Back in September, I had the pleasure of reading an excerpt of Lumina and the Goblin King live at a Strong Women-Strange Worlds QuickReads event. It was amazing fun, and they have just started posting the videos from their events on Youtube! Go take a look…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😀
I recently received an ARC for A.J. Lancaster’s King of Faerie, the fourth and final (well, mostly final) book in the Stariel series. I stayed awake until 3:00 am finishing it, and I regret nothing! It also gave me the perfect excuse to reread the series and spend many a pleasurable hour immersed in the land of Stariel.
Most often, the books I enjoy best are the ones that pull you in. Books whose characters stand right up off the pages, with emotions and motivations all their own, and a chemistry between them that feels natural. Books that invite you to read them again and again because they feel like old comfortable friends. So, it’s no wonder why the Stariel series is so appealing to me. It has all of that and more, wrapped up in a beautifully imagined world where fae magic and fantastical creatures exist alongside turn-of-the-century innovations such as telephones and electricity. Glaze the whole thing with the family drama and social mores of a Regency romance, and you have the delightfully immersive story of Hetta, Wyn, and the somewhat extensive Valstar family.
I could go on and recap the series book by book, but I promise it will be a lot more fun if you explored them on your own. However, if you want to read more of my thoughts on them, click on the links below. They will take you to my Goodreads review for each book. I do not receive any sort of monetary compensation if you follow the links, nor did I receive any for the reviews I posted with the exception of the ARC I received of King of Faerie that I mentioned earlier. I wanted to write this post because I enjoyed the series enough to read it more than once and wanted to share it with others who might also.
I often sketch or doodle on what ever piece of paper happens to be handy. My muse must like the rhythmic scratching of my pencil because it has helped me get past many a writing block. I thought it would be fun to share some of those sketches with you along with an excerpt or two (or three). They are also on my Artwork and Inspirations page, and there will likely be more to come as I work on The Broken Court, a novella that picks up directly after Lumina and the Goblin King.
Chapter 2 – A Bowl of Milk and Bread with Honey
Had Lumina stayed to watch in which direction the raven and his passenger had flown, she might have seen them circle back to land just above her on one of the lone pine’s sheltering branches. Slipping off Hoax’s back, the goblin squatted down on the branch next to where the phooka was perched. Neither the distance nor the foliage were obstacles that could stop him from seeing where the fairy and salamander were dancing below. The two moved in perfect harmony around the circle of stones, the elemental within and the sprite without, flames flashing in the air between them as she tossed small offerings to the salamander. The wind carried the sweetly scented smoke up to the branch where he and the phooka sat. Hoax leaned forward so that his eye was on a level with the goblin squatting next to him. He cocked his head so that one eye looked down on the dancers below while the other looked on the face of his companion. “An interesting sprite,” commented the phooka. “Yes,” his companion replied. “And was the milk that her kitten lapped up so readily slated for the Goblin King’s table?” he asked, still eyeing his companion. “It was.” “Ah,” said the phooka, turning his full attention back to the sprite below. “That will bring trouble.” “I am sure it will.” “It has been half a century since one of the fairy trespassed against us so blatantly. One wonders if it was softness or speculation that stayed your hand.” The phooka’s comment was met only with silence. “And apparently I will continue to wonder,” he sighed. “Still, she seemed quite anxious about the kitten, and then there is the elemental. Do you think he is here by his will or someone else’s? Could she have bound him?” Again he was met with silence. The phooka sighed again, and ruffled his feathers. They stayed and watched as the night grew older, until the dance reached its natural end. The dancers stood facing each other. The sprite reached up and plucked a single hair from her head, a shimmering strand of midnight blue which she tossed to the salamander. He caught it and for the briefest instant it lay in his palm, then with a flash of emerald light it was gone. But, in its place was left a scent, a lovely scent like the air just before a summer storm, sharp and clean and filled with life. “Ah, so that answers that question,” said Hoax. “Still, I doubt it is much of a hardship being bound to her. What do you think, Crow,” he asked, drawing out the name Lumina had given to the goblin next to him. “Should I try it and see?” “And what would a fairy maid do with one such as you?” “Why, every goblin knows that answer; she would do what all maids are want to do! Pluck out my eyes and break my heart in two!” he finished with a flourish of wings and what might have been a grin on his raven’s face.
Chapter 10 – Autumn Equinox
“I am sorry Mistress, what are you asking me to do?” “I am asking you to help me carry this little seedling to the Goblin King’s Keep,” Lumina said patiently, not for the first time. “I still don’t understand,” said the silver cat. “Dearest,” she said, her exasperation plain. “You know perfectly well what I am asking of you.” “Yes,” the silver cat admitted with bemused patience. “I understand that you want me to carry that seedling.” “You do?” Lumina said, bafflement replacing exasperation. “Yes. But I am a cat,” he explained. “And why does that matter?” Lumina asked. “Cats don’t carry things,” he said matter-of-factly. “That’s what ponies and phookas are for.” “Neither are here, dearest. And you carry things,” she pointed out. “After all, what do you do with the mice you catch?” “I eat them.”
Chapter 5 – The Fairy Queen’s Round
Lumina’s eyes searched through the goblin host of their own accord, passing over its bogels, boomen and powries, henkies, glastigs and bodachs without stopping. She saw the blue face of muilearteach and brown fur of the wulver, but the familiar dark coat and feathered visage which she had hoped for, was nowhere to be seen. There was, however, another in the throng who caught and held her gaze. The Goblin King watched as she spun past in a dance that now seemed infinitely slow. His eyes captured her as neatly as a butterfly in a net. If the Queen’s hair was sun gold, then his was starlight, falling heavy and straight over a coat of cobalt blue. Two silver antlers swept up and back from his brow. The planes of his face were sharp, his eyebrows straight and fine. His lips, beautiful and cold, held a small secret smile as he looked at her. And then the dance swept past him, out of the reach of his smile though it lingered in her mind long after he was beyond her sight. A painful fluttering filled her chest, like a million moths dashing themselves to pieces around her heart. After centuries of absence, could it be anything else but her trespasses that would bring the Goblin King back to the Queen’s court?