Today I am so pleased to welcome Katey Hawthorne to Joyfully Jay. Katey has come to talk to us about her latest release, Heart Wood. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

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Exclusive Excerpt

Once they were ensconced in a very cozy cottage indeed, Hendrik stood in a doorway, running his hand over the smooth-polished wood over and over. When Dagan entered the room, Hendrik looked up and flushed, as if he were doing something strange.

“What is it?” Dagan ventured.

“I’ve never seen so much wood in my life. Doorways and windows and expensive things are made of it, in the City. Here it’s everything. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it.”

Dagan threw himself onto a comfortable lounger with a high back and a long couch for his legs. “Perhaps we take it for granted. But it is our world: the trees, their wood, their fruit and nuts. There’s no us without them.”

“I don’t think you take it for granted.” Hendrik leaned against the door jamb with one hip, then, turning to face him. “You’re teaching me not to, either.”

Dagan’s breath caught a little, at that. “Am I really?”

Hendrik nodded.

“You’re too sweet.” Dagan sighed. “Do you want to go out for a drink tonight? Or would you prefer a quiet night in? You were dreamy and content in the forest, but now you seem edgy.”

“Do I?” Hendrik snorted. “I’m…I still wish we could just keep going.”

Dagan nodded, a sense of pride and pleasure welling up in his middle. “You’re welcome to move on with me, once we’re no longer needed here. I can take you to Oak Grove Conservancy, or Black Walnut if you want to meet my incredibly obnoxious family, first.”

“Would you really?” Hendrik smiled.

“Why not?”

“You don’t have to go back out scouting?”

“I’ve been out for an entire moon; I’m entitled to my own time now. Didn’t you ever have a few weeks off guarding?”

He shook his head. “Never. Hardly even a day.”

“How dreadful. Well, now you do, so consider what you want to see, and I’ll gladly show you.”

“What about your life? Your family and friends. Lovers.”

“I’ll introduce you.” Dagan waved vaguely. “We’ll get you started collecting your own.”

“Not much of a collector.” Hendrik’s smile went lopsided. “Not like you.”

Dagan sighed and leaned back, perhaps a little dramatically. “In truth, sweetheart, I never know if I’m collecting or being collected. But don’t tell anyone I said it; I have an image to maintain.”

“Which would you prefer?” Hendrik came into the room and sat on a nearby cushioned stool. “To collect or to be collected?”

A little surge of excitement rushed through Dagan, at that. He knew this mood, when Hendrik wanted to settle in for a good, long conversation. He adored it. “Well, I’d rather have a choice in the matter, but I suppose I do either way.”

“Choice is such a big part of life here,” Hendrik said. “And you say you enjoy it. But then, you say things like that, and I wonder how much you do things just because you can or because it’s easy. Not because you really want to.”

Oh, now that was interesting. Dagan sat up a little, fixing his gaze on Hendrik intently. “Do go on.”

“You’re different in the settlements than you are out there, in the wilds.”

“Yes,” Dagan agreed with a little hum. “That’s part of why I chose scouting, too. The freedom.”

“Freedom from what?”

“From other people,” Dagan replied quickly.

“I know you don’t always want to be around them.” Hendrik laughed. “But you love other people. You want them to love you.”

“True,” Dagan allowed. “But caring so much about everyone else’s opinion of me is exhausting. You yourself said I couldn’t be on all the time.”

“But you’re no less yourself when you’re on. Or when you’re off. Neither feels like the real you or the fake you,” Hendrik reasoned. “I thought at first one must be, but I don’t think so, anymore.”

Dagan considered this in something of a shocked silence. Finally, he admitted, “No, you’re right. It isn’t fake. It’s fun. But, yes, exhausting is also the word.”

“Do you think of the flirty Dagan as the other you?”

That didn’t add up, though, did it? His entire personality had been built around pleasing people, around being what everyone saw in him or wanted to see. How could that part of him, that came alive in the presence of others, that basked in their energy, affection, and attention, be other?

But how could the side of him that woke happy in the forest, that listened to the mycelial networks in the soil and tracked bucks to be sure the herds were happy and healthy be other either? Wasn’t that his heart and soul, as much as anything else?

“Can’t I be both?” he asked.

“That’s my point,” Hendrik said. “You are. And somehow it’s not a contradiction. I’m not sure how in all the hells you do it, but you make it look so…” He shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“Well, now I have to know.” Dagan sat up and swung his legs over the side of the lounge. “You can’t leave me like that.”

“You’re—you barely come up to my shoulder, but you could kick my ass in a fair fight. You naturally make everyone you meet feel important, but then you try too hard to make them like you. You’re fearless in the face of every single thing the forest throws at you but call yourself a coward. You’re a deadly stalker and hunter, but you’re gentle and so kind to all the animals you meet. You’re this jumble of things that don’t go together, and it’s—” Hendrik exhaled deeply and suddenly, like a sigh but supremely frustrated.

Dagan suddenly knew what it was like to be field dressed by a hunter: skinned, opened up, divested of his organs, and carved up into neat little pieces. It ought to have been a terrifying, hollow thing; indeed, a great, gaping hole in the center of him had just been revealed. But Dagan couldn’t resist the urge to stare directly into it. “Go on,” he said quietly. “You’re perfectly accurate, so far. I’d love to hear the end.”

“It’s fucking beautiful,” Hendrik said finally.


Blurb

heart wood coverThe Stone City and the Heart Wood: uneasy neighbors separated by the Blue Bird River. In the City, Hendrik is about to lose the only life he’s ever known, the only love he’s ever wanted. In the Wood, corruption threatens the carefully cultivated ecosystem and Dagan’s way of life. Two worlds, fated to collide at last.

It could be the end. Or a new beginning.

This version includes the prequel, The Verders.


Bio

katey hawthorne graphicKatey Hawthorne loves queer romance. Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Pittsburgh with her family of one other human and many furry creatures. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, comic books, B-movies, loud music, video games, Epiphones, and Bushmills. Her favorite causes include animal rescue and bisexual representation in media. She is an unashamed fangirl and collects nerdy tattoos like she’s trying to prove it.

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Heart Wood, Katey is giving away a $10 Book Voucher to the store of your choice! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!

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