deborahjross: (Default)
This is for SFWA members:

The time for Nebula nominations is rapidly drawing to a close. I'm usually modestly silent at such times, but this year I'd like to draw your attention to Hastur Lord, which came out last January from DAW. Even when Marion was writing them solo, Darkover novels rarely got considered. This one was truly a collaboration, because I worked from a partial manuscript she began in the last year of her life. It explores so many of the themes that were important to her--and are to me! Not just portraying gay/bi relationships as enduring and meaningful, but issues of power, integrity, jealousy, and bigotry. And inclusiveness, understanding, and self-acceptance. All wrapped up in a whopping good story.

One of the most moving and rewarding aspects of publishing this book were the letters I received from gays who'd been in the closet for most or all of their lives and found here a vision of how the would could be if each loving relationship were cherished.

So please consider it when you're filling out your ballot.
deborahjross: (Default)
Here, with the permission of the writer, is one of the most touching letters I've received. This is one of the reasons I'm hoping the book will find a readership beyond Darkover fandom. Any help promoting it to other readerships will be appreciated.

I just finished The Hastur Lord.

Deborah, thank you!! As a gay man who has had to live in the closet from much of my early adult life, I wasn't sure how the lives of Regis, Danilo, and Linnea would find their ways to peace, harmony, beauty, and honor. Your caring for these people is more than I could have hoped for. I always loved the way Marion gave primacy of love and honesty, no matter the culture or the perceived taboo. You have honored that tradition and reinforced the power of honesty and honor in love with your own compassion and insight.

Those of us in the Midwest (and other places), who have lived under the harsh lash of religious zeal, ideological repression, and the resulting personal constraint, cherish your ability to portray living honestly, openly, self confidently, at peace with ourselves. We know the cost, the loss, and the gain. And you have not shied away from the struggles to achieve that peace. It is hard won. But you have shown that the determination of caring people like Regis, Danilo, and Linnea (among the long history of others in Marion's pantheon) can make committed lives blend together beautifully, forging a family, while at the same time allowing each to express their own individual truest selves. Thank you for carrying on Marion's vision and for touching me deeply.
deborahjross: (Default)
Yesterday's book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Gilroy was wonderful fun. Some friends I don't get to see nearly often enough showed up. My table was near the store entrance, so I got to greet people, "Hello! Would you like to hear about my new book?" To my delight, a number of Darkover fans went, "Wow! I get to meet Deborah!" and went away with an autographed copy.

It was truly wonderful to see a bookstore filled with families and people of all sizes and ages. It was definitely "the place to be."
deborahjross: (Default)
Any of you LJers in the Bay Area are invited to join me this Sunday (January 24) from 3 to 4:30 at Borderlands Books this Sunday (January 24) from 3 to 4:30.

It's a joint presentation with Diana L. Paxson; she'll be reading and signing the latest "Avalon" book, and I'll be reading and signing Hastur Lord, so the event should be lots of fun.
deborahjross: (Default)
Yes, I know we're not supposed to pay attention to reader reviews on, but some eensy part of me has been on tenterhooks (sp?) waiting to see the response.

I'm grinning.

Here's why -- read the 2nd review.
deborahjross: (Default)
Tuesday Celebration: The last installment of the "sneak preview" of HASTUR LORD is up on Read and enjoy -- and also the blog on how the book came to be written. The chapters will magically disappear at the end of the month, so you can run out and buy the book.
deborahjross: (Hastur Lord)
You can still read the first chapter of Hastur Lord on Book View Cafe. On the top, just left of the center, Click "Browse Authors" to get a pull-down menu, Click "Deborah J. Ross," Click "Novels." And enjoy the short fiction I've put up, as well.
deborahjross: (Hastur Lord)
Thanks to the MZB Literary Trust giving permission, I've put up the first chapter of Hastur Lord on Book View Cafe. So come check it out! Also the December blogginess about meeting Marion, getting to work with her, and completing this, her final manuscript.

There will be a new chapter each week, but they'll all go bye-bye at the end of the month (at which time you can ahem! go out and buy the whole book.)


Nov. 12th, 2009 11:50 am
deborahjross: (Hastur Lord)
Thinking about publicizing Hastur Lord, this popped into my mind:

Hastur Lord has something to offend every reactionary: Gay characters in love! Bisexual characters who honor their devotion to their gay lovers! Polyamory done intelligently! Religious fundamentalist nuts making trouble for everyone! I can hardly wait for the reviews.
deborahjross: (dolomites)
Danilo has disappeared while searching for Regis's brother, Rinaldo, lost somewhere in Thendara. Regis asks Linnea for help in finding him.

"Think of Danilo . . . the last contact you had with him . . ." Linnea's laran caressed his own psychic energy fields, as deft as a feather brushing the breast of a new-tamed hawk . . .

Regis remembered his first view of Dom Felix Syrtis, the stubborn pride of the old man, the dark eyes so like his son's . . . He drifted with the images.

Danilo standing on a ladder in the apple orchards, wearing a much-patched farmer's smock --

Abruptly, the scene changed. Danilo walking in a darkened street, his figure outlined by lamps to either side. Underfoot, cobblestones gleamed wetly.

Concentrate on the image,
Linnea's thought touched him like spidersilk. Hold it steady . . .

Then he was inside Danilo's mind, seeing the street through Danilo's eyes, . . . men in fur-lined cloaks, the thin drizzle of rain . . . the smell of wet cobblestones and grime. In his gut, a rising sense of urgency. Thinking, This district isn't safe for a man alone and unarmed, an innocent with a purse worth the taking. He could just make out the towers of Comyn Castle, glittering above him in the gloom.

"Whatever possessed Rinaldo to wander into this pit?" he muttered.

Peering into shadows, searching . . . Breathing, "Thank the blessed St. Christopher!" as he hurried toward the tavern with its brightly painted sign of stars.

"Dom Danilo Syrtis?"

At the sound of his name, he paused. Instead of Rinaldo, grateful to be rescued, he saw it was one of the Ridenow cousins by the green and gold trim of his cloak. Haldred, he thought, but could not be sure. For a moment, it seemed there were more men hiding in the shadows.

"What brings you here alone at this hour, my lord?" Yes, it was Haldred by his voice.

"I am looking for Lord Hastur's brother, Rinaldo. He has taken it into his head to go sight-seeing and went off without an escort. Or even a guide . . ."

"Between ourselves," Haldred replied, slyness edging his voice, "that loss would not grieve me much."

Danilo felt a touch of anger that anyone would speak so of any Hastur. "Be that as it may, Dom Haldred, he is one of our own caste. I ask you in all charity and honor to help me. I do not know these streets well."

"I suppose you are right." Haldred stepped from the shadows into the pooled light beneath the tavern lanterns. Teeth glinted in a humorless, almost feral grin. "It is indeed my duty to assist you --"

Haldred's shoulders twisted, then steel whined as he pulled his blade free.

Instinct and training sent Danilo reaching for his own sword. Even as he drew on Haldred, he sensed a second assailant coming at him from behind, and another --


. . . lying on a thinly-carpeted flood, by its lack of vile smells not a tavern . . . leather thongs tight around his wrists . . . pain throbbing through his head . . . voices, too distorted to recognize . . . struggling to clear his vision -- the huddled forms of two other people. Sleeping? Abducted as he had been -- or even -- O Blessed Bearer of Burdens, may it not be so! -- dead!

. . . more voices . . . Some time must have elapsed, for now there was but one other body. Slender as a youth, flax-pale hair like a golden waterfall -- Mikhail?
deborahjross: (hands)
Here's more, from a little later. I'll post a third in a day or two.

I could use some feedback on which would work best for my website. Is there one you preferred, one that left you particularly eager to read the book?


Regis found a chair and drew it up near his grandfather's head. His mind had gone blank, as it had when he was a boy called to account by this stern, disapproving old man.

Moments slipped by, marked by the halting rise and fall of the old man's chest. With his psychic barriers down, Regis felt Danilo's steady presence. Danilo believed in him, believed that he could rise above the past. Therefore, Regis must find a way to see the best in this old man, as he had in so many others.

One of Danvan's hands lay on top of the covers. The fingers, with their arthritic joints, quivered like the wings of a misshapen bird. On impulse, Regis grasped the hand. Its lightness surprised him, the softness of the paper-thin skin, the frailness of the bones.

"Grandfather . . ." He could not force the words through his lips, even if he knew what to say.

Grandfather, there's so much I never told you . . .

Tears stung his eyes, but Regis refused to look away. He focused on the pale blue irises that glimmered between crepey lids.

See me, hear me. Forgive me.

"I know I often disappointed you," Regis said aloud. "I couldn't live up to my father's reputation --" which grew in glory with each retelling, and which you never let me forget. "I couldn't be the King you so fiercely wanted me to be. I'm sorry if I let you down."

Regis paused, unable to overcome the resentments that surged within him. Certainly, he admired his grandfather, for who of the Comyn did not, even when they disagreed with him? Part of him still craved the old man's approval, although he knew he would never have it. Nothing he did would ever be good enough, nor any sacrifice of his dreams ever great enough.

He had run out of time. Unless he spoke now, he might never have another chance to set aside the old rancor, to summon all his compassion, to send his grandfather to whatever came beyond life with a clear conscience.

"Grandfather . . ."

Suddenly, the blue eyes cleared and the withered mouth moved silently. Regis tensed and bony fingers closed around his own with desperate, brittle strength. Regis . . .

Regis gasped, taken by surprise. Danvan Hastur, for all his force of will and personality, and his extraordinary statesmanship, had very little of the laran that characterized the Comyn. He had been able to lead the Domains for three generations by diplomacy, wily cunning, and reasoned argumentation. For him to now speak mind-to-mind required almost superhuman effort.

Regis . . .

Grandfather, I am here.

I . . . am dying . . . have . . . very little time . . .

One mind, linked directly to another, could not lie about a matter of such importance.

. . secret I have carried . . . these many years . . . your brother . . . you have a brother . . .

Regis startled, almost dropping out of telepathic rapport. A brother? How was that possible? He had always believed that he, like Danilo, was the only son of his parents. To the best of his knowledge, his parents had been so devoted to each other that when Rafael Hastur had been killed, his wife Alanna had lived only long enough to deliver Regis, and then had died of a broken heart.

. . . your father's son . . . nedestro . . .

Lord of Light! Had his mother known?

Danvan's gaze wavered in intensity.

No, it was . . . before they married . . . Regis! . . . find Rinaldo . . . bring him to Thendara, ensure his rights . . . as Hastur . . .

The old man's mental presence, which had strengthened for a moment, now thinned like mist.

An older brother! Regis reeled under the thought. For so much of his life, he had struggled under the weight of believing himself the sole legitimate Hastur son. Nedestro children were often legitimated; Regis had done this for his own offspring, those that survived infancy.

Promise me . . . came Danvan's fading thought, more plea than command.

"Of course, I will. A brother, I never thought to have a brother!" And a brother with a claim to Hastur, a place among the Comyn.

Then . . . what would his life be like, as a second son? Might he at last be free to choose for himself?

Swear . . .

Regis wrenched his thoughts away from the tumult of possibilities. He felt as if his entire world had just turned inside-out. What sort of man would his brother be, after all these years? No, Regis thought, he must set aside these questions for the moment. All would be revealed in the proper time.

Although he did not know if his grandfather could feel it, he tightened his grasp around the limp hand.

"I swear."
deborahjross: (dolomites)
Well, more of a scene. From early in the book:


Wrapped in his fur-lined travel cloak, Regis stormed across High Windward's courtyard. Danilo stood talking with one of the grooms and the headman's son from the village. The ponies and pack animal were saddled and ready to go. The Red Sun was well up, radiating a tentative warmth.

Danilo smiled pleasantly as Regis approached. "Good morning, my lord. Did --"

"Let's get out of here!" Regis snapped. He did not wait for any assistance, but grabbed the reins of his pony from the groom, thrust the toe of his left boot in the near stirrup, and swung into the saddle.

Danilo's eyes widened for an instant. He gestured to the headman's son and handed a small purse to the groom. Regis had already booted his pony into a trot, headed for the outer gates, when Danilo caught up with him. The ponies, fresh and eager, jogged down the ice-hard trail.

Despite the easy gait of his mount, each step jarred his clenched teeth. He knew he should not press the ponies so early in the day, that they would require their strength to reach the village or risk having to camp overnight in the open. The need to get away as fast as possible consumed him.

"Regis! Vai dom, what is wrong?" Danilo's voice held a note of true concern. "Has something happened?"

"She said no!"

"No? I don't understand. Will you slow down and talk to me? You're upset . . ."

A harmonic of distress in Danilo's voice brought Regis back to himself. When he touched the reins, the pony dropped back into a walk and heaved a sigh at this return to sanity.

"She said no," Danilo prompted. "She will not come to Thendara and work with Lawton's son? Why not?"

Glancing back, Regis made certain that the headman's son was far enough behind so that they would not be easily overheard. "I asked her to marry me and she refused, quite emphatically."

With his nerves still raw from the interview with Linnea, Regis felt Danilo's emotional reaction, astonishment and anger.

"I am surprised to hear it," Danilo said, his eyes focused between the ears of his mount. "Indeed, I cannot think what she must be thinking. I was under the impression that there was not a woman in all the Seven Domains, except a few among the Renunciates, who would not leap at the chance to become Lady Hastur."

Regis could think of no reply. He did not know if he was more angry at Linnea or at himself, for having mishandled the proposal so badly. For good or ill, the words were spoken, the offer rejected.

You can't put a banshee chick back into its egg, ran the old proverb. At the moment, he would much rather have tackled one of the giant carnivorous birds than his own feelings.

Several minutes passed in silence, broken only by the muted clop of the ponies' hooves and the creak of the leather harnesses. The breaths of men and beasts made plumes of mist in the cold dry air. The trail steepened, and the animals slowed to pick their way.

Their way wound along the side of the mountain, from which sprang an enormous knuckle of bare rock, the outcropping on which High Windward perched. From time to time, they caught glimpses of the peaks beyond, the sloping meadows draped in layers of hardened snow. Morning sun turned the ice-encased trees into confections of crystalline beauty.

Regis sensed Danilo's storm cloud mood. "Let's have it. Are you glad she rejected me?"

"When were you going to tell me?" Danilo said tightly. "On your wedding night? Or when you ordered me to find housing elsewhere?"

"I am telling you, now. I swear to you I did not come here with the intention of proposing marriage to her, or even asking her to become my ceremonial consort --"

"Or your seamstress, for all that matters! You owe me no explanations, vai dom."

"Danilo, don't go all formal, my-lord-this, my-lord-that, on me. I only decided on it last night."

I know what you were doing last night.

"Stop it!" Regis cried. "If I've given you cause to be jealous, tell me. I won't have it festering between us. If all the malicious gossip of the court, not to mention Grandfather's machinations, could not drive a wedge between us, how can one failed marriage proposal?"

"You think I'm jealous?" Danilo turned to him, and Regis saw the hurt in his paxman's eyes. "That's not it at all! I know very well that you are expected to furnish the Comyn with as many sons as you can. I accepted your liaisons with women over the years, even the malicious gossip you spoke of. Did I complain when you and Linnea became lovers? Did I do anything to make life more difficult for you? Did I ever -- once -- ask you to set her or any other woman aside?"

"No, you have ever been faithful to the vows we swore to one another." If there has been a failing, it has been mine.

"Then why this sudden change?" Danilo demanded. "Why, when you were so opposed to marriage, when you consistently defied your grandfather and the entire Council on the matter, did you suddenly take it into your head to do it? Why did you keep it secret? Do you have so little trust in me? What else are you hiding?"

Regis rocked back in the saddle, causing the pony to wring its tail in protest. Danilo's anguish brought back the wretched fight surrounding Crystal Di Asturien's pregnancy. Regis ought to have told Danilo himself, but the news had come, in the most spiteful manner, from Dyan Ardais. Danilo had been hurt and outraged, then as now. His sense of betrayal had not arisen from Regis sleeping with a woman but from the secrecy about an event that had the power to drastically alter both their lives.

"I've never kept my relationship with Linnea secret," Regis protested. "You knew that if I ever gave in to Grandfather's demands, she would be the one. You and she got along tolerably well, and I thought of her as a friend. More than that, she is of my own choosing, not some brood mare selected for me by the Council."

"What a nice, convenient solution!" Danilo barked. "You get your grandfather and the Council off your back and Comyn Castle gets a chatelaine, all at very little trouble to yourself!"

Regis bit back a hot reply. His temper had been in shreds when they began this conversation, and it was increasingly difficult not to take out his frustration on Danilo.

"I suppose what decided me," Regis said, trying his best to speak calmly, "was seeing little Kierestelli. I had no idea a child could bring me such delight. I don't want her to grow up not knowing me."

"And this is why you proposed to her mother, without so much as mentioning the possibility? Excuse me, vai dom, but that is nonsense. You could have ordered the child to be fostered in Thendara, where you might see her at your convenience."

In his memory, Regis saw the snug little room, heard the lilt of Linnea's harp and the sweetness of Kierestelli's flute. In a low voice, he said, "It would not be the same."

Had he finally encountered something in life in which Danilo had no part? Sadness shivered through him.

How can I choose between them . . . the man I love, to whom I am sworn, and the family I never knew I longed for?

It came to him, in a rush that left him breathless and his hands limp on the reins, that Danilo had made exactly this choice. Made it with without hesitation, without a backward glance, without ever a hint of recrimination at the cost.

"Danilo, do you ever regret what you have given up? I know you were raised cristoforo and they do not look kindly upon lovers of men. You must have been taught to want a wife and family . . ."

"I am hardly an observant cristoforo. It was my father's faith, one I accepted without question when I was a child," Danilo said with such bleak finality that Regis could think of nothing that would reach him. "As for the other matter, do not trouble yourself. I have never thought to marry, my lord. I am entirely at your service. Perhaps next time you will see fit to advise me before you decide to marry."

Regis raised one hand to his heart, to ease the ache there. He could not remember such a gulf between them. And he did not know what to do to bridge this one.

"Danilo . . . "

"Regis, let it go. Please. We're both hurt and angry, but it will pass."

Danilo was right. The proposal had touched a sore point, one that might never be resolved. It was best to let the matter rest and to go on as best they could, knowing they would always have each other.
deborahjross: (halidragon)
Have just taken apart and put back together almost 700 pages of HASTUR LORD. Have been engaged in ruthless wordiness abatement and creation of many cool additions. Very pleased with how it's all coming together.

Now, to enter changes in computer files. Then another print-out to check for idiocies introduced in said process.

26 days to deadline...
deborahjross: (Oka)
1. The latest Darkover book, Hastur Lord, is just flying along. I'm in that wonderful groove: I sit down, thinking to just noodle around with a paragraph or two, consult Marion's notes, and emerge from the resultant trance with 10 pages written and a new chapter to start. Then I go away, thinking my brain needs a break, but rush back a moment later with the next scene bursting forth. I've learned not to even put the computer on StandBy so I don't waste any of that precious inspirational time.

2. The [ profile] livelongnmarry [ profile] rainbowafghan projects. These were for a benefit against California initiative 8, which would legally destroy existing marriage equality rights. I volunteered to coordinate and crochet the squares together. The first one, acrylic and other synthetic yarns, is due to be delivered Sept. 15. Since I will be leaving on vacation right after Labor Day and not back until after that, I naively assumed that, with an August 15 deadline to turn in the squares, I'd have plenty of time. I was right about the time to crochet them together, but somehow far, far fewer squares have arrived than were promised. So I've dropped my other projects and am knitting squares as well. In worsted weight yarn, they go quickly, and I have a lot of that.

If any of you out there have non-wool yarn and would like to jump in, I need 6" squares asap: please wash or block them to make them easier to handle. Email me at deborahjross at sff dot net for my snail addy.

3. Garden. This is really Dave's project, not mine, but I'm responsible for dealing with what it produces. Our little freezer is filling up with crook neck and zuccini squashes and blackberry compote, and we haven't even started on the tomatoes, green beans, or tomatillos yet.

I think I'm done with blackberries. I went out the other day and picked 8 pints (3rd time); came home with the usual scratches and also a patch of poison oak, although that could have been from the dog's coat. The haul, what we don't eat fresh, is divided into frozen loose berries, frozen compote, and canned compote. It's been too hot to stand in the kitchen, canning things in boiling water, so I may have overdone the freezing portion. Or maybe the solution is to invest in a larger, upright freezer?


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Deborah J. Ross

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