Monday, February 16, 2015

Release Date: A World Apart (Shades Below, #1)

Buckle your butts, people! A World Apart now has an *official* release date!

A few links to whet your appetite...

Add A World Apart to your TBR list (and make my day)!

Listen to A World Apart's playlist for FREE on Spotify!

Meet The Characters
Get the stats on the cast of A World Apart and the Shades Below series!

Cover Reveal
Check out A World Apart's bitchin' cover, then hop on the blog train and read excerpts up through Chapter 2!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Poetry: The Inheritance

"Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes." ~Joseph Roux

The Inheritance
D.H. Lawrence

SINCE you did depart
Out of my reach, my darling,
Into the hidden,
I see each shadow start
With recognition, and I
Am wonder-ridden.

I am dazed with the farewell,
But I scarcely feel your loss.
You left me a gift
Of tongues, so the shadows tell
Me things, and silences toss
Me their drift.

You sent me a cloven fire
Out of death, and it burns in the draught
Of the breathing hosts,
Kindles the darkening pyre
For the sorrowful, till strange brands waft
Like candid ghosts.

Form after form, in the streets
Waves like a ghost along,
Kindled to me;
The star above the house-top greets
Me every eve with a long
Song fierily.

All day long, the town
Glimmers with subtle ghosts
Going up and down
In a common, prison-like dress;
But their daunted looking flickers
To me, and I answer, Yes!

So I am not lonely nor sad
Although bereaved of you,
My little love.
I move among a kinsfolk clad
With words, but the dream shows through
As they move.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cover Reveal: A World Apart (Shades Below, #1)

It's that moment you've all been waiting for!

Okay, maybe not. But I'VE been excited for this moment ever since my lovely and talented friend and cover artist sent me her newest creation.

If you're a writer, there are all kinds of questions you face when starting a new series. Questions about characters, questions about theme and plot and story arcs. If you're a self-publishing writer, you have even more questions.

To blog tour or not to blog tour?

Pay for publicity, or try to drum up buzz on your own?

Perhaps most importantly, the cover. What is your cover going to say, not just about the book it's gracing, but about the rest of the series? The first cover in a series is arguably the most important one. It's the first face people see. It's what sells your anchor book long before readers (hopefully) fall in love with it.

A World Apart--and by extension, the Shades Below series--now has a face. And might I just say, I think it's a pretty bitchin' one.

But enough talk.

"There are things that go bump in the night, Mr. MacMillian.  It's my job to bump back."

Private investigator Jesper MacMillian was sure he'd seen it all.  After all, in a city like San Francisco, strange is what's for breakfast.  Following a long  recovery after a horrific accident, his life is finally the way he wants it- or at least, close enough.  The only monsters on his radar are the ones that keep him awake at night.

All that changes the day he meets Lena Alan.

Before MacMillian has a chance to brace for impact, Lena drags him into a world where monsters aren't just real, they're hiding in plain sight.  Suddenly, everything he knows is suspect, starting with his current case.  For Lena, a medium since childhood, it's just another day at the office.

For MacMillian, it's the beginning of the end of everything he thinks he knows.



It was cold in the small concrete chamber.

A draft whistled through the tunnels, carrying with it the smell of liquid garbage and roast meat.  Duck, if he wasn't mistaken.  The man drew a deep, cleansing breath.  Minutes earlier, the only thing he'd been able to smell was fear.  All he'd been able to hear were screams.

Not anymore.

Now, the slight, dirty figure on the table before him was still and silent.  Now, if he listened closely, he could hear the sounds of traffic, the buzz of the street car lines embedded in the concrete overhead.

The young man's pleas still grated in his ears.  Poor fellow.  He'd tried to end it quickly, but there were certain things required for the ritual, things necessarily obtained while blood still pumped through his unwitting assistant's veins.  He pressed a hand to the man's pale forehead and reminded himself --not for the first time-- why he was doing this.

He glanced at the other table in the far corner of the chamber.  The figure that lay on it was covered with a shroud, but he could picture the face as clearly as if it were his own.  In a way, it almost was.
It would all be worth it in the end.  For the sake of his soul, it had to be.

He moved quickly.  The young man's chest was already laid open, the smooth, white ribs carefully cracked and pried apart.  The entire cavity was brimming with blood.  Its coppery stench hung heavy in the air, like some rare and forbidden perfume.

The rest of the ingredients waited in stinking repose on the cart beside the table: magical elixirs distilled under the full moon.  Marrow.  Stones.  Various entrails of various profane animals.  The ashes of a bird, so long extinct its very existence had passed into the realm of myth.

He'd poured his life's savings into obtaining it all, but after countless failed attempts, his supplies were dwindling.  He glanced at the other table again, and his chest tightened.

He couldn't fail again.  He wouldn't fail again.

The incantation was so familiar now he could recite it by rote.  The ancient words twisted and flowed over his tongue.  As he spoke, he began to move.  All great spells started with movement; he knew that now.  He knew many things now, many more than when he'd begun.  Movement was meditation, a journey into oblivion, a way to connect with the divine.

And so he moved.  He flailed his arms and stomped his feet and whirled around in a circle, again and again and again.  His rational brain started to recede.  Foam flecked the corners of his mouth.  He slipped further and further into the frenzied zen he'd come to know so well.

He was still reciting the incantation, screaming it now.  Just before he lost himself completely, he shrieked out the final, blasphemous word.  The energy abruptly sapped from his muscles.  He collapsed to the ground.  Waited.


He curled his fingers into the cold floor.  The sound that rose from his throat was hardly human.  Of course, after everything he'd done, he was fairly sure he'd sacrificed his humanity long ago.  What was he doing wrong?  He had followed the spell to the letter, every time.  And every time, he had failed.

He sighed, and hauled himself to his feet.  His bones creaked, and he had fresh bruises on his knees.  Failure wasn't enough; now he would be reminded of it for days to come.  He dusted off his trousers and cinched his tie closer to his throat.

At least he still had options.  He reached under the table, retrieved the pocketknife and the blank strip of leather he already had waiting.  Then he gritted his teeth, and drew the sharp edge of the blade across his palm.  Blood sprang to the surface.

He smoothed the leather flat on the table, dipped one finger into the wound, and started to write.


Release Date: March 21, 2015!

This is a blog train, and there are more excerpts to read!
I have some awesome friends I'd like you to meet! Each of these fabulous bloggers has volunteered to host a different excerpt from A World Apart on their blog. Stop by, give them some love, and read what happens next!

1st Stop: L.J.K. Oliva Books <<You Are Here
7th Stop: The DarkerSide
8th Stop: Write Bitches

Hit all the stops to read A World Apart up through Chapter 2!


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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wake Me Up In San Francisco...

"One day if I go to heaven...I’ll look around and say “It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco”. 
-Herb Caen

You ever get the feeling some places are just, well, magic?

Chicago in the summertime, when all the glorious concrete cracks are showing and nobody cares.

New Orleans in late afternoon, when it's so hot the only sane thing to do is have another drink.

New York past midnight, when one minute you're walking down a dark and deserted alley, and the next you're in the 24-Hour Technicolor Oz that is Times Square.

San Francisco... anytime.

I don't know those other cities. I've drifted through them, a traveler at best, a tourist at worst. One of the first things you're told as a writer is to write what you know.

I know San Francisco.

I didn't always. Just a few years ago, I actually thought going to "The City" was a pain. I don't live there. The drive in was okay until about King Street. After that... chaos. Traffic, jaywalkers, one-way streets, hills of Everestian proportions- it's a miracle I survived those early trips. It's even more of a miracle I kept going back.

But go back I did, and little by little, the place grew on me. I learned how to slip in unnoticed, which streets made a modicum of sense, how to parallel-park at a ninety-degree angle (okay, not really- that one still scares the piss out of me. Insider tip: curb your wheels). I found some great places to eat, and made a few friends.

Magic can be quiet at first.

Every city has its ghosts, but San Francisco's are so close to the surface you almost feel like you could sit down with them and have coffee--an organic, fair-trade, artisanal roast, of course. History isn't just history there. San Francisco is a city of layers. Literally.

During recent excavations for a new downtown subway system, trash heaps were discovered dating back to the area's first Ohlone settlements. Symbols marking the long-defunct electric and telegraph lines can still be found on Market Street. A few blocks down, a Dogpatch park festers quietly as a monument to the bygone days of punk. Head the opposite direction to Chinatown and take a pleasant stroll down Ross Alley, once the most infamous street on the Barbary Coast.


There are monsters, too. It's not difficult to picture The Haight as a witch's stomping ground, not a stretch to imagine vampires stalking Marina co-eds as they stumble home after last call. A boat trip out to the Farallon Islands might reveal a wayward mermaid fighting for its life amid the sharks.

Most of San Francisco's monsters tend to be of the human variety, however. Certain names still echo through the ether: Milk. Capone. Jim Jones had a congregation on Fillmore. The Zodiac Killer still sends chills down the spines of those who remember.

San Francisco is good at forgetting.

I'm still a stranger in this town. I don't have the same perspective, the same love-hate relationship with it that locals do. I'll never have a neighborhood market within walking distance of my apartment. Muni routes are a mystery to me. I don't have to pay a cool $3k a month to live in a broom closet because of those GODDAMN TECH YUPPIES AND THEIR FUCKING GOOGLE HOUSING SUBSIDIES.

I'm an outsider, a fact I'm constantly, almost painfully, aware of.

But while I'm not a local, I'm not quite a tourist, either. I've done "the knowledge." I know how to get from the freeway to the waterfront, and from there how to get to North Beach. And once I get to North Beach, I have this great little Italian place where the staff actually know me and my husband. Every time we visit, they exclaim over how big our son is getting.

Next door to that little restaurant is an empty lot. Its original inhabitant was a small Orthodox cathedral, destroyed in the 1906 Quake/Fire. For years afterward it was the site of a vaudeville theater. Now it houses an extraction shaft for the subway project I mentioned earlier.

Said shaft may or may not have a ghost problem.

Not quite a local. Not quite a tourist. Now when I go to San Francisco, I go as a writer.

Like I said. Magic.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday Poetry: Wraith

"Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes." ~Joseph Roux

 Edna St. Vincent Millay

"THIN Rain, whom are you haunting,
That you haunt my door?"
--Surely it is not I she's wanting;
Someone living here before--
"Nobody's in the houe but me:
You may come in if you like and see."

Thin as thread, with exquisite fingers--
Have you seen her, any of you?
Grey shawl, and leaning on the wind,
And the garden showing through?

Glimmering eyes--and silent, mostly,
Sort of a whisper, sort of a purr,
Asking something, asking it over,
If you get a sound from her.--

Ever see her, any of you?
Strangest thing I've ever known--
Every night since I moved in,
And I came to be alone.

"Thin Rain, hush with your knocking!
You may not come in!
This is I that you hear rocking;
Nobody's with me, nor has been!"

Curious, how she tried the window--
Odd, the way she tries the door--
Wonder just what sort of people
Could have had this house before ...