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Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 19

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….


Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 19

Dillon had taken the pack off his back and was digging through his supplies. He tossed her a small package that looked like a rectangle of foil. An emergency heat blanket, the label said. When she looked back at him he was already opening one, and he spread it over Mike.

“We’ll treat for shock and hang tight for a bit. The guys have already radioed for medical personnel, and they’re on the way. We don’t want to do anything that might make any of these wounds worse.”

Shelley nodded and opened the packet, spreading the foil over Tabby’s still form. Dillon rolled up a towel next and put it under Mike’s feet, so she did the same for Tabby. Then they sat, for what seemed like hours until the medical team finally came over the rise. She checked her watch as she moved out of their way, surprised that it had only been 20 minutes. But they were pretty close to camp, relatively speaking.

The next few hours were a blur, as they followed the EMTs down the mountain, helping to carry the rescue litters. Tabitha and Mike were loaded into an ambulance and Shelley followed with Dillon in his truck. They finally settled into worn out hospital chairs with fresh cups of waiting-room-coffee and a sigh.

“The doctor didn’t look too hopeful.” Shelley took a small sip of the strong but watery brew. “He looked kind of green around the gills when he saw the maggots, actually.”

“Well, that’s what he has nurses for.” Dillon tossed his coffee down in one gulp. “I just hope we got to them in time. There’s only so much these folks can do. Only thing for us to do now is wait.”

Shelley nodded, and then fished her cell phone out of her purse. “I need to call Tabitha’s mom — I can’t believe I didn’t think about that before. She’ll want to drive over. Does anyone in Mike’s family need to know?”

Dillon shook his head. “He doesn’t have any — just me.” He didn’t seem interested in sharing further, so Shelley gave him a small nod and stood up.

“I’ll just be in the hall over there. I shouldn’t be long.”

When she got back, Dillon was standing with a doctor in scrubs, and her stomach roiled. Surely it was too soon for news…good news, anyway.

“Thank you,” Dillon said, slumping into his seat as Shelley walked over to them. The look on his face said everything, and she turned to the doctor.

“Tabitha or Mike?”

“Mr…uh, Mike didn’t make it, I’m afraid. I’m sorry.”

Shelley nodded and slipped down into the chair beside Dillon. He leaned forward, elbows on his thighs and head in his hands. His shoulders shook slightly, and she put an arm over them, lightly, not knowing what else to do.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

He sat there for another moment, and then abruptly stood, not looking at her.

“I need some air, and some space. I’ll be back later.”

Shelley nodded at his back as he stalked out of the waiting room. Leaning back in her chair, she closed her eyes and reflected on the harsh words Tabitha’s mother Jane had yelled into her ear just a few minutes ago.

This is all your fault, she’d said. You were supposed to be a calming influence for her. You were supposed to watch her, and keep her out of trouble. Where were you when all this happened? Why would you let her just go off with a strange guy into the mountains? Why? 

And now the ‘strange guy’ was dead, Tabby was fighting for her life, and none of it would have happened if she’d just said no to the whole trip and talked Tabby down. Or maybe if she hadn’t left the speed dating night so early. Maybe she shouldn’t have been so concerned with her own boredom, and stayed closer to Tabby instead…

Opening her eyes, she shook her head. None of that mattered right now. All that mattered was Tabby making it through this. As long as she survived, everything would be okay.

Somehow.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 20!

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Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 18

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….


Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 18

“Tabitha!” Shelley pushed past the men, slapping their hands off as they tried to stop her. The grade was steeper than it looked, but she leaned back and kept going, zig-zagging down the hill to slow her momentum. Heavy footsteps pounded behind her and Dillon called her name. Why did he want her to stop? Why wasn’t he rushing down to help his friend too?

A distinct coppery smell wafted past her on the breeze, followed by the smell of rotting meat. She refused to believe Tabby was dead. She couldn’t be. Not after all they’d done together. All they still had left to do. She just…couldn’t be dead.

“Shelley, you have to stop! Look across the fire!”

Dillon’s voice finally penetrated and she looked up, seeing nothing across the firepit except another hill, that one covered in trees and shrouded in the dimness of a forest in daytime. Just a few more steps and she’d be right next to Tabby…

Just then, she saw the glowing eyes. Smelled the stench of rotten meat, and knew it wasn’t coming from either of their friends.

Bear-breath was much, much worse than she’d ever bothered to imagine. And those eyes were fixed straight ahead, locked onto her as a long tongue licked drool from black jowels.

A shot rang out from somewhere behind her and the eyes and muzzle went sideways. The animal grunted and the earth vibrated as his body hit the ground with a solid thud.

Shelley couldn’t take her eyes off the beast. It was bigger than she’d thought a black bear would be, and she imagined a breath, maybe two even though the shot had run right through the head. When a heavy hand fell on her shoulder, she nearly jumped out of her skin and gasped.

“Just me. The bear’s dead. Are you okay?”

She finally turned her head to see the concern in Dillon’s eyes. Swallowing hard past the lump in her throat, she nodded.

“Who shot it?”

Dillon pointed to John, now standing way too close to that carcass for comfort.

“He circled out the moment you started running — hit the hill full speed and didn’t stop until he found his mark. Thank God.”

A low groan from the bodies on the ground pulled them both back to the reason they were there in the first place, and Shelley whirled around, kneeling on the ground beside Tabitha while Dillon went to Mike.

“Tabby? Are you okay? Wake up — talk to me!” Shelley grabbed her shoulder and gently pulled Tabby from her stomach to her back, earning another groan in the process.

“Shelley?” Tabby blinked up at her, but didn’t seem to see her. “Is that really you? You’re like a mirage. All fuzzy or wavy or something…” Her head lolled to the side and Shelley gave the rest of Tabby’s body a quick glance, expecting the blood to be on her torso. But it wasn’t.

“Tabitha — wake up Tabby! What happened to your leg?” When she got no response, Shelley put two fingers to the side of Tabby’s neck and prayed.

Her heart was beating, but it seemed weak. Shelley moved to look at the wound on her leg, and that’s when she realized that the putrid smell she’d been trying to ignore wasn’t bear breath, but rather a long, obviously infected gash across Tabby’s thigh.

“Oh God,” she breathed, wondering how long the two had been laying in this spot. The wound was dirty, and…were those maggots?

Momentarily at a loss for what to do, she glanced over at Dillon and Mike, now on his back too. Mike’s wounds were considerably more substantial — long gashes across his chest, and apparently in worse shape than Tabby’s.

“What do we do?” she asked, looking helplessly at Dillon. “I don’t even know how to help.”


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 19!

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Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 15

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….


Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 15

Turning her back to the wall, Shelley slid down to sit on the floor. Her whole body was shaking — she couldn’t help it. Dillon sat down beside her but she didn’t look at him.

The image was burned into her mind. Even in the dim hall light, she’d seen the big dark stain on the front of Tabby’s shirt. Cuts and slashes seared through it like grill marks, and all Shelley could think about was what kind of an animal could have done that, and whether Tabby could have survived it or not.

Or anyone, for that matter.

“She’s dead, isn’t she?” Her small, shaky voice sounded foreign even to Shelley’s own ears.

Dillon put an arm around her, pulling her into his side. “We don’t know that. People have sustained some very rough treatment and still lived to tell the tale. Don’t give up on her yet.”

Shelley nodded against his chest, soaking in the warmth of his comfort for a few more seconds. Then she gently pushed away, swiping the tears off her face and getting to her feet.

“There’s no way I can sleep now — not when she’s out there hurt and in pain. We have to find her, Dillon. What can we do now? Check maps and make a plan for first light? Go scouting the trail? I need to do something. I can’t just sit here.”

He got to his feet as well. “I know. Mike’s still out there too. I hope he’s with Tabitha, and that they’re somewhere safe tonight. Let’s go back down to the command room and see what we can figure out. I promise we’ll leave at first light to explore the section of trail where her shirt was found.”

Shelley nodded. “I’ll get my shoes.”

A few hours later when the sun was just barely peeking over the horizon, she shouldered a pack full of supplies, turned her headlamp on and followed Dillon and three other men through the woods and down a narrow trail that wound back and forth across the side of the mountain. The birds had a lot to say, it seemed, and the hiking was anything but quiet. There was an old, earthy quality to the fragrance each step kicked up, mingled with the fresh scent of pine needles and the occasional not-so-fresh smell of scat. If she hadn’t been desperate to find Tabitha and the guy she’d run from, Shelley might actually have enjoyed the walk.

They passed the spot where the sweatshirt was found about an hour into the hike, but a thorough examination revealed absolutely nothing. Not even blood droplets leading away from the site.

The sun was finally warming through the trees when the man in front called a halt. She looked ahead past Dillon to see why, and it was immediately obvious.

“Oh God,” she muttered, coveringher mouth with one hand. “Is that –?”

“Black bear,” Dillon said, moving to block her view. “Looks like someone killed it. Human, not animal. Mike usually has a hunting knife on him, but he wouldn’t do something like this unless  he had no other choice.”

“Like saving Tabby.”

He nodded. “We’re not too far from an old ranger cabin close to the creek. He might have taken her there if he had the strength.”

“Any idea which way that cabin is, Sir?” One of the men had a compass out, and the other was searching the bushes for a possible trail leading out.

“It’s been awhile, but I think I can find it. I’m pretty sure the creek is north-east from here, so that might be a good place to start.”


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 16!

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Poem-A-Day Challenge: Week 2 Poems

Our National Poetry Month challenge continues…don’t forget to check out Carol’s poems too!

This week, I tried to be more descriptive. Description is my personal writing “unicorn”, if you will. I’m not good at it for several reasons I’ll discuss once I figure out how to do so, but in the meantime, I’m working on it. These are definitely more descriptive, but some of them are still pretty rough around the edges. Not too bad though, methinks…


Saturday, 4/8: Spring Fever (also featured on the BSB blog – a prompt story)

Thick strappy leaves wave merrily
propelled by warm fuzzy bodies
under bright spring sunshine.

Happy tails move this way and that
sending the occasional loose petal
flying free of its cup-like structure.

Red and yellow dominate the field.
A pleasant breeze ruffles ear-fur and
delights busy noses that sniff and seek.

Is there anything happier than soft
wigglebutts and bright fresh blossoms
on a warm spring day?

Sunday, 4/9: Bookkeeping (because…taxes)

What have I done?
Slacked off here, left off there,
shirked responsibility.

Need to fix this,
but there’s so much to do.
Just want to chuck it all.

Promises, every year,
to do better than the last.
Never happens.

Maybe next year.

Monday, 4/10: Morning Noise

It’s so loud —
the six am meeting of the
finely feathered & famished.

Like old friends,
they greet each other with
soulful salutations & song.

The sun rises
and the joyous treetop choir
summons the sleeping to stir.

But…it’s so loud!

Tuesday, 4/11: Lost It

It’s gone.
I don’t know where or how or when,
but it was here, and now it’s not.
I can’t believe I lost it.

I seek.
At home, at work, the car, the bed,
it simply vanished, so it seems.
I don’t know what to do.

I pine.
It was so lovely, useful, perfect.
Not sure what I’ll do without it.
But I must move on.

I buy.
It will be shiny, new, and updated.
This one as perfect as the last.
Maybe even better.

Wednesday 4/12: The Dentist (because…fillings)

It starts with a “pinch”
to numb out the pain.
A brief, quiet wait
until no feeling remains.

The man in white comes
blue mask and gloves donned.
I try to relax,
put my best game-face on.

The drill starts to whine,
burnt enamel fills my nose,
my fingers clench tight,
water & suction whoosh through a hose.

Above me four eyes,
quarters are tight,
gloved fingers, small tools
and that big too-bright light.

My tongue tries to hide
from the chemical tastes,
and the bite of a tool
weilded in haste.

All eventually ends
and my head spins to adjust
when they tip the chair upright
and wipe off the dust.

A necessary evil
this nightmare routine
but it happens less often
with good dental hygiene!

Thursday, 4/13: Daydreams

A wisp of wind swirls through newly born leaves,
green grass swishes softly in a warm summer breeze.

Air fresh and sweet caresses her skin,
she closes her eyes as the daydreams begin.

The hammock sways gently ‘tween two big birch trees,
the afternoon’s quiet save the low hum of bees.

Restless, she shifts, dreams of her paramour.
Does he dream of her too, the one she longs for?

Her heartbeat is loud, her adrenaline flows,
the mere thought of his touch makes her tingle and glow.

It’s all in her head, a fairy-tale ode,
another time, another life, another untaken road.

She opens her eyes, watches shadows diffuse,
waits for the stars to wish for her muse.

Friday, 4/14: A Bad Day

The alarm was off and so was I,
that long and fateful day.
It’s been awhile, so I can scoff,
but things were really gray.

Late to wake and late to work,
nary a sunshiny ray.
A server was down, tempers were up,
and many a nerve set to fray.

Car broke down and dog got sick,
the money drained away.
Dinner was burnt, rain came down,
and left no chance to play.

TV was awful and so was the news,
all touting political sway.
Too fried to write, to tired to read,
but sleep was respite from the grey.


Thanks for reading…feel free to share your own poems below. And stop back next Saturday for another week’s worth of poetry!

Talkin’ Books, July 1, 2015

The print TBR pile - The Blue Labyrinth is on top only because we just bought it. The hubby will read it first.

The print TBR pile –  or part of it, anyways (I have plenty of books sitting in my office waiting to be read as well).The Blue Labyrinth is on top only because we just bought it. The hubby will read it first.

 

Books Finished:
Still The One by Jill Shalvis
Ruby by Anna Skye
Her Imaginary Husband by Lia London
White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Instant Temptation by Jill Shalvis
Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis

Kindle Books In Progress:
Enter Ruinland by CJ Anderson
The Indie Author Power Pack  (Write, Publish, Repeat)

Print Books in Progress:
The Kill Switch by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood

Comic Books:
Silk #1
Harley Quinn #15
Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special
A few other issues of different series that I didn’t keep track of before archiving them

I know, it’s been awhile, but time’s been in short supply for the past few months. Or I’ve been lazy about blogging. Probably both.

I have been reading though, as you can see. Lots of romantic comedy (ala Jill Shalvis, my favorite), catching up with my comic books and working away on my print TBR pile which is growing by the week.

There are even a couple romances up there I’d classify as “new adult” – romances for the late teen/early 20’s set. I’m not normally into those, and I can’t say I am now either, but Ruby was surprising in that it’s written in first person (which I really don’t like) yet it held my interest to the very end. And then I was just annoyed at where it ended – not a cliffhanger, exactly, but the story isn’t finished, it’s just in a sort of “lull” with no real resolution. Not my cup of tea – it makes me feel manipulated into buying the next book (which I haven’t, and probably won’t). Plenty of people *do* like that sort of serialized novella format, so if you do, and you like new adult romances, I’d certainly recommend it – the writing is great and the story engaging.

Her Imaginary Husband is another young/new adult romance, though light on the romance, and more of a “coming of age” sort of story. It’s well-written, but the reasons for the central plot (a non-existent husband) seemed a bit overly dramatic/angsty for me, though true to the age/maturity of the character. Mostly it just seemed “young” in every way, which makes me feel old. LOL

There’s a reason I’m really not into the new adult romance trend – mostly that a lot of the plots and decisions seem silly and overly dramatic and could all be solved with a healthy dose of honesty and confidence/backbone – but they did when I was that age too. I’ve always been an “old soul” (and a very direct one at that), so the genre as a whole really just doesn’t do it for me.

Then we swing about 180 degrees in the other direction, and you have White Fire, by Preston and Child, my favorite adventure/thriller duo. It’s not as much of a page-turner as some of their others, I’m sad to report, but it’s still a good read, with a rather engaging mystery at the core.

And in yet another direction entirely, I’ve just started Enter Ruinland, by CJ Anderson. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale with a central theme of sociopaths being genetic “mistakes”. The writing style is quite different than the normal “mass market” fare, and it took me a bit to get into it, but the story itself is very intriguing so far, and I’m interested to see where it goes.

Next up from the print pile is the latest Tucker & Kane novel by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood – The Kill Switch, which I just started, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy because…Tucker & Kane. Tucker is the rugged and oh-so-manly guy Army Ranger who finds/extracts people and “stuff”, and Kane is his dog. Who also finds things, and protects Tucker, and is incredibly intelligent, handsome and pettable. My kind of guy. 😉

And of course Jill Shalvis and Tawna Fenske both have new books out this week (more romantic comedy – yay!), but I’m trying to convince myself to wait and see if they go on sale later. Yes, I know, I should support my fellow authors, but…well…I’m still kind of cheap when it comes to books (because I buy and read quite a few, probably).

That’s what’s going on in my reading world…if you’re so inclined, feel free to share what you’re reading as well…

On Life, Writing, & Pressure Valves…

Before I forget, I need to announce the winners of the Flame & Stone Newsletter Prize Packages (this month’s newsletter should be in your inbox by now):

Congratulations to
Lorraine Richmond & Dolly Garland!

You’ll both be hearing from me by email this evening, ladies. Thanks for being subscribers! 🙂

There’s a BeauTEAful Summer Tea-Themed prize package up for grab next month, and it’s only for newsletter subscribers. If you’re not signed up, what are you waiting for?

Now to answer the question I’m sure is on everyone’s mind…

Yes, yes we did get the new dishwasher. And installed it over the course of two nights. And about 20 minutes of my Saturday too, finishing up the hose & electrical box hangings. Which sounds far more interesting than it actually was.

Life sort of took a not-so-unexpected-yet-still-unwelcome turn last week, leaving me very little energy (mental or physical) at the end of each day. It’s a temporary situation as they generally are – things always tend to find a way to come back to some sort of balance eventually. The annoying thing about being worn down that far is that there’s no room for anything else until the mind’s had a chance to rest. Including writing.

I get crabby when I don’t write, and not just because between that cold I had and these “things” going on, I’m extremely behind on several deadlines at this point. I know it all sounds like excuses because they do to me too, but that doesn’t solve the issue of just having no brain power left to do one more thing. Doesn’t make it any less frustrating either.

But the main reason I get crabby when I don’t write is that writing is an outlet for me. It’s like a pressure-valve, and when the pressure builds up too high, it gets rather uncomfortable. Even worse, when it’s been a few days since the valve has been open, it gets cold and hard to open at all.

And last week, I barely got a chance to even look at the valve, much less open it. (Okay, that got a little weird. Sorry.)

Anyways, my main goal for this week is to make a point to “release the pressure” at least once a day, regardless of the chaos that the next five days are very likely to bring. Of course surprises will happen, and there’s nothing I can do about that except to just deal with them one-by-one and hope there aren’t too many left to be sprung. But the more organized I am, and the clearer picture I have of what needs to be done when, the better I can deal with curve-balls, and that’s what determines how much mental energy I have left at the end of the day.

As you might imagine, I’ve been prioritizing and scheduling all weekend long in the hopes of getting out in front of things this week. My control-freak nature freaking right out. Don’t mind her. She does that occasionally…

Actually, she’s been screaming at me for the last 15 minutes that I really need to go to bed and get some sleep so I can roll with whatever happens.

She’s always a pain in the butt, but sometimes she’s right…

I wish you a non-chaotic, boring week. Or if you happen to run into chaos, by all means, feel free to keep her/him/it/whatever…I certainly don’t need her back.


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On Contests, Sight, & Almond Milk…

Before I forget (because I have a tendency to do so), I have a few sale & contest announcements for this month (it won’t take long, I promise):

FandS_400

– The digital version of Flame & Stone is just .99 for the month of March (woohoo!)
– There’s a contest to win free copies running now on LibraryThing
– There’s another contest to win free copies running now on BookLikes
– The print version should be done by the end of the week, and then there will be a contest for signed print copies on Goodreads, as well as LibraryThing & BookLikes.
– Giveaways for the audio version should be up on LibraryThing & BookLikes before the end of the month.

So…lots of chances to win free copies, or you can buy a copy cheap for this month only.

Fun Fact: As of this blog post, the audiobook has outsold the ebook by a wide margin. Odd, but hey, I’m all about variety here, and I’m just as happy with people listening as reading. Thank you! And I’m sure our excellent narrator, Kevin Clay, would extend his thanks as well.

 

Now, on to other things…

I finally went to the eye doc last week, and found out why my eyes have been watering pretty much non-stop all winter, making it difficult both to write and work, as I stare at a screen all day & most nights. Apparently I have a “genetic corneal degeneration” – an inherited disease of the cornea that causes not only the excessive watering, but also the extreme sensitivity to light that I have off and on and other uncomfortable symptoms. Unfortunately, my doc didn’t say which kind I have, and a quick internet search reveals that there are quite a few (though many are very rare, or only appear in children, so I can pretty much rule those out, I think).  In any case, while it will probably cycle through good/bad times, unless it’s one specific type, it’s pretty much assured to just keep getting worse as I age. There’s a good chance I’ll need corneal transplants when I’m older. Joke’s on me for being so blase (I have no idea how to put the accent over the “e” there) about turning 40, eh?

I have another appt. next week to see if the steroid/antibiotic eyedrops the doc prescribed are working (feels like they are – no more watering, and no more soreness/pressure – yay!), and probably to get a new lens prescription because eyes that aren’t inflamed see differently, of course.

You know how life tends to force you to confront your worst fears at some point in time, whether you want to or not? Well, aside from general anesthesia, the thing that scares me most in life is losing my eyesight. I love to read. I enjoy my coding/web job. I love watching squirrels chase each other around our roof, and flowers in the garden, and big trees and beautiful houses. I love art – paintings and sculptures. I love a sunny spring day, fall leaves, and blankets of snow. Love those first roses of summer…

Technology these days is such that a blind or very low-vision person can get along far better than they used to, and I’m quite sure I could adapt, if necessary. But I don’t want to. Hopefully, I won’t have to, but of course my mind always jumps to the worse possible outcome. Luckily, rather than getting too mopey or depressed, I start planning for what might happen, in hopes that it won’t. Thwarting the universe, so to speak. Unfortunately, that’s distracted me a lot for the past week, but it’ll calm down, especially when I have more information on what the exact disease I have is, and can gather more information about what happens next.

And just like that, another book idea is born…

Last but not least…almond milk. Clearly I’ve been watching far too many vegan cooking shows on our local PBS Create channel, because while doing my grocery shopping for the week, I picked up a half-gallon of Almond Milk to try. Unsweetened.

It sucks.

Sugar, anyone?


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On Leather, SNL, & Innocent Attraction…

Happy Monday/President’s Day! Happy because due to the fact it’s a federal holiday, I’m off work and at home. A very good thing, considering how far behind I am on my writing schedule. I’m hoping to get a lot of words written today…

This past Saturday (Valentine’s Day, though I’m not big on celebrating Hallmark holidays), hubby and I took advantage of a special dinner deal one of our local wine shops was having. A four course dinner with four wines/drinks to match by a local chef. Hubby and I both agreed that the salad and main courses were the best (and neither of us cared much for the cold potato soup – though it was a rather pretty purple color), and interestingly enough, the first and third drinks were also the best (though I think I liked the third wine better than he did). The first was a Spicy Beet Cider to go with a beet and walnut salad. That cider was absolutely stunning, and reminded me of the stock art photo I found for a book my horror alter-ego will be writing later this year. I think I might actually incorporate the flavors and textures into that book, somehow. It really was stellar.

The wine that was served with the main course (beef & mushroom pasta) was Cascina Ca’Rossa Langhe Nebbiolo 2010, and I was utterly fascinated and intrigued by it. It tasted and smelled of leather and smoke, which sounds weird, I know, but from the very first sip it reminded me of an old study or library, with a fire roaring in a big stone fireplace, the walls lined with built-in bookshelves filled with old leather-bound tomes, and big wing-back chairs where one might sit and read and smoke a cigar, if that’s your thing (not mine, but that’s the general environment). The color was even reminiscent of leather, clear dark burgundy-brown that flashed lighter as it swirled in the glass.

It wasn’t just another wine, it was a sensory experience, and I really must find a bottle of that to have for my very own. Or two, perhaps – one to drink, and one to just admire and remember…

Interestingly, my husband bought new leather shoes earlier that day as well. When I came home from grocery shopping on Sunday morning, I smelled the new leather, and immediately thought of that wine. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Sunday night, I watched the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special. That show is as old as I am, and I’ve seen a lot of it. When I really was old enough to start watching it in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I remember so many people complaining about how bad it had gotten. And I watched old episodes, and I watched new episodes, and some I liked, and some I didn’t, and there were years when I didn’t watch at all and then I’d pick it back up again…but it’s always been there, part of the soundtrack of my life, as it were. Isn’t it odd how one TV show can be so ever-present, and watching the clips last night made me realize just how big of an impact it’s had on society as well as my own perspective on things. So many catch-phrases and things that have become all pervasive, and some I didn’t even realize had come from SNL in the beginning…

You’d think watching something like that would make me feel old, especially seeing some of the older actors now, but it really didn’t. It was just a really pleasant trip down memory lane, both personally, and in a cultural sense too.

Which brings us to today, and the draft I’m working on at the moment. I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a kid’s novel for a brand new small press, and I’m pretty sure I mentioned my misgivings about it too. It really gave me some serious cognitive dissonance at the start, because it’s so far out of the realm I normally like to work in that I felt very…constrained in what I could and couldn’t do with it. But I kept forging ahead, largely because I’d committed to finishing it, and as I’ve pressed on, a few things have really started to make this a much more enjoyable endeavor.

The first was the happy coincidence that one of the TV stations decided to play the Harry Potter movies over the last few weeks. I’ve watched a couple now (re-watched, I guess), and while my plot and characters aren’t even remotely similar to the Potter series, I’ve really gained a lot of insight into character development as it pertains to children through those stories. I don’t have kids, and haven’t worked around them in nearly 20 years, so that helped a lot just to see how someone else did it, and to realize where I was going wrong in terms of “kid culture” (because even as a child, I never really was one, if that makes sense – I’ve never identified with my own age group, and also never been part of the “crowd”, so to speak). Once I figured that out, my storyline started working a lot better.

And the second happy coincidence was the Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day Special on TV. We only watched a little bit of it, but it reminded me that there’s a very innocent side of romance that kids experience even when they’re young (not *that* young…my heroine is 11), and while I’d thought about that, I was afraid to really “go there” with my young cast of characters. But Charlie Brown and the Little Red-Haired Girl and Peppermint Patty and Lucy and Linus and the whole gang reminded me of that sweeter, innocent side of attraction, and just how completely adorable it is, and I went ahead and took my young characters there. Not only does it work, it’s going to really set up the next few stories in the series, as my characters grow together. And since romance is a predominant part of what I write in my other genres (it even has a place in my horror…attraction is all pervasive in human society, and I find it fascinating no matter what light you put it in), I suddenly felt more comfortable with my “kid lit”, and the story just started to take off after that.

This is part of why I write…to explore new perspectives on life, to see how others view the world, and to explore the various decisions that might be made, and how they affect us as we see them through.

With that said, I’m going to post this, grab another cup of tea and a snack, and see where my characters will take me today…


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New Release & Excerpt: Flame & Stone

Today I’m excited to (finally) announce the release of my first paranormal romantic suspense, Flame & Stone, Book 1 in the new Dunning Manor series.

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Flame & Stone
Dunning Manor, Book 1

It takes a lot of heat to melt a heart of stone…

Flames once put the heartbroken Thomas Grady under the ancient curse of an old manor house. Two hundred years later, fire fueled by an unholy passion drives Katie Watson to the same manor for protection. Assigned as her guardian under duress, Thomas just wants to do his job and go back to his perch at the top of the manor.

Katie falls hard for her new protector, even as they’re planning an intervention for her nemesis. Now that she’s found him, she refuses to give him up – even if that means she has to travel through both time and space to make it happen…

Flame & Stone is available now in ebook format for $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance, and Smashwords, and will be available at other online retailers within the week. The print copy will be out within the next month!


Excerpt:

For a long moment, the hall was deathly quiet. Katie glanced at her friends, still apparently stuck in some trance, and then back to the monks, those glassy black eyes staring right through her, or so it seemed. They didn’t move a muscle, and she frowned, wondering if they were even still alive.

Finally, they stood in unison, the action forcing her to take a step back. They began to walk in a circle around her, kicking up a slight breeze that gradually grew in substance, though apparently only within the circle they’d created.

“Katherine Watson. Your enemy has been vanquished, and the warrior returned to the manor, but for bringing your enemy here rather than taking your warrior’s council, you will not be allowed to break the curse. As per the requirements for aide from the manor, you are hereby banished, and are never to return again.”

“Wait! No!” The wind swirled around her like a miniature cyclone now, and she tried to push through it, tried to get to Thomas, but it flung her back every time.

“You can’t do this! You can’t keep us apart! It’s not fair!”

The wind turned to a cloud, the cloud dark and angry around her, and tears slid down her cheeks as she felt herself lifted off the ground.

“No!” she screamed into her swirling cocoon. “I’ll find you, Thomas – I swear! I won’t give up!”

The cloud disappeared in a puff and she dropped to the ground, hitting hard and collapsing from the impact. Stunned, she rolled to her back and saw stars – real stars in the vast, navy blue night sky above. Crickets and frogs chirped in tandem as her fingers curled around dirt and grass. She sat up, looking this way and that, but though she was sure this was the right clearing, there was no sign of the manor anywhere.

“No,” she murmured, swiping at the tears on her face. “They can’t do this. I won’t let them.” She didn’t want to leave, but there wasn’t anything else she could do here, and she was pretty sure those damn druids wouldn’t be coming back.

After one last long look, she ran back to the car and slid behind the wheel. Locking the doors, she just sat there, stunned and shaking. She went over everything that happened, image after unbelievable image flashing through her mind. The manor was gone. Thomas was gone. Peter was dead, and Sarah was…a gargoyle now? It all felt like a dream, something her mind had made up while she was sleeping, and just like that, it was gone. Had it all just been a strange fantasy? Was she going crazy?

No. Even if everything else was fake, Thomas was real. She knew it as surely as she knew her own name, and when she closed her eyes, she could feel him next to her, holding her, hear his deep, gentle voice in her ear.

She had to find him. She would not give him up.

She started the car and peeled off the gravel shoulder and onto the pavement, only slowing when a local cop flashed his lights at her on his way to somewhere else.

She needed help. Someone who had seen the manor, who knew the legend, and someone who knew about druid magic, whatever that was. She had no idea where to find such a person, but the internet seemed like a good place to start, and there was no time to waste.

Frantic to find him by the time she reached her house, she ran inside and grabbed a pen, a notepad, and a couple sodas from the refrigerator before heading to her computer desk. Her fingers flew across the keyboard as she entered the first search terms and started scrolling through results.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the final version! Up next in the Dunning Manor series – Sarah’s story, coming later this year…

 

 

Talkin’ Books: January 28, 2015

Books Finished:
Best Man For Hire by Tawna Fenske
Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace

Kindle Books In Progress:
The Indie Author Power Pack 

Print Books in Progress:
White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Comic Books:
None

Another quick update as I’m knee-deep in revisions and formatting to get the latest book out by Friday and still get some new words written for drafts in progress as well…

Look at that – I finished two books this week! Good stuff, I tell you what.

Invasive Species is one of those books where you just keep thinking that the situation *has* to get better, and it just keeps getting worse instead. It’s both fascinating and horrifying, but ends on a hopeful note as well, though a different one than you might think. If you like suspense, it’s definitely worth the time & money, in my opinion.

Best Man For Hire was good, but as I mentioned last week, I just really haven’t been in much of a romance-reading mood lately. I go through cycles, and apparently I need something else for awhile. This book definitely has it’s moments, and it’s hilarious in spots (all Tawna’s books are), so I’d certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a rollicking good time.

I also made some progress with Write, Publish, Repeat from the Indie Author Power Pack. I found a few more nuggets of wisdom regarding blurbs that I think might help quite a bit, and a couple interesting tidbits on titles as well. I’m skimming a lot of the pricing/distribution parts, because I’m content with the way I handle those already, so we’ll see what comes up next…

And I also started White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child in paperback this week. I haven’t gotten too far into it, but I already know it’s going to be good…partly because they always are, and partly because my husband loved it. Good enough for me!

That’s it for this week…hopefully next week I can get back into my comic book stack. Harley’s getting lonely!


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