ART: Bloom for You

Hajime and Naoki. We first meet this duo in Flattered by Flowers (Songs of the Amaranthine, #8). Naoki is a bookseller in the city of Keishi, and he befriended Junpei, who became a regular at his shop. Only after a bit of tanuki mischief did Junpei realize that Naoki wasn’t alone.

“Tell me what you see,” Naoki prompted, his expression guarded.
Meeting a red-eyed gaze, Junpei offered a respectful nod. “I see another man with long, black hair and a lavish crown of red flowers. You are similar to Kusunoki, but Matsu’s friend has more height and girth and wears hakama.”
With a heavy sigh, Naoki said, “Junpei, meet my longtime companion, Hajime.”

Flattered by Flowers
Songs of the Amaranthine, #8

Bloom for You | art by FoxOfTwilight

November’s Monthly Mailing. Qualifying patrons will be receiving “Bloom for You” art cards this month. They’re large & lovely (4×9″). If you’d like to get in on mailings like this, consider supporting my storytelling over there. I’ll do my best to spoil you. ::twinkle::

forthright on Patreon >>

ART: Trust Building Exercise

Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate. Let’s call this a little encouragement to fit in a reread of Bk5 before the autumn release of Bk6: Pimiko and the Uncharted Island. Because this time, there’s no time skip. The events of the fifth miko flow right on into the sixth.

I have planned a whole array of trust-building exercises. ’Twould be a shame if they went to waste.”
Akira bit. “Like what?”
“Walking together, shopping together, dining together. I’m told cycling and snorkeling are popular activities for tourists. And did I mention shopping? Because boutiques are on my agenda. And Rafter passed me Wind-and-Tide’s food truck bingo board.”   
“That … actually sounds kind of fun,” ventured Akira.  
Fun is one of the perks of traveling with the well-heeled, somewhat dubious second son of Smythe Manor. My tastes are expensive, my pockets are deep, and our time is short. Let’s frivol away the next five days in extravagant ways … because this, too, is part of Argent’s plan.”

Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate
Amaranthine Saga, #5

Trust Building Exercise | art by Fox of Twilight

. . .

Within ten minutes, it was abundantly clear that Magda was out to have fun, and she seemed intent on dragging Hallow and Suuzu straight into more. Barely a block along their way, and Hallow sported a new pair of sunglasses, and she’d wrapped Suuzu’s head in a fancy turban.
Jacques approved. And snapped pictures. And found some shimmery gloss that he applied to Akira’s lower lip.
“Where’s your usual sparkle?” he asked softly. “Are you actually intimidated by pastels?”
“I feel like a one-man boy band.”
Uncle Jackie took his hand. “Rather the goal. But I need you to relax into this role. If not for my sake, then for his.” He angled his head toward Suuzu, who was undergoing similar indignities.
Suuzu barely resembled Spokesperson Farroost anymore. The lavish headcloth might count as a disguise, and the freshly-applied shimmer of gold on his bottom lip was sort of pretty. But the concern in his best friend’s gaze snapped Akira to attention.
“Better,” murmured Uncle Jackie. “Now stop trying to decide how to act.”
“I can’t act.”
“That is painfully obvious. So how about this? You drag him about like you usually do, and we’ll improvise around you.” After a beat, he leaned close to whisper, “And avoid mirrors.”
Akira glanced around, wary of reflective surfaces. “Why?”
“Pastels.” With a teasing smile, he said, “We need more time to build up your resistance.”

Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate

::close crop::

ART: Nestmates

Akira and Suuzu. They’re the closest of friends, the lifelong sort. And their story threads straight through the Amaranthine Saga. We haven’t had art of them since they were in middle school, so it was time for an update.

“Nestmates” | art by FoxOfTwilight

Quarterly Art Card. As most of you are probably aware, I create art cards as thank yous for my patrons. More and more, I’ve begun including story snippets on them. Little scenes or outtakes. The next Quarterly Art Card will go out in March, coinciding with the vernal equinox, and THIS is the art I chose to feature. AND I’ve written a scene to go with it, just a private moment between Akira and Suuzu, set near the end of Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate. Completely original. So if you want MOAR of these nestmates, I hope you’ll consider joining the ranks of supporters over on Patreon >>

zoom in

ART: Roommates

Colt and Hallow. More art for Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate, which rounds out the six who make up “Hisoka’s finest.” Boon & Moon are partners. Juuyu and Sinder are partners. And here are Colt and Hallow.

Roommates | art by FoxOfTwilight

Since When? Hallow was first introduced back in Governed by Whimsy. At the time, he was still an adolescent.

“You need to meet my friend. Hallow and I share a compartment. We’ve been friends since he was just a little guy.” Turning expectantly toward the door, Colt said, “Come along, Hallow. She’s warded.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Hallow stepped into the open. He was slim and pale, a youth with sharp features and a stiff manner. Straight black hair hung loose around his shoulders, and he glanced around the room with deep red eyes.
“Come along, Hallow,” Colt repeated. “Don’t be such a grump.”
Flashing a look of injury, Hallow flowed across the room with a swooping gait that caused the leathery folds that webbed under his arms to billow slightly. He presented himself to Greta with a silent bow.

Governed by Whimsy (Songs 04)

In Governed by Whimsy, Colt is the theater company’s healer. If you piece together the pertinent details, you’ll figure out that both Colt and Hallow are from the Glintrubble cooperative. “Glintrubble is a cooperative that specializes in mining and shaping the stones that amplify a reaver’s abilities. Their community includes horses, rabbits, and bats. And reavers, of course” (Michael Ward, Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox). Yes, Hallow is a grandson of Trisk & Glinna Brunwinger.

His regional accent was a match for Colt’s, lending credence to their long association. “How do you do?
My name is Hallow Brunwinger. I apologize for withholding myself from association. Especially if my presence can bring some comfort.”
“You’re … half?”
“Yes.” He lifted an arm, giving her a clearer look at a misfit wing. “Bat clan.”
Greta asked, “Your mother?”
“She is well enough. My father was human.” Hallow’s gaze turned apologetic. “I’m not sure what any of you expect from me. It’s not as if I was much use during my own birthing.”
Colt slung his arm around Hallow’s shoulders. “You’re here. Isn’t that enough?”

Governed by Whimsy (Songs 04)

More than two centuries later, readers caught another glimpse of this duo in Mikoto and the Reaver Village. Sinder mentions them in passing, because he’s close to them. (Two words: elite taskforce.)

  • Lost in a daydream in which Juuyu and Hallow were sent to extract him, Sinder nearly missed his cue.
  • The man smoothed the shirt over his back, pulled free his thick braid, chafed his arms—all the fussing made Sinder miss Colt.
  • Surely there was some strategic significance here. Offensive and defensive potential? A possible means of protection, both for them and for their sibling? Hallow would figure it out if anyone could.
  • “Are they insane?” he muttered. Hallow was obsessed with tuned crystals, so Sinder had been exposed to every variation known to carry Cadmiel’s song. That’s why he knew that this rookie scheme might actually work. But not necessarily in the way they hoped.
  • Hallow must have grabbed the phone because his voice came sharp and clear. “Get to him. Immediately. His crystal’s vibrating nearly to pieces, and its song tells of pain.”

Mikoto and the Reaver Village

Which brings us to Book 5 in the Amaranthine Saga, when Fumiko meets the oft-mentioned “elite taskforce.” Hallow’s all grown up now.

**NOTE** If you haven’t yet read Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate, the remainder of this post contains excerpts which might be considered spoilers. Comments are also suspect. You have been warned.


Brew & Bubble

As Seen on Patreon. Whether you call it boba tea, bubble tea, or even pearl shakes, these drinks are something I first discovered when I moved to California. I’ve tried so many flavors! My favorites are a Vietnamese coffee shake & several of the real fruit smoothies my local Boba Bar serves up. Just yesterday, I was craving a melon one. Lovely stuff.

If you’re a patron (or if you ordered a signed book from me), you may have received one of the promotional postcards pictured below, which includes a short story snippet (on the reverse) that takes place in the setting of Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate. Brew & Bubble is the coffee shop at a local museum/art center, and they serve both coffee & assorted teas (including those boba smoothies I love). The art turned out so cute, we put it on totes! Now available.

forthright on Patreon >>


ART: Lost Harbor Lockets

Added security, you understand.” When Argent Mettlebright sets his trap for the Gentlemen Bandit, he arranges for a security team he can trust. So Juuyu Farroost meets the formidable duo known as the Lost Harbor Lockets. ::twinkle::

Lost Harbor Lockets | art by FoxOfTwilight

. . .

“Curious?” The woman smiled broadly and crooked a finger. “You can look, but don’t touch. They’re loaded.”
The sigils stood out like lace upon her skin, inked in white, shimmering with power.
“These are what I like to call a competitive edge.” She turned, encouraging his perusal. “This set has shields for deflective attacks. Ever been hit by an airbag in a moving car?”
Juuyu’s eyes widened.
So did her smile. “Broke my nose once. Gave me the idea. Defensive measures can pack a wallop. So does my partner. I’m Magda Locket, by the way. We’re the Lost Harbor Lockets.”
As if he should recognize them.
He met her palms and admitted, “I am … unfamiliar.”
“Seriously?” Magda propped a hand on her hip. “We’re on the battler circuit. The games are televised and everything. Ever watch any extreme sports? No?”
“I apologize.”

Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate
Amaranthine Saga, #5

Hey, nonny, nonny…

Kiddo. Just wanted to drop this here in case you needed reminding of what Nonny looks like. (Art by FoxofTwilight.) And … while we’re at it! Those who were able to listen in on Travis Baldree’s recording sessions for the audio book of Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate already know that Nonny (who often employs Britticisms) has a Cockney accent. ::twinkle::

… such pretty flocking!

Release Day!

Release Day October 22, 2021

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.

• • •

If you’ve already begun reading, hold onto your comments and put them on the Squee Post. (I want this thread to remain spoiler free.)


Release Eve

Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate. While Fumiko officially releases tomorrow, many of you will find the fifth book in the Amaranthine Saga downloading to your e-reader tonight. (Mine always shows up before 10pm.) OR you live in the future, because it’s already the 22nd in your hemisphere. So the festivities begin early. Happy Release Eve!

An official Release Day post is scheduled to go up at midnight here, with a Squee Post close on its heels. But I know from long experience that tomorrow will be pretty quiet. And that’s fine. I hope you can enjoy your weekend’s reading!

Release Day Delivery

Maybe. Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate will release this coming Friday, October 22 (::confetti toss::). While I can’t guarantee a release day delivery like certain vendors, I’m going to get as close as possible. The first shipment will go out today, bound for international recipients. And another teetering stack will go out on Monday. Media mail supposedly takes up to ten days, but most of my recipients see a package in seven. Unless they live in nearby states, in which case, books could show up early. Lucky you! ::twinkle::

  • If you want to get in on the initial shipment, place your order ASAP! I have a stack of shipping labels ready! Signed Books details >>
  • If you’re holding off for one reason or another, no worries. I stocked up. You’ll be fine.
  • If you pre-order the ebook, it’ll probably show up on your reading device the evening before release day. (Thanks, time zones!) Those who get a signed book + an ebook are able to review Bk5 as a verified customer, which is apparently a good thing.
  • Speaking of reviews, any author, nay, EVERY author depends on your honest opinions & star ratings. They please the algorithms, which can mean site recommendations and netting future “daily deals” sale dates.
  • Incidentally, pre-orders are a contributing force toward boosting a new book’s First Week Sales, which can put them on best seller lists. That’s an eventual goal of mine, but I’m not there yet. Maybe someday!
  • While the digital/print book release date is October 22, the audio book will be coming out next month from Tantor Audio. Pre-orders should be showing up soon for Travis Baldree’s narration. And the release date will be November 9, 2021.
  • As per usual, I reveal the title of the next book (Bk6) at the end of the ebook & and a fuller title + summary at the end of the print edition. Those who order an author-signed copy also receive swag that doubles as a full-color cover reveal. ::eyebrow waggle::

Aaah, we’re so close. I hope you’re as excited as I am for what’s to come. And thank you for supporting my stories wherever they can be found.

Coming Soon

Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate. Have you pre-ordered your ebook? Are you going to nab a signed copy? I’ve been addressing & inscribing all week, and I’m planning to ship books on Monday so they’ll reach readers close to (if not before) release day on Friday, October 22. If you want to get into that first big batch, now’s a great time to send in your order.

Chapter 2 Teaser. Okay, not much happening here except scenery, but that’s okay because 1) it’s spoiler-free and 2) it establishes the fact that Akira is a POV chapter in Fumiko. ::twinkle::