Excerpt from “Darkness Haunts”

It is close enough to the release of Darkness Haunts that I can go ahead and post an excerpt for those who are interested.  This selection comes straight from the beginning of chapter one.  It ends about 3/4 into the chapter because I can’t give too much away.  It’s a rather long chapter, though, so there is plenty to read.  Hopefully it will give everyone a good enough taste to know if the book is for them.

Please keep in mind the novel is still out with the editor for the final proofread.  There may be some minor changes in the final copy, but nothing significant.  Also, this excerpt does contain some profanity and explicit content.  It should be read by mature audiences only.

 

Chapter One

A true friend will always be there for you when you need them, but they’ll also be the first to drag you into a pit of vipers. If snakes hung out in this place, I doubted I’d get out of here in the same shape I went in.

“The Mouse Trap” was the newest and hottest club in Monterey, California. At first glance, nothing about it appeared out of the norm. No windows broke the smooth-faced façade out front, and the loud music spilling through the open door was the same as any other establishment of its kind. But it hid a darker element.

The patrons who stood in line had no idea they shuffled impatiently to enter a place owned by supernaturals, or “sups” as I preferred to call them. Hell, they didn’t even know such things really existed. They’d dressed up in their tight-fitting clothes, chains, and leather, believing they were going to have a good time. Little did they know—nothing is ever as it seems.

My nails dug into my palms as the line inched forward.

Lisette, one of my two closest friends, stood next to me. She’d picked our destination for the night, and true to form, she chose one with a mixed species element. Whenever you dealt with sups, anything could happen. I had to hope for the best and continue to play my ignorant human role with her. She didn’t know that I knew.

Blinking red neon lights from the club’s sign illuminated the excitement on her pale face. She hopped up and down, trying to see over the taller humans in front of her. I couldn’t figure out how she kept her balance on the high heels she wore. Then again, she only came up to my chin—maybe being closer to the ground helped. Pixies tended to be on the short side.

“Ten more people in front of us.”

She stopped hopping—to my relief. “Thanks. I hope they hurry and let us in soon.”

I scowled, but didn’t reply. My temples were throbbing. The result of being too close to a large number of sups. They’d hit my senses like a storm of fire, ice, and jagged glass as soon as we’d neared the place. I rubbed my forehead in an effort to get rid of the pain. It would pass, given enough time. My movement drew Lisette’s attention.

“What’s wrong, Melena?” she asked, frowning. “It’s not going to be that bad. Besides, with Aniya up in Alaska, there’s no one else who can come with me.”

“Aniya is a stay at home and drink red wine kind of girl. You know she wouldn’t come to a place like this.” I paused. “Speaking of which, have you heard from her? She hasn’t been answering my calls.”

“No, I haven’t.” Lisette rolled her eyes. “But don’t try changing the subject. Unless something is seriously wrong, you’re going in here if I have to drag you by your hair.” She reached out, as if to do just that.

I jerked the vulnerable locks over one shoulder—the farthest one from Lisette—and edged a few inches away. I’d have to let the topic of Aniya go for now.

My teeth ground together as the line inched forward—five more people in front of us.

I had to hope this place wasn’t as bad as my paranoia made it out to be. Most supernatural clubs maintained strict rules involving their treatment of humans. It was just good business, but until I went in, I wouldn’t know if this one did. A risk for someone like me. It could be said my kind, sensors, were the paranormal equivalent of most wanted criminals. The main thing that kept us safe was that we appeared human.

In fact, we were, except a bit more enhanced. The few differences we had included the ability to sense supernaturals nearby, immunity to magic, and some empathic traits. For having those gifts, the sups had hunted us for centuries. Lisette had known me for eleven years, since our sophomore year in high school, and even she didn’t know my secret. It was safer that way.

My heart skipped a beat—only three people left.

A brawny werewolf bouncer stood as the gate guard to the dark abyss beyond. His alert brown eyes checked the IDs handed to him, but he did little more than skim their details. Subtle sniffs flared his nostrils as he came into contact with each human. You could fake an ID, but you couldn’t fake your natural smell, not even with perfume. A werewolf could detect your age down to a year with little more than a whiff or two.

He pulled a young brunette out of the line who wore a tiny red dress. It didn’t cover up much and left plenty of curves to show. She stood off to the side with her hands on her hips.

“I’m twenty-one. You have to let me in.”

He flung her ID at her. “This is fake. Get outta here.”

She squealed in outrage, grabbed her ID off the ground, and stomped off. I envied her. She had an excuse to leave. Sups rarely messed with underage humans. Even they had lines they avoided crossing.

As I took my next steps toward the entrance, my feet itched to make an all-out run the other way. Even the military hadn’t made me strong enough to deal with this kind of crap. One would think if I could survive being shot at and nearly blown up, a nightclub wouldn’t be that bad.

It was my past experiences with them that was the problem. They’d killed Wanda, another sensor I knew, eight years ago. The memory of her murder at a sup’s hands flashed in my mind often and served as a constant reminder of what could happen to me. I’d known Lisette since before the incident, making her the only supernatural I could tolerate.

We stepped up to the bouncer and handed over our IDs. I pretended not to feel the claws raking against my psyche from being so close to him. Lack of regular exposure to sups made them more difficult to be around. Slow, deep breaths brought some relief.

The werewolf did the same cursory check as he had with the others while sniffing us out. He gave my friend a subtle nod. It must have been some kind of supernatural acknowledgment. His eyes didn’t even linger on me before he waved us inside.

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dimness of the lengthy hallway. Black walls enclosed me tightly. Only the solitary words “Mouse Trap” written in dripping blood-red letters decorated one side. I suppressed a shiver and tried not to think of their implied meaning. No wonder I was paranoid.

Several humans crowded the corridor, already caught in the supernatural snare. They had the glazed eyes of those who had imbibed one too many drinks, or maybe more, since one fell down. I stepped over him and kept going.

Once we moved into the main room, we found ourselves sucked into a huge crush of dancers. The capacity had to be close to the max, despite it being almost the size of a basketball court. Did they want us packed in like sardines?

Lisette split off from me with a small wave. I fought my way to the bar and ordered a drink. The vampire attending it had shaggy brown hair and dark eyes. An ice-cold feeling came from him, shocking my senses with its frigidity. Deep subtle breaths pushed the feeling down. If I stopped avoiding his kind so much, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

The vampire produced my grenadine-laced Long Island Iced Tea with a flourish moments later. His smile, though fangless, showed more than a little interest. I gave him some cash and hurried away to find a semi-quiet corner as far from any non-humans as possible. That turned out to be about fifteen feet, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances.

Lisette had already joined the throng of dancers. She fit right in while gyrating with a guy sporting tri-colored hair and multiple piercings. Her bob of freshly colored pink didn’t stand out much in this place. Our styles differed as much as our personalities. I preferred to keep my dark auburn hair long and natural. She changed hers the way others did their clothes.

The level of my drink continued to go down as I leaned against the wall. A nearby vampire waitress with long blonde tresses moved about the room. She sashayed through the congested dancers with fluid grace while keeping her serving tray steady. I kept hoping she’d drop it when someone bumped into her, but to my annoyance, she didn’t.

Well-placed cameras scanned the scene from above. I didn’t see a single spot they didn’t cover. Keeping my gaze fixed on the scene before me, my hand slid along the waistband of my black club pants. The pocket knife I’d clipped there earlier remained tucked inside. Keeping it on me for safety reasons had become natural over the years. I didn’t feel secure without it.

As the minutes ticked by, nothing disturbing occurred. The pain in my head subsided to a dull ache, and my muscles started to unwind. I knew I needed to get a grip and stop being so sure the monsters would come to get me. Lisette changed partners a few times before my drink ran out. When I set it down, thinking to order another, she came over and tugged on my arm.

“You’re not standing there all night,” she yelled into my ear. “I’m going to make sure you have a good time if it kills you!”

“It just might,” I said.

She didn’t hear me, which didn’t matter anyway. I let her drag me along until we found a minuscule opening on the dance floor. People pressed in close, making it impossible to move without bumping into someone. I normally liked dancing, even in a crowd like this, but having bloodsuckers and wolves at my back tended to make me edgy. Lisette didn’t show any concern for the predators lurking all around. She had to have known they were there—sups had ways of recognizing each other.

We stayed together for a while until my dancing loosened up. Satisfied with my progress, Lisette moved away to rejoin tri-color hair guy. I kept her within visual range to be on the safe side. By the fifth song, the place didn’t seem that bad anymore. They played my kind of music and the men who danced with me weren’t the clumsy or groping types.

My enjoyment didn’t last. I sensed the change in the environment before it even reached me. Swirls of magic entered the room. It curled out of the vents and surged across the crowd—impossible to see or smell, but there nonetheless. Goosebumps ran across my skin as it touched me, feeling oily and foul, but otherwise having no effect. Normal humans weren’t so lucky.

As people breathed it in, the mood changed. Everyone began dancing in crude ways better suited for a strip club. Sweat poured down their bodies as they peeled their clothes off and flung them away without a care. I had to duck when a bra went flying by, cherry blossom pink not being my color.

Magic pervaded the crowd. The kind that came from a powerful witch who concocted just the right spell for humans alone. None of the sups inside the place were affected and couldn’t sense it like I could. Lisette was immune as well, but she had joined in the craze by rubbing her body all over her partner. She’d always enjoyed a good scene. It didn’t even occur to her that something wasn’t right. That trait about her was something I both loved and hated.

I moved toward her, knowing it wouldn’t be long before the club staff figured out one human stood untouched by their magical cocktail, particularly with those cameras in place. We needed to leave, now.

“I’m getting out of here, Lisette. Are you coming?” I shouted.

Lisette had eyes only for the guy holding her close. They moved against each other sensuously with no regard for those around them. She didn’t even glance my way and several stubborn people wouldn’t move so I could get closer.

Dancers everywhere had either stripped off all their clothes or were well on their way to it. Their empty eyes stared at nothing, but their bodies managed lewd acts with impressive skill. The heat and passion pulsing through the room grew at an alarming rate, assailing my already overwhelmed senses. It wouldn’t be long before it turned into an all-out orgy.

I kept trying to elbow my way through the crowd, but the already dim room suddenly switched to strobe lights, bringing me to a blinding halt.

It took a moment to adjust to the change, but when my vision cleared the macabre scene before me appeared something akin to a horror movie, or really wicked porn. A few of the vamps joined in to take advantage of the changed atmosphere with their own special brand of “fun”. I thought I caught sight of a set of fangs flashing, but couldn’t be sure.

With a final hard shove, I reached Lisette. “Hey,” I yelled in her ear, “we gotta go.”

Lisette frowned and opened her mouth to argue. She still didn’t get it and time was running out. I grabbed her face and turned it toward the crowd. “This is not normal. We have to go now!”

She stopped dancing and took a serious look around. A flicker of realization crossed her eyes. Ignoring her partner, who’d begun to do unseemly things with his tongue to her bare legs, she shuffled closer to me. “Mel, listen. I’m going to stay, but you should definitely go. Maybe we can catch up later or something?”

“You’re not coming?”

“No way.” She shook her head. “This is even better than I expected, but I wouldn’t have brought you if I’d known. I’m sorry.”

“You’re really going to stay for this?” I asked. I’d known she had a kinky side, but didn’t think it went this far.

“Yes. Now go!” She shoved me in the direction of the entrance. “If I have to haul you out, it’s not going to be pretty.”

“Fine, but be careful,” I warned.

“Always,” she said with a naughty grin. There would be no changing her mind, but she could take care of herself. I had to believe that as I began working my way back toward the entrance.

Getting through the mass of people made the army obstacle courses I’d done years before look easy. Almost every inch of the floor had human bodies twisting and bending in ways that defied logic. I tripped right before reaching the entrance hall when a pair of bare legs shot out in front of me.

My chin almost smacked the floor, but I managed to stop myself a bare inch before impact. While trying to untangle myself from the loose limbs, I felt a strong presence draw close. His aura filled me with coldness and dread. I peered up through my hair, which had swept in front of my face, to see a dark-skinned vampire standing at the edge of the crowd.

“You’re wanted upstairs.”

I gulped. “Now?”

A flash of fangs and darkening eyes gave me the only answer I needed. My senses told me he hadn’t been undead for more than ten years, but he would still be far too strong. I wouldn’t win in a fight against him, but my need for escape kept me searching for a way out. I made a quick sweep of the room. There had to be another exit.

The vamp didn’t wait for me to find one. He grabbed my arm in a firm grip and pulled me out of the twisted mess of limbs. Everything moved in a blur as he propelled me toward a set of stairs not far from where we’d been moments before. I almost lost a shoe in the process, but managed to retain it with the grip of my toes.

We reached the top and went straight for a door at the end of the hall. My senses alerted me to who waited on the other side—the same witch who had concocted the magic spell. The vampire shoved me through and entered behind me before shutting the door. With him blocking my escape, I was forced to face the coldly beautiful woman standing across the room in front of an ornate mahogany desk. Only the tiny crinkles around her eyes gave away her age as being somewhere in her forties.

Waves of powerful black magic emanated from her and I could smell the putrid remnants of a recent animal sacrifice. The odor made my nose wrinkle. A quick search revealed it to be in the corner, but I didn’t linger on the mess that had to have once been a bird. Brown feathers were the only thing that gave it away now. The poor creature must have been part of the ingredients needed for the spell downstairs. PETA would have a field day with this woman.

“Here she is, Madam Noreen,” the vampire behind me announced. I figured him for one of her minions. All the powerful sups had an entourage of “lessers” to do their bidding.

Noreen wore a designer pantsuit, minus the jacket. The white silk shirt she had on was sleeveless and low-cut, hugging her slim curves in a flattering way, and her highlighted hair had been swept up into a fancy twist. She stood with confident authority. I set my face in a neutral expression, not wanting to give away any signs of fear. Nothing could be done about my rapidly-beating heart, though.

Her lips curled up. “Are you enjoying my club, little one?”

“Of course, but I just remembered I left my stove on.” She didn’t need to know I couldn’t cook a hot dog without blowing it up into chunks. “It runs on gas, so I really should get home and shut it off.”

I swiveled on my heels to leave, but didn’t make it more than two steps. The vampire by the door shoved me back in the direction of the witch, making me stumble before catching myself. I turned around to find Noreen had moved in closer. When she spoke next, her tone might have come off as pleasant, but a hint of malice laced its edges.

“This shouldn’t take long, don’t worry.”

Right, I felt really reassured.

“Good to know,” I said instead, glancing back at the door, “but it would really suck if my apartment caught on fire. I really do have to get going.” Maybe if I said it enough times, she’d believe me.

The witch ignored my protest and hit a button on a small remote in her hand. What had been a wall in front of me slid open on silent tracks…

———————————————————

Darkness Haunts releases on January 15th.  Check back for updates on the novel and links to where it can be purchased.  Feel free to leave me a comment here to let me know what you think or ask any questions.

If you’d like to read a little more from The Sensor World with the main character Melena, check out the prequel short story here.

Darkness Haunts Will Be Releasing Soon!

Books flying around the worldA lot has been going on as I get the first novel of The Sensor Series ready to release. It’s undergoing edits right now and the cover is being done by two amazing designers (one for the art and the other the typography). I can’t wait to reveal what it looks like. I’m also planning tours and looking for reviewers who might be interested (if you are one, let me know). It’s a ton of work, but hopefully the many things I’m doing will help get it noticed by urban fantasy/paranormal readers.

The synopsis is posted here and further details will be forthcoming. I am considering posting at least part of the first chapter so those who are curious can get a taste of what the story is like.  More excerpts will follow, but I’ll probably let the tour hosts get first dibs on them.  It’s only fair since they are helping to promote me.

I’m also going to start working on the next novel in the series, Darkness Taunts, so the wait won’t be too long for it.  Most of the first chapter is already written and it has been fully plotted.  I’m hoping it won’t take more than a few months to write, though I will have times where promotion of the first book slows me down.  The goal is to have the second one release no later than early May, but don’t quote me on it.  Sometimes these things go faster and sometimes they go slower.  I’ll know more as I get further into the writing.

For now, stay tuned for further information on the release of Darkness Haunts.  It will go live on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Nook on January 15th.  The paperback version should be available within a week after that through Createspace.

Short Story- Nothing Is Ever What It Seems

The following short story (approximately 1600 words)  is a scene that takes place about eight years before the beginning of Darkness Haunts.  It depicts a major turning point in Melena’s life (the main character).  One that forces her in a new direction she hadn’t planned on going before this point.  I wrote the rough draft earlier this year, but decided to flesh it out more and post it here for anyone who wants a taste of what to expect.  This scene is briefly mentioned in the novel, but this short story version provides a lot more of the details involved.  Keep in mind Melena is eighteen here, so I tried to give her a younger and slightly less mature mindset compared to where she is when the series starts.

 

Nothing is Ever What it Seems

I’d blown up the bowl of rice I’d been heating.

The yellow grains stuck to the walls of the microwave in a colorful display that couldn’t have been mistaken for art.  Another cooking disaster for me to clean up.  At least it didn’t look as bad as my grand cake experiment from the week before.

“Melena!” Wanda cried out, shock and dismay written all over her face.  You’d think in the three years since she’d taken me in she’d be used to this kind of thing.

I pasted an innocent look on my face and pointed at the mess.  “The microwave overcooked it.”

She put her hands on her hips.  “You set the timer for too long—again.”

“I wanted to make sure it was cooked all the way.  You’re always telling me I can never be too careful.”

Wanda tossed me a dish rag.  “Clean it up.  Honestly, I don’t know how you expect to go off to college this fall if you can’t even re-heat rice.”

I shrugged.  “That’s what restaurants and fast food places are for.”

“You can’t live off that junk.”

“Lisette will be going too.  She can cook just about anything.  I’ll be fine.”

Wanda wagged a finger at me.  “We will not discuss that Pixie.  You need to stay away from her and all other supernaturals.  I’ve told you that a hundred times.”

“More than that,” I muttered as I dumped the rice into the trash can.  “Sups aren’t that bad.”

She took the dish rag from me and rinsed it off at the sink.  “They are that bad.  Someday, you’ll see that I’m telling you the truth.”

“Yeah, right.”

We both jerked our heads at the same time.

A wave of raw power swept over the house with the force of a psychological hurricane.  My lungs struggled for breath as sharp pain slid up my neck and into my head.  Holy crap.  Something was in the backyard.

I grabbed a steak knife from the butcher block and brandished it in front of me.

“It’s a nephilim,” Wanda gave me a panic-stricken look.  I could have sworn her hair turned greyer.  “That won’t do us any good — he can’t be killed.  It’ll only provoke him.”  She took the knife from me and tossed it away.

Whoever this guy was, he was coming straight for us.  I bumped into the fridge in my haste to put some distance between me and the backdoor.  It burst open, shattering into a thousand pieces and brought bright light spilling into the room.  I put my arms up to protect my face.  The blinding rays hadn’t come from the sun shining outside.  No, they’d come from the golden-haired man who’d stepped into our house.

“What do you want from us?” Wanda demanded.

I lowered my arms to discover she wasn’t as affected by the nephilim’s presence as I was.  Wanda stood tall and glared at him in a way that would have made me skulk off into a corner.  To be fair, she’d had more experience dealing with sups than I had.  My eyes adjusted enough to see a massive sword in his hand.  The polished blade glinted as he raised it into a high arc.  His hard, chiseled face revealed nothing of his thoughts — only cold determination.

Wanda lost her bearing and scrambled away from him, but he moved too fast.  She screamed in a high-pitch shrill when the sword struck her shoulder.  It kept going, cutting off her voice as it sliced down and across her torso in a straight path until it went out the other side.  Blood sprayed everywhere as the two halves of her separated and fell to the floor in a sickening thump.  Her blue eyes remained open and frozen in terror.

My hand jerked up to cover my mouth.  I wanted to finish the scream she’d started, but nothing came out.  My eyes darted back and forth between my guardian and her killer.  She couldn’t be dead.  She couldn’t.  First I’d lost my parents, and now her.  How could this have happened?

The evidence lay directly in front of me.  She’d been right all along.  Sups were dangerous and I’d never taken her seriously, not wanting to believe her.  Oh God.  I almost choked on the bile rising up my throat.  It took all my control to force it back down.  The danger wasn’t over yet.

The nephilim stood across the kitchen and held his sword at his side.  He’d wiped it off with the rag Wanda had been holding.  Blood coated the cloth now.  It wouldn’t be good for washing anything anymore.

What was I thinking?

A cold-blooded killer stood before me and I worried about a dish rag?  I’d be next if I didn’t do something, but how was I supposed to fight a man who couldn’t die?  He was massive enough that even if he was human I couldn’t take him on.

I stared at his golden form and didn’t know what to say or do.  Did I plea for my life?  Make some kind of peace offering?  The dead body on the floor — I couldn’t look at it again — told me he wasn’t up for negotiations.

“Why?”  The one word escaped my lips.

“She’s a sensor.  All of your kind deserve to die.”

I gripped the counter next to me.  Too bad I couldn’t out run him.  “Am I next?”

His lips quirked.  “Not yet, young one.  Your time will come, but not today.”

He lowered his sword.  My enhanced senses told me he spoke the truth.  I risked a glance at Wanda’s body and saw it was bad, real bad.  Dying was awful enough, but this was worse than anything I’d ever imagined.  A rage I’d never felt before colored my vision.  How dare he come into our home and attack us?  We’d minded our own business and stayed out of the way, doing nothing to piss off the supernatural population.  Wasn’t that enough?

It didn’t matter in that moment he still held a deadly weapon.  That he was a thousand times stronger than me.  I had nothing left to lose — no family and not many friends.  My future meant little if everyone around me was going to keep dying.

My feet flew toward him.  I shoved at his body and hit his chest as hard as I could over and over.  He stood there, immobile, and didn’t even bother to block my blows.  I began to think he couldn’t feel them.  It only took a few minutes for me to get tired of beating what might as well have been a brick wall.  My breath came out ragged and I could barely stand.  He took my arm when I began to stumble back.

“Are you done?” he asked.

“No.”  I scowled.  With my free arm, I managed to grab the knife off the counter where Wanda had tossed it away.  The nephilim laughed when I held it between us but he let me go.

“You think to harm me with that?”

I gritted my jaw.  “It’s worth a try.”

He took a few steps back and held his arms out wide, sword pointed away, giving me a perfect opening to strike at his torso.

“Go ahead,” he said.  “Let us see if you can.”

My hand clenched around the handle of the knife.  What the hell kind of game was he playing?  I risked a glance at Wanda to remind myself of what he’d done to her.  He’d killed her without her doing anything wrong to him.  Hating a whole race of people for a crime committed centuries ago didn’t count.  It didn’t make any more sense why he wasn’t taking my head off with that big sword of his.

“Why not kill me now?”

A muscle ticked in his jaw.  “As I said before, it’s not your time.”

I wanted to take a step back.  The strong emotions emanating from him were overwhelming my senses.  His hatred whipped at me like a stinging lash.  Sometimes it came in handy to be empathic — this wasn’t one of those times.  I had to wonder what I’d done to make him feel so strongly.  The knife was still in my hand, but I didn’t know if I could use it.

“Would you kill me if I stuck this in you?”  It couldn’t hurt to ask.

A taunting smile stretched his lips.  “Why don’t you find out?”

I wanted to hurt him in some way — in any way I could.  He deserved to feel at least a small taste of my inner pain.  I pushed down my fear and lunged for him, ready to stab the crap out of him.

It never even grazed his skin.

He deflected the blade, knocking it from my hand and onto the floor.  My momentum kept me going toward him with no time to stop.  He grabbed my shoulder with his free hand and twisted me around until my back struck his chest.  I could feel the chiseled muscles underneath.  His arms wrapped around me, holding me tight.

Tingles raced across my skin in every place where our bodies met.  I felt real fear then.  This man truly was an unstoppable force.  He leaned down close to my ear and whispered.

“We will meet again, little sensor.”

His arms released me and I almost fell.  He scooped up both parts of Wanda’s body in one swift move and stepped outside before vanishing in a flash of light.  Only the puddle of blood remained to prove he’d been here at all.  I slumped to the floor and curled into myself.  What was I supposed to do now?

About the main character- Melena Sanders

Woman's Silhouette on the waterI wanted to avoid some of the clichés that seem to abound within the Urban Fantasy genre (though not all books have these issues).  It might have been okay to read these things a time or two, but I wanted my character to stand on her own.  The following were some of my goals when creating her (and hopefully achieved):

1)  She is not rich, nor does she suddenly become so after being dirt poor.  Melena has to work just like everyone else.  She did save some money from a life insurance policy that paid her when her parents died years before, but it isn’t much more than what could get her through college.  She was raised in a nice, loving, middle-class family up to age fifteen.  It was only after that things got more difficult for her.

2) Melena is not invincible.  She does know how to fight, shoot, and use knives because of her military training, but she is still vulnerable in most of the ways any human would be.  Going up against much stronger supernaturals is dangerous for her and that doesn’t change as the story progresses.

3) She is practical and cautious.  This is one heroine who knows how to calculate the odds and plan accordingly.  A lot of this is because she served in the military for years and soldiers are taught to plan and weigh risks before acting.  I wanted her previous job to influence how she dealt with danger (even if now it is of a supernatural variety).  One of the most annoying traits seen in Urban Fantasy (UF)  is heroines who run right into obvious danger, repeatedly, with no plan or back-up.  Melena is a smarter gal.  If there is a way to put the odds in her favor or protect herself better, she is going to find it.  There is no blind bumbling around.  Of course, not everything goes like she hopes, but it wouldn’t be much of an exciting story if it did!

4) Melena is not going to be jumping into the bed of every guy she sees, but she isn’t going to be shy or inexperienced either.  Romance is going to be slow in coming because she has some commitment issues, but it will happen.  When she does finally fall for someone, it will be an explosive relationship.  Just don’t expect it to happen in the first book.

5) The narrative will have some snarkiness that is a common trait in UF.  Yet the main character will not be shooting her mouth off all the time at the great risk of getting herself killed.  I honestly don’t believe most UF heroines would have been allowed to live through some of the comments they’ve made to much more dangerous and powerful beings.  Anyone who follows the genre knows what I’m talking about.  It boggles the mind.  Melena might think some snarky things, but she rarely voices them unless she feels confident or comfortable with the person is saying them to.

6) There will be no prophecy in this series.  It has worked for some others in the past, but I wanted to move away from that theme.  I’ve seen it used too many times and hate that some writers use it as a crutch for their plot.  There will be groups of people (or races) that have a somewhat sacred “duty” but they aren’t forced to do it.  There is free choice in this fictional world and people must make their own decisions.  Melena will never be obligated to do anything because of what she is born as, but she will have to face the fact she has the ability to protect innocent people.  That will result in her having to make some tough choices.

7)  There will be no “end of the world” moments if the main character doesn’t do something to save it.  I actually like some of those story-lines, but wanted to avoid it in my own series.  A group of people or town might be in danger if she doesn’t help, but never anything on an epic scale.

8)Melena will never become the most powerful person on the planet (or even remotely close).  She will always have vulnerabilities and have to watch her step.  Her main strengths will be in using her head to think things out, surrounding herself with powerful people (which comes over time), and using the abilities she was born with.  She might pick up a few extra tricks/strengths along the way, but not enough to easily defeat someone (or something) much more powerful than her.  That will always require cunning on her part by using the advantages she has in the best way possible.

9) I will also say Melena is not a character who suddenly comes into powers she’s never had before.  She began learning to use her abilities when she was fourteen and has them fairly well mastered at age 26 (when Darkness Haunts begins).  This means she isn’t going to be one of those heroines that amazingly learns new powers fast, or bumbles around trying to figure them out.  She also knows a good deal about the supernatural world (though there is always more to learn).  Mel may have chosen to avoid the creatures it consists of, but she is familiar with them.  Her main hang-up will be having to interact with those other races since she was taught to be afraid of them by her mentor.

10)  Melena’s appearance- she is a pretty woman (though not gorgeous).  She won’t have men falling at her feet, but there will be a few attracted to her.  Her body is on the smaller side (no over-sized breasts for this heroine), but she is well-toned due to frequent exercise.  She knows she has to stay in good shape because she is already so much weaker than her enemies.  Being fit could mean the difference between life and death.

 

These are all factors I took into consideration when writing Darkness Haunts and will continue to follow in the successive novels of the Sensor Series.  It will hopefully help readers identify with the main character and perhaps even learn from her.  Though there are a lot of paranormal elements involved, I wanted it to be as believable as possible with such a fictional world being used.