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Dec. 22nd, 2020

Imprisonment. Slavery. War. Love. Historical adventure speculative fiction & suspenseful lgbtq novels: duskpeterson.com


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WORDAGE PROGRESS METERS FOR 2018


Progress meters courtesy of Rikki A. Hyperion.


New stories composed


11654 / 240000 (4.86%)


New stories issued


30358 / 240000 (12.65%)


Older stories posted online


24495 / 240000 (10.21%)

May. 7th, 2018

I could use lots of good wishes (or prayers, if you pray) sent my way

My lone (disabled) self has two weeks in which to pack into air-tight containers and bags virtually all the contents of our extremely cluttered 1200-square-foot apartment, so that they can be moved into storage for a year. "Everything needs to be off the floor, and out of drawers and shelves and closets," said the exterminator guy. "Everything" includes several thousand books, dozens of large boxes constituting Joe's fabric art collection, and two hundred (cardboard) boxes filled with my family papers.

And those bedbugs? All 1M+ of them? (Real number; I did the math.) They're all competing to drink my blood. It's like living with one million miniature vampires. I don't think I've ever been so heavily courted in my life.

May. 2nd, 2018

May 2018 round-up: New YA e-book, new fantasy series cycle, & expanded Eternal Dungeon omnibus

*

NEW E-BOOK: Danger (Dark Light, Volume 3)

"'It's like being a servant,' he added, seeing that Frank still didn't understand. 'Masters are born masters; servants are born servants.'"

Soon after they were born, they were tattooed with the signs of their ranks: master or servant. Now, in the time between past and future, the youths of the Midcoast nations find themselves in predicaments and even high danger. Unable to flee their troubles, they face a thick, unyielding barrier . . . until the power of friendship breaks through.

This third volume of the award-winning book bundle series Dark Light collects interlinked stories from Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of diverse alternate history series (The Eternal Dungeon, Dungeon Guards, Life Prison, Commando, Michael's House, Waterman, Young Toughs, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as in a future that never existed, the stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.
 

VOLUME CONTENTS

Survival School (Young Toughs). Arrested for a crime he doesn't regret, Bat ends up handcuffed to a group of fellow city boys and sent on a long journey into the countryside. He know that he is being transported to a prison for delinquent servant boys, but what form will his imprisonment take? (Full blurb.)

Sweeping Day (Young Toughs). It's sweeping day again, and her task seems straightforward: clean the dirt in her master's study and leave. But Sally's master is no ordinary master, and Sally's sweeping could be the trigger for war. Finding herself in a dangerous trap, Sally must draw upon the wisdom of her allies in the servants' kitchen before disaster strikes.

Emancipation (Life Prison). Sling knows that his life's work has already been determined: he is to be a house slave, serving his master's son. But secret meetings in hidden places with his master's son make Sling uncertain of what will happen next. When news arrives of a proclamation that will allow Sling to leave his hated master, Sling faces a difficult choice: whether to flee to safety or to stay and face the dangers of an unknown future. (Full blurb.)

Far Enough Away (Young Toughs). For two years, since his parents left for the west coast of the continent, Phillip has lived in a mountain home, as far as he can get from society. But when the loss of his beloved companion forces him out of his refuge, he finds that the world is on the cusp of change. And he may be one of the few people left who is able to outrace that change. (Full blurb.)

New Day (Young Toughs). Kit has reached her apprenticeship birthday and is on a path to inherit power. But what sort of power will she wield? (Full blurb.)

Queue (Young Toughs). What should a young servant do when his employer may fire him at any moment, his employer's beautiful daughter is absorbed with her high school textbook ("How to be Firm with Servants"), and he's blocked from carrying out a simple task by a snooty cyborg?

AI  (Young Toughs). Tripp has two friends in high school: a rebel without a cause, and a girl fighting the social restraints upon her. But only one human being has any real hope of understanding Tripp, and he isn't human at all.

Available as a multiformat e-book: Danger (Dark Light).


Excerpt

"Well, I've surely been schooled."

Having said this, Bat tossed another shovelful of dirt to the side and paused to wipe his brow free of sweat. The midsummer morning was clear, with not a cloud in the sky to provide them with shade. The trench they were digging remained too shallow at this point to throw shadows.

"Oh my blessed, you're right about that." Frank took up the refrain as his pickaxe chiselled another rock. "When I get my first job out there, and the master asks me what schooling I received here, I'll say, 'Why, sir, I was learned to break rocks.'"

Frank rarely voiced bitterness; that he did so now was a sign of how exhausted the boys were. Bat looked wearily over at the pails of water that Trusty had taken care to place near the boys. The water would last till sunset. He wasn't sure he would.

Bending down to scoop up a bucket of mud, Emmanuel said, "Might as well be in the Men's Penitentiary. Makes no difference to the work we do."

"Two thousand nine hundred feet long," Joe added as he reached down to lift Frank's broken rock into the wheelbarrow. "That's what the Super said the tunnel will be. Two thousand nine hundred feet times seventeen feet is—"

"Stop showing off." Emmanuel took a halfhearted swipe at him, then turned and shouted, "Hoi! Leave him alone!"

Bat turned to look. White-faced as he struggled to push another wheelbarrow full of dirt and mud and rock up the incline to the campus lawn, Mordecai was being blocked by one of the boys who worked in the main dormitory of Family Cottage Trustworthy – the "Big Dorm," as everyone called it now. Several of the other boys, who were assigned to take charge of the wheelbarrow once Mordecai reached the lawn, were laughing at the young boy's efforts to get past the barrier.

"We got to come over there and paste you?" demanded Joe.

Bat looked uneasily at where Trusty stood on the lawn. The young man was deep in conversation with the Superintendent, but it was unlikely he had missed hearing Joe's threat. For now, though, he seemed contented to let the quarrelling boys settle themselves.

The boys in the Big Dorm looked inclined to fight, if only to defend their honor, but at that moment Slow, with impeccable timing, returned from using the toilet in their cottage. He took one look at Mordecai and said, "Aw, that's too heavy for you. Let me help. We better help, right?" He turned toward the boys who had been teasing Mordecai. "Because we're big and he's little."

With the situation voiced in that stark fashion, the boys of the Big Dorm shrugged and moved forward to relieve Mordecai of the wheelbarrow. As they did so, Mordecai began to fall to his knees. Slow caught him and carefully escorted him back to where another packed wheelbarrow awaited him.

The boys of the Big Dorm took a second look at the small group digging the trench for the steam pipes, then evidently decided not to pursue the matter further. It was well known by now that the boys in the Little Dorm – as they'd been dubbed – were close pals who always protected one another. Separated at night from the other boys of Family Cottage Trustworthy, they formed their own little community, like a family within a family.

Bat watched Mordecai with concern as the young boy paused to lean against a boulder, panting. His legs were shaking. Joe, however, had turned his attention back to the work at hand. He said, "We got Comrade Carruthers to thank for this, you know. He gave the money for the steam plant."

Restored to his usual good humor by the pause in labor, Frank said, "At least we won't be cold at night."

"I'd never let you get cold, honey boy." Joe flung this observation over his shoulder as he bent down to scoop up more mud.

Emmanuel gave a snort then, and Bat and Slow exchanged smiles. Everyone in the Little Dorm knew that Joe had taken to sneaking into Frank's bed after lights were out. Even Trusty knew, because he'd caught them sleeping peacefully together one morning. Since it was clear that both boys were where they wanted to be, and since they were both fully clothed in their underwear, Trusty had confined himself to telling them that they'd best not take the matter any further than they had, or they'd be in trouble with the Night Watchman.

He had left them in an agony of curiosity as to what happened "further."

Bat had been amused. One week, not long before he was arrested, a childhood playmate of his had invited him to tea with her mother. The mother had proceeded to explain to him – with drawings, no less – what constituted "further" when it came to boys and girls, with an added explanation that he mustn't go too far with any girl he wasn't marrying. Then she had shooed them out of the room, saying, "Bat, you can go to Sally's bedroom now. I'm sure you two want to play." And they had.

Now, leaning against his shovel, Bat spared a thought of regret for Sally. She was so pretty that she'd likely be married by the time he got out of prison. In the meantime . . . His gaze wandered over to Emmanuel, who had removed his jacket and shirt to work, revealing from his physique that he was well on his way to manhood. Bat figured that, if he turned up at Emmanuel's bedside one night, Emmanuel would likely invite him under the sheets, in his easygoing fashion. They could go a lot further than Joe and Frank had. Bat knew by now that such arrangements were common in the House of Transformation, though always risky in family cottages not placed under Trusty's benevolent rule. The Superintendent, a widower who had no doubt served his liege-master in bed during his youth, had taken it into his head that the inmates' bed-play was "filthy."

Bat forced his weary limbs back to work. He liked Emmanuel, as he liked all the boys in the Little Dorm, but he had no interest in establishing the sorts of ties that might bind him here when the time came for him to leave. He'd declared that to Trusty on the first day, and he hadn't changed his mind since then. This place was a prison, not a home; he'd wait till he was out of here before joining himself with anyone else in love. . . .
 

Available as a multiformat e-book: Danger (Dark Light).



*

NEW SERIES CYCLE: Chronicles of the Great Peninsula

Here's the full cycle, with my commentary in between.

The Three Lands. He vowed himself to his god. Now the god is growing impatient . . . ¶ The Three Lands is a diverse fantasy series on friendship, romantic friendship, romance, and betrayal in times of war and peace. The series is inspired by conflicts between nations during the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages.
 

This is the originating series of the cycle.


Chesapeake Sword. One of their worlds can't possibly exist. The problem is figuring out which one. ¶ Chesapeake Sword is a diverse fantasy romance series about travel between different times on parallel worlds.
 

Romance! Parallel-worlds travel! My own hometown! I decided to have fun with this series. The first story of the first volume is completed and scheduled for publication.


The Thousand Nations. In a shattered world of warriors and barbarisms, only the deepest ties of friendship and romance can protect them. That, and a god they may not wish to trust. ¶ The Thousand Nations is a diverse fantasy series presenting an alternative timeline for the people of the Great Peninsula.
 

Oh, man, I got crazy with this one: I wrote an alternate history to my own series. This series provides an alternative timeline to The Three Lands, branching off from just before the final years of the novella Bard of Pain (which, as those of you who have read the novella know, gets pretty harried toward the end). The first story of the first volume is completed and scheduled for publication.


Darkling Plain. Separated in time and place, these young women and young men are united in their goal: to protect those they care for from the destruction of battle. The odds are against them. ¶ Darkling Plain is a collection of fantasy tales about young people in times of conflict, set beyond the waterfall at the world's end.
 

Long-time readers will recognize this as one of my oldest series. For a while now, I've been musing that these stories might well be taking place in the same world as The Three Lands, in parts of the world that the inhabitants of the Great Peninsula don't know about. (That world is so filled with mountains, deserts, ice, and untraversed oceans that the inhabitants don't seem to be very well acquainted with each other.) I've now made that connection official. I've also incorporated the Princeling tales into Darkling Plain.


Blade Tales. Blades of metal are not as powerful as blades of companionship. ¶ Blade Tales presents interlinked stories from Chronicles of the Great Peninsula.
 

This series plays the same role in the Chronicles of the Great Peninsula cycle as Dark Light does in the Turn-of-the-Century Toughs cycle: it allows me to bundle together new releases from the various series of the cycle. My next e-book will be a Blade Tales collection, Blood Brother. The collection will include a new Three Lands novella, set during the same period as Blood Vow and Law of Vengeance.


Chronicles of the Great Peninsula series resources.
 

No changes to the resources. I hope you enjoy the new cycle.



*

EXPANDED EDITION: The Eternal Dungeon

In the Queendom of Yclau lies an underground royal prison that embraces the worst of the past and the best of the future. The Eternal Dungeon is old-fashioned in its equipment and ahead of its time in its treatment of prisoners, seeking to put their best welfare above all else. Torture is part of the process of assisting the prisoners.

The High Seeker, Layle Smith, embodies this contradictory institution: a man of deadly impulses, the head torturer binds himself strictly by the dungeon's code of conduct. His efforts to maintain this delicate balance are altered, though, by the introduction into his life of Elsdon Taylor, a vulnerable prisoner who is coming to terms with his own darkness.

A winner of the 2011 Rainbow Awards, this 2018 edition of the book bundle is 600,000 words long, containing the five volumes of the Eternal Dungeon series.

Available as a multiformat book bundle: The Eternal Dungeon: a Turn-of-the-Century Toughs omnibus.
 
 


**

Upcoming fiction


WHAT I WROTE IN 2017

My word count was super in 2017, despite the fact that I barely got any writing done on four months out of the year. My final word count for last year was 259,075 (the equivalent of three novels). That's the highest amount I've written annually since 2003, when I wrote 276,175 words. And though I wasn't pursuing this goal, I established a new personal record for words per day: 11,919 words on June 15. (My daily average, you'll be relieved to hear, was a much more reasonable 2,816 words, not counting the days on which I didn't write.)

In 2017, I finished writing a couple of Three Lands novels that have been hanging around my hard drive since 1995: Death Mask (completed two hours before midnight on December 31st!) and Breached Boundaries. I also got a lot of writing done last year of another novel set in the Great Peninsula world, called Search for the Jackal; it's the first volume in the new Thousand Lands series.

And finally, I wrote four side stories in the Three Lands series. Three of those stories – Famine or Feast, Season of Dangerous Peace, and The Fire Before – are scheduled for an upcoming collection, while the other one I'm sending out to do the submission rounds at magazines.

You can take a gander at my full word count, as well as what stories I wrote and issued in 2017, at my word counts page. You'll see that I've added new annotations to the entries for earlier years.


PLANS FOR 2018

For financial reasons, I'm having to prioritize my submissions to magazines (both fiction and nonfiction). However, I'm putting aside an hour each day to work on my other fiction. I have so many finished stories on my hard drive at the moment that I have e-books scheduled through to next year. Upcoming releases include stories in Death Mask (The Three Lands), Breached Boundaries (The Three Lands), Swordsman by the Chesapeake Bay (Chesapeake Sword), Search for the Jackal (The Thousand Nations), Forge (The Eternal Dungeon), The Awakening (Dungeon Guards), and Hell's Messenger (Life Prison).

The way I'll be releasing stories is going to change. In the past, I've either published a full volume (which means that readers have to wait a long time to read the stories in that volume) or I've released each story in the volume as a separate e-book (which creates a heavy workload for me, since I always have a long queue of stories to publish). My new method will be to bundle together new stories from different series as volumes in my two collection series: Blade Tales (for Chronicles of the Great Peninsula stories) and Dark Light (for Turn-of-the-Century Toughs stories).

In other words, Blade Tales and Dark Light will be serving as book bundles for my new releases, with each volume publishing my latest stand-alone stories and novel serializations.

In addition, I'll continue to bring out volumes in other series. For example, I will first publish the stories in Breached Boundaries (The Three Lands) in Blade Tales volumes, alongside other stories in the Chronicles of the Great Peninsula cycle. Then, when all the Breached Boundaries stories have been published in Blade Tales, I'll bundle together the stories as a Three Lands volume, for the sake of later readers who would like to read all the Breached Boundaries stories in one e-book.

This is my compromise between having too much work on my plate and making readers wait too long for stories. I'm hoping (*cross fingers*) to be able to bring out at least one e-book every month.
 


NEWS

**

RAINBOW AWARDS

For the sixth time, the Rainbow Awards, a contest for LGBT literature, has honored one of my works. The latest Eternal Dungeon novel, Sweet Blood, received a honorable mention in the Rainbow Awards 2017. You can read the judges' comments.


INTERVIEWS & GUEST POST

I've recently been interviewed at Happily Ever After Romance Book Reviews (Glyn Plummer's blog) and at Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews. I also had a guest post A Literary Vacation (Elisabeth Storr's blog), where I reported on the research methods of historical novelists, including myself.


AUTHOR APPEARANCE

Thanks to a generous scholarship from Con.txt, I'll be attending this year's Con.txt slash fiction convention on July 27 at Arlington, Virginia (outside Washington, D.C.). Unless my plans change, I'll only be there Friday afternoon. I'm mainly there to rub elbows with other folks in the fan fiction community, so if you're going to be at the con too and would like to get together, let me know!


Authors Against DRM

SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES

I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that my e-books are available at three subscription e-book services: 24symbols, Playster, and Scribd. I receive excellent payments from all three services, so if you belong to any of those services, I encourage you to check out my e-books there.


*

WEBSITE CHANGES

I've locked down my online fiction. If you missed the pre-warning notice at my blog and would like copies of stories you've read by me in the past, just drop me an e-mail, telling me which format you read in (html, epub, mobi/Kindle, or pdf).

I've added a new section of tags to help readers find my stories of seasons and holidays.

Some kind soul has added a feed (i.e. mirror image) of my blog to LiveJournal. You can't post replies to my blog there, but if you want to read the feed on your reading page at LiveJournal, you can now do so.

I've updated my copyright page.
 


*

FEATURED BACKLIST TITLE: Noble (Darkling Plain: Princeling #1)

"Selig had placed me next to the fire, both as a way to emphasize my honor – what little honor I had left – and as a way to keep me from dying of a chill. He had made it more than clear during the past three years that he considered me a frail creature, incapable of enduring the hardened life of a soldier. But, then, his opinion was shared by all in the Tascanian Army."

He has lost his title, his work, and everyone's respect. That will be the easy part.

When Corbin is taken hostage by York, the King of Fossenvita, he refuses to surrender to the sadistic King's demands that would allow York to win the war between the world's two kingdoms. Only thus, Corbin believes, can he help the petties of Tascania, on whose behalf Tascanian nobles such as himself are fighting the Fossenvites. Rather than lose his honor, Corbin accepts York's "gift": a wounding that will prevent him from ever again fighting with his blade.

But Corbin lives in a world that has been at war for generations, in which only the nobles who command the battles and raids are considered to have honor. Stripped of his title and his ability to fight, Corbin begins to see that the petties alone may hold the answer of how he should live his life. Maimed as he is, though, Corbin cannot seek answers from the petties unless he receives the help of one man: York's son Firmin, who has warned Corbin that he will betray him.

Available as a multiformat e-book: Noble (Darkling Plain).


Excerpt

The frost on the ground crackled once more as the nobles around me hastened to reach their positions of appointed honor. Though I had not moved, Varick said to me in a low voice, "Stay where you are." Then he stepped a bare half-pace forward, leaving me close to his side, like a shadow that mirrors its original.

Selig, panting from haste and excitement, appeared at my left side, a mere alderman promoted to a position of higher honor purely for my sake. He reached over to my cloak again, but I had already remembered to sweep it back across my shoulders to show that I was unarmed but for the dagger no fighting man would ever strip himself of.

The horses arrived at the fireside at a war-gallop. A horse emitted one great squeal of protest; then its forefeet fell to the ground with a thump. York's great, bellowing laugh, like the rumble of dangerous thunder, filled the still night. Without thinking, I let my hand creep onto my dagger hilt; then I remembered where I was and quickly let go of the dagger, though I could be sure no one cared whether I was touching a weapon or not. Least of all York.

"You chose a cold night for this meeting, Varick," shouted York across the fire. He was still on his horse; his voice travelled above our heads like a dark cloud. "I can't say that I think much of your men's fire-making skills. Shall we see whether we can combine our efforts to make a better fire by throwing our torches into the flames?"

Below the renewed murmur of our nobles, Varick said, "A trick?"

I opened my mouth to reply, but realized in the next moment that he was not turning to me for advice.

"You may be sure of it." I could just hear Marlin's low voice on the right side of Varick. "But what the trick is, I don't know."

"There's only one way to find out." Varick raised his voice as he said, "If you find this soldiers' fire too tame for your comfort, York, we would certainly not want you and your men to suffer. Locke, Davin – add the torches to the fire."

There was a moment's pause as the torchbearers, who had been standing several paces back from Varick, made their way to the fire, trailing warmth and smoke as they went. York's sharp orders to his own torchbearers were followed by the thud of boots as the Fossenvite soldiers dismounted. Twenty men, York had been told to bring to this truce meeting; I heard Selig count in a whisper, then stop short of twenty, satisfied.

"King and Commander of Tascania," York said with firm formality as he came toward the fire, "I greet you in the name of my people, noble and petty alike, and I swear to you that, as long as we stand within the light of this truce fire, neither I nor my men shall touch our blades. I present unto you, as witnesses to my oath, Granville, Prince and Duke of the Long Fields; Ridley, Prince and Duke of the Grey Mountains; and Houghton, Prince and Duke of the Black Forest—"

"You were told to bring your sons." Varick's voice had just the right edge of coolness to it. He had learned since becoming King that York was only amused if his enemies stormed against his conniving.

"—and my younger son, Firmin, Prince and heir to my heir," York finished smoothly. "Lenwood is unfortunately unable to come tonight, as he is still recovering from an unexpected arm wound he received in last month's battle."

York did not even bother to emphasize the word "unexpected"; the implication was clear. The silence that followed was so deep that I could hear Marlin's quick, heavy breathing.

"As I informed you last month, York, Prince Marlin inflicted that wound by accident." Varick's voice was slow and deliberate. "But even if he had not, your son – either of your sons – deserves far worse than that. A debt remains to be paid."

"Certainly," York replied cheerfully. "We owe a member of the Tascanian royal family one arm wound – I think you will find that we have not inflicted such a wound on you or your brother this year – and you owe me or my sons. . . Well, let us just say that a large debt remains to be paid. That is, if you ever get near enough us to repay it. But you have not yet given me your oath, Varick, and this makes me exceedingly nervous."

He sounded anything but nervous. The wind was blowing from the north again, sending billowing clouds of smoke into my face and running icy fingers down my bare chest. I tried to pretend this was the only reason I was shivering, but I pulled my hands back to where York could not see that they were closed in fists. In the quiet voice he used when he was close to losing his temper, Varick repeated the time-honored words of the truce oath before adding, "I present unto you, as witnesses to my oath, Marlin, Prince and Duke of the Narrow Pass; Obert, Prince and Duke of the Lakelands; and Meaghar, Prince and Duke of the High Reaches. You already know my brother, Prince Corbin."

At his final words, Varick's voice turned colder than the wind. As for York, there was no mistaking the smile in his voice as he said, "Indeed, yes, we are well acquainted. And may I tell the Prince how good it is to see him looking so well these days."

"You may not," Varick said as sharply as a blade. "Kindly refrain from addressing my brother, York. You have said enough to him in the past."

"Certainly, Varick," replied York mildly. "You are the King and Commander of Tascania. I ought not to have addressed one of your subjects at such a meeting."

Beside me, Varick began to shake with anger. Though by this time I was feeling so ill that I was sure I must be green in the face, I quickly and unobtrusively reached out to touch Varick's back. I felt him tense himself into control once more.

He said flatly, "Corbin is not my subject, as you well know, York. That is a topic we will discuss at another time. For now, I wish to learn why you have recently kidnapped men from the Petty Partition. This is one of the first times in eighty years that either Fossenvite soldiers or Tascanian soldiers have abducted petties from that place, and so I desire to know whether you are unilaterally rewriting the Rules of War."

"Discard the Rules my own grandfather wrote?" York's voice remained light. "Those Rules will always be followed while I'm alive. I merely sent a few men in to bring home certain criminals who had fled to the Partition."

"That is the whole point of the Partition." Varick's voice remained neutral, without any of the sarcasm that would have accompanied this statement if it had been spoken by York. "It allows the petty people a place of refuge. No noble may enter the Partition—"

"The men I sent were not nobles."

"—nor may anyone drag a petty out of the Partition in order to hand him over to a noble," Varick concluded steadily. "You know the Rules as well as I do, York, since, as you say, your grandfather composed the Rules my great-grandfather agreed to. I repeat, why have you broken the Nineteenth Rule of War?"

York gave a chuckle, a deep chuckle that was louder than the sound of the flames crackling between the Fossenvites and the Tascanians. I felt the sickness force itself up my throat. To distract myself from thoughts of York, I concentrated my attention on the men around him. Underneath the fire's roar came the crackle of frost as the Fossenvites shifted slowly in their places. They were edging themselves closer to the border line that the truce fire marked; they were now within a few steps of our land.

I did not move my head, which had been turned in York's direction all this time, but my hand moved quickly out. Varick's hands, as I had expected, were crossed behind his back, in the stance that the King adopts when talking formally to other men. I tapped his wrist once, hard, in the signal that Janarius had taught both of us many years before.

Varick caught my hand as it began to slide away; he squeezed it once to show me he had understood my warning. York was saying, in a gentle voice which alone would have alerted me to the danger, "Perhaps I just wanted an excuse for us to get together and chat. It has been three years now since we last talked, has it not? And then, of course, you were not King, and so we were limited in what we could say to each other. Are you enjoying your reign, Varick? I confess that I don't see the same fire in you that existed in the previous King – but of course it is always hard to outperform the dead. I remember your predecessor telling me that his father had foretold he would be the one to end the war by leading the final victory charge—"

"York." Varick's voice could barely be heard above the snapping and popping of burning wood. I knew that he had only delayed this long in interrupting because he had been trying to determine the source of the danger. "Your men are coming too close to the border; I would appreciate it if you would halt their advance. Moreover, I see that you have not pulled back your cloak. Would you kindly do this so that we may be sure you are not sword-armed?"

"Certainly, Varick." York's light reply held so much amusement in it that I felt myself grow stiff with fear. Recalling my wits, I reached out to tap Varick's hand again . . . but in the same moment, Varick stepped forward. My hand met nothing but empty air.

Across the fire, York was saying in the delicate tone he used when making a rehearsed and deadly speech, "I promise you, Varick, I am concealing no forbidden weapons. See, I will take off my cloak altogether to assure you—"

I drew breath to speak, sensing there was little time left in which to attract Varick's attention, but at that moment my cheek was stung by the edge of York's cloak catching my skin. The cloak whooshed through the air as it passed me, and then there was silence, undisturbed even by the crackling of the fire.

Of all the unexpected things which happened that night, the most unexpected was this: I was the first man to guess what was about to happen. Perhaps this was because the others were recovering from the shock of being suddenly plunged into darkness. I, on the other hand, was still concentrating on the sounds around me, and in the next moment I heard the sound that all of us had feared would come: the hiss of metal.
 

Available as a multiformat e-book: Noble (Darkling Plain).


To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Apr. 17th, 2018

Last online serialization announcement at this blog!

News


While I'm going to finish keeping Death Mask and Hell's Messenger unlocked till I finish serializing them online, I've made the decision to no longer announce my Archive of Our Own fiction at this blog.

If you're a member of Tuesday Serial, rest assured I'll still announce the remaining chapters of Death Mask there.

If you're a member of Archive of Our Own, all that you need to do is click on the subscribe button on my AO3 profile to receive notices by email of my fic posts there. You'll also receive notices of any future stories I post at my AO3 account. If you're not a member of Archive of Our Own, you can easily join it for free. I have an invitation code that will allow you to skip the queue for new memberships; if you'd like the invitation, please email me.

I mentioned earlier that I was going to be locking down my online fiction (except for the current serializations, till they're complete). That will happen within the next week; if you're not a member of Archive of Our Own, be sure to download any stories of mine that you like there, before I lock them.

Basically, what I'm trying to do is draw a hard line between my online writing life and my professional writing life, so that I won't have financial conflicts between them (other than the obvious conflict of making my stories free at AO3, but I'm happy to do that - I owe the fanfic community tons, and so many fanfic folk are generous with their feedback). The easiest way to draw that hard line is to lock down all my AO3 fic and no longer link to my AO3 fic here or at my website.

E-books will still be announced at this blog. I have a long line of e-books scheduled for this year, with the next one coming out very soon. Plus, if I ever sell any stories to magazines (online or print), I'll announce them here.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Apr. 10th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 14/24. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 14/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Apr. 5th, 2018

Review: Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert

I'm posting this hastily, while NBC continues to show the rock opera on the web and on its app. Alternatively, you can watch the individual songs at YouTube or listen to the album, but this is definitely a video worth watching when it is eventually released.

Warning: References to biblical Christian figures )

Apr. 3rd, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 13/24. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 13/21.

News


News


I thought those of you who are reading "Death Mask" might like to see this exceedingly messy map of Koretia's Council Hall. I created it when I was writing the previous chapter.



*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Mar. 27th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 12/24. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 12/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Mar. 16th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 11/24. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 11/21.

News


An early update this week, because my reading eyes are going into their annual "It's late winter, so we're not going to function" snit.

(For those of you who need to catch up on my eye situation, I summarize it in a paragraph in this entry; skip down to "partial sightedness".)

With luck, my reading eyes will be back in a good mood by the time for the next update, but if not, you'll know why there's a delay.


*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Mar. 14th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 10/24. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 10/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Mar. 4th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 9/24. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 9/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Feb. 27th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 8/23. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 8/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Feb. 20th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask 7/23. Hell's Messenger 7/21. Plus, important news.

News


Some time next month, I'll be locking most of my online fiction so that it can only be accessed by members of Archive of Our Own. If you're not an AO3 member, you may wish to download now any stories you wish to reread in the future. (The download button is at the top of each story.) If you'd like to join AO3, you can get in the queue for an invite.

I will not be locking my current online serializations. However, once I'm finished serializing them, I'll lock them, a couple of weeks later. I'll provide notice that I'm going to do so, but if you miss the notice and would like a copy of the story you've been reading, just drop me a line.

My financial situation is quite serious, or I wouldn't be doing this. Most of the kudos and comments left on my stories come from AO3 members, so I hope this won't affect too many of you.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Feb. 14th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 6/23. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 6/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Feb. 4th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 5/23. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 5/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Jan. 29th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 4/23. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 4/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Jan. 22nd, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 3/23. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 3/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Jan. 17th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 2/23. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 2/21.

*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.




To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

Recommend me readings on pre-Islamic Middle Eastern history, Bedouins, & Middle Eastern Americans

"Stereotyping marginalised groups isn't satire. Satire speaks truth to power. Stereotypes pander to its prejudices."

--K. J. Charles.


I'm making a plea for reading recommendations, to supplement the book-gathering I've been doing on my own.

Those of you who've been following my Three Lands series know that my new hero mentioned below is going to have a problem the minute he arrives in modern-day USA: he looks Middle Eastern, and he abides by some traces of traditional Bedouin culture.

So I'm in desperate need of books or blogs that talk about the experience of being a Middle Eastern American today - specifically, the various ways in which other Americans react to Middle Eastern Americans. Can you folks recommend any?

I'm also looking for books or documentaries about the Bedouins in the past and present. Those books seem to be scarce; all the ones I've found so far are written by ethnographers or travellers.

Finally, I'm looking for books about the history of the pre-Islamic Middle East: original sources and history books. My hero is coming from a time period that approximates the late 5th / early 6th century CE (about the time of Arthurian Britain), but I'm a fan of ancient history, so any pre-Islamic Middle Eastern history would be fine.

In all of the above cases, bonus points if the books are written by authors who are Middle Eastern or ethnic Middle Eastern.

(I know that this talk of the Middle East is geographically broad, but all I know is that my hero's distant ancestors were desert nomads. He doesn't know any more than that. By the time my hero comes along, his people have been living in a setting akin to the northern Mediterranean - think Italy - for more than a millennia. So his whole culture is, within the context of the fantasy world, "Middle Eastern diaspora.")


WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT

I've started working on a parallel worlds travel romance - sort of like a time travel romance, except that it features travel between a fantasy world (the Three Lands world, as it happens) and our world. I hope to have the first story in that series out soon, as an e-book.

This will be my first heterosexual genre romance series (as opposed to heterosexual romances tucked into series that are mainly on other topics). Any tips from those of you who write heterosexual romance would be much appreciated. And if you readers have favorite heterosexual romance novels or authors, do tell!

Jan. 9th, 2018

Online serializations: Death Mask (The Three Lands) 1/23. Hell's Messenger (Life Prison) 1/21.

News


I hope you enjoyed your various holidays! I'm starting 2018 with new serializations from two series you'll remember from last year: The Three Lands and Life Prison.



*


Death Mask (The Three Lands)</b>



"I came here hoping you would give me an excuse to kill you, but now I can only feel pity for you – pity and horror."

For eighteen years, he has survived in an army unit where few soldiers live more than two or three years. Now he finds himself in circumstances where his life is a living hell. Will the soldier who defied death find that life is too great a challenge?

Soldiers, spies, slaves, rebels, assassins, gods, and men who set out to break him . . . The Lieutenant of the Border Mountain Patrol will learn that his greatest test is himself.




*


Hell's Messenger (Life Prison)



"'Death did not hold the name then that he holds now.'"

In Mip's most notorious life prison, Death appears in a strange disguise.

It had seemed for a while that the plan would work: a bold conspiracy by a group of idealistic prisoners and sympathetic guards to stop abuse at Mercy Prison. Then betrayal occurs, and Tyrrell finds himself in a new life prison, with new rules to be learned. No longer is he in a position of leadership; now he is surrounded by men who question his most fundamental values.

He has new allies as well: fellow prisoners who like what they see in him, a healer who refuses to accept current conditions, and guards who may or may not provide the help that the prisoners desperately need. But Hell's messenger, Death, visits Compassion Prison, keeping his face hidden until it is almost too late for Tyrrell to recognize his touch.





To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )

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