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 ~ The Golden Goose

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. I’m doing a happy dance because Shameless In Seattle was released into the world last week and things seem to be going well. I truly suck at the promotional side of things, so I really appreciate this safe little corner of the world where I can share my stories and get the word out to a friendly and supportive group.

I’m continuing to share from Chapter Two, in which Aaron attempts to pressure the editor of the Shameless series to either reveal the identity of the author, get her to stop using him as her model for Eric Slater–the heroic tough guy protagonist–or drop the series altogether.

***

“I won’t have you bullying my authors, Mr. Schafer,” Desiree said, vice principal personality flaring to full power. She ruined the effect by sipping her coffee and leaving a mustache of tan foam across her upper lip. “Resemblances between you and the fictional character Eric Slater are superficial at best. Plus, there’s nothing detrimental about the representation. If a few people think you’re the inspiration for Eric, it certainly doesn’t harm your reputation in any way.”

“It might harm my ability to get dates with men.”

Desiree raised her eyebrows then lowered them. “I seriously doubt if you’ve ever or will ever have problems finding willing lovers of either sex.”

“She’s making me a laughing stock.”

“No one’s laughing at you. The only way that would happen is if you made a public spectacle in court. Of course, if you’re looking for publicity, that would be an excellent way to get it.” She looked intrigued now, no doubt envisioning a heap of free press for Shameless in Seattle. She was right. No way would Aaron sue and dredge up the ridicule and attention he feared.

“So you won’t tell her to cease and desist?”

“Ever heard of the golden goose? Shameless is one of our bestsellers. If you try to frighten her, I may have to discuss the matter with a few of the many columnists I know. This would certainly make for entertaining local color.”

“Now you’re threatening me?”

“I guess so.” She giggled again. “It’s sort of thrilling. I feel so New York. C’mon, Eric. I mean, Aaron. Roll with it. Enjoy it.”

***

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 ofShameless 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 Warrior ~ Full Exposure

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

I hope you’re all enjoying the season, staying safe and making the most of the end of this endless year. My family has made the tough decision not to gather, so I’m sad, and grumpy, but I’m keeping my eye on the light at the end of the tunnel.

Today’s snippet carries on with Chapter One from Shameless In Seattle, my contemporary gay romance set to be released in early January. After hanging out with his friend Melanie and speculating on who the mysterious author (pen name Olympia Konstantin) of the Shameless series might really be, Aaron goes home and decides to read a few pages to see how much of his life has been co-opted into the character of Eric Slater.

***

At two a.m. Aaron forced himself to put down Full Exposure, Shameless In Seattle #1 and go brush his teeth. In one hundred pages Eric Slater had more sex than Aaron had in his entire life.  Mel was right, it was compelling in an oddly twisted, squirm-inducing way. And it was funny, sort of tongue in cheek: Tongue everywhere, for that matter.

He rinsed, spat and reluctantly looked at himself in the mirror.  He was no Fabio.  He worked out and never had trouble getting dates, but the description of Eric bore no resemblance to him aside from the gray eyes and black hair.

If only Olympia could see him in worn flannel pajamas, sticky bed hair, bleary two-beer eyes and—what was that?—a caramel ice cream stain on his cheek.  He thumbed it off.  If Marissa Alvarez were there, she’d lick it off and keep on going.

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

“Oh, for crying out loud, stop it!”  He stormed back into the bedroom and stared at the offending object on his quilt.  He had to admit he’d gotten a little hot and bothered reading the damn thing. The point of view jumped back and forth between Eric and Marissa, the tough, no-nonsense cop who despite an excess of smarts, couldn’t resist super jerk Eric. Both of them were emotionally guarded but sexually insatiable. Olympia certainly had a knack for creating steamy pairings, even if they were hetero.

***

Cover by Robin Ludwig Designs

Shameless In Seattle, coming in January 2021!

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 will change his life.