Current projects

So I actually have been writing lately. 🙂

I finished up revisions on a Shadowguard prequel, Severed Spirits Rising, the other day. I’ve been sitting on it for, man, a couple years now. I had some really nasty crap happen right around when I finished it that resulted in me leaving it be. That, and the fact that Shadowguard has not sold as well as I would like; as much as I love the setting and characters, I can’t justify spending the time with it right now.

I found that it was on the upper end of acceptability for Tor.com, so figured, hey, what the hell? It’s just sitting on my hard drive. So I fixed up the ending and my writing buddy Robert spent all night going over it with me and tightening so it fit the word count limit. We’ll see where that goes. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, since I’m competing with authors like Catherynne Valente here, but hey, what the hell, right? 🙂

As far as other writing, I’m working on Stronger than the Night again. This one has come and gone so many times over the years. It’s in the same setting as the Shadowguard stories but told from a different perspective; where Shadowguard focuses on Arielle and the FBI side of the world, Stronger comes at it from the side of the “monsters”, the paranormal underworld. Initially, I wrote it nearly ten years ago, when I was 17, but I’ve changed and grown a lot as a writer since then. (I should certainly hope so!) I started rewriting it a few years ago but stalled out with all the drama.

I picked it back up again to finish recently. And I made a massive change to the story. I’ve made a somewhat interesting revelation recently, which is that I’ve had a very hard time writing romances, or romantic subplots, with men. It’s not that I have anything against it, but I’ve been wanting to write love stories between women for years now, and I kept putting it off because — it won’t sell, or nobody wants to read it, or I shouldn’t write it because people in my crit group think I shouldn’t.

And I was thinking about Stronger and a thought came to me. What about changing the male lead’s gender? What about making him a woman? I initially disregarded it but it kept nagging at me, because Alex always was a more feminine sort of guy. Feminine man but he’d be a slightly butch woman. And then I realized that it fit in with the rest of the theme of the planned series. The rest of the books? Book 2 is a lesbian romance, 3 is a gay romance, and 4 involves a transgendered woman as love interest. Starting off with a straight relationship didn’t give a good idea of the rest of the series.

Plus, it’s something a little different in the sea of dark broody alpha males. 🙂

I have a couple other things up my sleeves but they’re taking backseat to Stronger right now. I have twelve scenes left and then I’m finished with the book! And then I get to jump into revising the first half of the story, which needs some fairly massive work.

But there is progress! 😀

The Shadow Unveiled now available!

The Shadow Unveiled releases today from Liquid Silver Books! 😀 I’ve blogged about this before, but in case you haven’t caught it, the blurb and excerpt are available here (or, poke around the website, and you’ll find it too).

This book was one of the most difficult I’ve written to date. The story is darker than The Twilight Deception, as Arielle and Jackson address deep emotional issues and things that never had time to come up in the first story. Balancing that darkness with Arielle’s light humor was difficult, to say the least. Additionally, I had a lot going on myself behind the scenes, so … yeah, very difficult.

I’m ecstatically happy to see TSU make it to release. I worked hard on this, and I hope y’all love it as much as I do. 😀

Writers, what is the most difficult thing you’ve written to date and why? Readers, what’s the most difficult story you’ve read? (Or, conversely, if you’d like to answer what one of the hardest things you’ve done in your life in general, that’s fine too!) Commenters will be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of The Shadow Unveiled. I’ll leave the contest open for about a week. 🙂

I’ve been bad…

I’ve had news and been neglecting to post to the blog here — oops! I hope y’all will forgive me, or at least not torture me too much. Just a little to the right, now, there. 😉

The Shadow Unveiled, direct sequel to The Twilight Deception starring Arielle and Jackson, is slated for release by Liquid Silver Books. And I now have the cover to share! 😀

Isn’t it purty? The artist is Christine Griffin, who did both the Cobblestone and Liquid Silver covers for the first book. I am in awe of her talent.

I bet y’all want a blurb and excerpt to go with this now, hmm? Well, then!

Blurb: Arielle Thompson never expected to fall in love, but now that Jackson is back in her life, she’s got to make room for him in more ways than one. Never mind sorting out living spaces, she has to convince her boss at Shadowguard, the FBI’s top-secret paranormal division, that an alien vampire would be a benefit to their team. But they get their chance to prove Jackson’s worth when reports of blood magic and demonic sacrifices deep in Louisiana surface. Investigation reveals the situation is far more serious than they previously suspected, and Jackson and Arielle must depend on each other once again for survival.

Excerpt:

Rest didn’t happen. I can’t sleep worth shit the night before a mission. I’m too wound up and anxious. Thank God for caffeine pills and Red Bull.

Jackson, on the other hand, didn’t share my insomniac streak. He passed out on the couch around midnight, leaving me alone with my apprehension. Instead of dwelling on what ifs, I busied myself packing the necessities: clothes, mp3 player and earbuds, a couple of books for the flight, and miscellaneous toiletries.

Arms wrapped around me and pulled me close, against a body muscled but not so much that it was uncomfortable. I gasped and jumped at first, starting to shift into a fighting stance, until I realized it was J. I forced myself to relax, letting my head fall back against him. “I thought you were asleep,” I grumbled.

“I was.” J nuzzled my hair and rubbed my belly. “But I could feel your unease. I do not require sleep as humans do, and you need me.”

I bristled. “I don’t need anyone. I’ve been independent and supporting myself for years.”

Jackson chuckled, the vibration passing through me. “I would not think otherwise. But there is no weakness in admitting desire for human comfort, my dear.”

I turned around in his arms, slowly, until I faced him and looked up into his bronzed, aquiline face. “But you’re not human.”

To his credit, he didn’t even wince. “No. I’m not. But that does not mean I have no desires of my own. We are not that different, you and I.”

Too damn true. Sighing, I leaned my head against his chest. “I’m scared, J. I’ve never been in a situation like this before. I’ve never lived with anyone but myself. I’ve had to take care of myself my entire life, and letting anyone else in–is hard.”

“I know,” he murmured into my hair, his breath hot and soothing. “It is difficult for me, as well. It has been many years since I have let anyone this close.”

“What happened?” I glanced up at him, curious.

His jaw tightened, and his eyes turned both hard and sad all at once. “She died.”

“Oh. I’m–sorry.” What else was there to say?

“It is no matter now.” J drew in a deep breath. “It was a very long time ago.”

I thought about asking how long, then decided against. It would be tacky.

“I am glad to be here with you. Thank you for all you have done for me.” Before I could respond, he leaned down to kiss me. His lips caressed mine, softly, and his hands stroked up and down my back.

I moaned, heat surging through my body, desire raging. Growling, I clenched my hands in his shirt, nails digging in. It had been too long, and I wanted him. We hadn’t had a chance to be together since he’d returned–not like that, anyway.

Jackson’s tongue flicked against my lip, and I all but melted. Gooseflesh rose over my body, and I shuddered in his arms, pleasure overtaking me. “Maybe we should move to the bedroom,” I breathed.

“Maybe we should,” he said wickedly and lifted me into his arms, holding me tight.

Contest Winners

As there were a total of 2 entrants in the poetry contest I was holding for The Twilight Deception‘s release contest… instead of closing it, we’ll have 2 winners. 🙂

AJ and Cia, please contact me at [email protected] for your prizes. 😀

Excerpt Monday

Excerpt Monday time! 😀 The following is an excerpt from Severed Spirits Rising, a prequel to my urban fantasy / paranormal romance Shadowguard series with LSB. 🙂

~*~

I made my way to the bar, squeezing my way through the throng of people. “I hate crowds,” I muttered under my breath, strengthening my shields so I didn’t enter the TMI zone. Sometimes being an empath sucks.

Eventually, I got to the bar and let out a sigh of relief. The bartender came up to me, a cheery grin on his face. He almost had to yell to be heard. “What’s your poison?”

“None, thanks,” I yelled back. I fumbled in my pocket for the picture of Nancy and held it up to him. “But I was wondering if you recognized this woman?”

He took a closer look. “Oh, Nan! Yeah, she’s a regular here. Doesn’t dress like that, though.”

I glanced at the frilly white pinafore she wore in the picture and laughed. “No, I would suppose not. When’s the last time you saw her here?”

He held up his hand and walked over to the other bartender and said something to her. She nodded, and he came back to me. “Let’s step outside, where it’s quieter.”

“Great idea,” I said, and followed him outside and down the street a bit. I shivered; it wasn’t that cold outside, but compared to the heat of the club, it might ‘s well have been the Arctic.

“By the way, I’m Jared,” he said with a smile.

“Arielle,” I offered in return, then decided to get the discussion back on track. “So when’s the last time you saw Nancy?”

Jared rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Last Saturday. She didn’t show on Wednesday, which had some of us concerned. She almost never misses a day unless something’s really wrong.” His eyes snapped to me. “Is that why you’re here? Did something happen?”

I bit my lip. Great. Time to drop the bomb. “Nancy died Wednesday night.  The cops ruled it a suicide, but her boyfriend and I don’t think that’s true. We think something else happened.”

His face went pale as a china teacup. “Oh my god. I had no idea.”

Oh, great. Jared looked like he was about to cry. I felt awkward as an anorexic hippo performing Swan Lake. I don’t do comfort well. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I wish there was something I could say.”

His eyes snapped to mine. “There isn’t. But there is something you can do.”

“What?”

“Find out who did this and bring them to justice.” Jared set his jaw, eyes blazing with fury. “It’s too late to save Nan, but maybe you can save someone else from ending up like her.”

“That’s the plan.”

~*~

Check out a few of the other Excerpt Monday pieces here:

Mel Berthier, Urban Fantasy (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal  (PG)
RF Long, Paranormal (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal  (PG 13)

Evie Byrne, Historical Romance (R)
Grace Draven, Fantasy Romance (R)
Cate Hart, YA- Paranormal  (R)

Aislinn Kerry, Paranormal (R)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic – Fantasy (NC 17)

The Twilight Deception release — and contest!

Yay! Release day! The Twilight Deception is officially out from Liquid Silver Books. 😀

When the FBI receives word of vampire-related murders, they order tough-as-nails resident witch Arielle Thompson to investigate. But the last thing Arielle expects is to have her butt saved by a friendly vampire who claims he’s tracking the master vamp responsible for the murders.

Despite her wounded pride, Arielle can’t help her inexplicable attraction to this sexy-as-sin vampire who calls himself simply “Jackson.” He reluctantly informs her that their enemy is far more powerful than reports said — and his powerbase is only increasing.

Arielle and Jackson must team up to stop him, before he grows too powerful to defeat.

I hope it sounds as interesting to y’all, because I certainly had fun writing it. 🙂

Now, the contest…

Everyone in the last contest gave me some great ideas, and I think I will be using a particular one credited to Warinbear over at LiveJournal: poetry. Or, pooh-etry, if you prefer. 😉

Limerick, haiku, sonnet, whatever. Be creative, and make me laugh. But it must match a theme: Darkness, hope, vampires, paranormal, blood, love. Mix, match, however you please. As long as your masterwork has some relation, it’s wide open for the contest.

The winner will receive a free copy of The Twilight Deception and mention in the acknowledgments of the sequel (or, a named walk-on role, if preferred). I’ll name the winner one week from today. 🙂

Have fun! 😀

Release date! Pre-contest contest!

The Twilight Deception will officially release from Liquid Silver Books on June 8th, 2009.

YAY! *pops da bubbly*

I’m so looking forward to this book being out again. It’s the first in a series about Arielle, a witch reluctantly working for the FBI, and Jackson, the alien vampire that turns her world upside down. Murder, magic, mayhem — what more can you want? 😀

(Oh yeah, hot sex. That’s there, too. Really!)

Anyway… as I do with all my releases, I’ll be holding a contest. But! I have no idea what. Yes, I’m drawing a blank. I want to do something that is creative, fun, and quick. I don’t want to stick with Ye Olde “Pick A Number” again.

So! This is where you come in.

Between today (May 30) and June 7, comment to this post with contest ideas. I’ll look them over, and my favorite will win a prize book from my backlist. (Or perhaps a gift certificate to an online booksteller, if the winner already has all my backlist 🙂 )

Just a note — I’ll be running these contests concurrently on LJ and my blog. There will, thus, be TWO winners — one from each!

Sound fun? Okay! On your mark… get set… brainstorm! 😀

New cover! and new site!

Firstly, I want to thank y’all for the comments made on Monday’s excerpt. I had a blast writing that book, and I’m glad that other people seem to like it as much. 😀

Secondly, I have a new website design! If you’re reading this by RSS, please click over and check it out, because it’s gorgeous. I owe major thanks to Ilona Andrews for the header design, and to Rowan Larke for all the work she did getting the theme worked out and colored. Kudos and everlasting gratitude, ladies!

And best for last… *drumroll* I have a new cover!

Isn’t it gorgeous? Christine Griffin did an amazing job! If you’d like to see the full size version, click here. I know what’s going to be my desktop wallpaper for awhile! 😉

Excerpt Monday

I’m participating in Excerpt Monday, organized by the lovely Bria Quinlan and Mel Berthier from Romance Divas. The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming paranormal romance novella from Liquid Silver Books, The Twilight Deception:

~*~

Jackson stared at me like I’d grown a second head, then his expression softened. “She’s beyond help, Arielle. I tried to help when I first found her, but she attacked me and would not relent. I touched her mind. There is nothing there but a frenzied beast.”

“So there’s nothing that can be done?”

He shook his head. “No. The first twenty-four hours are critical. I found her too late.”

“I don’t believe it,” I said flatly. “You’re just trying to make excuses cause you didn’t have the balls to help her.”

Jackson snarled. Faster than I could track, much less counter in my state, he grabbed my shoulders and swung me off the toilet. My back slammed against the wall, and he held me a good foot off the ground. Pissed off, I aimed my knee at his balls, but he moved to the side and slid his hip between my legs, preventing me from striking out again–and exciting me more than a little bit. Bastard.

“I am only going to say this once,” he hissed, eyes wild with fury. “If there had been any hope of it, I would have saved her. Do you think I like what he’s done? He has no respect for human lives, nor those of his own kind! She was beyond hope when I found her, yet I tried anyway. There is nothing that can be done to save her.”

I struggled against him, trying to free myself. Not like it did any good. I’m not weak by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m not a vampire, either, and he had a good advantage on me. “How do I know you’re telling me the truth?”

His mouth distorted into a grimace. “Are you questioning my honor?”

Oops. “Look, I don’t know what it’s like on your world, but around here, honor’s just a dead horse that a few old geezers keep beating.”

Jackson tilted his head, blinking with obvious confusion. “Your people … have no concept of honor?”

“Oh, we have the concept. We just decided it was antiquated and tossed it out the window. We replaced it with Egocentricity 9.0.” I hesitated a moment. “Can you put me down now? This isn’t exactly the most comfortable position, you know.”

His anger given way to shock, Jackson lowered me to the ground. “I hear your words, but I … I cannot believe…”

“You really haven’t been around here long, have you?”

Jackson shook his head mutely, looking totally bewildered. Great. So not only is he an alien vampire, he’s a Klingon vampire with a bad case of culture shock. How lovely.

I clapped him on the shoulder, deciding to ignore the whole pushing-me-up-against-the-wall deal. At least for now. Like it or not, we had to work together if we wanted any chance at finding the dude. Afterwards, on the other hand … “Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it. Now. About that girl and tracking Eliro…”

~*~

If you’re interested in reading more snippets of great work, check out these other Excerpt Monday blogs:

Aislinn Kerry

Elise Logan

Crista McHugh

Kirsten Saell

RF Long

and check out the main Excerpt Monday page for a full list of participants! Enjoy! 😀

Yay!

Final edits turned in, and I believe The Twilight Deception is off to the copyeditor’s. I think we’re waiting on cover art because there was a snag that took some time to sort out, but hopefully I should have a release date soon. 😀

Now, to work on Book 2…