20 Apr
2014

Welcome to the Rainbow Gold Reviews Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt!

Rainbow Gold Reviews
For Rules and Information click on the Rainbow Gold Reviews banner.

The words you’ll be hunting for on my blog today tie into the theme of “Food and Sweet Romance“. So… you’re looking for a name of a food, today :)

That name is hidden somewhere among the excerpts of my books. Once you’ve found the name, you’ll have to go back to the Rainbow Gold Review site (or click the banner above) and submit the location of the name (URL, position) in the comments to that post, and that post only. Commenting here does not count as an entry to the contest.

Good Luck, and Have fun!

There will be winners drawn for EVERY DAY of the Hunt AT THE END OF THE HUNT. You can increase your chances of winning by playing every day.

 

 

19 Apr
2014

Welcome to the Rainbow Gold Reviews Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt!

Rainbow Gold Reviews
For Rules and Information click on the Rainbow Gold Reviews banner.

The words you’ll be hunting for on my blog today tie into the theme of “Military and Law Enforcement“. So… you’re looking for a name of an author, today :)

That name is hidden somewhere among the blurbs of my books. Once you’ve found the name, you’ll have to go back to the Rainbow Gold Review site (or click the banner above) and submit the location of the name (URL, position) in the comments to that post, and that post only. Commenting here does not count as an entry to the contest.

Good Luck, and Have fun!

There will be winners drawn for EVERY DAY of the Hunt AT THE END OF THE HUNT. You can increase your chances of winning by playing every day.

 

 

18 Apr
2014

So… this morning I got up really, really early (04:30) to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for my Radio Interview with Will and Amanda from the Writers Online Network at blogtalkradio. Well… I was awake, at least.

Thanks to Will and Amanda for letting me ramble about when I first started writing, scarification, polyamory, long relationships, and cbt for sixty minutes, which aren’t all that long when you’re having fun. Though… I do hope I didn’t overpower Will and Amanda completely, and still come across as slightly sane.

I do need to formally apologise to Jonathan Harvey—author of the brilliant Beautiful Thing stage play—for not remembering his name correctly during the interview. I can’t believe I messed that up. My apologies, Jonathan.

For those unfamiliar with Beautiful Thing, you can now rent or buy the 20th Anniversary edition of the stage play at Digital Theatre

Enjoy :)

 

New Books Podcasts with WritersOnlineNetwork on BlogTalkRadio

 

You can also download/listen to the interview at blogtalkradio.

 

 

17 Apr
2014

Tonight at 8PM Pacific, 11PM Eastern, 10PM Central US time—aka tomorrow morning 5AM Central European time, 4AM UK time—you can tune in to the Writers Online Network at blogtalkradio and listen to me ramble away on the Write on the Edge Radio Show hosted by Vicktor Alexander.

As a little taster, here’s my answer to one of the questions that won’t make air-time:

 

If you were a paranormal creature what would you be (wolf shifter, lion, elf, fairy, etc.)

Elf or Fairy, I think, wings optional. As long as I get my pointy ears. And red hair. I’ve always been a sucker for red hair. My dad used to be a redhead, you see, and for some strange reason I’ve always been a bit miffed that I didn’t inherit the red hair. I had the fair—burns easily—skin and freckles, though :)

I’d love to live in a tree house like the ones the Foresters in my “Tales of the Forest” series create, a desk firmly planted in front of a window overlooking the village center as I write my stories. Or rather, use my magical abilities to transfer my ideas to paper, hovering my hands above said paper as the ink forms the words I need. Sounds heavenly :)

 

 

17 Apr
2014

Welcome to the Rainbow Gold Reviews Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt!

Rainbow Gold Reviews
For Rules and Information click on the Rainbow Gold Reviews banner.

The words you’ll be hunting for on my blog today tie into the theme of “Authors & Inventors“. So… you’re looking for a name of an author, today :)

That name is hidden somewhere among the reviews of my books. Once you’ve found the name, you’ll have to go back to the Rainbow Gold Review site (or click the banner above) and submit the location of the name (URL, position) in the comments to that post, and that post only. Commenting here does not count as an entry to the contest.

Good Luck, and Have fun!

There will be winners drawn for EVERY DAY of the Hunt AT THE END OF THE HUNT. You can increase your chances of winning by playing every day.

 

 

16 Apr
2014

Welcome to the Rainbow Gold Reviews Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt!

Rainbow Gold Reviews
For Rules and Information click on the Rainbow Gold Reviews banner.

The words you’ll be hunting for on my blog today tie into the theme of “Recognizing Genius“.

They’re hidden somewhere beneath the excerpts of my books. Once you’ve found the words, you’ll have to go back to the Rainbow Gold Review site (or click the banner above) and submit the location of the word (URL, position) in the comments to that post, and that post only. Commenting here does not count as an entry to the contest.

Good Luck, and Have fun!

There will be winners drawn for EVERY DAY of the Hunt AT THE END OF THE HUNT. You can increase your chances of winning by playing every day.

 

 

08 Apr
2014

Autism Awareness
Autism fact:

“A lack of social imagination should not be confused with lack of imagination. Many people with autism are very creative.”

 

Our foster son is an example of that. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s after he came to live with us, but even before the diagnosis it wasn’t hard to see how differently he behaved compared to our boys, even though neither is a run of the mill kid—Eldest has dyslexia and Youngest has Tourette’s. He doesn’t see things the same way we do, and it wasn’t easy for him to get used to our family dynamic. Still isn’t, to be honest. Explaining doesn’t always work, either.

But, back to the topic at hand, he is very creative and musical. He’s a wonderful bass guitar player, and not bad on guitar, either. He’s very intuitive and I love hearing him play, even if he thinks singing mostly ruins songs, which often makes me bite my tongue, since I’m a singer. I love the moments when I feel we have an actual connection, even if it lasts only a moment. And I love seeing him smile.

* * * * *

Comment on this post to win an ebook of choice from my backlist (not including the charity anthology Legal Briefs) in format of choice. Closing date 15th April 23:59 CEST.

* * * * *

There are many other authors taking part in the Autism blog hop… Go see the master post HERE for daily links to competitions and articles.

This Blog Hop was organised by the wonderful RJ Scott

 

24 Mar
2014

Join the fun at the TRR site!:

Win an ecopy of choice from my backlist. All you have to do is scroll down till you find Question #17, and answer it correctly at The Romance Reviews Third Anniversary Party.

Of course, while you’re there, you could do all the puzzles and take a stab at more prices, or even a chance to win a $100 Gift Certificate at the end of the month.

You’ll have to register to enter, but the registration is free (and painless)

10 Mar
2014

Three months into 2014, and this year is definitely going better than last year. Though, yes, my writing speed isn’t quite what I want it to be, I have more energy. I’ve even started some exercising *shock*.

So what have I been up to these last few months?

 

Releases
Sweethearts and SeductionThe Forester II: Lost and Found
The second part of my Forester Trilogy, The Forester II: Lost and Found, came out on December 21st.

 

Sweethearts and Seduction, a Storm Moon Press Valentine’s Day Anthology, came out on February 14th.

 

 

 

Guest Posts & Interviews

  • March 9th – Going Commando in the Forest at the The Novel Approach. About the age old question of boxers or briefs or…
  • February 28th – Read the Rainbow: about my favourite candy, the first book I remember reading, and inspirational music.
  • January 29th – Why I still read reviews at Prism Book Alliance for their re-opening
  • January 14th – Writing taught me to never say never… at Pants Off Reviews for Storm Moon Press’ 4th Anniversary Blog Tour
  • January 3rd – Queer Town Abby: about sightseeing in the Netherlands and why I write GLBTQ fiction.

 

Writing & Editing

  • I wrote two short stories in December, and a third I finished almost two weeks ago. All three stories were accepted *does happy dance*. A Time Traveler’s Valentine by Storm Moon Press–and appears in above mentioned Sweethearts and Seduction anthology. There is Light by Less Than Three Press for their Satisfaction Guaranteed anthology, and The Map to Bogriv also by Less Than Three Press–I signed that contract just this morning–for their charity anthology to support Project Fierce. Click Your Heels Three Times, a short story I wrote last summer for a Bedtime anthology that Anna Martin initiated, was accepted by Wilde City Press.
    So, yeah, It’s only March, and I’ve already signed four contracts this year and managed to fulfill one of my New Year’s resolutions by spreading my wings to some new publishers I’m looking forward to working with :)
  • Right now, I’m (still) working hard to finsh the third part of my Forester Trilogy. It’s slow going, but I like where I’m going. So, it’s all good.
  • After the third Forester, I plan to work on a project I initially wanted to work on last year, but my constant fight against tiredness forced me to shelf it again. And that is my fantasy novel Blind Trust, about Cannt Kiben, a blind restorer whose longstanding fight for acceptance seems to pay off when hardened seeker Adrynn Traight recognises the depth of his abilities and asks him to help solve a series of unexplained deaths. I wrote Blind Trust during NaNoWriMo, so it’s high time I started editing it and making it submission ready.
  • Other projects I want to tackle this year are last year’s YA gay fantasy NaNoProject, a couple of standalone novellas set in my Forester world, like Brem’s story–Kelnaht’s apprentice, when he settles in his new tribe as their Truth Seeker–and the Guide’s story. And if I still have time after finishing all these, then I still have plenty of stories left to work on.

 

Singing & Choir

Due to my health problems, I’ve had to give up choir, but for some reason my singing lessons are still going brilliantly. Of course, my singing coach teaches me a lot more than just singing. If anything, they’re more like body & mind lessons, and they help me a lot in my writing as well. Or rather, they help me let go and shut up my brain for about half an hour a week. And I like that though she’s been coaching me for almost seven years now, I learn something new every time.

 

Coming Soon

  • There is Light (Less Than Three Press – Satisfaction Guaranteed anthology)

    Marek Moss isn’t happy. His status as a drifter—someone whose magic is warped or fluctuating—hampers him in holding on to a boyfriend or finding a job he actually enjoys. Marek has tried quite a few jobs over the years, but none of them seemed to stick. The only reasons he stuck to being a lighter for the past six years is that the lights are pretty, he’s not working for his smothering family, and he gets to ogle Hennen Kovu from time to time.

    Hennen is everything Marek is not. He’s elegant, confident, and damn good at his job, despite being blind. And Marek has a crush on him. A crush that turns into something more when he bumps into Hennen outside of work—trips over his cane—and is invited for a drink and a concert.

    Hennen makes Marek see that he can change how people react to him, and that there might be a job he’d enjoy, after all. And if Marek can gather the courage to take that first step, he might even have a boyfriend to hold on to.

  • The Map to Bogriv (Less Than Three Press – charity anthology)

    Ruari’s family have been killed, except for three of his siblings. Dirty, hungry, and exhausted, he refuses to rest or let his emotions catch up with him until he can lead them to safety and get his people the help they need. According to a map his father gave him before he died, they can find that help in the village of Bogriv. But despite the promise he made to his father, Ruari has no confidence that the people of Bogriv won’t be just like the ones who attacked them: to him one Keysent is just like another.

  • Click Your Heels Three Times (Wilde City Press – Bedtime Stories anthology)

    Theodorin is preparing for a date with his lover, but his general has other plans for him.

 

and… that’s it, for now. I wish you all a healthy and sunny Spring. :D

 

 

26 Dec
2013

Coming Soon This week I’ll be touring around Blog Land with guest posts, giveaways and competitions about The Forester II: Lost and Found

Tour Schedule (links will be updated as the posts go live)

 

 

24 Dec
2013

Happy Holidays to All!!

Our Difference Is Our Strength

Happy Holidays and a rockin’ and creative 2014

Love and hugs,

Blaine


Baby in a Manger by Sally De Ford Music, sung by Blaine D. Arden and two sopranos

For those who can’t get it to play, you can download it HERE
and, yeah… I know… I should really record a new song at some point…

 

21 Dec
2013
It’s The Forester II: Lost and Found Release Day!!

Coming SoonM/M | Fantasy | threesome | polyamory | mystery | solstice |
Second part of “The Forester Trilogy”
also part of the “Tales of the Forest” series
Published by Storm Moon Press
Cover by Nathie Block

“The Guide mentioned puddles, but I envisioned lakes, deep treacherous lakes, and I was drowning.”

One turn has passed, another Solstice is just around the corner, and having an illicit affair with not one but two lovers—smith Ianys and shunned Forester Taruif—is taking its toll on Truth Seeker Kelnaht. If it isn’t sneaking around to find some quality time with his lovers, it’s heavy rainfall hiding traces of a missing stripling, or waiting for the elders to decide whether or not to set Taruif free. And if that’s not enough, Kelnaht fears that in gaining one lover, he might be losing another, as Ianys seems to be pulling away from them, and it looks like someone is, once again, trying to frame Taruif.

 

Go here for an excerpt.

The book is available at Storm Moon Press, and I’ll post links to other vendors as soon as they go live :)

I’ll be doing a blog tour starting the 23rd with an interview at Rainbow book reviews. I’ll post the schedule for that asap :)

Enjoy the book!

 

25 Nov
2013

Welcome to the Queer Romance Blog Hop, where queer writers and readers of queer romance share their thoughts on the genre, as well as a few recommendations for books to read! Everyone participating in this blog hop identifies as queer and also reads and/or writes (or edits, or reviews!) queer romance. For our purposes, queer romance refers to books with:

1. LGBTQ+ main characters
2. In romantic relationships
3. That have a happy ending. (No Brokeback Mountain here, folks!)

 

Hi *waves at everyone* I’m Blaine D. Arden, and for those following this Blog Hop and have never heard of me, I’m a purple haired, forty-something, writer of gay and trans* romance with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies, platform shoes and the colours black, purple and red, who sings her way through life.

I jumped onto this Blog Hop after I stumbled across E.E. Ottoman’s contribution, having completely missed Heidi Bellau’s twitter request. Queer romance is a subject close to my heart, and… this is as good a time as any to come out, right? (Well, to those who didn’t know already, that is).

On to the questions Heidi asked me:

 

1. Let’s start off with the getting-to-know-you stuff: How do you identify, and what does that mean to you? Whatever level of detail you’re comfortable with, of course!

I identify as genderqueer and mostly call myself either an inbetweener or caught in the middle, not fully one, not fully the other. Actually, Kris Piet recently wrote a gripping post about being genderqueer, that could have been written for me. She expresses how I feel very well, though I’m definitely man-sexual (cis and trans*), and, like many gay men, I tend to fall for the straight ones…

Of course, it’s been only two years since I’ve become aware of who I am, and I’m still learning, still evolving. Looking back, there were plenty of signs, I was just never aware enough to see them. All I knew was that I hated my breasts and offered them to my husband many, many times, since he likes them so much, but he prefers them attached to me. It’s become sort of a standing joke between the two of us, though we’re both well aware it never really was a joke.

These days, I try to accept that my body won’t always present the person I am inside, and that shopping for clothes will always be hell as long as companies insist females love bling *shudder* on everything they wear—try finding a simple black bag for a party without any ‘embellishments’ on them—and male clothing just doesn’t fit my body type well enough to be comfortable. I try to pay attention when people call me by my RL name, because Blaine suits who I am so much better that I sometimes forget it’s not how most people are used to calling me. I try not to get too much into lecturing mode when someone tries to convince me that men and women are different *snorts*, and I lose myself in writing worlds where diversity is accepted as is, hoping that some day in the future people wonder what the fuss was all about :)

 

2. What’s your preferred “flavour” of queer romance (e.g. trans*, f/f, m/m, menage with queer characters, etc.) Why?

As a reader I love stories that suck me in from page one, be it contemporary, historical, or fantasy/sf. I love characters that grip me, that jump out to me and win my heart. Their gender or sexuality doesn’t play a role in it, but I do mostly read m/m and trans*, which are also the flavours I write. I feel more connected to these flavours, can identify more easily with them, I guess. I’m willing to try anything at least once, though ménages have never really appealed to me, unless they’re m/m/m, cis-gendered or otherwise, but I do read f/f now and then.

 

3. Do you write/read/review? Do you think being queer affects your participation or platform in romancelandia?

I write and read. Because I did both long before I realised I was genderqueer, I don’t know if being queer myself affects my participation or platform. My awareness hasn’t changed my point of view on what I write, with the exception that I’m now feeling secure enough to write transmen into my stories, and maybe, in future, transwomen, too.

My problem is that I’m somewhat gender blind, and I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. Because I’ve never seen a difference between men loving men or men loving women, for instance, I often overlook the problems gay men, or any lgbtq person, suffer. I sometimes forget there is still a lot of prejudice and aggression against non-heterosexual, non-straight people, because not everyone sees the world the way I do.

So, the way I view the world affects my participation in romancelandia more than my own queerness. As mentioned above, I write worlds and stories containing a ‘diversity as is’ point of view. Gender and sexuality, with some exceptions because not all of my characters see the world the same way, doesn’t matter, or, at least, isn’t pivotal to my stories. I try to paint worlds that transport readers into a ‘better’ and all-inclusive future. Show by example is what they say, right? This is my way of showing, of contributing.

 

4. What drew you to queer romance?

I think I’ve told this story many, many times. When I was 16/17 (mid eighties), AIDS was one of the biggest news items around. And what gripped and sickened me most was the hostility against homosexuality. So, naïve as I was, I wanted to show the world how beautiful love between men could be, and started writing my first piece of gay fiction. I even tried to get it published, sending it out to several publishers in my little country—yes, I still wrote in Dutch, then—and I shudder to think what they must have thought of it.

But the negativity surrounding homosexuality lasted, and I started to doubt myself. I’d always thought love was love, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe my point of view was skewed. And I stopped writing gay characters for a while. Until I saw ‘Beautiful Thing’ on TV one night (late nineties), became involved in a small community online, and realised my point of view wasn’t wrong at all. Since then I’ve written numerous gay characters in lead and supporting roles, and even dipped my toes into the giant pool called fandom. And I never let anyone change my mind about my point of view again.

 

5. What do you love about queer romance in general, and/or your specific subgenre?

Weird as it may sound. I LOVE the diversity in the genre. We are but a niche genre, and yet, sometimes I fell we represent everything mainstream has to offer within this niche. Yes, there is a lack of LBTQ fiction and racial diversity, but aside from that, there is something for everyone. From contemporary to SF/F, from witches to werewolves, from geeks to cowboys, from no sex to full on erotica, from sweet romance to kinky pleasures, from historical to mysteries, from thrilling BDSM to horrifying thrillers, etc.. And some of the writing is absolutely top notch.

 

6. What’s your pet peeve?

The constant whining whether women can or should be able (allowed even) to write gay men. *rolls eyes* Or the assumption that m/m is written for women. These arguments are tiring beyond belief. Every time I see someone bring up these subjects, I just want to tell them to grow up.

 

7. What growth would you like to see in the genre, going forward? Any ideas on how to accomplish that?

I’d love to see more LBTQ fiction among the vast see of m/m, and I’d love to see more racial diversity. I’ve always been hesitant to call some of my stories multi-cultured, because they are fantasy, and my idea of different races may not reflect expectations. But, regardless, humans exists in all shapes and sizes, and it’s lovely to read about variety. For this, writers just need to take the plunge and write outside the box more.

It’s never easy to dwell outside our comfort zones, and I love my comfort zone, but even if you’re not comfortable as a writer to write other-gendered main characters, there’s always the friendly trans* Jamaican neighbour, with or without dreadlocks or the gorgeous African ex (or African-American – male/female, trans* or cis-gendered). And, when writing fantasy, there’s nothing easier than thinking up races that show colour and sexual fluidity. Start small, but think big :)

I’d also love to see more inclusivity within our community. I think our genre is precious and could become so much more, but not if authors/reviewers/readers are fighting among themselves trying to get ahead. The acronyms LGBTQ/QUILTBAG—whichever you prefer—should be fighting FOR and not AGAINST each other. No one individual group has more rights than another.

Conventions like the UK Meet, etc., are already working towards inclusivity. Several f/f and trans* authors mixed with us die hard m/m writers at the UK Meet these past couple of years. The atmosphere during the convention has always been very accepting and friendly. So, why not take that atmosphere online and create the same sort of safe environment there? There are already some groups who have managed to create such an environment, but we really need to think bigger and work with each other.

 

8. Do you seek out other queer authors when you read?

As a reader I don’t much care about the author’s gender/sexuality. If a book grabs my attention, I’ll read it, no matter who/what the author is. That said, I’m always open to checking out an author’s books when I find out they’re queer, just like I’m open to checking out books by an author I’ve met personally. For both cases I’ll add the disclaimer that I’ll read anything, as long as it’s within my taste. (aka: avoids my squicks)

 

9. How do you feel, in general, about straight peoples’ participation in reading, writing, and reviewing queer romance?

Well… until about two years ago, I firmly believed I was one of them. So, to have a problem with it would be nothing but hypocritical. Though my awareness of who I am has changed, my reasons for writing queer romance haven’t. They’ll always be close to my heart.

Well written queer characters deserve to be rejoiced and enjoyed by anyone who cares. The gender/sexuality of the author/reviewer/reader shouldn’t matter.

 

10. Rec us 3 titles in your chosen subgenre and tell us why you love them.

Only three books? *sigh* I’ve always been bad at playing favourites, and this doesn’t make it any easier. There are so many great books out there, and I treasure them all, but… I managed to find three books I think are great and cover a wide range of flavours/genres.

The Complete Brandstetter by Joseph Hansen – This twelve books in one series about street-smart insurance investigator Dave Brandstetter kept me on the edge of my seat. Dave is a complex, openly gay hero who grows and changes over the twelve novels that span approximately twenty years. I loved the wonderfully written secondary and walk-on characters, the action, the mystery, and the way they tackled both gay- and racial issues. A definite re-read for me (though, the print of this twelve in one book is small, and I’ll need magnifiers to read it next time lol). This book is hard to come by, but I’ve seen the books pop-up in e-format here and there.

Blacker Than Black by Rhi Etzweiler Another edge of the seat experience for me. This book about chi-stealing nightwalkers and energy-vampires was interesting and exciting complex and dark story. I also enjoyed how it encompasses gender fluidity. Another re-read for me.

The Irregulars by Josh Lanyon, Nicole Kimberling, Astrid Amara and Ginn Hale – this is a great showcase of the fantasy genre by four brilliant authors. This book contains four separate yet interlinked stories about human and not-quite human agents policing relations between the earthly realm and those beyond this world. I loved the characters and the different approaches from each authors. The shared world really worked for me, I was dragged into this world with the first sentence of the first story and didn’t come out of it until the very last page. And, again, a definite re-read.

 

Well, that’s it for me. Thanks for reading and for following the tour! Be sure to use the links below to check out more great posts from our participants! Also, if you leave a comment on any of the hop entries, you’ll be entered in a chance to win a prize book of print and ebooks from the participating authors! Yay, books! (my contribution is an e-copy of the SMP Charity anthology Legal Briefs which includes my trans* short In His Defense)

 

09 Sep
2013

Thanks to all who visited my little Oren’s Right Release Tour :) I’m glad so many of you enjoyed reading my posts.

And now… *drumroll* the winner of the Giveaway (with a little help from random.org):

Shayla Mist

Congratulations, Shayla. I’ll be emailing you shortly.

For anyone interested in reading the blogs, but missed the tour, they’re still up, and I stil welcome reactions. You can find the posts here:

 

03 Sep
2013
It’s Oren’s Right Release Day!!

The ForesterEvery society, every group, whether friends or family, has their own traditions. Some are rooted in religions and beliefs that are centuries old, and celebrated by many. Some are new, very personal and might only be celebrated by single person. It’s blowing out a birthday candle and celebrating harvest season. It’s throwing rice at a wedding and date night for young parents.

My Tales of the Forest series also knows a variety of traditions.

In The Forester I describe the Solstice Circle. It takes place during Solstice–either winter or summer—and consists of a bonfire surrounded by benches. Here unwed elves propose to the loves of their lives. Although the Guide tells Kelnaht: “Solstice is a time, not a place.” And in the Oren’s Right bonus Solstice vignette I mention a meal on the night of the Solstice to celebrate their vows and honour those who attend the Circle.

In Oren’s Right I describe a traditional elven funeral scene. Elves burn their dead on a pyre, surrounded by those who came to say goodbye. Elves believe the body is merely a vessel, and a deceased one’s essence is released by the Guide after their death. They are set free from their body, to rise up into the sky and watch over the living. At both the release of the essence as well as the funeral pyre, the Guide sings the prayer of Death.

Oren's RightA third tradition I’ve only touched on peripherally in either story, and that’s the Forester’s mark. Veld has a pattern of Chantus leaves cut into the inside of his left thigh. The Chantus tree was the oldest and biggest tree in the village where Veld was born. Tending a tree as old as that Chantus was an honour amongst Foresters, and became the mark of their profession. Taruif has trail of vine leaves on the left side of his body, from neck down to ankle, across both back and chest.
Cutting the mark of one’s profession into one’s skin when one is apprenticed is a deep rooted tradition in Veld’s tribe. It’s not a tradition in Taruif’s tribe, but Taruif’s mentor was apprenticed in a different tribe, and they did the same as Veld’s tribe had done, only they used ink. Taruif never told me where his mentor marked his body, but I do know that it’s an acorn tattoo. He also refuses to tell me why he chose such a large sign of his profession, but I have a feeling his deceased vowed Fuzan had something to do with it. Brem chose something less conspicuous, but since his story is in the making, I’ll leave you all to discover it when his lover does.

But aside from those societal traditions, Oren and Haram—Oren’s deceased vowed—had a pretty unique personal tradition as well. On every special occasion—and only Oren and Haram know what they considered special occasions—Haram would brand or cut a new design into Oren’s body. It was their way to show they belonged, to cement their bond. And it made Oren feel owned, treasured, and secure. It’s a tradition that Veld and Oren continue, in memory of Haram, and to celebrate their own bond.

 

Blurb Oren’s Right
Veld, tree elf and Forester, fell in love with mute baker Oren, also a tree elf, when he first set eyes on him two turns ago, but Healer Haram, Oren’s vowed, made it clear that he had no intention of sharing Oren with Veld. Now, with Oren in mourning after Haram is killed, Veld is torn between Haram’s unwillingness to share and his desire to make Oren his. But when Haram’s death turns out not to be quite the accident it seemed to be, Veld is drawn into the investigation. At the same time, others appear to claim Oren’s independence, and Veld is forced to face his insecurities or risk losing Oren…

 
Excerpt:

When the cart stopped, I kept my gaze on my hand resting on the edge of it until a sob tore my view to Oren. Oren gathered Haram up in his arms, and my heart broke when he touched his lips to Haram’s forehead, sobbing freely. I caught Ajuna looking at me, a clear question in her eyes, and I swallowed. Oren was my friend as much as Haram had been, and here I stood, awash with feelings I shouldn’t have, while
he suffered.

I nodded at Ajuna and stepped around the cart to help Oren carry his burden. Oren barely acknowledged me, but I felt his grip on Haram loosen as I helped him place Haram on the pyre. The care, the love, with which Oren righted Haram’s attire, pulled and shifted the bearskin covering him until it lay just right, brought a smile to my face. I let Oren work at his own pace and kept others with less patience away. This was Oren’s right, and I was going to make certain he got all the time he needed.

The Guide moved next to me. We stared at each other for a moment before he nodded at me and moved to Oren’s other side, shielding him from nosy well-doers. Ajuna stood behind her brother, her hand, once again, in the small of his back in support. I pushed down the urge to swat it away. He wasn’t mine, I reminded myself. If only my body would listen for once. It had made its mind up the moment I’d spotted Oren in his bakery over two turns ago.

When Oren finally stepped back, the Guide lit a torch and looked at Oren expectantly. Oren took a folded piece of paper from inside his sleeve and handed it to me. I started to shake my head, but Oren’s pleading eyes stopped me, and I could do nothing but nod. Ajuna would have been a far better choice, but he chose me to be his voice. Who was I to disrespect his decision?

I unfolded the paper and read Oren’s meticulous scrawl. A man of few words—no one would be surprised at that—but his writing was full of heart, full of love and respect for the man he’d lived with for over a decade.

“You were my life,” I read the first line aloud, “my love, my keeper. You saw me for who I was, and helped me be who I wanted to be. I am proud to wear your marks, to show my bond to you, my vowed.” I swallowed, “And one day, my handsome Haram, with Ma’terra’s blessing, we will be together again.”

Tears streaked Oren’s cheeks, and his hands trembled as he took the torch from the Guide and lit the pyre. He stood there, frozen, watching the pyre light up, with one hand stretched towards it. My heart burned for him.

The Guide started up the prayer of Death again, his voice almost too loud in the silence. Oren staggered back. I reached out to steady him, nodding to Ajuna to let her know I had him. She stepped back, but Oren didn’t even seem to notice the lack of her touch. He just put his head on my shoulder and cried.

GIVEAWAY:

A comment on any of these three posts in my Oren’s Right mini tour counts as an entry to my giveaway. If you comment on all three posts, it means you have three chances to win. The giveaway closes on Sunday the 8th at 23:59 CET, and I’ll randomly pick and announce the winner of an e-copy of Oren’s Right on Monday the 9th.

Oren’s Right mini tour schedule: (I’ll post the direct links as soon as the post go live)

 


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