I’m so excited to bring Suda Eran’s story to you (read FREE with Kindle Unlimited, paperbacks are also available on Amazon), and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
Here’s the description:
Sell over a million dollars of programmable hover vacs in a month, get a hefty commission check, and win an all-expenses paid trip to Ubaid Space Station.
That’s the promise, and I deliver on my end of the bargain. What I get for my trouble is a “supervised” guided tour of the station, surrounded by other humans.
I came for the extraterrestrial experience, not the poorly cooked chicken parmesan in the Earth-centric resort restaurant. So, who can blame me if I slip my leash by bribing the tour guide to let me escape yet another mind-numbingly boring museum trip?
After an encounter with a gray alien lands me a hot tip on the best place to find excitement on this station, I end up in a bar in the most dangerous sector of the Leisure Ring. I also meet the extraterrestrial of my dreams—at least, he can be for the remainder of my vacation.
Yes, he’s an Okihan, known as a “fox-man” to us humans, and yes, he looks very roguish, even with that super fluffy tail of his, but he reassures me that he’s not a pirate. He works for the Cosmic Syndicate, all official-like.
He’s charming, rakish, and probably more than a little disreputable, and I might be playing in a much larger sandbox than I’m accustomed to, but I just can’t resist giving in to his flirtation.
I came to Ubaid Space Station searching for adventure, and Suda Eran promises to take me on one, but I probably shouldn’t trust him, because the more time I spend with him, the more I realize that he’s already stealing my heart.
This 70k word flirty science-fiction romance takes place in the Iriduan Test Subjects universe, but is part of a lighter series where each book can be read as a standalone, even though some characters may overlap between the two series. This story does feature characters that appeared in the Iriduan Test Subjects series, however, it isn’t necessary to have read those books to follow along with this book.
The first book in the Iriduan Universe Love Stories series is only loosely connected to this book, and both can be read out of order without much confusion, although they do take place in chronological order:
As usual, I have written a long Author’s Note for my book, and though I love to share all these details with my readers, I know that not all of them will want this note to take up pages and pages of the actual book, so I’ve migrated them here to my blog for those who are interested in reading them.
This Author’s Note may contain spoilers for My Foxy Mate, so if you’re planning on reading the book, you might want to wait until after you finish it to read this note.
Let me just say that I’ve wanted to write this book since I introduced the character of Suda Eran in The Fractured Mate. I fell in love with him then, but the story of him finding his “huntress” just didn’t fit into my Iriduan Test Subjects series (much like some of my other side characters introduced in that series—I definitely have plans for Anubis, for those who are wondering).
So, I kept promising myself that I would someday get to the point in the ITS series where I could write Suda’s story, but given how that series is shaping up, it didn’t look like it would be any time soon. (Ava’s story is the next one planned for my ITS series).
Then, the concept of the Iriduan Universe Love Stories came to me, and I thought that it would be fun to take popular and much-loved romance tropes and use them to create fun, exciting, and hopefully funny love stories for the gray alien character of Cupid to collect.
Cupid is intended to represent my own love for the romance genre, and my own desire to give every good character (and even some evil ones that are redeemed) a happily-ever-after.
If you didn’t guess by what Cupid is reading in the epilogue, My Foxy Mate is primarily the ‘pirate hero with a heart of gold” romance trope, with a bit of “billionaire bad-boy” thrown in for good measure. 😀 There are definitely intentional meta moments in these stories, particularly with Cupid’s scenes.
I love a wicked but good-hearted character, especially one who must make a conscious choice to change, which is how I see Suda’s evolution from merciless pirate born into the life of crime to a hero living with regrets and trying to right wrongs he’s committed.
Even back in The Fractured Mate, I tried to show that Suda not only has compassion, but has it in spades, despite being unfazed by violence because of the life he’s lived. I also tried to show in that book that the friendship between Suda and Halian (as Kotesri, from what Suda knows about him) is genuine, and he’s one of the few people in the galaxy that “Killer” ever trusted (as far as Killer can trust anyone other than Paisley).
If you’re unfamiliar with that book, everything in that line above probably confused you, lol. The quick summary is that Halian has three aspects: Halian himself (a mild-mannered scientist), Killer (aka the assassin and mercenary Kotesri that is Suda’s friend), and the ancient Iriduan high lord Enki, reborn.
It was fun to bring Halian/Kotesri back for a brief scene to show Suda how he’s mellowed and now has a family of his own, reflecting what Suda wants for his own future. After all, if his highly aggressive, violent, and unpredictable bestie can find love and peace, then so too can Suda.
Suda’s story is one that could have gotten really dark if I’d taken it in another direction, but I honestly always saw him as this droll character whose story just begged for a more comedic and lighthearted feeling, which is yet another reason his story never seemed like the right fit for the Iriduan Test Subjects series, because it has a more serious tone that can grow dark at times. (That being said, Halian’s story in The Fractured Mate is one of my favorites—even though I know I’m not supposed to have favorites).
Davinia…let me just say that I LOVE this heroine! She’s smart, clever, and quick on her feet, and she seemed like the perfect fit for a fox-man who has dodged death for over half a century. Plus, there’s nothing Davi likes more than to play it cool, and Suda always loved a good “bluff,” like most Okihans, who highly respect that skill.
The reason Okihans love that ability to pretend to be more confident than they actually are is all about intimidating those who threaten them, and that species is threatened all the time, which is why they’ve become dangerous in their own right, as a way of self-preservation.
Davi’s name was a happy accident, because I picked the letter “D” for her first name via a random number generator from letters I haven’t used for heroine names yet.
Fun side story (or not so fun, maybe XD).
I used to pick names for characters based solely on what popped into my head when I dreamed them up. Unfortunately, sometimes, I was in the mood for certain letters of the alphabet, and inadvertently named too many characters using them, unnecessarily causing confusion for my readers (Theresa, Tarin, and Tirel… agh!) Obviously, by the point that I discovered this, it was already too late in the series to change all those names, but I made sure that I wouldn’t end up doing that again.
Enter the random number generator and a very careful consideration of what letters I haven’t already used. I got the “D” for the My Foxy Mate heroine (pun, I know ;)) and knew exactly what I wanted her name to be for this pirate romance story. The whole Davy Jones’ locker idea was too fun and on-the-nose to not include. (I really lean into the pirate thing with this story, I know. :))
The symbolism was clear to me. Suda Eran, the notorious galactic pirate, “dies” and ends up with Davi Jones at the end.
I’m honestly having so much fun with this series, and if you’ve been following my social media in the last month, then you’ve probably heard that I have another story coming in October for this series. It’s a Halloween-themed story, and I’ve been wanting to write another holiday story since I published Vincent’s Resolution for New Year’s Eve. Not to mention that Halloween is my favorite of all holidays, bar none. I love it!
I also really love this Halloween story too, and it features a hero from one of my favorite Iriduan universe species—the Akrellians. (Yes, I also talk a lot on social media about my love for the lizardmen. <3<3<3)
I’ve been keeping details about that story close to my chest so far, though I’ve hinted that it will be the “grumpy versus sunshine” trope. Our heroine is definitely the sunshine side of that equation, and she is so cute!
And the hero… well, he has a dark past, and a demon-like look to him, and I definitely lean into that comparison too, but despite that darkness, this upcoming Halloween story is probably the most “com” of the rom-coms in this series. At least, I hope so. I find it hilarious, but I might be biased. 😀
I’ll be doing something a little different with that book’s cover, so keep an eye out for that, because it’s a departure from my usual sexy book covers, but not because I don’t love sexy covers (and fully intend to keep using them as long as my readers keep reading my books).
This new style of cover is intended to represent the lighter, more rom-com, “beach-read” style of this new series. Fingers crossed you all love it as much as I do, because it’s as cute as the story, in my opinion, and I had a lot of fun designing it with my cover designer, Kasmit Covers.
I do also intend to share some character art I did of the hero that will more accurately reflect how he looks than the cover, so consider following my social media for that if you don’t already. I won’t be sharing it on my website until after the book is published.
And don’t miss the art I did of Suda Eran, because it’s yummy! (Again, I may be biased, but I’ll say it anyway. XD)
I had great fun with Suda and Davi, and I already miss them now that my part in their story is finished, but I’m so happy to be able to finally share Suda’s story with you, my wonderful readers! Thank you so much for reading my blog, and my stories. Your support and encouragement continue to inspire me!
Let me know in the comments who you’d like to see get their own story in the Iriduan Universe Love Stories series, because Cupid is eager to collect more fun “real life” romances for his bookshelf, and I have many ideas.
Some of them include a “rebel” mate—an Iriduan named Urbarra (his story will be so good! I’m loving the outline, and he is super-gorgeous), and a plant-like Thokost mate who is another delightfully grumpy hero with all kinds of cool and weird biology, as well as Anubis, of course (have I mentioned that I love Anubis? If I haven’t before, I just did. :D).
Then there’s a Bigfoot mate, and naturally, we need an Urasol mate. (You should see my series bible entries on this species! It’s extensive. I love the Urasol and really want to tell an Urasol story.)
As you can see, I’m going to have a tough decision when I get ready to write the next book in the series, since I already have outlines for most of these, plus several more. It’s an “eenie meenie miney mo” situation. 😀
I’ve been working on my series bible for my Iriduan Universe, and discovered as I got my notes and journals organized that I have twenty-two different named species in that Universe, and I have entries with all kinds of notes for all of them, so many possibilities that I’m excited about!
Thank you for reading my long version of an Author’s Note, and if you read the book, thank you for that too! And especially thank you for helping this series do so well that I can continue it!
I accidentally launched an escape pod on my miserable honeymoon—with me on it—and crash-landed in the middle of an alien jungle on a forbidden “emerging civilization” planet, breaking about a hundred Cosmic Syndicate laws.
Oh, and I robbed a hot lizard guy with sexy black eyes, the most colorful scales I’ve ever seen, and a powerful prehensile tail that curls up like a cinnamon roll..
Even though I can’t understand anything he’s saying, my new reptilian friend turns out to be as sweet as honey and spicier than the seasoning he used on the meat I stole from his camp, and after he risks his own life to save mine, he decides he wants to keep me.
I’m perfectly okay with that, but I have a feeling my philandering husband will object.
This sweet story takes place in the Iriduan Test Subjects universe, but doesn’t feature any of the characters from that series. It is also a shorter, lighter read than the books in that series. You don’t need to have read that series to follow along with this story.
This blog is the Author’s Note for my book, My Chameleon Mate, book one of my Iriduan Universe Love Stories series. I used to include long author’s notes like this in the backs of my books, but realized that not all readers would want to read them, so I decided to make them available on my blog instead for those who are interested.
Please note that this blog does contain spoilers for My Chameleon’s Mate and is best read after reading the book.
My Chameleon Mate was a very special project for me, because it was a much-needed vacation from the more complex, intense, high-pressure work I’ve been writing lately.
After writing Uriale’s Redemption, which had been a long time in the making, had many expectations behind it, and had a villain I needed to redeem (one who was a truly bad guy at times in previous books), I felt wiped out creatively. I had poured so much of myself into that book (and still believe it’s probably the best one I’ve ever written) that I fell into a bit of an after-WIP slump where I was very bummed out and really struggled for about a week just to find my spark again.
I still have two major projects on my schedule for this year, but both of them will be very mentally and emotionally labor-intensive because they deal with existing series and existing characters with fairly complex backgrounds, so I felt like I couldn’t even begin to tackle either project after finishing my last WIP and being left in such a state.
To refocus my creativity, I began to sketch out ideas for a new alien species, and my mind kept latching onto the chameleon because it was a reptile inspiration I hadn’t really explored to its fullest, though I’d used the scale color shifting for Tak from my Into the Dead Fall series. To further inspire myself, I searched for images of chameleons, and found so many incredible ones, including an absolutely gorgeous color photo of the panther chameleon that I found breathtaking in its colors and patterns.
And that’s how Khamai (KAH-my) was born. (His name is derived from the Greek root words for Chameleon :))
I expanded on Khamai and the Prdayu (Prah-DAY-ewe) as I further researched chameleons and discovered how fascinating they truly are, although I must note that I took many liberties with the details. My Prdayu are not actually intended to be accurate representations of terrestrial chameleons. I know this should be obvious because they are fictional, sapient, bipedal aliens, but every once in a while, I get a comment that I got some detail of biology wrong on my aliens and I need to “do research.” XD
I had so much fun building out Khamai’s biology, culture, and world, and I even had to add a “slurry” from which “nutrients” (in the form of dendrobs this time) were harvested, which was inspired by Abigail from Kingdom of Thirst and her podcast, especially episode 88 about The Scorpion’s Mate, which I found highly entertaining and definitely recommend. (You’ll know the reference if you listen to the podcast. XD)
Khamai’s character design made me realize that I have a thing for quills on lizardmen XD. The Prdayu is the third species I’ve created with spines or “quills” on their heads. The Akrellians and yan-kanat are the other two, but even Tak, who is Histri’i, has a ridge of spiny points on his head.
Also, I really like reptilians. Did I mention that? XD
Of course, Khamai is the first lizard-inspired alien of mine that has two… other assets. 😉 (I had to go back over my reference sketches—oh yes, I have sketches—to double check that, no pun intended) Nahash, my naga hero, is the only other character with that feature. 😀
I know! I’m surprised too! XD
What’s with the fins, you might be wondering? Lemme just say, the SFR genre has been so creative with…ahem, assets, that it’s a real bee-otch to come up with something I don’t think has been done before. My concept sketches get stranger and stranger as I struggle to come up with something new and different. XD So, I added some fins—I’m not gonna get too deep into the inspiration for those (puns! Puns everywhere!!)—and I thought, hey, I haven’t seen this before, let’s do it.
Maybe someday I’ll show that final sketch somewhere. 😀 My newsletter subscribers would be the ones to see it if I did. (I did show it…somewhere. Subscribers to my newsletter can find out where and get a peek.)
And of course, a chameleon-inspired alien species had to have the curly tail. I love the tail. It’s so darned cute!
Khamai’s understanding of his world and his place in it was refreshingly simple, and I loved being inside his head and just enjoying that perspective. To Khamai, magic exists in those things he can’t explain, and because of that, he still can find wonder in what Vera (and those of us who use computers and smartphones every day) finds commonplace and mundane.
Sometimes, I need a reminder that the things I take for granted are truly wondrous.
Vera was a return to writing a younger, less cynical heroine for me, though she’d been no less hurt in her relationships than many of my older characters. I loved her naivety, even as my heart broke for how she was taken advantage of because of it. I also really loved her character arc, and how she grew throughout this story to find confidence in herself. Khamai’s unconditional love and support gave her the right conditions to develop into the self-assured woman she would become by the epilogue.
Again, I needed her uplifting arc, and I felt cheered by her development as I wrote her story. I also needed her little emotional outbursts and all the little flaws and vulnerabilities she displayed. My previous heroine was by no means perfect, but Ellana was much savvier and more competent in survival than Vera is, so I found Vera’s “softness”—I guess would be the most flattering description—to be as refreshing as Khamai’s primitive perspective on life.
I love these two together. They compliment each other, and their love isn’t complicated by any past histories or dark secrets. Their romance was delightful to write, and relaxing, like enjoying a light dessert after a rich, full-course meal.
Cupid was another chance to show emotional development in a species that was intended to be completely emotionless. If you follow me on social media, then you may have learned by now that the grays are my favorite alien “type,” though I love my reptilians too. (It’s a very slim margin between them.)
I love putting the grays into my stories, and I love to explore the idea of them changing over time because of exposure to the many different species they were designed to observe and study, transforming into something their creators never intended. The fact that they are enigmatic is one of the biggest appeals for me, so it’s always intriguing to get inside the head of one of my gray characters.
Cupid and his crew, and his mission to bring Happily-Ever-Afters to humans and extraterrestrials in the Iriduan Universe, will be providing the framework for this series if it continues, allowing me to tell stories that are completely standalone, while still maintaining a strong thread between them.
I have so many ideas for the series, and so many characters I’ve wanted to expand upon that would be a perfect fit for a series like this. I have no idea how this book will be received, and whether there is interest in the series will really be the deciding factor for if I continue to publish it, although I might write stories for it once in a while regardless, just for my own sake, because it did help me sort of “recover” from the more involved storytelling I did in Uriale’s Redemption. I’m sure I’ll be writing more intense projects like that in the future too and will need little breaks.
I’m currently in the process of rereading my Iriduan Test Subjects series to refresh all the details in preparation for The Director’s Mate, which is one of those two projects I mentioned that is still on my schedule for this year. I got especially inspired by Cupid and crew and realized I needed another romance featuring grays in my life. They often play villain or facilitator in Science Fiction Romance, and rarely play hero, so it’s ground that isn’t already well-tread.
I like to wander off the beaten path. 😀
Roz and crew are the perfect group to really explore the worldbuilding I did for the Lusians (think “illusion”, then take off the “I” for pronunciation). Though I touched on the cohorts and how they operate with Gray’s stories (from my Into the Dead Fall series), this will be the first time I’m working with multiple grays in the same cohort, and they are all different, despite being clones. I’m practically rubbing my hands together in anticipation of some interesting reveals with this upcoming book.
That being said, I have no idea when it will be done. It’s important to me to get the details right, so I need to update my series bible and refresh my memory by reading the first eight books before diving in, and my reading speed isn’t what it used to be, especially when I’m also taking notes the whole time.
Kevos’s book from my Children of the Ajda series (which is still only one book, lol) is also up for this year, though I have moved it to after The Director’s Mate. Other projects may slip in between them, or I might write one concurrently, as I have done in the past. It really all just depends on my energy level and motivation. The more excitement my readers and fans have for a series or a book, the more motivation I feel to work on it.
I love to know what my readers want to see next, so tell me in the comments what characters you’d like to see get their own books, because I have ideas for all of them, so knowing which ones fans want helps me to focus my energy. Thank you so much for checking out my author’s note, and (I hope) the book, My Chameleon Mate. As always, I greatly appreciate your encouragement and support!
This note was originally published in the back of my book, The Scorpion’s Mate, but I have decided to move all of my longer, more involved author’s notes to my blog instead, so they don’t take up pages in my books that would be better served for a teaser chapter :D.
Still, if you’re a fan of the story, characters, and/or series, you might enjoy reading these notes, so check it out below. Please be aware that some of these notes may include spoilers for the book.
When I decided to break up The Scorpion’s Mate and Into the Dead Fall into separate books instead of offering them as one collection, I wanted to add a little more to each for my readers, and with Into the Dead Fall, I ended up adding significantly more to the story.
However, when I sat down to go through The Scorpion’s Mate, I realized that there wasn’t all that much to add that wouldn’t end up spoiling events in future books of the series.
I know there were some readers who felt frustrated by how little was revealed about the state of the universe and other characters at the end of The Scorpion’s Mate, and I’m sorry about that. Believe me, I would love to share all the secrets! It kills me to dole them out slowly over time, instead of talking about them all at once. On the other hand, I know the best stories are the ones you anticipate, with mysteries yet to discover.
I did add a little more to this book to help explain certain events from Claire’s perspective that will happen in the next book, and I hope you enjoy that small addition.
Other than that, know that The Scorpion’s Mate ended up for the most part unchanged from the original published version, and I think the reason for that is that I told the story as it was meant to be the first time around, and even in writing the sequels, I didn’t see anything I needed to add to the first book except for a few small areas.
For Into the Dead Fall, I’d discovered while writing the sequel that there was part of the story that would’ve fit better into the first book, and I went ahead and added it.
I hope you enjoyed reading The Scorpion’s Mate as much as I did writing it. I love to challenge expectations, and I absolutely adore heroes who fall outside the “norm” for the romance genre. This series pushes boundaries, and I’m aware it won’t be for everyone. I knew the market would be smaller for alien heroes like mine, but I went ahead and shared these stories anyway, because I wanted everyone who was craving something different and unusual to find what they were looking for. I hope—even though these stories are about the kind of creepy crawlies that haunt some people’s nightmares—you might find something to love in these heroes, just as I have.
Because sometimes, monsters really are more fun! 😉
Nemon and Thrax have existed in some form or another for many years in my head now, but always together, working in a partnership—usually as mercenaries. This final version of them pleases me the most, because it captures them in a far more primitive state than I initially intended when I first dreamed them up, but it really worked for their character designs.
Their “friendship” has always been somewhat contentious, but also always a strong one, and in every iteration of their stories, they had each other’s back, despite their personal issues. I loved being able to write their initial meeting as two predators eyeing each other suspiciously who end up having to work together.
Someday, I’d like to share with my readers excerpts from conversations they had in other versions of their stories, just because I always got a kick out of their attitudes towards each other. Until then, I hope you’ll check out The Kraken’s Mate to learn more about Nemon, and find out if the lonely male finally gets his mate.
The first eight books in the series are now available exclusively on Amazon, with the ninth book hopefully coming this year (2022), but I can’t make any firm promises yet.
There’s a wider story going on in this series outside of the individual romances, and the sixth book contains a finale that I hope will blow your mind in the best way possible. On the journey to that finale, you’ll discover a new, unique couple with each book in the series and they get their HEA at the end of their book. I hope you’ll join me for this adventure!
And if you loved Thrax and his…unique attributes, you should definitely check out The Clone’s Mate, book eight in the series, because those evil Iriduans are up to no good again, and when they realized they couldn’t recapture Thrax, they decided to clone him.
The Clone’s Mate isn’t directly related to the overarching story of the other books, save for The Scorpion’s Mate, so it could be read out of order without causing too much confusion. It’s RH, unlike The Scorpion’s Mate, and two of those dastardly Iriduans end up ensnared by their own hubris—and another unconventional romance heroine, as does a very intriguing Thrax clone, who is significantly different from his predecessor—except where it counts…his heart. I’m talking about his heart! What were you thinking? XD
Also, although Into the Dead Fall is no longer included with The Scorpion’s Mate as a “bonus” book, I hope you’ll check it out. I’ve added additional story that I felt would explain some things that weren’t in the original version that I included with the initial release version of The Scorpion’s Mate.
Into the Dead Fall is the start of another alien romance series that features plucky human heroines meeting their mates after being sucked into a dimensional portal and transported to a post-apocalyptic alien world. There are five books in that series and the overarching story is complete, though there is a spin-off featuring their offspring called Children of the Dead Fall.
I have a new book in the works that is nearly ready to publish, and the good news is that it takes place in the Iriduan Test Subjects universe! This new book is the first in a planned series that takes a lighter tone than the ITS series, but still features all the different alien species—and the humans who have now found themselves on a galactic stage after believing they were alone in the universe for so long.
This series will be titled “Iriduan Universe Love Stories” and is very romance-focused, featuring shorter stories (still novel length, around 70k words versus 100k +) with plenty of heat. I’ll be sharing more about book 1, “My Chameleon Mate”, very soon, but I can say that not only is there a whole new species in this series, but also another Lusian cohort getting their three-fingered hands into everything. XD
After that book is published, I’m looking at jumping back into The Director’s Mate, although first, I am doing a reread of the entire series to make sure everything is fresh in my mind. Roz and crew are so much fun for me to write, and Ava is a true romantic optimist, which is exactly what I feel like I need right now.
The Scorpion’s Mate is the first of my books to reach 1,000 reviews and ratings on Amazon! I’m over the moon with excitement about that! If you’ve ever left any review or rating on this or any of my other books, I thank you so much. It makes a huge difference in visibility for my books, and the positive reviews and ratings really make my day!
For a limited time, I’m celebrating with a giveaway that is Scorpion’s Mate-themed that you can sign up for if you’re a U.S. resident over 18 (I’m sorry I couldn’t do International this time, but I’m exploring options for future giveaways.)
The giveaway ends on July 26th, 2022 at 12AM EST, and if you read this before then, you can sign up here. Full official entry rules can be found here.
I love to hear from my readers! You all are so incredibly awesome with your support and encouragement, and I can’t thank you enough. Your excitement for the worlds and characters I create truly motivates me!
I try to spend a little time on Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok each week, but I’m not as active on social media as I probably should be. If I ever miss a post or comment from you to me, I apologize profusely, as it is never intentional, but rather just due to the sometimes overwhelming task of keeping up with social media that caused me to miss it. You can also send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also like to add exclusive content to my newsletters as a thank you to those who sign up. That content could be anything from sneak peeks, to excerpts from unpublished work, to character art (including links to the spicy kind I can’t share on social media ;)), character interviews, or whatever else I think my readers would like to see. I also occasionally add giveaways that are exclusive to my newsletter subscribers.
If you’re interested in receiving these newsletters (one a month, plus any announcements), sign up on my homepage at www.susan-trombley.com.
Thank you so much for checking out this Author’s Note on my blog, and if you’ve read the book, thank you for your support. Let me know in the comments below what characters you’d like to see in future books (for this series or any of my others), since I take fan excitement into consideration when shuffling around my many projects to work on the next one.
Ever since I published The Scorpion’s Mate, I’ve included long, perhaps somewhat rambling, Author’s Notes at the end of each book, in the hopes of giving my readers a little more insight into the inspiration behind the book they just read, some of the themes and intentions, my writing process for that book, and what I might have planned for current characters and future books.
I know that some of my readers and fans will read these notes because they often reply to questions I will ask in them, however, I’m never quite sure whether readers in general are interested in these increasingly longer and more detailed Author’s Notes, and I realized that when I said all that I intended to about a book, I would often end up with pages for an Author’s Note that I’m not even certain the majority of my readers are interested in.
I don’t want to take up pages upon pages of a book with content that doesn’t interest the readers who purchased it, so ultimately, I chose to keep my Author’s Notes much shorter and to the point, basically giving thanks (because seriously, thank you to everyone who reads my books!), and then giving an update on current and future projects in regards to that series, which are all things I would want to know as a reader.
However, I still want to share so much with my fans who are interested in all those things I used to put into my Author’s Notes.
Since I revived my blog with the intention to blog more frequently, I realized I had a perfect solution at hand. I could share those extended Author’s Notes with my fans by posting them as a blog, which will not only go out to my blog subscribers, but will also be available on my website, and indeed, I plan to post the ones I’ve written in the past as well as any new ones for future books, including the Author’s Note that I would have included with my latest book, Uriale’s Redemption, which you’ll find below.
For those who are unfamiliar with my usual Author’s Note rambling, I basically talk about all that I said above, in varying degrees, and sometimes add some more personal details. I am generally a private person, so I don’t share a lot on social media about myself and my life, however, these Author’s Notes sometimes explain a bit more about me in regards to my inspiration and life experiences, as well as my writing process (which sometimes changes, depending on the book), so even if you’re not interested in the book in question, you might find something interesting in these notes.
However, please be aware that there might be spoilers ahead for the associated books.
Author’s Note for Uriale’s Redemption
For those who are new to the Shadows in Sanctuary series, you may not be aware that I promised Uriale’s book five years ago…and then failed to deliver, much to my own chagrin.
In fact, it was because of this broken promise, boldly proclaimed in all my Author’s Notes for the previous books in the series, that I stopped giving myself firm deadlines for future books. Now, I will only give a potential release date when the first draft is either finished or nearly there.
In every other case, I keep my release plans very vague. I really hate going back on my promises, because my word is important to me. My fans have given me their time and their trust, and I deeply respect and appreciate that and seek to be worthy of it at every opportunity.
So, since Uriale’s Redemption changed how I do things, why then, didn’t I write it when I promised I would? Or the next year? Or the next? You get the idea, lol.
The truth is that I tried. Multiple times!
I even wrote half the book, then scrapped the entire manuscript, around fifty thousand words, which represents weeks of work for me. Though this isn’t the first time I’ve had to do this (I tell my Scorpion’s Mate saga in that Author’s Note), this time was particularly frustrating, because I had felt confident in the story and had even commissioned a cover in a sadly unrealistically optimistic belief that this would get done in time.
Alas (I love that word and rarely get to use it, lol), I not only didn’t meet my own self-imposed deadline, I grew skittish at even trying to write Uriale’s book again, and quite frankly, pretty much gave up on my villain-to-hero story, even though it has to be my all-time favorite romance trope. (I did do it in two other series, though, so there’s that :D)
The thing was, I loved Uriale as a character and still wanted him to have his own book. His arrogance made him fascinatingly flawed, and there was a certain degree of tragedy to his back story that I wanted to share, because I like to show motivation in a villain, or at least go into why they declined from what they no doubt saw as a heroic position. Uriale was a perfect chance to do that, and ultimately, I hope that I succeeded in his book. I didn’t want either him or Anata to be written as cardboard-cutout villains, but rather as broken souls, giving in to corruption and hedonism to deal with past pain and trauma.
But back then, I was truly struggling with getting Uriale to cooperate with my plots. He has a strong will and a mind of his own, and he knew exactly what he wanted, but I wasn’t in on the plan. XD
Something just wasn’t working in his story, and it wasn’t until I wrote Carnifex’s story, in Executioner’s Grace, which ended up becoming book 4 instead, that I finally figured out what that was.
Uriale’s genetically engineered progeny simply wasn’t old enough prior to Carnifex’s book to be much of a character in his own right, and he and Uriale had to have some kind of reckoning before Uriale could embrace his son and claim him as his own. The fact that Ellana, (whom I had planned for Uriale from book one, but had changed that plan a couple times), was raising Micah now made it possible to bring them all together once and for all. (And oh, how I love the way it turned out!)
While writing Executioner’s Grace, Uriale’s story simply unfolded for me, all of it laid bare for me to get my act together and write the book already. Coupled with fans of the series eagerly begging for Uriale’s book, I knew I needed to buckle down and get it done.
And whew! It was a ride! Writing Uriale’s Redemption hollowed me out, I’m not gonna lie. I was so wrapped up, so fully consumed by the story that when it was done, I crashed like I was coming down from a high, and ended up feeling depressed for about a week after I typed “The End” on the first draft of the manuscript.
I finally came out of my after-finishing slump (I’ve had them before, just not as intense) and dived in to tackle the revisions and edits. Again, I was consumed by the story, getting so wrapped up in it at times that I struggled to pay attention to the task at hand.
I love this story, even though I can admit that I hated writing it! It was such a struggle, such an all-consuming challenge to tell Uriale’s story after all these years, that I wanted to throw my hands up and quit so many times, but I also couldn’t walk away from the story and characters, feeling compelled to return to my manuscript day after day, for nearly two months.
I knew this particular series had a much smaller fanbase than my Iriduan Test Subjects series, so I wasn’t expecting huge returns on those two months of effort, but it was worth it anyway to give my loyal fans, those who love this series, the story they’ve been waiting for all this time.
I seriously appreciate all of you who have contacted me through social media or email to beg for more from this series. I had let it die after Jessabelle’s Beast years ago, and resurrected it only after getting so much encouragement to continue, and given the two books that followed and how proud I am of both of them, I am very grateful that I did so, and I have my fans to thank!
I think Uriale’s Redemption is some of my best work, writing-wise. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, as it is fairly complex and gets a little dark in places, but I could picture this story so clearly, and I felt like waiting five years to write it meant that it got the best of my skills put towards creating it.
I’m still learning and growing as a writer, so I’m not trying to say it’s the most amazing book ever…but, yeah, I am. It’s the most amazing book ever! (At least to me. You gotta love what you create 😉 )
I hope you agree that the book was at least good. In fact, I’m greedy enough to hope that you loved it!
The future of this series is uncertain at the moment. It honestly doesn’t get much attention, though when readers do discover it, they often contact me to tell me how much they love it and how they want more, and for that, I am deeply appreciative! That kind of feedback really inspires me and makes me eager to work on the next book in a series. Though I’m a professional writer, indie as I am, who makes money with these books, they’re still creative works that take a lot out of me, and I’m also emotionally connected to them (I’m only human, I can’t treat a story that took heart and soul to write like a widget from an assembly line), so when I receive awesome messages or emails that praise the series and beg for more, it has a huge impact on me.
I have many more ideas and even outlines for stories in this series, and I would love to write all of them, though realistically speaking, I couldn’t do it in my lifetime, especially since the possibilities only grow with each new book, so I have to focus on what my fans want next.
That being said, let me know in the comments which characters from the series you’d like to get their story! Fan feedback helps me decide what I’ll work on next for a series.
As for what I’m working on at the moment, I was supposed to take a break from writing for a while, because this book wiped me out so much that I felt overwhelmed. However, I started playing around with some concept art sketching of character ideas, and came up with a chameleon hero that I decided should have a story of his own. (I have a TikTok now, and I posted a video of painting this guy there :D)
Since I wanted to make it a lighter read with less complexity than a book like Uriale’s Redemption, it’s been a much more relaxed experience writing this new book, which will also be much shorter. I’m aiming for a light, steamy read that incorporates a ton of romance tropes, particularly SFR, and hopefully puts them all together in a fun, very entertaining way that my fans will enjoy. I’m really leaning in to the tropey-ness on this one. 😀 I love the romance genre, and I love all the associated tropes of it, as well as the science fiction tropes that also occur frequently in this book.
After I finish this WIP, I plan on actually taking that break, XD before I dive into one of the other two books I’ve been planning for this year, Ava’s book, and Kevos’s book.
Thank you so much for reading my Author’s Note for Uriale’s Redemption, and if you read the book, thank you for taking the time to check it out!
I’m super excited to announce that Uriale’s Redemption is now available in ebook on Amazon! (Paperback version coming soon)
This book is also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so if you have that, you can read it for FREE.
This book has been a long time in the making and I really hope fans of the series love this book as much as I do.
Please note that this story is set in a dark and dangerous world in which all characters are in peril. There are some intense combat scenes that might be disturbing to some readers. It’s an emotional roller coaster of a read and far from light and fluffy, but the tone is in line with that of the rest of the series, and you all know I love Happily Ever Afters! 😀 Just sayin.
Forsaken and exiled
Abandoned by the Father of Light and hunted by his Flock, Uriale craves vengeance against the Diakonos—humans who once worshipped him as a god, and then betrayed him by stealing his power over light.
The chance for that vengeance stumbles into his talons with former Diakonos, Ellana Reese. Sparing her from death in the unforgiving jungle is no mercy on his part. He plans to torture the location of the other Diakonos out of her, but finds his own protective instinct standing in his way.
To make matters worse, Ellana isn’t just any beautiful and fragile human female. She once captivated him as his devoted servant, her words of praise brightening his moments of darkness. Now that she’s in his grasp, he feels enchanted all over again.
A dangerous secret
Ellana once loved Uriale as her god and also harbored a more forbidden desire for him, until he abandoned those he was meant to protect, destroying her faith in him. Now, she must lure him away from her son—their son—the genetically engineered child the Diakonos created to usurp Uriale’s power to give it to mankind. Ellana knows the fallen prince will kill Micah if he discovers the boy’s location.
But Uriale’s unexpected mercy touches her heart as she realizes that he isn’t a perfect god of a light, but a flawed and scarred mortal of flesh and blood. Her fantasy is finally in her grasp, and his touch heats her blood, but the secret she must keep from him could destroy the love that grows between them.
And the secrets Uriale keeps could destroy their world.
I know I’ve been promising a lore post, and I decided it would be fun to share some of the myths for Tak and Iyaren’s home world, especially since Tak and Iyaren would routinely tell their children bedtime stories about myths from their home world in my Into the Dead Fall series, and though I mentioned them doing this, I never shared any details of those myths in the books. Both myths tell a similar story but in distinctly different ways that reflect their cultures and perspectives.
The events of these fictional mythologies are inspired by the Osiris myth, just as Tak and Iyaren and their deities and even their homelands were inspired by Ancient Egyptian myth and legend. I also drew a lot of inspiration from Greek and Roman myths and legends, and the Ancient Aliens theory, of course. 😀
These stories aren’t meant to be taken as literal historical recountings for Tak and Iyaren’s people, though certain events take place that actually did happen for their fictional world, but they are told from the perspective of a primitive species attempting to comprehend what they were seeing at that time and then embellishing the story further throughout the generations. This is what I love about myths! They are often improbable, if not impossible, and are metaphorical, and they can be used as object lessons.
I had a lot of fun writing these, and I love to write the oral histories and myths of the different alien species in my books, as I think the stories we tell to each other reveal so much about who we are as a people and how we’ve changed throughout history. Most of these stories never make it into my books. I think I only shared the origins of the dragon gods in my fantasy novels, and maybe the origin of the umbrose and adurians, thought that could have been in a draft that I later cut out, come to think of it.
So, here on my blog, I’ll share the origin myths for the Histri’i (HISS-try) lizardmen, and the Sari’i (SAH-rye) lion-men species from Into the Dead Fall.
This will be a long one, as I wanted to include both tales. I love how they contrast with each other and reveal how the two enemy species regard each other.
I hope fans of my Dead Fall series really enjoy these little deeper looks into the fictional worlds I’ve created. Thank you as always for following my blog, and if the Dead Fall series isn’t one you’re interested in, I have plans to share lore and more from all my other series in time.
The Origin of Life as told to Tak of Clan Et, by the Clan Storytellers
First, there was the endless sprawl of sand and dark water shrouded by the icy chill of a black sky. No life grew, and no people lived and laughed, for there was nothing in this land but cold and darkness.
Then, within the dark water a vortex began to spin, and out of that vortex rose a pyramid made of gleaming gold that pierced the empty sky as it rose higher and higher, until it hovered above the land. From that pyramid, three beams of light—the first ever seen in the land—speared down to form bright circles upon the sand below. Where those beams touched, three divine beings formed.
The first to appear was Siriss, who was all muscle and divine strength, a peerless warrior who could strike down the stars from the night sky to scatter them upon the endless sands. He stood as tall as the oldest sungess tree, and just as broad as her widest branches, and his steps shook the earth when he walked. His golden scales were the most beautiful of any scaled creature, and he was the handsomest of Histri’i, the very first Histri’i who would ever grace the land.
The second to appear was Issas, who was as graceful and flexible as the hisso vines, and she had magic in her touch and could coax the stars back up into the night sky again with just a wiggle of her fingers. She stood nearly as tall as her husband, Siriss, but where he was all brawn, she was as slender as a river ssylph, with silver scales so fine and delicate that they were nearly invisible unless the light flashed upon them.
The third and last being to appear from the pyramid’s light was Ssetess, a dark storm-bringer with a heart formed from blackened stone. He could raise a vortex of winds to sweep the sands into a flurry with just a wave of one clawed hand. He was almost as tall as his brother, Siriss, but he was nearly as slender as his sister, Issas. He had fur as red as blood and eyes as shadowed as the darkest waters from whence they had all arisen.
Once their pyramid settled to become their home, Sset quickly grew jealous of the beautiful scales of Siriss and hated that his Histri’i brother was much handsomer than him. He challenged his brother to a duel right there on the sands before their sacred pyramid, and Siriss, certain he would prevail with his superior strength, raised all four of his sword arms, each holding a tekess blade of such fine craftmanship that the edges were sharp enough to slice the world into two.
For forty years, they battled before the pyramid, while Issas looked upon the fray with growing concern, for her cruel brother, Sset, was not defeated as easily as either she or Siriss had expected. In fact, Sset was using the wind and the sand to blind his brother, and at the end of those forty years, he raised such a fierce storm that it formed the sand into blades to slash his brother into many pieces.
As those pieces of Siriss’s scaled flesh rained down upon the sand, Issas screamed in horror, but thinking quickly, she formed a funeral jar from the sand at her feet and lifted it to catch the rain of Siriss’s blood.
Sset claimed a piece of Siriss’s flesh, his fertility, and spirited it away so he could use Siriss’s divine seed to breed a demesne of monsters. For he knew that Issas would use her husband’s blood to bring life back into his flesh, and Sset would need an army to face down his wrath.
Issas wept bitter tears and named the sands where her husband’s divine flesh had scattered the Land of Endless Sorrows. She would not give up on resurrecting him, but she did not have the strength to do it alone. After setting the funeral jar carefully at her feet, she pulled a scale from her own divine flesh and set it next to the jar. Then she wriggled her magical fingers, and the scale grew into the god, Ss’bek, who rose to stand in his two-legged form before her. Seeing her glory, he bowed to one knee and asked how he might serve her, his queen. His mother.
She replied, “Carve a path through the fallen flesh of Siriss to make a channel for his blood to flow and be certain that path touches every part of him, for his body has been spread far and wide across the sands because of Ssetess’s foul winds.”
Ss’bek did not hesitate to obey. He took the form of a might Crocoet and began his journey over the sands, using his huge body to dig the channels linking every part of Siriss. Once his task was done, Issas poured the contents of the funeral jar into the beginning of the channel at her feet, there at the base of the sacred pyramid where her beloved Siriss had been defeated.
Though his blood spread to all the parts of his body, Siriss’s flesh did not live again, and Issas again mourned for many years. Then, she realized that her own heart had nearly frozen from the chill in the air, and she had an idea of what to do to bring her beloved back to life.
She summoned Ss’bek to her side again, and as he once again knelt before her, she withdrew a shard of fire from her heart—the last of her burning love for her husband—and pushed it into his chest. “This flame will bring light and warmth to the sands and make Siriss’s blood flow again. Spread this light across the Land of Endless Sorrows to bring my beloved back to life.”
And so, Ss’bek became Ss’bek Ssa, keeper of the life flame, and he did as his queen had bade him and spread his new light across the entire world, bearing it across the sky for the long day before letting it die down to an ember in his chest at night when he grew so tired he had no choice but to rest.
This finally worked, and Siriss’s flesh returned to life again, but it still lay scattered across the sands. Yet new life spawned from his fallen flesh wherever his divine blood touched it, and that life spread, and prospered, and on Ss’bek’s journeys across the sky, he would look down upon that life with pride and growing curiosity.
Then during one day of traveling, he looked down upon a creature that was pleasing to his eye, another Crocoet, the largest and most beautiful of scale that he’d ever seen, and he coveted her. Thus, instead of continuing his journey, he traveled down to the Crocoet and lay with her on the banks of the Siriss River, causing the very first Dark During Daytime to occur.
Issas was very displeased by his dereliction, and summoned him to her side to reprimand him, but his transgression had already resulted in many divine children being born from the Crocoet. Each of them coveted a demesne of their own, and Issas relented, realizing they could be caretakers of her beloved’s body, granting each of them a portion of it to guard over, protect, and rule the new lives that were forming upon it.
But for Ss’bek Ssa, she had to punish him for what he’d done, and make certain he couldn’t disrupt the cycle of light and heat again, because she could see that he had taken so much pleasure in laying with the Crocoet and felt so much pride in the creation of their children, that he would be tempted to do this again. Thus, she made it so that Ss’bek would have to spit up his fire each dawning to send it across the sky, then make the long journey to the other end of the Land of Endless Sorrows to swallow it again so the land could sleep, and he could bring it back to the beginning, and only then, would he have his own rest.
Ss’bek knew this was a small punishment indeed and was thankful for Issas’s mercy. But he still can’t resist spreading his seed to those beautiful creatures he comes across on his journeys, so sometimes, it takes him longer to reach the other end of the Land of Endless Sorrows, and that’s why some days are longer than others.
Then sometimes, he is very impatient to rest, so he hurries to the end of his daily journey, and that’s why some days are so short.
And so, the days passed for many years, but Sset had not forgotten his desire to destroy his brother. With his brother’s stolen fertility, he sowed the ground with divine seed, corrupted by his dark magics, and monsters grew wherever it fell. Once he’d grown an army, Ssetess ordered his creatures to fall upon the thriving flesh of Siriss and rend it all asunder, then drink up all the blood of the river that had been given his divine name.
Sset and his armies became a dark shroud upon the Land of Endless Sorrows, and many creatures died, and many demesnes were burned to ash to sink once again into the eternal sands, but Ss’bek Ssa and his children would not stand by and allow such sacrilege to his father’s flesh. With his oldest daughter Sekhmet at his side, her warrior heart fierce with rage because her demesne was one that had burned, leaving her nothing to rule over but the empty sands, Ss’bek raised an army of his own. Then they marched to the Demesne of Wailing Winds and Weeping Shadows to quell Sset’s armies and confront Ssetess at the heart of his demesne.
The battle raged for many hundreds of years, but finally the monstrous armies of Sset were pushed back to his demesne. But Ss’bek and his children were exhausted, and he still had to spit out the sun every day and chase it down by nighttime to swallow it again, and for a long period, he could no longer make the journey, and the sun was lost in the distant sands, burning them so thoroughly that they lost their color and turned white, and the seas that surrounded them boiled away, leaving nothing behind but their salt, and thus came the season when Dark Lasts All Day.
Issas saw that Ss’bek and his children were worn from the endless battle against Sset, and her brother was unrelenting in his determination to destroy her beloved Siriss. She knew it fell to her to put an end to his invasion, since none of the others had been able to take him on in his own monster-infested demesne.
So Issas traveled to the boundary land between the other demesnes and Sset’s corrupted land of black sands and oily rivers of blood. Looking upon the nightmarish Demesne of Wailing Winds and Weeping Shadows, she wept a dozen tears of her own that fell upon the sands at her feet and hardened to magical crystals. Unbeknownst to anyone, Sekhmet collected those crystals and stole them away from her grandmother.
Issas was too distracted to notice the goddess taking some of her magic. In her grief and anger, she pulled a rib from inside her chest, where it had failed to protect her broken heart, and used it to form a wall of bone between Sset’s demesne and all the others. Then she laid herself down in front of that barrier to link her own flesh with the blood of the River Siriss, and thus she became the last demesne, the Land of Devotion and Sacrifice, an empty wasteland where even Sset’s winds tiptoe to avoid making a sound that might awaken the giant, angry worms that burrowed into her flesh and feasted upon it, rising from the sands to eat anything that attempted to cross the wasteland.
Ss’bek’s children finally returned to their lands to take up rule over their own demesnes again, and for a time, Sekhmet contented herself with ruling over the endless sands that were all that remained of her destroyed demesne.
Ss’bek Ssa went on a journey to retrieve the sun so that he might begin the day again, and when he found it and spit it across the sky, he sent it flying so high that the sun took many months to come down, and thus came the season of Light That Remains Unswallowed.
Then he reclaimed the sun again and brought the days back to normal, but he kept the two seasons that had been created from the war so that none of the people would ever forget his importance.
And then all was good and right in the Land of Endless Sorrows, but unbeknownst to Ss’bek, his daughter Sekhmet still harbored war in her heart, and the peace of the land chafed upon her like sand beneath the skirt. With the twelve crystals of her grandmother’s magic, Sekhmet gave her mortal daughters the power to control the elements, even the dark power of Sset himself, and then she trained an army of incomparable swordsmen to protect and guard her priestesses, and thus began the era of the Kanta Sari’i (SAH-rye), who marched across the Lands, invading and conquering demesne after demesne because Sekhmet coveted those rich lands that she herself no longer ruled over.
The cries of Ss’bek’s other children drew his attention from the task of keeping the day, and he saw what his daughter was doing and grew enraged, but she was still his daughter, and thus he couldn’t bring himself to destroy her. Instead, he carved out his own demesne, creating a channel in the sand to link his land to the Siriss River. He then spilled his own blood into that river to mix with his father’s, and thus he created the Ama Sar Et river, or Make War for Peace. Then he tore off the tip of his tail, leaving the end blunted, so that he could form his own demesne, one rich with life and growth. So green was his demesne that even the light from his own flame of Ssa could not pierce some of the jungle canopies, creating dark and cool places in the humid lands.
Once he had a land of his own, Ss’bek got to work creating his own mortal children, and this time, he did not lay with others to make them, knowing that would only create more gods and goddesses. Instead, he pulled scales from his own body to form his many different peoples, and since his scales were different shapes and sizes, so too, are his peoples.
He gave each of his new peoples a special gift. To the Ssylph, he gave the ability to breathe the air and water and to live on both land and in the rivers. To the Oteri’i, he gave the ability to excrete toxins from their skin that is so deadly it can kill some creatures on contact.
But to the Histri’i, the most beloved of all his peoples, because they were formed to be like his father, Siriss, he gave the gift of his fire, pressing it into their chests like his mother had once pressed her heart flame into his.
But the other peoples of Ss’bek looked upon this favoritism towards the Histri’i with much jealousy, and they came together to destroy the Histri’i, instead of turning their focus towards stopping the warlike Kanta Sari’i. As Ss’bek’s own jealous children made war upon the Histri’i, our people unleashed our flames to defend ourselves, and like the sun itself, those flames burned the land when they grew too big, instead of warming it.
Ss’bek saw that his new lands were turning to ash, and he knew he had to give the Histri’i gifts that would help them defend themselves without destroying everything around them.
So Ss’bek gave us a resistance to poison, so the Oteri’i could not harm us. Then he gave us the shifting scales so the strongest Crocoet could not see us to strike before we could strike them. Then he gave us the secret of changing our scent, so even the most talented hunter Nahass would not be able to find us as they slither their way through our jungles.
So gifted were the Histri’i by then that even Ss’bek himself began to fear that his favored people would become too prideful, and so he gave us one last gift. He gave the Histri’i the gift of humility that we hold in our hearts, warmed by our flames.
It is this gift, young one, that we must tend as closely as we tend the flames in our chests, to forever honor our god Ss’bek’s generosity to us. We shall never grow too prideful, like the aggressive Kanta Sari’i, or too jealous, like Ss’bek’s other mortal children, if we always remember to honor our god’s final gift to us.
The Origin of Life, as told to Iyaren by the Temple Priestesses of Sekhmet
In the beginning, nothing existed but the dark sands and the frozen seas. The empty sky reflected that infinite darkness. As it was, so had it always been.
Then a pinprick of light appeared in the sky, and was reflected in the ice of the sea, and along the slopes of the sand dunes. That light grew and grew until it rivaled our sun today, and it emitted from the Sacred Golden Pyramid that was approaching from a distant place far beyond the Land Long Forgotten. Once the Pyramid hovered above the sands, three divine beings strode down from the base of it on beams of golden light.
The first of those beings to set paw upon the sand was a Sari’i of such grace and beauty that none could look upon her without becoming enraptured beyond sense. She was called Isari, the very first Sari’i. She possessed magics beyond compare, and none could best her sorcery. Her pelt was formed of the thickest golden fur to match the slopes of the Sacred Pyramid, and her twenty foreclaws were all sharp as blades and as fine and gleaming as her fangs and the many golden hoops in her ears. She had twenty tails that whipped behind her, stirring up the sands to swirl around her feet.
The second of those divine beings was the very first warrior of the Kanta code. He who served the goddess Isari, he was known as Kanta Siru, who carved the codes of Kanta into his pelt so his granddaughter, our great goddess Sekhmet, could record them and give them to her children. Thus, all the sorceresses would have loyal warriors who understood the code to guard their flanks as they cast their spells. Kanta Siru wielded the four finest blades in all creation, the Sacred Mesi Sar, Bloody Claws of War, that are sharp enough to cut the stars down from the sky. He had a mane as full as the moon and as silken as the finest of robes. Ten tails whipped behind his body, stirring up the dark sand at his feet.
The third divine being to leave his beam of light and step paw upon the sands was the dark sorcerer, Setet, who had always been jealous of his sister, Isari, for her great magics, and thus hoarded the knowledge of the winds to himself. He had fur of vile red, like dried blood, and eyes as black as the ice of the sea, and he had no tail, for he swept the sand with his magic winds instead.
Noting that he defiled the land with his raging storms, Isari sought a way to combat them, and commanded him to give her the secret to his magic. When he again refused, as he had so many times before, she ordered Kanta Siru to strike down her treacherous brother. Like all honorable Kanta, Siru served his bonded one loyally and fiercely, and so he raised the Mesi Sar against his brother, Setet, to strike him down.
But evil-hearted Setet, though physically much weaker than his warrior brother, was a clever and cunning beast. He had no intention of losing the battle, even to the mightiest of Kanta warriors. After forty years of battle, he summoned the winds to form swords made of sand. Then he slashed the honorable Kanta into many pieces with the windborne blades.
But when he turned upon Isari, she forced him back with her magics. She raised the sun into the sky to burn him, and caused the sea to melt so she could drown him, then she made the earth quake so she could bury him in the sands. Once he was vanquished, Isari collected the blood of her Kanta Siru into a funeral jar and poured it out at her feet, then formed a channel with her magics so it would flow to all the pieces of Siru’s flesh to bring them back to life. For Isari knew that she would perish if her bonded Kanta died, just as he would perish if she were to die. Thus, she resurrected him and made his flesh into the land over which she would rule for many years.
Over the years, she grew very lonely, for Siru had lost the ability to speak, even though his flesh grew and flourished wherever the river of his blood, now named the Siru River, touched it. She would have welcomed the company of even her cruel and evil brother Setet, but he remained in a slumber after his defeat. Before she had buried him, he had stolen Siru’s mighty staff and all his fertility with it, so Isari could not even form a child of Siru’s seed to keep her company.
Not to be dissuaded, she decided to create a child from her own fur and give it life with lifeblood from Siru’s river. After plucking the fur from her body and sprinkling it into the river, she purred in pleasure to see a form rise out of the depths. But when she went to shape that new fleshy form into another Sari’i, a wicked wind sent by the dreaming Setet suddenly swept in and blew all the fur away, leaving a form with nothing to protect its flesh from the fire of the sun. Thinking quickly, Isari waved her hands over the creature, and the flesh of its body hardened into rough, green scales.
It was an ugly creature, the child she’d created with her flesh and Siru’s blood, but still it was their child, the only one they had ever made together, so she gave it a name—Sobek. But her new child could not speak his own name without a hiss, and thus, he became Ss’bek to all, from the moment of his first attempt to speak.
Isari took pity on her malformed son and gave him the gift of the sun to keep in his chest so that he might always keep his body warm even in the coldest waters, for he could not move in the cold and his blood threatened to freeze. The only thing she asked in return for this priceless gift was that Ss’bek Sa travel across the sky each day with his chest aglow to keep the Land of Bitter Loss warm, so her Kanta Siru’s flesh remained alive.
For many years, Ss’bek Sa did as commanded, but he was a selfish creature and prone to disobedience. One day, during his journey, he spotted another creature much like him in his animal form, and he lusted after the beast. Instead of doing his duty and repaying the blessing of his mother’s gift, he shirked his responsibilities and left the sky early to lay with the crocoet.
This caused great consequences as the Day Without Light became known as the time when Setet reawakened from his own slumber beneath the cooling sands, and with Siru’s mighty fertility staff in hand, he began to form his army of monsters in the Land of Waking Nightmares.
So severe were the consequences of Ss’bek’s dereliction of his duty that Isari punished him harshly, forcing him to vomit up the sun each morning to shoot it across the sky, then race to the other end of the Lands to swallow it again so that he could bring it back for the next day’s journey.
But Ss’bek was not easily dissuaded from his lustful indiscretions and often laid with creatures he found along the banks of the River Siru, and his delay in reclaiming the sun caused the days to grow longer.
But sometimes, he grew impatient for his journey to end so he could rest for the night, and he would hurry to catch the sun, swallowing it much sooner, and so the days would grow shorter.
Many gods and goddesses were born of Ss’bek’s unapproved unions with the creatures along the banks, but the only one who had the favor and approval of Isari was Ss’bek’s first child, for she was born a Sari’i, nearly as beautiful as her grandmother, despite having a crocoet as her mother, and Ss’bek as her father. Her appearance had come from her grandmother’s and grandfather’s flesh remaining true, despite the corruption of Ss’bek.
Sekhmet was a powerful sorceress in her own right, but she was also highly skilled at war, as her father, Ss’bek, was filled with the fire of aggression that came from carrying the sun, and he had passed some of that aggression on to her. Because of this, she had no need for a Kanta, though she deciphered the Kanta code from her grandfather’s skinned pelt that made up her demesne of many waving grasses. She had the words chiseled into gold plates to place into her sacred temples, so that all her children would know them.
Peace is never a long-term state for the Land of Bitter Loss, and this is good, for Sekhmet craves war. When Setet spread his monstrous army over the lands, conquering one demesne after another, she was eager to meet him in battle.
But Setet has no honor, and while his armies engaged her in defending the demesnes of her brothers and sisters, he sent some of his minions to burn down all her grasslands, until nothing but empty sand remained of her own demesne.
Heartbroken, enraged, and eager for vengeance, Sekhmet went to her father where he rested at night after swallowing the sun and carrying it back to the beginning of the Lands. She struck him awake and demanded he do something about Setet. He begrudgingly stirred his lazy scales and agreed to raise an army of his children and their servants. Sekhmet was the first to volunteer to lead Ss’bek’s army and seeing the wisdom of putting his wisest and most skilled child in charge, he quickly agreed.
Sekhmet fought the fiercest of battles for a hundred years without tiring, but her father, Ss’bek, was weak and lazy and grew tired quickly. Especially when he forgot to collect the sun at the end of one day, and his body grew cold while the heat of its blaze bleached distant sands at the end of the Lands and boiled the seas until only salt remained.
And so, the season of Darkness began.
Sekhmet had to leave the battle against Setet and his forces long enough to retrieve the sun in a golden basket to carry it safely back to her father. Once he swallowed it again, the tide of the battle turned, because Ss’bek leapt into the sky and let his sun blaze all day and all night without rest so that Setet’s shadows were burned to ash.
And so, the season of Never-Dark began.
Once Set’s monsters were weakened, Sekhmet led her siblings to push Setet and his minions back to his own demesne, the Land of Waking Nightmares, and she held him there for many more hundreds of years and could have kept him there forever if she’d had to, but Isari decided that Setet and his monsters had done too much damage to her Kanta Siru’s flesh, and they were risking killing him.
Thus, she made her way to the boundary between Setet’s demesne and the rest of the Land of Bitter Loss and pulled a rib from her body to lay it down upon the ground. With her magic, she formed it into a barrier of bone that rose hundreds of carriage lengths high into the sky. Then she laid her body down upon the sands and fell into a deep slumber, using her magic to grow mighty sand worms that would burst from the sands that swept over her flesh to eat anything that tried to cross her body, which became the last demesne, the Land of the Forbidden Crossing.
Heartbroken by the loss of her grandmother, but filled with joy over the defeat of Setet, Sekhmet returned home to her demesne with her warriors, but her beautiful grasslands formed from the pelt of her grandfather Siru had all been burned to nothing.
She made the most of her lands, and even gave of her own blood and tears to create the oases dotted among the dunes, but only the lands that still touched the River Siru thrived, and her people could not grow and expand when so restricted. She saw all her brothers and sisters greedily taking their lands for granted, wasting endless resources on decadence and hedonism, while her own people had to live with austerity and great discipline. She realized that her siblings didn’t deserve their blessings and were casting them back in the faces of their grandmother and grandfather by taking them for such granted.
So, with righteous war in her heart, filled with the desire to grant her people the wealth and plenty that they deserved for their loyal worship, she raised a new army to march upon the lands of the corrupt, conquering them one by one, her priestess sorceresses undefeatable with the Kanta warriors at their sides.
But instead of meeting her and her armies in honorable battle, her siblings went to her father with crocoet tears in their eyes and begged him to intervene to stop her.
Though Sekhmet was not a disloyal daughter, she knew that her father was as dissolute as her siblings, perhaps even more so—for he was still losing the sun every season of Darkness, and then allowing it to blaze too long every season of Never-Dark.
Because she knew her father to be lazy, Sekhmet was not at first concerned that he would ever join the battle. Yet, in a surprising response to his whining children, he carved his own demesne and tore off part of his tail to create the richest of all lands, as if to mock Sekhmet for having only sands left where her fertile demesne had once stood. Infuriated by this cruel and heartless taunt that showed how little he cared about her, Sekhmet righteously marched upon the demesne of Ss’bek.
Her wily father had not stopped with only creating his decadent lands though. He’d also formed many new peoples from his scales, giving each of them special divine gifts that should never be granted to mortal flesh. Had her grandmother been awake, her father would have been severely punished, but because Isari remained dormant, forever guarding the Land of Bitter Loss from Setet and his evil, it fell to Sekhmet to punish Ss’bek’s many transgressions.
To this day, our goddess continues to bring her righteous wrath upon the people of Ss’bek’s demesne. Our warriors and priestesses will never falter in our holy mission, though even the Histri’i, who were usually peaceful because their anger had burned their lands when Ss’bek first granted them the fire of Sa, have joined the battle, bringing many gifts into the fight that Ss’bek should never have given them.
But we, the servants of Sekhmet, are the mightiest of all warriors and the most powerful of all sorceresses in all the Land of Bitter Loss. We will prevail, and Ss’bek’s demesne will be ours, and then our brothers and sisters will feast upon the decadent riches that his people have greedily hoarded to themselves for so long.
It’s been ages since I’ve written an actual blog post that wasn’t a release announcement. I do enjoy writing these posts, but I’ve been so focused on creating my books that I kept procrastinating on writing another blog.
So much has gone on in my life since my last blog post, and to be honest, after reviewing and redoing my website, I realized that those old posts just didn’t fit into what I was planning for the future, so I deleted them to make way for a more consistent series of blog posts. From now on, I intend to structure my blog posts into specific categories that will (hopefully) be easily accessible via my website menu. Of course, there will still be new release announcements, but I also want to have an “Updates” category so I can create posts letting my fans know what I’m working on, or what I’m planning to start, and another category for supplemental content to my books that will expand upon the universes I’ve created for each of my series. I’m really excited about that second category, which I’m thinking of titling “Lore and More.”
Now, the reason I started thinking about adding lore blogs was because I have made the commitment (finally) to typing up my series bibles into a format that will make researching for new books in each series much, much easier! Currently, my world-building and character and timeline notes are scattered all over the place. I have about a dozen journals, a pile of looseleaf notebook paper, and a bunch of napkins and receipts and envelopes, all of which contain notes that are pertinent to my published novels and the worlds and characters I created for them.
I love to bring in details in new books from previous books in the series, especially the small details that may have only been mentioned in passing before that many readers may not actually notice, but I love to drop little Easter eggs in the hopes that my fans will pick up on them. Friak was in my ITS universe from the very first book, The Scorpion’s Mate, even though he hadn’t even been born yet, lol. In fact, sometimes those small details end up becoming a pivotal part of a plot in a new book I’m working on, (Friak’s story is a prime example of a callback to a previous book, and a crossover at that), and when that happens, I’m totally stoked. I don’t always plan these things in advance, but sometimes I do plan it, then I forget my original plan because months or even years pass between the book I wrote that introduced that detail and the new book I’m writing that will make the most use of that detail.
To combat missing out on these things, I will often reread the entire series before writing the next book, but as you can imagine, when the series gets longer and longer, that option becomes less viable if I want to get books finished in a timely manner. Plus, rereading six or seven books in a series to then write the eighth can give me a bit of series fatigue that makes me want to hop around to new projects. I love my stories, and I love to reread them, but not when I feel like I’m under the gun with (self-imposed, usually) deadlines.
So, I created a template for my series bibles. Well, several templates actually, including a timeline template and character details template. As I’m going back through each of my series, rereading not only the books themselves but also digging through the extensive notes filled with details and events I never published, I am discovering some stuff that I’m finding entertaining to rewrite or expand upon. A lot of this is lore, like the origin mythologies that I had to condense while writing them out by hand because my brain was working too fast for my pen. Then there’s the detailed information on the cities, the worlds, the complexities of the political landscape for each species, the mating rituals, the theologies….
Okay, perhaps not all of these things will be as interesting to my fans as they are to me, but I’m thinking my readers might enjoy some of the mythologies and legends associated with my worlds and characters. Like perhaps they might want to read the tale of Doshakeren’s epic battle against the Northern Mountain as told by the storytellers of his old nest. Or maybe even how the Fayi tell the tale of their origin, and how they describe Cold Mother and her Dark Nest.
Right now, those particular tales are still in note form, but I have fully completed the origin myths for Tak of Clan Et, from my Into the Dead Fall book of the series with the same name, and Iyaren, who is the other hero in that same book. I drew inspiration from Ancient Egyptian mythology for Tak and Iyaren’s character designs, as well as the god and goddess they once served, and I stuck with that inspiration for their origin myths. I focused on the Osiris myth, but I veered far from that inspiration, creating relationships and connections that didn’t exist in the inspiration myth. Still, the influence is there, and loving Ancient Egyptian mythology like I do, I don’t shy away from it, while at the same time I did my own thing.
What I love most about Tak and Iyaren’s origin myths is that they are two separate versions of the same story that, when compared side-by-side, show the biases of each species and how their different perspectives (from opposite sides of a battlefield) influenced the tales they tell about their origins.
I love to present a story from multiple points of view that conflict with each other in order to examine how perspective alone can change the shades of a story, so something that appears clear-cut when viewed from one angle is quite a bit fuzzier when viewed from the opposing angle. But I digress….
Allow me to get back on topic. I would like to share these bits of lore, from myth to legend, to short stories recounting heroic deeds of actual book characters, because they will be the kinds details that I intend to record as I continue typing up my series bibles.
These are the kinds of details that I love to see from those series that I am interested in that are created by other authors. They’re the details that don’t make it into the books. They’re tales that might be referenced but are never actually told to the readers, because they don’t pertain to the specific story. It’s important to remain laser-focused when working on a manuscript so I avoid bloating it with extraneous details. (My idea of extraneous differs from some other readers, as I like lots of world building, but not at the cost of story pacing.)
I feel like both my blog posts and my newsletter exclusives can be a place where I share these bits of lore and further expand upon my worlds and characters, because I imagine that if someone is subscribing to these, then they are invested in the worlds and characters I’ve created, and like me, they want to know more than what I can cover in the stories I’ve published. (Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you don’t miss exclusive content! :D)
So, in addition to hopefully blogging with regular updates, along with sending out a monthly newsletter with exclusive content, I plan to start sharing lore as I complete it or come across it in my scattered mess of notes while working on my series bibles.
I will categorize this first blog in ages as “Updates”, and so I will add a quick update. I am currently working on Uriale’s Redemption, which is book 5 in my Shadows in Sanctuary series. I know I’ve been promising this book for literal years, and for not delivering in a timely manner, I apologize! It’s because I’ve failed to deliver this book for so long that I stopped making promises for upcoming releases until the first draft of a manuscript was complete to my satisfaction.
I’m 65k words into this book, and the story is concrete in my mind now (fully developed and fully visualized), which means this is the one! The final version! The one I was meant to write, though I still have a ways to go before it’s complete.
The outline for Uriale’s Redemption has gone through multiple rewrites throughout the years, and in fact, I ended up realizing I couldn’t even tell his story until I told another story first, which ended up becoming Executioner’s Grace, because Uriale’s destiny involved something that hadn’t happened yet. I won’t go into further details that would be spoilery, but suffice it to say, all the pieces are finally in place on the board, and now it’s time to play the game.
In addition to Uriale’s book, I’m working on a little side project set in the same world, because as I develop certain aspects of a story, I’m inspired to expand on…well…lore. Including the origin stories of certain factions in my books. I’ve always had extensive notes for that lore, but now, I am fleshing out a complete story with a bit of a horror flavor to it, though it is still intended to be a romance with an HEA (of sorts). I have been wanting to write a horror-romance forever, and though most of my books flirt with horror elements, I have always wanted to make the story a little darker (by “a little” I mean a lot XD). So far, I’m just playing around with this side project while using it to flesh out the main world building, but if I finish the story I envision, it may end up being a novella length that I would consider publishing. If you’re interested in such a story, comment below and let me know!
Other projects are in the works too. Kevos’s book (Sentinel’s Journey, book 2 of my Children of the Ajda series) and Ava’s book (The Director’s Mate, book 9 of my Iriduan Test Subjects series) are still on target for this year, fingers crossed. I will also be working on those series bibles and whew! Those notes are insanely extensive! It’s a lot. My readers have seen only a small fraction of how much detail there is in the Iriduan Test Subjects series universe especially.
What kind of tales and lore would you like to see? What books would you like to see from me? Which characters are you really eager to see more of?
Let me know in the comments, because I take all of the feedback from my fans into consideration when planning future projects. My Shadows in Sanctuary series is one that I resurrected specifically because so many fans of the series contacted me hoping for the next book, when I had thought no one was interested in the series anymore, so I’d backburnered my manuscripts for that series.
Thank you so much for reading my blog, and if you’re subscribed to this blog or my newsletter (or both!), know that I really appreciate your support. I am honored and thrilled that you want to continue on this journey with me.
My latest ebook is now available exclusively on Amazon!
(Print copies coming soon)
I’m so excited to have the final book in Valerie’s story go live, and I hope you all love it as much as I do. Though Friak’s Spark focuses on Friak and Valerie’s relationship, Alex and Sherak still have important roles in this book, as it is a story of all four of them finally forming a family, though many obstacles stand in the way of their happily ever after.
Also, I’ll be sending out a newsletter announcing this new release, and I included a 1200 word “interview” of Friak by the New Omni Review that didn’t quite go as the interviewer planned. 😀
If you sign up for my newsletter after I send it out, you can still get that newsletter delivered to you as a thank you email in response to your signing up.
I’m going to try to send out one newsletter a month that will contain some bit of exclusive content like this, as well as occasional announcements about new releases, special offers, or any other important announcements or updates, but I won’t be flooding email boxes with spam, which reminds me, if you’re already signed up for my newsletter, but haven’t been getting them, be sure to check your spam folder for emails from Susan Trombley SFR Author!
Now on to the blurby blurb!
I spent years in a parallel dimension, jumping to serve the whims of a female I’d believed to be my one true mate. Then I learned the truth about her the hard way after failing to complete a mission she’d given me. I discovered that she had only been using me—and turning me into a monster in the process.
After my actions led to my Uncle Gray having to destroy the Nexus dimensional portal, it ended up stranding a human woman named Valerie in our world. When I sought her out to apologize for her circumstances and my unwitting part in them, I was stunned to feel my flame stirring in the ashes left behind by my former spark.
It seemed that I had somehow been given a second chance at love with a new spark. Such a thing was unprecedented for my father’s people, the Histri’i, and could only be a gift of fate. The only problem was that I could not accept that gift. I was unworthy of my new spark after all that I had done for the previous one. Valerie deserved better than me, and the only way I could convince her of that was to make her hate me enough to keep me at a distance.
When fate proved determined and thrust us back together again in a situation we couldn’t escape, I realized that all my efforts to deny my spark were futile. I needed her, more than I needed my next breath, and I couldn’t resist her any longer. I had to claim her as mine—and once I did, I would never let her go.
Even if it meant reconciling with my cousin—who had threatened my life the last time we spoke.
Author’s Note: This book is part of a three-book story with the same heroine. Each book will focus on a different hero who will become one of her mates, while advancing the story and the growth of her “nest.” She will have all three mates by the end of the three books. These books are best read in order, starting with “Sherakeren’s First Date,” then “Alexander’s Nest,” and finally, this book.
I’m very excited and anxious about my latest release, Alexander’s Nest, which is book 3 in my “Children of the Dead Fall” series. I’m having a lot of fun with this series, and I hope you are too! There is one more book to go for our intrepid heroine Valerie after this one, and that book, “Friak’s Spark” will be released on April 11, 2022. You can preorder it now!
It is always a pleasure for me to return to the world of the Dead Fall and all the quirky characters who live there, and I know many of my wonderful fans feel the same. I hope you love the new series and want to see more from it!
I do have several other books currently in the works, and they are at various stages right now, so I couldn’t give any approximate release dates yet, though I would love to. I can say that I am still working on some of my other series this year and I’m very excited about the upcoming books!
Until then, read on below for the description of Alexander’s Nest!
I left New Omni and struck out into the Dead Fall in search of a place where I could feel content, hoping the growing restlessness driving me would finally come to an end once I found my “nest.” I felt so certain that my destiny lay somewhere out in the ruins, now that the path to my father’s homeworld was gone. I was so sure I would find a nest that I could feed and protect as a proper Fayi male should.
But the new nest I found didn’t bring me fulfillment, nor peace. I realized too late that I had already found my home—in the arms of my best friend Valerie, the human woman I had abducted from her own dimension after mistaking her for my brother’s mate.
Only, Valerie had grown tired of my philandering ways and would not risk her heart on a male who couldn’t settle down and commit only to her. She’d put an end to our “friendship with benefits” relationship—and broke my heart in the process. It was my fault she’d rejected me, because I had not offered what she needed most. When I returned to New Omni after realizing that what I needed most was her, I discovered that she had already chosen a mate—my own brother, Sherakeren.
Was it too late to convince her that she was the only woman for me? Even if I could, would my big bro accept me into their nest?
Author’s Note: This book is part of a three-book story with the same heroine. Each book will focus on a different hero who will become one of her mates, while advancing the story and the growth of her “nest.” She will have all three mates by the end of the three books. These books are best read in order, starting with “Sherakeren’s First Date.” This book is the follow up, with “Friak’s Spark” as the third.
It’s here! Vincent’s Resolution is now LIVE on Amazon!
Ready for a blind date with an alien and a return to the Dead Fall with a brand new spin-off series of my “Into the Dead Fall” series, following the next generation of Dead Fall citizens?
This time around, the story takes place in a new series spin-off called Children of the Dead Fall, and book 1 features Vincent, one of Evie’s lovable grub worm squirmies, all grown up and sexy as sin. With a six pack of belly claws and a thirst for blood, he’s setting out to find his forever mate, and a paranormal critter-loving human named Gabby seems like just the kind of woman who will appreciate Vincent’s “special” attributes.
My bestie, Valerie, offered to hook me up with a quirky oddball of a man she met at the gas station where she works. She insisted that he would be perfect for me, because he’s into the paranormal so much that he has modified his appearance to look like a vampire, complete with fangs, pointed ears, and inhuman eyes. She knows I love anything paranormal or supernatural—or just plain weird—and honestly, her description of Vincent certainly had me intrigued.
Though she managed to talk me into taking Vincent to her New Year’s Eve bash as my blind date, I had my reservations, but one of my New Year’s resolutions was to take risks and try new things in an effort to live my life to its fullest, instead of just existing. Starting that resolution early seemed to pay off when I met my date. Vincent turned out to be as gorgeous as she’d described, and his body modifications were certainly as unusual as she’d promised.
Then he took me back to his place, and I discovered that his body wasn’t modified at all. He’s not pretending to be a vampire.
He is one—and an alien one at that!
When it came time to seek my mate, I knew I would end up traveling to another dimension through the Nexus to find her. Wanting the kind of forever-love that my parents enjoyed, I focused on my half-human side and decided to search for a human mate on a world much like the one my own mother, Evie, was abducted from so many years ago.
To my surprise, I was able to hide in plain sight amongst the humans, who believed my Fayi features were a result of artificial body alterations. As long as they never saw me with my shirt off, they wouldn’t guess that I had six deadly, venomous claws the Fayi call “claudas” that extended from my chitinous spine. Unfortunately, being unable to take my shirt off until I knew I could trust a woman not to freak out when she saw my claudas made dating more complicated.
Then the manager of the gas station where I stopped in every day to satisfy my sweet tooth told me all about her best friend—a woman named Gabby who loved the unusual and paranormal. Gabby sounded exactly like the kind of woman who would embrace my inhuman nature—and allow me to embrace her with my claudas. I just hoped she would be prepared to leave her world behind forever and return with me to the Dead Fall to become the most important part of mine.