his own overwhelming attraction to Ian.  What Taren doesn’t know is that Ian isn’t human.  He’s a merman—known as Ea—and Taren’s mate.  Taren, as it turns out, is a merman, too.  But what transpires between Taren and Ian is far more than just the usual desire to mate.  And it’s bigger than the both of them.

The idea of adding merfolk into the mix came after I read a few very hot shifter books.  Wolf shifters, werewolves, dog shifters, even horse shifters.  I considered dolphin shifters along the way.  But then I saw an amazing piece of art by one of my favorite DeviantArt artists, Heise, and I knew I had to write about mermen.  And what better way to do it than to create mermen shifters, who could take both human and merfolk forms at will?

Stealing the Wind is the first entry in an epic romance adventure featuring Taren and Ian.  As the series progresses, you’ll meet a few more shifters (nope, not spoiling it, but I can tell you they aren’t your typical shifters, either!).  Taren and Ian are the catalysts in an age-old struggle between humans and merfolk, and between different factions of merfolk.  There’s magic and mystery to be found in the books, as well as deep and enduring love.

I hope you’ll join me in falling in love with Ian and Taren!  I’ll leave you with a little taste of the first meeting between the two men. And if you’d like to read a bit of the very NSFW ménage scene, you canclick here.  –Shira

Stealing the Wind is now available from Dreamspinner Press!  You can buy it at the Dreamspinner Press website, Amazon, or AllRomanceEbooks.

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Stealing the Wind, by Shira Anthony

Mermen of Ea: Book One

Taren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.

Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.

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Excerpt from Chapter 4:

THE men who dragged Taren from the ship’s hold shoved him so hard into the captain’s quarters that he nearly fell face-first on the floor. His hands were tied behind his back. He’d been given water, although his throat was still parched. His belly growled. How long had it been since he’d awoken on the deck of the ship? He’d been locked away since he’d regained consciousness. He feared for the Sea Witch and her crew more than for his own safety. He prayed his shipmates had made it through the tempest unharmed.

In spite of his pathetic state, the ship and the men who manned her felt oddly familiar to Taren. He knew he hadn’t met them before, of course, but the sensation was strong. Regardless, the sense of familiarity had not improved the conditions in which he’d been kept since his capture. He felt relieved to be freed from the darkness of the ship’s hold, if only temporarily.

Through the large windows at the back of the room, Taren could see it was nighttime. He’d lost track of the days in the darkness. A nearly full moon illuminated the room, enabling Taren to make out a desk of carved wood, a simple table covered with maps, and several chairs. In the corner of the room was a large bed, also carved. The quarters were spartan, immaculate, and revealed nothing about their occupant.

“Leave us. And unbind him.” By the dim light, Taren struggled to make out the features of the man to whom the rough, commanding voice belonged.

“But Captain,” one of Taren’s captors protested. “The Council will want to know why he’s—” 

“Leave us, Seria,” the captain snapped with obvious irritation. “The Council has no jurisdiction here. My men and I can handle him without your help.”
 
“As you wish.” From the tone of his voice, Taren judged the man none too pleased to be dismissed.

The leather strap around his wrists removed, Taren brought his numb hands together and massaged them as the men left. “Do not think that you can run,” the captain warned, perhaps sensing Taren’s thoughts. “My men are stationed outside the door, and I am more than capable of killing you without their help.”

The captain drew closer, and Taren could make out his features at last. What he saw surprised him. He had thought the man far older, when in fact he appeared to be only a few years Taren’s senior. The same age, perhaps, as Bastian, although his body was far broader and he stood even taller than Taren himself. Taren could not help but marvel at the bright green of the man’s eyes and the handsome edge of his strong jaw. For a moment he wondered if he’d seen Ian before. There was something familiar in the intensity of his gaze, something that stirred not only Taren’s loins but also his heart.

Fool! He holds the power to kill you, and yet all you can do is admire his appearance? Bastian was right. You’re a wanton, insatiable creature.

“What is your name, man, and how do you come to be here?” the captain demanded, his expression hard with impatience.

“I am Taren. Taren Laxley. I know not how I came to be here.” He still remembered nothing after he had lashed the rope about Fiall’s waist.

The edge of the captain’s mouth turned upward in a sneer. “Taren?”

Taren said nothing but met the other man’s gaze and held it, unafraid.

“I am Ian Dunaidh, captain of the Phantom.” He spoke the words with little emotion, but Taren thought he saw a flash of pride in Ian’s eyes.

Ian Dunaidh? Again that name. Taren struggled to remember where he’d heard it before. Then it came back to him—the conversation he’d had with Bastian, not long before Taren had been lost at sea. He remembered the hatred in Bastian’s eyes when he’d spoken of Ian. What had Bastian said? Rider and this man had been schoolboys together, but Ian had betrayed Rider or perhaps broken his heart? But how could that be? Rider was a man well into his forties, but this man appeared far younger. Still, knowing they were bitter rivals, Taren became even more determined to keep secret his connection to the Witch and her crew.

“Where did you come from?” Ian asked when Taren did not speak.

“I… I don’t know.” Taren knew Ian wouldn’t believe it. He didn’t care. He would not endanger the crew of the Sea Witch, even if it meant his life.

Ian laughed. “You lie.”

The ship lurched with a strong gust of wind and Taren, weakened from lack of food and thirst, stumbled back against the bulkhead and slipped down. Ian moved to steady Taren, pulling him up with a strong arm around Taren’s waist. This close, Taren could smell the captain’s musk and feel his breath upon his cheek. He responded to the rough contact in spite of himself, his cock filling and pressing against Ian’s muscled thigh.

Their eyes met. Ian appeared momentarily at a loss, Taren’s touch seeming to burn him. Taren knew he should attempt to free himself from Ian’s grasp, but—to his shame and dismay—he didn’t want the contact to end.

Ian turned to Taren and parted his lips but seemed unable to speak.

Without thinking, Taren leaned into Ian until their mouths touched. For an instant Ian seemed to hesitate, then took Taren’s lips with obvious hunger, kissing Taren hard as he probed the warmth of Taren’s mouth with his tongue. Ian’s breaths came in stutters and Taren moaned. His tongue danced around Ian’s with equal fervor. Gods, how he wanted this man!

When Ian finally pulled away, Taren was left gasping for breath, dizzy. Even Bastian had not aroused him thus. Ian seemed to hold some power over him that he was incapable of fighting. He couldn’t understand it—Ian Dunaidh was his captor and Rider’s enemy. Even so, Taren felt naked before him. The remnants of his tattered clothes did nothing to cover his body from Ian’s piercing gaze. He also felt a sudden pang of guilt at the thought of Rider and Bastian. Not that they’d ever spoken of what might happen if Taren stayed with them after his three years of service were complete, but didn’t he owe them his body, for at least that long?

Ian too appeared taken aback by what had transpired between them. His face appeared flushed, his brow dotted with sweat. “What…?” He stepped backward, leaving Taren barely able to stand but for the cabin wall supporting him.

“Who are you?” This time Ian’s voice was softer, any anger seemingly replaced by something approaching wonder.

“I-I told you who I am.” Taren wished he sounded more confident, but Ian left him ill at ease. In spite of the venom he’d heard in Bastian’s words when he’d spoken of the Phantom’s captain, Taren wanted to tell Ian everything, if only to feel his body once more pressed against his own and taste his mouth again.

“Who were your parents?” Ian appeared to have regained his self-control. He straightened up to his full height and did not move to touch Taren again.

“I don’t know. I never knew them.” Taren touched his lips, which still felt warm from Ian’s kiss. Then Taren added, almost without thinking, “What do you care?”

Ian appeared to consider the question. “Just curious,” he said at last, his tone dismissive.

Someone knocked on the door and one of the men peered inside. “Everything all right, Captain?”

“Everything’s fine.” Ian barely looked at the man.

“Shall I return the prisoner to the hold?”

“No.” Ian did not hesitate. “He will stay here with me.”

“Sir?” The sailor appeared shocked.

“He will stay with me. Have the cabin boy prepare a bed for him. Post a guard at my door.”

“Yes, sir!” The man turned and left, sparing a frown for Taren.

“Do you intend to keep me here as your slave?” In truth, the idea of submitting to Ian held more than a little appeal for Taren, although he was far too proud to admit it.

“No.” It was not the answer Taren had expected. “You will sleep here. That is all.”

Taren felt shame to realize this answer disappointed him. On the other hand, being in the captain’s cabin might prove useful. Here, he’d have better access to the upper decks of the ship. With a little luck, he might be able to escape.

Ian narrowed his eyes as he said, “If you attempt to escape, I will lock you in the hold once more.”

Taren averted his gaze. Can he read my thoughts?

Several men entered a few moments later with a bedroll and a few extra blankets.
“Bind him. See that he’s bathed,” Ian said. “If he fights you, return him to the hold.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And see that he gets some food. Nothing too heavy. Gruel or soup.”

“Aye, sir.”

Ian nodded, then quickly left the cabin and a very surprised Taren behind.


IAN stood at the bow of the ship, focused on the water. The moon had set and taken with it the last traces of purple and red that had colored the clouds. He had been standing here for nearly an hour, lost in thought. Only now did he take heed of his surroundings.

Taren. The name was foreign to his lips. Not a name given to those of his people. And yet he’d repeated it now more times than he cared to admit. He couldn’t deny what he had sensed when they’d kissed. He is one of us. Was it possible Taren did not know? Ian had sensed no lie when he’d claimed not to know his parents, although Ian sensed deceit when Taren claimed not to know where he’d come from.

He doesn’t remember how he got here. That was also the truth. The nearest ship had been days away—they had received no reports of other vessels in the area—and if by some chance Taren had survived a shipwreck as a result of the great storm, surely there would have been debris to accompany him. The crew said he’d been found on the surface of the waves. With nothing to keep him afloat. A normal man would have perished. Much as Ian wished there were another explanation, there wasn’t. Taren was no normal man. But why had he sensed the truth of Taren’s birthright only when he’d touched him?

Ian also couldn’t deny the way his body responded to the boy, couldn’t deny that for a moment he’d been tempted to do more than kiss him. What the devil was wrong with him? All Ea were dual-natured, animal and man, but only adolescents new to their Ea form lacked self-control.


Why did you kiss him? Ian stroked his hand over his lips, recalling the feel of Taren’s mouth, his taste. Like the ocean, wild and vast. Something in Taren’s kiss had stirred Ian’s other nature. Even now, Ian felt the need to dominate the boy. And yet, along with the primal hunger, there was something more—something strange and equally as wonderful as the powerful attraction. Familiarity.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #9

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: “Are you hung enough?” or “crazy in love” or use a pickle or have a character dye his or her hair, or “I’ll roast you over an open flame if you...” or make a Queen reference or use a lap dance or “desperately seeking...” or use: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (without singing Scarborough Fair lol) or use: “Two’s company, but three’s...”

Well, I cheesed a bit (okay, a lot) with the Queen reference.


Enjoy!

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Sealed in Stone #9



Torrey watched Cyrrhi lift the amulet by its chain. The stone tablet dangled and turned before her scrutinizing eyes. “This is precious to you?”

“Yes.” He understood why she would ask. Compared to the priceless workmanship surrounding her, the amulet looked like child’s work. Because it was. Willem had been a boy of nine when he made it.

When Cyrrhi detected the clasp she took the amulet between her fingers and flicked at the latch. The stone halves opened to reveal what lay within. Her interest renewed, she touched each curl of human hair. “To whom do these belong?”

“A friend.”

She picked out the top lock of hair and held it up. Glints of red glowed from the brown strands, but her gold-bright gaze warmed as she put that lock back and lifted the second lock, which blazed from her thumb and forefinger like a candle flame. “This color,” she said, “is beyond rare. It burns like polished copper. Is this also from your friend?”

“Yes, my Queen, from when he was a child. It darkened as he grew older.”

“Even the darker is beautiful. I have heard of this color. Eshuun’s Queen possesses such a one, a male with hair the color of sunfall, said to be the most beautiful consort ever chosen by a Queen.” Eshuun was the most powerful of all noms. “Why was my Voice not shown this friend of yours?”

Torrey’s tongue swept his mouth and he swallowed, trying to keep the dryness in his throat from his voice. “He is a stoneworker. When he was a boy, there was an accident… he has a scar”—he traced the shape of Willem’s mark on his cheek—“and the kumbharani would not present a blemished youth as a prospect.”

“Is he ugly now?”

He should say yes, but he had vowed to never lie to his Queen. “No. Not to me.”

Cyrrhi returned the locks of hair to the amulet. Leaning toward him, she passed the chain over his head and placed it around his neck. Torrey closed his eyes as her lips brushed his forehead.

“You may keep this ornament. I have no desire to wound your heart. Keep this friend near, so long as you are faithful to me.”

He had no choice. For the rest of his life or hers, she was everything he would ever know. The thickness in his throat came from knowing he and Willem would never be together again. Never. To his relief, Cyrrhi pulled away and resumed lounging. She studied him with more interest now.

“Do you understand your place with me?”

He should have known the answer to that question. His mother and the women of the kumbh had told him his place, but somehow in the passage from kumbh to nom those words had been drained of meaning. All he had to offer was the husk of an answer.

“I am your consort, Chosen, the one at your side.”

“Do you know what that means?”

“I know what it means to me, my Queen. Will you tell me what it means to you?”

Her hand sought his and covered it. “It means you are my Chosen, the one at my side. You are the one all will see. The one I want them to see.” She released his hand and brushed the hair back from his eyes so his gaze could better meet hers. “Arton was dear to me, and so will you be. The nom will watch my treatment of you, seeking signs that I am becoming foolish with age.”

“I don’t understand—”

He stopped speaking when she placed her finger on his lips. “Queens enjoy ri’im males in many ways. One male is not always sufficient for our appetites—or our uses—but sometimes… sometimes one will be a yavnath love and unite us with our Goddess. Arton was my love, and irreplaceable. I am not asking you to be everything to me, the way he was. But a Queen without a Chosen is at the center of a storm, buffeted on every side by ambitions of enemies and allies alike. I have chosen you to give them one less thing to covet.”

Because if he was the Queen’s Chosen, no one else could be.

“I will give your enemies no reason to hope you will put me aside. I would never shame my kumbh, or you.”

“That is why I chose you. I can rely on you to uphold my honor, and your own.” With a sigh, Cyrrhi sagged back onto the cushions. Her hand went to her silk sheathed belly and began to rub circles on it. “As you can see, I will bear my brood soon. I do not have the energy to lay proper claim to you tonight.”

As Pesht’s Queen, she had borne many broods. Eighty four, if he had been told the correct number. A nomari Queen was capable of producing a brood three times a year, giving birth to embryonic young subsequently nurtured in the nom’s secret core by means humans never witnessed. Only the nom’s drones—nomari males—were more closely guarded. That was because they were fragile and dim-witted and died after sexual intercourse. No one knew why.

“But am I to stay with you?”

“Yes. Let me look at you and see Arton’s face again. Talk with me. I promised your people I would protect you, and so I shall.”

Torrey exhaled. Tonight he would not be called upon. It was a relief not to sense anything carnal about Cyrrhi’s interest in him. It was not what he’d expected.

Nomari legends overflowed with queens who conquered noms to acquire drones with which to reproduce. A queen in nuptial phase was driven to mate… and kill for that privilege.

Nuptial madness was why nomari queens coveted human males as possessions.

A human male could not impregnate a queen… but he could screw one. And he could do it without dying.


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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.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Guest Author Jane Smith on How Great Advice Can Ruin a Writer’s Day – Part 2

In my previous post, found here, about writing “X amount of words per day” I noted how a project timeline can alleviate the pressure to always create so many words a day. I’m a writer who is up and down, a lot of words one day, all research and notes the next. When I didn't hit my mark of a 1,000 words a day, disappointment set in. This great advice about daily output just didn't suit my creative process, and would get me down even though I was working hard. I needed an alternative. 

That was when I teamed up with a non-writer and discovered the wonders of a timeline and tracking my work. 

By keeping close track of what I achieved each day (no matter what it was and without judging), I discovered that after eight weeks on a new project, I had a 24,000 word document of polished material. That was 3,000 words a week or 600 a day. This was a relief because even if certain days were all stream of consciousness writing or research or notes, I knew on average I was making good progress with 600 words of polished material daily.

Here is the update: 14 weeks into the project I have 130 pages of polished material. This equals 2465 words a week or 493 words a day.

My pace is slowing!

But with a timeline and by assigning buckets of time to certain types of tasks (writing new material, editing, reading, research), I was able to look at my timeline and discover why my pace was slowing. [Note: It wasn't getting worse! Just slowing. Positive attitudes please.] Anyway, slowing down was usually reason for panic. But this time, panic was furthest from my mind and here is why. 

This novel is going to be about 180 pages. As I near the end, I spend more time eliminating previous material and more time refining the plot and scenes with editing. It's clear as day on my project timeline. Therefore, my word count pace decreases. "Of course!" you say. So simple. 

Not simple! Without my timeline, I would only recognize each day. If the day wasn't good, I would get down. Call me emotional. Call me a temperamental freak. You would be right. It's why I write. And I can only say my project timeline has brought me peace of mind. 

Any data is good data. Besides peace of mind, I now know I should plan on approximately 450-500 words a day (on average!) for my next project. Also, with my timeline, I'm able to see what type of writing I tend to focus on during certain times of the day and during the overarching project.

I see other articles and writers at a 1,000 words a day; however, I would like to ask them, "Is that polished material?" And even if it was polished, it wouldn't bother me. Why? Because by keeping a timeline, I have discovered how I work. Not how others work. And this leads to my advice for you: discover how you work. 

Take control. Play with your process. Be curious. And good luck!  

Come visit me at www.janesmithdivorced.com where I'm a paper art making, erotica writing, wine swilling lover of Martin.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #8

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: “Nothing else matters” or have a scene set in an art gallery or use: fish, knife, ice or use a bucket in an interesting way; or have one of your characters explain what FIFO means; or have someone watch an arrest or be arrested, or use: sun, mimosa, swing or “One is the loneliest number”. I went with “Nothing else matters”.


Enjoy!

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Sealed in Stone #8



Never taking his gaze off the scorpion, Torrey drew up his bare legs slowly until his entire body was on the bed. He looked for and found a faint yellow stripe on the venom sack and forced calm into his limbs. A yellow curl scorpion. Aggressive and deadly, they moved lightning fast. A single sting would stop a human heart. No amount of effort or skill could save a victim, only prolong life for a few days. 

Picking up a cushion, choosing the largest and heaviest, he took careful aim and then dropped it onto the tense arthropod before it could spring onto the bed or scuttle under it.

“Ypa!” he called. Child sized nomari workers, bland eyes wide and staring, emerged from their alcoves. No, not them… they were responding to his vocal distress, putting themselves in danger. “Back!” he shouted, using the harshest tone he could command. Cowed by his displeasure, they retreated. He grabbed another cushion. “Ypa!”

“Chosen?” Ypa darted into the room. Her sharp gaze scanned the chamber.

“Yellow curl, under the pillow on the floor.”

Without a word, the nomari female leaped toward the bed. With a strength that startled him, Ypa grabbed him about the waist and slung him across her shoulder. Just as quickly, her legs carried them both from the room. Her trill of alarm summoned warriors, sleek and silent shapes that poured through the central antechamber in a stream of flesh and limbs. To a lithe warrior wearing a headdress of rank, Ypa clicked a series of orders.

“I can walk!” Torrey protested. It was embarrassing to be carried by one of the nomari, as though he were but goods—or a war prize. Just as painful was the bony jut of Ypa’s shoulder blade into his ribs.

Ypa did not put him down until they were in another chamber, one that was not part of his apartment. Here the ceiling vaulted even higher and boasted a clerestory that ringed the room with windows and light. The mosaic floor must have taken human artisans a generation to create. Each flat gemstone in the great design was set within thin veins of gold.

“You will be safe here. Nothing else matters.” She grunted as she lowered him onto his feet.

The floor greeted him coolly as Torrey’s bare soles pressed upon it. He was about to ask where he was when movement drew his attention past Ypa to the hangings at the far end of the room, falling from windows to floor in a waterfall of blood red silk.

“Why is he here before being summoned?” Cyrrhi asked. She looked ponderous and cross, her movements slow as she walked toward him.

“My Queen, he claimed danger.”

Among their many other traits, the nomari for the most part dealt with facts. Ypa’s fact was that he had claimed to be in danger. A soft click from near the door caused Ypa to go there. When she returned, she held a square of red cloth with something black upon it. The scorpion had been found—and crushed.

“It is as he claimed. I ordered his room searched. This was where he claimed it would be.”

“Under a cushion I threw on top of it. It was in my slipper,” he said. The information was probably unimportant, but his nerves compelled him to explain.
 
“A creature from the low desert, dangerous and deadly,” said Ypa. When Cyrrhi gestured her to approach, the female did so and knelt, extending her hand so the Queen could examine the dead arthropod.

Cyrrhi’s gold-hued, calculating eyes turned toward Torrey. “It appears his safety requires that he stay with me. Have everything in his chambers removed and examined. Destroy his garments, ornaments, and footwear. I will have his kumbh provide all new at my expense.”

“Yes, my Queen.”

His clothes? Everything? All he would have left was what he was wearing now, an absurd arrangement of sheer panels hung from a girdle of iridescent links. And he wasn’t wearing the possession he valued most.

“My Queen,” he dared to say.

She cocked her head. “Yes, young one?”

“I would like to keep one of my ornaments. It has… deep meaning for me.” He clung to hope the nomari Queen was able to appreciate the import of his wish. The nomari were not a sentimental race… except for their queens. Intelligent and ruled by hormones even more so than were humans, queens possessed true emotion. Indeed, their passions were as famed as they were dangerous.

“An ornament?” Her chin lifted slightly. “Describe it.”

“An amulet of plain cut stone on a thin gold chain. It looks unimportant, not like something a Chosen would wear.” He flushed at describing Willem’s gift in this way.

“Yet it is important to you.” To Ypa she said, “Find the thing and bring it to me.” She gestured for Torrey to follow, leading the way past the blood silk curtains into a chamber draped with richly colored hangings about a large bed. The bed's covers matched in color the purple hue of Lishar, the small moon that moved nightly across the sky.

Cyrrhi sought the bed and reclined upon her side, her silken gown spilling across her heavy thighs and large, protruding belly. When she indicated Torrey should sit and face her, he did so nervously. He didn’t know what she would want, not specifically, though he’d been told some of the possibilities.

Her six fingers combed back a lock of hair that had fallen across his cheek and tucked it behind his ear. Torrey forced himself not to flinch when she traced the line of his nose and touched his lips.

“You look so much like your brother, like Arton,” she said. Her hand fell away from him when she looked up at Ypa, who’d just entered the room. A stone amulet on a gold chain dangled from Ypa’s hand. “Is that the thing? Let me see.”


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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.

Nephylim   
Lily Sawyer      
Cia Nordwell