New Inkshares Project

I’ve queried and pitched and pitched and queried. So, I’m trying something new.

I actually love this novel I’ve written, and I think you will too. Check out the summary and partial first chapter. If you like what you read, and you’d like to read more (and preferably the whole thing), please follow and pre-order. It can happen if I get enough support from those of you who like me and/or what I write. And, if it’s not your bag, baby, that’s cool too.

Here’s the link: SOUL SEARCHING

Thanks,

Beth

Where the Wild Things Hunt

Shadow stood on the edge where the dormant grass met the rip-rap-covered bank.  In the bay, the water gently lapped against grayish rocks.  Rusty water, made less inviting by the bright sunlight.  Through oval glasses he didn’t need, he stared at the ferry as it approached the docks.  He’d been compelled to wear them, putting on the face of an intellectual.  People stereotyped glasses-wearers as geeks, nerds, and squares long before Velma began single-handedly solving mysteries for the gang.  He could play off that for the day.

Looking to his left, Shadow recognized the teenaged boy sitting on a tripod stool in front of an easel.  He knew that the boy painted ocean scenes in watercolor, all the same shade of blue but with different concentrations of the color.  Several empty tubes of acrylic lay scattered around the boy’s feet and on the easel two cups – one for water, one for paint.

The boy moved the brush over the paper with inhuman speed, starting in the upper left and working his way to the lower right.  He didn’t wait for it to dry.  As soon as one was finished, he flipped the paper over the top of the pad to reveal a fresh, white sheet.  Always intrigued, Shadow walked over to stand behind him and watch as the boy transferred the world onto paper.

“Sea, sea, sea, sea,” the boy murmured over and over as his arm jerked and hitched.

Shadow couldn’t understand how such uncontrolled movements made something so beautiful.  The result was a surprisingly realistic rendering with exquisite detail to the tiny crests of waves.  For only a moment, he took the pad from the boy and flipped through the paintings.  As he flipped, Shadow saw the nebulous blob that marked the position of the ferry make steady progress toward the dock.

“Sea, sea, SEA, SEA.”  The boy grew increasingly agitated.

“Yes, I know,” Shadow said to him and returned the pad.  “It’s the only thing you see clearly.”

“Sea,” the boy sighed and resumed painting.

Shadow took the ferry to the island.  It was a small boat, and the waves were rough, but since the trip was uneventful, he tuned out for a while.  He never noticed the young woman, no more than twenty, staring at him with large blue eyes rimmed with black liner.  She longed for a hat as she fought to keep her pageboy-cut hair out of her eyes.  Eventually, she settled for holding each side of her hair in her fists.

Beyond the draw of a handsome face, she marveled that Shadow’s hair hardly moved.  The wind picked up only a few strands and twice saw him scratch at the stubble on his face.  Other than that, he didn’t move, and she wondered how anyone could be so still for so long.  She thought that, if he embraced her, her ear would rest just over his heart.

On the island, Shadow stared into the forest while the others set up camp.  The young woman spoke to him, and he greeted her, letting his eyes pass over her face to record it for future reference.  Her eyes, hope and good will seemed to arrow out of them, and he wondered if other things – hate, fear, lust – would also come through them, not only transparently but forcefully so.  He gave her a half-smile and a half-laugh, which she returned with a wide, guileless grin.  Clingy, he thought and walked away from her to the main tent.

Fourteen feet-by-fourteen feet, the tent stood in a patch of evergreen needles just large enough to contain it.  Two adjacent sides had both the flaps and screens unzipped and tied open to allow easy access.  A long table and several camp chairs were already set up, along with two laptops, a scanner, and a printer.  Shadow gave the equipment the same treatment he’d given the young woman.

“You can try,” he said quietly and left to set up his own tent.

He was up, sitting in a chair in the main tent and listening to the night.  A man’s scream cut off abruptly.  Snapping, snapping, rending, gurgling growls of satiation.  More screaming.  His lantern was on, and soon, the surviving five people clustered in the center of the tent, looking to him to know what to do.

“Did you see it?” one horrified man asked of Shadow.  “It was eight feet tall!”

“Furry, too?” Shadow asked, his smile haunting his face again.  He stood and turned up the lantern.  “With lower tusks, large black eyes, and a nose that’s almost comically human.”

The man poked his head out of the flap of the tent and never had the chance to scream before the snarling thing outside batted his head off his shoulders.  His body dropped to the ground, and the young woman, beyond terror, darted to Shadow’s side.  She tucked her head under his arm and dug her fingers into his shirt.

“What are they?”  Her skin was cold, and she quivered with the rush of adrenaline.

“Wild,” Shadow answered.  When the beast poked its head into the tent, the young woman looked up at him, searching for an answer, for deliverance.  Shadow passed a hand over her short, soft hair and removed his glasses.  “Hungry,” he added.  As he breathed warm air onto the lenses, the beast leapt.

In case you were wondering…

As it stands now, there will be nine books in the Camellia series. Book five should release October 1, 2015, and then there may be a lull. The sixth and seventh books have been accepted for publication, but they have to wait their turns through the editing process. Still, they are coming. Once I finished book nine, I will submit both it and book eight.

For those of you who read my books, I hope you enjoy them, and I would greatly appreciate any reviews you might give on your site of choice.

–Beth

Five Star Reviews of WILD ROSEGARTEN (Book 1 of the Camellia series)

Coffee Time Romance…

Delane wrote: “Wild Rosegarten is an outstanding example of poetry in motion. The amazing writing flows through the thrilling life of humans and vampires fighting for freedom; and age old struggle. The characters are uniquely interesting and offer perfect opportunities for a fuller series of stories for the future. There is never a dull moment in the writing of Ms. Bishop, and I look forward to reading more of the Camellia series.”

I am excited to say that the reviewers at Coffee Time have asked for the other published books in this series to review. I love making readers happy!

Goodreads…

Julea wrote: “It has taken me longer than it should have to write a review for this book. I really have no words to accurately say how much I enjoyed it. I can say after reading book 1 I’m attached to another series.

You can’t help but get attached to the force of nature slayer Camellia or the people who surround her. Camellia is no damsel in distress and is one kick a** woman.”

Happy Pawn 2: The Laptop

Jerrick scrubbed his hands over his slick scalp then over his face.  He looked at the glowing screen of the laptop, the spreadsheet with its neat rows and columns.  Numbers.  Jerrick knew numbers.  Numbers were his livelihood and his love, but if he didn’t fix this…this huge screw-up, they wouldn’t be for much longer.

This is what he got for buying a second-hand laptop.  This is what he got for thinking for one second he was smarter than a djinn.  Tricky bastard, he thought.

Now, he understood the look in that girl’s eye, that skinny white girl who came charging into Happy Pawn, babbling about a microwave and wriggling anchovies.  He’d eavesdropped on that conversation enough to decide the girl was half out of her mind.  He knew better now, just like he knew that if he went back and complained to the old man that there was something not right with his laptop, the old man would give him the same speech.  Besides, he’d taken his chances on other purchases that turned out not so great, although a different kind of not so great.  The old man stuck to his policies: no returns, no refunds.  You buy it; it’s yours.

The calculator was his first purchase.  The plus sign was broken.  Jerrick didn’t have the skills to repair it, and it would’ve been almost cheaper to just buy a new one rather than pay someone to fix it.  He worked around it by subtracting negatives.  Annoying, but it worked.

The laptop…it was a completely other type of broken.

Ctrl+Shift+G. A simple typo was all it was.  Jerrick intended to use his shortcut for inserting the clip art of the company logo, but hit “G” instead of “F.”  He couldn’t even remember what he was working on when smoke spewed from the innards of the laptop.  He remembered thinking the thing was melting itself and all his data, and then suddenly he was pushing up from his desk chair, staggering back as the smoke coalesced into a heavily muscled, bluish man with small golden horns and a long black ponytail.  The man stretched out his arms and tipped his head to Jerrick.

“How may I be of service?”

A simple question really, and one that Jerrick answered in various ways.  The first was to ask for infinite wishes.  The djinn reassured Jerrick that there was no need for this wish.  “As long as you hold the vessel,” the djinn pointed at the laptop, “I am yours to command.”

Now, Jerrick scrolled down on the spreadsheet, seeing red, red, red.  He fell into the trap.  He watched those damn Wishmaster movies.  He read “The Monkey’s Paw.”  He knew there would be a catch, but he also assumed he could be smarter.  He could be careful.

Now, his superior’s secretary was dead, and he owed his accounting firm 2.6 million dollars.  He considered going to the CEO, trying to explain where the money went and promising to pay it back, but Jerrick knew he could work overtime every day for the rest of his life and not pay off that debt.  Not at his salary.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d realized where the money came from before he spent so much of it.  He hadn’t expected the djinn to be able to transfer money from one bank account to another.  What was he expecting?  That some long-lost rich relative would die and leave him a boatload of money?  Sort of.  Okay, yes.  But that didn’t happen.  And then there was Leisha.

All Jerrick wanted was for her to notice him, to notice him as a woman notices a man and not just someone she saw every day at the office and spoke to because it was polite and expected.  What she became…Jerrick blinked back tears as he remembered those first few nights together.  Those nights turned into weekends, and then suddenly Leisha wouldn’t leave.  She didn’t want Jerrick to leave, not even to go to work.  He took a few vacation days, a sort of dating honeymoon, and by the end of it, his entire body hurt from bites, bruises, and overuse.

Jerrick wiped away the tear that slipped down his cheek.  Until he made his stupid wish, she was a lovely woman.  Now, she was six feet under, after having thrown herself off the top of his condo building.

Jerrick knew better than to try to fix dead.  He couldn’t take back what happened to Leisha, and he would bear that mark on his soul for the rest of his life.  Which wouldn’t be much longer if he didn’t figure out what to do about the missing money.  He couldn’t hide that much longer, and he didn’t think he’d survive long in a federal penitentiary.

He already tried bargaining with the djinn.  “Put the money back!”  He screamed that sentence again and again, but what was spent could not be unspent.  Besides, didn’t his mother love her new house?  She deserved it, after raising five kids on her own.  Even so, Jerrick proved, once again, that you can’t get something for nothing.

He ran his damp fingers over the keys of the laptop.  With a deep frown on his face, he typed Ctrl+Shift+G.  The scent of the inferno filled his nostrils.  The smoke stung his eyes for a moment before it swirled into a column and produced the djinn.

“How may I be of service?” it asked.

“I don’t know.”  Jerrick looked into its strange black-on-black eyes.  “How do I fix this?”  He gestured at the screen then spread his arms wide.

“It is not my place to advise, only to grant what your heart desires.”

“Yeah, and how many lives have you ruined granting wishes?”

The djinn tilted its head in consideration.  “None.  No life is beyond repair.”

Jerrick laughed bitterly at that.  “Right.  I brought all this on myself.  I suppose you’re going to tell me that you have no control over how the wishes are granted.  Like there’s some sick, twisted god in control of it all, and you’re just the messenger.”  When the djinn gave no reply, Jerrick squared his shoulders.  “Well, you can tell whoever is in charge that my heart’s desire if for someone to fix this!  Fix the money.  Fix Leisha!”  Jerrick’s face crumpled, and he pressed his hands to his eyes.  “She didn’t have to die.”

“No, she didn’t,” the djinn said.  “Very well.”

****

Jerrick jerked.  The movement dragged his steering wheel sharply to the left and sent his car swerving into oncoming traffic.  Belching curses, he yanked hard in the other direction, overcorrecting, but managing to get the car going straight and in the proper lane.

How…what?  He couldn’t think.  Hadn’t he just been in his empty living room, arguing with a djinn?  He wasn’t anymore.  From the looks of things, he was on the expressway, somewhere between the exit for work and the exit for home.

He let out a breath, eased back into the seat.  Something dark in the passenger seat caught his attention, and he glanced that way.  Then, he took a longer look.  There it was: the laptop.  It sat there, the receipt taped to the case.  But that meant…that meant it was August, three months before he sat in his condo and demanded the djinn make things right.

Well, things are right now, Jerrick thought.  I can’t return it, but I won’t use it.  I won’t even turn it on.  “Yeah,” he said aloud.  He nodded in agreement with himself.  He took the exit for home with a renewed sense of hope.  He drove past the corner gas station, the old falling down houses.  Sure, he’d be back in his crappy apartment in one of the worst parts of town, but he would have his old life back.  “Yeah, you sneaky sonofabitch.  Won’t get me this time.”  He grinned down at the laptop, and the laptop was the last thing he saw.

****

When the cops interviewed Muriel Shipp, she told them it was the oddest thing.  She hadn’t heard a horn blow.  The lights hadn’t flashed, and the guardrails hadn’t come down.  But sure as there was wreckage all over her lawn, the train blew through and smashed that poor man and his car to nothing.

Long after everyone – police, media, nosy neighbors – left, Muriel went out into the yard.  There was debris everywhere, and she wondered who she was going to get to come clean up the mess.  Couldn’t count on her no-good grandkids to do it.  Well, she was old, but she could do a few things.  She went around with a garbage bag, praying to God that she didn’t find any parts of the man.  She was pretty sure the coroner took all they could of him.  What a way to go.

Muriel was at the edge of the yard when her foot rapped against something.  Begrudging her hip, she bent down and picked up a flat, black object.  She lifted a pair of half-moon readers to peer at it.  Why, it was one of those computer things.  Muriel knew this one must have come from the man’s car, but there wasn’t a scratch on it.  She had no use for it, but the things were worth a pretty penny.

Muriel made her way back inside her house and slipped the laptop into a plastic grocery bag.  She’d take the bus into the city tomorrow.  She knew just the place to take it to get the best price with no questions asked.

Predator

He considered himself no different from any other animal that finds joy in toying with its prey before delivering it unto Death. He used only the weapons nature gave him, and he didn’t always eat what he killed. He considered most of it practice, a honing of skills and body.

He watched an episode of Blue Planet that showed a pod of killer whales stalking a blue whale and its pup, taunting the mother, nipping at the babe. When the pup was exhausted, they toyed with the mother until she could no longer defend her offspring. The orcas circled and jabbed, like a pack of boxers, and when they finally separated mother and child, they killed the pup but ate only its cheek meat – the choicest cut, so to speak. After the orcas left, the mother whale swam around the pup for hours, nudging it.

The unspoken questions were obvious. Were the orcas evil? Did the blue whale love her pup?  He knew that such questions had no meaning in nature. He wondered where humans got off thinking they were evil or just or loving. Just because they believed they had souls, because they thought themselves civilized with advanced language skills, they were somehow better and accountable to someone’s notion of moral standards. Ants were civilized, and they sure as hell didn’t have ethics. Mounds often went to war with one another. Yes, he knew it was bullshit.

When he killed, it was because it was in his nature because he was of nature and not bound by a fabricated sense of right and wrong. When he killed his own kind, it was no different than the male dolphin, orangutan, or lion that slaughtered his competitors’ offspring and mated with as many females as possible to increase the odds of leaving a significant genetic footprint amongst the species.  What he did was normal, and those who said differently were kidding themselves.