Category Archives: Updates

April update

First of all, thank you to everyone who has picked up a copy of Darkness Wanes.  I’ve appreciated all the wonderful feedback I’ve received via email and Facebook messages.  If you’d consider leaving a review on Amazon or whichever retailer you use, I’d greatly appreciate it.

The paperback should be out within two weeks for those interested.  I’m getting it formatted now.  Many people have asked about the audiobook and my publisher has set it to release on June 21st.  Sorry it can’t be sooner, but hopefully the time will pass quickly!

As for Dancing with Flames (book 2 of the Dragon’s Breath series), I have begun working hard on it.  I’d done some of the preliminary work last year after finishing the first novel, but now I’m getting deep into the writing.  One thing I’m enjoying is that with the apocalypse and basic world-building tasks are out of the way, I can focus more on the characters and plot threads with this installment.  There will be some recap of events from the first book, but mostly I’ll be pushing the story forward.

Yesterday, I spent some time on research I needed for the novel, going to visit a couple of sources for various information (don’t want to spoil anything).  It’s amazing how many people are patient with me when I ask crazy questions related to the series and that they’re willing to help.  I also walked through the location for one of the battle scenes and took a bunch of pictures I’ll refer to later.  There was a skateboard park nearby.  The guys there were giving me strange looks because I had to pass by them along my way while snapping photos (in another direction), but I ignored them.  Unfortunately, their colorful ramps couldn’t figure into my story due to their location.  This particular battle scene is already written, but my first drafts are bare bones with little description so I needed to get the proper lay of the land for when I do my revisions.

I know a lot of people want a hard date for when the novel will be out.  Believe me, I wish I could give it to you, but after all the delays with Darkness Wanes I’m a little nervous to do that just yet until I reach a certain point in the book.  Nothing bothers me more than letting you guys down when I miss a target date.  At the very least, we’re looking at two months from now.  That is doable, barring any unforeseen circumstances.  It’s spring, though, so keep your fingers crossed that Oklahoma doesn’t get another spat of tornadoes to distract me.  Speaking of which, there are storms forecast for the next couple of days so I should probably get off here and get some writing done while the weather is still calm.

Thanks again for all the support you’ve given me and for your patience.  I’ll post another update later in the month.

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 🙂

*********************

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

Book sale and other updates

As most of you are aware, I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal issues lately.  I can’t begin to thank everyone enough for the outpouring of support you’ve given me.  It has meant a lot.  Though I try to respond to emails, private messages, and comments as best I can, it has been a bit much to keep up with so please forgive me if I haven’t responded.  I am hoping to get caught up soon.

Speaking of which, I apparently missed an email from Amazon alerting me that they were going to run Stalked by Flames as a Kindle Daily Deal today (February 2nd).  They usually let authors know about two weeks in advance, but if you read my last post you’re aware I wasn’t in the best place around that time and must have missed their message.  It was a fluke I noticed the price change this morning.  Anyway, it’s currently $1.99 on Amazon U.S. (today only) for anyone who hasn’t picked up their ebook copy yet.  This is the link:    http://www.amazon.com/Stalked-Flames-Dragons-Breath-Series-ebook/dp/B012O4NCSQ/

Also, an author friend of mine, Debra Dunbar, recently released a novel in an all-new series titled Dead Rising.  If you’ve read her imp books, it doesn’t have the same level of quirky humor that one does.  This new series is closer to how I write.  Months ago I had the chance to beta read some of the early chapters and really enjoyed the story.  The heroine is from a long line of Templars, which is new and different from the usual urban fantasy fare. There isn’t much romance in the first novel, but a hint of it is there with the promise of more to come.

Debra also has the second novel in the series up for pre-order and will be releasing it in mid-March.  If you enjoy it, you won’t have to wait long for the next installment (unlike my books *cough*).  Oh, and Dead Rising is in Kindle Unlimited so you can borrow or purchase it, whichever is easiest for you.  Just click on the cover below and it will take you to the book’s Amazon page.

Dead Rising book cover

As for Darkness Wanes, I’m slowly getting back into working on it.  I hope to give you a positive update soon on where that is at.  Thanks so much for your patience everyone.

Tough times

I’ve been getting quite a few messages from readers over the last couple of weeks, but I haven’t had much time or energy to respond.  Please know I am reading them.  There has just been a lot going on in my life.  Last week my grandfather fell off the back porch and broke his shoulder.  This was unusual for him because despite being 90 yrs old, he was rather steady on his feet.  Still, we wrote it off as his age catching up to him.  I helped get him to the hospital and assisted my father with taking care of him after we got him home.  Looking back now, we should have known it was a precursor to something much worse.

Last Friday, I came over for our usual Friday night dinner we always had together.  I found him collapsed on the ground with my father kneeling next to him and on the phone with 911.  The way my grandfather looked…I knew it was bad.  He was breathing erratically and not responding when we tried talking to him.  When the paramedics arrived, he did manage to mumble a few words.  That gave me a little hope, but it was completely dashed once he arrived at the hospital.  He was comatose by that point. A nurse asked me if he normally looked that way.  I understood why she asked, considering his age, but his mind was as clear as could be until then.  Just the night before I’d sat by his bed, keeping him company since his broken shoulder had taken a lot out of him.  We talked about all sorts of things–life, politics, the weather.  I’m glad I had that time with him because I’d had no idea it would be our last conversation.

At the hospital, they ran a ct scan on him and discovered he’d had a massive stroke.  They showed the scan to us and said there was almost no chance he could come back from it.  I stared at the screen.  You didn’t have to be an expert to see it looked bad.  We had to make the tough decision everyone with loved ones fears and tell the doctors not to put him on life support.  He’d specifically told us he didn’t want that and he’d signed a DNR.  All we could do was make him comfortable and sit by him.

I knew he’d lived a long and good life, but seeing him like that was tough.  He was such a strong man and he’d always been a part of my life.  Staring at him lying in that bed, struggling for every breath, I cried.  Then I tried to pull myself together because other relatives were there.  Someone suggested we should talk to him.  I leaned over next to him and whispered that it was okay.  That I loved him.  He didn’t have to stay and he could go whenever he was ready.  Not that I wanted him to go, but I didn’t want him to suffer, either.  Everyone stood around in a sort of death watch.  The doctors said it would likely be hours, a few days at most.  My family played that game of trying to stay strong and not cry so as to not set anyone else off.  I gave up and went to the corner of the room and slumped against the wall.  I couldn’t help it.  I broke down and let myself cry for a few minutes before pulling myself back together.  He was there on that bed and his body was still fighting to live, but I knew I’d already lost him.

I can’t decide whether it was the longest or shortest night of my life, but somewhere near one in the morning he took his last breath and passed away peacefully.  The nurses came and checked his pulse and called his time of death.  They were so quiet and professional about it.  God bless them both.  They gave us time after that.  I asked everyone to leave the room so I could say my goodbyes.  It was hard.  What do you say to a man who has been such a huge part of your life?  He’d always been there for me.  I’d always shared everything with my grandfather.  Even when I was far away in the military I’d called him at least once a week to check in with him.  For the past few years, I’d been over at his place for dinner every Friday night and for brunch every Sunday afternoon, in addition to other random times I stopped by.  I’d spent as much time with him as I could and he’d always been happy to see me.  His degree had been in journalism (though he never worked in that career) and he’d been so pleased with my decision to become a writer.

And I’d lost him.  His body lay there in the hospital bed, cold and unmoving, but I had to talk to him one last time.  I told him I loved him, hoping his spirit was lingering somewhere nearby and that he could hear me.  There was more, but I can’t remember everything I said.  Part of the time, I just cried.  Then I let me father have the room so he could say his goodbyes.

Since then, we’ve been working on putting a memorial together for this weekend.  I’ve gone through hundreds of pictures, sorting certain ones to use for a video I’m putting together.  Something to commemorate his life.  Once in a while, I have to stop and take a breath.  I’m happy he lived his life so fully, but it’s hard to think about how he’s gone now.  How can someone who seemed larger than life just disappear so quickly?  I’ve gone in his bedroom a few times, sat in his chair, and just took in the last rays of his presence.  His cat continues to lie on his bed.  He doted on her so much and I have no idea if she realizes he’s gone.  I give her as much attention as I can.  She looks so sad, as if she is waiting for him to come back.

I have to put a program together for the memorial.  I found a template and got special paper, but filling it in is harder than I imagined.  There’s a part where you can put details about the person and their accomplishments.  It shouldn’t be that difficult, but despite being a writer I have no idea what to say.  It took me this long just to put together this blog post.  I’m only doing this much so you all know what is going on with me and why I may not respond to your messages right away.  I must get this program finished by tonight so it can be printed tomorrow.  My father and I have managed to get almost everything else arranged.  There are just a few final details left.  I don’t know what else to say other than I’m feeling numb at the moment.  Hopefully, things will get back on track with me and my writing soon.  I know my grandfather wouldn’t want me to put off working on my books because of him.  He often bothered me more than anyone about how I was going with them.  I do think I’ll dedicate Darkness Wanes to him.  He would like that.