Monday, August 22, 2011

Rough Nights: Share Your Story and Win A Reader Swag Bag

Hi, all,
Those of you who've read Darkness Rising know it starts off with a pretty rough night for the heroine, Lalah Norris. If you haven't read it yet, I'll give you the first couple of lines so you get the picture.

"Lalah awoke in a pool of cold, sticky blood. Her clothes clung to her like a slime second skin, the metallic scent invading her nostrils."

As you can see, Lalah wasn't exactly headed for a stroll down the primrose path.

Anyway, I'd love to hear from you about a rough night you've experienced. College shenanigans, public embarrassment, and faux pas of all kinds are welcome. Just keep it PG, please. From the comments posted, I'll pick the most compelling or funniest story, and that lucky reader will receive a reader swag bag, including a free autographed copy of Darkness Rising and some other goodies!

I'll start it off by telling my own embarrassing tale. When I was in my freshman year of college at St. Augustine's in Raleigh, I was walking with a friend to be inducted into a national honor society. I was wearing a mint green suit, just for the occasion, high heeled shoes( anyone who knows me will tell you I rarely wear heels), and perfectly coiffed hair. Well, as my friend and I passed by a boy's dormitory, a huge black trash bag filled with water was dropped on us from the third floor of the dorm. Needless to say, I went nuts and charged in there, brandishing a shoe. Luckily my friend dragged me away, and we went to the ceremony, damp, but determined to celebrate our academic accomplishments.

So share your pain. After all, we've all been there. I'll choose a winner from the comments and notify them no later than August 31st, and I'll also announce it here on the blog.

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Under the Winter Moon- New Short Story

Hi, all,
This week, I'll be releasing Under the Winter Moon. It's young adult paranormal fiction, and it's a short story. Josephine Lewis, the main character, is a child coming of age at the dawn of the 1980s, in Mississippi. The story is rated PG, so it's fine for all my regular readers plus some newer, younger ones. It will be available on Kindle soon for a mere 99 cents. Just a little something to hold you over until Embrace the Night comes out.

Here's a little sneak peak at Under the Winter Moon.

Mama’s flouncy blue skirts rustled beneath her red cherry print apron as she hustled around the kitchen, trays of food balanced in each hand. Her brown skin glowed under the dim light, from the Vaseline she used to combat dryness. Stopping for a moment, she placed her hands on her hips and stared at me with steely eyes.
“Girl, if you don’t stop staring and help me, I’ll pop you good.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I stood from my spot on the peeling linoleum floor, straightening my own dress. I may have only been eight, but I knew Mama was serious. “What do you want me to do?”
“Well, you can start by sweeping the floor, then dust my knickknacks. And be quick about it,” Mama huffed as she thrust the broom into my hand. “I want you to finish before the New Year come and go.”
It was New Year’s Eve, 1980. The New Year would be upon us in a matter of hours, and Mama wasn’t about to lose her reputation for throwing the ‘best parties this side of the Mississippi.’ As I swept the old, well worn hardwood floor of our little house on Magnolia Avenue, I gazed out the window through the white lace curtains. It was just after dusk, and the street was nearly empty. I didn’t even realize I had stopped sweeping until Mama’s voice interrupted my reverie.
“Josephine! Child, go outside and sweep off that porch. And don‘t dirty up your party dress.”
That was me. Josephine Lewis. Mama named me after Josephine Baker, a woman she greatly admired. As I zipped up my winter coat and stepped out into the chill of the December night, I knew something was different. Not necessarily wrong, just different. I also knew that if I didn’t do what Mama had asked, I’d be in deep trouble. Just as I started to sweep at the far corner of our rickety old porch, I saw something. It was nothing more than a glimmer in the corner of my eye. But since there was no streetlight in our side yard, it was out of place. Cautiously, I leaned over the rail and gazed into the darkness on the side of the house. Again, I saw it; just a brief flicker of light, like a match had been lit and immediately extinguished. Intrigued, I jumped off the porch, broom in hand, and walked cautiously toward what I’d seen.
“Hello?” I called out into the darkness, my voice barely above a whisper. “Is anybody there?”
No answer came. A cold breeze swept through the trees around me, causing their branches to sway and dance. Then, directly in front of me, I saw the flicker of light again. This time, it grew in size, burning and widening right before my eyes, until it took shape.
It was the shape of a person.

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Prelude to Darkness: Part 2

Hello, Readers,
As promised, here is the conclusion of my short story, Prelude to Darkness. "Prelude" is actually a prequel to the events of Darkness Rising, the first in Alexandra Kane's PHOENIX Files series. I intended to post it sooner, but I've been hard at work on the second book in the series, Embrace the Night. Look out for that September 29th.

So, here it is: the exciting conclusion of Prelude to Darkness.

Prelude To Darkness: Part 2

The next morning, an intense, heavy banging on the front door shocked Lalah out of her sleep. She scrambled out of bed and into a red robe, then rushed from her room to determine the cause of the commotion.
As she joined her sisters, already leaning against the bannister on the second floor landing, they exchanged looks of confusion. Cole, his face a mask of anger and irritation, stalked by them, with their father's rifle in his hand. Shirtless and clad in a pair of gray sweatpants and slippers, he could be going downstairs for coffee. But the weapon he clutched and the expression on his face told a different story.
Arriving at the front door, he roared, “Who's out there, banging on the door like the damn sheriff?”
From the other side of the door came a shouted reply. “Watch your tone, boy! It's your uncle Bernard!”
He briefly turned back to look at them and roll his eyes, then he propped the gun against the wall and opened the door.
The wide framed Uncle Bernard stalked in a moment later, with his wife Rachel and teenage daughter Roxanne trailing behind him. Lalah waved at her favorite cousin, and she waved back timidly. Once they were inside, Cole shut the door and leaned against it, arms folded.
Faye frowned. “Uncle Bernard, why in the world are you here so early, with all that noise?”
“Shut your yap, Faye. You know why I'm here.” The old man's brows furrowed so deeply they became one.
Rachel, her petite form perched on the arm of the sofa, tried to calm her husband. “Bernard, let's be reasonable.”
“Reasonable!” Bernard was shouting now. “You think it was reasonable for my brother to pass the leadership of this pack to a woman?”
Lalah stared, trying to process what she was hearing. Could her uncle really be a big enough asshole to come here, the day after they buried her father, and yell at her mother?
Cole's eyes were blazing by now. “It's disrespectful to insult the dead, Uncle Bernard.”
Bernard got very close to his nephew, thrusting his face forward. “Oh, is that so? And what are you gonna do about it, young buck?”
A low, growling sound behind Lalah made her turn away from the scene on the lower floor.
Her mother advanced from her bedroom, taking slow, deliberate steps. Ruby Norris' did not look happy. Fangs bared, she stood at the top of the staircase, her arms folded. “I'm not gonna have you disrespecting my family in my house, Bernard.” Her voice was as sure and steady as ever.
When he heard his name, he turned toward his sister in law. “I'll ask you the same question I asked your boy, Ruby. What are you gonna do about --”
Before he could finish his statement, Ruby took a single, powerful leap, landing with a thump on her slipper covered feet, directly in front of where Bernard stood. She reached up, as he was several inches taller than her, and grabbed both his ears, pulling his head down until their faces were level to each other.
Lalah had seen her father do that before. It was a panthera power play, used by alphas to demand respect from pack members.
“Bernard, I'm only going to say this once. Coles' will left me the leadership of this pack. I intend to serve because it was my husbands' wish. Obviously I love him more than you.”
He opened his mouth, but quickly closed it when Mama growled again.
“If you can't accept me as alpha, you are welcome to leave the pack.”
She released her hold on him, and Bernard stumbled backwards. His face was a mask of shock and anger.
“I'll never accept a female alpha!” he shouted, backing toward the door. “Come on Rachel, Rox. We're leaving.”
“Where are we going, Daddy?” Roxanne looked at her father with pleading eyes.
“Wherever I say! Now let's go!”
Cole moved away from the door to let them out, and Bernard pulled his daughter along behind him, even as she wept.
In the threshold, Rachel turned back. “I'm sorry about this, Ruby.”
Mama nodded, and then Rachel left hurriedly to catch up with her family.
Flopping down on the couch, Mama rubbed a hand over her forehead. “I can't believe what a hothead your uncle is.”
“You showed him who's in charge, Mama,” Faye called, making her way downstairs.
Lalah shook her head, wondering if she'd ever see her cousin and aunt again. Uncle Bernard, she could do without, but she loved Rachel and Rox.
With no answer to the question in her mind, she wandered downstairs to fix breakfast.

Dramatic, huh? I'll be back soon with more info on Embrace the Night. In the meantime, stay cool and keep it classy.

Until Next Week,