Saturday, December 31, 2011

Countdown to Netherworld: Drop Dead Sexy; Quote 3

    I looked at my town’s most well-known vampire with trepidation.  I had to admit he didn’t look terribly vampy.  In fact, he looked normal.  His hair was short in an old-fashioned haircut typical of the 1920’s, the decade he’d become a vampire.  Clean-shaven, looking not a day over 30, with sharp, handsome features.  Not rugged and somehow worn like Dan, but elegantly masculine in the way of old-time movie actors like Errol Flynn and Clark Gable.
    Okay, I’ll admit it.  The darn bloodsucker looked as scrumptious as my Marlboro Man.  I couldn’t discern the slightest bit of undead about him.  He inspired visions of naughtiness dancing in my head.

Releasing January 6

Countdown to Netherworld: Drop Dead Sexy; Quote 2

     Oh, this dream was so not turning out, not even with Dan the Marlboro Man holding me tight against his broad chest.  “You’re saying that’s me over there?  That body is mine?”
      Lana pulled a tissue from her pocket and dabbed at her eyes.  To Taylor she whispered, “Dan’s telling her now.  This is not going to be good.”
      Dan’s hand snared my chin, forcing me to look at him.  “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but you’re dead.   The Fulton Falls Ripper got you.”

Netherworld: Drop Dead Sexy Excerpt


Escort Brandilynn Payson is shocked to discover she’s dead.  Even worse, she’s the latest victim of the Fulton Falls Ripper, a vampire serial killer.  Being deceased is no obstacle for fun however, and Brandilynn quickly proves she’s the life of the after-death party.  But her killer is still on her trail, and she learns there are worse things than death to worry about.

RATING: Carnal/Erotica.  Mild BDSM, multiple sexual partners. 
Genre: Paranormal Erotica.


I knew day had dawned when Tristan appeared in the head librarian’s office door.  He stared at me and Dan.  Dan was engrossed in some Walt Whitman poetry that had just appeared on the shelves a few hours ago.  Apparently, the deceased writers and poets only had to wish their works into the places where the literature-starved dead gathered.  Sort of like how the King George Hotel’s chef fed us his memories of delicious cuisine.  The netherworld was magical when you got past the morbid aspects of it.
I wallowed in frustrated enjoyment of a nearly-impossible Sudoku puzzle.  Doing battle with grids of numbers proved a pleasant way to pass the time once Dan and I had exhausted our more wanton urges for awhile.  Now my mind wanted a workout.
I began to see the possibilities for the next several hundred years or so.  Languages I could learn, the books to be read, new knowledge to be gained.  Dan had told me he liked to, excuse the pun, haunt the local college and attend the lectures.  Surely I could put off the boredom that afflicted so many of the earthbound dead for several centuries.
            The movement at the office door filled me with dread.  Somehow I knew it was Tristan before I looked up.  I didn’t want to look at him, not after I’d seen him and Patricia go full predator.  I’m like Lot’s wife though.  I just have to look.
Tristan stared at me, his too-handsome, too-human face worried.  And darn if my heart didn’t go pitter-pat at the sight of him.  It was like he was a set of twins; one all scary and evil, the other a disheveled angel. 
I sighed.  When Tristan wasn’t a vampire, I felt as gooey for him as I did Dan.  Maybe he and I didn’t sing the same tune, but only because his nighttime persona freaked me out.  If not for the bloodsucking side of Tristan, I’d be equally besotted with him as with my Marlboro Man.
I’m a smart enough girl to realize that my interest in Tristan kept me in Dan’s arms though.  If Dan had been my only option for romance, I’d be running for the hills, unable to deal with the terror of putting my trust in one man.  I also realized that this situation was terribly unfair to them both.
Knowing something and being able to change it are two entirely different things. 
I stood, putting my puzzle down.  I noticed how Dan kept his eyes on his book as I walked past the desk on my way to speak with Tristan.  I went into the office, and the vampire closed the door behind me.
Without preamble, Tristan said, “I could kill Augustus for making you watch that.  I know he has his reasons for what he does and they’re usually very good, but that’s not how I wanted you to see me.”
I studied him.  He stared at me with those dark, almost black eyes.  He looked so tormented.  Ashamed.  To see Tristan’s cool confidence stripped away like that startled me.  I had the feeling he didn’t let many people see this unsure side. 
I fought off the urge to throw my arms around him in a comforting hug.  “I guess being a vamp isn’t so great sometimes?”
Tristan considered my question.  I appreciated that he gave my words such weight.  To so many men, I’m just a Barbie doll, all form and no substance.  I’m not slighting them; I put myself in that position.  But I sure enjoy it when I’m taken seriously.
When Tristan answered, most of his calm self-assurance had clicked back in place.  “Being a vampire has its good points.  I’m not going to lie in order to sound nobler than I am, Brandilynn.”
“Honesty makes for nobility,” I offered.  I leaned against the desk behind me, strangely excited to get a more accurate picture of Tristan Keith.
He folded his arms over his chest.  “I like the power that comes from being a vampire.  I like sitting on top of the heap.  I worked for powerful men when I was alive, but I didn’t have the money or social standing to claim that world for myself.”
“You like the challenges being a vampire has opened up for you.”
Tristan nodded.  “I won’t pretend I don’t enjoy taking the risks and maneuvering around the obstacles.  It’s a game I love to play.”
Men.  Whether it’s over women or status, they just have to beat their chests.  My smile for Tristan was pure affection.  “Hey, I worked for those kinds of men in my own way.  Ambition doesn’t put me off.”
He grinned back, the relief evident.  “Good because I enjoy your company.”  He glanced over his shoulder at the closed door behind him.  “You care about Dan.  I can tell.”
 A pang of guilt went through me.  But I’d been up front with Dan.  He knew what the score was.  Still, I felt the urge to remain true to him in words at least.  “Dan’s wonderful.  He means a lot to me.”
Tristan’s eyes were as sharp as a hawk’s.  The eyes of a man who takes whatever he fancies.  “What about me?  I’m someone who easily gives up what I want.  I’ve never desired a woman as much as I desire you, Brandilynn.”
Even making myself imagine Tristan swinging from a vine with a wild Tarzan yell couldn’t keep me from shivering at his dark, possessive stare.  I tried to remember him as he’d been when feeding on his little blood bank the night before.  Nope, that didn’t cool my jets either.
I was so screwed.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Countdown to Netherworld: Drop Dead Sexy; Quote 1


Dan’s arms closed around me.  I moved nearer, snuggling tight against his very nice body.   His groin pressed hard against me, letting me know of his intense interest.   My arms circled his neck, and I nibbled on his chin.  His face inclined to mine, and he took my mouth with his.  Dan didn’t commit the sin of a tentative embrace.  He gave me one of those good, strong kisses I prefer, like it was his right to claim what he wished from me.
Coming January 6

First Five Friday - Alien Interludes: A Family Affair (WIP)

      The lovers met in secret every day in her quarters.  Of course the Royal Guards knew he visited her, and how often, but the protective warriors were picked as much for their discretion as their fighting prowess.  And after so many years, most were loyal to him more than any other member of the Imperial family.
     The man and woman kept their affair secret for reasons of their own. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Netherworld III: Once Bitten, Twice Dead

Yes, believe it or not, the third of the Netherworld series is being outlined already.  The first (Drop Dead Sexy) comes January 6, and the second (Blood Potion No. 9) is in its final editing stage.  It was time to trot out the gang once again.  It's funny to me to be working on the third installment when no one outside of my proofreaders have even seen the first yet!

An unseen menace is threatening everyone in Fulton Falls in this book, human and para beings alike.  As if Brandilynn's life isn't complicated enough, Tristan and Dan are fighting over her and werewolf Levi continues to vie for her affections as well.  Brandilynn knows she must make a decision when it comes to the men in her life, but what's a girl to do when she's in love with more than one?  Ghost, vampire, or shifter ... who will Brandilynn choose if any of them survive this latest threat?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday - Details, Details


Making your story come to life is a matter of zooming in for close-ups of the little things.  Minute details can go a long way to spicing up a setting or making a character stand out.  The smallest elements loom large when it comes to making your book memorable.

Setting

When it comes to the room a scene takes place in, what makes it stand out?  Say your characters are enjoying a spontaneous romp in a suburban middle-class living room.   What do you furnish it with to paint a picture for your readers?

Think about the furniture that decorates your space.  A tan couch and blue recliner do little to tell us about the tastes of their owners.  Are we looking at grand antiques?  Lovingly restored shabby chic pieces?  Sleek-lined contemporary?  And don’t forget accessories like dead plants, framed circus posters, cheap tourist knick-knacks; pieces that stand out and give us information.

Look at this passage from Alien Conquest in which the chapel’s main focal point differentiates it from what you might think of when you visualize a church:

            Cassidy entered the chapel.  Her grandfather sat on the bench closest to the altar, his bald head gleaming in the soft colors of the stained light glass and altar candles.  She hurried forward.
            She knelt before the altar and the mammoth symbol of her religion that hovered behind it.  “The emblem of great religious perversion” one illicit book in her collection claimed.  “The North American bloc’s final insult to the world it has consumed.”
            At the center of the icon was a six-pointed star representing the former Jewish faith.  Radiating from it were four bars, the cross of Christianity.  Topping the brushed gold figure was a crescent moon with a five-pointed star perched on its lower tip for Islam.

Characters

It’s not enough that your character has curly blond hair, stands about five and a half feet tall, and wears jeans.  You need details that make this person stand out, especially if it’s a minor character that resembles two or three other characters.  I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read in which a character pops in and out of the story, but I can’t remember who they are.  You need something memorable that will jog the reader’s memory.  Raw bitten nails, chipped black nail polish, a birthmark, scars, a nose hooked like a bald eagle’s beak ... something.

Also take a look at the clothing for a specific style, jewelry, and cologne.  Maybe the character carries a ballpoint pen that leaks ink all over him.  And what does he carry in his pockets?  Change, his dead girlfriend’s picture, ribbed condoms?  

How does your character move?  A shambling limp is distinctive as is someone with ramrod straight posture who takes great strides.   Maybe he shuffles along hunched over as if the weight of the world has been placed upon his shoulders.  

Another useful detail can be nervous habits.  Does the lady in the corner play with her rings or twirl her hair around a finger?  All it takes is one little element to stand out in the reader’s mind to make them take notice of a character.

Take a look at this description of Naya, the heroine from the WIP The Font.  See if this description from the hero’s point of view gives you a mental picture of her, one you will remember throughout the story:

            Taken piece by piece, she was not a beauty.  Her pale blond hair, reaching to her waist, was too flyaway and untamed.  Her eyes, as green as the ubiquitous pine needles of Georgia, were too large, too round to balance her tiny chin.  Her nose was long and straight, and her lips, while well-formed, were thin slashes of pink.  Her body was so willowy as to make her appear taller than she actually was, especially in the sweeping gown she wore tonight, its green skirt that matched her eyes reaching the marble floor.  There was an aloof restraint in her demeanor that suggested she was above the pettiness of the world around her, but gazing at her for only a few seconds told the observer this regal bearing was but a mask she wore.  Beneath it, there was a nervous fluttering of fingers, a jerkiness of the darting eyes that took in everything, and a tension in her stance that spoke of a willingness to take flight.  She was at her heart a wild thing, as untamed as the floating froth of hair that moved with its own life around her torso.
            In parts, Naya was not even pretty.  But put together, she was striking, a pale will o’ the wisp that pleased the eye even as it confounded it.  That such a dainty ethereal being gave Heriolf his power over all other vampires made her even more compelling.


Backgrounds

When the action takes place in the great outdoors, think distinctive.  Think about it:  the Great Smoky Mountains look quite different from the Rockies.  The pink sand seashore and blue waters of Eleuthera in the Bahamas is little like the blond beaches and green ocean off North Carolina’s Emerald Isle.

What is the weather doing during this scene?  What sounds and sights are going on?  On a playground there might be a child at the top of the slide too frightened to come down without coaxing.  When I think of Atlantic City in New Jersey I’m reminded of the panhandlers on the boardwalk, especially the one who played a kazoo for money.  Here in southeast Georgia, there’s always a turkey buzzard flying overhead looking for roadkill and porpoises' round silvery backs rolling through the shrimp boats’ wakes. 

I wanted a background that reflected the stiff, unnatural lives of the nuns in Alien Conquest, so I when I created their colony/convent, I went with the vision of manufactured geometric shapes to create a landscape on the moon of Europa:

            Degorsk peered around the depressing compound, wondering why anyone would choose to live in such surroundings.  Suspended lights kept the compound from succumbing to the total darkness of this side of Europa.  They emitted little illumination, but for sensitive Kalquorian eyes, it was more than enough to see by.
            Besides the low rectangular building with the pointed spire shooting towards the star-strewn sky, two rows of squat box-shelters each sat in the center of a square of trimmed green grass.  Straight walkways led from building to building, with a main thoroughfare between the double strings of structures.  Like most Kalquorians, Degorsk preferred the natural state of vegetation growing wild, even on terraformed colonies.  This collection of squares, rectangles and straight lines appeared aberrant to his eyes.  He felt if he spent too long looking at it, he’d go crazy.


The Detail that is More than Window Dressing

 While you’re looking for a key detail to set apart a scene, keep in mind that there are certain objects that cannot be used simply to dress up your background.  Weapons such as guns, knives, swords, and the like are never mere elements to give a vibe.  I can’t remember who uttered this memorable quote, but it’s a guide I live by:  “If there’s a gun in the room, at some point in the story it had better go off.”  

Think about in the movie Aliens when Ripley shows off how she can operate the exoskeleton loader to the hardened Marines.  Later, she uses it to battle the big mama alien.   In the Star Trek:  The Next Generation series, if Worf was handling a batliff at the beginning of the show, you knew he’d be doing battle with it by the end.  

Remember in Alien Rule when Jessica’s clan is touring her around their home and they come to Bevau’s private room?

            “This is my room,” Bevau announced, the door to yet another chamber opening.  Jessica stepped in, marveling at the array of weaponry displayed on the walls.  Everything from crude stone knives to the latest technology of crowd-control guns had its place.  It was a personal armory fit to make any battalion commander jealous.

That's right, a room full of weapons.  Something was coming off those walls to threaten someone at some point:

Pwaldur pulled a long, wicked blade from his belt, and Clajak recognized it from Bevau’s collection, one he himself had given to his Nobek as a clanning present.  The vicious curved knife was serrated in such a way that it would slide easily into a victim and shred the flesh to ribbons on the way back out.  

Weapons don’t show unless they’re going to blow (or shoot or stab).  That’s the rule.

Otherwise, the sky is the limit.  Enjoy bringing out those little aspects to create the right mood or characterization to your story.  It can make all the difference between an okay story and a memorable one.