When I entered BROKEN CHORDS into this competition, I had zero expectations. Let's just say I've entered a couple book contests in my day. But, my book took an honorable mention! What a fabulous surprise! As this is a horror novella, I'm extra proud as genre fiction can sometimes get lost in the mix, and I love this book so much. (I know I'm a little biased.)
And don't forget, if you're in the Palm Beach, FL area on February 18th, come see me, four other debut authors, and the legendary R. L. Stine at Palm Beach Peril where we'll be doing a panel presentation followed by a book signing (my FIRST book signing! Squee!) I hope to see you there. Find out more about this event HERE.
Sometimes, in the life of a book, the publisher decides to go back to the drawing board on the cover concept, even if the book hasn't been released yet. And that's what happened to my book, TEN AFTER CLOSING. I loved my old cover, but I LOVE my new cover. The artist is Kevin Tong, and he's FABULOUS!
So, here it is, the new cover for TEN AFTER CLOSING.
Pre-Order TEN AFTER CLOSING: http://bit.ly/TACBAYLS
Here's a little sneak peek for you.
Jeb’s voice ebbed and flowed, his fear growing and sending out seedlings of dread to take root in my own chest. He must have woken the entire camp by now. I fumbled open my tent flap, stumbled outside, and zipped it shut with trembling hands. When I turned around, I knew immediately why no one put a stop to Jeb’s calls.
He wasn’t in the normal world anymore.
Neither was I.
Despite not asking for it, something twisted and bitter in this universe had bestowed it anyway. We’d been transported to the astral plane. The world was bathed in dark beauty, like velvety gauze or some tranquil digital camera filter, making everything hazy and wavery with dim blue-white light. I could actually see the air – or matter or ether or whatever it was--that made up the world around me. When I waved my hand, contrails showed its swishing progress long after I’d ceased movement. Like, whatever I was made of in this form could interact with the very construction material holding this universe together. Or, maybe whatever I was made of in this form was the very construction material of this universe.
“Oh God,” I whispered.
That meant, behind me, within the tent I’d just fled, my body lay prone. Not in sleep, and not a trance. Not dead, but not really alive either.
An empty shell.
I stared at the dark green vinyl before finally getting up the nerve to look inside. My body lay on my air mattress, curled up as if I were merely sleeping. My chest rose and fell as my organs responded to signals from the most primitive part of my brain, which kept the basic functions of human life online even though the system user had abandoned the controls.
I breathed in time with my body. I wasn’t sure if I was really moving air around in my spectral form, but the reflex to carry out the action was strong, and it still felt soothing when I blew what might be nothing out of lungs that probably weren’t there anyway. I took another deep, fake breath and closed my eyes. My brain attempted to point out the ridiculousness of this – how I still felt normal even though I was nothing but a ghost now. A spasm of laughter escaped my throat, but I swallowed it down. If I let my mind think too hard about things like where? and what? and how?, I’d crack. Game over.
Instead, I chanted Jeb’s mantra: “Just go with it.” Then I turned to face the astral plane.
BROKEN CHORDS launches with Leap Books in TWO days! In honor of the release, I'm holding a giveaway for a free copy and some swag.
How did I do it? Juliana Haygert. I asked her EVERY QUESTION YOU COULD IMAGINE about what to do at each step. Twice. And she was immensely patient with this newbie. Seriously, people, I love her. (And if you haven't done so yet, you should read her books because they're super sexy and totally fun.)
So, here we are, re-release day for this little story that I love. I'm so grateful that there's a way for me to bring it back to readers.
Buy your copy of (the NEW & IMPROVED) BREATHLESS right here:
Read a sneak peek of BREATHLESS.
I exhale and watch bubbles float off into the churning blue above me. I draw another breath, except this time, there is no air. My lungs, in all their twenty-seven years of finding no resistance to their whims, of drawing in sweet gulps, huffs, and puffs, meet a wall of stainless steel. With the next try, that wall slams into my diaphragm.
My left hand grasps the air pressure gauge as it bobs and snakes down by my hip. The dial’s needle hovers at a thick black line highlighted in red. Zero pounds per square inch.
I’m seventy feet below the Caribbean Sea, and I’m out of air.
Heavy nausea grabs hold of my gut and throat. I almost spit out the regulator mouthpiece, but reason kicks in. I stop myself just in time.
Don’t panic. Stay calm.
But it’s so hard to follow my own instructions. The warm water cradling my body has no mercy for this tiny, helpless human, and it turns to ice around me, needling my skin with cold until I’m numb. I hold my final breath. Everything in me screams out the wrongness of this. The world on the other side of my mask fuzzes out. My mind will soon follow if I don’t do something. Now.
Remember the training. Just find another diver.
Thank God, one of the instructors is less than ten yards away. My finned feet power me to Dale’s side with five hard kicks. He’s tucking something into a waist bag, and when I thrust my air pressure gauge into his face, at first he jerks away from it. Then his eyes widen as realization hits.
I expect him to immediately reach for his spare regulator, the savior of rubber and metal, my sole hope if I want any fate other than drowning. Instead, he brings his large, strong hands to my face. The honey-gold flecks within his irises glint and flash in what filmy light breaches the yards of water between the surface and my airless lungs. There’s no warmth down here, and I’m out of time.
Dale is my only hope.
I let him capture my face between his palms and hold me with his anchor eyes. My heart beats a fluttery, jerky rhythm, and I count--One. Two-three. Four. Five-six-seven--and wait as though I’m not moments from my death.
As though I have all the time in the world.
But whatever he’s doing, it’s working. I’m calmer. For the first time since I found nothing behind my inhale, my heart beats steady and true. He gives me a firm nod, and I return the gesture.
It’s then, only then, that he unhooks the spare regulator from his dive vest. His other hand comes to the mouthpiece I still clench in my teeth. He brushes his fingers against my lips as he pulls the device free, and I give it up reluctantly even though it’s totally useless. A small, salty flow of water hits my tongue, and I swallow it down—the first of what could turn out to be a whole ocean’s worth if we mess up this maneuver.
Are you a fan of horror, sci-fi, or fantasy? Do you like free stories? Then check out the latest issue of Allegory eZine, including several stories that yours truly was fortunate enough to be assigned, right HERE.
half a dozen times. In it, the main character goes to Hawaii with her friends and they take a standard scuba course. The course that he wrote about was nearly identical to the one I would eventually take in 2000. Because I read the book so many times, and because (like a nerd) I totally memorized the entire class, when I did my first PADI course, I knew all the skills. The instructor was very impressed.
Now let’s fast-forward to 2013 THE DAY of my second dive. That scuba company did NOT go through the entire Padi course, but I still recalled all the skills. So, when I happened to take a nice old breath and there was nothing there—literally nothing, just resistance, like trying to shove a marble pillar with my lungs—I was pulled back into Christopher Pike’s world. The one where Mandy had a problem with her gear and stood up in the pool. Her dive master told her the very words that echoed in my brain when I was under all those feet of water with my last breath quickly dissolving into my blood and no more where that came from: You need to handle emergencies in place, under the water. The solution can’t be to bolt to the surface.
AND, most importantly, I recalled the words, You always have air.
Okay, that was a totally botched quote (my copy of the book is somewhere in my house, but the idea of trying to dig it out sounds as daunting as the idea of pushing a marble pillar with my lungs), but the gist is absolutely accurate.
AND IT SAVED ME. Literally.
I recalled the book and knew I merely needed to find another diver, and luckily they were all around me. Just like Leah in BREATHLESS, I swam to my dive master who was about four kicks away, and showed him my gauge with the needle in the deep red. And just like in BREATHLESS, his response wasn’t to immediately hand me his spare regulator, he first took my face in his hands and peered into my eyes. At the time I was like, Uh, now’s about the time I could use a little spare O2, but later—once I actually had a chance to think about it (and let me tell you, when it hit me what happened, there was a whole lot of holy BLEEP! going on)—I realized, he did that to make sure I wasn’t panicking. To make sure when he handed me that savior of rubber and metal, that I wouldn’t screw the maneuver up and end up breathing in a mouthful of salt water.
And once he was satisfied, he passed me his spare, and all was well. I recalled how to purge my regulator. No problem. That’s just the push of a button. We surfaced, pausing to let our bodies adjust to the pressure change, and I climbed back onto the boat totally and completely fine.
When I think back to that day, fear isn’t the strongest of the two sense memories I have. The first is that feeling of something pushing back when I tried to take a breath. And the second was the way the dive master looked into my eyes. Never have I been more vulnerable, and never again will a stare feel that intense (at least I seriously and truly hope it won’t). The experience has haunted me ever since THE DAY.
What’s a writer to do?
Write a story about it, of course. And the concept for BREATHLESS was born.
So, I dedicated this updated edition of BREATHLESS to two people: my incredible husband, Eric, and Christopher Pike, because without his book, that story, and all the ones I’ve written since, could very well have died along with me in the blue waters of the Caribbean.
"...a great story, exploring the human soul's emotional needs with insight and an exciting touch
of mystery and the paranormal." -- Hilary Hawks for Readers' Favorite
Look for BREATHLESS on May 15th, 2017
Ah! I'm so excited to share this cover for my YA horror novella with Leap Book's SHINE in their Bloody Good Reads series. The book comes out October 2nd, just in time for the Halloween season. I'm always craving spooky, specter-filled books and movies at that time (Can you crave books? Well, I do .) and this one is exactly that. In the words of my Leap editor, Judith Graves, this book is CREEPTASTIC.
They rip, they tear, they FEED, and you never come back again.
Folks who've been following my blog will remember that just a little over a year ago, Three Worlds Press shut its doors. This is always such a hard thing for everyone. Sure, our books revert back to us, but to see them gone from the world and to face the uncertainty of what will happen with them is tough.
I was fortunate to publish a short novella with them, BREATHLESS, I like to call romantic paranormal magical realism. For the last year, I've thought about the story with sadness. Like most authors, I love all my stories, and I really wanted BREATHLESS to be back out in the world.
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