Week In Review – Greenfield Village, Editing, and Other Miscellany

It was a good week.

The first week of my quest to get healthier and shrink a bit went really well, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. (And thank you for your support and kind words in the comments and on Facebook!) Other than that, here’s what I did this week, and what I’m looking forward to next week.

Writing!

I did not get a ton of writing done this week. I made a bit of progress on Shifted Fate (you will have a newsletter installment on Tuesday!) and am finishing up the Hidden prequel short story I’m writing. That story will be available in an anthology with a bunch of my urban fantasy author pals, including SM Reine, Jovee Winters, Annie Bellet, Christine Pope, Colleen Gleason, and many others. I’ll share more details as we get closer to the release date — so excited for this one!

So not much writing, but there was editing.

So. Much. Editing.

I have feedback on Shadow Sworn from most of my beta readers, and it’s all been very positive. Of course, there were things they pointed out and things I was unhappy with as well, and those things are being fixed in this final pass. Edits will be finished early this week, which means I get to focus on THE NEXT BOOK! Yay!

Reading

I started out the week reading Amanda Quick’s Garden of Lies and I loved it. The end frustrated me a bit, but overall I really enjoyed it.

After that, I read Entwined, which is a novella from Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. HIGHLY recommend checking it out, and after reading it (I think it was one of my one-click freebies or something) I ordered the first two novels in the series from my library. Anxiously awaiting reading them!

I was clearly in a historical mood last week, so I decided to take another shot at Dragonfly in Amber. I started it after I finished reading Outlander a few months back, and then I set it aside, not because I didn’t like it but because I got started reading other things. Anyway, I’m reading it again, and the same scenes made me cry as the first time around.

Home and Family

We went to Greenfield Village early in the week, which is one of our favorite places to visit and the weather was absolutely perfect. I ended up buying this adorable Mason jar salt and pepper set at the gift shop, and my kids teased me about hoarding salt and pepper shakers. I don’t know what it is. They’re just becoming one of those things I buy lately. :) That top photo in the collage is one of the gardens at Greenfield Village — I want mine to look like that someday.

PicMonkey Collage

I made decent progress on the afghan I’m crocheting for my daughter, though I didn’t work on it much the last few days. Sunday is always a good crocheting day, so I expect I’ll add at least a few more rows to it during the day. It’s also bread baking and yogurt making day. I love Sundays.

The summer garden is dying down, and we’re getting the fall garden going now. We sowed lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, beets, and turnips, and I’m looking forward to all of it. As much as I love tomatoes and zucchini, I’m equally happy with kale and spinach. And cooler weather. Amen.

And of course, there’s the demon basset, who is her usual dippy, demonic, majestic self. :)

Next Week

Next week, I really get to dive into the next book. I made good progress on it before I started editing Shadow Sworn, so I’m looking forward to getting back to it. I’ll be talking about it more as time goes on. :)

Finishing up editing and getting Shadow Sworn laid out and ready to go is always fun, so I’m looking forward to that as well.

Have a great week, all! <3

 

 

The Incredible Shrinking Writer, Week One

MV5BMTY5OTM3MTMwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTQyOTE5._V1__SX1357_SY686_Does anyone remember The Incredible Shrinking Woman? Lily Tomlin starred in it, and I loved that movie when I was a kid. When I was coming up with a name for this little journey of mine, it was the first thing that came to mind. Which is probably weird, but hey, that’s me. :)

It is time, my lovelies. I’m fed up with feeling tired, not being able to keep up with my kids, and not liking the way I look. I’m fed up with having the same insecurity — my weight — weighing (haha) me down when so many other great, amazing things are happening in my life. I’ve wanted to lose weight for years, have done the usual starting and failing, losing and gaining.

I’m done.

I saw a picture of myself that a family member took at a recent holiday, and I didn’t even recognize myself. Knowing I weigh a certain amount, seeing myself in the mirror every day, and then being slapped in the face with what I must look like through other people’s eyes… yeah. I’m done.

I know HOW to lose weight. I’ve done it before. But I always get frustrated by the slow progress, and too often my love of pizza, chips, and buttery bread wins out over the knowledge that I can have those things, but not all the time, and not the way I usually eat them.

So I’m starting simply. I’m tracking my calories via my Fitbit app. I’m making sure I get 10,000 steps per day. This is the end of week one (I decided that Saturday will be weigh-in day so I’ll be motivated to keep it together through the weekend).

And, I’m documenting my progress here on the blog because over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve learned that I can do pretty much anything if I know even a few people are following along. I know that, even if I’m barely slogging my way through a book, if I put a deadline on it, and then tell my awesome readers about it, suddenly, I’m motivated again! I’m hoping the same holds true for this little project.

Here’s what I learned this week (mainly to remind myself when I need it later.) :)

Lessons Learned in Week One

  1. The endless grazing that I used to do during the day — a handful of crackers here, a slice of cheese there, a handful of nuts, etc., etc. really added up. Once I cut that crap out, I was able to stay in my calorie range pretty easily. It’s so easy to lose track of those random snacks throughout the day, and I often grabbed a bite while I was getting snacks for the kids.
  2. Sensible portion sizes will not make me starve. I knew I was eating large portions, and was often overly full at the end of a meal. I spent this week measuring my food and plating up sensible portions. I was satisfied but not full at the end of each meal, which is as it should be.
  3. There are a shit-ton of calories in most grains for the amount of food you actually get to eat. Fewer grains, more protein and veggies, and I was able to end each day without feeling ravenous. Before, I’d try to keep eating my usual way, just LESS. That doesn’t work. You have to look at where you’re spending your calories and make some choices.

Week One Progress

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I also managed to stay in my calorie range (on the Fitbit app, you can set it so it tells you where you should be. I’m basically focusing on keeping it around 1800 calories per day, which seems like a lot when you see what many diet books recommend, but it worked well for me.)

Week One Results

I lost 3.1 pounds this week! After the third day, the walking didn’t seem nearly as hard, and I actually started enjoying it. I’m also keeping body measurements, but I’ll keep those to myself until I feel okay with sharing them. Eventually, I will.

Week Two Goals

  1. Keep my 10K per day streak going.
  2. Stay in my calorie range.
  3. Drink more water. I did okay some days, and then other days (like yesterday) I hardly drank any water at all.
  4. Just. Keep. Going. I have a book coming out on the 8th, and the week or so before and the week after a release tend to be kind of stressful for me, which means I usually turn to snacking (hello, emotional eating!) and spend way too much time staring at my computer. I don’t want to fall back into those habits this time.

On to Week Two!

Nether: Hidden, Book Five Audiobook is Available Now!

NetherAudioBookCoverAudio fans — the Nether audiobook is now available! This final installment in the Hidden series is once again narrated by the fabulous Tonya Cornelisse and produced by the amazing crew at Punch Audio. I’ve worked with the same team through all five of the Hidden series audiobooks, and it’s been a wonderful experience.

 

I hope you enjoy it! Nether is available in audio at:

 

Yarn Along (Finally!)

I’ve been reading Ginny’s blog, Small Things, for quite a while now. Her photos are gorgeous, and it’s just one of those blogs that makes me happy every time I visit. Anyway, one of the things she does on her blog every Wednesday is host what she calls a “yarn along” — she shares a photo of her current knitting (or crochet) project, as well as the book she’s currently reading. I’ve wanted to participate, but never had crochet projects to share.

I’m finally working on an afghan for my oldest daughter, so I get to do a Yarn Along post this week! It was one of my little personal goals for this year, so I’m happy to finally be able to participate.

yarnalong2

This is my first afghan. It’s a pretty simple pattern (really, “pattern” is almost too complex of a term for it) that I found over on Dream a Little Bigger by Allison Murray. She calls it a “Six Hour Afghan” but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to take me a bit longer than that.  :) It’s a little over 1/4 finished now.

As for the reading, I’m currently reading Amanda Quick (A.K.A. Jayne Ann Krentz)’s The Garden of Lies. It has everything: mystery, a feisty, take no BS heroine, a brooding, mysterious hero, a Victorian London setting, and some pretty magnificently steamy writing, as well. I’m really enjoying it, and I think this may well lead to an Amanda Quick reading binge.

It was the perfect time for me to start a crochet project: I finished Shadow Sworn (yay!) and I’m starting both a diet and our homeschool year (yikes) so I need something kind of soothing to do in my downtime. So far, this project (and this book) fit the bill perfectly.

To see more Yarn Along entries, stop by Small Things every Wednesday. 

Ready for a Shadow Sworn Excerpt?

I think it’s time for a little bit of Shadow Sworn, don’t you? We’re just over two weeks away now! Enjoy!

* * *

ShadowSwornCoverHalfSizeAfter two more days of struggling through work, Sophie was relieved to make it to her day off. She was grateful for the first time since she began working at the resort for the reduced hours that came with the end of the tourist season. Always, before, she’d had her aunt’s debts and the possibility of losing her land hanging over her head. Autumn had always brought the scurry for part time jobs to fill in the missing income.

This year, her meager salary would be enough to cover her living expenses, now that the debt had been paid. Sophie stood in her kitchen and smiled a little to herself. Though, at the time, when Calder had bought her house out from under her at auction, she hadn’t found the situation nearly as comforting.

She leaned against the butcher block counter in her cozy kitchen, sipping one of her favorite herbal tea blends from her favorite antique tea cup. She forced herself to stay, to be calm, to focus on the moment. She forced herself to see the way the late afternoon sun gleamed across the newly-waxed wood floor, the way the light picked up the subtle floral pattern on the area rug in the living room. She held onto Calder’s advice, and hoped that if she could do this one thing, if she could slow down, and focus, and truly exist in the moment… if she could do that, then she could stay mostly sane.

So she stood, the herbal scent of her tea wafting toward her, sun shining in the windows.

And she needed it. She’d spent the entire day with Calder, but he had left a while ago to see Bryce about his ugly car and the hunt the two of them were planning. They did a long hunt every fall, Calder, Bryce, and Calder’s brother, Jon. Calder had initially called it off for that year, and, at Sophie’s insistence, he’d agreed to reschedule with his friend and his brother. She didn’t want his entire life changing, and she didn’t want him to feel like he was singularly devoted to babysitting her.

Though how she would manage for a week, when she was nearly out of her mind having him away from her for even an hour, made her break out in a cold sweat. This possessiveness was part of the curse she’d taken from him. Every time he walked away from her, even if it was simply to leave the house to grab the mail or feed Merlin, it made her edgy, as if she wanted to drag him back and keep him. She’d wondered, at first, how much of that was just her. After a lifetime spent wanting him, she had Calder. She had the one man she’d ever truly wanted, and she knew the rest of their lives wouldn’t be enough.

She smiled, remembering that conversation. How pleased Calder had looked to hear her say those words, the way his face had softened, the warmth in his gaze. The way he’d slowly run his hands down her sides, over her hips, and pulled her toward him. How he’d told her that the insane possessive thing was all the curse, but that she should remember that idea about forever not being long enough for those times when he would undoubtedly manage to piss her off.

She shook her head with a smile and gulped down the last of her tea. She had a quiet house, and time to focus, and she had other things to do besides stand there mooning over Calder. She glanced at the potted plant she’d picked up the day before, sitting on the windowsill near the table where she and Calder ate their meals. She’d bought it on clearance from the local nursery because it was wilted and potbound. That was reassuring, in its way. If she killed it as she seemed to kill so many other plants of late, at least she would have the comfort of knowing it was likely on its way out, anyway.

It had wilted a bit more in her presence, and she supposed it could have been from her Shadow magic. But it could not, as well.

She walked over to the windowsill and picked up the plant, its terra cotta pot cool in her hands. She carried it back to the kitchen and set it on the counter.

And she focused.

She called to mind the magic she’d worked so often, that healing, life-giving magic that had once come to her. It had never roared through her, and it had never come easily. Always, working her magic had been like coaxing a shy animal out of hiding. It had been delicate, painstaking work.

She looked at the plant, and focused first on her gratitude for the Light, for its beauty and richness, for its life-affirming energy.

The fact that she could not longer feel it was something she forced herself not to think about.

She spent a moment sending her apologies to the Light for what she had allowed herself to become. For allowing the Light within her to be profaned, to the point that she’d lost it completely.

She sent a prayer that she would once again be worthy, that the fact that her intentions had been those of a Lightwitch would be enough.

Those things done, she turned her attention once again to the plant. It was an English ivy, and its leaves wilted horribly. Some were brown, some a sickly yellow.

She focused, and recalled the spell she’d used so often.

She could see it. She could see the way the spell was supposed to work, just as she always had. She could see the way she was supposed to cast the spell, the way the magic was supposed to work, the way her power was supposed to wrap itself around the plant, the Light’s power combining with the inherent life force within the plant.

She could see it, and yet she could not call forth even a spark of the Light magic she’d once had.

She focused harder, no longer coaxing. Calling. Commanding.

Begging.

To her utter dismay, instead of Light answering her call, she felt Shadow rise within her. She tried to stop focusing, tried to let the spell drop. She could still envision the way her spell was supposed to work, and as she stood there, she could see Shadow twisting, working its way into the spell she’d been trying to perform.

Sophie gave a strangled cry and closed her eyes, shook her head to break her focus. She felt the spell fall apart, this time with some relief.

The plant looked no worse for wear, she noticed as she looked it over. It didn’t look any better, either, but at least it wasn’t worse.

“One more time,” she murmured to herself. She knew she was reaching the end of her ability to focus at all, as she stood there with her stomach growling in insane hunger, her throat dry with thirst, her body yearning for release. She forced herself to focus. She would have to learn to ignore the hunger. Master it, somehow.

She rebuilt the spell until she was able to see it. This part, she could do. It felt familiar to when she was learning to use her magic, when she was in her teens and early twenties. At first, all she’d been able to do was see the spells she read about online. See the mechanics of them, how they went together. Eventually, she’d learned to fill them with her Light magic, and had been delighted to see plants grow healthier, animals heal, and humans find themselves feeling heartier. She’d worked the magic over and over again, putting a bit of that healing magic into the soaps and lotions she’d once made.

She focused then, holding the spell in her mind, her eyes closed, her hands in front of her, fingers moving every once in a while as she imitated the gestures she’d so often made when casting.

She coaxed. Pleaded. And once again, she was rewarded only with Shadow slithering its way through what she’d made. She groaned in frustration, and the spell shattered.

She plopped down onto one of the dining room chairs and looked at the plant in frustration. She held some hope. At least she could still see the way her magic was supposed to work. As she sat, she looked at the plant without really seeing it, her mind racing as her body nearly screamed with her endless hunger. She could see the way Light magic worked. Did Shadow work the same way? Would she be able to build the spells the way she did with Light?

She shook her head, pushing the thought away. She had no desire to learn how to work Shadow magic. She didn’t want it, and she certainly didn’t want to learn about how to use it.

That crazy, restless energy she’d inherited with Calder’s curse had her gritting her teeth, and she finally gave up. She stood and stepped into her sneakers. She let herself out the back door of her cottage, and headed for the woods, stopping to scratch Merlin’s ears on the way. He gave her a cranky bleat in return, and she shook her head, then took off toward the woods.

She would run off this energy. And then she would come home and try to cook. She hadn’t managed to even cook since the brownie incident.  The two times she’d tried, she’d burned everything, distracted by Calder’s curse.

But today, she’d surprise Calder with dinner, and she’d try to pretend that everything was just fine.

 

***

Calder pulled into his driveway and climbed out of his truck. He pulled the box he’d picked up at the post office out of the back of the truck. The taillights he’d been waiting for to complete Bryce’s slightly-less-ugly car had finally come in. He looked the vintage Dodge over. It was coming along. It ran now, and he’d completed the body work, getting rid of the dings and rust that had accumulated over the years. Of course, there was still the interior to deal with, but he was happy with his progress so far.

He had two more restorations lined up after he finished Bryce’s, and one he was working on while he waited for parts to come in. He glanced at the other car he was working on, a 1970 Barracuda. He’d had more requests for Barracudas in the past few months, and he wondered at the sudden popularity again. There were cycles to all things, and which old cars were trendy was apparently one of them.

Calder stowed the box in his garage, then pulled the garage door shut and looked toward Sophie’s house. Maybe they’d go out to dinner that night, he thought to himself. He didn’t feel like cooking, and she seemed less freaked out by the idea of going out where other people were. He felt his guilt crash over him, the way it did every time he thought of the woman he loved bearing his curse. And while he understood her reasoning, while he understood that she was stronger and better able to handle it than he was, he still couldn’t deny that he was angry with her for taking it. Her reasoning had been based on love and logic, but all he could see when he saw that insanity in her eyes, the insanity that had been so familiar to him, was the fact that the woman he loved was hurting because of him.

And he’d had no say in the matter.

He loved her, more than he’d ever loved anyone. He would do anything for her. And she’d told him time and time again that she couldn’t stand by and watch him fall into insanity, the way his father and every first-born male in his family before him had. She couldn’t do it, because she loved him.

Yet he was supposed to be okay with watching her fall apart. The love of his life, who’d lived through hell already and now had a whole new kind of hell to deal with. He was supposed to be fine with watching her suffer under a curse that was his to bear.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. They’d been over and over it. They’d both said everything they could on the matter, more times than he could count. And it always came down to the fact that what was done couldn’t be undone, and that she was stronger and better able to deal with his curse. His bear did not combine well with the insanity the curse brought. It was a deadly combination that would have resulted, eventually, in Calder having to be kept imprisoned the way his father had.

I can’t do that to you, Calder. I couldn’t lock you up, and you’d end up killing me or someone else. Is that what  you want?

Words thrown at him when she’d reached the breaking point. Words he hadn’t been able to refute, no matter how much he’d wanted to.

Calder swallowed his anger and guilt and crossed the road to her house. As he walked up the gravel driveway, he could hear music coming from the house. The Supremes, he realized. And, the closer he got to the house, he realized he could hear Sophie singing along.

He raised his nose into the air, scenting it. Venison. She was cooking.

And it didn’t even smell burned, he realized with a smile.

He stepped up onto the small porch at the front of the cottage and walked in, the scent of venison and herbs surrounding him, overlaid with her scent, that clean, wild scent that was his woman. Her back was to him as she stirred something on the stove, and she sang, and he watched as her hips moved side to side with the music. Her long, thick curls cascaded down her back, nearly reaching her luscious ass. He practically salivated at the sight.

And this was why, no matter how pissed he was that she’d taken his curse without asking, it was all too easy for him to forget to be irritated with her. One look, and he was a goner.

She turned then and saw him, and she smiled, her dark eyes sparkling.

“Hey, sexy,” she said, coming over to him and wrapping her arms around his waist.

“I don’t think I’m the sexy one here,” he murmured as he lowered his lips to hers.

“Mm. You have no idea,” she whispered against his lips. Then she smiled up at him. “I didn’t burn anything,” she said, and he laughed.

“It smells fantastic,” he said. Together, they set the table, and she plated up a fragrant stew of venison, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and a rich sauce for him. For herself, a baked potato and a side of roasted carrots. They sat and Calder lifted his fork to his mouth. The rich, meaty flavor of the stew only made him feel hungrier, and he dug in, finishing off one plate and getting up to grab a second helping before he even realized it. Sophie laughed a little, and he threw her a grin.

He polished off his second plate, and contemplated a third. There was enough left in the pot for one more helping, he thought.

He looked across the table at Sophie, mesmerized by the sight of her lips around the tines of her fork. The stew was promptly forgotten, just as quickly as his thought of a third helping had come on. He watched as she took another bite, her lush lips closing over her fork, then sliding down the tines as she pulled the fork back out.

“What?” she asked with a bit of a laugh.

Busted.

“You have the most gorgeous mouth,” he said, aware of the low growl in his voice. She stilled at his tone, and he could smell another scent now, even stronger than the stew, than her wild scent.

The intoxicating scent of her desire.

“Calder,” she began softly. He watched her, the way her ample breasts heaved with her shallow breaths, the way her skin flushed a rosy pink under his gaze. He stood up, and without another word, he picked her up and carried her over to the daybed in the living room, dinner completely forgotten in the maddening haze of his need for her.

***

There you go! Shadow Sworn will be out on September 8th (though there’s a very slight chance I’ll have it ready before then. We’ll see!)

Shadow Sworn Cover Reveal and Release Date!

Hello, lovelies! I am putting the finishing touches on Shadow Sworn, which is always a great feeling! It’ll go through a quick edit, and then to my awesome beta reading team, then more edits, and more edits… and then you get to read it!

When, you ask? Shadow Sworn, Copper Falls #2, will be out on September 8th! I can’t wait to share this one with you. I am completely in love with the cover for this one, which was (as usual!) designed by my amazing husband.

ShadowSwornCoverHalfSize

If you look closely, you’ll see that certain elements of the Shadow Witch Rising cover appear in this one as well — our goal for these is that the cover image grows and progresses as the story does. It’s a little thing, but it makes me ridiculously happy.

Gah. I love it.

Synopsis:

A centuries-old curse. A conniving, obsessed warlock. A darkness that grows with each passing day. 

Having succumbed completely to Shadow, Sophie now struggles with both the vile, strange magic flowing through her, as well as the curse her ancestor put on the Turcotte family. In taking the curse, she saved the life of the man she’s loved for her entire life.

All she needed was to buy some time.

But the curse is beginning to eat away at Sophie’s sanity, and learning to wield Shadow magic in a way that might save both herself and Calder’s line from its malevolence is proving nearly impossible. Sophie is in a race against time as well as her own increasing madness to end the curse before it infects Calder’s family again.

An old foe awaits his opportunity.

Marshall, the warlock who now owns Sophie’s soul, haunts the shadows, frustrated by both his own inability to force Sophie completely to his will and the forces that seem to thwart his every attempt to make her do his bidding. His desperation turns to rage, and an entire town will be forced to pay.

Despite her madness, Sophie must learn to wield the magic she never even wanted, or everything and everyone she ever loved will suffer. And the ultimate price she’ll pay to save them will be more than she ever could have imagined.

So. Whaddya say? You, me, Sophie and Calder? September 8th? I cannot wait. :)

P.S. — If you’re a GoodReads user, I hope you’ll add Shadow Sworn to your shelf over there. Thank you!

RT Book Reviews Gives Guardian 4 Stars (and other news!)

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.31.15 AM

The lovely Jill M. Smith, who has reviewed several of my books for RT Book Reviews, reviewed Guardian: Hidden: Soulhunter, Book 1 for the magazine, and I was thrilled to see that she gave it a four-star rating! From her review:

Great news! Rising star Vanderlinden is launching an offshoot series to her exceptional Detroit-set Hidden series. A key component of Vanderlinden’s storytelling is her ability to create well-rounded characters forced into extraordinary circumstances. This excellent new Soulhunter series promises to be just as dramatic and action-packed as Hidden!

I was so happy to hear that she enjoyed it, and I’ve been delighted with the feedback I’ve gotten from you guys as well. I believe she’s reviewing Betrayer for next month’s edition of the magazine, so… fingers crossed! (Also, my ego really enjoyed that “rising star” bit of her review!)

Shadow Sworn Update

Shadow Sworn is on track to be finished next week, and then it goes to the editor and will be available in early September. I’ll have a more exact date as we get closer to the day. I’m not sure about doing a pre-order for this one. We may skip it this time around, but we’ll see.

I love this book. I feel like some of those little threads that I scattered around in Shadow Witch Rising are starting to weave together and I’m really pleased with the way everything is coming together. Sophie and Calder are… sigh. I love them. Can’t wait to share this book with you!

Shifted Fate Update

I suck. I just do. I got off-track with releasing the installments of Jamie’s story in the newsletter, but I will definitely have a newsletter out tomorrow with an installment, and hopefully we’ll stay on track after that. My intention was to release an installment every Friday, but just as it started up, I hit a bit of a rough patch with Shadow Sworn. We are past that now, so things should start working out according to schedule. (Ha. Wishful thinking, right?)

Lost Girl

Finally — Lost Girl is free on Amazon today and tomorrow, so if you know anyone who has been on the fence about giving it a read, this would be a good time to give them a little nudge.

All right. I think that’s it. If I don’t have an installment of Shifted Fate out tomorrow, please feel free to tell me off any time you see me goofing off on Twitter or Facebook. :)

 

Gardening, Reading, and Plotting (mwahahaha…)

I seem to have gotten out of the habit of doing my weekly updates. What a surprise, eh? 😉 I think part of the issue was that I was planning them for Friday, and I now realize that Friday just doesn’t work. Maybe Wednesdays will work. Or maybe not.

Blogging is always the first thing to fall by the wayside when things get busy. That feels wrong to me, really. I think I’m falling back on Facebook and Twitter too often and then I end up ignoring my blog.

Anyway. Here’s what I’m busy with this week.

Writing:

I am on schedule to finish Shadow Sworn by the end of the month, and that feels great. Shadow Witch Rising was a nightmare to write, partially because it was the first non-HIDDEN book I’ve released and I had myself psyched out that everyone would hate it. That particular stress is gone, but Shadow Sworn has its own complications. Mainly, it’s a much darker book, and it’s a bit draining emotionally, despite how much I love writing it.

I’m also making good progress on Shifted Fate, which is the current newsletter story I’m writing. That one has been a lot of fun to work on. I suspected it would be.

I always have a side project I’m working on in addition to my two main ones (I can’t work on one project at a time. When I do, things don’t go well. It seems counterintuitive, but that’s just the way it works for me) and in this case it’s a fantasy romance that I’m really excited about.

Reading:

Oh, the reading. There aren’t enough hours in the day. Right now, I’m reading Sandra Byrd’s Mist of Midnight, which is gothic romance. Not a genre I’ve read much, but I can easily see becoming obsessed with it. If you have gothics you love, please let me know in the comments — I’m not sure what to read next. Of course, the lovely Grace Draven released The Brush of Black Wings yesterday, and I’ll be reading that as well! I’m in research mode for another project I am considering, so I’m reading quite a bit of Detroit history right now. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve read the following:

  • Detroit Across Three Centuries by Richard Bak
  • Hidden History of Detroit by Amy Elliott Bragg (HIGHLY recommended, as is her blog, Night Train to Detroit.)
  • Motor City Mafia by Scott Burnstein
  • Detroit’s Infamous Purple Gang by Paul Kavieff
  • The Violent Years: Prohibition and the Detroit Mobs by Paul Kavieff (currently reading)

Are you sensing a trend here? 😉 We’ll see how it all goes.

Life Stuff:

Besides reading and writing, I’m trying to get into a more regular exercise routine (ugh). The kids have been busy with their summer classes, and the demon dog continues to be evil while also being disarmingly cute. There has also been quite a bit of gardening, and I’m really happy with the way the garden’s looking right now.  


 

We’ll be seeing Ant-Man on Friday (who else is planning on seeing it?) and then Saturday is my birthday!

I guess that wraps it up for this week. If you have any gothic romance recommendations, please leave them in the comments! Thanks!

Betrayer is Out Today!

BetrayerCoverDaggerToday’s the day! The second Hidden: Soulhunter book is out today, and I can’t wait for you all to read this one. E’s job, the hunt she began at Molly’s request in GUARDIAN, becomes so much more complicated. My history geek side got to have some fun with this book as well, and writing E’s development as she learns how to let herself feel and experience things has been such an amazing experience.

Thanks so much to everyone who pre-ordered the book — you should have it waiting on your Kindles for you! Anyone else who is interested in grabbing a copy, you can find it on Amazon.

Tell me what you think! Comments, tweets, Facebook posts, emails (and, of course, reviews on Amazon/GoodReads) are always welcomed and appreciated. The support you guys have given me, your love for these characters, is something I am so grateful for. Thank you so much.

4 More Days Until Betrayer! (So here’s a teaser!)

efearmeI can’t believe it’s almost here — BETRAYER is out on Friday, and I am dying for you guys to read it. I loved this book. I loved writing it, I loved revising it, I loved researching it (and there was A LOT of research for this one, because of its historical aspects). I loved getting to know E and her New Guardians better. I can say that I was happy writing this book, and sometimes, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the writing is hell and nothing feels right until after several rounds of  revisions have passed. BETRAYER, though… BETRAYER felt like playing, and those are the stories that make writing so addictive for me.

So we have four more days and I thought this would be a good time to give you guys one more teaser before release day (the other teaser I posted can be found here.) This scene takes place pretty early on in the book, continuing from where GUARDIAN left off. And, of course, any scene in which I can write Molly and E being their BFF selves is a good one. :) Enjoy!

* * *

A few hours later, Mollis had satisfied herself that she had punished the soul of Chen enough. Most of Mollis’s punishments were of the mental variety. She used their thoughts, their deepest fears, against them. Of course, she punished them physically as well. She hadn’t needed my help at all, though I understood why she liked having me there. Having another being standing ominously off to the side only made him more afraid.

We had been doing this for a few weeks now. I would hunt, now looking for just about any missing soul I could, and I would bring it directly to Mollis, who would learn what she could from it, punish it on the spot, and then release it into the Everafter on her own. For those who had done horrid things, apparently the Everafter was not a nice place. Mollis’s punishments were usually their introduction to what they had ahead of them, their own personal version of the mortal concept of hell. If they were good people, their Everafter was peace and love and being reunited with loved ones.

It was not the easiest way to handle things. It meant that Mollis was pretty much on call, because she did not want me to have to stand around with a soul for hours until she was able to come. She also had to hide the fact that she was seeing me, due to the fact that we supposedly hated one another.

Really, I hoped her traitor would reveal themselves soon.

My small group of New Guardians, souls who had started following me when I had begun my hunt for Mollis’s lost souls were essential in helping me find as many souls as I had. We were in a race against whoever Mollis’s adversary was, it seemed, each side racing to claim a newly-deceased soul before the other side took it. Quinn, who had taken the worst of the injuries when my sisters had attacked, was back on his feet and relentless as ever. He had started to show some interest in learning to rematerialize, despite the fact that it still made him nauseous. Claire seemed to have become my second-in-command, and kept track of the movements of the other three New Guardians, reporting their successes, and, more often than we liked, failures, to me.

I had tried, gently, because I know Mollis would rather not talk about it, to suggest that she look into her mother and aunt’s minds. She could do that. And this whole mess would be at least partially reconciled within minutes. So far, she had demurred, with the excuse that she would have to sift through thousands of years of memories, and there were things in her mother’s mind she did not want to see again. She had torn her way into Hades’ mind once, when she was captive in the Nether, and apparently had learned a hard lesson about the things one sees in the mind of a death god.

I understood that, but in this case, it seemed worth the risk. Why would you not want to just know, for sure, whether someone had betrayed you or not?

As I watched Mollis send the soul of Chen to the Everafter, which only took seconds after she was finished punishing him, I considered broaching the subject again. A look at her eyes, at the razor edge of madness there, made me swallow the advice I was about to give. The souls we were missing still weighed on her. Nether still fought her for control.

Instead, I took her hand, gave it a small squeeze. “Another one down, demon girl.”

She nodded. “Too many still out there, though.”

“We are working on it,” I said, trying to soothe her.

She gave a small smile. “I know, E. Thank you. It would be pretty handy if you discovered a few more New Guardians out there somewhere, though.”

I gave a short laugh. “That it would. Though Quinn does the work of three Guardians on his own.”

Mollis nodded. “Thanks for this. The only one he ever saw was Delo.”

I nodded. “About her…”

Mollis sighed and shook her head. “I’m still working at her, as well as your other sisters we have in custody.” She paused, looked uncomfortable. “There is still that blank space in their memories, and I know whoever is pulling the strings is there. I just wish I knew how to undo whatever was done to them to make them forget. At the same time, I really don’t want to risk whoever was working with them somehow managing to help them escape.”

I nodded.

“Nain has been watching their cells almost non-stop since you kicked Anthousa and Delo’s asses back in Tokyo.” That fight had been brutal, even beyond the loss of my wings, and I had believed, at the time, that I had killed Anthousa, at least, on the mortal plane. As it was, despite it looking as if her body had turned to dust, Mollis had found her, weakened and unconscious, not far from the building in which we had battled. I did not quite understand it, but I was glad my Queen had been able to take another enemy to interrogate. “We don’t want to risk them getting out again,” she continued. “But he has other work he needs to do too, and it’s coming to the point where having them there and accessible is more of a liability than a help.”

I could see where she was going. “So you want to end them?”

She nodded.

“I think you should do it. If they have nothing of use to offer you, do not risk keeping them around.”

“You’re sure you don’t mind…”

“Mollis! As far as we all knew, you killed them once already. It did not pain me any then, and it certainly will not pain me now. Even less so, this time around.”

She studied me. “Do you want to be there when they end? Do you want to say anything to them?”

“I have nothing to say to them. If you would like me to be there, I have no problem doing that.”

“They’re your sisters, E,” Mollis said softly.

“They are traitors. I have seen the things they have done. I feel no loss or pity for them, only regret that they have failed so completely in what they were created to do.” I paused, changing my mind and deciding to say what I intended to say earlier. “Speaking of familial traitors,” I began, and Mollis shook her head. “Have you made any headway with your mother and aunt?”

She did not want to believe it possible of either of them. Truly, neither did it. But Furies are not above petty backstabbing and other betrayals. It had already happened once, with the third Fury, Alecto, whose name was no longer spoken; everyone, especially the Furies, wished they could make it so that she had never existed at all.

Alecto had betrayed her sisters, Hades, and, most of all, Mollis. She had worked directly with the demon Astaroth, Nain’s oldest enemy, to get to Mollis. It had all ended badly, with Nain dying in the mortal realm. Mollis’s blood in his veins, thanks to the demon marriage bond they’d performed, had been the only reason he had resurrected in the Nether. Like many beings who had been imprisoned in Tartarus, Alecto was now trapped in the Nether, the gateway between the worlds having been destroyed by Mollis and then permanently closed by Mollis’s grandmother, Nyx, who was the Creator of everything known to man and god alike.

“I’m keeping an eye on it.”

I repressed a sigh, but she felt my irritation anyway. “We’re not all as uncomplicated as you are, E. I know. You just want me to break in and be done with this.”

“Obviously,” I answered. “Obviously, I want you to do that so we actually know something instead of guessing. You need to get into their minds, Mollis. Do you really want to keep going on this way?”

“Are we already falling apart here, E?” she asked me quietly.

“I am not the one falling apart,” I said, looking her squarely in the eye. “You know there is nothing I would not do to help you. You know this. So take what I am about to say in the light it is meant: you need to stop being so soft about this. You need to get into their minds and have this question answered.”

She sighed. “I know.” Her shoulders slumped, and she looked up at the night sky. We’d walked out of the church, and were standing on the front steps. “I don’t want to just force my way in, E. I do that when I have to, and if we can’t figure this out, then I’ll do it. But this is my family.”

“It is tearing you up inside, wondering which one, or if both, betrayed you,” I reminded her, and she nodded.

“It is. You haven’t had that done to you, though, have you? Had someone break into your mind?”

I shook my head.

“It’s an assault. An invasive, violent, terrifying assault. The only way I can explain it that truly expresses how wrong it is is that it’s like mental rape. I have done that. I have broken my way into people’s minds, back before I inherited my father’s powers. Now, there’s no need, except for these cases in which I’m trying to uncover what has been hidden from us,” she said with a grimace. “This is my family, E,” she stressed again. “My mother. My aunt. I don’t want to do that to them. Not unless I have strong evidence to suggest that it needs to be done. Because if I’m wrong, and I do that to them… there’s no way to come back from that.”

We stood in silence for several long moments. “And I know that our theories point to it being at least one of them, because of the missing memories in the lost souls and your sisters. I am being careful. But you also recommended that I look at every possibility before leaping to the conclusion that it had to be one of them, remember?”

“Yes,” I said. “You know, you could ask them to let you into their minds,” I said.

“If it comes to that,” Mollis said. “I will.”

She had closed up on me, which I knew meant that our conversation was over. She would not budge on this, and I did not know how to make her see that she was only making it more difficult on herself. The illogical nature of the way she was about her family truly baffled me.

“Well. As I said before. If you desire to end my sisters, please feel free to do so. I have no remorse for traitors,” I said.

“Touché, E,” Mollis said wryly. “You think I’m weak.”

I shook my head. “Not that. Never that. I just hope you do not end up regretting the loyalty and respect you are giving them. They may not both deserve it.”

“That makes two of us, E,” Mollis said softly. Then she disappeared, most likely returning to her palace in the Netherwoods to be with her mate and children.

I stood there alone for a few moments longer, and looked up at the night sky, at the puffy clouds passing over the tiny sliver of a moon. For just a moment, I felt my wings flex under my leather coat.

But of course, they hadn’t. It was the memory of wing movement, the phantom remainders of what it had been like to be able to soar.

These were the times I needed it most. These were the times I needed to feel free and weightless, just for a few moments.

My mind flashed back to that day in Tokyo. My New Guardians and I had believed ourselves to be tracking prey, tracking a soul that had eluded us. We had made our way into one of the love hotels in Tokyo, and found ourselves beset by too many enemies, including two of my sisters.

Memories passed through my mind, images I would not likely forget.

My New Guardians, lying weak and injured.

The bodies of the goddesses of autumn and winter, chests ripped open, their hearts taken from them.

My wing, falling, torn and bloody, to the filthy floor.

I shook my head and closed my eyes, trying to will the images away.

It was not just the fact that I missed flying. It was the knowledge that I was now less than I should be. That I was not fully able to do the things I knew I should be able to. I had always considered myself to be a fairly even-keeled being, especially for an immortal. But the emotions that had stormed through me since waking a few weeks ago and realizing my wings were gone, for good… those were things I had not expected. I was, at turns, depressed, angry, mournful.

Frankly, it was irritating.

I forced my gaze down, away from where I longed most to be, reminding myself that I had a ridiculous shifter to reprimand. And Artemis’s cooking to suffer through.

* * *

Just four more days!! Also, Friday’s newsletter will have the first installment of SHIFTED FATE, the next HIDDEN novella, so I hope you’ll check that out as well!