Jeanne G’Fellers has a new queer historical dark fantasy/magical realism book out: “Striking Balance.” And there’s a giveaway!
An Appalachian Elementals Historical Dark Fantasy Side Tale.
Benjamin Schnell is the possessor of secrets he wishes he could bury beneath the rich Nolichucky river flat dirt he farms alongside his dear friend, Conall. But secrets lead to lies, lead to more secrets, and all eventually come home to roost in a bed of distrust, even on the 1779 Appalachian frontier.
After Ben is injured, he realizes there are odd things happening around him that others cannot see. Corner shadows take human shapes, lightning bugs dance in broad daylight, and the farm’s strange owner, Master Gow, returns with an offer Conall cannot refuse if Ben is to live. But making a deal with Master Gow will take them deep into the mountains to where a haunted king reigns and Fire balances Water in a delicate natural friendship.
Ben must learn self-acceptance and trust if he and Conall are going to survive because there can be no secrets in the mountains, only truth.
Another rich tale from the Appalachian Elementals world focusing on complex families containing rich LGBTQIA+ characters.
Jeanne is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47132/?
Author note: The Cabinet is the all-things-clothing-related locale inside the Hunter kingdom, and an amazing amount happens within its log walls while Ben stays resides there. The following is but one example:
“Why should it bother me?” Sarah has permanently returned from the farm and sometimes rests at the Cabinet on a pallet since I have taken her bedstead. “Lots of us have two or three we’re partial to. Dane’s one of mine, but I’ve certainly made no commitment to her.” She smiles. “Besides, Cooper and Jonie have become partial to me and me, them. That’s where I stay some nights.”
“I thought they were married.” I am well aware of how such matters ebb and flow inside the kingdom, but even so…
“They are,” says Cyrus. “I stitched Jonie’s wedding gown for the ceremony they wished their first had been.” He works the loom while Mercy patches one of Dane’s work shirts. “But they’ve made room in their hearts for Sarah too.”
“Oh. Wait, I thought…” I tilt my head at Mercy who pulls back her thin lips to snarl at me.
“Ain’t all of us that way,” she declares. “They’re friends. And I am back with Mayland since he cut back on the drink.” Mercy stabs her needle into her work, pulling the stitch so hard it puckers the cloth. “Lashes, building six new privies, filling in the old ones then splittin’ six cords of wood. He only drinks ‘cause he hurts so.”
If he didn’t all but swim in the beer and jimmy john each night he wouldn’t have those hurts to begin with. I bite my lip and concentrate on my sewing.
“Careful!” Cyrus corrects Mercy. “’Tis one of Dane’s better shirts.”
“I can teach you a healin’ touch that will help Mayland’s back,” adds Sarah. “But please take care with your needle.”
“Why is one of her favorites torn so?” Mercy works the pucker loose and begins sewing again. “And ‘tis missing a cuff button.” She touches the tear and looks at me in disgust.
Yes, I am to blame. It happened when Dane and I became overly physical in our intimacy one night. Mercy surely senses this, but I will not duck my head for pursuing pleasure in a place where everyone does the same.
“I’ll get you a matched set.” Sarah edges past me to the shelves where she takes down a wooden box she places on the table to search through. I watch her for a moment then return to my work. I am patching one of a stack of smithing aprons, these from the apprentice shop so they are more patch than an actual apron, and to the point of ruin that small burn holes are no longer worth repairing.
“There.” I bite off the thread above my knot and hold the apron out. “It still looks sad.”
“Tell Dane,” Cyrus complains. “She’s a miser about the damnedest things.” He points to a hole near the apron’s top edge. “That one too if you can manage it.”
“I’ll try.” I cut another piece of canvas from the scraps, thread my needle, and begin again, happy there is good light inside the Cabinet this morning.
“So… Ben?” Mercy slows her work to look at me. “How’d you talk Conall into letting you bed with Dane on the moon? What with your being betrothed and—”
“What?” The apron slips from my hand to dangle by the needle and waxed thread. “Who told you this?” Both Cyrus and Sarah stare at Mercy, as expectant of an answer as I am.
“He did night before last when Mayland and me had him in for a cup. Dane said we’re all to do so and— What’s wrong?”
“We are not betrothed.” I gather my work to continue, but I cannot. I am too enraged, too… “We haven’t shared a bed, bowl, or cup since the night I took my pledge.”
“But he said you two had been together for ten years, so I thought you were together again.” Mercy smirks as though she enjoys telling me, but she is also odd with her presentations. I still have difficulty reading Hunters such as Mercy, in interpreting their jumbled expressions. A single glance might mean a myriad of conditions so learning nonverbal cues, Dane calls them tells, is important. Mercy, I believe, is simply repeating Conall’s words, which infuriate me.
“We were, but he called me brother ‘til we reached the kingdom,” I hunch over my work, unable to concentrate so I shove the apron to the floor again. “Why?”
“He’s talked of nothin’ but you this last week, and he asks about you when I bring him dinner each night.” Sarah moves behind me to rub my shoulders, her touch a comfort as always. “None of us wished to speak on it since you’re still explorin’ your place.” She draws me against her. “But Conall still loves you.”
“His words were unforgivable.” I place my hand on hers. “And I like who I am becoming.”
“The Ben we’ve come to know is a spectacular man,” says Cyrus. “Conall hasn’t had his next evening here, but ‘twill be soon enough. Do you wish to be here?”
“Dane will make him, I am sure of it.” Mercy sticks her tongue out at me when I snarl at her. “She’s that way and—”
“‘Tis none of your business.” Sarah reminds her.
“‘Tis everyone’s business when there’s so few of us,” Mercy states with a hiss.
“¡Silencio!” snaps Cyrus. “Mind your tongue while you’re under my employ.” He looks past her to me. “What about Conall?”
“Yes, I… No. He needs to make his way without me before I can consider anything.” I shake off Sarah’s touch, set the apron on the work table, and go to the door. “I need to clear my head.”
Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with their father and reading the books their librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s writing influences include Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.
Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennessee with their spouse and five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.
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