writing projects

All posts in the writing projects category

Writer Wednesday

Published 13/12/2017 by Barb

The past week there was very little writing, but I was busy setting up the anthology I announced on Sunday + doing online workshops + preparing all the uploads before the retailers shut down for the Holidays (see the box set page) + there was the small and medium publishers book fair in Rome, in a new location, so I did attend that one too.

During the weekend I managed to add some 3K to the latest sci-fi novel before sending it off to the proofreader and this week I’m finally getting to write that story I need to complete by the end of the month if I want to submit it to the market I wrote it for. It’s a Silvery Earth short story anyway, so it won’t be wasted, but I’d like to submit it first! 😉

And about the short story challenge… having more or less decided to write at least 10 novels in various series and maybe a couple of novellas, I don’t think I can also manage the 30 shorts in 60 days. It would take all the fun out of the writing. So I’ll still be writing short stories in January, as many as I can cram in, then I’ll move on to next year’s projects.

Now a short rant on the book fair, where I attended a couple of professional panels just to get a feel of how publishing is doing in Europe. It’s still stuck in the 20th century, trust me. Grants and prizes are only for traditional publishers. Translarions only through traditional publishers. And nobody mentions the indie revolution because we’re the shadow market nobody wants to think about, from Holland to Italy passing through France.

Italy is actually the worst. Now it has agents dealing with Italian authors (when I tried them in the 1990s, they dealt only with foreign publishers for translation rights). And they still put vanity publishing and self-publishing together. And the only way for an indie to sell paper books without a distributor is to attend these book fairs (that are totally indie-author-unfriendly) and share the table (otherwise it’s way too expensive).

I’m really considering starting some kind of indie authors’ guild, in Italy for now, but maybe it could be a good idea to have a European Indies Association/Federation/Guild/whatever you want to call it. We could book stands at book fairs and sell our books there. I personally hate it, but I’m afraid it’s the only way on this continent where traditional publishing ignores us.

Anyway, the only writerly link is about craft this week (might be also because I’ve been doing craft workshops, LOL!): Chekhov’s Gun: using story details strategically. Now if you’d like me to elaborate on the workshops – well, I’ve been taking the Writing Series and Writing Science Fiction workshops and I highly recommend them (like all the other workshops from WMG).

I still have the sci-fi assignments to do, but I’ll do them in January, writing the stories that spawn from them. After I finish the current short, I need to go back to my spy story. I even asked a few questions to the Italian police who had a stand at the book fair! It’s slowly becoming a novel, but you won’t be able to see it until next year.

Have a great week! 🙂

 

Advertisements

Sunday Surprise

Published 10/12/2017 by Barb

Ladies and gentlemen, let me present you my first curated anthology, compiled through the BundleRabbit collaboration feature! 😀

Pre-order is live, paperback is in the works… this week has been busy with the small and medium publishers fair here in Rome, so I didn’t have time to format the paperback, but I hope to do it before Christmas, so stay tuned!

I plan on making more next year, gathering my shorter works with nine other authors because I’m math challenged. It won’t be open calls, unfortunately, but if you’re a writer and I know what you write, I’ll ask you! 😉

You can like the Facebook page too… Like Bundles Galore, it will feature all my curated anthologies! 🙂 Actually, Bundles Galore is shared with A.L. Butcher and includes also the bundles we don’t curate but are part of, but well…

Which reminds me there’s another bundle coming out, curated by my co-admin!

No automatic alt text available.

Coming soon… 10% of the royalties from the Remembering Warriors bundle will go to the Royal British Legion plus another 10% to Help for Heroes, two charities that support wounded and ex-service personnel and their families, in commemoration of the World War I centenary. Available for pre-order now at https://bundlerabbit.com/b/remembering-warriors

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Writer Wednesday

Published 06/12/2017 by Barb

Busy week wrapping up projects and attending the small and medium publishers fair here in Rome also to figure out if I can get ISBNs without being officially a publisher. I may need a few for future projects and I may end up buying them in bulk abroad if the Italian ISBN agency gets on my nerves once again. Sigh.

November wordcount ended up 28000words. Not much, so I’m assuming I won’t hit that 500K goal this year either, but well… my writing process has changed through the years and I’m experimenting more. I’m suddenly more dynamic than ever, LOL!

As promised, here’s the first box set – the complete Chronicles of the Varian Empire. Another is on the way, so if you haven’t tried Silvery Earth yet, you might want to taste it with these very cheap box sets. All will be at 4.99$.

If you prefer multi-author bundles to single author box sets, there’s still this long list… and yes, the First Glimpse bundle is still out there, but it will be gone by the end of the month, so grab it now! 😉

Now, in case you missed it and want to try it, the challenge is on for the third time – either write 30 stories in 60 days or three novels in three months. As you know, I did the first novel challenge and I was considering doing the third short story challenge, but I’m taking Techie Bro and Dear Nephew to London for the latter’s birthday, so I will simply “just do it on your own and play along, test to see if you can do it without me reading your stories.”

Unless someone wants to do the challenge with me, I’ll simply report here every week if I have written a story or not. So starting January 1st, 30 stories in 60 days. Possibly shorts so I can send them off. I have already a short list of stories to write that got postponed, so January is as good as any to write them all down and then go back to longer works! 🙂

This is also to avoid burnout. If you read Kris Rusch’s post on burnout and the Indie Writer, you’ll see what I mean. Since I never was one of those great sellers, I’m still here, still writing and not obsessing with marketing.

The key really isn’t avoiding burnout. The key to surviving as a writer is learning how to sustain a career.

And that’s true not just for indie writers, but traditionally published writers as well. Some of the demands traditional publishers put on their bestselling writers make the actual writing impossible.

Writers in traditional settings have to learn how to say no.

Writers in an indie setting have to figure out their priorities.

And that’s what I want, a career. So next year I’ll be writing more than this year (hopefully), hit that 500K goal (hopefully) and publish whatever I finish without bothering with regular deadlines. Of course the 4th vampires through the centuries novel will come out Nov.2 and the novella May 2, but besides that, it’s all open and I have a lot of exciting projects in mind (like… Post-Apocalypse Chronicles sequels…)! 😉

Writerly link: mobile vs.desktop: target the right device for readers in your genre. I’m mostly in the desktop category, apparently… If I decide to do a BookBub in the future, I’ll try to keep this in mind! Don’t you like all those reports, like Author Earnings (which I decided to fill again this year. Just head to the Surveys page)? 😉

Last bit of news: Axelle, Wanderer is discounted on Kobo only! I sumbitted another title, so stay tuned.  Or go to the publisher’s page! 😉 Have a great week! 🙂

 

Writer Wednesday

Published 29/11/2017 by Barb

So I did this writing challenge last summer… I wrote three novels in three months. The first came out in September (with a slight change of title and cover before the paperback came out, but the beta-reader hated the original title anyway, haha!), the second was the programmed vampire novel of the year, Shashank the Fledgling that went live Nov.2 and the third one…

here it is! Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Brainwaves (Post-Apocalypse Chronicles Book 1) the first title in the Future Earth series. Do not worry about the “book 1” thingy, it does end, but I already have in mind a sequel…

Bel lives in Rainbow Town, a multi-level underground settlement for survivors of the Apocalypse that wiped out 21st century civilization. She shouldn’t have a care in the world, pampered as she is by technology, but she still misses her ex boyfriend. And when she tries to contact him, he is nowhere to be found.

The Wanderlust Bug has bitten Raj who feels uncomfortable in Rainbow Town, and not only because his ex moved on. His memory losses leave him uneasy and he wishes to go out in the great unknown, even if it might mean certain death.

With the help of Shani, who has broken into the forbidden Darknet, Bel and Raj are truth seekers in a too perfect town that feels more and more like a golden prison.

A standalone post-apocalypse novel exploring the future of Earth.

The cover is by the awesome Leah Keeler who has made Bel even more beautiful than I had envisioned her, LOL! And the above pic shows how her cover fits my K.K. best… which is perfect, even though it loses its colors! 🙂 But I still love my K.K. and hope it never dies on me because the new Kindle are ugly like hell! 😉

Brainwaves is the last new title of the year, since the others won’t be ready on time. Draft2Digital suggests to upload everything before the 11th and I’m sending stuff to the editor on the 12th, so… next week I’ll prepare some box sets of sub-series of Silvery Earth in case you want to gift someone for Christmas…

And the new titles will come out in January. I have also a couple of cover artists lagging behind, so… next year for more new stuff! Well, a collection of the Fall of the Southern Kingdoms (so technically nothing new) and a couple of new titles so far. Not sure what I’ll be writing after I send out the current projects to Mighty Editor! 😉

Still making plans for the new year (I know, still one month to go, but one must be prepared, right?) and I’m wondering if anyone would be interested in a magazine of yours truly’s ramblings about the various series, with backstage and short stories and comics and stuff – all in print only, since images don’t come out very well in ebook format.

Of course the cost of paper is higher and I’d have to ask at least 4.99$ for a 150-160pp magazine… Unless I make a PDF-only version on DriveThruFiction. Thing is… will it be a failed attempt like Patreon? Should I give it a try with Issue #0 and see how it goes? Or should I just not bother and concentrate on the other projects?

Let me know in the comments. I might change the newsletter too and if I don’t do the mag, I could put more exclusive content in the bimonthly newsletter, that would then become longer… would that bother you? And if you haven’t subscribed yet, what are you waiting for? The next newsletter will go out in January anyway…

I’m full of questions today! Let’s move on! Writerly links… Mark Coker’s encouraging podcast notes (or you can listen to the podcast, if you prefer) and David Gaughran on the birth of the Kindle and its store. Still holding tight to my Kindle Keyboard, as you’ve seen above! 🙂

Last request, please share these #Instafreebie giveaways of Half-blood, Guisarme and the Painter, thank you! Now I better go back to writing… gotta wrap some projects before the end of next week. I’m afraid my wordcount isn’t very high this month either, maybe next year I’ll hit that half-pulp-speed of 500K words… that’s a goal! 🙂 Have a great week!

Writer Wednesday

Published 15/11/2017 by Barb

So! New title out just for Tori, so she can read the rest of the fall of the southern kingdoms! I’ll make a one volume version whenever the cover artist delivers the cover. I need her to complete the sub-series about the southern kingdoms, but then I’ll probably give up asking her. Friends are friends are friends, but they tend to put you at the end of the line, so…

Luckily I found another couple of cover artists who are faster and better. Besides Federica Manfredi, who will do the Silvery Earth Heroines covers and has already started on the next one, there’s another wonderful lady that I found on DeviantART and her great artwork will soon be revealed.

I’m redrafting a short novel or novella that should be no longer around (it might still be at some retailer, but hopefully by the time the new version comes out it will have vanished everywhere) and giving the last touches to the first Post-Apocalypse Chronicle book. Wait for these Future Earth books to show up on retailers before the end of the year. A new kind (for me) of sci-fi! 😉

And I joined #Instafreebie, where you can currently find 3 free short stories: The Painter, Guisarme and Half-blood. Go claim your copy if you haven’t read them already. And feel free to share those links with your friends!

Now, I’m starting to go through the transcripts of the Smart Author Podcast. I know, I should just listen, but listening to people talk without visuals… not me. I can watch an online workshop with videos, but podcasts… not my cup of tea, sorry. But since there are those very useful transcripts… there you go! I get to read a little, LOL! 😀

If you were thinking of doing some online workshops, there’s a special offer right now. I still have two classic workshops to do after the Novel Challenge, but you shouldn’t miss this opportunity. And I was at the offline workshop Think Like a Publisher in 2011… now you don’t need to travel to the Oregon Coast to do it anymore! 🙂

If you’re looking to replace Pronoun, here’s a useful link. Also, Draft2Digital distributes to Amazon, and they’ve been overwhelmed by requests – as per their email – but they’re still very fast in answering any query.

Now look what Joe Konrath came up with. Interactive ebooks – almost. Which has reminded me of a project I had that went to the backburner. Maybe next year I’ll finally get down to it. It will be different from this one, but hopefully as much fun.

And some interesting posts on KWL blog, like marketing group effort, or be a smart indie… They also have podcasts, like Joanna Penn, but like I said above, it’s not my cup of tea… feel free to check them! 🙂 Have a great week!

Writer Wednesday

Published 08/11/2017 by Barb

Sorry I skipped the Random Friday, but it was a weekend full of excerpts! Hope you enjoyed them and headed to get the bundle from your favorite retailer. It was great sharing the blog with all those great authors. One more author interview to come, then moving on.

Last chance to get Shashank at 4.99$. Tomorrow the price will go up. I also uploaded a Star Minds sampler at 99c for whoever doesn’t know my science fantasy saga and would like a taste of it. The taste is clean, but as  stated at the end of the sample, some books are adult only. Since they’re standalone, you won’t miss much if you skip a story or a couple of books (namely, read only book 1 of the Trilogy if you want clean stuff and skip one story in Star Minds Snippets).

Unfortunately i-Users won’t be able to try the lovely D2D template I used for this latest ebook, since Apple doesn’t allow “samplers”, “teasers” or other such things, even though they include complete books. So you better grab your e-pub elsewhere! 😉

On all the books at the publisher’s page you will see only one link to the ebooks. That’s because I spent a good part of Sunday and Monday activating the universal links at Books2Read – they’re even geotagged (in fact I deleted all my Booklinker links and won’t be using that account anymore)!

If you want help in setting this useful thingy up, here’s an how to post. Like they say in the FAQs for authors, you should get one even if your enrolled in KU, since the link is geotagged so you don’t need to give all the Amazon stores links or go to bit.ly or other services. Get them even if you don’t have a Draft2Digital account – my vampires books are not on Draft2Digital because only Smashwords allows assetless pre-orders, so I imported them into B2R with the Smashwords link.

Some smaller places would probably have to be added by hand, like DriveThruFiction or (for my Italian titles) Feltrinelli. But there are already 28 stores supported, I’m sure they’ll add more. For example now I have even the WHSmith links on some books, although I admit I have no idea which distributor sends to them! 😉 I even have some books at Angus&Robertson Selling Books to Australians Since 1886! 😀

With all this publishing stuff and housekeeping, I’m not writing much, but I intend to catch up next week when I go back to DayJob, LOL! My newsletter went out last week (someone reading this blog hasn’t opened it yet, please check it out, thank you) and already I’m changing my mind on some things.

I mentioned I intended to publish Da Strip, but I won’t, because it’s too personal and funny only for me. So I’ll find something else to fill the pages of my mag. I do want to draw more, but I still have to think about what I’m going to do. I’m definitely slowing down the publishing to concentrate on writing next year.

It will be my 40th anniversary after all! Been married to Mr Writing since the summer of 1978, to the dismay of the prospective boyfriends who had no idea of what was going on, haha! So next year I plan to write more, publish less and read more, since I have all those bundles to catch up on.

Speaking of bundles, this one is going to be fun – starting from the title. Funny by Design will come out on the 13th, but it’s already available for pre-orders at the usual suspects. And look at the company again! So, short summary of the latest bundles (out in November only):

Mythic Tales

Cats Cats Cats

Funny by Design.

The first two both include my book Beautiful, Funny by Design has Pat&Babs, the third and for now last body switch.

Oh, and Axelle, Wanderer is available both in ebook and paperback! Have a great week! 🙂

 

Vampires of the World Weekend Part 1

Published 04/11/2017 by Barb

Fever devoured him – or maybe it was just a fast. weak pulse and heavy breathing. He felt shaky and unable to move, drained of strength and blood.

He realized at some point that he was in his bed, sweating. He opened his eyes on the night and saw Bran’s silhouette standing by the bed. The sorcerer’s presence had brought Rajveer back to his senses.

He moaned, his chest heaving in pain.

“Good evening, Rajveer.” Bran’s voice seemed to reach inside his head. “Would you like me to finish you?”

“No…” He was too weak to fight, but he couldn’t die in his bed, taken away by a mysterious sickness. He was meant to die on the battlefield. Not like this – helpless, defeated, in pain.

He saw Bran’s fanged smile come closer to his face.

“So you want to live?” A whisper.

“Yes…” He nodded, breathless. Not this agony, gods, please. He closed his eyes, exhausted.

Bran grabbed the nape of his neck and pulled up his head. Rajveer felt something pressed to his lips, and coppery liquid dripped into his mouth. And then he grabbed Bran’s wrist with both hands, biting, sucking as if his life depended on it, the warm blood sliding down his throat. He could feel both his heart and Bran’s thundering in his head.

Then Bran pushed him away and let him fall back on the bed. Rajveer held his breath, feeling a change through his veins. His blood had been replaced by something else. His eyes opened on the darkened bedroom and he saw the canopy in all its embroidered detail as if it were day. The air in his lungs was cool and his body shivered. He lost control of his limbs and his bowels as a low moan came out of his mouth.

“Don’t worry, only your body is dying.” Bran’s voice was eerily gentle.

A final jolt made his back arch, and he lay still as his breathing slowed. He could still feel his heart beating. Bran’s hand on his forehead wasn’t so cold anymore. He exhaled in relief.

“Welcome to darkness,” Bran said, leaning to kiss his sweaty forehead.

Rajveer closed his eyes, then opened them again. He could hear everything. Every night animal moving in the garden, the owls and mice and a honey badger. The whisper of two guards meeting on watch duty to give each other the “all clear” on the battlements. The soft snores of sleeping servants in the apartment.

And the smells. Of plants and flowers and water ponds, but mostly of warm-blooded creatures. Including humans. Humans smelled different. Their blood sent intoxicating fumes. Luckily there were none in the room to tempt him.

He looked at Bran, who seemed less pale now. He sat and glanced around the room as if the sun were up.

Bran grinned. “Are you still hungry?”

Rajveer touched his lips, unsure. “Sort of…” he admitted. He glanced at Bran’s wrist, but didn’t see any traces of blood or wounds. He licked his lips, but they were clean. Bran’s blood was coursing through him, making him feel invincible. He wanted more.

Get the Bundle now!

Kaylyn awoke with a gasp, and her throat was filled with heat and smoke. She’d been dreaming of falling into the pits of hell, and she opened her eyes to a raging fire devouring the wooden partition of her chamber.

She heard Baldwin’s roar, but her husband wasn’t by her side anymore. Panting, she frantically looked for a way out. Why was the manor on fire? Why wasn’t anyone trying to extinguish it?

Screams and curses came from beyond the flames. The wood crackled and then suddenly gave in. Soon everything would come crumbling down and Kaylyn couldn’t gather her wits.

It was daytime. She was supposed to be asleep, away from the sun’s rays. What if she left the burning room from the window and was incinerated by the sun? The chamber was so filled with smoke that she couldn’t see the weather outside.

Fire was attacking the wooden floor as well as the beamed ceiling. Only the external walls were made of stone. Eyes wide, Kaylyn didn’t know what to do. But then, if Baldwin had left the bedroom, there was probably no danger in going out.

Maybe outside it was another cloudy English day. The heat was getting worse, and Kaylyn decided to move. She got off the double bed and made her way along the walls towards the stone staircase to the lower floor on the other side of the rectangular room.

She was about to reach the closest window, her back against the wall as if she were walking on a narrow ledge, when the floor under the bed gave way, and the canopy crashed downstairs into what had been the main hall of the castle.

Kaylyn froze, staring at the chasm that had opened a few paces from her feet. Soon the whole floor would collapse and she’d fall into the furnace of the lower floor. Her “life eternal” would come to a blunt end in a literal hellfire after only ten years.

She was beginning to think the fire wasn’t an accident. Holding her breath, she started moving again towards the small windows. It wouldn’t be easy to get out that way, but she was thin, and hopefully could get through.

Someone broke the central column of the closest window, widening the opening, and a blurry figure landed in the smoky room that still had half of its floor, since no furniture weighed on it.

“Baldwin?” Kaylyn called with a shaky voice. Only her husband would be capable of jumping so high to break the window. He had come to save her!

But from the smoke emerged the tall figure of Bran, the Celtic druid who had been both hers and Baldwin’s maker. His long platinum-blond hair looked red by firelight.

“Let’s go, Kaylyn.” He threw a blanket over her face and upper body and threw her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

Kaylyn screamed, but didn’t fight. She felt the jump, and then she was shaken by Bran’s run. She wasn’t afraid of the darkness anymore, but the smell of blood that reached her nostrils as soon as the smoke cleared made her lick her fangs.

Get the Bundle now!

Part One: Arizona & New Mexico

Chapter 1

As Jonah Ivory sat between his parents’ caskets in the parlor of the funeral home in Tucson, he finished his eighth beer of the evening. His goal was to drink a whole case.

Eight down, sixteen to go.

Crumpling the eighth empty can in his fist, he tipped his chair back and chucked the can behind the caskets with the other seven. Before he could tip forward and reach for number nine, however, his chair rocked off balance, and he fell back and down to the floor.

Perfect.

After the impact, Jonah lay there for a long moment, staring up at the ceiling. His eyes burned as the tears he’d been holding back tried to force their way out.

But he wouldn’t let them.

I’m too young for this. Too young to lose them.

In fact, Jonah was seventeen years old…not that he looked it. He was skinny, with a boyish face, and he wasn’t exactly wearing responsible grown-up clothes for a viewing: a black Jethro Tull concert t-shirt, ratty faded blue jeans, and sneakers.

But then there was his shoulder-length hair, which was prematurely white. It had been scared that way five years ago.

That was when he’d lost his two brothers, who had been abducted right in front of him. He’d been thirteen years old when it had happened…so maybe he wasn’t too young at seventeen to lose his mother and father, after all.

First the twins, now my parents. I ought to be getting used to this by now. So why do I miss them so much?

It was a mystery to him.

Jonah hadn’t been close to his mother and father for ages. Though they’d been living in the same house in Tucson, seeing each other every day, they might as well have been living in separate towns for the past five years. The loss of the twins had driven them apart.

But in the few days since the car accident that had killed his mother and father, Jonah had been feeling completely and irretrievably lost. All he could think to do was drink himself into a stupor and stumble through the motions of the prearranged viewing and the preparations for the funeral.

Why does it matter? We were practically strangers.

The biggest question of all, though, the one that loomed up in the gaps between lazy drunken sparks and ripples, was this:

Now what?

Jonah rolled off the upended chair and got to his feet. He pulled his ninth beer out of the red and white cooler that occupied two chairs in the front row of seating.

As he snapped open the tab on the can, he looked around the empty room.

At least I don’t have to deal with anybody.

Jonah and his parents were alone. Other than the undertaker, who had strolled through a few times, not one soul had shown up for the viewing.

Nice turnout.

After a long drink of beer, Jonah righted the chair he’d knocked over and sat back down on it. He glanced over at the closed caskets beside him, then quickly looked away as the reality smacked him in the head again.

I hate this.

Just as he lifted the beer for another drink, a young, black-haired woman walked into the room.

She was beautiful. As soon as Jonah caught sight of her, he lowered the beer from his lips. Her body was slender and shapely under her waist-length red leather jacket and short black dress. Knee-high red leather boots accentuated the curves of her long, lean legs.

As she approached, Jonah saw that her features were even prettier than they had looked from a distance. She had a long face and angular nose that gave her an exotic look—Italian, maybe, or Greek or Arab. She must have been wearing contact lenses behind her black horned-rim glasses, because her eyes were two different colors: one hazel, the other amber flecked with red.

Simply put, she was a knockout.

As bad a day as Jonah was having, he still automatically assessed his chances with her before she’d even said a word. He knew it in a heartbeat: she wasn’t just out of his league, she was out of his universe.

Even if he hadn’t been having the second shittiest day of his life, he probably wouldn’t have bothered to make a play for her. That was why he didn’t bother to get up when the woman approached him. He just stared out from behind his long, white bangs and burped softly.

“Hello, Mr. Ivory.” She stopped a few feet away and didn’t offer to shake his hand. She had a slight accent—Italian, maybe? “My name is Stanza Miracolo.”

“Don’t mind me.” Jonah waved at the two closed caskets. “Go ahead and view all you like.”

“Not here for that, thanks.” Stanza slid two fingers into a vest pocket of her red leather jacket. “Here for you,” she said, tugging out a business card and offering it to him.

When Jonah didn’t take the card, she flipped it at him. The card landed face-up on his stomach, and he stared down at it.

Stanza Miracolo, it said. Bloodlines Genealogy & Beyond.

Jonah brushed the card from his black Jethro Tull t-shirt. “You picked the wrong day to try to sell me something, lady,” he said, and then he polished off his beer.

“Already paid for,” said Stanza. “I’m your inheritance.”

Get the Bundle now!

Now

The villagers never paid attention to the dogs anymore.

The constant barking and scrabbling was background noise after years of so many strays learning to survive past their pampered origins. The rich, forested mountains in Transylvania were kinder than the crowded streets of Bucharest, under Communism or decades later. Creatures meant to warm laps and comfort hands have no easy transition to wandering, endlessly searching for shelter.

Some whisper of instinct surely must remain, even with every appearance of wild ancestors bred out of them decades before.

Leo Sabov wondered at that every time he was in Romania, how such a huge population could go unnoticed in the city or in the country. People could get so worked up over stray animals in the US, yet somehow the nomadic animals here seemed healthier and more content with less attention.

He sipped strong coffee on his third floor balcony, watching the first rays of sunlight trace orange fire on the sharp granite cliffs above the tree line across from him. His bare feet were pleasantly chilled by the tile, his mind soothed by his first good night of sleep in many weeks. Staying up too late and drinking too much with his little brother usually had the opposite effect.

A young girl walked through the chicken coop below, gathering eggs for the guests of the inn he’d been returning to with his wife for over twenty years. The milling birds stirred up a scent of rich earth strong enough to overcome even the coffee. The girl sang to herself, a sweet song at odds with the quarreling chickens and agitated dogs. Maria would have known the words to the song, would have whispered them into Leo’s ear.

He rubbed his eyes, struck by a different sound in one of the dog’s voices. His mind seized on the escape from memory. An old female with the dangling teats of many pregnancies stood in the neat yard beside the inn. She stared at something Leo couldn’t see behind the rough-hewn logs of the outdoor kitchen. Her black and tan coat was healthy, and she was normally friendly, one of the sweetest in the village. This morning, though, her voice had a harsh, desperate edge.

Dogs began to gather around her, from neighboring houses and inns, from their rough shelters on the hillsides. Some looked around, searching for what was bothering her so, then resumed their normal morning discussions and investigations. The others, many of them clearly her offspring with that same rangy body and distinctive coloring, watched her silently at first. Then their voices began to take on that same worried note.

The old mother dog took a few stiff-legged steps forward, more than a dozen of her young following. Her sharp, fast barks were interrupted by low growls. Even from three floors up, Leo could see her long hair rise into hackles from her neck to the base of her tail. She walked forward again, her group in near lockstep beside her.

Get the Bundle now!

%d bloggers like this: