Monday, August 26, 2013

Jude's Magic

Jude's Magic (gay romance) by Hollis Shiloh

Jude has never had very spectacular magic, though he's always been too sensitive to the kind that hurts people. Desperate for work, he hires on as a companion to a wealthy man—who turns out to be a severely injured dueling wizard named Ferrous. Any sort of violent magic makes Jude physically ill. But Ferrous thinks Jude is the only one who can heal him. He might just be right.

A fantasy-themed gay romance

16,000 words


Ferrous was looking around, passing a hand over his eyes and blinking rapidly. "I can see the light, and the shape of the plants. Let me look at you." He turned to Jude and drew back, squinting and blinking. "You're slim and dark haired, right?"


"And you'll stay? As my companion?" He started to reach for Jude again, and then held back instead.

Jude hesitated. It felt like saying yes to more than a job. It felt like a lot more. But somehow he didn't want to walk away, either. "Okay. If you want."

"Oh, I do want. Please speak to my cousin. He'll see about paying you and find you a room." Again he looked as if he was going to pull Jude close. But he only stared at him, long and hard and hungrily, as Jude got up and began to leave.

Something made him hesitate. "What did you mean, 'You're the one?'" It didn't make sense to him. Yes, Jude had the ability to fix some things, slowly and not very skillfully, but there were many better healing magicians out there. Jude's father had always scorned his gift, even though he'd sometimes wanted Jude to fix a cut, bruise, or hangover for him.

Ferrous hesitated and bit his lower lip. "I can't tell you just yet. But it's a good thing. It's…I'm very grateful to you." He ducked his head slightly.

He looked like he meant it so much that Jude couldn't help smiling. "I'm glad I could help." The words came out sounding shy.

"So am I, believe me."

"But I'm sure there are much better people out there for fixing your eyes."

Ferrous seemed to hesitate, to weigh his words. "Maybe you're the one I need," he said, and he spoke with such warmth and lack of pretense that Jude found himself blushing.

"Well—uh—okay. I'd better go now," he said, retreating quickly, glancing back to be sure he wasn't going to trip over something by walking backwards.

"Yes," agreed Ferrous, but he was still watching him—or at least staring at him with great intensity. His eyes weren't so filmy white now, as if they really were getting better.

As always, review copies are available for free!

The Keeper - lighthouse & magic - sweet gay romance

The Keeper (sweet gay romance), by Hollis Shiloh

One day after a storm, lonely lighthouse keeper Cole stumbles upon a half-drowned man. The man is a magician, who's forgotten everything, even his name. As the two wait for the supply boat to come and take him away from the island, Cole finds himself falling in love.

He doesn't think the beautiful blond man could ever return his feelings. But everything is not as it appears—including the man's past. And someone might just want him dead.

A sweet gay romance 

15,000 + words long


I taught him to fish. He didn't use magic for that. He looked alive when he was staring into the water, sitting on a large rock, just gazing down as if he saw more and deeper than anyone else.

"Why don't you use magic to help you?" I asked, when his bait got eaten for the seventh time without the hook catching in any fish's mouth. He might as well just be feeding them!

He shrugged. "It wouldn't be fair. If I'm not good enough to catch them on my own, then I deserve to fail."

I looked at him, re-baiting my own hook. "I hope you'd feel differently if we ever needed the food."

"Oh yes. But we won't, will we?" He looked at me closely. "You have enough supplies, even with me eating?" He looked quite concerned about it.

"Of course," I reassured him. "Especially when we fish every day."

He sat back, looking somewhat relieved. But I noticed him trying harder after that, and soon he was losing fewer pieces of bait.

I cooked fish every evening, soup and sandwiches most of the rest of the time. It was simple fare, but he never complained. He seemed to enjoy my cooking. I had to wash clothing more frequently, because he was sharing my wardrobe now. 

He helped, and his magic made the clothes cleaner than they had ever been before.

For some reason, the sight of him with his sleeves rolled up, blowing bits of suds away from his face, elbow-deep in wash water, made me harder than I had ever been before. I walked down to the shore quickly, to get away from him.

If he guessed how I was affected by him, he never said anything. He never looked at me with disgust. He helped around the house as much as I'd let him, and was an altogether charming houseguest. In the evenings, he curled up in the chair by the fire, and we talked or read. 

Except I was growing sick with longing for him. It was physical, and it was more than physical; I had been alone for a long time, and my heart was as lonely and attention-starved as my body. I longed to touch him, I longed to see him naked, and I longed to share my heart with him, to have him look at me with love. I knew they were impossible dreams I needed to squelch.

The only items he had that could give any clues to his identity were the clothes he'd arrived in. We looked through them carefully for labels or notes. Though of good quality, handmade by a clearly skilled tailor from expensive, well-cut cloth, there were no names or revealing words on them. 

I liked to see him wear them, and at the same time, I didn't like it at all. At least in my clothes he looked like a normal man, just one with excessively long legs and wide shoulders. It grew difficult to hide my attraction to him in his old clothes that fitted him so perfectly and showed him off to perfection.

His hair had lightened as I thought it would, and in the sun, it lightened further. He looked blond now in most lights. Except in the starlight, or by firelight: then his violet eyes looked dark and his hair black. I had never seen violet eyes before. I was fascinated by them and had to keep reminding myself not to stare.

  • As always, I will be glad to send free review copies!  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Man's Best Friend (free fiction)

This short story first appeared in the Dreamspinner Press August 2013 Newsletter as a free read.

Man's Best Friend 
By Hollis Shiloh

When Harlan walked down the row of barking dogs at the shelter, he knew he was a goner as soon as he saw those big, bright eyes. The Border collie mix with the mismatched ears looked up at him, head tilted on the side, as if waiting for someone.

Hard to leave a dog like that at the SPCA, especially when Harlan was looking for a buddy, a companion to ease his loneliness in a new town and a new job. If meeting a wonderful man didn't seem to be in his cards right now, at least a dog might be.

When Harlan walked the dog, he kept pace easily, as though he could walk all day, right in tune with Harlan, as if on a mission. A funny-looking, beautiful dog with odd-colored ears, one black, one white.

Harlan filled out the papers, passed the background check, and paid the adoption fee, and soon, he was bringing home a bright-eyed dog.

He named him Checkers, for his black and white patterns.

The first few days passed in a bliss of getting to know each other. It didn't take him long before Checkers was sleeping on the end of his bed, a furry, friendly warmth, comforting him through the night. Checkers went from stranger to friend to pal, and was rapidly working his way towards Man's Best Friend.

Then one day, a stranger knocked at the door. Harlan walked to get it, Checkers following politely by his side, as the dog so often did.

Harlan opened the door.

A stranger stood there, a man with a half-grown beard and tired, startlingly pale blue eyes. He looked thin in the face, his clothes old and too big for him.

"I think you may have my dog."

Checkers launched himself at the stranger, barking joyously, wagging his tail, his whole body, harder than Harlan had ever seen before. Something caught in Harlan's throat, a bitter, hurt longing. This oddly handsome, down-on-his-luck man was going to take away the one friend he'd made.

Harlan opened the door, frowning, as Checkers and the man greeted each other with more joy than you would think anything deserved. "Why don't you come in?" He held the door open, trying not to let the other man see his hurt and disappointment.

The man hunkered on the front step, roughhousing and hugging the dog. He raised his snapping blue gaze in his chiseled, handsome face and smiled a shy, sweet smile. "Thank you."

"Would you care for some coffee?"

"That would be wonderful." The man stood in the middle of the kitchen, holding his dog in his arms. A powerful man, stronger than he had at first looked, despite being so thin in the face. His faded Army fatigues were baggy on his body, as if he'd recently lost weight.

"How did you come to lose him?" Harlan forced himself to ask.

"I lost my job and apartment. We were scraping by on the street. I worked odd jobs, and Buddy stuck close to me. We were getting by, and I was hoping to get back on my feet soon. Then I got pneumonia, ended up in the hospital. I just got out."

"Do you have anywhere to stay?" asked Harlan, blinking. He had the feeling this quiet man had been through a lot but wasn't going to complain about any of it.

The man lowered his gaze and petted his dog, who lolled and panted in his arms. It hurt Harlan to watch how much they loved each other. Would he never find someone--even a dog--who loved him that much?

"We'll be fine," said the man.

"I don't even know your name." Harlan motioned him towards a kitchen chair and brought over two steaming coffee cups.

"Fletch Carol." He held a firm hand out to shake.

"Harlan Brody. Pleased to meet you."

Fletch stroked his dog's black-and-white fur. "I guess he'd have a better home with you. No guarantee I won't end up back in the hospital." His voice was quiet and resigned.

"I wouldn't dream of it," said Harlan heartily. He found himself adding, "Unless you'd like to stay, too?"

The man's gaze rose slowly, disbelievingly to meet his. "What?"

Harlan found he was beginning to blush. "It would be no trouble. You could stay on my couch till you get on your feet."

"I thank you kindly, but I can't let you--"

"Why not?" asked Harlan quietly. "You served overseas, didn't you? I think you deserve a place to sleep off the streets. If nobody else can give that to you right now, I can."

Fletch's gaze stayed on the dog as he stroked it gently. "I thank you kindly," he said softly, in a suspiciously tight voice. "It's been a while--" He cleared his throat and stroked his dog harder. Then he looked up, his eyes bluer than ever. "Been a while since anybody was kind to me for no reason."

And Harlan smiled. "There's a reason. I'll get to be around your dog a little longer."

And your beautiful blue eyes. 

The first few awkward days stretched into comfortable weeks. As Fletch recovered strength from his illness, the pinched, haunted look began to leave his face. He would always be a quiet, contained, reserved man. But when he was playing with his dog, or laughing at a TV show the two men watched together, his eyes came alive, practically glowed.

Harlan found them, and the rest of Fletch, more beautiful every day. He told himself not to be crazy. He wasn't going to get a crush on an ex-soldier. He liked artsy men, guys who discussed books and obscure bands.

Except apparently, he liked Fletch best of all.

He hid it. No one must ever know how much it meant to him, sitting side by side on the couch, the snoring dog stretched over both their feet.

The truth was, he was a goner as soon as he saw those big blue eyes.

Then came the day Fletch returned home, a spring in his step that hadn't been there before, his eyes practically glowing. "I got a job." He thumped Harlan on the shoulder and laughed. "That means I can get my own place. I won't be beholden to you anymore, pal."

"Great." Harlan turned away to hide the quick, bitter hurt in his face. You're leaving me and taking the dog too. That's a good thing? 

"Also means I can do this," said Fletch in a gruff, shy voice. He moved up behind Harlan and slid his arms around his middle. A surprisingly soft pair of lips pressed against Harlan's neck in a little kiss, and then another, sending shivers all up his spine.

"W-what are you doing?" asked Harlan, a tiny tremor in his voice. He held very still.

"Kissing you," said Fletch. "If you don't mind."

"Um. I don't." He twisted around in Fletch's arms, to do it properly. "But you're not--"

"I'm not?" asked Fletch with a soft laugh. His eyes shone with such affection. He pulled Harlan into a real, honest-to-goodness kiss.

Buddy, a.k.a. Checkers, tried to squeeze between them to get in on the affection, wagging his tail so hard there was a cold breeze.

Harlan pulled Fletch in for another sweet kiss.

~/the end/~

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

in other news~

I loved this article.  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it!!

Tom Ford and Richard Buckley Forever

In other news, my short story "Man's Best Friend" was featured as the free read in Dreamspinner's August newsletter.  :D  I had so much fun writing that story.  (Naturally it involved a dog, with a title like that.)  I'm hoping to repost it here soon, if possible.  :)

Oh, and it looks like I'll be self-publishing Songs By Heart, my first gay romance novel.  Dreamspinner didn't want it.  I don't know when I'll have it ready; it's going to take some work!

Dreamspinner DID want, and will be publishing, another novella of mine, "Brian's Mate," my first shifter romance.  It's a bit different (lots of family dynamics and not a lot of intimate scenes), and I'm surprised they wanted it to be honest.  But I'm pleased!  :)  Wait, does that make it sound like I think all shifter romances are about intimate scenes?  Um...that's so not my plan!!

Also, I'm now in the editing stage working with my editors on "You Were Always the One," my contemporary novella Dreamspinner is releasing in November.  I like this story a lot, and recently ended up writing a sequel.  Shall be sending it in shortly to see if they want it, too.

Haha, I just found the beginning of my draft for "You Were Always the One" in a wildly wrongly titled Google Document page.  :)  It says I lasted edited it on January 24, so that means I started it that day or a few days earlier.  Interesting; I don't usually keep track of when I start my stories.  Perhaps I should?

Anyway, writing things are going fairly well.  I'm writing a really fun story when I can get the time, though I've mostly been editing lately.  I also have an idea for another selkie-themed romance, but I haven't started it yet.  :)  I had an idea for a romance between an illegal immigrant migrant worker and the man who saves his life, and I started writing it, but to be honest I don't know if it's going anywhere.  It feels a bit dull when I read it, whereas in my head it's absolutely brilliant.  Maybe it's another for the 'nope' folder.

I have been reading advice about finishing and publishing or submitting every story one writes.  I haven't done it.  I probably never will; I'd just get writer's block more often if I knew I didn't have the choice of quietly putting a story in a folder somewhere and forgetting it.  But I am putting a lot of stuff out there and hoping some of it finds the mark.  It's fun.  :)  I don't know how long this creativity and motivation will last, but I'm enjoying it for the present.

I still have a huge quantity of started and set aside stories and story ideas floating about on my desktop, though.

Charlie & Leo

Working for a sweet little old lady author is more dangerous than one would think. Especially when Charlie Roberts finds himself falling for his dangerously attractive co-worker.

Prickly and wary, Charlie promised himself he'd never trust another man again, after his uncle sexually abused him. But then he meets Leo Cooper....

Setting: 1970s England

Angst: oh yes

Happy ending: yes

Length: approx. ~15,000 words