Tag Archives: writing

Nominated for Evernight’s Best Paranomal Romance 2019

Freeing the Witch is nominated for an award (it was already an Editor’ Pick!)!

I’m so ridiculously thrilled about this. If you liked the book, please vote for it here:

Evernight’s Best Paranormal Romance 2019

Freeing the Witch is the hardest romance novel I’ve ever written since it’s about two people who are very different than me. They are shy and self-effacing and the kind of folks you want to get a happily-ever-after. Even though one a wolf and the other is a witch. So really its an Enemies to Lovers story, but with genuinely sweet people.

 

Emaula Whispel thought she’d be happy if she could live outside her mother’s magical stone tower, but when Emaula starts working as a chef at her friend’s trading post, she becomes smitten with Porter, her co-cook. Now Emuala’s magic is obsessed with possessing this quiet, charming wolf, and the budding witch has to fight to control her powers and her lust, to prevent her new friend from becoming her accidental victim.

If you’ve not read the book, click here to get it from Evernight or contact me. I still have a few author copies to give away!

 

Needle and Knife

This is a very disturbing story. Seriously, it involves baby mutilation. Not my usual romance.

But the full story won honorable mention in the horror category of the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Contest in 2018 So I’m sharing it here.

Needle and Knife

In Emilia’s dream, someone holds a baby. A brand-new white baby. Weak, inescapably male. Painfully blue eyes brimming with complete trust. He knows he will not fall.

The hands, which look so dark and brown against that new white flesh, tickle the baby’s ankle. The baby laughs. The big hand wraps around a tiny fat ankle and bends the chubby pink leg behind the baby’s back. He fusses. Blue eyes squint. He whines small and cute. The hand twists, folding the fat unformed bulb that will become the baby’s knee. Twists too far. The baby arches, curls, tries to pull his foot away from his back. He blurts annoyed squalls. Farther still. The baby cries.

Farther. New bone cracks.

The baby screams.

A knife glints against the baby’s breast and a bright bubble of blood appears over the new heart.

Emilia wakes, startled but soundless. She’s in the backseat of her grandfather’s car, head tipped back on the rich leather. It’s a North American car imported to Chile by a cargo freighter. Papi dozes beside her, her mother stares forward in the front seat, looking at the darkness of the Chilean countryside. Grandfather drives, she can see his soft brown hands on the wheel. Everyone in the car ought to hear the pulse of her heart, but no one does.

She wants to tell her nightmare, to hear comforting words, but she’s nearly nine and too old for such weakness. Her right hand still makes a tight fist, holding an invisible knife. Her left arm still curls as if cradling a new baby – her cousin, Vicente, she knows now that she’s awake.

To shake the dream, Emilia stretches her arms and leans forward to thrust her head between her grandfather and her mother. She smells strong coffee and catches the glow of her mother’s Blackberry.

Mother puts her hand on Emilia’s head and strokes her braided hair. Says nothing.

Grandfather whispers. “Is that my curious little snake?”

Emilia hisses at him.

“Go to sleep, Lia.” Mother glances over her shoulder at Emilia’s father. There’s no judgment, merely observation. Around Grandfather, Mother always looks at Papi as if he is a bird with a broken wing in a household of cats.

Emilia says. “Is this the Place of Gulls?”

“No,” Grandfather says. “We have to go into those mountains.”

Emilia presses her face to the car window and stares into the darkness of a countryside that is nothing like Santiago. This Chile is filled with an absence of life. No noise and no people. Nothing survives that does not understand hiding.

She always thought the night sky was black, the blackest black, but now she knows the only real darkness in the world is those mountains.

“Is that where our copper mine is, grandfather?”

Her mother speaks without patience. “You know it is. Be still and—”

“Yes, the oldest and greatest of the Vidal family mines.” Grandfather interrupts his daughter. “The one you’ll inherit.”

Mother watches Grandfather. The look of a sparrow watching an old hawk, waiting for him to dive and eat her young.

Grandfather notices but is not interrupted. “You’ll see it tomorrow. My grandfather burrowed into the earth and found the richest deposit of ore in all of Chile. He never mined half of it, because…”

“Copper dries up.” Emilia nods. “But people always want a bigger better roof over their heads.”

“Good girl.” Grandfather and Mother both say. All three of them smile but do not laugh.

The road jostles the American car and Papi snorts and blinks awake. Mother smiles, but Emilia frowns. It’s better when he’s asleep. She regrets this thought. It’s unkind, and Papi is nothing but kindness.

Papi gives her a goofy smile and tugs her hair as if she is not nearly nine. “Hey, Pretty Girl. Still awake?”

There had been something quiet, something special when it was only Grandfather, Mother, and herself in the stillness and the dark. Papi cannot tolerate the quiet.

“No, Papi, I’m dreaming. I’m a snake swimming in the mountains.”

Grandfather, Mother, and Papi all laugh at this. Papi laughs because his daughter is serious. Grandfather and Mother laugh so that Papi is not alone.

Then Papi tickles her and Emilia is the one laughing alone, joyful. The darkness of the mountains, the knife in her dreams vanish into the warmth of her father’s big brown fingers.

In Emilia’s dreams, she knows how to press the needle into the baby’s ear, how to angle it so that it pierces the flesh but does not bend when it hits the bone of its skull. She tugs the ear high and tall so that it will be sharp and attentive. It must hear the slightest rustling because it will not see.

The foot has grown through the baby’s chest and its toes wrinkle and clench as it squirms and whines. So much noise. Such a loud baby.

When the ears are stitched to the baby’s small head, blood trickles down the curves and into the canal. Emilia takes a moment to twist the baby’s neck. Soon its head will be able to turn entirely around, but for now, she’s only trained it halfway.

She cleans the blood from its ears, hushes and soothes the baby. She feeds it cat’s milk in a bottle. When the baby calms, she lays him on the wooden table and takes out her scissors.

Emilia pinches the baby’s tongue. It’s older now. Old enough to punch, but still tiny and weak. She uses the scissors to fork the tongue, and the blood gushes over the blade.

She cleans the scissors and feeds the baby a balm to heal its split tongue. Then the goat meat in mushed chunks to sustain it. Then the herbs and bone-powder to make it grow strong.

The baby calms as she rocks it on her shoulder.

The eyelids must be last. Glued with the proper balm. When Emilia is finished, those blue eyes will be clouded, and it will see only what she wants it to see. But that’s not for today. For today, she sings the baby ancient songs and massages its neck.

Emilia is alone in the hotel room in a bed large enough for two adults. Trembling at the darkness.

“Papi…” She whimpers, so cold and so empty in this place without skyscrapers and street lamps. She badly wants his goofy smile and his big voice. But she will not call for him because Mother can’t know she’s afraid of the dark.

So, Emilia feels the darkness getting closer, prickling at her skin.

Eventually, the sun breaks over the horizon and gray light spills into the room that hundreds of strangers have called their own. Emilia rises and opens her suitcase. Papi packed her favorite long-sleeve shirt, the one with the princess.

But she will see the copper mine today. So, she wears her new black sweater. She ties her hair into her mother’s bun.

Papi knocks softly and carefully creaks the door open. “Hey, Pretty Girl, you awake?”

She badly wanted his voice a few hours ago, but in daylight, she is annoyed.

“It’s morning, Papi. Why would I be sleeping?” Still, she smiles graciously, her mother’s smile. Her father recoils.

They have breakfast with Uncle and his wife. The woman, Anna, was from the warm coastlands of Chile where the people were white and the natives were few. The Vidals came from the south where the people were brown and had always owned the land.

Anna holds her baby as if he had wings. Everyone is polite, but she doesn’t belong. Mother and Grandfather look at her like wolves at a Chihuahua. Grandfather, Mother, and Uncle talk about the business, the buildings, the mines. Papi and Anna talk about babies. Anna worries that Vicente is only seven days old and shouldn’t be out in this cold. Papi assures her he will be safe.

Emilia watches the boy’s sleepy blue eyes and dreads his cries.

On the way to the mines, Mother hisses. “If that bitch thinks just because her baby has a prick he’s going to get any part of the business…”

“She doesn’t—”

“Dominic is weak, and his wife is weak, and their son will be weak.”

Papi stiffens the way he always does when Mother talks about weakness. He calms her with, “trust your father.”

This conversation would mean nothing to Emilia if it happened in Santiago. In Santiago, she was top of her class, she had ribbons and trophies. But as she walks through the copper mine with her hair in its tight bun, she sees only men and her cousin’s sleepy eyes.

Grandfather leaves his American car at the mine and drives a truck up the mountain. A trailer laden with two ATVs drags behind, chattering along, threatening to come undone and crash into Papi’s little car.

“Where’s he taking us?” Papi grumbles. “Anna shouldn’t be out this soon after giving birth.”

Mother says, “maybe there’s a restaurant on the mountain.”

Emilia looks out of the window at the mountains. The world is alive with green foliage and patches of snow. The darkness hides under the earth. It coils around unmined ore, shielding the shine of the copper from the sun.

There is no restaurant. They are going to the Place of the Gulls like Grandfather said.

Grandfather stops at a dirt trail beside a railing and sky. It’s cold as a refrigerator here. Santiago never felt this cold. Emilia put on her coat, which was meant for light rain and black and sleek as her grandfather’s fur-lined coat. She stands beside her mother looking down at Chile. She can hear the cry of seabirds, but she sees none.

“It’s too cold.” Anna climbs down from the truck, clutching Vicente as if he is a life-jacket and she is drowning.

“Stop worrying, darling,” Uncle says. What he means is stop being weak in front of the family.

“Let me hold the baby, Anna. Rest.” Mother can be gentle, but Mother can also lie. Anna doesn’t know the difference and gives Vicente to the other woman. The baby cries.

The sound frightens Emilia. So much like her dreams…

Determined not to feel the cold, she walks to her grandfather’s side. She points out to the valley and the highways. “Someone should build a proper road over this mountain. Then a big hotel with a ski resort right here.”

“Clever,” Grandfather says. “They’ve tried. I stop them.”

Emilia studies the wrinkles around his eyes and mouth. She waits for him to teach her more.

Grandfather says. “Get on the ATV.”

Her father and Uncle drove both ATVs off the trailer. Grandfather sits on the first in front of the cooler. Uncle straddles the second.

Mother sits on the ATV behind Uncle cradling Vicente.

Papi kisses Mother’s cheek then says to Grandfather. “Anything else, sir?”

“No.” Grandfather’s gentleness is more convincing than Mother’s when he waves at Anna sitting in the car, weak and drained and cold. “Take poor Annie back to the hotel.”

“Dominic, he’s only seven days old. We should—”

“Anna.” Uncle shows the family hardness. “You should rest.”

She cries.

Papi whispers softly with real kindness. Anna is soothed and heartsick. Then Papi says, “Come on, Lia. You sit up front.”

Emilia glares. She is not weak like her uncle’s wife.

But she thinks about the darkness hiding in the mountain and longs to sit beside her father and sing silly American songs as they drive away. The cloud of those dreams would lift. He little cousin would be another crying baby if she could only get in that car and drive away from the mountain.

“Come, Emilia.” Grandfather commands.

And she obeys.

The road is impassable at the end of the world. The dirty trail to the heart of the mountain turns into a wall of rock and thick trees and snow. No person could get through.

Grandfather stops at the edge of the stone wall. It was once taller. Over time, it has crumbled. Nuggets of raw copper at the base left like an offering.

Vicente squalls from hunger and cold. Uncle stays on his ATV and stares straight ahead, his face as stoic as the stone.

“You know, Lia, I’m not the oldest of my father’s sons.” Grandfather walks toward the wall.

“Really?” Emilia turns to her grandfather, respectfully, her back to the woods. Grandfather had always been the oldest in the stories. “What happened to your brother? Did he get sick?”

Grandfather smiles. “He was lost when he was a newborn.”

Emilia casts her eyes over to her cousin, Vicente. So small, so weak. “How did he die?”

The forest crawls behind her, but it is impolite to turn her back on her Grandfather, and he wants to watch the trees.

“He didn’t.” It’s not like him to talk in riddles or euphemisms. “He was lost. Have you heard of the Brujo chilote, my little snake?”

Emilia snorts. “Witches and monsters in baby stories.”

Her grandfather smiles, pleased. “That’s not so. They are very real.”

The Brujo Chilote are the sort of thing Papi would talk about before he pretended to eat her belly. Emilia looks to her mother for an explanation of Grandfather’s ridiculous claim.

Mother watches the forest with a mouse’s eyes, ready to run.

Emilia steels herself. This is a test. To see if she is gullible? To see how much she trusts him? She says nothing. Vicente cries, and Emilia’s stomach turns with the memory of a knife and needle.

“The Brujo chilote bought my older brother from my grandfather. Sold for good fortune, protection.” Grandfather goes on. “He was turned into an invunche.”.

Emilia does not know what that means. She senses there’s a weight to the word, a summoning power, as if it should conjure images of frightening stories from her childhood. But in Santiago, the monsters were tiny figures on a television screen, and Emilia had always changed the channel.

Emilia hears her mother swear and Grandfather dips his head to indicate for her to look toward the wilderness.

The invunche crouches on the stone, perched on one foot and steadied by two long arms. The other foot curls and uncurls from its chest where its heart ought to be. If it had once been human, it is no longer. Thick with muscles and grey hair, it sways, never still, always listening and tasting the air with its forked tongue. The head floats over its massive hairy shoulders as though the thick cord of its neck is only a string, tenuously attaching the weird and inhuman face to the rest of the contorted body. The eyes are white, seeming to see nothing until they fall on Emilia. The lips, the only truly untouched thing about the monster, smile.

Emilia does not scream when the monster launches into the air and lands before her. But she also does not run. The invunche, invited by her grandfather to steal his kin, sways on one foot and his great arms reach toward Emilia, capture her by her waist, lift her onto its back where she sees its other leg was once broken and sewn through the monster’s chest.

Her mother shouts not for Emilia, not in fear, but in betrayal. “You said it wanted the baby.”

Uncle also shouts. “You said you wouldn’t argue if it was your child.”

“Hush.” Grandfather does not shout.

The invunche carries her into the trees where no human thing could have passed. No human should smell so animal. No animal should move so quickly. Nothing that quick should be able to hold her so tightly.

Emilia never screams, but she punches. Its eyes depress under her fists like warm jelly. The massive jaw hurts her knuckles. The beast laughs, without human words, but with human understanding of her … weakness.

Enraged, Emilia bites the invunche’s ear, tearing at the scarred flesh. It howls with pain and gropes for her neck. She spits in its ear canal, then finds her scream. It is a weapon.

The invunche catches her neck and yanks her away. She grabs its hairy arm and bites until the howling echoes in her mind and the blood washes her eyes.

The soft voice comes from above, higher in the trees, from the very sky. “Put her down.”

The monster seethes with pain and rage, swaying in the vines. It wrenches its arm to hurl her to the ground.

“Gently. In her place.”

The invunche hops from vine to tree, moving back the way they came until it lands on the wall once more. It grunts unhappily and drops Emilia before the stone.

Emilia wipes its blood from her eyes and spits at it. She knows vulgar words to say, but Grandfather is watching, holding the baby. Uncle sits on the ATV which chugs softly. Emilia’s heart beats louder than a machine, but she returns to Grandfather’s side. Her mother touches her shoulder proudly.

The Vidals glare at the invunche and share the same thoughts. If I were a boy, if I were the eldest, if I had been chosen…

The beast cannot find stillness. The trunk of one leg roots firmly, but even its eyes float in its skull. Then it’s head swivels and stares above. There is a darkness moving in the shadows, something soft and powerful. Uncle rises unable to remain seated in the presence of something so awful.

“Your granddaughter is very brave, Espen.” The voice from the other world speaks.

“Thank you, sir. Yes, she is.”

Emilia has never heard her grandfather call someone sir.

The shadow perches upon the invunche’s back. The body of the thin man fits perfectly between the divot of the beasts’ back and the deformed leg as if the leg were a saddle. Without any command, the invunche crawls from the stone and leans towards Emilia’s mother.

“The eldest. You took great care she was female.”

Mother shivers but does not look away from the darkness. Grandfather says nothing.

The invunche sinks lower, and the faceless shadow considers Emilia. The shape has eyes like fire and angels and ice. “And she made certain her eldest was female.”

None of the Vidals speak.

“But someone made a mistake.” A thin finger, wrinkled and stained black, grazes Vicente’s cheek.

“Someone lied,” Uncle says.

The shadow does not care but reaches for the baby.

“What are you going to do?” Emilia demands.

Her mother’s fingers tighten on her shoulder. But Emilia can taste the blood of the invunche in her mouth, and she’s not afraid of her mother.

 “Why, I’ll feed him cat’s milk, goat flesh – unless man is available. I’ll raise him to be strong and obedient and carry me in unreal places like this.” The black fingers dismiss the mountain, all of Chile, all the world.

Those eyes, all the light and life of the world swirling in the blackness of the hood, twinkle at her. “But, I’ll start by breaking his leg.”

Emilia remembers her dream, and the darkness drenches her bones. “You’re evil.”

“Perhaps I’m only necessary. Your family knows that.”

Grandfather holds out the baby, transferring the fate of the newborn to the darkness.

Emilia’s heart stalls.

Then before the withered hands steal her tiny cousin, Emilia grabs Vicente.

“Emilia!” Her grandfather’s shout should freeze her blood.

Instead, she climbs on Uncle’s ATV, and turns the machine down the dirt road. She steers one-handed, cradling the newborn the way Anna did. Flying down the road, fleeing the mountain, the darkness, the chill in her bones, and the fear of her overwrought heart.

Vicente squalls, a sound familiar from her dreams and inevitable. Something grunts close behind the ATV, something loping on three feet, burdened by shadow.

Emilia feels the darkness in her mind. A twinge. A promise of strength, power. She could be like Papi, all kindness, but she would not be weak. She could protect the weak. So many lives she could touch, improve, strengthen. The Brujo Chilote would make it so. But only if she would surrender the squalling brat frozen in her arms.

Emilia nuzzles her cheek, wind-blasted from her flight down the mountain, against her cousin’s head. The softness of his hair and the force of his wail warm her face.

Lightning from the cloudless sky strikes a tree, and fiery branches tumble into the road. The conflagration surrounds the ATV at once, too fast, too neat to be natural.

Emilia wonders if there’s a way to steer the ATV through the fire, to jump the branches, to land unharmed on the other side. Then the invunche is in front of her, not behind.

It emerges from the fire, the silver hairs on its head and neck burning. Two fists swing over its head, slam down on the hood of the ATV. The machine cracks, jolts, and stops.

Emilia leaps off the ATV, keeping the invunche on the other side of the hissing machine, keeping Vicente supported and safe. The creature puts its hands on the seat and grins. Cold. Hard. A Vidal smiles. It hops over the machine.

She steps back away from the invunche as the darkness between the flames sits on the monster’s back. Vicente wails. Will he never stop crying?

There is no way through the fire, no way away from the beast, no way to protect the infant screaming in her ear.

Except to kill.

Emilia shifts one hand to Vicente’s neck, so fragile. Like chicken bones. Like twigs, she snaps for fun.

The invunche snarls and sags. The darkness watches her, and it waits. Her hand twitches to snap the infant’s neck. Her fingers won’t obey her command. She steels herself to try again.

The darkness slides off the invunche.  A toe touches the earth.

The fire is gone, and Emilia is in the dream. She’s walking down the corridor holding Vicente who gasps as he cries. The Brujo Chilote ride the invunche because her world is too thin to support their realness. How does she know that?  How did she survive the shattering of her world, the fall into someplace stronger?

Vicente calms as she soothes him. She sees the wooden table, the knife, the needle. She turns to look through the window to all the worlds.

The voice is soft behind her. “I want an heir.”

Emilia can see the gulls now, carrion birds feeding on whatever world they chose. The mountain looks down on other places not as real as this tower, and she understands power.

She cuddles Vicente close. “You tricked me.”

“I’ve waited for you.”

Emilia looks down at Vicente. Brand new, so pale. Painfully blue eyes. Trusting her not to drop him, or let his head fall.

She tickles his foot and Vicente gurgles and laughs.

“Someone must take my place.” The shadow touches Emilia’s shoulder. Life is thin. There is devastation in the place of the gulls, held away from her fragile home by little more than a crumbling wall. From this height, she could change the world, reshape it in her image. She can control it.

Emilia grips Vicente’s tiny fat foot then his unformed knee. She bends his chubby leg, far. Farther. Too far.

New bone cracks.

Emilia holds out her hand. “Give me the needle.”

“That comes later.” The knife appears in her hand. “His heart.”

The bubble of red becomes a line, the line becomes a river, then a valley of blood. Her dark fingers swim inside the blood. The shadow withdraws the tiny heart. Emilia cuts deeper, finds Vicente’s foot, pulls it through.

The shadow hands her the balm, and Emilia heals the wound.

“Now open your mouth.”

Emilia obeys. Fingers touch her chin, and her mouth opens wider than possible until it is not her throat opening but some deep passage into her soul.

The tiny, still beating heart drops inside.

Advice for Writing a Steampunk World: Part 2 Implementation

So, you’ve got the background blue-prints to your Steampunk world, now how do you put that to use while building a story with characters and plot?

If you’re an outliner, you may be struggling with the amount of details you have to find a place for. If you’re a discovery writer, you may have already written the story and be trimming down on the info dumps and useless bits of the world.

One of the weirdest things about The Scribbling Windhund is the point of view. Since the story is told by the machine, it exists somewhere between an epistolary work, a play, and the diary of a fashion critic. So, I had an interesting task in building the world without the use of large descriptive paragraphs (except when Otto gets effusive in his drafts).

 

Here’s my advice:

Determine what information about the world is most necessary to develop the plot and characters…

As the creator of the world, I know that Prussians have a list of names approved by the state that parents must use. I know that households are given financial incentives not only to have children but to have children who win awards and honors. I know that there’s a garden inside Prussia where every flower is artificially created to be perfectly symmetrical.

But none of that made it into the story. It filtered my experience of the world and informed how I wrote Otto, especially, but I couldn’t find a place to fit it while I was writing. So, I didn’t try to force it into the story. I remember I had to cut a section I particularly liked where Karl was looking down at the city and could see the garden and Otto told him about the perfect shape of the flowers. There’s was about five pages and it was acting as a fun metaphor for the culling of living things (like people) in the name of perfection, but really it wasn’t adding to the plot or the characters so I took it out.

 

And when to reveal it:

If you try to tell everything about the world on the first page, there will be no room for them to get attached to the character or story and in the end. I might feel like a textbook about the world. So, figure out when a technology or law gets revealed organically (then make sure it’s consistently applied even before the reader knows about it).

For example, Otto doesn’t mention the constant surveillance of the military, or the banning of imported alcohol, or the monitoring of sexual behaviors until later in the story. But he always behaves as someone who lives in that world and is particularly careful about what he says to and about the military.

 

Hide information dumps by building character and tension around them

I feel like this is a dirty trick, but it’s so useful. Whenever I have to get information about the world to the reader, I try to imagine how I would have learned about it explicitly in the world. I’m not afraid of character’s thinking back to school lessons, mother’s lectures, or the like.

I got to really cheat once or twice in this story, because the main character writes for a newspaper and takes the opportunity to educate children about something that happened in the past. Since the story is set up the way it is, I was able to include the actual newspaper story and the character’s interpretation of the event. Karl does his share of educating as well, but it comes paired with either an actual disagreement he’s having with Otto or with a personal disagreement with himself. So there’s always two or three things happening while the reader is learning about the world.

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

cropped-The-Fantasist-Logo-192x192
Support these guys. They have good stories for free.

LM Spangler : Return to Me

Return to Me-teaser1

Return to Me

 

Her secret tore them apart.

Naida Bouche foolishly thought she could live as if she was only human. Her true nature hung over her like a thunderhead, driving a wedge between her and her husband.

Cooper Martin had no idea why his ex-wife divorced him. He’d treated her like a goddess. And they had no problems in the intimacy department.

Fate brings them together again. Old emotions flare to life. Can Naida see beyond her self-perceived faults and allow the flames to reignite the love she and Coop feel for one another?

EXCERPT:

Water cascaded off her nude body. Small rivulets ran over her breasts and down her slightly rounded stomach, disappearing into the surface of the lake.
She was one with the water.
She could, literally, become one with it.
Moonlight reflected off the mirror-smooth surface, adding a soft glow to the night.
Crickets serenaded her with their chirping song. The cicadas added their buzzing to the symphony. There were a lot of cicadas, hence the name of the lake. A wolf howled in the distance. Nature cocooned her.
She grinned and dove under. Liquid embraced her, still heated by the sun’s rays from earlier in the day. Her body became insubstantial, fragmenting into molecules of H2O. Disorientation left her bewildered, but the feeling came and went. Weightless warmth enveloped her, and the ebb and flow of the tide lulled her into blissful relaxation.
The moon slid across the sky. Hours had passed. Her body became corporeal with a single thought. After regaining her human form, she cut through the water with powerful strokes and rose to the surface in a rush of bubbles.
The night air chilled her damp skin, raising goose pimples along her flesh. She pushed the long fall of hair from her face and glanced into the deep, lush woods that ringed the lake. Soon the leaves would change to shades of gold, orange, red, and brown. In would come the autumnal chill. Her time in the waters would decrease, and then winter would set in and freeze her out.
When that happened, she’d resort to the swimming pool located on the basement level of her large home. Even with the greenery she had sprinkled about, it never fully replaced the exhilaration of the lake, the feel of fresh air against her skin, and the scent of the wilderness.
She repeated the cycle, year after year. The monotony had long since worn short on her nerves.
She had someone in her life, someone to break the monotony.
More accurately, she would only have him until the end of the day.
Tonight would be the last night they would be together. She’d tell him that they were over and done with. The sad part of the whole shitty deal was she couldn’t really give him a reason why.
How could he understand? Hell, she’d have trouble believing the truth, if it wasn’t her life.
The root of their problems were otherworldly, as her father was human and her mother was a water nymph.
The nymph side of her heritage presented two problems. First, she needed daily contact with water. The more the better. Like her pool in the basement. Second, she also needed sex … a lot. Preferably once or twice a day. After all, the term “nymphomaniac” had been born of a nymph’s sex drive.
They had a lot of sex, but there were times when their hectic lives interfered with his libido. He was human and his sex drive was human.
She couldn’t guess how he’d react if she said, “I’m a nympho which means we have to have sex all the time. Day and night. Over and over and over.”
He wouldn’t understand it and she’d allowed it to build a wall between them.
No, he had never known the truth of her desires.
She had pushed him away, afraid of exposing her real self.
And that fear, that uncertainty, would leave her alone … and needy.

Buy Links:

Available at your favorite e-book retailer!

Author Bio:

LM Spangler lives in South Central Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, three dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and some fish. Her son serves his country in the US Navy.

She is a fan of college football and any kind of baseball and likes to watch the Discovery, Velocity, HGTV, DIY, Science, and any channel showing a college football game. She also watches old game shows like $25,000 Pyramid and Match Game.

Behind the Scenes: Evasive Love Part 1returntome1l__15503.1526265405.432.648

Social Media:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Three Weeks into Nano and I want to die.

I gotta say, The Writing Workshop Notebook by Alan Ziegler is the best craft book I’ve come across. I love the format which is literally notes and the pithy quotes. I read it all in one day and then started it again the next day. I wish they had it on audio.

In particular I loved this quote:

It bites
Terrible Advice for NanoWrimo

I’m gonna hang this poster at my desk, not just because I love the image of a helpless little girl about to be eaten by a monster, or because I have an unhealthy fixation on wolves and witches, but because Little Red Ridinghood ends with her defeating the beast that consumed her. Yes, she had to be saved the first time, but once she learned how to fight wolves, she was able to go on her way safely and merrily.

And that’s how it is with novels.

Most of the writers I’ve worked with have at one time or another been overwhelmed by the bigness of the task. Writing an entire novel, keeping it all organized and coherent seems overwhelming, and many people give up. In my experience, it happens when they are about three-fourths of the way done.

When they’ve been swallowed. By the doubt, or by poor planning, or by existential ennui, or by life. By the fact that the ending seems so far away and unapproachable. Or the beginning looks like such a mess and its impossible to wade through it and find something that will hook an audience and tie to the end and introduce the entire world and all the characters at once.

Every problem gets bigger and bigger and seems harder and harder to solve.

And that’s the time to take that step back, to permit yourself to leave that particular monster alone for a bit. Maybe beat the crap out of a short story. Or a novella. Or a poem, which I’m told are wicked little brutes on their own.

The most important thing is to come back to that fight when it’s fair again. When you’re prepared to tackle the material and wrestle it into submission. When you can look at it with fresh eyes. When being left alone has made the monster a little smaller and more willing to be tamed.

When I first read this, Ziegler’s quote just slapped me silly. I’ve been periodically fighting with and backing off from my thesis novel since I started writing it in 2015. And since I’m the type who feels guilty writing another project, like I’m cheating on my novel, I’ve been frantic every time I’ve taken a break to work on something else. I’ve worried it will make Finding Lost Sound disjointed or that I’ll lose the characters because I’ve left them alone. But when I look back, I think about how renewed I was coming back to Finding Lost Sound. Everything falls a little more into place after each absence. I’m beginning to think I was drowning under the sheer mass of my epic fantasy sci-fi romance and the novellas I’ve been releasing through Evernight were the little sips of air that have let me swim with the thing as long as I have.

 

Katherine Wyvern’s LGBT tales series features… me!

Fellow Evernight Author and erotic rambler, Kathertin Wyvern was kind enough to let me talk about my first two novels and how my sexual fantasies were forever changed by watching “Miller’s Crossing.”

I realized what I wanted most was not graphic descriptions of the great sex I was not having as a teenager (though I wanted that in spades), but the wholeness of the gay character. In the Cohen Brothers’ film, the love triangle between three men is integral to the plot, yet they stand out not as gays who happened to be gangsters, but as gangsters who happened to be gay. They are sexual characters defined by things outside their sexuality.
I started writing those stories.

 

Click the picture for the full interview!

 

Visit my Website for all the blurbs, excerpts and news!!

 

Love Across The Universe: Excerpt from Breathless

Love Across the Universe

Twelve Stories of Science Fiction Romance

Set on Intergalactic Shores

 3D Love Across the Universe

NOW AVAILABLE

From Stars and Stone Books

 

Amazon iBooks Kobo GooglePlay

 

Summer love is summer love, no matter the planet. Climb aboard your spacecraft and travel across the universe with these twelve tales of love on beaches in the future and among the stars.


Breathless: by L.J. Longo

A soldier and a café manager find themselves trapped beneath the surface of a resort by the deadly beasts native to the planet. As they fight to survive, they discover danger is a potent aphrodisiac.

 

As part of a hidden military outfit protecting rich civilians as they vacation on the resort planet Pangaea, Nathan Oyola planned to keep secrets, fight aliens, and maybe tan under the rays of an artificial sun.  What he did not expect was to fall for his so-called boss, the manager of the café located directly above the aliens’ nest. When the native wildlife starts behaving more aggressive and strange than usual, how will Nathan keep them secret and keep his new-found love safe.

 

Excerpt:

“Mott. Your little girlfriend is early again. Tell him to f— off.”

Sarge marches at the front of the company, but her voice carries over the bloated carcasses of tonight’s kills—about twenty ten-footers. My platoon guards the rear in case their stench attracts more roaches looking for an easy meal.

When I look past the pile of tentacles and blood to the omni-pit’s mouth, the concrete is bleach white. Overhead UVs are on. Tianjin Ki is in the warehouse above.

“10-4, ma’am.”

The company chuckles as I jog by. Even the grunts know I’ve got a thing for our boss, but the idea of Old Iron-Jaw dating the planet resource manager makes them laugh.

And it should. It’s fucking ridiculous. Tianjin Ki can do better than a lead-head.

I hand my ruck to Sarge as she asks, “You got a clean apron?”

“Nope. But I got a dirty one.” I hand her my helmet and head to H.Q.

“Mott!” Sarge barks.

I turn, my Shock-87 raised, radiating heat in my metal hand, ready to roast.

Not exactly civilian attire.

“Oh.” I kill the charge and hand Sarge my gun and my clips. She smiles, wrinkling the scarred skin around her unblinking electric eyes. “Wash-up good, lover-boy. Gotta look cuddly for Mr. Ki.”

There’s nothing cuddly about my face. I see it when I change my BDU for my civvies and Moon Kaa apron in H.Q. Or more accurately, I see the cybernetic gleam of my jaw and right forearm because the shadows have swallowed my dark skin. What’s left of my reflection is a half-metal ox squeezed into a too-tight uniform shirt. Just some asshole cyborg impersonating a civilian. Badly.

My platoon strips the shells and hacks through thoraxes. Ro-Jo, my second-in-command, finds time to tease. “Take one for the team, Iron-Jaw.”

I wave her off and ignore the platoon’s chuckles, until How-Town pipes in. “Yeah, maybe if you treat Ki real nice, we’ll get a raise.”

I scowl at him from the stair and the laughter silences. How-Town, only six months on the roach path, holds a machete like it’s a teddy bear and quivers under my glare.

“Sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to speak out of turn.”

“You better be sorry,” I answer somberly. “I always treat my bitches nice.”

The platoon laughs and returns to liquefying the dead roaches.

There’s a galaxy of tubes and conveyor belts overhead that connect the port to fifty feet of stock shelves. Moon-Kaa Cafe is the largest restaurant on the planet, which isn’t as impressive as it sounds since BABs has only been inhabited for fifteen years. Still, the fresh water ocean, the miles of green beach, the dozens of luxury resorts bring vacationers from all over the galaxy. The visitors outnumber the permanent population by six to one. And nearly all of them will eat at least once at Moon-Kaa Cafe.

Tianjin Ki’s office stands next to the shelves with windows to the warehouse and the backroom. The door’s propped open. Too early for him to do paperwork. He’s in the backroom—I glimpse his milky skin, his red tie through the shelves. Doing our job.

Tianjin can do every job at every resort on this fucking planet with about ten minutes notice. Not only does he open the cafe three or four days a week, I’ve seen him pull shifts at the deli when Graham had the flu and at Quassar’s grill to give Ms. Jessica time off to plan her daughter’s wedding. Once I spotted him at The Boiler Room behind the bar, which still makes my heart flip a little. I don’t think he saw me, though I’d never managed the courage to visit the men’s only club afterward. If he saw me, he recognized me. The crowd was entirely vacationers. Besides, there are precious few cyborgs on BABs. They all work nights at Moon-Kaa Cafe.

Tianjin steps into my full view, pausing before the sliding doors between the kitchen and the shelves. He smiles for himself. That’s the kind of person he is. Sweet, cheerful. Even with all his power, Tianjin says ‘thank you’ to the lead-head who takes out the trash.

Even across the warehouse, I can appreciate the crispness of his white shirt on his slender shoulders, the neatness of his sleek black ponytail, the way his trousers accentuate the curve of his ass.

I’d like to mess up every part of his calm.


About the Author:

L.J. Longo is a queer author, a geek, a feminist, sometime pirate, and is an ARe best-selling author of Erotic Romance. An Evernight author, L.J.’s work appears in The Dishonest LoverDark Captive: Manlove Edition, and Evasive Love. L.J.’s story “The Scarf” appears in Owned by the Alpha: Manlove Edition and the first book of L.J.’s first series, Hiring the Tiger: Heart of the Mountain is now available.

​Find more thoughtful, hot erotica at Graceful Indecency where L.J. offers free erotica and contests to win romance e-books. L.J. also sometimes takes a break from writing and messes around on Twitter and Facebook.


Amazon: L.J. Longo

 

Breathless: Part 2 the Not-So-Magical

That brilliant idea of writing about the writing. I really wish I’d done that for Breathless because…


Today it’s the Fourth of July and I hate everything about writing.

Shit went sideways in a big way with Breathless. A lot more difficult to write than I initially thought it was going to be. Which is a problem because that story is already contracted and I am not backing down.

Here’s the premise– the promise I am making to readers– A soldier working night-shift in a cafe, where his primary job is to kill aliens under the planet’s surface that no civilian knows about, falls in love with his boss, who comes in morning to do the prep-work night shift is not doing. Eventually, the boss discovers the aliens and soldier saves him and they kiss and are happy forever.

The story should be pretty fun and quirky. The kind of thing that probably fits in an anthology about Love across the Universe. None of my usual Dark Romance, BSDM, trigger warning inducing hate sex bordering on violence. Breathless should be funny and uplifting.

It is not.

Right now, for some reason, my light hearted Rom-com in space begins like a Military SF/Horror. The first chapter has these soldiers underground, really tense, really dark atmosphere, then BAM! one of the solders gets his head bit off.  Fantastic hook.

But Chapter Two is about the manager and is all butterflies and fluffy romance. It makes no Goshly-dumbed sense (full disclosure, I’m recording this at Starbuck’s and a small child has just sat down, intensely watching me while she licked the face of her pirate pop).

The promise I made at the beginning of the story does not fit with a romance novel. No matter how *snicker* killer that hook is, it’s not suitable for the story the rest of the work wants to tell. In a novel, there’s more time for the soldier to grieve, for the romance to develop above this bleak hidden world, but with only 10 Thousand fruit-caked words, I cannot do it. *laspe in to Scottish accent* I simply canne do it. Word counts suck money ball.

(And Daddy has taken his precious little face-licker away.)

Anyway, so the whole process of reigning this monster in, tightening it up, cutting all sorts of really fun and exciting bits that did belong in the story, but were not serving it to the max was a royal pain in the ass. I did not anticipate this in the beginning since I had such fire. I knew exactly where I was going, how I wanted to tell the story. I had the fun opening scene with the morning guy being snarky and funny and putting these giant cyborgs in their place, then the soldiers shamefacedly going in the back and there’s a giant alien getting hacked up and dissolved.  Much better hook for a romance novel. That also ended up getting cut because I needed to get to the relationship even faster.

In a novella, you have such a short amount of time to bring it all together.

I wish I’d been writing about the writing so I could have caught all these little nuances  and why it’s so weird and difficult to do what we writers do.

During the revision, I spent a lot of time thinking about the beginnings and endings and the promises we make that the ending has to pay off. And working that backwards so in the end everything that’s paid off had worked hard enough to earn the pay out.

And I wish I’d be recording that in real time, because I think this happens to me every time I write a novella (one of the reasons I want to write about the writing is because I have such a terrible memory for the process). I’d like to understand my own better. You know, anticipate how much writing a novella is going to fuck me up emotionally.

Because it does.  I think my natural writing is novel length, and probably epic in scope due to the nature of the worlds I build. But I’m writing most novellas.

Writing things that are shorter is painful. When I’ve written short stories successfully, I’ve cut them off just before the point where they become novels. A character remains trapped where in a novel they would escape, or gives up completely in a place that would otherwise just be the inciting incident for their journey of self discovery.

Breathless: Part 1 The Magic

Sometime in May, I had the brilliant idea to write about the writing in real time. However, I suck at blogging. Still, I had a voice recorder full of excitement and so I thought I’d share the thrill of catching the idea with you.

All of this was written on Memorial Day 2017.


So I try to write everyday, but after the craziness of March through May where I edited and published three novellas I was mentally exhausted and without a project.

This made the second half of May very strange for me. I haven’t felt like myself because I haven’t been sticking to my habit. I’m not as happy when I’m not writing (there been times in the past when my partner, literally told me to go away and write because I was being mean).

I still have been working on Witch, Ghost, Dog, Clone (which is a huge fantasy project that is also my graduate school thesis project), notes for the rest of the Heart of the Mountain series, and tinkering with old stuff. But I haven’t had a real project, because I’ve been writing like God-damned demon I needed a break.

So I took a break. Watched some Jessica Jones and Supernatural. Read some Deadpool.

But yesterday, for whatever reason, the writing came.

Rather than struggling to put words on page (or you know, text on screen) I found myself fluidly being drawn into a story. I knew the characters instinctively, I saw where the plot was going, I even had an opening line.

It’s an idea I thought up working at Starbucks. There’s long hallway that leads to a parking garage where they kept the garbage. One of my jobs was to walk to trash for this hallway and as a writing exercise I’d describe the hallway in my head in different voice and tones. How does it look from a horror novel from the monster’s POV? What about in a  romance novel?  What about in a comedic mash-up of the two where dude is so much in love that he’s listening to his music and dancing along, and never notices the giant bug demon hanging on the ceiling.

Somehow I got hung up on the idea of monsters and I put my Starbucks experience in the Buffy verse. My little place on Grove St. was actually nestled on top of a Hell-Mouth and and the reason nothing was ever done in the morning was because evening shift was killing demons keeping those bastards underground.

I had this fun image of David Wong, Kevin Smith, and Nora Roberts mashup where the romantic lead is this oblivious dude on night shift who falls for his boss who works the morning shift. Boss thinks Dude is an asshole because the work is never finished, so Dude starts working his ass off in the last half hour of the day to get everything done and impress Boss.

I teased this idea while writing Heart of the Mountain, and Witch, Ghost, Dog, Clone, and turning in the final edits for Seaweed and Silk and The Scarf. As I took out the trash, I’d daydream about someone getting locked out of the cafe and then devoured in the hallway. Or a soldier dropping down to the Hell-Mouth and hunting demons Dean and Sam Winchester style.

Then at some point, I had to submit a story idea to an romance anthology from the same people that brought you Crazy Little Spring Called Love. I knew it was science-fiction and I knew it had to happen on a beach. My brainstorming and searching through old stories brought me nothing. Neither did asking my sister (a hopeless romantic) for advice.

But I didn’t have time to write, because it was a Starbucks day, so I went to work. Of course, night shift had made a royal mess of things. Disorganized pastry case. Oddly curated sandwich selection. No cold brew made. And of course, they put in the wrong garbage bags. Instead of triple bagging the one for the coffee grounds (wet coffee grounds is the smell of trash. Nothing else smells as much like trash as wet coffee grounds), they’d put in a bag so tight it had stretched to fit over the edges.

Being witty as fuck at 5:30 a.m., I mentally demanded, “why? Did the bin see it’s youth floating away and decide to chaseit ‘s former glory with tight-ass garbage bags?  Did the trash make questionable sexual decisions and the bin squeezed into a female condom for protection?”

What I actually said was, “hum. Must have been busy. I’ll change this now.”

And my boss remarked on how pleasant I was and cussed out night-shift for me.

Instantly, I had the character for Dude’s love interest. Someone who could be mentally shredding everyone else to pieces while remaining pleasant to work with. It suddenly occurred to me, my story wasn’t happening in a Hell-Mouth, but on an planet so big that it was mostly beach. The brainless monsters Dude was hunting weren’t demons, but aliens, the insentient beginning of life. And when Boss found out, he would handle his rage by making Dude breakfast and smiling.

I even had a title for it.

Breathless.

 

And about 3000 words into it now. I’ve got a word count limit of 10k. I’m aiming to finish this puppy by Wednesday when I go back to Starbucks again.

Happy Memorial Day, folks. Wish me luck.