stories in and

Flooded Secrets

Flooded Secrets by Claudie Arseneault

Fate and friendship brought Horace, Rumi, and Aliyah together in Rumi’s Wandering Wagon of Wonderful Wares, a sentient self-propelling wagon. They seek the forest haunting Aliyah’s dream, hoping for answers about their past and their unique abilities—but for that, they need to traverse a world haunted by Fragments, dangerous shards that can possess travellers. With the Fragments in the wilderness, banditry was the last danger Horace had expected on the road—but not even that could stop Keza Nesmit. Swift and deadly with a staff, Keza drops on the Wagon crew, claiming most of their provisions before vanishing back into the Tesrima Ridge. As if to compound their bad luck, the tunnel that serves as the only pass through the mountain is flooded and impassable. Keza reappears, and she’s willing to show them the source of the flooding, a waterway blocked by Fragments, in the hopes that they can unblock it—and just like with the stolen food, she won’t answer any questions about her motives, no matter how friendly. Abrasive, confident, and eager to bicker, Keza makes for a thorny companion, but they’ll need to work together to free the pass and continue their travel. As they unravel the Fragments’ blockage, so, too, do they chip away at Keza’s walls. But the cost of breaking both is far higher than anticipated, and Horace is about to learn that some secrets are better left untouched.


Samson & Domingo

Samson & Domingo by Gume Laurel III

Samson and Domingo fall in love during the summer before their junior year of high school. But Samson is the star player of Weslaco North’s football team and Domingo is a French horn player for Weslaco South’s marching band. Once school starts, their new love is challenged by those who don’t agree with their rival schools mixing, especially Domingo’s older brother, Pablo, a football player for South. As if that wasn’t enough, Samson’s Olympian-like athleticism is shrouded in mystery; the source of his strength is a secret he has vowed to keep his entire life. As Samson and Domingo’s love blossoms, Samson learns to trust Domingo more than he has ever trusted anyone before, and Domingo opens his heart once again after heartbreak. But will their love be Samson’s downfall?


The Fine Line Between Us

The Fine Line Between Us by Ruth Miranda

Jayal Hasen has never had a one night stand, or taken someone home for sex - he's just not that kind of man. Not with his past. But when his best friend introduces him to internationally acclaimed model Lu HaoRan, the attraction is immediate. The chemistry between them is such that, contrary to his character and all the fears he still can't shake, the two end up in bed. And though it was supposed to be just a one-night-stand, Jayal finds himself entertaining unexpected thoughts of something else... Lu HaoRan isn't looking for a relationship - he doesn't believe that's in the stars for him. Not with his life. But after spending the night with Jayal Hasen, he can think of nothing else, the memory of what took place becoming the buyoy he turns to when under stress. After weeks of trying to fight his growing obsession with a man he hardly knows and has never seen again, he's ready to throw caution to the wind and do all he can to meet Jayal again. Still, a fine line stands between them, one that's made of everything they hide from one another, secrets that threaten to break them apart, even before they come together. With neither finding the courage to cross that line, they risk losing each other without ever meeting again. Who will take the first step?


The Chasm

The Chasm by Branwen OShea

After Bleu, Rana, and their new friends narrowly prevent war between the star beings and humans, they hope the upcoming negotiation will secure the peace. Newly emerged from their subterranean haven, the Northern Haven humans are clearly not suited to Earth's ice age, and require assistance from the enlightened star beings to survive long term on the Surface. But Commander Savas doesn't trust the suspiciously kind star beings and their unexplainable abilities. When both sides reluctantly negotiate a joint mission to find the other Havens, Bleu must somehow cooperate with the manipulative commander to keep his friends safe. As their team confronts unexpected dangers, Bleu and his teammates begin to suspect the star beings don't know as much about the Surface as they claimed, while Rana is torn between remaining true to her nonviolent ways or becoming more human to survive. When an unnatural predator attacks, even the nearly all-knowing Kalakanya can't explain it. Now the team must pull together or their new discovery will pull them apart, limb by limb.


A Peddler Of Chains

A Peddler Of Chains by Allegra Pescatore

Asherah of Vine died five times in bloody service to her Queen, but now her Queen is dead. The cycle of reincarnation has ended, and Ash is ready to set her trusty bow aside and live out the rest her days in peace. All she wants is to live a quiet existence on the Rim, but her past, it seems, is intent on catching up with her. She's tried to outrun him, but he's not a man to be trifled with. Willow of Herb has been hunting the butcher Asherah for over two hundred years. She slaughtered his parents and his people, and he intends to bring her to justice. It is because of her that he was turned into a weapon of war, and it is her face that haunts his darkest nightmares. When he finally catches her scent nothing can stop him, but what happens when he captures his greatest enemy and finds out that not everything is what it seems? As they travel through the icy Lands of Nadir chased by a rival band of bounty hunters, Willow and Asherah must face their pasts and learn to work together if they wish to survive. Trust between enemies isn't easy to build, but as they fight Feral Fae, face down snowstorms, and run from Retribution, Will and Ash find that maybe they're stronger as allies than as enemies.


The Necessity of Rain

The Necessity of Rain by Sarah Chorn

It begins with a butterfly in chains. Since the dawn of time, life has been comfortable and predictable. The gods have wrested pockets of Creation from Chaos, formed civilizations, and built entire realities. Now, the nature of Creation is changing and the Divine are losing their divinity. Rosemary, daughter of the God of Creation, can no longer deny this when a strange delegation from Dawnland braves the paths through Chaos and survives. Come to negotiate trade and protection agreements with the Divine of Meadowsweet, it is the butterfly woman who so captivates Rosemary. The weight of her sorrow, the heaviness of her secrets. For the soul is a battleground. Clouds are massing along the horizon, and Rosemary... She must survive the storm.


Your Blood and Bones

Your Blood and Bones by J. Patricia Anderson

SFINCS

Kill the monsters when they’re found. No matter who they used to be. The girl with secret feathers in her skin and strange bones jutting out beneath her clothes is resigned to her fate. Her deformities mark her a monster and the stories say monsters must die. When her family finds out and turns on her, a village boy saves her and leads her on a frantic escape. The girl believes her death has merely been delayed—until he mentions a cure. With the world against them and the monstrous change progressing, they must cross water, forest, and field to chase the rumor that fuels their desperate hope. But is hope enough to keep them going?


The Recovering Materialist

The Recovering Materialist by Tuomas Mäkinen

“How much are you willing to sacrifice for your dreams?” At 25, Tuomas comes up with his answer: everything. Stuffing his life into a single orange suitcase, he moves across the globe to a Hindu monastery deep in the redwood forests of Northern California. He expects to finally find the tranquility, truth, and harmony he has always yearned for, but instead comes face-to-face with his darkest shadows. As it turns out, ashrams are a lot less “Kumbaya” and a lot more like rehab centers. The greatest battle of Tuomas’ life begins, and there’s no knowing whether he will land on his feet or his ass. “The Recovering Materialist” offers a candid, raw, and at times sidesplitting portrait of the hardships and victories of a life dedicated to spiritual enlightenment. In lean and inventive prose, Mäkinen takes the reader on a rollercoaster from his alienated years of hardcore punk and societal underperformance, through his relationship dysfunctions and family drama, to crying alone in a dark yurt and barely averting a fist fight with a fellow monastic, all the way to tentative contentment through building a temple. There is no middle ground in this memoir. The story is in constant movement between the depths of darkest despair and the heights of spiritual ecstasy. Get ready!


The Girl Who Steals Christmas

The Girl Who Steals Christmas by C.G. Drews

A prequel short story about the De Lainey family from The Boy Who Steals Houses. It's set a week before Moxie meets Sam. Available for free on author's blog. Last year Christmas didn’t happen because their mother had just died... It's a hot miserable December and the De Lainey family are actively ignoring the festive season, but when Moxie finds her little sister's screwed up letter to Santa in the bin, she decides to bully Christmas to life. Includes various sibling dramas, a too-small tent, and confusion between Santa and a potato.


FEVER

FEVER by Shilo Niziolek

A memoir made up of essay fragments, Fever, examines what it is to desire throughout all phases and states of life and being. Niziolek mixes plain language with poetic prose to interrogate trauma from domestic violence and illness, sexuality, and the different ways we can and do love despite these things. All of this comes together to create a keen focus on the many ways one can experience desire and its intersection with love.


I Think of You Often: a small town paranormal romance

I Think of You Often: a small town paranormal romance by Sienna Eggler

A witchy "why choose" nb/nb/f romance. Evan is the reclusive librarian of Honeycutt Academy, and a source of curiosity among students and staff, most notably the bubbly potions teacher. With her by their side, Evan is willing to give love another shot and move on from a devastating breakup. That's complicated by the arrival of Evan’s half-sister, who reopens old wounds for them—painful childhood memories of the father they share. A reluctant Evan is pulled into a plot to slay the vampire, but neither are suited for the task. But they know the perfect person for the job—a wolf shifter, part-time monster hunter—and an old flame, who may threaten their newfound relationship. Also includes intimate (and mutual) blood drinking and a patricide subplot.


Petition

Petition by Delilah Waan

SPFBO9

A 2023 SELF-PUBLISHED FANTASY BLOG-OFF (SPFBO9) SEMI-FINALIST! In the Dominion of Aleznuaweite, anyone can rise to the greatest heights—if they are willing to pay the price. Failure is a luxury Rahelu can’t afford. Her family sold everything, left their ancestral home, and became destitute foreigners for the sake of her resonance skills. Now she can manipulate emotional echoes to discern truth from lies, conjure the past, and even foretell the future. But an act of petty revenge by her rival destroys her chance at joining one of the great Houses. Desperate to prove her family’s sacrifices were not in vain, Rahelu calls upon the most dangerous magic of all—altering fortune. A slight twist of fate is enough to restore her way forward…with deadly consequences she never bargained for. The Houses make a pawn of her in their bitter struggle for control of the Dominion. A shadowy cult grows ever closer to completing an ancient ritual. And Rahelu discovers that fulfilling her oath to her family might come at the cost of her mother’s life.


City of Strife

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault

Kraken Collective

Isandor, City of Spires. A hundred and thirty years have passed since Arathiel last set foot in his home city. Isandor hasn’t changed—bickering merchant families still vie for power through eccentric shows of wealth—but he has. His family is long dead, a magical trap has dulled his senses, and he returns seeking a sense of belonging now long lost. Arathiel hides in the Lower City, piecing together a new life among in a shelter dedicated to the homeless and the poor, befriending an uncommon trio: the Shelter’s rageful owner, Larryn, his dark elven friend Hasryan, and Cal the cheese-loving halfling. When Hasryan is accused of Isandor’s most infamous assassination of the last decade, what little peace Arathiel has managed to find for himself is shattered. Hasryan is innocent… he thinks. In order to save him, Arathiel may have to shatter the shreds of home he’d managed to build for himself. Arathiel could appeal to the Dathirii—a noble elven family who knew him before he disappeared—but he would have to stop hiding, and they have battles of their own to fight. The idealistic Lord Dathirii is waging a battle of honour and justice against the cruel Myrian Empire, objecting to their slavery, their magics, and inhumane treatment of their apprentices. One he could win, if only he could convince Isandor’s rulers to stop courting Myrian’s favours for profit. In the ripples that follow Diel’s opposition, friendships shatter and alliances crumble. Arathiel, the Dathirii, and everyone in Isandor fights to preserve their homes, even if the struggle changes them irrevocably.


Ope'

Ope' by Yulu Ewis

"In 'Ope (More), Yulu Ewis opens the world of oral tradition-the same, timeless, pre-Columbian world of our Indigenous ancestors that is still present, but unseen by most-to all of her readers. Grounded in the language and world views of her Miwok and Pomo ancestors, Ewis definitely gives us 'more' as it grapples with cultural perseverance, along with the 'sovereignty' and 'civil rights' the US has 'given' to her people in the aftermath of its genocidal and assimilative tactics that attempted to destroy them." Dr. Kimberly G. Wieser, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma, author of Texas...to Get Horses and Back to the Blanket


Elevated Inferno

Elevated Inferno by Carlotta Ardell

Monet Parker wasn't a sucker for a man in uniform. Even if he was a firefighter with dimples deep enough to swim in and ebony skin painted by the gods. She was just trying to get her dream internship and prepare herself for a career in social robotics. She had no idea how her life would change with the simple push of a button. When the elevator taking her to her interview at Real World Robotics stops, Monet isn't sure if she will live, let alone make her interview. She's rescued by Rhys Banks: the gorgeous hunk of a fireman. As much as their magnetism is palpable, Monet is trying to ignore her feelings. Focusing on her career and navigating her chaotic family drama is more than enough excitement for her. Still, it's hard to ignore #FiremanBae when her sister is hosting an Instagram Live video of the rescue and getting the whole internet buzzing. What happens when the internet becomes a third wheel in Monet's love life? What happens when past hurts, career goals, and family baggage are in conflict with their desires? Will these distractions win out and quash the elevated inferno? Can Monet have it all, including love?


Lost in a Quatrain

Lost in a Quatrain by Adiela Akoo

First Poetry Runner-Up in the SAIP Awards 2021, Lost in a Quatrain by Adiela Akoo is a very relatable, inspiring and thought-provoking read on a journey to becoming, a journey of hope and healing. Written over an 18-year period, Lost in a Quatrain is a select collection of deep, must-read, soul-stirring poetry with each poem telling a story that pieces together the puzzle of this crazy, not always romantic, experience we call life. Ask your local bookstore/library to order your copy by stating ISBN: 978 0 620 803663 3


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