Excerpt for Bobby Gibbs

I think Bobby is the most enigmatic character in Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones, and in some ways the book is about him and his family history. This excerpt includes some insight into who Bobby is and how he thinks:

Excerpt for Bobby

Mark looked back for Bobby and found him only a stride behind. His dark brown eyes were alert and glittering with excitement and curiosity.

Mark slowed a little until Bobby came alongside. “What do you think, Bobby?”

Bobby shrugged and kept walking.

“What do you reckon is going to happen with us?” Mark pressed.

“Well,” Bobby said, his eyes taking on a warm glow as they aimed at the girl who continued to lead them briskly along a path visible only to her, “Eunice says we are meant to be here, Mark.”

“But what does it mean, a place between universes?”

“I don’t know. I feel like I’m walking in the Dreamtime.” Bobby was referring to the Aboriginal creation myths. These stories described how life began only life was beginning now and every moment rather than at some time in the past. It was confusing, but the way Mark’s dad explained it to him, it was something like going to another place the way you do in a dream. But it was an important place, unlike ordinary dreams. Plus, going there was something the clever people in his culture did while awake. This other place, the Dreamtime, fed life in some way. It was the job of the clever people to explain things to the others, important things, like where the water was.

“I didn’t know you could do that. Have you done that?”

Bobby shook his head. “But I’ve heard of it a lot.”

“But this can’t be Dreamtime.”

“Why not?”

“I wouldn’t be here.”

Bobby laughed, and Mark realized it was the first time he’d ever heard that. He felt a little cheered by this. But he also wanted to know more about where they might be.

“How can we be in the middle of a myth?”

Bobby made a sweeping gesture toward the lands that surrounded them, so much like Rocklea, yet more vibrant and alive. “Look around you. What do you see?”

“It looks like home only—”

“Only what?” The way Bobby was staring at him made Mark uncomfortable.

“Only better.”

“That’s pretty much how it works, how I’ve been told. Things start out the way they’re supposed to be here. It’s like a model. Perfection, with enough water and the animals in harmony with the plants. But in our world, this model gets distorted…out of balance…unless the humans there are very careful. My people were careful and lived in harmony with the cycles of the land for tens of thousands of years.”

Strong female characters in Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones

As I said yesterday, there are strong female characters in Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones. Eunice, introduced in this short excerpt, is a pivotal character.


Where were they? The homestead and oleander hedges, the blacksmith hut and fences, even Bobby’s cottage no longer stood solidly in their rightful positions. Instead there was just a vast stretch of empty savanna. But that wasn’t all. About twenty meters outside the circle stood a girl.

She was slender as a river reed and pale as alabaster. Long black hair, which somehow seemed even blacker than the darkest hair Mark had ever seen, fell over her shoulders and back. She wore a long gown of some kind of thin brown material that flowed around her even in the still air. Above her wheeled two enormous eagles. Far too big to be wedge-tails or even condors, they circled her in tight patterns. She gestured towards them and they took their leave, spiraling upwards on hot air currents until they vanished in the blue sky.

John and I created this image that we thought captured her mystical character.

Eunice without tattoo final small

Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones is available here:

Amazon Print: https://amzn.com/1075249910

Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.com/B07TMYWQY2

Smashwords (all e-book formats are available here): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/946599

Barnes and Noble Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1132415820?ean=2940163273706

Apple IBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1472075239

Excerpt, Mark Taggart…

and the Circle of Stones.

Here is the promised excerpt, an action scene from fairly deep into the story for you to enjoy and to entice the young ones with whom you might be sharing this book.

By the way there are very strong female characters in this book. Shelley came to the Elemental Realm from a portal in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. While she is in the Elemental Realm, her ability to communicate with animals becomes very advanced. Here’s an image of Shelley.

I’ll provide some excerpts for other characters over the next few days.

The messages swirled more and more, coming from Skysplitter high in the sky to Shelley and then out through the rest of Mark’s team verbally. From there the messages traveled by hand signal to the other teams led by Jett and Winstan. The grass in the distance on three sides shook. Black dots frothed above the green blades.

The charge of pounding hooves contrasted to the silence of the strange scene unfolding in the distance. By the time they could hear the dogmen, it would be too late. The dots and specks of black turned to a boil and then to a seething mass of snarling heads. Their sound reached like a living thing across the savanna, a dull hum and then a roar.

Mark’s insides roiled. He leaned over the neck of Patches and charged. There was no longer any question of hiding the danger from the beast. Now it was time to steer the deeply instinctive borgahl panic toward the very danger it sought to flee, to ride the frantic beast’s chaotic charge. Mark leaned further and further over the neck, streamlining himself, searching for the leader.

There were about thirty dogmen. One would leap and bark past another. The pack of them looked like a snarling snapping wave from hell. They were doing the half-beast gallop and running-man gait that ate the savanna in gulps.

He was going to die. Mark was one long streak pulling away from the army of men, and he had already accepted his death. In a strange way this knowledge freed him. Freed him to focus fully and totally on his mission. He had nothing to lose, for he had already accepted he would lose it all.

He had been looking to the center of the pack for the leader, but no single dogman emerged from the seething line. Something made Mark swivel his head to the left. The beast ran at the head of a line that formed a large snake hooking around all three groups of leatherheads. The leader.

Mark had miscalculated. By dividing the leatherheads into three groups he had weakened their forces against a cohesive attack.

The whistle of arrows soaring overhead was like the wind screaming the wrongness of two once peacefully coexisting species launching arrows and teeth against each other over nothing more than an evil idea. The men were doomed. Mark signaled to Patches and veered hard toward the lead dogman, the head of the snake. Mark was not the closest to the leader, but Winstan and Jett were leading their teams in the original direction.

Mark broke away from his group and veered back, away from the approaching semicircle of dogmen. To his teams, he must look like he was fleeing. He lowered himself over the surging neck of Patches and squinted against the dirt-filled air. Would the others even be able to see him? His own team had continued their charge toward the dogmen along the original trajectory, failing to follow him. Perhaps the cloak of dust would also conceal him from the lead dogman.

The brown cloud broke. Mark charged into open air. A snarling dogman plunged at him, teeth bared. Mark leaned back and pulled on the reins. “Hey ho, Patches!”

Patches slowed and stopped. The dogmen rushed, the semi-circle closing on him like a noose. This was it, his time to die, but first his time to save all that was dear. Mark raised his crossbow, aimed at the heart of the lead dogman, drew, and fired.

The arrow embedded itself in the hairy chest of the lead dogman. Blood flowered red in the matted black fur. Gleaming black eyes deadened. It lurched forward and tumbled to the ground like a felled tree.

Now to face the closing noose of dogmen against which he had no chance. Accepting death and actually dying were two different things. Mark couldn’t welcome the end. His world was a black hell of howls, barks, and growls, a swelling pit of fangs and claws. The surrounding forces of dogmen drew closer but had failed to form a perfect circle. Perhaps he could still turn Patches and bolt through the circle’s opening behind them. But the dogmen were too close to run.

Amazon Print: https://amzn.com/1075249910

Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.com/B07TMYWQY2

Smashwords (all e-book formats are available here): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/946599

Barnes and Noble Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1132415820?ean=2940163273706

Apple IBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1472075239




New Release, Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones

I’m excited to announce the release of a book that I co-authored with the amazing Australian author John Holland. We met years ago on this blog and over that time wrote this children’s book for middle-grade and older but also for grown-ups who would like a taste of history and Australia wrapped in a grand adventure. Here is what it’s about. Links follow the blurb, and I’ll do an excerpt tomorrow.

Australian twelve-year-old Mark Taggart can’t wait to finish his correspondence classes each day, so he can get out on the family cattle station to help his dad. But his life is changing and the future is threatened by a prolonged drought. His dad owes money to Bull Corcoran who is demanding payment. Not only is Mark’s family about to lose everything, he may never get a chance to visit a forbidden site on the land, a circle of stones that has drawn his imagination and curiosity for years. So Mark and his friend visit the site that marks a long-ago crime.

When they enter the area, the world drops away beneath their feet. They land in another world and learn they’ve been summoned to the Elemental Realm. This powerful place is under attack. Now Mark must lead an army against a darkly magical being and the beasts he controls to make it back home, save his family, and right an ancient crime.



Amazon Print: https://amzn.com/1075249910

Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.com/B07TMYWQY2

Smashwords (all e-book formats are available here): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/946599

Barnes and Noble Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1132415820?ean=2940163273706

Apple IBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1472075239

John Holland grew up in the Australian outback and currently lives in Townsville, Queensland Australia. He has been a stockman, miner, road worker, professional hunter, newspaper columnist and media officer for a politician. He is the author of several books of poetry and fiction.

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Nicci Carrera grew up hiking and skiing near Lake Tahoe, California and currently lives in San Diego. After careers in non-profit and then in the computer industry, she works full time as a writer and is the author of two novels in the romance genre as well as a co-author of a children’s book.

Social Media Links for Nicci: