Thursday, April 4, 2024

Thunderstorms and Thunder Studs: Enjoy an Excerpt from Ch. 12 of Sparkslingers!


Even as a kid growing up in Detroit Lakes, MN, I have always loved a rainy day. I loved the smells the rain brought over the lake and through the woods. I loved the quiet, soothing rhythm on the roof of my treehouse. I loved watching the ducks on the slough busy themselves among the raindrops. Hard things turned soft. Brown things turned green. Everything slowed down to breathe it all in. 

But the really special rainy days were the ones when it thundered. I remember seeing the clouds in the west thicken and take on a warm, deep, blue-gray hue. The low, rippling sounds began in the distance and meandered closer and closer. I would wait for a flicker of lightning then count the seconds until I heard rumbles. Louder and louder it grew. Sometimes it crackled across the far stretches of the sky. Other times, it boomed and then trickled away like rivulets. Now and then, it rolled in like a stampede overhead and didn't let up its intensity until the herd traveled out of earshot.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I still am in love with rainy days and entranced by a good old thunderstorm. Although, the added grown-up understanding of the need for moisture for crops and gardens can sometimes take away the magic of it all, the forever kid in me still secretly imagines.

If you love a rumbling thunderstorm during the hot summer months as much as I do, you'll appreciate this section of Sparkslingers where you'll discover what really goes on up there when the skies go dark and the rain brings the thunder.  

Enjoy this quick excerpt from Chapter 12 in my latest Sparkslingers!

Silva Starling says, “Cloud Master Bumble has approved a doozy of a thunderstorm
over some prairie lands that have been aching for rain. It’s darned near drought stage. I swear, I put in the request – filled out all the dumb forms – over a month ago. Sometimes I wonder if he even bothers reading them until there’s trouble on the edge.”

They stand in concerned silence for a moment, but then she claps her hands and rubs them together. “But, no matter now. It’s time to send down the rain and unleash the Thunder Studs!” She yip-haws and flags the Stormbud stable hands with her hat like the start of a drag race.

The door gets shoved wide open and, slowly at first, out come the Thunder Studs, stepping cautiously, heads high, then down low to sniff and puff the cloud dust into little swirling tornadoes around their stamping feet. They are shades of blue and purple and charcoal. Their white manes swirl and float like smoke from a bed of coals. Their eyes glow like embers, flickering and dancing.

Breeslin stands frozen. She can scarcely find words. “They’re so…” her breath catches, “… they’re so… clouds above … I’ve never seen anything so terrifying and beautiful at the same time.”

“Dangerous and lovely,” whispers Drift as he puts his hand on Breeslin’s shoulder. “Like any good thunderstorm can be.”

Silva gazes at her Thunder Stud band as though seeing them for the first time, even though she sees them every single day. She says softly, “We must look upon them with awe and respect. That is what will bring them home.”

She blows them a kiss filled with sparks that swirl and twirl toward their feet, making them dance in place. The low rumble is even and steady, like a room full of drums being sprinkled with tennis balls.

Then Silva reaches for a gleaming, opalescent, diamond-encrusted electric guitar that one of the Stormbud stable hands has brought her. “Thank you, Sid,” she says, then to Drift and Breeslin, “But this is what will send them out.”

As she caresses the guitar’s long, thin neck and glides her hand along the elegant curves of the instrument, it glows to life. Threads of fibrous lightning run up and down the neck and swirl around the body.

The stallion at the front sees her, as well as the gate ahead, but keeps stamping and snorting and shaking his head.

Silva stands, strong and steady, and wraps the studded strap over her shoulder with rockstar confidence. Their eyes connect. She winks, juts her head toward the gate, and picks intricately along the strings. Notes shimmer with a clear tone that dances in the air.

The steed snorts once and blows out a dark cloud burst.

This makes Silva smile, and she leans into the guitar as she continues to play. The notes become more urgent as the electric rhythm picks up.

The lead stallion responds to the music. He drums the cloud ground with a complex backbeat. The herd gets restless, flinging their heads to the rhythm.

Silva knows they’re ready now. She narrows her eyes, still locked with that lead stallion, and slides her fingers up and down the strings. Intense sound sears higher into the sky as she wields the guitar overhead and shakes it. The reverberation screams down the fence line and strikes open the gate with a blinding explosion.

The Thunder Stud rears and shrieks a lightning-strike whinny in reply. With blue fire in his eyes, he tears off in a maelstrom of havoc. Sky Steed after Sky Steed, the herd pours through the gate. Like cannon shots, they ripple past and out into the distance.

Drift holds both hands flat to his chest and sees Breeslin do the same. “I feel it. Inside my … my everything.”

Breeslin says with a breathy laugh, “Me too,” and lets the reverberation of the rumbling wash through her.

As the last one kicks up his heels and disappears with the rest, Silva sends a final hum of the guitar that follows them.

She turns to her guests and says, “And there you have it. A rumble release." 



  1. Don't mind thunder storms but hate those days when it rains and rains silently. Seems as if we've had more rain this year so far than any other. Some snow might have been nice. I enjoyed your book

  2. Living in the desert, we love the storms. They bring relief from the dry heat and the rain refills the reservoirs. Love your book cover. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yes! There's magic in our weather. :)


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