Today is #RRBC Random Acts of Kindness Day! I like to pick a fellow member that I haven’t read before for my random act of kindness. I randomly picked Heather Kindt off my Twitter Support Team list. I added her book “The Weaver” to my TBR list and will read and review it in the next couple of weeks. Please welcome Heather here today!
Most writers choose the endings to their stories . . . most writers are not Weavers.
Laney Holden is a freshman at Madison College whose life goes from normal to paranormal in a matter of seconds. When the antagonist in the book she’s writing shoves her down the stairs at the subway station, she learns she is a Weaver. Weavers bridge the narrow gap between fantasy and reality, bringing their words to life.
Laney soon meets William whom she also suspects is a character from her book—one she’s had a mad crush on since her pen hit the paper. But he’s in danger as her antagonist reveals a whole different ending planned for Laney’s book that involves killing William. Laney must use her writing to save the people closest to her by weaving the most difficult words she will ever write.
THE WEAVER is the first installment of The Weaver trilogy. It is an NA paranormal romance set in a small town on the north shore of Boston. It will leave you wanting more.
Second-grade teacher Dottie Gale lives in the tiny town of Quandary, Kansas, which is pretty much smack dab in the middle of nowhere. No mountains. No ocean. No life. Her ex-boyfriend and current school board member, Corbin Lane, cheated on her, making school functions more than a little awkward. But worst of all, a tornado named Maxine Westward rips through Dottie’s school as the new principal and has made her life at work a living hell. When Dottie is chosen to go to a teacher’s conference in Las Vegas, she knows her life is going to change. Driving from Quandary to Vegas, three strangers enter her life. Through a string of situations involving poppies, flying monkeys, and a life-size sculpture of an iconic rock star the four soon become inseparable. So, when Westward arrives on her broom in Vegas, Dottie is ready for battle. Her boss black mails her with stories of incarceration, thievery, and a steamy relationship with her travel companion, but Dottie knows that those who hurl insults shouldn’t hold secrets of their own.
About Heather Kindt
Heather Kindt grew up in Derry, New Hampshire, but now resides in the mountains of Colorado with her husband and two children. She loves writing YA fantasy and humorous fiction. Her debut novel, Ruby Slips and Poker Chips, won the Dan Alatorre Word Weaver Writing Contest. To learn more about her and the great things that are coming in her writing world, visit her website at http://heatherkindt.com.
I’m excited to have fellow #RRBC author, Sandra Cox back here for “TumbleStar” release day, 10-14! I can’t wait to read it.
“Something on your mind?”
That was another thing she’d forgotten. How easily he read her. Considering her attraction to him, that definitely wasn’t a good thing. Nerves had her pleating a piece of her skirt between her fingers. But she looked him in the eye when she spoke. “I was wondering why you didn’t bring her in the house instead of sticking her in that dark little hut.”
He rocked on his heels and studied her. “What do you think?”
She gave him a level look, but couldn’t bring herself to make an accusation. There had to be another explanation. “I don’t know, Coop. That’s why I’m asking you.”
His face darkened. She could almost see the anger roll through him. He’d always had a quick temper. Got over it quick too.
“You think it’s because she was captured by the Indians and has a half breed son? Come on, Randa. You know me better than that.”
“I knew you better than that. It’s been a few years. Men change.”
“So do women. There was a time that thought would have never entered your head.”
She shrugged. “And I don’t really believe it now.”
Relief spread like sunshine across his features. Wiping out the angry.
Just like a popup storm, she thought. Here and gone.
“So, tell me. Why did you stick her in that dreary little shed of a building instead of the ranch house? My heart knows you even if my head questions. What was the reason?”
He drew himself up and looked down his nose at her. “I don’t make a habit of explaining myself, Miranda.”
She remembered that too. And the fact that he’d used her full name just went to show the storm wasn’t over.
“But I will.”
He held up a finger. “It’s where we take all the injured and sick because it’s close to Coosie.” He held up a second finger. “Yes, it’s dreary and it’s a shed, but it will be theirs. I told Anna she’s welcome to stay on once she’s better. We can use her help with the cooking, sewing and cleaning. As time allows, we’ll add a couple of bedrooms and windows. I figured she’d be more comfortable if she had a place she could call hers, no matter how small. I know the boy would.”
Remorse washed through her as heat flooded her cheeks. When had she got so smallminded? There must be some of her father in her after all. “I’m sorry, Coop. I sometimes forget, no matter how much trouble you got into, you always led with your heart.”
“You instigated your fair share of that trouble, Randa.” His voice gruff, his dark, slashing eyebrows still maintained their downward spiral.
She gave him a playful nudge in the ribs. “I learned from the best.”
The eyebrows rose to their normal position and his lips quirked in that lopsided smile that showed a snaggletooth and made her knees weak.
Sandra is a vegetarian, animal lover and avid gardener. She lives with her husband, their dog and several cats in sunny North Carolina.
Besides western and western romance, Sandra also writes time-travel, paranormal and regency romance, young adult fantasy and non-fiction. She is a category bestselling Amazon author, Eppie finalist and Golden Ankh Award winner.
I read and loved “The Hat,” so I was sure I’d be entertained in “Viral Blues.” This is an action-filled story of an unlikely group being thrown together to stop a plot to spread illness and death. It had a superhero feel with an apocalyptic-supernatural scenario and a lot of humor. The talking hat provided for much of that humor. I enjoyed the hat’s relationship with Lizzie and their band, but there were characters I enjoyed getting to know from previous books that I haven’t read. This includes a man who turns into a mist, a tough guy, and a robot, all adding their flavor to this wonderful mix of personalities. Each one had a different approach, but they found a way to work together. It wasn’t necessary to have read the past books, but after reading this story, I’ll be reading them. I highly recommend this humorous, thrilling ride!
Sixteen-year-old Maisie and her family move from the U.K. to France for her father’s work. I loved where they lived, the culture, and the countryside surrounding their community. It drew me into that part of the book. The house they move into is run down with part of the roof missing. The family makes the best of it, but tragedy strikes when her brother disappears. The story moved at a faster pace after Maisie’s brother went missing. Although there was a mystery, I found the aftermath of that event more dominate for Maisie and her family. Maisie seemed rather mature for her age, but she was strong-willed and as confused as a teenager would be. I rooted for her but didn’t fully connect with her until halfway through. I liked some subjects covered, including alcoholism and drinking and driving. “Strawberry Moon” crossed the line once, at least for me as a YA read, along with a reaction that I wished had more reflection on Maisie’s part. Still, this story held my interest until the last page. I’m hoping there’s a second book to resolve all those unanswered questions.
This is the second book of the Crossroads trilogy, and it picks up right where “Survival of the Fittest” left off. I loved the first book and couldn’t wait to continue the journey. Xhosa continues her quest to get her people to safety. Although I loved Xhosa’s strength and interactions with her people, it’s the wolf that held my heart. The journey in this prehistory world is fast-paced and full of danger. The details drew me into their world without weighing down the action. There is the perspective through the group that broke off from Xhosa’s people which added to the depth of this narrative. The characters all struggled to survive with sustenance, shelter, and the quest for control which is not much different than modern times. I’m enthralled with prehistoric fiction and this series. I can’t wait for book three. I highly recommend “The Quest for Home” and the rest of the Crossroads books!
This is an interesting book of Igbo Mythology that follows a young boy, Osondu and his mother, Gloria, after death. There are different journeys and lessons they learn in the afterlife. The first part focuses more on the son and the second part of the story his mother as they interact with other souls and gods along the way. I found it easier to connect with the mother’s journey than Osondu. I especially loved the places Gloria’s adventures took her to. Some parts left me thinking and wondering about our souls and my own beliefs about what is coming. I found it fascinating reading this perspective from Nigerian Igbo Myths and appreciated all the details that went into it. If you are a fan of myths and legends, you should enjoy this.
1. Forgive my silence on social media this week, our power, along with 800,000 customers, was shut down for fire safety in Northern California. It lasted three days here. Luckily, we have a generator that powers our well, fridge, microwave, and outlets in the bedroom for my husband’s sleep apnea machine. We haven’t used this new generator since we got it a few years ago for more than a couple of hours. This purchase followed spending a week without water or power eight years ago after an early snowstorm. So this outage was like a five-star hotel for me. The downside? We only had two cans of gas. Unfortunately, all but one local station was closed. My husband spent a long time in line one night. Then the following evening, he made the trek to another town much further away but had open stations. Usually, we can get supplies locally when we are powerless, but they shut everyone down. This weekend, lots of food is being thrown away, but thankfully no fires here. I’m sure I’ll be talking about this more, but right now I’m happy to enjoy all the amenities that modern living offers, including having our landline back and the internet. The world becomes very distant when you are cut off from it. I worry this has become our new normal and it will happen again. Sending prayers to Southern California where the fires rage.
2. I will be on a short vacation with my daughter on Thursday through Sunday. My time online will be limited, but I will share a picture or two:)
3. There will be two special edition blogs this week. Don’t miss out.
4. Next week will be part 2 of my reviews. All the short stories.
Embrace your inner child with a book this fall! D. L. Finn
Welcome to my stop on the #RRBC OCTOBER-WEEN BOOK, BLOG & TRAILER BLOCK PARTY!
Here’s the winners:
(1) $10 Amazon gift card – John Fioravanti
(1) $5 Amazon gift card – Susanne Leist
For a chance to win one of these two prizes all you have to do is leave a comment below.
I’m sharing a poem I wrote after an unusual experience in Hawaii and all my adult and children’s books. I don’t expect you to watch all seven trailers, just the ones that interest you. I’ve included my short stories with their blurbs, too. If you’re intrigued, all you have to do is click on the title!
I swam next to my youngest daughter.
Face mask pressed tightly to my face,
Snorkel positioned, providing air.
A large silver-fish followed us
Circling in a mutual curiosity
Slicing slowly through the salty water
I snapped pictures capturing each moment.
Blue, yellow, black, green, and silver sea creatures
Decorated the clear cobalt liquid,
Until an eye-catching fish swaddled in a rainbow
Lured us in another direction.
Our flippers propelled us through the dull gray coral.
Unexpectedly, the reef burst into pink and purple.
Here the tiny yellow fish with black spots were on diverse display.
A school of thin blue-fish glided at the top of the water
While I floated above this underwater magic…
Trying to record these memories.
Suddenly, to my left, something large caught my eye.
In-between my daughter and I was a substantial sea turtle– a honu.
I met the honu’s gaze and wisdom was reflected back
We swam for eternity, just the three of us
Our souls recognized the significance of this occasion.
Then the honu glanced at me one more time
And with a slight nod from her, that I returned
She sped away into the riptide.
Gone from our sight, but not our hearts
I’m gifted with a saturating-perception of potential
What happens when you’re living the good life after retirement and your world suddenly turns upside down? Will and Cass Henderson learn the truth after a family member is murdered, but no one believes them because they’re the prime suspects. The Hendersons have a red-eyed killer in the family, and they’re next on its kill list.
All alone on Christmas Eve, Kenzie was feeling the betrayal of her recent break-up. While the sky was heavy with the dark clouds of an impending storm, she walked home from work to clear her head. Lost in her memories, Kenzie was completely unaware she was being followed by a man with green-eyes. Was this not-so-human being the good or evil that lurked around her? On the most magical night of the year, will Kenzie be able to save herself from that evil or will she need some divine inspiration? The outcome will depend on whether she can find the strength to forgive as the storm not only rages outside, but deep within her soul.
Can you believe everything you read? Steve must answer that question when he finds a strange blog while searching for his friend’s address. It was crazy to consider the government would poison a lake to find Bigfoot–and Steve wasn’t crazy. But, there were also some truths weaved into this unbelievable tale. Steve began to question his comfortable reality as he kept reading.
Last week I walked on the magical trail with Sara, our dog. I sat on the bench and composed poetry while taking in the beauty. This dragonfly landed and kept me company while I wrote. Here’s one of those poems.
My mind is adrift in a fog of apathy
So, I let it wander, like a Sunday drive.
As I peer deeply into the thickened air
My forward-path is frozen…
When the heaviness of the moment obscures it.
I pull over to wait it out
I get out of my vehicle and find lights
They are dim in the gloom…
But, I’m grateful as my feet meet a solid path
There’s a gazebo ahead with a twinkling glow.
The haze dispels, and I flow in
A chair awaits that I thankfully sink into
I close my eyes and breathe. Just breathe
Pulling a blanket over the chill, I nestle into the joy
Sometimes when it isn’t possible to advance
I can find my way on a fringe trail.
Here I settle into the interlude
And immerse my essence into life’s magic.
Watch for a special edition blog this week.
Next Sunday, instead of my regular blog, I’ll be hosting my day of the#RRBC 2019 OCTOBER-WEEN BLOCK PARTY! Stop by and say hello:)
Happy Fall! The dogwood leaves are just starting to make the change from green to red. The air is cooler, at least for now, and we’ve had our first rare September rain. Although we will be in high fire danger until the weather fully changes over that doesn’t take away the glory of this harvest season. This is one of my favorite times of the year because it includes both Halloween and Thanksgiving. I already have my spiderweb sheets on my bed.
Books, like the seasons, add change to our lives. Here are my picks for this fall with my comments again:
This book talks about a subject I don’t like to think about much less read, but the author wrote it in a fashion that I could do it. What I took away from this is there are terrible people in this world, but at the same time there are heroes, too. It gave me a lot to think about after which is a gift leftover from a story.
I knew the topic going into reading this fictional book: child trafficking. Mr. Bierman shows the reader the process, including how children are kidnapped from their families–or the worst when their families sell them into slavery. The poverty and greed that uses children…I have a hard time absorbing that and worried this would be a hard read for me, but it wasn’t. The storyline centers on two American men doing missionary work in Haiti. A young girl is kidnapped, and they start on a journey to find her. The story’s told through different characters, which held my interest as they became interwoven. The action is non-stop and I had a hard time putting it down. I was fully invested in the characters and had a range of emotions from joy to sadness. This is a book that can make you think about an unpleasant subject, while being a good fictional story that entertains. I can easily recommend “Vanished” especially if you love action and the depth of a thought-provoking subject put together.
I haven’t read westerns in years. No reason really, but there was always so many other things to read and not enough time to read everything. Not that I don’t try😊. Being a fan of this author’s paranormal and cat books already, I decided to read her western. I’m glad I did. The details and storyline pulled me right in and made me add westerns back onto my reading list.
When Brandon hired a new trail hand to help herd the Longhorns to market, no one knew it was a woman. I loved the characters and relationships. They were well developed and progressed at a natural rate. The fatherly role of Cookie, Brandon, and Alexandria/Alex or the friendships Alex developed were my favorites. The mystery of why Alex was in this situation kept me intrigued, and there were a few twists I didn’t expect because of that. The setting was detailed and beautifully described. I could imagine being back on the Chisholm Trail or Brandon’s ranch in Texas. My love of animals appreciated Alex’s devotion to her horse, dog, and cattle. I adored this romantic western adventure and highly recommend it!
I’m a fan of unique stories and quirky characters. This book has that and more, between the friendships, house, town and of course the cat. It’s a town I wouldn’t mind living in. The magic and mystery sprinkled throughout is a reminder of life’s gifts and to embrace that inner child.
Ralda Lawton decides to start a new life. She places a low bid on a house that comes with its own cemetery and wins. She relocates into the small town and immediately meets her neighbors. The relationship she develops with her new friends, Lacy, Racine and Bethany remind me of some of my own friends. Then there is the two good-looking mysterious men she runs into Gwydion and Cael. Both hold her interest, curiosity and trigger her inner warning. My favorite character is Lilith her calico cat. I enjoy her POV throughout the story and insights into the humans and the non-humans. I love the magic, mystery, relationships, paranormal, a hint of romance and karma in this uniquely well-written story. I can’t wait to read the second book in this series and see what happens next in Atonement.
I like to pick my favorite read after #RRBC has its short story contest and this year I’ll share my pick. There were a couple I loved and it was hard to choose. This was the one I connected with the most. I could have been sitting with those women and doing something like the characters did. This story tapped into that action and made the impossible seem real. Plus, the ending allowed me to decide, and I did.
Two friends are drinking away Claire’s pain. All in good fun, Claire and Jade make a Voodoo doll resembling the husband who just left Claire for another woman. Ms. Sikes wrote this in a fashion that felt authentic to me. There was a woman betrayed and heartbroken with a friend trying to cheer her up. I could easily imagine sitting with these two women, making a doll to work through all the bad feelings with an unexpected outcome. This short story was a quick read, but a complete story that I thoroughly enjoyed—and highly recommend!
2019 was to be the year of the Leader. I would try new things that would lead me in new directions. I quickly found out it was 2019 that would lead me. After the flu, which I’m still not 100 percent, deaths, other issues, and loss, I found myself burnt out and rethinking writing and life. I’ve tried adding new things to my life to regain that spark, and it lasts for a bit then this feeling of doubt creeps back in. It applies to most aspects of my life and has bled into my writing or my lack of it.
Yes, I still enjoy walking in nature while taking all the beauty and peace in, and spending time with family but something still nags at me. Swimming with the turtle was a spiritual experience on an elevated level but still—something is off. I can’t quite place my finger on what it is.
Usually, I have a book ready to release this time of year. It sits waiting for me to edit. I haven’t found that connection to it yet, which I hope will be there in the next go-around. So, I’m waiting to tackle that and save up for professional editing. I’ve written some poetry but lack the enthusiasm to do it more often—like when I’m on the back of the Harley. I’ve been working on a short story collection but walk away from a story when I can’t figure out what’s missing.
That is what I’m feeling. Something is missing. The joy of writing that I started with has become more about learning all the rules and proper ways to do everything. It took over my creative side and left more doubt about what I was doing creatively. I know people will either like or dislike what I write. I’ve always been okay with that, but I have to like what I’m doing.
My life has become more a list of things to do rather than looking forward to exploring. It’s been too much news and less creating my own. Then nothing gets done because I’m trying too hard in the wrong places. My mind is in a fog, and that bleeds over into my responsibilities. I no longer can keep track of everything in my head like I used to. I won’t mention how expensive that can end up being.
So, at a strange crossroads, I look forward to with more than a bit of dread. All the negativity that our society has been swimming in has flooded my household. Yes, bad things happen, but how I react to them is my only control over that.
I ponder my questions. Do I want to keep writing, blogging, and socially interacting? Do I want to keep learning and improving? How do I survive my demons which flow into all aspects of my life? Will my health improve, or will I spend most days laying down working and then exercising only to have to rest again from that? Do I push on and plaster that smile on my face and hope it passes? Will I have to suffer as I age like I’ve seen many times?
This is where life led me this year. To the point of wondering, thinking, and having to deal with all that goes with that. Going back to what started me writing and then publishing. Joy. Expressing and not worrying about where it was going or why I was doing it. Intuition. This year led me to silence those critics internal and external that have almost muzzled me. I have forgotten to take care of me—all of me—spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
I have reverted into old bad habits. This is where the leader came in for me this year. It would be a year I lead me back to…. me.
Going forward, I won’t worry about my self-imposed deadlines, that I can’t keep track of everything like I used to, or what my body can no longer do. I will write the things that bring me joy that hopefully will do the same for others. This journey will reflect in my writing like it always has as I embrace that inner spark my child always knew existed. I will finish my next book when life gently lands back to that place again, where joy is always waiting.
Year of the leader? Yes.
I sent out my monthly newsletter on the 20th. Check your email if you missed it!
There will be a special edition blog, “Books that changed me–fall edition.”
I don’t always have advanced notice of other special addition blogs to post here, but I hope you can stop by and say hello if you notice them in your email!
Thanks for hosting me for my novel launch and book fair.
Hi everyone. I’m Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, and I’ve brought a bunch of friends for this shindig on a magical 1920s trolley. First let me tell you a little about my new novel.
When my character, Paisley Idelle Peabody (better known as Pip) came along, I started writing a type of fiction that I never expected. Pip is a flapper. Her stories took me to Savannah, Georgia of the 1920s.
It’s only natural that some ghosts got in on the act. After all, many people say that Savannah is the most haunted city in the USA! Here’s the blurb for this novel.
A Ghost in the Kitchen, Three Ingredients-2 continues the flapper adventures of Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip. It’s a 1920s “pantser” story and a culinary mystery. This time Pip’s pal Andy (from The Three Things Serial Story) returns. Granny Phanny is there too. She’s still trying to teach Pip to cook. Granny is in a lather because of the supernatural goings-on in her kitchen. There’s also one pos-i–lutely potent poltergeist!
New adventures abound as Pip and Andy unravel an old mystery. It’s all spontaneously driven by “ingredients” sent by readers of the blog, Teagan’s Books.
Did you hear the bell clang? Our magic trolley is here!
There are links galore, so limber up your clicking finger and jump on the trolley. Here’s a map showing some locations. Friends who promised to participate in my launch will be at some of these haunted places. They’ll get on the magical blog party trolley as we tour haunted Savannah!
I just wish this 1920s trolley could move faster… Oh! A brass lamp just clattered to the ground. There’s purple smoke coming out.
“Your wish is my command!”
Aladin Fazel– my favorite magician! Now the trolley can go anywhere.
At the top of the map is the Moon River Brewing Company. That’s a good place to start incase anyone needs some liquid courage for this ghostly adventure!
There’s Christoph Fischer. Duck! A rowdy, spifflicated ghost just threw a beer bottle. Olga NúñezMiret is helping him Christoph get away from the spirited spirit and onto our trolley. Welcome aboard, Olga and Christoph. You two look darb in your 1920s glad rags.
Magician, those ghosts are going to follow Olga and Christoph all the way to the trolley. Can you please get us to the next stop?
We’ve traveled east, closer to the river. Our trolley is on a bluff above the River Walk. Now we’re at Factor’s Walk. The foundations of some of these buildings date back to the late 1700s. D. L. Finnand Valentina Cirasola should be waiting for us there. Ah, there they are, beside one of the sealed-off tunnel entrances. Love those hats, ladies! Applesauce, hurry to the trolley. There are shadow figures all around us!
Tunnels that originate in this area have been known to send ghastly moans into the still night air. Look out, DyannaWyndesong! A tall shadow was sneaking up behind you. Get back on the trolley, quick!
Yes, that’s one of the many tunnels. They make a labyrinth beneath Savannah. Wow, we’re going into the haunted tunnel.
Magician, why are you slowing the trolley? You must see something ahead in this creepy tunnel… Oh! It’s a poster for Teri Polen’s yearly October event, Bad Moon Rising!
I’ll be there on October, 18th, chatting with Teri about all sorts of Halloween-ish things, as well as my novella, Brother Love — a Crossroad. I hope everyone will join us for the fun.
Since this is a magical trolley the tunnel will take us directly the Sorrel Weed House where we’ll pick up two more guests. Just beware the lady in black! I hope John W. Howell and Dan Antion know about her. Oh-oh! John and Dan, that’s no damsel in distress, it’s a mean ghost. Hurry over here to the trolley, guys!
If you’ll keep the trolley heading south, Magician, we can pick up Michael (from OIKOS Publishing) at the Andrew Low House. I see that Jan Sikesis meeting us there too. Jan don’t go in that room! Through the window I see Juilette Gordon Low lying on the bed – but she died in 1927! Michael, watch out for that butler at the top of the stairs too. His clothes went out of style 150 years ago. Those are ghosts. You two better get on the trolley fast!
Aladin, this is great! You found a magic tunnel to take us north east. Sally Croninand Jacquie Biggar are waiting for us at the Colonial Park Cemetery. Ladies, I realize that handsome young man invited you to follow him. Don’t bother. He’ll just disappear once he goes inside the gate. He died a long, long time ago.
Applesauce! All these spooky apparitions have given me an appetite. Shall we find a haunted restaurant? Ah, the 17Hundred90 Inn & Restaurant is on our way. Robbie Cheadle and Marje Mallonare already there. Robbie, take care. That little boy is really a ghost. Marje, I know you feel sorry for Anna, but she’s been waiting for her lost love since before any of us were born. She’s a specter too.
That ghostly cook, does not seem nearly as friendly as Maestro Martino, the cursed chef in A Ghost in the Kitchen. She’s banging her pots and pans and making a quite ruckus. What’s our next stop, Magician?
Now we’re at The Marshall House. It’s a haunted hotel where we’re picking up Chris Graham, the Story Reading Ape. What’s that dear Ape? You say your “naughty chimp” nephews are in a game of “tag,” chasing the ghosts of children who run up and down the halls there? They’re all having a great time!
Hey, there’s Traci Kenworthtoo, down at the other end of the building. Come on to the trolley, Traci. Those little ghosts are starting to raise a ruckus.
Thanks to Aladin and our magical trolley, we’ve taken another of those hidden tunnels. Now, we’re almost back where we started, between River Street and Factors Walk. We have one more stop. We need to pick up ResaMcConaghy and Jacqui Murrayat the Olde Harbour Inn.
Oh! They’re already running to the trolley. I expect the spirit known as Hank tried to crawl into bed with at least one of them. I also smell his cigar smoke. I think I’d run too!
Alright everyone. Pip and Granny Phanny are waiting for us at the cottage. Granny is eager to start her book fair. She’s a real bearcat, and she won’t like it if we’re late. So let’s get a wiggle on!
Granny Phanny’s Book Fair
Welcome to the book fair. All these authors volunteered to help me by sharing this magic trolley tour of haunted Savannah. Their books are all swell. So I put them in pos-i-lutely random order. Hopefully that will lead you to look at some things you might not typically read. You’ll find purchase links below the cover images.
Sheiks and Shebas, thanks so very much for getting on the magical trolley for this tour. Ya’ll are pos-i-lutely the berries!
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
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I’m very pleased to have author, Jacqui Murray here today with her new release, “The Quest for Home.” I loved the first book in the Crossroads trilogy series and can’t wait to continue the journey!
The Quest for Home hints at a spiritual side to man. Is that accurate?
Scientists have no idea when man’s spirituality started. Because 850,000 years ago (when Xhosa lived) is considered prehistory—before any sort of recorded record—there’s no way to tell. The Quest for Homeoffers one speculative theory of how that could have happened
Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind her African homeland, leading her People on a grueling journey through unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with her life.
The story isset 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, the one destined to obliterate any who came before.
Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life, prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.
Northern shore of what we now call the Mediterranean Sea
Pain came first, pulsing through her body like cactus spines. When she moved her head, it exploded. Flat on her back and lying as still as possible, Xhosa blindly clawed for her neck sack with the healing plants. Her shoulder screamed and she froze, gasping.
How can anything hurt that much?
She cracked one eye, slowly. The bright sun filled the sky, almost straight over her head.
And how did I sleep so long?
Fractured memories hit her—the raging storm, death, and helplessness, unconnected pieces that made no sense. Overshadowing it was a visceral sense of tragedy that made her shake so violently she hugged her chest despite the searing pain. After it passed, she pushed up on her arms and shook her head to shed the twigs and grit that clung to her long hair. Fire burned through her shoulders, up her neck and down her arms, but less than before. She ignored it.
A shadow blocked Sun’s glare replaced by dark worried eyes that relaxed when hers caught his.
“Nightshade.” Relief washed over her and she tried to smile. Somehow, with him here, everything would work out.
Her Lead Warrior leaned forward. Dripping water pooled at her side, smelling of salt, rotten vegetation, mud, and blood.
“You are alright, Leader Xhosa,” he motioned, hands erratic. Her People communicated with a rich collection of grunts, sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and arm movements, all augmented with whistles, hoots, howls, and chirps.
“Yes,” but her answer came out low and scratchy, the beat inside her chest noisy as it tried to burst through her skin. Tears filled her eyes, not from pain but happiness that Nightshade was here, exactly where she needed him. His face, the one that brought fear to those who might attack the People and devastation to those who did, projected fear.
She cocked her head and motioned, “You?”
Deep bruises marred swaths of Nightshade’s handsome physique, as though he had been pummeled by rocks. An angry gash pulsed at the top of his leg. His strong upper arm wept from a fresh wound, its raw redness extending up his stout neck, over his stubbled cheek, and into his thick hair. Cuts and tears shredded his hands.
“I am fine,” and he fell silent. Why would he say more? He protected the People, not whined about injuries.
When she fumbled again for her neck sack, he reached in and handed her the plant she needed, a root tipped with white bulbs. She chewed as Nightshade scanned the surroundings, never pausing anywhere long, always coming back to her.
The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. Sweltering heat hammered down, sucking up the last of the rain that had collected in puddles on the shore. Xhosa’s protective animal skin was torn into shreds but what bothered her was she couldn’t remember how she got here.
“Nightshade, what happened?”
Her memories were a blur—terrified screams and flashes of people flying through the air, some drowning, others clinging desperately to bits of wood.
Nightshade motioned, slowly, “The storm—it hit us with a fury, the rain as heavy and fierce as a waterfall.”
A memory surfaced. Hawk, the powerful leader of the Hawk People, one arm clutching someone as the other clawed at the wet sand, dragging himself up the beach.
He was alive!
It was Hawk who offered her People a home when they had none, after more than a Moon of fleeing for their lives through lands so desolate, she didn’t know how anyone survived. Finding Hawk and his People, she thought she’d found a new homeland.
Her last hunt with Hawk flashed through her mind—the stone tip they created like the Big Head’s weapon, how she had hung by her ankles from a tree trunk to cross a deep ravine. How he grinned when she reached the other side, chest heaving but radiant with satisfaction. He told her many of his warriors shook with fear as they crossed. His pride in her that day glowed like flames at night.
For the first time in her life, she felt Sun’s warmth inside of her.
She looked around, saw quiet groups huddled together, males talking and females grooming children. Pan-do bent over a child, whispering something in her ear but no Hawk.
Where is he? But she didn’t ask Nightshade. The last time she’d seen the two together, they had fought.
She couldn’t imagine a world without Hawk. They had planned to pairmate, combine their groups into one so strong no one could ever again drive her away. She hadn’t known there were enemies worse than Big Heads until Hawk told her about the Ice Mountain invaders. They attacked Hawk’s People long before Xhosa arrived. Hawk had killed most and chased the rest back to their home, icy white cliffs that extended from Sun’s waking place to its sleeping nest, bereft of plants and animals. When he saw where they lived, he understood why they wanted his land.
The children of those dead invaders grew up and wanted revenge.
Someone moaned. She jerked to find who needed help and realized it was her. She hoped Nightshade didn’t hear.
He glanced at her and then away. “All the rafts were destroyed.”
She shook, trying to dislodge the spider webs in her brain. Hawk’s homebase was squashed between a vast stretch of open land and an uncrossable pond. They should have been safe but the Ice Mountain invaders attacked in a massive horde. Her People—and Hawk’s—were driven into the water. The rafts became their only escape. Floating on a log platform to the middle of a pond too deep to walk across was something no one had ever done but they must or die. The plan was the rafts would carry the People to safety, away from the Invaders.
That hadn’t worked.
“There were too many enemy warriors, Xhosa,” and Nightshade opened and closed his hands over and over to show her. “More than I have ever seen in one place.”
Images of warclubs slashed through her thoughts, flying spears, the howls of warriors in battle. Many died, beaten until they stopped moving, children dragged screaming from mothers. The giant female—Zvi—sprinting faster than Xhosa thought someone her size could, the children El-ga and Gadi in her arms, a spear bouncing off her back. Her size stunned the enemy, immobilized them for a breath which gave Zvi the time she needed to reach safety.
Almost to himself, Nightshade motioned, “I’ve never seen him this brave.”
Xhosa didn’t understand. “Him?” Did he mean Zvi?
“Pan-do. His warriors attacked. They saved us.” Nightshade locked onto the figure of Pan-do as he wandered among the bedraggled groups, settling by an elder with a gash across his chest and began to minister to the wound.
“I remember,” Xhosa murmured. When the People were trapped between the trees and the water, prey waiting to be picked off, Pan-do’s warriors pounced. That gave Xhosa precious time to push the rafts out onto the water. It seemed none of the enemy knew how to swim. Pan-do sliced through the Ice Mountain invaders without fear, never giving ground.
Nightshade motioned, “He isn’t the same Leader who arrived at our homebase, desperate for protection, his People defeated.”
Since the death of his pairmate, before Xhosa met him, Pan-do’s world revolved around his daughter, Lyta. He became Leader of his People to protect her. When he arrived at the People’s homebase, Lyta stood out, unusual in an otherwise homogenous group. First, it was her haunting beauty, as though she shined from within, her hair as radiant as Sun. Awe turned to shock when she walked, her gait awkward on malformed feet. She should have been destroyed as a child but Pan-do said he had never considered it. He explained that in Moons of migration, before joining Xhosa’s People, Lyta had never slowed them down. He didn’t expect that to change if the two groups traveled together.
And then she spoke. Her voice was like bird’s song and a gift to People exhausted from the day’s work. It cheered up worried adults and put smiles on the faces of children, its melodic beauty convincing them that everything would work out.
It was more than a Moon after his arrival before Pan-do told Xhosa what he valued most about his daughter. Lyta could see truth simply by watching. No one could hide a lie from her, and she never hid it from her father. Pan-do kept it secret because the people it threatened might try to silence her. He only told Xhosa because Lyta had witnessed a conversation about a plan to kill Xhosa.
One of the people Lyta didn’t recognize but the other, he was someone Xhosa trusted.
When Nightshade nodded, Yes, Lyta lives, Xhosa relaxed but only for a moment.
Nightshade nodded toward a group of warriors. In the middle, eyes alert and hands energetic, stood Sa-mo-ke.
She sighed with relief. Pan-do’s Lead Warrior was also Nightshade’s greatest supporter outside of the People. When he first arrived, Sa-mo-ke spent Moons mimicking her Lead Warrior’s fighting techniques until his skill became almost as formidable as Nightshade’s with one critical difference. While Nightshade liked killing, Sa-mo-ke did so only when necessary.
Nightshade motioned, “Escape came at a tremendous cost, Xhosa. Many died, the rafts were destroyed, and we are now stranded in an unfamiliar land filled with nameless threats.”
It doesn’t matter, she whispered to herself.We are good at migrating.
She jerked her head around, and then motioned, “Where’s Spirit?”
The loyal wolf had lived with people his entire life. He proved himself often while hunting, defending his packmates, and being a good friend. An image flitted across her mind, Spirit streaking toward the rafts, thrusting his formidable body like a spear through the shocked hordes. The enemy had never seen an animal treat People as pack. Then, the wolf swimming, paws churning the water into whitecaps, gaze locked onto Seeker. Endless Pond was too deep for him to touch the bottom so his head bobbed up and down, feet paddling like a duck’s as he fought to stay above the surface.
Nightshade gestured, “The attackers almost killed Spirit.”
She bit her lip, concentrating. “I remember Mammoth’s trumpets.”
The rare hint of a smile creased his mouth. “Another of Pan-do’s tricks. It saved Spirit and probably all of us. He brayed like a herd of Mammoth thundering toward the shoreline. The invaders fled for their lives.”
Pan-do is clever.
Nightshade grimaced. “But the storm worsened and the rafts foundered. Many of the People managed to cling to logs long enough to crash onto this shore. Then, they saved others. But many died.”
He opened and closed his hands to show how many.
A stillness descended as Nightshade’s gaze filled with a raw emotion he never showed. It shook Xhosa. Nothing frightened her Lead Warrior.
She gulped which hurt her insides. Shallow breaths worked better. Rolling to her hands and knees, she stood which made her head swim and she threw up.
Finally, the dizziness subsided and Xhosa asked, “Hawk?”
Nightshade peered around, hands fidgeting. He examined something on the ground, toed it with his foot. “When the tempest destroyed the rafts, he dragged many to shore, to safety. The last time, he did not return. I tried to find him.”
Soundless tears dampened her face. Nightshade touched her but Xhosa focused on a trail of ants and a worm burrowing into the soft earth. Her vision dimmed and she stumbled, fell, and then crawled, happy for the pain that took her mind off Hawk. When she forced herself up, everything blurred but she inhaled, slowly, and again, until she could finally see clearly.
How dare Hawk die! We had plans. Xhosa shoved those thoughts away. Later was soon enough to deal with them.
“His People—do they know?”
The Quest for Home Book information:
Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.
I haven’t ridden a bicycle in 20 years, yet lately, my husband and I have been talking about riding them. So, when a mountain bike went on sale at a price we couldn’t ignore, we decided why not? Thinking they’d be sold out at that price, we found one locally and a half-hour away. We headed home and got them assembled. Helmet on, I carefully sat down and pedaled.
At first, it was hard to keep my balance and I wobbled. The seat was uncomfortable, and the handlebars made me huddle over. Still, I felt adventurous and headed onto our magical trail that my husband had been working on for the last year. I could navigate my way through the first part but then had to get off and walk it up the hill. After that, I was feeling each bump and some parts of the trail weren’t wide enough to accommodate my lack of practice.
So I headed back to the driveway. Here I found my balance in the simple back and forth. My husband would join in my driveway riding, then head to the front part of the trail, and meet me at the end of our driveway. With the sun in my face and the wind blowing in my hair, I remembered the days of my youth. The carefree expression on my husband’s face said it all. It was like years hadn’t passed for that moment, but then reality interrupted. My body insisted I stop. So I did and carefully parked my new bike with a smile on my face.
Since we had matching bikes, I had to add some bling to mine. I borrowed some Disney stickers from my granddaughter and made my mark with hearts, kittens, and flowers. It was mine now as my husband made some small adjustments to my bike for comfort.
The next day feeling inspired, I added riding my bike up and down the driveway after our walk with our dog, Sara on the magical trail, along with running a small part to this new routine. It is what I now call the Denise-a-thon, walking, running and riding. Yes, I stroll more than walk fast, my jog is a slow trudge matched by my husband’s fast pace, and I only ride up, and down the driveway three times, but it’s a good start.
I’ve been having a bit of youthful fun, and I haven’t fallen off the bike. Although I took a fall during the run portion of the Denise-a-thon when my toe caught a root while I was trying to pass Sara. She seems to think it’s important for her to lead, but when she gets in front of me, she slows way down. Luckily I was okay except for some rather long scratches on my calf and some bruising, from a pile of branches, which are just about healed.
So going down that day and getting those bicycles, I’ve added some fun to my exercise. As the magical trail expands, we keep finding new ways to enjoy it, like adding in bike riding. Then it’s not just the same walk every day with the dog, but it’s always a place to enjoy the peace of the forest. Where we can walk, run, ride bikes, and in the winter snowshoe and sled. My daily walks needed a change which the bike provided, and so does my writing. I’m looking for that writing bicycle to bring back that spark to my rather lackluster writing year. I know that inner child is there waiting patiently down the path on her bike with lots of new stories to share with me as we ride through the paths of life together.
Embrace that inner child with a bike ride! D. L. Finn