Posts Tagged 'nature'

Book Launch ‘The Quest for Home’ by Jacqui Murray

Today I am delighted to have a visit from the lovely Jacqui Murray as she launches ‘The Quest for Home‘ her second book in the Crossroads Trilogy.

Title and author: The Quest for Home

Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

Jacqui has also been kind enough to answer my questions and share an excerpt from her exciting book. Links to get in touch with Jacqui are at the end of this post.

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  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

Interview:

Do you need silence to write?

I do! White noise is OK (nature sounds, background TV from my husband) but not music or chatter. I’m too curious. I get distracted and lose the thread!

Does writing flow for you and fit into gaps in your daily routine, or do you need to set specific time aside?

I’d say the latter. When my kids were home and I worked outside the house, I couldn’t write. I’d get settled into a zone and the time was never enough. Now, with the kids out and me working from home, I have no problems writing endlessly. Whatever comes up can be shuffled around the writing.

What has changed for you, since you started on the published path?

Probably the most important change is that I know what I know and what I don’t. I don’t make my own covers anymore. Nor do I self-edit. But, I do my own marketing, publishing, and cheerleading. I am satisfied that I do the best I can. I don’t wish I was better, dream of an agent, or apologize about stuff. WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).

Here Jacqui kindly shares an excerpt from The Quest for Home :

Chapter 1

Northern shore of what we now call the Mediterranean Sea

Pain came first, pulsing through her body like cactus spines. When she moved her head, it exploded. Flat on her back and lying as still as possible, Xhosa blindly clawed for her neck sack with the healing plants. Her shoulder screamed and she froze, gasping.

How can anything hurt that much?

She cracked one eye, slowly. The bright sun filled the sky, almost straight over her head.

And how did I sleep so long?

Fractured memories hit her—the raging storm, death, and helplessness, unconnected pieces that made no sense. Overshadowing it was a visceral sense of tragedy that made her shake so violently she hugged her chest despite the searing pain. After it passed, she pushed up on her arms and shook her head to shed the twigs and grit that clung to her long hair. Fire burned through her shoulders, up her neck and down her arms, but less than before. She ignored it.

A shadow blocked Sun’s glare replaced by dark worried eyes that relaxed when hers caught his.

“Nightshade.” Relief washed over her and she tried to smile. Somehow, with him here, everything would work out.

Her Lead Warrior leaned forward. Dripping water pooled at her side, smelling of salt, rotten vegetation, mud, and blood.

“You are alright, Leader Xhosa,” he motioned, hands erratic. Her People communicated with a rich collection of grunts, sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and arm movements, all augmented with whistles, hoots, howls, and chirps.

“Yes,” but her answer came out low and scratchy, the beat inside her chest noisy as it tried to burst through her skin. Tears filled her eyes, not from pain but happiness that Nightshade was here, exactly where she needed him. His face, the one that brought fear to those who might attack the People and devastation to those who did, projected fear.

She cocked her head and motioned, “You?”

Deep bruises marred swaths of Nightshade’s handsome physique, as though he had been pummeled by rocks.  An angry gash pulsed at the top of his leg. His strong upper arm wept from a fresh wound, its raw redness extending up his stout neck, over his stubbled cheek, and into his thick hair. Cuts and tears shredded his hands.

“I am fine,” and he fell silent. Why would he say more? He protected the People, not whined about injuries.

When she fumbled again for her neck sack, he reached in and handed her the plant she needed, a root tipped with white bulbs. She chewed as Nightshade scanned the surroundings, never pausing anywhere long, always coming back to her.

The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. Sweltering heat hammered down, sucking up the last of the rain that had collected in puddles on the shore. Xhosa’s protective animal skin was torn into shreds but what bothered her was she couldn’t remember how she got here.

“Nightshade, what happened?”

Her memories were a blur—terrified screams and flashes of people flying through the air, some drowning, others clinging desperately to bits of wood.

Nightshade motioned, slowly, “The storm—it hit us with a fury, the rain as heavy and fierce as a waterfall.”

A memory surfaced. Hawk, the powerful leader of the Hawk People, one arm clutching someone as the other clawed at the wet sand, dragging himself up the beach.

He was alive!

It was Hawk who offered her People a home when they had none, after more than a Moon of fleeing for their lives through lands so desolate, she didn’t know how anyone survived. Finding Hawk and his People, she thought she’d found a new homeland.

Her last hunt with Hawk flashed through her mind—the stone tip they created like the Big Head’s weapon, how she had hung by her ankles from a tree trunk to cross a deep ravine. How he grinned when she reached the other side, chest heaving but radiant with satisfaction. He told her many of his warriors shook with fear as they crossed. His pride in her that day glowed like flames at night.

For the first time in her life, she felt Sun’s warmth inside of her.

She looked around, saw quiet groups huddled together, males talking and females grooming children. Pan-do bent over a child, whispering something in her ear but no Hawk.

Where is he? But she didn’t ask Nightshade. The last time she’d seen the two together, they had fought.

She couldn’t imagine a world without Hawk. They had planned to pairmate, combine their groups into one so strong no one could ever again drive her away. She hadn’t known there were enemies worse than Big Heads until Hawk told her about the Ice Mountain invaders. They attacked Hawk’s People long before Xhosa arrived. Hawk had killed most and chased the rest back to their home, icy white cliffs that extended from Sun’s waking place to its sleeping nest, bereft of plants and animals. When he saw where they lived, he understood why they wanted his land.

The children of those dead invaders grew up and wanted revenge.

Someone moaned. She jerked to find who needed help and realized it was her. She hoped Nightshade didn’t hear.

He glanced at her and then away. “All the rafts were destroyed.”

She shook, trying to dislodge the spider webs in her brain. Hawk’s homebase was squashed between a vast stretch of open land and an uncrossable pond. They should have been safe but the Ice Mountain invaders attacked in a massive horde. Her People—and Hawk’s—were driven into the water. The rafts became their only escape. Floating on a log platform to the middle of a pond too deep to walk across was something no one had ever done but they must or die. The plan was the rafts would carry the People to safety, away from the Invaders.

That hadn’t worked.

“There were too many enemy warriors, Xhosa,” and Nightshade opened and closed his hands over and over to show her. “More than I have ever seen in one place.”

Images of warclubs slashed through her thoughts, flying spears, the howls of warriors in battle. Many died, beaten until they stopped moving, children dragged screaming from mothers. The giant female—Zvi—sprinting faster than Xhosa thought someone her size could, the children El-ga and Gadi in her arms, a spear bouncing off her back. Her size stunned the enemy, immobilized them for a breath which gave Zvi the time she needed to reach safety.

Almost to himself, Nightshade motioned, “I’ve never seen him this brave.”

Xhosa didn’t understand. “Him?” Did he mean Zvi?

“Pan-do. His warriors attacked. They saved us.” Nightshade locked onto the figure of Pan-do as he wandered among the bedraggled groups, settling by an elder with a gash across his chest and began to minister to the wound. 

“I remember,” Xhosa murmured. When the People were trapped between the trees and the water, prey waiting to be picked off, Pan-do’s warriors pounced. That gave Xhosa precious time to push the rafts out onto the water. It seemed none of the enemy knew how to swim. Pan-do sliced through the Ice Mountain invaders without fear, never giving ground.

Nightshade motioned, “He isn’t the same Leader who arrived at our homebase, desperate for protection, his People defeated.”

Xhosa’s hands suddenly felt clammy. “Is Lyta alive?”

Since the death of his pairmate, before Xhosa met him, Pan-do’s world revolved around his daughter, Lyta. He became Leader of his People to protect her. When he arrived at the People’s homebase, Lyta stood out, unusual in an otherwise homogenous group. First, it was her haunting beauty, as though she shined from within, her hair as radiant as Sun. Awe turned to shock when she walked, her gait awkward on malformed feet. She should have been destroyed as a child but Pan-do said he had never considered it. He explained that in Moons of migration, before joining Xhosa’s People, Lyta had never slowed them down. He didn’t expect that to change if the two groups traveled together.

And then she spoke. Her voice was like bird’s song and a gift to People exhausted from the day’s work. It cheered up worried adults and put smiles on the faces of children, its melodic beauty convincing them that everything would work out.

It was more than a Moon after his arrival before Pan-do told Xhosa what he valued most about his daughter. Lyta could see truth simply by watching. No one could hide a lie from her, and she never hid it from her father. Pan-do kept it secret because the people it threatened might try to silence her. He only told Xhosa because Lyta had witnessed a conversation about a plan to kill Xhosa.

One of the people Lyta didn’t recognize but the other, he was someone Xhosa trusted.

When Nightshade nodded, Yes, Lyta lives, Xhosa relaxed but only for a moment.

“Sa-mo-ke?”

Nightshade nodded toward a group of warriors. In the middle, eyes alert and hands energetic, stood Sa-mo-ke.

She sighed with relief. Pan-do’s Lead Warrior was also Nightshade’s greatest supporter outside of the People. When he first arrived, Sa-mo-ke spent Moons mimicking her Lead Warrior’s fighting techniques until his skill became almost as formidable as Nightshade’s with one critical difference. While Nightshade liked killing, Sa-mo-ke did so only when necessary.

Nightshade motioned, “Escape came at a tremendous cost, Xhosa. Many died, the rafts were destroyed, and we are now stranded in an unfamiliar land filled with nameless threats.”

It doesn’t matter, she whispered to herself. We are good at migrating.

She jerked her head around, and then motioned, “Where’s Spirit?”

The loyal wolf had lived with people his entire life. He proved himself often while hunting, defending his packmates, and being a good friend. An image flitted across her mind, Spirit streaking toward the rafts, thrusting his formidable body like a spear through the shocked hordes. The enemy had never seen an animal treat People as pack. Then, the wolf swimming, paws churning the water into whitecaps, gaze locked onto Seeker. Endless Pond was too deep for him to touch the bottom so his head bobbed up and down, feet paddling like a duck’s as he fought to stay above the surface.

Nightshade gestured, “The attackers almost killed Spirit.”

She bit her lip, concentrating. “I remember Mammoth’s trumpets.”

The rare hint of a smile creased his mouth. “Another of Pan-do’s tricks. It saved Spirit and probably all of us. He brayed like a herd of Mammoth thundering toward the shoreline. The invaders fled for their lives.”

Pan-do is clever.

Nightshade grimaced. “But the storm worsened and the rafts foundered. Many of the People managed to cling to logs long enough to crash onto this shore. Then, they saved others. But many died.”

He opened and closed his hands to show how many.

A stillness descended as Nightshade’s gaze filled with a raw emotion he never showed. It shook Xhosa. Nothing frightened her Lead Warrior.

She gulped which hurt her insides. Shallow breaths worked better. Rolling to her hands and knees, she stood which made her head swim and she threw up.

Finally, the dizziness subsided and Xhosa asked, “Hawk?”

Nightshade peered around, hands fidgeting. He examined something on the ground, toed it with his foot. “When the tempest destroyed the rafts, he dragged many to shore, to safety. The last time, he did not return. I tried to find him.”

Soundless tears dampened her face. Nightshade touched her but Xhosa focused on a trail of ants and a worm burrowing into the soft earth. Her vision dimmed and she stumbled, fell, and then crawled, happy for the pain that took her mind off Hawk. When she forced herself up, everything blurred but she inhaled, slowly, and again, until she could finally see clearly.

How dare Hawk die! We had plans. Xhosa shoved those thoughts away. Later was soon enough to deal with them.

“His People—do they know?”

How to get in touch with Jacqui:

Amazon Author Page:        https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                       https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

Thank you, Jacqui, for sharing and we are all sending you sparkly energy for your launch of ‘The Quest for Home‘. ❤

Joy….

There has been a theme lately of form filling and swift learning curves on how organisations run with differing processes and terminology. It reminds me of how some ‘techies’ used to share I.T. knowledge back in the 1980’s. They made it mysterious and confusing, which helped to foster the feeling of it being beyond the grasp of ordinary folk. I recall how annoying that used to be. There are similar threads running between some current social set-ups that are here to help those in need. How vulnerable people, who are facing sharp life changes, are supposed to find their way through all of this is beyond me. I sense there are many falling through the net.

An unexpected wave of paperwork hit this weekend and my sparkle got temporarily buried under the deluge, so I escaped on Sunday teatime to walk the beach.

The Belfast ferry was gliding into port to the ‘pip’ of the Sandpipers merging with the cry of the gulls. The sound of cathedral bells floated across the water, as the sun caught the ripples at low tide and it was peaceful.

I paused to breathe deeply and have a splash at the water’s edge in my wellies (which are flowery).

Driving to Mum and Dad’s yesterday the radio DJ was talking about a choir she had seen at the weekend, on the television show Britain’s Got Talent. I remembered when I returned home and found the clip on YouTube. What follows is seven minutes of joy from Flakefleet Primary School Choir.

Exploring dances…

Photo by Emily Baker…Hoar frost

The beauty of nature moved Em to go outside and explore on Sunday, as it often does.

Recently, I took a leaf out of my own book and re-arranged my ‘happy bubble’ home by the water; de-cluttering every shelf, drawer and cupboard as I went along. This also involved moving furniture as a new writing space was created in front of my bedroom window. A loving friend gifted me a notebook and on the front it says ‘She believed she could, so she did.’ I take it everywhere with me, as I jot down notes for a new writing project that’s coming to life.

This kind of exploring energy has been touching my clients.

There is a raw vulnerability when we enter into another’s private space and it touches everything. I am mindful that it’s not about how I would do things, the suggestions I may make, or how I see situations. Exploring together opens things up so that we can connect and find other ways of daily life flow. Some may fit, some may not, and signs of distress and upset from my clients call for a safe sharing with no labels, judgment or blame. It always touches on the way others see themselves with their inner scripts and beliefs and everyone is different, needing things that are unique to them. Exploring is being invented between us, moment by moment (sometimes with mis-steps in the dance), yet the overall energy is love.

Pictures of my roof garden..

For Shimon ❤

I have put the hydrangeas and bird bath out in the far corners, so I can see them. The other pots are nestled against the wall, giving the plants some protection against the salt wind.

For Christy ❤

For Deborah ❤

For my Mate ❤

It’s a start and I have my eye out for a deckchair now ❤

Nature’s nurture…

Image from Pixabay

Boris came to stay for a few days this week, which was a lovely surprise. He reminded me of the joy of walking outside, listening to the birds and watching Spring come forth. People smile more readily at each other in the sunshine and I have soothed myself with the promise of a walk each day.

I took Boris home yesterday and stayed for a happy seven year old’s birthday celebrations. We were able to play outside and the birthday boy asked for flowers for his birthday. He wanted to know the names of plants in the garden and has also taken to climbing trees. He has the security of knowing that his cries for ‘Help’ will be heard and rescue forthcoming. The boys are now seven and five and their baby cousin is sixteen months old. The three boys sat on a blanket on the grass and chatted together and we sat and watched them and caught up on each other’s news. There is a wonderful freedom for children when they are outside.

A day full of magic moments. ❤

The little one was fractious after lunch and I asked to take him out for some fresh air. I walked us around the garden, as I held him safely in my arms. We took our time and smelt all the flowers and leaves. I put a sprig of lavender and some forget-me-not flowers in his little hand. He is on the cusp of forming words and we chattered away together about the plants and the bird song that filled the space as we pottered around. We found some wind chimes in a tree. He loved it so much, that we went round again. His energy was lighter when we came back in and he carried on chatting away and told his cousins what he had seen. If you hold his hands he walks, otherwise he happily moves around on his bottom in a very fast crawl. He went round telling everyone how he felt, holding up the treasures in his little hand.

The younger ones instinctively know that nature nurtures. ❤

A ‘knowing’ and gratitude for loving links….

dav

Back in New Brighton I am caring for the lovely Bella and on the beach at sunrise this morning there was a display by nature that rooted us to the spot. It was blustery and the sun rose behind dark, rain filled clouds which parted to let the light out. It shone across the watery beach and danced across the clouds in the sky opposite as a rainbow appeared underneath the image of the moon saying goodbye for the day. My heart took a picture and ‘spoke’ to my Mum and my heart buddies. I messaged them all when I got home and one of them, hundreds of miles away, was writing to me at the same time sending a picture of her sunrise.

Loving links. ❤

dav

I am loving the gift of this time with Bella.

We are having such fun together exploring the beach every morning and the hilltop streets in the afternoons. It’s only on foot that you see the detail of our surroundings and have the time to pause and drink it all in. Bella’s joy at chasing her ball and playing tag with all her lovely furry friends down by the water is a daily delight. I am blessed to meet and stroke so many lovely dogs and chat to their Mums and Dads. Bella and I have fallen into a natural rhythm for our days together and we chat away to each other. She nestles by my feet as I write and by my side as I knit and create. One of our favourite things is to sit in her Mum’s study right up at the top of the house and watch the ships and boats out at sea. As she rests on my lap, her little head leans slowly over and it took me a while to realise that she is following the vessels are they sail in and out. There is a tranquillity as we watch the wind in the trees, the birds wheeling and the sea between the chimney tops.

Loving links. ❤

From our favourite spot this morning we listened to a radio podcast of my lovely friends Chris Moran and Glenda Kerney Brown on a show last night. Both lassies write beautiful poetry and deal daily with the rigours of MS. It is a gift to hear them reading their words and feel the love that links across our life webs. Their poetry is a gift that reaches out to those who struggle to express how they feel. It is loving and brave in equal measure to share creativity in this way. Bella's Mum is an author and has recently trained as a poetry therapist. She reaches out to help those in need and here Bella and I sit in her special space, listening to loving creativity, watching nature as she shares her special display.

Loving links. ❤

Magic moments from atop my favourite hill in Gloucestershire….

DSC_1621

Dilly and Amy on a walk in the forest.

It is these dog’s special bond that brought me to Dilly’s five bar gate at the top of the hill back at Easter time. Love flowed and a friendship developed with Dilly’s Mum and Dad, Eddie and Elaine, and they have flowed care ever since. I have been tucked up in their magic home for the last few days.

Magic moments….

Dilly feels she has two main roles in her happy life; one is playing with tennis balls and the other is ‘herding’ the chickens. She can be found resting under trees throughout the day keeping watch over her flock. Every now and then her ministrations get a little too enthusiastic and the hens bat her back with their wings…then peace descends once more. I will hear a ball dropping at my feet as one of the abiding memories of being here. Each evening we all feel the effects of multiple ball throwing and one by one the balls get tucked away and Dilly settles down for an evening cuddle. You cannot say the word ‘balls’ within her hearing after this has happened and Eddie made us all laugh when he came in the other evening enquiring ‘Have the sphericals gone to bed yet?’. Dilly was fast asleep last night when I was heard to comment that I had spent the week sitting on balls.

Hepsibar is a poorly hen right now and giving her some tonic and vitamins is important. I usually find her in the silver birch tree memorial garden and we have a chat whilst she takes her ‘get well soon’ treats. This morning she pottered into the kitchen to say thank you.

I collected some things from my car the morning after I had arrived and felt him, before I saw him. It was Rocky, the lovely big boy of a horse, that I cared for at Easter. He was lunching in a neighbour’s field with Lizzie his buddy. I looked up to see him quietly watching me over the gate. I walked over and put my nose to his and wrapped my arms around his neck. We stood for ages breathing together.

Eddie is so talented as a musician and we are blessed to have him play the piano to ‘us girls’ as we go about our evening tasks. I was delighted to hear the Star Trek and Thunderbirds theme tunes. Another abiding memory will be Eddie bounding into the front room doorway late one night saying ‘I have just composed a new piece, do you want to come and listen?’ ‘You do don’t you? Yes, you do?’ He was bouncing from one foot to the other and Elaine, Dilly and I went down to his studio and were privileged to hear his latest piece for the flute. Beautiful.

Showering and looking out of the window onto the little lane and forest the other morning, I was surprised to see the postman in his van drive slowly past . Though not as surprised as he was….he’s young, he’ll recover!

I knelt down yesterday at the edge of the forest and chatted to a two year old toddler about all the leaves he had picked up and the shapes they made. His Mum took him home to help him make a picture with them all.

Friends I made at Easter have been hugged, new friends have been made as we have walked the dogs in the forest, special animals have been cuddled, fresh eggs have been collected and the house has been warmed with the smell of baking, the full moon has been watched, blue skies have been celebrated, sunshine has been welcomed and fresh air has been breathed. Magic moments have been tucked away in a heart that overflows.



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