Today, I'm featuring a new urban fantasy release, Don't Touch: Null City Book II, from Barb Taub.
As a gift to my readers, Barb is offering a copy of Don't Touch to one commenter. Also, for anyone who posts a comment, she'll offer a new Null City story, They Fight Crime!
Christmas in Austria is not for the faint hearted. While a familiar St. Nicholas does make the rounds, in many Germanic traditions he’s accompanied by a terrifying beast called the Krampus whose job is to punish – and even take away – naughty children. With his curling horns, long red tongue, and tail, the Krampus is enough to chill any heart.
1Nikolaus and Krampus in Austria. Newspaper-illustration from 1896 (Wikipedia Commons, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nikolaus_krampus.jpg]
The other inspiration for this story is the image of Rapunzel. But in Don’t Touch, Lette isn’t the helplessgirl awaiting rescue by her prince. Instead, I go back to the origins of the folk story in sources such as GiambattistaBasile’sTale of Tales from 1616, where she is actually the hero who rescues herself and her children, and then saves her lover. Like her earliest predecessors, Lette is a tough, self-reliant young woman who tells her would-be prince, “If I need rescuing, I’ll do it myself.”
My final message in Don’t Touch is that we build our own towers. They can provide safety; they can even be gorgeous and appealing, but if they keep us from truly living our lives or cut us off from others, they are still our prisons. I think that’s one of the things I love the most about the holiday season. No matter how often we hear them, those messages of peace and goodwill just keep reminding us of our connections to each other. More sophisticated folk can turn up noses at the consumerism and the crowds, but I believe the reason we all come back for more every year is that basic message of hope and belief.
Some years ago, I wrote a piece for the Wall St. Journalthat poked (a little) fun at those who sneer at holiday messages. Since then it's appeared on hundreds of websites, and has been attributed to several people including my (very surprised) husband. I’d like to think that Lette would be amused.
On the 12th day of the Eurocentrically imposed midwinter festival, my acquaintance-rape survivor gave to me,
TWELVE males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming,
ELEVEN pipers piping (plus the 18-member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their union contract even though they will not be asked to play a note...),
TEN melanin-deprived testosterone-poisoned scions of the patriarchal ruling class system leaping,
NINE persons engaged in rhythmic self-expression,
EIGHT economically disadvantaged female persons stealing milk-products from enslaved bovine-Americans,
SEVEN endangered swans swimming on federally protected wetlands,
SIX enslaved fowl-Americans producing stolen nonhuman animal products,
FIVE golden symbols of culturally sanctioned enforced domestic Incarceration,
(Note: after members of the Animal Liberation Front threatened to throw red paint at my computer, the calling birds, French hens and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoid further animal-American enslavement, the remaining gift package has been revised.)
FOUR hours of recorded whale songs,
THREE deconstructionist poets,
TWO Sierra Club calendars, printed on recycled processed tree carcasses and a Spotted Owl activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.
(The author acknowledges inspiration from the Los Angeles Times booklet "Guidelines on Ethnic, Racial, Sexual and other Identification," and Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf's "The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook.")
By Barb Taub, Wall Street Journal, 1/6/1994.
Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Steam Punk
Publisher: Taliesin Publishing
Date of Publication: December 5, 2013
Number of pages: 123
Word Count: 31522
Cover Artist: James Caldwell
Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it.
Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family ‘gift’. Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between.
Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by a monster who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.
Here are Taliesin's current outlets:
• Amazon, all worldwide sites
• Apple/iBook – all worldwide outlets in 51 countries
• Barnes & Noble
• All Romance eBooks
Excerpt From Lette Simoneau’s LiveJournal Blog
WORST. Day-After-Birthday. EVER.
LiveJournal, January 20, 2003 by LetteS
Yesterday was my birthday (13!) so Mom said I could start this LiveJournal blog if I keep it private. But I never thought I would start my first post by saying that this morning at 6:15AM I found out I am a freak.
After all the birthday presents and cake, last night when I got into my (brand new!) loft bed I was a normal, neurotic (isn’t that a great word?) angst-filled (I had to look that one up too) new teenager. Then my alarm went off this morning. I woke up, and I could feel colors. Through my fingertips.
Yeah, I know: so freak. My fingers were touching my new quilt, and even though my eyes were still closed, I could feel vermillion, titian, and bittersweet. Who knew those were even words, let alone colors? I walked around my room with my eyes closed and fingers out. Dresser? Sienna brown. Mom’s evil cat George? Atrous black and niveous white. Walls? Glaucus blue (which sounded a lot better as “tropical lagoon” on the paint chip card).
Lamest. Superpower. Ever.
LiveJournal, October 28, 2012 by LetteS
—Lette’s Birth Date Calculator: 22 years, 9.2 months
Stefan came back to the little table covered with the remains of our feast. “Lette.” He picked up my gloved hand and wrapped his own around it. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. He. Held. My. Hand. “You and I know what it’s like to try to live with what you’ve inherited from your family. If I do what they want, my life will be spent literally eating the energy from frightening and punishing children. Their fear and their pain will keep me alive.”
He reached for my other hand. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can go to Null City, together. We can turn our backs on what our families have made us, and we can have a good life. A human life.”
No longer twinkling, his blue eyes pleaded with me. “Come with me, Lette. We can rescue each other.”
I shook my head. “My parents…”
“Lette.” His whisper was warm, dark, full of sin and promise. “You’re young. Beautiful. You have to have wondered…imagined someone kissing you. Touching your bare skin. Making love to you. Giving you babies. That someone could be me.” He leaned in, and his lips touched mine so softly I could barely feel them. Then I did feel—little kisses on my forehead, nose, in lines down my cheeks, tasting my lips. My hands couldn’t feel his skin, but his warmth came through my gloves. His tongue brushed the seam of my lips and, when I opened my mouth, curled around mine for a moment while his lips pressed harder. Then he pulled back and laughed a bit. “You’re allowed to kiss back, you know.”
“I don’t know how.”
“Lette, you deserve love. Come with me to Null City. I know we’ve just met, but we have something in common. There has to be a reason we were brought together. Maybe we’re meant for each other. Lette—please. Please rescue me.”
He leaned in again, and this time I leaned forward too. Now that I was barefoot, we were almost the same height. My hands came up to his shoulders, and then I ran one gloved finger along his lips. My own lips were touching what my fingers could never know—bristles from his day-old beard, soft eyelids and spiky lashes flat against his cheeks, the surprise of his earlobe, the swirl of his dimple, back to lips that opened for me. I opened my own mouth, and he tasted like turkey, and apple cider, and something I couldn’t name. My hands went to his hair to pull his head closer. Stefan yelled and pulled back. When I opened my eyes, he was cradling the place on his head where I’d hit him with the cat food cans.
About the Author:
In a former life, Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. Now living in an English castle with her prince-of-a-guy and the world's most spoiled AussieDog, she enjoys translating from British to American, travel, and collaborating with daughter Hannah on the main volumes of the Null City series.
Blog URL http://barbtaub.com
Facebook URL https://www.facebook.com/NullCityNovel
Twitter Name @barbtaub
LinkedIn URL http://www.linkedin.com/in/barbtaub