Monday, June 24, 2019

Duluth Harbor Cam: Boat Schedule

Why don't any of these ships ever head into Lake Michigan? I've traced the routes of many, sometimes as far as the Seaway, but never has one gone down into Lake Michigan!

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Little News, But Not Much

Well, it appears my website host sent their renewal notice to my (for all intents and purposes) DEAD Yahoo mailbox, so some Singapore-based business bought my .com domain. This practice I will never, ever understand. Why would someone want a website bearing another person's name?

Anyway, if you have some inexplicable, burning desire to visit my author site, it is now That's right: dot NET. (There's a handy-dandy button on the far right that will take you there -- if, that is, it isn't all screwed up again.) I'm in the process of making changes to my book listings almost everywhere.

The titles I published through Ellora's Cave and Samhain are, as you likely know, gone. Soon, the titles I've published through Loose Id will also be gone. That leaves a couple of novellas at Liquid Silver Publishing (Fugly and Bastards and Pretty Boys) and a batch of books at Dreamspinner Press.

I still don't know what's going to become of my disenfranchised work. I've been feeling pretty defeated for a number of years, so it's difficult to come up with a plan and stick to it. All the monkeyshines in the m/m genre, from which there's apparently no escape, certainly don't help.

Many thanks to those of you who still care.


Friday, November 18, 2016

A Dystopian Christmas Story

Two years ago, I participated in a blog hop for which I had to write a short holiday-themed story based on a picture prompt. I'm reposting the story this year because it seems particularly, and frighteningly, appropriate. 

Don't worry; it has a hopeful ending. ;-) You'll find it here.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Update: A Bundle of (Steampunk) Joy!

Dreamspinner Press is offering my steampunk Mongrel trilogy as a bundle! This means you get all three books -- Mongrel, Merman, and Machine -- for one money (as an auctioneer would say). Not only that, the price is far less than the cost of each title separately. You can now preorder at DSP; the release date is April 29.

In addition to the publisher's site, the deal will be offered on Amazon and ARe. I'll put up direct links as soon as I have them. In the meantime, here's the path to the gay bundles on Amazon. You might find something else to entertain yourself with. ;-)

 Books : Gay & Lesbian : Literature & Fiction : Fiction : Gay : Kindle Edition : ebook bundles

Monday, November 23, 2015

Is it possible to be TOO forgiving?

I suspect most of you have heard by now that the author/artist/blogger known as Thorny Sterling has outed himself as a poseur. (For ease of expression I'm going to use male pronouns, although it's entirely possible this individual is female.) Thorny's life is a fiction. The ensemble cast with which he populated that life -- Jazz, Alec, Carter, Grams, Mores, etc. -- are all made up.

I've lost count of the number of m/m romance writers who've fessed up to misrepresenting themselves over the years, at least to a limited degree. None of those other instances particularly bothered me unless plagiarism was involved. After all, ours is a unique genre; it draws writers of all genders (yes, all; I'm abandoning the binary) and orientations. Sometimes we stretch the truth to make it fit our self-images. Or we shroud our true identities for personal and/or professional reasons. For the record, I've never BS'ed anybody about anything except my name. But that doesn't mean other authors don't have perfectly valid reasons, whether practical or emotional, for their benign biographical fictions.

Which brings us back to Thorny Sterling. At first his post puzzled me, because he gives a number of different and equally specious reasons for launching his Grand Deception. (I'll get back to that in a minute.) When I read through the comments, I became even more puzzled. Most everybody was giving him "attaboy" pats on the back and expressing their support. Why? Because they found his posts entertaining and sometimes instructive. And they were charmed by his "Sunshine" persona. And they liked how his other blog characters were written. Then they expressed their good wishes for his future, and some even wanted to hear more from him and, yes, be his friend. In other words, they viewed his biographical fictions as benign. But were they?

"You're a big fat bullshitter who's misled a whole lot of people, but that's okay! You're still cool! Honesty isn't my default setting for relationships!"



This Thorny, this oh-so-endearing make-believe twink, catfished a large and diverse group of people. And he indeed hurt many of them. He didn't just lie his ass off, he kept embroidering his lies and betraying his friends' trust. He invented a suicide and passed it off as real. He invented a disabled veteran and passed him off as real. If you don't believe this kind of shit crosses a line, you need to rethink your line-crossing criteria. The most compassionate of Thorny's followers were reduced to tears by some of his stories. The most generous sent him money and gifts. (It appears he even had a button somewhere for "donations." I doubt any were returned.) So, yeah, these weren't benign lies. People were wounded by them. In a variety of ways.

I used to read his blog in its early days; I found it refreshing and often amusing. Then came a rather startling surge of self-importance in li'l' Sunshine . . . and it was at that point I got suspicious and backed away. Thorny's modest accomplishments certainly didn't justify the creation of a cult, but that was what he seemed to be aiming for. I watched incredulously from the sidelines as an alleged kid in his early twenties began behaving like a seasoned sales-promotion specialist. The Cult of Thorny quickly expanded, and not just around an updated Winesburg, Ohio (maybe I should say Our Town, which was written by his namesake), but also around an impressive array of products and services. His craptastic, derivative novella even got reviewed at both USA Today and Dear Author, and its cover won a Rainbow Award.

Suddenly, a naive and insecure college student was proving himself capable of some pretty savvy marketing.

But more was never enough. The con continued. The adoration and, probably, the money kept pouring in. I felt ever hinkier about him and so continued to avoid his blog.

Until yesterday, when one of my Facebook friends mentioned Thorny's online confession (which came, as confessions are wont to do, only after someone caught him out). I pondered his mishmash of excuses and kept coming back to one sentence: "I knew even then [2010] that gay boys got all the attention." And there, I'm convinced, is the motivation for his lengthy and elaborate con.

Whoever Thorny Sterling really is, he was astute enough to realize what suckers m/m romance readers and writers are for Real Live Gay Boys, especially if those boys know how to work the crowd. And this blogger sure as hell knew how to do that. It's fairly clear from his mea culpa post that generating income was a major factor in the decision to invent Thorny and, ultimately, turn him into a cash cow. Of course, generating attention, doting attention, was the first step in the process. Our Hydra-headed impostor became expert at that, too. The attention and accolades and dollars soon rolled in, and likely would've kept rolling in if the fraud hadn't been exposed.

I guess you know my answer to the question posed in this post's title. Yes. Rarely have I been so put off by a community member's behavior that I've publicly condemned it, but this is one of those occasions. So, in the name of genuine GLBTQ* folks who are struggling; in the name of actual disabled veterans who are struggling; in the name of every struggling person for whom despair has or will become a one-way ticket to suicide (as well as the loved ones of such stricken people); in the name of all tender-hearted allies who were royally and repeatedly duped . . . fuck you, "T". I hope you go away and stay away.

P. S. According to people on Facebook, "Thorny Sterling" is a woman. I don't know her name, though.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Big Project

Published authors, or at least some of us, tend to get squirrelly after our books are out for a while. We're bugged by their covers, especially if they misrepresent characters. Uncorrected errors in the text become as persistently annoying as head lice. We think of things we should've left out of the story or put in story, or whole sections we wished we'd written differently. We repeatedly curse ourselves for our lack of foresight. And, of course, reader interest drops off precipitously within the first year after release -- if there was ever much reader interest to begin with -- and that, too, becomes irksome.

I've wrestled with all those issues and one more: the fact that circumstances have conspired since 2007 to prevent a related group of my stories (novels and novellas) to be issued by the same publisher at, say, two-month intervals, with covers that have a similar look. Yeah, the books probably should've been treated as a series.

Smart writers with tech savvy, or who make enough money to hire people with tech savvy, figured out years ago that the only way to have full control over one's creative output is to self-publish. I'm not sure I'm up to it in terms of patience and know-how, but I'll soon be venturing into this terrifying realm. I'm already having nightmares about it.

The details are on my website. Rather than repeat them all, I'll give you this link.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

La Boucle Parfaite -- Wow!

I didn't make this myself -- honest! Just came upon a link in my Twitter feed. Although I can't yet find this French translation of The Zero Knot on the Dreamspinner site, I assume the ARC is already available. What a thrill!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Flash Sale! 25% Discount at ARe

All Loose Id titles, mine included, are 25% off today only at All Romance eBooks. As I mentioned on Facebook, my sentimental favorite is Electric Melty Tingles, which also happens to be the cheapest. I've forgotten why the second chapter is the excerpt. (Kind of odd, eh?) Anyway, here's how the book begins. It was well-received by reviewers when it was first released in 2010. Don't know if that means much, but there ya go.

Chapter One

Louie was, I swear, the hardest-working woman in show business. Not like James Brown was the hardest-working man in show business, although her splits did put his to shame. As I watched her hit the floor again, like a drafting compass with a broken hinge, I could almost feel my testicles parting company and landing like finials on either side of my pelvis. The other men at Oliver Duncan’s bachelor party must’ve felt the same; they all winced in unison, even as they cheered.
“Louie, Louie,” the dancer’s none-too-original signature song, grated out of a battered 8-track player. I amused myself by sipping a martini at the wet bar and watching Oliver’s reactions to the bumping, grinding, and boob jiggling going on just inches from his face. He seemed to be enjoying himself. Flushed to his hairline, he chortled and squirmed. Then he teasingly stuck out his tongue as Louie began undoing his necktie and unbuttoning his shirt.
That’s when I began to squirm. Suddenly, the scene wasn’t so amusing anymore. I was watching someone undress and fondle my best friend. I was watching Oliver behave in a sexually suggestive way, which was something I’d never before had to witness. Seeing his interaction with the dancer wasn’t the same as accepting the fact he was getting married. The most I’d seen him do with Naomi, his betrothed, was put an arm around her or give her a rather sanitized peck now and then. Louie, however, was coaxing out his inner beast. Coaxing out Oliver’s inner beast was something only I was allowed to do. In the privacy of my imagination.
I looked around the enormous, handsome hotel suite for some distraction. None was available. I couldn’t even engage in drunkenly senseless conversation, since every pair of eyes in the room was trained on the stripper.
“Excuse me,” I said to the bow-tied bartender. He was a little older than I, maybe in his mid twenties, and none too shabby. But he, too, was distracted. I leaned farther across the bar. “Excuse me.”
Yeah, the deaf SOB was straight, like everybody else at this godforsaken bash.
His gaze flickered reluctantly in my direction.
“Could I have another one, please?”
Why the hell not? I didn’t have to drive home. A limo was at the ready to shuttle around whichever party-goers weren’t staying at the hotel.  Oliver’s father wasn’t only footing the bill for this suite at the Pfister, the drinks, and the dancers, he’d arranged for safe transportation.
 Christ, what a night. I glanced through wreathing cigarette smoke in Oliver’s direction. Louie was sitting on his lap now, her legs on either side of his hips, and doing a slow hump as Smokey Robinson crooned, “Ooh, baby, baby.” I looked away. Nope, this wasn’t so much fun anymore.
My gaze wandered to the windows. Outside, city lights sparkled in the darkness of the August night. I would’ve rather been out on the Avenue, cruising for sailors. Not that I’d ever cruised for anybody, much less men in uniform, but I’d heard about such things. The sailors came to Milwaukee regularly from the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and sauntered down the sidewalks in pairs and groups. They were as much a part of the cityscape as the glowing Weather Flame atop the Wisconsin Gas building.
To me, anyway.
I’d often watched them—cute caps set at jaunty angles above their dress blue jumpers, Vs of white undershirts visible at their necklines, pants hugging their round asses—and thought they looked like fuckable dolls. I had no clue how to interpret each man’s swagger, no clue what it was that set the gay ones apart or how exactly to go about approaching them. So I simply watched and dreamed and, back at home, sometimes jerked off while I imagined a bold recruit smiling at me as he took off his hat. The hat removal was, in my fantasies, always an invitation, the prelude to an indescribably thrilling encounter.
“Hiya, cutie.”
Startled, I jerked to the right. A dazzling, gap-toothed grin and cloud of perfume hit me. At my side stood a woman in a neon-pink negligee. Her hand smoothed circles onto my back. She had straight, bluish black hair only slightly longer than her glued-on eyelashes.
“Uh…hello.” I had to be polite. It was Oliver’s bachelor party, and his father had put out beaucoup bread for it.
“I’m Krysti,” chirped my unwanted companion. “What’s your name?”
“Ned. Just…Ned.” Well, it wasn’t just Ned, but she didn’t need to know the Surwicki part.
As my attention funneled back to the party, I remembered that Louie wasn’t alone. Oliver’s older brother Darryl had hired a troupe of three dancers. Flame-haired Louie, vivacious as she was, couldn’t possibly cater to all nineteen men in attendance.
Krysti tucked some stray strands of hair behind my ear. I tried as inconspicuously as possible to inch backward.
“Wouldja like a little something special, Just Ned? Want me to boogaloo down your Broadway?” Her fingers danced down my shirtfront to the waistband of my trousers.
Uh-oh. A little something special from the Electric Eurydice didn’t appeal to me whatsoever. Not unless there was a sailor lurking beneath that lingerie.
Woooo, go for it, man!”
I tilted past Krysti to look in the direction of the voice, although I already knew whose voice it was. Oliver, who’d either slid or been pulled from his chair, sat on the floor with his shirt open and zipper down, waving a beer bottle. His hold on the neck was precarious. I worried the bottle might slip from his curled fingers and thump him on the head. He was trying to point at me but couldn’t seem to get his forefinger fully straightened.
From all indications, he was rip-roaringly drunk.
I’d never seen him like this. He drank, yeah, but never to excess. Considering the occasion, I supposed overindulgence was understandable. He was only doing what a man was supposed to do.
Being vulnerable to the charms of scantily clad women fell vaguely into the same category. As did getting married.
“Whatcha waiting for, Schnickelfritz?” he called out with a sloppy grin I found disarming as hell. “Get that cherry popped!”
Oh God, why did he have to holler about my cherry, and when was he going to stop calling me Schnickelfritz? Each one of us was only half German. Besides, it sounded so fucking silly. But I supposed there were worse names.
Krysti fired him a look. “We don’t do that sort of thing,” she said with snippy indignation. “We’re entertainers.”
“That’s okay,” I mumbled. “My cherry’s already been popped.” Not by a female, granted…
Louie, now sitting in the chair above Oliver and gliding her hands inside his open shirt, leaned over and whispered in his ear.
Oliver lifted his eyebrows and pulled down his mouth. “Pardon, mademoiselle,” he said to Krysti in perfect, slurred French. He swung his raised arm to his midsection to affect a bow of apology, but he swung it too hard. Beer shot out of the bottle and splashed onto Louie’s inner thigh. She yelped and fell backward, Oliver toppled onto his side, and the room erupted into hoots and guffaws.
“Excuse me,” I said to Krysti.
I hustled over to the guest of honor to make sure he was all right. Kneeling beside him, I eased the bottle out of his hand.
“Hope you’re planning to replace that,” he said as I got him to sit up.
“Don’t worry about it.” I twisted around and set the bottle on a cluttered coffee table. “Just worry about one of these bozos tripping over your ass.”
More music cut a tinny swath through the raised voices in the room. Stevie Wonder, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” To me, the song was like a bad portent. 
All three entertainers were dancing now, slinking and shimmying from man to man, trying to tease some reaction from their alcohol-saturated libidos. The third woman, a blonde named Misty, let Curtis Orton pluck maraschino cherries from her cleavage. Two guys on a loveseat pulled Krysti down between them, and Darryl Duncan, Oliver’s older brother and the temporary holder of the family purse strings, swayed with his hands on Louie’s hips. The fact he was married didn’t seem to deter him.
“They’ll do it for enough money, you know,” Oliver said to me. His hand rested on my leg.
“Do what?” I felt a little foggy myself.
“Handjob, blowjob, maybe even fuck. What’s-her-name just told me.”
Handjob, blowjob, fuck. Those words alone, coming from Oliver’s mouth, made a barbed tingle clutch at my groin. I wanted to lower him back to the floor, carefully crawl on top of him, and kiss him for hours on end as I finished the undressing that Louie had begun. Even disheveled, he was a knockout. His sable hair was charmingly mussed, his heavy eyelids gave the rich darkness of his irises a sultry cast, and his lips bore a scrim of moisture.
“I’m not interested,” I said, trying hard not to focus on his mouth.
 “Don’t be uptight about it. Money’s not an issue. And I’m pretty sure Darryl brought along a box of rubbers.”
“I wouldn’t be interested even if they were full-body rubbers.” It was the biggest hint I’d ever dropped, but it fell unnoticed. 
Shit, I’d wanted to get cozy with Oliver since we were fourteen years old. After almost seven years of longing, the most touch I’d ever gotten from him were playful shakes and friendly hugs and an occasional clap on the back or shoulder. Buddy stuff.      
Considering I’d had a deep, dark, smoldering crush on him since high school, buddy stuff was more tormenting than satisfying.
“Aw, c’mon, Ned, loosen up,” Oliver said, his hand moving aimlessly on my thigh, driving me crazy. “I want you to have a good time.”
“I’m having a good time just watching all you preppies get stupid.”
“Please don’t use that word. Ever since that stinko movie came out, I’ve been given enough shit just because of my name.”
He meant Love Story, of course. Ryan O’Neal’s character was named Oliver, and Ali McGraw as his snotty bitch of a girlfriend called him “Preppie.” The reference made me grin.
“I’ll lay off the word,” I said, “if you lay off trying to hook me up with some Salome.”
“Deal. So, you got a new secret love or what?” Oliver’s accompanying wink was so spazzy, I thought for moment he had something in his eye.
“I might.”
“Yeah?” Smiling, Oliver lifted his shirttail and daubed at a corner of my mouth.
Heat shot through me.
“Piece of pimiento from your olive,” he murmured.
He kept looking at me. His besotted, beguiling smile had shrunk and taken on a different quality. It made me feel way more than I wanted or needed to feel, especially on the eve of the eve of his wedding.
 A young man I didn’t know brought deliverance. He stumbled into us, grabbed Oliver by the shoulders, shook him, and bellowed, “Olé Ol-lie!”  
I squinted up at the numbskull. His cheeks puffed out as a belch apparently rumbled up from his stomach -- at least I hoped it was a belch -- and his head wobbled a little. The guy was one of Oliver’s friends from Dartmouth. I was out of their loop. I had a ponytail and went to Milwaukee School of Engineering and had always called Oliver, Oliver.
As Numbskull toddled away, Oliver suddenly clamped my face between his hands and gave me both the worst and best kiss of my life. Impishly, his smile widened for second. Then he bumbled off the floor like a sack of flour with feet, gave my head an affectionate rub, and wove through the room to receive more olés.
My lips prickled. I touched my fingers to them, trying to relive the feel of his mouth on mine, that startling silky softness and humid heat, the subtle poke of his whiskers. Of course there’d been no tongue. The kiss hadn’t been that kind of kiss. But it still had sucked the air right out of my lungs. And the room. And the entire atmosphere. If he did it again, I vowed, I would kiss him back and make it last. Fuck what people thought.
A hand appeared in front of my face, prompting me to look up. Smiling down at me was a clean-cut blond guy whose name I couldn’t remember.
“Need some help getting it up?”
I blinked at him. No, no, you moron. Not getting “it” up, just getting up. From the floor.
“No, thanks. I can manage.”
I bounced to my feet. The guy grabbed my shoulders to steady me.
“You look as out of place here as I feel,” he said affably. “No offense.”
I tried to gather my wits, but the effort wasn’t going well. “Yeah, well, I don’t go to Dartmouth.”
“I’m not a college guy either. My name’s Russ. Who’re you?”
“Ned. A friend of Oliver. From high school.” My attention finally found its way to Russ. He was broad-shouldered and very well built, and his neatly combed hair was shiny as a polished helmet.
We shook hands. His grip was so firm it made me reel a little. More and more he reminded me of…of…
One of those sailors.
“I don’t know anybody here,” Russ said. “I just work for Blumenthal’s. You know, the caterer.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “All I did was deliver the hors d’oeuvres. Then Darryl invited me to hang out.”
“Won’t you get in trouble with your employer?” Damn, my throat felt dry.
“Nah. I called him hours ago. Long as I get the van back in one piece, Felix don’t care how I spend the rest of the evening.” Russ looked toward the bar and the nearby hors d’oeuvre table. “Can I, uh…get you a drink or some food or something?”
“Thanks, but I’m set.” He was such a nice, simple guy and seemed so utterly guileless, I had trouble entertaining the notion he might be hitting on me. So maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he just felt obligated to earn his invitation to the party by doubling as a waiter. “I’m leaving soon, anyway.”
Russ’s smile collapsed. “You are?”
“Yeah. Oliver’s father hired a limo…”
“Oh. So you live in the city?”
“I have an apartment near MSOE.”
Nodding, Russ licked his lips. “I think I’ve seen you around.”
“Really? Where?” More to the point, why would he even remember me? I didn’t exactly look like Robert Redford.
Russ’s voice lowered. “Castaways. The Rooster.” His sky-blue eyes fixed on my face.
My lips parted; shock and germinal excitement had instantly made my breath go shallow. Castaways and the Rooster were queer bars. “What’re you saying?” I asked in a strained monotone.
“Just wondering if you’d like some company on that limo ride.”
[Chapter One continues from this point.]

Monday, July 13, 2015

She can see! She can see!

Well, not close-up. Not yet.

So . . . I've gone through two outpatient cataract surgeries. The first was a breeze: lasted only a few minutes, it seemed, and I didn't feel a thing. Better yet, the improvement in my vision was immediate and startling. The second operation, four days ago, was more stressful: took much longer (there was some kind of minor setback or complication), and I felt considerable discomfort. When I went in for my follow-up exam the next morning, I was anxious and dispirited. No instant improvement this time. In fact, no noticeable improvement at all, and I'd had a bit of discharge overnight. (TMI, I know. Sorry.)

The doc who does my exams is an older underling of the Grand Poobah whose eponymous practice is in the Madison area but has smaller "satellite" clinics. (The Grand Poobah motors into my area of the outback once a month to suction out old farts' cataracts and insert shiny new IOLs or intraocular lenses. That's his specialty. He's done roughly 26,000 of these operations.) Anyway, Old Doc peered into my right eyeball, found nothing alarming, and told me to give it time to heal. All eyes, he calmly assured me, respond differently to the procedure. "Just keep putting in your drops and wearing the shield at night." So that's what I've been doing. And, lo and behold, my vision is indeed improving! It still isn't 20/20 like my left eye, but it's waaaay better than before.

Once both eyes have thoroughly healed, I'll be fitted for new glasses. They'll be primarily for reading. Not sure yet if I'll need some degree of correction for working at the computer, since it's a mid-distance thing. But in any case, I'm thrilled with the difference thus far. I no longer have to wear glasses every waking hour because my world is immeasurably clearer, brighter, and more detailed.

If you've never been on the verge of blindness, you can't imagine what a joy it is to see colors in all their subtle-to-brilliant glory. To watch baby sparrows flitting around their birdhouse, and chipmunks chasing each other through the grass. To read menus posted at restaurant drive-throughs or behind their counters. To watch movies, peruse the offerings at a resale shop or rummage sale, spy on your neighbors!

Never take your senses for granted. Revel in them at every opportunity. :-)



Thursday, May 07, 2015

Update, and Another Great Sale!

Because I'm a "Year Three Author" at Dreamspinner Press (yeah, I've been with them since 2009), all my DSP titles will be 35% off from May 8 through May 14. To see what I have to offer -- view covers, and read blurbs and excerpts -- click on the link above.

On a more personal note, it's probably a good thing  I decided to go on sabbatical. Last month my eye doc discovered cataracts in both my eyes, which obviously explains why my vision has degenerated, At this point I couldn't write or edit a manuscript no matter how much I wanted to. (Just composing this post is a hell of an effort.) I had a WIP going, but continuing with it proved beyond my visual capability. Even reading is becoming difficult. (Thank goodness for my Kindle!) So . . . I'm facing cataract surgery. I suspect other stuff is wrong with me too, since I haven't seen a doctor in more years than I can count. (Thank you, American healthcare system!)

As many of you know from experience, any breakdown of one's body is stressful. When that breakdown is due to advancing age, which clearly isn't reversible, and finding rides to and from appointments is like trying to conjure cotton candy from the wind, the stress can lead to high anxiety and deep depression. If/when my physical problems are resolved, I'll post again. In the meantime you all take care, okay?

Saturday, February 07, 2015

A New Story with Old Characters

I've posted a free short on one of my blog's pages. "The Substitute" is the most recent entry in the Jackson Spey / Adin Swift storyverse, inspired by a picture fellow author K-lee Klein put up on Facebook. (Thank you, K-lee!)

You can find the story here.

Some of you, but probably not many of you, are familiar with Jackson and Adin. They're my most beloved and possibly most interesting couple, and they've certainly been around the longest. They made their first appearance together in Plagued, a novel released by Ellora's Cave in 2007, and went on to develop a full, complex, and often rocky relationship in subsequent books. (You can find the complete list at my website.) 

"The Substitute" takes place approximately six months after Carny's Magic, a novel published by Loose Id. 

Hope you like it. And I hope squabbling couples are encouraged by it. ;-)