January 8, 2015
Here’s an excerpt from Natural Instincts. These are Kyle’s thoughts on camping, at least at the beginning of the story.
By now it was near midnight, pitch-black, and to my overwhelming joy, it began to rain. I sat there, looking through my mud-spattered windshield at the thick, dark forest I’d been driving through, and wondered what a guy like me was doing here. The road looked less passable beyond the building—I was going to have to go through a mud-bogger’s dream before the road went up a steep hill that looked like something out of a motocross rider’s course. This place had no resemblance to its website’s images of happy little tents in a grassy field on the shore of a lake with maple trees in the background. The crowning image for me had been an artist’s rendition of a loon looking over its shoulder, perfectly feathered, its red eye burning, wild and mysterious and free. The campground looked like the perfect setting for an overworked financial analyst who’d never taken a vacation to relax, rejuvenate, and find himself.
A man with perfect recall, but with so much he wished he could forget.
Who agrees with Kyle’s first impression that camping is no fun? Or who has has some wonderful camping experiences?
(My tent. The tarp over the table is because it ALWAYS rains.)
January 8, 2015
Natural Instincts is about Kyle, who has been abused in the past and feels that he was damn lucky to get out of love alive. He won’t speak aloud to anybody because, as he puts it, he used up his voice screaming. He is a math genius, a financial wizard, and a city boy to the core. His memory is so good that he can never forget a single detail of what happens to him. The only reason he’s doing the tenting thing is because his therapist has talked him into it. He does not want to be here, though he admits that seeing a loon would be very cool.
Jon couldn’t be any more different. He has a deep, magical connection to nature, and he is self-assured and powerful. Neither of them wants to fall in love, especially not with each other. In fact, the first time they meet, Jon is so angry that Kyle fears for his life. But there is common ground for them, and by the end of the story, Kyle gets way closer to nature than he ever expected.
Writing from the point of view of a character who doesn’t speak aloud was a challenge, but it allowed me to get very deeply into Kyle’s head. I should confess that when Kyle is desperate, he will take out his phone and type a message, but that happens rarely. Even though I am far, very far, from being a math genius and finances make me nauseous, I feel a strong connection to Kyle. My favorite scene is when he is learning how to canoe. Canoeing is actually one thing I’m really good at (she said modestly) since I grew up on a lake.
Any canoe enthusiasts out there? Most people, I’ve found, either love canoes or wouldn’t be caught dead in one.
(This is my canoe. It’s old, but a very fine boat.)
January 8, 2015
I’m here on the Dreamspinner Press Blog today hosting a release party for my new novella, Natural Instincts. HERE is the link to ordering information.
Most people would consider near perfect recall, an ability to crunch numbers that rivals a computer’s, and an uncanny knack for predicting the stock market to be remarkable gifts. But for Kyle, those abilities also curse him to recall every moment of his horrible, abusive past. Searching for an escape, he takes his therapist’s advice and leaves his finance job behind for a weeklong camping trip on a remote lake in Vermont. He’s not sure how a week in seclusion with nothing but his own thoughts for company will be the reprieve he needs. Then he stumbles across a man engaged in a pagan ritual and is drawn into mysteries he never dreamed existed, and realizes nature is more distracting than he thought.
The idea for Natural Instincts came to me when an image popped into my head of a nude man standing on a picnic table in the middle of the night with his arms raised to the sky like a sculpture. Who was this man? What was he doing? And who caught him doing it?
I had to write the story to find out. Before I knew it, I was caught up in old magic and canoes and loons and a man who refuses to speak aloud and even some BDSM stuff going on in a tent. I’ve had a wonderful time in Kyle and Jon’s world, and I’m so exited to be able to share it with you all.
HERE is a link to the book trailer.
Anyone who leaves me a message on any of my posts today will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Natural Instincts.
I’ll be popping in and out all day, but I’ll be here for sure this evening once my school day is done. Thanks for stopping in!
January 5, 2015
My usual Sorting Cat, Amelia, was taking a nap, so I recruited young William (named not for Mr Marshall, but by the animal shelter–and he liked the name, so it stuck) to pick today’s winners. As you can see, he appreciates books:
The procedure is simple: I write the name on bits of paper, fling them in the air, and my lovely assistant picks out the two likeliest bits.
Trix and Shirley, send me your emails at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll pass them along.
Su and Angela.. I’ll be doing a Facebook chat on Dreamspinner’s site on the 17th, and there will be another prize.
Thanks for stopping by! And now .. back to the edits for Sail Away!
January 5, 2015
I’ve been on and off today due to a bad cold and grogginess. I’ll wait til 8 pm Eastern to give anyone else a chance to post, then pick a couple of winners!
January 5, 2015
-25 windchill here in southern Ontario… How is it where you are? (and if you’re in Hawaii, please try not to gloat…) Download prize for the best weather report!
The door was shut, bolted, and locked, a coat hung on the knob to block the keyhole. Even in his distracted state, Will observed the precautions necessary to protect them from the laws of the land they risked their lives for—laws that would see them hanged for loving one another.
That done, he met Davy’s eyes and, without a word, took him in his arms, gratefully breathing in the scent of his hair, allowing the weight of command to slip from his shoulders. For a little while they simply held one another, the sound of their breathing lost in the crackle of the fire and the wind nagging outside the shutters.
What are we going to do? Neither said it. There was no need, and he was glad of it, for he had no answers.
The warmth of Davy’s body against his gradually thawed Marshall’s frozen soul, and life—sensation—began to return. Then, suddenly, like an ice-pack breaking on a frozen river, desire surged through him. His hands slipped down to Davy’s arse, and his lover’s hands on his own body mirrored his action. Their first real kiss in uncounted days left him breathless and hungry for more.
Davy pulled back a bit and started to loosen his neck-cloth. “Let me,” Will said. With clumsy fingers he undid the knot and nuzzled Davy’s neck, savoring the scent that was uniquely Davy’s own.
Davy sighed and let his head drop back. “You’re growing bolder, sir.” He tugged at the laces at the back of Will’s breeches. “Shall we dispense with these?”
Touching, kissing, never quite letting go of each other, they managed to shed their clothing and leave it draped over the chair beside the table near the window.
They didn’t often have a room to themselves; he didn’t often get the chance to just look at Davy. Will held him at arms’ length and took advantage of the opportunity. He’d never get used to the short-cropped hair, even though Davy had assured him it was the fashion now. But that didn’t matter. Here he was, still a little too thin but golden and beautiful and his own dear love.
But for how much longer?
The fear made him desperate. He stepped back to the bed, pulling Davy down on top of him, his own body aching with desire. Davy responded eagerly, as he always did, and before very long Will was able to silence all the questions in his mind with the simple certainty of passion. They rocked together, their sweat and the pressure of skin on skin supplying all that was necessary. At some point Davy rolled onto his back and Will drove against him, feeling Davy’s body rise to meet him.
Honor, duty… what did any of it mean without this?
January 5, 2015
This is the sort of house I pictured as Davy’s family home – yes, this is Longleat, and no, Davy’s fictional family never lived here—but it’s on the general scale of what I had in mind—minus Longleat’s pond, lions, tigers and other interesting but geographically misplaced beasts. Will Marshall freaks out when he sees the place—he really had not imagined Davy’s family was this well-to-do.
Davy knows it’s big, but he grew up here—as a small, book-loving boy in a family of big, huntin’ – fishin’ – sportin’ males. He doesn’t really feel like an important part of the family, though he loves the land and thinks of the local residents as ‘his people.’
A manor house was more than a home for the immediate family and the small battalion of live-in servants and day people. It was the nerve center of the estate—headquarters, more or less, for the various land-based activities that brought in the money that paid for the stunning architecture, the mansions in London and the vacation homes in scenic districts, the tailor-made clothing and jewelry that cost more than a working family would earn in a lifetime. In a farming district, the revenue came from agriculture, sheep, cattle… mostly produced by tenants who paid rent on long-term leases.
The lord of the manor had responsibilities to these folks – noblesse oblige – and a landowner who was irresponsible or greedy could send not only his own family into poverty, but wreck the lives of his tenants as well. Even though he never expected to inherit, Davy’s still worried about what will happen if his brother Ronald steps into their father’s shoes.
Ronald is selfish—he sees the estate not as a living entity that requires maintenance, but as a kind of giant piggy bank—and he bitterly resents the accident of birth that put him second in order of succession. Due to the British system of “entailment,” the Earl cannot remove him from the line of succession, even though he knows Ronald is unfit for the responsibility.
Will has no brothers or sisters, so he doesn’t really understand how bitter sibling rivalry can be. I’m the oldest of four sibs, and … well, let’s just say I’ve seen some real middle-child animosity over a birth order I had no say in. Fortunately it never got to the point of projectile weapons.
But police records show that it is most often close relatives who are likely to do one in… and part of being a writer is taking a grain of reality sand and turning it into a fictional boulder… and then dropping it on some poor, unsuspecting character’s head.
January 5, 2015
We all have more than one name – and I’m not talking about writers or artists who use pen names, either. I’m talking about the different roles we all have in our lives, and the names that go with those roles.
For instance, a lot of us go by our first name at work, and with family and friends. But most people are “Mom” or “Dad” to their offspring. You might be “Son,” to your parents (isn’t it funny how seldom anyone calls their daughter “daughter?” Maybe it’s because it’s a longer word…) and many of us have embarrassing childhood nicknames that considerate siblings avoid using in public. If you’re a doctor or dentist or vet, you might be “Dr. Jones” or “Dr. Pat” or something of that sort; if you’re in the military you might be Sgt. Lastname. If you’re calling a friend on the phone, you’d probably say, “Hi, Firstname!” If you were calling them from across a field, you might yell their last name – or I would, anyway – because there may be a thousand Joes but only a few Flugelheimers.
The way you’re addressed also says something about your relationship with the person who’s speaking to you. (Most kids know that if Mom starts out with their full name, they’re in trouble.) Even the way you talk to yourself says something. “Well, Lee,” I might say to myself, “we’re past the holidays. It’s time to start thinking about less food and more exercise.” Or, on a deadline, “Look, Rowan, it’s time to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and get that blog written.”
I’ve had this on my mind because of a recent review in which the reviewer seemed to be conspicuously irked because I did not refer to my characters in Ransom in the same way every time I mentioned them. I’ve had this noted in edits, too, and thought maybe it’s time to talk about this—what I do and why I do it.
I first noticed how a name affects the mood of a story when I was a teenager—anyone else remember the old Man from UNCLE novels based on the TV series? That was my education in authorial style. Some of the writers were clearly doing by-the-book hack writing: they had the stylesheet, they had the names, and the universe outline—but they had no sense of the fun and camaraderie between the characters. Those writers used last names.
Other writers—particularly David McDaniel and J Hunter Holly—had a better feeling for the characters and often used first names. After devouring the books a dozen times (this was before videotape,* remember, before the internet, before fanfic) I saw how the use of first names was subtly different, creating a sense of intimacy that most fans already had from the series. Those books were just more fun. And in a story where the plotline is part adventure and part love story, intimacy is essential.
But intimacy is not always something that’s safe to reveal.
In the Royal Navy series, Will and Davy live a double life because if their relationship becomes known, they are dead – and not metaphorically, either. Also, they’re in the military—last names are part of their professional identity. When they are not alone, on duty or off, they generally think of themselves the way they’re addressed, as Mr. Marshall or Mr. Archer. (Mr. was the informal title for anyone under the rank of captain. This was a more formal time—you didn’t address a social equal by first name unless invited to do so.) David usually thinks of himself as “Archer,” and Will usually thinks of himself as “Marshall,” though he sometimes slips into first-name mode when he’s feeling relaxed. And they often think of themselves by first-name when they’re together in private.
How they think of each other is a little different. In duty situations, it’s generally last name as well; the charade is played for mortal stakes and it’s easier to stay in role. When they’re intimate, it’s definitely first names. And when Will is worried about his lover—which happens more often later in the series—he’s almost always Davy. Will isn’t even aware he does this. Speaking to others, he would refer to Davy as “Mr. Archer.”
But when they’re in bed… Well, if they call each other “Mister,” there, it’s purely in fun.
Deciding on this point-of-view business for Home is the Sailor was complicated because almost everyone in the story is an Archer – though none of them are addressed that way because David’s father is His Lordship (the father-son relationship is not close), his mother is “my mother,” and his sisters are (technically) Lady First Name. But while Will thinks of them as Lady Amelia (et al), Davy never does. And he refers to his brothers, living and dead, on a first-name basis. Though if he were honest, and not a well-mannered gentleman, he would probably refer to one of them as “that rat.” So in Home, Davy is “David” in his own point of view, and “Davy” in Will’s.
So – does this makes sense to you as readers? (Or is this something you notice at all?) Do you have some friends who address you by first name and others by last? How did that come about – college, the military, professional formality?
I’ll be drawing a winner for a download of the Royal Navy e-book of your choice from the answers on this post.
* Strange but true! There are people alive today who saved their favorite TV shows on reel-to-reel tape recorders, and took blurry photos off their TV screens!
January 5, 2015
It’s a grey January day here, but it’s warm and sunny somewhere, so … Launch Party! Bang a bottle of champagne on the hull – not too hard, don’t waste it! – pour a glass for Neptune and Calypso, and pass the rest around.
I’m Lee Rowan and I’m delighted to announce that Home is the Sailor is back in print as of right now!
Just about a year ago to the day, I was informed that Cheyenne Publishing was going out of business, and that began a mad scramble to find a new publisher. There were two that I really, really hoped would be interested, and Dreamspinner was one of those… and I got lucky. And then I got luckier still when Reese Dante was assigned to do my covers. I ask you – is this gorgeous, or what?
For those who haven’t read any of my Royal Navy series, the storyline follows two young officers in (of course) the British navy in the Napoleonic War era, starting just before the turn of the 19th century. At the time, same-sex relationships were a crime punishable by death. In Ransom, Will Marshall and David Archer become lovers – it’s quite a shock for Will but a dream come true for Davy, who’s been living with unrequited love for several years. In Winds of Change and Eye of the Storm, now in a single volume, they deal with major changes including a near-death experience for Davy.
If you want to go peek at the synopses (and the first two beautiful covers), you can find them here: http://www.lee-rowan.net/2.html
The 3rd book in the Royal Navy series, Home Is the Sailor is set immediately following Eye of the Storm. After an unprovoked attack during peacetime—was it revenge for their abduction of one of Bonaparte’s top military scientists?—Commander William Marshall and his lover, David Archer, are sent into hiding at David’s ancestral home in Devon.
But this is no peaceful shore leave. With the best intentions in the world, Will has discovered that his fear of losing Davy is still stronger than his desire to keep Davy beside him on the quarterdeck. And Lieutenant Archer is having problems of his own–the family that seemed so rock-solid, if distant, is staggering under the loss of its eldest son and heir. Was it an accident… or murder? And if so, how will he ever prove it to an autocratic father who still sees him as the inept youngest son? Out of their element, Davy and Will are thrust into the role of sleuths while trying to determine what sort of future, if any, they may have together.
Here’s an excerpt:
The apparently harmless craft, which they had passed on their way into shore, was now bristling with guns; the notion of passing close to the other vessel now seemed an imprudent one. As the Mermaid came into small-arms range, the enemy began to fire.
At least this was an enemy their little guns could reach. “Fire as you bear,” Marshall shouted.
He could have sworn he heard a similar order from the other ship, and the pop-pop of the small arms was punctuated by the boom of an undersized cannon, most likely a swivel gun like their own. One lucky shot was all either of them would require, and the fight would be over. On his present course, he would be past them in only a few minutes. But with the wind as it was, he could not veer too far away, without risking that damaged section of bow. If the Mermaid dipped enough that the hole in her bow scooped up water, not only would she be impossible to steer, they might well founder, and if any of his men went into this cold January sea…
He put that fear out of his mind, concentrating instead on holding her steady in the strong current, hearing a yelp as one of his men at the starboard gun caught a flying projectile. His gun crews were at work, though, even with their pitiful popguns, and he grinned as the enemy snipers ducked down below their own railing. Just like old times. A pity they weren’t actually supposed to engage the enemy…
Then, amid the uproar of conflict, he caught a glimpse of a familiar figure running about in the smoke and flying lead, and his heart stopped within him. “Davy, to me!”
David Archer ran up, carrying a rifle. “Thought we’d need this. Orders?”
Marshall’s hands stayed steady on the wheel, but his mind was gibbering, flooded with memories of Davy lying near death, struck down during the last battle they’d fought together, carried below with blood staining his white uniform waistcoat. His throat was so tight he could hardly speak. “Get below.”
Davy frowned. “Sorry, what?”
A spent bullet ricocheted off the binnacle, and Marshall’s whole body jerked in reaction. “Get below. Now, Davy. Go! I can’t–”
Davy glanced about the deck, bit his lip, and nodded. As he disappeared down the stair to the captain’s cabin, Marshall’s attention returned to the matter at hand. The fishing boat—Frenchman, Spaniard, it made no difference, really, that neutral Portuguese flag they flew was a joke—was coming about, making ready to pursue them.
“Aim for her sails!” he shouted. But the words were barely out when he felt a ball slam into their own hull, and the wheel shuddered in his hands. The Mermaid kept moving, though, gallant little craft that she was. He prayed the damage was above the waterline, that it was something they could repair, and then they shot past the other boat and were out into open water.
He whirled at the sound of a shot just behind him, so close his ears rang. Davy stood there, his face grim. “You didn’t see the sniper in their chains, did you? He had you dead in his sights.”
Their stern-chaser boomed as if in emphasis, and the fishing boat faltered as the ball went home, carrying away their bowsprit and staysail.
“Thank you,” Marshall managed. They were out of range now, and so long as they could keep moving, they would have their passenger back to the Endymion within a few hours, and make at least part of the trip back to England under her protection. Though why anyone would bother to attack them, and under a neutral flag, was the real question. He could think of only one possible answer, and he didn’t like it at all, but he had no time to spare for speculation now.
“Take the wheel,” he told Davy, and hurried over to see about the damage to his ship and crew. The puzzle of why they had been attacked was secondary to another, far more critical matter. In the midst of a battle, he had been completely distracted from the matter at hand—life and death, his ship and all who sailed aboard her. That was unconscionable.
Marshall had suspected that this would happen, when the treaty was broken and war resumed. He had feared it would happen; worse than that, he had known it would. And it left him with an insoluble dilemma.
William Marshall was a Commander in His Majesty’s Navy. He was also, against all laws of God and man, David Archer’s lover. As his own behavior had just proven beyond all doubt, he cared more for Davy than for any living soul, or even for the ship under his command.
With Davy aboard, Marshall could not command a ship of war. And he knew how to do nothing else.
December 31, 2014
Hello Again! Thanks for a wonderful release party yesterday. Wild and Precious is released into the big, wonderful world as of today! Woot!
And now… drum roll please… the four winners of a CJane Elliott ebook of your choice are…
Please be in touch with email@example.com and she will get you your free ebook. It can be this new release or any of my other ebooks, including one of my novels.
THANKS ALL… AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!