Posts Tagged ‘urban fantasy’

The Life and Times of a Would-Be Somebody Blog Tour

Evening, folks! Today I have the distinctive honor of hosting the one and only Kristy Carey as she makes her way across the world on her blog tour. She is the author of the awesome new book, The Wandering Wizard. (available at Amazon for only $0.99 here: http://www.amazon.com/Wandering-Wizard-Kristy-Carey-ebook/dp/B00LWFIO00/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411943051&sr=1-1&keywords=the+wandering+wizard) Let’s give her a warm welcome, shall we?
Kristy

1) You are hosting your blog tour in honor of your brand-new book, The Wandering Wizard. Please tell us about it.
Its the story of a man who�s become something more than he should be, to protect the world against forces it doesn�t understand. He�s the last of his kind right now, a sort of final defense against the darkness. But its also a strain and what we see in this story is his struggle to regain his power and keep fighting.

2) You are not just a writer; you also run a small business making steampunk jewelry. How do you balance your two creative pursuits?
Its not easy. Over the years I�ve often had to focus on one or the other and to be honest, it tore me apart. At that time, I had a blog for Fashion, one for Writing and one for myself. When I picked up blogging last month, I decided to stop dividing myself into pieces and just put it all in one place. I never think of myself as just a writer or a jewelry designer. Instead, I call myself a Creative. There are other things I do beyond just the two listed above. Graphic Design work, flower arranging [silk and fresh], knitting, sewing, weird sculptures with weird things, abstract drawing and even ceramics painting. It just took me a while to find one I could stick with, but I still enjoy the other things.

3) Are you inspired in your art by living in Washington? If so, how?
Yes. My side of the state [the east side] is so freaking green and filled with beauty. Its not always the best place, but the grass is always greener and no place will ever be perfect. For me, its home. There are parks to go sit in and read or write, places to shop and spots you can take day trips too. I�ve made plenty of friends here, while the internet has opened doors to making friends from other places.

4) Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?
Batman. Hands down. Sure, Supes has all the special skills, but Bats carries Kryptonite bullets and is prepared to take him out if needed. ~nods~ Batman rocks.

Kristy Carey is an author and blogger with a passion for creativity. With one publication under her belt, she plans to keep the momentum by focusing on the Urban Fantasy genre in future pieces. She is currently splitting her time between writing and steampunk jewelry design. Her passion in both writing and design, is to mix together elements that don’t belong, and make them seem natural. Kristy is currently working on a Superhero story staring The Protectors as they battle both Loki and Kronos.

She can be found here:
Blog – http://wouldbesomebody.blogspot.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KristyCareyAuthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Kristy_C
GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8434902.Kristy_Carey
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWFIO00

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Review of ‘The Bazaar,’ By Jen Ponce

‘The Bazaar’ by Jen Ponce is an indie book about a suburbanite named Devany Miller. She’s a wife, mother, and social worker at a domestic violence shelter. But all that changes when she steps into a tent at the local fair. The gorgeous proprietor says he’s selling “magic sugar,” but Devany never expects the tent to contain real magic. Even if she did, how would she know magic could be so dark…or so dangerous?
It isn’t long before Devany finds herself inexorably changed. She’s soon sharing a body with a dead spider, a ghostly witch, and a powerful magic battery that every demon in the world would love to get his hands on. But those aren’t the worst of her problems. Her husband, Tom, has more secrets than he’s let on, and Devany finds herself sorting out her new powers while her marriage crumbles around her.
This was a great book. It was a mixture of urban fantasy and horror, entirely peopled by fleshy characters so realistic you could shake their hands. The best part about this book, in my opinion, was the way Devany’s magic and reality seem to slide over each other. Watching her interact with her kids while a disembodied spider commands her to kill is quite the kick. There were some spots where the setting was drawn a little thin for a fantasy world, but the characters were rich enough to make up for it. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to read the sequel (it’s already out, by the way, and called Slip Song.)
If you like a little grit to your fantasy, take a look! http://www.amazon.com/BAZAAR-Devany-Miller-Book-ebook/dp/B00HHJOOOK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1406624397&sr=1-1&keywords=the+bazaar

Rough Drafts, Fair and Foul, Part 4

At this point, you are probably wondering how many of these drafts I have written. I honestly cannot answer that. It is definitely tens, maybe hundreds. Don’t worry, I have no intention of posting twenty-seven drafts of the same chapter, even if they DO exist. But there are five major revisions, and of them, this is nearly the last. This series will complete next week with the draft I intend to keep. Yay, nearing closure! But in all honesty, I am still posting these long after everyone is bored because I am trying to prove a point: if you are the type of writer who rewrites everything  a million times before it makes you happy, you are not alone.

If you are a fan of George R.R. Martin, you are aware that his sixth book has been awaited by fans for years. Every time he is questioned on it, he roars, “IT’LL BE FINISHED WHEN IT’S FINISHED!” Some of his fans probably think he is stalling from sheer wickedness, but you and I know better, don’t we? George is what’s called a ‘revisionist,’ or if you are a hater, a ‘pantster.’ What that means is that the story reveals itself to him as he writes, changing as it goes. He writes ‘by the seat of his pants,’ if you will. When it does change, it becomes necessary to go back and revise the beginning to match the new storyline. Stephen King is another famous version of the revisionist, though I mostly credit his productivity to his beloved wife, Tabby. Seriously, it’s probably a lot easier to write a book a year when you have someone to wrangle your children and cook your dinner. Not even lying, I wish Tabby King would come be my wife for a while. My husband might have something to say about it, but she would be a big help.

I am also a pantster. I have tried again and again to write using an outline, and I just can’t do it. When I commit a story to outline, it feels to me like pinning a bug to a display board: the story dies, but it’s easier to keep your eye on. So I rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite. It may not be the most efficient way to finish a manuscript, but when I send my editor a book, I know I’m satisfied with it. Of course, there does come a point where you have to tell yourself, All right, that’s enough revision, you pantster, but we’ll get more into that next week.

This particular rough draft is pretty close to what I finally decided to keep, timeline-wise. I decided the best course of action is to start the new story as close to the end of Lady of the Veils as possible. There are a few benefits to this: I know who the characters are, because I remember them from the last book. There is plenty of story left to tell, because Avalon is in a state of rebuilding, which is more interesting than a state of peace. I don’t have to try to figure out why the villains waited so long to attack, because they didn’t wait. For a while, I even considered using this draft as the final one. It bogged down eventually for a number of reasons, one of which was the fact that I didn’t pose enough questions in the opening chapter and it couldn’t sustain itself. 

So here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 1

The inside of the Avalon International Airport was conspicuous for its lack of ash.  It had either been spared the fire which destroyed half the city or been repaired with magical efficiency. The only evidence left of the siege was a deep gouge in the checkerboard tile. Karen MacGregor wondered whether magic or science had caused the scar in the floor. 

The only other people in the airport were a cluster of paparazzi, some human and some Fey. They stayed fifty feet away from her as Faerie law required.  Karen heard the sound of a flash bulb being tested.  Most of the photographers had given up taking pictures for now.  She supposed they were saving their film for her mother.

Karen kept her eyes trained on the muted television mounted to a nearby wall. The news was on, and all the reporters looked grim.  Were they discussing the new numbers of the death toll or the endless downpour of rain?  She had never imagined the Apocalypse would be so wet, but she supposed it was as good a death as any. 

David Thoreau stopped pacing to flop into a chair beside her, long legs splayed out in front of him.  He threw an arm casually across the back of Karen’s chair and gave her one of his rakish grins.  Thoreau was still dressed in colony gear, leather armor and scuffed boots.  He had skin the color of light chocolate and curls cut very close to his scalp.  His golden, cat-pupiled eyes glittered with humor now, but when he looked out at the paparazzi his eyes went hard.  His sword still hung at his side, a scabbarded threat rather than a veiled one. No one was around to ask him to disarm. 

“What happened to your gun?”  Karen asked. 

Thoreau snorted.   Accent thick with Texas, he said, “A wise man once told me, ‘You beat the Sidhe with a sword or you don’t beat them at all.’  I left it back at the colony when I found out we were done fighting ogres.  Where’s yours?”

Karen recognized the quote.  Shannon had once said the same thing to her. He wasn’t wrong, either.  A Knight of Summer would stride right through her bullets and kill her for the disrespect.  She shrugged.  “Lost it.” 

For a long moment they watched the news.  Karen wasn’t much of a lip reader, but she could make out the word genocide.   

Thoreau said, “So, I’m thinking about asking your mom out.  If I marry her, I just want you to know it’s cool if you call me daddy.”

Karen barked laughter.  “All right, go ahead. But I’m going to tell her about that time you almost married Shannon O’Grady.”

Thoreau’s laugh was so loud it echoed, as if he didn’t care who heard him. He sat up and leaned his hands on his knees. “I did not! He proposed and I busted his lip!”

Karen shrugged.  “I’ve always thought it was messed up that you hit him. He couldn’t really be blamed. We both know that in a skirt, those gams of yours go all the way up.”

“Oh, you little rat! I lost a bet! You’re never going to let me live it down, are you?”

“I just feel like my mother deserves to know her new boyfriend is a cross dresser, that’s all.”  Karen batted her eyes innocently over her smirk. “I’ll tell you what, we’ll compromise.  If you guys get married I’ll call you mommy.”

Thoreau gaped at her. “You are such a pig!”

Karen, gasping laughter, managed, “That’s what all the girls tell me.”

Thoreau balled up a fist and pretended to punch her in the arm before giving up completely and laughing along.  They trailed off into chortles and then companionable silence.  Feeling grateful to have something to laugh at, Karen leaned her head against his shoulder.   

She said, “Thanks for coming with me.  You’re a lot better at looking scary than I am.”

Thoreau squeezed her with the arm he’d placed on her chair.  “I’m a lot better looking than you are, period.” Karen elbowed his ribs, and he chuckled. “Ow! Would you quit doing that?”

“Probably not,” Karen told him.  “What time is it?”

“Twelve forty-five,” he answered, checking the watch on his wrist.  “Fifteen minutes.”

Karen sighed and fidgeted in her chair.  Her tailbone ached.  “This is not going to be pretty. Can we just go?  Please?”

Thoreau snorted.  “You want to leave your parents at the airport with no ride, in the pouring rain, in a city occupied by the Unseelie Host?  Really?”

“No, not really,” Karen said miserably.

 Thoreau turned his attention to the television. Karen followed suit.   The charred and skeletal remains of the Agromancy wing at the Wizard’s Academy haunted the screen for a moment, and then the camera cut back to another sad-eyed reporter.  Karen had loved the city of Avalon since she was old enough to love any place at all.  Queen Aynia had not destroyed this beautiful old city when she took it.  No, that had been Karen’s doing.  She had unleashed the Host on Avalon herself. 

She turned her attention away from the television and her eyes caught the furrow in the tile again.  She abruptly realized why Thoreau kept pacing.  

“How much longer?” Karen asked.

“Fourteen minutes,” Thoreau told her.

Karen sighed again and fidgeted.  Damn Julian for getting too badly hurt to come along! She thought. Lucky bastard. “I wish I’d brought a deck of cards,” Karen said.

Thoreau laughed.  “It’s just a few minutes, Mac, would you settle down?  Watch T.V or something.”

Fifteen minutes stretched into twenty-five before the loudspeaker announced her parent’s flight had finally landed.  Karen jumped up, and then sat back down.  Beside her, Thoreau stood smoothly and offered her a hand.

“Time to man up, Mac,” He said. “They’re just your parents, for chrissakes.”

“They don’t call my mother ‘The Dragonsbane’ because she’s a good cook,” Karen grumbled.  “When she asks me to come back to the states, what am I going to say?”

Karen had left home last November in the middle of her senior year of high school for reasons that, in retrospect, seemed pretty thin. I was protecting Beri seemed like a ridiculous excuse to give her parents for abandoning them.  Beri was a wizard-level meteomancer. The idea of her protecting him was like the idea of her protecting a Mack truck.  

The worst part was that, if given the chance, she would do it again.  She was going to have to justify this whole year to her parents without being able to honestly say I’m sorry.  

Grabbing her wrist, Thoreau said, “I don’t know what you’re going to say.  But you can’t hide out here forever.”  He hauled her toward her parent’s gate while she dragged her feet.

People, mostly human but some Fey, poured into the airport. Many of them held camera equipment or were so attractive they could only be on-air personalities. Karen bounced nervously on her toes and thought, great, more reporters.   

At the end of the hallway, something glowed against the wall. 

“Holy hell,” Thoreau said reverently. 

            Her mother and father approached.  They stood close to each other but did not touch.  Though they often took comfort from physical contact, Karen’s Fey mother had been exiled for marrying her human father.  In Faerie it was against the law for them to display their affection in public places.

Marty MacGregor was a tall man with a salt-and pepper beard and dark eyes.  He seemed thinner than Karen remembered him, and his thick hair was more gray than brown.   He was dressed in a well-made suit and a tie that had rumpled during the flight. 

Mirya MacGregor was Daoine Sidhe.  She was not tall as her people went, but she moved with an air of confidence normally reserved for much larger Fey.  She looked barely older than Karen, though she was more ancient than the city they stood in. Her skin glowed faintly, casting the room around her into gloom. Her sun-golden hair was cut fashionably short and revealed the points of her ears.  Karen had always known her mother was beautiful, but now she seemed indefinably sadder.  Mom had become breathtaking with her new gravity.

            Tears burned Karen’s throat.  She shook free of Thoreau without speaking and launched herself at her parents.

            Dad caught her.  Karen buried her face in his chest, sobbing as she had not done in a very long time.  He smelled of laundry detergent and felt like a mountain when he wrapped his arms around her. He shook with sobs.

            “My little girl,” Dad whispered, over and over.  “My girl.”

            After a long time he pushed Karen away, holding her at arm’s length and studying her with red-rimmed eyes.  Karen gave him a weak smile.

            “Hi, Daddy.” She felt inexplicably shy.

            “Hi yourself.” Dad’s voice was gruff with emotion.  “Well, look at you!  I haven’t seen you in a dress since you were a little girl.”

            Karen looked down at the hand-made frock she wore and gave her father a lop-sided smile.  “Yeah, I know it.  All my jeans wore out in the forest.”

            She turned to her mother.  Mom clasped her hands against her chest, eyes shining with tears.  It struck Karen for the very first time how much her mother looked like Queen Aynia.

Karen had only met the Queen of the Summer Court the day the Fey monarch was executed.  She suspected she would spend many years watching the light in those luminous green eyes go out while she dreamed.  Her mother was just as lovely, just as glamorous as the Queen had been.  Guilt wrenched Karen’s insides.  She had assassinated her own grandmother, and this beautiful Fey she had loved all her life was the only one left who might really mourn.

            Mom reached out for her, and Karen stepped into her embrace. Her mother smelled of vanilla soap and lilacs. She was suddenly small again.          

“Mom,” Karen whispered. “I’m so, so sorry.”

            Mom shushed her.  “No.  I have always known you would come to this, Karen MacGregor.  You have had a soldier’s heart since the day you were born.  If you had not fought this war you would have fought another.”

            Karen drew away to meet Mom’s eyes.  “Not for that, Mom.  I’m not sorry for that.  I’m sorry I killed your mother.”

            Mom looked into her face solemnly for a long moment.  Karen realized she could hear the clicks of cameras behind her.  Then her mother leaned down to kiss Karen’s forehead.

            “If anyone else had slain her, my vengeance would have been terrible to witness,” Mom whispered.  She pushed a dark curl of Karen’s hair behind her ear.  “But child, she brought her death to herself when she made an enemy of you.”

            Karen blinked.  “You’re not mad?”

            Mirya’s lip twitched up just a hint. Her eyes were still unbearably sad.  “Mad? No. My heart aches. I wish my mother had dandled you on her knee as a grandmother is meant to do.   I wish she could have lived long enough to know how beautiful and brave her granddaughter would grow up to be.  I wish she had the courage to love you as I do.  I grieve my mother, who was once my Queen. I suppose I always will. But do I blame you for doing what had to be done? No.  No, Karen, I do not.”

            “Well!” Dad’s voice was too loud, too cheerful.  “This is very sad talk for a very happy occasion! Take us to your brother, will you?”

            Karen grinned, wiping her cheeks free of tears.  Mom gave her a stunning smile and took her hand. 

Thoreau still stood several feet away, looking out of place.  Karen gestured for him to come closer.  His eyes were full of stars as he looked at Karen’s mother.  Karen recognized the dazzled look.  A Daoine Sidhe of a royal house could be quite a sight the first time a person saw one.

            “Dave, these are my parents, Marty and Mirya MacGregor,” Karen said. “Mom, Dad, this is David Thoreau.  He’s currently acting as my bodyguard.”

            Dad stretched a hand out to shake with Thoreau.  “Thanks for taking care of my little girl.”

            Thoreau dropped his eyes. Karen smirked.  He was probably remembering what he’d said before the plane landed.  “Well, she mostly takes care of herself, but sometimes two blades are better than one.”

            Karen’s father gave her a measuring look.  He said, “When you left home you were a vegetarian.  Now people actually refer to you as ‘a blade.’”

            Embarrassed, Karen shrugged. “I’m still a vegetarian,” she said.

 

Red Tash’s Black Friday Sale

Good morning, and happy Black Friday to you all. Is anyone interested in supporting an artist this year instead of throwing money at the consumerism dragon? My friend and fellow Urban Fantasist, Red Tash, is having a black Friday sale on some really great books. Please come take a look! http://redtash.com/post/68434474037/black-friday-book-sale

I have read her books and recommend them wholeheartedly. Here is one of my reviews of her work: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3RB1TAFG9WRM2/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Rough Drafts, Fair and Foul, Part 2

In my last post, I shared a chapter from my earliest attempt at writing a sequel to Lady of the Veils. It is about 60,000 words long. I decided not to use it, not because the story wasn’t entertaining, but because it wasn’t actually a sequel. It was set ten years after the events of the first book, and the characters were so changed they weren’t even recognizable. Far from being young people trying to carve places for themselves in a pair of twin worlds, these had become thirty-year-olds with thirty-year-old problems.
So I decided to take another pass at it: I would move the timeframe in a little. Instead of being set ten years in the future, it would be set four years in the future. Some of the problems from the first draft of the sequel could be completely avoided. That’s the nice thing about fiction: you don’t have to worry about all the time paradoxes. If you don’t like the past, just erase it and hope the future comes out better.
Let me also say this before I present you with the second version of chapter 1: at the time when I wrote this piece, I had given up on publishing Lady of the Veils. In fact, I had not written anything in quite some time. When I started this piece, I thought I may never write professionally, but I have to write for me. It makes me happy. The characters, of course, would not let me be. They were a part of me.
When I was about 115 pages into this particular draft, a got a letter from an agent who said, this is a great story, but the writing needs work. Your best bet is to join a writer’s group. So I did. I workshopped Lady of the Veils like crazy, changed its name, and sent it out. Eventually three different publishers offered to pick it up. (This is why they advise against multiple submissions, kids.)
So. Without further delay, here is the first draft of the second attempt at Knight of Avalon 2.

Beri’s skin reminded Karen of a pool of water brightened by the moon. It had the color of a pearl, and a luminosity that cast the far corners of the room into shadow. His pale hair was loose on bare shoulders, and his eyes gleamed with the satisfaction of a spoiled Persian cat. He twisted a strand of Karen’s hair around his right index finger, then pulled on it until the curl straightened and let go so that it would bounce back into place.
Karen used her finger to mark her page and shut her biology book. “Why are you pulling my hair?”
He, fey as ever, answered her question with one of his own: “Did you know that when I pull your hair straight, it reaches almost to the middle of your back?”
Karen laughed. “Do you think I should wear it straight today?”
Beri bounced another curl. “Is that possible?”
“Sure. It only takes a flat brush and a blow dryer.”
“Or you could just-“ he placed the curl between his index finger and thumb, then slid it through his fingertips. When he reached the end the curl had straightened.
Karen rolled her eyes. “Fix that.”
Beri tugged on the end of the uncurled strand, and it bounced back up into its natural state. “What is it with you and my hair?” she wondered aloud.
“Under electric lights, it turns red and golden.” He paused, then stretched the freshly restored curl across the bridge of her nose. “There. Is that better?”
“Yes. Much.” Karen opened her book again, but she knew he wasn’t going to let her read. She was not disappointed. He ran a finger up her bare arm and across her collarbone. Karen’s skin raised itself into rows of goose bumps, and she shivered. “Is there something I can help you with? Because I’m trying to study.”
Beri chuckled warmly, and replied, “There is one thing.”
Karen closed the book again, this time without bothering to put her finger between the pages. He regarded her with his mischievous eyes and a curve of full lips.
“Do you ever think about anything besides sex?” Karen asked him bluntly.
His half smile turned into a laugh. “No. Well, rarely. Actually, I am so brilliant that I can think great things and still think about sex at the same time.”
Karen wanted to smile, but she bit her lip and shook her head. “It’s a shame.”
“What?”
“If you weren’t so pretty I would finally be able to ace a science course.”
Later, as she lay with her head against his chest and his arm resting under her breasts, Karen asked, “Do you think I’ll still be this in love with you when I’m old?”
Beri kissed the top of her head and said, “I hope so. I shall certainly be this in love with you.”
“Nah. My hair will fall out and you won’t want anything to do with me.”
He made a serious sounding noise. “I never thought about that. Perhaps I should just break off with you now.”
“Maybe. How will you bug me if you can’t pull my hair?”
“It will be impossible. You will be completely useless to me.”
“See?” She snuggled down into the covers, and his arms twined around her. The digital clock on her bedside table read 3:15. “I knew you would get bored sooner or later. By then I’ll be too old to be of any use to anybody.”
He made a sound near her arm that was something like a cross between a sigh and a purr. “And wrinkled. Don’t forget that you’ll be horribly wrinkled.”
Karen sighed. “It’s three fifteen. Maybe you should be getting home.”
Beri released her, and propped himself up on his elbow. “Karen. I was joking. I couldn’t stop loving you if I wanted to. Since I’ll outlive you by quite a while, I may someday wish that were an option. But it’s not.”
Karen smiled a little, then kissed his soft bottom lip. “I know. I’m not mad. But you have to get up in, like, three hours. They’re going to be wondering where you are. “
Beri groaned and threw himself dramatically back down on the pillow. “Oh, Goddess. Every time. I’ll be useless tomorrow.”
Karen grinned. “But you were great tonight.”
He laughed, then rose with his typical grace to pull his clothes on. “And what time are you up tomorrow? Hopefully disgustingly early.”
“Yeah,” Karen said. “I have a calc final at eight thirty. And I assure you I won’t be well rested for it.”
“A shame.” Beri shot a quick smile at her as he finished adjusting his fly. Karen stood, pulled on the t-shirt she had been wearing before he arrived, and closed her eyes to focus on the spell to open the doorway to his bedroom. With a gust of breeze, the dresser vanished and she could see his bed through the darkly glittering fabric of nothing that she had created.
Beri wound his arms around her waist and kissed her one last time. “Good luck with your test,” he whispered, as the guards could probably hear him now.
“Good luck with the whole High King thing you have planned today,” she whispered back. “I miss you already.”
“Cheesy dame,” he chuckled, then stepped out of her arms and through the Doorway. She quickly closed the door. The silence was sudden and lonely.
“At least we don’t have to rely on e-mail and phone calls,” Karen muttered. But his absence always felt like an aftermath. She picked up the scattered clothing on her floor and put it away, then straightened her twisted bedclothes and climbed between them. They were scented with the musky odor of his skin and she breathed deeply. It was a while before she could sleep. Karen couldn’t help but wonder what it might be like to get to fall asleep and wake up beside him. But eventually, even these melancholy thoughts drifted into smoke and she was asleep.
Karen’s alarm clock, as usual, was an audible stab at seven-thirty. She groaned and dragged her body out of bed and into her shower. The hot spray woke her, but her mind was still foggy from lack of sleep. She dressed in jeans and a green t-shirt with the Beetles emblazoned on the front (to this day she could not get over how good it felt not to have to wear a uniform to class) and went out, locking the door behind her. Her roommate, Constance, had never come home last night. She would be in the calc final this morning. She had probably spent the night with her boyfriend, Jim, at the Sigma Beta house. Karen lived just down the road from campus, but she drove to avoid being late and then entered the amphitheater where the test was being held. As expected, Connie was slouched in the back row, hiding behind dark glasses. She did not look as if she had showered that morning, but instead had pulled her particolored hair into a claw clasp at the nape of her neck. Karen settled herself beside her friend.
“Rough night?” Karen asked.
Connie lowered her glasses and peered at Karen over them. “You should talk. Did you even comb your hair this morning after the mystery man left?”
Karen ran an embarrassed hand over her hair. “Yeah, I did. But I didn’t blow dry it so it got all frizzy.”
Connie grinned. “When are you going to introduce me to this guy? We’ve been living together for almost two years now, he’s been over, like, three nights a week, and I have yet to do a single Jell-O shot in his presence.”
Karen had to smile back at the idea of Beri Quintinar doing shots with Constance Miller. “I know, I know. Someday. You guys will love each other. You’re both completely out of your minds.”
Connie rolled her eyes. “You always say that. Why can’t I meet him?”
Karen sighed as she pulled her number two pencil out of her bag, then scratched idly at her scalp with the tip. This was a question she never knew how to answer. “I’m sorry, Connie. But you embarrass the bejeezus out of me. I seriously can’t introduce you to anybody.”
Connie stabbed Karen in the side with an index finger. “I know what it is, Kay. He’s a professor. And he’s married. And you think I would tell his wife or some lame shit like that.”
Karen snorted. “You got me. I’m banging a forty year old.”
“It better be Dr. Martinson,” Connie told her. “I swear to you, I would do that old man like my life depended on it. He is a stone cold gray fox.”
Karen laughed aloud, and several people turned to look at her. “That’s fortunate,” Karen said. “I heard he will date his students. And he’ll give you an A, too.”
“No way,” Connie said seriously. “That is prostitution. I would do him just for the sheer joy of it.”
“But you wouldn’t turn down an A in history.”
Connie smirked. “Remind me to take history next semester.”
There was a newspaper on the desk before her, and Karen turned her eyes to it. LOCAL DEATH RULED SUICIDE, it proclaimed, below the headline that announced the paper as the Lincoln Star Journal. There was a picture on the front, of a smiling fellow, about thirty, with a square jaw, pale greenish hair, and gold eyes.
“Huh,” Karen said, interested and a little disturbed.
“What?” Connie asked.
Karen passed her the sheet of newsprint. “Look at this. Some half fey killed himself.”
Connie frowned, a little confused. “Oh? Did you know him?”
“No,” Karen told her. “It’s just that there aren’t very many of us. It’s just weird that this paper happened to have one in it.”
“Lincoln Star Journal,” Connie read aloud. “I wonder if he was friends with some corn husker who transferred here.”
“Weird,” Karen said, but then the professor appeared and started to pass papers to the people in the front row. He was a balding fellow with a little paunch and watery eyes. Karen nudged Connie and whispered, “It’s him. He doesn’t look like much, but the things he can do with his tongue are illegal in eight states.”
Connie guffawed loudly, and people once more turned to look at them.
“Shut up,” Connie stage whispered. “If I don’t pass calc this time my mom will kill me.”
Karen chuckled and accepted her paper from someone in the row in front of her. “If you can’t focus on your test, maybe you should move somewhere else.”
From the front, the professor called, “The test has begun, girls. Please, no talking.”
They both fell silent. If there was one thing Connie was good at, it was waking her up.
After the test, Karen walked to the gym slowly, feeling a little sorry for herself. Beri was the most beautiful person she had ever met. He was also smart, kind, funny, charming, and loyal. And she couldn’t even introduce him to her friends. They had decided to tell themselves that she was dating a married man, just to make her normal. It was hard. They could never be together openly. It was true, there were hundreds of people who suspected the true nature of their relationship. But if it was ever confirmed, that would be it. They would either have to break up or go into exile. He might be forced to abdicate the throne. There would be assassination attempts. It was no longer illegal for a fey to marry a human, but the fey had long memories. Loving a half breed was just enough to get a king murdered.
There had been a time when Karen wanted a family, children. But that was not her fate. Her fate was stolen kisses in the middle of the night, pressing her body to skin that she could never really have. And the alternative was worse. God help her, the alternative was worse
Karen sighed. The professor, indeed. If that was what Connie wanted to call him, the professor he would be. She would never know his real name

Review: Carnival of Illusions

I believe I mentioned before that Aubrie Dionne has sent me quite a few of her works and it is my goal to review each of them, so for your consideration I would like to present Seers Destiny and Chameleon’s Colors. You may wonder why I am writing a single review for two stories. In answer, I felt it was appropriate because these books are both from a series called Carnival of Illusions.
Both of these books take place in the same peculiar and interesting setting: The Masquerade Carnival. It’s a modern day traveling carnival, but it’s different from the ones you might remember from your home town. Instead of featuring circus performers who pretend to be magical, the illusion here is that what looks mundane is really supernatural.
In Seer’s Destiny, Vira is a fortune teller with a strange gift: she can really see the future. It would be a lot easier for her to tell lies that would make her customers happy, but she’s too honest for that. She always tells the truth. Nobody wants to hear that their daughter will never be famous no matter how much money they’ve poured into acting classes, but Vira’s particular brand of morality will not allow her to lead them on. After a bad round of fortunetelling, Vira has a vision for herself: she’ll die in an old flame’s arms on the night of the new moon. She knows it’s true because her visions don’t lie, even for her.
Seer’s Destiny is a magical tale about love, predestination, and a little ecology thrown in just for spice. Vira’s tale turns down strange and unexpected paths that not even as gifted a seer as she would have foreseen. It left me wondering to the end: will Vira’s vision really come true? This story was quite beautifully done and I enjoyed it through the tear-jerking surprise of the finale.
Chameleon’s Colors is about a teenage girl named Kaylee who changes color. Yes, I said she changes color. Her father was a distant, brilliant scientist who fell in love with a woman who seemed to have no time for Kaylee. One day dad left his laboratory open, and as a kind of revenge Kaylee drank a number of his compounds. She was imbued with the power of a chameleon. Now, she has run away to join the Masquerade Carnival, and she has never felt so alive. She performs every night and has a secret crush on a handsome townie named Zak. But sometimes, just sometimes, like when Zak shoots down the lion tamer’s daughter, Kaylee can’t help but regret what she’s turned herself into.
Enter an ancient gypsy with a devil’s bargain…she can make Kaylee normal again so Zak will love her. Will Kaylee give up this new life she loves?
Of Aubrie’s work so far, Chameleon’s Colors has been my favorite. Aubrie has a lovely way of speaking for and to young women that makes me proud of her. She’s one of a number of new fantasy writers that view women as beautiful and magical, instead of just rewards for the male protagonist or symbols for acceptance. And she does all this so subtly that she never preaches. She just tells an intriguing story with an interesting romantic element and moves along.
To see more of what Aubrie’s doing now, visit her here:

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