Posted at Jul 12, 2016 9:42 am
Guest Post by Bishop O’Connell
Why an “American” faerie tale?
The Returned is the fourth book in my series, An American Faerie Tale. The obvious question is, why the qualifier? Why an “American” faerie tale? Well, there isn’t much in the way of American myth, or legend, or faerie tales. Yes we have Ichabod Crane and the like, but most of our stories and legends came with the hopeful immigrants who carried them. I want America to have a mythology, a faerie tale that’s all its own. I want to write not “the great American novel,” but “the great American faerie tale.”
To do that, the stories have to reflect America. That means people from other nations should feel something familiar there. Have their own neighborhoods; a little Italy, Chinatown, little Havana, Irish district, or any other cultural neighborhood. Some might be just a block or two, and in this literary world I’ve formed it might be only a few pages, but I hope it’s something that feels like a warm and sincere welcome.
So how do I achieve that familiarity but keep the story “American?” It turns out the two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, they’re one and the same. Just consider this simple phrase: e pluribus unum. Out of many, one. It’s the motto of the United States, and what the phrase embodies is what I love most about it. Originally it might have referred to the many states forming one nation, but I think it has come to mean so much more. It’s a cliché, but this nation really is a melting pot, a nation of immigrants. The United States’ culture is a collection and blending of countless other cultures. Most remarkably, none of them are diminished and the whole is made more with each addition. In short, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
So to be an American faerie tale, I knew that’s what I have to achieve with my series. Each book is a snippet, a piece that adds to the whole. The Stolen, the first book, is set in New England, which has a large Irish influence, so that culture is what I focused on. I’m very proud of my Irish heritage. My family came to this country along with millions of other Irish and Scots, fleeing death during the Potato Famine. So, Celtic culture will continue to influence the series, but in keeping with the larger theme, it will blend into all the others as well. Just like the immigrants themselves did through the generations.
The Forgotten, the second book, is set in Seattle and includes the influence of Russian, German, and Native American mythologies. Three Promises, the third book, is a collection of short stories about characters from the first two books, so reflects both. Additionally, it has a short story about World War II, and the weight of those who fought tirelessly and valiantly, but always felt like could’ve done more.
The Returned, the fourth and latest book is set in New Orleans. There are Cajuns, Creoles, Native Americans, Haitian, French, and African mythologies at play. There is of course another history to the city, one that goes back to the days of slavery, and the implications such a history brings into the modern age. Like our country as a whole, it’s a city of complex history; some beautiful, some shameful. But I tried to capture the spirit of the city, embodied by its residents and best described by their official motto: laissez les bon temps rouler, let the good times roll.
In the natural world, diversity, genetically speaking, is what keeps a species relevant. I think culturally speaking, it’s what has made these United States relevant through history, and why I love it. Across the country there are endless stories and they all have their own magic and wonder. Some are terrifying, some heartbreaking, some beautiful, some truly hysterical, and still others all of the above. They’re told by the young and the old, the privileged and the disenfranchised, the hopeful and hopeless, the dreamers and cynics, those with long histories and those right off the boat. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m indecisive, but I don’t want to choose just one, I want them all! That probably says something about how long this series will continue if I get my way.
I want to write an “American” faerie tale because I want to reflect what I think makes America great. But, to truly be American, it must be a tale blending the cultures and heritages that define its citizenry. Individually we might be Irish American, Scots American, Russian American, Mexican American, African American, Native American, LGBTQ, straight, rich, poor, and countless combinations thereof, but together, we’re just Americans. I hope my series achieves this, but with stories. It might be lofty, but I’ve always believed there is no shame in failing if you’re reaching for the stars.
Bishop O’Connell is the author of the American Faerie Tale series, a consultant, writer, blogger, and lover of kilts and beer, as well as a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Born in Naples Italy while his father was stationed in Sardinia, Bishop grew up in San Diego, CA where he fell in love with the ocean and fish tacos. After wandering the country for work and school (absolutely not because he was in hiding from mind controlling bunnies), he settled Richmond VA, where he writes, collects swords, revels in his immortality as a critically acclaimed “visionary” of the urban fantasy genre, and is regularly chastised for making up things for his bio. He can also be found online at A Quiet Pint (aquietpint.com), where he muses philosophical on life, the universe, and everything, as well as various aspects of writing and the road to getting published.
Blog – https://aquietpint.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBishopOConnell
Twitter – https://twitter.com/BishopMOConnell
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bishopmoconnell/
Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00L74LE4Y
Almost a year after their wedding, and two since their daughter Fiona was rescued from a kidnapping by dark faeries, life has finally settled down for Caitlin and Edward. They maintain a facade of normalcy, but a family being watched over by the fae’s Rogue Court is far from ordinary. Still, it seems the perfect time to go on their long-awaited honeymoon, so they head to New Orleans.
Little do they know, New Orleans is at the center of a territory their Rogue Court guardians hold no sway in, so the Court sends in Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, to watch over them. It’s not long before they discover an otherworldly force is overtaking the city, raising the dead, and they’re drawn into a web of dark magic. At the same time, a secret government agency tasked with protecting the mortal world against the supernatural begins their own investigation of the case. But the culprit may not be the villain everyone expects. Can Wraith, Caitlin, and Edward stop whoever is bringing the vengeful dead back to life before another massacre, and before an innocent is punished for crimes beyond her control?
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Posted at Jun 24, 2016 4:43 pm
Welcome to the Wildlands!
I’m super-thrilled to announce a new series from Harper Voyager. The characters from the Dark Alchemy series have made the jump to print, as NINE OF STARS continues the adventures of Petra and Sig in December! Details are here: http://www.harpervoyagerbooks.com/announcement-digital-to-physical-laura-bickle-makes-her-harper-voyager-print-debut/
More deets will be coming soon, but here’s a teaser for NINE OF STARS:
Winter has always been a deadly season in Temperance, but this time, there’s more to fear than just the cold…
From critically acclaimed author Laura Bickle comes the first novel in the Wildlands series
As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors – especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.
The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill – a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.
It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all – before the trail turns deathly cold.
Posted at Jun 21, 2016 12:01 pm
Back in December, a bunch of Harper Voyager US/UK authors got together on the #SFFchat
hashtag to talk about writing, publishing, and the sci-fi/fantasy genre with aspiring SF/F authors. We had a fantastic discussion (read thehighlights
), so we’re going to do it again.
On Wednesday, June 22nd
at 3pm Eastern and 9pm Eastern, 18 Voyager authors will be answering questions on Twitter under the #SFFchat
hashtag. Each chat will last an hour. We’re also doing a massive giveaway of Voyager e-books and print books, which you can enter using the widget below. All are welcome! Please join us if you want to talk about SF/F and maybe win some free books.
If you’re an author seeking representation or publication, we hope you’ll also join the #SFFpit
Twitter pitching event on Thursday, June 23rd.
And the Voyager authors have started a Facebook group just for SFF fans called SFF Junkies. It’s a new place to hang out and talk SFF books or even writing. You can find it in the rafflecopter or use this link
Posted at Jun 21, 2016 12:58 am
Auston Habershaw’s NO GOOD DEED releases today. Deets for all the awesomeness follow below!
Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.
That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody is playing a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that the person pulling all the strings is none other than the most powerful sorceress in the West: Lyrelle Reldamar.
Tyvian’s own mother.
No Good Deed Excerpt
The main courtroom in Keeper’s Court, Saldor’s hall of justice, had five sides, one for each of the arcane energies that made up the world. The accused stood in the center, chained by the wrist to a large squat stone at the center of the floor. Dull, black, and trapezoidal, “the Block” was so old that the courtroom itself was several centuries its junior. It was said that, in the old days, the condemned would have their heads struck off the moment the verdict was read. Those were primitive times, however—blood was no longer spilled in the Saldorian courts. They had other ways of making the condemned regret their actions. Ways that would not stain the woodwork or upset any children present.
There were four judges for any major trial—one for the Ether, one for the Lumen, one for the Dweomer, and one for the Fey. They each sat in a pulpit that loomed over the Block, as staring down one’s nose at the accused was an ancient custom that even this modern, enlightened age wasn’t keen on abandoning. The fifth pulpit, the Astral one, was occupied by a rotating cast of witnesses, accusers, defenders, and officers bound to present physical evidence to the court. Between these five pulpits and elevated a dozen feet above the floor was the gallery, where citizens of Saldor were encouraged to come and witness their justice system operate. They were even encouraged to bring things to throw sometimes, and jeering was understood as good form. It was surprising, honestly, the frequency with which persons present could shed illumination on a matter with a simple threat or insult, whether by prompting the accused into a rash reply or bringing new evidence to light. Justice in action, as it were.
Today, the gallery was in a rare mood, and eager to speed justice along. Beneath them, standing tall and graceful in her gray robes, a Mage Defender was about to hear her sentence. Kari Dempner looked at her, big eyes heavy with what might wind up being tears, despite her best efforts. “It’s not fair,” she muttered beneath her breath. “It just isn’t.”
The question, of course, was whether Kari, runaway merchant’s daughter turned ink-thrall, would do anything about it. Could she stand up there, in court, with all those eyes on her, and speak what she knew to be true? Did she have the courage? Her knees shook beneath her skirts and she wished she had some Cool Blue to calm her. “It’s not right,” she muttered again.
The howls of the mob drowned out her whispers. She doubted the rabble had even the slightest clue what the charges were, but to them it didn’t matter. Corruption trials always brought out the worst sorts—there was no shortage of criminals in the gallery, as well as a smattering of moon-faced idealists and bitter conspiracy loons. To see their biases confirmed by the courts was too rich a confection for them to abstain. They were here to wallow in it.
“Myreon Alafarr.” The voice of the Lumenal judge echoed through the chamber, amplified by the enchantments placed upon the pulpit itself. He was a frail old man in a white robe too large for him and a wig that seemed likely to slide over the front of his crumpled face at any moment. Arthritis had bent his hands into claws that could barely cling to the white orb he bore. “You will stand, please.”
A scent wafted past Kari’s nose—cologne, probably of Akrallian make, expensive and too liberally applied. Its cloying odor sent icy needles dancing down her spine. It meant one thing …
“Why, Ms. Dempner, what a pleasant surprise.” A voice, soft and gentle as a baby’s hand, whispered breathily in her ear. A man’s hand—also soft and powdered, bedecked with jewels and well-manicured—fell upon her shoulder and lay there, limp and heavy. “Enjoying the show?”
Kari knocked the hand away by instinct and turned to see Gethrey Andolon, her former lover (though the term applied only loosely). He grinned at her with teeth buffed and polished to an ivory shine, which marked a stunning contrast to his rouged lips and dyed blue hair. It was a fashion popular among young men, but Andolon was too old by almost twenty years to wear it. He ought to have looked ridiculous. Instead, his soft brown eyes made Kari’s heart shrivel up like a raisin in her chest.
Meanwhile, the Lumenal judge had interrupted the proceedings in order to have a coughing fit, the sound magically cast about the room so that all could hear the phlegm in his throat with the juicy clarity afforded someone sitting next to him at a dinner table. When it passed, the judge proceeded with the rituals of justice. “You stand accused of fraud, improper sorcerous conduct, and conspiracy to traffic in illicit magecraft, to which you have pled innocent. You have heard the arguments brought against you in the case and have been confronted by the evidence collected by the Defenders of the Balance. Do you wish, at this point, to change your plea and throw yourself upon the mercy of the court?”
Kari looked back at the accused. All it would take would be for her to stand and make herself heard, and the world would know Myreon was innocent. “I could do it,” she said over her shoulder. “You couldn’t stop me.”
Andolon chuckled quietly and motioned to the taciturn Verisi with the crystal eye sitting beside him. “So I’ve been told, Ms. Dempner. Why do you think I’m here?”
Kari glanced at the Verisi—an augur. Of course. She should have known. Anything she might do, Andolon’s pet augur could predict, assuming he had scryed the outcome of this proceeding. Nothing about to transpire was a surprise to Gethrey Andolon. He had set it up all too well.
Andolon tsked through his teeth. “Don’t be so glum, my dear. Perhaps Magus Alafarr will change her plea, eh? Maybe none of this will be necessary.”
“She won’t.” Kari hissed. “She’ll never. That woman has balls bigger than you’ll ever have, Andolon.” All about them, the gallery howled for Alafarr’s blood.
“She won’t do it,” the augur stated, his real eye far off, scanning the strands of the future.
“She’d better not.” Andolon snorted. “Otherwise we’d have come across town for nothing.”
Alafarr had to think she might win. Kari knew the mage had a lot of friends come forward in her defense—staff bearing magi, Captain-Defenders, and so on. Her alibi was strong, too, and her accusers had no motive they could clearly articulate. It was agony to think all that evidence was going to count for nothing. Finally, the Mage Defender’s voice echoed up from below. “I will retain my original plea, your honor.”
Andolon snickered, adjusting his lace ruff collar. “Perfect! Perfect!”
The gallery loved it, too—a chant of “Stone her good’ began in one corner. Others threw rotten vegetables her direction. They missed. Kari felt her heart sink, weighed down by the slippery, limp hand of Gethrey Andolon creeping back onto her shoulder, finger by finger.
“Don’t do it,” he whispered in her ear, the heavy scent of his cologne making her cough. He rubbed her shoulder again, slowly, gently—a man stroking a prized possession. “I can make it worth your while, Kari. Ink enough to swim in. Think about it.”
The Lumenal judge raised his orb and it flashed with sun-bright brilliance. Order fell over the court. “Does the accused wish to address the court prior to hearing our verdict?”
Kari trembled. The temptation of the ink was like a physical force—she could scarcely breathe with the thought of it. Andolon could afford it, too—that was why she first latched onto him. He was the first educated man who had spoken to her in months and he didn’t mind her vices—even approved of them. It wasn’t until later that she realized the price she had paid for his company. The price to her pride; the wearing out of her soul. Gethrey Andolon wanted to consume her, just as he wanted to consume everything around him. He was like ink given human form.
Alafarr’s voice was firm, even in the face of her disgrace. “I wish to say only that I am innocent of these charges. I am being framed for a crime I did not commit …”
Now was her last chance. Kari glanced over her shoulder and saw Andolon, watching her carefully, his augur whispering in his ear.
“… the evidence is faulty or tampered with, and I ask the court to reflect upon my service to the Defenders of the Balance, to Saldor, and to the Alliance of the West when considering my guilt in this matter.”
Kari saw in Andolon’s eyes her future—her long, slow slide into oblivion, cheerfully abetted by her onetime lover. She saw herself winding up in some Crosstown whorehouse, barely aware of the world around her, her blue-stained fingers wedged forever in a series of little glass jars.
Andolon rubbed her shoulder some more. “Don’t, Kari. Be smart for a change.”
Alafarr’s voice did not waver; she did not shout nor sneer. She was the picture of dignified poise. “I did not do it, there is no reason I would have done it, and I would not have been able to do it at the time my accusers claim. I have shown you as much when preparing my defense. The guilty parties are likely in this room as we speak, here to gloat over my misfortune. Were I not forbidden from naming them, I could tell the court exactly where to find them.”
She knew! Adrenaline surged through Kari’s legs. She shook off Andolon’s hand with a glare and stood. She was going to do it. She, Kari Dempner, was going to do the right thing for the first time in a long, long time.
She opened her mouth to speak, but the words were cut short by a bright, sharp pain across her throat. She clutched at her neck, eyes wide—a wire, thin and strong, lay across her windpipe. Strong arms dragged her back to her seat. She writhed, but the man with the garrote held her still, dragging her backward.
The Lumenal judge was reminding Alafarr of the complicated legal justification for her gag order while a low rumble of furtive conversation percolated through the gallery. Kari kicked her legs, flailed with her arms, striking people around her. She got a few annoyed glances but nobody seemed to notice anything amiss. Blood thundered in her ears, laced with panic. How did they not see? How could no one notice her being murdered, right here?
Andolon’s face floated into view. “I would introduce you to my little angel of death, but he’s the quiet type, you see. Nobody can hear you, Kari, and nobody will notice you are gone until the crowd clears.”
The orb was raised and flashed again. The gallery grew quiet, still oblivious of the woman being strangled in their midst. “Is that all?” The old judge asked Alafarr.
“Yes, your honor.”
The judge nodded. “Will the judges please stand to deliver their verdicts?”
Kari felt her limbs grow heavy. The fight in her was gone. She looked back, trying to see her killer. All she could make out was a shadow of a man, nondescript save his mouth and a small tattoo of a button just above the corner of his lips. A Quiet Man of the Mute Prophets; a man with no soul.
Andolon tsked. “Such a shame, Kari. I would have liked just one more tumble with you. You always were so … so pliable in bed.”
One last jolt of energy surged in Kari—anger, shame, fear, all rolled together—and she threw her head backward at the Quiet Man, causing him to lose his grip for a second. She gasped one more breath of air, honking like a half-dead goose, only to have the garrote slam home again.
Her last attempt at escape was drowned out as the gallery hissed and booed at Alafarr. The Mage Defender stood stock-still as three hundred people shouted all manner of insults. A rotten apple squelched against the Block not more than a foot from her leg.
The Lumenal judge raised his orb and restored order again. Everyone settled down; the theatrical portion of the event was over. The old judge’s voice came to Kari as though in a dream. “The Judge of the Lumen finds the accused to be innocent.”
The judge to the Lumen’s left, the Fey judge, nodded. “So noted. Do you affirm it seven times?”
“I do so affirm.”
Kari felt her thrashing heart thrill at this small victory—maybe Alafarr would be innocent after all, maybe Andolon wouldn’t have her killed this way …
Andolon cocked an eyebrow at her. “Is she still alive? Dammit, man—finish the job. We’re almost done here.”
The Dweomeric judge was next. She was an older woman with iron-gray hair and a severe demeanor. “The Judge of the Dweomer finds the accused to be guilty.”
“She better,” Andolon grunted under his breath. “She cost a bloody fortune.”
The Lumenal judge asked for her affirmation, and the Dweomeric judge affirmed three times, as was traditional. A tie. For Kari, the world began to fade away. Her brief moment of escape and the seconds it bought her were almost at an end. She scarcely heard what followed.
“The Judge of the Ether finds the accused to be guilty.”
“So noted. Do you affirm it thirteen times?”
“I do so affirm.”
Kari’s mind drifted to her childhood in Ihyn, playing with her mother aboard her father’s ship, telling tales of selkies who stole naughty children. The sun on her hair and the smell of the sea …
“The Judge of the Fey finds the accused to be guilty.”
There was a cheer from the gallery. The chant of “STONE HER GOOD” began in earnest, so loud it almost drowned out the final formalities. Gethrey felt buoyed by their petty hatred. He began to chant along, a grin splitting his face.
“So noted. Do you affirm it once?”
“I do so affirm.”
Alafarr did not sink to her knees, or faint, or quail. If anything, she seemed more rigid than before. Her face was a mask of serenity. Gethrey grinned at this, knowing how the woman must have been raging inside. He nudged DiVarro, his augur, in the arm. “It’s too perfect. Too perfect by half!”
He spared a look at Kari—she had stopped twitching, finally. Gods, strangling people took forever, evidently. He’d had no idea.
The old Lumenal judge spoke over the crowd. “Myreon Alafarr, you have been found guilty of the crimes of fraud, improper sorcerous conduct, and conspiracy to traffic in illicit magecraft. You are hereby stripped of your staff and expelled from the Defenders of the Balance from this day forward. Furthermore, you are to be petrified and confined to a penitentiary garden for a period not exceeding three years. May your time as stone allow you to contemplate your crimes with the depth and gravity such acts deserve, and may your ordeal strengthen your resolve against such misdeeds in the future. This is the finding of this court, under Hann’s guidance, and with the blessing of Endreth Beskar, the Lord Mayor of Saldor,nd Polimeux II, Keeper of the Balance. Court is hereby adjourned, and the accused’s sentence shall be set to begin immediately.”
Gethrey applauded with gusto as Alafarr was led away, giggling like a boy. Around him, the mob howled and jeered even as they headed for the exits. Nobody raised any alarm about any dead woman beside him. The plan had worked perfectly. “There, DiVarro,” he said finally, “that’s settled. We can proceed.”
“There is a complication.” DiVarro said.
He threw an arm around DiVarro’s waist and steered him toward the exits, drifting along in a river of human flotsam, all high on what they perceived to be justice. “You augurs—always so dire. Alafarr was our last obstacle, understand? I had all the other angles covered. Now, she is disgraced, Kari is dead, and you know what the best part is?”
DiVarro said nothing, frowning at his hands.
Gethrey laughed. “There is no one in all of this world who will bother trying to help Myreon Alafarr.”
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Posted at Apr 26, 2016 2:05 am
Beth Cato’s Final Flight, the latest in her Clockwork Dagger series, releases today! Check out her lovely cover and the following excerpt:
Final Flight: A Clockwork Dagger Story by Beth Cato: excerpt
Another breathtaking short story from the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, set in the same world…
Captain Hue hoped he was rid of his troubles once Octavia Leander and Alonzo Garrett disembarked from his airship Argus. But he was quickly proved wrong when his ship was commandeered by Caskentian soldiers. He is ordered on a covert and deadly mission by the smarmy Julius Corrado, an elite Clockwork Dagger.
Now Captain Hue must start a mutiny to regain control of his airship, which means putting his entire crew at risk—including his teenage son Sheridan. As the weather worsens and time runs out, it’ll take incredible bravery to bring the Argus down… perhaps for good.
— An excerpt of the very beginning of the story: I stood at the rudder wheel of my airship Argus, in command of a ship I did not truly control. We flew north, destination unknown. A soldier stood several feet behind me. His pistols remained holstered—he wasn’t daft enough or desperate enough to fire a weapon in the control cabin of an operating airship—but he had already proven adept with his fists. My co-pilot, Ramsay, was currently getting patched up, as the sarcastic commentary he had offered was not kindly received. Throughout the cabin, tension prickled beneath the surface like an invisible rash we couldn’t scratch. Everyone stood or sat rigid at their posts, gazes flickering between their gauges, the windows, and the soldiers in our midst. These were soldiers of our own kingdom of Caskentia, in green uniforms as vibrant as the sprawling valley below. They had occupied the Argus since that morning. This was the second time in as many weeks that my airship had been commandeered. The previous time, rebellious settlers from the Waste had claimed it by force. I rather preferred them. Wasters made for an easy enemy after fifty years of intermittent warfare. This occupation by our own government was ugly in a different way. My fists gripped the wheel as if I could leave impressions in the slick copper. The futility of our situation infuriated me. I couldn’t stop the Wasters before. And now I couldn’t stop this, whatever this mysterious errand was. My son, Sheridan, was on board somewhere. I needed him to be safe, not snared in any more political drama. The Wasters had used him as a hostage to force my hand; I didn’t want these soldiers to do the same. “Captain Hue, sir.” My co-pilot saluted as he entered the control cabin. I assessed him in a glance. Bandages plugged his swollen nose. Blood still thickened his thin brown moustache. “You are well enough to resume your duties?” I asked. “Yes, sir. I’ve felt worse after a night of leave.” Ramsay knew his job; if only he could control his fool lips. I stepped back to grant him control of the rudder and leaned by his ear. “Corrado said this would be over in days. Bear through.” I saw my own frustration mirrored in his eyes, and in the other crew as I walked from station to station. I muttered what assurance I could and exited the control cabin. I needed to find my boy. —
Like the start of the story? Read the whole thing for just 99-cents–and that includes the first chapter of Beth’s novel out in August, Breath of Earth!
Amazon Barnes & Noble
Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone. Her short fiction is in Clockwork Phoenix 5, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.
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Posted at Jan 6, 2016 2:52 am
Wonder what Sparky and Anya have been up to?
Copies of A FANTASY MEDLEY 3 are shipping now! The anthology received a lovely starred review from Publishers Weekly, and it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous book in hand. Order here: http://subterraneanpress.com/store/product_detail/a_fantasy_medley_3
Posted at Jan 1, 2016 7:06 pm
I’m so pleased to hear that the Dark Alchemy Series is included in One Book Two’s 2015 Standout Awards! This is a great way to begin 2016, and I can’t wait to see what adventures Petra and Sig get into next!
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Posted at Dec 11, 2015 9:56 am
Welcome T. Frohock today with an excerpt from IN MIDNIGHT’S SILENCE! It is awesome, folks…check it out!
T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.
She is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and numerous short stories. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is from Harper Voyager Impulse.
You can find out more about T. at her website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.
The hero of Los Nefilim is Diago Alvarez. In the first novella, In Midnight’s Silence, Diago is not yet a part of the secretive group known as Los Nefilim (Spanish for The Nephilim–say it like “The Mob” and you’ve got the right idea). Although Diago’s lover, Miquel, is part of the group of angelic Nefilim that monitors daimonic activity for the angels, Diago remains on the sidelines.
Diago is not fully angelic. He is part daimon, part angel, and his very unique form of magic is sought by both sides in the conflict between angels and daimons.
In Midnight’s Silence, introduces the reader to Diago’s world, which is occupied by espionage and partisan warfare along with a rogues’ gallery of angels, daimons, and mortals. We meet Diago, Miquel, and Diago’s son, Rafael. We get a brief glimpse of the shadowy world of Los Nefilim and its king, Guillermo Ramirez.
This particular scene was a blast to write. Diago and Miquel are attempting to fool a daimon with a replica of Diago’s son, Rafael. What I wanted to reimagine in this scene is how the angels might have felt when life was breathed into the first mortal. I can envision their reaction as being very similar to Diago’s experience.
Here, Miquel has formed the golem, but in order to make it assume Rafael’s form, Diago must give it drops of Rafael’s blood.
* * *
Rafael’s face was white, but he gave Diago a tight nod nonetheless. As quickly as he could, Diago sliced a shallow gash across the boy’s palm. Tears leaked from his eyes, but the child made no sound.
“You are my brave child,” Diago said as he moved the boy’s hand back and forth over the golem’s head. Rafael’s blood dribbled over the misshapen brow.
Miquel used a sliver of wood to carve the symbols for life in the golem’s forehead. The strands of hair took root, and grew until they were an exact replica of Rafael’s thick hair.
Rafael was so intent on the changes within the golem, he barely noticed Diago binding his hand.
Miquel put his mouth on the golem’s and hummed a low note. The pearlescent hues of his aura divided the air and flowed between the golem’s mud lips. The golem lifted its eyelids and blinked slow and heavy.
Rafael gasped and took a step backward.
The hair on Diago’s arms went up and he fell back with Rafael. “Jesus, that’s creepy.” He could have sworn the creature looked hurt by the pronouncement. The lopsided mouth merely amplified the eerie expression.
Miquel examined it critically and kept his voice low. “It’s missing something.”
“It’s missing a lot.”
Miquel took Rafael’s hat and carefully adjusted it on the golem’s head. “There. That’s better.”
Only because it shadowed the eyes, but Diago didn’t say that. The sand was slipping through the hourglass. He had to hurry. “I have to carry it, don’t I?” he asked, dreading the answer.
Miquel sat back on his heels and studied his handiwork. “Of course you do. He doesn’t have knees.”
“Will you stop whining?”
“All right, all right.” Diago stuck the knife in his belt and knelt before the golem.
The golem turned its bulbous head and looked from Miquel back to Diago. It whimpered.
Diago gritted his teeth. “What’s wrong with it?”
“He senses you don’t like him.”
Rafael glanced at the stairwell. “Sister Benita says we shouldn’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”
Miquel made a face. “I hate Sister Benita.”
“Everyone else does, too.” Rafael came to stand beside Diago and held out his stuffed horse to the golem. “I’m sorry you’re ugly and have to die for me. This is Aurelius. He is my friend. Hold him and he will comfort you.” He tucked the stuffed horse into the crook of the golem’s arm.
The golem snuffled at the horse’s mane and rewarded Rafael with a grimace that Diago assumed was supposed to be a smile.
* * *
In Midnight’s Silence is the first Los Nefilim novella. Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can’t get to him directly, they do the one thing he’s always feared.
They go after Miquel.
Now, in order to save his lover’s life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world’s next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited … and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.
A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock’s IN MIDNIGHT’S SILENCE shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he’ll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.
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ALSO CHECK OUT: Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim, Part 2
In Without Light or Guide, Diago’s story continues. Although he has pledged his loyalty to Los Nefilim, there are many who don’t trust his daimonic blood. And with the re-emergence of his father—a Nefil who sold his soul to a daimon—the fear is Diago will soon follow the same path.
Yet even as Diago tries to prove his allegiance, events conspire that only fuel the other Nefilim’s suspicions—including the fact that every mortal Diago has known in Barcelona is being brutally murdered.
The second novella in T. Frohock’s Los Nefilim series, WITHOUT LIGHT OR GUIDE continues Diago’s journey through a world he was born into, yet doesn’t quite understand.
Posted at Dec 8, 2015 5:19 pm
Hey, folks! MERCURY RETROGRADE is now available in paperback!
Something venomous has come to Temperance…
It’s been two months since Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig faced off against Temperance’s resident alchemist, but things are far from quiet. When an Internet video of a massive snake in the backcountry of Yellowstone goes viral, a chase for the mythical basilisk is on. Monster hunters swarm into the area, and never one to pass up the promise of discovery, Petra joins in the search.
Among the newcomers is a snake cult on wheels – the biker gang Sisters of Serpens. Unlike some, the Sisters don’t want to kill the basilisk – they want to worship it. But things get complicated when the basilisk develops a taste for human flesh that rivals the Sisters’ own murderous skills.
Meanwhile, the alchemical tree of life is dying, and the undead Hanged Men of Temperance who depend on it know the basilisk may be their last chance for survival.
With time running out for everyone around her, Petra will be forced to decide who survives and who she must leave behind in this action-packed sequel to Dark Alchemy.
“This wonderfully unusual Weird West novel combines the best of contemporary fantasy with metaphysical magic and mayhem, and even a bit of romance.” – Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“Petra’s adventures in a magic-choked version of Yellowstone continue to balance nicely with a sense of fun, well-done and subtle worldbuilding and characterization, plus some serious stakes.” – RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars
MERCURY RETROGRADE was chosen as an Amazon Science Fiction and Fantasy Best Book of the Month for December, 2015.
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Posted at Dec 8, 2015 9:32 am
Hi, folks! Please welcome Bishop O’Connell, who is celebrating the release of THREE PROMISES today!
BishopO’Connell is the author of the American Faerie Tale series, a consultant, writer, blogger, and lover of kilts and beer, as well as a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Born in Naples Italy while his father was stationed in Sardinia, Bishop grew up in San Diego, CA where he fell in love with the ocean and fish tacos. While wandering the country for work and school (absolutely not because he was in hiding from mind controlling bunnies), he experienced autumn in New England. Soon after, he settled in Manchester, NH, where he writes, collects swords, revels in his immortality as a critically acclaimed “visionary” of the urban fantasy genre, and is regularly chastised for making up things for his bio. He can also be found online at A Quiet Pint (aquietpint.com), where he muses philosophical on life, the universe, and everything, as well as various aspects of writing and the road to getting published.
Three Promises: An American Faerie Tale Collection is my third book. It’s a compilation of short stories—technically three short stories and a novella—and while I’ve always struggled with short fiction, that wasn’t the case here. These stories seemed to write themselves, and the characters truly shine. In my previous books, The Stolen & The Forgotten (available anywhere books are sold) the stories drove the characters. In Three Promises, the opposite is true. There’s no child to rescue, no shadowy enemy snatching kids off the street, and you get to see the characters for who they are. I was worried they wouldn’t stand on their own, but I think they didn’t just stand, they soared I really liked my characters before; now, I love them. I hope you will, too.
Here’s a sample from one of the short stories, “The Legacy of Past Promises”:
Elaine stared at the painting. While her body didn’t move, her heart and mind danced in the halls of heaven. The depth and intensity of mortal passion was astounding to her, and her ability to experience it through art was like a drug. The heavy silence that filled her vast loft was broken by the high-pitched whistle of the teakettle. Elaine extricated herself from the old battered chair, which was so comfortable it should be considered a holy relic. She crossed her warehouse flat to the kitchen area, purposely stepping heavily so the old hardwood floor creaked. She smiled at the sound. It was like a whisper that contained all the memories the building had seen. Unlike the fae, the mortal world was constantly aging. But for those who knew how to listen, it sang of a life well lived in every tired sound. The flat took up the entire top floor of a warehouse that had been abandoned in the early 1900s. She owned it now and was its only permanent tenant. The lower floors of the five-story building were offered as a place to stay to the fifties—half-mortal, half-fae street kids, unwelcome in either world—she knew and trusted. But with all the unrest in Seattle, she was currently its only occupant.
She turned off the burner and the kettle went quiet. Three teaspoons of her personal tea blend went into the pot. The water, still bubbling, went next. The familiar and comforting aroma filled the air, black tea with whispers of orange blossom. Light poured in from the south-facing wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. But she ignored the view of the Seattle skyline. The twenty-foot ceiling was constructed of heavy wooden beams and slats, broken only by the silver of air ducts, a relatively recent addition. The floor was oak, original to the building but well maintained over the years, as were the exposed bricks of the walls and pillars. The flat was large, 5,000 square feet of open space, sparsely furnished with secondhand pieces. They had been purchased so long ago, they were technically antiques now. But she looked past all that to the paintings that covered the walls, collected over centuries and not always through strictly legal means. Nearly every school was represented by at least one piece. Her eyes followed the heavy strokes of a Van Gogh, thought lost by the general public. The emotions and impressions left behind by the artist washed over her. The melancholy and near madness, the longing and love, all mixed together like the colors of the painting itself.
The smell of her tea, now perfectly brewed, broke her reverie. As she poured tea into a large clay mug, her gaze settled on a Rossetti. Elaine smiled as she remembered seeing the painting come to life. Gabriel Rossetti—Elaine could never bring herself to think of him as Dante, it was such an absurd name—had captured Jane’s beauty spectacularly. Jane Morris had been a truly beautiful mortal; it was no wonder Gabriel so often chose her as a model.
Elaine carried the mug back to her chair, sank into the plush cushions, and hit play on the remote. Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto no. 4 in A Minor filled the space. She closed her eyes, letting the music fill her soul. The mournful cello danced with the playful harpsichord. She sipped her tea, opened her eyes, and her gaze fell upon another painting, the one she’d almost lost. Unwanted memories rose to the surface—and just like that, she was back in France, deep in the occupied zone.
The war—or more correctly, the Nazis—had mostly turned the once beautiful countryside and small villages to rubble. The jackbooted thugs had marched with impunity, leaving only death and destruction in their wake
Even now she could almost hear the voices of her long-dead friends.
Elaine blinked. “Pardon?”
François narrowed his eyes. “I asked if you were paying attention,” he said, his French heavy with a Parisian accent. “But you answer my question anyway, yes?”
There were snickers from the collection of men, scarcely more than boys, gathered around the table and map.
“Sorry,” Elaine said, her own carefully applied accent fitting someone from the southern countryside. “You were saying a convoy of three German trucks will be coming down this road.” She traced the route on the map with her finger. “And this being one of the few remaining bridges, they’ll attempt to cross here. Did I miss something?”
François turned a little pink, then a deeper red when the chuckles turned on him. When Paul offered him the bottle of wine, François’s smile returned, and he laughed as well.
“Our little sparrow misses nothing, no?” he asked, then took a swallow of wine before offering her the bottle.
Elaine smiled and accepted.
Six hours later, just before dawn, the explosives had been set and the group was in position. She sat high in a tree, her rifle held close. Despite having cast a charm to turn the iron into innocuous fae iron (a taxing process that had taken her the better part of three weeks), she still wore gloves. On more than one occasion she’d had to use another weapon, one that hadn’t been magically treated.
As the first rays of dawn touched her cheeks, she had only a moment to savor the sublime joy of the morning light. Her keen eyes picked up the telltale clouds of black diesel smoke before she ever saw the vehicles. She made a sparrow call, alerting her fellow resistance fighters.
A thrush sounded back.
They were ready.
Elaine hefted her rifle and sighted down the barrel, her fingertip caressing the trigger. She watched the rise, waiting for the first truck to come into view.
Her eyes went wide and her stomach twisted when she saw the two Hanomags, armored halftrack personnel carriers, leading the three big trucks. That was two units, more than twenty soldiers. She made another birdcall, a nightingale, the signal to abort.
The thrush call came in reply, repeated twice. Proceed.
“Fools,” she swore. “You’re going to get us all killed.”
She sighted down the rifle again and slowed her breathing. They were outnumbered almost three to one and up against armor with nothing but rifles and a few grenades.
“Just an afternoon walk along the Seine,” she said. Of course Germany now controlled Paris and the Seine, so maybe it was an accurate comparison.
The caravan crawled down the muddy road, inching closer to the bridge. Looking through the scope, she watched the gunner on the lead Hanomag. His head was on a swivel, constantly looking one way then another. Not that she could blame him. This was a textbook place for an ambush.
The first Hanomag stopped just shy of the explosive charges.
Her heart began to race. Had they spotted it? No, it was buried and the mud didn’t leave any sign that even she could see. No way could these mortal goose-steppers have—
An officer in the black uniform of the SS stepped out of the second Hanomag, flanked by half a dozen regular army soldiers. Elaine sighted him with her scope, noted her heartbeat, and placed her finger on the trigger.
The tingle of magic danced across her skin as the officer drew a talisman from under his coat. “Offenbaren sich!” he shouted.
There was a gust of wind, and the leaves on the trees near her rustled. She whispered a charm and felt it come up just as the magic reached her. The spell slid over her harmlessly. Her friends weren’t so lucky. A red glow pulsed from the spot where the explosives had been set, and faint pinkish light shone from six spots around the convoy.
“Aus dem Hinterhalt überfallen!” the officer shouted and pointed to the lights.
The gunners on the Hanomags turned and the soldiers protecting the officer took aim.
“Merde,” Elaine cursed, then sighted and fired.
There was a crack, and the officer’s face was a red mist.
Then everything went to hell.
Soldiers poured from the trucks and the Hanomags, the gunners turned their MG-42s toward the now-fading lights marking François and the others. The soldiers took cover behind the armored vehicles and divided their fire between her and her compatriots. She was well concealed, so most of the shots did nothing more than send shredded leaves and bark through the air. Only a few smacked close enough to cause her unease.
Elaine ignored them and sighted one of the MG-42 gunners.
“Vive la France!” someone shouted.
Elaine looked up just in time to see Paul leap from cover and charge at the soldiers, drawing their attention and fire. She watched in horror as the Nazi guns tore him to shreds. Somehow, before falling, he lobbed two grenades into one of the armored vehicles. There came a shout of panic from inside the Hanomag and seconds later came two concussive booms. Debris flew up from the open top of the halftrack and the shouts stopped.
François and the others took advantage of Paul’s sacrifice, moved to different cover, and started firing. A few Nazi soldiers dropped, but the remaining MG-42 began spraying the area with a hail of bullets.
Elaine gritted her teeth and fired two shots; both hit the gunner, and he fell. This again drew fire in her direction.
The fight became a blur after that. She took aim and fired, took aim and fired, over and over again, pausing only long enough to reload. It wasn’t until she couldn’t find another target that Elaine realized it was done, and all the Nazis were dead or dying.
She lay on the branch for a long moment, until the ringing in her ears began to fade. When she moved, a sharp pain in her shoulder brought her up short. More gingerly, she shifted and saw tendrils of white light filled with motes of green drifting from her shoulder. At the center was a growing blossom of gold blood. She rolled and dropped from the tree, landing only slightly less gracefully than normal. Still, the jolt made the pain jump a few numbers on the intensity scale.
She clenched her jaw, hefted her rifle, and carefully inspected the scene. The Germans were all dead, but the driver of one of the Hanomags was still alive. He took a couple shots at her with his Luger, but he’d apparently caught some ricochets or shrapnel because he didn’t even come close. Elaine put him down with a shot through the viewing port.
“Please, help me,” someone said in bad French.
Elaine spun to see a German soldier lying on the ground. He was little more than a kid, maybe sixteen; it didn’t even look like he’d started shaving. She just stared at his tear-filled eyes, blood running down his cheek from the corner of his mouth. He had at least half a dozen holes in his chest. He was already dead, he just didn’t know it.
“Ja,” she said.
His thanks were swallowed by the loud report of the rifle as she put a bullet between his eyes. There was nothing she, or anyone else, could’ve done for him. She wiped tears away and muttered a curse at Hitler and his megalomaniacal plans.
After double-checking that all the soldiers were dead, Elaine made her sparrow call. Her mouth was so dry, the call was hardly recognizable.
Only silence answered her.
Swallowing, she hardened her heart and went to where François and the others had been taking cover. She couldn’t bring herself to look down at the bloodied mess that had been Paul. She just kept walking. Her rifle fell to the ground, then she went to her knees, sobbing, covering her mouth with her good hand.
They were dead, which wasn’t a surprise, but it didn’t make finding them any less heartbreaking. Rémy was almost unrecognizable. If it wasn’t for his blond hair, now matted with blood—Elaine’s stomach twisted and she retched to one side. Michel, Julien, Daniel, Christophe, and Christian were in slightly better shape, for the most part. Julien’s left arm had been chewed up by the machine gun, and Christophe’s torso had been ripped open, allowing his insides to spill out. Elaine sobbed and turned to François. His rifle had been discarded and his pistol was still clutched in his left hand, two fingers having been shot off his right.
Sadness mixed with anger, and she screamed curses at him.
“You arrogant fool!” she said between sobs. “Why didn’t you just call off the operation? You got them all killed!”
It wasn’t long before Elaine grew numb inside. She used her fae healer’s kit to remove the bullet from her shoulder, and a liberal smearing of healing ointment numbed the pain enough to give her almost full use of her arm again. Lastly, she set the pinkish, putty-like dóú craiceann over the wound, sealing it like a second skin. She’d never been much of a healer herself, but she got the job done. With effort, and still careful of her wounded shoulder, she dragged Paul into the cover to join his brothers-in-arms. Elaine whispered a charm and the earth drew itself up and over her friends. A moment later, lush green grass covered the seven mounds.
“Adieu, mes amis,” she said softly.
The ebook is only $0.99 (and how can you not buy a $0.99 book?), but if you preorder the paperback (releases 1/8/16 and is only $3.99) from The Fountain Bookstore, not only will it be signed, but you’ll get an exclusive gift. As a nice bonus, you can also order signed copies of The Stolen and The Forgotten while you’re there, and don’t worry, they ship worldwide.
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