The second Sawyer Jackson book is done and in edit! I'm looking at a mid- to late-October release. Ideally, I'd love to release it on my birthday, October 12. So I'm diligently working on the edit now, and "Sawyer Jackson and the Shadow Strait" will soon be ready for your perusal and review.

In the meantime, I thought you might appreciate a quick sneak peek. The following scene happens early in the book, and becomes pivotal to the development of Sawyer as a character. It's one of my favorite scenes, and I think you'll love it. No serious spoilers here, but if you're squeamish about that sort of thing this is your chance to ditch out!

For the rest of you, I give you "Two Wolves at War."

“And what did you see?”

I hesitated, but then took a deep breath and slowly started to tell Gramps about the history I’d picked up on Aeodymus. In particular, I pointed out the similarities between his past, his abilities, even his childhood, and my own. “I didn’t even want to learn about him. I wanted to learn more about my parents. But there he was. And the more I looked, the more I felt afraid.”

“Why?” Gramps asked.

I shook my head, kicked at the dirt a bit. “What if I turn out just like him? What if I end up being … being evil.”

Gramps chuckled, and put his arm around my shoulders. “Never going to happen, kid,” he said.

“I bet someone told that to Aeodymus once.”

“Or they didn’t, and that could be the problem. But I can tell you why it won’t happen to you, if you want me to. I’ll tell you a story.”

“What story?” I asked.

“A story about two wolves at war.”

He shifted and settled on the log, getting comfortable, and then started talking. His voice was low and rhythmic and comforting. He had told me stories like this my whole life, and I found myself falling right back into being a little kid—no knotwork, no Inks or Quills chasing me, no Aeodymus to worry about. Just me and Gramps, sitting on a log, looking out at the moon reflecting from the water. I could almost fool myself into thinking we were back at the fish camp, on the Brazos River. There would be s’mores back at the fire. There would be hot chocolate and an old harmonica that Gramps couldn’t really play. It was right there, just a few billion universes away.

“An old Indian chief sat with a young member of the tribe,” Gramps said, his voice steady and strong, but quiet. Almost a stage whisper. The young man was angry, because he had just gotten into a fight with another young man. The fight was over girl who had chosen the boy’s friend instead of him. The boy had thrown the first punch, and the fight had tumbled around the village, causing all kinds of chaos and grief. 

“The old Chief looked at the young man and asked, ‘Why did you fight? This girl chose him, not you. Did you think you could win her by beating him?’ And the young man, still angry but feeling more ashamed than anything, said, ‘I don’t know why. I was angry, and I wanted to hurt him, or show her that he was weak.’

“The Chief thought about this for a moment, and then nodded and said, ‘You let the bad wolf have his feast.’ The young man didn’t understand, and asked what the Chief meant by the ‘bad wolf.’ 

The Chief said, ‘Since the creation of the world, there have been two wolves inside of every man. One good wolf, one bad wolf. The good wolf stands over all the light of the world, nurturing it, defending it from predators who would destroy it. The bad wolf is one of those predators, who stands within the darkness, and wants to consume the light.

“These wolves have growled and fought since the beginning of time—they battle in every moment of the day, playing out their war in the hearts of men. One of them will win, some day, and he will mate and create more of his kind.  That is the way of wolves.

The wolves run across the earth, and create good or evil in every living thing. There is not doubt of this. Every heart contains this battle, between the good wolf and the bad wolf. You must always choose which wolf will win.’ The Chief stopped talking then, and let the young man think about what he had said.

“But the young man was still confused. He thought and thought about the story, but only became more angry, because he didn’t know how to help the good wolf win, and how to defeat the bad wolf. ‘Your story is terrible,’ the young warrior said. ‘It makes no sense! How can I help the good wolf to win? How do I defeat the bad wolf? If they are in my heart, not beasts I can see, how can I help one or fight the other? If I could see the bad wolf, I would shoot him with an arrow or stab him with a knife. I would skin him, and wear that skin to show my strength to the others. How can I fight a wolf I cannot see?’

“The Chief nodded as the young man spoke, because he agreed that this was very difficult. ‘You are right,’ he said to the young man. ‘You cannot defeat a wolf you cannot see. The wolves are in your heart, and their battle will unfold there until you help one of them win.’

“Disgusted, the young man asked, ‘How? What can I do? Which wolf will win?’

“And the old Chief replied, ‘The one that you feed.’”

Gramps sat on the tree for a while, letting the story soak into the silence, like water soaking into a concrete sidewalk. I could feel it seeping in—the meaning of it was clicking all the right tumblers in my brain. “I get it,” I said.

“You do? Because I think I read that story in an internet meme, and you know you can never really trust those things.”

“You’re saying that the only way I could become like Aeodymus is if I choose to. And the little choices, every day, add up to one big choice.”

“That’s very profound,” Gramps said, nodding. “I wish I could have summed it up like that. I was gong to say, ‘Don’t be an idiot. You’re nothing like Aeodymus.’ But your way sounds wise.”


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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