A sneaky-peeky gift for you!

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As promised, here’s a very early peek at the first two chapters of a new series.  I don’t want to give too much away, but here are a few tidbits to tide you over. This is from what is technically the prequel novella, explaining how Caroline gets tangled up with Darien and his very special teammates.

I can’t lie, I’m pretty excited about this.  Hope you enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments!

–Chapter One–

Caroline shivered under the table and hoped that nobody could hear the shaking.  It served her right, really, that everything had gone so horribly wrong. She shouldn’t have been there in the first place, and now she was paying for it.  

It was the dumbest thing, too. She shouldn’t have let Monique and her cronies get under her skin. She should have just let it all wash over her and not snapped back like that.  If she had just let it go and not started mouthing off, the gym teacher would never have heard her, and then… ugh.  Such a mess.

It wasn’t even worth remembering, but she still felt her face heating over the humiliation of it all.  And that, of course, was why she’d decided to skip school that afternoon, for the first time ever. And, being her first time skipping school, she’d gone somewhere she was positive that nobody would look for her: the city’s Local History Museum.  It was just a few rooms in the back of the city hall, with a small side entrance so that visitors wouldn’t disturb the grand municipal business of the city and nobody ever went there.

Until today, naturally, when Caroline decided to be a truant.  Today would, of course, be the day armed thugs decided to come crashing into the front room of the museum nobody ever went to, to start rummaging loudly through the displays, while she sat in the furthest back room with her novel.

So, now she huddled under the table covered in pamphlets and the empty mailing list signup sheet, hoping that none of the weird attackers would find her and she could go home to confess everything to her parents.  She didn’t even care what sort of punishment she’d get, anything they could dole out would be heaven compared to this.

A boot stopped right in front of her, it’s scuffed black leather feeling huge from what she could see of it, just the couple of inches between the bottom of the cheap blue tablecloth and the floor.  

“You’re sure there’s nobody here?  I could swear I keep hearing something,” said a deep, male voice.  It almost sounded musical and was so far from what Caroline expected to hear that she almost gasped.  She slapped her hand over her mouth and held her breath, eyes wide and staring at the boot as it shifted.

“Me too, but I can’t find anyone.  We ran off a couple of gawkers. Not like anyone cares about their local history these days, after all,”  said a second voice, very close. It must belong to Boots in front of her here. A few more footsteps and another foot appeared, facing Boots.  This man’s footwear was similar in style but they were pristine. Shiny, even, for all their rugged foot protection.

“As long as we find the artifact.  We will deal with any witnesses one way or another,” Shiny said.  Caroline could almost hear the smile in his voice, and it felt oily to her.  

“Another hostage could come in handy.  Those idiots in the FPAA might not worry too much about how to retrieve one of their own considering what he is, but a civilian might give them a few minutes to think,” Boots agreed.  

A loud crash nearby made Caroline jump.  It sounded like part of the building collapsed, and there was a shout of triumph accompanying it.  Both pairs of feet in front of her turned to face the noise and she squeezed her eyes shut and prayed that any noise she’d made in her surprise had been muffled by the ruckus, whatever it was.

“I got it!” someone shouted.  There was a sound of more feet rushing around, Boots and Shiny stepped away from the table and out of her view, then after a few minutes, there was quiet.  Caroline stayed under the table, motionless and silent for a long time. An odd image flashed into her mind of a rabbit that lived in her mom’s garden that would sit just under the edge of a bush in the twilight and watch you watching it.  She’d sat there watching the animal for maybe fifteen minutes once, both of them sitting completely still, the rabbit no doubt hoping that either Caroline hadn’t seen it already or that she wasn’t hungry.

Finally, when she couldn’t take the heavy quiet anymore she crept towards the sliver of light where Boot’s boot had appeared and pressed her face to the floor to peek out.  The room was a mess, one of the display cases overturned and the contents scattered across the floor, mingling with shards of glass and splinters of the wooden frame that had held the case together.  

No feet.  No people at all.  Still, she waited a few more minutes, holding her breath and watching the dust swirl in the one shaft of sunlight that speared through the window.  The displays usually needed dusting, she thought to herself, but this seemed like a terrible way to go about it. As soon as she thought it, she breathed a quiet giggle.  It was such a ridiculous thought that the tension drained out of her all in a rush and she decided that she was being completely silly, hiding under a table when the thieves had gone a long time ago.  The police were probably outside right now, and she could go tell them the little bits that she’d overheard and then go home to be grounded for the rest of her life when her parents found out.

Caroline crept out from under the table, careful not to put a hand or knee on a glass shard— the last thing she needed was to cut herself and start bleeding everywhere— and stood up with a shiver to survey the damage.  

A hand gripped her arm and she froze again.  

“I knew I heard something.”  It was Shiny’s voice. Caroline twisted to look over her shoulder and saw his perfect boots matched the rest of him.  He was dressed like the undercover military SWAT team guys usually were in the movies with his black boots and cargo pants, and the black long sleeved shirt under a black vest of some kind, but at the same time, he managed to somehow look like he was wearing formal wear.  He was sitting cross-legged on top of the table so she would never have seen him when she looked across the floor, and when he was still it was the complete stillness of an inanimate object. Or a predator.

Caroline did the only thing at that moment that she felt that she was fully capable of.  She fainted.

–Chapter Two–

“Hey.”

Caroline shivered.  She wasn’t sure why but she was terrified and just hoped that whatever it was she was scared of wouldn’t notice her.  Probably just the end of a nightmare. She had them sometimes and could never really remember them after, just the odd, creeping feeling of dread that didn’t wear off for a few hours.

“Hey, miss.  You need to wake up and let me know you’re okay.”  Okay? Why wouldn’t she be okay?  And who the heck was asking?

Then the whole scene rushed through her memory at high speed: the disaster at school, running off campus to just get away from all that drama, going to the tiny town museum, and the robbery.

She’d been kidnapped.  Holy shit.

“Miss, if you’re unhurt, please let me know.  I don’t want to be locked in here with a corpse.  Again.” The voice was strained and not at all melodic like Boots or Shiny.  Still, she kept her eyes closed and didn’t say anything. She just focused on keeping her breathing deep and even so he’d think she was still out while she tried to come up with a plan.  

“Oh, good,” the voice said.  “You’re not hurt too badly then.  Thank goodness for that anyway.”

Caroline’s eyes flew open and she sat up. There was nobody else in the room that she saw.

“How could you tell I heard you?” she demanded.  Then she wanted to smack herself in the face for being so easily taunted into revealing herself.  The man chuckled softly. There was no malice in the sound, just amusement.

“I could hear your breathing change.  You were working too hard at sounding asleep,” he said.  Caroline looked over and saw a man sitting on the floor in the corner across from her, one arm propped on his bent knee, his other leg stretched out in front of him.  He looked relaxed lounging there in the corner, but she had the strange sensation that it was an act.

He was wearing jeans and a polo shirt, and scuffed up hiking shoes, and looked a bit like anyone.  Well, aside from the dirt smearing him from head to toe, and the rips all over his clothes, and the blackening bruises she could see all down the left side of his face and peeking through the holes in his shirt.  Dried blood trickled past his right ear from somewhere under his hair and his left eye was swollen almost shut. She was kind of glad that she couldn’t see his torso if his shirt looked that bad.

“Holy shit what happened to you?”  She was clearly going to have to work on her filter when under stress.  The man shrugged.

“You should see the other guys,” he smirked before sobering a bit.  “Well, some of them anyway. They got me with elf shot from behind. Stupid, rookie mistake leaving my back exposed like I did, but to be fair to myself it was a bit of a brawl.  The rest of this is just them enjoying themselves for a few minutes. Stress relief or something.”  He snorted inelegantly and Caroline supposed he thought he was making jokes.

“Elf… shot?”  Caroline wondered what kind of weird slang that was.  “Where are we? What’s going on, anyway? Who are those guys?  Why are we here? Why would those guys want anything in that boring old dustbag excuse for a museum?”

“Well, what were you doing there then?”  he countered.

“Er…”  Caroline wondered if she’d lost her mind.  Why was she feeling guilty about admitting that she skipped school when she’d been kidnapped by museum robbers  “I, um. I cut class. I was kinda hiding out.”

“Hiding out?  I guess a dusty unvisited museum room is a good place to do that,” the man nodded.  “Although I hope you weren’t hiding from them, because in that case, you did a lousy job.”

“Well, not when I went there to begin with, no.”  Caroline slumped on… what was she on?

She actually took a moment to look around now and discovered that they were in what looked like a basement room, with a small, barred window high up in the wall letting in a trickle of sunlight.  She sat on a cot that she had expected to be filthy but was surprisingly clean and comfortable. There was even a wool blanket folded up at the foot of the narrow mattress. It wasn’t fancy, but it was clean and probably warm, though the room itself wasn’t very cold.  

In the wall opposite the window was the expected door, and as expected it looked thick and strong and had no opening in it anywhere.  What she hadn’t expected was in the wall opposite her own seat on the cot was another door, standing halfway open, and leading into a small bathroom.  

“Where…”  Caroline didn’t even know what to start asking.  The man sighed and the noise sounded so… defeated somehow that she looked back at him.

“I’m not honestly sure how much I should tell you,” he said, staring at the floor between them.  “If we ever get out of here it might be best if you don’t know.”

“If?  Won’t the police come to save us?”  she asked. Caroline knew that she was a bit sheltered.  She was a self-admitted nerd and her parents knew that she was probably too trusting of people and as such kept her on a pretty tight leash.  Skipping school today had been her first and so far only act of rebellion since third grade unless one counted wearing navy blue instead of black like her mom had picked out to go to her dad’s formal club dinner.  Still, wasn’t that the whole point of having police? Even in a smaller town like this one? The man sighed again.

“Not very likely.  Well, not the police you’re thinking of anyway.  My team will have pulled rank on them pretty damn quick, and they work under slightly different rules.  If they come here they will try to get us out, yes, but we’re not going to be their main focus.” He huffed a humorless laugh.  “My chief probably won’t even bother looking for me, frankly. He’ll be glad to be rid of me. And they may not even know about you.”

“What?  But why?”  Caroline heard the bitterness in his voice as he spoke.  There were frustration and anger and defeat there as well, and a few other things that were less strong.  She’d never been very good with people, felt that ‘socially awkward’ was probably the nicest way to describe herself, but she had always been able to hear more shades in people’s words than everyone else.  It was how she reacted to the knowledge that she didn’t know how to deal with.

He flashed her a small smile, wincing at the flair of pain from his eye.  

“He’s never cared much for my kind.  Hated it when my transfer application was approved.  I used to work up in Washington state.” He shrugged again.

“Your kind?  What, like some sort of special undercover cop or something?”  Caroline asked. He glanced up at her and blinked. Then took a deep breath and slowly started to sit up straight.  She watched him unfold himself from his spot lounging on the floor and realized that he was tall. Very tall, it seemed to her, easily another foot and a half taller than she was herself.  And he was strong, she could see the muscles flexing under his clothes. Not body-builder macho-man style, but more like a swimmer. It was strangely comforting.

“Someone’s coming,” he said, leaning back against the wall again and crossing one foot over the other.  Again she got the feeling that he was pretending to lounge, but was actually more like a coiled spring.

“What?  How do—”

The door opened and three men came in.  Shiny, in the middle, carried two trays and the other two men had very serious looking guns pointed at her cellmate.  Caroline watched the men with huge eyes, but they didn’t even glance at her, keeping their whole attention trained on the beaten man leaning against the wall under the tiny window.

“Here you go, young lady.  Dinner is served. I hope the accommodations meet with your approval, but let’s be honest with each other.  It wouldn’t much matter if they didn’t,” Shiny said. “Pity that you had to pick today to investigate local history, but that’s simply the strange way fate works.  Until we decide what to do about you— both of you,” he glared at her companion now, “you’ll simply have to stay here and be patient.” He set the trays down on the bed beside her.  It was clear that nobody considered her a threat, but that they were very careful of her cellmate.

“As for you,” Shiny was saying.  “Your colleagues don’t seem terribly interested in retrieving you.  I’m somewhat amused by that. Office politics go sour?” Caroline heard the taunts in his voice but was confused by what lay underneath.  Smugness, which made sense, but also nerves and just a hint of fear. Caroline felt dizzy with questions but knew one thing for dead sure.  She was in way over her head.

Her cellmate just shrugged and stayed otherwise still.  Shiny narrowed his eyes and glared for a moment before turning and walking out.  The gunmen backed out slowly, never taking their attention off their target before the door closed and she heard a heavy thunk as it was locked.

“What…”  Caroline’s voice squeaked and she had to clear her throat.  “What’s your name? I can’t just keep thinking of you as ‘that guy.’  I’m Caroline.” She swallowed and waited.

“Darien,” he said, then slid down the wall to sit on the floor again.  He was breathing heavily like he’d been running and she saw that the blood running down his face, which had been dry when she woke up, was now dripping onto the shoulder of his shirt.  He swiped at it gingerly. “Darien Webb, but my friends usually shorten it to just my first initial. Because they’re lazy and think they’re clever, I guess.”

“So just D?”  she said, grabbing a water bottle from one of the trays and twisting the top off.  She scrambled over to where he slumped on the floor and tried to hand it to him. “You’re really badly hurt, aren’t you?”  He glanced up at her and shrugged.

“Besides the obvious?”  He gestured to the bruises on his face and winced at his movement.  “Yeah. A few broken ribs I think, maybe some internal damage. And I think my wrist is broken.  Maybe a concussion. Almost certainly a concussion”

“Why aren’t you lying down?”  Caroline swore she felt herself go pale as he casually listed off injuries that should have him in a hospital bed.  “Why did you stand up like that? You need a doctor!” He shook his head.

“If they think I am anything less than a very serious threat to them, it won’t end well for me certainly.  Maybe not for you either, since they’ve tossed us in together.” He looked thoughtful for a moment. “Although maybe they didn’t have a choice.  I think they just had this room ready in case they needed it, not because they were expecting lots of prisoners. Maybe it’s the only one they have.”  He shrugged again. And winced again. “I have to stop doing that.”

“There’s no way you can be a threat to anyone besides yourself if you’re so badly hurt,” she said.  “Let me help you over to the bed, okay?” Darien shook his head.

“No, I’ll heal.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been on the losing end of a fight.  Trust me, this will pass. Eventually.”

Caroline sat on the floor beside him.  It was strangely comforting, even as badly injured as Darien was, to know that she wasn’t in this alone.  Just having his company was probably keeping her from hysteria.

“That guy did sound kinda scared of you.  And then the extra scary guns on top of it.  The other guys must look really terrible after all.”  That got a laugh.

“Yeah.  I’d have made it out fine if I’d been less of an idiot.”  Then he frowned. “What do you mean he sounded scared of me?”

“Oh, just his tone of voice, you know?  Under the taunting bravado, he was kinda… I dunno.  Scared of you. And a little confused maybe? Which doesn’t make much sense, but…”  she shrugged now herself.

Darien emptied the bottle of water, using what Caroline now realized was his good hand.  He was frowning at the floor again.

“I wonder what my parents are doing.  I should probably have been home hours ago by now.”  

“How old are you, if I may ask?”  

“Seventeen.  They don’t know I was there at all, at the museum.  I…” Caroline shifted, her guilty conscience driving tears to prickle in her eyes.  Now that she was feeling them, she was pretty impressed that she hadn’t cried sooner.  I mean if there was ever an appropriate moment to break down in tears, it was when you wake up kidnapped by crazy, violent thieves.

“Hey, it’ll be okay.  Somehow.” Darien bumped her shoulder with his own.  “I’ll think of something.”

“How did you know that there was someone coming?” She swallowed her tears down, trying to will them away.  Crying never helped and she hated that it seemed so out of her control.

“I heard them,”  Darien said.

“Like my breathing.”  Caroline glanced at him, and he nodded.   “The breathing I’ll grant you, but there is no rational reason that you could have heard anyone walking down that hallway.  Those guys all move like freaking cats, and that door is about four inches thick. I looked when they opened it.” She watched him and saw his expression harden like it was freezing in place the way parents always threatened.

“I, uh…”  he said. Caroline felt like she’d caught the edge of something.  Like there was a piece of clear tape on a window, and now that she’d found the edge of it she felt compelled to pick at it.

“And how did you even manage to stand up like that, anyway?  If you’re so badly hurt— and I believe you, for some weird reason.  I mean about the internal injuries and the concussion and stuff. If you’re that beat up you shouldn’t be able to stand up and look almost bored about it.  You should be curled up and unconscious or something.”

“Um…”  Darien started to look uncomfortable.  Which as she had just said, he should have looked this whole time.  Uncomfortable at the very least.

“And you said something earlier about your boss not liking your ‘kind.’  What did you mean? You never answered me, and I don’t think you just meant cop.”  Caroline turned to face him fully and realized that he looked almost embarrassed.

“Boy, you’re tough.  And you’re just in high school?  Sure you’re not an undercover cop or something?”  He hunched over a bit and groaned before sitting up again.

“I’m about to graduate,”  Caroline huffed. “Assuming those creeps don’t murder me or sell me off or something.  What’s going on here? Why would they want to rob the town museum? I mean it doesn’t even have anything interesting to us and we live here.”

“Remember when I said it might be for the best if you didn’t know?”  Darien asked, glancing at her. Caroline nodded. “Well, I think that with as many questions as you have, and how much you’ve noticed already, that ship has sailed.”  He sighed and looked sad for a moment. “Those guys are elves, and they seem to be after some sort of artifact that was broken up into bits. I have no idea what it is or why they want it, but those guys specifically are from a small group of elf supremacists, and they’re not averse to violence, so whatever it is they have planned can’t be good.”

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Summer vacation?

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Okay, not really a vacation that’s vacation-ish, where I get to hang out with my family and rest up and do fun stuff, although some of that’s probably going to happen if I’m lucky.  You all know that The Boy and I are moving soon.  From the East Coast of the U.S. to Tokyo Japan.  It’s causing just a wee little bit of stress here at Chez Kim, and I’m totally handling it in very healthy ways like not starting to drink immediately after getting up in the morning.  

Basically, everyone I know is a bit concerned for my health, and self-care has become a rather vital thing in my life.  As a result, I’m going to be dialing it back here a little since I have to focus on packing and making sure we have the tickets and passports and all the things, and then I have to figure out unpacking and how to re-jam together two households back into one household and sort out our new schedules and… well.  Life.  I’m a little shocked that the Anxiety Gnomes haven’t launched an attack, but then I think even they’re exhausted by everything so, small blessings?

14949202534_bacd339174_bSo for the next month (August, basically), I’m going to be posting here only once a week.  I’m going to keep up with the Patreon page since the short story is almost ready to post now, and I have the chapter available for preview.  I should have a book cover by the end of the month as well, so that’s going to be fun.  Also, I’ll be posting some Adventures over on Instagram, because that’s pretty quick.

Mostly, though, I’m going to spend August focusing on how to get our lives rolling in Tokyo and getting Brewing Trouble finished up.  And trying to help my friends live vicariously by going to places they want to go and taking copious photos.  Any requests?

Into the wild!

Finding Insight E-bookToday is Release Day for Finding Insight, the story of Sebastian finding a street kid with a secret that could threaten them all.  I admit that I’ve developed a soft spot for Gabriel, the street kid in question.  He never belonged out there, but you know how it goes.  You do your best with whatever your author throws at you.  I’ve been seeing foxes everywhere lately: my front yard, the corner of my street, on the drive home at night in a few different places…  I feel like Sebastian is trying to tell me that he’s excited, too.

I have a few other random things but man, my brain is bouncing around like a playground ball.  First, I guess, is that the paperwork is moving now for our move to Tokyo, so things are about to get interesting.  This, in turn, has prompted me to start thinking about a few changes in my work plans.  I am still ironing out Book Four but should start work on it in the next week or two.  I also have a few other goodies in progress, but more about them later.  I’ve got some plans forming and changes coming.

But I was listening to a podcast on the business of writing the other day and I was hearing about bookmarks and magnets and character art and maps and all sorts of other fun things, and it got me excited and thinking.  The question I have is what do you want to see from me?  Is there anything fun or fancy you’d like me to work on?  I can’t promise anything, but I definitely want to know if you guys have any requests!  Let me know!

While I’m trying to nap

Insomnia sucks, especially when I’m too busy to take a dang nap.  Here’s something that Finding Insight E-bookmight tide you over until I get back to functional:  Finding Insight is up for pre-order!  This one’s about Sebastian, and his new friend Gabriel, who isn’t a spirit but still has a few secrets of his own.  The special launch price is $0.99 though the first week of July.

Sebastian is determined to keep his people safe.  Even those who don’t know they have magic.

Sebastian Russell is fiercely protective of his family, and of the secrets of his community at the Village at Rancho San Calafia apartments.  Still reeling from the violent betrayal of his human brother, he continues to do regular patrols around the area, looking out for anything that might threaten those he loves.

One night he stumbles across a young man sleeping in a makeshift camp at the entrance of a nearby cave.  The boy is plagued by nightmares and looks far too thin.  After a chance encounter with the boy during daylight hours, Sebastian realizes that there is far more to young Gabriel than first appears.  And when the two people harassing the young man turn out to be Hunters, Sebastian has some quick thinking to do.  Not only do the Hunters want Gabe’s special skills for themselves, but once they have him, they will use him to hunt down and kill every non-human spirit they can reach.

Gear ratio

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been trying to sort myself into some vague semblance of organized.  I know, I know, it’s a bit of a dream, but even a little effort can make a huge difference.  But there’s so much to do and so many different ways to do most of it, and so many ideas and projects and schedules and people to work with and… Well, it’s pretty overwhelming.

gnome-garden-decoration-dwarf-littleSo… last week my anxiety started to get the better of me, and I spent most of my morning chatting with my husband over the internet.  Unfortunately, since he already lives in Tokyo, he had to go to bed at some point though I’m pretty sure he stayed up late for me.  So I was left to myself around lunchtime and my brain started spinning out of control.

So.  Many.  Projects! Holycrap!!

And each project has a damn to-do list as long as my arm: get an outline started, get the thing written, get it edited and critiqued and edited again, get a cover for it, figure out a title and a blurb… And that’s just writing the stories.  There’s a laundry list of behind the

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Photo credit: rachelkramerbussel.com on Visualhunt / CC BY

scenes stuff going on too, and the move and general day-to-day living and parenting and on and on.  And my brain started to kind of blow up a bit.

I may have sent my friend Mookie a panic-drunk text.  He’s been a professional writer for well over a decade and immediately sympathized with my lunacy, and he talked me back from the ledge.  He gave me the best advice that we’ve all already heard, but usually forget when it all blows up: take everything one step at a time.  Don’t try to do everything all at once.  Slow down, make a list, and then start locking that shit down.

So, I did.

First up, the Finding Insight pre-order should be up in the next couple of days.  Amazon is being slow in approving it for some reason, but then giant multi-national corporations don’t exactly move cheetah fast.  While I’m waiting for that I’m buckling down and working on sketching out my outlines.  I’m likely to keep pantsing a bit, but having that framework already laid did help me finally finish Insight, so I’d like to try it from the beginning.  I’m talking to my cover designer about the next Los Gatos book (don’t get too excited, it’s months off yet.  I’d just like to have the cover ready to go.)

So I have a list now.  It’s about 2 pages long, but still.  It’s a list, in pretty much the order I need to do stuff in.  I’m sure I’ll find out other things I need to add, and I’ll change my mind on others.  No doubt moving will make a significant dent in my best-laid plans.  We’ll see.  Still, the Anxiety Gnomes didn’t even get off a real attack this time, so I’m calling it a win.  How do you keep your brain from spinning out when there’s too much going on?  I’d love to have a few more tricks up my sleeve for next time!

Fresh News!

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It has been gloriously springlike here in Maryland.  Rainy, yes, but we’ve needed it badly.  The drought here isn’t as bad as it was in California before I moved, but it’s bad enough to warrant concern.  Besides, I love the rain.

Even though the weather outside is gorgeous and seductive, I’ve been inside pounding away at the keyboard.  I finally got to write the wonderful words The End at the bottom of Brian’s latest adventure.  After all the trouble this one’s given me I can’t tell you how relieved I am to see those six little letters.  Of course, the thing needs some major overhaul work on it, but I’ve sent it to my Alpha Reader for a once over before I return to it for the first round of edits.  Overall I’m pretty pleased though, and I think that the bones are good.  Look for news on a release date and so on.  I’m thinking soon, though.  Once I broke past the wall, it went fairly quickly.

A Spirit’s Kindred is coming out sooner though!  Slated for March 11th, I will put it up for preorder hopefully over the weekend, for a special reduced price for launch.  The cover is shaping up and looks amazing, you guys!  You’ll get to see it on Monday I have no doubt.  I’m being a little extra picky with this one, though, which is why it’s taking so long.  I’m pretty sure my cover artist is about ready to plot my death via thousands of paper cuts.

I’ve also got a special promotion slated to run at the same time.  Sarah’s Inheritance will be free from March 9th through the 13th if you haven’t picked it up yet.  Hard to beat free as a price point!  Anyhow, that’s all the news from here for now.  I’m hard at work on a few projects:  Brian’s adventure (man, I need a title for that!) and a new Los Gatos novel is slowly forming in my mind,  and maybe a fun short story or two for my newsletter readers are starting to come together a bit. Basically, the next few months should be a lot of fun, don’t you think?

Big Reveal

You guys, I have a cover!  I have a couple, actually, but one of them’s for the newsletter folks.  ANYway.  I got the cover for Sarah’s Inheritance, and I’m super excited!  Wanna see it?  Oh, okay then, I guess I can show you.

Sarah's Inheritance

Pretty wild, huh?  I deliberately wanted this cover to be different from the Riverton Novels since it’s a distinctly different universe.  I don’t have a ton to say about it here, but I’m really pleased.  I’ll be finishing pulling the book together today or tomorrow, and make it available January 28.  Here’s the ‘back cover copy’ (even though there isn’t a back cover right now…)

Sarah knew she was getting a house.  She didn’t know about the rest of it.

Learning of her grandmother’s death shook Sarah Richards.  She hadn’t seen the woman since she was a child, kept far away on the other side of the country by her controlling mother.  They had built a long-distance relationship though secret phone calls and unmentioned emails, and even though Sarah was now well into adulthood she still hadn’t gathered the courage to go visit the grandmother she missed, and now it was too late.  Now, though, she owned the house Gran had lived in, and Sarah was determined to break free of her mother’s grasp.  Moving from New York City to a town just outside of San Jose, California was scary, but she felt drawn there to learn more about her grandmother, and if she was lucky, to find her own path in life.

What she didn’t expect was to be thrown into a supernatural battle between monsters from her worst nightmares and Gran’s strange, not-quite-human friends.  It turns out that the house was the least important part of what Rosemary Richards passed down to her granddaughter, and now Sarah has to decide if she is willing to learn more about the world she’s been dumped into or if she would rather go back to her mother where life was dull, but at least it was safe.

Sarah’s Inheritance is the first book in the Spirits of Los Gatos series.  If you like Andre Norten and Jaymim Eve, you’ll enjoy this tale of one woman finding out what she actually wants from life.  Buy Sarah’s Inheritance now and see what secrets Los Gatos is hiding.

StockSnap_3BWN7KIF4TI’ve been chipping away at Brian, as well.  It’s a pretty rough first draft so far, and I feel like it’s really short.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that, but I’ll get it off to my alpha reader in the next couple of weeks I hope, so we’ll see about all that.  Spirit’s Kindred is bubbling along as well.  It’s out to my beta readers right now, and I’ll be hopefully starting edits on that in a week or so.  I’m really afraid that I’m going to have to push the publication dates back a bit, though.  Life has gotten way more full of assorted crap than I’d left time for, so it’s all going a bit more slowly than I hoped, so we’re looking at end of February maybe early March for the Sarah sequel.  We’ll see.

Anyway, what do you think?  It’s pretty different, isn’t it?

Gigging

 

Ladies and Gentlemen!  Many of you know or have figured out, that I am a live theatre person.  It is, in fact, what Iw as trained to do for a living, and what I have my degree in.  No, I don’t act.

I’m a technician.  Stage crew.  A backstage, in the dust and grease and lord only knows what else, I know how it works and still think it’s magic person.  I love live theatre, and while not every show is my personal cup of tea, I can’t deny the excitement of waiting for the house to settle and the show to start, no matter where I am for that moment.  And don’t make a mistake, here.  It doesn’t have to be on Broadway, even street performances have that moment.  It gives me goosebumps.

Which is my way of easing into the fact that starting next week I am going to be taking

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Photo credit: piermario via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

on another job.  I’ve got a gig working at a theatre in the area and the rehearsals that I need to start attending begin soon.  Which means that my schedule is going to consist of approximately 3 hours a day in traffic and 14 or so hours at work, and if I’m really lucky I get to sleep in there somewhere.

 

There might be a slight disruption in my update schedule hereabouts on the blog.

I hope not, though.  I’m working to get ahead of myself a bit, but there may be a few posts from the past, or something short, sweet, and to the point.  There will definitely be a free chapter or an extended excerpt coming up in the newsletter.  (Have you signed up for that?  Check the sidebar!)

There are so many shows, and so much opportunity to see a live performance.  The show I would really love to see next?  The Play The Goes Wrong.  Because trust me.  It is really hard to have things go wrong on purpose.  What do you want to see?

Saved?

Welp!  I told you to watch this space.  A Demon Saved is up for pre-order (or purchase, depending on when you read this…) thanks to the vagaries of book releases, and the level of my skills before the coffee has seeped into my brain, the paperback will be available slightly before the e-book.  Either way, my friends, you too can own a spanking new book in mere days!

The other book, Personal Demons, won’t be available for another few weeks, but I consider these two to be joined at the hip almost.  They share events, and have some overlap, though they focus on entirely new characters.

So!  To get you all excited, here’s one final excerpt from A Demon Saved for you to enjoy.  Poor Michael gets into a terrible mess in this book.

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The cave was dry, at least, and had been carved out into a series of rooms and passages at some point.  It smelled of dirt and rock and sawdust and something Michael couldn’t quite identify.  Something sweet.  He followed the main passage further into the hillside, descending into the earth.  He noted the kitchen, the smell of cave giving way to the smell of cooking and spices.  He found a storage room full of musty crates that might be left over from the mining operation, and a room full of equipment and clothing, but no weapons.  There must be an armory somewhere nearby.

He stumbled as he was leaving the dressing room, and put his hand out to the wall to catch himself.  Caution, he reminded himself, he needed to be careful here, not clumsily tripping over a loose rock or whatever it had been.  He would rather confront Milquert himself and leave the human forces to the police, and he couldn’t avoid the lackeys if he alerted them to his intrusion through carelessness.

Further in, now.  He found a small library, more like a cell for study, and a room with beds and trunks.  Clearly the barracks for the guards he’d attended to already and a few others.  Michael blinked and frowned.  His vision was significantly better than a human’s, especially in the dark, but the deeper into this fortress he got, the harder he had to work to see clearly.  A fog was rising up to obscure things.  He took a deep breath, trying to ignore the foul, sweet smell that felt almost thick in his throat.  It was getting stronger the deeper into the underground lair he got.  Perhaps there was a garbage dump near the back of the tunnels?

Michael rubbed his eyes hoping to clear them a bit, and stretched out with his other senses again.  It wasn’t just his eyes, his mind felt foggy.  That faintly sweet undertone that had followed him through his whole journey underground now clogged his nose and choked the breath in his lungs.  His throat felt like it was closing off his air.  His head snapped up, the realization hitting him like a club.  He’d long ago read about the incense that could take out armies, but had never thought it was more than a story.  Something based on some sort of dust or gas weapon that could be fired into attacking forces, but clearly he’d misjudged the truth of those ancient reports.  He had to get outside, to clear air.

He stumbled back the way he had come, being exaggeratedly careful and feeling like a drunk.  He had to keep his hand on the wall now, for balance, and still he had to concentrate on staying on his feet.  He shook his head trying to clear the heavy blanket of drugging smoke from his consciousness, but only succeeded in making himself dizzy.  Another stumble had him landing on his knees, his hand sliding across the stone of the wall and skidding onto the floor.

He knelt there, struggling for breath before trying to stand again, but his legs wouldn’t move the way he needed them to, wouldn’t support his weight.  He realized that in his struggle he had ended up sprawled in the dirt of the tunnel floor, immobile and helpless.  For the second time in as many weeks, Michael felt fear spike through his chest, then a moment later he felt nothing.

Personal Demons, available on Amazon

A taste

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Today is a fancy special treat for you, my dear readers!  I am spending most of today sitting on an airplane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, so in the hopes that you’re finding more entertainment than I am, probably, I am presenting to you a small taste of A Demon Saved, which is Coming Soon.  If you check in my Facebook page then you know that I’m having a slight crisis in publication schedule, so I won’t be able to confirm when preorders will be open just yet.  I’m hoping that by the time I get back from vacation I’ll have somewhat more solid details for you.  That said…  you may get to taste the other project that is fighting for first dibs before I announce the release schedule.  So either way you win. I ‘m thinking.

I have to admit though, that I am totally in love with this cover, and I had to show it off as soon as possible.  Add to that some phenomenal notes from my award-winning teacher, top-tier fan and beta-reader Wendy, and I couldn’t help myself from posting this here for you to enjoy while I try to survive the last few hours of being trapped in a small space with my extremely energetic 6 year old.  Enjoy!

“I don’t know who you are but I can’t think of one single reason that a non-human would be anything but an enemy to you.  I will not let you touch Michael, so back the fuck off,”  May growled.

“I am a nefil, and a healer.  I merely wish to help.  If you do not allow me to help then the poison will continue to spread, and there will be no saving him.”  The woman stood quietly, waiting for May’s answer.  “As it is I am not completely sure that I can help anyway.  The poison has been working for some time, if I understand correctly.”

May’s eyes shot involuntarily to the blood-soaked bandage and the lines wiggling out from it.

“How do you know about the poison?”  She asked, not quite ready to trust this woman.  Nefil and demons were clear enemies, and that was putting it mildly.  The few hazy stories that survived in the Temple’s archives were extremely clear on that subject at least.  “You can’t really expect me to believe that you just happened to hear about this injured demon in the Human Realm and came hurrying here to help out of pure kindness.  I don’t care what the reputation of your kind is, I am not so gullible to believe that.  Nefil haven’t been seen in this realm for millennia, why would you return now?  And while the stories claim nefil helped humans, they most certainly did not help demons.”

“No.  You are right.”  The woman put her box down on the chair May had leapt from and opened it with a gusty sigh, carefully placing what looked like surgical tools on the rolling metal stand from the corner.  “I was already here, in this very building when I heard; I was telling one of your Elders about why I am in the Human Realm when the news came and I could not stand idle.  This is, unfortunately, more than likely related to my mission.  As a result of that, I feel that I must take some responsibility for the situation and help this man if I can, no matter what realm he is from.  I believe I know the one who created that poison.  I am not the only nefil in this Human Realm at this moment,” the woman closed her eyes for a moment, pausing in her setup.  She looked up at May, her blue eyes filled with regret meeting the human’s wary hazel ones.  May could feel the weight of the guilt this woman carried as it settled over the room.  “Long, long ago there was a war.  It was brutal and violent and laid waste to all three realms as nefil and demon tried to exterminate each other.  My people’s leaders long ago realized that the war we waged was never going to end, our people are far too well matched by the demon forces.  So they decided to teach humans what they could to be able to defend themselves against the demon realm and closed off the most accessible gateways to our own realm.  It sealed us off, mostly, from the conflict and after a few centuries we had all moved on.  Now not even the oldest of our race remembers the Great Wars, it has been relegated to the histories and is held as a reminder of the evils that violence and aggression hold.  My… associate Milquert, however, became obsessed with the histories.  He seemed to think that we had abandoned humanity to be ravaged and fall to demonic forces.  He travelled through a Gate to…” she shook her head slowly.  “I don’t even know what he plans, but to me this looks like his work. I am afraid of what he may unwittingly start.  I came to prevent him from doing something foolish.  Like attacking the Temple.”

May wavered.  If what this woman said was true, the ramifications…  Michael would know better what to do, he was the strategist of their team.  Things like this were far more political than May was comfortable with, but it was like bread to him.  She looked back at him on the bed and her stomach lurched again.  Michael lay on the bed, so still she almost thought it was too late already.  It was only her sense of him through their bond of Guardianship that assured her he still lived.  The woman was right about one thing, anyway.  There was nothing that the human doctors could do.

“Why do you think you can help?  What do you know about healing demons that we don’t?”  May asked.

“Probably nothing,” the woman admitted, turning to frown at the wound.  “I have never seen one of his kind before, nor until just a few days past had I ever seen a human.  But I do know a great deal about what Milquert knows, and how he works.  If I can draw this poison out of the wound, or neutralize it somehow, your friend will have a better chance to fight the effects.  If I can’t, then it will continue seeping through his body and he will die.”  She stood, finished laying out her tools and a few bottles.  “First I must identify what sort of poison he used.  I have a few suspicions, but I must test them.  Just trying antidotes at random could make things worse.”

May looked over the tray, then over at Michael’s pale form, his demon’s face looking even more alien than usual, even with his huge, seemingly bottomless eyes closed.  A sheen of sweat covered him, but when she reached out to take his hand it was ice cold.

“Priestess, he is dying,” the nefil said, her voice gentle and sad.  May’s lip quivered and her vision swam for a moment before she blinked then met the woman’s gaze.  May nodded.

“What do we do?”