Tag Archives: Claudie Arseneault

Exclusive Excerpt from City of Betrayal by Claudie Arseneault

Today on the site, we have an exclusive excerpt from Claudie Arseneault’s upcoming fantasy, City of Betrayal, releasing on October 22nd! If you’re not already in the know, this is the second book in the series; if you like what you see but haven’t read the first, you can grab it here on sale for only $2.99!

Please note that the blurb contains spoilers for book 1, so if you’re new to the series, you can skip right on past to the excerpt!

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The whole city is searching for Hasryan.
 
Lord Allastam wants to take bloody, ruthless revenge for the murder of his wife. Inspector Sora Sharpe wants to bring him to justice for his crimes against the city. Yet no one knows where to find him except Lord Arathiel Brasten, who vanished 130 years ago only to magically return.
 
While the city’s eyes are turned to these two, no one is willing to help Lord Diel Dathirii free Isandor from the influence of the Myrian Enclave and their vengeful leader, Avenazar. High Priest Varden Daramond could help Diel, except Varden has been imprisoned. Lord Dathirii’s only hope of rescuing Varden is Arathiel. An alliance with him, however, would invoke the wrath of the Golden Table… and Lord Allastam himself.
 
With enemies gathering around him, Diel is left without allies in Isandor’s upper spheres and must place his fate in Lower City residents. But little does he know, the city he’s trying to save might well save him in return.

Buy it: Major RetailersDirect from Author (Gumroad) | Paperbacks   

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And now, the excerpt!

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Diel’s happy humming always lightened Jaeger’s heart. It didn’t follow any known song, but simply filled their morning routine with joy, hovering in the air as they dressed. Listening to him, Jaeger could almost forget that their position in the city’s politics had worsened, not improved. But Arathiel had agreed to their dangerous plan and would soon join them, and Diel’s attempt to save Branwen’s friend would see the light, come what may.

This, however, did not completely explain why Diel seemed to float. Jaeger smiled and slipped behind his love as the other elf buttoned his doublet. He ran his fingers along the collar and folded it expertly, looking at the other through the mirror. A hundred thirty years ago, Diel had developed strong feelings for Arathiel, who had been House Brasten’s weapons master. Nothing had come out of it—Arathiel had barely noticed Diel, instead spending his time with Kellian—but it didn’t surprise Jaeger that this attraction had carried through decades.

Jaeger couldn’t resist this chance to tease. Diel’s crush on Arathiel had led to their first in-depth discussion of polyamory, and Jaeger knew the morning’s joy came from more than finally having a viable solution to their predicament. “I can’t remember the last time I made you sing like this.”

For a brief instant, Diel froze, then he threw his head back and laughed. “You’re not jealous. I know you better than that, and you know me better, too.”

“I do.” Jaeger ran his hand over Diel’s shoulder, leaning in closer. How often had Diel fallen in love with another through the decades? His heart shifted that way, expanding to greet the latest amazing person he’d met but never letting go of Jaeger. They had no secrets from one another, and when Diel wished for something more serious, he was the first to know. Jaeger often pushed him to act on it—faced with his love’s unaltered felicity, Jaeger could find no jealousy in himself. The occasional third angle to their relationship enriched his life, too. Even though Jaeger didn’t fall for most of them, he enjoyed the shifts in their dynamic and the special intimacy he often developed with them. Jaeger pulled the golden hair back a little to land a short kiss behind Diel’s ear. “I assume you’ll want to tell Branwen the good news.”

“Absolutely. I thought we might share breakfast.”

Diel examined himself once more in the glass, squaring his shoulders and taking a deep breath. The last few days had been hard on him, but the bags under his eyes had shrunk overnight. He glanced at the window, where the first sunlight filtered through white curtains. “It’s a bit early, but Aunt Camilla taught me all I need to know about strong teas. If you could go get Branwen? I’ll call someone to help me set the table.”

The request surprised Jaeger. Diel usually invited his niece and nephew himself while his steward readied everything. Could Diel manage the preparations? Jaeger bit his lip and withheld the question. An informal breakfast with Branwen didn’t require elaborate protocols, and while Diel might not know all the household servants by name, he didn’t need Jaeger to interact with them or get their help. Still, it bothered him that Diel had decided to reverse the roles, until he realized that at this hour, Branwen would be sound asleep and unwilling to wake.

“I see you are once again leaving me with the arduous task. Should I find armour? Alert Kellian we might have an incident on our hands?”

Diel pressed his lips together, trying his hardest not to laugh. After a playful shove to Jaeger’s shoulder, he schooled his expression and conjured some poor defence for his niece. “She’s not so terrible. Use the promise of good news as your shield and you’ll be fine.”

Jaeger grinned and saluted. “There are causes worth dying for,” he said before taking his leave.

Diel’s laugh followed him through the office and into the corridor, and Jaeger marvelled at how relaxed he was. He missed their brief banter—it vanished when Diel became anxious, and the Myrians spread his patience thin. Perhaps it was selfish of him, but the obvious impact this war had on Jaeger’s domestic life pushed him even more to stop Avenazar quickly and put an end to the stress and loss affecting the family. Jaeger wasn’t sure how they would see this through without the help of other Houses, but he trusted Diel to find a solution, even if it led them down less desirable pathways.

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Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Quebec City. Her long studies in biochemistry and immunology often sneak back into her science-fiction, and her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders. The start of her most recent series, City of Strife, came out on February 22, 2017! Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro and ace characters in speculative fiction, and her unending love of squids. Find out more on her website!

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From Flash to Epic: Ten Aromantic Stories Recommended by Claudie Arseneault

I am delighted to be here on LGBTQ Reads to perform one of my favourite activities: recommend aromantic fiction. This post contains recs for stories featuring at least one major aromantic characters, and I’ve read and enjoyed all of them. But since I like to spice things up a bit, all of these stories are presented in length order, covering a range from flash fiction to epic fantasy novels. Pick your favourite length, and enjoy!

  • Lemon & Salt by Claudie Arseneault

Flash fiction | Link | Spectrum Lit

Two aromantic spectrum singers renegotiate the shape of their queerplatonic partnership through an unique concert.

Why read it? It feels wrong to start with my own story, but if you’re looking for a free and quick read online featuring aromantic representation, this is a great place to start.

  • Backgame by Lev Mirov

Short story | Myriad Lands Volume II | Guardbridge Books

An aro-ace necromancer resurrects their best friend, a trans man, allowing them to continue both their friendship and their games.

Why read it? This is a powerful piece about the importance of friendship, second chances, and death. It’s also set in a fantasy Middle East city, and provides much needed rep for non-white aromantic characters.

Want more? I also recommended two aromantic short stories over at The Future Fire that are available online for free.

  • The Faerie Godmother’s Apprentice Wore Green by Nicky Kyle

Novelette (ish) | Link | LT3 Press

Louisa is a village girl dreading her coming wedding, but thankfully a dragon’s assault is delaying it. When Dea, an aro-ace dragon hunter, comes to town, Louisa’s life takes a strange new turn.

Why read it? Faerie Godmother twists fantasy tropes of dragons and princesses in new and interesting ways while developing a deep relationship between a lesbian and an aromantic women. This is *almost* the length of a novella.

  • The Trouble by Daria Defore

Novella | Link | LT3 Press

When Danny Kim, lead singer of a small indie band, discovers that his accounting TA is none other than the man he rudely hit on at his last show, he is mortified. Yet it doesn’t stop him from reaching out to Jiyoon, and Danny soon juggles music, classes, and his deepening relationship.

Why read it? Danny’s aromanticism is clearly established and not the source of tension through the story. Both leads are Korean-American, and the story has some adorable domestic scenes mixed in with the sex. And hey, it’s my only contemporary rec! (I read more SFF, if you couldn’t tell)

  • A Promise Broken by Lynn E. O’Connacht

Short Novel | Link | The Kraken Collective

Four-year-old Eiryn is dealing with the grief from her mother’s death, but she still wants to make everyone around her happy. Her aro-ace uncle, Arén, might not be the best parent, but he’s determined to protect her from accusations of upsetting the world’s balance.

Why read it? This is a quiet and powerful story that favours characters over plot, has incredible worldbuilding, and an absolutely lovely cast. Read also for the aromantic character who’s happy with his single life.

  • Good Angel by A. M. Bauslid

Novel | Link | Self-published

As a new angel, Iofiel must attend the angel-demon university. When she meets Archie, an imp bullied by his peers, she decides to change major for demon classes… and might have inadvertently triggered the Apocalypse in the process.

Why Read it? Beyond the delightful characters and queer universe? Iofiel frequently questions her asexuality and aromanticism throughout the story, and I cannot remember seeing another questioning ace or aro character on page.

  • The Lifeline Signal by RoAnna Sylver

Long Novel | Chameleon Moon Book 2 | Self-published

Three teenagers must cross a ghost-stricken wasteland on a motorcycle to deliver life-saving data to an airship and its crew.

Why Read it? For the absolute amazingness of Anh “Annie” Minh Le and her adaptive outfit: armour that doubles as braces for her hypermobility, an helmet to help manage sensory overload, and a jacket with shifting studs that can allow for more expression when she becomes non-verbal. You’ll need to read Chameleon Moon to fully appreciate The Lifeline Signal, but both are incredible work of positive queer and disabled representation.

  • An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows

Long Novel | Link | Angry Robot

When Saffron steps through a strange portal, she finds herself in the middle of political upheavals she can barely grasp. Thankfully, she has another world walker from Earth by her side: Gwen Vere, who is both aromantic and in a polyamorous relationship.

Why read it? Besides the neatly-woven tale of fantasy epic? An Accident of Stars depicts an older aromantic character confident about herself, who has built a family, and shows great care for Saffron and others.

Bonus Webcomics

Is prose a difficult medium for you? Several online webcomics also include aromantic representation and are available for free! Funnily enough, both of my recs have to do with fey.

Mistland is a fairly new webcomic by Laya Rose, one of my favourite artist out there, about “Es, a half fey girl from a small New Zealand town, suddenly gets caught up in the world of the sidhe – which are a whole lot closer than she realised.” The cast is almost exclusively arospec and acespec women!

Ignition Zero is a completed webcomic by Noel Arthur Heimpel, about a group of queer friends defending their fey companions, Ivory, and getting mixed up in fey and spirits! One of the main character is an aromantic man and in a queerplatonic relationship!

And there you go! Ten wildly different stories with aromantic characters for you to enjoy. I hope everyone can find something to their taste in there, and if you know other good stories with aromantic representation (especially contemporary!) please don’t hesitate to share with us!

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Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Québec City. Claudie is best known for the Aromantic and Asexual Characters in SFF Database and for her body of work, which features several ace and aro characters. Her latest novel, City of Strife, is the first of a political fantasy trilogy released in February. Find out more on her website!

5 SFF Stories Similar to Every Heart A Doorway, Featuring Asexual characters: a Guest Post by Claudie Arseneault & Lynn O’Connacht

I am so psyched today to bring you this guest post by asexuality authors and advocates Claudie Arseneault and Lynn O’Connacht, bringing some stellar recs for ace SFF. They’ve got plenty of wisdom on the subject between the two of them, so I’m just gonna tiptoe off and let them take it away! (But not before reminding you that you can obviously also find great ace stories by supporting these two authors; links to their websites are in their bios at the end of the post!)

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On August 11, 2017, Every Heart a Doorway, the most visible traditionally published story with explicit asexual representation won the Hugo Awards for Best Novella and, with it, a clean sweep of SFF’s most prestigious awards. Yet the discussions we’ve seen surrounding asexual representation in fiction since Every Heart a Doorway was published usually seem to ignore many great stories with asexual representation. There is so much more out there, and a lot of what’s out there is ownvoices.

Asexual indie and short story writers have been producing a wealth of stories involving ace spectrum characters for years now, and it’s always a pleasure to share their work. These are talented folks who tend to go unnoticed, but their stories are varied and gut-wrenching. We can only hope that the light shined on asexual representation by Every Heart a Doorway will reach other deserving authors.

As ace spectrum readers and indie author the idea that there are only a handful of books that include characters on the asexual spectrum out there hurts so much. True, there aren’t anywhere near as many as we would like, but there’s so much more out there than these discussions suggest. We’ve selected just five stories that we feel are similar to Every Heart a Doorway not just because they feature ace-spec characters, but also because we feel that the story has some overlap with narrative elements in McGuire’s novella. All of the authors on this list are ownvoices and somewhere on the asexual spectrum. We hope you’ll enjoy the books!

Nkásht íí by Darcie Little Badger is a short story rather than a novel or a novella, but if you’re looking for something that captures that sense of eeriness and creepiness that’s at the core of Every Heart a Doorway‘s mystery plot, you’ll love this. The story follows two Lipan Apache friends as they try to unravel the mystery behind a car crash, and the family a man lost in it. Josie, the narrator, is aromantic and asexual. If you wanted a more in-depth look at a ‘death world’ like Nancy visited, Nkásht íí also has you covered. It’s deliciously scary and invites rereading to gather more of what’s happening in the text.

The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey may seem like a strange book to recommend to readers of Every Heart a Doorway, as its heart is more caper-heist than gruesome mystery, but readers will find that the mystery Theo gets drawn into by his sister has some very dark undertones. Together, he and Bridget will have to discover who is the traitor who’s been abducting orphan children from the streets and why. Readers looking for a panromantic asexual lead in an established and adorable relationship will love the representation in this book. (Blogger’s Note: You can read an excerpt of The Traitor’s Tunnel here!)

Good Angel by A.M. Blaushild is a great pick if you were disappointed by the way Every Heart a Doorway stopped following Nancy’s attempts to adapt to life in our realm and make friends at school. In Good Angel, Iofiel is a newly created angel who goes off to university to become a guardian angel, but after deciding to help an imp with his studies, she finds herself unsure of her place in the world. Good Angel is the first novel in a humorous duology, and features a curious angel who isn’t quite sure where she fits onto the spectrums of asexuality and aromanticism. It features classes, studying and making friends with people who the environment of the school finds… a little less than ideal.

Stake Sauce by RoAnna Sylver is an urban fantasy webserial/novel and will appeal to readers of McGuire’s work in general. Like, Every Heart a Doorway it’s got several unexpected twists (which we won’t spoil, of course!). Jude is a demiromantic asexual former firefighter with PTSD, and no one believes him when he insists there are vampires about until he meets Pixie, an adorable punk vampire who needs help with bigger, meaner vampires. In turns weird, dark, and delightfully hopeful, Stake Sauce contains one secret ingredient… love. No, really!

The Stake Sauce webserial runs on Patreon and the full story will be released as an ebook on October 31, 2017.

Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari is a YA science fiction novel with two protagonists on the asexual spectrum. Nadin is asexual and sex-repulsed and Isaak is demisexual. We recommend this one for its at-times punch-in-the-gut representation of asexuality, and because much like Every Heart a Doorway it features teens trying to solve a mystery (a Mars archeology one!) and two distinct worlds, so if you enjoyed the idea of portal fantasy set forth this explores such a narrative in more depth. Nadin and Isaak are worlds and years apart, but when Isaak finds an ancient coin, they’ll have to work together to save both their planets.

And there you have it. Five stories that feature asexual characters just as prominently as Every Heart a Doorway does and that also have narrative overlap for you to enjoy. These aren’t all the asexual stories out there by a long shot. If you’d like a larger range of options or more detailed information on the representation in the stories we mentioned, check out Claudie’s database of asexual and aromantic characters in SFF. If you’d like non-SFF recommendations (or recs for games and tv/film as well) as well, there’s also Fuck Yeah Asexual’s database here. Happy reading!

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Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Québec City. Her stories focus on non-romantic relationships and often feature large queer casts. The latest, City of Strife, is the first of a political fantasy trilogy released in February. Find out more on her website!

Lynn O’Connacht has an MA in English literature and creative writing, but wouldn’t call herself an authority on either. She currently resides on the European continent and her idiom and spelling are, despite her best efforts, geographically confused, poor things. Her latest book is a companion collection to her asexual retelling of The Little Mermaid, Sea Foam and Silence. Find out more on her website!

LGBTQIAP+ Pride Month Sales

It’s Pride Month, which means a whole lot of LGBTQIAP+ books are on sale! (And some of them are just cheap year round. Basically, this post is a collection of stuff that’s under five bucks.)

Due to my personal life being a little hectic right now (*insert wave from very cute new baby*) I’m just throwing all categories and genres together in one post, but hopefully that’ll inspire people to find something brand-spankin’-new they might not have checked out otherwise!

(Please note I’m assembling this post nearly a week in advance of its going up. It’s possible some of the sale prices will no longer apply. Sorry about that if so.)

(Just about all links are Amazon Affiliate. Money earned via these links goes back into the site.)

Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver (f/f/f fantasy, $0.99)

Second Kiss and Double Exposure by Chelsea Cameron (f/f contemporary romance, $0.99)

Plastic Wings by C.T. Callahan (ace-spec Dystopian, $0.99)

In Memoriam by Nathan Burgione (m/m Fantasy, $0.99)

Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver (f/f Fantasy, $0.99)

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (f/f YA fantasy, $1.25)

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee (bi contemporary MG, $1.99)

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles (m/m historical romance, $1.99)

The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey (NA High Fantasy, $1.99)

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman (contemporary f/f Romance, $1.99)

HeartShip by Amy Jo Cousins (m/m Romance, $2.99)

Signal Boost by Alyssa Cole (m/m Post-Apocalyptic Romance, $2.99)

The Noble of Sperath by Siera Maley (f/f YA fantasy, $2.99)

Safe in Your Fire by Darien Cox (m/m PNR, $2.99)

Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde (contemporary m/nb romance, $2.99)

Wild by Hannah Moskowitz (bi m/f contemporary YA, $3.99)

Autumn by Cole McCade (m/m contemporary romance, $3.99)

Bliss by Fiona Zedde (lesbian erotica, $3.99)

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler (pan f/f contemporary NA, $3.99)

A Hundred Thousand Words by Nyrae Dawn (m/m contemporary NA romance, $3.99)

Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen (m/m contemporary romance, $3.99)

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (f/f historical fantasy, $4.99)

Small Change by Roan Parrish (bi m/f contemporary romance, $4.99)

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault (ace fantasy, $4.99)

Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell (contemporary m/m romance, $4.99)

The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper (contemporary f/f romance, $4.99)

Documenting Light by E.E. Ottoman (trans m/m romance, $4.99)

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon (contemporary f/f NA romance, $4.99)

Takeover by Anna Zabo (contemporary m/m romance, $4.99)

Poison Kiss by Ana Mardoll (f/f/m PNR, $4.99)

Hello World by Tiffany Rose and Alexandra Tauber (ace sci-fi, $4.99)