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shawna reppert

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Raven’s Heart, by Shawna Reppert

Prior Boosting the Signal guest Shawna Reppert is the featured author for today’s second Boosting the Signal catchup post. If you enjoyed Shawna’s previous posts about her Ravensblood urban fantasy series–or better yet, if you enjoyed the previous books–then you’ll be pleased to see she’s come back with an excerpt from Book 3, Raven’s Heart, available now! And if you’ve read Book 1, you’ll be able to tell very quickly that Raven’s goal here ties right back to the events of that story. Because his goal is very simple: take down a very, very bad person.


Raven's Heart

Raven’s Heart

From the Author: In this excerpt, William has just killed a clerk at Raven’s favorite bookstore, although it’s likely that the intended victim was the bookstore owner, Raven’s friend Josiah. Raven, together with his fiancé Cassandra and two Guardians, is trying to figure out who the next targets might be, and how they will ultimately deal with William.


It took Raven a moment to realize that Ramirez was asking for a list of his friends. Once, it would have taken a significant and believable threat of force before he allowed such an invasion of his privacy. Once, the list would have been either incredibly short, or non-existent.

“Cassandra, of course,” he said.

“Of course,” Ramirez agreed.

His tone said don’t treat me like an idiot. Despite the grimness of the conversation, Raven managed a half-smile.

“Sherlock,” he added after a moment’s thought. “But they are less likely to go after either of them, at least until they have run out of easier targets. The same goes for Ana. She taught William’s father a healthy dose of caution in the Mage Wars, and William will not have forgotten.”

Though in other respects, Ana would be a prime target, both as Cassandra’s aunt and as the person responsible for negotiating a pardon for Raven in exchange for his betrayal of William. The thought of Eric picking off the people close to him left him with a sick feeling deep in his gut.

“Other than that, it’s hard to say. It depends on how much William knows about my associates. He’s almost certainly the one behind this, with Eric just his trained attack dog. The fact that Josiah was the first targeted suggests that he is going after personal, not professional contacts, but he might not limit himself. I usually have dinner with Madeline Love at least once when she is performing in town.”

“Madeline Love?” Donovan asked.

“Opera singer,” Raven said. “Famous in the arts and culture community. I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of her.”

“Stop baiting my partner.” Ramirez said it in the same tone one might use to request someone to stop leaving the door open as it caused a draft. “Anyone else? Chuckie?”

“Maybe. We’ve worked together a few times. And of course he was instrumental in helping me prove my innocence in the theft of the Ravensblood.”

“Of course.” Ramirez’s eyes darted away.

Raven had no interest in flogging the man for past crimes; Ramirez did a good enough job of it himself. “As to others, he might target other GII members of the Wing who worked with me last year. He thought a moment longer. “The MacLeans. I would worry about them more if they weren’t all in Australia. Neither Mick nor his boys are easy targets, not by a long shot, but I’m not sure William would know that. However, I doubt William and Eric are going to travel half-way around the world to prove their point.

“Then there are any number of agents of GII I’ve worked with. It might be easier to get the list from Sherlock than rely on my memory. Generally, I am more interested in solving the puzzle than paying attention to the people around me.”

“Why does that not surprise me?” Donovan sniped.

Raven merely smiled as though he had been complimented, deliberately baiting the man. “Then there’s the handful of agents from the pub nights Chuckie finally dragged me to.”

“Pub nights?” Ramirez raised an eyebrow, clearly amused.

“Yes, well.” Now it was his turn to look away. “There were only the two times. Three maybe. Because Chuckie insisted.”

And because he could not deny his debt to the annoyingly cheerful geek mage that Cassandra had somehow managed to end up with as a partner. And because Chuckie did grow on one, though Raven would die before he admitted it.

Ramirez barely stifled a chuckle. “I’m just trying to picture you in a pub. Doesn’t GII usually hang out at the Barley Mill?”

“Usually, yes. If I am to accompany them, however, I insist on the Blue Moon. Though both are, I understand, owned by the same brothers, the Blue Moon has a certain understated elegance that I find acceptable.”

Ramirez shook his head. “Corwyn Ravenscroft in a MacMenamin’s pub. Will wonders never cease.”

“I believe we are straying somewhat from the topic,” Raven said.

“Yes, right. I’ll get the list of agents who worked cases you consulted on from Sherlock. And I’m guessing that Chuckie has a better idea of who was at those pub nights. Just in case they do decide to go after your drinking buddies.”

Ramirez said the last phrase with particular relish. Raven suspected he would be hearing about this for a long time to come.

“The thing we need to do is find William and Eric,” Raven said. “Rather than sitting around twiddling our thumbs and wondering when they are going to strike next.”

“You have any ideas on how to do that, you just let me know,” Ramirez said.

“I doubt he’s had the time to build the strength and resources for a hidden sanctuary like he had before.” Raven said. “My guess is that he’s holed up somewhere in North Portland. If I only could have managed a clearer trace on Eric’s teleport.” He ground his teeth in frustration.

“I’ll get Chuckie doing a search for any homes in the area with ownership that might trace back to William or Eric Blanchard,” Cassandra said. “If the Archmage was clever enough to hide his ownership through holding companies and the like, I wouldn’t put it past William.”

“What I want to know,” Ramirez said, pinning Raven with his gaze, “is can you take him?”

Beside him, Donovan made a choked noise of protest.

“The man is too dangerous to hold.” Ramirez answered Donovan’s objection, but his eyes were still on Raven. “We both know it. I doubt anyone on the Joint Council is going to call for an inquiry if William winds up dead rather than in custody.”

Raven rather doubted it as well. The Pro Tem Archmage had been on the front lines during the Mage Wars and had seen up close and personal what a mage like William could do. Mother Crone, with her Craft practicality, would weigh the greater good over rhetoric and the Mundane President was justly terrified of what would happen to his community if William ever achieved the rule absolute that was his goal.

Or that had been his goal the last time around. He lacked the power base now to achieve such a goal; surely even William in his madness must see that. This time, he must be after pure revenge. Which might make him even more dangerous, since he had little left to lose.

Ramirez leaned forward, deadly serious now. “My question remains. Can you take him?”

On one hand, he had the Ravensblood. And William might still be badly weakened from their last encounter.

On the other hand, William had had several years to recover. And Raven had barely won the last time.

He gave them the only answer he could. “Gods, I hope so. For all our sakes.”


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Here Be Magic Boxed Set, by Various Authors, Post No. 1

Welcome to the first of the special Boosting the Signal run of posts featuring the Here Be Magic boxed set! This is a digital release put out by the blogging group I’m in, Here Be Magic. And while I’m not actually in this boxed set myself, I wanted to give it some signalboosting love, so I invited the participating authors to send me pieces to promote the release. The first of these is from previous Boosting the Signal guest Shawna Reppert, whose story in the set is from her Ravensblood universe. Raven’s Song is set between books 1 and 2 of that series. If you’ve read Book 1, you might have a good idea already of what her protagonist’s goal is: to prove that he is capable of goodness. Here’s Corwyn Ravenscroft on that very topic!


Here Be Magic Boxed Set

Here Be Magic Boxed Set

I thought the hard part was over.

No, I can’t say that. It is over. I would never want to live those last dark months again. Watching William descend further and further into blood-soaked madness, terrified all the time that he would discover my duplicity. Terrified that he would win, and that all of the Three Communities would be forced into the hell that his followers had walked into of their own accord. Betraying both my master and my students to keep that from happening, never knowing whether I was buying back my soul or damning it further.

At the risk of tempting fate, I will say that nothing I face again in my life could be worse than those months.

But at least then I fought with weapons I knew. My skill with magic, which is both my birthright and my life’s study. The guile and dissembling gleaned from years of survival within William’s inner circle.

I confess that I hadn’t had any thought then of what lay on the other side of defeating William and gaining my pardon. Perhaps, deep down, I hadn’t expected to survive. In my darkest moments, I hadn’t believed I deserved to.

Now here I am, back in the world. A free citizen. With an agent of Guardian International Investigations for a lover, gods help us both.

I’ve been a dark mage for all of my adult life, minus the last half-year or so. I’m not sure I know how to be anything else. ‘Normal’ isn’t as easy as it looked from the outside. I can pick up the piano again, easily enough. There’s sheet music to remind me of where my fingers go. I can find no guide to making acquaintances not built on alliances and advantage.

As far as anything beyond acquaintance, well… Under William’s tutelage I learned how to seduce, when urge or occasion arose. When the mood struck, I’ve allowed myself to be seduced. When it comes to the sort of long-term relationship that normal people have, the sort based on love and trust and honesty, I can only say that I’m willing to try, for Cassandra’s sake. For my own sake, to be truthful, because I can’t imagine walking into this new life without her at my side.

There are still plenty of people waiting for me to fail. To smile and nod and tell each other that they knew it all along. That there’s no way that a Ravenscroft could be anything other than dark.

I refuse to prove them right. Not only because I can be as arrogant and stubborn as I’ve often been accused of being. But because I’ve fought too hard for this new life to let it go. I have far too much to lose.

And because there are a small number of people who believe that I might succeed. And they matter more.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Where Light Meets Shadow, by Shawna Reppert

I’ve had fellow Here Be Magic and NIWA member Shawna Reppert on Boosting the Signal before, with her book Raven’s Wing. Shawna’s got a new release out, the m/m fantasy Where Light Meets Shadow, chock full of things which are Highly Relevant to My Interests: music, elves, and queer-friendly fiction! Because I mean honestly, a fantasy novel involving a romance between elven bards? It might as well be subtitled Put This In Anna’s Eyes Now. And if you’re in the same boat with me, meet her hero Kieran, whose goal is nothing less than the saving of his people through song. Sign me up.


Where Light Meets Shadow

Where Light Meets Shadow

Those not rude enough to say it to my face are saying it behind my back. Crazy Kieran is going to get himself killed for sure this time. He thinks he’s the bard his father was, off on some fool quest for what? A new tune? A new song? What difference can that make to anyone?

The thing is, they’re wrong. Not the part about me getting myself killed. Time will tell with that, although I can hope they are wrong. And if not? Maybe I think it’s a fair risk, gambling on joining a little sooner my father and mother and my brother never born in whatever lies after this life. If I die like my father did, in service of our people, I can only consider it a death well met.

And here Dermot or Cuin would roll their eyes and tell me I’ve sung too many ballads and now fancy myself the hero. Brona would frown and say that I must put a higher value on my life. I have no death wish; I wish I could convince her of that. Life is too full of song and story and pleasures to leave it early except in a good cause.

But as for the rest, I am very much aware that I am not the bard that my father was. Perhaps, in the fullness of time and under his tutelage, I might have become so. We’ll never know, will we? The murdering, oathbreaking Leas have seen to that.

As to what difference a tune can make, perhaps no difference at all. Perhaps all the difference in the world. I have called rain down with a tune—accidentally, it’s true, but still it proves that music has power. My father, it is said, could bolster the failing courage of armies with a song.

Something must save our people. We have been dwindling since or defeat by the Leas. We all see it, though no one wants to talk about it. The hunters go out less often and bring back less game. Each harvest is a little bit more disappointing than the last. The old feasts and festivals are no longer celebrated, out of deference to the queen, it is said, although the truth is that none of us have the heart for it.

Maybe new tunes and new songs will revitalize our people. Maybe—and this is a hope I share with none, since it sounds mad indeed, maybe I can find the forgotten healing magic of the bards of legend. Maybe I can wake our queen from her long stupor and save us all.

Maybe I’m not the bard my father was, but I may be all the hope that we have.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Raven’s Wing, by Shawna Reppert

Shawna Reppert has quite a bit in common with me–fellow Carina author, fellow NIWA author, and fellow writer of urban fantasy set in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve actually already featured this book, before on Boosting the Signal, but that was while she was running the Indiegogo campaign for it. Now the book is out and available, and Shawna’s sent me another piece for the book. This time, her character Chuckie would like to have a word with you!


Raven's Wing

Raven’s Wing

Hi, Chuckie here.

I know I’m not the first image that comes to mind when you say the words ‘Guardian International Investigations.’ I’m built like a scarecrow and my defensive magic isn’t much better than above-average. You’re more likely to find me on a computer than at the gym. I’m an oddball even for GI-squared, and that’s saying something.

I mean, my boss’s ID may say ‘Abigail Andrews’, but everyone calls her ‘Sherlock’, as much for her pipe and her tweed as for her brilliant deductive skills and her Anglan accent.

My partner, at first blush, might seem like what the Joint Council had in mind when they set up GI-squared. Cass Greensdowne once clocked damned near a four-minute mile and she can outlift about half the men in the department. But it’s the strength of her magic and her creativity in using it that make her stand out. So, poster-girl Guardian material—except that she learned her chops apprenticing to Corwyn Ravenscroft back when he was still a dark mage. Of course, she didn’t believe at the time that he was a dark mage, no matter what anyone said, and—well, that’s a long story.

I have been accused of rambling.

So, I know I’m not the hero of any tale, and I’m okay with that. Heroes always catch the worst of whatever goes down. Honestly, when I see what Cass and Raven go through…though Raven would never admit to being a hero, he totally is. He risked not only death, but horrible death, to take down William, and took himself past the point of exhaustion to finish the job. Damned near killed himself.

He’ll tell you that it was atonement, or enlightened self-interest, blah, blah, blah. Just like all those cases he’s helped us with, the ones he’s worked night and day on, the ones where he’s saved lives, those were just because he was bored and needed the intellectual stimulation. Yeah, right.

And I’m rambling again. Cass, if she were here, would be glaring at me to warn me to get to the point already.

So, you asked me about my goals. Which I take it is a more polite way of asking what a scrawny geek like me is doing working for Guardian International Investigations. No, don’t bother to apologize, I get it all the time and, frankly, it doesn’t bother me. Much.

The thing is, as smart and as fast and as good at magic as the heroes are, there’s some things they can’t do. Let’s face it, given a Mundane computer, half the mages in the city don’t know a mouse from a mainframe. But there is a certain criminal element, mostly young and up-and-coming, that know how to interface computer knowledge with mage skills. I know, ’cause I used to be one. I was only out for a laugh, but I did some pretty major damage, and I’d like to think what I’m doing now makes up for that in some way. And hey, maybe I can stop some kid someday before he does something he’ll regret the rest of his life.

(Yeah, I know I seem all happy-go-lucky, but I still have nightmares sometimes.)

Even when someone isn’t getting creative with magic and Mundane technology for all the wrong reasons, the computer’s a useful tool in getting information fast, and that’s useful if you need to know now how many heirs there might be to a certain bloodline if only those heirs are capable of using a magical artifact that’s gone missing. Like, say, the Ravensblood.

I’m like the smith who shoes the knight’s horse before some fairytale battle. I may not be a hero, but I help make the heroism happen. And that’s good enough for this geek.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Raven’s Wing, by Shawna Reppert

I meant to get this posted a few days ago, for which I apologize–this is what happens when I’m flattened by dental surgery! But that said, this is another book with a crowdfunding campaign to which I’d like to draw your all’s attention, especially as the Indiegogo campaign is down to its final hours.

Shawna Reppert is a fellow Carina author, and like me, she’s got some self-pubbed work as well. She’s gotten some high praise for her first solo effort, Ravensblood. Now she’s looking to publish the sequel, and is calling on potential supporters to back her up right over here. Hours are counting down, so go give her a look, won’t you?

And in the meantime, here’s a Boosting the Signal piece that Shawna sent me! Of this piece, Shawna says: “Since Raven’s Wing is written with three POV characters—Raven, Cass and the villain (not gonna tell you who it is, you have to read the book) I thought it would be interesting to let one of the secondary characters have a say. Mick MacLean volunteered.”


Raven's Wing

Raven’s Wing

Mick sat at the kitchen table, nursing a cup of rewarmed coffee, listening to Raven’s soulful piano-playing in the next room. The boy was good, not quite concert-pianist quality, but only an educated ear could hear the difference. If Raven had devoted himself to music instead of the Art…but may as well say that if a sheep had gills, it’d be a fish. The Three Communities, and likely the rest of the world as well, had reason to be glad that Raven had devoted himself to the study of magic, whether they chose to acknowledge it or not.

Even in his younger days, Mick would have been no match for him, and he’d been formidable in time. Back in the day when he’d left his outback home and traveled to another continent to help the Three Communities bring down William’s father. Much as his boy had helped to bring down William himself.

Only Zack had never come back.

Raven still looked at him as though he expected to be blamed for Zack’s death, or maybe just for surviving when Zack had not.

Life had taught Raven to expect unfairness. Mick was determined to teach him to trust in kindness, as well. Ana had started the lesson. Cass, he knew, tried, but it was different with lovers, more complicated.

He liked the man. At first, for the sake of Zack, who had befriended him, and for Ana, who had mentored him and worried over him. Later, on his own merits.

Oh, there were bigger-scale reasons to offer the man sanctuary. Whoever had stolen the Ravensblood was powerful, cunning, and surely up to no good. Mick would do anything in his power to head off another William.

Or William himself, returning. They never had found the body.

But if the last Mage Wars had taught Mick anything, it taught him that if you lost sight of the small stuff, the human stuff, while focusing on the big picture, then you risked becoming the thing you fought.

He still wondered if Giles would be alive today if he hadn’t pressured him harder to get out. If he’d made more of an effort to be a friend to the man instead of a handler, maybe Giles would have taken his pleas more seriously. He asked himself if his failure to do so came from holding the life of a dark mage more lightly than he would have another source’s.

In all these years, he hadn’t been able to answer that question.


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