Monday, February 27, 2012

Nice Review for Different Spheres!

What can I say?  I feel the need to spread the love.  This short story's reception has been particularly good so far. *basks in warm snuggly feeling*

The review was by Lucy at Hearts On Fire Reviews.  Four out of five stars, and here's the majority of what she had to say:

What this story shows is the blossoming of a friendship, with no pressure and no expectations. It is a slow build, and a precious glimpse into the lives of a mature (44 year old) man, living with a progressive disease and how that affects perceptions. Warren is 50, and had lost a partner to a heart attack. When he tells Gil about the last words of his lover, Nate, before he died, I cried. It was just so, real life and hurting.

This is a short book that I didn’t want to be any longer than what it was. While I would love a follow up sequel to revisit Warren and Gil, I felt this ended at such a beautiful place that anything else wouldn’t work.

Definitely recommended for those of us who aren’t perfect, who aren’t 18 and who know how difficult opening up can be.

Thanks, Lucy!  Sorry I made you cry.  Actually, not really:)  Several people have let me know a sequel would be good.  Any thoughts on that, folks?  Because I'm definitely tempted to go there.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cinders Post #2

Notes:  Here we have the second part of Cinders.  This is a tough section of the story to explain, so bear with me.  I hope you enjoy it, and so you know, two weeks is the longest I ever plan on going between posts with this story.  I am not here to torment you, dahlings, I'm here to make you happy:)

Title: Cinders

Part Two: Alternate Reality or Reality TV?


Molding a proper hero…this is a process that takes some time.

This particular story’s new protagonist has potential.  He couldn’t have walked through the door without it.  But there’s an arrogance inside of him that’s hard to reconcile with the archetype needed to reach Happily Ever After, a hardness that just doesn’t mesh with the narrative’s goal.  It needs to soften him.  It needs to make him feel…suggestible.  The new reality must become the only reality, and that transition has driven more than a few potential heroes and heroines mad.  The story needs to take him back to a time when he feels more resigned to his fate, when the way forward is the way that was made for him, not the way he forged by himself.  A place with no questions, only duties.  Possibly it can even blend that with his own preconceptions of what the narrative should be.  That sort of symbiosis is always handy when you’re breaking in your hero.

Of course, it just figures that his preconceptions should revolve around the cartoon version of the fairy tale.  So many modern protagonists’ do these days.


For the first time in months, Asher dreams of his little sister.

Cassie had a predictable cycle.  Every day of the week after school was a different Disney film.  She would meet Asher outside; he had to walk to pick her up from the middle school and it took about a half an hour, but she’d just sit and play with her dolls and wait outside if the weather was good.  If it was bad she might be anywhere, but usually the library or the gym.  They’d walk home together, and she would talk non-stop about her day, what she learned in school and how it all related to her secret identity as a fairy princess.  It was stupid, but Asher forgave her.  Cassie was only six.

They’d get home and Cassie would dump her backpack by the front door and run into the living room.  There were two televisions in the house, one in the living room and one in the rec room.  The rec room TV was the one hooked up to the video game system, but usually Howard and Kyle and however many of their friends were with them that day laid claim to that one, and Asher and Cassie would just get kicked off of it if the big kids wanted it when they got home.  Sometimes they’d offer to let Asher play with them, but then Cassie would cry.  She hated being left alone.

So they took the TV in the living room.  It was smaller but it had all the VHS tapes next to it, and Cassie would rummage through the oversize cases until she found the one she was looking for.  Monday was The Little Mermaid, Tuesday was Sleeping Beauty, Wednesday was Aladdin, Thursday was Cinderella and Friday was Beauty and the Beast.  Every day was a new princess, and each new princess had her own ritual.  Mondays they had to bring the fishbowl into the room.  Asher would put it down on the coffee table and Cassie would look from their two goldfish to the screen and back again, like she was trying to make it all work together in her head. 

For Cinderella, Cassie had to change into a dress she’d made by cutting holes for her head and arms in one of her old pink pillowcases, and she would clutch her stuffed hamster in her hands, which was the closest stuffed animal analog to a mouse that she had.  Asher would have to pause the movie when the fairy godmother showed up so Cassie could change into her church dress, which was made of blue velvet and had a white sash around the middle.  She did the same thing every week, until Asher knew the movies front to back and could tune them out while he did his homework.

“I want to go to a ball.”

“They don’t have those anymore,” Asher told her.

“They do too!  Princes have balls.  I bet they have them all the time.  How else do they meet princesses?”

“There aren’t any princesses here.  We live in Oakland.”

“I bet there are,” she told him, “and you just don’t know ‘cause you don’t see them around.  Because they’re in disguise.”

“Oh yeah?”  Asher looked over at his little sister, five years younger than him and so much more innocent.  Their brothers left her alone, mostly, and so did their dad, even when he was drinking.  Their mom looked out for Cassie when she was home from work, and Asher looked out for her the rest of the time, because Cassie was special.

“Yeah.  And I’m gonna be one.”

The words “that’s stupid” quivered at the tip of his tongue, a sign of his rapidly developing jerkish streak, but instead Asher said, “Okay.”  And Cassie smiled and hugged him, and he forgot for a second about how shitty their house was and how lousy dinner was going to be and what assholes his older brothers were, because Cassie was happy.

Everything is cold.

Asher’s hips ache from lying on his side on the stone floor.  He blinks muzzily, staring into a pile of gray and black, and tries to push back from it, but his hand just sinks into the stuff.  It comes away sooty.  Ashes…the house.  Right.

Well, there’s daylight coming in now, which means Ty is probably at school which means Asher can go home and clean up without having to deal with the third degree.  He sits up and looks around.  He freezes in place, dumbfounded, and looks again.

The room has changed.  Instead of an empty shell there are tables in here, and shelves, and pots and pans and baskets of food.  There’s an oven beside the fireplace, a really old-fashioned one, the kind you see in stupidly upscale pizza restaurants.  There are old vegetable peelings here and there, and an ancient  broom in the corner.

There’s also a mouse on the floor by one of the table legs.  It’s staring at Asher.  Apart from some twitchy whiskers, it isn’t moving.

“Dude,” Asher mutters, “not sanitary.”  He flicks a cinder towards it.  It startles and runs under one of the nearby shelves.  Asher watches it go, then shakes his head.  “Okay, time to wake up.”  He closes his eyes, then opens them again.  Everything is the same.  He shuts his eyes again, squeezes them shut hard this time, then looks again.  Tiny white stars dance at the edge of his vision, but apart from that the room looks the same.

“What the hell?”  He pinches his leg, a pinch with a twist at the end that leaves him wincing from the burn, but nothing changes.  He throws off the ratty blanket and forces himself to stand.  The floor is so cold under hit feet…wait, feet?  He was only missing one shoe.  Asher looks down and sees that his left foot is wearing not a sneaker, but some kind of strange, thin slipper.  It looks like it’s made of leather, and is tied loosely together on top.  His other foot is still bare, and the pressure of the floor against his cuts stings like fire.  His clothes have changed.  What were jeans is now a pair of scratchy woolen pants held up with a string, and his shirt has become some kind of…what, tunic?  Is that what these things are called?  Whatever it is, it’s shapeless and poorly made, and hangs off his shoulders like a sack.

Panic rises.  Asher grabs the edge of the nearest table, feels the pain as his fingers press into the rough hardness of it, and he pushes the fear down.  Fear just gets you in trouble.  Okay.  So this seems really, really real.  Maybe it is, maybe some sick fuck drugged him last night and brought all this stuff in.  Maybe the owner of the house gets off on watching people struggle with reality.  Well, fuck you very much, but Asher knows exactly who he is and where he should be, and this shit can all go to hell.  He peers into the corners of the room, looking for cameras.  He can’t see any, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  He stabs his middle fingers into the air, then stalks off towards the exit.  He’s through with this.

The floor is smooth under his feet now, no longer gritty.  Someone took the time to sweep the hall.  Distantly Asher hears voices, the murmurs of other people starting to move around, but he’s not interested in asking questions or demanding answers.  He just needs to get out of here.  He goes to the big front door, throws it open—

And steps out into a land that defies every expectation of his brain.  This is wrong.  He should be seeing fencing, metal fencing, and beyond it pavement and cars and houses.  People should be walking dogs, people should be going to work.  It shouldn’t be…this.  A long gravel avenue stretches away from the door, bracketed on either side by evenly-spaced oak trees and overgrown lawns.  Asher takes a step forward, and hisses slightly when the gravel digs into his foot.  It definitely feels real.  The air is very fresh, cool and crisp on his face.  The sky is clear like you never get in San Francisco at this time of year.

“Fuck,” Asher mutters.  Because it’s one thing to assume he’s been drugged, it’s another to figure he’s also been kidnapped and transported to some country chalet that’s surrounded by springtime instead of fall. 

There has to be some other explanation for this.  Some kind of hallucination, a really vivid one, or maybe he’s in some kind of virtual reality simulator.  Because, yeah, why not?  It makes more sense than…than whatever this is.  Time travel or some shit.  SCA freaks gone totally overboard.  Whatever.

So the thing to do is figure out how to get out of this.  Part of Asher is still hoping this is all just a dream, but even when his dreams have been at their worst he’s never felt them like this, so real that he can feel every square inch of skin that itches beneath the coarse clothes, so real that he can make out the smeared drops of his own blood on the stone stairs.

“Boy!” a voice yells, loudly.  “Boy!  Heavy footsteps clomp towards him, and a moment later Asher is staring at a huge, round figure of a…a woman?  Is it a woman?  Her body fills the doorway, and she’s got the curves to support the female hypothesis, but this person looks strange.  Exaggerated.  Like someone took a picture of a woman and then put it into one of those weird apps, the ones where you can morph the person’s face.  Her scowl is so blatant it could be carved, her ears protrude to the side, and her hair is a tight, slicked-back gray bun.  Her hands are on her hips, fingers fat like bratwurst, and her stance is hips-forward aggressive.  She looks like a cartoon character overlaid with human skin, real and yet not-real.

Her hand on his wrist as she stalks down the steps and grabs him is definitely real, though.  It’s so real that he knows it’ll leave bruises.

She shakes his arm.  “You let the fire go out, stupid boy.  Now the ladies’ bread will be late for breakfast.  Idiot!”

Asher pulls back, trying to jerk his hand from her grip.  He should be able to do this, he’s done it with guys twice his size, but she keeps a hold of him like it’s nothing at all.  “Fucking let go of me already!”

She slaps him with her free hand.  It feels like he’s been hit with a brick, thankfully on the side of his face that isn’t already swollen, but still.  Jesus.  He reels to the side, kept on his feet only by her iron grip.  “Keep a respectful tongue in your head, boy,” the woman sneers.  “You lost your privileges when your father died.  I thought you’d remember that, by now.  Come.”  She pulls him back into the house and down the main hall.  “You have chores to do.”

They end up in the kitchen, where she passes Asher a bucket of scraps that’s a lot heavier than it looks and a pair of poorly-made sandals.  “These will have to do for you, Mistress won’t buy you another pair of good shoes if you’re just going to be careless with them.  Now go feed the pigs.”

There are other people moving around in the kitchen, dressed not dissimilar to him, but they studiously avoid making eye contact.  Apparently Asher is to be ignored.  They all have that same look, too, like their skin doesn’t really fit, like their colors are too bright to be human.  Asher looks down at his own hands numbly, but they look the same as they always have.  Real.  Normal.

The woman—Asher assumes she’s the cook—aims a kick at him, which he dodges out of habit.  “Get on with you!  More’s to be done when you get back.”

Asher slips off the single leather shoe and gets into the wooden sandals, which are exactly as comfortable as he thought they’d be, picks up the bucket and follows another servant into the hall.  He takes a right, because he’s not gone that way before, and a second later he hits a door which opens onto a wide expanse of muddy ground.  There are chickens—real live chickens—running around, but they look even more bizarre than the people do.  None of their feathers are delineated; it’s like watching puffy bits of cloud dart about, clucking and pecking at the ground.  Asher looks at them and shudders slightly.  Pigs.  He should be feeding the pigs.

It isn’t hard to find the pigpen, the smell is as realistic as the breeze in the air.  The pigs might look slightly cuboid, all the same nauseating color of Pepto Bismol pink, but they’re grunting like real pigs, and they’re loud as hell.  Hungry, probably.  Asher lifts the bucket of scraps and tosses it into the enclosure, and the pigs are on it immediately.

Asher needs to think.  He just has to—to think for a second.  He shuts his eyes and runs through what he knows.  This just seems too real, even with the weird people and animals.  Everything smells right, it feels authentic.  But how could it possibly be?

“If you eliminate the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, is the truth.”

Asher laughed and threw a handful of popcorn at Ty.  “Thanks, trekkie boy, I’ll keep that in mind.”

Ty rolled his eyes and gestured towards the TV, where a fight was just breaking out in a gambling hall.  “You know, Sherlock Holmes said it first.”

“Either way you’re a geek.”

“Whatever.”  Ty picked up a piece of the scattered popcorn and ate it, then swiftly grabbed one of the couch cushions and smacked Asher in the face with it.  Popcorn scattered everywhere as the bowl went flying.  They got into an epic pillow beatdown and had to start the movie over, but neither of them cared.

“Okay, fine.”  Fine.  So it is real.  Ish.  Real-ish.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t a way out of this.  Asher just has to find it.  He lifts a tentative hand to his throbbing cheek.  Preferably a way out that doesn’t involve him getting hit anymore, because shit that hurt.  For a second it had made him want to say, “Sorry, sir,” an impulse he thought died when he left home.  No, direct opposition isn’t an option, and neither is curling into a little ball and waiting for it all to go away.

The only thing to do right now is let it play out and see what happens. Unsatisfying, but it’s true. Asher hoists the empty bucket over his shoulder and makes his way back into the fray.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Different Spheres is out today!

Hey there folks

So this should be a Cinders post, but it isn't yet.  Soon, leibchen!  Instead I'm letting you guys know that Different Spheres is available starting today at Dreamspinner Press.  It's a short story that I originally intended to go in an anthology about love in a scholarly setting, but it ended up being something totally other.  It takes place in a contemporary setting too, with no magic, no creatures, nothing paranormal. See?  I can stretch my skills!

Here, have a link: Different Spheres e-book.

Hey, why not the blurb, too?

Gil Donaldson returned to his hometown of Boulder, Colorado, after a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis cut short his teaching career and his love life on the East Coast. Waking one morning to find that his vision has gone blurry, which makes driving himself to the hospital out of the question, Gil solicits the help of his slightly-reclusive neighbor, Warren Masters, to take him to the ER.

The two men become friends over the course of Gil’s recovery from his latest relapse, and while Gil recognizes he’s attracted to the other man, he refuses to act on it. Gil doesn’t like relying on anyone else to ensure his emotional or physical health, and he’s grown used to being alone, or at least that’s what he tells himself. Warren is a man of few words, but he’s there whenever Gil needs him, and he has only one request for them to be together.

I'd give you the cover too, except it's the generic cover for all Dreamspinner short stories.  Oh, but what the hell, some of you might not have seen it before.

Anyway, promo done, so Happy Wednesday!

Oh, and--for those of you who have been to my website and are wondering why this isn't up there yet, the answer is because I don't know how to manuipulate that stuff.  Yet.  I'm going to get it, though, because I don't want to start falling behind on keeping it updated.  Oh, the learning just never ends.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

So Much Awesome All At Once!


So I woke up this morning and checked my email and found two things waiting for me.  One, I'm getting a contract for the third and possibly final book in the Treasured series--you know, the one with Daniel and Reese and the whole art thief/mistaken identity thing.  The title will be Reclaimed and the novella will probably come out in May.  If you've read the others, then this one will really make you happy, guys:)  So much revelation, so much conclusion.  Just so much.

There was also an email from my incredible web designer telling me that my website it, actually, finished.  As in done, as in graphics up and all content loaded.  As in that sucker even links to this blog.  It's almost too cool for me, I'm staring at it going "How in the hell am I going to keep this looking so good?"  It's got the complete and definitive list of my current publications on it, BTW, with prices and links and covers and genres and more, so for anyone who'se curious--go there.  Go there now.  The website is at

What else, what else...the last part of Pandora is in the queue, thank God for that, and I'm working on the next Cinders post this weekend, so it should be up fast.  Let's see, Different Spheres comes out with Dreamspinner next Wednesday, I'll do a post for it then...

Just go check the website.  It's so cool.  I even have an email address associated with it, but I'm not going to share that until I know how to access it.  Yes, Luddite, thy name is Cari.

Happy Saturday!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cinders Post #1

Notes:  So, this is my new story.  I'm using the fairytale as more of a reference than anything, so don't expect too much literary fidelity.  Depending on this one's reception, I may or may not start up a second one concurrently on the blog.  I do have my sanity to keep, after all, but it's a possibility.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the first part of Cinders.

And I know, the new template is really pink, but I figured a change was due after over a year of the same thing.  It may end up adjusted.

Title: Cinders

Part One: Round About Midnight


                Mankind is made up of storytellers, and storytellers very often don’t know their own strength.  Words have power, and to use them is to give them will, and breath, and movement.  Stories can take on a life of their own.  It’s happened many times, with the epic cycles of history repeating themselves despite our best intentions and traditions becoming warped out of all recognition by circumstance, transforming into something completely new.  Stories float through homes, cities, cultures and continents and look for fertile ground, and when they find it, they dig in their roots. 

Stories, however they come about their imperative to live, do require actors to play the crucial parts.  If you fall into a story, you had better hope it’s one of the more benevolent ones, although without some current of strong emotion or trauma a story isn’t likely to endure.  The best characters are the ones who can adapt the tale to fit their personal needs, without getting totally swept away by the narrative.  If you can’t do that, well, then the story runs roughshod over you and you’ll probably end up dead, cooked in a pot of boiling water at the bottom of a chimney or turned into a deer that is subsequently torn apart by hunting hounds, or some other equally grisly and poetic end. 

This particular story decided to settle in a house.  It waited patiently for the right person to come by, and when they came…it pounced.


It’s nearly midnight.

It’s nearly midnight, and Asher is walking as fast as he can with only one shoe on.  His other foot is bare, no sock, nothing.  It irritates the fuck out of him but he doesn’t want to stop, because stopping would be acknowledging it and then he’d have to think about it, and right now all he wants is to move, fast enough that the anger doesn’t have a chance to boil over.  This is as fast as he can go without breaking into a run.  Not for the first time Asher wishes he’d never sold his motorcycle, because fuck it would feel good to slide onto that smooth seat, feel the engine rumble to life between his legs and go, just go, fast as he could to anywhere else.  The bike was easy escape, pure and simple, but now he has to make do with his own two legs or, God forbid, the San Francisco public transportation system, and anyone who’s ridden it knows that it isn’t the way to escape from anything.

His face is still swelling; he can feel the sting and pull of the skin, and it’s getting harder to see out of his right eye.  Fucking frat boys and their goddamn inability to lose graciously.  Not to mention the undertones of sexual repression, but that’s just to be expected.  Asher doesn’t typically hustle pool in college bars, but he needed the money and it was close by.  Two hundred and fifty bucks in and the guys didn’t want to play anymore, but they were more than ready to beat the shit out of the pretty fag who was holding their cash.  Asher got out, he’s good at getting out, but not before he took a shot to the face with a pool cue that rocked his world. 

Stupid fucking college boys, think they’re so smart…and Asher should know, he lives with one.  Not that Ty is like those guys, really.  Asher met Ty when he was sixteen, new to the streets, skinny and shy and so damn green he practically glowed neon.  He would have gotten his ass handed to him in under a week if Asher hadn’t shown him how to live, what you had to do to get by if you weren’t gonna get into the system, and nobody wants to be in the system.  Asher shared his money and his place, got Ty’s stupid shaggy hair cut, because you never gave a john more to hold onto than you had to.  He took Ty out to work with him, helped him stay away from the hard drugs and the guys who wanted more than a blowjob or a quick fuck, because there were always people who wanted more than you should give them.  He helped Ty build a fucking life away from his past without asking any questions, and it worked for them, damn it.  It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.

Except Ty was greedy, and smarter than was good for himself, and as soon as he hit eighteen he enrolled in community college.  He got a job in a library shelving books, and now he spends all his time studying shit like Basic Anatomy or American Literature.  He’s let his hair grow out again, and after he hit his growth spurt he shot up past Asher, well past six feet, big enough so that even the biggest guy thinks twice before stepping up to him.  Now instead of a twink Ty looks like a gangling scarecrow, still skinny, all long limbs and oversized hands and the stupidest big brown puppy dog eyes imaginable, eyes that can make you do things you never had any intention of doing.  When he pouts it’s like watching someone poke a baby bunny with a stick, or push a kitten off a countertop.  There are whole YouTube channels devoted to this kind of sickly-sweet sadism, and Ty probably subscribes and takes notes.

It would be tolerable if Ty didn’t want Asher to change as well.  But he does.  And that sucks.  Like tonight: he got home okay, he had the money and he hadn’t had to turn any tricks to get it, which was kinda nice.  But as soon as he walks in the door, Ty is on him like white on rice.

“Holy shit.”  Ty dropped the book he was reading on the couch, his legs folded up beneath him awkwardly, and ran over to the door.  “Ash, what the hell?”

“It’s nothing,” Asher replied, giving Ty a half-smile as he kicked off his shoes and slung his leather jacket over the end of their tiny kitchen counter.  Their whole place was tiny, basically a living room, a bedroom and a closet of a bathroom. The kitchen was a hot plate, a microwave and a sink.   It wasn’t much, but they didn’t need much.  “Some assholes in a bar just couldn’t bow out gracefully.”

Ty’s shoulder’s slumped a little, and he dropped his hands off Asher’s shoulders and went to rummage through their mini fridge.  “You were hustling pool?”  He found the ice pack, actually a bag of corn that had been thawed and refrozen way too many times, and handed it over.  It felt like bliss on Asher’s swollen face, and he flopped down onto the couch where Ty had been and stretched his legs out.

“Beer?” he asked hopefully.

“No.”  Ty found their latest bottle of generic painkiller and shook out two of the tablets.  He brought them over with a glass of water.  “Ash, were you hustling pool?”

“Yeah.”  Asher grimaced but swallowed the pills, and washed them down with water that tasted slightly like metal.  The landlord had warned them when they moved in that they’d probably want to put a filter on the faucet, to take the taste away, but there were so many other things to spend money on besides making water taste the way it should.  As long as it didn’t kill them, they were good.  “I won a lot of money,” he continued with a grin, and pulled the messy wad of bills out of his pocket.  He tossed it in Ty’s direction.  “There’s your textbooks, man.  Never say I don’t do shit for you.”

Ty stated down at the money, his mouth set in a line of distaste.  When he looked up again his eyes were opened wide, big and unhappy and Asher had to bite back a moan of frustration.  He knew what that look meant.  “Ash…I don’t want you to have to hustle pool to make money.”

“Well, it’s better than the alternatives,” Asher replied.  “What, you want me fucking crusty middle-aged douchebags if I can avoid it?”

“No!”  Ty pushed his sandy hair out of his face, tucked it behind his ears.  Stupid long hair, every time he saw it Asher wanted to touch it, to card his fingers through it and play with it and basically act like a five-year old girl.  Scary.  “No, I want you to not have to do any of it.  There are other options, Ash.  You’re twenty-one, man, you could get a real job.”

“What have you been smoking?” Asher muttered.

“I’m serious!  You could work in construction, or in a restaurant or something.  There are lots of other possibilities out there.  Or you could go to school too—”

“Not that again,” Asher cut Ty off mid-sentence.  “No thanks, college boy.  In case you’re forgetting, I don’t have a high school diploma or a GED.”

“I got mine,” Ty pointed out reasonably.  “It’s not that hard, I would help you.”

“Jesus,” Asher said, dropping the frozen corn and glaring at Ty, “Would you just let this go already?”

Except Ty didn’t let it go, and the argument became a fight and then Asher was out of there, so fast that he didn’t take the time to grab his other shoe, fast enough that he wouldn’t be tempted to just fucking punch Ty in the face, because no matter how big Ty got, Asher had the experience, he had been fighting for his place from the moment he could stand.  Asher had promised himself when he found Ty that he would never hurt him, and he never had, not even when the annoying shit drove him fucking insane with his fairy-tale fantasies.  What kind of world did he think they were living in, huh?  Nothing was ever right, things never worked out.  Or maybe for people like Ty they did, people so goddamn adorable that they bent the laws of physics, but for the Ashers of the world it was always a struggle.

 Not that he wasn’t gorgeous when his face wasn’t black and blue.  Asher got his mother’s Chinese features, cat-like and seductive, and his father’s Irish skin and physical proportions.  All American and yet decidedly exotic, he was gorgeous and he knew it.  His hair was spiky and short, bleach-blond, and he used eyeliner to highlight the sharpness of his eyes, which were blue like his father’s.  His mouth had been called “perfect for cocksucking” too many times to count by dumbass johns who didn’t realize or didn’t care that that wasn’t exactly a compliment.  He wore skintight clothes to accentuate the cut of his muscles, and radiated a bad-boy air that was irresistible to some.  It was only once he started talking that Asher’s luck changed, because he couldn’t hold back when someone was being a shithead.  He always spoke his mind, and that more often than not got him into trouble.

Like tonight.  He’s been walking and cussing and fuming so hard he doesn’t know where he is, and the sky is about to fucking open up and drench him, he can feel it in the air, and now his foot is really starting to hurt.  Asher stops and leans against a brick wall, turns the sole over and takes a look.  It’s filthy, almost black, and bleeding in a couple different places.

“Fuck,” he mutters, cradling it uselessly in his hands.  The rain starts to fall then, soft for the moment but he knows it’s going to get worse, and he’s stuck in the middle of nowhere, a street of ubiquitous row houses and flex-fuel cars, every one of them probably owned by yuppie hipsters who don’t give a guy like him the time of day until they’re drunk and horny, and even then the bastards manage to be condescending.  This is not the place he wants to be, but its dark out and there’s no way he going to be walking much further on this foot.  Asher pulls his jacket a little tighter and keeps going, looking for anything that might do for a night.  He could call a cab but he doesn’t have any money, he left all that with Ty, and anyway his phone is just about dead.

He walks on for a while, limping and feeling pretty miserable, still angry but sort of sick too, sick of himself and sick of Ty, but damn it he still wishes he were home right now anyway.  He walks, slow and searching for a place, and when he sees it he wonders as first if it’s a mirage.  Because this isn’t just another quaint house in the row, all girlied up and painted in pastels.  This is a three story stone mansion, or it would be a mansion if it were a little nicer.  As it is right now, it’s too gloomy to be considered nice.  There’s an iron-wrought fence surrounding the thing, which Asher doesn’t get at all, seeing as it has no yard to speak of, and there isn’t a light on anywhere.  It looks totally out of place on this street.

Asher tries the gate, curious but not expecting much, and is surprised when it swings open.  Huh.  Maybe no one lives here, maybe the house is condemned.  And if it is, then maybe he can crash here tonight.  Asher hobbles his way to the front door and gives it a try.  It sticks at first, almost feels like it’s locked but then it gives out under the weight of his hip banging against it, and he topples inside.

Christ, it’s dark in here.  Asher feels around for a light switch but there’s nothing on the wall.  The floor is gritty under his toes, like the house is shedding it's top layer.  He shuts the door behind himself and feels his way along the hallway, past cold, empty room and uninviting corridors.  The hall turns and he turns with it, and eventually finds himself in a large room with stone floors and a huge fireplace at the back of it. Against one wall is a grandfather clock, a big old thing that’s pacing out time like a metronome, noisy in the solitude. Someone was here, though, pretty recently too.  There are embers glowing faintly in the grate, and laid out on the floor are a few blankets and a musty old pillow. 

It’s probably some homeless person’s squat, but Asher doesn’t care right now, all he wants is to lay down and fall asleep and try to forget tonight ever happened, just for a while.  God, he hates his life.  He sits down, picks at his foot for a second before giving it up as a bad deal.  The floor is hard under his ass, cold too, but at least he isn’t still out in the rain.  The pillow feels moldy, but he can’t take his jacket off to cover it or he’ll freeze, even with the blankets.  He compromises and lays part of one of the blankets on top of it and scoots the whole getup closer to the fire, close enough that he can smell the cinders and feel the silky ashes rub up against his fingertips.  Whatever, it’s warmer.  Asher settles down onto his side, carefully avoiding the swollen parts of his face.  He listens to the ticking of the clock and wonders if he’ll even be able to fall asleep.  A few minutes later, he finds out that he can.

The clock strikes midnight.  The front door locks.  And the house…changes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Comes Next...

So I blame what comes next partially on my darling readerwife, although she doesn't deserve the amount of weird that's going to be coming along for it. 

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do as my next serial here, but I finally decided on a twisted fairytale.  Twisted as in an other-realm juxtaposition/magical realism/rentboy kind of twist.  Yes, it's going to be very different from Pandora, in other words, but I think you'll enjoy it.  I hope so, at least, I haven't actually written more than the outline yet, but I should have the first post up before next week.

I'll still post about other projects and upcoming releases, of course, and hopefully (fingers f*^&ing crossed, arr!) I'll have a beautiful website soon.  This stuff always takes longer than I anticipate.

And what fairytale am I twisting?  Something unusual with shapeshifting awkwardness, like The White Dove?  Something with a wicked witch?  Cause don't we all love wicked witches.  Um, no.  But it is one of the big ones.  We'll see how I do.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Maybe I'm the only one finding this funny...

Hiya, people.

I got Pandora Ch. 3 loaded onto Literotica today.  I left it on a cliffhanger, you know, the part with the explosion in the lab.  I've gotten a few comments remarking on my evilness, all with love, and it got me to thinking about how cliffhangers do indeed suck (I know, been there reading other people's stories, I just wanted to reach through the computer, grab the author and demand "What NEXT!?!") and how because the thing is already written, they'll suck for a much shorter period of time than could be otherwise.  Like, say, if I was writing this story over the span of more than a year on a continent where computers are as often paperweights as writing devices and making my readers wait for weeks and weeks.  And fucking weeks.  God, you guys are tolerant.  Especially the commenters, you darlings who threw me nummy-nums and encouraged me to keep going, but all of you were awesomely patient.

And in defense of the Lit people, I let half a year slip by before finishing Shadows and Light.  That story was such a beast.

The question becomes, how will I torment you next?  Will I be nice, write something completely out on my home computer and then give you big, satisfying chunks of it all at once?  Probably not, this is the blog that forces me to write, so no, likelihood is it will be something drawn out again.  Sorry.  Still figuring out what to do here next, I thought I had it and then it slipped away from me.  But soon.

Also, just, one little Colorado thing to share.  Two days ago it was unseasonably warm, like kick the jackets to the curb warm.  This morning we have twelve inches of snow.  Boulder, you tease:)  My PT called me to cancel our appt this morning, she said she didn't want my crutch slipping on the snow and giving me another broken leg.  So thoughtful.

Anyway, long rant, oy.  Happy Friday!

PS-not me, obviously.  originally posted at the Daily Camera website