Sneak Peek! Read Chapter One of IN THE JADED GROVE

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Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of conflict between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Hoping to secure a ceasefire, Simith arranges a meeting with the troll king—and is ambushed instead. Escape lies in the Jaded Grove, but the trees of the ancient Fae woodland aren’t what they seem, and in place of sanctuary, Simith tumbles through a doorway to another world.

Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm in Skylark, Michigan, Jessa runs into a battle between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel. Only the blood is very real. When a lone fighter falls to his attackers, Jessa intervenes. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but an act of kindness leads to consequences even a poet like her couldn’t imagine.

With their fates bound by magic, Simith and Jessa must keep the strife of his world from spilling into hers—except the war isn’t what it appears and neither are their enemies. Countless lives depend on whether they can face the truths of their pasts and untangle the web of lies around them. But grief casts long shadows, and even their deepening bond may not be enough to save them from its reach.

***

CHAPTER ONE

Simith washed the blood from his sword while dusk scoured the light from the sky.

It was quiet here on the muddy bank and the stream made no sound when he sank his blade point into its depths. He palmed chilly water over the smeared length, watching it tunnel down the crystal blade to cloud the stream a murky violet. Troll blood was oddly beautiful. If the sky was a bit darker, he could imagine iris petals coated his sword instead of death.

Beyond the gnarled hedgerow that grew at his back, camp celebrations continued. Knights and Helms alike rejoiced the latest victory, as yet unaware of the silence he’d left behind in the prisoners’ tent. Traces of song wove its way to him through the thorns, half-heard and dreamlike while he bathed his blade with stained hands.

Pixies had no ballads for war, victorious or otherwise, but the fairies had plenty to share. A century of conflict with the trolls had supplied ample inspiration for the long-lived creatures. His own kind had joined the fighting a mere ten years past, but given enough time, perhaps pixies too would put to verse the rending of flesh and hope that took place on the battlefield.

Simith’s hand stilled beneath the water. The cold stream numbed his fingers, a chill that traveled from his arm all the way to the gauzy wings hanging down his back. No, it wouldn’t come to that. He’d made a promise and he would see it through.

Footsteps squished in the mud, a determined clip alerting him to the approach of a Helm. Sooner than expected. He’d hoped to have a bit more time to settle back into his skin before once more playing the ruthless knight for his fairy commanders. Not that there was much difference between the pretense and the reality aside from personal scorn. More’s the pity.

The footsteps halted behind him. “Cleaning your own weaponry is beneath your rank, Knight Simith.”

Helm Firo. Of course. The commander of the vanguard seemed to watch him with an unsettling amount of focus lately, as though he could smell the change in him.

“I don’t mind the task,” Simith answered.

“Meaning you still haven’t found a squire willing to serve you.”

He didn’t reply. The other pixies of the fairy legion admired Simith’s battle prowess. They heeded his direction on the battlefield, but none sought his friendship.

He bore them no grudge. Simith knew their reasons. He knew what he was.

Firo moved to stand alongside him where he crouched by the stream. Simith watched him out of the corner of his eye. Much depended on how well he directed this conversation. He’d kept himself filthy, his light-brown hair stiff with dried sweat, his face dirty. He still wore his mud-spattered boots and blood-speckled leathers. He hadn’t even removed the bandolier of knives from his shoulders. This was his only chance. Presenting the appearance of an unraveling knight was vital for his purposes. He’d need to act the part as well.

After what he’d done, precious little of that would be feigned.

Firo himself had changed out of his gear. He’d dressed in the typical dove-colored tunics fairy kind favored, his pale hair washed and tidy. His conduit hung on a gold chain against his chest, a polished sapphire the size of a robin’s egg nesting in a bright, silver setting. Simith bit his lip to keep it from curling. Fairies adored displaying the pretty stones through which they funneled their magic, lest anyone forget their greater power. No other creature in the Realm paraded their conduits with as much vanity, a conceit they’d undoubtedly learned from their cousin race, the Fae. If Simith hadn’t once seen a troll’s arm burst into ash when trying to tear the conduit off a fairy, he’d have been tempted to snap that chain and throw Firo’s shiny gem into the mud.

“Shall we discuss what you’ve done, or do you wish to begin with denial?” Firo gazed at the sky. “I warn you not to annoy me. You’ve interrupted my supper with this nonsense.”

Simith let a smile cut across his mouth. “Are you here to scold me?”

“Those prisoners were meant for interrogation.”

“They were meant for the dawn,” he snorted. “Decorative new stonework for the Triad’s gardens.”

Firo looked at him. That remark held too much honest disdain for the Thistle Court’s three ruling fairy houses. Simith needed to be cleverer than this or tonight’s horrors would serve no greater good. And they must.

“I’ve warned you not to annoy me,” Firo said softly.

Simith dipped his head. “Your pardon, my Helm. I am not myself just now.”

“That must be so for you to blithely destroy information critical to advancing our campaign against the troll king. The Triad has always enjoyed your enthusiasm, but in recent months I’ve noticed your hunger for victory waning.” He crouched beside Simith, far too close. “Until tonight, apparently. I must say, even I hadn’t thought you so vicious as to butcher trolls while they’re bound and helpless. Strange behavior, indeed.”

Simith kept his eyes downcast. Fairy commanders knew the true names of all pixies in the legion. Firo could compel the truth from him, though it would be a risk to his authority if others discovered it. Simith’s only sin, as far as the camp would hear, was an overabundance of savagery against the enemy. Nothing new. Firo must only suspect something was amiss with his infamous knight, or he’d have already forced a confession out of him.

He had to offer a different truth. He had to offer some other piece of his soul to throw the Helm off his trail.

Simith took a cloth from his pocket and drew it across the beads of water pearled down the flat of his blade.

“Rimthea of Hazelglen was killed this time last year,” he said.

One year and six days tonight.

“Has it been that long already? Time does slip past.” Firo regarded him, no hint at the thoughts behind the flat grey of his eyes. “The pair of you were a mighty force. She was your mate?”

“My sister.” His almost-sister. Cirrus had died before they could take their vows. “I only intended to question them, but in the midst of things, they gave me insult and I…forgot myself.”

A shame he would never forget the way their glowing gazes had followed him, steady and clear as he split them open.

Firo cocked his head, incredulous. “You’re telling me you butchered our prisoners because you’re overwrought?”

He was in fact. He had been since they’d brought Rim back to camp with her mouth broken and her throat cut. But that wasn’t why the prisoners were dead.

“I lost control,” he said.

“A week ago, you requested a few days furlough. Is this the reason? This emotional fragility?”

“My request was denied.”

“That isn’t what I asked.”

Simith set the temptation of his sword on a patch of weeds next to him. “Yes. This is the reason.”

“Death follows us all, Simith, and none more so than you. We’re too close to our victory to have the pixies’ most prominent warrior behave like this. They look to you for direction, however much they eschew your company in camp.”

Firo examined him closely, twisting the sapphire on its chain in his long, fairy fingers. The gemstone held a blue so dark it looked filled with blood. “We’ve received new orders from the Triad. Our spies report the troll army weakened enough to attempt a full invasion, and our leaders agree. Three days hence, we begin an aggressive push into their territory. There are those among your ranks who may object to what’s ahead, given the peaceful history of your kind. You must be there to rally the vanguard.”

And by rally, he meant lead the killing. Lead by merciless example. For indeed, this would be a field without succor. The vanguard would swim in blood.

He’d known this was coming. Strange, that such plans could shock him when he’d thought himself beyond horror.

“I will be there,” Simith said.

Firo considered him a moment longer, then rose. “I grant you furlough this night and tomorrow. Go and sit among branches, or chase the winds with some kettle of hawks—whatever it is that soothes the fluttering mind of a pixie. When you return, I expect you and your blades to be ready for the task before us. Is that understood?”

“It is, and I am grateful.” He bowed his head to hide his staggering relief. Firo departed without further comment and Simith remained as he was until he could no longer hear the Helm’s steps.

His breath shuddered out of him and he sat back on his heels. He’d been braced for failure. It left him momentarily unmoored to realize he hadn’t found it. Or mayhap he simply reeled at the price he’d paid for this chance.

He’d caught only a glimpse of the two prisoners when they’d been brought to camp, but enough to see the pair wore a swatch of red cloth around their upper arms—his signal that the troll king had sent an answer to his request. Simith had fought his own impatience, biding his time until he was certain no Helm lingered nearby the tent in which they were held.

The pixie knights on guard hadn’t argued when he’d dismissed them. Whatever expression he’d worn must’ve been extreme, for they’d practically scrambled out of his way.

When he’d entered, he’d found them crouched together at the center of the tent with their heads bowed as though exchanging whispers. Possibly they had been, though he’d had nothing to fear. Their conduits—a length of interlinked chains with a rough, metal pendant—had been removed, depriving them of their magic. Although they’d stunk of iron, their armor, hatchets, and piercings had been taken as well. Nevertheless, Simith had tasted the ghost of that iron on his tongue. It’d made his head throb.

“You have a message for me,” he’d said.

Loathing had filled the trolls’ faces when they’d looked at him, lips curling over fanged mouths, clawed fingers flexing above silver chains wrapped flush against dark, green skin. Both sets of torchlight eyes had recognized him. Despite the purpose he’d assigned himself and the promise he’d made, Simith had relished their hatred.

One had shifted away from his comrade, chains clinking. “Our king has agreed to hear you out.”

“Did he agree to my terms?”

“He did.”

Bless the winds. He’d feared the king would reject meeting in the Jaded Grove. Trolls had no love of trees, particularly the ancient forests of the Fae, and the green world mirrored their animosity. King Drokeh must’ve truly wished to discuss Simith’s proposal.

“When can he meet me there?” Simith had asked.

“Tonight.”

He’d started. “That’s too short notice.”

“Did you hope he’d allow you the chance to gather an ambush? The timing of our capture was precise. He will meet you at middle night, on this eventide only.”

“The Helms may discover my absence. It’s too risky.”

“Find a way. All peace is risk,” the troll’s voice had been a low snarl, “especially when he who offers it wears the skin of a monster.”

Simith had smiled, a hard tilt of his mouth. “No monster lives but for the evil others have done before him.”

“Convenient, that logic. May it serve you well for what must be done now.”

“Done?”

“The fairies are efficient interrogators. We know too much to be left behind.”

“I can’t free you without compromising everything.”

They’d said nothing. Then he’d understood. They hadn’t expected rescue. Their king had spent their lives to send him this message. Their blood just hadn’t yet been spilled.

He’d gripped the hilt of his sword, as if to fend off the expectation. “No.”

“Consider it a tithe. Each shall pay the levy for hope; we our futures, and you, the dregs of your honor.”

Simith shook himself loose from thoughts of what happened after that. He plunged his hands into the icy stream and scrubbed them hard.

Rimthea would have refused, he was sure of it. She’d have found a way to free them and still meet the troll king. But she was gone; her sharp mind gone with her, leaving him with only the awful memory of their last words, and the promise he’d sworn with her lifeless hand in his. His own hands went still beneath the water.

In the stream’s darkening reflection, the cloak of souls winked with the first starlight of evening. Simith didn’t turn his face to the sky. He had no wish to meet the eyes of the beloved dead gazing down at him. Their glimmering light felt like a reprimand.

“I’m doing my best, Rim,” he told the stars’ reflection. “Miserable as that is.”

We should be doing this together. How could you get yourself killed?

He made the mistake of meeting his own gaze in the water. Nightfall had blackened his brown eyes and woven shadows through his tawny hair. His pale face stared back at him, as empty as a vacant mask. He didn’t look like himself—not the legion’s version of him, nor the one he hoped survived somewhere deep within. This person was someone else entirely. A stranger.

Simith stood. He sheathed his sword and headed toward camp to ready himself to depart. The stream had left his fingers stiff with cold. He coiled them into his fists, though he doubted there was enough warmth left in him to chase the chill away.

***

Want more?

Add In the Jaded Grove to Goodreads

Order In the Jaded Grove and get a free swag pack of goodies!

Details HERE

WE DID IT!! And another chance at swag :)

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The literary campaign I launched TWO DAYS AGO for the in-class library project of an eighth grade middle school in Michigan has been fully funded!!

I’M ABSOLUTELY ECSTATIC *happy dances*

Thank you to everyone who boosted and contributed, I’m so happy about this ♥♥♥ The screenshots sent my to google form show most people donated more than $5 – honestly, book folks are amazing.

Another Chance at the Swag Pack

The quick success of the campaign also means that I have some leftover swag packs. I’m giving them away to anyone who either:

  • Orders a copy of “In the Jaded Grove”: amzn.to/3s65JWIOR – Suggests it as a purchase to their library
  • Then fill out the updated Google Form
  • And that’s it 🙂

This is still open internationally!

I’ll be giving these away until I either run out or until the end of April, whichever comes first.

Thank you again, kind friends! I’m so thrilled we did this together!

Reminder: The Swag Pack includes:

  • A 5×7 “In the Jaded Grove” Art Print (Exclusive design by Dreamy&Co)
  • 2 Bookish Stickers
  • 1 Double-Sided Bookmark
  • 1 Signed Author Bookplate

And the book!

Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of conflict between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Hoping to secure a ceasefire, Simith arranges a meeting with the troll king—and is ambushed instead. Escape lies in the Jaded Grove, but the trees of the ancient Fae woodland aren’t what they seem, and in place of sanctuary, Simith tumbles through a doorway to another world.

Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm in Skylark, Michigan, Jessa runs into a battle between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel. Only the blood is very real. When a lone fighter falls to his attackers, Jessa intervenes. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but an act of kindness leads to consequences even a poet like her couldn’t imagine.

With their fates bound by magic, Simith and Jessa must keep the strife of his world from spilling into hers—except the war isn’t what it appears and neither are their enemies. Countless lives depend on whether they can face the truths of their pasts and untangle the web of lies around them. But grief casts long shadows, and even their deepening bond may not be enough to save them from its reach.

Note: All stories in the Kindred Realms series are written as standalone books and can be read in any order.

Grab your copy on Amazon & add it on Goodreads

New Book Release & Exclusive Goodies!

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*******UPDATE! Interested in the preorder giveaway for IN THE JADED GROVE? Details HERE Open Internationally!********

Early 2020, I was a part of an anthology which featured a standalone portal fantasy novel I wrote. I got the rights back for it in December (yay!). The organizers had a word count maximum I had to abide by at the time, which limited some of my worldbuilding. I’m happy to report, now that it’s back in my hands, I’ve expanded the book, gave it another round of revisions, a new title, and a gorgeous new cover!

Cover illustration by the amazing Jenny Zemanek!

The book is available for preorder right now!

Release April 15th!

You can grab your copy here on Amazon


About the book:

Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of conflict between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Hoping to secure a ceasefire, Simith arranges a meeting with the troll king—and is ambushed instead. Escape lies in the Jaded Grove, but the trees of the ancient Fae woodland aren’t what they seem, and in place of sanctuary, Simith tumbles through a doorway to another world.

Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm in Skylark, Michigan, Jessa runs into a battle between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel. Only the blood is very real. When a lone fighter falls to his attackers, Jessa intervenes. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but an act of kindness leads to consequences even a poet like her couldn’t imagine.

With their fates bound by magic, Simith and Jessa must keep the strife of his world from spilling into hers—except the war isn’t what it appears and neither are their enemies. Countless lives depend on whether they can face the truths of their pasts and untangle the web of lies around them. But grief casts long shadows, and even their deepening bond may not be enough to save them from its reach.

Note: All stories in the Kindred Realms series are written as standalone books and can be read in any order.

Amazon & Goodreads

A Classroom Library Campaign

*******UPDATE! The project has been fully funded (woo hoooo!) but you still have a chance to get one of the swag packs. Details HERE********

In celebration of the release, I’ve set up exclusive gifts for you! But I’m doing something different this time because the world has been awful, so let’s accomplish some good together ♥

This is open internationally!

First, the goodies:

  • A 5×7 “In the Jaded Grove” Art Print (Exclusive design by Dreamy&Co)
  • 2 Bookish Stickers
  • 1 Double-Sided Bookmark
  • 1 Signed Author Bookplate

How can you get a swag pack?

You are not required to buy the book

(though obviously that’s allowed lol)

I’m asking you to help me fund the 8th grade classroom library for a Michigan public school teacher.

You all know how important reading is. This English teacher uses her classroom to inspire the kids to read for fun and has set up a campaign via Donors Choose (a secure site and not-for-profit corp) to buy new books for the in-class library.

What to do:

  • Donate $5.00 (five dollars) to this project via Donors Choose HERE
  • Fill out THIS GOOGLE FORM
  • And that’s it! Easy peasy!
Mrs. Medendorp’s 8th Grade Classroom

From the Donors Choose website:
“Homework That Will Change Your Life – Reading for Fun!

“Help me give my students high-interest books to motivate them to do their only homework, reading a chosen novel!

“My Project

From the first day of school, my students know that their only homework in my class is to read a chosen novel for at least twenty minutes each night. With pandemic stress, family obligations, social lives, and homework in their other courses, students honestly have a hard time setting aside reading time; therefore, it is imperative that I create that time for them.”

Read more at Donors Choose: https://bit.ly/3aGBka5

She only needs $346 to fund her project.

Together, I know we can do this!

If you’re in a place to contribute, I hope you will. It’s been a dark year, especially for kids. Let’s add a little light where we can – and reward yourself with some bookish goodies at the same time!

Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

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All of you know my big, fangirling love for Intisar Khanani’s books, including her novel “Thorn” which came out last march (read it! read it! read it!!!).

And now “Brambles“, the prequel novelette, is slated for release on December 7th on eBook and Audio (same voice actor who did Thorn, woo hoo!)!

Check out the gorgeous cover below, another work of art by Jenny Zemanek:

In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.

Add it to Goodreads!

I got to read a copy of Brambles early and it really is an amazing story about the choices we make and how these choices have the power to redirect one’s entire life.

And now…

The Giveaway!

To celebrate the novelette’s upcoming release you can enter to win $20 of books from The Book Depository! This giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships and is FREE to enter.

Click HERE to go to Rafflecopter, or head over to the giveaway page on Intisar Khanani’s website

THE GIVEAWAY ENDS IN TWO DAYS SO ENTER TODAY!!

An excerpt from the book:

“I’ve got a secret,” Valka says, stepping up beside me. We stand at the edge of the roughly cobbled courtyard before the hall, mud sticking to our boots and our cloaks flapping in the chill spring breeze.

The last of this morning’s departing carriages rolls toward the gates. Edlyna nods regally through the carriage window at us.

“Wouldn’t you like to know it?” Valka presses.

I glance helplessly around, as if someone might appear to rescue me. But of course, Valka has timed her approach perfectly: Mother has already departed with her coterie of vassals, and my brother hasn’t bothered to come at all. There are a few other nobles who have yet to leave for their lands for the summer, including Maralinde. But, along with the rest, she’s busy packing. Unlike Valka, unfortunately.

“If it’s a secret, you shouldn’t tell anyone,” I say, shifting uneasily.

“You’re such a mouse, Alyrra.” Valka gives a sweet, tinkling little laugh. The sound of it makes my skin prickle. I’ve heard that laugh enough times now to know that what she has to share will hardly be innocent.

The Theft of Sunlight (and a giveaway!)

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Today I’m thrilled to show you all the cover reveal for “The Theft of Sunlight”.  An incredible YA fantasy written by Intisar Khanani – a dear friend and an amazing author – this is without a doubt one of my favorite stories (the world! the characters! BREN FOREVER!!)

But first, the cover……

TheftofSunlight - Final Cover 6.4.20

Cover Artist: Jenny Zemanek

The Synopsis:

I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away if I can make a difference.

Children have been disappearing from Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her best friend’s sister disappears, Rae knows she can’t stay silent any longer. She finds the chance to make a difference in an invitation to the palace. But Rae struggles to fit in with the lords and ladies of the court. Instead, she finds unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges thief named Bren who always seems to have her best interests at heart. Soon even Bren can’t help her, and Rae must risk her life and well-being to face an evil that lurks in the shadows of the darkest hearts.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?? You’re gonna want to add this to your Goodreads shelf. Book 1 in a duology in the “Dauntless Path” world, “The Theft of Sunlight release is slated for March 23, 2021 by Harper Teen (US/CA), Hot Key (UK)

The Giveaway:

In celebration of the cover reveal, there’s an awesome giveaway prize – FREE to enter. Head over to the Rafflecopter entry page (or the author’s website) for a chance to win $25 of books from The Book Depository (open to folks anywhere The Book Depository ships, winner chooses the books, yay!).

The Excerpt

Read on for a sneak peek from the book!

***

I wait, listening for the sound of someone entering the house. Anything to indicate I need to hide what Niya’s doing. I can hear a woman calling to her children somewhere in the distance, and the general sounds of the town: a wagon creaking its way down the road, chickens clucking in someone’s backyard, and, faintly, people calling Seri’s name. I swallow and glance back at Niya.

She looks up. “It’s not working. I don’t know if it’s me or . . .”

“Here,” I say, catching the end of one of my braids. “Try my hair. See if that works.”

Niya takes the bit of hair I snap off and bends over her bowl again. I grip my skirt with my fists and hope, hope that it’s Niya’s magic that isn’t working, and not . . . not that Seri is truly beyond our reach.

“It’s working,” Niya says, her voice flat. I look down to see the leaf has turned, the silver needle glinting brighter than it should as it points straight toward me.

I raise my eyes to Niya’s. Seri isn’t just missing. She’s somewhere even magic can’t find her.

She’s been snatched.

***

If you’d like to read more about Rae, she stars in The Bone Knife, a short story found at the end of “Thorn”, another book in the Dauntless Path world – which is on sale for only 2.99 right now! I’ve read it and it’s a gorgeous fairy tale retelling of The Goose Girl that I’ve reread at least twice.

Grab a copy before the sale ends! and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

About The Author

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. Intisar used to write grants and develop projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Cover Reveal Giveaway – Ends Today!!

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I’ve been dying to show you all the cover for Between Savage Tides, the sequel to Beneath Cruel Fathoms, designed again by the incomparable Jenny Zemanak of Seedlings Design Studio.

Take a look!!

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I’m so excited about this cover!! It’s absolutely perfect and I’m IN LOVE ♥♥♥

Currently, there’s no pre-order link, but you can add the book to your Goodreads list HERE. With the pandemic still in full force, I’m holding off on setting up the preorder until closer to release date – planned for August 31, yay! I’ll let you know when the buy link is ready to go.

However, I am celebrating this gorgeous new cover with…

A GIVEAWAY!!

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This ends at midnight central-standard-time of Wednesday, June 17 (so, by the end of today)

FREE TO ENTER – international entries welcome

The Prizes:
Silver Glow-in-the-Dark Dolphin Bookmark
Red Sirens Book Sleeve
Signed Paperback Copy of Book One – Beneath Cruel Fathoms

I’m so sorry about the quick deadline. I intended to post this sooner but my brains have been really scattered with all that’s happening. The good news? Whoever wins will get their prizes really quick 😉

Click HERE to enter and good luck!

Book Release, Sale, and A Giveaway!

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Awesome book news coming your way!

Last month, the first book in the fantasy anthology trilogy I’m a part of released, and it’s currently ON SALE for only 99¢ for a limited time.

What’s the anthology about?

In a word: ** MAGIC **

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No matter the world, life can be dangerous. Be they wizards and shamans, assassins, or everyday people, Hidden Magic tells their stories about escape, consequences, and most of all, magic.

From Earth cities and fantastical new worlds comes a collection of stories where heroes grapple with the seen and unseen in order to save themselves, their families, and often the world.

Fans of Patricia Briggs and Tamsyn Muir will love Hidden Magic!

The book is only 99¢ via a Kindle Countdown sale for another couple of days. Grab your copy before it goes back to 2.99! It’s also on Kindle Unlimited and includes my story “A Veil is Parted”

You can read Chapter One HERE.

And because these anthologies are rapid release, you can grab the sequel right now!! Wayward Magic just became available April 14th on Amazon & Kindle Unlimited.

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Along with the continuation of 19 other fantasy stories, it includes my sequel “When Day Fades Into Night

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Grab Hidden Magic for 99¢ and Wayward Magic to binge read a fantasy set that’s already picked up loads of five-star-reviewreviews from readers!

What about that giveaway?

Celebrate the launch of Wayward Magic by entering up to FOUR times for a chance to win an awesome prize pack.

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The Prize Pack Includes:

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • One Bookish Tote Bag
  • Pack of Four Bookmarks
  • An Enamel Unicorn Pin
  • A Sparkly Pencil/Pen Bag
  • One Wand Pen
  • A 5″ x 7″ Fantasy Art Print

This giveaway is FREE to enter between now and midnight April 19th (so you have through the 18th to enter – Only TWO DAYS LEFT!).

No pre-order is required. International entries welcome! Don’t miss out. Enter the giveaway today!

Hidden Magic Is Out!!

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I’m super excited to announce that my newest fantasy story, along with the works of 19 other amazing authors, is now available on Amazon for 99¢ & Kindle Unlimited!

Hidden Magic released on March 10th and is already #1 in one of its Amazon categories and hit #1 in Hot New Releases.

** Read Chapter One from my novella below **

What makes this anthology special?

This is the start of a trilogy of fantasy anthologies unlike anything you’ve seen before. The project required each author to write 3 interconnected novellas, like installments in a TV show, that make a complete story by the end – That’s 20 complete stories!

These are set to rapid release (March, April, May), so you won’t have to wait long for the next installments.

As promised, below is all of Chapter One from my novella: A Veil Is Parted – available exclusively in Hidden Magic

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The synopsis:

Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of battle between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Meeting with the troll king in secret is the only hope for a ceasefire. When the trolls ambush him instead, Simith flees through a doorway hidden by magic into another world. Wounded, he’ll need to defeat his pursuers and get home before anyone realizes he’s gone. If his commanders find out what he’s been up to, the trolls will be the least of his worries.

In Skylark, Michigan, Jessa leaves a party after some devastating news. Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm, she runs into a fight between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel – only the blood is very real. When one of them falls to his attackers, Jessa decides to intervene. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but what does a poet like her know about fighting? As their weapons turn against her, Jessa realizes how much she stands to lose, even for someone who’s already lost everything.

***

CHAPTER ONE

The arrow took Simith in the back.

It punched through his left wing and lodged itself below his shoulder blade. Flitting between the trees on his way to the meeting place, he almost lost his hold on the next branch as pain exploded across his body. He scrambled for cover amid the foliage, swallowing his pained gasps, but leaves were sparse at this spot in the Jaded Grove. He didn’t find it in time.

The second arrow drove through his right wing, ripping the aft membrane, but he was fortunate. The arrowhead only split the leathers by his ribs. He found a nest of twisted branches and crouched behind them, trying to quiet his ragged breath—trying to think. He’d made certain he wasn’t followed when he left camp. No one saw him depart and he hadn’t dared tell anyone his plans, not his fellow knights and certainly not the Helms. Who was attacking him?

The arrowhead burned in his back. With sinking dread, he noted the numbness in his left arm. Iron. It was made of iron, which meant his magic was inhibited and he couldn’t heal the wound. Simith pressed his brow to the black bark. Only one creature could wield iron without poisoning themselves. He clunked his head against the wood, cursing himself. Of course, the trolls would ambush him. They had no reason to believe his appeal for a truce was in earnest, not from a knight who’d butchered more of their kind than any other. What better way to kill him off than when he was alone, on a mission no one knew about?

Hollow disappointment blended with his fury. He wasn’t sure whether it came by their blatant betrayal, or that he’d failed to make Rim’s dream come true. What did it matter? He’d been a fool. He was a fighter, not a peacemaker, and the dead buried their dreams in the ground along with their broken flesh.

Maybe soon, he’d be buried along with them.

Simith’s keen ears picked up on the whisper of footfalls over the mossy earth below. He could no longer fly and he couldn’t outrun them. He had his knives though, and his crystal blade. If he could wield it. He folded his limbs closer, shielding as much of his body as possible behind the wood. The muted green of his leathers should’ve camouflaged him, though night had fallen hours ago. The shadows were more friend to trolls than pixies. Their arrows couldn’t pierce these enchanted trees at least. Simith might have been a fool to trust them, but he hadn’t chosen the Jaded Grove as the meeting place by happenstance.

“Little Moth,” a gravelly voice called from below. “Your flight is done.”

“You’re not that precise with your bow,” he called back. “A sprite has better aim than your kind.”

“The scent of your blood is as sweet as sugar, pixie,” came another’s eager chortle. “Come down and tarry with us a while.”

“Join me up here and I’ll tarry all you want.”

Silence followed. Only stone welcomed the touch of a troll. No tree would abide them. He’d witnessed it before, the way the bark groaned in warning and the branches trembled with outrage before the wood shook them off like a tick. The roots would draw themselves from the soil to squeeze throats and ribcages. The Fae of the former Seelie and Unseelie courts had made sentinels of the forests that ringed their respective domains. Even a century after the destruction of their race, the Fae’s powerful influence lingered in the green world.

It might’ve been the certainty of this power that slowed Simith’s reaction to the snapping of twigs and the scrape of boots against the tree trunk. They couldn’t be climbing up, he assured himself. He’d have felt the rising ire through the bark. A trick, then, to lure him from cover.

Simith risked a glance. Eyes glowed up from the lower branches, yellow witchlights in the gloom moving steadily closer. He gaped down at them in astonishment.

“Impossible,” he whispered.

The brush of air whizzed by his face before he felt the skin split high on his cheekbone. Simith reacted on instinct, hurling a silver blade at the encroaching eye shine. One winked out. A scream rent the quiet grove and a body crashed to the ground. He counted four more pairs of eyes, their stout forms a shadowed outline in the darkness. None of them watched their comrade’s demise, gazes fixed upward on him. They continued to climb.

Simith did the same. Magic, he decided, gritting his teeth as he clambered toward higher branches, the iron arrowhead scraping against his shoulder blade. They must have procured a conduit through which to funnel their magic in a way that the trees didn’t recognize them as trolls. He didn’t know that was possible. Every conduit had a particular signature that marked its user. Sprites typically used a crown of roan berries, the hobgoblins steel piercings they wore on their skin, the boggarts the bones of their first kill. A conduit could not simply be swapped for another. They became as near and familiar as a limb.

Could they be using power without a conduit? Simith dismissed the notion out of hand. To draw raw magic into oneself was as lethal as swallowing flames. Only the immortal Fae had been capable of wielding it, their very blood fabled to be made of the same elements. Even the fairies, their cousin race, had to use conduits.

Yet, he couldn’t refute the quick sounds of pursuit behind him. None of this made sense. For now, it didn’t have to. For now, he simply had to escape, get back to the Thistle Court and confess to his commanders his foolhardy attempt to forge an accord with the trolls—and hope the fairies wouldn’t see it as treason.

Escape first, he ordered himself, noting with some worry that his mind was growing unorganized. It had to be the iron still lodged in his body. He didn’t have time to stop and remove the arrows. He wasn’t moving fast enough either; they were closing in on him. If he could leap to another tree, it might impede their chase. They’d managed to climb this one, but the ground-loving trolls weren’t as experienced moving between tree tops as he.

Simith found his chance in a tangle of branches that led away from the trunk he climbed. He followed them, barely as wide as his calf, but sturdy enough to bear his weight. With any luck, it would snap under the much heavier trolls should they dare to follow.

Working his way across in a crouch, he was halfway to the neighboring tree when a third arrow struck him. It plunged through his sword arm, just above the elbow. Simith couldn’t silence the hoarse cry. His foot slipped, slamming him chest-first into the solid wood. He threw another knife, a mere guess at the direction the arrow had come, barely clinging on with his legs. He heard a troll curse, but knew he’d hit nothing vital. The distraction bought him enough time to struggle the rest of the distance and put the trunk between them.

“Where is your famed battle lust now, Sun Fury?” one of them mocked. “We thought there’d be a better fight than this.”

Hazy with pain, Simith hadn’t the breath to pretend at bravado, his hands shaking, his skin soaked in blood.

The branches he’d used to cross trembled with the weight of another crossing. His heart sank. How were they doing this?

Simith dragged himself up and climbed anew. Slower than before. They must’ve heard his graceless movements. Triumphant snickers filled the night air.

“Why do this?” he called down, grasping at the frail hope of parlay. “My intention to discuss peace was in earnest.”

“Safer to trust a boggart with a newborn babe than to allow you near our king.”

He gritted his teeth. “Your army is on the brink of collapse. The fairies will send their legions to rout what’s left of it and march toward your homes.”

No reply.

“You’re making a mistake,” he shouted.

“It’s too late for peace.”

He said no more, cold despair settling on his feverish skin. Rim’s last words to him sounded in his head.

Don’t let the blade wield you, Sim. It’s your hand on the hilt. Your choice. Your will.

But she was wrong. Violence had wrung all choice from him. Even under a banner of peace, his enemies saw him as only a weapon.

Those same enemies crossed from the first tree to this one more expertly than he would’ve expected of a troll. The branches somehow held their substantial weight. Simith drew a steadying breath and prepared himself. Though he likely deserved it, he refused to be felled like an injured bird. He gripped his crystal blade, not yet drawing it. His magic would light the darkness like a blinding ray of dawn. They might know his position and scent his blood on the air, but he doubted they expected him to turn and fight, not after he’d already fled so far.

A tremor beneath his feet pulled his attention to the branch on which he knelt. He frowned at it, wondering if he’d imagined the wood had stirred. He bit back a sound of surprise when the bark under his palm did the same. It rippled, a vibration that travelled up his fingers and down the bones of his hand. As if it beckoned him. He put his cheek to its rough skin, and listened.

Climb, it murmured into his ear. Up. Now.

Simith released his sword, summoned what strength he had, and obeyed. The Fae had taught their trees to speak, though they rarely did. Until this moment which he’d thought his last, he’d never experienced it before. And he didn’t believe in serendipity. With clumsy arms and shaking legs, he pulled himself slowly and unsteadily upward, knowing all the while that he likely climbed toward a dead end. Toward death. The sentinels of the Jaded Grove were known to be tall enough their branches could block the midday sun in some areas, but once he arrived at the top, it was over.

Still, he continued without hesitation, the tree murmuring at him all the while; Higher. Higher. Go. Sounds of pursuit came from below, though blessedly, no more arrows. The branches grew dense here, weaving between each other in the complicated patterns of the green world. Perhaps they didn’t think they could aim for him clearly. Perhaps they needed to concentrate on their hand and footholds this high up. Or—the more likely reason—they saw no need to put in the extra effort when eventually they’d catch up to—

His head collided with something solid. Startled, he jerked down a pace, staring upward in confusion. He could see nothing. That, in itself seemed odd. No sky, no stars. Not even the shadowy outline of branches leading on. He lifted a hand, wincing with the movement, and his fingers brushed against a wide, smooth surface. Pressing the whole of his palm against it, he swept outward, trying to locate the edge. Could it be a knotty shelf grown out of the tree?

It didn’t feel like wood. It was soft, and gave when he pressed in, bits of it breaking off to scatter over his face in a gritty rainfall. Dirt? He rubbed it between his fingers. The texture held that of soil. How could that be?

Up, up, up, the tree chanted again.

Branches creaked somewhere farther down. His pursuers approached. Simith skimmed his hands across the silty surface, but he found nothing. No edge. No hole. Nothing to get him past this barrier.

Higher. Climb. Climb!

Not knowing what else to do, Simith burrowed his fingers into the cool surface and gouged out a palm-full of…yes, it was dirt. He tossed it away, delving back in again and again as a hole formed above him. His arm and shoulder became a thundering agony greying his vision, but he could’ve sworn light came through the thinning layers. If he could just get to the top of them—

His hands broke through. An avalanche of dirt fell with it and he turned his head to the side just before he caught a face full of it. Irritated grunts came from below. The trolls had come close enough to be hit by some of that. Hopefully, it gave them pause while Simith frantically dug along the sides to widen the hole enough for his lithe frame. A dim glow filtered its way to him, a breeze whispering past the opening with unfamiliar scents. It didn’t matter where this led. The priority was escape and this was the only one.

He reached for it. His hands found purchase on either side. With fresh blood pulsing from his wounds, he hoisted himself through.

And found himself on the ground.

He gawked at the grass under him, at the solid weight of the green floor. His thoughts couldn’t cobble any sort of logic together to explain it. Simith got his knees under him, trying to gain his bearings. Above him, he glimpsed the stars, a sliver of moon suspended in the sky like a ready scythe. He was no longer in the forest. What magic brought him here? Had he, in his desperation, unwittingly used his own? He touched his chest, his conduit hidden beneath the leathers he wore, but felt no tell-tale heat. If magic had done this, it hadn’t come from him.

He looked behind him and stared at the hole in the ground. A hole he’d carved with his own hands at the top of a tree in the Jaded Grove, a hole that led to…Where? Even the air smelled different.

He glanced around him, but what he saw only disoriented him further. Rows and rows of sunflowers, planted in organized lines like crops. A warm breeze moved between them, shifting them so their round heads waved in greeting. In the distance he heard something. Music. Drums, but unlike any he’d known before. A battle nearby? In a field of sunflowers?

“Where am I?” Simith whispered, just as a hand grabbed his leg.

***

What other stories will you find in the anthology?

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No matter the world, life can be dangerous. Be they wizards and shamans, assassins, or everyday people, Hidden Magic tells their stories about escape, consequences, and most of all, magic. From Earth cities and fantastical new worlds comes a collection of stories where heroes grapple with the seen and unseen in order to save themselves, their families, and often the world. This collection features:

  • Elderly antiques experts interacting with souls
  • Shamans growing outlawed magic
  • Baby chimeras battling for their lives
  • Children sprouting fluffy tails
  • A king’s boat thrown off-course
  • A perfect life coming at a not-so-perfect cost
  • Vikings defending a village against the unseen
  • A lone shifter atoning for his past mistakes
  • Trolls and pixies tumbling through the doorway to another world
  • And more!

The book will only be 99¢ on Amazon for a little while longer, so grab your copy quick!! – Or download via Kindle Unlimited!

Get To Know…

Magical Mayhem Press

Jessa Dimaandal from Skylark, Michigan, an award-winning poet who can’t write poetry anymore, not since what happened eighteen months ago. Below is the final verse she penned before her creative heart went dark.

Find out more about Jessa and the pixie knight she meets battling for his life by grabbing your copy ofHidden Magictoday!

What’s Jessa’s story, “A Veil is Parted,” about?

Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war.

After years of battle between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace.

Meeting with the troll king in secret is the only hope for a ceasefire. When the trolls ambush him instead, Simith flees through a doorway hidden by magic into another world.

Wounded, he’ll need to defeat his pursuers and get home before anyone realizes he’s gone. If his commanders find out what he’s been up to…

View original post 112 more words

So…I’ve been plagiarized

In April of 2018, I published a flash fiction piece on Daily Science Fiction, an awesome site that posts quick stories for Sci-Fi fans every single day. They also pay the writers who submit, which is hard to find for flash fiction these days, and I was incredibly proud to have my story accepted by their editors.

So, you can imagine how it sucks to see it copied. A dear friend of mine gave me a heads up, and I reviewed both stories just in case it might have been a mistake of familiarity, and not actual plagiarism. But, yeah, it is. The writer added more words in, but the sequence of events, some turns of phrase, and the twist at the end (even the final quote) is pirated. No, it’s not word-for-word, but plagiarism takes different forms, the main crux being “to steal and pass off ideas or words of another as one’s own”.

If you’d like to have a look for yourself:

My story “The Farewell” can be found HERE 

Today’s story “Departure” can be found HERE

The saddest part of the whole thing is that in the time it took this person to regurgitate my story, they could’ve written their own. Was it a lack of confidence in their own work that led to this? Did they not feel confident an original piece would get accepted, so they went with something that already had been accepted? We all go through those fits of self-doubt, but the worst thing you can do is trade in your integrity for the quick win. It only leads to a loss for everyone involved.