free fiction

WIP Wednesday and Thursday giveaway

First and foremost! Less Than Three Press is still running their fabulous FREE BOOKS giveaway tomorrow, so keep an eye on their Tumblr or @LT3Press at the top of each hour.

At some point tomorrow, Signal to Noise will be up for free for a whole hour – so if you haven’t yet nabbed a copy, here comes your chance! It’s a good time to brush up, because its sequel Klaxon at the Core makes the drop in June!

Today’s WIP Wednesday is a teaser for my most recently accepted story, “Castle on a Cloud,” which will be a part of the Project Fierce charity anthology.

    Jant Keed came to the cloudborne city of Skyrill to live out the opportunities that he and his brother Brannant could only dream of from afar. Instead, he finds himself on the street scraping by for each brass bit to make it from one day to the next. As he seeks shelter from the cold, he finds himself trading the tinders he could sell for visions that lure him to a turning point. The choice Jant makes could mean a bright future, or the end of one.

Jant Keed braced himself against the cold slap of wind that rolled in from the far side of the park’s expanse of manicured lawn. He tried to warm his chilled fingers with scant breath and wondered if there was a chance in the Frozen Hells he’d sell enough tinder to rent a cot to stay alive one night longer. The odds for a sale were increasingly small in the affluent upper terrace he’d spent his last brass bit to reach but the locale hadn’t been his choice. Skyrill was packed from lowton to royal tier for Midwinter’s Festival of Turning.

The Festival of Turning was such a pivotal celebration to the Four Aspects faith that Jant wasn’t surprised the cloudborne city of Skyrill was filled to capacity. Even guttersnipes had been evicted from trash bins by those higher on the street pecking order. Tradesmen were crammed in like canned fish in the gear district, grinders and beggars were pushed out of their usual pockets to fend for themselves, and even the tiniest tots had been displaced to seek a mercy shelter or run barefoot until they found a night’s charity. Jant himself had been elbowed out of the plot where he usually sold his pitch—a poor enough place between an alley and a trash heap—by a pair of older air whips with tousled dirty hair and sneers that promised violence.

On a clear, fair weather day the upper terraces like Proudmarch weren’t such a bad place to be. He’d even come more than once to admire the houses as much as to attempt his pitch. Jant shivered as another cold gust cut across his back. He attempted to curl himself into a tighter, more compact ball with his arms looped around his knees and gazed out over the empty walks that criss-crossed the front of the park. The sight summoned fresh misery that made his stoic expression crumble but he could only allow a brief, pained grimace before wiping it clean. He’d taken the steamcar to Proudmarch because he’d figured he wouldn’t have to fight for shill space, but there would be foot traffic enough to keep him in coin for one night more.

Showed how much Jant knew.

Proudmarch was deserted, and likely the other upper terraces as well. Jant had seen exactly two souls since his boots had left the steamcar and both of those had been servant class, proud enough in their finery but pressed for time or money. They didn’t need Jant’s tinder. All the fine houses were closed up tight, none in need of the heat or light Jant could provide with the self-contained globes of fire he could summon up to his palm and sell.

Fire was auspicious and in need in a place like Skyrill that had its share of a plentiful three—air, earth, and water—but was touched by fire only at dawn and dusk. Jant’s Aspect was fire and he thought he’d do well enough on the streets of Skyrill for all that, but he’d learned fast that his command of his Aspect was so slight as to be considered laughable. He could conjure tinder and make flames dance but not much more.

His eyes pricked and he steeled his face to hardness again, lifting a hand to summon up a bit of tinder. Fire burst into red-gold glory for an instant before Jant pulled on the flame with the ease of long practice, twisting it round itself. The surface formed a glassine orb, warm to the touch and etched in the flickering colors of the flame he’d summoned. He cradled the tinder in his hand and bit his lip against a sigh. He could cast it at his feet to release the flame again and it would warm him for a little while. Without a sale, though, it wouldn’t do anything for him; not fill his belly, nor find him shelter for the night. Each tinder used up a bit of his spirit and without the replenishment of food or sleep he’d be done for. Jant had seen his share of wide-eyed corpses over the past few days, left out overnight without any other option. He didn’t want to be one of them.

He straightened and hugged his knees as a tall man strode past with purposeful strides, his back toward Jant as he passed by the park. Jant half-stretched a hand and croaked, but by the time he’d cleared his throat Fehrad was gone.

Why wouldn’t he be? Jant’s doleful thought followed. Fehrad Bezuyt was a kind man, to be sure, having stopped a fair number of times on the street to buy tinder from Jant and share a few words of encouragement or advice. He was also too important to be dallying with the likes of Jant. A butler of House LeVries could have scraped Jant or his peers from the soles of his boots. It still caught Jant by surprise to be addressed by Fehrad on occasion.

If Fehrad was headed for Clairewater, the LeVries’ estate, at such a clip then he had business and no time for dallying. Jant balanced the tinder he’d conjured between his knees and stared with longing at the place where Fehrad’s wool-garbed broad shoulders had disappeared.

Jant had never seen a Kemet, one of the dark-skinned races to the far southeast, before coming to Skyrill. Fehrad had been the first and remained the most handsome to Jant’s eyes. He had a lean, sharp face with a pointed nose and thin lips that parted to reveal a brilliant smile with ready ease. He cut a stunning figure in his wool suits and waistcoats, or light linen when the weather permitted. Even in milder seasons the winds that buffeted Skyrill could be fierce. It was his hands that had truly snared Jant’s attention, though, being sturdy and calloused in a way that denoted he was no stranger to laborious work but well-shaped as fine sculpture for all that.

If he could have garnered Fehrad’s attention for a moment, he might have kindly purchased the tinder—at twice Jant’s asking price, as usual—but offered no further solace than for him to move along. There was no place in lowton, though, and Jant’s shiver wasn’t inspired by the wind when he considered the places he’d already been pushed out that day.

The cold was fierce enough, and the terrace empty enough, that Jant had considered breaking a window and crawling into one of the fine homes to hide for the night. At least the afternoon. Mayhem & Mischief’s patented alarm system would send up a clamor right quick, though, rousting the constables from their comfortable seats in the gastropub by the steam-rail station. They would find him with no great effort and the lockup would await him.

Jant’s thoughts traveled involuntarily to the sight of the great gray slate of the lockup, a terrace set apart from Skyrill’s storied propulsion-suspended levels. The dread that choked him was born of more than the prospect of being jailed. If he were to go there … they would find out. People would discover what he was. And a swift death would be the kindest thing that could await him.

His own parents had turned him out after his older brother Brannant had died—and why wouldn’t they? A boy spirit born into a girl’s body was evil, unlucky, impure. Jant’s spirit was tainted and it had been no great surprise to discover his Aspect was so limited. It had probably been stunted by the twisting of his own spirit from what had been intended in the body where he’d taken root.

He breathed on his chapped hands and turned his thoughts forcibly from the miserable realities that had brought him there. He had to focus on what came next.

Instead of breaking in someplace, Jant would keep watch in the park, alert for some stray worker who wasn’t at a worship center. He’d hide as the constables made their final rounds before turning in for the night to take their ease at the gastropub while they watched the main worship rites on the transmit-tube. At that point he could wedge himself under a bench and hope for the best. It wouldn’t be warm, but he’d make as compact a shape of himself as he could. Theft had never much occurred to him even when he was scraping cobblestones for a bit of brass, but right then Jant would have eagerly taken a blanket from a line if anyone had been amiss to leave it there.

Jant looked down at his hands with numb concern as he realized he could scarcely feel them. He chafed his fingers together, blew on them again, and bitterly considered the impact of each exhalation as his spirit left with it.

He would freeze or his last breath would leave him before the constables made their next round.

Giveaway, cover reveal, and more … oh my!

Tomorrow, at some point: the first volume of my Appetite series will be available as part of the Less Than Three Press five-year anniversary giveaway!


You’ll be able to grab a copy of this lovely e-book FOR FREE, during a very narrow window of opportunity. Keep an eye on the giveaway post or the Less Than Three tumblr or @LT3Press to see when the giveaway goes live.

Direct listing for A Cut Above the Rest is here.


Alex always had it easy growing up, indulged by loving, but busy parents as he flitted from one interest to another without settling. Then he discovered the world of fine dining and became determined to be a chef capable of producing such magnificent meals. Despite the doubts of a father who limited his funds, and the difficulties of leaving Germany to live in the United States, Alex stuck to his new goal and graduated the Culinary Institute of America.

Fresh out of school, he is eager to begin work at the restaurant owned by a good friend of his father’s, a restaurant well known for the beautiful, innovative meals its chefs create. He is primed to join the ranks of those masterful chefs—until the day he starts, and learns that he is nothing more than kitchen lackey, lower in rank than even the dishwashers.

Worse, his boss is none other than Nik, the beautiful, infuriating, highly talented classmate that Alex could never best—or resist.

And now, the beautiful cover reveal you’ve all been waiting for… my next to-be-published novel, Klaxon at the Core:

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Klaxon at the Core is the sequel to Signal to Noise.

    After surviving alone on Noise for years, Bastian and Theo are exhilarated and terrified by the thriving chaos of Central. Even in the middle of civilization, they stand apart, bound together by their years of isolation. Central is their chance to change that, and to find the ordinary lives they never knew on Noise. Long, lonely days struggling to survive are firmly in their past.

    But the present proves to hold conflicts of its own, and if Bastian and Theo hope to survive to enjoy their new lives, they may have to return to the hard lessons of their nightmarish past …

That’s enough for one post. More news soon to come, so keep checking back. ♥

Back from hiatus with free fiction!

First up, it’s not too late for a last taste of Christmas with The Mistletoe Maneuver, in which Kenneth Whitaker thinks Zach Yamato has been avoiding him for three years’ worth of Christmas parties, when in fact it’s Kenneth who has been avoiding the risks associated in taking up with someone so young, charismatic, and well-connected. Kenneth has to decide if he’ll put his own desires over his fear of how their relationship could jeopardize his career.

Kayelle Allen has listed The Mistletoe Maneuver on her latest edition of the Romance Lives Forever e-zine.

More content coming soon: update on The Fall Guide, a teaser for my next story cover, and word on all the latest projects. There’s more than enough to keep me working through the new year!

Tonight we’re going to an impromptu wedding and I have a list a mile long to get through, so I’d better get started on that. Happy holidays!

Surfeit for the Senses giveaway

To celebrate the release week for Surfeit for the Senses (and my upcoming birthday!) I’m opening a giveaway for the latest book of the Appetite series.


With the buzz and drama of competition behind them, Alex is determined to focus on the one thing that matters most: his budding relationship with Nik. All the pieces seem to be finally falling into place, as he settles into his new living arrangements and gets back into the rhythm of the kitchen, while he and Nik spend all their precious free time together.

Life never stays smooth for long, however. The combined weight of family tragedy, television fame, and new, unexpected responsibilities strain the bonds of Alex and Nik’s partnership, and conflict between them demands they settle the question of equality once and for all. Pulled in so many directions, it may be more than a new relationship can take.

Surfeit for the Senses is available now for pre-order, and released Tuesday night through Less Than Three Press here. You can also read an excerpt.

The Giveaway:
To celebrate the release, I’m offering an e-book copy of Surfeit for the Senses to one lucky winner, chosen by random numbers selected by from the comments of this entry. This is the e-book version, and I will send a copy in your preferred format; epub, HTML, mobi, PDF.

To enter, drop a comment (you MUST include an email or means of contact or I cannot count your entry). If you enter your email as part of submitting the comment, that counts. Comment between now and next Sunday, July 28th. Winners will be chosen Monday morning.

That’s it!

If you’d like additional chances to enter and increase your chances of winning, you may do the following:

– Promote/share any of my Facebook posts mentioning Surfeit’s release.
– Post a comment on my/your Facebook about the novel.
– Promote/share my Tumblr post promoting Appetite’s release.
– Retweet my author tweet on Twitter regarding the release.
– Become a fan on Goodreads.
– Leave a comment or make a post promoting the novel on your own social venue (any and all – WordPress, LJ, DW, blogspot, just link me so I can verify)

Basically, spread the word in any possible fashion and you can get an additional chance to win your own ebook copy of Surfeit for the Senses!

Many thanks, I appreciate your stopping by, and good luck with the giveaway. (And hey, if you’ve already pre-ordered, enter anyhow! You can always give a copy to a friend. ^_~)

Also, the blog tour begins tomorrow at The Armchair Reader, so join me for exclusive sneak peeks and bonus content all week, and more chances to win!

Fantastic free fiction! And a new review.


Cheaper than a speeding bullet!
More portable than a locomotive!
Able to enter your computer at a single bound!

“Look! Up on the screen!”
“It’s a blurb!”
“It’s a .png!”
“It’s Shousetsu Bang*Bang!”

Do you like superheroes? Do you like super hot guys? Then the latest edition of Shousetsu Bang*Bang, volume 43, is for you!

Once again, Shousetsu Bang*Bang sets itself apart as a purveyor of fine, diverse, and high-quality fiction, available to you at no cost! Except for your comments, and I hope you’ll repay the author’s time if you enjoy their story.

In other happy news, Serena Yates with Rainbow Book Reviews has given A Cut Above the Rest a four-star review. “With characters as colorful as their productions, and the fierce competition and passion between them, this book is a true delight for all the senses.” And if I’m not mistaken, Joyfully Jay will be next… I’ll keep you posted! Check out the great things Serena had to say.

Surfeit for the Senses will be making its debut on the menu July 24th, so I hope you’ve already caught up with the latest in the Appetite series, The Competitive Edge!

Coming next: an entry on the importance of assimilating and working with concrit.

The Way to Your Heart: Nail Polish!

First things first: today is the last day to sign up for T.T. Kove’s giveaway for her lovely seasonal romance, Sakura Kiss! She’ll be choosing a winner using the random number selector tomorrow.

Next up for my third post for the Way to Your Heart blog hop:

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Another quick and easy way to my heart is to cater to one of my current serious obsessions: nail polish.

I used to be not much of a fan, actually, because of the smell – and the way it felt on my nails, like a coat of something that smothered them. Then companies started going 3, 4, and 5-free – harmful ingredients toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (dibutyl phthalate), formaldehyde resin, and camphor. And, I saw a fantastic shade of gray nail polish on Bill Kaulitz.

Office neutrals had never really interested me, but that edgy gray was like a whole world opening up to me. I found myself at the cosmetics counter getting Chanel Black Pearl and Dior Gris Montaigne. A couple of months later, I made it a workout reward, and wow, it was a full-on slide into its own obsession from there. Nail polish became its own reward! I started maintaining a nail polish tumbler:

There was so much to do with polish and simple nail art that there hadn’t been when I’d done my nails when I was younger. It was like a fascinating new universe opening up to me, and the brands that didn’t have any harmful chemicals didn’t feel like they smothered my nails at all.

So, a bottle of nail polish in just the right color is a fast path to my heart. From those edgy grays I went to finding just the right hue in every shade across the spectrum, but far and away my favorites tend to be blues, teals, and greens though I have a serious weakness for a good nude, and holographic micro-glitter is one of my favorite things ever.

To show you some of what I love, here are six of my favorite manicures from the past year. It was hard to narrow them down to six, of course.

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Illamasqua Fragile, the color I wore over Easter weekend.

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A-England St. George with a scalloped ribbon of A-England Holy Grail – one of my fun “save a chipped tip” manicures, I featured this not too long ago for Manicure Monday.

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Essie Butler Please – my perfect Tardis blue!

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Chanel Quartz and Pixel Till I’m Blue Over You/China Glaze Snowglobe checkers. My first time doing a checker manicure, and I still need to do this again! So much fun, and so pretty.

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Sephora by OPI Traffic Stopper Copper over sponged half-gradient of Brisbane Bronze over Essie Sand Tropez. This one was inspired by something I reblogged on Tumblr, though I used different colors and a bronze under the glitter. I loved the way it turned out.

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Chanel Delight, the most gorgeous finely-milled bronzy coppery gold with a micro-glitter almost holographic spark to it.

And to sign off, don’t forget to check my giveaway post, where I offer a free copy of A Cut Above the Rest (or anything from my back catalogue, if you already have that).

Have a great week, and may your polish dry quickly and smudge-free!

The Way to Your Heart: Food!

It will be no surprise to anyone who’s followed me for any length of time that food, in particular, is one of my delights and passions.

My entries for “The Way to Your Heart” Blog Hop continue with today’s topic: food!

Tip – don’t forget to check out Less Than Three Press‘s entry, because they have some smashing things to give away!

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I love to cook, to eat, and to watch many shows about cooking! I’m always looking for new recipes to try, from the Living section of the newspaper to the blogs that I frequent, or even recipes reblogged on Tumblr.

Today, I ate a clam and asparagus risotto that I made for lunch, and watched Top Chef season 9 while finishing up edits on The Competitive Edge. After work, I made a beef ribeye roast with a merlot-mushroom reduction sauce, broccoli, and oven-roasted potatoes for dinner (and watched more Top Chef).

And tomorrow, we’re going to La Capitale for lunch before I get quite the haircut.

Food was a big part of my life growing up, and it’s become even bigger now that I’m an adult. Sometimes I wonder, if things had been a little different, whether I might have become a chef! I think I have a lot of the qualities that I see in those competitive chefs that I so admire.

My relationship with food has … not exactly changed, but shifted a lot since I joined up with Weight Watchers four years ago. I like to think I’ve entered a permanently healthier relationship with food, and it’s definitely paid off – I’ve lost 55 pounds and counting. I’m still as actively interested in finding new recipes and cooking delicious food. Now, though, it’s important to find a balance within the quantity of food I’m eating in any given day, and making sure to abide by good health guidelines.

The purpose of this entry isn’t to proselytize for any lifestyle or eating habit changes – I’m also a big believer that you have to want to make a change, and be individually responsible for it yourself. Sharing this background is more meant to express how important the shift in my relationship to food has been for me personally.

To sum it up, food is definitely and incontrovertibly one of the ways to my heart!


To celebrate my love for food, I’m offering an ebook copy of my book, A Cut Above the Rest, or your choice of a book from my back catalogue if you already have that, in the format of your choice – html, pdf, mobi, or epub.

And to sign up, all you have to do this time is comment! With a valid email address, please, so that I can contact you. And let me know what you thought about the entry, if you would! Giveaway closes next Friday, April 12th. Good luck, and may your meals be ever tasty and piping hot!