OK, I have some good news and bad news.
The good news is that I'm pretty sure the last few illustrations I commissioned for The Lycanthrope Club: Book II will be done by the end of this month or early June at the latest. Furthermore, the second editor has finished going over the manuscript and I'll have a chance to meet with him over the coming weekend. Once I have all the art and incorporate the final corrections and changes into the draft it'll only be a week or two before the book is FINALLY available for download/purchase.
The bad news is that I had to cut a couple of illustrations from the book. See, I set the end of July as a hard deadline for publication. Not that I made any commitments or promises to anyone, mind; setting a deadline simply helps focus me (and prevents my projects from dragging on forever). Anyways, as it stands I'd probably have to push the release date into August or later if I tried to squeeze every last illustration I had originally planned into the book. This is the reason I tried to raise funds for the project via Kickstarter. I only have x amount of spare dollars per month and x is a variable in every sense of the word; some months were lean so I could only afford to commission one (or even less) illustration. Plus, I failed to take into account the possibility of multiple delays on the artists' end. As it stands there will only be six colored illustrations (not counting the front cover) and five black and white illustrations; the first book had five colored illustrations and seven black and white ones. I had originally planned nine colored illustrations and six black and white illustrations, minimum. So, actually, the second book won't have more pictures than the first. I'm very, very sorry about this, particularly after the long wait.
The one thing book II will have more of than book I is bonus stories. Again, there will be a sequel to my short story "A Nurse in Wolf's Clothing" and an epilogue of sorts to book II entitled "First Night" depicting Melinda and Phillip's first night together in the woods as werewolves. Both bonus stories will only be included in print and full color PDF editions, the latter of which will be available to those who contribute at least 2.00 USD to the project via PayPal at Daemoneye.net (please wait until book II is finished, though!).
Here's one last teaser: an excerpt from the draft of "First Night"
* * *
Melinda glanced over at Phillip. He was seated in the passenger seat quietly staring at nothing in particular. Frowning, she scanned his resigned expression for some sign of emotion, some hint of excitement, anger or fear. Seeing none, she turned reluctantly back to the road.
Melinda slowed the car to a stop and looked around. The roads ahead, behind, and to her right were empty. She tapped her fingers on the wheel. The soft rumble of the engine hung in the air. She peered down at the car clock radio and out the front window. Though barely past five the light was already fading. The western horizon was little more than a bright orange gleam beneath a restless grey sky. She could still make out the expanse of trees a little ways ahead and the speckled lights of Pinebrook to the right but little beyond that.
She hesitated a little while longer and, after making certain there were no approaching headlights, turned back to Phillip.
"Are you feeling alright?" she hazarded.
"Uh, yeah," said Phillip after clearing his throat.
"It's just..." she began.
"...Never mind," sighed Melinda.
"No, no, wait," said Phillip suddenly, sitting up. "What is it?"
Melinda bit her lower lip.
"You just seem sort of...spaced out," she said, almost apologetically. "I know this is really, really awkward and weird but, well, I wasn't expecting this."
"Well, what were you expecting?" asked Phillip.
"Shit, sorry, that came out wrong," said Phillip quickly. He rubbed his forehead. "I mean, I just don't know, Melinda. This is uncharted territory."
"Yeah," said Melinda softly.
"Look, I, uh, I really don't know how I feel," said Phillip. "Anxious? Freaked out? A little excited? All of the above? I don't think there's a word for it."
Melinda said nothing.
"Let's just get to the preserve and see how things go from there," he said. "I'm sure everything will work out. And even if it doesn't..." he trailed off.
"Yeah," said Melinda softly.
Melinda released the break and tapped the gas pedal. The car roared to life. They crossed the intersection and continued along the narrow road.
The two teenagers were silent for a while. The sky grew steadily darker. Not a single car passed them by. The small country road was seldom used apart from local residents, rangers, and the occasional lost visitor; Melinda and Phillip were none of the above.
Gradually, the road curved to the right, bringing it closer to the forest. Phillip watched the mixed greenery of pines and broadleaves pass them by with distracted interest.
"Alright, look Melinda," he said suddenly, turning from the window. "We've been over this. There's no reason to assume I'll wind up any different."
"There was no reason to assume Yvette or Sophie would wind up the way they did," said Melinda.
"Well, yeah, but you said yourself there were other factors," said Phillip. "Yvette was, er, really depressed and angry at the time and Sophie was off her meds. Literally."
"There is another factor at play here," said Melinda.
"Christ, Melinda, just because I'm a guy-"
"It's probably nothing," interrupted Melinda in an almost reassuring voice. "But it's still...uncharted territory. I don't know if it affects males differently. Please don't tell anyone else I said this, but I'm kind of relieved the girls still outnumber the guys 3 to 1."
"Well, shit, I don't know," said Phillip. "Maybe you just should have just tied all the guys down or something to be on the safe side."
"I considered it," said Melinda.