RESISTANCE Excerpt #3: A Gamble

Resistance CoverThis is an excerpt from my novel, Resistance, out now from Inkstained Succubus Press! You can purchase Resistance here directly from Inkstained Succubus (support small presses!) or here from Amazon.

“The Brotherhood is a family,” said Velo. “Blood ties make up some of it, but more than that we are a family of our own design, of our own choosing. Family to us means something, Shandolin. We live and die for family. Family is who we say it is, and there are times we take in those with a strong sense of loyalty and nowhere else to go. There are times one of us builds a family of her own and we are faced with whether the family of our family is family to us all. There are—”

“And what do you decide?” Shandolin asked.

Rivna’s face whipped over, but Shandolin stared hard at Velo. Velo, for his part, seemed at a temporary loss for words. He stared back at Shandolin, eyebrows raised, his hand floating in the air mid-gesture. The look on his face spoke volumes: this scrawny bitch comes in here and interrupts me in my own home?

But Doe had already done it, and there nothing for her to do now but show him her strength. Velo blinked. He lowered his hand.

“The decision,” he said with a slight frostiness in his voice, “does seem to change depending on the behavior of the person in question.”

Damn Lolo’s advice; I’m going for the jugular. They should appreciate that, this lot of assassins, Doe thought. She leaned forward and fixed Velo with a cold glare. She felt the contempt pour off her in waves.

“Fine, bide your time here. Do what you will. Seems to me your mind’s made up and there’s naught I can say to change it.” Doe locked eyes with Velo. “Let me ask you this, though, when the City turns sour, will you run? Run from it, like you ran from the southern forests? And if you run, where do you think you’re going to go? You’d have to tramp back through the forests to get to the seas, if you wanted to turn pirate. The Empire won’t have you. The lands to the south won’t have you. You all, you’re like me, this is your last stop, this is the very last livable place left. And they’re trying to take it from me, and if they do, they’ll turn around and take it from you, too. Then where’s your family, Velo?”

RESISTANCE Ficlet #2: An Interrogation

Resistance CoverThis is a ficlet based on my novel, Resistance, out now from Inkstained Succubus Press! You can purchase Resistance here directly from Inkstained Succubus (support small presses!) or here from Amazon.

She came into the Natives’ squat house like she owned the place. She threw open doors and slammed them shut, let out a booming cackle of laughter, and shouted for its inhabitants by familiar nicknames. Ezra had lived there a whole week and a half, a whole ten days spent quietly tucking himself out of sight in corners, watching and learning how the house worked. He thought he’d gotten his bearings. He thought he understood how the gang worked, how the house worked, who was who and what was what. And in came this tall, lanky red elvish girl, freckled and vibrant and thin but well-fed. In she came knocking around the kitchen and talking a mile a minute in a loud sharp voice to the gang.

She frightened Ezra. Most things frightened Ezra Crick; he hated it, his skittishness. He hated the way he slunk into shadows and startled so easy. He hated it, but it had saved his life more than once, so he trusted it. This loud, bright, boisterous girl frightened Ezra, so he made to slink off. He waited until she had her attention focused on the kitchen cupboards and then he skirted past the open doorway. She looked up just at the wrong moment. They locked eyes; Ezra blanched. She pointed to his freshly pierced ear. “You’re new, eh?”

Ezra stood very still, caught in her gaze like a fawn in a hunter’s trap. He knew he should say something—anything—but he couldn’t. His voice wouldn’t come. It felt like he was facing down a crowd of people. She was too much for just one person. She was more person, Ezra thought, than most people are.

She smiled, but it was a cocky, mocking smile. She held out an ink-stained hand. “We haven’t met. You’re a beauty. Got a memorable face, you, so I’d recall if I’d met you. I’m Shandolin.”

Ezra blushed. He opened his mouth and closed it again. In a halted, jerky motion, he took her hand and shook it. He tried to pull it back, but she held his hand tight. In a deft movement, she had him by the wrist. She glanced at the palm of his hand and looked over at him. “A musician,” she said. It wasn’t a question.

“What?” Ezra croaked. He tried again to get his hand back, but she had a firm grip. His hand flopped and twisted like a dying fish.

“You got callouses like a fiddler I know.” She finally, mercifully let go of his hand. “I hope you’re good. This city is glutted with musicians. You won’t bring much back to the house unless you’re real good.” She waited for him to respond. Her black eyes bored into him, willing him to answer. One of the other gang members caught sight of her and called her name. She smiled and glanced over her shoulder. And Ezra took the opportunity to slink off.

RESISTANCE Excerpt #2: Ezra Crick

Resistance CoverThis is an excerpt from my novel, Resistance, out now from Inkstained Succubus Press! You can purchase Resistance here directly from Inkstained Succubus (support small presses!) or here from Amazon.

Ezra came over and stood next to her. He was as tall as she, as thin as she, and at least ten times prettier. He had a delicate face, delicate hands, delicate everything. He was a broken thing—the beating Po saved him from left him with a mangled ear and a pronounced limp—which only seemed to add to the delicacy. He had pale gray human eyes that shone like polished coins and hair a rich, saturated brown like stained wood.

They’d never spoken much, though he’d hung around Kel nearly as long as she had. Ezra wrote for her paper now and again, but even then all he did was skulk into the Cardinal’s Nest, hand her a manuscript he’d dictated to Kel, and then leave again without a word. Doe suspected Ezra himself was illiterate.

He was nervous, the kind that spooked easy, a wounded little bird. But he came over and stood next to her.

“You done Kel a lot of good,” he said. His voice was soft. Delicate. The fragility of him made Doe want to protect him and shatter him at the same time. “He ain’t never been happier since he starting writing for you. Po’s just protective.”

“I cause a lot of trouble,” she said.

Ezra smiled. He looked like a painting when he smiled, a rare beauty frozen in time. “Name me a man who don’t cause trouble for his friends,” Ezra said, “and I’ll name you a man who ain’t got friends.”

RESISTANCE Ficlet #1: An Arrow Let Loose

Resistance CoverThis is a ficlet based on my novel, Resistance, out now from Inkstained Succubus Press! You can purchase Resistance here directly from Inkstained Succubus (support small presses!) or here from Amazon.

The inaugural issue of The Elvish Arrow was set to go to press the next morning. Shandolin should have been elated, but instead she was frantic, mired in the details. She’d taken over the back three tables of the Cardinal’s Nest, her favorite place to work. Madan, the barkeep and her keeper, let her sleep in the closet and let her commandeer as many tables and candles and bottles of ale as it took to get the radical newspaper up off the ground.

It had taken months of prodding, of talking big and begging to get folks to write for her. It had taken weeks of harsh criticism and soothed egos to edit all that writing. It took all her wits to haggle the printer down to a decent price. It had taken pulling strings and calling in favors to get the local gangs to agree to help her distribute the paper. All of it was paid for with Madan. He let her work it off in his bar, but he fronted all the cash. “It’s important,” he said. “This is important. Make your voice heard, Doe. Shout it all out so loud they can’t help but listen. That’s being a soldier, too. That’s part of the fight, too.”

Shandolin sat there reading and re-reading all of that work until her eyes watered and her vision went blurry. She made edits and painstakingly recopied the articles. By midnight she had a wicked crick in her neck from sitting hunched over so long, and her hands and forearms were black with ink. She heard Madan approach—a distinctive thump-scrape thump-scrape due to his wooden left leg. She heard the clatter of stoneware against the wooden table top. “Eat, Doe.”

“Not hungry.”

“Girl, all you are is hungry,” Madan said. He sat beside her. The smell of bread and cheese flooded her nose and suddenly he was right: suddenly she was nothing but a ravenous hunger.

She descended on the food with a fury; all her single-mindedness transferred from the nascent newspaper to the plate. Suddenly, she looked up at Madan, at his battered, scarred soldier’s face. “What if no one reads it, Madan?” she asked. “What if I spent all this time and you spent all this money on it and no one even reads it?”

Madan tore his own hunk of bread in half and dropped a bit on her plate. He smiled. “Even if no one reads it, it’ll have been said. That’s something. Truly, that’s something. But I think people will read it.”

“Really? You think they will?”

“I do,” said Madan. “So you’d better not starve to death before you put together the next issue, eh?”

RESISTANCE now available for purchase on Amazon!

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Resistance Cover

My debut novel, Resistance, is now available for purchase! You can purchase Resistance here directly from Inkstained Succubus (support small presses!) AND from Amazon here!

Over the course of the next couple of week I’ll be posting ficlets and excerpts from the book to whet your collective appetites, but for today I’ll leave you with the blurb:

Resistance has many faces, and one of them is Shandolin’s. When she finds her friend brutally murdered, Shandolin decides to fight instead of run–but her only hope of survival is a takeover of the City government. Shandolin draws everyone she loves into the fray with her: her assassin lover, Rivna; her mentor, Moshel; and her best friend, Kel. Apart, they are weak, but together Shandolin and her friends, lovers and fellows may be just strong enough to save their skins and the skins of the other elves in the City

Happy reading!