CS Cover 2Hey, look, the first Lady Ruth book is now available on Instafreebie!

The series isn’t out yet, but it’s coming soon. As you may already know, I’m going to release all three books at once, as soon as the final book is done with editing.

But for now, the first book is already done, and it’ll be free when the trilogy releases, so I figured that I might as well share it with you all now.

For those of you who don’t know, Lady Ruth is about an autistic, ace/aro inventor in steampunk Victorian London who builds herself a robot husband to escape the threat of marriage.

Because robots.

So follow this link to get it and start reading!

Full blurb:

Lady Ruth Constance Chapelstone never cared much for boys. She was too fixated on fashion or engines to give them much notice. An “inventor’s disposition” is how her uncle referred to it when she would forget basic necessities, like food or sleep. But proper ladies don’t spend their days reinventing the steam engine, so Lady Ruth’s uncle helped her to create a persona – The Owl: Britain’s greatest inventor. The Owl is sought after, but so is Lady Ruth, and making sure that she remains free to pursue her inventions may take every ounce of her cunning.

WITCH is now officially up and available to buy! Get it now!

Or, if you’d rather, here’s another quick look at what you’ll get.

This scene doesn’t introduce a new character, like the last one did, but it does signal the return of Lady Caroline.

Lady Caroline is an odd one. She was originally just a throw-away character that I added to the third book because there wasn’t enough going on towards the end. And now she’s an integral part of the Snowverse. It’s weird how some characters just seem to grow, completely independent from your plans.

Anyway, here’s the scene:

Freya didn’t quite manage the shift home in her weakened state, only managing to get back to the roof of the cafe. She sighed, lying down with her backpack beneath her head, deciding to just stay there until she recovered enough Energy to shift home. After a few moments, she reached into the side pocket of the backpack, taking out a healing potion. She didn’t know that it would help, given that she wasn’t physically injured, but she figured it couldn’t hurt.

The healing potion gave her a pleasant buzz, and the pain seemed to dull a little, but it wasn’t anything close to a real help.After another few minutes, she brought out her phone, deciding that she needed to know about the curse, just in case the Demons tried to use it again. She couldn’t rely on Sarah saving her again. Especially when her Coven Head seemed to want her Witches to have nothing to do with Freya.

After another few minutes, she brought out her phone, deciding that she needed to know about the curse, just in case the Demons tried to use it again. She couldn’t rely on Sarah saving her again. Especially when her Coven Head seemed to want her Witches to have nothing to do with Freya.She rang the contact number for Fate. If Fate didn’t pick up, it was one of her Oracles, but

She rang the contact number for Fate. If Fate didn’t pick up, it was one of her Oracles, but usually Freya got to speak to someone in charge.After two rings, Anna answered the phone.

After two rings, Anna answered the phone.

So, the curse?” Anna asked.

Freya smiled. She liked how to the point the Oracles were. “Do you know anything about it?”

No, but Lady Caroline does.

Freya sighed. “I don’t really want to get involved with Demons in an official capacity.”

Do you want to know about the curse or not?

Freya sighed as she thought, taking a few moments before answering. “Alright, fine, tell me where to go.”

I’ll text the address to your phone. She’ll be expecting you.

Freya rolled her eyes. “I’m kind of out of commission right now.”

Get some sugar in you and you’ll be fine.

“Fine. See you.” She hung up before putting her phone back in her pocket.

She tried to sit back up at that point, wincing at the pain. She decided to shrink the bag back down and put it back on her belt, rather than trying to get it on her back. She shifted back down to the street below, though she found herself unable to glamour her armour. It was black and red, so it wasn’t too outlandishly obvious. It looked kind of… rave-y?

She didn’t care, she decided as she wandered into Tesco. No one was going to look twice at her. They would assume it was cosplay or performance art or something.

She quickly grabbed a bottle of Irn Bru and a bag of custard doughnuts. Then she grabbed a snack-size pork pie for good measure.

As soon as she was out of the shop, she ate the pie in two bites before washing it down with half of the bottle of Irn Bru. Anna had been right; it did make her feel better.

She opened her bag of doughnuts as she walked towards the address Anna had texted to her, taking one out to eat before putting the rest of them into her backpack.

She, by some miracle, managed to avoid getting custard all over herself as she ate the doughnut, walking all of the way to the address by the time she had finished, without having to shift.

She wiped her sugar-coated hands on her leather trousers before wiping her mouth on the back of her hand, using her phone’s selfie camera to check that she looked okay. Once she was sure that she was presentable, she walked into the building, seeing a woman at the front desk, despite the late hour.

“I’m looking for the R.C.E. office,” she said, giving the name that had been on Anna’s text.

The woman nodded, indicating to the lift. “They’re on Level Five.”

“Thanks,” Freya said before heading into the lift and hitting five. Within a few seconds, she was outside an office with a sign that said R.C.E. North-East. The door was, surprisingly, open, revealing a bunch of desks beyond, with no obvious receptionist. There were lots of different scraps of paper stuck to the walls, some tied together with string. If she squinted, Freya could see that the subjects of the photos sometimes had wings or fangs.

She knocked on the door, though the office seemed empty. “Hey,” she called. “Fate sent me.”

A door opened across the room, revealing Lady Caroline. She was wearing the same black military jacket that Freya had seen her in last time, but this time Freya recognised that the silver birds on the collar must be the symbol of her house.

“Hey, my office is over here,” the Demon said.

Freya nodded, heading over to her. Once she was in the office, Lady Caroline didn’t bother to shut the door behind her.

The office looked sparse, but the bin was filled with various Subway, KFC and sushi wrappers and boxes.

Lady Caroline looked her over, seemingly curious. “You know, when we met in London, I didn’t realise you were the Angel of the North.”

Freya shrugged. “I don’t really like telling people.”

“I kind of assumed the Angel would be Light,” she said as she made her way to the chair behind her desk. She indicated for Freya to take a seat on the sofa in the corner.

“I’m not Light or Dark. I don’t really want to get caught up in politics.”

Lady Caroline nodded. “Smart. But that’s not why you’re here. Fate said you needed information on a curse.”

“Yeah. A Demon cursed me this evening. Apparently the curse latched onto my Demon blood. Fate told me you might have some information.”

“May I?” Lady Caroline asked as she stood up, indicating to Freya.

Freya assumed she meant using some kind of sensing magic on her, so she nodded.

Lady Caroline closed her eyes for a moment, before opening them again and nodding gravely.

Freya had felt nothing.

“I recognise the curse,” Lady Caroline informed her. “It’s essentially used for law enforcement. If a Demon is sent to capture another Demon, they wear a charm that activates the curse if they are seriously hurt, incapacitating their attacker.”

“How did rogue Demons get such a charm?”

Lady Caroline sighed, sitting down before leaning back in her chair. “What do you know about these rogue Demons?”

Freya shrugged. “They attack me for various reasons. Usually to gain power. I know that their actions aren’t sanctioned by the Demon higher-ups, and you guys have better things to do than look after me. I’m not your responsibility.”

“Anyone who has Demon blood is our responsibility,” Lady Caroline corrected. “And they’re not just targeting you because you have the biggest target on your back. What do you know about Lord Uther?”

“Didn’t we first meet after I killed a couple of his men?”

She smirked. “Indeed. Lord Uther has quite the propensity for stirring up trouble. Unofficially, of course. None of his men wear his symbol, and they all swear that they left his service and went rogue whenever we have captured them. But all of the rogue Demons we’re aware of came from his service.”

“But you can’t do anything to stop him?”

“No. We only have circumstantial evidence, and he is the most powerful Demon after the King. Accusing him wouldn’t end well right now.”

“Do you know why he’s after me?”

She shrugged. “Best guess? The King has no heir, so he’s training Lord Uther’s son as a replacement. If you were to claim your place as a Dark Angel, however… Well, the precedent is ancient but it’s there. You could claim the place as heir for yourself.”

Freya snorted. “That’s… Hah! Does he seriously think I would want that? Honestly?”

Lady Caroline smiled. “It’s not about what he thinks you will do, the very fact that you could do it is enough for him to be pestering you with his men. Trying to get an estimation of your powers, perhaps. Or maybe he’s trying to get you so annoyed with Demons that you turn your back on your Demonic heritage. Whatever his endgame, I’m sure it’s because you’re a threat to his son’s position.”

“Yeah, well, his little posh-boy, boarding school, pig-fucker of a son can keep his precious position. I am not interested.”

“I doubt he would take your assurance on the matter. But I am going to get a counter-charm for myself. Some of his men are being a little too loose with their magic around Humans, and I need to be able to reign them in. I can get you one as well if you’d like.”

Freya narrowed her eyes. “Wouldn’t you have to tell your higher ups who you’re getting it for? I don’t know that I’m comfortable with the Demon King knowing what I’m up to. Or having any ties to me, really. Kind of defeats the whole ‘neither Light nor Dark’ thing I have going on.”

Caroline nodded. “I’ll keep it vague,” she assured. “I’ll say that it’s for one of my other team members. There shouldn’t be any questions beyond that.”

“And if there are?”

Caroline smirked. “Look, the King’s a friend. If I ask him not to ask, he won’t. Happy?”

Freya nodded, though it was a little reluctant. “Why are you helping me?”

“Why wouldn’t I? You’re an Angel and we have a common enemy. In truth, I have begun to suspect that you are only one of the directives Uther has been giving the rogues. After all, the ones in London didn’t seem to know you were there until you stepped in. They seem to be doing their best to reveal magic, without it looking like they were trying to reveal magic. Half of my job is now just cleaning up after them. Having you stop them before they do anything is one of the only reasons they haven’t succeeded yet. Anything that keeps you splitting their attention is good in my book.”

“I don’t want to get dragged into a Demonic conflict.”

“You’re already in it, Freya. And can you honestly tell me that you would stay out of it if the conflict spilt over to the Human world?”

Freya sighed, knowing that she was right.

“Anyway,” Caroline said as she got up, “I had better get going if I want to put in the request for the counter-charms tonight. Write your number down on my notepad and I’ll ring you when I get back.”

With that, she shifted out, leaving Freya alone in her office.

Freya wrote her number on the pad before shifting out herself, going straight home.

Get the book now!

Or start reading at Book One for free.

So, this week’s been… something, hasn’t it?

I think I’ve got emotional whiplash. I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday…

Anyway, the fifth Freya Snow book comes out in less than a week, and I felt weird posting anything about WITCH, given today’s online climate, but it’s out on Monday and there’s the Alice short to come out as well a couple of other excerpts.

And as I was reminded today, maybe now is exactly the time to be sharing stories about disabled, LGBTQ+ and POC women figuring out their places in the world and kicking ass together.

As always, if you haven’t read the series yet, you can get a DRM-free ebook copy of the first book for free from Instafreebie.

So, anyway, here’s a scene from the end of chapter two, featuring Sarah, the new character you may have spotted on the cover of this book.


 

By the time seven o’clock rolled around and they closed up for the day, Freya was about ready to drop off where she stood. She thought that hunting rogue Demons had physically prepared her for anything, but she couldn’t have been more wrong.

Usually her hunts only lasted a few hours. She still had to sleep, after all. Apart from a couple of short breaks, she had been on her feet all day. In fact, she couldn’t actually feel her feet anymore.

“You look a little droopy,” Sarah signed with a smile as Freya leaned against the wall by the now-closed door.

“I feel a little droopy.”

Sarah grinned. “On the plus-side, you just made almost sixty pounds.”

Freya did perk up a little at that, despite the number being paltry compared to her bounties.

“Though, working all day like this won’t be the norm forever. Riley doesn’t like working out front, but she does it Monday to Wednesday. Then I’ll work Thursday, you work Friday, and we’ll both work over the weekends to deal with the rush. At least, until we can convince Riley to get a third person in to help us.”

“How did you two manage it on your own?”

“We didn’t. There was another girl who used to work here, but she’s in her last year of uni, so she left back in October to focus on her academic work. I’ve been trying to get Riley to replace her ever since. Riley’s niece also stepped in on occasion, but she’s still in school so her mum doesn’t like her working.”

Freya nodded. “I think I can handle three days a week during the holidays.”

“Come on, let’s get you home before you pass out,” Sarah said, then offered her hand.

Freya smiled, pushing herself off from the wall, but not taking Sarah’s hand.

“You’re lucky that it was quiet enough before close to clean up. That’s not always the case, and then we have to stay late.”

“Then I am indeed lucky,” Freya agreed. She wasn’t sure how much more standing she could have taken. Not when she still had a Demon to catch.

“Here,” Sarah said once they were in the back room, before picking up Freya’s backpack for her. She faltered a little with the heavy bag. “What do you have in there?” she asked once she had passed the bag back to Freya.
Freya shrugged once the bag was on her back.

Usually she said LARPing gear, just in case anyone saw the armour and weapons, but she had no idea what the sign for that would be and she was too tired for finger-spelling, so she settled for “Books.”

Sarah narrowed her eyes a little, seemingly not quite believing her, but she didn’t otherwise comment.

“I’m returning them to the library now that I’m done with my assignments.”

“Okay.” She still didn’t seem convinced, but Freya decided to leave it.

Even if she didn’t believe her, it was unlikely that she suspected that she had magical armour and weapons in there.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow for the weekend shift,” Sarah said.

Freya nodded, more than a little exhausted at the mere thought of returning for another full day of work. But if she could handle Demons, she could probably handle this, she figured.

As soon as they were out of the door, and Sarah had rounded the corner, Freya glamoured herself before leaping up to the roof of the cafe. She quickly pulled on her armour and put her war hammer over her shoulder before shrinking down her now mostly-empty backpack and attaching it to her belt. The bright orange design looked out of place on top of so much black leather and metal, clashing a little with the deep red runes that kept Freya’s armour from sustaining as much damage as it would otherwise, as well as healing Freya a little. Not nearly as much as she often needed, but enough to keep scratches from bothering it.

The armour had been a “gift” from Fate after Freya’s last job for her, much as the hammer had been a gift for her first. Freya wasn’t sure how she felt about the armour. She still didn’t quite trust Fate, and so wasn’t sure if she should trust her gifts. The armour was of outstanding quality, and it fit Freya perfectly. But it used Demon colours and style. There was nothing on the armour that stated that Freya was loyal to any of the great Demon houses, or the Crown, and it wasn’t as if she hadn’t used repurposed demonic armour from her first few foes before she had known where to get her own, but it did feel a little like declaring a side.

No Angel was inherently Light or Dark. It was a choice. A choice usually influenced by the fact that Angels could be born into any bloodline, and the kind of Energy they had an easier time drawing from was heavily influenced by their dominant genes. Freya’s family had been Humans and Angels on her mother’s side for the last three generations before her, and Amber had been before that. Amber had been Human before she had bonded with the last Ancient, so she didn’t really count as either Light or Dark.

And then Freya’s father had been a Demon.

For all intents and purposes, Freya figured she should be a Dark Angel. She had always had an easier time drawing on Dark Energy, anyway. But the first real friend she had made in the magical world had been Mel, who was a Light Witch. Well, mostly… And Amber had mostly only dealt with Light creatures when she had been alive, so she steered Freya in that direction as well.
It didn’t help that the first Demon Freya ever met had been trying to kill her. He had been rogue, acting against orders from the Crown not to antagonise Light creatures or hunt Humans, but it had still left kind of a bad taste in her mouth.

Freya shook herself from her train of thought, knowing that it would go nowhere. It would only leave her confused and frustrated. Who cared what other magical creatures thought? She was just an Angel. No Light or Dark needed. She didn’t have the time or patience for their petty politics. She was only concerned with making sure that no one stepped out of line and hurt Humans.
She refocused on finding the Demon Fate had told her about. She honestly wished that she had a better description to go on, but she figured that she would eventually find them if she just kept on hunting rogues as usual.

Patrolling was the usual arduous chore. Freya would find a spot and sense for Demonic activity. If she came across a regular, harmless Demon, they usually just waved to her at this point. They were easy enough to spot by the pins somewhere on them that announced which noble they were pledged to. Freya had even started to recognise a few of them. A bird here, a sword there.

The only one she hadn’t seen was the house symbol of Lord Uther. She had spotted it in one of Mel’s magic books once. She assumed that it was supposed to be some kind of dog or wolf, but its neck was twisted around so strangely she thought that it looked like it had broken its own neck while trying to chase its tail or something. Mel had rolled her eyes and told her that she wouldn’t lend her any more of her books if she didn’t take things seriously when Freya had told her that.

Part of her couldn’t help but wonder if, when they weren’t harassing her, the rogues that attacked her wore dog pins. After all, it was strange that she had never seen them before when Lord Uther was apparently the most powerful Demon noble besides the King.

With or without pins to identify them, rogues were usually more than easy to spot by the way they would immediately start attacking her as soon as they saw her.

Freya moved through the city, sensing for Demons and then moving on over and over again. She wished that her ability to sense had a longer range, but when she was searching for something as vague as “Demonic Energy”, she could only sense a three or four streets at a time, and the city was far from small.

It took hours before she sensed any demonic activity, but, when she did, it was like a wildfire burning out of control, clashing against a similar rush of Light Energy.

She immediately rushed towards the fight, wondering who was taking on one of the rogues. Normally the local Light creatures stayed out of it. Guides were so rare that she wasn’t sure that there were any in the city, and the local Light coven kept to themselves, so they never showed. Much like Guides, she assumed the lack of Slayers meant that they too gave the city a wide berth, so that pretty much just left Neutral creatures who would never get involved anyway. Or troublemakers like the Fae, who would be more than happy to watch the rogues cause trouble for everyone else.

As soon as she arrived on the scene, however, she saw that the figure fighting the Demon was indeed a Witch. She seemed to be holding her own with a staff, spinning nimbly in and out of reach in such a way that seemed to be aggravating the Demon, making him sloppy.

“Need a hand?” Freya asked as she jumped in, drawing the Demon’s attention long enough for the Witch to get a good hit in.

Freya followed it up with a blow from her hammer, knocking the Demon down. He definitely seemed like he wasn’t going to get up from that.

“I saw him attacking some Humans on my way home from work,” the Witch explained as she retracted her staff into a wand.

Freya looked up, recognising the voice. Indeed, the Witch in front of her was Sarah of all people.

She really had to start checking the people she met for magic…

She let the glamour on her face lapse, returning definition to her features.

“Freya!” Sarah cried with a grin, pocketing her wand so that she could sign instead. “I knew it!”

“You… What?” Freya said, her hands fumbling as she tried to articulate her confusion.

“I knew that you had magic. And you aren’t part of the coven, and you don’t have a noble pin so I figured you weren’t a Demon… You pretty much had to be the Angel.”

Freya felt a little nervous at it being that obvious even in her regular day-to-day attire. She’d gotten used to most people having figured it out by now, what with everyone having attributed her early accomplishments to an Angel before anyone really knew who she was, but she didn’t exactly go around advertising who she was. That seemed like a good way to bring trouble home with her.

“I guess you caught me,” Freya signed with a shrug. She still felt uncomfortable at the idea. Almost like her breathing was becoming shallow…

“I didn’t mean to get in your way if this was one of the rogues you deal with. Just, like I said, I saw him bothering Humans and-”

Freya shook her head. “It’s okay…” she told Sarah, stepping forward, but the move proved to be a little too much for her. All of a sudden the world spun around her, black spots appearing in her vision.

“Freya?!”

The next thing she knew, the world went black.


Make sure you get the fifth book when it goes live on Monday by preordering it now! (Link will take you to your vendor of choice.)

I AM ACTUALLY PARTICIPATING IN NANOWRIMO THIS YEAR!

So, the first year that I started taking my original writing seriously enough to participate in NaNoWriMo was the far off time of 2010.

I was in my last year of my GCSEs and I had spent a week earlier in the year on work experience. Of course, the place I was at was super busy and they didn’t trust some teenager to do things right, so all of the work that was supposed to be left for me had been already finished.

So I took in a notebook and I wrote out the first ever Snowverse novel by hand.

(Well, the first time it was ever novelised – these stories originally saw the light of day in a weird almost comic-like format…)

I did actually finish that book, but it was a novella in the end, not a novel.

And then I heard of NaNoWriMo.

The problem was that, in the UK, we have exams in January. And November is right around the time I had to start ramping up revision if I wanted those A*s.

So, I didn’t participate while I had my GCSEs.

And I didn’t participate when I had my A-Levels.

The first year of uni, however, back in 2013, I did participate.

And I wrote 10,000 words of a story that I legitimately don’t remember before I got a job and sacked it off.

Then in second year, my anxiety disorder got all fucked up and I didn’t participate.

Third year was spent recovering from second year.

And now, having graduated, I find myself looking at NaNo and thinking “What’s the point?”

Because during second year, once I had calmed down (long after November had come and gone), I actually got around to writing a novel.

It was another Snowverse title.

After all, my beta readers had liked the first one, but I wasn’t willing to expand on it. I felt like I spent too much time looping back. Those original stories had spanned generations, and there was too much lore bogging the book down.

So, I went backwards, to before all of the lore had been written.

I wrote the first Freya Snow book.

I also started listening to I Should Be Writing at work, and then The Creative Penn, and then the Self-Publishing Podcast…

By the start of my third year of uni, I had two Freya Snow books written, and a third well on the way.

In September, I published the first, deciding to publish one at the start of every term during third year, so that I wasn’t distracted from my dissertation.

The boredom soon got to me, of course, and I still regret not just publishing all three at once.

Oh well.

Cut to this summer just gone, and I spent the whole time still anxious from third year. So, I set myself a challenge. Try to write as many books as possible.

I wrote seven and a half books by the time October rolled around and I started my Master’s.

So, why participate in NaNo when I know that I can write a book in ten days if the mood strikes?

Well, I took October off while I got used to being at uni again.

I figure NaNo is a good way to get me back into writing again.

That half-written book (Freya Snow 8) still isn’t finished, and I don’t want to start on Freya Snow 9 until it is, but I still wanted to write a whole new book for NaNo.

I have two spin-off Snowverse projects that I plan to release this year (in September and October), The Almosts and The Royal Cleaner.

So, this month I’m going to write The Almosts, a magical heist story with an aro, autistic protagonist.

Think Breaking Bad meets GTA but with magic and they’re all women.

I’ve got to say, I’m actually pretty damn excited about tackling a different project.

So add me if you want to. My username is Gohoke, and I am hoping to actually finish this year.

Good luck to everyone else participating!