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!

Friday, July 1, 2011

the Destroyer on Amazon!

Destroyer World: The Movie That Never WasSomething exciting to check out! One of my favorite authors, and a good friend, Warren Murphy has a new site up: that is dedicated to his best-selling Destroyer series. The website has a list of the Destroyer books that are now available on Amazon, and buy links to all of the available books. If you know anything about this series then you know there is a slew of titles (over 100!), all of which will eventually be available for purchase as they get them reformatted and uploaded. And if you haven't read any of this series, go to Amazon and check it out. Even if you download just the sample for now, give it a shot. You will love it. You can read more about other books by Warren here, along with a list of books you can expect to be available as a Kindle book in the coming months.

Also, be sure to check out the Great Indie Summer Read Giveaway over at coffeemugged. Dirty Blood was featured, along with a ton of other great books, including Stuck on You by Kathy Carmichael, and Darker Things by Rob Cornell. Make sure you go enter!