Mindee Arnett

The Relay of Onyx & Ivory

Dear Friends,

It’s March 15. Do you realize what this means? Onyx & Ivory is only 2 months away! That’s a short 8 weeks. I can hardly believe it. Considering I started work on this book way back in 2015, it feels like I’ve been waiting for it to come out forever. Of course, by the same turn, it also feels it went so fast. Strange how that works.

Today though, I’m excited to share with you a brand new swag item just revealed this week by my street team. This is the badge worn by riders of the Relay, including Kate Brighton, one of the main character of Onyx & Ivory. The badge was designed by the magnificent Jenny of Seedlings Design Studio. These will be going out into the world in sticker form one day soon. Isn’t is gorgeous?

In honor of this reveal, I want to tell you more about the inspiration behind the Relay, which is one of the core ideas that launched the whole story. The Relay is the royal courier service responsible for delivering the mail between the 12 city states of Rime. The job of relay riders is both dangerous and important. The moment darkness falls in Rime, the nightdrakes come out to hunt. These flightless dragons are vicious and will kill–and eat–any human they find, or any animal that’s been touched by a human. So cows, chickens, horses, every domesticated animal, must be brought within the city gates at night, which are warded by magic against drakes. People too, need to be behind the walls, of course.

At the beginning of the book, Kate is working as a Relay rider. In fact, in the opening chapter, she’s hurrying to get inside the closest city before the sun sets, a task made so much harder as her horse has suffered an injury. It’s not uncommon for Relay riders and their mounts to die on a journey between the city states. As anyone familiar with horses will tell you, they can be nearly as fragile as they are strong.

The first inspiration for the Relay comes from my romanticized affection for the American Pony Express, which ran for only two years between 1860-1861. My first introduction into the Pony Express came from the short lived TV show The Young Riders, which first aired back in 1989. I loved this show, thanks in no small part because of the character Lou, short for Louise. Lou had to pretend to be a man in order to join the Pony Express. There’s a little bit of her Kate, for sure. Of course, my other love for the show was that it involved horses. Oh, and it features a young Josh Brolin, playing the real-life Wild Bill Hickok. Seriously, this show is a gem.

(Image from IMDB. Lou is second from right)

The second inspiration for the Relay comes from the years I spent as a competitive trail rider. Although I now compete as an Eventer, as a kid I spent most of my time doing what’s called Competitive Trail Riding (CTR), a division of Endurance Riding. Although Endurance is a race over long distances, in CTR horses are judged on fitness. The rider+horse pair are required to complete a long distance trail ride within a set timeframe, and whoever has the fittest horse at the end wins. Along the way, horse are carefully monitored and evaluated for how well they’re holding up. Any horse that shows signs of fatigue or injury during a vet check isn’t allowed to go on. The distances typically range between 25 to 40 miles per day, with many competitions lasting two days, and some even longer. A 25 mile day might take between 5-6 hours to complete (riders are prevented from going any faster by the rules–come in too early and you’re penalized).

(My sister and I checking our watches during a competition)

I loved it. I still too. There’s nothing like spending that much time riding your horse. It’s a bonding experience. You get to know one another in a special way. It’s also both grueling and fun, and I’ve always appreciated the focus on keeping the horses sound and healthy. In a world plagued by nightdrakes, The Relay and its riders would need to be just as concerned on keeping their mounts fit, which comes through in the book. Also, the pace of these CTRs helped me determine the range between cities and the Relay towers.

(Notice all the stuff hanging from the saddle? Kate has to carry even more)

Of course, the Relay is only where things start in the book. For the moment Corwin reenters Kate’s life, any hopes of maintaining her normal life and normal job go out the window. Still, I had a blast writing these parts.

Thanks for tuning in, and be sure to come back often. I’ll be revealing a lot more swag items and fun tidbits and insights into Onyx & Ivory, including ways for you to get some of these swag items for yourself.

Musingly Yours,


Onyx & Ivory Street Team Sign-Ups

Dear friends, it’s January 15, and that means we’re exactly four months away from the release of Onyx & Ivory. I just can’t believe it. How did this happen? Oh wait, time flies, that’s how it happened.

O&I Street Team Sign-Ups

Speaking of time, as usual I’m running short on it, which means I’m only just now launching the official Onyx & Ivory Street Team. For those of you unfamiliar with street teams, basically you sign up to help promote the book, both online and around your town, and in return you receive exclusive content and prizes. If you already know what’s up, the sign up link is at the bottom of this email.

Some caveats. This is my very first time trying something like this, and as such I’ve no actual idea what I’m doing, but I promise to do my best. There will be a learning curve, though, so please keep that in mind. I’m also looking for anyone interested in captaining the team. Basically this person will be my go-to individual(s) for questions and suggestions about tasks and prizes and whatnot. If you’re interested, send me an email.

How it Works

  • There will be 12 tasks total. The first 2 will be two weeks apart starting Feb 11. Then starting Mar 11 there will be 1 task per week until release week.
  • A special newsletter will appear in your inbox providing the details of the assigned task (including how to get credit for it), the due date, and the exclusive content and/or prizes up for grabs.
  • For every task completed, you will be entered to win a major prize package at the the end of the launch.
  • To qualify for the big giveaway, you have to complete 10 out of 12 tasks, but you will receive points for every task, so doing them all will increase your chances off winning.
  • Depending on the number of sign-ups, there might be several big prizes at the end.
  • Everyone who completes 10 of the 12 tasks will receive a swag package, including bookmarks, book plates, and other goodies.
  • Open internationally.

Exclusive Content & Prizes

All of these are things I hope to offer, although I can’t promise everything will happen. There will also be more. Again, I’m learning as I go.

  • Advanced Readers Copies (most likely eArcs, but some of the giveaways will include physical arcs)
  • Interactive Map
  • Exclusive Badges
  • Dream Cast
  • Quizzes to determine your magic type
  • Previews of Book 2
  • Bookmarks + bookplates + other swag (including the original inspiration for the “moonbelts” in the story)

  • Trading Cards
  • Signed Copies of other books like these (candles, too!):

  • And some of my own books, of course.

Other Details

As I mentioned above, this is my first time doing this, and I want to say thanks ahead of time to any of you that sign up. It’s no secret that a lot of success for a book is based on how much buzz it generates, and a street team can go a long way to helping create that. It might not seem like it, but every mention helps.

Also, I promise to keep these tasks reasonable. I understand how valuable your time is. It’s the same for me. Some of you might not know that I work a full time day job in addition to the writing gig, which frankly, is also full-time. I also have two children young enough that they can’t be left home by themselves longer than an hour. Not to mention horses, dogs, and cats to take care of. So yeah, I get it. Every task will be designed to be doable even for someone with a hectic and crazy schedule.

Street Team Sign up

And finally, at last, you can sign up here. Just be signing up, you’ll be given access to the first five pages of Onyx & Ivory to read online.

Musingly Yours,


Onyx & Ivory Cover Reveal

Big news! The cover for my next book, Onyx & Ivory, was released into the world last Wednesday by the awesome folks over at Happy Ever After. You can check out the post here. Or you can scroll down to see it in this post. I’ll wait until right here until you’re done…

So…what do you think? Awesome, right? When I first saw this I simply had no words, which is saying something for a writer. Seriously, though, I love it. The artist is Santi Zoraidez and you can check out more of his awesome work on his website. The team at Harper behind the overall design is the art directer, Alison Donalty and the designer, David Curtis. I have David to thank for the surprising direction they took on the cover. He read a draft of Onxy & Ivory and zeroed in on one particular scene as the inspiration for this. I would love to tell you all about that scene, but I’m afraid it’ll have to wait.

What I can tell you is that Onyx & Ivory is out May 15, 2018, and you can preorder from any of your favorite places. You can also add it on Goodreads here. And did you know that every time someone adds it a baby unicorn is born? It’s true…I swear! So be sure to tell a friend.

Oh, and just an early heads up that I’m preparing to launch a street team for the book sometime in January. Anyone who wishes to join the street team will be guaranteed a chance to read the book early. You’ll also win swag and prizes and be able to compete for some fabulous giveaways. Be sure to check my website as we get closer if you’re interested in joining.

About the book:

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled ride for the Relay, and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, for being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan mysteriously massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart when he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom of Rime—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s crimes and will lead both Kate and Corwin into the middle of a brewing civil war.

Acclaimed author Mindee Arnett’s stunning new novel thrusts readers into a beautiful, expansive, and dangerous new world—one where trust is rare, magic is commonplace, and little is as it seems.