Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Fae and Felonies - Chapter 2

Here's another chapter of Fae and Felonies. Please remember this is an unedited sample.


After the last class of the day, Kirsten leaned against the wall outside of the library. The off-white-painted plasterboard cooled the nervous perspiration that dampened the back of her blue Knights t-shirt. She’d never met a fae before, and the family stories about them had not been complimentary.

Especially not after the Winter Queen’s assassin had orchestrated the murders of several Normals in Holmes County in his effort to trap and kill a newborn goddess. The grandfather of Mary Levy, one of her closest friends, had been a victim of the fae assassin’s plot.

Donny Fryer strolled up to her, his red backpack slung over his shoulder. An old Carhartt hooded tan jacket covered his navy t-shirt and well-worn jeans. He was a couple inches shorter than her five-eight, but he carried himself like a much bigger guy. Any Normal bullies who tried to harass him in elementary school had learned the hard way not to mess with him. Even the other werecoyotes in the county had started giving him a wide berth over the last year. Donny wasn’t someone who backed down from a fight.

“Kaley said you needed my help.” He smirked.

The last Kirsten wanted was to admit such a thing, especially to Donny. But facing the fae boy alone didn’t seem like such a great idea.

“Did she tell you why?”

He shrugged. “Something about protection from the new kid who started here today.”

“She didn’t tell you?” Kirsten wanted to track down her sister and kick her ass. This wasn’t something she could spring on Donny. Not after what happened to his dad before Donny was born.

A muttered “Ah, shit” behind Kirsten and Donny drew their attention. They pivoted at the same time to find a tall guy standing behind them. He was easily six-four. White-blond hair. Deeply tanned which stood out like a sore thumb. Like Donny, the stranger was dressed in jeans, t-shirt, and an insulated denim jacket that had seen better days.

But it was the dangerous prickle of fae magick that set Kirsten’s teeth on edge.

Donny growled deep in his chest. In her peripheral vision, fur sprouted on his cheeks.

“Look, I don’t want any trouble,” the fae said.

“Your queen’s the reason my father’s dead.” Donny’s words were barely intelligible thanks to his snout elongating as he spoke.

Kirsten stepped between Donny and the fae. “Hackles down. This is the guy I’m supposed to be tutoring.”

“Reed’s an idiot to allow a fae in the school,” Donny rasped.

“And Kaley’s an idiot for not telling you he’s here either.” Kirsten placed her palm against his chest. His pulse pounded against her hand. “All I’m asking is that you stand down as long as he’s not slinging spells.”

“First, he tells us how he crossed the county line.” Donny’s golden irises and canine pupils glared at the fae. “Actually, that’s a good question.” Kirsten turned back to face the fae. “No Unseelie or agent or representative of theirs is allowed in Holmes County. Not after the amendments to the International Council’s Accords.”

“The amendment doesn’t apply to those of fae blood neither Court claims,” the new boy said coolly. “My father was fae, my mother Normal. Are you telling me you don’t know how the Winter Queen regards half-bloods?”

That explained how he got into Holmes County. It didn’t mean he wasn’t trouble.

Kirsten regarded him. “I do. I also know half-fae will do just about anything to be accepted by their Court.”

“Not all of us,” he shot back. “But then I wouldn’t expect a mere witch to understand. The real question for me is whether the principal sicced you on me on purpose.”

She laughed. “That’s giving Reed too much credit. I’m one of the top students, and I’m aiming to graduate valedictorian.” “Really?” An ugly smile filled his face. “And how many hexes did that take?”

Donny shoved his way between Kirsten and the half-fae. “You’re just like every other fae. A conceited, full-of-yourself jerk.” The were was angry, but he’d regained control of his human form.

The half-fae rolled his eyes. “I don’t know you. I don’t know your dad. And I sure as hell don’t know the asshat who killed him. Like I said, I don’t need the trouble.” His sneaker squeaked when he pivoted, and he marched down the hallway.

Kirsten looked at Donny.

He met her gaze. “Is Reed crazy, or just that ignorant about supernaturals?”

“Yes.” She pressed her lips together and looked back down the hall, but the half-fae had turned the corner. “This is going to come back and bite me in the ass. I just know it.” She slumped against the wall.

Kaley rushed up to them. “Sorry I’m late.” She looked around. “Hasn’t River shown up yet?”

“River?” Donny smirked. “What kind of name is River?”

“There’s River Phoenix.” Kaley frowned. “What did I miss?”

A sour expression replaced Donny’s smirk. “Other than you didn’t tell me I was supposed guard your sister from an Unseelie?”

“I thought you knew,” Kaley protested. “You were the one complaining about the honey scent in the air.”

“I guess it was too much to ask that Life Sciences might be making baklava,” he muttered.

“It doesn’t matter,” Kirsten murmured. “We need to find out who this River’s father is, and why he’s in Millersburg.” It was time to put the offer Sheriff Birkheimer and Police Chief Hall made last month to the test.

Monday, March 23, 2020

OMG! So Many Book Sales!

As the lockdowns extend across the world, lots of fellow authors are offering free or hugely discounted books. Here's some of my favorites:

My colleague and friend Libbie Hawker put a bunch her books on sale for $0.99. She writes historical literary fiction, and I highly recommend her Hatshepsut series.

The Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Trust discounted a ton of their books to $0.99-$2.99 including the volumes of Sword and Sorceress I'm in. If you have been wanting to pick them up, now's the time to do it.

Fellow sword and sorcery author Jonathan Moeller has the first book in his Ghost series, Child of the Ghosts, for $0.99. I love, love, LOVE this series. This was my go-to read while I was recovering from cancer surgery.

If you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited or you want to try out the 30-day FREE TRIAL (which is a good idea if you're going to be stuck in your home for the next month), I suggested the following cozy witch series:

Amanda M. Lee - Wicked Witches of the Midwest
Ellie Moses - Hillbilly Hexes Cozy Mysteries
Bella Falls - Southern Charms Cozy Mysteries

If there are any other books you would like me to add, please drop me a line through my contact page!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Fae and Felonies - Chapter 1

With all the craziness in the world over the last few months, here's a preview on my current work-in-progress!


Kaley Wilson scribbled frantically on her trig worksheet, the paper practically glowed underneath the energy efficient LED fixtures. The damn light didn’t feel natural. The softer yellow ones would have been much more comfortable to human eyes, but West Holmes High School had to go with the lowest bidder.

What was the formula for a tangent again? She ignored classmates filtering into homeroom as she flipped through her notes, but she couldn’t filter out their scents. Nothing like the scent of manure on boots to overpower the stink of dry-erase markers and ruin one's concentration.

She found the right page, scribbled down the correct formula, and started working through the equation. How could she be an identical twin, yet advanced math was a breeze for Kirsten? And her sister refused to help her with homework last night.

Okay, maybe she shouldn't have been catching up on the post boys’ basketball game gossip with Bella Sims until midnight before she asked Kirsten for assistance. Kaley realized she forgot to carry the one and scrubbed the mistake with her eraser. If only Principal Reed hadn't suspended her from cheerleading for the week for skipping study hall on Monday. But no, Reed still held a grudge over his attempt to suspend her for fighting when all she did was step out of the way of a blow fellow cheerleader Amelia Ryder aimed at her in the girl’s locker room, so he refused to overlook one little misstep.

If Mom and Dad wouldn’t have grounded her, she could have snuck into the game, picked up some details about Brad and Amelia’s breakup, and gotten her homework done, instead of fretting in her bedroom the entire night about the whole situation. And who the heck needed trigonometry anyway? No one used it fashion marketing.

As she tried to explain to Mom and Dad, who refused to listen.

Hope Stillwell nudged Kaley's arm with the eraser end of her pencil.

“Stop it!” Kaley hissed without looking up. “I'm trying to get this last problem—”

“Hottie at two o'clock.”

Kaley looked up at the same moment alien magick tingled across her skin, raising the hairs on her arms and legs. A chill ran through her. She didn’t need the feel of his power to know the boy staring at her was fae. The white shock of hair wasn’t a color you saw on most Normals, even with the help of modern dyes.

The fae was tall as most Unseelie were. His platinum hair made his tanned skin stick out. He actually wore jeans and a sweatshirt under his coat, instead of glamouring Normal clothing. He had been staring at her, but quickly dropped his gaze and stalked to the back of the room. So he knew what she was, too.

Worry gripped her, and she automatically solidified her mental and magickal shields. The last thing they needed was even an incidental interaction between their energies. The mix wasn’t like oil and water. It was more like matter and anti-matter. And such an interaction usually resulted in the death of both the witch and the fae in question. In this close of quarters, they could take out their teacher and the entire class, too.

After the Battle of Millersburg, why the hell would the Winter Queen break the truce by sending one of her people to Holmes County?

She resisted the urge to turn around and look at him again. The fae aged at a much slower rate than humans, even those with longer lifespans like witches and weres, so he could be older than her great-aunt Jo. The only people comparable to the fae where the vampires, and fae viewed them as diseased cheaters because their extended life was courtesy of the V-virus.

“Why would someone change schools this late in the year?” Hope whispered.

“The middle of November isn’t that late in the school year,” Kaley whispered back. “And he may not have had a choice.” Which was true if he was under orders from the Winter Queen.

Kaley turned back to the problem, but her concentration was totally destroyed. The bell rang, and Mr. Thomas started calling roll. She’d have to take the hit on her homework score.

But that didn’t both her as much as the fae sitting behind her.

* * *

Kaley spotted her identical twin sister in the cafeteria. Well, identical if Kaley didn’t dye her hair blond. Kirsten kept the rich mahogany color they’d been born with, the same shade as Mom and Jo.

Kirsten sat with Hope and the rest of the varsity girl’s basketball team. Kaley charged over to their table and plopped down across from her sister. “I need to tell you something—”

“I’m not doing your damn homework.” Kirsten glared at her as she shoved a forkful of green beans into her mouth.

“No,” Kaley snapped. “There’s a new boy—”

“Crap!” Hope grinned. “I forgot to tell you about the hot new guy who showed up in trig class this morning.”

“Tall and cute in an emo way,” Olivia Burke added in a dreamy voice. Her reaction didn’t make sense. She didn’t swing toward boys.

Kirsten looked at Olivia, frowned, and looked back at Kaley. What’s going on? she asked telepathically.

He’s fae.

“You’re kidding, right?” Kirsten said aloud. Her brown eyes widened, and worry flowed from her psyche. Kaley was pretty sure that was the same expression she had on her face before the morning bell.

“Not about this,” she said. I texted Jo between classes, but I haven’t gotten an answer yet.

“Why would anyone want to move here this late in the school year?” Kirsten said.

Hope made a face. “That’s what I said.”

Kristen ignored her friend. “You think he’s related to the guys who messed with the Amish years ago?”

Kaley shrugged. “Because of the murders, the corridor project stalled. They did invest a ton of money into the commercial properties that would have adjoined the exit ramps.”

“What the heck are you guys talking about?” Olivia looked at Kaley and Kirsten like they spoke in a foreign language.

“Some ancient family history—” Kirsten’s expression changed from contemplative to solemn. “The principal is walking this way. Behave yourself.”

Kaley resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She looked over her shoulder as his shadow fell across her.

“Good afternoon, ladies.” Principal Reed’s voice was genial, but the emotion never reached his eyes. “Kirsten, we have a new student who started today. I need you to meet with him after school. Help him get caught up.”

She cocked her head. “You do realize I have basketball practice?”

“And it doesn’t start until three-thirty, which is forty-five minutes after school ends.” His tone didn’t leave any room for Kirsten to argue.

She plastered on a fake smile. “All right. But it’ll have to be thirty-five minutes so I have a chance to change and warm up.”

“Fine.” He strolled away.

“He could have at least said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’,” Kirsten grumbled.

Hope shook her head. “That would mean acknowledging us as real people.”

“Still this is our chance to check out the new kid,” Kaley said.

Kirsten’s jaw worked before she said, “Think you can get Donny to come with us?”

Kaley considered her words. Kirsten was totally oblivious to Donny Fryer’s crush on her. Donny threatened to bite Kaley if she said anything. Yet, her sister kept asking for his help with supernatural matters though she claimed he was trouble like the remaining werecoyotes in Holmes County.

“I can ask him,” Kaley said. “But why?”

Kirsten scowled. “If we can’t defend ourselves, Donny can rip the new kid’s throat out.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Spells and Sleuths Is Coming...

Spells and Sleuths, the first book in the brand new series, Millersburg Magick Mysteries, ended a lot shorter than I expected.

By about half.

So rather than pad a story, which as a reader, drives me up the wall, I dropped the price. Of course, those of you who have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited can always borrow it when it comes out on Sunday.

Now, off to write the next MMM adventure!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Spells and Sleuths - Chapter 1

I'm back from a terrific writers' workshop in Las Vegas, but I've got to get Spells and Sleuths finished. Here's a little taste of what's coming out next week!


When the front door of Aunt Jo’s coffee shop slammed open, Kirsten Wilson jumped. The coffee pot filled with the day’s special, a fresh, hot Kona blend, slipped from her damp hand. She watched in slow-motion horror as the glass pot dropped toward the tile floor.

Instinctively, she reached out with her powers. Unfortunately, her elemental specialty was water, not earth. The pot shattered against the ceramic tiles, but the java swirled and steamed in midair. Freezing wind blew through the doorway as Rose Gleason struggled to close the coffee shop door against the Ohio mid-morning storm. Aunt Jo rushed over to help the elderly lady.

Kirsten grabbed a clean, empty pot. She concentrated a bit more and shifted the hot coffee from her bubble of magick into the new pot. Thank goodness, no one else was in the shop. Even though the existence of supernaturals had been exposed due to their efforts to save the Normals who couldn’t evacuate Puget Sound when Mount Rainier had erupted twelve years ago, there was still a lot of suspicion and fear among the Normal community.

Not to mention, Mom and Dad always said not to show off.

“I’m so sorry, ladies.” Miz Rose panted. “Darn wind.” She turned seventy last month, and from the way her fingers curled, her arthritis was getting worse. Between that, the drop in temperatures, and the fierce wind, no wonder she lost her grip on the door handle.

“What can we get you, Miz Rose?” Kirsten wiped her hands on her orange apron as Jo helped their only customer out of her coat.

“A cinnamon latte, please.” A frown creased Miz Rose’s face. “But I’m not here for just coffee.”

“Tarot card reading? A little gossip?” Jo grinned. Even though both women were the same age, the life expectancy for witches was one hundred-thirty years. Jo could have passed as Kirsten’s older sister with the right hairstyle, clothes, and makeup. No gray marred Jo’s mahogany braid, the same mahogany both Mom and Kirsten had. Thank goddess, Jo didn’t wear elastic-waisted polyester pants, but sometimes, she said something incongruous with her physical appearance. When Kirsten’s twin Kaley teased Jo about seeing the first moon landing live on TV, their great aunt said the Rainier Outing was the best thing that ever happened. Otherwise, she would have had to sell her coffee shop and move to another town by now to avoid the scrutiny of Normals.

Miz Rose toddled to her left, checking the side tables leading to the restrooms and making sure they were alone in the coffee shop. Kirsten started the espresso brewing while she kept an eye on their visitor. Despite Miz Rose knowing about the supernaturals long before the Outing, she and folks who were Mom’s age or older still had a problem talking about woo-woo stuff in public.

Miz Rose turned back to Jo. “Actually, I think I have a ghost problem.”

An even deeper wrinkle appeared above Miz Rose’s bright orange glasses that matched her Halloween sweater. She shuffled to the closest table and gestured for Jo to join her before she carefully lowered herself into the wooden chair. This month’s coffee shop seat covers featured black cats and pumpkins appliqued on cream broad cloth. Jo sold them for Mary Levy. Kirsten never quite understood why the Amish community were more accepting of the supernaturals than the rest of the Normals in Millersburg. Maybe because they were used to being outsiders, too.

Though in Mary’s case, her great-great-aunt Anne had been a vampire until the cure for the disease had been discovered. Jo slid into the chair beside Rose where she could keep an eye on the front door. “Sweetie—” She patted Rose’s hand. “—I told you before. Your mom has passed on. She’s not there.”

“I don’t think it’s Mother.” The elderly woman’s eyes glistened behind her thick lens. “I think it’s Dick. Wouldn’t his death count as unfinished business?”

The giant picture windows at the front of the store shivered from a blast of wind. Kirsten listened intently to the women as she steamed the milk for Rose’s latte. Rose’s brother had been murdered by the Millersburg Monster before Kirsten and her twin Kaley had been born.

There wasn’t really a monster. Just a trapped Native American water spirit forced to kill against its will. But the monster version sounded cooler, and one of the Normal farmers used the idea for his cornfield maze every year. The event drew so many people from Cleveland and Columbus it drove Sheriff Birkheimer a little crazy trying to find extra help for traffic control.

“What makes you think it’s Dick?’ Kirsten asked. “If he was still hanging around, wouldn’t he have made himself known long before now?”

At Jo’s pursed her lips and glare, Kirsten ducked her head and reached for the whipped cream.

“Rose, maybe it’s time to think about—”

Kirsten rolled her eyes. Sometimes, Jo wasn’t the most subtle person on the face of the planet. Miz Rose’s explosion of temper would have been expected by anybody else who dared suggest she was too old to be living alone in a giant Victorian.

“I am not moving!” The elderly woman’s frail body shook. “That house has been in my family for six generations! I am not leaving!”

Kirsten set the hot cup in front of Miz Rose. “What if I come over after the lunch rush?”

This time, both Miz Rose and Jo glared at her.

“Shouldn’t you be in school?” Miz Rose said.

“Teacher in-service day.” Kirsten squared her shoulders and faced Jo. “I can check out Miz Rose’s house. If there’s nothing, it’ll relieve your mind. And if there’s something—”

“You’ll come get me.” Jo leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. “The last thing we need is a ghost possessing you, young lady.”

Oh, geez! Like she’d be stupid enough to let a ghost kick her out of her own body. But somehow, Kirsten squelched the urge to roll her eyes again. If she did, Jo would forbid her from going to Rose’s house.

Right before Jo tattled on her to Mom.

“If there’s something in Miz Rose’s house, I’ll come straight back here and let you know.” Kirsten shut up and waited, a trick her twin never understood. She knew the I-just-turned-eighteen argument wouldn’t fly with her great-aunt.

Finally, the crinkles around Jo’s eyes eased, and her nostrils flared as she exhaled. “Fine. But I want you to stop by here before you go home, and let me know either way.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Jo inclined her head toward the kitchen. “When you get started on lunch prep, just slice up two tomatoes.” She turned to watch the street. A couple of minivans rolled by, but no pedestrians. Raindrops smacked the huge picture windows with sharp little reports. Jo shook her head. “I don’t think we’ll get much business with this weather.”

* * *

Turned out, Jo was so very wrong on that count. Between the cold wind and spitting rain, half of Millersburg decided they wanted something hot, whether it be soup or coffee. It was well after two before business died enough for Kirsten to clock out.

“You still going to Rose’s house?” Jo eyed Kirsten.

“Yes, ma’am, I am,” she answered as she slung on her jacket.

Jo inclined her head toward the back of the shop and lowered her voice. “There’s some white sage sticks in my desk. Bottom drawer on the right.”

“Thanks, Aunt Jo.” Kirsten grinned and headed toward the storeroom cum office. Once she secured two of the sage sticks, a pack of matches, and a Ziploc bag of salt in a larger Ziploc to keep everything dry inside her backpack, she returned to the front to find Kaley wearing her varsity jacket and jeans. Her twin leaned against the pastry display case.

Like cheerleaders should get to wear a varsity jacket.

“I don’t get your fingerprints all over that,” Kirsten snapped. “I just cleaned the glass.”

“Be nice to me if you want a ride home in the rain,” Kaley shot back, flipping her bottle-blond hair back in the process. “Mom sent me to get you.”

“Fine. But I have a stop first.” Kirsten turned and waved. “See you Saturday morning, Jo.”

Their great-aunt waved absently before turning back to Augusta Wright who was ordering pastries for next week’s Ladies Auxiliary meeting. Once they were outside, Kirsten could feel her sister’s eyes on her despite them both ducking their heads against the wind and the rain.

“What gives?” Kaley said over the ropes slapping against the flagpole across the street in front of the courthouse. “You normally go two more rounds of insults.”

“I’m heading to the old Miller Mansion.”

“Miz Rose’s place?” Kaley tapped the key fob to unlock the doors of Mom’s little sedan. “You really want to walk there in the rain?”

Kirsten sighed. No, she didn’t. On the other hand, she wanted to prove to both Mom and Jo she could handle things on her own. Kaley didn’t take her magick studies as seriously, and their older relatives assumed her twin’s lack of focus applied to Kirsten as well.

They both slid into the front seats before Kaley said, “Why are you going over to the Miller Mansion?” “Miz Rose says she has a ghost.”

“Awesome!” Kaley flashed a maniacal grin before she pressed the button to start the car. “I’m coming with you if you’re going to bust a ghost.”