All the Alpaca...

Hi! Fancy seeing you here!

This time I wanted to give you a little preview of one of the projects I’m working on. Most of you will be familiar with my #witchyfiction series, and the first two books - Succulents and Spells and Microscopes and Magic follow the adventures of Laurel and Marigold in Wellington.

The third book gets a bit more rural, and while Laurel and Marigold will still make an appearance the attention is on another couple (and maybe some slightly mischievous alpaca). Here’s a snippet from near the beginning:

The next day, after a surprisingly comfortable sleep, comfortably satiated with roast chicken and potatoes and weird coloured long carrots, Mildred got to work. The rugs and soft furniture were put out to air, and the vaccuum she'd borrowed took away the worst of the dust as she ran it over the furniture and surfaces. She'd mop the floors later, but right now the walls were her biggest concern. She'd strip the wallpaper and paint them at some point, but for now she needed to make things liveable, and they were thick with tobacco, pink and cream shapes showing where pictures or ceremonial plates had once hung.

Before she could do witchcraft, she needed an altar. She scrubbed down a set of drawers that had a good vibe to them, and placed a woven purple cloth on top, along with some crystals, and a locket that had been her great grandmother’s. She searched the herb garden outside and found the overgrown remnants of a small herb garden; parsley, mint and rosemary surviving despite all the odds. Not her first choices of herbs, but anything fresh would help. She took some small cuttings inside - making a note to nurture the herb garden when she got chance - and laid them on the altar. She closed her eyes and acknowledged the land she stood on, the sky above, the sun and the stars, she thanked them and wished all her actions would cause no harm.

And then she began.

She raised her hand in the air, feeling for something to tug on to with her mind. After a couple of false starts she found it and started to pull the smoke from the walls, spinning to swirl it around her until it surrounded her in clouds. She picked up a simple drop spindle and began to spin it tighter and tighter, a vague smoke becoming darker and more solid the closer it was to her, until she could wind it like thread on the spindle, tighter and tighter. She pulled the smoke from every room in the house, even from the furthest corners, and tightened it, solidified it until it was a small tight ball on the spindle that almost fit within her hands. It shook and wobbled just a little, but mostly stayed together.

She found an old jar in the cupboards and pushed it into that, fitting the lid securely. She'd be able to dispose of it in an environmentally sound way, but she'd need a little help for that spell. For now, it was fine in the jar.

She sat on a wooden chair, exhausted. The house looked much better - the walls weren't in great condition, the paint cracked in places and its cream colour a bit uneven, but the house felt much lighter. And she felt better - or would once she'd built up her energy again - to not be living in a place so heavy in toxins. 

Look out for Alpaca and Apparitions in the coming months. And if you’re still to start the series, you can pick up Succulents and Spells on Kindle now.

I’m delighted to be part of two promotions right now! The first is a “carefully curated collection of pro-queer, disability-positive, multicultural, neurodiverse science fiction, fantasy, and horror” with all books just a few dollars, pounds or euros. The second is a fantasy giveaway which comes with the chance to win a loaded Kindle Paperwhite. Please do check them out if you get a moment, and maybe grab yourself some reading.

I’ve been reading…

…not quite as much as usual. Honestly I burned myself out a little trying to make sure I read enough for award nominations. I like to read in the sun wherever I can and there hasn’t been enough of it lately.

That said, two very different recommendations this time. P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout is unnerving, brutal, and yet filled with love - it’s really very very good. At the other end of the spectrum, one of my Witchy Fiction colleagues Anna Kirtlan released her novella Raven’s Haven for Women of Magic and it’s ridiculous and funny and overflowing with cats.

A quick reminder…

…that I’m speaking at Flights of Foundry on Imagining Accessible Worlds. The convention is free and there’s still time to sign up - I’d love to see you there!