• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Welcome to The Swamp

Greetings and Salutations Discerning Readers of the blog,

My sidekick Mischievous Raven said he would join today , but alas, he is either late or not coming. Not unlike his moniker, which he comes by honestly, I’m sure he’s up to no good wherever he is. I thought we’d take a moment and meet some of the other colorful residents of The Swamp. On the right where all the packing boxes are stacked up is the shack of Wicked Dwarf, (whispers conspiratorially) she moves often. I wouldn’t mention it to her though she’s sensitive about her gypsy blood. When she’s not packing or unpacking, she’s chasing down the Prankster Duo, keeping the Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor in check, or writing.

As Jami Gray her Kyn Chronicles will take you behind the curtain where you will discover your sharing the planet with some pretty foreboding creatures. And you thought it was all fairy tales. Shifters, Witches, Fey, and yes, even Demons are walking amongst us. (Even Demons, that’s kind of catchy. But I digress.) Not all of them are good sharers, and that’s where the trouble begins. Within this unsavory group there is an elite squad of Wraiths who police the Kyn community and keep us barely drooling humans safe. When her muse comes calling we generally clear out of the neighborhood. Mischievous is especially frightened of her.

A sudden rustle of wind and a flash of ebony. “Did I hear my name mentioned.”

Ahh, Mischievous, good of you to join us. We’re just doing a little tour.

“Is Her Deadliness here?” He points one quaking wing at Wicked’s door.

No, I don’t think so. Wicked is taking a short break. I’m sure her muse is off sharpening her knives and swords.

“Oh yes, one must keep the tools of the trade sharp, even if that trade is killing things.”

I’m sure you exaggerate.

“I think not, do you remember when she commented on what a lovely black feather boa I would make. Or that time on Troll mountain when she suggested raven stew for dinner.”

She’s probably teasing.

“Uh huh. and the pope wears a spinner beanie. When she teases you about making you less of a man, with that gleam in her eye, while she slides her finger along a shiny blade and then licks blood from the cut, (Mischievous takes a deep breath) Call me. I want to be there.”

Okay I get it. Relax. Say hi to our visitors.

“Hi, have any of you seen a cranky crocodile moping around?” Turning his head 180 degrees he looks back.

What have you done to C.Rock Adile, now?

“Someone had to shut him up. I was at the Slice your own Deli for breakfast and he was going on about how important he is, having worked for the crown and all that. You know what a blowhard he is.”

Yes, but you can’t expect the whole world to be quiet because you were hung over.

“It wasn’t even noon yet. Something had to done, so I slipped a laxative in his Swamp Juice. He suddenly had to go, and go, and go. Hahaha.”

I hope he doesn’t figure out what happened, for your sake.

“He’s always grouching at someone. Speaking of the Deli, today’s dinner special is Toad Tacos.”

We best go then you know how crowded it gets. I guess we’ll continue the tour nest week. Your welcome to join us at the deli for dinner. The Toad Tacos are one of their specialties.

If you’re looking for something to read this summer Check out www.Jami Gray.com

Shadows Edge Cover Shadows Moon CoverShadows Soul Cover

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If you have slogged through all this, may I direct your attention to the SWAMP TALES tab above. Each of the Evil 7 writes a piece of a story picking up where someone else left off.

This weeks quote comes from Jungleland, By Bruce Sringsteen

“And the poets down here
Don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be”

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf AKA Dave Benneman

Where, Oh Where Has All the Love Gone?

love

Was that or was that not an awesome interview with Jennifer Estep? You guys were great to come out and comment. Don’t go too far away, we still have The Bloggers Book Fair and the Paranormal Nights Blog Hop. Not to mention, I have the wickedly exciting Kallypso Masters and Trish McCallan coming to visit towards the end of July, beginning of August.

So this week we’re back to regular programming and I thought I’d touch on a topic I’ve been thinking about forever…how vital is romance to your Paranormal or Urban Fantasy reads?

For those who follow on a regular basis, you know that SHADOW’S MOON, the third title in my Kyn Kronicles, is a finalist in the 2013 RWA (Romance Writers of America) Golden Claddagh Contest for their FF&P category. I’m totally humbled to be nominated with some really, fantastic authors and can’t wait for the winner to be announced on 7/18/13.

Granted, SHADOW’S MOON, can not be confused for anything other than what it is: Paranormal Romance (ParaRom). The main story arc centers around Xander and Warrick’s relationship, and the secondary arc continues with the upheaval in the Kyn world.  Since romance took most of the stage in this one, it got tagged as a ParaRom. Which worked well for getting it into unpublished novel contests.

Yet,  let’s go back to SHADOW’S EDGE, my first book.  Like many newbie writers out there, I had to figure out exactly what my book was before I could even begin the hunt for a publisher or agent.  It was actually fairly simple since the romance in that book was hinted at, but the main thrust (no pun intended) was the unraveling of who was killing off the Kyn and why.  It is straight up Urban Fantasy (UF)

Then I did SHADOW’S SOUL, the second book in the series.  I knew romance would play a bigger role because, let’s face it, Raine and Gavin needed some special alone time.  Yet, this is where I began to run  into problems.  The main story arc is all Urban Fantasy, yet the secondary is the deepening relationship between Raine and Gavin, a relationship that will in turn, impact those around them.  So was it UF or ParaRom?  I ended up straddling that line and sent it out as UF or Paranormal with Romantic Elements.

Let’s be honest, it could have gone either way-UF or ParaRom.   I stuck with my middle of the street label because I knew that the romance was secondary to the main plot.

Was that the only reason?

Umm, no.  Here’s the thing, there are tons of great sources out there for writers in every genre.  However, I’m finding most of the places, contests, blog hops, etc. I ended up joining their main focus is romance.  It has led me to wonder, has romance invaded every genre?

My current WIP is a Paranormal suspense.  Is there romance in it? Yep, but it’s a very secondary part of the story.  The main story centers around my main character discovering exactly who she is and what she is capable of as she tracks down a killer.

Could I do more romance in it and then send it out into the very popular Paranormal Romantic Suspense market? Probably.  I’ve chosen not too.  Not because I’m against writing romances. Heck, they’re one of my favorite genres to read and judging how much romance is attached to every genre, they’re everyone else’s favorites too.  The thing is, I really like having more to my stories than the relationships between the two main characters.  I enjoy creating detailed worlds with various story arcs and subplots.  But trying to find the write support groups, contests, blog hops is difficult.

When your book crosses genre lines, you run the risk of presenting it incorrectly to your audiences.  And sometimes audiences are not forgiving.  They don’t want you to waste their time. How does a writer avoid this?

Answer IMHO, you don’t.  When your story begins to blur genre lines, you have to decide how you want it presented.  Is it an Urban Fantasy with some romantic elements? Is it a Paranormal Romance? Is it Romantic Suspense? Is it Paranormal Suspense with romantic elements?

In this day and age of labels, perhaps we’ve gone too far in trying to label our genres.

Maybe it would be easier if I just keep it to one word?

Fantasy.

#SizzlingHop Excerpt from #SHADOW’SSOUL from @JamiGrayAuthor #Giveaway #ParaRom

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Welcome to the first annual SIZZLING SUMMER BLOG HOP! Check out the great authors taking part and look for the announcement of our grand prize winner by Krystal Shannan at the end of our hop! 

For now, enjoy this sizzling excerpt from Shadow’s Soul, the second book in my Kyn Kronicles.

SHADOW’S SOUL, 2012 Shooting Star Paranormal Romance winner,  by Jami Gray…

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Unable to stop she reached out to gently touch his clenched jaw. Just under the anger in his voice was the one emotion she thought she’d never hear from him, fear. “You have to be one of the most disciplined men I know, Gavin.”

“It may not be enough this time.” His voice was quiet, eerily empty.

She narrowed her eyes. “Bullshit.” The word was a whip. “I don’t believe that. It’s magic, no matter how it was created. You are Kyn. Not only are you Kyn, but you are a Wraith. You have fought worse things and walked away.”

“Yeah but those monsters didn’t live inside me.”

Her short laugh was sharp. “Think about it. As Wraiths we’re the bogeymen to all bad little Kyn. You think that monster came from Lawson’s little drug cocktail?” She leaned forward. “I hate to break it to you, but it was already there. It’s why you’re a Wraith. Don’t you understand? We were picked to be Wraiths because to hunt the monsters, you don’t send out hunters, you send out other monsters.”

The bitterness in her own words rang through the car’s interior. She defiantly held his narrow-eyed stare and folded her arms defensively across her chest as the windows around them began to fog over. Obviously Rio’s little digs about judges and jury had gotten under her skin more than she realized.

“I’m not a teenager,” he said, watching her. “I’m older and have a hell of a lot of practice with shields. You spent months at the mercy of twisted men. I spent a few hours. It was enough to do damage, but I’ve spent the last three months trying to come to terms with what’s been unlocked.

“Some days are easier than others. For the first couple of weeks, it was all I could do to keep sane. If it wasn’t for you and Cassandra, I’m not sure I would have been back.”

She looked away. “I didn’t do anything,” she muttered, fighting back the shame. She had wanted to see him, but her guilt at putting him in Lawson’s line of fire had held her back.

He grabbed her chin. “You survived, and I couldn’t do anything less.”

The intensity of his look had her tongue nervously wetting her lips. His thumb rasped against her lower lip, following the moist trail. The simple caress made her breath catch, and when his head lowered, she met him halfway.

The minute his lips touched hers, heat engulfed her. The whispers of doubt fled under the fire, and she gave in to the inevitable. He made her want things she hadn’t thought she’d ever get. And he made her believe.

His groan as her tongue teased his turned her blood to molten lava. Their rising passion drew her in and sucked her under. Tunneling her fingers through his hair, she reveled in the feel of the silky strands, using them to hold him close so she could plunder the heated depths of his mouth. The seatbelt was a minor inconvenience, holding her back from crawling closer.

His hands were busy as his talented mouth. They stroked over her neck and caressed downward until he could fill his palms with her breasts. Her shirt was a flimsy barrier to his sensual assault. Ripping his mouth away, he flicked his tongue to trace the cord in her throat. Her head fell back, giving him better access. He gently nipped her skin where neck and shoulder met, his stinging bite lost in her rising passion. Those clever fingers forged a fiery trail that left her breasts feeling full and heavy, causing a small whimper of need to escape her. Constrained by the seatbelt, she could do nothing but surrender to his touch.

With a wicked chuckle, he bent down and drew one tight nipple into his mouth, shirt and all. She was lost as her body rocked under his touch. His tongue curled over her, tugging her deeper into his mouth, as his hand plucked and teased her other breast. The feel of being restrained as he teased her was almost more than she could take.

The blast of a car horn shattered her haze of passion. “Gavin,” she breathed, her voice hoarse with need, as awareness of where they were flooded back.

Let me know if you enjoyed this small peek into the intriguing relationship of  Raine McCord and Gavin Durand. Leave your comment for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card! I’ll announce the winner on July 8th!

For more sizzling reads, check out other stunning authors at:

The Romance Troupe!

You Never Really Grow Up…

I ran out of  “orginal” ideas for this week’s blog, so I’m pulling up a post I orginially did earlier this year for Nanny Berry’s GNBStacks Blog.  Please sit back and enjoy!  Don’t foget to swing by Jill Archer’s place on Friday, 9/21/12, to check out my interview with her. If you don’t know (and how could you not?) her debut Urban Fantasy, DARK LIGHT OF DAY was just released so please show some love, I’d hate for her to think I don’t have any friends!

I discovered a very painful and humbling lesson recently…you never really grow up. 

Let’s sketch you a picture of me, so you have a starting point.  I am a mature (okay… over thirty… fine… forty) woman who has labored long and hard to raise two wonderful boys in this crazy world while trying to be the Suzy homemaker partner (minus the cooking part) to her hubby of fifteen years (and that’s no easy feat!) while handling both a job that pays the bills and following that illusive dream of being a writer.  Somewhere in there I also have to lay claim to a walking fur rug, a pair of even more mature than me in-laws, a rowdy critique group known as the 7 Evil Dwarves, a couple of very close friends and, most importantly, my mom.

One of the things I treasure most about my mom is the fact that through the years I’ve had a fellow reader with whom I can spend hours discussing plots, character motivation, description and world building of the books we’ve both read. We’d delve into the worlds of Lisa Jackson, Iris Johansen, Nora Roberts and so many others.  All those romances she had tucked neatly into piles while I was growing up, became my own personal library.  She pretended not to notice when I’d sneak them out to read while I was in high school.  And even when my tastes turned to those stories where magic and mayhem existed side by side, we still found common ground for our discussions.

Now when I was offered my first publishing contract with Black Opal Books for my Urban Fantasy, Shadow’s Edge, she was the first one I called.  I mean, come on… she’s been there from the get go.  From the moment I took over my spot at the dinner table with my electric typewriter, which never moved until I graduated from high school, through the whole artistic college years where I fought not to get a “real” job so as not to dilute my writing dream, to when I wised up about the fact a roof and food might be good things to aspire to, my mom has never once told me I wouldn’t make it.  Instead, she never faltered in her belief of me and my ability to actually get my stories in print. So of course I’m going to call her so I can ramble in this really high pitch voice only my walking fur rug could probably hear, about how “I GOT A CONTRACT!”   Of course, the panicked breathing was probably a dead giveaway of what was happening since I’m not sure she could actually hear the words in-between the squeals.  Regardless, she’s my biggest cheering squad.

The greatest conversation I could ever have occurred shortly after my Urban Fantasy, Shadow’s Edge, came out.  Within days she called me to tell me how this was the first time she actually enjoyed reading an Urban Fantasy story.  I was so thrilled.  My mom loves her romances and her romantic thrillers, so the fact that she had a hard time putting down my book?  Even knowing she’s biased didn’t dampen my joy!

So the months pass, and my second UF, Shadow’s Soul is now off to my gorgeous and highly accomplished editor’s desk (no, seriously, she really is…I’m not sucking up!).   I’m visiting my mom and my magnificent sister and my fabulous nieces, up north.  We’re chatting away about writing and books  and some of my earlier reviews, when suddenly the conversation turns. 

Magnificent sister turns to me and says, “So, since one of the reviewers mentioned there weren’t any sex scenes in your first book, what happens in the second?”  A waggle of eyebrows follows.

Remember the part about me being a “mature” woman? Yeah, well, I can feel my cheeks doing their impression of a sunburn.  “Umm…yeah…there’s a couple of scenes in the second one.”

Magnificent sister with evil twinkle in her eye, “ Reeeaallly?”

I try really hard not to squirm because I am a mature adult talking to other mature adults about something perfectly natural…maybe if I say it enough I’ll actually believe it.   “Yes, really.  So about lunch tomorrow…”

My bid for a subject change whizzes by like a mosquito and is batted away by my sister who’s moving from Magnificent to Tease.  “I’m not so sure I’m going to be able to read these knowing my sister has written them. “

Under the bright eyed visages of both my mom and my sister I scramble for some pithy response.  I come up empty.  Instead I say, “So you can skip the pages.”  I pause and then quickly spit out, “Actually, I’d be thrilled if you and mom would both skip those pages.  I’ll even send you the page numbers if it helps.”

Feminine laughter feels the living room and I get the feeling I’m completely out of luck with this one.  Here’s the thing, when I hit those scenes in Shadow’s Soul, I knew my mom was going to be reading them and I don’t care how old you are, there is something about your mom getting a peek into your lurid side that takes a good twenty plus years off your age.  The hardest part about those sex scenes? Turning off that little voice in my head that kept up a running commentary:  Really? You think that’s a good word choice? Your mom is going to see this, didn’t she raise you better than that?  The little tsking sound a few minutes later—“Really? Good girls don’t even think about that! Are you trying to embarrass your darling mother?”

It took a great deal of very loud music to drown that pesky little voice out, but I managed.  But still, the urge to close your office door, take your phone off the hook and the quick side-glances to make sure your children/spouse/friends aren’t peeking over your shoulder never fade.  Seriously, no matter how old you are, in some things you just never get to grow up!

–Wicked

Who’s Head Are We In?

As a writer, you are made aware that there are a number of rules by which you must write.  Part of me, the one pepetually stuck in my teenage years, wants to thumb my nose at this never ending list of Do’s and Don’ts.  However, I’m a logical, thinking adult…and I still want to thumb my nose at the damn list.  Since writing is a craft you are continually perfecting, I have no doubt that I have broken several of these rules without even thinking about it. 

Yet, until my latest WIP, there is one rule I’ve been very careful of not breaking–keeping a consistent point of view.

If you’ve read (or are planning to read) my first two books, you’ll note that we are always in Raine’s point of view.  Since I’m easily confused, will just label my style as Third Person Limited–basically the story is told from the protagonist’s POV using “he” and “she”.  This has worked quite well for me, until Xander and Warrick decided to show up. 

I’ve tried the First Person POV–everything told from the protagonist’s POV.  This style lures you in with the promise of pulling your readers in closer to your character.  Those snickers you hear as you dive in? That’s the style laughing it’s ass off at you because you have stepped into the quagmire of “I thought…”,  “I moved…”, “I…”,  “I…” and it so hard to drag yourself free.  I have mad respect for all those writers who’ve used First Person POV brillantly.  I’ll even admit to having a partial story in this style.  It’s now sitting in a corner by itself until it learns to behave better.

There is this term–“Head hopping” that most writers hear.  For those not familiar with this term, pick up a book and tell me, how many of the characters are telling the story?  Are there chapter or scene breaks inbetween each character’s scene?  If so, the writer is skating the thin edge of the rules, but doing well.  But say you go from John’s perspective to Mary’s, then to Roman’s all within a page, back to John’s, then to Roman’s, then to Mary’s, all within two pages, that’s called head hopping.  It’s a bit like standing in the center of the room with the characters surrounding you and you spin endlessly trying to follow along.

Now, one of my favorite authors (and no, I’m not sharing the name) likes to head hop, and they have TONS of books out there.  As a reader I’m okay with it, those stories work for me. As a writer, I’ve tried very hard never to head hop.  For me (THIS IS MY OPINION!) I always felt like I was cheating if I had to use multiple perspectives to get the story across to the readers. 

*clears throat* 

Recently, I’ve had to change my mind.  Those who’ve been following along know I’ve struggled to get Shadow’s Moon under way as I searched for the correct POV to do the story from.  Finally, this weekend, it hit–this story is about two very distinct people, therefore the reader needs to hear both of their voices. 

*sigh*

So those rules you hear all the time, take them with a huge salt lick.  Rules are a great way to help you start out in writing, but don’t be afraid of ignoring them and jumping off your creative cliff occassionally. You’ll be surprised what meets you half way down! 

 Wicked

Perfection is so hard to acheive…

The other day our highly intelligent and quite demanding Snarky Dwarf sent me a link to a blog post. 

http://kriswrites.com/2012/06/27/the-business-rusch-perfection/

Here’s the thing, this post was just what I needed to read at this particular moment. With two books out there, and working on a third, I’m starting to recognize that there are a couple of stages in the writing game every writer goes through.  The first one comes after you begin to fall from that high of being published and seeing your first work out there–all alone in the big bad world of readers, where it can be raised up and kicked down faster than lightning.  You try not to get obsessive about the reviews, feedback and those pesky things known as ratings, but those little voices manage to wiggle their way in and tear bits and pieces off of your creativity.  Together those small things gain strength, and so the debilitating question looms on your writing horizon—can I really manage to write another book?

Answer: Hell, yeah you can.  You’re a writer, stop worrying about what’s being said out there.  You’re out there. Readers are reading you. You have to be doing something right. So in a truly horribly NY/Bronx accent “Forget about it!” and write your story.  Take the things you’ve learned with your first book, do them better or fix them in your second.

Once I made it through and got the second book done, it was time to tackle the third.  This was hard because I was leaving behind the familiarity of Raine and Gavin to focus on another character, Xander.  Granted she has some of the same things that makes Raine, well Raine, but she uniquely herself.  It took me longer than expected to get Xander and Warrick’s story off the ground.  Now that I’m about 100 pages in, it’s starting to come together…bit by bit. 

Yet while I’m crafting this story, I’m still getting feedback on Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul.  I know you’ll never please all your readers all of the time, but it is so easy to fall into the downward spiral of  “OMG, I need to change this…” or “Maybe I should do this instead…” Second guessing ourselves is not productive, not even a little bit.

Reading Kris’s post as she discusses when is your book truly done…I so needed to hear her when she said,

“I’m here to tell you this: If you want a career as a writer, ignore your critics.

When the book is finished, when the book is published for heaven’s sake, then it’s done. Irrevocably done. Mistakes and all.”

So now, I make it a point not to obsess over rankings or critiques–readers will either love it or hate it, it’s out there, I’m not changing it.  For now, all I can do as a writer, is take what I’ve learned, and use it for Shadow’s Moon.  And the mistakes I make in that story, I’ll just use those to make the next one even better. 

I’m a writer, but I won’t be much of one if I don’t learn and grow from my screw-ups.  Besides, who knows, maybe one of those screw-ups will turn into a flash of genius!

IT’S COMING…SHADOW’S SOUL…ARRIVING JUNE 23rd!

DRUM ROLL PLEASE!

The official release day for Shadow’s Soul is JUNE 23rd!  The exciting follow-up to Shadow’s Edge by moi, Jami Gray!

Even though I’m out roughing it with the other Evil 7, without electronic interruptions so my Muse can focus, I had to share the exciting news!

So drop everything and go pick it up!

Okay, fine, put it on your to do list if you don’t have time to wait!

Here, I’ll even give you the links!

Black Opal Books

Amazon

But before I do, remember next week we have another visitor: Adriana Ryan! So make sure you pick up any body parts so she doesn’t trip on her way in!

Just so you have an idea of what you’re getting…here’s a teaser (because yes, I’m cruel that way!)…may it whet your appetite for more!

CHAPTER 1

Blood dripped into her eyes. Raine McCord raised a hand to brush it away, smearing the warm wetness across her face. The world shimmered feverishly around her, sunlight glinting off the snow draped forest. She stumbled over a fallen log. Pain screamed through tattered nerve endings and down her right leg before the overload caused it to go limp. Collapsing to her side, she tried to protect her right shoulder, which was singing its own chorus of agonies. With a groan, she used her left hand to push herself up to her knees.

She knelt, head down, eyes closed, trying to breathe through the never-ending dizziness. She had to keep moving. Struggling to lift her heavy head, she forced her eyes open so she could focus on the ground ahead of her. You’re dead if you don’t move, Raine! her mind screamed. Faint whimpers and the sound of ragged breathing filled her ears as she dug her bloodied hands into the wet, cold dirt. Dead leaves and fallen twigs scraped against her tender palms. The chill from the patches of snow still clinging to the forest floor under the white barked trees barely made a dint in the pain.

Inadvertent sounds fell like whispers on the icy air as she pulled her battered body along the ground. Somewhere a branch cracked, jerking her attention behind her. Only drag marks denoted her path, looking as if they’d been made with scarlet paint. Forcing her attention forward, she blinked. Her vision wavered between gray and bright white. She aimed for the large, dark shape looming just out of reach.

Inch by agonizing inch, she made her way forward. The indistinct shape came into focus. It was the remains of a large tree, large enough to hide behind. Reaching the dubious protection, she managed to crawl behind it before her arms and knees gave out, sending her face first into the cold, wet earth. The winter forest was strangely silent. Each slow movement torture, she pulled her knees to her chest and curled into a ball.

Quiet. She had to be quiet. Stuffing her fist against her bruised lips, she muted the soft pain-filled noises coming from her abused throat. The rattling shivers from earlier had been replaced by a bone deep weariness. She might freeze to death, but she couldn’t find the strength to care. Closing her eyes, she let the swirling darkness and cold drag her under.

***

Her dreams included strangely soothing chants and curiously subdued drumming. It was a new experience. Generally, her nightmares involved cages, mad scientists, and monsters. At least the forest motif remained familiar. Rough edges dug into her spine. Trying not to be obvious, Raine reached behind her and found—tree bark? Slitting her eyes open, she was met with a curtain of dark, matted hair. Hazy light filtered through the strands. She rolled over. Her hair slid away to reveal a lattice work of branches above her with leaves dancing in the soft green light. Something was off. Something beside the fact she was lying at the foot of a freaking huge tree. The towering branches swayed hypnotically. There was no wind. How did leaves dance without wind?

Gingerly she sat up, brushing her hair out of her face and snagged her hand on a twig. Pulling the tangled mass forward, she found crushed sticks and leaves snared in the inky strands. Flowing white sleeves fell back from her arms as she pushed the mess back.

White? Flowing? What the hell? She didn’t own a white, flowing anything. Jeans, leather and steel, that’s what she was comfortable in.

The crackling of dried leaves heralded the arrival of a new player. All thoughts of the weird clothing disappeared as she instinctively moved into a crouch, reaching for her weapons. A streak of panic hit when she found nothing.

All she could do was wait. It didn’t take long before a wolf emerged from the shifting shadows. Its amber gaze was strangely calm as it padded forward then sat, like a dog. Not once did its attention waver. No dog she knew had fur blending from white to gray to black. She slowly eased back until the great oak pressed against her spine, not once breaking eye contact with the waiting animal.

Unsure of where she was, she dropped the mental barrier she held for protection between herself and the everyday world. Her senses flared to life. Thanks to her Fey heritage she could feel the presence of the natural magic in the fauna around her, a steady ebb and flow of life. If she really wanted, she could dig a little deeper and paint that energy with a visible palette of colors. A recently discovered talent which had nothing to do with her bloodlines and everything to do with her time spent as a lab rat.

She reached for her magic, only to have it slip through her psychic fingers like mist. Startled, she tried again while the strange wolf continued to watch her. The result was frustratingly the same. “What the hell?” she muttered.

Feeling behind her she dug her physical fingers into the rough edges of the tree bark. That was definitely real. She eyed the wolf, possible options cascading through her mind. Escape or confront?

As if reading her mind, the wolf gave her a canine grin full of very pointed teeth. The taunt was clear.

She snorted. “Yeah right, Mr. Big Bad Wolf. Do I look like I’m wearing a little red hood?” She was surprised at how hoarse her voice was. Only one thing had ever made her throat this raw. Problem was she couldn’t remember anything requiring that much screaming.

“Red would not be your color, Raine,” a female voice mocked. Raine jerked her head up so fast everything did a slow, stomach-churning spin. Once her vision settled, she was able to refocus on her surroundings. Other than the wolf and the tree behind her, everything else was shrouded in shadows and mists.

“You need to come back.” A woman stepped out of the shadows. Moving to stand beside the wolf, she scratched behind one gray ear. The woman was tall, taller than Raine’s own five-foot-five frame by a good couple of inches. Various shades of blonde were drawn into a simple braid. Deep brown eyes sparkled with some inner amusement. “You can’t stay here.”

“I don’t know where here is.”

The blonde tilted her head in a strange bird-like manner. “Here is where you go to heal, to get away from the rest of the world. Think of it as your own personal garden of Eden.”

Raine couldn’t stop the snort of disbelief or the bitter twist of her mouth. “This is the first time my Eden doesn’t look like hell, so I’m not so sure this is all my doing.”

Impatience passed over the strong-boned face. “Regardless, you need to go back now.”

The snappy tone didn’t sit well with Raine. Rising from her crouch, she hid the shakiness of her legs with a sneer. “How am I supposed to get back?”

This place set her teeth on edge and getting out of here was priority number one.

Frustration tightened the woman’s lips. “Don’t you know how to do this?” Her voice was sharp, impatient. “It’s your spirit you’ve trapped here. You have to make the decision to come back to yourself. If you don’t, you’re going to die.” Her braid slid over her shoulder when she crossed her arms. A flash of comprehension passed over her face. “Ah. Perhaps that’s what you want then?”

Raine found her hands clenching into fists at her sides. Her instincts were screaming that danger was barreling toward her. “If this is my Eden, who the hell are you?”

“Tala Whiteriver, and you, Raine McCord, are dying.” Tala’s voice was melodic, yet there was something in the undertones which sent shivers down Raine’s spine.

The woman turned, her voice floating back to Raine. “Follow then, if you have the courage.”

The last was a challenge. Rising to its feet, the wolf stood, its tongue lolling out in obvious canine laughter. Tala’s figure disappeared into the thick surrounding shadows. The wolf began to follow his mistress into the haze.

Not one to ever back down, Raine stepped away from the sheltering tree. As she moved near the gray shifting shadows, the drums and chanting came back. At the edges of the glade, they became insistent, driving. A few more steps and she was in the mist of dark shadows

Missing the Blog Train…

Sincerest apologies! Totally dropped the dagger on the blog post for last week–and honestly, I have no excuse.  Even the fact that the Prankster Duo have revved up their antics, the Hellhound has decided to start experimenting with strange growths near his butt, the Knight in slightly muddy armor has been fending off the dragons single handedly, and me…I don’t think I’ve slowed down since the week prior.

Summer is when the temps rise, so you laze around a body of water (hopefully flying kola free), drink something cold and fruity (maybe a new blush from the Werewolf Monastery), and watch the days pass on by while Swamp Thing’s new and decidedly more colorful garden blooms.  Right?

Wrong.

Summer is when you realize that although every other Swamp resident may get to sleep in, you’re SOL.  Because as soon the sun starts to burn off the miasma of Zombie stench, you should have already:

  • hunted down breakfast for the Hellhound and presented it to him, making sure your presentation is up to Gordon Ramsay levels, because if it’s not you and the entire neighborhood will be forced to listen to his displeasure.
  • made sure Knight’s armor is still slightly muddy, plus make sure he was able to find not only his lunch, but his assorted weaponry before he takes the loyal steed out for his next adventure.
  • confirmed that Eerie’s Zombies did not breach the perimeter security during the night and invite Grandpa and Grandma Wizard to participate as snacks (‘Let’s eat grandma & grandpa!’ takes on a whole new meaning when it’s moaned!).
  • yell at the computer as it slowly decides to find an electronic signal in North Timbuktu so I can do my quick pop in/pop out to all the overwhelming social venues I am now indentured to for the next eternity.
  • straighten up the shack, including but not limited to, putting away the stack of dishes that have re-populated during the evening hours (I so don’t want to know what those dishes are really up to in the wee hours!), push/pull the Prankster Duo from their nesting spots with minimum of cursing, try to find the other boot that disappeared between taking it off and getting up (damn poltergeists!), shoving the detritus that is determined to conquer the entire cabin behind the boys’ doors, and then…
  • discuss, rationally, the pros and cons of sugar coated sugared versus fruit and oats as a nutritional requirement for growing males.

And that’s just the first 30 minutes.  It grows like a snowball of doom after that.

So the fact that I’ve been buried under the avalanche of “responsibilities” has put some serious hurdles into getting Shadow’s Moon some alone time.  I’ve managed to re-write the first couple of chapters three (or is it four?) times now, but think Xander’s finally decided to settle down a bit and share.  Considering the annual trip of the Evil 7 (we’re currently at 8, but unlike Snowhite and the Huntsman, we haven’t decided which one gets to take the arrow yet!), is quickly descending, I CAN NOT WAIT!

Think about it…4 blissful days of no internet (except for research, of course!), no phones (did you know cell phones have off buttons?), no TV (no hardship there, it’s why DVR’s were invented) and no outside responsibilities to pull me away from my fantasy world and the nightmares that inhabit it!  Plus, there is enough food to feed a small garrisson of trolls, witty humor with others who understand the necessity of demonstrating the proper techinques behind breaking necks and can intellecutally debate the merits of various herbal poisons and sharp, pointy weapons.  Ah…nirvana!

Plus, the cherry on top?  Shadow’s Soul is set to hit shelves on JUNE 23rd!

All of this is what will get me through the next week…then I’ll be back and we’ll chat again!

Finding the lost Snark and Lucky Seven Challenge

Well, it’s been a busy week here at the Swamp.  Eerie, Mischevious, the Muses and I decided to track down Snarky’s missing snark.  Eerie, Mischevious and I had to swing by the Swamp Shack and drag out the Muses.  They weren’t too thrilled to be put to work, but I really didn’t have the patience to deal with their complaints.  Plus, they were facing off with Quirky’s bartending Muse regarding their running tab.  Before things could get dicey, I convisicated all the sharp edged weapons, and got the mini crowd into the armored Humvee so we could start our search. Chances were good that Snark had probably started out to welcome Dreamer to the neightborhood and got sidetracked.  She can be a little ditzy in the best of times, but we make allowances.  First up was the Filet Your Own Deli (yep, the name changes weekly!) because the Muses decided they needed to “stock up” for the search.  Seriously? You’d think those two had a hollow leg or three stashed somewhere.  I sent Mischevious ahead to the Swamp Thing’s place, because my Muse was speculating how many feathers would be needed for her new pillow and Mischevious was looking a little gray.

Once Eerie and I had rounded up our remaining charges and set off down the trail, we made quick work of the shops Snark could have gotten lost in–Knaves’ End, Everzombie & Flesh, Cave & Coffin, and Vladimir’s Secret.  No such luck.  Finally, after hours of listening to the Muses gritch about the lack of beverage options, we ended up at the Werewolf Moonastary.  We lost the old white haired dude somewhere in the whites, but over in the reds we found Snark.  Oh yes, she was passed out in front of a bottle littered table.  Seems the reds were a bit much for her plebian palate. Eerie and I dragged her to the Humvee, while my Muse took off with one of the hairy monks.  Mischevious found us at Snarky’s, pouring coffee down the slowly reviving Snark.  Give it a few more days, and she should be up to snuff.  If not, I’m sure Snarky Dwark will whip her into shape. Literally.

As I headed home I passed Dreamer’s lovely place.  She was out adding something colorful to her yard.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her it may not make through the next full moon.  Maybe she’ll get lucky and the moat and C. Adile’s cousins will be able to keep her lawn safe.  If not, the Prankster Duo is having a fun time with the Hellhound playing hide-n-seek-the-pieces with Eerie’s Zombie hordes.  We might be able to keep them hidden for a few more days! Just enough to worm our way into Dreamer’s heart.

So this weekend I’m off, leaving Knight in slightly muddy armor in charge of the Duo as Snarky and I crash the Desert Dreams Writer Conference.  Hopefully we’ll make a few new conquests…umm..friends.

And lastly, this week I was challenged by the mighty UF writer Marie Loughin (aka @mmloughin on Twitter), for the Lucky Seven. For those who aren’t familiar, Lucky Seven is a simple little Twitter game that goes like this:

  • go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  • go to line 7
  • post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are
  • tag 7 other people to do the same

It’s fun, it’s simple, and it can give you a chance to make your fellow writers show off!  So, since I just finished the third and final edits of Shadow’s Soul (out in June 2012), you’re getting a sneak peak of page 77:

Raine laughed, she couldn’t help it. Even Gavin couldn’t stop the twitch of his lips, while Xander lowered her head as if to hide her face. If Tomás thought threatening to sic Mulcahy on them was going to pull them in line, he was bound for disappointment. Mulcahy was the captain of the Wraiths, and if he hadn’t trusted them to do their job, he wouldn’t have sent them down here in the first place.

“Please do, Alpha Chavez,” she said. “Let him know we’ll contact him in the next day or so.” She didn’t need to lower her shields to feel the roil of power coming off the alpha because of her dismissive tone.

And now for the next seven victims!

Liv Rancourt             @LivRancourt

Amber  Kallyn           @AmberKallyn

Joe Alfano                  @Zombie_Joe

Adriana Ryan             @adrianaryansc

Mackenzie Crowne    @MacCrowne

Cynthia Woolf             @CynthiaWoolf

Rachel Firasek             @RachelFirasek

* “Tagged” means that you were called to action or attention via social media avenues such as Twitter or Facebook. So I know I told you about it!

For those following along with my guest posts, this week you’ll find me:

4/22/12            Black Opal’s Some Stories Told should have my post on Pantsing It…Writer Style.

4/24/12            Denise Alicea’s The Pen Muse where you get to follow my first meeting with Raine McCord!

4/25/12            Sarah Merchant’s Work Aday Reads as we go Where The Monsters Live…

–Wicked

The Impending Release…

Okay drag your mind out of the gutter and let mine float by!  Not that kind of release, I’m talking about release dates for books!  Oh yes, I finally got my release date for Shadow’s Soul: Book 2 of the Kyn Kronicles…

JUNE 23rd, 2012

Some nightmares are born of love…

Raine McCord has no problem taking down the monsters of the world, it’s one of the reasons she’s so good at her job.  So playing bodyguard to Cheveyo, head Magi of the Northwest, as he consults with the Southwest Kyn should be an easy assignment. Unfortunately, simple task turns into a nightmare when Cheveyo is kidnapped and Raine is left for dead by one of the Kyn’s most feared beings, a Soul Stealer.

The Stealer’s attack leaves lasting wounds, undermining Raine’s confidence as a warrior and damaging her unruly magic. Her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.  Compelled to face the emotions raging between them, they must embrace not only their stormy relationship but their evolving magic to escape the twisted threads of murder and betrayal to find Cheveyo.

As Raine and Gavin come together and begin to unravel the complex web of secrets and hidden vendettas haunting the Southwest Kyn, they discover unsettling new truths that threaten their very existence.

Plus, our very own Snarky Dwarf has a title coming out on Friday, April 13, 2012.  For those who love their romance with a bit of bite (I know, over used pun but it works!) check out her title:

BLOODSTORM

Cover Art by the amazingly talented Dawné Dominique

When duty forces a shaman to stop a vampire from her revenge, love doesn’t just burn… it bites.

For two hundred years, Niki DeVeraux has been tracking the monster who murdered her family and made her a vampire. She finally catches up to him only to face more than she bargained for in a too-sexy sheriff who makes her remember she’s still a woman. With duties as Keeper of the peace and Sheriff, Shane Spencer must protect humanity and stop the friction between the local Arcaine races before it turns into an all out blood war.

When wolves start turning up dead, the tension between the races grows and suspicion falls on Niki. Shane knows she’s not to blame, and it has nothing to do with the primal urges she stirs within him. Working together, they must stop the hostilities from going over the edge. Trouble is, the desires raging between them might prove more dangerous than the surrounding threats.

So on Friday the 13th (yep, you saw that right!) head over to Amber Kallyn’s Blog and join in on the release party.  She even has some cool giveaways! Hope to see you all there!

Reminder:  Blog stops for this week:

4/9/12              Bri Clark’s Belle of Boise where we explore how I learned plotting from soap operas.

4/14/12            I’m visiting with Lindsay Jones’s at Just Another Book Addict to chat about my family.

If you missed last week’s spots, you can still catch them at:

Mona Karel’s blog   The Rise of the Furry Sidekick

Nanny Berry’s Getting Naughty Between the Stacks         You Never Really Grow Up…

 

–Wicked

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