New release: Entangled by Midsummer!

Jamie Ferguson’s contemporary fantasy novel, Entangled by Midsummer, is now available!


 
 
Bound by betrayal, entangled in enchantment.

Mark is living a selkie’s worst nightmare: the enchanted skin that lets him turn into a seal has been stolen by his wily human lover. Now he’s trapped on land, slowly losing his mind as his chances to return to the sea slip away.

His only hope? A faery woman named Merenna.

But Merenna has her own problems. She’s hiding in the mortal world to escape the most dangerous lord of Faerie—a man whose ambitions would make her his bride and his pawn. Now his minions have caught up to her, and Mark finds himself entangled in the deadly power games of faeries.

It will take every bit of skill, cunning, and luck Mark and Merenna possess just to stay ahead of their pursuers. The net of intrigue closes in around them as Midsummer approaches—a time when vast forces align, sinister plans come to fruition, and destiny itself can be rewritten.

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Excerpt

It must have been years, maybe even decades, since anyone else had been up in the attic of Katy’s house on the Oregon coast—which made it the perfect place for Mark to hide the thing that mattered more to him than anything else in the world—his sealskin.

Mark pulled himself up off the last rung of the rickety ladder that led from the second story of the little Victorian. He was happy to be on the much more reliable attic floor. Dust sparkled in the beam of sunlight that shone through the tiny window in the gable. He wiped his hands on his jeans and tried not to sneeze.

The airy space was filled with a random assortment of things: dried flowers, a large collection of umbrellas, rolled-up rugs, piles of clothes and blankets, a child’s high chair, a wooden trunk. Everything was covered with a layer of dust. The dust was so thick he couldn’t clearly make out his previous footprints on the floor, even though he’d walked across it less than a month before.

Mark had had a fun few weeks with Katy since he’d met her at the end of May, but it was only a few days until Midsummer, and he was ready to move on. He wanted to get up to the aquarium in Seattle by July, and there were a lot of seaside spots to visit along the way.

Besides, sooner or later she’d get too attached, and there was no way he could possibly tell her he was a selkie.

The old pine boards creaked as he walked across the attic. His flip-flops made soft smacking sounds on the wood floor, and dust rose up from his footsteps like little puffs of smoke. A seagull cawed outside, its cry muffled by the thick walls. The faint sound of the waves on the other side of the cliff was familiar and comforting.

He itched to spend a few days in his seal form. He hadn’t worn it since the day he’d met Katy. And it had been far too long since he’d felt the sea’s embrace.

It had all started in Newport at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. He had been in the pinniped enclosure discussing the usual topics with the seals, things like whether or not the water temperature was to their liking, what kinds of fish were they being fed, where they’d hid the toy a kid had dropped in their pen the other day. Mark hated that he couldn’t free them, hated that his cousins had to stay penned up, but he knew if he did help them escape, other seals would only be captured in their stead. So he spent time every year visiting aquariums along the western coast to make sure the seals and sea lions were being treated well.

Then Katy had come up to him. She’d said she was a botanist doing research with the aquarium, and that she liked to look at the seals—but Mark knew women, and he knew why she had really stopped. She had the red curls of a temptress, wore a blue sweater that was tight in just the right places, and her smile promised fun. She’d been easy to charm—as they always were.

He’d spent that night at her house, and hid his sealskin in her attic the next day. He’d only planned to stay a few days, but had found Katy to be quite fun. If it hadn’t been for the itch of the sea, he might have stayed even longer.

Mark reached the pile of blankets and coats and sweaters he’d hidden his skin in. It was about the size of a down comforter, and weighed quite a bit more than any blanket. He smiled as he knelt down and began to rummage through them, the musty scent of old fabric tickling his nose. It was going to feel so good to be back in the water. Swimming in his human form just wasn’t the same.

He pulled the last blanket aside, the plaid wool rough against his skin.

The bare wooden floor stared back at him.

No sealskin.

He must have missed it. He pressed his lips together. He went through the pile again, pulling every piece out one by one and placing it on the floor.

But his sealskin wasn’t there.

Mark sat back on his heels, chills running down his back.

He took a deep breath, stood up, and looked around. There must be another stack of blankets. The attic was filled to the gills with crap. He must have put it somewhere else. He must have.

Except he knew he hadn’t. It was part of him. He always knew exactly where he’d hidden it. He’d put it right here, in the northwest corner of the attic, in the pile with the green argyle sweater on top.

Mark stood as still as if he were frozen, all the old tales coming back to him about female selkies having their skins stolen, and then being forced to marry human men and never return to the sea.

That couldn’t be him.

That wouldn’t be him.

He must have moved it. Or perhaps he’d put it behind a box, or under the umbrellas, and had merely forgotten.

He searched the next pile, then the next, throwing winter coats, faded dresses made of taffeta and lace, and multi-colored afghans aside. Clouds of dust filled the air and tickled the back of his throat. He ripped open box after box, threw the umbrellas across the room, shook out every blanket. He tossed the contents of the old trunk onto the floor. He scoured the room, moving faster and faster, leaving a trail of clutter in his wake. He smacked his head on the low beams, but barely noticed. He pulled down the dried flowers and herbs that hung from the rafters, unrolled the old rugs, flung aside shirts, dresses, shoes, went through every bag and box and stack and pile.

Where was it? It was his!

It was him.

And without it, he could never return to the sea.

Finally, he fell to his hands and knees on the pine floor, his face wet with tears. His breath came in huge gasps, and his T-shirt clung to his sweat-drenched body.

He knelt there, his head hanging down, until his breathing slowed. Empty cardboard boxes, rumpled newspapers, and old clothing littered the room. He pushed himself to his feet, wiped his face on his shirt, and walked back across the room to the attic hatch. Dried leaves crunched under his flip-flops. He climbed down the ladder, lifted the folding steps back up toward the ceiling, and pressed the door shut. A few stray pieces of paper had fallen through the hole, so he picked them up and put them in the recycling bin in the kitchen. He grabbed his packed duffle bag up from next to the front door, put his things back in the bedroom closet, and waited for Katy to come home.

That evening over dinner, he said, “I’ve lost something in the house. A kind of coat.”

Katy smiled, and said, “I know.”

Find Jamie

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Find Entangled by Midsummer

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Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 4

Midwinter Fae, the second volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries, brings you nineteen tales of magic, beauty, wonder…and sometimes danger, as the Fae can be unpredictable, and follow their own rules.

Midwinter Fae is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

The Interview

Part 4 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

  • Jamie Ferguson, author of “The Kiss of the Horned God”
  • Marcelle Dubé, author of “Midwinter Run”
  • Dayle A. Dermatis, author of “The Madness of Survival”

What do you enjoy about weaving elements from mythology, legends, and folklore in your own writing?

Jamie Ferguson
I love reading stories that incorporate elements from mythology, legends, and folklore…so I enjoy writing the kinds of stories I want to read. 🙂 It’s really fun to take something from mythology, or a traditional fairy tale, and put my own twist on it.

Marcelle Dubé
I like incorporating stories from myth, legend or folklore into my own French-Canadian traditions, just to see what will happen. I especially like exploring how “modern” humans would react if they encountered these creatures from myth. I love hearing the echoes of these stories rolling down the centuries.

Dayle A. Dermatis
Mythology, legends, and folklore are based on fundamental truths, stories, and energy from time immemorial. We each interpret them in different ways, but the fact that the same stories appear in wildly different cultures at roughly the same time, when those people had no known contact with one another, has to give you pause and make you think.

As a writer, I walk the line between telling lies/making stuff up and searching for the universal truths and connections between people. Exploring myths and legends allows me to do both.

What do you find most interesting about the mythology/folklore associated with Midwinter?

Jamie Ferguson
We lived in West Germany and the Netherlands when I was a kid, and would go to Christmas markets (Christkindlmärkte) every year. It felt like a magical time, walking around in the cold, with lights sparkling, decorations hanging, and enjoying festive food and drink while admiring all of the fun and beautiful things for sale. Our family also incorporated some of the traditions of where we lived, like that of leaving out our shoes the evening of December 5th for Saint Nicholas (aka our parents) to put little gifts in.

Midwinter feels like a magical time to me, which I think is mostly because of the festive, sparkling, exciting feeling I always had at this time of year when I was growing up. It’s probably also because in northern Europe, our days were short. My sisters and I would wait for the school bus in the dark and come home in the dark, so the increase in the amount of daylight was a very tangible thing for us.

Midwinter is a turning point, where the days begin to lengthen. Imagine what it must have been like for the ancients to celebrate the arrival of the winter solstice at one of the henges or monuments which were built to align with the solar cycle. That yearly reminder that winter would (eventually) end, and that you wouldn’t run out of food or fuel, must have been exciting—and comforting.

To me, the most interesting parts of the mythology around Midwinter deal with the risk that winter might not end after all—the battle between the Holly and Oak kings, the robin and the wren, the Horned God dying and then being reborn at Midwinter. We now know that winter will always end, but imagine how mystical and magical this must have seemed to people thousands of years ago?

Marcelle Dubé
The idea of a time of year where the veil between the world of the living and that of the dead thins is fascinating. I really like the idea of the two worlds crossing over. Of the various stories that come to us from folklore and mythology, I really like the one about the Wild Hunt, in which a spectral leader rides at the head of a host of faerie, or spirits, or men mounted on wild horses, accompanied by black hounds with red, rolling eyes, to the sound of howling, pounding hooves and fierce winds.

It’s thrilling. Terrifying. But wouldn’t you want to see it for yourself?

Nobody’s sure what they’re chasing—is it a beast? A man? The spirits of the dead? Does it matter? All we know is to hide when we hear them coming—hide and hope they don’t come after us.

So, knowing all this, what kind of woman would deliberately taunt the Wild Hunt into helping her? A desperate one.

Dayle A. Dermatis
Turning of the Wheel, from dark to light. We’ve lost the focus on seasons, and are expected to work the same jobs no matter what. But autumn will always be harvest, and winter will always be about family, hearth, and home, and the time to work on indoor projects.

Mythology and fairy tales often incorporate aspects from the locale in which they originated. For example, selkies appear in folktales from the Northern Isles of Scotland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland. Is there an area of the world that you particularly enjoy including in your writing, whether from a mythological aspect, a geographical one, or both?

Jamie Ferguson
There are two main areas that I really enjoy incorporating in my writing: Celtic mythology and folklore, and what I’ll loosely refer to as Mediterranean geography and mythology.

I’ve loved Celtic mythology since I was a kid, and still love reading stories that include elements of it, so it’s not surprising that I also enjoy incorporating this in my own writing. The more research I’ve done on Celtic mythology and folklore for my own stories, the more I realize how many interesting variants there are that I either don’t know much about, or never heard of before. For example, Cù, the faery dog in my novel Entangled by Midsummer, is very loosely based off the mythological Cù-sìth, which I vaguely remembered from different stories I’d read over the years. In researching Cù-sìth for my story I came across the folklore of the black dog, and after one look at that Wikipedia entry I realized just how many different tales and legends there are, and how much they can vary from place to place. I now feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, and have lots more to learn about Celtic mythology—and a lot more stories to write!

I also enjoy writing stories set in the ancient Mediterranean. I’ve written one short story set on the Aeolian Islands around 1500 BC, and am currently working on a novel that begins in Pompeii—in A.D. 79, of course, right before Vesuvius erupted. 🙂 The appeal includes the geography, climate, food, etc. of the Mediterranean as well as some of the mythology. I also find some of the cultural aspects and the way civilization progressed and changed over time to be really interesting. I’ve also found it fun to write about people who left little or no written records.

Marcelle Dubé
I love the Scandinavian countries and their myths, in particular, myths about trolls. The harshness of the climate juxtaposed against the beauty of the landscape. The hardiness of the inhabitants. The risk of encountering a troll on a lonely path. I imported trolls from Norway to North America in “Troll Country,” in which our intrepid heroine must face the troll who murdered her father when she was a child.

Norway, Sweden, even Iceland… they are similar to Northern Canada, where I live. I guess it’s not much of a stretch to imagine how creatures from the Old World would fare in the New World.

Dayle A. Dermatis
I’ve been interested (okay, obsessed) with Wales since I was a wee lass. The Taran Wanderer series, the Welsh-based books in The Dark is Rising sequence, and possibly others I’ve forgotten, sparked my desire for more. I studied in Chester, England, in college, and visited north Wales; and then I had the opportunity to live in south Wales for four years.

I find all of the British Isles magical in many ways, so that area ends up in my writing quite a bit!

Is there something from a legend, fairy or folk tale, or myth that you haven’t yet used in your writing, but would like to?

Jamie Ferguson
Yes—it’s a long, long list. 🙂

One area I’m really interested in researching and using in my writing is Slovakia. All of my great-grandparents on my mother’s side emigrated from eastern Slovakia in the early 1900s, and not much of the history or folklore made it to my generation. I’d like to learn more, and incorporate this in a story or two at some point.

Marcelle Dubé
There’s an old French-Canadian folk tale called La Chasse-galerie, or The Flying Canoe in English. Some say it’s actually a variation on the The Wild Hunt. The French-Canadian version features a few lumberjacks stuck in camp on New Year’s Eve. They know that back home, there is feasting and dancing, and they miss their loved ones.

They decide to make a pact with the devil to get them home for the night. No slouch, the devil agrees. He produces a magical canoe that will fly them the hundred miles home in no time at all. They must give over their crucifixes and crosses and swear not to speak the name of God on the journey or touch any cross on the church steeples they pass, or they will forfeit their souls.

There are so many ways this can go wrong. But it has French-Canadian lumberjacks, the devil and the risk of losing your immortal soul… that’s hard to resist…

Dayle A. Dermatis
I like taking different culture’s tales and comparing them. I have a note in my idea file about African bug gods and “Beauty and the Beast,” although I don’t yet know where it’s going, exactly.

Another is Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” All of his stories are uncomfortably religious for me, but the fact that the Snow Queen has snowflake bees makes this tale a story I want to explore in a deeper level.

Question for Jamie Ferguson:
In your stories, you play around a lot with the idea that there are opposing forces or opposing characters that represent opposing forces at work in ways that drag other people’s lives around with them. Where do you think that idea comes from? Here, the “opponents,” although not necessarily enemies, are pretty clear cut, but you have other stories where the opposition is much more subtle, and the “defeat” of one force by the other is more of a rebalancing. Do tell!

It’s funny how obvious this kind of thing is after a story is written, but it’s not at all obvious during the actual writing. 🙂 Years ago I realized there is a general theme that consistently pops up in my writing: my characters are confronted with a situation where they can choose to do the right thing—or not. But I also add in complications so it’s not simple. For example, if you knew with complete certainty that helping someone was the right thing to do, would you choose to help them if success meant you yourself would be completely and utterly alone for all eternity? My theory is that this type of thing shows up over and over in my stories because I find the concept of choice so intriguing—and so important.

I hadn’t thought about this as opposing forces, but that’s a good way to put it. In “The Kiss of the Horned God” the “opponents” are representations of summer and winter, and “defeat” is a temporary thing as the battle between the two occurs every Midwinter and Midsummer. In other stories I’ve written it’s more clearly about good versus evil, or right versus wrong, to either a lesser or greater degree depending on the tale I’m telling.

I’ve accepted that this type of thing is going to show up in my writing whether or not I plan it. 🙂

Question for Jamie Ferguson:
In this story, you imply that this isn’t the first time the events of the story have played out. Did you have any other characters in mind for the previous times that these two powerful forces met?

“The Kiss of the Horned God” is set at Midwinter, where there’s a conflict between winter and summer, holly and oak, darkness and light. I didn’t think through the specifics of what might have happened in this world in previous Midwinters, but I did set up this story so that something different happens every year. I also implied that something similar happens every Midsummer…so I’ll just have to write another story set in this world to find out more myself!

Question for Marcelle Dubé:

I already have another story in this world.

In “Midwinter Run” Annalise mentions the time her parents went to Montreal to see the opening of the Great Victoria Bridge. The building of the bridge was crucial to the Fey, who had been trapped on the island of Montreal since they were first tricked into coming there. To say much more about how the Fey came to Canada would spoil too much, but I do tell their story in “Skywalkers.”

Question for Dayle A. Dermatis:
In “The Madness of Survival,” Eva was taken by the Fae when she was a child. Now grown, Eva, and others like her who escaped from Faerie, work to keep other human children from being stolen. What inspired you to not only incorporate motorcycles into this story, but to also include hints that perhaps there’s a little more to the motorcycles than it might appear?

The first niggle of an idea came from the fact that there are Hell’s Angels groups that accompany abused children to their hearings and make a presence in the courtroom. The child is afraid of her abuser, but can look at these burly, confident men to protect them from their abusers and give her the strength to confront them. I love the idea of the “bad” Hell’s Angels doing such kind work.

I think the idea of these broken people who’ve been kidnapped into Faerie and then booted out, and nobody believes them, and they band together, is really compelling. They were screwed up, and yet they can rise above that enough to save other children from the same fate.

My husband and I have traveled a good chunk of the world on a motorcycle. Mercedes Lackey played with the idea of bespelled motorcycles in two of her series, an idea I’ve always loved. That’s where I got the Magical Motorcycle theme for Uncollected Anthology, where this story first appeared.

As for the motorcycles in my story, could they be bespelled fae creatures that accompanied the human survivors when they came home? Maybe…

Find the authors!

Jamie Ferguson

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Marcelle Dubé

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Dayle A. Dermatis

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Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!

Spotlight: “Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver” by Charlotte E. English

Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is a beautiful, engaging tale about curses, predicaments, magic, and love. Pour yourself a glass of ice-wine, grab a cloudy starcake with jelly pearls, and enter the world of Aylfenhame!

In the frozen depths of winter, 1812, Phineas Drake struggles to make ends meet. Wearing away his youth making plum-cakes for the people of Lincoln-on-the-hill, he dreams of a better life.

Out of the faerie realm comes Lady Silver: beautiful, angry—and determined. Desperate to reverse an ancient curse, she will stop at nothing to find the traitor, the hobgoblin Wodebean.

Together, princess and baker’s boy make a formidable team—and so they must, for their quest will take them deep into the lawless depths of the Hollow Hills…

Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Later, when darkness once again shrouded the streets and he had lit all his cheerful candles afresh, he had reason to feel glad that he had declined, and stayed where he was. For the door opened, and in swept a flurry of wind and snow and cold air—and in its midst, the lady of the rose.

She stood framed in the doorway for some time, her eyes eagerly scanning the contents of the room. Those eyes were odd, Phineas noted with dazed interest: hazy silver shaded with grey. Her dress was purple today; some draped velvet confection with a great deal in the way of skirt and sleeve, but not much in the way of warmth. She did not look cold, however, even though snowflakes glittered in the pale mass of her hair. She looked a little flushed, heightened colour blooming in her cheeks. Had she been running again, or was it the eager way in which she surveyed all of Phineas’s decorations that brought the pink glow to her face?

She was beautiful. The word flitted uselessly across Phineas’s thoughts, insufficient to describe the perfect coils of her pale hair; the exquisite features of her pale, perfect face; and those eyes… A glow seemed to hang about her, an air of vibrancy, of energy, of—of—Phineas could not describe it.

He thought, briefly, of the girls he had previously considered comely. Lizzie Batts, and little Jenny Worther… they withered in his imagination, mere weeds to this woman’s glory. Phineas stood with weakened knees, words fleeing from his lips as quickly as he strove to muster them, and said nothing.

— from Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver by Charlotte E. English

About Charlotte

English both by name and nationality, Charlotte hasn’t permitted emigration to the Netherlands to change her essential Britishness (much). She writes colourful fantasy novels over copious quantities of tea, and rarely misses an opportunity to apologise for something. A lifelong history buff and Jane Austen fan, the Tales of Aylfenhame series combines her love of Regency history with her deep appreciation for fantasy, whimsy and magic—and all things fae.

Find Charlotte

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Spotlight: “Faerie Song” by Anthea Sharp

Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales contains stories about magic, music, and the fey. Several of her tales incorporate elements from traditional ballads and songs, and Anthea’s love of music (she plays⁠—and sings!⁠—Celtic music) is evident throughout this beautiful collection.

Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Emer withdrew to the straw-stuffed mattress, but sleep did not come. The clan would go to war in four days. The words echoed in her mind, along with a rising sense of urgency. She must do something. But the chieftain’s daughter did not have the power to command the clan, however much she might wish it.

Wish…

The thought sparked through her, and with it came a rush of hope. She could not change the course the council had decided upon, but she could invoke the old gods. They had the power to avert the coming war.

Some distance beyond the boundaries of her clan’s territory lay a sacred spring. Above the spring a hawthorn tree grew, where for generations people had come to leave their wishes, tied to the branches in the form of cloth strips and long pieces of thread. In all seasons the tree was aflutter with color and movement, the cloth braiding and unbraiding in the wind, the strands dancing in the breeze.

At the wishing tree a girl could perform small magics, beseeching the powers to grant her heart’s desire, whether it be love or vengeance or greed. Or peace.

Above the hawthorn tree rose a hill crowned with a circle of standing stones. It was a place of power, and peril. The old gods slept there, and the Fair Folk were known to dance in the ring. Any mortal who offended them brought trouble down upon her head, and upon her entire clan.

One did not go lightly to the wishing tree.

But go she must, for the specter of war panted at her shoulder like a wolfhound, fierce and insatiable, sharp teeth hungry for her father’s blood.

— from “The Tree of Fate and Wishes” in Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales by Anthea Sharp

About Anthea

Growing up on fairy tales and computer games, Anthea Sharp has melded the two in her award-winning, bestselling Feyland series, which has sold over 150k copies worldwide. In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, she also writes Victorian Spacepunk, and fantasy romance. Her books have won awards and topped bestseller lists, and garnered over a million reads at Wattpad. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction River, DAW anthologies, The Future Chronicles, and Beyond The Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge, as well as many other publications.

Anthea lives in sunny Southern California, where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays Celtic fiddle, and spends time with her small-but-good family.

Find Anthea

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Spotlight: “Faery Prophet” by Leslie Claire Walker

Faery Prophet is the second book in Leslie’s Young Adult series Faery Chronicles. Will the blossoming powers of a faery seer’s apprentice be strong enough to prevent a demon from rising? Or will he lose, and become a demon himself?

The first two books in this series, Faery Novice and Faery Prophet, are available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

“Thanks,” she said. “This anger thing? It’s not about him. It’s not even about my mother. It’s like power surges or something. I can’t control when it happens. I can barely keep from punching my fist through the wall. And I know stuff. It just pops into my head. Like what you are. And where to find you—like I could…”

“What?”

She hesitated. “Smell you. From all the way across town.”

“The only people I know who can do that aren’t human. But you are.”

“Not entirely.”

I blinked at her.

She flushed. “I know it sounds crazy.”

“No.”

“Maybe not to you. You’re a freak who hangs out with other freaks.” She sucked in a breath. “No offense.”

I tried not to take any. After all, it was kind of accurate. “So if you’re not one-hundred-percent human, what else are you?”

The words tumbled out fast and low, for my ears only. “Demon, I think. Like you said.”

I couldn’t think of a worse thing. Not one. “How?”

“I found some stuff in my mom’s diary. Stuff about my real dad. I was looking for money, you know? Sometimes she hides bills in there. I mean, she hasn’t written anything in it for years, but she still keeps it. And it says outright that my actual dad wasn’t human. That she had suspicions when she met him, but she didn’t find out for sure until after I was born. She said my eyes were red, Rude. They turned blue, the way other kids’ eyes start out blue when they’re born and then turn brown.”

I studied her face. She didn’t seem to be making up any of this. She spoke the dead-on truth as she understood it. “Whoa.”

“Exactly. What do I do?”

— from Faery Prophet by Leslie Claire Walker

About Leslie

Since the age of seven, Leslie Claire Walker has wanted to be Princess Leia—wise and brave and never afraid of a fight, no matter the odds.

Leslie hails from the concrete and steel canyons and lush bayous of southeast Texas—a long way from Alderaan. Now, she lives in the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest with a cast of spectacular characters, including cats, harps, fantastic pieces of art that may or may not be doorways to other realms, and too many fantasy novels to count.

She is the author of the Awakened Magic Saga, a collected series of urban fantasy novels, novellas, and stories filled with magical assassins, fallen angels, faeries, demons, and complex, heroic humans. The primary series in the saga are the Soul Forge, set in Portland, Oregon, and the Faery Chronicles, set in Houston Texas. She has also authored stories for The Uncollected Anthology on a mission to redefine the boundaries of contemporary and urban fantasy.

Leslie takes her inspiration from the dark beauty of the city, the power of myth, strong coffee, whisky, and music ranging from Celtic harp to jazz to heavy metal. Rock on!

Find Leslie

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Spotlight: “Windmaster’s Bane” by Tom Deitz

In Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, tales are told of strange lights, of mysterious roads…of wondrous folk from enchanted realms. All these are hidden from mortal men, and those who have the gift to look on them are both blessed and doomed…

Young David Sullivan never dreamed that the myths of marvels and magic he loved were real. But in his blood was the gift of Second Sight. And near his family’s rural farm lay an invisible track between worlds…where he would soon become a pawn in the power game of the Windmaster, an evil usurper among those the Celts called the Sidhe. David’s only protection would be a riddle’s answer and an enchanted ring…as he began his odyssey of danger into things unknowing and unknown…

Windmaster’s Bane is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

A sound.

A sound of Power.

A low-pitched thrum like an immense golden harp string plucked once and left to stand echoing in an empty place.

And then, ten breaths later, another.

But it was the golden Straight Tracks between the Worlds that rang along their sparkling lengths, as they sometimes did for no reason the Sidhe could discover—and they had been trying for a very long time. Success eluded them, though, for the half-seen ribbons of shimmering golden light that webbed the ancient woods and treacherous seas of Tir-Nan-Og—and which here and there rose through the skies themselves like the trunks of immense fiery trees—were not of Sidhe crafting at all, and only partly of their World.

In some Worlds they were seen differently, and in some—like the Lands of Men—they were not seen. This much the Sidhe knew and scarcely more, except something of how to travel upon them—and that was a thing best done only at certain times.

Yet the Tracks were there, in all Worlds. And they had Power—in all Worlds. For Power was the thing of which they were chiefly made.

— from Windmaster’s Bane by Tom Deitz

About Tom

Tom Deitz grew up in Young Harris, Georgia, a small town not far from the fictitious Enotah County of Windmaster’s Bane, and earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Georgia. His major in medieval English literature led Mr. Deitz to the Society for Creative Anachronism, which in turn generated a particular interest in heraldry, historic costuming, castle architecture, British folk music, and all things Celtic. In Windmaster’s Bane, his first published novel, Tom Deitz began the story of David Sullivan and his friends, a tale continued in Fireshaper’s Doom and more books in the series. He won a Georgia Author of the Year award for his work and a Lifetime Phoenix Award from Southern fans. In addition to his writing, in private life a self-confessed car nut, Tom was also a popular professor of English at Gainesville State College (today the Gainesville campus of the University of North Georgia), where he was awarded the Faculty Member of the Year award for 2008. On the day after his birthday in 2009, he suffered a massive heart attack and in April of that year he passed away at the age of 57. Though he was never able to realize his dream of owning a small castle in Ireland, Tom had visited that country, which he loved, and at the time when he was stricken with the heart attack he was in the planning stages for a Study Abroad trip to Ireland that he would have led. The trip took place, and some of Tom’s teaching colleagues scattered his ashes in a faery circle.

You can learn more about Tom and his work at Wikipedia.

Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 2

Midwinter Fae, the second volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries, brings you nineteen tales of magic, beauty, wonder…and sometimes danger, as the Fae can be unpredictable, and follow their own rules.

Midwinter Fae is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

The Interview

Part 2 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

  • Diana Benedict, author of “Summerland’s Paladin”
  • Rebecca M. Senese, author of “Holly vs. Oak”
  • Stefon Mears, author of “A Last Meal for the Holly King”

What do you enjoy about weaving elements from mythology, legends, and folklore in your own writing?

Diana Benedict
Mythology and ancient stories give me this wondrous feeling inside my deepest self. I never got this from the religion I was raised in. The feeling is sacred and I wish I could hold on to it for more than the brief times I feel it. Working with these elements allows me to immerse myself in the wonder I find in them, so I often find myself working with these kinds of stories.

Rebecca M. Senese
I love the clash of different influences coming together to see where they will take me. I wouldn’t just take a myth or legend on its own, I’ll mix it up, either with another myth or twist the interpretation of it. I enjoy following where these surprising twists will take me in my stories.

Stefon Mears
I get to use my degree! Okay, I’m only half-joking there. I do have a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies with a double-emphasis in Ritual and Mythology. But honestly, I got that degree because they were already major fields of interest for me, and I reveled in the excuse to study them formally.

When I was a kid, I did have a few regular children’s books on my bookshelves, but I had even more children’s versions of Greek and Norse myths. And those were my favorites. I must’ve read the story of Thesus a hundred times. Even at school, I found the folklore section of my grade school library (pretty small, but still), and read the whole thing (coincidentally leading to my interest in vampires and werewolves).

Plus, I grew up in a household where both sides told stories. My mom and her mother told the old Irish tales, including some versions that vary a bit from the mainstream interpretations. My father was an ex-navy man, and told some of the old folklore of the sea.

Honestly, I could go on and on about this. But key here is that myths, legends and folklore have always been a part of my life. Elements of them work their way into pretty much everything I write, one way or another. And to have an excuse to explicitly write about mythic, legendary or folkloric figures just makes me smile and gets my fingers moving.

What do you find most interesting about the mythology/folklore associated with Midwinter?

Diana Benedict
There is something really primal about struggling to survive the winter, relying on your crops and animals, that, hopefully, are enough to carry you through to spring, hunkering down as the world shuts down, freezes over, and becomes tinged with desperation.

I was afraid of winter as a child. My father worked construction and was often laid off in the winter. As a voracious reader, I worried that, like the characters I read about, our family would run out of money for heat and food, and we would be reduced to huddling in front of the stove, with empty bellies. It never happened, thank heavens, but I will not eat ham and bean soup to this day.

I also worried about the animals and the tiny birds that were out there in the world, exposed to nature’s cruelest time.

When I found that Christmas was really a winter solstice celebration, and that people went whole hog in celebrating their survival and their hopes that they would manage to make it until the world woke up, I was heartened.

The image of Victorian people wearing heavy clothing carolled, their sweet, clear voices mingling with their cloudy breath as the sound rose into the snowy night is a powerful one for me, evoking a mixed shudder of cold and a triumphant joy in my heart.

Stefon Mears
I think it’s the rebirth element. In the Celtic tradition — which is what I drew on for “A Last Meal for the Holly King” — Midwinter and Midsummer are two of the four solar poles of the year (the others being the equinoxes). And at each of the two, one figure dies and the other ascends into prominence.

I’ve heard people try to compare this to the idea of the new year as portrayed in American popular culture, in which the old year — represented by an old man with a long beard — dies at midnight on New Year’s Eve and the new year — represented by a baby — is born.

But that’s not the way it works in the Celtic tradition. In the Celtic tradition, two great kings — the Holly King and the Oak King — do battle on the solstices. At Midsummer, the Holly King kills the Oak King. The days grow shorter, leading into fall and winter. At Midwinter, the Oak King kills the Holly King, and the days grow longer, leading into spring and summer.

These are not quite battles of equals. In each case, a young king defeats an old king in ritual combat. This is as it must be. The Wheel of the Year must turn.

Implicit in this, though rarely discussed openly, is the rebirth element. In fact, in modern American Pagan ritual depictions of the solstices, often the old king is defeated, but not slain.

I think that misses part of the point. The rebirth element. One king is slain, but reborn immediately. He will grow until he is ready to do battle at the next solstice. Winter arising during summer, and summer within winter. Cycles within cycles.

I think it’s that rebirth element that compelled me to write “A Last Meal for the Holly King”.

Mythology and fairy tales often incorporate aspects from the locale in which they originated. For example, selkies appear in folktales from the Northern Isles of Scotland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland. Is there an area of the world that you particularly enjoy including in your writing, whether from a mythological aspect, a geographical one, or both?

Diana Benedict
The Middle East, especially Greece and Crete. I read my first Greek myth at seven and was entranced. I devoured everything the librarians could find. I read them over and over.

I will go. I will.

Stefon Mears
Part of the reason I enjoy writing contemporary and urban fantasy is that I like to see the wondrous in the world around me. Heck, the first urban fantasy novel I wrote — Caught Between Monsters — begins with a struggle with a ghoul in an alley behind an abandoned shopping center. Very much the kind of wasteland or forgotten graveyard that lurks in every city and suburb.

I have to admit, though, that after moving back to Oregon back in 2011, I’ve really fallen in love with writing about the Pacific Northwest. There’s a sense of wildness and magic to the whole region. I really hope I do it justice in my stories.

I set “A Last Meal for the Holly King” in Oregon partially because the Oregon forests feel ancient and mythic to me. An appropriate setting for such a tale.

Is there something from a legend, fairy or folk tale, or myth that you haven’t yet used in your writing, but would like to?

Diana Benedict
A centaur. I love the idea of centaurs. When I found out they were likely the first images of horsemen, it made sense, but the centaur mythos was already firmly planted in my imagination. I always see Charon first in my mind before I see the warrior men riding horses as they descend upon a hapless city.

But centaurs have a lot of inherent biological or physiological problems. My concrete nature wars with my fantasy-loving heart, and I can’t put them in a story until I can figure out a way they would work realistically. Or reasonably realistically.

Rebecca M. Senese
There are so many myths and legends that I would like to use at some point in my writing, either in my Crossroad City Tales series or my other series. I’m currently using a Siren in another series. At some point, I would like to write about Changelings. That’s just one of many myths I’d love to write about.

Stefon Mears
Before I could answer this one, I had to walk away from my computer for a few minutes so I could stop laughing.

Yes. Oh, yes. Oh, so much yes. I’m not even sure I know where to start listing them. From Baba Yaga and Koschei the Deathless (Russian) to Fintan and the Fir Bolg (Celtic) to more than I can list here. I mean, I’ve barely touched some of the ones I’ve already used (rakshasas and the fomhóraigh to name only two), and I’ve hardly scratched the surface of the Norse and Greek and…

I need to stop. I have a book to write.

Question for Diana Benedict:
“Summerland’s Paladin” begins with Todd running for his life from his half-brothers. As his brothers close in, a talking raven speaks to him. Todd follows the bird through a tunnel of branches and finds himself in Faerie. Did you incorporate any mythology in creating the talking raven, and what did you enjoy about writing the raven’s character?

Well, there are ravens in all kinds of cultures and that gave me lots of options to play with. Plus, they are super smart. The people of the age knew they were smart.

Odin had ravens named Hugin (thought) and Munin (desire). They flew out every morning and did reconnaissance, sharing what they learned with Odin, so he learned new things.

Native Americans have ravens, referring to them as world creators or tricksters.

I have always been impressed with how smart they are. They are wonderful problem solvers in research studies; they can recognize faces and will share information about dangerous people with the fellow flock members; they are generous and reciprocal in nature, often gifting presents to people who share food with them.

When I was camping at the Grand Canyon, they told us to not leave our sewer hoses out for longer than it took to drain the tanks because the ravens would poke holes in them. They would also steal food given the chance.

I also love talking animals so it was no surprise that should love Ri Fiach, the Raven King. He is wise, he is old, and he has a good grip on the best way to problem solve given his wisdom and understanding of the situation. He knew Todd was the answer to Summerland’s problem.

I would love to use him in a story again some time. I probably will. Yeah. I am going now to make notes about what kind of a story that might be.

Question for Stefon Mears:
In “A Last Meal for the Holly King,” your protagonist runs into the Holly King the day before the winter solstice. You pulled a number of elements from mythology and folklore into this story. Which ones are your favorites, and why?

Well, some of this I addressed above about Midwinter, and some I want to hold back for fear of spoiling the story. But I’ll confess to this one, because it always makes me smile.

If you meet an old man or woman on the road—especially if that person is in distress—help them. Because if you happen to be in a folktale, there’s a better than even chance that this person is magical in some way, and will repay your kindness.

Careful though. This isn’t transactional. If you offer help anticipating that you’ll get something, you won’t. It has to be a sincere offer of assistance out of kindness, or the goodness of one’s heart.

In “A Last Meal for the Holly King”, the situation is a little more complicated than the third child going out to seek his/her fortune. But for me, that just makes the encounter more interesting.

Question for Rebecca M. Senese:
You’ve written several stories about Maeve Hemlock. Maeve is a detective with the Spells and Misdemeanours Bureau in Crossroad City, where magic and the normal world collide after the Great Tear opened a rift between the dimensions of the normal world and the Nether Realm. What do you enjoy about writing stories set in Crossroad City, and what’s your favorite part about this story in particular?

As I mentioned in my response about weaving elements of myth and legend, I love using the backdrop of a city caught near a magical rift and playing with where that could lead, especially adding in a mystery element. I have great fun riffing on the hard-boiled detective idea but she’s also a faerie, which brings in a whole other side and area that can be complicated.

In “Holly vs Oak,” I enjoyed having a chance to dive a little deeper into Maeve’s home life back in the North Court before she became a detective in the city. I also liked taking the idea of the change from midsummer to midwinter and turning it into an exhibition fight, as a twist on the legend and giving it a modern feel.

Find the authors!

Diana Benedict

Website ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Rebecca M. Senese

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Stefon Mears

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!

Spotlight: Books 1-3 of The Fey by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Sacrifice, The Changeling, and The Rival are the first three books in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s series The Fey.

The Fey, a beautiful, complex people, have conquered have of the world, and are determined to control it all. Kris weaves elements from mythology together into a world rich with battle, intrigue, mystery, and love.

All three books are available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Arianna peered into the wavy silvered glass, and jutted out her chin. The birthmark was the size of her thumbprint, darker than the rest of her already dark skin, and as obvious as the pimples the new hearth boy had.

She pulled her dressing gown tighter, then glanced behind her. Still no maid. Good. Her bedroom was empty. Sunlight poured in the open window, and the birds in the garden chirruped. The bed was made, and she had thrown her new gown on the coverlet. The dress had a low-cut bodice, which her father wouldn’t approve of, and a cinched waist that tapered into a flared skirt. The dressmaker had begged her not to use that pattern, but Arianna had stared the woman down.

The last I knew, Arianna had said in her best haughty voice, I was the Princess. Has someone given my title to you?

The dressmaker had had the grace to blush. She had done what Arianna wanted, knowing that if she didn’t the palace wouldn’t hire her again.

The palace might not hire her again anyway. Arianna had heard the woman curse when she thought Arianna wasn’t in the room.

Demon spawn.

— from The Rival: The Second Book of The Fey by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

About Kris

New York Times bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in almost every genre. Generally, she uses her real name (Rusch) for most of her writing. Under that name, she publishes bestselling science fiction and fantasy, award-winning mysteries, acclaimed mainstream fiction, controversial nonfiction, and the occasional romance. Her novels have made bestseller lists around the world and her short fiction has appeared in eighteen best of the year collections. She has won more than twenty-five awards for her fiction, including the Hugo, Le Prix Imaginales, the Asimov’s Readers Choice award, and the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Award. 

Publications from The Chicago Tribune to Booklist have included her Kris Nelscott mystery novels in their top-ten-best mystery novels of the year. The Nelscott books have received nominations for almost every award in the mystery field, including the best novel Edgar Award, and the Shamus Award. 

She writes goofy romance novels as award-winner Kristine Grayson.  

She also edits. Beginning with work at the innovative publishing company, Pulphouse, followed by her award-winning tenure at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, she took fifteen years off before returning to editing with the original anthology series Fiction River, published by WMG Publishing. She acts as series editor with her husband, writer Dean Wesley Smith.

Find Kris

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Spotlight: “Daughter of Winter” by Amber Argyle

In Amber Argyle’s Daughter of Winter Elice, the Winter Queen’s daughter, lives a life of isolation in the land of ice and snow, unaware that she is a key part of a bargain that was made long, long ago.

When a whaling ship crashes just offshore, Elice doesn’t hesitate to rescue the lone survivor, Adar, who quickly becomes her friend. But the closer Elice and Adar become, the more desperate she is to keep him hidden from her mother at all costs.

For if the Winter Queen discovers Adar trespassing, she’ll kill him.

When her mother reveals just how dark her soul has become, Elice realizes she is as much a prisoner as Adar. Worse, she begins to see hints of something more nefarious. The darkness that has taken hold of her mother is spreading, staining the world with its influence.

Daughter of Winter is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Her grandfather rested a hand on her shoulder. “She’s your mother and she loves you. She just doesn’t see the world the same way.” Elice folded her arms over her chest and looked out across the sea without actually seeing anything. Her grandfather sighed and pulled her around to face him. “Where Ilyenna sees facts, you see possibilities. Someday she will understand that your way of seeing the world is a gift and not a burden.”

The bells at the palace pealed again. The Winter’s End ceremony would begin shortly. Elice gritted her teeth as she watched her mother disappear into the open-air throne room without a backward glance, the details of her lost to the distance. “Lowl gives that speech every year. And it’s always the same. Every year, we get closer to winning. But we never really do. I hate it.”

“Elice,” her grandfather softly reprimanded. She dropped her head. He brushed the crook of his gnarled finger down her cheek and then stepped into the net her mother had left behind—only one net, not two. It took a few thousand fairies to carry her grandfather, and they were all waiting, their movements erratic with their impatience. “You best hurry. The ceremony starts soon and your mother hates it when you’re late.”

Elice debated telling him that her gift wasn’t finished yet. When the light hit the tree . . . but she turned away instead. “You go. I’ll be along later.” He hesitated, and she knew he was deliberating whether or not to push the issue. But then he nodded to the fairies, who lifted him up and toward the palace.

Elice simply waited. She’d started this project the year before, marking exactly where the light crossed the pinnacle of the glacier and hit the spot where she stood. Alone, she watched the tree as the sun crept into view, bathing the tree with a rosy light. One by one, each of the thousands of prisms inside the tree lit up in smoky sparks, shooting fractured light all across the newly fallen frost, which she’d laid down last night. It glittered like the dusting of a thousand diamonds.

—from Daughter of Winter by Amber Argyle

About Amber

Bestselling author Amber Argyle writes fantasies where the main characters save the world (with varying degrees of success) and fall in love (with the enemy). Her award-winning books have been translated into numerous languages and praised by such authors as New York Times bestsellers David Farland and Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Amber grew up on a cattle ranch and spent her formative years in the rodeo circuit and on the basketball court. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in English and physical education, a husband, and a two-year-old. Since then, she and her husband have added two more children, which they are actively trying to transform from crazy small people into less-crazy larger people. She’s fluent in all forms of sarcasm, loves hiking and traveling, and believes spiders should be relegated to horror novels where they belong.

Find Amber

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Spotlight: “Faeborne” by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson’s Faeborne takes us to a land where the Morrigan, the goddess of war and strife, aspires to become more powerful through the use of violence and sacrifice. This is a wonderful tale of how even in dark and complicated circumstances, one can find love, trust, and happiness.

Stolen from his family at the age of sixteen and forced to use his glamour in the service of Eilé’s most malevolent goddess, Brennon Roarke has little room for warmth in his heart. For seven long years, he endured hardship and pain, only to escape and find his parents and sister murdered, his nephew left blind and broken. With the stain of dark magic on his soul, Brennon perseveres for the sake of his young ward, always worrying that one day the evil infecting his spirit will destroy him for good.

Born to the Fahndí tribe of the Weald, Seren’s glamour allows her to transform into a deer and grants her the power to heal grave wounds, but it also caused her to become an outcast.

Seren and Brennon are brought together in a single, life-altering moment.

Faeborne is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Brenn sighed, running his hands over his face and through his hair as he fell back against the mattress. Well, he couldn’t very well go downstairs and tell the girl to leave now. And in all honesty, he didn’t want to. He was intensely curious about her. Where had she come from? Why was her glamour so powerful? And more importantly, what was she? No common Faelorehn woman, that was certain.

“If her powerful glamour and the fact she had transformed from a deer into a woman before his very eyes hadn’t convinced him she was a stranger in these parts, then her other physical features most definitely did. Her skin tone was the most obvious difference. Darker than his, it reminded him a little of the beautiful red clay he sometimes found by the creek when he was a boy. A golden, pale rust color and smooth as an eggshell. Her eyes were different as well. Larger than his and Rori’s and slanted ever so slightly at the corners. They reminded him of the sly, cunning eyes of the wild things that roamed Dorcha Forest. This girl would definitely stand out in a crowd of people in Dundoire Hollow.

The very thought of Dundoire Hollow and its denizens drew a groan of annoyance from Brenn. He had very few friends living in the settlement closest to his home. Had he decided to turn Seren away and send her into the village, they would as soon stone her to death for her differences as offer her aid. No. He had made the right choice in extending his hospitality. He would keep his honor and keep his word. And protect her from the cruelty and prejudice of those he once called his neighbors and friends.

— from Faeborne by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

About Jenna

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson is a bestselling, multi-award winning author of epic and contemporary fantasy.  She has published several novels, novellas, and short stories in her Legend of Oescienne, Otherworld, and Draghans of Firiehn series.

Jenna’s writing is heavily influenced by the Celtic mythology she studied while attending college.  When not working on her books, Jenna can be found at home tending to her chickens, camping and hiking in Yosemite, and practicing German longsword.

Find Jenna

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