Book Blitz: The Grove by Karri Thompson #youngadult #fantasy @KarriThompson

The Grove
Karri Thompson
Publication date: September 21st 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Entering the woods is forbidden. To go in can mean a fate worse than death. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Laura has been told. But living in a new town with nothing to do, she ignores her mother’s dire warnings and explores the forest near her home.

The trees entice Laura deeper into the woods. A mysterious, soothing voice calls her name, and she becomes lost. When a young man finds her, she thinks she’s saved. But he insists their meeting is more than a coincidence. For centuries, his colony has been waiting for a savior. With his alluring eyes and gentle smile, Laura almost believes his crazy story.

Caught between worlds, and with her life at stake, she doesn’t know who to believe or trust. Her heart tells her one thing and her head another.

Is it her destiny, or will her fate only postpone the inevitable?

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EXCERPT:

The hair on my arms rose. My heart thumped hard, the blood pulsing through my chest into my throat. Looking left and right, my muscles tensed to run or fight.

“Who’s there? What do you want?” I said at the same low whisper, my voice shaking.

A shimmering blur disappeared behind a tree—a featureless something, flashing in indistinguishable color as quickly as a silent whip.

“Laura,” someone said again, gentle and feather-light, drifting between the largest trees in front of me.

I held my breath.

“Laura.” My name resonated through the humid night air, echoing through the sugar maples before it thinned and died.

It was a male voice, full- bodied, but lacking malevolence and hostility. Strangely, it put me at ease. There must be a boy somewhere out here in the woods. I was sure of it. The voice sounded young, maybe my age of seventeen.

Or maybe it was a ghost. My Uncle Dean had told me the locals believed these woods were haunted. But ghosts couldn’t kill. At least that’s what I believed.

“Who are you?” I asked, relaxing my stiff muscles just enough to take a step forward. My shoulders dropped as I exhaled a pent-up breath. Broadening my stance, I leaned forward, raising the branch, and squeezed my eyes shut, hoping to hear it again.

“Laura,” it repeated. The word lingered through the dead of night, ringing softly in my ears. I opened my eyes.

“How do you know my name?” I asked, moving toward the direction of the voice. As a cool breeze rustled my pajama shorts, I wrapped one arm around myself.

A bird chirp rode the wind, followed by several more, weaving into a rhythm of tweets and trills. I looked up. Within the tousle of leaves and sway of thin limbs, perched a gathering of birds, flexing their wings for flight.

I took a step backwards, my eyes fixed on the canopy of leaves.

The bird calls increased, one squawk overlapping the other until their unique melody collapsed, twisting into an eerie song and wing beats.

“A–are you still there?” I breathed, eyeing the woods ahead of me and taking another step back.

A smear of color flashed to my left, and a cloud of leaves rose from the forest floor.

“Don’t go,” I said, breaking from a whisper.

The woods resonated with angry bird speak, their unnatural song thumping in my ears.

“I want to see you,” I shouted above the rising mad twitter.

A shadow skated across the ground at my feet. Wings flapped overhead, and a bird beak met my scalp with a hard peck.

Author Bio:

Karri Thompson, a native of San Diego, attended San Diego State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in education. When she’s not writing novels and teaching high school English, she can be found nerding out at San Diego Comic-Con and cooking delicious meals for her family. Karri is the recipient of the San Diego Book Awards Best Published Young Adult Novel for 2014.

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Book Blitz: Charm Wars by Dan Lutts #fantasy #youngadult @DanLuttsAuthor

Charm Wars
Dan Lutts
(Charm Wars, #1)
Publication date: September 2nd 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Welcome to Caldon, a land of mages and magic, where the noblesse possess massive political and magical power and destroy anyone who threatens the noblesse way of life—especially the commoners.

Rill Larkin, the son of a commoner blacksmith, has high ambitions. To be a mage, join the exalted ranks of the ruling noblesse, and establish his own noblesse family. Defying both the system and his family, Rill becomes the apprentice of Deuth Estati, a powerful archmage. But appearances deceive. As training progresses, Rill learns of decades-long secrets and manipulations that threaten his dream. And Deuth might not be as benevolent as Rill thought.

Alyse Dejune despises magic, even if she does belong to one of the oldest and most powerful noblesse families in Caldon. The deceits and treacheries of noblesse life and the loveless marriage alliances among the noblesse families disgust her. Her family however has high expectations: that she fulfill her role as a noblesse girl by marrying Troy Estati, an arrogant, selfish noblesse boy she does not love. And Alyse harbors a secret—the potential to become one of the most powerful mages in generations and wield forbidden magic—that, if revealed, could mean her death.

In this deadly game of ever-shifting alliances, where the state wages perpetual war against an ancient enemy, Rill and Alyse are thrown together in a land where magic is failing. And as greedy noblesse families raid surrounding family compounds for powerful charms, Rill and Alyse are left standing at a terrible crossroads.

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EXCERPT:

“This place is a real treasure trove,” Rill said as he and Jedd maneuvered the sarcophagus cover onto the ground. “If a charm seeker did open this tomb, why did she take the charm from that one Old Mage but not his staff? And why did she leave all the other charms and staffs behind? I wonder—”

“How fortunate for me she did,” a voice said behind them. “And how unfortunate for you.”

Rill and Jedd whirled around.

Just inside the entrance stood a skinny, middle-aged man of medium height. His gray tunic and tan pants were dirty and patched and his boots old and scuffed. Oily, unkempt hair framed his pockmarked face. In his right hand, he held a staff. The light from Rill’s and Jedd’s torches danced shadows across his face, making his malevolent grin appear even more evil.

A blacksmith’s vise clamped Rill’s chest making it hard for him to breathe. A rohan! A backwatcher or protector—either a mage or a bladeswoman or bladesman—who had been expelled by a noblesse matriarch for breaking her oath to serve and protect the matriarch’s family. An outcast from society no other noblesse First or Lesser Family would touch. A woman or man who was lower even than the criminals, dagger women, and prostitutes living in Caldon’s most dangerous neighborhood, The Slums.

Rill’s gaze fastened on the rohan’s left hand that clutched something beneath his grimy tunic.

A charm.

“Actus,” the rohan mage said, his sinister smile showing he’d deliberately spoken the word loud enough for Rill and Jedd to hear.

Rill eyed the staff, his stomach paining him. The rohan had activated his charm. All he had to do now was point the staff at a target and cast a spell. Rill’s gaze slid to Jedd, who appeared as rigid as a marble statue.

With exaggerated slowness, the rohan aimed the staff at the gap between Rill and Jedd, then deliberately moved it from one to the other. His lips drew up into a cruel smile, making Rill feel like a mouse being toyed with by a cat.

Rill choked on a lump of regret. Why didn’t I listen to Jedd and leave the coffins alone? We could of been partway home by now. I could of been a mage. But now I never will be.

Slowly and deliberately, the rohan inhaled a mouthful of air and said, “Luco!”

Rill’s frightened breath blended with Jedd’s when the crystal burst into life, and white mage light flooded the tomb.

The rohan laughed as if he’d just watched a first-rate comedy routine as he stepped several paces forward. “Scared of a little light, boys?”

Rill’s gaze jumped to Jedd. His cousin was glowering at the man, his hands balled into fists.

The rohan smirked at Jedd.

Slowly, keeping his eyes on the rohan, Rill moved his hand toward his sword’s brown leather grip.

The rohan must have had invisible eyes in the side of his head. With a chuckle, he casually pointed the staff at Rill. “Foolish boy. I can kill you before your sword’s half out of its scabbard.”

Rill let his hand drop to his side.

Tsk-tsk,” the rohan said, drawing closer. “Naughty boys charm seeking. That’s a death offense. Unless you’re mages, of course. Are you mages, naughty boys?”

“You know we ain’t,” Rill said through clenched teeth.

The rohan stepped forward a few more paces until only a staff’s length separated them. “When I came across your well-fed and groomed horses a while ago, I thought that maybe their owners came from good families. Families with money. So I went looking for you. My goodness, you weren’t hard to find. Not with all that racket you made in here with the cougar. Boys with horses and swords. And purses hanging from their belts.” His gaze riveted itself to Rill. “And with such interesting things inside.”

Rill’s heart froze into a lump of ice as he forced himself to return the rohan’s stare. He saw me take the charm.

The rohan flashed them both an evil smile. “So I said to myself, ‘Self, I bet those naughty little boys are carrying some nice shiny gildas in their purses. Or maybe even a goldie.’ You got any?”

“Why don’t you come closer and find out?” Rill said. He’d tried to sound cocky, but his voice broke halfway through the question.

The rohan grinned, obviously enjoying himself. He pointed the staff at Rill. “Naughty boy. I hope you don’t melt.”

Terror ripped through Rill like a barbed arrowhead.

He had only moments to live.

Author Bio:

Dan Lutts was brought up in Quincy, Massachusetts, and began addictively reading Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman comic books at an early age, much to his mother’s distress. In junior high school, he switched to reading science fiction novels. While in high school and college, he wrote science fiction short stories.

Dan taught history and archaeology in high school for ten years. After being laid off because of budget cuts, he used his love of writing to retrain and became a software technical editor and writer. He worked for several computer companies, taught technical writing at the college level, and worked as a freelance writer. Now, combining his love of history and writing, he works at a World War II museum doing research and writing.

Dan loves to read and has varied tastes, including Young Adult, historical fiction, mysteries, 18th-century sea epics, and history. He especially enjoys Young Adult fiction and decided to try his hand at it. Charm Wars, Dan’s first novel, is the result.

Dan lives in rural Maine with his wife, Lisa. When he’s not working or writing, Dan can be found reading, making and shooting medieval arrows with his longbow, or playing with his two dogs and two cats–all rescue animals.

You can learn more about Dan and the world of Charm Wars at https://www.danlutts.com/.

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Release Blitz: The Warrior’s Assassin by Nikki McCoy #LGBTQ #Fantasy @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: The Warrior’s Assassin

Series: Born in Sin, Book One

Author: Nikki McCoy

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/30/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 61300

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, mythical creatures (fae, jinn), incarceration, soulmates/bonding, revenge, prison escape, cliffhanger

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Description

For over a century, Kita has paid for his sins in innocence and blood. The sin of being born, for daring to exist, and for polluting the fae race with his tainted, mixed heritage. Half fae and half human, he is an abomination belonging to neither race, yet caught in the midst of their feuding.

After winning his freedom from a lifetime of slavery to the fae, a ghost from his past has come to pull him back into the depths of hell. And this time, there will be no escape.

To the world, Jacen McKenna is a gang leader, arms and drug trafficker, slaver. Labels he wears proudly to cover his true intentions. He is a warrior among his kind, dealing justice to his enemies and mercy to those without hope. He’d thought getting thrown into Babylon, a prison notorious for its inescapability, was the ultimate low point in his life. He was wrong.

From the second he laid eyes on Kita, he knew fate wasn’t done screwing him over. Beautiful, wild, and defiant, Kita brought out every protective instinct he possessed; ravaged him with emotions he never thought himself capable of. He tried to keep his distance, but fate, yet again, had other plans.

Caught in an impossible situation, they both have to learn to trust each other. But trust was a precious commodity in a world that had turned its back on them. Together, they must fight if they want to survive the war brewing in their midst.

Excerpt

The Warrior’s Assassin
Nikki McCoy © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Kita shook himself to clear his head, wondering what had made him think of that night so many years ago. Normally, his repressed memories came to him in dreams. Or, rather, nightmares.

At thirteen, he’d been foolish enough to desperately believe in Bergiese’s vision despite his cynicism. Later, he had learned to see the truth behind the pretty lie. There was no savior or salvation waiting for him somewhere down the path of his life. There was only misery and pain, and he was so incredibly sick of it all that his mind had begun to slip back into the state of bleak abjection he’d carried in his youth.

The future was a yawning maw empty of anything that made life worth living. What few reasons for happiness he’d found had faded quickly, leaving him raw and desolate. He knew it was time to end everything, yet he couldn’t bring himself to put a gun to his head and pull the trigger.

Funny how a person with no pride could consider suicide to be cowardly.

He drew back into the shadows of the alleyway when the door to the abandoned hotel opened. Nicolas Gordon, Nicki as he was known on the streets, walked out followed by a shorter man wearing a trench coat. The hood of Nicki’s sweatshirt was pulled down low to hide most of his face. Not that his poor attempts at anonymity over the past week had worked in his favor. He’d been found, and he would die tonight.

The two men spoke quietly, the steam of their breath curling in the frigid night air. They began to walk rapidly in the other direction. Kita slipped from his cover and entered the building, the squealing of rusted hinges on the door the only sound.

The area was mostly deserted, although not as run down as some of the neighborhoods he had seen. This small town, like so many scattered across the country, had had the misfortune of being located near a Crown Federation military base.

During the Islandar Civil War, more than a century ago, all of the bases had been targeted and summarily disabled. Some still lay in ruins from domestic terrorist attacks while others had been taken apart from the inside and left to rot in the wake of espionage and independent financial ruin.

Overall, Okasis fared decently in comparison. Its Federation base still functioned, which was a boon to the town’s economy, such as it was—struggling and on the constant verge of collapse.

He reached within himself for his power of pyrokinesis and sparked a small flame at his fingertip. With it, he searched the rooms on the first floor for Nicki’s belongings. If the reports were true, Nicki carried on him a laptop with information potentially disastrous to the Federation. Kita had been charged with confiscating the laptop and killing him.

Pinard, his keeper in the ISBF, Internal Security Branch of the Federation, had told him in no uncertain terms not to go through the laptop himself. However, the unusually avid interest in this mission had drawn his curiosity. The order had come from General Laurs, head of security, and was highly classified.

That in itself threw up a red flag.

Why would an insignificant peon on the low rung of society’s ladder be such a high‒profile target? The Federation didn’t send its dog on assassinations anyone could pull off. It just didn’t add up, even if the man was a renegade jinn.

He found the meager belongings in the last room amid layers of decay and rat droppings. In the duffel bag was a battered laptop one would hardly expect to find classified intel on. With the decryption device he’d liberated from Pinard’s desk, he easily hacked through its security. Two documents in particular stood out to him.

What he read in them made his blood run cold. It had to be some kind of mistake or propaganda to use against the Federation.

Yet, the more he read, the faster it became obvious this wasn’t a hoax. Most of the information contained in the documents correlated with events only the ISBF knew about. Critical threats against the Federation made over the past several decades that had been swept under the rug.

Briefly, he scrunched his eyes shut. He had hoped for something to hold against Pinard, but this… This was well beyond the limits of anything he could handle on his own.

Of all the endless ways this information could be used, only one outcome was certain. Their country would be plunged into another civil war. Serving these documents up to the general would only exacerbate the situation and quicken the inevitable outcome.

“Shit,” he hissed.

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Meet the Author

Nikki McCoy lives in the vast, open spaces of Wyoming where the wind is a beast and the snow dominates for 10 months out of the year. But the night are filled with magic and mystery.

It’s during these nights that her world becomes a collage of cunning intrigue, edgy mysteries and sexy, sometimes brutal men. She loves to let her imagination run away with her. The darker the fantasy, the greater the spoils.

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Release Blitz: I, Volcano by Eule Grey #LGBTQ #sciencefiction @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: I, Volcano

Series: Volcano Chronicles, Book One

Author: Eule Grey

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/23/2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 62300

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, new adult, alternate universe, bisexual, lesbian, action/adventure, illness/disease, intercultural, doctors, musician, enemies to lovers, folklore, ocean/sea creatures, hurt/ comfort, tear-jerker, grieving, survivor’s guilt

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Description

According to ancient rhymes, the islanders of Ansar and Skarle are children of the volcano, born of fire and destined to be lovers. After the eruption, the prophecies are forgotten as all are forced to flee. Nobody cares about silly nursery rhymes now, certainly not Jalob.

When shy medic Jalob Baleine heads to war, it isn’t for romance. She only wants to help refugees who have no home or allies. Because they are kin. Jalob was born under the same glowering volcano, on an idyllic island surrounded by dolphins. Like the refugees, she fled the lava and secretly cherishes the old ways.

She falls asleep, ignoring the pull of tides, and dreams of a loving touch. Who doesn’t? And sure, maybe Jalob hasn’t felt whole for years, but war isn’t the time for fantasies. She keeps to herself and hopes someone else will sort the war out. One woman can’t heal the world. After all, she has enough to do, what with tending the sick and her supervisor, Susan, always on her back.

Then Jalob meets stroppy violinist, Corail Esplash. After an explosive introduction, they’re forced to spend time together. Stress makes them long for a reprise, and a fragile line dances between love and hate. Inevitably, the young women exchange island stories. Corail is head-strong and rude, a typical Ansar who loves to tease and be chased. And Jalob—strong, loyal, from Skarle—has such fast legs… Could the old rhymes about destiny be right? Ah, fate.

Death and war are relentless enemies, and difficult choices lie ahead. Can a shy girl rekindle the power of a dead volcano and harness the ocean? One woman can’t heal the world, but maybe Jalob is the only one who can save Corail.

Excerpt

I, Volcano
Eule Grey © 2021
All Rights Reserved

The news on TV isn’t good. Refugees march across Mainland with no place to go.

Dad sighs. “Why? What can anyone achieve by systematic annihilation? Why do some people want to own the world?”

“Supremacy?” I guess. The ways of angry people have always been a mystery to me. “I don’t understand either. Why is there so much hate?” I did world history in school and know the basics, but it doesn’t really help. There’s never been peace, despite Mainland being filled with people from all creeds. “There must be wrongs on both sides.”

Dad stirs his tea vigorously. Brown liquid sloshes over the rim. One of these days he’s going to break that mug. “I’m not so sure. It’s territorial, like always,” he says ruefully. “We should be safe.”

Mainland is more than thirty miles from where we live on the island of Farland. Our small-island laws and rules are thankfully removed from Mainland dictation and, by and large, they leave us alone. My people have a long history of looking the other way. Not very admirable, but it has its plus points.

“Yes, but what about them?” The news is full of footage of little kids and old people being carried in supermarket carts. “Will anyone help?” I lean into Dad’s solid frame, glad to be safe in our cottage. We don’t have much, but we sleep at night and have enough to eat.

I remember what it’s like to leave at midnight, knowing you’ll never see home again.

He pats my knee. “I don’t know. Macke says they’ve already started arriving in boats. Families mostly.”

“From where?” I try to think back to geography lessons and books. Although I’ve done well in medical studies, I was no good at other lessons. “From Esk? Isn’t that the nearest coast?” I love Esk. We used to row there often to spend weekends and holidays. “I hope it doesn’t get ruined by war.”

Dad tuts. “Jalob! People are much more important than buildings.”

“I know that. I just don’t get why countries can’t solve things by talking.” The truth is, seeing the refugees is more than disturbing. It’s easier to pretend all the trouble can be solved with a chat than to acknowledge it probably can’t.

“A country behaves the same as an individual,” he says. Any minute now, he’s going to bring up me being bullied at school. “When one person is stronger than the other, or maybe, angrier, more damaged, more hurt, sometimes being friends isn’t an option. You can’t have a conversation if the other person isn’t listening.”

“Mm.”

“Friendship is a privilege, not a given right. Remember when you were at school, and—?”

“I get it, I get it. I’m being selfish. It’s just hard to imagine when you’re seeing it on TV. What even started this war? I don’t mean all the petty arguments. I mean, what was the actual cause?”

“Do you know nothing of the world? It’s your history too.”

I shrug. “I know potatoes make excellent chips and fried eggs are good to dip. What goes on in Mainland isn’t my business.” I’m uncomfortable he’s trying to make this war relevant to me. I don’t mind hearing about Skarle, but I don’t want to start thinking about boats and refugees. It’ll only lead to images of volcanoes and what happens when people can’t get away.

He shakes his head and laughs. “Always thinking with your stomach! What do you mean it’s not your business? Mainland Ansars originate from the islands.” He looks at me meaningfully. “You know—our islands. They’re different from our island Ansars, sure, and they left hundreds of years ago, but still. They’re our people, Jalob.”

Ours? From what I remember, island Ansars certainly didn’t belong to anyone.

“Mm. I know that much.”

Ansars fascinate me. Since I can remember, I’ve had a crush on an Ansar—Berl. Fish and frogs, is she gorgeous! Tall, slim, messy long hair, and full of cutting sarcasm. Everyone fancies her. I’ve always kept out of her way. People like that don’t want to associate with the likes of me.

On the last night of our final school term, students had been allowed to gather. She’d got out a guitar and sung all night. It was spellbinding. I waited until everyone had left, just to watch her pack away. Just to make the evening last a little longer. Maybe I hoped she might talk to me? Skarles and Ansars have a long history. And, like Dad says, we come from the same place.

Berl noticed me, standing by the big oak tree. She sauntered over and looked me up and down. “You’re massive. Are you Skarle?” she asked.

“Um. Yes. I mean. I was. Until the volcano. Yes. Um.”

“Um? What are you, a bee?”

“Sorry.”

I thought she was going to be rude, like she normally is. When she kissed and started touching me, I actually thought I was drunk and hallucinating. It was the best night of my life.

When she unbuttoned my top, I was so excited I didn’t know what to do, so I just watched her do it.

Being tall, big, and clumsy, I’m all the opposites to her. I could probably have lifted her up with one hand if I had wanted to. That night, though, I hadn’t felt very strong at all. She took my top off, unzipped me, and then squeezed and prodded at me. I didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like. Even now, I’m not sure I liked it that much.

Then she walked off, like nothing had happened.

Didn’t answer any of my messages afterwards. I suppose one day, I’ll stop thinking about her and wishing for what can’t be.

Dad gets into his stride. “Over the years, they’ve become undesirable in Mainland. I suppose that’s the word. I don’t know how it started, but Mainlanders started squeezing them out. There were protests, but nobody can stand up to an army. Looks like they’ve ordered the Ansars out of eastern Mainland. But why? Those poor people have to live somewhere.”

“It’s really worrying. Are Ansars safe here in Farland?”

“Are you thinking about that girl?” Dad pats my knee. “She’ll be fine. Mainlanders have no jurisdiction here.”

“Girl? Who?”

“You know who. Berl.”

“Oh! Hah-hah. I wasn’t thinking about her. I’ve moved on,” I lie. “Haven’t seen her since college.”

“She isn’t worth the time you spent pining,” Dad says. “Didn’t have the decency to answer your calls.”

“It’s fine. I couldn’t care less.” I’m absolutely not going to talk about dates with my father. “We can’t just watch.” I nod at the TV, wanting Dad to stop scrutinising me. Sometimes I think he reads my mind. “We have to help.”

Watching Ansar people in trouble is different to seeing Farland folk in trouble. I’d still be upset, but this is more. It’s not like watching people fight and knowing you can step in and help. It’s more like, I’m in the fight and on the losing side.

“Actually—” He starts to speak and then turns away, biting his lip.

“What?”

“It’s just. Well. The International Agency is asking for medics to volunteer.” He speaks slowly, like he might be already regretting it. “It’s nothing. Forget I said anything.”

“For what?”

“Doctors, nurses, anyone medical. All those people walking miles need medical treatment.” He shakes his head and sighs. “The camps must be crying out for help.”

It’ll be another two months before I’m a qualified medic. I haven’t considered doing anything except work at the local hospital and stay with Dad.

“Oh.” I speak fluent Ansar and am used to working with all kinds of people. Theoretically, I could offer. “Do you think they’d accept me? I don’t have any experience except college. I expect they’ll get a lot of applications from some great medics. They don’t want someone like me. I’m sure there’ll be others who can do it better.” Like always.

“Jalob,” Dad tuts. “Why do you have such little confidence in yourself?”

I wait for him to say, Believe in yourself; you’re a great girl, so I can nod without having to answer. He doesn’t though. He waits for me to speak. I blush up like a big red stupid letter box. “I dunno” is the best I can manage. “Stop looking at me.” I stand and head for my bedroom.

“Jalob,” Dad calls.

I lock the door and flop onto my bed. I can’t stand another round of Dad therapy. I hear the words, but they just bounce off my skin. I wish he was right—that I’m a great person who only needs a chance to prove myself.

Truth is, I’m just me. When has that ever been good enough?

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Meet the Author

Eule Grey has settled, for now, in the north UK. She’s worked in education, justice, youth work, and even tried her hand at butter-spreading in a sandwich factory. Sadly, she wasn’t much good at any of them!

She writes novels, novellas, poetry, and a messy combination of all three. Nothing about Eule is tidy but she rocks a boogie on a Saturday night!

For now, Eule is she/her or they/them. Eule has not yet arrived at a pronoun that feels right.

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Book Tour: Courage of One by Zola Blue #fantasy #giveaway @Mejuarian_Queen

Courage of One: Conviction to Stand

The Mejuarian Book 3

by Zola Blue

Genre: Fantasy

In ancient times on earth, there lived a race called Dragonors. Following in a tradition to gain status and recognition in the village, those able would compete in rigorous games of cunning and abilities. Tournaments culminated into a weapon battle to the death or submission while riding a dragon; at its end, the winner was given status within the village.
In this event, a blacksmith named Luken intended to win and gain the regard necessary to ask for Talulah’s hand in marriage from her father Ephenio, lord of the village, competed in the challenge. Luken, who had no dragon or experience dragon-riding or battling, had no choice but to win against all the other competitors for his love. The final contest pits him against the worthiest aggressor. He is fortunate to use the more aggressive dragon of his true love, Talulah, that carries the battle and allows him a most unlikely victory.
Over time the happiness of Luken and the Dragonor princess turned to despair as men invade their once pristine swamplands. The earthlings eventually caused the death of Talulah, and the great Lords of the Dragonors decide to leave the earth instead of destroying men.
Dragonors run into unlikely allies in their new lands, the Mejuarian, and the two different groups in all ways and mannerism develop friendships and a familial bond. This closeness compelled the valiant dragon riders to assist the king of the Mejuarian in the recovery of his missing mewlings.
As luck would have it, King Teloby also discovers a new diminutive race interested in a friendly alliance with both the Mejuarian and Dragonors. A meeting with Marina, Queen of the Arvunglies, revealed that she has found one of the three missing nests and treasures it as a colorful bauble. The little queen agreed to return the nest happily. Still, she told them that rescue of the other two could prove a challenge. To retrieve the babies, they had to venture and most likely defeat a rogue dragon that attacked their small village from time to time.
On earth in 1960, Ren discovers two nests while exploring by a lake. His father, a veterinarian, drew an interest in them and took them back to his facility for further investigation. Ren feared they were UFOs with body-snatching capabilities. Ren’s fears soon disappear when his father indirectly hatched the two creatures in his incubator and discovers they are lovely, intelligent creatures that reminded him of some rare species of puppies.
Unaware that the missing nests fell to earth off the airship on their way to the Dragonor land, king Teloby prepared himself. For the next day, the three groups would head out for the dubious task of entering and searching the dragon’s lair for his missing mewling.

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Bound in Strength: Stance Upon Heartache

The Mejuarian Book 2

For god-like creatures named Mejuarian living on planet Ercutis, their world was near perfect.
Mejuarian, a cross between an animal and godly beings, have a splendorous village where everyone gets along. They live in a hierarchical society, and everyone loves their king and queen. A near utopian life that allows all Mejuarian to rise to their most extraordinary levels of consciousness. That is until they discover using systems much like our own, an asteroid is on course to decimate their village and erase their long history. Short notice, they plan to move all inhabitants, along with those bound to them by their magical powers, to the other side of their planet and reside in the lands of their longtime ally and trade partners, the Dragonors.
Very upsetting to many Mejuarian mothers and fathers having mewlings is that their ancient tradition of birthing nests on an ancestral altar would be away from their homes.
However, all seems to go as planned, and they depart with all twelve ships successfully. One ship dedicated to moving the birth alter intact with nests placed on it trails the fleet. Unfortunately, the Mejuar scientist’s slight miscalculation allowed for the meteor’s early arrival. A shockwave forces the underpowered, overloaded ship carrying the nests to crash land. Before its descent, a piece of the broken altar is dragged into space, and two of its occupants
On earth, a family torn with grief after the loss or their mother tries to enjoy a day of convalescing by a local lake. Hubert, the local veterinarian with his two children Ren a teen, and Brooklyn, his baby sister, are exploring after a picnic lunch. Ren discovers the charred nests and is curious as to what they are. Hubert also becomes interested in the unusual possible chrysalids. The inquisitive vet takes the nests back to his facility and uses the extent of written and photo journals available to him in 1960. He is unable to identify them and ponders, what are they?

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The Four: Destruction of Honor

The Mejuarian Book 1

A masterful race of magic users called Ecrutians once lived on earth. They held a divine eminence over humans, using them as pawns in a game of chess.
As the old ways were no longer accepted by most, Ecrutians grew soft and lackadaisical and allowed attitudes of pride and self-importance to consume them. A lust for power overtook many with aggressive natures for destruction and harm to others.
Rebellious Ecrutians created long-distance teleportation enchantments, and this once peaceful race of spellcasters began to explore other planets in search of others to dominate with their magic.
Thie, one of the most powerful Ecrutians, had natural abilities that gave the creation of life. His staff of gnarled, twisted wood infused with magical enchantments, too, held terrible spells.
To maintain order and preserve Ecrutian life, Thie decides to join with three other powerful magic users to form one fearsome magical force so their lands might be saved. He chose Lotus, Os, and Irenia, three supernatural beings that couldn’t have been any more different from himself.
Lotus, an Ecrutian sorceress, had a pleasant countenance, flirtatious manner, fanciful demeanor, and a festive quality. One of the most adored sorceresses in the village, she worried over the deterioration of their kingdom.
Os, burly and over eight feet tall, was a formidable force. Dark eyes with no pupils, he never smiled, and a scowl on his face always intimidated. A warrior in his soul, he fought deadly battles against other warlords.
Irenia, an ancient wizardess, clumsy, awkward, and limited social ability, always made other Ecrutians shy away from her, but she loves peace and cherishes the life of all creatures. All love in the village diminished, and she sought for the return of harmony.
The Four unite into one being named Thire-los. Joined power directed through Thie’s staff is unstoppable. All Ecrutians live under their rule or suffer the consequences. Under their leadership, as Thire-los, kingdom order is soon restored. However, restlessness consumed the great entity, and the four began to fight within.
No longer can Os live under such scrutiny by Thie, and he is cast out by the sorcerer and banished to earth to live out his life as a meager human. Without the four, order quickly returns to chaos. Irenia watched nature turn to decay while Lotus suffered heartbreak at the loss of Os, her true love.
As all Ecrutis falls to ruin and despair, Irenia and Lotus hatch a plan to reunite Thie-los.

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Born in Florida, I am a resident of the US, but now I reside on a lovely island in British Columbia Canada with my mother and two dogs, and one cat. During the early years of my life, I worked in the business industry, thus reaching my goal of obtaining my degree in Business Management. 
I love to read, and over my lifetime, I have probably read hundreds of books. Now that life has given a bit more time to concentrate on my personal life, I am following God and writing fun, fanciful fiction stories, which blend over into the fantasy realm.
I hope that each time I put words on the paper, it makes you want to read it. I always hope someone has fallen in love with my words and want to continue reading them.

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Cover Reveal: Fire Prince (Fire &Reign) by H. Danielle Crabtree #fantasy #YoungAdult @hedanicree

Fire Prince
H. Danielle Crabtree
(Fire & Reign, #2)
Publication date: October 19th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Myah has been betrayed.

Nordlin City lies in flames, destroyed by the Osten Army, and her greatest nightmare has become her greatest sorrow.

To avoid capture, Myah has no choice but to trust the master of the Osten Elite Guard to protect her and keep her out of the hands of her enemy and his people. However, trust is a fragile thing, easily fractured when her companion keeps his secrets as close as his steel, and Garrett’s reputation is not one that is easily dismissed.

Garrett’s secrets have kept him and those he loves safe for years. To reveal one is to unravel them all, and the fire-haired girl of the north has a way of plucking at those threads. A promise is a promise, though, and he gave his word to see her safely to the resistance leader hiding at the edges of Morgensol, the southern kingdom.

But as she has put her trust in him, he knows that he will have to do the same if he wants to regain the most precious thing he has lost in the kingdom wars.

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Author Bio:

H. Danielle Crabtree graduated from the University of Oregon in 2004 with a professional journalism degree and worked in journalism as a writer and editor in Oregon and Arizona. She started freelancing as an editor in 2011.
Her poetry has been published in several literary magazines and anthologies, and she wrote with the G10 Writers group. Her first book with the group was published in 2011.
She lives in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley with her two dogs. Outside her career in health care and her passion for writing, she enjoys hiking, gardening, and dog training, and she is pursuing a master’s degree in public health at Oregon State University.

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Book Blitz: Tempest by C.J. Campbell #youngadult #fantasy

Tempest
C.J. Campbell
(The Veil Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: August 31st 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

To unearth the truth, she must embrace the legend within.

For eighteen-year-old Lexi, freedom is a luxury. She’s spent her life evading capture for a genetic gift that feels more like a curse. Her bulletproof immunity and monstrous disfigurement is of great interest to a secret organization, but they aren’t the only ones. A cryptic tip alerts Lexi that something else hunts her–something darker.

Desperate to enjoy her life before it’s too late, Lexi leaves the protective cocoon her parents created for her and signs up for art classes at her local college. There she meets Conner, who is confined to a wheelchair, and they become friends who are willing to share each other’s secrets. But a chance encounter with Connor’s foster brother Killian changes everything.

Killian shares the same mysterious secret within his blood as Lexi. Their fateful meeting sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic events that exposes the terrifying truth–Lexi is a celestial queen of a bygone race. Connor is their last royal heir, and Killian is a half-breed abomination hated for his very existence. With Connor kidnapped by an ancient god determined to rid the world of the stain of humanity, Lexi and Killian find themselves under the protection of the secretive Order of Kings.

Lexi believes she’s been thrown into a world of myths and legends, but things are not as they seem. Lexi becomes convinced the Order is keeping dangerous secrets that threaten not just her but all of mankind.

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EXCERPT:

I slide into a slouch and make a happy hum of approval with my next slurp. Resting my head against the window, I close my eyes and listen to the rain pound. The earlier spit has given way to a deluge. This is close to my idea of bliss—coffee, quiet, and the rain.

Between the beats against the car’s chassis, something vibrates. A noise so out of place in the lullaby of rainfall that I sit bolt upright.

Another buzz, and a shiver spider-walks my spine. I squint in the dark, chest so tight it’s impossible to breathe.

A light illuminates the driver’s side compartment. The sound the plastic makes with the third buzz rattles my very bones. I shove my coffee cup into the holder and squeeze my upper half through the gap between the seat and door. Fingers outstretched, I grapple for my father’s cell phone that blurs to life for the fourth time. Once in my hand, I clutch it to my chest and curl into the darkness of the backseat, as if the shadows might somehow protect me.

The screen illuminates for the last time. I peek at the number, but it’s listed as unknown. My heart bangs so loud that I’m afraid it will shatter my ribs. There’s no one outside, at least not that I can tell, but that doesn’t mean anything.

A car pulls into the space opposite, the garish headlights flood the backseat. I gasp and throw myself onto the floor, pulling Father’s jacket over my head. Each second that ticks by feels like an eternity. My breath comes in quick, startled pants, and I shut my eyes to pray. Not that I’m overly spiritual, but right now I’ll try anything.

“Please, please don’t be them,” I mouth, fingernails biting into the plastic of the phone. “Keep my parents inside, please.”

The lights die and doors slam. A second later, feminine laughter bounces around the empty lot and heeled shoes clatter past the car. Relief rushes through every vein in my body until I’m limp as a fish.

“Thank you,” I whisper and rub a hand down my face.

I toss off the jacket and heave up onto the backseat. It takes a full minute before my breathing regulates and I no longer feel my pulse in my ears. All I can do is stare at the phone screen, at the unlisted number, and contemplate what it means.

As if in answer, the phone buzzes in my hand again. I almost drop it, ready to nose-dive to the floor, but morbid curiosity keeps me glued to the spot.

It’s not a phone number this time, but a text.

A simple sentence that reads: You can’t protect her forever, Fred. They’ll come for her. She’ll need us. T.


Author Bio:

Clare is a successful and highly popular author of award winning Fanfiction, with thousands of online fans and over 2 million reads on her Lord of the Rings Fanfic epic. Clare has also won several writing awards within the Fantasy, Inspirational, and Short Story genres. Her story Refuge was a top prize winner and as a direct result published in Faith & Freedom anthology by EA books. She has recently been shortlisted for Writer of the Year 2019.

As well as writing, Clare is an experienced Occupational Therapist, with a passion for enabling people. She has contributed articles for online organizations aimed at highlighting disability as a positive influence in modern literature. Her love of storytelling, merged with her positive messages inspires her to create meaningful narratives that represent diversity, and promote unity.

You can learn more about Clare by visiting http://www.CJCampbellOfficial.com

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Release Blitz: Foxfire in the Snow by J.S. Fields #LGBTQ #Fantasy @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing @Galactoglucoman

Title: Foxfire in the Snow

Series: The Alchemical Duology, Book One

Author: J.S. Fields

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 07/19/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: F/NB

Length: 88800

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, fantasy, dark fantasy, nonbinary, lesfic, science magic, magic users, witches, sword and sorcery, long-time friendship, family drama

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Description

Woodcutter or witch? Alchemist or scientist? Can Sorin’s duality save their nation?

Born the heir of a master woodcutter in a queendom defined by guilds and matrilineal inheritance, nonbinary Sorin can’t quite seem to find their place. At seventeen, an opportunity to attend an alchemical guild fair and secure an apprenticeship with the queen’s alchemist is just within reach. But on the day of the fair, Sorin’s mother goes missing, along with the Queen and hundreds of guild masters, forcing Sorin into a woodcutting inheritance they never wanted.

With guild legacy at stake, Sorin puts apprentice dreams on hold to embark on a journey with the royal daughter to find their mothers and stop the hemorrhaging of guild masters. Princess Magda, an estranged childhood friend, tests Sorin’s patience—and boundaries. But it’s not just a princess that stands between Sorin and their goals. To save the country of Sorpsi, Sorin must define their place between magic and alchemy or risk losing Sorpsi to rising industrialization and a dark magic that will destroy Sorin’s chance to choose their own future.

Excerpt

Foxfire in the Snow
J.S. Fields © 2021
All Rights Reserved

One: Fire
Steam twirled from the bones in my cauldron. The heavy smell of their marrow sagged in the air. Gods, I hated the smell of the solvent, but it would be worth it once the bone oil evaporated, taking that horrible dead fish smell with it and leaving behind the final, extracted compound. I’d never get the smell out of the woodwork, but at this point, I didn’t care. Mother was weeks late returning home. Again. She could yell at me when I returned. If I returned.

I coughed into the steam as it curled through my lungs. I needed fresh air, and soon, or I’d end up facedown on the hemlock floor I’d hewn and laid myself in my thirteenth year. A knot curled inside me, and I swallowed bile and frustration. Fine. I’d be done with distillation for the day, but I still needed to perform a fungal extraction with the solvent to impress Master Rahad at the fair tomorrow. I’d been aiming to attend the alchemical guild fair since I turned twelve—the year I should have declared a guild and begun my apprenticeship. I’d never made it. Each year, Mother found another marquetry to work, another finish to make, another tool to sharpen. This year, I was seventeen. I’d barely left this forest, this house, in five years. This year, the queen’s master alchemist had a position open and wanted someone with fungal expertise.

Someone like me.

This year, I was going.

I removed the thin olive branch from my collection basket that would earn me my apprenticeship, despite my older age and guild lineage. The branch shone mottled blue green, almost a lime color in patches, with a blue as dark as evening sky in others. Along a four-centimeter band sprouted cup-shaped fungal fruiting forms, tiny enough to be overlooked by untrained eyes. With a pair of tweezers, I plucked the blue-green cups from the branch and dropped them into a second pot of the very combustible bone oil distillate. The smell of dead fish rose up and stung my eyes, but I couldn’t look away.

As each cup sank, the color seeped from them into the solvent and expanded outward in concentric rings. The pigment slowly dropped down until the liquid looked like the deep blue of Thuja’s lake. I held my breath as the fruits bubbled back to the surface. The first turned white, the second turned white, and the third and fourth—white as well. I waited, still hardly daring to breathe. One minute, then two. Please…

The solution’s color remained stable.

I dropped my head back and exhaled at the ceiling. The trickiest part was over, and if the solution set well, it would be ready by morning. Success! I carried the extract to the windowsill, opened the pane, and began the evaporation process. Tomorrow…tomorrow would be a wonderful day. A defining day. Tomorrow, I would leave the woodcutting guild and finally, finally, get to be an alchemist! A guilded alchemist! I would not spend the rest of my life bound to this wooden house, with its wooden tools, stuck within this simplistic, wooden trade any longer.

Three loud raps sounded on the front door. Visitors? At this hour? They were in for a rude surprise, the idiots. If they were here for me, it was because the villagers had a clear misunderstanding of what alchemy entailed. I had no potions to offer them. Cauldrons and a stinking house didn’t put me in the witch guild, despite the villagers’ insistence to the contrary, and even if I had been a witch, I still would not have been party to their foolish fascination with magic.

However, if the visitors were here for Mother and her marquetry business, they’d leave disappointed. She had neglected to finish several large commissions before her abrupt departure. Contracts were coming due that I would not fulfill, and her clients didn’t tolerated delays well. Mother took these walkabouts yearly, but she usually returned before the fair. This time, she was overdue.

I pulled at the door handle and lifted, and the thick wood glided open. A breeze came in first and blew mist right in my face. Behind the damp stood two men, squinting at me from the doorstep. They were Queensguard, both of them, dressed in the signature fitted red cloaks, though the waterproofing layers had worn off some hours ago. Both were mud-covered and had sodden pants and boots. They were sloppy, for Queensguard, and they were overdue. Mother had finished the queen’s commissioned piece just before she left, and it had yet to be collected.

The taller guard moved to step into the house, flipping a layer of long, wet hair over his shoulder with a splat. The smell must have hit him right then, as he stepped back into his partner and kept going for three steps. The shorter guard stumbled into Mother’s blackberry bush and had to rip himself free of the thorns. The taller sneezed, then spat, and then sneezed again.

For Queensguard, I was decidedly unimpressed.

“What sort of witchery is that!?” he demanded, coming no closer. “Where’s the woodcutter?”

I frowned and crossed my arms, careful not to crush any of the pouches of fungal pigment that dangled from my leather bandolier.

“No witchery,” I responded coolly. “I made bone oil. I discovered it. It’s a type of alchemy. I’m not guilded yet, but I have a trader’s permit.” Which I did, in the back room, but I’d be hard-pressed to find it under all of Mother’s unsharpened tools.

The tall one glared and rubbed at his nose.

The short guard stepped to the doorframe, bit back a grimace, and tried to restart the conversation. “Apologies for the hour. We’re looking for—”

“She’s not here.” I cut him off, hoping to forestall awkward questions I couldn’t answer. “She left under the last full moon, for professional obligations. It is unknown when she will return. I apologize.”

“Are you her daughter then?” the short one asked.

My stomach twisted. I was no one’s daughter, and that word would stick in my chest for days. It would squirm there, under bindings and layers of clothes, and make me second-guess myself at the fair with every introduction and every awkward stare at my body. In that moment, I hated them, these two men, so sure of their position despite the mud and the hour. Daughter. No. I had never been one and had no intention of starting now.

“Sorin the…”

“The alchemist,” I finished for him.

“I am her heir,” I said through gritted teeth when neither responded. “I have the queen’s last commission. Will you be taking it tonight?”

The men exchanged a glance, but neither answered. The second man sneezed, sending a spray of water across the threshold. I rubbed my palm on my forehead. If they were going to get the house dirty just by being outside, it made no sense for them to stay there. Bones were one thing; mud was just unprofessional. I stepped back and gestured to the small brown oak dining table—the one with the white streak down it where I’d first discovered what the refined, clear parts of bone oil could do to fungal pigments—and grabbed my cloak from the wall.

“Sit,” I said as I fastened the oblong buttons at the neck of the cloak. The men moved in with heavy steps, which grew increasingly hesitant as the fish smell concentrated. They sat and stared at me with disgusted, pained expressions as mud dripped from their boots onto that stupid handmade floor. I’d have to refinish it now.

I didn’t bother speaking again.

Daughter.

Let them sit in the bone oil stink, pooled in their own mud. I turned and left the house, heading to Mother’s woodshop. My feet crunched along the woodchip path, the ground cover damp but still springy. I tried to let the smells of the forest—especially the earthen smell of fungal decay—take my mind away from the word I so hated.

The men had parked their cart, and their ox, near the door to the longhouse Mother used for her shop, but I could still maneuver around it. The sun had already set, but moonlight streaked through the needled canopy of conifers and across my path. Ten short steps brought me to the double doors made from cedar plank. I stripped the padlock from the right door, the one that had been fastened since Mother’s departure, and entered.

I’d not been inside the shop for a month, and the smell of cedar and wood rot reminded me why. Here were my mother’s heart and legacy, as her father’s before her, and her grandmother’s before that. The whole place felt tattered and used and smelled worse than the bone oil.

In the back, near an old leather chair, was where her mother had been born some eighty years ago. To my right, just in front of a treadle lathe, was where my grandfather had died.

Mother had birthed her children here too—myself and the son she gave to another guild for an apprenticeship, and taken none of their children in return.

The whole building was familiar, like an old wool blanket, but scratchy just the same. This was a legacy of guild woodcutting, and the queen’s mandate of matrilineal inheritance, and I didn’t belong here. A woodcutter was not who I was, a daughter was not who I was, and while the former hurt less than the latter, both made me want to pull at my skin and scream.

Mercifully, the commissioned panel was right where I had last seen it. It was complete, save for a finish. An oilcloth lay on the floor near the door, already coated with paraffin. I picked it up and draped it over the panel, taking one last look at the cut veneer so expertly placed and dyed in the shape of a parrot on a branch.

The parrot’s feathers and the leaves of the branch were blue green. That was my contribution. There were no pigments, natural or otherwise, that could make that color save the elf’s cup fungus. The queen’s order had specified a parrot, in real colors.

She’d asked the impossible of my mother: we had delivered. I had delivered. Pigmenting fungi and their use in woodcraft was a trade secret of the woodcutter’s guild, but the ability to take those pigments from the wood and use them for other purposes—the solvent that entailed—that was mine alone.

With the cloth wrapped around the panel, I hauled the piece back to the house and propped it against the door. The Queensguard had tried to close it, but it had snagged halfway when the bottom of the door caught the ground below. The wood had swelled, as in any wet season, a common problem in the temperate rainforests of Thuja as well as the tropical ones of Sorpsi’s capital. Yet, they’d not even reasoned through simply lifting the door up as they pulled it closed. What was wrong with these men? Queensguard should have been much better educated than this. They should have known about the door, and the forest, and how to address me. Trekking from the village of Thuja to Mother’s house, at night, in the forest mist could addle anyone’s mind, but these two… I wiped mist from my nose and frowned. They weren’t quite right, and I didn’t care for that feeling in my own home, with no one else about. Giving them the panel was the quickest way to get them to leave.

I pushed the door back open, lifting as I did so, and propped the panel against it so it couldn’t swing shut again. The cool, damp air would help fumigate the house and would keep the bone oil from combusting as it dried.

“It’s here and ready.” I pulled enough of the cloth off so the two guards could see the detailed work underneath. It was best to get them on their way, whomever they were. Mother could chase the panel down later if needed. I was done with babysitting her business and hiding away in her house—hiding from the Thujan villagers, hiding from the capital city, hiding from my life.

The Queensguard, however, no longer seemed interested in the panel or me. The idiots had reached into the extract and removed my bones. They’d pieced parts of a skeleton back together—a primate, of course. Two small hands, a foot, and half the skull were laid out across the floor as if alive. The smaller guard, hunched over his bone puzzle with his comrade, had shoved his hands into the bone oil and now had the puffed cheeks and grayness of one about to vomit.

“That’s none of your business,” I grumbled. “And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mess my floor.”

Gods, why did people have to be so nosy?

“Smells of fish, but these are no fish bones,” the shorter guard said. He held up a piece of a hand and bobbed on his haunches as he turned to look at me. “Explain.”

“It’s a monkey,” I said flatly.

“Which you used for your witchcraft?” said the other as he, too, turned around. “Expansive knowledge here, of magic. This dwelling isn’t licensed for that type of activity, and you don’t bear the witch guild mark.” His tone was more curious than accusatory, but I didn’t care.

“I’m currently a trade alchemist,” I repeated again, as if talking to a particularly stupid villager. “Which we are licensed for because, otherwise, we couldn’t protect any of the wood. How do you think wood finishes are made?” When the guards continued with their stares, I looked to the ceiling and grunted. “Just take the panel. Go. Don’t get it too wet, and make sure the court carpenter lets it sit for a few weeks before coating it. If you really want paperwork, I can have a copy of the permit for trade work delivered to the Queensguard hall tomorrow.”

“I don’t think so.” The guards stood and kicked at the bone pile. Neither one had looked at the panel yet. The hair on my arms rose. That was a fourteen-hundred-stone commission, lying against the door, open to the elements! That was more than the entire town of Thuja made in one year.

They hadn’t come from the palace; that was now abundantly clear.

I took a step toward the door, making sure to keep my growing unease from showing on my face. Knife in the boot, I reminded myself, for I’d been out foraging this morning and had not yet removed it. People aren’t so different than monkeys. Of course, I had never killed any of the animals I used for bone oil, but then again, none of them had ever called me a daughter either.

“What guild did you say you belonged to?” the tall one asked as he eyed my throat. I brought my hands up to cover the unadorned skin and flushed with embarrassment. I didn’t need a reminder of my failure to declare to my Mother’s guild, or any other, for that matter.

“I’m unguilded,” I muttered, unable to meet the man’s eyes. Anyone could be a trader, but to join a guild you had to first be an apprentice, and I had no formal education. “Since you’re not Queensguard, why are you here?” And why pretend, especially if you’re not going to steal the panel?

The man snorted. “The grandmaster of witchcraft asked to meet with the master woodcutter. I don’t want to return empty-handed, so our girl alchemist might make a reasonable substitute, guilded or not.”

I dropped my hands to my sides and raked my fingernails over my pants. There shouldn’t have been a grandmaster of witchcraft because the unbound guilds—witches and alchemists—weren’t beholden to any of the three countries and therefore couldn’t set up a guildhall. But that didn’t matter right now because my skin was too tight, all of a sudden. I gripped fistfuls of cloth to steady myself, to keep my hands busy so they wouldn’t find the skin of my arms. I snarled at the men, though tears collected in my eyes. Girl. Daughter. They burned as deeply as the smell of the bone oil. As interesting as the grandmaster of witchcraft might be, I didn’t care anymore about anything these men had to say.

“Get out,” I hissed. I marched to the door; I would throw them out if I had to. But the shorter guard grabbed me by the wrist before I reached the threshold.

“No!” I pulled back, turning to slap him, and just as I spun around, he let go.

Laughter chased after me as I stumbled and caught my ankle on the doorjamb. My equilibrium was off from the bone oil fumes, and I hit the ground, elbow first. Now I too was slicked with mud and wet wood shavings, which kept my feet from finding purchase as I tried to stand and face the demeaning laughter. The tears I was determined not to shed burned my eyes.

Before I could get my feet under me, thick fingers dug into my arms and I was hauled up and dragged forward. Their hands were wide, and their arms much stronger than my own, and when I pulled, their grips tightened. The mist was thick in my mouth as I sucked in gasps of air, trying to kick or somehow injure the men who held me.

“I’m not worth anything. The only thing of value is that panel!” I yelled.

“A master woodcutter would be worth more than a confused imitation,” the taller one said. “We’ll work with what we have.”

“I am not a woodcutter!”

We were at the cart now, and when the shorter man reached past my head to grab a rope that hung over the side, I bit his hand, separating flesh. The not-guard screamed and dropped my right arm. Blood splattered across my front as he flailed. The tall one tried to grab my wrist, but I fell to my knees, grabbed him between the legs, twisted, and pulled.

He collapsed, howling, and I skittered back toward the house.

“Leave!” I screamed at them. These things weren’t supposed to happen at Mother’s house. Wasn’t that why I was always here—to avoid this? What was the point of giving up apprenticeships, friendships, if I was going to be accosted in my own home?

The tall one gasped and grabbed me by the front of my shirt just before I cleared the cart. I wrapped my fingers around his and tried to pull free, but he slapped me across the face and, for a moment, I couldn’t see. I babbled instead.

“I have money,” I said. “In the house. I have wood species from across the world worth double their weight in stones.” I have solvents I could melt you with if you’d just come back inside.

“We will have Amada the master woodcutter,” the short one said with a gap-toothed grin. “She’ll come for you, if nothing else, seeing as how well she’s kept you to herself all these years.” He grabbed my legs and, with the taller one, dumped me into the cart. The taller man secured my ankles to iron weights anchored to the cart bed, punched me in the stomach, and left me to lie, staring dumbly at the canopy overhead as he went to assist his partner. Mother would come for me, certainly, but it was the other part of the man’s words that clouded my thoughts.

The cart began to move, jostling over the uneven forest floor. As I tried to regain my breath, my mind jumped, irrationally, back to the house.

“You forgot the panel!” I wheezed over the noise of the grunting ox and snapping branches. To leave it seemed like a stupid waste, even if they had no interest in it themselves. It’d taken us two years to make that thing, Mother and I. Someone should have it, even if just ignorant kidnappers. It was worth more than my life, certainly. I had no guild mark, no formal apprenticeship, no friends to come looking for me, and an undocumented journey-woodcutter was worth only as much as their master was willing to pay. They were going to be very disgruntled when Mother did not appear. And if they found her…gods, if they found her… What did witches want with a woodcutter?

I had my breath back, so I sat up and leaned over the side of the cart. Even with the moonlight, it was too dark to see more than outlines, but I could just make out the taller one breaking away and moving back toward Mother’s house.

Panic gave way to puzzlement as he entered. Had they changed their minds about the panel? I squinted into the night. Was he moving the panel then, or going past it? I’d not yet lit any oil lamps for fear of combustion during the extraction, and so the spark from the guard’s flint burned my eyes. Something caught in the guard’s hand—perhaps a ribbon of paper or a sheet of Mother’s veneer. Whatever it was, the man tossed it inside the house.

“No!”

I screamed it, I think. My throat hurt, either way. The guard jogged back to the cart, and I screamed again, nonsensically. The idiot. The absolute uneducated toadstool. If he didn’t quicken his pace, if we didn’t—

Mother’s house exploded.

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Meet the Author

J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. They enjoy roller derby, woodturning, making chain mail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, and always up for a Twitter chat.

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Release Blitz: Far Patrol by Alex Powell #LGBTQ #fantasy @ninestarpress @aa_powell @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Far Patrol

Author: Alex Powell

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 07/19/2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 59300

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, LGBTQ lit, fantasy, dragons, rebellion, class system

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Description

Will war tear their family and their country apart?

Ignius Lockden and their companion Kathely are ready for adventure. Joining Far Patrol was only going to be the beginning—they were right, but in all the wrong ways. Suddenly, there’s a war on the horizon and the two of them are stuck in the middle. Ignius wants to do what’s right, but it isn’t easy to tell what actions will lead to the correct ending. How is one young dragon supposed to change the course of history?

Excerpt

The first thing the dragon remembered seeing was the golden light right beyond the shell in front of them, flickering and lighting up tiny red and silver specks on the surface of their chamber.

It must be time, then.

They scrabbled at the curved inside of the shell, scratching away and scoring the surface. They felt the little nubs of their claws catch on the roughened inner surface. The dragon stopped, waiting to regain their strength. It was tiring work, and presently, the dragon fell asleep again.

They repeated this cycle in longer and longer increments, scratching away at the inside of their chamber. Waiting was over for them, and it was time to emerge. Sleep, wake, sleep.

Again, the light woke them, brighter this time. There were voices outside, and with some excitement, the dragon heard the voice. The one was here. It was definitely time now, and the dragon would stop at nothing to finally greet that voice.

It was a high voice, and it penetrated the shell unlike all the other voices outside. The dragon didn’t care about those ones. They needed to reach the one. Kathely.

The one. Their one.

That voice had started coming a long time since. The moon had cycled countless times, and the dragon knew it well, the voice of the one who spoke to them from outside. That one whispered things to them, told them all about life on the outside. The dragon liked these stories, and even though they couldn’t yet make complete sense of them, the outside called. Kathely was calling, right now.

“Ignius.”

The dragon rocked against the wall of their chamber, pushing as hard as they could. The shell, weakened by their earlier efforts, gave a little under their struggles. It was tiring, but Kathely was there, calling.

“Ignius, you have been Named. It is time to come forth.”

Ignius coiled their tail, lashing it against the weak spot of the shell. Then they struck again as they felt the shell fracture above them. The spikes on their tail made short work of breaking through, and once again, Ignius clawed at the shell, finding the opening. They forced it farther open, lifting their snout to the hole in the shell, taking their first deep breath of air.

They couldn’t see yet, but after a few sneezes to clear their lungs of fluid, they could smell those around them. The nearest person was Kathely, and their one smelled divine, like home.

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Meet the Author

Alex is an author of LGBTQ+ romance. They live in northern Canada where it snows six months of the year. Currently, they are pursuing a PhD in English, but that won’t stop them from writing about space vampires or cyberpunk hackers or whatever else pops into their head. Mostly a SFF writer, Alex sometimes dabbles in other genres including contemporary romance.

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Cover Reveal: The North Wind by Alexandra Warwick #NewAdult #fantasy

The North Wind
Alexandria Warwick
(The Four Winds, #1)
Publication date: January 13th 2022
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance

Lush. Dark. Romantic. Introducing a newly reimagined tale written in the vein of Beauty and the Beast and Hades and Persephone.

Long before civilization, there were the gods. And before the gods, there was the earth, the celestial bodies, and air given flesh. They are the Anemoi—the Four Winds—and they have been banished to the four corners of the world.

Wren of Edgewood is no stranger to suffering. Her parents are gone. Survival is all she knows. For three hundred years, the land known as the Gray has been encased in ice, surrounded by a great barrier called the Shade, which protects the townsfolk from the Deadlands beyond.

But day by day, the Shade weakens.

Only one thing can stop the Shade’s fall: a mortal woman taken captive across the barrier, bound in wedlock to the dark god who reigns over the Deadlands. He is the North Wind, the Frost King, an immortal whose heart is said to be as frigid as the land he rules.

And the time has come for the Frost King to choose his bride.

The North Wind is a standalone, enemies-to-lovers fantasy romance, the first in a series sprinkled with Greek lore. Perfect for fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout, Laura Thalassa, and Scarlett St. Clair.

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Author Bio:

Alexandria Warwick is the #1 fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. She is the author of The Demon Race and the North series.

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