I'm usually terrible at entering competitions—too clueless to know about them, and lazy to do something about the few I know—but for once got my shit together enough to enter a couple of my cover designs to EPIC. One of them was chosen to be a finalist. This is the full print version of the cover:
The book's not m/m but straight-up mystery. Most of the covers I design are not even romance, and I like the variety. The concept came from the author, as it's generally the case. It has more individual elements than any cover I've done so far. This is where it begun:
Yes, it was a bit of work putting it all together. :P
propinquity |prəˈpiNGkwətē| noun1 the state of being close to someone or something; proximity: he kept his distance as though afraid propinquity might lead him into temptation.2 technical close kinship.
ORIGIN late Middle English: from Old French propinquité, from Latin propinquitas, from propinquus ‘near,’ from prope ‘near to.’
I acquired this word curtesy of P.G. Wodehouse. Propinquity, desired and otherwise, is a major theme of his books. And pigs.
Characters in British books have such great names. Like Gussy Fink-Nottle. American books suffer from a shortage of Fink-Nottles and the like. Somebody much more assiduous than me could do a scholarly research about the relationship between national character and naming of fictional characters. I've often wondered how Terry Pratchett named the denizens of Discworld.
pawl |pôl| nouna pivoted curved bar or lever whose free end engages with the teeth of a cogwheel or ratchet so that the wheel or ratchet can only turn or move one way.• each of a set of short stout bars that engagewith the whelps and prevent a capstan, windlass, or winch from recoiling.
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: perhaps from Low German and Dutch pal (related to pal ‘fixed’).
One of those things you never knew what they were—like the metal bit at the end of shoestrings. The things for which the words thingamajig and whatchamacallit were invented.
theurgy |ˈTHēərjē| nounthe operation or effect of a supernatural or divine agency in human affairs.• a system of white magic practiced by the early Neoplatonists.
theurgic |THēˈərjik| adjective.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: via late Latin from Greek theourgia ‘sorcery,’ from theos ‘god’ + -ergos ‘working.’
I nicked this word straight from Grand-Wizard Terry Pratchett to use in my own story. Magic is all fine and well for common use, but institutional purposes—like police reports—you need a more officious-sounding term.
Charmed and Dangerous finally hit the shelves today, and I figured I’d blather about world building a little. Not because I’m an expert, but reading the other stories in the anthology I kept going oh, that’s brilliant, I wish I thought of it! And it started me thinking about world building. So much of what makes a speculative fiction story solid is behind the scenes.
One Hex Too Many centered on magic, the fae only got a mention, but they were already in the background, waiting for their chance to step out. They’ll get that chance in the sequel. Here are a few tidbits about them.
In this world magic is real and paranormal creatures share it with humans. The history if this reality was much similar to ours up till the industrial revolution. At that junction the encroachment of human technology forced a portion of fae kind deeper into hiding, some withdrew completely—they might have even gone extinct, though one never knows for sure. Others responded to the challenge by stepping out of the shadows, make their presence known beyond all doubt.
As you might expect, humankind had a mixed reaction to the arrival of these emigrants of another dimension. Preternatural Beings (official term) still haven’t fully integrated into human society, but the Fae Rights League is working hard to change this. Some fae do better than others.
The strength and resilience made ogres perfect for strong-arm jobs from body guards to mob enforcers. The drawback of employing ogres is that you can buy only their services, not their loyalty. That belongs only to their clans. Ogres are also smarter than they look, and are staring up their own businesses—something not all humans find agreeable.
Trolls are as strong, if not stronger, than ogres, but their solitary nature and idiosyncratic ways keep their interactions with humans minimal. They are masters of adaptation a can seamlessly blend into their environment. Griffin Park, across from the river from New Sky is the home of sever rock trolls and forest trolls. There’s at least one city troll living in Faetown, but he spends the daylight hours looking just another brick wall.
Well, that’s it for now. I might prattle on about goblins and pixies at some other time.
I was listening to Star Trap by Simon Brett when the word came up, and left me puzzled. So I stopped the audiobook, opened the dictionary app, and got a mini history lesson.
balaclava |ˌbaləˈklävə| (also balaclava helmet) nouna close-fitting garment covering the whole head and neck except for parts of the face, typically made of wool.
ORIGIN late 19th cent.(denoting a garment worn originally by soldiers serving in the Crimean War): named after the village of Balaclavain the Crimea (see Balaclava, Battle of).Balaclava, Battle of |ˌbaləˈklävə| a battle of the Crimean War, fought between Russia and an alliance of British, French, and Turkish forces in and around the port of Balaclava (now Balaklava) in the southern Crimea in 1854. The battle ended inconclusively; and is chiefly remembered as the scene of the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Most I recall of my high school history classes is boredom and the recitation on names and dates. All I actually know of history is from books, films, and television.
The Charge of the Light Brigade sounds like humongous military fuck-up worthy of Black Adder. Although George McDonald Frasier gave it a good go too in Flashman at the Charge. Sir Harry Flashman is the perfect anti-hero, an unabashed coward who constantly finds himself in the heat of the battle, despite his best efforts to avoid them.
My favorite though is Astrid Amara's Devil Lancer. Probably because it's full of dark paranormal mystery and steamy m/m goodness.
As I was searching for images on Pinterest, I discovered that the Crimean War was also Florence Nightingale's first big job.
Another word I want to steal from the Brits. The greedy imperial bastards keep hogging the best ones. Bollocks to them, I say.
(Illustration by Duane Bryers)
embonpoint |ˌäNbôNˈpwaN| nounthe plump or fleshy part of a person's body, in particular a woman's bosom.
ORIGIN late 17th cent.: from French en bon point ‘in good condition.’
I don't recall where I picked up this beauty. Might have been a book by Terry Pratchett. Or was it KJ Charles? They are both excellent at broadening my vocabulary.
A few months ago Jordan Castillo Price asked me if I'd be interested in contributing a short story to an anthology she was putting together. I didn't have to think about it twice—it was a no brainer. Especially, considering the other authors involved.
The tricky bit was deciding on the story. Fortunately, I have a Moleskine notebook where I jot down stray ideas, disembodied dialogues, and other random bits and bobs. One struck my fancy right away: a comic take on the old trope of the narrator looking into a mirror and describing what he sees. In my version he does just that, but the visage in the mirror isn’t his own reflection.
This is how it happens in the final telling:
A blond man with blue eyes and cheekbones sharp enough to etch crystal looked at me from the mirror. Even my regrettably caffeine-starved brain registered the wrongness of this image. I knew for a fact that my own coloration was dull brown and the less was said of my cheekbones, the better.
Mirror-man waited patiently while I stared. His good looks were as overdramatic as the sky outside. His left brow twitched in a familiar way. "Good morning, Detective Mulligan."
“Good morning, Leslie,” I said. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” I was aiming for sarcasm but I’d had too few hours of sleep to hit the bullseye.
He gave me a toothy smile. “I'm happy to see you too, Buttercup. Or should I say Teddybear?”
I scratched my—admittedly hairy—chest. “Whatever you want, Les, just get on with it.” Leslie Morland, assistant to Captain Karl Parker, my boss, had many excellent qualities. Short-windedness wasn’t one of them.
“The Captain wants to see you as soon as you get in.”
“You could’ve called on the phone, like normal people. Or, even better, leave a note on my desk.”
“Biannual test of alternate communications—Captain’s mandate.” His lips formed a lewd curve. “And I wouldn’t want to pass up my chance to see you in your morning glory. Besides, I wanted to be sure you actually made it in before noon.”
“I had a late night,” I grumbled, and it was true—I hadn’t gotten home from the stakeout till the wee hours.
“So I heard. Nonetheless, Captain Parker would love to see you in person, the sooner the better. I’ve been waiting for you to rise for the last twenty minutes. You should really put a mirror into your bedroom.” His leer deepened. “Over the bed would be ideal.”
“Not in your dreams,” I retorted. Departmental use of mirrors for communications was strictly regulated and safeguarded with multiple layers of security hexes, but nothing was ever a hundred percent safe. There was always a small chance one of those rogue hacker wizards—wackers for short—could get through. In over a decade on the Force I developed a healthy dose of paranoia.
Leslie pursed his lips—they got a lot of exercise. “I beg to differ. Everything’s possible in my dreams.” His voice switched to business—more or less. “Pleasantries aside, when can we expect you to grace us with your manly presence?”
“Forty minutes. Now go away; I need to shave.”
To get to this point, however, I had to figure out who was looking into the mirror and who was looking back and how all this came about. The process involved figuring out the man character’s name, job, his back story, and the world around him, where mirrors could do funny things. It was an exhilarating process, filled with possibilities and potential, and I succeed a little too well. One Hex Too Many is the first my story entirely set in an alternate universe/reality, but not the last one. I’m already working on the sequel.
If you like m/m paranormal romance and or urban fantasy Charmed and Dangerous is guaranteed to have something to tickle your fancy. It’ll come out on August 25, but is available for preorder on Amazon already. Have fun!
(Isn't that cover just sexy?)