Nocturnal Lives

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

Tag: Nocturnal Challenge (Page 1 of 2)

Time to get to work

I think that’s the question most writers have asked themselves at one time or another. It usually isn’t because we have no ideas but because we have too many. We might be in the middle of writing one book when the idea for another suddenly pops into our head. We might have finished one book and be ready to start another, only to have a chorus of plots and characters all singing — or screaming and yelling — for our attention. It doesn’t matter what the schedule is, all too often there is the pull of another story that wants to be written.

I find myself in that position right now. It’s not new. Those of you who follow this blog, or who read Mad Genius Club, know that very same thing happened during the course of writing Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3). I had to stop for a couple of weeks and pound out Slay Bells Ring because the book simply wouldn’t be quiet long enough for me to finish Honor. Now I am trying to write Dagger of Elanna, the follow-up to Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1). I know the basic plot. I know the twists and turns it needs to take. I have characters I love — and who I love to torture (hey, I’m a writer. It’s what I do.). Instead of being able to focus on swords and a bit of sorcery, I have spaceships and the dead rising, but not as zombies or vampires, a local witch and more than one mystery to solve. And no, that’s not all one book — thankfully.

I have Skeletons in the Closet wanting to be finished. It wouldn’t take much but it is a voice and head-space I’m not ready to get into right now. The main reason is because the voice is so different from everything else that I wouldn’t be able to work on any other project at the same time. So I am trying to tell Lexie and company to give me another six weeks and then I’ll give them my undivided attention.

I also have the new title in the Honor and Duty series — no, not Victory from Ashes, the next in the series. This is the standalone short story or novella I’ve discussed writing as a reward for all of you who stuck with me during last week’s Amazon snafu. While I love the series and characters, I wasn’t prepared for the number of ideas that have been coming to me as possibilities. I need a little time to figure out which one — or ones — will work best in helping shape the characters.

Then there is Mackenzie Santos and her friends. Mac is standing in my mind, tapping one booted foot, telling me it is time to write her next book. After all, I’ve put out two novels since Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4). She’s been patient. Shouldn’t I reward her for that?

Okay, she isn’t being quite that nice about it. She is rather demanding, in fact. And oh the look she gives me when I remind her that I hadn’t planned on writing Slay Bells, so it doesn’t count.

In other words, this is another typical Monday morning in this writer’s life. What is really going to happen is I get to play catch up today. I need to do a follow-up email to my contact at Amazon, letting her know that the problems continued to exist for some of you through the weekend. Then I need to finish putting together print files for several of my books already out in e-book format. Then I need to do some yard work and clean house. Oh, somewhere in there, I must find more coffee and food. If I forget the latter, no biggie but nothing will get done without the former.

Then and only then will I be able to sit down and write. Yes, it will be Dagger of Elanna. But I am also plotting out Victory from Ashes as well as the untitled short story/novella in that same universe. Once that is done, I will finish Skeletons (which shouldn’t take more than another week or so). Then it will be the next Mac Santos book.

And who said writing wasn’t a real job?

The sun, it burns

Like many this morning, I look out the window and groan as the sun peeks over the horizon. No, I didn’t party too hearty yesterday. I’m just not a morning person. Add to that the fact I finished the rough draft for Skeletons in the Closet Saturday and my brain is still a bit fried. So, with the exception of going to my critique group yesterday, I took the day off. I will probably take it a bit easy today, re-reading Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1) and Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2) in preparation for starting the final edit round on Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) , the third book in that series.

What surprised me with Skeletons is how the book wound up playing out.

When I first started writing it, and I will admit the first chapter hit paper a couple of years ago and then the project was shuffled to the back burner, I didn’t know where it was going. That’s the main reason I let other projects go ahead of is. I dusted it off when I needed something light and something I thought I could simply put aside again while I got my head into the right space to finish the edits for Duty. What I didn’t expect was that Lexie, Granny and company would demand I finish the book.

More surprising was where this book ended. My novels generally run in the 80k – 120k word range, depending on genre. Skeletons hit its natural ending around 40k words. That means, after final edits, it will come in somewhere around 50k words (there are those pesky little details and descriptions that need to be added in, as well as a couple of scenes that need to be fleshed out). However, that wasn’t the only surprise the book presented to me.

Oh no. Not at all. Whether my evil muse — Myrtle, in case you forgot her name — took inspiration from my posts last week about how books become series or what, the natural ending point for Skeletons isn’t the end of the story. Not by a long shot.


So, unless I want to fight the muse, I have just found myself with another series. At least this one has a very clear ending and will only be one more book (okay, maybe two. Myrtle the Must is evil, remember.) Now, what this means is that the title of this first book will change. Skeletons in the Closet will be the series title. What the new title will be, I’m not sure — yet. Unfortunately, Myrtle is saying I haven’t had enough coffee — even if it is Death Wish Whole Bean Coffee, The World’s Strongest Coffee, Fair Trade and USDA Certified Organic – 16 Ounce Bag — to wake her up.

With Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) coming out in April (and it is available for pre-order now), I’m not sure I will get Skeletons #1 out before then. I am going to try, but I don’t want to rush either book. So, I guess this is my way of saying I will keep everyone in the loop.

In the meantime, check out Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4).

The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.

If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.

What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.

For a change of pace, if you enjoy a little bit of romance with your suspense, or a little bit of suspense with your romance, check it out Slay Bells Ring.

Fifteen years ago, Juliana Grissom left Mossy Creek in her rear view mirror. She swore then she would never return for more than a day or two at a time. But even the best laid plans can go awry, something she knew all too well, especially when her family was involved.

Now she’s back and her family expects her to find some way to clear her mother of murder charges. Complicating her life even further is Sam Caldwell, the man she never got over. Now it seems everyone in town is determined to find a way to keep her there, whether she wants to stay or not.

Bodies are dropping. Gossip is flying and Juliana knows time is running out. After all, holidays can be murder in Mossy Creek.

Snippets for Skeletons in the Closet will continue through this week and then I will start snippeting Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3).

When a book becomes a series — Nocturnal Lives

Yesterday, I started a series of posts on how I wound up writing four different series at once. It wasn’t something I did by plan. It just happened. You see, my muse is an evil creature who likes to torment me by enticing me with one book and then, as that book nears its end, letting me know that it really is just the beginning. The first time it happened, I figured it was a fluke. Boy was I wrong.

The first time it happened was with Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1). That book was born out of the desire to write a police procedural/mystery but with a supernatural element to it. Unlike so many urban fantasies and paranormal romances, the existence of shapeshifters was not known to the public-at-large. The main character, Mackenzie Santos, thought they were nothing more than things of bad Hollywood movies. Even after she is attacked one night and “died”, only to wake up in the morgue several hours later — almost scaring the poor morgue attendant to death in the process — she didn’t think she was anything more than lucky. Then, when she started waking in locations different from where she went to sleep, and without any clothes on, she wondered if she was losing her mind. Even when she realizes that she is turning furry and there are others like her, she’s not completely sure it isn’t all some madness induce nightmare.

But through it all, she has a duty to perform. A serial killer is hunting on the streets of Dallas and it’s her job to find him before he can kill again. When that serial killer turns out to be another shapeshifter, well, life just go real.

When I first finished Origins, indie publishing hadn’t really taken off. So I went the way so many authors have over the years. I sent it off to agents and publishers. There were the usual rejections. They hurt. No one likes hearing their baby isn’t beloved by all. But there were others who were interested. However, they always had something they wanted done to the book, something I wasn’t willing to do. One wanted more sex. Even then, this particular editor felt that if you had a shapeshifter, sex had to play a prominent role in the book, whether it progressed the plot or not. It didn’t matter that Mac had more than enough on her plate just trying to come to terms with what she had become. The last thing she needed just then was to get involved with someone. Another editor wanted me to completely rewrite the book, going from third person limited to first person point of view. Everything else was just fine. All I had to do was make that one “minor” change. Not only no but hell no because there was no guarantee of a contract after making such a drastic change.

Long story short, I brought Origins out with a small press and later, when the rights reverted back to me, I re-released it. Not once have I regretted those decisions.

However, once Origins was finished and I started trying to shop it around, I realized that Mac’s story was far from over. All I had done woith Origins was bring her to the point where she was beginning to accept what she was. But there were a number of questions raised in it that still needed to be explored and answered. That’s how Nocturnal Serenade (Nocturnal Lives Book 2) was born.

Yes, it was still a police procedural. There were still crimes to be investigated and solved. But also introduced Mac’s mother and grandmother, both of whom have a great deal to explain — like why they never told Mac she came from a long line of shapeshifters. This book also gave more of an insight into pride dynamics. In other words, Mac’s world was expanding and that, in and of itself, needed to be told.

Along about this same time, I wrote a novella using Mac and company. While their shifter natures were mentioned and they were able to use some of their enhanced senses, the focus of the story was the crime and solving it. I wanted to see if I could write a police procedural without relying on Mac changing into a jaguar to take down the bad guy. Nocturnal Haunts (Nocturnal Lives) was that novella. It may, at some point in the future, be expanded into a full novel but I’m not sure.

Mac wasn’t done, not by a long shot. One of the main points Mac made in both Origins and Serenade was that their kind had to be more careful now than ever before. In this day and age of smartphones and Youtube and security cameras everywhere, one slip was all it would take for their secret to get out. Add to that the advances in forensics and, sooner rather than later, someone would realize shifters existed. That meant they had to be prepared. Would they allow themselves to become the victims of a modern day witch hunt or would they start preparing the way for them to reveal themselves under their own terms and in such a way a panic didn’t result?

Nocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives Book 3) begins to answer those questions. What neither she nor those closest to her know is that a group of shifters has already started making those inroads. Unfortunately, there is another group with another goal in mind. When their kind goes public, they want it to be in such a way that shifters become the predominate species. That puts the two groups on a crash course and Mac finds herself smack in the middle.

As with the other books in the series, there is a crime to solve. Only this one hits closer to home than ever. At a time when Mac should be celebrating one of the happiest times of her life, she returns home from a well-deserved vacation to discover that her partner and best friend has been abducted. Worse, Pat is only one of several, most of whom Mac knows, who have gone missing while she was gone. If that wasn’t bad enough, she then discovers that her own squad had been ordered not to tell her what happened. Needless to say, Mac is not happy and she is soon digging into what happened.

By the end of the book, she knows more about the two sides than she ever wanted. She also has to make a choice, one that will impact not only herself but those closest to her. She can choose to do what she has advocated all along, that the shifters find a way to ease their way into the public eye or she can sit back and go along with the powers that be. The former is, in her mind, not only the right thing to do but the smart thing. However, it also is a step that doesn’t just toe the line of shifter law but steps over it. But the other would seal the death warrants on an untold number of both shifters and normals. That’s something she can’t do.

Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) is the latest book in the series. It continues the conflict set up in Interlude. Choices are made and there can be no going back. Even as she knows she is doing the only thing she can and still live with herself, Mac wishes things could go back to the way they were before that fateful night of her birthday celebration when she’d been attacked. A nice murder without any sort of supernatural element to it would be great. That’s especially true when it comes to the politics of the job. Screw up there and she could get fired. But screw up shifter politics and she could die.

If Interlude hit close to home, Challenge walks through the door and sets up house. Even as Mac and the others wait to see if Pat and the others who had been kidnapped will survive the injuries inflicted on them by their captors, Mac is faced with trying to keep her family safe. That includes her younger brother and sister. Like their mother, they have not shifted and they don’t really understand the danger they all face. Thinking she knows better than her older sister, mother and grandmother, Abby leaves the safe house and falls into the hands of the enemy. Let’s just say a pissed off big sister who also happens to shift into a jaguar isn’t someone to mess with.

There will be at least one more book in the series. The plot is already talking to me. It is my hope to have it out by the end of the year but it may be the first quarter of next year. In the meantime, the other books are available in digital format from Amazon, with no additional drm added, and can be ordered in print format from most booksellers (note: the last two titles will be available later this month in print format).


I’ve been head down at the keyboard, doing my best to catch up on not only my writing but the editing projects that have been backlogged for much too long. The writing is back on track, fortunately, and the editing is getting there. I’m hopeful that everything will be caught up within the next two weeks.

In the meantime, Slay Bells Ring will be going live for purchase later this week as an e-book. Print copies of it and Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) should be available for purchase near the first of the month. The link will take you to the e-book.

Also, the third book of the Honor and Duty series will be winging its way off to Amazon later today for approval for pre-orders. As soon as it goes live, I will post and update. I have a working copy of the cover and, yes, it will be finalized during the pre-order time frame.  But it will work for the pre-orders.

What I discovered writing this draft was that my thoughts at the end of Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2) were right. It was going to take at least two more books to tie up this story arc. I foresee one more book in the immediate story arc. After that, well, there are more stories with these characters and others that want to be written.

Anyway, here is the draft version of the cover for Honor from Ashes. Text about the series, etc., still needs to be added and the lettering needs some work. But this will give you the general idea.

honor from ashes draft 3

The original image can be found here and and is © by NextMars.

Indie Author Christmas Sale

Cedar Sanderson, friend and author, is spearheading a small curated Christmas Sale for indie authors and I’m honored to have been invited to take part. I don’t know about the rest of you, but books have always been one of the staples I gave for Christmas and other occasions when a gift was needed. That hasn’t changed with the advent of e-books. All e-books means is you have to be a bit more creative in how you “wrap” them.  So, without further ado, here is the 2015 Indie Author Christmas Sale.

Just in time for Christmas giving, here’s a list of books, stories, and other readables. Who doesn’t love to get a book in their virtual stocking? Bonus is that this gift won’t sit around collecting dust or taking up space. And you don’t have to go out and fight the traffic to buy it, or worry about shipping on time, and it’s as easy as a few clicks and knowing an email address.


Dragon Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 3)

By Cedar Sanderson

On sale for the first time from Dec 17-23rd

The pixie with the gun has come home to see his princess crowned a queen and live in peace. But nothing is ever easy for Lom. A gruesome discovery on his doorstep interrupts their plans and sends Lom off on a mission to save not one, but two worlds. It’s personal this time and the stakes are higher than ever before. With friends falling and the enemy gathering, Bella and Lom must conquer the worst fears and monsters Underhill can conjure. Failure is not on the agenda.

Or if you would rather give the whole trilogy, Pixie for Hire: Omnibus Edition is now available in ebook form only.


Young Warriors (Wine of the Gods Book 10)

by Pam Uphoff
Free for five days!
It’s traditional for young lords in the Kingdom of Ash to spend two years in the army. Xen Wolfson is a young wizard, and Garit Negue a young prince. And the world is filled with adventures and danger . . . and learning experiences.

Their world has been in sporadic contact with two different cross-dimensional worlds–generally as a target for conquest. When the Empire of the One returns, the young warriors are standing foursquare in their path.


Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4)

By Amanda Green

Brand New Release!

The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.

If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.

What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.

The first three volumes (Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade and Nocturnal Interlude
are available individually or as the Nocturnal Lives “boxed set”.) are also available.


Hilda’s Inn for Retired Heroes

By Cyn Bagley

In Delhaven, there is an Inn run by a retired mercenary. If you are a down-on-your-luck mercenary or men-at-arms, come to the public rooms and Hilda Brant, the owner, will give you a bowl of stew. If you want ale, hand over the coins. Hilda may give you floor space, but she expects you to pay in favors or coins.

Hilda isn’t prepared for the damage and chaos caused by a dragon, black mage, and elementals. And a very angry Lord Barton.


The High T Shebang (The Baby Troll Chronicles Book 1)

By Mark Alger

Dolly was reborn into a new body just last week. Right out of the birthing chamber, she was tumbled into a conflict that goes back to the stone age. Her creator, the Greek Goddess, Aphrodite, has disappeared, and the God in charge of her institution — the Babylonian Marduk — has called for her death. Her lover and Geppetto, Mitchell Drummond, is threading his way through political minefields to keep Dolly safe.

New in love, they soon find they can’t keep their hands off each other. Their sexual fever comes to worry them. They suspect there’s more to the situation than mere new love. Meanwhile, they have a job to do. Keeping up the pretense that all’s well and nothing’s going on is wearing thin. But in Upothesa, you’re not allowed to talk about secrets. Dolly is a secret. Trying to keep it together, Dolly and Drummond go on a mission to New Zealand to protect the Dolly’s secret and the life of a major TV drama star.


Collisions of the Damned: The Defense of the Dutch East Indies (The Usurper’s War Book 3)

By James Young

My God, we are losing this war.—Lt. Nicholas Cobb, USN

March 1943. The Usurper’s War has resumed, with disastrous results for the Allies. In Hawaii, the U.S. Pacific Fleet lies shattered after the Battle of Hawaii. Across the Pacific the Imperial Japanese Navy, flush with their recent victory, turns its gimlet eye towards the south and the ultimate prize for their Emperor: The Dutch East Indies.

For Commander Jacob Morton and the other members of the Asiatic Fleet, the oncoming Japanese storm means that the U.S.S. Houston and her Allied companions must learn to fight against overwhelming odds against an enemy who claims the night as their own. In the skies above Houston and the other old, tired vessels of the ACDA Fleet , Flight Lieutenant Russell Wolford and his men attempt to employ the Allies’ newest technology to even the odds. With full might of the Japanese Empire falling on them, the ACDA’s soldiers, sailors, and marines must fight to hold the line long enough for reinforcements to come.


Blackbird (The Colplatschki Chronicles Book 7)

By Alma Boykin

$.99 Dec 21-24, 1.99 Dec 25-28

One man becomes all that the Turkowi fear – and respect. Matthew Charles Malatesta, second son and rumored bastard of a mercenary, grandson of Duke Edmund “Ironhand” von Sarmas.  One man, who will fight to the last breath to carve a place for himself, who will create a court of learning and civilization, who stands alone between the might of the Turkowi Empire and all of Godown’s people.


One In Infinity: A Reality Crossing Novella

By Amie Gibbons

On sale for $0.99 from 12/19 to Christmas

Turns out coincidences do happen, and it sucks when it leads killers from an alternate reality to your door…

Rose plans on partying her last weekend of freedom before her residency starts, but fate has different plans. When men straight out of a fantasy novel attack, she gets pulled into a blood feud between magical beings thanks to a random stroke of luck. Now she has to adjust to her new world view and help one of the men to save herself from a fate worse than death.


Tick of the Clock

By Travis Clemons and Michael Z Williamson

A man awakens in a 21st century Illinois hospital, holding very distinct memories of being shot in Switzerland decades earlier. The nurse calls him Detective Crabtree and says the DuPage County Sheriff will be by to check on him shortly. Yet he remembers his name being Sherlock Holmes.

When Sabrina Worthington is killed during a home invasion, her billionaire husband has an ironclad alibi. But Adam Worthington does not appear to be the grieving widower people would expect to see. Meanwhile, their former girlfriend keeps tugging on every possible string to convince the authorities to indict the man for murder.

By the tick of the clock, it would seem impossible for a man to be shot in the 19th century and wake up more than one hundred years later. It would also seem impossible for a man to shoot his wife while she’s at home and he’s at a theater thirty miles away. But when the seemingly impossible is properly analyzed, will Holmes determine the improbable truth behind her death and his life?


The Spaewife

by David L. Burkhead

Pricing will be $0.99 the 19th through the 26th.

A young mother hears the Norns. They tell her of terrible things to come. When Ulfarr wants her gift of prophesy to serve him, he takes her, murders her husband, and steals away her children. Can the young mother escape from Ulfarr’s clutches and save her children from him? Only the Norns know.


Via Serica

by Tom Rogneby

on sale from the 19th to the 26th for $1.99

Marcus Aemelius Paullus has a problem – he is playing with fire and falling in love with the wrong woman. Appius Plinius also has a problem – he has a unit full of warriors who continually get themselves, and him, in trouble. Caesar Augustus has a solution to their problems, but it may cost them their lives. Eastward lies fame, fortune, and the key to returning home. Deserts, mountains, marsh, and ocean lie between, occupied by barbarian cultures and hostile rulers. On this grueling journey, Marcus and Appius will find their courage tested to the limits. But before they’re done, the world will know the unconquerable spirit of Rome!

NaNo is over. What now? (repost from Mad Genius Club)

Sorry, guys, I know I’ve been MIA. As I explain in my MGC post, I’ve been on a writing/editing jag with a healthy does of real life thrown in. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, those of you I owe edits to, they will hit your inboxes in the next week or so, if not sooner. Believe me, you didn’t want them before now, not with the curve balls Real Life (TM) has thrown and not when I’ve been deep in a writing binge to deal with Real Life. Any way, here’s the MGC post. Enjoy, and I will return to regular blogging in a day or two.

That collective sigh of relief and groan of frustration you heard yesterday came from the hoards of authors who met — or didn’t — their NaNoWriMo goals. Now they are looking at those 50,000 words and wondering what to do with them. Should they put them aside for a bit and then come back to see if they are anywhere close to a book or if they more resemble a cabbage. Others are wondering why they couldn’t meet the deadline and wondering how they can ever be an author if they can’t successfully complete NaNo. Then there are those who know they finished their 50,000 words, that they have a book (of sorts) as a result but aren’t sure it is worth the work they will have to put in to bring it to publishable standards.

All of those reactions — and more — are why I don’t particularly like NaNo. I’ve done it. I’ve failed more often than I’ve successfully concluded it. I’ve seen the faces of those in my writer’s group go pale, their features slack, when I ask if they are going to take part. I can’t blame them. For most folks, writing 50,000 words in 30 days sounds next to impossible. For a lot, it is. Real life always seems to find ways to keep them from the keyboard and adding the pressure of an artificial goal only compounds the pressure to write to the point that the muse not only goes quiet but she goes somewhere far, far away.

Still, I recommend NaNo to almost everyone, especially those who have had a dry stretch. However — don’t laugh. You knew there had to be a but to all this — I tell folks not to let the 50,000 word goal put them off. If they don’t think they can do that much, then they should set a more reasonable sounding goal. Then, during the course of NaNo, they need to do their best to stick to their goal (and be ready to tell the crit group how they did and what they think helped them meet their goal or what caused them to miss it). What I have learned over the last few years is that NaNo can and does serve as a good kick in the writerly butt for some of them and it also lets them see what sort of distractions they have started allowing into their writing time, many of which they can learn how to ignore or at least postpone until they get their writing in for the day/week/month.

I’ll admit, as I already have, that I usually don’t meet my NaNo goals. That’s because I know I can do 50k in a month and don’t adjust the word count. That is when Real Life tends to kick me in the teeth. Whether it is illness, either of me or a family member, or death or something around the house deciding to go MIA, something always seems to happen. It did this year. The difference was that I still managed to not only meet my 50k goal but I exceeded it.

So what was different?

A couple of things. First, I didn’t start with a brand new project. I had one project I was close to finishing and another I had been messing around with for a year or so that I wanted to finally put to bed. The first project, Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) , had been one of those books that fought me every step of the way. Using NaNo, I finally got it finished and it is currently available for pre-order. Publication date is December 15th for the e-book and shortly after that for the print version.  I honestly feel that if I hadn’t had the double deadlines of NaNo and of the pre-order drop dead date of December 5th to get the final version uploaded to Amazon, I might still be fighting the book. Not because I didn’t know what to write but because I started the book thinking it would be the end of the current story arc for the series, only to find there is one more book left. I don’t like change and this was a big change for my writer’s brain to take in. Any way, I did 20k words on Challenge and it will go live in a little more than two weeks.

The second book, Slay Bells Ring, is a departure. Before I get into the heart of Honor from Ashes, the next book in the Honor and Duty (2 Book Series), I needed to do something that wasn’t as intense as Challenge had been or Honor will be. So, I went back to Slay Bells Ring, a romantic suspense novel. It will be finished in another day or two, coming in at approximately 90,000 words or so. Of those, I have written 60,000 this past month. Even for me, that (added with the 20k from Challenge) is a lot to do in a month. But this past month has been one of those where the stress had to be countered with something else and that meant writing. The only downside has been that my blogging has gone by the wayside. I’ve discovered that when I go on a writing jag like I have been on this month, I don’t blog. Not even about my writing. There is something about having to switch to the blogging mindset more than once a week (MGC) takes me out of the creative mind. So . . . . the result is that I will be releasing the e-book of Slay Bells Ring Christmas week. Two books in one month is a record for me and not particularly one I want to repeat any time soon.

So, what’s the purpose of this post other than to blow my own NaNo horn? Part of it is to encourage those who didn’t manage to make the 50k goal of the “official” NaNo rules not to give up. Adapt and adjust the word count next year to what you think you can do and then add a little to it. It is also to say not to get discouraged if you didn’t meet it this year. Real life happens and, as those of us who post here can tell you, it happens more often than any of us would like. NaNo is a great kick in the pants, if you let it and if you don’t take it too seriously. Just remember that there will be times when you meet the goal and times when you don’t, times when you blow past the goal and times when you don’t come close. It doesn’t really matter as long as you keep writing.

So, to answer my question at the top of the post. What comes next? Write some more.

Nocturnal Challenge – Evolution of a Series

Back when I wrote Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1), I didn’t do it as the beginning of a series. In fact, that was the last thing I meant to do. It wasn’t a genre I usually wrote in. I was bucking the trend in how it was written. I figured it would be a one-off and I would move on. More than that, I had never considered doing a series. What I didn’t know was that book would spawn a main character I love to write and who still had stories to tell.

Now, five years later, Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) is available for pre-order. As the link shows, this is the fourth book — and the fifth title — in the series. It is a direct continuation of the previous book, Nocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives Book 3). For the first time, the series picks up immediately after the previous book ended. There has been no elapsed time and Mac is struggling to not only come to terms with what happened in the previous book but to find the best way to deal with the fallout without revealing the existence of shapeshifters to the world-at-large.

What I’ve discovered as I’ve written each book is the series is that the world the books take part in is changing along with Mac and her friends. In Origins, Mac’s Dallas was pretty much the same Dallas I know. The only difference was that there happened to be a few folks around who could shift into animals. Some of these people, ones like Mac, were what they called pures. Shapeshifters from a long bloodline who could control their shifts and who did not lose their humanity while in their animal forms. Others, the weres, more often resembled the werewolves from old Hollywood films. They turn more feral when in animal forms and that characteristic often followed them into their human lives as well. The weres felt they were at the top of the food chain and chafed at the restrictions put on them by the pures. While not exactly a good vs. evil sort of thing, that was how Mac could justify stepping outside of the law to deal with the weres, the lycans, that had been using Dallas as a hunting ground.

In no way was she comfortable stepping outside the bounds of the the law she had sworn to uphold. But she knew she was caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place. If she followed the letter of the law and arrested the lycan responsible for the murders, she ran the very real chance he would shift while in custody and then the secret would be out. If she had a problem accepting the fact there were people who could turn furry, how would the public-at-large react? The answer was easy — not well. So she did what she needed to do, she upheld shifter law if not human law. But it wasn’t something that set well with her.

Since that first book, the shifter world has started fleshing itself out. Past history has bred new conflicts, conflicts that threaten not only a civil war among shifters but war with the normals as well. Mac and company are now faced with a most difficult decision. Do they stand by, letting events continue on the road they are on or do they stand up and take action? Neither decision is without pitfalls.

Something else that is starting to become more clear in the series is the relationship between the human part of Mac and the others and the animal parts. From the beginning, I’ve known that the animal aspects were always present in the back of the minds of their human counterparts. In Challenge, that relationship is explored more than it has been before. Part of this is because Mac will need a better understanding of her animal aspect, not having grown up knowing what she could become. Part of it is because that is what the book demanded (yes, yes, I know. I’m the author. I should tell the book what it is going to be not the other way around.)

So what is the future of the series? There is at least one more book left. That next book (or possibly the one after it) will end the current story arc. However, I have a feeling that won’t be the end of my relationship with Mackenzie Santos. She is one of those characters that doesn’t take sitting in silence for long well. Right now, I have a short story, or possibly a novella, featuring her brewing in the back of my mind. This one will also feature her shifted animal, a jaguar, a creature almost as mouthy as Mac can be.

So here’s the plan. Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) is available for pre-order. Publication date is December 15th. If you follow the link and pre-order it now, you won’t be charged for it until the release date. Here’s the blurb (and it will be tweaked before final release):

The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.

If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.

What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.

A character speaks


I know I’ve been more absent than usual from the blog of late. I’ve written about some of the reason but most of it falls under the headings of “Real Life Kicks Author’s Ass” and “Uncooperative Main Character”. Both are finally starting to get under control (knocks on wood) and makes a note to go hunt a four leafed clover. As it stands now, I will be uploading Nocturnal Challenge to Amazon later today. That means either tonight or tomorrow it should be available for pre-orders. Publication date will be December 7th.

I’m not kidding when I say I’ve been suffering from “uncooperative main character”. Mackenzie Santos has been anything but cooperative in this book. Oh, it isn’t that the plot hasn’t been there. It has been, with a couple of twists I hadn’t anticipated. It isn’t even that the “voice” hasn’t been there. Mac’s voice is very strong and easy for me to get back into. Now, for some reason, this time she wanted the book to shift from 3rd person to 1st and fought me every step of the way.

For awhile, I did consider switching the POV. The problem is, the other books were written in 3rd preson and I didn’t want to switch things mid-stream. So what is probably going to have to happen is a short story or novella in the universe giving Mac her full voice. The only other alternative is a choice between changing the way the series moves forward or going back and redoing the previous books in 1st person and, believe me, I do NOT want to rewrite the series. For one, I’ve already written it. For another, unlike some traditionally published authors of late, I don’t believe I have the right to rip-off my readers by taking a story I’ve already published and simply change the names of the characters or give them the same story but from the other main character’s point of view.

So, somewhere along the line of finishing up Honor from Ashes, the next book in the Honor and Duty series, and then Dagger of Elanna, book two in Sword of the Gods, I have a short story or novella to write. My only fear is that doing so will encourage my other characters to demand the same sort of treatment.

Help me. Save me from headstrong characters who don’t accept the fact they aren’t real people.  😉

Seriously, there are times when, as an author, we have to listen to our characters. They aren’t real. We know that (really, we do). But they do represent our subconscious and it often knows more about what we need to do with our writing than our conscious mind does. In this case, I have a feeling the short story/novella will be the bridge between Challenge and what will probably be the last book in the series. I don’t think it will be the last time we see Mac and company but, if we do, it will be in another set of books from another POV in all likelihood. Again, I’m not sure.

I think my uncertainty comes from the fact I’ve read too many series where the author didn’t stop when she should have. I don’t want to do that with Mac and friends. The current story arc will be concluded in the book that comes out following Challenge. There is the possibility of more after this arc. But we’ll see.

In the meantime, there are books to write, edit and life to be lived.

FYI, I have a post up at Mad Genius Club today discussing e-book pricing and its impact on the Big Five.

Cover reveal

Nocturnal Challenge will be going up for pre-sale next week. Last night, the wonderful Sarah A. Hoyt designed the cover for me. The cover elements come from Dollar Photo Club. I’ll post those credits at the end.


Sarah also redesigned the covers for the other novels in the series. Here they are:

origins cover



And here is the cover image for the boxed set:


Amur Leopard © michaelfitz / Dollar Photo Club

The woman is © chesterF/ Dollar Photo Club and the photos are part of this series of images.

Nocturnal Challenge – Snippet 2

Attraktives Prchen ber den Dchern von Tokyo(This snippet is from my upcoming novel, Nocturnal Challenge. This is the fourth book, and the fifth entry, in the Nocturnal Lives series. This snippet is not the final edited version of what will appear in the novel. that means there very well will be changes between now and final publication. This work is copyright 2015 by Amanda S. Green. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing.)

Click here for Snippet 1.


“Hello, Mackenzie. I think it’s time we talk.”

Time stopped and the world narrowed to the slim blonde with the icy blue eyes standing just a few feet away. After more than ten years on the job with the Dallas Police Department, most of them as a murder cop, Lt. Mackenzie Santos had seen just about everything. She knew the depravity man could do to his fellow man. She knew the lengths a mother would go to protect her child. After the last six months, she even knew monsters really did exist outside the bad B-movies from Hollywood. But this was her worst nightmare come to life.

Instinct kicked in. She shifted position slightly so her injured shoulder was away from the woman. The fingers of her left hand closed around the grip of the Sig Sauer nestled at the small of her back. If she could have easily freed her right arm from the immobilizer securing that arm against her side and across her abdomen, she would have. Instead, she cast a quick look right and then left. There were too many people around, civilian and cop alike. Too many people who could get hurt and too many who could overhear something that could turn the world on its ear and result in a panic that would make the Salem witch hunt look tame by comparison. But she wasn’t alone. She had to remember that. Standing on either side of her were two people who would willingly die to protect her and her secret, whether she wanted them to or not.

“Cassandra.” It wasn’t much but it was better than the string of curses she wanted to let loose.

This had to be a bad dream. There was no other explanation for why Cassandra Wilkinson would be standing just a few feet away. If the blonde had business in town, Mac would have known about it. Her position as the local pride leader’s enforcer insured that. So the fact the Speaker of the Council, and the woman Mac believed responsible for so much of the trouble her pride had suffered recently, now stood before her was most definitely not a good thing.

Worse, Mac had no doubt that when Cassandra said it was time for them to talk, she’d meant talk alone, far away from prying eyes and curious ears. More than that, it would be far from anyone who might be able to help should Cassandra decide she didn’t like what Mac had to say. So not only “no” but “hell no”, not that she could come right out and tell Cassandra that. Knowing what she did about the Speaker and suspecting even more, Mac wasn’t about to go anywhere with the woman and especially not while injured.

She had to be very careful about what she said and did. They stood on the sidewalk outside the Dallas Justice Center where, only a few minutes earlier, Mac had finished giving her report to the Chief of Detectives and the District Attorney about the kidnapping and assault on her partner as well as an assistant district attorney and several others. Needless to say, it had been a partial report. She could no more tell the Chief of Ds and the DA the entire truth about what had happened than she could fly. If she did, they might think she had finally cracked under the pressure of the job. Worse, they might believe her and lock her up as a danger to society before going on hunt down all those like her.

Not that she would blame them if they did. Six months ago, she would have done the same thing. But that was before she discovered she turned furry on nights of the full moon and pretty much any other time she wanted. Now she had to make sure that secret didn’t come out, not only for her sake but for the sake of all those like her, at least not until the time was right. She would not be responsible for a modern version of the Boston witch hunts.

Unfortunately, she no longer believed Cassandra shared that concern. Even though they had met only a few times, Mac had never completely trusted the woman who was charged with enforcing shapeshifter law and making sure their existence was not discovered by the normals. Now, after the events of the last several weeks, she wasn’t sure Cassandra had ever really cared if their secret came out. Because of that, she had to be cautious about what she said and did next.

Most of all, she prayed she and her companions made it away from there alive so they could warn the others.

“LT?” Detective Nate Norwood, her temporary partner and a coyote shifter, asked in concern.

Instead of answering, Mac lifted her head slightly. As she did, she eased her hold on her jaguar. The jungle cat, so much a part of her now, pushed against her control, fighting for release. A growl sounded deep in Mac’s throat as the jaguar let her displeasure be known. She did not like Cassandra intruding on their territory. More than that, she did not appreciate the woman trying to tell them—them! – what to do. Well, that made two of them but there was little Mac could do about it, at least for the moment.

Caution won out over pride, training over ego. Mac sniffed the air and then relaxed slightly. All the smells she had come to associate with downtown were there: the cars, the exhaust, so many people pressing against one another as they made their way to their destinations. Hot dogs and condiments from the vendor at the corner. Coffee, rich and enticing, as someone walked past with a tall to-go cup. Nothing out of the ordinary.

But beneath all that were the scents she sought, the scents of shapeshifters. One was Cassandra. There could be no mistaking the dry grass scent Mac had come to associate with the woman. It reminded her of how a hayfield smelled several days after it had been cut. The second scent was the deeper, musky scent of Norwood. So far, so good.

Another sniff and Mac allowed herself to relax a little as she scented no other shapeshifters in the area. Cassandra had either come on her own or whomever she had brought with her was far enough away that Mac’s heightened senses couldn’t pick them up. That was fine by her. That meant they were too far away to interfere if a hasty retreat was called for. Maybe this little encounter would end peacefully after all.

At least she hoped so.

But she still needed to figure out how to respond to the woman who had led the Council for the last decade, without giving enough offense that Cassandra could legitimately take action against her. Damn but dealing with the politics of her new people was even more complicated, and certainly more fatal if you made a misstep, than dealing with the politics of the police department and justice system.

“Come. Walk with me, Mackenzie,” Cassandra said firmly.

The power behind those simple words washed over Mac and, for one brief moment, she felt the urge to step away from Jael and Norwood. Intellectually, she knew what was happening. Cassandra was trying to force her to do as she said by sheer will. It was something Mac had seen – and felt – her grandmother, as well as her own pride leader, do. Alphas had the ability to roll those who were weaker, leaving them no choice but to do as they were bid. Those times, Mac had responded instantly, not only because they were alphas but because she respected them enough not to even consider disobeying. But this was different.

Very different.

Even as Sergeant Jael Lindsay, her mentor and former training officer, reached out to stop her, Mac gave a quick shake of her head. Her jaguar pushed once more against her control, furious that the Speaker had tried to intimidate them – THEM – into obeying. Her jaguar wasn’t just furious, she was contemptuous. The Speaker had not earned their obedience, much less their respect, and she certainly did not deserve it. This was their territory and Cassandra was there uninvited. More important than that, she was the enemy.

Drawing strength from her jaguar, Mac glanced at Norwood to see if he had reacted to Cassandra’s order. Relief washed over her to see him still standing at her side, his hand near the gun under his jacket. Then, seeing the concern reflected in the younger man’s eyes, she gave him a quick wink. She might be battered and bruised, but she was still in control. He didn’t have to worry.


Hoping she wasn’t about to make a bad situation worse, Mac took a single step forward. As she did, she fixed a slight smile on her lips. If anyone should happen to look their way, she didn’t want them thinking there was a problem. The last thing she needed was some well-intentioned soul interfering. She had a feeling things would go south in a hurry if that were to happen.

“Cassandra.” She fought the urge to grin as the blonde’s blue eyes flashed. Maybe it had finally dawned on her that Mac wasn’t going to blindly obey her. “It is always a pleasure to see you.” A lie but hopefully Cassandra would think it one of those little social lies almost everyone tells at some point in their lives. “Are you here to see Michael?”

Of course she wasn’t. The answer was written on Cassandra’s face from the way she clenched her teeth to the angry flush that rose on her cheeks. Then the anger disappeared almost as quickly as it had come. Mac had to give it to her. The woman knew how to roll with the punches. Hopefully that meant she also realized how precarious their position happened to be. Cops and civilians alike moved past them as they came and went from the Justice Center. Surely the blonde wouldn’t risk doing or saying something that might reveal their secret.

“As I said, Mackenzie, it is time the two of us talked. Join me for a coffee.”

Once again her power rolled over Mac. Prepared for it this time, Mac didn’t falter. Nor did she miss the surprise and something else, uncertainty perhaps, that crossed Cassandra’s expression. Not that Mac had time to think about it or about what her failure to comply with the Speaker’s order might mean. Instead, she needed to find out why the blonde had shown up without warning. But she’d be damned if she went anywhere with the woman, much less alone.

“I’m sorry, Cassandra, but I am on my way to a crime scene.” A lie but what other choice did she have? All she could do was pray she played the next bit right. “I’m sure if you contact Michael, he’d be glad to arrange for a time and place where we can meet without fear of interruption.”

At least that latter was technically true. As Speaker, Cassandra had the right to talk to any member of a pack, pride or pard that had sworn allegiance to the Council. Tradition, however, held that the Council, or its representative, would first approach the local alpha and ask permission to meet with whomever they wished to speak with. Mac hoped Cassandra would assume she was falling back on tradition because she was so new to her shifter abilities and still learning the ins and outs of shifter society. If she didn’t, they were all in trouble.

God, don’t let her push this any further.

“Mackenzie.” There could be no mistaking the warning, or the anger, in the blonde’s voice. “We will speak now.”

“I mean no disrespect, Cassandra, and I will be glad to speak with you. All I ask is that you talk with Michael first. I’m sure he will approve of our meeting. Besides, as I told you, I am on my way to a crime scene.”

Mac waited, wondering how the Speaker would react. She sensed Cassandra’s cheetah pushing against the blonde’s control. At the same time, Mac’s jaguar coiled beneath the surface, ready to spring and force a shift should Cassandra attack. Pushing the jungle cat down, Mac once again reached to the small of her back and the Sig Sauer nestled there. As she did, she gave a slight nod. She trusted Norwood to look after himself. She would make sure nothing happened to Jael

“Very well, Mackenzie. But this isn’t over. We will speak and soon.” The blonde’s words were clipped, her tone leaving no doubt about how she felt. When her eyes locked with Mac’s, Mac refused to look away. She would not show fear or submission to this woman or to her cheetah. Even so, she prayed she was making the right decision.

“I look forward to it.”

Mac inclined her head. As she did, Cassandra turned and strode off, the high heels of her designer boots clicking loudly against the sidewalk. Anger radiated off of her as she pushed her way past several women coming down the street. A few moments later, a dark sedan’s security system disengaged with a beep. With Norwood and Jael flanking her, Mac watched as Cassandra climbed in behind the steering wheel. The engine roared to life and the sedan pulled into traffic with a screech of tires that could have earned her a traffic ticket.

Mac looked on as the sedan turned at the corner and disappear from sight. Only then did she release her grip on her gun. Her heart rate slowed and her breathing returned to normal. But her mind raced. One thing was certain. They couldn’t stand there, waiting to see what happened next. She needed to let King know Cassandra was in town and she needed to warn those at the safe house. Like it or not, the battle – maybe even the war – had just come to them.

“LT?” Jael spoke softly, her concern obvious.

“Get in the SUV, both of you.” Mac glanced up and then down the street to make sure Cassandra had not circled back. “Nate, I want you to drive around for a few minutes. Let’s make sure we haven’t picked up a tail. Once you’re confident we’re in the clear, I want you to drop Jael and me back at the office.”

“No way, LT,” he said firmly. “I’m taking you straight to the safe house.” He spoke softly enough that he wouldn’t be overheard but there could be no mistaking his conviction.

“Nate, think for a moment. The SUV was unattended while we were inside making our report. That means Cassandra, or one of her people, could have tagged it. There’s no way we’re going anywhere near the safe house until we know it’s clean. That’s your job. Come back with either this one after it’s been swept or with a new vehicle. Then I will gladly let you take me to the others. Until then, we’re going to play this smart and not run the risk of leading that bitch back to our people.”

For a moment it looked like he would argue. Then he nodded. “You don’t let her out of your sight, Sarge,” he told Jael.

“Don’t worry. I won’t leave her side.” With that, Mac’s former training officer motioned for them all to climb into the SUV. “I take it we’re going to see the captain.”

“If at all possible. He needs to know what happened.” Mac slid into the front passenger seat and leaned back, carefully shifting positions until she found one that didn’t hurt her injured shoulder.

“Are you sure that’s the best course of action?” Jael asked as she slid into the backseat.

Mac started to answer and then stopped. She recognized Jael’s tone of voice. It was the same tone the woman had used when they were partnered together a lifetime ago. Mac had quickly learned it meant she needed to think about what she had said or had done. In almost every situation, Jael had been right. Could she be so now?

“Drive. I need to think for a minute,” she said as Norwood started the engine.

Trusting her companions to make sure they weren’t being followed, Mac leaned her head against the back of the seat and closed her eyes. She had no doubt that she needed to let King know what had just happened. But was it wise to go back to the office to do so? There was always the chance they would be overheard there. Damn, life had been so much less complicated before she started turning furry.

Unfortunately, this was something she needed to tell him face-to-face. Jael was right, though. Doing it at the office would not work. There were too many distractions there and too great a risk they might be overheard. With a sigh, she reached for her cellphone.

“King,” her pride leader and commanding officer said a few moments later.

“It’s Santos, sir.” Might as well play it safe in case he was not alone. “Something’s come up on one of my current cases that I need to brief you on.” Hopefully, he would understand what she was not saying.

“Lieutenant, I assume you’ve finished briefing the Chief of Ds and are on your way home now. I’d hate to find out you are working when you are supposed to be on medical leave.”

It wasn’t quite a question and it was enough to let her know that he wasn’t alone. Thank goodness she hadn’t said what was on her mind.

“That’s correct, sir. You made it quite clear that I need to do as the doctors say or you won’t let me return to duty any time soon.” She did her best to put a hint of pained humor in her voice.

“Good.” No one overhearing King could doubt his satisfaction that she was following orders. “I assume you want to give your report in person, Lieutenant.”

“I think it would be best, sir. This is information that was passed on to me while I was at the Justice Center.”

“Very well, I have a few things to take care of here. I will swing by your place on my way home tonight. Until then, get some rest. I need you back at your desk and on the streets as soon as possible.”

“Understood, sir, and thank you.” She ended the call, knowing he would be at the safe house as soon as possible without raising suspicions.  “All right, Nate. Let’s go switch out vehicles. I want this one checked before it goes anywhere near our people.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He turned right and checked the rearview mirror. “So far, no sign of a tail.”

“Keep an eye out but go on and head to the garage.” Or wherever he needed to go in order to pick up another SUV.

Satisfied, Mac turned her thoughts back to the encounter with Cassandra. The encounter had been enlightening on several levels. First, the Speaker had been rattled, something Mac figured didn’t happen very often. If they were lucky, it would make the Speaker careless. Mac hoped so because they needed more than a little luck right now. Too much hung in the balance for them to make any mistakes.

Second, Cassandra had come alone. Mac had no doubt about it after seeing her drive off. She knew enough about the blonde to realize Cassandra would not be driving if she had brought another of their kind with her. Could it be that she did not have anyone she trusted enough to take Yazhari’s place? God, she hoped so. The longer Cassandra was deprived of someone to carry out her dirty work, the better it would be for their side.

Finally, it was obvious Cassandra had not told King of her arrival in town. Not that it surprised Mac. Still, it was a breach of protocol on the Speaker’s part and, as far as Mac was concerned, a sign of how worried Cassandra was about what the local pride might know.

“When did life get so complicated?” She hadn’t meant to say it aloud.

“About the time you followed your family’s tradition and started turning furry.”

Jael actually chuckled and Mac shook her head, a smile playing at her lips. Jael was right. Before then, the worst thing Mac had to deal with were drive-by shootings, drug deals gone bad and the occasional jealous husband or wife killing their partner or lover. Now she had to deal with all that and do everything she could to keep the world-at-large from discovering that shapeshifters really did exist and weren’t just something out of bad Hollywood movies.

Some days, it just didn’t pay to get out of bed.

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