Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fluffy Bunny, Bk 2 of the Runespell series, Excerpt, Part 1

I stepped into my bedroom, still dripping from my shower, and froze at the sight of the three women waiting for me. The shock of finding people in my room was brief. Then I saw the women, registered their appearance, and I felt a deep horror wash over me, numbing my limbs - the way I imagined a mouse felt the second before being swallowed whole by a snake.
The women were neither young nor old, not pretty, not ugly. They were average-looking women... until I met their eyes.
They looked at me in a slightly off-focus way, like a blind person does, meeting my gaze without really seeing with those gray-ringed pupils that I found myself staring into.
I felt a slight burning on my chest and I reached up to touch one of the four silver sigils hanging from my neck by a length of the chain that bound Fenris Odinslayer, the monstrous wolf-son of Loki. The sigils were Runespells, my souveniers from several months ago when I won a magical race for the powerful amulets.
After searching for my missing step-sister, I ended up fighting demons for the Runespells to keep a horrid man, not-so-good ol' Bob, from using them to cause trouble in the form of starting Ragnarok. I wasn't sure how Bob would have done that, but I knew that Ragnarok was supposed to start when Loki gets angry and breaks free from his chains to lead an army of Jotun, fire and ice giants, against Asgard.
None of that would end well.
I stopped not-so-good ol' Bob, fought the demons, found the Runespells, and spent half a week in the hospital afterwards. My reward was to keep the Runespells, so I could use them in my search for the other 14 missing sigils. Some prizes aren't worth the trouble.
As my fingertips grazed the sigil burning my skin, information flooded my mind, telling me about the god-creatures before me, and I understood why I'd felt such primal fear at their gaze.
The women before me were not gods, after all. They were stronger than the gods. They were god-creatures that I would never want to anger or insult. They were beings that I would think long and hard before attempting to deal with.
They were the Norns, and they were waiting for me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mother's Touch, Excerpt, Part 11

Part 1 is herePart 2 is herePart 3 is herePart 4 is herePart 5 is herePart 6 is herePart 7 is herePart 8 is herePart 9 is herePart 10 is here

I spent three days at Grandpa Bear's preparing for my vision quest. He told me how to get to a campsite that would be good for my purpose. He stressed that he wasn't sending me somewhere that was beyond my hiking skills, but I was still frightened.
At the end of the time, I put on my hiking shoes and shouldered the large backpack with just enough food and water to keep me alive. Grandpa Bear warned me not to come back for four days, to give me enough time to recieve the message that the spirits had for me. Then he shooed me out the door with a quick hug.
I picked a pace that I was sure I could keep for several hours and strode along the trail Grandpa Bear had told me about. At first, the miles and miles of sand and brush of the Southwest were intimidating. Then they were just boring.
I sighed and watched my feet as I walked. There was nothing but rocks and skeletal-looking plants to see for miles. I missed tv and people and walls and paintings and...
A tiny gray thing moved right over my foot. I jumped back, yelping, and promptly lost my balance. I landed on my butt with a sharp jolt, but I barely noticed. My eyes darted around trying to find the thing that had surprised me.
I caught a movement to the side and my head whipped around to follow it. My neck popped, releasing a sharp pain followed by an odd warmth that flooded my neck and jaw.
I groaned and flexed my neck, struggling to my feet with the heavy backpack. I readusted the weight, staring down at my boots, before taking a deep breath and continuing my trudging walk.
Around sunset, I reached the small rock formation that Grandpa Bear had described. As he'd said, there was enough of an overhang to provide some shelter for my sleeping blankets. I laid them out with my pack at the foot, then built a small fire just in front of the overhang. A small metal pot and some of Grandpa Bear's vision tea made a comforting drink to go with the bit of beef jerky I chewed on for my dinner.
Soon, the physical effort of my hike and the quickly cooling desert air had me dozing off.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mother's Touch, Excerpt, Part 10

Part 1 is herePart 2 is herePart 3 is herePart 4 is herePart 5 is herePart 6 is herePart 7 is herePart 8 is herePart 9 is here

I couldn't stop crying.
I felt guilty about that poor little boy who I couldn't help. I heard his mother's words in my head, mixing with the words of my own mother.
"You're a fraud!"
"You insult the spirits!"
"You can't take money!"
"I should sue!"
Over it all, Grandpa Bear intoned, "The price must be paid."
So I cried. For days. Then I went back to see Grandpa Bear and wept in his lap.
"I tried so hard, but I can't do it, Grandpa Bear. I can't live on nothing and I can't afford to be sued if someone decides they don't like what I've done for them. I can't afford food. I'm barely making rent!"
I lifted a tear-stained face to him. "I can't afford the price of this gift! Ask the spirits to take it from me."
Grandpa Bear sighed. "A gift such as that cannot be returned, Little Bird. And your struggle is understandable."
He helped me sit up. "You need to understand better. The price of the gift is not yours."
I frowned, my lip trembling from my tears. "I don't understand, Grandpa Bear. I don't understand at all."
Grandpa Bear nodded. "You need a deeper understanding of how the gifts work and how the spirits demand price. You must ask the spirits themselves for your answers."
I froze. "You want me to go on a vision quest? Isn't there another way?"
Grandpa Bear smiled. "You fear the spirits, child, but not for the reasons you should. Face your fears and learn the deeper truths."
"Can't you just tell me?" I said, ignoring the whine in my voice.
Grandpa Bear sat up and looked me in the eye. "No."

Friday, July 8, 2016

Mother's Touch, Excerpt, Part 9

Part 1 is herePart 2 is herePart 3 is herePart 4 is herePart 5 is herePart 6 is herePart 7 is herePart 8 is here

I rushed out the door, jumped into my car and fumbled for the keys. I drove to the hospital, checking the paper with my hand-scratched notes. Tim Philips. Menengitis. Room 307.
I paused before entering the room. I was going to have to ask the mother to pay some up-front, and that always felt like asking for charity. But I spent so much time fielding calls and recovering from the healing sessions, I'd had to quit my job at the clothing shop. I wasn't making enough with the free-will donations any more.
"Hi, Tim," I said to the small boy in the hospital bed. "I'm LunaMae. I'm going to try to help you."
The boy started to nod, but the tell-tale stiff neck cut off his movement. He tried to follow my movement around the bed, but flinched from the light when I went past the window.
I glanced at his mother, seeing the pain and stress in her eyes, and I sighed, knowing I wasn't going to be able to press her for payment. The weight of my bills and a thousand other niggling thoughts made my shoulders sag as I sat down next to the boy's bed.
I began the song, reaching for the version of reality where music took form. I couldn't find it.
I tried to relax and shake off the panic rising in the back of my mind. I focused on the sounds and rhythm, trying to visualize the music.
After several long minutes, I felt the slight shift in my mind. I opened my eyes and felt the relief race through my limbs when I saw the notes.
 I sifted through the music, searching out the source of the illness. There were no notes out of place, nothing to fix.
I frowned and looked closer. The boy's song was mixed with several dozen tiny melodies. After a few moments of staring at the music, I could see where the little ditties had replaced parts of the boy's song. It was subtle, slight variations of what it maybe should have been. I tried changing the parts of the song that had been rearranged, but there wasn't anything really wrong with the song, it was just different.
I sat back and considered this. I'd never removed a portion of a song before. I wasn't even sure I could remove songs. And if I did, I wasn't sure how that would affect the boy. His song would still be changed or removed.
There was no clear way to see how the boy's song was supposed to be, so I could change it, but I had no way of knowing if the changes would help. I realized that the meningitis, caused by a virus, was just as much a living thing with it's own song. Unlike an injury or cancer, the body wasn't wrong, it was losing a battle for the song.
The realization jolted me out of the song. I stood up, shaking.
"What is it?" the mother asked. "Is he better?"
I shook my head. "I'm sorry. It's... I can't help him."
She grabbed my arm and shook me. "What do you mean? You said you could help him!"
I pulled away. "I thought I could. But it's a virus. I don't know how to fix a virus." I searched for a way around the woman so I could escape the hospital room and my failure.
The woman froze, hate spilling from her eyes. "You are a fraud! I should sue you!"
"Mommy?" Tim called from his bed.
The woman's anger left and she rushed to his side.
"Just leave." She threw the words over her shoulder. But I was already on my way out the door.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Support your local author

Have you been enjoying the content so far? Do you think it would be great if I had MORE?

Well, I do. Time is the single biggest factor in my ability to get more and more words on the page. And that time has to be divided between the writing and the editing, and the blogging, and the posting, and the networking, and the interviews, and the promotional stuff... and that's not even counting the family and job.

The other big factor is money. Money for the whole food and clothes thing, mostly. People don't seem to appreciate it when I walk around naked in public. But money also to let my poor little posts get a bit of extra notice on social media. The metrics keep making it harder for the times when I need to post the "buy me" stuff without forking over some dough.

Also, money to get a small table at some conventions would make a huge difference... and there could even be some cosplay going on... Just saying.

The point is, as much as I would love for my stuff to be available to people in return for a little love and adoration, the utility company doesn't really accept "likes" as a way to keep the power on so I can use my laptop.

So I spend a big chunk of my already stretched time, getting money, so I can keep writing. But you can help!

There are two big ways to support your fav authors and other artists.

First, this:

Please, don't forget the reviews part. It doesn't have to be a big thing - just clicky on the stars and write "awesome" or something. But the fact that the review exists makes a huge difference in how webstores treat that author and book. A few seconds of your time can be life-changing for an author - when else do you get that kind of power, eh?


The second way is things like this:

It's like subscribing to your favorite author. Or artist. Or movie maker. It's like a monthly plan version of kickstarter.

And it keeps the artists out of the po' house while they continue to make great stuff for you and your world.

Sounds like a win-win to me!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mother's Touch, Excerpt, Part 8

Part 1 is herePart 2 is herePart 3 is herePart 4 is herePart 5 is herePart 6 is herePart 7 is here

I pulled up to Grandpa Bear's old shack. It looked the same as it had when I'd last seen it, but it also seemed different. I shook my head.
"You done a lot of living since last time, LunaMae," I muttered to myself.
I walked up to the door and opened it. Guests knocked. Family walked in.
Grandpa Bear was sitting in his usual place on the floor, in front of a small metal fire pit with a tiny fire going in it, smoking his pipe.
"Hello, my cactus thrush," he rumbled, opening his arms for my hug. "What brings you to visit?"
"Grandpa Bear, I missed you," I said. "Isn't that enough?"
He nodded. "It is."
We sat for a moment, staring into the flame of the small fire.
Grandpa Bear shifted and cleared his throat. His eyes clearing up, darkening. "But missing me isn't why you are here, little bird. What is it that disturbs you?"
I bit my lip to keep it from trembling. "It's... Mama and David... and, I don't know. I thought my life was turning around and then... Everyone hates me for what I've done."
Grandpa Bear took a long draw on his pipe and blew it out slowly. "And what is it that you have done?"
I ducked my head. What if Grandpa Bear rejected me, too? I wasn't sure I could handle another blow. But he was the one I turned to for answers. He always gave me what I needed to move forward. And he did so without judgment. I sighed.
"I took money. I healed a little girl with my song and I took money for it." I rushed through the words. "The mother offered the money. I didn't ask for it, I swear. But mama says that violates the spirits and their gifts. And, now, David left me 'cause he says I'm working with demons. And mama kicked me out 'cause I insulted the spirits. I don't know what to do."
My voice turned pleading. "I can make a living off of healing people but everyone says that is wrong. I just want to help and people want to give me money for that."
I fell silent, waiting for Grandpa Bear to tell me what to do. He sat for a long time, staring into the flame and pulling on his pipe. When the tobacco was run out, he slowly, methodically, tapped the pipe into a bowl to offer to the land later, and began cleaning it out.
I fetched his cloths and watched him carefully remove the ashes, refill the pipe and relight it. I loved how he treated the pipe with respect dispite it not being used for a ceremony.
Grandpa Bear drew on his pipe and turned to meet my eyes. "The spirits do not care about money. It is, to them, just another thing. What they do care about, is the cost of the gift."
He gestured with his arm as he spoke. "All gifts come with a price. That price must be paid or there are consequences." He peered at me. "Do you understand what I am saying, little bird?"
I nodded. "I think so, Grandpa Bear."
He nodded. "Go. Think on it. Make sure the price is paid."
I nodded and stood up, kissing his leathery cheek before I left. "I will. Thank you, Grandpa Bear."
As I drove home, I kept my promise and thought about what he had said. The gift was certainly my ability to heal people. To use the gift, I would have to pay the price. To be able to help people, I would have to figure out a way to do so without putting too much on those I was helping.
That might mean I wouldn't be able to make money off of it. Or I could switch to a barter system, though that had it's own issues.
I frowned. Would gift cards count as money or barter?
I sighed. I guess I would just have to stumble through, and if I ended up on the streets, maybe that was part of the price.
I felt tears on my cheeks as I drove, struggling with disappointment and the burden of my gift.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Mother's Touch, Excerpt, Part 7

Part 1 is herePart 2 is herePart 3 is herePart 4 is herePart 5 is herePart 6 is here

"I can't believe you are doing this to me!"
I ignored my mother as I shoved clothes into the largest bag I owned - a mesh laundry bag with several yellow and pink stains. I finished emptying the drawers of my dresser and turned to the closet. I hesitated.
"Do I get to take the furniture? Dresser, bed... hangers?"
Mother stared at me, her eyes shining with unshed tears. "Take it all! You want to abandon me? Take everything!" She turned and wailed her way into the living room.
I sighed. I hadn't expected this to be easy, but the drama was hard after what had happened with David.
I spent another few hours collecting my things into a mishmash of bags, boxes and totes. Then, I collapsed on the stripped bed and checked the time. Almost supper, and I was hungry after all the work of packing.
I walked into the living room. "Mama? You hungry?"
I saw her curled up on the couch, staring at the wall. I moved around and sat next to her feet.
"I'm not trying to hurt you, mama. But I'm an adult now. I need to get out on my own, you know?" I rubbed her back. "I'll visit every week, and we'll have a special time just to catch up." I felt her shift. "You can tell me about work and what Mrs. Jones across the street is up to. And I'll tell you about the people I help in my work."
Mother sat up. "I guess that sounds nice. But I'll miss you every day." She reached for me and I leaned in to the embrace.
"I'll miss you, too, mama." After the urgency passed, I leaned back. "You want pizza?"
Mother nodded. "And what's this work you're talking about? You get a new job?"
I shrugged. "Not exactly."
I called for the pizza, then sat down to tell my mother about the accident, the video and Maggie with her little girl.
"So I get people contacting me and I heal them, and they pay me for it."
I looked up. Mother's face was pale and she had gone completely still. "What's wrong, mama?"
"You can't do that, LunaMae," she whispered. "You can't take money for what the spirits gave you."
"But, mama..."
"Leave! Get out. Until you learn respect for what you can do, you leave my house!"
I gasped. Mother's face was twisted with rage and fear. I ran into the bedroom and gathered as much as I could carry. I barely looked at her before running out the door.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Mother's Touch, Excerpt, Part 6

Part 1 is herePart 2 is herePart 3 is herePart 4 is herePart 5 is here

I looked around the worn but clean one-bedroom apartment, conscious of the landlady standing a few feet away. I liked it, but I knew better than to show my feelings to her.
"How much did you say?" I asked.
"$800 a month, plus first and last month's rent, plus a $400 deposit,"She rattled off the numbers in a tone that was neither encouraging nor hostile. She was an older woman with a fatigued look. "Rent is due on the 1st, late fees start on the 5th."
I nodded. "I'll take it."
I called David while the woman prepared the paperwork and told him to come over. I signed the check as he strode in.
He eyeballed the room and the landlady before walking over and pressing a kiss to my cheek. "You're moving in here? I thought you were gonna live with me."
"I decided to get a place of my own."
He walked around the room, peering into the bedroom and ignoring the landlady as she gathered up the paperwork. "How can you afford it?"
I noticed the landlady glance down at my check out of the corner of my eye. "I've got work. It pays good."
The landlady pressed the keys into my hand and mumbled a goodbye before leaving.
David watched the door close before turning to me. "What kind of work could you be doing that pays so well?"
I shrugged. "It's... healing." I noticed his frown. "Like what I did for you after the car accident."
David froze. He stared at me, swallowing several times. "You... You are doing THAT?"
I nodded.
"No."
I winced. "What do you mean, no?" My mind raced as I tried to figure out what he was trying to say.
He walked up to me, thrusting a finger in my face. I flinched back.
"I mean, you can't do that stuff, LunaMae. It isn't right."
"What are you talking about?"
"I won't stand by and let you get into that... witchcraft! You are messing with spirits and demons, LunaMae, and I won't allow it!"
I crossed my arms over my chest. "You don't get to tell me what to do, David. That's not how this works."
He stepped back and took a long look at my face. I set my jaw, ignoring the fact that my lower lip was sticking out a little.
"If that's how you want it," he said.
"I do," I snapped back.
"Then, I guess that's it." He walked to the door. "We are done."
I dropped my arms. "What?"
David paused with his hand on the doorknob. "I didn't sign up to be with a witch. I don't want this mumbo-jumbo, woo-woo bullshit in my life."
My hands curled into fists. "That 'woo-woo bullshit' SAVED your life!"
He shrugged. "I won't put up with it. If you want to stay with me, you give up this demonic, voodoo witchcraft."
He watched me for a long moment. I realized he was waiting for me to cave in to his demands. I just couldn't do it. This was my chance to be free from being dependent on him, on my mother.
I lifted my chin.
His lip curled in a snarl and he slammed out of the apartment. I heaved a sigh.