Monday, December 26, 2011

Tyler Andrew

I have some tragic news to share. I have gone back and forth with the best way to do this for days now. I am absolutely NOT one of those people who feels the need to share personal information about themselves with everyone online. I don't post my whole life on Facebook, and especially since I became a writer, I make sure to always keep my personal life separate from my professional. But I've also developed friendships and connections with so many of you that the line became blurred. Through emails and private conversations, many of you have come to know me. And I've come to know many of you. And many of you knew I was pregnant. So, I want to share my news with you now.

Tyler Andrew Hildenbrand was born December 15 at 10am. When they pulled him out he wasn't breathing. They managed to resuscitate him after several long minutes and hurried him off to the NICU while they finished with me. Once I was in recovery (a small area resembling an emergency room cubby where you sit and let the drugs wear off until you can feel your body again) the doctor came down and explained the results of the tests they'd already done as a result of his struggle to breathe and lack of response after they'd brought him back.

Tyler was in heart failure. His heart was enlarged on both sides and so were the walls around his heart. As a result, it also wasn't pumping or squeezing correctly and he was unable to provide enough blood flow or oxygen to the rest of his organs. There was nothing to do but wait and see if he somehow stregnthened on his own. If he stabilized we were told he might be a candidate for a transplant or maybe a bypass procedure farther down the road but for now there was nothing they could do.

The next morning Tyler was transferred to the Children's Hospital at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. The hospital here disharged me, and my husband and I drove up. For the next four days we stayed with Tyler.

Tests were done and the staff there was amazing and devoted and honestly made me feel as comforted as possible in a situation like this. I could tell they really cared about Tyler and about us. Some of them became friends for life for me during those few days. But despite everything Tyler worsened. His heart just couldn't keep up. His organs began to shut down because they couldn't get enough blood. I won't go into much detail because I know it's hard to hear for some. Monday night we got the results from an EEG and learned there was little or no brain activity anymore.

Tyler passed away on Tuesday, December 20th at 3:45am. Both me and my husband were with him and he felt no pain.

It was both the worst and the best five days of my entire life. I am so lucky we got that time. We are grateful for every single day we got to spend holding him and talking to him. And we know he's in Heaven now, and that we will see him again. And that when we do meet again, he will be himself. He will be able to talk to me and walk and run and show me his life there. And I find myself impatient for that day.

I still can't believe this happened. We had no idea anything was wrong. All of the ultrasounds and tests, etc always looked normal. He appeared to be an active, healthy baby for my entire pregnancy. He just couldn't seem to handle being out in the world.

I've posted a picture below because the mother in me still wants to show him off. I know seeing the breathing tube, etc is scary but I don't even see that anymore. I only see him and he's gorgeous.

Here's the chair we sat in with him. They would tape the tubes and lines to our arms and the pillow so they wouldn't pull or hang while we sat. I'm staring up at the monitor that read out his vitals.

Tyler Andrew. One day old.

One of the main reasons I posted this was to avoid or head off all the questions that are starting to come in about 'how I'm feeling' or 'how the baby's doing'. I have no problem talking about him, or our ordeal for those five days. In fact, it's all I want to do because it makes him more real or seem closer somehow, now that he's gone, but I don't like having to break the news over and over so this post seemed the best way to get it out there to everyone at once and not have to re-tell the story over and over. Or to have to say the words "My baby died" even one more time. It's hard even when it's only written.

Also, I want to say a few thank-you's publicly. To Angeline Kace and Jennifer Sommersby- the best, most supportive long-distance friends I'll ever have. Your support is so appreciated.

And to the NICU staff at UVA Children's Hospital: Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for the amount of caring and support you showed to me and my husband. You held our hand and treated us like family and we never felt alone because of you. Kara, Amelia, and Naomi - you three especially made us feel safe at a time when we should've felt terrified and lonely. Thank you for taking care of Tyler like he was your own. I will never, ever forget you. And Naomi, I am convinced it was Jesus himself who sent you to us for that night. We could not have done it without you. My  memories of Tyler will always include the three of you, along with so many others there. Thank you for everything. You are all amazing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cold Blood is NOW available!!!


Cold Blood is now available in e-book on Amazon and Barnes& Noble. I know I said Nov 22nd which isn’t until tomorrow, but it’s already there so GO NOW and check it out. 

Below, I’ve listed a schedule of the blog tour that kicks off tomorrow. You will want to visit this list often because every day of the blog tour a new excerpt from the book will be posted on the hosting site. If you read these excerpts in order, you will get a sneak peek at the first 6 chapters of Cold Blood!

Each blog will also be hosting its own e-book giveaway of Cold Blood, so visit each site to find out how you can enter. The tour will wrap up on Christmas Day on Accendo Press’ website where we will give away a signed PAPERBACK version of the book to a lucky winner.

I’m so excited to finally be able to share the next installment of Tara’s story with you. There’s a whole host of new characters this time around, and I’m excited to see what everyone thinks of them. For those of you who have already read the book, feel free to write back and tell me who your favorite character was (old or new).

*special tidbit: For those of who you liked Cambria - and she was so much fun to write! - you’ll be interested to know she was named after a real, live person who just happens to be kicking off our blog tour for us tomorrow. Be sure to visit stop #1 and say hi to the real Cambria!

Nov 23 - The Bookish Brunette - "Indie Frenzy", Read about some of my 'favorite things'
Nov 24 – HAPPY THANKSGIVING  - Now go eat turkey! No post today.
Nov 26 - CP White Media
Nov 28- Live to Read - Top 10 'This or That' List
Dec 5- Angeline Kace, Author of Descended By Blood
Dec 20- Fiktshun

·        * SPECIAL EVENT 12/27: Radio show with Cambria and her friends. Call in to discuss the book and a chance to win a signed paperback of Cold Blood! More details to come.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo... and biting off more than you can chew

For the entire month of October, I would think about NaNoWriMo (which starts today) and say, "nope, can't do it. Not this year." And with good reason. I'm wrapping up edits for Cold Blood. I'm publishing a book this month! I have nothing to feel guilty for, because you can't get much more productive than that. So I would tell myself no and then keep it moving... because on top of publishing a book, I'm cooking a baby... so yeah 'nuff said on the productivity meter.

But then I looked at the calender and saw that it is 11/1 and I'm starting to itch a little in the tips of my fingers... and at the edges of my mind. The dark edges; the places where stories come from...

And I think I might want to try it. 50,000 words in 30 days... Sounds only slightly unattainable with my current schedule... but I think I want to try anyway. Because I realized that part of me was saying no because I thought I wouldn't be able to finish. But what kind of insecure wimp only starts things they KNOW they won't fail at?? That's just cowardly.

So I'm going to try it. The question now is.... what story to write? It needs to be fun and fresh and new- a total brain exercise. That way, I'm inspired enough to write my 2k words a day whether I'm exhausted or busy or whatever. So I need to go and daydream now.

Happy NaNoWriMo!!

And if you don't know what NaNoWriMo is, click here to find out:

It's the best writing experience ever. And it's how I wrote Dirty Blood ;)

Who else is doing it this year?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Official Release Date ... and a sneek peek!

For those of you who keep checking back for more information on Cold Blood's release... this one's for you....

The release date has been set for November 22!!!

Yay- I am so excited! I can't wait for everyone to read this one so I can FINALLY talk to you about these new characters- whom you will love!

Also, in the meantime, there is a portion of chapter one posted on All Things Books right now, so go there and read it. Thanks, Tanya, for posting. =) It is still a rough draft copy, though, so bear that in mind. You may see a slightly different version in the finished product, but it was ready enough and I wanted to share something. I hope you love it. I think you will, especially if you have a soft spot for George.

Also, I've posted the information for Cold Blood on Goodreads so if you want to add it to your 'to-read' list, you can do so here.

When we get closer to release date, I will share the information about the spectacular and revealing blog tour I am putting together. You will NOT want to miss it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

word burn out

I'm supposed to be blogging right now. But even though you're reading this, it's not really a blog. I mean, there isn't going to be much of importance said here. Trust me. Because the thing is, I feel kind of burnt out on words. Sure, they come in handy to get a point across or relieve road rage, but right now, I feel like words are a little overrated. I finished the first round of edits on Cold Blood today, kissed it goodbye, and sent it off to the betas. And by the time I hit 'save' and exit one last time, all of my words were starting to blur together. I think I need a break from words.

But I haven't reached out and said hello to my three loyal readers so here I sit, typing something that will most certainly NOT be anything that qualifies as a real blog post. And you're reading it, so I'm not sure who the joke's on.

Alright, since I'm immersed in everything Cold Blood and have just now come up for air, I'm way behind on anything fun to talk about. I know about Cher making an appearance on Dancing With The Stars (only because its my husband's favorite show - don't tell him I told you!!) where she somehow still looked 35 and I know Footloose just came out and I am excited to see it bc I have a girl-crush on Julianna Hough.
Ken Wormwald Julianne Hough Footloose - H 2011

And if you want something literary, I just read a sneak peek of Destined, the new House of Night book by P.C. and Kristin Cast. Its out on 10/25 I think and if you haven't read this series you should, because its fun and very true to a teenage voice and has laugh-out-loud dialogue. I'm excited for it.

But those are really the only fun things I know of going on in the world. Oh - and yes, I heard about the pregnant lady who ran the marathon last weekend and then stopped for lunch, and then went to the hospital and had a baby - all in the same day. Geez, she's giving all of us prego's a good name, and I don't appreciate it. We are NOT all capable of that, okay? I mean, running is phsyically impossible for me right now. I know. I tried. My son ate it on his bike a couple of days ago and do you think I was able to rush out and comfort him in the middle of the street? Um, no. His wounds had all healed by the time I got there. 

So, if anyone else has anything fun or newsworthy to add, feel free. Catch me up on anything I missed. And lend me some words.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

how to be pregnant and NOT cut somebody!

If you're reading this and you're the type who likes striking up conversations with strangers in grocery stores, get PREGNANT. Personally, I have nothing against a little small talk with the mothers of grown children who wants to share mom stories about when their kids were younger, give advice, blah blah blah. Usually it's harmless and polite and not altogether un-enjoyable.

But when you're seven months pregnant and so big you can't see your feet - much less your own who-ha - its none of those things, because the convo goes something like this:

Retired age lady: "Oh." <smiles and eyes my belly> "When are you due?"
Me: "December."
Lady: <smile drops to a frown and eyes go wide.> "Oh. So big already."
Me: <try not to cut someone with my license. Paste on a smile.> "Um, yeah, apparently I make big babies. My last one was ten pounds so...."
Lady: "Oh my."
"Me: "So he'll just be big." (basically, I'm still being defensive here)
Lady: "Oh well, yes, that's quite large. My goodness." <eyes me like I shouldn't even be walking around>
Me: "Well... bye!" <makes a mad, waddling dash of an escape into the next aisle>

And then, in said aisle....
The process repeats itself.

Geesh. My pasted smile is wearing thin. I know I'm big, people! Trust me, I'm the one who carries it around. And it's not that much fun most of the time. Babies are fun. Thinking about the baby is fun. But carrying him at waist level, with nothing to hold him up but my stretched-thin skin, yeah - not so much fun. But thanks for pointing out just one more thing to make me feel bad about myself for: How fat I am.

I feel bad for the girls who are having baby #1 that have to endure those looks and comments. I don't remember getting very much of that with my first - or second, for that matter. I had a lot of strangers come up and randomly touch or rub my belly, but at least no one looked at me like I needed to go on prego-mama weight watchers. And the thing is, I've gained less weight this time than I did both times before. It really is ALL belly weight! (okay, and boobs but the guys reading this really don't need to hear all that.) Anyway, the point is, I don't care if I DO look like I've gained fifty pounds in each limb or something. I'm PREGNANT!!!! There's a reason for the extra padding and either way, it's none of your business. So quit looking at me with those judgy eyes before I make you a character in my book and then kill that character.

Whew. <deep breath> I feel better.

Oh, book progress. Yeah, let's talk about that real quick because that'll make me look less hormonal and nuts after all the spewing. Haha.

Revisions are coming along. Slow and steady. We're still shooting for a Thanksgiving release. And there are so many things I wish I could tell you about it!!! But I won't give anything away. At least not yet. Later this month, I will reveal a snippet on a very special blog post that I will tell you about later. =) And you'll love it and hate me and want more but that's all I'm going to say for right now.

Pregnancy makes me evil. hehe.

Oh and in the meantime, head over to A Cupcake and a Latte for a giveaway of Dirty Blood and Across the Galaxy for her 1000 Followers Giveaway.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Giveaway winners

I love giveaways. Even cyber ones. It means everyone reading this is automatically excited already. I don't even have to do anything to snazz up this post to make it more interesting. You're already going to read it, looking to see who won. Easy for me. =P

I'm not going to draw it out and make you read a whole paragraph about what I watched on TV last night first, though it was tempting. I'm just going to give you your winners.

First prize goes to JEANNE!!!!

She will get a signed paperback of Dirty Blood, along with some cool bookmarks - one from me and one from Angeline Kace for Descended by Blood.

Thanks for entering, Jeanne, and I am so excited to have you as a new follower.

Second prize goes to Andrea (at The Bookish Babes). One of my awesome blogger friends. She will get the bookmark swag pack that includes a signed Dirty Blood bookmark, Descended by Blood bookmark signed by Angeline Kace, and the specially designed metal charm bookmark, made exclusively for Dirty Blood.

CONGRATULATIONS to both of you ladies!!!!

And thank you to everyone else who entered. There were well over 100 entries! I gained a lot of new followers on Twitter and Facebook and I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you. Thanks for entering and following. Feel free to drop me an email or comment anytime. And I always love to hear what you liked/didn't like about my books - or any book, for that matter. =)

Now that the excitement has been spread around, it's back to revisions for me. I am working hard at getting Cold Blood ready for you guys by Thanksgiving so I need to get back to it. This one's going to rock! I'll blog again when I come up for air.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cover Reveal and most awesome giveaway!

I am so excited to be revealing the cover for Cold Blood, Book 2 in the Dirty Blood series!!!!

I am also thrilled to have such an awesome group of bloggers helping with the reveal on their own sites today. If you haven't already seen the cover, here it is:

And a list of the bloggers who are helping with the exclusive cover reveal are:

Taking It One Book At A Time
A Book Vacation
Magical Urban Fantasy Reads
Nightly Reading
A Life Bound By Books
JB Culture Shock
Sassy Book Lovers
A Diary of a Book Addict
All Things Books
A Cupcake & A Latte
The Unlocked Diary
Page Flipperz
1000 Plus Books To Read
Two Chicks On Books
Seeing Night Reviews
The Bookish Babes
AwesomeSauce Book Club

Thanks Bloggers!!

A very special thanks to Sara Reine for her creative genius in creating this cover. I love her and will never part with her!

Now, for the giveaway, because I want to make sure you are JUST as excited as I am...

There will be 2 prizes awarded. First place will receive a signed paperback of Dirty Blood, complete with the new cover art. Yes- it is finally available for purchase with the updated cover. The fun part is, the winner will literally receive the first EVER printed paperback with the new cover. Cool, right?! First prize also includes a signed bookmark by me along with a signed bookmark from Angeline Kace for Descended by Blood, which is the newest title available from Accendo Press. (You can check Descended By Blood out here, and get it now for just .99 for your Kindle.)

Here is a picture of the grand prize pack:

Second prize is a special set of bookmarks, which includes a signed bookmark by me for Dirty Blood, along with a signed bookmark by Angeline Kace for Descended by Blood, AND a special metal bookmark with a wolf print charm, designed by Krystle, my personal jewlery designer. (You can find her on Twitter as @KrystazziK)

Here's a picture of the second prize pack:

To enter the giveaway, you can leave a comment with your email address. For an additional entry, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads, or you can become a follower of Accendo Press' website. Just be sure to leave me a comment here that you've done so. The giveaway runs through 9/28 and the winner will be announced on 9/29.

Good luck! And I will leave you with a teaser of what's going on inside Tara's head for Cold Blood...

Wood Point Academy is not at all what I expected. For one thing, it looks like a cross between military school and Buckingham Palace. Everyone stares, the floors shine so bright you can see your reflection in them from a mile away, and no one smiles. Unless they're kicking your butt in the process. Which happens more often than not for the freshman. Lucky for them, my presence has just stolen the spotlight, and they get a break from the daily joys of hazing.
At least I've got plenty to take my mind off the fact that my psycho cousin, Miles De'Luca, keeps calling and declaring his love and promising to come for me just as soon as he's destroyed anyone standing in our way. Wes isn't going to like that idea.
So between Miles, Wood Point's evil welcoming commitee, and the drill sergeant hottie trainer from hell, I just keep asking myself, how did I end up here?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The future... this week.

Summer's over. I know, you don't want me to say it out loud. I don't want to, either. But it's a fact. The pool is closed, the water park shut down as of yesterday. No more 90 degree days. (Depending on where you live, weather is unpredictable here but I think we're done with that kind of heat) School is in and we're all adjusting to new schedules. Especially at my house. And I think I'm the crankiest of everyone because of it. Last year, my son went to FULL DAY pre-K and this year, he's HALF DAY kindergarten. (Booo!!! Hiss!!) So he goes to school at 11 and comes home at 2:30. Now regardless of how that sounds to you, its not a lot of time. Especially when I have to write 2k words a day or beat the crap out of myself for missing my mark (When you work for yourself, you become your own boss AND enforcer) and do errands, housework, calls, blah blah blah. So yeah, I don't like it because I have to choose between writing and grocery shopping - and when you're six months pregnant, that's a hard choice! My son is adjusting, too. He's trying to overcome the boredom of sitting around all morning because he's a morning person and still wakes up at 7am no matter what. And he can suddenly no longer take naps- yes, my 5 yr old still took naps up til now, don't be jealous. But being in afternoon kindergarten kind of kills that habit. It's just too late in the afternoon to attempt it after he gets home. So we're ALL adjusting to the no-nap part.

The worst part of it all is that as soon as we've all adjusted to said 'new' schedule, Herman the worm will make his appearance and shake it up and we'll have to adjust to a whole new schedule, because I don't care how 'in-control' you are, a baby will still always change your schedule. So yay for that.

See, I haven't written a blog post in forever and when I do, all I do is whine. Aren't you glad you stopped by to read?

Alright, alright, probably you want an update on the actual writing. So I'll give it to ya. First, Dirty Blood - the paperback - is almost ready for purchase, with the new cover. As soon as it is, I'll announce it. Hopefully by the end of the week.

Oh and don't forget DreamKiller has that combined volume now where you can get 1 and 2 together for only .99. For some reason, people are still buying the individual stories for .99 each instead of the combo volume. I don't understand it, but I'm not going to stop you from it, since I'm earning twice as much. Not my fault you aren't scrolling down the list, or whatever the reason for it is. =P

Here's the cover for the combined version so you know what to look for. And don't forget to read the prequel story from Lukas' POV under the short story tab above. It's my favorite price: FREE!

Now for Cold Blood. I am sooooo close to finishing the rough draft, it's ridiculous. I mean, like 3 chapters or something stupid. So I will - hopefully - finish it this week and get on with the revising. We're still shooting for a November release but it will probably be late November. I will keep you posted on that. Also - a cover. There is a cover and yes, it's beyond amazing, and no I'm not showing you yet. I am concentrating on finishing the words part of it all - kind of important when you're an author - and THEN we will have a HUGE cover reveal Extravaganza. Giveaways will ensue. Not sure what yet but it will be amazing. Rest assured.

More on that to come...

And while you're waiting, you should check out Descended by Blood by Angeline Kace because it will rock your socks off. And it's only .99 for the Kindle, for a limited time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DreamKiller prequel: a look at Lukas

I was playing around with the details of Lukas' past - one of the characters from my DreamKiller series - for a blog post a little while ago and ended up with this short story. It takes place well before any of my DreamKiller story and highlights his days in the circus. Let me know what you think. I will be posting this on the DreamKiller tab of my page as well and leaving it up for awhile, for something fun and free to read. Let me know what you think.

* * *

Lukas pulled the curtain closed with a grand flourish and smiled wide at his two female customers. They were a little young to be here on their own, especially with darkness falling fast over the big top. He knew better than most what sort of evil lurked between the tented alleyways of this circus, and it wasn’t pretty. But the girls giggled at his dramatics and appeared completely wrapped up in watching Lukas perform for them, unaware of the dangers that awaited them outside, should they overstay their welcome. Lukas slipped into character and let the smile fall away until it was only a hint of a secret about to be spilled. He earned more tips from his friendly demeanor than he did for being accurate, though he sometimes fudged the details a little so he wasn’t too precise. It wouldn’t do to have people thinking he really was precognizant.
He walked back to the table with wide, flourishing steps and slid into his chair with arms spread wide like a performer; for that’s what he was. He might not have a stage, or a place in the big top, but he was a performer through and through.
“Ladies, welcome,” he said in a low, booming voice.
The girls giggled again. They both had a similar shade of blonde streaks in their dishrag hair, and one was huddled up to the other in a protective stance. He knew without even opening his ‘sight’ that they were sisters. The oldest looked to be about seventeen, the youngest fifteen. He bit back a frown. They really shouldn’t be out here alone. Where was their escort? He knew it was a new fad in society: you women no longer required an escort for every outing. He thought it was a little too progressive and dangerous. But then, it wasn’t up to him. At least he could look ahead, make sure they’d be safe when they left.
“You are here to know your future, yes?” He waggled his eyebrows dramatically, playing up the character.
“Yes,” they said in unison. The oldest was watching him with a small smile and piercing blue eyes. It was almost sad how unaware she was of the impossible age difference between them.
“Well, then. Sit back and relax and let Hocus Pocus have a look.”
“Hocus Pocus? That’s your name?”
“It is tonight.” He winked, to the sound of more giggles. “Now, close your eyes and ask me what you wish to know.”
The girls complied and he wasn’t surprised to find they weren’t the type to peek. So many of his clients were and he was always herding them back to obedience. If nothing else, so he could properly concentrate without worrying about the mask of his character falling away before their eyes. If he caught sight of a particularly unexpected vision, his eyes were likely to glaze over and become unfocused, and that would most certainly give away the truth of his gift. As long as they thought it was all in fun, his position here remained secure.
“What would you have me see?” he asked.
“My future,” said the youngest, after a nudging prompt from her sister. “There’s a boy…”
“Ah, I see,” he said. “A boy...” He squinted in concentration, eyes on the girl, and let his mind wander over her.
Seconds later, he felt the web of his mind open a connection and he went through it without hesitation. Suddenly, he was seeing beyond this room, this moment, into another night. A night where the young girl before him wore white and soft lavender as she was led through an archway and into a room full of smiling faces, on the arm of a man who had a forehead way too large for his small face but otherwise, looked happy as a clam to be where he was. People cheered and toasted. A couple that were, no doubt, her parents were grinning from ear to ear and the robust man was crying and claiming allergies. It bothered him only vaguely that he didn’t see the older sister in the room and then he was being called back by the sound of the younger girl’s voice.
“Can you see him? I mean, can you see anything, Hocus Pocus?”
He blinked and refocused on her. She still had her eyes closed, but he could tell she was straining to open them and have her answers. “I see a boy, my dear. Open your eyes.” She did and watched him expectantly. Not for the first time, he felt like Christmas morning personified and was always grateful when there was truly good news to deliver. Nothing harder than trying to lie to cover up a gruesome future. He smiled at the girl and spread his arms wide, going for the theatrical again. “He is yours,” he said. “’Til death do you part.”
“Oh,” she said, her eyes going wide. “You’re sure it’s him? I mean, you don’t even know what he looks like, this boy.”
Her words were rushed, and he couldn’t bring himself to find out if he’d seen the boy she was hoping for, so he said, “I see you happier than you’ve ever been. In the meantime, let destiny have its secrets.”
She looked a little put off by his vague answer, like she might argue, so he turned to her sister and hurried on before there could be a rebuttal. “And you, dear. What do you want to see?”
“Um, well… I mainly came here for my sister, Justine." Justine, the younger sister, snuggled closer. "I guess… can you tell me if my scholarship comes through?” She didn’t sound overly skeptical of his ability to see it; more like she wasn’t used to putting herself first. He appreciated what that meant for her character and smiled a genuine smile at her.
“Of course. Close your eyes and let Hocus Pocus work his magic.”
Both girls settled in again to wait, eyes closed, and he worked quicker this time, opening the web of connections and finding hers before stepping through. He was met by a wall of darkness and for a second, he floundered, unable to get his bearings. His eyes adjusted to the darkness and he was able to make out shadows. Odd shaped buildings and crude alleys came into focus. He looked around, trying to figure out where he was, but it was too dark.
He tried pushing past this moment, into something more future, but nothing would come. His mind was uneasy, not only with his surroundings, but the inability to move forward from the vision. He never got blocked like this. Unless…
He swallowed a lump and looked at his surroundings more closely. If he strained, he could hear panting nearby. He whirled in every direction. There. Crouched behind a crate was the older sister. He moved closer, knowing she couldn’t see him here in this reflection of what was to come. Her clothes were torn and her eye was swollen and leaking. She was crying so softly, he almost missed it. He wanted to bend down and comfort her but she wouldn’t feel his touch. A scuffle sounded from the mouth of the alley and he looked up at the same moment she did. It was too dark to make out anyone specific, but he knew there was someone there; several someones. They were drunk. He knew it without needing to see them. He could feel it in the air, in the way they carried themselves. And they were heading this way. He swallowed another lump.
“Well? Do you see?”
The sound of her voice wrenched him out of the dark vision, and he blinked at her. Her eyes were open and she was watching him with curiosity and a little confusion. His eyes must’ve been milky again. He should really start making them all wear blindfolds. Or at least dim the lights.
“I didn’t get it, did I?” she asked.
He collected himself and pasted an open smile on his lips. “Easy as pie,” he said. Madame Bellfast had trained him in the art of talking in clichés when the answer was unclear or unflattering. He reverted to it only when he really floundered for answers. When the visions he saw were particularly gruesome.
“So, I got it?” Her eyes went wide, like her sisters, but it seemed more disbelief than excitement.
“You needn’t concern yourself,” he said, which was, unfortunately, true. The scholarship was the least of her worries.
She smiled, transforming her features from anxious to pretty. “Thank you… Hocus Pocus,” she said.
The girls rose, and he took his cue, rising as well and motioning them towards the curtain with a flourish of his hands. “Ladies, it has been a pleasure. Come back anytime and enjoy the show.”
They smiled and slipped past him, out the curtain he held open for them, and into the fluorescent night. The yellow lights danced off their hair as they made their way down the causeway, arm in arm. He watched them until he couldn’t see them anymore and then let the curtain fall back into place with finality. He couldn’t see any more customers tonight. Madame Bellfast would understand. He’d never come out and admitted his gift to her, but he saw the way she watched him and he knew she knew.
He sat back down at the table and removed the heavy cape he’d draped over himself. Partly because it lended him to the character he played and partly because it covered up the ketchup stain on his button-up shirt underneath. He dropped his head into his hands and, without really knowing why, went back into the web to look for the girl. His visions weren’t always accurate when he tried for the distant future. He should try for something more immediate, make sure he wasn’t missing something.
The web opened and he stepped through. Over the next few minutes, he let the vision take him, completely wrapping himself into the moment. At the end, his head shot up and his eyes swirled back into focus with jolting clarity. He jumped up, knocking the chair over, and ran from the tent.
He found the alleyway with the ease of someone who’d been there a thousand times. It was the alley between the groomer's tent and the bearded lady, and he knew the sort that hung out there. They were lower than the low. Not even worthy of the company of the ‘lifers’; these were the temps. Short for ‘temporary’. They were so unpredictable, you never knew who would still be here the next day, or who’d be passed out in the ditch as the circus party headed for the next town, leaving the drunk behind.
He heard the sounds before he saw them, and his insides clenched. Was he too late?
Grunts and guffaws echoed out from the darkened alley, and he recognized the scene from his vision with revulsion. A body came hurtling towards him from the back of the alley and slammed into him. It was the youngest sister and she must’ve recognized him because even through her sobbing she clung to him with a desperate grip.
“My sister,” she managed, before reverting back to indistinguishable sobs. “My sister,” she repeated.
He peeled her off him and set her aside, under the bright lights of the menagerie tent. “Stay here,” he said. He didn’t wait for an answer because she was still sobbing. Instead, he headed into the unlit alley.
He did quick checks with his gift while he walked. Ten seconds out. Clear. Fifteen. Clear. Twenty. Not so good. There was going to be a guy just ahead, behind that crate. Lukas reacted a split second before his attacker and caught him around the throat. He squeezed and slammed the guy on the ground without a word. His would-be attacker struggled against him, but Lukas held firm. Physical strength was another of his gifts and he rarely used it for violence; unless it was unavoidable. His attacker ceased his struggles and fell silent. Lukas rose, still checking ahead with his gift. He saw what the three men up ahead planned on doing to the oldest sister and shut his visions off after that. Even if it alerted him to an attack, he couldn’t bear to watch the possible future unfold. He had to stop it.
He walked right into the group of partiers, and they were so far gone they didn’t even recognize him as an outsider until he’d punched the closest one square across the jaw, sending him sprawling backwards.
“Hey,” the other two shouted. They lunged towards him but it was like slow motion. The stench of alcohol that clung to them was revolting. Lukas held his breath and waded into the fight with both hands. He was dimly aware of the frightened girl, crouching behind some crates, and whimpering. He ignored her and focused on the fight. On the meeting of his fists to the men’s faces. Then their ribs. Then their throats. When he finally stood and wiped the sweat from his brow, none of them were moving. He hoped they stayed unconscious until the tents were rolled and loaded and they were halfway to the next town. Otherwise, he’d have to face them again. And he wasn’t sure he could leave them alive if that happened.
“You okay?” he asked, turning back to the girl.
He couldn’t see her face, even this close, but he could see the silhouette of her arm, and he took it gently in his hand and pulled her to her feet.
“I think so,” she whispered. He could hear the fear and panic in those three words, but she managed to hold it together and let him lead her out of the alley.
Justine, the youngest, was waiting under the lights. She ran to her sister and they clung to each other in a fierce hug. Lukas stood aside and waited as long as he could before breaking them apart with a hand on the eldest’s shoulder.
“You should get going,” he said quietly. “Get home.”
The eldest nodded at him. “Thank you,” she said.
“Yes, thank you, Hocus Pocus,” said Justine, tears still streaming down her face. She sniffled and clung to her sister but she was smiling at him.
“All in a day’s work,” he answered, going with the cliché again.
He nudged them forward and followed them all the way to the parking lot. When they got in their car and drove off, he stood there, smiling, as he watched the vision of the oldest sister’s life play out before his eyes. It was long and full.
He’d saved another one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

giveaway winner and free copies of DreamKiller

I'm so excited to announce the winner of the pawprint earrings giveaway. Congratulations to:


Thanks for becoming a blog follower and enjoy the earrings. You'll also be getting a signed bookmark for Dirty Blood. =) Enjoy!

Now, I promised info on how to win free copies - yes, more than one - of DreamKiller, Book 1 & 2 - the combined version. Here's the deets:

Shana at A Book Vacation is doing a special 2-day review post today and tomorrow for 1 and 2 and she will be giving away 5 copies of DreamKiller to 5 lucky winners, in the e-book format of your choice. So make sure to get over there and enter to win one of those!

And Wednesday, she will be posting a special short story prequel to DreamKiller that I've written from Lukas' point of view. It involved his days in the circus as a fortune teller and gives a great look at some of his past before joining the other 'specials' and meeting Marlena. That's all the details I can spill for now, so be sure to check that out tomorrow.

Oh and one more thing:  THREE more days until Descended by Blood by Angeline Kace!!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

new DreamKiller available!

DreamKiller, Book 1 and 2 is now available on Amazon for .99. It's a combined version of the two I already have out and is a better value at .99 total (instead of .99 for each segment.) Here's the cover:

There will be a special giveaway coming up, too, so check back (hint: Tuesday) for more details and where you can go to win a copy. 

And DON'T FORGET to enter in the comments section in the post below for the paw print earrings. Giveaway ends 8/22. Just leave your name and email addy in the comments. You can follow my blog for an extra entry, just let me know your GFC username. I'll announce the winners for that and the giveaway deets for DreamKiller, Book 1 and 2 on Tuesday. Here's the earrings if you haven't already seen them:

Adorable!! And, if you haven't already heard of my DreamKiller series, here's the 4-1-1:

Most people's dreams are hazy and long forgotten by the time their eyes blink open. Most people's dreams don't literally come true either. Marlena's do...

In Book 1:
Little Hearts Orphanage has always been a safe haven for 'special' individuals. Azura, the headmistress, has gone to great lengths to ensure the resident's true abilities remain secret from those who would exploit them. Her mantra: The secret must be protected at all costs.
That's where Marlena comes in. Raised in the orphanage, under Azura's wing, she has committed herself and her 'gifts' to Azura's service - and to wiping out those who seek to expose Marlena and the others for what they truly are.

Book 2:
In the last thirty-six hours, Marlena’s entire world has shifted. She trusted her gut, and the word of a stranger, defied the only parental figure she’s ever known, and went up against the most powerful tracker the ‘Specials’ had ever seen.
Now Korian is dead and Azura has named Marlena the number one suspect. She has no choice but to hide. In a seedy apartment in the slums of downtown, Lukas tells her the truth about how she became an orphan.
It’s time to decide where Marlena will place her loyalty and whether the truth warrants a fight or flight…

DreamKiller 1& 2 is a combined volume of both short stories currently available in the Specials Series. It is a short story totaling 15,000 words.

Fans of X-men and Heroes, this is for you!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dirty Blood is getting a makeover

Hey peeps. If you haven't already heard (which means you haven't yet been on Facebook or Twitter today) there's big news: Dirty Blood got a facelift!!!

I've been working with the amazingly talented author - and cover artiste - Sara Reine, author of Six Moon Summer, to come up with something new and edgy that I think fits the series as we begin to move forward, beyond book one. Sara claims she only does the cover thing as a hobby, in between writing, and I agree she is a very talented author and should keep writing, but she's also amazing with cover art and swag and pretty much anything else I've asked her to make for me. So I need to send out a big, fat Thank You, Sara!!! I can't wait to continue the cover project and start on book 2!

Alright so.... here it is:

Since you can't see me right now I'll just tell you, every time I look at this thing I grin really big and stupid because I love it. =)

I've also asked a few blogger friends to help me reveal this so there are several places you can go to catch another glimpse of this fabulous cover AND get yourself entered into one of the giveaways that EACH blogger is hosting for a chance to win an ebook copy of Dirty Blood. Here's the list:

Nightly Reading
Coffee Mugged
Paranormal Opinion
The Unlocked Diary
LovLivLife Reviews
Sleep, Eat, Read
Seeing Night 
Bookish Babes
A Life Bound By Books
Jamie B Musings
A Cupcake and a Latte
Sassy Book Lovers
AwesomeSauce Book Club

Make sure you go and enter at one (or all) of these places. In the meantime, I've decided to do my own fancy, shmancy giveaway for all the werewolf lovers, whether you've read Dirty Blood yet, or not. And I'm excited because this is the first in a series of giveaways I'll be doing over the next few months all using these awesome wolf charms! Check it out:

Aren't they awesome!! The stone is a dark red (like the color of blood) and the paw prints are silver. Krystle, my personal swag/jewelry designer, is a genius!

Alright, so to enter, leave your name and email in the comments below. You can follow my blog to gain an extra entry, just make sure you let me know what your email address is or have it listed on your profile somewhere. The giveaway ends on August 22nd, I'll hold a random drawing, and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

Friday, August 12, 2011

I spy a tease....

My living room looks sort of like an I Spy game right now. You know the ones; where there's a whole page FULL of clutter and you're supposed to find a fish, an eyeball, a yo-yo, and a Tootsie Roll wrapper... or something like that. Yeah, except in mine you would find the red marker, a gold pirate coin, (sadly, a fake) and maybe a AA battery.

Seriously, my living room floor is covered in coloring books, crayons, markers, (my 5 yr old's new favorite hobby- along with finishing everyone's sentence with "Your Mom.") the couch pillows, a knight's shield, a toy army tank, today's newspaper, a toy drum set, flip flops, a deck of cards, sunglasses, color-it-yourself posters, a monster truck, a washcloth, shorts.... and a partridge in a pear tree.

The thing you have to understand, though, is that my house is not usually messy like this. I'm not so much a neat freak as 'anti-clutter'. A product of a cluttered childhood home. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't dirty or gross or a hoarder house (my aunt teases my mother that she's a hoarder and she gets really pissy about it, kind of hilarious) or anything, but the house was small to begin with and there was just stuff everywhere. Magazines, knick knacks, toys, stuff you don't need but you can't throw away. Because of it, I am so anti-clutter that when stress gets to be too much, my therapy isn't just cleaning but throwing things away. Seriously. I'll feel much better if I can throw stuff away. The bigger it is, the better I feel. I don't know why.

And yes, somehow I still manage to own furniture.

(If I start to run low on potential trash, I might open a business that advertises me coming to your home and throwing away your clutter... backup career.)

Anyway my living room. Its the new I Spy. Not normal for me but then, it's summer, and I do have kids, and I just haven't really cared that much lately. Probably being sick for part of the week had something to do with it. And being pregnant. I don't have the jaw-set determination to do ALL the housework myself anymore. My kids (8 and 5) are doing more and more. Like laundry, and mopping, and dishes. And have you ever seen a 5 year old wash a pot and pan? Not exactly sanitary when it's finished. But I smile and put it away anyway and I don't bother rewashing it until right before I need to use it again. That way he thinks he did a great job. Besides, with baby #3 on the way, its high time I let go of all the OCDness that makes me do everything on my own. It's just not going to happen. I need help. And if help comes in the form of little midget fingers then so be it.

On another note, something exciting happening Monday so stay tuned. Major giveaways and fun news. I won't say any more because I've always been such a tease (just ask my 9th grade boyfriend) but you will like it and in the end, unlike him, you will be satisfied. Just check back on Monday. =)

Oh! I Spy a fly swatter!

Have you read this yet?

Monday, August 1, 2011

I should be writing, not writing

I feel guilty a lot lately. Like no matter what I'm doing, I should really be writing. I'm only accountable to myself though and anytime that happens, its easy to fall off the wagon and justify stupid stuff. But seriously, its been hard to write this summer. As I'm sure all of you who have kids know. But its not just them. I wish I could blame it all on them. Its tempting. But its also me. I'm easily distracted and I love summer so if there's something fun to do, I get all "Oh, something shiny!" and toss the computer aside and grab the car keys and run. Even when I'm "working" in other ways, like checking my FB and Twitter and managing my giveaways and other stuff that I've dubbed as "work" so that I don't have to be specific when my kids want something and I have to get them to go away by saying, "Mommy's working". Even then, I still feel like I'm slacking. Just like I'm doing with this very blog post. Slacking. I'm not even writing about anything important or exciting. I'm writing about the fact that I should be writing.

But the fact is, I've gone and said something I can't take back. I've said, many times over now, that book 2: Cold Blood will be out by the end of the year. And even now, when I finally got serious and started putting in my 2k words a day, I'm still only about halfway done. I don't like that. I want to be all the way done because I require a lot of time for edits and rewrites to make myself feel better. And even though it might sound like no big deal to just change the release date, it is because I am the type that can't stand the thought of feeling like i lied. Also, for those of you who are coming into this late or just plain missed that post, I'm pregnant. And due in December. And I know that if I don't get this book out before baby comes, it won't get here til Spring. Or the ending will be really weird based on writing it when I was sleep deprived or something. So I have to finish. Which means I need to end this whiny blog post and go write.

P.S. Don't forget my Goodreads giveaway is going on until August 8 for a signed paperback of Dirty Blood. If you haven't entered, go now.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

how to run a rock band

As I'm writing this, I'm listening to the sounds of my two kids and their two cousins "jam" on their guitars and whine some "Baby, Baby, Baby, Oh..." (It's a Justin Bieber impression. If you don't know who that is, stop reading right now and check for a pulse!) The oldest is my girl and she's been bossy since she could kick from the womb so it's not always smooth sailing for the band. Especially when cousin #1 is just as bossy - usually - but will most of the time bow to daughter's proclamations. Though, not always. Those are the sticky situations. My son knows Justin Bieber just enough to almost get some of the words right. Plus, he's convinced he's a rock star stuck in a 5 yr old's body. (He knows every word to every song from High School Musical) So, he's the lead singer. But bossy daughter chimes in a lot because she can't stand to be out of the spotlight for even a second. Cousin #2 is almost 5 but she has 'baby of the family' syndrome so she doesn't assert herself like she could. She just goes with the flow and knows she's cute. She's also a peacemaker personality at heart, so she mostly ignores the bickering that breaks out. But every once in awhile, she'll feel undermined or wrong and she'll let you know about yourself in her sing-song 2 yr old commentary that's just cute enough that no one gets mad at her for it.

Now I can hear them arguing over whether it's "Baby, baby, baby ohhh" OR "Baby, baby, baby, oooooh" and I think I finally understand how easily a band breakup can happen. I saw it in 'That Thing You Do' and now I'm seeing it again in my living room. Artists are temperamental creatures.

Very soon this band thing will fizzle out or maybe even explode and I am predicting a branching off. Two bands will form out of the one. New alliances will be made and for awhile the arguing will be cut to a minimum while each side gives the other the silent treatment. Then they will create a peace treaty of sorts and maybe even make a comeback for a reunion tour, until bossy daughter says something rock star son doesn't like and then cousin #1 will put in her two cents and side with whoever's apparently "right" and the peacemaker cousin will go off with whoever's left over, again creating two sides whose behavior will remind me a lot of the Cold War.

In between all of this, approximately every ten seconds, they'll come in and ask me to be the audience and will 'perform' a song for me, where i have to turn away from my computer and give them my full attention, or risk their wrath for trying to multi-task (write AND listen). Then I'll get treated to a mumbled version of "There's a fire burning in my soul..." or the bridge to a Justin Bieber song or the background vocals to "This place is about to bloo-oow." Or something else equally random.

Oh look, now peacemaker cousin is upset. It must be really bad if she's crying. She won't say why and I've decided not to ask. She can cry it out in bossy daughter's bedroom and come back when she's got it together. Sometimes, its just easier that way.

At some point during all of this I have to find time to work on Cold Blood. Where's the hubby, you ask? Duty. (Yes the kids laugh every time we say that word.) Which means he's gone 'til tomorrow and I'm on my own in controlling the drama. I know I'm not the only mother/writer who struggles with my-kids-are-at-home-for-the-summer-itis. I just thought I'd give you a taste of what I'm up against. Just because I don't work outside the home doesn't mean I have all the time in the world to write. And for the other mommy/writers out there: I'd love to hear your stories. Feel free to leave them in the comments section!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Skip-Bo: a family tradition & Sample Sunday

Whew. Vacation is over. So is the vacation from the vacation. I definitely needed both. Family time was AWESOME! With a capital Awe. I missed my sister - she lives in GA with her new hubby - and we got to be goofy all week and laugh at crap that no one else in the whole world would probably understand or think is funny. And we played Skip-Bo. It's a card game. Sounds dorky. probably is. I learned to play with my grandparents. Probably because Canasta was still too complicated for me back then. Probably still is. Anyway, the tradition is Skip-Bo and laugh at everything like your drunk when your really not and mess with/annoy my mother. It's a fun tradition. You should try it in your own family. It's the best quality time ever.

So, yeah, vacation was fun. And since we've been back, we've done the pool, the beach, cooked out with friends, and laid around the house. Like I said, a vacation from the vacation. Beautiful. Well, except for the beach, where it's apparently already jellyfish season, and needless to say, I didn't get in the water.

Okay, enough about all that. Today is Sample Sunday and before I post another sneek peek of Dirty Blood, I want to remind everybody that right now you can buy Dirty Blood for your Kindle for just .99. So, if you read today's sample and need to have the rest, go check it out here. Okay enjoy:

“So, do all Werewolves have extra… gifts, or is it just you?”
“Most Werewolves can manipulate memory on some level. It helps us keep our secret.”
“But how do you do it?” I pressed.
“Shouldn’t you be more concerned with your role in all of this?” he snapped.
I blinked, trying to figure out what I’d said to make him suddenly so irritated. “I guess I hadn’t gotten to that part yet.”
He spread his arms wide. “Well, here we are.”
My eyes narrowed. I was tired of his attitude and instead of feeling guilty for having somehow caused it, it was making me angry. “No, here I am. Thanks for helping me last night, but I’m fine. You don’t still have to be here.”
“Actually I do,” he argued.
“And why is that?”
“To determine what kind of threat you are.”
“Threat? To who?”
“Werewolves, of course.”
“But she came after me. I was defending myself.”
“Still, only a Hunter would’ve had that kind of strength. Which means, it could happen again. It’s only a matter of time before you figure yourself out and when that happens, I need to know whose side you’ll be on.”
I was trying to follow what he was saying, but none of it was making any sense. “There are sides?”
He didn’t elaborate. I tried to keep the irritation out of my voice. “Okay, well we won’t know which side I’m on until I understand all of this, so how about you fill me in, from the beginning.”
He frowned and I was sure he was going to refuse, so it surprised me when he started talking. “Liliana was in town for the night and said she wanted to meet up. We’d been… working on something together. I was running late so I cut through the alley, which is the only reason I found you. By then, Liliana was already down, and you looked like you were going into shock. I couldn’t have you running back inside and bringing humans into it, so I decided to help you.”
I hadn’t missed the way he’d hesitated over why he’d been meeting Liliana. Was it possible they’d been a couple? If so, no wonder he seemed pissed. I didn’t ask about it, though. Something told me it would end the conversation, and there was still plenty more I wanted to know. “You called me a Hunter.”
He nodded. “You must be. It’s the only possible way you’d have the strength to kill one of us.” He gave me a strange look before continuing. “The thing is, I don’t even get a feeling from you, or - I do but it’s not like a normal Hunter would feel. It’s… I don’t know. Which definitely makes no sense. Added to that, you obviously have zero training and no weapons so you can understand why I’m more than a little curious about you.”
“Why didn’t you tell me any of this last night?”
He gave me a pointed look. “You were pretty shaken up. I don’t think it would’ve gone over well.”
“I’m fine now,” I said, lifting my chin a little.
He raised an eyebrow. “Are you?”
“Okay, whatever, I lost it. Anyone would have, in my situation. But I’m dealing with it now and I’m not going to freak out. That won’t happen again.”
“Yes, it will.” He cut me off before I could argue. “Not you freaking out – at least I hope not – but the attack, killing a Werewolf. That part will happen again. If one found you, so can others, and even though I can’t sense ‘Hunter’ on you, I can only assume Liliana did. Which means they will too, and they’ll attack as soon as they feel it.”
“Whatever, you’re just trying to scare me.”
He didn’t respond but the look he sent me left no question that he was serious.
Knowing he was right did weird things to my gut. It was scary, once you got over the hump and believed it all. Who wanted to have to look over their shoulder for angry Werewolves their whole lives? But, if this was all real – and I was slowly starting to recognize that it was – then I needed to be prepared.  I needed to face it. The truth was always better than a lie, no matter how scary it might be. “Alright, then, so what do I do?” I asked.
“First off, we need to figure out if you really are a Hunter.”
“How do we do that?”
“The best way is to get you around some others who can maybe sense you better. Are you sure you’ve recovered from the shock, though?”
An image popped into my head, of seeing my reflection in the bathroom mirror – after. The look on my face had been shock and underneath it, pure terror. “I think I must’ve been afraid of myself a little,” I admitted. “But yes, I’m fine now. Promise.”
He nodded and his expression was almost understanding. He studied me a minute longer. “C’mon,” he finally said, rising from my desk chair. “Get dressed.”
“What? Why?”
“I’m going to take you to see someone. Try to figure this thing out.” He put the chair back underneath the desk and took up his original position, leaning against the doorframe.
I didn’t move from the bed. “Who?”
“Friends. Like I said, maybe they can get a read on you.”
I had no idea what he meant by ‘a read on’ me, but I was interested in answers. Still, I didn’t know where he might take me, or to whom. It could be dangerous, some kind of trap.
“I’m not going to hurt you and neither will anyone else,” Wes added quietly, seeing my hesitation.
I had no idea why I was making him promise. I still didn’t know if I could fully trust him, but right now he was my only shot at finding the truth. And scary as it was, I needed to know the truth. Some things were just too big to brush under the rug. This was definitely one of them.
I flung the covers aside and hopped up, making my way towards the bathroom. I felt Wes’ eyes on me, and my cheeks heated up in automatic response. His gaze lingered on my abdomen, and only then did I remember my shirt was short enough to reveal the ends of the scratches along my ribs. Then, my cheeks flushed even more as I realized he hadn’t been checking me out in the way I’d assumed. I turned away, hoping he hadn’t noticed my embarrassment, and booked it to the bathroom. On the way, I reached out and scooped up a pair of jeans and a fresh shirt from the laundry basket.
I threw the clothes on and ran a brush through my tangled hair, using the rest of the time for makeup. Dark circles ringed my eyes, and I did my best to cover them. Halfway satisfied, I reached for the door, and paused. I really had no idea where Wes was taking me, or who – or what – I’d be meeting. Maybe whoever I met would be mad that I’d killed Liliana.
I needed a weapon- something I could conceal on my body but easily accessible, if needed. I looked around the tiny bathroom. The choices were limited. I didn’t think my razor would do much good, unless my attacker stopped and demanded a haircut. Makeup brushes and bottles of foundation littered the counter, along with my toothbrush. Again, no good.
My eyes landed on the plunger tucked behind the toilet. I grabbed it and held one end of the wooden handle in each hand. Using my knee as a brace, I brought it down hard, and had the satisfaction of watching it break off at the bottom. I snapped the wood again, so I now held a piece in each hand, and stuffed them into my back pockets, using my shirt to cover them up. I threw the rubber end into the cabinet to hide it from my mom. It would have to do.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Places I'll be while I'm gone

A big fat summer hello to all my readers. *waves&grins* I just got in from the beach so I'm feeling very warm and summery and fun right now. I also wanted you all to know I am going to be out of town for a few days so I wanted to post today with some goodies, giveaways, and general places you can find me while I'm gone. (If that last part makes any kind of sense then good for you.)

Goodies: This sort of goes hand in hand with giveaways, because prizes in the form of books are the best goodies, in my opinion. First, I am doing another Goodreads giveaway for a signed paperback of Dirty Blood. The giveaway runs until 8/8 but go ahead over there now and enter so you don't forget. You can enter here.

Another fun one is the Great Indie Summer read Giveaway over at coffeemugged. Katja is awesome because she's managed to coordinate over a hundred books and prizes for this giveaway which goes on through sometime in August so get over there and find out all the ways you can get entered for that one.

One more is a HUGE giveaway going on over at Jagged Edge's blog for TONS of books and swag, including a chance to win a signed paperback of either Dirty Blood or Across the Galaxy.

Whew. Okay, I think that's it. I could be wrong and if I forgot one, oops.

Something else cool happening is on Tuesday night, some book reviewers over on JournalJabber will be doing a live blogtalk radio show, discussing one of my favorite topics: werewolves. more specifically, they will be talking about Dirty Blood, along with other awesome werewolf titles. You can go here for the details and you can listen in or join in the chat room to put in your two cents about Dirty Blood. I will try and connect for this but not sure about the sketchy service I might have when it comes to cell phones and internet connections in the mountains. So its iffy. But check it out and support them. Cambria, one of the reviewers doing the show, won a contest I ran awhile back and she is getting a character named after her in Cold Blood. So excited for that!

Now, last but not least, I will TRY, in the midst of the mountain of packing I have to do yet, to post a #samplesunday post (slightly early) later tonight. If I do, I'm going to post it over on the Accendo Press blog. So keep checking over there. It's Let me know what you think.

Alright readers. I'm off. Out like a fat girl in dodge ball. Have a fabuloso week!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sample Sunday: Dirty Blood

My memory went fuzzy and I let the images fade away. I couldn’t even remember leaving school. What bug could I have possibly caught that had erased my memory of an entire evening? I wasn’t even sure the flu could cause something like this. But what else could it be? Nothing like this had ever happened before. Not even the night of my friend Sam’s sixteenth birthday party; I’d had way too much to drink that night; some fruity concoction that had smelled like strawberries on alcoholic steroids. The highlight had been when I’d fallen into the pool and almost drowned. George had jumped in and ‘saved me’ by pulling on me until I realized it was only four feet of water. Even then, I’d remembered most of it the next day- unfortunately - which was why I’d vowed never to drink again. But this… this felt different. I was starting to get worried.
I sighed, and rolled over, ignoring the ache it caused in my shifting muscles. Random pieces of clothing littered the carpet in my room; evidence of my tendency towards laundry procrastination. Nearest my bed, a scrap of bright red fabric caught my eye. A silk v-neck blouse, my favorite, lay in a heap, under a still- damp towel. I reached down and yanked it free, trying to remember when I’d last worn it. I thought it was still in my closet. Then I looked closer. The shirt was torn in several places, the silky fabric hanging by threads in some places. I stared at it as an uneasy feeling washed over me. A picture flashed in my mind: me, staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, hair disheveled and sticking out. The tattered shirt hung off my shoulders and exposed my ribs on either side. Bloody scratches showed through the tears in the fabric.
I dropped the shirt, and sucked in a sharp breath. Hesitantly, I pushed the covers away and lifted up my Pink Panther pajama tee. In several places along my ribs, I could see scratches running jaggedly down my torso. They were clean, and shallow, like I’d been in a fight with a cat. Only problem, I didn’t have a cat.
“What the…?” I said, to the empty room.
“Could’ve been worse,” a male voice answered.
My head snapped up. A boy with bronzed brown hair and eyes to match leaned against the frame of my bedroom door.
I gripped the covers, my knuckles white with the effort. “Who are you? What are you doing in here?” Despite my voice’s earlier croaking, I managed a shriek just fine.
“Calm down, Tara, I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.
His tone was calm and a little patronizing, but he’d said my name with familiarity. That surprised me enough to block out the fear for a moment. “How do you know me?”
“The same way you know me. We met last night. I’m Wes.”
“I don’t know who you are, but you need to leave, or I’m calling the police.” I grabbed my cell phone off the nightstand without breaking eye contact. I held it up in the air, like a weapon.
He pushed off from the doorway, taking a step into the room. The black leather of his jacket crinkled as he moved. “Look, I don’t want to hurt you any more than you already are, but I’m not leaving, either, so you might as well put the phone down. Besides, you agreed to ‘discreet’ remember?”
I stared at him with wide eyes. “What do you mean, hurt me more than I already am? Did you do this to me? Did we-?” Oh God. Visions of after school specials and date rape warnings from Health class danced in my head.
Halfway across the room, he turned and grabbed my desk chair, spinning it around to face the bed before sitting down. “No, I didn’t.” His lips twitched. “And no, we didn’t.”
I breathed a silent prayer of thanks and then returned to glaring at him. “But you know who did this to me?”
I waited, and then realized he wasn’t going to say more. “Well? Are you going to tell me who it was?”
“I haven’t decided.”
I threw my hands up in frustration. “Then why are you here? What do you want?”
“I told you, I want to talk to you.”
Something about the tone of his voice, the cadence of his words, unnerved me. It was familiar, but it wasn’t. I stared at him for a full minute, waiting for some memory to fall into place about where we might’ve met. Nothing came, but I got that same uneasy feeling I’d had when the torn shirt had been in my hands; something unfamiliar and unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I know it probably sounded silly because I’d only been around him for a few minutes, but I got the distinct feeling he was nothing like anyone I’d ever met before. Not even close.
I squared my shoulders. “So talk,” I said, trying to sound tough.
But he didn’t, not right away. He just continued to watch me with cool, studying eyes. They roamed my face and arms, and then glanced speculatively at the comforter I still held up to my chin.
“Strong, amazingly strong,” he said quietly, almost to himself.
“What do you remember about last night?” he asked, abruptly.
His eyes found mine and I was struck by their unique color. Last summer, I’d taken a trip to California, to visit my grandmother. She and I had hiked to the top of a bluff that overlooked a forest, thick with redwoods, and picnicked there, just the two of us. His eyes reminded me of the redwoods; a swirling mixture of tawny brown.
I blinked, trying to remember the question. “Nothing, actually. Which is pretty frustrating, let me tell you. Are you finally going to tell me where these scratches came from?”
“Like I said, it wasn’t me. I just happened to come along at the right time.”
“What does that mean?”
My cell phone rang, cutting off his response. I looked around, only to remember I still held it in my hand. I loosened my grip and glanced at the screen.
“Go ahead,” Wes said, gesturing towards the ringing phone. “I’ll wait.”
I flipped open the phone. “Hello?”
“George. Hey.”
“Are you okay? Angela was in the office and heard that your mom called and said you were sick.”
I hesitated. I’d fully intended to disclose my situation –a.k.a. scream for help - to the first person who called and then wait to be rescued from Wes, the crazy bedroom stalker. I glanced over at him, wondering why he’d even let me answer the phone at all. If he was going to hurt me, he could’ve done it already – and he definitely wouldn’t have let me take this call. His eyes glinted back at me, in a silent challenge. He was willing to risk me telling someone? Why? What exactly was going on here?
“Yeah, I’m sick,” I said finally. “The flu, I think.”
“Listen, Tay, about last night. I really think we should talk about this.”
As soon as I realized where this was going, my headache began pounding in time to George’s voice. “George, I don’t feel good. Now’s not a good time.”
“Okay, I get it.” I could almost hear his shoulders slumping. “Can I call you later?”
I hesitated. “Yeah, sure.”
We hung up and I found Wes watching me. “You didn’t scream for help.”
I met his eyes; yep, definitely a challenge there. “I want to know what’s going on. What happened to me last night?”
“You were attacked.”
I nodded. His answer wasn’t all that surprising. I had figured as much, after seeing the scratches on my abdomen. I just hoped that ‘attack’ didn’t mean… I wouldn’t think about that. “Attacked by who?”
“Her name was Liliana.”        
“I was attacked by a girl?” Okay, I know that probably sounds sexist, but I’d fully expected my attacker to be male. I mean, I’m a seventeen year old high school student. I’ve seen the after-school specials. I know what “attacked” usually means for a girl like me.
Wes ran a hand through his hair, further tousling it, and shifted in the chair. “What do you remember?”
 “Nothing.” Then I added, “Actually I remembered one thing, a flash of something really.  Of looking at myself in the mirror, bloody and bruised. But that’s it.”
“Hmm. It must’ve worked better than I thought.” He was staring at a spot on the wall; he seemed to be talking to himself again.
His reticence was really getting annoying. “Would you just spit it out already? Why was I attacked?”
“Fine. I don’t know what started it. I wasn’t there for that part. By the time I got there, Liliana was already on the ground.”
“On the ground? You mean I hurt her?”
“Yes, which was definitely a surprise to me and why I’m here now. But what you need to know is that Liliana was more than just some girl. She was a Werewolf.”
Wes might’ve kept talking after that, but all sound and movement suddenly ceased for me. I was still stuck on that last word: Werewolf. I would have laughed out loud right then, but there was no denying Wes was serious. He absolutely believed that this Liliana girl was a Werewolf and the look on his face told me arguing wouldn’t change a thing. This just figured. The hottest guy I’d ever seen, alone with me in my room, and he was completely whacked.
I abruptly cut off whatever he was saying. “You seriously just said Werewolf, didn’t you?”
He stopped, midsentence, and his shoulders sagged a little. “Yeah.”
“Do I need to explain how crazy that sounds?” I decided my wording might be better than ‘you’re crazy’, which is what I was thinking.
“What I don’t get is what you are,” he said, basically ignoring my question.           
“Hello? Are you listening to me?”
“Yeah, just trying to figure this out,” he said, distractedly.
“That makes two of us,” I muttered.
He sighed, like he was getting impatient. “This will be easier for you when you remember. Close your eyes.”
“Close your eyes.”
“I’m going to help you remember.”


Hope you enjoyed the sample of Dirty Blood. If you want to read the rest of the story, you can buy it on Amazon for your Kindle, or go to Smashwords, and download it in the format of your choice. Check back next week for another sneek peek!