RELEASE DAY BLAST – EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT – Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree (Appalachian Elementals 1.5) by Jeanne G’Fellers – #Excerpt #Giveaway

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Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree by Jeanne G’Fellers

Jeanne G’Fellers has a new enby/pansexual queer paranormal fantasy book out today: Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree. Please join me in welcoming Jeanne to my blog where she’s generously sharing an exclusive excerpt with us!

Series: Appalachian Elementals (Book #1.5 – Not necessary to have read prior book)
Publisher: Mountain Gap Books
Cover Artist: Jeanne G’Fellers
Release Date: Monday, November 5 2018
Length: Novella / 22,350 words

Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy

Keywords/Categories: LGBTQ+; Nonbinary; Pansexual; Fantasy; Yule; Christmas; Holidays; Appalachian Fantasy; Contemporary Fantasy; Paranormal Fantasy; Family; Mental Illness; Appalachia; Granny Magic; Elemental Magic; Ghosts; Appalachian Mountains; Northeast Tennessee; Reincarnation; Witchcraft

Warnings: This novella broaches the subject of mental illness, specifically Schizophrenia, within families and the relationships struggles therein.

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Blurb

Mama Me and the Holiday TreeA dozen handmade holiday ornaments, that’s all, but it might be an impossible task.

Centenary Rhodes and her mother are at constant odds. It’s one of the many reasons Cent left home when she was eighteen. Mama’s difficult for anyone to manage, but now that Cent’s back home, she has to try. Mama, however, won’t acknowledge who Cent’s become, even though she’s repeatedly been shown the truth.

It’ll take more than popcorn strings and paper snowflakes to heal the rift that’s formed between Cent and Mama. It’s going to take bushels of patience, heaps of magic, and assistance from everyone on both sides of Embreeville Mountain to reset the Balance between them.

But with Yule and Christmas just around the corner, it might already be too late.

Join Cent and her Mother for a heart-warming, magic-filled holiday tale of acceptance, family of choice, family of blood, love, magic, and patience all served with a queer Appalachian twist.

Warnings: This novella broaches the subject of mental illness, specifically Schizophrenia, within families and the relationships struggles therein.

About the Series

Four elements plus one, four seasons, over a hundred lives – Centenary Rhodes has returned home to discover she isn’t who she thought. Join her on a journey through history, family of blood, family of choice, and love that renews. The mountains are alive, y’all, everything hinges on the Balance, and a little moonshine can cure what ails you in this identity-exploring, imaginative queer Contemporary Fantasy series steeped in Appalachian magic and folklore.

Mama Me and the Holiday Tree

Excerpt

Chapter One
A Cedar in the Corner

December 19, 2017: 5:30 p.m.

This is what I get for marrying an earth elemental. I stare with dismay at the dirt trail leading across the porch and through the front door. I don’t get rare gems or sparkling geodes placed lovingly at my feet by my elemental spouse. No, I get a cedar tree, bare roots caked with half-frozen mud, wedged into the living room corner.

Stowne’s dragged a holiday tree into our home while I was at work today.

“No one saw you do this?” I scratch my head as I consider the leaning mass of fern-like, scaly, sticky needles. “And I thought we’d talked about getting a tree tomorrow.”

“No one was here.” Stowne’s grinning ear to sandy ear. “It is a surprise. You have worked so hard lately that you have forgotten how close it is to Yule.”

Yeah, Yule. About that. This is my first Yule with Stowne. No, let me correct that. This will be my first Yule celebration this life, and they’re trying to make it special for me, so I can’t sound as upset as I’m feeling at present. “Two days. I know. Thanks, honey, but can we do something about the mess?”

“I’ve got it.” Stowne’s fire elemental friend, Pyre, rolls into the living room on a cloud of white smoke, and they’re holding the old half-barrel planter from beneath my Aunt Tess’ trailer’s back porch. “I found something to line it.” Pyre holds up a faded canvas tarp they’ve found Gods know where.

“Thank you.” Stowne’s smile still spans their face. They’re happy about this, about the tree in the corner, the leaky planter, and faded tarp, so I try my best to look happy too. “Go to the kitchen, relax, and drink some coffee, Centenary. Pyre and I will finish setting up the tree.”

“Sure.” I tuck my messenger bag under my arm and head to the kitchen, where Rayne is waiting for me, an earthenware mug of steaming coffee in their translucent, watery hands. Water elementals make wonderful coffee, by the way. Rayne claims the secret is spring water filtered through their form, and I’ve no reason to doubt them.

“Stowne’s really excited about the tree.” Rayne gives me the mug and takes my bag, setting it on the kitchen table. It’s a huge piece of well-loved furniture, a good eight-foot-long trestle, and handmade from American Chestnut, a species that’s widely considered extinct. “They’ve been looking for the perfect one since Samhain.”

“They have?” Who knew there was so much to Yule? Certainly not me, at least that I can remember. See, I’ve got this whole multiple-lives thing I’m sorting through. Most of those lives, I’ve been with Stowne, and I remember a lot, but some issues, like their excitement over holidays, have eluded me. I’ve been reading about different Yule traditions online and in the stack of magical books I left behind, but I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface, and I’ve been asking Stowne questions every night while we cuddle in bed. “They’ve gotten excited every sabbat and esbat since we’ve been together, but they seem even more excited about Yule. Why is that?”

“You don’t remember?” Rayne shifts the lower portion of their form to what resembles flowing blue pants, making it easier for them to sit. “You’ve celebrated Yule with Stowne for centuries, and during your last two lives, you actually let them bring in a tree every year as long as it could be replanted afterward.”

“Yeah, Stowne told me.” I sip my coffee then rise from the table in search of the quart of cream we keep in the homestead’s old Kelvinator fridge. “But that doesn’t explain why they’re so happy.” I add three heaping teaspoons of sugar to my cup, deep in thought as I stir. I remember that Stowne and I built this homestead together in the early nineteenth century. That version of me was Irish and desperate for a home that resembled Ireland, and this place certainly looks like pictures I’ve seen. My motivations might change each life, but I’m in many ways the same, and I always try to come here, to reach Stowne and this mountain. That’s what I’m told, anyway, but I don’t actually know.

My heart, however, says this is correct.

Here’s the thing about me and my memories. This life, I left Northeast Tennessee when I was eighteen years old. Actually, I didn’t just leave, I ran. I ran from my mother and her chronic mental illness, from everyone I thought wouldn’t accept me as genderqueer, from the magic I wasn’t ready to understand, from the looming pile of memories I’m now sorting through. But mostly, I ran from myself. Now I’m back, and I’m trying to cram three thousand years into my head, but I sometimes think space is running out.

“Stowne loves every sabbat, but especially Yule.” Rayne shrugs hard enough to fling water across the table top. “Oops.”

“It needs cleaned anyway.” I return with a dishrag, sitting across from Rayne as I wipe up. “Why Yule?”

“It represents rebirth.” Rayne stares at me with their blue eyes wide and one pale, translucent brow cocked, the look they always give me when I should be remembering something. “Re-birth.” Their stare becomes hard.

“Oh.” I bite my bottom lip to hide my embarrassment. Sure, rebirth. My rebirth. Stowne sees Yule as a chance to celebrate my return to Embreeville Mountain. I’m almost thirty years old, a tiny blip in the grand scheme of time and infinitely younger than Stowne, even when you add all my lives together, but they want to celebrate like it’s something new. More so this year because it’s our first Yule together as eternal lovers.

Yeah, I’m immortal now too, but that’s a story for some other time.

“So…” I take a deep breath and scratch beneath my undercut at the stubbly hair that’s already growing back. “What do I need to do?”

“Act happy and don’t get in their way.” Rayne takes the dishrag to the old enamel sink, wrings it out, and drapes it over the side before turning to face me. “All elementals love the Winter Solstice, what you call Yule. Even death elementals like Exan. But you don’t remember that either, do you?”

“Afraid not.” I finish my coffee and go to the sink to stand beside Rayne, looking out the window to where the mountain rises behind the house in shades of tired brown splashed with winter evergreen. “I wish I did.” And I really do. It might help me to understand all this. “It’s like Christmas, isn’t it? I mean they’re similar, right?”

“In some ways, yes. But others…” Rayne shakes their head, this time slinging water from their deep blue locks. “Drains and dribbles. I’ll call it back.” They chant low, drawing the water to their form, smiling as it disappears into their bare, puddling feet. “I think you need a holiday refresher.”

“A refresher?” The house smells like cedar so I breathe deep. It’s not a bad smell. In fact, it’s fresh, clean, and familiar. Yes, I remember having a tree in this house before and Stowne’s joy each time. “Are you going to tell me about all those holidays?”

“You’ll do best to remember for yourself.” Rayne smiles as they glide toward the living room. “That tree needs water.”

~

☆ Exclusive Excerpt ☆

It’s almost eight in the morning and I’m sitting on the porch, wrapped in two quilts, beside Exan, who’s dressed in a full tux and tails, the bowtie undone because… why not? “I get tired of trying to manage her.” I shiver when Exan squeezes my shoulder but more from the damp chill than anything else. Exan is Mama’s second parent, the first being my grandma Roslyn. Death making life isn’t supposed to happen, so they were both punished. Stowne says Grandma Roslyn’s been reborn, which is a relief, but… I didn’t know what’d happened until this past summer and only met Exan a few months ago. A death elemental makes a wonderful grandparent. Exan’s a Zen, almost hippie-vibed spirit minus the tie-dye. Their patience is unending, and they like to listen.

“You’re cold.” Exan sends a burst of warming energy into me.

“Thank you.”

“I know your mother is difficult, but she’s here, which means you’re here.” Exan looks at me, pale and a little gaunt but happy by their smile. Our feet dangle over the porch’s edge, mine in fuzzy slipper socks, Exan’s fading out before the toes of their ghostly wingtips. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know you both.” They pause to draw a breath they don’t need. “You and Nida have a troubled history to overcome.”

“I don’t think I can get past it.” Mama bounced me around when I was growing up, changing my school every time she found a new boyfriend and going off the psychological deep end whenever her meds stopped working. Aunt Tess and my late Uncle Kinnon took care of me every time Mama was hospitalized, and Tess was more of a mother than Mama ever was, so why… “But I’ll try since y’all think it’s so important.”

“Good.” Exan’s smile broadens as they point to where the sun peeks over the eastern mountains. It’s a weak, winter sun, and it’s so close to the Solstice, to Yule, that it rises late, so late that Aubrey bursts out the front door still pulling on his coat.

“I’m gonna start behind schedule!” He ruffles my hair and waves at Exan. “See ya!”

“Your things!” Rayne manifests on the porch holding his stethoscope, lunch bag, and travel coffee mug.

“Thanks, honey.” Aubrey kisses Rayne and turns to point at me. “Play nice today.”

I stick out my tongue at him. It seems I’m doing that a lot anymore. “Go to work, cuz.”

“I’ll be at my pool if anyone needs me.” Rayne dissolves into a fog that drifts off the porch and up the hill.

“Color me gone!” Aubrey waves as he trots to his truck.

“Later alligator.” I try to catch his attention when I see he’s left his mug on his roof again, but Exan catches it before it hits the ground, floating it to the porch and my waiting hand.

“Thanks.” I take a sip before I remember Aubrey likes his coffee without sugar. “Yuck.”

“To each their own.” Exan’s gaze returns to the sun. “Looks like a good day for renewing family bonds.”

“Et tu, Exan?”

“My stubborn grandchild needs to listen for once.”

“I don’t know how to broach the topic of…” I point to my back.

“You’ll find a way.” Exan reaches into their jacket pocket, pulling out a small paper bag with a folded top. “I saw Ivan before you came out. He asked me to give you this.”

I take the bag and look inside. “Mama’s medicine?”

“Her morning and afternoon doses. Ivan said he marked each baggie.”

“All right.” I set the bag beside me. I’m Mama’s keeper today, and Ivan’s getting a respite. Guess he needs one.

We watch the sunrise in silence, whole and quarter magic arm-in-arm, and we’re watching natural magic unfold before us as light spills across the river flat below, coating the frosty ground and softly-flowing Nolichucky river with new warmth.

There are moments when I wonder why I ever left Tennessee, and this morning is one of them.

Meet the Author

AUTHOR PHOTO - Mama Me and the Holiday Tree - Jeanne GFellers

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 her father and reading the books her 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 her spouse and their 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://www.twitter.com/jlgfellers

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/106949.Jeanne_G_Fellers

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jeanne-gfellers/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jeanne-GFellers/e/B01N0YWCT7/

Giveaway

Jeanne is giving away two eBook copies of the first book in the series, Cleaning House, with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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