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It’s August!

Photograph by James Larkin

It’s August, my absolute favorite month! This year August means hot days, afternoon thunderstorms, and the Olympics. I woke up this morning, anxious to get started on another month of 50k words to finish out Earth, Book Four of the Akasha Series. Granted, I fell back asleep almost immediately, but I am not deterred. I am excited, because did you hear? It’s August!

Besides the fact that it is my birth month, it is also my first child’s birth month – so lots of birthday cake to go around. Plus, we have a fun month planned; a trip to the beach and the awesome Orangeberry Summer Splash Mini Book Tour Marathon. A feature of 100 authors and 500 blog stops. With interviews, guest posts, music playlists, giveaways, and much more – there is something for everyone. Please check it out!

Water, Book One of the Akasha Series‘ will be featured. Here is the schedule:

2nd August – Author Interview at Grady Hendrix’s blog
5th August – Twitter Blast with Pandora Poikilos
10th August – Guest Post & Book Feature at Krazy Book Lady
11th August – Twitter View with Pandora Poikilos: follow @harmonygirlit to see
12th August – Book Feature at Peace from Pieces
17th August – Guest Post & Book Review at Christopher Starr’s blog
18th August – Ford 99 at Mommy Adventures: read page 99 of ‘Water’

Can’t wait? Here is a teaser; part of my interview:

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
Slow down, already!

What is your guilty pleasure?
Vampires.

Favorite places to travel?
Anywhere without the kids…sorry guys, but sometimes mommy needs a break.

Of course, there will be reminders throughout August to check everything out, and I will be perusing to let you know my favorite blog stops. In the meantime – I want to know how you would answer the questions above! Leave a comment with your guilty pleasure and/or your favorite place to travel. Also, if someone wrote a book about your life, what would be the title?

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Being Mrs. Dracula

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I recently submitted a short story to one of my Goodreads groups, Gotta Have Paranormal Romance with a Kick. The requirements were to write a short story about what it would be like to be Mrs. Dracula. No word count minimums/maximums. So I sat down, hammered something out, and won! Squee!  I got a $25 gift card to AllRomanceBooks.com, plus an e-copy of Being Mrs. Dracula by Faith Marlow.

Of course, my version of being Mrs. Dracula includes Wiccans, environmental issues, and an unexpected twist at the end. Interested? Read below and let me know what you think!

True Patriot

“Mrs. Hun, your rebuttal, if you please.”

Melinda nodded at the moderator, and turned to face the cameras. Lights bore down on her, and she hoped her makeup held up to the heat. A bead of sweat rolled down the back of her neck. She ignored it, trying to focus instead on the audience behind the media.

“Although my opponent’s environmental goal is admirable; it simply isn’t enough. As Ohio’s newest senator, and duly elected representative, I intend to support the push for nuclear energy.” Melinda waited for the uproar to die down. Her announcement wasn’t unexpected; in fact, anticipation of the announcement is what led to such a large turnout. She leaned closer into the microphone, speaking above the crowd, “Nuclear energy waste is miniscule to what we produce now. A coke can’s worth per person’s lifetime compared to 68 tons solid waste and 77 tons carbon dioxide.”

There were shouts from the audience, both for and against.

She continued, “A nuclear plant takes up less than a square mile to produce the same amount of energy a wind farm on 200 square miles produces.”

From behind the cameras, someone yelled about weapons of mass destruction. Melinda did something her campaign manager strictly prohibited. She responded to the criticism, “Nuclear war is an exaggerated fear, fed to you by Hollywood and the media.”

She looked over at her opponent, candidate Daniel Kelley, and swallowed hard. A small, knowing smile crept up on one side of his face.

As the debate ended with a clear winner, the two candidates shook hands in front of the camera. He leaned into her, “Good luck with the rest of your campaign, Mrs. Hun.”

She nodded, “And to you, Mr. Kelley.”

He glanced over at the empty seat in the front row, “I look forward to meeting your husband.”

Melinda looked down. Her husband had yet to appear at a public event by her side. “Mr. Hun is busy with work.”

Daniel narrowed his eyes, “Well, I hope he is around to at least take care of your injuries.”

Melinda gasped, touching her eye. The tips of her fingers came away tinged with beige cover-up. Her makeup was running. She immediately adjusted her hair over her neck, hoping no one had spotted the bruising there.

Daniel smiled, leaning in further, “Makeup, hair, and high turtlenecks can only cover so much.” He bent the rest of the way, kissing her on the cheek, then straightened and winked at her. Daniel Kelley disappeared into the maelstrom of media, prompting a new frenzy of flashing lights.

Melinda closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. The campaign, relatively free of mud-slinging so far, was about to get ugly.

* * *

Melinda entered campaign headquarters with her manager and several aides, “How is my California colleague’s campaign going?”

The youngest aide, a recent college grad, answered, “He leads the polls.”

“And Louisiana?” she asked.

“The same,” the manager said. “Barring any unfortunate disclosures regarding religious affiliations, your fellow wiccans will be sitting at the capitol next year.”

Melinda nodded. Discussions on how to effectively change America’s environmental policies began within her small coven ten years ago. With a lot of hard work, and equal amounts of luck, they managed to ensconce a handful of loyal wiccans within the US political system. This was just the beginning. Between the congressional race and well-paid lobbyists, they were going to slowly oust the large corporation stronghold within US politics, and guide the country to vote on policies that were environmentally responsible. America would no longer be run by the highest bidder.

“Melinda,” her campaign manager stopped her with a hand on her arm. “Are you going to be okay?”

She furrowed her eyebrows at him.

“Your husband returns tonight?” He pressed. “This is a situation your opponent would love to exploit. We can’t afford that kind of press. We are behind enough in the polls as it is.”

Melinda fidgeted with the hem of her shirt, uncomfortable with this kind of attention. “What my husband and I do behind closed doors is no affair of yours.”

“Of course – yet it will soon become the affair of the entire nation, if you’re not careful.”

She cleared her throat, and met his eyes, “I will be in my private suite the remainder of the evening. Text if you need anything; otherwise I’ll see you before 9 for our flight tomorrow morning.”

He sighed, looking at her with sad eyes. The matter was not closed; next time he would approach it with more care.

* * *

Melinda took the elevator below ground to her private suite. There weren’t many buildings in Columbus that went this far underground, especially so close to the river. Melinda wasn’t keen on spending so much of their campaign money on a lease, but Mr. Hun was insistent. She crossed their spacious living room, removing her jacket and high heels along the way. She looked at her watch, he would be waking soon.

At the floor to ceiling bookshelf, Melinda pulled on the copy of Bram Stroker’s ‘Dracula’. One click, and a panel opened inward. Melinda squeezed through the small opening. Inside was a large pentagram. Lit candles placed at intervals around the circular room provided the only light. Several men and women in robes waited on their knees, obediently keeping their heads down.

Melinda cleared her throat. One rose, walked over to her, and handed her an iced cocktail. She sniffed it, raising her eyebrows at him.

“It is the usual infused herbs, mixed during an incantation, Melinda.”

“And the blood?” She asked, peering through the clear glass.

“One drop.”

She nodded, throwing her head back and finishing the cocktail in one swallow. She handed the empty glass to the robed man, along with her cell phone and campaign badges, “I am ready.”

He set her belongings down on a small table and pulled a lever just above it. The center of the pentagram opened, and a large bed rose into the room, gears underneath squeaking with the strain. Melinda held her breath, heart stopping for a moment as it always did upon his awakening.

The form on the bed stirred, pulling the chains that bound him tight. A slow smile crept onto Melinda’s face, “Settle down husband, you will fly tonight.”

He turned, gray eyes boring into her, “You have another name for me, witch?”

“Daniel Kelley.”

The vampire sat up in the bed, his bare chest heaving in anger, “One of these nights, I will break your curse. I’m too old; lived far too long to bend to the will of a human.”

Melinda stepped forward, removing her turtleneck and revealing her bruised throat. A small price to pay. The vampire did need to feed after all, “The day may come,” she said. “But it will require something strong enough to break the bond of marriage.” She wrapped her hand around one of the chains, pulling it tight. The vampire was yanked down again, flat on his back. “And something stronger still to break these bonds. Not to mention the curse.”

Melinda crawled onto the bed, straddling the vampire. She felt his whole body go tense. “We’ll be performing the Great Rite before I release you,” she nodded to the robed man and he took his place back in the circle. “We’ll need to make sure the curse holds while you fly free. I want my little bat to return home by dawn.”

She stroked the side of his face. He bared his fangs, but couldn’t bite into the healthy, throbbing pulse at her wrist. Not without her permission; one of many stipulations enforced through the curse.

Dracula closed his eyes, frowning. “I suppose this must be my penance.”

“Penance?” Melinda scooted down on the bed, making herself comfortable in between his legs. “It’s for the good of the country.” Her smile was all too malicious, “I’ll make a true patriot out of you yet.”

My KDP Select Experience

I’ve been MIA from my blog for awhile. A romp around Canada is to blame – but totally worth it! We caught a myriad of rainbows at Niagara Falls, found out that Montreal natives don’t like kids (or at least don’t like my kids – can’t necessarily blame them), and absolutely fell in love with Quebec City! Anyway, before that, I enrolled ‘The Kindred Curse Anthology‘ in KDP Select and ran some of my first free promo days. In true indie spirit, I’d like to share my experience.

I chose two free days toward the end of March, a Wednesday and Thursday because I was told to do at least two days in a row, allowing time for word to get out. Since Fridays and Saturdays are big ebook buying days, I wanted my book back at normal price by then. As far as advertising, I took the following steps:

–          Posts on Facebook, Twitter, my blog and Google+

–          Asked several book review bloggers to spread the word, or at least retweet/share my updates

–          Created ads for Goodreads and Facebook

–          Set up a Goodreads event and invited all my friends; at least one friend invited all her friends as well

–          Registered at Pixel of Ink

–          Posted announcement on the Kindle Boards

–          Registered for posting at All Things Kindle Facebook Page

–          Registered at YourBookAuthors.com

–          Registered at Snickslist.com

–          Registered at www.dianekidman.com

–          Posted on Facebook’s Indie Exchange

–          Asked the following Twitter services to Tweet my book: @DigitalBkToday @kindleebooks @Kindlestuff @KindleEbooksUK @KindleBookKing @KindleFreeBook @FreeReadFeed @4FreeKindleBook @kindle_promo @writersRT @TweetTheBook @kindlebookreview  @indieauthornews

–          Added ‘free’, ‘kindlefreebie’, etc. to my tags on the Amazon page

Quick disclaimer; not all advertising worked. For example, I know Pixel of Ink didn’t get around to posting my book – I’m sure they have plenty to post so it is hit or miss with them.  It is really hard to say what worked and what didn’t.  The only solid evidence I have is from my Goodreads Events; some people that responded ‘yes’ left a comment that they downloaded it. I have not seen any new reviews of the book, and have not seen a jump in sales for any of my other books.

I’m hesitant to post exact numbers for fear of violating any of Amazon’s policies, so let me just say the total number of free downloads was above 1,000 but below 2,000. Personally, I was hoping for a number in the tens of thousands. The number of buys after my free day promo ended is still in the single digits.

So far, KDP Select for me has been a wash. I keep wondering if it is because the type of book I have – a vampire short story anthology, for adults only. Perhaps the first novel of the Akasha Series would do better as more of a traditional fantasy. I have another free day on April 15th coming up, and then again on the 18th and 19th. I’m going to back off the usual social media this time around – no twitter, no facebook, no Goodreads, and try a few different things. One is advertising at World Literary Café.

If ever I would enroll my eco-fantasy series in KDP Select, I might put some more money in my advertising. For example, running a giveaway on Twitter for anyone who retweets my updates for a $25 gift card, and doing a separate but similar giveaway on Facebook. There are several other advertising opportunities that cost, but I’m waiting to hear what works for other authors.  I just wish the enrollment period wasn’t so long!  Even if it were only 60 days, instead of 90, I’d be more willing to enroll my books.

I’d love to hear from you! Authors – what has your experience been with KDP? Readers – where oh where do you find new books (and more specifically – free books) to read? Please comment!

A Book Obsession

Time for another awesome book blogger interview! Mindy’s site, Forbidden Book Reviews, was created by team members of Books Complete Me and Page Turners Blog as a way to showcase all things ‘grown up’. Mindy recently reviewed ‘Water’ – see her review here. After sharing such an ecstatic review, I couldn’t help but get just as ecstatic over Mindy! Okay, that sounded weird – let’s just get on with the interview, shall we?

Q: First thing is first – how did you get into book blogging?

I became obsessed with the Twilight series. Seriously obsessed! Through this LOVE of all things Twilight, I met an INCREDIBLE group of gals on a twilight mom site. That is how the name Mindy Fangedmom came about because when I first fell in love with Vampires, they had fangs (the Twilight vamps do not have fangs but I love them anyway)! Fangedmom was my screen name in many forums.

Once my twimom friends started branching out to blogging, I of course, followed them. After following many blogs and being opened up to a WHOLE NEW WORLD of books, I was blown away by the SHEER talent that is all Indie and Self Pub authors!

Cindy, owner of Books Complete Me blog, asked me to join as a blogger. I was so excited. When Forbidden Reviews was created, I jumped on the chance to be part of it too. I am now the main blogger of Forbidden Reviews and LOVE IT!

A dear friend I met online gave me the nickname Brook. As in ‘babbles like a brook’. I love to talk. What a more perfect “job” for me than blogging.

Q: So now I have to ask – Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Team Jacob for sure from the very beginning.

Q: Tell me more about Forbidden Reviews. The creation, the concept, the…wine?

When Books Complete Me started, it was mostly focused on Young Adult reviews. As more and more authors started contacting us, we decided that it was not right to have our YA books being reviewed alongside books of a more adult nature.

We decided to start a sister blog for all adult themed books. We voted on the name Forbidden Reviews. When one of the gals came up with the header (the gal in the bathtub with a glass of wine: SHEER GENIUS) our rating system was born. I personally LOVE a glass (or bottle) of wine!

Q: White wine or red?

White wine and it has to be cold!

Q: What is your favorite part of the ‘job’?

Having someone tell me they read a book because of my review and that they loved it as much as I did!!!

THE AUTHORS…THE BOOKS…THE AUTHORS…THE BOOKS…I am absolutely blown away by authors. I have been since I learned to read. To have these stories, characters, settings and events in your head just blows my mind! I love to read a good book. There is NO better escape for me. Since I started blogging, I have met the most amazing Authors and read the most amazing books! Indie authors and Self Pub are my favorite! There is so much talent out there that once I discover it, I want to share it with the world!

Q: What is your not-so-favorite part?

Sometimes I want to just read. I wish some days I could just put “READ THIS BOOK. It is incredible and just trust me” and move to the next book. I don’t get as much reading done as I want because I cannot always write my reviews and post my reviews in a timely manner. I am a full time working mom, wife and my husband is self-employed. I am a busy gal! I MAKE time for blogging.

Q: How many hours would you say you spend on reading? How many hours on reviews and your blog?

*gets out calculator…* I work 8-10 hours a day, sleep for 5-6 hours, that is approx. 16 hours so that leaves about 8 hours a day that I am “free”. So in those 8 hours a day, I try to devote at least 2 hours to reading and/or blogging. Sometimes those hours all blur together in a reading/blogging marathon. It is nothing for me to start a good book and stay up all night to finish it. I have been known to read all night, sleep for an hour and go to work (I work in an office environment). I can also sit down to blog and say “I will only be a minute” and my husband and kids GROAN because “Mommy minutes” are HOURS long!

Q: What are your favorite genres?

Paranormal and Supernatural. Hands down. If there are mystical creatures, magic, witches, vamps, were’s, wolves etc. I will read it.

I am NOT a fan of what used to be known as Science Fiction. I am not sure if that genre really exists today. The genres have really changed since I was a young reader.

Q: What kind of book is worthy of five wine bottles?

Everyone has a different idea of what makes a good book. I am not an editor and I am not an English teacher. Therefore, if there are a few typos or a few mistakes..BFD…I am just grateful you wrote the book and I get to read it!

To me, a Five Wine bottle review means that I would tell you to read it. STOP what you are doing and read it. I have been told that I have a “fan group” that follows my reviews and reads what I review (talk about the ULTIMATE compliment)! THAT to me means I am doing something right as a blogger.

Q: Who are some of your all-time favorite authors? What about your favorite movies?

OMG there is no way I can answer that question. NONE. Usually if I am asked what my favorite book is, I refer to the book I am currently reading. I cannot pick one. Just like I cannot tell you which of my children is my favorite. They are all special and unique to me. I love a lot of different styles of writing, content…just way too many different ones to pick.

Movies: Another hard one. I just watched the Rebound and LOVED IT! I tend to watch movies over and over when I love them (seeing this obsessed personality much)??? Stargate, Lost Boys, Men in Black, 13 Going on 30, Twilight series, Harry Potter series, Hocus Pocus (again…I ramble…too many to name. These are the ones that just popped in my head).

Q: Coffee or Tea? Coke or Pepsi?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening (iced of course) and Pepsi.

Q: What is next for you?

Next? Maybe a bigger house with a built in library for all my books? I would be more than happy to let someone build one for me *giggles*

Seriously…I love to blog and I love to read. I will keep on doing both for as long as I can. Meeting new authors and meeting their “minds” is an incredible experience for me and I am very happy doing it.

Thank you for taking the time to complete the interview, Mindy! Book bloggers are amazing to me and you didn’t disappoint!

Thank you to Terra for my very first interview where I answered the questions instead of asked them. You should REALLY read Terra’s Akasha series. ‘Water’ blew me away and I am getting ready to start ‘Air’!

Check out Mindy’s book and movie reviews at: http://www.forbiddenreviews.com/

 

New Release

I kind of slipped this one in there in between releases of the 1st and 2nd books of the Akasha Series.  The Kindred Curse Anthology is a series of vampire short stories.  Ten lucky winners will be notified shortly that they won a free e-copy of the book through the Follower Love Giveaway Hop.  The Kindred Curse Anthology will be available for one week only on Smashwords, Amazon, and B&N.  After that it will be available on Amazon only.

A few disclaimers, there is nothing ‘eco’ about this book. It has action, it has vampires, and it has sex. It was a delicious thing to write and it is a delicious thing to read. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

The Kindred Curse Anthology

A disease passed to each new generation of descendants attracts vampires. Pieces of family history and the secrets to survival are lost as the lineage progresses. The Kindred Curse Anthology prequels lead you back in time, revealing the root of a dynasty’s plight and a beginning that ultimately transcends the family’s end.

Consisting of five short stories, each subsequent book in this anthology is written as a prequel to the prior. The matriarch of the family, Anna Sprengel, survives a vampire poisoning. Her tainted blood is passed down to each new generation, morphing into deadly auto-immune diseases. However, no descendant can escape the magnetic-like pull they have toward vampires – and vampires have toward the family. Loosely based on the true story of the foundations of the Order of the Golden Dawn, Anna foresees the destruction of the world, and joins forces with a vampire in order to prevent the total loss of both races. But every member of the family in each generation must play their part. Constantly on the run from vampires, their instincts for self-preservation overcome even their kindred bonds. Anna is no longer around to ensure the prophecy is carried out by her family, but her vampire cohort, Xavier, is. Even if he can overcome the sensual pull toward Isabelle, the prophecy remains precarious as the future of both races is at stake.

Flash Fiction and Giveaway

Hi there everyone!  If you haven’t yet, hop on over to Can’t Put it Down Reviews where I am giving away six sets of the first two books, ‘Water’ and ‘Air’ in the Akasha Series, plus one grand prize winner gets to pick a t-shirt from my store.

I am also giving away the complete set of the Kindred Curse Anthology, not yet released anywhere, in the Follower Love Giveaway Hop. Oh – and did I forget to mention the $25 Amazon Gift Card?

Now on to my newest flash fiction.  This was recently featured on Can’t Put it Down Reviews.  It is some of the  back story on Kaitlyn’s (main character in the Akasha Series) parents.  Enjoy!

Good Luck Charm

Mary leaned forward, looking through the windshield of their small, blue Honda and up into the sky. “Do they know we’re coming?”

The sky was growing darker by the minute, and the wind was picking up.

Cato answered from the back seat, “No one knows.  Well, except Shawn. Boy probably doesn’t even remember, as involved in video games as he was.” Cato stared at the scenery rushing past. Corn fields. Acre after acre of the tall stalks; all leaning to the left with the growing wind.

“Oh, please.  Your son is gifted and you know it.  I’ve seen the spark on more than one occasion.” John smiled at Cato through the rearview mirror. He put his hand over Mary’s, attempting to calm her fears.

She smiled, but her eyes still wrinkled with worry. It began to hail. Small chunks of ice pelted the windshield and road ahead. Mary began rubbing at the charm around her neck.

It was a necklace given to her by their only child. John thought of their daughter Kaitlyn, at home probably working on college applications. She was all they really had, and he would give anything to make it a better world for her.  Which is why they were all here.  With far more confidence than either of his two passengers, he resolutely nodded his head. “Yes.  Everything is going to be –“

“John! Stop!” Mary cut him off with her screams. He slammed on the brakes. About a mile ahead of them, a funnel shot down from the cloud cover. It was already bending the sturdy highway signs with its force. John put the Honda into reverse.

“Don’t want to do that either, John.” Cato pointed out the back window. A thick formation of clouds were already spinning in preparation for another tornado vortex to emerge.

John and Mary locked eyes.  Their communication was almost telepathic.  This was not natural weather.

The corn stalks no longer leaned in one direction. They waved wildly, as if flagging away the trio. But it was too late; they were trapped with twisters blocking each direction of road.

“So now we know – there has to be a traitor with The Seven.” John and Mary each turned to look at Cato.

“Let’s just get through this. Then we can turn to who is responsible. If I don’t make it…” Cato trailed off.

“We’re all going to make it.” John didn’t give Cato a chance to finish. “And we will all go home to our children.”

Cato nodded at his lifelong friend, thankful he was here to help face their enemy. The three exited the car.

Mary’s long, red skirt whipped around her legs. The red was a stark contrast to the dark grey skies. She faced the first of the tornados, opening herself up to the warm, moist air being drawn in from the south.  She used her powers as a water elemental to diffuse the air of moisture. John stood by her side, commanding the cool, dry winds blowing in from Canada. Together they worked, forcing away the conflicting weather and trying to stabilize the atmosphere.

Though Cato could manipulate all of the elements, he concentrated on the wind speed.  He worked to slow it down, preventing any more updrafts. He was significantly stronger than the pair that worked behind him, but he was hindered, having to deal with chunks of road and now farm equipment being tossed at them by the tornado. He moved forward, certain he was the target of the attack. The least he could do was decrease the risk to his friends by angling away, further down the road.

Mary looked back to see their small car in a slow spin, gradually being lifted up. It was as unpredictable as the winds.  “We need to move!”

Without hesitation, she turned to the fields. The sharp, unharvested corn cut that might offer some protection from the wind, bit into her bare legs as she ran. John stayed close on her heels. “Where is Cato!” He called to her. But there was no time to answer.  He lunged forward, tackling Mary to the ground as the roof of a barn whipped by overhead.

Cato remained  on the highway, struggling with the wind patterns.  They were unpredictable.  He detected several threads of power being woven into the storm from two different directions.  There would be more than four elementals attacking – and no time to target them.  Cato had to settle for playing defense. He looked behind me, startled to find John, Mary and the car gone.

He ran back to where he had left them.  Dumbfounded, he looked to the right, at the slightly wavering speed limit sign, still planted in the ground. He peered closer into the fields, thinking he saw a flash of Mary’s skirt.  He took a step towards it, when a spinning, blue mass shot by, missing Cato by mere feet.  He could barely track it with his eyes.  It was their car, now bouncing end over end down the highway, taking the speed limit sign with it. Cato blinked, then turned back to the wind patterns in the sky and could only hope the same fate had not befallen his friends.

Gradually, his energy waned, and he was left only able to maintain a protective circle around himself.  The weather had grown too strong; almost like more elementals had joined in. The corn fields and his friends were on their own. Cato’s whole body shook with exertion until he dropped to his knees. His sphere was allowing the strong gusts to pass through, but it would hold against the more solid objects thrown at him by the storm, and it would keep him firmly planted on the ground.

The two funnels moved closer, then angled in – towards the path his friends took.  Shards of debris littered the air like feathers in a pillow fight.  Cato was still able to discern the funnels, large as they were, merging together. As they did, lightening lit the sky and thunder cracked in the air, barely heard over the freight train noise of the super twister.  It was a triumphant announcement; both sides knew who had won this battle.

Wind gusts did not let up. They grew stronger and stronger, pulling even more debris into the air, until Cato could not see past his protective circle at all. He was sure the large mass was coming for him next.

With a final burst of energy, Cato pushed himself to his feet. He wasn’t going to face death curled up like a coward. It would be full on, shoulders squared and eyes opened. And without his shield.

When the noise was unbearable – and Cato was sure the climax had arrived, he lifted his hands to dissipate his shield. Before he could, the world went silent. Stalks, corn, dirt, and fractured wood from nearby structures all fell to the ground at once. There was no wind. What cornstalks were left in the ground were still. In the skies, clouds moved away revealing a disturbingly peaceful blue sky in their wake.

The last of Cato’s energy fizzled out, and his protective circle vanished. Two loud, sickening thumps came from behind him. Cato swallowed the rising lump in his throat, then turned. Mary and John lay dead on the highway. All of their limbs twisted in unnatural, odd angles, except for one. Mary’s hand still clutched the charm at her neck.

Let me know what you think!  Comments always welcome.

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