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So, it’s been awhile. Two deaths in the family and a big move and a holiday season will do that, I guess. Rough few months, at the very least. I’ve missed out on a lot, but am excited to be back to blogging. Starting with today’s announcement regarding my latest release, which came out during my hiatus.
Blurb: The ocean is a vast playground of creatures real and imagined, rife with power and depth. In LIKE A COMING WAVE eight of fantasy’s best writers explore the erotic potential in the world of water. Mermaids and -men, selkies, Greek Gods, and even kraken cavort in these pages, featuring stories from Nisi Shawl, Julie Cox, Marie Carlson, Pepper Espinoza, and more, representing various sexualities and styles.
Table of Contents:
Breathing by Julie Cox
Extremiad by Nisi Shawl
Helios and Ceto by Pepper Espinoza
To the Sea,To the Sea by Marie Carlson
Wet Medium by Beryl Falls
A Requiem for Poseidon by S. C. Mitchell
Silk Skin by Elias A. St. James
How Much Water, How Much Air by M.E. Comstock
“To the Sea, To the Sea” brings together a mermaid whose song won’t lure any humans to the sea, and the kraken she must feed, who chooses her not for her voice but for the temptation of her body.
I’m excited about this anthology, a theme I love, and in particular because I adore Nisi Shawl’s writing, and am so glad to be in an anthology with her. I hope you guys enjoy!
Lightning cracked across the sky, lighting it up. One of the pups whimpered, but Dot couldn’t tell them apart. Couldn’t, didn’t want to, it all came out the same. They all looked like her brother in different ways, even the one that wasn’t actually related to him, sounded like him, smelled like him – she couldn’t take it.
“Shh.” The hay rustled as Trouble crouched next to them. The sharp scent of their fear faded, leaving that familiar-strange mix of family and not.
Patch was three weeks gone, his old lady said. Skittish under the last full moon, quiet where he was normally loud, talkative. Dot didn’t know him like that. He was the runt three litters after her, always silent and still.
Big shadows like bruises stained the skin beneath his old lady’s eyes. Manda, she was called, a human name for a wolf. “My parents liked to play pretend,” she said, and bared her teeth.
Patch gone, and their nearest neighbors, too, three of the four adults in the wolf pack. Five pups, four Patch and Manda’s, one their neighbors’, and Manda left to watch them. She slept fitfully in the corner of the barn, hugely pregnant, hands pressed against her belly even in her sleep. It rose like a full moon, third litter and maybe the last.
The breeze shifted, blowing into Dot’s face. She gulped it down, searching.
Behind her, a yip, cut off sharp, and she spun, crouching low, hands and feet against the boards she’d cleared of hay, ready for her shift. (Hay stuck to fresh-changed fur, made her itch, with no hands to scratch it free.)
Manda was awake, and on her feet, arms curled under the swell of her stomach, holding its weight, and her eyes were wide and dark, all the color bled out of them.
“They’re coming,” she growled, teeth sharp behind bloody lips. “They’re coming, they’re coming, they’re coming.” Her words rose into a howl by the end, high and thin, wolf crying for her pack, but only silence after.
Then, quiet at first, gaining volume and strength, Trouble raised her voice, head tilted so that her dark braids tumbled down her back, covering her bare brown skin. Around her, the pups lifted their heads, weak calls that made her jaw ache like claws on glass.
Too much like pack, and Dot was lone wolf nose to tail.
Thunder rolled, and with it the rain, gusts of it shaking the barn doors, covering their trail, the marks they’d left behind and their smell. From nothing to thunderstorm, and the snap of wind strong enough to knock over small wolves, nothing could track them through it.
“Shift,” Dot ordered, drawing herself in tight, muscles straining. The others turned toward her, watched her, and she shook her head, shifting back on instinct. She ran alone, no others to slow her down, but their hearts raced, and each breath pack pack pack. “We’re running.”
Running meant one more night safe and free.
May Milk (Super) Moon: Moonlit
June Strawberry Moon: Great Wide Open
The road unfurls like a river of black blood, slick and dark in the dusk. The sky stretches above it, above us, as big and wide as anything I’ve ever seen, more shades of blue than the ocean we left behind two weeks ago. Storm clouds rise like mountains, grey-black and heavy with water. Despite the threat of rain, the top’s down, and the wind whips around us, carrying the smell of wet, green things growing and, just at the edge of the rising storm, the scent of ozone.
Thunder rumbles. I press my feet into the dash, the cracked vinyl warm and rough against my toes, and tip back my head. We’ve been driving for months, and I thought I’d seen every version of the sky, but this opens up above us unending in its darkness, like I could start running now and never reach daylight again.
For the first time since we left my pack, I don’t feel lost, not even in this great wide open, just free.
A thin track runs off to the left, into the corn fields – the plants aren’t sky high yet but big enough for the cover we need – and we turn onto it, sliding the car between rows of genetically modified super plants, rah rah rah technology’ll save the world.
It smells off, wrong, and I wrinkle my nose against it.
Don’t matter how bad it stinks. Moon’s rising, we’ve got to stop. I have to shift.
One at a time, I press close, breathe in the scent of them: mouth, armpit, crotch. I suck the air in through my nose, again through my mouth and over my tongue, memorizing the smell I’d know even asleep and three quarters dead.
That’s the idea. Breathe them in as a human, slide my scent along their skin, and the wolf in me would let them alone once I changed.
Three months, we’d been on the road, circling and circling the USA, staying away from other wolves’ territories, and I hadn’t come close to hurting them, but each month, the possibility was there. It’d always be there, until my boys gave up their humanity in a slick wash of pain and teeth and blood.
I strip and leap from the car, one hand on the door frame pushing myself clear. Soon, I promise myself, already panting, soon,, and then the pull of the moon is on me. I’m alone when I start running, mud squishing between my toes, and as it rushes through me, I leap, into the corn, into the darkness, into the sadness of hunting alone.
They’ll wait in the car, tranq gun at hand just in case, music off, voices low. Sometimes I leave little gifts on the hood and then don’t they grumble, blood on the paint, and by the time the sun comes up, I’ll be curled up somewhere, thirsty and sore and dirty and alone.
But they’re always there when I come back, and I will never not return.
Oh dear. Apparently last month’s new experiment was left a draft and not an actual post. That explains so much! So here is May’s Full (Moon) Flash Fiction, “Moonlit,” and in a moment, I will post the entry for June.
At this point, technical issues and time constraints have led to such a lengthy delay of “The Rise and Fall of Cassandra Jones” that I am a bit overwhelmed at trying to recreate what was lost and catch up. I am shelving it this year, and instead will be writing flash fiction. Or at least my take on flash fiction, which I have randomly decided will mean 500 words not counting the title for this project.
To kick off Full (Moon) Flash Fiction for May’s Milk Moon (Supermoon), I present:
I felt swollen, my skin stretched too taut, too thin. I would burst soon like an over-ripe piece of fruit. Not quite there, still safe to eat, but almost not, sweet and heavy on the tongue, one breath, maybe two, from the rot lurking just beyond the wash of juice. I licked my lips, tasted metal and dirt, and rolled over onto my back. The hot air sank into me, sweat springing up beneath my breasts, along the curve of my stomach and thighs. I pressed bare feet against dry grass and stared up into the creeping darkness. Sunset was seven minutes after the (super) moon rose. I shivered at the thought of sunlight and moonlight (sunlight reflected, refracted, twisted, broken into something new) kissing in the sky.
Anticipation, but a specific kind, sexual, sensual and warm. I stretched, languid, calling my lover to me. She crept across the edge of my (world) vision, (moon) woman reaching for me with pale fingers so gentle, so cold, and tugged me into the shadows underneath the old oak tree.
Her full mouth, slicked red, twisted into a smirk, and she crawled along me, lingering at the bone of my ankles, the dip of my knees, the long lines of flesh up the inside of my thighs. I canted my hips up at her, wanting, but she rested her hands on my stomach, digging her nails into my flesh, and leant forward, dark hair tumbling down across my breasts.
“Soon?” she asked, voice the quiet rustle of a soft wind through the cornfield. Any stronger, and it would drown out other noises, creeping through my senses and bringing the hair on the back of my neck up. (I ran through corn on four legs, on two, pushing aside the stalks, and at ten, at sixteen, at twenty-two, it chased me, wind-fast through the darkness.)
“Two minutes.” The words grumbled in the back of my throat, and I coughed to clear them. “Little less.”
“No time.” She sank into me, nudging her thigh between my legs, pressing into the hot, wet pulse of my cunt, and my heartbeat was so loud in my ears, her chest silent. She was right, we didn’t have time for this, I couldn’t come so fast, but still I arched into her, grinding against her (bad dog, no humping, and my laugh bubbled up, spilling out with the ferocity of a howl). “I’ll be watching.”
In the distance, the pack I would join once I shifted. She couldn’t get close to me then, my girl, bruised fruit mouth and (stolen) blood on her breath. The smell of her all over me kept me wary of my family, waiting for me to come to them beneath the moon.
“Oh,” I said, “now”
She dropped a kiss to my hungry mouth, tongue across the spot I’d chewed rough (bloody), and she was gone, lost to the sky. My back arched, a howl clawing up my throat, the monster rising from within.
(Edited to Add: Totally forgot to drop this link: “Supermoon” Coming this Saturday.)
Another Lesbian Werewolves for the Win! Werewolf Wednesday, and I cannot get enough of them.
The ebook version of Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff is now available, print editions to come, and to celebrate this release, I have a review! (Keep an eye out in June for another celebration, where Catherine will visit the blog, and we’ll give away some prizes!) First, though, links to Silver Moon: Amazon | All Romance E-Books | Lethe Press.
Blurb: Becca Thornton, divorced, middle-aged, and barely out of the closet discovers that life can still hold some strange surprises, when she discovers that her body is changing; menopause turns her into a werewolf. Apparently she is not the only one, as a number of women in her town of Wolf’s Point seem to have had the same experience. As the newest member of the pack, Becca learns her nights are not spent only protecting the town and running through the woods howling at the moon. There are werewolf hunters in town and they’ve got Becca in their sights.
(NB: Above links are not affiliate links. Author provided an e-arc of the book for review. Also, I don’t believe there are spoilers, other than what you can get from various descriptions of the book.)
I was sold on the premise of Silver Moon from the start: women werewolves protecting their town? Characters of “a certain age” being awesome? Women kicking ass? Lesbians being heroes? Yes please, all of that and more. And I’m pleased to say that overall, I loved the story and hope to spend more time with these characters in the future. There aren’t enough supernatural stories about lesbians, or women who are werewolves, or older characters, and especially not about older lesbian werewolves who are completely awesome. I was giddy at discovering Silver Moon, and I’m still giddy after having such a good time while reading. The details of the werewolves are delightful (keeping a throat covered when laughing, because baring it says [potentially unintended] things, the smell of happiness, the sounds they can hear), and I love that this is a story about women and so many things they are and can be.
I do have my issues. There are uses of “crazy” and “insane” that I found pretty ableist, and a reference to a mental hospital that made me cringe. (Yes, I know this is language that is used in everyday life. Believe me, I know. I deal with it all the time.) Though there are quite a bit of racial diversity in the characters, particularly the werewolves, the story is so tightly focused on Becca and the things she’s discovering about herself that often the other characters get short shrift and the racial diversity falls to the background. (I’m hoping there will be additional books and the other characters will have more page time. I am particularly intrigued by Deputy Lizzie Blackhawk, who is smart and snarky and badass, and also, I think I’m in love.) The last twenty pages or so seemed rushed, especially compared to the slower build of the first half of the book. (Though now that I look at the actual page numbers, werewolf things start happening early in the book, and I can’t quite put my finger on why it felt like a slower build. I like slower builds, particularly in books about monsters.)
All of that being said, I really loved the book. I loved Becca and her changes, physical, emotional, sexual. I loved the werewolf pack, all the women and the work they do to keep their town safe. I loved the worldbuilding, the rules for werewolves, and the juxtaposition of interesting things: supernatural and scientific, monster and human, hunter and hunted, predator and prey. About halfway through, the story grabbed me and I devoured the rest, deadlines be damned, in a glorious rush of action and intrigue and lies and truth. It is truly a supernatural adventure, decorated with bits of humor and romance and angst.
One of the things I like most about werewolves and werewolf stories is the metaphor of lycanthropy as mental illness, particularly my experience with bipolar disorder: the (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes lining up with the (sometimes) uncontrollable mental changes, cycle for cycle. There are moments where the language, the description, so exactly captures what I think of when I think of werewolves, of that metaphor for mental illness, that it made me want to stand up and cheer, except that meant I’d have to stop reading, and so I didn’t. (“… she could feel that same wildness building in her … clawing its way to the surface inside her, racing beneath her skin and preparing to break through.”)
Silver Moon does not address this metaphor. What it does address is similar, though, and really made the story appealing to me: (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes for (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes. Lundoff’s werewolves aren’t a metaphor for mental illness, but for the way our bodies become different with age. (Literally and literally, for her werewolves; menopause brings the changes we recognize, but also changes Becca could never anticipate.)
Silver Moon isn’t just a story about lesbians, or women getting older, or werewolves being secret superheroes, or women being victimized. It isn’t a story where the women are monsters because, wink wink nudge nudge, all women are monstrous, am I right? (Can you tell I am exhausted by all of the stories where women are victims or villains and nothing in between?) At its heart, it is a story that either we can relate to now, or we will relate to later. It is the story of change, in good ways and bad. Sometimes – eventually, inevitably — our bodies change, our minds change, our lives change, without warning, and without our desire for it to occur. We get older. We deal with mental illness, or physical. We lose those we loved, we leave them, we say good-bye. We fight to keep our homes; we fight to create a place for ourselves in a new world after we’ve been rocked by things that happen to us, around us, we fight to keep those we love safe.
As readers, many of us search for ourselves in the stories we read, often to no avail if we aren’t straight, white, able bodied and minded, cisgendered, and/or male. In Lundoff’s werewolves, I found pieces of myself, my questions about what I am and what I have and what I will become; the push and pull of pack ties (family ties) with solitary natures and the need to seek adventures alone; and those shining moments of human and monster, separate and one, all wrapped up in a rollicking adventure that was simply fun. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, because it fits this story so well.
Lesbian werewolves for the win!
Well, Month of Thanksgiving ended up being very sporadic, but maybe next year I will be able to post daily. I still haven’t decided what I want to do to celebrate the December holidays; obviously from Month of the Werewolf and Month of Thanksgiving, daily posting is not going to work for me right now (the day job has been super hectic lately). Maybe I will try a couple stories instead.
But first, here is a fun review of Daughters of Artemis, which contains my story “The Fullness That Love Began.”
Over at Lamba Literary, Sinclair Sexsmith included Daughters of Artemis in Cliterotica Fall 2011: Storm Moon Press is a relatively new publisher, and one of their first anthologies is the lesbian werewolf collection Daughters of Artemis. The beastly nature of these stories surprised me, and when I got deep into the characters and plots I felt a connection to my own animal nature. Lesbian sex can certainly bring out the lusty, raw animal, and this collection pulled deeply on those tropes. Though we usually see werewolves as alpha males, there are plenty of alpha females out there and many have just as much command and demand.
And the Bonus. Despite the fact that I frequent Werewolves.com, I missed this post about upcoming werewolf books that includes Daughters of Artemis. It made me grin to see it.
The contest winner from my pre-publication DAUGHTERS OF ARTEMIS contest is Eliza Reeve! Eliza, obviously I have your contact info and I know you pre-ordered DAUGHTERS OF ARTEMIS, but let me know your bookstore preference and I’ll get that gift card to you.
Yesterday, August 26, was release day for DAUGHTERS OF ARTEMIS from Storm Moon Press, which contains my short story “The Fullness That Love Began.” DAUGHTERS OF ARTEMIS is available as an ebook or print (though there’s a bit of a delay on the print version due to printing issues), and is an anthology about strong werewolf women and the women who love them.
“The Fullness That Love Began” is a special story for me and has had a twisty path to publication, and I am so glad it is now available.
Blurb: Werewolf lore has long been dominated by tales of the strong alpha male, but what of the strong alpha females? The Storm Moon Press anthology Daughters of Artemis explores this mostly neglected aspect of the werewolf mythos, with an erotic twist.
Bounty hunter Toni McGowan has faced supernatural beasts that would send most running, but her latest assignment may be the toughest yet—playing babysitter to a New Ager wannabe. Jade Nicols, though, has a few secrets of her own, the darkest of which may just get them both killed.
Luna Rivers isn’t the most graceful of people at the best of times, and being stalked by shadowy figures and prowling wolves hardly qualifies. But after being rescued by the beautiful and sensual Syrene, Luna learns that there is more to herself than she’d ever suspected. She’s a werewolf, too, and in a whole new world of danger.
Andrea—Andy to most—is a pack leader in the forests of Washington state. Poaching in a nearby pack’s territory throws suspicion on Andy’s leadership. In order to find the truth, Andy and her mate Fiona find themselves forced into an uneasy alliance with Rafael, the other pack’s alpha.
Susan Runningwind is forty-five, but already strong enough to have earned a seat among her pack’s elders. Jesse Westfield is a documentary filmmaker investigating the so-called “Werewolves of South Dakota”. But when Jesse begins to get too close to the truth, Susan must make a choice between her pack’s welfare, and the growing attraction she feels to the younger woman.
Sasha is the first female in the kingdom of the shapeshifting House of Wood to be granted leadership of her own pack. The transition is hardly smooth, however, and Sasha winds up at odds with Aneira, her mate. Failure to maintain control of her pack would mean demotion and shame, but doing what she knows she must could drive Aneira away forever.
When werewolf Katya captures blind weretiger Yun alone in the wilderness, she sees only an opportunity to finally end the raging conflict between their two peoples. Yun remains loyal to the tigers, though, and as time passes, Katya finds herself less and less inclined to force the information from her. But when the fight comes to them, both will see their loyalties tested in the crucible of battle.