Sneak Peek of Fur & Feathers

Angels of SojournAs some of you know, I’m trying NaNoWriMo again this year. I know I won’t be able to hit the 50,000 word goal, but if I write half of that, I’ll be happy!

To celebrate writing my first 3 chapters of Fur & Feathers: Angels of Sojourn Book 2, I’m being brave and sharing my completely unedited, un-beta-read first chapter of my first draft.

Blurb:

Katrina Hartley is determined to protect her five-year-old werewolf son, but when the boy’s accused of a gruesome attack during the recent full moon, Katrina must clear her son’s name…only she’s not sure where the child was during the full moon. When one clue after another points towards her son, she never expected the help of a fallen angel.

After recently falling, angel Simon Parker searches for his long-lost family and his place in the human world, all the while trying to forget about the woman he loved for nearly 100 years. When a desperate mother crosses his path, he can’t help but wanting to feel useful again…even if she doesn’t want his help.


Chapter 1

 

SIMON

The moonlight filtered through the pine boughs and cast long shadows across the front of the old fieldstone home. Tucked a few steps into the neighboring forest, Simon leaned against an oak tree watching for a sign someone was home.

After two weeks of waiting, his stomach still danced in anticipation for meeting his family…again.

He pushed himself tighter to the tree, enjoying the uncomfortable sensation of the bumps digging into his back. Since falling from Sojourn six months ago, he hadn’t got used to his heightened sense of touch, especially in a spot that had held wings for over two hundred years.

The other thing he hadn’t gotten used to was not having a purpose in life. He’d always taken pride in his position as head angel advisor, but now, he was nothing but a washed-up angel in love with a woman he could never have.

And he wasn’t even waiting in front of that woman’s home. In fact, he was on the other side of the country, in Maine, avoiding her, waiting outside his old family estate and attempting to relish in the memories from when he was human…the first time.

If you call the limbo he was in being human.

Every night for the past two weeks he had been coming here under the cover of the pines and oaks, trying to get up enough courage to knock on the door. To announce that he was their long, dead great, great grandfather. His family had to still live here, as the mailbox at the end of the windy driveway still said “Parker.” A couple with mostly gray hair lived in the home now. Simon tried to find the resemblance to his wife, or perhaps himself, but failed. How would these people take his news?

When a shadow drifted in front of a window, towards a large mahogany door, Simon jerked forward.

Perhaps now was the time.

This whole dream was ridiculous. They wouldn’t know him, and how would he explain? Would he reveal his hidden wings then make them pull out some old war photos and show them the resemblance? Would they even believe him? Humans were always so skeptical – always looking for the trick.

Could he ever make up for what he lost so many years ago?

Do it. You have to. Why else are you on earth?

Taking a deep breath, he stood tall and took a step towards the small home.

From beside him, a snap came from the woods, halting his progress. He flicked his head in that direction.

When the snapping of branches and feet thumping against the dirt grew louder, Simon stepped out of the moonlight and returned to the shadow of the oak.

On a small, worn trail emerged a sprinting pup. Its front and back legs were moving fast and when the pup turned a corner toward Simon, it’s legs flew out from underneath it, sending it tumbling on its side.

“Whatcha doing?” Simon whispered, squatting down to help the pup over.

The pup flipped to its feet without assistance, and when it flicked it’s head up, the its yellow-green eyes widened at the sight of Simon. It darted around again, brushing a pine bow out of the way as it turned back into the woods down a different path.

Out from the pup’s trail came a gentle rustling of branches and shuffling of fine gravel. Simon stood and tilted his chin. Another dog?

A light shadow moved from behind the trees and before Simon could process what was happening, a beautiful, white wolf leapt into the clearing, plowing right into Simon, knocking him to the ground with a thump.

With a racing heart and all the air knocked from his lungs, for a moment all he could do was look into the wolf’s knowing eyes. As the beast leaned down to sniff…or bite his neck, he stepped into Sojourn and transported himself behind a boulder just far enough to be out of the wolf’s way.

How did humans survive without special abilities?

The wolf’s head jerked left, then right, then put its nose to the ground and followed the trail the pup had taken.

Was the big wolf hunting the smaller one?

Simon felt a tingle in his chest, the pull of a miracle.

Could it be fallen angels get miracles, too?

Even if it wasn’t possible, it had been a while since he had done something for someone else…

Ignore it. Those are only animals.

Simon returned his gaze to his family home and focused on the peacefulness of it.

But his stomach still tingled, pulling him back into the woods, away from the house.

Oh, Great Angels. You can’t ignore a miracle.

Hiding in the shadow’s of Sojorn, he transported himself along the path of the white wolf until the animals came in sight. The wolf had tackled the young one, pinning it down and growling. Simon’s heart raced at the sight of the sharp white teeth reflecting the moonlight.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped from the shadows right beside the wolf. With all his might, Simon threw his body into the animal and knocked it over while keeping his eyes on the wolf’s fangs, prepared to transport away if it went in for a taste.

The wolf shook its head, dazed, and Simon used this to his advantage. He scooped the pup into his arms, holding its snout closed with his hand, and transported…

Oh no.

He tried again, thinking of the mattress he’d been calling home for the past two weeks.

Nothing.

He didn’t budge.

The white wolf snarled in front of him as it stalked closer. Simon turned the pup in his arm, squeezing it tightly against his body with one hand. Twisting around, he scrambled to the closest pine and gripped a branch above his head. With all his might, he hefted himself up, grateful that angels, fallen or not, were stronger than humans. His feet found two limbs and he steadied himself, climbing up and feeling his fingers stick to the sap-filled tree limbs.

Beneath him, the wolf growled and nipped at his shoe. Simon scrambled to pull himself up another branch, but the beast’s teeth sank into the sole. Simon kicked it off, continuing to climb. One branch after another and he hefted himself and the pup up. When the wolf’s growls grew silent, he turned down and a rush of dizziness hit him.

Who ever heard of an angel afraid of heights.

He hugged the tree trunk tightly and turned to sit on a thick limb…and at that moment, the pup bit the lapel of his jacket.

He jerked, wanting to throw it down, but from this height, it would mean the animal’s death. Leaning back against the limb and balancing steady, he looked up into the nearly full moon and pulled the wolf back, clasping his mouth shut once again.

Once Simon’s heart stopped pounding, he focused on the sounds of rustling leaves, breaking pine branches, and something else loud, but unidentifiable from below. “Holy Sojourn. What are we going to do?”

The pup whined.

In a moment, the noises stopped and the forest grew eerily silent.

“We did it,” Simon said, focusing on the tingle still in his chest. Was saving the pup not his miracle?

He tried to transport back to the ground, but, once again, nothing happened. What was wrong with his abilities?

Simon took a deep breath, tightened his grip on a branch, and glanced down. He hadn’t climbed up far. He could get down, if only he didn’t look.

Twisting in the tree and holding on tight, he lowered one foot down, searching for a branch.

“Let him go!” came a woman’s voice from below.

Simon jumped, hugging the tree tighter.

“Thank you ma’am, but be careful. There’s a wolf in the woods.”

The woman sighed. “You’re holding a wolf. Let him go. I’m sure he wants to get back to his mother.”

His mother?

Simon glanced down at the woman, and before another rush of dizziness hit him, he was certain he saw a woman, completely naked, using a few pine boughs to shield her body.

“Oh, great miracle!” he exclaimed. “Um…I’m not coming down with you naked below me.”

A heavy huff came from the woman, “Fine. Let me get my clothes,” she said as she stormed away.

 

KATRINA

 Katrina kept one eye on the man holding her son as she edged herself to the white fence surrounding the home. She pulled the pale blue dress off a post she had left it on and pulled it over her head. “There,” she called, spinning around to the man sitting on a branch, clutching her son, and covering his eyes with his free hand. “I have clothing on, you can look.”

Truth be told, she didn’t know when she’d get used to running around in the woods naked. Did anyone get used to that? But she’d do anything to ensure her son was safe. She’d even galivant through downtown Portland bare-skinned, if that’s what it took.

As she returned to the foot of the giant yellow pine, the tree’s slightly citrus scent flooded her sensitive sense of smell. There was another scent there…one she couldn’t quite identify, yet was familiar.

“Okay, give me the wolf pup,” she called up the tree in her sweetest, calmest voice, despite the turmoil spinning inside.

She took another whiff of the air, confirming the man was not a wolf… She had gotten a good whiff when she knocked him over. He was not wolf, for sure…but she wasn’t certain he was human either. He smelled slightly of cinnamon—a scent that had been prevalent in this forest for the past few weeks.

“You better not bite me,” he warned the pup as he shifted it in his long arms.

Katrina reached her arms up. “He wouldn’t have bitten onto you if you’d let him alone.”

“I saved him from that other wolf.” The man attempted to lower himself down, but his foot missed the branch and he stood there, in the tree.

“That wolf…was his mother! Now, I’ll need to find her to reunite them.” The man hadn’t moved. His knuckles white from gripping the tree. “You’re not afraid of heights, are you? Do I need to call the fire department to get you a ladder?” Katrina couldn’t help her laugh. The big tall man afraid to be up twenty feet or so. The man swayed in the tree. “Stop. Don’t move,” Katrina yelled, thinking of the worst case. What if the man let go of the pup?

Branch by branch, Katrina climbed until she was beside the man. Contrasting with his nearly black hair, his vivid blue eyes almost seemed to glow in the dark. Did her yellowish ones look the same way? Katrina leaned forward and gave him a cautious whiff. The cinnamon scent was strong…and he had no scent that reminded her of human. The usual metallic, salty human odor was absent.

She leaned closer and gave another whiff.

“What are you doing, smelling me? You’re not a vampire, are you?”

Vampire?

What did this man know?

Katrina snatched the pup from the man’s arms and pulled away. “Who are you?”

“My name’s Simon.”

Katrina left him in the tree, climbing down as fast as she could. “No. I meant WHAT are you?”

A nervous laugh. “Just a normal guy…”

When Katrina’s feet hit the soft pine forest floor, she let out a nervous laugh. “A normal guy outside at night…window peeping.”

She dropped her son to the ground and they both took off running.

A man outside at night…who isn’t afraid of a wolf.

Who seemed to believe vampires are real.

Protect Alex at all costs.

When Katrina was certain she was out of sight, she whipped the dress over her head and shifted into her wolf form in one huge leap. When she caught up to Alex, she nipped his heels, urging him to run faster. Daylight was coming and they needed to be home before anyone spotted them.

To read Book 1 in the Angels of Sojourn series, Blood & Holy Water Click HERE.

To read Katrina’s story for free, check out Bitten in my free giveaway, Quick Escape, Fantasy Tales HERE.

 

 

I Wrote ‘THE END’ Twice Today!

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It amazing how productive you can be, if your mind is focused on your task. (AND you have a day off of work.)

Today, I wrote “THE END” not once, but twice!

Yup, twice. I always wish I’d only work on one project at a time, but sometimes, I lose motivation for one project and need to jump to another–for sanity sake.

For Camp NaNo, my “announced” project was to write a 15K short story, titled “Hidden” for a multi-author collection I’m participating in. I outlined this story in March and set off writing April 1st. Disconnecting my computer’s WiFi and setting the timer nearly every day, I committed to write for 30 minutes. Once my scene was laid out, I discovered that I could write about 1200 words in only 30 minutes. Pretty amazing! I wrote “The End” on this story before lunch today — clocking in at 18K words total.

Then, for a break, I’ve been working on fixing and finishing my November NaNoWriMo project, “Secret Lives of Superheroes’ Wives”. Not an official project, but something I wanted (needed) to complete.

Well, today, I could actually see the finish line…and I pushed forward. Here I am…8PM…and I just wrote “The End” on Superhero Wives.

It feels fantastic!

Next up: A round of edits and then off to beta readers.

(Okay, a little secret: My first drafts are TERRIBLE! I wouldn’t show them to anyone! I’m writing this here as a reminder to myself…when I get down and think I can’t write…hang in there and it gets better. For me, the magic happens during editing. Taking an endless ocean of raw words and ideas, polishing them, and turning out something you’d let someone else read.)

How’s your Camp NaNoWriMo project going? I’d love to hear.

Increasing Writing Productivity – Camp NaNo Style!

Guess what time it is? Camp NaNoWriMo time! I’m so excited. After participating (and failing) regular NaNoWriMo in November, I can’t wait for camp. Camping is so much fun — all due to the interaction with your cabin mates.

My main goal for camp is to write a 15,000 word short story with a title of “Hidden” for a multi-author project I’m participating in, but I have a secret goal…

Since my funk back in December (when I thought all my writing sucked, and I’d should throw in the towel) my productivity has really dropped off. I’m still moving forward, but at a snail pace compared to how most of 2016 went. For April’s camp, I want to get back in a routine. Back focused on what I love to do — write!

When I look at why I don’t get enough words down on paper, there’s two main reasons.

  1. Motivation: The massive drive I had last year is lost. Where did you go? I miss you! I think the urge to publish something kept me going. Now that I have one (soon to be two) books published, I don’t have that same fire.
  2. Distraction: Having published books means I need to spend time marketing and networking. I find myself spending way too much time doing this. (Yeah, have you been following my 1000 “true” fan blog series? Yup. Lots of time devoted to that.)

So, for camp… I’m making a commitment:

I WILL WRITE FOR 30 MINUTES, UNINTERRUPTED EVERY DAY.

This is not revising, outlining, or editing. This is hard-core putting new words down on paper. I’m going to track the number of words per day. I want to see if I learn to write faster and more efficient as the month goes by. In May, I’d love to up that time to a full hour dedicated solely to writing. (With the wi-fi off on my laptop and my phone on “do not disturb.”)

So…what’s my Camp NaNo project? A group of authors are getting together to write short stories (between 5000 and 20,000 words) with the title “Hidden.” The story can be about anything, as long as it has the “hidden” theme. We’re all going to publish our own stories this fall and cross-promote each other. It’ll be a ton of fun, since I love collaboration! (If you’d like to join us, there’s definitely still time and space — Here’s the Facebook group to join about it.)

I made my first draft of the cover here (It’ll still change 100 times before I publish):

 

Here’s the summary of the project: A pregnant fairy godmother flees to the human world to hide her secret as she looks for the father of her child.

(I have a full outline written — it was something to do while I was stuck in an airplane for 4 hours in Paris last week.)

Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? I’d love to hear about your project.

I lost NaNoWriMo, but I published a book!

nano-statsOkay. I may have *technically* lost NaNoWriMo, but I did manage to write 41,500 words towards THE SECRET LIVES OF SUPERHERO WIVES. I’d consider it “Draft Zero” as I have the whole thing done. It just needs a little more outside conflict. Do I sense an April Camp NaNoWriMo project?

Ready?

Brace yourself.

Drum Roll.

amazon-listing2I FINALLY have LOVE, LIES & CLONES up on Amazon for Kindle pre-order.

It’s here (if you’re DYING to get a copy): Love, Lies & Clones on Amazon

Pricing is SO difficult!

I decided to price the pre-order at the cheapest I could, $0.99, so that all my friends, family, and supporters could obtain a copy at a reasonable price. When it’s released (December 16th), I’ll be increasing it to $2.99. Hopefully, I sell a few copies to at least make back editing costs. 😉 I completely went with pricing listed on this website: ebook Pricing.  There are so many pricing strategies, I had no idea what to do — this is completely a shot in the dark.

I should have the paperback copy up this week. Yay! My parents are looking forward to selling it in their Zoo’s gift shop.

Then onto marketing and self promotion (see my sad face? I don’t like “selling.” Ugh!)

What’s next?

bhw-kindleI need to finish editing/rewriting BLOOD & HOLY WATER and get that one published too. It’s so close. I anticipate 1st half of 2017.

And I have the itch to write some flash fiction again. I have two stories outlined and just need to bite the bullet and write them. I’ll share on this blog when they’re done.

Maybe outline some sequels?

 

What projects are on your agenda for 2017?

 

 

Wanted: Readers to Review my Novel

Anyone willing to receive a FREE copy of my novel, LOVE, LIES, & CLONES, in exchange for a review or two on Amazon, Good Reads, or wherever else? I’m planning on publishing the book in December and would love to get some reviews right away.

Any takers? Let me know what format you’d like the book in. I think I can do anything.

I’ve been describing it as a mystery/thriller with a touch of romance/sci-fi.

You can read the first few chapters here to see if you like it: Love, Lies, & Clones on Kindle Scout

A CLONE’S DESPERATE SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH.

June’s deadly secret is she’s a clone, and if she tells anyone about her father’s involvement, he’ll face the death penalty. After his suspicious disappearance, the police have failed to find him.

During her frantic search, she’s surprised by an AWOL military man who insists her father’s the key to finding his brother. Bullets fly as they uncover more about the horrific experiments.

Can June trust someone with her secret…and her heart?

Have a great day and, as always, thanks for stopping over.

–Joy

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Where Do You Write?

My answer should be easy. It should be here, at my desk.

my-desk

But it’s not that easy. In fact, I do the least amount of writing at my desk.

The real answer?

I write here:

and here

and here

[But not when driving ;-)]

PLUS about 1000 more places.

We write wherever inspiration hits. Wherever we can grab a few moments.

But, when I want to get serious or I’m on a deadline (of course, all self-inflicted) I come back to my desk to focus and reenergize.

How about you? Where do you write? Do you have a special spot?

Kidnapped by Imaginary Characters!

Help! I’ve been kidnapped and am being held hostage by my characters. They won’t let me go. They’ve invaded my mind and silently watch, waiting for their opportunity to remind me they have strong voices that demand to be heard. Strong wills and desires they can no longer hide. Just when I think I’m in control, they pounce like a feline. They grab hold of my situation and twist it to their personal agenda. They massage my thoughts and intertwine them with their own insecurities.

Happy November to all the NaNoWriMo participants – and to everyone else as well. I’ve been feverishly cranking out words towards my new novel, ‘The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives’. We’re 12 days in, and I’m 22K words into my 50K goal. All of a sudden, I’ve felt on edge: anxious, insecure, stubborn, depressed, lonely, and a whole slew of other emotions I can’t put my finger on. I can’t figure out if I’m overtired, putting too much pressure on myself, or if my life is just going down the toilet.

Alas, this morning, I solved my problem:  My characters have taken over my life!!!

Yeah. My life is good and there is no reason my perception is being twisted by these emotions. Each thought I’m experiencing is what I’ve been writing about. THEY ARE NOT MY THOUGHTS. THEY ARE WHAT MY CHARACTERS WOULD THINK. The problem: my lines between the written word and reality began to blur. But the first step in a cure is recognition of the problem.

I’ve always been way too empathetic, now, I’m doing it with imaginary people!

My new novel has three different story lines, following three women and the superhero in their life. (And yes, we’re talking literal superheroes… with superpowers) The balance of three main character’s personalities is exhausting. Plus you add in their (ex)husbands personalities, and you end up with a tornado of emotions… no, a hurricane.

Novel premise: The superhero always gets the girl, right? Ever wonder what happens next?

  • Ariana is recently married. She struggles with the challenges of adjusting to married life.
  • Victoria is divorced, but her ex-husband won’t leave her alone.
  • Emma’s been married six years and struggling with a husband whos duty seems to come before her.

I have two hopes.

  1. That I don’t have this backwards and my emotions are actually taking over my characters or that seeing the characters display their flaws gives me permission to do it too.
  2. That all this turmoil  will make the characters come to life on the page for whoever ends up reading this novel.

So… The moral of this story? My next novel will need to have an intelligent, witty, caring, and… CHARMING protagonist. I give that one permission to take over my life. Maybe I should give up on NaNoWriMo today and start that story instead!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Who’s in charge? You or your imaginary people?

Happy NaNo-ing.

–Joy

hostage

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