Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review of Fluffy Bunny... Again!

The reviews for Fluffy Bunny are coming in! I'm so glad so many of you like it!

Don't forget to grab Fluffy Bunny while it's still on pre-order. Use code: PREORDER2017 to get an extra 10% off!

Amazing book. Loved it. Well written. Great author. I do reccomed it. I arc tis book and I'm happy i did. It's amazing picked up right where book one left off. Amazing series. - Goodreads reviewer

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Chains That Bind Excerpt - Intro Scene

This excerpt is from The Chains That Bind, book 3 of the Runespells series. You can order Fluffy Bunny, book 2, published in 2017, and Too Wyrd, book 1, published in 2016. Both books are published by Black Rose Writing.

"I still can't believe I let you talk me into this."

Joseph glanced over at me from the driver's seat. "You needed a break," he said. "The online business, two kids, your mother. And you never really got a chance to recover from that crap last year."

I shrugged. "It all worked out."

Joseph snorted. "You need a vacay, so that's what you are getting."

"Yeah, but hiking?" I smirked. "I like nature and all, but I also like room service, massages and central air."

"The Appalacian Trail is one of the greatest nature excursions in the world. A few days hiking through Maine to Vermont will give us the opportunity to camp in the most gorgeous forests on the planet."

The grin froze on my face. "Wait. Camping? You didn't say anything about camping. At night. Outside."

Cold, numbness began to creep along my cheeks and I struggled to keep my breathing even.

Joseph patted my hand, his eyes on the road. "It's August. Even this far north it only gets down to the upper 50s." He shot a glance at my face. "We won't freeze to death."

And just like that the world ended.

Featureless faces swam in my vision, covering Joseph's concerned expression as the Hands held me under the water. My breath came in gasps and ice flooded my veins like waves in the arctic. My legs, back and arms tensed, every muscle clenching.

I felt a sharp pain in my toes, toes that were no longer there. I reached for the lava-rage deep inside, but the cold was too strong. Tears leaked from my eyes and my head felt full and empty at the same time, making me dizzy. My stomach heaved weakly and I struggled not to vomit, thrash, scream, run...


Strong hands grasped my shoulders, shaking me gently. My head began to clear. I clutched at Joseph's arms and let him pull me into a firm hug, the pressure doing something to my autonomic nervous system that shorted out the panic response. At least a little bit.

My new therapist said I had PTSD, and I was being triggered. I'd heard of triggers before, and I'd been half sympathetic, half-frustrated by many of them. I'd had no idea.

It was literally as simple as Joseph saying "freeze to death", and the world was no longer safe, fun, exciting, or even just comfortable. It was the terror. It was the panic. It was the helplessness and the need for adreniline-giving rage that just wouldn't come.

As the tension broke, I bawled in Joseph's arms.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fluffy Bunny Excerpt - The Meditation Scene

This excerpt is from Fluffy Bunny, book 2 of the Runespells series. Too Wyrd, book 1, was published in 2016. Both books are published by Black Rose Writing.

I stood in a lush forest. Each tree represented an event in my own life, and the verdant life around me showed how full my experience had been. Each tree towered above, but I also knew that the roots stretched far below the earth beneath my feet. I stepped into a tiny clearing among the trees.

The green grass grew thickly except for a section at the center of the clearing. I moved my feet to the edge of the grass, where the green blades gave way to packed brown earth. The bare ground surrounded a gaping hole nearly four feet across. It was so deep that nothing within it was illuminated by the dim forest light.

I stared down at the hole. It was my subconscious mind down there in the darkness. Everything that I didn't let myself know about myself was down there. All the suppressed feelings, dark desires, hidden agendas, and unnamed sins were crawling in those shadows.

I'd stood at the edge of this hole before, several times. It didn't matter. It was familiar, but there was no confidence or comfort in the familiarity. No matter how often I looked into my heart and soul, I found new pain and more secrets to face down.

It was my own mind, but I could never defeat the monsters down there.

I took a deep breath and stepped to the edge of the hole. I straightened my shoulders and clenched my jaw. And I jumped, feet first, into the darkness.

I fell into the pitch black darkness.

At first, it was a little jarring, like a jolt of nausea shooting through my gut. But then, I just kept falling.

I could feel the air moving around me as I fell. I knew I was moving quickly. If I had reached out, I would have scraped my hand on the walls of the hole I was falling so quickly through.

After a few minutes, I was bored with falling, and yet I was still falling, like Alice into Wonderland. Except no horrific re-imagining of that place could compare to what I knew was waiting for me. Or what I suspected, at least.

I felt the air change as the tunnel gave way to an enormous cavern, and I knew the falling would stop soon. I landed in a heap on the rock, falling sideways when the uneven crust undermined my balance. I felt the rough surface of the rock scrape on my skin.

I was naked. There were no clothes to hide or protect my body in my own mind, after all.

I stood up carefully, getting my bare feet stabilized on the gravelled surface. I took a few breaths to orient myself in the empty space of the cavern.

I held out my left hand and willed energy into it. A small sphere of cold, blue light appeared, showing me a tiny area of huge rocky mounds set at different heights in the floor of the cavern.
I remembered this, and I nodded. This is how it had to be, then. I began climbing across the stone-studded floor, sliding down to lower rocks, clawing my way up the higher ones. The blue light stayed close to my left shoulder, freeing my hands.

I panted as the unusual exercise went on and on. I paused on one high rock and pushed the blue light up as high as I could, trying to see farther. But the glow only showed the next rock over.
I sighed and kept moving.

Rock after endless rock scraped my hands and knees, grating my shins. My throat was dry and my hair stuck up all over from the wind of my fall and the exertion of my climbing. I leaned for a moment against the latest rock after sliding down it.

I was tired. I didn’t want this.

Mercy’s words rang out in my mind: The first time you are tested in your conviction to that honesty to yourself, and you just lay on your bed.

I frowned and heaved myself up the next steep rock. “Fuck ‘em all,” I snarled.

A sound roared out in the darkness. I gasped and lost my grip, falling off the rock I was trying to climb. My right foot struck the stone, banging the toes that were missing in the physical realm. I bit down on my tongue to suppress a cry of pain. A second roar rang through the cave.

I backed up until I was pressed against a stone that rose up just higher than my head. I stared into the darkness. I felt more than heard a movement to my left, and I turned toward it. A scattering of gravel to my right jerked my attention that way.

I heard growling and snarling on the rock behind me and the fear crept down my legs, turning them to jelly. I fell to my knees and pressed against the rock, holding the light high, desperately trying to see... anything.

As I got used to the constant roaring and snarling, I could hear a voice underneath the bestial sounds. I strained to understand the words, but my attention faltered each time I detected movement in the blackness around me.

I struggled to focus, pulling away from the panic of my fear reactions. I tried to simply acknowledge and accept each movement, each growl, rather than making the effort to know what caused it.

This was a common theme in my Dark Night meditations. I wanted to know. Know what made the noise, know where the creature was, know how it moved, and on and on. But everything here was me. And my fears of the creature were my fears of what I wasn't facing.

It wasn't knowledge that I was lacking. It was acceptance.

So, I tried to accept what was happening. I focused on my breath, breathing through each scattering of gravel, each scrape of claws on stone. I breathed through the flicker of movement to my right, the movement of air behind me. I stopped jumping at every sound and detected motion. I just breathed.

As I relaxed into the fear, accepting the fear without panicking, I heard the voice more clearly. It sounded young, though I knew that the sound itself was only an illusion.

What I was hearing was simply my mind's way of understanding the message. Even though I could hear words, I knew it was just my interpretation of the feelings of accusation that the voice was really projecting.

“Bad, bad, bad, bad,” it chanted.

I allowed my thoughts to stretch out, reaching towards the voice. I didn't put words into the thought. I spoke to myself in symbols, feelings, and only sometimes words, and I was dealing with deep, hidden parts of my mind. So I didn't ask a question when I responded, I just sent out the feeling of a question.

“I am bad,” the voice said. “You are bad. We are bad."

I sent the feeling of “what” to the voice.

“Nooooooooooooo!” the voice cried, denial slapping at me.

A scaled face lunged at mine, snapping jaws just inches from my nose.

The voice snarled at me. “You did this! I did this! We did this!”

I doubled over as feelings of anger and guilt mixed with flashes of memory. I felt the tears falling down my cheeks. The voice was talking about what Zaro had done.

What I had let him do.

I looked up as the voice rose in a keening wail. Every sorrow I'd ever experienced was in that sound and I wept harder, sobbing loudly.

“We allowed this! To us. To them!” the voice cried out in anguish.

I nodded. By not stopping Zaro, I had let him continue using the women in the Center. Not just me.
No. Not using. Abusing.

“You don't know you saved her,” the voice bit out, accusingly. Remorse and understanding of my own wretchedness pulled me down, and I saw a face flash through my mind.

I gasped. Lupé.

I'd never thought to ask if my intervention had prevented Zaro from taking her, too. Even though he'd told me it wouldn't.

“I failed! You failed! We failed!”

Despair and hopelessness filled me. The voice howled in pain, and I could hear the creature thrashing itself on the rocks beyond my light. I felt each blow in my mind, like a memory of being beaten.

“You let him!” the voice wailed. “I let him! We let him!”

I lifted my head and let my voice join the keening cry. Feeling the self-hate and shame run through me. I howled out my worthlessness and tore at my own flesh and hair with my fingers.

The anguished cries ripped my voice apart, and I finally collapsed, weeping with hoarse moans.
The light faded out as my will crumbled.

I heard the creature approach, slithering across the rocks. I struggled to control my breathing. I knew what I had to do, but that didn't make it any easier to do it.

Gravel scattered as I scrambled to my feet, stepping on sharp stones in the darkness. I sniffed and tried to stand up straight, but the mourning had left my muscles liquid and unstable.

I closed my eyes and focused on the sound of the creature moving, closer, closer. It felt like it took forever to come within reach, and I held myself still to be sure I wouldn't startle it away.

Finally, I could feel the mood shift in the cavern, just a subtle change in the emotional pressure. It was time.

I opened my eyes and called up the light once more. Standing before me was a horrible-looking creature, slimy and scaly, dripping with tangles of long hair. Spikes stood out along its body in asymmetrical, random places, interspersed with gaping sores that oozed bright yellow-green pus streaked with red blood.

The creature's mouth was skewed to one side, so it looked like a clay model that had fallen on the floor and not been fixed. Teeth of all shapes and sizes jutted out of its jaw at odd angles. Its stubby tail had skin torn off in patches along its length.

One deep red eye sat on top of its head, like the eye of a frog, but with the odd rectangular pupil of a goat. The other eye was pale orange and sat low, to one side of the nose, and seemed to have no pupil at all.

It wheezed every breath with a mucousy rattle, and an odor of rotting
meat and diseased shit surrounded it, wafting towards me with every micro-gust in the air.

I gulped down the bile that rose at the sight of the creature. It was everything horrible and disgusting in the world. I felt repelled by it at every level of my being. I stared at the creature, willing myself to do what I had to do. There was only one way to be rid of it.

I stepped forward.

The creature flinched and snarled, tensing up as if to spring. I hesitated, letting it get used to my new position. It slowly relaxed, and I stepped forward again.

This time, it didn't flinch as much. It watched me with its mismatched eyes and relaxed from its half-crouch. The next step forward, it barely moved, though its eyes flickered from my face to my hands to my feet and back.

I held my hands out, palms forward, slightly away from my body, showing it that I had no weapons. The next step, there was no flinch at all. Instead, the creature made a low moaning noise that sounded like the first part of the sound of vomiting.

I forced myself not to cringe at my visceral reaction to the creature's whine. I held the gaze of its sickly orange eye, willing it to stay calm, and stepped forward again.

I was now inches away from the creature. If either of us moved, we would brush against the other. I tried not to think of the pus and slime coating the matted hair, scales and open sores that covered its body, so close to my bare skin.

I spread my arms wide, and the creature tensed. Before it could react, I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around it.

It struggled to get away, thrashing in my arms. It snarled and snapped at my face. Despite its greater size, I was stronger, and I held on tight.

The creature whined its vomit-like sound and I could feel the wetness of pus and slime smearing across my body, dripping down my legs and off my arms. It panted, wheezing and hacking mucus in my face.

The battle seemed to take hours. Slowly, it weakened, its struggles becoming less intense. I laid my head against its body and began singing a soothing, wordless tune.

I felt the body in my embrace shrink in on itself. My hands met behind its back and I cradled the creature, rocking it in my arms.

I was covered in the pus and goo and every breath was a struggle not to gag on the smell. But I sang to the creature, and I pushed love energy through my arms towards it. And I cuddled it as it shrank down.

I lost track of time, and it seemed sudden when the change happened. In a blink, I was no longer rocking the shrunken body of a filthy beast. Instead, my arms held a little girl of about three or four years old.

She was naked, like me, and her body was covered in gashes and deep purple and yellow bruises. Scars crisscrossed her skin and her dark hair was tangled and matted. Her voice croaked with sobs as she cried out her pain in my arms. I rocked her and sang to her, patting her back gently and stroking her hair, sending love from my heart to hers.

Eventually, her crying stopped and she slowly sat up. I smiled at her and wiped the tears from her cheeks. I pushed at my will to soothe the bruises and cuts from her face.

I waved my arm and there was a shallow hot spring, glowing with a golden healing light. I led her to it and picked up the soft cloths at the side of the pool. I eased us both into the water and bathed her, gently, carefully, soothing away her wounds with the magic of love in my heart and my will.

When we were cleaned of all the remnants of the creature she had been, I sat her in front of me and combed out her hair, singing a song that we remembered from another life.

Clean, combed and dry, I wrapped her in a warm blanket and held her close. Then I began to speak, with words and with the language of emotions and memories.

“I'm sorry,” I said, softly. “I failed you. I failed Ella and Maria. I failed Lupé, and so many others.
“I'm so sorry, but I am also not the only one who failed. I am not the only one who harmed others. I will take responsibility for my failings. I will make reparations to the best of my ability. But I will not take on the burden of other people's guilt. I will not take responsibility for other people's actions.”

I squeezed the girl who was both my own inner child and the embodiment of my faults and weaknesses, abused by the hurts that had been visited on me and the hurts I had visited on others, and I loved her without judgment. I held her and accepted what had been done.

As the child fell asleep, I took a deep breath. Accepting what had been done didn't mean forgiving or forgetting. It didn't mean pretending it had never happened, or walking away without demanding restitution. It didn't mean I wouldn't make Zaro pay for what he'd done.