Darlene Foster's Blog

Virtual Book Blast For Laws of Nature

Posted on: July 17, 2021

I am happy to be part of Jacqui Murray’s book blast for her most recent prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity series.

A boy blinded by fire. A woman raised by wolves. An avowed enemy offers help.


In this second of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, the first trilogy in the Man vs. Nature saga, Lucy and her eclectic group escape the treacherous tribe that has been hunting them and find a safe haven in the famous Wonderwerk caves in South Africa. Though they don’t know it, they will be the oldest known occupation of caves by humans. They don’t have clothing, fire, or weapons, but the caves keep them warm and food is plentiful. But they can’t stay, not with the rest of the tribe enslaved by an enemy. To free them requires not only the prodigious skills of Lucy’s unique group–which includes a proto-wolf and a female raised by the pack–but others who have no reason to assist her and instinct tells Lucy she shouldn’t trust.

Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Book information:

Title and author: Laws of Nature

Series: Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Editor: The extraordinary Anneli Purchase

Available print or digital) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU  Kindle India

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman , the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog: https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter: http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website: https://jacquimurray.net

Writing a Series vs Stand-alone

By Jacqui Murray

I got into a discussion with Robbie over at Robbie’s Inspirations about the mechanics of writing a series. She writes stand-alone books while I write mostly trilogies. The issue was:

When you write a series in the same setting and featuring the same people, how do you keep the descriptions fresh in each book? In other words, how much attention do you give to describing the people and places in the subsequent books to keep the books stand alone and yet part of a series? 

What a great question. Here’s what I do:

I struggled with that at first and then analyzed how other authors did it in series. Sometimes, they included a quick summary of important facts in subsequent books within the series. Sometimes, they provided tantalizing hooks–maybe to drive readers to the earlier books. Other times, when something wasn’t terribly relevant to the story, they skipped it.

I do a hybrid of all three. Where the story would limp without some background, I add that briefly, usually as narrative but occasionally (as in my current publication, Laws of Nature) as a flashback. One answer doesn’t fit and I respond to the particular needs of the current volume in the series/trilogy. Because I read a lot of series, I take note of how authors address this and mostly, when it fits the author’s voice and the story’s pacing, I like their varied efforts. 

What do you do?

Thanks, Jacqui. Although I write a series, they are not sequential and each book can easily stand alone. I make sure the two main characters, Amanda and Leah, maintain their same personality, appearance and voice. I seldom mention anything from the previous books, except in passing. Those who have read the other books will catch on, but it’s not necessary. I do however hope that once a reader reads one Amanda Travels, they wish to read others.

It will be interesting to hear what other writers do.

Excerpt from Laws of Nature

Chapter 1


South Africa


Fresh blood streaked Short-tooth’s muzzle, her golden eyes alert to every movement around her as she munched on Gazelle’s meaty carcass. Each movement made the Cat’s tawny fur ripple over the powerful muscles beneath her skin. She raised her head, chewing slowly while studying the grass field in front of her, especially toward the back where it blended into the forest. She couldn’t see Mammoth but smelled it, close to the Uprights, maybe protecting them. Despite being the size of a boulder, this pachyderm could outrun most predators and would think nothing of crushing them beneath its massive feet.

Short-tooth wasn’t interested in the Uprights. Their bodies had little meat and less fat. Gazelle was more satisfying.

Catripped a slab of fragrant meat from the hind leg. Snarling-dog—to the far side—slapped the ground. He was hungry but wouldn’t eat Gazelle until Short-tooth finished. Cat purred loudly, close to a snarl, and Snarling-dog withdrew, but not far. Carrion-bird overhead tightened its circle and a tiny shrew the size of Short-tooth’s paw waited patiently, out of Cat’s range, eyes bright, nose twitching. A shred from the carcass was all it needed. 

None of these creatures mattered to Short-tooth. She was the apex predator in her savannah habitat. 

Sticky yellow globs of Mammoth dung slid down Lucy’s back and plopped to the dry thatch. The dung coat was melting under Sun’s intense heat, exactly as Lucy planned. Its purpose was to confuse Short-tooth Cat. The hotter Sun became, the stronger Mammoth’s smell. 

Lucy and her young pairmate, Garv, lay motionless, like Snake sleeping, bodies pressed into the prickly grass, oblivious to the feathery feet that scurried over their backs. She and Garv, too, wanted what Short-tooth didn’t consume. They were more patient than Snarling-dog but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t eat first. The first to arrive got the best of the leftovers.

Lucy rubbed her raw eyes, bleary from watching Cat bite, rip, and chew. If Short-tooth knew of their presence, it was not because she saw them. Lucy and Garv blended into the landscape. Their skin was the color of dirt and dry grass, impossible to find if you weren’t looking. No part of their bodies moved except their narrowed eyes as they scanned the surroundings, evaluating each new arrival to the feast. The dominant scents never changed—Snarling-dog, Short-tooth Cat, something decaying in the nearby forest, her pairmate Garv’s sweaty body, and Gazelle’s ripening offal.

Sun’s relentless heat washed over Lucy in waves. Sweat dripped down her face, over her pronounced brow ridge and into her eyes, but for reasons she didn’t understand, despite his fur pelt, Snarling-dog was dry. He reminded Lucy of Ump, her tribe’s Canis member. Even on the hottest days, Ump didn’t sweat. Instead, he panted more.

Today, Snarling-dog panted hard.

Short-tooth raised her feline head, inspecting her habitat as her jaws crunched through the fresh carrion. She reeked of malevolence which meant scavengers like Lucy and Garv willingly waited their turn.

Sun climbed through the cloudless blue sky. The morning haze had burned off long ago. The dew Lucy hadn’t licked off the leaves, Sun’s heat had. Her throat was dry, lips cracked, but that mattered less than securing scavenge. Her tribe was hungry.

Lately, unexpectedly, when Lucy sat quietly as she did now, a tingle deep inside her chest told her Raza, her former pairmate, was in trouble. The first time she experienced this tingle, what Garv called “instinct”, it churned through her body as a current does in a stream. She thought she was sick until Garv explained this was instinct and it warned of danger, not illness. He told her always to listen, but how was she to do that? Raza had been captured by the tribe’s worst enemy, a formidable Upright called Man-who-preys. She didn’t know where they’d taken him. As often as she brushed the feeling away, it returned, each time stronger than the last.

Cat’s yellow eyes snapped open and her methodical jaws slowed. Something caught her interest, maybe Snarling-dog’s impatience or Carrion-bird’s relentless approach. After a warning hiss, Short-tooth shook her big head and pawed her face. A swarm of black flies lifted, buzzed briefly, and then resettled where they’d started, again gorging on the blood and carrion that stuck to Short-tooth’s face

The flies are thicker than usual.

Short-tooth returned to her meal and Lucy sniffed, wondering what drew Cat’s attention. She didn’t expect to see Man-who-preys here, but took nothing for granted. The tall, big-headed, hairless enemy always carried a long stick which he used to kill prey. Sometimes, he didn’t eat the animal, just watched it die. This unpredictability, that he followed no norms, made him more treacherous than other predators.

She inhaled, but didn’t smell his stench so turned her attention back to the hunt. 

Carrion-bird floated overhead, feet tucked beneath its sleek body. The longer Cat ate, the more of the huge birds arrived. They thought their powerful sweeping wings, sharp claws, and piercing beaks made them the mightiest among the scavengers. What they didn’t realize was that Lucy and Garv possessed an even greater weapon: They could plan. Before Carrion-bird or Snarling-dog got too close, Lucy and Garv would take what they needed and flee.

They always did.

In the edging forest, Cousin Chimp hooted, the pitch and length describing the location of a tree newly bearing fruit. Leaves rustled as his band raced away. Lucy hoped they would leave enough of the succulent produce for her and Garv.

She hunkered deeper into the tall waving stalks, tracking the other scavengers and noting again how far away the trees were in case she needed to flee. A snake slithered over her foot, through the thatch and out of sight. She and Garv had been motionless for so long, Snake probably viewed them as dirt mounds in its path.

Garv tweaked an eyebrow and Lucy motioned, hands a tight circle in front of her chest, well hidden, “Dull colors, no knobs on snake’s tail—no danger.”

Her kind—Man-who-makes-tools—used a sophisticated blend of communication including body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, mimicking, and vocalization. One of their greatest defenses in this brutal world was the ability to become part of their surroundings. Voices were unusual sounds heard nowhere in nature except from Uprights, mostly the big-headed Man-who-preys. Lucy’s kind occasionally whispered and Tree-men, like Boah who was part of Lucy’s tribe, rarely made any sounds beyond huffs, grunts, howls, and moans. Only Man-who-preys jabbered endlessly.

Lucy’s eyelids drooped. This hunt had started yesterday when Lucy and Garv found the fresh cloven prints of a Gazelle herd. Lucy’s kind ate copious amounts of roots, nuts, fruit, juicy stems, and insects, but only meat gave them the energy to survive their dangerous lives. Because they hunted only dead animals, they depended upon predators to make the kill. Gazelle’s fleshy body always attracted Cat and its cousins, like Short-tooth. They would pick off the injured, and Lucy’s tribe would eat what they left.

Because not enough daylight remained yesterday, Lucy and Garv set out today, at Sun’s first light. They followed the herd while the rest of the tribe—the Tree-man Boah, the child Voi, and the Canis Ump—stayed at the homebase’s cave. Before Sun had traveled far, a snarl and a screech told Lucy a predator claimed its prey. When Carrion-bird and its cousins started to circle, she and Garv knew exactly where to go.

Garv nudged Lucy, the movement so subtle the grass didn’t even move. “Short-tooth is leaving.”

Lucy bit her lip and shot a look at Garv. His face radiated excitement.

She studied Short-tooth, tried to see what Garv saw and finally gestured, “I don’t see anything. Why do you think she’s finished?”

He motioned, one finger moving against his palm, “Instinct.” Nothing else.

But that was enough. Garv had taught her to stalk prey, knap tools, hunt, and protect herself. Because of him, she became an accomplished hunter, never missed a print, a bent frond, the fragrance left on leaves or bark, or any other sign. As partners, they always brought meat to the tribe. Most hunters didn’t.

Garv’s instinct had found more prey than Lucy’s tracking skills or senses ever did. She had no doubt Short-tooth would soon leave.

Cat’s big tongue, as long as Lucy’s forearm, licked the bloody scraps from her muzzle, a sign even to Lucy that she had finished. Lucy shifted to her hands and toes, knees hovering above the ground, prepared for what must come next. Garv did the same, his body hard from the life he lived, senses alert to every noise. Carrion-birds cawed and tightened their circle. On the opposite side of the field, Snarling-dog’s pack bared their canines, tails stiff. Drool dripped from their jowls and their gaze bounced between Cat and the Uprights, knowing from experience the scrawny but agile creatures were vigorous competitors.

You are fast, Snarling-dog, but we are smart. We will always get there first!

Lucy tensed as Short-tooth pushed up to her massive paws, canines red with blood, saliva dripping in strands from her jowls. She yawned, her mouth a dark cavity vast enough to swallow Lucy’s entire head, and ambled off. Lucy and Garv exploded to their feet and sprinted toward the carcass. Their powerful legs churned while nimble hands pulled cutters and stones from the sacks strung around their necks. Lucy’s job was to delay Snarling-dog and Carrion-bird while Garv stripped the carrion.

“Argh!” Lucy roared, waving a leafy branch through the air to make herself bigger to Snarling-dog while Garv attacked the carcass. Ignoring the fetid stench of dung and urine, he swung the sharp cutter and sliced through the hide and then muscle and tendon.

Lucy flung a stone at the lead Snarling-dog. It hit his temple, hard, and he dropped with a squeal. His pack slowed to reassess the upright creature and Lucy threw another stone, this one at the new leader’s eye. He yipped and stumbled, shook his head, and pawed at the blood that oozed from the wound and dribbled down his muzzle.

“Lucy!” Garv tossed an almost pristine haunch to her and then swung his chopper at Gazelle’s ribs. Carrion-bird, well into its death dive, talons extended, screeched its imminent attack.

“Let’s go!” Lucy called, the unexpected sound of her voice meant to startle the scavengers.

She hurled a rock at the lead Carrion-bird. It squawked and withdrew, which slowed the rest of the flock. Lucy grabbed an almost-meatless leg bone. It would be filled with nutritious bloody marrow. Meat secured over her shoulders, she and Garv fled. No one chased them. Why abandon certain meat for an uncertain meal? Lucy raced past a termite mound, noted its location, rounded a boulder bed, and lost sight of the fracas.

Not the scent, though. The tantalizing aroma sailed through the air, announcing to every scavenger around the availability of meat.

58 Responses to "Virtual Book Blast For Laws of Nature"

Reblogged this on NEW OPENED BLOG > https:/BOOKS.ESLARN-NET.DE.

Thanks so much for reblogging!

Thank you so much for visiting and sharing this post. I have been surprised that readers like stand-alone books fully as much as a series. Me, I almost skip books not part of a series (another reason why I love your Amanda series, Darlene)

BTW, I’m happy to say I could find your blog with that link but it didn’t allow me to ‘like’ or comment. No biggy–just wanted to thank you for sharing my exciting news!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Darlene. I love this topic and am excited to hear your readers’ opinions on it.

Happy to host. It is a good topic. The key to writing a series is consistency which isn’t always easy. I enjoy reading both stand-alone and a series. A good story is a good story!

I enjoyed this glimpse into writing a series. It’s not anything I’ve ever considered.

You write stand-alones I think? The first book of each of my trilogies–and my one series–were intended at stand-alones. And then, the story didn’t end!

Yes, I write stand-alones. I didn’t realize that your trilogies didn’t start out as trilogies!

Thanks, Liz. Sometimes the characters have more to say and do, even after you type the end. This is how a series is born.

That “Ah ha” moment when the characters tell you they have more to say and do must be quite exhilarating!

I liked this discussion about writing a series quite interesting. Thank you for hosting Darlene, Jacqui’s book blast is rocking!

Thanks, Balroop. It is a great book blast!

Flashback is a great technique to use in a series, Jacqui! Thank you for hosting the book tour, Darlene.

Yes, it is, Miriam. Happy to host the book blast!

I see how you brought back some characters in your Amanda series also, Darlene!

My pleasure. And I agree–I much prefer flashback to a narrative info dump!

Great topic, Jacqui. I like to add just enough background to hopefully tease readers into buying previous books within the series. I like to write standalones, though secondary characters tend to insist on their own books and what was supposed to be one becomes three! lol

I like that idea and you do it. I didn’t start your series at the beginning and am tantalized by details you allude to included in earlier books. Nice strategy.

That is an excellent strategy Those secondary characters can get pushy and insist on their own stories!

Great post Darlene….glad you hosted this book blast. Found the series discussion so insightful and loved the first chapter….couldn’t stop reading until I was finished. I found the subject matter something I would never have thought of, but wow….very intriguing.

So glad we’ve intrigued you, Kirt. Thanks for visiting!

So pleased you enjoyed the excerpt, Kirt. Jacqui is so good at writing prehistoric stories. She does a lot of research.

That shows in her writing…powerful!!

Hi interesting feature of Jacqui. I’m in the process of writing part 2 of a series- The Curse of Time, and finding it darn hard! Thanks for the tips. Good luck and nice feature. 🙂

Writing a series can be tricky but readers love them, especially young readers.

Yes that’s true Darlene. Very popular with young readers. 😉

This Book 2 was harder than Book 1 but I did something I hope is clever. I outlined Book 2 and 3 together in the hopes that to my writerly mind, it would feel like one very long book. So far so good!

Very clever indeed. I’m sure that will help with consistency.

Ah great idea Jacqui. I wish I’d done that. I’ve written the whole of book 2 but nothing for book 3. I have ideas to progress to a trilogy though.

HI both, this is an interesting topic and one that still occupies my mind. I understand what both of you do in your series to keep each book different and unique, but I am not convinced I am a series kind of writer. I am not sure if the characters and idea would hold my interest long enough for me to write three books. I note that Jacquie mentions she reads series. I am sure that helps a lot. I have never read series, strangely, I’ve generally always been a single book reader.

Thank heaven we all have different tastes and interests when it comes to reading. There are so many great stand-alone books out there. I have occasionally been disappointed when an author takes a great stand-alone and writes a sequel or a series. Sometimes I wish they had left it as it was. I read the first 5 Harry Potter books and then stopped. (I did watch all the movies though.)

I do make exceptions to my single book preference, Darlene. I’ve read four of your books and have another on my TBR and I’ve also read a few of Jacqui’s and have more on my TBR. There is never one rule for anything in life.

That’s an interesting perspective I hadn’t thought of. I tend to focus on getting to know the characters and wanting the ‘ride the trail’ with them. But you’re right–they could get boring.

I worry that readers will get bored with Amanda but with a different setting and a new mystery/adventure every time, I’m hoping to keep their interest.

I don’t see that happening, Darlene. Each location is filled with exciting tidbits and the plot is always adventurous. I think you could write dozens of these.

Thanks for that, Jacqui!!

That is just me, Jacqui. I enjoy both yours and Darlene’s books as a reader, but as a writer, I’m not convinced I can do it. As soon as a book is finished, the characters sort of die for me. It’s a bit strange.

Congrats to Jacqui on the wonderful start to her tour. And great question and answer. As a writer of a few series, I could relate to the amount of leeway there is in addressing the previous book’s backstory. Thanks for hosting, Darlene. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all of Jacqui’s others too!

Thanks, Diana. Happy to be part of this exciting tour.

I’ve spent some time observing how other series address backstory and try to do something similar–note it, quick review where required, but not so much the reader won’t pick up the earlier book. Thanks for visiting, Diana!

I think you do a great job of reminding the reader without it feeling like a reminder.

Hi Darlene,
thanks for your review.
As followers of Jacqui’s interesting blog we knew about her new book but we hadn’t read the first chapter. Now we know even more.
All the best
The Fab Four of Cley
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

I’m pleased you got to read that first chapter! Thanks for visiting my bog and commenting.

I hope it is intriguing in an historical fiction sort of way. I may get into early man occurrences in your part of the world with my next trilogy, Savage Land. It will cover that time 75,000 years ago when man almost became extinct.

Heartiest congratulations to Jacqui and so lovely to see her here, Darlene. Toni x

Thanks, Toni. I am excited to be here, too. Darlene has wonderful efriends.

So great seeing Jacqui and her new book here, there, and everywhere. I love Jacqui’s writing and research and how much she “teaches” us in an entertaining way in her historical (prehistorical) fiction! Thanks for hosting her here, Darlene!

I am so pleased to be able to be part of this book blast. You are so right, Jacqui teaches us so much in her books. We let her do all the research and then present it in an entertaining way and history comes alive!

Thanks, Pam! Can you tell I love writing, especially prehistoric topics?

The more an author loves her setting and her characters and her genre the more magnificent her writing is! So yes, I can easily tell that you love writing prehistoric topics.

I found the setting and subject intriguing. Not something I would have thought I would like to read and yet found it compelling. Interesting discussion too about the writing of a series.

These books are very intriguing. Jacqui does a lot of research before writing the stories. There is so much we don’t know about our prehistoric past.

I’m glad you liked both of those. It’s a peak into your far-gone ancestors–what their life was lie without the culture and details that separate countries and cultures.

this is so wonderful — you are such an inspiration to me as an author & blogger, Jacqui — & Darlene!

Jacqui is amazing. Thanks.

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