Archive for December, 2011

Inspiration For Asylum I: Shadows Wait

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Perhaps some of you are wondering why and how I came up with the idea of writing a trilogy that takes place in an Asylum.

It was pretty much by chance.

I was watching a television special about an old asylum, featuring a little girl who was presumed to have been born in this asylum. The little girl became a ghost, or so they claimed.

Eureka.

The idea for a new trilogy burst into creative life. One never knows how an idea for a novel will form.

My inspiration didn’t stop there. What would happen if that little girl grew up in the asylum? What natural and supernatural forces would influence how her personality formed? And how would she have a normal life if the asylum she lived in, among the insane, was also haunted by evil doers both living and dead? What if the heroine is haunted by the little girl she once killed in a horrible accident?

Never fear, this story isn’t all doom and gloom. Living with this character in my head, I knew this young girl would grow up to be a strong, amazing woman despite disadvantages. I also knew there would be a man out there for her—her hero.

What if he was the very privileged son of the man who runs the insane asylum? What if that son doesn’t believe in things-that-go-bump-in-the-night the way the heroine does?

Possibilities for conflict? You bet.

That’s my tidbit today into Shadows Wait. Soon I’ll give you a snippet of my idea behind the second book in the trilogy, Shadows Rise.

 

Rollin’ With It

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Flexibility is the word of the day.

This weekend we thought we’d be with family for Christmas in Texas. Road got closed part of the way there because of bad weather. We had to resign ourselves to either sitting in the car for hours as the newly reopened road cleared of a bazillion cars or decide to go home. We picked going home. Considering we had nasty colds anyway, it probably turned out to be a good idea heath wise. We’ll get to see the kids in January. We had a relaxing holiday at home, chilled and nursing the colds.

This morning I woke up expecting to take my dog to camp bow wow where he has a fantastic time playing with other dogs for the whole day. That way his Mum…me…can get even more work done. Didn’t happen. One of our cars didn’t start, and the hubby had to take the other car to work. So I got to call AAA to have them tow it to our mechanics. Mechanics aren’t there today because they’re still on vacation, but their reliable and mega friendly coordinator/assistant, whatever her position is…she’s there, and I know she’ll get the car taken care of first thing in the morning. That also meant I had to walk the dog right after all that because if he doesn’t get his exercise, he turns a little spastic.  The day isn’t going to be what I expected, but I don’t need to make drama, roll in it, kick and scream and lament. Not that anyone has seen me kick and scream like that.  But the type of tantrum we can have in our own head is bad enough.

Flexibility, and refusing to allow myself to stress out when change comes is one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my life. It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn, and sometimes I have to relearn it. I’ll admit it doesn’t always stick, but I’m getting better at recognizing when I’m allowing myself to freak.

For the last several weeks I’ve returned to a schedule where I meditate every morning. Man does that make a difference in my mental and physical state. The other half is that I decide not to think a certain way. Yep, that’s right. The more stressed or freaked I get, the more happens to get freaked about. The more negativity piles on. The more I refuse to plug into negativity, the more likely the bad crud disappears or lessens considerably.

This is one reason, among many, I wouldn’t be a good reality television star. I simply couldn’t dredge up the drama (unless I was acting.)

Moral of the story…I’ll take a cup of meditation and relaxation, please.

So how do you unplug from stress?

 

 

Sneak Peak: Asylum Trilogy and Shadows Wait

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Good day all! Hope the holiday season isn’t frazzling you. I just posted an excerpt over at my Tumblr blog and wanted to make sure anyone who follows this blog has a chance to read the same excerpt. This unedited sneak peek is from the first book in my Asylum Trilogy which comes out next year.

* *

Some places are born evil. They are ugly from conception, drawn from the wildness of the land where no human should reside. Or perhaps they are haunted by what was, what exists in the dimension between this world and the next.

No one really knows. And maybe they are better off not knowing.

Tranquil View Asylum, built in January 1888, may have sprouted from the impurity existing in that year. Those with a sense of humor say 1888 was bad because it was a leap year. Many talk in hushed whispers about several events that stained the year and perhaps grew the malady that stalked Tranquil View Asylum.

Remnants of Krakatoa’s volcanic eruption in 1883 painted blood red skies over the world.

Two major blizzards caused death.

Jack the Ripper started his reign of terror.

Vincent van Gogh cut off the lower part of his own left ear.

Who can say what strangeness may have created the abomination at the top of the hill that looks down on Simple, Colorado.

Whatever brought forward the disturbances that would occur at Tranquil View and in Simple, Colorado, one can debate that twenty years of pain, death, torture, and anguish within the asylum walls sealed its fate. For this building oozed with the stench of past misdeeds, and erasing the smell wouldn’t be quick or easy.

As Lilly Luna and Morgan Healy soon discovered.

* *

Tranquil View Asylum

Simple, Colorado

West of Denver

October 1908

Lilly turned off the gas lamp in her room, opened the door and peeked outside into the solid darkness. She curled her toes in her kid slippers, feeling the cold that seeped even through the carpet. Everything within these walls was icy, like the breath of a glacier. If the devil lived here, as so many claimed, he hadn’t seen fit to bring the fires of hell to warm his abode.

Even the forced hot air pouring into her room hadn’t warmed her tonight. She listened to midnight as it whispered around the third floor. Lilly’s room stood at the very back of the eighth ward, the single window in her room facing the west and the huge mountain beyond. Nothing moved in the night—at least nothing alive. She smiled. Nothing alive or dead prowled, and that pleased her. She wanted peace and quiet. She left her room, closed the door, and stood absorbing her surroundings. As she waited in the center of the stygian blackness, she gloried in seeing so well in the dark when others required light. But lights weren’t allowed after nine in the evening.

Even here, tucked away in a single-loaded hallway, she could hear patients in their rooms. Some of them had nightmares and would shriek, disturbing her peaceful sleep. An attendant or nurse would come to the patient’s aid, and that meant more delay for Lilly. She couldn’t sneak into the hallway if any of the staff lurked there. So it had been this evening. She waited, not yet ready to slip past the other two rooms before she entered the wide main hallway.

The moon burst through clouds and threw silver slices through the tall, window to the left of her room. Like daggers the light spilled sharply across the dull blue carpet. Somewhere a woman cried, or at least Lilly thought the pitch seemed right. She listened. The strange sound grew, harsh and high like the mating call of a fox. She closed her eyes and braced herself to block out the sounds underlying insanity. Those hideous and disturbing utterances she should be used to after twenty years. This was her home. A wicked, horrible and beautiful abode, but her home all the same. Fear couldn’t invade here, at least not when she remembered she belonged to this place. Evil inside the asylum couldn’t be worse than anything inside her. So they’d told her so many times before.

Born here, must be a lunatic. Would prove a madwoman anywhere.

She’d heard children chanting the song often enough outside the asylum. Young people who shouldn’t be anywhere near the gates of such a monster-laden building. Until someone chased them away, of course. Usually that was a gate guard, paid his pitiful wage to keep the patients in and the curious out.

What did she care if others believed she was like all the rest in here? A nutter. So the English Watchwoman called her. Mrs. Angel. Patients didn’t know her first name. Everyone who wondered was afraid to ask. Lilly thought her name odd and ironic, because if there was anything the woman wasn’t…it was an angel.

**

Over the next few months I’ll post sneak peaks from Shadows Wait, Shadows Rise and Shadows Fall.

 

 

Excerpt: All I Want For Christmas

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Hey there all, I have a new excerpt from All I Want For Christmas for your reading pleasure. Hope you enjoy it! If you like it, you can pick up your copy at Amazon and at Smashwords.

**

Shortly after, Nick followed her upstairs to retrieve decorations she’d stored in her guest bedroom. Abby felt almost as if she had let him into a private section of her psyche. Not many people had seen the inside of her house. Only Becca, and maybe one or two others. As her sanctuary, her home provided a place where she could retreat after a hectic day and enjoy the privacy and quiet. To allow someone to observe that sanctum felt almost blasphemous. It was an odd sentiment, perhaps even a silly one.

Silly. Her aunt’s voice echoed in her ears again, like a haunting.

Abby shoved the word away. Why was she afraid?

The same thing she always dreaded. Disapproval.

Resolutely she opened the guest bedroom. She hadn’t decorated this room. She’d affectionately designated the space as ‘the closet from hell.’

“Excuse the mess,” she said, leaning down to get the box that held the garland and mistletoe. She handed it to him.

Nick grunted. “What have you got in here?”
“It’s not that heavy.”

“Want to bet? What’s in it? An entire Christmas tree?”

“Listen smarty pants, it’s only garland and mistletoe.”

That wide, captivating grin turned on full force. “Mistletoe? Does that mean you have plans for some poor, unsuspecting man¾”

Abby piled another box on top of the two he already held. “No wise remarks from the Peanut gallery.”

“Damn. I was hoping…”

When he trailed off, she turned to him. “Hoping what?”

“You. Me. Under the mistletoe,” he said huskily.

Clear. Without elaboration. It was stunningly simple, and wildly erotic. Arousal stirred her stomach.

She stared at him and let the stimulation roll through her. “You’ll have to catch me standing under it first.” Abby grabbed the box that held the miniature village she wanted to erect in the living room. “Forward march soldier.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

After two trips downstairs, arms laden with boxes, she showed Nick where to string the garland and mistletoe. The pizza arrived shortly after.

She turned on some Christmas music, lit two red and green pillar candles, and they went to work. Abby hummed along with the music, garnering amused glances from Nick as he attempted to attach the garland, festooned with red bows, on the banister. Soon she discovered that Nick was, despite his many talents, a horrible decorator.

Sighing dramatically, she crossed her arms. “I thought you said your parents decorated for Christmas?”

“They did. They still do.” He attempted to lace garland around pictures on her fireplace mantle and almost knocked off a pewter candlestick. He caught it gracefully.

“Watch it, buster.”

“Whatever you say, Martha Stewart.” Carefully he put the candlestick back on the mantle.

A tsk came from her throat. “Be nice or I’ll have to bash you with that candlestick.”

Crumpling his face into a sinister mask, Nick said, “No, it was Mr. Peacock who bludgeoned Mr. Mustard with the wrench.”

“Mrs. Peacock.”

“What?”

“Mrs. Peacock. There is no Mr. Peacock.”

“Humph. I can see why.” He laughed. “Is this to get me back for every time I’ve teased you in the last few days?”

“Absolutely.”

He stopped decorating and scrutinized her. “You don’t like it when I tease you, do you?” When she didn’t reply he asked, “Abby?”

She looked up from the miniature village set she’d arranged on a table near a wall. “I don’t mind it. I know you’re teasing.”

“But you don’t act as if you know it. Most of the time I get dirty looks or blank looks¾”

“Teasing isn’t always funny.” Abby turned toward him. “I used to know this kid in high school who liked to torment other children by teasing them unmercifully. It started out funny and turned old real fast.”

“I didn’t mean it to be like that.” Nick moved away the mantle and stood next to her.

“I know.”

Having him close upset her equilibrium. Did she want this type of attention from him? Having Nick over for dinner shouldn’t have been a big deal. Unfortunately everything about him intrigued her in ways she didn’t want to acknowledge. Every moment she spent with him, she needed another sampling of his humor, and the warmth in his regard.

Too often she thought of how his arms felt around her, how crazy that kiss in the snow had made her feel. But to get involved with Nick translated to lunacy. Nick planned to stay for the short term, for one ride in the Ferris wheel. He’d go back to his old lifestyle and forget her.

After an aching silence Nick fingered the top of a ceramic house. “I think my mother would love you.”

“Why?”

“She has a set like this. And we’ve always had two trees in the house. One in the living room, one in the basement.”

“I’ve got one put together in my bedroom.”

“Wish I could have helped you with that one.” He gazed down on her with a flourishing interest.

How was it that this man could take an innocent string of words and lace it with a multitude of meanings?

“See if I ask you to decorate my house again,” Abby said, a little hitch of breathlessness in her throat.

“I won’t be here next year.”

She didn’t want to think about that. “Just wait until I decorate your apartment. You’ll wish you’d been nice to me.”

“Oh, no you don’t. My apartment is staying sterile.”

Abby snatched up a piece of pizza and settled down next to the coffee table. “I don’t understand how you can celebrate Christmas like that.”

He turned back to the mantle and nestled another gold ornament among the greenery. “Christmas isn’t the trees or the ornaments, or the crazy shopping in the mall. It’s a time of giving.” He turned and his gaze heated. “For love.”

“Love?” Abby’s heart did an unsettled thump.

“Friends and family expressing their love for each other isn’t something they should reserve just for Christmas.”

“Of course not.”

“Yet a lot of people who don’t even care for each other pretend feelings at Christmas because it’s the thing to do. All in the name of tradition.”

What he said made sense, but that didn’t make her feel better. The idea of abandoning the Christmas she wanted so much wasn’t love either. She’d planned a wild, decorated Christmas and didn’t wish to change her ideas, no matter how silly or trite it appeared. This was hers. With difficulty Abby kept her voice steady as she put down her pizza.

“Some people pretend love for the sake of impressions. But I’m not one of them. I don’t have to worry about giving love to a family because I don’t really have one.”

By the startled look on his face, she knew she’d shocked him.

 

 

 

 

Poll: All Three Books At Once?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Morning everyone.

I have a question for you, and I’d love feedback please. Next year I’m releasing my paranormal trilogy (dates to be announced), and one possibility is that all three books would be released at the same time. As a reader, would you pick up all three books at one time, or would you prefer a bit of spacing between each book…say four weeks or less?

Contest: Ask The Author Day

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Howdy all,

Today I’m holding a simple little contest! Ask me any question relating to writing and at the end of the evening I’ll pick one of the questions as the winner. But I’ll reply to all the questions I’m asked. 🙂 The winner will receive a free ebook.

Ready, set go!

Ask Yourself This: Why Am I Writing?

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Hey there all,

It’s the crazy season when things can get hectic. Hey, I don’t have the tree up yet or most of my Christmas cards out. But I’ve decided that’s okay. I was thinking about writing (big surprise there) and had thoughts related to the current state of the publishing industry.

The last couple of years have created quite an upheaval in the publishing industry. As an author who has been in the epublishing side of the business since 1999, I’ve taken the slings and arrows that go along with it. As a result, some of that upheaval hasn’t hit me as hard. But, that doesn’t mean I have nothing to learn, or that I haven’t had to roll with many punches over the years. I’ve changed directions, done my share of whining to my writing buddies and friends. Foremost, I’ve learned valuable lessons about what I need to do to keep myself happy. ‘Cause if I ain’t happy, I don’t get much written.

Many authors are sensitive people with artist souls. As a result, the publishing industry can take huge strips of hide off of us as we go along. I think the longer you’re in the industry the easier it can get to roll with the punches when they fly at you. Doesn’t mean some of those punches aren’t going to hurt like hell, make you mad, make you roll your eyes and maybe even murmur under your breath…WTF? Over the many years I’ve been writing (started when I was fourteen). I’ve discovered there’s this little test that comes along every once in a while. The test you say? Well, it is where someone comes along and challenges my determination to continue writing. Yes, I believe I’m a writer through and through. It is my calling. What I’m supposed to do. So if its what I’m supposed to do and love doing, why would I want anyone else to tell me how best to do it? At the core I have to understand what makes me tick. What drives me to create.

The biggest thing I’ve learned about the publishing world is that you have to be certain of what you want to write and why. And, once you’ve discovered that, make sure it is honestly what you want to write and not what other people tell you is the correct thing to write. If you wish to write romance, write it. Who cares what anyone else says or thinks about it? It is yours…your decision. Your creativity. Your desire. The worst decisions I’ve ever made in writing related to writing something other than what I truly, truly desired.

Second to that is the realization that one size does not fit all. No matter what writing advice you receive on a blog (mine included), that advice may or may not fit your goals, your dreams. So what is your goal? What do you want out of this writing career? You. Not anyone else. You.

Now go forward and enjoy that dream. Because it is your dream. May you find the peace that comes with that discovery.

 

Excerpt 2: All I Want For Christmas

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Happy Thursday all!

Today I’ve got another excerpt for you on my holiday contemporary romance, All I Want For Christmas which is available at Amazon and Smashwords. Enjoy!

As Abby looked at the rotunda that morning, the glitter of Christmas came back in force. Sweet strains of O Holy Night! came over the mall speaker system, and unlike last night, the sparkle on the reindeer and the lights on the tree heralded a cheerful season. The stuffed Santa’s plastic grin showed no signs of sinister intentions.

She shivered. Thinking about the creepy encounter with the mysterious man last night made her look around, half expecting him to appear.

Abby glanced at her watch and wondered if Nick would be late this morning. There were no kids lined up, but give them time. The closer to Christmas, the more children would arrive at the mall to visit Santa.

As she stood by Santa’s throne twenty minutes to opening time, Abby’s mind swirled with ideas. Despite the lack of sleep that made her eyes gritty, she itched to start her decorating ideas. She also wanted to see if Santa’s charm would confound her as easily today as it had yesterday. Surely it was an anomaly. Now that Abby knew Santa had a penchant for wiseacre remarks, she guessed that his effect on her would dissipate.

“Morning,” a deep voice said close to her ear.

She whirled and stepped smack into Nick’s arms.

“Whoa, Pixie. You going somewhere?”

She’d never believed in the old adage about time standing still. In that moment she discovered the truth. His hands clasped her shoulders gently, and her body just touched his pillow-stuffed paunch, but his proximity took her breath and held it suspended.

Nick smelled delicious. Something spicy, musky and masculine. The brilliance in his gaze warmed her, the curve of his lips rakish and amused. And he was so damned tall. At five ten she saw eye to eye with most men, but with Nick she had to look up. Abby felt as small as her nickname implied. Tiny. Overwhelmed.

As his fingers caressed her shoulders, their heat translated to pleasant shivers in her body. She stepped away and looked around to see if anyone noticed. She could see the mall newsletter now.

Abby kisses Santa Claus.  Elf does the tango with Father Christmas.

“You’re early,” she said.

He grinned again and lumbered to his chair. “I’m always early. Hate to be late.”

Nick sighed as he sank into his throne. He grimaced.

“What’s that look for?” she asked.

“Should have brought a pillow to sit on. Let me tell you, my butt was killing me last night.” He crossed his eyes.

Abby laughed.

A mock frown plastered what she could see of his face. “What’s so funny?”

“I brought a pillow with me this morning. If I sit down in the store today, I know my tailbone is going to appreciate it.”

“Clever lady.” He shifted in the chair and groaned.

“I can get the pillow if you want to use it.”

Suddenly, Nick stood and walked toward her. Abby wanted to back away, but she didn’t want him to think he could intimate her so she didn’t move.

When he was close, he said, “Would you really loan me the pillow?”

“Really.”

Before she could dash off, he said, “Oh, I stopped by the store this morning and Becca took my application. She looked over my resume and said I had a great chance at getting the job.”

She sobered. “Becca and I make those decisions together.”

With that parting shot, Abby dashed to the store to retrieve the pillow. When Abby entered the store, Becca glanced up from the counter in surprise. “What are you doing here?”

“Getting a pillow for Santa’s butt.”

Becca laughed. “What happened? Nick forget his padding?”

“No. He’s sore from sitting in the throne for hours yesterday. Guess it’s sort of like riding a horse.”

“He can’t take the pillow away from his belly and change places?”

Abby sighed and put her hands on her hips. “Becca, have you ever seen a Santa with a small tummy and a big ass?”

Becca nodded. “You’ve never met my Uncle Dranvers.”

Uncle Dranvers.

Uncle Dick. Her uncle had never played Santa for children to make them happy. Thinking about her uncle’s Christmas activities made her stomach roll, then pitch to the side.

No. She wouldn’t…couldn’t think about him now.

As Abby started to leave the store with the pillow, Becca said, “Hey. You aren’t going to let him cover up his wonderful butt with that pillow¾”

“Becca!”

Becca chuckled and leaned on the counter. “You have to admit, Nick Claussen is one hunk.”

“You are incorrigible.” Abby started to turn away, but then she remembered that Nick had given Becca the application and resume. “Can I see Nick’s resume?”

Grabbing a file folder, Becca extracted Nick’s resume and application. Abby scanned the resume. Her mouth dropped open. “You’re kidding.”

Becca leaned forward, as if she could see from that angle. “Amazing, isn’t it? A man with his credentials and his background working as a Santa and a clerk.”

“You’re not planning on hiring him?” Abby glanced at her friend sharply.

“None of the resumes turned in so far stand up to his.”

“He’s way overqualified.”

“Granted, but I think in this case he’s a perfect match. He’s had plenty of experience with inventory, stocking, business practices, organization, typing, computer work…you name it. Maybe he just needs something low pressure.”

When Abby continued to peruse the resume, Becca cleared her throat. “What are you thinking?”

Abby shook her head and handed the resume and application back to Becca. “He’s a bad fit for the job. We can’t have a man like him working in this store.”

“A man like him? Abby¾”

“We shouldn’t hire him.” With that parting shot, Abby walked away.

When she got back to the rotunda, she handed Nick the pillow. He settled into his throne again.

Since no children had appeared yet, she launched into him. “Why didn’t you tell me who you really are?”

His eyebrows drew together. “Who I really am?”

She looked around the rotunda. “Is there an echo in here? I saw your resume.”

Nick held up both hands as if in surrender. “You’re right. I give up. You’ve found me out. My real name is…” He leaned forward. “James Bond.”

* *

You can pick up All I Want For Christmas at Amazon and at Smashwords for only 99 cents!