Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: Nocturnal Lives (Page 1 of 3)

Nocturnal Rebellion Snippet

Nocturnal Rebellion is now available for pre-order. It’s been a tough road getting it there. Between real life interfering and the story taking a few left turns on me — all good for the story but they threw me because they weren’t what I expected.  (I know, silly me. I ought to know by now that Myrtle the Evil Muse loves to torment me.

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy writing Mackenzie Santos. From the very first book, Nocturnal Origins, (currently on sale for $0.99) she’s been a character that challenged me. She’s a dedicated cop with a complicated relationship with her family, especially her mother. The family secret, one she’s not let in on until it’s too late, is why that relationship has been so strained over the years. Mac’s always known there are monsters out there. As a homicide detective, she deals with them on a daily basis. What she didn’t know until the day she died — and came back — was that not all the monsters were human, or “normals”. Now she suddenly turns furry and that’s one secret she has to protect because the world simply isn’t ready to know shapeshifters exist outside of bad Hollywood movies and literature.

Except life is never easy. Over the course of the series, Mac’s learned shifter politics are more complicated — and deadly — than anything she’s ever had to deal with. Now shapeshifters face rebellion within their kind. Complicating matters even more, they have to find a way to make their existence known to the normal world without causing a panic and a modern day version of the witch hunts. That’s the background against which Nocturnal Rebellion opens.

***

The bullpen fell silent as Chief of Detectives, Luis Santiago, moved to the front of the room. The look on his face mirrored how they each felt. Disbelief, sorrow and anger – but mostly anger – burned in his dark eyes. They knew why he was there. Every cop, not to mention every cop’s family, faced this possibility each time they reported for duty. But that didn’t make it any easier, especially not when it hit this close to home.

Santiago looked around the squad room, making eye contact with each person there. It didn’t surprise him to find more than the day shift present. He had no doubt were he to check the other squads under his command, he would find the same thing. When a cop went down in the line of duty, no one worried about vacation or sick leave. Every cop, no matter what their rank or their assignment, would report in, ready to do all they could to find the perps responsible. That knowledge made him proud to be part of the long blue line. Not that it made this part of his job any easier. Fortunately, it was not something he had to do often, but even once was one time to many.

Standing there, seeing how each of those assigned to Homicide waited, hoping he had good news for them but knowing he did not, he drew a deep breath. He could have let someone else handle this. But that would have been the easy way out and he had never been one to push the uncomfortable parts of the job off on someone else. Besides, he owed it to them, and to their lieutenant, to make sure they understood that even though he no longer worked cases on the board, he was still one of them. He hurt with them and he thirsted for the same vengeance they did.

“I’m not going to tell you this gets easier. It doesn’t and each of you knows it. Let’s be honest. This squad has faced more than its fair share of challenges these last two years.” He paused and reached up to rub his eyes, burning with unshed tears, with thumb and forefinger. As he did, he felt every one of the last twenty-six hours he had been awake. Twenty-six hours of sitting vigil at the hospital and then talking with family members, of briefing Chief of Police Darnell Culver, and of doing all he could to head off any interference by the feds. Three of his own had gone down and he was damned if he was going to let the feds or any other agency take over the case. Then he cleared his throat and continued. “Each and every time, you have risen to the challenge and done what was necessary to carry out your duties as members of the DPD. I know I’m asking a lot now, but I need you to do so once again.

“The next few days are going to be difficult for the entire force, but especially for you. You not only lost one of your own yesterday but others of the cop family as well. I’ve spend a great deal of time with the families of our fallen brethren and they’ve asked me to let you know arrangements have been made. They thank each of you for all the time you have spent with them since the ambush. They have asked that, until the funeral, members of this squad continue to be with them. They know you were all family and they will feel better having someone who knew their loved one with them. Sergeant Collins, I’ll leave it to you to arrange schedules to accommodate this request.” He glanced at the squad’s acting commander and she nodded, her expression grim.

“In three days, we will lay the first of our fallen, to rest. I expect each of you to be there in dress uniform, representing not only this squad but the best of the force. Show the city that we bleed blue. Then show them that DPD does its job, no matter what. Find the bastards responsible for the ambush and bring them in to face justice.

“It would be easy to seek vengeance. I understand that feeling because I share it. No one, no matter who they are, is allowed to kill one of our own. But we will not lower ourselves, or the rest of DPD, down to those bastards’ level. Find them and bring them in. We will let the courts deal with them and, when the time comes, we will be sitting on the front row of the viewing chamber when they are brought in for their executions.” He glanced around as detectives, uniformed officers and clerical workers nodded grimly. “Do your lieutenant proud and find those bastards before they manage to kill anyone else.”

As one, everyone present turned to look at the darkened office with its closed door and silence so profound it felt almost alive filled the squad room. Then a tall blonde with short cropped hair, her expression stone-cold, pain reflected in her eyes, stepped forward. The others waited, watching as she approached Santiago.

“Sergeant Collins, the squad is yours,” the Chief of Detectives said. “Close this case before the feds try to take over. We will not step aside for anyone, not this time.”

The blonde nodded. As she did, she blinked back the tears swimming in her eyes. “Yes, sir.”

He nodded once and shook her hand. Then he turned and left the squad room. As the door closed behind him, Pat drew a deep breath. Whether she liked it or not, the squad was hers and she had a duty to do, a duty to the DPD, her partner and her squad.

“The Chief’s right,” she said softly. She did not try to hide her grief. Each person in the room shared it. “We have to work this like any other case, but let’s be honest. This isn’t just any other case and it never will be. We will have the press looking at everything we do, questioning each move and every word spoken. Worse, IAB is going to be nosing around.” She held up a hand before anyone could protest.

“Hear me on this. No one likes the idea of the rat squad poking around. This squad has first-hand knowledge how they can twist things to meet their own needs. So I want every i dotted and every t crossed in this investigation. Work this case like your life depends on it because it very well may. We have cop killers running loose on our streets and none of us are safe until we find them. So, when IAB comes calling, we will answer their questions. The quicker we do, the quicker we get them out of the squad and out of the investigation. Don’t play games with them. If they ask or allude to anything that sets off your warning bells, let me know.

“From now until this case is solved, it’s all hands on deck. All vacation time is canceled until further notice. If you call in sick, you’d damn well better have a doctor telling me you are on your death bed. Work your contacts and get your CI’s on the street and asking questions. Finding these bastards is our priority now. That said, make sure your other cases are worked as well. Don’t miss any court dates. But hear me,this is our priority. We will find the bastards behind the ambush and we will be the ones to bring them in.”

With that, she strode across the bullpen. Pausing before the door to the office that had been her partner’s she reached down to turn the knob. As she did, her hand shook. A sob rose in her throat. She choked it down. She had to maintain control until she was behind closed doors. The squad was hers, at least until Chief Culver found someone to replace Lt. Mackenzie Santos, not that anyone could ever fill her shoes as a cop or as a partner and friend.

Damn it, Mac. I wish you were here.

 

Update and a few thoughts

It’s done and with many thanks to Sarah A. Hoyt for the cover design. Now that I have it in hand, I’ll finish up the edits and get Rebellion up for pre-order Monday or Tuesday of next week. Pre-order will be for a shorter period than I usually do and those who pre-order will get a discount on pricing. I’ll announce when I set it up.

I love this book. It was harder to write in a number of ways than the other books. Not because it basically ends the current story arc, although that was part of it, but because of what I put some of the characters through. No one gets through this book unscathed in one way or another. But let’s be honest, you can’t go through life without taking a few knocks or stumbling some here and there.

I also started the real work of pulling together the special edition of Vengeance from Ashes yesterday. The storyline for the book and the series remains the same. The special editions will simply add material — a scene or chapter here and there. Think of it as the director’s cut of a movie. It’s fun not only because I’ve learned a great deal as I’ve written these books but because I get to go back in and add some material that will bring more depth not only to the characters but to the overall plot.

I’m also starting the real work of turning the very rough draft of Victory from Ashes (still not sure about that title) into something publishable. I have the cover for that book, sans tagline, in hand but I want to talk with Sarah about tweaking a part of it before the book comes out. As with Rebellion, Victory will wrap up at least a major part of the current story arc for the Honor and Duty Series. Also like Rebellion, it won’t mean the end of the series or characters, at least not all the characters. You never know who will die in a war and that is what Ashlyn and company face now. In order to keep the series interesting to me and to you, it is time to move on to the next phase of the story and see what happens next.

Now I’m off to find more coffee and hopefully wake up enough to get to work. Remember that Nocturnal Origins, the first book in the Nocturnal Lives series is currently on sale for $0.99.

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

 

Saturday Morning Reading Recommendations

I’m going to start off with a bit of self-promo. Nocturnal Origins, the first book in the Nocturnal Lives series, is on sale for $0.99. I’ve dropped the price in anticipation of the upcoming release of Nocturnal Challenge.

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

The Chaplain’s War

by Brad Torgersen

The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

April

by Mackey Chandler

April is an exceptional young lady and something of a snoop. After a chance encounter with a spy, she finds herself involved with political intrigues that stretch her abilities. There is a terrible danger she, and her friends and family, will lose the only home she has ever known, and be forced to live on the slum ball Earth below. It’s more than an almost fourteen year old should have to deal with. Fortunately she has a lot of smart friends and allies. It’s a good things because things get very rough and dicey. They challenge the political status quo, and with a small population the only advantage they have in war is a thin technological edge.

Six Years

I don’t usually look at the “memories” Facebook seems to be putting at the top of my feed each day of late. But today’s caught my attention. It was six years ago today Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1) was first offered for sale. Back then, it was only my second book published. Since then, there have been other books, including three others in the Nocturnal Lives series as well as a novella set in the same universe. There have been other books as well and other series but it is Mackenzie Santos and friends that keep calling me back. So much so that I had to stop a couple of weeks ago and get down the first quarter or so of Nocturnal Rebellion, the next book in the series. I’m looking forward to getting back to it once I finish the final edits on Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2).

If you enjoy urban fantasy and police procedurals, please give Origins a look. Thanks!

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Tuesday morning thoughts

It’s going to be a short post this morning, mainly because I’m blogging at Mad Genius Club today. Go check the post out. I talk about Books-a-Million and their indie publishing print platform as well as some of the changes over on the KDP side of things.

The other day, I posted a brief snippet of what I thought might turn out to be the opening to Nocturnal Rebellion, the next book in the Nocturnal Lives series. I’ll be honest. I had hoped by writing the scene, the muse would be satisfied and let me finish the final tweaking on Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). But noooo, the book has taken hold and the muse is demanding my attention. So, it looks like the next couple of weeks will see me splitting my time between the two. Fortunately, all that is needed on Dagger is minor tweaking and the final check of the print file before taking the book life. For now, however, the e-book is available for pre-order and, hopefully, the print book will be ready to go by the time the e-book goes live.

If Rebellion continues as it started, it is going to be a roller coaster ride. When I started figuring out the plot for the book several months ago, it did not look anything like what is happening now. Of course, as I’ve said before, my muse is an evil bitch and she is loving not only throwing me for a loop with the book but also in not letting me know what is happening more than a few pages ahead at a time. So far, it’s working — or so my alpha readers have said. Well, they also told me I had to keep writing it, so I guess something is working right.

Now I’m off to find another cup of coffee — idiot dog and BratCat decided 0430 was a wonderful time to get me up. It didn’t matter that I disagreed. Sigh.

Later!

A pre-order and something new

Like Punxsutawny Phil, the writer slowly sticks her head out of her burrow and looks around. Unlike the thrice-damned ground hog who foretold of more winter to come before hiding back inside his hole, I welcome the sun. The last two months have been interesting, in the not-so-fun sort of way. But I have seen the light at the end of a tunnel — note, I don’t say “the tunnel” because I learned long ago that life consists of a lot of tunnels and then clear areas. And that means I have pulled the lever and have a new title up for pre-order on Amazon.

Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) is available for pre-order — finally. I’m very proud of this book and, in my opinion, it is even better than the first book of the series,Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1).

Plots form, betrayals are planned and war nears.

Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

Not only is Dagger available for pre-order but I got hit with the opening of Nocturnal Rebellion yesterday as well. When I say “hit”, I mean in the sledgehammer sort of way. My muse has once again proved she is not only evil but that she revels in it. This is very rough it was one of those moments where I had to drop everything to get the general idea down.

***

The bullpen fell silent as the chief of detectives moved to the front of the room. The look on his face mirrored how they each felt. Disbelief, sorrow and anger but mostly anger. Every cop, not to mention every cop’s family, faced this possibility each time they stepped out the door. But that didn’t make it any easier, especially not when it hit this close to home.

“This squad has faced a number of challenges the last two years.” He paused and reached up to rub his eyes with thumb and forefinger. Then he cleared his throat and continued. “Each time, you have risen to the challenge and done what was necessary to carry out your duties as detectives for DPD. I know I’m asking a lot now, but I need you to do so once again.

“The next few days are going to be difficult for the entire force, but especially for you. You lost one of your own the other day. Tomorrow, we will lay your fellow detective to rest. I expect each of you to be there in dress uniform. Show the city that we bleed blue. Then show them that DPD does its job, no matter what. Find the bastards responsible for the ambush and bring them in to face justice.

“It would be easy to seek vengeance. I understand that feeling because I share it. No one, no matter who they are, is allowed to kill one of our own. But we will not lower ourselves or the rest of the force down to those bastards level. Find them and bring them in. We will let the courts deal with them and we will be in the viewing chamber on the day they are brought in for their execution.” He glanced around as detectives, uniformed officers and clerical workers nodded grimly. “Do your lieutenant proud and find those bastards before they manage to kill anyone else.”

As one, everyone present turned to look at the darkened office with its closed door and silence once more fell over the squad room.

Halloween Reads

Halloween is just around the corner and whether your taste in reading runs to the truly scary, funny scary or something in between, there are a number of books out there for you. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be highlighting some books I’ve enjoyed as well as some of my own books (I know, but a writer’s got to promote).

First up are a couple of books by Kate Paulk.

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

Impaler

Impaler by Kate Paulk revisits the tale of Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad Tepes and Vlad the Impaler. This is the tale of historical fact mixed with fiction and a touch of fantasy. But this is most definitely not the tired tale of vampires skulking in the night, lying in wait for innocent victims. Impaler tells the tale of a man devoted to family and country, cursed and looking for redemption. December, 1476. The only man feared by the all-conquering Ottoman Sultan battles to reclaim his throne. If he falls all of Europe lies open to the Ottoman armies. If he succeeds… His army is outnumbered and outclassed, his country is tiny, and he is haunted by a terrible curse. But Vlad Draculea will risk everything on one almost impossible chance to free his people from the hated Ottoman Empire.

Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1)origins cover

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Witchfire Burning (Eerie Side of the Tracks Book 1)

Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.

Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.

Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.

And the family home is more than a little sentient.

Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?

When characters start demanding a change of pace

As those of you who regularly follow the blog know, I’ve been working on a series of short stories set in the Honor and Duty (3 Book Series) universe. Part of this is to give fans of the series a reward for sticking with me after the fiasco that the release of Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) turned into. Part of it is, to be honest, to give me a break from writing novels for a couple of months. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on both Victory from Ashes, the next novel in the Honor and Duty series, or Dagger of Elanna, the next book in the Sword of the Gods series. I have rough drafts for both novels completed. Taking Flight (Honor and Duty) is already available on Amazon. My plan had been to finish and post the second short story, Battle Bound, this week and Battle Wounds, the third short story next week. Except I ran into a speed bump yesterday that threatens to derail that schedule.

What happened? Very simply, I had a character, a very vocal character demand that I give her equal time. She stomped her foot and did everything but hold her breath. No, what she did was much more effective. She hit me over the head with a project that would not take more than a couple of days to do because the “story” has already been written. But, as she reminded me, it wasn’t written the way she had wanted. So now she is making her demands known once more, all while giving me that same look mothers give their kids to warn them not to push back.

Who is this character? That’s simple. She is the most headstrong and vocal of all the characters who live in my head. Mac Santos. As for not writing the last book, Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4), the way she wanted, she’s right. That book gave me fits because Mac stood in my mind, feet firmly planted so to speak, and wanted the book written in first person. Part of me considered doing it that way. The problem is that the other books of the series are written in third person. I simply could not change that this far into the series.

But now I’m considering giving in and letting Mac have a short story or two in first person. It would be simple to redo parts of the books already out from her POV. While it would be a rehash, it would be different because it would give the reader a more up close and personal insight into Mac as she makes the transition from human to shapeshifter. Will I do it? Probably, but I’m not sure what the time frame will be.

Of course, the other thing I have to look at is if there would even be a market for such a story. What say you? Would you be interested in stories from Mac’s first person point of view? I will try to post a short snippet later this morning or early afternoon.

Until then!

 

Evolution of a Character

One of the things I love most about a series is watching how the characters grow. It is more than how the deal with a particular situation that could result in life or death. It is how they relate to the people and world around them. I want characters who aren’t cardboard cutouts. I need to be able to relate to them, to their humanity, for lack of a better word.

I’m not explaining this very well — I blame it on not having enough coffee yet. So let me try again. I want to see characters who have character faults, who have challenges to meet without becoming a cardboard superhero to do so. I want them to be realistic, within the setting of the story and their own backstories, in how they respond to a situation. But I also want them to know they have faults and weaknesses and try to work to improve, or at least work with those weaknesses so they don’t keep hiding in the proverbial corner.

I started by saying I love seeing this growth in a series but, truth to tell, I love it in single novels as well. The difference is a series gives the author more time — and more situations — which can help lead to that growth. Of course, there are exceptions. Books like Gone with the Wind, 75th Anniversary Edition or A Woman of Substance (Harte Family Saga Book 1), books where years and even decades of a character’s life are covered should also have growth. It can be growth in a good way or bad, but it should be there.

That growth is something I have had to look at with my work. I hope I have done it. I think I have, at least with my two major series.

Mackenzie Santos has probably been the most challenging to write because her world has been turned upside down. Things she once thought were nothing more than the imaginings of filmmakers and authors are the realities of her life. When Nocturnal Origins opens, Mac doesn’t know what is happening to her. She is afraid she is losing her mind. Maybe the pressures of being a cop have finally gotten to her and she’s cracked. Or maybe almost dying after being attacked before the book began did it. All she knows for sure is that weird things are happening and there is no logical explanation for them.

When she finally accepts the fact that she is a shapeshifter, something she never knew existed outside of film and book, she is faced with having to either live up to the oaths she took as a cop, oaths she has held pretty much sacrosanct for almost ten years, or stepping outside the bounds of those oaths to protect not only the “normals” but her own people as well.

It’s not a decision she makes easily nor is it one she doesn’t have second, third and one-hundredth doubts about. If she holds to the oaths she took as a cop, oaths that are a very real part of who she is, she knows her actions can and probably will lead to the discovery of shapeshifters. That discovery, she knows, would be very bad on so many different levels. There was the risk of public panic, panic that could make the witch hunts of old look tame. Then there were those with little regard for anything other than their own financial gain who would try to use the shapeshifters for who knew what, none of it good. Add to that the fear of what the government might do. . . and she is having to make decisions that don’t sit easily.

Over the course of the next three books and one novella, Mac learns more about her heritage and begins the journey of mending fences with her mother. By the time we get to Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4), she has come to a balance — sometimes precarious — between who she was and who she is now. She is still a cop but she is a shifter and that means she sometimes has to apply shifter law instead of the law on the books. But it all comes down to protecting the innocent, no matter who they are. Of course, now she is having to wrap her mind around the fact that she has to make a decision about what course to follow where her fellow shapeshifters are concerned. Does she pledge to the ruling council, even if she doesn’t agree with what they are doing, or does she follow her conscience and help find a way to ease her new people out of the shadows before their existence is revealed through modern technology? Add in government entanglements and personal desires and a younger sister who is more headstrong than wise, and her life is nothing but interesting.

And wouldn’t she give almost anything for a run-of-the-mill murder case? Things were much simpler when she thought she knew all the rules.

Ashlyn Shaw, the lead character from Honor and Duty (3 Book Series) presents a different set of challenges. Her world and those she care for betrayed her. At least that’s what she believes when Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1) opens. She has spent two years at a military penal colony. Those of her squad who had not been killed on their last mission had been court martialed and convicted along with her. Isolated from family and friends, betrayed by her government and the Corps she loved, she has had two years to grow bitter and plot her vengeance. All she has to do is survive her time at the penal colony.

Except her world is turned upside down again and she is brought back to her home planet. Things have changed in the last two years. Those responsible for what happened to her are no longer in control. At least that is what she’s told. But does she dare trust them? She had made that mistake once and she was damned if she would do so again.

When the capital is attacked, instinct and duty take over. They are strong enough to keep her from deserting and going after those she holds responsible for what happens. Not that she gives up those plans. No, she will do what is necessary to keep those few who supported her safe and then she would go hunting. She didn’t care if it meant a return to the penal colony or even her death. She would avenge those who had died because of their betrayal. Maybe then she would be able to sleep at night.

Ash is, to be honest, broken in a lot of ways. Duty, ingrained in her from birth, keeps her from doing what she wants. But she keeps telling herself she will make sure her comrades are avenged, no matter what the personal cost. Even as she begins to trust again, that need is still there. It breaks through from time to time, causing her to take action she would never have done before being brought up on charges. However, over the course of the next three books, she slowly heals emotionally. Part of it is because her champions are smart enough to surround her with those she does trust. Part is because she sees who things have changed. It doesn’t mean she believes such a betrayal can’t happen again. Politics can cause almost anything to happen. But she won’t be so naive as to not take steps to protect herself and those under her command if her instincts start shouting about something not being right.

It’s not an instant emotional or mental healing. The doubts flare up, sometimes at the worst possible moment. She doesn’t always recognize them — at least not at the moment.

I hope I get all that across, for both Mac and Ashlyn. In my mind, that growth, and the internal struggles the growth causes, help make them more interesting characters. Hopefully, my readers agree.

You can find both series, as well as my other work, on Amazon.

When a book becomes a series — Nocturnal Lives

Yesterday, I started a series of posts on how I wound up writing four different series at once. It wasn’t something I did by plan. It just happened. You see, my muse is an evil creature who likes to torment me by enticing me with one book and then, as that book nears its end, letting me know that it really is just the beginning. The first time it happened, I figured it was a fluke. Boy was I wrong.

The first time it happened was with Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1). That book was born out of the desire to write a police procedural/mystery but with a supernatural element to it. Unlike so many urban fantasies and paranormal romances, the existence of shapeshifters was not known to the public-at-large. The main character, Mackenzie Santos, thought they were nothing more than things of bad Hollywood movies. Even after she is attacked one night and “died”, only to wake up in the morgue several hours later — almost scaring the poor morgue attendant to death in the process — she didn’t think she was anything more than lucky. Then, when she started waking in locations different from where she went to sleep, and without any clothes on, she wondered if she was losing her mind. Even when she realizes that she is turning furry and there are others like her, she’s not completely sure it isn’t all some madness induce nightmare.

But through it all, she has a duty to perform. A serial killer is hunting on the streets of Dallas and it’s her job to find him before he can kill again. When that serial killer turns out to be another shapeshifter, well, life just go real.

When I first finished Origins, indie publishing hadn’t really taken off. So I went the way so many authors have over the years. I sent it off to agents and publishers. There were the usual rejections. They hurt. No one likes hearing their baby isn’t beloved by all. But there were others who were interested. However, they always had something they wanted done to the book, something I wasn’t willing to do. One wanted more sex. Even then, this particular editor felt that if you had a shapeshifter, sex had to play a prominent role in the book, whether it progressed the plot or not. It didn’t matter that Mac had more than enough on her plate just trying to come to terms with what she had become. The last thing she needed just then was to get involved with someone. Another editor wanted me to completely rewrite the book, going from third person limited to first person point of view. Everything else was just fine. All I had to do was make that one “minor” change. Not only no but hell no because there was no guarantee of a contract after making such a drastic change.

Long story short, I brought Origins out with a small press and later, when the rights reverted back to me, I re-released it. Not once have I regretted those decisions.

However, once Origins was finished and I started trying to shop it around, I realized that Mac’s story was far from over. All I had done woith Origins was bring her to the point where she was beginning to accept what she was. But there were a number of questions raised in it that still needed to be explored and answered. That’s how Nocturnal Serenade (Nocturnal Lives Book 2) was born.

Yes, it was still a police procedural. There were still crimes to be investigated and solved. But also introduced Mac’s mother and grandmother, both of whom have a great deal to explain — like why they never told Mac she came from a long line of shapeshifters. This book also gave more of an insight into pride dynamics. In other words, Mac’s world was expanding and that, in and of itself, needed to be told.

Along about this same time, I wrote a novella using Mac and company. While their shifter natures were mentioned and they were able to use some of their enhanced senses, the focus of the story was the crime and solving it. I wanted to see if I could write a police procedural without relying on Mac changing into a jaguar to take down the bad guy. Nocturnal Haunts (Nocturnal Lives) was that novella. It may, at some point in the future, be expanded into a full novel but I’m not sure.

Mac wasn’t done, not by a long shot. One of the main points Mac made in both Origins and Serenade was that their kind had to be more careful now than ever before. In this day and age of smartphones and Youtube and security cameras everywhere, one slip was all it would take for their secret to get out. Add to that the advances in forensics and, sooner rather than later, someone would realize shifters existed. That meant they had to be prepared. Would they allow themselves to become the victims of a modern day witch hunt or would they start preparing the way for them to reveal themselves under their own terms and in such a way a panic didn’t result?

Nocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives Book 3) begins to answer those questions. What neither she nor those closest to her know is that a group of shifters has already started making those inroads. Unfortunately, there is another group with another goal in mind. When their kind goes public, they want it to be in such a way that shifters become the predominate species. That puts the two groups on a crash course and Mac finds herself smack in the middle.

As with the other books in the series, there is a crime to solve. Only this one hits closer to home than ever. At a time when Mac should be celebrating one of the happiest times of her life, she returns home from a well-deserved vacation to discover that her partner and best friend has been abducted. Worse, Pat is only one of several, most of whom Mac knows, who have gone missing while she was gone. If that wasn’t bad enough, she then discovers that her own squad had been ordered not to tell her what happened. Needless to say, Mac is not happy and she is soon digging into what happened.

By the end of the book, she knows more about the two sides than she ever wanted. She also has to make a choice, one that will impact not only herself but those closest to her. She can choose to do what she has advocated all along, that the shifters find a way to ease their way into the public eye or she can sit back and go along with the powers that be. The former is, in her mind, not only the right thing to do but the smart thing. However, it also is a step that doesn’t just toe the line of shifter law but steps over it. But the other would seal the death warrants on an untold number of both shifters and normals. That’s something she can’t do.

Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) is the latest book in the series. It continues the conflict set up in Interlude. Choices are made and there can be no going back. Even as she knows she is doing the only thing she can and still live with herself, Mac wishes things could go back to the way they were before that fateful night of her birthday celebration when she’d been attacked. A nice murder without any sort of supernatural element to it would be great. That’s especially true when it comes to the politics of the job. Screw up there and she could get fired. But screw up shifter politics and she could die.

If Interlude hit close to home, Challenge walks through the door and sets up house. Even as Mac and the others wait to see if Pat and the others who had been kidnapped will survive the injuries inflicted on them by their captors, Mac is faced with trying to keep her family safe. That includes her younger brother and sister. Like their mother, they have not shifted and they don’t really understand the danger they all face. Thinking she knows better than her older sister, mother and grandmother, Abby leaves the safe house and falls into the hands of the enemy. Let’s just say a pissed off big sister who also happens to shift into a jaguar isn’t someone to mess with.

There will be at least one more book in the series. The plot is already talking to me. It is my hope to have it out by the end of the year but it may be the first quarter of next year. In the meantime, the other books are available in digital format from Amazon, with no additional drm added, and can be ordered in print format from most booksellers (note: the last two titles will be available later this month in print format).

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