Excerpt & Giveaway: Striking Balance by Jeanne G’Fellers

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.

Mountain Gap Books | Amazon US Kindle | Amazon US Paperback | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads


Excerpt

Striking Balance meme

From Chapter Fifteen

Pity Not the Non-Conformer

Date: 1780

Location: Southern Appalachia, later Northeast Tennessee, inside the Hunter Fey Kingdom

Author Note: Breaking ties means taking risks, something Ben’s intent on doing in this scene, but there’s a bit of well-deserved payback happening as well.

***

     “Not as if you’re sick of the idles. More cleanly. Like this.” I tidy Conall’s mud mess then return to laying stone on the raised hearth in King Dane’s chamber. The kingdom’s master mason and his assistant are reconstructing the chimney, leaving Conall to work with me and the silence between us is terrible.

     “You’ve gone sourer than blinked milk over the winter.” He slings mud onto his next stone and smooths it with his trowel. “What ‘bout the top stone?”

     “We’re reusing the largest one from the old hearth when this sets.” I shove a stone into place then shape the mud so ‘tis smooth, choosing not to address his analysis of my attitude because it will only cause more arguments between us.

     “Rain’s comin’,” the mason calls from above.

     “We’re all but finished in here for the day too,” I say.

     “Where you workin’ after this?” the other man calls.

     “The Cabinet, I suppose. There’s plenty to do there.”

     “And the nonconformer?”

     “King Dane said he’s to split wood ‘til dusk rain or not.” I side-glance at Conall who frowns. He is prone to take offense and tosses mild insults toward me if he thinks it will get a rise, which it oft does, and has long since ceased attempting to apologize for his words that night at court, which suits me.

     Conall grumbles then returns to his work, setting several smaller stones under my watch. ‘Tis a nice hearth. The stones are rich with mica, as is the sand we used for the mortar so it shimmers though ‘tis not yet polished.

     “We done?” He looks back at me.

     “For today. Let’s clean up.”

     “He will while you help me pack a box and roll my quilts.” King Dane stands in the doorway between her chamber and the Great Hall. “I can’t rest here tonight with a half-built hearth, so I’ll curl before the Cabinet’s fire tonight, a nice change, Cyrus’ crowned pup.” She laughs. “You still staying there, Ben?”

     I am quite certain she is aware but… “Yes, King Dane. I am.”

     “You’re not stayin’ at Henry’s?” She eyes Conall when she says this.

     “No, King Dane.” Yes, Henry and me. Over the winter, I moved beyond his court night head pats to discover he is great fun for a quick jig beneath the quilts.  “He and I don’t linger in each other’s company.”

     “I see.” She chuckles and folds her hands, bringing her index fingers to her mouth. “Then perhaps we should finally share those libations I mentioned last fall.”

     This is an interesting turn. And ‘tis a deliberate dig at Conall. “Why, yes, King Dane. I would like that. Thank you.” I have not been frightened of her since my realization concerning her kingly struggles. If anything, I am drawn to her magic and strong presence, so I smile over her offer until I see Conall’s shoulders droop. “Tonight at the Cabinet, perhaps?”

     “Yes, the first time should probably be among others,” she muses, and Conall steps away from his work to stand facing the doorway.

     She is testing us for lingering attachment, so I turn my back on him to face her, a bold move. “That sounds lovely. Thank you, King Dane.”

     “Indeed.” She raises her brow at me. “The Cabinet it is. Now fetch what I tell you to and stack it on the bed.”

     I am quite comfortable at the Cabinet and have a small bedstead of my own in the corner beside the great loom. But now that I have spent repeated nights in someone’s arms, I long to do so again. Conall does too, I suppose, but ‘twill not be with me.

     “Just fold over the canvas ‘til tomorrow,” I tell him. Above us, the masons are covering the chimney with a tarp that darkens the chamber.

     “All right.” Conall nods to King Dane. “Might I leave, please?”

     “Wash the tools, put them away proper and get to your home. A soaker’s rollin’ in, so the wood can wait ‘til tomorrow afternoon. Someone will bring your dinner like always.” She calls him back when he turns. “’Tis gonna be dark the rest of the day. You got candles enough?”

     “I only got a half taper left… King Dane.” He adds the last only after she pulls her circlet from her coat and holds it out.

     “Remind me tomorrow, and I’ll see you get some.” She slips the circlet beneath her coat again.

     “And a new flint and steel, please?” He holds up his empty hand to wiggle his fingers. “I, I still don’t have my magic.”

     “And you won’t ‘til you pledge.” She flexes her hand and a tinder box appears in it. “Let someone know when the flint needs replacin’.” King Dane flexes again and a fat, double-wicked candle appears in her palm. “There. Use it to read more on that book you cling to.” She waves him out the door, turning back to regard me with one brow raised. “He’ll become one of us sooner or later, I feel it in my bones, but are you ever going to be able to forgive him for what he said?”

     “I don’t believe I can, King Dane.”

     “Aye, you’ve made that clear.” She catches me by the wrist, her grip firm but not unkind. “You turned your back on him. Don’t you know not to turn your back to someone you feel you can’t trust? ‘Tis dangerous.”

     “I can trust him with everything but my heart.” I begin rolling her bedding when she releases me.

     “’Tis the most dangerous of all things, so be careful.”

     “I know.” I stop. “Will he learn to fly once he’s pledged?”

     “Aye, but ‘til then he’s not allowed to untuck his wings, much less spread them.” She turns me so we face. “The energy between you two is still a gom of anger and hurt, but I still feel somethin’ good beneath that.”

     “It’ll fade.” I follow her arm to her shoulder, daring to look into her face. “I am too angry for it not to.”

     “Aye, it’ll go if that’s what you truly want.” She steps closer, smiling, and I feel her pleasant energy surround me. “If it is then perhaps there’s hope for us yet.”


Giveaway

Jeanne is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47132/?


Author Bio

Jeanne G'Fellers

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.

Author Website: https://jeannegfellersauthor.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Jeannegfellersauthor

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jlgfellers

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorjeannegfellers/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B01N0YWCT7?

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