Today’s Featured Author – Michael K. Eastman

Today, I welcome author Michael K. Eastman to my blog. Here is an excerpt from his short story, The Story of Little Beth.

Excerpt

“I’ll tell you how it all began… “

Uncle stood and walked towards the window, taking a long puff of smoke with him. He held out his pipe and gently tapped it against the glass bubble.

“It’s been almost twenty years since that day… I shall always remember we gathered at the harbour inn to bless and celebrate our newly built boat. We named it the Pelican. It was a fine specimen with many sails. There were ten of us including myself. All the necessary provisions had been taken on board and we set forth on the following day.”

“The clouds finally cleared and gave rise to a gentle breeze that filled the sails. Our new ship had bought us good luck. It seemed our labours had rewarded us all with an abundance of good stock… Several days later, our fishing boxes were full. Our skipper was an old sea dog, a sailor of old  traditions… to celebrate our success he cracked open barrel of rum and gave each of us a noggin.”

“Good luck and fortune had been with our ship for most of the voyage. We made good progress on the last day of our fishing, but our stores were now full to the brim, so being left with no further room to keep any extra fish, the skipper gave the order to pull up the nets, and prepare for our voyage home.”

“It was then we saw them…I couldn’t believe my eyes. Everyone gathered round. There was seven or more. They cut through the swell like a spear …They were keeping a fast pace as fast as our ship.…”

“What did they look like?”  asked Beth

Uncle opened a locked draw and removed a wrinkled rolled up canvas. “I’m showing you and Billy a true painting of a mermaid… No one else has ever seen this apart from your auntie.

As you can see for yourself, they look beautiful…Long slender faces large wide eyes and long silver hair… Legends say they will live for one hundred years and have magic powers to heal the sick.”

Uncle’s face suddenly turned to sadness. “That dam cutthroat of a man, he nearly killed one of them…He wanted to catch one and take it back…We tried to stop him but he overpowered everyone. And before we got on our feet, he callously fired into her side…I shall never forget that awful sound she made…I jumped over the side of the ship and swam towards her. Holding her in my arms, I could see her blood on my hands. I shouted to my shipmates for help, but their hands were full keeping this cut throat at bay.”

“Suddenly out from nowhere a huge wave fell upon the ship. It creaked and snapped and rolled from side to side splitting the thick wooden masts as if they were made of straw. As much as I wanted to help I couldn’t have done anything for either of my shipmates, but I was determined to save my ocean friend. ..She laid her head back and closed her eyes.”

“I prayed to the Lord to save her…give me the strength to hold on I ask of him. My last thoughts during that terrible time were of holding her tightly and praying that if fate has destined to take a life…Take mine alone.”

Book Blurb

Little Beth_Take your imagination back a hundred years to the rugged shores of wildest Cornwall, where the adventure and mystery of the dark currents enthrall two young children with ancient mermaid legends you would swear are true… Thus begins ‘The Story of Little Beth,’ the first in two captivating tales in this magic fantasy collection of short stories, where mermaid legends and black magic sit side by side with a hoblin’s adventure. The dark currents of fate twist in strange ways about our heroes, inexorable and inescapable. Let the lives of these strangers mingle as their extraordinary stories unfold in this fantasy collection of short stories by Michael K. Eastman, woven with secrets of magic, myth and legend to tempt any reader.

You can buy The Story of Little Beth as part of a collection that also includes The Story of Plum and Pepper on Amazon and Amazon UK.

Short Story, Novella, Novel – what’s the difference?

Many new authors ask, “How long should my story be?”

The simple answer is as long as it takes to tell the story. Unless you are specifically looking to write a novella or a short story, you should be more concerned with telling the story than the word count.

But in case you are wondering, here is a guideline for story lengths. Note though that there is no unanimous consensus on the length of each of these.

Flash Fiction – under 1000 words

Short story – 1,000 to 7,500

Novelette – 7,500-20,000

Novella – 20,000 – 50,000

Novel – Over 50,000

After looking over this list, I decided to take a look at my own books. My full-length novels definitely meet the guideline for novels. Quietus (Book 2 of my trilogy) is the shortest at 81,800 words. My latest release, The Heir to Alexandria, is the longest at 95,800 words.

Book lengthsBut I wrote what I considered a short story as a prequel to my The Elemental trilogy. And compared to books that are on average 88,000 words, a mere 12,200 words is short at about a fourth the length of my novels. But according to the list above, my “short” story, The Search, is actually a novelette.

Be that as it may, I am still marketing it as a short story. I don’t figure many readers will know what a novelette is. (Either way, The Search, is FREE everywhere except for Amazon. Who can turn down a free book?)

But it is more than just about word count. Each of these classifications brings about different images.

Short Story

Often these are meant to explore a particular situation or set of circumstances. Of course, there may be no “purpose” to the story. It could be a simple sketch of characters or situations. They are short enough to be read in a single sitting and typically only have a handful of characters.

Novella

Unlike a novel which may contain more characters and subplots, a novella focuses on a particular point or single issue. It typically does not contain the variety of subplots found in a full-length novel.

Novel

A novel is a long fictional narrative and usually involves more than just a few characters. Compared to a short story or novella, it has a complex plot.

When looking at word length, the genre of the book should also be taken into consideration. Young Adult books tend to be shorter (50,000 to 80,000 words) while science fiction and fantasy tend to be longer (up to 125,000 words).

If your story goes over 110,000 words, you might consider either cutting some words or perhaps splitting it into two books or even expand it into a trilogy.

Remember all of these are merely guides. The most important thing is telling a good, compelling story.

Today’s Featured Author: Rebecca Burns

Today, please welcome author Rebecca Burns to my blog. Here is an excerpt from The Settling Earth, her collection of short stories.

Excerpt

A PICKLED EGG

Sarah woke to a fierce north wind. She lay in the creaky marital bed, listening to the wind whip about the little wooden house and, watching the pasted wallpaper billow and bulge as warm air wove between the slats, decided to bake a pie. The bed was deep and comfortable-they had taken an extra trip up to Christchurch to fetch the iron frame, William had insisted upon it. He’d stuck out his chin, a jutting corner of stubbornness. Of course, the bed had made it down to the station-somehow it hadn’t dared break. As a rare indulgence, William had ordered a feather mattress from Wellington, and it now lay on the frame like a delicate fruit topping on a sponge base. Sarah pondered. Maybe a fruit pie would be too light after William’s long trip.  Mutton would be more satisfying.

Her grandmother’s carriage clock ticked on the dresser and Sarah turned her gaze from the wallpaper to its opal face. She felt a faint pang when she saw it was a quarter past nine in the morning. She had gone to bed early the night before, but these days she felt so tired. Her limbs and thighs ached as she wriggled beneath the bedspread. Perhaps it’s the weather, she reasoned. It had been oppressive recently; the air hung about the house and garden with a stifling heaviness. Yet it was dry, almost unbearably dry, and the heat accompanying the wind felt like blotting paper on the skin, drawing out all moisture. It had turned the dogs crazy-even Bessie, her favourite. The shaggy black-coated animal had lain panting beside her pen and then, in a thrash of foaming energy, had run off, barking and growling. Sarah hadn’t seen her for days. And hadn’t she changed her own clothes three times yesterday? Finally she’d removed her corset altogether and sat around the house in a white linen underdress. Sarah nodded to herself and stroked her stomach absently. Perhaps a mutton pie could be baked and left to cool. Hans had slaughtered a wether only yesterday. William might like a cold mutton pie, served with a pickled egg.

But were there any eggs left? Sarah frowned and shook her head, trying to clear the fog in her mind. She could almost see the little cupboard in the kitchen where jars of jams and preserves were neatly stacked, but when she tried to focus on the row of pickled eggs, a cloud obscured her view. It was quite maddening. A shapeless grey mass drifted in front of the labels on the jars. In fact, not just in front of the jars. This baggy grey haze seemed to be there all the time these days. Sometimes, if Sarah tried to remember something important William had said-like when he would leave for town or what shirts he needed her to darn-she could see his mouth and lips move, but the grey cloud would obscure his tongue and suck up all the instructions. It seemed malevolent.

But hadn’t she pickled a dozen eggs just last week after wrestling them from the defensive hens as they strutted about in the backyard? She could distinctly remember standing by the fence, watching intently for her moment before shooing away the birds (especially that arrogant speckled one who always seemed to know how to frighten her) and braving the pen where warm brown eggs waited for her. She was sure she had bundled them into her apron, deliberately avoiding the baleful gaze of the birds. Well, hadn’t she fed them and kept them clean? Hadn’t she protected them from rats and hawks that pecked, pecked, pecked the chicks until their soft yellow bodies fell to the earth? Eggs are eggs, she reasoned, and these eggs are my payment. Still, she hadn’t looked back at the hens once she’d left their pen, and she was sure they were still cross with her a week later.

But the fact remained that she had collected a dozen eggs. Hadn’t she? She remembered the pent up energy balling in her stomach that day when William had gone away again, and Hans had been on the prowl. Remembering, Sarah sat up a little in bed. She recalled that William had risen early and flapped around the bedroom in his nightshirt, muttering about saddling his horse ready for the trip. She had watched him sleepily, sensing that she should get up and make him breakfast-indeed, that William expected her to-but somehow, she just couldn’t. Instead, the vivacity that should have gone to her legs gathered at her centre in a tense, tight knot. It gnawed all day, prompting indigestion that would not shift even after drinking a large glass of warm milk. She had been restless and strolled around house, moving from bedroom to parlour, parlour to kitchen, kitchen to scullery. And, when Hans slid into the kitchen, his eyes wandering over her dress and mumbling something unintelligible, Sarah finally burst into movement. She had hurried out of the way, shrugging off Hans’s fingers on her arm, and bustled into the yard. She gazed out at the run, spying the white merino sheep grazing on the horizon. The Southern Alps were pale and blue in the distance, and she lifted up her hands, cupping their silhouettes in her palms. She felt a sudden desire to run along the burnished flats in her bare feet, feeling the rough grass push between her toes, running to the bottom of the hills where jagged grey rocks marked the beginning of the trail. Would the rocks be sharp against her skin? Would they cut her if she scrambled up the mountain? Would they tear her clothes to pieces? She stared at the unreadable hills in the distance, feeling a trickle of perspiration prick her skin. Her clothes felt tight on her body.

Book Blurb

The Settling EarthMarriage transplants Sarah thousands of miles from home; a failed love affair forces Phoebe to make drastic choices in a new environment; a sudden, shocking discovery brings Mrs Ellis to reconsider her life as an emigrant – The Settling Earth is a collection of ten, interlinked stories, focusing on the British settler experience in colonial New Zealand, and the settlers’ attempts to make sense of life in a strange new land.

Sacrifices, conflict, a growing love for the landscape, a recognition of the succour offered by New Zealand to Maori and settler communities – these are themes explored in the book. The final story in the collection, written by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds a Maori perspective to the experience of British settlement in their land.

About the Author

Rebecca BurnsRebecca Burns is an award-winning writer of short stories, over thirty of which have been published online or in print. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011, winner of the Fowey Festival of Words and Music Short Story Competition in 2013 (and runner-up in 2014), and has been profiled as part of the University of Leicester’s “Grassroutes Project”-a project that showcases the 50 best transcultural writers in the county.

The Settling Earth is her second collection of short stories. Her debut collection, Catching the Barramundi, was published in 2012-also by Odyssey Books-and was longlisted for the Edge Hill Award in 2013.

You can find out more about Rebecca on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can buy The Settling Earth on Amazon UK & Amazon US.

Blog Tour: Tomorrow Never Comes

Today, I welcome author Pamela Jones to my blog. She is on a book blog tour promoting her book Tomorrow Never Comes.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Professionally, I’ve been writing for 19 years. During these years, I’ve done a variety of writing: short stories, poetry, blogging, eBooks, and online articles. I also freelanced as a SEO copywriter for private clients.

Personally, I strive to live a quiet life. Although I write drama, by no means do I like living it. So, I enjoy peaceful activities such as reading. I also like traveling and spending quality time with my family.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?           

Yes, I’m already working on a second eBook. It’s entitled “Her Married Lover.” It’s about a single, lonely mother involved with a married man.

When the adulterer’s wife, who’s suffers with depression, discovers their affair, a wrath of hell breaks out. The story will end with a message to readers: infidelity has its consequences.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?               

Yes, I’m a full-time writer. I start my writing day after 11 A.M. My days vary. For instance, on Mondays, I tend to preset tweets and Facebook posts. I also network on social writing sites such as World Literary Club and Goodreads.

Either Tuesdays or Thursdays will be the day I write my blog post. Wednesdays and Fridays are days I mostly dedicate to writing my eBook. I use Saturdays to do additional projects, such as gathering information that will help me with future stories.

I don’t write on Sundays. I tried countless times to make time to write on this day – with no luck. That day is so busy doing personal affairs, until I decided that it’s best NOT to even go near my computer.

On my workdays, I stop writing around 5:30 P.M., which is a big improvement from what I used to do. When I was doing SEO copywriting, I wrote around the clock … and went to bed as late as 2 A.M. … only to get up before 8 A.M.!

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

There are so many great things about being a writer. Truthfully, being a writer is the best thing next to retirement. However, I’ll just list three things:

1) You’re free to do whatever projects you want – copywriting, eBooks, blogging … the choice is yours.

2) You choose the hours you want to work. If you want to work at night and sleep all day – go ahead. If you prefer to work during the day and sleep at night, do so. And with either choice, you can work as many or as little hours as you wish.

3) I love the fact that I don’t have to be bothered with the following type of co-workers: people who tell everybody’s business but their own, and backstabbers. I love working by myself, and despite the myth that writers get lonely, I don’t. Just give me my coffee and my music and I’m good to go!

The worst thing about being a writer:

1) You are responsible for your own taxes – a serious headache if you don’t know jack about self-employment taxes.

2) You have to get your own health insurance.

3) It can take years to get a steady income in writing – although it doesn’t take years for bills to come in steady!

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

The unemployment line – I kid you not! I DO NOT want to walk in that line again – ever. I know if I quit writing, I would have no choice but to get back in it. No way!

Also, I truly love writing. It’s beyond a career for me. It’s a passion.

Please tell us about your current release.

“Tomorrow Never Comes” is a short eBook; less than 35 pages. It’s categorized under women’s fiction.

The story is about Bernice Albright, an author who raised her siblings, Marlena and Rico Brown. She raised them in order to honor her dying mother’s request: take care of her babies.

Although she raised them well, Bernice’s siblings are living troubled lives: Marlena is in an abusive marriage; Rico is a drug addict. This worries Bernice, and makes her determine to help them change their lives.

In spite her efforts, her siblings’ circumstances overtake any chances of “tomorrow being a better day” – a belief that their late mother always believed in.

“Tomorrow Never Comes” is a fictional example of family loyalty, and how the wrong decisions can impact an entire family for a lifetime.

What inspired you to write this book?

My late grandmother inspired me to write this book. I feel like I was “touched by her presence” when this idea was presented to me.

How did you come up with the title?

The title came into my head naturally. There was no struggling with it. It was just as natural as a good thought.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

My favorite character is Bernice. I like her strength as a woman. No matter what she faces in life, she finds the strength to triumph the tribulation. And as women, we need to be strong in the face of adversity. It serves no purpose to be weak and helpless – something Bernice wasn’t.

I disliked Otis. Actually, I hated him. He was a coldhearted man who had no guilt behind his ruthless actions.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The most difficult thing to write in this story was when Bernice’s siblings’ problems overcame them. Such scenes aren’t joyous to write because you’re bringing pain to the story. However, they are necessary to write because they do happen in life.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

My snack is actually a beverage. It’s coffee. I love a tall cup of coffee mixed with International Delight Creamer and artificial sweetener. My mind goes to work in full drive with those first few sips.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I have arthritis in my hands. This makes writing longhand a difficult task. Just writing a page can cause my fingers to stiffen and hurt more. It also makes my penmanship shabby sometimes.

So, it’s best for me to type. Even then, there are times when typing can be a bit difficult. Arthritic flare-ups make it even worse. The pain goes down to my wrists.

However, I have too many stories to tell to let “Bad Boy Arthur” keep me down. So, I do stretching exercises for my hands. I also pray.

I can’t let pain get me down, especially since this is my true calling. In addition, I’ve got too many fictional characters waiting to come to life so that readers can love or hate them!

Book Description

Tomorrow Never ComesBernice Albright is a bestselling romance novelist. Her renowned fame and fortune affords her an affluent life, such as a mansion, an ocean view condo, and a luxury car. She knows influential people around the globe.

She lives a good life, but it’s minimal compared to her love for her family. Her love is associated with a promise she made to her dying mother 20 years ago: to raise her siblings, Marlena and Rico Brown.

Marlena and Rico are now adults. Despite having a good upbringing, they made choices that resulted in their lives being “hell on earth.”

As the presumed matriarch, Bernice is preparing to help her siblings rebuild their lives. This gives her strong belief in her late mother’s motto: tomorrow will be a better day.

However, a turn of events occurs, and it changes her family forever. At the end of it all, Bernice has a new reality about her family, her mother’s belief, and herself.

Author Bio

Pamela JonesPamela Jones is a self-published author of contemporary women’s fiction. “Tomorrow Never Comes” is her first eBook.

Prior to publishing her first eBook, she wrote 19 contemporary short stories for the defunct New York based publisher, Sterling MacFadden. Their magazines included Jive, Bronze Thrills, Black Confessions, Black Romance, Black Secrets, True Black Experience, True Black Passions, and True Black Secrets.

Pamela’s writing background has also included nonfiction content written under the pseudonym “Penlady”.

You can find out more about Pamela on her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can buy Tomorrow Never Comes on Amazon.

A Halloween short story…

Two years ago, my local newspaper issued a challenge to write a Halloween “story” on Twitter using only 128 characters. (Their designated hashtag took up the remaining 12 characters.) They published the top entries which included two of mine. So this Halloween, I decided to take one of the entries and expanded it into a 500-word short story.

The original tweet:

His fangs lock on the zombie’s neck. Growling, he thrashes his head as he saves me. Never walk in a graveyard without your dog.

The new short story:

It was a dark night. The moon hung high in the air as I took my evening walk. I had been pouring over the books for so long that I walk in the brisk air was just the thing to clear my head. Dexter, my Irish wolfhound, padded silently beside me. His ears twitched as he listened to the night sounds.

grave1My path took me by old village cemetery. It looked creepy enough in the daytime but now in the dim moonlight the bare branches looked like gnarled hands reaching down toward the graves. They shook slightly in the wind.

I smelled freshly turned earth which seemed odd since there had been no recent burials that I could recall. I stopped and surveyed the scene. It was then that I noticed the figure coming toward me. He walked with an unusual gait dragging one leg behind him as if it was heavier than the other.

Dexter gave off a low warning growl as the dirt on the nearest grave began to move. I stared in horror as a hand shot out from the ground. The dirt tumbled away as a figure arose from the grave. I took a step backwards, tripping over a large stick. As I scrambled to my feet, I grabbed it. Immediately, I liked the way it felt in my hand. I gave a practice swing like a batter warming up before the game.

When I looked back up, there were now three of them, one blocking my escape. Dexter sprang into action. His large paws hit the closest figure in the chest. The creature hit the ground hard. I caught a whiff of decaying flesh. The smell caused my stomach to lurch. I swallowed hard as I hefted my club over my shoulder. I swung with all my might at the closest figure. The creature grunted as the stick hit its chest. It reached out. A clammy hand brushed against my arm. Goose bumps prickled my skin. I swung my stick again, aiming higher. This time my aim was better. I hit the creature’s head with such force that it sailed through the air landing in the brush some distance away.

I turned my focus to the last creature, a mere three feet from me. Before I could move, Dexter bound forward, crashing into the figure. They landed on the ground. irish wolfhound grey dayDexter’s sharp teeth sank into its throat, his fangs locking onto it as if it was his favorite bone. Growling, he thrashed his head side to side, tearing the flesh.

“Good boy,” I whispered as my legs felt weak.

Dexter let go of the creature’s neck and lumbered over to me. He brushed up against my leg. My fingers curled into his rough fur. I patted the side of his body as I turned for home. As we trudged home, I remember my grandfather’s warning – never walk in a graveyard without your dog.

 

My birthday present to you….Book Sale!

My birthday is this week and I thought I would give you, the reader, a present to celebrate.

For one week, I am dropping the price of Summoned, Book One of my fantasy trilogy to 99 cents.

If you are a cat-lover, I also suggest checking out The Search, which features a telepathic cat named Tosh. You can get this fantasy short story for only 99 cents on Amazon.

But I will let you in on a secret – you can get The Search from Barnes & Noble, the Kobo Store, or Smashwords – where it is available in all e-book formats – for FREE! That’s right. It is FREE every day!

So for just 99 cents this week you can get TWO fantasy stories. Enjoy!

SUMMONED: Book One of The Elemental

SummonedFINALAt the age of four, Lina discovered she could start fires with a mere thought – a trait which had died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she kept this Elemental power a secret to avoid being an outcast. That was easy to do growing up in the remote grasslands of Zena.

Now as an adult, she had no plans to leave her beloved homeland. So when a strange urge compels her to travel north to an unknown destination, Lina resists this unnatural feeling. But her plans to stay in Zena are taken out of her control when she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. She fears she will have no choice but to give into the compulsion. When a raging fire prevents her return home, she realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

On her journey, Lina befriends an odd assortment of allies. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces despite the fact that such magic had died out over 800 years ago. Lina reluctantly begins to use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

Regular price – $2.99 – NOW just 99 cents!

Amazon       Smashwords (Coupon Code: LQ64P)

The SearchThe Search

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

Amazon                 Barnes & Noble               Kobo Store           Smashword  (every ebook format)

An #excerpt of THE SEARCH in honor of Short Story Month

May is Short Story Month so I thought I would feature an excerpt of my short story The Search.

You can get The Search for FREE from Barnes & Noble, the Kobo Store, iTunes or Smashwords where it is available in all e-book formats.

You can also purchase it for 99 cents on Amazon

Book Description

The SearchFor over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

Excerpt 

The horse’s hooves thundered across the ground. Tosh dug his claws into the saddle as his back legs threatened to slip off. A firm hand pressed against his side, pulling him closer toward the young man behind him. Feeling safer, Tosh leaned out to see the terrain up ahead. He blinked his eyes in disbelief at what he saw.

You can’t be serious.

“We can make it,” Nolan said, speaking directly into his mind.

Tosh looked up at him, but Nolan wasn’t looking at the ravine. He was looking over his shoulder at the three men on horseback chasing them. Tosh caught a glimpse of a hefty man with a red beard leaning forward, urging his mount to run faster. He clearly was gaining on them. Tosh looked at the ravine before them.

It is too far for her to jump.

“Ah come on, Tosh. She’ll do just fine.”

Tosh sighed. Nolan rarely listened to any advice he gave him unless it coincided with something that Nolan already wanted to do. Knowing there was no way and no time to change the young man’s mind, Tosh curled up against him. He dug his claws deeper into the saddle and wrapped his tail protectively around his body. He felt Nolan lean forward as the mare’s hooves left the ground. He closed his eyes, counting the seconds until he felt the mare land on the other side. She stumbled slightly, and Tosh opened his eyes to see a small section of ground at the ravine’s edge fall.

Nolan reined in the mare and turned to look back at the ravine and the approaching men. Tosh glanced up and saw the look of concentration on his face. Suddenly, the ground shook. The edge of the ravine crumbled. Rocks and dirt fell until the gorge was three feet wider than it had been moments earlier. The men pursuing them pulled their mounts to a halt at the edge of the gorge.

“You won’t get away from us,” the redhead yelled.

Nolan raised his hand and waved before urging the mare toward the forest. Tosh glanced back to see the men swearing as they eyed the ravine which now was clearly too wide for them to jump. As they entered the forest, Nolan slowed the mare to a walk.

“That was amazing,” he said with a chuckle.

You’re lucky the mare made it.

“Oh, Tosh, you worry too much,” he said ruffling Tosh’s fur.

Tosh turned to glare at him and then proceeded to lick the fur back into the correct direction. We wouldn’t have had to find out if she could make it if you just learn to control your temper.  

Tosh didn’t really expect Nolan ever to learn to do that. He had been trying to drill that lesson into him since he was a headstrong teenager but to no avail.

“I know. I know. And stop using my Elemental power in front of others,” Nolan said with a sigh. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

I have never said you shouldn’t use it. You just need to decide when it is wise to do so.

“So using it to defend myself isn’t wise?”

Defending yourself is one thing. Picking fights is another. Tosh sighed. I guess this means we are moving again.

“But first we have to go pick up our belongings.”

They circled back toward the town. When they entered it an hour later, Tosh kept an eye out for the men, but the streets were nearly empty. No one paid them any attention as Nolan stopped before the boarding house where they had been staying. Tosh remained on the mare as Nolan ran upstairs to gather their things. Within minutes, the young man had returned, and they were on their way out of town.