Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Nocturnal Lives’

Saying goodbye is hard to do

No, I’m not leaving MGC. But I am saying goodbye, at least for awhile, to a set of characters that have been with me for a decade. When I sat down to write the book, I knew it would be difficult. I love these characters but the story has run its course. The series is already a couple of books longer than I figured it would be. Still, I hadn’t expected it to be this hard or that it would impact me the way it has.

But it goes beyond saying goodbye to the characters and typing “The End” at the bottom of the manuscript. I realized yesterday that my subconscious has dug its heels in and is doing everything it can to keep me from letting go. Not only did it take the book to places I hadn’t planned on, but it has kept me from following my own rules when it comes to promotion. Read more

Nocturnal Revelations –snippet

Apologies for the lateness of the post. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t figure out what to write about today. I started and deleted three different times. The problem is I’m in the final stages of preparing a book for release and that has taken over my brain. So, instead of trying a fourth time to write something coherent, here’s a snippet from Nocturnal Revelations, the next installment in the Nocturnal Lives series. The release date is set for March 5th. Read more

Sort of a repost and sort of not

With Christmas almost upon us, I know there are folks out there like me who still have gifts to buy. So, with indulgence from Cedar, I am going to re-post the Indie Author Christmas Sale. After spending some time yesterday trying to find a book for my mother and absolutely refusing to pay $10.99 – $13.99 for e-books, I appreciated going to the Indie Author Sales listing and finding books that didn’t cost the price of a meal out.

That is the sort or a repost. The sort of not is simple and short. If you find a book on the list — or any other book you would recommend to someone else — leave a review for it on Amazon or elsewhere. If you have a blog, write a blog post about it. That is the best form of promotion any author, and especially an indie author, has. I know I’m not the only one out there who appreciates every review. Well, almost every review. The negative ones can hurt and the ones left by folks who haven’t read the book but who leave negative comments simply because they don’t like the price or author politics or whatever are always a head meets wall moment.

And now for the list:

***

Dragon Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 3)

By Cedar Sanderson

On sale for the first time from Dec 17-23rd

The pixie with the gun has come home to see his princess crowned a queen and live in peace. But nothing is ever easy for Lom. A gruesome discovery on his doorstep interrupts their plans and sends Lom off on a mission to save not one, but two worlds. It’s personal this time and the stakes are higher than ever before. With friends falling and the enemy gathering, Bella and Lom must conquer the worst fears and monsters Underhill can conjure. Failure is not on the agenda.

Or if you would rather give the whole trilogy, Pixie for Hire: Omnibus Edition is now available in ebook form only.

***

Young Warriors (Wine of the Gods Book 10)

by Pam Uphoff
Free for five days!
It’s traditional for young lords in the Kingdom of Ash to spend two years in the army. Xen Wolfson is a young wizard, and Garit Negue a young prince. And the world is filled with adventures and danger . . . and learning experiences.

Their world has been in sporadic contact with two different cross-dimensional worlds–generally as a target for conquest. When the Empire of the One returns, the young warriors are standing foursquare in their path.

***

Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4)

By Amanda Green

Brand New Release!

The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.

If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.

What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.

The first three volumes (Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade and Nocturnal Interlude
are available individually or as the Nocturnal Lives “boxed set”.) are also available.

***

Hilda’s Inn for Retired Heroes

By Cyn Bagley

In Delhaven, there is an Inn run by a retired mercenary. If you are a down-on-your-luck mercenary or men-at-arms, come to the public rooms and Hilda Brant, the owner, will give you a bowl of stew. If you want ale, hand over the coins. Hilda may give you floor space, but she expects you to pay in favors or coins.

Hilda isn’t prepared for the damage and chaos caused by a dragon, black mage, and elementals. And a very angry Lord Barton.

***

The High T Shebang (The Baby Troll Chronicles Book 1)

By Mark Alger

Dolly was reborn into a new body just last week. Right out of the birthing chamber, she was tumbled into a conflict that goes back to the stone age. Her creator, the Greek Goddess, Aphrodite, has disappeared, and the God in charge of her institution — the Babylonian Marduk — has called for her death. Her lover and Geppetto, Mitchell Drummond, is threading his way through political minefields to keep Dolly safe.

New in love, they soon find they can’t keep their hands off each other. Their sexual fever comes to worry them. They suspect there’s more to the situation than mere new love. Meanwhile, they have a job to do. Keeping up the pretense that all’s well and nothing’s going on is wearing thin. But in Upothesa, you’re not allowed to talk about secrets. Dolly is a secret. Trying to keep it together, Dolly and Drummond go on a mission to New Zealand to protect the Dolly’s secret and the life of a major TV drama star.

***

Collisions of the Damned: The Defense of the Dutch East Indies (The Usurper’s War Book 3)

By James Young

My God, we are losing this war.—Lt. Nicholas Cobb, USN

March 1943. The Usurper’s War has resumed, with disastrous results for the Allies. In Hawaii, the U.S. Pacific Fleet lies shattered after the Battle of Hawaii. Across the Pacific the Imperial Japanese Navy, flush with their recent victory, turns its gimlet eye towards the south and the ultimate prize for their Emperor: The Dutch East Indies.

For Commander Jacob Morton and the other members of the Asiatic Fleet, the oncoming Japanese storm means that the U.S.S. Houston and her Allied companions must learn to fight against overwhelming odds against an enemy who claims the night as their own. In the skies above Houston and the other old, tired vessels of the ACDA Fleet , Flight Lieutenant Russell Wolford and his men attempt to employ the Allies’ newest technology to even the odds. With full might of the Japanese Empire falling on them, the ACDA’s soldiers, sailors, and marines must fight to hold the line long enough for reinforcements to come.

***

Blackbird (The Colplatschki Chronicles Book 7)

By Alma Boykin

$.99 Dec 21-24, 1.99 Dec 25-28

One man becomes all that the Turkowi fear – and respect. Matthew Charles Malatesta, second son and rumored bastard of a mercenary, grandson of Duke Edmund “Ironhand” von Sarmas.  One man, who will fight to the last breath to carve a place for himself, who will create a court of learning and civilization, who stands alone between the might of the Turkowi Empire and all of Godown’s people.

***

One In Infinity: A Reality Crossing Novella

By Amie Gibbons

On sale for $0.99 from 12/19 to Christmas

Turns out coincidences do happen, and it sucks when it leads killers from an alternate reality to your door…

Rose plans on partying her last weekend of freedom before her residency starts, but fate has different plans. When men straight out of a fantasy novel attack, she gets pulled into a blood feud between magical beings thanks to a random stroke of luck. Now she has to adjust to her new world view and help one of the men to save herself from a fate worse than death.

***

Tick of the Clock

By Travis Clemons and Michael Z Williamson

A man awakens in a 21st century Illinois hospital, holding very distinct memories of being shot in Switzerland decades earlier. The nurse calls him Detective Crabtree and says the DuPage County Sheriff will be by to check on him shortly. Yet he remembers his name being Sherlock Holmes.

When Sabrina Worthington is killed during a home invasion, her billionaire husband has an ironclad alibi. But Adam Worthington does not appear to be the grieving widower people would expect to see. Meanwhile, their former girlfriend keeps tugging on every possible string to convince the authorities to indict the man for murder.

By the tick of the clock, it would seem impossible for a man to be shot in the 19th century and wake up more than one hundred years later. It would also seem impossible for a man to shoot his wife while she’s at home and he’s at a theater thirty miles away. But when the seemingly impossible is properly analyzed, will Holmes determine the improbable truth behind her death and his life?

***

The Spaewife

by David L. Burkhead

Pricing will be $0.99 the 19th through the 26th.

A young mother hears the Norns. They tell her of terrible things to come. When Ulfarr wants her gift of prophesy to serve him, he takes her, murders her husband, and steals away her children. Can the young mother escape from Ulfarr’s clutches and save her children from him? Only the Norns know.

***

Via Serica

by Tom Rogneby

on sale from the 19th to the 26th for $1.99

Marcus Aemelius Paullus has a problem – he is playing with fire and falling in love with the wrong woman. Appius Plinius also has a problem – he has a unit full of warriors who continually get themselves, and him, in trouble. Caesar Augustus has a solution to their problems, but it may cost them their lives. Eastward lies fame, fortune, and the key to returning home. Deserts, mountains, marsh, and ocean lie between, occupied by barbarian cultures and hostile rulers. On this grueling journey, Marcus and Appius will find their courage tested to the limits. But before they’re done, the world will know the unconquerable spirit of Rome!

Of numbers and sequels and spoiled chicken

I truly hope the way the morning began isn’t an indication of what the day holds for yours truly. I keep reminding myself that I am lucky that my mother, at 83, is in good health and still has all her faculties. Yes, I can see her slowing down and there are times when she might repeat something we discussed the day before. But, overall, she is still a strong, vibrant woman who is living life to the fullest. Of course, that almost came to an end this morning when I went out to clean the windshield of the car. I opened the car door and was assailed by an aroma that can only be described as “OMG, something crawled in here and died!” That stomach turning, nausea inducing stench that comes only from spoiled meat.

No, none of the local animals had taken up residence in our car. Fortunately. Not that it helps the stench any.

It seems that when Mom went to the store yesterday afternoon, she forgot that she’d put the sack with chicken breasts in it on the floorboard behind the drivers seat. That is never a good thing but it was compounded by the fact that here in the DFW area, we are having some very warm temperatures. So, after the car sat out in the sun for hours and then in the garage overnight, the chicken was well and truly ripe. Even now, almost an hour after finding it and after febreezing the heck out of the car and then washing up, I still smell that horrible odor. Please, don’t let that be a prelude to what is to come today.

Anyway, hopefully that excuses me for being late this morning with today’s post. Believe me, there is never enough coffee to prepare you for dealing with spoiled chicken in your car  😉

Numbers. Numbers are the bane and the lifeblood of authors. They represent how many books we’ve sold and are how we measure our success. That’s why, right now, so many authors are tearing their hair out and wondering what has happened the last few months. I can’t tell you the number of times on social media or in private conversations, I’ve been part of discussions about how numbers have plummeted. There are a number of different possible explanations: the back to school slump, folks not sure if they will have another paycheck so they’ve been cutting back on all spending, Amazon has been changing its algorithm again (not so much on how it reports sales but on how its search engine works) to the Kindle Unlimited Program taking sales away through lends.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my numbers have traditionally been down August – October. So, while I worry about the lower numbers, I’m not going to panic — yet. The one thing I do know is that my lends under the KU Program often outnumber the sales on any given day. Part of me says this is a good thing. I still get paid for the lends and it means folks are looking at my work. But there’s another part of me that isn’t so sure. For one thing, even though I get paid, that payment is less per lend than I made under the KOLL program. For another, you don’t get paid under KU until someone has “read” a certain percentage of the book. So they can download the book today and not open it for months — or more — and you won’t be paid until that set amount is read. I will admit, I’ve been considering removing my books from the KU program to see if there is a “correction” of the trend of borrows vs. buys. I’m not sure yet and, to be honest, I probably won’t make the decision for another month or so. It simply isn’t in the top five — or even ten — things I need to do right now.

The first on my list of things to do is to finish the edits on Duty from Ashes, the next book in the Honor & Duty series. I hate editing at the best of time. I really hate editing books that are part of a series. Not only do you have to make sure the book you have just written doesn’t have any major plot holes — after all, it isn’t good to leave poor Joe hanging off the edge of the cliff at the end of Chapter Three and never get back to him — but you have to make sure your grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc., are all done properly. When a book is part of a series, you have to make sure you don’t change canon, without good cause, and that your characters are all called the same name and look the same from book to book. You have to make sure you don’t alter the terrain of your world or change major descriptions of the cities or countries where your story takes place.

I’ve found that it isn’t difficult to keep track of the details in series where your “world” is fairly small and you have a small(ish) cast of characters. But Duty from Ashes doesn’t fit that bill. It builds upon the events of Vengeance from Ashes and uses a number of the same characters — so far, so good — but then it adds characters and locales. Different branches of the military are represented as are different planetary governmental systems. There is some overlap with what we know regarding military structure but, because this is science fiction and it takes place at a different time and most definitely a different planet, there are differences.

Keeping track of all that, including the similarities and the differences re: the military, means editing is a much slower process than usual. I find myself referring not only to my notes, which include character descriptions, but also to the text of Vengeance. So far, I haven’t gone too far astray, but the concern is there. As a result, I find myself questioning things in my writing I wouldn’t under usual circumstances. I also find myself looking for distractions, including doing things I would normally never want to do. (For example, I caught myself yesterday emptying the kitchen cabinets and going through everything to see what we should keep, should give to my son and what should be donated.)

But, as an added distraction, my back brain has decided to come to the forefront. Specifically, that part of my brain that had been figuring out what to do with Nocturnal Challenge, the fourth and next to the last (possibly) book in the Nocturnal Lives series, has started shouting at me. It wants to to quit mucking about with the science fiction and get back to urban fantasy. It is very loud and stamps it foot and pouts when I don’t pay attention. Last week, I finally had to give in and take a day to take notes about the plot. So, as soon as I finish with the edits for Duty, I’ll start on Challenge. From there, well, other books await. I want to do at least one more book in the Hunter’s Moon series. I have a romantic suspense novel about halfway written. Then there is Honor from Ashes, the final book in the Honor & Duty trilogy. (I don’t know if there will be more books featuring Ash and company but I have a feeling there will be more books in that universe.)

In other words, I need to forget about the spoiled chicken and get back to work. Before I do, here’s the mandatory self-promotion bit that I all too often forget to put in.

coverforvfaVengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty)
written under the pen name of Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1)

nocturnaloriginscoveralternatenewSome things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

 

 

Pen names – do you or don’t you?

Those of you who have followed my posts on Mad Genius Club, know that I’m one of those writers who got started rather late in life. It’s not that I wasn’t writing. I’ve written stories for as long as I’ve known how to write.  If it weren’t for Sarah, I’d probably still be happily writing my stories and then shoving them in a desk drawer or under my bed. But she somehow convinced me one day to email her something I’d written. From that moment on, she became my mentor and sometimes my tormentor as she pushed me not only to write but to start submitting my work to agents and publishers. Then, when Amazon – followed by the other major e-tailers – opened up to sales from small presses and self-published authors, she convinced me to not only start working for Naked Reader Press but to submit my work to NRP for consideration.

Believe me, even though I work for NRP, I don’t get any special consideration. Not only does Sarah read and edit my work, but Kate has been tagged to be the first line. If it doesn’t meet Kate’s standards, it doesn’t go any further in the process without me fixing whatever was wrong.

But back to the story.

About a year or so after Sarah started beating me about the head and shoulders to 1) submit my writing to publishers and agents and 2) to quit having bonfires with my rough drafts (and I still haven’t forgiven her for that. Bonfires are nice. Fire good) the two of us attended the national RWA convention in San Francisco. I enjoyed many of the seminars, talked with a lot of authors and got a lot of pointers. I also picked up all the free books I could. And, believe you me, many of them were so bad that I knew I could do better.

So, while Sarah was off with her then agent attending parties or meetings, I holed up in our room and wrote.

I never meant to actually finish the story. I most certainly never meant to let Sarah, or anyone else for that matter, see it. Little did I know that the story had other plans.

A month later, I had a 90k word novel. Worse, Sarah had walked in on me while we were still in San Francisco and caught me writing. So she kept asking how the book was going. How long until it was finished? This is when I discovered she had a warped sense of humor. She was actually enjoying tormenting me about this book, this romantic suspense book – a genre a very rarely read, that had taken over my brain.

That’s when I made my second mistake. I told Sarah I’d finished it. I should have known that she’d want to read it. She did. She wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She didn’t care that I’d not written the novel for public consumption. She said things like, “you are your own worst critic,” and “you aren’t allowed to have a bonfire.” So, I gave in. The pressure was too much and I sent it to her – and to Kate who she had roped into the conspiracy to drive me insane.

Not too long after that, I had messages from both of them. They liked it. I’ll admit, I looked at the AIM windows and wondered when the aliens had taken over the bodies and minds of two women I liked as friends and who I respected as writers. They came back with a few suggestions on how to improve the book and I was convinced that meant it wasn’t worth the electrons it was digitally printed on.

Around this same time NRP came into existence and Sarah was already reading the writing on the wall about a lot of legacy publishing. She told me that she wanted the novel for NRP. She did her best to convince me that readers would like it. I wanted to know why she wasn’t sharing the good booze she was obviously drinking.

Okay, there was one other consideration back then. There was still a very large and ugly stigma to self-publishing or small press publishing, at least in the eyes of agents and publishers. So, a pen name, if I agreed to publish the novel, made sense.

We went back and forth about it for awhile. You see, here’s the issue. The book is fluff. Pure and simple fluff. It wasn’t like anything else I’d ever written. It was almost as if someone else had taken over my brain and my hands and written it while I looked on.

But it was more than that. I didn’t want that to be my first book. I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed as a romance writer (not that there is anything wrong with that. It just wasn’t what I saw myself being back then). So Sarah of the many pen names came up with a solution. Without batting an eye, she asked why I didn’t release it under another name.

I still wasn’t convinced but I’d promised long ago to listen to her advice as my mentor. Plus, what was the harm? If it was a closed pen name, no one would know it was me. I could release the book and then, when the sales tanked, I’d be able to tell Sarah “I told you so” and go back to writing what I wanted to.

Fate’s sometimes a fickle bitch. And she most certainly was this time. It took awhile but the book sold and sold well. Even now, after being out for several years, it continues to sell. Some months it is only a few copies and others it is much more. More than enough to make me reluctantly admit that Sarah had been right.

But I let the pen name sit. Oh, I put out a couple of short stories under it but no more novels. After all, that wasn’t me. I didn’t naturally write romance or romantic suspense, much less rom/susp with humor.

Enter Sarah again about a year ago. I’d hit a spot where I was having a hard time getting into any writing project. I’d tried different things and all I wound up with was a lot of starts and stops. Nothing seemed to gel. Finally, probably out of frustration because I kept whining at her, Sarah threw down a challenge. I had no problem writing the Nocturnal Lives series. So, since paranormal romance was the hot thing, she told me to write a PNR.

I knew she’d lost her mind. There could be no other explanation. Me? Write paranormal romance? No way. Absolutely no way. Unfortunately, my muse, evil bitch that she is, had other ideas. Over the next few weeks, a seed of a story took hold. Before I knew what was happening, the book was written. And, you guessed it, Sarah and Kate liked it and Sarah said NRP was going to put it out. No ifs, ands or buts. It was going to happen. But, since it was PNR and not Urban Fantasy like the Nocturnal Lives series, she suggested I bring it out under the pen name. I jumped at the chance to use the pen name because, yet again, a book had come out of me that I swear I hadn’t written.

That book, just like the romantic suspense before it, sold and sold well. Both have individually paid me more than I’d have gotten in advances from a legacy publisher. The second book in what is now an ongoing series is going to do the same, given time. That’s not something I can sneeze at.

For the last few weeks, as I finished Nocturnal Interlude and started preparing to work on my next project, I started thinking about why I’ve kept the pen name closely held for so long. I can no longer deny the fact that I write romance of different flavors, maybe not as easily as I do urban fantasy, but I write it. Looking back at Nocturnal Serenade and, more recently, Nocturnal Interlude, I see some of the traits of the pen name starting to bleed into those novels. No, they aren’t PNR – heaven forbid – but there is some romance. More than that, the plots are getting tighter and the pacing is better. At least I think so.

Over the last week or so, I’ve had several conversations with Sarah about whether or not it was time to come out of the pen name closet. I talked with Kate about it and even drew Cedar into the conversation. So, long story somewhat short, and with Sarah’s approval – heck, she’s actually kicking me out into public and slamming the door behind me – it’s time to stop hiding behind the pen name.

So, let me introduce myself. My name is Amanda S. Green. But I also write under the name of Ellie Ferguson. The name is a mixture of family names. Ellie was my great-great-grandmother on my mother’s father’s side of the family. Ferguson was the maiden name of my great-great-grandmother on Mom’s mother’s side of the family. Both are names I’ve grown up knowing all my life and together they have been a name I could be comfortable with.

Why, you might ask, am I finally revealing this? Because it’s time. By not being open with the pen name, I’ve been running the risk of losing readers who like the Nocturnal Lives series but who would like more romance with their shapeshifter stories. The same thing goes for those who have enjoyed the Hunter’s Moon series. There may be some of those readers who like mystery and police procedurals mixed with shapeshifter stories.

There is it. My secret is out and now I can’t hide. At least not unless I run faster than Sarah. (Looks around for a really good hiding place. Sighs. She’d find me. She always finds me.) I might not be completely comfortable about this, but it is time.

Welcome to my world and please no more pen names to hide behind because I have enough genres running through my head already.

You can find Ellie’s Amazon page here.

My Amazon page is here. (and I am working to get the pages merged.)

 

And another bites the dust

nocturnal interludenewGreat, now I’m going to have the Queen song in my head all day. Well, at least it’s this one and not another — which shall not be named because then THAT will be in my head and I’ve already lived through that. Don’t want to do it again. Anyway. . . .

Those of you who have been kind enough to follow the relaunch of my personal blog know I’ve been posting snippets from the third novel in the Nocturnal Lives series. Nocturnal Interlude is a bridge story. By that I mean it is taking the main character, Mackenzie Santos, and the rest of the supporting cast in a direction they aren’t sure they want to go. They may not want to go that way but it is something they have to do, at least if they want keep themselves and those they care about safe. For some of them, it means breaking rules they’ve been brought up to respect. For Mac, it means stepping into a role that is a very uncomfortable fit. But it’s a role she knows has to be filled, like it or not.

I’ll admit I’ve been uncertain about how this book would go over. (Stop laughing, Sarah. I know I’m ALWAYS uncertain but I’ve been even more uncertain with this one.) The main reason is that it is different, in some ways, from the first two books. It is darker, in my opinion, and every action Mac and company take has the potential to blow up in their faces. If it does, not only will Mac’s career as a cop be over but the existence of shapeshifters in a world that believes them to be nothing but the product of myth and bad Hollywood movies will be revealed. That has to be avoided at all costs, at least for the moment.

This is the world that’s been living in my head for the last few months as I wrote and then edited the book. It’s been about six weeks since I finished the final draft and my round of edits. In that time, it’s made its round of the first readers. It has also been sent to a friend I Tuckerized in the book who gave it a thumbs-up. (By the way, Chris, you’d better be writing.) And in the next 24 – 48 hours it will be live on Amazon as an e-book and shortly thereafter will be available in print.

So now that it has been put to bed, it is time to move on to the next project. Right now, I have two works-in-progress that are vying for my attention. So this may be the time when I do something I haven’t done since Sarah finally applied the pointy boots to my posterior — I may work on two projects at once. At least until one of them takes control. The only problem with that is one is light and not so fluffy and will come out under the pen name and the other is space opera (again, I blame Sarah. This began as a challenge from her to try something different.)

All the above is why my head is scattered today. My brain has decided it wants to go on vacation even if my body won’t take it anywhere. Maybe another gallon or two of coffee will help. For now, if you’d like to see snippets from Nocturnal Interlude, you can follow the links below over to my personal blog.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Also, if you’ve considered joining Scribd and checking out their subscription model for downloading books, here are a few of my thoughts on the service. While subscription services are quite possibly one of the new models of the sales arm of publishing, I’m not convinced the Scribd model is the way to go, at least from the author’s perspective.

I’ll be back next week with a more cogent post, I promise.

It’s Tuesday and the gods are picking on me

As much as I hate to do it, I’m going to basically bail on the post this morning. You see, I learned something valuable yesterday: the writing gods have very perverse sense of humor. Either that or my dog sabotaged everything he could in order to prevent Sarah from going home. First, he somehow managed to take control of the knife I was using to make salad so Sarah would have something light to eat before getting on the plane. The result of the dog-controlled knife is that I tried to take the top of my index finger off. Lots of blood, probably should have stopped at the doc in the box for a stitch or two and now a finger that won’t let me use it to type or much of anything else either. And, if that wasn’t enough, the washer decided it didn’t like the fact Sarah had left and, as a result, when I returned from the airport, my mother greeted me with the news that the washer had exploded and the kitchen sink had backed up. Now, I am hunting and pecking on the laptop while I wait for the plumber.

So, since you guys have given us some really good topics at our last open floors, I’m not going to throw another one out today. Instead, I’m going to do another snippet from Nocturnal Interlude, my current WIP and the third novel, and fourth entry, in the Nocturnal Lives Series. I promise to be back next week — if not later today — with a real post.

***

For the previous snippet, click here.

Nocturnal Interlude is © Amanda S. Green 2013.  Do not copy, alter, distribute or resell without permission.  Exceptions made for ATTRIBUTED quotes as critique or linking to this blog.

***

“Thank God, you’re all right.”

Jackson’s arms went about Mac the moment she climbed into the rear of the black van. For a moment, she let herself just enjoy the comfort of her mate’s embrace. She’d never forget the worry she’d seen in his eyes as she’d been led off by the feds or the anger. She knew without asking that it had been one of the hardest things he’d ever done not to go after them and force the men to release her. If their roles had been reversed, she wasn’t sure she’d have been able to exercise as much self-control as had he.

“Are you okay?”

She lightly touched his cheek, her eyes searching his. Even though Halsey and his partner hadn’t done anything to him, it had been hard not to worry that another team of agents hadn’t appeared to sweep Jackson up. The thought of anything happening to him, especially if it was because of her, made her blood run cold.

“I’m fine now that we’ve got you back.” He kissed her and then helped her into the seat directly behind the driver’s seat. A moment later, he was seated next to her.

“Mateo, what’s going on?”

Her cousin had taken his place in the front passenger seat and, before answering, he told the driver to get them out of there. “Mac, I promise I’ll answer all your questions, but let’s get well away from here first.”

“Damn it, Mateo!” She bit down on her anger. It was reaction to everything that had happened. She knew it. But that didn’t make his refusal to explain any easier to take. “I think I deserve to know what’s happening.”

“Mac.” Jackson reached out and turned her face so she looked at him. “He’s right. I only know the bare minimum and it’s enough to worry me – a lot. We’re on our way to a meeting where everything will be explained.”

She leaned back and scrubbed her hands over her face. Maybe this was all just a bad nightmare and she’d awaken soon. Then she’d be back in Hawaii and everything would be all right. But that wasn’t how her luck ran. No, this was all too real and she was getting a very bad feeling.

“Fine. Just tell me this: is my family all right?”

“They are. Your grandmother and mother are waiting for you. The twins are on their way back from Austin with a couple of my men,” Mateo answered. “And, before you ask, Jackson’s family is safe as well. I promise.”

Mac didn’t know whether to be relieved or not. On a primitive level, relief won out. She’d come to understand over the last few months just how important family really was. But then the implications of what Mateo said hit her. Why would he, or at least someone he worked with, have already taken steps to insure that her family and her mate’s were all right? Had someone specifically targeted them or was the threat more widespread? And why had the feds taken her into custody?

Without a word, she opened the cover on her tablet PC. Before she could turn it on, Mateo reached out and snatched it from her hands. Eyes flashing, jaw clinching, she stared at him in disbelief. What in the hell was going on?

“Mac, you can’t use the tablet or your cell phone or anything else with GPS capability until we scrub it,” he said, his expression serious.

Okay, now she was starting to get scared. Worse, it was fueling her anger and that was making it more and more difficult to maintain control. It wouldn’t take much more for her to shift. She didn’t know about her cousin, but she didn’t particularly want an angry jaguar loose in a moving van. So someone had better start telling her something before that happened.

“Mac, he’s right.” Jackson’s spoke softly but she still heard how worried he was. “Our families are safe but not all of our friends are. Someone has been moving against them for the last few days. We don’t know who and we don’t know why. All we know for sure is that at least half a dozen of our people are missing.”

For a moment, Mac stared at him, not sure she’d heard right. But one look at him was enough to convince her he spoke the truth, at least the truth as he knew it. After what happened at the airport, she wasn’t sure any of them knew the truth. Still, people they knew, maybe even people they loved, were missing.

“Who?” she asked even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to know.

“Pat’s one of them. The twins are also missing.”

If they hadn’t been in the van, Mac would have been on her feet and pacing. Three members of her pride were missing. Three people she cared about. She could almost understand why Pat had been taken. Not only was she a cop – and Mac couldn’t dismiss out of hand that one of Pat’s old cases from Narcotics hadn’t caught up with her – but she was also the pride leader’s mate. Two very good reasons why their enemies might want to take her. Also two very good reasons doing so could get someone killed.

But why take the twins? They were barely adults. College students. They had no real standing in the pride except as beloved members. They certainly couldn’t be involved with anything criminal. And there were others missing as well. God, this was a nightmare.

“Are they all from the pride?”

“No. There’s at least one lone pure missing as well as two members of the local pack,” Mateo answered.

“How long? How long since the first one went missing and has there been any sort of demand made?” She had to think like a cop. Ask the questions, eliminate the motives and zero in on the suspects.

And not let her think about what the suspects might be doing to the people she cared about in the meantime.

“Two days and no demands, no contact of any sort.” Mateo sounded as grim as she felt.

“Mike? Is he all right?”

The thought of her captain, her pride leader, and the anguish he must be feeling just then kicked her worry up another notch. Because he was also Pat’s commanding officer, just as he was Mac’s, he and Pat couldn’t go public with their relationship. The fact that she was missing had to be killing him and it would be made all the worse because he wouldn’t be able to let his fear show. Add in the worry he had to be feeling about the twins as well and it could be enough to bring him to his knees.

“He’s angry and scared,” Jackson replied. “But he’s coping so far. At least he says he is.”

“Mateo, I have a feeling there’s a lot more to this than you’ve told us so far.” She waited until he reluctantly nodded. “Than you’d better accept the fact that I am in this until we find out what’s happened and we catch the people responsible. Try to shut me out and I promise you won’t like the consequences.”

Damn it all to Hell and back again. This is what she got for going on vacation.

***

The other titles in the Nocturnal Lives Series are:

Nocturnal Interlude is the third novel and fourth title in the Nocturnal Lives Series. The other installments in the series are:

nocturnaloriginscoverNocturnal Origins

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

nocturnal SerenadeNocturnal Serenade

In this sequel to Nocturnal Origins, Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

NOCTURNAL HAUNTSNocturnal Haunts

Mackenzie Santos has seen just about everything in more than ten years as a cop. The last few months have certainly shown her more than she’d ever expected. When she’s called out to a crime scene and has to face the possibility that there are even more monsters walking the Earth than she knew, she finds herself longing for the days before she started turning furry with the full moon.

New beginngings — or maybe not so new

First off, let me apologize for bailing on Tuesday. We’ve all had those days when, no matter how well you have the day planned, something happens to throw everything to the wind. Tuesday was that day for me. I appreciate all the comments you guys left about potential topics and I promise to get to them. But I want to do them justice, so I’m going to put them off until Tuesday or maybe even next weekend. The simple truth of the matter is, as Sarah noted in her comment that day, I’m pushing deadlines myself right now and my head isn’t into anything but finishing the current WiP as well as real work for NRP.

The current WiP started out fighting me tooth and nail. I knew the basic plot. Since it is the third book in the Nocturnal Lives Series (and the 4th title), I knew the characters. But the notes I made and the first try at writing the opening chapters just felt wrong. The voice wasn’t right — even after I went back and re-read the other titles in the series. The tone of the book wasn’t right. And, when I tried to figure out what was going wrong, all that happened was my muse laughed mockingly at me.

So I talked to Kate and Sarah. Both assured me it would come if I quit fighting it. Maybe I needed to write something else. The problem with that was I needed to get this book written. I was already late delivering it. I had fans — all three of them — asking when the next installment was coming.  Besides, I’m a stubborn woman — quit laughing, Sarah — and I was going to write this book come Hell or high water.

I put the pages I’d written aside for the day and did what I normally do when the muse is being particularly uppity and not talking to me: I worked myself into exhaustion in the yard. There’s something about physical labor that has always helped me clear the cobwebs out of my head. It’s a time when I can just let my mind wander and this time, fortunately, it helped. The muse started talking and I realized what was wrong with those opening chapters.

Those original pages were retitled and put into another folder. They very well may turn up in another book with different characters. But they most definitely weren’t part of the Nocturnal Lives universe. A new document was opened, formatted and I sat down to write.

And write I did. In about a week, I’ve written over 40,000 words. I’m not always sure about the book and where it is going. For one thing, it has the potential of being much darker than the other books in the series have been. It’s necessary for it to be slightly darker because of where the overall story arc of the series is going. But it means I’m going to be killing off a character I started out not sure I liked but over the course of the series so far have come to realize isn’t nearly as bad as I thought. It means other characters may be broken. Since I like my characters, I don’t like hurting them. But they’ve told me to pull up my big girl pants and do what the story requires. Since I don’t want to make them mad and have them go silent on me again, I’ll do as they say.

All this is a long way of getting around to this. Here’s a snippet from the beginning of Nocturnal Interlude, the third novel in the Nocturnal Lives Series. As always with snippets posted here, this is a rough draft and there very likely will be changes before publication. Nocturnal Interlude is © Amanda S. Green  2013.  Do not copy, alter, distribute or resell without permission.  Exceptions made for ATTRIBUTED quotes as critique or linking to this blog.

***

“Someone had better tell me what the hell is going on!”

Mackenzie Santos slammed her fist down on the table with a satisfying thud. The only thing that kept her from flipping it over was the fact it was bolted to the floor. Angry as she was, even that might not be enough to hold it into place if she didn’t start getting some answers soon. From the looks on the faces of the two men sitting opposite her, they were no happier about the situation than was she. Well, too freaking bad.

Breathing deeply, she leaned back and struggled for calm. This wasn’t the first time she’d been in an interrogation room. Far from it, in fact. But it was the first time she’d been in it in this position. Each time before, she’d been the one reading a suspect his rights and starting the questioning aimed at eventually getting a conviction. Now she sat on the other side of the table, so to speak, with two dark suited men with regulation haircuts that simply screamed “Fed”.

Not that they’d asked her anything. In fact, from the moment she and Jackson Caine had stepped off the jet way into the terminal at DFW Airport, they’d spoken probably fewer than a dozen words. They’d asked if she was Lt. Mackenzie Santos and then told her she needed to come with them. Before she could react, she’d been cuffed and escorted outside to a waiting black SUV, another indication that they were feds. A moment later, they were speeding out of the airport and toward downtown Dallas and the federal building.

Damn it, this was why she never took vacations. Things always happened while she was gone and, apparently, this time the world had taken a sharp left turn into a nightmare she didn’t understand yet.

At least she was no longer cuffed.

A quick glance around the room provided no clues either. It was a standard interrogation room with white walls, battered table, equally battered chairs and a scuffed floor. The overhead light was recessed into the ceiling so a suspect wouldn’t be able to get to it easily to use either as a weapon or as a means to harm himself. The plastic bubble in the far corner housed one of the two cameras monitoring the room. The second camera was located directly opposite the door so it could capture anyone coming or going. What was different about the room was that there was no observation window for witnesses or other investigators to use to monitor an interrogation. Maybe the feds had gone to video monitoring now.

Mac closed her eyes and counted slowly to ten. As she did, she let her senses expand. She didn’t dare shift, not in the middle of the federal building, but she could ease her control on her jaguar enough to enhance her hearing. Mutt and Jeff, the two men sitting across from her, were obviously nothing more than babysitters. They’d been tasked with bringing her in. She wouldn’t be surprised at all to discover they didn’t know why they’d brought her there.

That meant someone was watching, sizing her up before they came in to talk to her. While that didn’t give them an advantage, the fact she had absolutely no idea why she was there did. So did the fact Mutt – or maybe it had been Jeff – had taken her cellphone and tablet PC when they’d taken her into custody, leaving her no way to check in with her captain or even to scan the latest headlines for some clue about what was going on.

The only saving grace was they hadn’t pulled Jackson in. At least she didn’t think they had. That meant he’d been on the phone just as soon as they were out of earshot, calling first her captain – and their pride leader – and then anyone else he could think of. Hopefully, that also included an attorney because she sure as hell wasn’t going to talk without having someone there looking out for her best interests.

She heard the steps outside the door before her companions did. They weren’t the sounds of dress shoes like Mutt and Jeff wore. She’d have expected that. No, the sounds she heard were definitely made by boots, combat boots unless she missed her guess. And that most definitely wasn’t what she’d expected.

Heart beating a bit faster, Mac did her best not to let the others know anyone was outside the door. She wanted to see their immediate reactions to the newcomer. That would tell her much more than words. But it was hard to just sit there. Her jaguar, already nervous and angry at being detained like a common criminal, pushed against her control. It wanted to fight, to make Mutt and Jeff pay for chaining them and separating them from their mate. Cameras and technology didn’t matter to the jaguar and, if Mac were honest with herself, if she didn’t find out why she’d been detained and soon, they wouldn’t matter much to her either.

Damn it, what was going on?

Through half-closed eyes, Mac watched as the door knob turned. A split second later, the door flew open with a bang. Chairs slid across the floor as Mutt and Jeff shoved away from the table and surged to their feet, their hands reaching for guns they’d locked away before entering the room. Then Mutt lifted his right arm to his mouth, urgently speaking into the mic located at his cuff. From the almost panicked look on his face and the way he reached up with his left hand to tap the earbud in his left ear, Mac guessed he either wasn’t getting any answers or at least not getting the ones he wanted.

Well too freaking bad.

Slowly, almost casually, Mac sat up. As she did, her eyes never left the figure that seemed to almost fill the doorway. The newcomer most definitely was not a Fed, at least not the same flavor of Fed Mutt and Jeff were. He wore black utilities. His pants legs were expertly bloused into the tops of his black combat boots. If looks could have killed, Mutt and Jeff would have been nothing more than two piles of smoldering ash.

Instead, they were reacting, and badly, to a situation they obviously didn’t understand. While Mutt continued to try to contact someone, anyone, for orders, Jeff moved around the table to stand behind Mac’s chair. His hands rested on her shoulders, his fingers digging painfully into the skin as he exerted pressure he didn’t need to in order to keep her seated. For the moment, until she knew what was going on, she’d sit there. Let him think he held the upper hand. But as soon as she saw a chance to get out of there, she’d show him just how foolish he’d been to put himself between her and the wall. It was a rookie mistake and she looked forward to teaching him the error of his ways.

“Who the hell are you?” Mutt demanded as he drew himself up to his full height.

Mac couldn’t quite hold back her smile then. The fed might be taller than the newcomer but she had no doubts who would prevail if push should come to shove. Things might just be getting interesting after all.

“ID!” the man snapped.

As he did, another man, also dressed in black utilities, entered the room. Standing next to the first man, he extended on hand and waited.

“Halsey?” Jeff’s fingers dug even more painfully into Mac’s shoulders as he looked to his partner.

“I don’t have to identify myself to you, but you sure as hell better tell me who you are and what you’re doing in our interrogation room!” The blond tried to stare down the two men only to have them look past him to where Mac sat.

“Lieutenant, are you all right?”

“Yes, sir.” She didn’t know what game they were playing – yet – but she had a feeling she needed to play along. “Or I will be as soon as this gentleman quits trying to dig holes in my shoulders.” A jerk of her head in Jeff’s direction.

“I would have thought you could deal with that, LT.”

There was a glint in Captain Mateo Santos’ eyes as he spoke. Mac grinned slightly and dug her heels in against the battered tile. A moment later, her chair slid back, forcing Jeff against the wall. As the chair came to a halt, she pushed up with all her strength, angling her head at the last moment so her shoulder instead of the crown of her skull, connected with the Fed’s chin. He gave a cry of pain and she felt the satisfying jar as his jaw snapped shut. Then she was on her feet and away from the table, her back to the side wall and her eyes watching everyone as she waited for the next act to play out.

She saw Mutt’s muscles tense as he prepared to rush her cousin. At the same time, Jeff pushed to his feet. With a bellow, he leapt in her direction. Before she could react, the man who’d entered just after Mateo was there. He caught the Fed mid-air and body slammed him to the floor. Shaking her head, wonder and disbelief filling her, Mac watched as he then flipped the fed over and secured his wrists behind him with a pair of flex cuffs. Then her attention snapped back to Mateo who had one hand around Mutt’s – no, Halsey’s – throat and was lifting him so his toes barely touched the floor.

“I asked for your identification.” Mateo’s voice was calm but anger flashed in his dark eyes as the man’s hands dropped from where they’d been clawing at Mateo’s wrist to pat his pockets in search of his ID. A moment later, Mateo released him. Even as he dropped to his knees, gasping for breath, Mateo’s companion was there to secure him just as he had the other agent.

“Captain, don’t get me wrong. It’s good to see you, but would you mind telling me what’s going on?”

And if we’re going to have to fight our way out of here?

“In a moment, LT.” If he was trying to reassure her, he was doing a damned poor job of it. His expression was hard and his eyes dark with anger as he tossed the Agent Halsey’s ID onto the table. Then he nodded to his companion to lift the agent to his feet. “All right, Halsey. I’m going to say this only once, so you’d better pay close attention. Nod if you understand.”

Halsey nodded but he wasn’t happy about it. Not that Mac really blamed him. He had to be scared to death. At least he ought to be if he had a grain of common sense. Two men in black fatigues had just made their way into a secure federal building, through several checkpoints and had just taken him and his partner down. Now they were the ones cuffed like common criminals and no one, none of their fellow agents had come to even see what the disturbance was. If she happened to be in their shoes, she’d have been doing everything she could to get free and then to see what had been done to her fellow cops.

“My name is Captain Mateo Santos, USMC on detached duty to the Department of Homeland Security.” Now he produced his own ID and shoved it in Halsey’s face. “You and your idiot partner violated orders when you took Lt. Santos into custody. You were to simply meet her and her companion at the airport and escort them back here.” Before Halsey could protest, Mateo held up a hand, effectively silencing him. “Don’t bother trying to deny it. I’ve seen the orders. Now, if you want to have a chance at all of saving your job, you will tell me why you took the lieutenant into custody, confiscated her cellphone and tablet PC and denied her her civil right to call an attorney.”

“They also confiscated my off-duty piece, sir.” And that had been the most insulting of all. No cop ever willingly gave up her weapon. The fact that she’d been arrested, cuffed and disarmed rankled more than she wanted to admit.

“LT, did they say anything about why they took you into custody?”

“No, sir. Not a word.”

He nodded, frowning. “Halsey, I’m waiting.”

“Go to hell.” He tugged ineffectually against the flex cuffs securing his wrists behind his back. “We don’t have to explain anything to you. In fact, I’ll have your ass as well as hers up on charges just as soon as we’re out of here.”

Mateo actually laughed. Then he reached down and grabbed Halsey by the collar, hoisting him to his feet. “You can try it.” With his left foot, he hooked the chair Halsey had occupied earlier, turning it around so he could shove the agent onto it. “Ask yourself why no one has come to help you and your partner. Or why no one answered your call requesting backup. They know you screwed up and that screw up may cost hundreds, maybe thousands, of people their lives.”

Mac stared at her cousin in disbelief. Surely that was all just some sort of cover story. She was a cop. None of her cases were such that they involved more than a few people. What he was talking about was on the magnitude of a terrorist attack or –

God, the or scared the hell out of her. Was it possible their kind had finally been discovered? No, that couldn’t be the case. If it was, Mateo wouldn’t be there. He’d be doing everything he could to protect the others. Her life, one single life, wouldn’t be worth risking so many others.

“Captain?” If her voice shook a little, she didn’t care. She needed to know what was going on and what he’d meant.

“Let’s get you out of here, LT. Unless you’d like a few minutes alone with these two gentlemen.”

As tempting as it was to take him up on his offer, she shook her head. She wanted as far from there as possible, as quickly as possible. Then she wanted to know exactly why the feds were supposed to meet her at the airport and why these two had disobeyed orders.

“Sir, we do need to know why they detained Lt. Santos,” the other man said softly.

“I believe you can get that information from them, Sergeant Lee. Once you have, turn them over to their supervisor for appropriate disciplinary action. Then report in.”

“Understood, sir.” The look he gave Halsey and his partner sent chills down Mac’s spine. “Don’t worry, ma’am, I’ll find out what went wrong.”

Mac nodded, not trusting herself to speak. As she turned back to Mateo, a man with greying hair appeared in the doorway. Without a word, he handed Mateo Mac’s cellphone, tablet PC and off-duty weapon. Then he looked at the two agents, both now sitting before the table. His expression hardened and he stepped inside.

“Halsey, Ferrer, you will answer their questions and tell them anything and everything they want to know. I’ve already authorized them to go through your electronics as well as your desks and lockers. When they are done with you, we’re going to have a chat of our own.”

“Thank you, Special Agent Ramirez. My sergeant is going to stay and ask them a few questions.”

“I’ll make sure the office knows to give him any information he needs, Captain.” He turned to look at Mac and she smiled slightly. She’d worked with Ramirez on several cases before and knew him to be one of the few feds who worked well with local law enforcement. “Lieutenant, my apologies for the actions of my agents. I assure you, they will be disciplined.”

She nodded. Much as she didn’t like it, this wasn’t her game to play. All she hoped was that someone filled her in on the rules soon, before it was too late.

“Let’s roll, LT. There’s a lot to do and not much time to do it in,” Mateo said as he handed her first her gun and then the rest of her things.

He waited as she slid the gun into her waistband at the small of her back and then he left the interrogation room. With one last look at the two agents, she nodded to the sergeant and then to Ramirez before hurrying after her cousin.

***

Nocturnal Interlude is the third novel and fourth title in the Nocturnal Lives Series. The other installments in the series are:

nocturnaloriginscoverNocturnal Origins

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

nocturnal SerenadeNocturnal Serenade

In this sequel to Nocturnal Origins, Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

NOCTURNAL HAUNTSNocturnal Haunts

Mackenzie Santos has seen just about everything in more than ten years as a cop. The last few months have certainly shown her more than she’d ever expected. When she’s called out to a crime scene and has to face the possibility that there are even more monsters walking the Earth than she knew, she finds herself longing for the days before she started turning furry with the full moon.

 

To dream or to do

Last night I was talking with Sarah via IM and asking what I ought to blog about today. Normally finding a something to blog about isn’t a problem. The problem is usually finding one that isn’t such a hot button topic that we’d be invaded by trolls and an epic flame war would erupt. But the last five weeks have been filled with family issues to deal with, illness and, finally, writing. Lots and lots of writing. My brain is wrapped up in plot twists and turns and thinking in bloggish isn’t what it wanted to do. So, I turned to mentor and friend and twin by another mother, Sarah.

We’d been discussing various magical creatures and whether or not we need a “bible” for the shared world some of us are going to be writing in. The unanimous response is that, yes, we do. Not a true story bible, but at least one with basic world rules in it and then some references to some of the creatures we’ll be using. That, of course, led to a discussion of contract terms. The long and the short of that is, once we agree on the contract, one of us will be posting it here as an example of what we see as a working and fair shared world contract between authors. Even now, we’ve agreed that copy right will rest in the individual author, just as it does with any other optioned novel that isn’t a work for hire. Rights will revert back to the individual author after a set time unless the parties agree to extend the contract, again for a set period of time. If a publisher approaches one of the authors wanting to bring out that book or another in the world by that author, there will be mechanisms in the contract that will allow for that. Reporting of royalties will be quarterly, possibly monthly. That hasn’t really be settled yet. There’s more, as you can imagine, but these will be our individual works, based in a world we share. I’m excited about it and scared because I know I’m the novice in the group. But, scared or not, I’m looking forward to this new project and hope I do the others proud.

When I told Sarah that, I could hear her chuckling even though we were on IM. Then there was the figurative finger snap and she suggested that I write on Writers and Dreaming. I’ll admit, I was non-plussed by what she meant at first. Was she talking about how some writers have their plots come to them in dreams? Or was she talking about how being a writer is a “dream job”? (Pardon me while I laugh hysterically at that. Sorry, but a dream job is one that doesn’t require this much WORK.) Maybe she was talking about dreaming about how your family will finally understand that writing is a job and not something that can be turned on and off just because someone needs a shirt ironed or a sandwich made.

Turns out it was all that and something more. Writers are dreamers. We dream up these wonderful stories in our heads and do our best to get them down on paper — or electrons. We have closets or drawers or thumb drives filled with stories and notes and images that help us visualize our stories as we write them. Most of all we dream of having other people read what we write and like it.

It is that last dream that is so enthralling and so frightening at the same time. Look at how long it takes for most writers to even admit they are — gasp — writers. Many of us still haven’t told family or friends. Why? There are any number of reasons, ranging from fear of someone you care about making fun of your chosen profession to fear of letting a parent or loved one down. Still, we write. We dream those wonderful plots and those intriguing and often times irritating characters become family in their own right.

As writers, we have to ask ourselves if we are writing for ourselves only — and there is nothing wrong with that. I have a lot of things I’ve written that will never see the light of day. Why? Because they are too close to me. They were written to help deal with things that are not meant to be public. Most of us have different coping mechanisms. Mine is to write. So those things are often destroyed after they have served their purpose. No, these aren’t what I call bonfire fodder. These are my coping mechanisms and mine alone. These are my personal demons or others’ and no one else’s. — or writing so others can read our work.

And this is where the ultimate dream for most writers happens. Most of us do want others to read our work. At least that’s what we say. But how many people do any of us know who say they want to write but they don’t know how? Or they sent something off to an agent or publisher and that person didn’t like it and now they won’t send anything else out ever again because it is obvious they aren’t good enough? Then there are those who want to write so others can read their work but they want to be published by a “legitimate” publisher so no way will they pollute their work by self-publishing it or sending it to a small press?

Then there are those writers who, for whatever reason, write but never finish anything. The writers who have reams and reams — or megs and megs — of work stored away, just waiting for the conclusion to be added. These are good stories, maybe even great stories, but incomplete. Why? Is the author just a victim of popcorn kittens or are they afraid of actually finishing something and sending their baby out into the cruel world?

The why doesn’t matter. What does is that we, as writers, have to understand that the publishing world has changed. That means we have so many new and viable avenues available to us, avenues to publication that were not there just a few years ago. Most readers don’t give a flying flip about who your publisher is. Heck, most readers couldn’t name their favorite authors’ publishers on a bet. They have loyalty to the author, not the house (okay, this is a generalization. I don’t want my fellow Baen barflies coming to “remind” me about them. I did say most readers.) Readers want a story that entertains or engages and is well edited and formatted. That’s it. They don’t, on the whole, demand that story come from Random Penguin or MacMillan or Harlequin.

So that means, my fellow writers, you have to decide what you are going to do. Are you going to continue to hang onto the old guard, crying that you won’t publish anything until it comes our from a “real” publisher or are you going to look at what your options really are? Are you going to quit dreaming about being a writer and actually do whatever it takes to bring a quality product to the reading public?

Suffering for your art is over-rated. I don’t know about you, but I like having three squares a day and being able to spend time with my family. I don’t like getting rejection letter after rejection letter because what I’ve just submitted doesn’t fit with what Publisher A is looking for right now or my novel, while well-written and entertaining, just didn’t “speak” to Agent B. I don’t appreciate spending hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours writing a novel and then editing it and only getting a small percentage of the sales price in return. Because I know the book wouldn’t exist but for me and for my work and dreams, I choose to find ways to bring it to the public that rewards me for my hard work, not someone else who may give me a token payment some time down the road.

But the whole point of this is simple: as writers we are dreamers. We have to be. But there comes a point where we have to ask ourselves if we want someone else to read our work and, hopefully, pay to read it. If that is our goal then we have to quit dreaming and take steps to make that dream a reality. We have to persevere, understanding that none of us will get rich overnight. Writing may be our dream but it is also our profession, our job. We have to treat it that way. So, sit butt in chair and write. Then send your work out to your alpha and beta readers. While they are reading it, start on your next project and, at the same time, decide what you are going to do with the finished work once you get it back from your readers. Then follow through. That is the most difficult thing for many of us. But, in order to make our dream come true, we have to.

Quit dreaming and start doing. My TBR stack is getting shorter. I need something else to read. In the meantime, here are some of my titles I’ve kicked out of the nest and sent into the big bad world. Check them out, buy them so my cat and dog will quit nibbling at my ankles 😉

N51t3Z2-LznL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-47,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_octurnal Origins

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

serenadecoverthumbNocturnal Serenade

In this sequel to Nocturnal Origins, Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

nocturnal hauntsNocturnal Haunts

Mackenzie Santos has seen just about everything in more than ten years as a cop. The last few months have certainly shown her more than she’d ever expected. When she’s called out to a crime scene and has to face the possibility that there are even more monsters walking the Earth than she knew, she finds herself longing for the days before she started turning furry with the full moon.

A reminder, a request and a contest

Good morning. It’s Saturday at the asylum, er, working offices of the Mad genius Club. We’re all busily working on our next books — butts in chair, fingers on keyboards and lots of coffee and chocolate at hand. So, let’s get down to business this morning.

First the reminder: tomorrow starts the workshop on pacing you requested. Sarah’s going to spearhead this workshop, although she’s threatening to bring some of the rest of the mad geniuses — genii? — in on it as well. So don’t forget to check back

Now the request — which will also include some free e-books for some of you. We’re looking for folks to do some honest reviews of some of our e-books. If anyone would be interested in getting a free e-book or two to read and then post reviews on Amazon, leave a note in the comments section below. Let us know what sorts of books you enjoy reading because we’ve got everything running the range from romantic suspense to mystery to fantasy to science fiction and stuff in between.

And now for the contest. I’m in need of some red shirts for several different projects. The first is for the book I have the privilege of working on with Sarah. It’s tentatively called Rye Crisp. It’s a mix of urban fantasy and mystery with some romance along the way. And yes, there is a Dyce-like character (good heart, willing to do anything to help, hasn’t quite accepted the fact he is dead — yes, he). The main character is an arson investigator who just happens to see things most other folks don’t.

The second is for Russian Nights, which is part alternate history-part historical fantasy. The only way the Romanovs can hold onto power — and keep Russia intact — is to find a way to tap into the magic of the land. This is a power their bloodline has been losing over the years. Enter Rasputin who has discovered a way to find those of the “old blood” who still have that power and to sacrifice them to help keep the tsarevich alive.  Of course you have the members of the old blood, the ancient royal lines, who are starting to suspect what is happening and who have to decide whether their loyalty lies with the tsar and a way of life they’d long known or with their families. Then there are those who will eventually become the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.

Of course, there’s the next Nocturnal Lives novel to be written shortly as well. And we all know that where there are shifters, there must be at least one unexplained death or disappearance. That’s especially true when unnamed government agencies get involved.

So here’s the contest. If you want to be red shirted, write a paragraph that tells what book you want to be red shirted in and how you’d like to be killed. I’ll let Sarah and Kate, both of whom are familiar with what I’ve written so far, choose the winners. You’ll get to be red shirted and you will get a free copy of the e-book.

(Here’s where I go hide under the sink, afraid no one will want to be red shirted. Whimper0

The floor is now yours.