More links and a new upload!


Busy weekend and Monday afternoon with all the Six Sentence Sunday snippets to read and those pro-blogs to check. Here’s the list of posts worth checking!

Amanda Hocking in her own words and as seen by Jim C.Hines.

Books&Such agents give advice on self-publishing – and it’s not that bad! 😉

Dean Wesley Smith is starting a new series to teach us indie writers too think like a publisher. I will follow it eagerly (even if some things won’t apply to me as I’m not American, meh! :-()! 😀

Finally Self-Published Author’s Lounge on writers personalities. I didn’t watch the videos, but I know I’m Miss Melancholy (I even wrote a story with that title… I even had a young friend doing the shojo manga version more than ten years ago…).

Last suggestion came from David Farland – he mentioned Dramatica. So for all you Plotters out there, check this Writer’s Companion (the link goes to where you can download the comic book of how it works). If you’re a Pantser like me, you won’t need it! 😉

Now let me announce the new upload on Smashwords, a short story that is a prequel to the upcoming Books of the Immortals – AIR (which I just got back from my editor, hopefully I will be able to put it out there at the beginning of April – next week I’m meeting with the artist for the cover). BUT it’s also my attempt at erotica, so don’t read if it offends it! 😉 In this story sex is only for lust, and love has nothing to do with it… and it’s a sad story… Maybe I’ll put six sentences up sometime. It’s a short story, so it’s free. Download your copy of Tarun, if you don’t mind the sex.

p.s. This post was written yesterday afternoon. Two hours before going live, I checked my Smashwords – Tarun is the most downloaded of my short stories! Over 100 download in less than 24 hours! It took a week for Starblazer to reach that number (and Jessamine is barely halfway there)! I guess erotica has a lot of followers after all… but I’m afraid it’s NOT my main genre! 😦

Story Carnival


This is taken from Shafali the Caricaturist’s blog. In case you didn’t know, every month she posts a caricature, inviting authors to write the story of the drawing… So here is this month’s caricature (and the rules):

After putting my thinking cap on, I decided to rewrite a scene from a novel-turned-screenplay (which means I took both from the original novel in Italian and from the screenplay in English to write this short bit of prose). Hope it can stands on its own. I haven’t rewritten the whole thing yet, because it’s sci-fi and I’m still mulling about this future. It is our planet, though… enjoy.

Robin & Beth

extract from Soul Stealers by Barbara G.Tarn

 

The terrace restaurant was almost all for them. Robin and Beth looked down from various angles, admiring the 22nd century landscape: New York was now only the isle of Manhattan, all around it the buildings had been destroyed and nature had taken back the land. The bridges were still there, taking few futuristic flying cars into the wild.

The sun set and robots switched on candles on the restaurant tables.

“I’m hungry, how about you?” Beth asked.

“Yes, let’s go,” Robin smiled.

He offered her his arm like a perfect gentleman.

“Where did you learn such old fashioned good manners?” she inquired, pleasantly surprised.

“I saw a movie,” he grinned. “It’s called A love-story from the past, very useful on 20th century manners.”

She took his arm, amused. The movie that had made them meet. If only he hadn’t forced her to retire it. She was still fond of it… especially now that he had looked her up after their not so great last meeting.

“Really? It’s not just another Cinderella story?” she asked.

“Maybe, but I like it.”

“But we’re not in the 20th century anymore.”

“We are where we want to be. We only have to ask and we’ll have 20th century waiters attending us. We can have anything we want thanks to computers, remember?”

They stopped by a table for two and sat down.

“So, you’re looking for a friendship now?” Her smile slowly vanished and she felt nervous again.

“Yeah. What about you, what are you looking for?” He was serious too now.

She shrugged.

“Friendship, I guess,” she said. “My mistake, I should have stuck to my holograms.”

“Why? You don’t like real people?”

“Not really. I don’t like being touched.”

“Can’t blame you…”

***

In the control room Shadya sat at the computer, with Bolton standing behind her, curious.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Instructing the kitchen,” was the cold reply. “They’ll never make it without a little help.”

“Are you blaming me for damaging one subject?”

“They’re both damaged. An aphrodisiac in their meal will take care of it.”

***

Dinner over, Beth and Robin left the table and walked towards the balcony again. They looked at the city lights and the ocean.

“My house is over there,” she said, pointing down.

“Mine too at the moment,” he said.

She smiled. They were very close.

She shivered, he noticed.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

“No, I’m fine.”

He held her closer and kissed her.

Breathless, Beth hugged him, sinking her fingers in his hair. She thought she hated kisses, and here she was, hungry and eager and happy to feel his body against hers. It wasn’t like her virtual lover, he was real, warm, and so different from what she had imagined…

She pulled back, keeping him at arm’s length to catch her breath.

“Are you all right?” he asked, concerned.

“Yeah, give me a minute,” she panted.

“I’m sorry, I got carried away. I forgot I have to be careful.”

“You… remember what I said?” she worried.

He smiled.

“Every word. There’s nothing wrong with it,” he said.

“My friends advised me not to tell you.”

“When you told me, there was nothing between us and no reason to think there ever could be. And it doesn’t change anything now, I should calm down myself. I’m excited because I haven’t felt like this in years, but I don’t want to spoil it all by hurrying.”

Of course, he had never looked for a substitute for Pauline, therefore he had had no sex for five years.

He averted his eyes and pulled back a little more.

“I think we had enough emotions for tonight,” he added. “Maybe we should go home before we overdose…”

No!, someone screamed inside her. She grabbed his face and started kissing him all over, overwhelmed by her own desire. On that roof, under the stars, she discovered reality was much better than imagination.

Doreen 3


Part one and part two

Doreen

by Barbara G.Tarn

“Help me, mother, tell me if I have a way to snatch my love from another woman,” Doreen pleaded, kneeling humbly in front of her parent.

Nadia smiled, softened. She found funny her daughter’s passionate love. She even sort of envied Doreen for those feelings, even if she could see Doreen’s sorrow. She knew her daughter was truly madly deeply in love, but she didn’t know his name yet.

“I’m pregnant, mother,” Doreen continued quickly. “I won’t have to go to the Temple after all. Is there a law that allows me to claim the man who performed the miracle?”

“In theory yes, depends on whom he belongs to,” Nadia answered, still puzzled by the news that her daughter was actually fertile. Both of them had lost hope on that topic a long time ago.

“I guess I’m lost, then,” Doreen sighed.

“Why, who is she?” Nadia asked. She was quite powerful herself, and she’d do anything for her daughter.

“The queen,” Doreen said gloomily.

“Damn.” Nadia’s joy faded. “I had heard that Azzurro had a lover, but I couldn’t imagine it was you! You better forget him, darling, because even if he survives Cynthia’s wrath, she will never let you go near him ever again. My Goddess, she could kill you, except you’re pregnant, so she can’t do it now, but she might do it after you deliver!”

“Could I appeal to the people?” Doreen asked, desperate.

“Don’t,” Nadia answered, serious. “She’d kill you in spite of your pregnancy. She doesn’t want anybody to know that not only her Favorite doesn’t love her, but he even cheated on her. She’d have you assassinated.”

“What about him?” Doreen complained. “How can I save him?”

“You can’t,” Nadia said. “Your rival is too powerful. You can only forget him, dear.”

“Forget him…” she whispered. “I can still see his sapphire eyes… and the darkened face of the queen finding me in the pavilion, ordering me to disappear…”

“Thank the Goddess she didn’t kill you on the spot.”

“I want to scream…” it sounded more like a moan, and Nadia took her daughter in her arms, trying to comfort her.

“I’m sorry, darling. You know there’s no way out. Azzurro is the Queen’s Favorite, and by pure pride Cynthia would never let him go.”

Doreen started sobbing softly in her mother’s arms.

***

“He isn’t eating, my lady,” the healer said.

Cynthia gloomily stared at Azzurro, lying on the bed, his eyes lost somewhere. He wasn’t eating, he wasn’t talking. He was letting himself die.

“Can we force some food into him?” she asked, worried.

“Yes, but it won’t really help if he doesn’t want to live,” the healer answered.

“Leave us.”

The healer bowed and left. Cynthia lay down near her Favorite and pulled him against her.

“Azzurro, why are you so stubborn?” she chided. “I cannot let you go! I chose you for life, I can’t give you to another woman! The Goddess would punish me!”

He gulped down some tears and didn’t answer, nor looked at her.

“Please, Azzurro, eat,” she whispered tenderly in his ear. “I promise I won’t hurt you anymore.”

“Then let me go,” his voice was hoarse.

“I can’t! I’m the Queen! You will not refuse me!”

His blue eyes looked at her. He sighed and closed them, as if he wanted to sleep.

Cynthia held him tighter, whispering sweet nothings in his ears. She’ll force him to live. She didn’t want to lose him.

***

Doreen couldn’t console herself. She was finally pregnant, but wasn’t allowed anymore to see the marvelous man who had performed the miracle. All those wasted years with useless lovers, and now the only man worth fighting for belonged to the queen herself.

She sulked all day, remembering the few precious moments with him, his tenderness, his smile and his cerulean eyes. She wondered how he was doing. Her mother told her he had been punished, but was recovering.

Nobody came to visit her. Not even the novices with whom she had shared her destiny for a few months. The Temple of the Goddess had given up on her, but so did her former Aristocrat friends, including Princess Ashlee.

Nadia asked her if she wanted to celebrate her pregnancy, and whom she’d like to invite, but she didn’t really feel like seeing people. She felt isolated, and it was fine with her – more time to think about Azzurro, obsessing about their destiny and if they could ever be together again.

She stayed in, never went to the palace for a few days. Until her mother gave her the news: Azzurro was dead. Devastated by sorrow, Doreen rushed to the temple for the funeral, and only when she saw his body composed in the stillness of death did she realize she had lost him forever.

She almost fainted, but her mother was ready to pick her up.

“Hold it, Doreen,” she whispered in her ear. “You don’t want to lose his gift, do you?”

Doreen straightened herself, gulping down her pain. No, she wouldn’t lose the much wanted baby, especially now that the man who had sired it was gone.

She sniffed, staring at him, and Nadia put one arm around her shoulder, trying to comfort her. The High Priestess blessed the corpse, and the coffin was closed. Doreen’s sniffs became silent sobs. Nadia held her tight, patting her back like when she was a child.

“Hush, baby, everything will be all right,” she said gently.

Slowly, Doreen calmed down. She wiped away the tears and looked at the coffin again. The ceremony was over.

Doreen’s eyes met Cynthia’s.

The queen went to the young girl and looked her in the eyes.

“I hope you’re happy now,” she said flatly. “I didn’t kill him, Doreen, he died for you. He knew he couldn’t have you and preferred to die that staying with me.”

She turned her back on mother and daughter, and left without turning back. Princess Ashlee exchanged a sorrowful glance with Doreen and followed her mother.

“Goddess be praised, I was afraid she’d take it out on you,” Nadia said, hugging her still shocked daughter.

Doreen’s sorrow was speechless. But at least before dying he had given her the gift of life. He had proved she was fertile. She could live on and have children. She’d never forget him.

THE END

Doreen 2


part one here

Doreen

by Barbara G.Tarn

They started seeing each other in quiet, but public places where they could talk. And they slowly and inevitably fell into each other’s arms when their lips met.

“I love you,” Azzurro declared fervently.

Doreen’s smile faded and she pulled back.

“You’re the Queen’s Favorite,” she said. “And I’ll become a Priestess in a few months.”

“I don’t love the queen, and she knows it! Don’t lock yourself in a temple, stay here with me…”

“I’m barren, and Queen Cynthia will never set you free.”

“Then I beg you to see me anyway. We’ll keep it secret, nobody will know.”

“I don’t want another woman’s man.”

“Doreen, I’m her slave, it’s not my fault.”

“I don’t have enough money to buy you, all right? Don’t insist, Azzurro, and if you want to keep talking about this, I’d rather not see you again!”

Wounded, but aware of the fact that she was probably right, Azzurro relented. That night, seeing him serious and thoughtful during dinner, Cynthia asked him what was up. He hesitated, then pointed her sky-blue eyes on her.

“Set me free, Cynthia,” he said.

She was puzzled for a moment, but soon exploded.

“Are you out of your mind? I give you the highest honor bestowed on men in this country and you refuse it? Not only that, you don’t even bother to pretend to like it, neither now, nor never!”

“I’ve always been honest with you,” he said. “I’ve done my best to adapt to what you were giving me, but I’m tired now. It has been three very long years for me, and I wish I could be free to reinvent my life…”

“Forget it!” she snapped. “You’re a man! You’re my slave! You can’t decide what to do with your life, you don’t have the power to reinvent it, you hear me?”

“I hear you fine,” he said quietly. He rose.

“Where are you going?” she hissed.

“I’m leaving,” he shrugged.

He left the room with quiet indifference, but as soon as he was out of her sight, he rushed to the stables. He took a horse and went back to the farm where he had been raised, hoping to ease his sorrow with hard manual work.

His childhood friends couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw him next morning. All of them still dreamed of entering the Queen’s Apartment, if not becoming her Favorite. And he, Azzurro, refused the honor bestowed on him, showing despise towards all the other slaves like him, still laboring in the fields instead of having a life of luxury in a palace!

Azzurro ignored their comments and picked up his hay-fork to go back to work. It didn’t take long before one of the others reported his whereabouts to the queen, and soon two female soldiers of the Royal Guard arrived at the farm, followed by Cynthia herself.

The queen stared at Azzurro from the saddle of her white horse.

“Leave me alone,” he said. “I only want to stay here and do my job, your palace is not for me.”

“Take him,” she ordered, pretending not to hear him.

The female soldiers took his hay-fork and grabbed him, bringing him back to the palace and his golden cage.

***

There was a party at the palace and Azzurro stood in a corner, serious as usual. The Aristocrats, who knew he had tried to break up with the queen, looked at him quite often and giggled among themselves, with whispered comments because, of course, officially nobody knew the queen had been rejected.

Still, that quiet young man didn’t seem haughty enough to refuse the love of the Amazon Queen. But he did, and Cynthia hadn’t completely forgiven him yet.

Sadly raising his eyes, Azzurro thought he was dreaming. Among the crowd Doreen had appeared and stared at him from the distance. Without thinking, he moved towards her and dragged her to the garden. Like in a dream, he caressed her face and was about to kiss her, but she stopped him.

“No,” she whispered. “You’re the Queen’s Favorite.”

“I will be forever her slave, she’ll never let me go,” he said.

“I heard you tried to break the relationship.”

“It’s true, I wanted to be free to love you.”

“Stop it.” She lowered her eyes and blushed. “If she finds us, she’ll kill us both.”

“It’s worth dying if I can show you my love.”

“I… don’t think I want to die.”

“We won’t die,” he promised, pulling her closer.

This time she couldn’t resist his kiss.

“The queen is so lucky,” she whispered, curled up against him.

“The queen can use my body, but she’ll never have my love, nor my tenderness,” he said.

“This is madness, Azzurro,” she said.

“I’d fight the whole world to be with you.”

“I don’t want you to die now.”

“Then I’ll pretend,” he promised. “But will you see me?”

“Yes,” she surrendered, her voice shaky.

***

They met in an isolated garden pavilion and the happiness for those brief encounters made Azzurro’s captivity less hard. Doreen was everything he had ever dreamed of, and he lost himself in his love and passion for her.

Cynthia, always hyper-sensitive to any changes in her rebel young lover, had noticed he was different. She ended up finding out the secret encounters of the lovers in the garden pavilion. At first, she just spied them in silence, envying the young girl who had succeeded with her youth where the queen herself had failed. Then she got fed up of watching their love.

One day Azzurro found Cynthia waiting for him instead of Doreen. His smile faded and color flushed out of his face. Cynthia smirked and signaled him to join her. He obeyed like a puppet, and stiffly sat by her side.

As she couldn’t arouse him, the queen lost her temper. Her bodyguards dragged Azzurro to the dungeon, where Cynthia gave vent to her anger and jealousy, almost killing him with her whip and other tortures.

But even half dead, Azzurro didn’t deny his true love, and lost consciousness after the slap of the furious queen.

Story Wednesday…


… and Blog Birthday! Yes, one year ago I started blogging – I wanted to start October 1, but ended up opening the account two days in advance. Which means I’m going to celebrate with a 3-days-long story that I will post here, because, hey, I’m still here, I’m still blogging, daily, so thank you to all of you.

I’ve met lots of great people in the blogosphere, and I’m not really checking the stats that much anymore. I still have something to say, and I’m still blogging… in English. September 30 will also be the day I close my Italian blog. I’ve been neglecting it, my friends (who don’t speak English and BEGGED me to write in Italian) are neglecting it, so I’m closing it. I don’t have anything to say on that blog anyway. But you English speakers stick with me, you’ve witnessed my growth and will be able to follow me in my “new” course of writer of historical fiction (with the fantasy on the side, probably self-published, but as Dean Wesley Smith says, balance between trad-pub and self/e-pub is the best way of living your writing life).

Hop off to Serial Central to read the next installment of Jessamine, then come back here to meet another Amazon… just because it had the right length. The next story I’ll put on Serial Central won’t have the Amazons in it. 😉 This is actually a prequel to Water, where Doreen’s youngest daughter is one of the protagonists. But this happens years before her birth, so it can be read independently.

Doreen

by Barbara G.Tarn

“Here are the slaves for the initiation,” the servant announced, introducing ten young men at the presence of the Queen of the Amazons. Most had been raised at the palace, but a couple were Uncatchables, just captured and bought for the pleasure of the queen.

Cynthia had been queen for many years. She wasn’t young anymore, but still had tick black hair and a pleasant body. She reviewed the slaves and was captured by the sky-blue eyes of a young man who had hidden in the slaves house for way too long.

“How old are you, Azzurro?” she asked him.

“Twenty-two,” he admitted. He wasn’t really beautiful, which was probably why he hadn’t been brought to the queen before, but had those blue sapphires in his eye sockets…

Queen Cynthia dismissed the other nine and guided the chosen one towards a pile of cushions and pillows. She smiled reassuringly at him, but he averted his eyes.

“Are you afraid?” she asked, softened by his shyness.

“No,” he answered. “But to be honest, I’d have preferred to stay in oblivion and choose my own a partner, if any.”

She studied him in silence, surprised by his words.

“I appreciate your honesty,” she said eventually. “But if you behave, I can make a prince out of you.”

“I’m trying to appreciate your offer, my lady, but it’s not easy,” he said. “I’m your slave, and I don’t think my opinion counts anyway. I’ll keep it for myself from now on.”

“Great,” she said, glad he didn’t point out she could have been his mother. She was the Queen of the Amazons after all, and her pride was already wounded by his rejection. Had she been younger and rasher, she’d probably have punished him for his words. But now she only wanted to lose herself in those cerulean eyes. “Come here.”

He obeyed with an air of resignation.

***

It’s been a year since I was chosen, Azzurro thought, curling up on one side of the bed. The queen seemed to appreciate him a lot, she visited him almost every day, but he wasn’t satisfied. Maybe he was ungrateful, he knew he couldn’t aspire to anything better, there was no higher position for a man than being the Queen’s Favorite, but he wasn’t happy. I so much wanted a younger lover…

He imagined her one more time in the first light of dawn, like he had done so often for months, or even years. His ideal woman didn’t have a specific face yet, nor particular physical characteristics, except she was young, beautiful and sweet.

Servants woke him up as soon as the sun left the line of the horizon. Azzurro got out of bed with a sigh, let them wash him, perfume him and dress him for the celebration that would officially establish his status of Queen’s Favorite – something he could have enjoyed more if he had been able to choose. Maybe the queen’s daughter, Ashlee, would have been a better choice, for her age, if not for her appearance.

Dressed in white, his black curls neatly combed and his face clean shaven, he was led to the ceremony room. Cynthia had seen him smile very sparsely during the past year, and that day wasn’t different. The night was similar to many others, except their relationship was now official and couldn’t be broken, as it had been blessed by the Goddess.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, a little irritated by his obvious melancholy.

“Nothing,” he said, serious. “I was thinking that I’m a prisoner, a luxury slave, but still a recluse. I was thinking I’d like to fly away.”

“You want to leave me?” she frowned.

“I’m your slave.”

“You’re my Favorite now.”

“Does this give me freedom? Why talk about it, my queen, we have opposite views on this topic and none of us will give up his or her opinion.”

“I wish I could see you smile from time to time,” she said, frustrated. “I seem to be doing whatever I can to make you happy.”

“Of course you do, it’s my fault, I can’t appreciate it.”

He smiled at her and kissed her, and for that day peace was made.

***

For two more years they kept on the relationship, with Cynthia trying to break Azzurro’s defenses, but he didn’t allow her to seduce him.

One night during an official ceremony, Azzurro eyed a lovely brunette, very elegant and sort of overwhelmed by the palace’s wealth. Dazzled, he went to talk to her with the assurance of the host.

“My name is Doreen,” she said staring at him with curiosity. “I was anxious to meet you, Azzurro, I heard so much about you… I couldn’t come earlier to the palace, but I’m pleased to meet you now.”

“The honor is mine, my lady,” he smiled. “Am I like you expected me to be?”

“Not really,” she giggled. “I had heard your greatest beauty was your eyes, but wasn’t told you have two sapphires on your face.”

He felt happy for the compliment for the first time in his life. They spent the night talking of minutiae, but she never mentioned her mother’s name, or where she lived. She new Princess Ashlee personally, because they were about the same age, but that was it. Until he asked her.

“What do you care of where I live?” she blushed.

“I want to see you again,” he said, serious. “I have two days a week off duty and I’d love to visit you.”

Her smile faded too and she lowered her eyes.

“This won’t be possible,” she whispered.

“Why?” he asked, consternated.

“Because I shall enter the Temple soon,” she said, a little embarrassed. “I’m nineteen and never had a baby. I shall enter the Goddess service as soon as I turn twenty.”

“When? I could visit you before you leave! Who is your mother? I know I’m only a man, albeit the Queen’s Favorite, but I sure hope you won’t be so cruel to tell me you don’t want to see me ever again.”

“I should,” she whispered, her eyes low.

“Don’t,” he purred. “Tell me where I can find you.”

She did, and ran away, overwhelmed by confusion. He followed her with his eyes, a dreamy smile on his face.

Cynthia hugged him from behind and brought him back to reality. But he couldn’t forget, and that night he imagined Doreen in his arms instead of Cynthia, giving the Queen what she had been waiting for all those years.

“I waited for so long,” Cynthia sighed with happiness, caressing him. “What changed, Azzurro?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I feel different.”

He didn’t say a word about the young Aristocrat who would soon become a Priestess – he knew how jealous Cynthia could be. He closed his eyes, dreaming of his ideal woman who finally had a face, a smile, a voice, a body…

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