Checking in with the Runaway Royals
I’ve been pretty lax on the newsletter front—I started the draft of this newsletter LAST DECEMBER! I did manage to send out a historical fantasy short story in February, so if you missed lady blacksmith and werewolf girlfriend, check it out here.
I’m in the process of figuring out a new newsletter service and regenerating brain cells, but hopefully I’ll get back on track with posting actual GWG content soon!
ICYMI: Reject Squad Graphic Novel
Reject Squad, the fake anime that Gus and Reggie (who this newsletter is inspired by) bond over in Can’t Escape Love, is going to be a real comic!!!
How it started:
HOW IT’S GOING:
Alyssa!!! on semi-hiatus @AlyssaColeLitAhhh, so glad I can finally share this! The incredible @ONeillJones and I are doing a graphic novel together, with @diamondtiarak!! This is truly a dream come true! 😭 Thank you to @LucienneDiver and @draper_claire!! ❤️ https://t.co/2OQzifHMgt
I’m so excited that I get to work with OneillJones on this book, and can’t wait until we can share more!!! 2024, here we come!
Spring Date Night at Loyalty Bookstores
We’re back with another Date Night, and a fantastic lineup! Register for this free event here: https://www.loyaltybookstores.com/datenight12!
How To Find A Princess Release Day Event
Book #2 of the Reluctant Royals series, HOW TO FIND A PRINCESS, is out in just a few weeks! On release day, I’ll be in conversation with Rebekah Weatherspoon at 7:00 ET. We’ll chat about writing queer romance, boats, and lots of random but entertaining things (since that is always what happens when we hang out).
The event is “ticketed” in that you buy a book from your participating bookstore of choice and receive the link to the event—as well as this awesome vintage-style travel postcard drawn by author and illustrator Marika Bailey!!
Multi-Indie Bookstore Release Day Event + Pre-Order Postcard Links:
How To Find A Princess Excerpt
This book is an Anastasia-inspired f/f romance featuring a reluctant possible princess, a chaotic hot investigator, a fake marriage, and only one bed on a transatlantic cargo trip adventure! Here are the basics about our heroines, Makeda and Bez:
And here’s an excerpt. I chose Makeda and Bez’s first encounter—hope you enjoy!
The buzzer at the front door sounded, startling Makeda. There were no guests booked for today and no deliveries scheduled. Maybe it was Lester, the mail carrier. The buzzer rang again, and again, and—no, this wasn’t Lester’s energy. Any other delivery person would have left the package and kept it moving to meet their quota by now. Whoever was at the door, they were rude, impatient, and likely to be a pain in the ass.
Makeda was done dealing with pains in the asses; she turned on the vacuum and continued cleaning the mess that previous pains in the asses had left behind. The person BZZZZTed again; three long, nerve-jangling presses that cut through the sound of the vacuum’s motor.
She fought the rising anxiety that came from ignoring a clear bid for her attention—this felt like a battle of wills. She was tired of people expecting her to drop everything and do what they wanted. She was ashamed that, without actual effort to resist, she was the kind of person who would.
The buzzing stopped and Makeda grinned triumphantly, putting a little more oomph into the push and pull of the vacuum. It was pathetic that ignoring someone at her door felt like any kind of victory, but she’d take it.
“Hello,” a voice called from behind her a moment later, and Makeda gasped and spun around, vacuum gripped by the handle and hefted, ready to bash whoever had sneaked up on her.
A woman was standing in the doorway— tall and brown- skinned with a straight blunt- cut bob that rested on her shoulders in a silky wave, like she’d just unwrapped the perfect doobie. Her hazel eyes, a stunning contrast to her dark skin, were magnified by comedically large round-lens glasses perched on her nose. The lenses were smudgy with fingerprints and the sight of them would have made Makeda spray her in the face with Windex if she wasn’t so shocked by her presence.
The woman sported a black suit that managed to accentuate her broad shoulders and long, muscular body despite its clearly untailored cut. Makeda wasn’t judging, but it reminded her of the cheap polyester tuxedo uniform of restaurants she’d worked at, worn to project a false sense of professionalism. Was she a traveling saleswoman? Not common, but people did show up trying to sell things from time to time. The green button- down shirt and skinny tie beneath her jacket pulled the look together into a
disheveled chic, like the fashion editorials models in oversize asymmetrical out"ts. Although this woman was far from the waif- thin looks of any couture spread. She was solid and muscular and Makeda’s face went hot just from looking at her.
The woman scrunched her face as she examined Makeda, as if trying to increase the magnifying power of her glasses. People usually didn’t look at Makeda with this much interest— she was the type who won people over with her usefulness and reliability, not by grabbing their attention. Then the woman’s full lips spread in a smile to reveal a gap between her two front teeth.
“Excellent reflexes,” she said with an approving nod, speaking loudly to be heard over the vacuum that was sucking at the air between them.
Makeda turned the power off, but the woman still shouted her next sentence. “You’ve no idea how many people sense someone creeping up on them and turn without grabbing for even a butter knife.”
“You creep up on people often enough to know that?” Makeda asked. Her arms started to ache, so she lowered the vacuum but kept a tight grip on it in case she needed to deliver a suction- free beatdown.
“Not often, no.” The woman clasped her hands behind her back, her gaze drifting off to the side, as if she were trying to remember something. “Wait. Perhaps often, but not regularly. It is a skill, not a habit or a hobby.”
There was a husky musicality to her voice, an accent that might have been Italian or Arabic.
“Usually people trying to sell things wait outside,” Makeda said in the least hospitable voice she could muster, which was still far too warm but only because her cheeks were burning. “Is there something I can do for you?”
“I believe there is,” the woman said. “I’m looking for a woman named Makeda Hicks. Are you Makeda Hicks?”
Makeda wasn’t an accent ho, but hearing that voice wrap itself around her name sent a shiver of delight through her. The woman made the three syllables sound exciting. Full of possibility.
“I— I am,” she said, gripping the handle of the vacuum even more tightly. “I’m Makeda Hicks.”
The woman’s gaze sharpened. She didn’t move, but it somehow felt as if she’d closed the space between them. It reminded Makeda of when Kojak the cat stalked her as she cleaned, staring at her from across the room one moment, then pouncing at her ankles from beneath her the next.
The woman continued to stare, seemingly having no intention of blinking or need to do so. Sweat beaded on Makeda’s upper lip as the panic of sudden and incredibly inconvenient attraction overtook the adrenaline that had kicked in moments ago.
No. This wasn’t attraction of the sexual kind; it was just cleverly disguised as such, like it had been so many times in the past. Grandmore had her dreams that gave hints about the future, but Makeda had a help- y person’s intuition, and as she withstood the full blast of the woman’s attention, she understood that the tug she felt was actually a warning beacon from her inner watering can.
Chaos radiated from this stranger, the kind that appealed to Makeda’s innate urge to fix, and if she wasn’t careful it would suck her right in. Worse?
She’d like it.
“It’s been quite the adventure tracking you down. You’re not at all what I imagined,” the woman said matter- of- factly as she looked Makeda up and down. “Much shorter than expected of al-Hurradassi stock, and lacking in obvious menace. You’re about as intimidating as a sea snail.”
The woman hadn’t been staring because she liked what she saw, but because she was making a list of Makeda’s faults. Like Steph had. Like people had for most of her childhood. Like Makeda did to herself.
The woman whipped a cell phone out of her pocket, the movement so fast it was startling, and began taking pictures of Makeda. There was a kind of glee in her eyes that should have been off-putting but was somehow alluring—
No! Makeda mentally snapped at herself. Don’t let the chaos vibes pull you in.
“They didn’t exactly sanction this investigation, but the search team will be won over by this for sure. The Cinderella angle! Do you understand what an easy sell the Cinderella angle is?” She stopped taking pictures and squinted at Makeda. “Perhaps you do, which is why you rudely continued cleaning instead of coming to see who was at the door? Maybe you wanted me to find you toiling away?”
“I didn’t expect a stranger to break into my house just because I didn’t answer the door,” Makeda said, growing more frustrated as the situation continued to spin out of her control. Grandmore would have hustled this woman out of the house already but Makeda was letting the woman cha-cha slide over her doormat self.
“I didn’t break in. The door was unlocked.”
Makeda was fairly certain she’d locked the door behind her grandmother when she’d left for aqua aerobics. She narrowed her gaze. “Even if it was, most people have enough home training not to waltz in uninvited.”
“I do lack that,” the woman conceded. “And I apologize for insinuating that you were acting like something you weren’t. I can see that such artifice is beyond you. You truly are a shabby ragamufin.”
“Shabby? Ragamuffin?” Makeda looked down at the dolphin shorts and old T- shirt she was wearing, and then at the stranger. “You have some nerve coming in here with your 1920s insults, wearing a too-big Burlington Coat Factory sales rack suit.”
Beznaria shrugged, as if settling her jacket more comfortably. “There is no need to besmirch my fashion sense or my frugality, Ms. Hicks. I’m simply doing routine follow-up, and this will go much more smoothly if you comply.”
Makeda’s patience snapped. “What are you talking about? Why are you taking pictures of me? And who are you? Can you answer at least one of those questions?”
“Ah. Right. Proper introductions! I always forget the introduction, but to be fair, when I’m on a mission the goal is generally for the person I’m observing not to know who I am. This is a habit, and not a skill.”
“That’s... not making things any clearer,” Makeda said.
The stranger unbuttoned her jacket with one hand and reached for an inner pocket, then handed Makeda a card. “Here.”
Makeda snatched the card— as much of a snatch as she could muster, though it was more of a tug—and felt no more informed about what was going on after she read it than before.
WORLD FEDERATION OF MONARCHISTS
That last name seemed familiar for some reason.
“Great. Why are you here, Ms...” She glanced at the card again as the words printed in bold black letters penetrated through her confusion.
World Federation of Monarchists.
“…World Federation of Monarchists?” The words squeaked out of her throat, strangled by the realization that her grandmother had been uncharacteristically quiet on the Ibaranian royalty front after their talk four months ago. She’d never pressured Makeda about it, not even nudged, which Makeda had attributed to her newfound irritability, when in fact something else was far more likely.
Grandmore wouldn’t go behind my back. Well, yeah, she absolutely would.
“My name is Beznaria Chetchevaliere,” the woman corrected with clear amusement, pulling Makeda’s attention from the disbelief that was shifting to understanding. “The World Federation of Monarchists is the organization I work for. I’m taking pictures of you to add to the file I’m creating for you. You may not believe it, but stodgy old monarchists require reams of paperwork, and if I’m going to prove you’re a princess, we’re going to need an excessive amount of documentation.”
Makeda was generally not prone to panic, but at this sneak attack of what was, in a way, her worst nightmare, her mind blanked and she sprinted past the woman, heading out of the room.
Preorder How To Find A Princess and learn more about both books in the Runaway Royals series here!
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