Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Category: Giveaways

People are crazy

Earlier today, I looked at posts on a neighborhood group I belong to and one of them caught my eye. One of the members found themselves with a change of circumstance that would require them to be away from home for days at a time. Because of that, the OP decided the best thing to do was try to rehome their beloved dog. You could tell from what the OP posted that this was not an easy decision nor was it one made in haste. In fact, the only reason they came to the mailing group was because the new home that had been found for the dog had fallen through.

Imagine if you will how difficult it must have been then for the OP to suddenly be barraged with a series of messages telling them what a horrible person they were for “getting rid of” their dog. The OP was condemned for not treating the dog as one would a child in the same situation. It isn’t as if the OP was turning the dog into the local shelter or pound. Instead, the OP was trying to find a loving home for the dog.

But that wasn’t good enough for these rabid folks who wouldn’t hear any of his very reasonable explanations. They mocked him when he tried discussing how difficult the decision had been to make and how he made it only with the best interest of the dog in mind. These people who didn’t know him or his circumstance decided it was their place to condemn him for doing what I hope most of us would do — consider what was best for the dog.

This wasn’t a case where he grew tired of the animal or the responsibilities of being a dog owner. He knew he wouldn’t be there to care for the dog, to give it the love he needed. He is a supporter of different animal charities. He worried about where this dog he had cared for for so long would go and if his new owners would love him as he had.

He wasn’t going to turn him into a kill shelter.

Now, I’m an animal lover. I grew up with animals and have always had at least one animal and usually more than that at any time. Right now, I have a dog and two cats and, when my old lady cat dies, I will get another animal, if not two more. But I also hope that I have the integrity this gentleman had to look at what is best for the animals and not what will make me feel best should there come a time when I have a change in circumstances.

What I wanted to do was ask these idiots who attacked the dog owner what they thought about how I came into possession of my dog. He, along with one other dog, had been in a retiree’s home. Their owner could no longer live on his own and had to give up both dogs when he moved to a care facility. The dogs finally found their way to a rescue group that brought them to the Metroplex from Oklahoma. I would have adopted both of them but one was adopted not five minutes before I arrived at the adoption fair. But they were given up and it quickly became clear the dogs were companion dogs. Even now, more than a year after we adopted Bentley, he has to be with one of us whenever he is awake. He is happiest when he is touching someone.

His owner could have just turned him in to a kill shelter instead of placing him with a group that would get them with another rescue group that would not only foster the dogs but keep them until a new home could be found. Still, under the approach of the rabid idiots on the mailing list, Bentley’s original owner shouldn’t have taken action to move to a care facility that wouldn’t let him keep the dogs. No reason was good enough in their eyes to justify giving up a pet.

Sorry, but if your circumstances change where you can’t care for an animal the way you should, the only responsible thing to do is find them a new, loving home. I applaud the fellow who made the very difficult decision not to let his dag stay home alone for days on end, or to be boarded for days on end. I feel for him and am glad he has found a new home for his dog.

As for those who attacked him, I hope they never find themselves having to make similar decisions. Or, if they do, I hope they remember every word of condemnation they threw out so easily and seek out this gentleman and offer him their abject apologies. Not that they will. Those who are so sure of themselves rarely admit they might have been in error.

Now I think I’ll play with Bentley Dog and make sure to give the cats, Thena and BratCat, a scritch or three.

Writer’s Life and an Announcement

I love being a writer. For as long as I can remember, this is what I wanted to do. Oh, it went through different variations. At one point, I wanted to write for Hollyweird (I was very young). At another, I wanted to follow the family tradition and become a journalist. Then I realized that I had, for as long as I could remember, made up stories, not just for my own entertainment but for that of my friends and family as well.

For a very long time, starting back in grade school, I wrote stories. They’d be called fanfic today. As I got older, I realized I could use my imagination and make up my own worlds and characters and write about them. I’ve blogged before about how my cousin Clarice, God rest her soul, encouraged me to do just that. She told me the story of her father, my Great-Uncle Herb, who wanted to be a playwright. He wrote two plays — she gave me one of them, one Uncle Herb labored over his typewriter to produce — and copyrighted them. But then life happened and he decided making sure his family had food on the table and a roof over their heads was more important. Even so, he never lost his love of writing and one part of him regretted that he hadn’t been able to pursue his dream.

Had he been born later, at a time where he could take advantage of the opportunities writers have to go indie, that might have been different. I don’t know. All I know is Clarice’s words stuck with me. Even as I slogged through jobs I hated, I always did my best to find time to write. Oh, it wasn’t every day but when I could scratch out the time, I did.

So let’s fast-forward to today. Writing and freelance editing are my main sources of income now. I love it. Sure, I bitch about editing from time to time but that’s when I’m having to edit my own work. I know very few authors who are good at editing and proofing their short stories and novels. You see, we know what is supposed to be on the page and our brain thinks it sees it. That’s why we have editors and proofreaders, not to mention beta readers, to help us out.

We know we’ve done our jobs when we start seeing reviews going up on Amazon or elsewhere and when we see comments on social media or get emails telling us how much someone has liked our work. We tend to worry — okay, obsess and fret and threaten to never write again for whatever reason — when the reviews are slow to come. It’s hard to remember that not everyone who buys our work is going to run out and review it.

So here’s the thing, folks, I’m looking for reviews. What I’m considering, as a way of not only jostling a few elbows in hopes of getting folks who have read my work to go post a review on Amazon but to also bring in a few new readers, is a giveaway. I’m still working out the details and will announce them in the next day or two. So, there is your reason to check back here from time to time. I have the basic idea in mind — post a review for one of my books, send me the link and I will send you a free copy of one of my other titles. But, as I said, I need to work out the details. So, more to come.

Until then, let a writer know you appreciate their work. Writers need virtual pats on the back too.

Indie Author Beginning of Summer Sale

Need something new to read for the long weekend? Looking for a new series to start or want to discover a new author? Check out the following e-books. Of course, the standard disclaimer applies. Always check the price before clicking the purchase button. Some of these books are already on sale and others will go on sale over the next 24 hours. (Updated to include two new titles.)




By Dave Freer

On sale for $2.99

The Interstellar Empire of Man was built on the enslavement of the gentle Stardogs, companions and Theta-space transporters of the vanished Denaari Dominion. But the Stardogs that humans found can’t go home to breed, and are slowly dying out.

As the ruthless Empire collapses from its rotten core outward, an Imperial barge is trapped on top of a dying Stardog when an attempted hijacking and assassination go horribly wrong. Trying to save its human cargo, the Stardog flees to the last place anyone expected – the long-lost Denaari motherworld.

Crawling from the crash are the Leaguesmen who control the Stardogs’ pilots by fear and force, and plan to assassinate Princess Shari, the criminal Yak gang, who want to kill everyone and take control of a rare Stardog for their own, and an entourage riddled with plots, poisons, and treason. But Shari and her assassin-bodyguard have plans of their own…


Sword And Blood (Vampire Musketeer Book 1)

By Sarah Hoyt

The France of the Musketeers has changed. Decades ago, someone opened a tomb in Eastern Europe, and from that tomb crawled an ancient horror, who in turn woke others of its kind.
Now Paris is beset by vampires, the countryside barren and abandoned. The Cardinal has become a vampire, the church is banned, the king too cowed to fight.
Until now, the three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis have stood as a bulwark against the encroaching evil, their swords defending the innocent and helpless.
But last night, in a blood mass, Athos was turned into a Vampire. And a young vampire orphan has just arrived from Gascony: Monsieur D’Artagnan.
Things are about to get… complicated.


Death of a Musketeer (Musketeers Mysteries Book 1)

by Sarah Hoyt

When D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis discover the corpse of a beautiful woman who looks like the Queen of France, they vow to see that justice is done. They do not know that their investigation will widen from murder to intrigue to conspiracy, bring them the renewed enmity of Cardinal Richelieu and shake their fate in humanity. Through duels and doubts, they pursue the truth, even when their search brings them to the sphere of King Louis XIII himself and makes them confront secrets best forgotten.


Ill Met By Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)

by Sarah Hoyt

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill.

Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)

by Sarah Hoyt

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.


by Sarah Hoyt

From Elizabethan England to the Far Future, discover who really was Shakespeare and why Marlowe was called The Muses Darling. Discover the horrifying secret that Leonardo DaVinci found beneath a cave in his home village. In the far future, find a new way to keep Traveling, Traveling. Use cold sleep to find your love again, and join the (high tech) Magical Legion.
Seventeen short stories from Prometheus Award Winning Author, Sarah A. Hoyt. This edition features an Introduction by Dave Freer and a Bonus Short Story “With Unconfined Wings.”



Burnout: the mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281

By Stephanie Osborn

On sale for 99 cents.

Burnout is a science fiction mystery about a Space Shuttle disaster that turns out to be no accident. As the true scope of the disaster is gradually uncovered by the principal investigators, “Crash” Murphy and Dr. Mike Anders, they find themselves running for their lives, as lovers, friends and coworkers involved in the investigation perish around them. What happened to the Shuttle? Who is responsible and why? Why is the government calling it an accident? Why is someone willing to kill to keep it a secret? And how big is the conspiracy?


The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival

By Stephanie Osborn

Displaced Detective is a science fiction mystery in which brilliant hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities, often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, finds Continuum 114, where Sherlock Holmes was to have died along with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Knee-jerking, Skye rescues Holmes, who inadvertently flies through the wormhole to our universe, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to go back without causing devastating continuum collapse, Holmes must stay in our world and adapt.

Meanwhile, the Schriever AFB Dept of Security discovers a spy ring working to dig out the details of – and possibly sabotage – Project: Tesseract.

Can Chadwick help Holmes come up to speed in modern investigative techniques in time to stop the spies? Will Holmes be able to thrive in our modern world? Is Chadwick now Holmes’ new “Watson” – or more?

And what happens next?


Tales from the Uplands

By Alma Boykin


Uncanny things haunt the high country, where mountains bring justice and men tell mysterious tales. A place where churches seek the lost and deadly forces lurk below the peaks.

Contains eight short stories drawn from locations and legends of Central Europe, including the Drachenberg version of a famous folk-tale, and an excerpt from the next Cat Among Dragons novel.


Four Dragon Tales

By Alma Boykin

New Release!

If dragons walked the earth . . .

From a missing hiker (with really bad taste) in the Appalachians to WYRD and Drako’s Dark Roast all-night show, to a water-expert with a talon-t for trouble, and a search for justice, this quartet of stories explore life in a world where dragons and humans live side-by-side.

Short story set, 15,000 words.

Mischief, murder, mayhem, and music to rock the night away!


The Scent of Metal (Argonauts of Space Book 1)

By Sabrina Chase

On Sale for $1.99

The expedition ship Kepler races to Pluto, intent on uncovering the secrets of the alien structure recently discovered under the ice. Computer scientist Lea Santorin can’t wait to figure out the alien technology. Instead, she wakes it up … and it continues its long-interrupted journey across the galaxy, taking Lea and Kepler with it.



By Sabrina Chase

On Sale for $0.99

Young Jin survives on his own in the streets of Thama, using his wits and climbing skills to find food and shelter. On a bitterly cold night, desperate to avoid freezing, he enters the burned wreckage of a long-abandoned warehouse searching for anything of value. Searching despite the danger—for the warehouse once belonged to jinxers, and no one knows how their magic works…or how long it remains. Jin discovers a beautiful crystal sphere in the ashes—and suddenly finds himself transported to the desert world of Darha.

His foreign appearance immediately brands him an outsider, and he must rely on his Darha friends to conceal him from the mysterious rulers of the local fort. But Jin must face the fort’s dangers—for inside may lie the key to his return to Thama…and the key to his own hidden magic powers.


Hunted (Hunter’s Moon Book 1)

By Ellie Ferguson


When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what. Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?


Take The Star Road (The Maxwell Saga Book 1)

By Peter Grant

On Sale from May 28-30

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…


Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1)

By Amanda S. Green


Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.


Ninth Euclid’s Prince

By Daniel M. Hoyt

Welcome to New Rome!

The far-flung heirs of the empire have been called home to the capital of worlds. In these mean streets, no wife is above suspicion, and no man above assassination. With the Emperor poisoned and prince Oswald in jail, Ninth Euclid, a mathematically gifted secretary from a rural backwater, must solve the knottiest problem of all: How will he keep his liege lord safe from daggers in the back and politically scheming trollops in the night?


Cat’s Paw (King of Cats Book 1)

By Robert A. Hoyt

Many humans know there is a mountain at the end of the universe to which a bird flies every thousand years to sharpen its beak, until the end of the mountain comes, and thus the end of eternity. What few of them know is that of the mountain only a few small grains of sand remain. And the bird that is to end eternity is alive and ready to fly. At half past noon at the end of the universe, the last great hopes of everything that exists, ever existed or has yet to exist, rests with a stray cat with alcohol issues, a Siamese cat with gender issues, and a Persian cat with pregnancy issues. Things are just about to get fun.


Ratskiller (King of Cats)

By Robert A. Hoyt

… Long before the bird reared its ugly beak, there was beer. And lots of it.

In the humble world of alley cats, Tom has everything he needs: interesting enemies, a long list of girl cats who’d like to scratch his eyes out, and enough beer to make sure his repressed memories and his mysterious destiny stay repressed.

Until Wild Rat microbrewery shuts down.

To restore his favorite beer to its former glory, Tom will have to fight prissy bureaucrats, streetwise alley cats, and Broxton’s most barbaric rats. And behind it all, an evil so great that even Broxton’s most hardened rodents dare not squeak of it.


ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)

By Kate Paulk

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any conventional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.


Pixie Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 1)

By Cedar Sanderson

$0.99 from May 27-30

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…


Memories of the Abyss

By Cedar Sanderson

Free from May 27-30

Violet is trapped in the prison of her own mind. Her body is dwelling in the insane asylum, but when her friend Walter is killed, she must make a decision to avenge his death, or stay safely locked in her own broken soul. He’d drawn her out of her shell, and she finds she still has honor left… But will anyone believe the crazy woman?


While not on sale this weekend, I do want to remind everyone that Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is now available.

 Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3)

By Sam Schall

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

Why not take responsibility?

As noted in my previous post, I’m blogging at According to Hoyt today. I knew when I wrote the post that there would be those who disagreed with me. That’s fine. I’m a big girl and can take my lumps. Hell, I enjoy having a good debate with someone because I might learn something. But it is those who dig their heels in, put on their blinders and refuse to admit that they might be wrong about something that get to me — not just on the topic of police but on any topic.

But where I really find myself shaking my head and smiling is when those same folks are talking about taking personal responsibility or forcing responsibility on others and yet they don’t have the stones to use their own name when commenting. Oh, I know all the excuses: they are afraid of being bullied, they are afraid the cops (or whatever group they are condemning) will target them, they are afraid of what their employers/family/whatever will say.

I guess I was raised differently from those folks. I was taught that if you have an opinion and feel strongly enough about it that you must speak up, you need to own that opinion. You should hold it close and be proud of it. I find it difficult to take someone seriously when they won’t do the same.

But that’s just me and that is my mini-rant for the morning.

Borders wants more & Royalties Revisited

What would a Friday be without the weekly (I know, sometimes daily and hourly) update on the Borders bankruptcy?

Bloomberg reported yesterday that Borders wants to find $50 million more in financing.  Mind you, this is in addition to the more than $500 million debtor-in-possession loan it has already secured.  The reason?  Because they aren’t selling as much as they’d forecast.  Gee, imagine that.  Have a bad business plan — oh wait, they haven’t filed their new business plan/restructuring plan with the bankruptcy court yet — and close a third of your stores and threaten the close of even more and your sales go down.  Who’d have thunk it?

Bitter?  You bet.  I love bookstores.  The Borders nearest to where I live is one of those closing, despite the fact the store was posting a profit.  Some very good folks have lost their jobs even as Borders was asking for permission to pay its executives millions in bonuses.  Sorry, I don’t believe in rewarding folks who aren’t getting the job done while punishing those who are.

Any way, there’s a lot of subtext in the Bloomberg article.  How much is true, I can’t say.  I expect a lot of it.  Unfortunately, I can’t even say I’m surprised.  This is a company that should have seen the writing on the wall more than two years ago and either didn’t or failed to do anything about it.  Now they want publishers and other suppliers to trust that they’ll pay their bills — after already proving before the bankruptcy filing that they won’t.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s time for them to prove they have a clue by filing their new business plan/reorganization plan instead of holding their hand out for more money while telling their creditors to bend over and trust them not to kick them in the rear again.

On another front, Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a follow-up to her post about royalty statements.  I wrote about the original article earlier this week.  As I said then, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Rusch yet, but I have been following her blog for quite awhile now and I urge every writer and small press publisher/editor to do the same.

These two articles by Ms. Rusch point out problems I’ve heard about from writer friends for a long time.  No one has really rocked the boat because traditional publishing was the only game in town.  Now, however, with the advent of the Amazon KDP program as well as Barnes and Noble’s PubIt program, authors now have an alternative.  Throw in the growth of small press e-publishers and, well, the landscape is changing.

I won’t try to paraphrase what Ms. Rusch says in her articles.  Instead, I suggest you read them and the comments that follow.  Then, if you are traditionally published, check your royalty statements.  If you have access to your Bookscan numbers, look at them and compare them to what your statements say you sold.  Then, if you feel there is an under-reporting of your sales by your publisher, report it to your professional organizations and urge them to take action.

One last note.  Over at Mad Genius Club, there’s a writing prompt contest going on.  The winner will receive their choice of two titles from NRP, including Chris McMahon’s upcoming novella Flight of the Phoenix.  Go check it out.  You have until 0600 EST Sunday to get your entries in.

(Cross-posted to The Naked Truth.)

And the winner is. . .

For the giveaway of a digital copy of Nocturnal Origins….

Drum roll please.

Larry Atchley, Jr.

Larry, drop me an email or leave me a message here with the email you want the book sent to and what format (epub, mobi, lit, lrf or pdf) you’d prefer.

Nocturnal Origins — Free Giveaway

Looking at the cover image of Nocturnal Origins, I still can’t believe it. Finally, after a very long time, it’s being published. Mixed with the excitement is more than a little bit of fear. What if no one likes it? What if no one, not even family and friends, buys it? That’s like everyone saying your baby is ugly. Why, oh why, did I agree when the bosses came to me and said they’d made the decision to publish it without discussing it with me because they knew I would say no?

Okay, hysterics aside, or at least pushed down a bit. These really are the questions I’ve been asking myself since Origins came out the other day. Part of the reason is this is my first novel to be published. But it’s more than that. Every author has that one novel or short story that is special. The one that just sings to them and never quite leaves the back of their mind. It’s the world that keeps on living and has more stories to tell than you will ever be able to write. Origins is that for me.

In a lot of ways, this book came about because of a challenge from Sarah. She’ll be the first to tell you that she had to drag it out of me, painfully and with much protestations and denials, that I was a writer. But she did it, at first by trickery and cajoling and then by downright demands and threats. Finally, worn down, I admitted that I did “write a little”. Well, that was it. The next thing I knew, she had somehow convinced me to send her something I’d written. From there it was exercises and plot discussions and, well, the next thing I knew, Origins was born.

I’ll admit here, this is a blatant post promoting the book. Why? Because that’s what authors do — or should do. Also because I’m really proud of the book and hope folks buy it and like it and tell their friends about it. So, along that same line, keep reading to find out how to win a free digital copy of the book.

So, what is Nocturnal Origins? It’s an urban fantasy mixed with mystery mixed with police procedural mixed with just a hint of romance. It is not, as a friend said, lady porn — not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’ve read more than my fair share of it 😉

I posted a snippet of Origins back in January. You can find it here.

Here’s a snippet from later in the book.

* * *
Deep shadows swathed the neighborhood as night slowly crept toward day. The pre-dawn silence was broken by the occasional passing car or the lonesome bark of a dog left outside by owners still safely tucked away in their beds. So normal and seemingly so safe.
And so prime for the taking.

The large cat moved silently as a wraith as it kept to the deepest shadows. It avoided the occasional splash of light thrown off by street lamps along the edge of the road. The jaguar prowled the well-manicured lawns, a cat on the hunt. This might not be the jungle it longed for, but this was the jaguar’s territory. Nothing else mattered.

A padding step behind her brought her to a stop. Her head swung in the direction of the sound, teeth bared even as she scented…him. A soft growl sounded in her throat. At the same time he stepped into the light cast by the nearest street lamp. For a moment, it was as if he called to her.

No! How dare he intrude on her territory?

He took a step forward and she bared her teeth, another growl cutting the silence of the night even as her ears folded back against her head. Undeterred, he moved even closer. How dare he! Her heavy paw darted out, barely missing his head as he pulled back, surprise reflected in his brown eyes.

To her surprise, he tried again to approach her. Maybe he was a bit more wary. Not that it mattered. Her guttural challenge came a mere split-second before her paw slashed forward, claws bared.

How dare he think he could intrude on her territory, hunt her prey! Such a foolish male. Just like all of them. Just because they are larger, they think they are the masters. Well, she’d shown him. She’d shown that she wouldn’t meekly let him usurp her rightful place. The fight might have been short but it had been brutal and he’d slunk off into the shadows to lick his wounds, leaving her to her hunt at her pleasure.

Foolish, pitiful male.

A porch light switched on down the street, and the cat froze, melting into the shadows. Its head lifted, and surprisingly deep green eyes, eyes that seemed more human than feline, scanned the area even as the jaguar stood poised for flight. Finally satisfied no danger awaited, it continued on the prowl.

A few moments later, the jaguar paused once more. Its large head swung from side to side, something nearly a smile parting its lips to show a set of very deadly teeth. What good hunting could be had here. So many unsuspecting humans with their pampered, overfed pets. Yet, while it might be enticing, it wasn’t sport. Not when the pets were penned like sheep awaiting the slaughter. Too bad, especially since the jaguar craved the joy of the hunt, a real hunt, that night. She hungered for the thrill of the kill, for the taste of fresh meat.

From somewhere down the street a dog, safe inside its fenced backyard, barked a challenge. As other dogs picked up the call, the jaguar once more bared its teeth in something that looked suspiciously like a grin. Such foolish creatures, these dogs. Brave as long as they were behind their fences with their humans close by. But so easy to silence.

A harsh growl sounded, low and rumbling. Almost instantly, the dogs quieted. The cat shook its head. They presented no challenge. It was time to move on and find more worthy prey.

Then, without warning, the silence of the night was shattered. A bolt of lightning streaked across the sky followed almost instantly by an ominous roll of thunder. Barking once more filled the air as dogs up and down the street clamored to get inside to safety.

A few moments later the first large raindrops slashed to the ground. Unlike most cats, the jaguar didn’t race for shelter. Instead, it waited, listening, watching. Then it crouched, muscles gathering before it leapt into deeper shadows at the edge of the trees. It was time to move on, to find a better hunting ground.
To find food.

* * *

The steady drip-drip-drip slowly penetrated the fog that held her. Consciousness returned and with it a paralyzing fear. Whatever had happened, she wasn’t lying on her bed, huddled under the blankets. Nor was she safe inside her house. Somehow she was outside, and that couldn’t be good.

Eyes tightly shut, she prayed it was all a dream. But it wasn’t. She knew it just as she knew the cold seeping into her bones was leaching the last of the warmth from her body. If she didn’t get up soon, she would be in real trouble.

Mac’s mind wailed in fear as reality sank in. She lay cold, wet, and completely nude in a puddle of water. Mud oozed between her fingers as she struggled to gather enough strength to climb to her knees. After twice trying to rise only to fall back to the ground like a helpless kitten, she knew she had to open her eyes, no matter what she might find. But she didn’t want to. Once she did, she’d be forced to face the truth. Something had happened, something she couldn’t remember, and she had a very sick feeling it was nothing good.

Why do these things keep happening to me?

Slowly, terrified of what she might find, Mac opened her eyes. Almost immediately, relief washed over her. She lay in her own backyard, safe – she hoped – from the prying eyes of her nearest neighbors.

That much, at least, reassured her. Nothing else did. Aches and pains too numerous to count spoke volumes about what she’d been though these last few hours – days? Worse, she had no idea, no memory of what had happened. How the hell had she wound up here? Had she been attacked again?

Or was it worse?

Could it be worse?

Swallowing hard against a sore, dry throat, she once more tried to push to her knees. A gasp of pain was torn from her, breaking the silence of the new dawn like a scream. Instinctively, she clamped her mouth shut and swallowed again, this time against the nausea that caused her stomach to pitch dangerously.

She most definitely was not in good shape.

Not daring to try to stand, Mac slowly crawled across the waterlogged grass toward the house. Never before had the yard seemed so large or taken so long to cross. Perspiration from the effort mixed with the rain, chilling her even more. Tears tracked down her cheeks as she forced herself to climb the three steps to the back porch on her hands and knees.

Sobbing in relief to have gotten that far, she paused. Part of her wanted to collapse where she was. She didn’t have the strength to go any further. She could just lie there and rest awhile. There was nothing wrong with that. Then she could go inside. That would be all right, wouldn’t it?

No! She couldn’t stay there. No matter how badly she wanted to, she couldn’t. Not when she was so cold and wet. Not when she had no idea how she had gotten out there in the first place. She had to find the strength to go inside. She had to. But how?

Placing one hand in front of the other, she dragged her now almost unresponsive body across the wooden porch to the door. Those few short feet seemed an almost insurmountable distance. Every movement hurt. Every breath felt as if it might be her last. Despair threatened to drown her as she collapsed and looked up at the doorknob. That shiny brass fixture seemed so far away. Could she reach it?

She had to reach it.

Please let it be open. Please.

Mac repeated it over and over like a mantra as her arm stretched upward towards the knob. Numb fingers touched and then slid off the cold metal. Biting her lower lip to keep from crying out, she once more reached up. Her eyes locked on her hand. Her focus narrowed to her fingers. Nothing else existed in the world in that moment except her fingers, the doorknob and her need to get inside.

Shaking from the effort, Mac willed her numb fingers to close around the smooth metal globe. Time slowed, seeming to almost stop. Then, miracle of miracles, the knob turned.

With the last of her strength, she pushed the door open and tumbled headfirst inside, landing in heap on the tile floor just inside. Slithering forward on her belly, she pulled her legs inside and kicked the door shut. She was safe. Finally. Her kitchen. Her house. Safe.

* * *

I hope you enjoyed the snippet. You can find Nocturnal Origins at Naked Reader Press or at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. And, as with all NRP books, Origins is DRM free.

If you’re interested in winning a free digital copy of the book — your choice of formats (epub, mobi, lit, lrf) — leave a comment. You can comment on this post or about the state of the publishing industry in general. Just remember the rules — no politics. I’ll pick a winner tomorrow morning and post the winner. So keep checking back.

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