Good morning! Merry Christmas! For you, I have a gift of free reads. Or mostly free reads, anyway. If you go to Smashwords to grab your copy of my very short novella, "Quick-Fix Wedding," it's free. Amazon.com insists that it has to be 99 cents and I can't manually make it free there. However, if a bunch of people click on the "report this at a lower price" link, Amazon may eventually make it free due to price matching. If you feel like sticking it in Amazon's back, feel free to use the Smashwords link to brag to Amazon that you paid nothing for your copy. ;) I have to admit, I have not yet begun to try and figure out how to get it uploaded on Nook Books yet. It took entirely too long to figure out Smashwords and I am now mildly traumatized. Any way, Merry Christmas!
Monday, November 25, 2013
|Down Town Talbot's Peak|
I also am trying to make a map of the town of Talbot's Peak. The above picture is
one shot of down town Talbot's Peak. It's looking a little rough and unfinished, but I'll get there. I'm having to teach myself Daz Studios 4.6 as I go because, well, it's just silly for me to still be working in the old Daz3 environment. And it's still free right now. So, I'm relearning how to manipulate stuff. I'm not sure playing with 3D software counts as work, though, since it's actually more of a hobby. (The other two pics are examples of what I do to relax! Their quality compared to today's creation should give you an idea of why I'm not entirely happy with the town scene.)
That's about it as far as newsy bits for right now. I'll close this out with a sneak peek at the afor mentioned untitle WIP and wish you all a wonderful thanksgiving week!
"Mercy," Jarod Black muttered thickly past a split lip and chattering teeth. He was cold and in pain, his whole body throbbing from the earlier fall off his horse. He'd fallen into the river, which had saved him from a broken neck and his pursuers had fished him out of the icy water, sparring him from drowning. The long ride back to Castle Blanche while wet and tightly bound had spared him nothing.
Perhaps the lord of the castle would spare him death. After all, Jarod hadn't actually stolen anything. It was splitting hairs but that was about all he had going for him at the moment. Though, in all honesty, it was more than he'd had going for him for a long time. He'd found adventure and made a name for himself but had nothing to show for it.
"Mercy for a thief?" Lord Morgan repeated archly.
"I stole nothing," Jarod said mulishly, knowing it was not the correct thing to say but unable to stop himself.
"Except for one of my horses," his lordship shot back. Jarod started to shrug but flinched when the motion jostled his throbbing shoulder. he clamped his eyes shut and fought the nausea that stewed in his belly.
"You got it back," he gasped through the pain.
"Because you fell off," his lordship replied. Jarod hung his head as the nausea turned to a cold sweat, really not a good thing considering the chill he had from being dunked in the icy river. He knew Lord Morgan was waiting to hear his next rejoinder but he was having trouble thinking as the shock of his injuries finally caught up with him.
"Mercy, then," he heard Lord Morgan say distantly, as though from far away down a muzzy, echoing cavern. He was fainting, Jarod realized just as he struck the ground. How undignified...
Lord Morgan looked down at the silver-tongued thief before him. Oh, he knew Jarod Black, or rather he knew of him. The knight-turned-mercenary was becoming very notorious for his willingness to take on jobs with little success, primarily because he always managed to scrape through. Not this time, of course. Morgan's guards had caught Black trying to scale the inner courtyard wall. But he did usually manage to pull off impossible jobs and might have succeeded this time had the moon not been full and the sky clear. The pale stone walls of Castle Blanche fairly glowed in moon light, making anyone trying to scale it's walls stand out like a dark smudge on a white cloth.
What Morgan didn't know was who had hired Black and what he'd been after. Morgan was a thoroughly boring noble of the northern realm. He had no secrets and was involved in no intrigues. Unless Jarod Black had tried to break in just for the challenge of being able to say he stole into Castle Blanche. Which he didn't. Morgan sighed, knowing that the source of any answers was laying injured at his feet. He nodded to his seneschal to call the man closer.
"Have him brought in to the solar and send for the healer."
"Is that wise, milord?" Albie asked nervously. Morgan eyed the stooped, elderly man who had served his father and his father's father before that. The man was a capable caretaker of the castle but had never been overly bold.
"Do you know what he was after?" he asked.
"Ah, no, milord. I can't say as I do," Albie said shaking his head.
"Neither do I," Morgan replied. He nudged the thief's prone form with the side of his booted foot. "But he does. It might be easier to get it out of him if he's alive, don't you think?"
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Blog hop winners! As you may or may not know, I participated in the Snarkology Blog Hop both here and with my writting group on ShapeShifter Seductions, so I have two winners to announce. Eva Millien was the winning commenter here. Eva, check your e-mail. The commenter who won a copy of my back list on ShapeShifter Seductions was Jean MP, who didn't leave an e-mail address. Jean, I sent you a chat on Blogger with my e-mail address. Shoot me an e-mail to claim your prize, or leave a comment here.
Next bit of random news, "Catching the Hunter" is now live on Amazon.com. It's also on sale, so at the moment, you can pick up both my second and third books for $3.19, or 20% off. Here's the shorty link to Amazon's page. (Because the long link was freaking HUGE!) http://tinyurl.com/kd5p2fk
Last bit of news, I finally picked what I'm going to submit next: a menage werewolf/darkling story about a young noble woman who is not interested in being a "lady" and so buys a werewolf pack in order to set herself up a person of power in her own right. I'm doing the polishing on it now and should be ready to submit it soon. Cross your fingers!
And last but not least, an exerpt from "Catching the Hunter"
* * * * *
“Where are we?” Sorsha asked uncertainly, drawn out of her thoughts by curiosity when he led her toward a side branch of the castle complex. “I thought you were going to a bathhouse.” The hunt lord turned back and smiled at her mischievously, his sapphire blue eyes glowing. Her breath caught in her chest. It was inconceivable that one as scary as this buck should be so sexy.
“Eddie calls this the kennel. It’s a seldom used barracks off the side of House Argental,” he replied as he offered her his arm. She was about to refuse him until she saw that there were no steps leading to the elevated lava tube. This stupid servant dress wouldn’t allow her to jump the two foot distance, so she accepted.
“Who is Eddie?” she asked. Sorsha was beginning to feel like a fool for all her questions, but he never seemed to offer information without prompting. She was probably lucky he was answering at all. Her brother was a good example of a male who never felt the need to explain himself.
“The houndsman who thinks a bog-zobber pen is a suitable holding cell for traitors,” the shifter lord answered with a playful wink. She shook her head. Story after story told how hard and vicious the wild lords of the hunt were. How uncivilized, inhospitable, and surly they could be. This one was none of those things. He actually seemed to have a deliciously wicked sense of humor. She was beginning to wish she’d met him under other circumstances.
“Does he by chance have red hair?” she asked, sensing a theme.
“He does,” he agreed. “Met him, have you?”
“And…um…who are—I mean I should have asked already. The hum—I mean, Eddie—he said you sometimes were called—”
“I’m called Conchobar by many. You may call me Connor,” he cut in. She blushed at the wry twinkle in his eye. “And you are called?”
“Um, Sorsha. Of the Darach clan,” she replied shyly.
“Pleased to meet you, Sorsha of the Darach clan. This”—he paused, waving his arm—“is my home away from home. Or at least where I stay when I’m in Bhaithcreig.”
“I guess I never thought about wild lords staying in a city,” she admitted. “It doesn’t fit with the image of a powerful shifter who prefers to roam the forests of Annwn as a wolf.” He rewarded her observation with an amused snigger.
“We do prefer to roam the forests of Annwn. But we also have duties which bring us here from time to time now that the high lord resides here.”
He paused outside a rough opening and waved her ahead of him. Sorsha slipped around him through the low entrance into a steamy cavern. Her cautious curiosity gave way to awe. The cavern was completely unimproved and had a good sized hot spring filling most of the available floor space. Clouds of rolling steam swirled invitingly, obscuring most of the chamber. For a doe born and raised in the chilly forests of the northwest, it was a dream come true, a hot bath big enough to get lost in.
Connor slipped in beside her as she stood there gawking like a fool. Her attention was drawn back to him when he began undressing. She had to remind herself to breathe as he unfastened his tartan, folding it as he took it off. Without the yards of black wool in the way, she got an excellent view of his muscular buttock, still covered by the thin leather of his kilt.
“Wh–what are you doing?” she stammered as he bent over to unfasten the ties on his boots, presenting her with a spectacular view of his heavenly rear. He looked back at her from under his arm, a sexy smirk lifting one side of his mouth.
“I don’t usually bathe in my clothes,” he purred.“Oh!” she exclaimed self-consciously. “Right. Bath and a feeding.” She tried to ignore the sensual thrill at the mental image of him feeding from her while they bathed, then realized she was allowed to enjoy this.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Happy Halloween! I have for you a short story about screwing up and finding hope. Enjoy! And don't forget to enter the raffle-copter at the end for a chance to win the grand prize, a $60 gift card to Amazon.com!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Price of Freedom
The baying of hounds in the distance rang through the silence of the frozen forest belonging to the winter fae. Not that Donnella needed the warning—she knew what was after her. She pawed futilely at the faint glow of the tracker’s mark on her chest, sobbing as she tripped over an unseen obstacle on the path. She looked back the direction she had come and thought she saw a hound cresting the hill. She looked around wildly for cover of some kind. There wasn’t much but she did see particularly large dead oak leaning over the road that might slow the hounds of hell. She scrambled up it and pressed her body into the trunk, hoping she might confuse her pursuers by muffling the magic beacon on her chest. She held out no real hope for the ploy, though. A person did not outsmart grimm hounds. They outran them or they died.
Grimm hounds were the stuff of nightmares. They were huge black spectral dogs with glowing red eyes and were said to feed on the dead and the dying. Legend held that they had been created to guard holy sites but the elfin black lords used them to hunt fugitives. Donnella peeked over her shoulder and saw the whole pack, at least fifty hellish beasts, cresting the hill. She buried her face in her shoulder to muffle her cry of terror but could not bring herself to look away. Her urge to scream grew exponentially when she saw who was running the pack.
“No,” she whimpered. “No-no-no-no-no! It can’t be; he’s dead!”
The black stallion the houndsman rode had glowing red eyes like the hounds. Its hooves were striking sparks against the cobbles as it ran after the baying hounds. Billowing clouds of steam pumped from its withers and muzzle as the stallion’s sweat evaporated in the cold night air.
It was the rider that was the true horror. Deathly pale skin, shocking red hair… ruined, once hansom face. His eyes glowed, too, though with the blue of human magic rather than the red of necromantic power. Even from this distance, she could make out his features clearly because the power leaking from his ruined eyes was dribbling down his face like horrible tears, pooling in the seams of scar tissue before being whipped away by the speed of his charge.
Why wasn’t he dead?
Donnella ducked her face, pressing hard against the rough bark of the oak she clung to. She didn’t want to see the proof of her crimes but the nightmarish rider’s presence so close to his enemy’s castle beguiled her. Maybe it wasn’t really him.
She peered under her arm at the pack, now milling beneath her tree, and stifled another whimper. The rider was urging his mount into the roiling of mass of black bodies and glowing eyes. The hounds turned their dreadful gazes to their master adoringly. He patted a head here scratched an ear there as his mount picked its way closer through the pony-sized monsters.
She had gotten away from those hunting her one last time and made for the lands of the winter fae. The King of Winter had approached her with the plan to put herself on the throne of the forest elves. He had trained her in the art of assassination, given her spells to killer her targets. Surly he would offer her asylum if she could just get to his fortress. She had killed both elfin trackers and the houndsman so no one would be able to follow her, or she had thought she killed them.
The first three curses she’d used had worked as promised. But the forth one failed to kill its target. The houndsman had been the fifth person she used the spell on and he wasn’t dead, so the trackers probably weren’t dead, either. Everything had gone wrong and she didn’t know why.
“Are you going to make me come up there and get you?” the houndsman’s voice rasped from his ruined throat far below her. “Or are you going to pretend that if you don’t see me, I won’t see you?”
Donnella looked out over the tops of the wasted trees. In the distance, she could see the glow of the winter king’s stronghold. It was no more than an hour’s walk, she guessed. So close.
But not close enough.
* * * * *
There had been a time when not getting her way had been the worst thing Donnella could think of happening to her. She knew better now. She knew a lot of things now that she wished she didn't.
She now knew that nothing made her nose itch worse than not being able to scratch it.
She now knew that being beautiful was not a license to behave badly.
She now knew that some crimes were inexcusable no matter the reason they were committed. And that it wasn't for her to decide if the reason was valid, at least not after the fact.
She also now knew that nobility by birth would not save her from paying the price of those crimes.
There were worse things than not getting her way. Oh, yes there were. There were worse things than death, too. Death would have been a fresh start, and that was not what those who'd judged her crimes had wanted.
Having her immortal spirit bound to a keeper stone so that she would be trapped in her body as it was slowly turned to stone was much worse than death. She couldn't bring herself to be angry about her situation--she'd earned it. This wasn't to say that she liked being the grotto, but she understood and begrudgingly agreed that she had earned her place here.
The grotto, as it was called, had no proper name. It wasn't a graveyard, exactly, but rather a collection of stone figures that had once been elves. Like her, all of them had done the unthinkable and betrayed their people. Also like her, their souls had been bound to their bodies before they were enchanted to turn to stone. It really wasn't a good idea to anger the Black Lords of Argental or their high prince, Nuada. He was very imaginative when it came to punishment but not very forgiving when it came to traitors.
Unlike her, most of them had not gone quietly into their punishment. She'd seen some pretty horrible visages as she was led into the fabled, underground cave. It hadn't been pretty. Despite her mounting terror, she had made a point of standing quietly so she wouldn't be stuck looking like a nightmare for all eternity.
Another thing she hadn't known, or rather hadn't believed, was that in the dark of night, you could still hear the screams of those entombed in their own bodies. It had taken only moments to be frozen in time but weeks to turn to stone. Every night as she stood there slowly petrifying, she heard the screams.
Once fully petrified, she discovered that she could hear them all the time, only they weren't screaming but rather muttering, sometimes to each other and sometimes to no one she could identify. She suspected some of them were muttering to her, but she did her best to ignore them, so she wasn't sure.
The only time the muttering stopped was when he was there. Lord Nuada, the blackest of the black lords, the oldest black elf still living, the high prince of Argental. The one who had carried out her sentence. The others got quiet when he walked in, which is how she knew he visited at all. She was too lost in her grief to notice on her own.
He was here now, in fact. Standing in front of her, staring at her as if she was something he was trying to understand. She was trying desperately to ignore him. It was easier to tolerate her punishment if she didn't surface from her stupor. Easier to ignore the hate filled mutterings of her fellow damned. He wasn’t going to let her ignore him, though.
"You are very quiet, my lady," he said eventually. "Have you nothing to say?"
She sighed and wished yet again for him to just leave her alone.
"That's really not an answer," he murmured. Donnella flinched at his words, at the magical compulsion hidden within them.
"Go away, ancient one," she muttered. Yes, muttered, just like every other damned soul lock down here.
"I was wondering why you don't scream like the others," he replied, sounding confounded.
"Are you here to make me scream?" she asked sarcastically. There was no doubt in her mind that he could do it, even with her body turned to stone. Maybe that's why the others all screamed. Some of them had been here locked inside a granite hell long before the seven-thousand year old Nuada was born. Surely they would have shut up by now unless they were egged on.
"No," was all he replied. He stood there looking at her for a good long while before speaking again. "How would you like to leave this place?"
"Why?" she shot back. "Looking for a bit of statuary for your sitting room? And here am I, poor stupid Donnella, to pitiful to even bitch about my lot. I'd be a nice silent addition to your upstairs collection."
"I am not a patron of the arts, also," he said, smirking. She couldn't see him, of course--she didn't have eyes to see with any more than she had a nose to scratch--but she could tell.
"Go away, ancient one," she said again. "I doubt I would want to pay the price you are asking."
"You sound as if you think there is something worse than your current situation," he said.
"Of course there is," she snapped. "I earned my punishment and I accept it. But I've also learned that just because you can't think of something worse, it doesn't mean there isn't something worse."
"Wise words," he conceded. She felt his presence wane until it was gone. The muttering didn't start up again, though, not for a long while.
Eventually, he came back, staring at her like before. She didn't know how long it had been since his last visit. Days. Weeks. Maybe even months.
"Have you thought about our last conversation?" he murmured quietly.
"Go away, ancient one," she replied. She swore she wasn't going to talk to him this time. He had destroyed her inner reflexion with his uncomfortable words the last time he’d spoken to her. That was probably how he made the others scream, by taunting them with hope. Hope should never be used as a weapon. That was yet another thing she now knew.
Just then, she heard a new sound, the plop of a drop of water slapping stone. The sound was strangely comforting.
"Have you ever heard of true companion stones?" he asked, ignoring her request that he leave. She tried to ignore him but failed. She did manage to fight off his compulsion to speak, though. That was something.
He stood there studying her and she stood there fiercely listening to the drip-drip-drip of water.
He eventually left.
Donnella had discovered that she could tell the passage of time after a fashion by the dripping of that water. She didn't have a reference for what it meant but it seemed to her that sometimes the water dripped harder than at others. It was quite rhythmic and soothing, much more enjoyable than curling in a mental ball and rocking herself to sleep, though she still did that on occasion, too.
He came again, of course. This time, instead of talking to her, he just stared at her. He felt sad, somehow. She wasn't sure how she knew that; only that she did.
Three more times he came and stared at her before talking again.
"Why do you cry?" he asked. She ignored this question, too. She wasn't going to let him drive her insane. She had eternity to suffer in this state and she had no intention of doing so while screaming and muttering in the dark.
Eventually he left.
He didn't visit again for a long while. She knew this because she had discovered that the drip-drip-drip grew heavier as day wore into night, hitting its crescendo just before the dawn and dissipating with first light. It took a while for her to realize this, since she had no way to gage the passage of time. She also realized that she no longer heard the others muttering.
"When did you move me?" she asked him when next he came.
"How did you know you'd been moved?" he responded, sounding a bit shocked that she was aware of it but also intrigued.
"I can tell day from night now," she said simply. “And I can’t hear the others screaming. I dount they suddenly shut up after all this time, so you must have moved me.”
"Interesting," he replied. "To answer your question, I moved you after you started crying."
"I'm a lump of rock," she said bitterly. "Rock does not cry."
"And yet," he said. She gasped when she felt his hand brush across her cold, stony cheek. There was a pause in the cadence of the drips. Bloody hell! she thought. The dripping was the sound of tears! Her tears!
The cadence picked up, running almost as fast as right before the dawn as that realization sunk in. She half laughed and half sobbed.
"Perhaps rock needs to be truly pathetic to cry, then," she conceded.
"Why do you cry?" he asked, mirroring his long ago question. She didn't answer. Eventually, he went away.
He came back fairly quickly this time and he stayed for quite some time, too, at least two full days, watching her as she stood there in her granite prison, crying. He said nothing the whole time but when he left this time, he left her a torch.
"So the night won't be so dark ," he murmured.
She stood there, watching the torch flicker softly, entranced. It didn't occur to her to wonder how she could see it, only that she was no longer in the dark.
* * * *
I hope you like my little tale. If you'd like to learn how Donnella ended up in this little scrape, check out my e-book series, The wild Lords. There are two novellas and one full novel. The links are in the side bar. Also, I'm giving away a free copy of my first Wild Lords story, "The Hawk's Bride," to one random commenter. Have a safe and spooky holiday!
Follow the hop! (The links are bellow)
Follow the hop! (The links are bellow)
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