Fridays @ Ofelia’s | Magician by K.L. Noone

Guest-Post

Today, I’m glad to say that K.L. Noone is back for a visit. Welcome!

Hi, I’m K.L. Noone, and I write LGBTQ romance—everything from contemporary to historical to paranormal, often m/m but sometimes f/f, or m/f with bisexual characters, or even m/m/m superheroes! Ofelia has been kind enough to let me drop by to introduce my upcoming novel, Magician, available from JMS Books July 24!

Magician is high fantasy, in a sort of early modern world—there’re printed novels and merchant ships alongside magicians and princes, but we haven’t quite got up to steam-power yet. It’s m/m, with bisexual main characters—or at least Gareth is cheerfully bi, and Lorre is, well, whatever he wants to be, being both an ancient magician and a shapeshifter, on occasion. (He’s historically been and done quite a lot…) It’s very much about guilt, and redemption, and trying to hide from the world on a deserted tropical island (because one might as well hide and feel guilty for one’s past mistakes in comfort!), and then it’s about what happens when an optimistic young prince shows up on one’s island and believes with all his heart that the world’s last legendary magician has to help with his quest, because that’s how quests go, isn’t it…

It’s also got cinnamon-blackberry scones, and an older-brother king who bakes as stress relief, and a bard singing a terrible ballad in a tavern. Plus a few bandits. And some hurt/comfort, because I do love a good hurt/comfort scene. And also a good amount of tea.

I’m so excited to share this one with the world, because Magician is a novel that’s very close to my heart—in some ways I’ve been working on it, or not-working on it, for over ten years! It began, in fact, as a spin-off story from my first-ever published (m/f, bi main characters) romance short story! (You don’t need to have read it first, I promise!) That short story, “Sorceress,” had a villain, or at least a Reckless and Problematic Magician, that required our sorceress to deal with—I always knew the sequel would be his story, and I even wrote two scenes of it back then, both of which are still in the final version, almost word for word. (One’s about halfway through, about true faces and magic. One’s the conversation near the end, about their future.) And then things got busy, and other stories wanted to be written…but then it woke back up, this past year. Loudly, too, shouting about optimism and hope and second chances.

So, a decade later, here it is. I hope you enjoy it—I loved writing it, and seeing Gareth and Lorre find what they want, and each other, and a happy ending, at last.

Here are some purchase links, and an opening excerpt!

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon

Opening Excerpt:

The world’s greatest living magician, lying on his back on a rocky ledge halfway up a cliff and bathed in sunshine, felt the boat’s arrival on the island shore below like an uninvited knock at a private door. He did not enjoy it.

He didn’t move for a moment. He did not feel like it, and there’d be no rush. Nobody’d get past his wards.

He kept both eyes closed. Sun streaked red behind his eyelids; gold warmed his skin, his hair. His body soaked in the sensations of strong heated stone, sank into stone, became stone: learning how the rock felt when bathed in lush late-morning light. His edges blurred, softened: time slowed, thrummed, grew earthen and deep, salt-lapped and wind-etched. He might’ve been here for centuries, unhurried. Equilibrium and erosion, solidity and reshaping: a balance.

He had needed balance. Something he’d thought he’d known, once. Something he no longer understood.

He’d thought the island might help. Being rock for a while, or the wind, or the seaspray: being suspended amid them all. Being alone, because he was not sure he recalled how to be human, not well enough.

The island was warm—Lorre had always shamelessly adored being warm—and far enough from the mainland that he’d been mostly undisturbed, and close enough to trade routes that he could occasionally walk on water out to a boat and barter some repairs or some healing for some news of the Middle Lands and King Henry’s court at Averene and the Grand Sorceress Liliana. Lorre had promised not to magically check in on Lily or their daughter; he was attempting to keep that promise.

Equilibrium. Difficult. Sunlight was easier. Sunbeams were weightless. Stones did not have to think about human promises. Human perceptions.

The knock came again. It was not physical, or not entirely. It was a presence, an unexpected intruder standing below, shuffling feet in the sand and no doubt wondering where precisely a magician could be found, being faced with a towering blank cliff and no visible habitation.

Lorre sighed, pulled himself back from frayed edges and heavy sleepy light, and sat up, pulling a robe on in an unfussy tumble of blue and gold, mostly just because he liked the caress of silky fabric on bare skin. His senses shifted, dwindled: more human, though not entirely. He’d been a magician too long to not feel the threads of brilliance—cliff, vines, fish, grains of sand, sea-glass polished by waves—all around.

He peeked over the side of the ledge. Behind him the cave yawned lazily, reminding him of sanctuary: he could simply walk back inside, the way he had for several years now, and ignore the new arrival. That generally worked.

He was rather surprised someone’d found him at all. He wasn’t exactly hiding—oh yes you are, said a tart little voice in his head, one that sounded like Lily’s—but the island, after a bit of work on his part, nearly always concealed itself from maps and navigation charts. At the beginning a few enterprising adventurers had managed to track it down, young heroes on quests or proving their worth by daring an enchanter’s lair or begging for Lorre’s assistance in some revenge or inheritance or magical artifact retrieval scheme.

He’d ignored all but two of them. The illusion-wall kept everyone out, simple and baffling; the island had fresh water but little in the way of food. Mostly the adventurers’d given up and gone home, years ago; he couldn’t in fact recall the face of the last one. Two had become nuisances, loud and shouting; one of those had actually threatened to drink poison, melodramatically demanding Lorre’s assistance in collecting a promised bride from a glass mountain, claiming he’d die without her.

The young man currently standing on the beach was neither loud nor melodramatic. In fact, he was calmly considering the sheer cliff-face, which revealed nothing; he stepped back across the small curve of beach, shaded his eyes, seemed to be measuring. After a second he put a hand up, obviously checking the edge of the cliff: having noticed the very slight discrepancy where sea-birds dropped behind the illusion-wall a fraction sooner than they should vanish in reality.

Intelligent, this one. Lorre dangled himself over the ledge at an angle which would’ve been dangerous for anyone else, and watched.

The young man had dark reddish-brown hair, the color of autumn; he wore it tied back, though a few wisps were escaping. He’d dressed for travel, not in shiny armor the way some knights and princes had: sturdy boots and comfortable trousers, a shirt in nicely woven but also practical fabric, a well-worn pack which he’d swung down to the sand. He wasn’t particularly tall, but not short: average, with nicely shaped shoulders and an air of straightforward competence, not trying for impressive or intimidating.

Lorre, despite annoyance at the interruption, couldn’t help but approve. At least this one had some sense, and didn’t walk around clanking in metal under the shimmering sun.

The young man called up, “Hello?” His voice was quite nice as well, not demanding, lightly accented with the burr of the Mountain Marches but in the way of someone who’d been carefully sent to the best schools down South. “Grand Sorcerer?”

Lorre mentally snorted. He didn’t have a proper title, not any longer; if anyone did, it’d be Lily. His former lover, now wife of the brother of the King of Averene, was by default the last Grand Sorceress of the Middle Lands; she’d started up the old magician’s school again, welcoming and training apprentices. Lily always had been better with people. Lorre was not precisely welcome in Averene.

The young man said mildly, “I expect this is a test; I thought you would do that, you know,” as if he thought that Lorre might answer, as if they were having a conversation; and looked around. “I’m meant to find you, is that it?”

That was the opposite of it. Lorre on a good day barely recalled how to be human, and certainly wasn’t fit to interact with them. He’d lost his temper with the melodramatic poison-carrying prince, strolled invisibly onto the shore, asked the poison to turn itself into a sleeping draught, and then poured it into the idiot’s water flask. Then he’d found a passing ship and dumped the snoring body onto its deck. He hadn’t known the destination, and hadn’t bothered to find out.

His current young man was looking at driftwood. Lorre wondered why. He was getting a bit dizzy from leaning nearly upside down; he considered the sensation with some surprise. A swoop of gold swung into his eyes, distracting and momentarily baffling; he pushed the strands of his hair back with magic.

The young man found a stick, one that evidently met his standards for length and strength. He kept it in front of himself; he walked deliberately toward the cliff, and the illusion.

Oh. Clever. Avoiding traps. Testing a theory. Lorre found himself impressed, particularly when the young man watched the tip of the driftwood vanish and nodded to himself and then set rocks down to neatly mark the spot.

The island was not large, and the beach even smaller: a jut of cliff, a tangle of vines, a small lagoon and a trickle of water down to the shore. The illusion hid the cave-opening, but there wasn’t really anywhere else for someone to be; the young man figured that out within an hour or so of methodical exploration, and returned to the shore, and looked thoughtfully at the cliffs. He’d rolled up his sleeves and undone the ties of his shirt, given the heat; he had a vine-leaf in his hair, along with a hint of sweat.

Lorre, in some ways still very much human, couldn’t not stare. Something about those forearms under rolled-up sleeves. That hint of well-muscled chest. The casual ripple of motion, broad shoulders, heroic thighs.

I suppose,” the young man said, very wry, still looking at the cliff as if perfectly aware Lorre was watching, “I should introduce myself. I think I forgot to, earlier.”

I suppose you should, Lorre agreed silently. Since you’re here. Disrupting my life.

He ignored the fact that he’d had no real plans. Meditation. Quiet. A hope for calm.

A hint of dragon-fire slid through his veins, under his skin. A memory. Restless. Beckoning. Dangerous.

Blurb:

magician

A magician in need of redemption. A loyal hero on a quest. And only one bed at the inn.

Once the world’s most legendary sorcerer, Lorre fled the Middle Lands after his own curiosity — and a misguided transformation spell—turned him into a dragon and nearly killed a king. He isn’t a dragon anymore, but he is hiding alone on a tropical island, avoiding people, politics, and his own reputation.

But now a hero has found him. And not just any hero. Prince Gareth’s full of patience, intelligence, a kind heart…and unfairly attractive muscles. And he needs Lorre’s help: his tiny mountain kingdom is under attack from ice magic, and Gareth hopes the world’s last great magician will save his people.

Lorre’s very much done with quests and princes and trying to change the world. But Gareth might tempt him to believe again…in heroes, in himself, and in magic.

Author Bio:

K.L. Noone employs her academic research for writing romance, usually LGBTQ+ and often paranormal, fantasy, or historical! Her full-length romance novels include the Character Bleed trilogy (Seaworthy, Stalwart, and Steadfast), Cadence and the Pearl, and A Demon for Midwinter, available from JMS Books, and A Prophecy for Two, available from Inkshares. She’s also the author of multiple romance novellas and short stories with JMS Books, and previously with Less Than Three Press, Circlet Press, and Ellora’s Cave. Her non-romance fantasy fiction has appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress and the magazine Aoife’s Kiss.

With the Professor Hat on, she’s published scholarly work on romance, fantasy, and folklore, including a book on Welsh mythology in popular culture and a book on ethics in Terry Pratchett’s fantasy. She is happily bisexual, married to the marvelous Awesome Husband, and currently owned by a long-legged black cat named Merlyn.

Twitter :: Instagram :: WordPress :: Amazon

#WhatToReadWednesday | Short Stories

It’s time for a #WhatToReadWednesday post! I figured since Remember Us was published at the beginning of this month and it being one of my favourite short stories of those I’ve written, I’ll recommend a few short reads to you. 

I didn’t include any Christmas stories, there are quite a few so I could’ve done a list out of that alone. And sure we could claim Christmas in July, but… 

Here we go. I didn’t mean to include quite this many, but once I started looking at short stories more and more made it onto the list 😊 They’re not in any particular order.  

Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle by Anne Brooke  

This is a bit crazy, but Anne Brooke knows how to pen a short story. It’s time circles and time travel and stuff too complicated to comprehend, but I enjoyed it a lot. 

Tuluscan six and the time circleWhilst finishing up a good day’s work in the Earth Interplanetary Administration Office, Karlan Staithley is disturbed by the appearance of a strange alien called Tuluscan Six. Tuluscan tells him that in one year’s time, Earth will make contact with his people, the Lamarians, and unwittingly destroy them due to an anomaly in the planetary time lines.

He himself has come back to warn Karlan, partly to save his people and partly as in the real time line Karlan and Tuluscan will become lovers. The two men join forces to try to save their futures, but can they in fact change time? And, if they do, how can their mutual passion ever survive?

https://books2read.com/TuluscanSix

Villains by Andrea Speed  

Short story in comic book style. I thought it was great 😀 

VillainsDear Author,
I know that everyone believes that I’m the monster, and that He keeps me on a leash. I don’t mind; it’s funny how everyone is deceived by our act and while they look at me with fear and loathing, His secret is safe. No one is going to know that behind his innocent look and smile there is a soulless and sadistic man. I love Him the way He is and even if He isn’t capable of love, I know that I’m the most valuable person in his life. He trusts me, He cares about me and He wants to be with me. And it’s enough.

Sometimes, I wonder— am I monster too?

Read here!

Dirty Pirate (Dirty Shorts) by Kyle Adams  

There are many Dirty stories, they’re all short, they’re all funny, and they’re all free (I think). 

Dirty PirateThis cute and quirky story requires suspension of all belief. It’s a silly little story written based off these prompts:

Story elements: Haunted shower curtain, a pink stuffed parrot, a magic wand, bucket of chicken, a burnt Pop-Tart, and Batman.

Main characters: One loves chicken, it is all he talks about. Other character wears an eyepatch because he thinks he’s a pirate.

https://books2read.com/DirtyPirate

Payback (Channeling Morpheus/Sweet Oblivion #1) by Jordan Castillo Price 

Well, we have to have a little JCP on the list, that’s the rule. 

PaybackThe hunt is on.

Pretty young men and women like Michael’s best friend, Scary Mary, are disappearing from underground goth clubs all over Detroit. For over two years, Michael has been scouring the midwest for buried newspaper articles and obscure medical reports, and now he’s finally pinpointed the source of the problem. Too bad he can’t exactly go to the cops and tell them his friend was murdered by vampires. Since it’s his duty to start wiping out the scourge, he’s posing as bait—and he’s got a bag of sharpened hickory stakes to do the job.

Everything should go smoothly, given the amount of preparation that Michael has put into the hunt. He’s got a practiced repertoire of come-hither eyeliner looks and a full blister-pack of the date rape drug Rohypnol. But he didn’t count on Wild Bill showing up.

Wild Bill is a vision in spiked hair and scuffed black leather—exactly the type of guy Michael would have fallen for…if he’d ever had the chance. Unfortunately, with a vampire in his sights, Michael has no time for an actual date. Despite his best efforts, it seems there’s nothing Michael can do to shake Bill loose. Looks like they’re in for a wild, wild ride. 

https://books2read.com/PaybackJCP

Let’s Hear It for the Boy by T.A. Webb  

I cried. Then I forced my sister to read it, and she shrugged with a well-it-was-pretty-predictable-wasn’t-it. Damn her. 

Let's Hear it for the BoyAuntie Social is the biggest, baddest drag queen in Atlanta—she knows what she wants and she gets it. She’s tough, merciless, and top dog. That’s what Paul Stewart, reporter for the Journal, had heard, and all he expects when he’s assigned to interview the legend.. But nobody really knows the person behind the make-up.

What if…what if the person behind the sarcasm and music was more than just a man in a dress? What happened in his life that, thirty years later, made him a successful CEO, a philanthropist, and a legend in the gay community? Thirty years and almost a million dollars raised for people living with HIV/AIDs, yet still no one knows the real story.

Until one night, one man breaks through the shell, and Matthew Trammell—Auntie Social—opens the door he closed many years ago and lets his secrets spill out.

Pain is like rain, it covers your skin and soaks in bone-deep, but it eventually recedes and allows fresh things to grow.

https://books2read.com/LetsHearitfortheBoy

Your Cover’s Blown by Shinju Yuri 

Some awww steampunk LOL 

Your Cover's BlownWalter had never fallen in love before but he’d always thought it would be like the feeling when you slotted something into place and knew, even before you turned on the steam and watched the gears begin to move, that everything was where it was supposed to be. Even before the gears began to move smoothly, faster and faster, until everything was a steady contented hum. He’d heard that it was something like a chemical reaction, though. If it was, that was all right, because he was used to them. The trick was to make big, gloriously horrible balls-ups of the thing and remember to duck if it blew. And do it over and over again until you got it right.

Read here!

The Name on My Wrist by J.M. Snyder  

This is one of my favourite short stories in all categories. It’s just a few pages, but it hits you. Heartbreaking. 

The Name on my WristJames, middle-aged, is given to one-night flings with younger men in whom he searches for someone he lost long ago. A random comment by his latest catch draws his mind back to the past, to a boy he once loved so fiercely, a boy drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam.

A boy lost in the war. A boy James has never forgotten.

https://books2read.com/TheNameOnMyWrist

Glitter by Ayla Starr 

Super short, but oh so lovely. 

GlitterI kept tripping over my feet, tripping over my words, and eventually gave up talking all together. You continued to smile anyway.

https://books2read.com/Glitter

Monster Till Midnight by E.J. Russell  

I chose not to include any Christmas stories, but a little Halloween is fine, right? Here we have monsters and time travel. Awesome!  

Monster Till MidnightWhat if you staged the best haunted house in the history of the holiday, but nobody came?

Brady is prepared with mounds of treats, stellar special effects, and an extraordinary welcome for the throngs of trick-or-treaters he expects in his first year at his new place—a gloriously gothic house with the reputation for really being haunted! But the trick’s on Brady: Halloween is almost over and not one person has knocked on his door.

Once a top Interdimensional Law Enforcement agent, Rej was busted down to Creature Control after a run-in with his arch-nemesis. When he tracks a non-sentient construct across the dimensional barrier, he’s sure he’s about to confront Gorvenath again. But the person who bursts onto the porch in a swirl of tuxedo coattails is a monster of a very different sort—but is he Gorvenath’s accomplice or his victim?

Monster Till Midnight is an 11,000-word gay romance featuring a hopeful samhainophile, a suspicious LEO, gratuitous candy corn, and a relationship that threatens to be really, really, really long distance.

https://books2read.com/MonsterTillMidnight

Wrong Order by Morgan Noel  

Another story fit for Halloween. Heed the warnings on this one! 

Wrong OrderJosh wants wealth and good fortune, without all the trouble of hard work. When he summons a demon as a quick and easy way, he gets more than he anticipated he would. The tentacled demon is not the hot vixen the book of rituals promised him, and the deal he asks for is more intimate and mindblowing than Josh could have conjured up in his wildest nightmares.

https://books2read.com/WrongOrder

Just Like in the Movies by Clare London  

This one is just a few pages, but it made me laugh. 

Just like in the moviesAll Bailey wants is to be a good negotiator, and to impress his boss and teacher, the legendary Drew Fletcher. He admires Fletcher for his skills in the field, but that doesn’t stop him admiring the man for other, more romantic reasons as well. In a tense hostage situation, it’s pretty unlikely Bailey’s usual, rash behaviour will cover him in glory, but in his dreams, it’s all going to happen just like in the movies.

When he finally acts to protect his boss, it doesn’t go the way he hopes — or does it? Will Bailey get to play the hero and get the guy of his dreams?

https://books2read.com/JustLikeInTheMovies

 

All I See by Nell Iris 

This is a cute story about being in a relationship where the other half isn’t out. *whispers* Grab it now while it’s free because a little bird told me it might not remain so for long. 

All I SeeTheo and Kieran have been together for five years. They’re very happy … behind closed doors. Theo accepted from the start that Kieran isn’t out to his conservative parents and has a lot to lose if they find out about his sexuality.

But a moment of sadness at a wedding changes things. Theo is faced with a decision: live the rest of his life in secret … or break it off.

Or is there a third alternative?

https://books2read.com/AllISee

Prisoner 374215 (The ESTO Universe) by Angel Martinez 

Dystopian prison story, awesome! 

Prisoner 374215The cracks had opened wide one day, let the monsters out, and swallowed every bright thing.

While the cell is sparse and cold, at least this one has a bed. The figure resting there is too thin; too still, the prominent bones the result of long starvation, the stillness the product of too much anguish and abuse. He watches, though. An anxious, intelligent mind still occupies this frail and failing body, one that watches and wonders about the new guard occupying his cell each night.

https://books2read.com/Prisoner374215

Playing Chicken: A short St Dwynwen’s Day story (Contemporary Celtic Myths) by A.L. Lester

A sweet little story about a man who finds a bruised man in his barn and invites him inside. There are also chickens 😀

Playing ChickenMarc returns home from London to his isolated Welsh cottage for good, having found his ex boyfriend shagging someone else in their bed. Who’s the thin, freezing cold man with the bruised face he finds in his barn? Will the tenuous connection between them grow, or fade away?

A 9,000 word short story in the Reworked Celtic Myths series, to mark the Welsh St Valentine’s Day, St Dwynwen’s Day, the 25th of January. With chickens. A contemporary gay romance. 

https://books2read.com/Playing-Chicken

Offense and Satisfaction by Vanessa Mulberry  

A historical shorty, well worth the few minutes it takes to read it!  

Book Cover Offense and Satisfaction by Vanessa MulberryEngland, 1772. Hugh Galpin has loved Owen Mowbray too long to want to hurt him. Now he finds himself on his way to a duel that might see one or both of them dead, he is torn between the word of a family he barely knows and a man he has trusted all his life. But after years spent living alone, he is not ready to give up his newly found cousins no matter what they have done.

Offense and Satisfaction is a 3,800-word Historical Gay (MM) Romance with a HFN ending.

https://books2read.com/OffenseAndSatifaction

The Immaculate Marlow King by Amanda Meuwissen 

Marlow King has a problem… Intense libido and being a virgin. I never would’ve read this story had I read the blurb, but luckily I didn’t LOL. Give it a go if you like mages. 

The Immaculate Marlow KingMarlow King is a rare and powerful Storm Mage and an officer of the law, but he has a secret: he has an unfairly intense libido. And he’s a virgin.

After an embarrassing reaction during a sparring match with his rival and fellow Mage Officer, Rembrandt “Remy” Parker, Marlow stumbles upon a thief escaping the scene of her crime. Desperate to escape, she looks in Marlow’s mind to use his deepest secret against him — and curses him to lose his magic until he loses his virginity.

Enter Remy, who is definitely a very bad (very good) idea to fix things.

https://books2read.com/The-Immaculate-Marlow-King

Sympathy for the Devil by RoughDraftHero 

*clears throat* Yeah, sooo… We have an alien in a glass box, and one day he wakes up. Comes with trigger warnings. 

Sympathy for the devilMilton is a low-level employee for the government. All night, he watches over the most prized-possession of the secret laboratory he works in, hoping one day he would be able to see its eyes. However, he finds out something shocking about the subject he’s been monitoring, and starts to feel a small flicker of guilt.

That was probably his first mistake.

https://books2read.com/Sympathy-for-the-Devil

Cover Reveal | Deadly Sugar

Cover-Reveal

Soon we will run out of new shiny covers to share, but not yet! On the 7th of August, Deadly Sugar will be re-released, and I have a cover. 

I wrote this as part of Buried Desired 1 together with Amy Spector. It was all her idea; I will take no credit at all. She wanted us to write a double horror feature. 

There is one thing you need to know about Amy, she might appear as a lovely, sane woman, but she’s not. She likes horror!  

I love writing horror stories, though if it hadn’t been for Amy, I probably never would have known LOL. But I don’t read horror, and I definitely don’t watch it. Hubby often laughs at me, but if some idiot can come up with scary enough stuff to make a movie about it, then some idiot can do what they do in the movie in real life. 

Perhaps not the best argument, since I lock people up in a root cellar in this one and let them starve to death… but I bet someone could do that in real life, so it sort of proves my point 😱 

Okay, ready to see the cover?? I love this one! 

deadlysugar

Blurb:

After six years of a relationship going nowhere, Jett Thompson has moved away to start over. Maybe his new neighbour David can help distract him from the ache left by his ex’s absence. To get closer to David, Jett invites himself for a cup of tea, but things don’t go as planned. David is standoffish and secretive, and when Jett asks about the strange noises coming from the back of his garden, he gets no answers.

David’s life is good. He has a whole root cellar full of lovers, and he doesn’t need a nosy neighbour meddling in his business. He doesn’t need a friend, but maybe he can make room for another lover. Jett might make beautiful cakes, but David knows nothing tastes as good as thin feels.

Buy links

Gay Horror: 20,281 words

JMS Books