ART: Partners

Elite Taskforce. Now that we’re gearing up for the October release of Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate, I can share a bit of this and that. Hopefully, you’re as excited as I am for this next installment in the Amaranthine Saga. Book 5’s summary mentions Hisoka Twineshaft’s “elite taskforce,” which I don’t mind telling you consists of six people, who are paired off into two-person teams. Way back in Book 2, you learned that Juuyu Farroost’s partner is Sinder Stonecairne. So … we’ll start with known entities! ::twinkle::

Partners | art by FoxOfTwilight

So how’d you get hurt?”
Boon scratched absently at the edge of gauzy wrappings. “Nothing to worry about.”
Akira guessed Boon had been part of the rescue effort. “Would you happen know anything about Suuzu’s brother and … and his partner?”
The wolf’s yellow eyes narrowed, and he delivered another smart knock to the top of Akira’s head. “You really are a security breech.”
“Not for knowing stuff,” protested Akira. “Only if I tell what I know to someone I shouldn’t.”
Boon was back in his face. “And what makes you think I know Juuyu and Sinder?”
“I knew you knew! Is Sinder okay?”
“Patched up and perky as ever.”
Jigsaw details slid neatly together. Sinder had said he was part of an elite taskforce, and Juuyu had mentioned in passing that a wolf had helped him create his necklace. “Are you one of Juuyu’s teammates?”
“Here’s the thing, kid. I am not a security breech.” Boon deposited the phone in Akira’s coat pocket. “The less said, the better. Savvy?”

Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal

Pre-order Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate

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Pre-Order Fumiko

Releasing October 22, 2021. The digital edition of the fifth book in the Amaranthine Saga is now available for pre-order on Amazon/Kindle. It’ll show up in all the other places in due course. And it’ll also be available in print & audio editions eventually. But this is where it always starts. ::twinkle::

Pre-Order on Amazon (US) >>

She could make a mess of everything. Especially him.
The Junzi—also known as the Four Gentlemen—are a set of ancient weapons fashioned from remnants. Dragons refer to them as the Four Storms, and Hisoka Twineshaft believes they will make a difference in the hunt for the rogue. But someone else is interested in gathering up these crystal masterpieces. The so-called Gentleman Bandit is responsible for two thefts already, and Hisoka is concerned for the Bamboo Stave. So he deploys an elite taskforce to guard the treasure. And to catch a thief.

Juuyu Farroost and his teammates regroup at a safehouse tucked under the boughs of one of the oldest—and most heavily fortified—orphan trees in the Americas. Fumiko and her tree twin have enough rooms for all of them. If they can shift enough of the woman’s clutter to set up their equipment. Juuyu’s expertise is essential to the success of their mission, but he can barely focus thanks to Fumiko, her messes, and Akira, who apparently owes Boon a favor.

Shelve on Goodreads, too >>

Jacques All June

Lord Mettlebright’s Man. I hope you’ve been enjoying the (mostly) daily updates to LMM all month. As we’re nearing the last handful of days, I’ve decided to open up an offer for MOAR Jacques, this time in your mailbox. This is the sort of thing I send to patrons who support me over on my Patreon account. (Incentives abound!) However, I printed extras, and Jacques is generous. (Well, sort of.) So on this Fandom Foray day, when I’ll already be hanging out on my Ko-fi account, I invite you to buy Jacques a coffee. Your $4 will help cover printing & postage … and give you something nice in the mail.

forthright on Ko-fi >>

Splurge on a Ko-fi, then PM/DM me your address. Or email me the particulars: always.forthright at gmail.com

Every Word Matters

Piece it Together. I don’t always explain everything on the spot. Some readers like the hints and asides, since it allows them to put together all the little clues & reach a conclusion. Some of you probably want to throttle me. (Eheh.) In this case, I’m quite willing to explain a passing reference in yesterday’s chapter of Lord Mettlebright’s Man. Argent asks, “Shall I ask one of the sedge to assist you?”

Little by little in the Amaranthine Saga (and most especially in the Songs of the Amaranthine), readers are running up against more clans and their cultures. One of the most basic details I often include is the clan’s collective noun. In this case, sedge definitely refers to a group of cranes. Does this mean there are now cranes living at Stately House? I will point you to a few obscure (but highly pertinent) references. ::twinkle::

LMM, Ch89, “Creature Comforts”

I want… an espresso machine and a French chef to make breakfast pastries. Fine cheeses and a cellar filled with star wine. Access to an excellent tailor.” After a moment’s thought, he added, “And a place to hide.”

. . .

LMM, Ch199, “Little Boy Blues”

Ever wants those… denim trousers.”
“Jeans are practical, durable.” More to the point, “And Kyrie wears them whenever they play together.”
Breeches are practical. And durable.”
“You disapprove?”
“They’re not very… doggish.” Harmonious glanced apologetically in Argent’s direction.
“You’ll need a pair.” Jacques knew the way packs worked. “That way you’ll match your son.”
“Me?”
“Stature needn’t be prohibitive. Our tailor is excellent. Avian, you know.”

. . .

Mikoto and the Reaver Village, Ch41, “Bygones”

… a few dozen crossers, a partial herd of horses, a sedge of cranes, a nest of mice, one honeybee, two grumpy bear brothers, our French butler, and several members of the Amaranthine Council. Yay, verily, our Kith shelter runneth over, and we’re always expanding.”

. . .

You’ll be meeting the cranes eventually. (Why else would I bring them up?) I’m forever foreshadowing & backshadowing & alluding. If something doesn’t immediately make sense, you can 1) reread, 2) wait a bit, or 3) ask. Although more often than not, 4thy’s answer will (quite traditionally) be, “time will tell, for I shall not!”

Thank you for being patient with me!

ART: Game Changer

Happy Father’s Day. I’ve been saving up an illustration of Timur’s smol family, and this is the perfect day to unveil it. I am placing it under a cut, though, since it’s a spoiler for the end of Mikoto and the Reaver Village (Amaranthine Saga, #4). I consider it a companion piece (of sorts) to “Two Halves.”

::twinkle::

ART: Garden Girls

Little Ladies. Back when I posted “Naproom,” art that features Michael reading bedtime stories to Lilya & a bunch of boys, someone asked if there were no female crossers at Stately House. There are! Fox and I had already been plotting a companion piece of sorts, with Ginkgo in the garden.

“Garden Girls” | art by FoxOfTwilight

. . .

From left to right: Be’el-garva, Ginkgo, Tawny, Mei, and Kyrie. Plus assorted kittens and Ephemera. (Who else has begun playing spot-the-nippet in Fox’s art?) Yes, Tawny is part lynx. And Mei’s Amaranthine parent is from one of the cozy clans. A chipmunk!

Tawny’s arrival at Stately House can be found in Lord Mettlebright’s Man, Ch55:

Argent appeared suddenly, as if he’d been leaning against the door this whole time. He relieved Adoona-soh of a tawny-tailed toddler who hissed and bared tiny fangs. “Desist,” he chided.
Like that would help.
She went limp.
Touché.

Most of the time, the girls are mentioned alongside the boys, like in LMM, Ch83:

Gilen with his banded tail.
Tawny, the little feline with a big hiss.
Raife of the unfortunate hair.
Mori, whose eyes were far too old.
Mei, who clung to Mori and called him brother.
But where had Nonny gone?

But they’re sometimes singled out for special attention, like in LMM, Ch155:

Sansa and Isla paddled in the shallows, giving Annika and Mei a swimming lesson. How they’d pried Mei from Mori’s side was a mystery. Tsumiko sat close enough to the water that waves swished around her and a skittish Tawny. Poor kitten.

And naturally, when Kyrie & Lilya are reminiscing about home in Bk4, its their foster siblings they miss:

She could almost see Gilen’s banded tail disappearing high above, with Tawny in close pursuit. And hear Mori’s stern voice reminding everyone to stay with their buddy. Right now, she even missed Nonny, who was a terror and a tease with everyone except Uncle Jackie.
Kyrie stopped inspecting a cluster of mushrooms growing up the side of a tree like stairsteps to say, “Jarrah would call for a climbing contest.”
So true. She said, “Finnick would have lost his shoes by now.”
“Disa would beg to be carried.”
“And Raife would give in first.” Lilya tightened her grip. “I wish we could have brought everyone.”
With a wistful smile, Kyrie said, “We miss them because we love them. They are a part of us. Our family.”

Our little cobra-crosser is Be’el-garva, who also received a mention in Bk4. (She hasn’t yet arrived at Stately House in the current timeline of LMM.)

Mother asked him to be gentle and kind and patient. Give newcomers a chance to see past the red eyes and horns and scales, to see how much his other denmates liked and trusted him. And mother was wise, because that’s how it always worked out. Even the worst crybaby—which was Be’el-garva, a little half-cobra—would trail after Kyrie, wanting to hold hands.

Look forward to daily chapters of Lord Mettlebright’s Man in June. (It’s become a Pride Month tradition.)

ART: Dare Together

Available Everywhere (Finally). Since it looks like Captured on Film has turned up in virtual storefronts internationally, I can finally share some quotes, art, and snapshots. Let’s begin with the brothers themselves! ::twinkle::

Dare Together | art by FoxOfTwilight

His brother ran a hand over a dark blond beard. “Hear me out.”
Okay, this was already bringing back bad memories. “No.”
“I came to invite you.”
“No.”
“Remember how Dad would take us camping?”
Caleb held up a hand. “Invite Dad. He’d be thrilled.”
Josheb’s eyes narrowed. “I’m making this official. I dare you, Caleb Dare.”
“You can’t.”
“Can, too. Just did.” From his doubly superior height, Josheb smirked. “Live up to the name, or live down the shame. You know what’s riding on this.”
He did.
As one, they both looked to Nessie, whose tail thumped the floor.

Mikoto and the Reaver Village

Today’s the Day. If you want to sneak into the booth with Travis Baldree while he narrates Mikoto and the Reaver Village (Amaranthine Saga, #4), he starts today. Join Travis’ server on Discord to get in on the fun > https://discord.gg/duzCS2D

If you need them, there are more details on this blog post from last week. Hope to see you there!

ART: Uncle Laud

“I have two fathers.” In the aftermath of the accidental proposal, I’m sure Quen would have liked Uncle Laud’s opinion on the matter. After all, Laud practically raised him. Quick Reminder: Laud Starmark is one of Harmonious Starmark’s younger brothers. As you can see, Laud strongly resembles his mother (Radiance), having inherited the Ambervelte pack’s distinctive coloring.

Uncle Laud | art by FoxOfTwilight

. . .

Wolfs has tails!” exclaimed Ever, his own a blur. “But dogs is best.”

Tenma asked, “Are you a dog?”

It was exactly the right thing to ask. “Yeth! Like Da. Him’s mine.”

Lapis interjected, “What of poor Eloquence?”

“Yeth.” Ever belatedly acknowledged the dragon a wiggle-fingered wave and patiently explained, “Him’s mine, too. My bruvver.”

“And the silent lout over there?” inquired Lapis.

“Rise. Him’s mine, too.” In a loud whisper, Ever explained to Tenma, “Him’s Kiff.”

The dragon lord chuckled. “I was referring to the one with no ready excuse for his reticence.” At Ever’s obvious confusion, Lapis offered a broad hint. “The one with white hair.”

“Uncle!” With that, Ever slid from Tenma’s lap and trotted across to Laud, who sat on the floor beside the door.

Eloquence explained, “Laud Starmark raised me and remains my mentor. My den is his den.” He tried to think of a way to explain their relationship so a human could understand. “I have two fathers.”

Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal

. . .

Can we just take a moment to appreciate Quen’s training hair?

REMINDER: I have a (novel-length) serial story planned called Kimiko and the Cycle of Moons. Once I reach my community goal of 400 patrons, I’ll begin posting exclusive chapters. “Loosely based on the old Amaranthine tale, ‘The Wolf and the Moon Maiden,’ this serial will involve three sisters, twelve pledges, and the long-awaited stirring of a sleeping landmark.” If you’re looking forward to more Quen & Kimi, join the ranks. We’re currently over 1/4 of the way to that goal. forthright on Patreon >>

ART: Unbraided

Quen & Kimi. Once I made the executive decision to leave Eloquence’s hair unbraided for this near-kiss, it became increasingly obvious that with his hair loose around his shoulders, Quen looks even more like his father. They’re both charmers in their own way. ::twinkle::

Unbraided” | art by FoxOfTwilight

ART: My Stash

Squirreled Away. So many of you ship this. Can’t really blame you. All I’ll say is … these guys certainly need each other. Behold, Jiro “Joe” Reaverson and Alder “Kip” Woodacre from Tamiko and the Two Janitors (Amaranthine Saga, #3).

“My Stash” | art by FoxOfTwilight

… you need to understand that the sigilcraft is mine. They’ll carry my … my signature. And according to the customs of my clan, that makes you mine.”
“So it’s a bond?”
“Sort of.” He really wished a better idea would occur to him. “It does define a new relationship.”
“Umm … in what sense would I be yours?”
“My personal stash.” Kip couldn’t quite meet Jiro’s worried gaze as he added, “My food.”


::twinkle::

ART: Naproom

Michael and the Crossers. Thank you to everyone who participated in the recent poll over on Patreon. Fully half of you (51% to be exact) asked to see our “halfers” next. Most of Stately House’s crossers are known by name thanks to Lord Mettlebright’s Man. Of all of my options, I chose Nonny, Gilen, and Jarrah in large part because they’ve had the most mentions & screentime. Jacques mentions Jarrah in Bk3: Tamiko and the Two Janitors, trying to pawn off the little hellion on Kip, and all three of these boys had their moment in Cross and Crosser (that IY x Amaranthine Saga crossover I wrote for my fanniversary last September), which I’ve excerpted below.

Naproom | art by FoxOfTwilight


Excerpted from Cross and Crosser:

::twinkle::

ART: Nestle

Happy Valentine’s Day

• • •

Nestle | Art by FoxOfTwilight

Quarterly Art Card. This is the artwork that’s featured on the next quarterly art card, which is one of the perks of patronage, starting at the Twinkle tier. “Nestle” will be mailed out to qualifying patrons in time for the vernal equinox (March 20), which is undoubtedly a notable day in Amaranthine culture. If you want a bit of Tsugent in your mailbox to mark the start of spring, you can find out more about my Patreon over here >>