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EXCLUSIVE Flash Fictions & the End of the BLOOD BORNE Blog Tour #Giveaway

 

The Blood Borne tour with Signal Boost Promotions is wrapping up today! In the last few weeks, a handful of bloggers have shared either a guest post from me *or* an exclusive flash fiction piece — and all of them include the tour-wide giveaway. (4 lucky winners will get a $5 Amazon gift card!)

Below are links to every tour stop. You can visit ANY of the posts to take part in the Rafflecopter giveaway for however long the giveaway lasts. (It ends really, really soon!! Like today…in 8 hours!)

Many thanks to all of the bloggers who are on the tour with me! ♥♥♥

•••

 

October 16, 2017 – EXCLUSIVE Flash fiction @ Love Bytes
“Baking Lessons & Gifts”
I haven’t written flash fiction in a very long time (high school?). Certainly I’ve never done one for a story I’d already written, but I’ve been bitten by the inspiration bug after seeing the flash fics from other authors , so… here’s a fun one! This is what happens when Ress gives Adren cir first baking lesson, post-Blood Borne, when they’re in a better position to be happy. Poor kitchen. ^_^

 

October 20, 2017 – EXCLUSIVE Flash fiction @ MM Good Book Reviews
Ghosts
Another flash fiction, this time more solemn. In honour of Samhain (aka Hallowe’en), here’s a look at how things goes down when Ress takes Tash, Adren, and Mayr to the abandoned house that used to belong to their two other brothers-by-choice. It’s a little side-scene takes place during Blood Borne, during one of Tash’s visits to Araveena to check on Adren. I’ve tried not to include too much in the way of spoilers, though I will say that both Nimae and Varen have some significance left to come in the series. *zips mouths shut with great difficulty*

 

 

And in case you missed them, here are the previous guest posts:

 

October 3, 2017 – Guest post @ Queer Sci Fi
The 4 Reasons Why I Write Fantasy
Just what it says: a trip down writer’s lane with the main reasons I love writing fantasy, because I really can’t help myself. I’m such a high fantasy junkie. It’s so vast, so open, so creative and involved. Love, love, love it.

 

October 6, 2017 – Guest post @ The Novel Approach
How Writing Blood Borne Has Helped My Marriage
Something wonderful happened while I was writing Blood Borne: my wife and I touched on something important to her — who she is in terms of gender, and it’s thanks to Adren’s character. Because words and representation matter. Sometimes it just takes the right moment and some random babbling to inspire the most meaningful conversations. ❤

 

October 11, 2017 – Guest post @ Diverse Reader
Building a Fantastical World from Scratch
Here’s a little bit about how I build worlds in what I write, especially since I’m a die-hard high fantasy nerd. This is a super-duper boiled down version of my process, though I’m hoping to write an expanded version and post it here on my site at some point in the future. World-building is so hilariously FUN! I’d love to open that can of very colourful, very epic (gummy)worms. (Did I mention I’m a nerd?)

 

Happy reading!

 

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BLOOD BORNE Blog Tour & #Giveaway with Signal Boost Promotions!

 

Blood Borne is on tour right now with Signal Boost Promotions! Throughout the first few weeks of this month, a handful of bloggers are posting either a guest post from me *or* an exclusive flash fiction piece — and all of them include the tour-wide giveaway. There’s a chance for *4* lucky winners to get a $5 Amazon gift card!

Below are links to every tour stop up to today, and I’ll post again when the last link goes up on the 20th. But you can visit ANY of the posts to take part in the Rafflecopter giveaway! (It ends on October 20/21.)

Many thanks to all of the bloggers who are on the tour with me!   ♥♥♥

•••

 

October 3, 2017 – Guest post @ Queer Sci Fi
The 4 Reasons Why I Write Fantasy
Just what it says: a trip down writer’s lane with the main reasons I love writing fantasy, because I really can’t help myself. I’m such a high fantasy junkie. It’s so vast, so open, so creative and involved. Love, love, love it.

 

October 6, 2017 – Guest post @ The Novel Approach
How Writing Blood Borne Has Helped My Marriage
Something wonderful happened while I was writing Blood Borne: my wife and I touched on something important to her — who she is in terms of gender, and it’s thanks to Adren’s character. Because words and representation matter. Sometimes it just takes the right moment and some random babbling to inspire the most meaningful conversations. ❤

 

October 11, 2017 – Guest post @ Diverse Reader
Building a Fantastical World from Scratch
Here’s a little bit about how I build worlds in what I write, especially since I’m a die-hard high fantasy nerd. This is a super-duper boiled down version of my process, though I’m hoping to write an expanded version and post it here on my site at some point in the future. World-building is so hilariously FUN! I’d love to open that can of very colourful, very epic (gummy)worms. (Did I mention I’m a nerd?)

 

 

And coming up next week…

 

October 16, 2017 – EXCLUSIVE Flash fiction @ Love Bytes
“Baking Lessons & Gifts”
What ensues when Ress gives Adren cir first baking lesson. Poor kitchen. ^_^

 

October 20, 2017 – EXCLUSIVE Flash fiction @ MM Good Book Reviews
Ghosts
Ress takes Tash, Adren, and Mayr to the abandoned house that Varen and Nimae owned… and things take a surprising turn.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

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“The Stark Divide” by J. Scott Coatsworth | Release Day Blitz! #SciFi

 

 

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m thrilled to announce that J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out today — The Stark Divide, book #1 in the Liminal Sky series. Ships, space, earth in turmoil, and more. Check it out! (And show some love for that cover… oooh la la!)

 

 

 

Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Pairing: MM
Series: Liminal Sky (Book One)
Genre: Sci Fi, Space, Gen Ship, Apocalypse, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer

 

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

 

DSP Publications (eBook) | DSP Publications (paperback) | Amazon | iBooks
Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads

 

•••

Excerpt

 

DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.

 

 

 

Author Bio

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

 

Website | Facebook (personal) | Facebook (author page) | Twitter | Goodreads
QueeRomance Ink | Amazon

 

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Some of My Favourite Bi/Pan+ Romance Reads ~~~♥~~~ Happy #BiWeek2017 and #BiVisibilityDay!

 

Happy Bisexual Awareness Week! If you have no idea what it is, visit the GLAAD site to learn about what this week’s all about. Also check out #BiWeek on Twitter to see what others are saying. Today is Celebrate Bisexuality Day / Bi Visibility Day! If you identity as biromantic/bisexual, panromantic/pansexual, fluid, or any type of multi-gender romantic/sexual attraction, this one’s for you. ^_^

This year, I’ve decided to share a list of some of the romance books I love that feature bi/pan+ characters. As someone who identifies as bi/pan, with a partner who also identifies as pan, seeing these characters represented means a heck of a lot. So often we see heterosexual characters at the fore, with homosexuality as the only other option. The books on this list embrace the fact that sexual identity, like gender, is not binary. No one has to be one or the other. Like so much of the world and the rest of the universe, there are spectrums. Mixes. Variety. And it’s more than okay: it’s GREAT. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a significant proportion of our species was actually on the bi+ spectrum — a lot more than we realize — especially considering the amount of diversity in nature, much of which tends to hang out around middle-points as opposed to the extremes.

But enough rambling. Here are some of my favourite books, several of which are also polyamorous… and high fantasy, because that’s my jam.

 

 

The Fantasy Set + An Itty Bitty Pinch of Sci Fi!

 

 

Megan Derr – Tales of the High Court (series)
Bisexual, High fantasy/Fantasy

There are so many of Megan’s books that I adore for reasons^10, but this is a series I wish I could hug. It’s a fantasy-gasm. I’ve had way too many nights of “just one more chapter…” that turned into staying up for hours and hours, followed by sleep and the itch to get back to the book because I must know. They’re a blend of everything I love: personality, relationships of all sorts (romantic, familial, friendship, and more), excellent world-building that spans an entire empire, humour, moments where s%#t hits the fan so bad on top of other fun (and not-so-fun) things, and the covers are drool-worthy. Also, not only does book #3 feature a trans character, one of the best things in the series is the inclusion of all genders without making it a big thing — because being trans or any other gender in their world isn’t an issue. Everyone’s just people

I also appreciate the inclusion (and respectful treatment) of serious issues, notably the abuse Allen suffered in his past (in The High King’s Golden Tongue) and the domestic abuse experienced by Kamir in his previous marriage (in The Heart of the Lost Star). These take characters into places that are terribly honest and very real because of situations that people face in real life (including my partner in her past, which gives these a personal meaning to me). But these characters have strength and they’ve found their way forward. It’s a beautiful thing — just how I love my fantasy, because I’m not really one for fluffy or sugar-coated. Give me conflicted and tough any day.

 

 

Megan DerrThe Harem Master
Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Poly (M/M/M/M/M and F/F/F/F), High fantasy/Fantasy

This was the first book that I read from the Tavamara series and I had no idea what to expect, though the prospect of all the poly was every reason for me to read it.

Whoa. Talk about a book that’s going to stick with me for a lonnnnnng time. Harems that are beautifully represented without it being all about sex. Multiple partners that not only can get along, they protect each other and take care of one another. I truly appreciate how Ihsan and Euren are married but have their own respective harems, and they aren’t at each others throats about any of it. It’s all cool. They all get along. This is a jealousy-free, possession-free zone where the romantic relationships are concerned. And once more, there’s loads of world-building and antics to keep me glued to the page. Also, there’s Kitt. I mean, Demir’s beautiful, and I enjoy the other characters, but I’m a sucker for assassins, especially those who know how to get dirty in all the worst ways and somehow survive to tell. Whenever there’s a scene with Kitt and any of the guys in the harem, I die. Just thunk, gone, stuck on the floor. So I’m twisted, okay?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.M. Valenza – The Zhakieve Chronicles (series)
Bi/pan+, Asexual, High fantasy/Fantasy

As I’ve mentioned above, I’m not usually one for fluffy or sugar-coated fantasy (though I have my moments), and this series is certainly up my alley. More hardcore high fantasy, with some of its own serious world-building — like painstaking, teensy-detailed oriented, and lyrical. The books also have their moments when things are just straight up macabre, but all of that makes them special, unique. Those elements plus the characters the stories revolve around give these books personality. They’re not like other fantasy books, and it’s fantastic. I’m also deeply appreciative of A.M.’s characters — they’re not stereotypical, they’re not always easy to take, and they go through so much on their journeys to grow as people and find their redemption. The main characters experience difficult issues that thousands of people have to deal with: Alexey has to deal with the joys of anxiety and depression (in Alexey Dyed in Red) and in Katerini’s case, there’s PTSD and IED, or Intermittent explosive disorder (in Breakfire’s Glass). These also have personal meanings to me, as anxiety is an issue I have to deal with, while both my father and my partner have been diagnosed with PTSD. These are rich stories with deep souls.

Also, Nikolai and Katerini are just ridonculous together. So are Alexey, Vasiliy, and Porfiry. All of the relationships in these books are incredibly important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sasha L Miller – The Kingdom Curses (series)
Bisexual, High fantasy/Fantasy, Fairy tales

Fairy tales aren’t usually my thing, but I loved these. I think what I love best about them is that while they remind me of traditional fairy tales, such as the callback to Snow White with the magical items and so on, these aren’t retellings. They’re  their own entities with a sprinkle of this, a helping of that, and a spin of something else entirely. One of the most pleasant surprises was finding dwarves and elves thrown into the mix without having any idea they’d be there, and they’re not like the dwarves and elves I’ve seen in The Lord of the Rings or the Shannara series. They had all the familiarity of high fantasy that I know and love with a touch of I-didn’t-expect-that. Both books have their own flavour, with The Heart of the Kingdom being a touch lighter than The Northern Heart. They’re lovely cozy Sunday afternoon reads.

 

 

Sasha L Miller – How Not to Summon Your True Love
Panromantic, Asexual, Urban fantasy

This was fun! It’s an urban fantasy, M/M, not terribly angsty, and it involves a road trip that isn’t quite the road trip from the most epic of epic nightmares, but certainly a road trip from somewhere-you-shouldn’t-be. I totally admit that one of the reasons I immediately bought it was because it featured asexual characters. It’s such a happy read. Cy’s freak outs. Dig’s oh-so-chilled groove later, after the soap and the suds. Plus the cover just says awwwwwkward so perfectly. ^_^

 

 

 

Victoria Zagar – The Best of Both Worlds
Bisexual, Poly (FFM), Science fiction

I loved this book because I really didn’t see a lot of it coming. It kept me wondering and on my toes. It was grimy, gritty, and creative. It was also very wrong and strangely right and just this side of ludicrous sometimes. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, you don’t. Also: poly! And for those who dig alien life and those you-really-wish-you-weren’t-here moments, this might just be up your alley. Warning: It can get a little graphic in the blood department, but it all works.

 

 

 

 

And Now for the Contemporary World…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo Raven – Hot Candy (series)
Bisexual, Poly (FMM)

Fun, sexy, FMM stories. However, they’re not funny, “ha, ha” comedy as the book details might suggest; rather, they’re poly stories with a sense of humour, a lot of sex, and personal issues. They have their sweet moments, and other moments where I’d love to knock the guys over the head. At the end of the day, though, they kept me glued to the page. I got the first book, Candy Boys, just for kicks, especially since I don’t usually love contemporary but I do love a well-told poly relationship, especially when jealousy isn’t a big thing, if it’s a thing at all — because there are poly and/or open relationships that do work. I didn’t know what to expect, though the premise sounded fun. I really couldn’t put it down. I re-read it, too, and fell in love with the relationship.

When I found out there was a second — then a third book with different characters — I one-clicked those faster than I could think. I particularly love the little surprises that come up in Dirty Princes. I’m also grateful for the way these books are written, where they’re more balanced between the MF and MM relationships than other FMM/MMF stories. I’m dying to see a fourth book, no joke. I wants. I wannntsssss.

 

 

Rivka Aarons-Hughes – Mr. March Names the Stars
Panromantic, Asexual, Homoromantic, Trans

This lovely story is M/M, Wiccan, and set at events like the ones my friends go to. There was a very sweet tone to it, plus a moment where I just sat there going “Nooooooo!” I really got this story. And bonus points for Nash, who is black, panromantic, asexual, trans, AND Pagan — he’s a mix of marginalized  on marginalized on marginalized group, and I’m thankful for that, because we need to see more of this representation. YES. YES. YES.

Also, a big thank you to Rivka for writing this, and to LT3 Press for publishing it! I can’t adequately express my gratitude. Way too often, when pagans admit our beliefs or share our ways, we’re laughed at and criticized, ignored and avoided, harassed by people wanting to convert us, and otherwise shoved to the fringes of society because we don’t play inside the monotheistic boundaries of Abrahamic religion. Saying we’re pagan is sometimes the quickest way to kill a conversation, whether we’re Wiccan, Druid, Asatruar/Heathen (Norse pagan), Hellenic Greek, Kemetic (Egyptian pagan), or any of the other polytheistic traditions. So when this book went up for sale, it was an automatic buy for me, and I wasn’t disappointed. Representation MATTERS. ♥

 

 

Zoey Derrick – Books #1, 2, and 3 in 69 Bottles (series)
Bisexual, Poly (MMF)

Okay, I’ll be honest: I didn’t LOVE this series as much as the ones above, partially because how it was written and partially because I find contemporary incredibly boring, especially when it’s about rock stars (like this series) or billionaires or stereotypical bad boys or [enter trendy stereotype here]. But I wanted to mention it anyway because I appreciated it for the fact that, by the end, it became a legit polyamorous relationship *with* family. (Yeah, that’s a spoiler, but it’s difficult not to talk about it without mentioning it.)

I see so many polyamorous/open threesomes, foursomes, and whateversomes, but most of them focus on adults who don’t have kids or don’t plan on having a family together. I’d like to see more poly relationships that have families, showing that yeah, they can raise kids, too, and everyone’s okay. It’s not weird. It’s not bad. It can be done. And that’s where this ends up going, even though most of the books are a lot of sex with relationship stuff thrown in. These books have their moments where everything grooves along. It’s also good to see someone writing a character with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

 

And that’s all for this year. I’m hoping to share more books for next year’s Bi Visibility Day. Have a fabulous day, folks!

 

 

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“Sūnder” by Lexi Ander | Blog Tour & Giveaway!

 

Sūnder book blast

 

Title: Sūnder
Author: Lexi Ander
Series: Darksoul #1
Release Date: September 4th 2017
Word Count: 120,000 words
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow
Categories: Romance / Gay / Paranormal / Urban Fantasy / Futuristic Sci-Fi

 

Sūnder cover

 

BLURB

If Sūnder Alārd was born female he would have been cherished for being faeborn—born with magick—and his birth celebrated. Instead, his L’fÿn mother insisted on his death. Only his Panthrÿn father’s desperate escape through the forest saved him.

With most Chándariāns uneasy in his presence due to rumors he is doomed to become a darksoul, and unlikely to find a mate because of it, Sūnder has nevertheless carved out an honorable existence as a warrior and commander. Serving as a bodyguard and chaperone, Sūnder accompanies the Chándariān prince to the annual mating festival on Earth, and when the prince is injured, he can’t help but be fascinated by the tongue-tied nurse who attends them at the hospital.

At sixteen years of age, Gabriel St. Baptista came home to discover his parents had taken off into space, leaving him behind to look after himself. Gabe never recovered from the unexpected desertion, and keeps everyone at arm’s length to avoid the pain of being abandoned again. However, after meeting Sūnder, Gabe finds himself unable to resist the bond between them and breaks his carefully crafted rules to spend time with the Chándariāns, regardless of the fact that Sūnder will soon leave. Scared by what he feels for Sūnder, Gabe can only hope his heart won’t be too broken when Sūnder returns to Chándaria.

But deceit and treachery surrounds them both, and when Gabe saves Sūnder’s life, it sets off a chain of events that could either tear Gabe and Sūnder apart… or give them both exactly what they want.

 

Find Sūnder on Goodreads

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

 

 

EXCERPT

The bark of the tree he hid behind exploded. Valiant flinched, hunching his shoulders to shield his fragile burden. Splinters lodged in his exposed skin, thankfully leaving the babe unharmed. His energy flagged, but if he pushed himself a little harder he could reach the field where the rest of his knights awaited with the hovercrafts. Panting heavily, he pushed off the tree and ran as fast as he could. If not for the fragile treasure in his arms, Valiant would have taken to the trees where, as a Panthrÿn, he’d make better time. Not that speed mattered. The Jade Forest belonged to the L’fÿns, and they were far more familiar with these woods than he. Instead, he relied on his battle-honed reflexes to keep him ahead of his persistent pursuers.

He ducked and spun left, the next stunner blast missing him as his keen hearing saved him once again. Had his bodyguards all fallen to the L’fÿns of Nellá? He heard people following him but couldn’t risk stopping to verify whether the pursuers were his Panthrÿn knights or L’fÿn. The babe he clutched to his chest had been silent since Valiant picked him up. Had the newborn died, making his precipitous escape through the Jade Forest unnecessary?

Valiant could hardly believe he ran from his wife and her people. L’fÿns were a peaceful race, the arranged marriage between his family and the L’fÿns of Nellá an age-old tradition that had begun with a peace treaty centuries ago. Valiant hadn’t fallen in love with Tālia, but he’d been fond of her and valued her friendship. That she became pregnant within the first season of their nuptials had been a sign from the Gods. On the eve of the birth, they’d left the capital of Wūxbury and traveled to Tālia’s homeland so the babe would be born near the forest, as was L’fÿn tradition.

All had gone well, or so Valiant thought—he’d been pacing anxiously in the hallway—until the child was born and wails of sorrow were raised within Tālia’s chamber. Her attendants burst from the enclosed room, jostling him in their haste to leave. Certain the newborn had passed through the veil—for what else could cause such a commotion?—he rushed into the birthing chamber to… discover the boy alive, whole, seemingly hale, and… on the floor? Alarmed, Valiant bent to pick the child up.

“No, Valiant, don’t touch it,” Tālia choked out, her hand held up beseechingly. Grief ravaged her delicate features, her cheeks painted with silver tears as she lay in the bed, propped up on a mound of lavishly embroidered pillows. Her cornsilk hair was bound high on her head, the loose tendrils plastered to her sweat-slick coral skin attesting to the strain of childbirth.

Ignoring her plea, Valiant lifted the babe, cradling him carefully in his arms as he fought the anger he felt at his son’s treatment. The boy’s unusual gaze caught and held his. Brilliant, royal blue eyes were each red-ringed, the vibrant crimson color matching that of his already thick mane. Like both his Panthrÿn and L’fÿn parents the child was smooth-skinned, but darker than Valiant had expected, considering his mother. Some called L’fÿns “The Golden” because their skin tones were vibrant coral hues and their hair some shade of white, gold, or bronze, although a small portion of the L’fÿn population—dròw—were between a dark gray and deepest black in color. Other than the child’s skin tone, pointed ears, and the slightly tilted angle of his L’fÿn-shaped eyes, the babe’s more prominent features were all Panthrÿn. The retractable claws, rosettes on his torso, ridges down the bridge of his nose, and long tail all favored Valiant’s side of the family.

The inherent power of an alpha emanated from his son, which pleased Valiant mightily, but he also felt something else within the boy, something unexpected. Surprised, he glanced at Tālia, stating proudly, “He has magick.”

Tālia cried harder.

“I don’t understand.” Valiant sensed nothing wrong with the babe, so why were Tālia and her household filled with such sorrow? “Why do you weep so? He is a beautiful child who shall clearly grow into a powerful male.”

“He is faeborn.” Tālia’s voice broke, and she stifled a sob.

Tālia had spoken glowingly of the treasured faeborn children, coddled and spoiled, given everything they wanted. For an L’fÿn dròw to be called faeborn, magick must rest within them at birth. Instead of being born with an L’fÿn’s light-colored hair, faeborn were crowned by brilliant hues found only in nature. These children grew to become healers, druids, or rangers, occupations of great importance because they were the only ones other L’fÿns trusted to broker peace and settle disputes. How was their son’s magick not wondrous?

“This is an incredible thing,” Valiant argued. “How can you be upset at such good fortune?”

Tālia shook her head, her copper eyes glistening with unshed tears. “He is a dròw male. Faeborn should only be female, never male. Faeborn males crave violence, blood, and war. He— It is an abomination. Father shall fetch the High Druid. She will deal with it.”

 

 

 

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About the Author

Lexi Ander

Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

 

Embrace the Rainbow

 

 

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Updates: New WIP, Old WIPs, & a Book That Doesn’t Want to be Edited

Lost: Days in July and August
If you find them, please return to 2017 and turn back the time machine and/or pick me up in the TARDIS. Thanks.

Okay, a bit silly, but these last couple months have been brutal in terms of achieving my To Do list. Basically nothing’s been going as hoped, mostly because I can’t seem to get good enough sleep or rouse enough energy so I can think clearly and critically to get things done. I have spurts of time where I can focus, read, and work, though most of its been stare at screen, curse my blurry mental clarity, watch words blend together into blah-blah-blah, and close the documents before something disastrous happens. Eyes are working, brain is checking out — kind of like after my mom died, though I don’t know what’s triggered this.

Funny enough, this forced downtime has been great for kicking up new story ideas. LIKE I NEEDED MORE. *pulls hair out* To be fair, I’m digging these new things, so really… At least something’s happening?

 

The NEW & Shiny: Rebel Call

A few weeks ago, I was reflecting on gender and sexual orientation in The Republic series. I finally sat down and composed a list of LGBTQA+ characters to see how the rep balanced out across the board, the beginnings of a post I might write one day for a blog tour or post here. The list resulted in a lot of bi and pan characters, several lesbians and gays, a couple aces, and a few trans characters, one of whom is non-binary/genderqueer. It got me thinking that I want to add another NB character so Adren isn’t the only one. I loved exploring Adren’s story in Blood Borne, so I’d like to work with another character who comes from a different background.

/Cue my brain going “OKAY!!!!! I’ll get right on it!”

Next thing I knew, the muses dug into ideas I’d logged for a later book in the series, which includes the appearance of a set of hunters/fugitive recovery agents that are asked for help in handling the Big Problems. I hadn’t named those hunters or anything. I did have an inkling that within the group there’d be a couple hunters (or three) that were involved with each other.

Scratch that inkling — it’s legit now, committed onto paper.

Enter Rebel Call, #5 in the series… because when I offered the book the 7th or 8th spot it said “NOPE”. Actually, the conversation looked like this:

 

Me: Dammit, I didn’t want to add another book to the series. It’s long enough!

Brain: But NB rep… poly…

Me: Yeah, I know, and they’re important. It can go after Touch Unleashed, because that’s heavy on the Goddess-touched.

Brain: Um, no, it can’t. The story is about how these three hooked up. In TU, they’re already together and Severn fawns over them. Check your logic?

Me: *scrunched nose of annoyance* Okay, how about one back–

Brain: No.

Me: How about–

Brain: #5 or I’m walking.

Me: *exasperation* *an overabundance of chocolate* *50+ pages of story notes* Fine, I YIELD.

And so the brain won. Again. I even laid down the first 700 words during the first week of August — SHOCK. It’s the first thing I’ve written since January. :O It felt great to get those words down and be creative again. Since editing doesn’t require the same line of thinking as the writing process, I’ve been feeling the lack. So the book is now officially a WIP and has an outline the length of a novella. There are three main characters in this one: Dawne, Massy, and Geyle.

Dawne is a wounded soul with the urge to be a troublemaker. Not only is he a widower (part of a triad that ended tragically), he’s also been mourning the loss of their son. His days are spent working as a mason and getting from moment to moment, wondering what the point of living really is. Life’s sucked for a while, though he takes a shot at doing something fun: a fancy party known for being frivolous and sexy (what can I say… it’s Midsummer shenanigans).

Enter Massy, the life of that party (and teacher by day). Massy’s just broken up with nir boyfriend and needs happy, so ne gets gussied up to the nines and goes with all the fierceness ne’s got… especially since Massy’s ex is also at the party, with a new lover. To flip the bird at that ex and get over him, Massy really gets into the party, catching the attention of both Dawne and Geyle — who, incidentally, also have a thing for each other. No insta-love here, but definitely an insta-“holy ffff you’re HOT”.  Things happen and then things happen. The morning after turns into the three of them having a lovely breakfast, starting a relationship that becomes something more, especially after Bad Things occur.

That’s where Geyle comes in: the poor guy gets blamed for a murder he didn’t commit, after a life of things he never wants to repeat. Like Dawne and Massy, Geyle’s past includes tragedy, mostly things with his family and his first marriage to a nasty husband. This is the bit that will require trigger warnings for the book: Geyle is a survivor of domestic abuse, and while his husband is long dead, the effects and PTSD remain. This new relationship becomes a big thing for Geyle, opening up new opportunities and a chance to trust. Also important is what happens in the rest of the book, which involves Dawne and Massy saving Geyle from being arrested and catching the person who actually committed the crime. The journey offers Geyle all sorts of things, including a sense of control, significance, and impact he’s never really had. As long as life keeps kicking him, trying to keep him down, he’ll serve that crap back.

There’s so much more to it, but that would take a much longer post. Then again, the outline is like 20,000+ words long. :S

In the end, it’s going to be an M/NB/M romance. It’s also high fantasy with magic, because all three are descendants of the gods: Dawne can manifest objects, Massy is a tracker/seeker and highly intuitive, and Geyle’s magic sorts truth from lie. A happy ending is guaranteed!

I’m really looking forward to writing this. It’s going to get into the messier side of the magical community — the forgotten, the abandoned, and the distanced. All three characters have a deep need to rebel against that community, a calling they don’t fully realize until things fall together among the three of them. None of them believe society can stay as it is, not with things falling apart around them. Separately, they’re at a loss for where to start; together, they can contribute what others won’t.

As with every book in the series, there will be more world-building, more history, and more of everything that makes the republic. That includes digging into things that are considered myth but were real. (It’s one of my absolutely favourite things about fantasy: the chance to dig deep and pull out amazing  stories within the story, exploring fantastical beings and people. I love, love, love making up names, events, abilities, and everything that comes with legends and myths. Case in point: I asked myself “Where did Massy’s bloodline come from?” In less than two hours, I had a chunk of Massy’s family tree figured out, including two consorts in a F/F/M relationship with their Goddess of Wisdom, the epic battles they fought, and a bit about their children, including the daughter that led to Massy’s side of the family. That ancestor is one of eight Witches of War, a powerful and heroic peacemaker, a tough-as-nails shieldkeeper, and she was married to the People’s General, an esteemed leader who was NB just like Massy… leading to Massy’s adoption of the ne/nir pronouns the General used, because those words are a documented part of Massy’s family history.)

I LOVE writing high fantasy.

It’ll also be nice to work with these characters: Dawne’s a bit torn around the edges, Geyle’s filter doesn’t always work, and Massy is all confidence. In terms of comparison, Massy is the opposite of Adren from Blood Borne: Massy knows full well who Massy is, with a positive sense of self-worth and value that won’t be compromised. Where Adren’s story arc was about identity, Massy’s journey is about making nir life matter — about fixing the world instead of participating in the apathy of the Goddess-touched. Massy has the ability to make things better, and that’s what ne intends to do, even if it breaks rules.

 

Old WIPs & What’s Happening

To Live A Dragon is still on my list to write — I really want to finish Soulbound first. I have a crap load of notes written down, needing to be typed. I also started the outline a while ago, enough that I could start on the first chapter if my heads clears.

Hunter and Light from Shadow are being bumped since Rebel Call made itself the firstborn child in that set, which is all about the hunters in law enforcement. Rathen (Hunter) and Kirra (Light from Shadow) will show up in RC, using their fists to make new friends. I have to restructure Rathen’s story, rewrite the outline, and rework the chapters already written. I’m hoping to write these books at roughly the same time, since they’re connected.

Ashsender is also on the back burner, though I’ve got tons of notes for it and started its outline. Most of the hold-up is because of world-building. If the story were just about Eve and Lexx sharing their feelings and being all mopey, I probably would’ve written a portion by now. Unfortunately it’s sci fi in a fictional universe meaning I have to make up everything… name everything… set up galaxies instead of just villages/countries, call their ships something, and their weapons… -_- Basically a lot of work that I’m doing in bits and pieces. So far, I’ve been having a great time making up character names and call signs. It’s also reminding me that I shouldn’t name anything. Considering one guy’s call sign is Clusterf#$k and his best friend is Cockblock Opera… Quick, someone take my keyboard away!

(To be fair, a couple characters in the series have serious call signs. Lexx is “Ashsender”, someone else is “Ghost Maker”, and another is “Despair”, so maybe it’s not all bad?)

 

Soulbound: Out, damned words! Out, I say!

Still editing this beast. It’s down to 138,000 words and slow on the editing, given my lack of (predictable) mental clarity. There’s a long way to go before it’s good enough to send to the publisher. I’m a perfectionist with an A+ in nitpicking and micro-edits.

On the other hand, the extra time means a chance to add extra little bits and fix holes. One of these is more about Priestess Kee, whose personal story hasn’t ended up on the page. There’s a reason she’s tough and has a soft spot for those who need refuge, especially those who are in trouble. I haven’t disclosed much about her, though I want to, being that she’s trans and has a rather close connection with their Goddess of Protection, who is also trans. Since Soulbound includes both Mayr and Tash’s POVs, I can talk more about Kee (and Armamae) from what Tash knows. Actually, this book has plenty of important tidbits about other characters. I just need to edit it without destroying them.

 

… and that’s where things stand. I’m at a point where I feel like starting the new stories all at once, knocking out their first chapters and working with them later. Here’s to hoping my health starts to perk up.

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

 

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“Releasing Chaos” by Lexi Ander | Blog Tour, Giveaway & EXCLUSIVE Flash Fiction Story!

Happy Friday! I’m so happy to introduce today’s post, part of Lexi Ander’s blog tour for her exciting new book, Releasing Chaos, the final book in her Sumeria’s Sons series. I LOVE this series, and I’m shamelessly in love with Ushna and Corey. If you enjoy paranormal romances, shifters, lycans/werewolves, urban fantasy, mythology, and a ton of other stuff — including M/M/M and poly relationships — give this series a go.

Find out more about the book below PLUS a special flash fiction story and a huge giveaway!

 

 

 

Title: Releasing Chaos
Author: Lexi Ander
Series: Sumeria’s Sons #6
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Categories: Gay, Paranormal, Poly, Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 132,000 words
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow

 

 

BLURB

Everything Tristan, Ushna, and Brian have fought for comes down to the moment they face Inanna and Marduk. Before then, Ushna must embrace his destiny and be transformed by Tiamat. But he returns with a fractured mind and will need the help of the new firebird or he’ll be lost to the insanity of a primordial God. If he’s lost, so is the balance Brian and Tristan sorely need.

Tristan has vowed to care for his ex-Flame, Theo Sullivan, who is doomed to forget more and more with each use of his new ability. When not dealing with his stubborn ex, Tristan must free the warriors stolen by the government and devise a trap for Inanna.

And that’s only the start of the challenges, and everything that can still go wrong.

 

Purchase now from the publisher, Less Than Three Press: Order Link

or from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Bookstrand

 

Find Sumeria’s Sons series on Goodreads

 

 

 

EXCERPT

Prologue

~The Nameless

We Nameless had been running hard for many days. Something crawled under our ruff, beckoning us to go southeast. The part of us that was once human cowered in the back of our minds, pleading with us to stay in our dens, but we could not. The pull was strong, and we responded to the urgent need that seeped into our paws from the ground.

Hurry,” The Earth Mother whispered to us.

Months ago, our alpha freed us from the vileness of our human side, locking away the corruption so we could teach our humans the lessons they had either forgotten or were never taught. We shared the joys of running on four paws, of being family, of supporting each other through the hunt. We gave them our love for the land, the sky, the water, and for each other. We showed them how to work together and yet still be individuals. For we were wolf. Hunter. Predator. Mother. Father. Family.

Now as they proclaimed their fear, we would teach them how to stand together, to use their instincts to discern right from wrong. The Earth Mother called us to the alpha’s aid. Though he made us Nameless, he had shown us mercy and set us free. He would forever be our alpha and we his tribe, his people.

As we loped, closing the distance between us and the one who needed us, the Earth Mother pushed healing through our paws, fortifying our energy and curbing our hunger. We stopped briefly alongside a stream to drink our fill before once again we hurried on. The urgency rode us as we ran across fields, through sleepy towns, over grassy plains, and entered foreign woods. We were close now and we hoped we would arrive in time.

As one, we threw our voices into the wind. “We come to stand by your side. To be your shield. To hunt with you and take down your prey. To protect our people. We come, our Alpha, we come.”

*~*~*

~Jory Swaine

I didn’t know what disturbed me from a sound sleep, but an itch between my shoulders forced me from my room to prowl the dark house. For a couple of days now, I’d been sensing… I pushed out the back door, barely catching the screen before it slapped noisily against the frame, waking the whole house.

Before tragedy had taken Tristan away from us for half a year, he’d entrusted into my care the wolf forms of the traitors who’d attempted to murder him. Members of Tribe Uras collaborated with the rogue, Craig Stoiler, and invaded Tristan’s ranch. I would’ve had them killed for their treachery, but Tristan had another idea. He’d stripped the people of their human form, giving their wolf dominion. The demonstration of his power as the supreme alpha and prince of our people proved his lineage to the doubting members of the Council of Five, but there was an additional reason for his action. He’d given them a second chance, of sorts, and ordered some twenty-eight wolves to follow my commands as their handler.

Whatever type of transformation magic Tristan performed had a lasting effect. With the events that had transpired following his return, I didn’t have a chance to relay to him I could still feel those wolves. He’d tied them to me that fate-filled day, not that I was upset. What I sensed of them was harmless, a simple awareness nestled in the back of my mind, telling me their state of being and general welfare… until now.

The stars shone sharp and bright overhead, the sky a virtual blanket of diamonds. The sight still made my breath catch, especially after spending so many years in California cities, where the light was muted. My eyes were drawn to the northwest. The string attaching me to them pulled with their sense of urgency. They were coming. Perhaps it was time to tell Tristan about my relationship with them. Something caused the pack to leave their dens in the Canadian tundra. I wasn’t sure if this sense of urgency coming from them was a portent of good or evil. For Tristan’s sake, I hoped the banished members of Tribe Uras didn’t intend to attack him a second time. I’d grown quite fond of the playfulness of their wolves in the corner of my mind, and I’d hate to be the one who sent them on to their next reincarnation.

 

 

 

 

 

EXCLUSIVE FLASH FICTION STORY

A Note from Lexi Ander:

Thank you for having me on the blog today! Releasing Chaos is the last book in the Sumeria’s Sons series. For the final sendoff, I have put together a series of flash fiction pieces that happen near the end of Dragon’s Eye or in between Dragon’s Eye and Releasing Chaos. These are little on-the-side scenes that don’t have an impact on the plot arc of Sumeria’s Sons so you won’t encounter any spoilers for the final book. This takes place between the end of Dragon’s Eye and the beginning of Releasing Chaos. Enjoy!

 

Birth of a Hippogriff

The frantic scream pulled Justus from a sound sleep. He blinked up at the blanket that made up the fort in Randy’s room. Neoma and Dawn woke as well and they waited, making as little noise as possible as they stretched their hearing out. Where had the sound come from?

The cry came again and Justus realized the noise wasn’t human in nature but made by one of the Shirdals. He crawled out of the fort with Dawn and Neoma following.

“Justus,” Randy rasped from his bed. “Don’t leave this room. Stay with me.” His thin hand stretched out at him and Justus crossed to take it.

Neoma scrambled on top of Stan’s dresser to look out the window. This side of the house faced the horse barns and corral. He waited for his sister to tell him what she saw.

Another frantic cry sounded and Neoma gasped, placing her palm against the glass. “One of the Shirdals is pacing in front of the horse barn.”

Dawn climbed up next to Neoma nearly pressing her face to glass. “Do you think the baby is being born?”

“What baby?” Randy asked, attempting to sit up. Justus rushed to put more pillows behind his back but Randy waved him off.

Neoma answered him, excitement coloring her voice. “Corleone got Dancing Socks pregnant. Uncle Tristan wasn’t happy. He said hippogriffs were dangerous for horses to give birth to and he loves Dancing Socks.”

Dawn made a soft wounded noise. “Someone told him that hippogriffs were unsafe to have around when they grew older. That they would battle the Shirdal.” She glanced over her shoulder, hunching at Corleone’s shriek. “I want to tell him that it isn’t true. I know because I see things and I don’t want to tell what I see. Uttu will scold me again for giving away secrets. Even the smallest ones are dangerous.”

Randy sat on the edge of the bed, breathing as if he’d ran for miles. “Then don’t explain. If Tristan is a smart male, then he’ll believe you without too many questions.”

Corleone shrieked again and Dawn turned to look out the window. “Then I can help, you think?”

“Go,” Randy rasped.

Dawn and Neoma scrambled off the dresser and were out the door in seconds. Justus was torn. Go with them or stay with Randy? “You, too. There’s no need for you to stay. I’m only going back to sleep.”

Justus whined, giving voice to his wolf’s distress.

“Go, I mean it,” Randy said with finality.

Hearing Corleone cry again decided things for Justus. He couldn’t sit around while someone needed help. Sure, Corleone wasn’t what Uncle Tristancalled humanoid, but he was an intelligent creature who called Uncle Tristan friend.

Justus was out of the house and running to catch up to his sisters, surprised to see three Shirdal on the ground. Usually, only Corleone landed in the ranch yard to talk to Tristan and sometimes Randy, Justus had noticed. Warriors lined up three deep, barring Corleone’s access to the horse barn. The Shirdal’s feathered neck was puffed out and his wings spread in an intimidating manner. The two Shirdal with Corleone were clacking their beaks and hissing but Justus didn’t read intimidation from them, only worry and concern. He heard Dancing Socks’s whinnies over Corleone’s protests.

Dawn and Neoma slipped by the warriors without being stopped, the males’ attention taken up by Corleone’s protestations. Justus dodged a couple of the grabbing hands and made the interior of the horse barn without being stopped. He could see Neoma but he heard Dawn’s raised voice.

Outside of Socks’s stall stood Gregori and a couple other Magi with Uncle Ushna and Uncle Brian. When Justus moved by them, he stopped next toNeoma in the stall’s doorway. Dawn argued loudly with Uncle Tristan inside.

“No, she needs Corleone!”

Justus looked into the enclosure as Dancing Socks’s whinnies quieted. Dawn leaned into Socks’s chest, arms around Socks’s drooping neck. Sweat coated Socks’s withers and she was breathing hard.

Uncle Tristan stood near Socks’s rear end, a clear plastic glove fit his hand, going all the way to his shoulder. In his palm was some clear jelly-like goop. He regarded Dawn with a bone-weary gaze. When they’d thought Uncle Tristan died, Dawn spent all her free time with Dancing Socks. She loved Uncle Tristan’s horse as deeply as he did.

“If I let Corleone in—” Uncle Tristan paused when Corleone’s squawk interrupted, sounding like a ‘yes, you fool’. “I don’t know how he’ll react. Besides, there really isn’t enough room for him in here.”

Corleone’s angry bluster got louder. Justuslooked back toward the barn door where Corleone was attempting to push his way through the warriors.

“You don’t understand, Uncle Tristan,” Dawn said, her voice gaining volume. “Dancing Socks is special. We all know of the legendary hate Shirdal have for horses. They usually go out of their way to kill them. Not only have the Shirdal left the ranch horses alone, which you must admit is supremely weird, but Corleone loves Dancing Socks and made her his mate. Shirdal mate for life. He needs to be with her.”

As Justus watched, a couple of warriors fell back from one of Corleone’s forceful shoves. He quit listening to Dawn and rushed back to the entrance. “Stop!” Corleone turned to him and hissed, clacking his sharp, polished beak. He didn’t see the motion as a threat but as one of frustration. “Dawn is in there trying to help you and Socks. If you keep this up, Uncle Tristan will ignore her.”

He jumped when energy poked at him through the soles of his feet. “She needs me… us,” Corleone looked to the Shirdals who accompanied him. “My darling has to give birth near the lake. If my offspring isn’t born near or in water he will die very quickly.”

Justus blinked. Who knew that hippogriffs needed water? He didn’t but there was very little known about them. “Well then, did you tell Uncle Tristan?”

Corleone glanced away, his large yellow-ringed black eyes avoided Justus’s gaze. “Her cries of pain made me lose myself and then I was angry at him for keeping me from her. Socksis mine.” At the last word, Corleone looked into the barn and hissed angrily.

“Well, he is like her daddy, responsible for her, you know,” Justus replied. Corleone tilted his head haughtily and Justus shrugged. “Have a seat and I’ll tell Uncle Tristan.”

Corleone sat, his sleek golden lion’s body was stiff, wings tucked to his sides, and his tail lashing about like a whip. Justus went back to Sock’s stall. Gregori was smiling broadly as Justus returned. Was Gregori laughing at Corleone or Uncle Tristan?

“No,” Uncle Tristan said sharply. “I’m not taking her across to the lake. It’s safe here.”

“But it’s not what she needs.” Dawn didn’t sound like she was going to back down.

Justus stopped next to Neoma, again. Uncle Tristan and Dawn looked like they were locked into what Stan would call a showdown or was it a stalemate?

“Corleone says Socks needs him and the water.” Justus blurted into the continuing silence. When Uncle Tristan gave him anincredulouslook, Justus shrugged and hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “Ask him.”

“I’ve tried but all he’s done is insult me.” Uncle Tristan left the stall still with the goop held in his gloved hand. He stared down the corridor at Corleone. “So you’re talking to me now?” he called.

Justus sensed the energy again but didn’t hear anything from Corleone. Uncle Tristan obviously did. He snorted, “I told you not to—” He frowned.

“Uncle Tristan! We don’t have time for you two to fight!” Dawn yelled from the stall.

Justus hopped out of the way with Neoma following closely when Dawn led Dancing Socks out of the stall.

“Dawn!” Uncle Tristan looked like he was going to throw his hands up but remembered the goop. He hurried back into the stall,returning without the glove.

Corleone pranced upon seeing Dancing Socks and she nickered at him.

“Why am I even allowing her to do this. She’s nine years old for Pete’s sake and has never delivered a foal before. I’vealways assisted in the birth of my stock.” Uncle Tristan murmured to himself as Justus walked next to him.

He tore his gaze away from Corleone meeting Dawn and Socks at the entrance. “Randy said that if you were a smart man you’d listen to Dawn’s advice even though she couldn’t explain how she knows stuff.” Justus grinned at Uncle Tristan’s ‘are you kidding’ expression.

Uncle Tristan pulled at his ponytail. “All right then, let’s go help deliver a baby hippogriff… by the water.”

Neoma ran after Dawn and Justus followed. Gregori and the Magi walked with Uncle Tristan, Uncle Brian, and Uncle Ushna. Gregori was giving Uncle Tristan a hard time about not listening to Dawn.

“She’s nine!” Uncle Tristan protested.

“She’s a seer,” Gregori replied as if to say, ‘you should consider that point first’.

Justus didn’t catch the rest of the conversation so he could catch up to Neoma. “Do you think she’ll be okay? Socks sounds like she’s in a lot of pain,” Neoma asked, taking Justus’s hand.

He had once swiped one of Uncle Tristan’s bestiary books. There was a section on animal birth, with detailed drawings and pictures. It was not something he wanted to explain to his sister, especially when he only understood a part of what he’d read.

“She should be fine,” he hedged, remembering the section on complications. Surely those wouldn’t apply if Socks carried a hippogriff. Mary Jane and Christie both exited the back door of the ranch house. When Neoma looked like she’d ask more questions, he pointed to his mother. “Christie could probably tell you more…” Neoma took off like a shot before Justus quit speaking.

He shrugged and hurried to get around the Shirdals and Dawn. The procession was drawing a crowd by the time they made it to the gate. Justus swung it open for them. Dawn walked on one side of Dancing Socks, the lead held loosely while Corleone kept pace on the other side. Every time Dawn halted at the sounds of one of Socks’s pained whinnies, Corleone plucked at Sock’s mane with his beak. Justus wondered if she was having contractions or perhaps the baby was moving around. He would love to feel it but didn’t believe Corleone would allow him that close. The two other Shirdal with Corleone urged Socks on when it seemed like she wasn’t going to walk without encouragement. Dawn cooed, telling Socks how good she was doing while Corleone made soft noises that Justus hadn’t heard him utter before.

Once they were all through the gate, Justus closed it and moved as close as he dared. Dawn unclipped the lead when they were about six feet from the water’s edge and hurried over to him. Hercheeks were flushed and eyes wide with excitement in the predawn light.

“Not much longer,” she whispered to him, leaning into his side.

The Shirdal surrounded Socks, edging her closer to the water while clacking their beaks. It was hard to see Socks with the Shirdals constantly moving, blocking his sight.

As if reading Justus’s mind, Dawn said, her disappointment clear, ” I can’t see anything.”

Uncle Tristan and Gregori stepped up beside them and he glanced up when Uncle Tristan said, “I can’t either. Can you feel that?”

“Feel what?” Justus responded.

Gregori’s hands were on his hips, a look of concentration on his face as he stared at the Shirdals. Uncle Tristan took Justus’s hand and then Dawn’s. At that simple touch, Justus understood what Uncle Tristan was sensing. “What is that?” Justus asked. It was almost like when Corleone touched him through the earth, but not quite.

“That is magic,” Uncle Tristan replied. “I knew they were a people of magic but I had no idea they could wield it like us. Corleone has never done so in my presence before.”

Justus thought about it, barely catching glimpses of a shimmering, gossamer wall between them and Dancing Socks. She’d reached the water and from what Justus could tell, waded in until her hooves were covered. Corleonesplashed through the water on the opposite side of her.

Tentatively, Justus sent out… he wasn’t sure what part of him, only that it was like he had an extra hand he used to feel the magic the Shirdals gave off. He poked gently, sensing the magic that wasn’t earth but had a gusty quality that reminded Justus of an oncoming storm.

“Their energy is different,” he said as he pulled back. When he looked at Dawn, her expression said this was old news. How much did she really know?

Gregori’s question stole his attention. “What kind of magic?” His tone was like Uttu’s when she was giving them a verbal test to see if they were listening to her.

Justus shrugged, suddenly uncomfortable because magic wasn’t something he usually paid attention to. What if he was wrong? But Gregori only looked curious and not judgmental.

“It feels like air.”

“I thought so, too. Which would make sense. Shirdals are people of the air.”

“Then why the need for water?” Uncle Tristan asked, but it seemed Gregori didn’t have an answer any more than Justus did.

Corleone and the other two Shirdal snapped out their wings at the same time and the sense of air magic flared as they gave excited cries. Justus barely heard Dancing Socks whinny followed by the sound of splashing water. Above them, the morning sky was streaked with reds and golds. Another five Shirdal screamed a joyous call that sent a shiver down Justus’s spine. He’d never seen so many Shirdal flying over head before.

When the magic broke, the Shirdal around Dancing Socks moved aside. The only creature revealed was Socks.

“Where’s the baby?” he asked.

Uncle Tristan didn’t answer, his frown dark and foreboding when he released Justus and Dawn’s hands to storm over to Socks. Justus quickly followed. Dancing Sock’s head hung low as if she was too tired and thinking about laying down right then in the water.

Uncle Tristan’s power was rising. “Corleone!” he called, a bit of fear in his voice that put Justus on edge. “Where is her foal?”

Corleone stood at the edge of the lake, his hawk’s feet clawing the edge muddy as he stared out over the water. Uncle Tristan had once told Justus that the lake had only been there about a year. He’d fought an enemy who’d pulled the ground water to the surface, causing the land to cave, creating the standing body of water that was now spring fed.

In the middle of the lake unnatural waves kicked up. The little hippogriff broke the surface, head and body above the water. Their little wings only had fluffy fledgling feathers that didn’t seem weighed down by the water. How did it get all the way out there? How did it not drown? It’s hawk’s head shook, excess water sloughing off in a shower of droplets. Corleone squawked and the little hippogriff started for the shore. Justus had never seen anything like the hippogriff gliding effortlessly through the water. As if it was born to be a water creature and not the cross between a horse and Shirdal that it was.

When the hippogriff reached the bank, it stumbled and righted itself before both Dancing Socks and Corleone reached it. On dry land, the hippogriff lost its grace and wobbled on four legs much like new born calves did.Like Corleone, it had the head and forelegs of a hawk but the body and tail were equine.

“How is it going to eat?” Justus asked because there was no way the hippogriff could nurse Dancing Socks.

“Look!” Dawn pointed at Corleone who was making a staccato noise. The little hippogriff staggered to him, head tilted back and beak open.

“Eww!” Justus said along with Dawn as Corleone regurgitated food for the new born. “That’s nasty,” Justus said under his breath.

“That’s nature,” Gregori responded with a laugh.

Dancing Socks lifted her head and saw Uncle Tristan. She made her way to him and then pressed her forehead into his chest. Uncle Tristan sang softly and this time Justus could feel the magic without Uncle Tristan touching him, he’d heard the song of rejuvenation before. When Uncle Tristan finished, Dawn hugged Dancing Socks’s neck. They both spoke to Socks, telling her what a beautiful baby she had.

Justus followed Uncle Tristan to get a better look at the hippogriff. “May I meet your offspring?” Uncle Tristan asked Corleone.

Justus didn’t bother trying to hear what Corleone said. His attention only for the foal. Up close it was uglier than Justus first thought. The fledgling feathers were a dull gray-white and the little wings looked like they belonged on a smaller creature. The coat was the same coloring as Dancing Socks with matching white patterns.

Uncle Tristan sang again, running his hands over the hippogriff. Corleone preened looking smug again.

“Is it the beak or do you always look so snooty?” Justus teased and then froze when Corleone’s large yellow-ringed eyes turned on him. Corleone was around the ranch a lot, often sneaking in the barn at night to be near Socks.Sometimes he played with Dawn and Neoma. Justus forgot for a split second that Corleone and he weren’t really friends. At least Justus didn’t think so. His sort-of-rude teasing wasn’t something appreciated by not-really-friends. Heck, the first time that Corleone spoke to him was tonight.

Magic brushed the soles of his feet. “If snooty means handsome, then yes, it’s the regal beak and my beautiful golden plume.”

Justus burst out laughing and then covered his mouth when Uncle Tristan glanced up from inspecting the hippogriff.

“It’s about time you and your sisters went back to bed.” Uncle Tristan stood up.

Justus glanced at the horizon where the sun was barely peaking over the edge as if to say, ‘it’s a little late‘. Instead he asked, “Are we leaving them out here?”

“Me and my warriors will guard them, little wolf. My son will be fine under our care,” Corleone said as he ushered the hippogriff back into the water.

With much protesting, Justus, Neoma, and Dawn were ushered back to the house. Before he fell asleep in the blanket fort, he made plans with his sisters to convince Mary Jane to letthem picnic in the pasture with Dancing Socks and her new baby. He wondered right before sleep caught him, if the hippogriff would take them for a ride when he got older?

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

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