Friday, October 31, 2008
Yeah, it's available.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
Catherine McAllister didn't expect to be widowed in Indian Territory, her husband dead in a freak accident. When her neighbor and best friend Amanda is left alone as well, the women move in together. Soon, they find friendship was the least of it, and settle in as a married couple to make a go of their joint homestead.
When zombies begin devouring their livestock, they treat the invaders like any other predator. Aided by Amanda's mother-in-law, Half-Moon, Catherine leads the local homesteaders in defense of all their wives and children.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
It is thirteen miles by interstate from the insane asylum in Danvers to Route 113, which takes the traveler into the ancient city of Newburyport. The old coast road through Innsmouth, Rowley and Ispwich is longer, older and much narrower. The sprawling Boston metroplex sends out squamous suburbs, growths that threaten to swallow the whole of the state. Already, the twisting streets and oddly uniform houses creep down Highway One to Providence and up Route Three to Nashua. The world seems very small and urban and hardly the place for fear and the unnameable. The Space Age and Information Age have both come and gone.
So, of course, no one would have believed the two older men who stepped out of the little Ford wagon, on this gorgeous spring morning of the Lower Miskatonic Valley, were anything other than human.
“I don’t like it, elf,” Corin Faw growled at his half-Sidhe mate as he looked up and down the street of Arkham Massachusettes. “It smells wrong. All kinds of wrong.” He sniffed again. Under the smells of spring melt and damp earth, under tulips and hyacinth and green leaves and pear blossoms, he scented decay and death and something that whispered of seas and stars and things best left undisturbed at the bottom of them.
Cian O’Brian came around the car to his mate. “Arȗn, my own sweet wolf, it is wrong. There is ancient evil here. Here is where we are needed.”
“Aye,” Corin growled, his nose still twitching. He unlocked the hatch. “We’re to fight evil from a tea shop. And not just a tea shop, but Miska-Tonics Tea and Herb Shoppe.” He pronounced the extra p and e with scorn.
Still, he had to admit that there was nothing wrong with the two-story frame building whose gambrel roof, butted back against a hill, almost to the point where a person could climb the hill and right onto the roof. The colorful sign on the veranda, the daffodils and hyacinth dancing in the flowerbed and the lace curtains in the windows gave the place a cheerful air, even if it did look a bit like that place in Amityville which was on the market suspiciously cheaply. The spring woods, just showing the first yellow-green leaves, came right to the back door.
“Love, you know the Sight is not always clear. It took us to Memphis for Danior and now it brings us here. Take what comes.”
Corin growled again. The bites and wounds he had taken last fall in Memphis, in futile defense of Danior and his pack from the ravening power-thirst of Danior’s uncle Zoltan, still ached on damp days. He was not a young wolf any more. He got the bags from the car, making sure Cian saw the bite-scar on his arm from Zoltan’s teeth. “Not playin’ fairy godfather to pair of pups again, I’m not.” His brogue thickened, as it always did when he was irritable.
Cian laughed at him and lifted a portfolio of papers from the front seat. “Of course not. And you didn’t instigate the last game of Tail-Chase with them either.”
“Yer in trouble, elf,” he snorted.
Cian gave his most charming smile and Corin felt the faintest tingle of sidhe magic at the edges of it. “Have I told you I love you recently?”
“Ah, you'll not get out of this with your flattering fae tongue, O'Brian.” Corin set the bags down at the foot of the stairs. “More stairs. You couldn't find a place with the apartment in the back? Just how good do you think my knees are in my old age?”
Cian laughed and ruffled Corin's grizzled hair. He set down the last box of fragile knick-knacks and picked up his suitcase. “I'll make sure the next one has living quarters adjoining, Corin darling.” He caught the glance Corin shot the bed when they reached the loft apartment and laughed again as he put his suitcase in closet. “And shall we break the house in proper? Or at least the bedroom?”
Corin growled low in his throat and set the last boxes down. “Insatiable fae,” he rumbled. He caught Cian and pressed him to the covers. It was the new moon, so he was at his most human, with no threat of the wolf. Despite this, he did love pouncing.
“Aye, always, love.” Cian drew him down for a kiss, his hands in Corin's thick, graying hair.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Of all the djinn in all the deserts of Arabia, Arqam was the most curious. He never passed a human dwelling, as he rode the night winds, without stopping to peer inside. He never passed a chest or jar, but he had to peek within.
All the elder djinn said he would come to bad end and it was his grandmother's human blood making him such trouble. None of them were surprised the day he was taken.
Arqam had ventured far to the east, leaving behind the sand and oases of his native Arabia, into the lush jungles of India, where the foreign white men ruled the local people. He listened to the clipped accents of the English, the soft music of the Indians. He peered into bungalows and huts, disregarding the privacy of Her Royal Majesty's Major General and the lowest of the pariahs with equal aplomb.
He watched the brown women in their colorful saris and the pale ones covered and corseted and fainting in the heat. He watched the men as they worked. In time, he grew sleepy and made a hammock of vines near the outskirts of a small village.
As he lolled in the steaming night, a distant cousin found him. “Arqam,” it hissed, its low guttural voice making him uneasy.
“Yes?” He peered over the edge of the hammock and saw what had addressed him. Although ghuls were a sort of djinn, Arqam's people had little contact with them. They served Iblis and haunted the graveyards. His folk lived invisible in the air. Arqam looked around but saw no graves. “May I help you, cousin?”
“I am Shahib, the fire that consumes the dead. Why do you wander so far away? No mind, all have heard of Arqam, how he sticks his long beautiful nose into every house and everyone's business.” The ferocious little grey thing crouched beneath his hammock. “I'd check your curiosity soon enough, pretty cousin.” Shahib's laugh was ugly and he batted at the hammock.
Arqam did not move from the hammock. As long as he stayed within, the protective spells would not let Shahib touch him. Shahib tried again, and the breeze of his hand's passage disturbed Arqam. Arqam looked down at the hideous creature, grey and snarling beneath him, its corded arms too long, like a hyena's front legs.
“Leave, Shahib. Follow the vultures and find some carrion. You do not feast upon djinn this night.” Arqam rolled over and pretended to sleep.
From below him, he heard the evil chuckling of the ghul. “A pity. It is said the djinn know more of congress than even the sensualists of India. But I do not tempt you, my pretty cousin.”
Arqam feigned sleep. He felt the hammock quake where Shahib shook one tree as he departed. But he remained safe, and in time, he fell asleep.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Johnny Cotton had to get out. Out of the Delta, out of Arkansas, out of the whole lousy South, if he could manage it. So, one fine fall evening, after the cotton was in, when Daddy was drunk and Mama was over visiting at his grandma's, Johnny slipped out and hiked along route 50.
The moon rode fat and full through scudding little ghost clouds and he didn't need the flashlight. His backpack felt easy on his back and his guitar case banged softly against the backs of his thighs. He'd pick up 149, get down to US 79 at Hughes and hitch a lift into Memphis and from there to Nashville.
But Johnny been up since before dawn, and put in a full day's work getting in the cotton. His legs felt like they were slogging through bayou mud, and more than once he drifted off the shoulder of the highway and nearly stumbled into a cypress slough as he dozed while walking.
He made it as far as Greasy Corner, a crossroad where 50 and 149 came together. Years ago, there had been a couple little country stores. Now the kudzu choked the deserted buildings and the plywood over the door was long gone.
Johnny let himself in, figuring to take a little nap and make the last three miles in the morning. More traffic by daylight anyway, he decided. Tomorrow, he'd be in Nashville, on Music Row. He spread out his blanket and was asleep almost before he had lain down.
The harsh cough of diesel air brakes and the whine of the engine woke him. He looked out of the broken window to see a big black Peterbilt stopped in front of the building. The moonlight glinted off the chrome smoke-stacks and bumper and tanks, and picked out the silver scroll-work that read “Speed Demon, Lou and Lil Schiffer, owners,” on the door. Bettie Page in a sexy devil costume smiled from the side of the sleeper.
The woman opened the driver's side door and climbed down. She stretched, and Johnny could do nothing but watch. All long legs and long black hair in a ponytail; her skin gleamed ivory in the moonlight. She looked around and her eyes landed on the abandoned gas station. Johnny couldn't tell their color, only that they looked like dark pits that could swallow him. He was ready to be swallowed up.
When Lou came around the front of the truck, Johnny got a shock. With that name, he'd been expecting someone short and dumpy, like Lou Costello or the cartoon mouse version of him that Johnny was used to seeing. Lou was as gorgeous as Lil, tall and saturnine, a dark beard and mustache framing a fully and sensual mouth, nicely built under the tight T-shirt and tighter jeans. The silver edge of moonlight seemed to caress that bulge as he came around and kissed Lil.
They both smiled at the old gas station. Johnny knew they couldn't see him, but it sure felt like he was naked in front of them.
“Hello, Johnny. Why don't you come out and be social?” Lil's voice was honey and velvet and all the sexy things that Johnny knew he'd never get back on the farm. His cock stood right up and took notice, but he didn't move. Midnight at the crossroads, whispered a little voice that sounded like his late grandpa, the preacher. You know what that means, boy. Oh fucking hell, Johnny thought.
And that sentiment grew very literal as Lou got hold of Lil again and kissed her harder, stroking her curves and opening her shirt. Her pale white breasts almost glowed in the moonlight. She turned to the station again, letting Johnny have a good look at her.
“So, Johnny, are you coming out, or shall we come in?” she asked
“I'm coming out,” he said, the words out before he realized he was speaking.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
“Please, can you tell me where I am?” The young man’s voice was slightly accented, almost musical.
“You’re outside Egypt. What are you, blind?” Zach had no time for beggars or foreigners.
“As a matter of fact, yes.” This was accompanied by a sweet smile and the appearance of a white cane.
Zach looked more closely and realized the man’s odd blue eyes did not focus. They tracked some as he spoke, but they never seemed to settle on him.
“You’re at 45th Street and Euclid. You want me to call you a cab? This isn’t a good neighborhood.”
He smiled again, making Zach swallow with the desire to taste that lovely white smile. “I’d much rather you helped me into the club? It has been a long time since I danced.”
“Can you dance?”
“Most assuredly. I must, however, have some small assistance in reaching dance floor and the bar.”
Zach’s eyes narrowed. “Are you asking me to be your date?”
The man’s laugh was as musical as his speech. “Not at all. Merely that you aid me in getting a drink and finding the dance floor.” He ran his hand up his prey’s arm. “I’d be very grateful.”
Zach thought about it. He was curious to see what the blind man could do on the dance floor. He shrugged. “Come on then. I’m Zach.”
“Adrien.” His accent was charming, southern of some sort. He tucked his hand into Zach’s offered elbow, and felt ahead with his cane.
Adrien was a wine-drinker, to Zach’s amusement, and wasn’t bad on the dance floor. He stayed in one spot, moving barely three steps in any direction, doing something that looked like the bastard child of the hustle and the cha-cha.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Today's is from "Prey" collected in the out-of-print Monsters anthology.
There it lurked, hulking atop a low rise, half hidden by overgrown tress and out-of-control weeds. Old Baptist Hospital with its wide lawns, iron fence and empty windows loomed at the intersection where Pauline ran into Crump, a photographer’s dream of light and shadow.
I drove by it a lot, my eyes always shifting to it of their own accord, but on this late autumn afternoon, I finally stopped to shoot. No one stopped me as I drove up the old drive, running over the weeds that came up over my bumper. I parked out by a building with a huge smokestack labeled “Hope Clinic.” My cynical side made me wonder just what sort of “hope” the clinic peddled.
I wandered the grounds, shooting the broken-out windows, the long shadows, the overgrowth and desolation. I got a pretty decent shot of my shadow next to the entrance sign, heading for the missing door. After two rolls, I got up my nerve to venture inside.
“This is stupid, Michael. Don’t do it,” I whispered to myself. Ignoring my good advice, I walked the sickly green halls, taking pictures of the empty rooms, shooting them so they’d look like antechambers of Hell. Trees were framed at just the wrong angle in the windows. The light was getting chancier and I took advantage of the shadows and unexpected illuminations.
The building had been used as shelter by transients. Bits of fires, graffiti, the occasional den in a sheltered corner where the remaining doors could be closed for protection from the wind and ice. I caught a few of these. The Flyer always ran a heart-tugging story on homelessness when the weather started getting cold.
I shot some of the graffiti. Most of it was basic crude intaglios: initials, drawings, dates. There were some more skilled artworks. One in particular made my skin crawl. I didn’t recognize it, but I shot it anyway. It looked sort of like a summoning seal, but I’d never seen one with eight points. The language around the edges looked like Latin and I figured I could translate once I got it developed.
The seal had me curious, but it made me nervous at the same time. A low-grade stomach churn and the skin crawling on my neck like It was watching me–whatever It was. I’d see what I could find in the occult section at work. I finished the roll and got back in my Beetle. I drove out of the gate as darkness fell, and straight to the nearest bar.
After two drinks, my hands stopped shaking and I poured myself back into the bug and drove home. I’d develop the pics after work. I didn’t feel like fooling with it right now.
I didn’t feel like eating either, so I just went to bed.
So pretty this one. Oh, Lord of Lust, let him... no, he didn’t touch the seal. Damn. Ah! A picture. Now that I can work through. Yes, and he’s a developer sort. When he develops that one he’s mine. Mother Lillith, why do you put such mortals so near yet so far, like the temptations of Heaven? Is it to remind us Winged Ones that we can have neither?
He’s sleeping now. Father Asmodeus won’t mind if I take a peek. Hm! Bisexual. He dreams of pretty redhaired girls and pretty blond boys at the same time. I wonder which way he’d like me better? The succubus shape never feels as right as my incubus form. Most demons are neuter, and we Winged Ones switch as the mood takes us. But a few, like me, have a distinct preference. I am male.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Let me start with a quote from Poppy Z. Brite's LJ: Only 2% of authors make enough to live on. And only 2% of them get rich."
I did some counting over the weekend.
I'll have 17 things published this year. (Two are forthcoming)
So far, I've made about $1200. That's royalties for the first half of the year, plus July and August for the houses that pay monthly.
My best seller, "For Love of Etarin" has sold 692 copies.
My worst seller, "Pushing the Boundaries of Reality" has sold 3.
I average about 92 sales/title with my main publisher.
Looks like it'll be a while before I start dusting off that pipe and slippers.
My day job? I make 720/week.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
In other news, "Leave it to the experts" has made the final round of elimination judging for Kerlak Press's dragon anthology.
Waiting on contract and edits:
"Meanwhile back at the ranch." (Torquere)
Currently waiting to hear:
Lord Withycombe and the Curse of the Pharaoh's Manicurists (Samhain)
All in the Merry greenwood (Ellora)
Ellora's Cavemen sub (Ellora)
Works in progress:
Alive on the Inside
Nick and Corban