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In this light-hearted mystery series, a widowed fifty-something catsitter and her divorced thirty-something daughter solve mysteries in and around paranormal Wyrdwood, Oregon.
Genre: paranormal western (shifters)
They called it the “wild” west for a reason. For a young bobcat shifter, the hardest part was fitting in and staking a claim on her territory.
Where You Can Find It
- at the Storyteller’s Vault (DriveThruFiction)
It’s been a while since I had the opportunity to write in the White Wolf universe. When the developer, Bill Bodden, asked me if I’d like to submit something, I jumped at the chance. Reconnecting with the World of Darkness took me back to a time when I was just beginning my writing career. It was like going home. Warm and fuzzy, and toothsome. I hope you enjoy my story.
As I write this, Mr. McGraw—your sire—is lying dead on the road, at the mercy of wolves. The outlaws who invaded our home will be far downstream by the time the river thaws. After today, I will no longer be Mother. You must commit this to memory and then burn it. It is for you alone. It is your birthright to know me and to know how this land came to be yours, but if these words fall into the wrong hands, your enemies could use it against you in the cruelest of ways.
I was both your mother and your father, and no other person matters. Nevertheless, I will tell you about the man who delivered you into my belly so that you might understand the sacrifices it takes to survive in this decaying world. Myrtle was my twenty-seventh name, given me by a madam in Boston who said, “Never use your real name when whorin’. It’ll taint your soul.” She chose it for me because of the plant’s association with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and if that ain’t a laugh, I don’t know what is.
No one living but me, the First Mother, and now you, know my birth name—Deòiridh. It means “pilgrim.”
I was Myrtle when I met Mr. McGraw in the saloon in Florence. I’d come to Idaho to get away from the War of the Rebellion. It was the autumn of 1861, and word had spread about gold in the hills. The men there prospected, and the women took advantage of the men’s needs. Everyone was making a profit in those early days.
For me, their money didn’t satisfy. I saw the signs. The Cahlash was seducing them with gold, enticing them to spread their disease into the wild west. It wouldn’t last. Anything that shines that bright never does.
That first Winter was the hardest. Cold as a Chaya. It snowed for over a hundred days straight. Many men refused to take shelter—sure they would miss their chance at striking gold. Instead they lost feet, hands, noses, and ears to frostbite, lost their sight to snow-blindness, and lost their lives to the cold. Food ran short. Many survived on flour paste and spruce tea.
Occasionally, I hunted in bobcat form and provided extra meat for the women in the saloon, but I had to be careful. They couldn’t know I’d tracked and killed the prey myself, so I made up stories about the men I’d favored to get it. The saloon was a regular target for robbers who thought they deserved food more than womenfolk. We learned how to hide our stores in the snowbanks and cover our tracks.
Mr. McGraw became a regular in my bed. He thought my brown skin and female body gave him rights over me, and I let him think it. My subservience made him all the more eager to have me. I took his beatings without complaint and did everything for him that a good wife would—for a fee.
Where You Can Find It
- on Kindle
- Fear of the Dark, anthology published by HorrorBound Magazine publications, edited by Maria Grazia Cavicchioli and Jason Rolfe, 2011. (paperback CAD$15; ebook CAD$5)
This little story started as an attempt to write horror from the viewpoint of a child. I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t maintain a pure PoV for Jeanie, a seven-year-old girl, but I did the best I could, peppering the telling with the world as she would see it. Because it was so challenging for me to write from a child’s PoV, I tried changing media and wrote “Crack-o-Doom” as a comic script. Ultimately, it was the short story that got accepted for publication first.
Jeanie is about to have the worst night of her life, and it begins with two loud cracks of thunder that frighten her. She can’t get away from the storm, try as she might. Everyone is looking for her, calling after her, but Jeanie doesn’t know whom to trust, so she runs into the woods with lightning striking all around her.
What Jeanie doesn’t understand is that this storm has been brewing since before she was born, and its fury is tied to her very soul. All it takes is one bolt of lightning to change everything.
The sky grew ominous and cast a gloom on the farm. Jeanie’s mom had told her not to leave the yard. “There’s a storm comin’, kiddo. Stick close.” The smells of imminent rain and eager pine mingled. The leaves on the oak trees turned up, thirsty and ready.
“Storm comin’,” seven-year-old Jeanie told the dogs through the tall fence. She entered their pen, careful to close the gate behind her. Daddy’s labradors, Sissy and Sassy, were excited. Their tails wagged their thick bodies, and their chocolate snouts snuffled her all over.
The dogs had run down any grass that might have once grown there. They’d dug around, looking for moles and buried bones. Mangy-furred tennis balls lay strewn amidst chew-toys missing appendages and ears, and there was an old red kickball in the corner, half-deflated.
Jeanie set her doll, Dolly, to one side and got down on her hands and knees at the entrance to the doghouse. She pulled out the two woolen blankets, bringing a flow of dirt and dog-hair with them. She stood and shook out the first one. It tossed up a cloud of fur and dust, and the wind blew it at her. She turned her face away—eyes, nose, and mouth scrunched together.
She folded the blankets in uneven squares and put them back inside the doghouse, pressing their edges into the corners and smoothing them as flat as they’d go.
The first big blast sounded. Boom!
Jeanie froze in place, and her heartbeat accelerated. “Crack o’doom,” she said. Jeanie’s Daddy had taught her to say that whenever she heard thunder. He had said it would keep her safe.
One of the things I love to do is help other passionate writers succeed. Recently, I was given the opportunity to share some of my own hard-earned knowledge on the topic of “How to Start Your Novel” or other storytelling project.
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, if you’re struggling to get started on your own Great American Novel, or if you want a boost to give any storytelling project a strong foundation on which to build, take a look at the How to start your novel: 5 critical questions you must answer first article!
There is a video version coming to the same page soon, if it’s not already there!
A note on Milanote: this app has completely changed (read: improved) how I brainstorm and organize my writing projects. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I put everything in it because it’s visual (as am I), easy to use, and it doesn’t hinder my creativity in any way. Check out the “App for Creative Writing” page if you’re a writer, game designer, or RPG storyteller. You will be floored by the power suddenly at your fingertips–as I was. I now use it for ALL my creative projects. It’s my second brain.
Virginia, 1872. The night before her wedding, Amelia sees a horrific spirit at the groom’s mansion. The next day, she becomes Mrs. Orton Poole, wife of a much older man so she can save herself and her sister from poverty. When the ghost continues to plague her, she must find out what it wants before her life is ruined.