Tag: Eerie Side of the Tracks

Light Magic Available for Pre-Order Today!

Sorry for the silence, everyone, but I’ve been hard at work on Light Magic. In some ways, this has been my favorite book to write to date. In others, it has been the most frustrating. I hope that all adds up to a book everyone enjoys. In the end, it took a left turn on edits and that’s why it is up for pre-order today instead of today being the actual release date. That date is now Feb. 27th.

So, what happened? I realized as I was doing the final editorial pass that I’d done the one thing I hate in books: I’d rushed the ending. A couple of my beta readers mentioned it and I took a hard look at what happened. Yes, I could have released the book as it was but I always want to put out the best book possible and this one could, with a little work, be better. So I finished inputting the edits and made a difficult decision. Instead of rushing the reworking of the last several chapters, I chose to do a pre-order period instead. This gives me plenty of time to flush out the ending and let my beta readers have another look at those chapters. Continue reading

Light Magic – Snippet 4

(This snippet is from the rough draft of Light Magic. There may be — and probably are — misspellings, grammar issues and more that will be corrected in the editing phase. You can find Snippet 1 here, Snippet 2 here and Snippet 3 here. Of course, the usual disclaimers apply. Also, on the current events front, you can find my post about the shooting of Deputy U.S. Marshall Christopher Hill here.)

***

Mom and her letters. She had never really taken to using email, no matter how hard I tried to convince her it was easier and more convenient than relying on the U. S. Postal Service. Any time the topic came up, she’d smile and say I was right. Then she’d tell me a handwritten letter was more personal. I’d never really understood that before now. But, with her letter to me carefully tucked into a folder in the saddlebags on my Harley, I knew what she meant. That letter, no matter what it said, was the last of her I had. Or so I thought. Now there was another letter, one I had yet to see.

Standing there on the sidewalk in front of the café, I closed my eyes and inhaled. For a moment, I focused inward, finding my center. The morning had gone nothing like I’d expected and I felt off-balance. Nothing new, of course, at least not since learning of Mom’s death. But this was different. I felt as if I had stepped into an alternate universe, one where I didn’t know the players or the rules and I did not like that one bit. Continue reading

Announcement: Publication Dates

This morning’s blog is a bit of housekeeping. I have one set publication date to announce and a couple of tentative dates. Between them will be other projects going on. I simply haven’t figured out where they will fall in this year’s release schedule yet.

The one set date is Feb. 6th. That is when Light Magic will go live. I’m very excited for this release. The book has been a great deal of fun to write — when it wasn’t fighting me tooth and nail. I love the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe and characters. It’s fun to mix a world where magic exists but not everyone possesses it — or is comfortable with it. So mark your calendars. Light Magic will be here before you know it.

If the stars align, real life cooperates and Myrtle the Evil Muse doesn’t decide to play hell with my plans, there will also be a short story set i the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe released for Valentine’s Day. It’s basically written already. So, fingers crossed, I will be able to put the finishing touches on it (and get a cover designed) in time for a Feb. 14th release.

The next major date is May 8th. Again, assuming Myrtle et al don’t interfere, that will be the release date for the fourth novel in the Honor and Duty series. Tentatively titled, Victory from Ashes (this will change),  this book is the final entry in the current story arc of the series. There will be more novels and short stories, some featuring Ashlyn Shaw and others focusing on different characters, both old and new. I’m excited about finishing up this book and then starting on the next “chapter” in the story.

Also on the plate for release before July 4th is a short story/novella in the Nocturnal LIves series. As I noted the other day, I’d made a few notes about it. Those notes have blossomed into a full story in my head and I’m chomping at the proverbial bit to write it. I’ll say this. The story puts Mac in a situation where she would so much rather be facing down half a dozen crazed killers or renegade shapeshifers. To say she’s out of her element is putting it mildly. VBEG

Other than that, please head over to Mad Genius Club this morning and check out the guest post by Jacob Lloyd.

Writing Life

Oh how I wish the Hollywood image of a writer was real — no, not the writer in books like Misery. I’m talking about the image of Jessica Fletcher and Richard Castle, among others. You know, writers who have little trouble with characters who refuse to cooperate and where the money comes in hand over fist. Heck, I’d be happy with only one of the two happening. But that’s not the truth when it comes to having a writing life.

My latest adventures in this writing life of mine happened this weekend. I’ve been working, seriously working, on Light Magic for a couple of weeks. I know the story. I had a very, very rough draft. But this was the “real” writing. The character development and weaving in of sub-plots, etc.

And it was like pulling teeth. Oh, words were coming but there was something wrong with them. I couldn’t figure out what. I just knew it was there.

There are times when we, as writers, have to step back and think long and hard about what we are doing. It might be a current project, a project on the drawing board, or one in edits. But it is hard. We get so wrapped up in the writing life, in making sure we keep to our schedules, that we sometimes ignore the internal warning signals. I’ve been guilty of that and, each time, it’s risen up to bite me on the ass.

So, this weekend, I let my mind wander. Okay, I’ll admit it. Most of that was during a gathering I really didn’t want to be at. Giving myself permission to step back from writing Light Magic and just wander mentally helped. In fact, I figured out why I was fighting the project as much as I was.

I realized I had two separate problems to deal with. One was that I was trying to hook my main character up with the wrong person in the story. My subconscious had recognized something I hadn’t — or, more accurately, remembered something from previous titles in the series that I had forgotten. That’s the easy-ish part to solve. I even know who the love interest should be. I just have to figure out how introduce him into the story and get that part of the plot going.

Oh, wait, I’ve managed to do that as well. So far, so good. Right?

Yep.

But now comes the more difficult part. The main problem I had with the book was my main character. Somewhere along the line she had gone from the character I’d envisioned to one who let herself be swept along by events and other people. In other words, she was too passive.

Now, passive main characters have never been something I’ve suffered from. Yes, I have had one or two who, in retrospect, were probably too dumb to live. But I’ve never had one who hasn’t been a fighter in her (or his) own way. That bothered me and I spent most of the last 24 hours — including getting very little sleep because my brain kept returning to the issue — trying to figure out how to fix the issue.

The solution is there. I can see it. But it means I’m going to be head down, fingers on the keyboard even longer each day if I’m to keep to my schedule. It also means I’ll be releasing a short story in the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe to introduce the new male lead. Now, this story has been on the schedule but now it has been moved up.

Oh, and if that isn’t enough, I got hit with a short story set in the Nocturnal Lives universe that may — if I find time to write it — come out for New Years.

Yes, the writing life is anything but peaceful. There are times I wonder why I subject myself to the torture of Myrtle the Evil Muse. But I also wouldn’t give it up for anything.

Now, since I need to buy kibble for the animals, a bit of promo as well. Because I’m working on Light Magic, why not check out some of the titles in the universe?

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?

Slay Bells Ring (takes place in the same “universe” but not a direct entry in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series)

Fifteen years ago, Juliana Grissom left Mossy Creek in her rear view mirror. She swore then she would never return for more than a day or two at a time. But even the best laid plans can go awry, something she knew all too well, especially when her family was involved.

Now she’s back and her family expects her to find some way to clear her mother of murder charges. Complicating her life even further is Sam Caldwell, the man she never got over. Now it seems everyone in town is determined to find a way to keep her there, whether she wants to stay or not.

Bodies are dropping. Gossip is flying and Juliana knows time is running out. After all, holidays can be murder in Mossy Creek.

Light Magic — Snippet #1

(The opening of the novel, as well as some of the main character’s backstory, has changed. Myrtle, being the evil muse that she is, might demand further changes before publication. But here is the opening scene. This is from the rough draft. Hope you enjoy!)

***

If anything happens to me, go home to Mossy Creek. I mean it, Meggie. Go there and find Serena Duchamp. She’ll know what to do. Promise me, Meggie. Please. Do this for me and for you.

I first read those words two weeks ago when my mother’s attorney handed me a file of paperwork. Mr. Chandler’s expression was appropriately serious. There might have been a hint of compassion in his rheumy blue eyes but I hadn’t noticed. All I’d wanted was to get out of there. I’d had more than my share of people offering their hollow condolences and well-wishes over the last few days. They no more fooled me than they had my mother.

Damn them. If they cared so much, why hadn’t they been there for her when she’d needed them?

Why hadn’t I?

The latter was easier to answer than the former. I hadn’t been there because she didn’t tell me she was sick. I would have gone AWOL if necessary to get to her in time. Not that it would have been necessary. I hadn’t been active duty in almost seven years. I wasn’t even a member of the Reserves any longer. Much as I’d hated giving it up, it had been the Reserves or my job and I needed my job. It allowed me to not only keep a roof over my head but to help supplement Mom’s expenses as well. I should have realized something was wrong when she quit protesting the money I sent at the beginning of each month. I thought she’d quit because she knew I would keep sending it, whether she wanted me to or not. It was my way of repaying her for all the sacrifices she’d made for me when I was younger.

Damn it, I should have listened to the doubts and asked her straight out what was going on. Now it was too late. She was gone, leaving me with more questions than I had answers, not the least of which was why she wanted me to go “back” to some hole-in-the-wall town in Texas named Mossy Creek. The only problem was I didn’t remember ever being in Mossy Creek. So how could I go back to it?

If that wasn’t enough, who was this Serena Duchamp and what was she supposed to help me?

Instead of Mom telling me she was sick, I’d been blindsided by a call from her minister. I’d listened in disbelief as he told me Mom “was no longer with us.” Yep, that’s exactly how he put it and it took me several moments to realize what he meant. I’m sure he thought I must have been in denial when I asked why he was calling to tell me she’d changed churches. It never occurred to me that she might actually be dead. My mother had always been bigger than life, even if she stood just under five-feet tall. She had been a force of nature. She had to be to survive in Maxon’s Mill, Kansas. Despite having lived there since I was a toddler, Mom had been an outsider. Oh, those living there had no problems coming to her when they needed something, but they never accepted her – or me.

Now they could all rot in Hell as far as I was concerned. To prove it, once old man Chandler filed the probate papers, I packed up my mother’s things, sold what furniture I didn’t want and put everything else into storage in Wichita. I didn’t trust the locals enough to leave it there. Her house was on the market, the attorney taking care of the legalities. And I had no reason to ever return to the town that had never made us feel welcome.

Instead, I was on my way to a town I’d never heard of until opening Mom’s last letter to me, one she’d known wouldn’t be delivered until after her death. But what did it mean?

And why had she never mentioned Mossy Creek or this Serena Duchamp before if they were so important?

One more day

Oh, crap! Now I’m going to have that tune running around in my head all day. It’s not that I don’t like Les Miz, but that’s not what this post is about. Worse, I know what my evil muse is like. She will take a song about the French Revolution and decide I need to write something “worthy” of that people’s revolution. Nope, not on the charts. Not right now, at any rate.

Anyway, tomorrow is the day for Nocturnal Rebellion to be released. I can’t wait. I really hope you guys enjoy it. While this ends one story arc for Mac and company, there will be other stories. Mac’s too loud to just fade away. Besides, I like her and her friends.

Here’s the blurb:

All she wanted was a simple murder case, one uncomplicated by shapeshifters or interfering IAB investigators. What she got instead was much, much more.

Now three cops are dead and Mac’s world will never be the same again. It is up to her to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what justice? That of cops and attorneys and criminal courts or that of the shapeshifters where there would be no record and a quick execution of punishment, whatever that might be?

As she walks that fine line, Mac walks another tightrope as well. Shapeshifter politics are new to her and, as she has learned, more complicated than anything she ever encountered as a cop. One misstep can lead to not only her death but the deaths of those she cares for. Like it or not, she has no choice because she has learned there are other things just as inevitable as death and taxes. Sooner or later, the world will learn that shapeshifters aren’t just things of legend and bad Hollywood movies. If that happens before they are ready, Mac and those like her will learn the hard way what happens when humanity learns monsters are real and living next door.

In the meantime, I’m back to work today. Next up is an entry in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series. I haven’t figured out if this is a short story or novella, mainly because this one ambushed me not long ago with an opening that won’t let go. The main character is Amy Duchamp, Lexie’s best friend and Miss Serena’s granddaughter. We first met Amy in Skeletons in the Closet.

My gut feeling is this will be the next installment in the Skeletons story arc. At least that’s the way it feels right now. Anyway, here’s what hit me and what isn’t letting go:

“I still say you should have named it Bell, Book and Candle.”

I grimaced. We’d had this discussion before. “Absolutely not. No self-respecting witch would ever name her bookstore after that movie!”

The only problem was I was more than a self-respecting witch. I was a self-respecting witch with bills to pay and who liked really nice shoes. Maybe Lexie was right. Not that I’d ever tell her. . . .

Many of the cast of characters — and I do mean characters — from Skeletons in the Closet, Witchfire Burning and Slay Bells Ring will be making appearances. And, yeah, Lexie’s mom still has her undead problem and her mother-in-law problem. I’m not sure if she will ever learn her lesson.

 

Getting back in the swing of things — slowly

After finishing a project, it usually takes me a week or so to catch up on things like sleep, cleaning, etc. That’s been true this time as well. Of course, Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) isn’t quite finished as a project. I still have the print version to finish putting together. But that is something I can do while working on the next project, Nocturnal Rebellion. Better yet, I know that I’m about ready to start back writing Rebellion.

How do I know?

That’s simple. I spent the morning digging through my office, clearing off the desk, cleaning and putting away all the research, etc., that I’d used on Dagger. Now the desk is clean and everything is set for me to sit down and get back to Challenge.

Of course, as I noted in yesterday’s post,I’ve also been hit with the basic plot ideas for the next 3 or 4 titles for the Eerie Side of the Tracks series. Plus, the basic draft for Victory from Ashes is done. Everything looked great when I posted that and I felt sure Myrtle the Muse would let me work according to my schedule.

She still might. . . but. . . .

Last night, Sarah A. Hoyt messaged me. It seems she had been hit with an idea for a cover and it wasn’t something she had planned. She told her muse, it must be one of my books. So she put this together.

I’ll be honest. I love this cover. It absolutely fits for the next novel in the Eerie Side series. Of course, it also means that book is starting to get loud. The fact it can’t be written quite yet doesn’t mean a darn thing to Myrtle the Muse. At least Mac and Company are louder right now than Myrtle and all the rest of it.

Anyway, I’m off to relax after digging out the office. Back later.

On writing and schedules and a bit of promo

One of the biggest questions authors, especially indie authors, have to answer is how often to publish. Some authors will tell you that you need to put out a new title every quarter. Some will tell you every two months and others think every six month. Then there are those who tell you not to rush it. That you need to take as long as needed to write a book.

None of the answers are right and yet all of them are. Yes, I know that is contradictory but it’s also true. Why? Because there is no right answer and it all depends on you, what you can do and what you write.

Trends I have seen in my own writing is that my science fiction and fantasy books tend to sale steadily and without major drop-off in numbers for three months after release. The urban fantasy/paranormal works sell well the first month and then drop off. However, they then go through a slow growth pattern. The romantic suspense is a mix of the two.

If I wrote in only one genre or even if I had only two series going on, that wouldn’t be a problem. However, I write in multiple genres and have four series ongoing right now. Yes, two are about to finish their current story arcs. But one is brand new and the other is halfway done. So I have to figure out the best way to keep the sales up on all of them.

To do that, I’m going to try something new. This month is the start. For the first time in, well, forever, I’ve published two new titles. They are related, sort of, and while one is a full-length novel, the other is a 30k word novella. I’ve included links and blurbs for both below.

My plan is to try to put something new out each month starting next month. Some months that will be a novel. For example, next month, Dagger of Elanna will go up for sale. With the holidays coming up and all the distractions they bring, I’m still hoping to bring Victory from Ashes out in December. However, in case that gets sidetracked, I will bring out another short story in that universe. I’ll also put some of my work on sale for the holidays.

I’ve challenged one other author — so far — to keep me honest with this plan. I’ll see how I do over the next six months, both with managing to get out a title a month and with regard to sales, and will update you then. It will be an interesting experiment.

Better yet, adding a short story or short novella to those months when I don’t have a novel coming out shouldn’t put my schedule behind. Why? Because they don’t take that long to plan or write. A short story is no more words than less than a week’s worth of blogging. I manage to put out a blog in half an hour or so a day. So, instead of staring into my coffee mug that extra half hour each morning, I’ll write on the extra title.

Hopefully, too, this will keep Myrtle the Evil Muse satisfied — or exhausted — enough that she won’t start gifting me with new series ideas.

Now, for the promo. Yesterday, I published Skeletons in the Closet (Eerie Side of the Tracks). It’s the first in a series of what will probably be three novellas. They are set in Mossy Creek, the same setting as Slay Bells Ring and Witchfire Burning.

Lexie Smithson’s family had never been what most folks would call “normal”. They had more than their fair share of oddballs and loners and even crazy cat ladies. Most families in Mossy Creek did, especially if they lived on the “wrong side of the tracks”. But things took a decidedly sharp turn to the left of weird the day Lexie’s sister came home from school, complaining about how Old Serena Duchamp had given her the evil eye. When her mother decided it would be a good thing to confront the town’s resident witch, Lexie knew life would never be the same. How could it when their loved ones began returning to the old homestead the day after their funerals. Lexie knew she should be happy none of her neighbors reported mutilated cattle or corpses with missing brains. But that can be hard to do when your loved ones have passed but not passed on.

As mentioned above, this is the first of a series featuring Lexie, her family – both living and dead, not to mention furry – and their friends.

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?

Slay Bells Ring

Fifteen years ago, Juliana Grissom left Mossy Creek in her rear view mirror. She swore then she would never return for more than a day or two at a time. But even the best laid plans can go awry, something she knew all too well, especially when her family was involved.

Now she’s back and her family expects her to find some way to clear her mother of murder charges. Complicating her life even further is Sam Caldwell, the man she never got over. Now it seems everyone in town is determined to find a way to keep her there, whether she wants to stay or not.

Bodies are dropping. Gossip is flying and Juliana knows time is running out. After all, holidays can be murder in Mossy Creek.

Slay Bells shares the same setting and some of the same characters as the other two and it hints at the magic in town but the magic isn’t as much of an integral part of the story as it is with the other two.

Skeletons in the Closet is live

Skeletons in the Closet (Eerie Side of the Tracks) is now live on Amazon.

Lexie Smithson’s family had never been what most folks would call “normal”. They had more than their fair share of oddballs and loners and even crazy cat ladies. Most families in Mossy Creek did, especially if they lived on the “wrong side of the tracks”. But things took a decidedly sharp turn to the left of weird the day Lexie’s sister came home from school, complaining about how Old Serena Duchamp had given her the evil eye. When her mother decided it would be a good thing to confront the town’s resident witch, Lexie knew life would never be the same. How could it when their loved ones began returning to the old homestead the day after their funerals. Lexie knew she should be happy none of her neighbors reported mutilated cattle or corpses with missing brains. But that can be hard to do when your loved ones have passed but not passed on.

Skeletons in the Closet is a novella set in the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe. It is the first of a series featuring Lexie, her family – both living and dead, not to mention furry – and their friends.

 

The Countdown has Begun

wf3withtagAssuming all goes all right with Amazon, Witchfire Burning will be live tomorrow morning.

***

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?

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