What’s the Real Story? #writing #writers

Story

Normally I don’t share much about my Prankster Duo, namely because they believe its equivalent to sharing naked baby in the sink (or on the rug) pictures. Yet, this particular happening had me thinking about what writing really means to me.

Here’s the background:  One of my friends is mom to one of their friends. This young man matches the Prankster Duo in their love all things electronic. But where mine find their artistic outlet in audio/visual for one, and mechanical design for the other, their friend finds his in writing.

His mom, knowing I write, asked if I would take the time to talk to him.

Um, sure? I know all about being a teenage writer, but I was a girl, and well, teenage boys are still a strange creature to me (and I have two). But writing recognizes no boundaries, so yes, I could share some writing tips.

Actually, she persisted, do you mind sharing with him why you write?

Okay, that’s pretty personal, but she’s my friend and her son is a sweetie, so I’m sure I can manage it. Of course, considering her question, I had to ask, Why?

Beacuse he feels maybe something is wrong with him, because he made the mistake of sharing something he wrote with a friend who told him he was weird.

Okay, but writers are weird, it’s why we write people. So yeah, I can let him know he’s not alone out there. So the next time the boyos were hanging out, I invited him and his mom to my writer cave. First I had to figure out where he was in the process (900 pages of world building/character development/possible story arcs).

*blinking* Ooookkkaaay. *deep breath* Instead of diving into do you know who your characters are? What story are you trying to tell? What are they facing that’s so interesting that you have to share this story? I decided to change tactics.

Do you know what a story bible is? (Nope). Let me show you. So began a show and tell of how to organize your worlds/characters/story arcs into a cohesive whole with an acutal story bible I created before Scrivner stepped into my life. Then I showed him all the magic that is Scrivner.

We chatted about story development, character motivation, I shared a couple of workbooks so he could get it coralled. Then, I decided to broach the real concern behind his mom’s intentions. So, you’re friends think your stories are weird. (Uncomfortable shrug, and a mumbled explaniation that’s it just what’s in his head).

I wanted to hug him, but that would cause a major embarrassment meltdown. Instead, I shrugged back. “You know what, those stories, they’re yours. You tell them the way you see them in your head and don’t you worry about what anyone is going to think about you. Here’s the thing, every writer uses their stories to explore aspects of things they’re feeling/dealing with. It doesn’t mean, that the murder mystery writer is out there plotting someone’s death, but they will delve into what true rage may make a the average joe do. I do dark urban fantasy. My characters aren’t skipping through roses and riding unicorns. Generally they’re the ones hunting the unicorns. My characters are not smiles and sunlight. No one is always smiles and sunlight.”

By this point, he’s actually paying attention, no signs of his previous embarassment. So I kept going.

“The story in your head is real to you because you’re trying to explore something you’re feeling and to do that you’ve created a character who can do that safely. In the end, when your story is done, maybe you’ll have figured out what was tweaking at you. It doesn’t make you weird, it just means you’re a writer.”

He smiled, reilef visble to both his mom and me.

Afterwards, my own words stuck around. Wish someone had shared the same thing with me when I was younger.

I started writing at twelve when I moved in with my mom and dad after escaping a sexually/physically abusive situation. My mom handed me a journal telling me it was somewhere I could keep what was running through me head in. So I did. In those pages I would spill all my darkest thoughts, purging them onto paper, while in reality I had to learn not to be a people pleaser, to fight for my own wants/needs and not back down. On printed paper, I raged, I fought, I won. Each and every time.

None of my stories had normal, happy characters. Each had something they were struggling with–circumstances, emotional pitfalls, something. It took awhile for me to accept that these stories were mine to share because in the end, my character rage, fight and win. Every time.

And that’s why I write.

Dai’s Dark Valentine Swings by for a little love… #newreads #pnr

Everyone welcome the talented, Dariel Raye, as she brings along her wild, magical tale of historical love with Dai’s Dark Valentine… 

Don’t forget to join in her Rafflecopter Giveaway
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“Dai’s Dark Valentine” by Dariel Raye

Blurb

What happens when a sheltered cat-shifter and a dark fey come together?

Three-hundred years is a long time, but left to its own devices, what began as the vendetta of one man can grow to encompass even more formidable hatred.

Daitre Salons is a beautiful but naïve heiress whose true heritage has been kept secret even from her. Now, her abilities are emerging and her father’s enemies want her dead, but what bothers her most is that her new husband “in name only” insists on treating her like a child.

Joban Beaucoup, professional guard to the Salons family, and dark fey (alternate spelling from Vodouin origin), has chosen to leave the quaint yet suffocating French town of his orphan-childhood and venture to the Americas, but he needs one thing he cannot concoct, despite his magical abilities – a wife.

When Joban agrees to marry Daitre and take her to the Americas with him, he carries her three-thousand miles away, then whisks her three-hundred years into the future to assure her safety, but while Daitre struggles to adjust to this strange new world, manage her newfound powers, and make peace with her feelings for Joban, Joban learns that even here, their enemies have followed them, now more deadly than ever.

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Excerpt

New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A. – Present

Daitre instinctively wrapped her arms around Joban’s neck, wonder overshadowing every other thought and emotion.

Before she could blink, he slid her arms from him and took a step back. She blinked again and glanced around, the environment too strange for comprehension. What seemed like millions of images flashed around her synapses at once.

She closed her eyes again and did her best to ignore the rocks in her stomach, but the feeling of rejection would not go away. She’d over-stepped. He made it clear he did not want to be touched. Apparently he’d meant what he said about their marriage being a union in name only, and God alone knew where he’d brought her.

The magical orb resurfaced in her mind and she watched Joban in awe. She’d always known he was a time bender, and he’d even flashed her from one place to another before, but his particular species of fey were so rare, she’d never met another, and no matter what she thought she knew, experiencing the phenomenon was no less overwhelming and amazing.

Everything seemed to happen in a flash, glimpses of familiar and unfamiliar things slowly registering as the light faded. Joban told her they were in The Americas, the United States of America to be exact, three-hundred years in the future, the twenty-first century, and he began showing her odd clothing.

“Things are very different here and now, Daitre. You will need to adjust as fast as possible. I got these for you after your father told me your size. They will take some getting used to, but dressing is much easier in this century, I imagine.”

“What part of America are we in?”

“We are in a place called New Orleans, Louisiana. I should have family here, and so should you.” He waved across his left hand and a picture appeared.

“This is a map of the United States. We are here,” he said, pointing to the bottom tip of Louisiana.

Daitre frowned.

“What is it, Princess?”

She placed her hands on her hips and folded her arms. “The picture in your hand. That’s something else I did not know you could do.”

“And why does this trouble you?”

She waved him away, the frown morphing into a scowl as she raised her voice. “I do not know. You are all I have, yet I know nothing about you for certain. I find it very troubling.”

He sighed, but otherwise said nothing.

Daitre fingered her gown and glanced warily at the pants, dresses, and other garments he’d purchased. All of her beautiful things were left behind – gowns, jewels, everything left in Monsieur Beaucoup’s carriage.

She wrapped her arms around her midsection. “No.”

“’No,’ what?” His ominous tone did nothing to help the situation.

“No, I will not wear those. They are the garments of a harlot, and all of my things have been left in another place and time.”

 

About the AuthorDariel Raye profile

Dariel Raye writes powerful IR/MC (Interracial/Multi-cultural) paranormal romance and dark urban fantasy with alpha male heroes to die for, and strong heroines with hearts worth winning. Her stories tell of shifters, vamps, angels, demons, and fey (the Vodouin variety).

For more about Dariel, follow her blog or website. She also publishes a new release newsletter and daily newspaper. You can contact her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Stay with us for the entire launch tour. Click the link below to join the Facebook party and view the tour calendar!

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Would Any Other Name Really Smell As Sweet? #titles #writers

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Good ol’ Billy Shakespeare lamented, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Yeah, Billy Boy, I have to disagree. Names are important, like REALLY important when you’re a writer.  Even more so, when you’re about to name your prodigy in printed form.

Writers will generally agree on some of their most dispised aspects of story crafting:

The synopsis

The blurb

The 25 word tag (or 125 or anything less than the 300+ pages they’ve already written)

The outline

But coming up with that perfect title? Does it just arrive in a chorus of angelic “ahhhs” surrounded by a soft, beautiful light so blinding in its brillance?

Can’t speak for the rest of you out there, but for me–I so wish.

Only once did a title come before I started a book, Shadow’s Soul. Not sure why, it just snapped into place. The rest? Yeah, they haven’t come quietly.

I’m in the midst of PSY-IV book 2 which follows Tag and Risia. I’ve known they’d be the second story since the first time Cyn snickered at Tag about his reaction to Risia in HUNTED BY THE PAST, but its title? Well, I think it was touring the rain forests of Borneo.

Titles are important. You don’t want it to get lost among all the others. You want it to stand out and lure innocent readers into exploring its pages. You don’t want to get confused with another story with the same name. If its part of a series, there’s a naming convention to follow so the series is easily recognizable. And you have to ensure it’s attraction level stays high without boring-so no long worded titles, you have, what? .3 seconds to snag a reader? If you’re title’s too long, you’ve lost them and they’re moving to the next book on the shelf.

So many things go into such a small part of your story. It can make a writer cry.

I’m not sure what other writers do in this situation but I will sit down and try to juggle one word descriptors about the main story concepts like I’m trying to crack a safe. I make lists of possibly titles, let it stew, go out and see how many hits each combination will pull up in bookstores.  That list will grow, get abused and battered, and simmer for weeks.  Then, for no apparent reason whatsoever, the title will finally step forward (probably because the others, tired of being punished for its reticence have pushed it forward). And, viola, I have a title.

I’ve been down this road many times, so PSY-IV book 2’s title has been simmering for months…like before I sent HUNTED BY THE PAST off for edits. And just recently it finally clicked–the key concepts of the story, the naming convention for the series, into a title. And because I’ve survived another bout with titling, I give you the second installment of the PSY-IV Teams: Touched By Fate.

 

Balancing on the Marketing Wire for Writers #marketing #writing

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With five books under my belt (four in print, the fifth currently in eformat, with print scheduled in May 2015), learning the ins and outs of marketing as a writer has been hit or miss for four years. It hasn’t been an easy road by any stretch of the imagination (and I’ve got a wild one). I’ve interacted with a number of authors, both those just stepping into the arena and those who’ve managed to survive numerous rounds, and despite all the conversations out there on what marketing should be for a writer, what actually works, is the same thing that works when you sit down to craft a story—the solution is uniquely yours, crafted by you, for you, and works for you.

When you first start writing, you believe your biggest obstacle is just finishing the story. Then it’s getting it published. Once you’re published, you’re set, right? Um, no, not anymore, if that was ever the case. Once you actually sign that contract, then the work really begins. Now, not only do you need to produce another story, but you have to get your current one out there, shoving it in front of the right audience, making sure people stop and pick it up, maybe even take it home. And how do you do this?

I’m an introvert by nature (and dare I say, so are most writers since we all live in our heads?). So the idea of actually *gasp* talking to people about my books just abouts set loose the ravages of a panic attack. Knowing this before I even signed my name on any dotted line, I donned the armor of a pen name. (Of course since my actual last name can never, EVER be spelled right, kind of contributed to that decision as well). This gave me a buffer between me and me, the writer. With a minor in theater, it’s not hard to step into the Writer role when I have a name to go with it.

With Jami firmly in placed, I stepped into the marketing ring. I had no idea there were so many options, but I tried many of them:

Website?  Check  Twitter?  Check  Facebook? Check…now hold on, a page to interact personally and an Author Page? Um, okay, check, check

Pinterest? Yep.  Google+? Yep. Amazon Author page? Yep. Goodreads? Yep.

Blog hops?  Massively checked for years 1-3

Interviews? Yep, did those whereever I could, not just web, but radio, magazines, you name it, I tried it. And then I turned it around in 2013 and each month I interviewed some really well known authors. And may I say, they were so awesome to take time to come visit with me.

Paid advertising? All over the damn place, every electronic ‘zine dedicated to readers, I was handing over my credit card number. Books lists? Tried those.  Monthly ads? Yearly ads? Parties? Yep, all of those

Actually promo materials–bookmarks, banners, postcards, gift baskets, giftcards, calendars? Oh yeah, for every blog hop, you had an equal opprotunity for giving away print copies, e-copies, or giftcards. I used that. Donations? Auctions? Yep did those as well.

Conferences? Did a couple small ones, then jumped into the big pool at RT last year, complete with book signing adventure as well.

Contests? Yep, but I try to pick with care on those.

Utilizing local libraries? Yep, do that.

And you know what? I couldn’t tell you what works, because I haven’t found the right combination yet. Depressing, uh? It’s hard to take, but I wouldn’t trade the learning expierence either.

Now, it’s 2015 and since I just paid off RT 2014 and my life has altered drastically in the last few months, conferences are not happening for me this year (while I’ve got fingers crossed for one in 2016), I’ve had to re-evaluate where I should place my time and money.  Like most writers, I have bills to pay, a family to feed, and, even more demanding, a day job. Most writers have these–family, school, work, life, and because writing is our passion and art, money isn’t coming in by the truckloads. Not the first year, sometimes not even in year five. So what do you do? Do you give up and say, “Well, I can’t quit my day job, so I guess I’m done”?

Not if this is what you have to do. For me, story telling feeds my creative soul. If I starve it, everything and everyone around me suffers. But the one thing that’s always stuck with me, was something Bob Mayer (and many others) have said about being a sucessful writer–write more stories.

My decision by way of marketing for this year are pretty simple:

1. Focus on what will eventually sell me, two more books. Ensure I’m upping my craft with each novel. Challenge myself to take stories to the unexpected, or focus on characters I’d shy away from.

2. Keep my time on social media to a set amount each day.  For now, I share interesting articles and tidbits. Otherwise, I’ve got my weekly blog.

3. Be very picky in who and where I choose to advertise. Will it reach my audience?

4. And this year, most of my money will go to redesigning my website.

Who knows, maybe I’ll dive back into the social media storm now and then, but for now, my readers deserve well crafted stories, and who am I to argue?

 

 

Time…sweet, sweet, time… #writinglife #writing

We’ve officially survived the first month of a new year. Everyone make it through? All limbs attached? *two arms-check, two legs-check, head-little wobbly, brain—-brain? BRAIN? Great we have a runner!*

We’ve settled nicely into the new shack. Enough so that I’m finding it easier to write at home, rather than ditching the males and heading to a coffee shop. It’s keeping my caffeine spending down, which is a plus. Of course, my coffee maker is working overtime.

Shadow’s Curse, the fourth book in the Kyn Kronicles, is now out and ready to be taken home. Just be careful, Natasha can be a bit…um…difficult, even if Darius is trying to keep tabs on what she’s up to.

I’m happy to share that the second book in the PSY-IV Series is well underway. I even gave my ever patient editors a *gulp* deadline. Word counts are being pounded out, almost daily, and the struggle to keep the job that pays the bills to a low 45 hour week, seems to be working.

Of course to accomplish that feat, I had to put my foot down. Especially since directly after the holidays my work week spiked to 60 hours. Part of it was I had this very nifty, very complex report I was creating from scratch. Not just the data, but how to represent it, and Excel and I are not besties. However, after weeks of slugging through COUNTIF formulas and repeatedly telling my sons, “You know how I said you won’t use Algebra later? Um, yeah, I lied. Go do your homework!”, the report emerged in all its beautiful splendor to many accolades. And I was only a little battered and bruised.

You think it would be easy to set some boundaries between your professional and personal lives. Well, unless you’re like me. I’ve been holding a job since I was fourteen (twelve if we start with paid babysitting) and the work ethic I had drilled into my psyche meant you did your job in such a way you exceeded expectations. I don’t think back in the semi-stone ages, anyone had a clue how we’d be electronically linked to our jobs 24/7, 365. Maybe then the ethic would be “Do your job, then unplug”. Now, it’s more common clock out, be home with family, only to have to answer the email/phone call that interrupts family time or personal quiet me time after seven.

That’s not an easy thing to break. Even harder when your position used to be done by more than one person, and now it’s all you.

Now toss in something, like say, writing, and boy howdy you better watch out. Writing, even though it’s a joy, it still requires a dedicated time commitment. One you have to carve out of an already limited clock. I’ve had many people ask how I get two 300 plus page books written a year, hold a job, and my family. And more importantly, why do it in the first place?

My answer: Because for all the sacrifices, I love writing. I sit my ass in a chair five nights a week while my boys (hubby and sons) venture off into their virtual worlds on epic journeys and I create my own adventures. For roughly two hours. I won’t let myself read a book or watch any of my favorite shows until I have pounded out my words. I’d love nothing more than to curl up and read for hours on end after work, but it’s just not going to happen. Not if I want to tell the stories in my head. I make myself stick to my schedule, get two books into my two editors each year so I can release one Kyn book and one PSY-IV book each year. If I do well and time it right, I manage to get a month off in-between. Then it’s all about the stuff I’ve put off or the shows crowding my DVR. Much like others will go train for that marathon, or play with a band on their weekend nights, I write.

So how do you all do it? Are you creatures of routine or have you found the magic formula that let’s you do it all?

Writing outside the plot box… #writingtips

We’ve all heard the term, “Think outside the box”, what about writing outside the plot box?

Here’s the thing, there’s a sense of safety by staying within the structure of a pre-determined plot. You’ve done your pre-writing work, you have your characters, their motivations, their history, you’ve got your first third, second third, and last third of your plot set, you know where the darkest moment exists, and how your protag triumphs and grows. You are now ready to rock this story…

Until the unthinkable happens…the story goes off the rails.

Wails of agony and gnashing of teeth ensues. You may even toss the computer you so loved a few weeks/months earlier out the nearest window, uncaring of the replacement costs. How dare your story do this! The path was clear, this was NOT SUPPOSE TO HAPPEN.

Now what is the poor, beleaguered  writer to do?

Go with it, follow those rails and see where they lead. You might discover the shiny rock you thought was the diamond, is nothing but cubic zirconia.  The real story diamond was hiding down on the left, just past the avalanche of sub-plots and hidden character motivations. That teasing sparkle, that’s the one that’s going to take your story to a new level, and maybe, just maybe take the writer along with it. That one niggling thing that wasn’t quite working, it now all makes sense. That gnarly knot keeping things murky and hollow, you’ve found that one move that lays it out in a beautiful complex pattern.

One of the best things about being a writer, is finding these hidden traps in your own writing. The journey to escape them adds layers to your writing, and who can complain about a story with unexpected depths?

*whispering behind my hand* I don’t think any of your readers will.

Viva imagination, honor those unexpected paths and let your characters led you, you might like what’s at the end.

 

Why Outlining is Not in my Future… #writingtips

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Previously I did a post regarding writing rules and I mentioned they were not my friends. Let me introduce you to the one that drives me the most crazy, the one I’ve had to part ways with if I want to remain a partially sane writer–the outline.

Now, there are many, many writers who swear by this medival torture device, but you won’t find me joining in. I started my writing career as a pantser, someone who writes by the seat of their pants. By the third book of the Kyn (Shadow’s Moon) I realized I’d need a map of sorts to keep my world structure stable. I decided to outline.

Um yeah, that worked…kind of. I could give myself some help direction wise, as long as I have the major story points identified, I’m good. But if I take it deeper and begin to outline chapter by chapter I found I’d write myself into dead ends and get frustrated.

I can hear you all now, why? Outlines should help your story just roll along.

*shakes head sadly* Not for me, unfortunately. Instead of helping me, an outline tends to kill those unexpected creative sparks that send my characters in a direction I never expected, or my story down roads I didn’t even know existed.  For some odd reason, if I plot out the major player moves, I become bored. And let’s be honest, if the writer is bored, the reader isn’t even going to get through page 2.

Instead I focus on my characters and what’s motivating them. I need to know, why these characters, why their story now? What is going on in their lives right now that makes their story the one I have to write? An outline won’t help me with that.

In quiet desperation I’ve had to go back and admit I must stay a pantser. So now working on the second PSY-IV Team book, I’ve nixed the outline I had all pretty and ordered from early last year and just started where it works for me–with a general idea of my characters and what challenges they’ll face.

Freed from the restrictions of a pre-determined outline, now my story can take me to the unexpected places, the ones where a truly intriguing story is born.

For those asking what my post’s point is, it’s this–if you’re a writer, don’t feel like you have to follow a rule that doesn’t work for you. We have tons of rules to pick from. Pick the ones that work, disregard the rest. Part of what makes creativity work is the ability to forget the rules and follow that spark to see where it takes not just you, but your audience as well.

New Release: SHADOW’S CURSE hits shelves Jan. 17th! #UF #newread

It’s here! SHADOW’S CURSE is now available, and if you haven’t picked up your copy, go…go…go!

This is the fourth installment in my Kyn Kronicles from Black Opal Books, so if you’re looking for an edge of the seat ride, hop on in and hang on…

Shadows Curse Cover

SHADOW’S CURSE: BOOK 4 OF THE KYN KRONICLES

Beauty is a treacherous bitch, and her name is Natasha.

Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

As the leader of the Amanusa, Natasha Bertoi thrives on chaos, but when tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving bodies and betrayal in its wake, not even she is prepared for the fallout. With Northwest houses in an uproar and the Wraiths hungry for blood, all her carefully laid plans are put to the test as she wards off the greedy clutches of the ruling Kyn Council. Her plans and pawns are moving along nicely, until he joins the game.

Whispers of treachery draw Darius Abazi to the Northwest in search of justice honed with vengeance. After years of protecting the Council and its secrets he harbors no illusions on how lies can be twisted into truth. As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, he faces off with the beautiful, but manipulative Natasha to uncover the mastermind behind it all.

 

Available January 17th in eBook and Print at:  AMAZON / BARNES AND NOBLE / BLACK OPAL BOOKS / iBOOKS

READ AN EXCERPT

Present Day, Deep in the Taurus Mountains in Turkey…

Darkness spread its opaque cloak over the cobbled paths winding between the stone buildings while silence crouched and waited. In this small corner, goats walked streets too narrow for cars, and the human inhabitants were tucked inside their humble homes. Inside the inky confines of a rustic alley, a figure slipped from the shadows and through the unlocked wooden door of one of the homes.

“You’re late, Darius.” The sharp greeting came from the man lounging with casual elegance among the jewel festooned pillows on one of the low-slung couches.

“And you’re in a pisser of a mood, Zayn.” Unfazed by the rude welcome, Darius snagged an olive from the table. Popping it into his mouth, he grabbed an empty cup and poured a drink. Taking a handful of olives and his cup, he walked across the lush, overlapping rugs and sprawled on the other sofa. He studied Zayn as he chewed, taking in the overly long white shirt paired with sand-colored linen pants. Despite his sun-streaked blond hair and the small abode’s rich haven of comfort, Zayn still managed to convey a Middle Eastern flare.

“Until we find out who is behind Mulcahy’s death, I don’t see that changing.” Zayn lifted his own cup, his sleeve fluttering with the movement. “What did you find out?”

Darius chased the olives’ lingering salty tartness away with a quick sip and wiped his fingers against the dark denim covering his thigh, before answering. “We were right to question the account received from the Northwest Kyn. There is more to the story than they are sharing.” And he intended to uncover just what that ‘more’ entailed.

Zayn’s lips twisted into a grimace. “No surprise there. No way would Natasha cough up the whole story.”

No, the little demon queen was too intelligent to show her hand to the Council. It didn’t stop the whispers though. “There are rumors she could be behind his death.” And if the rumors were true, Darius would ensure she’d be facing someone much more dangerous than the Kyn’s Council.

“I thought they shared a history.”

Darius gave his companion a dark frown and shrugged his shoulders. “Shared history doesn’t mean shit when power is on the line. Mulcahy’s death created some damn explosive opportunities. She’s grabbing as many as she can. What does that tell you?”

“She’s an intelligent woman?”

Zayn’s quip drew a snort from Darius. “Of that, I have no doubt. She didn’t get to her current position on looks alone.”

“No, she’s not one to let emotional attachments get in the way of her plans.” His tone as dry as the winds of summer, Zayn advised, “Be careful that she doesn’t return you and your ego in nice, bloody pieces.”

Leaning back, Darius stretched his arms across the back of the couch, confident in his appeal to the fairer sex. He’d been described as a study of shadows. From his olive-toned skin to his dark, shoulder-length hair and closely trimmed goatee, the description was warranted. The only unsettling bit of color was his eyes—ice-cold blue ringed in fiery red. A deep chuckle escaped. “Would you miss me?”

“You?” Zayn shrugged. “Not so much. But there might be few others with a different opinion.” Humor bled away, a startling seriousness taking its place. “This change. It’s been hundreds of years in the making. Unfortunately, Mulcahy’s death has accelerated things. If they aren’t handled correctly, the outcome could be extremely detrimental to our goals.”

“I haven’t forgotten.” Hard to forget when the line they walked was razor thin.

A small nod. “We won’t be welcomed.”

Darius’s smile was anything but friendly. “Their welcome is not my worry. Nor should it be yours.”

“Don’t underestimate them. Ryan Mulcahy was not the only reason the Northwest Kyn have become who they are.”

“Yet, he’s the one who held them together.” A fact that someone out there knew all too well, or Mulcahy wouldn’t be dead. Darius’s hand tightened into a fist, his knuckles showing white through his skin as he fought back the grim wave of fury and grief.

“Perhaps. But he hasn’t done it alone.” Zayn paused. “Do they know about you?”

They could apply to so many—the Council, the Northwest Kyn, the one’s behind Mulcahy’s death—but in this instance Darius knew which they was implied. They were the Northwest’s Wraiths, a shadowy group of warriors, standing between the American public and the nightmares haunting the dark. “No. They know only what they need to.” And until he discovered who was playing for whom, it would remain that way.

Zayn rubbed a hand over his clean-shaven chin. “The potential for a shitstorm is tremendous.”

“There’s no ‘potential’ about it.” Too much was at stake to walk delicately now. “Mulcahy’s death changed the game. Without him, there is no one left to bridge the emerging division of the Council. Sides will be picked. We need to stack the odds in our favor.” Odds that had shifted with one violent act.

Zayn raised his cup in silent agreement. For a few minutes, quiet reigned. He broke it with, “Did DiMarcco give you your orders?” When Darius remained mute, Zayn gave a small smile of acknowledgement. “Our esteemed leader won’t admit to worry. Instead, he and the rest of the Council will couch it in false concern and empty platitudes. Yet they are watching and waiting. Will Mulcahy’s Kyn will rise or fall?” He slowly rolled the cup cradled in his hands. “Of course, it would not surprise me if some are trying to assist their desired outcome.”

Council maneuverings were a given, especially as current events threatened to tear the last threads from the fragile veil hiding the Kyn from mortal view. Some on the Council weren’t opposed to the impending revelation, so long as their agenda succeeded. “Dissension is an insidious ploy. It can turn on a whim. Many are unprepared for what they wrought.” A lesson Darius had watched more than one learn the hard way. “I don’t think the outcome will be what anyone expects.”

“Still, tread carefully. The path isn’t as clear as it once was, and I would not put it past the high-and-mighty Council to offer you up should a scapegoat be needed.”

“Or you,” Darius drawled.

Zayn sighed then raised his cup in a silent toast. “I’m going to miss the bastard. He was bloody brilliant. His people should prove interesting.”

“If nothing else, they will make our visit all the more entertaining.” A predatory grin broke across Darius’s face, while anticipation hummed under his words.

 

Available in eBook and Print now at:  AMAZON / BARNES AND NOBLE / BLACK OPAL BOOKS / iBOOKS

 

Jami Gray Small

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams.  She is surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and a male lab, who masquerades as a floor rug as she plays with the voices in her head.

Come stalk Jami at any of these fine locations:

Website  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  /  Goodreads  /  Google+  /  Amazon

 

When To Dump Those Writing Rules #writing #breaktherules

Everything we do has rules, right? And writing has a PLETHORA of rules.  Write what you know. Do your research. You must have an outline. Your characters must have depth. You must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Don’t headhop. Don’t…don’t…do…do…

A writer could get lost in the rules. Hell, the rules can wrap your muse in tight bonds and drag them down in the deep dark abyss of rules, leaving the writer questioning every word they write.

I will never claim to be an expert on writing. I basically take the stories running around creating havoc in my head and put them to paper, hoping my readers will get lost in my weird worlds. Yet I was chatting with another writer friend of mine and came to a startling realization–the rules and I must part ways.

I do writer conferences to learn new things, things other authors have found successful, things that maybe I can mimic for my own success. But, I’ve had to admit, some rules just aren’t for me.

I’ve been making up stories forever, and I never once paid attention, consciously, to any writing rules. Not until I started putting things into print. At first, the rules helped keep me from dropping off into the deep end of the writing world. These basic rules helped me refine my stories, polishing them until they were presentable for readers.

Now, when I’m working on my sixth full length novel, I’ve realized the rules are starting to dull my muse. They’re luring me into a cookie cutter formula for writing, and that is a death knell for any writer. No writer worth their ink wants to become predictable. So what to do?

I’ve had to drown out the lingering voices of “do this, don’t do this” and replace it with “let the story tell itself” or “let your characters be free”, which is harder than it sounds. It’s easy to get lost in the clamor of what to do to be a great writer, just hang on to why you sat down in the first place, let your heart’s ink bleed on to paper, and tell your story….

The Almost Kiss, part of the Almost Kiss, No Kiss blogfest #nokissblogest #shadowscurse

Almost_Kiss__in_Black___White_by_AshsAshsAlFalDwn

Let’s start the new year off right. Today we’re taking part in the Almost Kiss, No Kiss blog fest.  You know what I’m talking about…that scene you read that gets your pulse racing, anticipation firing numerous warning shots, but instead of the expected follow through, the scene veres to left or right or a completely unknown path. That’s what we’re celebrating and you can join by clicking on the picture above to find more heart pounding near kisses, or the link here:

No Kiss Blog Fest

As January 17th is almost around the corner, I thought I’d share a peek into the fourth Kyn installment, SHADOW’S CURSE before it debuts. May I give you Natasha and Darius….

Shadows Curse CoverNatasha stopped in front of the fire and the minor question disappeared like smoke. Those slim shoulders dropped, and she dragged a hand through her white-blonde curtain of hair, leaving it a tumbled mess. One his fingers itched to dive into. She turned her head, the firelight lining her profile with dancing shadows. Unexpected lust spiraled through Darius, his body hardening.

Her lips held a soft curl. “Are you going to watch me all night?”

He blinked as her question sank in. Releasing his hold on the concealing shadows, he faced her. “How long?”

Those blue eyes deepened into an inky mystery as they traveled over his loose, low-slung pants and bare chest. He reacted to the caress of her gaze as if it was a physical touch. His blood running hot and thick, need coming up on point. When their stares finally locked, he found an answering desire flickering in her depths. Her pink tongue swept out over her bottom lip. A nervous tic or deliberate provocation? Did it really matter?

“Before I dialed Rio.” Her voice was a husky rasp.

It took his brain a second to catch up. He gave himself a metaphoric head slap. Get your head in the game, ass! He prowled closer until he stood inches from her. She held her position, her face in profile above her shoulder, watching him from under those thick, dark lashes. Her unique fragrance of night blooming jasmine laced with feminine heat drifted to him. Keeping his hands at his side, he dipped his head and drew the scent deep into his lungs. His mark lay like a faint bruise against her alabaster skin, a temptation he choose not to ignore. He pressed the lightest of kisses to it, inordinately pleased with the rapid rise and fall of her chest. Lifting his head, he held her bemused gaze. “You didn’t give him my name.”

Her throat worked as she swallowed. “Rumors fly faster than light, he may find you out soon.”

“Perhaps.” He searched her face, taking in the light rose under her cheeks, the widening of her eyes and the small pants as she fought for air. He’d like to capture those lips and plunder until she could only breathe what he shared with her. The overly possessive urge had him straightening with a jerk and stepping back. The attraction between them was…uncomfortable.

Under his skin, his demon hissed and clawed, furious at what the man was denying them both. He shook his head sharply. No, fucking this woman would only complicate an already difficult situation. Needing to regain control, he struck out, using the tools at his disposal. “Do you think seducing me will keep you safe?”

She stiffened, then deliberately turned fully towards him with haughty grace. Her rising signs of desire disappeared under a cold, mocking mask, her eyes flashing as her lips curled in contempt. “May I remind you, you invaded my bedroom, Mr. Abazi.” Ice dripped from her words. “Is that normal for one of the Order? Do you normally whore yourself out for the Council?”

Her vicious implication shredded his tenuous control. Before he could rethink the wisdom of his actions, he had her curvy body plastered against his front. Those red tipped nails bit against the skin of his chest, his erection cradled against her stomach while his hand tangled in the platinum mass as he held her captive. “No more than you’d whore yourself for your precious houses,” he growled, before taking her mouth with a barely leashed savagery. No gentleness, only pure lust and need swirling in a savage storm. He ravaged with punishing intent, small bites and rapacious tongue, unwilling to give her room to escape. She met him with equal heat and passion. Hunger began to edge out his fury, allowing him to fill the sting of her nails as they raked against his chest. He loosened his grip, allowing her to yank out of his hold.

He looked down, unsurprised to find bloody gouges scoring his skin. His animalistic side took satisfaction in the sight. He lifted his head in time to catch the tail end of her wiping the back of her hand over her swollen mouth. The wavering image of her demon hovered around her like a barely remembered dream.

She faced him, her hands fisted at her side, chest heaving. “Touch me again, Abazi and I’ll shred your balls into confetti,” she hissed.

He smiled and crossed his arms over his chest, ignoring his still seeping wounds. “Challenging me isn’t in your best interests, darling, but you’re welcome to try.”

Those lips thinned and the feral hiss was all that escaped. His smile widened. Rendering her speechless was quite rewarding, but it didn’t last long. Regrettably, she pulled herself together much faster than he liked, the revealing mirage of her demon whisked away, leaving the controlled corporate maven behind. “I have no intention of challenging you.”

He raised an unbelieving eyebrow. “What intentions do you harbor?”

She studied him, her thoughts well shielded. “I intend to uncover who’s setting me up, regardless of who’s pulling the strings.”

“And then?”

Her smile was all predator. “Then, I’ll remind them of what happens to those who go against me.”

“Even if it brings you and yours unwanted attention?” he pushed.

Her chin lifted. “It’s never smart to rattled the cage of a beast you can’t handle. Something someone’s forgotten.”

He titled his head in wry acknowledgement.

She strolled to the door and pulled it open. “Get out.” A tremor ran through the low words. Fury or fear, he wasn’t sure.

Knowing if he pushed her any further, one or both of them would pay for it. Perhaps in flesh and blood. He strolled to the door, only to stop in front of her. He raised a finger and drew it down her pale jaw, impressed when she didn’t visibly react. “You asked Rio a question.”

Stiff and unbending, she held her tongue.

“Would you like an answer?” He caught the flicker of unease she tried to hide. “You are being hunted, Natasha.”

Hope I managed to snag your interest! You can get all of Natasha and Darius’s story January 17th when SHADOW’S CURSE hits shelves.  Until then, go forth and enjoy some really intriguing reads with the Almost Kiss, No Kiss blog fest...