Chuck Wendig’s Nanowrimo Challenge

Chuck Wendig challenged readers to post a thousand words from their current Nanowrimo project. This piece is, needless to say, pretty rough, but here it goes:

For Bear Naked readers, this snippet from book four is the packs arrival at the big council of werewolves. It introduces an important side character for this book and the rest of the series.

 

Amanda groaned as she climbed out of the car she’d shared for the last nearly ten hours with the other alpha females, Karen Leidulf and Darlene Sage. They’d been driven by Soldier, one of Arthur’s wolves and it was supposed to have been an honor, being part of the alpha group. Amanda would have much rather ridden with Connor or even better, with her pack.

They’d left early, before the sun had risen. It was now mid afternoon and it would be late afternoon before they could hike to their camp site and set camp. The thought of the long day she’d pass, and the long day yet to come soured Amanda’s mood even more.

Their hike-in point was an abandoned farm in on the edge of Hercule-Glades wilderness area. They were met by a man in torn jeans and a muscle shirt, who waved them behind a decrepit barn. They found several other vehicles already parked there, out of sight of the road. From here they would hike several miles in, to a site that the human authorities knew nothing about.

Robbie had parked the van with the omegas and the younger pack beside them, Arthur pulled in on the far side. Vince, Mitch and the one remaining of Arthur’s wolf, a woman named Sarah, had ridden motorcycles and pulled in on the far side of the van.

Erica rushed to hug Amanda, even they’d only been separated a few hours. Tanner and Robbie were opening the back of the van to start unloading their camp gear. The rest of the three packs were slowly gathering around them, stretching sore muscles, and talking amongst themselves.

Other vehicles were pulling in and there were signs of activity all around them. “Chose a popular time to arrive,” Karen commented.

A man came to greet them. He took a big sniff as he approached. “Leidulf contingent.” He sniffed again, his eyebrow furled. “And?”

“Amanda,” Amanda said, her mood souring more at the reminder of her scent. “Burnson.”

“Bear clan,” he said with a nod. His eyes traveled up and down her body, appraising her with a calculating stare. She met the stare and he looked away. “Thought they’d be bigger,” he muttered to himself.

Tanner scoffed at him. “Ain’t seen her in bear form.”

Valerie moved forward to break off the conflict. She introduced herself and accepted a map of the route into the woods. “How will our campsite be marked?” she asked.

The man just shrugged. “Just set up where you like. Best get a move on, though. Best sites be taken.”

“No organization?” Valerie huffed at the man’s retreating back. The rest were pulling bags from trunks or from the back of the van.

“Gives the early arrivals, their allies, the advantage of picking the best sites,” Tanner opined.

“No,” Arthur said. “It’s typical Fleischer thinking at work. Be a few challenges for choice sites, no doubt. People will choose sites near friendly tribes. By days end the pecking order around camp, and the alliances will be obvious. What is that?” His nose wrinkled as Erica and Jonathan hoisted a mass of canvas out of the back of the van.

“Darren’s pavilion,” Amanda replied. “Always said, if you are camping in the same place more than five days, use the pavilion.”

“And if not?” Valerie asked.

“It’s so much work to set up. Tents are easy. But pavilions are better.”

Arthur made a face, like he was about to disagree. “It reeks of bear clan.”

“Let them know where our loyalties lie,” Connor replied. “And if it makes the Sons of Garm uncomfortable, all the better.”

Amanda had packed a small cart as well. She pulled it out and directed Erica and Jonathan to lay the canvas on top. “The poles strap to the side. We can pile most of the packs on top. Take a couple people to haul it all, but it will be easier than each having to haul a huge backpack.” She gave Arthur a shaded glance as she said it, as if to let him know that he wasn’t the only one with expertise in their group.

Before long they were loaded and ready to go. They consulted their map and started down a trail into the woods.

On the very edge of the farm they encounter a small group of people, mostly Fleischer wolves from the odor, though it was hard to tell for sure. The parking area was awash in many scents as various packs arrived and debarked.

A slender man with long blond hair and deep blue eyes stood uncertainly beside a tree, one hand resting on its trunk. He regarded the semi circle of people surrounding him with a look of bitter resignation.

The man directly in front of him had scruffy dark hair and dark eyes. He had a Canada crutch in one hand and was pointing it at the blond man. “Gonna crawl all the way in, huh?” he demanded.

Amanda’s eyes narrowed and her blood pressure rose. She looked at the blond again. His stance wasn’t uncertain, merely off and he used the tree to hold himself upright.

“If you don’t give me my crutch,” the man said. “I suppose I shall have to.”

The group laughed.

“A crippled werewolf,” the man snorted derisively. “Do you know what we do with cripples in our tribe?”

“Do tell,” the man’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “I’m sure it’s quite fascinating.”

The dark haired man licked his lips and looked around. He apparently hadn’t been prepared to have to actually explain. “Well, we don’t let them be part of our councils, that’s for sure.” He poked at the blond with the crutch.

The blond seized the opportunity to grab for the crutch. “Your a real genius, Marty,” he sneered as the two men fought over the crutch.

Marty yanked, pulling the blond forward onto the ground and retrieving the crutch. “Fuck you, Haltir.”

“Marty,” a woman offered hesitantly. “Maybe you should just give it back or…”

“Or what? He’ll tell on me?”

“Or maybe you could just leave him alone, you know, because it’s the right thing to do,” Amanda growled, striding forward.

Marty roared in laughter. “Yeah, right. Who says, princess? You look like a feisty one. I like that.” He reached for one of her breasts.

She knocked his hand aside and shoved him with all her strength. It sent him several feet through the air and into a ragged heap.

Everyone stepped back in surprise. Connor laughed, coming to Amanda’s side. “She’s a strong one, too, my alpha. Best not to forget that.” He retrieved the crutch and handed it to Haltir. He rose slowly, balanced on the crutch.

“We are heading in now, if you wish to join us,” Amanda said.

Haltir gave her a sharp, guarded look. Humiliated at being saved by a woman? Angry? Or what? “I’m slow but quite capable,” he replied, his voice tight. He turned and started towards the path.

“Haltir,” she said, moving towards the man again. “It’s an unusual name.” The name tickled the back of her mind, but she couldn’t place it.

“It’s old norse,” he replied.

She recognized the word from Uncle Darren. “It means…” the words died in her throat. He turned and met her gaze, his blues eyes piercing. It meant broken.

“I know what it means.” He looked at his aggressors, who were slowly pulling Marty back to his feet, shaken but not seriously hurt. “In my tribe cripples are left to die at birth,” he said. “Father would have, too, but mom forbade it. Said she took one look into my eyes and couldn’t bear the thought.” He looked back at Amanda. “But dad got his revenge in the naming.” He turned and started resolutely towards the path again.

“Your tribe?” Tanner called at his retreating back.

“Garm,” he replied without looking back. A shiver went through Amanda.

Trivia Time: The Forgotten Crusades

When you think of the crusades, what comes to mind? European knights rushing to defend or conquer the Middle East most likely, Jerusalem, pilgrimages, deserts, etc.

What if I told you that not all the crusades went to the Middle East? There was not one, but three crusades in, of all places, Finland. They are mostly forgotten, a tiny footnote in history.

Who were these crusaders and how did they end up in Finland?

In the Twelfth and Thirteenth Century, southern Europe was increasingly a patchwork of kingdoms and nation states. But in Scandinavia there was still a huge stretch of land in the far north, and between the Kingdom of Sweden and Novgorod (present day Russia) that was no man’s land, a wild place of Sami reindeer herders and loggers.

Lapper og Reinsdyr

Image source: Wikicommons

Author

Eric the IX of Sweden wanted that land. So he got his bishop to petition the pope for the right to crusade to, ahem, “Christianize” those lands. I use quotes because despite the explicit purpose of the crusades, the Sami people wouldn’t be Christianized until the 18th century (some are not Christian to this day) and the Finnish Epic poem, the Kalevala records pagan mythos still being told in Finland in the 19th century. The first Swedish crusade was in 1150 and there were two more, in 1248 and 1293. The third crusade blended into the Swedish-Novgorod wars, which became a political struggle rather religious one.

Solid historical information about the Swedish crusades is sketchy. Archaeological evidence is completely lacking for the first crusade and researchers aren’t sure where exactly the second crusaders ended up, Hame castle or Haikonen.

Legends of the Finnish and Sami people record the crusades in their land as being a precursor to western colonization elsewhere in the world. It was a time of oppression, genocides and hardship for those colonized. Despite being a progressive country in so many other ways, the Sami people still struggle with the Swedish government to this day, over autonomy and land rights.

Yoik and a very Cryptic Clue about Bear Naked Four

What is Yoik?

Yoik is Sami singing. Though maybe it’s easier to show than tell.

The Sami are an indigenous people from Northern Europe. The more familiar term Lapp, or Laplander is actually offensive. Lapp is Swedish for patch, a reference to the patched clothing of the poorer northern people. They are most commonly known for being the reindeer herders of the far north.

The Sami people have a long rich history and culture of their own. Their traditional homeland spans Norway, Sweden, Finland and parts of Russia. Some of these countries treat the Sami well, in other places they still struggle for their rights, particularly to maintain their traditional herding, hunting and fishing grounds.

Singing and drumming are vital parts of the Sami’s heritage and in recent years there has been a movement to revitalize the ancient tradition of yoik.

I’ve posted my soundtrack for previous Bear Naked books. As I start in on Bear Naked Four, yoik has joined the playlist, including Sofia Jannock’s White.

What does Sami singing have to do with the plot of Bear Naked? Remember from Bear Naked 2, Jay has agreed to train as a Noaidi, a pathfinder, which is a kind of Sami shaman or medicine man with Corey’s uncle. So while the wolves have their big council to deal with, Jay’s got a subplot of his own in this installment.

For now I will leave you with another example of yoik:

Sometimes it’s the Little Things, and That’s Okay.

When I am trying to stay motivated on a big project, I will start tracking little things. The little things are mile markers on the journey to big things. When writing I look at word counts, scenes written, plot points passed to see how far along I really am. When marketing I celebrate small victories, like a new review, a solitary sale or even pageviews on a blog.

We all know the glib aphorism, don’t sweat the small stuff. But you know what? I want to sweat the small stuff. The small stuff keeps me engaged when the big stuff looks overwhelming. One could almost say, just sweat the small stuff, and let the big stuff take care of itself.

It’s November first and Nanowrimo begins today. I am going to my regions kick off party in another hour or so, and I will begin my novel then. In the meantime I am working on my profile and doing some last minute prep work.

I have a bunch of badges on my profile page. I’ve got all of my participation badges. Yeah, it was so worth the donation to get that final one. Go donate to Nanowrimo right now and you’ll see.

I intend to earn those writing badges, too. Right now I am yearning for the Participation Pep badge. That’s why I am writing this blog. When I am done I will post it on my website and cross post in the forums and get that badge.

Why?

Because that’s how I motivate myself to write. You can, too. Is this your first Nano? Have you failed in the past? Don’t worry, you can do this. Just take one step at a time. Find some small marker, five hundred words written, a thousand words, one scene, whatever works for you. And then do it. Celebrate. Repeat. And repeat.

If your family thinks it’s silly to take a dance break, or have a cookie, every time you write five hundred words, or meet your daily goal, screw them. They don’t get a cookie. You do. Because no matter how silly the goal, or the reward, it works for you and that’s all that matters. So embrace the little things and let the big job take care of itself.

 

p.s. I’ve even made a goofy working cover, just for my nanowrimo page.

Nano2015cover

Endings, Beginnings, and the Middle of a Big Project.

I finished another rough draft this week. It’s the third in my apocalypse series. You can check out Home for the Holidays here. Zoey and the Zombies is nearly through self edits. A Fishy End is now resting, I will come back in a month or two and re-read it. My plan is to take all three manuscripts and submit them to my editor over the winter sometime and publish them next year. I’m excited about getting this series out.

Home for the holidays web

My next project, the one I am doing for Nanowrimo is Bear Naked Four: the Wolf Council. I have been trying to focus on series, in particular having most of a series done before I try to publish and promote them. In that vein, writing the rough draft to Bear Naked Four means I should go on to write five and six immediately after, wrapping up the entire story arc.

I say should because I wrote a while ago about Big Project Blues. Book four of a six book series, now that’s big project blues. Novels have become old hat to me now. But this series is stretching out of my comfort zone. Hopefully writing book four will bring me back some of the passion of the series, I really love the characters and I love where the story is going. It’s just getting it there.

I can’t complain, though. I love writing. It’s what keeps me going when the rest of life gets hard.

In the meantime I am expecting to get back the second episode of my Sci-fi serial, The Girl in the Tank today and start working on prepping it for publication. Episode two: A Shaky Start should be available at the start of the month, on multiple platforms.

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October Prep-Mo and Good News for Bear Naked Fans

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

November is Nanowrimo, National Novel Writer’s Month. I am intending to participate again. As more and more writers join the Nanowrimo fun, October has become prep-mo, a period of prepping your Nano project and getting ready to write. What that means depends on the writer. Some do extensive planning, others sketch some notes and are ready to go.

I’ve been trying to decide what to do. I have my third apocalypse novel and it should be finished before the month is out. I have been debating what to do next.

There is one novel that is mostly planned but unwritten, Bear Naked 4: The Wolf Council. With renewed interest in the series now that Bear Naked 3 is out, it’s time to write book four.

The Hunted

Book four covers a relatively short period of time, the council between the werewolf tribes. However there is a lot of action in that short period. I am probably going to end up giving almost every character some POV time. It should be an interesting challenge to write and I am looking forward to starting it.

In the meanwhile you can get the first three in print from the Wordverve or in ebook from Amazon. Check the series out.

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If you can’t Write Fast, Fake it

I was given this advice, almost word for word, from a fellow writer recently. And surprisingly, it reverberated with me.

Indie writers often advise writing fast and publishing a lot. There are lots of good reasons to do this, if you are able. Publishing regularly keeps your name fresh in reader’s minds. Having lots of published works out allows readers to enjoy one story and then immediately move on to others. Writing fast makes it possible to write a lot, and writing a lot helps you get better at writing. If nothing else, publishing a lot of work means that even if you only have modest commercial success, if you multiply that by many books you can still make a decent income.

Writing fast gets a bad rap because it’s too often associated with writers publishing poorly edited manuscripts or cutting novels into pieces make serials. Those things that do happen, but there are many great writers who put out books regularly without sacrificing quality.

Not everyone can do it, however. Some of us naturally write fast but others do not. For those who do, what can they do?

The answer is to fake it. How do you do that? This writer suggested writing at least three books before even considering publication. Then either publish all three at once or space them out a month apart or so. That way you get the same advantages, bigger buzz and multiple books on the market, without having to write a book a month.

I write fast. But I also tend to write scattered. I have several books in progress at any one time. I have several series up in the air right now. The third Bear Naked book will be out very soon. There are three more in the story arc that aren’t written.

Meanwhile I have the next Gilded Empire book almost done. It’s the beginning of a trilogy. I have the Galactic Consortium serial running on Wattpad and the first Mondamin apocalypse novel on that site.

The Bear Naked hasn’t performed as well as I expected. Part of it, I think, is that readers don’t like to start series that aren’t complete, or at least well under way. There is always a concern that the author will abandon the series uncompleted. We have been conditioned by the availability of so many series that it’s hard to get traction with one book. Hopefully, The Hunted will give the Bear Naked series that kind of traction.

In the meantime I am thinking of taking this advice to heart. I have temporarily tabled The Banner of Kash until I can finish at least the rough draft of books two and three. I have a second Mondamin book in editing stages and a third in planning. Once the Banner of Kash is completed I will come back to that series.

What do you think? Will you read the first book in a series if the others aren’t completed yet?

A Hunted Sneak Peek: Meet Jazzy

Bear Naked 3: The Hunted is almost here, but there’s still time to pre-order and get the first two books free!

This week’s sneak peek includes a new character.

Set up: Uncle Darren is missing in Idaho, in Skinwalker territory. Connor’s Uncle Mitch is hurt. Connor and Amanda went with Connor’s dad to get him back and see if they can figure out what’s happened. The rest of the pack defies orders from the adults to join them. They have just arrived in Blackfoot, Idaho

This chapter is from Brianna’s point of view.

 

The Hunted

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Brianna

Brianna followed Amanda out of the parking lot. It was cold, and she pulled her coat closer. She felt . . . she paused, not sure what she felt or how to describe it. Maybe there wasn’t a human word for it. Her pack was part of her, part of her in a way you couldn’t describe to someone who wasn’t part of a pack. Her alphas, Connor and Amanda, were the center of the pack. To be apart from them had left her feeling like part of herself had gone missing. Now it was back, walking next to her.

That was the good part. Getting out of the station wagon after over twenty hours on the road was another good part. She had slept fitfully, curled up on Jonathan’s shoulder, but the drive had been long and wearing.

Aaron’s reaction, that was the not so good part. What had they expected? However sound their reasoning, they had defied pack order and defied his wife, Karen. Had they really expected him to be glad to see them? Even in her mind, she shrank from his disapproving stare.

Connor kept giving them guilty glances, like he wanted to stand up to his dad on their behalf, but he couldn’t. He hadn’t been the one to defy Aaron.

Aaron secured a second motel room for them. He lectured them as he did so. They weren’t rich, and they could never afford to forget about human responsibilities. He complained that the cost of housing and feeding them would stretch the household budget.

Amanda responded by telling him that she knew how to eat cheap on the road. She would use her money, money from Darren, to get groceries. They had already eaten more from restaurants than they should have.

Brianna, wanting to get out from under Aaron’s dark mood, agreed to go along with Amanda to do the shopping. Jay and Corey followed after them. Amanda found Darren’s emergency stash of cash in the pickup and took a couple of twenties before leading them on foot to a nearby grocery store.

What about the Skinwalkers?” Connor asked from the doorway.

I told you, the elder gave me leave,” Amanda answered sharply. “See that the pack gets settled. We’ll be back.”

He gave her a long, hard look before nodding. “Take care,” he said and turned back inside.

They walked to the first main crossroad from the motel and turned right. The grocery store was a small one, about four blocks down. The wind was bracing, but none of the others seemed bothered by the cold. The sun shone bright against the white snow.

Jay began to sing softly, a folk song about the land of the midnight sun. Corey knew it too and joined in on the chorus. The song fit the weather perfectly.

As they approached the grocery store, a group of young men dashed around the edge of the store, chasing a young woman. They shouted obscenities as they went. Brianna saw Amanda stiffen and then heard her mutter, “Oh, no.”

Amanda bolted toward the men. Brianna followed hard on her heels, feeling savage and proud. You didn’t chase or threaten people around her alpha.

They had the girl cornered by a dumpster when Brianna rounded the corner. She pulled up short, staring at the girl. She had pure-white hair. It was maybe six inches long, teased out from her head like a giant puffball. She was wearing a faded demin jacket, a short skirt, and tights. Her face and arms were white, not racial white, but brilliant white. She had one hand over her eyes and the other outstretched in front of her.

Give ’em back. I need them,” she whined at the men.

There were a half dozen young men, boys really, ringing her in. They were white, dressed in winter coats and blue jeans. The leader, a burly-looking boy with a fat face, held a pair of sunglasses out. “What, these?” he said. He dropped the glasses. He waited until the girl leaned over and reached for them, then he stepped on them.

Hey!” she protested.

We’ve warned you,” one of the other boys spat out. “How many times have we warned you? If we ever caught you away from your little gang of friends, we’d teach you a real lesson. Guess what? That day has come.”

Fuck off and leave her alone,” Amanda yelled. The boys startled and turned toward her.

What did you just say?” the fat boy asked.

You heard me,” Amanda snarled. “Leave the poor girl alone.”

The boy laughed, a crude sound. “That’s not a girl. He just wants to be a girl.”

One of them,” another boy said, waving his arms and hips in a poor imitation of a woman’s walk.

Shut up,” Jay snapped. “Why you gotta be like that, huh? What’s it to you if someone’s a little different?”

Are you one too?” the boy sneered. “Or are you just a plain ole fag?”

Jay’s eyes narrowed, and he stepped nose to nose with the boy. “Go ahead. Say that again, I dare you.”

The fat boy, who appeared to the gang’s leader, spoke again. “Come on, there are six of us and three of you. Two girls and fag. Just move on. This don’t concern you anyway.”

Three? Where had Corey gotten off too? Brianna shook it off, she didn’t have time to look and she trusted Corey could take care of himself.

Amanda got right up in his face. “I can take all six of you. If you doubt it, try me. So why don’t you move along?”

Brianna’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to take in all six boys. Who should she rush to protect, Amanda or Jay? They could both hold their own, especially against humans. Then she caught one of the boys staring at her, his eyes filled with equal parts hatred and lust. I’ll go for him, she thought, make him think twice before looking at woman like that again.

Please, I don’t want any trouble,” the girl said again. Brianna shifted her weight.

I’ll go for her, get by her side, and make sure none of them come at her. She’s the one we are here to protect.

She heard the sound of running feet. Moments later, it was loud enough for the boys to hear as well. Their eyes darted passed the three in front of them. Brianna spared a single glance behind her. Jonathan was first, as always, and booking. Corey, who had ran to get them wasn’t far behind with Tanner, Erica, and Connor hard on his heels.

Fuck, fuck, fuck,” the fat boy was saying.

Is there a problem?” Connor demanded as he came to halt at Amanda’s side.

They had this poor girl cornered,” Amanda said.

That’s not a girl, it’s a boy,” one of the boys put in, obviously thinking it would turn the tide for them.

So?” Erica snapped. “We don’t hate on anyone, except bullies. You trying to bully her?”

Yeah, being transgender is hard enough, without dipshits like you getting all up in her grill,” Tanner said.

I think you should leave,” Connor said. “And in the future, I think you should leave her the fuck alone. Okay?”

The boys bolted and ran. “Cowards!” Tanner shouted at their retreating backs.

Hey, are you okay?” Erica asked, sidling up to the girl, who had her hand over her eyes.

Yeah, thanks, I’m okay. It’s just, they broke my glasses, and it’s really bright today, you know.”

Erica ducked down and glanced under the girl’s hand. “You’re albino?”

Yeah, my eyes, they don’t got pigment. Light is hard on them. I really need sunglasses, especially days like today.”

Brianna thought a moment and then dug in her coat pocket. She came out with a pair of Ray-Bans and handed them to Erica.

Here,” Erica said, holding out the glasses.

You don’t have to. Grandma’s probably got a pair at home; I just got to get there.”

It’s okay,” Erica insisted. “Take them.”

The girl took them but didn’t put them on. “I don’t have any money on me.”

It’s okay,” Brianna said. “It’s a gift.”

These are Ray-Bans; they’re expensive.”

Don’t worry,” Erica said, “I’ll buy her a new pair. I promise. You take those.”

She will,” Brianna joked, “I’ll make her.” Tanner chuckled.

I’ll . . . I’ll pay you back, somehow, I promise.”

Erica waved a hand dismissively. “You don’t need to.”

I will,” the girl insisted.

The sound of running feet snapped everyone to attention again. A group of four Native American youths came running around the corner. There were three boys and a girl. The girl and one of the boys were tall and lean, the other two were shorter, broad and stocky. Despite the cold, they wore jeans, t-shirts, and light jackets. They pulled up short, looking at them.

Is there a problem?” the tallest of the boys demanded. He glanced at the white-haired girl. “Are you okay, Jazzy? Grandma Lightfoot called.” Brianna followed his glance to a rundown house across the street. A curtain rustled, and Brianna thought she saw an old woman’s face retreating away from the window.

No, Tyee,” Jazzy said, “it wasn’t them. It was Jason and his crew. These guys chased them off.”

Tyee looked them over uncertainly. A breeze swirled between the two groups, and everyone’s eyes went wide, scent filling each nostril.

Wolves,” Tyee and Connor said together.

Leidulf,” Connor supplied.

The injured one,” Tyee said.

My uncle,” Connor confirmed. “This is my pack.”

Tyee stared at them a moment more, then nodded. “Okay.” He stood straight, relaxing. “I’m Tyee, and this my pack.” He quickly introduced the others. Connor did the same for his pack.

Thank you for protecting my omega,” Tyee said after a short pause. “Jazzy, come on. Let’s get you home. Grandma will be worried.”

Jazzy had slid the Ray-Bans over her eyes and gave them a nod. “Thanks,” she said. She tapped the glasses and looked at Erica, “I will repay you somehow. I promise.”

Why We Read Fantasy

Why is fantasy so popular? Ask a hundred fantasy readers and you’ll likely get a hundred different answers.

Years ago, Joseph Campbell tried to answer this question in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In the book he describes the hero archetype. He explains that a thousand stories of heroes are really one story and about one, the hero with a thousand faces. We connect with the story at a very deep level because we are all on our own hero’s journey.

The stories we read are the hero’s journey writ large. They face incredible odds and dangers. Their triumphs are legend.

But you and I live the same story, only writ smaller. Our day to day lives and struggles can be understood through the lens of the hero’s journey. We take our cues from those stories, they bolster our courage and help us endure the pains of life.

I’m keeping the blog post short because later today I have an appointment with an oral surgeon. He’s going to extract three teeth. Two are wisdom teeth, I’ve had other wisdom teeth out and I’m not nervous about that. But the other tooth, let’s just say the oral surgeon used some scary phrases like “might have to cut the gums” and “might need some bone grafting.” I’m pretty freaked. Luckily, I will be under for most of the work.

Oral surgery is a far cry from charging a dragon or carrying the one ring to the fires of Mordor. It won’t be the end of the world, the zombie apocalypse or armageddon.

But even so, I will recall the great fantasy stories I’ve read. I will recall the courage that Mary must have in The Mage Chronicles or Amanda in Bear Naked. I will draw strength from that, to keep myself from running screaming from the surgeon’s office today.

I will write more when I’ve recovered. Until then, keep reading fantasy.

 

A Hunted Sneak Peek

Bear Naked Three: The Hunted is up for preorders here. Here is a sneak peek at the opening scene, from Connor Leidulf’s perspective.

The Hunted

Connor rolled over in his bed and inhaled. He groaned in frustration. There was no way he was going to be able to get back to sleep, not with her scent in the air. It wasn’t fair. Amanda, his alpha mate, was in the next room. Did she toss and turn as he did? Or did she sleep?

Why couldn’t she be in here, with him? She had been staying with them for the better part of winter break, but Mom felt it was inappropriate for the two of them to share a room, since they were both still in high school and not married.

It wasn’t like they were kids. They were seniors. Connor was eighteen and Amanda would turn eighteen this spring. Adults. And they were bonded. What had happened at the end of summer had done it, somehow. They had the alpha bond. Since then, intimacy had become comfortable for Amanda, less triggering. Even though she still couldn’t control her transformation, they could be affectionate, even have sex, without her losing control.

Down the hall a phone rang, the landline. Who calls on the landline?

Maybe it was Mitch or Darren checking in. They were in Idaho somewhere. Unable to continue his winter hunting trips without his friend Carl, Darren had instead found work as a different kind of guide, taking a group of boy scouts winter camping. Mitch had volunteered to help.  The two of them had spent just over a week in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, teaching the kids camping and survival skills.

They had checked in briefly earlier today. They had brought the kids back down and saw them safely on their way home. They intended to go back to the winter camp for one last night, to clean up the site and break down their own camp in the morning and head home.

Connor heard his Dad padding down the hallway, towards the kitchen and the phone. Surely Mitch would have just called the cell?

The thought of Mitch and Darren’s return reminded Connor of his own internal complaining. It wasn’t fair. He’d been so busy with senior year, pack responsibilities and with being named ambassador for next year’s assembly of all the werewolf tribes of the Central United States, Connor hadn’t much time left over for his alpha mate. Not nearly as much as he wanted, at any rate. Then he got a whole week with her right here with him, where she belonged. But Mom didn’t want her sleeping in here.

He groaned again and climbed out of bed. He wasn’t going to sleep for again for awhile. He might as well go see what the call was about.

Don’t forget, you can pre-order the book.