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It had been an ice storm, followed by a thaw and a freeze. Deja set him to clear the gutters, miserable, useless work, since he had to pry ice off grime and stone, and since the weather link said another thaw was due the next day. Martin didn’t mind. It kept him out of the house, away from Deja and his temper. Also, apart from the cold and the wet, it was far from the worst job he had been handed that month. It was late afternoon and he had reached the gutters behind the house, in the alley, when the day abruptly got worse.

He heard the gate open. He was digging at a stubborn chunk of ice and didn’t look up at once. Someone was coming toward him, though. He straightened off the spade. Deja, and another man. Martin wasn’t certain if this was a holder at first. He wore cheap clothing – not contract clothing, but cheap – and his hair was badly cut. He studied Martin with contempt. “Doesn’t look like much.”

Deja laughed. “Did I say he was?”

Martin felt a trickle of fear go through his belly. He gave Deja a quick glance. Deja had been waiting for it, he saw. Martin looked at the ground. Fuck, he thought.

“Come on, you,” the other man said. “Martin?”

“Martin,” Deja agreed cheerily. “He’s stubborn and stupid. You’re going to need to use the stick if you want him to listen.”

“Move, you,” the man said.

Martin put the shovel against the alley wall and followed him. No time to speak to Pia. No time to get a message to Harper. No time for anything.

Chapter 16 and the epilogue of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website! The dramatic conclusion is finally here!

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate has now been serialized in its entirety online for free.

Crossed Genres Publications will be publishing Broken Slate in print and ebook in July 2011.

Go here to read the conclusion! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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The next morning, he couldn’t get up. Every muscle had seized, locked stiff with pain, and he burned with fever. He knew the fever was partly from the ‘tropes, which ran him on overdrive when they kicked into repair mode. He knew it meant he was healing. That knowledge didn’t make the pain any easier to bear.

Kistur, dressing, came to stand over his bunk. Martin shut his eyes. “Ought get up,” Kistur advised.

Martin didn’t answer. He felt awful. Kistur grunted and went upstairs.

Later in the morning, Pia fetched him some beef tea, which Martin was too queasy to eat, despite the furious hunger the nanotropes were rousing in him. When Pia tried to argue, Martin swore at him until he went away.

Shortly after that Kistur came down again. “Get up.”

Martin was lying as still as he could. “Fuck off.”

Kistur said, “You need to move.” Martin opened his eyes. “Once you start, ain’t be bad.”

“What are you, high?”

Kistur ignored this, ignored his whining, dragged him to his feet and into the scrub, where he stripped off Martin’s clothes and got him in a warm shower. He soaped up a cloth and scrubbed him down, all as professionally as though Martin had been a sorrel yearling, and not someone’s boy. Which Martin wished he was, by that point.

Chapter 14 of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website! We’re fast approaching the conclusion, which should be posted on March 22!

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate is being serialized online for free. It updates every other Tuesday.

Go here to read the new chapter! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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Kistur did stay. He slept below stairs, spending his days in the stable, coming in only for meals. He didn’t speak to Martin; just dealt with the horses, and helped Pia manage the boiler, which, as it developed, took some managing. “He says he stayed because you gave him shit about taking care of the horses,” Pia told Martin.

“I gave him shit. Not about the horses. Not half what he gave me.”

Pia was making berry cobbler. Martin was watching him and eating stray scraps of dough. He was drinking cider with the scraps, having found a great stone jug of cider on the floor of the pantry that morning which he had been working his steady way through since.

“Some of these North Country contracts have issues,” Pia confided comfortably, tamping down the edges of the cobbler crust.

“He can suck me,” Martin said. Pia glanced at him, and at the cider. Martin finished what was in the cup and poured more. It wasn’t the cider. He wished.

Chapter 13 of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website! We’re fast approaching the conclusion, which should be posted on March 22!

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate is being serialized online for free. It updates every other Tuesday.

Go here to read it! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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He and Deja had been back to Strauss Estate a half a dozen times over the years since they had gone up to Durbin, but they hadn’t stayed at the Estate House – when they came, it was to camp in the mountains, or to stay at the lodge at the lake. Deja’s rooms had been kept just as they had been left. Martin moved through the suite, unpacking their baggage, uncovering things he had forgotten he knew: a small yellow pillow filled with hulled rice Deja had liked, a painted bowl on the stand by the bed, the smooth honey-colored wood of the combs in Deja’s bath. The contract that had lived in these rooms seemed impossibly young to him.

After he unpacked, he braced himself and went downstairs.

The house was fancied up for Winter Holiday, with lead crystals on every light source, crystal beads spilling from the planters, elaborate lace hangings on the walls, and foil cutaways on every surface that might take them, not to mention sweetwood burning in fireplaces. The floors gleamed with polish, metal and glass shone bright. Even the contracts had new clothing. Wasn’t everything jolly.

Chapter 12 of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website!

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate is being serialized online for free. It updates every other Tuesday.

Go here to read it! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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Harper was working on a post for the Republic Society of Science page. The editors wanted revisions, which work had Harper in a furious, delighted, evil mood. And meanwhile, he had Martin doing most of his work.

Oh, he gave his lectures. But Martin built his boards, found his captures, took all his labs and tutorials; Martin evaluated student reports, fetched meals and took notes at meetings Harper couldn’t make; Martin traveled up the railway line to Paris or down to White Thorn, to some archive for a hardcopy Harper just had to have. It stretched Martin’s usual day up to fourteen hours, especially if he had work to finish.

This afternoon, he had taken the geology lab on deformation and cleavage in metamorphic rock. The students were hopeless. They spent the lab whispering to each other and peeking at Martin. He went from station to station, bringing up captures to show them how the links in their texts matched the rocks before them. None had done the reading beforehand; and their lab reports, which he spent the evening evaluating, had been abysmal. But this might have been because none of them could construct a simple sentence. Less time on the slam ball court, more time reading texts, that’s what Martin would advise. Shit, he had written better than this at ten, and he’d spent his childhood scrubbing loading docks.

Chapter 11 of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website! (A bit late – sorry about that!)

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate is being serialized online for free. It updates every other Tuesday.

Go here to read it! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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The noise of the sea wind was enormous, like the roar of shuttle engines battering his ears. Sun burned the rock beneath him, burned his bare shoulders and back. It felt good. He felt good. For the first time in a long while, he felt safe, his knees against his chest, the stone beneath him, the day open before him. He had knocked a fragment of rock loose and was rubbing its edge with his thumb, squinting at it in the bright light, when Tsilla poked his ribs. “Yow, you’re skinnier than ever. Can’t you make him feed you?”

Martin jumped. He didn’t drop the rock, though. He looked around for his shirt and undershirt, spotted them in a heap on the rocks where he had left them and went to put them on. He rolled down the legs of his trousers while he was at it, and did up their laces. Tsilla scuffed at the sand drifting across the slab of pillow lava.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” he told her without rancor, buttoning his shirt. It’s not like Tsilla ever was where she was supposed to be, these days.

Chapter 10 of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website!

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate is being serialized online for free. It updates every other Tuesday.

Go here to read it! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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Over on the gazebo, the university orchestra screeched through some elaborate arrangement. Everyone said holder music was awful. Which it didn’t matter to Martin: holder or cot, all music made him ill. Shoulders hunched, he got out of range of the racket as quickly as possible.

Above, clouds puffed into immense blossoms in the bright spring air; here below, ribbons and new flags popped on every pinion and from every window. The green and blue flag of the Republic with its triple superimposed worlds snapped on the flagpole just above the green flag of Julian and the ornate silver and blue flag of the West Country. Martin never could sort out the symbols of the holders’ flags: ancient weapons and tools, various animals, strips of this color over bars of that, who knew what all it meant. Well, Deja – Deja knew what each bit meant, and would tell anyone fool enough to ask.

Down on the lower commons, Martin slipped past a crowd of holder children and their nannies laughing at a crew doing the one about the bears and the dogs, and headed over the footbridge toward the market booths. It was cakes cooking somewhere. He snuffed hungrily.

Chapter 9 of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website!

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate is being serialized online for free. It updates every other Tuesday.

Go here to read it! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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Crossed Genres is proud to officially release RJ Astruc’s novel A Festival of Skeletons!

When Kamphor’s west end sees a series of prostitutes murdered, its citizens are fearful that a serial killer known as the Knife has returned. But the mortician Sink, owner of Kamphor’s finest morgue, doesn’t believe that the Knife has resumed killing – and he’d prove it, if his former student and current hateful rival Damien Torvault wasn’t getting in the way.

Sink and his two apprentices, handsome-if-loony Joshua Finkle and merkind Vona Urgarth, investigate the murders on their own. Sink’s ability to tell exactly when and how a person will die just by touching them earns him no friends, but it does yield some interesting clues – as does Sink’s other gift. The one which incites him to wear women’s clothing.

The investigation is further complicated when Joshua’s time is taken up running a 15-Step program, and Vona becomes intrigued by a repugnant yet strangely irresistible cook. Even Sink’s next-door neighbor, Policewoman Arifia Fowles, seems hell-bent on not just hindering Sink but arresting him, regardless of a crime.

But Sink presses urgently on, because he senses a strangeness in the air: the magic-smell of necromancy, a magic that has long been illegal in Kamphor… for it requires human sacrifice.


“If you have no interest at all in reading a fabulous, well thought-out, engaging story, stay away from RJ Astruc’s writing – you’ll get sucked in and read it anyway. The moment I started reading, she dragged me along for an extraordinary, outrageous ride through a perfectly ordinary universe filled with murder, madness, mystery, magic, merfolk, and morticians. Dark humor, light humor, macabre doings, cute little outfits, deluded cops, and afternoon tea with reformed alcoholics are all just the tip of the iceberg in this story. I’m not only reserving bookshelf space for the printed edition of A Festival of Skeletons, I’ll be reserving reading and re-reading time for it, too. Be careful of this one, readers; you won’t want to put it down, either!”
-Jean Johnson, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Sons of Destiny series

~

…like a love child of Terry Pratchett and Robert Rankin – a pacy, intelligent comedy novel that’s crazier than a cat on catnip … Highly recommended.”
SciFi & Fantasy Books

~

“The plot follows an even pace with plenty of surprises that are perfectly foreshadowed. I was kicking myself that I didn’t catch on to them earlier, but I was amazed at how wonderfully put-together this story is.
Only the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

~

“R. J. Astruc is fortunate that I don’t know where she lives. Otherwise I would be besieging her domicile and demanding, with money and menaces, a sequel…”
Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

.

You can read the first three chapters of A Festival of Skeletons for free!

A Festival of Skeletons is now available in several formats. Please consider picking up a copy of the novel reviewers have called “…a must-read. It’s a cruel, humorous page-turner for the wicked at heart.

.

TITLE: A Festival of Skeletons
Author: RJ Astruc
Publisher: Crossed Genres
Pages: 175
ISBN-13: 978-1453757352
ISBN-10: 145375735X
Release date: December 1, 2010
Edited by Kay T. Holt
Cover Art by Jonatan Iversen-Ejve
Design & layout by Bart R. Leib

* Zipped bundle contains 7 DRM-free formats: EPUB, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PDF and PRC.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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The next day he was in the archives, working his way through an expense log kept by an in-system freighter that had hauled, among other things, contract miners among the asteroid mines, when he heard Fen at the gate.

Fen had no legitimate right to access. To enter the archives, you had to be trained in handling ancient documents. Fen had training in packing code and security protocols and ecological engineering, and, for all Martin knew, a dozen other exciting issues, but he had, Martin would have bet his back teeth, no training in handling archived documents, ancient or otherwise.

Nevertheless, here he came, busting through the gate, yanking off his big hairy coat as he entered the clean room, stomping straight for Martin’s table. Past him, Martin saw the curator scrambling through his own gate. Coming to his feet, Martin slipped on his static gloves and got the logbook shut and sealed in its case before Fen reached him.

The second half of Chapter 8 of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website! (It’s such a long chapter we had to split it in two!)

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate is being serialized online for free. It updates every other Tuesday.

Go here to read it! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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Chapter 8 (the first half) of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website! (It’s such a long chapter we had to split it in two!)

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate is being serialized online for free. It updates every other Tuesday.

Go here to read it! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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[personal profile] simf

Chapter 7 of Kelly Jennings’ novel Broken Slate is now on the website!

This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate is being serialized online for free. It updates every other Tuesday.

Go here to read it! Or you can start at the beginning.

Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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[personal profile] simf

There are just five hours left to preorder RJ Astruc’s A Festival of Skeletons:

If you have no interest at all in reading a fabulous, well thought-out, engaging story, stay away from RJ Astruc’s writing – you’ll get sucked in and read it anyway. The moment I started reading, she dragged me along for an extraordinary, outrageous ride through a perfectly ordinary universe filled with murder, madness, mystery, magic, merfolk, and morticians. Dark humor, light humor, macabre doings, cute little outfits, deluded cops, and afternoon tea with reformed alcoholics are all just the tip of the iceberg in this story. I’m not only reserving bookshelf space for the printed edition of A Festival of Skeletons, I’ll be reserving reading and re-reading time for it, too. Be careful of this one, readers; you won’t want to put it down, either!

~Jean Johnson, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Sons of Destiny series

Also available in the preorder: Crossed Genres Year Two!

Preorder A Festival of Skeletons! Ebooks are just $4, print copies start at just $11, shipping included!

************

Also: After today, the LGBTQ issue of Crossed Genres will no longer be available to purchase:

Print copies and ebooks are available, all discounted!

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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Only one day left to preorder RJ Astruc’s A Festival of Skeletons:

If you have no interest at all in reading a fabulous, well thought-out, engaging story, stay away from RJ Astruc’s writing – you’ll get sucked in and read it anyway. The moment I started reading, she dragged me along for an extraordinary, outrageous ride through a perfectly ordinary universe filled with murder, madness, mystery, magic, merfolk, and morticians. Dark humor, light humor, macabre doings, cute little outfits, deluded cops, and afternoon tea with reformed alcoholics are all just the tip of the iceberg in this story. I’m not only reserving bookshelf space for the printed edition of A Festival of Skeletons, I’ll be reserving reading and re-reading time for it, too. Be careful of this one, readers; you won’t want to put it down, either!

~Jean Johnson, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Sons of Destiny series

Also available in the preorder: Crossed Genres Year Two!

Preorder A Festival of Skeletons! Ebooks are just $4, print copies start at just $11, shipping included!

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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We just received this great blurb about A Festival of Skeletons:

“If you have no interest at all in reading a fabulous, well thought-out, engaging story, stay away from RJ Astruc’s writing – you’ll get sucked in and read it anyway. The moment I started reading, she dragged me along for an extraordinary, outrageous ride through a perfectly ordinary universe filled with murder, madness, mystery, magic, merfolk, and morticians. Dark humor, light humor, macabre doings, cute little outfits, deluded cops, and afternoon tea with reformed alcoholics are all just the tip of the iceberg in this story. I’m not only reserving bookshelf space for the printed edition of A Festival of Skeletons, I’ll be reserving reading and re-reading time for it, too. Be careful of this one, readers; you won’t want to put it down, either!”

Jean Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Sons of Destiny series

And here are a few more reviews. Overall the critical response to Festival has been wonderful! Remember, there are only 9 days left to preorder the novel!

**********

[A Festival of Skeletons] is populated by cross-dressing morticians, monomaniacal police, a cook with charisma and zombies, courtesy of a soupcon too much necromancy, delivered within a deftly told story populated by characters that I cared about. And more importantly, A Festival of Skeletons is a fun read – so much so I was most disappointed when I finished the book.

R. J. Astruc is fortunate that I don’t know where she lives otherwise I would be besieging her domicile and demanding, with money and menaces, a sequel…

Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

**********

…perhaps this is the novels’ truth: no one is perfect, and heroes are more often than not unlikely. This is not just a moral tale, though; it unpeels layer after layer of geographical, social and character detail like a magical onion of narrative possibility, revealing plot layer after plot layer, and finally stands revealed as a raw, painful core of love and loss, and the lengths people will go to, to seek peace from emotional wounds and scarring.

The Future Fire Reviews

**********

A Festival of Skeletons (A) is a very entertaining and clever novel, fully living to its billing as a dark but funny fantasy, while the author’s obvious writing skill made me a big fan…

Fantasy Book Critic

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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A new chapter of Kelly Jennings’ Broken Slate has been posted to the site! It’s free to read!

You can read chapter 6 here.

Or, you can start at the beginning!

Broken Slate updates every other week. It will be serialized through March, after which it will be published in its entirety by Crossed Genres.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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The final two chapters of RJ Astruc’s novel A Festival of Skeletons are now available to subscribers! The Big Finish is here!

Subscribers can go to the Subscriber’s Area to read the exciting conclusion!

A Festival of Skeletons is now available for preorder: ebook as low as $4, print copies as low as $11, shipping included! The novel will officially release on December 1.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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Two new chapters of Kelly Jennings’ Broken Slate have been posted to the site! It’s free to read!

You can read chapters 4 & 5 here.

Or, you can start at the beginning!

Broken Slate will be serialized through March of next year, after which it will be published in its entirety by Crossed Genres.

Mirrored from Crossed Genres.

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The Crossed Genres Kickstarter drive for preorders of A Festival of Skeletons is now open!




A Festival of Skeletons
by New Zealand author RJ Astruc is a remarkable novel of zombies, necromancers, merkind, serial killers and cross-dressing. This 78,000-word novel has been serialized for subscribers on the Crossed Genres website, and now it’s being published in its entirety! (175 pp., trade paperback)


Read the first three chapters of A Festival of Skeletons for free!


The official release date of A Festival of Skeletons will be December 1, 2010, but people who pledge to the Kickstarter will have your copies shipped early!


Print preorders are just $11 USD, shipping included ($15 outside US/Canada), and ebooks are just $4! Plus there are little extras for each level of pledge.


You can even get A Festival of Skeletons bundled with our anthology, Crossed Genres Year One: just $8 for ebooks, or $19 for print ($27 overseas)!


Please visit the Kickstarter page for more information, and pick up this amazing novel. And help us out by spreading the word!


Originally published at Crossed Genres. You can comment here or there.

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