Friday, October 11, 2019

Ode to a Too Virginal Pen

The name on the barrel is “Ruth Schuldt”.

Ruth Schuldt.  It sounds German, maybe Jewish.  A distinctly mundane name, nothing exotic, maybe from Pennsylvania, or somewhere in the Midwest.  It conjures the image of a farmer’s wife, a woman with soft hair, a tired face and calloused hands.  A small farmhouse on a hot August night, where she lies next to her husband of years, long before air conditioning.  Waiting for sleep to come, trying not to think, laying almost nude with the moonlight on the dark nipples of her sweating weighty breasts, wondering if this is the night it may finally rain.  Please God.  Rain.  The wind blows across dried barley tufts swaying in waves in the hot moonlight.

This is a shiny pen, not much used.  She didn’t write much with it, this Ruth Schuldt.  I would date this pen back to about the 1930s or so.  Dust Bowl days.  Around the depression. This pen is very bright to have come from so long ago.  Maybe it was a graduation gift to a school girl, a pen she’s kept in a drawer from better times, nothing to write, nothing to say, but Lord will it rain tonight?

Is she still alive?  Like one of those Playboy Playmates from the early 1960s, fresh skinned, young, with puffy nipples, about a mouthful, at the height of her sexual glory.  Now a grandmother on social security with one or two divorces behind.  “But wasn’t I a dish back then?”

Hi there Ruth Schuldt.  I have your pen.  A Schaeffer Junior fountain pen, made in Fort Madison Iowa, back when we made things.  Lever fill.  I fixed it up.  It works really good now.  I like your pen a lot.  I read the repair book, which cost me a good seventy bucks, Christ, don’t tell my wife,  and did a real good job on this lovely little samurai sword.  Tuned the golden nib like a fine old Martin guitar.  Did you miss it?

Maybe if I had known you I would have loved you.  If you had known me, you might have had an easier life of it.  On sweaty nights like this one, I would have whispered in your ear to see if you were awake, would have run my hands over you, gently rolled on top of you and filled you up with strong healthy babies.  I would have licked you first, always.  Salty.  I’ll bet you were salty way down there, Ruth Schuldt.  Were you a salty woman down there, Ruth Schuldt?  On hot sweaty nights?

Pens like these outlive their owners.  They’re from another time when things were not so easily disposable.  Things.   People.  Lovers.  You repaired things. You repaired love, if you could.  If something broke, other than a heart, you took it to this guy on the corner, he gave you a yellow ticket, you came back in a week and your gadget worked.  When I was a little kid, the TV had vacuum tubes with mysterious plates of stamped metal arranged inside, like science fiction snow globes.  When it conked out, a guy in a uniform with a big black peddlers case of tools and tubes pulled up in a van, unscrewed the back and did his magic. He gave me the blackened tubes.  I pretended they were rocket ships, running around the yard and holding them over my head making whooshing noises.  If they broke they let off a strange smelling gas that made me dizzy.

This pen has soul.  Character, it had a previous incarnation, a lonesome history, there is hard evidence it was somebody’s darling before it was mine.  Or maybe it was never anyone’s darling.  Maybe it was partnered with a dull woman who had no love of words or the stroke of black on white linen paper.  Maybe it was loved, but it doesn’t look loved to me.  It’s too perfect.  Things that are well loved are usually damaged and repaired, often badly.  This is a pen that has not been gripped fiercely, never been thrown across the room.  Were you loved Ruth Schuldt? I don’t want to believe you were never opened up, parted, uncapped and bared to the naked golden nib, never stuffed and filled with the dark wet of life.

Come to me, little black pen.  Let me uncap you. So.  Mine. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Hot Sex Sandwich--Plus History and Politics

Sacchi Green

Fair warning! This post is going to present a hot sex scene, sandwiched between several layers of political and historical angst.

I know this is supposed to be my turn for a promotional post, but I’ve been distracted the last few days by certain world events. My heart aches for the Kurds in the Mideast, being abandoned by their US allies for whom they’ve fought so hard and well in subduing the IS forces. Now Turkey is free to attack and destroy them, and they’ve already begun.

As it happens, my superheroine novel, Shadow Hand, deals in part with the Kurdish and Yazidi forces, specifically with the women’s units of their Peshmerga army. I’ve done a great deal of research on the history and landscape of the unofficial country of Kurdistan, presently carved up between Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. I almost feel that I’ve been there, with my characters, organizing a rescue operation to free hundreds of Kurdish and Yazidi women imprisoned by the IS to be sold as sex slaves.  

The book isn’t erotica, but it does have some steamy intervals, and I’ll share one, but first I’ll try to explain the context as briefly as I can.

My two main characters, Cleo (Sergeant Brown) and Ash (Lieutenant Ashton), have been stationed in the Mideast and working together. They’ve also secretly become lovers, in spite of taboos relating both to rank and orientation. In the book’s first section (out of three) Ash and Cleo have nearly been captured by the enemies, and are saved by hiding in a shallow cave in the bank of a dry wadi, where an ancient hidden statuette of the goddess Ashtar injects Ash with a superpower, telekinesis. Cleo tries to help Ash adjust to her unasked for power, and learn to use it, but a series of events gets the attention of an Army PsyOps officer, and eventually Ash goes AWOL, and disappears eve from Cleo to keep from being weaponized by the military.

Onward to Part Two, where Cleo and Ash are reunited in Boston, where they gather some sidekicks and use Ash’s powers in several raids on major sex traffickers. They also, however, manage some close together time made more fun by Ash’s abilities. This scene comes just after their reunion.

Ash’s mouth hung open for a second or two before she pulled
herself together. “You’re telling me that Ishtar is your good pal now,
too? The one who wanted to kill you?”
“You might put it that way.” Cleo wriggled to get more comfy.
“I stopped by her lair on my way to be mustered out and get a flight
to the States. The mine-buster squad I traveled with went along that
same road, and they humored me when I said I’d lost something
with sentimental value over in that wadi and wanted to take a few
minutes to look for it. Good guys. We’d worked together for three
months, and they’d all heard the story about when we hid there.
“So we stopped for a lunch break, and I wandered alone over to
the wadi and down to where our cave had been, pretty much all just
rubble now. I could feel her anger right away, by the dust blowing
into my eyes and the pebbles bouncing off my head, but I stood
my ground, stripped naked, and yelled, more or less, ‘Look you,
whatever you are, I’m a woman, and Ash needs me. If you know
where she is, show me right now!’ After that we got along just fine.”
Cleo stood, stretched, ambled over to the sink, and drew a glass
of water. She drank it slowly, drew another, and nearly choked when
the glass moved out of her hand and landed over on the table.
“Sergeant Brown!” Ash snapped. “Finish your report! That’s an
“Yes, ma’am!” Cleo saluted and went back to the chair. “Since
you ask so nicely. I don’t really know precisely what happened, but I
had a vision right then, clear as anything, of an airplane window. It
was like I was right there with you. I could see the ground through
a space in the clouds. You were passing over the Connecticut River
and the Holyoke Range and the Quabbin Reservoir. I’ve been on
enough flights into Boston to recognize those landmarks. Could be
our goddess didn’t know where in the world that was, but it was
what she could see when she looked for you, so it was what she
showed me.”
Ash balanced at the very edge of the bed, leaning forward with
her hands on her thighs as though about to spring up. “So that’s
it? Without being high or anything? You expect me to believe you
challenged her, and she told you where I was?”
Cleo shifted uneasily, her bravado faltering. “I can’t swear it
wasn’t just my imagination. And a whole lot of wishful thinking.
But here I am, and here you are.”
The tense expression on Ash’s face was unreadable. Cleo had
always been able to sense her moods before, but not this time. She
forged on. “Look, if she didn’t tell me, nobody did. Not the major,
not anybody, if that’s what you’re thinking. As far as I know nobody
else knows where you—we—are. Maybe it was just a lucky guess.”
Ash’s tension visibly eased. “You were right about the plane.
What I saw out the window.” She leaned back, arms braced behind
her, and worked her modified cowboy boots off her feet. Then she
swung her long legs onto the bed and stretched them out. Those legs
in baggy camouflage fatigues had made Cleo’s pulse pound. In snug
blue jeans they made her crotch damp, too.
A smile flickered at the corner of Ash’s mouth. “I was
experimenting with moving the clouds apart so I could see below,
and wishing you could watch me doing it.”
“Wow!” Cleo was appropriately awestruck. “Do you think you
could make the clouds give rain?”
“Always one step ahead of me! But there are too many factors
involved in that besides movement. Besides, there’s the whole
unintended consequences thing. What if I couldn’t make it stop?”
 “I dunno, you’ve always been so good at making things not stop.”
Cleo wriggled in the chair again, this time with clear erotic intent. “I
was kind of wondering, if it was a lucky guess that let me find you,
just how lucky can I get?”
“I’ll have to think about that.” Ash looked intently at the dusty
Army boots Cleo still wore. Slowly and sensuously, the laces untied
themselves. Cleo would never have believed bootlaces could be sexy,
but they sure were now. She kicked off the boots.
“You say you stripped for the goddess?” Ash was still five feet
“Just my shirt and—ah!” Buttons rapidly unbuttoned themselves.
Cleo felt, actually felt, Ash’s hand slide beneath her sports bra and
cup her breast. She was still trying to process that sensation when
her belt buckle unclasped and the zipper on her jeans slid down. She
gasped as the invisible hand pushed its way under her boxers. “Ah!
Uh, been getting a lot of practice, have you?”
“Not like this,” Ash said, “except in dreams.”
“Dreams? When? I had a dream…it was so real…”
But “when” didn’t matter. “Now” was everything. She stood,
shrugged off her shirt and bra, wriggled out of jeans and boxers, and
made it to the bed and onto Ash in one leap. They rolled together,
laughing and gasping, until Cleo paused on top. “I like to do things
the old-fashioned way.” Her fingers got Ash’s shirt unbuttoned
almost as fast as hers had been, made quick work of the rest, and
then her skin moved against every inch of Ash she could manage
while her mouth ranged from lips to throat to breast and back again.
“So nice to have a bed,” she murmured against Ash’s ear.
“Nicer than in Paris?” Ash flipped Cleo over and started nibbling
down from her breasts to her belly.
“Nothing could be nicer than Paris, but wherever we are now is
always the best,” Cleo said, then yipped at a nip in a tender place.
“Nothing could be better than now,” she went on between gasps,
“even twisting around like pretzels in the…in the jeep when that was
the only place we had… Oh!” She arched her hips into the pressure
of Ash’s tongue, infuriatingly fleeting. Ash lifted her head and swung
their bodies crossways on the mattress.
“And the bed is wide enough for this,” Ash panted, rolling them
together from its head to its foot and back again, over and over. The
frantic pressure of body on body, hollow on curve on skin slippery
with sweat and arousal, felt so good that it was hard to stop, until
the hunger for even more intensity where it was needed most grew,
and swelled, and couldn’t be denied.
“Let me…” Cleo managed to raise up enough to press her face
down into Ash’s belly, then moved up to her full breasts and went
back and forth from one to the other, worshipping them with lips,
tongue, even gentle teeth, feeding on the tantalizing swelling of their
tips, until Ash moaned and thrashed and tugged Cleo’s head down
between her thighs.
Hands, tongue, lips, Cleo burrowed her whole face into that
demanding heat, where every slick, sensitive inch pulsed with hunger
for more, harder, harder, more, please! No drawing the pleasure out,
as they used to do in the jeep, in the desert; it had been too long now
to wait. Ash arched her hips, moving them to a demanding rhythm,
and with Cleo’s fingers inside her and Cleo’s mouth impelling her
clit to a frantic hardness, she screamed out her wordless triumph.
Cleo stroked Ash with increasing gentleness as she floated down
from that peak, her kisses light on Ash’s skin, keeping the brakes on
her own need. But when Ash recovered enough for her breathing to
slow, she flipped over and devoted herself to Cleo’s pleasure.
The small breasts, so easily concealed, could tighten and swell
and fill a lover’s mouth as enticingly as any other woman’s. Her taut
buttocks were a perfect fit for Ash’s hands. She raised Cleo’s hips, ran
her own still-rigid breasts one by one along Cleo’s glistening folds,
teasing as long as she dared, then responded to her lover’s desperate
pleas with firm strokes of tongue and fingers and an even tighter
hold on her buttocks. Cleo erupted in cries increasingly shrill, all
control abandoned in ways she would never have allowed anyone
but Ash to hear.
“Shall I stop now, or not?” Ash said when Cleo could focus again.
 “Just…just hold me now.”
So they held each other, breathing each other’s essence, until
sweat and the lubrication of their pleasure cooled and they burrowed
under the blankets. Cleo could feel the bond they’d had renewed,
and strengthened. She could even sense what Ash was thinking while
they were this close together, but some things still needed to be
spoken out loud.
“Cleo,” Ash murmured, “nothing is worth giving you up.
Nothing. I was a fool. You, being with you, is the only thing that
feels like home. Like being me.”
“I know,” Cleo said sleepily. In a few minutes she roused, though,
and said, “So what have you been up to? Saved any of the world yet?”

So where do the Kurds come in, you may ask, if you’ve managed to slog through this far? Part Three, that’s where.

It’s complicated, to say the least. Ash and Cleo are recruited by a Kurdish Colonel, Razhan, for a secret mission to rescue several hundred captive women held inside the reinforced walls of the ruins of an ancient fortress in the desert, surrounded by fields of land mines. Any romantic interludes in this section are muted, and they’re seldom alone together, at first planning and training with a few others in a secluded valley high in the Zagros Mountains, and then with Ash on a crag overlooking the fortress using her powers to wreak destruction on its walls while Cleo, having deliberately let herself be captured along with allies, using her tactical and martial arts on the inside.

But enough of that. What I want to do here is give some idea of the history of the Kurds and Kurdistan. These next two excerpts are attempts to do that without lengthy descriptions.  

“Nice! Recommended by former travelers, I see.” Cleo looked along
the stretch of rock wall where words, probably names, had been
chipped with tools or scrawled with charred sticks in the time honored
tradition of “Kilroy was here.”
Mac, also surveying the marks, spoke Cleo’s thought aloud in her
own inimitable style. “Ah yes, ‘I write my name, therefore I am.’”
The sun was so low now that its rays slanted deep into the cave.
“I am happy to see that there are no very recent names here,” Razhan
said. Her stern look at Ariya, who had been there two years ago, said
clearly that there had better not be. Ariya’s response was a smile of
exaggerated innocence.
“Kurdish…Turkish…Armenian…hmm, could be Italian.”
Razhan turned back to them. “There are caves in the more travelled
parts of these mountains, passes that were trade routes for thousands
of years, where Romans trapping our bears and lions for their
gladiator arenas left their marks in Latin.”
“Bears and lions?” Cleo managed to sound merely curious, which,
on the whole, she was. Bears were familiar from her New Hampshire
home; you just had to keep your food where they couldn’t possibly
reach it, hang it in bags on high ropes between trees when you were
camping. But lions? The fire pit in front of the cave might have more
significance than she’d thought.
“All gone, long ago. They say a few bears are left, in the farthest
reaches, and we have leopards that may not be quite extinct, but no
lions. Gone. Just as the great cedar forests were ravaged to build the
palaces of sultans and caesars.”
Ariya nodded agreement as Razhan spoke. This was the history
taught in Kurdish universities, Cleo guessed. How strange it must
be to belong to a land where mankind had lived and died, come
and gone, and ravaged more often than not, for so many millennia.
Not that her own country’s history had been all that different, but
the ravaging by Europeans of the indigenous cultures there had
happened a few hundred years ago instead of thousands.

And one more, the last (at last!) when Cleo wonders whether she should dye her red hair to pass as a Kurdish woman when she gets captured.

Razhan’s face was just perceptible in the faint glow from the
dashboard. “We’ll darken it a bit with nut juice, to keep you from
attracting too much attention, but red hair is not unknown here.
Those Roman and Greek and even Nordic travelers who took so
much from these mountains left traces behind them as well. A girl in
town has red tints to her hair, as have her mother and grandmothers
through many generations. We also have fair-haired people. Prick a
Kurd and you see the blood of the world.”

So there it is, my long-distance affair with the Kurds. But even without that, even if I had never researched and written about them, my heart would still ache for them now.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Red Rising: A Disturbing Look in the Mirror?

I just finished binge reading the first five books of Pierce Brown’sbrilliant Red RisingSeries, and now I’m waiting impatiently for the next book. Although to be honest, I really need a break to breathe, to reflect, and to recover from five books worth of gut-wrenching, nail-biting, unputdownable intensity. 

Brown says his inspiration for the series was the plight of Irish immigrants in the 19th century and the disenfranchisement of the working classes, though it was Sophocles’ tragedy, Antigon,ethat inspired the beginning of Red Rising. It is when the hero of the story, helldiver, Darrow, forfeits his life to bury his wife, who has been hanged for singing the forbidden death song of her people, that he is literally remade as the ultimate weapon by the Sons of Ares resistance movement. Darrow’s people, the Reds, are the lowest social rank in the highly stratified Empire. They have been taught that they are suffering pioneers and heroes of the Empire. The Reds are the expendable work force living their lives entirely underground on Mars, where they labour in the treacherous helium 3 mines. Helium 3 is essential for terraforming. But Mars has long been terraformed into a paradise to which the Reds have neither access or knowledge -- all accomplished through the sacrifices of generations of their people. Darrow’s task is to earn acceptance into the training institute for the elite of the controlling class known as Golds. To call the Institute Hogwarts in Hell is an understatement. Darrow must survive and complete the horrific training in order to infiltrate the upper echelons of Gold society and implement the Sons of Ares’ plan of a takeover from within.

The series chronicles the horrendous cost of the fight for liberation that leads to revolution and the destabilization of a society. In the paying of that price, the lines between heroes and villains become blurred. What are desperate people willing to do to free themselves from tyranny, and at what point does the rebel become the tyrant, or even the monster? Can a new world rise without the destruction of the old? Because Brown’s Red Rising series is written on a solar system-wide scale, that question is larger than life and addressed clearly and brutally. 

No one gets away unscathed, and the cost is often devastating. All of the horrors of war and its aftermath that have been brought into our living rooms since television first broadcast the Vietnam War are amplified in Brown’s novels and made both more shocking and more impersonal by the wholesale use of nuclear weapons capable of destroying entire planets. 

Darrow, later known as the Reaper, beautifully inhabits the role of both the flawed saviour, and the villainized mass murderer, who carries on his shoulders the dream of his people and the annihilation of an ordered way of life. Even at his darkest moments, he is relatable in his humanity and his longing for family and home. All of the characters are multi-dimensional and full of flaws and quirks that always surprise. They humanize and ground a story that might have easily become a depersonalized look at war and the rise and fall of an empire. This series was definitely not escapist reading for me, and yet I couldn’t put it down. The story of Red Rising feels very much like Brown is holding a mirror up to readers in hopes that we’ll catch a glimpse of the price paid for a society where those of us in the middle may live happily and blissfully ignorant of the cost. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Catch It While You Can

By Tim Smith

For this month’s promo, I’d like to highlight another good book you probably haven’t read. “Catch and Release” is book 5 in my popular Nick Seven spy thriller series. I did a couple of different things with this one. All of the other installments take place primarily in the Florida Keys. I moved this one to Virginia Beach under the guise of Nick and Felicia taking a long trip on Nick’s cabin cruiser, up the eastern seaboard for a change of scenery.
The biggest change I made was taking the story focus off of Nick. The other stories involved something from his checkered past coming back to cause problems, with Felicia helping him with the crisis du jour. I decided that after four installments, it was time for Felicia to have her own adventure. This time, it’s something from her past career as a CIA spook that rises from the ashes, something she needs to resolve. In the previous installments, she has been a very strong supporting character, vital to the plots. This time out, Nick is relegated to helping her, like she has helped him previously.
“Former CIA spies Nick Seven and Felicia Hagens decided to take a break from the Florida Keys to enjoy the white sands and cool waters of Virginia Beach. Their relaxation comes to an abrupt halt when Felicia recognizes the notorious Russian criminal named Festov. But Felicia killed Festov six years earlier in Amsterdam—or so she thought. This unexpected appearance reveals a terrifying conspiracy with global implications. Is it really Festov or someone made up to look like him? Can Felicia and Nick stop Festov and his partners before they hatch their deadly plan?”
This story gave me the opportunity to explore Felicia’s character and history more thoroughly. She has a full, rich background, and I felt it was time to highlight it. I have always made her as tough and resourceful as Nick, but this caper delved deeper into her personality and mindset. It reveals more about her childhood on Barbados, including a few personal experiences that shaped her adult personality. The story also strengthens the relationship she has with Nick.   

Felicia sat on the beach with Nick, her knees pulled near her torso and her arms resting on them while she stared at the night sky over the ocean. A few birds did a call-and-response with each other in the distance, countering the sounds of others occupying the beach. Sure is peaceful out here. She glanced over at Nick, who had stretched out on the blanket and crossed his feet at the ankles.
“What made you think of doin’ this?” she asked.
“You did, when you told me how much fun you used to have on the beach back home.”
She leaned over and kissed him. “You’re sweet.”
He sat up, retrieved two PiƱa Colada wine coolers from the ice bucket then handed one to her. She took a swallow and resumed looking at the horizon. The evening breeze had cooled the sultry temps of daytime, making it tolerable. She pointed at a small flashing light high in the sky.
“What do you think?” she asked. “Star or satellite?”
“The romantic in me wants to say star.” He placed his hand on her cheek to turn her face toward his. “Our very own star, just looking over us.”
Felicia pushed him onto his back and kissed him. She peered into his eyes and ran her fingers along his brow and cheek. “You aren’t really such a hard-ass as you like people to think. Did you know that?”
Nick played with a strand of her hair. “Don’t let it get around.”
“Afraid someone might find out what a pushover you really are?”
“Yeah, that’s me. Carbon steel on the outside, cotton candy inside.”
Felicia glanced at three young women who had staked their claim a dozen yards away, trying to be articulate between sips of wine and puffs on the joint they passed around. The rancid-sweet smell of Colombian gold drifted through the air. The longer the women toked, the more heated their discussion became. From what Felicia could hear, it was a spirited debate on the pros and cons of anal sex. The pros argued that it was great as long as you used enough lube, while the one con held firm that afterwards she couldn’t sit comfortably for a week. This was followed by more toking and uncontrolled giggling.
“Interesting debate,” Nick commented.
“The things people argue about when they’re stoned.”
“What’s a beach party like back home?”
Felicia took a drink before answering. “Everybody brought somethin’ homemade and we’d have a big bonfire with a pot of crabs cookin’.” She grinned at the memory. “My uncle would get juiced and pour in a bottle of homemade rum for flavoring.”
“Did it help?”
“Not really, but the crabs enjoyed it.”
Nick laughed. “Guess that took the sting out of being boiled alive. What else happened?”
“After ev’ryone got their fill of crabs and fried plantains, and they passed around the jugs of wine, somebody would play music and people danced.” She leaned in close and lowered her voice. “Don’t tell anyone, but some of us would sneak off to go skinny dippin’.”
“So that’s where you learned not to wear clothes at the beach.”
She squeezed his knee. “Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”

This story has an intriguing plotline with more than a few twists and turns, including an eye-popping surprise ending. There’s fast-paced action, humor, atmosphere, romance and erotic encounters between two very likable, sexy characters. What more could you ask for? You can find it at the link below. Happy reading!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Doing My Husbandly Duty (#amreading #amreadingfantasy)

by Cameron D. James

It's been a literal year since I've finished reading a book (other than the books I read for work). I remember packing for a vacation to Australia a year ago and taking along two paperbacks I knew I'd like.

I was so angry with both books that I put them down unfinished. One is a thriller by an author who has a serious "bury the gays" problem and when I saw the antagonists were a gay couple, I knew we'd have a repeat. The other was a sci-fi novel that, among other things, was exploring racial tensions. I put it down when someone went on a very public racist tirade against their coworker, and their boss basically said to the racist guy "Take it easy on him!" That was it. No other follow-up. A racist tirade like the one depicted in that book should have led to an immediate dismissal. It certainly would in modern day context, so I'd expect the same in a utopian future. I was disgusted, so I closed the book.

Anyway, after that, I really got out of reading. I tried to read a couple other books but quickly lost interest. Everything I picked up was either boring or I had a big complaint about it.

Then my husband John Robin published his fantasy debut A Thousand Roads.

I picked it up and read it and kept reading it. I'm almost done -- less than a hundred pages in this 590-page book.

This book has been a journey for John. He wrote the first draft shortly after we started dating about seven years ago. He wrote it, revised it, had an offer from a small publisher, felt it wasn't ready for the world, shelved it, wrote something else, came back to it, rewrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it, and rewrote it some more. He's pulled late nights and all-nighters working on this. It's taken up his daytimes, his evenings, and his weekends. He's poured everything he has into it.

And it paid off.

The difference between the first draft I read seven years ago and this now-published final copy is stark. The core story is still there -- the most important part. But the storytelling has matured a lot over seven years. While the first draft was really good, this final book is fantastic.

Of course I'm supposed to say that because I'm the devoted husband. But even if I wasn't, I would still say the same.

A Thousand Roads follows Jak, an orphan youth who always seems to have those who love him torn away from him. When a dark power rises and the world readies for the evil to come, Jak finds that people are out to get him. Someone wants him... for something.

Armed only with a sword that his mentor gave him before dying, he ventures out into the world in search of escape. He wants peace. He wants his books. He wants family.

In his quest for escape, he meets people who promise to help him, but he soon learns that everyone has a nefarious plan. Everyone wants to use him for their own purposes. Including the dark lord himself.

Find out more at John's website.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Ariadne’s Diary: I’m in Love with my Teacher! A New #Lesbian #Erotica Novel from @GiselleRenarde

If you follow me on Twitter, you've heard me mention the "lesbian smut books" I've been writing.

This is the first in that series.

The series is called "The Lesbian Diaries" and it premieres with my novel "Ariadne's Diary."

I've written three "Lesbian Diaries" so far, and Ariadne's is by far the smuttiest. If you're looking for erotica with lots of sex scenes, this is it. The story's about an 18-year-old student who can't keep her panties on around her sexy teacher. Her brain turns to mush thanks to Ms. Bambini's magnificent breasts, which spells trouble for her grades. She might not even graduate--that's how dire her situation has become.

Luckily, Ms. Bambini is willing to help... in any and every way possible.

If you need a break from everything that's going on in the world, I hope you'll turn to my new book for a dose of escapism.

Enjoy this first-in-series. Every book will feature different characters and situations, but they will all be written in diary form.

Ariadne’s Diary
I’m in Love with my Teacher!
by Giselle Renarde
Series: The Lesbian Diaries
Book: 1

Ariadne is desperate for love, and she wants her teacher to give it to her.

Ms. Bambini’s about as buxom as they come. Just the sight of her in those silky white blouses and black leather skirts sends Ariadne’s brain to fantasy land. How can anyone be expected to concentrate with Ms. Bambini at the head of the class?

When Ariadne’s grades slip into the danger zone, Ms. Bambini offers up some most unusual tutoring sessions. Ariadne never imagined her life would head down such a torrid path, but will Ms. Bambini’s help become Ariadne’s downfall?

Lesbian fiction from award-winning queer Canadian author Giselle Renarde.

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The paperback should be available soon.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

On my way out the door - #AmReading #Erotica #Literature

Funhouse cover

By Lisabet Sarai

By the time you read this post, I’ll be in China.

As I write this, it’s already 9PM, I’m leaving at noon tomorrow, and I haven’t even started packing.

Hence, this is going to be a somewhat perfunctory post. I hope you’ll forgive me.

Our topic this month is “What are you reading?” I’d love to spend pages on this, as I’ve been engaged in some juicy books, but I’ll just give you the short version.

I just finished Funhouse, the seventh book in Aurelia T. Evans’ incredible Arcanium series. Arcanium is a demonic circus controlled by ancient djinn Bell Madoc, a perversely charming chameleon who gets his kicks fulfilling people’s casually expressed wishes in ways that bind them to the circus. In general, I’m not a fan of series; I find that after a few books, they become overly formulaic and lose their zest. I’m still enchanted by Arcanium, though, largely due to its moral ambiguity.

Horrible things happen in Arcanium. People are disfigured, tortured, even devoured. The demons who populate the Oddity Row and perform under the big top don’t subscribe to any sort of human moral code. They’re happy to feed their lusts on human flesh and even human life. The humans who have attacked Arcanium and are in the process of being punished can be even more reprehensible.

At the same time, Arcanium offers a sort of sanctuary for individuals who really don’t fit in the outside world, as well as a path to self-knowledge. Neve, the protagonist in Funhouse, is a fine example. A brilliant PhD biologist who happens to also be a voluptuous redhead, Neve has never felt sexual desire. She marries Joseph because they enjoy one another’s company and have similar tastes – both are fans of Rocky Horror and H.P. Lovecraft – but though she tries to satisfy her husband, she feels no physical pleasure herself. This tears their marriage apart and brings Neve into Arcanium, when she wishes, in Bell’s presence, that she could “experience sex the way her husband wants her to do”. She becomes a sexually insatiable creature, suffering constant torment from the simple sensation of clothing on her super-sensitive skin. Arcanium is drenched in sexual tension, and Neve could easily find partners among the demons or the humans, but having been objectified all her life due to her opulent body, she resists.

I liked Neve a lot, but the actual plot in Funhouse wandered a bit. In particular, I found the end a bit unsatisfying, since there’s no real resolution to Neve’s dilemma, other than her increasing acceptance of her abnormal state.

Nevertheless, I’m sure I’ll purchase Haunted, the next installment, since I gather it continues Neve’s story.

In a very different vein, I’m within thirty or forty pages of finishing Riven Rock, by T.C. Boyle. Boyle is an incredibly creative and diverse author. Each of his books is a thoroughly new experience. This one, one of his earlier novels, riffs on the historical characters of billionaire Stanley McCormick and his wife Katherine Dexter, suffragette and woman’s rights advocate. Always a sensitive child, dominated by his mother, Stanley falls prey to the hereditary schizophrenia that destroyed his older sister. In Stanley’s case, the dementia has strong associations with sexual desire and sexual guilt. Katherine is forced to sequester him at their Santa Barbara mansion Riven Rock, where he is not allowed to interact with women at all. There he languishes for decades, defying all attempts to "cure" him.

The book vividly portrays the erratic and constantly changing nature of psychosis. It’s also a wonderful portrait of America during the first half of the twentieth century. Katherine and Stanley are both sympathetic characters; I would like to hope for a happy ending, though it seems unlikely.

The true brilliance of the novel, though, lies in the contrast between Stanley and his long-time male nurse, Eddie O’Kane. Eddie is, at various times, a womanizer and a drunkard, but unlike Stanley, he has the agency to change his behavior and his life. In a way, Eddie provides a mirror for Stanley, suggesting that the core symptom of insanity is the inability to recognize it in one’s self.

I’m leaving Riven Rock behind on my bedside table, to finish when I return. Instead, I’m taking two used volumes that have been on my shelves for a while: The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks and The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka. I’ve read work by both these authors and enjoyed it. Banks’ The Bridge, in particular, is amazing, mysterious, evocative and intense. Apparently The Wasp Factory was his first novel.

Meanwhile, Lewycka’s A Short History of Tractors in the Ukraine was laugh out loud funny. I’m hoping this book is as good.

And now I really have to go pack!