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Bad Spelling: Book Blitz

“Get out,” he barked, crossing his beefy arms over his substantial belly. “Ain’t no way I’m gonna let a Bannister tromp all over my shop. Who knows what you’ll break?”
Not that half the shit in this hovel wasn’t broken already, but still, tears prickled at my eyes. Gritting my teeth against the sting, I managed to stand my ground. This wasn’t the first time I’d been kicked out of a witch shop, and given my history, it wouldn’t be the last.
“Please,” I begged, reaching inside my bag for the wad of cash. Ellie and I had planned on moving in together after college, but here we were two years post-graduation, with no apartment in sight. Unearthing the fistful of bills, I held them in front of me to ward off my ousting. “I can pay.”
His gaze snagged on the money in my hand, and he licked his chops. By the looks of this place, Mr. Jones hadn’t seen a paying customer in longer than I’d been alive. “What? You stub your toe or somethin’? I ain’t wasting my time on no silly girl with a hangnail.”
Don’t back talk the healer, Wren. Don’t do it.

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Woven? Book Blitz

DARKNESS SURROUNDED ME AS I OPENED MY eyes, its emptiness clinging to me like a second skin. A shiver rattled my bones as my feet hit the cold planks of my cottage’s hardwood floor. Smoothing my nightgown straight, I walked to my altar, ready for my next attempt.
It had been two days since my last dream, and all I could remember was that I didn’t want it to end. I tried to force myself back to sleep—back to him. Dark, sparkling eyes from beneath his hood were all I could remember before being ripped awake without warning. Now I was desperate to get back. There was something about him I needed to learn. Something magical calling to my witch’s soul.
My last batch of skullcap, rosemary, and mugwort sat cold in my mortar. This time, an added pinch of passionflower should stop my mental chatter. I needed to focus if I was going to make this work.
Three times before, I’d seen him shimmering in the distance, watching me from afar. The most recent dream I recalled was like a fairy tale. With glistening castles and lush forests surrounding me, it was full of mythical creatures who let me frolic alongside them without a care in the world. I spotted him standing behind a stone outbuilding, staring and monitoring my every move.
The dream before that took place in a desert where I lived a fabulous life as the close friend of an important sheik. There he’d been huddled behind a spice cart in the market, but I could still feel his eyes upon me.
Regardless of my dream’s location, my watcher was always there. Unfortunately, my last dream had been yanked away, leaving me with a complete void. Something had changed, and I was determined to find out what.

Mates?
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Mates?

Most mistakes in life are no big deal, even the big ones. After an apology, restitution, and a little time or training, eventually everything is fine.
But occasionally, a tiny error can land you in hot water.
Or boiling water, in my case.
Three months ago, while trying to apprehend a vampire who was feeding on blitzed people in a hot tub on the rooftop of a residential building, one of my spells misfired. Instead of a freeze spell, I let off a heat flash. . .and everyone in the hot tub boiled like lobsters. Thanks to a few strong potions, everyone survived, and were mostly fine within 48 hours, but the vampire I was trying to arrest, well. He was the son of their Sublime Chancellor.
Yeah, it’s a really stupid name. Magical organizations are kind of famous for those.
But vampires vote as a bloc, and the New York Paranormal Affairs Chief is an elected position. So when his daddy called my boss, Chief Lumos had to do something.
I’ve been on probation ever since, and let me tell you, having to take remedial magic courses really sucks. Usually magic is fun—spell casting, potions, circles, wards, I like most all of it. But getting sent to remedial magic class is like a plumber being sentenced to spend three months unclogging toilets. Boring, embarrassing, and it stinks.
If I’m being honest, the class hasn’t even really fixed my problem. My magic has been erratic and unreliable since I was a baby. These classes may have helped me learn how to mask my failures more effectively, but I’m pretty sure the real reason I was finally cleared is that my instructors got sick of me.
Until I’m cleared, I have to earn my paycheck somehow.
Which is how I got stuck as the NYPAD liaison to initiates from the human world. In general, the sharpest crayons are not assigned to coordinate departments.
“You’re saying that there are cops out there running around who are actual vampires?” The chunky man with ruddy cheeks leans back in his chair, his disbelief palpable.
There’s an art to explaining the supernatural world to people who only know about parodies, like Twilight or Interview with a Vampire. I usually start with vampires, because most humans want to believe they exist. It makes for an easier transition.
But sometimes, like with this guy, it’s better to just rip the Band-Aid off.
“I think I got ahead of myself.” I sigh. “A war has been waged for more than a thousand years.”
“A war has been waged? Isn’t that a little melodramatic?” He looks around the room. “Are you recording the introduction to Star Wars here?”
Do not smack the fat, rude human, Minerva, not when you’re already in trouble. “This is real.” I cross my arms, expecting another interruption.
He, miraculously, stays quiet.
“The akero, embodiment of all that is light and good, and the daimoni, the epitome of all that is dark and evil, have clashed over and over and over. You’d think they’d have realized the futility of it, but they never did. It’s like an epically bad marriage, where the husband and wife are both taking out life insurance policies and making plans.”
Officer Stevens drops the front feet of his chair back to the ground. “Wait, are you actually serious about this?”
I pull out the laminated photos of the akero, who look like the most gorgeous angels you could imagine, and drop them on the plastic card table in front of him. “I’m not a stand-up comedian.”
He splays the cards out and hunches over them, finally stopping to stare at the most predictable card, the image of Raguel, the akero who embodies joy. The priestess who snapped the photo managed to catch a shot where she has her arms raised, her face upturned toward the Northern Lights, her expression rapturous. It’s a moving photo. I’ve seen grown men cry while looking at it.
Not Officer Derpey here, but you know, emotionally intelligent ones.
“You’re saying the angels and demons are here? On Earth?”
“I haven’t explained that part yet.” He’s wrecking the rhythm of this, and that kind of thing matters with stories. “Their most epic battles happened in many different places. They’re so evenly matched that neither side could gain any advantage. It was sort of like two kids leveling each others’ sand castles, over and over and over.”
“Sand castles?”
Mental note: analogies are wasted on Officer Derpey. “Something shattered the delicate balance between light and dark, and neither of them will fess up to what that was.”
“Something?”
“That’s when the angel Gabriel, their leader, directed the akero to flee for the first time. And of course, the daimoni have doggedly pursued them ever since.”

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Whose Blood? Author post

Cambions Blood DIGITAL - Whose Blood? Author post
Haunted by guilt, behind on her rent, and facing professional disgrace, Lily must figure out how to survive in the wreckage of her former life. To make ends meet, she accepts a contract job she never wanted but can’t seem to avoid—hunting another demon murderer. This time, the victims are human, and a shadowy government agency will reward Lily with a way out of her dire financial straits. If Lily doesn’t solve the case before…
CambionsBloodTourBanner 1 - Whose Blood? Author post

Half-succubus attorney Lily Knight has blood on her hands.

The Cambion Series: Writing Resources, Research, and Finding Inspiration in Folklore

Thanks for having me as a guest writer on your blog! You asked me to talk about the resources I use for writing my Cambion series and how I research my stories. You also asked about the myths and legends that inspire my writing, which is one of my favourite topics. Nerd mode, engage!

Writing Resources: Emotions, Saving the Cat, and Finding the Right Words

As far as writing resources, two reference books I use quite a bit are The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi and its companion, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus. I consulted these a lot when writing CAMBION’S BLOOD. They really helped me deepen my character’s internalizations and emotional expressions, which is especially crucial when writing in first person.

A lot of my writing resources are online. For instance, there are a couple of blogs that explain the Save the Cat beat sheet and corresponding manuscript percentage milestones that I visit often while revising. This helps me with pacing and structure, so my plots don’t lag or rush too much. I also use Thesaurus.com constantly when I’m drafting. Surprisingly, it’s not usually for synonyms as much as for when I can’t think of that word that’s on the tip of my tongue.

Research: The Internet Is Full of Things (But Not Everything)

The same is true for research: I do much of it online. When I need specialist knowledge to fill in details, my first instinct is to go directly to Google. This can be risky, because I have a tendency to fall down research rabbit holes for hours, but I at least come out the other side full of weird facts and sometimes they even make it into my books.

Since my urban fantasy series is set in a real place—modern San Francisco, California and surrounding areas—I consult Google Maps and Google Earth a lot. Google Earth is especially amazing for writers, I think. You can get an instant visual feel for an area using it, with a level of detail you never would have had access to even ten or fifteen years ago without visiting a place yourself. It’s one of the best things about living in the Internet age.

I’ll look up pictures of settings too and find home listings that match what I envision for my characters. It’s funny—after my first book came out, a friend told me that she didn’t think my character could afford the apartment I had her living in, but I had specifically researched it to make sure! I knew the street she lived on and everything, even though that never made it onto the page. Lots of details never do!

It’s true, though, that Google Earth can’t match going directly to a place and experiencing it. I live in Sacramento now, which is a couple hours east of San Francisco, but I grew up in Northern California, so I know the setting well—it’s ingrained in some of my earliest memories. But recently I took a weekend trip with my husband just north of the Golden Gate with the express purpose of doing research for Book 3 in my series. I had a lot of fun exploring some spots I wanted to write about and taking pictures for later reference.

The things you can’t get from Google are still important, like the way the air smells and feels, the energy of a place, the character of a neighbourhood, soundscapes, the weather patterns. It’s inspiring to get that local colour and it always adds something. I also love to have the excuse to travel, so I’ll never say no to the opportunity to visit one of my book settings. It’s a good way to convince my spouse that we need to take a vacation, too!

Folkloric Inspirations for the Cambion Series

I love to research folklore, legend, and myth to help me find inspiration for my supernatural plotlines and characters. The idea for my main character came from folklore surrounding incubi, succubi, and cambions. When I set out to write urban fantasy, I didn’t want to write about traditional vampires or shifters, so I turned to this slightly less well-known type of supernatural character.

A cambion in folklore is a half-demon, typically with a demon father and human mother, usually the product of a human liaison with an incubus or succubus. As one character points out in CAMBION’S BLOOD, Merlin was probably the most famous legendary cambion, said to be the child of a mortal woman and an incubus. Merlin’s heritage gave him powers of insight and shapeshifting, along with potential immortality, and my character has some similar abilities, though she’s no wizard.

The term “cambion” originally meant a “changeling,” like a fairy child placed in a stolen human child’s cradle. Later it came to mean a hybrid entity, a child of two worlds, with the connotation of a bad or wild seed. That’s the meaning I adopted for my main character, Lily, while subverting the idea that a cambion is necessarily evil.

According to some stories, cambion children were hard to feed sufficiently and sensitive to touch. Those details inspired some of Lily’s basic conflicts: she craves human life energy which she can absorb through touch. At the same time, touch can be extremely fraught for her, because the quality of the energy she takes affects her. She had a traumatic early life with a human family that ultimately rejected her due to her half-demon nature.

Some other folklore that I use in my books include apocryphal legends about fallen angels who bred with humans, the Nephilim. Lily references these legends and her near-namesake Lilith when she swears by the “mother of monsters,” a phrase she got from her incubus mentor and former lover, Ariel. As a note, Ariel’s name is derived from that of the archangel Uriel or Auriel, but also from the Shakespearian character Ariel, a trickster spirit of the air. (No relation to the Disney mermaid.)

In CAMBION’S BLOOD I also delve more into some Celtic and Irish myths, but I can’t talk too much more about that without spoilers. I hope your readers found this background interesting, and I hope you’ll check out my books so I can explore more interesting myths and local places for the next one!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Fulmer Author Photo - Whose Blood? Author post

Erin Fulmer (she/her) is a public benefits attorney by day, author of urban fantasy and science fiction by night. She lives in sunny Northern California with her husband and two spoiled cats. When she’s not writing or working, she enjoys yoga, taking pictures of the sky, playing board games with friends, and napping like it’s an Olympic sport.

CAMBION’S BLOOD, the second book in her Cambion series and sequel to her debut urban fantasy CAMBION’S LAW, is out June 7 from City Owl Books

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Alive and Right? Book Blitz

Hooking a finger in the bridge of my sunglasses, I pinned him with a cold glare. “Tell me, is it fibbies in general, my gender, or me in particular you don’t like, Preston? Because this is the second time in a matter of days that you have skirted around another agent to tell me to get off a crime scene, and I gotta say, it’s pissing me off.”
A sneer curled his lip as he planted his feet, leaning forward just a touch too close for my comfort. “Maybe I don’t like your kind, Warden,” he growled, cutting through any and all levels of pretense. “Maybe I don’t like trying to clean up arcane fuck shit on my only day off. Maybe I—”
I caught sight of his KPD brethren stopping to stare, and cut him off.
“Shut. Up,” I growled, fighting off the urge to cover his mouth with my hand. The absolute last thing I needed was a cranky beat cop exposing the arcane world to all a fucking sundry. “If you know who I am and even an inkling of what’s good for you, you will keep your fucking mouth shut until I tell you to open it.”
Snatching my cell from my back pocket, I dialed Tobin’s number.
“Yeah, boss?” he answered, the timid waver to his voice gone now that he was alone in the house and couldn’t see my face. Tobin didn’t like direct contact of any kind, but on the phone? In front of a computer? He was an absolute powerhouse.
“I need everything you have on an Officer N. Preston.” I squinted at the shield pinned to his chest. “Badge number 745632. And I need it yesterday, if you please.”
Tobin paused briefly, a faint snicker rattling down the line. Tobin loved it when other people were in trouble. His keyboard clacking like machine gun fire was music to my ears. “On it. Give me five.”
Without so much as a nod to polite phone etiquette, the line disconnected, and I stuffed the cell back in my pocket. I’d have to talk to him about that.
Staring at the prick whose face had turned an unhealthy shade of puce in the short time I was on the phone, I tilted my head to the side and narrowed my eyes.
“Now that’s done, what were you saying about my kind, again? Not that you know what my kind even is or what I’m capable of.” The subtle buzz around the guy had a solid human flavor to it, but I’d been wrong before.

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