QSFer Jean-Paul Whitehall has a new MM Fantasy anthology book out:
Our Lady of the Axe
In a Regency England where magic used to be real, Eleanor, her dear friend Diana, and three young girls are kidnapped. It will take all of Eleanor’s strength and courage, plus a magical axe and cleavage (not that kind) to set them free, and foil the man behind the kidnapping.
Will a mistake about meaning make a mess for Tommy and Vince? Or maybe lead to something more?
The Plan That Didn’t Gang Aft Agley
Jack’s plans have a tendency to go way agley. He hopes his special plan for Billy at football practice is the one that won’t.
Family Be Damned
Look for the two Br’er Rabbit moments. One: She wasn’t unhappy Tommy got paid to take her to the eighth grade dance. She even slipped him $25 to agree. Two: Her mom made her older brother take her to the dance. The $50 she paid him was just a sisterly bonus.
The Raven Prince
Sixteen-year-old Mike hopes he can blend in at his new school. Except he’s short, slender, goth-looking with the shiny black hair, black eyes and thick lashes, wears an elegant suit and tie, and drives a Mercedes convertible. He’s also gay, a raven shifter in a human school and eventually he has to be the Raven Prince.
Standing up to the bullies who rule the school-Preacher’s Son, Banker’s Son, Sheriff’s Son, Principal’s Daughter-isn’t blending in. When the Four can’t get to Mike, they go after him through his best friend, Johnny, the devoutly straight wrestling star who doesn’t care about the gay thing.
If Johnny is hurt, will it take the Raven Prince to get justice? Raven justice?
100% of the author’s royalties will be donated to a local LGBT youth organization.
I remember…being on my knees in the hallway
I gave them what they expected to see, what the rest of the silent observers couldn’t help but expect from slender, locker-slammed me. A somewhat shaking hand pressed against a locker for more leverage in getting up. A struggle to stand. A struggle to breathe. A struggle too serious to pay attention to what I knew to be brilliant blood running down my face from the side of my head.
Most of it was fakery, but there was still pain in various parts of my body.
I gave them some shaky breaths, wondering if Banker’s Son would take the bait of my silence.
Banker’s Son: “I don’t think I forgot anything, Nelson.”
“You forgot to say, ‘Excuse me.’”
He did. He really said, “Excuse me?”
“I might, if you said it right. But sorry, Banker’s Son, it doesn’t work if there’s a question mark at the end.”
“What the fu—”
I cut him off and used the tone you use with a not-bright child, or a willfully dumb one. “When you knock someone down and injure them—” I paused to glance at the ripped knee of my slacks and reached up to use my fingers to wipe the cut and the streaks and hold them out, showing how bright, bright red my fingertips were “—it’s customary to apologize. The customary words are ‘excuse me’ with a period at the end.”
More interruptions. If it weren’t for the pain, it would have been much more fun than it was. My next words weren’t shouting loud, but I didn’t have to be in the quiet surrounding us. “I hope you weren’t going to say you don’t have anything to apologize for. It would make it sound like you intended to knock me down and hurt me.”
I gave him a chance, but with a quick look at his comrades in crime he kept his mouth shut. Still in the mode used for lecturing a stupid student, I asked, “Remember the word ‘battery’? I thought we covered this. Unwanted, offensive touching? It’s both a crime and something I can sue you over. If this wasn’t an accident.”
They knew I was bluffing about a crime. No way the sheriff would arrest Banker’s Son because a skinny little fairy boy got busted up a bit. The rest? Elections weren’t far off and unfavorable publicity wouldn’t help. Plus, there was the uncertainty of a civil suit, no matter how much power their fathers had.
Light dawned with no thunder at all.
Bullies aren’t popular, no matter how much they get away with. There might be some, might be a lot, of parents on the jury whose children the non-Fab Four had hurt, or being childless, have friends with children who’d been targeted. They might set a record with a one-minute jury deliberation, followed by all of them coming back to the jury box, and going all Red Queen on the ass of Banker’s Son.
“Excuse me.” His voice was low and tight, and if he didn’t already hate me for no reason at all, other than…well, because of everything I was…I might have been concerned I’d given him a reason.
“Well, then, everything’s all right,” I said, louder and full of good cheer. “So do I send the bill for the new slacks to your dad, or you?” Before he could answer, I brought my left hand up and across my face to swipe across the unseen and now healed cut beneath my hair, and held it out, palm up to show him—them—there was nothing on it. “All clotted, so no need to make you pay for a doctor’s visit.”
More gritted teeth. I doubted I’d have the luck for him to need a dentist. “Me.”
“Good, good. I’ll bring it to you here at school.” I do the annoying version of chipper and cheery very well. “Well, see ya. Have to get to class. They don’t like ‘late’ around here.”
They didn’t try the boy-girl-boy wall to block my way, so it was easy to get around. But as I walked, I heard a snicker.
A small snicker. Hesitant. Hushed right away.
It wasn’t one of theirs.
From a little snicker, great candy bars grow.
Jean-Paul is, as they say, older than dirt. The stories in The Raven Prince collection are the first YA he’s written, although he’s been reading YA since well before it was well-known genre. He’s been a Tamora Pierce addict pretty much as long as she’s been writing. He has some YA stories in progress, like “Prospero’s Zipper” and “The Day After” but has no idea when another collection might be ready. He lives in the Midwest with his rescue dogs-the elderly Peke (Max), and Australian Shepherd mix (Lucky Dog)-and the recent addition of a younger Rottweiler mix (Rocky).