Author Catch-Up – Francis H Powell

Welcome back to author Francis H Powell – please tell us your news.

 

My big important news in recent times, is that after a long wait, my new book Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation, finally got published, by Beacon publishing.

I have written a lot of short stories, a  lot of them revolve around “death”.  While living in Paris, I saw a writing competition, which required writing about the last person on earth.  I sent three stories, the last of which they really liked, but it arrived too late to be published. This sent me on the course of writing about world annihilation. It also introduced an unlikely science fiction element into my writing.

At some point I decided to group all my stories that connected with death into a book.

I decided to try to write a story that would exceed my normal page length. It is called “the Master”. The story is a bit like a Russian doll; it contains stories within stories.  Finally we never really know who the Master is, even he is unsure of his own identity. This story covers the element of reincarnation, the Master is an old soul, who is re-discovered by a young girl who he was involved with in his previous life.

Despite the title; not all the book is doom and gloom, there are quirky characters, unfortunate happenings and attempts at wit.

I have a follow-up, which I am working on at the moment. It is far more shocking than  Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation, it is called “I am the priest killer”. It is set in different times, the past, the present and the future. I don’t know where the idea came from, but the title seems like a newspaper headline from some trashy journal.

I started off by writing about a psychopathic priest killer, then moved onto a female priest killer, a story set in Italy in the past. I decided I wanted a real contrast so I created a druid priest killer, set in Celtic times. Finally and more recently I have been writing about the future and a woman who more kills the priest’s faith, similar to the way Winston Smith is persecuted in 1984.

Some parts have involved research, because for example they are set in the past in Italy. I have also researched Celtic culture including the role of a druidess and medicinal remedies. So writing a book also involves learning and investigation. In this work I describe battles, which is something new to me. I am a history teacher, and love history,  which certainly has impacted some of the stories.

At the moment I am trying to plug my book, as much as I can, so as to engage as many readers as possible.

Born in 1961, in Reading, England Francis H Powell attended Art Schools, receiving a degree in painting and an MA in printmaking. In 1995, Powell moved to Austria, teaching English as a foreign language while pursuing his varied artistic interests adding music and writing. He currently lives in Brittany, France writing both prose and poetry. Powell has published short stories in the magazine, “Rat Mort” and other works on the internet site “Multi-dimensions.” His two published books are Flight of Destiny and Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation

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https://francishpowellwriter.wordpress.com/2019/12/20/death-is-a-wild-adventure/

https://francishpowellauthor.weebly.com/

https://twitter.com/Dreamheadz

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Reincarnation-Annihilation-Francis-Powell/dp/1949472019/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1575577744&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Francis-H-Powell/e/B00WSWYVNK?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

Book Spotlight – The Kitchen Brigade – Laurie Boris – Dystopian Fiction/Women’s Fiction #Indiesrock

Title:  The Kitchen Brigade

Author:  Laurie Boris

Genre:  Dystopian fiction/women’s fiction

Main character description (short). Valerie is petite and pretty, with chestnut curls. But beyond that seemingly innocuous exterior, she’s resourceful and much tougher than she would have believed before her world went to hell.

Synopsis: The Kitchen Brigade is a dystopian novel set in a future America torn apart by civil war and Russian occupation.

Valerie Kipplander is a talented culinary student and daughter of the assassinated secretary of state. When the regime discovers her in a refugee camp jail, she’s forced to cook for the Russian general whose army is occupying New York.

But being part of the head chef’s kitchen brigade is only a different kind of prison. The safety that had been promised her is an illusion. The resistance wants her to join them. And one of the guards wants her dead.

She knows she has to act. To rebel against her Russian captors could prove deadly, but how long can she serve the men destroying her country?

Brief Excerpt 250 words: Valerie might have been in this house before. During her childhood, perhaps, when her father the diplomat and her mother the French heiress attended parties and teas at which Valerie was made to wear uncomfortable dresses and sit still, hands folded like sleeping doves in her lap. But as Chef took her to where she presumed she would sleep, Valerie didn’t dare ask who owned the house, or where the previous owners had gone. Since the war started she’d learned many things she would have preferred not to know.

“The general rises early,” Chef said over her shoulder. “So we rise earlier. You will learn the routine.” She paused in a corridor and rapped on a door. A woman swung it open as if waiting breathlessly for the knock.

“Yes, Ma—Chef.” She looked to be in her early twenties. Her honey-blond hair, scraped into a severe ponytail, accentuated her rounded face and long nose. She was tall, her shoulders slumped slightly forward as if she’d spent many years trying to hide her height, or the fact of her existence, but her frosty blue eyes—incongruous against her olive-toned skin—went to Chef Svetlana as if the sun and moon rose and set by her will. Then her jaw tightened as she caught sight of Valerie.

“This is Two,” Chef said to Valerie. “She’ll show you the way things work.” Then Chef Svetlana paused a moment, as if mentally sliding a few puzzle pieces into place. “You’ll answer to ‘Three’ and nothing else. It’s easier that way, and the sooner you get accustomed to that, the better.”

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?

It’s a fast-moving, entertaining story about what unites us even as the world divides us. It’s full of cooking—it revolves around a band of female chefs—snappy dialogue and unforgettable, broken characters seeking redemption. If you like adult dystopian stories without the apocalypse, you might enjoy The Kitchen Brigade.

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Links etc.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurie.boris.author/
Twitter:  @LaurieBoris
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Laurie-Boris/e/B005I551QA
Website:  http://laurieboris.com

 

 

Cover Reveal and Book Spotlight – Lovers in Hell (Heroes in Hell) – Historical Fantasy/Fantasy/SharedWorld/Hell Week

lovers in hell

Only fools fall in love, and hell is filled with fools. Our damned lovers include: Christopher Marlowe and Will Shakespeare, Napoleon and Wellington, Orpheus and Eurydice, Hatshepsut and Senenmut, Abelard and Heloise, Helen and Penelope, Saint Teresa and Satan’s Reaper, Madge Kendall and the Elephant Man, and more . . . — all of whom pay a hellish price for indulging their affections.

Shakespeare said “To be wise and love exceeds man’s might,” and in Lovers in Hell, the damned in hell exceed all bounds as they search for their true loves, punish the perfidious, and avoid getting caught up in Satan’s snares. In ten stories of misery and madness, hell’s most loveless seek to slake the thirst that can never be quenched, and find true love amid the lies of ages.

Featuring stories by:

Janet and Chris Morris

Nancy Aspire

Joe Bonadonna

S.E. Lindberg

Michael E. Dellert

Michael H. Hanson

A. L. Butcher

Andrew P. Weston

 Lovers in Hell on Amazon UK

Lovers in Hell on Amazon.com

HELL WEEK 2018…. Coming soon…. so get your pitchforks ready.

You have been warned.

Dirty Dozen – Author Interview – Walter Rhein – Fantasy

Welcome back to Walter Rhein, fantasy author. He’s visited a couple of times before, but he’s back to talk about his exciting new release.

  1. Please tell us about your publications.

My latest book is called ‘The Literate Thief‘ and it is the second book in a three-part series entitled ‘The Slaves of Erafor.’ I first embarked on this journey when I met Janet Morris on Facebook. Having some discussions with her inspired me to put together a narrative I’d been daydreaming about. The narrative involved slavery, but not in the historical sense. I wanted to approach the idea of how we all become slaves of thought to various ideas, and what the cause of this widespread slavery is.

The scary thing is that this series has become more relevant. I’m seeing more and more instances of narrative control in the media, particularly in the United States. However, I didn’t write this book as a response to US politics. I wrote it as a general condemnation of evil as it tends to manifest. Any similarities to current events are purely coincidental.

  1. What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?

I think it’s important to know that the idea that ‘quality work finds an audience’ is something of a myth. Sure, maybe over time a quality book will gain traction, but you really have to publicize it. The publishing world is very corrupt. I meet a lot of people with Master’s Degrees in English and they make me want to pull their hair out because a lot of what they’ve been taught to believe is simply not true.

Also, literature is very elitist. There are many poverty class writers out there who are producing fantastic work and the literary community completely ignores them. When I say ‘poverty-class’ I’m talking about storytellers that you might come across in bars or other places. I’ve heard stories told in bars that are better than anything that would ever come out of a prestigious magazine by highly educated writers. I think those highly educated writers resent their lack of talent, and the grand talent that can be found elsewhere, and they take action to make sure those voices are silenced.

  1. If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat.

Willy Wonka. Chocolate.

4. What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?

 I don’t understand how you can promote a book without giving some copies away. After all, don’t you send a book to the publisher for free? It’s not like publishers pay you to read your work now is it?

The reality is that all major publisher give away hundreds, if not thousands of advance reader copies in order to hit the market riding the crest of a wave of reviews. Sometimes indie writers are held to a different standard than major publishers on this issue, which doesn’t make any sense to me.

I don’t think it demeans the work at all. You want people to read what you wrote and that’s not easy to do. If you think something is important enough to put in the effort to publish it, then you shouldn’t have any qualms about doing whatever you can to get as many people as possible to read it.

  1. What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?

 I actually just did this on my own blog. There was a review that I really appreciated on Amazon, so I took the text and responded to it on my blog, you can read it here. Responding to reviews is very important I think, as long as you don’t do it in a way that makes you look foolish. I find that the reviews I’ve received have greatly helped me improve my work, and they direct the sequels a little bit too. Interacting with readers is the whole point of this endeavor.

However, I would say don’t respond on Amazon, because Amazon might freak out and delete your whole account. It’s always important to bring the debate to a platform where you have control.

  1. How do you deal with bad reviews?

I haven’t gotten too many lately, but that’s just a by-product of my current popularity I think. I have a wonderful group of followers who offer genuine comments and are excited about my books. If I move up to the next level, a little bit more mainstream level, I’m sure I’ll get more negative reviews. If a reviewer offers what I believe to be a viable point, I’m always grateful to them. However, it’s irritating when you get a negative review for some reason that’s absolutely absurd. But it’s like getting into an argument on Facebook, you have to trust that the next person who comes along can see which person is arguing in semi-coherent sentence fragments, and which one seems to flash a little education.

The toughest critic I’ve encountered so far is Janet Morris, but when she points something out I’ve always agreed that something had to be changed. Sincere criticism makes you a better writer, so I’m always appreciative of that.

  1. What’s your next writing adventure?

 I have extensive notes for two books, first is the follow up to ‘The Literate Thief’ which will be the third book in the series. There will be something of a conclusion to a major narrative thread in this volume, but I’ve not dismissed the idea of doing a fourth volume.

I also have a book about education that I’ve been scribbling notes for. I haven’t quite figured out what the tone for that one will be, but I think it has to be comical, something like ‘Catch-22.’ I’ve written a dozen or so chapters for it, but I haven’t quite gotten the narrative voice figured out. Once I get it, I’m pretty sure the book will flow out of me quickly, but you can’t push it in the meantime.

  1. What is the last book you’ve read?

I’m currently reading ‘The Scarecrow‘ by Cas Peace. It’s one of her Albia stories and it’s fantastic. Peace is a great writer that more people should be aware of.

  1. With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling?

Without a doubt. The reality is that if you go mainstream you’re going to get the same old safe narrative over and over again. Mainstream follows the trends and indie sets them. I was in a Barnes & Noble the other day and I took a picture of the front display just because there wasn’t a single book on sale that I had any interest in reading whatsoever. It’s all book adaptations of powerful films and biographies of boring celebrities that are famous for doing nothing. Who wants to be traditionally published when that’s the kind of garbage you have to write?

  1. Are indie/ self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this?

I’m published with Perseid Publishing, a small press owned by Janet Morris. Morris is a very well-respected writer, but I still find that I’m regarded with skepticism among certain writing communities. I’ve come to believe that the literary community is, to some extent, more interested in silencing voices than giving them a platform. This makes sense if you consider the money angle. It’s easy enough to understand that some groups don’t want a book to be widely read if it doesn’t make money for their company. That’s a case where the quality of a work is irrelevant.

I remember one instance where I was at the Chippewa Valley Book Festival. I was selected for this festival and I was sitting at a meeting with one of the other authors who was regarding me with undisguised contempt. I started talking with her and she clearly had the sense that I didn’t deserve to be there. Now, this was a writer I’d never heard of, and whose name I can’t even remember. It just struck me as very strange that she’d be so critical of somebody who had a publisher and who had been selected to appear in the festival. But that’s a very prevalent attitude.

Who knows? Maybe they’re scared and intimidated.

  1. Is there a message in your books?

I always aspire to have something useful in my books. I don’t know if it’s a “message” but it’s an encouragement to at least start thinking about certain problems or issues. A person can be greatly empowered just by examining something that s/he always believed was true without question.

Sometimes if you line up a bunch of ideas, people connect the dots and come to a new conclusion about something they’re carrying around in their mind. The fact is that there’s a lot of junk in our mind that doesn’t do us any good. In fact, it was put there on purpose to not do us any good. The difficult thing is that a lot of people have become very attached to that junk and if you try to tell them to throw it away, they become very offended. So what you have to do is set up the whole argument and have them walk along the argument with you, and at the end, hopefully they come to the realization themselves.

My hope is that I’m helping people remove the junk. Others might say I’m contributing to the problem. The good thing about writing is that, in the end, the reader can listen to you or not.

  1. How important is writing to you?

It’s just something I have to do. If I don’t write for a long period I start feeling really bad, like groggy. It just helps me take a break from thinking, or carrying ideas around in my mind. Once they’re recorded I can stop worrying about them, I guess they become somebody else’s problem at that point.

Mainly I think of my kids. Growing up I always felt that there were a dozen or so pieces of information that adults could have given me and I would have had a much easier life. I’m trying to make sure I get as many good little nuggets of information nailed down for my kids to find as I possibly can. The thing is, there are a lot of lies out there. There are false narratives used to make you beholden to some other entity or individual. That’s the kind of thing that writing can fight against, but it’s an eternal struggle.

Thanks for having me!

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Review – Lawyers in Hell #Sharedworld #darkfantasy #historicalfic

https://amzn.to/2pPSKtm – AMAZON UK

https://amzn.to/2GkYHWw – AMAZON

Lawyers in Hell cover

Lawyers in Hell forms part of the Heroes in Hell shared world. As usual with these anthologies, there is an eclectic mix of stories. Some I enjoyed more than others, but there was nothing I didn’t like. From Guy Fawkes trying to sue Satan (Fawkes believes he is a martyr and thus should be in heaven) to Leonides dealing with a recalcitrant Alexander, to ex-presidents, to succubi causing mayhem and Erra and his Sibbiti (an ongoing theme) there is mischief afoot in Hell.

It shows the talent of these authors that although the stories are clearly written by different people, feature a bewildering array of historical characters in all sorts of weird situations they flow smoothly in a brilliantly crafted world.

Humanity will be humanity – even in hell. And thus individuals wish to sue other individuals and the lawyers who worth and the Hall of Injustice are kept busy. Of course, being hell, nothing is simple, nothing works properly and there’s always a hidden agenda. All the characters have some form of penance to pay – be it taking cases they cannot win, representing demons, facing monsters, dealing with the unpredictable technology, and generally trying to survive Hell. The stories are sad (as I said humanity seeks to be humanity with its many faults), darkly humorous, clever, weird and enticing.

5 stars.

Book Spotlight – Assassin 13 – Adult Dystopian

Title: ASSASSIN 13

Author: Tom Reppert

Genre: Adult Dystopian TimeTravel

Main character description (short): Like all badass heroines, Lauren projects sass and grit to cover past hurts. She’s trained as an elite assassin and takes pleasure in the lives she ends to better her world. Then she ends up in 1920s Hollywood, and her purpose shifts from hit jobs to caring for and protecting others, ironically, from gangsters who were idolized in her dystopian world.

Synopsis: Lauren Ramirez, an Assassin 13, which means she’s the best at her profession, is betrayed by her employer, the President of the United States, when she takes a high-rank target job to get information on her mother’s killer. While she’s attempting to escape in a space shuttle from his trap, she hurtles through a time displacement anomaly and lands in the glam of 1927 Hollywood.

 Lauren finds herself working for one of Hollywood’s top actresses, Pauline Windsor, who is dating mafia member Benny Sorrentino. He is caught up in a gangland war with the Colombini brothers for the city’s profitable bootlegging and gambling rings. Even as she clings to the revenge for her mother’s death and somehow fixing her broken shuttle to return for the information, Lauren’s relationship with the people she meets, stunt pilot Remy Garnett, Pauline, and Pauline’s children, all begin to change the hard surface of her heart.

 When Pauline’s relationship with Sorrentino draws her and her family into the gangland war, Lauren must decide whether to use her 22nd century talents and technology in their defense or abandon them to slip back into her time and get the information she needs to avenge her mother.

Brief Excerpt 250 words:
A malignant aura emanated from him that only Lauren could see. The Pelosi brothers flanked him like two cobras.

When he walks, he brings menace like the night, Matt said quoting some long forgotten future movie.

Leaning down, Sorrentino kissed Pauline quickly on the lips. “Hey, doll.”

Doll? That’s a bit cliché, isn’t it? Matt said. Is he going to stick a grapefruit in her face now?

Focused on the gangsters, she didn’t answer.

Pauline’s eyes lit up, then worry crossed her face. “Ben, are you all right?”

He waved her concern away, “Hardly more than a scratch. I’m fine.” He glanced at Lauren with raised eyebrows. A dark look came into his eyes. “I remember you, toots.”

“Ben, this is Lauren Ramirez. She manages my business affairs. She was at the dinner party.”

“Yeah, good to see you again.” Sorrentino reached for Lauren’s hand, but she kept both under the tablet. Frowning, he retracted his, and locked eyes on her. “Business manager? Then you’re just the person should be here with what I got for Pauline. Miss Ramirez, or is it Mrs.?”

“Benny the Bug,” Lauren said. “How did you get a name like that?”

He stiffened. His features grew dark.

Pauline glared at her. The room had been silently watching. Now, tension floated through like static electricity among gasoline barrels.

Lauren’s hand went theatrically to her chest in a picture of innocence. “I hope I didn’t offend you, Mr. Sorrentino. I meant no harm. Benny the Bug? That is your name, isn’t it.”

“What the hell’s with you?” His voice, low and cold, sounded like gravel being stomped.

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)? Buy this book because it is a fun read. It is entertainment pure and simple. I write books I would want to read. It is heart-pounding, thriller action, so I’m told, with a little romance and strong emotions. I hope people will feel those when they read it.

Assassin cover3 mar 2.jpg

Author bio:

Tom Reppert is an army veteran with a BA in English and History, as well as MAs in Creative Writing and Professional Writing. He spent twelve years in Africa and Asia teaching English Literature and Composition. An award-winning author, his writing includes educational essays, short stories, and novels Past Murders, The Far Journey, and The Captured Girl. Tom lives in Sandpoint, Idaho on idyllic Lake Pend Oreille, where he is currently working on his next novel, one set both in the future and the past.

 

Author Social Media Links

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Tom-Reppert-1506957986047973/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Repptom

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7219792.Tom_Reppert

Amazon

Amazon UK

Goodreads
Book: ASSASSIN 13
Category/ Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Teaser: Assassin 13 is a time travel thriller set in a dystopian future and 1927 Hollywood.

Lauren Ramirez, an Assassin 13, which means she’s the best at her profession, is betrayed by her employer, the President of the United States, when she takes a high-rank target job to get information on her mother’s killer. While she’s attempting to escape in a space shuttle from his trap, she hurtles through a time displacement anomaly and lands in the glam of 1927 Hollywood.

Lauren finds herself working for one of Hollywood’s top actresses, Pauline Windsor, who is dating mafia member Benny Sorrentino. He is caught up in a gangland war with the Colombini brothers for the city’s profitable bootlegging and gambling rings. Even as she clings to the revenge for her mother’s death and somehow fixing her broken shuttle to return for the information, Lauren’s relationship with the people she meets, stunt pilot Remy Garnett, Pauline, and Pauline’s children, all begin to change the hard surface of her heart.

When Pauline’s relationship with Sorrentino draws her and her family into the gangland war, Lauren must decide whether to use her 22nd-century talents and technology in their defense or abandon them to slip back into her time and get the information she needs to avenge her mother.

Click to Tweet Get your FREE copy of ASSASSIN 13 by @repptom MARCH 16! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38929567-assassin-13 #timetravel #scifi #ontheporch #hollywood #dystopian #readers Please RT!
Click to Tweet: Click to Tweet Check out reviews on @Repptom #dystopian #timetravel ASSASSIN 13 & get FREE COPY https://ctt.ec/7oJ51+ #ontheporch PLS RT

Blogs Participating in the Blog Tour (with more chances to win a free hard-copy of ASSASSIN 13!)
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Rebecca Waddell

The book will be free March 16-20
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Kirkus Review: “Characters are dynamic, especially headstrong Pauline, but Matt is a real surprise; he adds comic relief and Hollywood trivia to keep Lauren informed, even if she occasionally threatens to scrub the opinionated AI from her neurobots. The old Hollywood backdrop imbues the story with authenticity, including the name-dropping of classic film stars and the impending introduction of movie sound, a possible detriment to the current silent-era actors. Reppert wisely simplifies the time traveling, with its explanation decidedly less important than rich character development. Regardless, the oddly practical ending should appease fans of the subgenre. A striking tale flaunting a strong protagoni

Review – 1984 #Audiobooks edition

1984 on Audible.co.uk

George Orwell – author 

Andrew Wincott – narrator

It’s been a while since I read 1984 – one of the masterpiece dystopian books of all time and I’d forgotten what an excellent, and terrifying book this is.

1984 is dark, it is not a happy-go-lucky read and the audio edition does not make easy listening. That said Andrew Wincott was the perfect narrator for this timeless story. It’s a deep, thought-provoking boo laced with a terrifying dystopian truth, and the narrator really nailed that in his reading. From the contemplative, yet naive Winston Smith to the intelligent and brutal O’Brian he roused emotion in the listener. I found myself transported to the frightening world of Winston Smith and thinking how familiar it seemed in so many ways.

Although set in a futurist 1980s (it was written in 1948), the book has a timeless air. History as the reader know is it very different. In Winston’s world Freedom is Slavery, War is Peace and Ignorance is Strength. Many terms people use regularly stem from this book – Thoughtpolice, Big Brother, Doublethink and many people argue that the surveillance in our own societies is reminiscent of Orwell’s world.

His view of crowd mentality is awfully prescient when one looks at recent events across the world. (When individuals may be harmless people, but as a group they become ‘A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledgehammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.’)
1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
Describing the “Two Minutes Hate”, Part 1, Chapter 1.

Orwell’s dark story brings us politics gone insane, the nature of freedom and slavery, thoughts about what we believe history to be, the human spirit to survive, and the human will to power. Winston Smith is, to a great extent, an Everyman; a man of middling, but not great intelligence, in a rather mundane job, unsettled in his life and questioning what is around him, but not really able to understand why things are as they are.

I’d also forgotten the ending – which I won’t spoil but it did make me want to shout ‘No!!!!’ rather loudly.

I Can’t recommend this highly enough. It’s a superb story – which everyone should experience – and a brilliant rendition.

5 Stars to the narrator.

5 stars to the author.

Read 1984 or listen to this awesome retelling – it’s worth the time and it might just broaden your outlook. Read it!

Review – Tempus Unbound #Fantasy – Janet Morris

Review for Tempus Unbound

Tempus on Amazon UK

Tempus Unbound cover

5 stars

This particular Tempus/Sacred Band book is a little different – for a start, it’s all from Tempus’ point of view, and we have only Tempus himself, Cime and Askelon from the former books. Don’t let this put you off, there’s a host of worthies – not least Mano the mercenary from the future and bad guys to rival anyone in Sanctuary.

Called to Lemuria, a strange citadel between the worlds, and times it’s a chance to right wrongs if only you can work out WHICH wrongs. Tempus is lonely, alone save for his petulant and truculent god. Who is who, and who needs whom? That’s one of the questions asked as Tempus fights an old enemy in a new and unfamiliar world. The future is dark, and war will out. Strife is all and king of all. And so it was in his own time, and in this possible future. We see our hero struggle with technology he can barely imagine and his friends see power and courage they can barely comprehend. Gods, magic and tech fight as Tempus tries to save his sister, and save the world from his deadly sister. Choices are made, and regrets are put aside in the names of love and courage. Ideals are questioned, and truth is harsh.

As usual, the characters are supremely crafted, with a richness that brings emotion and a real sense of reality. In Morris’s world, anything is possible, and the reader believes it.  These aren’t easy reads, they have a high level of violence, sex and themes that require the reader to engage their brain. But this, and the other Sacred Band/Tempus books are worth the time, and the brainpower. Rarely does a reader find a world so rich, or characters so enchanting, or writing so lyrical.  The tempo of the book is a call to war, a call to stand for what is good, and a call to give all.

Heartily recommend this – even if you’re unfamiliar with the characters, and setting Tempus Unbound takes the reader on a journey from ancient times, to a future and it’s a thrilling journey and is a great intro to Tempus and his worlds.

Tempus Unbound on Amazon

Swift Six – Blaze Ward – #Fantasy #Scifi #HeroicTales #Meetanauthor

Heroic Tales - Fan set

Name: Blaze Ward

What attracts you to the genre in which you write?

I mostly write SF these days, but I have been into role-playing-games since I got my first Blue Book (bonus points if you are old enough to know what that is. Double bonus if you still have yours, like I do.) When I turned to professional writing again, I mined a bunch of old campaigns for ideas.

For The Forestal, however, I went back to the really dark, heavy, angry poetry that saved my sanity. These pieces weren’t originally written to be published in this format, but when my Publisher asked about them, I spent some time culling the larger library to assemble these pieces. Even today, I’m amazed at how well the long arc comes together, after wandering. Mind you, I wrote all these over the course of several years, with a number of other pieces that were unrelated.

It is epic and apocalyptic. It fit my mood then, and I’m glad I did it.

What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d known when you started your writing adventures?

“Fuck ‘em. They don’t matter. Just write the damned thing and put it out there for everyone to find. Fans will find you.”

If you could have dinner with any famous person or character who would you choose?

E.E. “Doc” Smith. I have always been a huge fan of his, collecting (as near as I can figure) everything he ever published, going well beyond Lensman and Skylark and down into even some mysteries.

Who has been the greatest influence on your own work?

Doc Smith, David Drake, and Arial & Will Durant.

Do you think the e-book revolution will do away with print?

Nope. Just make it possible for me to connect with fans anywhere on the planet. I just sent a note to another writer asking when one of his ebook-only titles was coming out in print (and offering to do it for him) so I could put it on my shelf with all the rest of his titles.

Which 3 books would you take to a desert island and why?

Fagles’s translation of The Iliad; Dash Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon; David Reynold’s Reflections on the Tao Te Ching.

Author bio and book synopsis

Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):

I like grand SF in big universes, but centered on the characters doing things, rather than the technobabble device magical MacGuffin thingee that saves the day with some hand-waving. I write whatever the voices in my head tell me, but the result is a wide swath of cultures and ethnicities exploring the future in a realistic way, without Chosen Ones or epic prophesies (snore).

I like strong, intelligent women, both in my fiction and my real life, and so I tend to write them.

My biggest problem these days with SF is that I once spent three hours crawling the SF/Fantasy shelves at Powell’s Books in Beaverton, Oregon and could not find a single book that looked interesting enough for me to buy it. So I had to go write it instead.  I’m okay with doing that for the rest of my career.

Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)

The Forestal (Fantary, Poetry)

A long poetry ring, best spoken aloud. (Think Homer’s Odyssey). A dark, epic tale about anger, betrayal, destruction, and the rebirth of the world. I have never encountered anything else like it, in the modern era, but I’m sure others are writing this stuff.

This was rage, distilled. A tale of a journey through deserts and wastelands, before we end up in the darkest forest, moments before the end of the world.

Links

Social media

www.blazeward.com

https://www.facebook.com/KRPBlaze

https://www.amazon.com/Blaze-Ward/e/B00K3X2VFQ/

Heroic Tales

 

BundleRabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/heroic-tales

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/heroic-tales

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2u33Tfd

I books https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1257100962

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B073T45HYB/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073T45HYB/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell Week 2017 – Day 2 – Seth Lindberg/Ernest Haeckel

 

Welcome to Day 2 of Hell Week 2017. Seth Lindberg has risked his soul (bit late for that), and joined us by the baelfire for an interview. First we meet his character Ernest Haeckel.

Pirates in Hell cover

Who are/were you?   Tell us about your life before you came here, and after.

EH: Greetings, I am Ernest Haeckel, renowned evolutionist, artist, and philosopher. You heard of my contemporary Charles Darwin, no doubt? I coined the term ecology and am famous for my beautiful drawings of lifeforms. My embryological montages unexpectedly drew anger from my fellow scientists.  They deemed I embellished too much. Yet, I stand by my depictions of embryos and the notion that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. You look confused, no doubt because  of your retarded ancestry. Just understand my hypothesis that embryos express shapes of all their lesser, ancestral forms as they develop. So before your embryo matured into human form, it appeared as a pig and even a fish.

question-1-embryos

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

EH: I find myself in Duat, a corrupted afterlife comprising ancient the Nile Delta and the Mediterranean Sea. Here the waters are corrupted by the first plague under Ramses II’s rule. Instead of water, blood flows. The once verdant banks are spoiled purple. A Vile Delta and Vile River surround me. No vegetation grows here. Fragments of cyclopean statues emerge from sandbanks like broken teeth. Inhabitants do not age here. Lingering pharaohs outlive the monuments made in their honour.

question-2-montage-sea

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell/Duat?

EH: I do not deserve to be here since I am of Homo mediterraneus race, the most advanced actually. Perhaps I must finish my census of Mediterranean life. Luckily, this coastline is overpopulated with locust nymphs and frog embryos, tadpoles and such. These Schistocerca gregaria larvae look unique to me. It may be a new species… I must draw this.

 

Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world?

EH: Thankfully, my faith in monism is affirmed. My body transcended with my soul cohered to it. Since I live again in the afterlife, I know I can return intact to the land of the living. What can enter, must be able to leave, correct? So, I do not mind visiting this strange Duat. What is crucial is that I defend my reputation and quell criticism. I am a true scientist. I do not fake my art. I can’t wait until my fellow scientists see what I have found here! I must convince them of my authenticity.

 

Who are your friends/allies here?

EH: Well, I am more interested in acquainting myself with biology than making friends, but if you mean “human allies” then there is my fellow Caucasian Howard Carter. He is the only other to wear a bow tie and fedora around here. Note, Howard is not a naturalist. He is fascinated with antiquities and material artefacts more than nature. That is why he is in hell.

 

Do you have any enemies here?

EH: Certainly the elements work against me. The vile Mediterranean Sea keeps swallowing up my documentation. How many times must I draw the lifeforms only to have the tidal waters consume my data?  Then there are those piratic warriors floating out there: the Sea Peoples. The pharaohs won’t let them on the land. They just float out there. They must be getting bored.

 

What is the WORST thing about being here?

EH: The cursed waters! I swear this Vile Delta sinks with Lemuria.

 

What is Lemuria?

EH: Man originated there. All twelve human races evolved from Lemuria, that continent adjacent to Africa and Asia. The Indian Ocean flooded it, just as Duat sinks now. With haste, we must end this interview. The Sea comes to reclaim my equipment and drawings. You distract me.

 

Before you arrived here did you actually believe in HSM and his fiery domain? Bet that was a shock!

EH: I have not seen this omniscient ‘HSM’ you speak of, but I do not expect to. There are no real gods, angels, or demons.  I have seen some pharaohs who deem themselves godlike, but they looked very human to me. Gods are just arrogant vertebrates.

 

Are you sure?

EH: Certainly. All my hypothesis are as good as theories.

 

Your future may get worse.

EH: How much worse could things get? Enough, I must chase my art again…

 

 

Author Spotlight

1) *Name and bio.

SEL: I’m Seth (S.E.) Lindberg, residing near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist by day and dark-fantasy writer by night. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs me to write adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors.  As a practicing chemist and hobbyist illustrator, I’m driven to explore the weird experience of artists & scientists attempting to capture the divine. I identify with early scientists before chemistry splintered from alchemy, when Art & Science disciplines had common purpose. Take, for example, early anatomy (Medieval and Renaissance period): surgeons searched for the elements of the soul as they dissected bodies; data was largely visual, and had to be recorded by an illustrator. The technology behind paint and dyeing was developing alongside advances in medicine. Back then, the same instrumentation in apothecaries produced medicines as well as paints/inks, so the distinction between artist & scientist was obscure.

 

Tell us about your story for this edition.

SEL: Curse of the Pharaohs: In the Egyptian realm of the dead of Duat, many pharaohs wait to be judged by Anubis; yet he has been in absentia for centuries. As the piratical Sea People threaten to come ashore, the meddling duo of Howard Carter and Ernest Haeckel unearth Anubis’s Hall of Two Truths. Eleven anxious Rameses risk leaving the shoreline unprotected to chance judgement (and a chance to get out of Duat!).

 

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

SEL: Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) was a dedicated, philosophical scientist with outstanding artistic skills. He documented thousands of life forms and published his beautiful plates in “Art Forms in Nature” (translated from German: Kunstforman der Natur). But then his fascination with Art-Nature caused an uproar when he tweaked his drawings of embryos in 1874. Haeckel envisioned familiarities across the embryos of fish, salamanders, turtles, pigs, rabbits, and humans; then he represented these in an evocative table. At a time when photography was not practiced, data was art…and vice versa. Some still claim his drawings were legitimate, but in any case, his artistic embellishments stirred a controversy. His beauteous art will forever be overshadowed by a philosophy that evolved into Social Darwinism, an evil variant of Darwin’s concepts that would inspire the Holocaust.

The Mediterranean Sea is ideal setting for a hellish story. The turn of the 19th century was rich with advances in evolutionary theory, science, and even speculative fiction. Anatomists, philosophers, and scientists ruminated on how far to extrapolate Darwin’s assertions. Haeckel was certainly combing the seashore for lifeforms to draw. Nearly the same time, ~1922, Howard Carter was busy searching for humanity’s past; Carter’s meddling eventually revealed King Tut’s tomb.
The notion of having Haeckel explore the Mediterranean in his afterlife was intriguing; to make it entertaining, he was paired with the obnoxious, tomb-raiding Howard Carter.  Thankfully there was a pirate-themed tie-in available with the Sea Peoples of ancient times. In what universe other than Perseid Press’ Heroes in Hell series can an author mix such disparate people/cultures/themes together? I am thankful to have had this opportunity to explore Duat and contribute to Hell.

4) How did you become involved with this project?

SEL: An invitation followed after contributing to Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Perseid Press’s anthology of historical fiction / fantasy.  Legacy of the Great Dragon, my short story for Heroika, features the Father of Alchemy entombing his singular source of magic, the Great Dragon. According to Greek and Egyptian myth, the god Thoth (a.k.a. Hermes) was able to see into the world of the dead and pass his learnings to the living.  One of the earliest known hermetic scripts is the Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus.  Within that, a tale is told of Hermes being confronted with a vision of the otherworldly entity Pymander, who takes the shape of a “Great Dragon” to reveal divine secrets. Legacy of the Great Dragon fictionalizes this Hermetic Tradition, presenting the Great Dragon as the sun-eating Apep of Egyptian antiquity.

 

If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

SEL:  There is a lot to say about Hell! Readers need to be assured that it is always okay to explore it. I defer to several authors from the Doctors in Hell anthology; this death-panel drops many quotes about the series and serves as welcoming introduction to the Heroes in Hell series:  Death Panel Convenes on why it is OK to go to Hell at any time (2015).

 

What other books/short stories have you written?

SEL: I focus on alchemy-inspired, dark fantasy. Separate from submitting to Perseid Press’s Heroika: Dragon Eaters, I have relied on Sword & Sorcery as a medium to contemplate life-death-art with my Dyscrasia Fiction series. Dyscrasia literally means “a bad mixture of liquids” (it is not a fictional land).  Historically, dyscrasia referred to any imbalance of the four medicinal humors professed by the ancient Greeks to sustain life (phlegm, blood, black and yellow bile). Artisans, anatomists, and chemists of the Renaissance expressed shared interest in the humors; accordingly, the scope of humorism evolved to include aspects of the four alchemical elements (water, air, earth and fire) and psychological temperaments (phlegmatic, sanguine, melancholic and choleric). In short, the humors are mystical media of color, energy, and emotion; Dyscrasia Fiction presents them as spiritual muses for artisans, sources of magical power, and contagions of a deadly disease.  The books explore the choices humans and their gods make as this disease corrupts their souls, shared blood and creative energies.

I plan to continue Dyscrasia Fiction in parallel with submitting stories to Perseid Press, forever shaping the muses of alchemy into heroic fiction.

CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS – Excerpt

  1. E. Lindberg

We hold, with Goethe, that “matter cannot exist and be operative without spirit, nor spirit without matter.”

– Ernst Haeckel, Riddle of the Universe, 1900 CE

Howard Carter, renowned discoverer of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, strode forward, his chin high. He led the quadruped by a leather rein. The leash was connected to a muzzle with a false beard. The bushy-mustached Carter addressed the other suited man, who likewise wore a bow tie and fedora. “Hello, sir, good day. Nice to see a fellow Caucasian gentleman here.”

The white-bearded man looked up, placing his drawing implements beside his brass, monocular microscope. Tipping his hat, he said, “I am Doctor Ernst Haeckel. I confirm we are both Homo mediterraneus. And you are?”

“In need of a cigarette, Doctor. There are few simple pleasures to enjoy here.” Too prideful to extend a hand in greeting, he kept one on the leash while his other stroked his vest’s inseam. He puffed out his chest in a display of masculine power, not unlike that of an alpha gorilla prepared to defend its territory. “Pardon, I thought my identity to be self-evident. I am Howard Carter. The Howard Carter. Archeology and antiquities are my specialty.”

“Oh, that Carter. I recall you started looking for a tomb, but never found it.”

“I did locate King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Soon after your death perhaps, since the whole living world knows my name. I am sure you would remember had you been alive at the time.” He relished his memory of discovery. “Ah, tomb number KV62. And you should note, Doctor Haeckel, that it was unperturbed!”

“Splendid. What did you do to said unperturbed tomb?”

“Opened it, of course!”

Confused, Haeckel went back to sifting the blood-soaked, purple sand. He found a ruby-colored cankerworm and placed it on his microscope, then looked through the lens before it could wiggle away. Face hovering above the microscope’s ocular, he asked, “Did you preserve or destroy it?”

“Don’t be foolish. I examined the tomb’s contents, of course. Some say it released a curse, though I was immune to such superstitions. I found many artifacts.” Sold several to local dealers, he thought to himself. “I have found it difficult to perform my trade since coming to Duat.”

“What is this ‘Duat’? Is it your employer’s acronym perchance? The Department of Underworld Antiquities or something?”

Carter smiled, “No, Doctor. It’s simply the Egyptian afterlife, wherein we find ourselves. Duat was coined by the natives long before we died.” Haeckel listened while keeping his attention on the cankerworm, so Carter inquired, “Are you looking for something in particular?”

“I must finish my census of this infernal version of Mediterranean life. This coastline is overpopulated with locust nymphs and frog embryos, tadpoles and such.” Haeckel said. “These Schistocerca gregaria larvae look unique to me. It may be a new species. Do you happen to know anything about embryology or evolutionary theory?”

“I recall your scientific community does not take kindly to imagination.” Before Carter could expound on Haeckel’s controversial embryological data, long proven to be embellished with abundant artistic license, the bound quadruped suddenly began a snorting, which escalated into an awkward yelp: “Hap . . . hap . . . suuuuu!”

“Gesundheit!” Haeckel said, taking notice of Carter’s pet. The being was hunched over and wearing some erotic, black leather corselet which left its buttocks exposed. It was forced into squatting because a lengthy wooden phallus protruded from its anus, no doubt some lodged sex toy projecting out his rear like a tail. The faux beard attached to the leash’s muzzle could be mistaken as a canine snout. The apparent quadruped resembled an enslaved jackal. Tassels and buckles adorned the leather straps, indicating the device once had been worn by­­ a partner. Haeckel inquired, “A human specimen? Are you expanding your interest beyond the artificial, and into the natural?”

“Ah, so you like what I found in KV60?” The reference confused Haeckel, so Carter explained, “My catalog number for the Valley of The Kings.”

“Mister Carter, I don’t know your catalog system — nor that specimen’s identity. You are sadistic to keep a human on a leash and torture him with that stick.”

“You misunderstand. I found him in this condition, chained to sandstone walls with that phallus up his arse. Far be it from me to take something away from its proper owner.” Carter motioned to remove it, and the man whirled in a circle, avoiding him. “See? He wants to keep it.”

Haeckel said, “Is that how the Egyptians buried their kings?”

“He is no king. He is the only non-royal I found. He must have died this way, perhaps a pharaoh’s masochistic lover. He does appear grateful that I freed his tether from the tomb, however. He is strangely talented in locating hidden ruins. Before leading me here, he sniffed out several buried sites which I am anxious to investigate further. I let him lead me for a time toward Vile’s end. To you, actually. Are you certain you do not recognize him?”

“Ja whol! I am certain. Does it . . .” From his low vantage, Haeckel felt compelled to confirm the specimen’s gender and thus peered beneath its posterior. “Does he have a name?”

“Mutt . . . Mutt . . .” the quadruped interposed, the bit of its leather bridle hindering speech.

“See, Doctor Haeckel, I fear this man now thinks himself a dog. Leashed as I had found him, preferring to crawl on all fours, then identifying himself as a mutt.”

“Is that all he says?”

Mutt spat, “Hap . . . hap . . . suuuuu!”

“Bless you, dear fellow! He does sneeze a lot,” Carter declared.

“Beneath that leather costume is a man. His hair, skin, and body shape indicate he is Homo mediterraneus: of the same race as you and I. The most advanced race, actually.” Haeckel became introspective. He switched his contemplations from the microscopic wonders to the macroscopic. He looked beyond the Egyptian ushabti toward the offshore soldiers. A vast fleet of warriors lined both port and starboard sides of the bird-headed warships. Clothed in kilts and corselets, they did not look much different than the Egyptians. Many wore horned helmets or bronze headbands; all had short, curly black hair. “Who are the floating folk?”

“They are Sea Peoples. Mere pirates, according to the pharaohs. I wager they desire a home more than plunder. Stay on this side of the shield wall and you should be alright.”

“And where are these pharaohs you speak of?”

Carter pointed toward the inland ruins. “Just the Ramses type. I cannot seem to find any others. The pharaohs watch the coastline intently.”

Haeckel asked, “Why do they not take off their masks?”

“They did not pass into death as whole as we did. I found their mummies already unwrapped, with faces flayed. Some vandal had gotten to them first. I woke them all and welcomed them to Duat. Each was quick to don their ceremonial gold helms,” Carter explained. “They are stripped of identity. They rule over a dead land. No doubt, there is a curse amongst them —”

“Are the pharaohs cursed? Or are the invaders from the sea?” Haeckel pondered, “Or are we, since we share their situation?”

“All mysteries remaining to be answered, Doctor.”

“Oh, I love riddles,” Haeckel said, trying to reconcile his evolutionary beliefs with this situation. He stood between two armies of the most advanced human type, the Mediterranean race. War was constant, even in the afterlife. There was only one Delta, over which many souls contested. Perhaps all humans were cursed. A frog hopped by. Haeckel seized it, holding it up by one leg for inspection. “Lot of Batrachia here. In unprecedented numbers.”

“Ramses II’s tomb was full of them. They spread when I released his mummy from KV7.”

“This species is unique, Carter. The Royal Society will never believe what I find here without sufficient documentation. I must convince them.”

“Your scientific community is not here. Plus, there is no way out of Duat.” Carter raised an eyebrow with a hint of hope. “Unless you plan to return to life. Do you know a way?”

Haeckel yet struggled to solve the riddle of the afterlife. Duat could not be entirely closed. Bodies and souls had entered here — united in fact, so the dualists were wrong. “Certainly, all my hypothesis are as good as theories,” Haeckel affirmed aloud. “My faith in monism is reinforced here, since my body and soul remain cohered. Since I live again in the afterlife, why could I not return intact to the land of the living? What can enter, must be able to leave. Of course there is a way back.”

Musing, Carter stroked his vest. “Although we kept our souls, Doctor Haeckel, our bodies do not need to eat. We are different here. Does it not bother you, Doctor, that the orb overhead casts shadows for this frog specimen but not for you? Not for your body? Nor for mine?”

Haeckel returned his attention to the sand, noting how the frog’s silhouette hung suspended from thin air. “Heilige Scheisse!”

“Holy sheut, indeed,” Carter mistranslated Haeckel’s profanity. “Doctor, that is no ordinary sun. The hieroglyphs in the tombs explain that it is a circular window into the Lake of Fire. Shadows are cast onto earth’s living realm, not here.”

They turned their attention skyward, to gaze upon the orange-red orb. Beside them the quadruped stared and howled, “Hap . . . suuuuu!”

Carter asked, “Do you see that? Something fiery is emerging from the light.”

“It’s a bird,” Haeckel guessed, squinting.

“A plane?” surmised Carter.

Out of ear shot of the fedora-crowned men, eleven Rameses exclaimed, “Anubis’ barge! Ammit the Devourer comes!” The flight of the burning galley affirmed their shaken Egyptian faith. The pharaohs stood in salutation.

The spectacle demanded the attention of all; even their enemies looked up. The solar barge descended without oars, resting on the back of a chimera sailing atop an infernal plume. A living crocodile’s head adorned the ship’s bow, its hull propelled by a hind set of hippopotamus legs with lion legs at the fore. Ammit the Devourer emerged from the supernal fire, her nostrils flared with smoke as she exhaled plumes that fueled the ethereal, enflamed clouds on which she rode. Her maw bit at ostrich feathers that evaded her hot breath, floating as if tracking some invisible path, remaining barely out of reach — but always avoiding ignition. Ammit approached land so all could see that the galley upon her back held a woman. A lady with a conical crown stretched over the side, grasping at the ostrich feathers.

Ammit landed on the purple beach in midstride, running along its shore, each footprint blazing. She halted and stood on her hippopotamus legs, rearing so her passenger could exit. Then Ammit burrowed into the bloody sand; her bed of flames went with her as she burrowed deeper into the underworld. In her wake, a smoking cloud veiled the hedjet crowned woman.

As the smoke of her passing dissipated, the leather-clad pharaoh strutted forward and bent to pick up the ostrich feathers.

The shield wall broke formation as the ushabti dropped their weapons to prostrate before her. A female pharaoh had been sent from the Eye of Ra! The woman placed the feathers into her hedjet, transforming her headdress into a proper Osirian atef. So mesmerized, the Egyptians did not observe Teuta signal her advance.

“Hap . . . suuuuu,” Mutt howled. He bolted forward abruptly to release himself from Carter’s grip. Mutt breached the line of ushabti, and galloped alongside the shoreline. He drooled as he advanced, anxious to lick her. Hatshepsut wore a bleached-leather cat suit which contrasted her bronze skin and black hair. Ebony kohl framed her eyes, underscored with green malachite liner.

Mutt met on her on the beach. He sniffed her groin with passion. She smelled of frankincense.

“Senenmut! My lover, my vizier, my architect!” Hatshepsut stroked Senenmut’s head until he calmed. Pressing her anterior against Mutt’s posterior, she strapped on the harness and then withdrew to unsheathe the wand. She stood proudly, feet widespread, outfitted as a king. “Were you bound for a long time? How did you find me?”

 

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