As promised, a short fic about a Brimstone birthday for my birthday. Comment below for a chance to enter the drawing!
"That's the date he's always used?" Captain Shax squinted at something on his reader.
Verin snorted a cloud of steam and shrugged. "He says they gave all the kids in that fucking orphanage the same damn birthday cause they didn't fucking know. And that doesn't answer what the fuck I'm supposed to do."
Curled up at the end of the bench in the corner, Heckle half listened while he scanned through inventory. The lack of more interesting cuss words told him Verin was frustrated already. He didn't want to say anything that might make it worse. While Heckle certainly didn't know when his birthday was and Verin probably didn't know his either, it seemed to be more important for humans.
The captain's summons startled him out of minding his own business. "Sir?"
"Can you run the fuel figures for me? My brain can't do mathing this early."
"Of course, Captain." Heckled found numbers so much easier than letters and his brain liked to think while it mathed. Er, did math. "Cake."
"Pardon?" Captain Shax blinked at him when he handed the reader back. "Was that a comment on how easy the calc was? And how brainless I am?"
Heckle stared back, horrified. He'd never imply that anyone else was stupid for something they were struggling with. "Oh, um, no. No! I meant cake. For humans. Human birthdays. They, um…don't they? Usually?"
"Ah. Yes. Yes, that's true." Captain Shax still looked like he might fall back to sleep. "We need to get Corny a cake. Chocolate. From Ms. Cleo's since will be in Thinis this afternoon. And we should sing, I think?"
Verin snorted again, this time with sparks. "I don't want to sing, numb nuts."
"It's a stupid song, anyway," Julian muttered from where he was digging in the cabinets. Probably for tea. Julian sometimes liked tea in the morning. "No one likes it. No one likes singing it. No one seems able to pick a key and stick to it. And it was written after Corny left Earth."
"Well. Someone's grumpy this morning." Captain Shax looked a little more alive since he'd started his second cup of coffee.
"It's just a ridiculous song, oh prince of the sleepy eyes, and it won't mean anything to Corny."
Captain Shax waved a hand back and forth. "Fine. We'll find something else. What else do humans do for birthdays? Are there orgies?"
Julian sputtered and coughed while laughing. "I guess sometimes, but it's not traditional. Cake, presents, silly hats, noisemakers. Maybe that's only for children's parties. You know, I'm probably not the best person to ask."
Some consultation with Mac verified the cake and presents, but probably not the silly hats and noisemakers. They divided up tasks and elected Heckle to go see Ms. Cleo because she liked him. Not that he minded. Heckle could've spent all day in her bakery just taking in the delicious smells.
Heckle trotted into Ms. Cleo's about mid-morning, after her breakfast rush had ended. She looked up from the tray she'd been rearranging and smiled at him.
"Hello, handsome. What can I do for you today?"
"Um, hi, Ms. Cleo." Heckle twisted his tail in both hands, suddenly shy. "I need…I mean, I'd like…a cake."
She rested both elbows on the counter, her dark eyes crinkling in amusement. "A bakery's a good place for that."
"Oh. Yes. Of course." Heckle waved his hands, completely flustered and blurted out, "Birthday. A birthday cake. For Corny."
"The cowboy? I think I can manage something. I'm going to assume chocolate since the other cakes for you boys have always been." She waited until Heckle nodded, amazed that she remembered what the crew had ordered before. "Does Corny like a little spice?"
Heckle nodded more enthusiastically. "He does. He makes the best chili."
"Good." She went into the back and returned with a rectangle cake. Round cakes were prettier, but Heckle knew by now how quickly they vanished. Disappointing if someone wanted a second slice.
"This is a special cake I make with guajillo peppers. Spicy, but not so spicy it drowns out the chocolate."
She got out a decorating tube and Heckle pulled one of the counter stools over so he could watch her write Happy Birthday in darker chocolate icing on top. When she was finished, the cake had all sorts of flowers and vines along the edges and sides, too, so it was just as pretty as any round cake.
"Do you have a present for him? Are you doing presents?" Ms. Cleo asked casually as she boxed up the cake.
Was I supposed to? Will everyone else? "Um...no. Yes. I mean I don't. We are."
She shook her head and sighed. "You are the cutest being I've ever met. Wait here."
So Heckle waited, blushing probably the brightest scarlet an imp could manage, until Ms. Cleo came back to hand him the cake box with a bag on top.
"There. Those are for you to give to Corny. Guajillas for when he makes chili. I guarantee he'll love them."
She patted his shoulder and sent him on his way and Heckle found himself smiling as he trotted back to the spaceport. She did like him. Someone not crew. And he felt successful. Like he'd accomplished something important that day, even if it was just cake.
Cake and presents on the galley table, everyone crowded in with Leopold, Max and Nic climbing atop Fluffy to save some space. Only Verin and Corny were missing, though not for long. Their voices carried down the corridor.
"I said I didn't want no fuss, Ver. Damn demons," Corny grumbled, his frown deepening as he stopped short in the doorway to take everything in. "This is definitely a fuss."
"Yeah. I know, Corn. But I thought…" Verin was staring at the floor, scuffing one scaled foot along the plates. "Just once, right? You should have one nice fucking birthday with people who, you know…"
Corny's expression softened. He leaned in to kiss Verin's temple. "I hear you, Hammer. I do. All right. Leastwise, there is cake."
Front several legs waving, Max began to sing. Not the birthday song Julian loathed so much, it was just Corny's name sung in Max's best operatic voice. And somehow? Max made it a birthday song.
After a moment, Corny even smiled. "Thank you. All y'all. Now, I reckon we better get to cake first since it'd be cruel to make you wait."
There were no silly hats or noisemakers, no stupid birthday song, but the cake was delicious, Corny liked his presents, and Heckle was certain that as human birthdays went, this was one of the better ones.
We've reached Friday somehow! This week, I have an excerpt from the new release from Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus' Virasana Empire universe, The Pet and his Duke. Aliens, demons, age gap romance! :D
(cw: this story does contain slavery, non-con, dub-con if you're picking it up)
The Pet and His Duke
a Virsana Empire story
by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
Barnes and Noble
Robert is a pet, a human pleasure slave, and well past his prime.
So when teenage Duke Thomar of Aylian buys him via mail order, Robert first suspects a dreadful misunderstanding. The duke is young, handsome and headstrong, and the very last thing he needs while struggling to secure his reign over his planet is an aging bargain bin pet by his side.
Only, the more time Robert spends with Thomar, the more he learns that the young duke rarely makes mistakes. Unless, of course, Thomar dashes off on one of his mad adventures, which Robert increasingly becomes a part of…
‘The Pet and his Duke’ is a standalone m/m romance novel in the ‘Virasana Empire’ universe. Written by Rainbow Book Award winners Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, it is a story of self-determination and love, and Happily-Ever-Afters in the most unlikely places.
About the Authors
We are Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, a couple currently living our happily ever after in the very heart of Germany, under the stern but loving surveillance of our cat.
Both of us are voracious but picky readers, we love telling stories and drinking tea, good food and the occasional violent movie. Together, we write novels of adventure and romance, hoping to share a little of our happiness with our readers.
An artist by heart, Beryll was writing stories even before she knew what letters were. As easily inspired as she is frustrated, her own work is never good enough (in her eyes). A perfectionist in the best and worst sense of the word at the same time and the driving creative force of our duo.
An entertainer and craftsman in his approach to writing, Osiris is the down-to-earth, practical part of our duo. Broadly interested in almost every subject and skill, with a sunny mood and caring personality, he strives to bring the human nature into focus of each of his stories.
Author Website: http://www.brackhaus.com/
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011014541510
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Brackhaus
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brackhaus/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6427435.Osiris_Brackhaus
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Osiris-Brackhaus/e/B00IVTRO2E
ALL THE THINGS!!!!
1. Sub Zero launched on Tuesday - a science fiction romance with a mystery, culture clashes, a heavy dose of anti-colonialism, and how hard it is to go back to where you died. (An ESTO Universe story - in ebook and paperback)
Mischief Corner Books
2. A Fine Mess: Brimstone 7 has a cover! And a fun cover it is with a certain young demon prince vying for attention. Coming July 28!
3. Mischief Corner decided that Hearts and Flower: A Tale of Hayfever and Bad Decor needed an updated cover - and it's so cuuute! An absurd Valentine's Day short story with an MC who hates Valentine's, the office party from hell and some magical mayhem!
Mischief Corner Books
Barnes and Noble
4. And finally, don't forget that Rainbow Space Magic Con is this weekend! It's FREE, but you do have to register to have the webinar link sent to you. :) Lots of fun panels and readings from queer science fiction and fantasy authors!
I'll be doing a reading during the 12 pm (EST) block on Saturday and a panel on Outlaws and Adversaries at 1 pm (EST) on Sunday!
Happy Friday, Everyone! This week's reading is an AU historical from a period in history we don't see enough of - Renaissance Italy. With a touch of steampunk and a lot of danger, come have a listen to a bit of Edale Lane's new F/F romance, Secrets of Milan! And don't forget the giveaway at the end of the post!
Secrets of Milan
The Night Flyer 2
by Edale Lane
The Night Flyer had brought Florentina and Madelena together but now threatens to drive them apart. While Florentina searches for a mysterious underworld organization that has attempted to murder the woman she loves, Maddie struggles to deal with the danger Florentina is courting. Her brother, Alessandro, has become the most prominent merchant of Milan, but the Night Flyer uncovers a secret so shocking it could destroy them all.
Secrets of Milan is the second book in Edale Lane's Night Flyer Trilogy, a tale of power, passion, and payback in Renaissance Italy. If you like drama and suspense, rich historical background, three-dimensional characters, and s romance that deepens into true love, then you'll want to continue the Night Flyer saga.
About Edale Lane
Edale Lane is the penname used by Melodie Romeo for LGBTQ fiction novels. She is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, earned a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in History from the University of West Florida.
Ms Romeo is a retired school teacher who currently travels the country as an over the road truck driver. Her first book, Vlad, a Novel, an historical thriller, was published in 2002. She has had short stories published in anthologies by Seventh Star Press, Charon Coin Press, Alban Lake Press, Less Than Three Press, and Past and Prologue Press.
Edale Lane’s first novel, Heart of Sherwood, is an historical retelling of the Robin Hood story supposing that the hooded outlaw had been a woman:
In addition to driving and writing, Melodie is also a musician who plays the French horn, composes, and has spent many years as a choral and instrumental director. She aspires to be a successful enough author to quit driving and devote herself to writing fulltime. Melodie resides in Utica, MS with her longtime partner, Johanna.
Some of her works can be found at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00WFFFEA4
In 2019 Melodie founded Past and Prologue Press. Please visit her website.
Author Website: https://pastandprologuepress.Ipaged.co/
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/melodie.romeo
Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/edalelane
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melodieromeo/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Edale-Lane/e/B07GRFPDRZ/
First, Sub Zero comes out on Tuesday, June 16, don't forget! Come pre-order your anti-colonialism science fiction!
And on to podcasts! I'll be on a couple of shows airing Monday, June 15:
Two Gay Geeks - where I get to talk to Ben and Keith about writing and all sorts of geeky things. :D
Jeff and Will's Big Gay Fiction Podcast - where Scott and I talk to Jeff about the upcoming Rainbow Space Magic Virtual Convention!
I have a breather between edits, which means I'm starting on posts for a blog tour later in July. Make hay while the iron is hot, as Shax would say.
Some quick updates, in chronological order:
Happy Friday, everyone! This week, I get to read something from this Angel Martinez person... Oh wait. That's me. :D A little excerpt from Sub Zero, m/m science fiction romance coming out in just a couple week here on June !
An ESTO Universe Story
by Angel Martinez
Release date, June 16, 2020
Returning to the frozen planet Aren died on was bound to have complications...
Major Aren Dalsgaard's newest assignment is to investigate a series of murders on the frigid planet, Drass, where relations between the Treaty settlers and the indigenous inhabitants have taken a nasty turn. A linguist and trained xenologist, Major Dalsgaard should be the ideal Special Investigations Officer for this case, but Drass is where he died, over a hundred and twenty years ago.
Sent by his family to the chigyel city, Nyachung finds himself confronted with a murder charge, racial prejudice, and a man who claims to be a hero from his grandmother’s generation. The man could be crazy or he could be lying to manipulate Nyachung, but the sincerity in those spring-green eyes disturbs him more than anything else he's encountered in the foreigners’ city.
Evidence that makes no sense, mysterious boxes, and a suspicion that they can't trust anyone in the city drives the major and Nyachung together and out into the wilderness. No one's telling Major Dalsgaard everything, but every step leads him closer to a feeling of imminent catastrophe if he can't wrap this case up in time.
And unlike SpaceX launches, it's not dependent on the weather!
A Fine Mess: Brimstone 7, will be set loose in the book wilds July 28, 2020. Mark your calendars. :D
It's by far the longest Brimstone story yet, coming in at just over 79K. Content edits are complete - on to the rest of the editing process, cover coming soon.
If you are a reviewer on Booksprout, Mischief Corner Books has started making ARC's available there if you're so inclined. (Obviously, A Fine Mess is not up in ARC yet, but the rest of the Brimstone series is.)
Leopold would like to remind you that the series really is about him.
Happy Friday, everyone! This week, I'm reading to you from a m/m contemporary from Elizabeth Lister, White Balance (the new followup to her story Exposure.) What better way to spend the day than at a museum? :D Come have a listen:
by Elizabeth Lister
(sequel to Exposure)
When Jeremy Trask walked into Martin Lewis’ photography studio neither man was prepared for the instant attraction that swept them up and refused to be denied. Three years later Jeremy has fulfilled his dream of becoming a working male model while Martin has embarked on a more fulfilling photography career in nature journalism. Now a world-famous photographer has requested Jeremy pose for him in London. Martin accompanies Jeremy because he can’t bear to be apart from the man he loves. When things in London don’t turn out as expected, can Martin and Jeremy navigate the hurt feelings and jealousy that suddenly threaten their relationship?
First, the Almost Here part - the release date for Eating Stars is five days away! Eeee! It's a first contact story, it's a survivor's story, it's a story about grief, it's a romance.
For the rest, you'll have to read, but I do want to say a thing...
Eating Stars is science fiction, but unlike a lot of my other SF work, this one takes place in the near future. Our Earth, with our tech, slightly up ahead.
But it does assume several things that I hope will be true in the near future: no pandemic, a less hostile country, and a sane government for the US. I hope for this last one most of all.
Now for the Almost There part: I'm closing in on the end of content edits for A Fine Mess: Brimstone 7. Editor thought it needed more things. Several more things. So more things you will have. It's going to be well over 70K and will have a launch date in July.
I HIGHLY suggest reading Brimstone in order. It's not really one of those series you can just pick up in the middle. If you haven't started, the reading order can be found on this page: Brimstone
Angel writes (mostly) Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around queer heroes. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head, she has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.