It was the best of times… It was the worst of times. Yes, I’m talking about editing season.

by | Mar 28, 2023 | 1 comment

Revisions, revisions, revisions. I am still humming away at the second round of revisions for The Thirteenth Month and I’m learning to love this book again. Then I hate it a little. Then I love it! Then I can’t wait for you to read it. Then I’m pretty sure it’s too weird. Then I think it can’t be weirder than giant redheaded vampire priests. Then I worry that everyone wants spicy dark romance books and this isn’t it.

And then I remind myself that the kernel of this story has been haunting my dreams since 2018 and I really really need to get it out there and throw it to the masses and just see what you think. As one of my best friends reminded me the other day: “What’s the worst that could happen?”

The worst that could happen is that everyone hates the book, no one buys it, and the two follow up books I have planned for the series won’t be written because I can’t afford to spend the time to write them because everyone hates the first book. THAT is the worst case scenario.

And… that could totally happen! Every new series, every new book is a new chance to fail and that’s just part of creative life. I’ve had massive successes and pretty big failures. But at the end of the day, I’m proud of this story. I wrote in a genre that I’ve always loved. I’ve stretched myself as a writer and a world builder. I’ve created characters I love, others I hate, and others I want to know more.

So I remind myself that even if the WORST happens, that doesn’t mean my writing life is over. I have other ideas, new directions for beloved series (Oleg and Tatyana trilogy anyone?) and brand new mythologies I really want to explore (I am GOING to write a fae book one of these days.)

I love this book. I love the Seba Segel, Narine, her friends, and her family. I love these characters and this world and the relationships that are forming. I really hope you love it too, but if you don’t, I know I’m still proud of this work.

There’s a new teaser for The Thirteenth Month at the end of this newsletter and it’s the next scene after the last teaser, so you could read them together if you’d like. There’s a lot more information in this one, so you’ll get a lot of hints on what the feel for this book is going to be. Hope you enjoy!


Okay, no sooner do I tell everyone: “Yay! You can buy audiobooks from me directly via Author’s Direct! then I get an email from Findaway Voices (which has been bought by Spotify apparently) with this message:

Authors Direct is being discontinued


“…we appreciate you being on this WIDE audiobook journey with us. We wanted to let you know we are discontinuing the Authors Direct storefront service and listening apps.”

And I’m like… seriously?

“How will it affect my customers? Customers will be able to keep their titles as long as they are distributed to Spotify. All titles purchased or redeemed on your Authors Direct storefront will be honored via redemption codes on Spotify. Your fans will directly receive a redemption code from Findaway Voices via email to unlock each of their previous Authors Direct books on Spotify. Listeners can use Spotify Free and Premium accounts to access these books.”

I just want to say that I am sorry. I am sorry for directing you to a platform that I thought was a new and exciting way to purchase audiobooks that would be beneficial to you as readers and fair for authors as well. I had no idea it was shutting down and I am irritated, to say the least.

So as of right now, while my Author’s Direct store is still open, I do NOT recommend buying from it and I won’t be linking to it from the newsletter. I am still committed to finding a new way to get audiobooks into your hands that will be fairer for me as a creator and you as a listener. I’m considering some ideas right now about selling directly via Bookfunnel (which also has a reading and listening app).

I will keep you updated as I know more, and as of right now, my audiobooks are still available at Audible, Apple Books, and Amazon. And a few of them are also available wide.


From Chapter One…

The hedge mage at the door held up his hand before she could enter. “Vocation?”

He spoke in English and was dressed in formal white with the red trim typical of order guards. Hedges were the security arm of the order, powerful mages born with magic that could build barriers and sense incursion. They were trained with martial precision and the first layer of protection around any order compound.

Narine was wearing no uniform and had her helmet tucked under her arm, her riding jacket open, and her messenger bag banging against her hip. She could tell this hedge was new to the order when his eyes lingered on her face. He was probably from one of the northern observatories where foreigners weren’t as common.

“Good morning.” Narine answered him in Amharic and managed a smile despite his frown. “Are you new in the city?”


That was it? Narine felt her delicate bubble of morning peace waver.

The solemn hedge nodded at Yìchén, a senior alchemist who had worked closely with her mother developing the new console for the traveler’s chamber. The scholar adjusted his glasses and pulled a lanyard with a clear ID card from inside his jacket, spilling tea on it as he held it out. “Ech,” he muttered in Amharic.

“Doctor Mǎ,” the hedge glanced at the ID card covered in tea. “Good morning and welcome.” He waved at the alchemist to enter the building.

“Thank you.” The doctor adjusted his glasses. “Oh, good morning, Narine. A peaceful Pagume to you.”

Pagume was always a time of rest for travelers. “Thank you, Doctor Mǎ. Good morning to you too.”

The alchemist gave her an absent wave and walked into the building. Narine turned back to the hedge. His stoic expression hadn’t changed.

“I’m Narine.”

He was tall and lithely built with closely cropped hair, deep black skin, and a wide mouth that might have been expressive if it ever moved.

“I work here. Narine Anahid?”

The hedge didn’t move or crack a smile. Granted, his entire purpose in life was protecting the compound, but the mage at the gate had already greeted her by name, exchanged family greetings, and showed her where to park. She was clearly not a stranger.

“Your vocation?” the guard asked again.

“Seriously?” She pulled up the sleeve of her jacket to reveal her traveling scars. “Anything else?”

The man glanced at them, then back at her face. “I need to see your identification card.”

So the new guy went solely by the book. When she was younger, she would have approved. Now it was just annoying.

“Right.” Narine set her messenger bag down and set her helmet beside it. She unzipped her biking jacket, and peeled it off, revealing her black shirt underneath. She unzipped a narrow pocket in the seam of her jacket and retrieved the bent plastic-coated card with her name, vocation, and ID number on it, along with her picture.

Narine Anahid Khoren



Her name was hers, her mother’s, and her grandfather’s names as they were the most dominant powers in her parentage. She was a traveler of the third tier, and her ID number indicated she was the fourth traveler mage born in the year 2043 in the Ethiopian calendar.

The Seba Segel were meticulous about records, and this hedge seemed like the type that thrived on organization. It was no wonder he was guarding the Addis compound when he looked younger than Narine.

He examined the card, handed it back to her, then nodded. “Sister Narine, my name is Brother Mesfin. It is nice to make your acquaintance.”

“Great.” She clutched her card between her teeth and tried to gather her bag, her helmet, and her inside-out jacket in her arms. “So I’ll be seeing you around?” she muttered around the card.

He nodded. “As the stars will it.”

So he was a traditionalist. “It’s nice to meet you, Mesfin.”

Narine held onto her belongings with both arms and pushed the door to the front office open with her shoulder. From the lobby, the headquarters of the order looked like any of the hundreds of random NGOs that dotted the city.

On the wall behind the front desk there was a giant map of the world with Addis in the very center and SEBA SEGEL branches marked with stars in Zanzibar, Peru, New Zealand, Indonesia, Costa Rica, and Iceland.

One might wonder what the Society for Ethnography, Geography, and EthnoLinguistics was doing in a fairly homogenous region of the world like Iceland, but that was because linguistic studies were only a cover for their true mission.

“Good morning, Sister Narine.”

She adjusted the bundle in her arms as she walked. “Good morning to you, Sister Njeri.”

She shot a quick smile at the older woman at the front desk who had transferred from Mombasa three years before and quickly made herself indispensable to the order. She was tall, broadly built, and had a crown of silver-threaded braids that fell to her waist.

Though Njeri had been born to a mage family, her power was non-specific, which meant that she was magic sensitive, but not powerful. No one would ever say the woman lacked authority though, not without risking the wrath of administrative persecution.

“There’s a message waiting in your office.”

Narine frowned. “From who?”

Njeri shook her head. “Not for me to know. It was delivered from the safe yesterday after you’d left for the day.”


Every order had a safe where messages across the timeline could be guarded and opened in a future time. Because travelers weren’t allowed to jump into the future or anywhere within their own lifespan, the safe was the only way for mages from the past to send messages forward. It was also only accessible to a particular sect of archivist mages who released each safeguarded letter at the exact time and place specified by the sender.

Narine headed to the left and made her way through the mostly empty office building to her office where she found an envelope on her desk with a red seal, her name, and the date.

Narine Anahid Khoren


She didn’t recognize the handwriting, but she recognized the paper, and a sense of dread fell over her morning like a cloud covering the sun.

She broke the wax seal that had remained unmarred in the safe and opened the letter, a missive written on a faded journal page dated in the year 1920. Across the faded writing, there was only one sentence, written in bold black ink: This cannot continue.

Narine froze, her hands clutching the note.

She knew who had written it, but why?

She was trying to process the reason for the cryptic message when she felt a familiar shiver at the back of her neck.

At first, it didn’t register. The cold, creeping sensation at her nape was what every traveler felt when the timeline shifted. It was a shiver she’d felt since she was twelve years old.

But no.


The letter fluttered to her desk with a whisper, forgotten as the shock of realization hit her.

Today was the first day of Pagume.

Her mind rebelled at the thought.

Time travel was forbidden during the thirteenth month.

Those precious five days were the only time when fixed points on the timeline—the tasary—could be altered, so travel was completely taboo. Wars had been fought over this. Mages had been murdered, and travelers had been lost to their native timelines to prevent it.

Narine tried to think of an explanation for the impossible, but the tremor at the base of her skull didn’t lie.

History had been altered in the thirteenth month.

The Thirteenth Month

Copyright 2022, Elizabeth Hunter

All rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  1. Rian

    For the record, I love spicy romance, but I read your books because the writing is simply beautiful.


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