#writephoto: Wether in winter

This Winter Solstice story is one I included in my blog post for the Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. You can read the whole post here, and if you leave a comment you have a chance of winning a digital copy of ‘Revelation’.

Sue’s Thursday photo prompt is the perfect illustration, so what better excuse could there be for posting the story twice?

Yes, I know, it’s an awful pun, ‘wether’ and ‘sheepish’ but I decided to leave it in.

thaw

Long ago, in the land of the Northmen, as the longest night of the year was beginning, Gudrun was sent to bring in the last of the wethers. He was the biggest, wildest of the curly-horned sheep and a right royal pain in the arse. Gudrun wrapped her thick cloak tight about her and trudged through the snow up to the oak copse where she suspected he would be, gorging himself on the last of the acorns. She called and whistled, more to keep the wild beasts away than with much hope that the daft sheep would come.

The copse was empty. The wind blew flurries of snowflakes between the tree trunks and Gudrun cursed. Beyond the oaks was empty heathland until the fjord dropped away abruptly, and the sea crashed dark and wicked below. It would be just like the gormless creature to have fallen over the edge and be stuck on a ledge. Sure enough, after a quick search, the setting sun through the clouds along the horizon showed her the wether’s neat prints. Snow clouds hid the sun, and the wind whined, and in its voice, she heard another sound—someone calling faintly.

She ran across the heath that sloped down to the sea, to where the last rowan tree clung to the rocky soil before the slope became bare rock that tumbled into the waves.

“Who’s there?” she called into the wind, fearful that on this long night, the Draugr would be abroad.

“Gudrun? Tis Sigurd Two-Wolves. Take care, the rocks are as treacherous as sin!”

Gudrun picked her way to the broken edge and peered down a narrow goat track. In the middle of a group of scrubby trees, the yellow-eyed wether, straddling a pair of legs, was glaring up at her. With the last of the light to guide her, Gudrun clambered down to the outcrop that had stopped Sigurd’s fall. He raised himself feebly on his forearms, and she caught her breath. A ray of sun picked out the red of his hair and turned it to flame. His eyes glittered, with fever or with something else, she couldn’t say. Though they had been children together, she had never before realised how beautiful he was, and the expression in his eyes, she had never seen in a man’s eyes before. He needed her. Not in the way men usually need women, but he needed her because he was weak and helpless. She knelt down by his side. Her hands twisted a fold of her cloak, itching to touch him, to find out where the pain was.

“It was the wether,” he said sheepishly, “and I almost had him. Then he jumped, and I went with him.” He looked along his body. “The ankle. Nothing to weep over, but I’d best wait for the light before trying that track again.”

Gudrun ran her hand down his leg and had the satisfaction of seeing how he stirred. Gently, she lifted his leg from the rocks that imprisoned it in a twisted position. He cried out and she felt power and pleasure and compassion all at the same time.

“We’ll not be moving from here this night,” she said.

“You’ll stay with me, the dark night through?” he asked, although he must have known the answer.

“This night and every other, if you asked me,” Gudrun whispered as she wrapped them both in her cloak. The wether settled down, sheltering them from the wind, until the sun goddess birthed a daughter to light the first day of the new year.

Winter blog fest

2017_WinterBlogfestHeader copy

I’m taking part in the Long and Short Reviews winter blog romp. The post is here .

Pop over to the LASR site and leave a comment on the post for a chance to win a copy of ‘Revelation’, the most romantic of ‘The Pathfinders’ series.

Revelation Blurb

Few are allowed into Paradisio—even fewer escape.

Wormwood has fallen, but the journey isn’t over for Carla and Tully. Erelah the Messenger leads them onward to Paradisio, where they hope they will find their real home. The Grigori recognize Tully as Israfel, and he takes to his new role of guardian of music like a duck to water, but Carla’s impressions are of a world with dark secrets hiding in the shadows.

Tully seems absorbed in his music and whenever he comes up for air, Erelah—with her neat little wings—is waiting. Carla finds consolation with Nathaniel, a Warrior who is a hunk and knows it. But she is playing with fire. Nat wants her—and what Nat wants, he takes.

As if her personal problems weren’t enough, Carla begins to piece together the mad plan that Nisroc, the Yazata of Paradisio, has lined up for the other worlds. And Tully—who has been promised a starring role—seems keen to play along with the lunatic scheme.

Carla finds herself caught up in a revolution, to stop Nisroc and the one who is creating his weapon of mass destruction—Tully.

 

Excerpt

Carla bent to touch the shoulder of the nearest body. It was warm. She laid a finger on the pulse and waited, her own heart thumping. It was there. Faint, but it was there.

“They’re not dead,” Nat said, mocking.

“They’ll soon wish they were,” one of the Marines added with a snigger.

Nat shot him a murderous look. “That’s for others to decide. Just stick to your own job.”

“Do we leave them here?” Carla asked, worried at how pale the three Warriors looked.

Nathaniel tapped his vest pockets. “Anyone got a stretcher on him? I seem to have forgotten mine.”

The Marines sniggered again.

“Isn’t first aid supplied in this ‘game’?” Carla asked. “They need attention.”

Nat put an arm around her. She felt the pounding of his heart, his excitement. His smell, hot, sweet and sweaty, enveloped her. “They’ll be picked up. Douma will know where to find them.” His hand slid down her arm to her waist, under her T-shirt, his fingers roving over her stomach. Her muscles flinched and she caught the flicker of a smile on Nat’s lips.

“Now, let’s finish this charade. I don’t know how I’m going to wait until tonight,” he murmured into her hair.

“Tonight?”

“When Douma gives you your mark, and you give me all the rest. The start of forever.” His mouth was so close to her ear that his breath tickled. His hand slid around the waistband of her pants. Her own breath grew short and hot. Her cheeks flared. The Marines watched her curiously, their eyes not quite so cold. Nat’s excitement was working on them. She wriggled out of his grip, forcing her mind to focus on the cold outline of the plan.

If we can get this over with by lunchtime, Tabbris can get on with starting an epidemic.

“Let’s get moving then.” She grinned at him and he flashed her one of his predatory smiles.

 

New book release: Revelation

It is with great embarrassment that I reveal that on checking on the Finch Books website for the release date of Revelation, the third volume of The Pathfinders I discover that it’s today. Unnoticed by all, including me, which is a shame, because it’s a bloody good story though I say so myself.

Authors are supposed to be gung ho about promoting their work, praising it to the skies and shoving excerpts and banners in the faces of the general publick until they provoke rioting and lynch mobs. I’m going to kick against tradition and just say that I wrote it, I enjoyed writing it tremendously, and I think it’s pretty good. But nobody in their right mind would take the author’s word for the quality of a novel. You have to read it for yourself. There’s always the ‘look inside’ feature before you commit your pennies. It costs nothing.

The Pathfinders is a trilogy to be read in order, so if you haven’t started it yet, there’s not much point in banging on about number three. If you have read Abomination and Devastation, you can find Revelation here.

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

revelation-janedougherty_promosquare_outnow_final

Revelation

Here is this week’s promotional effort, the announcement that the third volume of The Pathfinders will be released on July 19 and available from the Finch Books website. It’s the episode I most enjoyed writing. It’s told entirely from Carla’s point of view, so if you have been itching to know more about how exactly she sees her realtionship with Tully, and how she stops herself giving him a clatter in the clackers every five minutes, you really need to read this story.

Here’s the cover.

revelation_800-1

and here’s the blurb.

Carla was expecting Paradisio to be like…well, paradise. But bad boy Nathaniel shows her that the inhabitants are anything but angelic.

Wormwood has fallen, but the journey isn’t over for Carla and Tully. Erelah, the Messenger, leads them onward to Paradisio, where they hope they will find their real home. The Grigori recognize Tully as Israfel, and he takes to his new role of guardian of music like a duck to water, but Carla’s impressions are of a world with dark secrets hiding in the shadows.

Tully seems absorbed in his music and whenever he comes up for air, Erelah—with her neat little wings—is waiting. In her misery, Carla finds consolation in Nathaniel, a Warrior who is a hunk and knows it. But she is playing with fire. Nat wants her, and what Nat wants, he takes.

As if her personal problems weren’t enough, Carla begins to piece together the mad plan that Nisroc, the Yazata of Paradisio, has lined up for the other worlds. And Tully—who has been promised a starring role—seems keen to play along with the lunatic scheme.

Carla finds herself caught up in a revolution, to stop Nisroc and the one who is creating his weapon of mass destruction—Tully.

 

None of this will make any sense whatsoever if you haven’t read Abomination, and not much more until you’ve read the second book, Devastation. So, what are you waiting for?

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk