Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Circlet of Gold

Hello and welcome to another round of Weekend Writing Warriors. I missed last week, but I had a very good excuse; a three night writers’ retreat on the coast. I can’t tell you how good it felt to get away with like-minded folk to do nothing but write, write, write. And chat of course. It’s great to be around people who “get” me and don’t blink an eye when I talk about characters taking over the story and doing their own thing, plot be damned.

So far Prince Gabriel is acting like a well-behaved character should, but there are others lurking in the coming pages who just refuse to cooperate. We’ll be meeting one of them soon, but for now, Gabriel is still preparing for his big speech at this evening’s feast.

***

Gabriel and his unwanted retinue clamored up a wide, winding staircase and soon arrived at his chambers on the third floor. He was stripped, washed clean of mud and dressed in a close fitting tunic quartered in dark blue and black panels. His father’s family crest, a lion standing on its hind legs, was embroidered in red silk thread over his heart. Around his hips he wore a thick leather girdle that held the ceremonial sword he’d been given on his sixteenth birthday.  Wearing this rich attire, he felt slightly less self-conscious about the crown, which was merely a circlet of gold, after all.  It did, unfortunately, serve to set off how much closer to white than blond his hair really was.

Servants held up mirrors, and despite the manly outfitting, Gabriel recognized his mother staring back at him. He shared her blue eyes and slight build, which was fine for a queen but less than desirable for a prince.

“Enough of that,” he said, waving away the attendants, who all seemed very busy though he couldn’t imagine why. At Craigmoor, he’d managed just fine with one manservant.  

That’s the official ten. Here’s a bit more:

He turned to face an array of adornments Webster held out for him on a silver tray. Gabriel was about to wave those away as well when a thought occurred to him.  “Where’s my mother’s brooch?”

“Which one, sire?” Webster asked, face sagging. A dozen fine pendants and pins glinted in the candlelight. Gabriel had left them all behind when he left Rosenthal, tucked away in the black lacquered chest in his sitting room, and he was sure Webster had been delighted to discover them.

“A silver stag’s head.”

Blurb in progress for Snow:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

***

Don’t forget to check out all the awesome snippets at Weekend Writing Warriors!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Most Alarming Rumor

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences, with maybe a few more for those of you have the time.

Happy Spring, everyone! The turning of the seasons kind of crept up on me while I wasn’t looking, and Sunday is Easter! How did that happen? I feel like the little bunny coming out of its burrow, cautiously sniffing the air, munching a dandelion or two while wondering where the winter went.

Today I’m sharing from my romantic gay fantasy, tentatively titled Snow. This scene continues directly from last week. Prince Gabriel has returned home on the evening of the festival of the Hunter’s Moon. As he’s swept up into castle life, he remembers how much he dislikes the politics and pomposity.

***

The courtyard buzzed with activity. Tristan had wasted no time disappearing into the great hall. Servants swarmed around their sodden, inebriated lords, guiding them away toward blazing hearths and dry clothing. High above the inner ward, the clock tower, crowning glory of the new residential wing—new meaning built fifty years ago by his grandfather—chimed eight o’clock. Webster had exaggerated. The feast wouldn’t begin for another hour at least.

Gabriel headed for his old rooms and along with Webster, a flock of unfamiliar servants flustered and cooed after them.  He supposed he’d been assigned a retinue and was again disappointed that he recognized none of them.

“Oh, sir, I did hear a most alarming rumor that you’d been set upon by a centaur and—”

That’s the official Ten. Here’s a bit more:

Gabriel laughed sharply. 

“Five minutes back and the tale has grown taller than the castle walls. I wasn’t set upon by anything.”  He knocked a bit of moss from his cuff as he entered a long corridor, muscle memory guiding his feet as his thoughts went hither and yon.  The common appetite for myth and magic could both help and hinder the Rosenthal family. Wonder and devotion battled with fear and superstition.  In spite of that, the queen had been well loved.  Would he be accepted? The people in the town had seemed happy to see him.

“Thank the gods for that,” Webster said. “I set out the pale blue silk your aunt Wren sent for your twentieth birthday. That with—”

“That’s for weddings and parties. I need to look more serious.” He thought of Falkner, dour and intimidating all in black. “Something darker.”

“You’re absolutely correct,” Webster said, “How foolish of me.” 

Gabriel doubted if what he wore actually mattered, but he hated anything that hinted at frippery.  It was bad enough he’d have to wear a crown.  He hadn’t done so in the three years he’d been gone.

***

Photo 97165497 © RealchemystDreamstime.com

Blurb in progress for Snow:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

***

Don’t forget to check out all the awesome snippets at Weekend Writing Warriors!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Man of Action

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. I’m sorry I missed last week. I had computer issues, and now I return to find WordPress has once again “improved” its interface. Why is it improvements always seem more like irritations than anything actually helpful? Could it be my old brain doesn’t like change? Nah…

So on the snippet. I’m back to sharing from my fairy tale revisited, a reimagining of the Snow White story with a male character in the title role. Last week, Prince Gabriel returned to his family’s castle for the first time in three years, during the autumn Festival of the Hunter’s Moon.

***

The moment Gabriel slid from Tempest’s back in the castle courtyard, his servant pounced.

“Sire! You are due in the great hall in mere moments! Your boots are full of mud and your clothing is inappropriate!” In his panic, Webster impetuously reached out and plucked a twig of holly from Gabriel’s hair.

“I see you’ve recovered from your bee sting,” Gabriel said as he handed Tempest’s reins to a stable boy. Other servants swarmed around them to gather Gabriel’s packs from the horse. “Old Aldous hasn’t lost his touch.”

“Oh, yes, nothing a healing poultice and a brandy couldn’t cure. Although the healer you knew is no longer here. Retired. Gone to live in a cave or whatever it is old alchemists do.”

That’s the traditional Ten. Here’s a bit more for your reading pleasure:

Webster cleared his throat and stared at the cobblestones. “I’m sorry to have abandoned you at such an inconvenient time.”

“Nonsense, Webster. You would have hated tramping through the muck after game anyway.”  Gabriel brushed the remaining petals from his sleeve, disappointed to learn another trusted member of his mother’s court was gone, but determined not to dwell on it.  “I thought I’d remain dressed as I am. Gives me more the appearance of a man of action, does it not?” He ran his fingers through his hair and found another twig, this one still attached to a leaf.

Webster gaped at him in abject horror. The servant himself had donned his finest blue tunic with silver trim and tied his long brown hair back in a tidy bun. He looked more like a worried old woman than ever. Gabriel smiled and Webster let out a breath of relief.

“Oh, sire, you had me—ha, ha—naturally, you wouldn’t—you were joking, weren’t you?”

“I was, but I’m only submitting myself to your tortures because I have to make a speech.” 

***

© Olgasyrova | Dreamstime.com

***

Blurb for Snow (working title):

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

***

Don’t forget to check out the other snippets at Weekend Writing Warriors!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ Hunter’s Moon

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. When last I shared from today’s story, the pandemic was young and I was still rather enjoying my new found free time (end of the world as we knew it notwithstanding). I confidently set aside this manuscript in order to finish and publish Wild, sure that I’d soon return and get the former done in time for a winter release. Well, flash forward ONE YEAR. The pandemic is quite old and tiresome, my free time has withered on the twin vines of anxiety and despondency, and Snow has sat untouched all this time. This week, I opened it up, brushed aside the digital and mental cobwebs and guess what? It doesn’t totally suck. I like these characters, and this story, and gosh darn it, I’m going to finish it.

This week’s snippet is from Chapter Three, with our hero Prince Gabriel returning to his home for the first time in three years, along with the hunting party he encountered on the road to the royal residence. If you’d like to catch up, you can read past excerpts under the obsessions category Snow. If you want to start at the beginning, scroll down to the bottom of the posts.

***

The townsfolk of Emmerich didn’t seem to notice the lack of an impressive stag or elk on display when the hunting party paraded through the gates. They also did not seem bothered by the steady drizzle or the cold that permeated even the thickest cloak.

True, most of them had been celebrating the Festival of the Hunter’s Moon since midday and were bolstered by generous quantities of mead and mulled wine, which Gabriel could smell brewing in every square they passed through. Lanterns burned brightly and fires danced in open pits. Minstrels played lively tunes, young men pranced about with antlers tied to their heads, and young women screamed and pretended to be frightened.

The people were in a gay mood, and to Gabriel’s surprise, some even called his name and tossed flowers to him as he rode by. Actually, many of them did, so many that Tempest’s mane was soon bedecked with the yellow and red fauna of autumn. Gabriel repeatedly brushed petals from his cloak as he waved at blushing clusters of girls radiant in their festival finery.

No one threw flowers at Tristan, who rode at the head of the party. Those still sober enough to have the wits backed away from his huge black horse and bowed low.  The people had always thrown flowers to their mother, Gabriel recalled, and dampened his smile. He hoped Tristan was too tired and inebriated to notice the difference in their reception.

***

****

Blurb-in-progress for Snow (working title), a reimagined fairy tale:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

****

Weekend Writing Warriors is a blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences.  Click the link to check out the other writers participating today.  It’s a great way to discover your next favorite book.

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ In the Dark

Hello Everyone, and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences, with maybe a few more added on for your reading pleasure.

I think this is the last snippet I’ll be sharing from Shameless In Seattle. I’m getting into territory where it’s hard not to reveal too much, as Aaron’s stalker is about to make an entrance. I wish I could share more, as I really love that character, but you know, mystery and all.

I’m continuing on from last week, with Aaron and his ex, Martine, at Bumbershoot, hoping to flush out the elusive Olympia Konstantin.

***

Martine handed Aaron his beer so he could flip through the photos again. Aaron practiced scanning the crowd without appearing to scan the crowd. It was a natural enough thing to do, with all of Seattle’s weirdness on glorious display; jugglers, face painters, mimes and dancers mingling with glassy-eyed tourists, teenagers looking for trouble and the serious art minded folk who came for the poetry readings and stayed for the over-priced wine. And that was only a minor fraction of the human array on display. So easy for a nondescript, non-performer to meld in and never be noticed.

“Whoa, someone you dated, mayhaps?” Martine asked. He’d stopped at the yearbook photo of Elliot Fadley.

“No, he was two years behind me. I don’t even remember him.”

“Hmm. Must of bloomed late.”

That’s ten. Here’s a bit more if you’re so inclined:

“And I didn’t date guys in high school, remember?”

“Oh, yeah, speaking of blooming late. Wow, look at the maracas on this one.” He’d moved on to Liz’s photo featuring a canyon of cleavage.

“She’s my main suspect. Most likely to have been friends with Victoria.”

“Who’s Victoria?”

Aaron hesitated. He’d never told Martine about the Mr. Tuck incident and certainly not about Victoria. Withholding information was getting awkward and was the main reason why he hadn’t called in his cop friend earlier to help track down the stalker. But Martine wasn’t an investigator for nothing.

“She’s the one with the big secret you’re afraid your stalker is going reveal?”

“Yes. Can we leave it at that for the moment?”

“Sure, but working in the dark won’t help me help you.”

***

Cover by Robin Ludwig Designs

Shameless In Seattle is now available. Click here to view on Amazon.

Aaron Schafer, star reporter for the Seattle Times, is shocked to find out he’s the inspiration for a series of bodice-ripper romances written by a reclusive author no one has met.  He’s even more surprised, and disturbed, on discovering intimate secrets from his past buried in the pages of Shameless in Seattle. Who is this mystery author, who has clearly been stalking him and stealing details from his life? Are they dangerous? And worse, will they reveal Aaron’s darkest secret to the world? Aaron decides to stalk the stalker, a decision that might change both of their lives.

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ The Perfect Opportunity

Greetings and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences, and maybe a few more to round out the scene.

I’m continuing to share from my latest release, Shameless In Seattle, a contemporary gay romance. I might spend a few more weeks on Shameless, and then switch to my new project, as soon as I decide what that is! I’m suffering from the pandoldrums, in which continued isolation gnaws away at my creativity. Luckily I have digital stacks of dusty first drafts that I can nibble away at and trick myself into writing. I recently opened an old file, thought ‘hey, this doesn’t suck’, and soon found myself with sixty fresh pages. I’m hoping the enthusiasm lasts.

On to the snippet! In this chapter, Aaron meets up with his ex-boyfriend, who is also a cop, at the Seattle music festival Bumbershoot. He’s hoping Martine can help him flush out Olympia Konstantin, the mysteries writer who seems to know everything about him.

****

Martine speaks first:

“What are the odds on your stalker showing up here?”

“I have no idea. She or he knows where I eat, where I take Humphrey to get groomed, where I shop, where I buy my clothes, who I sleep with.” He sucked in a deep breath. “I announced online I was going to be here today. Seems like the perfect opportunity to spy and find out what beer I drink, right?”

“Sure, if they’re as active a stalker as they seem to be.” Martine accepted a plastic cup of amber beer while Aaron paid. They pushed their way back out of the mob. “Would have worked better if we weren’t together.”

That’s ten. Here’s a few more:

“I suppose, but it was hard to explain in a text.”

“There’s this new invention called voice mail, Aaron.” Martine sipped his beer. “Also, time to look over the photos and run background checks would’ve been helpful.”

“I know. It’s just—” Aaron glared up at the Space Needle looming above them. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to drag you into this. I don’t feel threatened by this person, only violated, like I have no privacy. I didn’t want to waste too much of your time.”

“Admit it. You wanted to see me and get me drunk.” Martine grinned and slapped him on the back.

“If you’d had time to think about it, you would’ve recruited half the department to set up a perimeter around the center. Then the stalker wouldn’t show up and I’d be even more embarrassed than I already am.”

“Poor Aaron, always so worried about what people think.”

“I’d rather Seattle PD doesn’t think I’m a flake.”

****

A taste of Bumbershoot, so you can see what they’re up against.

Shameless In Seattle is now available. Click here to view on Amazon.

Aaron Schafer, star reporter for the Seattle Times, is shocked to find out he’s the inspiration for a series of bodice-ripper romances written by a reclusive author no one has met.  He’s even more surprised, and disturbed, on discovering intimate secrets from his past buried in the pages of Shameless in Seattle. Who is this mystery author, who has clearly been stalking him and stealing details from his life? Are they dangerous? And worse, will they reveal Aaron’s darkest secret to the world? Aaron decides to stalk the stalker, a decision that might change both of their lives.