An Excerpt From Storm Wolf

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Have you seen the early reviews for Storm Wolf? It will be released on September 1 — Preorder your copy for only $2.99 today!

“A dark supernatural outing, featuring indelible characters as sharp as wolves’ teeth.” — Kirkus Reviews

“…a unique weaving together and retelling of central and eastern European werewolf folk tales. Set in 1890, when such tales were still being told, Storm Wolf stands apart from contemporary myth and legend retellings… The magic–Alexei’s battles with storm creatures, the conjuring of a snake demon from pipesmoke, a witch’s talisman of skin stripped from a sailor– is extraordinarily well imagined and described here. Dollops of regional history and glimpses of customs and legends are fascinating.” — Blue Ink Review

In this excerpt, Alexei has put on the magical wolf pelt and gone up into the sky for the first time to battle a storm that threatens to devastate the village harvest, leading to starvation when winter arrives:

Alexei threw himself at the giant and locked his jaws around the giant’s leg. He pulled and tugged, trying to pull the giant over, but the giant just picked up his leg and shook it, attempting to dislodge Alexei. They hung there, wolf and giant, Alexei grinding his teeth into the giant’s leg and feeling the giant’s leg bone resisting him deep within the giant’s leg. Finally the giant reached down, shouting something at Alexei in words that he could not understand, and wrenched Alexei’s jaws from his shin. He picked Alexei up and tossed him like a ball in a game of ninepins. Alexei tumbled head-over-heels through the clouds, striking the haunches of one of the still stampeding cows. He fell to the clouds at the cow’s feet, nearly trampled by the last of the herd running alongside. Then the cattle were gone and Alexei lay there, bruised and bloody and panting.

He felt the clouds beneath him rumble with the ongoing thunder of both the stampeding cattle and the drunkard stumbling about below. He could see flashes of lightning through the folds of the clouds beside and above him.

“How can I go on? Is there no end to this storm? How can I ever defeat it?” Alexei asked himself, struggling to his four wolf feet. He gasped and choked, trying to keep breathing even as his aching ribs demanded that he stop trying. “How did Grandfather survive this?”

Another thunderclap exploded above him. Lightning shot past him towards the earth, and in the brief tear it made in the clouds he could see the fields of his village far, far below. The wheat was being pummeled into the mud. He could easily imagine the starvation that would come in the wake of the ruined harvest. He gasped again, his ribs heaving.

“I cannot let my neighbors starve!” he told himself. “I cannot let my family starve!” He pulled himself back onto his haunches and jumped into the storm above him again.

Be sure to pre-order your copy of Storm Wolf today for $2.99 and enjoy it as soon as it is released on September 1st!

Why I Write?

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The Writer’s Treasure Chest is a wonderful blog by Aurora Jean Alexander. She hosts author interviews and is an author herself (of a paranormal romance). She posts poetry, articles about writing, and frequently spotlights authors of a wide range of work.

She featured YOURS TRULY as a “Spotlight Author” this week — thank you, Aurora Jean! The interview is especially interested in “Why do you write?” and “How do you deal with dry spells and writers’ block?” Please take a moment to read the spotlight interview here and leave a comment. If you have time, take a look at some of her previous posts as well.

She invited me to participate as a “Spotlight Author” because of the upcoming release of STORM WOLF on September 1. You can preorder the Kindle edition now; both the paperback and Kindle edition will be released on September 1 and I will have copies available to autograph at the Brooklyn Book Fair on September 18.

Kirkus Reviews recently announced that Storm Wolf is “A dark supernatural outing, featuring indelible characters as sharp as wolves’ teeth.” Read the whole review here.

The Harvest of Death

The Dormition of the Mother of God, commonly called the “Assumption” by Western Christians, celebrates the falling-asleep of the Mother of God on August 15 and her translation into glory at the right hand of her Son. This deathbed scene is often depicted in Orthodox icons and medieval Western paintings with Mary dying as the apostles surround her deathbed and Jesus gathers her soul into His arms like a new-born child (similar to the way He is depicted in swaddling bands at Christmas). It has been said in at least a few sermons that, “If Christmas is God’s birthday into humanity, then Dormition is humanity’s birthday into divinity."

The Dormition of the Mother of God, commonly called the “Assumption” by Western Christians, celebrates the falling-asleep of the Mother of God on August 15 and her translation into glory at the right hand of her Son. This deathbed scene is often depicted in Orthodox icons and medieval Western paintings with Mary dying as the apostles surround her deathbed and Jesus gathers her soul into His arms like a new-born child (similar to the way He is depicted in swaddling bands at Christmas). It has been said in at least a few sermons that, “If Christmas is God’s birthday into humanity, then Dormition is humanity’s birthday into divinity.”

One of the classic prayers for the dead in both Latin-speaking and Greek-speaking Christianity is a psalm about the harvest. Psalm 64/65 begins:

“You are to be praised, O God, in Zion:
to you shall vows be performed in Jerusalem.
To you that hear prayer shall all flesh come…
Our sins are stronger than we are,
but you will blot them out.”

The psalm goes on to describe God’s power to erect mountains and calm the roaring of the sea, to call the sun to rise and set, and then concludes:

“You prepare the grain,
for so you provide for the earth.
You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges;
with heavy rain you soften the ground and bless its increase.
You crown the year with your goodness,
and your paths overflow with plenty.
May the fields of the wilderness be rich for grazing,
and the hills be clothed with joy.
May the meadows cover themselves with flocks,
and the valleys cloak themselves with grain;
let them shout for joy and sing.”

The psalm celebrates both death and harvest as two sides of one mystery, the resurrection of both human corpses and the seeds that are cast into the earth to die and rise again — and be harvested, thus continuing the cycle.

As part of the mid-August celebration of the Dormition (“falling asleep”) of the Mother of God, flowers and fragrant herbs are brought into the church to be blessed. This aspect of Dormition celebrates the harvest going on in the fields outside the churches and the “harvest” of each human life on their deathbed. This harvest and gathering into glory of each human life to await the End Times or Last Judgment gives the practical duties of farmyard duties a very apocalyptic or eschatological flavor. (Apocalypse and eschatology relate to “End Times” and “Last Things.”) This human harvest is celebrated again at the end of the farmyard harvest season with Halloween and the Day of the Dead in November.

The flowers and herbs blessed on August 15 are thought to disperse devils by their fragrant scent and to keep devils from trapping the soul of a dying person if they are placed around the deathbed.