OF CATS AND DRAGONS: Start here

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Epic adventure. Arcane magic. Monsters. Heroes. Talking cats.

And we’re just getting started!

My best friend Carol and I have roamed the OF CATS AND DRAGONS world for over three decades, creating our stories in the telling — from our high school Dungeons & Dragons games to a private website where we’ve posted over three hundred stories and story fragments for each other alone. But now we are getting ready to share what we’ve conjured up.

It wasn’t easy, sorting through generations of characters, plots long and short, episodes half-forgotten and threads of tales never completed. From the moment Carol and I decided to write that first OF CATS AND DRAGONS novel, it took nearly a year of combing through storylines, weighing character arcs, before we arrived at a starting point.

Other decisions had to be made as well. While our stories range from Grimdark to slapstick, we had to pick one path. Ultimately we had to go with what the core really was — heroic fantasy with a touch of whimsy. A GAME OF THRONES without the naughty bits.

And while we had literally dozens of possible protagonists to choose from, we agreed that Omen and Tormy were at the center of our fantastical universe.

And from where should we launch the tale of their beautiful friendship? After a couple of false starts and at least another year of trying to figure it out, we decided to begin — at the beginning.

NIGHT’S GIFT is the pilot to our new series, one we hope to renew book after book for as long as we can still put word to page.

We are aiming for a late summer 2017 release date, but if you want to get a free pre-release ebook copy of NIGHT’S GIFT, just sign up here.

You can find us many places:

http://ofcatsanddragons.com

https://www.facebook.com/ofcatsanddragons/

Camilla:

Twitter @CamillaOchlan

Instagram: http://instagram.com/camillaochlan/

Carol:

http://caroleleever.deviantart.com

 

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XOXO from the world OF CATS AND DRAGONS!

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Hope you’ve had a good start to the new year and are enjoying fun times and good reads. If you haven’t had the chance to download our new OF CATS AND DRAGONS  short story, SOLSTICE THYME, please click on the link below to collect the tale from Bookfunnel. It is our gift to you.
Carol and I are currently working on the next Omen and Tormy adventure, which should provide more travel, more magic, and  — hopefully — old and new favorite characters.

Download SOLSTICE THYME for FREE

Meet a little shapeshifter from the story:

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“Is that a frog?” Tokara wondered out loud. She’d never seen a frog with blue hair and a long, curling lizard tail before. Its orange belly glistened like an over-ripe peach.
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Solstice Thyme

We’ve got a brand-new OF CATS AND DRAGONS story to share!

Read what happens when Tokara and Caia take their new friends Tormy, Kyr, and little Tyrin to Wood Frog Pond. This story takes place toward the end of AUTUMN KING (book 5 in the series), and while we don’t think there are many *spoilers*, you will probably enjoy the tale more after you’ve finished at least Chapter 12 of AUTUMN KING (Calculations).

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download full story here

Chapter 1: Balcony

“Do you think the giant kitty will play with us today?” little Caia lisped through the wide gap created by a missing tooth. Tokara tried not to giggle at the extra th in us. Her six-year-old sister was still struggling with her s sounds.

Tokara peeked through the wrought iron pickets of the bedchamber’s small balcony, edging herself closer to where Caia was kneeling, small hands gripping the iron pickets, head poking out between them. Both girls set their eyes on the horse-sized orange cat prancing up and down the castle’s courtyard.

“He sure looks ready to play,” Tokara replied longingly. Though she was already ten years old, Tokara too was enamored with the enormous cat. He’s just so fluffy!

“I don’t see that little Tyrin.” Caia leaned forward, squinting hard to spot the tiny kitten in the gathering below.

“He’s probably in Kyr’s pocket.” Tokara pulled her sister back from the railing. “Careful,” she said automatically.

Caia huffed and shuffled backward on her knees to what amounted to less than a half step. “I’m almost ready to go.” She pulled a cap from her pocket and started cramming her long, tangled hair under it.

“Momma won’t let you wear a cap all day.” With so much company in the castle, Tokara knew her mother would want them to present themselves properly attired.

“But it’s a big rats’ nest,” the little girl whined. She scrambled up so she could stomp one foot expressively. “It hurts to comb it!”

“I’ll help.” Tokara, well used to her sister’s hair troubles, stepped away from the balcony and took a few aimless turns around Caia’s room while reflecting on both their playtime and the tangle of locks. She picked up a sandalwood comb from the carved side table. “Come here, Caia,” she beckoned. “I’ll fix it for you.”

Caia touched a snarl above her ear with chagrin. “Guess I’m not so good at braids.” The little girl turned her back to Tokara, hands on the balcony railing, eyes on the goings-on below. She did, however, tug off the old cap.

Tokara returned to the balcony. Nothing is prying her away from the sight of Tormy.

“This is a braid?” Tokara poked her finger at the tangled knot in her sister’s baby-fine blond hair. She could hear the murmur of conversation in the courtyard below, as she carefully unwound the knot and then ran the wide-tooth comb through the tangle of her sister’s hair. “I can always braid it for you before you go to sleep,” she suggested, her brain still working on their lack-of-cat problem.

Caia held very still, hardly breathing as Tokara combed through one section of hair at a time.

“I bet,” Tokara’s thoughts spun as she spoke, “Tormy would want to play with us if we asked real nice.” She considered the obstacles, her tongue pushing against her cheek as she finished straightening Caia’s hair. The blond locks shone golden in the morning light. “Momma said Omen is busy and we shouldn’t bother him.”

“She said that?” Caia sounded mildly outraged even as she ran both palms over her now straight and sleek hair. “Thanks. I can’t ever get it to do that.”

“Mm-hmm. Just got to go slow.” Tokara thought about the chain of command as she handed the comb back to Caia. “We’d have to ask Omen’s permission to play with his cat, but if he’s too busy we can’t ask. And then we can’t have Tormy go down to Wood Frog Pond with us. But—” Figure it out, Caia, the solution is obvious. She didn’t want to suggest the idea herself.

“But we could skip Omen and just ask Tormy.” Caia caught on right away. “We shouldn’t bother Omen when he’s so busy.”

Both girls poked their heads over the railing again and looked down at the figures practicing hand-to-hand combat in the courtyard below: Omen, Templar, Liethan, and the girls’ grandfather Yoshihiro.

The night before at dinner, Omen had asked Yoshihiro if he’d be willing to train him and his friends in the Shindarian fighting arts. The table had grown very still, all aware that Omen’s naive question skirted close to outrageous disrespect. A highly traditional Shindarian sword master, Yoshihiro lacked the outgoing, generous nature of his son Diatho — the girls’ beloved father. The old man grumbled something unintelligible over his plate, but his tone was that of an unmistakable, unequivocal, no.

Tokara felt uncomfortable at once, but she greatly respected her grandfather and had been taught that his side of the family lived by a code of rules that reached back to his native land’s millennia-old history.

Unbendable. But we’re not in Shindar and some of his ancient rules are so silly. Like how he won’t train me and Caia because we’re girls. But then he’ll watch and help when Reeve and Rask teach us the lessons he just taught them.

A Shindarian sword master chooses his pupils; they can’t ask to be trained. Guess Omen didn’t know that rule.

Tokara’s mother had never directly spoken against Yoshihiro, but she blatantly ignored any of the Shindarian rules she disagreed with.

“What’s that, Omen?” Kadana had broken the dinner table silence with laughter in her voice. “Are you really going to ask a creaky old man to teach you to fight, when you could learn so much more from me?”

Tokara’s grandfather had merely clicked his tongue.

“I can’t believe Momma called Baba creaky to his face,” Caia had whispered.

“Don’t draw attention.” Tokara had given her sister a soft kick under the table, and both girls had simultaneously refocused their big-eyed attention to the entertaining back-and-forth.

Kadana had made a show of shaking her head — slowly, dramatically. “I’m deeply offended, grandson.”

Omen had flushed with embarrassment, and Tokara had started to feel sorry for him. She knew how her mother always teased, and she also knew that her mother took little offense at any perceived slight.

Momma’s just goofing on him. She’s always even-tempered, laughs at everything.

Yoshihiro had cleared his throat. “Perhaps, Kadana-sa,” he’d said with appeasement in his voice, “young Omen means not to study the swordplay that bashes and cuts. Perhaps his interest lies in the natural laws. Perhaps he is ready to learn not just the how but the why.”

Kadana had played at seriously considering his words, brows knotted. “You are so wise. The boys certainly would enjoy learning the throws and holds from you. A joint-lock or two could come in handy, I bet.” She’d turned to Omen. “What do you say, Omen? Will you take Yoshihiro up on his generous offer to train you?”

Tokara had tried not to giggle as Omen’s and Yoshihiro’s surprised expressions mirrored one another.

I wonder how long ago Momma set that in motion. She wants Omen to study with Baba, but she knows Baba would never take him on as a student. So, she tricked him. Tricked both of them.

The training had started early the next morning, and Tokara now watched intently as Baba flipped Omen over his head time and again. She could clearly hear the OOMPH of Omen’s large frame hitting the makeshift straw practice mat. Omen thought his size and strength would be a match for Baba. The old man had quickly proven that guess incorrect.

“Omen does look busy,” Tokara told her sister, the dinner’s events inspiring a ploy in her brain.

Caia leaned over the balcony a little farther. “Sure does. And Kyr and Tormy look like they’re just waiting around. I bet they’re getting bored.”

“And hungry,” Tokara added. “How long before they head over to the kitchens?”

“Not long,” Caia said with a smirk. “But shouldn’t we—”

She’s going to chicken out, Tokara thought with alarm.

“It’s finally summer,” Tokara started carefully. “If Momma won’t let us go down to Wood Frog Pond by ourselves—”

“She won’t let us go down to Wood Frog Pond by ourselves,” Caia said in a manner that felt entirely unhelpful to Tokara, “because of what happened last winter.”

“That has nothing to do with it,” Tokara said, instantly defensive. The search-and-rescue mission to Wood Frog Pond had been her idea when Caia’s puppy had gone missing. “Momma never let us go into the woods without Rask and Reeve before that time either. And since the boys are on the Corsair Islands with Papa, we’re stuck in the castle.”

“All summer long?” Caia asked, furrows of concern on her forehead.

“All summer long,” Tokara said lightly, hoping her sister would go with her on this.

“What if we just ask for someone else to come with us?” Caia considered, thoughtful. “Niadh, Neylie, and Zennie would go with us.”

“I already asked,” Tokara grumbled. “I wanted to surprise you. But Momma said that with all the company staying at the castle, everyone is too busy.”

Caia’s shoulders slumped.

“And Momma said that there could still be orclets or other critters running around the woods. Which means we’d need someone who is a good fighter to go with us.”

“Like Tormy?” Caia’s eyes lit up with excitement.

Tokara looked down again to where the giant cat now lay sprawled on the ground, fluffy belly exposed. The enormous orange and white feline snored so loudly the sound reached all the way up to the balcony.

“Just like Tormy.”

😺😺😺😺😺

Download the rest of the story for free from BookFunnel

 

 

Reader Wednesday — My Birthday Book Bonanza!

Happy birhtday, Ol’ Werewolf Whisperer buddy of mine 🐺

Bonita's Geeky Blog-Fu!

Today’s my birthday! Woohoo🎉

To celebrate, I’m sharing a bonanza of fantastic Sci-Fi/Fantasy freebies, giveaways and deals!

Happy Reading!

-Bonita

Here’s a FREE novella featuring a kickass heroine!

A CIRUCS OF DEVILS by C. Rene Astle

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KOBO readers! Love Fantasy? Love History? Then you’ll love this historical fantasy series. And it’s 40% off right now!

THE PENLLYN CHRONICLES by Troy A. Hill

Arthur is dead, and a dangerous game for Britain’s soul begins…
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GIVEAWAYS GALORE!

Click on the pics and download as many as you like for FREE!

And make sure to grab my book

BEAST OUT OF HELL: A WEREWOLF WHISPERER TALE.

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YA FANS! This giveaway is for you!

Be sure to download Camilla Ochlan’s OF CATS AND DRAGONS novella WINTER TITHE.

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This giveaway has a little bit of everything for everyone.

And…

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Reader Wednesday — NEWSLETTER DAY!

HAPPY NEW YEAR from TEAM WEREWOLF WHISPERER!

Bonita's Geeky Blog-Fu!

Empyrean Press presents the first BEASTY BITES newsletter of 2019 🎉

Learn more about our Urban Fantasy series – THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER and find great new reads. There’s even a FREEBIE from the world OF CATS AND DRAGONS by Camilla Ochlan!

Subscribe, and we’ll send you a FREE Werewolf Whisperer novella as our way of saying ¡Gracias!


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WINTER TITHE – a solstice tale

Season’s Greetings from Of Cats And Dragons!

Get WINTER TITHE free as our gift to you.

WINTER TITHE takes us to another corner of the world OF CATS AND DRAGONS. We find ourselves in the land of Kharakhan on the eve of the winter solstice. This time our hero is ten-year-old Tokara, one of Omen’s young relatives.

Tokara’s strong curiosity and loyalty to her sister bring her face-to-face with a monster older than the stars. But our girl has a brave heart and an irrepressible spirit, and the longest night of the year may still hold many secrets.

We hope WINTER TITHE brings you joy.

Our best,

Camilla & Carol

Read Chapter 1: Storybook here or download the whole story to your device.

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Chapter 1: Storybook

Tokara Deldano eyed the leather-bound tome resting in her mother’s lap. The girl had seen the dusty book before, high on the shelf and out of reach. Is Momma going to read to us? She pressed her lips together, trying to suppress the squeal of joy building up inside.

They had retired to the castle’s solar, the place where the whole family usually spent winter evenings playing board games or cards. Unfortunately, her father and brothers were away for the evening.

Despite the early hour, it was already dark, and — even though it was well before her own bedtime — Tokara felt tired and chilled to the bone. Caia, who was four years younger than Tokara, had started yawning before the pudding had been served and was half-asleep by the time they had climbed the tower stairs to the solar. The relentless harsh winds and weeks of icy temperatures were taking their toll on everybody.

Tokara let her eyes drift over the solar, her favorite room in the castle. Intricate tapestries lined all four stone walls. Her mother had brought the hanging pieces from a faraway land only last fall. Enormous, they depicted faerie stories and tales of magical beasts that made Tokara’s imagination tumble.

The room’s chilly stone floors had been layered with plush rugs, which created a spongy cushion for her every step, but this evening she’d pulled on two pairs of knitted socks before cramming her feet into her sheepskin-lined house boots. Leaning slightly forward on the stuffed leather hassock, she wiggled her toes, grateful for the arched fireplace so big that it could fit a team of pack mules. Fed throughout the day and evening, the fire kept the solar toasty and drove away the dampness.

Tokara turned her back to the fireplace, enjoying the warmth that spread from her lower back to her shoulder blades. She was glad her mother would not be traveling again until spring. Home was always merry for the Deldano children but never as merry as when their mother returned from one of her long voyages. Tokara also noted happily that her mother’s tremendous desk was bare. The farmers’ tithes had been collected after harvest, and the annual review of the estate and the Deldano lands had been concluded in time for the midwinter feast. According to tradition, the family would soon bring solstice gifts to the inhabitants of the Chain and the farms that surrounded the villages. Tokara always looked forward to the village celebrations and the feast that would follow at the castle.

As an early present, her father had taken both of her brothers ice fishing on Garganey Lake. Tokara shivered to think just how cold her father and the twins would be on this long and starless night. While she liked fishing, she was happy to have stayed behind. Her mother traveled so often throughout the year that having her home was solstice prize enough for Tokara.

The flames in the fireplace jumped up and sent a pleasant blast of warmth up her spine. Tokara looked over at little Caia. The six-year-old lay contently curled on the thick lambskin rugs, nestled between the family’s five hunting dogs. Caia and the dogs were fast asleep; the youngest, a seventy-pound monster of a six-month-old puppy, snored in Caia’s tightly wound grasp.

“I think Howler belongs to Caia,” her mother said softly. “He’s taken to her.”

Tokara nodded firmly. She longed to pet the pup’s short velvety coat but kept her hands to herself.

“You don’t mind?” Her mother turned her bright and penetrating gaze on her.

“A little.” Tokara could never lie to her parents. “I thought Howler would be my special dog.” She shifted her body and leaned toward the leather chair to be closer to her mother.

Dressed in warm robes that brought out the green of her eyes, her honey-blond curls loose around her shoulders, Kadana Deldano looked far less commanding than usual.

Tokara loved these rare moments when her mother was relaxed and completely present. She admired her mother greatly, but at times like this, Tokara’s heart swelled with adoration as well. Momma is the most beautiful woman in the world.

“Why did you think that?” Her mother wasn’t searching for a specific answer; she just wanted to know the truth.

“Well, I thought, since Fergus and Liam and Becca and Rawley are twins, they obviously belong to our twins.” Tokara thought about how one of each of the hound twins had sought out one of her twin brothers to follow around and worship. “Fergus and Becca are always with Rask. And Liam and Rawley can’t wait for Reeve to play with them, even though they are really working dogs.”

“You noticed the dogs didn’t go ice fishing with the Rask and Reeve?” her mother pointed out with a smirk. “The dogs stayed here where it’s warm.”

Tokara nodded, aware. “I thought when Daddy brought home a puppy this summer, that it would be my puppy. Because I’m next in line.”

“I see why you might think that.”

“But Caia loves Howler. Can’t sleep without him.” Tokara spoke from experience. “He’s a baby, and she’s our baby. So, it all does make a lot of sense.”

“You sound very grown up, my sweet girl.” Her mother put her hand on the leather tome. “The giants of the earth could learn from you.” She smiled. “Did I ever tell you the story of Straakhan . . . and Bumpus?”

Tokara leaned against the overstuffed arm of the chair. “I don’t know that story, Momma.”

Kadana opened the great book to the middle and began to flip pages, searching for the story. The leather binding brushed softly against her woolen robes.

Tokara held her breath. Her mother didn’t often take time to read to them. Far more often she’d take her children hunting or run them through sword drills or archery practice. Under her mother’s strict tutelage, Tokara had learned to ride a pony when she was only three. Story time was more the realm of her father and sometimes the Melian relatives on the rare occasions they visited.

Kadana carefully shifted the book, folding out a longer page to three times its length. The rustling of paper caught Howler’s attention. The puppy raised his copper head, looked around the room, bleary-eyed, and gave a hearty yawn. Then he settled back down and rested the full weight of his head on Caia’s shoulder. The little girl didn’t stir.

“In days long ago . . .” The story began the traditional way. “Straakhan built his castle in the impenetrable forest of—”

“Is it our castle, Momma?” Tokara thought she already knew the answer.

“Yes, this is the castle Straakhan built,” her mother confirmed.

Tokara sighed. “A castle built by one of the giants of Imlidral. . .” She let the mystery of it hang in the air.

“Straakhan wasn’t just one of the giants of Imlidral, you know. The blood of the faerie coursed through him as well,” her mother went on. “And once, when the days were short and the nights were long, Straakhan left his castle to search for a companion.

“He didn’t like spending time with the other giants. But he had grown weary of being alone. So, he sought new company.” Her mother looked up from her book. “What kind of companion do you think he found?”

“Wouldn’t he seek a human companion?” Tokara asked. “A friend?”

“Remember, this was in days long ago,” her mother said. “So long ago that there were no humans.”

Tokara considered. “Was it a cat?” she asked, finally. “A mighty, fierce cat like Tormy?” She’d never met the talking cat, which was rumored to be the size of a pony, but the stories told of Omen and Tormy’s adventures were fantastical and amazing. She wondered if they were all true.

“I don’t know if Straakhan knew about Tormy’s kin,” her mother said. “I’ve never heard stories of such cats before.”

“My third guess . . .” Tokara looked at the pile of dogs. “My third guess is that he sought the company of a dog.”

“He would have, my dearest.” Her mother flipped the pages of the book. “But in those days so long ago, there were no dogs.”

“No dogs, Momma?” Tokara set her lips to a pout. “Dogs have always been. Haven’t they?”

“Nothing has always been.” Kadana tapped the page.

The story wasn’t going the way Tokara had expected. Her lips trembled slightly, questions dancing through her head like snowflakes caught up in an unexpected gust. “Did Straakhan ever find a pet?” she asked finally.

“Not a pet,” her mother corrected. “A companion. There’s a big difference.”

“Did he find a companion, Momma?”

“Straakhan went out into the forest. In the deepest, darkest part of the woods, he saw a great beast. The creature was so large and so fierce, he dared not approach it, but he watched its movements for many days.

“It was mighty indeed: large jaws filled with fearsome, snapping teeth; fat paws round as stones with claws drawn out and sharp; a coat as brown as the earth and as thick and long as pine needles. When it roared, the trees trembled and the moon hid behind the sun.

“The creature holed up in a cave for a long time, and Straakhan lay in wait, his patience growing thin. When the mighty one emerged from the cave again, Straakhan knew the wait had been worth it.

“With her, for Straakhan learned then that the creature was a female, were four little ones of her kind. Three were brown like their mother, but one — the largest — was white as milk and had eyes blue as the sky at noon.

“Over many months of waiting and watching, Straakhan won the trust of the mother. He brought her food, watched over the cubs, and protected them from enemies. A season passed, and the cubs grew.

“One day, the family moved on while Straakhan slept. He woke to find them gone and the cave empty. His heart was broken, for he had come to love them all.

“But as he turned away, knowing he would have to return to his empty castle all alone, the snowy white youngling with the blue eyes came to his side.

“He named him Bumpus.”

“Bumpus is a funny name,” Tokara interrupted.

“Bumpus is a funny name, and Straakhan was delighted by his funny companion.”

“Was Bumpus a good companion?”

“The very best, most loyal companion. Bumpus grew to be incredibly big and strong. His long coat was white in winter and golden in summer. Bumpus followed Straakhan everywhere, like a puppy.”

“Is there a picture in the book?” Tokara asked impetuously.

Her mother stiffened slightly, but she turned the book so Tokara could study the folded-out page.

The parchment was brittle but the picture seemed fresh, nearly gleaming. A tall, handsome man in leathers stood next to an enormous creature Tokara thought looked like both a wolf and a bear.

“Is that Bumpus?” she asked, pointing her finger at the white wolf-bear. “His neck is thick; his legs are like tree stumps; his jaw is round like a bear’s, but everything else about him is like a wolf. And he walks on four feet.”

Her mother nodded. “And don’t forget, Straakhan was a giant. So Bumpus is much larger than a regular wolf standing next to a regular man.”

Tokara thought that Straakhan in the painting was nearly as handsome as her oldest brother. “Straakhan looks a lot like Beren,” she said absently.

Her mother chuckled softly.

“I don’t recognize this language, Momma.” Tokara tilted her head to look at the odd letters, which appeared to her as if a chicken had danced across the page.

“The writing is very, very old,” her mother said. “Don’t worry. You won’t have to learn it.”

Tokara wanted to hear more, but a powerful yawn took hold of her. She quickly flung her hands to her face to cover her mouth.

“Straakhan and Bumpus were the best of companions. They traveled the world and had many adventures.” Her mother closed the book, stifling a yawn of her own. “It’s getting to be bedtime, for all of us.”

“Were Bumpus and Straakhan companions forever?” Tokara hoped to draw out the tale.

“Not forever, my sweet.” Her mother returned the book to the side table.

Though afraid to hear more, Tokara couldn’t stop herself from asking. “What happened?” she whispered anxiously.

A sad smile played on her mother’s lips. “What always happens. When it was time for Bumpus to pass, Straakhan wouldn’t accept it. Straakhan, through his faerie blood, was immortal. He wanted his companion to be immortal as well.”

“And that couldn’t happen.” Tokara felt a lump form in her throat.

“Oh no, Tokara.” Her mother took a deep breath. “It did happen. Straakhan railed against the gods and nature. He found a way to make Bumpus immortal.”

“But then everything was all right.” Tokara didn’t understand why her mother had made it seem like the story’s end would be sad.

“Straakhan made a lot of enemies in his quest to make Bumpus immortal. He defied many powerful immortals and put worlds in danger. He cared for nothing but obtaining his goal. Straakhan got what he wanted. But not the way he wanted it.

“Once Bumpus was immortal like Straakhan, the powerful ones he had offended punished Straakhan. They banished him to a solitary realm, a place that could only hold one immortal at a time. If a second immortal joined him there, they would both be torn apart, splintered into the tiniest bits of energy and pure power. Destroyed for eternity.

“If Bumpus hadn’t been immortal, he would have been able to join Straakhan in his exile. The very gift of immortality held them apart, will hold them apart for all eternity.”

Tokara’s eyes stung. “What happened to Bumpus?”

“Bumpus was left all alone. His family long dead, none of his kind walked the earth.”

Tokara frowned. “This is only a story, right Momma?”

Her mother tilted her head. “This happened in days so long ago, it might as well be called ‘only a story.’ But I want you to think of the responsibility that comes with gaining a companion. Straakhan ruined himself for the love of Bumpus, and his heart breaks every day anew.”

Tokara looked over at Caia snuggling closer to Howler. “So, is it bad to have a companion? Does it always end in sadness? If it’s like that, I don’t think I want one.”

“My little philosopher,” her mother said. “You have to live and love wherever your heart takes you. And sometimes love of another takes you down a thorny path. That is life.”

Tokara looked at her mother’s smiling face and the cozy dog pile, her sister at its center. “Life is beautiful and cruel then.”

“Let’s get you girls ready for bed,” her mother said. She scooped Caia from the rug, lifting the sleeping girl as if she weighed less than a feather.

Howler, stretching and yawing, padded out of the room after them.

Tokara’s eyes fell on the leather tome. Impulsively, she picked it up from the table and followed her mother and sister to the sleeping chambers.

Download all of  Winter Tithe through December

Happy holidays!

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Reader Wednesday — The Werewolf Whisperer Paperback Is Here!

Bonita's Geeky Blog-Fu!

I’m super excited to share that the first book in my urban fantasy series — THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER  — is now available in paperback!

If you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, grab a copy. Nothing says Feliz Navidad like the werewolf apocalypse!

WWW paperback stocking

Ferocious Werewolf Virus Hits L.A.
Werebeasts Rampage Through The Streets.
The City’s In Chaos.
Nobody’s Safe.

Enter Lucy Lowell, The Werewolf Whisperer.

Some call her savior.

Some call her bitch.

Xochi Magaña just calls her, FRIEND.

Together they kick Werebutt.

They thought there’d be no stopping them.

They didn’t know the half of it.

Welcome to the werewolf apocalypse. Hope you’re locked and loaded.

2018 Golden Quill Reader’s Choice

“THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER takes the lycanthrope legend to the OPPOSITE of obedience school. The result is a feral genre mix breed that will maul your expectations as if it were a McRib sandwich” – Goodreads Review

You’ll…

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THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER FREEBIE!

Free First in Series! Welcome to the Werewolf Apocalypse!

Bonita's Geeky Blog-Fu!

CYBER MONDAY STARTS TODAY

Get my book for FREE November 25 & 26!

Ferocious Werewolf Virus Hits L.A.
Werebeasts Rampage Through The Streets. 
The City’s In Chaos.
Nobody’s Safe.

Enter Lucy Lowell, The Werewolf Whisperer.

Some call her savior.

Some call her bitch.

Xochi Magaña just calls her, FRIEND.

Together they kick Werebutt.

They thought there’d be no stopping them.

They didn’t know the half of it.

Welcome to the werewolf apocalypse. Hope you’re locked and loaded.

2018 Golden Quill Reader’s Choice

Reviews

Exciting, grounded, complex.” – LIMITLESS/JERICHO screenwriter Stephen Scaia

“Finally, a great buddy story featuring women!The Werewolf Whisperer is suspenseful, action packed, funny, sad, dark…it is so many things. Even if you’ve never picked up an urban fantasy novel (this was my first!), you’ll tear through this one. And, it’ll leave you ready for more!” – HER PROCESS Jo Bozarth

“The crux…

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Outfitting an Adventurer

 

1540592693swordDrawing copy

When we first started writing these books, Omen dressed in generic leather armor and wore his great sword on his back. But after a while I started to wonder, just how generic IS leather armor, and is it really practical to wear a sword on your back? Certainly popular movies and video games would imply that such is the norm. Of course if you watch carefully you’ll notice some curious things — you rarely see a movie actor actually drawing the sword from the sheath on their back — the camera cuts away, and when it cuts back, there’s the sword in their hand. And you NEVER see them sheathe the sword. They might mime putting it behind their back, but you never see it actually go into the sheath.

Video games are even worse — typically the sword just sort of floats on the character’s back and is drawn with the click of a button.

Thus started the research.

There are some awesome Youtubers who have actually covered both these topics in length: Shadiversity and Metatron.

I am a fan of both and have taken a lot of their advice for my writing over the years. Shadiversity has several detailed videos about leather armor — no, it was not ‘generic’ and while you do occasionally find some instances of its use, it was fairly rare. It was a lot more practical to make useful things like shoes out of leather back in the day. A knight who was not wearing full plate armor, was typically wearing a gambeson made of cotton. The gambeson was also worn under the plate armor for both added padding and added protection. Multiple layers of cotton actually make great armor — capable of even stopping an arrow. Leather, unless specially treated or inset with iron, probably won’t stop an arrow.

And so Omen’s leather became a gambeson in the first book, Night’s Gift. He’s actually wearing real armor in the Autumn King trilogy made of specialized alloy found in his homeland of Lydon. (Yes, I researched iron, iron ore smelting, the differences between iron and steel, and how to make alloys. I’m addicted!) As a prince he’s able to get any type of armor he might want — but when he’s just goofing around and not expecting trouble (silly boy!) the gambeson was sufficient for his needs.

Which brings me to his sword — he DOES wear his sword on his back. Both Shadiversity and Metatron have covered this subject repeatedly. Originally both said that no, wearing your sword on your back is not a thing — especially a long sword (there are historical records of people wearing swords on their backs, but it was fairly rare). It’s extremely difficult to draw a sword worn on your back — you can’t draw it past a certain length simply because your arms are not long enough. And putting it away is a bit of a nightmare — same problem with the length, but also how are you supposed to see where to put it?

My problem was the sheer size of Omen’s sword. Omen is freakishly tall and freakishly strong due to his immortal heritage. The great sword he carries is also extremely large — at least six feet in length. It would be highly impractical to carry such a weapon on a belt holder at his side. It’s just too big. He pretty much has to carry it on his back. And so I came up with the idea of the quick release latch on the baldric (strap worn across the body to hold the sword in place). When he needs to draw the weapon, he simply releases the strap, and the sheath and sword slide free of his back allowing him to draw it with two hands.

The reality is swords are not really ‘quick draw’ devices. This isn’t the old west where survival depended on who drew first. Typically you have some sort of warning when it comes to a sword fight. And in Omen’s case he can also use his psionics to push an enemy away from him while he draws his weapon.

This research (both Shadiversity and Metatron) is also the reason why Dev does not wear his arrow quiver on his back. Ever tried to run with a quiver of arrows on your back? (I actually have.) They fall out the moment you pick up even a little bit of speed. They need to be firmly secured in the quiver — which pretty much defeats the whole quick drawn idea as well. An archer who wanted to shoot quickly either carried the extra arrows in his hand, or kept them stuck in the ground within easy reach. Otherwise they were securely bound to keep them from falling all over the place.

So yes, Omen wears his sword on his back — or keeps it strapped to Tormy’s saddle when it isn’t needed.

To my surprise, a few days ago, Shadiversity released a new video on this subject. He was so excited to announce that he had discovered a way to actually wear your sword on your back (he’s a delightful personality if you’re interested in this sort of topic). He’s invented a specialized sheath for exactly this purpose — allows him to both drawn and re-sheath his sword with one hand. And in his words — it really does look cool!

Cover art for Night's Gift

 

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https://www.facebook.com/ofcatsanddragons/

 

 

 

Care and Feeding

This week marks the release of the fifth installment in our OF CATS AND DRAGONS series. Carol and I are thrilled that the stories are finding their audience and really resonating with fantasy and cat fans.

We even hit #1 on Amazon for several days in a row before, during, and after the release:

ak#1_mag_prerelease copy

My great concern was that once this book was finished, we’d hit some sort of creative malaise. The journey hasn’t been terribly clear since we put out book one in August of 2017. Those who follow this blog know why, of course. While we still had a bit of rewriting and editing to complete, all five books (and the one novella) had been written before we released NIGHT’S GIFT.

We have a lot of plans, but now we’re in new territory. Scary stuff. Potentially paralyzing stuff.

I realize how fragile I am, as a creative. I know I have to be very careful not to give into fears and mental blocks. But practically, what can I do to stop sabotage that is mostly subconscious?

My answer — the answer that works for me — is “small bites.” Do a little something every day. But go back every day.

And so, I struggled to write a new short story that follows the main event in AUTUMN KING. Carol and I had batted the idea around for about a year, but the story just didn’t want to fully form. I finally sat down to write it at the beginning of October, and it was hard.

I’d spend a day writing one paragraph, some days only one sentence. But I went back every single day. I didn’t allow myself to be frustrated. I just put my head down and focused on the love I have for the characters and how much I want to share their adventures.

And one day, the first draft was done. Then Carol and I pitched it back and forth a bit, making changes, discussing tweaks, rewriting, editing, bringing it to life.

And where there’d been nothing, suddenly there was something.

Did it take longer than I expected?

Sure.

Does that matter in the long run?

Nope.

The only thing that counts is that we just completed another story.

The only thing that counts is that we keep going.

Carol, for her part, has been working hard both on her writing and on her artwork. Besides the beautiful new cover she did for SUMMER’S FALL (more of that in a future blog), she’s added to the OF CATS AND DRAGONS blog with some fun insights about the characters, about her research, and about her artwork.

I’ve been so inspired by her blogging, that I want to share her thoughts with you.

Hope you enjoy this little treatise on:

Care and Feeding of a Tormy

by Carol E. Leever

A lot of decisions go into writing a book, and one of the things Camilla and I had to decide on was the diet of the Tormy Cats. (Incidentally — the cats actually have a name that they call themselves which will no doubt show up in a future book, but Camilla and I have always affectionately called them the Tormy Cats.)

I have been owned by 7 cats in my life. My first, a beautiful Siamese, lived 17 years. After she died I didn’t get another cat until Camilla and I became college roommates; between the two of us we ended up with 5 cats — one of which was the original Tormy. Yes, he was a real cat, and utterly unique. He was a beautiful orange and white Maine Coon, who would serenade us every night with soft little happy trills after he’d eaten his dinner. We were so heartbroken when he died unexpectedly that I put him into our D&D games so that he would live on in our imaginations.

My current cat, a little quirky Tabby, had a terrible food allergy when she was a kitten. I tried every type of food on the market, including some ridiculously expensive types that just seem to make things worse. I had come across research into the ‘raw food diet’ on the internet and in desperation finally decided to try that.

The theory is that cats, if they lived in the wild, would only eat meat (and the occasional grain that might be found in the stomach of a mouse). Cats are carnivores after all. The raw food diet consists of ground meat and bone (uncooked!) supplemented with some vitamins and enzymes such as Taurine and B-complex. You can find the formula on the internet.

The new diet cured all my cat’s problems literally within 12 hours. She was horribly sick one moment (and had been for the first year and a half of her life) and then instantly cured with the new diet. I pretty much resolved right there that all future meals would consist of the raw food diet.

Which brings us to the Tormy Cats. Cats are carnivores; they eat meat. They LOVE eating meat. And I don’t want anyone to base their cat’s diet on what the Tormy Cats eat in our books. The original Tormy (our beautiful Maine Coon) also loved peas, corn, cantaloupe, and blueberry muffins. We also had a cat who loved pancakes — to the point that whenever we made pancakes we had to make an extra one for her. But just because they will eat carbohydrates, does not mean they are good for the cats or natural for them to eat.

Regardless of all this, I made a definitive choice to make the Tormy Cats omnivores. And I did it for a very specific reason. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the reasons we human beings are so smart (lol!) is because we started eating carbohydrates — that in fact an all meat diet would not provide the caloric intake necessary to produce the larger brains we possess. I reasoned that since the Tormy Cats are obviously far more intelligent than their domestic counterparts, they too would likely need a different diet.

So yes, Tormy eats pie, and donuts, and custard, and moffles (mouse-waffles). But like all cats he, and Tyrin, and the others (yes, there are a BUNCH of other cats out there) LOVE meat, particularly fish. Tormy’s favorite however is prime rib. These cats would be a nightmare on the pocketbook.

So please, keep feeding your own cats proper diets (research the raw food diet and see if it’s something you’re interested in). But know that donuts are perfectly permissible for Tormy and all his brethren.

*

To see a picture of the “real” Tormy, check out our OF CATS AND DRAGONS blog.