So I’ve got a book coming out at the end of the month.
Yep, seriously: For the first time in five years I’ve managed to finish a book.
I’m sorry it’s not a Werewolves in Love book, but I’m just absurdly, pathetically relieved that I can still do it. I was very worried that I’d never write another one and what really sucks, and makes me think I suck, is I have no idea what the problem’s been. I’ve had ideas. I’ve started stories. I haven’t forgotten how to write a decent sentence. I just…I couldn’t do it.
My friend Erin Nicholas writes contemporary romance, and she’s had a lot of success with her self-published Sapphire Falls series. It’s been so successful Amazon asked if she’d open it up to Kindle Worlds, so that other authors could play in her sandbox, so to speak. And she said she’d be open to someone doing a paranormal.
I figured maybe writing for someone else – i.e., writing with a deadline locked in, so I can’t spend weeks and months overthinking and questioning and stressing and not writing – would help me get back on game.
And it did.
I still overthought and questioned and spent too much time researching stuff that no sane reader would ever stop to think about, and in August, when I had 30,000 words (the minimum required was 20K), I decided I hated it, chucked it all, and started over.
So now I’ve got a new, 40K novella and it’s with an editor – and it should be showing up on Amazon on Oct. 25 (I think). And Erin assures me that readers who don’t do Kindle, or Amazon, will still be able to buy it and read it.
I’m a little bit nervous because many, and maybe most, of Erin’s readers don’t read paranormal romance. I hope they don’t hate it. My best friend, who doesn’t read paranormal, says it’s the best thing I’ve ever written and she wants to read the whole thing. I don’t know if her opinion is correct, but I know I’m happy with what I’ve created. I like the characters and the dynamics and the tone – I was going for light and sexy, and I think I hit it. No angst, lots of laughs. (At least, you’re supposed to laugh. You may not.)
I don’t want to give too much about the plot away, but it’s a girl and a guy, and they both live in the idyllic tiny town of Sapphire Falls, Nebraska, and they’re both very, very different from everyone else in town. She wants to ignore that fact for a little bit longer, while he thinks she needs to be making move on plans. She thinks he treats her like a slightly backward child, he thinks she’s everything.
I’m posting an excerpt. I haven’t gotten edits back yet, so this scene might end up changing.
What makes me most happy is that I enjoyed writing this. At some point it ceased to be a wisdom tooth extraction and turned into fun again. I think maybe I have my mojo back (to the extent I ever had mojo. I think I did?)
I’m ready to get Seth out of his trashy mom’s trashy house. He’s getting a novella with a heroine like I’ve never written before.
Thanks to Tiana Toups, I know what to do with Nick and TJ – they come after Seth – and I’m flipping terrified of writing that story because that’s the one everybody wants. And then I’ll do Michael. I already know who his lady is and it will freak y’all out, if y’all are still around when I finish it.
And I’m still working on the rock star guitarist/country fiddler story because dammit, it’s a good story and it deserves to be finished.
Anyway. Here’s the excerpt. When it’s available, I’ll send you an email and I think I’ll do a contest and give away four or five copies.
Screw that – I’ll give away 10 copies. If you’re still interested in my books, I adore you.
Aiken made a disgusted sound and shoved his fists into the pockets of his leather jacket. “A young woman shouldn’t be walking home alone this late at night.”
“This isn’t San Francisco, it’s Sapphire Falls. When was the last violent crime around here?”
“Doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen tonight.”
“Yes it does.”
They both knew why this town was so peaceful and safe.
For a few blessed moments she was several feet in front of him. Then he caught up in a couple strides because he was six three and she was five four when she stood up extra straight.
She felt like a munchkin next to him, and she resented the hell out of it.
“The way you’re weaving–”
“I am not weav–”
“–The way you’re weaving, you could get run over.”
“I’m on the fucking sidewalk! And there’s no traffic! Look!” She waved her arms. “There’s literally no one on the road!” Aiken didn’t take his eyes off her. “I can even walk in the street, and whoa fuck–”
The very second she stepped into the street, a Ford F150 came roaring out of nowhere like some anachronistic Gentry coach she’d summoned unawares. There was no way a truck could’ve appeared that suddenly. But it had, and the idiot driver was going way too fast.
Aiken threw an arm around her waist and flung her out of the way so hard her back slammed into the brick wall of Anderson’s Hardware. He stood in the street, staring after the Ford.
It took a minute to get her breath back. “Nice reflexes, Sire. I might’ve been Flat Brook if–”
He was on her in the blink of an eye. One moment he was in the street, the next towering over her.
“What in the bloody blue fucking blazes of Finias do you think you’re doing you bloody stupid cailín?”
A rough brogue had suddenly shredded his usual soft English accent. She knew cailín was Irish for girl, but she’d never heard him speak his birth language before.
She couldn’t move while his hands pinned her shoulders to the wall. His deep blue eyes were glowing. It looked spooky as fuck in the moonlight. The rebellious lock of hair that typically swooped across his forehead hung straight down now, accentuating his cut glass cheekbones.
He seemed unhappy with her at the moment.
Oh, Peyton, if you could see him now…you’d run.
She’d risen to her tiptoes without even thinking about it. His face was so close to hers she fancied she could feel the stubble on his jaw line. The scent of elder enveloped them.
“Aiken, let me go.”
“Answer the fucking question. What–”
She kept her voice low and steady. “You’re hurting me.”
He let her go, and for a moment she regretted it. Then she pushed that feeling down so deep she could pretend it didn’t exist and in the same “nice beasty, staaay” voice said, “I thank you for the kindness you’ve done me, Sire, and I acknowledge–”
“Would you please shut up?” He ran a hand through his impossibly luxuriant locks. Some people were convinced he wore a toupee. He didn’t, but she understood the assumption.
“Jesus, woman, I’m not going to enforce a life debt on you. And that’s the wrong fucking protocol, anyway. Saving a life is more than a kindness.”
He was no longer holding her to the wall, but they still stood nose to chest. Her neck was beginning to ache.
“You don’t even know what a life debt involves, do you?”
“Knowing the Gentry, it’s probably something big. Like my life.”
“You would owe me your fealty until and unless you saved my life in turn or I chose to release you.”
“Okay, that sounds awful.”
“I’ll forswear it if you’ll just tell me how you could be so fecking stupid as to walk into the middle of the fecking road. If I hadn’t been here you’d have–”
“If you hadn’t been here I never would’ve stepped off the fucking sidewalk! And why are you here? Why were you waiting for me? Are you stalking me, Sire?”
“Don’t call me Sire!”
“Don’t call me bloody stupid!”
They stared at each other for a moment until, with a hearty internal fuck this noise, she put her hands on his (broad, hard, stop it Brook) chest and he let her push him away. Then she turned once again for home.
Was she really weaving? She wanted to run, to get it over with, so she wouldn’t feel his eyes on her any longer. She didn’t dare run, though, not when she could still feel the buzz of the Karbach. So she forced herself to stroll casually, not looking back.
After the longest half mile of her life, her cozy little house, the last one on this side of the street, came into view. The porch light glowed with the promise of refuge.
Her dogs were barking and scratching inside the house, going crazy because they knew she was out here. She didn’t go in.
Her next door neighbor, Bernadette Cayne, was standing on the corner with a flashlight.
“Mrs. Cayne?” Aiken called from right behind her. The posh accent had returned, his honeyed baritone betraying no hint of his earlier anger. “Is everything all right?”
“She’s looking for the Stupid Fucking Cat,” Brook whispered.
“Hush,” Aiken whispered back.
“No. She can’t hear me. Stop looming.”
“I’m not looming.”
“All you ever fucking do is loom.”
“That doesn’t even make any sense.”
She walked to the corner. “Is everything okay, Bernie?”
“Brook! Hi, honey. Aiken, how are you?”
“I’m fine, Mrs. Cayne. Can we help you with something? Is it the st—um, your cat?”
The old woman sighed. “Yes. I haven’t seen him in three days. I’m sure he’s fine, but…”
“Bernie, that cat has more than nine lives—he’s probably stolen a bunch from other cats,” said Brook. “He’ll come home as soon as he gets tired of hunting his own food.”
“You’re right. I shouldn’t be out in the cold for a bad kitty like him. What about you two? Why are you out and about after dark?”
“I’m walking Brook home from the Come Again,” replied Aiken, and what was she supposed to do? Say “no, he’s just stalking me?” She couldn’t say that, and he knew it.
“Oh! How gentlemanly of you.” Bernie smiled. Brook detected a glimmer in her eye as she regarded the two of them.
A small voice in Brook’s head was screaming, “He’s no gentleman! Help me, Bernie, you’re my only hope!”
Alas. Bernie was no Jedi master.
“Well,” said Aiken. “Now that I’ve seen Brook safely to home, I’ll be on my way. If I see the moggy between here and my place, I’ll deposit him on your porch.”
He lived around the corner, less than a mile away, in a large house overlooking the river.
“Thank you, Aiken. There could be a pint of French onion soup in it for you.”
“That settles it. I’ll find the demon cat. Good night, Mrs. Cayne. Good night, Brook.”
And then Aiken Aillil Atwater de Clare Kavanagh tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and leaned down to kiss her on the cheek. His lips lingered just long enough for his stubble to tickle, his thumb tracing the curve of her ear, his breath caressing her neck. Brief enough, but enough to make her dizzy, afraid to move for fear she’d fall, her knees suggesting this might not be the best time to depend on them, her heart pounding so hard she could hear the blood, her hands shaking in the pockets of her hoodie.
The bastard gave her a little smirk and walked away.
“Well,” said Bernie.
“Huh?” said Brook.
“That was interesting, wasn’t it?”
She couldn’t think of anything to say, because she couldn’t think. So she went home, leaving Bernie beaming on the sidewalk.