Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Re-Release of The Willow and the Stone

Next week will see a newly edited version of The Willow and the Stone released in print and e-book. I am so happy to be offering this re-issue. If you haven’t picked up my first science fiction novel, this is the version you’ll want. Read on for a description and the first chapter of the award-winning book that Manic Readers Review site called “sometimes shocking, often heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful”.


Four years ago, insectile aliens arrived on Earth in great pyramid ships. Now mankind is reduced to a few pockets of survivors, skulking in the shadows to elude the creatures that rule the planet. Among those survivors are Carli Dixon and Renee Johnson, an ill-matched pair thrown together through circumstance.

Battling their extraterrestrial enemy and the betrayal of their own kind, Carli and Renee struggle against impossible odds to find safety. Rescuing each other from certain death cements their friendship. But to survive and save others like themselves, they must risk everything … including each other.

Chapter 1

Renee slapped her hand over her companion’s mouth. The brunette manhandled the smaller woman into the shadows beneath the stone bridge they’d just emerged from. Carli didn’t struggle against Renee’s grip. Instead, she squealed a muffled cry of protest into the stagnant West Virginia night air.

“Sssssshh!” Renee hissed, her grip tightening. “Aliens!”

Carli froze against her for an instant before breaking free. She slammed herself against the inside of the arch to merge with the blackest of shadows. Renee crowded her, also sliding into the dubious cover of darkness. The bridge, more picturesque than a bastion of protection, was small with wooden beams buttressing the stones above. A perfect spot for vacationing tourists to pose on for pictures to bore their co-workers with, but a ridiculous spot to depend on for one’s life.

Two monstrous creatures glided into view, their elongated insectoid figures silhouetted in the bright moonlight. They stalked up to the bridge that spanned the dry, dusty creek bed and joined the women in the darkness. Carli and Renee melted behind a support beam.

Trapped, Carli’s frantic mind whispered. The monsters had them for sure this time. She squeezed her eyes shut but couldn’t block out the aliens’ cricket speech. They chirped and chittered, grating against her ears. She wished she could be struck deaf. Sweat tickled its way down her spine.

Muscular Renee, who couldn’t begin to approach the power of the spindly aliens, tensed beside her. The creatures came abreast of the hidden women, chirping ear-bleeding conversation right in front of them. Carli tried to shrink further back, mashing her backside into the unyielding, unsympathetic stone. Renee crushed against her.

A pebble slid from under Carli’s foot and clinked in protest as it dislodged and rolled down the slope. Her mouth flew open to scream; surely the monsters heard the rock crash down. No whistle of sound escaped her locked, straining throat, but her heart was a bass drum of thunder booming through the night.

Her eyes screwed shut against the sight of the looming predators, Carli waited for the bristle-haired mantis arms of an alien to embrace her. She waited for its needle proboscis to slide into her flesh and secrete its paralyzing poison. She waited to sag helpless in the grip of the monster while it sipped the life from her veins. She waited to die a slow, fading death. Her heart pounded louder than ever, as if to beat as hard and fast as it could in its few remaining minutes.

The chittering aliens, intent on their conversation, stalked past. Disbelieving, Carli’s eyes flew open. She watched them pass from under the bridge. Motes of moon-glittering dust danced in the wake of the monsters’ long, tapered legs.

She released the breath she’d been holding in a rush and sucked it in again as one alien swiveled its head around. It looked back at the bridge that hid the two women.

Carli’s stomach lurched at the pale orb of the creature’s face glowing in the moonlight. Wispy tufts of hair sprang in sparse bunches from its bullet-shaped head. Its proboscis writhed like a blind worm where a nose and mouth would have been on a human. Its grayish flesh seemed stretched too tight over its skull; there were no wrinkles, not even creases on its face.

Its eyes shocked her the most. The monster’s eyes were cold in intent but horribly human in appearance, almond shaped and ringed with black lashes.

The creatures’ naked torsos were long and smooth without benefit of hair, muscle tone, or even genitalia. Carli had no idea if skin or a harder shell covered their bones. Happily she’d never been in contact with one. Odds were she’d someday lose that joy.

The searching alien’s too-human eyes slid over the women without alerting. Carli’s body sagged as the creature turned away and stalked on with its companion.

The women huddled under the bridge listening to the monsters’ conversation die away and smelling the sour tang of their own sweat. Carli shuddered violently. She knew that Renee could feel her quaking and didn’t care. Renee was probably shaking too. This had been their closest call yet.

Frogs broke into chorus from their shelters within the tall grass on the banks. Renee shook free of her paralysis, grabbed Carli’s hand, and yanked her out into the open. Under the moon’s accusing glare they sped away, tearing a path through the grass to escape the creatures that had all but destroyed the human race.


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