Goodreads Book Giveaway
I’m running a contest for Goodreads members to win one of 10 autographed copies of my new book Musings! If you haven’t entered the contest, please do so before August 31st!
In other news, here is another sneak peek at one of the book’s short stories. I hope you enjoy this “Winter’s Charge” excerpt!
If every story must have a beginning, then mine should start on the ice. I was born on the ice. I was raised on it. I learned to hunt while running over the crisp, clear crunch of it. I am constantly captivated by the purity of its whites and the bejeweled depth of its blue hues. As a boy, I once even lost myself on it.
Losing my way on the ice happened as one of my people might expect, in a blizzard. My clan had trekked west from our summer village nestled amid fields of the tundra’s fading fireweed toward the rocky hunting grounds on the coast. I was 12 years old, and this winter would be my first chance to hunt with the men of our village. I was so excited as I mushed my small dogsled alongside those of the adults. What kills would I make this year to help feed the Alawaeun Clan? Would I catch a seal or a beluga or maybe even a walrus? Surely I was brave enough and strong enough now to hunt all three.
Our hunting party left the wooden shelters of our winter village once the ice fields proved safe enough to sled across. We traveled along the snowy ground with the light of the midnight sun to guide our sleds and the waves of the Aurora to wash our dreams clean. I dreamt of many things during our journey, but the dream I remember most was the vision of Nanuq. I saw Nanuq robed in her magnificent white fur with four great stars of heaven encircling her brow like a crown. With one mighty paw, she held back the frothy waves of the green sea. The outstretched claws of her other paw kept the tremulous mountains from tumbling on top of her. And in Nanuq’s lap an Alawaeun child slept the deep sleep of one at peace with the world.
I am not sure why I dreamed about the great white spirit bear. Perhaps it was a type of premonition given to me by the Father Spirit. The clan elders all say that the dreams dreamt under the Aurora are some of the holiest and most important of our lives. I am not sure if I believe that to be true, but I do know that my dreams under the multihued waves of sky lights are always highly symbolic.
The blizzard that changed my life came soon after the third recurrence of my dream about Nanuq. Our hunting party had just entered the less-sheltered part of Mukluk Pass when the winter storm unleashed its full fury. A blur of white obscured the sun, and then darkness overtook the world. We fought against the swirling cold, our quivering lips as blue as the ice deep beneath our fur-lined boots. My father yelled for the rest of the party members to huddle ourselves and the dogs together, using the sleds as windbreaks.
As the storm worsened, my father and I dug trenches in the mounting snow to further protect ourselves from the biting wind. I heard nothing but the storm’s fierce roar until a sound far louder and far worse shook the frozen ground around us.
“Avalanche!” my father yelled. I saw the word form in his mouth, but never heard it resonate from his lips over the awesome shake of the earth. Even so, he shoved me out of our crude igloo toward safety. Fear fueled my legs and I ran with abandon away from the colossal sound of shifting snow. I ran blind into the swirling darkness, using my ears to guide me away from the deadly waves of white. When a wall of rock appeared out of the blinding blizzard, I tightened the leather gloves around my fingers and began to climb. I scrambled up the craggy mountain while waves upon waves of snow crashed into the pass below me. The avalanche tumbled through the pass, burying anything in its way. I kept climbing, unsure of how high I should go to be safe. I climbed up and up and only stopped when my hands began to blister from the near-constant friction of gripping stone with leather-clad skin. I was high on the mountain now and, although I finally felt safe from the avalanche, the blizzard’s bite was far worse since I was so exposed to the winds. Our clan elders speak of the wind as the touch of the ancestors’ spirits. If that was true, then clearly these gusts were the slaps of ancestors from a rival clan who wished me dead! I had to find shelter soon or I would indeed meet death on this slope.
I found my temporary salvation in the form of a shallow cave on the leeward side of the mountain. It was little more than a hole in the rock. It was too small for a full-grown man to use, but just large enough for me. I shoved myself into the stony darkness and used the remnant twigs of an abandoned eagle’s nest to keep the howling spirits at bay. The last of my strength ebbed and I curled up inside my fur parka to sleep a dreamless sleep…
Want to know how the story ends? Find out more information about Musings HERE.
Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
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