Our critique group’s end of the year, New Year’s Eve blog hop is today, and we have some guest author’s joining us in sharing writing goals for 2015.
My goals this year are to write and pub a sequel or two to “Hitting Black Ice.” Some readers expressed an interest in what happens next to Alex. Others fell under the spell of sexy, snarky Nick and want to find out what his story is. So, you get your wish, my friends. I need to know, too J
Here’s the opening (unedited) to WIP “Send Lawyers, Guns, and Roses.” This is Alex Crow, the fugitive from Hitting Black Ice:
The noisy bar had finally returned to silence, a booze-fumed, tacky-underfoot silence where the small noises I made seemed twice as loud. My ears rang as I pushed the broom through the crap on the floor behind the bar. It’d been busy, and I was on alone.
The front door opened. I cursed myself for not locking it behind me when I shoved out the last drunk patron, distracted by the email I’d just gotten. My gut clenched for the stupid mistake that might be, so late in the night. I groped under the bar for the bat the owner had urged me to use if the need came.
“Excuse me,” the guy said.
He’d been in the bar earlier that night, an Asian man with a couple of nondescript white guys. I looked closer, not moving away from the vicinity of the bat. My gut had tensed when the door opened and stayed that way.
“We’re closed. Need me to call a cab for you?”
He appeared innocuous, but innocuous-looking people could still be trouble. The instincts that I had honed all those months on the run had stayed with me. Director Damon Flint’s warnings flashed through my brain.
Brown hair, brown eyes, round face and chin; jeans and a T-shirt with some local microbrewery logo on it. He opened his mouth to answer my question, but someone shoved him from behind, and he stumbled forward a step. I grabbed the neck of the bat.
“Didja ask him? Is it him?” One of his friends had pushed him, and now pressed himself ahead a step. Far drunker than his buddy, who apparently wasn’t in trouble–he was just with trouble.
“We’re. Closed.” I threw some menace behind the authority in my voice and stance. The Asian guy flinched and grabbed at his friend, who was fishing in his pocket for something.
“It’s him, you. Boy Blue,” the drunk guy burbled.
I froze, shifting gears. I knew that name, Boy Blue. I grabbed the bat. Anger fueled my ass up and over the bar to land a few feet in front of the drunk, who had pulled out a phone, aimed it in my direction, and blinded me with the flash.
“You fucker!” I reached out to slap the phone away; too late, because he’d thrust it into his pocket again. I smacked the bat against the tiles on the floor. It made a sharp, solid noise, and they both looked at me with fear. “Get the fuck out before I call the cops!”
“Asshole!” The first guy grabbed his friend again, shoved him out the door, and slammed it shut behind him. I locked it this time and leaned against it as my heart pounded, then finally began to slow. I took a deep breath, then a second, my temper fading. I had a date tonight, and if I didn’t move my ass, I’d be late, so I cranked up Dropkick Murphys to exorcise the intruders and cleaned the place out in record time.
When I was done, I opened the email my date had sent me, saw there was a video attachment, and clicked that open.
Happy Birthday! The handmade sign filled the screen. I smiled.
Bare feet on what was obviously our unmade bed. Hunter wiggled his toes, and I laughed. The webcam traveled along his shins to his knees, all dusted with brown and copper-tinged hair, and he bent his knee, the sheet falling from his muscular thigh. And was that a pointed birthday hat covering his–shit, it was. He stretched like a big cat and the tip of the hat rocked as he adjusted his hips. I swallowed hard, mesmerized as the web cam swept across his hips and flat furry belly, then up the opposite side of his body, past an erect pink nipple, the tattoo, and hairy armpit, then up his biceps, forearm to wrist and the silver bracelet around it. My heart gave a little lurch, beating faster. My boyfriend had handcuffed himself naked to the bed for my birthday.
I’m hoping to publish my Renaissance era murder mystery/romance that takes place in Medici Florence. Here’s a taste of that:
Benedetto Tagliaferro works hard at juggling commissions and apprentices in the painter’s workshop in the competitive atmosphere of life in strife-ridden Medici Florence, and in his heart. He still has feelings for his old lover, the master painter Leo Guisculo, though Leo has long outgrown their affair. Benedetto would do anything to have Leo’s love again.
In the small village of Torrenta, master painter Morello has invented a color that mimics the most expensive pigment of all, the crimson red. Master Zeno from Florence comes to advise him that the color might give him a competitive advantage in Milan or Florence, though he must be careful. Fraud is ever-present in the dye and pigment markets, and Zeno fears the color might be abused. Master Zeno brings his assistant with him, a young man of uncommon beauty and intelligence, Benedetto Tagliaferro.
Deeply attracted to Morello, who has fallen in love with him, yet still yearning for his old love, Master Leo Guisculo, Benedetto betrays Morello and steals the color recipe, which Morello calls Ardent Fire. When Benedetto’s old love dies in what at first appears to be a terrible accident, Master Morello comes to Florence to replace Leo Guisculo in the workshop, though they had thought never to see each other again. When the Captain of justice reveals that Leo was murdered, Benedetto aids in the investigation that ultimately points to his own theft of the Ardent Fire. He almost loses everything in his quest to find justice for Leo–even Morello.
Well, those are the two big stories on my mind. I had sent a short story to Dreamspinner for their Kindness of Strangers anthology. They rejected it for that, but asked me to add more story and resubmit as a novella, which is almost done. The story takes place in 18th century Siena. Can you stand one more excerpt? It’s been critiqued to death, so it’s a little more edited than the above.
Turn Toward the Sun:
Count Salvesto Masello passed through the Camollia gate into Siena and began the steep walk up Via Fonte Branda as it baked under a brutal sun. The white and green flags of the Goose contrada hanging from windows and strung across the narrow streets flapped in the breeze. Within its walls, Siena held a honeycomb of small city-states like the Goose, and the banners and flags of the districts that comprised them were all rampant today. A military tattoo competed with another drummer, echoing through the cobbled streets and ricocheting off the travertine stone. The battles of the year, lately hard fought and won, had given birth to the new. He regretted he had been too busy to attend any of the palii, the horse races that were the heart of the Sienese year.
When he reached his destination, Salvesto unwrapped the soggy linen cravat from around his neck and blotted his face with it. The clandestine nature of Guelfetto’s business forced him to work out of a wine cellar hidden deep in the contrada of the Goose. The young tough at the door nodded and led Salvesto through and down the steps.
The cool, damp air of the wine cellar washed over his heated skin as he removed his cloak and three-cornered hat and tossed them over a barrel. His pulse beat hard in his neck, and sweat crawled under his clothes as he dropped onto a stool. The servant, his mouth curled in a perpetual grimace, thumped a jug of wine and a terra cotta cup down beside the spluttering lamp on the table. He slapped down a plate of bread and cheese.
“Grazie.” Salvesto thought a moment. “Anselmo.”
Surprise flickered in the servant’s dull eyes, and he gave a deferential nod, followed by a slight bob of a bow before leaving. Salvesto, alone with the damp and the scent of fermented grapes in ancient wooden barrels, poured the wine and tasted it gingerly, pleased to find a well-aged red as good as any from the old Medici vineyards. Guelfetto fattening him up before the kill, perhaps. Salvesto had retained a few casks in his own dwindling wine cellar and wondered when he could bear to part with them. The time was coming when the last of his most cherished belongings and mementos of his family’s former glory would make this journey to Guelfetto the pawnbroker, pimp, and thief.
My Midwinter Blog Hop story was about the two characters from the story “River Gods” in the Dreamspinner anthology “Juicy Bits” seven years later. The story surprised me. There is so much more to the time and era, I might work that up as a longer Christmas story to submit to Dreamspinner.
So that’s what’s on my plate for 2015, what I want to see written and completed, submitted and, obviously, published in the coming year.
Here’s to all of you who read Hitting Black Ice and loved it–I am humbled by your enthusiasm for it and the positive things that have been said about this story. Thank you!!! Have a happy and healthy 2015 😀
And here’s the blog hop:
- velvetpanic Heloise West | mmromantic historical
- Blue Night blog
- C.V. Madison | Dreamer of Words
- Alexis Duran | Writer of Fantasy, SF and Erotica
- Jena Wade | Author of erotic romance
- Kimber Vale | Come for the sex. Stay for the stor
- Sexy Erotic Xciting
- The Blunt Instrument | Take that how you will…
- Dean Pace-Frech
- Jennah Scott
- Amelia Bishop
- Halls Without Shame | Musings of JT Hall
- Chris McHart
- Haley Whitehall
- Shiloh Saddler