After picking through blizzard photos for this edition's header, I chose something without a speck of white.
Maybe if I act as if winter will end someday, Mother Nature will take the hint. The forecast is for anywhere between five and fourteen feet more snow over the next ten days. <choke>
We still have fifteen foot drifts from the last go-round that began around Xmas and didn't let up for the next six weeks. I live on a private road with 17 houses on it. We have a homeowners' group where most (but not all) of us chuck in funds monthly to cover snow removal. Other than the deadbeats, what we do not have is support from the town to truck snow out of here. Anything over about five feet total will annihilate the hill I live on. I'd be willing to pay someone to haul snow out of here, but it would be very expensive. The problem with about 20 percent of the homeowners who never pay anything looms large.
Anyway, no point fussing since I have zero control over what comes out of the sky. My house has been standing since 1973. Not anticipating the next set of storms will flatten it. I'd stock up on food, but this is Presidents' week. The town is full of tourists and the main highway from the south was closed yesterday due to gale force winds. Ergo, no Safeway trucks can visit. Even if I did battle my way through the crowds in the store, my bet is all I'd find would be a lot of bare shelves. Another problem with bad weather is much of the ski mountain is closed for safety reasons. Means all those tourists are bored out of their gourds.
This is a TINY little town. Four square miles. Very limited retail therapy opportunities. About seven thousand year round residents. Like I said, small.
And so it goes. It is beautiful here. Makes up for a lot. And all that snow will melt someday. My bet is it will hang around till well into June.
Read on for the winner of the last contest, a brand new contest, a sale or two, and info about my upcoming release.
Photo is Duck Pass and Duck Lake. I took it in late October back when the trails were still snow free. The last contest surprised me. The question was which of my books was your favorite. Nearly every one of my well over a hundred books received a vote. I'd figured some of my popular series would be chosen over and over. Nope. Warms my heart that my book children are so well received. The contest winner was Terri R. She's been notified, and a print book will be headed her way as soon as it arrives here and I can sign it. ***** I'm having fun with these contests. So much fun, I'm starting a "thing." I'm going to run this next contest quarterly. Since you're purchasing my books anyway, this gives you an opportunity to enter a draw for a $30 GC. All you have to do is enter the purchase ID. I'll take it from there. Current contest closes 3/8/2023 at midnight. Click here for the Google form
Scarred is up for preorder! I'm about 20K words into Cursed. Bound by Shadows is a trilogy, so a long tale split into three episodes. I'm having fun writing it. The wolf on the cover looks alot like my Kua man did. They have a few personality traits in common too. Release date is 3/14. Advance copies have gone out to my review team. The paperback should be live next week. It was just approved for publication. Here's a sample. When I leave bits of books, they're fully copyrighted. Means no reproduction without my express permission. Sorry to even have to say that, but digital piracy is on the upswing again. I chalk it up to the burgeoning AI market. While I'm on that topic, I write all my own material. I have dabbled in AI for audio. More on that in the next box down. *****
Rain sluiced from leaden skies. The weather in Seattle sucked. So what else was new? I trudged along narrow byways on Capitol Hill, hoping to catch a break. We’d spent the previous night under a bridge. Surely, I could improve our circumstances. Brick buildings rose above me. Most had been converted to cheap flats—weekly rentals—which was why I’d chosen this neighborhood. “We should leave,” Zeke growled. “Nothing to hold us here.” He’s a white wolf, and my familiar. Today, he looks more like a shaggy brown dog since a wolf would draw far too much attention on busy city streets. He shook water off his back, spraying me. I might have minded if I weren’t already soaked. “It may come to that.” I buried a hand in his wet pelt and scratched behind his ears. “We’re not leaving today, though.” A muted yip swelled through me. He really did look pathetic. Even his ears drooped. I stopped walking and drew us beneath an overhanging balcony. It cut the rain a bit. “We have to think things through,” I told him. “Running away is reacting, and we’ve done nothing wrong.” “Tell that to the Coven.” His words knifed into my guts, hot, sharp, stabbing. I couldn’t think about our former home. If I did, I’d burst into tears—or race back there and kill whoever showed up first. Eventually, they’d overpower me, toss me in their dungeon. And never let me out. No judge. No jury. Coven law was incontrovertible. No matter how satisfying revenge would be, it would get us exactly nowhere. “We’ll talk about it later.” My tone was firm, but Zeke wasn’t a dog. He thought for himself. I hadn’t heard the end of any of this. Not by a longshot. Moving briskly forward, I checked signs and hunted for vacancies. They weren’t overly plentiful, but one beckoned. I knocked on one more door. Surely, there’d be a place I could trade labor for a roof over my head. Carving out thinking time was essential to plot our next steps. I don’t think well when I’m hungry and shivering. “Come on in,” someone yelled. I glanced at Zeke. He stared back. I see right through the glamour I slather over him, but humans can’t. “You heard the man.” I crooked a finger at the wolf and pushed the door open. A tall, spare fellow in his fifties with brown eyes and a bald pate hurried into the entry hall and stopped dead. Jeans hung low on his hips. A plaid lumberman’s jacket covered a stained T-shirt. Scuffed motorcycle boots rose to just below his knees. I stood straighter, which brought me slightly above his six-foot height. The only truly odd thing about me is my mismatched eyes. One is dark, the other white, sort of like albino eyes except mine doesn’t have a trace of pink. He nodded once, curtly. “What can I do for you, missy?” “I was hoping for lodging.” “I have space. It’ll be fifty a night, cheapest place in town.” I cleared my throat. Unless I robbed a bank, something I could probably pull off with magic, I had nothing. The Coven paid for everything. When they’d shown me the door, I left with the clothes on my back. I’d asked about my things and been told nothing was mine. Everything belonged to them. Yeah, the fucking Coven. Bitches all around. The landlord got the picture and made shooing motions with both hands. “This ain’t no charity, lady. Move on out of here.” Not his first rodeo. Homelessness was a huge problem in every big city. “I can work. Cook. Clean. Whatever’s needed.” I rocked from foot to foot, waiting. So far, I’d played fair, but this was my sixth apartment building. Screw fair. I sent subtle waves of compulsion across the space between us. I was the best thing since sharp knives. He’d be a fool to send me packing. The creases in his forehead smoothed. He actually half smiled. “How long were you thinking of staying?” Breath swooshed from me in a quiet sigh. “Only a couple of nights, and then we’ll be moving on.” He glanced at Zeke, who wagged his tail. I swallowed a snort. The wolf knew when to lay it on thick. “Is he housebroken?” “Yes, of course,” I replied. “Will he chew things up?” More tail wags. “He’s well behaved,” I murmured with a vision of Zeke’s jaws clamped around a vampire’s neck racing through my mind. “Can you sew?” the man asked. The question came out of left field. “Um, sure,” I lied. How hard could it be? “Come this way.” He turned and shambled down a long hallway. The building was well past its prime with peeling wallpaper and dirty floors. He could have put me to work with a mop but apparently had something else in mind. Two floors up, he led us to a tiny room with a sewing machine and stacks of clothes next to it. “May as well get started.” He jerked a thumb at the linens and garments. “Dinner’s in an hour. You’ll sleep in this room too.” Before I could comment about the lack of a mattress, he was gone. I shoved the door shut and removed my sodden outer garments, hanging them on hooks. My shirt and trousers were wet too, but at least they had a shot at drying in the warmish room. I pried off my boots, stripped off my soaked socks, and hung them next to everything else. Zeke curled up in a corner and was asleep in seconds. I perched on a bench in front of the sewing machine and stared at it. I’ve never used one of these contraptions. Luckily, it was threaded. I memorized the pattern in case I ran out of thread and had to duplicate it. Next, I hunted for the controls. After botching seams on the first two items, I got better. A cunning second thread on a round thing sat beneath the sewing platform. It promptly ran out. A bit of digging in a drawer in the sewing table yielded the manual. I fist pumped the air. The goddess hadn’t deserted me. These dogeared pages proved it. I wound new thread around the bobbin—all those pesky parts had names—and was back in business soon. Sheesh, the man hadn’t even asked my name. Maybe he didn’t want to know. In addition to no money, I also lacked ID. I’d need to remedy that, but it wouldn’t be easy without a birth certificate. Even if I had one, no one would believe I’d been born hundreds of years before in the Old Country. Sewing wasn’t difficult. My mind wandered as I plowed through the ripped and torn items. If I’d known what the Coven was up to, I’d have prepared better. I needed a computer and a phone. A way to access the Internet. The dark web to put a finer point on it. Surely, denizens of the underworld could set me up with a driver’s license—never mind I can’t drive—and a social security number. Would I need anything further? A passport, maybe? Not unless I wanted to leave the country. To do that would require money. Trading labor for a room and food was all fine and well, but I needed a real job, one that paid regularly. A faint chuckle tickled my lips. I imagined filling out a job application, notably the skills section. Creative spell development and deployment were my forte. Sniffing out and slaying evil another. Mortals know about magic, but they prefer it on the big screen. Not in their neighborhood. I can type. Maybe someone would hire me as a secretary. I can clean, but I hate it. Soft snores issued from Zeke. He’d stretched out, back against the wall. A brisk knock startled me. Zeke growled and shot to his feet. Before I could get up to open the door, a key turned in the lock. The man from earlier stood there, arms crossed over his chest, and surveyed my progress. “That the stack that’s done?” He pointed. I nodded. “Good. You’re quick. Dinner is now. If you want to eat, you’d best get moving. First floor. Follow the food smells.” He was gone as quickly as he’d arrived, pulling the door closed behind him. Zeke shook himself and pranced to the door, tail pluming. Food sounded grand to him. Familiars always shared food in the Coven. I finished the seam I was working on, turned the machine off, and stood. “Hate to break it to you,” I told Zeke, “but you’re probably not welcome in the dining room.” He lifted his upper lip, displaying impressive fangs. “I can beg with the best of them,” he informed me haughtily. My clothes were mostly dry. I put my boots and stockings back on. Bringing Zeke wasn’t the worst idea. I had no idea which winners of the world called this place home, but a large dog by my side would keep unwanted attention at bay. “You’re in,” I told him. He wagged his tail. His coat had dried and fluffed up around him, making him lusciously handsome. He has the same mismatched eyes as me. Of course, I cover them up with the glamour that makes him look like a dog. Without belaboring the point, we dream our familiars and flesh them out with magic when our moon blood begins to flow. Mother was aghast when Zeke showed up sporting the same flaw she’d gone to the mat to conceal. She turned herself inside out casting spells to normalize his eyes. It worked about as well as her efforts to fix me. I opened the door and clucked at Zeke to follow me. We didn’t need to be on the main floor to figure out where the dining room was. My senses are almost as acute as his. Following a food track was child’s play. Tonight’s menu included a ground beef casserole with Mexican spices, stale corn tortillas, and tea. Hearty fare. The dining room was at the end of a lengthy hallway in the opposite direction from the front door. When we walked through, everyone fell silent, staring. The landlord pushed to his feet and flapped a hand our way. “Let’s welcome…” Righto. He never did request my name. “I’m Morgan.” I nodded pleasantly at about thirty people, mostly men with a few women mixed in. Everyone’s face was marked by hard miles. There had to be stories here, but they weren’t my affair. “Yeah, let’s welcome Morgan,” he finished and stared at Zeke. “Don’t recall inviting him.” Zeke whined and waved his tail around. “He won’t be any trouble,” I promised. “He’ll sit next to me and be a good boy.” A woof and more tail wags earned him a smattering of laughter. Before the landlord said, “No dogs,” I crossed the room and helped myself to food from a table at the back. Plate and bowl in hand, I plopped into the nearest seat, put my head down, and inhaled the food. It was the first meal I’d had since yesterday afternoon when the Coven handed us our walking papers, and I was hungry. Magic is a picky bitch of a mistress. No way to keep it in tip-top shape without adequate rest and nourishment. I might not need my skills for a while, but it wasn’t a reason to let them go to hell. Mercifully, no one was in a chatty mood. Everyone hunkered over their food. Some returned for seconds until the serving dishes were empty. Hard times did that to you, made you not waste anything. Zeke hadn’t gotten so much as a fat scrap. He could slip out and hunt later. Or remain inside. Plenty of mice here. I sensed them in the walls and above the ceiling. My sole experience with “hard times” was the last twenty-four hours. Always been a quick learner, though. Some of my fellow tenants had already left. I bussed my dishes to a plastic bin in the back of the room with Zeke clinging to my side. Living well is the best revenge. In my case, living at all was closer to the mark. I racked my brain for who’d said that and came up with George Herbert. The Coven had an extensive library, filled with modern and ancient tomes. And we’d had the Internet. Many of the older witches made a sigil against evil when they passed the small study filled with CPUs and monitors, but we young ones lapped up the information. If I was going to show the Coven I’d survive despite their crap, I needed a plan. Running away from Seattle wasn’t part of it. We walked out of the dining room. Zeke bounded the length of the hall to the front door. I opened it and let him out. He catapulted into darkness. The night was clear and cold. For once, the rain had let up. “I’ll let you know when I’m back,” he woofed and vanished. “Be careful. Don’t let anyone see you.” He didn’t answer. When he was beyond the reach of my glamour, he wrapped himself in invisibility. I let the door shut and turned intent on trudging upstairs to our tiny room. With my belly was full, I was sleepy. “Aren’t you going to wait for him?” An unfamiliar male voice jarred me. I halted and turned, staring at the stairwell. One of my fellow diners stood at the bottom of the steps. Maybe mid-thirties, he had long, fair hair, a full beard, and the greenest eyes I’d ever seen. Faded Levis were cinched by a black leather belt. A wrinkled pale-blue shirt showcased broad shoulders, suggesting a well-muscled build. How to respond? Responsible pet owners didn’t abandon their charges. I squirmed, hoping to project embarrassment. “I was just heading to the ladies’. He’ll sit by the door and wait for me if he gets back first.” To add credibility to my words, I started up the linoleum-coated steps. The man loped up the stairs until he stood next to me. Damn, he was tall. It’s rare when I have to look up—at anyone. My spine tingled unpleasantly. A warning? My experience beyond the Coven’s walls and orders is so limited I wasn’t sure how to interpret the shudder. Better safe than sorry, though. I offered a curt nod. “Thank you for your concern about Zeke.” I placed a foot on the next step up. He grabbed my forearm. Panic swamped me. Crap. Would I have to fight my way out of this? “Let go,” I growled, doing a credible imitation of Zeke. Unfamiliar power surged through where he held me. I wrenched my arm to get away, but I may as well have been chained to a boulder. His green gaze bored into mine. “Well, Morgan. Let’s see what you’ve got.” I bristled, anger taking over. “Whatever I have isn’t for you. Unhand me.” Laughter rolled from him. I hadn’t expected it. “Stop laughing at me.” He laughed harder—and hung on just as tight. “I know what you are,” slithered across my mind. “Let’s see what you’ve got was an invitation to see if you can escape.” A red-hot poker up my ass wouldn’t have been any more galvanizing. Heedless of consequences, I blasted through protections he’d erected around his magical center. It was absurdly simple. His eyes widened with shock at how quickly I’d laid waste to his defenses. He let go of me and bowed. “I defer to superior talent.” My jaw hung open. I clacked it shut. “But you’re—” He clamped a hand over my mouth. “Un-uh.” “Let me in.” Zeke howled. Mr. No Name grinned. “Duty calls, eh.” “Yeah, he’s not very patient.” Before the last of my words were out, I was alone. One moment, the Fae stood next to me; the next he was gone without a trace. No wonder he’d intercepted Zeke’s mind speech. Shaking my head, I trotted down the stairs to admit the wolf. He was more than capable of opening the door by himself, but gratuitous displays of magic were frowned upon. He pranced and danced in the lower hallway and then ran rings around me as we mounted the stairs. Back in our room, I draped a sound shield around us. Zeke’s ears pricked forward. “Why the need for secrecy?” “We’re not the only mages here,” I informed him. “We’ve been outed.” **** Click here. Preorder yours today.
Audio A while back, I offered the audio version of Blood and Magic for free through Authors' Direct. A lot of you (hundreds) downloaded it. Unfortunately, there wasn't a single purchase of the next two books in the series. Not from Authors' Direct or any other vendor. I'm considering free audio a failed experiement at this point. My original plan was to rotate free audio titles, but I've rethought that for obvious reasons. What I will do is offer uber low cost audiobooks on a rotating basis.
The current steal is Winning Glory, GenTech Rebellion Book One, for just 1.99. Here's the link. This is one of my older series. Part sci fi romance, part romantic suspense, it's always garnered great reviews. ********
After years as a black ops CIA agent, nothing surprises Roy Kincaid, yet his current assignment is close to a bust. How could his target—renegade genetic freaks—drop off the radar as if they never existed? Burnt out and discouraged, he hunches over a meal in a backwater diner when a half-frozen woman with the look of an abused runaway staggers through the door. On his feet in an instant, Roy kicks himself. His first instinct is to help her, make certain she stays long enough for the bluish cast to leave her lips. His second is to finish his meal and leave. The world is full of broken women. It’s not his job to fix them, but he can’t take his eyes off her.
Glory’s telepathic ability blares a harsh warning. Roy hunts those like her, but damn if he didn’t buy her dinner. Maybe she can fool him, just for tonight. Add a dry motel room to the meal. If she plays it very cool, he’ll never find out she’s on the run from the same group he's determined to kill.
Enhanced genetics only go so far. A roadblock and her face on a Most Wanted flyer shatter her fragile truce with Roy. If her Handlers find her, they’ll kill her. If Roy finds out what she is, she’ll be worse than dead.
Speaking of audio, I'm part of Apple Books beta for AI generated audio. I have nine books in the hopper. The Elemental Witch series, the Underground Heat series, and three standalone novellas. Apple takes forever from portal to portal on these titles, but they're getting closer to release. I'm excited (and nervous) to preview the finished product. Unlike AI over on Google Play, Apple does everything for these books. My only choice was between a male and female narrator. Other authors have been delighted with this "look Ma, no hands" approach. Hopefully, I will be too. Even when I've commissioined audiobooks for $200 a finished hour (or more), I'm still stuck listening to every word in case the narrator made a mistake. Stay tuned. You'll be the first to know when my audiobooks are available through Apple Books.
Dru loves to travel. Adores motels. But the best part is when we have him out walking and someone stops and asks, "Is that a wolf?" Or says, "Wow, he's gorgeous." Dru preens and prances and licks and generally ingratiates himself with whatever stranger compllmented him. It's pretty danged cute. That's all till next time. Be sure to enter the contest while it's fresh in your mind.