Carved From Wood Brendan O’Meara (Crafting Humanity, #2) Publication date: TBA Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
James and his team head South after witnessing the BlankZone decimate the city of Midway. Their self-ascribed mission is to explore the most dangerous place on the planet – the new BlankZone border in the Southern Federation.
While conspiracies drive the narrative in the North, James and his team set out to learn about the Federation’s mysterious aggressors. Jump back into the adventure as James and his friends discover new families, build allies, and come face to face with the enemy threatening their existence. Secrets, lies, and manipulation are exposed as James gets closer than he ever imagined to their greatest threat.
Raised in White Plains, New York, Brendan O’Meara formed a love of stories and books from a young age. He has spent his free time over the last decade crafting his debut novel, Cut From Stone, book one in the Crafting Humanity series.
It began in Philadelphia where he attended college daydreaming about a dystopian reality. With a vivid imagination (as described by his middle school teachers) and a passion for adventure, Brendan’s novels will transport you to a different life and capture you from cover to cover.
Brendan lives in Washington, DC with his daughter, wife, and two dogs. You will find him on the weekends drinking a beer watching the Packers and Notre Dame football games. He is an avid reader with a specific interest in sci-fi, anything dystopian, fantasy, history, and all levels of fiction.
Brendan would love to hear from you, feel free to contact him any time at email@example.com.
Finally, visit craftinghumanity.com and sign up for our email lists for news, updates, and information on the rest of the Crafting Humanity series. We will not spam you!
City of a Thousand Tears Pamela Hart (Beauty From Ashes) Publication date: September 5th 2023 Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Beulah is a city divided by privilege and poverty, and seventeen-year-old Ellio lives in the poorest district of all—the Downs. Assigned there at birth, even his extraordinary gift with machines isn’t enough to escape Beulah’s rigid class structure.
But the boundaries of his world start to crumble the night he encounters a mysterious young woman.
Kaya is stubborn, impulsive, and volatile. His opposite in every way. Worse, she’s from Aurea, the city’s golden district, and beneath her hardened exterior lies a web of secrets tangled around Retiarius, the city’s elite fighting guild. How did she wind up in the Downs that night? And what’s her connection to Retiarius?
As Ellio and Kaya’s relationship deepens, they defy the boundaries of Beulah’s class system, risking everything to continue meeting in secret. When their forbidden love is put to the test, Ellio will have to decide if Kaya is just another impossible dream, or if some things are worth fighting for—even in the Downs.
If you enjoy dystopian romances like The Lunar Chronicles, Red Queen, and Divergent, check out this story of courage, love, fierce heroines, and underdogs.
Ellio found a lot of interesting things poking around dumpsters in the Downs, but this was the first time he’d found a foot. Peeking out from under the bin, the glossy black nail polish shimmered from the light of a distant streetlamp. Getting over his initial shock, the young man breathed a sigh of relief when his further investigation revealed that the foot was still attached to a leg. A rather shapely woman’s leg swathed in black biomesh with metal grommets tracing up the seam from calf to thigh.
Falling to his knees, he ignored the water from the puddle now seeping into his jumpsuit and the cold rain that dripped down the back of his neck. He pushed his goggles up into his dark-blue hair. Another, older set dangled from his throat as he leaned down. Ellio peered under the dumpster and was further consoled that the shapely leg was still attached to not only a torso but an entire woman’s body. She seemed to be all in one piece. Choppy black bangs fell in front of her eyes. Her face was flushed and smudged with dirt. Ragged gasps shuddered through her, breath puffing out as little clouds in the chill air. At least she was still breathing. Bodies sometimes turned up in the Downs, but not as often as one might expect.
What on Elorah had happened to her?
The young woman shivered.
Ellio frowned. “Hey, you all right?” He shook her leg gently.
The biomesh cloth of her pants alone was probably worth more than he made in a month. He cringed at the thought of getting grease on them, but then again, the young woman was passed out under a dumpster. Clearly, she had bigger problems. But just to be sure, he wiped his hands along the thighs of his coveralls a few times.
“Hey, c’mon.” Ellio craned his neck underneath the dumpster to see her better. “You can’t stay here.” He gripped her leg more firmly and tugged. The woman’s head lolled back and forth limply; her eyelids fluttered but remained closed.
After getting no response, Ellio partially crawled beneath the rusty trash receptacle. “’Scuse me, lady,” he whispered, sliding his hands lightly underneath her torso and dragging her out from under her makeshift shelter. He was careful not to let her bump her head on the way out.
Ellio kept his hands to respectable areas, but a blush still crept up his neck as he cradled the young woman against his chest. She looked about his age, maybe a year younger. Ellio had just turned seventeen a few weeks back. He couldn’t help noticing she was beautiful, with full pink lips and a cute little nose smattered with freckles. She had golden eyeshadow like wings around her eyes. Ellio swallowed. Brushing her bangs back from her face, he held a calloused hand against her forehead.
“You’re burning up!”
Pamela Hart is the author of Beauty from Ashes and City of a Thousand Tears. Raised on a steady diet of fantasy, science fiction and anime, she spent most of her childhood failing to acquire a Boston accent. Since then, she has slurped ramen in Ikebukuro, stampeded through flamenco lessons in Granada, and splashed her way across a fishpond for the Milkman Triathlon in Dexter. During her travels, she tends to overpack horrendously, but never regrets cramming her backpack full of books to devour along the way. She wanders the planet with Joe, the love of her life, and her adorably maniacal Boston terriers, Willy and Marvin.
The Ring Academy: The Trials of Imogene Sol C.L. Walters
Publication date: August 1st 2023
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Imogene Sol has had to work twice as hard for everything she has earned as a cadet at The Ring Academy on Serta. An orphan of notorious parents who killed hundreds of thousands of people in a bombing against the Federation, most people hate her by name alone, others have gone out of their way to make her life difficult. Though she’s managed to acquire a handful of trusted friends over her years at the academy, most of her peers loathe her. But she’s made her mark in the top ten of her cadet class and she’s ready to compete for what’s next.
As the Year Seven Final Trials begin—a series of tests to determine placement within the Federation—Imogene knows all her hopes are riding on her performance. But when she’s framed for an offense that could not only get her expelled from the academy but also incarcerated, Imogene must discover who’s behind the threat against her. When her greatest competition, Timaeus Kade, offers to help her solve the mystery to clear her name, Imogene must decide if she’s willing to trust him. The stakes are high. Only the mysterious saboteur strikes again, justifying she needs his help, proving the stakes aren’t just her future anymore but her life.
Imogene raced across the room to grab the bo staff leaning against the wall, her opponent just steps behind her. The zip of his staff buzzed the air near her head as she ducked, rolled across the mat, and grabbed the weapon she needed from the holder. She turned and crouched with her back to the wall, wielding her staff to block her attacker. The clack of his weapon against hers vibrated up her arm through her elbow, jarring her teeth, but she ignored the discomfort—she was used to it—and shot forward.
“That’s all you’ve got?” She smirked at her opponent.
Vempur growled, showing his sharp incisors. His stark, black hair curled against his umber-toned temple slick with sweat as he followed it up by stabbing the end of the staff toward her face. His eyes, usually green flecked with sparkles of gold, turned completely black as he swung.
She blocked and went for a jab.
Vempur parried, then swung the staff at her head, once more with a loud grunt and frustrated huff. “You’re too quick,” he snapped.
Imogene smiled at her best friend but subdued the laugh. She knew he wouldn’t take it well in the middle of a fight. Not with everyone watching. Their silent, judgmental gazes were enough of a deterrent to keep Vempur’s temper in check. Besides, she wouldn’t have appreciated his humor at the moment either. There was too much on the line.
“You’re stronger. Taller,” she grunted out as she ducked once more. It wasn’t to feed his ego. “Find my weakness.”
“What weakness?” he snapped, frustrated more with himself than her, it would seem. “You haven’t lost yet today.”
“Exactly. I’m tired.”
Vempur growled, surging forward.
But she couldn’t afford to lose and that was the difference.
She rocked back, arching as the staff narrowly missed her gut, then swung her stick out to catch Vempur’s feet. He jumped and brought his bow down to the mat barely missing her back as she rolled out from under his strike.
“Stars!” Halo Mins—their instructor—yelled across the sparring room. “It shouldn’t look like a dance. It should look like a fight!”
Several of the other Year Sevens in the room snickered, and she knew it was at their expense.
“Shit,” Imogene swore, resetting as she hopped away. “He’s going to knock me down.”
“He won’t. He can’t.” Vempur punched out, and Imogene blocked the weapon. They pushed against one another and locked, resting for a beat. “You’ve dominated everyone today.”
“Not everyone.” She pushed, using her momentum to twist and swing, the pole wide, catching Vempur’s ankles. His giant frame slammed against the mat, and she went in for the kill, feigning a stab into his throat.
Vempur opened his hands against his bow staff in supplication and frowned. “Everyone knows you belong on the leaderboard, Imogene.”
As a kid, CL Walters, world revolved around two things: stories and make believe. She’s built a real life around those two things: a teacher of stories and a writer of make believe.
With four books now published, she’s looking forward to her fifth release October 13, 2020, a YA Contemporary Romance called The Stories Stars Tell.
Sign up for her newsletter for news, goodies, and fun (www.clwalters.net)
Shifted Series Adrienne Woods, Carlyle Labuschagne
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHORS Adrienne Woods and Carlyle Labuschagne bring you the epic world of Concordia where seventeen-year-old novice fae, Sophie Emerson, has to find herself in a world filled with magic, shapeshifting creatures and secrets that could get her killed. A world where Drake Evans, a shapeshifting phoenix griffin tries to do what is right, even if it means betraying his own heart.
The epicness is stretched over a series of five novels that will have you sitting at the edge of your seat, falling in love not just with Concordia, but with all the Concordians living in it.
If you love Griffins, Phoenixes, Manticores, Pegasi and fae trying to fix a world that seems impossible to fix, then you do not want to miss out on this epic journey.
Carlyle is a USA Today bestselling author from South Africa, who has won an award for her SF fantasy series the Broken Trilogy. This series broke ground not only in her country but in many where the genre of SF is concerned. Mixing African tales into worlds most of her readers describe as highly imaginative and unique. Her Dystopian Romance book, Dead of Night is a multi-award nominated tale set in a world where love is outlawed, described by readers as breathing new life into the genre.
Her goal as an author is to touch people’s lives, and help others love their differences and one another by delivering strong messages of faith, love and hope within each world she writes about. She loves creating villains you have a hate, love relationship with and always explores imperfection as a strength in her heroes and supporting characters.
“I love to swim, fight for the trees, and am a food lover who is driven by my passion for life. I dream that one day my stories will change the lives of countless teenagers and have them obsess over the world literacy can offer them instead of worrying about fitting in. Never sacrifice who you are, its in the dark times that the light comes to life.”
Sixteen-year-old Elijah Delomary wants to be a normal boy, riding his skateboard, reading his favorite books, and playing with his familiar, Boxey. His mother expects him to practice magic and fight the monsters who are hurting ordinaries, but he’d rather spend time with his new best friend, Austin.
As their friendship deepens and an old nemesis—Devlina, the Queen of the Gloom—threatens to destroy the universe, Elijah has to decide what’s more important: magic, family, or love?
Fifteen-year-old Austin Kang Jr., well over six feet tall, lean and lanky with a mop of black hair falling over his eyes, adjusted the thick black glasses on his face. He studied the white stone and glass mansion jutting out over a hillside on North Sunset Canyon Drive. The house appeared to have good feng shui, with a Southern exposure to allow absorption of positive chi, a panoramic view of the Valley below, and a clear path to the front door.
Feng shui was important to Austin and his parents. They believed it helped center their family and keep them grounded and safe. Austin and his parents were descended from a long line of Magicals called Glimmerers who could tap into a glimmer of magic and twist, turn, and manipulate it as if it were hot ore being turned into a sword.
Coaugelus, as they were known in the Old Language, the mother tongue of the Magicals, were a class of warriors. They defended Magicals and Ordinaries, or humans without magic, from dark forces, creatures, and monsters that lived in the dark shadows of Earth—a place called the Gloom.
Coaugelus, Magicals, and Ordinaries lived in the light in our world, also known as the Shimmering. Everywhere that the sun touched was part of the Shimmering. Austin, his parents, even the people driving by in cars, walking their dogs, and watering their lawns shimmered and lived in the light.
Long ago, the Gloom and the Shimmering met face-to-face in a great war that killed and destroyed countless Ordinaries, Magicals, and monsters. The war raged on and reached a crescendo. A Pàcifimenta, a treaty among Ordinaries, Magicals, and the Gloom was signed. The war ended. Peace settled over the Shimmering and the Gloom.
Still, many in the Coven, the collective of monsters in the Gloom, did not agree with the Pàcifimenta. They didn’t like that they had to sacrifice feeding on Ordinaries or haunting, possessing, or simply terrorizing them. Others wanted power to control the Coven, and to defeat the peace created by the Pàcifimenta. Some creatures didn’t like peace as part of their nature. These monsters were fought by Coaugelus like Austin and his family.
Austin loved three things in life: playing soccer (known as football back home in Hong Kong), listening to grunge music like his dad, and fighting the Coven. For Austin, being a Coaugelo gave him a purpose in life and a place where he felt like he belonged. He particularly enjoyed kicking, punching, and using Xem Sen Ou, the ancient martial art from Minerva in Old Earth in the Seventh Dimension where all Magicals came from.
He also fancied his PlasmX, a purple plasma staff that folded into nondescript metal object akin to a lighter that he always carried with him. He had used it only last night while hunting down a group of rather angry werewolves, or Malloupus, that were attacking tourists at the night market in Kowloon. Austin enjoyed watching the pure purple plasma slice through the heads and arms of werewolves that were in the middle of reaping the souls of innocent Ordinaries.
Austin loved saving Ordinaries from monsters.
“What’s our assignment?” Austin asked his parents.
“Trouble is breaking out within the Coven here in Los Angeles,” said Austin Sr.
Austin and his family spoke with posh accents, a holdover from when Hong Kong was a colony of the UK. “We’re here to investigate and report back to XAQ2,” continued Austin Sr.
“Bleedin’ hell,” Austin complained. “XAQ2 are wankers. Full of rules. Can’t we simply report to the Anti-Coven League and be done with it?”
“Xutactiendo Allégansa Qu’elicallen Duzo have moved more operations of the League from the clandestine to the legal,” said Austin Sr.
“What does that mean?” Austin asked.
“The Alliance is strained and weakened. As leaders of the Alliance, the Còngréhassa are trying to placate their counterparts in the Coven and maintain the Pàcifimenta. Part of that entails relying more on formal procedures. The League works in secret, whereas XAQ2 works through formal channels as the official body of the Alliance.”
“Tossers,” Austin said. “XAQ2 can all go to hell as far as I’m concerned.”
Timoteo K. Tong grew up in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles dreaming of living in a rambling Victorian mansion. He currently lives with his husband and way too many plants in San Francisco. He is obsessed with cheese pizza, drinking cola, and daydreaming about magic. He sold his first book when he was age eight, a story about his beloved stuffed animal named Crocker Spaniel. He is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators International.
A young boy’s apparent accidental drowning, a mysterious drifter, the town
recluse, a deaf boy who can hear the voices of spirits, and the mystery that
connects them all.
Samson Roe comes from a family of fake psychics his mother being the most
recent perpetrator of the con. However, Sam has a secret that he has not
revealed to anyone, he can speak with ghosts. The only problem is that Sam
is deaf, so though he can hear the voices of the dead the living are silent
to him. When a boy named Kip Green drowns in the picturesque town of Heaven
Maine nobody suspects anything sinister; that is until Kip makes a visit to
Samson and reveals that he believes his death to be anything but an
accident. Together they begin to investigate what really happened and in the
process begin to unravel a thirty-seven year old mystery.
About the Author
Anneke Barnard was born and raised in Portland, Maine. She graduated from
Portland High School in 2017 and the University of Southern Maine in 2021.
She lives with her three brothers, mom and dad, and dog Fenway. For updates
on her writing follow her on twitter @barnard_anneke.
In the heat and oilfields, John and his pals believe a rock concert is the
answer to theirdiscontent, never realizing the trip will transform them forever—if
they survive it.
In 1966, John Pierce and his friends are discontented teens shackled by
life in a West Texas oilfield boomtown. As they swelter in summer heat amid
thousands of oil wells, desperation creeps in.
When news of an electrifying rock concert captures their hearts, they leave
on a quest for music, girls, and self-indulgence. No one warned them about
the nightmarish occurrences they could face on their dream trip.
Based on a true adventure in an out-of-the-ordinary setting, THE CONCERT is
an unforgettable exploration of friendships and dangers looming along the
stepping stones to adulthood.
About the Author
Lawson McDowell was almost born in the backseat of a Buick, but after a
wild ride through the wheat fields near Dodge City, Kansas, they arrived at
the hospital in the nick of time. That was in 1950. It seems Lawson has been
in a hurry ever since.
When he was five, his family moved to Texas, establishing roots in the
small town of Andrews, where his father worked in the oil industry. Lawson
grew up with rattlesnakes, cowboys, and roustabouts in the rough-and-tumble
oil boom years of the 50s and 60s.
After graduation from Texas Tech University, Lawson went to work for
Southern Pacific Railroad. He advanced through the ranks, eventually leading
operations in Los Angeles, Tucson, and Kansas City. At the corporate level,
he served as director of safety in Denver and, for a time, chaired the
Association of American Railroads Safety Section in Washington. D. C.
Lawson attended executive classes at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. While MIT upgraded his skills, he developed a love for Boston
and the Red Sox.
After serving many years as Director of Network Operations for Union
Pacific, Lawson is now enjoying retirement with his greatest passion, his
wife, Virginia. You can contact Lawson through his website at http://www.LawsonMcDowell.com
Wishes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be… especially when you have to capture the Fairies who grant them to you.
Er… make that faeries… and not the normal, hiding-in-plain-sight magical kind.
When a misadventure cleaning out the attic leads Isaac to release a faerie trapped in a glass ball of light, he believes he’s struck gold–in the form of wishes. All he has to do is mention the name that was engraved on the ball, and the indebted faerie would grant him any three wishes he wanted.
The best part of all was knowing that there was an entire chest of captured faeries waiting to be freed…
But when strange things start to happen around town, Isaac begins to wonder if the increasingly unfortunate events are his doing.
Only his mysterious neighbor, Yara, knows the truth about his lineage as a Light Keeper.
Can Yara’s strength and wisdom guide Isaac into his new role?
Can Isaac make things right again?
Or will his dream-come-true turn into his worst nightmare?
Rows and rows of glass balls stared back at me. They almost reminded me of ornaments without the hooks. I reached in and clasped one of the balls in my hands; the ball glowed a faint orange. I rolled it around but couldn’t identify a battery or a charge port. What powered this thing? The only other interesting thing about the glass was the word engraved on the side. C-R-I-S-T-O. Cristo? What a disappointment. Lightbulbs. I had torn the attic upside down for lightbulbs.
I was reaching back down to pick up another ball when the first slipped from my hand. I grabbed for it but clasped only air. I couldn’t do anything except listen to the glass shatter on the floor.
As I imagined Mom’s frustration when I explained to her that I’d broken one of Grandfather’s priceless heirlooms, a wispy fog poured out from the shattered glass, floated over the floor, and expanded to cover every inch of space. The cold and damp fog sent a chill through my body. The light from the window illuminated the silhouette of a figure in the mist. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I swatted my hand to wave away the fog from my face, but the figure remained.
I wanted to run back downstairs, nail the door shut, and apologize to Mom and Dad, but I couldn’t move. I wasn’t sure if I was frozen in fear or had an intense fight complex or my curiosity was too strong, but I needed to see what was coming. My knees quaked, and my heart thumped as the fog cleared and the shape in front of me became more pronounced.
The figure loomed over me. He was thin and tall, not abnormally so but taller than the average man. His suit was one I had only seen in movies about olden times and reminded me of a leprechaun’s. The suit had a waistcoat, and he even wore his trousers tucked into long socks. He also wore loafers with buckles on the shoes. The man’s skin was rough and weathered. He had a long-hooked nose, his face formed sharp angles, and his ears were half the size of his head.
The most curious thing about this person were his eyes. The man strode toward me. His eyes turned my blood cold. Was it because looking at his pupils felt like staring into a deep well? His intense gaze locked onto mine. I wanted to leave, but something prevented me from looking away from him.
A lump in my throat grew larger with each step he took. He came to a stop in front of me with perfect posture, hands folded behind his back. In a stone so calm and quiet it almost scared me more, he asked, “Do you know my name?”
My stomach lurched and threatened to make me throw up from panic. This person had come from a ball inside a secret locked chest. My mind raced a mile a minute. How would I know his name? The only indicator I could think of was the word I read on the glass before it broke, Cristo.
In a broken voice that squeaked and made me sound younger than my sister, I asked, “Cristo?”
The man snapped into a bow. The quick gesture caught me off guard and made me hop a step backward. His friendly smile stretched from ear to ear but did not match the despair his eyes made me feel. He stood and grandly announced, “At your service. What tasks will you have me perform?”
Christina Wallace has been many things. A student, an analyst, a wife, a mother, a gamer, and a lifelong writer. For almost as long as she can remember she’s dreamed of people and places that only existed in her mind, and sharing her stories is a dream come true.
Christina writes books not only for middle-grade audiences, but for young and new adults as well. Stories should be an escape. Christina likes to write about people who become their own heroes and take fate into their own hands. Many of her works contain fantastical elements and also a bit of love, but strong friendships are the common thread.
The Light Keeper is Christina’s debut series with more books soon to come. She is thrilled to begin this adventure of her very own as an author.
Neptune’s Window: First Glance L.L. Lewin
(Neptune’s Window, #1)
Publication date: November 25th 2020
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
What if you had a glimpse into what others are oblivious to? According to the zodiac, the planet Neptune represents illusions, mystery, and the unconscious mind. Aries Dade is a teenage medium who has the ability to look inside those illusions and speak to the afterworld. But for some reason, she can’t communicate with her recently deceased mother. With the help of a few spirits, she tries to discover the truth behind her mother’s death. But can she trust the spirits? Aries and her father move to Newport Beach, California to start over. Little do they know they are unlocking a world of lies, betrayals, and deception. And everyone they come in contact with is somehow intertwined with her mother’s death. When the star quarterback and a bad-boy senior vie for her attention, Aries senses something isn’t right. Meanwhile, the rich, popular girls make her life a living hell to keep her from finding out the truth. First Glance is the first novel in the Neptune Window’s trilogy. Do you dare to glance inside the window?
Demanding spirits barged their way into Aries’s mind, each voice trying to outdo the other.
“Please stop,” she said through clenched teeth.
For a moment they went away, allowing her to bask in the silence. But as soon as she took a step toward the school, their clamor started back up.
Aries ran behind a row of palm trees, shielding herself from streams of cars and pedestrians as the high-pitched aggravation attacked her senses.
“Not today…please not today,” she begged no one in particular.
Out of sight, she dropped to her knees and picked at the grass as the noise escalated.
“Dammit. I said stop.”
Giving in, she put her hands in her lap. With her index finger, she wrote the alphabet on her leg. She needed deep concentration to make the connection. She waited for a clear voice to come through, dreading – yet at the same time accepting – communication with the dead.
After tracing a Z on her leg, she started over with A as a faint whisper formed. Unable to make out any words, she slowed her pace and drew the letter B. She kept repeating this action, taking deeper breaths each time, trying to match the frequency of the spirit.
She’d almost given up when a clear voice said, “You need to find out the truth, Aries.”
LL Lewin is the author of Neptune’s Window Trilogy. A native of Southern California, she was born in Los Angeles County and grew up in Orange County. She graduated from the University California, Irvine with a degree in psychology and social behavior, and holds a Masters in Social Emotional Learning. After teaching for several years and interacting with the youth almost daily, she was inspired to write a young adult mystery novel, which morphed into a little more. Since things happen in threes for her (her initials, triple Sagittarius, the third born) the novel turned into a trilogy and reaffirmed her belief that three’s a charm.
She loves all things astrological, metaphysical, and spiritual. With her Sun, Moon, and Rsing all in the sign of Sagittarius, She’s as Sagittarius as they come, optimistic, freedom-loving, and ever so tactless.
Her three passions in life are writing, traveling, and soccer. You’ll either find her writing at the beach, on an island somewhere, or on a soccer field. And her three vices are chocolate, pizza, and champagne, and not necessarily in that order.
For more updates, photos, and videos follow LL Lewin on Twitter or Instagram @LLLewin3
Quest of Awakening Daniel Dickson
Publication date: May 19th 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
‘Eragon’ meets ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ in this queer YA fantasy that will leave you breathless until the last page.
With war threatening to shatter Ivearth’s 500 years of peace, Prince Xavier embarks on a perilous quest to the mystical isle of Hom to claim a dragon and secure his place as king. But a dragon can only bond with someone true to themselves, forcing Xavier to confront his deepest fears. His truth, if revealed, could destroy the monarchy, the kingdom and the faith he serves.
Accompanied by a newly-heartbroken magical creatures expert, and a fearless steamboat captain, Xavier braves mermaid-infested waters and faces off against fearsome dragons. But the trio soon learns Hom calls on them to confront the obstacles that lie within. For Xavier, dangerous feelings for someone unexpected becomes the trigger to confronting all he has suppressed.
Will Xavier be successful in his mission? Or will his journey lead him down a different path, one that could alter the course of history forever?
They debated the topic for some time. Rueban knew he needed us on his side. He calculated his words and made it clear he would not back down while being unprovoking. I ought to have been thinking more about how he had disrespected our Treaty of Protection. How what he was asking of us could breed civil war at best and a war with a powerful race of magicians. But instead, I wondered what Rueban had been thinking. What those glances at me meant.
After a few more cups of wine, Father had had enough of debating and asked me if I would escort Rueban to his chambers. We stood and made our respectful, pleasant farewells to Father and took our leave.
We walked through torchlit corridors in uncomfortable silence. Rueban was the first to speak. “I suppose soon it won’t matter what your father thinks. You will soon be king.”
“Yes, well. I have to say, I agree with my father. But I do hope we can maintain a pleasant alliance.” My voice shook as I spoke and I hoped he hadn’t noticed.
Rueban didn’t press the subject, showing surprising restraint. Being around him felt threatening, though, as if he were on the verge of attack. Still, even with the quickening of my heart and the awkward silence, there was something oddly alluring about his piercing blue eyes and the way he fitted his richly-embellished tunic.
We approached his wing, and I led the way to his guest chambers, stopping at the oak door with rounded handles. I reached across and opened the door for him. “I trust you’ll be comfortable,” I said.
He leaned into the archway and turned back to me. “Yes, yes, I will.”
I signaled my agreement and prepared to walk away, but he stretched an arm out to stop me. I turned back and faced him. His touch excited me in a way I wasn’t prepared for.
“Prince Xavier, it’s been a pleasure meeting you tonight.” He slid his hand from my back, and his fingers fell onto my forearm and caressed me. My throat closed. I didn’t know what to say. His gaze was intense, and I knew we verged on something inappropriate, something dangerous.
Rationality fled as I met that gaze with my own. He rubbed his hand up my biceps and held me firmly. I didn’t want to stop him, but even if I had, the fear in my stomach kept me speechless and immovable. He reached a hand to the back of my head and ran his fingers through my hair as he arched in toward my face.
I couldn’t look. It felt sinful, with the Great Goddess peering down at me. So, with eyes closed, I reached out my hand and rested it on his waist. He opened his mouth to speak, letting out a hushed breath that sent shivers down my body.
“Good night, Prince Xavier. Now I see what you truly are,” he whispered.
I swallowed my anxiety as he pulled away and disappeared through the door. My heart slowed and my breath shook. What was that? What kind of game was he playing? What did he think he knew about me?
I slammed my palm against the stone wall beside me. Gripping my sore hand, I stalked back through the corridors. He had put me in such an uncomfortable place. To throw himself at me like that. But it was fine. I hadn’t wanted it anyway. I’d been just going along with it. Or at least that’s what I had told my racing heart, that one day soon I would have a queen, and this night and other nights like it would just be distant memories. One day I would laugh about the confusing thoughts I’d been fighting against since I was young, and they would plague me no more.
But here I am, awake at the midnight hour, replaying that night over and over in my mind.
Daniel Dickson is a Glasgow-based author and cognitive behavioral therapist with a passion for impactful storytelling. With formal education in various aspects of professional writing, psychology, and counseling, he strives to help people find self-love and thrive through his writing and clinical practice. In his free time, he enjoys practicing meditation, taking walks in nature with his rescue dog Willow, reading books across a range of genres especially fantasy and sci-fi, and traveling to explore new cultures. His favorite book is Humans by Matt Haig, and he’s a film buff with a particular fondness for the movie Donnie Darko. As a spiritual person with influences from Buddhism, Eastern and Western philosophy, and psychology, Daniel believes his stories can promote acceptance and contribute to creating a more peaceful and unified world.
His debut novel, Quest of Awakening, is a queer YA fantasy that follows the journey of a young prince as he navigates his identity and embarks on a dangerous quest to save his world. With a diverse cast of characters and themes of self-discovery and acceptance, this book is sure to capture the hearts of readers.
Join Daniel on a thrilling adventure that will keep you turning pages and inspire you to embrace your true self. Get your copy of Quest of Awakening on Friday, May 19th.