Don’t miss the Writing Of and Reading Sample below!
True Elders. The most powerful and influential wolf shifters in existence.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of them to go around, leaving modern packs desperate for their unique skills. Most were hidden, outcast, or unaware of their true selves until Luna brought them out into the open. Now Evan, Jack, and Everet embrace profound alterations in their way of life while training their lost brothers to serve in posts all over North and South America.
Caught up in the turbulent changes, Lance Stucky encounters wonder, heartbreak, and trials when Luna gives him more than he asked for. Faced with orphaned pups and a troubled mate, he struggles to match reality with his long-held dream of happiness. Aided by his loving packmates, Lance accepts a challenging future he couldn’t have imagined.
Return to the Gladstone saga with this tale of exciting action, heart-wrenching drama, humor, and passionate romance in DISCOVERY MOON! (Book 5 of the Gladstone Shifters series. Contains steamy M/M content.)
See what readers are saying!
“Another wonderful book from Mr. Elliott! Heart pounding action, steamy love scenes & characters that come alive. An exciting book from start to finish & an excellent addition to the Gladstone series.” Theresa, ARC reviewer
“WOW! An action-packed book with multiple plotlines and even some things I didn’t know I needed from the story. Nicely done, and I can’t wait to read the next installment!” Kari, beta reader
“Elliott skillfully pulls you into the story where you fall in love with the characters and experience the gamut of emotions from tears to laughter. Discovery Moon is thoroughly enjoyable and heartily recommended!” Michael, Goodreads reviewer
“I’ve loved every one of the Gladstone books, and this one didn’t disappoint. The stories are like a visit with friends you can’t get enough of, full of action, conflict, and a happy ending. I hope Mr. Elliott continues because I’m hooked!” Judith, Amazon reviewer
“This installment went well beyond my expectations with a ton of action, superb storytelling, and the right combination of love, drama, and happiness. I sure hope there will be more!” Kari, Amazon reviewer
The writing of DISCOVERY MOON
From the start, I suspected this book would be challenging to write, and so it was. Nine months of struggle, doubt, course corrections and the pressure to top the previous book made the journey almost nightmarish. The average reader might not understand that writing is always hard. This book, however, took things to the next level. Let me tell you why.
Physical issues. Beset with fatigue, lack of motivation, and brain fog, it took a supreme effort to make progress. The usual excitement and flow of ideas simply weren’t there, which was beyond frustrating. Quite late in the process, I finally figured out what was happening. It wasn’t the side effects of COVID, as you might suspect, but low testosterone. I had dismissed the symptoms as normal aging, having no idea it could wreak such havoc on the mind and body. Fortunately, I have made several helpful changes and am feeling much better—no thanks to modern medicine, I might add.
Complex plot. I thought book four, Forbidden Moon, was complicated. Not so, compared to the tricky and convoluted story of Discovery Moon! The basic premise of newly discovered True Elders morphed into three distinct sub-plots with a multitude of new characters, far-reaching changes to the shifter world, and the constant fear that I’d bitten off more than I could chew.
One thing to note is that I had already spent a month developing a detailed outline before I began the book. As a pantser, I don’t normally do that, preferring to let the story tell itself as I write. Well, despite my pre-planning, the world came crashing down around chapter fourteen as I discovered an unworkable story thread that ruined one of the major plotlines. Correcting it took almost three weeks of angsty re-writing, stretching back to the first chapter. More than once, I feared there was no solution and would have to start the book over.
The death of a friend. If you have read Discovery Moon, you know I dedicated it to Doug—a dear friend, terrific beta reader, and super-fan of my books. He passed away unexpectedly in May at the age of fifty-seven from heart failure. The sudden loss sapped my mental and creative energy as I mourned him while trying to complete the manuscript without his feedback and friendly banter. I don’t make friends easily, and good beta readers are both tough to find and worth their weight in gold. Losing Doug was a double whammy that left me reeling and distracted, slowing my progress at a crucial juncture.
Though it was risky, this book introduces some major changes regarding True Elders. That wasn’t my original intention, but I realized they were necessary if I wanted the shifter world I’d created to grow and flourish. Nothing in real life stays the same, after all, but my fear was that the changes would weaken True Elders’ mystique, making them routine and uninteresting. Instead, they are now more relatable, flexible, and poised to help the entire shifter community instead of only Gladstone. Another benefit is using these new and improved True Elders to create exciting story possibilities.
I love the new characters introduced in Discovery Moon and have my own favorite story threads. One is the unique bond between Kallik and Delbert. Leaving the poor little guy in the wilderness for almost the entire book was difficult, while Delbert’s character grew in importance as the story developed. Originally, he didn’t even have a name and was supposed to die the moment he and Kallik reached Fairbanks. I don’t enjoy killing off good characters, and Delbert’s death hurt. This was tempered by the reunion of Kallik and his real father in the Afterworld, satisfying my desire to redeem Virgil and give the boy some needed closure.
I also enjoyed the evolution of Leland Tuffin, his triad mates, and the Kenton pack. Their story wasn’t intended to be so detailed or impactful, but they grew on me, and I expanded their contribution to the story. The original outline called for them to wander around Michigan until Luna led them to Gladstone. Later, they were dispersed into different packs, and there was no Triad mating. I’m much happier with the way things ended up.
The romance between Lance and Roman presented all kinds of problems and kept changing. Olivia was supposed to die in childbirth and have only one pup, not three True Elders. Also, I had envisioned Roman as gruff and taciturn, but he changed into a kinder, gentler version of himself. And even though Lance faced difficulties, giving him the mate and children he always wanted was satisfying.
Here are some interesting tidbits from the writing of Discovery Moon.
- The book’s original title was Elder Moon.
- Doogie Hinson is named after my friend Doug (Doogie) Cook.
- Encouraging fan mail arrived at critical moments during the months spent writing.
- The book cover’s color scheme was inspired by a copper-colored car I spotted while taking a walk.
- A Lynx killed Virgil Grant while hunting for prey.
- Kallik’s original name was Miska.
- The Inuit saying about the night sky is genuine.
- I wept while writing Delbert’s death and burial scenes, using a half-box of tissues.
- The attack on Murdock and his men at Seney is based on two Biblical accounts: the destruction of Jericho in Joshua 6 and the victory of Gideon and his men in Judges 6.
- Initially, Leland was to mate with Cliff Townsend from the Cooks pack.
Despite all the difficulties, I’m quite pleased with Discovery Moon. It’s a much better story than my original outline, and I trust my readers will enjoy the changes and additions to the Gladstone world. While it’s tough to mention non-core characters in subsequent books, I hope to revisit Kallik, Leland, and Wilder from time to time. I think my readers and I would enjoy seeing how they fare in the future.
Heart pounding, Evan welcomed the deep snow and brisk wind as he ran wherever his nose led him. There was no destination in mind, no schedule to keep, and no one’s expectations to meet. Only a winter playground for an Arctic wolf who desperately needed some time alone. Just for fun, he’d skittered across the ice of Lake Schaawe, climbed up the snow-covered rocks to the grotto, and howled his fool head off. Half the pack must have answered him, joining his impromptu winter concert.
Afterward, he took off running—feeling the stretch of muscle and the fresh, cold air in his lungs. During the warmer months of the year, he avoided the outer packland boundaries in lupine form, lest humans spot an Arctic wolf where it didn’t belong. His white, triple-layer fur blended with the snowscape and kept him warm in the winter. He eventually slowed to a walk and allowed himself to think for a while. Harold’s training took a lot out of him but reinforced the blessings in his own life.
He and Jack, who’d been busy training Juan, were forced to address the men’s psychological and emotional needs before transferring memories. There were tears, angry outbursts, and a lot of angst at the beginning—making the apprenticeship difficult and stressful for both mentor and protégé. When it came time for them to leave, Robert pulled off a fantastic farewell bash in the packhouse. Both men loathed saying goodbye, but the promise of an exciting, productive life allowed them to part ways without severing ties.
Though they’d doubled the number of adult True Elders in a short time, Luna’s dreams made it clear there were more. The sketchy details implied that the United States would be the recipient of Luna’s next round of arrivals. If so, it meant more grinding weeks of training for him, Jack, and Everet—all part of a True Elder’s responsibilities. For now, Evan intended to enjoy his free time before duty called again.
Meanwhile, in Duluth, MN
Adam Sheppard’s chair squeaked as he leaned back to stretch. The LRC offices were deathly quiet with everyone out for Thanksgiving, and he enjoyed the silence. At Judy’s insistence, he would be home all day tomorrow, gathered with family and taking a much-needed break. He’d been putting in sixty-hour weeks since last summer, and it was taking a toll. Adam felt a twinge of guilt for pushing his staff nearly as hard, but they understood the importance of their effort at such a momentous time in their history.
Over the last six weeks, Luna revealed many previously unknown True Elders—three adults and seven children ranging from newborn to age ten. The adults were now trained and settled in their new homes, working with regional or international councils. A few of the children remained with their birth families, and the others were being fostered in packs he trusted. They’d all been relocated due to unacceptable conditions or recalcitrant Alphas, some of them adherents to the late and unlamented Lyle Wilburn.
Sheppard stood up to walk while he thought, taking in the various displays, maps, and charts ringing his large office. They represented the on-site teams, followed up leads, ongoing research, and intel awaiting investigation. The “victory” wall, as he called it, held maps and photos of those found, rescued, or relocated due to Luna’s dreams or old-fashioned legwork on the ground. Many success stories were credited to local packs who’d dealt with abuses head-on and provided help for those in need.
It wasn’t only True Elders they’d found, but Omegas being force-bred, entire packs beaten down by tyrannical Alphas, and scores of rejected and abused gay shifters. Some of their stories haunted his dreams and drove him to right the wrongs done to his people. His initial plan to improve pack security morphed into a search for True Elders. He’d even pressed his Canadian and Mexican counterparts to join him, and the results were spectacular.
Even so, he understood that Luna wasn’t finished with them yet. What else was in store? Did this indicate something new for their people or reflect changing times? Where would it lead them? At this point, no one knew for sure, though Jack seemed convinced that Luna always provided for their needs—even if they didn’t fully understand. As always, he urged patience and an open mind as events unfolded.
Thoughts of the man coincided with a familiar ringtone, and he strode back to his desk to answer.
“My apologies if I have disturbed you. Am I interrupting family time?”
“No, my friend, I’m working today. What do you have for me?”
“Two things. Evan and I are happy to report that Juan and Harold have settled in their new homes and are already busy working with the councils.”
“I’m glad to hear it. I appreciate the sacrifices you’ve made to train them and you have my thanks. What is the plan going forward?”
“We will be in regular contact by phone and conference calls, but as you know, physical contact is required for teaching dreams. True Elders once traveled from place to place, but it seems we now prefer permanent homes. As our numbers grow, Evan and I believe it best to meet in person regularly. Both councils have agreed to send our brothers back to us for further training as needed.”
“Very well. Would a simultaneous gathering at the annual conference be sufficient if you were given ample time to teach and interact?”
“Yes. Evan and I believe it may be the best way to share memories among us. If additional meetings are necessary, Ben has offered to host such events at Gladstone.”
“Excellent! I will pass this on to the regional councils. Was there anything else, Jack?”
“The teams have almost completed their sweep of the upper peninsula. I have forwarded a copy of our findings and actions to date, yet Evan and I are convinced we have missed something. Unfortunately, there have been no new dreams to provide guidance, but it may mean Luna is not ready to reveal the whereabouts of any remaining True Elders in this region of the country.”
Sheppard grunted an acknowledgment.
“I appreciate the update but see no need to press further in the middle of winter. If the dreams return, you have all the resources of my office at your disposal. So rest, my friend, and spend time with your family. I understand the twins are quite a handful these days. Judy would like to see some recent photos.”
“I will ask William to send them. I fear he has a great number to choose from.”
“I’m sure he does! Please give him my regards.”
November 19, Seney, MI packlands
Full moon pack runs were always the most exciting and well-attended, but to Roman Calhoun, the air itself seemed ripe with possibility tonight. Since moonrise, he’d been strangely energized, unable to explain his heightened senses and absolute certainty of Luna’s undivided attention. His parents, Helen and Gerald, noticed, but he couldn’t explain why he, or this particular night, might be special. They walked together in the frosty air to gather with the pack for a brief meeting before the run.
Many others were already there, visiting among themselves when they arrived. Alpha Chester Halstead could be seen off to the side speaking quietly with Olivia Hewitt—the only gay pack member besides Roman, though a decade younger. Fortunately, the people here treated them with respect, rejecting the condemnation of some Michigan packs. Olivia, a college student, shared a house with other unmated women her age, while Roman, at thirty, lived with his parents. His job at the Grandview Wilderness Lodge didn’t pay well enough for him to own his own place, and since he and his folks got along well, it wasn’t an issue.
Soon, Roman’s younger sisters arrived with their mates and children. They came over to say hello and noticed his strange scent. There were no words to explain, and the meeting was called to order before they could discuss it. Alpha Halstead raised both hands to get their attention.
“So good to see everyone here tonight. As usual, we will gather at the packhouse following the run, but I have one item of business before we get started.”
Halstead motioned Olivia forward and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. Roman’s skin began to tingle as the moon’s penetrating beams stirred from the inside out, leaving his heart pounding.
“My friends, Olivia has been led by Luna to seek an Honor Mate. I realize this is still something rather new for us as a people, but I have been informed by our True Elders that Honor Mates have been utilized and revered from ancient times. So if the person she seeks is present tonight, please come forward.”
Roman’s feet moved before Alpha Halstead finished speaking. He didn’t fully understand what was being asked of him, yet it felt right and good down to his marrow. People gasped in surprise, including his family, but no one objected or tried to stop him as he made his way to the front. Halstead smiled warmly as Roman took his place next to Olivia and clasped her hand. The Alpha returned his attention to the pack and began to teach, referring to a set of hand-written notes.
“Creating new life is, indeed, an honor. Roman Calhoun, do you come freely, led by Luna and your own heart, to perform this function?”
Eyes ablaze, Roman responded.
“Olivia Hewitt, do you acknowledge before these witnesses that Roman will not be bound to you or any children resulting from this union?”
Olivia glanced up at her handsome packmate and nodded.
“Yes, I understand.”
“Do you further recognize that both you and Roman are free to mate as Luna provides?”
Halstead swept his gaze over the assembled pack and addressed them.
“Before Luna and your packmates, please affirm that you are witnesses to the commitments made here today.”
The group responded together.
“We are witnesses.”
Halstead then raised one hand towards the moon and the other over the couple for a blessing.
“May Luna’s light guide your way and grant your desire. The pack rejoices with you.”
The crowd applauded and came forward to congratulate them amid hugs and nervous laughter. Shortly, Alpha Halstead encouraged everyone to prepare for the run, sending Roman and Olivia in the opposite direction he intended for the rest of the pack. Luna must have put them in the correct frame of mind, for they scampered off in a cloud of pheromones with tails held high.