Friday, June 5, 2015

Ballet Shoes (on Sale)

When I was seven, my parents took me to see The Snow Maiden, as performed by the London Festival Ballet, now the English National Ballet. I fell in love with ballet, then and forever. In the years since, I have seen many great dancers: Maya Plisetkaya, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Altynai Assylmuratova, Julio Bocca, Nina Ananiashvili, Ethan Stiefel, Gillian Murphy, Peter Boals. And those are just a few of the live performances; on television and video I have watched an uncounted number of Giselles, Kitris, Juliets, Nikiyas, Medoras, and more. I took class as a child, then for twenty-five years as an adult of dubious competence but sincere dedication; I still dance in my office most days to offset the unhealthful effects of too many hours sitting at my computer. I love Balanchine and Ratmansky and Wheeldon, too, but when push comes to shove, it’s the old story ballets that tug at my heart strings. A couple of decades ago, I created my own ballerina, Alessandra Sinclair—informally known as Sasha—just to explore what meaning those old nineteenth-century classics might have for our modern world. And now I offer her two books, free of charge, for forty-eight hours—to celebrate the seventh anniversary this month of my invaluable writers’ group, the basis of Five Directions Press.

Desert Flower (based on Giselle) and Kingdom of the Shades (La Bayadère) will be available without charge for Kindle apps and devices from 12:01 AM on Friday, June 5, to 11:59 PM on Saturday, June 6 (Pacific Daylight Time). If you love ballet and romance (the science aspect is minimal) or just want to see whether you like my style enough to take a chance on my historical fiction, here’s your opportunity. Don’t miss it: this is my first free promotion in three years, and it may well be the last....

Descriptions, excerpts, and links follow.

Desert Flower

Love plays no part in marriage arrangements on the desert planet of Tarkei. So when Danion, junior priest of the sun goddess, finds himself drawn, in defiance of his oath of celibacy, to a human ballerina  encountered by chance, he does his best to resist. The ballerina, tormented by memories of violence that may be real or just the product of an unknown enemy's twisted mind, has no interest in him anyway—or so they think.

But Tarkei has an ancient tradition: that two unusually compatible people, whether they believe they belong together or not, can bond at first touch. Once formed, the link lasts until death. Legend calls it “the joining.” Danion calls it a myth. He and his ballerina will soon discover who’s right.


Fabric gleamed in the flickering candle flame. Shadows danced on the cave walls. Blush pink ribbons slid through her fingers—soft and smooth. Once, before her mother died, she had stroked a m’retta with fur like this.

“What are these?” Entranced, Choli held out her find to the man who sat cross-legged in the corner, who had watched without speaking while she rummaged through his few possessions. Tall and slender, dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned, austere in his charcoal robe, he looked like the men of her world. But no man of her world would have tolerated her presence, never mind giving her free run of his home. This one sat, still as the rocks at his back, hands folded like a scholar or a priest. Or so they said, the people of the caves.

Choli wondered how they knew. Scholars were rare among the Kazrati. In her thirteen years, she had not met a single one. Priests were not so rare, but they were intimidating. Danion, of course, was not Kazrati, although he appeared to be.

His deep, cool voice answered the question she had almost forgotten asking. “They are shoes.”

Kingdom of the Shades

Sixty-three years have passed since the meeting of Danion and his ballerina in the desert, but the memory of her continues to haunt him. Until one day in a cafeteria barely worth the name, an exchange with a surly waitress ends with him staring at that beloved form. A holographic projection—or Sasha herself, inexplicably restored to life?

Tarkei do not believe in miracles, but the evidence points to Sasha’s return. At last, Danion and his wife can be together. Or could, if he had not taken responsibility for guiding a group of young rebels whom he cannot abandon—not once he recognizes the existence of a traitor in their midst.


Spirit voices surrounded her, speaking a language she did not understand but vaguely recognized as one she had heard before. White light hurt her eyes, brilliant light that shone through her closed lids, causing pain even though she could not open them. If she had the strength to move, she would have turned her head. Instead, she seemed to be floating in a sea of light, the spirit voices bearing her up.

Slowly, the images crystallized. She could not see, but she could hear. The words took shape in her head. She struggled to separate them, to wrest the meaning from them, but at the instant they became clear, sensation left her, and she sank back into darkness.

And so it went, for how long she did not know. Wherever she was, time did not exist. She floated from the tunnel of darkness to the sea of light and back, spirit voices rising and falling around her.

Sasha Sinclair lay between soft clean sheets, listening to words that she almost understood. Her head ached; her whole body ached, as if someone had taken a bat and broken every bone she had. Her skin felt scorched; the sheets weighed her down, sticking to the curled paper that had once been epidermis.

Image no. 20528287, purchased from

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