Hello! Today I’m over on Story Empire with my latest post Writing and Editing. Stop by and say hi 🙂
I’m thrilled to have Jacqui Murray here today to talk about her newest release, “Laws Of Nature!” I’m already of fan of Jacqui’s prehistorical fiction and this is up next on my reading list—right after I get caught up by reading book one 🙂
A boy blinded by fire. A woman raised by wolves. An avowed enemy offers help.
In this second of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, the first trilogy in the Man vs. Nature saga, Lucy and her eclectic group escape the treacherous tribe that has been hunting them and find a safe haven in the famous Wonderwerk caves in South Africa. Though they don’t know it, they will be the oldest known occupation of caves by humans. They don’t have clothing, fire, or weapons, but the caves keep them warm and food is plentiful. But they can’t stay, not with the rest of the tribe enslaved by an enemy. To free them requires not only the prodigious skills of Lucy’s unique group–which includes a proto-wolf and a female raised by the pack–but others who have no reason to assist her and instinct tells Lucy she shouldn’t trust.
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!
Fresh blood streaked Short-tooth’s muzzle, her golden eyes alert to every movement around her as she munched on Gazelle’s meaty carcass. Each movement made the Cat’s tawny fur ripple over the powerful muscles beneath her skin. She raised her head, chewing slowly while studying the grass field in front of her, especially toward the back where it blended into the forest. She couldn’t see Mammoth but smelled it, close to the Uprights, maybe protecting them. Despite being the size of a boulder, this pachyderm could outrun most predators and would think nothing of crushing them beneath its massive feet.
Short-tooth wasn’t interested in the Uprights. Their bodies had little meat and less fat. Gazelle was more satisfying.
Cat ripped a slab of fragrant meat from the hind leg. Snarling-dog—to the far side—slapped the ground. He was hungry but wouldn’t eat Gazelle until Short-tooth finished. Cat purred loudly, close to a snarl, and Snarling-dog withdrew, but not far. Carrion-bird overhead tightened its circle and a tiny shrew the size of Short-tooth’s paw waited patiently, out of Cat’s range, eyes bright, nose twitching. A shred from the carcass was all it needed.
None of these creatures mattered to Short-tooth. She was the apex predator in her savannah habitat.
Sticky yellow globs of Mammoth dung slid down Lucy’s back and plopped to the dry thatch. The dung coat was melting under Sun’s intense heat, exactly as Lucy planned. Its purpose was to confuse Short-tooth Cat. The hotter Sun became, the stronger Mammoth’s smell.
Lucy and her young pairmate, Garv, lay motionless, like Snake sleeping, bodies pressed into the prickly grass, oblivious to the feathery feet that scurried over their backs. She and Garv, too, wanted what Short-tooth didn’t consume. They were more patient than Snarling-dog but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t eat first. The first to arrive got the best of the leftovers.
Lucy rubbed her raw eyes, bleary from watching Cat bite, rip, and chew. If Short-tooth knew of their presence, it was not because she saw them. Lucy and Garv blended into the landscape. Their skin was the color of dirt and dry grass, impossible to find if you weren’t looking. No part of their bodies moved except their narrowed eyes as they scanned the surroundings, evaluating each new arrival to the feast. The dominant scents never changed—Snarling-dog, Short-tooth Cat, something decaying in the nearby forest, her pairmate Garv’s sweaty body, and Gazelle’s ripening offal.
Sun’s relentless heat washed over Lucy in waves. Sweat dripped down her face, over her pronounced brow ridge and into her eyes, but for reasons she didn’t understand, despite his fur pelt, Snarling-dog was dry. He reminded Lucy of Ump, her tribe’s Canis member. Even on the hottest days, Ump didn’t sweat. Instead, he panted more.
Today, Snarling-dog panted hard.
Short-tooth raised her feline head, inspecting her habitat as her jaws crunched through the fresh carrion. She reeked of malevolence which meant scavengers like Lucy and Garv willingly waited their turn.
Sun climbed through the cloudless blue sky. The morning haze had burned off long ago. The dew Lucy hadn’t licked off the leaves, Sun’s heat had. Her throat was dry, lips cracked, but that mattered less than securing scavenge. Her tribe was hungry.
Lately, unexpectedly, when Lucy sat quietly as she did now, a tingle deep inside her chest told her Raza, her former pairmate, was in trouble. The first time she experienced this tingle, what Garv called “instinct”, it churned through her body as a current does in a stream. She thought she was sick until Garv explained this was instinct and it warned of danger, not illness. He told her always to listen, but how was she to do that? Raza had been captured by the tribe’s worst enemy, a formidable Upright called Man-who-preys. She didn’t know where they’d taken him. As often as she brushed the feeling away, it returned, each time stronger than the last.
Cat’s yellow eyes snapped open and her methodical jaws slowed. Something caught her interest, maybe Snarling-dog’s impatience or Carrion-bird’s relentless approach. After a warning hiss, Short-tooth shook her big head and pawed her face. A swarm of black flies lifted, buzzed briefly, and then resettled where they’d started, again gorging on the blood and carrion that stuck to Short-tooth’s face
The flies are thicker than usual.
Short-tooth returned to her meal and Lucy sniffed, wondering what drew Cat’s attention. She didn’t expect to see Man-who-preys here, but took nothing for granted. The tall, big-headed, hairless enemy always carried a long stick which he used to kill prey. Sometimes, he didn’t eat the animal, just watched it die. This unpredictability, that he followed no norms, made him more treacherous than other predators.
She inhaled, but didn’t smell his stench so turned her attention back to the hunt.
Carrion-bird floated overhead, feet tucked beneath its sleek body. The longer Cat ate, the more of the huge birds arrived. They thought their powerful sweeping wings, sharp claws, and piercing beaks made them the mightiest among the scavengers. What they didn’t realize was that Lucy and Garv possessed an even greater weapon: They could plan. Before Carrion-bird or Snarling-dog got too close, Lucy and Garv would take what they needed and flee.
They always did.
In the edging forest, Cousin Chimp hooted, the pitch and length describing the location of a tree newly bearing fruit. Leaves rustled as his band raced away. Lucy hoped they would leave enough of the succulent produce for her and Garv.
She hunkered deeper into the tall waving stalks, tracking the other scavengers and noting again how far away the trees were in case she needed to flee. A snake slithered over her foot, through the thatch and out of sight. She and Garv had been motionless for so long, Snake probably viewed them as dirt mounds in its path.
Garv tweaked an eyebrow and Lucy motioned, hands a tight circle in front of her chest, well hidden, “Dull colors, no knobs on snake’s tail—no danger.”
Her kind—Man-who-makes-tools—used a sophisticated blend of communication including body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, mimicking, and vocalization. One of their greatest defenses in this brutal world was the ability to become part of their surroundings. Voices were unusual sounds heard nowhere in nature except from Uprights, mostly the big-headed Man-who-preys. Lucy’s kind occasionally whispered and Tree-men, like Boah who was part of Lucy’s tribe, rarely made any sounds beyond huffs, grunts, howls, and moans. Only Man-who-preys jabbered endlessly.
Lucy’s eyelids drooped. This hunt had started yesterday when Lucy and Garv found the fresh cloven prints of a Gazelle herd. Lucy’s kind ate copious amounts of roots, nuts, fruit, juicy stems, and insects, but only meat gave them the energy to survive their dangerous lives. Because they hunted only dead animals, they depended upon predators to make the kill. Gazelle’s fleshy body always attracted Cat and its cousins, like Short-tooth. They would pick off the injured, and Lucy’s tribe would eat what they left.
Because not enough daylight remained yesterday, Lucy and Garv set out today, at Sun’s first light. They followed the herd while the rest of the tribe—the Tree-man Boah, the child Voi, and the Canis Ump—stayed at the homebase’s cave. Before Sun had traveled far, a snarl and a screech told Lucy a predator claimed its prey. When Carrion-bird and its cousins started to circle, she and Garv knew exactly where to go.
Garv nudged Lucy, the movement so subtle the grass didn’t even move. “Short-tooth is leaving.”
Lucy bit her lip and shot a look at Garv. His face radiated excitement.
She studied Short-tooth, tried to see what Garv saw and finally gestured, “I don’t see anything. Why do you think she’s finished?”
He motioned, one finger moving against his palm, “Instinct.” Nothing else.
But that was enough. Garv had taught her to stalk prey, knap tools, hunt, and protect herself. Because of him, she became an accomplished hunter, never missed a print, a bent frond, the fragrance left on leaves or bark, or any other sign. As partners, they always brought meat to the tribe. Most hunters didn’t.
Garv’s instinct had found more prey than Lucy’s tracking skills or senses ever did. She had no doubt Short-tooth would soon leave.
Cat’s big tongue, as long as Lucy’s forearm, licked the bloody scraps from her muzzle, a sign even to Lucy that she had finished. Lucy shifted to her hands and toes, knees hovering above the ground, prepared for what must come next. Garv did the same, his body hard from the life he lived, senses alert to every noise. Carrion-birds cawed and tightened their circle. On the opposite side of the field, Snarling-dog’s pack bared their canines, tails stiff. Drool dripped from their jowls and their gaze bounced between Cat and the Uprights, knowing from experience the scrawny but agile creatures were vigorous competitors.
You are fast, Snarling-dog, but we are smart. We will always get there first!
Lucy tensed as Short-tooth pushed up to her massive paws, canines red with blood, saliva dripping in strands from her jowls. She yawned, her mouth a dark cavity vast enough to swallow Lucy’s entire head, and ambled off. Lucy and Garv exploded to their feet and sprinted toward the carcass. Their powerful legs churned while nimble hands pulled cutters and stones from the sacks strung around their necks. Lucy’s job was to delay Snarling-dog and Carrion-bird while Garv stripped the carrion.
“Argh!” Lucy roared, waving a leafy branch through the air to make herself bigger to Snarling-dog while Garv attacked the carcass. Ignoring the fetid stench of dung and urine, he swung the sharp cutter and sliced through the hide and then muscle and tendon.
Lucy flung a stone at the lead Snarling-dog. It hit his temple, hard, and he dropped with a squeal. His pack slowed to reassess the upright creature and Lucy threw another stone, this one at the new leader’s eye. He yipped and stumbled, shook his head, and pawed at the blood that oozed from the wound and dribbled down his muzzle.
“Lucy!” Garv tossed an almost pristine haunch to her and then swung his chopper at Gazelle’s ribs. Carrion-bird, well into its death dive, talons extended, screeched its imminent attack.
“Let’s go!” Lucy called, the unexpected sound of her voice meant to startle the scavengers.
She hurled a rock at the lead Carrion-bird. It squawked and withdrew, which slowed the rest of the flock. Lucy grabbed an almost-meatless leg bone. It would be filled with nutritious bloody marrow. Meat secured over her shoulders, she and Garv fled. No one chased them. Why abandon certain meat for an uncertain meal? Lucy raced past a termite mound, noted its location, rounded a boulder bed, and lost sight of the fracas.
Not the scent, though. The tantalizing aroma sailed through the air, announcing to every scavenger around the availability of meat.
Title and author: Laws of Nature
Series: Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity series
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Editor: The extraordinary Anneli Purchase
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 the 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. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.
Social Media contacts:
by Joan Hall
I read the prequel to this story, “House of Sorrow,” and loved that, so I was eager to read the first book in the Legends of Madeira Series. Jason and Tami Montgomery left Driscoll Lake for Jason’s new job as the town’s police chief in Madeira, New Mexico. They buy the house that was in the prequel and quickly settled into the small, mostly welcoming town. It was nice to see characters from the Driscoll Lake series, but unnecessary to have read those books to appreciate this story. I enjoyed Jason’s growth and how he approached his new job. Tami immediately made friends and got involved in the town’s historical society that was doing a book on the town’s history. Tami, who had been a journalist, jumped right into her part of researching past police chiefs. She soon found herself looking for more answers as she dug deeper into the murder mystery of two of these chiefs. I loved the characters, and Madeira was a place I’d like to visit. Many subplots were woven in that added an extra depth to the story. Tami was a favorite character, as was the neighborhood’s stray cat, Oscar. There was a mystery to be solved, and it appeared Jason was in danger. I had a few guesses and changed my mind more than once, but finally, by the end. I realized who it was, but not why. I love the use of legends, history, and psychic abilities mixed in with well-rounded characters and a mystery that goes back over one hundred years. This is a nicely paced read that I can highly recommend.
I have loved the journey through “Dead of Winter.” Journey 6 offered some answers, but also added more questions. Emlyn is pulled into another’s dream and experienced a horrible time in the other dreamer’s life. That moment made it clear what evil the group was dealing with. After the reactions to the shared dream, they continue on their way. I love where they make camp for a while. I could easily imagine the old mansion through the vivid descriptions. Learning more about the household, and interacting with ghosts made this one another page-turner. They ended up in a strange place that didn’t appear to be safe, but it certainly set the stage for the upcoming Journey 7, which I can’t wait to read.
In “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry” Ms. Chesebro has written a detailed guide of syllabic poetry. There’s history, instructions on writing the poem, several examples, and then the information is recapped for each form. Section one of the book offers Japanese Syllabic Poetry. Here are the chapters covered, Haiku, Senryu, Haiga, Tanka, Gogyohka, Haibun, Tanka Prose, and Renga. Then the second section is the American Syllabic Poetry. The types covered here are Crapsey Cinquain and all variations, Etheree, Nonnet, and Shadorma. Although I’ve spent years writing free verse poetry, I’ve come to love syllabic poems too, thanks to Ms. Chesebro. This is a fantastic guide to learn about syllabic poetry and how to write them. I will buy the paperback version for a quick reference to a style I want to try or simply refresh my memory on writing a certain type of poem. I highly recommend this guide for all poets who love this style or would like to learn about it.
I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews. If I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. It doesn’t feel right leaving a review in that case, but I have been known to email the author:) Life is too short not to enjoy every book you read!
NOTE: The monthly newsletter will be coming out a few days early, July 17th, due to an upcoming vacation! Watch for it.
There is a special guest blog this week you don’t want to miss!
Embrace that inner child by reading a good book! D. L. Finn
This week is the poet’s choice and I decided to try a new form. I picked Shardoma which is 3-5-3-3-7-5 syllables and no rhyming. I had three to pick from, one dealt with a medical procedure, another anxiety, but I ended up with a similar theme as last week.
THE EMPTY PROMISE
heavy drought heat
dries & withers
saps the forest’s searching soul
for the rain goddess.
Here’s Colleen Chesebro 2021 Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge #232. This week she challenged us to take a favorite form of poetry, change it up, and give it a new name.
So, I took the Tanka form of 5-7-5-7-7-7 and changed it to 7a-5x-7a-5b-5x-5b. I not only altered the syllable placement but added in some rhyming and called it a Ranka Poem 🙂
With the drought and fire danger that surrounds so many, including me, this poem came to mind of a careless match thrown and the destruction it can cause.
oppressive summertime heat
a silent forest
dry leaves crunch under bare feet
two well-lit matches
death’s fire attaches.
Hello! Later today I’m thrilled to be a guest on Voice of Indie Podcast with hosts, Stephen Geez and Beem Weeks. The show starts at 5:00 PST, my time, or 8:00 EST.
You can always listen later if you can’t make it. I’ve been catching up on all their great shows and added them to my Spotify List.
There is one thing I wanted to share with you before the interview. I deal with what is called brain fog, or I simply forget a word I want to use while talking. This made me shy away from socializing, phone calls, and public speaking for a long time, but I decided why let this hold me back? So, if you hear that pause and me describing something instead of saying the word, that’s what is going on. This comes from my autoimmune issues and Fibromyalgia. Neither of which are causing too many medical issues, but I do experience little things like this. It’s much easier to get away with when I’m typing 😉
Hope to see you there! Here’s the link:
It’s been a great month, including a successful blog tour that I thoroughly enjoyed. The fairies and I appreciate all who supported it! Thank you:)
It was equally nice to take a week off and explore nearby destinations with day trips. After releasing a book set in the redwood forest, it only seemed natural one of those days we’d venture into one. The closest to our house, and one we’ve hardly been to, is Muir Woods with Stinson Beach fairly close. So, I scheduled our time to park, yes you have to make a reservation.
We set out early to make the three-hour drive. It went smoothly, although when we got there the road leading down was fairly windy with no road barrier protecting the cars from going off steep cliffs. I tried not to look as we wound down to the park.
As soon as we parked, we ate a packed lunch and headed into the park. It was an easy walk on paved or wooden walkways. The tall redwoods towered over us as the sun filtered through the trees. I immediately started taking pictures, as I’m known to do. We crossed a charming wooden bridge over a creek and veered off the comfortable path to explore another trail. This turned out to be an uphill walk but offered spectacular views of the creek and trees below.
Then we returned to the main trail and continued on. We strolled through the cathedral grove where the sign encouraged all the be quiet, of course, no one was quiet. As we exited into an open area we saw hundreds of little red bugs flying around.
My husband commented with a slight grin, “Must be your fairies.”
I smiled and agreed. Why not?
This park was full of magic, and I just knew the fairies were close by. The little red insects turned out to ladybugs, which was pretty exciting too. Our hike continued and we’d stop here and there to touch the gentle giant trees. You could feel their energy and wisdom in that brief connection.
When it was time to go back, I turned the hike into a walking mediation to fully appreciate the beauty and peace that surrounded us. I felt stress and worries stripped away from me.
A quick stop at the gift shop where I added to my magnet collection for the fridge, we left the redwoods behind.
Then we took another nail-biting drive down to the ocean. Here we took in the beauty, meandering at the edge of the water and watched the surfers who had a parachute attached to their boards. I have no idea what it was called but it was fun to watch as they would get lifted into the air or glide across the water. This wind made it fun to surf but wasn’t good for eating. So, we decided it would be better to enjoy our packed dinner in the car and watch the ocean waves.
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day of redwoods and ocean.
The other days were spent visiting relatives and going out on a lake to swim, traveling to Reno, and taking a day to drive around Lake Tahoe with a quick stop at Hard Rock Cafe.
Each day offered something new, but the one thing they had in common was they filled me with joy and wonder. My muse was equally inspired and couldn’t wait to get back to work on my latest book. I’ll update you more on that later but I can share it was my first NaNoWriMo challenge. The story includes a ghost, animals that can communicate, snow, and a serial killer.
Did you spot any fairies in the redwood trees?
NOTE: There will be no blog next week, I’ll be out enjoying the fireworks. Happy Fourth of July!
Also, I’ll be chatting with Beem Weeks and Stephen Geez on June 30 at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Here is the link to the Podcast for this Wednesday: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/voiceofindie1/2021/07/01/voice-of-indie-episode-048
I’ll send out a reminder on the day of the podcast! I’m looking forward to it and hope you can listen:)
Embrace your inner child by taking a break and exploring! D. L. Finn
Hello! The fairies and I invite you to the celebration of the final post over on fellow Story Empire Author, Jan Sikes’ Blog! She’s an author who is the first to offer a helping hand or advice—as well as a fantastic writer. We’re thrilled to be concluding this amazing journey with her.
Happy Monday 🙂 Today I’m over on Story Empire with my post WRITING AND SOCIAL MEDIA. Stop by and say hi!