The pale moon’s light barely penetrated the forest’s thick canopy as a woman darted between the trees. Her feet pounded the trail as she sprinted, giving percussion to the woodland’s nighttime whispers. Garbed in cape and cowl, the only part of the woman’s body visible were her hands, which were wrapped around a tiny bundle she had cradled against her breasts.
Her footfalls came to an abrupt stop as she approached a rim of trees surrounding a meadow. There, she stood for a moment, surveying the clearing. The moonlight shined brightly here, its rays exaggerating the variances between light and shadows.
The woman tiptoed to a cluster of flat boulders that lounged in the center of the meadow. She ran a gaze across the edges of the clearing before she laid down the bundle.
A tiny coo sounded from the blanket as it stirred.
The woman jabbed a toe against the side of the bundle and an infant’s cry filled the air.
With a hard yank, the woman removed her cowl. Then, she shouted, “I call your con.” Her eyes settled on the crying baby at her feet. “Now fetch him back,” she said, her voice low and threatening.
She gave the baby a solid kick before she marched out of the meadow and disappeared into the tree line headed in the direction she’d come.
The baby’s crying ceased for a long moment, shocked by the pain of the woman’s kick, before it resumed wailing. The blanket around it fell free as the child pathetically writhed upon the rock, bare to the air’s nocturnal chill. Its crying continued until the moon slipped passed its nightly summit, quieting then into a soft snivel.
On the other side of the meadow, the undergrowth shook and a badger-sized creature slunk from the foliage. It lifted a pointed nose and sniffed the air before silently creeping across the grass toward the child. The shadows of the boulders hid the creature until it stood upright to study the squalling baby.
Fur covered the creature’s bent back and haunches while its head, limbs, and protruding belly were hairless. Its face was man-like but for its overly pointed features and the sharp angles that toiled over its surface.
A short but cautious climb brought the creature up even with the babe. Its thin lips pulled back from a set of serrated teeth and a low growl rumbled through its chest as it gazed down at the child’s tender flesh. With one of its jagged claws, it snagged the blanket and brought it to its nose for a smell. Then, it turned its eyes back on the baby.
The baby let out a gentle sigh and a hiccup before its body began to vibrate. The creature took a timid step backward as the baby’s features morphed. Chubby arms and legs stretched into scrawny ones. Meanwhile the child’s rounded cheeks pulled back tightly across a sharp terrain of bone and cartilage. Soon, another creature, similar to the first, stood where the baby once lay.
The first creature squinted at the second. “Say, Fornk,” it said, its words dripping each syllable as if they were wrapped in mucus, “Ya back so soon?”
“Leaves me alone, Shnives,” Fornk snarled in answer. He shoved the other creature out of the way, stomped to the edge of the rock, and hopped off.
The first creature, Shnives, jumped off the rock and landed beside Fornk.
Fornk growled at Shnives before he started marching across the meadow toward the tree line. “The mortal called con.”
“Whats gaves ya away this time? Huh, Fornk? Huh?” Shnives asked, trailing behind Fornk.
“She saws my eyes.” Fornk glanced up at the moon. Its light flashed a yellow glow against his retinas. “It’s always the eyes.”
“Let’s keeps hims though anyway,” Shnives said. “Besides, I likes hims better than ya already anyhows.”
With a grunt, Fornk spun on the other creature. “You knows we can’t do thats, Shnives,” he said, poking him in the chest. “She called con. Remembers? Now we must fetches hers back the wee one.”
Shnives’ head drooped. “But I loves hims.”
“And I loved hers—the mother,” Fornk said, his shoulders slumping. “Almost hads me somes forever kin at last.” He wiped a long-fingered hand down his face before turning back around and continuing toward the woods. “But it’s law. We must returns the wee one.”
Shnives followed, kicking at the ground as he went. “Whats does we does after thats, Fornk?”
“We snatches us another wee one,” Fornk answered. He stepped from the meadow and under the comfortable cover of the ancient forest, Shnives close behind him.
“And if thats one calls con?”
“We snatches us another. You knows this Shnives. We’re changelings. It’s whats we does.”
With 2016 almost in the books, I am looking at 2017 with new focus.
My writing goal for the year of is to complete first drafts for books five and six of my series. I’ve tapped out loads of words in the past few months – completing the first book of a second series this December – and I want to ride this wave while it’s still swelling. Of course, this goal will need to be accommodating to any work that comes my way regarding my first book. My agent; Hubert O’ Hearn of Four Freedoms Publishing is working to get it assigned with a publisher. Any revisions for that novel will take priority over everything else on my desk as they come.
I am also looking forward to writing several short stories, both independent and in parallel to the novel series. I am currently working on is a twenty-five hundred word story that sends one of my novel characters into a minotaur’s maze. I have several more ideas for shorts, but they’re still floating.
As for you, my friends and readers, I hope that 2017 will bring you joy, fortune, and the fulfillment of many accomplishments. Stay sharp, be focused, and meet your challenges with a deadly intensity.
Sincerely, J. Rae Moore
The world runs on stories. Watch television. It could be the five o’ clock news, a sitcom, or a movie—they’re all stories. Listen to the radio. The lyrics to the songs, a Dj’s repartee, and the advertisements you’ll hear are all stories. Every single second you spend on social media, you’re bombarded with them—stories on which celebrity did what, on which team beat which team, or what juncture each of your friends are at in their life. Blogs, advice columns, rant rooms—there’s no escaping them. Even after you click off that electronic device, stories are everywhere—in jokes told, in gossip spread, in simple conversation, or even within our own minds. We are a world of many cultures united in the enjoyment a good story can bring.
And who brings all these stories to life? A writer, of course. Without writing, where would we be? Word of mouth is only trustworthy for so long before it stretches and bends into something else. History is only solid when it is written down. That story bouncing around in your head won’t stay there forever. It needs to be written.
While we, as people, crave stories as a world in whole, as individuals, we each seek out stories as diverse as we are. From fiction to nonfiction, romance to politics, fantasy to historical, there are all kinds of readers out there. So also, does there need to be writers ready to provide it them.
Still, most writers have doubted the sanity of writing at one point or another. Some question the worth and value of their works. Others routinely feel guilty about the time they spend scratching on paper or tapping keys. Then there are those who view the time they put into writing as self-indulgent. And, most writers worry that there are other, more important things they should be doing with their time.
WRITING IS IMPORTANT!
YOUR WRITING IS IMPORTANT!
Writing matters because the world needs stories.
So, writers, do not doubt the worth of your work. When you find yourself questioning the sanity of spending hours on end putting down words, remember that the world runs on stories: big and small. Whether it’s happy, sad, fantastically bizarre, written to upset the status quo, funny, or comforting, your story will be written in the unique way that only you can write it.
(Photos from Bing images license: free to share
We are the creators of our destinies. There is no master itinerary written out, planning our lives step by step. We make our own choices. Ultimately, these choices lead us all to the same destination—no one get out of here alive, right? But, the sights we see along the way are totally dependent on where we decide to look. I’m not the only one who thinks like this. Here’s a list of quotes by some famous folks about the power we have over our own destinies.
* It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. William Shakespeare
* The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. Ralph Waldo Emerson
* Every people should be originators of their own destiny. Martin Delany
* Control your own destiny or someone else will. Jack Welch
* Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved. William Jennings Bryan
* Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences. J.K. Rowling
* The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny. Albert Ellis
* Destiny is a feeling you have that you know something about yourself nobody else does. The picture you have in your own mind of what you’re about will come true. It’s a kind of a thing you kind of have to keep to your own self, because it’s a fragile feeling, and you put it out there, then someone will kill it. It’s best to keep that all inside. Bob Dylan
* I believe we make our own destinies, every last one of us. Morgan Rhodes (Rebel Spring)
* Know what you want and reach out eagerly for it. Lailah Gifty Akita (Pearls of Wisdom: Great Mind)
* You speak of destiny as if it was fixed. Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass)
* It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. Tony Robbins
*Go, set goals, strive for greatness, find your destiny, and stop waiting around. Then, instead of letting things happen to you, you’ll make things happen. Only then can you honestly say, “I did that.” J. Rae Moore
(All photos from Bing Image, License: free to use and share)