For the eld woman, life has changed irrevocably. Her mortality hangs on her like a shroud, and young Thom, newly returned from faerie, has turned her world upside down. Ill portents fill the air, and even the seasons are out of step…

Stories often have a mind of their own, don’t they? Take Lumina and the Goblin King, I was sure the story was finished. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of writing the epilogue that I realized there were other stories there, waiting to be told. That even happy endings aren’t really endings at all, just the beginnings of new stories. In this case, a story about the eld woman, Hoax and Thom, the boy who had been stolen away from Underhill.

So here we are, with The Broken Court set to come out early next year. It follows directly after Lumina and the Goblin King and precedes the final book, whose story is already whispering in my ear, but whose name has not quite revealed itself yet. I already posted one excerpt from The Broken Court in my post The first day of fall, if you find yourself a little curious and want to give it a read. And keep your eyes open for another to be posted later in December. Or better yet, come listen to me read at Strong Women-Strange Worlds’ Year-End Extravaganza on Sunday, Dec. 12th. I am reading a part of that same December excerpt at their Holiday-themed Quick Reads. And if you like Scavenger Hunts, there will also be a chance to win a copy of Lumina and the Goblin King, along with a box full of other books and swag.

If you think the idea of hanging out with over 30 authors for free, without even having to change out of your pajamas, sounds like fun, then here’s the place to register.

That’s right, thanks to the amazing Janis McDavid. Molly the Mermaid now has a voice! You can find it in Reading’s a Breeze’s ever growing library of books.

THE WORLD THROUGH A CHILD’S EYES.

The delightful thing about childhood is that even the most mundane things can be fantastical. Every blanket becomes a vast fortress, every patch of sunlight a pathway to a magical land. Molly the Mermaid opens a door to an incredible place of boundless imagination – the mind of a child.

This light-hearted story is about a girl, the sea, and the wonderful adventures her imagination takes her on while she plays in the waves. As a mermaid, Molly meets a dolphin named Penelope. Together they play in the sunlit waves and explore interesting places under the sea.
A good book for adults and children to read together, the illustrations are fun and the descriptive language appeals to a variety of senses. Young readers will find a springboard for their imagination as they explore coral castles, find chests filled with gold and glittering jewels, and have tea with a leafy sea dragon at the very bottom of the sea.

Below is a short excerpt from one of my current projects. Where the Angels Dream (working title). Set in a time similar to the late 1800s, it is a story about Devon and Sara Amaris. A brother and sister to whom the dead speak and unknown powers take notice. It is still very much a work in progress.

Vintage image of a sad angel on a cemetery against the background of leaves (details)

Devon sat on a garden bench beneath the red cedar tree. He leaned back, one leg crossed over the opposite knee as he drew softly on a small pipe. Tobacco was a luxury he rarely indulged, but tonight seemed a good night for it.

The courtyard was quiet, save for the watery trickle of the fountain and the soft sighing of the night breeze. The air was cool and the seat beneath him, damp with the chill. He could still see the glow of Sara’s bedroom light reflected in the branches above him, then a few minutes later they went out. Just as he expected, it was not long after that he felt a furred body lean against his leg. A tail curled around his calf for a moment before disappearing, to be replaced by small paws pressing against his shin. Whiskers brushed across the back of his hand where it rested on the ankle of his crossed leg.

Of course, he could not see the cat. Of all those in his family, only Sara could see the spirits. Though if she were to hold his hand, palm to palm, then he too could see them through the virtue of her gift. No for him, the spirits were not something to be seen, but he could touch them, just as easily as he could anything made of flesh and blood.

“Is our angel finally asleep, then?” he asked and was answered with a deep contented purr. He felt a weight settle into his lap and two paws come to rest on his chest. Whiskers tickled across his jaw before the cat settled in. Stretching out on his chest, its head on his shoulder so that its nose rested just below his ear, where it continued to purr softly. In the darkness he had no need to worry if any saw, so his fingers came up to absently stroke the phantom fur.

“I worry,” he admitted to his companion. “It is harder for her, being able to see all of you. Other people notice more. She tries so hard to not be seen, and she has gotten better at hiding it. But, she can’t bring herself to ignore someone who speaks to her because she has a kind heart, and she doesn’t want to offend the dead.”

The cat gave a little trill as it continued to purr.

“Do you know she hasn’t even mentioned you to me. Though I’ve no doubt that she has seen you,” he confided to unseen companion, worry deepening his voice. “And that, my little cat, concerns me more than I care to admit. I believe it would be a good idea to have a look at this headmaster.”

Eventually, he tapped his pipe out on the side of his boot heel and stood up slowly. The cat transitioning from his chest to his shoulder where it perched as he slipped his pipe into he trouser pocket and headed up the front steps into the dark house. He walked softly through the silent kitchen, the fragrant ghosts of dinners past twining with the scent of resting dough for the breakfast yet to come. His boots made no noise on the back stairs that spiraled up from the kitchen to floors above. He went to their very end, a short hall in the attic with two doors facing each other across it. He glanced at one, before opening the other and going in. He resolved to walk into school with his sister the next morning.

Changing into his nightclothes, he stretched out on the bed. He could feel his visitor’s whiskers brush his cheek as it settled onto the pillow next to him. The purring in his ear resolving into a gentle rhythm, rising and falling like the rolling waves on an unseen shore. He let himself drift with the sound; knowing that when he closed his eyes, the now familiar figure of a dark haired woman would be waiting for him, down at the edge of the sea.

* * * * *

For any of you who didn’t make it, the Sept. 3rd Quick Read was a lot of fun. If you have ever enjoyed or been interested in hearing authors read from their own works, then I would strongly recommend you go to Strong Woman – Strange Worlds and register to attend one of their Quick Read events. They are on the first Friday and third Thursday of every month and there is always a good mix of authors. Where ever your speculative fiction interests may lie, you will most likely find something to like. Not to mention afterwards, you can talk with or ask questions of the authors.

For authors, it is a great way to meet other authors and share your work with interested readers. It is easy and free for both the authors and the audience, so win-win! Sound like fun? Here’s a link to the form if you want to go take a look. I hope you do, I try to make as many events as I can and would love to hear what others are working on.

Orange aspen leaves glow in the fall sunlight. – Unfortunately, this picture is not from here!

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Though the signs are a lot more subtle here, since the leaves don’t really change. However, you can still tell and I love it! That I just finished the first draft of one of my current projects, makes it all the better. The working title is The Broken Court, and it’s a novella that picks up directly after Lumina and the Goblin King. Of course it is still in need of a lot of work, but here is a small taste:

The Broken Court – excerpt

She had not expected Hoax to stay much after dinner was done, but to her surprise he did. He was apparently content to watch as Thom drew designs in the ashes by the fire. She went about adding oats and dried fruit to a pot, covering them with water, before placing it near the hearth where it could be ready for the morning.

The hour grew later, and still the phooka showed no signs of leaving. So, she took herself and the boy off to the other room to get ready for sleep. She tucked him into her own bed, before changing into her nightclothes. She gathered her brush and ribbon, then went to the chest at the end of the bed. Opening it, she took out the woolen tick she kept there, after wishing Thom a good night, she left.

She carried the feather ticking out and laid it out on the hearth. There she sat, watching the flames as she brushed and rebraided her hair, listening as the storm outside continued, unabated.

“Is this where you’ve been sleeping since the boy arrived?” Hoax’s voice asked. She turned to find him stretched out on the floor behind her, hands beneath his head.

“Where else would I sleep? The boy needs the bed more than I do,” she stated, although her stiff joints begged to differ.

“I can well imagine you change your mind when the fire burns low. But there is no need for you to sleep cold on the hearth tonight,” he assured her. “For here I am, perfect for curling up with. And should there be a need for comfort in the middle of the night, you can always reach over and rub my belly.”

“A need for comfort in the middle of the night?” she said dryly.

“Well it would certainly comfort me,” he said drolly, stretching out to his full length, before turning on his side to face her. The winsome eyes looking back at her now in the face of a great black hound.

The impertinent creature stood up and nosed his way on to the bedding despite her protests, laying down next to her with a sigh. She gave up and lay down also, turning her back on the phooka. Exasperating creature that he was, still his gentle breathing seemed to lift a weight from her shoulders. The heat coming from him eased the aches in her body better than the fire she lay in front of. Aches that were more than they should be because of the usual lack of them. More at ease then she had been in a while, she slid down into sleep.

She dreamt of Mayings long past, filled garlands and flowered crowns, and the warm kiss of the spring sun on her skin. When she danced in the moonlight with a sweet tune in her ears and sweeter kisses on her lips. Teasing promises in the dark waking a longing for such things that had never truly been hers. The feel of silken skin beneath her fingers hypnotic.

Her eyes drifted open to find that the fire had burned down very low. She knew it would go out if she did not add a log soon, but she could seem to bring herself to move comfortable as she was, her hand stroking along the warm silken flank next to her. A flank that was no longer covered in fur.

She sat up. Away from the phooka’s warmth her joints protesting against the chill that had settled in the house. Carefully she shifted to her knees in the hopes of not waking the goblin man who was currently taking up half her bed. A soft groan hummed in her throat as she leaned over to add a log to the fire.

He did not move when she laid back down, so she assumed he was still asleep. With a sigh she settled back down into his warmth.

“Tell me eld woman, just how heavily does your mortal blood weigh on you,” his soft asked from the darkness beside her, “now that you do not have old man apple’s gift to hold it back?”

“Go to sleep you troublesome creature,” was all the answer she gave.

“You first, dearheart.” Her eyelids grew heavy with his words. Sleep stealing up on soft feet to claim her.

*****

The fall colors that we do see here…

Read out loud to others… no problem. Read something I wrote out loud to other people… what am I thinking!!

I was thinking it would be fun, and I’m sure it will. Still, I can’t help but feel a healthy dose of terror mixed in with the excitement churning around in my belly. After all, there’s only one more day until myself and four other authors gather together via Zoom and read excerpts from our stories to a virtual room full of people. Ahh!!

On the other hand, it is also an amazing opportunity to meet readers and hang out with other authors. Several of the authors, myself included, are offering giveaways and swag. I am offering one free print copy of Lumina and the Goblin King, and a free ebook copy for everyone who signs up for one.

So, free entertainment… free books… what else could you ask for. Maybe someone else to read for me 🙂 Interested? Register here and join us.

Have their authors introduce them to you!

Find your next favorite read at this “book tasting” of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories by women and non-binary writers – 6 authors, 8 minutes each. It’s fast, it’s furious, and it’s amazing! Plus, there will be prizes/giveaways! And you don’t even have to leave the house! Register here: https://bit.ly/3A11O15

I can tell you from experience it is a lot of fun and its free!! Well, except for all the books you’ll want to buy afterwards 😀