I have some awesome things for you today! The Fey Hearted cover is pure magic. I thought I loved my other covers, but this one outshines them all.
As a child, Rose is told that the world is full of magic, mythical creatures, and mystery. As an teen, Rose knows that the world suits people who have ordinary hopes and dreams very well, but leaves people like her unsatisfied.
When a fey takes her through the Slit, and into a world she never knew existed, Rose is torn between the life she’s known and the magic from her dreams. The fey give Rose a simple choice: She can return home or she can spend the rest of her life in the fey world. However, there’s a steep cost. If she stays in the fey world she can never see her family again. If Rose is unwilling to remain, she will be returned to the human world with no memory of her night in the land of magic.
Rose accepts the fey’s offer and is introduced to the things she’s dreamt of her entire life. For a time, life finally lives up to her expectations, but when Rose hears that her grandmother is ill, she must find a way back to the human world to say her goodbyes. To see her grandmother, Rose must break the magic holding her in the fey word, find a way though the Slit, and escape the fey who stand in her way.
I’m currently planning a December release. Now, that’s a long time to wait. To tide you over, I have an excerpt! Remember, this is unedited and subject to change prior to publication.
Fey Hearted Excerpt
Outside was a path illuminated by globes of light that were floating in the air. At first glance they appeared stationary, but a longer looked proved that they were drifting. The path itself was a track worn smooth from the passing of feet. The trees looked the same as the ones in the park near her house, though there were more of them, and other than then tingle of energy in the air, the place seemed entirely normal.
As she walked, Silverlight glanced at her, a couple of times before he spoke. “It’s beautiful here, and there’s always a plant to help or an animal to heal.”
Rose nodded, her eyes locked on the lighting bugs flying around. At first they had seemed like the ones she’d ever seen back home, but then she noticed that they glowed in a different colors. There were blues, reds, greens, purples, pinks, oranges, and the traditional yellow. They were moving around the trees, making them look like they had been decorated with Christmas lights.
“Our settlement is called Veles.” Silverlight spoke quickly. “Many of the creatures of human lore are real. They live here. If you stay you’ll be able to meet them.”
“Silverlight,” Waterfall said.
Silverlight stopped talking and Rose tore her attention away from the lightning bugs. There were moths flying through the air, darting near the lights before flying away. A few of them looked to be the moths that would’ve been at home in her front yard, but then there were ones in glowing greens and bold purples. One, with long pointed wings, was as big as a dinner plate.
“Don’t be frightened,” Waterfall said.
“Of what?” Rose asked, looking around. Something zipped past her shoulder and was lost to the night.
Rose started to ask what had flown past her, but closed her mouth when a small white dragon flew over and hovered in front of her. It wings were flapping quickly, and is tail was curled. The dragon’s ears swiveled and it sneezed before flying away.
“Was that an illusion?” She hoped it was real. Rose had always wanted to see a real dragon.
“No,” Silverlight looked hurt. “We do not trick people into joining us.”
Waterfall whistled and the dragon came back. It looked at him for a moment before flying back over to Rose. She reached out a hand and the dragon moved until her hand was on its head. Rose gently moved her fingers over the top of its head.
The dragon’s skin was smooth, like that of a snake. It snorted and Rose pulled away. When her hand was by her side, the dragon flapped lazily and landed on her shoulder, curling its tail around her neck and leaning against her head. Rose reached up, brushing her fingers against its side. It sighed and leaned against her more heavily. It was only because she could feel the creature’s warmth that Rose believed this was happening. She was petting a dragon.
“Pearl likes you,” Silverlight smiled.
“Pearl. A fitting name for a beautiful creature,” Rose said. The dragon’s tail brushed her cheek.
“Rose, we need to continue. Pearl will stay, or not, as long as she desires.”
“All right,” Rose said. She took a step forward, certain that Pearl would return to the air, but the dragon seemed happy enough to stay perched on Rose’s shoulder.
Rose tried to look around, but her eyes were drawn back to Pearl. Even Rose’s most fantastic dreams hadn’t come up with something wonderful. She wondered what else this place had to offer.
A moment later, Silverlight pointed off into the woods. “Most of us live over there, in the field.”
“If you look over here, you can see the glowing mushroom. I believe it is unique to this side of the Slit,” Waterfall said.
Rose turned to look at the mushroom but froze when Pearl shifted. She didn’t want to upset the dragon, this was too amazing to end so soon. Pearl simply rearranged, lying across the back of Rose’s neck and heaving a sigh. Reaching up, Rose stroked the end of Pearl’s tail, which curled around her fingers. With the dragon settled, she turned her attention to the mushroom. Her eyes widened in surprise as she took in the green glow emanating from an ankle high, flat topped mushroom.
Kneeling down, she examined it more closely. The top was the size of a saucer and thick ribs lined the underside. The glow was the brightest around the top, slowly fading to nothing where the stalk met the ground. While she was examining it a moth landed on the mushroom. With tan edges on the moss green wings, it matched the mushroom. The moth flapped its wings and they began to glow the same color as the mushroom.
Rose didn’t know of any moths or mushrooms that glowed like this in the human world. Even if they did exist, she didn’t think the mushroom would be able to share the glow. This place, this magic, was what she had been looking for all this time.
“The moth is feeding off the energy emitted by the mushroom,” Waterfall said.
“Feeding? But moths eat things, like insects, don’t they?”
“Here you will find flora that make your fly traps and corpse flowers seem normal.”
Captivated, Rose trailed a finger down the stalk. It felt like just like the mushrooms back home. Only this one produced light and was paying host to a matching moth.
Waterfall shrugged. “Come along. There is more to see.”
Rose slowly got to her feet, not wanting to disturb Pearl. As they returned to the path, she did her best to look at everything. At first glance this place has seemed so like home, but the more she looked, the more she found things that were similar but different.
When they passed a maple tree, Silverlight removed two leaves. He offered on to her. “Try it.”
Rose held it awkwardly, unsure what he meant until he took a bite out of the leaf. She rotated the stem, getting a good look at it. As far as Rose could tell it was an ordinary maple leaf but she didn’t know anyone back home who would grab a leaf for a snack.
“I’m not sure about this,” Rose said.
“Please try it. I won’t hurt you.”
Rose nibbled on the edge. As soon as her teeth closed on it, she tasted maple syrup, but it was the essence of the flavor without any of the sugar. She eagerly tore another chunk off the leaf.
Rose rotated the leaf, ready to bit into the other side, when a white snout snatched it out of her hand.
“Hey, that was mine.”
Pearl slurped it down and rubbed her head against Rose’s cheek.
“That very cute, but that was my leaf.” Rose watched the dragon out of the corner of her eye.
Pearl licked Rose’s cheek, looked around for more, and pushed off of Rose’s shoulder, lazily flapping the few feet to a branch covered in trees.
“I guess she has a sweet tooth,” Rose said as Pearl tore a mouthful of leaves off the tree. “Wait, is it winter here? Back home it’s winter and maples don’t have leaves this time of year.”
“Ours seasons line up with yours and we have similar weather.” Silverlight answered. “These maples do not shed their leaves. A many things you learned about nature in the human world will not be true here, and this maple is one of the exceptions.”
Rose looked around, seeing for the first time how many of the trees around here were pines and other varieties that kept their leaves all year. The darkness and unique fauna had hidden the lack of foliage on the other trees. For a moment the mushroom being alive bothered her, but anything that emitted energy could figure out a way to thrive through winter.
A moth glowing blue and purple flew past and Rose knew this place couldn’t be a figment of her imagination, a dream that was born from too many stories and too much want. It was too vivid, too detailed, and too fantastic to be a dream. Grandmother had always said that if you believed enough you could find magic. She’d been right all this time.
“You keep saying I can stay, what is this place? What’s the catch?” There was always a catch with fey, or at least Grandmother’s stories always included one and if this place was real, Rose was willing to believe that there was a cost to enjoy this type of magic.
Waterfall seemed to select his words carefully. “You can stay. Would you like to see more, or return to the pavilion and discuss living here?”
Rose slowly pivoted taking in everything around her. There was more to discover here than she could take in tonight. If she could stay, it was worth learning the cost and weighing if it was worthwhile.
“Lets go back to the pavilion.” If that’s where the discussion was going to take place, Rose wanted to get it over with. This could turn out to be a trick and it would be better to find out now before she got attached to this place.
Waterfall took the lead, and Silverlight motioned for her to fall in behind him. As they walked away, Rose heard a rustled and looked back to see Pearl flying over with a hunk of maple leaves in her mouth. The dragon dropped on to her shoulder, still munching. As she settled in, she held out a single leaf that had been clutched in her paw.
“Thank you.” Rose took the leaf and bit into it, savoring the flavor. Pearl made a happy rumble and kept chewing on her mouthful. Rose tried to etch the experience in her memory. This could be her last good experience here.
Winter fall looked back and chucked. “You should feel honored, she doesn’t normally take to people like this.”
Rose finished her leaf, trying to figure out if there was some special meaning in his words. She hadn’t done anything to get Pearl to like her. The dragon had decided to curl up on her shoulder before they’d had more than the most basic interaction. In fact, Rose had scolded the dragon when she stole the maple leaf. Apparently in Pearl’s world bickering over maple leaves equaled friendship.
It was surreal to have a dragon perched on her shoulder. If you’d asked Rose this morning what she would do if confronted by a dragon, she would’ve said run for the nearest fireproof shelter. Never in her wildest dreams would she have thought of one riding on her shoulder. Even Grandmother’s stories hadn’t included dragons that were friendlier than most house pets.
There was a hiss and some flying creature came close enough to Rose that she felt the air swirl around her head. Ducking, she ran forward a few steps. The movement upset Pearl, who took the sky with a grumpy rumble. Rose hoped the dragon understood what had happened.
Pearl was still gaining altitude when the owl came back through, and this time Rose got a good look at it. In the light, it was clear that this wasn’t an ordinary owl. While the wings and body matched that of a barn owl, the face was that of a cat, and the hiss was distinctly more feline than avian.
That last hiss had been directed at Pearl, who made a grumpy sound and a tiny flame escaped her snout. The flame seemed to scare the other creature, and it changed its flight to move away from Pearl. Whatever was going on, it was between those two and didn’t involve Rose, for which she was grateful. She wouldn’t know what to do if a cat-owl hybrid attacked.
“Not nice, Esmeralda,” Silverlight corrected.
“What was that?” Not that it was clear that she wasn’t under attack, Rose was more curious than alarmed.
“Esmeralda? She’s a type of creature that’s unique to the fey land. We call her a fevian.”
“Do all the animals have names?” Rose asked, curious as to how he knew Pearl and the fevian on sight. There had to be others of their species that looked very similar. Maybe it was a fey trick.
“Just the ones who spend most of their time in this area. Not all of the creatures want to be around fey, but as you can see, Pearl likes the company. If you stay you will come to know them.” Waterfall paused. “As you may have noticed, you are no longer in the human world. Silverlight brought you here though the Slit, a type of portal, which allows travel between our world and yours.”
Rose nodded, wanting to believe that this was real and could be her home. However, she had doubts. What if this wasn’t real? What if the cost was too high? What would she do then? More importantly, could she be happy back home knowing she had given up a chance to spend her life experience this type of magic? This was a place were she could experience all the things she’d wished for since she was a little girl listening to Grandmother tell stories.
Esmeralda swooped by her and Rose got a good look at the ears that were a seamless blend of an owl’s ear tufts and cat ears. The feline face was blended seamlessly with the owl body. The fevainsnatched an unsuspecting mouse off the ground and carried it away. The light wasn’t good enough for Rose to see if there was anything unique about the mouse, but from the squeaks, it sounded ordinary. Though, ordinary was relative here.
Waterfall had been less that forth coming with the price of staying in this land. Grandmother had always said that there was a cost. Her stories had been very clear on that point. There was a price to pay for magic. If this was simply a figment of her imagination, which she doubted, there wouldn’t be a sacrifice. Reality was usually harsher. Not only would there be a cost, but it would be so steep few would agree. Either way, it would give Rose a metric for determining how real this place was and if it was worth staying.
If she didn’t stay, she was worried that she’d forever look back on this night and wish that she had. After all, it wasn’t often that you had a chance to make childhood reams come true.
They rounded a turn in the path and were back at the pavilion. Waterfall stepped to the side and motioned for her to ahead of him. The other two, Summersky and George, were back in their chairs behind the small table. Looking around, Rose searched for another place to sit, but it was the bed or stand. She picked the bed. Silverlight followed her in and stood a few feet from the end of the bed while Waterfall returned to his seat.
Waterfall looked at the other and more information than what a simple look could convey seemed to pass between them. Summersky nodded and said, “Silverlight, do you still wish to offer Rose a place here.”
Silverlight’s voice was steady. “Yes.”
Summersky nodded and focused on Rose. “You are welcome here.”
“What if I want to go home?” Rose asked, not wanting to hear the rest of what Summersky had to say until she knew what would happen if she went home.
“Then you shall be returned to your home, with no memory of this night,” George said.
Rose blinked. It was be as if this night had never happened. She would never know that the magic was real, that there was a place with a dragon that ate maple leaves and creatures that were a strangely beautiful blend to two species. There would be no memory of maple flavor filling her mouth from biting into a leaf, or of a dragon and fevain spat, or the colorful wings of the moths that put even the most exquisite butterfly from back home to shame.
All of that, and the chance to see anything else would be gone and she’d be back to a life of classes and bickering with her mother. Who knows, when they took the memory, the might also take the desire to experience the magic, and Rose could end up as obsessed with the practicalities of life as her mom, unable to look up and see beauty and mystery even when it was in her garden.
“And if I stay?” Rose was afraid to breathe. Everything hinged on their answer, and if it was worth the cost that she was sure had to be there. The stories about elves and fey always included a catch, that had to be more than a coincidence.
Summersky answered her this time. “You will move into your mentor’s dwelling, take classes, learn our way of life, and learn about the magic. You will enjoy a longer life and other benefits of being fey. Once you have adapted to this world, you will take your place in our society.” Summersky paused. “If you chose to stay, you will not be able to return to the human land for one hundred years.”
“But, my family?” Rose sucked in a breath. Not only would that put her family through the heartbreak of losing her, but also by the time she could return they would be dead. They would live their entire lives not knowing what happened to her, full of regret and wishing they’d done something differently.
There wouldn’t be any more afternoon teas with Grandmother, or family dinners, nights heckling the television. Rose wouldn’t be there when Paul got married, or her parents celebrated an anniversary, or to see the next painting Grandmother finished. She would miss their lives and be unable to properly mourn their deaths.
“How could you ask me to put them through that pain? How does anyone agree to leave their family?”
“We are not as cruel as that. Their memory of you would be clouded, and you absence dismissed. They wouldn’t think of you or miss you. To the humans it would be as if you were a dream, not a person to be missed and mourned.”
“But, I couldn’t go back… I’d never see them again?”
“No,” Summersky said gently. “You would never again see your family.”