Darkness Wanes is now available!

I know you all have been waiting patiently (or in some cases impatiently) for the sixth and final novel in the Sensor Series to release.  Darkness Wanes is now available at Amazon and the other major retailers (see the bottom of this post for all the links).

This novel ended up being just over 126k words long in order to wrap up everything relating to Lucas and Melena (though a few open threads are left for spin-off books with other characters).  It took a long time to get this novel finished, but I’m pleased with how it turned out and hope you will be, too.  For audio listeners, my publisher just let me know Darkness Wanes will be released on June 21st in audio format.  They’ve got it on schedule with the same narrator who has handled all the other Sensor books.

There is also a bonus holiday short story featuring Kerbasi, titled An Unexpected Gift, included at the end of the book.  I originally revealed the story over at Nocturnal Book Reviews in December, but it has not been available in an ebook until now.  On the Sensor Series timeline, An Unexpected Gift falls after the end of the main series so it does give you a little glimpse into how things are going for some characters approximately seven months down the line.  There will also be full-length spinoff novels set in the Sensor World in the future.  I expect to release the first one in early 2017.  For the rest of this year, though, I’ll be focusing on the dragon books.

Below is a summary for the novel and links to the retailers.  Thanks to everyone who has stayed with me to the end of the series.  All the kind words of encouragement and messages from fans have meant a lot.

Darkness Wanes medium coverSUMMARY:

Melena Sanders is locked away in Purgatory, which is no vacation, but she’ll soon be returning to Alaska where troubles are mounting once again.  Suspicious fires are breaking out, supernaturals are being attacked, and there’s an enemy lurking out there waiting for his chance to strike.  Her lover, Lucas, is managing to hold their home together during her absence, but he’s more than ready for her to return.  It will take the two of them working together, along with friends and family, to overcome the darkness that is about to unleash.

Word count: 126,000 (approximate)

 


 

RETAILER LINKS:

AMAZON US    AMAZON UK     AMAZON DE     AMAZON AU     AMAZON CA

NOOK     KOBO     ITUNES

 

Darkness Wanes sneak preview

Progress on Darkness Wanes is coming along well.  I want to once again apologize for the lengthy delay in getting this novel out due to personal setbacks.  I finally got back into my writing groove last month and I’ve been working like mad on it ever since.  My poor family may have forgotten what I look like since I barricade myself behind a closed door most of the time.  Not to worry, though, they make me come out to eat occasionally.

The first half of the book is in good shape and I’m just revising the final chapters now before sending them off to my editor.  By the looks of things, this novel is going to end up being about 120k words.  As a comparison, Darkness Shatters was 96k and Stalked by Flames was 101k.  Darkness Wanes will definitely be the longest book I’ve ever written by quite a bit, but there is a lot to wrap up and I want to be sure to do the characters (and story) justice.  Special thanks to all the beta readers who’ve helped out along the way.  You all are awesome!

I have high hopes I will be able to release this novel by the end of the month.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  Below are the first three chapters of Darkness Wanes (about 10k words).  Hope you enjoy 🙂

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Chapter One

Melena

Some places should be avoided at all costs.  Troll villages, the woods on a full moon, and retailers on Black Friday topped my personal list, but above them all—Purgatory.  It was an inhospitable island set outside of time and space where human souls went after death when they weren’t quite good enough for Heaven, but not bad enough for Hell.  One might consider it a sort of way station—though it was probably closer to a prison.  Unless you had a very good reason, you didn’t come here voluntarily.

The sandy beaches at the island’s edge could fry eggs or blister bare feet.  A prisoner couldn’t swim away, assuming they made it through all the guards first.  The ocean surrounding the land extended forever, an infinite mass of water with no apparent end.  Not that you’d want to be outside in Purgatory.  Blinding light shone down from a sun that appeared twice as large as Earth’s, and it generated more heat than any mortal could survive for more than a few minutes.  That is, assuming the low oxygen levels didn’t suffocate them first.

Jagged mountains rose in the middle, raw and intimidating.  All along them, human souls relived the crimes they’d committed in their past life.  These were people who weren’t good enough to enter Heaven yet, but neither were they terrible enough for Hell.  Purgatory served as a place for them to learn from their evil deeds before they went on to their final destination.

They had no bodies, only the light of their inner beings, but that didn’t reduce their suffering.  On the rare occasion I came close enough to them, I felt their pain and remorse in every fiber of my being.  Nothing could be worse than facing one’s past mistakes over and over again with no relief.  This place couldn’t be mistaken for an island vacation spot.  It was real, and it was only one step above Hell.

It wasn’t that much better for me, either.  The only difference being I wasn’t dead yet.  Purgatory also served as an immortal penitentiary, though supernatural inmates didn’t stay up top with the human souls.  The guardians of the place—sort of an offshoot breed of angels—kept us confined deep inside the mountains in a vast network of tunnels and carved-out prison cells.  Of all the inmates here, they hated me the most.  I’d broken into Purgatory twice, using modern firepower against them, to free others who didn’t deserve to be here.  Those people were now free, which made it worth it, but I had no way of escaping without assistance.  I was trapped here for my full three-month sentence.

In the caves we inhabited, it dropped to bone-numbing temperatures and the stone walls wept with the icy tears of its denizens.  That wasn’t meant to be poetic.  Purgatory had a way of torturing you with both your darkest memories and your most cherished.  I’d had a lot of time to think since arriving.  One moment I’d feel the pain of my worst mistakes, including those that led to the loss of good friends, and in the next moment I’d remember my lover, Lucas, or adopted daughter, Emily.  They were part of the good things in my life, but the longer I stayed in Purgatory, the more I wished I didn’t think of them.  It would have made my time easier that way.

This was an ugly place where nothing good belonged, especially in the bowels where I’d been confined.  The walkways were frozen except for the occasional numbing cold stream running along the path.  Sharp icicles hung from the ceilings, often falling on hapless victims.  I’d had my head struck more than once—made worse by the fact it took considerably longer to heal in Purgatory than on Earth.  It was also eerily dark.  If not for the greenish-blue glow emanating from cracks in the stone, even those with the best night vision wouldn’t have been able to see anything.  Then again, it didn’t seem to bother the guardians who lorded over their prisoners.  They moved around just fine.

Clink. Clink. Clink.  The sound of pickaxes droned on in an annoyingly familiar rhythm.  I suspected I’d hear them in my head long after I left this place.  I blew a strand of my auburn hair from my cheek where it had come loose from its braid and continued chipping away at the blue-gray stone in front of me.

This section of the tunnel and I had become well acquainted since the archangel, Remiel, dropped me off here two and a half months ago.  In that time, I’d managed to extract about five pounds of ore.  The older and stronger supernaturals working alongside me gathered much higher amounts.  Not that it really mattered.  A cavern several levels above us had at least a dozen piles of it wasting away.  The guardians had long since gotten enough to make all the chains and weapons they needed.  They just wanted us to continue adding to the heap.

I rubbed at my aching lower back.  Even an immortal body couldn’t handle fourteen hours of crouching in mines every day without getting sore.  By the end of my shift, my spine always became so bowed out of shape that I could hardly stand up straight without a lot of effort and pain.  If I never saw an underground tunnel again it wouldn’t be long enough.

The clinking of the axes slowed and whispers rose among the other prisoners.  I took a surreptitious gaze around to find our guards had wandered down the tunnel out of earshot.  It happened so rarely I had to seize the opportunity while it lasted.

“Eli,” I called softly to the dark-skinned nephilim hunched ten feet away.

He turned his head toward me.  “What?”

Eli wore the same basic uniform as me—buckskin trousers, a matching sleeveless top and leather boots.  We hadn’t gotten utilitarian clothing when we first arrived in Purgatory.  They’d given us long robes that chaffed at our skin and no footwear.  It made it difficult to navigate the treacherous tunnels.  After a few days, I’d had enough and went on strike.

No one else joined me at first.  I was a sensor, and the rest of the prisoners were nephilim.  Our races were eternal enemies, but I was trying to change that.  I’d mated with a nephilim, Lucas, and he’d made me immortal.  Most of the supernatural world knew about us and how we’d found common ground.  Some of them had grown to accept me, mostly in Alaska where we lived, but we had a long way to go before our races got along entirely.  The majority of the sensors and sups still didn’t trust each other.

For three days, my prison mates watched me get whipped every morning because I refused to leave my cell for work in the mines.  On the fourth day, Eli was the first to join me.  We’d met a couple of times before, and he’d seemed more open than most.  Eventually, all twelve nephilim participated in my little strike.

It wasn’t just the poor clothing choices I’d protested, but also the awful gruel they fed us every day.  The lack of oxygen and stronger gravity of Purgatory drained us too much already.  Poor nutrition made things worse.  Immortals might not be able to die, but they could become severely weakened if their basic needs weren’t met.  We needed humane treatment if we were going to have the energy to work.

The rest of my companions were centuries or even thousands of years old.  They’d lived during times when the weaker always submitted to the stronger.  It didn’t occur to them to demand more for themselves.

I was a modern woman and military veteran who believed in standing up for my rights.  The ancient guardians running Purgatory had no idea how to handle me, but I had experience dealing with their kind before.  In fact, I’d helped rehabilitate one of the worst among them.  I just had to suffer through their punishments for a while before I got my way.  Though it wasn’t easy—they nearly broke me more than once.

“How do you call on an archangel without a summoning stone?” I asked Eli.  There was a bit of Denzel Washington’s features in him that always struck me, especially in the eyes and chin.

He frowned at me.  “Why?”

He was constantly telling me to keep my head down and stay out of trouble.  Not that I did, and more often than not he got caught up in my battles with the guardians.  It wasn’t like I forced him to do my bidding.  Eli just had a need to help people no matter what it cost.  We had that in common, which was why we were both stuck here.

“Because I need to know.”  Working in the mines gave you a lot of time to plot.  I estimated that in about two or three weeks—they wouldn’t give an exact date—I’d be out of here.  I had things to do as soon as I got back home.

“Melena,” he said in a warning tone.  “I’m not helping you again.”

I glared.  “It’s important.”

“Let it go until we return to Earth.”  He turned away and began swinging his pickaxe again.

“Come on,” I said in a pleading tone.  “I just need to know how to summon an archangel.”

He ignored me.  I considered throwing my pickaxe at him, but I couldn’t risk drawing the attention of the guardians.  Not to mention the chain stretching between my ankle and a hook in the floor would keep me from getting the tool back.  All the prisoners were restricted so that we couldn’t move more than a few feet.

“Eli,” I growled when he still wouldn’t answer me.

A female nephilim with shoulder-length blond hair turned toward me.  “Be quiet!”

Sabelle’s golden eyes were filled with hatred.  It never ceased to amaze me how a woman with such a sweet nature could become that hostile toward someone she hardly knew.  When I’d first met her, her heart-shaped face had seemed welcoming and kind.  That only lasted until she discovered I was a sensor.

“What is your problem?” I asked her.  Not that I expected a logical reply.

Sabelle’s nostrils flared.  “You! Your kind are nothing but…”

“I can tell you how to do it,” Bartol interrupted, putting a stop to the hate speech.  He worked on the wall to my right and spoke so rarely that I was startled to hear his voice now.

I turned toward him.  Bartol’s long brownish-gold hair fell past his shoulders in light waves.  The oily strands didn’t quite hide the horrific scars on the left side of his face.  The burns marred what had once been handsome features.  Nephilim could usually heal from anything, but a magic spell had been infused with the damage so that he’d never be whole again.  Not even my ability to nullify magic could do anything to help him now.

Bartol had been in Purgatory for nearly a century as his penalty for seducing an angel.  Not long after arriving an overzealous guardian, Kerbasi, burned him as part of his own personal brand of punishment.  Bartol had faced many horrors since arriving here, but that was probably among the worst.  By my estimates, his sentence would finish around the same time as mine.  He was a friend of Lucas’ and we planned to help him as much as we could when he got out.

“You know?  How?” I asked. Continue reading

December update

I know many of you are waiting anxiously with news on Darkness Wanes.  It’s progressing, though not as fast as I’d like.  I’m working on revisions for the early chapters now and once I have them finished I’ll move back to writing the remaining chapters of the book.  The holidays have slowed me down a bit, as well as the medical issue mentioned in my last post.  No definitive news on that yet, but a new doctor I’m seeing is recommending some testing I haven’t had done.  She thinks I might have endometriosis and recommended laparoscopic surgery to check.  It could be what is causing my problem, but it’s a rather invasive procedure for something I might not have.  For now, I’m looking at alternatives and waiting until after the holidays before deciding what step to take next.

Now for some good news!  A while back, Kara-Karina over at Nocturnal Book Reviews asked me to write a short Christmas story for the Sensor Series.  She asked that it especially feature Kerbasi.  This was tricky because I knew it would have to be set after Darkness Wanes on the series timeline.  With the delays on the book, I didn’t want to reveal any major spoilers.  I eventually settled on telling the story from an all-new character’s point of view (a human woman).  It involves her meeting Kerbasi during a blizzard in Fairbanks on Christmas Eve.  They don’t hit it off too well at first, but their situation sort of forces them together.  You’ll have to read it to find out what else happens.

This story doesn’t conflict with Darkness Wanes in any way.  The only spoilers you might see are the fact Kerbasi is still around and the world is still dealing with supernaturals being out in the open.  Nothing earth-shattering.  I meant for it to only be about 2500 words, but it grew to about 5000 words after revisions/edits.  The title of the story is “An Unexpected Gift” and will go live on Nocturnal Book Reviews early morning on Christmas Eve.  Those who stop by and comment will be entered into a drawing with the chance to win a Kindle Fire HD 8 and some other book promo items.  I hope this helps make up for the book delays and that you enjoy the story.  I will post a reminder here and on other social media so you don’t forget to check it out.  A winner for the drawing will not be selected until December 30th.  If you can’t get to it right away, you still have a few days after Christmas to make it.

I’m also participating in a Facebook holiday event with 20 other urban fantasy authors.  A lot of amazing prizes are being given away each day.  Some of you have already joined in, but for anyone else who is interested this is the link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1479007045739422/

Seven Days of Midwinter banner

My date for giving out prizes is December 19th, along with Donna Augustine and Hailey Edwards.  I’ll be running several giveaways and leave them up most of the day so that regardless of your timezone you should have a chance to enter.  The banners with the list of prizes are below.  Special thanks to Sarah L. for getting her husband to design them for me (and on short notice!).  They turned out great.

Other authors have already started their giveaways and more will continue all the way to the 20th.  You should definitely join in the fun!

Giveaway_1_DEC_19th_v2Giveaway_2_DEC_19th_v2Giveaway_3_DEC_19th_v2

I’ll continue to keep you all updated about Darkness Wanes.  In the meantime, I hope everyone’s holidays are going well!

 

 

November update

This is one of those posts I put off writing because I know it’s going to upset people.  Those of you who have followed me for a while know I don’t get into my personal life much on my blog because I generally feel that should be kept separate from my professional one.  Every once in a while, though, it affects my writing. I feel it’s only fair you all get some explanation as to the reason why you might have to wait longer on a book.  Now is one of those times.

My husband and I have been married for over eight years.  We have yet to conceive despite doing nothing to prevent it.  I wasn’t terribly worried about it in the early years of our marriage because it gave us time with each other to build our lives.  Once I started writing, I wanted to focus on that for a while and get a few books out before adding a baby to my daily routine.  Still, I didn’t do anything to keep from getting pregnant either.  This past summer I turned thirty-five.  My husband and I both agreed we couldn’t ignore the issue any longer and that we were more than ready for children.  Clearly, we needed to take further steps to make that happen.

A couple of months ago we went to see a specialist.  Neither of us have anything in our history that stands out as an obvious cause for infertility.  Other than my chronic migraines and my husband having COPD (which he has under control through meds) we don’t have any major health problems.  I’m not going to get into the fine details since not everyone wants to read that, but suffice it to say we are healthy enough that conception shouldn’t be a problem.  Since that first doctor visit we have been undergoing a number of tests which have all come back normal.  I am told that fifteen percent of cases have no identifiable reason for why there is a problem.  We appear to be falling under that category.

We have reached the point now where they are referring me to another specialist to start treatments that should “help” things along.  I am both excited and nervous about this.  The success rate isn’t very high, but when it does happen it could result in multiple births.  It’s a risky move.  Yet I’m running out of time and don’t have a lot of other options.  If this is the only choice I have, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Through all of this, there’s been a part of me that feels like a failure.  It should be such a simple thing to get pregnant.  Millions of women do it every year with no problem at all, but I’ve never managed to do it once.  A lot of stupid things go through your mind when you face this sort of dilemma.  Am I just not good enough to be a parent?  Did I do something in my past and now karma is coming back to bite me? Is it simply my fate to never experience giving birth to my own child?  Yes, there are other options if things don’t work out, but I really want a chance for my husband and I to have a child together.

For the past couple of months these thoughts have been going through my mind.  With every visit to various doctors I’ve grown more frustrated.  None of them are very reassuring and their answers to my questions are often vague or unhelpful.  It’s been rather depressing and has affected other parts of my life.  While I’ve managed to finish writing most of Darkness Wanes, it’s not finished.  I hate to even admit that out loud.  The final chapters are completely plotted out in detail (that was easy because I’ve known how I wanted to the series to end for a long time), but getting those last chapters written has been difficult.  I’m pecking away at it now and finding my “zone” again.  It’s just been a matter of finding a way to push my personal problems aside.  Once they’re done, I’ll go through revisions next and get chapters out to beta readers.  For those of you who have beta read before, expect an email from me soon asking if you’re up for it again.

I can’t give a definite date for when Darkness Wanes will be published.  There are no more doctor’s appointments for the next few weeks as I wait for a referral to go through so at least I won’t have that to distract me.  I’m going to use this time to buckle down and get the novel done.  My hope is to get it finished by early December, but we’ll have to see how it goes. I don’t want to make any more promises I may not be able to keep.

I know this is going to upset some people.  You’ve been waiting for this book for a long time now and I hate that I let my personal problems get in the way.  I have some of the most awesome readers an author can ask for and you all deserve better than that.  Please just be patient with me as I work to get it done.  That’s all I can ask.

If it helps, here’s the cover for Darkness Wanes.  Usually I do a big reveal post, but I’m just going to let you all see it now.

Darkness Wanes medium cover