Gabe just can’t stay out of trouble, even when he’s just trying to help.
It’s summer break and the young beasts are traveling across the Great Sea for a wedding extravaganza. But Gabe suspects Professor Hardaway is up to something more serious behind the festivities. Spying and sneaking around, Gabe and his friends discover there’s a village of humans across the mountains–Windy Hollow, and they might be in trouble from the strange happenings at the old castle above the Mist.
Despite the professor’s warnings, the young beasts venture over, risking more than they realize when they get caught up in the dangerous experiments of a deranged scientist who’s recruited a large, lonely beast. Gabe wonders if he’s gone too far this time, but he’s in too deep to quit. It’s do or die, hopefully not die!
The Windy Hollow cover artist is Ricky Gunawan Windy Hollow will be released soon in 2019. The exact date has not yet been set.
Here is what Tara recently said about her cover:
“I’m so enamored! enchanted! encouraged! I have to thank my wonderful, talented cover artist Ricky Gunawan–he’s a genius! Covers are vital. Even for ebooks. Covers set the mood of your book, give a glimpse of what adventures await inside, and help readers make up their minds to buy it! So for IWSG this month, I decided to share some tips for great covers…”
Tara Tyler was also just recently featured in two local high school newspapers where she lives.
The school where Tara currently teaches Badin High School — article
Mason High School where her older boys graduated, and she as a teacher has frequently sub — article
More About Tara
About the Author: Tara Tyler is a math teacher who writes to share her passion for reading with others. She loves dogs, coffee, and is the lazy housewife, living in a world of boys with three sons and a coach husband. Join her for an adventure!
Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home
Survival of the Fittest
Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands but an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival. She is joined by other homeless tribes–from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn’t want her People’s land. He wants to destroy her.
Title and author: Survival of the Fittest Series: Book 1 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga Genre: Prehistoric fiction Cover by: Damonza
Q: What one characteristic would you say allowed Xhosa to survive in a world populated with Sabertooth Cats, violent volcanoes, and predatory species who liked to eat man?
A: Really, with our thin skin, dull teeth, and tiny claws (aka fingernails), Lucy had no right to survive against the thick-skinned mammoth or tearing claws of the great cats of that time. But we did. The biggest reason: Even then, Lucy was a problem solver. She faced crises and came up with solutions. Where most animals spent their time eating and sleeping, Xhosa had time left over. This, she used to solve problems.
To me, that thoughtful approach to living, one no other animal exhibits, is why we came to rule the planet.
It’s worth noting that most paleoanthropologists think Homo erectus was fairly violent. His life was challenging and physical and he always met that world head on. Where early species of man might have survived by hiding or fleeing, Xhosa fought. And it worked. She was the longest living species ever (including our current species) of man.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Summer 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning
Her foot throbbed. Blood dripped from a deep gash in her leg. At some point, Xhosa had scraped her palms raw while sliding across gravel but didn’t remember when, nor did it matter. Arms pumping, heart thundering, she flew forward. When her breath went from pants to wheezing gasps, she lunged to a stop, hands pressed against her damp legs, waiting for her chest to stop heaving. She should rest but that was nothing but a passing thought, discarded as quickly as it arrived. Her mission was greater than exhaustion or pain or personal comfort.
She started again, sprinting as though chased, aching fingers wrapped around her spear. The bellows of the imaginary enemy—Big Heads this time—filled the air like an acrid stench. She flung her spear over her shoulder, aiming from memory. A thunk and it hit the tree, a stand-in for the enemy. With a growl, she pivoted to defend her People.
Which would never happen. Females weren’t warriors.
Feet spread, mouth set in a tight line, she launched her last spear, skewering an imaginary assailant, and was off again, feet light, her abundance of ebony hair streaming behind her like smoke. A scorpion crunched beneath her hardened foot. Something moved in the corner of her vision and she hurled a throwing stone, smiling as a hare toppled over. Nightshade called her reactions those of Leopard.
But that didn’t matter. Females didn’t become hunters either.
With a lurch, she gulped in the parched air. The lush green grass had long since given way to brittle stalks and desiccated scrub. Sun’s heat drove everything alive underground, underwater, or over the horizon. The males caught her attention across the field, each with a spear and warclub. Today’s hunt would be the last until the rain—and the herds—returned.
“Why haven’t they left?”
She kicked a rock and winced as pain shot through her foot. Head down, eyes shut against the memories. Even after all this time, the chilling screams still rang in her ears…
The People’s warriors had been away hunting when the assault occurred. Xhosa’s mother pushed her young daughter into a reed bed and stormed toward the invaders but too late to save the life of her young son. The killer, an Other, laughed at the enraged female armed only with a cutter. When she sliced his cheek open, the gash so deep his black teeth showed, his laughter became fury. He swung his club with such force her mother crumpled instantly, her head a shattered melon.
From the safety of the pond, Xhosa memorized the killer—nose hooked awkwardly from some earlier injury, eyes dark pools of cruelty. It was then, at least in spirit, she became a warrior. Nothing like this must ever happen again.
When her father, the People’s Leader, arrived that night with his warriors, he was greeted by the devastating scene of blood-soaked ground covered by mangled bodies, already chewed by scavengers. A dry-eyed Xhosa told him how marauders had massacred every subadult, female, and child they could find, including her father’s pairmate. Xhosa communicated this with the usual grunts, guttural sounds, hand signals, facial expressions, hisses, and chirps. The only vocalizations were call signs to identify the group members.
“If I knew how to fight, Father, Mother would be alive.” Her voice held no anger, just determination.
The tribe she described had arrived a Moon ago, drawn by the area’s rich fruit trees, large ponds, lush grazing, and bluffs with a view as far as could be traveled in a day. No other area offered such a wealth of resources. The People’s scouts had seen these Others but allowed them to forage, not knowing their goal was to destroy the People.
Her father’s body raged but his hands, when they moved, were calm. “We will avenge our losses, daughter.”
The next morning, Xhosa’s father ordered the hunters to stay behind, protect the People. He and the warriors snuck into the enemy camp before Sun awoke and slaughtered the females and children before anyone could launch a defense. The males were pinned to the ground with stakes driven through their thighs and hands. The People cut deep wounds into their bodies and left, the blood scent calling all scavengers.
When Xhosa asked if the one with the slashed cheek had died, her father motioned, “He escaped, alone. He will not survive.”
Word spread of the savagery and no one ever again attacked the People, not their camp, their warriors, or their hunters.
While peace prevailed, Xhosa grew into a powerful but odd-looking female. Her hair was too shiny, hips too round, waist too narrow beneath breasts bigger than necessary to feed babies. Her legs were slender rather than sturdy and so long, they made her taller than every male. The fact that she could outrun even the hunters while heaving her spear and hitting whatever she aimed for didn’t matter. Females weren’t required to run that fast. Nightshade, though, didn’t care about any of that. He claimed they would pairmate, as her father wished, when he became the People’s Leader.
Until then, all of her time was spent practicing the warrior skills no one would allow her to use.
One day, she confronted her father. “I can wield a warclub one-handed and throw a spear hard enough to kill. If I were male, you would make me a warrior.”
He smiled. “You are like a son to me, Daughter. I see your confidence and boldness. If I don’t teach you, I fear I will lose you.”
He looked away, the smile long gone from his lips. “Either you or Nightshade must lead when I can’t.”
Under her father’s tutelage, she and Nightshade learned the nuances of sparring, battling, chasing, defending, and assaulting with the shared goal that never would the People succumb to an enemy. Every one of Xhosa’s spear throws destroyed the one who killed her mother. Every swing of her warclub smashed his head as he had her mother’s. Never again would she stand by, impotent, while her world collapsed. She perfected the skills of knapping cutters and sharpening spears, and became expert at finding animal trace in bent twigs, crushed grass, and by listening to their subtle calls. She could walk without leaving tracks and match nature’s sounds well enough to be invisible.
A Moon ago, as Xhosa practiced her scouting, she came upon a lone warrior kneeling by a waterhole. His back was to her, skeletal and gaunt, his warclub chipped, but menace oozed from him like stench from dung. She melted into the redolent sedge grasses, feet sinking into the squishy mud, and observed.
His head hair was sprinkled with grey. A hooked nose canted precariously, poorly healed from a fracas he won but his nose lost. His curled lips revealed cracked and missing teeth. A cut on his upper arm festered with pus and maggots. Fever dimpled his forehead with sweat. He crouched to drink but no amount of water would appease that thirst.
What gave him away was the wide ragged scar left from the slash of her mother’s cutter.
Xhosa trembled with rage, fearing he would see the reeds shake, biting her lip until it bled to stop from howling. It hardly seemed fair to slay a dying male but fairness was not part of her plan today.
A check of her surroundings indicated he traveled alone. Not that it mattered. If she must trade her life for his, so be it.
But she didn’t intend to die.
The exhausted warrior splashed muddy water on his grimy head, hands slow, shoulders round with fatigue, oblivious to his impending death. After a quiet breath, she stepped from the sedge, spear in one hand and a large rock in the other. Exposed, arms ready but hanging, she approached. If he turned, he would see her. She tested for dry twigs and brittle grass before committing each foot. It surprised her he ignored the silence of the insects. His wounds must distract him. By the time hair raised on his neck, it was too late. He pivoted as she swung, powered by fury over her mother’s death, her father’s agony, and her own loss. Her warclub smashed into his temple with a soggy thud. Recognition flared moments before life left.
“You die too quickly!” she screamed and hit him over and over, collapsing his skull and spewing gore over her body. “I wanted you to suffer as I did!”
Her body was numb as she kicked him into the pond, feeling not joy for his death, relief that her mother was avenged, or upset at the execution of an unarmed Other. She cleaned the gore from her warclub and left. No one would know she had been blooded but the truth filled her with power.
She was now a warrior.
When she returned to homebase, Nightshade waited. Something flashed through his eyes as though for the first time, he saw her as a warrior. His chiseled face, outlined by dense blue-black hair, lit up. The corners of his full lips twitched under the broad flat nose. The finger-thick white scar emblazoned against his smooth forehead, a symbol of his courage surviving Sabertooth’s claws, pulsed. Female eyes watched him, wishing he would look at them as he did Xhosa but he barely noticed.
The next day, odd Others with long legs, skinny chests, and oversized heads arrived. The People’s scouts confronted them but they simply watched the scouts, spears down, and then trotted away, backs to the scouts. That night, for the first time, Xhosa’s father taught her and Nightshade the lessons of leading.
“Managing the lives of the People is more than winning battles. You must match individual skills to the People’s requirements be it as a warrior, hunter, scout, forager, child minder, Primary Female, or another. All can do all jobs but one best suits each. The Leader must decide,” her father motioned.
As they finished, she asked the question she’d been thinking about all night. “Father, where do they come from?”
“They are called Big Heads,” which didn’t answer Xhosa’s question.
Nightshade motioned, “Do they want to trade females? Or children?”
Her father stared into the distance as though lost in some memory. His teeth ground together and his hands shook until he clamped them together.
He finally took a breath and motioned, “No, they don’t want mates. They want conflict.” He tilted his head forward. “Soon, we will be forced to stop them.”
Nightshade clenched his spear and his eyes glittered at the prospect of battle. It had been a long time since the People fought.
But the Big Heads vanished. Many of the People were relieved but Xhosa couldn’t shake the feeling that danger lurked only a long spear throw away. She found herself staring at the same spot her father had, thoughts blank, senses burning. At times, there was a movement or the glint of Sun off eyes, but mostly there was only the unnerving feeling of being watched. Each day felt one day closer to when the People’s time would end.
“When it does, I will confess to killing the Other. Anyone blooded must be allowed to be a warrior.”
Online Writing Events Can Be Fun Women In Publishing
BY Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Women In Publishing Online Conference
On the first of March, I did a bit of inbox cleaning. I have no idea why I always seem to have a full inbox despite checking messages, but it happens.
Anyhow, I found an invitation to the Women in Writing Summit that would take place from the fourth to the eighth of March. And it was free.
Do you realise how amazing it was to get an invite to a free writing conference?
Yes, it meant that I had to watch all the panels/interviews within 48 hours (I could pay extra to have unrestricted access, but that would have meant never watching them… I know myself well enough).
I cleared my schedule – which isn’t as easy as it sounds. I have various deadlines (writing and publishing wise) that I need to meet. But I did it.
Videos lasted between 30 and 60 minutes. I made copious notes. The things I learned… Wow! I am so lucky to be on a mailing list of someone who is so involved in the writing industry. I usually learn a lot from Belinda Griffin’s newsletters and she always adds value – but this was even more amazing than usual.
A quick overview of the week: Women In Publishing Online Conference
Day 1: The big picture of your book
I learned about Vas (virtual assistants) and how they can help you build your platform. Basically, they can do all the time-sucking admin work for you. And if they are trained to work with authors, they can do your social media and marketing stuff, too. The best place to get VAs are on LinkedIn (you can check out their work history, etc.) and as a referral from author friends on Facebook groups.
Personally, I’m too much of a control freak to get a VA. But when necessary, I do ask for help to manage big things like author events.
Another take-away from day 1 is that this is a business: so treat it like one. Also, hot button topics can make your novel a best-seller. (Check out James W Hall’s book “Hit Lit”.)
Day 2: Your path to publishing success
I listened to various conversations about mindset tools, tricks to co-authoring books (definitely not for me – I’m a lone wolf), how money is like manure (yeah, I changed the “alchemy between love and money” to a phrase from “Hello, Dolly!” that makes much more sense) and a great talk with Na’ima Robert about conquering fear.
“The constant companion on this journey is fear.”
But if you get past that by giving yourself permission to do something/to fail/to tell your story/whatever is keeping you back, fear won’t be so loud and outspoken and you’ll actually get something done.
Also: your uniqueness is your strength.
Day 3: Your tools for success.
If you want to know all about copyright and other legal matters for authors, just go and get Helen Sedwick’s book “Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook”. I did 😉
My eyes glazed over during the talk about tax. But that was mainly because taxes in my country work differently than what the tax lady was talking about during the video. I have a tax consultant and I have a go-to group at the local SARS office (that’s our internal revenue office) who help me with all of my tax stuff and explain things that aren’t clear to me.
I enjoyed the talk with Rachel Marie Martin about how she went from nothing, to blogging and writing about her story and helping others (and now having financial success). What I got from that talk is that whether you do the work to meet your goal by a specific date or not, time will happen. Do you want to see that date and feel like you’ve accomplished something or do you say “next time”?
There was so much to learn on day three. Things like “keep ROI in mind” – whether that’s during publishing, marketing, or translations (which is apparently a good idea). Did you know that you can get an agent specifically to help you sell your already existing book in English to foreign markets so it can be translated and published there?
I loved the section on how to sell to libraries and bookstores as an indie author. I learned things about library systems that I didn’t know – especially for print books – and got great ideas for the future. Shh! It’s a secret 😉 You can check out newshelves.com for excellent advice in this area.
Also: “Writing is a craft. Publishing is a business.”
Day 4: Marketing, marketing and MORE marketing!
This was the day I was actually looking forward to. I feel that one can never know too much about different marketing techniques. Learn everything and then keep what works for you.
So, the scary part: if you want to be a fulltime author, you need a huge backlist. Something like 20 books can earn about $50k a year. Well, according to Angela J Ford and her Facebook buddies.
What I liked about Angela’s out of the box thinking: create a fan club with whom you interact weekly via video. Like reading a chapter a week and commenting on it (via video – recorded or live). I think this is for books in your genre and not specifically your own work.
Bookswag and giveaways came up a lot. (Would you wear a t-shirt with your favourite book’s character names? Something like “Team Klaus” or “Team Damon” – for “Vampire Diaries” fans. Or something from the book like “Mischief Managed” – for Harry Potter fans. Chime in below in the comments!)
Belinda Griffin’s presentation explained the difference between publishing and launching a book. basically, publishing a book is just getting it out into the world. Launching a book is making sure everyone knows that it is available. That includes ads, guest posts, podcast interviews, etc.
What I took away from that presentation: no matter how good your book is, without a proper launch to tell people your book exists, it won’t sell. The moment you stop telling people about your books, they stop selling.
You can learn so much from Belinda at smartauthorslab.com.
I loved Melissa Storm’s presentation. She talked about how you need pen names because even within a genre, the subgenres differ so much that you can lose fans. So if you write sweet romance, have one name and if you write steamy, write under another name. It’s lots of work, but your fans will appreciate it. (Sweet romance readers do not want all the steamy, sexy stuff from steamy romance novels, so keep those brands separate to not offend/disappoint readers.)
Also: make sure your covers communicate exactly what the book is about.
I liked the interview with Cindy Tyler of Vervanté. It was all about products you can sell alongside your books. Things like journals, planners, bookmarks, notecards, postcards, card decks, colouring books, and other print products. As I understand it, this company can print and ship everything for you – even if you sell directly from your website. And they can even send products in a “personal touch” way by wrapping books in tissue paper and adding thank you notes. I got quite a few ideas 😉
There was even a discussion on event planning to sell more books. You can go the traditional route of a bookstore and book signing thing. Or you can go for an experience event. Something like a wine-tasting evening that ties in with your book (say a romance on a wine estate) with the opportunity to talk about your book and possibly make a few sales.
Tips: figure out who your target audience is and what they would like and when they would be able to attend, plan even 3-6 months in advance, never leave people hungry and thirsty at your event – make sure there is enough to eat and drink! – and have a budget.
Day 5: Tools, resources, and organisations to help you in your journey.
Tools: Evernote, Grammarly, ProWritingAid, Bookbrush (like Canva but for authors), KDP Rocket (for keywords), Bookfunnel (to send ARCs).
Audiobooks is a great way to expand your audience. Diane Lasek from ListenUp Audio talked about all the different ways audiobooks work and how her company can help you.
“You want a professional production company to do the work for you.”
I absolutely agree with her. I liked what I heard during her presentation and I think it is totally worth it to look into her company. (I’m happy with Audioshelf, BTW, who does my audiobooks.)
I liked listening to the various women in publishing and learning from them. I laughed a lot. I learned a lot. And I even bought books written by the presenters. I’ll definitely attend again.
What about you? Have you ever attended a conference online/in person? Do you have an opinion about bookswag?
Women In Publishing Online Conference
Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free from selected online retailers. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 – and again in 2018! – for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
We are adding an author a day to this meet the author series starting March 23-April 4th as a kick off to our launch. Grumpy Old Gods vol. 1 releasing March 30th. So be sure to check back and read about the other authors too. We have all kinds of surprised that show up randomly. Don’t miss them. You can read about the other authors HERE.
Writer’s supporting, encouraging and learning from each other. Post on your own blog about your struggles, your triumphs, and your successes. Talk about your works in progress the good, the bad and the ugly or some other writing relating topic on your mind. Read others, interact, comment, and grow within this wonderful author community. Every month there is an optional question for those who may need help figuring out what to post about.
OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?
I tend to like to write from the perspective of the protagonist. However, I have a bad habit of turning the villain into an anti-hero type personality so have to watch for that. My villain can steal the show if I don’t catch the signs. Guess I always like the hero that is not quite the hero in the traditional sense, especially those with shades of gray or with obvious flaws.
Of course, all good heroes have those, shades of gray and flaws. I think maybe when I create a villain I feel the need to create a reason for him being the way he is and then the character refuses to cooperate and just be an outright bad guy. Drives me nuts.
I feel like I am always behind. I am having trouble finishing my stories. I am freezing up. I get to a certain point and then I don’t know what comes next, and lately have found it hard to move past that.
Grumpy Old Gods Volume 1 Publication date – March 30th, 2019
I had planned to have a sign up form here but February got away from me. We are still working out some details.
We have plans on the table for a Grumpy Old Gods Volume 3. This will be a Halloween edition. The call for submissions will officially go out sometime in June or early July. We have also talked about a Faeries anthology before the end of the year. If you would like to keep up with what we are doing anthology wise and submission calls, you can check our official website and sign up for our newsletter: stormdancebooks.junetakey.com
Grumpy Old Gods Volume 2 Submission Deadline March 30, 2019
BOOK CLUB INFO FROM IWSG NEWSLETTER The IWSG Book Club on Goodreads is changing things up!
– 5 discussion questions instead of 10 – Discussion Day poll for quick and easy participation. – Members can help us create Goodreads quizzes for the books we read. – Giveaways exclusive to our members every Discussion Day. – Freebies members can download when we announce our next reading selection. – Writing and reading related polls for fun and insight.
We will still read a new book every other month, alternating between craft books and fictional books that demonstrate an aspect of writing, and our members will continue to vote on our fictional books.
Our February/March 2019 book is…
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
This book was voted on by our members to be a good example of setting.
Masquerade: Oddly Suited IWSG Anthology Release date April 30th
Find love at the ball… Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual Traveler or a virtual date to the ball?
Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology Release date – April 30, 2019 Young Adult Fiction: Romance –General/Paranormal/Contemporary
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