Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday Briefs: StormLords part 1

Hey everyone! For a few weeks or so, I'm going to post the first few chapters of The Stormlords. Eventually it will be its own book, but for a while it will be my weekly Wednesday Brief!


            The heat hung over the village like a smothering blanket. 

            Rowen watched his neighbors carry buckets of water out of their hut, the image dancing in the heat waves that wavered off of the baked clay. The entire village was preparing for the daily gathering, always necessary during a heat spell. The gathering was a time for people to spread out precious goods like water and pit seeds, which would cool down the body and prevent heat death. 

            In normal times, goods were traded as per their worth. During a heat spell, however, nothing could match the worth of a simple bucket of water or a single pit seed. As a result, all shared, carrying the village through the spells that sucked the life out of the area. 

            Rowen had nothing to share. He only benefited, and he knew others resented him for it. He walked to the gathering with a heavy heart, his scalp burning from the sun as though his red hair were aflame. 

            The others who passed him glared, their eyes full of suspicion. None offered help when he stumbled in the heat. His store of food, the food he hunted for himself, had grown small, and the water bucket in his home was mostly dry. 

He would never steal water, but no one would believe him. Not after what happened.       
            Alain, the village elder, called the meeting to order, his powerful voice carrying over the throng.  There were fewer people here today than the day before. A bad sign. 

            “Report any losses.” This was how the meetings always began. Heat spells killed the young and the old first, and in the first week of this one there had been dozens of deaths. This heat spell was in its third week, the longest Rowen had ever experienced. 

            Hands went up, and Rowen looked down at the shady ground. “Talia.” An eight year old girl who had loved to play outside in the rain during winter. “Edericks.” An older man who dyed fabrics. “Abigail.” The seamstress. 

            Had they died during a normal time, they would be cremated. Fires were too dangerous during a heat spell, so they would be buried on the edge of town instead. 

            “This is day 22 of the current heat spell, the second of the warm season.” Alain intoned. “We have suffered greatly so far.” 

            “Too much!” A man cried out. Rowen looked up. He had lost his infant daughter in the first few days. 

            “Something must be done!” A woman cried. 

            “There is nothing that can be done.” Questions like these always arose. People yearned for the old times, when belief in mythical rituals that could bring the breaking storms was rampant. The old beliefs had fallen out of favor, people realizing that the advent of the storms was unpredictable, but the longer the heat spells stretched on the more desperate people became. 

            “Erik has measured the temperature currently at 134 degrees, dropping to 100 at night.” Alain continued. “This is unusual, but it should only mean that the storm will come soon.” 

            “The heat spells are longer and hotter. We should go back to the old ways!” A man on Rowen's left stood up, redfaced in anger. Andrew, the blacksmith, who's shop had lain abandoned for the last three weeks. “This would never have happened when I was a child!” 

            “There is no point in wasting energy on a ritual that won't work.” Alain didn't bother raising his voice. “The best thing to do is to wait and keep calm. Exertion will bring death.” 

            “We must do something!” The same woman who had been ignored before yelled again, louder this time, and people responded, turning to her and some agreeing, whispering under their breath.

            Rowen's heart picked up speed. The mood of the crowd was turning, from a tired group of people willing to help each other to get through hard times to something else. Something dangerous.
           
 “What would you have us do? The dances will only cause heat death faster.” Alain was trying to quell the crowd. 

            “There is no need for dances.” A man spoke up from the back of the throng, an accent shading his words. Rowen didn't recognize him until he turned to look. 

            The speaker was a man with pale hair and eyes, a traveler who had settled here from the north only a year ago. The heat had been unkind to him, his skin burned red from the sun. He always told tales of his travels, and people naturally paid close attention to him when he spoke.  

            “Where I come from, heat spells never last this long.” He spoke slowly, calmly, with a soft commanding voice that bade you listen. Rowen immediately didn't trust him. 

            “How?” Andrew asked, some of his belligerence gone. 

            The man chose his words carefully. “Where I live, heat spells are...harsher. Everyone fends for themselves. We are not as quick to share.” 

            A few people seemed concerned, and the man quickly picked up his tale. “But we have found a way to deal with that. Some people are not worth sharing with, after all.” 

            Someone glanced at Rowen. He swallowed, looking away. 

            “Surely this is not necessary.” Alain spoke up. He too sounded nervous. “We will begin the dispersal of water and seeds-” 

            “Where I come from, we give up the people who do not deserve resources.” The man continued, ignoring Alain, and the crowd hung on his words. “Sacrificing them to the Storm Gods brings the storms faster, and makes those who survive more comfortable.” 

            Rowen took a step back. People were nodding, smiling. Someone behind him grabbed Rowen by the arm. 

            “This one killed his parents by stealing their water!” Andrew yelled. Rowen opened his mouth to deny it, but of course no sound came out. He had never been able to speak, not since it had happened. 

            “Criminals make perfect sacrifices.” The man said, looking at Rowen but not meeting his eyes. “The Storm Gods are vindictive.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday Briefs: Aesthetics of Invention Epilogue




Kenneth took a breath, stabilizing his magical strength as he got close enough to feel it double in power. Thorn was nearby, down the hall and in the small, cramped conference room in the inventor’s college.

The lightbulbs that illuminated the long hallway remained steady. After their week together, Kenneth had long gained control over his magic.

And, it seemed, Thorn had learned to focus on his work and his relationship. The past week, a week after their time together, he had finally finished his new prosthetic. Kenneth didn’t want to distract him, but he wanted to see it, and show his support. And there was something important Thorn needed his help with.

The conference room wasn’t too full, but Thorn’s friend Saul widened his eyes when Kenneth stepped into the room. He took a seat near the back, but the amount of heads turning made Thorn look up too.

He met Kenneth’s eyes, and Kenneth gave a small smile. Thorn sighed, obviously nervous, but smiled back.

Mutters bloomed around the room, but when Kenneth did nothing but sit and wait, they died down. Finally, Thorn cleared his throat after a stabilizing breath, holding up his project.

It looked different than when he had shown Kenneth weeks ago. It was sleeker, more refined, and more silvery than before.

“Greetings, everyone,” he began. As he spoke, he settled into the tone Kenneth was used to hearing from professors and talented students presenting. “And I’d like to thank Inventor Charles for mentoring me. With our work, the ultimate test is if we’d use it ourselves. And, today, I intend to begin doing so, to demonstrate my mastery of prosthetic engineering.”

He placed the new hand on the table.  “Of course, I’ll need an assistant’s help. Kenneth?”

More heads turned, more eyes going wide with surprise, as Kenneth got up and crossed the room. He wouldn’t use magic for this.

Thorn had explained the mechanism several times when Kenneth kept having trouble with the locking piece. Now, though, he unhooked it deftly, and the old prosthetic came off.

A brief look flashed over Thorn’s face, something that wasn’t pain but maybe fear. Kenneth knew why, or at least he could guess. But he didn’t care about the stump. Without missing a beat, he picked up the new prosthetic and fitted it, helping attach the small wiry bits that according to Thorn would sense the muscles and transmit those small twitches into hand movements.

One, two, three. Three locks, and it was secure.

“And now,” Thorn said, stepping back. His hand came to life, the fingers waving as though they were real. “I can do anything he can do.” He laughed when one of the people in the room snorted. “Well, almost anything.”

***
“Thanks,” Thorn said. He sat across the table in the cafeteria of the inventor’s college, holding a cup of water in his new metal hand. Saul sat next to him. “It went perfectly. Although with the way the professor investigated it afterward, I think he thought you had done some magic to it.”

“My magic couldn’t compare,” Kenneth said. “I wouldn’t know the first thing about making something like that.” No mage had ever had to. It was something talentless did—something magi could benefit from, and would benefit from, if one day they worked together.

Once they were Enforcers, they could make that a reality.

Saul sipped his drink. He still sometimes eyed Kenneth as though he expected the mage to suddenly attack, but those times were getting farther and farther apart. “It was a good project. And not everyone who makes prosthetics has the benefit of being able to immediately use it and test for any mistakes.”

Thorn laughed and drummed his metal fingers on the table. “True.”

The doors to the cafeteria swung open, and Kenneth caught sight of a familiar face. George, the man who had destroyed his gift to Thorn and threatened their relationship, strode in. His eyes met Kenneth’s.

Anger flowed through Kenneth, but he forced it away. His magic stayed under control, and he looked to Thorn, who hadn’t noticed George and was still tapping the table. He smiled when he saw Kenneth looking at him, and any residual annoyance flowed away. He ignored George, putting the angry, bitter man out of his mind.  There was nothing more he could do.

George had made his point about talentless and magi becoming lovers. And they, by staying together, had made theirs.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wednesday Briefs: Aesthetics of Invention part 29


Part 29.

Thorn walked with his head held high and his mage lover by his side. They passed the stables, where they tied up their horses, and then strode down the hall, Thorn’s body fizzing with excitement and no small amount of arousal.

George didn’t matter. What other people thought, mage or talentless, didn’t matter. What mattered was Kenneth, here and now.

The door to his room was still splintered, but it closed, and Thorn paused once inside, staring at his lover. Kenneth’s face was flushed, his eyes bright, and he leaned against the wall. The robes he wore were tight on his shoulders and loose around his slightly spread legs, but they didn’t hide the bulge that was obvious to Thorn’s trained eye.

“How’s your magic?” Thorn asked, taking a step closer and trailing his fingers along Kenneth’s sides.

The mage hissed, raising his head and exposing his neck. Thorn didn’t take the bait, opting to move his hands lower, undoing buttons. “Well?” Thorn asked again.

“It’s…under control,” Kenneth said. Thorn flicked his gaze to Kenneth’s hands, which were flat against the wall, but no tell-tale electricity or heat gathered around them.

“Good,” he said. “You’re doing better.”

Kenneth quirked a smile, his body shuddering as Thorn undid the final button and put his hands on him. “It’s good to be around you.”

Thorn smirked. “I feel the same.” He loved touching Kenneth this way, feeling the mage beneath his hands, quivering under Thorn’s power. He may never understand magic, but he understood this. He knew where to trail his fingers, where to be firm and grab and where and when to be soft, to tease. His own cock twitched, thickening painfully, as he grabbed Kenneth’s thigh with his metal hand, squeezing hard and digging his metal fingers into the muscle to pull Kenneth’s legs apart.

“Thorn, yes….” Kenneth threw his head back, his eyes shut. “Please.”

“Please what?” Thorn stood straighter, facing his lover. “I’m not even undressed.”

Kenneth’s face reddened, his blue eyes opening halfway. “Do you want me to undress you?”

“That would be nice.”

Thorn stepped back, but Kenneth didn’t move. Instead, he spoke in that deep, sensuous voice of his, saying words to the aether that sounded like the burbling of a creek, or maybe the whistling of the wind. But Thorn’s buttons came undone, his pants loosening, and his coat shrugged itself off his shoulders.

For a moment it was frightening, Thorn’s heart pounding as his clothing unfastened itself. But thrill replaced fear, and he let it happen, letting Kenneth’s controlled magic render him naked for his mage. He used his metal hand to make Kenneth moan. It was only fair.

Soon enough, cold air washed over Thorn’s naked body, his erect cock jutting out in front of him. Kenneth stared, hunger in his eyes, and Thorn had to smile.

“Alright, let’s get you the rest of the way then,” he said, and grabbed the silk robes his mage loved so much. With a wrench, he tore them off Kenneth’s shoulders, creamy pale skin revealed. Kenneth moved with him, falling against Thorn’s chest, and Thorn held him. He relished the mage’s warmth, and the sensation of the other man’s body against his own aching cock.

“Thorn…” Kenneth turned in his arms, facing him and moving their bodies closer together. “I love you.”

The words added something, the evening suddenly less about naked lust and becoming something deeper. Thorn grabbed Kenneth’s arms, connecting their mouths in a slow kiss, as if trying to communicate everything he could in one act. He loved Kenneth. In the end, that was what mattered. This was what mattered.

Kenneth’s mouth opened, letting Thorn inside, and Thorn relished his taste and the feeling of Kenneth’s slick tongue and soft lips. His cock ached, and he desperately wanted to push Kenneth down and enter him right then, but another part of him was happy enough just being with him like this.

His future was with this man, for who knew how long. He could be an enforcer, and most likely learn skills he had never even imagined before. As he kissed Kenneth, possibilities flittered through his mind like shooting stars, possibilities that involved being with Kenneth, like this, over and over.

And to think it had all started with a flash of lust at seeing a sexy blond man on a nice horse.

“You know what makes the magic easy to manage?” Kenneth whispered into their kiss, breathless.

“What’s that?” Thorn said.

“When I don’t care about it. I don’t care what you can do for my magic. I don’t think about it. I just want you.”

Thorn smiled. That was exactly what he wanted to hear.

“Then I’ll have you,” he said. “Get on the bed, because I want you just as much.”

Kenneth obliged, and as Thorn was lost in the familiar, wonderful sensations of their lovemaking, all other worries faded from his mind. Whatever happened, Enforcers or not, mage or talentless, he would fight to make this relationship work.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New release stats and signed print book giveaway!

I'm sure some people are wondering how sales go for new releases. I don't have all the info, but I have some. This is all since July 3rd, the release day for Freshman Blues, with a smattering of pre-release sales.

On the Dreamspinner website, I've sold 62 copies, all but one of which are Ebook.The majority of these sales took place in the first few days, when I had my little events and the book was on the "New Release" front page.

On Amazon, I've been hovering between the top 30 and top 100 for gay fantasy. In raw sales, though, according to salesrankexpress.com, that's about 20 since release. (That's what happens in a niche market). These are all Ebooks.

The other two major retailers are Barnes and Noble and All Romance.  I don't know the numbers for these retailers, though I know I've gotten some sales since I have the "customers who purchased this book also purchased..." thing appear. On average from self-pubbing my cyborg shorts, All Romance sells slightly more than Amazon and Barnes and Noble less, so we can estimate, if we're being super stingy since I like to play it safe, 21 at All Romance and 1 at Barnes and Noble. (I did say I was stingy. I don't like getting my hopes up).

I want to hit 100 sales in the first month, and it seems I'm well on my way!

So, now for the giveaway. I will give away a signed print copy of Freshman Blues once I hit my first 100 sales between Dreamspinner and Amazon (Sorry, but I can't truly count sales from All Romance or Barnes and Nobles since I don't have raw numbers). So, how do you win?

Easy. Comment on the blog about Freshman Blues. Anywhere, really. Tell me about the book. Tell me about your favorite character. If you haven't read it, tell me how you found my blog or why you'd want to read it. From all the people who comment, I will draw names from a hat once I hit 100 sales and that person will be contacted so I can send the signed book.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

Freshman Blues out today!

Hello everyone!

Today my newest book, Freshman Blues, is now available from Dreamspinner press! 


When Chris is invited to prestigious Creekville University, he discovers he is part of an experiment by the mysterious Professor Faran. There’s no other way a C student like him would have been accepted into a college where academic mastery results in unique powers like levitation or empathy. But if Faran is right, even below-average students can get special abilities and a good job after graduation. Chris just has to work hard.

Chris isn’t the only one, either. Frederick has worked for Faran for years, and Chris is intrigued by the aloof and sexy older student. But Frederick is too terrified of life after graduation to pursue romance. As they work together, Chris tries to help Frederick out of his depression, all while juggling friendship, classwork, dating, and trying to carve out a place he can belong.

But funding for the experiment is running out, and Chris has to acquire an ability—any ability—soon, or he’ll lose his opportunity at Creekville, and any chance with Frederick, for good.



Also, check out the Dreamspinner Press blog today--I'll be chatting all day!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Celebrate!

Let's celebrate the Supreme Court's decision today! Equality in marriage for all!