Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Excerpt from Feral

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

Chapter One
They’d left her behind.
A hot ball of shame and anger lodged in Chloe’s throat as she ran along the dirt track through the forest. Bad enough Coach Wharton had bluntly told her to go home, that she couldn’t keep up, but her so-called teammates had run off without so much as a backward look.
And maybe Coach was right, maybe she couldn’t run as fast as the rest of the track team, but it wasn’t in her to give up.
They were too far ahead now to realistically catch, but if she took the shortcut and really pushed it she could run the last bit of the loop with them.
Chloe put her head down and increased her pace, until her feet flew down the trail, crunching on yellow leaves, until her lungs heaved and a bright stitch of pain pinched at her side. It felt good to push her body to its limits.
A furtive rustling noise alerted her that she was no longer alone. Half-hidden among the evergreen trees, a wolf paced her.
A surge of hope washed the fatigue out of her muscles. Had one of her teammates dropped back to run with her and encourage her? Judy, maybe?
But the wolf hung back in the trees, and her heart sank back into her cross-trainers.
Not a companion. What then? A baby-sitter? Coach couldn’t possibly think she’d get lost. Unlike him, she’d grown up running these trails. Was this a test to see if she’d keep training on her own or wimp out and go home?
Chloe pretended not to notice the wolf and kept running, concentrating on keeping her stride easy and smooth. If this was a test, she’d pass it. If this was some kind of hazing, meant to scare her, then she’d endure that too and prove that she belonged to the Pack.
Because she did. She had all the extra werewolf strength and agility: her senses were keener than her townie classmates, and she’d had no difficulty qualifying for the high school track and field team. Her townie classmates simply couldn’t compete physically with Pack. In human form she could outrun everyone but Dean. But her fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth birthdays had passed, and she still had not Changed.
All the other teens in her age group had. Even Judy, the smallest and most nervous of them all, had Changed into her wolf form three full moons ago.
And when track and field started up again in September Coach had wanted them to run in their wolf forms. Because while there were townie kids on the other sports teams, Coach Wharton had decreed a limited number of slots on the track and field team and filled them all with Pack. Practices were mostly just an excuse to spend time together. What they were actually learning from Conrad Wharton was how to control their werewolves.
Chloe risked another glimpse at the wolf, trying to identify who it was by its colouring. Not all white like Coach. Not red like Judy. Other than that she couldn’t tell. She got only flashes of white and grey and maybe brown between the tree trunks.
She ought to have known it wasn’t Judy. Ever since her Change, Judy had started acting as if she were better than Chloe.
Judy’s smugness and the veiled contempt in Coach Wharton’s eyes rubbed Chloe’s ego raw. For most of her life Chloe had been the leader of the Pack teens, and now everyone was Dominant to her. Last week, Coach Wharton had told Dean that she might never Change because she was too afraid of the pain. Her! Who’d never so much as whimpered during one of Coach’s brutal three-hour training runs.
And now that contempt had spread to the other kids like an infection. They closed their shoulders against her when she approached, as if she were a townie.
Tears burned in her eyes, blurring the trail. She accidentally stepped on a root and her ankle twisted beneath her. Pain shot up her leg. The bonfire raging inside demanded that she keep running through the pain, keep trying to catch them at the end of the shortcut, but her dad had lectured too many other Pack members about the stupidity of ignoring pain.
Chloe dropped onto a fallen log at the side of the trail and sucked down some of the water in her squeeze bottle. Her ankle would be fine in a moment. Werewolves healed fast--so fast it took something major to kill them--but she’d probably just lost all chance of catching up with the Pack.
How could she have all the werewolf gifts and not have the ability to Change? It wasn’t fair, but every generation there were a few Recessives, werewolves by heritage who were unable to Change. Also known as Duds.
Chloe's fists clenched. She was not a Dud. Glaring, she suddenly caught the blue eyes of a wolf staring out at her from behind a screen of underbrush.
Chloe shot to her feet, temper pumping through her. “Stop lurking. I know you’re there. I'm not blind.” Did her Packmates think they could scare her? Puh-lease. She'd grown up among werewolves.
The wolf faded back into the brush. Chloe nodded, satisfied, and sat back down.
But when she resumed her run, movement flashed in her peripheral vision. The idiot wolf had started tailing her again. Fine, we can play it that way. Chloe pretended not to notice, waiting until her sharp ears told her that her pursuer had ventured a little too close, then suddenly reversed direction and cut left into the trees.
A thick stand of young pine kept the wolf from retreating. It hunched its shoulders and growled at her. Chloe stopped in surprise. The wolf had a creamy chest and underbelly, black back and tail, blue eyes and a distinctive black stripe bisecting its forehead. Who was it? None of the wolves in her Pack had colouring like this one.
The wolf couldn't be wild. Real wolves stayed far, far away from Pack territory, and this one was just standing there, staring at her head-on, unafraid. Unless the animal was sick? Chloe sniffed the air. Instead of the Pine Hollow Pack scent, the wolf smelled of wildness, musk and a hint of iron. No odour of disease. All the Pack kids got rabies shots as a matter of course, but Chloe's veterinarian dad had made sure she could recognize the signs of it, plus distemper and other canine ills. This wolf wasn’t sick, so it had to be a werewolf.
Its pelt lacked the shine of a healthy wolf, and its ribs protruded. It was skinny and not full-grown. Her nostrils flared. "That better not be you, Gail,” she threatened. Judy's little sister was thirteen, a not unheard of age for the Change, but—
She stepped forward. The wolf snapped its teeth at her and broke left past her into the trees.
Instinct made her give chase, but she stopped after a few steps because—hello?—four legs were always going to be faster than two.
In frustration, she shouted after the werewolf: “I’m going to find out who you are and kick your butt!”

Monday, December 2, 2019

HERE BE NEWS for December 2, 2019

Posted by: Dani Harper, Author


Monday, November 25 
"HERE BE NEWS" - All the latest from the gang at Here Be Magic.

Wednesday, November 26 -
"A BLOCK BY ANY OTHER NAME" - Authors are often told that the dreaded Writers’ Block isn't a real thing. But can so many of us be wrong? PG Forte tackles this painful issue on Here Be Magic.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Block By Any Other Name

Posted by: PG Forte

Rant alert. This post is a response of sorts on a blog post I read recently, written by an author whose work I admire, in which she discussed a blog post she’d recently read that had been written by an author whose work she admires.  

The subject of this entire nesting doll collection of posts is Writers’ Block. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, gawd, no. Not another one of those!” Then, you have my condolences because, yes, I’m afraid it is.

See, I’ve kind of lost patience with the idea that writer’s block isn’t a real thing, or that naming it somehow gives it more power than it would have otherwise. “Calling it a block makes it seem like something outside yourself over which you have no control,” we’re told. Which seems to me is likely exactly the situation in most cases.  

There are a whole lot of formerly prolific, professional, talented, more-than-moderately successful authors who are struggling right now—hell, I’m struggling right now—and it’s insulting to suggest that we haven’t all done our best to analyze the problem, that we haven’t all sought advice, or tried to correct whatever personal failings are contributing to the problem.

This is not a case of collective amnesia. We haven’t all suddenly forgotten how to write.  We didn’t just lose the skills we’ve honed over the course of writing multiple books. We aren’t any more paralyzed by doubt or a lack of confidence than we’ve always been. I don’t think the books themselves can be the issue either. Because, seriously, how likely is it that we’ve all found ourselves suddenly dealing with unworkable storylines, recalcitrant protagonists, and deeply flawed plots? Not very.  

And, even if that were the case, it’s not like we haven’t all written through these kinds of things before.

When so many of us are simultaneously complaining that our creative wells are running dry, I suspect that the problem lies (at least in part) with our common watershed—with the socio-political climate we find ourselves in, perhaps, or with the massive changes that have taken place within the industry; with new markets opening up and established publishers closing down; with the many, many unrelated-to-writing tasks that we are finding ourselves involved in as we attempt to re-home, or re-write, or re-release a good portion of our backlists; with all the rules that have changed.

There’s been a massive sea-change in the publishing industry lately (and with the world at large, I think) and I think a lot of us are having trouble finding our sea legs.

If I may be allowed to continue the water metaphor, then I think that, yes, Writers’ Block is a good term for the problem.  Our creative streams have gotten damned up somewhere along the way; and I’m not sure it matters where, or how, or by what. But, what I do know is that, if the problem is not something we can eliminate by altering our behavior, then adding guilt to the mix, is only going to make things worse.

  “There’s no such thing as plumber’s block,” we’re also told. And, no, I don’t suppose there is. But, on the other hand, I don’t see how that’s even an argument worth making. Creating a fictional world out of nothing is not AT ALL THE SAME as connecting a few pieces of pipe that already exist. Which is not to suggest that plumbing is not a useful, valuable—dare I say invaluable—skill. There’s no such thing as surgeon’s block, either. And yet no one’s ever suggested that a plumber shouldn’t unclog the toilet of someone he or she knows because they need to stay objective, that they need to maintain their emotional distance in order to be effective in their work.

I don’t really know what the answer is, but it seems that most of us who write do so because we have to, because there’s a need within us that must be expressed. So I have to believe that, sooner or later, that need will find a way. That our creative streams will overflow their banks and carve a new route around the block—or over it, or through it—and we’ll all be awash with juicy new stories once again.

Or, on the other hand, I may have forgotten how to write after all, because I think I’ve just taken that water metaphor way too far.

Monday, November 25, 2019

HERE BE NEWS for November 25, 2019

Posted by: Dani Harper, Author

Guess what? This is the last time we'll be using the "keyboard" banner - see ANNOUNCEMENTS for a peek at our new design!

Monday, November 18 
"HERE BE NEWS" - All the latest from the gang at Here Be Magic.


The D’Jacques Dynasty, 
Book 2

Futuristic/Post-Apocalyptic Romance
by Linda Mooney

Word Count: 54.5K
$3.99 e / $9.99 p

Stories of the Battle Lord and Lady of Alta Novis’s exploits have reached far and wide. Some sound almost unbelievable. That’s why Brass Cullum, along with his sons Dyer and Rayburn, have made the long trek to the D’Jacques compound to seek the help of the notorious battle lord in training an army of his own, to enable them to protect themselves from the increasing tribal attacks on his own compound.

However, not everyone is quick to trust the newcomers, and with good reason. They don’t know the Cullums have another plan, and it all hinges on luring the battle lord and lady away from the compound. With the D’Jacques gone and disposed of, they’re certain the compound will collapse on itself, making Cullum’s job easier.

Agreeing to accompany the Cullums back to their compound, the D’Jacques assemble their own small army and head out, along with their only daughter, Mistelle, and their oldest son, Mattox, leaving their youngest son to run Alta Novis in their absence. Cullum’s youngest son, Rayburn, has captured Mistelle’s attention, and he has plans to work his magic to win her over. Mattox and her best friend, Nevo, only hope she opens her eyes to see his true colors before it’s too late.

Kidnapping. Pain. Humiliation. Degradation. Mistelle won’t be beaten. She’s a D’Jacques, and she will live up to her name. But defeating the darkness in herself could prove to be more difficult.

Warning! Contains brown powder, wormy snakes, midnight talks, a lethal mutation, retaliation, a stone obelisk, and a life-long friendship that becomes the love of a lifetime.



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