“Midnight at the Mausoleum” — Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

Guardians DecalTypically, I don’t write series in order, per se. I draft all the story packets (my ideas, laid out in a general chapter-by-chapter format) in the beginning, but I will fill in scenes as they come to me, then make changes accordingly as I fine-tune, for the series. Guardians, Inc. and Witch Hollow have definitely fit that mold.

Lately, I’ve been working on Witch Hollow’s 6th book, BODY OF EVIDENCE…

What’s a pathologist to do when the body parts believed to be from the same victim instead turn out to be from a dozen different victims? Add in a missing girl from a wealthy family, abducted in a similar manner as all the other victims, and a man with a very dark family secret to keep, and Faith MacKenzie and her Bunker crew have their work cut out for them. And when the missing girl’s trail takes Faith and Jonathan into the dark underside of New Orleans’ paranormal community, it may just turn out to be more than Faith can handle.

“Midnight at the Mausoleum” – Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book 6) –

“So, are you going to tell me what we’re doing in the middle of a cemetery, in the middle of the night?” Faith cast a glance his way. “This isn’t how I usually exhume a body.”

He quirked her a wry half-grin she could barely see by the light of her flashlight. “We’re not exhuming anyone. And this is the only way we get in. Max’s relatives are a little… eccentric.”

Her brows lifted, and she fought down the urge to swear. Why hadn’t she seen this coming? “This is another one of your little ghost hunt things, isn’t it? Jonathan…”

“No. Just trust me, okay, Mac? If we’ve got any hope of finding Elizabeth alive, we have to use every resource at our disposal. You need to try and keep an open mind, here.” He turned to pin her with an intense stare made all the more unsettling by the night-draped cemetery around them. “And stay close to me. No wandering off. And, Mac? Don’t touch anything.”

She rolled her eyes, and forced a laugh. “You make it sound like we’re walking into a minefield.”

He didn’t laugh, and his somber expression didn’t so much as flicker. “I’m serious, Mac. You stick to me like glue, and don’t touch a thing, or this is going to end very badly for both of us.”

Something about his tone… Faith swallowed hard as sudden fear closed around her throat. Her voice rasped when she finally managed, “Just who are these people?”

He sighed, and resumed walking. “Vampires.”

Her feet felt frozen in place, disbelief ricocheting through her, before she forced herself to start moving again. He’d pulled some strange ones, in their time as partners, but this took the cake. “Vampires? Really, Jonathan…”

“Very traditional ones. Old World. They like their theatrics.” He stopped, looking up at an imposing mausoleum. “We’re here. Remember what I said, Mac.”

She swallowed again. “Close. Don’t touch. Gotcha.”

And, as Jonathan slowly pushed open the heavy, weathered door to the crypt, Faith tried to force her pulse steady. It was getting more and more difficult to dismiss Jonathan’s world as non-existent. If only she knew what she was getting herself into…

Reader Choice Poll

In response to your requests that I make this blog a little more interactive, I’m starting running some polls, surveys, etc you can participate in.  Today’s poll is your choice of favorite couple from my books!

Cast your vote today for your favorite couple (choose from those listed, or add your own… the only rule is that they HAVE to be from one of my books! :) … Any entries not related to my work will be deleted and not counted. Please be respectful of where you are) — you can choose up to your three (3) favorites.

 

“Moment of Doubt” — Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Daughter of Ashes

 

Legends of Tirum was another series that started out as a free-write notebook full of scenes. I started those back in the late 1980s, and collected them over the course of the next ten years, whenever I needed to take a break from the heavier Science Fiction books I was writing at the time. I was surprised to discover, in the mid-1990s, when I sat down to read through my accumulated scenes, that I had the foundation for a very unusual type of Sword-and-Sorcery Fantasy series. And, as the series background took shape over the next decade, the first book started to come together.

I really love the depth of these two characters – they manage to complete each other, without actually needing each other to be complete.  It’s a very interesting relationship. :)

 

“Moment of Doubt” – excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum, Book 1) –

Sala floated back into the fireplace, and the fire suddenly doused itself into little more than hot ash and a few smoldering coals.

Telyn swallowed hard, suddenly edgy now that she was completely alone with Nacaris.

“I don’t know how to do this,” she admitted quietly.

“Shh.” He touched a finger to her lips, stilling her. “I understand there are things you can’t share with anyone. I’m only asking to be a part of what you can share.”

His face filled her vision, and Telyn’s eyes widened as his lips replaced his touch against her mouth in a soft, gentle kiss she never expected from this battle-hardened man. Enclosed in his embrace as he released her lips, Telyn allowed herself to sink against the leather of his tunic and breathe in the scents of man, horse, and travel that clung to him. It was a comforting scent, underscored by something dark, dangerous, and uniquely Nacaris. She sighed regretfully. “I wish–”

“What?” He nuzzled her hair, and stroked a hand lightly over her back. “Talk to me, Telyn.”

She stifled a mirthless laugh. He had no idea how much she struggled to keep her thoughts from him — she already feared they were doomed. “I wish it could always be like this.”

“What, always on the hunt? Roaming endlessly, without a home?” He squeezed her lightly. “Be careful what you wish for, balnyt. Nature is both a capricious and mischievous mistress. You may get what you want, in ways you least desire.”

Telyn shuddered, hearing the ring of prophecy behind those teasing words. She wasn’t fool enough to test them just now. Instead, she burrowed into his embrace and allowed herself a rare moment to be something other than a warrior.

Pick up your copy of DAUGHTER OF ASHES today, at Amazon.com

“Dead Pirate Walking” – Excerpt from LADY’S LAMENT (Guardians, Inc)

Guardians DecalGuardians, Inc. has given me a lot of space to play, over the years. Until a few years ago, I had bunches of random scenes all collected in a series of notebooks I keep for when I free-write (that’s an exercise to keep the creative juices flowing when I get bogged down by something, or I experience a writing lull where I just can’t focus). I knew I wanted to do something with them, but my hands were tied by an early publishing mistake I made.

When I went back and decided to undo the mistake, to return a book that was virtually destroyed to its original glory, the floodgates opened, and Guardians, Inc and its sub-series came pouring out, from the notebooks, drawing forward a flood of fascinating characters I hadn’t realized introduced themselves in those free-writing pages.

Here’s a brief snippet from one of those stories, the creation of which comes from a free-writing session done in early 1991. Enjoy! :)

“Dead Pirate Walking”  — excerpted from Lady’s Lament (Guardians, Inc)

There was someone up there.  A  chill of awareness slid through Alie, pulling her gaze to the upstairs window of the old manor, even as her brain called her an idiot for believing Mrs. Tolliver’s stories.  She dealt with Paras every day, and she’d never encountered a ghost.  She didn’t even believe in them.

She was about to turn away, when the curtains stirred again.  The air left her body in a gasp of disbelief as a shadowy figure passed behind the curtains and disappeared.  There was no one in that wing of the manor; not at this time of night.  But it was exactly where the chatty town historian told her rumor said the pirate appeared, keeping look out for the lover who once betrayed him.

A new shiver passed through Alie, and nausea gripped her.  There are no such things as ghosts.

But what if there were?  Were the stories true?  After all this time, had Captain Sawyer come back from the grave?  Or had he simply never left?

“In a Demon’s Wake” – Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus, Book 1)

PPAtlantisdecalToday’s Flash comes from one of the most unique and unusual books I’ve ever written.  While definitely highly on the paranormal side of fiction, this book is unique even among its series-mates, in that it involves a culture many don’t even realize still exists beneath the fabric of other cultures and religions.  I certainly enjoyed writing it, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Disclaimer:  This scene contains descriptions of violence of a graphic nature and language some may find offensive.  Reader discretion is advised.

“In a Demon’s Wake” – Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus, Book 1)

“We went in there with orders not to kill anyone.  But no one told us the revolutionaries knew anything about bombs or planting mines.  Four of my team got blown to pieces when they tripped some hidden claymores.”

Manara gasped at those words, every muscle in her body tensed as if he physically struck her.  The memory of the canyon flooded over her.  Blessed Ishtar, she let it happen again!  No wonder he didn’t trust her!  She tried to pull away, sick with her own sins, but his arms were like steel bands around her waist and his gaze, when she turned to look at him, was fixed in another time.

“I guess I just flipped out or something.  I don’t really remember.  All I remember is turning the teams loose and telling them to waste every goddamned gook they saw.”

Manara saw the pain flash across his face, heard the hollow regret in his words.  This, she realized, was but one of his demons, spawned from whatever great evil had torn loose that piece of his soul.  Sadly, she knew his tale wasn’t over.  Covering his hands with her own, she asked, “What happened?”

His gaze came back to her and Manara wanted to weep at the coldness of his eyes.  This was the man she didn’t know¾the one she saw only a glimpse of when his demons held her prisoner.  “They did exactly what I said.  Afterward, we found out there weren’t any revolutionaries in that village.  Just farmers.  The claymores were leftovers from V.C. plants in the Seventies.  They just weren’t uncovered until my men triggered them.  I ordered an entire village wiped out, for nothing.  Nothing!

Tears welled up in Manara’s eyes as she watched him struggle with the evil truth he held silent for so long, a mistake such a good man could only suffer under.

“Matthew.”  She reached to stroke his cheek.  “You cannot blame yourself when the true fault lies with another.  Who made that madman?  What was her name?”

He swallowed hard and Manara’s heart broke for him.  To live with such painful secrets…  His eyes met hers; she saw surprise, and then gratitude, light within the depths of his darkness.  He knew she understood; perhaps that would make his tale easier for him to share.  A sigh left him and his eyes closed as he hugged her to him and the words flowed out.

“Her name was Rachel Murray, and I was all of fourteen years old.”

Look for this and more of Project Prometheus, coming soon from Desert Breeze Publishing!

“Gatekeeper” – Excerpt from BETWEEN WORLDS (Project Prometheus)

PPAtlantisdecalBETWEEN WORLDS wraps up the sub-series within Project Prometheus called Atlantis Silver — a sub-series of five books that kicks off the entire series with the reincarnation of five Elders from the abandoned and mostly destroyed ancient island of Ali-Antos, known today as Atlantis.

BETWEEN WORLDS brings the Elders back to Ali-Antos, and the temple they abandoned in the face of its imminent destruction at the hands of the Brotherhood of Spiders. And none among the Elders has more to set right than the gatekeeper to the Temple of the Stars — a woman who literally gave everything she was to correct a grievous wrong she committed. And the price she’s to pay in her reincarnation may be one she can’t face at all.

 

“Gatekeeper”  – Excerpted from Project Prometheus: BETWEEN WORLDS (Project Prometheus, Book #5)

She was so cold.  The wind here on the shore was bitter, chilled by the storm raging around her.  Csilla huddled in the cavern, watching as the boats were made ready.

“Are you ready, Gatekeeper?”

She turned at the sound of a masculine voice, to find Sargon beside her, tall and strong in his armor, the glow of his charge shining around him even from where it rested, secure in the scabbard at his side.  She shuddered to think how, of them all, only she was a real danger.  Only her charge could bring them all back to this place, and only her charge could be forced from her grasp by any manner besides death.

“Go, Warrior,” she whispered, already aware of what she must do.  And yet, she could not tell these men, her soul-brothers, what she planned.  They would surely halt her plan, if they knew how she meant to protect them all.  “I am weary, and will bide here a while.”

He frowned.  “It is not safe, Csilla.  Already, Arachaena swarm the mountain above us.  They must not find us here.”

She looked out toward the storm-tossed waves where she once found solace.  Sadness gripped her. She would leave all of this behind. She hugged her cloak tighter about her shoulders.  There was no help for it.  This was as it must be.

“I shall follow directly.  Have Mykalos tie me a boat in yon rocks.”

Sargon sighed, but relented.  Truly, he was too tender to a woman’s comfort. She feared that would bring him to ill ends.  “Do not linger too long, Csilla.”

She smiled up at him, careful he did not read her sorrow.  “I will be gone before they arrive.”

With a nod, his eyes wary, Sargon left her and headed for the boats beyond.  Csilla sighed, and shivered slightly as she rested her back against the cool rocks.  The weight of the knife concealed beneath her cloak was a cold reminder of what she must do.  She would keep her promise.  Only, it would not be as Sargon believed.

Look for the book that started it all, IN HER NAME, coming soon from Desert Breeze Publishing!

“Cursed” – Excerpt from DARK DESTINY (Project Prometheus)

PPSeriesDecalAll authors have at least one scene that, from the moment they introduce two characters, they just know is coming. It can be a really good scene, or a really bad one, but you just know it’s coming, even if you don’t know how or when.

This was one of mine. I knew these two characters would have to face this question, and that Dimitri would have to face this truth, sooner or later. From the moment I was introduced to his character, in IN HER NAME, and learned of his mother’s curse, I knew he would have to face this vulnerability, eventually. And from the moment Shayne Richards came onto the scene in SHADOW WALKER, I instantly knew these two would have this scene out, together. I haven’t finished writing DARK DESTINY, yet, so I’ve no idea exactly how this will all play out, and exactly how Anastasia Romanov’s dying curse will be fulfilled, but I’m right there with you, hoping these two make it through the Hell they’re about to face…

“Cursed” –Excerpt from DARK DESTINY (Project Prometheus) –

He regarded her somberly, unwilling to touch her. If he touched her, he’d want to kiss her. And if he kissed her, he’d want more. But he couldn’t have more. She shouldn’t even be here.

“You do not understand, Shayne. It is dangerous for you to be here.”

She snorted indelicately, her gaze narrowed and her arms crossed over her chest where she leaned against the railing. “Every damned day of my life is dangerous. Try again.”

“Not like this.” Frustration welled inside of him. He didn’t know how to make her understand. “It is not just the Brotherhood that wants me dead, Shayne. There are other forces. Forces that seek to claim my soul, and punish me. Forces I turned my back on…”

He froze, unable to continue the thought. The dominion over which he once had control could use his words against him. They could turn his life into the nightmare he believed to be real until just recently.

Shayne straightened, her eyes flashing with that quick intelligence that he so admired, and he watched in dread as fascination dawned there. “Why?”

He tried to summon the stone face he was so known for. “Why what?”

“You turned your back on these mysterious forces. Why? If you knew they would kill you for it, why would you turn your back on them?”

Because they made me kill you. It wasn’t something he could ever admit to her. He couldn’t tell her he’d been the one responsible for her injury – for what he thought was her death – in Venice. He couldn’t tell her about the guilt that ripped him apart, or how much he wanted to go back in time and change that day, change his whole damned life. For the first time in his life, he felt unworthy, that day in Venice. In the face of her courage, her determination to do the right thing regardless of the cost, he came up against his own choices, and he realized what a coward he was. He took the easy way out – let the belief that his destiny was one of darkness, death, and blood keep him from even trying to be a better man.

Now, he stared into that abyss again, in her eyes, and knew if he didn’t leap the chasm between them, he truly would be damned for all time. She was waiting, and his salvation waited with her. Drawing a breath, Dimitri looked headlong into the future for the first time in his life, and leapt.

“For you. I turned my back on them for you, Shayne.”