August 30

Yet Another Sneak Peek — SHIREWODE


Meet the fair Maiden to the Shire Wode…


Dark hart and fiery warhorse both wait: the first patient, the second eager, barely contained.

There is a bow in her hand. The wind picks up, rustling her damp, white kirtle about her knees. She knows she must take care with this shot, must gauge well both draw and release, into that wind.

She knows that she knows how.

The arrow flames as she puts it to string: a beacon, a turning point. It flares as she draws, then spins into smoke and sparks as she looses it, an arc over the altar where two forces wait, a-tremble.

A beginning. A signal.

It looses them. Like demons from any hell ever imagined they leap forward, charge with a thunder of bare hooves and metal-shod hoofs, and they collide with the darken brilliance of angels in a war on earth for heaven and hell. It is a battle never-ending, set up, fixed from the moment two infants came into air and breath. They love each other. They hate each other.

They need each other….

Yet they are too caught in the blood-lust to know that they need. Too tangled in what-has-been/what-will-be to see what is.

She sees what is, finally. She needs them as they need each other, as they need her. She knows them. They are damh Rìgh and Capullcoille—the King Stag and the Horse of the Wode—they are her brothers, her consorts. They are the kings who would battle for the right to be her lord, her twin, her lover, her son… and suddenly she is walking toward the altar. Striding with a purpose, and one which reveals she does belong there, is merely and explicitly another player in this collision of mummers’ plays, of celestial creatures given earthly form.

Ivy. Holly. Oak. Winterking, Summerlord, Maiden….


It reverberates into the air about them, halting the battling beasts-cum-men. They turn on her; snarling and bristling.

They are both wounded. Their blood, mingling on the altar; their breath, commingling in the air.

She steps on the altar between them, and they hold.

In the way of dreams, they are no longer fae beasts in a tilt for dominance, but change: shape and form and weapons. Horse to belted knight, Stag to hooded archer; beast to demon to angel, angel to fae spirit to man to god then man. No mere pawns in a cosmic game, but Hallowed Princes of a broken Realm. Kings of a Wheel spun wildly widdershins.

She holds out her hands to them. The knight sinks to one knee, his sword point-down before him. She reaches a hand for him, strokes fingers through his copper-gilt hair and down his cheek, lifting up his face to meet hers. Eyes green as the ivy in her own cinnabar curls peer at her, cool and considering, then he hefts his sword, offers it to her. Upon it a serpent twists, an eight of electrum coils never-ending.

She kisses the serpent on its flat, smooth head; it shimmers like a bronze torc then… sinks, molding and melding, into the sword. The gilded swath coils about the knight’s hands, travels up his arms, wreathing his head and sliding back into the serpent-blade as she claims the knight with a name. “Gamelyn.”

He lowers the sword to the altar, bows his head.

Beside the silent knight, the hooded archer waits, still standing but head lowered. When she turns to him, he lifts his hands; in them he offers the arrow that she loosed. It burns, blue-white, in his palms—but it does not burn him, and as she reaches for it, it flares and disappears. In its place is a long, thin arrow forged in gold. It is fletched with the iridescent tips of peacock feathers, their eyes watching, always watching.

“So you will always see me,” the archer whispers, eyes meeting hers, ebon reflecting indigo. “Always know me, even when the hood must take my Sight.”…


T minus 10 days until release.  Have a lovely weekend!

August 21

‘Nother Sneek Peek–SHIREWODE


Meet the Green Man, Fair Readers, and his Merry Men–


“Someone’s askin’ after Robyn Hood.”

“Fancy that,” Robyn answered. He scarcely gave a glance to the older man who had sidled up to him wearing a dirty hat with a torn brim, instead kept leaning against two comfortable supports: Will Scathelock’s brawny left arm and an equally sturdy hemlock. The outlaws had just arrived to Matlock with a prize; already the villagers were gathering round, the headman relaying directions to those unharnessing the sorrel jennet from the wagon. They’d have the grain unloaded in no time, Robyn knew; as to his own….

“Arthur, leave off the horse; John doesna need you fussing. Best take Gilly and David and set watch.”

“And Will?” Arthur raised his eyebrows.

Next to Robyn, Will flexed one arm and winked. “Nae doubt I’ll have the wagon.”

“A proper ox, you are,” Gilbert quipped, and took off with a yip as Will strode forward and aimed a half-hearted boot towards his backside. Robyn gave a small stagger at the impromptu desertion, realigned himself against the tree trunk, propped a foot for good measure.

“Some’s got to do the work for the pretty ones,” Will quipped back.

Robyn laughed, gestured with the strand of hay he was twiddling in his long, callused fingers. “Aw, Scathelock, ’tisn’t so bad. I think you’re pretty.”

“You would, y’ tunic lifter.”

“Skirt chaser.”

Will smirked and Robyn grinned back, watching the villagers unload the grain sacks.

“Robyn….” the man with the dirty hat tried to wheedle.

“Leave Himself be, Cedric!” Matlock’s headman, Wulfstan, came over, frowning.

“But there’s sommat he should know, Wulf—”

John caught Robyn’s attention just as he was considering turning it to Cedric. A few hand signals and a dip of his dark head toward the setting sun, and John had made it plain he was ready for a cask of mead to warm the night with.

Robyn agreed. Matlock was known for its honey and, of course, the mead rendered from it. Surely Wulfstan would spare them one in recompense for the nicked grain….

“Same again?” Will asked Wulfstan, who nodded.

“We’ll pour it off, give you th’ auld sacks, and will thank the Horned Lord for his gift of the gelding for however long we have ’im.” Wulfstan grinned. “There’s none’ll grudge us a good animal what just came walkin’ up loose. They’ll take ’im back should they ever find him, and curse Robyn Hood.”

One side of Robyn’s mouth tilted upward. “Fancy that.”

“We’ll take the cart and sacks a ways east,” Will agreed. “Your folk rarely have business that way, and the less they’ve to do with it, the better—aye, Robyn?”

“Aye.” Robyn twirled the hay stem, lightly furthered, “John’s wanting a bit of mead, Wulfstan, should you have it t’ give.”

The headman grinned. “Fancy that,” he teased, in the same tone Robyn had just used, and Robyn chuckled. “I think we can spare a firkin for th’ King of th’ Shire Wode,” Wulfstan continued, walking over to take the horse from John.

“Our little John gets more with a twitch of his eyebrows than any of us with a round o’ beggin’,” Will complained.

“Fancy that,” Robyn arched his own eyebrows and elbowed him.

“Not my type. You fancy that,” Will retorted, with his own elbow knock.

“Mm. As I can, aye.”

Robyn.” Cedric had skulked closer, a distinct whine edging his voice. Of course, Robyn considered, the best method of communication Cedric could muster usually involved whining. “I tell ye, ’tis important.”

Will gave a sigh. “Look, man, if we jumped every time some’un gave Robyn’s name a mention—”

“This ’un ent just mentioning. He’s questioning.”

Robyn shrugged, transferred the stem of hay to his mouth, began chewing one end.

“There’s some as are sayin’ the Sheriff’s hired hisself a man, see?”

“Does the Sheriff fancy boys, now?” Will snorted, and gave Robyn a shove. “Mayhap you two need a chat after—”

All right, that was not in the least bit funny. Robyn gave him a hard fist to the ribs. Will gave an “oof!” and went staggering—more than satisfying, considering he nearly made two of Robyn.

“Hoy! Rob—”

“Scathelock, if you don’t shut your yap, I’ll bloody well shut it for you—”

“You have t’ listen, Robyn!” Cedric made a grab for Robyn’s sleeve, which Robyn deftly avoided. “This ’un’s askin’ all sorts of things about Robyn Hood, and he’s some nobleman; a killer from ’crost the sea, I heerd.”

“A nobleman killer!” Will scoffed. “Ent they all?”

But Robyn was watching Cedric, the strand of hay stilling between his teeth. “You’ve actually heard the Sheriff hired this man?”

“Aye, Robyn, ‘tis what I’ve been trying to tell you!” Cedric’s already protuberant eyes were bugging out further. “My cousin Edgar—as works in the Sheriff’s kitchens?—aye, well, he said one o’ those Templar Knights had come to Nottingham Castle, was sniffin’ about sommat fierce—”

“A Templar!” Will grunted. “Jaysus, Robyn. What in hell have you done to brass off one of those?”

Robyn shot him a quelling look; he wasn’t about to flaunt his ignorance in public. He’d heard of Templars, words and warnings he hadn’t understood and still wasn’t sure he did. “And what did Edgar have to say about this… Templar?”

“Edgar’d heard all th’ tales, y’know, about how those lot have horns and a tail and no soul—”

“Right, that’s what the nobles say about Robyn!” Will snorted. “There y’ go, Rob, there’s a match made in th’ otherworld for you!”

Robyn gave Will a black look which promised serious damage; it thankfully shut him up. “Did Edgar,” he said, taking the hay from his teeth and examining it, “say owt useful?”

“I know, Robyn, I know. I was just sayin’ all that to let ye know what Edgar was expectin’… only ’e wasn’t getting it, see? Said the Templar broke bread with the Sheriff and his sister like any normal—”

“Sister?” It twined Rob’s nerves taut as any bowstring. “The Black Abbess?”

“Bloody damn,” Will growled. “She’s back?”

“Aye, Edgar said she’d been away down south, or th’ like, for some time.”

Surely it was a paradox, that a weasel of a cutpurse with a wagging tongue should so casually utter the name Robyn had cursed since he’d emerged from Cernun’s caverns with a nigh-crippled arm, his world shattered and his heart full of unspent fury…

SHIREWODE will be available 09 September

August 13



In which you, Fair Reader, meet that Guy guy a-midst swinging his hardware.
(No, not that hardware, fetch your minds out of the gutter…)



Mist had worked itself into a steady rain. Nevertheless, Guy gave no explanation as he led his fellows upon a detour slightly east, passing from forest road into ploughed fields. That it was the end of harvest was evident; those fields were thickly populated, villeins hard at work despite the heavy rain.  As they approached Matlock, their horses’ hoofs thudding sodden against bare dirt, it was no different. Every able-bodied worker was in the fields. They picked their way through the nigh deserted village and into the marshy outskirts, moving to the cover of a copse of trees. There, within sight, was a familiar and flea-ridden hut.

Familiar to Guy, anyway.

When John started to slide down, Guy gripped his arm. “Stay here,” he ordered, eyed Siham as well. “Both of you.”

Flinging his off leg over the horse’s neck, Guy handed the rein to John and unbuckled his sword from its scabbard, pulling it free with the hard, sweet rasp of fine-forged metal.

Finally. Something to take the edge off. Action. Righteousness, in its most basic form.

The villein was there, alone on his vermin-infested mattress. Sleeping off the pleasantry of a well-scraped plate beside him, possessed of all his limbs and yet sleeping while his kin worked like dogs in the fields. And….

You handed me a secret you had no rights to, you puling traitor, and of that secret you shall tell none else.

This would be pure pleasure.

Guy toed the mattress, gave a growl. When that didn’t work, he kicked the bony haunch protruding from the tattered blanket. “Up.”

“G-gi’ off me!” Still groggy, at first the villein didn’t recognize him. Then he did. “M-my lord?”

Guy grabbed him by his grubby tunic, dragged him up and out through the squat door of the hut into the rain.

“Milord!” the man howled, staggering along. “What? Please, my lord!”

Guy said nothing, pulled his cowl over his face, and kept dragging the villein by his tunic over the sodden ground. The villein’s howling diminished to a moaning whine, his staggers to resigned stumbles and slips. Guy didn’t stop until they came to another stand of stunted trees and thick eelgrass. He gave a shove; the villein went sprawling in the tall, sharp grass.

It was more than adequate, this place.

“M-milord.” The villein dragged himself over, groveled at Guy’s feet. “Please. I didn’t lie, I didn’t. Please, I didn’t—”

Guy hefted his falchion, a curve of silver glittering in the rain.

“This,” he informed the villein, “is quite personal. I’m sorry.”

The villein didn’t even have time to scream.