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I won NaNo and another snippet

Technically NaNo doesn’t end until Friday, but I uploaded and validated my win today with a grand total of 80,900 words. I finished both The Game of Love and Lab Rats.

The Game of Love is exactly the type of hot mess draft that just pushing through a story, even when deep down you know it’s weak and needs a lot of work, can produce. I knew it was a mistake not to go back and fix things, but I pushed through instead. Now what I have is a hot mess that will need so much editing it will be almost starting from scratch. Ironically this is the first novel I’ve ever outlined, and I guess part of me thought that it would help create a cleaner first draft. I’ve reread it and there’s promise, but it’s more like a draft I would have written a dozen years ago (aka the last time I won NaNo) that my current standard of writing.

Lab Rats is a whole other ballgame. I hope that after reading the snippet in the last post you also see the promise. Here’s another snippet from Chapter One, featuring my hero, who has a giant stick up his butt at the start of the book.

Dr Benjamin Wells didn’t watch daytime television. It was a frivolous waste of time, and the only frivolity he enjoyed was Star Trek: The Next Generation.

“Dr. Wells?” the brunette in the first row—Valerie Alvarez, according to the seating chart—waved her hand in an undignified manner.

“Yes, Ms. Alvarez?”

“Do you think that there’s any way, biologically speaking, that the viral video about the werewolf on that morning show is possible?”

“I think we should leave nonsense like werewolves to discount writers and movies, don’t  you?”

“So you don’t believe it?” The voice came from the back of the room without so much as a raised hand.

“I will admit to not seeing it, but no, I do not believe that such mutations are biologically probable,” Ben replied.

“You say not probable, not impossible.” Yet another student blathering on about this damned video.

Enough. Today’s lecture is on DNA methylation. You have all read the assigned reading, I hope.” From there he launched into his lecture.

The students, properly rebuked, opened their laptops and began to take notes. There were no more ridiculous suppositions about mythical creatures.

Once back in his office, though, curiosity got the better of him. What was this dratted video they were all going on about? He entered Video werewolf talk show into the search bar. Already ashamed of this waste of time, he clicked on the first search result.

He rolled his eyes at the pap his students were watching. What a waste of time. Was this some sort of mass joke on the professor in retaliation for a test he hadn’t graded on a curve? Trends in movies? Who cared?

“Screw that,” finished the actor and he stood. Ears shifted upwards on a head that was turning, indeed lupine in nature. Fingers became shorter and melded together into a paw. The screaming in the background was frenzied. Then the video cut out.

Ben wanted to dismiss it as CGI. But something deep inside of him—the reptilian part of his brain, he reasoned—quaked in fear. All of that rippling skin, hair sprouting from every inch of the body, hands blurring into paws made his stomach roil. If this was real, there seemed to be no way to know who was human or not until they exposed themselves. What if people of actual consequence—generals, the President, the Dean—was one of them?

Fear skittered along Ben’s spine.

The phone rang at seven that evening, just as he was about to leave his office and go home. He almost didn’t answer, but his stepmother’s cold voice droned in his head that when one is present it’s just good manners to answer a ringing telephone.

Ben picked up the phone. “Dr. Benjamin Wells.”

“This is General Abernathy with the US Army Medical Corps.” The voice was low and rumbled, yet carried an undeniable authority. It was a voice used to being obeyed.

“How can I help you, General?”

“It is the belief of our scientists that you are the best person to examine the werewolf. Your paper on mutations of human cells suggests you can tell us if this is a mutation or something entirely inhuman.”

Benjamin blinked several times. “You want me to experiment on a werewolf?”

“Yes. We have it in custody, and in a reinforced cage. We can get you the blood you need to conduct your research. Will you serve your country?”

Revulsion flooded Benjamin’s body. He wanted to go back to this morning, before he’d heard about the video. He didn’t want anything to do with mutants or the government. But another voice twined through his brain—someone will do their research for them. They will be famous, able to get tenure at any university Think of the research money. The two impulses battled for supremacy.

Benjamin was as surprised to hear himself say, “Yes, sir, I will.”

“Excellent. I will meet you in your office at oh-six-hundred tomorrow morning.”

“Yes, sir.”

The phone clicked, signalling that the General had hung up.

What have I agreed to?

Review–Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert

This hot Halloween erotic romance can be devoured in one bite (pun intended).

Chastity identifies the hot stranger who keeps coming into her family’s coffee shop as a werewolf right away. But she doesn’t warn her family of huntresses, or even any of the men in her family. When he finally asks her out, she says yes. If she can kill him, she’ll prove to her family that she can be a huntress, too. The problem is that he’s not a mindless beast, like she’d been warned. He seems like a….a guy. An artist, even. Can a monster make art? Worse, can a monster inspire feelings other than hate….like lust?

Luke is a werewolf. But like most weres, he’s a solitary creature who likes his meat raw–and the forest behind his house keeps him perfectly happy via plenty of rabbits and such. But on a full moon, he’s chased by a group of huntresses…only to catch the scent of something primal. His mate. But the woman wearing the sweatshirt isn’t her. Instead she’s this shy, sweet girl who works in a coffee shop. Or so he thinks…until she tries to kill him.

Luke and Chas have chemistry that sparks right off the page. They’re easy to root for because it’s blindingly obvious that they should be together. Their banter is hot, and their fighting even more so. When they finally get together, I was squirming.

I love the idea of huntresses being obsessed with killing mindless monsters versus the very civilized but solitary werewolf who just wants to meet and commit to his mate for life. The dichotomy makes their story sparkle.

Luke is very much an alpha character. He doesn’t hesitate to take control or make a move. But he’s also committed to consent, which is really sexy. There’s an instance where the consent is blurry and he pulls away immediately. This only makes him hotter.

I wish it were longer, but I always wish a Talia Hibbert book were longer–she’s such a talented writer that I am always sorry when the story finishes. There’s such a great glimpse into the world of the huntresses and the world of werewolves. She has a unique take on what can be a really tiresome trope. Kudos, Talia!

It’s October 1, which means it’s on sale TODAY! Get it here on kindle for $0.99.

New Release: Strange Shifters

Strange Shifters

Strange Shifters is now available in print and digital versions!

My story “A Reindeer by Any Other Name” is included in this anthology. If you liked “New on the Naughty List” from Coming Together: For the Holidays last year, you’ll want to read “Reindeer.” It’s the story of what Blitzen was up to while Lucy the Elf was seeing whether Matthew belonged on the Naughty or Nice list.

“Going home for Christmas?” I asked.

Nik shrugged. “My parents are Hindu, so we didn’t do the whole ‘Christmas’ thing.”

He just gave the most sacred word at the Pole air quotes. Is this love?

“I’m waiting for the twenty-sixth, y’know? Back to normal,” Nik continued. “You?”

“Yeah, I’m going to spend the holiday with my family. I’m over it, but they’re really into Christmas. I’m the weird one,” I replied. Really into Christmas was an understatement. The lives of Santa’s team revolved around Christmas. It dictated everything from whether we could fly to the strength of our magic. Every day on the calendar was all about how many days were left until Christmas.

“Good thing I’ve always found weird synonymous with sexy,” Nik said.

Intending to share a friendly kiss, my lips brushed his. He responded by taking possession of my mouth, and pulled me tight against him. I met his hunger with my own, until we reluctantly broke apart. Much more of that and we’d be naked in the middle of Newbury Street in minutes.

I’m sharing pages with so many awesome writers. I can’t wait to read the rest of the anthology.

Introduction: The Animal Inside…

Bored in Heaven                                      Daniel Burnell
A Hand Outstretched                       Elizabeth L. Brooks
Gator Tail                                                 Leigh Ellwood
Mine                                                     Emma Whitehall
Small Change                                              Adrik Kemp
Moonlight Ride                                            Marie Piper
Water & Fire                                          Jaap Boekestein
Circus                                                      Nickie Jamison
The Storyteller                                            Tony Haynes
The Dive                                                       Lukas Scott
A Reindeer by Any Other Name               Delilah Night
Tar Pit Triage                                               Lily Malone
Valkyrie                                                  Nickie Jamison
Champ                                                  Margot McGuire
Woman without a Shadow                          Bruce Meyer
Rezoned                                                          T.B. Bond
Mouse Games                                       Lynn Townsend
Snowbound                                                Lisabet Sarai

I have FIVE free pdf copies of Strange Shifters available to anyone willing to write a review (amazon, goodread–or cross posted). You do *not* need to review my story.

Also, I am making New on the Naughty List available for free through Dec 1, 2015. Read Lucy’s story, then buy Strange Shifters to catch up with Blitzen. Or vice versa.

Novel

I have made the terrifying decision to commit to writing a novel.  I’ve successfully been writing, submitting, and occasionally getting accepted to short story anthologies for a few years now.  I feel like I can legitimately call myself an author.

I have grown tremendously as an author these last few years.  Every story has been an opportunity to grow, every rejection a lesson (sometimes you own that a story wasn’t ready, or that sometimes a story is solid and just didn’t work for this anthology), every acceptance a special thrill. 

When I was a child, I loved books. I still do.  I’ve always looked at authors as magical beings-they create worlds and populate them, they invent people who I care about as if they were real, and best of all they share those people and worlds with me. 

I regard authors like Anne Bishop, Maureen Johnson, Alison Tyler, Susan Kay, Lillian Jackson Braun, Mercedes Lackey and countless others in the same way other people sit in awe of athletes, musicians, actors and so forth. 

I respect them, but like a sports team, there can be bad seasons.  Mercedes Lackey-every Valdemar book after either the Winds or Storm trilogy depending on my mood has sucked to the point where I’ve had to abandon the series.  Yet her Vanyel trilogy of Magic’s Pawn, Magic’s Pride and Magic’s Price remains a pivotal series in my development as a person because Vanyel was the first gay person I’d met and cared about. 

Then there are the amazing seasons. I reread the Jewels series by Anne Bishop regularly because I’ve grown to love those characters so much I want to visit with them regularly.  I reread Gone With the Wind every few years because my opinion of Scarlett and understanding of her actions has changed dramatically as I’ve aged-what I found impressive as a teen looks the poorly thought out impulses of an idiot 16 year old from the lofty age of 34.

I want to do that.  I want to be the kind of author who leaves you wanting to know what happens next, to see more of my worlds, and inspires you to care about my characters.  I truly hope that people feel that way about my stories, especially my new acceptances when the anthologies they’re included in come out.

But the dream has always extended past short stories.  I want to write a book where I’m not one of many, and you buy it because my world intrigues you. 

That is what I’m embarking upon-writing my first full length novel.  I’ve hired Jessica, who is both a personal friend and a professional editor to figuratively crack the whip-giving me deadlines and feedback.  Obviously I hope the book will be published. Even if it isn’t,  I know the experience will be invaluable in the lessons I’ll learn.  With hard work and persistence I believe I will publish novel length stories as well.

I still plan to work on short stories. They provide a break from the world of the novel.  As stories are accepted, they help build my resume.  Writing credentials may help my novels’ odds of getting fished out of the slush pile.

Wish me luck.