I’m excited to welcome special guest Katherine Eddinger Smits, a fellow member of Sunshine State Romance Authors. Her newly released novelette is The Sea Witch and the Mage. starring a shapeshifting mermaid and a mesmerizing mage. I loved her first book Water Dreams and can’t wait to delve into this new story! Can you believe the gorgeous cover?
The author was kind enough to answer a few writing questions before providing a blurb and “special just for you” excerpt from The Sea Witch and the Mage.
What inspired you to write in your genre?
I read across all genres, but my favorite is paranormal romance. When I started my first novel, I knew it had to be a love story. I wanted it to be something different, but set in the contemporary world and located in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The Nerei, who appear human on land and shift to have tails in water (as well as a few other adaptations) suited all those requirements. The Sea Witch and the Mage is the second book set in the world of the Nerei and the humans who fall in love with them.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Writing is a hard process. Although it’s the most fun and rewarding thing I’ve ever done, it’s demanding. Probably the hardest part is balancing writing time with everything else in my life. I don’t like to take time away from friends and family to write, but if I don’t do that sometimes, nothing gets finished.
Who is your favorite supporting character in your book and why?
My favorite supporting character in this book is the evil sea wizard, Merlindrake. Although he tortures and kills young Nerei females, he believes what he’s doing is for the good of his people. At least that’s what he tells himself. The fact that he enjoys it way too much gives away his true motive. He’s evil, but tough and smart and has more tricks up his sleeve than Athenia and Thorne realize.
In order to avenge her twin’s death and escape the same brutal fate, Athenia must defeat the wizard who killed her sister, but there is only one way—enslave Thorne, a human mage with powers Athenia needs to overcome her enemy. However, she doesn’t count on finding him mesmerizing or desiring him so much. What happens when a shapeshifting mermaid teams up with a man who controls the elements? Can Athenia save herself without destroying her magical lover?
With a whirl, he grabbed her, turning her and shoving her arm up behind her. “What do you want?” Fiercer than he intended, his words came out in a snarl, deep and menacing.
She struggled. “Let go of me.”
Gods, she’s strong.
When she stomped on his foot, pain shot through his leg all the way to his knee. Unable to maintain his grip, he let her go, but called upon air to surround her.
The woman hammered on the invisible fortification, consternation reflected on her face. “What did you do? Let me out of here.”
“Not until you tell me why you followed me.”
She unclenched her fists and smoothed her hair, her expression changing from a snarl to a simper he figured was supposed to appear friendly. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to alarm you. I—” She hesitated.
“What?” When his still gruff voice echoed in the small space, he winced. For a moment, she frightened him, surprised him. Flip-flops might not have been the best footwear tonight. In dealing with a she-devil, steel-toed boots would have been a safer choice.
“I wanted to meet you, Thorne Sanderson.” As she inhaled, her low-cut, gauzy blouse dipped, revealing more ivory skin. She must have noticed where he located his attention, because she exhaled and took another breath, treating him to the sight again.
“Why don’t you ditch this enclosure so we can talk?” She smiled, more genuinely this time, as if amused. “I promise I won’t hurt you.” As though testing the strength of the unseen barrier, she mashed her hands against it.
He frowned. “You already broke my foot.”
The seductive simper converted to a sexy pout. “Because you manhandled me. An instinctive defense.” She plastered herself against the wall of air and squirmed, her silky skirt and top molding to her body.
His mouth went dry. Damn, she’s beautiful. “Huh, I restrained you because you’ve been following me.”
“Because I wanted to talk to you.” She pushed again, which nudged her blouse lower.
Any further and she’s going to fall all the way out. The idea excited him, and he advanced toward her. “Why not introduce yourself?” Much more of this exhibition and he would need to dismiss the wind fence so he could think.
She chewed her lip. “I wanted to ask you something, but I’m not sure how to do it. I thought if I found out more about you, I would come up with a way to approach you, but I ruined everything.” Tears welled in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks.
Instantly sorry, he dissolved the barricade. “Hey, don’t do that.”
She hid her face in her hands, which muffled her speech. “It’s hopeless, I understand that now.”
Must stop her crying. I can’t stand it. He patted her arm. “Tell me.”
She sobbed again. Sniffled.
Impatient now, he blew out a breath that rounded his cheeks. “What is it?”
She dried her eyes. “I want you to take me on as your pupil.”
Surprised again, he recoiled. “What? Why?”
“As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m Nerei.”
She cleared her throat. “My name is Athenia. I don’t belong to a clan like most of my kind. After a disagreement with our relatives, my sister and I left. For many years, we lived on our own, studying arcane arts and helping the Elders as much as possible. By earning their respect, we attained the title of Sea Witches.”
“Okay, so you know a lot. Why do you want to apprentice with me?”
She clutched his hand. “I lost Delphie.” Her eyes brimmed again. “I don’t want to talk about it, but now I have nothing left except my work. In order to help my people even more, I want to rule air, earth, water, and fire as you do.”
Thorne pulled his hand away. “Impossible, we don’t bestow those skills on outsiders. Anyway, we can’t teach them to you, unless the potential is already within you.”
“You see? Now you know why I wavered about whether to talk to you. I expected you to refuse.” Drooping, she turned away.”
Not wanting to let her go, but unsure why, he acted on intuition and clasped her arm. “Wait.”
She wheeled toward him, her eyes sparkling with eagerness. “Yes?”
“It’s forbidden to teach you to command the elements, but we can help each other. Some of my herbal remedies might be useful to you.
Her smile illuminated the area. “I’ll demonstrate what I learned, and we can create new potions together.”
He nodded. “Possibly we’ll discover something to help your people and mine. Heaven knows, plenty of difficulties bombard us all the time.”
She peeped up at him, teardrops wetting her lashes and pooling under eyes the hue of Florida mangrove leaves. He ran his thumb gently under each one, erasing the drops.
She angled toward him and pecked his cheek with her lips. “Thank you. This means more to me than you can imagine.”
The Sea Witch and the Mage — Trigger warning: Explicit sex and violence and brief mention of rape. Free with KU or $.99 on Kindle.
Katherine Eddinger Smits has a BA in Psychology and Sociology from the University of South Florida and a Masters in Social Work from Florida State University. After over two decades of helping veterans, families and community agencies as a clinical social worker, she retired to pursue her dream—writing. She has published two paranormal romances and has several more in the works.
She grew up in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Although not from a Greek background, she fell in love with the Greek culture of the town and its close-knit families. She moved away years ago, but she still visits Tarpon Springs frequently to see old friends and classmates, walk the beaches or shop and eat at the Sponge Docks.
She started writing stories in grade school and always intended to write novels someday. However, she put off writing fiction while she raised her family and worked as a clinical social worker at four different Veterans Affairs Medical Centers around the country. Although she was devastated to learn that her first career choice—mermaid, was not realistic, Katherine found helping veterans and their families fulfilling, and managed to squeeze writing into her life. Whether it was writing clinical assessments, creating brochures for social programs, or putting together newsletters for clubs and organizations, she always had some kind of writing project in the works.
Katherine lives with her husband in Homosassa, Florida and Falling Waters, West Virginia. They have a daughter who resides in Alexandria, Virginia and a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Connect with Katherine:
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Grab your copy of The Sea Witch and the Mage, free on KU or a steal at $.99 on Kindle.
More about Water Dreams, Katherine’s debut novel — a paranormal romance set in Tarpon Springs, Florida and the first book in the Love’s Siren Song series. What happens when a young woman with a water phobia falls in love with a merman who can pass as human on land? How will they save each other when they fall in love against the laws of his people? Water Dreams is available from Foundations, LLC , Amazon , and other major online retailers.
Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic in Romance