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January 2017 Newsletter
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Hey Everyone, 

Welcome to 2017. I hope you all had a good Christmas, and the new year has been good to you thus far. We spent Christmas with the in-laws, and came back to a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert. I love the electric violin and guitars. They are awesome. It's been a little cool here, but not like other places so I'm not going to complain.. 

I spent New Year's Eve, at home. We were going to spend it on a dinner cruise, but finances look a little slimmer when going back and forth to the in-laws. That's alright though, because I like to figure out where I want to go in the new year, and think about how I might be able to get there. I've often said I should do this the beginning of every month instead of the new year, so this year re-figuring is part of my plan. It's not a resolution, and I rarely make it through the entire year for one reason or another, but it does keep me more focused with more clarity of what's before me.
 

I'm starting the new year off by finishing my Christmas novel, and my short story for the end of the year yuletide anthology while I have a lot of time, I'm tired of waiting until the last minute, so I'll finish it, and do the edits later this year. Once those are done, I'll be finishing Silas. I think it's been on the back-burner long enough, considering it only has a few more chapters before I can send it to the editors.

Once Silas is finished, I'll be working on Veiled Memories two and three. It's been a tough decision. When I get new ideas, I need to write as much as I can into them, so I can bring them to life later, otherwise I lose them. I have short stories published for future novels now, but those books will have to wait.
 

One of the questions I asked in the newsletter only giveaway was whether or not you were interested in reading a story a chapter a month, and the answer was yes. Since the plan for Veiled Memories is there, but vague, since I haven't gotten it started yet, I'll be sharing a chapter from The Covens of Misty Haven. The first Chapter is posted below. When next month's newsletter comes out, chapter one will be available on my website, in case anyone missed it. While much of the story is written, it remains an only partially edited version. That means something could be changed or added later, and while it isn't likely, it also means there could be typos. All changes will be added to the chapters on my website. If you have any comments, let me know and I'll open a blog post where you can give me your thoughts, and I can consider them. I hope you all love the story. If you do, tell your friends so they can sign up to read it too.
 

Most of December's giveaway's are over, but there is still time to catch the contest for a copy of A Horde of Dragons, signed by all six authors, on Goodreads. Here are the winners for the other giveaways.

Signed paperback of A Horde of Dragons https://www.facebook.com/jenabaxterbooks/photos/a.884672931552200.1073741828.585433284809501/1394605857225569/?type=3&theater WINNER - Laura Marie Redmon

Package giveaway. Five e-books from five different authors. One Audible book, and a $5 Amazon card. https://www.facebook.com/jenabaxterbooks/photos/a.884672931552200.1073741828.585433284809501/1393651123987709/?type=3&theater WINNER - Susan Stuckey

Newsletter members only.
1st Prize - $10 Amazon card - Winner - Brandy Mulder
2nd Prize A signed copy of A Horde of Dragons. (This one is signed only by me, and you can choose another one of my books if you already have A Horde of Dragons). Winner - Jessica Mitchell
3rd Prize - Laura Marie Redmon
https://www.facebook.com/jenabaxterbooks/photos/a.884672931552200.1073741828.585433284809501/1393924320627056/?type=3&theater

A copy of one of my e-books, your choice. https://www.facebook.com/jenabaxterbooks/photos/a.884672931552200.1073741828.585433284809501/1393759697310185/?type=3&theater Winner - Laura Marie Redmon

Thank you to everyone who participated.
 

Reading for Cinequest is finished for the next few months, so I'll be able to stay focused on my writing.
 

Chapter One
By the Cover of Night
 
The Dream
Brielle lay on a large stone slab. Penned like a wolf. Eleven hooded women encircled her. Deep chants echoed, and candles blew in an angry wind, their flames undiminished. Her heart rate quickened, and her chest strangled with fear. The smell of fertile soil thickened the air. Normally that would have brought comfort, but although no ropes bound her, she was unable to move. Her senses reeled with the feeling the soil might encompass and bury her any moment. Someone moved toward her, one-slow-step at a time.

Brielle saw nothing under the thick cloak staring down at her as an arm rose and the chanting grew louder. Blue light flashed, increased in intensity until it moved and glowed like cold fire within the open hand descending to her forehead. A wolf howled in the distance. Brielle couldn’t breathe. Heat rushed through her cheeks on impact, settling on the right side of her face like a hot, burning flame.

Brielle screamed, slammed her hand over the burning cheek and sat up in bed, all in one motion. The heavy earthy scent from the clearing in her dream still thick in her nose. Her chest heaved, as if she’d run one of her marathons. The other hand rested on her throat. Darkness fed her fear, as a tree’s branches scratched the window sill and cast shadows on the wall as if it were reaching for her. A chill breeze made her shudder. Her porcelain doll’s stare from the bureau seemed a cruel sneer.

A dream ... Just a dream. It seemed so real. Her cheek still hurt. No, it hadn’t felt like a dream. Something was wrong, out of place. Who were those people? She threw the covers off and sat on the edge of the bed. The room was cold, she reached for her robe and slipped her feet into a pair of sandal slippers.

Ticking from an old wind-up clock that usually brought comfort echoed through the room leaving goosebumps on her flesh. Sweaty fingers rubbed her covered arms.

“Is somebody there?” she whispered.

No answer. Only a dream. She shuffled to the door and flipped the light switch, illuminating the room. Everything appeared normal.

She took a deep, calming breath, A good herbal tea would make her feel better. She stepped into the hall and let out a startled cry when a floorboard creaked. Stop it Brie! There’s nothing there, but the lecture didn’t help. She moved forward, faster than usual to the kitchen, turned on the light and stood with her back to the wall. After a few minutes, her heart stopped trying to beat its way through her chest.

Pushing a clump of coppery hair out of her eyes, she reached for a cup and grabbed a box of chamomile tea. While the water heated, she checked the cupboards for valerian root. The bitter herb was just what she needed to fight the tension and get back to sleep.

After steeping the mixture, she sat at the table and sipped the hot liquid until her pulse slowed and breathing became normal. This was the fourth day in a row she’d had that dream. What could it mean? She took another sip of the bitter drink. Maybe it didn’t mean anything. She’d been reading too many horror stories lately.

A thump resounded from another room. Brielle turned, staring as if she could see through walls. Did something fall on the roof? That was the most likely culprit, but it seemed to be in the house.
Maybe mom was still up? Standing, she placed the half-empty cup in the sink and stuck her head in the hallway.

“Mother?” she whispered, not wanting to wake her if she was asleep. Brielle tried again. No answer. She headed toward her mom’s bedroom.

Flipping the switch, light filled the hall, then it sizzled and went dark. Brielle flicked it up and down. Burned-out. She followed a slight glow at the end of the hallway.

Another thump. Brielle jumped. Maybe something fell from the wall, or off the coffee table? She reached the end of the narrow space, confirming the light came from her mother’s room. She shivered and peeked through a crack in the partially open door.

There were candles on sconces and hanging from glass holders against burgundy walls. Her mom always had strange tastes in decorating. She rarely used electricity. Brielle opened her mouth to speak but froze when she saw a pitch-black wolf, pebbled with white. Red stars glittered on the side of its nose. What the hell? Her mother and Aunt Jewel knelt on the floor in front of it, tensed but honoring.

Brie’s eyes narrowed. She rubbed at them, trying not to shake. This was even stranger than the dreams.
Shadows shifted, and the wolf’s body lengthened. Furry legs turned into human arms and limbs that stood upright. Skin absorbed dark fur, and a man stood naked before them. Brie cupped a hand over her mouth. The creature had the physique of a man in his twenties, with bronzed skin, muscular and sleek. Light amber eyes seemed to glow in the candlelit room. Salt and pepper hair made him seem older. Red stars were branded onto both cheeks above a short-cropped beard; Thirteen on each side, the two in the centers, larger. They sparkled and faded with the candlelight.

Everything became eerily silent, and Brielle wondered if her mom was even breathing until she finally spoke. Brielle breathed a sigh of relief, wondering if this was really the woman who raised her?

“Master Pagan. Welcome to our home, but may I ask why you’re here?”

Pagan shifted irritably. “You know why. Your daughter is of age. It’s time for her to be placed in one of the communities.”

“But I’ve tested Brielle. She has no power, or little enough anyway. Nothing of any value.”

“The Paladin Circle has a differing opinion.”

Mom shook her head. “But I’m not lying, I don’t understand.”

“You’re correct, the girl has little power, but you’ve always known that Vaden said Brielle has a future in the communities, and Vaden’s sight is never wrong.”

Mom lifted her head. “A future as a Witch? Without power, that’s impossible, Master.”

Brielle tilted her head. A Witch? Like riding on brooms? Pointy hats, double double, toil, and trouble? A prank to scare kids and make money on Halloween costumes. Not likely.

“After she’s promised, and marked, she can return home. The community might even pay for her education if she truly shows promise.”

The burn on Brie’s cheek flared. She clenched her teeth to avoid crying out. Whatever that fire in her dream was, the burn proved it wasn’t normal. She fought not to hyperventilate.

“But that could take years,” her mother said.

“Rita ...” Aunt Jewel said quietly. “You and I were fine when we were taken and placed in Misty Haven.”

Brie’s breath caught. Taken! Where is he going to take me?

“Brielle will be too,” Jewel continued.

I should run. Grab a few things and climb out my window. They can’t turn me over to this man, can they? Mom won’t!

“Please don’t do this. Brielle has dreams and a scholarship. She’s enrolled in medical school. That will be an asset to the communities in the future.”

Pagan’s features softened for an instant. “Of course, and she will have the opportunity to go after she understands who and what she is.”

“But—“

His voice rose to an echoing growl. “The decision’s been made. This is not a debate.” His dark eyes narrowed. “Or are you questioning the wisdom of the Circle?”

Her mother’s hands fisted against the floor. “No,” she murmured.

Pagan turned toward Brielle, his amber eyes flashing with anger. He lifted one arm. She screeched as her body flew back, crashing into the wall. She screamed, holding her stomach as she dropped down to the carpet. Her mother pushed at the floor with her hands, unable to rise. Her voice turned frantic.

“Pagan. Don’t do this.”

The wolf-man entered the hall and hovered above Brielle. She stared up at him with watering eyes, her body pulsating with pain.

“Didn’t your mother teach you not to eavesdrop?”

Brielle opened her mouth, but couldn’t get enough breath to speak.

“Well?” he demanded.

“Ye-yes,” she croaked.

The Paladin stared for a minute. “A future indeed.” He glanced back at her mother. “If you’d raised her near Misty Haven, this would have been easier for both of you,” he said in a gentler voice. “You have five days, Rita.”

He shrank, almost instantly, black and white fur again encompassing a wolf’s body. His amber eyes glared at Brielle. She recoiled, as he turned and jumped through her mom’s closed window, leaving it unbroken behind him.

“Brielle!” Rita ran to her daughter and pulled her into her arms. “Are you alright?” she asked, looking at Brie’s bruised arms and legs.

“Who was?” Brielle shook her head. “What was that thing?”

Rita rose, and she and Jewel helped Brie off the floor.

“It’s better than last time,” Rita said.

Jewel smiled a little wistfully.

“What do you mean than last time?” Brielle asked. She brushed her clothes off and winced at sore muscles. Her mother put an arm around her shoulders and led her to the kitchen. Jewel brewed more tea while they sat at the table.

“Should I make toast?” Jewell asked.

Brielle shook her head, waiting for someone to answer her questions. Frustration and fear overwhelmed her. “Tell me what the hell is going on!”

Jewel placed three cups on the table and sat.

“That was Pagan,” Aunt Jewel said. She wasn’t really Brie’s Aunt, but had been like family since the day Brielle was born.

“I got that. What’s the circle he talked about? What’s the communities, why is he a wolf? And where is he planning on taking me?” Brie hadn’t meant to raise her voice, but she was not in the mood for evasion.

“Pagan is a Paladin. A Witch from the ancient First Coven, tens of thousands of years ago,” Rita said, running fingers through Brielle’s hair. “I know he frightened you, and he is gruff, but he is an honored man. A guardian who protects the balance between natural and supernatural communities.”

“You’re telling me what he said was real?”

Rita nodded once. “The reason he was harsh with you isn’t your fault. It’s a grudge he holds against me.”

“What does that mean?”

Rita looked at Jewel, who sipped her tea and put the cup down.

“It means your mother was dating Pagan when you were conceived.”

Brie’s eyes narrowed. “You are not trying to tell me that man is my real father, are you?”

“No,” Rita said. “Robert is your Father, but I was seeing Pagan when I met him. I should have broken things off, but I was young and liked the prestige and attention seeing a Paladin got me. Our relationship should never have happened.”

Her mom’s lips formed into a tight line. Brielle knew she was lying, but about which part?

“Is that why he’s taking me away from you? Because of some old grudge?” A tear trickled down Brielle’s cheek. She wiped it away.

Jewel placed a hand on her arm. “No, baby. He’s not taking you anywhere. You’re going to Misty Haven to become part of the coven you’ve been assigned to. You’ll be near me.”

Brielle shook her head, suppressing her fear and growing angry. She pushed her chair back, and placed her cup on the table harsher than she intended. “I’m going to Misty Haven. It doesn’t matter what I want, or what I have planned?” She scowled, trembling with anger. “Nobody cares about that, but I’m supposed to care about what they want? She gestured the direction where Pagan stood only minutes earlier. “Strangers I know nothing about?” On top of that, you’re lying about something.” She pointed at her mother and then dropped her hands. “I’m sorry, but I’ve had enough. I’m going to bed.”

Brie pushed the chair in, hard, and ran to the door.

“Brielle!” her mom shouted.

Brie stopped but didn’t look back.

“You don’t have a choice. When you’re born with power, you are born to be a part of a coven. Since your power is limited to a few dreams, I thought they might overlook you.”

“Why should I give a shit about what they think I was born for?”

“The alternative is death.”

Brielle spun, her face pale. “If I don’t do what they want, they’ll kill me?”

“It’s more than that, but the short answer is yes. You are going to Misty Haven.”

Brielle stormed out of the room. I should have run away when I had the chance!

Friends and Colleagues

Richard M. Mulder
Founder of the #ScienceFantasy Society. Husband to a gorgeous redhead, father of two little boys and a beautiful angel in heaven. Currently working on a Bachelor’s Degree at Brigham Young University. Richard began his writing career on accident when he unsuccessfully tried to impress a girl at age twelve. Author of the #SciFan Series, and Co-Author of the #SciFan
Learn more about Richard here: www.richardmmulder.com
Cursed by her sister, Brooke, Alexis is sent to the Victorian Era where her modern views clash with old fashioned culture. She finds herself in trouble, and the only one who can help her is a man she's rebuffed again and again. 

This collection contains eight novelettes that keep you on that fine edge between light and dark. Well some do, others will have you plunge in the darkness so deep, you'll have trouble finding the light.

Ilan lost his bonded-brother, his mother, and now he must choose between protecting the woman he loves, or making her his own. The only way to save her is to reunite her with the husband who left her.
Six authors -  Six great stories.
Immerse yourself in A Horde of Dragons.
Juliette was a rude and cruel Mistress, until one of her servants cursed her to live in a world behind her mirror. She must learn to survive alone, with a wise unicorn, a blood-thirsty beran, and a cantankerous female centaur.

Danny promised his dying father he would take care of the family, but a promise looks much different when someone is twelve than it does at sixteen. 

A sample of Reflections audible book. Narrated by Melissa Chatwood
A sample of The Carriage audible book. Narrated by Melissa Chatwood.
Copyright © 2017 Jena Baxter Books, All rights reserved.


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