Happy Friday, everyone! Who's ready for a humorous paranormal mystery series? This week, I'm reading to you from EJ Russell's brand new novel, Five Dead Herrings, the first book in the Quest Investigations series (a Mythmatched universe spinoff.)
(From the cover, you know there's gonna be selkies - yaay!)
Five Dead Herrings
Quest Investigations #1
by EJ Russell
Something’s definitely fishy about this case…
On my last stakeout for Quest Investigations, I nearly got clotheslined by a grove of angry dryads. I expected my bosses to reprimand me, but instead they handed me my first solo assignment. Me! Matt Steinitz, the only human on the Quest roster!
Okay, so the mission isn’t exactly demanding. Obviously, the bosses wanted to give me something they think I can’t screw up. I’m determined to show them what I can do, however, so I dive right in with no complaints.
At first glance, it looks as simple as baiting a hook: A selkie’s almost-ex-husband is vandalizing his boat with unwanted deliveries of deceased sea life. All I have to do is document the scene, tell the ex to cease and desist, and present the bill for property damages. Boom. Mission accomplished, another Quest success, and as a bonus, I get to keep my job.
But then things get…complicated. Suspicious undercurrents muddy up my oh-so-easy case. Nothing is as clear as it should be. And the biggest complication? My inappropriate attraction to the client, who may not be as blameless as he claims.
Turns out those dead herrings aren’t the only things that stink about this situation.
Five Dead Herrings is the first in the Quest Investigations M/M paranormal mystery series, a spinoff of E.J. Russell’s Mythmatched paranormal rom-com story world. It contains no on-page sex or violence, and although there is a romantic subplot, it is not a romance.
E.J. Russell (she/her) ), author of the award-winning Mythmatched LGBTQ+ paranormal romance series, holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she spent three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business intelligence consultant (as one does). She’s now abandoned data wrangling, however, and spends her days wrestling words across a rainbow of genres. Count on high snark, low angst, and happy endings.
Reality? Eh, not so much.
She’s married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, CH loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and B) would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).
E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
Facebook group (Reality Optional): https://www.facebook.com/groups/reality.optional
Production on new releases has been moved into 2022 for both my publishers, which gives me a little breathing room.
And what happens when my brain gets breathing room? A new character walks in. Naturally. There he was, at three in the morning. No name. No backstory. Just STANDING there atop a fencepost giving me a LOOK.
Rather than start a new novel and outline and agonize and get that in production somewhere, I thought it would be fun to just write as it occurs in a serial format to fill the time between releases. (That's a teensy bit of a fib - I didn't actually start writing until I had a direction. But things will fill in more clearly as we go.)
Zie's initial episode is the next blog down, if you care to start following along. "Shadow Run" will post every Monday, until the story finds an end. I will try to keep the episodes short? But I'm not making promises. High fantasy. Probably some violence along the way. Probably some NSF episodes soon, too. Just so you know. (I've typed the word "episode" so many times this week, it no longer looks right.)
(Author's note: Welcome to the inaugural episode of "Shadow Run", a serialized high fantasy story about... Well. You'll have to see. Short episodes update every Monday. Until we're done.)
Sunrise bled into the field of snow daisies, painting their petals scarlet, forcing the shadows to bow in submission. Normal, everyday morning shadows. With any luck, his pursuers would be more than two days behind him.
From his perch atop a jagged fencepost, Zie had an excellent view of the northern horizon where his way through the field was no more than a suggestion of passage by now. Not that it mattered how few plants he'd broken as he ran. The wind rose, biting and insistent, whipping his leather coat about his ankles in restless waves of deep blue. His favorite coat…
Lucky thing, that, since it's your only coat now.
Only boots, rather worse for wear. Only shirt. Only… He crouched atop the fencepost, squinting toward the south. How much farther now? What if he was entirely, stupidly wrong? And did it truly matter any longer? He was tired, so cursed exhausted.
The question really is, am I ready to die? Do I deserve to?
A spirit crow let out her laughing cry from three fence posts over and Zie took it as an answer. He was too much of a coward for the first answer to be yes, and too self-involved for the second. Craven panic and narcissism had gotten him this far, why stop now?
When he squinted, smoky haze was just visible in the distance—usually the sign of a sizeable human community. That would do for a few days if he was careful since his pursuers seemed confounded by human towns. A tiny spark of guilt twinged under his breastbone as he considered endangering an entire community, but he never stayed long enough for his hunters to overcome their wariness. The humans had been safe so far. Generally safe. Mostly safe.
He leaped down from the post and ran, his steps light and nearly silent, any sounds covered by the wind rustling through the fields. If he recalled his geography of the region correctly, there would be another river between him and the town.
His pursuers didn't like running water, either, which had been an unexpected blessing.
Yes, there. The shining ribbon of a river appeared as he crested the next hill. Ancient, meandering and wide, he nearly wept to see it. He raced down the slope with his coattails flying behind him, gathering the notion of weightlessness in his mind, the feeling of buoyancy like invisible wings. The toes of his boots just skimmed the current as he stepped out onto the water, never slowing his pace.
Hest had always laughed at him, telling him he didn't have to take it at a sprint. Fine for him, as he stood calmly in the middle of a waterway trying to convince Zie that he wouldn't sink if he slowed down. He never got the knack and running full out over wavelets and white water was more exhilarating, in any case, and Hest was dead--
No. Don't think about that now. Concentrate.
He nearly made it. The horrible images he'd been fighting to suppress caught up with him at the last few steps and he splashed into the shallows, soaking his boots and turning his left ankle on a stone. Cursing and hissing, he limped onto the bank and headed for a cart path up ahead.
"That's fine. It's fine."
He'd made it across and put another obstacle between him and the nightmares behind him. That was the important thing. Never mind that he couldn't run now even if he had to. The cart path became a gravel track which soon joined a smooth, graded road. He spotted the first cart ahead of him—a box wagon pulled by a single draft edlak plodding along with unending patience on half-moon hooves the size of Zie's head.
Now was the perfect time for caution. He pulled his hat lower to shade the non-human purple of his eyes and cover the tips of his ears. His gloves would have to stay on until he gauged the town's atmosphere and no one would see his feet. Come to think of it, he hoped his ankle wouldn't swell so much that he couldn't get the boot off that evening.
Another carter, with an open wagon of hay pulled by a team of placid gosstas, took pity on Zie and let him ride to the town's gate with the hay. Itchy, and the gosstas occasional honking made his ears ache, but better than trying to walk on an ankle that complained more bitterly with each step.
The town, apparently called Pellienport since it was built around the natural harbor where the Pellien River met the sea, bustled with more than human activity, to Zie's relief. No one like him, of course, but he wouldn't be such an oddity in a place where taurs and merfolk openly walked the streets.
A bit of discreet pickpocketing shored up his funds enough to afford food and lodging. Not his finest hour, perhaps, but not his worst, either. He only took from those who could obviously afford it and preferred to steal from people who were arrogant and unpleasant.
Keep telling yourself that makes it better. Go on.
Closer to the center of town, since staying at inns near the gate was always a bad idea, he found The Blue Goblet, a tidy establishment tucked between a hostelry and a potter's shop.
With the last of his energy, he negotiated with the landlady for a private room, dragged his bedraggled backside up the stairs, locked the door, dragged his boots off—the left was a struggle—and collapsed onto the bed for the first real sleep he'd had in weeks.
Hooray, we've made it to Friday! This week I have something to read to you that I'm particularly excited about - an excerpt from SI Clark's new space opera humor novel, The Left Hand of Dog. Hostile fluffy alien bunnies! Also, don't forget the giveaway at the bottom of the post.
There's never enough SF humor in the universe! Yaaay! Come have a listen. :D
The Left Hand of Dog
Starship Teapot #1
by SI Clark
White Hart Fiction
Escaping intergalactic kidnappers has never been quite so ridiculous.
When Lem and her faithful dog, Spock, retreat from the city for a few days of hiking in Algonquin Park, the last thing they expect is to be kidnapped by aliens. No, scratch that. The last thing they expect is to be kidnapped by a bunch of strangely adorable intergalactic bounty hunters aboard a ship called the Teapot.
Falling in with an unlikely group of allies – including a talking horse, a sarcastic robot, an overly anxious giant parrot, and a cloud of sentient glitter gas – Lem and the gang must devise a cunning plan to escape their captors and make it back home safely.
But things won’t be as easy as they first seem. Lost in deep space and running out of fuel, this chaotic crew are faced with the daunting task of navigating an alien planet, breaking into a space station, and discovering the real reason they’re all there…
Packed with preposterous scenarios, quirky characters, and oodles of humour, The Left Hand of Dog tackles complex subjects such as gender, the need to belong, and the importance of honest communication. Perfect for fans of Charlie Jane Anders’ Victories Greater than Death – especially ones who enjoy endless references to Red Dwarf, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. This book will show you that the universe is a very strange place indeed.
SI CLARKE is a Canadian misanthrope who lives in Deptford, sarf ees London. She shares her home with her partner and an assortment of waifs and strays. When not writing convoluted, inefficient stories, she spends her time telling financial services firms to behave more efficiently. When not doing either of those things, she can be found in the pub or shouting at people online – occasionally practising efficiency by doing both at once.
As someone who’s neurodivergent, an immigrant, and the proud owner of an invisible disability, she strives to present a diverse array of characters in her stories.
Author Website: https://whitehartfiction.co.uk
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/clacksee
Author Goodreads: goodreads.com/clacksee
Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/32693/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/SI-CLARKE/e/B082GXW66G/
Happy Friday, everyone! This week, I have a bit of high fantasy for you - an excerpt from Nicole Dennis' new release, McShayne's Fae! Secrets, a mysterious visitor, and a terribly curious fae prince. Come have a listen. :)
(*note about the series: McShayne's Dragon (the first in the series) will be re-published shortly.)
McShayne Bloodline 2
by Nicole Dennis
A darkness encroaches the lands. Otherkin are disappearing. Towns attacked.
The Golden Forest Fae Prince of the Solas High Court, Caderyn O’ Ceithearnaigh-Ard, finds himself in the middle of the battle. Where he learns a McShayne witch is a prisoner of these dangerous creatures, but escapes into a tangled land of broken magic. The mysterious witch who enters the Court’s gardens, no matter the magical barriers, and draws Caderyn’s attention.
Needing help to help Larkin McShayne, he contacts another McShayne witch and his dragon. With their assistance, they try to draw Larkin out of the tangled lands and back to reality.
Only there is more to the witch, to the prince, and what faces the Court.
A quiet one, Nicole Dennis curled up with the latest book of a favorite author. Since the beginning, characters were in her head, worlds building themselves, and stories written. Now she can let others into her imagination and worlds that always celebrate the love between two or more people within LGBT, paranormal, and fantasy.
During the day, she works in a quiet office in Central Florida, where she also makes her home, and enjoys the down time to slip into her imagination. She is owned by a semi-demonic tortie calico, affectionately known as Fat Cat.
Nicole Dennis (website)
Nicole Dennis: Dreamers and Readers
Status updates this week:
We've reached Friday! This week, I'm reading to you from a historical from a different time period - Elizabethan London. Stage Struck is a gay erotic short by Ellie Thomas - brand new just this week! Come have a listen:
by Ellie Thomas
As a humble scribe living out a humdrum existence in the City of London in Elizabethan times, Stephen finds his escape across the river amongst the crowds of the teeming theatres where he is transported by the spectacle.
But poetry isn’t everything. When a young Welsh actor called Ioan catches his eye, he’s tempted to overcome his shyness and make his acquaintance. Is Stephen out of his depth in this colourful world with its undertones of danger? Or might there be a slim chance that Ioan can return his feelings?
Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.
Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.
First, quick reminders for anyone who still wants to pre-order paperbacks for signing and pickup at GRL in St. Louis this October:
Also, Amazon has chosen Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters for their September Monthly Deals. Normally, the book is $3.99, on sale all of September for $1.99. The publisher will be dropping the price at all other sellers to match. Yay!
It's Friday! This week, I have a new paranormal historical lesbian romance (Yay!!) by A. L. Lester - The Fog of War, #1 in the Bradfield trilogy.
Post WWI, strange happenings, village life - come have a listen!
The Fog of War
Bradfield Trilogy #1
by A. L. Lester
The quiet village of Bradfield should offer Dr Sylvia Marks the refuge she seeks when she returns home from her time in a field hospital in France in 1918. However, she is still haunted by the disappearance of her ambulance-driver lover two years previously ,and settling down as a village doctor is more difficult than she realised it would be after the excitement of front-line medicine. Then curious events at a local farm, mysterious lights and a hallucinating patient’s strange illness make her revisit her assessment of Anna’s death on the battlefield.
Lucille Hall-Bridges is at a loose end now her nursing work is finished. She felt useful as a nurse and now she really doesn’t know what to do with her life. She hopes going to stay with her friend Sylvia for a while will help her find a way forward. And if that involves staying at Bradfield with Sylvia…then that’s fine with her.
Will the arrival of Lucy at Bradfield be the catalyst that allows both women to lay their wartime stresses to rest? Can Sylvia move on from her love affair with Anna and find happiness with Lucy, or is she still too entwined in the unresolved endings of the past?
The first in the Bradfield trilogy, set in the Border Magic universe.
About A. L.:
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn't really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn't much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.
Facebook Group : Twitter : Newsletter : Website : Link-tree for everywhere else
To Chicago, specifically.
Next week, I'll be online rather less than usual since I'm flying out to Chicago to help with a move. Maybe I'll remember to take pictures while I'm there - miracles do happen!
Regular blog posts have been scheduled, so no interruption of those. :)
Angel writes (mostly) Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around queer heroes. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head, she has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.