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Apr. 16th, 2017

Spy Hill (Commando)

Map of Fort Frederick (Compassion Life Prison) and countryside


"Fairview was the finest friend a man could have, and the finest battle-companion. I dared not risk doing anything that might break our friendship."

On a hot summer's day, on a high hill surrounded by the enemy, the best battle-companion can turn out to be the truth.

Rook and Fairview have worked alongside each other for years, first as officers in the navy, then as officers on a steamship, and finally as colonels in an invading army. Members of a nation where tiny differences in rank are considered all-important, the two men defy convention by treating each other as equals.

But now their life-long bond is about to meet its greatest strain, when they are ordered to seize and defend a hill whose landscape is unknown, in the company of soldiers who may be incompetent or treacherous. Will Rook and Fairview's friendship remain by the end of the battle? Or will their lives take an unexpected detour as they struggle to survive on Spy Hill?

This story will be serialized online weekly.

This week's serialized fiction: Split 2/9

*


"The High Seeker surely could not know in full what Vito was thinking and planning. If he'd known, he'd have ordered Vito strapped to a rack."

It was his duty to transform the prisoner's soul. But which one?

When Vito de Vere is assigned a prisoner who is not quite what he appears to be, Vito must penetrate the mystery of his prisoner's unexpected appearance in the Eternal Dungeon, arrested for a crime that is no crime.

But Vito himself is hiding a mystery from the other members of the dungeon. Increasingly filled with tenderness toward his vulnerable prisoner, can Vito accomplish his secret mission without sacrificing his prisoner?

Apr. 11th, 2017

Split (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #3)

*


"The High Seeker surely could not know in full what Vito was thinking and planning. If he'd known, he'd have ordered Vito strapped to a rack."

It was his duty to transform the prisoner's soul. But which one?

When Vito de Vere is assigned a prisoner who is not quite what he appears to be, Vito must penetrate the mystery of his prisoner's unexpected appearance in the Eternal Dungeon, arrested for a crime that is no crime.

But Vito himself is hiding a mystery from the other members of the dungeon. Increasingly filled with tenderness toward his vulnerable prisoner, can Vito accomplish his secret mission without sacrificing his prisoner?


I'm in need of beta readers again

With the editing system I've had in place for the last few years, I've had good luck in catching language errors: typos, spelling/grammar mistakes, stylistic problems, etc. However, I continue to need help with story content issues, especially story continuity - that is, making sure that names/dates/facts/etc. don't suddenly warp into something different partway through a story or a series. (The classic example I mention in my website is me giving a character blue eyes in scene one and green eyes in scene two.) That sort of problem is darned hard for me to catch. I once had to pull a story from its submission rounds because I belatedly realized I'd put a character in it who had been dead for three centuries by the time the story began.

I realize that most of you haven't read all my stories within a single series (though if you have, bonus points), and some of you haven't read my stories at all. But even having someone catch the continuity errors within a single story would be valuable to me. If you could keep your eye out for any other content issues (such as insufficient character motivation), that would be helpful to me as well.

Here's the stories for which I'm in need of beta readers for content issues, by order of priority. If you're interested, please email me.

Boilerplate warning for all my stories. Do let me know of topics you wish to avoid.


Emancipation (Life Prison) )
Truth and Trust (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #5) )
The Awakening (Dungeon Guards) )
Initiation (Life Prison: Hell's Messenger #3) )
Breached Boundaries (The Three Lands) )
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Welcome to my Friends from LiveJournal

If you're here because I'm no longer posting at LiveJournal, welcome! Make yourself at home.

(If you're a Dreamwidth person, you may have missed this fuss. So I'll repeat what I said there: If you haven't already done so, download stories you like at LiveJournal. A lot of LJ users are deleting their accounts, and though I haven't checked, some LJ communities may shut down too.)
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Apr. 2nd, 2017

Bard of Pain (The Three Lands) | #fic #fantasy

*


"The beginning of the end for him (or so it seemed at the time) came in the moment that he stepped into the shadow of Capital Mountain and was assaulted by a stranger."

In the battle-weary lands of the Great Peninsula, only one fate is worse than being taken prisoner by the Lieutenant: being taken prisoner if you are the Lieutenant.

As the world's most skilled torturer struggles with his change of fortune, he finds that his fate is intertwined with the destinies of an idealistic army commander, an affectionate prisoner, and a protégé who reveres the Lieutenant's art . . . but is on the wrong side of the conflict.


Read online or download as a free e-book: Bard of Pain (The Three Lands).

Mar. 26th, 2017

Daily life: Wordage galore! | #writerslife #wordcount

"In April 1870, a twenty-eight-year-old [William] James made a cautionary note to himself in his diary. 'Recollect,' he wrote, 'that only when habits of order are formed can we advance to really interesting fields of action - and consequently accumulate grain on grain of wilful choice like a very miser - never forgetting how one link dropped undoes an indefinite number.' The importance of forming such 'habits of order' later became one of James's great subjects as a psychologist. In one of the lectures he delivered to teachers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1892 - and eventually incorporated into his book Psychology: A Briefer Course - James argued that the 'great thing' in education is to 'make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.'

The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation.


"James was writing from personal experience - the hypothetical sufferer is, in fact, a thinly disguised description of himself. For James kept no regular schedule, was chronically indecisive, and lived a disorderly, unsettled life. As Robert D. Richardson wrote in his 2006 biography, 'James on habit, then, is not the smug advice of some martinet, but the too-late-learned too-little-self-knowing, pathetically earnest, hard-won crumbs of practical advice offered by a man who really had no habits - or who lacked the habits he most needed, having only the habit of having no habits - and whose life was itself a "buzzing blooming confusion" that was never really under control.'"

--Mason Currey: Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work. (Alternative subtitle: How Artists Work.]


Writing )
Everything else )
Reading )
Finances )

Searching (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #2) | #althist #freeread

A dried wreath of flowers


"Vito was beginning to wonder whether this dungeon's prisoners were questioned in pitch darkness. That was a matter of some personal concern to him."

Walking into a trap may be the only way to create one.

Danger runs high for Vito when he arrives at the Eternal Dungeon, escorted by guards. In this royal dungeon, prisoners are "searched" for their crimes, by torture and by more subtle means.

Vito knows that he will be searched. But he has his own searching to accomplish, and to do so he must undergo the scrutiny of the queendom's most accomplished torturer.

Read online or download as a free e-book: Searching (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #2).


My bio )

Mar. 19th, 2017

I need help with content ratings on violence for fiction

I'm refining my content ratings at Archive of Our Own (AO3), and I'm also going to start posting at Wattpad.

Here's Wattpad's guide to content ratings. AO3 doesn't offer guidance on what its ratings mean; they simply say, "This is left to the creator's judgment."

Here's my problem: I watch virtually no television or movies, and what I watch isn't very violent. (I think the most violent movie I ever saw is the one that gave rise to the PG-13 rating.) Most of what I read is pre-1980 literature, mainly children's fiction. As a result, I don't have a good sense of what current violence ratings mean. (I think I have a decent handle on sex ratings.) In particular, I don't know the difference between these categories:

* Intense violence.

* Nongraphic violence.

* Graphic violence.

Since I write a lot of fiction on captivity or on war, I really need to understand the difference between these three categories. Can anyone help?

(If you know my stories, maybe you could give those as examples. If not, other examples of literary violence would help.)
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New-Fashioned (The Eternal Dungeon) | #sff #freeread

A dried wreath of flowers


"Layle had spent most of the afternoon attempting to figure out how to revise the Code in a manner that was unlikely to draw the wrong sort of attention from the High Torturer."

The Eternal Dungeon's youngest torturer has a special talent. He's about to discover what it is, at the worst of moments.

Read online or download as a free e-book: New-Fashioned (The Eternal Dungeon:).


My bio )

Mar. 12th, 2017

Green Ruin (The Eternal Dungeon) | #althistory #freeread

A dried wreath of flowers


"During the dawn hours at the Eternal Dungeon, as the day shift yawned itself awake and the night shift yawned itself to bed, the talk turned, as it always did, to the injustices of being a guard."

Three guards and a mysterious substance provide a temptation too great to be missed . . . especially when two torturers add their skills to the mix.

Soon three very different men – a married man who is committed to respect and honor, a bachelor harboring secret desires, and a soldier with an unfulfilled ambition – will find themselves caught in a trap. Their rescue will come from an unexpected quarter.

Read online or download as a free e-book: Green Ruin (The Eternal Dungeon).


My bio )

Engarian has posted an Eternal Dungeon / Lord of the Rings crossover story

Engarian's blurb: After the defeat of Sauron, Aragorn turns to the job of ruling and rebuilding. He is visited by his Steward escorting two men who are worried about the future of their jobs - torturers in the dungeon.

Aragorn cast a sharp look at his Steward, then focused on the two men standing respectfully, in partially hidden in shadow. He beckoned, waving them forward. "Come closer. You look somewhat familiar. . . . Smith, isn't it?"

(Ohmygosh, my characters have met Strider. I'm not sure I can contain my palpitations.)

Mar. 10th, 2017

". . . nothing more than transformation to a deeper love." | Bonds 6/6 | #queerscifi #mmromance

A wrench holding a dried wreath of flowers


New chapter: The final chapter of Bonds is now available. If you haven't already done so, you can start from Chapter 1.

"In the past, he would gladly have accepted the death sentence for his crimes – indeed, he had pled for it then, in the name of justice. But now he had another person in his life to consider."

A prisoner meeting his fate. A torturer meeting his demons. And between them, a man whose bonds are on the point of shattering.

As the head torturer of the Eternal Dungeon sets out to terrify his subordinates in a horrific manner, his junior guard seeks a way to rebel against orders. But deep within the drama lies another man, and the fate of the dungeon may be determined by whether that other man steps forward.

Read online or download as a free e-book: Bonds (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #1).


My bio )

Mar. 9th, 2017

"He knew that these might be the final moments of his life." | Bonds 5/6 | #freeread #fic

A wrench holding a dried wreath of flowers


New chapter: The fifth chapter of Bonds is now available. If you haven't already done so, you can start from Chapter 1.

(And yes, Bonds is six chapters long, not ten chapters. Sorry about that; my mind was still on Adversaries.)

"In the past, he would gladly have accepted the death sentence for his crimes – indeed, he had pled for it then, in the name of justice. But now he had another person in his life to consider."

A prisoner meeting his fate. A torturer meeting his demons. And between them, a man whose bonds are on the point of shattering.

As the head torturer of the Eternal Dungeon sets out to terrify his subordinates in a horrific manner, his junior guard seeks a way to rebel against orders. But deep within the drama lies another man, and the fate of the dungeon may be determined by whether that other man steps forward.

Read online or download as a free e-book: Bonds (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #1).


My bio )

"With his heart's blood beating madly, he turned to face the High Seeker." | Bonds 4/10 | #fic

A wrench holding a dried wreath of flowers


New chapter: The fourth chapter of Bonds is now available. If you haven't already done so, you can start from Chapter 1.

"In the past, he would gladly have accepted the death sentence for his crimes – indeed, he had pled for it then, in the name of justice. But now he had another person in his life to consider."

A prisoner meeting his fate. A torturer meeting his demons. And between them, a man whose bonds are on the point of shattering.

As the head torturer of the Eternal Dungeon sets out to terrify his subordinates in a horrific manner, his junior guard seeks a way to rebel against orders. But deep within the drama lies another man, and the fate of the dungeon may be determined by whether that other man steps forward.

Read online or download as a free e-book: Bonds (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #1).


My bio )

Mar. 7th, 2017

"Layle Smith had surpassed himself this time." | Bonds 3/10 | #queerscifi #fic

A wrench holding a dried wreath of flowers


New chapter: The third chapter of Bonds is now available. If you haven't already done so, you can start from Part 1.

"In the past, he would gladly have accepted the death sentence for his crimes – indeed, he had pled for it then, in the name of justice. But now he had another person in his life to consider."

A prisoner meeting his fate. A torturer meeting his demons. And between them, a man whose bonds are on the point of shattering.

As the head torturer of the Eternal Dungeon sets out to terrify his subordinates in a horrific manner, his junior guard seeks a way to rebel against orders. But deep within the drama lies another man, and the fate of the dungeon may be determined by whether that other man steps forward.

Read online or download as a free e-book: Bonds (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #1).


My bio )

Feb. 26th, 2017

Open-Soul Surgery (The Eternal Dungeon) | #ao3 #fic

The Eternal Dungeon</h2>


"The trouble was, he could still think."

He expected death. What arrived was worse.

Read online or download as a free e-book: Open-Soul Surgery (The Eternal Dungeon).


My bio )

Daily life: Health, writing, Internet addiction, & my day job | #writerslife #amwriting

"Until the Web came around, I'd successfully avoided the addiction gauntlet. I'd steered clear of any trouble with gambling, booze, drugs, and porn. To be blindsided by the Internet (my helpful and wonderful friend!) doesn't seem fair."

--James Sturm: Life Without the Web.


Health )
Writing & publishing )
Day job & web addiction )
Homemaking & decluttering )

Feb. 19th, 2017

The Whipping Post (The Eternal Dungeon) | #ao3 #fic

The Eternal Dungeon</h2>


After his love-mate had been escorted weeping from the great entry hall, nothing was left to distract his mind from what was to come.

Ten minutes left to contemplate what lies ahead, before the end begins.

Read online or download as a free e-book: The Whipping Post (The Eternal Dungeon).


My bio )

Feb. 15th, 2017

My January 2017 reading

Blurbs are generally stolen from the author or publisher.

Top pick of the month

Naraht: "Að fara til Íslands" [uploaded 2011]. Historical fiction set in England, Iceland, and the Arctic during the early 1930s. Slashfic of Mary Renault's The Charioteer; can be read without knowing the original canon. "He had spent last year's summer holidays working his passage to Iceland and back in a trawler." (Don't read the story header, except for the blurb; toward the end of the story, you'll enjoy the delightful surprise that I did.)

Original fiction

Naomi Novik: Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2) [2006]. Historical fantasy adventure set during the Napoleonic Wars. When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo - an unhatched dragon's egg - Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain's Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte's invading forces. Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands - and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East - a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

Noel Streatfeild: Theatre Shoes (Shoes #4) [1945]. Children's fiction (school fiction and domestic fiction) set during World War II. When their father is captured during the war, three children come to London to live with their grandmother and join their talented theatrical family in a school for stage training.

P. L. Travers: Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins #1) [1934]. Ill. Mary Shepard. Children's fantasy set in London during the early 1930s. Life was never the same again for the Banks family after the astonishing Mary Poppins blew in with the east wind.

Fan fiction

(Both these stories can be read without knowing the original canon.)

lastwingedthing: "as morning steals upon the night" [uploaded 2016]. Historical fantasy set during the early twentieth century. AU slashfic of E. F. Benson's David Blaize. Frank is even more special than David first realised.

Jay Tryfanstone: "The Very Secret Diaries of Saint Augustine" [uploaded 2012]. Historical fiction RPF set in the fourth and fifth centuries; can be read without reference to the canon, though it's way funnier if you've read St. Augustine's Confessions. "404. Correspondence Jerome continues. Infuriating. Do not understand why he does not see my point! Translation of 'gourd' vital to understanding of gospels."

Pleasure nonfiction

(This category is for nonfiction that I'd be willing to read for fun, though sometimes I peruse it for the sake of research.)

Mroctober: "Adventures of a Cat Slave" [2011]. Daily-life post only lightly fictionalized, as any cat's companion can testify. "Your master welcomes you back to his domestic holdings with a meow at the top of the steps."

Joseph Husband: A Year in a Coal-Mine [1911]. Adventure memoir. "Ten days after my graduation from Harvard I took my place as an unskilled workman in one of the largest of the great soft-coal mines that lie in the Midwest."

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: The Freelancer's Survival Guide [Third Edition, 2013; also online]. Business book for authors and other freelancers; includes lots of autobiographical anecdotes. Most people become freelancers without any idea of how to run a business. They learn in the school of hard knocks. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has taken the school of hard knocks and made it into one of the most useful business books written in years. (That's the official, effusive blurb, but it's true.)

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