Don’t miss the “Writing Of” and Reading Sample below!
Tolerated. Ignored. Threatened. Modern gay shifters struggle for equality, but history paints a different picture. When Alpha Ben Blair challenges the status quo, he unintentionally ignites a controversy which divides the community.
While Gladstone soon becomes the focus of competing forces, Ben gains new allies who change everything: Evan Reid, a misunderstood Arctic wolf possessing unique gifts, and Jack Eby, an ancient shifter holding the key to their future.
Join the Gladstone shifters as they find love, acceptance and purpose in a time of monumental change. Expect the unexpected. Expectant Moon.
Notice: Contains steamy M/M content.!
“Great characters. Wonderful setting. Amazing plot! Hot sex!! What more could you want? I can’t wait to read the next story!”
“Expectant Moon is everything a great shifter romance novel should be. Steamy scenes, fantastic drama and some very surprising new ideas. This is a series I already know I will be rereading multiple times.”
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The Writing of Expectant Moon
Before I actually started writing the first Gladstone Shifters book, Expectant Moon, there were certain things I wanted the story to do. Shifter history needed to be explained – where did they come from, how do they live, what are their relationships like? In addition, I wanted a reasonable explanation of their ability to exist in modern times without being discovered. Lastly, I had to create the major dramatic elements which would keep the reader engaged from start to finish.
Sound like a lot? It was, and I didn’t realize at first how grand and extensive my goals were for the story, especially when it was supposed to be crammed into a single book! I seem to have a penchant for biting off more than I can chew, but I dove into the project, blissfully ignorant of what I was supposed to do, and did it anyway. In the end, my readers loved it, even if it was bit long, (at 110,000+ words, it’s at the upper limit of a full length novel). The few who mentioned it didn’t care because they couldn’t stop reading – a wonderful problem for any author!
It took a lot of research, but by using the actual history of gray wolves in the U.S., I was able to weave it into the experiences of the shifter community. Logically, the only way for wolf shifters to hide from humans was to do so in plain sight among the natural wolf population. This grew more difficult as the U.S. population grew, and especially after the great purge of wolves which began in the 1800’s. This tension and tragedy provided the background for nearly everything in the world I created, imbuing the story with drama, structure, and continuity.
Natural wolves are confined to a few of the northernmost states, Alaska, and Canada, narrowing my choices for a primary location. Since I was already familiar with Michigan, I decided to place most of the action at Gladstone, in the upper peninsula. Instead of creating imaginary places and names, I used the real thing, and in the process, lent the story a measure of believability. When I mention cities, parks, roads, lakes, rives etc., and even the distances between them, it’s virtually all from real life. This, too, took a lot of research, but it actually saved me time and influenced some story elements.
From the start, I intended to focus on the two main characters – Ben (Gladstone’s Alpha) and his future mate, Evan. After introducing Jack as the long-lost True Elder, (and eventually his mate), it became apparent I would have to widen my vision a bit! As the story progressed, I simply had to provide more background and interaction of the MC’s. As a result, the book was longer and far richer than I ever intended – all to the good.
Though it began as a romance, Expectant Moon grew into a story about acceptance and taking a stand in a hostile environment. Gay shifters, like their human counterparts, were experiencing the same issues, and I wanted to show how it affected them and what could be done to correct the situation. This dramatic element formed the story’s foundation, driving the action, discoveries, and love interests through the book. It was my desire to give the shifters a victory, though hard won; unlike the real world where people are still being rejected, bullied and killed because of their sexual orientation.
One of the fun elements I introduced was the shifter way of allowing same-sex couples to have children. Many of the stories I’d read included male Omega’s who could somehow get pregnant and pop out babies (mostly unexplained), but I found their approach lacking credibility. Important questions remained unaddressed: Other than same sex couples, why would a male wolf-shifter need such an ability? Where was his birth orifice? How could you keep a pregnant man hidden from prying human eyes? I was able to answer those questions, and more, leaving the reader with an imaginative and plausible explanation.
As mentioned earlier, an important part of the series is the romance, including the sex, and this author makes no apology for the explicit M/M content. Wolf shifters are famous for their libido, stamina, and overall enjoyment of sex, and my characters were no exception. For the most part, I place the sexual scenes within the context of a loving, committed relationship; something many humans, quite honestly, are incapable of doing. A healthy, vibrant relationship will normally include sex, so I saw no reason to be squeamish about it here. (For readers who may object, I provided a very clear warning in the book blurb.)
The birth of JACK EBY – New Mexico, spring, 1848
At his advanced age, the journey from Mexico was long and slow, yet the ancient shifter obeyed Luna’s pull and the vivid dreams which drove him from his comfortable home. Destiny waited for no one, and if he was to witness the birth of his replacement, it would require a bit of sacrifice. It was bittersweet, this final task, yet he rejoiced to know the important work he began so long ago would continue.
The life of a True Elder was sometimes lonely, often misunderstood, but always interesting. He would reach his two hundred and fourth year in December, and the world around him was vastly different now as compared to his youth. Wolves and wolf shifters faced unheard of dangers, and the years ahead would not be easy ones. In a way, he was glad he would not have to witness the wrenching changes facing his people.
The old wolf scented a stream up ahead, even as the sun began to set on his tenth day of travel. He would stop here to drink, hunt and rest. The moon would be full tonight, and he recognized the area from his dreams. This region had been recently ceded to the United States, following the Mexican-American war, and there was talk of eventual statehood for ‘New Mexico’.
The wolf chuffed in resignation at the endless string of battles this land-hungry nation seemed so eager to fight. It no longer mattered to him, as his task here was for a more noble cause. If his instincts were correct, the birth he came to see would take place very soon, and he would need all his strength to be ready.
With a tasty raccoon in his belly, the True Elder found a place to rest on a soft pile of pine needles. The moon, now high in the night sky, was luminous and full, enhancing the landscape with a powerful glow. He would wait here in comfort until the guidance he needed was supplied.
Within the hour, his peaceful dozing was interrupted by a distressed howl. Before it could be repeated, the elderly wolf responded and took off through the lush forest as fast as he could go. Not two miles later, he scented a mated couple near a small cabin which was evidently their home. As he drew closer, it was clear the woman was about to give birth. He sensed no one else nearby, either human or wolf, and approached slowly so as not to alarm them.
As he cleared the tree line, a small grassy meadow opened before him. The pair, both in human form, were side by side on a rough blanket. A small lantern, perched on a nearby tree stump, cast a feeble glow about them. As the old wolf came into view, the male jumped up to place himself between his mate and the stranger, growling a warning to stay away. The newcomer shifted to his human form and spoke quietly.
“Peace, my friend. You need not fear me. My name is Hezekiah Matson, True Elder. I have come to witness the birth of your son.”
Both the man and his mate were startled, eyes wide with wonder and confusion. A True Elder here? But why? The old wolf’s scent seemed somehow familiar, though they were uncertain why it should be. No shifter they had ever met smelled quite as interesting as this one. The woman groaned in discomfort as another contraction wrenched her attention back to the task at hand. The man held her hand gently, wiped the sweat from her brow, and murmured quietly to her. When she once again caught her breath, he turned back to face Matson.
“We are Samuel and Jane Eby. It is an honor to meet you, Elder. Forgive me for not offering you food and shelter. We came to the meadow because my mate was determined to have our child in Luna’s light, and I could not deny her. She was going to deliver in wolf form, but once the pains started she changed her mind. There is no midwife in these parts, and I know very little about birthing children. Can you help us?”
Matson smiled at them.
“Have no fear. I have attended many a birth, Samuel, and will gladly assist you.”
He drew closer, despite his nakedness, and settled on Jane’s other side, grasping her free hand loosely. His touch had a calming effect on the expectant mother, and she settled back to rest for a moment.
“Do you have a sharp knife, twine, fresh water, and some swaddling for the child?”
Samuel nodded, pointing to a jug and cloth bag resting nearby. The man looked at Matson curiously and blurted out his questions before courage left him.
“I mean no disrespect, Elder, but why are you here? How did you know when our son would be born?”
Matson chuckled quietly but had to delay his answer while Jane suffered through another contraction. He patted the back of her hand and spoke quietly while Samuel tended to her.
“Take heart, Jane. It won’t be much longer now. Our people are hardy, and even in human form your baby will come quickly.”
Lifting his gaze, Matson caught Samuel’s eye and answered his questions.
“It is tradition among our kind for Elders to witness the birth of the one who will replace them, though it is not always possible. Luna led me here with dreams which showed me the purpose of my journey. Your son is a True Elder of our people and will assume the work in my place.”
Jane gasped as Matson’s words registered in her pain-addled mind. Samuel, too, was slack-jawed in amazement, hardly daring to believe his first born would hold such an honored position in their community. He managed to ask another question as Jane’s face crumpled in distress once more.
“But, how can you know this? He hasn’t even been born yet!”
“The baby’s time has come. I will answer all of your questions once he is safely here.”
Jane’s painful cries silenced further discussion, and Matson confidently guided the couple through the birth process. As promised, it was over quickly. While Samuel ministered to his exhausted wife, Matson cut and tied the cord, and wiped the baby down with a wet rag. He bundled up the squalling child and placed him in his mother’s arms.
While the proud parents fussed over their son, Matson cleaned the knife, put away the supplies, and offered Jane a drink of water. Before long the baby began to root for a nipple and settled in to nurse. The old wolf watched them fondly for a moment and asked the obvious question.
“What name will you give him?”
Samuel glanced at his wife, and she nodded at him with a cautious smile.
“I wanted to name him Rupert after my grandfather, but Jane prefers Jack. She lost her brother years ago to a hunter and wanted to keep his memory alive.”
“What a fine idea, Jane. Jack Eby is a grand name for your boy.”
While the young family got acquainted, Matson gathered enough deadwood for a small fire. By the time it was burning merrily, Jack was asleep, and the time came to resume their conversation. It had been many years since he last attended a birth, and it made him feel young again, if only briefly. There were things this family needed to know, and Matson assumed his role as Elder once more and began to teach.
“You asked how I knew Jack would be a True Elder. For one, my dreams told me so, but there are also clues which enable us to identify them. You said Jane was determined to have her child under Luna’s light. There is a reason for this – True Elders are always born under a full moon. In addition, they are always single births, which are not all that common among our people. Lastly, as I am sure you have noticed, Jack has a unique scent shared only by True Elders. If you compare his scent to mine, you will know this to be true – even though we are not related.”
Jack’s parents deeply scented their son and their guest, breaking out into understanding smiles before Matson continued.
“Though True Elders are rare, our people have never been without them. Each one is not only a Delta, but a historian. Their lifelong task is to collect information about our people, absorb and remember the past, and teach it to future generations. All historians are keepers of our history, traditions, and practices, and are crucial to our way of life. Without this work we would lose the continuity of our history, and the knowledge which enables us to function in a human world.
“There are other things you should know about Jack; things which will make him different from everyone else. His life span will be double that of other shifters. His physical maturity will develop at a slower pace, and he will appear younger than his actual age for the first hundred years or so. His memory regarding our way of life will be far superior, and he will be able to recall it at will. While our people usually thrive in a pack environment, Jack will prefer more time alone. He may not seek a mate when he matures, but if he does, it will not be unusual for him to have more than one, given his longer life.”
Samuel and his wife looked lost and dismayed, wondering how two average people were supposed to raise such a gifted child. Their earlier joy was now muted by a weight of responsibility they never imagined, and their scents sent a sour message wafting through the air. Matson expected this, as his own parents told him of similar doubts and concerns once he was old enough to understand. Before they lost their confidence completely, the Elder intervened to reassure them.
“Right now, you are wondering how you can possibly raise a child like Jack. It can be done, and if you will allow it, I will help you. One of the reasons I am here is to pass on all I have learned to your son before I die. My life is nearly over, but if I start now while he is very young, there may still be time. I could be something like a grandfather to him in your home. I would help raise him, teach him what it means to be a True Elder, and give him the knowledge I have accumulated. I know this is not what you expected, but together we can give Jack the kind of upbringing he needs.”
The change in scent and relieved look on their faces told Matson what he needed to know even before they spoke. With a nervous laugh and a twinkle in his eye, Samuel broke the silence.
“We would be grateful, Elder, if you would stay with us, but I believe we are going to need a bigger cabin!”