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Serial Story: Don’t Look Away, Ch. 28

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!

 


Don’t Look Away
Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1

Chapter 28

“I’m just a friend,” she said, instictively showing her hands and trying to ignore her racing pulse. “Dillon was kind enough to let me have his guest room for a few nights.” Pasting a smile on her face, she extended her right hand just a little. “It’s nice to finally meet you – he’s told me so much about you.”

It was clear from the widening of the woman’s eyes that she was taken off guard by that, but she didn’t take Shelley’s hand.

“I don’t believe you,” she said, her eyes narrowing again. “Dillon’s a man, and men don’t just let women stay in their houses without wanting something more. I don’t blame him – men need what they need and I’ve been away working. But I’m here now, so you’re going to have to leave.”

Shelley nodded. “I can do that.” She took a step toward the short hall that led to the front door. “I’ll just be on my way then.” If she could get out of the house, she could run to the administration office and find Dillon before this woman did.

“Don’t you want to get your things?” The woman’s eyes darted toward the other hall – the one leading to the bedrooms, and Shelley knew she must have come in the back door and passed the open guest bedroom on her way to the kitchen. She didn’t want to waste time – she just wanted to go get Dillon, but she had to make this convincing, so she nodded.

“Of course – silly me. Let me just get my bag and I’ll get out of your way.” She moved toward the other hall, slowly. “Have you seen Dillon yet?”

“None of your business. Hurry up.”

Shelley hadn’t seen a weapon yet, but she didn’t feel comfortable turning her back all the same, so she sort of side-stepped down the hall. The other woman definitely gave off an unstable energy, and Shelley just wanted to get the hell away from her. She could see why Dillon was so paranoid.

“That’s a gnarly scar on your face,” the woman commented as Shelley went into the guest room and hastily threw stuff in her bag. “Where’d you get it?”

Shelley considered giving her the same reply she’d used just a minute earlier, but considering things were still reasonably amicable, she decided against it.

“There was an accident when I was a child.” She didn’t offer more, just zipped up her bag and turned to find Dillon’s stalker blocking the doorway. “I’ll just let myself out now. Congratulations on your engagement.” She tried to make it sound sincere, but the other woman didn’t look like she bought it. Not that it mattered, as long as Shelley could make it out of the cabin.

Moving aside, the woman nodded her head. “Thank you.”

It was a tense walk to the front door, and Shelley pulled it open, hoping she could find Dillon quickly.

“One more thing,” the woman said from behind her. Shelley turned and raised her eyebrows, waiting. “What’s my name?”
Shelley frowned. “I don’t think you ever told me– ”

“No, I didn’t. But you said Dillon talked about me all the time so surely he mentioned my name at least once. What is it?”
Shelley shook her head. “He didn’t say your name, I swear. I’m sorry, but that’s something you’ll have to take up with him. I’m sure he’ll be back soon.”

She has no weapon, Shelley reminded herself. Just go. She walked through the doorway and pulled the door shut behind her, even though she thought she heard the other woman speaking again. Striding purposefully down the trail away from the cabin, she didn’t stop, even when she heard the door open behind her, and the woman’s voice following. She had to warn Dillon, and as soon as she knew she was out of sight from the cabin, she started to run.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 29!

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Serial Story: Don’t Look Away, Ch. 25

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!

*Note: Sections denoted with an asterisk are new details that will eventually be added to the earlier parts of the book as well. 


Don’t Look Away
Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1

Chapter 25

A frenzied feathered chorus and the smell of breakfast sausage woke Shelley from a deep sleep. Confused, she shifted on the bed, her pillow too soft and the blankets heavier than her own. She blinked a few times, staring at the ceiling and thinking back to the last thing she remembered.

Falling asleep in Dillon’s truck.

She thought she had the vague impression of being carried into the cabin, but that couldn’t be right. She must have woken up enough to walk inside and take off her shoes. Checking under the blanket, it looked like she’d had enough energy to shuck her jeans too. It was light outside, and she wondered how long she’d been sleeping.

The clock radio beside the bed said six-twenty in the morning, but that couldn’t be right. They’d left the hospital just after sunrise. She couldn’t possibly have slept nearly twenty-four hours.

Tossing the covers back, she sat up on the edge of the bed and rubbed her face. Those birds outside sure were chipper. And loud. Breathing in deep, she inhaled more of that wonderful sausage scent. Her stomach rumbled. No matter what the clock said, it was time for breakfast, apparently.

Standing, she looked around the room and found her jeans on a chair by the door with her travel bag. She pulled the jeans on and rummaged through her bag for a clean shirt and socks. Pulling her hair back into a neat ponytail at the base of her neck for now, she opened the door and padded down the hall to Dillon’s kitchen.

“Wow.” The word sort of slipped out when she saw the spread on the table. A plate piled high with pancakes sat by a whole pan of sausage and a big bowl of cut-up fruits. Buttered toast, two different syrup containers and a pitcher of orange juice completed the meal. Dillon was at the counter pouring two cups of coffee with his back to her, but he turned when she spoke, and it was all she could do not to crack up laughing at his bright red apron sprinkled liberally with rubber ducks all decked out in different little outfits. with his bare chest and jeans underneath, ti a She grinned.

“Nice apron.”

He looked down, and then back at her with a wink and a smile. “Thanks. It’s my chick-magnet. Get it? Chicks? ”

Shelley groaned and rolled her eyes. “Seriously – that is so bad. And those are ducks, technically. Does it work?”

“That’s up to you. Want to kiss the cook, pretty lady?” He sidled closer and wiggled his eyebrows, turning his head to present his cheek and tap it with one finger. Shelley laughed and leaned in to press a soft kiss just there but he turned his head at the last second and her lips met his instead.

Tentative and gentle, his mouth moved against hers, and she ignored the niggling feeling that she shouldn’t be doing this as his hands slid around her waist and pulled her closer, hugging her tight as he placed tiny kisses down the side of her jaw and neck.
Then he just hugged her close, and she turned her face into his chest and breathed in the warm, comforting scent of him. When he pulled back enough to look at her, she didn’t want to let go.

“You looked like you needed a hug.” He smiled, caressing the side of her face with one hand. “Now let’s eat, before all this food gets cold, and then we’ll talk, okay?”

Shelley nodded, reluctantly letting go of his shoulders. Talking. His revelation from the day before came flooding back, and a sick sense of dread settled in her stomach as she sat down, suddenly not hungry.

“I think we should talk now. Why did you do that background check on me?”


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 26!

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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):

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– 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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On Love, Learning, & Motley Crue…

Quick admin note: Variety News for January goes out this morning, and should be delivered depending on your time zone (which was a gadgety feature I couldn’t ignore). As a reminder, if you want serial fiction from me this year, that’s the only way to get it, but you can catch up anytime you sign up with a handy-dandy PDF file. So…if you’re not on the list, sign up here. This is *not* the same list as the blog subscription. 

Saturday late-nights are manicure nights for me. After the hubby’s in bed and the dogs have been out and in just one more time, my writing booth becomes a manicure table, and while I’m doing my nails, I either watch old TV series (streaming or DVD), or I catch up on the most recent episodes of my favorite CW shows online (ArrowThe Flash & The 100). The CW shows were back this past week, which made me crazy happy, but I got both seasons of Dark Angel for Christmas, so while those shows were on hiatus, I was happy as a clam re-watching Max and Logan (Michael Weatherly…good grief, that man is yummy in any role, and his voice, those eyes…*swoon*).

ANYways…without giving up spoilers, this past week’s episode of The 100 explored the theme that “love is weakness”. And if you’ve seen Dark Angel, you know that’s a central theme of that entire show as well…though it’s wider than love there…more like “connection/community” is weakness. I was thinking about that last night, about love specifically and whether it really was a weakness or not. An argument could be made for both sides, I think…love makes us dumb more often than not, and we’re willing to take all sorts of risks we normally wouldn’t when it’s either to support or protect someone we love. It’s also the ultimate distraction – when you love someone, they’re always on your mind in some capacity, and they tend to come to mind at the most inopportune times.

At the same time, just being around someone we love can make us calmer, and give us pleasant feelings even if we’re in a bad mood (brain chemistry is an amazing thing, isn’t it?). Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps us going in extreme circumstances…whether we’re protecting the ones we love, trying to get back to them or just trying to recover from a personal tragedy of some sort. Often it’s the reason we fight instead of stand down.

In The 100 and Dark Angel, the heroines struggling with whether love is a weakness or not make different choices (or they have so far). And I predict that the final consequences will actually be quite similar for them both, but with something like this, it’s not really about how it ends. It’s about how life is lived in the moment that matters. Or moment to moment, rather. Personally, I think choosing love over solitude requires/develops the stronger fortitude, even if it does turn out to be the ultimate weakness in the end.

In other news, I got the edits and editorial comments back for Flame & Stone (formerly Under His Wing) this weekend, and I have to say, my editor’s comments just really turned on that proverbial lightbulb over my head this time. Total “duh” moment, but she saw what I couldn’t (that is what she’s there for), and apparently I asked exactly the right questions to cue her to give me exactly what I needed. I love it when that happens! It was really enlightening as far as my writing as a whole goes, and while I’m not excited to actually do the edits (because that’s work), I am really excited as to how it’s going to affect my work going forward (I hope).

Pair that with a few tough realizations I had while re-visiting my writing & business week for The Writer’s Desk, and man…it’s been a pretty mentally challenging week, but in a good way. I’ll never learn all I need to know about…anything, but sometimes just figuring out what to focus on learning first is the hardest part. It’s kind of a relief to have something concrete to focus on for awhile.

What does Motley Crue have to do with all of this? Absolutely nothing…except I’m pretty disappointed that I underestimated the demand for tickets to their final concert tour with Alice Cooper (also a favorite) this coming July. There are no good seats left, so hubby and I are out of luck, dang it. Not that we don’t have plenty of other ways to blow a couple hundred bucks, but still. It’s gonna be a great concert… *sigh*

In any case, we all need a little kickstart on a Monday, right? Motley Crue to the rescue!


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