Monday, April 25, 2016

A face for radio (upcoming appearances)

I don't yet have a convention schedule for this year's ArmadilloCon, but I will be an instructor for the writing workshop.

I'll also be appearing on Austin's local KAZI Book Review hosted by Hopeton Hay, KAZI 88.7 FM. I'll be in the studio with Steve Winfrey, Tim Chamberlain, and Stephanie Powell, talking about SFF and mysteries and who knows what else. The show airs from 12:30 to 1:00 PM on June 5th.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Kingdoms of Dust, Chapter 1

Cover art by Larry Rostant
The abyss becomes me
I wear this chaos well


VNV Nation - "Genesis"

Death is a dialogue
Between the spirit and the dust.


Emily Dickinson

Chapter 1

1233 Sal Emperaturi


The Çiragan Serai was called a palace, but it was one of the few buildings in Kehribar that had never been one. At the height of the Ataskar Empire every bey and sultan and merchant prince had built a fortress or a manor house, and after its fall they had slowly been repurposed into brothels and hostels and gambling halls. The Çiragan had only ever been a prison.

The dour stone fortress crowned the westernmost of the city's five hills. Once it had faced a courthouse—a hope of justice, or a mockery of it—but over decades of revolution and power shifts the court had been burned, abandoned, and eventually razed, leaving the prison alone in a wide, desolate yard. The closest neighborhoods on Hapishane Hill were poor and mostly empty, populated with squatters and stray dogs and patrolled by the city guard. The Çiragan wasn't isolated as many prisons were, but the guards were known for their brutal efficiency. Thieves in dim wharf taverns told of cunning escapes, of eluding traps and outwitting wardens; all their stories were lies.

The Bone Palace, Chapter 1

Cover art by Larry Rostant




I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
And everything but sleep.


Algernon Charles Swinburne—"The Garden of Proserpine"

Love is a many splintered thing

The Sisters of Mercy—"Ribbons"


Chapter 1

499 AUC

In the Sepulcher, death smelled like roses.

Sachets of petals and braziers of incense lined the marble halls and scented oil lamps burned throughout the long vault, twining ribbons of rose and jasmine and myrrh through the chill air. Meant to drown the smell of blood and rot that crept from the corpse-racks in the walls, but death couldn't be undone so easily. The raw copper scent of recent violence teased past the sweetness, creeping into Isyllt Iskaldur's sinuses as she studied the dead woman on the slab.

Blue-tinged lips parted slightly, expressionless in death, but the slash across her throat grinned, baring red meat and pale flashes of bone. Barely enough blood in her to settle—some clotted like rust in brass-blonde hair, pasted damp-frizzed tendrils to her cheeks. Lines down her ribs showed where corset stays had pressed into flesh. Her clothing, cut away by competent, uncaring attendants, was shelved in an oubliette of an evidence room upstairs.

The Bone Palace prologue

Cover art by Larry Rostant

496 Ab Urbe Condita (1228 Sal Emperaturi) 

Three years ago


Death was no stranger in Erisín. The city named for the saint of death and built on the bones of its founders had known its share of suffering, but the pestilence that struck that summer was enough to horrify even the priests of Erishal. The plague had come from the south, borne on a merchant ship that slipped through a lax quarantine. It spread now through the bites of fleas and midges, so that any drone of wings or sudden itch meant terror. Hundreds dead throughout the city, temples and hospitals become mass tombs, and in the slums they dispensed with the proper rites altogether and stacked the infected dead like cordwood.

Not even the palace was safe.

The queen no longer trembled. She lay still now in the wide curtained bed, only the shallow rise and fall of her breast and her fluttering lashes to show that she lived. Sweat soaked her linen shift, matted her long black hair. Brown skin flushed gold with jaundice and the whites of her half-open eyes were yellow and bloodshot.

The Drowning City, Chapter 1

Cover art by Larry Rostant
Drowning is not so pitiful
As the attempt to rise.

Emily Dickinson

Hope lies in the smoldering rubble of empires.

Rage Against The Machine - "Calm Like a Bomb"

1229 Sal Emperaturi

Chapter 1


Symir. The Drowning City.

An exile, perhaps, but at least it was an interesting one.

Isyllt's gloved hands tightened on the railing as the Black Mariah cleared the last of the Dragon Stones and turned toward the docks, dark estuarine water slopping against her hull. Fishing boats dotted Ka Liang Bay, glass buoys flashing in the sun. Cormorants dove around them, scattering ripples as they snatched fish from hooks and nets.

Our slow return to content

I'm in the slow and amazingly tedious process of rebuilding my website, one page at a time. I lost some newer content in the hosting migration (keep backups, kids!), but eventually all the old stuff will be back up. Eventually.

The good news is, I have time to grovel through old html because I finally finished a rough draft of The Poison Court. It's with my agent now, leaving me free to do things like sweep my house, go to the gym, and yes, website maintenance. For those of you just tuning in The Poison Court is a spin-off from The Bone Palace, following the further adventures of Savedra Severos and her various friends, relations, and adversaries. It is, I hope, the first of several Erisin intrigues.

Kingdoms of Dust dramatis personae

Cover art by Larry Rostant
  • Adam - a mercenary, Isyllt's bodyguard
  • Ahmar Asalar - priestess of the Unconquered Sun, and a member of Quietus
  • Ahmet Sahin - spymaster of Kehribar
  • Al-Jodâ'im - the Undoing, ancient spirits bound by Quietus
  • Asheris al Seth - an Assari mage, also a jinni
  • Corylus - an agent of Quietus
  • Isyllt Iskaldur - necromancer and sometime spy
  • Kash - a jinni, bound by Quietus
  • Khalil Ramadi - a member of Quietus
  • Melantha - an assassin with a past (several of them, in fact)
  • Moth - Isyllt's apprentice, formerly named Dahlia
  • Nerium Kerah - Melantha's mother, a member of Quietus
  • Raisa - a ghul
  • Samar al Seth - empress of Assar
  • Shirin Asfaron - a member of Quietus
  • Siavush al Naranj - a member of Quietus
  • Siddir Bashari - an Assari nobleman and spy
Assorted other courtiers, spies, hench-persons, and manticores.