Here’s an excerpt from the new urban fantasy Shadow Blade, releasing January 26th!
“Kira,” Demoz rose to his feet as they entered. “You do know how to make an entrance.”
“You know what they say, Demoz. If you’re going to do it, do it in style.”
“True, true.” The big man regarded her, his skin black as tires and just as thick. If the Michelin Tire Man had been dipped in tar—and dressed by Armani—Demoz would be his twin. The only traces of color on his plump body were the thin silver stripes in the fabric of his very expensive suit.
“Tell me what’s going on. It’s not like you to be so blatant when you visit. You are obviously on a mission. What information are you looking for today?”
“You already know why I’m here,” she said, keeping a tight lock on her mental shields. It was one thing to allow Demoz to feed off the emotional reaction she caused; it was quite another to let him feed off her directly. If she showed any sort of expressive display, he’d work the gap until it opened wide and the feelings flowed freely—like a blood vampire sending anticoagulants into a vein.
“I can do many things, Kira, but reading the thoughts behind your gorgeous brown eyes isn’t one of them. Our usual meetings happen on Thursdays. What couldn’t wait until then?”
“The same as always. Information.”
Demoz raised an eyebrow, his steel-gray eyes curious, guarded. “What information couldn’t wait until our regular meeting?”
“Someone unleashed a seeker demon tonight.”
“A seeker demon?”
“Yeah.” Kira had noted the slight widening of his eyes before he’d spoken. Of course Demoz knew something. Demoz always knew something. She tried a test. “The Commission lost a handler tonight.”
“How terrible for you,” Demoz clucked, his sympathetic tone completely at odds with the assessing glint of his eyes. “I felt the moment of his passing. A tragedy. Was it someone you knew?”
“This is my territory,” Kira continued, ignoring his question. “A seeker demon killed the handler, but none of the skanks around here are strong enough to manage a seeker demon, are they?”
“Of course not, which makes me wonder if your information is indeed correct.”
“It’s an unimpeachable source,” Kira stated. “Who’s strong enough to control a seeker demon, Demoz?”
“I don’t know.”
“Really?” She didn’t bother to hide her sarcasm. “Are you telling me that when you felt the moment of his passing, you knew he was a male handler but you couldn’t tell it was slain by the hands of a seeker demon? You’re getting sloppy in your old age.”
The vampire’s eyes tightened. “I haven’t reached old age yet.”
“But you certainly want to, right?” It wasn’t a threat, not really.
“Kira, you’re the most pragmatic of the Chasers I’ve known. I have little doubt that you’d dispatch me if my usefulness waned.”
“Not without a reason.” She cocked her head, studying the outwardly complacent vampire. “Is there a reason?”
“Hardly. I enjoy life too much to get on the wrong side of any of my clients.”
Kira noted his hesitation. “But?”
“But.” Demoz sighed. “Something’s going on. I don’t yet know what it is, but all signs point to a heavy hitter coming to town.”
Demoz actually looked over his shoulder, as if her saying the word would call the being out. He nodded.
“What do the Fallen want? Why is one of them here in its Avatar host?”
“They’re tracking something. No one will say what or who it is, but they’ve got grunts all over the place looking for information. All I do know is that your opposition’s nervous and when they get nervous—”
“Bad shit happens.” She suppressed a sigh. “The question is, how bad is bad?”
Just a quick note to say that yes, I am still alive. I just decided to buy a house, finish a book, and complete a major training overhaul in my day job ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
I’m not a Superwoman. The tights really don’t fit me anyway.
But I’ve done a quickie update on the website, pending a major design overhaul. Please check out the fabo cover for SHADOW BLADE on the home pae!g
Lynn Viehl gives a open explanation of her last Darkyn book, Twilight Fall, making the NYT list. It’s worth a read, and the site is probably work bookmarking for a peek into the business of a writer”s life.
Latest news is that the deranking of
all several GLBT/erotic books was a programming glitch. Wow, a programming glitch that writes memos. Methinks said programmer needs to go work for the gov’ment.
From Publisher’s Weekly (crashing on me):
A groundswell of outrage, concern and confusion sprang up over the weekend, largely via Twitter, in response to what authors and others believed was a decision by Amazon to remove adult titles from its sales ranking. On Sunday evening, however, an Amazon spokesperson said that a glitch had occurred in its sales ranking feature that was in the process of being fixed. The spokesperson added that there was no new adult policy.
Glad someone realized over their Easter ham and apple pie that maybe a retailer of books should concentrate on, I don’t know, selling books, and not being the moral arbiter of their customers.
Another reason why Amazon is the 500-pound gorilla you should take care with feeding…
A recent development has Amazon “blacklisting” books with erotic content. They quite simply, no longer show up in search results. Think I’m kidding? Go to Amazon.com and do a search for Kensington Aphrodisia. My search yielded two results, both for writer’s market type books. A search of All Departments with the keyword “homosexual” yielded as its first result “Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would: A Fresh Christian Approach”
For a good idea of what this is about, what it means to authors of adult content, I urge you to read the post over on Dear Author, (and this one) as well as the post made by Mark R Probst. There is even an #amazonfail Twitter list to follow. The LA Times blog has also covered it.
I don’t need television, the government, or a freakin’ retailer to protect me from stuff that might corrupt my mind or send me down a moral slippery slope. As an adult who could drive at 16 and vote and go to war at 18, I should be trusted to manage my own moral compass. I should be able to look at a list of erotic romance, erotica or porn literature of any stripe without my brain imploding or me suddenly.
It’s ironic that we use sex to sell everything, even toothpaste, but we’re so phobic about its practice and forms. Show blood splurting on prime time TV all you want, but two guys kissing? Horrors!
Here’s an excerpt from Rode Hard in the What White Boyz Ride anthology AVAILABLE NOW in eBook and Kindle with the paperback releasing next month. In this teaser, Gina’s gone to visit her grandmothers. Enjoy!
Nana Maria Ortiz strutted up the hallway in her crisp white capris, sandals and screaming red top. “How was the wedding?”
“Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Kat looked radiant.”
“Good.” Nonny led her over to the Tiffany-colored couch and its fantastic view of the bay. “Did you catch the bouquet?”
Right to the point. “I did,” she admitted, dreading their reaction.
Nana O flanked her on the couch, effectively caging her in. No one had thought the two would get along much less live together after their respective husbands died, but the women hit it off fabulously well, traveling, shopping, cooking together. The only problem Gina could see was that their favorite hobby was pestering her about marrying again—or actually for real, since neither had considered Paul that much of a catch.
Nana O made the sign of the cross, then clapped her hands together. “Thank you, Mother Mary, for hearing my prayers.”
“Louisa, don’t scare the girl,” Nonny admonished. “But if you met someone nice at the reception, we’re all ears.”
“I catered the reception, remember? I didn’t have time to meet anyone.” She’d been too busy dodging Pietro’s very drunk and very married younger brother.
“Well how are you going to find a nice young man if you don’t look?” Nonny wondered. “Our David needs a real father, not that sorry, jet-setting excuse of a sperm donor.”
“Don’t mind Hannah,” Nana O said, patting Gina’s hand. “But she’s telling the truth. We’ve talked to some of our friends and think we’ve come up with a list of good men who are much better than Paul. Once you get settled in, we can call—”
“I met someone!”
Did she really say that? Looking from one hopeful face to the other, Gina realized that she actually had. She put her head in her hands. “Oh God.”
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain,” her grandmothers admonished in unison. “Tell us about this someone instead.”
Well, she’d stuck her foot in it. Might as well get into the hoo-hah up to her neck. Better to let them think Matt has potential than to suffer through their attempts at matchmaking. “His name is Matt. Matthew Ryan. I knew him in high school.”
Nonny L sniffed. “Doesn’t sound like he’s Jewish.”
“He’s not,” Gina said, then told them something she’d knew would make them happy. “He owns his own business up in Daytona. He wants me to cater an event for him.”
“Is he a doctor?”
“Is he a lawyer?”
Gina lifted her chin. “He designs custom motorcycles.”
Nonny frowned. “Like Pimp My Ride or American Chopper?”
“Pimp My… what do you know about those shows?”
“Sweetie, I’m retired, not dead.”
Nana leaned closer. “Is he hot?”
Gina shot to her feet. She’d forgotten how dizzying it was to be double-teamed by her grannies. Most of the time she loved it, but it wore her out. “Do you both say stuff just to shock me?”
“It’s a valid question,” Nana said. “He owns a business, that’s good. And designing motorcycles, that means he rides them too. But for you to be interested, he’s got to be hot.”
“You do like them pretty, dear,” Nonny added. “Paul was nice looking, but didn’t have the common sense God gave a palm tree. His only talent is his ability to attract pretty women with money.”
“Which explains why he’s with Janice,” Gina said, not bothering to hide her bitterness. She’d been amicable about the divorce until she’d found out Paul had been seeing Janice while still married.
Nana coughed. “So, this Matthew, he’s not going to crack any mirrors, is he?”
“No, he won’t.” Gina pulled out her phone and showed them Matt’s picture, then told them just about everything she’d discovered about her old friend over the last several days. “He’s a good guy that had some bad stuff happen to him, but it’s all behind him now. He’s completely different from how I knew him in high school. I mean, he’s still funny, still a little geeky, but my God, did he grow up fine.”
Nonny leaned over to Nana O. “She’s got that look in her eye.”
“I know. I’m so glad.”
Gina folded her arms. “Do I even want to know what look you’re talking about?”
Nonny shrugged. “Probably not.”
“That’s the look of someone who’s had really good sex,” Nana explained. “I know that look.”
“So do I.” They both sighed.
Gina felt her mouth open and close several times. “That’s what I get, it’s totally what I get for asking. I really don’t want to think of either of you with my granddads.”
“Who’s talking about your grandfathers? I’m talking about Silas down in 12-A. He’s a bit younger, but he keeps up okay.”
Nonny nudged Nana O. “Louisa, I don’t think the girl wants to hear about our dating lives.”
“Especially not when you’re getting more action than I am,” Gina added. “I think I’m jealous. In fact, I know I am.”
“Then you should invite your Matthew down for the weekend. Show him around Miami. Let us meet him.”
“Don’t even try it, Nana,” Gina warned, wagging her finger at them. “Matt’s coming down so we can go to the reunion together, but I don’t think I want to let him anywhere near the two of you.”
I forgot to mention that I’m sitting in a hotel just off Broadway (literally like half a block) for the PASIC conference. Last night was the cocktail reception, and we had like 90 industry guests to 73 authors. It was very cool. I didn’t have anything I was trying to pitch, so I was able to relax and enjoy myself and just have face time with people I know or wanted to meet. (And inhaling the finger foods the waiters kept bringing around)
And yes, you could really tell who were authors and who were editors/agents. Almost all the NYers were rocking their boots. I wore my purple ones, but no one would mistake my wide load for an editor. Sorry no pictures because the place was packed and I didn’t bring my camera. I know, bad author!
Here’s another sneak peek into The SHARPEST EDGE, coming in the Carnivale Diabolique anthology from Parker Publishing, releasing in print in July! To add to the excitement, one of the three stories is by the very talented Dyanne Davis, known for her sexy and psychotic vampire, Adam Omega.
“The demons that killed your friend and our former Mistress are under the direction of another demon, named Kolliadon. He’s trying to get through. If he can find a weak point, he will come through. With the death of your portal guardian, we can only assume he means to try to break through here.”
“You’re kidding right? This is unbelievable.”
“You see demons. How can you think this is unbelievable?”
That slammed her lips shut. She pried them open again. “You’re saying that Miss Bessie Ann guarded a portal to hell. She was killed because demons wanted to be able to use it, and that’s why there are so many more of them around.”
Delki nodded. “With the death of the Guardian, the locks on the portal have weakened. We’re sure that Kolliadon will try to break through the seals here, sooner rather than later. The fact that you’ve seen so many demons around suggests that the time is short, possibly on or before the longest night.”
The thought of Elberton overrun by demons at the winter solstice almost brought her funnel cake back up for a return engagement. “Okay, so in less than a week, there might be a full-out demon fight in my town. But you guys are here now. You’re going to stop this, right?”
“We can only kill the demons congregating in town,” Anaru explained. “Only a guardian can make sure the doorway remains blocked.”
“But with Miss Bessie Ann gone, who’s going to… wait.” The light bulb clicked on as she noticed their expectant expressions. “No. Oh, hell no. Y’all have been inhaling the helium for way too long.”
I wish I had something scintillating to share, but I don’t. I’ve been writing this novella and this novel forever it seems. I am still keeping their tones distinct, which is the best thing I can say about the process.
Based on advice from author and fellow GRW member Stephanie Bond, I took my synopsis, broke it down into chapters, and translated those chapters into an outline. Each chapter gets a title that describes what happens in that chapter, and a sentence that explains how events drive the plot forward. OH MY GOD, writers, you should totally do this, even if you are a pantser! It’s helped to show where I can drop in world-building, raise the stakes, and avoid the sagging middle (which worries all writers constantly because you spend so much time polishing those first three that you can lose steam. Like one of my fellow GRW authors said, “You get to chapter 4 and go, ‘now what?'”)
Thursday sees me in New York for the PASIC conference, which occurs every other year in NYC. I really enjoy being a member of this chapter. I have to say, if I continue being a member of RWA, this chapter will be why. I also plan to meet my agent for a face to face career plotting thing
I’m not even going to get into whole Race Fail 09 debacle that’s been occuring in the SF/F community since early January. (Though it makes the romance racism discussions seem like pre-school spats in comparison.) Google it or check out this wiki if you want to know more or just want to find a timeline , but it will probably just piss you off or make you despair. Since neither is an emotion I want to feel as I’m finishing my first urban fantasy novel with a black female as the main character, I’m not going to go there.
What it does tell me is there is still plenty of work to do and be done, that there needs to be dialgoue and effort. You can’t just throw your hands up and say it won’t work, I give up. I don’t know if I can contribute anything to the discussions, and there are probably people who think I shouldn’t. Just as people thought I shouldn’t have gotten into the discussions of race in romance. But when I’m at a writers convention, walking down a hotel hallway in business attire with my conference bag on my shoulder and a white woman steps out of her room to ask me for more towels, I tell her I don’t work for the hotel and she doesn’t apologize, I know we still have far to go.
If you’re trying to query editors and agents and want an idea of what they want, you might want to get on Twitter. A group of editors and agents recently did a Query Fail day in which they share (high level) queries that didn’t work for them.
Agent Colleen Lindsay has more info on it on her blog, and you can follow the Twitter aggregate here. Some people didn’t like it, but in this business, it’s not about your feelings, it’s about the writing. Do what you need to do to get your story read. If some of these editors and agents are ones that you’re interested in, it would do you well to know what flips their switch.