TWISTED MAGIC is finally (almost) here! Releasing on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, the book is available for preorder now – including in print!
Their love makes them stronger together… Unless the world rips them apart
Jadren El-Adrel knows he’s a mess. He’s a cobbled-together monster pretending to be a wizard, still unable to master the magic that makes him pretty much immortal and is useless for anything else. Though he’s tried to learn to work with his familiar, Seliah, he’s still terrified to discover what might happen if he gives himself full access to the depths of her powerful magic. Some questions should never be answered.
Seliah Phel got her happy ever after. Jadren loves her; they’re together in a safe and beautiful place; and they’re finally learning to work together as wizard and familiar. But even she must recognize that Jadren continues to stew in his black moods, brooding that only worsens when he receives a missive from home, his horrible family demanding the unthinkable: that they both return to House El-Adrel.
As the denizens of House Phel fight an increasingly pitched battle against the enemies determined to destroy them forever, Jadren and Selly fight their own war—against the past and to overcome their own failings. To become truly stronger together.
And yes, there will another trilogy in this world! I haven’t set dates yet, or even titled the trilogy, but I hope to have all three out in 2024. Stay tuned!
I’m working away on TWISTED MAGIC! The preorder links are mostly live. (I use Smashwords to distribute to Apple and Scribd. They flagged the book because I used the keyword “adult,” saying I must categorize it as erotica. Which, it isn’t. I meant adult fantasy as opposed to YA fantasy, but apparently adult means erotic now and I can’t even.) Anyway, you can preorder pretty much everywhere now.
And, because you all have been waiting so patiently, here is a snippet from the book in progress 🙂
Jadren heaved a sigh and rolled his head back, staring at the ceiling. “If I were to hazard a guess, which I apparently am being coerced into doing, I’d say that she means she thinks I ran away only as a bargaining chip. She won’t believe that I don’t truly want, in the charred cinder of my withered heart, to be Lord El-Adrel after her. Katica can’t conceive of anyone not wanting her power. She’s used that to play her heirs against each other all these years.”
“Do you?” Selly asked.
He lifted his head and gazed at her. Blinked, long and slow. “Do I want to be Lord El-Adrel? Dark arts, no! What would possess you to even ask such a question?”
“It’s a reasonable question,” she answered, studying him.
“Not unless you think I’m enough of a monster that I want to become my mother,” he spat back.
“See, that’s not a reasonable answer. You can head your house without becoming your mother.”
“Oh, and I suppose you believe I should follow the example of the sainted Gabriel, Lord of House Phool?” he sneered. “If my choices are to become a tyrannical megalomaniac or an idealistic idiot merrily leading my house to doom, or a passive/aggressive wannabe like Chaim Refoel, then I’ll take option D: none of the above.”
“Or,” she retorted, “you could make the role your own. You’re not one of your mother’s automatons, plodding along mindlessly in the footsteps of others. If you became Lord El-Adrel, you could make the house over into what you want it to be.”
He curled a lip. “Why, Seliah—have you been harboring a secret desire to become Lady El-Adrel? Perhaps all that half-feral swamp beast behavior of yours has been a cover for a heart that quietly yearns for the power and glory of a high house.”
“Be nice,” she warned him. “You know I don’t care about heading a high house and, for the record, I don’t care if you are Lord El-Adrel or not. But I think your people deserve better. And,” she added after a moment, “the house deserves better.”
“The house is a house. She doesn’t deserve anything. She can’t, because she’s not a person.”
“Then why do you talk about her like a person instead of an ‘it’?”
“Because she’s a right bitch,” he observed without rancor. “You saw what she did to us.”
“She helped us to escape,” Selly replied remorselessly. “Besides, I think she wants you to be Lord El-Adrel.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m not letting an over-magicked dwelling make life choices for me.”
Yes, oh my lovelies: I completed the final proofing of ROGUE FAMILIAR this morning and will have it uploaded everywhere tomorrow for release on Monday, April 24.
Cue the rejoicing!!!
And, since this is coincidentally (OR NOT???) spring promo week here at the SFF Seven, it’s actually apropos for me to be mentioning this book. I know a lot of you have been waiting for something like mumble mumble two months mumble for this book. All I can offer is….
Now you can haz!
He left to save her from herself… But who will save him from her?
When Lady Seliah Phel wakes from a drugged sleep to find herself abandoned by her newly bonded wizard, she vows revenge—and to hunt him down. Tracking him through the familiar wilds of the marshlands of her home is the easy part; learning to use her nascent magical skills is something else entirely. So is facing the vast, uncaring society of the Convocation in a time of brewing war.
Jadren El-Adrel is not known for doing the right thing, but getting as far away from Seliah as possible before he drains her dry will be his one noble gesture. So what if she weeps a few tears. Better than her dying in his service—or enabling him to become the ravenous beast that crawls beneath his skin. Unfortunately, in his self-imposed exile, and without the power of his familiar, Jadren quickly runs afoul of the enemy.
As her vengeful quest for recapture becomes a rescue mission, Selly faces all she still doesn’t know about the greater world of wizards and familiars. And Jadren, once determined to walk his own path and stay far, far away from the idealistic fools of House Phel, finds himself aligning with them against the house of his birth. War is coming to the Convocation, which means a clever wizard should pick the side most likely to win.
Sadly, Jadren has never been all that clever…
As a special treat, here’s a little excerpt:
It wasn’t as if magic made logical sense at the best of times anyway. Closing his eyes, trying to screen out the worry that he hadn’t heard Seliah’s heart beat in far too long—you wouldn’t be able to hear it from here anyway, idiot—he let his fingers drift over the gadgets. Waiting for one to speak to him. As if a metal doohickey could speak.
You’re wasting time, his inner voice observed. Wasting what little life Seliah has left.
I’m not. She wouldn’t survive a trip to find a healer. She might not survive the next few minutes.
At least finding a healer has a chance of working.
An infinitesimally small chance.
Still a non-zero chance, whereas this… What are you even thinking? You might as well dance around the bed beseeching the spirits of our ancestors to intervene.
He paused. Is that something people do?
You’re asking me? I am you. I don’t know anything more than you do.
I’m not asking you. I’m wanting you to shut up.
Then shut up.
You shut up! Cursing in frustration, Jadren took his own advice and attempted to quiet his mind. If this had any chance of working—It doesn’t. Shh.—then he needed to give it his all. Quiet mind. Trust his wizard’s intuition. Seliah deserved his best effort.
This week at the SFF Seven we’re talking books! Well, we always talk books, but this time we’re jingling our wares for your delectation. You can find all of my books on my website, of course, but today I’ll focus on a few that are perfect for your midwinter holiday reading pleasure.
The Twelve Days of Christmas were never quite this naughty…
All Matilda Campbell wanted was to spend a romantic and relaxing Christmas in the Mexican Caribbean. When her lover dumps her—at the airport, no less—she decides to go solo. But fate and a well-timed margarita intervene, introducing her to the charming and seductive Miguel D’Oro on the plane.
Miguel offers Tilda an outrageous bargain, involving escalating naughty gifts for each of the twelve days of Christmas. The only rule is that she must accept what he gives her and what he tells her to do, or face a sensual punishment. Giving up control is just what Tilda is looking for, so she impulsively agrees.
As Tilda embraces a newfound freedom in abandoning herself to pleasure and Miguel’s demands, she only wonders what will happen when the holiday is over…
At long last, Jakral Konyngrr—lowly sailor, gambler, and sometime rogue—has won the heart and hand of Princess Stella of Avonlidgh. Never mind that Stella’s mother is determined to make their wedding the event of the century, he’s happy to endure any trial to marry the love of his life and his guiding star. Very soon they can sail away together into the rest of their lives. Unfortunately the wedding becomes delayed for several months, until midwinter.
Stella—sorceress, empath, and bearer of the mark of the Tala—has been through great trials. But nothing has tested her as sorely as her passionate and flamboyant mother planning their wedding. Even Jak’s steady love and companionship isn’t enough as Stella finds herself crumbling under the pressure of being snowbound in a castle with the press of so many minds and emotions. When she lashes out, she hits the worst possible target, jeopardizing her chances for happiness.
With several kingdoms and a former enemy empire bearing down on them, Jak and Stella’s wedding on the longest night of year might not happen at all… Unless they can create their own happy ever after.
It’s holiday time at Convocation Academy, but best friends Han and Iliana are finding it hard to celebrate. As a familiar, Iliana is facing her assignment to a life of servitude to a wizard, very soon. And Han… despite being tested by the oracle daily, he is still uncategorized. As Iliana and Han face being separated forever, they at last find the courage—or desperation—to break the rules and acknowledge their deeper feelings for each other. But it will take more than true love to save them from the laws of the Convocation…
It’s release day for SHADOW WIZARD!! My audiobook narrator says it’s her favorite so far, so that’s awesome. I’m also talking about taking audiobooks wide vs. ACX exclusive and which platforms I’m using and how.
SHADOW WIZARD releases tomorrow!! Preorder price of $4.99 will be good into tomorrow, then it goes up. (Along with my grocery bill, alas!) The audiobook is being recorded now and should be available in about 2 weeks.
This week at the SFF Seven, we’re asking: Do you have an iconic scene that inspires your writing?
I think most of my stories arise from certain pivotal images. For most every book I’ve written, I can almost certainly identify what the core image was. It’s more than visual, however, and feels more like a snippet of a moment: a character in a situation. For a long time I have had an iconic scene. I started drawing it when was a little girl and it’s found its way into any number of stories over the years. I’ve never quite felt like I fully wrote the story of it, though it’s haunted me less recently, so maybe I’ve come close enough for it to leave me alone.
A woman stands on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Waves rise in whitecaps, dashing themselves against the rocks below. A wind off the water blows back her hair and gown. She’s waiting… Perhaps for an enemy to arrive on her shores? That’s my usual feeling. Sometimes a large wolfhound is with her. Sometimes I think she’s a sorceress, other times a queen.
If you’ve read a lot of my books, you’ll probably recognize ways that this scene appears in various forms. I might’ve finally worked it out of my system with the Forgotten Empires trilogy, although it still didn’t feel precisely like that iconic scene. Maybe I’ll wend my way back to it someday!
For the time-being, however, I’ve been in the marshes and woodlands with the denizens of the Renegades of Magic world. SHADOW WIZARD takes us to a new high house (if you’re familiar with the Bonds of Magic trilogy), and increasingly wild adventures. In this book, this snippet of a scene is one of my favorites:
She flung herself against him, embracing him with fierce tenacity, face buried against his neck, her chin digging rather sharply against his collarbone. For a slender, barely-there wraith, Seliah possessed a surprising amount of tensile strength. And she smelled of water in the moonlight, her tough, tense, thin little body vibrating with spiky silver magic, her breasts surprisingly—and distractingly—soft and full pressed against his chest. He couldn’t help a tiny fantasy of how it would feel to be buried inside that intensity, to have that passionate body surging against his, embracing and engulfing.
It’s never going to happen, he told himself firmly.
Are you sure? part of him whispered back slyly.
Yes. Ruthlessly banishing the image, he refused to touch her any more than he already had. Holding his hands out, even more awkward than ever, he kind of waved them around as he waited for the hug to end.
It didn’t. Instead she held on, a buzzing bundle of intoxicating magic and tempting woman. Jadren tried patting her back, thinking maybe that would satisfy her enough to encourage her to go away, but she only purred, snuggling closer, like a cat who’d found the one cat-hater in the room and had no greater goal in life than encamping on his lap forever.
Our topic this week at the SFF Seven involves our non-writing hobbies.
In various discussions around burn-out and sustainably productive writing habits, I’ve discovered that many professional authors (as in, getting paid to do it) have another creative outlet that is non-monetized. Ted Kooser, a U.S. Poet Laureate (1004-1006), told me that he painted as a hobby. His paintings were apparently glorious and much-sought, but he’d made the decision to only give them away. It was important to him to have a creative outlet that wasn’t connected to money. This was a startling thought to me at the time, and one I’ve come back to often.
Other authors I’ve talked with in various scenarios have also discovered that approach: that having a non-monetized creative outlet not only refills the well, but prevents burnout (or allows a creator to recover from it).
What happens to many of us – and I’m speaking of authors, but I imagine it happens with all creatives – is that we begin with writing as the hobby. It’s the passion, the special something that we do because we LOVE it. Eventually, with persistence, hard work, and luck, we make that hobby into the profession. Then it’s no longer the alternative to the day job and other responsibilities. It’s become work.
Which, let me be clear, is good and natural. I’m a big believer in treating writing like my job. That’s how I support myself and my family.
Still, to manage the creative self, I’ve found I need other outlets to refill the well and take the place of that other, special, and relaxing Thing. Keeping it non-monetized is the challenge. Especially since the pandemic began, I think we’ve all become adept at casting about for side-gigs. In fact, the gig-culture was going strong before that. It’s tempting to take that successful hobby – I imagine Ted Kooser’s friends admiring a painting, offering money for it, and him turning it down with a slight smile and shake of his head – and begin to dream of taking that art viral and making an avalanche of comforting money from it.
I sometimes think there’s a certain magic in refusing that temptation, in enjoying creativity for its own sake.
Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is our favorite reader interaction.
Once we get past the fact that ANY AND ALL positive reader interactions are a balm to every writer, then we come to the inevitable truth that the more recent ones spring to mind first. I am so blessed to have each and every one of you out there sending me happy messages about my books. I treasure each and every one, I really do.
But I’m going to pick a recent one that really thrilled me because of the unusual source. You’ll see what I mean when you read it, but I can preface by saying this was from a new friend, a guy my age(ish), who bought DARK WIZARD to be nice. He was in town visiting and bought a hard copy to support me and my local indie bookstore. I seriously never expected him to read it.
Then I got this email:
I, at last, had time to read “Dark Wizard” over the weekend and I was so impressed!
It’s totally not my sub-genre, and would never consider reading the book if someone gave me a plot summary, but it is so well executed and such a page-turner – I was really sucked in. And, despite myself, I want to read the rest of the trilogy. What really amazes me, is that you have such an extensive bibliography – you must be writing very fast – but the quality is so high – no idea how you do it.
Is there anything better than converting a reluctant reader? Not in my book! (lol)
This week at the SFF Seven we’re sharing newsletter info and promoting work. For those feeling hesitant to promote their books during this terrible time, I’ll remind you – as I’ve been reminded – that art brings us joy and books open minds. When we’re dealing with close-minded bigots, hatred, and war, we need stories more than ever. We provide the counterbalance. Please share about your books, because the world needs them.
His Darkness, Her Brightness… Together They Defy the World
Lord Gabriel Phel at last holds his dream in his grasp—and faces losing everything. He’s finally won the love of his wife, familiar, and mother of his child, and she offers him a heartfelt commitment he can truly believe in. Together they’re building a true house, one with a growing family of friends and allies that can help them stand against their enemies. And he’s learning to master his magic, to use it as the powerful tool and weapon it should be. But old and new enemies array themselves to take it all away.
Lady Veronica, now fully of House Phel, is doing her best to embrace happiness. After all, she has her hands full managing her mercurial and powerful wizard as he navigates taking his place as the head of their house, and with learning her own extraordinary ability. But she fears whatever peace they win won’t last long. When their enemies inevitably strike—including, perhaps, her own father—they must be ready to defend all they hold precious. It doesn’t help that her idealistic husband insists on making foolishly noble decisions that put them at even greater risk, nor that she loves him all the more for it.
As Nic and Gabriel struggle to put their household in order, giving ill-advised safe harbor to Nic’s runaway sister and risking their lives to save Gabriel’s sister’s sanity, their enemies draw the noose tighter on their well laid plans. When the unthinkable occurs, it’s up to both of them to trust in the nascent, unknown magic they’ve woven together.
If you’re into audiobooks, you can listen to the first in this series, DARK WIZARD. Books 2 & 3 will be out on audio soon! Comment on this post and I’ll pick one person to receive a promo code (US only, not my fault) for a free copy of the DARK WIZARD audiobook!