Sparked by Words

Archive for September, 2019

The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

 

 

 

It is my pleasure to feature writer Jacqui Murray as she launches her newest book, The Quest for Home, Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of her Man vs. Nature Saga.

I’ve long been a fan of Murray’s as I love the way she builds worlds and inhabits them with fully realized people who lived in an historical period where they were outmatched in every physical way except one: their astonishing brain power. They are our very most ancient ancestors, and I relish her descriptions of life in this challenging era.

The following summary will give you an idea of the stakes facing these primitive people who want what we all want: Safety from enemies, shelter from the elements, food and water to sustain them, and a future for their children. But as we all know, these basic needs are neither easy to procure nor guaranteed to persist.

 

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

 

Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving

behind her African homeland, leading her People on a grueling journey through

unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger,

tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her

most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with

her life.

 

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man

populated  Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing

the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man,

the one destined to obliterate any who came before.

 

Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and

determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across

Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life,

prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than

the future of mankind is at stake.

 

Shari speaking here: I’m hooked, absolutely hooked by this summary. This is my kind of story, and I bet you’re also eager to read it. When you think about it, we are here because of the success of these primitive people.

 

Jacqui and I had a chance to talk about her newest book.  Gracious as always, she answered my questions with enthusiasm and knowledge. I love talking to someone who’s passionate about their craft and knows what they’re talking about.

Me: I’m always curious about the skills of primitive people.

Could primitive man build rafts as suggested in this story?

Jacqui: Yes, absolutely. They had the brainpower, and the plants and tools required were available at the time but because they were made of wood and vines—-materials that don’t preserve over time—no artifacts remain to prove this. Anthropologists speculate this would have been a basic raft made from bamboo and vine. This hypothesis was tested by building rafts using only prehistoric techniques (as Xhosa would have) and then replicating crossings such as the Straits of Gibraltar, through the islands in Indonesia, and even the passage from Indonesia to Australia.

 

Me: It must have been both terrifying and exhilarating to set off across an unknown sea with only the stars at night to guide them, and waves as big as mountains threatening them at times. Makes me grateful for airplanes with their cramped seats.

Was there really a giant upright primate like Giganto (Zvi’s friend)?

Jacqui: There was! He’s called Gigantopithecus blacki. Extinct now, he was native to Southeast Asia, China, and Indonesia where Seeker and Zvi lived originally.

 

Me: I just looked up Gigantopithecus blacki on Wikipedia. He was monstrous and fierce looking, not a creature to antagonize. I plan to get a new dog soon – that’s about my size.

What do you mean by strong and weak side?

Jacqui: Based on artifacts from 850,000 years ago (or longer), paleoscientists speculate that early man had a preference for right-handedness. That would make their right hand stronger than the left (though they didn’t identify right and left at that time). Because of this, my characters call their right the strong side and left the weak side.

 

Me: That makes perfect sense. They had the brain capacity to differentiate between the two sides of their bodies, understanding where their greater strength lay. The concepts were there but not the language to accurately express them, yet they got their point across. Really fascinating information.

 

And here, dear friends, I treat you to an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Quest for Home.

 

Chapter 1

 

Northern shore of what we now call the Mediterranean Sea

 

Pain came first, pulsing through her body like cactus spines. When she moved her head, it exploded. Flat on her back and lying as still as possible, Xhosa blindly clawed for her neck sack with the healing plants. Her shoulder screamed and she froze, gasping.

How can anything hurt that much?

She cracked one eye, slowly. The bright sun filled the sky, almost straight over her head.

And how did I sleep so long?

Fractured memories hit her—the raging storm, death, and helplessness, unconnected pieces that made no sense. Overshadowing it was a visceral sense of tragedy that made her shake so violently she hugged her chest despite the searing pain. After it passed, she pushed up on her arms and shook her head to shed the twigs and grit that clung to her long hair. Fire burned through her shoulders, up her neck and down her arms, but less than before. She ignored it.

A shadow blocked Sun’s glare replaced by dark worried eyes that relaxed when hers caught his.

“Nightshade.” Relief washed over her and she tried to smile. Somehow, with him here, everything would work out.

Her Lead Warrior leaned forward. Dripping water pooled at her side, smelling of salt, rotten vegetation, mud, and blood.

“You are alright, Leader Xhosa,” he motioned, hands erratic. Her People communicated with a rich collection of grunts, sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and arm movements, all augmented with whistles, hoots, howls, and chirps.

“Yes,” but her answer came out low and scratchy, the beat inside her chest noisy as it tried to burst through her skin. Tears filled her eyes, not from pain but happiness that Nightshade was here, exactly where she needed him. His face, the one that brought fear to those who might attack the People and devastation to those who did, projected fear.

She cocked her head and motioned, “You?”

Deep bruises marred swaths of Nightshade’s handsome physique, as though he had been pummeled by rocks.  An angry gash pulsed at the top of his leg. His strong upper arm wept from a fresh wound, its raw redness extending up his stout neck, over his stubbled cheek, and into his thick hair. Cuts and tears shredded his hands.

“I am fine,” and he fell silent. Why would he say more? He protected the People, not whined about injuries.

When she fumbled again for her neck sack, he reached in and handed her the plant she needed, a root tipped with white bulbs. She chewed as Nightshade scanned the surroundings, never pausing anywhere long, always coming back to her.

The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. Sweltering heat hammered down, sucking up the last of the rain that had collected in puddles on the shore. Xhosa’s protective animal skin was torn into shreds but what bothered her was she couldn’t remember how she got here.

“Nightshade, what happened?”

Her memories were a blur—terrified screams and flashes of people flying through the air, some drowning, others clinging desperately to bits of wood.

Nightshade motioned, slowly, “The storm—it hit us with a fury, the rain as heavy and fierce as a waterfall.”

A memory surfaced. Hawk, the powerful leader of the Hawk People, one arm clutching someone as the other clawed at the wet sand, dragging himself up the beach.

He was alive!

 

Now you’re begging for the rest of the story. You know what to do next. Enjoy!

 

Book and author information:

 

Title and author: The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

 

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

 

Social Media contacts:

 

Amazon Author Page:           https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                      https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

 

All images courtesy Jacqui Murray

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

License to Drive but Not to Fly

This is the year to renew my driver’s license. Last Thursday I drove to my California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) appointment in Oceanside (yes, Oceanside, 46 miles south of where I live, about an hour’s drive if there are no traffic mishaps, as there were no appointments any time at a closer DMV) to get my license renewed with REAL ID, and found that, despite the fact that I brought everything except my college transcript, I still didn’t bring what they wanted.

I brought what I thought was our marriage license, which proves I once had a different last name that changed when we got married, (yeah, impacts mostly women, not men – how fair is that?) but it was a copy and they wouldn’t accept it. What I thought was a bona fide authentic copy is just a photocopy – ACK! The original is probably road kill on Route 66 or sitting in a forgotten box after one of many moves. Sure isn’t something I framed and put on the wall. So I can’t get my REAL ID until I produce the damn real marriage license copy.

That afternoon the DMV nearly turned me into a terrorist. Into a screaming meamie at any rate. If you heard someone yelling last Thursday afternoon, it was me, in Oceanside at the DMV. So much for Homeland Security beginning with me.

I could have produced a passport instead of a marriage license but I don’t have a passport either, and the passport office probably also wants our original marriage license which I still don’t have. I ask you: who would put up with a marriage for 47 years and lie about it? Maybe I should just get a divorce and bring those papers – but the court probably also wants the original marriage license to get a divorce from this crazy marriage!!!

BTW: Did you know that the Department of Records and Licenses archives marriage certificates, but you have to get a copy of a divorce certificate from Superior Court? One of the useful things I’ve learned trying to get my license renewed.

Now I know why Orthodox Jews show up with stinky shoes and say, The hell with this marriage. You can have your sandal and eat it too. Thank God for the Orthodox and their Stone Age ideas about divorce. They get things done.

At least I passed the stupid DMV “knowledge” test – and do I mean STUPID! No knowledge required. Here’s a good one for you, a question that was on the stupid practice test, but not on the stupid real test I took:

Which of the following statements is true?

  1. Driving is a privilege, not a right.
  2. Driving is a right, not a privilege,
  3. Driving without a license is illegal.

You’d choose #3, right? Driving without a license is illegal. But it’s the wrong answer. Swear on a stack of motel Gideons, the correct answer is: Driving is a privilege, not a right.

Now imagine this scenario: I am pulled over by a cop who writes a ticket because he’s certain that I’m under the illusion that driving is a right not a privilege. He doesn’t care whether or not I have a valid driver’s license, just that I have the correct ideas about driving. Is this going to hold up in court?

Officer: Your honor, I gave this idiot woman a ticket because she believes that driving is a right, not a privilege. I didn’t have to check her driver’s license because who cares after such egregious contempt of the driving rules?

Now the judge bangs his gavel on the desk and gives me six months in jail where I write on the blackboard 100,000 times: Driving is a privilege, not a right, fuck the license shit. Just remember this one when you have to renew your license.

My driver’s license is now renewed but I can’t fly on an airplane. (I don’t know what it means to have a current driver’s license but not a REAL ID. Do I have a FAKE ID? Just one of the little things that tease my brain when waiting in line to do things like get my license renewed.) Mind you, I never wanted to FLY the damn plane, just to sit in one of those cramped little seats that hasn’t been cleaned in 40 years and let the experts fly it while I contract some contagious disease left by the sick passenger who sat in that seat the flight before mine.

So I can legally drive a car like all the other maniacs on the road who text, drink, and sleep behind the wheel, but I can’t sit in an airplane flying from Orange County to Burbank. Driving and flying – two forms of death defying transportation but only one needs a REAL ID. The other needs a license given on the predicate that driving is a privilege not a right, and I can apparently get a ticket for the wrong idea.

Hubby and I had  a notary sign an official form downloaded from the I-lost-my-marriage-certificate LA County website that declares that we really are married (47 years – please do not forget that.) We shall not get into a discussion about marriage, way too much philosophy, ethics, and argument for today. We filled it out in our best handwriting, and sent it off to the county recorder’s office with the $15 fee.

Hopefully we’ll have the official real authentic copy in time for my next appointment with DMV in October to finally get my REAL ID. At least this one is at  the DMV that’s only 3 miles from my home.

And then I will be really married and really ready to fly. Oh…yay…

 

 

Cartoon car image courtesy Pixabay