Jenny Reads Handbook for Mortals Chapter Four

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Happy Halloween, ghosts and ghouls!  No matter where you are in the world I hope you’re finding ways to enjoy the holiday.  It’s tough out there these days and sometimes it’s the little things that help you through it.

Speaking of little things, if anyone felt like treating themselves this Halloween, I’ve got a real fun book recommendation.  Animal Instinct is the readin’ for the season.

I hope you all enjoy this recap.  I’m afraid yet another dude voice turned up and I’m relying on really hackneyed accents to differentiate.  I’ll probably never voice Riley again but there goes my terrible Irish/Scottish abomination.

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Jenny Reads Handbook for Mortals Chapter Three

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So in Jenny’s recap of this chapter she mentioned how the last half should be read as though every sentence ended in an upward lilt like a question/Valley Girl.  That was… challenging.  Also heads up, there is a moment where I scream.  It coincides with the pictures of Jenny having a meltdown so be sure to go over to her post and check that out.

Also, many many thanks to Jenny for plugging my book!  That was so incredibly nice of her.

Jenny Reads Handbook for Mortals Chapter Two

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While editing I counted at least three exclamations of ‘fuck me’ after I screwed something up.  It gave me the idea to one day share an unedited track with you guys before cleaning it up so you get an idea of just how many times I screw up the voices or mispronounce basic words.  But today is not that day.

No, today is actually pretty exciting.  My book Animal Instinct is live on Amazon today so anyone who pre-ordered, it should be available on your devices.  If you haven’t ordered it then you can pick it up immediately should the fancy strike you.

And now for the recap.  Be sure you guys check out Jenny’s site for pictures and the song she wrote for Ms. Sarem.

ANIMAL INSTINCT – Chapter One Audio

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If anyone was curious about my book but didn’t feel like reading the first chapter, you can always give it a quick listen right here!

And if, just possibly, you feel intrigued enough after that then you can hop over to Amazon and pre-order it so it’ll be delivered straight to your device when it releases on the 21st.  I still have a person goal of 100 pre-orders and currently we stand at 7.  So fingers crossed?

ANIMAL INSTINCT – Chapter One

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Animal_Instinct_eBook_preview

Chapter One

The needle slid into Jackie’s arm without resistance. Despite her friend’s skill, she nearly bit through her lip while she squeezed her eyes shut. It was an old phobia, the needle alone didn’t bother her but its presence woke her worst memories. Even with her eyes closed she could see a man wearing a white lab coat coming towards her with sharp things, wanting to cut into her skin and stick gloved fingers where they never belonged. She could remember the heavy flow of blood against her legs and how the pain had kept her awake, fighting off the haven unconsciousness offered.

“You can open your eyes, Jackie. I’m finished.” She did so reluctantly, glancing at the round Band-Aid covering whatever damage the needle had left behind. “See? Was that so bad?” Her eyes narrowed.

“It was a few seconds in my own personal hell. Maybe I should pick out a few spiders from the barn and let them crawl on you, Izzy. Give you a sense of perspective.”

Izzy, also known as Isabelle, didn’t bother to hide her shudder. “Okay, I get it. No more needles.”

Jackie nodded, opting to allow the smooth, cultured tones of her friend’s voice to soothe some of her ruffled feathers. She then left the state-of-the-art stainless steel and granite kitchen to get some air. Isabelle Watts had a beautiful loft just down the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the city of Los Angeles. It was the perfect location for Izzy, a woman who valued style and glamour. She believed in the classic lines of a spiral staircase, the Old World charm of a Victorian loveseat. Izzy thought everything should sparkle, be it diamonds or wood. Jackie walked barefoot across cherry wood floors shined to a high polish, looking up to see the Swarovski crystal chandelier illuminating Izzy’s living room. She’d always wondered when Izzy would marry some rich businessman and move all her furniture into the mansion where they belonged.

“You never told me how it worked out with that publisher,” Jackie called over her shoulder, idly rubbing her scarred elbow and taking a seat in front of Izzy’s fireplace.

“A dead fish would have better kissing skills so I dumped him.”

Jackie rolled her eyes. Somehow she knew it would be something like that. “You’re too picky. He was handsome, genuinely interested in you and he had a good job. Plus, you said you could talk to him for hours.”

“I want to be able to do more than talk, Jackie,” she pointed out as she left the kitchen holding a delicate vial of blood.

“Not everyone is a naturally gifted kisser.” She stared at her blood sloshing against the glass container. It was a little horrifying although not nearly as bad as what would come next. “Maybe if you stopped letting your boss stick his tongue down your throat you wouldn’t be so reluctant about getting an actual boyfriend.”

Izzy smirked. Jackie was about as subtle as a blow to the head. “Most of my actual boyfriends weren’t as good at it,” she told her, heading up the spiral staircase to her bedroom. She kept her bags of emergency blood in the mini fridge and that was where she intended to keep Jackie’s blood until she could get it to her employer. Her feet sank into the thick white carpet as she walked past the canopy bed to the fridge she kept near her walk-in closet. “Besides, at least I’m getting a few kisses.” And considerably more, she thought.

“I’m single by choice!” Jackie shouted up at her. She wouldn’t admit that she sometimes agreed with Izzy’s perspective. Sex wasn’t the most important thing in life. But it was in the top five. The closest Jackie had gotten to an orgasm during the last three years was indulging in strawberries and marshmallows. For her, a satisfying orgasm came with a person attached. Solo work led to the most random thoughts. Once she’d had to stop because she’d been convinced she’d forgotten to buy tomatoes at the store and it drove her nuts not knowing. The mood had died a quick death after that. Since pleasuring herself was out and relationships that included sex came with certain risks like falling in love and getting her heart broken, Jackie stuck with fruit and sugar.

Izzy came back down the stairs. “Are you done trying to avoid what we came here to do?” Jackie opted to stare at the rich burgundy walls and her friend rolled her eyes. “Why are you so nervous about it? Seriously, it’s just an easy way to make some extra cash.”

“There is nothing easy about volunteering to have some random guy bite you so he can drink your blood,” she muttered.

“My boss is a really good guy. He takes care of his own,” Izzy promised.

“I won’t be his,” Jackie corrected. Her deep voice tended to be all the more jarring when she snapped because it was made more for soothing animals than raising hell.

“Of course not,” Izzy agreed, realizing her mistake. “I just meant he looks out for the people on his payroll. And he’s really generous to his, uh, the girls.”

“That’s another thing. I don’t want him thinking this is going to be a personal relationship. He can have my blood but I’m not going to share anything else.” Izzy tried not to wince. He wasn’t going to be thrilled about that prospect. He got pretty girls for a reason. All of them were compensated financially and physically for their donations. Every single one of them agreed that the physical compensations would be enough.

“I’m sure you’ll be able to work that out with him,” Izzy said, even though she felt highly dubious about the idea. In fact, she was worried about whether he would want to hire her or not. Izzy’s boss knew what he liked and she’d never seen him deviate. Jackie glanced up to see her friend studying her with a discerning eye.

“What? Do I have horse slobber in my hair again?”

“No, no, I was just thinking… Maybe we should go shopping before you meet my boss. I know this great hair stylist. We could go see him, too.”

Jackie frowned. “Why this sudden interest in my looks?”

Izzy shifted from foot to foot. “Well, it’s just that my boss likes a certain type of woman and you’re a little different.”

Jackie stood up and Izzy winced internally at the height difference. Izzy was nearly a head shorter than Jackie and that was about where she came to on her boss as well. The fact was that none of his girls were the same height as he was.

“What type of woman does he like, Izzy?” she asked, a dangerous tension in her jaw.

“He always goes for… well… delicate women. You’re not exactly delicate,” Izzy said as gently as she could. Jackie sighed. There really was no way to argue with that statement. She’d been overweight until high school when she’d shot up to six feet. Then all the fat had been redistributed as muscle and hips. Unfortunately, only some of it had gone to her chest. That had turned out for the best, however. Even with her modest attributes, trotting on a horse occasionally verged on jarring. God bless sports bras.

“Which is why you’re bringing him a sample. That way he can get hooked on my blood before he meets the source,” Jackie said. “Is there anything else I should know about his preferences?” Izzy took a step back.

Jacquelyn Chase had a very strong Scottish background passed down from her father’s side, which included high cheekbones, a straight nose and pale skin. She always stood with her back perfectly straight and wouldn’t look unnatural with a Claymore in hand. Jacquelyn worked in the sun on a daily basis; the brown tan on her arms that ran from a little above her elbow to her wrist was evidence of that. Those arms were slim but firm with muscle as were her legs. No, this wasn’t a woman her boss would choose.

There were some bonuses, though. Both tanned and fair skin glowed with health. Her mouth was small, lips soft and a naturally perfect shade of pink that was attractive if she wasn’t mouthing off. Jacquelyn’s eyes were the precise shade of whiskey with sunlight shining through it. Her hair was short, unfortunately, barely going past her shoulders when it was down. At least it was a rich shade of brown with pretty gold highlights that were a natural product of all the sunlight. All in all, Jackie wasn’t ugly. In fact, in the right light she was even beautiful.

“Just, uh, try not to glare at him. He’ll probably try to provoke you but you have to remember that he’s like that with everyone,” Izzy said. Jackie took a long look at her friend. Petite, curved in all the right places, she even had a delicate, almost doll-like face. Her hair was jet black and fell into a perfect wave around her face and shoulders. This was the kind of woman her boss preferred. It wasn’t an encouraging observation.

“I need him to like me,” Jackie murmured. “I’m scrambling here, Izzy. If I can’t get out from under this debt then I’m going to lose my ranch. I’m going to lose everything I’ve worked for.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Izzy said, unwilling to admit how much it freaked her out when her steady, always dependable friend trembled and showed her human side. “You will not lose your ranch. You’ll keep all your horses and your crazy dogs and your antisocial cat. I promise, okay? He’ll like you. I wouldn’t be surprised if he fell in love with you on the spot!” That was stretching it but Jackie laughed anyway, which had been the point.

“I don’t need him to love me. I just need him to pay me well for doing very little.”

Izzy smiled and squeezed her friend’s arm. “He’s more than capable of that. Trust me.”

Jackie nodded. “You know, since I’m going to work for him, it would be nice if you finally told me his name.”

Izzy had never revealed his name since it would be a disaster if anyone else found out. He was a prominent businessman and a vampire. The human world only needed to know about one of those details and it wasn’t the latter.

“Good point,” she said. “His name is Liam O’Connor.”

 

The next day Jackie heard about the woman who had been found discarded by the side of the PCH with her throat slashed. She felt a moment of sympathy as the particulars were rattled off on the morning news but had mostly forgotten it by the time her phone rang with a very important call. If the details of the report had included the whiskey color of the victim’s eyes, she might not have been so willing to involve herself in vampire business.

ANIMAL INSTINCT will be released October 21, 2017

Animal Instinct – Video Blurb

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Hey there cats and kittens, your intrepid writer friend has returned this beautiful Friday the 13th to bring you a short little video plugging my first book!  It’s currently available to pre-order on Amazon and the release is on the 21st, one day and a week away.  Tomorrow I’ll be posting the first chapter for your preview pleasure and then I’ll likely read it aloud for your listening pleasure.

Should be interesting to see how I do reading something straight instead of mocking it as I do with Jenny’s recaps.  No cartoon voices for me.  Gulp.

Jenny Reads Handbook for Mortals Chapter 1

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The voice I do for Lani/Zade, while accurately pegged by Jenny as the right fit, makes it incredibly difficult to get through the banal, repetitive, and often nonsensical descriptions in this book.  I’m just dragging this bewildered speak and spell through hell in this recording and we all know it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Never thought I’d miss Ana’s internal monologue.  I’ve reached a new low, folks.

Get on over to Jenny’s post so you can see all the pictures!

And if you feel like supporting me, there’s two options.  First there’s ko-fi and second you could hop on over to Amazon and pick up a pre-order of my book, Animal Instinct.  Plenty of romantic vampire fun for the whole age-appropriate family.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Vampires and Horses

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Some of you might remember a few weeks back I mentioned editing work I’d started when I was sixteen years old.  Well, here’s the result.

Animal_Instinct_eBook_preview

That’s right, folks!  The very first book I ever wrote is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

I started Animal Instinct when I was a wee sixteen year old high school student and finished it my freshman year in college under the eye of professors who knew far more about writing than I did.  I didn’t come back to it again until my last semester in grad school.  After blowing the dust off and wincing at the old bad writing habits, the real editing began.

It’s taken a decade for this book to see the light of day but I’m actually glad about that.  If I’d released it to the world as it was all that time ago, today it would only serve as a time capsule.  All the parts of me that I’d outgrown, lessons I hadn’t had the maturity to learn, would be immortalized.  And I’d rather not have one of my novels serve as a specter of past flaws, writing and personal.

If nothing else, I think my characters deserve better from me and I’m happy I gave it to them.

For a long time whenever anyone asked what Animal Instinct was about I’d give the shortest answer possible.  “Vampires and horses.”  That summary is still true but it leaves out a lot.

Appropriately enough, Animal Instinct is about learning how to be better.  It’s about people who believe they know the best way to do things only to discover something so much better was waiting just out of sight.  It’s a journey where the characters have to put aside the habits that had worn out their usefulness and take a good, long look at their mistakes.

But hey, there’s still plenty of vampires and horses.  Go check out the summary if you don’t believe me!

 

Animal Instinct is due to be released Oct. 21, 2017.  Go get those pre-orders in, friends.  I’ve got a personal goal of 100 and here’s where we stand so far:  2/100

Jenny Reads Handbook for Mortals Chapter 0

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Down once more to the dungeon of my amateur voice acting…

Down we plunge to the prison of badly written novels…

It’s been a long long time since I finished up the audio for Jenny Trout’s 50 Shades adventure.  Or at least the audio for the first book.  Nowadays Jenny’s tackling a different horrifying sea beast.  It’s a book called Handbook for Mortals that recently caused something of a stir.  Jenny explains the story in detail on her blog.  If you want the nitty gritty, that’s the place to be.  And you want to be there anyway so you can see the pictures and videos referenced.

Me?  I’m just here to report her brilliance in harpooning the fuck out of this pile of garbage.

Mysterious and Strange

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Today I was thinking about my Omens of Ill Fortune post and I realized that aside from my freshman year, something always went wrong whenever I was about to head back for undergrad at Sarah Lawrence.  More than that, it was a gradually escalating scale of bad.  You already know what was on the high end of the scale if you read the Omens post but in case you forgot, I have two words for you.

Walking pneumonia.

But my sophomore and junior year were similarly plagued.  Granted, the sophomore year incident wasn’t so bad.  The night before I was going to fly back I was cooking dinner and put my hand on a pan to get it out of the oven.  No glove because I’m a special genius who understands how ovens work.

(Still not as bad as when I put a towel in the oven because my brain told me it was totally normal, we always put the towel in the HEATED oven.)

So I scorched myself but I’d pulled my hand off fast enough that the skin only went a little red.  Thoroughly chastened, I put on oven mitts and and got the pan on the stove.

Where I then proceeded, not five minutes later, to stick my bare hand on the pan handle to adjust its position.

And yes, the handle is metal.

No, it hadn’t cooled.

This time the burn was not mild because I’d gone and wrapped my whole damn hand around the handle.  My palm got a taste of hell’s inferno right then.  The worst part had to be me just yelling out loud at myself as my mother looked on in bewilderment as to how I’d possibly made the same mistake twice in under ten minutes.

So I’d gone and done the cleverest thing possible.  I had a blister on my right hand not twenty-four hours before I’d need to be using it consistently to drag my suitcase around the airport and then later, you know, unpack my dorm room.  Awesome.  Wow.

Junior year a horse stepped on my back.

The story there is that Brego was still young and slight.  These days he’s a muscled-up freight train of elegance and poise (while still being a total dork sometimes) but in his early years he wasn’t the most sturdy.  You wouldn’t be either if you kept having dramatic growth spurts just as you started filling out.

It’s our last ride together and my trainer has us on the lunge line so she can control the pace of what we’re doing.  Everything’s fine, very routine, until something frightens Brego out of his skin.  Now I never saw what it was but according to witnesses a golf cart took a turn a little too quick and appeared.  Horses aren’t fans of things appearing out of nowhere.  To this day Brego does not like it when something loud and dramatic sounding happens behind him.

My experience goes a little something like this:

Brego leaps up and to the side, throwing the both of us off balance.  The lunge line is nowhere near enough to keep him steady and even though I had kept my seat, for sure wasn’t going anywhere, we were still tipping.  My weight at the angle we were leaning was too much for Brego to correct himself.  I had about a split second to figure this out and to then make the executive decision to bail.  I couldn’t think of a single good thing that’d be accomplished if Brego and I hit the ground together so I decided to take the fall alone.

This was both good and bad.  Good because a horse didn’t fall on my leg.  Bad because Brego still hadn’t quite gotten his feet under him and I was in his way.

Now, horses don’t want to step on you.  They flat-out do not want it.  No thank you ma’am that sounds terrible.  So when his hoof landed on my back he was quick to get it the hell off.  But even with just a fraction of his weight, that is a goddamned heavy animal.  My saving graces in that situation were how fast he got off me, the give of the footing I’d landed in and the fact it was my lower back so my spine had a little cushion around it.

So after checking to be sure I could still move my legs and getting levered off the ground, we went to the hospital and made sure nothing was broken.  They gave me a Vicodin pill that sent me on a ride to Loopy Town but no permanent damage to my back was found.  I lived on Advil for about a week to keep my back from screaming.  Weirdly, it never bruised the way I thought it would.  At most there was a sort of shadow whereas I expected a technicolor spectacular.

Then once I got back to school I had to move furniture so, you know, great timing.

Junior year was actually triple special on the bad news front.  First, my grandfather passed away shortly before I had to go back.  Then the last ride I had up where the horses live ended in catastrophe.  And then when I finally got home to pack up, Hurricane Irene canceled my flight.  Talk about a series of unfortunate events.

Then finally there was senior year with the pneumonia.  I actually can’t believe I hadn’t thought of how bad luck would smack me up the side the head every time I went back to school after summer break.  That might be a good thing, though.  I might never have gone on to grad school there if I thought there was some malevolent spirit gradually upping its game every time I flew back for a new year.

Come to think of it, I also always got bumped from at least one of my chosen classes so I had to scramble to pick a new one every year.

You know what?  I’m making a note.

Never do anything important in late August.

Ever.