Eden's Creatures is hanging out over at My Reading Addiction today as the first stop in a two week blog tour. I have to thank Cami Hensley for organizing the tour and for a great review. Check out her site by clicking on the banner below or click HERE to see all of the amazing blogs participating in the event. Thanks! :)
An excerpt from Eden's Creatures. Hope you enjoy!
The shadow moves smoothly into the room, black wisps trailing from its body as it approaches the small bed. Red eyes glow in sinister delight at sight of its prey. A gnarled, pale hand reaches for the thin sheet, the only protection the boy has, and flings it to the floor.
Only the boy isn’t there. This time, he’s been waiting, and he springs out of the closet and runs from the bedroom.
The shadow howls at the ruse and chases in pursuit.
The boy sprints as fast as he can, but the short hallway in his home has lengthened overnight. A mile? Two miles? Will it ever end? Every anxious backward glance shows him that the shadow is gaining on him. Reaching for him.
The boy finally bursts free of the house and darts into the forest. He knows these woods. He loves these woods. Surely, here, he will be able to lose his pursuer.
Cold air seeps into his bones. Twigs and rocks bloody his bare feet. Yet he dares not stop.
Up ahead, the path abruptly ends at a cave he has never seen before. He rushes inside and wedges his body behind a large rock. He pulls his knees up to his chest and hugs them close, willing himself not to cry, not to breathe. Not to do anything that might attract the shadow.
But it’s too late. It’s always too late.
The moonlight at the cave opening darkens and those awful eyes turn his way.
There’s nowhere left to run.
Chapter 1 - No Place Like Home
“Punch him again!”
At the shouted words, Cal jerked his head out of the path of imminent pain, but he wasn’t fast enough and the fist hammered into his mouth. An agonized grunt slipped from his lips as his face whipped to the side, a long string of blood and spittle trailing behind.
The two boys holding his arms shoved him to the ground.
“What’s the matter, little guy?” one taunted. “We’re just having some fun. Grow some balls, will you?”
If Cal could have opened his left eye, he would have seen the boot before it connected with his jaw. As it were, he saw nothing before another jolt of fire lanced through the lower half of his face.
“What a jackhole,” spat Bo Pervall, the owner of the boot. Not yet satisfied, he leaned down to grind Cal’s face into the snow before finally stepping away to join his two brothers. More Pervalls. Each bigger than the next. Star football players at Mendon High. All part of the waking nightmare of Cal Taylor’s life.
Amid callous laughter, the trio walked away, leaving Cal facedown on the ground. Snow seeped into his nose. The cold burned his skin. Yet he didn’t move, afraid they’d still be hovering nearby.
When the need for air finally won out, he got up onto his knees and saw that they were gone. He ran a tongue lightly over his swollen lip and tasted blood. Not bad considering that they cut his arms with a knife two weeks ago. Superficial wounds only, but they stung for hours afterwards.
Cal pulled his backpack close and stood. Luckily, he only had six more months of this and then he’d be done with school, done with the Pervall brothers and done with this town.
He gave a mental snort. Big dream for a kid who’s never stepped foot out of Pennsylvania.
And probably never would.
He had no money saved or jobs lined up or prospects of any kind. His technology teacher told him he had one of the brightest minds she had seen in a long time and tried to persuade him to give college a try, but that seemed just as farfetched. His mother couldn’t afford college and couldn’t even be bothered to fill out any of the applications that would allow him to apply for aid or loans.
No, at the end of the school year, he would just be trading one nightmare for another.
He hefted his backpack onto his shoulder and started down the road to his house.
“Cal! Wait up!”
He turned, surprised to see his little brother running toward him. “What are you doing here?” Cal asked when Landon skidded to a stop. “I thought you had basketball practice.”
“Nope, it got cancelled.”
Cal mussed the blond curls atop Landon’s head, so unlike his own dark hair. “Good, then you can clean my room for me.”
Landon groaned. “How about we go sledding instead? Or we could go hunt rabbits. Or,” he said, warming to his ideas, “we could go find Mom a Christmas tree.”
Cal smiled, doing his very best not to see his stepfather in those blue eyes staring back at him. “We’ll see.”
“Come on,” his brother whined.
“I said we’ll see. Now, shut up.”
A moment of silence passed—a record for Landon—and then he asked, “So what do you think we’re having for dinner?”
Cal shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably Frosted Flakes. Same as yesterday.”
“Probably,” Landon agreed, but then stopped Cal with a hand on his arm. “Wait. What happened to your face?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Yeah, I do worry about it. Was it Bo?”
“And his brothers.”
“Why don’t you ever fight back, Cal? Maybe then they wouldn’t bother you so much.”
The question caught him off guard. Especially coming from a twelve-year-old. The last thing Cal wanted was for Landon to think his big brother couldn’t protect him and keep him safe. Even if he couldn’t.
“Because the cowards are so afraid of me,” Cal said, dancing on his toes and thrusting out a few air jabs, “that they only come at me when there’s three or more. Don’t worry. I’ll get ‘em next time.”
Landon nodded proudly. “I’ll help you.”
“No, you just stay away from them and let me handle it.”
Seemingly satisfied with the answer, Landon changed the subject to his day at school and kept up a running commentary the rest of the way home.
“…and then Ethan pulled out Joey’s chair and he fell right on his butt. Mr. Bolton slammed his fist on the desk and—”
They both froze.
As soon as they had turned onto the driveway that led to their small house set back at the edge of Burdick Forest, the familiar sounds of home reached out to them.
Every tortured scream felt like a knife to Cal’s heart. Every violent grunt a blow to his stomach that hurt far worse than anything the Pervalls could ever dream up.
He’s hitting her again.
Landon let out a small moan.
“Stay here!” Cal screamed and took off at a sprint. He raced up the driveway, flew up onto the porch and shouldered through the front door. The yells were louder here, fueling his anger even more and sending him into a reckless charge down the hallway to his parents’ bedroom. A well-placed kick crashed the door open.
His mother lay on the bed in a fetal position and his stepfather, dressed only in a pair of jeans, stood over the top of her with his fist raised.
“Leave her alone!”
Ross Taylor turned toward the door with bloodshot murder in his eyes.
Cal braced for his second beating of the day. His stepfather outweighed him by about sixty pounds, but it couldn’t be helped. It was the only way to protect his mother. Fortunately, he didn’t have to worry about Landon. The elder Taylor saved all of his alcohol rages for those not of his blood.
His stepfather roared and rushed forward like a maddened bull, hitting Cal around the middle, lifting him off his feet and slamming him out through the door and into the wall of the hallway beyond. The breath exploded from Cal’s lungs and he slumped down to the floor under a barrage of close-fisted blows to his head and ribs.
“You little punk,” Ross growled out. “How many times do I have to tell you to stay out of my business?”
“I don’t know why I put up with you!”
“I want you out of this house when you graduate! Do you hear me? Get out and never come back. You’re not wanted here. Never have been!”
If his mother heard any of those hateful words, she said nothing. Not that Cal expected her to. Although he knew that she cared for him on some level, Evie Taylor was simply worn out from life and had nothing left to give to those around her.
“Speak up, stupid! Do you hear me?” Ross hissed, stabbing a finger in Cal’s face.
“I hear you!”
“I don’t care where you go as long as you’re gone.”
“I’ll be gone.”
Ross kicked him one last time and went back into the bedroom and slammed the door shut.
Cal got up and stormed into the kitchen. He grabbed two beers from the refrigerator and walked out the door. Landon was still there waiting at the end of the driveway where Cal had told him to stay.
“Cal! Are you all right?”
Cal ignored him and ran into the woods, pumping his arms and legs as fast as they would go. Racing along all the familiar trails. Straining with the effort until his muscles burned.
I wish I could keep running and never stop.
With that thought in mind, he picked up his pace, every step taking him farther away from his family and his shitty life. Away from the screaming and the beatings and always feeling so damned alone.
He didn’t slow until he came to his favorite spot, a hollowed-out clearing used by most of the teens in town to hang out. Of course, he never joined them if they were there, and relief flooded through him to find it empty now.
Garbage littered the ground. Beer cans. Cigarette butts. Food wrappers. Someone’s sneaker. All strewn around the big fire pit carved into the center.
Cal kicked the refuse with a few choice words and sat down on one of the tree stumps that circled the pit. He pulled the tab on one of the beer cans and waited for the foam to subside before taking several long swallows. “Merry freakin’ Christmas,” he muttered aloud.
A small sound straightened his back, and he swung his gaze toward the heavy woods.
As he sat there, an eerie feeling crawled its way up his spine, sending the hair on the back of his neck standing up. The more he stared, the more he felt sure.
Somewhere, out among those trees, someone lurked.
And whoever it was seemed to be looking right at him.
The girl watched the boy—just as she had for more nights than she cared to count. He looked angry again. No, not angry. Sad would be a better word. The yellowed bruises of a few days ago had been replaced by a fresh, bloody gash on his cheek making her wonder if he might be a warrior. If so, he was not very big.
Yet he did have skill with the bow, and he was very smart. She had seen him hunt rabbits and deer by tracking their footprints on the ground. Once she saw him snap his thumb to create fire. He would sit there alone by the flames and play beautiful music with a small silver instrument that he brought to his lips.
But not all was well with the boy. Often he lashed out against the trees with his fists or feet. Sometimes he would cry.
She wished she could talk to him. Find out more about him. But that would never happen in her lifetime.
The boy was human.
On Sale at Amazon Now for $0.99
Love that title! We do love our monsters, don't we? (Although I have a feeling that if you call Stassi a monster, she might just sink her fangs into your neck.) *Lowers voice to a whisper* Anyway, Eden's Creatures will be participating in a fun Paranormal Romance Blog Hop hosted by author Jolie Du Pre on July 14th. Go from blog to blog to check out some amazing writers and read excerpts from their latest books. The hashtag for this hop is #GiveUsYourBestExcerpt. Don't forget to come back and read Eden's. Hope to see you then!
Boo! Despite your amazing support, Eden’s Creatures did not receive the nominations needed for the Kindle Scout program. (Of course, my aversion to self-promotion didn’t help.)
There’s good news! In my world, that just means full steam ahead ;) I'm shooting for a July 4th release date on Amazon and all other retailers in the following week or two.
Thank you once again to all who voted. I wish you all a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!
I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day holiday! I worked over the long weekend, but it was worth it. I'm happy to share that Eden's Creatures has returned from the editor and it's ready to go! Check out the new cover below!
But, you'll have to wait a few more weeks to get it. This go around, I've decided to try out Amazon's Kindle Scout Program. For those who don't know, Scout is a reader-powered publishing platform where readers get to decide if a book gets published.
Of course, I can't do this without you! Eden's Creatures only has 30 days to earn nominations. I would appreciate it so much if you would take a look at the campaign page and if you like what you read, please nominate! If the book is chosen by Amazon Press, you will receive the book for free.
As always, I thank you so very much for your amazing support.
Have any of you tried out audio books lately? I remember back in the day listening to books on tape in my car during a long commute to work in the morning, but haven’t thought about them in a long time. After getting a little tired of listening to all the same songs over and over, I decided to give it a try again and I’m loving it! They’re great for working out, cleaning the house, waiting in a doctor’s office, and all the other little chores I need a healthy share of motivation to get through.
As a result, I decided to record the Angels of the Knights series. I found a wonderful narrator by the name of Angela Grayden, at Grayden's Voice Over and Video Productions, and couldn’t be happier with the final product.
I have a few “freebie” coupons for Fallon (Book One), so if interested, just send me a message.
That's it for now...back to work on Eden's Creatures. :)
From my family to yours, wishing you peace and happiness during the holidays and throughout the New Year. Thank you for your amazing support this year. It means so very much, and I'm looking forward to all the new adventures in store for 2015! ♥
Wow! It's done! There were many days over the past few months when I didn't think I'd ever be able to say that. Now that I can, it's time to celebrate! What better way to show my appreciation for such amazing readers than with a bargain price. Pre-order An Oath of the Kings on Amazon today and get the ebook for .99 cents before the price officially goes up on 10/17.
Hope you enjoy!
**A quick update regarding ISB4** Regrettably, I am unable to schedule a slot with my editor until the last week in August. (Followed by edits, another round of proofreading, and more edits!) Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart, I can assure you! Yet, these steps are absolutely crucial to delivering a quality product and I will accept no less. I THANK YOU for your understanding and patience.
Keep those Kindles & Nooks clear for an epic read as the saga of our favorite island shifters, Beck, Kiernan, Rogan & Airron, continues this Fall!
My very best always,
Yes, you know what it is. Typo. Like most authors, I take enormous pride in the quality of my work and a single comma out of place is enough to keep me up at night. Despite numerous rounds with proofreaders, a few minor typos in Angels of the Knights were recently brought to my attention and, as a result, I had the books re-edited. If you purchased any books in the series before 6/12, please make sure you download the digital update. Amazon claims they have an automatic updates feature but it doesn't (and never has) worked. Customers must do this manually. For those who purchased print copies or ebooks from retailers who do not provide updates, simply send me a message on my contact page and I will send a new error-free book.
Thank you, dear readers, for your understanding. Truly. I know how distracting it can be to a great story to come across typos while reading, so my sincerest apologies to all.
Then, again, I suppose it could always be worse.
Hi folks! After giving my last post more thought, I decided that the Knight/Princess idea for my next book will feature Airron Falewir's daughter from Island Shifters.
When we last saw Izzy in An Oath of the Children, she was having a bit of a rough time battling the enemy Ellvinians. (No spoilers in case you haven’t read it.) Three years later, she makes an appearance in An Oath of the Kings, and I’m finding her a spectacular character to write about. She’s the daughter of one of the most well-known and powerful shifters on the island. She carries the weight of trauma from her experience in Children. And, she’s a teen. A young lady coming into her own and dealing with all of the angst that journey entails.
In Feral Princess, she will be a few years older yet enabling me to address a more mature plot between her and her Knight. The story will take place off the island of Massa to give a fresh take on this familiar character that you will have watched grow from a young child over the series.
At least, that’s the plan right now. Still have two other books to finish first!
Much more later...:)
Wow! There's so much going on, I don't know where to begin. Let's start with Island Shifters - An Oath of the Kings (Book 4). The writing is going extremely well and I'm pleased with how it's shaping up. I can only be so fortunate if you do, too. ;)
After that, I’ll be working on a book called Eden’s Creatures. I’ve been collaborating with a new illustrator and will have a cover to reveal within the next few weeks. It’s contemporary fantasy, but not sure if it will be YA, New Adult or Adult yet. Depends on how the story fleshes out. Projected release date TBD.
Next, I will start on a historical romance tentatively called Feral Princess. At this point, I don’t have any concrete story ideas. I just know that I want to create a rogue Knight in a medieval setting (or possibly even Massa). He's a loner. A hard-as-nails bad ass who does not tolerate the company of people very well. That is, until he meets a beautiful, but willful, runaway Princess who manages to get under his skin. Projected release date TBD.
In between all of these projects, I may try to relax a bit and build some real-life memories. You know, read a little, laugh a lot, and enjoy a great summer with family and friends. I wish you all the same. In the meantime, please send me your comments. I can never get enough.
My very best always,
For those interested, a few tidbits about ISB4. The story takes place three years after ISB3 (An Oath of the Children). Kiernan, Beck, Rogan & Airron, now in their early forties, are enmeshed in their own lives. Soon, deadly political games bring the old friends back together again just to tear them apart in a powder keg of intrigue where no one is safe. Lifelong alliances are questioned, battle lines are drawn and tragedy strikes. Twice.
Of the children, Kenley is away on humanitarian travels. Kellan, Kane & Reilly are at Mage training for most of the story, but Jala and Izzy play prominent roles.
Readers are introduced to a rogue male Draca Cat named Regus who prowls the borders of Iserlohn. Enormous and powerful, Regus is unique in his capacity to summon a primordial element of his dragon heritage—fire breathing. But, due to his inability to control the magic that rages inside, he shuns his fellow Dracas. When an innocent life hangs in the balance, will this fierce loner do what he must at the price of his freedom? Or will he walk away?
Even I’m not sure yet. ;)
Nikki is now available on Amazon (both in print and ebook) a few days ahead of schedule. B&N, Kobo & Apple releases will be available within the next few weeks.
Working on Island Shifters 4 now. I'll have more information regarding another novel I plan to write after IS4 tentatively titled "God's Creatures".
Thank you all for your support! Keep those comments coming!
The Angels trilogy just received a facelift! I found a great new graphic artist, Deanna Dionne, who made a few tweaks to the covers in the way of an accent color and new fonts. I also made some edits to the books. With Nikki now finished, I took the opportunity to go back through Fallon and Blane to ensure consistency with the plot, and the process allowed me to make edits and add foreshadowing that didn't exist before. I'm excited about the changes because I know that they will enhance the trilogy as a whole.
So, if you already have digital copies of Books 1 & 2, make sure you retrieve the updates for your e-reader. (Fallon has already been uploaded and Blane will be uploaded by Tuesday.) And, let me know what you think of the new covers! I would love to hear your thoughts.
Look for Nikki to be released this Valentine's Day! If you are a Goodreads member, click on the button below for a chance to win signed copies of all three books in the trilogy. Other exciting giveaways will be posted soon. Good luck!
2013. Wow, what a year! It’s 5:30 am on Christmas Eve. Presents are wrapped, cookies are baked, family is still in bed. Seems a perfect time to reflect on the year. No matter who you are, twelve months cannot pass by in this adventure we call life without experiencing both highs and lows. In a journey riddled with hills and valleys, one day we struggle with an uphill climb and the next we're running with childlike abandon down the other side.
Still, the exact route we travel is uniquely our own. No two are alike. Sure, there are footsteps all around—some in front or back or right alongside. Several walk with us for a time and then branch off in other directions. A few disappear completely and we're forced to plod ahead without them one step at a time. The path forward is often shrouded in shadows and filled with unforeseen battles, but how we choose to fight through is up to us.
My weapon of choice? I try to be a hero. Now, don’t laugh. There’s no cape or mask involved. I don’t shoot sorceress lightning from my fingertips (well, unless the kids are fighting). No, my heroic powers are much more subtle. It’s there, in the way I interact with my sons. In making an effort to embrace the positives and not dwell on the negatives. In giving back to others (even if it’s a gesture as simple as a smile). I don’t always succeed, of course. I’m not perfect. Sometimes the battle weighs on me and I get tired. My sword arm grows heavy, my patience wears thin. But, I keep trying because I know that if I fail one day, I'll still have a chance to get it right another.
Life. Is. Hard. And, it’s one of the reasons I so love writing heroic fantasy. We all need heroes. That symbolic proof that good trumps evil. The knight in shining armor. The superhero. Or, someone closer to home. The parent who chases away monsters that lurk under beds. The soldier who sacrifices all that is dear to keep others safe. The stranger who lifts people up with a random act of kindness. Heroes inspire. They keep our fears at bay. They allow us to believe in magic, even if for a short time.
This quote sums up the power of heroic fantasy for me.
“She'll kill me if she finds you in here. Can you climb trees? Tell me you can climb a tree!"
Patch grinned, "I can fly.”
― Becca Fitzpatrick, Hush, Hush
Be a hero in 2014. Fly. I'm guessing that people who think they are heroes can change the world. I know that I couldn’t fly without all of you. Writing is such a huge source of joy in my life. Your comments, your reviews, and the fact that you read my words provide the wind that keeps me in the air. Thank you for allowing me to soar this year.
Happy holidays to you and yours!