Meet Jonah

Magic exists in the world of Black Cats and Bad Luck, but not everyone comes into contact with witches and extraordinary powers. Though Witches have come out of the broom closet and are part of mainstream society, most people are aware of magic but don’t witness it themselves unless they are connected to Pagans and the magical community in some way.

Jonah Harris is a human teenager who’s curious about the supernatural world and excited to experience magic first hand. He figures his in is his best friend Avery Ward, who comes from a powerful magical family. But after years of friendship, Avery keeps that side of his life almost entirely hidden. So being invited on a Ward family trip the summer after their sophomore year is finally his chance to see how the magical folk live.

Until Jonah learns everybody is abstaining from using powers for the majority of the trip. While the amount of magic they’re expecting, next to none, might not be the actual amount that occurs in this fantasy novel (it’s not) Jonah seems to have the worst luck when it comes to seeing magic. So much so that he begins suspecting supernatural interference.

P.S. Very Serious Author Note? I adore Jonah. He’s kind of like Ryan from my One More Thing Series in that they’re both tall, skinny tornadoes of excitement and enthusiasm. But he’s also the lone character in this novel with virtually no supernatural contact beforehand, so it’s fun as he explores this new world with fresh eyes.

In this scene, Horatio makes the case for why qualifies as astounding magic. He’s a mystical being and magical miracle who transformed from animal to human form, but Jonah isn’t exactly impressed.

~

Mason

Jonah was still dying to see magic.

“What about me, cat given human flesh?” Horatio offered as he and Jonah began chatting.

“I guess…”

 “You aren’t impressed?”

 “This doesn’t happen often, or so I hear. That’s…” He tried and failed to summon enthusiasm. “Neat.”

“Yes, it’s extremely rare.” Horatio stood taller, proud of his exceptional nature. “If this isn’t wowing you, then I’m afraid nothing will.”

 “No, hold on. It’s not like I watched you transform into a man. I only know you as a man. Yeah, I knew distantly Avery had a pet cat.” Jonah raised his hands before the protests could begin. “Before this trip, I didn’t know about familiars or anything, so I thought the cat was a pet. And I don’t really connect you to a cat whose name I might have guessed started with an ‘H,’ but I would have said Harry or Hornbat.”

Avery asked, “Where did you come up with Hornba—”

“Or Jiggles,” Jonah interrupted, looking to Horatio. “Your name was never Jiggles?”

~

Grab your copy of this 99 cent queer paranormal romance here.

Wood…

Black Cats and Bad Luck is a magical fantasy novel with witches and familiars. And magic! Obviously. While one of the main characters, Mason, has strange dreams that might be magical, unless he’s crazy, Mason himself isn’t part of the magical community. He does have one strange power in this deleted scene from the novel.

~

Mason

Different elements resonated with different people. Some possessed the fiery temperament of a raging inferno. Others were steady and calm as a peaceful river. Many Pagans were at home in the forest, the earth welcoming them in while birdsong created a melody, the perfect natural soundtrack.

Mason Lewis wasn’t any of those things.

If I guessed my affinity, I’d go with… wood. Which either sounded boring or suggestive. Though if wood spoke to me, then the message it delivered was extremely specific. Maybe because I worked with wood often or because the jobs I did on the side had a magical component, the first time I rested my hand on a wooden piece, I could get a sense of its creation. Here in the reception area of the hotel, I rested my palm on the tall counter at the front desk and a clear sense of mass production filled my mind.

Heh, this place came across as rustic and woodsy, all the furniture resembling pieces someone could hypothetically craft with their own two hands. There were spacious, oversized wooden coffee tables, desks, and chairs, all polished until gleaming in dark browns. No woodworker in a secluded forest hideaway made any of it. I touched it and heard ‘assembly line’ loud and clear.

These were my idle thoughts as I waited for my guests. At this relatively early hour, the place still smelled strongly of wood polish with something fresh in the air too. An older couple leisurely made their way in, and the man checked in while the woman with him walked right over to me. Her honeysuckle perfume couldn’t be detected until she wrapped her arms around me in a hug.

Instead of saying hello, she greeted me with, “Aren’t you going to shave your beard?” A hand moved to pat my cheek and rub at the scruff there as if it could be scrubbed away with a little elbow grease. “The pictures from this event will be with us forever.”

“Good to see you too, Grandma,” I greeted, unable to keep the smile off my face as we separated.

~

Characters

Here’s a brief introduction to the main characters in Black Cats and Bad Luck.

Mason Lewis is a 23-year-old carpenter from Colorado. He has a tendency to keep people at arm’s length, partly because he had a difficult time with his Dad’s death as a teen. It’s also hard to get close to anyone due to his strange dreams of a potential soulmate.

Fun fact, his last name is Lewis for Lewis Carrol, who is mentioned and quoted a few times in the book.

I used a picture of Aaron Taylor-Johnson for Mason here. Other actors I imagine are age-fitting versions of Tom Hardy, Jason Momoa, and Ryan Hurst (Opie from Sons of Anarchy, except with less crazy hair and tattoos.)

Horatio is a magical being who used to live in feline form as a witch’s familiar. He’s a lot of fun because he’s the ‘fish out of water’ kind of character who is exploring the modern world for the first time. He’s sure of his connection to Mason, but less sure of things like movies, baseball, and ice cream.

For  him, I picture younger versions of Ian Somerhalder, Cillian Murphy, or Reid Scott. I also keep changing my mind on whether Ben Feldman (from Superstore) would work.

Giveaways!

I signed up for many giveaways in March. Not entirely on purpose, but this is the first month where I could join fantasy and paranormal romance groups, so I got a little carried away. The bright side is there are many free books available.

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!

Cover for Black Cats and Bad Luck

For this cover reveal I feel like I should have built up the moment more or done something fancy because I LOVE this cover. Instead, I’m going to wing it in my usual fashion. This book is new for me because it’s my first contemporary fantasy and new adult novel. It’s still a gay romance about magic, familiars, and a love story that began in dreams.

This complete, full-length novel of around 100,000 words should soon be available in many places, but is now only offered in giveaways like this one. It is abundantly obvious to me that I didn’t make this, though you might not be aware if you don’t know me. This cover was made for me and is probably my favorite cover for any of my books.

Here’s a scene from the book. During this section, Avery Ward and his family are arriving at a resort in the Colorado wilderness for a vacation and family reunion. Avery thinks he knows how much magic will occur on this trip (not much.) Avery is wrong.

~

Avery

Around the resort, everything looked picture perfect with fresh cut grass, flowers, and shrubs neatly lining walking paths. The well-maintained areas eventually gave way to the woods. A seemingly endless forest surrounded the property. Outdoorsy types, Pagans, nature lovers, and so on would really appreciate the place. The air was so full of an earthy scent, reminiscent of pine with other notes I couldn’t wait to uncover.

It was difficult to feel anything other than cheerful and optimistic when in a place so beautiful. This would be—

“Awful,” proclaimed Jonah Harris, the friend I’d been allowed to invite along. “This is the worst thing I’ve ever heard! We’re stuck here all week and there’s no magic? Not even a little bit? None? None at all?”

Stella and I exchanged a glance. You tell him, she wordlessly expressed. He’s your friend.

“Yeah,” I confirmed wearily. “None means none.”

“But…” He made a pathetic noise. “What the hell?”

Hefting his blue travel bag over his shoulder, Jonah sagged under its weight. He was mixed race with dark hair and brown skin. He stood much taller than me, yet he reminded me of a kid closer to Stella’s age, one who just discovered the fat present bringing man, uh, who… oh. Jonah resembled a kid who just found out Santa wasn’t real, desperately seeking confirmation from his parents, wanting to believe any alternative to the truth if given the chance.

“Did I forget to mention the ‘no magic’ thing?” I asked even though the answer was clear. Why should I have mentioned it? It wasn’t going to be any different from our regular life. Well, mine and Jonah’s.

Jonah kicked at the dirt of the parking lot. “Man, this sucks.”

“I know how you feel,” Stella consoled. “I couldn’t even bring my familiar.” She sent me a worried look. “I hope he’ll be okay on his own.”

“There will be magic after the ceremony,” I promised Jonah.

“That’s at the very end! The whole reason I came on this trip—” He cut off abruptly.

“No, keep going,” I prompted. “The whole reason you came on a trip with me, your very best friend—”

“Best male friend,” he clarified, suddenly able to carry his bag with ease and walking ahead.

We were both males so, “That’s the most important kind,” I told his back.

“How sexist,” he accused, wheeling around in outrage. “Really, is this the example you wanna set for your little sister?”

“I’m repeating what you said when you complained forever because I—”

“You invited Heather first over me! Thanks for reminding me. I’m still deeply hurt, by the way. We probably shouldn’t mention any of this ever again unless we want to ruin the trip.” Too bad Heather couldn’t come. She was busy. Jonah waited a few seconds before asking, “Did I successfully turn things around?”

“It is a free trip,” Stella noted. “Whether there’s magic or not, it’s a pretty good deal.”

“Thank you, Stella,” I said, smiling at Jonah. But I couldn’t help the feeling that it would be a long week.

–the full story is available here.

New YA Books

What’s new in YA right now and what’s on the horizon?

I have no idea!

Everything is just so much, all the time, you know? Maybe not, because what I said doesn’t make a ton of sense, but I can’t keep up with new releases. So it’s good there’s other people out there to do that for me.

I found this list of YA fiction being released in July-September. These are all sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. The full list is here, but I figured I would just mention the queer ones. Because Hella Gay YA and all that.

The Infinite Noise: A Bright Sessions Novel  by Lauren Shippen

Description: Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.

Release: Sept. 24

The only podcasts I’ve ever listened to are fictional ones about gay characters and true crime, and I’m sure there’s other types that are really good… but yeah, I’m only interested in podcasts if there’s true crime or queer characters and hopefully less crime.

Basically, it’s really cool that The Bright Sessions podcast is a book now.

 Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Description: There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question–How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Release: Sept. 10

Jam is trans and selectively nonverbal, and this book sounds interesting and too scary for me. I have begun to very, VERY slowly enjoy a little bit of horror, mostly by accident. Otherwise I am a big coward and there’s no shame in that because I said so.

Red Skies Falling (The Skybound Saga) by Alex London

Description: Kylee is ensconsed in the Sky Castle, training with Mem Uku to master the Hollow Tongue and the Ghost Eagle. But political intrigue abounds and court drama seems to seep through the castle’s stones like blood from a broken feather. Meanwhile, Brysen is still in the Six Villages, preparing for an attack by the Kartami. The Villages have become Uztar’s first line of defense, and refugees are flooding in from the plains. But their arrival lays bare the villagers’ darkest instincts. As Brysen navigates the growing turmoil, he must also grapple with a newfound gift, a burgeoning crush on a mysterious boy, and a shocking betrayal.

Release: Sept. 3

Game of Thrones but gayer. And YA.

Is Game of Thrones already gay? I’m gonna get around to watching that eventually. I’m guessing there’s less gay people dying in horrific ways in this novel. Again, I don’t watch GoT, but it always seems like somebody is dying in horrific ways.

Of Ice and Shadows (Of Fire and Stars) by Audrey Coulthrust

Description: Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.

As rising tensions and unexpected betrayals put Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerge on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?

Release: August 13

This is the book where, whenever I see the first one on the list of top 100 queer YA novels, I’m like that looks cool, I should read that. And then I remember my KU is filled with M/M teen romances because those are the ones I write and occasionally blog about, but I  read real slow, so I don’t read this yet.

True story. I’m sure all of this really helped you with your reading selections. I still want to read the first one, then this second one, because I have to go in order and because fantasy novel about princesses in love.

 

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre

I’m including the cover of one book that may not be queer, or isn’t as far as I can tell, but I liked the tagline. So simple but memorable. This one also might be too scary for me, but again, love the tagline.