Places to Self-Publish
Info you’ll need to set up as a self-publisher includes: legal name, address, bank account number and routing number, and a tax payer ID. Optional: DBA (Doing Business As), and Bowker ISBNs.
KDP Publishing: https://kdp.amazon.com/
Via KDP Publishing, you’ll be able to distribute your books to the Amazon.com as well as the other countries where Amazon has a presence.
Author Central—Setup your author profile & claim books. Now, you’d think there’d be one author central for all Amazons. There’s not.
Author Central Amazon US: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
Author Central Amazon UK: https://authorcentral.amazon.co.uk/
Author Central Germany: http://authorcentral.amazon.de
Canada and Australia: No Author Centrals yet.
Third Party Distributor:
In the event you’re looking for a third party distributor, you have two real choices. Each one of these will take about a 10% cut of the profits but they only require one setup and then they’ll distribute the book to Kobo, B&N, iBooks, etc.*
*For a full list, consult the websites.
Draft to Digital: https://draft2digital.com/
Google Play: https://play.google.com/books/publish/
All Romance Ebooks/Omnilit: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/publishers/index.php
Authors & Book Publishers FAQ: https://www.apple.com/itunes/working-itunes/sell-content/books/book-faq.html
To sell books on iBooks, compelete the application: https://itunesconnect.apple.com/WebObjects/iTunesConnect.woa/wa/bookSignup
Paperback Only—Print on demand:
Nook Press Print Publishing: https://www.nookpress.com/
Nook Press (Barnes & Noble): https://www.nookpress.com/
Bio and Social Media
Author Melissa Snark lives in the San Francisco bay area with her husband, three children, and a glaring of litigious felines. She reads and writes fantasy and romance, and is published with The Wild Rose Press & Nordic Lights Press. She is a coffeeoholic, chocoholic, and a serious geek girl. Her Loki’s Wolves series stems from her fascination with wolves and mythology. She blogs about books and writing on http://www.thesnarkology.com/.
Visit her website at http://www.melissasnark.com/.
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelissaSnark
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0076EEQIU
Amazon UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0076EEQIU
Amazon FR Author Page: http://www.amazon.fr/-/e/B0076EEQIU
Amazon DE Author Page: http://www.amazon.de/-/e/B0076EEQIU
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/melissasnark.author/?ref=hl
Email: MelissaSnark at MelissaSnark.com
Wolf’s Cross Chapter One
Excerpt from work-in-progress. May contain errors.
From his most ancient beginning, flight exemplified freedom within his heart and soul. As a hawk, Loki soared high above the suburban oasis carved from Arizona’s austere desert. He drifted upon a rising column of warm air, wings angled to induce enough drag so he didn’t outpace the child he followed. Far beneath him the figure of the six-year-old was tiny, but enhanced avian senses permitted the Trickster to drink in every sight and sound.
The boy’s fleet feet splashed upon the wet pavement, running beside a small twig boat while the swift flowing gutter-steam swept the tiny craft along. Michael Allen Fraiser had light brown hair and an olive-toned complexion as well as a lean, athletic build designed for speed.
The child ran with joy; he ran with confidence. No hesitation in his stride or caution in his manner. His arms extended straight from his sides and his throat produced a steady hum like the engine of a small plane. As if at any moment, he would find liftoff as the wind carried him high into the sky, far from worry and fear.
Weaving a delicate spell, Loki spied upon the boy’s thoughts and caught a glimpse of pure imagination, a sweet dream of freedom almost powerful enough to be magic. Michael lacked the skill to focus his longings and shape reality, but the fantasy was nonetheless charming and oddly compelling.
Favorable air currents created by the June storm faded and the updraft ceased, forcing Loki to bank and circle to maintain altitude. The shower had lasted two hours and dropped less than an inch of rainfall. Even so, the downpour flooded the desert community’s paltry drainage system. Instead of constructing expensive sewers, urban planners designed rounded curbs and wide gutters along the roadsides. The troughs channeled the runoff into a park surrounded by stucco, cookie-cutter houses.
Chasing his makeshift ship as the current swept it along, the boy turned onto a curved pathway. The sidewalk sloped down through wide patches of multi-colored gravel. Drought-resistant bushes and trees grew at infrequent intervals. At the center of the open range, play structures stood atop a cushy surface made of recycled rubber. Adjacent to the slides and swings, a volleyball court was set at the center of an emerald patch of artificial turf.
Floating over the open expanse, Loki surveyed the landscape below. None of the scraggly trees offered a satisfactory perch. The scattered lamp posts were higher than the branches. Those manmade constructs were all situated along sidewalks and the paved playground, too far from the boy’s route to provide a satisfactory vantage point.
When Michael darted off the pathway and sprinted across a sloping rocky patch, Loki remained aloft to stay close. Near the bottom of the hill, the drainage ditch emptied into the water collecting in the lowest part of the park. Riding the tide, the twig boat sailed toward the center of the pond. The pool of water was completely opaque, dark even at the shallow edges where light should have penetrated.
Michael’s stride shortened. The soles of his sneakers skidded across the rocky surface, brought him to a halt upon the muddy bank. Indecision was etched into every line of his slender frame while he considered whether the toy’s recovery was worth wet feet and ruined shoes.
Folding his wings, the hawk entered a steep dive and plummeted toward the earth. Just before he crashed into the ground, his avian form dissolved into a swirling column of smoke and coalesced into a boy. An unruly mop of black hair topped his head, and his skin was warm brown, the color of coffee mixed with a dash of cream. He chose to appear eight years in age—young enough to seem unthreatening to a suspicious six-year-old, but old enough to exert some authority. Standing a few paces behind Michael, the Trickster pulled ribbons of magic from the air and wove them into garments to clothe his body. Nothing elaborate—just a T-shirt, board shorts, and Nikes.
The sun brightened as it crept from behind the clouds. He squinted to shield his eyes. A quick dip of his head produced a red baseball cap with a wide brim. Chin tucked to his chest, Loki watched while Michael kicked at clumps of bushes.
After a minute, the boy turned up a thin branch less than two feet in length. Holding the implement as an extension of his arm, he returned to the puddle’s shore and probed the murky depths. Concentric rings spread across the water.
Dead center, fat air bubbles swelled to the surface.
The boat bobbed just beyond reach. A cry of frustration issued from the boy’s throat, and he edged closer until the toe of his shoe dipped into the puddle. He balanced all of his weight upon one leg and leaned outward. The tip of his tongue poked between a gap in his front teeth, and his straining form embodied a single determined thought—just a little farther.
Uneasiness roiled Loki’s gut, coiling like a confined serpent. As an accomplished freebooter, he recognized a golden opportunity when one presented. This unwary child was low hanging fruit, an easy shot at revenge. Loki didn’t even have to get his hands dirty.
All he had to do was stand aside and watch while Fate murdered the boy.
Air hissed between clenched teeth. He didn’t like this at all. Oh, how he loathed the monster he’d become. He’d done many perverse and malicious things in his time, but he also possessed a certain twisted code of honor. As a general principle, his more spiteful pranks trapped unwitting adults, not children.
The boy wasn’t special or remarkable. Aside from a fertile imagination, he possessed no special abilities or magic. Not the son of a god or even a monster. Loki wondered what he was even doing there even though deep down, he acknowledged the compelling curiosity driving him to investigate the child.
He had to know what it was about Michael that Jake considered so damn special. The child must possess a secret, a hidden quality significant enough to qualify him for adoption into the Barrett family.
The pond’s surface rippled as the air bubbles grew larger and migrated closer to the oblivious child. When the boy wobbled on the verge of toppling into the water, Loki sucked in a sharp breath.
Impulsively, he barked, “Hey, kid! Don’t fall in.”
Emitting a startled yelp, the boy flailed his arms. Twisting on one leg, he spun and barely caught himself. The branch fell from his hand and landed in the water with a crisp splash.
Loki exhaled, long and slow. Tension bled from his coiled frame. He released the ball of magic clutched in his hand and was shocked to discover he’d prepared to go to the child’s rescue. But why? He wasn’t a hero or a Good Samaritan.
He wasn’t even nice.
Wide-eyed, Michael stared. “W-w-who are you?”
“A friend.” His gaze flicked to the bubbles and then to Michael. Reaching behind his back, he conjured a small sailboat from one of his countless treasure stashes. The item appeared in his hand. “Did you lose a boat? I found this.”
An elven toymaker had handcrafted the tiny sailboat, the product of hours of loving labor. The sleek hull was ornately decorated in gold overlay upon a field of dark green, and two elegant masts supported crisp white sails.
It gleamed like a jewel.
“Wow, it’s beautiful.” Michael’s eyes widened with amazement and then blazed with yearning. Suspicion forgotten, he hurried toward Loki on eager feet, stumbling in his excitement. His arm extended, hand grabbing.
“It is yours, isn’t it?” Loki asked.
Fascinated, Loki observed the conflict between conscience and greed as it played out upon the boy’s face. Small teeth sank into his jutted lower lip, and a tremor coursed through his body. His arm jerked and then fell.
Shaking his head, Michael said, “I lost a boat, but that’s not mine.”
Honesty. How curious.
Loki cocked his head. “But you want it. Why not lie and take it? I wouldn’t know any different.”
Michael’s stance solidified. “I know, but stealing is wrong.” Then a haunted look appeared in his eyes, and he shuddered. “Bad things happen to people who steal.”
Loki’s stomach gurgled, a belch sour with bile. He thrust his open hand toward the child. “Take it. I want you to have it.”
“I don’t know…” Michael stared at the ship, his gaze intent with longing. Such self-restraint was remarkable in a child his age.
“It’s not stealing if I give it to you.”
After a split-second of indecision, a smile blossomed on Michael’s face. He reverently lifted the tiny ship from Loki’s grasp.
“It’s beautiful,” he said in a breathy voice. “Thanks.”
An adult would have questioned Loki’s motivation or wondered where he’d acquired the exquisite toy. The boy simply accepted his reasoning at face value. He could be faulted for naivety if not dishonesty.
“You’re welcome.” Warmth replaced the nausea, a percolating cheerfulness that made him sneer. His interested gaze lingered on the boy. “It’s not made of glass. You can put it in your pocket or a backpack.”
Michael’s wary eyes regarded him. “Okay. What’s your name? I’m Michael. Are you from around here?”
“Ben.” The lie rolled off his tongue without a second’s consideration. He waved his hand vaguely toward the far side of the park. “I live over there.”
“Do you want to be friends?” Michael asked.
Loki blinked. “Friends?”
The child nodded. “Yeah, you know. We could hang out.”
“Friendsssss…” The word terminated in a sibilant hiss. He scowled while a storm of conflict raged within. He understood the basic principle of friendship. Loki and Odin had once been loyal companions. But once burned, twice shy. He refused to place his trust in another person ever again.
Loki regarded the boy with hardened suspicion, trying to discern his angle. “Why? You already have the boat.”
Michael’s brow knit. His gaze dropped to the sailboat and then lifted to consider Loki again. His face pulled into sorrow, pinched eyes and bowed mouth. Stepping forward, he thrust out his hand, offering the coveted toy.
“I’d rather be friends.”
“Really?” Loki glanced at the boat. “How odd.”
The child frowned. “You’re weird.”
“So I’ve been told.” Well, not in those exact words. Reaching out, he pressed the child’s fingers closed around the ship. “Keep it. We can be friends.”
Somehow, he would adapt. Life had thrown enough absurd and challenging puzzles his way. If necessary, he could fake friendship well enough to con a naive six-year-old. Hell, it might even be fun.
“We can?” A beaming smile transformed the boy’s face. “Great! We’re going to be best friends.”
“Best friends,” Loki agreed, marveling at the childlike simplicity. As an adult, acquiring a best friend had taken him centuries, not to mention the huge risks. Vulnerability exposed him to hurt. Trust placed his lot solidly in the hands of another.
Centuries invested in building up a single relationship only to have it vanish in the blink of an eye, lost to misunderstanding and distrust. Pride and ego set even the closest of comrades at each other’s throats, and when the dust settled… sons died.
Sons paid the price of their father’s sins.
“How old are you?” Michael asked. “I’m six, but I’ll be seven August third.”
“Eight,” Loki tilted his head to gaze skyward. Too much time had passed since he’d last become a boy. He recalled childhood as a short, brutal experience that probably didn’t have much relevance to a modern kid. His slang needed updating and he hadn’t gotten into a video game since his total obsession with Mario Kart in the 90s. However, his repertoire was extensive, his shape shifter nature adaptable.
He’d figure it out.
“Wanna try out the boat?” Motoring with childish exuberance, Michael turned toward the standing puddle. The surface of the supposedly shallow pond stood undisturbed, opaque despite the bright afternoon sunshine.
Lashing out, Loki seized the boy’s elbow. “Play with it at home. Stay away from black water.”
Face rounded with fear, Michael spun toward him. “Why?”
“There are witches who lurk just beneath the surface, waiting to drag unwary children under.”
Blanching, the boy shot the pond a terrified glance. He hastily backed away from the puddle. “You know about monsters?”
Satisfied he’d instilled a healthy sense of caution, Loki began, “I—”
“Hey, Michael!” The voice of a teenage male sliced through the air.
As soon as the child turned, Loki changed to a fly and buzzed high above him. Through multi-faceted eyes, he watched Michael glance over his shoulder. Upon finding his new friend gone, he frowned and turned in circles, looking for Ben.
The teenager shouted again. “C’mon. We’re gonna be late for the game!”
“Coming!” Clutching the exquisite sailboat to his chest, Michael whirled and ran toward the two older boys approaching from the distant side of the park.
Once he was sure he was alone and unobserved, Loki adopted his new persona as Ben. Standing on the shore of the impenetrable pond, he cocked his head. His gaze penetrated the darkness to what lay beneath—the frustrated fingers of Fate, angered at being denied her prize.
Feral viciousness edged his smile. “I do know monsters. Quite well.”
Wolf’s Cross COPYRIGHT © 2016 by Melissa Snark
All rights reserved.
“Had?” Sylvie snorted as she crossed the threshold. “That’s rich.”
Morena’s voice and a chorus of barking emerged from the kitchen, the happy hubbub of youngsters. They paused in the foyer while Victoria kicked her flip-flops into the shoe bin tucked beneath the counsel table. “I’m going to grab a quick shower and pack a bag. I’ll meet you in the kitchen in ten.”
Sylvie’s eyes pinched at the corners, and mouth bowed. “You’re really going with him.”
“I have to.” She darted closer to give her friend a quick hug and then stepped back with an apologetic smile. “I’ll explain. Just give me a few minutes to get my stuff together.”
Grim-faced, Sylvie nodded and marched toward the busy kitchen with measured steps. Her aura formed a shell of dark colors, pulled tight about the skald’s body like a burlap blanket in the dead of winter.
She watched her friend go, a lump forming in her belly. Once Sylvie rounded the corner, Victoria headed in the opposite direction toward the master bedroom. She took a hot shower, dressed in clean clothing, and packed a duffel bag. With the strap slung over her shoulder, she made her way to the kitchen where Sylvie had her hands full feeding the hungry pack gathered about the kitchen island.
Victoria waded through a sea of squirming wolves to claim a sandwich from the tray on the center island. Stomach rumbling with sudden hunger, she downed it and started on a second. Lately, she stuffed herself whenever she was able to keep food down. Pregnancy seemed to have driven her body insane—severe nausea one second, voracious hunger the next.
As soon as they wolves ate, all four headed outside again with Morena lolloping alongside them. Sylvie heaved a deep sigh. “Hopefully, she’ll wear them out.”
Victoria carried a dirty dish to the sink, and picked up a washrag to wipe down the counter. She glanced at her friend with sympathy. “I’m sorry. I know they’re a handful. You do all of the hard work.”
“Don’t downplay your contribution, Victory. You keep us safe.” The Beta wolf’s gaze dropped to Victoria’s stomach. Her face twisted in a worried frown. “I’m so sorry you walked into an ambush. Your instincts told you to stay away and I pushed you to go. This is my fault.”
“Don’t apologize, Sylvie. It wasn’t your fault.”
Sylvie exhaled, shoulders hunched as if beneath a great burden. “Sure feels that way. I urged you to go. If you or Morena had been hurt or killed …”
“We’re both fine, so there’s no sense in beating yourself up about it. It’s no one’s fault …” Victoria patted her friend’s back. More than anything, she longed to ease Sylvie’s worries. “Besides, it wasn’t the hunters who set the ambush. No one could have anticipated … No one’s to blame.”
She looked down, frowning at the floor. Except that wasn’t true … After months of blaming herself for the deaths of Daniel, her parents, and so many other members of her pack, life granted her an unexpected acquittal–a traitor and an enemy. But like a two-edged sword, that absolution wasn’t complete.
Arms crossed, Sylvie watched her. “Are you really leaving alone with Sawyer Barrett on a mad vengeance quest? Have you considered how incredibly dangerous this is?”
“This isn’t just about vengeance. Yes, to some degree, it is. Honor demands that Daniel, and mom and dad, and everyone else who died should be avenged.”
Disapproval shone in Sylvie’s hard stare. “You’re endangering yourself and your child.”
Victoria met Sylvie’s gaze. “If I don’t, then our entire future is at stake. Not just mine or the baby’s, but yours and the rest of the pack, and every generation to come.”
“I know that look.” Sylvie’s sharp eyes lit with curiosity and concern. “What aren’t you telling me?”
Victoria sucked in a deep breath. A confession burst from her, an unstoppable force. “Freya is angry and not speaking to me, Sylvie. Over something I did. Something I’d do again in a heartbeat.”
Sylvie’s face paled. “Oh, sweetie,” she said, a mournful moan. “What happened?”
“I can’t even tell you without placing your life in danger.” Her face contorted into a grimace. Tears threatened, stinging her eyes, and she died of humiliation. Stupid pregnancy … stupid hormones. She despised the weakness in herself. She desired control, austerity, stoicism–the traits of a successful Alpha.
The skald’s brow furrowed. “Does this have anything to do with Daniel?”
Swallowing the lump in her throat, she nodded.
“Tell me, please.”
“Daniel’s soul was supposed to go to Valhalla, but I didn’t escort him there. I failed him and I failed my duty as a Valkyrie. Now his soul is held captive, tormented by the same vampire who arranged the explosions that killed my mother and father. And it’s my fault.” The confession burst from her lips as if forced from the depths of her soul. Sorrow welled up in Victoria’s heart, so vast and aching, she had no words to describe it. She gazed into her friend’s kind eyes and lowered her mental barriers, allowing her suffering to flow through the pack link.
“I don’t pretend to understand, but there’s no way you could have known,” Sylvie said with the strength of conviction in her tone.
“Did Daniel ever discuss his religious beliefs with you?”
“No. He never even hinted.” Dry mouthed, Victoria looked away, shocked to realize how many secrets her lover had kept from her. She and Daniel had never discussed religion or politics. He’d known she was a priestess of Freya, and she’d assumed he was some denomination of Christian because his family threw up a few strands of lights and decorated a tree the day after Thanksgiving. Intellectually, she understood why; but on a fundamental level, she felt betrayed. One thing was certain: as soon as she rescued his soul, they were going to have a serious discussion about honesty and priorities.
“Then how can it be your fault?”
“The gods won’t care for excuses.” Victoria shuddered, recalling Jake’s towering rage upon learning of his son’s fate. She was lucky he’d chosen to spare her.
“If only I could offer some wise words to ease your pain,” Sylvie said sadly.
Victoria mustered a faint smile but desperation filled her voice. “I have to save him. I have to. I can’t live with myself, knowing that I’m the reason he’s suffering …”
“I’m so sorry, sweetie.” Sylvie’s arms enveloped her in a strong hug.
“Thank you.” Fighting tears, she turned her face into Sylvie’s throat. The older woman’s strength buoyed her spirit, providing a steady lantern of love to guide her out of the darkness. Her insides felt like a shriveled husk, sucked dry of every bit of moisture. She longed for the freedom to cry but instead she stood there, cold and dry like an empty well.
Sylvie patted her back. “You take too much on yourself. You need to learn to recognize that some things are simply beyond your control. Allow yourself to be human. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Pray to Freya and she’ll grant you absolution. I have no doubt.”
“I’ll try. I promise.” She nodded, but her heart held monumental self-doubt. Could she muster the humility necessary to admit to wrongdoing and beg forgiveness? Maybe she wasn’t a good enough person. Maybe she wasn’t worthy of being Freya’s priestess.
Sylvie went to fetch a glass of water, so she dabbed at her eyes with a napkin and then blew her nose. Numbness set in, leaving her mummified, but even that was better than being about to explode from the buildup of internal pressure.
“Here you go.” Sylvie extended the cup.
“Thanks.” Victoria accepted the drink and downed it all at once. She placed her glass inside the dishwasher and located a small cooler on the top shelf of the pantry. She filled the bottom with freezer packs and loaded some drinks,
“Do we have any Cheetos?”
Her friend’s expression contorted into disgust. “Is that a joke?”
“No, it’s a craving,” Victoria muttered, closing the cooler. “Never mind, it’ll fade. I really need to hit the road.”
“Are you going to tell me where you’re going?”
“Arizona,” Victoria said. Jake had gone on ahead in pursuit of the traitor. Their plan called for her and Sawyer to follow in the Chevelle.
“You’re going home,” Sylvie said, expression serious.
“This is home now,” Victoria said, meaning the words with all of her heart. At least here she had something good—the memory of Arik and his legacy. She would raise their daughter in his house, on his land, and do everything in her power to assure their child had a long and happy life.
“Promise me you’ll be careful,” Sylvie said, her face wrinkled with worry.
“I will. I promise.”