Snippet Saturday: Author’s Choice

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors select thematic excerpts from their work and share them on Saturday mornings. This Saturday’s snippet is “Author’s Choice” and since I love food…we’re going with food. My scene was taken from the latter half of A Spell for Susannah, my first published novel — so beware if you don’t like spoilers! — and features our heroine, Princess Susannah, attempting to converse with the very young Prince Hanson during a formal banquet, who reveals some interesting information about our hero Jon Tom, seated elsewhere.

***

Despite Susannah’s attempts to converse with Sir Hanson, her father monopolized the young man’s attention during the formal banquet. The baronet handled the many glasses and plates with aplomb. He ate a good deal with the tiny banquet spoons and nodded at the King, who sat at the table’s head along with the Queen. The hundred or so other nobles and, she supposed, Jon Tom, were seated at other tables in the room, the roar of conversation muted but lively. Who was Jon Tom seated beside? If it was a noble daughter, she was probably twisted around in her seat for a glimpse of Sir Hanson.

Through the apricot compote and the broiled garlic artichoke hearts, through the almond-crusted halibut and the cucumber peas, through the buttered mussels and the pepper-cheese flowers, an army of servants whisked the miniature plates and bowls onto and off of everyone’s placemat. The King rambled on and on. Susannah finished her puff pastry and wondered why her father had taken such a liking to Sir Hanson. Perhaps he was just doing his part to ensnare an heir.

“Sir Hanson, don’t you like your cheese pastry?” Susannah asked him. “The filling is made from the milk of the Reston cows common to your homeland.”

The baronet gave her a weak smile and gulped down his pastry. The current style for formal banquets was to serve as plentiful a selection as possible, necessitating tiny portions of each in miniature dishes. One was meant to sample everything offered, and if it wasn’t to your taste, at least the spoons didn’t hold much. The crystal thimbles of wines and liqueurs with each course were voluntary, and Susannah drank water during the meal—in a regular-sized glass.

The baronet sat to the King’s left and Calypso to the Queen’s right. Susannah dined between Sir Hanson and Peter and traced a pattern on the damask tablecloth with her spoon. Because she had only Peter to speak to and Peter was in a sulk, Susannah ate more than she normally did. She squirmed in her rigid, formal corset. She wished she could go upstairs, take off her stupid court headdress and brush out her hair.

Her father waved away a second serving of chocolate trifle. The Queen caught Susannah’s gaze and narrowed her eyes, tilting her head slightly to indicate the baronet. Then she engaged her husband in conversation.

Susannah took a deep breath, then another. Perhaps it would make more room inside her corset for all the food. What might Hanson like besides cows? “My father mentioned the superior hunting in the Oldtree Forest, I’m sure. Do you enjoy hunting?”

She pitched the question loud enough for Calypso to hear. Although it wasn’t the thing to converse across the table, her family didn’t stand on absolute ceremony. Besides, her father wasn’t obeying the rules of polite discourse, so why should she? If she could get Calypso chattering about horses and hounds, they’d give their father a run for his coins.

“Not really, Princess Susannah.” The tablecloth rustled near Hanson’s legs, and she realized he was nervously tapping his foot on the ground.

Poor fellow. She widened her eyes at Calypso and inclined her head toward Hortense. Hopefully Hortense wasn’t still so disgusted with Susannah she refused to answer the call of duty. They needed to yank the conversation away from their father, or their mother would lambaste them.

Hortense tinked her spoon against the trifle bowl, as if by accident. Hanson glanced up. “Has our father described our Justice Chambers?” she asked. “He resolves a higher proportion of citizen complaints than any other kingdom.”

The baronet nodded and licked chocolate from his tiny spoon. Little curls had sprung up all over his head and bushed around his circlet, making him look even younger. Across the table, Hortense pursed her lips.

Unaware of the byplay, Hanson quaffed a thimble of hot vanilla liqueur. “Jon said the Justice Chambers were a marvel of efficiency.”

“Mr. Tom?” Susannah nearly crumpled her spoon in her fist. “When did you have the opportunity to speak with him?”

“He took me about this morning. Showed me the lay of the land.” The baronet’s cheeks were flushed, probably from the amount of alcohol he’d consumed over the course of the meal. The thimbles were deceptive, Susannah had learned long ago.

“The lay of the land.” Susannah didn’t know how to take that and ignored Calypso and Hortense across the table, both making “shush” faces. “So Mr. Tom spent the morning with you. He didn’t mention it to me.”

“Why would he? If he’s here to sneak about and investigate you, it seems as how he wouldn’t tell you what he’s up to all day long.”

Places to buy A Spell for Susannah:

All Romance Ebooks
Amazon (paperback)
Amazon (ebook)
Barnes and Noble (paperback)
Barnes and Noble (ebook)
Diesel Ebooks
Fictionwise
Google
Kobo
Powells (ebook)
Powells (paperback)
Samhain Publishing (paperback)
Samhain Publishing (ebook)

Hungry now??

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

****

Other Excerpt Links:

Leah Braemel

Caris Roane

Eliza Gayle

McKenna Jeffries

Taige Crenshaw

Delilah Devlin

Felicity Heaton

HelenKay Dimon

TJ Michaels

Shiloh Walker

Lissa Matthews

Myla Jackson

Shelli Stevens

Mari Carr

Lauren Dane

Snippet Saturday: Family

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors selects thematic excerpts from their work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This Saturday’s snippet is about family, and what says family more than a good labor pains scene? In A Wintertide Spell, the prequel to A Spell for Susannah, the story takes places as Susannah’s mother is about to have her third child. Unfortunately, her husband the King seems to be a bit distracted…

***

Chapter 2

When Geneva arrived, Binny jerked open the chamber door and immediately began scolding. “I told you not to go out in this weather. I told you you’d bought enough gifts. I told you the healer wouldn’t let you go.”

The nurse’s voice faded into a buzz of annoyance as the Queen’s watery gaze fell on her two young daughters, seated on the edge of a divan, their eyes wide with concern. The guards set her carefully on her feet and scurried off to tend to other duties.

“Hello, darlings,” she managed between pants. “Mama is going to have your baby sister tonight.”

“Papa says we’re to have a baby brother. I helped him break the Female Curse last week.” Susannah’s unruly, dark hair did not suit her serious nature. She had, however, already showed signs of one of her happier christening gifts—canniness. “I thought I should warn you, Mama, so you won’t give our brother a girl’s name.”

The Queen sighed. They’d tried to protect Susannah, but their eldest daughter had somehow concluded the Middle Kingdoms were in trouble, however indirectly, because of her. Probably learned it from her father, who loved to lecture his daughters. Five and three year olds couldn’t be expected to realize when their Papa was teasing, sadly mistaken—or straying from the bosom of his family.

“Your Papa,” Geneva told Susannah and Calypso, “tells a lot of fine tales.” Including the one about how he would love his wife, and only his wife, forever.

After Binny rang for the maids, the healers and everyone else she could think of, the Queen allowed the nurse to help her out of her clothing. The princesses clung to her, getting in the way yet welcome just the same. They would be separated from her for most of the birthing process, and she wanted to assure them everything would be all right.

“Are you excited to meet the baby?” she asked as they hovered. “I know I am. What color hair do you think she’ll have?”

Calypso’s hair was as red as her grandfather’s had been. She sniffled and threw herself at her mother. Binny caught her before she could latch onto the Queen’s wet, dirty skirts.

“Mama, Mama! Will you die when the baby comes out?” she wailed.

“Of course not. Women’s bodies are made to have babies.” The Queen finished shedding her skirts and held out her arms. Calypso ran into them for a hug, joined by Susannah. “Healer Naudo will be with me every moment.”

“Will Suze and I have babies?” Calypso asked.

“Only when you are much older. And married.” She kissed the children’s cheeks and smiled tightly as a purple-frocked maid burst through the chamber door. “Go with Evette. Mama needs to rest.”

Reassured, her daughters left with the maid, with the promise they could play “Who Shall Be Queen?” on the thrones in the receiving room.

“I told you not to go shopping,” Binny nagged her again as soon as they were alone. “You don’t have to do everything yourself anymore. You are the Queen. You have servants.”

“I like to do things myself.” She breathed deeply as another pain hit her. This babe was coming fast, and all the stalking she’d done today had doubtless accelerated matters.

Another ill to lay at her husband’s door, should he ever deign to walk through it.

“This is what happens when you do too much.” The nurse bagged the soiled garments and helped Geneva into soft, absorbent pantaloons, pantaloons she wished she’d worn today before haring off on her angry mission. “I hope you weren’t anywhere near a stables when your pains began. The babe will look like a horse.”

“I don’t believe in superstition,” Geneva gritted out.

Places you can buy A Wintertide Spell:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords (where it is temporarily free!!)

***
Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

Treat yourself to a bunch more familial excerpts:

Lauren Dane
Rhian Cahill
Eliza Gayle
Selena Blake
Anne Rainey
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Myla Jackson
Taige Crenshaw
Vivian Arend
Alison Kent
Delilah Devlin
HelenKay Dimon
Shelli Stevens
Shiloh Walker
Leah Braemel
Louisa Edwards
TJ Michaels

New Release: A Wintertide Spell

If the King is fated to love thirteen women before he turns fifty, is he still husband material? One cold, snowy Wintertide Eve, Queen Geneva of Foresta tracks her straying spouse in an attempt to discover where exactly he goes at night. Has he met his next great love already? Will he put her and their three children aside?

As Geneva labors over the solution to her husband’s curse, King Reginald is attempting to discover a solution for a problem of his own–and for the entire Middle Kingdoms.

This 7500 word short story is a stand-alone prequel to A Spell for Susannah.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/A-Wintertide-Spell-ebook/dp/B0068OMOJW/
Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/e/2940013459885
Smashwords (temporarily free!!): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/105613

Snippet Saturday: Homage…To Fairy Tales

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors selects thematic excerpts from their work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This Saturday the theme is homages, and I’m going to talk about the book I wrote that is an homage to “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” — the whole book. Some of you may already know this, but A Spell For Susannah is based on that particular fairy tale. It was my first published novel and my first book with Samhain Publishing. Here’s the blurb:

About the book:

A not ready for Disney fairy tale!

Princess Susannah is the eldest of twelve sisters who discovered a land beneath their palace that definitely has an edge over the Middle Kingdoms: the secret land is chock full of princes who just love to dance. A fairy cursed the Middle Kingdoms nobility to bear no more male children, and the human lands are on the verge of anarchy.

Susannah, alone among mortals, discovers she can work fairy magic, but it’s just another secret she has to keep from her parents. When the King and Queen employ Jon Tom, a very handsome detective, to discover where the princesses sneak and go dancing every night, Susannah finds herself wanting to tell him all her secrets.

The problem is, when Susannah’s secrets go public, the fairies are going to come looking for her, and they won’t be happy.

Warning: this title contains the following: hot sex, hot springs sex, hot-to-trot women and patriarchal hardheadedness.

***

While prologues are not currently in style for a lot of fiction genres, I did choose to give SFS a prologue to establish, with the reader, just which fairy tale they were going to be reading about today and just how I’d created a world so that the paticular fairy tale could exist in it. Because I always wondered… How in the world could a King and Queen (human, one presumes) have 12 natural-born daughters, yet no mention of sons? Maybe the dancing princesses were adopted. Maybe it was some kind of biological anomaly or miracle. Or maybe…

***

The final sovereign of the Middle Kingdoms signed the petition with a flourish and then fanned the ink to dry it before handing it to the footman. The youngest of the thirteen kings, he was a handsome man with dark brown hair and a neat beard.

“Well done!” The Emperor accepted the completed document and unrolled it to its full length, nodding his head in approval. The charmed parchment, when signed by all thirteen human kings and their Emperor and witnessed by three representatives from the Fairy Alliance for Ethics, would bind the fairy Malady from the human lands, in particular from attending any more christenings with her nasty little gifts.

“It was your child upon whom Malady bestowed her final curse, so it is fitting you be the one to summon the Fairy Alliance to hear our judgment.” The Emperor handed the pearl and ruby conch shell to the youngest king.

“Thank you, Your Splendor.” The man raised the device to his lips and blew several short, eerie blasts. Almost immediately, three fairies materialized in the center of the golden throne room. The breeze of their arrival ruffled the heavy crimson hangings along the long walls and set the tiered chandelier tinkling.

“We’ve been expecting your summons,” Pleasentia said, swishing her gauze dress and smiling at the men gathered in the darkened room.

“Hurry and get this over with.” The fairy Budbud snapped her wizened fingers, and in them appeared a large gold seal. “Recite the document, sprinkle on the fairy dust and let us ratify it. We’ve better things to be doing during the blue moon’s night.”

The third fairy held a crumpet dripping with jam. “Is this about Mali?” Gary asked, licking his fingers. “You know, her gifts really don’t—”

“We don’t want to hear any more of your excuses!” thundered the Emperor. “We have the right to bar specific fairies from our midst if we so choose. In fact we have the right to bar all fairies from the human lands, and then where would you get your precious gold?”

“Oh, do shut up, Hubert, and get on with it,” Budbud said. “We all know you aren’t going to ban all the fairies. You want our spells as much as we want your gold.”

The Emperor flushed and cleared his throat. He began to recite the document, which cast the first threads of the spell that would prohibit Malady from entering human lands until the parchment was burned three times with the feather of a red gold phoenix.

“We the people…”

“They always start their documents that way. Why do they do that?” whispered Pleasentia.

“Hush, dear.” Gary patted her hand. “Let them have their fun.”

“We the people, in order to maintain a more solid union, to provide for the common defense of ourselves and our posterity, do hereby declare the fairy Malady banned and barred from the Middle Kingdoms forthwith. She is forbidden from attending the christenings of any human children, be they noble or common, even if those christenings take place outside the Middle Kingdoms, and should she seek to harm, injure or otherwise take revenge upon any human, let her—”

In a blast of light followed by a billow of reeking smoke, the fairy in question exploded into the vaulted throne room, her wiry hair standing on end. She stamped her feet upon the crimson carpet and the walls trembled.

“What charade is this?” she cried. “Banning me, the great Malady, from your puny human lands?”

The Emperor stared at the wicked sprite in dismay, his mouth hanging open, as the other occupants of the room coughed and waved tendrils of smoke from their faces.

“Keep reading, Your Splendor!” insisted the youngest king. “We shall not traffic with her. Let her see how she likes bargaining with the Sun Demons for her precious gold.” But the Emperor let the parchment droop in his grasp.

“Better not make that face, Hubert.” Malady cackled, raised a hand and an icy globule of magic appeared in it. She hurled it at the Emperor, striking him in the head and immobilizing him. “It might freeze that way!”

Budbud harrumphed. “Always butting in where you aren’t invited. You leave these humans be!”

“I will not!” screeched the black-haired fairy. “I curse these humans! I curse them and the horses they rode in on!”

“Can’t we leave the horses out of it?” asked Gary. “What did they ever do to you?”

“Okay, scratch the part about the horses.” Malady sketched some glowing runes in the air before she wiped them out with a quick hand. “But as for these foolish humans, these so-called nobles who reject my gifts, let them be forever cursed!”

Since the other kings were too intimidated to move, the young king beside the Emperor snatched the document from his limp hands. “We the people, yes, yes,” he said, racing through the text.

“Let them never bear another male child—” shrieked Malady.

“If she should seek revenge, blah blah, let her be banished by the representatives of the Fairy Alliance who stand here—” shouted the king.

“Let them bear only female children from this day forward—”

“Banished to east of the sun and west of the moon for a thousand years and a day!”

“Only girl babies for every king, every duke, every single noble in your stupid, pitiful lands!”

“So be it rote!” The young king snatched the philter of fairy dust from a gaping footman and doused the parchment.

“So be it rote,” echoed the twelve kings.

“Mmmfh!” rasped the Emperor.

“So be it rote,” agreed the three fairies, who’d observed the chant-off with great interest. Budbud hopped onto the Emperor’s dais and stamped the document with the golden seal. A ripple of pale light bloomed outward from the paper, dissipating as quickly as it appeared.

Upon the completion of the banishment, Malady doubled over with hateful laughter. Still chortling, she exploded out of the throne room in much the same way she entered, leaving a burned patch on the crimson rug.

With a gasp, the Emperor tore the icy skein from his face. “Surely that curse won’t stick,” he panted. “Will it?”

***

It did. Oh yes, it did.

Places to buy A Spell for Susannah:

All Romance Ebooks
Amazon (paperback)
Amazon (ebook)
Barnes and Noble (paperback)
Barnes and Noble (ebook)
Diesel Ebooks
Fictionwise
Google
Kobo
Powells (ebook)
Powells (paperback)
Samhain Publishing (paperback)
Samhain Publishing (ebook)

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com  * www.meankitty.com

Other Homages (but probably not to fairy tales):

Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
Lacey Savage

Snippet Saturday: Hot Spots

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors selects thematic excerpts from their work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This Saturday the theme is hot spots. I thought I’d share a scene from my first published novel, A Spell for Susannah, where our heroine and hero, through some conniving on the part of her mother, end up at the palace hot springs. That doesn’t stop Susannah from figuring out a way around any plans Jon Tom and her mother might have cooked up between them…

***

She would be charming, but not too charming. She’d soften toward him, laugh more and provoke him less. She’d allow him to think the plan fruitful and report to her mother all was well. And whenever she chose to strike, she’d kick him in the rear, right out the door of the castle. Even if she and her sisters feigned a trip beneath, abraded their slippers on sandpaper, one more failure and he was finished.

It was so simple and so obvious. Why hadn’t she thought of it before?

“Mr. Tom,” she said, keeping a hint of acidity in her tone, “let’s drop the matter of who shall push and who shall pull. I’m weary of the brick wall that is your head, as I’m sure you’ve grown weary of mine.”

“Princess, your head is made of the most enchanting bricks—”

“Please! Drop the flowery talk. We both know it for what it is. No!” She tapped his arm playfully, but hard enough to sting. “Don’t tell me what you want, or what I want. Just tell me what you think will capture the attention of Sir Hanson. We’ve learned enough about his country, his life and his cows. What will interest him as a man?”

“What’s with this about-face?”

Drat, he’d noticed instantly. “I’ll level with you. As you claim to be a student of human nature, you know I can’t help but resent your presence. You regard me with suspicion, you interfere with my daily activities and you patronize me. If I’d barged into your life, wouldn’t those things annoy you?”

“I’ve never appreciated interference and skepticism of my abilities. I see your point.”

“My frustration with you shouldn’t prevent me from taking advantage of something that could help me. You’re right, Mr. Tom. You might not be able to help me impress Sir Hanson, but perhaps you can and I’ll secure the inheritance of our kingdom.”

“Perhaps I can,” he agreed.

“If we crumbled, there’d be no one to protect Foresta’s borders so you could enjoy that fortune you think you’re going to get.” Susannah flipped Jon Tom a cheeky smile and shook her hair out of her face. She’d seen Peter do that to great effect. “You might have to concede your designs upon my dower property, though, unless there’s some other way you think to obtain it.” She directed her gaze toward the hot springs and bathhouse at the edge of the forest and let her smile melt into something more secretive.

Pleased when his grin faltered, she allowed him to take her arm and help her down the smooth granite steps. Her head filled like a balloon with her tiny success. How amusing to suggest naughty things! No wonder Jon Tom always looked as if his life were a party.

Even in spring and summer, a mist rose from the bubbling hot springs, surrounded by ferns and evergreen trees. A stream trickled out of the far end of the irregularly shaped bowl and disappeared into the woods. The water cooled before it reached the lake, but the year-round warmth made for some interesting aquatic life. Transparent salamanders and bright minnows lived in the stream, and birds often came to the springs to bathe. White flowers with fringed petals thrived in the steamy, sulfuric heat, and amidst the ferns thick at the edge of the bowl were tiny purple toadstools, not to mention tiny purple toads.

The small bathhouse was built of the same gray stone as the steps and the contoured seats beneath the surface of the water.

“Tell me,” she mused, “if you were Sir Hanson and I brought you here, what would you be thinking?”

*****

Places to buy A Spell for Susannah, if you feel so inclined:

All Romance Ebooks
Amazon (paperback)
Amazon (ebook)
Barnes and Noble (paperback)
Barnes and Noble (ebook)
Diesel Ebooks
Fictionwise
Google
Kobo
Powells (ebook)
Powells (paperback)
Samhain Publishing (paperback)
Samhain Publishing (ebook)

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com  * www.meankitty.com

Bring on the heat!

Emma Petersen
Leah Braemel
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
Vivian Arend
Delilah Devlin
Eliza Gayle
T.J. Michaels

Snippet Saturday: Unusual Professions

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors selects thematic excerpts from their work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This week the theme is unusual professions, and it doesn’t get more unusual than the wishful guards in A Spell for Susannah. http://www.jodywallace.com/books/spellforsusannah.htm

In the book (which is based on the 12 Dancing Princesses) Susannah, the eldest princess, has to help her mother hire new guards to keep the princesses from sneaking off at night. Many of the applicants boast some unusual accomplishments:

***

The Queen signaled a maid to clear the breakfast remains from the table. Sunlight filtered through the clear glass windows, and the office hummed with authority and power. While the King spent his days settling his subjects’ disputes in the Justice Chambers or traveling to other kingdoms on missions of diplomacy, the Queen ran the kingdom from her office. She functioned as a chatelaine for the entire land. Her room wasn’t positioned behind the throne, but it might as well have been.

“Today we’ll interview guard applicants from outside the castle.” The Queen eyed Susannah as she waited for a footman to place her chair beside her mother’s. “Your father employed a talent scout to find these candidates. I plan to hire as many as I deem necessary.”

“You mean a headhunter?” Susannah’s eyes widened as she settled into her seat. “Mama, royals don’t use headhunters.”

“They do now.” The triumphant grin on her mother’s face unsettled her.

The first man to interview was a bearded giant. “Aye, I’ll see to it the little missies don’t go scampering out of their room at night.” The giant grinned, showing several gaps between his large teeth. He crouched on the ground in front of the table instead of sitting on, and crushing, the chair positioned for the candidates’ use.

“How tall are you, sir?” Susannah asked. Giants rarely came to the Middle Kingdoms, and even crouched upon the rug he was as tall as she or her mother.

“Tall enough to see whatever it is you’re up to.” The giant let out an unmanly titter. He dug his fingers into his wiry beard and scraped his chin with a sound like a carpenter’s sander.

“Where have you worked before?” The Queen scratched down notes with her pen, the feather dancing this way and that.

“I did siege work with the late King Nobbyknees, more siege work with King Torrance and some gate bashing with King Phillip, who hired me right out from under King Torrance’s nose during the siege, he did.”

“Are you an employee who cares most about gold?” the Queen asked. “If, say, my daughters offered you a great deal of money to look the other way, would you take it?”

The giant again scratched his chin. “It would depend on if His Highness offered me more.”

“He’ll do quite well,” Susannah whispered to the Queen. “Considering we have never bribed anyone, his loyalty will never be tested.”

The Queen pursed her lips. “You might not be the right giant for this assignment, but you may talk to the steward to see what other positions are open.”

The giant rose to his full height and nearly crashed into the ceiling. His huge navel, eye level with the seated ladies, looked exactly like a bathtub drain. “Thank ye, Your Highness.” A footman flung open both doors so they were wide enough for him to exit.

The second man was a tiny brownie whose head was level with the top of the table. If brownies weren’t reputed to be so sharp-witted, Susannah would have welcomed the chipper man onto the castle staff. They hadn’t employed a brownie in years.

In a surprisingly deep voice for such a small fellow, the brownie said, “Greetings, Your Highness! Greetings, Princess!” He hopped into the chair and swung his legs. “I’ve come about the job. The princesses can’t possibly pull one over on me.”

The Queen inclined her head. “That’s what we hope. You do realize the punishment for failure is dismissal from castle service with no letter of recommendation?”

“Aye, everyone knows that. The guards hoodwinked by the princesses are talking about forming a union. But I shall not fail.”

“There has been no hood to wink.” Susannah sniffed. “What jobs have you held?”

“I guarded a sheep farm for many a year before setting off to seek my fortune. Besides, I was tired of the smell of sheep.”

This wasn’t going to be as bad as she thought. Susannah whispered to her mother, “If I’m the ringleader and the other girls my flock, you should indeed hire him.”

The Queen sighed. “Guarding sheep isn’t like guarding twelve girls too clever for their pantaloons. If you’d like to visit our steward, he may have other positions open.”

The next to interview was a haughty young man with golden hair. He reminded Susannah of Agravar from the enchanted palace.

“Mr. Finder,” the Queen said. “What skills can you offer for our special project?”

“I always choose the correct door,” the man claimed. “It’s my christening gift. If the princesses evade my watch I’ll always know what door they hide behind.”

Susannah wondered if the man could detect what magical door they hid behind, but the door didn’t exist. She used her powers to create it each time. In fact, she could do it from anywhere in the castle, though it was easiest through Calypso’s armoire. Hers had the fewest clothes in it.

“Where have you worked before?” Susannah asked him.

“I worked with Pete & Benjamin’s Animal Circus in the funhouse,” he admitted, shamefaced. “I helped children find their way out of the mirror maze. But I did a little sideshow work—lady and tiger stuff.”

With a spare quill, Susannah scribbled her mother a message.

Choose him! He will know at all times we’re behind the door of our bedchamber.

The Queen drew an “X” through Susannah’s note. “Mr. Finder, your skill might be better put to use in our Lost and Found department. If you will go into the hall and turn to the left…well, I’m sure you’ll know what door to open.”

As the day progressed, Susannah and her mother interviewed a seamstress with a directional needle, a cook who never burned the broth, a soldier who could talk to fish, a man with seven-league boots and a minstrel whose lute playing would soothe the princesses into deep slumber. They interviewed a centaur, a giant badger and a coachman who was down on his luck and just looking for a job. Susannah grew more light of heart and the Queen more surly.

“Come, Mother,” she said during their teatime break. “I have never known a talking badger before.”

“I’m leaning toward the minstrel. He can sleep all day and play his lute all night.”

“Shall I call him back?” Susannah suspected she could dig up a counterspell to lute-induced slumber in one of the tomes in the castle library’s archives. She could create the door to the enchanted land, see and hear through walls, cast illusions, light candles, defeat truth spells, inspire slumber, make beds and heal aches and pains, and her powers were expanding daily.

She wished she could also read minds, although she doubted that would be on the safe list of ethical uses for magic Hortense and several of her sisters had worked out with her when her powers first surfaced. The Queen shook her head. “The headhunter inventory says we have one more candidate. I’ll interview him and then make my decision.”

Susannah straightened the skirt of her somber brocade overdress and brushed a few crumbs onto the carpet. Her hair tickled her neck and face, escaping from her hasty knot, and she shoved it behind her ears. “What is his name?” she asked her mother.

“Jon Tom.”

“Jon Tom what?”

The Queen frowned. “It just says Jon Tom.”

“But that is two first names and no last. What does he do?”

“It says he is a…detective.”

Clapping her hands, Susannah laughed. “A detective! What does he detect, stolen sheep? Burning broth? Anyone who needed something detected would come to the King’s Lost and Found department.”

The Queen shot her a sour look and rang the silver bell. The tall double doors swung open and Jon Tom the detective walked through. Susannah examined him, as she had the other applicants, for potential threats. He had a swarthy face, dark hair and white teeth, which gleamed brightly in the afternoon sun streaming through the tall, thin windows.

***

I have a bit more of this excerpt posted at my website, if you’re interested. It’s here: http://www.jodywallace.com/snips/susannahexcerpt.htm

For more unusual professions by more authors:

McKenna Jeffries
Vivian Arend
Ashley Ladd
Kelly Maher
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
Shelley Munro
Taige Crenshaw

Snippet Saturday: Holidays

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors selects thematic excerpts from their work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This week the theme is holidays. I’m sharing the first page from the prequel to A Spell for Susannah — imaginatively titled “A Spell for Susannah’s Mother” and set during the Wintertide Festival, the fantasy version of our various winter holidays.

The best part? You can read the whole thing for free at the Samhellion Newsletter website if you want.

****

Blurb: If the King is fated to love thirteen women before he turns fifty, is he still husband material? One cold, wet Wintertide Eve, the Queen labors over the answer to her husband’s curse.

****

The back of the King’s tawny fur coat disappeared around the corner, and the Queen maneuvered herself out from behind the flower seller’s cart before she lost sight of the sneaky bastard who called himself her husband.

The saleslady shot her a knowing look and selected a posy of small purple blooms, a Kingdom Foresta specialty in this cold, wintery season. “Might I interest you in Heartsease?”

“Thank you, no. I’m in a rush.” Normally the Queen would converse with the citizens, but right now she was both angry and incognito. Her lower back ached, and dirty road sludge weighed down her nondescript cloak and gown at the hem.

“I would be in a rush, too, were my babe due any day,” the seller observed. “Luck to you, madam.”

The Queen tugged her hood closer to her face and hurried past, her fury increasing with every cold, miserable plodding step. Wind gusted down the streets of the capitol city as if blown by giants, funneled by the tall buildings on either side. Wintertide was a day away and the Wintereve Feast tonight. By all rights she and her husband should be warm and safe at the castle’s hearth, toasting one another with mulled cider, stringing cranberries and awaiting the birth of their third child.

Due any day, indeed! The Queen was far too pregnant and exhausted to be trailing Reginald as he skulked toward his latest assignation. Her feet had bloated over the tops of her winter boots. False contractions hardened her womb so frequently it stole her breath. Yet here she was, lumbering along as quickly as she could, because there was no one on her staff she could trust with such a delicate mission. Not even the nurse, home with Princesses Susannah and Calypso. Instead of enlisting Nursie’s help, she’d told the older woman she had to purchase last minute Wintertide gifts, and Nursie had threatened to call the court healer to prevent the Queen from going.

But she was the Queen of Foresta, the pregnant Queen of Foresta, the pregnant and cranky Queen of Foresta, and by the Dragon, her will would be done.

Her will would be done by everyone except her sneaking, cheating skunk of a husband.

****

If you like Susannah’s parents, you’ll like Susannah even more:

http://mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/a-spell-for-susannah

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.meankitty.com/

More holidays and festivities can be found at:

Michelle Pillow
Mandy Roth
Anya Bast
Lacey Savage
Jaci Burton
McKenna Jeffries
Moira Rogers
TJ Michaels
Taige Crenshaw
Vivian Arend
Ashley Ladd
Shelli Stevens
Shelley Munro

Snippet Saturday: Prologues!

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors selects thematic excerpts from their work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This Saturday’s snippet is the prologue, and luckily I’ve got one in my first published novel, A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH, which can be purchased here: https://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/a-spell-for-susannah in digital format (paper is also available).

***

Prologue

The final sovereign of the Middle Kingdoms signed the petition with a flourish and then fanned the ink to dry it before handing it to the footman. The youngest of the thirteen kings, he was a handsome man with dark brown hair and a neat beard.

“Well done!” The Emperor accepted the completed document and unrolled it to its full length, nodding his head in approval. The charmed parchment, when signed by all thirteen human kings and their Emperor and witnessed by three representatives from the Fairy Alliance for Ethics, would bind the fairy Malady from the human lands, in particular from attending any more christenings with her nasty little gifts.

“It was your child upon whom Malady bestowed her final curse, so it is fitting you be the one to summon the Fairy Alliance to hear our judgment.” The Emperor handed the pearl and ruby conch shell to the youngest king.

“Thank you, Your Splendor.” The man raised the device to his lips and blew several short, eerie blasts. Almost immediately, three fairies materialized in the center of the golden throne room. The breeze of their arrival ruffled the heavy crimson hangings along the long walls and set the tiered chandelier tinkling.

“We’ve been expecting your summons,” Pleasentia said, swishing her gauze dress and smiling at the men gathered in the darkened room.

“Hurry and get this over with.” The fairy Budbud snapped her wizened fingers, and in them appeared a large gold seal. “Recite the document, sprinkle on the fairy dust and let us ratify it. We’ve better things to be doing during the blue moon’s night.”

The third fairy held a crumpet dripping with jam. “Is this about Mali?” Gary asked, licking his fingers. “You know, her gifts really don’t—”

“We don’t want to hear any more of your excuses!” thundered the Emperor. “We have the right to bar specific fairies from our midst if we so choose. In fact we have the right to bar all fairies from the human lands, and then where would you get your precious gold?”

“Oh, do shut up, Hubert, and get on with it,” Budbud said. “We all know you aren’t going to ban all the fairies. You want our spells as much as we want your gold.”

The Emperor flushed and cleared his throat. He began to recite the document, which cast the first threads of the spell that would prohibit Malady from entering human lands until the parchment was burned three times with the feather of a red gold phoenix.

“We the people…”

“They always start their documents that way. Why do they do that?” whispered Pleasentia.

“Hush, dear.” Gary patted her hand. “Let them have their fun.”

“We the people, in order to maintain a more solid union, to provide for the common defense of ourselves and our posterity, do hereby declare the fairy Malady banned and barred from the Middle Kingdoms forthwith. She is forbidden from attending the christenings of any human children, be they noble or common, even if those christenings take place outside the Middle Kingdoms, and should she seek to harm, injure or otherwise take revenge upon any human, let her—”

In a blast of light followed by a billow of reeking smoke, the fairy in question exploded into the vaulted throne room, her wiry hair standing on end. She stamped her feet upon the crimson carpet and the walls trembled.

“What charade is this?” she cried. “Banning me, the great Malady, from your puny human lands?”

The Emperor stared at the wicked sprite in dismay, his mouth hanging open, as the other occupants of the room coughed and waved tendrils of smoke from their faces.

“Keep reading, Your Splendor!” insisted the youngest king. “We shall not traffic with her. Let her see how she likes bargaining with the Sun Demons for her precious gold.” But the Emperor let the parchment droop in his grasp.

“Better not make that face, Hubert.” Malady cackled, raised a hand and an icy globule of magic appeared in it. She hurled it at the Emperor, striking him in the head and immobilizing him. “It might freeze that way!”

Budbud harrumphed. “Always butting in where you aren’t invited. You leave these humans be!”

“I will not!” screeched the black-haired fairy. “I curse these humans! I curse them and the horses they rode in on!”

“Can’t we leave the horses out of it?” asked Gary. “What did they ever do to you?”

“Okay, scratch the part about the horses.” Malady sketched some glowing runes in the air before she wiped them out with a quick hand. “But as for these foolish humans, these so-called nobles who reject my gifts, let them be forever cursed!”

Since the other kings were too intimidated to move, the young king beside the Emperor snatched the document from his limp hands. “We the people, yes, yes,” he said, racing through the text.

“Let them never bear another male child—” shrieked Malady.

“If she should seek revenge, blah blah, let her be banished by the representatives of the Fairy Alliance who stand here—” shouted the king.

“Let them bear only female children from this day forward—”

“Banished to east of the sun and west of the moon for a thousand years and a day!”

“Only girl babies for every king, every duke, every single noble in your stupid, pitiful lands!”

“So be it rote!” The young king snatched the philter of fairy dust from a gaping footman and doused the parchment.

“So be it rote,” echoed the twelve kings.

“Mmmfh!” rasped the Emperor.

“So be it rote,” agreed the three fairies, who’d observed the chant-off with great interest. Budbud hopped onto the Emperor’s dais and stamped the document with the golden seal. A ripple of pale light bloomed outward from the paper, dissipating as quickly as it appeared.

Upon the completion of the banishment, Malady doubled over with hateful laughter. Still chortling, she exploded out of the throne room in much the same way she entered, leaving a burned patch on the crimson rug.

With a gasp, the Emperor tore the icy skein from his face. “Surely that curse won’t stick,” he panted. “Will it?”

***
Other prologues can be found at:

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.meankitty.com/

I Knew It Was A Great Cover!

I just got an email letting me know that my Christine Clavel cover art for A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH (Samhain Publishing 2008) has been nominated in the Alternate Reality category at AAR’s Cover Contest this year. There’s another Samhain cover in the same category, for the book FIREDRAKE. I feel like most of the covers in my category are really attractive so I’m pleased as punch just to be in the running.

It is a popularity contest, so if you want to vote: http://covercafe.com/contest/2008/coverintro.shtml

You have to vote in at least 3 categories, but it’s fun and easy. Might as well make your vote count!

Sincerely,

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/

Win Tons of Prizes!

Only one from me — a paper copy of A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH in one of my handmade cloth bags — but other authors are giving away tons of goodies and at the end of the week there’s a $150 gift certificate to a bookstore up for grabs. All the fun is at Barbara Vey’s Publisher’s Weekly blog. From Barbara:

“PW Anniversary Blog . Day 1 Join hundred of authors help me celebrate in style…with prizes. http://tinyurl.com/aznaf6

To have a chance at my prize you have to leave a comment today. I had sent Barbara some servers who were going to clean up after but they refused to take their shirts off so perhaps nobody had any use for them. And perhaps they’re being saved until the last day, Saturday, when the party is over!

Either way — there are so many prizes your chances are good of getting something. Comment every day to increase your chances at that $150.

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com