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cecilia tan

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: The Siren and the Sword, by Cecilia Tan

I know Cecilia Tan via the Outer Alliance mailing list, and so when she put out a call for help promoting a title she’d re-acquired rights to, I told her, sure, send me something for Boosting the Signal! So this is another out-of-band post, a bit delayed since I’m still neck-deep in editing and also in Canada this week. However, here’s Cecilia’s post for The Siren and the Sword. Her protagonist’s goal? Make it through his first year of a secret magical university hidden in Harvard–and deal with both his emerging bisexuality and his emerging magic.

This piece is an excerpt from the book, and lays down the beginnings of both of these goals. Check it out, and if you go check out Cecilia’s book, tell her Boosting the Signal sent you!


The Siren and the Sword

The Siren and the Sword

From The Siren and the Sword: Magic University Book One by Cecilia Tan

Another student came up to their table in the dining hall, a pale-skinned boy with black hair. Kyle stared as the newcomer slid his hands over Michael’s shoulders and Michael tilted his face upward for a quick kiss of greeting.

They made almost a matched pair, though Michael’s cheeks were a little rosier and his hair like straight silk, while the other’s curled in small black tendrils. “Who’s your new friend?”

Michael kept looking up at his friend. Boyfriend, Kyle corrected in his mind. “His name is Kyle Wadsworth. Seems to be a bit of a late bloomer.”

The newcomer extended a hand to Kyle, who shook it. “Frost. Timothy Frost.” Had his hand felt cooler than Kyle expected? Or was it— “Frost, like…”

“Robert Frost, yes. Hmm, Wadsworth, eh?”

Michael shook his head and spoke as if he’d read Frost’s mind. “He hasn’t been assigned a house yet. Or shown any magical aptitudes.”

“That is curious,” Frost said, moving away from Michael and taking the empty seat on the other side of Kyle. “No party tricks? No visions?”

Kyle opened his mouth to say “No, I…” then stared in disbelief as Frost snapped his fingers and a few fronds of some kind of plant appeared in the palm of his hand. He opened Kyle’s limp hand and dropped them into his palm.

“You seem less than impressed?” Frost’s eyes were ice blue.

“I, um, I’ve never seen anything like that before…?” Kyle stammered.

“Not a botanist either, I would guess,” Frost said with a sniff. He snapped his fingers again and Kyle jumped as the long fuzzy stalks in his hand suddenly developed ice crystals.

“How did you do that?” Kyle said, too amazed to worry about the sneer Frost was giving him.

“He invoked his Name,” Alex said with a dismissive wave. “Yeah, I’d call that one a party trick, Frost.”

Frost shrugged. “I’ll always be able to prove who I am though, won’t I? Put your eyes back in your head, Wadsworth. If they fall on the floor, they’ll get dusty.”

“How many times did the bell ring for you, Frost? Once?” Alex said, a toothy smile on his face.

Frost’s pale cheeks reddened, but he didn’t say anything in return. He stood smoothly and returned to standing behind Michael’s chair, running his hand over Michael’s silky dark hair possessively.

Michael looked up at him again. “Fourteen,” he said.

“Are you sure?”

“According to Kimble, anyway.”

Frost’s eyes narrowed. “The cards will decide,” he said with a shrug. “I’ll see you later, darling.” They exchanged another very quick kiss, then Frost left.

The two girls were glaring daggers at his Frost’s back as he went and that made Kyle feel a bit better. “Honestly, Michael, I don’t know what you see in him,” one of them said.

Michael shrugged. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Apparently not. But really, fourteen? Kyle, that’s amazing.” She had wavy red hair with blond highlights and reached across the table to shake his hand. “My name’s Marigold, but I can’t make marigolds come out of my ass.”


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