This is one chapter of the second book in The Clockwork Trilogy but the whole book will be released as of tomorrow! Take a listen and see if you wouldn’t enjoy it in your life.
Zachary had always had awful luck with storms. He reflected on this while sopping wet and smeared with dirt halfway through what looked to be an unsuccessful hunt through the woods outside Seattle. If he had been alone once the clouds had erupted above him he would have immediately returned to the Jeep he’d rented for the excursion. Unfortunately, the solitude he had enjoyed most of his life had become a rare commodity of late.
Separated from the woman he loves and trailing the carnage of an abomination, Zachary Platt has spent the past five months feeling useless. That sense only grows when their enemies strike a terrible blow and threaten them with ruin if the last pieces of every vampires’ progenitors are not surrendered. However, the box containing those remains disappeared along with Prudence Whitby and Zachary has little hope of seeing either again.
Prudence had not cut all ties when she had run from the reality of monsters and a love she couldn’t trust. She knows full well the danger she’ll face from friend and foe alike when she returns. An unspeakable monster haunting her steps, she chooses to rely on her family, her aim, and her unshakeable nerves to see her through the battle ahead.
There is little time for reunions with war on the horizon but Prudence and Zachary both are dogged by figures from their pasts. They have no choice but to face the pain and the peril together as the hour of the Fount’s return has finally struck.
Available for pre-order now on Amazon.
For those of you who didn’t get a chance to read the first chapter sample or who simply enjoy hearing me read aloud, here is the audio version of Chapter One in The Winding Key. If you enjoy it please do think about adding it to your Kindle library! It’s available in the store now. Or if you’re a little short on funds this Halloween, share it with your like-minded friends.
Zachary glowered down at the neatly arranged contents of his oldest friend’s suitcase. “Given that our world might very well be on the verge of ending, do you really think now is a good time to go antiquing in California?”
“Are we really about to have the same argument for the fiftieth time?” Mara called out from her bathroom, “Because that would be tedious even by your standards.”
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?
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
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.
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.
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
I’ve been doing a lot of editing recently. Turns out when a good half of a novel got written when you were sixteen, you want to change more than a few things after graduating with a masters in writing fiction. Although, oddly enough, the sex scenes needed very little adjustment.
So during this editing process it can be easy to stare into the void a little too deep and end up questioning every decision you ever made in your life because you used the wrong kind of there there. It’s times like these you need to remember that you aren’t a terrible writer, mistakes happen, and Fifty Shades of Grey exists. If after remembering that you don’t hurl yourself off a cliff because oh god that book got published then you’re doing okay.
It’s important to have standards, really. You want to try your best to present a coherent narrative that won’t inadvertently scar and horrify the masses.
Funnily enough, I’m not referencing 50 Shades again there. I’m talking about a book that came out a while ago that floated in, briefly shook my faith in the written word, and then floated away again.
Does anyone remember List of the Lost by Morrissey? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. I’d put it out of my mind. It helps that I haven’t read it. Never will, either.
So then how, you ask, could I know it was a terrible, terrible thing to inflict on the reading public?
Because all you really need to know about that book is probably its most famous paragraph. Just to warn you, he won a bad sex award for its absolute awfulness. So before you go venturing off to google to find this abomination, be prepared.
Me, I’m not going to retype the whole thing for you. I’d need to boil my fingers after.
But! I will talk about certain phrases that come back to me in my nightmares.
“Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled”
I tried a few times to picture this. Aside from the obvious horror of picturing a woman’s breasts becoming mobile in a way that would enable a barrel-roll to happen, I speculate as to the positioning required to think that would be a good descriptor. In the scene they’re barrel-rolling over some dude’s ‘howling’ mouth – possibly howling in terror at what he’s witnessing – so I picture her sort of bodily rolling over him and just happening to scrape his mouth with her boobs as they go flying overhead.
That’s still not the worst part.
He uses the phrase ‘bulbous salutation’ to describe his erection.
Revolting? Yes, of course. Still not the worst part, though.
No, the worst part is him describing what that erection is doing.
“smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body”
So again, either it detaches – another possible explanation for him ‘howling’ – or he gets up and starts prodding this woman all over her body with his erection. It does specify every muscle. So he’s slapping around her calves at some point before awkwardly angling himself to ‘smack’ the back of her knees. At this point the barrel-rolling almost makes sense as a move, since poor Eliza is probably fighting him to get into a position where sex could happen.
He’s busy acquainting his ‘bulbous salutation’ with her shoulder blades and she goes barrel-rolling around to beg for some actual erotic touching.
Now wait a minute, you might be thinking.
Actually you’re probably thinking ‘I never needed to know this, please stop, I beg you’.
Anyway! You might be thinking I can’t be speculating about how none of this is leading to a satisfying sexual encounter. After all, ‘every muscle’ includes the obvious one, right? I have some bad news.
“smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone”.
Yeah, that’s going to make the sex a touch difficult. Although maybe Eliza’s dodging a bullet there because I’m not sure anyone wants to get smacked in their ‘otherwise central zone’. Their O.C.Z., if you will.
I really hope you won’t because that’s terrible.
It’s at this point I really want to go back in time to my sixteen year old self as she’s writing surprisingly tasteful sex scenes, pat her on the shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, kid. Turns out people who’ve presumably had sex don’t know how to write it, either.”
No matter what mistakes you make while writing, remember to assure yourself that at least you don’t have breasts and erections departing their owners’ bodies.
Unless you’re into that.
What? There’s a genre for everything.