Last Stop in our September Sylph Series: Tooie

The last Thursday in September has fallen upon us, just like an anvil on a roadrunner.

I’m saddened that today is the day it is, because it marks the final day in our September Sylph Series, a weekly celebration of the burly, powerful, quirky battle sylphs in L.J. McDonald’s Sylph series. I’ve had more fun than I probably should have revisiting my favorite sylphs, but alas, they will always live on in the books I know and love.

Today I’m profiling Tooie, an adorable battler we meet in The Shattered Sylph. I think Tooie is just the cutest battle sylph EVER. Perhaps it’s because he can’t really talk, or maybe it’s the way he madly gesticulates to communicate, or maybe it’s just his dedication to his true love. Either way, although he’s a minor character, he’s still a personal favorite of mine.

Read on and enjoy!

Sylph (n): a mythological creature composed of the elements. The term, which originated in Paracelsus, commonly describes sylphs as invisible beings of air or “faeries of the air.” L.J. McDonald’s sylphs are either fire sylphs, air sylphs, water sylphs, earth sylphs, or battle sylphs. Battle sylphs are unique to L.J.’s original fantasy world; they are creatures of magic, unrelentingly male, who were traditionally bound to a male master in a sacrificial ritual. In L.J.’s debut, The Battle Sylph, everything changes when this dark ritual goes awry and a battle sylph is bound to a woman instead.

Name: Tooie (or #200 to his captors)

Species: Battle Sylph

Master: Tooie is a captive battle sylph, forced to fight against criminals for other’s entertainment.

First Appears In: Tooie is only in The Shattered Sylph (so far!). Lizzie (Leon’s daughter and heroine of The Shattered Sylph), is kidnapped and taken to a sort of sylph Colosseum, where she’s forced to serve as a plaything to captive sylphs in a harem (battle sylph are only happy when in the arms of a woman…). This is where she meets Tooie.

Personality: playful and caring.

Quirks: Tooie communicates in gestures (basically sign language).

Main Purpose in Life: Tooie is in love with Eapha, a slave girl in the sylph harem. The handlers of the battle sylphs don’t want them to love, but battle sylphs prefer monogamy. Tooie is completely committed to Eapha but is forced to pretend to be with other women in the harem so she doesn’t get hurt. All he wants is to find a way to be with her, and her alone.

Why I Love Him: Tooie, along with a few other battle sylphs, help protect Lizzie while she’s a captive. They take “shifts” pretending to sleep with her so she’s safe from the other, more aggressive, battle sylphs. Tooie knows Lizzie’s heart belongs to another (Ril), so he does everything he can to keep her safe until she’s back in his arms. There’s hilarious scenes where Tooie will be speaking to Lizzie in sign language while spastically jumping up and down on a mattress and banging on the walls to make the captors think he’s “with” Lizzie.

Tooie Quote: “He loved Eapha, Tooie did, had loved her since the first moment he had taken her in boredom to an alcove and accidentally tickled her, making her giggle. He’d been so enchanted, he’d tickled her again. She’d hit him with a pillow. He’d known he was lost from that instant, and yet they shared no bond; the patterns within him belonged to men, and his worship of Eapha was limited to her body alone. This newcomer [Ril] loved his lady [Lizzie] straight through her soul–and so Tooie, like all of the battlers outside, watched with hunger and rage but also guarded the couple, if only that they might continue to feel the pair’s pleasure and dream.”

So that marks the end of our September Sylph Series! To read more about Tooie, get your hands on a copy of The Shattered Sylph. Leave a comment below and let us know what you thought of our blog series, the Sylph books, or paranormals in general. We’ll be choosing a random commenter from the past 4 weeks to receive ALL THREE books in the series (in paperback!). The winner will be announced on Monday.

Thanks for tuning-in and sharing our enthusiasm for battle sylphs!


Dorchester Around the World

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?  With the influx of author submissions, galleys, and other materials sent to Dorchester, I get really excited to see boxes shipped to us.  Why do I get so excited for cardboard?  Because I know they have one of two things: new trade books, or new foreign issues of our books!  The foreign editions of our titles come across my desk often.  Most are amazing, and some I raise an eyebrow to; but with the constant flow of these foreign covers, it got me wondering how other countries and cultures interpret a story, and how they choose pictures and images to represent that story.  Sometimes the foreign covers are similar to Dorchester’s, and other times it takes a stretch of my imagination to understand the designer’s vision.  While working in the Production department, I’ve seen many covers and ideas come across the table.  It’s interesting how other cultures interpret the infamous Romance clinch cover.

While I appreciate foreign covers that stick with a similar theme or image, I found that I really love the foreign covers that allow a little more creativity.  In the German cover of Erin Kellison’s Shadow Bound, the artist still has a female figure, but I don’t think she is the focus.  In the U.S. cover, the figure stares straight at the reader, drawing her in with a mysterious atmosphere surrounding her.  The German cover features the profile of a starkly pale, yet luminous, young woman.  The highlighted sections around her face help illustrate the paranormal aspects of the text.  So, I’m stuck; what do y’all think?

The Polish cover of Leanna Renee Hieber’s A Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is stunning.  I love the psychedelic colors and the scene of London in the background.  The color on both covers pops off the bookshelf, and would definitely attract a reader’s attention.  I love the youthful font on the U.S. version of the cover, and there’s something intriguing about the ghostlike figure on the Polish cover.  Which is the people’s champ?

My opinion is great and all, but I want to hear from you.  Which is your favorite foreign cover!  Have you seen any more of your favorite Dorchester authors’ foreign covers?  Comment and share!

Can’t get enough?! Check out some more German editions of many Dorchester authors here!  P.S.  It helps if you can read German; if not, Google translate has become my new b.f.f.!

Western Wednesdays—RIO LOCO + Giveaway

Well folks, Barjack is back and you know what that means. Trouble. Trouble of the most amusing kind, at least for you, the reader. I can’t help but smile when I read a Barjack novel. The character’s got his own swagger and charm, he’s surrounded by the best and worst intentioned, and he can talk straight faced to someone named Owl Shit. And all that’s just the first chapter of Robert J. Conley’s latest, Rio Loco.

Giveaway: What do you think makes a good lawman on the printed page? Who are some of the characters who’ve worn the badge that have been your favorite? Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of Rio Loco.

Happy Reading,
Allison Carroll
Dorchester Publishing

Chapter One

I was just setting in my favorite chair in my own saloon, which was knowed as Harvey’s Hooch House on account of a previous owner, and I was drinking my favorite whiskey from a big tumbler, and mostly minding my own business, whenever Owl Shit come a-walking in and looking to me like as if he was a-looking for trouble. Course, there wasn’t nothing unusual about that. Owl Shit always looked thattaway. He was wearing his six-gun the way he always done. The holster on his loose-fitting belt was hanging right around in the dead center a’ the belt right smack in front, so it looked kinda like it was his damn pecker a-hanging down betwixt his legs. I reckoned he had done had him some whiskey somewhere on account a’ he seemed to be just a mite drunk already.

He kinda staggered up to the bar and knocked a couple a’ men sideways outta his way and banged his fist down on the bar. “Whiskey,” he hollered out. Aubrey was plumb down to the other end a’ the bar serving a drink to another feller. “Hey,” called Owl Shit. “Oberry. You hear me?”

“I’ll be right with you, Owl Shit,” said Aubrey.

“Now. I want whiskey now.”

“I’m coming.”

Well, I kinda scooted my chair back so I’d be ready to get up if it turned out to be called for, and I checked my Merwin Hulbert self-extracting revolver to be damn certain it was where I could get at it if I was to have need of it. I picked up my tumbler and had another long swig a’ that wonderful stuff. Damn, it was good. I begun to get pissed off that Owl Shit was disturbing my relaxing pleasure.

“Excuse me, sir,” said the cowhand on Owl Shit’s left, “but that’s my drink in front of you.”

Whenever Owl Shit had knocked him outta the way, he had stepped up to the bar right there where the feller had been a-standing. Owl Shit looked at the man and picked up the drink. “This’n?” he said.

“Yes.”

Owl Shit drank it down and put the glass on the bar in front a’ the man. “Thanks,” he said. Aubrey come up just then and set a glass in front of Owl Shit and brought out a bottle. He was about to pour a drink when Owl Shit grabbed the bottle outta his hand. “’Bout time,” he said.

“Owl Shit,” said Aubrey, “we don’t want no trouble in here today.”

“I ain’t going to start no goddamned trouble,” said Owl Shit. “Just leave the bottle here with me. That’s all.”

“You owe me a drink, mister,” said the cowhand to Owl Shit’s left.

“How’d you come up with that, dumb ass?” said Owl Shit.

“That first drink you had was mine.”

“I thanked you for it, di’n’t I?”

“Now, see here—“

But the cowhand never got nothing else out. Owl Shit whipped out his Colt and shot him point-blank in the chest. I think he hit him in the heart. Blood spurted out all over Owl Shit and all over the bar, and the poor cowboy leaned back on the bar with both his elbows and a real dumb look on his face. He was done dead. He slid down real slow till he was setting on the floor and leaning back against the bar.

I got up real damn fast and took about four long strides over to the bar. I come up behint Owl Shit as I was hauling out my Merwin Hulbert, and I whacked that damn bastard hard on top a’ his head. He stood there rocking for a minute, his head a-bobbing from side to side. Then he started in to turn his head and look at me, but just as he got his head around, he pitched forward, landing hard on the floor. I kicked his Colt across the floor on over to my table. My Bonnie come a-flopping down the stairs about then. “I heared a shot,” she said.

“It’s took care of,” I said. Then I turned to Aubrey. “Aubrey, go find my two worthless depitties and send them down here right away. Bonnie, sweet tits, you get behint the bar till Aubrey gets back.”

“Yes, sir, Barjack,” said Aubrey.

“And while you’re out, send the damn undertaker down.”

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BOOK + LOOK

Welcome to our new BOOK + LOOK series, where we match up
one of our favorite Dorchester novels with one of the season’s coolest trends.
Off the shelf or off the rack—the bookworm look is always in.

BOOK
Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison
There is something hauntingly different about Talia O’Brien, her unknowing sensuality, her uncanny way of slipping into Shadow . . . This is the dark place between life and what comes after—a dark forest of fantasy, filled with beauty, peril, mystery.

+

LOOK
Black Oversize Outerwear
I love these oversize, androgynous, or cocoon-like coats. They remind me of the immense and eerily beautiful shadows that Talia can magically summon to surround her (and those she wants to protect). While these pieces may not be able to defend you from a demon’s deadly kiss, they can definitely protect you from a winter chill. And until the wraith war begins, what else do you need?

(click to enlarge)

Karl Cocoon Coat by Boutique

Military Poncho by Oak

Parka by H&M

Doo Ri Fall 2011 RTW

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Did you read the book? Do you like the look?

I Spy…Dorchester covers in a Verizon iPad2 commercial!

Most of us fast forward through commercials these days, but even so the chances are good that you’ve seen the Verizon iPad2 commercial below. It’s on every channel these days and four of Dorchester’s titles are featured in it!

I’ve grabbed a freeze frame from the commercial 6 seconds in in which you can very briefly see the covers of The Battle Sylph by L. J. McDoanld, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber, Siren by John Everson, and The Bonaparte Secret by Gregg Loomis.

What? They chose Twilight as the book to flip through and not ours? Like anyone’s read that! Hmph.

Still, this is an awesome Easter egg. Very fun—and perhaps a little subliminal advertising:)

 

September Sylph Series: Claw, or “The Neurotic One”


Who are these beautiful men, you may wonder? Well, they’re not really men. They’re sylphs! And the leading battle sylphs in L.J. McDonald’s Sylph series, no less. This week–as part of our September sylph series–we’re profiling Claw, the burly, tortured looking man on the far left (the first one with a face). Before we begin, here’s a summary of a sylph for those of you who are new to the series:

Sylph (n): a mythological creature composed of the elements. The term, which originated in Paracelsus, commonly describes sylphs as invisible beings of air or “faeries of the air.” L.J. McDonald’s sylphs are either fire sylphs, air sylphs, water sylphs, earth sylphs, or battle sylphs. Battle sylphs are unique to L.J.’s original fantasy world; they are creatures of magic, unrelentingly male, who were traditionally bound to a male master in a sacrificial ritual. In L.J.’s debut, The Battle Sylph, everything changes when this dark ritual goes awry and a battle sylph is bound to a woman instead.

Without further ado, here’s a profile on Claw:

Name: Claw

From: Eferem

First Master: Boradel, a cruel general of King Alcor, who was given a battle sylph to defend the kingdom.

First Appears In: We first meet Claw in an epic fight near the end of The Battle Sylph. Bound to a king’s man, he’s supposedly following orders and fighting against the good sylphs, but at last minute he joins his fellow slaved sylphs and escapes his bonds by turning on the king’s men and battlers. Once freed, he’s able to join the Queen (Solie’s) hive as a free battle sylph.

Appearance: Claw is first described in the perspective of King Alcor, who says he “was a hunched thing in a filthy robe, possessed of arms tipped with foot-long claws instead of fingers. Its claws were held up before it like those of a praying mantis, and it started at every sudden noise. Its face as oval, its mouth a round shape overstuffed with fangs jutting out in every direction.” Yeah, Claw’s a frightening one, but keep in mind he didn’t choose this form–Boradel did–so it doesn’t reflect his true nature. Once Claw becomes part of the hive, Solie allows him to choose his own form. For whatever reason he transforms into a “hunched, nervous-looking young man, eyes bulging and hands still held before him like a praying mantis. His skin was very pale, and his hair, bizarrely, was dark blue.” I’d say this is a more accurate reflection of his inner nature…

Second Master: In Queen of the Sylphs, we learn that Claw is given a female master. Battle sylphs respond significantly better to females, as they are essentially wired to adore and pleasure women. He’s paired with Rachel, an elderly and kind school-teacher, who helps soften him through her love and affection.

Personality: Although still ferocious in battle (which is inherent to all battle sylphs), Claw is kind of a fraidy cat. He’s a nervous, neurotic, spastic, broken creature, ruined by his years of slavery. He’s bizarre in his eccentricity, which makes him one of the most amusing and heartbreaking characters in the series.

Claw Quote: “Ril paused, eyeing Claw. ‘How’s the reading coming?’ Um, good,’ the other battler said. ‘I read a story to Rachel last night.’ ‘Nice,’ Ril said. Claw sagged. ‘The math is hard, though.'”

To read more on Claw, delve into September release Queen of the Sylphs, the 3rd book in the series and the installment that gives Claw the most page time.

Next week marks the last profile in our September Sylph Series–we’ll be giving away the entire series in trade paperback to one lucky commenter from this month’s series, so be sure to enter your comment! This week’s question: With his sketchy, blue-haired demeanor, Claw is reminiscent of a glam punk rocker. What 70’s/80’s musician did you have an embarrassing crush on?

Sylph Profiles:

Profile: Ril
9/1/2011 

Profile: Mace
9/8/2011

Profile: Heyou
9/15/2011

Profile: Claw
9/22/2011 

Profile: Tooie
9/29/2011

Western Wednesdays—BAD MEDICINE + Giveaway

Spur-nominated author Paul Bagdon returns this month with Bad Medicine. Tragedy breeds a quest for revenge in this action-packed ride through the Old West. And wouldn’t you know it? I’ve got a copy hot off the press that I’m just itchin’ to give away. Enjoy the preview of chapter one below and throw us some feedback in the comment thread to be entered to win the paperback.

Happy Reading,
Allison Carroll
Editorial and Web Coordinator

Chapter One

The sun hung over Will Lewis and his Appaloosa stud, Slick, like a gigantic, flaming brass disk, sucking all moisture from the earth, the desiccated prairie grass, and the man and his horse. An endless sweep—a swell—of merciless heat had begun shortly after first light and had escalated almost exponentially since then.

Slick was dragging his toes and weaving slightly, even at his plow-horse walk. His head hung low, muzzle barely a foot from the ground.

Will reached forward and took a pinch of hide from Slick’s neck, stretched it up an inch or so, and released it. The flesh moved back into place slowly, lethargically—Slick was baking in his own hide and not far from going down. Lewis knew that it was a sure bet that if Slick did go down, he’d never get up again.

Will hefted his canteen: it was maybe a quarter full. His throat was a sandpit, his lips cracked and weeping blood, his entire being screaming for water. He reined in, slouched down from his saddle, dumped the canteen into his Stetson, and held the hat to Slick’s muzzle. The horse sucked once, emptying the hat, and eyed Will, demanding more, begging for more.

Lewis stepped back onto his saddle, red and black spots floating in his vision. He pulled in a long, deep breath. The spots didn’t disappear but they diminished in size and number.

His words weren’t anywhere near perfectly formed, and he could barely hear himself speak. “We shoulda hit th’ town if Hiram’s directions was right. Hiram—he’s a idjit. He jus’ mighta up an’ killed me an’ a good horse.”

Slick was weaving more noticeably.

“Sonofabitch,” Will mumbled, and heeled Slick to keep him moving.

At first Will thought it was just another oddly shaped cholla. As he drew closer he saw it was a sign. Like all the signs of jerkwaterWest Texastowns, it was a slab of barn wood with hand-painted text. It was pocked with bullet holes and speckled with shotgun pellets. The sign read dry creek.

Slick’s head shot up as if he were suddenly checking the sky, his nostrils flared, his breath huffing through them. He smelled either humans or water—it made no difference to him. Either one promised the end of his thirst. He picked up his pace without urging from Will.

Another couple hundred yards later the tinkling notes of a honky-tonk piano reached Will. A vision of a schooner of beer the size of a hog’s head popped into his mind and refused to leave it. His throat moved up and down in a swallowing motion without his volition.

They came down a grade and Dry Creek spread before them, such as it was. There were the usual false-fronted structures on either side of a pitted and rutted street that put a tail of dirt and grit in the air behind each horse and wagon. The town offered a mercantile, a shoe and boot, an undertaker and furniture maker, three saloons, and a sheriff’s office. At the end of the street was a small church, and beyond that, a livery and blacksmith operation. The reason the town existed—a railroad depot with stock fences—rested at the far end of the street, beyond the church and stable.

Each gin mill had a watering trough in front of it, partially under the hitching post. The scent of water goaded Slick into an awkward, shambling lope and Will gave him all the rein he wanted. The horse slid to a stop at the first trough and buried his muzzle in the water, sucking like berserk bellows. Will climbed down and fell to his knees next to Slick. He pushed some of the horse spittle and green scum to the side and planted his face in the water.

The water was piss warm, metallic tasting, with a good growth of stringy, weedlike scum at the bottom—and it was the finest thing Will Lewis had ever tasted in his life. He drank until he puked, stood, dragged Slick’s head out of the trough, and stepped into a stirrup. Slick fought him, rearing and snorting, but Will wheeled him around and jabbed his heels into his sides, pointing him toward the blacksmith shop. Too much water at one time to a dehydrated horse could cause founder or twisted gut. If Will’s old man had taught him anything, it was this: “Ya take care of yer horse fore ya look after yerself.”

The smith was a barrel of a man with forearms like hams, a full beard, and the chest of a bull buffalo. His hair, twisted and greasy, hung well below his shoulders. He came out to meet Will as he dismounted.

“Nice animal,” he commented in a deep, hoarse voice, “’cept the poor fella’s dryer’n a dust storm in hell. You oughta know better’n to—”

“That horse an’ me just crossed that goddamn desert out there,” Will snarled. “I gave him the last of my canteen an’ both of us come close to croakin’. You got a problem with me, do somethin’ about it. If not, shut your yap an’ listen. You water this boy every twenty minutes, maybe a quarter bucket. I want shoes all around—not keg shoes, neither. I want you to turn them outta good bar stock and bang in an extra nail at each toe. Give him small rations of molasses an’ oats, maybe some corn, a few times a day, an’ all the good hay he wants—not this burned out shit you got stacked up here, the trefoil an’ clover I see there in the back. Got it?”

The smith grinned. His teeth were an almost startling white. “Feisty, ain’t you? Now look—all that’s gonna cost you some money,” he said.

Will flipped a double eagle to the big man. “You need more, let me know.”

The blacksmith raised the coin to his mouth and bit down on it—hard. Will saw the muscles at the man’s jaw flex and harden.

The smith wiped the coin on his muleskin apron and dropped it into the pocket of his denim pants. “Look here,” he said, “we got off to a bad start. I had no way of knowin’ you crossed the sand. I figgered you was another twenty-five-a-month-an’-chow cowpuncher who’d run a good horse to death. I was wrong.” He extended his right hand. “Lucas Toole,” he said.

Will took the hand. It was like grasping a brick that had grown fingers. “Lewis,” he said, “Will Lewis.”

Lucas grinned again. “I got me a bottle out back—real whiskey, not ’shine. I was wonderin’ maybe you’d like a little taste after drinkin’ some of that good water outta the barrel there with the scoop hangin’ on it. Pure deep well water it is, cold ’nuff to crack yer teeth.”

“No more’n I want to wake up tomorrow morning.” Will grinned, heading to the barrel. “But maybe first, my horse…”

“I was hopin’ you’d say that,” Lucas said, stepping ahead of Will with a bucket, filling it a quarter full, and holding it to Slick’s muzzle.

It was good whiskey, just as Lucas said: the label was real, not a sloppy counterfeit, and the booze tasted of woodsmoke and fresh prairie grass. Will took three long sucks. “Damn,” he said almost reverently, handing the bottle back.

Lucas lowered the level of the bottle a good two inches and wiped his mouth with his arm. “Done some time, Will?” he asked.

Will’s eyes showed nothing. “Time? What makes you think that?”

“Well, hell,” Lucas said, “there’s jus’ somethin’ about a man who been inside for a good bit—his eyes ain’t never still, and he don’t seem to ever relax. He’s always tight, like he’s waitin’ for a punch he knows is comin’ but he don’t know exactly when.”

After a long moment, Will said, “I done four. I was movin’ some beef that maybe had the wrong brand on ’em. An’ I lost the bill of sale, too. Musta flew right outta my pocket with the wind. The fact I was movin’ ’em at night towardMexicodidn’t impress the law positive.”

“That’ll happen to a man,” Lucas said. “Where they lock you up?”

“Folsom.”

“Damn. Hard time.”

“Yeah.”

“My younger brother done three in Folsom,” Lucas said. “That’s how I knew about how a fella looks when he first comes out.”

There was a long and somewhat uncomfortable silence. Lucas broke it by asking, “So—what’re you gonna do now?”

“My brother, Hiram, has a cattle spread not far from here. I’ve got some money I hid out before I went to prison. Me an’ Hiram are gonna expand his place a lot—more land an’ more beef. Hiram, he’s a hell of a hand with…”

Lucas’s grin dropped as suddenly as it would have if someone had sucker punched him. “Hiram Lewis, that’d be?”

“Well, yeah. But what…what…?”

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