Thursday, October 30, 2014

Howloween Hop, Giveaway, and a Special Peek at Wystan (The Heckmasters)

Happy All Hallow's Eve eve!



I'm so glad you could join me for this Paranormal Romance Howloween blog hop with giveaways and a very special look at my newest release Wystan (The Heckmasters).


Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and nothing thrilled me more than having a book release right before it. Wystan (The Heckmasters) is the first book in a paranormal/historical romance series about three half demon brothers in charge of making sure Hell doesn't break loose on earth.

The idea for the heroes actually came from a tombstone at a mall kiosk. It read 'HECKMASTER' and I thought, anyone buried with that tombstone has to be a badass. And the Heckmaster brothers were born.

Here's the blurb for Wystan:
Her search for safety lands her in a totally new kind of danger.
Certain that an ad for a job in a small New Mexico Territory town is the answer to her prayers, Nebraska schoolteacher Rhia Duke packs her sister into a rickety wagon and heads west.

Except when they reach the near-deserted town, she learns the truth. There is no job, no future, and no welcome in the bleak blue eyes of the handsome sheriff. The minute Rhia’s runaway team thunders into town, Wystan Heckmaster feels the change in the air. One of three sons of a demon who dared love a human, he keeps watch over a Pit guarded by seven seals, and slays any Hellbound demon that attempts to free the master imprisoned within.

With a gut full of regret and a forgotten town filled with reformed demons, Wystan is certain of one thing: he can’t be the man Rhia needs. But when the truth behind Rhia’s flight from Nebraska comes to light, Wystan must open his soul—and pray there’s enough love between them to overcome the darkness rising from the Pit.

Well...how about an excerpt?
Wystan rolled his toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other. Damn his hide if Rhia Duke wasn’t strolling along Berner’s streets as though she owned them. Her little sister was nowhere in sight and he hoped she was safe with Beryl. Of course, if Rhia couldn’t get it through her head that this wasn’t a safe town, maybe both of them deserved to get eaten by whatever crawled out of the Pit next.
He followed her at a distance, scowling when she headed for the angel statue. She examined it with interest, touching the stacked stones that formed the dried-up pool around it. Years ago, it had been flush with plant life and dragonflies, a school of minnows, and the occasional frog or turtle. The plants had long since turned to dust and he supposed the minnows had starved for oxygen as the water evaporated. All that remained was the angel, whose face looked more judgmental than omniscient.
Rhia sat in its shadow, lifting a hand to her brow and squinting out at the barren land beyond town. Was she thinking about leaving? The notion left him with a twinge of disappointment. One he shouldn’t feel, because there’d be a hell of a lot less trouble around here without her.
As though she sensed his thoughts, she turned without getting up. She didn’t smile when she spotted him. He picked his way across the street, moving with deliberate slowness, watching her mouth turn down a fraction at a time until he stood before her.
“Don’t you know better than to be out on the street right before sundown?”
“In civilized towns, people greet each other with pleasantries,” she said. “For example, you could say, ‘Lovely evening, isn’t it, Miss Duke?’ and I’d respond with, ‘A bit warm for my taste, Sheriff, but otherwise, a fine evening.’”
He knew where Sylvie got her sass. “Then I’d say something along the lines of, ‘Get your ass home, Rhia.’”
Perfectly shaped eyebrows drew together, creating a set of lines on her forehead. “And perhaps I’d say, ‘Mind your own business, Wystan.’”
A smile started to form on his lips, but he held it in. “As long as you’re in my town, your safety is my business. Can’t figure why you’d sit out here under this ugly thing, anyway.”
“I’m trying to figure out how it works. And why it looks so formidable. Why, you look jolly as Saint Nick compared to this statue.”
He remembered the stone lips curved in a smile, the way it looked as though it was offering its tears as a blessing for the downtrodden and disappointed. How coming here with his mother had been a comfort. He and Eban and Sandra had played in the statue’s shadow many a day while Tell toddled along behind them.
“Instead of toys, I deliver you from nightmares, but I’m serious. Sun’s setting and it’s time for you to move along.”
“Why are you so hateful all the time, Wystan? For the life of me, I can’t figure it out.”
She gazed up at him, the constellation of freckles blending together when she scrunched her nose.
“Because I don’t like to lose. And when people carelessly sit outside after they’ve been told and told to go inside, I see myself losing another one to Astaroth.”
Rhia looked away. “Your parents were the first. Father to Astaroth himself, your mother to the townspeople. And your sister. What happened to her?”
The peppermint flavor of the toothpick had dissolved, leaving a bitter aftertaste in his mouth. He spat the sliver of wood out. “I killed her. Happy?”
Shock melted the concern from her face, but it changed to pity after a few seconds.
“What did the prince of Hell do to her?”
“One of his minions put a parasite imp into her brain. The only way to save Sandra was to kill her.” The effort of saying the words left him weak. He avoided Rhia’s gaze, afraid of the sympathy he’d see in her eyes.
Her hand slid to his knee. The shift in contact made him jerk, but he couldn’t bring himself to pull away.
“It had to be you, didn’t it?”
He nodded. “Eban doesn’t have that kind of strength and Tell was too young then. It wasn’t but a couple of years after our parents. Out of all of us, I always thought she’d be the one who found a way to rid the world of Astaroth for good.”
“I wish I could have met her.” Rhia leaned closer. “You did the right thing. It wouldn’t have been fair to leave an imp inside her head.”
“The right thing?” He glanced at her, his anger building again. “I should have found a way to cure her.”
“What were you supposed to do, leave her tied up somewhere, maybe for years, until you had an answer?”
“Demons can change, Rhia, or haven’t you noticed the ones in this town? I could’ve talked it down, made it see that what it was doing was wrong.”
“Would it have abandoned her?”
“Yes.” No. He had no idea, and from the look on Rhia’s face, he knew she sensed his uncertainty.
“I hope I have the kind of strength you carry if it ever comes down to losing Sylvie that way. Or that she could do it for me.” Rhia drew her hand away. “I’m sorry you’ve lost so much, Wystan, but I hope your ability to love and let go weren’t compromised for good.”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you have magic of your own.” He looked at the ground between his boots.
“What makes you say that?” Her nose scrunched again.
He wished she was plainer, had more fear. He wished he didn’t feel attracted to her. “I haven’t talked about Sandra in a long time.”
“It’s good to get your feelings out. I don’t think she’d like knowing her brother turned into a grumpy old man.”
“Old?” Wystan sat up straighter. “By demon standards, I’m a baby.”
He thought the mention of his parentage might cause her to back away, but she didn’t move, except to smile. It was the sort of smile that made a man forget about vengeance and the losses he’d suffered. The kind that eased long-festering pain.


Now, what about a giveaway?!
From me, your lovely hostess:
I'll be giving away a copy of Wystan (The Heckmasters) and a $5 Amazon gift card. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment and your email address, pretty please.


From the hop organizer Jane Wakely:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And make sure you visit the other authors for more chances to win great prizes!

Happy Halloween, may the goblins and ghoulies pass by your door!

Thanks to Web Weaver for the Halloween clip art

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How a Viking Saved My Writing Life

There's something I've wanted to admit for a while now, but I can never quite find the words I needed to say it. It's hard to admit we have flaws, even though we have plenty.

Sometimes I get really depressed. It feels like a gray abyss that's impossible to break through. Actually, I once read some fan fiction in which a character was depressed and he described his feelings as living in a dark room with no windows and doors and no way out. That's what it's like.

I'm not depressed today (at least, I don't think I am. I wrote this post in advance of what I'm about to share with you, so past me is feeling pretty good about herself). In fact, I've had a superb October, which is great and I hope to carry those good feelings with me to get through November. You know I hate November.

I finished the semi-sekrit project I've been hinting at. It's a historical romance about Vikings. I've never written anything like this and I never imagined I would. I have to remind you, saying 'I will never' is the wrong thing to say and do, because you just might someday actually do what you said you wouldn't. I didn't say I'd never write Viking romance, but I sure never gave it much thought until one day this happened:


I didn't post that to Facebook. I thought about it. I hated myself for typing various forms of the same words. Posting it meant I was admitting to failure (that first tab is a Google search for 'What to Do When You Fail').

I was struggling with a contemporary romance, struggling with Tell, struggling with another historical romance even though I'd finished my Jano book and written my novella for the Cowboy Up set. I was treading water, but I was sinking fast. The sharks were circling and the captain had already lost sight of her ship.

I couldn't find the words I needed to make another novel happen. Around February this year, I started keeping a motivational quote board on Pinterest. I'd been doing it for writing advice and motivation for a while, but this time it was all about reasons you should keep going. It's here if you're interested. I like reading quotes about how I'm stronger than I think I am. I like finding hope in the words others have shared. I kept going back to them and the ones on my writing advice board (which is here), hoping I'd find what I needed to get me back on track. So I'm sharing some of the quotes from my Don't Worry board that moved me along with the story about how why the Viking novel came to be.

I found the quote by Tyler Knott Gregson on Pinterest and it struck home because I love writing. When I'm not doing it, I'm thinking about it, about how to begin a new book or keep the middle flowing or how to write the perfect ending. Sometimes I spend so much time thinking about it, it becomes overwhelming. If I don't write faster, I hate myself. If I don't writer stronger, I'm afraid I'll forget everything I learned. If I don't get it right the first time, then I'm afraid I'll never get to the ending. During August and the beginning of September, I forgot how to swim. All I could do was obsess about what I wasn't doing. I decided I wasn't doing the contemporary romance or the historical romance. I have to finish Tell because I love him deeply and he deserves to have his story told. It's just a matter of when the time feels right.

Shortly after the announcement that almost cancelled my writing career (or the depression that  threatened it anyway), I just opened up a document in Open Office and started writing about this Scottish girl who got abducted by Vikings after they sacked her village. What did I know about Vikings? Um...practically nothing. It took over four hours to write the first chapter. What do I know about most of the things I start writing about? Practically nothing. So a lot of research was involved. I'm still scared that I might be really, really wrong about some things.

I sent it to my critique partner, D'Ann Lindun and told her flat-out, I have no idea what I'm doing, I don't write this stuff. And you know what? She didn't say, Geez, you're right, you don't write this, stop right now! She encouraged me to keep writing it. So I did. And with every word, I felt a little better. With every sentence I felt braver. With every paragraph, I fell in love with writing all over again. With every page, I stopped worrying about what everyone else thought and I wrote for me.

In September, at ORAcon, I pitched it. It wasn't even half finished. I told the editor I was planning it as a novella and I told her I suck at pitching and I read word for word from the index cards I had meticulously written out the night before. Because if a Scottish girl abducted by Vikings could become their queen, I could read from cards. And she liked the pitch. And then I felt like I was really on to something. "You're sure you can get all that into 30,000 words?" she asked. I said yes, because I needed something quick, I needed something to get me jazzed for NaNo in November, it was a fun project and I knew I could do it.

Hmm...imagine my surprise when 25k came around and I had no ending in sight. Better still, when 35k rolled past and...no ending. Then I decided it would probably run into novel-length. Who am I to tell the characters to shut up when they're leading the way? I'm just a pen monkey who's grateful for every word they offer. At least they weren't shutting me out like characters in other books have.

They were making me feel, believe, hunger for the perfect ending. And for the first time in who knows when, something that really mattered to me, something that I believed in came to life on the page. I'm not saying the other things I worked on this year aren't worth the effort that went into them. I love everything I've done this year, but for the first time in a long time, I don't feel like I was fighting my way upstream in a flood. Those are the truly important works. If they're not so important for everyone else, they at least bring the comfort of knowing I worked on something for myself. I'm not broken, just a little bent, but Vikings helped me hammer out the flaw of doubt and worry. Today, I'm happy that I've finished a novel I never imagined writing.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

All the Good Book Things

Whew! What a week. In case you missed it:

Wystan (The Heckmasters) came out on Tuesday.

The Cowboy Up box set hit #1 on Amazon in the US. We'd already reached #1 in the UK and Canada.

And The Convict and the Cattleman and The Wrong Brother's Bride are now in paperback.

You can get any and all of those things by visiting my Book page.

What a rush.

I also hit 40k on my WIP last night. This novella was only supposed to be 30k. The characters just keep talking and talking, so I'm not going to try to curb them. I don't think it's useless prattle, at least all of it currently seems relevant to the story. It will probably take another 10k to wrap up now. I was really, really trying to have it finished before NaNoWriMo, but I'm not certain that's going to happen what with 9 days left before November 1st. Curse of the pantser.

My favorite part of the writing process is how the story unfolds like a movie in my head. Then it's like I suddenly figure out where the movie is going, and in this WIP, it's absolutely devastating. Every time I come up with another plot twist it's like--oh God, I can't believe that's going to happen!

Stay tuned, because I have more Wystan promo coming up. Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, which ends at 12 am October 31st.

UPDATE: I got an email early this morning from last night (10/23) that we hit #1 in Australia too. Bless you, Down Under. I heart you so hard.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Patience-schmatience

I owe you all some ghost hunting photos from Friday night. They're forth-coming, never fear. It was a fun experience and I'll tell you all about it soon. Definitely worth going to.

In other news, I kind of thought I'd be finished with my sooper sekrit project by now. I really meant to have that thing done by end of last week. My plans were foiled by this and that and now I'm still going, frack, it's not done yet? Which is bad, because I asked one of my critique groups if they'd like to critique it next month. Write, fingers, write harder! Also, what with NaNo coming up, gee, it sure would be nice to have that done so I could start afresh on Tell's book.

I may have sort of, kind of brought in a character in the sooper sekrit project who could potentially create a situation that would give life to a second sooper sekrit project. We'll see.

I also sent off Eban edits yesterday. Parts of it were oh, that's easy to fix and parts were like, geez, I'm so dumb, it should hurt to be that stupid. That's pretty much how editing goes for me anyway, so it's nothing new. They weren't particularly painful edits and I'm super grateful for that.

Since I didn't get you any orb-y/ghost-y photos, I did get you one of this monkey. It looks vulgar. You have to excuse my dirty mind. Or maybe you don't.

"Love us. In more ways than one."
Don't forget, tomorrow is release day for Wystan (The Heckmasters)! You can still pre-order it right now and it will be delivered to your e-reading device in the morning! I have a couple of posts scheduled for tomorrow. If you follow along on my FB page, you'll be given links to see them. You know you want to.



Get Wystan at one of these places:  Samhain || Amazon || Barnes & Noble || Google Play|| Kobo || ARe

Friday, October 17, 2014

Getting to Know You - The Bad Guys

Good grief, it's already Friday. Actually, wahoo! It's already Friday!

You should know, I got the first round of edits on Eban (The Heckmasters) this week and, kids, it's going to be brilliant by the time it's done. I promise.

Today, I'm going to introduce you to the bad guys in Wystan (The Heckmasters).

Major players:
Noem - He's ugly, he's mean, he wants everyone and everything in Berner, New Mexico Territory dead. Charged with wiping the Heckmasters off the face of the earth, he once tried to make Swiss cheese out of Wystan before he was driven away. He's back and in a form you might not except. With reasons beyond revenge that totally make sense once you read the book. You can try to kill him, but this sucker just keeps going like a demonic Energizer Bunny.

Here's a little something-something about everyone's favorite territorial demon lord: “Tell wounded Noem, yes. But he has the favor of Astaroth and with it the power to change forms. He’s been residing in Nebraska where he wasn’t likely to incur another taste of Heckmaster steel. Not until he had enough power to face you again.”

Astaroth - The current crowned prince of Hell, Astaroth wants the Heckmasters dead, dead, dead, and deader. They're standing between him and the total domination of the world. He's got his panties in a bunch because their father used the last of his demon superpowers to lock Astaroth inside the Pit, a portal to Hell, which has a transparent, shiny-green bubble of divine fire across it. Only lesser demons can get through. Astaroth is continually testing the boundaries of the divine fire. His best hope for breaking free of it is to turn the Heckmasters toward their true callings as demons. Will he succeed? Let's hope not.

Wys on the crowned prince: "One of these days, Astaroth is going to send something worse. It’s going to take everything we’ve got to hold it back. One of those seals breaks, we’re doomed. Not just us, but the whole damned world."

Lesser demons:
Parasite imps - There's not much description of these ickies in the book, but you should know they're long, white, worm-like, and they will crawl into your head and take over your body so Astaroth will have some minions. If you get parasite imps, congratulations, you're either going to serve Hell or the Heckmasters are going to severe your head. Believe me, you want the latter to happen. Characters who've been turned by parasite imps: Sandra Heckmaster. Her death was not pretty.

Wys is less than thrilled about the idea of anyone having parasite imps, since his sister's death really tore him up. "‘Let’s take in strangers of questionable origin and put them up. Please, come right in. Start a school, make friends with our hellspawn neighbors, infect their young with whatever diseases you’re carrying’—which, for all we know, are parasite imps. We could be infected right now and neither of us would know it!”

Changesteeds - It's like a moose from Hell. With jagged, uneven teeth, sloping shoulders, bulging eyes, and pointed ears. They're adept at mimicking human voices. Don't trust little Susie calling you from the other room. You take that Holy Water with you when you follow her voice, okay? Their jaws are quite powerful and capable of wrenching your arms off your body before they devour you and pick their teeth with your bones. Or that's what they would do, if they had apposable thumbs.

To quote Wystan: "[Changesteeds] will lure you in with a familiar voice or a sound and you’ll be dead before you know it. They’re bigger and they shift forms. Might look like a horse, or deer, but they’re not so innocent."

Barghests - Slower than changesteeds, but they have big claws and teeth. Another name for them is devil dogs. They have matted striped fur and pointed ears. Remember how I said changesteeds would pick their teeth with your bones? With a barghest, there won't be any bones left over. They're sort of the jackals of the demon world.

To which Wystan would say, "Big claws, big teeth, and they always go for the throat."

There you have it, a brief introduction to some of the baddies in the Heckmaster world. Oh, yeah, there are more, lots more, but you can discover them inside the book.

Pre-order it now at any of these fine locations so you'll be ready to meet everyone on October 21st!
Pre-order at: Samhain || Amazon || Barnes & Noble || Google Play|| Kobo || ARe

Don't forget to enter the contest for an ecopy of Wystan (The Heckmasters) and a $10 Amazon giftcard. The deadline for the contest is coming up!

a Rafflecopter giveaway