Tally the Betrayals

This tale calls me. Plus I think it’s a short story. (No, I never know for sure, until I write it.) But if it’s short, I could complete it in a few weeks! Tempting!

ETA March 2016: I’m now writing Tally, and it is not a short story. It’s a novel, and probably a doorstopper novel! Stayed tuned. I’ll blog about my progress from time to time. 😀

ETA April 2017: The novel is now published! Follow this link to find The Tally Master at your favorite online store.

photo of Sint Baafskathedraal in Ghent

I bear the mark of Gaelan on my face, as do my brethren. But I alone, amongst all in the battalions under my lord Karbreys, bear that name. It is fitting, for I betrayed them all to their deaths. I am Gael. I am kin-slayer.

There in the bowels of the mad tower I crouched, listening to the scratching of my own quill pen. I tallied ingots of copper, ingots of tin – tin so rare. Who would believe the record keeper could be more lethal than the warrior.

The stone foundations around me echoed the metallic beating of swords, of shields, of helmets. My lord Karbreys was winning this war. His trolls mined copper ore from veins beneath the tower and smelted it with foreign tin arriving from afar, borne on galleys rowed by slaves. Every ingot in received its mark in my ledger. Every ingot out – tin and copper married to make bronze – I tallied likewise.

Who was to know that the bronze was weak? Not the four parts tin to ninety of copper demanded by the smith’s recipe, but three tin for seven and ninety copper. The blades hammered from these ingots would bend, and how would the warrior who bore one fare then?

Channeled by the tower’s tunnels, the roar of the blast furnace deafened my thoughts. Who would I betray? My kin who brought Lord Karbreys victory? The peculator stealing the tin?

Oh? Did you think it was I? Secreting nuggets away in some fastness?

No, ’twas another. Should I betray him?

Or must I betray our enemies, crushed beneath Karbreys’ might? Our enemies, those with pure faces, the ones from whom we come, trailing glory, before Gaelan marks us as his own.

* * *

For more fantasy samples, see:
Fate’s Door
Blood Falchion

For a science fiction sample, see:
Dream Trap



Witch’s Sweet

Third in my series of story openings. Is your mouth watering yet? 😉

photo of cake with flowers and butterfliesWhen Esther cursed me, it ruined the demon summoning, it ruined the party, it ruined everything!

The first I knew of it was when the cake – all twelve fabulous layers of luscious cinnamon-spiked lavishness – came out of the oven smelling like roses and rain water and rich garden loam.

Hello? A rain-scented garden is all very well in its place, but! Not as the centerpiece for a midnight ritual tea!

My nose twitched and I sneezed.

It was supposed to smell of vanilla and nutmeg and sweet. That bitch of a witch of a sister of mine! She’d cursed me! All because I’d snitched great-gran’s earrings from her stash – my sister’s, that is, not my gran’s; great-gran’s dead! – to wear to the coven’s festival of the harvest moon, blast her. She’d no right. Those earrings are mine as much as hers.

Or maybe it was the perfume bottle I spilled on her bedroom drugget? Her fave perfume, she’d said – all lilac and violet and lavender and bowery. And her favorite rug as well. (Sad moue.)

Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was because I’d told Benvolio – gorgeous Benvolio – about the time she’d mistaken a vial of dog poo for cleansing mud and massaged the goop into her hair and scalp. Pew! She’d stunk for three days before the funk wore off. But whatever it was – I could think of at least five more reasons – she’d cursed me! The rat!

I’m Callie, by the way, and I’m good at charms and talismans and rabbit’s feet and any kind of good luck conjure you care to name. Which made it all the more galling that a curse got through. Sisters are special that way.

It took me forever to re-do the cake. When it finally emerged – a second time – fragrant and chocolatey and lovely – yes, I switched recipes – the way a dessert of special awesomeness baked by moi is supposed to be – hah! – I thought that was the end of it. Hah, again! Of course you know it was the beginning. But I didn’t. Not then.

* * *

For more fantasy samples, see:
The Green Knight
The Thricely Odd Troll

For a science fiction sample, see:
Last Tide



Fate’s Door

I’ve got so many stories I’m longing to write, and I can’t decide which one to chose next. So I decided to ask my readers! This is the first post in a series of story openings. Take a read and … vote! 😀

ETA: I wrote Fate’s Door in 2015 and published it the November of that year. It’s a doorstopper, which many readers assure me is their preferred length. 😀 Fate’s Door is currently available as an ebook on Amazon. The paperback edition is coming soon.

Breaking Wave, Asilomar State Park

A long green comber rolled the man’s body, flaccid and pale in the water.

Nerine could almost smell the tang of the ocean, hear the roar of surf on an unseen, but nearby shore, taste the salt air on her lips. Or was it merely the salt tears running down her cheeks?

She’d stepped up behind her mistress. Well, Nerine answered to all three, but Tynghed was kindest.

She’d noted the rooks cawing in the Tree. Did they see visions in the well of destiny? Sense the dooms meted out there?

The shrouded norns had first watered the Tree, dipping from the spring’s chill outflow. Now they posed beside its deeps, meditating on the images they saw reflected. What did they see? Did they see Altairos, the sea-king of Zakynthos? Did they see what Nerine saw?

She steadied her quivering lip and felt Tynghed’s hand, stealing from within the fate’s cloak, slipping behind her to clasp Nerine’s hand.

Oh, god, oh, god, it could not be! Altairos drowned in the waves of his beloved ocean? And yet she knew it was. The breath of life would pass from him this day, and she would lay out the blue and green silks with which the norns would weave his fate. “I won’t. I won’t do it,” she breathed. But she would. The Spinner, the Weaver, and the Cutter commanded her obedience. How could a stranded sea nymph defy them?

“I must!”

* * *

For more fantasy samples, see:
Tally the Betrayals
Ravessa’s Ride

For a science fiction sample, see:
Dragon’s Tooth



Beauty, Charm, Cyril & Montmorency

I′ve shared many of my favorite non-fiction reads with you. I thing it′s long past time that I share favorite fiction! Here are four of the best.

illustration of rosesBeauty′s given name is Honour. Her nickname comes of a child′s childlike error, but the name chosen by her parents is no mistake. That quality will get her into trouble and out again in the course of this fabulous retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty at Amazon

Beauty at B&N


illustration showing Cat and Gwendolyn ChantYoung Cat Chant endures great changes and great losses, all the while clinging to his big sister Gwendolyn. But Cat must learn to stand on his own two feet and to make his own decisions. The safety of his world depends on it.

The Chronicles of Chrestomancy I:
Charmed Life
& The Lives of Christopher Chant
at Amazon

The Chronicles of Chrestomancy I:
Charmed Life
& The Lives of Christopher Chant
at B&N


montage image of cathedral, cat, Ned, VerityA romp through miscommunication, cross purposes, and the Victorian era turns serious when time travel creates a paradox. Ned Henry sets off to correct the anomaly with the goal of doctor-prescribed recuperation from time lag after he restores the space-time continuum, but said restoration grows more complex by the minute.

To Say Nothing of the Dog at Amazon

To Say Nothing of the Dog at B&N


illustration of men boating on the ThamesGeorge, Harris, J, and J′s dog embark on a boat trip up the Thames River in search of rest, recuperation, and recreation. The three men agree that their livers or other organs are out of order and office work is the cause. Rest and recuperation receive short shrift, but humorous adventure ensues.

Three Men in a Boat at Amazon

Three Men in a Boat at B&N


For more of my favorite reads, check these posts:
Duplicity, Diplomacy, Secrets & Ciphers
Mistakes, Missteps, Shady Dealing & Synchronicity
Courtship and Conspiracy, Mayhem and Magic
Gods & Guilt, Scandals & Skeptics