Archive for November, 2012

Asylum I: Shadows Wait Excerpt

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Hey all, I can’t recall if you ever saw this excerpt of Shadows Wait, the first book in my Asylum Trilogy. So here goes!

Lilly Luna’s mother gave birth to her in an asylum for the mad. Growing up in an insane asylum exposed her to horrors few could imagine, and yet her compassion and ability to heal frightens the broken and the healthy alike. The town fears her. The sane shun her. Morgan Healy’s father runs the creepy and rumor-maligned asylum. Morgan’s lineage is filled with insanity. Morgan holds together his crumbling family, hoping to escape his father’s legacy and the terrible secret it holds. When Lilly is hired as companion for Morgan’s sister, Morgan and Lilly form a reluctant alliance to corral the evil that seeps from Tranquil View and threatens not only the town, but also their growing love.

* *

Someone was screaming. At first Lilly thought it was Patricia, but immediately realized her own raw voice crying out, high-pitched with terrible fear. And the crushing knowledge her dear friend was dead.

A few seconds later, her doorknob rattled and held. “Lilly!” She stayed frozen to the spot. Pounding rattled the door.  “Lilly! Lilly open this door!”

Morgan. She raced to the door without thinking, unlocked it, and flung it open. Bare-chested, barefooted and wearing only trousers, he looked like a wild man. His hair was mussed as if he’d just crawled from bed. His chest heaved up and down.

He stepped into the room, forcing her backward. “What the hell is going on? Are you all right?” She tried to speak, but nothing came out. He reached for her, his eyebrows drawn together in concern. He cupped her shoulders. “Lilly.”

“I have to leave. I have to go to the asylum.”

“Why?”

“It’s Nurse Franklin. Something terrible has happened to her. I had a vision.”

His nose wrinkled up. “A vision.”

He wouldn’t believe her, and she should have kept silent. “She was just here. Her head was ….” She swallowed hard and through a blur of tears, she said, “Oleta Franklin is dead. She was here in the room with me. I saw the blood—”

She stopped, aware that her hands splayed across his broad chest, her fingers feeling the heat, the hair on his chest, the solidness of muscle. His stomach muscles, delineated and strong, rippled slightly when he moved. He was power and prowess, a strong male. She’d never seen a chest like this before in all her days, and it struck her dumb for one second.

He shook her lightly. “Damn it, Lilly. What foolishness is this? I heard you scream like you were being murdered.”

“What the devil is going on?” Dr. Healy’s voice came from the other side of the landing as he left his bedroom in a dressing gown and his wife followed behind him.

Morgan released Lilly. “Lilly had a nightmare.”

“No it wasn’t a nightmare.”

Patricia came up the stairs, her eyes filled with teasing and guile. “I thought I heard a scream. What’s going on? Is Morgan trying to break into Lilly’s room?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Morgan planted his hands on his hips and stepped away. His glance remained on Lilly, burning her deep.

“Morgan, must you be so harsh?” Constance said as she came to stand by her husband. “Are you all right Lilly?”

Tears still hovered in her eyes, but she swallowed them with effort and lifted her chin. “I am fine. I’m sorry to have disturbed you all.”

Dr. Healy’s dubious expression said he didn’t believe her. “I thought I heard you say something about Oleta Franklin.”

Dr. Healy walked toward Lilly and Morgan with a stern expression. Lilly’s apprehension heightened. She sensed the older man’s disapproval, and knew consequences would come.

“She just had a bad dream,” Morgan said again. Lilly wanted to yell at them all that she’d been wide awake.

“A dream?” Dr. Healy’s disgust sounded in is voice and his face. “About Oleta? What was it about?”

It seemed a strange question, but she answered it. “She was ….” Lilly glanced at Morgan, then at Patricia and Constance. They all waited patiently, but she could hardly get the words passed her lips. “Oleta was in a terrible accident and she’s dead.”

“Oh, my goodness.” Constance put a hand to her mouth. “How awful.”

Lilly glanced at Dr. Healy and thought she saw a flicker of discomfort. His mouth tightened.

“Distasteful.” Patricia’s voice seeped with sugar and lemon.

“Patricia, must you be so contrary?” her mother asked.

Dr. Healy found his voice. “This is all poppycock. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows dreams are balderdash.”

“Freud didn’t think so,” Patricia said as she twirled in a circle. Her filmy nightgown whirled out from her body in a frothy cloud.

Dr. Healy glared at his daughter, but then turned on his heel and stalked back to his room. He slammed the door.

“My dear,” Constance said just as her husband slammed his bedroom door. “Are you certain you’re fine?”

Lilly didn’t want any more prying questions. She couldn’t answer honestly. “Yes.” She gave a weak smile. “Yes.”

“Then let us go back to our rooms and prepare for the day, shall we?” Constance’s smile was brittle, a vein of disapproval heavy in her voice. “And Morgan, do put a shirt on.”

Constance returned to her bedroom and closed the door much more softly than Dr. Healy had.

Patricia watched them with a half smile. “Were you in Lilly’s room, brother?”

Morgan made a scoffing noise. “Of course not. Go back to bed Patricia or do whatever you do in the morning.”

“I was reading in the library. I couldn’t sleep.” The young woman’s cocky smile widened, but she didn’t argue as she went back down the stairs in her dressing gown.

That left Lilly standing in the hallway with a half-naked Morgan. She licked her lips when she scanned across his powerful form once more. His biceps rippled as he crossed his arms.

Before he could register the same disapproval the other’s had, she jumped ahead. “Do you think it was a bad dream?”

“What else would it be?”

“I need to go to the asylum this morning.” Tears returned with a vengeance, and this time she couldn’t stop them. She wiped at them with her fingers as the ache in her throat wound tight. “I need to make certain Oleta is safe.”

“Lilly.” He moved forward, and before she knew it, his body cradled hers. “I’m sorry.”

Shocked, she stiffened in his arms. But his grip tightened, one hand smoothing over her back, the other cupping the back of her head. She found her head pressed to his shoulder. Thought she wasn’t petite, he was over six feet tall. His arms enveloped her in warmth and protection and a comfort she’d never expected. Her palms moved over his chest and rasped over his nipples. He sucked in a breath.

She looked up and those deep eyes captured hers and held. Fire bloomed there and transferred straight to every untutored and tender part of her body. Something feral and amazing grew between them until it pulsed between her legs and in her belly. It felt primitive—as untamed as a lion in the wild. She wanted to seize the feeling and embrace it until it enclosed her in an everlasting sweetness. He smelled like leather and musk. Her senses whirled. What could she do but enjoy his touch, the comfort he offered, no matter how inappropriate? No, if she didn’t escape his unseemly embrace now and his father or mother saw them, who knew what would happen. The danger in this didn’t elude her, and she pushed gently at his chest. With obvious reluctance he released her. Her tears had dried the moment she realized their compromising position.

 

What The Walking Dead Can Teach Us About Great Writing

Monday, November 26th, 2012

What is great writing? Depends on who you talk to. There is a lot of pontification on what constitutes excellent writing whether it be in a novel, a movie, or a television series. To me it’s all about what I appreciate in a story and characters. What I like may not appeal to the next person.

Cookie cutter characters are easy to write. Sometimes you don’t have the energy to write more than the same-ole-same-ole. You want the comfort and familiarity of creating story lines and characters you’ve experienced before. It can exhaust you to design characters that require more. Layering characters with virtue is easier than designing them with flaws. When I’ve written bad guys that are multifaceted and that creep me out, it takes far more work than the bad guy who just is, and I don’t know why he’s evil. If the evil guy hiding in the closet reveals reasons for his nastiness, I’ve written a better character. But it also takes a hell of a lot of work to wallow in that darkness with the bad guy and be him or her for as long as it takes. To feel the nasty and the gritty and the sickening reasons. Even more gratifying is creating a multi-faced bad guy you can understand and maybe even sympathize that tiny bit so he or she is more human. And I love good guy (male or female) who isn’t perfect but is still hard work.

What does all this have to do with The Walking Dead?

I resisted watching The Walking Dead. I mean resisted and resisted. Probably because zombies have never interested me that much. I broke down and watched 28 Days Later a few years back, and I loved it. Raw. Gritty. It didn’t pussy foot around and pretty things up for us. More than that, the acting and story line were great. I adored Shaun of The Dead, but it is for laughs. Still, the acting was great, the story side-splitting original with wonderful characters.

Most of the zombie movies I’ve come across have little in the way of character development and story. It is all chop and splatter. To be fair, two hours isn’t a long time to give us fantastic characters and story. I broke down a few months back and watched the first two seasons of The Walking Dead when my sister recommended it.

I have to say the character development in The Walking Dead is some of the best I’ve seen in any paranormal show. I put it on par with some of the great moments in the last rehash of Battlestar Galactica, which I very much enjoyed. I also found the same fantastic character development in Hell On Wheels and Babylon 5. What do these shows have that so many others don’t? What can they teach writers? Bottom line to me is well-developed and finely drawn characters that aren’t easy. Take Daryl’s character, one of my favorites in The Walking Dead. There’s a character who we think is all about one thing, but he changes as time goes by, and we want to know if those good aspects of his character have always been there or he’s growing into them. He isn’t what we thought he was and we like it.

So I love it when a hero in a romance novel isn’t just a good guy, but someone who shows different levels we don’t know right off, and the same goes for the heroine. I want characters who surprise me and make me care what happens to them every step of the way.

Many of us have written stories that aren’t as complex and difficult. We don’t want them to be. Some readers think they’re super stories. But wonderful writing, the kind you can be especially proud of, requires digging deeper. It wrings sweat out of us, keeps us up at night writing faster because we can’t wait to see what our characters will do next. I know when I manage my best writing it is exhausting, yet if feels fantastic because I’ve given it my all and written characters that matter to me. I care about what happens to these characters, and there’s a good chance some readers will, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, Book News, and Ramblings

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving week to everyone in the U.S.A.

This week the first book (Dark Fire) in my vampire trilogy (Deep Is The Night) is offered for free at Ellora’s Cave, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So grab your copy while you can. And if you enjoy it, grab the second book, Night Watch and the third, Haunted Souls. Haunted Souls isn’t available for Kindle right now, but you can get your copy at Ellora’s Cave and at Barnes and Noble.

Don’t forget about the stupendously cool price of 99 cents for the first book (Shadows Wait) in my Asylum Trilogy. You can grab it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. There’s a problem at iTunes where Shadows Wait it isn’t available yet. Soon, I hope. There’s more…you can also pick up Shadows RiseSand Shadows Fall (the next two books in the series). If you want it all now you can always grab the Asylum Trilogy Bundle at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, too.

What else is new in my writing world? Lots! I’m working on the third story in my Gunn Brothers military romantic suspense trilogy. Right now the three novellas are named Sudden Heat, Under Fire, and Double Threat.

Other writing tidbits…in 2013 I’m publishing Blackout (January or February), finishing my dimension travel/historical romances (Secret Society Trilogy) and starting yet another historical. My big plan is to write this new historical idea without paranormal elements, but there’s a good chance it’ll have suspense, pathos, danger, and of course romance! The novel is set in a part of the world where I don’t recall ever seeing a romance novel set. To say I have my work cut out for me is an understatement, but I’m so excited about this project I’m bursting! And yeah…it features another disaster-related plot. What can I say? I love it. 🙂

On the reading front, I ran across a wonderful non-fiction book this week by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection. I encourage everyone to read this book and watch her TED presentations on YouTube. One of the huge things I’ve taken away from Brene’s work is striving for authenticity, something that isn’t prized in our culture of “fit in.”

That’s it for today dudes and dudettes. May you all have a wonderful rest of the week and talk to you very soon. I’ll put up an excerpt or two by the end of this week or weekend.

Goodreads Giveaway!

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Okay dudes and dudettes, I’ve got two paperback copies of Before The Dawn that I’m giving away at Goodreads. So if you’re a Goodreads Member run over there and put your name in for it. You can find it here Goodreads Giveaway

Enjoy!

 

Rebuilding My Brain!

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Hey all! You may have noticed there was a big gap between my last post and this post. October was a crazy month. I think I’ve learned an important lesson. Do. Not. Schedule. Book. Release. While. Doing. Halloween. Spooktacular. That’s right. Not only did I have my Halloween Spooktacular going on, I was trying to get the Asylum Trilogy released AND go to a conference in White Plains, New York. When I got back from the conference it was right on to book release. I had a big cold…what everyone was calling The Conference Crud. I think my body and brain were saying, “Dudette. Think you overdid things just a tiny bit?”

So I might be a tad bit scarce on ye old blog for the next week or so. I need some serious brain refill. 🙂 So we’ll see you later taters!

Romance/Post Apoc/Suspense/Paranormal: Blackout Cover Reveal

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

You remember this summer when I said I was working on something that was inspired by this house in my neighborhood? Well I finished that puppy and it will be out in January/February 2013. That’s the goal anyway. So feast your eyes on this absolutely awesome cover by Kanaxa. I hope you love it as much as I do. It really holds the flavor of this story. Here’s a rough draft blurb to give you a tiny peek into this story! As time goes by I’ll give you excerpts and some more peeks into the story!

Blackout
Paranormal Romance/Suspense
January/February 2013

The house at the end of the street has always been haunted. When a solar flare challenges the world to remain civilized, one man and one woman will face an evil lying in wait for all who dare enter…

Cassie Kovac has spent the last ten years rebuilding her life after witnessing her abusive husband commit suicide and surviving a tsunami. She’s vacationing in the high mountain town of Bowmount, Colorado when a solar flare takes out the grid. Fear tears apart the little community, and the only thing standing between her and certain disaster is a man with a cloudy past.

Ex-marine and federal marshal Neal “Griff” Griffin’s life is shadowed in darkness. He won’t talk about his mysterious past. His childhood was marred by the unspeakable, his life spent erasing things too horrible to dare remember. Until he sees Cassie and primal male instincts to protect come to life. When the world goes to hell, he realizes he’d do anything to protect her.

When Cassie and Griff face the haunted house, they don’t expect the building to come alive with a personality all its own. Fighting against the unknown threatens to rip apart the fabric of their minds, and make their survival and new-found love one step closer to impossible.