Yay! It’s almost here—RELEASE DAY! Tonight “Deep in the Forest Where the Poetry Blooms” will make its way into your Kindle if you preordered or be available for those who have Kindle umlimited. Plus, the print copy is ready to go. I am planning on adding a hardback soon. The new video is at the end of this post and some information about winning a gift card.
Deep in the Forest Where the Poetry Blooms is poetry that spans over a few years after my other book Just Her Poetry was published in 2019. This current collection encompasses many different types of poetry which I put into seasons, magic, paradise, my emotions, and the back of the Harley. Plus, there’s poetry stories told through haibun style. I have become fond of telling stories in limited words like In the Tree’s Shadows. I continued those shorter stories in this book, but with a poetic twist.
Putting this poetry collection together was overwhelming at first with three hundred pages of poetry to pour through. What to use and how to arrange it was a struggle until I made it more like the first book. After making some deep cuts, I enlisted Colleen Chesebro from Unicorn Cat Publishing to edit. I knew she’d be honest, and she was. She nudged me out of auto-pilot to fly with my words again. That was all I needed to make the cuts and changes. I know I’ve said this before, but never pass by the editing stage, even with poetry.
There are still two hundred pages of poetry that didn’t fit this book but may show up later in other projects.
Next, I worked on the cover. There were several at first, but his one captured my heart. Then came the video which is below. That all went smoothly.
Formatting was the last step. Having never done formatting on a poetry book before, it took some learning. Eventually, I figured it all out. It was one of those hard learning curves that my stubborn side insisted on conquering.
I wanted to get Deep in the Forest Where the Poetry Blooms out before the Harbor Pointe Inn Series released, so that added to my final push.
This poetry represents my current journey, but I left many of those COVID-19 year references. I’d rather focus on nature, magic, healing and exploring stories. Some of these poems were used in different challenges, including Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday or the missed Suzanne Burke’s ‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ so you may recongnize them.
I was going to share my favorite poem, but in the end, I couldn’t choose. Instead, here’s the video.
After this post, I will be focused on my upcoming poetry book release. Instead of a big blog tour like for In the Tree’s Shadow I will be doing posts here. But before I get started, I wanted to share an excerpt from my novelette in the Harbor Pointe Series.
I will be talking about this series more, as the release dates get closer! Can’t wait 🙂
The Harbor Pointe Inn has loomed on California’s cliffs for generations of Hawthornes. For some, it’s been a blessing. For others, a curse. Travel through two centuries of stories to discover the old inn’s secrets.
It’s 1967, and best friends Lacey and Sandy are enjoying a beach vacation, completely unaware of the danger that is lying in wait outside their door. Their room is quaint, with an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean and an old lighthouse, but a killer is stalking their next victim. Powerless, Annie the ghost watches, knowing there’s nothing she can do to help—not even her parents, the innkeepers. Who will survive their stay at the Harbor Pointe Inn, where the edge of evil lurks within the shadows?
1967, Northern California
Annie watched helplessly as evil exited the beautiful redwood forest in predator mode. It prowled over to the precipice by the old lighthouse. Her deepest desire was to protect her parents. She had stayed by their side since dying in the wooden cradle her father had made, patiently waiting until they could hold her again. They deserved a happy life until then, but now a cruel person with an empty heart was near them, threatening them. Yet what could she do, a spirit?
The only time she’d been able to assist the living was nine years ago when that poor girl Shelly had been lost and out of gas and given birth alone to sweet little Luke. Annie had guided Shelly through a snowstorm to her own parents, but she couldn’t lead this evil away from them. And what about the others at the inn—who would be the prey?
She sighed and wiped away a tear, knowing the killer would never feel this sorrow. What good was it for her to know things and not be able to do anything about them? It was a hard choice to stay and wait. The worst part was that her sweet mother had booked a reservation yesterday. More guests were coming to Harbor Pointe Inn, and there was no way to stop them. No way at all. Someone was going to die unless the evil was defeated. Since no one knew it was there, how would that happen? Saddened, Annie glided back to the inn to be by her parents.
The solemn middle-aged man topped off the gas in Lacey’s new red ’67 Ford Mustang convertible. Fluid and tires were checked as Sandy handed Lacey her requested coffee and donuts.
“Where you young ladies headed?”
“North. Up the coast.” Lacey placed the coffee in the small box she used to hold her coffee and change and revved the car with her usual gusto.
The man wiped his hands on an old greasy rag and frowned. “Pretty drive, but a dangerous road. Take those corners easy.”
Lacey winked at him and tore out of the gas station faster than she should have. Sandy clicked her seat belt snugly across her lap as the coffee sloshed through the top of the paper cups and drained into Lacey’s box, soaking the tossed coins. Sandy dabbed the spill with a napkin she found in the glove box. A mess never bothered Lacey, so Sandy didn’t bother to comment. They were like sisters but could never be roommates.
Lacey tapped her pink manicured fingernail against Sandy’s arm. “This is going to be the best. Don’t you go falling asleep again and miss this view.”
Sandy held back a sigh and blew on the hot coffee. “I hardly slept last night, worrying if I’d forgotten something. I needed a little nap. Besides, there hasn’t been anything I haven’t seen before since we left Sacramento.”
“Yeah, but you don’t want to miss the redwoods and the coast. Grams took me to this inn when I was little. You will love the ocean view—there’s a genuine working lighthouse. Maybe you’ll spot a whale to study.” Lacey grinned.
“I’d love to see a whale breach or even a pod of dolphins. Maybe I could get a picture.” Sandy’s stomach fluttered like a kaleidoscope of monarch butterflies in flight as Lacey passed a car. The feeling was a combination of the thought of seeing whales and Lacey’s adventurous driving.
Lacey slowed after passing and rolled her shoulders. “You aren’t an accountant and dutiful housewife. You are a marine biologist.”
Sandy looked down and tugged off her white boots. “My family needs me to work for them. It’s been planned and—”
Lacey cut off Sandy’s weak protest, holding up a hand that should have been on the wheel. “Your family will survive without you. Pay attention to all this beauty—we’ll be there in about two hours.”
The coffee kept her awake as they sped through the turns the man had warned about. Sandy’s stockinged foot pumped an imaginary brake as her friend deftly navigated the winding road. Lacey was right about the view. It was incredible—dark blue waves crashing against a jagged rock shoreline. There was nothing but road, ocean, redwoods, and open land for the next two hours. But no whales.
Lacey broke the admiring silence. “My cousin used to have a house in Crescent City. He lost it because of his gambling, you know.” She stuffed a donut in her mouth and shrugged. “Grams always said it was lucky he never married. He moved to Reno and lived in some nice lady’s extra room until he died. So sad to waste living in such a beautiful spot because he threw his money away on gambling.”
Sandy kept her eyes pinned on the ocean over the curvy highway. “I’ve heard it’s an illness.”
“One they sure don’t have a cure for. I think it’s more like a compulsion, like killing. Although they may not kill anyone, they sure kill their lives.” Lacey shook her head and then pointed. “Look, on those rocks! They remind me of dogs!”
Sandy laughed. “Probably Steller sea lions. They can get up to 2,500 pounds and would be hard to walk.”
“Only you would know that fact.”
“Seals are fascinating. I’d love to live here and hang out with them.”
Lacey pursed her freshly lipsticked pink lips and rolled her eyes. “You should.”
Sandy’s throat tightened as she pushed down the hidden simmering rebellion with the cold coffee. “I have my family and my boyfriend.”
Lacey sighed dramatically. “Your boring boyfriend. Greg’s not your soul mate, and you know it.”
Sandy ignored Lacey’s truth bull’s-eye and tried to remove the barbed arrow that dug deeper into her obligation-filled reality. “I’ve known Greg since kindergarten. We get along, our families are friends, and we would have the same values for raising kids. It makes sense that I marry Greg.” She focused all her attention on the expansive Pacific Ocean while stuffing the last powdered donut in her mouth.
Lacey flung her auburn hair over her shoulder and added a head shake. “That would make sense if you were hiring an employee, but you aren’t. This concerns your heart, not job qualifications, duties, and balance sheets. I’ve known you for as long as you’ve known Greg. You don’t have to marry me because we’ve known each other a long time, do you?”
Sandy grinned but didn’t respond. Lacey was right. These very thoughts had crossed her mind more than once or twice. However, she never dared to say them out loud. It would make it all too real. Sandy had told Greg she’d consider his marriage proposal while she was away. The families were probably already planning an engagement party for them.
“Not gonna answer that? Well, what about you having to lie to your parents and Greg about where we’re going?”
Sandy looked away. “They would worry too much.”
“Worry? They would have stopped you!”
“Well, they care about me.”
Lacey threw both hands up before gripping the red steering wheel again. “They smother you! I’m pretty sure they don’t know the real you like I do. Good thing they didn’t know you had some money stashed away, or they would have put it to work for you and not let you use it.”
Sandy shrugged. Her friend spoke the uncomfortable truth. In comparison, Sandy had woven a fictional story about visiting Redding to clean up Lacey’s grandmother’s house to sell—a house that was already sold. The only thing that wasn’t a lie was that they were headed north, but she honestly didn’t believe there was another choice. At twenty-one years old, she’d always done the right thing, like earning her associate’s degree in accounting from the local junior college several months ahead of schedule. She needed to taste freedom, even if this was her last and only shot at it before she committed to Greg.
Lacey skillfully changed the subject. “I already paid for the room. So you got some money to do some more traveling.”
“What? No, we agreed to split the room and gas.”
“We’ll talk about it later, Sandy. Let’s have some fun, okay?”
“Sure, later,” Sandy mumbled, knowing she had already lost the battle. She’d find another way to pay her friend back.
Lacey slowed down for a hairpin turn. A thick fog bank was creeping in from the sea.
“Is that it?” Sandy pointed to a lighthouse blinking in the distance.
“It sure is. Although we got a room with a view, I wish it had been on the third floor, like when I went with Grams. Plumbing issues. What can you do?” Lacey patted Sandy’s hand as they pulled onto a road with several potholes, probably from recent storms. They forced her speed to a crawl to avoid bottoming out. “I wish you’d reconsider coming to Europe with me. There’s a whole big world out there. You can pay me back if you have to. Grams left me well taken care of, and she loved you like you were part of the family.”
Sandy took a deep breath and let it out quietly. Lacey’s offer tempted her. It really did. “I appreciate your wanting to take me along, and you’re right—I’d insist on paying my way. But you know I can’t leave my family. They depend on me. You can do it for both of us.”
Lacey groaned and added a tongue click. “I’m going to change your mind. You are going to be the marine biologist you’ve always wanted to be. There’s a program at Humboldt State College.”
Sandy crossed her arms as they drove past the lighthouse. She wanted to be out there on the ocean exploring. Maybe on her honeymoon, if there was one. “Like I can afford that degree.”
“I’d offer to pay for it, but I know you would refuse. You could work your way through. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. My great-grandparents used to live there, and you’d be fine. Maybe you’d find your real Prince Charming.”
Sandy shook her head, slipped the white boots back on, and responded with more regret than she should have felt. “I already have a life planned.”
“Not the right one. I’m going to do what I want, and so are you. The end.”
Sandy studied the scenery and ignored Lacey. Her friend wasn’t going to win over her family. Or was she? Sandy felt a weight lift off her momentarily, but it came crashing back. They depended on her.
They pulled into a quaint, circular cobblestone driveway in front of a weathered inn. Off to the side was a redwood forest to explore, but the lighthouse caught her attention. She hoped they let the public inside. Next to it was a charming stone cottage. She could imagine living in that little house and working in the lighthouse. However, those days were gone—lighthouses were automated now. Lacey was right about her life, but was she brave enough to change her course? Did family responsibility mean more than what she wanted? Maybe she had some important reflecting to do.
Welcome! I’m so happy to welcome Balroop Singh here today to share her latest poetry collection: Fusion: Poems of Life!” I included my review 🙂
Fusion is the elixir of life. We seek it in every aspect of the cosmos. The magic of fusion manifests itself in the colors of dawn and dusk, in the melodies of nature, in the singing of birds, in the miniscule moments of joy, inspiring us to live in harmony with each other despite the edges that threaten to swallow us.
The poems in this collection are an amalgamation of harmonies and edges that bind us firmly. We have to wade into murky waters to measure the depth. We have to risk the heights to know our worth. Slippery snow makes us learn how to create footholds. Some songs of life dilute in the hourglass of time to erase the shadows – dark or light, all the colors play an equal role to create a fusion.
This poem “talks about the journey of life in metaphors.”
Colors of Life…
They’re blue and lilac
With cuddles and caresses
Rocking like our cradle
Life sounds sublime initially.
Yellow and green mingle
To greet the first steps
Butterflies look charming,
Fairies step in to offer magic.
Pink and red flutter our hearts
Passion reigns supreme
Adventure holds our dreams,
Love gets a new connotation.
Darker shades set in
Black and gray dominate
Shadows hover to scare,
Ego refuses to bend.
“Fusion: Poems of Life” takes the reader on a vivid journey through nature and life’s emotional aspects. I enjoyed the entire collection, but the nature-based poems really captivated me because I am so comfortable there. It was very hard to pick from the beautiful imagery, but here are a few of the many I highlighted. “The dream of my life was/To fly with the clouds/Drape their colors,/Adapt their shapes…”—Dreams, “Snow clad mountaintops/Kiss capricious clouds./Emerald lake watches,/As rosy hues of dawn smile…”—Ambrosial Love, “Stormy sea swallow/Stories of eons/Some shores speak…”—Changes, “Hold the first rays of sun/Softly in your hands or/Soak them gently in your eyes…”—Magic Moments, “The shimmer of violets allures me/A flower fairy sits smiling/Sprinkling her magic dust…”—Flower Fairy, and “The moment she wears her scarlet gown/She gets a call to cast her spell/Edgy enchantress grabs her crystal…”—The Scarlet Gown. A collection I read in one sitting, but one I will also revisit. I can highly recommend this to all poetry lovers.
Balroop Singh, an educator, a poet and an author always had a passion for writing. She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will! The world of her imagination has a queer connection with realism. She could envision the images of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first poetry book: ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’ She has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling of leaves and the sound of waterfalls. She lives in California. You can visit her blog at http://balroop2013.wordpress.com
Embrace your inner child by reading some beautiful poetry! D. L. Finn
I’m thrilled to announce the upcoming release of The Habor Pointe Series! It’s a collaboration of eight authors from the Story Empire team. It all starts with “The Price of Atonement” that releases on September 26, 2023, and ends with “Room at the End” on January 9, 2024.
The stories are set in a fictional Northern California town. They begin when the inn was new in the late 1800s and flow through the decades into the future. Each one has the author’s unique flair, which makes this series so very compelling. I focused on the late 1960s and had fun with that era.
Curious? Check out this video:
The Harbor Pointe Inn has loomed on California’s cliffs for generations of Hawthornes. For some, it’s been a blessing. For others, a curse. Travel through two centuries of stories to discover the old inn’s secrets.
I’m pleased to welcome a fellow poet, Selma Martin, here today to share her beautiful debut collection with us. I’ve included my review.
Here’s Selma’s insight into one of her poems:
In writing, I attempt to add value to the finished work that comes straight from the place from where poems arise. Most come when I sit alone with my thoughts; I prefer quiet, like the kind one finds out in nature. Others come after reading something that lingers or makes me give a double take. In the case of this poem, it came about after reading a lovely book titled The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The book is set in Germany and is based on the time of that terrible war.
The Heilto her Pa expression is supposed to mark that awful time in history for the reader—that is all. In this poem, I hoped to showcase this young ‘adopted’ girl’s exuberance for learning to read and reaching the end of her very first book.
Her Pa had everything to do with her first win! In Zusak’s novel, the girl’s adopted Ma had a penchant for using mean and dirty words and called her husband pigheaded. But the girl knew better. Her Pa was nothing of the sort.
I’m so happy this poem came about, and now I have one poem of my own that reminds me of the novel. If you ever get a chance, please read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I was swooned by it. xoxo
Page 82 —In The Shadow of Rainbows
Hopeful one morn
would bring them much closer
She, barely eight
and he forty-three
Dawn after dawn
they braved nightly slumber
Tasting ‘n writing,
chewing words, hungry.
The dim of the lamp
paled with new morning light
Sent them upstairs
to bowls of warm porridge
Then holding hands
to streets wet with sunlight
She to midge class went,
he to seek courage.
Until one dawn
at the turn of the lights
They reached the end
—one book defeated!
She grinned ear to ear,
and soared like a kite
Heil to her Pa,
who Ma called pigheaded.
In this dazzling debut poetry collection of over 60 carefully selected poems, author Selma Martin points the way to the beauty in the everyday, the shadow of the rainbow, and the silver lining at the edge of every cloud.
Favouring lyrical forms, and revelling in rhymes and musical language, the individual poems in this collection harmonise together in symphonic splendour to form an enlightening and delightful whole.
“In The Shadow of Rainbows,” is Ms. Martin’s debut poetry book that I thoroughly enjoyed. There is a nice blend of nature with the emotional side of poems. The words flowed through the pages with vivid images and insights. I enjoyed them all but here are a few lines and poems that
caught my eye: “nurtured under the illimitable/distant sun, fulfilling stories/among the starlight…”—Give Back, “Light illuminates/all who wander/in darkness and delusion…”—Let Go. “When death comes/I want to be led into eternity/curious, full of joy…”—When Death Comes, “The green outside is winking at me/it arose merely moments ago,/like a well-rested
child rising from sleep,…”—Nature’s Tender Doings, and “I almost died of
exuberance/snorkeling around the unspoiled/coral reef/ when, in the dull hum of silence…”—I Almost Died. A wonderful collection to savor more than once that I can easily recommend for poetry lovers.
“Selma Martin’s debut poetry collection transmutes misery into mesmerizing beauty. Not only is each poem masterful in form, it is lined with spiritual truth much like a golden-lined cloud shimmering in the brilliance of a rainbow after a storm.”— Barbara Harris Leonhard, editor, MasticadoresUSA
“I encourage you to enjoy In the Shadow of Rainbows as it weaves its lyrical prose and skillful imagery and invites you to search for your one poem within its pages time and time again.”— Layla Todd, Nin Chronicles
“A wonderful debut collection of Soul-felt poetry.”— Harmony Kent, Goodreads
“If you enjoy surrounding yourself with powerful imagery, glimpses of life and nature, and slices of everyday life, then do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this collection of poetry. It’s wonderful!” — Yvette M Calleiro
Selma Martin is a retired English teacher with 20 years of teaching children ESL. She believes in people’s goodness and in finding balance in simple living. She lives in Japan with her husband. In 2017, after retiring from her ESL position, Selma enrolled in her first short story writing competition with The Write Practice (TWP), an welcoming online community of writers. She practiced earnestly there and had the honor of mingling with seasoned Writers and newcomers like herself.
In 2018, Selma participated in a TWP networking course whose final lesson was to publish a story on Amazon. After many failed attempts, she completed the course and self-published her short story, “Wanted: Husband/Handyman,” in 2019.
Later, collaborating with peers from that course, she published “Wanted:
Husband/Handyman” in Once Upon A Story: A Short Fiction Anthology. Selma has published articles and poems on Medium since 2017; she has the story from that first competition published in Short Fiction Break, 2017, and poetry in The Poetorium At Starlight, 2022, MasticadoresUSA, and Spillwords. After her first NaPoWriMo 2021, Selma writes poetry on her website, selmamartin.com, and struggled with her introversion to garner the courage to publish this—her first collection of poems.
Today I’m visiting with Gwen Plano to talk about the short story “Stranded” here.
Below includes my review of Gwen’s latest book, “Redemption,” and the tour schedule. There is a chance to win an Amazon gift card too! I will add stops as they become available.
Gwen M. Plano, aka Gwendolyn M. Plano, grew up in Southern California and spent most of her professional life in higher education. She taught and served as an administrator in colleges in Japan, New York, Connecticut, and California. Gwen’s academic background is in theology and counseling. Recently retired, she now lives in the high desert of Arizona, where she writes, gardens, and travels with her husband.
Gwen’s first book is an acclaimed memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love. Her second book, The Contract between heaven and earth, is a thriller fiction novel, co-authored by John W. Howell. It has received multiple awards and is an Amazon Best Seller. The Choice, the unexpected heroes is the sequel to The Contract. It is also a thriller, involving the attempt of an unfriendly nation to take over the world. The third book in the series, The Culmination, a new beginning is an action-packed military thriller that spans the globe and involves multiple Heads of State and the threat of World War III. Only love can change the fate of humanity.
When Gwen is not writing, she’s often in the beautiful Red Rocks of Sedona, where she finds inspiration.
“Redemption” is a fast-paced thriller that hooked me from the first page. Lisa came home to visit her parents. She had a bad feeling when the doorbell rang, but she couldn’t stop what happened next. With her father dead, her mother fighting for her life, and her brother, Trace, in another country, she struggles to figure out what happened. Lisa quickly realizes she needs to be careful whom she trusts because her world is turned upside down as the truth slowly unravels. Luckily, her brother and his friend, Ryan, come to her aid. I love how they are there for each other, while Lisa’s strength, love of family, and intelligence are inspiring. She bravely stands by her mother while trying to understand her father. I found this book hard to put down with all the twists weaved into a family’s story. The research put into this mystery made it even more chilling because of the possibility that it could happen. The themes of redemption and forgiveness tugged at my heart, and I highly recommend this suspenseful family drama.
Here is the tour schedule.
A link will be added to the list as each stop becomes available. There will be a post with the link and author information included here for each stop.
Three winners will be randomly picked from the tour comments for a $20, $10, or $5 Amazon Gift Card on May 16th!
Since it’s a short story collection, each stop will be different.
I’m thrilled to have friend and fellow author, Sandra Cox, here today to talk about her latest, “Return to Silverhills.”
I had the pleasure of reading this as a beta reader. I can highly recommend “Return to Silverhills,” but I decided to enjoy the story one more time before writing the review 🙂
I found all the words in the puzzle below. Fun!
A trail boss with a fast gun. A damaged woman. A cattle drive fraught with danger. And a combustible attraction.
The unexpected sound made her heart crash against her ribs, her hands grow clammy and her breath push in and out in sharp gasps. Her horse sidled in response to her nerves.
More gunfire and whoops sounded in the distance.
She flinched. The bang and flash of gunfire. The sight and scent of sulphur. Always a reminder of the night the Comancheros had captured her and slaughtered her family.
Fighting back the painful memories, Lisa Reiner stared into the valley at the ranch below, the mountains behind it throwing off a blinding glitter wherever the sun touched. Alex talked incessantly about those flashes of silver in the hills. Alex. Who’d cared enough to take her out of the mission and bring her to her own home to start fresh, to live with her like a sister.
Slowly. Tentatively. Fear and nerves crawled into excitement. Silverhills.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray
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.
Today I’m thrilled to have friend and fellow Story Empire author, Harmony Kent here today to share the good news about her latest poetry release, “Sorrowful Soul.” I read this powerful book and loved it. Here is my review: LINK
Thanks so much for hosting me today.
It’s always wonderful to visit with you.
Here’s a little bit I’d love to share about my latest book of poetry, Sorrowful Soul. Full of freestyle poems, which provide company and compassion through the devastating journey of grief and loss and onward, this heartfelt collection shows us we do not travel this lonely road alone.
Since Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s excellent book on the stages of grief, we now have an established set of seven stages to the grieving process. Although these stages are non-linear and can be revisited at any time, it’s helpful to have a rough idea of what we might expect during this difficult period of transition. The sixth stage is commonly known as Working Through or Testing.
Here’s an extract from a poem about whether we’d do it all again in the face of loss …
From Part 6: Working Through
(From within To Have Lived and Loved)
A second death
The slow way
‘Oh, good grief,’
But is there such a thing?
If I had my time again
Would I choose
The love we had
To avoid the pain
How far would you go to either forget or remember a lost loved one? Chat with me in the comments. I hope you enjoyed this poetic excerpt and would love to know what you think. Thanks for reading 😊
If we’re lucky, we meet twilight at the front door and old age creeps in on the night breeze.
Even if we make it to our twilight years, the more we age, the more loss we must endure as part of the cycle of life. Many of these poems lament death, but they also relate to broken relationships, severed friendships, and the loss of youth. This book of grief poetry is as much about saying goodbye and working through loss as it is about death and love split asunder.
This heartfelt collection provides company and compassion through the devastating journey of loss and shows us we do not travel this lonely road alone. Within these pages we share shock, numbness and denial, catapult into anger, bargaining, depression, loneliness, and guilt, and—eventually—make the seismic shift into testing the possibility of a new normal and finding acceptance.
Harmony Kent spent 13 years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, where she faced her demons and overcame devastating low self-esteem and found freedom. After a life-changing injury, Harmony returned to the world at the tender age of 40, and her life as a writer began.
Harmony is an award winning multi-genre author, and her publications include:
The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved
The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree/New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015
Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015
As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow authors. Harmony is always on the lookout for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes.
I’m thrilled to have a fellow writer and poet, MJ Mallon here today to share her latest release, Do What you Love! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is the review: LINK
Do What You Love Fragility of Your Flame Poems, Photography & Flash Fiction is a personal poetry collection celebrating how the fates may have a part in all that we do.
With special poems and short reflective moments inspired by family, flowers and nature, love, scrumptious morsels, places I’ve visited, lived and intend to live in, the friendships and hopes I have for the future.
The overarching theme is to live a life well lived… And to do what you love.
I am thrilled to say that two of my poetry collections, (Mr. Sagittarius and Lockdown Innit,) have been requested by prestigious libraries in the UK: The British Library, The Bodleian Library Oxford University, the Cambridge University Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales and Trinity College Dublin for Legal Deposit.
The cover of the paperback and kindle have been designed by Colleen Chesebro who has a new service for authors which I can highly recommend. Colleen also designed the interior and cover of The Hedge Witch And The Musical Poet.
Poetry also features in my highly acclaimed YA Fantasy series. Each chapter begins with a short poem. The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone and Book 2 Golden Healer are published by Next Chapter Publishing.
M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives sometimes in the UK, and often times in Portugal.. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery smile to greet her.
Her motto is to always do what you love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too.