#NewRelease! “Menagerie” by@JoanHallWrites #writingcommunity #readersoftwitter #whattoread #shortstories

I’m thrilled to welcome fellow Story Empire author and friend here today, Joan Hall, to talk about her latest release, “Menagerie.” Here is my review: LINK

Lone Wolf

Thank you for sharing your space with me today, Denise. It’s a pleasure to be here to tell you and your readers about my newest release, Menagerie. It’s a mixed-genre compilation of thirteen short stories. I feature a different story in each tour stop and tell what inspired me to write it. You’re an animal and nature lover like me, so today’s story is Lone Wolf.

Many of your readers will remember the late Suzanne Burke. She used to feature a weekly flash fiction photo prompt and invite readers to compose a short piece of fiction. I participated several times. One week, she shared a photo of a wolf.

Immediately, my mind went to a replica of a painting that hung on a bedroom wall in my Aunt Jessie’s house. Lone Wolf was by Polish artist Alfred Kowalski. In the painting, a wolf stood on a snow-covered hill overlooking a small village.

My creative juices began to flow. What if a lonely cowboy befriends a solitary wolf? Can a wild animal and a human develop a connection? The original flash fiction piece was around 750 words. I took the original story, expanded it to just over 3,000 words, and added a few characters.

Music also inspires my writing. John Denver fans might recognize elements of his song from the Farewell Andromeda album, “I think I’d Rather Be a Cowboy” in this story. John was also a lover of nature and an advocate of nature conservation. It’s my hope that Lone Wolf shows people and wildlife can co-exist.

Excerpt:

Jake tossed another log onto the campfire then lay back on his bedroll with his hands clasped behind his head to gaze at the countless stars. Arcturus sparkled like a diamond within the constellation Boötes, its brightness surpassed only by Venus in the western sky. The Big Dipper hovered near the horizon.

How could anyone look upon this beauty and not feel peace and contentment? The thought of living in a large city with the constant noise of traffic, honking horns, and sirens left an unpleasant taste in his mouth. Places where man-made light and pollution all but obliterated a view of the stars and where smog filled the daytime skies. Jake wanted no part of that kind of life.

Soon, the warmth of the fire lulled him to sleep. Jake wasn’t sure how long he dozed when a wolf’s howl awakened him. He listened earnestly. Most wolves in this area didn’t venture too close to civilization, but he was a good five miles from the ranch’s headquarters. The canines traveled in packs, but this one was alone. Likely a young male on the move to find new territory.

The cry faded into the distance. Assured he had nothing to fear, Jake crawled into his sleeping bag. Before long, he was sound asleep.

Blurb:

King’s. The Tower of London. Glass. What do these have in common?

Each is a famous menagerie.

While this Menagerie doesn’t focus on exotic animals, it does contain a collection of stories that explore various trials people face and how their reactions shape their worlds.

Survivors of a haunted bridge. Women who wait while their husbands fight a war. Former partners reuniting to solve a cold-case murder.

These are just three of the thirteen stories in this compendium, encompassing past and present, natural and supernatural, legend and reality. The genres and timelines are varied, but there’s a little something for everyone who enjoys reading about simpler times and small-town life.

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/jh-menagerie

About the Author

Social Media Links

Website | Blog | BookBub | Goodreads

#TankaTuesday #Ekphrastic #Poetry #Challenge, No. 304 #haibun #writingcommunity #poetrycommunity

Here is Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday Ekphrastic Poetry Challenge #304. We are to create a poem using the picture below.

I came up with a haibun. It is a prose paragraph joined with a haiku or, in my case, a senryu.

Boughton, George Henry; The Lady of the Snows; Walker Art Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-lady-of-the-snows-97671

ETERNITY’S STEP

I sat on the bench in the new year’s chill, watching the ocean waves crash against the barren shoreline. This is where I used to meet Charity… before. The day it happened, I was late because of my engagement party. Although I liked the woman I was to marry, it was not with the same passion and depth I had for my sweet Charity. It had to be this way since our families wouldn’t let us be together. I accepted that we would have to steal our precious moments. Charity accepted nothing and refused to marry out of duty like I was about to do. My love was much braver than me that day. We had talked about doing this, but I was afraid. So, she left without me, stepping into the raging waters and letting this reality slip away. Every day, I went to our place, where she stood silently by the shoreline—waiting.

ghostly love beckons…
I enter her stormy sea
eternity ours

January Book Reviews Part 2! @Ivyloganauthor @NoFacilities @pokercubster #writingcommunity #readersoftwitter #bookreviews #whattoread

 

Fifteen First Times: Beginnings: A Collection of Indelible Firsts

By D.G. Kaye

“Fifteen First Times” is a group of personal stories told in a humorous yet perceptive manner. It felt like I was sitting with Ms. Kaye having a cup of tea while she shared some of her life stories. I found it easy to relate to a first kiss, first heartbreak, or first-time driving. It got me reflecting on many of my firsts and how I navigated life after. The author’s strength, fashion sense, and humor shined through the words, painting a picture of her moments. This is a book of youthful reflections and what we can learn from all our firsts. There was also a loving dedication to her departed husband that touched my soul. This is a beautiful collection of coming-of-age stories I can easily recommend.

When Evil Chooses You: Book Three in the Dreamer’s Alliance Series

By Dan Antion

“The Evil Chooses You” is a fun sequel where Zach quickly discovers the FBI isn’t through with him and his exceptional skills. Zach wants to enjoy his retirement, but someone from his not-too-recent past has other ideas. His ability to go into his dreams and travel is too hard for some to resist using. Agent Dyer has a personal vendetta against a Senator, a Mob boss, and a local cop. He will stop at nothing to take them down, using Zach and murder to get what he wants. I enjoy the relationship between Zach, his daughter, his brother, and his best friend, Billy. They are good support for him when he needs it. He must learn whom to trust outside this circle and, in an interesting twist, find a new ally. I kept thinking about the show and movies Mission Impossible as their plan unfolded. An entertaining and unique series that offered an ending I found satisfying.

 

Origins: The Legend of Ava

By Ivy Logan

Having read and enjoyed the first two books of the Breach Chronicles, I was excited to see there was a prequel to the first story. Ava is a Heichi Sorceress who can see the future and sometimes end up there. She helplessly watches a girl racing deep into the forest. Her attempts to help or change things have repercussions she has to deal with. Ava is a character full of compassion that isn’t always appreciated. I loved she followed her heart even in the worst of situations. This quick read can be a stand-alone, but it is a great addition to a series I can easily recommend.

I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews here! If I don’t like the book, I won’t finish it. It wouldn’t be fair to leave a review for an unfinished story, and life is too short not to enjoy my reading journey!

Embrace your inner child, and read a good book! D. L. Finn

#NewRelease! “Natural Selection” by Jacqui Murray @WordDreams #writing community #readersoftwitter #whattoread

I’m thrilled to have Jacqui Murray here today to talk about her latest release, “Natural Selection,” from her amazing prehistorical series Dawn of Humanity! Here is my review: LINK

What I learned from Lucy

When I wrote my first novel, To Hunt a Sub, I learned a lot about life from my characters (which I shared here). That novel is set in the present day while my newest novel, Natural Selection, the third book in my Dawn of Humanity trilogy, is set 1.8 million years ago. These characters have little culture, no art, no religion or spirituality, no personal adornments, no houses, can’t use fire, don’t wear clothes, and their most advanced technology is stone tools. What could I possibly learn from their primitive lives?

Turns out, a lot. Intelligence isn’t the same as common sense and often, the latter is more important than the former. Here’s what I learned (you’ll have to buy the book to see how these skills are accomplished. Rest assured, it will be worth it):

  • How to catch fish without a rod or net. Your hands, used properly, do well.
  • Seconds and minutes aren’t important. It’s all about daylight. In fact, I no longer wear a watch.
  • You can tell time without a watch. Lots of survivalists and nature lovers use this unplugged approach.
  • Watch my backtrail. Two reasons: 1) see if anyone is following, and 2) see what things look like for the return journey. Lots of hikers do this.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Listen, smell, notice, repeat. For example, if the insects fall silent, there’s probably danger. If a covey of birds explode into the sky, something threatened them that might also threaten you.
  • Stick your finger in scat (poop). If it’s warm, the animal who made that deposit is close!
  • Nature has many natural remedies for illness, wounds, and injuries. 
  • Licking someone’s face is comforting. Wolves greet pack members this way. It feels good.
  • Wolves are gentle. They aggressively defend their pack, are well-equipped to hunt food, and are welcoming. I’m not saying you should pet a wolf. I’m saying don’t shoot it on sight just because someone told you wolves are dangerous.
  • You can eat anything if you’re hungry enough. A reader gave one of the Crossroads books one star out of five because she got sick of the disgusting slugs and worms the people ate. Well, this was a time before the bounty of farming, before the dominance of man’s weapons over animals. These people were hunters and gatherers, living off the land, thankful for anything edible. If you watch Bear Grylls’ Man vs. Wild, you’ll see he does the same.
  • You can run down a herd. This as much as spears turned man into a hunter of meat.
  • You don’t have to see to get around. Like you, I thought I did, and then one of my characters lost 90% of his sight. Since I have Glaucoma, which ends in blindness for a certain percent of victims, my character’s solutions brought me comfort.
  • A carry sack is best made from animal stomachs. And who doesn’t need a sack to carry stuff in while hiking?
  • Don’t kill something just because you’re afraid it will kill you.
  • Never approach prey with horns or antlers from the front.

What do you learn from your characters?

Summary 

In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribemembers captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events. 

Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined. 

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears! 

Book trailer:

https://youtu.be/jZhlvou9hvg 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

One Pack Ends, Another Begins 

Africa   

The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.

He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.

To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds.

And fell.

He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river.

Or a cliff.

When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.

Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.

He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.

I live.

But no one else in his pack did.

Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.

Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.

All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.

Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.

Why did she go here?

He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than comfort, or rest.

Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.

But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.

Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.

Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.

His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to back pedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.

While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.

Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won. The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.

He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.

He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.

Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long-dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.

Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next. When he couldn’t find her trace, instinct drove him and memories of the dying howls of his pack, from the adults who trusted their Alpha Ragged-ear to protect them to the whelps who didn’t understand the presence of evil in their bright world.

Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.

Book information: 

Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray

Series: Book 3 in the Dawn of Humanity series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Editor: Anneli Purchase

Available print or digital) at: 

http://a-fwd.com/asin=B0B9KPM5BW

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman , the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. 

Social Media contacts: 

Amazon Author Page:         https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                        https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                              https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                    http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

 

January Book Reviews Part 1! @harmony_kent @LGauffreau #writingcommunity #bookreviews #whattoread #readersoftwitter

The Bubble Reputation

By Alex Craigie

“The Bubble Reputation” is a chilling read showing the dark side of social media and news. Emmie has it all. She is a successful children’s author, on a show, happily married, and close to her parents. After she wins an award, things change after a fabricated story is posted about her to increase profits. She tries to let it pass, but the anger and outrage directed at her take on a life of its own. Her reputation is ruined, and there isn’t a shortage of people, including a family member, trying to make money off it. She was a character with whom I felt her pain as her life spun out of control. She quickly found out who had her back and who wanted to see her downfall. I loved the relationship between her and her husband and her parents. This story was a dire warning of what can happen when an editor and journalist decides they can say whatever they want about another human, regardless of the consequences. The sad part was how a portion of her young reader’s parents quickly believed whatever they read about Emmie, and from there, it spiraled out of control. A quick read that I couldn’t put and can easily recommend.

Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance

By Elizabeth Gauffreau

A beautiful collection of family history that Ms. Gauffreau paired personal photographs with a tanka poem to bring history to life. “Grief Songs” is a tribute to the author’s parents and brother and their life together. It reads like a memoir that vividly transports the reader to the past through images and words. It is a quick and moving read that shares moments in time. This is a compelling reminder that even though we lose our loved ones, our journey with them is never forgotten. I can easily recommend this book to those who enjoy poetry and memoirs.

 

Sorrowful Soul: Book 3 in the Soul Poetry Series

By Harmony Kent

I have read and enjoyed the first two books in this series. I was looking forward to reading this collection, yet I worried it would be a heavy read. Instead of heavy, it was powerful. The free verse poetry told a story with vivid images and emotions that explored loss. Arranged by the seven stages of grief, the words painted a picture of the expected feelings during the process. All of us face a loss at some point in our lives, leaving us to deal with it in our own way. This book lets us know it’s okay to be in denial, sad, or angry at a situation out of our control. In the end, hope peeked through, offering a new road to take once we journey through our grief and hopelessness. For those who can’t see that light, Ms. Kent offered some valuable information for those who might need someone to talk to. This is a must-read for those who love emotional poetry that provides understanding and healing.

I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews here! If I don’t like the book, I won’t finish it. It wouldn’t be fair to leave a review for an unfinished story, and life is too short not to enjoy my reading journey!

Embrace your inner child, and read a good book! D. L. Finn

New Release! “The Last Drive” by John W. Howell @HowellWave #newbook #newrelease #writingcommunity #readersoftwitter #mustread

I’m so happy to have fellow Story Empire writer and friend, John W. Howell here today to share his latest release. I loved Eternal Road and was eager to read The Last Drive. It was a fantastic second book! Here is my review: LINK

I am so pleased to be with you today, Denise. I want to thank you for helping spread the word about The Last Drive. Your philosophy about paying attention to your inner child is one that curiously enough came in handy while I was writing this book. All too often we pull up short wondering if our readers will accept what we have written. In the case of The Last Drive there are scenes of man’s inhumanity to man that made me pause. I finally looked at the situation much like a child would approach such a subject. I asked myself three questions.1. Is the history a real event? 2. Should the event be remembered? 3.Will writing about the event serve a purpose. The answer to all three was yes and so the book was born.

Here is the blurb and then we can get to a short excerpt from the book.

The Blurb

In the sequel to Eternal Road – The final stop, Sam and James are reunited to look for two souls, Ryan and Eddie. Ryan was killed in Afghanistan, trying to avoid a schoolyard with his crippled plane. Eddie Rickenbacker, Ryan’s hero, is to guide Ryan to his Eternal Home, and now both are missing.

The higher-ups believe that there has been some interference in Ryan and Eddie’s journey by Lucifer, so Sam and James have the task of finding Ryan and Eddie to get them back on the road despite the evil interference. Unfortunately, the machinations designed to prevent Ryan and Eddy from completing their journey take the pair to horrifying testing grounds. The places visited represent the best work of the Devil. They are the trenches of World War I in France, gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, the sinking Titanic in 1912, Hiroshima 45 minutes before the bomb, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.

This book is for you if you like plenty of action, strong characters, time travel, and a touch of spiritual and historical fiction. So, join Sam and James as they try to find the missing souls while staying one step ahead of the Prince of Darkness, who is determined to destroy all that is good.

An Excerpt.

James walks toward his chair. On the way, he picks up his book and, over his shoulder, says, “Was I drugged? Is there something in this tea?”

Sam laughs and follows him to the chair. “No.”

“Speaking of tea, would you like some?”

Sam shakes her head. “No, thank you. I came to ask a favor. Not for a social visit.”

“Any favor you want would be my pleasure to deliver.” James stops talking and looks, shamefaced, at the book in his hand. “Sorry, that cheesy line is in this thing. What do you need from me?”

Sam’s forehead furrows. “We have a soul, and a guide, somewhere on the Eternal Road, and they’ve gone missing.”

James’s eyes widen. “The way we did?’

“Perhaps. The Archangel asked for us to try and find the pair.”

James rubs his chin. “Who are they?”

“Eddie Rickenbacker and Ryan Sanders.”

The Eddie Rickenbacker?”

“Yes, the same.”

“Who’s Ryan Sanders?”

“He was a captain in the US Air Force. He saved a bunch of civilians in Afghanistan by staying with his crippled airplane till it hit the ground and exploded.”

“So, he’s a hero.”

“I think so.”

“Good enough. Where do I sign?”

A Link to the Trailer

You Tube https://youtu.be/HEUninXiibI

Buy Links

The Last Drive is available in paper and Kindle editions on Amazon. Here are the universal links. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢ through mid-February.

Kindle https://mybook.to/FYmkKr

Paper https://mybook.to/BCsWV

Author Bio

John is an award-winning author who after an extensive business career began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written Six other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Author links

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/john-w-howell

Eternal Road Buy links

Kindle Universal link mybook.to/EternalRoad

Paper universal link mybook.to/Eternalroadpaper

Books read in 2022! #writingcommunity #readersoftwitter #readinglist #booksread

I finished the year with 109 reads. On this list are one repeat and a couple of missed books that I couldn’t find on Goodreads. I forgot to go back and add them later and also forgot which books it was 🙂 So I just left it as is.

I am trying for 75 books this year and hoping for 100. Happy reading everyone 🙂