Good Night! Goodbye!

November 3, 2014

Alas, I must call an end to my day, here. I leave you with one last excerpt from I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills, one that shows the other side of Ezekiel’s job–the darker, less-amusing side.


“What was the difference between the McKays’ home and the church at Mayvale?”

Justinian pushed a boiled carrot across his plate. “I think it’s that… it’s people. At the McKay’s… the shop, it wasn’t—they were animals, and they were… already dead. They were supposed to be dead. Because we eat them, and because that’s their purpose. To be eaten, I mean, and so it’s not horrible. But in Mayvale… in Mayvale, they’re people, and….”

Ezekiel nodded at Justinian’s helpless wave. “A fair explanation. Good.”

They subsided into silence, Justinian picking at his dinner and Ezekiel methodically eating his. At last, Justinian spoke, not looking up from his food. “Br—Ezekiel?”


“How do your Brothers…? I was thinking. About those people. And wondering… why? How do you, how do your Brothers…. Don’t you wonder why? Don’t you, maybe….”

“All men are blessed and cursed alike with the knowledge of good and evil, and we are also blessed and cursed alike with the ability to choose to do evil,” Ezekiel said, making a small arc with the tines of his fork. “And the fact that you have spent so much time among those who strive only to do good adds to the horror of someone choosing to not only do evil, but to do it on such a scale. Then there’s the location of the evil deed, as well.”

“I see.” It was something to hold on to, anyway.

“I have seen, on two occasions, people who were… wrong. Not simple, because most simple people have decent natures, but just wrong. They did some horrible things, but I don’t think that they understood that what they were doing was both illegal and a sin. I recommended mercy, but I don’t know if they received it.”

“In Blakenall Heath, there’s a man that everyone calls Angry Berg. He isn’t simple, but there’s something not right about him,” Justinian said, considering the idea. “But he just shouts and can’t be still. He’s really rather sad, not evil. Whoever was in Mayvale… whoever that is, they… they don’t deserve mercy.”

“These people…. It was deeper than that.” Ezekiel put his fork down and wiped his mouth, then pushed his plate toward the edge of the table. “I would not recommend it, no. That is not for us to decide, however. We must not allow our righteous wrath to lead us down the same path we condemn.”

Justinian looked up, frowning and trying to decide what to say to that when Ezekiel spoke again.

“Some days, though, I surely would like to hang the bastards from the nearest tree without so much as thinking about taking them to court.” He smiled at Justinian’s startled laughter. “Better, now?”

“I think I may be, yes. Thank you, Br—Ezekiel.”

“You are quite welcome.”

You can find I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills at Dreamspinner Press and other fine retailers; you can find me at Thanks for hanging out with me!

Time Is Moving On…

November 3, 2014

Is there anything you’d like to know, about me or I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills, before our time is up?

One thing I haven’t talked about is the title, which comes from the first line of Psalm 121.

The full line is I lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help. There are two schools of thought regarding this line; one advocates a period (or nothing at all), while the other points out that ‘whence’ is an interrogative word and thus the line requires a question mark… Especially in light of the next line, which is My help cometh from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth.

ILUMETTH is really Justinian’s story, and his faith in God’s help makes the title a perfect fit. It took me a while to get there, though — I compiled a list of potential titles, only some of which were deliberately silly.

Through God We Shall Do Valiantly
I Fell In Love And All I Got Were These Lousy Physical Scars
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Rest Of My Life
And Then My Life Got Weird…
Justinian’s Totally Uncool Adventure
I Fell In Love And All I Got Were These Inexplicable And Apparently Holy Items
Unteachable Moments
They Never Mentioned This In School
How To Avoid Getting Eaten By Demons
No Dog-Things Allowed
Caution, My Enemies Bite
All Love Is A Blessing
How’re You Going To Top This?
I Shall Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills

Location, Location, Location…

November 3, 2014

So just where do Ezekiel and Justinian lay their heads when they’re not gallivanting around the countryside?

Home for them is Saint Gabriel and All Angels cathedral, located in Nottingham, East Midlands, Greater Anglia.

In keeping with the rest of the story, I located St. Gabriel’s in a place that didn’t exist at the time of the story and currently has nothing to do with churches or religion outside of its name. (It was a happy accident, really. ‘Trinity Row’ sounds like it should have something to do with churches, doesn’t it? It’s actually a pedestrian walkway.)

St Gabriel’s on a map of Nottingham from 1831:

At least I didn’t put it in the river.

Same map with the Nottingham of today superimposed:

You can see that some parts of Nottingham haven’t changed much in the last 180 years… (Modern map data from

The original file for the map is enormous, but worth downloading for a closer look… Especially when you remember that everything on the map was done by hand.

Why Nottingham? To be perfectly honest, I chose it for its proximity to Sheffield. Sheffield is one of the few real-world locations in the book, and I needed a larger town/smaller city within approximately a day and a half’s ride.

One of the interesting things about Nottingham is that it was granted a city charter despite not having a cathedral — a very unusual circumstance.

…I got thoroughly distracted trying to put together another map of the area, showing some of the places mentioned in the story, and now I have to go do other Grown-Up Things. Back soon!

Sing along if you know the words!

November 3, 2014

Like most authors, I listen to music when I write. While my personal taste is incredibly eclectic (I have Britney Spears, The Decemberists, and George Freidrich Handel’s Messiah in my library, among many other things), my stories tend to have demands of their own when it comes to music.

ILUMETTH’s playlist has a somewhat less modern slant than most of my stories do, but of the recent releases it’s the fundamental messages that are more important than when it was composed. Here’s a list of what I listened to (links go to YouTube) and some background info; at the end are a couple of other songs, one ‘for fun’ and the other because it may or may not belong.

Do you have songs that you associate with a particular book, character, or story setting? Share them in the comments!

Whom Shall I Fear? [God Of Angel Armies] — Chris Tomlin – Burning Lights

There are several Christian radio stations in my city, and this song was released as I was in the middle of re/writing ILUMETTH. The second time I heard it, I knew that it was unequivocally Justinian’s theme – if I didn’t know better, I might have thought that it was written for him.

My Lighthouse – Rend Collective – The Art Of Celebration

While Justinian doesn’t have as many troubles as other people, the troubles he does have are definitely less mundane than theirs.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – Martin Luther – Performed by St Olaf’s Choir

This song is another that works well with Justinian’s faith/personality.

One of the interesting things about the Anglican communion is that you can pretty much count on singing all of the verses in a hymn, even if it has, like, eight of them. I’ve often wondered about the reason for it, and came across a half-joking assertion that you sing every verse because—at least with A Mighty Fortress–if you stop after the first one, the Adversary wins… Not really the kind of thing any church wants to promote.

Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (All-Night Vigil)

I have to admit that I actually bought this after finding out that it’s one of Misha Collins’s favorite things to listen to. I did listen to samples before I paid for it, however, and I do honestly like it on its own merits rather than because someone famous also likes it. (If it had been, I don’t know, 35 Classic Hog Calls, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. …Oh, who am I kidding? You never know when an album of hog calls might come in handy. Yes, I do own a lot of things I don’t actually need, why do you ask?)

Alessandro Scarlatti’s Cecilian Vespers

I was actually looking for musical settings of Psalm 121 when I came across this, and technically I didn’t even know about it until well after ILUMETTH had started the editing process. I did listen to it as I made corrections/additions, however, so it totally counts.

Mozart’s Requiem

Grand, epic, sweeping, and surprisingly sweet, almost tender, at the end. Fitting music for writing about Good vs. Evil.

This Is Gonna Hurt – Sixx:AM – This Is Gonna Hurt

This song was the inspiration for the climax of ILUMETTH. Most of the song doesn’t really apply to either Ezekiel or Justinian, but you can find parts of it in that particular scene now that you know what to look for.

Psalm 121 – Serin

I’m a little…odd, when it comes to religious music. Sometimes, I don’t care for any of the English versions of them, and so it is with Psalm 121. I can’t really say why, either.

Other Songs:

Starry Eyes – The Nick Hexum Quintet – My Shadow Pages

Yes, that’s the Nick Hexum, as in “the lead singer of 311″ Nick Hexum. If ILUMETTH were a movie, this would probably be the song in the closing credits.

On My Own – Ashes Remain – What We’ve Become

I’m still not entirely sure if this song belongs on this playlist. I mean, I listened to it, yes, but I keep waffling over whether it really fits [Character] or if I just want it to. Make up your own mind!

You can also find this playlist on 8tracks, with a bonus track at the end.


- Whom Shall I Fear? (God Of Angel Armies) — Chris Tomlin

- My Lighthouse — Rend Collective Experiment

- A Mighty Fortress Is Our God — Martin Luther/The Joslin Grove Choral Society

- Il Vespero de Santa Cecilia: Psalm 121/122 Laetatus Sum: Amen — Alessandro Scarlatti/Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

- Il Vespero de Santa Cecilia: Psalm 109/110: Dixit Domine: Gloria Patri — Alessandro Scarlatti/Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

- All-Night Vigil/Vespers: O Gladsome Light — Rachmaninov/Dale Warland Singers

- All-Night Vigil/Vespers: To Thee, The Victorious Leader — Rachmaninov/Dale Warland Singers

- Requiem: Rex Tremendae — Mozart; Praga Sinfonietta/Vox Pragae Choir

- Requiem: Lux Aeterna — Mozart; Praga Sinfonietta/Vox Praga Choir

- Psalm 121 — Serin

- This Is Gonna Hurt — Sixx:A.M.

- Starry Eyes — The Nick Hexum Quintet

- On My Own — Ashes Remain

- Psalm 121 — Jeff Presley & South Central Bluegrass

About the cover…

November 3, 2014

The cover for ILUMETTH was created by John Coulthart, who did an amazing job of converting the disparate bits of stuff in my head into a coherent (and beautiful) whole. I started off by deciding that Justinian and Ezekiel wouldn’t be on the cover, and then… Things sort of fell apart, because I didn’t know what I did want. After thinking about it for a bit, I decided some of the more important objects from the story would be a good idea, and tried to explain what it was I had in mind. I also sent along some visual aides, though I suspect they were more helpful in reassuring Mr. Coulthart that he would always have work… Heh.

Here are some of the ingredients that went into the cover:

I can't draw, which is why I'm a writer.

The thing on the bottom of the shield is supposed to be a lion.

This is even worse than the first one.
That’s a tree, not a fried egg.


The Anglican rosary is slightly different from its Roman Catholic counterpart.

I also included a description of the shield and sword:

From this distance, he could see that the shield sported subtle decorations engraved around each of the gems—vines dripping fruit wound about the one in the upper left; what appeared to be a massive olive tree supported the second in the upper right; a lion’s head with a mane of flames and a crown held the third stone in his teeth. He couldn’t read the script that ran down the blade of the sword, but he could see that the crossguard was shaped like sturdy branches.

To take all of that and turn it into the cover we see today… Yeah. I’m really pleased.


Good Morning!

November 3, 2014

I’m Connor Wright, fortified with toast and leftover Halloween candy, and here to talk about I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills, just released into the wild today.


John Coulthart made this gorgeous cover from the bits and bobs I plucked from the lint trap of my brain.


I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills started life mostly as a way for me to have a character who responded to “[Noun] be with you,” with “And also with you.” no matter what the [noun] might be. That was the idea, anyway, but as usual with my stories, it soon took on a life of its own.

My own interest in liturgy and ritual, in what-ifs and what-would-the-world-be-like-ifs, helped it expand and take shape as an alternate-universe historical. I also tried to take the trope of an older, more experienced person protecting a young newbie and turn it on its head, though it ended up being more of a mutual sort of thing (which was fine with me).

As for what ILUMETTH is about, well. Here’s a blurb and an excerpt.

Justinian Clark, a new-minted journeyman scribe, has a lot of faith: Faith in God goes without saying; faith in the orderly workings of the universe; faith in the administrative minutiae that ticks along in the background of his life. That minutiae has brought him to Saint Gabriel and All Angels cathedral, where he is assigned to assist Brother Ezekiel Frost.

Ezekiel Frost, a ten-year veteran of The Eternal Brotherhood of the Guardians of the Church of Greater Anglia, is quite comfortable with his routine: helping the people of St. Gabriel’s parish, annoying the archdeacon, and not getting too used to his assistants. While he doubts that having a complete novice assigned to him will change this pattern in any way, he resolves to make the best of it.

Between exorcisms, murders, the attention of something, and an overly-observant child, Justinian and Ezekiel have no time to settle into a comfortable routine. Nothing is as certain as they once believed, and they can only hope their faith will see them through.



BROTHER EZEKIEL Frost surveyed the knot of new journeymen awaiting assignment and wondered, with a decided lack of enthusiasm, which of them was to be his new assistant. One face in particular—round, young—caught his eye, and he leaned over to whisper to the woman standing beside him. “I thought the scribes all had to be of age.”

“They are,” she said, jabbing him with her elbow as a shuffling sound at the front of the room turned into a sharp rapping on a lectern. “Sh.”

“Good morning,” Archdeacon Gladwyn said, nodding as everyone replied. “As we all know why we’re here, I shan’t waste any time. Scribe Hobbs to Sister Adams. Scribe Jenkins to Sister Arnold. Scribe Bekins to Brother Baskin. Scribe Clark to Brother Frost. Scribe….”

Ezekiel pursed his lips as the scribe he’d noticed—Clark—reacted to having his name called by dropping the pencil he held. He forced a smile onto his face, however, and crossed the short distance to Clark. “Brother Frost,” he said, holding out his hand.

“Um, Scribe Clark,” the young man said, reaching out to shake Ezekiel’s hand before he realized he was holding the pencil he’d retrieved; he plucked it out with his free hand and finally made contact. “Sorry.”

“That’s all right.” Ezekiel’s opinion rose a little on the strength of Clark’s grip. “Let’s go find something to eat. I had to miss breakfast for this, and I imagine you probably didn’t eat anything either.”

“I…. What about assignments? Isn’t the archdeacon going to—”

Ezekiel shook his head and turned toward the door. “I’ve got my assignment already, and Gladwyn bores me to tears.”

Clark flinched and dropped his pencil again. “I…. You…. Um.”

“I said it.” Ezekiel looked over his shoulder. “You know where the dining hall is, yes?”

“No. Not… not really.” Clark straightened up and put the pencil in his pocket. “We arrived only yesterday.”

Tch. Because it’s so much easier to learn where things are if it’s just one more thing you have to know,” Ezekiel grumbled, then shook his head and started for the door. “Not your fault.”


“You’re expected to learn the layout of the cathedral—without a map—as well as who you’ll be assisting and how to get fed and whether you’ve got to make friends with a horse and all the other little things that make up life around here. Gladwyn really ought to let the new faces have a few days to at least learn how to get to the privies and the dining hall before the rest of it comes down on them.” Ezekiel opened the door and stepped into the corridor beyond. “Come on, let’s begin the process of getting on one another’s nerves.”

“Oh,” Clark said, following in Ezekiel’s wake like a confused kitten.



JUSTINIAN CLARK fidgeted with his fork, still wondering what Brother Frost had meant by his nerves statement. The badge on the man’s right sleeve featured a sword, point down, most of which was hidden by a shield. The shield was plain, with a simple cross in the center; the cross itself was surmounted by a simple gold cross: the symbol of the Brotherhood of Guardians. Which meant that Brother Frost was responsible for defending everyone against anything… unholy. Which in turn meant that—Frost was speaking to him. “I’m terribly sorry, what?”

“I simply said that I’m not much for titles, so I only use them when I must. You may call me Ezekiel, and I’ll call you something other than Clark if it’s all the same to you.” Ezekiel raised his eyebrows.

“I, um, all right. Justinian.” No one from the Brothers and Sisters of the Quill had warned him that this might happen. Oh, they’d told him not to be upset if he wasn’t treated with much respect at first, but that was entirely different.

“Justinian. Good. First thing you should know about me—and I’ve already demonstrated this—is that I’m likely to shock or offend you sooner rather than later.”

“I see.”

Ezekiel adjusted the alignment of a slice of bacon relative to the edge of a piece of bread on his plate. “If it’s sooner, and if it’s something you really don’t want to deal with, say so. No sense in the two of us trying to work things out if neither of us is interested. It never ends well.”

Justinian wondered if there was some history behind Ezekiel’s warning, but he didn’t ask. “I only just met you,” he pointed out instead.

“That may be, but—look, I haven’t had the best luck with my assistants in the past,” Ezekiel said, his mouth pulling askew in remembered distaste, “so I’m just trying to make sure no one is surprised by anything.”

“All right,” Justinian said, then decided to change the subject. He tilted his head to the side and pointed with his fork at the badge on Ezekiel’s right sleeve. “You’re a Guardian. What’s your assignment?”

“I am indeed a member of The Eternal No-Longer-A-Brotherhood of the Guardians of the Church of Greater Anglia.” Ezekiel paused for a moment, his expression holding a touch of amusement. “As for our assignment, well…. I’m not entirely sure, yet, as I ducked out of Gladwyn’s lecture and haven’t gone to look for messages for me today.”

Justinian blinked and shook his head, frowning over his breakfast. Ezekiel’s modification of the group’s name was not incorrect, given that they had admitted Sisters to their ranks for nearly a century. “You said you knew what your assignment was,” he said, trying to keep accusation and panic out of his voice.

“And I do, in the general sense.” Ezekiel shrugged. “I’m a Guardian, therefore it stands to reason that I’ll be guarding. The fiddly bits, where and from what and when, that I don’t know—outside of the circuit I normally ride, anyway. Important question for you, by the way.”

“I… I think I see why you’ve had some, um, difficulty. With other assistants.” Justinian wondered what would happen if he dared to ask the archdeacon for reassignment. “Yes?”

“Have you ever seen anyone or anything that’d died?”

He shook his head again and forced himself to eat some of his food. “No. Not really.”


“Is that—”

“It’s always a possibility.”

Justinian pushed his plate away. “Oh.”

“But on the other hand, I’ve also spent months doing nothing more exciting than traveling between libraries, sorting through hundreds of fusty old books and scrolls and fragments, and seen nothing worse than the occasional dried-up husk of an ancient mouse.” Ezekiel pointed at Justinian’s plate. “You should eat. Learn to take advantage of food when you have it, because you’ll miss it when you’re caught in a downpour a day and a half from someone else’s cooking.”


“Consider this your second introductory warning,” he said, not unkindly. “I’m not trying to make you miserable, but one thing I know about myself is that I am not the valiant, dashing, laugh-in-the-face-of-danger kind of man that the Brotherhood likes to pretend we are in order to dazzle boys and girls into our ranks.”

“You’re quite sure about that?” Justinian said, pressing his lips together afterward. Ezekiel’s laughter startled him and he ducked his head, then continued, “I’m not miserable. Yet.”

“I see. Well, then. Once we’re done here, I’ll drag you along to find out exactly what we’re expected to be doing.”

Halloween Costume Contest

October 21, 2014

Think you know your DSP authors pretty well? Why not enter our Halloween Costume Contest and see!

Take a look below and see if you can match the correct Dreamspinner and Harmony Ink authors featured in these costume photos. If you get them all right, you’ll be entered in a draw to win one of three prizes!

To enter, email your guesses to hayley [at]  Contest closes Oct. 25th at 11:59pm Eastern!


Possible authors

K.C. Wells, Suki Fleet, Kim Fielding, Angel Martinez, Allison Cassatta, Cate Ashwood, Nic Starr, L.J. LaBarthe, M.A. Church, Connie Bailey, MB Mulhall, Shira Anthony, Poppy Dennison, Wade Kelly, Tali Spencer, Charlie Cochet, S.A. Garcia, Nicole McCormick.

Photos (click to enlarge)

1. (Person featured on the right)


2. (Both people)




4. (Centre, in Cinderella mask)


5. (Mummy, on right)




Most Beautiful Words: Upcoming!

October 10, 2014

My time here grows short, but I can’t tell you what an AMAZING experience this has been! Remember, if you haven’t already–visit THIS post and answer the Q for your chance to win a copy of Most Beautiful Words!

If you’re curious what’s next for ol’ Raine O’Tierney, here are my contracted works through the spring:

  • Bowl Full of Cherries (Dreamspinner Press, Dec 2014)
  • Alchemy Ever After (Dreamspinner Press, Jan 2015)
  • I’ll Always Miss You (Harmony Ink, Mar 2015)

I’m also currently working on an anthology with LJ LaBarthe and Cate Ashwood, as well as the sequel to Bowl Full of Cherries, and the sequel to Sweet Giordan, Please Remember.

Remember to keep on readin’ the sweetness and if you want to talk some more, please feel free to contact me in any of these ways:


LGBT Author Interviews:

Facebook Fan Page:




Most Beautiful Words: Crafting Raine’s Perfect Character

October 10, 2014

Step one, start with some random inspiration…

A photo is good:


Or a random song:

Then, walk a dachshund and think about what the lyrics + the picture might mean. Have an epiphany at the apartment mailboxes if not distracted by the mean lady across the street.

Hurry quickly home and get on Behind the Name

  • Reject that name
  • And that one
  • And that one
  • Ooh! This one works. Nope. Rejected.
  • Go back to the first name.

Stare at a dachshund.


Pick a profession you know nothing about.

Research, research, research.

Spend a million hours on tumblr looking for a gent to match your new awesome character.

And then of course…


Wanna see how my process all comes together? Consider checking out one of my Dreamspinner Press books! :)

Most Beautiful Words: The Storykeeper

October 10, 2014

One of the things that makes Most Beautiful Words unique is that part of the story is told from the PoV of Autumn, the MC’s great-granddaughter. This was especially risky when you consider the ongoing female charas vs. no female charas debate some authors and readers have with M/M romance.

For me, the decision to include Autumn was a simple one. Never mind that I enjoy these types of characters, she is wholly integral to the plot because Autumn is the story keeper.

Tommy was young when he shared his secret romance with Roy and when Roy is taken from him far too soon, Tommy locks that part of himself–and all he and Roy shared–away. It isn’t until he’s a very old man with a very curious great-granddaughter that those stories come out once again.


To me, it was important to keep a record of Tommy and Roy’s love…and Autumn is that Storykeeper.