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September 28, 2012 — 366 words

The Antithesis Blog Tour:
The End!

By 1889 Labs

If you missed some of the tour posts, check out the Week One and Week Two recaps.

Today is the LAST day of Terra's blog tour for The Antithesis... which means it's your LAST chance to enter to win print copies of the entire series.

I mean, damn. How good would all 5 books look on your shelf?

Here are the final blog tour stops for you to enjoy:

Guest posts:


  • What does Terra do when she's NOT writing? Read this interview to find out.


  • Lizzy's Dark Fiction "adored Leid more than any heroine as of late. She’s like a tiger -– beautiful, exotic, but dangerous for your health in close quarters. I have 10 or 15 different texts highlighted in my Kindle of the awesome verbal exchanges between [Alezair and Leid]... Every time they meet is like a hit and you can help but turn page after page looking for that next high."

  • "The Antithesis does a good job of creating an unusual scenario, unique worlds, and new races," says A Bit of Dash.

Win Prizes!

Commenting on the blog tour stops above is one way to enter to win. Fill out the fun little widget below to make sure you've got the best possible chance of winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


For more information about the tour please visit the splash page.

September 27, 2012 — 1,122 words

Fish-Slapping and Naval-Gazing Water Rabbits.

By Letitia Coyne

Do you know what happens when the Xbox red rings?

If, like me you own a houseful of adolescent males, initially you will be unaware that your worst fears are about to be realized. You might imagine mowed lawns, washed cars, movies rented, even in flights of pure fantasy, washing up done and folding put away.


When the Xbox red rings in a house full of adolescent males, the N64 comes out of retirement and those Mario Party songs you thought you would never have to listen to again, start repeating through the house. Did you think you’d never hear Snowboard Kids again? I did. Did you think if someone was twenty-five they were too old to laugh hysterically at Super Smash Brothers?

Wrong again.

When the homegrown spawn were small, one was an early riser. He was up with the sun every day. I could get up with him at 4am or 4.30am, or I could, as I did, teach him to make his breakfast cereal and come to my room where he could see a red and a green spot on the vcr buttons.

All he had to do was put in a video and press green.

Born into the techno generation, he’d learned the vcr manual by the time he was four and was rebuilding computers from the dump shop by ten, but in those early days he would put on his videos of Spot, Bananas in Pyjamas, Thomas the Tank Engine, or Wiggles. And he did. Over and over and over again.

To this day, if I hear the start music of any of those children’s shows, I develop a tremor and a facial tic.

There’s been talk this morning of reconnecting the SNES and Sega and if I hear Alex the Kid start I might jump off the roof.

So I watched some movies.

Michael Rennie was there The Day the Earth Stood Still, as we know, and not Keanu Reeves. Apart from grave concerns about a mother who leaves her first born in the care of a homeless stranger, I prefer it to the remake by millions. Except that there are few commonalities to compare, really. So I watched Michael Rennie save us all from ourselves, again.

Watched Berserk on and off; it can run for days and weeks without pause.

Watched Evil Dead, Dead by Dawn, and Army of Darkness. I love these three movies, as terrible as they are. They’re wonderful. [I loved Hercules, TLJ, too.]

Watched Dead Man. Just moving art, isn’t it? I love it. There are times I wish for colour, for the landscapes, but I’ll never get enough of this movie. It’s like a painting you hang on the wall for years and never tire of seeing.

Watched Reservoir Dogs, and Inglourious Basterds, and The Great Dictator.

Also watched All Quiet on the Western Front. I've never seen the 1930 original, I must. And a remake is in production for 2012. I wanted to move about after that, but ended up putting on Eric the Viking because AQotWF makes me so sad.

I will have to watch some more Python now and reaffirm the knowledge that no matter how bleak and hopeless the world looks, it is really just a big mass of total absurdity and nothing to be worried about. In any melting pot the dross floats to the top; the thick shit at the bottom gets burned; most people are blind men patting elephants and holding forth on the result; and interdependence is a dirty word when everyone is so damnably accomplished.

I have some kippers – it’s time to dance.

I read some reviews.

Reviewers need a big clap; it isn't easy. It's a role which will come to the fore more as the independence movement in digital fiction progresses. Those readers with real insight and the ability to summarize a book reliably for the wider audience will emerge with great power. All hail the powerful.

Meek, you will have to wait until you inherit the earth, I'm afraid.

I entered the giveaway at bibilotastic a while ago. That was exciting – I was trying to win an apple and some kindling. I posted my comment, noted my favourite Romanian poet and posted my entry off to the team. I’m still on tenterhooks. Who knows if I’ll win!

I doubt it. I never win anything.

In fact, centuries ago when I was born, the universe stamped me with the special mark it puts aside for those who are destined to sit, wizzened up in a cave with a hessian robe and hemorrhoids, contemplating navel fluff.

The universal powers said, "Don't give that one nuthin! [Except in the 80s – it was a really great time to have been rich.] Wastes everything. Bastard!" Instead they made me a Scorpio water rabbit, and left me to think about humanity and its endlessly fascinating insanity.

Of course, the other navel gazers know my cave. It has the satellite dish, conservatory, and Gucci door mats. Have to look the part.

That’s all.  I need a Bex and a little lie down.

Then back to my dancing!


September 24, 2012 — 335 words

The Antithesis Blog Tour:
Week Two

By 1889 Labs

I assume you've seen all of last week's The Antithesis blog tour posts!

Well there's even MORE for you to enjoy... and MORE chances to win some awesome prizes!


Guest posts:

  • What materials or influences inspired The Antithesis? Find out on The Avid Reader!


  • The Antithesis got 5/5 stars from Kaidan's Seduction!

  • I am Indeed reviewed The Antithesis, concluding that it combines "the best features of action manga and urban paranormal".


  • "As we approached the base, Leid tripped over her own feet, landing on her knees. I moved forward, but she shot out a hand to stop me. I froze. Then she lurched, vomiting blood all over the first step." Keep reading...

Win Prizes!

Commenting on the blog tour stops above is one way to enter to win. Fill out the fun little widget below to make sure you've got the best possible chance of winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


For more information about the tour please visit the splash page.

September 18, 2012 — 440 words

The Antithesis Blog Tour:
Week One

By 1889 Labs

If you haven't noticed yet, we're running a blog tour for The Antithesis!

There be PRIZES! Guest posts! Book playlists! Reviews! Interviews! Exploding heads!

Yeah, I was kidding about the exploding heads bit.


More seriously, here's a recap of the blog tour posts we've had so far.

Guest Posts:

Book Playlists

  • On Simply Infatuated there are NINE songs plus an excerpt from The Antithesis to give you a taster of its darkness.

  • Prefer your music more instrumental? Try this playlist instead.

Book Reviews

  • My Seryniti says: "People are getting heads chopped off and straight away I’m in love with one of the main characters."

  • My favourite quote from Beach Bum Reads is: "Hell, your main character is a physicist who lives in Purgatory."

  • And we scored a hat trick with yet another fan. "You need something to keep the passion for books alive, and The Antithesis definitely provided that," said Words I Write Crazy.

Win Prizes!

As USUAL -- what do you mean, you don't know how this works?! -- commenting on the blog tour stops above is one way to enter to win. Fill out the fun little widget below to make sure you've got the best possible chance of winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


September 13, 2012 — 1,206 words

Serial Fiction: the New Wave of Publishing.

By Letitia Coyne

Guess what: serialization is the next big thing in publishing. Amazon says so. They are marketing their new kindle with serial novels a plenty. It’s new! It’s brilliant! It has a proven track record harking back to Dickens, but authors and readers had completely forgotten this form of writing until Amazon came along!


I got a bit frustrated when I read the articles that blossomed around this idea of serialization making a comeback. You see, serialized fiction is not a forgotten art. Thousands of authors have been writing episodic stories, and millions of readers have been reading them. The only people who forgot they existed were the big publishers and the authors who continued to cast votive offerings before them, who spat on any form of writing that did not conform to the publishers’ guidelines.

Those same authors now hear that a publishing house is buying serials for kindle packages. Hoorah. Serials are the new black!

Yes, I’m sarcastic and venting a bit here. It beggars belief that so many people can wear such tightly focused blinkers that they do not look at the world they have chosen to colonize. And I risk offending you, dear reader, who might well be a reader or writer who had never heard of the world of serialized fiction. Sorry.

Serial fiction has been continuously written and read online since the advent of the PC. It began as soon as authors found there was an audience out there for what they wrote in blogs and zines. It began, as might be expected, as predominantly speculative fiction, but over the decades it has grown to encompass all genres. It began as free content. As digital publishing has exploded and DIY ebooks have become widely accepted, many web fiction authors have experimented with ways to sell their work, too.

Some provide a ‘tip jar’, an easy way for readers who enjoy the story to make a donation. Some authors offer a subscription, and readers can affect storylines and character development, or receive special, premium content extra to that which is provided free. Recently, some authors who have developed a wide following and who have made considerable gains in offering paid-for content have found remarkable success with kickstarter  projects.

Where a particular serialized story has been plotted to arrive at a conclusion, other authors have chosen to remove their storyline from free view, edited and rewritten the text where needed, and released the once episodic piece as an ebook. Because this writing has been going on for many years, there are much loved serials which, when published in book form, can become eight or ten hefty volumes.

My introduction to web fiction came through the Web Fiction Guide.

As a community, the WFG has changed a little in the last few years. There is less emphasis on review and shared experience than there once was, but it remains one of the finest and easiest to navigate directories of serial fiction on the web. Most, if not all of the stories listed are available to read for free.

There is a vast list of titles. From there, readers can find ratings and reviews for most of the serials listed. Most individual serials with a regular readership have their own forums for discussion of the plots, characters, and themes, but for more general group discussion of trends in fiction, recommendations and support, the WFG provides its own active forum.

Also associated with the WFG is Top Web Fiction, a list of series which are voted on by readers to provide a constantly updated view of what is hot on any day.

The WFG is not alone. There are a number of directories which specialize in serialized fiction. One of the first to be developed was the EpiGuide. Home to a number of long running soaps and serials, the Epi also has a popular forum with an active and supportive community for both readers and writers of web serials, and perhaps most importantly, is the hub for the annual WeSeWriMo – web fiction’s answer to Novel Writing Month.

Muse’s Success is a web fiction wiki, where reader participation is encouraged in the sharing of reviews, thoughts and ideas, links and information. Anything web fiction.

Protagonize is a community for collaborative web fiction. Authors can extend a branch on any story, taking the original idea off on a tangent, or refreshing an idea that had lost momentum. The membership is huge and reader participation very active. Primary schools worldwide have used Protagonize as a base to encourage literacy in young people, allowing them to see their own work published online.

A group of authors, all veterans of the serial novel, contribute regularly to Digital Novelists. Most of the names here have made the successful transition from free content to the marketplace. Again, this is no new phenomenon. At they were experimenting with direct to kindle subscription more than a year ago.

For young readers and writers, there is Fiction Press. Not to all tastes, I’ll admit, but popular and active, with stories across all genres, forums and RPGs.

Spreading both serialized and complete novels, Wattpad is an enormous library of fiction with a readership to match.

There are fan-fic sites too numerous to mention. There are graphic novels and web comics, published on a regular schedule, that have drawn in audiences as long as the screen has been lighting up. And authors of each type of web serial have found ways to bring their work direct to readers on their pc, or their laptop, or their phones or their tablets. This is not a new phenomenon.

And, of course, as a publisher dedicated to bringing the finest in web fiction to a wider audience, 1889 Labs has been publishing serialized stories as novels since 2006. This is not new.

What is new, and what are constantly changing, are the models for connecting readers and authors. That is always an exciting place to be, as technology moves and great minds move with it. At 1889 Labs we are working on the best ways to connect our readers with great fiction.

What does an author need, today, to capture your attention? What is the most convenient way for you to view the digital fiction you love?

What really will be the new wave of publishing?

September 8, 2012 — 221 words

The Legion of Nothing Blog Tour PRIZE WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

By Merissa Tse

The blog tour and giveaway has come to an end! What does that mean? Well, after an entire month of suspense, it means I get to tell you WHO WON THE KINDLE! And the other prizes! Are you ready?

Congratulations to first place winner Joye Barr, winner of an Amazon Kindle and a kindle copy of the Legion of Nothing: Rebirth!

Congratulations to second place winner Deanna Reza, winner of a
Legion of Nothing: Rebirth t-shirt and a print copy of the book!

And finally, congrats to our third place winners, who will each get an e-copy of both Legion of Nothing: Rebirth and The Antithesis by Terra Whiteman! Here they are below:

Crystal Renee
Jonathan Laughlin
Dacia Joyner Vaughn
Jaime Cross
Melissa Dawn

Thanks for everyone who entered and followed the tour all month. We hope it was as fun for you as it was for us. Remember that The Antithesis 3: Beta is being released THIS MONDAY and we have another blog tour to celebrate! Wootwoot. Yipyipyipyipyip.

All winners should receive an email shortly!

September 6, 2012 — 1,064 words


By Letitia Coyne

I’ve just spoken with an author and independent publisher about her claustrophobia. And about her despair. I’ve talked a lot here about the freedom of digital publishing and the individual constraints necessary when external boundaries are taken away. I’ve babbled about the falling fences and absent gatekeepers and limitless choices, but the flipside that emerges is claustrophobia.

It’s a bit like standing in a queue. Once we stood in line for years, quietly but impatiently waiting for our moment to shine. It came, we sparkled briefly, we smiled and bowed, and we moved back to the end of the line and started queuing all over again. When there is no longer a line, when there is anarchy and we are all free to rush to the front, the more delicate souls among us get crushed in the rush. Those with the loudest voices and most strident tones, and sometimes the greatest bulk, will squash the frail, the less confident, and the introverted; the arty types.

Since I first discovered the world of online fiction, I have regularly heard the reassurance that quality will rise, the rush of mediocrity will pass, and the deserving will inherit the world. That never happened in the traditional world of publishing. I think, most often, the loudest is heard, the dross floats to the top, and the inheritance is torn into ragged shreds that aren’t much use for anything but mopping up the bloodshed. Is that cynicism creeping in?

The crush is not a bad thing, really. Sometimes change only comes by riot and revolution. There is far more to gain from a world with free expression than there will ever be harm. For those, like me, who are horrified by the new 20% writing-80% hard-out self-promotion rules, there are quieter back streets to haunt. At least there we can watch the winners win and mumble under our breaths.

So – back to my chat about claustrophobia. We were discussing reviews and the difficulty of raising a profile in the claustrophobic, sardine-packed book sale sites. We all snigger when the likes of Mr Ellory or Mr Locke or Mr Rutherford are caught making up their own five star positive feedback, and we all know the names of others who play that game, but in terms of numbers – career altering numbers – even the liars are rarely rewarded with much space in the spotlight. There’s a riot in the market-square; tall poppies are targets.

Sadly, as much as I uphold my faith in the natural laws that assure us that this riot, too, shall pass, I see too many fragile and beautiful souls crushed or teetering on the brink of giving up their art.

That is overcrowding; that’s what it does. It stretches the resources too thin. There is not enough for all to take as much as they would like, and there is no longer a regulator to decide who will have and who will have not. And as in nature, it is the loudest and the most aggressive, not the most deserving, who take the greatest share. Nature is what it is, but it can be very hard to watch.

The trouble, I think, is not that some authors of dubious literary merit will succeed and others, better, will not. The trouble is the prize itself that we are all wrestling in the streets to touch.

We think the prize is a vast collection of five star reviews.

We decided that is how we would determine the best.

We allowed our work to be strung up on the auction block and when there were not four hundred five star reviews forthcoming, we found a way to provide them for ourselves. And the system our anarchy was supposed to have deposed, *coughAmazoncough*, allowed that self-defeating standard to rule in terms of sales and recognition.

I maintain my healthy cynicism about the claims of authors who do not wish to succeed/make money/become well known/bestsellers. It is a dream most humans cherish in one field or another. But poverty has never pushed artists to abandon their art. It has been the backbone of most artistic communities throughout history. Artists starve; it’s what they do.

The prize we were seeking when we got diverted by the new real was validation. Validation. To be told – that was good. I enjoyed that. Genuinely.

That’s why some authors can excuse themselves for buying fake reviews or drafting friends and family into the fray. Aside whisper to self: If fake reviews fool the true punters into reading my work, they will see how good it is and genuine validation will follow. Maybe not. It’s a slippery slope and no one wins anything.

Validation. Not reviews. It won't equate to sales, but it fills the hole inside that drives you onward through the screaming crowds. So, here’s a happier, personally invaluable example of finding validation.

Recently, the lovely Julie O’Yang invited me to fictionaut. I have for a long time read work on that site and marveled at the quality. Jewels, I thought. I was a little bit in awe of the company I found myself in. I went into the quieter spaces there, a bit more like a library than a market square on Sunday morning, and I whispered some tiny little poems and I painted a snippet of flash on the wall.

And it appeared; not begged, not sought out with a cover letter detailing personal bests and a history of violence and bloodshed in the arena, just there, whispered back just as quietly.

“That was good. I liked that.”


If you feel it is time to drop the pen and take up the sword once again, try finding a quiet place away from the rioting masses, the sort of place you always wished you could belong, and do whatever it is you do best.

September 3, 2012 — 1,453 words

Review: Eighty Nine – Literary Mixtape Anthology

By Ellie Hall

1989: a cusp between decades.

The year the Berlin Wall came down and Voyager went up. Ted Bundy and Emperor Hirohito died. The birth of the first Bush administration and computer virus.

In San Francisco and Newcastle the ground shook, in Chernobyl it melted. Tiananmen Square rocked the world and Tank Man imprinted on the international consciousness. Communism and Thatcherism began their decline, Islamic fundamentalism its rise.

It was the year Batman burst onto the big screen, we went back to the future (again), Indiana Jones made it a trifecta at the box office and Michael Damian told us to rock on.

Based on a play list of 26 songs released in 1989, Eighty Nine re-imagines the social, political, cultural and personal experiences at the end of the decade which gave the world mullets, crimped hair, neon-coloured clothing, acid-wash denim, keytars, the walkman, Live Aid, the first compact disc and MTV.

I was given a copy of Eighty Nine by the editor, Jodi Cleghorn, without any expectation of promotion. When I read the collection, I was so delighted by the consistent quality of the stories, I offered to post reviews.

Anthologies, even from a single author we admire, tend to be a bit up and down depending on our individual tastes. I read the opening stories of Eighty Nine and enjoyed them, then found I was up to the middle of the book and still reading avidly without wanting to pause, not even between stories. There are 26 individual tales here, based, as the blurb reveals, on a playlist of songs from 1989, and I did not rate any one of them less than a high 3 from 5. In those cases where I liked them less, it is definitely a question of taste rather than poor penmanship. Every story brings a different style and a different subject, [all a little bleak, as reflects the mood at the end of the nineteen eighties] so I will share those I enjoyed most.

30 Years in the Bathroom, by Icy Sedgwick– It is 1989 and Diana Phelps, an aging star, stares at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Her age is well hidden, but she made her film debut thirty years earlier and now not even her beauty is sufficient to bring her the work she loves or the adoration she craves. Reduced to begging, she pleads for Aphrodite to renew her charms, but the gods are as fickle as fame itself.  (5)

Nowhere Land, by Maria Kelly– The residents of Area Zero watch as a new inmate is discharged from The Bullet. It’s a door, the only link they have with the real world, and they hope endlessly for a newcomer with a textbook that will help them understand where they are. They are dissidents: names and faces who simply disappeared, and they live in barracks to defend themselves from the monsters that inhabit this nowhere land. If only they could find a way back…. (5)

Chronical Child, by Lily Mulholland– At the Imperial mausoleum in Hachioji, Kiko-chan remembers her life as the Emperor Hirohito’s beloved concubine. She combs her hair, tugging free memories of her love and the warnings she offered in the hope he would choose love over duty.  (5)

Amir, by Benjamin Solah- One of the stories that made me weep, as it brings the image of the lone, unarmed student in Tiananmen Square and the horror that image represented into every other field of war. Amir is the story of solidarity, a word du jour for 1989, when artists and students stood up to tanks. (5)

The Banging on the Door, by Jonathan Crossfield– As the tide of political power swings in East Berlin, a Stasi informer flees from the neighbours he once monitored. Alone in the dark forest, in a hovel that offers scant protection from the elements, he meets with the spirit of another who has been hounded from safety by a witch-hunt. There, he learns to fear what his neighbours once feared most: the banging on the door. (5)

Cocaine, My Sweetheart, by Jodi Cleghorn– And as a last recommendation, a nod to the editor herself. In a slightly different tribute to 1989, this story leaves behind the political turmoil and moves closer to more personal tragedies. Cocaine, the mistress of choice for the 1980s.  A sequence of memories that leaps from one reality to another carries Rebecca and Toby back into the arms of their sweetheart. (5)

Table of Contents

Ashes to Ashes – Adam Byatt  [4]
Shrödinger’s Cat – Dale Challener Roe [4]
Diavol – Devin Watson [4]
Nowhere Land – Maria Kelly [5]
Chronicle Child – Lily Mulholland [5]
Angelgate – Tanya Bell [4]
All I Wanted – Rob Diaz [3]
Drilling Oil – Kaolin Imago Fire [3]
30 Years in the Bathroom – Icy Sedgwick [5]
Amir – Benjamin Solah [5]
Over the Wall in a Bubble – Susan May James[3]
Disintegration – Stacey Larner [4]
Choices – Laura Eno  [4]
Divided – Emma Newman [5]
Blueprints in the Dark - Rebecca Dobbie [4]
Eighteen for Life – Jo Hart [3]
New Year, Old Love – Jim Bronyaur [3]
Solider Out of Time – Laura Meyer [3]
The Story Bridge – Josh Donellan  [4]
If I Could Turn Back Time – Alison Wells [4]
An Exquisite Addition – Paul Anderson  [5]
Maggie’s Rat – Cath Barton  [4]
The Banging on the Door – Jonathan Crossfield  [5]
Now Voyager II – Monica Marier  [4]
Cocaine, My Sweetheart – Jodi Cleghorn  [5]
Paragon – Jason Coggin   [4]

All up, this is high quality short general fiction. Some readers might disagree with my ratings, marking some stories higher and others lower.  I believe, however, that all readers will enjoy this selection as much as I have.

Excellent. Recommended without reservation. Five stars.


Editor: Jodi Cleghorn
Literary Mix Tapes, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9871126-6-8 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-9871126-7-5 (eBook)
Publication Date: October, 2011
Dimensions: 203 x 127 mm (Perfect Bound)
Pages: 178
Cover Artwork: Blake Byrnes
Download Sample (PDF)

Literary Mix Tapes is the creative brainchild of eMergent Publishing’s co-founder Jodi Cleghorn, inspired by the practice of recording mix tapes on a double tape deck as a teenager in the 80′s and early 90′s.

The anthologies are a cross pollination of music and writing, and have roots in Cleghorn’s search for new ways to inspire fiction and encourage writers to work together. Built on a ‘collective submissions platform’ and tapping into the crowd-sourcing potential of social media and networking, the anthologies reflect eMergent Publishing’s determination to push the boundaries of the anthology and collaborative work, and to bring the freshest stories and newest authors to lovers of speculative short fiction.

Bio - editor and creative director:
Jodi Cleghorn is the Creative Director at eMergent Publishing and Managing Editor of the Chinese Whisperings and Literary Mix Tapes imprints. Passionate about short stories and a mad innovator of new anthology and collaborative models, Jodi creates publishing opportunities for emerging writers and is working to revive the close and supportive relationship editors and authors once thrived in. In her spare time she chases her own characters across an often dark narrative landscape.


Anthologies in the series, available at the eMP bookstore.
Nothing But Flowers
Eighty Nine
Deck the Halls
Tiny Dancer
Three anthologies are slated for release in 2013 based on the music and events of 1968, and the songs Hotel California and Sympathy for the Devil.

September 1, 2012 — 155 words

The LON Blog Tour ends! Prize Winners to be announced next week!

By 1889 Labs

The Legion of Nothing blog tour has come to an end after an exciting month of excerpts, interviews, podcasts, and reviews! It was a ton of fun and a BIG thanks goes out to all our sponsors who helped make the tour a success!

Want to check out some stuff you missed? Click here for the full schedule and links to each blog tour stop!

The giveaway has finally reached an end, so stay tuned because we'll announce the winners of the Kindle and other prizes on
September 8th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 31, 2012 — 561 words

Discontinuo by Maude Larke



Rosa and Gillian were the best basso continuo team in the business. Two accompanying musicians more in sync were impossible to find. In addition, Rosa knew how to sit calmly at her harpsichord and slip in the surest direction behind the backs of the biggest egos among leaders and soloists. Gillian laid down a viola da gamba line with balls. The male members joked about looking behind the instrument to see if there really were only boobs there. But they knew what a crack in the chops they would get from Rosa if they tried.

Everyone knew that the couple vibrated as a one bowed string. They believed the rumors about both of them straddling the sounding instruments to get their clits twanging. And they knew enough to stand out of the way after a performance had been particularly good. Being mowed down by Gillian's hard gamba case in their hurry to get home and rip off their clothes to celebrate was not at all a pleasant experience.

The Ensemble Trois Siècles was their main group, but they were as much eaters of music as eaters of each other, always ready to take on a new group, time and transport for the harpsichord permitting. It never tired them. It just seemed to feed the libido.

Then there was that day when that new guest leader came along. The violinist invited at the last minute to take the place of the star flute player's violinist husband while he was having his appendix out. The half-pint sparkplug who said baroque wasn't her usual thing but she liked to branch out. She laughed, shook her bushy hair out of her eyes, and did a burn-up of a Brandenburg. Too much swing to please most of the group. They waited for their harpsichordist to set things straight, but the chick had absolutely no contradiction. Rosa barely looked at her score. So did Gillian.

The guest did her quick gig and left, and the group lost its fire. Rosa let the leaders lead, and their egos led the group through more wayward, shifting rubato than Chopin's complete works contain.

Gillian's tone lost its ring; the musicians complained that she had become a magician, sawing the instrument in half. There was no sync at all any more to the continuo, sunk in a continuous vicious circle of cold shoulders and heated cat-hiss exchanges. If Rosa was going to bust chops, they risked being Gillian's.

The day Rosa stomped out of the concert hall alone, they all knew that they would be advertising for a new team.

They say Rosa's switched to piano, only plays contemporary, works in small ensembles, chases around the country to work with the bushy-haired half-pint.

Gillian is saving up to buy a new gamba to replace the one she broke over Rosa's head. She has one on loan for now. She paid a high security deposit for it.

*    *    *

Maude Larke lives in France. She has come back to creative writing after years in the university system, analyzing others’ texts, and to classical music as an ardent amateur, after fifteen years of piano and voice in her youth. Winner of the 2011 PhatSalmon Poetry Prize and the 2012 Swale Life Poetry Competition, she has been published in Naugatuck River Review, Oberon, Cyclamens and Swords, riverbabble, 52|250, and Sketchbook.