Best and Worst Things About Being a Writer, and Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew by @Laire_McKinney @XpressoTours @BHCPressBooks #Tuesdaybookblog #bookblitz #newrelease #fantasy #destinyfulfilled #womensfiction #romance #faeries #druids #writingadvice

Destiny Fulfilled
Laire McKinney
Publication date: August 7th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Only love can save them…

Wren O’Hara is waiting for the day she succumbs to mental illness like her mother. When she is attacked by a psychotic client at work, and saved by what must be an angel, she fears the time for insanity has come.

Little does she know, her savior is an immortal warrior druid named Riagan Tenman, and that he will challenge everything she ever thought she knew about reality.

Now Wren must decide if the fantasy unfolding before her is true, or if she has finally lost her mind.

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Guest Post by Laire McKinney:

Best and Worst Things About Being a Writer, and Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew

The best things about being a writer are seeing my name in print, fulfilling a childhood fantasy, and letting my mind run wild, knowing it will only make a story better.

The worst things about being a writer are the slow pace of publishing, the uncertainty of any outcome, and the at-times debilitating self-doubt.

Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew:

1. Your first attempt at a novel will not likely be the one. (There are always exceptions, but I know several authors who did not snag the publishing contract until book #2…or #3…or #4…). As for me, I was offered a contract on the second full-length novel I wrote, but that was already two years into the writing experience. One year was spent writing the novel that will never been seen. The second year was writing the one that got published. It is not a quick-turnaround business so reevaluate if that’s what you seek.

2. Community matters. I am as introverted and socially-awkward as they come, but I do venture out to writers’ groups and conferences, and am active on online forums. Having a peer group is essential to survival. I use them to bounce off plot ideas, to beta read, to cheer me on when I’ve been given good news, to cheer me up when I’ve been given bad news.

3. And there is a lot of bad news, so thicken that skin. Rejections. Rejections. Rejections. Then if you do land the contract and sail your way (via tumultuous seas) to the published novel, then there are the reviews—hopefully good, sometimes bad, occasionally downright mean. Then, if you’re one of the few, you’ll sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, and this can vary month to month. Sometimes you might very well find yourself at the bottom and that sucks but it’s reality.

4. Do not be competitive with your peers. My writer friends have been some of the most supportive and encouraging and non-competitive people I could hope to know. A perfect example: I was at a workshop and the speaker wanted those in attendance to create a story together. Her disclaimer: do not worry that someone will steal the idea you’ve thrown out. Even if they started with that idea, their story will be vastly different from yours. Not to say there isn’t plagiarism and piracy, but among the writers you choose to call friends, be supportive and encouraging. You’ll appreciate that when it’s reflected back to you.

5. Be fearless. There is something to be said for writing for the masses. Agents and publishers know what’s trending, what has sold in the past, what is expected to sale in the future. But there is always the break-out novel that’s just different. In a cookie-cutter world, be a free-styling carver and you’ll land on your mark. (I hope that last statement makes sense!)

6. Enjoy the writing. I know from personal experience if I get bogged down in the business of writing (which you must learn), then I lose the creativity. It’s a balance. You can’t have one without the other, and if you no longer find you enjoy it, take a step back and write something for your pleasure only. There is a chance it might very well be your best yet.

7. You will have to spend money marketing, even if you have a publishing contract with a big agency. You need a website, social media, head shot, etc. It helps to join one or more organizations. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America (an excellent place to begin), as well as Women’s Fiction Writers. If you write YA, there is Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

8. If you want to write a genre but are embarrassed or afraid of how it’ll impact your day job or your image, use a pen name. It’s all good, but it’s best to decide that before you get published. If you want to write erotica, it’ll be hard to turn around and write YA under the same name. Not impossible, but tricky.

9. Understand there will be times when the words do not flow, the mind will not concentrate, and the writing timeline falls by the wayside. This happens to me all the time. I have three children, a dog, a hubs, a job, and sometimes it’s just not happening. What do I do? I don’t stress about it. It could be a day, a week, sometimes a month. That recharging period will help you come back renewed.

10. Writers are often introverts. I know I am, and I love to live in my head, to watch tv alone. I love to be in my house when it’s as quiet as an early morning in snowy December. But living your life is essential to good writing. We need experiences to draw from, ideas that simmer and stew and eventually become plot…we need to live life so we can retreat and create.

If you’ve already stepped onto the writerly path, what suggestions would you give to a new writer?

Many thanks for hosting me today. Cheers, Laire.

 

Author Bio:

Laire McKinney is the author of contemporary and fantasy women’s fiction. She believes in a hard-earned happily-ever-after, with nothing more satisfying than passionate kisses and sexy love scenes, endearing characters and complex conflict. When not writing, she can be found traipsing among the wildflowers, reading under a willow tree, or gazing at the moon while pondering the meaning of it all. She lives in Virginia with her family and beloved rescue pup, Lila da Bean.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Author Interview with @authorcsmith! #FridayFeature #DoctorWho #Whovian #scifi #fantasy #steampunk #timetravel #authorinterview

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This interview I’m very excited about as it is my kickoff to the latest section of my blog on novels, short stories, anthologies, scripts, audio scripts, fanfic, etc, surrounding the #DoctorWho fandom.

Today, I’m fortunate to present Claire Smith, author of The Quest Of The Prodigy.

Welcome!

Thank you so much, Mackenzie!!! Always love getting love from a #Whovian! Whovians make the best sort of humans 🙂 

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from? 

Claire_BHC_Web.jpgBorn and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. Moved to Greenville, SC in 2013 to be with family. Loving the southern life! 

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story? 

For me, it’s always the characters. I always say the story starts and ends with a good character. If you don’t have interesting characters, my attention gets lost very easily! That’s why I take character building very seriously! I also believe that one should learn something from reading a book. Not like an after-school special, but either a new take on something or an actual fact they might not have known. I believe that’s the power of fiction, to teach us something about reality too. 

Question 3) Congratulations on the release of The Quest Of The Prodigy! Tell us what inspired you to write this book?

Quest_of_the_Prodigy_Claire_Smith_WEB.jpgThank you so much! Well, it was back in 2012 and my friends and I were making fun of the rather new BBC show Sherlock. We were teasing about British surnames and I somehow thought of the name Barkley. And somehow I knew he was a time-traveler! And everything else just came from that 🙂 

Question 4) What would you consider your greatest writing challenge?

Finishing!!! I get so many ideas, that is hard to stay focused and finish a project. I have about five projects I’m working on at the moment!

Question 5) I understand your book was also selected by Barnes and Noble as a special two-week exclusive release on Nook! How did you react when you heard the news? 

Thank you! Well much to the disappointment of my amazing publishers, BHC Press, I had laryngitis at the time so I could barely say anything!!! So, I was screaming on the inside, lol.

Question 6) Turns out, your target audience is the same as mine – #DoctorWho fans! What made you select #Whovians?

I wrote this book FOR Whovians 🙂 I’ve always loved Time Travel, and been a Whovian for almost 8 years now! I wanted a book that was a fun, light-hearted read that would satisfy the Whovian in between seasons. And this book was also geared towards the sci-fi fan that likes the technology side of sci-fi explained so it’s less ‘magical’ and more ‘scientific’, kind of like Doctor Who! 

Question 7) Who’s your Doctor?

Matt-Smith-and-David-Tennant.png

Well, it’s cliche but the Tenth Doctor! It just wasn’t on his handsome looks, lol. I started watching Doctor Who a little differently because I started with Torchwood which was introduced to me first via BBC America. Then my British friend @jetlbomb introduced me to Doctor Who! She said if I loved Jack Harkness so much I should watch all of Doctor Who! So I started with the Empty Child, hit all the Jack episodes and then started again with Rose. It wasn’t until I saw the Utopia two-parter that I was HOOKED and so David Tennant will always be my Doctor. And Matt Smith is COOL, and well, being a Smith, I’m a little bias, so they are both my Doctor’s 🙂 Gotta love 12 though! They all rock! 

Question 8) How excited are you to see the Doctor being played by a woman for the first time?

I’m very excited! At first, I was worried about the casting just to please an agenda, but JODIE is going to be BRILLIANTLY AMAZING and I cannot wait! Also super excited for the new showrunner. Moffat had fine moments for sure, but new blood I think is most welcomed! 

Question 9) Okay, back to writing. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Oh yes, I could talk about Doctor Who all day! I think my ‘quirk’ might be my habit of going into tangents / rants when I write, in character! My next coming novel In Need of Direction, a modern adult contemporary, the main character Charlie Vail goes in MANY side-rants. I have to trim them down a lot lol. I also like to make pop culture reference because I’m easily amused!

Question 10) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book? 

DfGv9UIW0AAblUwI think the whole book itself surprised me. The first draft, horrible as it is, is WAY different and was more middle grade level. I changed it a lot too also to add more STEAMPUNK elements which I’m also a big fan of!

Question 11) Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

Certainly! Grab a preview here! https://issuu.com/bhcpress/docs/qotp_cs 

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?   

In 2019, my contemporary fiction novel In Need of Direction, about a Hollywood movie director who finds love a little too late when he finds out he’s dying, will be released. 2020 is expected to be the release of the sequel to the Quest of the Prodigy where our heroes will travel to the golden age of piracy! I’m also working on some screenwriting scripts for some contests, so WHO knows 😉 

Question 13) How can we contact you or find out more about your books? 

Thank you so much! I like how you have THIRTEEN questions for the new Doctor, woohoo!

They can visit me at writewithclaire.net! I’m also very active on Twitter @authorcsmith!

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Interview With The Stars: Mierta McKinnon

IWS Season 3 - Episode 3

Recently, Mierta McKinnon, one of the main characters of The Rite of Wands young adult fantasy series, took part in a special character interview.

Who is Mierta? Find out in this exclusive interview on Interviews With The Stars Season 3! You aren’t going to want to miss it!

https://www.tabislick.com/2018/04/miertainterview.html

*Interviews With The Stars (IWS) is a virtual show held at the SWC Headquarters where stars from around the book world are interviewed by the show’s host Tabi Slick. The goal is to bring characters to life, introduce readers to new reads, and promote Indie Authors.*

 

Author Interview: William Schlichter #Tuesdaybookblog #scifi #horror #authorinterview @BHCPressbooks

Today I’m fortunate to present William Schlichter author of Sci-fi and horror.

Hi, William, thanks for agreeing to this interview!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

William_Schlichter_BHC_WebI’m from Missouri. I’m originally from an hour south of St Louis, and now I call Springfield home.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Strong character driven stories, quick moving, and short chapters or breaks.

They need to bring forth an emotion in me. I want to care about what happens to the characters. I must care about the characters.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

Star Wars.  I was three and a half years old and my parents took me to see Star Wars at the drive-in. It’s my earliest full memory and I knew after watching this spectacle I didn’t want to be Han Solo or a Jedi I wanted to create those kinds of stories.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I teach high school and college so during the school year I write when I can.  I write in my creative writing class when the students write in class. But I have a daily goal of a 1000 new words.

In the summer, I get up and write as close to a 1000 words as I can then swim a mile, go to the gym and finish my thousand words.  Now, if the Muse flows I’ll keep going and I will drain the well. I finish a story idea; if I don’t it plagues me. Demanding to be written down.  I will edit older works after my 1000 words. I read. Riding the bike at the gym is a great time to read and since I travel I listen to a lot of audiobooks. 

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

The story flows throw me much like a movie and I paint a picture on the page like a movie.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

400_Miles_W_Schlicter_C2No Room in Hell: 400 Miles To Graceland –  a post-apocalyptic horror/thriller. Not your typical zombie adventure.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I didn’t write the first No Room in Hell to enter the mass market with a zombie book because it was a popular bestselling subject. I wrote the story one to cover events no one else covers in all the zombie books I have read or watched and two I wrote the main character as the nameless figure. It was a challenge to write this character. A challenge I gave myself and based on feedback readers liked it or thought it was an interesting approach.  It reaffirms a writer must know the rules before breaking them but when a rule is broken and it works it is rewarding.

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

The opening of SKA due out in 2018:

SKA_William_Schlichter_Web“That’s a lot of money—do you want me to do something for it?”

            Even on my limited salary, a Jackson wasn’t a grand gesture. I’ve bought books costing more. The girl was messed up, and not just for thinking the twenty dollars I handed her was worth her doing something, but she had a hospital ID bracelet and a red medication allergy band on her wrist.

            She asked me to watch her bag while she went and bought cigarettes—one of those plastic clothing bags hospitals give out. She’d be back, then I could take her someplace.

            Despite her haggard appearance, her round face was pretty. Hospitals tend to fatigue people. They want you to rest, but constantly wake you up to check your vitals.

            Returning with a green pack of smokes, she bubbles with excitement. The cheap pint she tried to hide might have helped. The seal already busted. She didn’t notice me observing her slip it in the hospital bag. If I wasn’t convinced she was an addict, I knew now. Curiosity overtook me. Stirring overwhelmed me. The sexual ones were obvious, at least to me, but something deeper wanted me to keep this girl.

 Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

Enter_the_Sandmen_W_Schlichter_FC_WebMy next novel is a standalone thriller SKA: Serial Killers Anonymous where a collection of serial Killers form a self-help group in order to curb their urges. They examine their acts and one in the group is not who they pretend to be.

The third book in my sci-fi series The Silver Dragon Chronicles: The fifth Planet will continue to follow the crew’s exploits as they attempt to stop the Sandmen.

And my dark and gritty zombie apocalypse series No room in hell will see book three as well. I have a working title but it might give away the shocking twist at the end of book two.  Just know no one is safe.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

The gym, travel and Stephen King’s On Writing.

You can’t write without your health or experience the world, even if you only travel to the adjoining state. Changing your comfort zone makes all the difference, and of the dozens of books about how to write I’ve read or bought, his is the one I quote to my writing students the most.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

http://www.bhcpress.com/Author_William_Schlichter.html

https://twitter.com/wmschlichter

https://www.facebook.com/wmschlichter/

https://www.instagram.com/wschlichter

Author Interview: Drea Damara

Today I’m fortunate to present Drea Damara author of Beyond Farwin Wood – A Blinney Lane Novel.

Hi Drea, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

DSCN1140-cropped-2North Central Illinois, born and raised.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

A world people can connect with and characters with interesting problems.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

I liked how books could transport me as a child and wished that if I fell asleep with a book open, I would wake up in the world of the book. I incorporated that wish into my first novel.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Crazy. It’s an obsession really. When you HAVE to write, HAVE to get it out, you just spend every waking moment pouring it out to get it down and bring it to life. I spent about twelve hours a day for a week writing the complete draft of my first novel. Once I had the story complete in my mind, I felt I need to type it all up so the characters could breathe.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I imagine my stories like films in my mind, complete with their own soundtrack. I create a playlist for each novel and repeatedly play it while I am writing the story. It helps inspire me and generate creativity.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

Beyond Farwin Wood – A Blinney Lane Novel #2. It’s a bit of everything, but mostly a supernatural fantasy.

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Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I never imagined I’d be getting research tips from witchcraft groups, but I wanted to make that element of my story authentic so I did a lot of reading on a helpful witchcraft group’s page about natural remedies and spells.

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

From Beyond Farwin Wood:

14407622_917100808393739_45413150_nValerie couldn’t believe they were still reminiscing over names like two old-timers on a Sunday afternoon.

“Ahem,” she said, clearing her throat.

Ranthrop peered at the sky in thought. “No, it was Luther Ritchie, I think. Definitely a Ritchie though.”

“Hey!” she said, slapping each man’s chest. “I don’t care if it was Lionel Ritchie or Luther Vandross! Where are the boats?”

Varmeer fingered the crest on his tunic, his expression crumpled. “M’lady? The boats are just on yonder side of the pier. The men are readying them now. We know you mean to make haste.”

Valerie looked around, making sure she hadn’t missed a real vessel. All she found were the rustic concoctions of floating logs, two of them now with sails unfurled. Men continued loading the bundles of tents onto them.

“Those are not boats!” She jerked her thumb in the direction of the pier as she turned to face her guides.

Ranthrop stared at her like he was trying to solve algebra problems. Finally he queried, “Lady Valerie, I can assure you those are boats. Do your seafaring vessels in Blinney look so different?”

“Different?” she asked in a shrill voice. “Those are what homeless trappers take up river in a western movie, not something you take out into open waters full of sea monsters!”

Varmeer and Ranthrop exchanged befuddled looks. Wringing her hands, she paced back and forth. She had to think of Franci and not sea monsters. Franci and not timbers cracking beneath her feet or water sloshing around her ankles. Franci and not drowning.

Ranthrop gave his friend a telling look. “Varmeer, would you leave us please?”

Varmeer nodded, casting a curious glance at Valerie. When he was out of earshot, Ranthrop took her by the shoulders, halting her.

“The crossing troubles you, m’lady?”

“Troubles me? I’m terrified!”

Ranthrop noticed the uneasiness in her pretty gray eyes. It was different than what he’d witnessed on their way down the mountain.

“I can’t swim.”

His anxiety at her state burst like a bubble. He chucked as he tapped the underside of her chin with his index finger. “Is that what has you twisted? Have no fear. You won’t need to swim.”

“Why does everyone think that’s supposed to make me feel better? It’s still water. I can’t walk on it. Anything could happen.”

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

A baby to start! My current and first pregnancy has delayed my next book release, No Death For the Wicked – A Trinity Missions Novel #2.

51s4+ltetcLIt’s the second instalment to my spy thriller series about a female covert operative and a reclusive mercenary. I am a “genre-jumper” so I don’t like to be boxed in, writing only one type of story. I am big into emergency management and hazard mitigation, so I’m excited about a utopian sci-fi I have planned. I try to contribute to BHC Press anthologies when I can, as well, because they have some awesome collections and concepts that I am proud to be a part of. My Blinney Lane fans continue to humble me with their support and demands for more, so I am not ruling out a third instalment of Blinney Lane just yet 😉

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

My writer’s desk. Ironically, I don’t always write at it, but it was a right of passage for me – something I promised to get myself when I reached one of my writing goals. So it signifies the success of my journey. I bought matching shelves for it where I dedicate space to books by other authors that I have been given, purchased, and reviewed. The only people as great as readers are writers and I’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful fellow literary voices. It’s a nice reminder to know we have been a part of each other’s journeys.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

My author website is www.dreadamara.com and forgive me for my nesting period and baby registry addiction, as it has fallen a bit to the wayside. However, I try to keep up with my blog JustAGirl with all kinds of literary and life tidbits: https://dreadamara.wordpress.com

 

Author Interview: Mary R. Woldering #Tuesdaybookblog

Today I’m fortunate to present Mary R. Woldering author of Children of Stone.

Hi Mary, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

10014489_228282274027119_1981351165_oQuestion 1) What part of the world do you come from?

The United States

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Strong characters and their interaction with each other

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

I don’t recall. I just wrote a story when I was about 14.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Chaotic and full of distractions, but I manage.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

No idea what you would consider interesting or a quirk. I do a lot of research & Googling.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

Opener of the Sky – Book 3 of the Children of Stone Series.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

That I have very few readers. I think the story is a great one and so do my few readers, but news of the tale is just not spreading.

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Sure! I preceded it with the blurb.

Children of Stone Book 3 – Opener of the Sky

I had grown fierce and hard
Thrilled by death, torture, blood…
the madness of it when I tasted its warm saltiness
A warrior god.

… from the poem Howl by Mary R. Woldering (as told by Raemkai-2012)

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Marai, a former shepherd, who discovered a fallen ‘star’ and was gifted with amazing abilities by the unearthly Children of Stone, has been separated from those he loves.

Turned sojourner, he begins a desperate mission to find them, but the spectre of wickedness and corruption is never far behind and his journey to wisdom becomes even more uncertain.

While Opener Of The Sky, the third book in the Children of Stone series, is the continuing story of Marai’s magical search for his companions, it is also the story of Maatkare Raemkai, a sadistic shape-changing warrior-prince, whose twisted relationships once propelled him into power, then nearly destroyed him.

Through sorcerous manipulation of the women Marai loves, he has planned his own revenge. The sojourner Marai is just in the way.  Will he be too late to save those he loves or will he welcome them in victory?

In this excerpt from Sokor and Khmenu, Ariennu and Naibe attempt an escape from the clutches of their captor Prince Maatkare one day away from the king’s palace. He, being part wolf/dog tracks them, manipulating them into the very temple where he offers sacrifices. He’s intent on teaching them both a lesson.

(Reader’s note. Ariennu is nicknamed MaMa and Naibe is called Baby, but they are not mother and daughter.) 18+

 

Ari stared at Maatkare Raemkai as he chatted, noticing Deka sat next to her prince oblivious to the surroundings. She had done the same thing in Little Kina Ahna when everyone had lived with Marai.  That much of her personality had not changed. For Ari, Maatkare was much more interesting.

So good looking though. He was even fun to drink with last night before it got to be too much; watching him show off for his men. Ariennu mused, a slight smile on her lips. Maybe not the worst idea in the world, except having to share him. And whatever he did to Naibe this afternoon was uncalled for, knocking her out like that.

She paused, tucking in her thoughts, when she saw the prince glance her way as if he had heard every one of them.

The signal to Naibe was a yawn.

Ari leaned to a servant.

“Where is your privy? My friend and I need to…”

The servant glanced at the priest who spoke to the prince.

Maatkare, his eyes glimmering a little in recognition of something, motioned for an older guard to follow them. He raised a forefinger, then lowered it in a quiet but mystical gesture.

Don’t be gone too long, ladies. His thoughts whispered as he pulled Deka a little closer.

The shaded stall with an open half wall provided just enough room for a person to squat. After a moment, Ari rose and gestured to Naibe that it was her turn:

I’m going to cover myself and stand over you. If you just concentrate on getting to the king and not being seen, I think it’ll work.

She wrapped the prismatic illusion around herself like goddess Nut’s mantle, hugging Naibe up into her arms and slipping away past the guard who paced just a few feet away.

As soon as she reached the causeway to the river, she let Naibe down and dropped the illusion. The two women gasped and then caught their breath, shrinking back into the shadow. Once there, they tried to get their bearings.

“Do you think he saw which way we went?” Naibe whispered.

“No, but we have to keep moving down the river. I’m sure the guard has already told…Oh Goddess…fast. The bastard knows already.”

Ari stopped and crouched with Naibe as guards with bobbling torches erupted from the gate to priest’s house.

“Bring him out here. Stupid bastard let them run off.”

Prince Maatkare.

Storming by.

He whirled as two men dragged the guard who had been set over the women out to the wall near the water in the causeway channel.

Naibe and Ariennu crouched lower, wrapping secrecy around themselves.

“Highness. They used sorcery. Gone in a flash.” The guard pleaded, then accepting his fate, whispered: “Have mercy…”

“I do have mercy on you, because you have served me well.” The prince replied. “And I have mercy on your children.”

The shup sound of a blade striking hard into a body was followed by a groan. A shadow drifted over the three figures who supported the fourth, followed by a snapping sound. It meant the man’s neck had been broken in a quick gesture of mercy.

Ari clapped a quick hand over Naibe’s mouth to keep her from squealing aloud in horror.

“Take our unfortunate old friend to the open edge of the water. He has been given a message for Lord Sebek. What you men will know” the hand gesture again, as if he was imprinting the men with a different story, “is that as he was chasing the women, slipped at the muddy bank and the crocodiles got to him before we could. I will write a message to his family of his noble deeds in my service and award them his pension. Be careful of the crocodiles yourselves. They can be keen on those who break the rules or bear tales.” He grew silent as the guard’s body was carried away.

Ari faded herself into the color of the wall. She couldn’t make out everything the prince was doing but it seemed to be additional ritual gestures, followed by the spiritual howl of a wolf-dog. It grew in piercing volume overtaking Ari’s heart and filling her heart with uncustomary terror.

Naibe’s mouth opened in a silent cry.

Maatkare stopped, as if he noticed, and sniffed the air.

For a moment, Ari thought she recognized the flash of shiny fang teeth in an eerie grin but realized it was an image of warning he had conjured up so that he would appear as a beast before her eyes.

I know you are near, ladies. I can smell your scents. Because you decided to run away, you now see a little more of how I am. I will find you before dawn. I hope the chase will leave me feeling less upset by that time. The prince’s thought voice was calm and unruffled, just as it had been when he spoke to the unfortunate guard. He moved back up the causeway, scenting and searching for them.

As soon as Ari saw he was far enough away to appear the same size as a shabti doll, she silently grabbed Naibe and darted around the perimeter of the priest’s home and into the first entrance they could find that didn’t seem to be part of the building complex.

The path became a shrouded tunnel.

Ari saw two sentries at the open gate entryway.

Another temple, maybe? She thought, hurtling by the men with Naibe in tow. The sentries stirred as if they sensed something, stared at each other, then they closed the gate behind the women who were still moving deeper inside the passageways. Ariennu relaxed, her image becoming visible. She waited with Naibe in the dust and dark, while they caught their breath.

“Killed the guard, the bastard did, just to teach us a lesson. He set the whole thing up, because he knew we were up to something. I don’t even think N’ahab would have done that, goddess curse his soul.” Ari spat at the ground, then pulled Naibe to the left branch of the path when they came to a division.

The new hallway was close and torch lit with paintings on the walls. At intervals there were more paths and arched hollows that became other tunnels, but Ari was certain they would find the way out of the other side at any moment.

A right then another right then a left. Um. She paused to stroke the stone in her brow, hoping to clarify any message her Child Stone transmitted.

Where am I supposed to go? Damn. I’m going to get us lost. She froze. City of the Dead, Sokor. A Labyrinth, and I led us both in here.  She turned to Naibe. “Let’s just try to be calm and quiet. They will help us. They just have to.”

“Um, Ari…” Naibe paused, her hand staying the older woman’s hand. “You do know where you are going don’t you?”

“I just know we have to go deeper in. I can still feel his thoughts, Babe. He’s looking around down here…tracking us. He can smell us. If we keep moving in where the burial boxes are, there are enough of them and dust in the twists. I want his nose confused over what he thinks he smells. He can’t stay past dawn. Sooner or later he’ll have to give up on us and keep moving up the river. He’ll have to leave us.  Then we can get out and get down the river to Our Father Menkaure. If he’s going to keep showing me how he is ‘Prince Dangerous’ and killing people over nothing, we’re not safe. I’ll curse my own soul if I ever let some man kill me, whether he was glorious on his couch or not.”

“I didn’t like it, Ari.” Naibe admitted, just above a whisper.

“No? Really? I thought he was one wild hump! That El of his knew how to seek out every single part in my belly and womb like it was made for it. Mmm…Mmm…I wish I didn’t have to get away. I’m getting another itch for it, just thinking about it working me.”

Ari turned every way she could, realizing the underground complex must have been huge. So far she hadn’t found any two passageways that looked alike.

“With me, he put up a wall over his soul instead of becoming open to me. Devils came out of his eyes the more I sent up my loving to him. He just sucked it out and still gave nothing back. It was as if he was broken and couldn’t love me like a normal man. He could give the pleasure twice over to fill in that missing part and I was screaming for it, but then I couldn’t stop thinking of my Marai and how much I missed the real love he had for me…and then I couldn’t breathe. I fainted.”

“No I saw everything he did when you first came in. Read it off your stone when you were crawling around the cabin floor all shocked. Bastard choked you hard enough to end you and then painted night in front of your eyes…said he would drink your heart for saying Marai’s name to him.” Ariennu stopped walking and sat by the wall where five corridors branched out in the dark.

Now which way? She asked herself.

Naibe shuddered as if she wanted to gag in worry.

Ari she tapped the nearly imperceptible rise in the middle of her forehead just at the top of her nose. “Come on little one… some help here. Show me those little balls of light Marai told us about that led him in the dark to your boat of wonders so long ago, if this is still real…”

“It’s alright MaMa.” Naibe petted Ari’s shoulder.

“Still my fault we’re having to run like this. We should be at the palace soaking in asses milk, not having to get away from someone who’s no better than a slave master.” She saw the small lightened area in one of the corridors. “There. That way. I see those lights, I think. We have to go.” Ari got to her feet and pulled Naibe up.

After a series of twists and turns and more walking, the elder woman slowed, realizing the lights might have been an illusion born of her own fatigue.

 

Push on if you must

Or stay

Or go this way

 

A voice exploded just under her brow. It was louder than the usual whisper-like singing to which she had become accustomed.

“Finally! Ouch, damn. Naibe, watch your step, there’s something back here. I thought it was a wall but there’s something out in front.” She murmured, then felt the lid of a low stone box with some carved object on top.

A Stone box. It’s like my dream when I saw Marai lying dead in that black box somewhere. She felt for the edge for a moment but realized the box in her dream had been plain and slick to the touch. This one was smooth but not as finely polished

“I can feel a draft coming over the top so maybe it’s in front of a hall that leads us out of here the back way.” Ari couldn’t see much in the dark until she paused and became calm enough for her eyes to switch into a kind of night vision.

In the back, a niche containing a platform for offerings. Something furred, broken and wet with gore lay in the dish. Her hands leapt up away from whatever it was as if they had been lightning struck. Atop the lid was a carved image. She felt the shape: Animal. Legs, haunches, muzzle and upright ears of Wepwawet as Guide of the Dead.

She gasped, realizing the irony of the place she had entered with the younger woman. The prince’s words from late last night rang in her ears.

 

I’m the Lord of the Dead by the Blood of Aset…the Lord of the Dead

 

She remembered the revelry of the party, and the way a very drunk Maatkare cried out his howling lament about his ill-fated marriage to the king’s daughter. Women always tryna put a collar on me.

That was the moment she knew she had to get him away from the king’s private area and onto his boat.

Well damn me she thought.

Ari suddenly realized the prince was here on more than business. This was a centering and safe place for the disciples of Wepwawet who presented as a wolf/dog.

He must be from the wolf school with all his skill with a bow, the howling, the…Oh goddess…shape shifting that’s so fast no bones bend or skin stretches…he just is. I led us both to his safe space…He came here to cleanse himself? Our dinner host was his witness while we were cleaning up?

Ariennu sensed something wasn’t right in the tonality of the Children’s voices. Sounds like a man imitating…like…She tensed, all the hair on her arm rising as she heard the great wolf/dog’s panting approach to the opening of the chapel.

The sound of his clawed feet tip-tapped on the hardened earth floor of the path. The panting merged into an evil titter; breathing in the dark; a faint growl that grew stronger and more threatening.

 

Push on if you must

Or stay

Or go this way

Either way leads to pain

You see, I know what they sound like,

Your little friends

These voices in your crystal eye.

 

The black furred hand/paw touched her arm just before it faded into illusion.

“MaMa!” Naibe cried, panting. “He’s finding us. Hide!” Naibe ran around the stone box. This time she grabbed Ari and hid in her cloaking arms. The women clung to each other, wide-eyed and silent. Before the shroud of silence covered them, Ari saw the silhouette of a black wolf/dog thin like smoke. In its place, Ari thought she saw a gold armlet flashing in the slight available light of a distant torch.

Oh. He’s here? She hardened her resolve, crouching and ready to fight.

In the distance, the women heard a faint scampering snapping, growling, yodel-howling, circling and finding the way.

They’re coming Ari. Dogs…He has power over dogs. He’s sending dogs. Naibe grabbed Ariennu harder, as if it would help her gain more invisibility.

I know Baby, I know…the elder woman listened silently for a long time as the sounds circled, grew louder and finally paused outside the room where they had become the most confused.

Footsteps.

Maatkare stood in the doorway, golden wrist and arm bands glimmering in ambient torchlight.

“I know what you tried to do.” He began to pace, trying to seem thoughtful “Maybe I would have done the same thing too if I had been in your situation. But now you’ve caused a good man to die, because you outwitted him with your little trick.”

The sound of dogs growling grew louder.  His thought voice growled too, half human half dog as if he had become one of them.

Easy brothers…he started, then spoke aloud “Perhaps I should let them come at you. They are my trick, Red Sister. See if you like it.” Maatkare’s dark hand swept the air in front of him. Ari sensed an almost-whisper.

Suddenly, black ravenous shadows emptied past him around his torso and over his shoulders; into the chamber pouncing, snarling and biting. Ariennu felt herself knocked back hard by the weight of several animals standing around and towering over her. She shrieked angrily, struggling against their bodies.

“Call them off! Damn you!” she swung, kicked and shoved, but accomplished nothing.

 

“You’re afraid…tsk, tsk…fearless Lady Ariennu…worried by some puppies.”

 

“Am not…get them off me…”

 

“About to soil yourself, you naughty ka’t” he chortled, toeing the threshold and gesturing. “Just a very small sample of what I can do, if you come to annoy me.”

Puppies?  Ari froze, her eyes clearing a little.

The clawing and biting beasts had become gregarious, yipping puppies. They frolicked happily about her prone body then left, heading past the prince and out the doorway as they vanished.

It had been a magnificent illusion.

 

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

The last 2 books in the series Book 4 “Heart of the Lotus” and Book 5 “The Lake of Memory” plus some spin-offs in other time periods including a Steampunk Crime novella “Miss Hattie and the Hoppers” and an autobiography of sorts. There are other plans in other times and places.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

Createspace covers. They are very professional looking.

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Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-R.-Woldering/e/B00OND7QMU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Website:  Palace intrigue, murder, madness, confusion, bizarre twists and plot turns…dangerous hookups, evil geniuses, punk sorcerers, traitors…

https://www.maryrwoldering.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChildrenofStone

Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ChildrenofStoneNovels?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

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Meet Mackenzie at Davison & Goodrich High School’s Holiday Arts & Crafts Shows

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Meet Mackenzie Flohr, award-winning YA Fantasy author, at the Davison and Goodrich High School’s Holiday Arts & Crafts Shows. She’ll be signing copies of her novel THE RITE OF WANDS and THE WHISPERED TALES OF GRAVES GROVE.

#authorslife #authorsofinstagram #holidays #DecTheShelves #YA #Teen #Books #readinglist #mustread #paranormal #fantasy #suspense #thriller