High School Geography

In Instalove, a love spell is only the beginning of Avery Ward’s problems when strange things start happening at his school and he can’t get the guy he isn’t dating out of his head… or his heart.

This is a quote from the novel where Avery looks at a pretty boy, Chris Reyes, and thinks about their respective places in the world of high school.

If this square-shaped room had its edges sanded away and became a world onto itself, which it pretty much was even without more circular dimensions, then the table Chris sat at was probably North America. Flashy, the biggest and best, and pretty great all things considered. Just not exactly as great as many of the inhabitants believed. All the popular, attractive athletes sat there.

If this school were a world, my table would be, I don’t know, somewhere in Europe probably, but not the whole continent. Or if it were a continent, probably Australia. It seemed like a neat enough place, maybe even somewhere to visit, but not the center of attention.

If you come in peace

Are you familiar with familiars? These are the animal creatures that partner with witches and provide magical assistance. The most obvious potential example is probably a black cat. They exist in this world, though they work a little differently in my NA paranormal romance novel. (P.S. Yes, I laughed at my own cleverness for saying ‘familiar with familiars.’ Sometimes I’m easily amused.)

In Black Cats and Bad Luck, these supernatural entities partner with Witches who can use magic. This made things tricky for Avery Ward, magical later bloomer. At least everyone assumed this. Because nearly all the Wards, and everyone on his Mom’s side of the family too, have magical powers, even if only a little. And there’s already one family member with no gifts whatsoever, so what are the odds there will be two? Extremely slim, if its ever even happened before. So of course he’ll have powers. Probably.

The family figures Avery’s gifts haven’t been discovered yet when he’s around 8-years-old. His younger sister Stella’s gifts are active and growing and it won’t be long until she could use the help of a familiar, but he’s the oldest. It’s his job to ask the universe for a magical companion. Even though he has no powers. Yet. They’ll manifest eventually.

Except they don’t.

During the novel, Avery is 15 and the familiar who ended up choosing to live with his family, Horatio, has changed from a feline animal companion to a man. Neither truly animal nor man, Horatio is more a magical being, one of many who takes the shape of an animal. Except he’s unique when it comes to changing shapes in the middle of his familiar duties. This isn’t something familiars usually do, so the Ward family are trying to figure out how this happened while Avery thinks back on the ritual he performed to call a familiar to him. There’s a little bit of this in the novel, though this is a larger version.

~

Avery

“Even if we couldn’t mark your arrival down on the calendar,” Dad said, “we were expecting you a few years earlier.”

“I couldn’t come then,” said Horatio. As everyone stared at him, he opened his mouth to say more before faltering. “Um… the only part I know is I couldn’t come then.”

Great, the focus shifted, and I could feel everyone’s eyes on me.

“Why would he need to?” Stella wondered. “For Avery? He—”

“Yeah,” I interrupted. “I don’t have much use for a familiar.”

Horatio stared at me and I managed not to fidget. “That wasn’t it. I, I… I just.”

“Couldn’t come earlier?” I filled in.

“Precisely,” he agreed. He mouthed the word ‘precisely’ again.

Despite having little use for a familiar, I performed the ritual anyway at age seven or eight. Did he even hear me? I suppose I could ask him. Anyone could perform spells, the results were what differed. With prayers, well. Mom said prayers weren’t spells or magick, they were special requests. All you needed was a thought, belief, and the courage to ask. So despite not manifesting any abilities, then or ever, I performed the Request.

I faintly remembered saffron in the air, opening the big bay windows in the living room, looking up to the sky dotted with stars, and lighting the yellow candle that made me sneeze. Mom stood behind me the whole time, helping me perform the activity. There were formal words I could recite, something about seeking an ally to join me as I journeyed deeper into the craft. Or the more folksy, ‘if you come in peace for partnership, please come in.’ Though if there were something else in my heart, I should speak that instead. I remember searching for the brightest star and starting there, then finding one so distant I could barely see it, thinking maybe I would find an answer somewhere between those two points.

Please, I began, voicing the desire in my heart. I found there was nothing else to say. Please, please, please, I asked every star near and far.

That was back when we thought my powers would come one day. They didn’t. Neither did Horatio. Not until a few years later when Stella performed the request and there he was on our doorstep the very next day.

~

Former Feline Familiars (is this a tongue twister?)

For my new novel and series, I put together some posts that are an introduction to the world and characters of Black Cats and Bad Luck. This paranormal romance is available for free. It’s a new adult gay romance about magic, familiars, dreams, and monsters.

One of the main characters is Horatio, a former familiar who is seeking his true love. You know how shapeshifters are a hot trend in fiction now? This is kind of like that, except it only works in one direction and only once. He spent some time in cat form, though he isn’t really a cat. Because when I try to write shapeshifters, apparently my brain cooperates to a point and then does its own thing.

In this scene, Horatio meets up with the young witch he lived and worked with, her older brother Avery, and his friend Jonah.

~

Avery

“Horatio is a cat.” I went over the facts, seeking comfort from them. “He eats from a black dish with little stars decorating the outside. He gets hair all over my pillows, he smacks me in the face with his tail. Because he’s a cat, our—”

“I hope you weren’t going to say pet,” he interrupted sternly.

“He’s right, Avery,” Stella said. Great, they were both glaring at me. “We don’t own him, we never did.”

Rubbing my face with both hands, I groaned. What the hell I did not even believe in? What the hell? All I could say was, “He’s not Horatio.”

“I am Horatio,” the guy argued.

“And you were lonely, so you followed us here?” And also grew human parts.

“No, you’re where I need to be, and I can sense you strongly. You’re my bridge between worlds.”

Not sure what to do with that, I only weakly said, “Horatio is a cat.”

“I was,” he agreed. “But no longer.”

Everyone had gone insane. I did not have enough sanity on my own to bring them all back to reality. So I did the only thing I could. I gave up, falling back on the bed, closing my eyes, and wishing the world a fond farewell. It would have to get along without me.

“Oh my god.” Jonah laughed. “Awesome! Are you serious?”

Distantly, a reasonable part of myself tried to mount a defense. It argued I shouldn’t allow a naked, possibly deranged guy to waltz in here just because he guessed the name of our cat.

 If anyone else showed up out of nowhere buck-naked claiming to be a family pet, or a rough equivalent, they would be full of shit. But this guy? I believed him. While the shape of him changed, he was still Horatio.

— the rest is available here. For free!

Plancakes, scene from YA novel

Ryan and Luke are the main characters of the One More Thing Series, but in Falling in Love and Other Bad Ideas, they are supporting characters. Which means they get up to even more nonsense than usual, something I hadn’t known was possible until writing this book.

Here is a quote and a scene from the story. In it, Ryan and Luke are trying to uncover the secret, painful backstory of their friend Zach. Partly because they are trying to figure out why he never dates and partly because Ryan is nosy. Ryan and Luke both came up with plans for finding the truth, and this is from Luke’s plan.

~

Ryan and Luke are the main characters of the One More Thing Series, but in Falling in Love and Other Bad Ideas, they are supporting characters. Which means they get up to even more nonsense than usual, something I hadn’t known was possible until writing this book.

Here is a quote and a scene from the story. In it, Ryan and Luke are trying to uncover the secret, painful backstory of their friend Zach. Partly because they are trying to figure out why he never dates and partly because Ryan is nosy. Ryan and Luke both came up with plans for finding the truth, and this is from Luke’s plan.

~

Ryan

Luke! Plan! Plancake! I think that summed up the relevant information, though the last one was ‘plan’ and ‘pancake’ combined. Okay, ambushing Zach at his locker was probably the best part of this plan. The rest of Luke’s plan was like him. Simple yet beautiful. No, wait, I was only thinking of Luke. Luke was beautiful. His plan was—

Luke said, “There must have been one girl you were crazy about.”

“You should check your facts again,” Zach responded.

Luke’s plan was stupid.

Normally, it would be Ryan who barreled on anyway. But in this case, I pulled a Luke and stayed silent until I knew where this was going. Luke pulled a me instead and… none of this was the right way to phrase… any of this.

“Come on,” Luke insisted. “There were some girls who lasted longer than the others. You must have really liked them.”

Suspicious but not annoyed enough to leave the conversation, Zach only shrugged and said, “Maybe.”

“Any you still carry a torch for?”

“Nope.”

“What about a guy?”

“Still no.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Huh.”

Oh my god. I brewed a truth serum and Luke’s plan was asking Zach basic questions. The terribleness was so terrible that the only option was for me to begin a sarcastic slow clap.

“Oh wait,” Luke said before I could clap. “We were talking about people you dated. What about people who didn’t fall for your charms?”

“Those people are fictiona—”

“I was there,” Luke interrupted. “At least sometimes. What about A Girl’s Name?” Yes, Luke said the actual girls name, so I paraphrased. “Or Other Girl? Could it be this Other Girl’s Name?” He asked things like that, with Zach responding in the negative each time.

Until Luke began, “What about Danielle N—”

 Zach cut in with, “I thought you were forbidden from ever speaking of her again?”

“Jackpot,” I breathed.

-The rest of the book is available here.