About the Book:
Dating and High School: Hard Enough. Now Add Assassins.
Avoiding assassination wasn’t on Mel’s to-do list for her junior year.
Learning she wasn’t human hadn’t made the list, either.
An only child with overprotective parents, Melody Walters just wants a drama-free year-and to be able to date. She gains the interest of more than one suitor, but doesn’t realize any one of them could be an enemy on the hunt. For her, the dating scene could prove deadly.
Mel discovers she’s a member of a botanical race, forced to hide their daughters in the human world until they mature enough for their powers to bloom. Something goes wrong with her blooming process, breaking her cover and jeopardizing the lives of her protectors and the large family she’d never known about.
With the enemy threat ever-looming, in a rush to master her new powers before she’s stranded in the human world forever, Mel struggles to decide who she can trust and if the sacrifice being asked of her is too great.
PRAISE FOR SEEDER SHADOW WARS
“Seeder Shadow Wars presents the genuinely strong female protagonists that are missing in a lot of young adult fantasy today. This book has all the elements of great storytelling–relatable and complex characters, a great and accessible magic system, and deep themes.” -CM Adler, author of The Witches of Grimm Series
“SEEDER SHADOW WARS thrusts the reader into a duplicitous setting in our world, where anyone may be a friend, foe, or family member. J. Houser provides the reader with a world within our own, complete with botanical beings in an age-old war. It is the first book in the series, and I can’t wait to read more.” -Courtnee Turner Hoyle, author of The Pale Woods Mystery Series.
BORDERED BY IMPASSABLE MOUNTAINS, a pocket realm tucked away on Earth was safely shrouded from human knowledge and interference. The hidden paradise was a land of beauty and lush plant growth, filled with an energy that coursed through the very veins of the people who lived there. The inhabitants could sense the cyclical energy shifts associated with the human world, though their own realm lacked any true change in season.
On the western front, people lived simple lives in quaint communities. As simple and quaint as they could be, in the midst of a never-ending war.
Murial stared down at her clutch of seedlings, her children. She wore a faint smile, her joy tainted by the vicious aching in her heart. Today would be the hardest day of her life.
Thod walked up behind Murial, wrapping his arms around her. He moved her auburn hair to the side and placed a sweet kiss on her cheek. “Are you going to be okay?”
She swallowed hard, reminding herself that she’d signed up for this. She wanted kids. Murial turned to face her husband, giving him the best smile she could muster. “I’ll be great.”
She looked around at the new home they’d just moved into. Like others lining their lane, it was much bigger than the tiny cottage they’d moved out of. It was beautifully simplistic with raw, natural wood. Books and potted flowers covered the shelves in the corner. The extra space and larger garden out back would be just enough for this next phase of their lives.
Thod gazed into her eyes. “I couldn’t have picked a better woman to raise my boys.”
Murial drew a deep breath, her smile warming. “I’ll make you proud. And I know you’ll take good care of the girls.”
He nodded, then patted his pants pocket. “I’ve got the letter for your dad. Anything else?”
She pursed her lips, thinking of the human dad that had helped raise her. Letters were all they had now. Having reached maturity, which allowed her to have a clutch, she wasn’t capable of leaving the Green Lands anymore. She scanned Thod, then glanced back at their seedlings.
“I think we’re all set.” Murial pulled him in closer. “There’s just one last thing.”
They shared a smile and she leaned in, giving him a kiss. The kind of kiss only a Seeder woman could give. The kind that imbued him with a portion of her energy, both expressing her love, and bolstering him for the long and difficult journey ahead.
It being the first day of spring, Murial and Thod gathered their seedling hopefuls and stepped outside. Walking a few feet from the door, they placed the glistening, round seeds on the dirt in the middle of the lane. A handful of neighbors were proudly doing the same with their own clutches for this year’s sprout reveal. Murial breathed deeply, tightly gripping Thod’s hand and forcing herself to soak in the wonder and beauty of the moment.
As the sun rose, it peeked over the wooden homes and bathed the eager parents waiting in anticipation. Shortly after the rays reached the seeds, they began to wiggle. Next door, a shout of glee rang out; someone’s first seedling had sprouted. Murial and Thod glanced over for just a moment to check it out, then returned to watching their own clutch.
“There’s one!” Thod rejoiced, squeezing her hand.
Puff. Puff. Puff.
“Come on, girls, show yourselves,” Murial cheered in a whispered tone.
Twelve in total sprouted. The other twelve remained unchanged.
The breeze blew, and the palm-sized sprouted balls of fluff began to sway. Murial and Thod knew their time was short. They embraced, and then Thod stood next to the seedlings, like the other men in the street were starting to do. A gust rushed past—this was the one!
The wind swept up the balls of fluff—resembling dandelion seeds floating in the wind, but much more fluffy, like a bichon frise puppy. As soon as they lifted up, Thod sprang into the air, leaping forward into a somersault, transforming into his botanical form. His hair took on a purple hue, spiked like a thistle. A spiny leaf extended from each forearm between his wrist and elbow. His legs were now wrapped in taproots to his ankles.
Thod gathered their twelve sprouted seedlings in his arms and gave a reassuring, loving look to his wife down on the ground. The breeze blew them higher and higher, further from their village.
Murial watched on as he disappeared from sight past the lush hills in the distance. The knots in her stomach took over as she imagined the journey ahead of him and the time and space soon to be between them.
Years. In a completely different realm.
And there was no other choice.
Wiping tears from her face, Murial drew a deep breath and followed the example of the other women, taking her remaining seedlings back inside. She carefully laid them in a basin filled with earth. Sitting down, she gazed lovingly at her little boys, her heart swirling with a mix of emotions. Delighted to see her family grow. Gutted by her mate’s departure. And indignant at the other occupants of the Green Lands, the Ivies…
The Ivies considered themselves superior and insisted they’d been cheated out of prime land centuries ago, which was far from the truth. They’d deserted their claim to those lands and devastated the new region they now resided in. Not that truth held much weight in old feuds littered with propaganda.
Murial’s eyes glowed green, as she no longer tried to hide the change. This was the only way their species could survive anymore—by tearing their families apart.
Over a century ago, the Ivies had poisoned Seeder territories. Ivy poison, produced by their females, was strong enough to kill a human, but not a Seeder. The Seeder males were barely even affected by the attack. Future generations of females exhibited less power. Most devastating was the effect it had on the young Seeder daughters. Not having their powers yet, they were essentially human, defenseless. Every last one of them perished within a week of the Great Poisoning. After girls in new clutches also failed to survive, the true and lasting effects were realized and drastic measures had to be taken to protect their young.
A knock at the door broke Murial from her trance. She wiped away more tears and centered her energy, her eyes changing back to a deep shade of brown. She opened the door with a smile. “Hey! Come in!”
Sandra, her new neighbor, a short woman with light brown hair who was also in her late twenties, entered, giving Murial a long hug. “Just wanted to see how you’re doing.”
Murial grinned, pulling back and gesturing for her to sit down. “I expect we’re feeling about the same.”
Sandra gave her an understanding frown. “They’ll be okay.”
Murial nodded. “I know.” She picked at her fingernails. “It’s just different when it’s your own.”
Sandra crossed her legs, resting her hands on her knees. “How old were you at the time of your bloom?”
“Right. I forgot. I was seventeen.”
So many years of waiting. Of separation.
Murial glanced down at her remaining seedlings. The boys always took longer to sprout, but by nightfall, they would start to form roots. She vowed to enjoy every moment she had with them before their childhood would be replaced with training. Whether protecting their homeland borders against Ivy attacks, or crossing over into the human world, the boys all shared one thing: they would be soldiers. Looking up with a forced smile, Murial added, “I’ll feel so much better once the first one is old enough to go over for protection duty.”
Sandra sighed. “We’ve got this.” She gave Murial a calm smile, standing back up. “I just wanted to pop in real quick, but I better get back to my own boys. You know where to find me.”
Murial walked Sandra to the door, giving her another hug. “I’m glad we’re neighbors.”
Murial spent the rest of the day preparing a vegetable stew and coconut-almond biscuits. She constantly looked over at her boys. Not that anything had changed about them yet—they were still little glistening seedlings, full of potential. It would be a couple weeks before their roots developed enough to shed their seedling forms, rapidly growing to appear like any regular human.
Sitting down after sunset, Murial grabbed her journal from the shelf. Day One. She processed her thoughts and feelings before she began to write.
Human teenagers have it so easy. Then again, when she’d been a teenager, before her bloom, she’d thought she was an average human, too.
It wasn’t enough for the Ivies to attempt genocide and lay siege to Seeder borders. Fully-rooted female Seeders were twice as powerful as the males—their energy was used to charge the border walls that kept their lands relatively safe from further Ivy attacks. With these girls being the only thing that kept the Ivies from their goal of Seeder annihilation, their safety was paramount. When the Ivy Kingdom had discovered that Seeders were hiding their daughters away in the human world, it became their new hunting ground.
The Ivies knew their enemies well. They focused on finding the girls during the vulnerable bloom-to-root period when their powers came in. Ivy assassins lay in wait, always watching for a hint of a bloom.
Murial put her pen to paper.
I miss him already. And our girls. I look forward to seeing each one of their faces some day.
She grinned, thinking of her boys.
This is going to be quite the adventure. Things will work out. I know they will. I have to believe it.
Murial tried to imagine the faces of each of her girls—what interests and personalities they would have. Each day without them, without Thod, would be a battle. But she was confident in her husband; he had done so much work ahead of time, planning and preparing, to keep them safe for the coming years.
The fate of the Seeder girls relied on one thing—who was in the know. In the mix of it all were humans, oblivious to the hunt happening around them—the two enemies constantly trying to sniff and snuff each other out.
In their own realm, Seeders had no need to be on the offensive. In the human world, they watched over their daughters and sisters, always observing for signs of the Ivies. Once the girls were old enough, they would show signs of budding, and then bloom, gaining their full powers. Their family just needed to keep them safe and guide them home, without being discovered. And so the game went. As if high school wasn’t already enough of a jungle.
1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?
I’m not the typical author that’s been writing stories since they were old enough to pick up a crayon. I guess I’m more of the current cliché that found their passion during Covid-19 shutdowns. I decided to write a story based on a dream I’d had that I thought would make a cool movie someday. And then I wrote 8 more books in just a few months’ time. It became an addiction that I don’t plan to quit. In high school and college, I enjoyed journalism and poetry, but had never explored this side of literary writing until now.
2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?
On a comfy chair or couch in the living room, and any time of the day. Though I’m more of a night owl… That sometimes creates more editing work than not because I read it the next day and can tell how sleepy I must have been, lol
3: Where do your ideas come from?
A mix of dreams and ‘what if’s.’ My debut Seeder Wars came from a little snippet of a dream.
4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?
Generally speaking, I really don’t enjoy outlining. I like experiencing the journey with the characters. But to some extent, I usually know major plot points, scenes, and the end game.
5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?
I’ve never been good at limiting myself to just one niche, and I don’t plan to do it in writing either. I enjoy fantasy and sci-fi, as well as contemporary works. Dystopian, post-apocalyptic, adventure. Young Adult and Adult audiences. One thing I’m apparently NOT good at, is excluding romance. It’s a big part of most of my manuscripts that I’ve written thus far.
6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?
I really haven’t given it any thought, and I’m horrible with that side of media culture, knowing actor and actress names!
7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I likely don’t read as voraciously as many authors (I blame it on ADHD.) I’ve started to read a lot more, though. I’m still forming my opinions, casting a wide net. I’m starting to find authors whose style I personally don’t love, but haven’t read enough of any one author to become a superfan quite yet.
8: What book/s are you reading at present?
I’ve been listening to Clockwork Angel on audiobook. I promised my friend I’d give it a shot after mentioning I almost didn’t finish City of Bones because of the prose and characters. I can see that the author and her editors had made a lot of progress over the years. Like most people, I have a TBR list. Next, I plan to read a couple of indie published books.
9: What is your favourite book and why?
I’m not really a re-reader, so I’m not sure if I have a favorite book. Perhaps Pride and Prejudice? Though I’d say that’s because I enjoy the book + movie combo (the Colin Firth edition reigns supreme and so accurately to the book ❤ )
10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?
Just start, you never know what will become of it. And focus on finishing that first book. It may be a dumpster fire of a story, but you’ll improve. (My first manuscript has been though multiple edits but has been on the back burner for quite a while because it still needs a huge overhaul.) Constantly be learning—about grammar, writing craft, the publishing industry, etc.
11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?
My best social media is on Youtube, then probably Instagram, and I’m trying to get my Facebook more active. (Though I’m on Twitter and Tiktok, too.) My handle on all sites is JHouserWrites.
I’d also recommend my website as well www.jhouserwrites.com. You can sign up for my newsletter, follow other news, and get a free short story there!
Youtube: JHouserWrites – YouTube
About the Author:
J. Houser has spent most of her life in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Her second language is Polish and she uses neither her A.A.S. in Culinary Arts nor her B.S. in University Studies. Instead, she takes snippets of dreams and a lot of ‘what-ifs,’ and is feverishly working toward her goal of being a multi-genre hybrid author. She’s a firm lover of both Jane Austen and Stargate, and currently resides in Idaho with her lovable fur-child, Mia.