Sneak Peek: Faerie Fallen

Enjoy Chapters 1 – 3 of Faerie Fallen, Book 1 of Feathered Fae, an all-new upper-YA romantic fantasy series!

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Chapter 1

The night before we left Earth, I snuck out of our hotel and went to a club. Nobody guessed I was using a fake ID. Guess I should thank my dad for his beard-growing genes. I’m the only fifteen-year-old guy I know who never has a problem passing for eighteen. 

I wish I could say it was fun, but I couldn’t get into it. All I could think as I watched people partying was: You’re trying to forget you’re stuck on a planet that’s killing you.

Journal of a Trasnan Colonist by Ellit Myers
February 7, 2552

Sela strode down the dark alley, the high heels of her boots crunching on dirt and trash. She stopped before an unmarked door covered in peeling, green paint. A quick glance left, then right, confirmed she was alone. She raised her fist.

Three knocks. Pause. Two more. Every rap sent specks of dry paint flying.

The door cracked open. “Password?” a low, gruff voice asked.

Everything,” Sela replied.

The bouncer pulled open the door, allowing her to squeeze in. “Have fun.” He gestured down a flight of stairs.

Sela lifted her chin and met his gaze. “Having a password is overkill. I did the secret knock. The longer that door is open, the more likely someone will hear the drums.”

“There’s two more thick doors between us and the club. Can’t hear nothing up here.”

Sela released just enough of her glamour to reveal the points of her ears, then pushed her long, dark blonde hair behind them. “Some of us can.”

The bouncer’s thick, black brows rose, and a short chuckle exited his muscular chest. “I’ll keep that in mind. Have fun, faerie.”

“I plan to.” She returned her ears to their rounded state.

She was halfway down the stairs when he called, “You don’t need to hide who you are here, you know.”

Sela didn’t look back. “I know.” It was why she’d been looking forward to visiting this club, why she’d flown so far to get here. Faeries couldn’t legally establish close social relationships with mortals, but this place, hidden underground in the small human city of Taria, attracted people who didn’t much care for rules.

So why the glamour? She pondered that as she closed a door behind her and strode through a dimly lit corridor, the thump of drums now reverberating in her feet. At this club, she could reveal herself as Fae and attract neither worship nor fear. 

But ever since she could remember, Sela had wanted to experience life as a human. With her ears rounded, wings gone, skin blemished, eyes lightened to gray-blue, and hair turned a bit frizzy and dull, she could imagine she was mortal, embracing the thrilling uncertainty that entailed.

The band got louder as she strode down the hall. At the end was a heavy door, which she pulled open. Music, full of percussive bass and enthusiastic strings, hit her full force.

All at once, hesitation weighed down her feet. She’d just come from a full-moon revel in the Seelie Court, the expansive Fae region where she’d lived since her birth. She dreaded such large, crowded parties, only enjoying them when she got the chance to act, sing, or dance before her fellow faeries. At tonight’s revel, she’d had no role to play but herself, and she’d felt as awkward as ever. 

So she’d left . . . and instead of relaxing at home, she’d come straight to this club. Yes, it promised to be as loud and packed as the revel. But she always enjoyed herself more in mortal lands than in her own Fae Realm.

Now, confronted with a roomful of loud people she didn’t know, Sela regretted the choice­—for a moment. Until a quick glance at her glamoured body reminded her why she loved coming to places like this. In her human disguise, she was blissfully anonymous. She could be anyone she wanted to be. Tonight, she told herself, you’re playing a confident human. Have fun. Be a little wild.

Flush with sudden boldness, Sela stepped into the club and let the door shut behind her. Several people’s gazes traveled over her long hair and tight, blue dress, but no one approached. She stood against the wall, taking in the room.

Most of the space was dim enough that a true mortal would have trouble making out details. Her Fae sight, however, allowed her to see it all. The crowded room was several times smaller than the Seelie courtyard she’d been in for the revel. A band played instrumental dance music on a small corner stage in the back. 

A couple dozen people, more mortals than faeries, mingled at a bar that ran along the left wall. Dancing bodies filled the center of the room. The Seelies back at Court would be shocked to know that the humans in this room moved with as much abandon as the Fae.

More movement caught Sela’s eyes, and her gaze lifted. Eight raised platforms jutted from the walls above the corner stage. Two were empty, but colored lights highlighted dancers in the other six spaces. Narrow railings kept them from toppling to the floor below. A human man writhed on one platform. On the next was another mortal, this one a woman, dancing enthusiastically with a Fae female. 

Sela’s gaze shifted to the next platform, and she froze.

Two faeries danced in the cramped space, pressed close together, hands wandering over each other’s bodies. One was male, his starkly pale skin reflecting the lights. Curled horns protruded from either side of his head, and three large, flat, triangular growths, mottled gray in color, emerged from his spine like a row of carnivorous teeth. His muscular body was covered by nothing but a pair of very small, very tight black shorts, likely a concession to the mortals, who weren’t as comfortable with nudity as the Fae.

The female dancing with the male was just as monstrous. Her skin was deep, pinkish red, and her short, silver hair stuck out in sharp spikes. She had button-like bulges all over her skin, and when she lifted her arm to stroke the male’s face, she revealed a translucent, sail-like membrane, deep burgundy in color. It ran along the inside of her arm and continued down her side, all the way to her hip. Sela could imagine her taking to the air, gliding with her arms extended, floating on the wind. She wore a short dress, its sides open to accommodate the membranes, and as her body undulated against her partner’s, the slits left little to the imagination.

“Damn,” Sela breathed.

Next to her, a man laughed. “My thoughts exactly.”

Sela pulled her eyes away from the faeries and found a tall mortal with a dimpled smile and buzzed black hair standing next to her. He looked a little older than most of the faeries she knew, which probably meant he was in his early twenties. Unless faeries left the magic of the Realm for an extended time, they perpetually appeared on the cusp of adulthood. Sela, who at eighteen had barely started her immortal life, would never look older than she did now.

The man was watching the same platform that had caught Sela’s attention, but when she turned his way, he brought his deep-brown eyes to her. “When you get closer, you can see even more. Wild, isn’t it?” His voice was a pleasant rumble.

Sela didn’t tell him she could see the details, in all their grotesque glory, from here. “I can’t believe they let Unseelies in the door.”

“Why not? As long as they don’t cause trouble.”

Asking Unseelie Fae not to cause trouble was like asking a raincloud to avoid bursting. Sela’s eyes found the dancing monsters again. All they were doing at the moment was feeling each other up in front of a crowd, but Unseelies were faeries of chaos. Even mortals should know that.

“I hope I’m not being too forward,” the man next to her said, “but you look great. There’s just one thing wrong.”

Once again stepping into her role—confident, lovely young mortal woman, here for a good time—Sela smirked. “Is there?”

“One minor thing. You don’t have a drink.”

She laughed. “I just got here.”

“Can I buy you one?”

She took his hand. “Lead the way.”

At the bar, Sela let him choose her drink, confident it wouldn’t affect her. Faeries had to drink massive quantities of human alcohol to get intoxicated. He ordered a complicated-sounding cocktail, then told her about his schooling at the university in Rannik.

“I’m only here for the weekend, visiting my parents,” he said. “We have a house on the shore . . .”

As he kept talking, Sela held his gaze and nodded at the right places. Half the time, however, she was listening to nearby conversations, trying, as always, to refine her knowledge of Erden, the mortals’ language. Were they using any new slang? Had she made any tiny errors in her carefully cultivated accent? 

“That boat sounds amazing,” Sela told the man beside her as the bartender handed her a drink. “How long have your parents owned it?” 

As he responded, she took a sip and again listened to the conversations around her. A nearby voice caught her attention. 

“I mean, look at that mouth,” a man was saying. “Those are kissable lips if I ever saw any. How about we dance? Get to know each other a little?”

A woman replied, “I told you, I’m enjoying my drink, and I don’t want to dance.”

“I refuse to believe a beautiful woman like you doesn’t want to dance.”

Forget polite eye contact. Sela needed to figure out who this jerk was. Her gaze swept over the bar, settling on a mortal man and woman who stood nearby. The woman’s back was against a barstool, and she held her drink in front of her with both hands, her elbows in and shoulders taut, her stance anything but inviting. The man stood in front of her, one hand on the bar, the other on her cheek. “You’re cute when you frown,” he said.

That was definitely him. Sela’s teeth clenched. Her first instinct was to get in the mortal’s face and tell him to find someone who was actually interested in his beer breath (which she could smell from here), but something told her if she did, he’d double down and get more aggressive. Plus, judging from the unshed tears glistening in the woman’s wide eyes, Sela guessed she didn’t want a crowd of people looking at her.

Distraction. That’s what this guy needs. Sela turned to the man next to her, who was still talking about his parents’ boat. With a quick smile, she said, “Thanks for the drink.” She left the fancy beverage on the bar and spun around. A few steps brought her to the man, whose hand had now found the poor woman’s waist.

Time for another performance. Sela thrust out her chest and lifted a hand to circle her fingers around the man’s bicep. When he turned to look at her, she squeezed his arm and breathed, “I know I’m being forward, but I’ve had my eyes on you all night.”

He gave her a quick once-over, then pulled his arm away, muttering, “I’m busy.”

Ahh, so he was even more of an ass than Sela had guessed. His ego would drive him to bully the woman who’d humiliated him until she gave in. 

Sela drew in a deep breath, trying to connect with the character she was now playing—sexy, irresistible flirt—when she noted the man licking his lips, moving in toward the other woman, his mouth targeting hers.

Instinct took over. Sela dropped her glamour, returning to her natural form. It wasn’t just her ears, which tapered to points. Her hair changed too, turning glossy and golden and long enough to cover her butt. Her body lengthened, and her waist narrowed. While she couldn’t see her own face, she knew her eyes were bright blue, her skin smooth and free of imperfections, and her teeth straight and even. The man before her might’ve ignored all that, distracted as he was, were it not for the large, feathered wings—white with a hint of pale pink in the right light—that appeared at her back. She spread them quickly, too concerned for the woman pressed against the bar to care about nearby partiers who might get shoved out of the way by the soft, heavy feathers.

The man halted, lips a centimeter from his victim, his half-closed eyes catching sight of the movement beside him. He straightened and turned toward Sela, his features now hard. Then he realized who—what—was coming onto him. His gaze, hot with lustful expectation, burned into her form. “Well,” he drawled, “would you look at that?”

When he stepped toward Sela, the woman he’d been terrorizing slipped into the crowd, her single, soft sob finding Sela’s pointed ears.

Sela gave the man a ravishing smile. Aware of the dozens of eyes now fixed on her, she used a bit of magic to amplify her voice. “I saw you with that woman.” Her tone was smooth. Seductive.

“You’re ten times the girl she is.” He’d doubtless heard all the stories of how amazing faeries were as lovers. Mostly embellished tales, Sela’s experience told her. His meaty hand drifted toward her.

She grabbed it and squeezed it hard enough to make him grimace and grunt. Tone as sultry as before, she said, “If I ever see you forcing your disgusting self onto someone again, I’ll cut off your balls and feed them to the Unseelies on that platform.” She pointed, and he looked that way, covering his groin with his free hand. “They look hungry, don’t they?”

He whimpered.

“Go home.” She flung his hand away and watched him push through the crowd toward the doors.

Several humans and faeries approached Sela, congratulating her and saying how awful the man had always been. Sela assured them she didn’t typically threaten mortals. They laughed off her explanation, clearly loving the role she’d chosen to play tonight.

Defending that woman hadn’t been a Fae-like action. Sure, faeries helped humans, using magic to heal them and make their lives easier and more secure. But they didn’t step into human conflicts. They kept their distance, while inviting gratitude and, in some cases, outright worship.

Sela had stood up for a mortal. She’d used crude language, dropping the veneer of civility faeries were taught to wear before humans. Older faeries in the Realm would’ve been horrified by her words. They’d always encouraged her to portray herself as a heavenly benefactor. While some other faeries had feathered wings, hers were the only ones that looked like they belonged on an angel. She’d even been named after a heavenly being from human legends—the angel Selaphiel. Well-meaning Fae told her that by acting as angelic as she looked, she could encourage more humans to trust faeries. 

Sela rarely spoke to Ri Ellair, the Seelie king, but she often sensed he kept an eye on her. Maybe he had plans for the faerie with glorious wings who’d grown up in the Court he ruled. How would he react if he knew about her coarse tongue and willingness to get involved in a conflict between two random mortals?

The actions hadn’t come naturally to Sela, but she found she liked this person she was pretending to be. One who, like the mortals and faeries in this illegal club, didn’t care about Fae rules and expectations.

Someone tapped Sela’s shoulder. Realizing how much space she was taking up with her huge wings, she tucked them against her back. Then she turned and found a young woman with short, spiky blonde hair, smiling at her.

“Want to earn some money?” the woman asked. Seeing Sela’s confused expression, she laughed. “I work here—I promise it’s legit. You’re Fae; I assume you can dance?”

“It’s one of my favorite things to do.”

The woman pointed at one of the empty platforms above the stage. “You’d be a hit up there.” 

A grin took over Sela’s lips, and she allowed the woman to lead her to a room far enough away that the music was little more than a deep, pulsing beat.

“Every dancer up there is a paid performer,” the woman said. “This angel thing you’ve got going on—I love it. Can we play that up with your wardrobe? A theater group meets here, and we use their costumes.”

Sela’s gut tightened. Lowering herself to entertain mortals would get her in deep trouble with the Fae leaders if they ever got wind of it. Faeries had put on a few shows for humans in the early days after Earth’s settlers arrived, but Ri Ellair had put a stop to that, saying it kept humans from taking them seriously. Visiting a forbidden club was bad enough; did Sela want to put a literal spotlight on herself?

Then she thought about how the Seelies back home would react if they’d seen her confrontation with the jerk at the bar. The king would shake his head sadly. Her mother would sigh, then leave her alone to deal with the consequences. Other faeries would gape at her in confusion. Why can’t you just be like us, enjoying the life you were born into?

They’d be wrong. As they so often were. Sela felt more alive in this club than she’d ever felt in the Seelie Court. This moment, she sensed, was a tipping point. Would she play it safe? Make this a one-time thing before returning to her peaceful existence in the Fae Realm? Or would she continue to take risks, playing the roles that thrilled her, consequences be damned?

She met the woman’s eyes. “Let’s do it.”

Fifteen minutes later, she’d donned an outfit modeled after ancient armor. But the costume wouldn’t protect her from even a dull blade. It was lightweight and incredibly soft, made of sidana edau—a fabric the mortals called squirrel silk

A golden band around Sela’s neck connected to a skintight, glimmering, bronze-colored shirt that left her shoulders, arms, and back uncovered. Connected to that was a skirt made of short, narrow panels. Matching briefs underneath provided a bit of modesty. Fabric greaves on her shins, plus delightfully bare feet, completed the look. It was terribly impractical as armor but divine as a dance costume. Sela did a little shimmy, laughing as the flaps of her skirt flew out.

The woman handed her a lightweight spear, dagger, and shield. “They’re cheap, but they’ll look great from the dance floor.”

Soon, they were climbing a set of narrow steps. They turned onto a walkway and stopped at a door. “Give them a show,” the woman said. “There’s a bottle of water in the corner. Come downstairs if you need a break.” She opened the door.

Keeping her wings tight against her back, Sela stepped onto the platform. A few shouts went up from people who saw her, and that was all she needed to give herself over to the thrumming music. She set down the spear and dagger, using the shield to tease the audience, dancing behind it, revealing bits of her costume and gyrating form, before finally putting it aside. Cheers reached her ears, and she picked up the spear next, dancing with it like it was her partner.

At first, she gloried in the crowd’s reactions, but as her body warmed and cool sweat beaded on her skin, she forgot about the people below and simply moved, losing herself in the music.

After perhaps half an hour, her legs were heavy. She stopped for a drink of water but wasn’t ready to give up the rush of performing. The woman who’d brought her up here had said to give them a show—so Sela spread her wings and flew into the air above the stage and dance floor.

The reaction was instantaneous enthusiasm—shouts and whistles and a single hollered marriage proposal from someone who clearly didn’t understand Fae views on lifelong commitment. As the band got louder, Sela swooped and spun in the air, timing her movements to their music. It was a type of flying dance she often indulged in during Seelie revels . . . but this was better. Here, she was free, soaring in an atmosphere made light by the open minds below.

She only flew for a few minutes. Leave them wanting more, fellow performers had always told her. So Sela glided back to the platform, pulling in her wings as she landed.

The door at the back of the platform was open. Had she left it like that? She reached out to close it . . . but a hand emerged from the darkness, grabbing her arm.

A muscular faerie male, a member of the Seelie royal guard, stepped onto the small platform. Translucent, insectoid wings were tucked behind his back. Despite his wrinkle-free skin, Sela knew him to be close to four centuries old.

“Hello, Sela,” he said in the Fae language. Despite the polite greeting, his voice was crafted from hard, heavy granite. “Were the festivities back at Court not exciting enough for you?” Seeing her wide eyes, he grinned. “I was told to keep an eye on you at the revel. I followed you all the way here. It simply took me a while to get in the building. Imagine how shocked I was when I entered and saw your little performance.”

Sela’s mind spun. Her instincts screamed at her to use magic to jump to a nearby location, maybe the room where she’d gotten dressed. But the guard had her arm. If she jumped, she’d bring him with her.

He tightened his grip. “Don’t try anything. There’s another guard on the dance floor and one waiting outside. We all followed you. If you somehow escape, we’ll find you, and you’ll be in even bigger trouble.”

The words barely registered as Sela continued to frantically consider how she could get away. Maybe she could use her Fae magic to fight the guard holding her. It might work if she caught him by surprise. Then she could jump away, glamour herself, and escape. At the thought, power built inside her, waiting to be directed.

“If you’re calling on your pitiful, baby-Fae magic, I’d rethink it.” The guard’s free hand moved to her neck, squeezing gently. “I really don’t want to hurt you.”

Her mouth dropped open. “How did you know?”

“Everyone tries. Release it, Sela.”

She huffed, then let the magic escape through her eyes in a burst of hot, white light. Despite her attempt to control the speed of the release, it burned. “Chos,” she muttered.

“Such profanity!” He shook his head, removing his hand from her neck but keeping hold of her arm. “Your mother would be disappointed.”

If Sela got even a whiff of disappointment from her mother, that would be more attention than she usually merited. This male knew that. It was no secret that Sorcha paid more attention to her dressmaker than her daughter.

Sela fixed a glare on the guard and spoke louder than before. “Shit.”

He rolled his eyes. “Grab your pathetic weapons. Ri Ellair will want to see everything you’ve been up to.”

Sela’s throat went tight. This guard was bringing her directly to the king? Just for daring to entertain a roomful of mortals? “Are you arresting the other Seelies in here too?”

“We were only told to return with you.”

Those words stole Sela’s breath. Why her? Why now? Nobody had cared the dozens of other times she’d left the Realm to hang out with mortals. Trying to remain calm and appear compliant, she picked up her lightweight shield, spear, and dull dagger.

“We’re jumping,” the guard said.

Sela stiffened in anticipation. Then her insides felt like they swirled into slime for a split second as darkness surrounded them both. Her bare feet landed on the hard dirt of the street outside the club.

A male guard with gray-feathered wings approached and hovered in the air next to Sela. Another female, also winged, appeared on the street a few meters away. She must’ve jumped from inside the club.

The guard who’d caught Sela still had her arm in his iron grip. He turned to the female. “Grab her other arm. We’ll hold her the whole flight home.” Shifting his gaze to the male, he commanded, “Go on ahead. Find the king. Tell him we’ll be waiting outside his palace.”

Sela pulled at her arms, but the movement only resulted in the guards’ hands tightening hard enough to bruise her. She sighed, suddenly too weary to curse.

Chapter 2

We’ve been on the ship a week now. Everyone has to attend a daily class called Trasna 101. It’s supposed to teach us everything we need to know about the world we’re moving to.

When they told us the planet was Earth-like, they were exaggerating. There are so many differences. To start with, Trasna has this orange moon that only orbits the planet every fifty days. But we’ll still have months that are about four weeks long each, because we’re used to that. 

The year will be a little shorter, and all twelve months will have new names. Some genius decided to name them after passengers on Earth’s first colony ship, the one that stopped communicating on its way to a planet called Anyari. I think it’s morbid to dwell on the names of people who probably died doing the same thing we’re trying to do: colonize a planet.

Journal of a Trasnan Colonist by Ellit Myers
February 12, 2552

Rhian, Chief Guard of the Seelie Court, waited for her king in a palace corridor. Standing at a wide window, she glowered at the moon.

Her twelve hundred years of experience told her that a full moon, whether back on Earth or here on Trasna, held no inherent magic. It was a big ball of rock, reflecting the distant sun. Nothing more. But try telling a bunch of lascivious, mischievous faeries that. 

Nine hundred years ago, when Rhian had fled from Earth with hundreds of other faeries, she’d marveled at her new planet’s orange moon. It had taken less than a year for her to decide she preferred Earth’s boring, silvery white satellite. Faeries used the full moon as an excuse to get into all manner of trouble. Faint music from flutes, strings, and drums reminded her that tonight’s party was already in full swing. At least she could find comfort in the fact that, after tonight, she wouldn’t have to endure another major revel for nearly two months.

“Are we ready?” a cultured voice called.

Rhian turned to see the king, Ri Ellair, standing with his retinue at the end of the hallway. When he stepped forward, lantern light illuminated his straight, shoulder-length, light brown hair and the two stubby horns protruding from the top of his head. Translucent amber wings, small but strong, peeked above his shoulders. He was of average height and build but kept himself in excellent shape, valuing his image as the leader of the Seelies. His navy-blue eyes were perhaps less cunning than a king’s should be. That was likely why he was rarely without an assortment of advisors, many of whom were, in Rhian’s opinion, smarter than their monarch.

Tonight, six people accompanied Ellair. To his right stood Dughlas, a pale-skinned, black-haired advisor who’d been alive nearly as long as Rhian and, like her, had also served Ellair’s mother. To the king’s left was Lietis, the Seelie Ambassador to the Mortals, whose black-and-orange butterfly wings were tucked behind her back. 

Behind the three of them stood three courtiers who were currently in the king’s favor. Accompanying them was Niall, the Royal Librarian. While his green eyes and red hair were common enough in this Court, he was oddly short for a faerie, like the weight of all his knowledge (most of it useless) had stunted his growth. The king tended to keep the soft-spoken male close, since there wasn’t much Niall didn’t know. At least if it could be found in a book.

“We’re ready to be escorted to the revel,” Ellair said, his eyes bright with anticipation.

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Rhian replied.

Wanting to attract maximum attention when he arrived at a revel, the king never allowed any guard but Rhian to escort him. And he always entered the palace’s central courtyard on the upper level, in order to attract the gaze of every attendee.

Rhian led the group through the palace, scanning for any dangers. When she passed courtiers or palace staff, they invariably avoided her sharp gaze. She had carefully built a reputation as the guard who trusted no one. As a result, she had no close friends, and that suited her well. She had no time for personal relationships.

Behind Rhian, the courtiers vied with each other to give Ellair the most lavish compliments on his home. While the flattery grated on Rhian, it was well deserved. Eminently talented faeries had shaped and crafted every inch of this beautiful palace. 

The first hallway they traversed had a black wooden floor that was rooted into the ground below, grown by plant faeries called Laags. Soft, glowing moss created striking geometric designs along the edges. The group soon turned into a corridor featuring a ceiling made of glass that magically enhanced the brightness of the stars above. 

Rhian then led the way up a winding staircase with glowing flowers in the walls, and one more turn brought them into a passage with streams trickling down the stone walls. The water pulsed in time to the revel’s music, which was now quite loud.

At last, they reached a door leading to a balcony that ran around the entire courtyard. A waiting guard assured them that all was well, and Rhian pulled the door open and entered, scanning the room.

The music came from five musicians in the center of the courtyard below. Someone had magically amplified the sound, and Rhian’s skin shook with the beat. 

The current Seelie population was 460, and most were at this revel. Moonlight glimmered off wings, horns, and shimmering fabrics. Faeries gorged themselves on gourmet food, performed spectacular magical feats, drank vast quantities of wine (much of it enchanted to easily intoxicate Fae bodies), and held each other so close that it wasn’t hard to guess what many would be doing later tonight.

A foot-tall pixie female flew into the air, blue tongues of magical fire shimmering off her three sets of wings. One of the flautists cast a glamour on herself, growing two feet taller in the span of a second, not missing a note as her body shifted. The pixie landed on the flautist’s head, wings still covered in fire, dancing and spinning.

Rhian’s gaze settled on another of the courtyard’s many excesses: flowers. Magically altered to be multicolored and able to climb on any surface, rosyns (roses in the mortal tongue) were the flower of the Seelie Court. The blooms were everywhere: on the walls and climbing up tables, winding up the staircase banister and smashed under dancing feet. Rhian spotted a male faerie with long, curly red hair who wore nothing but a lush necklace of blooms. 

Rhian scanned the room’s revelers. Seelies were, without exception, gorgeous. And when they were dancing and making music, nothing in this world or on Earth was more stunning. As long as they behaved, which they were doing now. Mostly.

Without taking her eyes from the courtyard below, Rhian stepped away from the door and lifted her hand, her signal to the king that it was safe to enter.

Ellair walked in, straight teeth glistening as he grinned, the sidana edau fabric of his multicolored robe swishing in a way Rhian had to admit was entrancing. A few people caught sight of him and began to cheer. His arms came up, and the noise grew. The musicians transitioned seamlessly into the ancient, nameless tune they always played to welcome their monarch.

Ellair descended the stairs. When he reached the bottom, he joined the party. Rhian sighed as she watched him walk away with a young, beaming male with blue-feathered wings who was doubtless more interested in his king’s riches than his companionship.

When they’d sneaked into a side room where nothing good ever happened, Rhian descended the stairs and threaded her way through the room, eyes open for anything that needed addressing. She encouraged an impressively drunk female to sit before she passed out and got trampled by her fellow dancers. Then she reminded two males, who were old enough to know better, that human servants were here to work, not get seduced. 

When she’d given a few more faeries gentle nudges away from their ill-advised instincts, she stopped at the food table. Snacking on diced fruit, she scanned the room and kept an eye on the doorway the king had exited through. A few gorgeous celebrants tried to catch her eye or engage her in conversation, but she rebuffed them. She was here to work.

After a quarter-hour or so, a female guard approached Rhian. “They’re ready for us.”

Rhian swallowed her last bite of fruit and squared her shoulders. It was time to go into that little room and interrupt Ellair, a task that would be awkward were she not so numb to it by now. Whether or not the king was ready, they had to leave. Tonight was the first full moon of spring. Every year on this day, the Seelie king visited the Unseelie Court.

Rhian steeled herself. Only one thing was certain when it came to Unseelie revels: there would be plenty of misbehaving.

Rhian led the king and his entourage outside, at last stopping at the base of a hill covered in yellow grass. Powerful Filleas—jump faeries—had long ago placed enchantments on the palace grounds. No one could jump in or out of the building or the land surrounding it.

The king and his six attendants each placed a hand on Rhian. She was the only Fillea in the group and therefore the only one who could carry them to the distant Unseelie Court in a single jump. 

A moment of darkness, a slight twist in Rhian’s gut, and they were standing on a cold mountaintop, gazing at the Unseelie palace in the distance. She led the group toward it. 

Her boots had crunched over this rocky ground every spring since arriving on Trasna. Each time, she asked herself the same question: Why would anyone want to live here? The only major vegetation was gnarled faal, the thorny hedge that represented the Unseelies. Rhian had to alter her route several times to avoid the stark plants. Seelies had long ago enchanted rosyns to grow without thorns. Unseelies cultivated the largest thorns possible, making no effort to hide their Court’s bleak, severe nature.

Even the palace was Unseelie to its core, all twisted wood, thorns, and sharp stone. At certain angles, it looked more like a dead, haunted forest than a building. It had a courtyard, just as the Seelie palace did, and Rhian knew what she’d find there: chos.

All magic, Seelie or Unseelie, was performed by manipulating nature’s chos and eagar, or chaos andorder in the language of mortals. According to legend, Aedan, the human man who became the first faerie, had embraced the order within nature and magic. He’d shared his magic with other humans, turning them into faeries as stunning and beautiful as he was.

Then Aedan’s protégé, a faerie named Drust, had embraced chaos in his magic and his body. His skin had turned mottled. Beast-like claws had replaced his hands, and he’d grown new, sharp teeth. Like Aedan, he’d been powerful enough to give magic to humans, turning them into faeries. They became monstrous and twisted too.

Aedan and Drust hadn’t called themselves Seelie and Unseelie. Those terms came later, after all the original faeries, who had only lived a couple of hundred years due to their human origins, were gone.

In 1784, a group of Scottish Unseelies had joined a larger group of Seelies from across the British Isles for a faerie exodus from Earth. To this day, Seelies on Trasna outnumbered the Unseelies.

After a short walk, Rhian, the king, and his hangers-on reached the palace. Before them stood a black, wooden door. Countless gnarled faal thorns jutted out of it. Such a welcoming sight, Rhian thought.

The door swung open, releasing a burst of the magical heat that kept the palace comfortable. Rhian shuddered every time the Unseelie queen’s butler opened this door. He was tall enough for his bald head to brush the top of the doorway and so muscular that he had to turn sideways to traverse some of the palace’s narrower corridors. Short, silvery fur covered his entire body up to his neck, and he never wore anything but a multicolored, jeweled codpiece. He had wings, structured similarly to those of Earth’s bats.

Rhian could’ve handled all that, even the tacky codpiece, if it weren’t for the butler’s eyes. They were larger than most and glowed red, their irises swirling like molten lava. Gritting her teeth, Rhian held back a shudder. “We’re here for the revel.”

“I know.” His smooth, high voice never failed to catch Rhian off guard. “This way, please.”

The butler never appeared cowed by Ri Ellair. While Seelie monarchs officially had a certain amount of authority in the Unseelie Court, Ellair exerted little real influence here. The Unseelies claimed to respect him, but if he tried to usurp their queen’s rule, the two Courts would likely go to war.

The corridors in this magnificent building were as magical as those of the Seelie palace. Branches, woven into stone walls, moved like serpents. Wind with no discernable source blew through one dark hallway. Fire glowed in alcoves, illuminating but not consuming grotesque statues of faerie monsters. 

The furry butler escorted the group to the courtyard, promised Ri Ellair that he would fetch the queen, and invited the rest of them to “Have fun . . . if you know how.”

Ellair turned to Rhian, who stood at his side. “Leave me be. I look weak if I depend on a guard to protect me from my fellow faeries.”

No, she wanted to respond. You look stupid for standing alone when you’re surrounded by monsters.But she’d given up on that argument a long time ago.

Dughlas, Lietis, and the courtiers had already wandered into the crowd. Niall, the meek librarian, didn’t step away until Rhian did. He always stayed close to her at these revels, depending on her to protect them both from the unpredictable Unseelies.

They entered the throng. This revel held some similarities to the one they’d attended earlier tonight—open-air courtyard, raucous band, plenty of food and wine—but if the Seelies were an elegant tree, the Unseelies were its twisted, dirty roots.

Moonlight illuminated monsters of all sorts, bearing every faerie mutation imaginable. Razor-edged wings. Misaligned body parts. Jagged holes in naked torsos. Many Unseelies had further altered their bodies with piercings, tattoos, and bizarre implants.

Their dancing was like nothing Rhian ever saw at home. Faeries dug claws and fangs into their willing partners, dripping blood onto the dirt at their feet. One female held her male companion upside down, and they gnawed at each other’s knees as their bodies jolted in time to the music.

There was no normal here when it came to wardrobe. Anything—or nothing at all—was acceptable. High above, a winged, goat-legged female clad only in glittering, golden, crisscrossed ribbons performed a mid-air dance. Her partner was a female with tight, blood-red fabric covering her entire body, even the wings holding her aloft.

Niall still hovering uncomfortably close to her, Rhian dodged writhing, spike-covered limbs and flaring wings, at last arriving at the food table. A faerie male with clawed fingers and a torso decorated with swirls of snake-like scales turned to face her. Considering his heritage, he was shockingly handsome.

“I’d forgotten we’d have visitors tonight.” His voice was a low growl. “Would you like me to feed you?”

Rhian was hungry but knew better than to say yes to an Unseelie offer. She declined, then watched as a female with a humped back approached the male. They had a quick conversation, after which she stood against the table, facing him. The clawed faerie ripped open the female’s gut, placing a slice of fruit directly into her stomach as her agonized screams tore through the air.

He then touched the wound with both hands. Over the course of a very long, very loud minute, organs, muscle, and skin knit themselves together, leaving the female with a belly unmarred by anything but her own blood. Clearly the male was an accomplished Leighis—a healer. When he finished, the female pulled him close and kissed him, long and deep.

Turning away, Rhian allowed herself the shudder that had been building since the butler opened the door. Next to her, Niall’s smooth, unobtrusively handsome face looked a bit green. “Let’s move on,” Rhian said, unable to consider eating now.

After what she’d just seen, run-of-the-mill Unseelie masochism shouldn’t bother her a bit. She led Niall to the center of the courtyard, where a gnarled faal, taller than her and at least twelve feet in diameter, was planted. Faeries stood around it in a loose circle. One by one, they approached and, cheered on by their fellow Unseelies, pricked themselves with thorns. Some went for simple, quick-healing punctures on their fingers or arms, while others dragged their skin along the sharp thorns and created multiple long, gaping wounds. After cutting themselves, they allowed their blood to drip into the soil at the base of the plant.

Rhian had watched this ritual plenty of times and thought she was numb to it . . . until she saw a female faerie with massive, bulging blue veins bring an infant to the gnarled faal. The female pierced her infant’s skin with a thorn, then held the wailing child over the ground, squeezing its arm until a drop of blood fell to the dirt. Grimacing, Rhian looked away.

This tradition went back to Drust, the father of the Unseelies. He’d cultivated gnarled faal as their plant and insisted that faeries in his community must, at any age, pierce their skin and share their blood with the soil. It was a practice that, in Rhian’s opinion, should be as obsolete as medicinal bloodletting. 

Rhian turned to Niall. “I’m going to check on Ellair.”

His raised brows probably meant he disapproved of her neglecting to call their monarch Ri—Fae for King. But after so many centuries, Niall’s uptight nature no longer affected her. 

They made it back to the courtyard entrance without incident, though Rhian would probably have nightmares about the male whose long, forked tongue had slithered an inch away from her neck as she passed him.

Ellair was standing on a balcony that jutted over the courtyard entrance. A railing of gnarled faal protected the king and the female next to him: Ban Iseabal, the Unseelie queen. They stood silently, watching the revel.

The queen’s long, lean, strong body could’ve been Seelie from the chest down. Above that, she was purely Unseelie. Her cheekbones were thick and prominent, her brow was strong, and the bridge of her nose formed a sharp point. All this resulted in a face full of fascinating planes and disturbing shadows that always grabbed Rhian’s attention. 

Iseabal kept her pale blonde hair very short, highlighting a long, slender neck. Atop her head was a crown formed of black metal, shaped like interwoven branches of gnarled faal. Her most awe-inspiring and disturbing feature was a circular, green frill that extended from the base of her neck. It usually lay flat, its edges reaching the tips of her shoulders and the tops of her breasts. But when she was alarmed or angry, it flapped out like a round wing. Rhian had heard that the tiny spikes all around the frill held a mild venom that would put someone to sleep for several hours. Others claimed the queen could even shoot this venom at attackers, aiming at their eyes or mouths. The truth of such tales was debatable, but Ban Iseabal made no effort to debunk them.

If only Iseabal had been in power when Ellair’s mother, Una, was queen. That balcony couldn’t have supported the sheer grandeur of the two powerful females. Next to the Unseelie queen, Ellair looked silly. Young. Out of his depth.

A sharp pang of longing shot into Rhian. Una had been the only person in the Seelie palace that she truly trusted. Her death had been the biggest shock of Rhian’s life. She could go weeks without thinking of her, but the ache always returned, like an unwanted houseguest.

She closed her eyes tightly, pushing away the grief. When she opened them, Ban Iseabal was gazing at her. The queen’s leathery frill extended with a snap that rang above the sounds of persistent revelry. Her mouth curved into a closed-lip smile.

“Rhian!” a voice called.

She turned to see a winged Seelie guard entering the courtyard. He jogged up to her. “We followed Sela to an illegal club for faeries and mortals. She put on an angel costume and performed on a stage—dancing and flying. She’s being held outside our palace.”

Rhian didn’t know whether to groan at the silly girl or rejoice that they’d caught her in the act. Sela was rebellious and immature and had a knack for making Rhian want to throttle her. Tonight, the baby faerie had stepped into a trap of her own making. As infuriating as that was, it would free the king to implement a plan he and his advisors had been discussing for weeks. 

Rhian fixed her cold gaze on the guard. “We’ll gather the king and the rest of his retinue and jump back home.”

Chapter 3

I remember the day we stepped on this ship. My parents and I walked into our quarters and said they were bigger than we expected.

Less than two months later, and I swear these rooms are half the size they were in February. I keep asking if I can move out, and Mom and Dad just laugh.

Journal of a Trasnan Colonist by Ellit Myers
March 14, 2552

Sela stood in the yellow grass outside the Seelie palace, her arm compressed by the burly guard’s stone-like grip, her mind spinning. Getting caught performing for humans in an illegal club wasn’t exactly a good thing, but the worst punishment they’d give her would be a couple of weeks scrubbing palace toilets.


The longer she waited, her eyes occasionally wandering to the four additional guards standing to the side, the more she suspected she’d underestimated the seriousness of her situation.

How had it gotten so hot out here? Sweat rolled down her back, chest, and sides, as if the moon’s brightness was warming her. I guess I’m just scared.

“You know,” she told the guard, “that performance I was doing, it wasn’t something I planned. This mortal woman saw my wings, and she thought this costume would fit, and I don’t know what got into me, but I don’t think I really did any harm—”

“Tell it to the king,” he said.

She was about to argue further, but movement caught her eye. She turned her head and let out a tiny whimper. A group had just jumped in. At the front stood Rhian, the king’s Chief Guard, next to the guard who’d flown ahead to the Unseelie Court to tattle on Sela. Behind them were Ri Ellair and six advisors and courtiers. They all walked toward her, stopping a couple of meters away.

“Shit,” Sela said for the second time that night.

The king’s brown eyebrows lifted.

“Damn it, I didn’t mean to say that out loud.” Sela snapped her mouth shut. She wasn’t making this any better.

“Had I not already been told that you spend too much time with mortals,” the king said, “that toxic tongue of yours would have given it away.”

Sela tried to smile. Play a role, she urged herself. Only she was too tired to decide who she wanted to be. The innocent faerie, defending her actions? The humble faerie, begging for forgiveness?

Ri Ellair strode to the front of the group, standing close enough for Sela to see the tiny, red lines in the whites of his eyes, surrounding his navy-blue irises. He’d probably been drinking. The muscles of his square jaw flexed before he opened his mouth and spoke. “You don’t remember what it was like on Earth, Selaphiel.”

Neither do you, she wanted to say. He wasn’t yet half a millennium old. Their ancestors had come to Trasna hundreds of years before his birth.

She stayed quiet, but the king must’ve seen the challenge in her stance, because he smiled and said, “Nor do I. But I am wise enough to listen to those who remember.” Without turning, he said, “Rhian?”

The Chief Guard strode forward and stood next to her king. Rhian was tall and gorgeous, even for one of their kind. Her twelve hundred years hadn’t aged her physically, but they lent her a certain severity. Large, turquoise eyes sat above sharp cheekbones. Gently curling brown hair cascaded to her waist. A plain, black tunic and matching pants, woven of sidana edau, hugged her fierce, strong curves, and soft, black boots covered her feet. Short swords hung at both her hips.

Rhian always made Sela feel small. Inconsequential. The guard was conniving, strong, stunning, and widely rumored to be the true power behind the Seelie throne. Many faeries hypothesized she kept herself in the king’s good graces by sharing his bed. Sela doubted it. Rhian had too much taste for that.

“On Earth”—by Aedan, even Rhian’s voice was strong and beautiful—“we faeries were persecuted by those who feared us. They stole our property to plant fields, threatening us with extinction if we didn’t move. They even kidnapped some of the strongest of us, using their greater numbers to force us to fight in their wars. When we fled into the woods, they hunted us. I’ll never forget hiding behind a tree, watching a nobleman shriek with laughter as he sliced the head off a pixie.”

Sela swallowed, trying to get that image out of her mind.

Ri Ellair’s voice drew Sela’s attention back to him. Anger simmered behind his words. “My mother led the Fae to this planet. They used incomprehensible magic to jump across the stars. Over seven hundred years later, mortals landed here, their technology having accomplished the same thing our magic did. Why did they come?”

Several seconds passed before Sela realized he was waiting for an answer. “They’d ruined Earth with their weapons and technology,” she said quietly. “It was becoming uninhabitable.”

He nodded. “I’m glad to hear you listened to some of your teachers, at least.” He stepped closer. His breath, scented with wine, heated her already-warm face. “Mortals ravage things. It is what they do. Their planet, their fellow humans, the Fae—they destroy whatever they touch. They even convinced us to change the very name of the planet we had claimed.” Ri Ellair had never hidden his fury over this detail. Trasna was the human name for this world, and it had quickly caught on with the Fae. At some point, he’d given up on convincing his fellow faeries to revert to the name they’d given it: Byd.

The king continued, “The only way we can hope to live in peace on the planet that belongs to us”—he punctuated those three words with shakes of his fist—“is to ensure humans look up to us and honor us. We are immortal. We are wise. And we were born to lead.”

Sela managed a nod.

“Do you see why we don’t allow Fae to cavort with mortals, Selaphiel?” He looked her up and down, sneering. “When you put on their costumes and use your stunning wings to flap around in their club, you put yourself on their level. They must never be allowed to forget that we faeries are worthy of respect. You gave them every reason to see you as one of them. We Fae are not divine; you know that. But compared to them?”

Sela swallowed. “Compared to them?”

He smiled. “Compared to them, we are gods.” He reached out and ran his fingers along one of her folded wings where it extended above her shoulders. “And you—you even look like an angel. You could do so much to build our reputation among mortals. Instead, you choose to act like one of them, vulgar and impulsive, performing for their momentary entertainment.” He shook his head. “Selaphiel, I know of your frequent forays into the mortal cities. I have never heard of a faerie who tried so hard to be someone other than the majestic being she was born to be.”

Sela squeezed her eyes briefly shut. That last statement dug Unseelie-like claws into her chest. When she looked up, the Chief Guard and the king were chatting softly. Then they both nodded. Sela’s heart dropped. Whatever was about to happen, she got the feeling it was Rhian’s idea. That couldn’t be a good thing. Her entire body tensed.

“Selaphiel,” the king said, bringing that deep blue gaze back to her, “named after the ancient Byzantine Angel of Thursday, correct?”

“Yes, Ri Ellair.” How Sela hated her full name and the expectation of perfection that came with it.

At a word from the king, the guard released her arm. Sela relished the sense of freedom but didn’t dare try to jump away. Her flight over the Muirmil Sea had given her time to think about all this. Fleeing from the king would only get her in more trouble, once she was inevitably caught.

“Pick up your ridiculous weapons,” Ri Ellair said. When she’d obeyed, holding the dull spear and dagger in one hand and the lightweight shield in the other, he commanded, “Fly with me, Selaphiel.” The small, amber wings at his back unfolded, barely reaching past his arms.

Sela spread her wings. The king lifted into the air, and she followed suit. They flew directly up, facing each other, the king’s wings fluttering at a rapid pace while Sela’s flapped slowly. 

“Have you heard the old religious tales of angels who forsook their callings?” Ri Ellair asked, his tone casual.

“I don’t think so.” 

“Some were said to have been cast down to Earth, forced to live as mortals. Fallen angels, they were called.”

Sela’s brows furrowed. “I’m not an angel.”

“Clearly. But you have forsaken your calling as a faerie.”

As they continued to rise, the air turned colder. Thinner. A fog of confusion slithered into Sela’s head. “What . . . what’re we doing?” she slurred.

The king’s mouth twitched, something similar to a smile. “I think that’s high enough.” He came to a stop, lazily hovering in the air. “You like this?” he asked, gesturing to the land below. “Looking at the world from the heavens?”

Despite the darkness, Sela’s Fae vision could make out much of what lay below. Wispy clouds floated by, revealing snow-capped mountains to the south, green land to the north, and the cobalt sea beyond, all illuminated by millions of stars and the huge, full moon. Part of Sela’s mind was aware of its beauty, but she was in no position to appreciate it. It was as if her thoughts, which normally darted about her head at high speed, were now swimming through thick mud.

Ri Ellair’s voice penetrated her confusion. Gone was his nonchalance; intensity blazed from his eyes now. “This is our world, Selaphiel. If we are to protect ourselves and the planet we chose, we must never forget where we belong—above mortals.” He cocked his head to one side. “You look a bit woozy.”

“I . . .” She pulled in the deepest breath she could, but it barely refreshed her. How was the king so calm? How was he not drowning in this thin air?

It came to her, despite her muddled mind. Magic. Ri Ellair was a Dealan, a weather faerie. He’d worked his whole adulthood to master the chos and eagar in the air. Gathering nearby oxygen to make the air around him more breathable would require barely a thought.

Sela was no Dealan, but she had as much basic magic as any faerie. Theoretically, she had the power to bring order to the air too. She begged her magic to do its job. A hot rush of strength built up in her, but the air remained chaotic, not revealing its secrets to her untrained body.

After several seconds, Sela could no longer hold in the sizable amount of magic she’d summoned. More experienced faeries could build up a great deal of magical pressure before performing stunning acts, but she wasn’t there yet. The magic in her body ordered itself into rays of white light, which burned like fire as they burst from her eyes. She would’ve screamed if she’d had any air. Instead, she dug deeper, drawing up more magic, her mouth gaping desperately.

Her distress didn’t phase the king. “You’re not human.” His tone was low and as cold as the air around them. “And you’re certainly not an angel.” He pulled the cheap spear from her hand and broke it in two. “You’re something better—you’re Fae. It’s time to act like it.”

She heard his words but could no longer process their meaning. Magic built up in her body, but the air remained hopelessly thin. She gasped, but it wasn’t enough—wasn’t enough—

The edges of her vision went black, like spilled ink.

As if from a great distance, she heard the king’s voice. “Fall, faerie. Fall.”

Darkness devoured the moon, the stars, the king, and the beautiful land below.

The next thing she knew, Sela was gasping back to consciousness, the ground approaching at a velocity so fast, she knew why they called it terminal. Her shield, dagger, and broken spear fell nearby.

Her wings, thank Aedan, came to life, beating against the rushing air, slowing her fall. She was barely aware of the sound of her weapons and shield clattering to the ground. Another snap of feathery wings, and she was upright, hovering half a meter from the grass below.

She landed on her bare feet, pulling air into her panicked lungs. The king was waiting for her, arms folded across his broad chest. He could’ve caught her as she fell, ushering her safely to the ground. And the two winged guards nearby—did any of them care that she’d nearly died?

Ri Ellair smiled, his teeth glinting in the moonlight. “I wouldn’t have let you crash. Not too hard, anyway.”

She was still gulping air, her thoughts spinning too fast for her to respond.

The king sobered. “You’ve forgotten your calling as a faerie—to be an example to humans. To help them be better than they are. You made yourself into vulgar entertainment for them instead. Like the angels in myths, it’s time for you to fall.”

She pressed her lips together, drawing wonderfully oxygen-thick air through her nose, hoping it gave her a measure of patience and maybe even humility. “I messed up. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t want your apology.”

“What do you want?” Her desperate voice was shrill and loud. Not wanting to be perceived as combative, she gave him a respectful nod. “Your Majesty.”

“I want you to act like a faerie. An adult faerie.”

“I’m barely eighteen. I’ll have an eternity to act like an adult.”

“You’ll start today. We have a job for you. Rhian?”

The Chief Guard stepped forward and stood next to her monarch. “Sela, you will be forced to walk with mortals, just as the fallen angels did in the old myths. You will not be allowed back into the Fae Realm until you prove your loyalty and competence.”

Sela’s mouth went dry. She loved spending time with humans, but—banished from the Realm? Her home? “How . . . how do I prove my loyalty?”

“There is a wealthy mortal family in Rannik,” Rhian said, “who is plotting to turn mortals against us and neutralize our power. You will adopt your human glamour and move in with them to tutor their son in our language. You have the job. They’ve merely been waiting for you to convince your previous employer to let you go. Within two months, you must gather enough information for us to put an end to whatever plans they have. If you succeed, you will earn your place back in the Seelie Court.”

Ri Ellair narrowed his eyes and said, “Let me make one thing clear. These mortals are nothing like the Fae-loving humans you’ve been cavorting with. The family you’re working for will spew hatred for our people, and you’ll have to stand there and take it, day after day. This is a punishment, not a vacation.”

Sela realized her mouth was gaping open. She shut it, then licked her lips. “I have so many questions.”

“Ask them,” Rhian said.

“What happens if I don’t meet the two-month deadline?”

Ri Ellair let out a short huff. “You’re superior to this family in every way. If you don’t get some truly useful information to us within two months, it will be because you failed to try. In that case, we will find a remote location outside our Court where you can live alone for a nice, long exile. We’ll bring you back once a year to see if you’ve matured and to remind you what you’re missing. I expect you’ll be ready to return to society within a century or two.”

Up to two hundred years. Alone. Tears pricked at Sela’s eyes, but she didn’t let them spill over. She forced the potential consequence out of her mind, unwilling to show the king and Rhian how much it scared her. Her voice was steady when she asked, “How do I already have the job? You just caught me tonight.”

Rhian let out a little laugh. “For months, you’ve been sneaking off to impersonate a human and socialize with mortals. You’ve partied with them. Seduced them. You’ve worn their clothes and laughed at their jokes. We knew you’d mess up again, so one of our people convinced the family to hire a tutor. Then we got you the job and waited.”

“You decided on my punishment before I committed the crime?”

Rhian took a step toward her. “Yes, and you did an excellent job meeting our low expectations.”

“Why do you think I’m ready for this? I’m eighteen. It’s not like I have any experience spying.”

Ri Ellair stepped closer. “I’m told you don’t even have a Fae accent when you speak their language. You use their slang, units of measurement, and more. You’ve spent enough time around mortals to impersonate them perfectly. On top of all that, you’re an actor. You’ve been training for this for years. Be glad we’re giving you a chance to earn forgiveness with your ill-gotten skills.”

Sela looked up at the full moon. She’d flown under it hours ago, headed for Taria, full of anticipation for what promised to be the most exciting night she’d had in months. That was happening . . . but not in the way she’d hoped. 

Sela looked down at her bare feet and murmured, “I wasn’t trying to be an embarrassment. I was just . . .” What had she been doing? “I just wanted some fun.” She brought her gaze back to the king and his Chief Guard. No empathy awaited her, not in the turquoise eyes on the left or the navy ones on the right.

Okay, then. This was really happening. Sela pulled in a deep breath. “When do I leave?”

“In the morning,” Rhian said.

Dog House (a Short Story)

white and red wooden house with fence

It started with a sorcerer.

Don’t tune me out, please—I get it. I didn’t believe in them either. Until one cast a spell on me.

I’d lived selfishly, exceptionally so. Affairs, betrayed friendships, and a decades-long history of littering. It’s a boring story, really, and not the one I’m here to tell.

I was lying in bed in a public hospital after eighty-four years of narcissism that had left me quite alone, when a nurse with curly, black hair and green eyes showed up. “Hello, Mr. Lewis. I’m a sorcerer.”

“Not a sorceress?” I’m not sure why that’s the question that pushed itself through my dry lips, but there’s a lot about the man I was that I’ll never understand.

“We’ve gone to gender-neutral titles.” She proceeded to inform me that, due to my supreme selfishness, I would spend my next life as a dog.

She lifted her hands and spoke several words I’d never heard.

And then I died.


I don’t remember being born. I came to awareness while drinking warm, sweet milk from the teat of a tired dog.

All at once, I knew who I was, what I’d done, and the punishment I’d been sentenced to. I stopped eating and looked around.

That woman hadn’t just made me a dog, she’d made me one of a litter of nine mutts, all with stubby legs, boring brown fur, and ridiculously floppy ears. And she hadn’t sent me to live with a family. I was surrounded by chain link, barks, and stink. An animal shelter. 

Damn sorcerer.

I shoved one of my siblings to the side and latched on to my mother, my puppy instincts warring with my very human fury. 

Once I was no longer hungry, my mind cleared. The sorcerer might’ve set me up for failure, but I was in control of my own life now. I’d go for what I wanted. The way I always had.

The next day, when people came to look for pets, I sat up straight, wagged my whip-like tail and let my tongue hang out of the side of my mouth.

It worked.

A young woman and her husband fell in love with my soft belly and lolling tongue. I listened as they discussed me with the staff. Weeks later, Ed and Sheila brought me to live at their little house in the city. They named me Moby, after the whale. (My belly was quite round.)


I expected to live a life of ease in my new home. Quickly, I realized my error.

A dog has little control over his existence. Ed taught me to ring a little bell with my nose when I wanted to go outside. All his high-pitched praise couldn’t take away the humiliation of ringing a bell to ask permission to piss.

And the food—how to describe it? Dog food is like greasy, meat-based dry cereal. It tasted better than I expected, but eating it day after day was torture. I wanted to growl at Sheila, “Do you have any idea how many five-star meals I’ve eaten? And you give me this?”

Anxiety slithered into my little gut. Would they ever forget to feed me? What if I ventured into the bathroom, accidentally bumped the door closed, and got stuck? And the big birds I occasionally saw outside—would one snatch me from the yard and make me its breakfast?

As I became daily more aware of my lack of agency, I swear my sensitive canine ears heard the sorcerer’s high-pitched cackle.

I responded the same way I would’ve when I was human. I took what I wanted instead of waiting for someone to give it to me. If the front door opened, I darted out to mark as many neighbors’ mailboxes as I could. I jumped on the one chair that was off limits. Its upholstery was rough on my skin, but I still napped on it for hours when my owners were at work. I chewed on leather shoes (a surprisingly delicious habit).

Sheila and Ed became more and more frustrated. “Why, Moby?” they’d ask as they chased me through the neighborhood or held up another ruined shoe.

If I were capable of laughing, I would’ve. However, their sighs and chiding words affected me, despite myself. Sometimes I caught my ears drooping, and my tail tucked itself between my legs. I never would’ve admitted it, but I missed their smiles and cooing words.

Then, one day, I smelled it—my very favorite scent. Sheila was cooking chicken.

You don’t realize, you can’t understand, how meat smells to a dog. I don’t care how many incredible restaurants you’ve been to, with French-trained chefs and creamy sauces and buttery desserts. I don’t care what delectable odors wafted from your grandmother’s Thanksgiving table. Nothing you’ve smelled as a human can compare to the scent of sizzling chicken when you’re a dog. Drool collected in my mouth as soon as I caught a whiff.

I stood there, tongue darting out repeatedly, eyes wide, tail twitching, silently begging Sheila for a bite.

She was in a hurry, ingredients and pans scattered over the kitchen as she worked on the chicken and a variety of less interesting dishes. “When do your parents get here?” she called as she swept the back of her hand over her flushed forehead.

“Fifteen minutes!” Ed replied from where he was frantically dusting the living-room furniture. 

Sheila cursed, then muttered under her breath, her fears emerging in short phrases—“They won’t like it.” “They don’t like me.” “I’ll mess this up.” Not once did she look at me, sitting there with hope written all over my little body. 

She finished the chicken and set it on the dining table in the next room. When she went to the entryway to welcome her in-laws, a quick hop brought me onto a chair. Another jump, and I was on the table.

Then I was in heaven, tearing into the chicken, gulping down huge bites of it. It was savory and moist and altogether perfect. I got through a breast and two thighs before Sheila and Ed appeared, leading his parents into the room. I froze. My traitorous tail slipped between my legs.

Ed’s mother let out a soft gasp.

A sob burst from Sheila’s mouth, echoing off the walls, followed by the pounding of her feet as she ran into the kitchen. 

My gaze met Ed’s. He’d never laid a violent hand on me, but I truly believed I could smell his fury. A single leap, and I hit the floor, my feet skidding in four directions on the slick wood. I recovered and followed Sheila into the kitchen.

I’m not sure why I didn’t run straight through the room and find a quiet corner to sit in. I saw Sheila sitting on the tile floor, muffling her cries with her hands, and found myself walking to her and sitting in front of her. The tile was cold on my little rump, but I stayed there, waiting.

Sheila looked up. “Oh, Moby,” she choked out. “Why?”

Something squeezed at my heart, something I didn’t remember ever feeling.


The chicken got heavy in my belly. More than ever, I wished I could talk. Since I couldn’t, I leaped onto Sheila’s lap. I nuzzled her neck, and my tongue found her cheeks and kissed away her salty tears.

She held me close to her soft chest for a long time, then pulled back and met my gaze. “I forgive you,” she whispered.

No one had ever told me that before. I guess it was a day for firsts.


Things changed after that. I changed. I didn’t run out the door or sit on the forbidden chair. I didn’t steal leather shoes or food. (Not often, anyway.)

Ed and Sheila frequently scratched behind my ears and called me a good boy, and I could tell they meant it.

At last, I truly settled into my role as a pet. In many ways it remained uncomfortable, being totally dependent on others and having such limited communication skills. But there was a certain beauty to the simplicity: playing and eating, walking and napping. 

I stopped growing and was pleased to find my head had reached the level of my owners’ knees. Not too long after that, Sheila began to grow. She and Ed had one baby, then another two years later. I got less attention from the adults and sometimes too much from the toddlers in the house.

Months passed, then years, full of the crunch of boring dog food and the petting of hands big and little and the divine smell of cooking chicken (and, when I was lucky, the taste of it).

One day, when the kids were at school and Sheila and Ed were at work, I lay in a band of warm sunlight on the wooden floor of the living room, watching dust motes and listening to the gentle whoosh of the fish-tank pump. I’d learned to appreciate those times of relative quiet, even though my ears perked up at every small noise as I waited for someone to return home. In that lazy space between sleep and alertness, I considered my unique role in this house.

When Ed, Sheila, and the kids left for work and school, I remained. In those times, I was the only one to hear the thunk of packages on the front porch. When the family went out to dinner, I alone admired the purple-and-salmon sunset through our back window.

Being canine, I detected scents that the humans in the house were unaware of. A home, especially one with children, is a wonderful place for a dog’s nose. The house was full of the odors of dropped food and dirty laundry, along with the intriguing, slightly jealousy-inducing scents brought back by anyone who’d been socializing with other dogs. 

And in becoming a dog, I’d lost my human inhibitions. If something smelled amazing, I’d taste it, at least once. I was the only one in the home to know the flavors of dirty socks and crumpled tissues and that one sticky spot on the kitchen tile that sat for weeks before getting mopped up. (Don’t knock any of it until you try it.)

Most importantly, the members of the household felt safe around me. I heard the parents’ quiet conversations about their kids, and I heard the scheming of the kids planning to pull something over on their parents. When someone was angry and didn’t want to be touched by human family members, their hands found me, burying in my fur, scratching that wonderful spot on my neck. I was party to more interactions in this place than anyone—I was the quiet observer, the secret keeper, the comforter.

A home, I thought as I lay in the sunlight, belongs more to a pet than to their humans. The honor of that, the wonder of it, made my eyes heavy with something that would’ve been tears if I could produce them.

This was my home. It was full of the scent of cooking chicken and the taste of dropped crumbs. It featured beaming faces and the click of my toenails. It was lush with the promise of warm hands reaching out for soft fur.

My home.


The kids are in elementary and middle school now. Ed’s going bald, and Sheila’s embracing her first strands of gray hair. I suspect this canine life is coming to an end before long.

Sheila told Ed this morning that my vet retired, and the new one will do house calls for an extra fee. She kneels next to me. “Wanna get your checkup here or at the office?”

I used to love occasional rides in the car. But now, the area rug on the floor feels cozier than ever. I roll on my back, and Sheila laughs and pets my belly. “I’ll ask her to come here.”

When the doorbell rings, I don’t run to it like I used to. My ears perk up and my tail thumps as I wait. There are murmurs in the entryway, and as they come closer, I make out a few of the visitor’s words: “Sounds like he’s earned these restful days.” The voice is vaguely familiar.

“He’s a good boy,” Sheila says.

They enter the living room, where I’m lounging. All at once, my entire body stiffens.

The smiling vet has curly, black hair and green eyes.

The sorcerer.

She kneels and says, “It’s okay, Moby. I’m not here to hurt you.”

For some reason, I believe her. I relax and let her examine me.

When she’s done, she speaks to Sheila, but she’s still looking at me. “I think you’ve still got some time with him.” Her voice is gentle. “And I think this life with you is just what he needed.”

I give her a little nod. Her lips twitch with a half-smile, and for the first time, I consider what it will mean to leave my home. To find rest at last.

I think I’m almost ready.


white and red wooden house with fence
Photo by Scott Webb on

Audiobook Production Spreadsheet: A Tool For Narrators/Producers

I like to track my production time when I narrate and edit an audiobook. I also like to keep an eye on the pacing of my narration. (Am I speaking too fast or slow?)

This spreadsheet helps me track all of that. I hope it helps you too!

Download a blank version right here for free. (You’ll be taken to Dropbox for your download.)

I suggest you make a copy of the spreadsheet for each book, and keep the blank one in your files too. Every time you start a new book, make another copy.

Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to use it:

Note 10-28-22: I’ve revised this spreadsheet, adding extra features. The link will send you to the new version. The video is NOT updated, but the new version has an Instructions tab that will give you info on how to use it.

Comment with any questions!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Hardcovers are Here (and I Have Coupon Codes!)

BIG NEWS! Hardcovers for The Magic Eaters Trilogy (plus the prequel, The Seer’s Sister) are available for the first time ever … and I have coupon codes for signed copies!

Aren’t they gorgeous? Thank you to my amazing cover designer, Mariah Sinclair, who did a gorgeous job with these!

Because I cut out the middle man when I sell these on my website, I can give you a discount. They’re already on sale, and I have coupon codes to make them even more affordable!


  • FROSTHARDCOVER: $3 off The Frost Eater hardcover (total of $5 off with the existing sales price)
  • SERIESHARDCOVER: $8 off the entire series in hardcover (total of $18 off with the existing sales price!)

I also have paperbacks of The Seer’s Sister for those looking to complete their Magic Eaters series in paperback. And I got in a new shipment of paperbacks of the rest of the series too!

Once again, I have coupon codes for those kind enough to purchase my signed copies from this website.


  • SEERPAPERBACK: $2 off The Seer’s Sister in paperback
  • SERIESPAPERBACK: $4 off all 4 books in paperback (total of $10 off with the existing sales price)

Click here to order your signed copies! (And yes, hard copies are available through Amazon and other websites throughout the world if you prefer to order that way.)

Enjoy these stories of magic, dragons, adventure, and love!

Author Resource: Atticus is a Formatting Software Alternative to Vellum (for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook)

I’m a huge fan of Vellum, software that formats ebooks and print books. It’s fantastic, user-friendly software and one of the investments I’ve been happiest that I made in my writing business.

However, Vellum is only available to Mac users. PC users often subscribe to the MacInCloud service to use Vellum, but for various reasons, many authors consider MacInCloud to be less than optimal.

Enter Atticus, a new formatting software that Dave Chesson from Kindlepreneur is putting out. It’s for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook. Here’s a screenshot:

I’m not planning to purchase Atticus, since I have a Mac and have already invested in Vellum. However, several days ago, I signed up to join their waitlist. I got an email today letting me know the first version of Atticus is available for a “special (secret) price” to early adopters. I don’t want to disclose the price here since it’s not public, but it costs far less than Vellum. It’s a one-time purchase that includes updates.

To sign up and get the chance to purchase Atticus, you can visit

Here are some observations I made as I looked into Atticus:

  • It’s pretty basic right now, but they have other features coming that will enable it to compete better with Vellum. These features will be free for all users. Check out their Roadmap to Launch for more info on the features.
  • It looks like Atticus will only generate ePub and print-ready PDF files. Those are perfect for uploading to Amazon and other platforms/distributors. However, If you want to share your manuscript directly with Kindle users (for instance, your alpha, beta, or ARC readers), you’ll need to convert the ePub to a mobi so they can “sideload” the file onto their Kindle. You can do this on BookFunnel (instructions here—they’re written for Vellum users, but this should work for Atticus users too) or using various free services like

If you decide to try Atticus, I’d love to hear what you think. And may I just say … hooray for a Vellum alternative for non-Mac users!

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My Trilogy is Complete…and I’m Giving Away Books

I am over the moon. The Magic Eaters Trilogy is complete! It’s Launch Day for The Stone Eater.

To celebrate, I just finished drinking a massive Frappuccino. I’m also celebrating with you by putting the ebooks on sale for The Frost Eater (FREE, the best kind of sale) and The Vine Eater ($1.99). They’re only on sale for five days, through April 5. Check them out on Amazon.

Prefer paperbacks? When they’re this gorgeous (thank you, designer Mariah Sinclair!), I don’t blame you! For readers in the US, the entire series is on sale. Get all three books, signed, for $39.97 ($10 off the price if you purchased individually)! Snag the series here.

Raise a glass for me—it’s a day of celebration!

Author Resources: Whose Head Are You In? Writing Multiple Points of View

On an ordinary day not too long ago, three characters gathered in a library.

Alpha drew in a deep breath. The scent of leather and paper filled her lungs. Intoxicating. Could there be a more perfect location than an old library?

“Excuse me,” someone said.

Alpha turned. “Hey, Beta! Isn’t this place great?”

Beta glared at her. He’d just been musing about whether he should climb a ladder to the higher shelves, but her thoughts had distracted him. “You’re obsessing over the scent of paper?” he said. “Really?”

“First, stay out of my head. Second, if you don’t understand the allure of old paper, you’re beyond help.”

“Could you both please shut up?” Gamma looked over her reading glasses at the other two. They were always like this, bickering constantly, when all she wanted—

“ ‘Bickering constantly?’ ” Alpha and Beta said in unison.

“How’d you hear my thoughts?” Gamma asked. “This scene is supposed to be in my point of view.”

“Apparently we’re all sharing the scene,” Alpha said. Sensing the silent groans of the two others, she looked at the ceiling, hoping the mythical Author of All Things was listening. “Hey, you! Word Lord! This is confusing!”

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Authors, any chance your characters—or readers—are as confused as these three, as you hop from one point of view to another?

Many of us, at one point or another, choose to write a novel with more than one point of view (or POV). I’ve written two trilogies in third person with multiple POV characters, and I’ve enjoyed the process thoroughly. It’s a blast exploring the thoughts of the hero and the villain or of both halves of a romantic partnership.

Multiple POVs can deepen and enrich narration, but they can also cause frustration for authors and readers. In this post, we’ll discuss how to use multiple POVs effectively. And while some talented authors write first person with multiple narrators, today we’ll focus on writing in third person.

There are two ways to write in third person with multiple POV characters: third person omniscient and third person limited.

When using third person omniscient, your narrator isn’t a character in the story, but they’re privy to the thoughts of every character in the story. Your narrator can give the reader a glimpse of the thoughts of multiple characters in one scene. Here’s an example:

Dan drove slowly, hoping the vase of flowers on the passenger’s seat didn’t topple over. He parked in his driveway and walked toward the front door.

Alma saw him coming from the kitchen window. Her pulse quickened when she saw the flowers. Unexpected gifts were her favorite sort. But she had to wonder if he was trying to make up for some transgression.

As the reader, we “hear” Dan’s thoughts (hoping the vase doesn’t fall) as well as Alma’s (who loves unexpected gifts but doesn’t quite trust her partner).

The second way to use multiple POVs in third-person writing is to use third person limited with multiple POVs. As with omniscient, the narrator isn’t a character. However, with this technique, the reader is only privy to one character’s thought per scene. Here’s the above scene, written in third person limited:

Dan drove slowly, hoping the vase of flowers on the passenger’s seat didn’t topple over. He parked in his driveway and walked toward the front door.

He saw the outline of Alma’s figure in the window. She’d told him a hundred times how much she loved unexpected gifts. He hoped she’d still love these roses when she heard the confession they came with.

In this case, we don’t have any idea what Alma is thinking. However, the next scene could be in her POV, which would allow us to get inside her head after her partner fesses up.

If you choose to write in third person with multiple POVs, you get to decide whether to write in omniscient or limited. I believe that in most cases with most modern books, limited is a better choice than omniscient.Here are several reasons why:

Embrace a Modern Style

  • Omniscient POV is a more classic style, so if you’re writing modern literature for modern audiences, it can easily feel dated. 
  • Limited (with multiple POV characters) is a more modern style. Many of today’s readers like to read one POV per scene, and if you plan to query agents and/or publishers, they may also prefer limited over omniscient.

Avoid Head Hopping

  • Omniscient POV can easily turn into head hopping.
  • What’s head hopping? It’s a when the narrator hops from one character’s head to the next within the same scene. Readers use the term head hopping when POV shifts feel jarring and/or happen too frequently. 
  • It’s possible to write in omniscient POV without head hopping. However, it can be difficult, and even if you think you’ve avoided head hopping, reviewers may disagree.

Immerse Your Readers in Your World

  • With limited POV, readers may more easily feel connected to your story and characters since they’re “spending time with” one character for an entire scene or chapter (or longer).
  • Limited POV is like going to a party and sitting with one person all night, really getting to know them, rather than hopping from one table to the next, having quick conversations.
  • You can give your readers the gift of depth and immersion by spending time in the head of one character per scene.

Go Deep

  • Limited POV allows you to easily shift into “deep” (also called “close”) POV, a subset of third-person POV.
  • In deep POV, you get so deep into your character’s head that the lines between narrator and POV character get blurred. 
  • Example: With a distant (not deep) POV, you might write, “Jarvis took the pickles off his burger. He couldn’t believe they’d gotten his order wrong again.” With deep POV, you could instead write, “Jarvis took the pickles off his burger. They’d gotten his order wrong…again. Unbelievable.” Note how the narration took on the tone of Jarvis’ thoughts. 
  • If you use deep POV within omniscient narration, there’s a good chance you’ll be accused of head hopping. Omniscient narrators need to stay distant so they can shift from one POV to the next without giving readers whiplash. Limited narrators can go deep.

If you decide to write in third-person limited POV with multiple POV characters, here are some tips to help you succeed:

Keep it Manageable

  • There are no hard-and-fast rules about how many POV characters you can use in third-person limited, but a smaller POV cast is often more effective than a bigger one. If you get inside too many characters’ heads, your readers may not connect with any of them. Sure, it would be fun to know exactly what the quirky candy-shop owner is thinking, but if she doesn’t play a major role in your book, she should stay in the background.
  • Some genres tend to have more POVs than others. For instance, if you write epic fantasy, your readers may accept several well-written POVs. If you write romance, your readers may expect only two.

One POV Per Scene or Chapter

  • Only shift POVs at scene changes or when you start a new chapter.
  • If shifting at a scene change, indicate the change with an ornamental break between the scenes. A common ornamental break is three asterisks (***). It should be on a line by itself, centered.

Identify Your POV Character Quickly

  • Some authors include the POV character’s name at the beginning of the scene or chapter, as a heading, like this:

Chapter 1


  • Regardless of whether you use the character’s name as a heading, indicate whose “head” you’re in quickly, so your readers can “center themselves.” For example, instead of starting a chapter or scene with, “Gold, pink, and orange clouds covered the eastern sky,” you could write, “Mei faced the gold-and-orange clouds in the east, letting the sunrise burn away her fear.”

Use Reaction Scenes

  • If you’re used to writing in omniscient POV, it can be hard to give up the freedom of hearing two characters’ thoughts within the same significant scene. You’ve spent an entire book building up to a big kiss, and now you’re supposed to only show it from one POV? Well, yes…but you can follow up with a scene showing the second character’s reaction to the big scene.
  • Example: In the book you’re writing, your two main characters, Ahmed and Rose, get kidnapped. First, show the kidnapping from Ahmed’s POV, focusing on his terror. By staying in his head, you’ll keep your readers on the edges of their seats, totally immersed in the intense scene. Once your poor characters are locked in a tiny cell together, follow up with a scene from Rose’s POV, showing how she’s hiding her own fear so she can comfort Ahmed. 

Let’s go back to the scene we started with. Imagine if we’d stayed in Alpha’s head the whole time. It might’ve gone something like this:

Alpha drew in a deep breath. The scent of leather and paper filled her lungs. Intoxicating. Could there be a more perfect location than an old library?

Her gaze fell on Beta. He was climbing a ladder that leaned against a bookshelf so tall, Alpha had to crane her neck to see the top. The rickety ladder squeaked as his foot moved to the next narrow rung. One of these days, Beta was gonna get himself killed. But if it happened in this place, Alpha supposed he’d die happy.

A gasp got her attention. She turned to see Gamma standing next to a stack of books almost as tall as she was—and Gamma was tall. Her eyes looked huge behind her reading glasses as she examined the pages of an old tome, her mouth gaping.

Beta and Gamma were both so immersed in their tasks, they seemed to have forgotten Alpha existed. It’s now or never

Alpha walked silently toward the southwest corner of the library. Her heart pounded and her mouth went dry as she approached the shelf of forbidden books.

Better, right? As the reader, you got to delve deep into Alpha’s mind, experiencing her time in the library right along with her and seeing her friends from her perspective. Maybe the next chapter will be in Beta’s or Gamma’s POV, but for now, you’re immersed in Alpha’s story.

There are no right or wrong points of view. However, if you’re a modern author planning to use multiple POVs in third-person writing, I encourage you to stay focused on one POV per scene or chapter. Your readers will thank you for bringing them along on a captivating, non-confusing ride…and maybe your characters will too.

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Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources: How to Download Booksprout Reviewer Email Addresses

I love Booksprout, a website that allows authors to connect with ARC reviewers. One of the reasons I continue to us them is because they provide me with reviewer email addresses so I can contact reviewers with reminders and information. (I discuss this in more detail in Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel).

But one thing has always bugged me about Booksprout: they don’t give me a way to download those email addresses. I’ve always individually copied and pasted each one into an email, which feels like a waste of time.

Today, I figured out how to easily download the email addresses using a free Chrome extension! This 3 1/2-minute video will show you how.

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources: Early Readers Catch the Worms

It’s here! Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel is now on sale in ebook and paperback formats.

Authors, get the book that publishing expert Derek Murphy of Creativindie calls a “detailed guide” that “simplifies the process” of working with early readers.


Empower yourself to build teams of alpha, beta, and ARC readers who follow through and help you write better novels!

Ever throw away an apple because you found a worm inside? Worms slither into novel manuscripts too … weaknesses and errors that make readers want to throw away a book (or trash it in reviews)! But effective early readers catch those worms.

This comprehensive guide will teach you to get results from your alpha and beta readers with these tools:

  • -Practical, step-by-step methods for building and optimizing early reader teams
  • -Simple strategies to improve reader follow-through
  • Access to over a dozen editable templates for communicating with alpha and beta readers

Jumpstart your book launch with early reviews! This book is packed with tips for building an ARC (Advance Review Copy) team, including:

  • -Where to find ARC readers
  • -How to encourage ARC readers to actually leave reviews
  • -A fun way to incentivize ARC readers to find your lingering typos

Whether you’re already published or about to write your first book, Early Readers Catch the Worms will help you crack the code on early reader systems so you can write a novel that readers want to buy.

Get the feedback you need … before you publish.