Relapse: Prologue


As a special Halloween week treat, I’ve decided to release the prologue of Relapse!!! Please keep in mind that this is the version before the final copy-edit, although I don’t think there are any egregious errors.

You’ll quickly pick up on the fact that this isn’t written from Siobhan’s POV, but most of the book is from her POV, so don’t fret. 😉 You may remember Apate as one of Eric’s minions and the goddess of trickery. I posted a character profile for her awhile back. She’s kind of becoming a demanding character…I’m pretty sure she wants a bigger part in the next book, or maybe even her own book. (Oh, look, I’m starting to talk about my characters like they’re real people now.)

Anyway, without further ado, the prologue of Relapse:

*****

I throw open the door to The End, thunder crashing behind me as I duck inside. Closing my black umbrella sends a shower of water droplets onto the gunmetal gray tiles. I stride up to the bar through a haze of dim lighting and cigarette smoke.

As I perch on the black leather cushion of one of the bar stools, I catch a glimpse of myself in the horizontal mirror lining the back wall. A black mini dress clings to me like a second skin, its plunging neckline dipping even further as I sit down. Silky hair falls in an obsidian curtain around my pale face, cascading down my shoulders to brush the swells of my breasts. My green eyes shine as brilliant as emeralds even in this dull light.

I look hot.

“Apate.”

At the sound of my name, I abandon my reflection and look over at the pair of sunglasses glowering at me from behind the bar.

“Hey, Lou,” I say, curving my lips into a wicked smile. “That is what you’re going by these days?”

Lou raises an eyebrow. “I thought I told you and lover boy to stay out of my bar.” He furiously wipes out a shot glass with a white rag.

I let my grin fall into an exaggerated pout. “That hurts my fweelings.” As I cross my legs, the hem of my dress rides up, revealing a few more inches of fishnet stockings and thigh. “A Dark and Stormy, please.”

Lou slams the shot glass down so hard I’m surprised it doesn’t shatter. He makes a point of dropping the damp rag in front of me before turning to mix the drink. His thick, curly dark brown hair bristles as he shakes his head slowly back and forth, muttering to himself. The muscles of his arms twitch underneath his black t-shirt as he pours and stirs. Tight jeans hug his hips and taut buttocks. Light from a single naked bulb dangling from the ceiling glints off the silver, winged-shaped spurs on the backs of his black leather cowboy boots.

“Nice ass,” I call over to him.

He spins around, picks up the rag and plants my drink down in its place, ice cubes clinking against the glass. “You get one drink. Then I want you out. Eros, too—if he’s here.” Lou’s head scans the crowded room.

“He’s not. That’s why I’m here.” I scoot in closer to the bar and lower my voice. “He’s on the other side. I need you to send a message to him.”

Lou’s head had started shaking before I could even finish the sentence. “No can do.”

I suck up some of the cocktail through the stirrer, the ginger beer prickling my throat as it slides down. “You can, and you will. It’s only kind of your job.”

Lou chuckles. “I don’t work for you, honey. And even if I did, I can’t risk it. The membrane between the universes is thinning. All of the traffic back and forth over the last six years has made it unstable. Any more—even the slightest disturbance—and it may break down completely. All thanks to you and your…friends.”

“Anytime.” I finish the drink in two more gulps, and then shove the empty glass toward him, a stamp of wine red lipstick on the rim. “Thanks for the drink.” I set a one dollar bill on the counter.

“That drink is seven bucks.”

“Give me a break, Lou,” I plead. “You know I’m a poor grad student.”

Lou purses his lips, jaw trembling. He takes the bill and shoves it in his pocket.

“Oh, and thanks for your help,” I add as I pop off the stool.

There’s a hesitant pause before he says, “I didn’t help you.”

“You’ve helped me more than you know.” I wink, and Lou shudders as though I’ve just slapped him. “’Bye, Lou.”

“Good riddance,” he grumbles behind me.

My eyes dart from table to table as I search for a glimpse of bright red hair. I catch a few of the patrons considering me over their drinks, bloodshot eyes climbing up my body. Only one pair of wandering eyes actually makes me pause and look over. They belong to a boy leaning against the wall, balancing a guitar against his hip.

Once his hazel eyes reach my face, I catch his gaze and welcome him with a smile. His Adam’s apple bobs as he gulps, the defiant frown on his face deepening. Now I remember: He’s the lead singer of that band that always plays here—Psycho’s friend. Eros hates him. I think he’s kind of cute. He might be a fun new toy to play with, but I can’t let myself get distracted. I need to find Sam. Reluctantly, I break eye contact with him and continue to weave my way between tables.

Barking laughter coming from a corner booth pricks my ears. Sam and five of his Sigma Iota brothers are crammed into it, guffawing over mugs of beer and slapping each other hi-fives across the table. The one called Alec sees me first, his laughter dying in his throat with a choking noise. He rakes his black hair out of his dark, almond-shaped eyes and sits up a little straighter.

“Pat,” Alec says loudly. The others stop laughing and turn to watch me pull up a chair on the end, next to Sam.

“Hello, boys.” I give them a sheepish, toothless smile and a small wave. “Please, don’t mind lil’ old me—Sam and I just have some business to discuss.”

They hesitate for a moment, exchanging uncertain glances. Alec blinks rapidly a few times and shakes his head before continuing with whatever conversation I interrupted. “So, anyway, Carly and I are in the basement, right—”

“Did you guys do it yet?” one of the brothers cuts him off.

“No, this isn’t—”

“Of course they didn’t,” another puts in. He’s stuffed in the booth between Alec and the wall, his belly peeking out from beneath his polo shirt, straining against the button of his jeans. “She’s a frigid bitch.”

Alec’s mouth falls open in disgust. “Bro, that’s my girl you’re talking about. Have some respect.”

“I thought the Gammas were supposed to be sluts. Their social chair is fucking, like, three guys right now—” The last word dies on the fat one’s lips. He opens his mouth to say more, but no words come out. The brothers look on in panic as he clutches his throat, his lips flapping futilely.

“What the hell, Pat!” Alec cries.

I roll my eyes. “Relax, bro.”

“Fix him! Give him his voice back!”

“He’s fine,” I insist. “He just thinks he’s lost his voice.”

“Well, whatever it is you’re doing—stop!” Alec pleads.

“Just a second,” I promise. Keeping the noose of my illusion slung tightly around the boy’s throat, I lean into Sam. “I found a way to get Eros back,” I whisper, letting my lips brush against Sam’s ear. He shivers as my fingers graze the back of his carrot red hair.

“You did?” His breath hitches in his throat.

I put two fingers under his chin and lift his freckled face up to meet mine. “I’m up here, sweetie.” Without looking away, I reach into my black sequined purse and pull out a folded up piece of yellowed paper. “A ritual. An ancient ritual that will allow us to open up a portal from this side to wherever Eros is.”  Sam’s hand clutches the edge of the table. I pry it off and gently place the note in his palm, closing his fingers around it. “There’s just one, tiny caveat.”

Sam’s blue eyes glance down at his fist, then back up at me. “What’s that?”

“The ritual will require…a sacrifice.”

*****

Relapse releases December 2, 2014!!!

reborncoverbig

Relapse Cover Reveal and Blog Hop!


reborncoverbigReveal day is finally here!!! I get to show you the GORGEOUS cover art for Relapse, designed by the magnificent Heidi Sieverding!!! And yes, that’s Siobhan on the cover…of course! Relapse (Book 2 in the Reborn series) releases Tuesday, December 2, 2014!!!!!!

Summary:

Jasper might be gone for good, but Siobhan can’t escape the memory of him.

Or, rather, Psyche’s memories of him—memories of a kinder, gentler man, not the one who lied and manipulated her. She should have tried harder to reach him—to save Jasper from the darkness consuming him. Guilt—maybe that’s the reason why she still sees his face everywhere she turns. That, or she’s going crazy.

And Siobhan really doesn’t have time to lose her mind. Her best friend is in love with their enemy and is addicted to an alien drug. The Alpha Rhos blame her sorority for their sister’s death and take their quest for vengeance too far. Desperate, the Gamma Lambda Phis call on the help of the most deceitful Olympian of all, making her a promise they’re not even sure they can keep.

Once again, Siobhan finds herself not knowing who she can turn to or who she can trust. She comes to realize that her greatest enemy is the darkness within herself.

Fun Fact #1: One of the major themes in Relapse is addiction, especially addiction to love (hence the title).

Stop by all of these amazing blogs to read all of the fun facts about Relapse!

Inside the Mind of a Fantasy Writer

What a Nerd Girl Says

Shehanne Moore–Smexy Historical Romance

The Light-Bearer Series by Emily Guido

Book Junky Girls

Moonlight Reader

Shayna Varadeaux Books

Beckstar Reviews

Echoes of the Pen

Book Worm Brandy

Relapse Playlist


Just for fun, here’s a playlist of the songs I was listening to while I was writing Relapse. Links take you to YouTube.

I guess I really like Placebo…

1. “My Sweet Prince” by Placebo

2. “G.U.Y.” by Lady Gaga

3. “Oh! You Pretty Things” by David Bowie

4. “Cars” by Gary Numan

5. “Bad” by U2

6. “Shout” by Tears for Fears

7. “In the Cold Light of Morning” by Placebo

8. “Shady” by Adam Lambert

9. “Meds” by Placebo

10. “Goodness Gracious” by Ellie Goulding

11. “Blind” by Placebo

12. “Pretty When You Cry” by VAST

13. “Devil Inside” by INXS

It’s That Time Again


It’s that time again…time for an update, that is!

Some of you may have caught the Facebook status update a few days ago, but just in case you didn’t…I finally finished my first completish draft of Relapse! Yay! There was a time when I was seriously nervous that this book was never going to happen. Getting over writing Part One was the biggest hump because it set everything else up. It was really hard for me to start writing past that until I was happy with it. But now, suddenly, it’s all out of me. I have a list of things to go back and tweak before I give it to my beta readers. Of course, nothing’s final yet…lots of editing will happen, I’m sure. But it just feels really awesome to have it out of my brain. It’s a lot closer to what I envisioned.

It’s also quite a bit longer than Reborn, which is about 230 pages. I thought that was a decent size for a debut novel, especially since you’re just getting to know the characters. Now that you realize you LOVE my characters (lol), you get to see even more of them. Right now Relapse is about 97K (yikes), which comes out to 300+ pages. Somehow I’ve managed to write so many pages of book and zero pages of dissertation. (Which I’m planning to start writing in August. I swear.) Priorities…..

Relapse has turned out to be pretty dark. So I’m a little nervous for all of the reviewers who were all “Oh, Reborn is such a cool, fun read! Yay!” That they’re going to read Relapse and be like…erm, well, this is dark/depressing. The ending in particular. It’s not a cliffhanger…there are loose ends in the book (because, if all keeps going well, I’m going to write even MORE books!), but it ties things up somewhat at the end since the next book is most likely going to focus on a different set of characters. Now, although I envision a happier ending for the series (because, come on, who doesn’t like those?), the ending of every book isn’t going to be puppies, unicorns and rainbows. Sorry, I’m rambling. Siobhan is going to fall, perhaps more than once, before she gets her happy ending. I guess I’m just curious as to how people feel about darker endings. It’s something I like exploring, especially since most YA/NA books these days seem to have happy-for-now or neat-and-tidy endings. Also, this book is full of most of my characters being very, very naughty (yes, even the ones you probably thought were good).

Some more bad news/good news: The bad news is, someone gets off-ed in Relapse. The good news is…it probably isn’t anyone you were getting horribly attached to (we’ll hope not).

Let’s see, what else can I ramble about? Hmmmmm…I think I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but Relapse has two major first person POVs: Siobhan and Carly (one of Siobhan’s sorority sisters). This was something else I was worried about going into writing it because it seemed a little risky, and I wasn’t sure if I would end up liking it or not. That being said…I personally think it works really well. (We’ll see what my betas think.) Carly’s story branches off because she gets trapped in the clutches of another sort of dark, mysterious, mischievous character, who’s of course not all that he seems to be (yeah, I know, I’m obsessed, what can I say?). I think it’s a cool subplot because you get to see a little more of Olympus and its culture this way…a little more strictly fantasy, rather than fantasy mixed with modern times, like it is in Siobhan’s world.

Have I confused you yet?

Anyway, I’m getting super excited about Relapse, and I hope you are, too! I’ll try to post a teaser in the upcoming weeks. I think I’m still on track for a fall release date. I did not feel that way about a month ago, haha, but I’m definitely more confident now.

I thought I’d have more to write tonight, but I guess that’s it, so toodles for now! Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments…or comment with your favorite character from Reborn! Just because I’m curious…(And, ladies, pick someone BESIDES Jasper, lol.)

Character Profile: Apate


You may remember Apate as Eric’s other “teaching assistant”/minion of darkness in Reborn. She’s the goddess of trickery/deceit and has a much bigger presence in Relapse. Now that Jasper’s gone for good (…), Apate is next on Gamma Lambda Phi’s list of asses to kick back to Olympus. She also antagonizes Siobhan like it’s her raison d’etre. I’ve been having a blast writing her character, so thought I’d share!

Species: Olympian

Age: In Olympian years, a young adult

Physical Description: Petite; obsidian hair; creamy complexion; wine red lips; cat-like green eyes; often wears black; smells like iron and roses

Relationships: In Relapse, she sets her sights on Jimmy to be her “new toy” (poor Jimmy).

But her most important relationship is with her twin brother, Dolos, who Eric is holding captive to get Apate to do his bidding. Dolos is really the only person Apate would do anything for.

Goal: To free her brother

Obstacles: Being a spirit of deceit, she has trouble getting people to trust her. She also has a hard time trusting other people.

Strengths: Beautiful, confident, independent, doesn’t (usually) care what people think of her, loving (at least when it comes to her family)


Weaknesses: 
Jealous, suspicious, mischievous

Power: Apate and her brother can produce complex illusions, making others see/hear/taste/feel/smell whatever they want them to.

Who would play her in a movie: Phoebe Tonkin, of The Secret Circle/The Vampire Diaries/The Originals fame

Theme Song: Kesha’s “Cannibal”

 

“I’m impulsive. I do things for my own amusement, not really thinking through how it affects other people. Sometimes not really caring.”

 

 

WIP Wednesday: June 18, 2014


I haven’t done an update post in a while, but I’m sick and bored today, so here we go! First off, Reborn is now available on Smashwords and a few other places! Yay! If you’ve read it and would like to leave a review, you can find it on Smashwords here and Barnes and Noble here.

As you might remember, the purpose of Work-In-Progress (WIP) Wednesdays is so I can set personal writing goals. It also serves as a way to let you all know what I’m working on. I hope you’ll join me and link back to your own or share in the comments!

To play, just fill in the following:

1. What are you currently writing?

2. Inspirations:

3. Plan for the upcoming week:

***

1. What are you currently writing?

I’m still slowly but surely writing Relapse, the sequel to Reborn. Although I’ve made a lot of progress on it, I never seem to get as far with it as I think I will. I thought I’d have a complete draft done by the end of May, but that totally didn’t happen, haha. I think I keep misjudging because I’m learning as I go along, and it takes a long time to write a book. Also, this one is turning out to be longer than the first one, so there’s that.

That all being said…when I checked it out a few days ago, I realized (happily) that I had made a lot more progress on it than I thought! Right now it sits at about 61K! Which is awesome especially compared to the progress I’ve made on my dissertation! So hopefully I’ll have a complete draft for betas to look at soon, because I’m definitely getting to that point where I’m just like…I need someone besides me to read this…

2. Inspirations:

I discovered a new/old(?) group! And I really like this song, although it’s really sinister sounding (but I think that’s why I like it). Also, another warning, the video is kind of creepy…

3. Plan for the upcoming week:

I don’t really have a concrete plan except to just continue chugging along. I do have some book reviews I need to get caught up. I recently re-read The Forbidden Game by L.J. Smith and wanted to write a little bit about that, but I also have some books I need to read/review for fellow authors that I just haven’t gotten around to yet. 😦 So, sorry for being slow, but I’ll get caught up with that!

Update Time!


Below is the video update I posted to my Facebook page last night! It’s my first vlog, so don’t judge. 😉 I used my phone (in retrospect, I should have turned it the other way, horizontally, lol)…so it’s REALLY upclose and personal, ha! But give it a watch for some exciting news and updates about my WIP!

[One correction: Towards the beginning I say it’s Reborn’s half-month birthday…I meant half-birthday.]

 

 

The Girly Heroine


The subject of “strong” female characters has been on my mind a lot lately. A few of my fellow bloggers and writers have addressed this subject, most recently H.N. Sieverding’s blog post The Trouble with Alpha Males. So this is a post that I just really needed to write. I hope we can have a thoughtful, productive conversation about it.

First off, I want to say that I think it’s GREAT that people are talking about how women are portrayed in books, on TV, in movies, etc. It’s a subject that really needs to be talked about, especially considering the way girls and women have been portrayed through these media in the past. I think it’s fantastic that we now have characters like Scarlett Johansson’s character in the Marvel franchise, Black Widow, who is beautiful and smart and can kick ass. Women haven’t always been given these kinds of roles, and I think it’s an important step for our society to show women as warriors, fighters, soldiers, “superheros.” It may be especially important for young girls to see these kinds of role models–to read about strong female characters like Katniss from The Hunger Games and Tris from Divergent and then to see them in film. We need to teach and show them that women are smart and strong and awesome.

But today I’d like to make the point that being physically strong isn’t the only type of strength and isn’t the only way to make a “strong” female character. And to start criticizing female characters for being “weak” because they are not as physically strong as a man is going down a road that I think is just as bad as not showing women as warriors at all. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I certainly have. And I am going to attempt to explain what I mean by this in the following post.

Not everyone is physically strong–men or women. There are a lot of men who aren’t physically strong–who don’t fit the stereotypical “alpha male” mold. The alpha male is the ideal–we’re a society that reveres demonstrations of physical strength and power. And yet I think in our society there persists this idea that a man doesn’t need to be physically strong to be considered “strong” or “dominant”–there’s just something about being a man that automatically makes you “strong.”

I’m a woman, and I’m not physically that strong. I want to work out as much as I need to be healthy, but health is what’s important to me, not being “as strong as a man.” I’d also like to take some self-defense classes at some point because I think those could be useful. But I have no desire to push my body as far as the human body can go. If that means I’m not as physically strong as some other people, be they men or women, I don’t really care. There are other things I like to do that are way more important to me. Does this make me weak? If I write a female character who is like this, does that make her weak?

Fuck no.

Like I said, as a society we may look up to people who can kick ass, but physical strength isn’t the only type of strength. I’m going to be self-centered and use myself as an example again. I’m really smart. I feel that my intelligence is probably my greatest asset–my greatest strength. I know that I can intellectually do the same things “as men.” It may not feel like it sometimes, but we have made great strides since the 1930s or so when women were expected to be housewives and maybe teachers or nurses. (Again, not that there is wrong with ANY of those things. The problem is not with being a stay at home parent, but that is what was expected of women at the time–like all women are the same and should be content with that and aren’t given any other options.) I’ve grown up in a society that has allowed me to go to college and graduate school and pursue scientific research. Generally speaking, I’m pursuing something that was once really considered a man’s world (and maybe, to an extent, still is). Intelligence is another type of strength.

So is what I’ll call emotional intelligence. Going back to the physical strength thing–in a lot of ways we’re still a male dominated society, and maybe we seem to admire physical strength because that’s what men look up to. You’ve probably heard that women tend to be more helpful, more nurturing, more caring. Is that true? I don’t know–but I do know that they tend to be seen as more submissive traits, “weaker” traits, and that’s perhaps because they’re not valued as much by men. (Not all men. Or it’s that men are taught this. Again, I’m not talking about specific people, but about our society and culture.) Being nurturing or wanting to raise your children–whether you’re a woman or a man–does not make you “weak” or “submissive” or (gasp) “girly.” It’s not that there’s something inherently wrong with being this way, it’s perception–it’s the way we regard the task and why we look at it this way.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about “girly.” It’s not a bad thing to be girly. It’s not bad to be a woman that has traits that are typically thought of as more masculine–but it’s not bad to be feminine, either, and being feminine doesn’t make you “weak.” I like the color pink. I like wearing skirts and dresses. I like flowers and bunnies and unicorns. I like romantic comedies. I don’t really give a crap if this is because somehow I was taught to like pink and romcoms. Maybe it is, but they’re things I like, and I’m not going to reject who I am. I also like things that aren’t typically geared toward women, like action movies and science magazines. Yes, Scientific American still seems to be in the men’s section of the magazines, and this really pisses me off. But my point is, you can be feminine and be smart and strong, too.

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m writing this. I’ve read a lot of articles and blog posts criticizing certain female characters for being “weak.” Like I said at the beginning of this post, “strong” female characters is definitely something we should be talking about. I’m glad people are talking about it. But the times I’ve seen female characters called “weak” seems to usually be because they aren’t physically strong. I think this needs to stop. Yes, it’s good to have female characters that are warriors, but not every single woman needs to fit this mold.  And if she doesn’t, that doesn’t mean she’s weak. I’m afraid we’re approaching an all-or-nothing type of model–that, unless a woman is EVERYTHING, smart, beautiful, strong (but also has the type of body typically thought of as sexy), clever, then she’s not interesting or not deserving or something.

This is a theme I’m trying to incorporate into my Reborn series. If you’ve read Reborn, you know that my main character, Siobhan, is a runner, so she is athletic in this way, but she is not a super soldier. She has other types of strengths that will revealed throughout the series (and that may arguably make her a better match for the Olympians than physical strength would). She’s petite, blonde, and, yes, she was a cheerleader in high school and is a “sorority girl”–which I know bothers some readers. She likes pink and shiny stuff and dressing up. She also like scifi and fantasy and is a biology major. Her big sister in Gamma Lambda Phi, Victoria, is intelligent and clever, but also a warrior. In my book, I wanted to have all different kinds of female characters, but they are all strong, in my opinion. (But I’m sure at some point someone will insist Siobhan isn’t a strong female character…and if they do, kindly refer them to this post.)

I’m done babbling. So, what do you think makes a “strong” female character? Please respectfully share in the comments!

Character Profile: Peter


One of my fellow writers (and also my cover artist) Heidi asked me to share a character profile for Peter. Peter is one of my favorite characters in Reborn–probably because he embodies my favorite glam rock artists. He loves to gossip, and in Reborn he functions mostly as comic relief, but you’ll get to find out more about him and his “powers” in Relapse.

Age: Early 20s

Occupation:

  • Student at fictional college Thurston University
  • Keyboardist for punk rock band Search and Destroy

Physical Description:Tall; lanky; British; short, careless blonde hair; twinkling blue eyes; infectious grin; flamboyant

Revenge’s Gabriel Mann

Species: Demigod

Relationship Status: Single

Love interests: Anna is his ex-girlfriend

Other relationships: Jimmy, his best friend and band mate

Sexual Orientation: He doesn’t like labels

Strengths:

  • Outgoing
  • Flirtatious/playful
  • Funny/silly
  • Likes to keep friends in the loop

Weaknesses:

  • Impressionable
  • Nosey/a gossip

Hobbies:

  • Gossiping
  • Performing (pianist and singer)

Power: Messenger between humans and the gods/goddesses

Inspiration: David Bowie

Who would play him in a movie: In my Reborn Dream Cast, I cast Revenge’s Gabriel Mann.