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Bryce had his usual half-minute warning before Lasair walked in the front door; Setanta sat up on his prized braided rag rug – the one that was probably going to look like a doily under a draft horse in about six months, according to Lasair – and turned his head toward the door, whining softly, tail thumping frantically against the floor.

“What am I, chopped liver? – you’ve had me all to yourself all afternoon.”

The tail thumped harder, and Bryce chuckled. He’d decided to take the day before Thanksgiving off work, not because he had any plans, but because all his clients seemed to. So there was no point in dragging his ass in to the office, and a great deal of point to lounging around the brownstone, getting caught up on his TBR pile, while his SoulShare went out to explore the city.

He actually wouldn’t have minded going along, but Lasair had wanted to go up to the American Museum of Natural History and watch them blowing up the balloons for the parade tomorrow, and given the apparently genetic Fae difficulty dealing with enclosed methods of transportation, that meant Fading to the Upper West Side, which humans weren’t equipped to handle –

The door opened, and Bryce looked up from his book, startled, as what looked like a mountain of Citarella bags lumbered in. “What the hell?”

“Would you mind taking the bag with the eggs? – it feels like I’m about to drop it.” Lasair’s voice was slightly muffled, though now that Bryce looked more closely, he could see his partner’s hair, and a bit of the side of his face.

Bryce unfolded himself from his chair and carefully unhooked the bag dangling from two curled fingers. “Don’t try to come the rest of the way in, you’re going to trip over a dog.” A dog who was doing his best to wrap himself around Lasair’s feet and climb his legs at the same time.

Lasair’s laughter followed him into the kitchen. He set the eggs on the table, then returned to help with the rest of the bags. “Did you leave anything in the store?”

The face he uncovered as he relieved the Fae of a bag of French bread was puzzled, or at least pretending to be. “Quite a bit, actually.”

“I love you, Rapunzel.”

The words came more easily each time he said them, sounded just a little less strange. Who ever would have thought…?

Lasair followed Bryce back into the kitchen, and the two of them started covering the counters and the small table with bags. “What possessed you?” Bryce scanned the bounty – crusty French bread, a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, eggs, a couple of squash, four heads of various green things Bryce couldn’t even identify, three different salad dressings, wild rice, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and Jesus Horatio Christ a twenty-pound turkey.

Lasair came up behind Bryce and slipped his arms around Bryce’s waist. “Thanksgiving. Although I’m not sure that’s technically possession, you know I’m still learning English.”

Bryce shook his head. “Well, I suppose this will make up for all the years I haven’t celebrated.”

“You haven’t?” He felt Lasair stiffen in surprise. “Why not?”

“Because when I was a kid, Thanksgiving sucked more than just about any holiday.” Bryce closed his eyes, trying not to shudder at the parade of memories – a few family Thanksgivings at his grandfather’s house, put on display by his father to make sure the old man realized the next generation of heirs was being properly raised. Then more years in what was nominally his own house, but had really been taken over by his grandfather after dear old Grandad’s stroke – years of being the perfect kid, and having any perceived imperfections beaten out of him after dinner. And then, after his Deep Dark Secret had come out, and it wasn’t any good pretending to be anything close to perfect any more, he’d taken to feigning illness on Thanksgiving. No one had particularly cared.

Least of all Bryce Newhouse.

How had he ended up in Lasair’s arms? And why was Lasair’s shirt wet?

“What is it, súmiul?” He could feel Lasair’s lips moving against his ear.

“It’s stupid.” He struggled to speak past the lump in his throat. “I didn’t care how much Thanksgiving sucked when I was a kid. I didn’t have a fucking soul, I didn’t care about anything.” He palmed away his tears.

Lasair’s palms were cool against Bryce’s hot cheeks. “Maybe you didn’t care then. But you can care for that little boy now.” A kiss fell on Bryce’s forehead. “And you can let me cook for him, and feed him, and give him the kind of happiness I saw as I walked around this city today.”

“I don’t think you’re really a Fae.” Bryce tried to laugh. It was either that or start crying again.

Lasair smiled, the smile that had first proved Bryce truly had a heart. Maybe the smile that had given it to him. “Oh, but I am. Fae do understand gratitude, though I’ll own most of us think of it more as a sense of liability.” Kisses brushed Bryce’s cheeks. “But I rather like the thought of being perpetually in your debt.”

Another attempted laugh was cut off by a kiss that meant business. Bryce was just starting to melt into it when a startled yelp was followed by the unmistakable sound of a dozen eggs hitting a linoleum floor.

“Setanta,” they both groaned together.

Off the table,” Lasair added.

The Fade-hound’s tail wagged furiously, clearing the kale and the endive and the God-knew-what-else off the table to join the eggs.

Lasair laughed. “Take him back in the living room, súmiul. I’ll put things away.”

Shaking his head, Bryce did as he was bid, flopping down on the sofa with the ecstatically wriggling puppy.

Giving thanks.

He was late to this particular table, no doubt about that… but as his face was washed by an adoring puppy, and his Fae partner puttered around the kitchen putting away enough food for an army, Bryce settled back on the sofa with a hesitant smile.

It was good… no, it was fucking amazing… to have so much to be thankful for.


What a long, strange ride it’s been. And wonderful, sometimes. The later bits more so than the earlier, but that’s kind of how it is when you don’t figure out an essential part of who you are until you’re fifty-two years and some-odd months old.

The author in me wants to tell this story ‘properly’ – spin it out, keep you in suspense, scatter a few red herrings here and there, and (me being a romance author and all) wrap it up in a nice neat Happily Ever After. But this isn’t one of my stories, and the purpose of National Coming Out Day isn’t to win a Pulitzer or a RITA. I’m writing to shed my secrets, claim my life. And maybe shed a little light on the path for the next people to walk it.

I’ve always known in my heart that I live somewhere “on the rainbow”. I was just never sure where. I only knew that I didn’t fit in with any group of people I’d ever met or heard enough about to understand. And I finally got tired of the not knowing, and the not fitting in, so about a year ago, I found an amazing therapist and started a process of actively questioning and exploring my sexual identity. Both the orientation and gender dimensions.

I started out thinking I might be genderfluid, or agender, or possibly even transmasculine – I’ve always hated my body, and I’ve always hated female stereotypes. But that wasn’t quite it. I hated being in a female body, but I didn’t want to be male – as I told a panel at Rainbow Con, about the only time I really wish I’d been born with a penis is when I sit down to pee and my iPhone always falls out of my back pocket. *winks* (And really, that wasn’t even a problem until I sized up to an iPhone 5s…) And it turned out, my hostility to my femaleness was something else entirely – I’ll get there in a few paragraphs, I promise.

Then came the breakthrough. The Moment. A Facebook moment, actually. A friend liked a post, a post it normally wouldn’t have occurred to me to do more than glance at (information overload being a Very Real Thing), because hey, it couldn’t possibly be me, right?

But it WAS me. A young woman was writing about her experience of asexuality. And every word made me want to jump up out of my chair and do the Rocky Balboa arms-pumping-the-air thing.

I’d finally found me.

This is who I am. I’m asexual – I don’t feel sexual attraction to other people. Other kinds of attraction, yes, but not sexual.

I’m not celibate – granted, a lot of vocabulary in the field of human sexuality is fluid right now, words have a tendency to change meanings according to who’s using them and in what context, but to me, celibacy is a choice to forego something you actually want or value. A celibate person is still heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual or wherever along the sexual axis of the spectrum they might find themselves, they’ve just chosen not to act on their attractions, for whatever reason.

And I might be graysexual (intermittent or sporadic sexual attraction), maybe even demisexual (capable of sexual attraction in the context of an intense emotional relationship) – I’ve never been in the kind of relationship that would let me explore my sexuality safely with another person in a way that would let me find out. But for now, where I’m at, asexual is pretty much perfectly descriptive. The picture at the top of this post is a tattoo I got at Rainbow Con back in July – asexual people (aces) often make use of playing card Aces as symbols, and graysexuals and demisexuals often use the Ace of Diamonds in particular. (“Often”, not “always” – symbolism’s a fluid thing too…) (This is also what happens when I try to take a picture of my own ankle with my phone…)

And frankly, I’m not overly concerned at this point about finding the exactly right sub-label. Or about putting myself in a box. That’s not what I’m trying to do, when I describe myself as asexual. I’m finding a language to speak about my life, and people to speak it with. I’m finding out, for the first time in my life, that I’m not actually fundamentally broken. That there are other people out there like me, and that it’s okay to be the way I am.

This is a fairly new thing for me. I spent most of my life convinced that I was defective. Not quite human. Because everybody was sexual – all the good people were, of course, heterosexual, but even the homosexuals still had sex with somebody. The real fate worse than death was being frigid. If you were raised the way I was, being frigid meant you were choosing to refuse to give your man what he had a right to expect, and that you would probably end up divorced and alone; if you were the feminist I later became, being frigid meant rejecting the delightful gift that was your own sexuality.

I tried to hide, for a very long time, without using that horrible word “frigid” (even though I did end up divorced and alone, twice, after sexless marriages – which were by popular definition “bad” marriages, so the last thing in the world I could do was admit that I liked them that way).

And here, it turns out, is why I hated my body. Men kept finding it attractive – and I, with my entire sense of self-worth being pegged to keeping my promises and honoring my obligations, firmly believed that I was obligated to go along with whatever their attraction prompted them to do, even though as an asexual person I totally didn’t want it. I ended up in two marriages that were very bad ideas that way; in between marriages, I stumbled through attempted relationships in which one or the other of us (usually him) always gave up after a few dates because there was no “spark,” no “chemistry.” Even if we could spend a whole lazy Sunday afternoon strolling hand in hand through an enormous flea market, and stay up till three in the morning talking about the movie we’d just seen… even I thought a “real” relationship had to be more than that, and if there wasn’t more than that, well, it just wasn’t going to work.

And I hated places like Victoria’s Secret, with their “every woman is sexy!” ethos and their underlying assumption that of course every normal human woman wanted to be sexy, so of course I wasn’t normal. I panicked every time I heard “love your curves!” – dammit, I thought I was safe, being fat. But nope, now there’s a spotlight on me. “Here she is, boys! – come and get her! Just look at all that sexy just waiting to be loved up! Even sexier than the skinny girls!” (For the record, I’ve always considered “love your curves” to be a wonderful, empowering thing. For everyone but me. I figured it was just part of how broken I was, that I had to keep hating on myself for a reason that would have been totally wrong to apply to any other woman.)

This is starting to change. (Finally!) My therapist is amazing. Beyond amazing. She’s helped me through the scariest part – getting rid of my preconceptions about asexuality. Especially the whole “frigid” thing. I’m not frigid. Hell no – just read any of my books! I don’t have to hate my body any more, because guess what? – even if it IS looking “eminently edible” to some folks, that creates no obligation on my part. And Victoria’s Secret is just overgeneralizing. (Still working on internalizing both of those, I admit. But progress is being made!)

I did think it was odd, at first, being an asexual author of m/m erotic romance. But it isn’t, really. For one thing, we all write about things we don’t know first hand, to some extent. Black Beauty was a wonderful book, but I strongly suspect it wasn’t written by a horse. And I have a strong libido, even though it doesn’t express as attraction to other people. And I truly am “in love with love” – to me, the best stories are the ones about two (or more) people who take most of a book to figure out they can’t live without each other. My romance is heavily fantasy-flavored, and who knows, maybe someday I’ll be writing fantasy that’s heavily romance-flavored… but there’s no sign over the romance clubhouse door that says “No Aces Allowed”.

And m/m is perfect for me, too. The idea of most romance is to get your reader to identify with one of your protagonists. Me, I’m more comfortable reading or watching erotica in which I don’t identify with anyone involved. If I start identifying with someone in the scene, I push back. (Yes, it’s a paradox. Ain’t life fun?) Writing m/m lets me explore all the intensity, all the passion, all the sensuality, in a way I can truly enjoy, without putting up any barriers.

And on a slightly related note, I think I finally understand why I’ve always preferred hanging out with gay men, rather than straight men. When I’m with gay men, I absolutely don’t have to worry about them picking up on some mysterious and unintentional “attractive” thing I might say or do and having any expectations of me. I’m not making them any promises, or at least not any promises they have any interest in me keeping! I can finally just be myself, safely. I sometimes think that my ideal relationship at this point in my life would be a poly relationship with two uninhibited gay men who adore me and don’t mind having an audience in the bedroom. If anyone knows how to get in contact with Dirk Caber and Jesse Jackman…. *happy sigh* *did I mention I’m also musicosexual?* Or, failing that, I’ll just sigh happily over Brock O’Hurn from a safe distance. (Celebrity crushes can be wonderful things… they don’t have to be sexy, and they can be perfectly safe. And in case anyone’s wondering, yes, I do truly enjoy all the luscious man-candy pictures that turn up on my news feed. I may not be daydreaming about what I personally would love to do in bed with all that male beauty, but believe me, I can come up with plenty of other daydream fodder!)

Next on my agenda? – (1) really internalizing my intellectual understanding that other people’s sexual attraction to me, or lack thereof, is their own bidness, and not any obligation on my part — it’s perfectly okay to say “nope, not interested”. (2) starting to figure out what I actually want out of a relationship (because I’m sure I do want one), and (3) starting to learn how to ask for whatever (2) is. I might be graysexual – I’ve felt sexual attraction to people before, usually a passing thing. Or I might be demisexual, and need to be in an intense emotional relationship with someone before I start feeling sexual attraction. I don’t know. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve had any chance to find out for sure. But I do know I’m going to have to figure out how to start talking about possibilities, if I’m ever going to find anyone willing to help me explore them.

Maybe some gedankenexperiments would help, a little constructive daydreaming with some of that daydream fodder. Maybe Brock. *grins* Hard to believe it’s taken me this long to realize that it’s okay for me to daydream about finding ways to be happy with someone that don’t involve immediate chemistry and sexual yearnings, but hey, better late than never! It feels deliciously self-indulgent, contemplating the prospect of figuring out what my thought experiment and I could say to one another, or do with each other, that might stand a chance of someday, down the road as far as I want it to be, carbonating my hormones…. or of making me happy even if said hormones remain UNcarbonated.

I finally understand now, fifty-three years down my life’s road, that uncarbonated would be perfectly fine. It’s okay for me to want to be happy, and not need for that happiness to have a sexual dimension.

I’m not broken after all. I’m just a different kind of whole.

Flashback to 1979 — UNDERTOW


It feels so gosh darned good to be writing characters a little bit closer to my own age… in tonight’s (completely unedited but hopefully typo-free) excerpt from the WIP, we get to spend some time with a 20-year-old Lucien, whom we presently know as the barrel-chested, massive-biceped bouncer at Purgatory, and a 30-year-old Mac, Purgatory’s bouncer, who at this point in his life is still a United States Marine attached to Walter Reed Hospital. Enjoy!


Lucien let tbe barbells drop to the floor with a thump that would have pissed off anyone living downstairs, if he didn’t have a basement apartment. His biceps were burning, his triceps felt like a couple of bags of dead mice, and his lats and his pecs weren’t speaking to him or to each other. But damn, it all felt good. And the aches wouldn’t last long, none of his aches and pains ever did. Though a shower would feel amazing right now.

His legs made a ripping sound as he stood up, sweaty skin peeling away from the cheap vinyl of what passed for his weight bench. It would be nice to be able to afford a gym membership, but there was no way, not on a part-time grease monkey’s wages. Small-time service station owners weren’t making the killing everyone thought they were, this summer of ‘crisis of confidence’. National malaise. Whatever. So until he could figure out how to print money, he was on his own, trying to keep up with Mac.

Just the thought of Mac made him grin like an idiot as he headed for the john. His boyfriend was getting some killer workouts lately, part of a new program he’d been assigned to. Mac had already been built when they’d met, and Lucien had always been hot for military types. But Mac was part of a team at Walter Reed that was working on ways to get amputees healthy and keep them that way. And Mac was incredibly fucking healthy.

Lucien shucked off his muscle tee as he headed for the shower. Wearing it in the first place was kind of a pain in the ass. Even below ground, D.C. was hotter than hell in August; he couldn’t afford air conditioning, either, and all the little fan in the corner did was move the hot humid air around. But he was just fastidious enough not to want to leave his short-and-curlies all over everything.

Fastidious. Hell. He was a fussy twenty-year-old queen. Furry cub. And wannabe gym rat.

Laughing, he reached into the shower. The rotating handle sounded like glass being raked down a chalkboard; tepid water sluiced over his hand.

A fist banged on his front door.

Lucien turned the water off, ignoring the screech. “Who is it?”

“It’s me, Lucien. Mac.”

He’d never heard his Marine boyfriend’s voice sound like that before. Like someone was trying to choke him. Lucien sprinted to the door — not like he had far to go, calling his place an ‘efficiency’ was dignifying it — unlocked it, and swung the door wide.

Mac stood there in the dank hallway, scalp gleaming under his regulation brush cut in the light from the crap bare bulb overhead, in what Lucien guessed were the uniform khakis he wore on duty. Guessed, because apart from the day they’d met, Mac hadn’t dared to be seen with him in uniform. Lucien understood. The facts of life were harsh, for a gay man in the United States Marine Corps in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Nine.

And underneath a sheen of sweat, Mac was as pale as paste. “Can I come in?” It sounded like he was having trouble breathing.

What the hell? “Yeah, sure.”

Lucien headed straight for the kitchenette as Mac walked past him. He didn’t have much on hand in the way of food, but alongside the round cardboard oatmeal box and the green box of elbow macaroni in the cupboard was a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels. He grabbed it, and two glasses — Foghorn Leghorn and Pepe le Pew, courtesy of Jack’s Sunoco — and turned around.

Mac stood in the middle of the room, surrounded by the weight bench and the old armchair and the TV set on the chest of drawers and the mattress and box spring, both of them on the floor because Lucien had never been able to figure out why he should bother putting them on anything. And Mac looked as lost as anyone Lucien had ever seen.

Lucien glanced around; not seeing anyplace better, he set the bottle and glasses on the floor and went to Mac. To his boyfriend. As bizarre as that sounded to him. Hesitantly he reached up and rested his hands on Mac’s shoulders, and winced as the taller man flinched. “What is it? Did something happen?”

It almost seemed like Mac hadn’t heard him, for a few seconds. And when he finally spoke, it was like he was remembering how. “Major Rawlings called me into his office, right after lunch.”

Mac didn’t sound like he wanted to go on, and Lucien sure as hell didn’t want to say anything stupid like “And?” or “So?” So he gritted his teeth and waited, and wondered if maybe he should try to grab the bottle.

“He told me… that he had photographic evidence that I’d engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the armed forces.” Mac’s voice was hoarse. Soft. Like he didn’t want to hear what he was saying. “That my court-martial will be convening the second week of September.”

Ad Campaign for Purgatory

This just HAS to be an ad for Purgatory. I think that’s even Mac behind the bar…

Purgatory Ad

Let’s help make a library!


Dear author friends – and reader friends who would like to help out –

OutFront Minnesota (, a Minnesota non-profit LGBTQ advocacy organization, is opening up a Youth Library at their headquarters on October 5, and could use our help! Specifically, right now, they need, according to librarian Sara Cassidy, “books, books, and more books! We’re looking for young adult novels with LGBTQ characters, books surrounding LGBTQ issues for youth, autobiographies of LGBTQ folks, or books by LGBTQ authors. Our greatest need will be for teens, but we hope to have sections for younger readers and parents as well.” (Right now they don’t have the ability to offer electronic books, and are looking for paperback or hardcover only. This may change in the future, however.)

The library, located in the OutFront Minnesota offices, will also be a gateway for LGBTQ teens and tweens to access counseling, and get involved in community organizing around social justice issues. It’s going to be amazing.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my own books aren’t terribly well suited to their needs (but I hope to be teaching some writing classes there, starting this winter). But I know I have a LOT of friends whose books would be perfect. Or who know people whose books would be perfect. So here’s what I’m proposing. Between now and National Coming Out Day (October 11), if you would like to donate a book, drop me an e-mail (rorynicoileain (at) yahoo dot com) or hit me up of Facebook if that’s where you hang out, and I’ll give you my shipping address – then, on or about National Coming Out Day I’ll load up the car and make a delivery to the Library. (If you’d like to help out some other way, drop me an e-mail and I’ll get you in touch with Sara.)

Teens + books = anything is possible. Let’s help make it happen, my friends.

UNDERTOW, Prologue

Book Six of the SoulShares, MANTLED IN MIST, will be hitting your Kindles and landing in your Christmas stockings the first week in December. But Peri and Fiachra are far from the end of the SoulShares’ story. In fact, I just started on Sunday on UNDERTOW, Book Seven. And I’d like you to meet Rhoann, who’s a very different sort of Fae from any we’ve yet encountered…

(And if you haven’t yet started on the SoulShares journey, I’m putting a link to Book One, HARD AS STONE, at the end of this excerpt. Go ahead, you have a few months to get caught up…)


August 16, 2013 (human reckoning)
Domhnacht Rúnda, The Realm

Rhoann corkscrewed lazily down into the shadowed depths of the gorge, his body parting the crystal water, his gleaming gray fur as slick as skin. He wouldn’t be able to stay down long, not in his seal body; salmon was better for exploring the deep places, or mer-form. He didn’t need to breathe when he wore those bodies; he was free to spend hours, days, tracing the caverns underlying his bottomless mountain-brackted refuge. But he wasn’t truly exploring; after all the long centuries, he knew every inch of Domhnacht Rúnda, the Secret Depths. He was simply reveling in his Element. And for the enjoyment of the caress of water, there was no sweeter form to wear than that of a selkie.

Rhoann Callte.

Rhoann froze. The water spoke his name. It had never done that before.

Perhaps if he dove deeper, it would stop. The light around him went from aquamarine to tourmaline to emerald; he skimmed near the face of a submerged cliff, honeycombed with tunnels.

Rhoann Callte.

The voice was female. Something like his mother’s. He thought. But it had been many years since he had heard Miren’s voice, except in dreams. And the water had never spoken with her voice. His mother had been a Water Fae, but not an elemental.

He dove deeper, into colder, darker water. But his lungs were starting to hurt. He drew in the magick of the water, and shifted; fur became scales, gills pierced the skin of his throat. Everything around him blurred, colors became bluer. The cooler water of a tunnel beckoned him, and his salmon form darted inside.

Rhoann Callte. Rhoann Lath-Ríoga. Tá thú toghairm.

The words caught him. Like a fisher’s hook sunk deep under his jaw, only without the pain Rhoann had always imagined the true fish of his mother’s stories would have felt. He thrashed, he fought; his rainbow scales clouded the water around him until the words pulled him free from his refuge and into the open water.

Thou art summoned.


It’s been a year…. so I thought I’d re-post this.


I thought maybe I was going to make it through this week without writing about depression. So many other people are speaking far more eloquently than I possibly could, there seemed to be no point to adding my voice to the chorus. Then I read a re-post, by a friend of mine, of a blog post which essentially said “Depression did not kill Robin Williams. He died by his own choice.” The original blogger went on to say that it was unfair to people suffering from depression to tell them that they had no control over their illness, that medication and therapy and spirituality were useless and that it was their neurochemistry that was going to determine whether they lived or died. That telling them this was taking away their hope. And that Robin Williams had chosen to ignore joy and hope and offers of help. Had chosen to let his illness win. The implication being that he had been free to choose otherwise. I knew in my heart that while there were certain points of truth in that post, from my perspective, it was basically, fundamentally wrong. But I didn’t want to post anything until I had in my head a clearer idea of what was wrong about it. Now I do.

First, I guess it’s kind of obligatory to establish my credentials, to be speaking about this subject at all. That’s hard to do, because to fully explain myself would require me to tell several stories that aren’t mine to tell. So I’m going to have to ask you, dear readers, to trust me a little, here. My part of the story, I can tell you. I’ve suffered from depression since the age of 17, had what I think was a nervous breakdown at 29. I was off antidepressant medication for most of my forties (kind of a miracle, given that my forties were also The Entire Freaking Decade of Perimenopause) but had to go back on for a while when my father died unexpectedly, three days before I turned fifty, and I found myself staring off into space during a dance class I was supposed to be teaching, wondering why the hell I should bother getting up out of my chair. As for the rest, yes, I have been affected, deeply so, by the suicide attempts of several people very dear to me. Affected to the point where my therapist tells me I have most of the symptoms of PTSD. So I think I can speak from the perspectives of both the depressive and the ones who are (nearly, in my case) left behind.

Addressing the original blog post: It would be wrong, yes, to tell someone with depression “This illness is going to kill you.” Just as it would be wrong to say the same thing to someone with cancer. But that’s only true when you’re talking to the living. It’s another matter entirely when you’re talking about the dead. To tell someone with depression who is still living, “You have control, you have a choice,” is at least arguably true, and may be helpful, may give them strength. (Although it could have the opposite effect, more about which in a minute.) But to say of someone who has taken his own life (I’m sticking with the male pronoun here for the sake of simplicity and in deference to Mr. Williams) “It was his choice, not his illness,” is passing judgment, when we have no idea what was in his mind in his final moments. I know there are people out there who call themselves Christians who have no trouble with that notion. But my Christ is the one who said “Judge not,” and I try to honor that. Yes, even though I was nearly left behind twice.

We don’t know what kind of pain Mr. Williams was in, in those final moments. We’re slowly starting to come to some kind of societal consensus, I think, that someone who is in unbearable physical pain and sees no hope of respite may be justified in choosing to end that pain. Why do we assume that emotional, spiritual, mental agony is easier to live with? Or that there’s some kind of special moral imperative that emotional pain can never be too much? Might it not be true, at least in some cases, that we are the ones who are being selfish, if we sit in judgment on someone who is suffering, emotionally or spiritually or mentally, beyond what he can bear, and tell him that he is being weak and cowardly by not staying alive for OUR sakes? And if it’s true in some cases, then it stands to reason that we can’t know for certain whether it was true in the case of any particular individual who takes his own life. Judge not.

And I mentioned earlier, it might NOT always be a good idea to remind a living person with depression that he has control over his illness. Every person with depression is different, at least in some ways. And purely from my own perspective, when I’m at a low point, nothing makes me feel like more of a failure than the thought that I SHOULD be controlling this, I’m ABLE to control this, I’m just such a total fuck-up that I CAN’T control this. I’ve failed at everything else, now I’m failing at being in charge of my own thoughts and emotions. It’s just one more judgment against me, one I’m entirely ready to believe when I’m that low. Not all depressives think like I do. I know this. And if someone has let you know that this sort of reminder is helpful to them, then go for it. But please, don’t sit in judgment on the dead.

Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD is, to me, the most perfect description of depression ever written. The blasted landscape through which the father and the son travel in that book is a pitch-perfect externalization of the internal landscape of depression. Bleak, hopeless, colorless, a world in which the most valuable piece of wisdom a father can pass to a son is the proper technique to blow one’s brains out with a single shot before the cannibals turn you into meat on the hoof, and in which finding a place of rest and respite is a terrible thing because you know it will be stolen from you. Yet, ultimately, it speaks of hope, a hope that the reader has to accept because it’s not a pretty hope, a unicorns and rainbows hope, it’s a hope almost as desolate as the despair that came before it. Because (spoiler alert!) the father dies. But… he brought his son to a place where he would be taken in and cared for before he died. Ultimately, his best was good enough. Everything he had was enough.

Who are we to say, in the end, that Robin Williams didn’t give everything he had? Or that it wasn’t enough? Rest in peace, Genie. And may someone, somewhere, be making YOU laugh.Genie







I’d like you all to meet Volyk. He’s an oboroten’, a uniquely Russian kind of shape-shifter, and he first made his appearance in my Dreamspinner Advent Calendar story, “Ilya and the Wolf.” Now I’m almost finished turning Volyk and Ilya’s story into a novella, “Wolf, Becoming”. And I wanted to share part of that story with you. The short story didn’t give me room to show you Ilya’s first shape-shift. But now I have world enough, and time. And here it is.


Ilya shivered in the narrow opening, his skin pebbled with goose-bumps despite the two sets of arms wrapped around him, his own and Volyk’s. “At least there’s no wind.”

Volyk didn’t seem bothered by the cold; his tanned skin was smooth under its varicolored dusting of hair. “Would you like me to go first, so you can see it happen? Or would you prefer I wait for you?”

“I think… I need to see. To know.”

Volyk nodded. “Then watch. It happens quickly.”

A kiss, and he withdrew his arms, stepping away from Ilya and out into the snow-brightened sunlight.

Even warned, Ilya almost missed what happened. It was as if a silver veil, one invisible until now, was pulled away. And as the veil fell away, Volyk changed. As if he plunged into some invisible fall of water as a man, and emerged as the great wolf Ilya barely remembered.

Yet he was the same. It was Volyk who looked up at him, his eyes burning amber, his ears pricked forward and his tail arched up over his back. His Volyk.

Impossible to doubt. Not quite impossible to be afraid… but Ilya set his fear aside. Time for a new life.
No. He had already found his new life. This…

…this was Christmas morning. A gift.

He could feel it happening, as he stepped out. He hadn’t expected that. Maybe the first time took longer. Or maybe it was different, for a man who had never been a wolf. Like unexpectedly deep water. Trying to breathe, drawing in nothing. Falling.

Not falling. He stared, stunned, at paws, his own paws, white paws crunching into new snow.

#You take my breath, wolf-mine.#

The voice was in his head. It was Volyk’s.

Ilya turned his head, wondering at the way his whole upper body turned with it. Volyk was watching him, amber eyes blazing; fur of black and brown and gray and cream was scattered with silver light.

#Volyk?# He took a step toward the wolf. Another. Another. Stopped, confused, as three feet obeyed his command to walk. The fourth joined them, and he sat down hard in the snow.

#What is it?# Volyk’s whiskers pricked forward. Ilya thought he looked amused.

#I have too many feet.#

Volyk threw back his head and laughed, silently, his breath forming crystalline clouds in the still air. The not-sound was so joyous, Ilya couldn’t help but join in, even as he blushed. Or did whatever it was wolves did when they were embarrassed.

#I think that problem should pass quickly.# Yes, the wolf was smiling, and not only with his inner voice. #I had the same trouble when I first changed.#

Ilya nodded, and this time the strangeness of the movement was less. #Going from four legs to two must have been harder than from two legs to four.#

#Here.# Volyk turned and bounded away, plowing a furrow through the new snow. Maybe twenty meters off, he stopped and turned back, his forepaws splayed, his tail fanning the air. He looked like a great playful dog. #Come to me, wolf-mine.#

Ilya tried to bound. His first few attempts landed him face-first in the snow. He didn’t mind, not when the reward for his attempts was more of Volyk’s rich laughter. And by the time he reached the varicolored wolf, he had figured out how to make his back end and his front end cooperate.

At least, until Volyk hit him broadside and rolled him over and over in the snow, still laughing. Snow flew, snow clung to his fur, a warm muzzle rubbed against his.

At last they came to rest, tumbled in the snow. #Wolf-mine,# Volyk murmured, the fire in his eyes bright enough to see even in the full daylight.

#Wolf-mine.# The thought was alien, but not, and wonderful. A shiver ran down Ilya’s spine, ending in a strange twitching feeling. At the very edge of his field of vision, something moved. Something that shouted ‘prey’, begged to be pounced on. Ilya leaped.

Volyk rolled in the snow, unable to contain his laughter, as Ilya chased his new tail, around and around.

Burning Roses Firestorm

Two hearts on fire… sometimes it’s romance, sometimes it’s a conflagration…

FIRESTORM for Kindle at:

All five

Ask my teenager, and I’m sure he’ll be glad to tell you all about how his Mom larned her readin’ and writin’ and cipherin’ by scratching on the face of a shovel with charcoal. But even the oldest of dogs have been known to learn new tricks, and I’m going to spend this weekend meditating on the mysteries of the QR Code.

I’m listing all the buy links for the SoulShares below, and I’ll be updating (and filling in the blanks) as I get links. If any of the links don’t work for you, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do what I can to fix them. (Which will probably involve telling my son that Mom’s out of charcoal again…)


Hard as Stone (Tiernan Guaire and Kevin Almstead)

Amazon (Kindle) —

Amazon (Paperback) —

All Romance eBooks —

Barnes & Noble (Nook) —

Kobo —

Gale Force (Conall Dary and Josh LaFontaine)

Amazon (Kindle) —

Amazon (Paperback) —

All Romance eBooks —

Barnes & Noble (Nook) —

Kobo —

Deep Plunge (Lochlann Doran and Garrett Templar)

Amazon (Kindle) —

Amazon (Paperback) —

All Romance eBooks —
Barnes & Noble (Nook) —

Barnes & Noble (Nook) —

Kobo —

Firestorm (Rian Sheridan and Cuinn an Dearmad)

Amazon (Kindle) —

Amazon (Paperback) —

All Romance eBooks —

Barnes & Noble (Nook) –

Kobo —

Blowing Smoke (Lasair Faol and Bryce Newhouse)

Amazon (Kindle) –

Amazon (Paperback) –

All Romance eBooks –

Barnes & Noble (Nook) –

Kobo —

And, just for good measure –

“Ilya and the Wolf” (Dreamspinner Press, short story, Russian shapeshifters) – Amazon (Kindle) –

Heart of the Oak (Ellora’s Cave, novella, Gille Dubh) – Amazon (Kindle) –

Tempted from the Oak
(Ellora’s Cave, novella, Gille Dubh) – Amazon (Kindle) —


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