[FICTION] The Terrible Forgiveness of Michael Shale

It was a sunny day at the start of April, a month little-appreciated, when Michael Shale set out to have a day of forgiveness.

It had come to him late the night before, as he was taking receipt of a boot to the head from a gentleman who held strong views on Michael’s conduct and antecedents, that the holding of grudges caused a great quantity of strife in his neighbourhood. Big Sal and Galway Jimmy had, for example, vowed to slit each other’s throats over some tit-for-tat dispute all had forgotten the roots of, and while the rumpus promised to be entertaining it would doubtless draw the attentions of the short and easily-distracted arm of the law.

Whom, Michael thought in a flash of spring inspiration as he pressed a two-cent steak to his bruised face, really held the medal as first-place professional grudge-holders.

Michael was forced to postpone his Christian act as the rigours of the previous night, and Reggie Johnson, with whom he had shared many of these rigours and who was indeed best described as rigorous in all things (especially sharing), demanded his full attention.

When at last his duties to Reggie and the demands of the flesh, both pleasant and otherwise, had been discharged, Michael set about his plan to lead by example.

He left his basement room and ascended the steps with his hat almost tipped enough to hide his swollen face, and the moment his shoes touched the sidewalk, why, there was his first opportunity!

For here was Joe Jefferson, who’d stiffed him a dime last week, all haloed in the dusty light of a fine spring morning.

God moves in mysterious ways, thought Michael, much-satisfied, and he doffed his hat to Joe Jefferson and cried, “Joe! You rascal! Last week you stiffed me a dime!”

Now Joe Jefferson startled, for Michael Shale was a fine body of a man and despite his sour luck the night before and his Saturday night rouge habit, he was known to have a right hook that could swiftly introduce a fellow to the floor.

And when Joe Jefferson startled, two gossipy young things who leaned on the stairs leading up to the second floor rooms startled too.

“Yeah I did,” said Joe Jefferson, who was noted as a man whose chief route out of any hole he found himself in was to dig further, “What of it?”

“What of it?” cried Michael, as he began his walk through Harlem, “Why, I forgive you, Joe Jefferson, that’s what of it! And by God when I find the man who put the boot to my face last night, I shall forgive him too.”

Joe Jefferson received this blessing with a scowl and said to the gossipy young things at the stoop, “That kick to the head turned that fairy’s brain all right.”

But Michael Shale went on his way, ready to forgive.

***

At the General Store at the corner, where boys like to hang around and pinch and poke and shove each other (and sometimes Michael), he came across Father Abraham.

Father Abraham had a newspaper under his arm and his usual string bag of canned ham on his arm and a big broad-brimmed hat, and he was engaged in telling young Herbie Mitchell why it was unChristian to kick cats. He was unhampered by the absence of any direct repudiation of such behaviour in the scriptures, for neither he nor his unwilling audience had read them much.

“Shale,” said Father Abraham, who did not like to call a man ‘Mister’ unless he felt the fellow deserved it, “What are you about at this hour? Have you no job to go to?”

“Why Father, my work is in the evenings, over at Forty-Second Street,” said Michael, almost forgetting his original mission, “as so many of your parishioners know, coming to our theater for their Sunday instead of to your Church!”

The boys outside the General Store laughed and snickered, and none laughed harder than Herbie Mitchell, to see Father Abraham – Father Cans-of-Ham, they called him – given lip by a fairy, and a Negro, no less!

Father Abraham himself said a quite ungodly word.

“As to what I’m about,” said Michael, recalling his purpose, “On Tuesday you called me a layabout n*gger.”

“That I did, for that’s what you are,” Father Abraham said, drawing himself up like a man who is ready for a blow to the jaw, and who means to weather it with dignity. “And I see in the shade of your hat that a less kindly man than I gave you a much-deserved thrashing, you, you loitering degenerate!”

The boys outside the General Stores tittered and gasped, for Father Abraham being a man of whiter hue had turned a lobsterish red in his righteousness!

“Indeed I’ve had a rough night,” said Michael, removing his hat in belated greeting, “And indeed I am seeking the perpetrator. But I’m no layabout, Father, and first I must address these ill words you have used upon me.”

“And just what do you propose to do?” Father Abraham asked in a far littler voice than before, for Michael was near a foot taller than he and the word of the Lord has historically failed to prevent many a martyr from meeting his maker at the hands of more muscular men.

“To forgive you, of course,” said Michael, replacing his hat, and his smile was bright in the morning sun. “It is the Christian thing.”

“So it is,” said Father Abraham with not much conviction and watering eyes. “So it is.”

And Michael Shale went on his way, leaving Father Abraham to let out a large breath, and Herbie Mitchell to say, “Some slap that fairy’s had, to make him talk that way!”

***

At the Subway Station, where three Italian fairies called Miss Pell, Miss Give, and Miss Take – or Angelo, Antonio, and Giovanni Cesare Claudio Pietro to their Mammas – liked to meet men who liked to meet fairies, Michael Shale stopped to buy a newspaper.

“Why Michael Shale,” said the newspaper boy, “you got yourself a real shiner right there.”

“Indeed I do,” said Michael, for indeed he did.

“Indeed she do,” sang Miss Pell, who had missed the whole fight that night and disliked it.

“Oh don’t she just,” trilled Miss Give, who’d missed the start, and was confused.

“And what a night,” called Miss Take, who’d seen the whole thing and loved it. “Hey Miss Shale, are you all right?”

“I got my mind made up,” said Michael, who did not like to be called Miss Shale when it was not a Saturday night, “to find the boot that kicked me.”

“Oooh,” said the fairies, and “oh,” said the newspaper boy, and “Get outta the goddamn road ya degenerates!” said the meat wagon man trying to pass them on a busy street.

“What’ll you do?” asked the newspaper boy.

“Yes, what’ll you do?” asked the Misses Pell, Give, and Take.

“Will you move you black behind?” cried the meat wagon man, whose sausages were starting to spoil.

“Forgive him” said Michael, serene as the sunshine, “it’s the Christian thing.”

“I’m Jewish,” said the newspaper boy.

“Even so,” said Michael Shale.

“I heard it was Leggy Tom,” said Miss Pell, who heard a lot of rumours.

“I think it was Fat Bob,” said Miss Give, and pinched her.

“It was Greasy Ray,” screeched Miss Take, making half the street stare, “what are you, goddamn blind, Miss Give? You was there.”

“Much obliged,” said Michael, and he raised his hat. “Take care now, ladies.”

“Now who does she think she’s fooling with all this ‘forgive’,” sighed Miss Pell, but Michael Shale went on his way, and the meat wagon man took his spoiling sausages on his, too.

***

When Michael Shale got to the City College, where all the smart girls walked fast in their calf-length skirts, he saw Maimie Reed, who just last month threatened to write Michael’s Momma back home and tell her what life he was leading.

Maimie Reed tossed her head – her hair was set and carefully kept and her hat by the way almost covered it all – and said, “Hello Michael, I see you took a beating. Did it set you to rights?”

“It’ll take more than a bruise to kick the fairy out of me,” said Michael Shale, and he lifted his hat so that she could see what a fine bruise it was. “Miss Reed, you have been bearing tales.”

Miss Reed hoisted her books, which had long titles in French and in Latin and in Math, which was harder, and she said, “Not yet, but if you don’t mend your ways, Michael Shale, I’ll write to my Auntie and you’ll catch H-E-L-L.”

“Now Maimie, that isn’t nice,” said Michael, and he put on his hat again. “But I forgive you.”

Maimie gave a great snort and she said, “You’ll get worse than a bruise one day soon.”

“Well perhaps,” said Michael, “but at present I’m away to find Greasy Ray and talk to him about this one he’s given to me.”

“Now don’t you go starting fights,” Maimie sighed, for she knew her cousin was a lost cause. “If you get yourself arrested again you’ll break your Momma’s heart.”

“Who said anything about fights?” cried Michael, already on the move, “I only mean to forgive him.”

“And if I believe that, I’ll believe anything,” said Maimie Reed to herself, and she hitched up her books, which were sliding.

But Michael Shale went on his way with a song in his heart and a sunbeam on his hat, ready to forgive.

***

He found Greasy Ray where Greasy Ray was always to be found; hanging around the Childs on Forty-Second Street like a bad stink, his feet on a seat and so much Brillantine in his hair that he looked like a motor oil spill.

Word travels faster than a man on foot, Michael Shale saw, for a waiter he knew in ways of which Father Abraham did not approve raised up his thin eyebrows and said, “I hear you’re in the forgiveness business now, Miss Shale.”

“That I am,” said Michael, for that he was. And he took off his hat. “And I’ve a man in mind.”

“I’ll tell him,” said the waiter, with a smile that meant no good, for he loved a cat-fight as much as his manager hated them, though he was never in them himself. “He’s been waiting on you while I’ve been waiting on him, if you know what I mean.”

Greasy Ray was awash with sweat and his fingers drilled out a syncopation on the table top like the finest beat-man in the Cotton Club, for he’d heard Michael Shale “forgave” Joe Jefferson and he did not believe it; and he’d heard Michael Shale “forgave” Father Abraham, and he did not believe it; and he hadn’t heard that Michael Shale also forgave his cousin Maimie Reed – for she was not the kind of girl who knew the likes of Greasy Ray – but had he heard he’d have hardly believed it either.

It is fair to say that hasty-hoofed heavily-pomaded young man with the harsh opinions on Michael Shale’s conduct was now sorely rattled.

“Shale!” he cried, leaping to his feet as Michael came to his table. “What’s all this – what brings you – that is, I say – what do you want?”

Holding his hat in his hands, Michael said, “Oh, since you ask, Ray, I’d like an apology for some things you said last night.”

All the faces in the Childs on Forty-Second Street this fine spring afternoon were turned on Greasy Ray like a handful of scrubbed spotlights on a Broadway soloist, and Greasy Ray’s courage – never of much size – gave out, and Greasy Ray’s pride – somewhat larger, but manageable – got swallowed under their gaze.

“It’s yours!” cried Ray, too fast, and hot about the cheeks.

“And for messing up my hair,” said Michael, severely.

“Sure! I’m sorry,” said Ray, clearly. He’d lost track of his hands, and so wrapped them around each other like a pastor, to keep them safe from getting lost again.

“And bruising my eye,” said Michael, pointing to it.

“Right! I shouldna!” sang Ray, in a real fever of contrition.

“Very good,” said Michael, content. “Then I forgive you.”

Greasy Ray squinted, which did little to improve him. The waiter with the thin eyebrows squinted, but he didn’t need improving. The horde at Childs on Forty-Second Street squinted, and held their breath, for they were past improvement.

“Eh?” said Ray, ready to flinch. “That’s all?”

“That’s all?” complained the waiter, who’d been hoping for a fight.

“That’s all?” sighed the disappointed customers, who’d heard stories about this Childs. Most of them were true – but they happened at night.

“Sure,” said Michael, with a great big smile. “For now.”

“Listen, pal, if you’re going to slug me one, get it over with, all right,” trembled Ray in testy tremolo, braced for a swing.

Michael leaned close and raised his hand, until he cast a deep shadow over the greasy little white man, and he tapped Greasy Ray tenderly on the cheek with no more than the breath of a feather.

“No,” he said, as sunny as the day, “I shall not.”

And Michael Shale left the Childs on Forty-Second Street well-satisfied, ready to take all the rest of April in his real long stride (as only a fairy can).

THE END


The author has, as may be apparent, been combining period research on 1920s Manhattan (prices, some slang, and locations may be assumed to be therefore at least vaguely accurate) with idly reading  Vile Bodies as part of his recuperation from surgery. 

Tips may be left here if you enjoyed the story.

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[COMICS] LUKE

Emma Weakley, my lovely artist collaborator on Bad Boys And Where To Find Them, has miraculously deigned to work with me on something again despite me being an awful pain in the ass who writes very bad scripts.

This is a work I wrote a while back under the influence of a quote by E M Forster.

“A happy ending was imperative. I shouldn’t have bothered to write otherwise. I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows, and in this sense Maurice and Alec still roam in the greenwood.”

(E.M. Forster, Terminal note of Maurice – p. 236)

Effectively Morgan says, you must be your own fairytale when there is no fairytale available. Be the self-discovery romance fiction you want to see in the world. And so on.

Here then is Luke.

If you have enjoyed Emma’s art, she has a comic out, That Kind Of Planet. If you’ve enjoyed my writing here, why not buy me a coffee?

It’s Here! It’s Queer! It’s all smoke and mirrors, I fear!

Step right this way, step inside, and see the greatest show ever to amaze your senses and baffle your mind. Watch! As a budding friendship is slowly but completely transformed before your very eyes! Marvel! At how stupid four very intelligent young people can actually be when confronted with life’s mysteries! Gasp! With indignation at the skullduggery and bad manners brought in the pursuits of love, fame, wealth, and let’s be honest, a lot more wealth. Blush! At some of the language! Laugh! Primarily at some of those waistcoats! Tremble! At the revelation of worlds beyond worlds and compacts most rare and Faustian!

Buy! This! Book!

Buy it:

On Amazon Kindle (US | UK), on Lulu (print | eBook), on iBooks, on Nook, on Kobo…

What’s it about? What’s it about? You’ve heard all this and you still need to know more? Allow me:

The year is 1900. An Earl, an engineer, a suburban philosopher, and an enigma meet at University and make a pact to learn the art of conjuring.

But nothing among the friends is quite as it seems, and soon the happy four are plunged into worlds of political activism, crime, despair, sordid trysts, and a Faustian compact which seems set to threaten their very lives, one by one…

Circling closer

The time has come for another book to be released into the wild, to flourish where it can, like a weed, and hopefully sow fertile seeds in the imagination. Or at least take up some prime real estate on someone’s bookshelf, which is of course identical to becoming an important part of their inner life.

The year is 1900. An Earl, an 
engineer, a suburban philosopher, 
and an enigma meet at University
and make a pact to learn the art
of conjuring…

Consider yourself warned: the rabbit is out of the hat and the cat is out of the bag.

New Book Cover: The Breaking of M

I enjoyed making the cover for Saint Grimbald’s Men so much that I decided to take another of Ms Reilly’s photographs and make a similar one for The Breaking of MAs the latter is also an eBook only, it’s easier to change covers on a whim. Do you think this one is better? Or was the old one more suitable to the story?

new breaking of m cover

No change to the actual book itself, although I took the opportunity to make the listing on Amazon a little clearer about the book’s content (because I do read my reviews, and when people are commenting that they got a different book to the one they expected, even when they downloaded it on one of the free offer days, I listen).

Book Release: Saint Grimbald’s Men

After the fashion of Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates, I’m letting this little story go on the Kindle for a pittance. At some point when I’ve amassed enough of these little stories I’ll put them together in a print collection, like I did with Tiny Fictions, so if you’re all about the dead tree format (and I don’t blame you, there is great satisfaction in being able to throw a book you don’t like across the room, and deleting something from your Kindle just isn’t the same!) don’t worry, it will eventually come to pass in a throwable, self-fillable format as well.

Unlike Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates, this is also available as a PDF, without fussing about with Amazon’s interface (and profit margin); just pop me an email at [myname] at gmail dot com and ask about Paypal (it’ll be the same price as it’s listed on Amazon).

A grim tale.
A grim tale.

Unlike the roller derby story, this is very much not a sweet tale about overcoming the odds and learning to believe in yourself; instead it’s about the terrible consequences of repression, as expressed by body horror in a monastery. Or at least, I decided it was about the terrible consequences of repression: it’s actually about two monks who fall in love.

The Kindle edition is available from here ( .com instead of .co.uk if you’re not in the UK, obviously) , for a cover price of $0.99 USD or whatever that is in your local currency (in mine it usually works out at about 77p). For a sample of some of my fiction that you don’t have to pay for (besides the free previews on Lulu etc), there’s this.

And if you enjoyed the cover photograph, it is the work of one J. Reilly, and you can find more of her photography here.

Hot Maud-on-Maud Action

One of the side-effects of Having an Aspergers and mainlining every single one of the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters has been an increased interest in the period of history they’re set in, The Anarchy. It’s a bit of a misleading name, since there’s no uprising and the chaotic nature of life within the struggle for power seems to be ascribed to them long after by Victorian historians.

Ellis Peters goes into some (whimsical) depth about the personality and characteristics of the battling monarchs, casting Stephen of Blois as a good man but indecisive king prone to abandoning his projects if they did not give up fruit almost immediately (in which Stephen and I have an embarrassing amount in common), and the Empress Maud/Matilda as a great general but too given to arrogance and alienating her allies by not knowing when to forgive them. Stephen gets the accolade of being “extremely wealthy, well-mannered, modest and liked by his peers” on Wikipedia, which is probably about as reliable as the novels: Maud receives “less popular with contemporary chroniclers than Stephen; in many ways she took after her father, being prepared to loudly demand compliance of her court, when necessary issuing threats and generally appearing arrogant”. The third party in this scuffle – after Stephen was taken captive in Lincoln in 1141 – was Stephen’s wife, Queen Matilda also known as Maud. So far little has been said of her in the books, beyond an aside of the effect that the Queen is a more ruthless leader or at least better general than her imprisoned husband. Obviously this is Ellis Peters’ character’s opinion, and the actual character of monarchs from nearly 900 years ago must remain to some extent a mystery, but it was enough to pique my interest in the two Mauds.

The coronation of King Stephen

Women characters in Ellis Peters’ Cadfael books tend to hold a surprisingly good position: constrained by a lack of legally recognised social power, they still manage to assert themselves in every other area of their lives, often possessing as much drive, deviousness, or physical stamina as their male counterparts. They come in a full and fruitful variety of personalities, each of them with their own motive, however venal or misguided, and even the meekest and most withdrawn of them can be roused to action. The question of why Brother Cadfael was not Sister Magdalen (who has a certain amount of influence in the books even as it is) can only be answered with “because she wouldn’t have been able to range as freely”: I feel sure that Ellis Peters could just as well have had a detective heroine.

The Empress was betrothed to the Holy Roman Emperor before she turned ten, and was crowned Queen of the Romans while only eight or nine: continuing her eventful early life, she was married at twelve, and had already done a measure of her growing up in a foreign court with none of her father’s family in attendance. One could perhaps forgive her from developing a somewhat abrasive personality in order to protect herself, and perhaps parallels can be drawn with the equally ambitious and married-in-early-life Margaret Beaufort (Countess of Richmond and Derby), who gave the world Henry Tudor (and later acted as regent for Henry VIII). Certainly the Empress was determined to win as much as humanly possible for both herself and her son, who succeeded from Stephen under the terms of the Treaty of Winchester. Unfortunately while this tendency to behave in a haughty and imperious manner may have been a useful survival tactic at first, it seems to have become entrenched and later proved detrimental, driving away potential allies: this attitude may have gone down better during her time as regent to her first husband, Henry V (the Holy Roman Emperor) in Italy, or she may just have been growing impatient with being denied the throne she perceived as rightfully hers, having been named as her father’s successor.

It should be noted here that Stephen was not exactly an exemplar of biddability, and both seized the crown from an absent woman to whom he had previously sworn allegiance, and imprisoned Archbishop Theobald towards the end of the civil war, for refusing to anoint his son Eustace as king while Stephen was still living (this was the practice in France, where Eustace already held land, but Pope Celestine II had banned its adoption in England).

The Queen, on the other hand, seems to have had a better turn at diplomacy (negotiating the exchange of prisoners Robert of Gloucester – the Empress’s half-brother and supposedly her most effective military figure – and the King), and a less enormously turbulent early life. The two Mauds were of roughly the same age, but while the Empress excelled in gathering the power-hungry under her banner, the Queen managed to rally the turncoat friends of Stephen – the war produced an unflattering number of about-faces from many, including Stephen’s own brother Henry – and with William of Ypres turned the tide of the war while Stephen was still imprisoned. One gets the impression that while the Empress was the more imposing figure, she was too unyielding to be able to manage the progression of her campaign as effectively as the Queen might.

The Queen Consort, Matilda (Maud) of Boulogne

Although history and the demands of power struggles in Europe pitted these women briefly against each other, I do not mean to hold them up as adversaries and play a puerile game of “who was better”. Far from it: I have something entirely more puerile in mind. Having read a little about both of these capable, ambitious, interesting, and clearly very intelligent women (although the Empress clearly needs to work on her humility), I’m quite keen on the idea of, as the title of this post even more puerilely suggests, some kind of historical romance alternate universe story in which the vagrancies of the civil war bring them into contact first as opponents and then as lovers. It could be quite a moving and plausible invention in the hands of anyone who does slightly more research than, say, Terry Deary.

Kindle Books Summary

Kindle Direct Publishing have done a thing with their payment systems that conceivably leads to me actually getting the money I’ve earned from them, so I thought now might be as good a time as any to talk everyone through the works of mine that are available via the Kindle store (most of the publications, in fact).

As Delilah Des Anges

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The Other Daughter is a revenge tragedy with comedic elements. It’s set in a fictional Midwest town in the United States and begins with a female soldier returning from a (fictional) second US war against Korea – in this case North Korea. It involves magic, bloodshed, and a heroine whose motivation is highly questionable and whose moral compass has been somewhat distorted both my the events she’s come to avenge herself over and by the events which have led her back home. I wrote the mainstay of this book in 2006 and I think it’s probably the darkest of my novels. And it’s $1.99 on the Kindle Store. [Price given in dollars because that’s the constant: the link goes to the UK store, but the US store has it too, as do the German, French, Italian, etc.]. I made a more fulsome post about this one when I launched it.

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Protect Me From What I Want, written in 2010, uses the 2008 Haut de la Garenne case on Jersey as a jumping-off point for a first-person reported narrative which is less about police work than it is about the detective in question failing to notice that he’s having a breakdown. I’d wanted to write this story for a while, in part because there are thorny questions of morality involved: what makes something unacceptable and something else acceptable? Since writing this there has been the catastrofuck that is the unfolding Jimmy Savile case (if you’re not from the UK and haven’t heard about this I don’t advise Googling as it was pretty grim), the central questions of consent and morality have become retroactively even more complicated. It’s also $1.99 on the Kindle Store, and despite the subject matter is probably a little less dark than The Other Daughter.

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How Not To Write By Someone Who Doesn’t is the most popular thing I have put on the Kindle Store under my own name. I’d like to say that it’s because it’s a vital and accessible work dealing with the realities of writing but I’m pretty sure the fact that it’s cheap and reasonably no-nonsense probably has more to do with it. It’s a selection of essays and exercises filtering everything I was taught at university while studying creative writing and everything I’ve learnt since into some bossy directions on, mostly, sitting the fuck down and writing. If that’s the kind of writing advice you think you or someone in your life needs, do get it, because I’m fantastic at motivating people to work by, uh, yelling at them until they do. Also it’s cheap: $0.99 USD on the Kindle Store, and the Kindle version has a couple of pieces which aren’t in the print version so you’re getting more bang for less buck.

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Year of the Ghost: Collect Poems 2011 is as it says on the cover, a year’s worth of poetry. It covers a lot of topics, and a lot of death, because 2011 was a year of prominent deaths and upheavals, which means it’s less something you’d want to read for light and uplifting amusement (although there are some uplifting poems within), and more something for expressing bigger emotions. I posted at greater length about this when it was launched last year. It’s available only for eReaders (as an ePub and for the Kindle), and on the Kindle Store cost the princely sum of $1.55 USD.

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Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates, a short fable on on the importance of achieving things under your own steam without taking any shortcuts, is also about rollerderby, which means it is at least nine times more awesome than it would otherwise be. More here. This little tidbit of fiction is also a Kindle exclusive, which means if you’re an Amazon prime member and don’t fancy paying $0.99 like everyone else, you can borrow it for free.

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Pass the Parcel, set in alternate London and dealing with a complex and interlocking selection of lives linked by the passage of a small blue statue, took about eight years from first idea to final draft, maybe slightly longer. It’s a labour of love and of tendinitis, filled with enough different and striking characters that you’re almost certain to find one you like, and failing that if you don’t fall in love with this version of London I have failed in my mission. Print costs for something this long are exorbitant, so by buying it for the Kindle at $1.99 you are saving a lot of money.

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Tiny Fictions 2011 is the combined might of four miniature books of short stories, which despite the title have come from across the reaches of writerly time and not just 2011 (the original instalments were all published in 2011, hence the title). There is an infinite of variety of genres, characters, endings, and matter in these stories, from romance to crime to horror to fairytales to fantasy to lurid dreamscapes: some of the stories are so short you can devour them in a minute or two, and some are long enough to last a whole train journey. This galaxy of variable stars costs $1.99 on the Kindle Store and enriches your life.

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Know Your Words, the first book I published, is an anthology of poetry by three writers. Myself, House to Astonish‘s very own Al Kennedy, and Bostonian burlesque queen and performance poet Amy. We have different, complementary styles: Al’s is conversational, friendly, and often upbeat, riven with good humour; Amy’s is incisive, personal, and cutting, drawing comparisons with Denise Duhamel; mine is rambling and broad, taking in a number of styles and subjects, including SCIENCE. This sweet collection is also only $1.99 on the Kindle Store.

As Melissa Snowdon

Why a separate name for these books? Branding, pure and simple. Don’t screw your face up in disgust: it’s just a convenient way of putting the fluffy romance/erotica books in a different category to the more serious work. If you see Melissa Snowdon on the cover you know you’re getting something different to what you’re getting if you pick up a Delilah Des Anges book. They’re generally a lot less heavy on the plot and a lot more heavy on the gentlemen having sexy funtimes with other gentlemen, for one, and can usually be relied upon for a happy ending.

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The Breaking of M is a first-person meandering erotica/romance novel set in the 1600s and spanning the world from Venice to Mexico in the age of colonialism. It follows some of the fortunes of inveterate liar, former pirate and current spy, dandy, and hedonistic bisexual Matimeo Calvisia: Matimeo meets his match in arrogant, bossy and youthful Padre Vito Alessandro Bonifatigo, and finds himself at the mercy of an altogether more frightening prospect in the New World. This story contains lashings of BDSM and ridiculous happenstance, and is best suited for scratching very specific itches. A Kindle exclusive, it’s $1.99 or free if you’re an Amazon Prime member: there’s a slightly longer post about it here.

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The Curious Case of the Firecrotch: This is why we don’t write our memoirs while drunk, Wil is a cheesy, tongue-in cheek tribute to and pastiche of both the traditional noir detective and 70s trash pulp gay erotica. It’s also my first collaboration with a deeply irreverent friend, who is writing under the name Dionysia Hill because she doesn’t take this “writing” business very seriously (a salutatory lesson for us all). It’s the story of perpetually broke and perpetually drunk private eye Wil Kemp and his reluctantly-taken caseload, trying to pay his rent, avoid being shot for poking his nose in where it doesn’t belong, and find the missing boyfriend of a cute redhead that he’d rather be sleeping with himself. Ms Hill’s contribution to this work is that it’s snappy, sharp, and has a genuinely heart-warming ending. Also, at a wallet-bendingly low price of $0.99 USD it’s probably a worthwhile investment: more details on the launch post.

If you don’t have a Kindle

Never fear: the majority of these are available in print too. In fact there are a few titles (For the Love of a CityKissing Carrion #1, and Shots in the Dark) which are only available in print/PDF format.

New Book Release: The Breaking Of M – A Kindle Exclusive

The Breaking of M
A 16th century romance

Matimeo Calvisia, spy and rake, finds himself in 16th-century Venice and faced with an apparently insurmountable challenge: the widely-read but narrowly-lived Padre Vito Bonifatigo is calling his credentials into question. The prickings of Matimeo’s pride lead him through a moral maze and dog him all the way across the Atlantic, but sooner or later something has to give…

Available from the Amazon Kindle Store only, this ridiculous tale of swash, buckle, and a lot of kissing should keep you entertained for a good many commutes. It has intrigue! Romance! And men wearing dresses! Bandits! Pirates! Spies! And someone who is hilarious inept at riding a horse!

This no doubt staggering work of literature can be on your Kindle/Kindle-app-supporting-device for the princely sum of $1.99 USD, which Amazon informs me is currently about £1.30, a price at which most Londoners would be hard-pressed to find much else, including a cup of tea.

You may notice that the author name on this book is “Melissa Snowdon” rather than “Delilah Des Anges”; it’s still me, I’m just engaging in what I’m informed is called brand management. Basically, since The Breaking of M is a rather different tone and genre to the rest of my books, it’s sensible to have it under a nom-de-plume and not confuse strangers too much with the sudden change in tempo.

That aside: please buy my book! Read my book! Recommend it to your friends! If you want to, obviously.