Allies and Spies Released

Allies and Spies, Book 2 of the Unraveling the Veil Trilogy is now available on Kindle.

No major fanfare, no 30-day tour. Phew!

Oh, all right… a little celebration.

Some autumn dahlias…

Tasty cocktails…

And low-cal dessert!

(How I wish we could celebrate in person.)

If you missed Book 1, Liars and Thieves, it’s available here.

Allies and Spies

Trust is as thin as a blade’s edge. Secrets abound. And no one is who they seem. Kalann il Drakk, the First of Chaos, makes a bargain with his brethren, in which the future of civilization hangs in the balance.

Thrust together by a sacred oath, a halfbreed goblin, a misfit elf, and a changeling spy unite in an uneasy alliance. But their mission to learn the truth of the strange disappearances must wait—for they owe a blood debt to the changeling queen.

In the Raveen Mountains, the cornerstones of Naj’s life crumble. Goblins assemble a massive shipment of crystals for the Borderland—enough to power Ka Radiff for a decade or, with a single spark, blow it apart.

In the elfin Riverlands, Alue learns of the clandestine Coalition. Rumors whisper of a vast conspiracy. But that knowledge pales in comparison to a startling revelation that shatters the foundations of her life.

When a dead goblin turns up on the slopes beneath the Veil, Talin has no choice but to admit to changeling crimes. The tenuous alliance falters. Treachery runs deep and wide. And in the changelings’ jungle, the queen releases her venom. The ground fractures. And only the truth about il Drakk’s cruel designs has the power to spare their lives.

Thanks for stopping by.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Happy Reading!

The Bossy Muse insists that I need help

My Muse (pixabay compilation)

I have my feet up in my writing room, and I’m getting a little cross-eyed from editing commas.

I look up and listen. Someone’s clomping up the stairs. I’m hoping it’s the hubby with an iced coffee. But no such luck. I hear the roar of a howler monkey, and my laptop nearly flips to the floor. I know who it is.

My muse.

She walks in without knocking. The monkey on her shoulder bares its yellow teeth and squeezes a banana until the peel splits. The muse sits beside me and puts her boots up on the coffee table. The howler smears banana on my arm and grins.

I frown at the mess. “Why did you have to bring him?”

She ignores my question and gives me a flat look. “I just had an iced coffee with your husband. He said you’re planning to do the usual.”

My chin draws back. First, where’s my iced coffee? Second, I have no idea what “the usual” means.

I’m about to ask when the howler swings to the floor and starts pulling books out of my bookcase. He bites the corner of Jacqui Murray’s new book Against All Odds. I jump up and snatch it from the beast’s teeth. It barks at me, and I growl in reply.

I keep one eye on the monkey while questioning my visitor, “Okay, I give up. What’s ‘the usual?’ You know, I have work to do for my launch.”

“Exactly,” my muse says. “A launch is more than one blog post announcing a new book.”

“Oh.” I wince. “But… but that’s…”

The muse arches an eyebrow. “… what you usually do?”

My face contorts. My stomach hurts. She’s going to make me do a real launch. My little introverted self squirms at the thought. “Do I have to?”

“I’m not forcing you to eat a goblin’s heart.” She rolls her eyes and takes Jacqui’s tooth-marked book. “Jacqui does great launches. Run it by her. If you do half of what she does, it will be ten times more than your usual.”

“But she’s good at everything.” I slump, my head sliding down between my shoulders. “She’s so organized.”

My muse looks as sympathetic as a stump. “The next time you see me, we’ll discuss a new book. It’s up to you to finish this series up and give it your best. Ask for help.”

With that, she takes the monkey’s hand and clomps down the stairs. I get up and peek out the window. The monkey vanishes in the sunlight. My muse turns to wave and shifts into her next shape, the one that will invade my space in a few months with fresh inspiration…

***

Thank you to everyone who signed up. I’m so grateful for your kindness and generosity.

 

 

 

Liars and Thieves Trailer

After a day of preparing for a launch, my brain shuts down, and I relax by playing with images and music.

After all the long posts, lately. I hope you enjoy this short one.

Liars and Thieves, the 1st book of the Unraveling the Veil series, is available for Preorder at $.99.

I hope you enjoyed the show.

 

 

Talin, a Changeling

Liars and Thieves, the 1st book in the Unraveling the Veil series, is in the final stages of… everything. Lol.

I introduced two of my main characters: Naj’ar, a goblin here, and Alue, an elf here.

To finish off the trio, here’s a peek at Talin, my changeling. He starts this snippet as a jackal. I hope you enjoy!

Talin sat on the smooth stone and scratched. Other than the vermin infesting his coat, the afternoon had progressed with minimal effort. He’d shift into his familiar self and bathe, then seek a meal of roots or greens. Something edible that didn’t include voles and other Borderland rodents. He could do without ingesting any more hair, bones, and all the other peripheral disgustingness that accompanied the gobbling down of wild meat.

He raised his nose, nostrils twitching at a new scent. The scruff on his neck and shoulders bristled.

A cat. A wild one.

Changelings didn’t stalk changelings, and something big and stealthy lurked in the jungle. He leapt from the sunlight, slipped through a natural trellis of twisted vines, and spent hours evading the panther that had sniffed him out. Exasperation surrendered into a growing sense of urgency. Head down, ears alert, he bounded over a stream and between the stilts that supported the railway spur in its treacherous descent. Already too long in jackal form, he was overdue to shift. And shifting presented some serious drawbacks.

Nose to the ground, he found the path he sought, and by twilight reached one of the tree-stands that peppered the Reaches. The ladder would present a challenge, but if he could manage it, the stand would likely save his life.

He circled the base of the tree, seeking a cache of buried crystals, and found none. Another obstacle. With a huff, he scanned the shadowed growth and tasted the air for unwelcome predators. Langur monkeys crept along the upper branches, and a shy loris blinked at him with pooled eyes, but no cats prowled the area. Poisonous snakes slithering in the trees would be the greatest threat, but there wasn’t much he could do about them. He sat on his haunches and closed his eyes.

He called up his human pattern. A cold shiver accompanied the brutal constellation of pain that sparked deep in his bones. The transformation would require only minutes, but after so long in a borrowed form, it would feel like hours.

The skeletal changes came first. He sank to his knees as his oblong skull crushed inward at the muzzle and bulged in the cranium. His neck compressed. Shoulder blades and ribcage shrank while hip bones expanded and rearranged their connections to fibulae and spine. His tail withered into a pointed coccyx deep within his flesh.

The air around him froze as he drew mass from the trees and ground to accommodate his larger size. A ring of frost crept outward from his contorting feet. Arm and leg bones elongated, and he gritted his teeth as the bones in his front paws shattered, seven pieces reforming into the twenty-seven of his human hand. He curled into a ball, breathless, as his elbows, knees, all his joints and cartilage switched to accommodate altered movement. The intensity of his pain weakened as his skeleton took its final shape and the rest of his internal mechanisms rippled into alignment.

His skin shifted last. Hair altered its texture, fine on his bronze limbs, scratchy on his jaw. Long and dark on his head.

As the ache inside him faded and his sweat cooled, the air returned to its familiar sticky humidity. His heart rate slowed. Strength spent, he could barely move, unconsciousness luring him into a dreamless sleep. Naked, he rolled to his hands and knees and rung by rung, hoisted himself up the ladder.

“Death would be easier than this.” He chuckled like a tipsy drunk. At the top, he collapsed, his legs still propped on the ladder.

Good enough, he surrendered to sleep.

Coming Soon!

Alue, an Elf

The first book of my Unraveling the Veil trilogy is with beta readers. Woot woot. So, if all goes well, I’m on target for… um… August?  Gulp. That date makes my stomach hurt.

I introduced Naj’ar, my goblin, with a little snippet – Here.

Well, here’s a little peek at Alue, my elf.

***

The Devil’s Owl occupied a basement in the Ten’s Thrift District known for its tanneries and crude smelting operations, poisonous reek and lung-killing smoke. She paused in the gloom at the top of the littered stairs leading down below the street. The night had cooled. Stars pricked holes in the obsidian sky, and crickets chirped in a forsaken lot of tumbled walls.

The canteen’s whispered reputation suggested it was a place frequented by goblin smugglers, collared changelings, and elves with nothing to lose. It was a place to purchase stolen crystals.

She chewed on a lip and weighed the risks of entering. Even more so, her chances of getting out. She’d dressed in dark gray dahn, a long black shirt, and open vest, her hair tightly braided and tucked into a scarf. A light smudge of kohl hollowed her cheeks, lending her the starved appearance of an addict, and she’d drawn dull bruises around her eyes.

Teeth gritted, she adjusted the knife at her hip and descended the steps. A rap on the weathered door cracked it open, and a goblin’s charcoal face filled the slit. A lemon-yellow eye appraised her.

“I need to make a purchase,” she said.

“What of?”

“None of your business.”

“We haven’t seen you here before.”

“Because I’ve never been here. I usually don’t patronize dumps.” The goblin reached through the gap. She jerked back, and his sharp claws missed her scarf. “And if you touch me, I’ll cut off your fingers.”

The goblin bared a row of serrated teeth, returning the threat.

“Let her in, Tak,” someone said from the murky cave within. Tak stepped aside, and the dim room beckoned. The dank and ripe stink of unwashed bodies and spilled keva wrinkled her nose, and she sucked in a breath through her mouth.

“You coming in?” The goblin grabbed her arm and yanked her inside, closing the door behind her. She twisted out of his grip with an agility that caught him off guard, her knife tip pointed up under his scarred chin. He loomed over her, one long ear swept back and twitching, the other missing. Muscles bunched in his shoulders.

She growled into his surprised face, “I wasn’t kidding about the fingers.”

“Fast for an addict.”

“Who said I was an addict?” She lowered her knife and her voice. “I’m looking for crystals.”

The goblin’s nocturnal eyes reflected the muted light. He pointed with his chin to a corner. “Over there.” He bent down, his long nose almost pressed to her ear. “You’re not fooling anyone, elf. Get what you need and get out.”

Alue stepped back, nodded, and headed for the threesome. A bearded changeling with a collar delivered mugs of keva to his companions—a pale goblin and dark-haired elf. They leaned over their table while a glowing sphere twirled on the elf’s fingertips. He was photokinetic, like her, but with a trickster’s talent, and handsome compared to the other lowlifes that drank and gambled in the canteen’s alcoves. He rolled the sphere over the back of his hand, into his palm, back up to his fingertips, never losing contact. The movement seemed effortless, without thought, his attention focused on his companions and their conversation. She strolled up to the table and plucked the light from its perch. The orb remained bright in her palm.

The elf’s companions stiffened, but he cupped a hand and formed another sphere that popped to his fingertips. “Beware who you rob.”

Naj’ar, a Goblin.

I took a last-minute break to finish the 5th draft of my trilogy: Unraveling the Veil. Phew. Done. Now I can celebrate start my next draft. Yay! Ugh!

This project has been in the works for 2 years, and I plan to start publishing in May August if all goes well.

I thought I’d share a slightly-condensed intro to my WIP’s main characters, starting with Naj’ar, a goblin. I hope you enjoy the read.

 

Bats squeaked in the blackness, and an enduring cold leached from the walls. Neither troubled Naj’ar. His kind were accustomed to the leather-winged company, and his muscled frame, though half-elven, tolerated the chill almost as well as the purebloods. A shaggy fur draped his shoulders as he navigated the tunnelways beneath the mountain.

Ragged veins of quartz glimmered in the rock’s wet crevices, their latent power spiraling as if they’d captured wisps of cloud. Their faint glow cast angular shadows. Yet, the reflective surfaces of his eyes granted him the vision to lope through the crude passageways with sure feet.

The ground shook, and he paused, a hand reaching into the void for balance. Curved fingernails scraped a wall. Grains of igneous rock sifted from the ceiling. The tunnels to the peaks meandered in a labyrinth of forks, crumbling stairways, and long sloped passages, familiar to him though he’d never labored in the upper mines. His interest lay in the Veil and the hidden world that lay beyond.

Na’jar, a goblin

A pragmatic people, goblins rarely indulged in fantasy. But legends hinted of a hallowed land, the birthplace of the First where only the brave and just found welcome. Others speculated that behind the shimmering wall lay the answers to the secrets of eternity. Its allure tugged at his curiosity, a barbed thorn hooked in his mind, impossible to pry loose.

His feet slid, and his fingernails dug into the ice varnishing the slanted floor. Ice within the mountain? He frowned, gray skin prickling. The air froze on the walls in a glassy rime. The crust of frost thickened. Clouds formed with each breath, and for the first time, the frigid chill seeped into his bones. He sniffed the downy scents of snow and earth mingled with something new—the electric tang of power.

Bent in a crouch, he pressed forward. At the end of a winding incline, beyond the frame of winter’s brambles, a sinister light forced his yellow eyes to narrow. The snow-laced peaks sawed at the sky. And behind them, the Veil beckoned.

He toiled uphill. Bare feet crunched through frozen drifts. A white wind howled from the heights, and the curtain shimmered through gaps in the storm-bourn snow, a sheet of silver light, shuddering and bulging. Lightning crackled and ribboned through a lace of arteries and veins as if it were a monstrous creature hovering at the edge of the world.

Ears swept back, hands and feet numb, Naj bent against the blow. He trudged upward, determined to reach the ridge. Ice caked his face, sparkled on his lashes. The air hissed with electricity. The distinctive odor of ozone, both clean and burned, wrinkled his nose.

The Veil splintered. A blast of power flung him backward.

He tumbled down the steep slope, hurled into a black and white slide of rock and snow, past the tunnelway’s entrance. With a breathless gasp, he clambered to his feet and climbed for the mountain’s shelter. A second explosion slammed him to his back. Colossal shards of light shot outward, streaking through the storm. He covered his face with an arm. The snow and stone lost its grip on the mountainside, burying him alive. He clawed and kicked free of his icy tomb and scrambled over the sliding terrain.

Then the wind died. Snow and rock rumbled to stillness. The Veil began to weave itself together, threads swiftly stitching across the ether, reconnecting and patching the jagged wounds. The blizzard transformed into rain, slackened to a lazy drizzle, then evaporated before it mottled the ground. Sunshine lanced through gashes in a rapidly mutating sky. Snow vanished in a hot fog and then the fog too burned away.

The Veil thinned and solidified, releasing the energetic mass that had fortified it against the storm. Naj hastened for the tunnel entrance, his soles pained by the hot stones. Tufts of grass, moments before buried in ice, began to smolder. He dove into the warming passageway, rolled to his feet, and dashed into the blackness.

***

Thanks for reading!