duskpeterson: (bookshelves)


THIS MONTH'S THEME: Middle East & North Africa

A number of my characters come from societies that are partially based on societies in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Koretians and Daxions of the Three Lands series are descended from a desert people who are based loosely upon the Bedouin. (Very loosely. When I started the series at age sixteen, I had a vague sense of the Koretians being connected with desert life; the rest I gradually pieced together as time went on.) Although the people of Koretia and Daxis have lost most of their desert customs over the centuries, their cultures remain strongly based on kinship; in Koretia, this often takes the form of men vowing to be blood brothers. In addition, the traditional Koretian system of justice is based partially on honor codes. By the time that the Three Lands series begins, the Koretian justice system has been tainted by such practices as blood feuds.

An early test cover for an installment of Breached Boundaries:

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Southern Vovimians appear in several parts of the Turn-of-the-Century Toughs cycle: Transformation 3: A Prisoner Has Need (The Eternal Dungeon), Sweet Blood 4: Checkmate (The Eternal Dungeon), Whipster (Michael's House), Mercy's Prisoner (Life Prison), and Hell's Messenger (Life Prison). Southern Vovim is what we would call a pan-African settlement in the New World, but its original founders were from the Toughs world's equivalent of the Kingdom of Kush in what is now Sudan (and also Egypt, during the century in which Kushites were pharoahs). More can be learned about the Kushites in the Wikipedia article on Meroë. (Again, it took me time to figure out this connection.)

Turning back the Toughs cycle: In ancient times, when these people settled in what would become the southern-most province of Vovim in the New World, they brought with them a tradition of creating textiles, jewelry, and works of gold, which would help to make Vovim the most arts-oriented country of the Midcoast nations. Unfortunately, the southern Vovimians' native tradition of iron-working died out, with the result that neighboring Yclau would later pioneer the Industrial Revolution, rather than Vovim. However, southern Vovimians are one of the two "tribes" that helped to form Vovim, the largest country in the Midcoast nations. Among the Midcoast nations, Vovim is rivalled only by Mip (which Vovim helped to found) for its multicultural splendor.

Cover for Whipster, showing a much later resident of southern Vovim, whose ancestors came from further south in the Old World:

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I'VE SET MY MULTIFORMAT E-BOOKS FREE

Enjoy and enjoy. My e-books at other bookstores are available free too, except at Amazon, where they're 99c.
 

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NOW AVAILABLE FREE IN MULTIFORMAT: Law Links (The Three Lands)

Few events are more thrilling in a young man's life than a blood feud between two villages. Or so Adrian thought.

Torn between affection toward his traditional-minded father and worship of his peace-loving, heretical priest, Adrian finds himself caught between two incompatible visions of his duty to the gods. Then the Jackal God sends Adrian a message that will disrupt his world and send him fleeing to a new and perilous life.

This novel on a young man's encounters with soldiers and spies can be read on its own or as part of The Three Lands, a diverse fantasy series on friendship, romantic friendship, romance, and betrayal in times of war and peace. The series is inspired by conflicts between nations during the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages.

Available as a free multiformat e-book or as a 99c Kindle e-book: Law Links (The Three Lands).
 

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NEW ONLINE FICTION: The Eternal Dungeon, The Three Lands, and Life Prison

Information about my online fiction. Click on the titles for the full blurbs, tags, and stories.
 

Ma'am (The Eternal Dungeon). The guards who serve under her are mocking her. In other words, it's an ordinary workday.

Wildfire (The Three Lands). He was a loyal servant of the god. But even loyal servants have their limits.

Shifts (The Eternal Dungeon). Midwinter's god is as cold as cruelty and as warm as a loving heart.

Adversaries (The Three Lands: Breached Boundaries #1). When an endangered slave visits an imprisoned spy, she discovers that she has more options in life than she had thought.

Open-Soul Surgery (The Eternal Dungeon). He expected death. What arrived was worse.

Emancipation (Life Prison). Civil war is tearing apart the land. Again. . . . "Emancipation" is loosely inspired by events at a border-state manor during and after the American Civil War. This is a special Juneteenth holiday gift story for my readers.


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REISSUED ONLINE FICTION: Leather in Lawnville, The Eternal Dungeon, Young Toughs, The Three Lands, and Life Prison

Information about my online fiction. Click on the titles for the full blurbs, tags, and stories.
 

Leatherdar (Leather in Lawnville). The narrator goes on the hunt at a college ballroom dance.

Prison Food and Fondness (The Eternal Dungeon). "All she needed to gather were the ingredients for the meal. This she tried to explain on one summer morning, standing by the outer dungeon's exit while confronting two guards who had their daggers pointed at her."

Far Enough Away (Young Toughs). He knew he wasn't normal. Now he must save others who have been left behind.

Pinned (Leather in Lawnville). A rude top and an interfering family member prove to be an explosive combination at the Eagle bar.

In Hot Water (The Eternal Dungeon). They are two of the most talented prison-workers in the world. It's a pity their skills don't extend to dishwashing.

On Guard (The Eternal Dungeon). A bloody knife from a crime scene becomes a mystery to be solved and a foreshadow of trouble to come.

The Whipping Post (The Eternal Dungeon). Ten minutes left to contemplate what lies ahead, before the end begins.

Bonds (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #1). A prisoner meeting his fate. A torturer meeting his demons. And between them, a man whose bonds are on the point of shattering.

Green Ruin (The Eternal Dungeon). Three guards and a mysterious substance provide a temptation too great to be missed . . . especially when two torturers add their skills to the mix.

New-Fashioned (The Eternal Dungeon). The Eternal Dungeon's youngest torturer has a special talent. He's about to discover what it is, at the worst of moments.

Searching (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #2). Walking into a trap may be the only way to create one.

Bard of Pain (The Three Lands). In the battle-weary lands of the Great Peninsula, only one fate is worse than being taken prisoner by the Lieutenant: being taken prisoner if you are the Lieutenant. (Also available in free Braille and DAISY editions).

Split (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #3). It was his duty to transform the prisoner's soul. But which one?

In the Silence (Life Prison). He can't speak. He can barely see. He experiences only fear and the faint whispers of something he had once known. But an intruder into his secure retreat from danger will pull him into awareness of what stands before him. What stands there is renewed danger . . . and the hope of something more.


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CURRENT ONLINE SERIALIZATIONS: Leather in Lawnville, The Eternal Dungeon, Young Toughs, and The Three Lands

Information about my online fiction. Click on the titles for the full blurbs, tags, and stories.
 

Spy Hill (Commando). On a hot summer's day, on a high hill surrounded by the enemy, the best battle-companion can turn out to be the truth.

Survival School (Young Toughs). How far can trust grow, when you're in a place you despise?

Checkmate (The Eternal Dungeon: Sweet Blood #4). The Eternal Dungeon is no longer a prison. It's a battlefield.

Law Links (The Three Lands). Few events are more thrilling in a young man's life than a blood feud between two villages. Or so Adrian thought.



*Certificate: 2016 Rainbow Awards. This certificies that Dusk Peterson has been awarded Best LGBT Alternative Universe/Reality for Risk (Dark Light #2).

RISK IS A WINNER IN THE RAINBOW AWARDS 2016

For the fifth time, the Rainbow Awards has honored one of my e-books. Risk (Dark Light) received the following honors:
 

  • 3rd Place, Best LGBT Book.
  • Winner, Best LGBT Alternative Universe/Reality.
  • Finalist.
  • Honorable Mention.


You can read the judges' comments (with an understandable but fairly serious couple of errors in the first sentence).

In addition, you can browse through a list of my e-books that were previously honored in the Rainbow Awards on my Awards page.
 

NEW STORY TAGS

I've updated the story tags page with additional stories and with the following new or expanded tags:
 

  • adventure, suspense, and thrillers (which is basically what I write, yeah).
  • fantasy.
  • historical fantasy.
  • 1870s.
  • Middle Ages.
  • Renaissance.
  • physically disabled characters.
  • chauffeurs.
  • craftsfolk.
  • diplomats and peacemakers (expanded tag).
  • monolatrism (see definition).
  • pluriform monotheism (see definition).
  • arsonists.
  • assailants.
  • assassins, murderers, and terrorists (expanded tag).
  • traitors.
  • war criminals and aggressive seizure of foreign lands (expanded tag).
  • soldiers and former soldiers (expanded tag).
  • father & daughter.


Just do a Find search on the story tags page to find these tags.
 

OTHER ADDITIONS TO THE WEBSITE

I changed my mind; I've brought back my young adult site.

At duskpeterson.com, I've added a page listing interviews with me.
 

Words per year

2016 WORD COUNTS

I've posted my word counts for 2016. I issued fifteen new stories last year, which is a number I'm pleased by. Unfortunately, my wordage continues to be so-so: 114,186 last year, which is no better than it has been every year from 2010 onwards. Granted that I had a legitimate excuse last year (I was spending a lot of time getting ready to launch my new business), but still, I could be doing a lot better than this. Fortunately, my 2017 wordage is looking good so far.

For the first time in seven years, I've also updated the wordage charts. I use these charts to help me see work patterns I might otherwise miss noticing. One chart reveals what I never would have guessed: My words per hour keep going up.

The last chart on that page, which shows how many stories I've published and reissued each year (with the e-books mainly showing up in red) . . . Do I get some sort of award for workaholism?
 

2017 PLANS

First, a bit of crowing, for I hit a personal milestone last year, without noticing it: I've issued over one hundred stories!

I began the year by posting a lot of long works of online fiction rapidly, but because of the demands of my new day job, I've had to switch over to a chapter-a-week serialization schedule. The good news is that I'm serializing more than one story at a time.

Here's my main serialization schedule for this year. The serializations run parallel with one another, though they don't all start on the same day (as you'll already have noted, if you've been following the updates at my blog).
 


Because I've set my multiformat e-books free, you can read ahead in older stories if you like, but this will give folks who don't know about my e-books a chance to read my stories gradually. And if you like book-club-style read-alongs, you can join fellow readers in reading and discussing each chapter as it's posted.

Breached Boundaries (The Three Lands) and The Awakening (Dungeon Guards) are at the editing stage. However, those two volumes collectively add up to 320,000 words, so it will take a while to finish editing them. (I'd originally hoped to issue Breached Boundaries at a rate of one installment per month, while the later installments were being edited, which was why I posted the first installment in January. But once I finished writing the remaining sections this March, it became clear that all the sections of Breached Boundaries would need to be edited at the same time, for continuity reasons.)

A reminder that, if you want to know at any point where I am in getting a new story issued, you can check the bottom of the series pages at duskpeterson.com, where I place my progress reports. My weekly updates (including announcements not made at the online archives where I post stories) are available through my blog and my e-mail list.
 


REVIEW: Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon)

"Thank you. Thank you for this story, for these characters, the stealing me away from a cold Winter day and giving me a hot prison to feel like home, a little cell of my own to feel safe and Layle and Elsdon to restore my faith in humanity." —Elaine White / Divine Magazine on Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon).
 


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FEATURED BACKLIST TITLE: Blood Vow (The Three Lands)

"I had come to tell him, in the cheerful manner boys have, that our world was about to be destroyed."

He has taken a blood vow to the Jackal God to bring freedom to his land by killing Koretia's greatest enemy. But what will he do when the enemy becomes his friend?

Thrust into exile and pain, young Andrew has no choice but to accept the friendship of the very person he had vowed to kill. When he returns with his friend to his homeland fifteen years later, though, he finds himself in a land of conflicting loyalties . . . where a vengeful god awaits him.

This novel on a young man's quest for true manhood can be read on its own or as part of The Three Lands, a fantasy series on friendship, romantic friendship, romance, and betrayal in times of war and peace. The series is inspired by conflicts between nations during the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages.

Available as a free multiformat e-book or as a 99c Kindle e-book: Blood Vow (The Three Lands).


Excerpt

Peter turned away and carefully undid the sorting I had just made of his clothes. "I fear that I have led both of us into a pitch-black cave, without bothering to bring a light with me," he said. "Let us move on to another subject. How did you spend your day? Aside from listening to insults from Lord Carle, I mean."

"I spent my day doing absolutely nothing."

Peter continued to look down at the items he was aimlessly moving from one pile to another, but a smile crept up the side of his face. "That sounds glorious. Where did you do this nothing?"

I came over beside him and took a belt out of his hands. "In the council library, to begin with; hence my embarrassing appearance at your closed meeting. I must apologize to Lord Dean tonight before he takes vengeance on the porter."

"I wouldn't bother." Peter left the sorting to my hands and sat down on the bed near me, leaning back against the wall. "I was witness to the porter's own apology, which was the most eloquent piece of poetry I've heard since I had a Daxion bard up on charges of stealing a bit of butter from the palace pantry."

"You put a bard on trial for stealing butter?"

"It's hard to believe, but the law classifies that as a major crime. Any use of the Chara's goods or money for forbidden purposes is considered a crime of disobedience – though you'll be relieved to hear that I let the bard go free. As for the porter, he has nothing to worry about; Lord Dean is fully occupied with planning this trip. Where did you go after you left the meeting?"

"Out to do more nothing. I did it under a certain tree in the garden."

Peter smiled and pulled his knees up to his chest, wrapping his interlocked hands around them as he leaned further back. "I'm glad that you found a good use for my birthday present. You've no idea the trouble I had in convincing the gardener that Emor would not crumble if he planted a Koretian tree in the palace grounds."

"Is it a Koretian tree? I didn't know."

"It turned out to be less expensive to bring a sapling over the black border mountains than to buy one of Emor's few remaining trees. I hope you won't stop using it, now that you know its barbaric origin."

I didn't bother to reply, but tossed a tunic at Peter. Laughing, he prevented it from landing in his face. "If you've spent an entire afternoon doing nothing, then you must have had a particularly terrible morning. I hope that our talk in the Map Room wasn't what drove you to seek pleasure ahead of duty."

I shook my head and knelt down to pull Peter's travel pack from beneath his bed. I knew that it was there only because I had cleaned the floor around it during my time as his slave. Over ten years had passed since it was last put to use.

As I stood up, I saw that Peter was still watching me expectantly. I said, "Lord Dean saw me in the council library before the meeting. We had a talk on marriage."

"Ah." Peter let the word drop like a heavy pebble into water. When the ripples were beginning to fade, he added, "Well, you needn't pass on to me what he said. I'm sure it's the same that was said to me at the meeting. That was what the council spent most of its time discussing: my ill-considered decision to visit a dangerous land when I have no heir. Fortunately, the lords did not insist that I beget an heir tonight, before leaving Emor."

I began to fold the tunics in the tidy manner which had never come naturally to me, but which pleased Peter. After a while, Peter said, "It seems a curious topic for Lord Dean to discuss with you. Did he say why he chose you as the messenger of his views?"

I noticed that his voice had taken on a note of quiet authority, but I ignored this and said simply, "He has asked me to mediate for him in the past."

"That isn't what I asked." He waited. When I did not reply, he said, "Andrew."

I continued to stare down at the tunics, but my hands were checked in their motions. Peter said, "Andrew, it is my duty as Chara to know what methods my council lords are using to try to influence me. Do not make me have to command you in this matter."

I stared at the items I was packing and took a moment to still my heart before saying, in the neutral voice that the Chara's clerk adopted when reporting the words of a witness, "Lord Dean said I would be able to demonstrate clearly to you the importance of fathering an heir. He also said he was sure that, like any other man, I understood the desire to raise a family."

I did not look up at Peter, but I heard him slowly let out his breath, as though he himself had taken the blow. "May he die a Slave's Death," he said. "He actually told you that?"

I did not reply. His voice dangerously low, Peter added, "High Lord or not, he can be summoned on a charge of insulting a free-man. I would request such a charge if you wished."

"No." I reached over and picked up the dagger without thought, and then placed it hastily in the pack before reaching for the tunics from the chest. Finally I said, "He probably just forgot."

"Lord Dean never forgets."

The bitterness in Peter's voice made me look up. Peter was staring into the distance as though peering at an invisible scene. "When I was four years old," he said, "Lord Dean took me to see some kinsmen of his in his hometown of Busedge. It was the first time I'd ever left the palace, and it was one of the happiest periods of my life. The High Lord let me have my way in everything; he wasn't strict with me the way my father always was. Toward the end of the visit, I confided to Lord Dean that I had once tried on the Pendant of Judgment to see what it felt like. Lord Dean promised to keep my secret – and he did, for many years. Then, one day about a year before my father died, I was talking with my father and Lord Dean – you may remember, for it was on the night when we first spoke. Suddenly, to gain a trivial point in an argument with my father, Lord Dean mentioned what I'd done. I've never forgotten the look my father gave me, and I've never trusted Lord Dean since then."

He pulled his gaze away from the past, reached to his tunic, and unclasped the emblem brooch in order to toss it to me. "You'd better pack this now. . . . It was perhaps unwise of Lord Dean to reveal his true nature so clearly to the Chara To Be. These days, if I were about to be cut down in battle and needed the help of either Lord Carle when he was being his most brutal or Lord Dean when he was being his most amiable, Lord Carle is the one I'd turn to."

"It's not a choice I'd want to make," I said, wrapping the brooch carefully in a face-cloth before packing it. "At any rate, Lord Dean does have a point in what he said to me."

"Lord Dean's points are like dagger points; they can only kill. Listen to me." Peter pulled himself forward so that he was kneeling on the bed close to me. "If I ever need advice on who to marry, it is you I will go to, not a man like Lord Dean. You know me better than anyone, better than even my father knew me, and nothing of what you are to the world changes what you are to me."

I said nothing, did not even look his way, but let my smile be my reply. . . .
 

Available as a free multiformat e-book or as a 99c Kindle e-book: Blood Vow (The Three Lands).


duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
Historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction, including lgbtq novels. All e-books are DRM-free.
 

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

From this point forth, all of my new stories will be posted at Archive of Our Own as free fiction. You can read the stories online or download the stories as free e-books (in html, epub, mobi, or pdf formats) by clicking on the "Download" button toward the top of the story's page.

I'll also be posting all of my backlist at Archive of Our Own, starting with the stories that haven't yet been bundled into volumes.

I will continue to periodically bundle my online fiction by series volume or theme and offer such e-books for sale at online bookstores. However, I'm lowering the price of my commercial e-books, and I won't remove the free fiction when I publish the commercial e-books.

To those of you who have bought my e-books in the past and are now cursing yourself for not awaiting the free or cheaper versions of my stories . . . Your money has been paying my food bills. I greatly thank you.

I have eighty stories in my backlist that aren't yet free fiction. I have several hundred thousand words' worth of new stories at the editing/layout stage. I'm starting a new job. It's going to take me a while to get all my backlist posted, folks. In the meantime, my website will reflect the transitional nature of this change.

More announcements are available below, after my story announcements.
 

NEW E-BOOK: Risk (Dark Light)

Now available in multiformat. Click on the cover for more information.

Risk



REISSUED E-BOOKS: The Eternal Dungeon

Now available in multiformat. Click on the covers for more information. The expanded edition of the Eternal Dungeon omnibus now includes the story "Balladeer" and is available in wide distribution (including Amazon Kindle).

On GuardThe Eternal Dungeon: a Turn-of-the-Century Toughs omnibus



NEW FREE FICTION: Young Toughs, The Three Lands, & The Eternal Dungeon

Information about my free fiction. Click on the titles for the full blurbs and story.
 

New Day (Young Toughs). Kit has reached her apprenticeship birthday and is on a path to inherit power. But what sort of power will she wield?

Guise (The Three Lands). Daxis is the land of bards and of truths too painful to be faced.

Sweeping Day (Young Toughs). "When she was hired as a maid, no one told her that she'd hold the future of the Dozen Landsteads in her bosom."

Tax the Dungeon (The Eternal Dungeon). Nothing in life is certain but love, death, and taxes. But what if all three should converge?


REISSUED FREE FICTION: Darkling Plain & Master/Other

These stories have been unlocked again and moved to new series. Information about my free fiction. Click on the titles for the full blurb and story.
 

Revenge (Darkling Plain). Revenge is sweet. . . unless you are haunted by dark memories of your own misdeeds.

Cold Stars (Master/Other). The prince was told that he must find himself. But what if finding oneself means losing one's love?


REVIEW: Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon)

"Rebirth doesn't pull its punches. It is quite intense and at times, it is pretty hard to read. The main themes explored are good and evil, guilt and redemption, life and death. . . . Rebirth is about two men, both very damaged by their pasts, and both of whom want nothing more than to be reborn into men that are each worthy of the other." —My Fiction Nook on Rebirth (The Eternal Dungeon).
 

FEATURED BACKLIST TITLE: O Most Unthankful (Master/Other)

An Arthurian tale. A simple Greek lesson reaches deep when a tutor seeks to teach a prince what can happen when love and duty clash.

Available free online: O Most Unthankful (Master/Other). Information about my free fiction.


Excerpt

I had already reached the summer room before I remembered; then I cursed myself. For four years, against all odds, I had maintained good relations with Belin, and one of the reasons I had managed to do so was because I had always shown him beforehand any texts I would assign to the prince. Belin had forbidden me to use only a handful of the texts I had shown him over the years; it took me little time to realize that this would have been one of the few.

I hesitated a moment, wondering what would be the best course to take now; then I molded my heart into courage and went searching for the priest, to make my confession.

I found him, appropriately, in the house's chapel. It had been a shrine to Mithras in the old days; Belin was not above desecrating other men's sacred places. To be fair to him, he probably thought he was bringing the shrine into the use that its original creators would have wanted, had they been so fortunate as to know of the Anointed One. Unlike some priests I had met over the years, Belin was refreshingly free of talk about pagan demons and their devillish followers; instead, he spoke of the fulfillment and summation of all good things in the Anointed One.

He was innocent of the fact that anyone might be offended upon being told that they adhered to a childish faith. I had not disillusioned him, partly because he was a good man in his own way, but mainly because he and his clergy friends were of too much importance. I had been in Ravenna when Rome's fourteen-year-old emperor was deposed there, partly because the Bishop of Salona denounced him.

Belin was not praying; he was reading from a bound wax tablet. At first I thought it was the letter from the King, but as I came closer I saw that the tablet's seal was not red but golden.

He looked up as I stopped next to him, and I said, "Bishop Dubricius has written to you?"

He nodded; his face was shining with joy. "He has asked me to send him the treatise I told him of, on the Blessed Paul's denunciation of pederasty."

I sat down on the bench beside him. The chapel was small, having originally been part of the larger room beside it, and then walled off when some earlier priest had decided that this mixing of sacred and secular was unwise. A tortured man hung from the wall – Belin was fashionable in his artistic tastes, and he preferred this design over the bare crosses that hung in most churches and chapels that I had seen. I slid my gaze away from the atrocity – after all, I reminded myself, my own ancestors had not been adverse to shedding blood for sacred purposes, though they had not gone so far as to revel in the agonizing death of a god. The altar below the cross was more to my taste, having been consecrated originally to an older god, as could be seen from the fact that the lettering of dedication had been hacked away.

The chapel was otherwise beautiful, filled with candles and incense and spring flowers. I breathed in the spice of the incense – I recognized it as one of the spices I had brought as a gift from the old Empire four years before – and tried to think what approach I should take in my confession. It did not appear that this was the best time for raising such a topic.

Belin, thankfully oblivious to my thoughts, said, "He says that he would like to use the treatise to help him compose a homily on the subject."

"Indeed?" I said. "That is a great honor."

Belin nodded, continuing to smile. "That such a great and influential man should value my thoughts on the subject is humbling to me. I hope that he will not be disappointed by what I have to offer. All that I have done is suggest some scriptural support for the Holy Church's condemnation of pederasty."

Belin was always the most polite of men; he never used words such as "sodomy" in the presence of an unbeliever. I said, "Surely that is not a matter that is under debate among the Anointed One's followers?"

The priest shook his head, his smile fading. "You would be surprised what wicked arguments men will make in the name of God. The bishop has among his flock some men and youth who, having lapsed into this sin, refuse to show proper contrition, but instead argue that the Blessed Paul did not condemn pederasty but some other sin instead. They quote the Blessed Hippolytus, who said that the Blessed Paul was speaking of those who take part in the orgiastic rites of the mother goddess. But I believe this is a misinterpretation of the letter to the Romans, and that the true interpretation of the passage can be found by examining the letters' later use of the words arsenokoites and malakos . . ."

He continued on for some time in this vein, with me pretending to show great interest – and indeed, I can always stay attentive to a good discussion of translation problems, however trivial the text may be. When Belin reached the point where he was preparing to describe the use of malakos in Homer to refer to Achilles' "soft bed," I interrupted him and said, "But does your holy man Paul say why he is opposed to pederasty?"

"That is clear from the words he uses," Belin replied promptly. "A malakos is a soft man, an effeminate man, one who has allowed himself to be used for the sexual pleasure of another man, as a woman should properly be used. 'Men abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another . . .'"

This was tiresome; I had heard this argument made by too many would-be philosophers over their drinks. "I can see that might be true of men," I said mildly, "but we are not talking about men, we are talking about youths. Surely at that time of life, the role of a young man is to follow, not lead, and it would be as improper for him to serve as master over his lover as it would be for a woman to serve as master in a marriage."

Too late, I remembered that it is never wise to try to argue philosophy with followers of the Anointed One; they always end up appealing to their holy book as certain proof that their god ordained such-and-such an action. Belin, who had turned concerned eyes toward me, said, "Good Arnobius speaks of how the King of Pessinus sought to withdraw his son from so disgraceful an intimacy, but spurned on by the frenzied madness of his lover, the youth mutilated himself—"

I stood up hastily, my head swimming from the sudden rise. For a moment, I thought that I was on the edge of a vision, but then I saw before me only the priest, staring up at me with the benevolent concern of a holy man who has failed to assist a soul that has strayed from his god's ways.

"I am out of my depth in these matters, I fear," I said with a smile. "I would appreciate it if you would lend me a copy of your treatise so that I may learn more on this subject. For now, though, I must return to my pupil."

Belin nodded, satisfied with this excuse, and turned his attention back to the tablet. I left him in the chapel with the flickering candles and made my way hurriedly down the corridor as the bells began to chime for dinner. No, not a good time for a confession, I thought. My best course of action would be to take the scroll back and return it to its hiding place.

I could only hope that the prince had not read far.
 

Available free online: O Most Unthankful (Master/Other). Information about my free fiction.


NEW SERIES: Dungeon Guards

The Eternal Dungeon is soon to wrap up after five volumes and fourteen years' worth of stories. (I do plan to write an additional postlude novel.) However, don't worry. Although my main protagonists' stories are wrapping up, the Eternal Dungeon is a big place, and some of the other residents there have been clamoring for their own series.

Dungeon Guards is my response to their demands. That series begins with The Shining Ones, which I originally published as a side novella in the Eternal Dungeon series, but which is now story #1 in Dungeon Guards. The rest of the first volume of Dungeon Guards is already written (my Muse has had a good summer), so you'll be seeing those stories too, probably next year.
 

OLD SERIES: Young Spies & Young Toughs

Because I'll be having less bookstore presence in the future, I've taken down my YA site and am folding the current volume of Young Spies (Law Links, which started off as a Three Lands volume) back into The Three Lands. The Turn-of-the-Century Toughs series Young Toughs will remain independent, but it will serve as a companion series to Waterman, featuring minor characters from Waterman in their own series. (If you've been paying attention, you already know that this is what Young Toughs has consisted of so far.)
 

PROGRESS REPORTS

I've moved my progress reports to the bottom of each series page, for readers' easier reference: The Eternal Dungeon, Dungeon Guards, Michael's House, Life Prison, Commando, Waterman, Young Toughs, and The Three Lands. (The Three Lands has an especially long "in progress" list. Man, was I ambitious in the 1990s.) I haven't included progress reports for the archived series, because who knows when I'll get around to updating any of them; but I can say that I plan to repost all the completed stories from Loren's Lashes and Leather in Lawnville. Also, Wizard of the Sun is coming soon.
 

OTHER WEBSITE CHANGES

I've revised two FAQ: Which accessible books are available for the disabled? and I'm visually impaired. What else should I know about this website?

The copyright and FAQ pages have been changed to reflect my return to concentrating on free fiction.

About the Author has been updated with information on my preferred pronouns (they/their) – and wow, how amazing it is to live in an era when people actually ask for that information.

The Older Writings section of my home page has been expanded to list fiction series titles and nonfiction site titles.
 

NEWS FOR E-BOOK SUBSCRIPTION READERS

Scribd is carrying my e-books again, and 24symbols has been carrying them for a while, so I've added those links to the entries for my e-books that are in wide distribution.

I'd talked on my blog last spring about placing some of my stories in Kindle Unlimited. Instead I'm posting all my stories online! Which means I can't put them in Kindle Unlimited, since Amazon requires exclusivity of KU titles, darn it. I apologize to those of you who prefer to download stories from the Kindle store.
 

E-BOOK PRICES LOWERED

As mentioned above, I'm lowering my e-book prices. Omnibuses are now $9.99, novels/volumes are $2.99, and short fiction is 99c.
 

INTERVIEWS

I had a couple of interviews last spring that are already a bit outdated, in terms of my e-book plans, but a lot of what I said remains relevant.

MM Book Escape interviewed me. Much of the interview is about The Eternal Dungeon. You can read about the interviewer, KathyMac.

J. Scott Coatsworth also interviewed me. The interview centers on my lgbtq speculative fiction. In addition to being an author of lgbtq speculative fiction himself, Mr. Coatsworth is the energetic founder of the Queer Sci Fi community for readers and writers of lgbtq speculative fiction. I highly recommend Queer Sci Fi's Facebook group; it's lively with interesting conversations.

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)

*

Title: Risk.

Series: Dark Light.

Publisher: Love in Dark Settings Press.

Publication date: August 17, 2016.

Genres: alternate history | adventure | maritime fiction | military fiction | lgbtq fiction.

Tags: story collection | friendship | family | gay love | bisexual male characters | heterosexual characters | 16th-century America | 1870s America | 1890s America | 1910s America | Chesapeake Bay | Western Maryland | spirituality (reincarnation; polytheism) | mentally disabled character | torturers, guards, and prisoners | liege-masters and liegemen | masters and apprentices | masters and journeymen | masters and servants | masters and slaves | rebels and reformers | Boer War.

Word count: 100,000.

Buy link: http://duskpeterson.com/darkfics/#risk

Blurb:

"I hesitated. Was Fairview dead? Was it worth my while to risk my own life for a dead man?"

Until risk arrives, you never know how important the things are that you're required to risk.

A soldier must decide how high a price he is willing to pay for an unspoken bond. A journeyman must choose between an assured future and an untroubled conscience. A boy learns that his life is a lie and must decide which truth he desires. A servant and his beloved master face stark truths as their lives are endangered. A young torturer, satisfied with his lot, gambles everything he has ever valued to learn a new way of treating prisoners. A master must risk the future of his slave, or else risk his own future. . . . "Risk" looks at the dangers and rewards of taking risks.

This second volume of Dark Light collects two novellas (short novels), two novelettes (miniature novels), and two short stories. These tales come from Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (The Eternal Dungeon, Dungeon Guards, Michael's House, Life Prison, Commando, Waterman, Young Toughs, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.
 

Volume Contents

"The Unanswered Question" (The Eternal Dungeon). No weapons, no allies, and no guarantees that he will survive the test.

"The Lure" (Young Toughs). His entire life has been a secret. Now he must rip open the secret.

"Journey to Manhood" (Young Toughs). "Perhaps, when they spoke next, the other young man could tell Simmons of any masters here who were in need of an apprentice who was perilously close to the age of journeymanship."

"Lost Haven: a master, his servant, and a disappearing island" (Waterman). Amidst a servant's nightmare, can a haven of hope be found?

"Master's Piece" (Waterman). He was his master's piece: the model for his master's sculptures. But his master was different.

"Spy Hill" (Commando). On a hot summer's day, on a high hill surrounded by the enemy, the best battle-companion can turn out to be the truth.
 

Excerpt:

He saw his master's boat long before it arrived, skimming over the afternoon-bright waters of the Bay. The closer the lithe vessel approached, the deeper the sun dipped in the sky, and the more the grey clouds huddled together like cloaked guests awaiting the start of a dinner party. Meredith began to worry that Master Carr would arrive so late in the day that he and Meredith would be trapped there overnight, with a storm approaching. Then Meredith recalled that a house awaited them, with four walls and a roof to shut out the wind and the water – a haven on an island that he had always considered a haven, since the time he left it as a child.

The Bay, which sliced like a knife between the two shores of the Dozen Landsteads, was already growing choppy from the upcoming storm by the time that the skipjack anchored, a few yards from shore. By that time, Meredith was hiding in a grove of loblolly pines, so he did not see the yawl carry Carr from the skipjack to the island. However, he did hear the uncultured voice of a servant say, "You sure you don't want us to come back, sir? Looks like a rough place to stay the night, and there's a blow coming in on the tide."

Meredith did not hear Carr's reply, but it must have been reassuring, for when he peeked out again, he saw that the little yawl was being hauled aboard the skipjack, while Carr stood on the shell-strewn beach, his back to Meredith, his hand waving farewell to the crew who had brought him to the island.

The anchor came up, the rising wind bellowed the sails full, and the crew began the painful job of turning the skipjack and tacking their way back to the Western Shore from whence they had come. They would be eager to return home, Meredith knew, for tonight was the final day of the festival week of Spring Manhood, when servants would feast in honor of their masters.

Meredith had never attended such a feast, either as a master or as a servant. He never would, he knew. He would be embarrassed to be toasted by servants who believed him to be a master, and as for receiving the joy of toasting his own master . . . It was enough that he finally had a master, after so many years spent masquerading as one.

Or so he told himself.

Pushing aside all lingering longings to live the life of an ordinary servant, Meredith waited until the skipjack was well away. Then he walked forward to join Carr, who was standing erect on the beach, watching the slender, long-necked boat depart. Meredith reached Carr just in time to catch hold of his secret master, as the heir to the High Mastership of the Second Landstead dropped to his knees and began to wretch.

Alarmed, Meredith turned automatically back to his liege-service training, holding Carr's forehead steady while wrapping his arm around his master's back. As soon as the last of the vile black-green liquid was no longer pouring from Carr's mouth, Meredith ascertained that his master remained steady on his knees. Then Meredith released Carr, searched the pockets of his own jacket, and offered the heir what he could: a clean handkerchief and a small canteen of water.

Carr accepted both, though he drank only a single gulp of water before returning the canteen to Meredith. "Thank you," he said in a faint voice, forever polite.

"Sir, are you well? Shall I signal your boat to return?" Meredith turned his eye toward the horizon. The skipjack was probably too far now to sight any signal, but at this hour, when watermen made their way home to nearby Hoopers Island, many fishing boats would be travelling alongside this western beach of Barren Island, for the eastern channel between Barren Island and Hoopers Island was too shallow for navigation. Meredith could flag down one of the boats; or if his signal-flags were ignored, the house that awaited them still had signal-fires stored in its cellar.

But Carr was shaking his head. "I'm all right. It was a bad crossing."

Meredith looked again at the waves, blood-red now from the setting sun. The waves furrowed the Bay, as though a great plow had been drawn across it. On the horizon, the skipjack bobbed its way across the furrows.

He had entirely forgotten, over all these past, joyful weeks, a passing remark that Master M Carruthers had made one day, early in their acquaintance. "I tend to get seasick," Carr had said in the midst of a recital of the boat-mastering skills he planned to acquire during the coming holiday from school.

Carr tended to get seasick; and yet he had travelled here upon Meredith's invitation, on a stormy afternoon, rather than return to their boarding school on Hoopers Island on any calm day he could have chosen.

"I think I'll walk back to school," Carr added with a touch of his usual dry humor as he rose slowly to his feet.

He was quite serious, Meredith realized. At low tide, the channel between Barrens Island and Hoopers Island was shallow enough that it could be waded, albeit at the expense of wet trousers. It was by no means the sort of activity that the heir to a landstead should undertake. Yet it was clear that Carr preferred wading like a servant to taking another boat over the water.

Appalled now at his own insensitivity and lack of foresight, Meredith said, "Master Carr, if you prefer, I would be glad to have you stay overnight at my old house. It has two bedrooms," he added as Carr turned to look at him. He did not want his master to think that he was acting like one of those servants in boys' comics, seeking to seduce his master. Aside from the single kiss that Carr had granted him on the night of their pledges to each other, light touches on the arm were all that Carr had given him so far. Meredith was still glorying in having a master who showed him any affection at all; he did not wish to endanger his service by demanding more.

Now there was a slight quirk at the edge of Carr's mouth. "A dry bed on steady ground would do a good deal to heal my stomach, I'll confess. Is your house far?"

"Just a mile from here, sir, on the eastern beach of the island. If it should please you to come this way . . ."

His original plan, born during the anxious minutes spent awaiting the start of his entrance exam for university, had been to show Carr his childhood. To take Carr to see the old haunts of his early boyhood, where he had lived before he began his terrible, painful years as a bullied schoolboy. Here on this island were the hidden havens of animals that he had found and secretly watched during those early, happy years, living alone on Barren Island with his father, keeper of the navigation beacons on the island.

Now his father was gone, learning to be a sailor in the Dozen Landsteads's Oyster Navy, which enforced the oyster laws. The lamphouse where his father had lived for the last seven years, and where Meredith had stayed during school holidays, had been given over to another lamphouse keeper. All that remained of Meredith's childhood, aside from the school where he had too many painful memories, was this island and the cozy little house where he and his father had once lived.

"It isn't very big," he explained now as he and Carr made their way around the edges of a salt marsh. "Father bought it when he first rose to the rank of master. It only has a single storey, plus an attic. It had room enough for him and my mother and one or two children. Father's liege-master loaned him the money—"

"And your father paid back the loan?" Carr paused as Meredith went forward to raise a needle-spiky branch out of his way.

"Yes, sir. He paid back Captain Pembroke long ago. My father has enough money saved now that he could buy a larger house . . . but after my mother died, there were no more children, just me, and I'll be going to university next autumn. If I'm accepted," he added with a pang of worry. He was a good student, but until recently he had assumed that he would be attending the university of his own landstead, the Third Landstead University. The university he had actually applied for had different examination questions than he had anticipated; he was still not sure whether he had passed the exam.

And if he had not . . .

Uncharacteristically – for Carr was always quick to pick up on Meredith's worries and to find ways to reassure him – Carr said merely, "Are you sure that the house will still be in good condition? It has been many years."

"Oh, yes, master," Meredith replied quickly. "Nobody comes here anymore, so there would be no thefts."

Carr raised his eyebrows. "Not even hunters?" He waved toward a long-billed willet, half-hidden in the cordgrass.

"Not these days, sir. Back in my father's childhood, it was different, because of the least terns."

Carr creased his forehead. "The least what?"

It surprised Meredith still when his master, so skilled in talk of government and politics, would reveal himself ignorant of the wildlife that had surrounded him for years. "A seabird, sir. It looks a bit like a gull, but it's smaller, with a forked tail. It likes to nest in open spaces such as beaches, so it was easy prey for the hunters, who would sell the least terns' feathers to the millineries – feathered hats are very popular among the women. My father said that, when he was a child, the beaches on Barren Island used to be entirely white-and-grey like shadowed snow, so many least terns nested there."

He paused; Carr's eyes had wandered away from him. Meredith said quickly, "I'm sorry, master. It was of no importance. I apologize for having bored you with such matters."

His throat ached as he spoke. It had always been like this with Captain Pembroke's son too. Young Master Pembroke could tolerate very little of Meredith's chattering about the island's wildlife. Why, in the name of all that was sacred, was Meredith making the same mistake with Master Carr?

Carr shook his head slowly, as though barely hearing what Meredith had said. "No, I—" Carr stopped mid-sentence, leaning against the scaly trunk of a loblolly. There was sweat on his forehead.

Concerned, Meredith asked, "Master, do you wish to make use of me by taking my arm?"

Carr gave a weak smile then. "Meredith, I can think of many ways in which I wish to make use of you, but treating you as a cane is not one of them. Lead on, liegeman."

Meredith quickened his pace; the sky was growing dark, and he did not wish him and Carr to be lost in the pine-shadowed marshland overnight. As a child, he had spent many an evening sitting beside the pond near his house – really a tidal pool – listening to the mysterious sounds of leopard frogs, muskrats, snapping turtles, fiddler crabs, herons, and marsh wrens. His father had permitted this, once he had ascertained that Meredith carried an almost magical ability to calm any animal that initially considered him a threat.

But that was many years ago, and from what Meredith had already seen during their crossing of Barren Island, the island had changed over the years. This had been a brackish pond in the old days, a mixture of freshwater and salt, but now it was entirely a saltwater marsh; he could tell that from the change in plants. The cattails he remembered had disappeared, replaced by cordgrass. There were fewer animals too; the harsher conditions of the salt marsh had driven most of them away.

It was odd; he wondered how it had happened. Then he remembered (on the edge of his memory, like a smudge of land on the horizon of the Bay) the reason that he and his father had lived alone on an island where once hundreds of people had lived.

It had occurred around the time of his birth, the final abandonment of Barren Island. His haven, as he had always regarded it, had ceased to be liveable for most of the inhabitants, who had built their houses close to the channel between Barren Island and Hoopers Island. The water had crept in, inch by inch every year, and then acre by acre. The channel that had once been ankle-high at low tide now rose far higher than that. Barren Island had begun to submerge as the waters rose, eating away at the houses and farmland.

That was eighteen years ago. Meredith's chest felt suddenly painful, as though it had been hit by an oar. He knew – he thought he knew – what they would see when they emerged from the trees.

It took Carr a long time to speak when they reached the beach. Finally he said, "Well, perhaps wading across to Hoopers Island would not be so wise an idea after all. The water seems to have risen somewhat."

Meredith could not speak. He was Carr's liegeman. Indeed, he was Carr's servant, by choice rather than by official rank. He had dual reason to ensure the comfort and safety of the young man standing beside him.

Instead, he had invited his seasick master over stormy waves to visit an abandoned island and stay at a house that was crumbling into ruins. . . .
 

Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Risk.

Imprisonment. Slavery. War. Love. Historical adventure speculative fiction.

About the author:

Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction: alternate history, historical fantasy, and retrofuture science fiction, including lgbtq novels and online fiction. Friendship, family affection, faithful service, and romance often occur in the stories. A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books. Visit duskpeterson.com for e-books and free fiction.

Dusk Peterson's social networks: Blog & e-mail list | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | AO3.

duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)

*

Feel free to pass on this post to other people. Requests for review copies may be sent to the author, Dusk Peterson.

Title: On Guard (The Eternal Dungeon, Volume 4).

Series: The Eternal Dungeon.

Publisher: Love in Dark Settings Press.

Publication date: May 9, 2016 (reissue).

Genres: alternate history | crime fiction (police procedural) | lgbtq fiction.

Tags: friendship | gay love | bisexual characters | 1880s America | mentally disabled character | ethnic character | torturers, guards, and prisoners | mentors and protegés | spirituality (reincarnation; polytheism).

Word count: 90,000.

Buy link: http://duskpeterson.com/eternaldungeon/#onguard

Blurb:

"'Shall we allow criminals to roam the streets at will because we're afraid to take the chance of harming an innocent prisoner?'"

A bloody knife from a crime scene becomes a mystery to be solved and a foreshadow of trouble to come.

The ties forged between the noble-minded Eternal Dungeon and an abusive foreign dungeon have set off an unpredictable chain of horrific events, in which the love between two of the Eternal Dungeon's Seekers (torturers) will be tested to the straining point. Caught in the middle of the struggle are Barrett Boyd and Seward Sobel, loyal guards who will find themselves questioning their most fundamental beliefs about the royal prison's ideals.

Barrett must help his Seeker determine whether their mild-mannered prisoner is an attempted murderer. His friend Seward has pledged to guard his own Seeker against an assassin . . . or should Seward be protecting the dungeon inhabitants against his Seeker? But when the guards' two Seekers fall into a lovers' quarrel, that is when the real danger begins.

A winner of the 2011 Rainbow Awards (within the "Eternal Dungeon" omnibus), this tale of friendship, romance, and suspense can be read on its own or as the fourth volume in The Eternal Dungeon, a speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

The Eternal Dungeon series is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Young Toughs, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael's House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

Excerpt (with spoilers for the first volume of 'The Eternal Dungeon') )

duskpeterson: (bookshelves)

*

Feel free to pass on this post to other people. Requests for review copies may be sent to the author, Dusk Peterson.

Title: The Lure (Young Toughs).

Series: Young Toughs.

Publisher: Love in Dark Settings Press.

Publication date: May 2, 2016.

Genres: alternate history | maritime fiction | young adult (crossover fiction).

Tags: family | friendship | 1910s America (Chesapeake Bay island) | masters and servants | watermen (fishermen) | criminals | spirituality themes (reincarnation).

Word count: 9,000.

Buy link: http://duskpeterson.com/youngtoughs/#lure Available as a Kindle e-book. Also available in multiformat until Thursday, May 19.

Blurb:

"The panic was stronger, now that they had reached the wharf. It was his parents' mightiest rule: Never allow himself to be seen. If, by terrible chance, he met someone in the woods, he must run away immediately."

His entire life has been a secret. Now he must rip open the secret.

Hannibal S. Mercer has lived all his life in an isolated island home with his loving parents and two servants. Hannibal never receives the opportunity to meet anyone else. The older servant doesn't speak to Hannibal. The younger servant might or might not be an ally in time of trouble.

Now trouble has arrived. When hostile strangers invade Hannibal's world, he must uncover the truth his parents have been hiding from him. And then he must make a choice that will determine the course of his life.

With a setting based upon an island on the Chesapeake Bay in the 1910s, this novelette (miniature novel) can be read on its own or as a story in Young Toughs, an alternate history series about the struggles of youths in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Young Toughs is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Young Toughs, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael's House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.

Excerpt )

June 2017

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