amwriting


Wow. Such romance. Many demon.

I haven’t posted in a while; sorry! I’ve been super busy getting everything ready for Devil’s Gamble! Remember way back when I told you guys I was working on a book about a half-demon boy and his churchgoing boyfriend? Well, it’s ready!

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Look at the cover, you guys. LOOK AT IT. The artwork is by Mikao, who was lovely to work with and you should all love her.

This one’s coming out July 22, but it’s available for pre-order right now! I’m so excited about this one.

Caleb is a cambion, meaning his father is a demon. Caleb is tired of hearing about his special destiny, and he’s tired of hearing about what’s expected of him when it comes to taking over the family business, which mostly involves making deals for mortal souls. He’s a broody loner who tends to deal with stress with self-destructive behavior like blackout drinking and anonymous sex–a strategy that suddenly becomes unavailable to him when his demon guardian drags him from the city to a tiny little town in central Alabama.

Enter Isaac, the cheerful Southern Baptist who, at the suggestion of the unwelcome angel looking over Caleb’s shoulder, is determined to show the boy that there’s good to be found in everyone. But what is a sweet All-American boy to do when he finds himself having stirrings of more-than-friendly feelings for the boy he’s supposed to be turning from sin? The ring on his finger reminding him that “True Love Waits” is becoming more of a taunt than a reminder.

Did I mention that the angel only approached him because of a bet with his demon lover, who just so happens to be Caleb’s guardian? The stakes are personal, and Caleb’s choices will determine the winner.

So, how’s about a little excerpt?

The dark-haired boy let his head drop with an empty chuckle. “You don’t want to hear what I have to say.”

“I do,” Isaac promised, and he reached out to pry the bottle from Caleb’s hand and lace their fingers together. “Whatever it is, it’ll feel lighter if you share it.”

Caleb glanced down at their joined hands with a furrowed brow, and then he looked into Isaac’s eyes through the darkness. “You kissed me back.”

Isaac’s voice caught in his throat, and he found himself squeezing Caleb’s hand without thinking. “I…I did.”

“Friends don’t kiss like that.”

“Well I…I—”

“Do you want to kiss me again?”

Isaac started and stopped a few times before any words came out. “I don’t know,” he said at last. “It’s…confusing. It’s a sin.”

“Right,” Caleb sighed. He took another drag from his cigarette and stared back out at the pond, but he didn’t try to pull his hand away from Isaac’s.

“Caleb, can I ask you something?” Isaac spoke up after few beats of silence. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want.”

“I won’t. What is it?”

Isaac hesitated. He wanted to be sure he worded it right. “You…are you only att—you know, attracted to…only to boys?”

Caleb glanced at him out of the corner of his eye while he took a pull of his cigarette. “Yep,” he said as he exhaled.

“How did you…I mean, when did you first know you were…”

“Gay?” Caleb finished for him, and Isaac nodded with heat in his cheeks. “I always knew, I guess. I’ve never been interested in girls.”

“So,” he started, “what…you know, happened? To you.”

“What do you mean, what happened?”

“I just mean, I was just wondering what the…the root was. The reason. I understand if you don’t want to say. I know that a lot of…gay people were, you know…they were abused.”

Caleb stared at him with his lips pressed into a thin line. “Abused.”

“I’m sorry if it’s hard. I just…I want to understand you better.” Isaac dropped his voice, although they were already speaking quietly. “I know you live with your uncle, and I’ve heard that’s sometimes—”

“You’re asking me if my uncle touched me as a kid?” Caleb interrupted. “And if that’s why I’m gay? Are you fucking serious?”

“Caleb, don’t swear,” he said timidly, shrinking back slightly from the other boy.

“What the hell is wrong with you? Why would you think that?”

“That’s just—the Bible says it’s a sin, and in church they told us it’s not natural for a…for a man to be with another man. They say that if you can work through the cause, then you can resist those urges.”

Caleb tugged his hand away with a scoff. “The world isn’t your Bible school, Isaac. Nobody abused me or turned me gay. It’s the way I am. Some people are just born gay. You think straight people are only straight because they dodged the sexual abuse bullet? That’s fucked up.”

Isaac stammered for a moment. “I didn’t mean—that’s just what they told us, and I guess I never—” He stopped and took a short breath. “Shoot, Caleb, I—I’m sorry. I didn’t meant to come off like that. I guess…I guess I don’t know very much about this stuff.”

“I guess you don’t.” Caleb put his cigarette butt out in the dirt and scowled down at his crossed legs for a moment before looking back at Isaac. “Why did you kiss me back?”

“I…” Isaac paused to fidget in his lap, feeling the flush in his face and neck. He had to steel himself before the words would come. “Ever since you kissed me that day in my room, I’ve…thought about you. I think about you a lot.” Caleb seemed to soften slightly, but Isaac couldn’t quite meet his eyes. “I think about…if you tried again, what I would do.”

Caleb inched closer to him, leaning down to try to catch his eyes. “I guess you know the answer to that. And if I tried again now?”

Isaac’s fingers tightened on themselves. “I—I don’t know.”

These two are so cute, I can’t stand it. They’re a perfect pair of little cinnamon buns. I hope you’ll check them out, and I hope you love them like I do!


The Beast of Birmingham is Turning Two! (And Four?) 2

Holy crap you guys! March 31 will be the two-year anniversary of the release of Under the Devil’s Wing, the book that set me down this road of caffeine, red ink, and conventions. I’ve made friends, I started a company, and I’ve written more than I ever thought possible. It’s been a crazy ride with lots of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wouldn’t be where I am without the amazing friendship and support that I found in my local NaNoWriMo group. They encouraged me and helped me, and they were my first cheerleaders, and I love every one of them.

I’ve also found so much love and support from fans that I just can’t express enough gratitude. Every time one of you finds me at a convention to tell me you loved one of my books, it just makes my whole day. It makes the hard work and stress worth it, and it alleviates some of that constantly-looming dread that I’m a terrible imposter hack. So thank you.

But enough sappy crap! We’re here to talk about The Beast of Birmingham! To celebrate the anniversary, I’m going to have a little giveaway. Under the Devil’s Wing is free on your e-reader of choice, as always, so here’s the deal:

If you’ve read Under the Devil’s Wing but haven’t reviewed it (naughty), here’s your chance. Leave me a review either on Amazon or Goodreads and let me know about it, and you’ll earn yourself an entry to win a set of Beast of Birmingham character art cards as well as a $10 Amazon gift card! (Good toward the next two books in the series; just sayin.)

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Banana for scale.

I’m going to be at Cyphacon in Lake Charles, Louisiana on April 8-10, celebrating the anniversary! Just look for little Sam here and come and say hello. He does bite, but I promise you’ll like it. I’ll be accepting entries in the giveaway until midnight on April 17 to give you Louisiana folks time to enter, and I’ll announce the winner here and on my various other social media on Monday the 18th.

The Beast of Birmingham was my leap of faith into the world of being an author. I’m so thankful for everything that’s led me to where I am today, and I know that Sam and company were the start of that. Sam may be a total, incorrigible bastard, but he’ll forever have a special place in my heart, as will the rest of my werewolf crew.

So, recognizing that, I think you all deserve to know that I’m working on a special project. The Beast of Birmingham trilogy may be over, but lives go on.

So, this is me officially announcing The Beast of Birmingham: American Hunter, coming Holiday 2016!

Merry Chrismahanukkwanzaavus, y’all. Get ready to take on the States!

I’ll also be doing some posts over the next couple of weeks for those of you who might not be familiar with The Beast of Birmingham yet. I’ve got some character profiles coming your way, some ramblings, and some sneak peeks at the coming story. So super excited!

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Because You Needed Me Cover Reveal!

It’s time! Because You Needed Me is set for release on April 8, so here’s a look at the finished cover!

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Julien and Noah have a bigger role in this book, so I thought it was only fitting they get a shot at being on the cover. Lookit Noah’s cutie snake bites~! I’m super excited to share this sequel with you guys, and I hope you’re excited to see what happens to Trent and Ciaran on their journey into Fairyland!

I’ll be putting some teasers up of the illustrations on my Facebook and my Twitter, so if you haven’t added me on there, make sure you check it out!


Writer’s Block: Kick It In The Ass

tulioWe’ve all been there. We’ve stared at our blinking cursors and lamented. We’ve lost our way; we’ve hit a wall; we’ve wanted to strangle people we made up ourselves.

Writer’s block is a real thing, and it sucks. But I don’t believe in waiting for the muse to strike. Muses are fickle and inconsiderate and they only ever want to bother you as you’re trying to fall asleep.

For me, writing is a passion, but it’s also work, and I think that if you want to take your writing from a hobby to a profession, sometimes you have to just blast through that block like an Italian plumber looking for mushrooms.

Easy for me to say, but how do you do it?

You guys probably know my answer by now.

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I’ve never met a problem that I didn’t try to solve with more research. If I get stuck in a story, my first step is always, always, always to do some more reading. Sometimes that means doing things like googling “how to break out of prison” or spending hours reading about the magical uses of various bodily fluids. Sometimes I get sidetracked and end up reading about Satanism or the Dyatlov Pass incident or the different ways to wrap a headscarf. Most of the time, if I can focus on the task at hand instead of trying to figure out how ancient Babylonians wore their hair, I’ll happen on something that will stir just the right thing in me, and the answer will become clear. Really when I try to unstick myself with research, I’m just looking for inspiration. I try to find things that are relevant to my problem and hope they’ll jump-start my brain for me.

Sometimes, research fails me, and I have to actually use my imagination. The worst. In these cases, I try to skip around a little just so that I can keep working, since my time for writing is limited. Sometimes I leave myself a note that looks like this:

[AND THEN NATHAN DOES THE THING OR WHATEVER AND IT’S AWESOME]

Then I move on. I tend to get hung up on details that don’t always matter, so if it’s something I’ve spent a couple of hours on and I just can’t figure it out, I just move along and hope inspiration strikes later. Sometimes this bites me in the ass when I get stuck again and try to go back to look at the part I conveniently skipped over before, but that’s the price I pay.

There are tons of ways you can get through writer’s block. Ask a writer or a reader friend for advice. Sometimes I ask my husband what I should do, or I ask Michelle, and they say something that makes me want to flip a table, because OF COURSE that’s the answer, and I’m an idiot.

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If your friends are useless assholes who don’t solve your problems for you as soon as you ask, try to shake things up. Switch scenes, change perspectives, kill someone off, add a velociraptor. Do something nuts. You hear that advice a lot, especially around November, when a lot of us are scrambling for our 50,000 words, and it sounds like bullshit. It is bullshit, a little. Nobody’s historical romance has ever been saved by having cheese wheels suddenly rain from the sky.

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This isn’t Skyrim.

 

But maybe by starting to write something completely random and forcing your characters to react to it, you’ll think of something that’s actually appropriate and only involves the usual amount of cheese and/or velociraptors. Sometimes just stepping outside the box for a second lets you get a better view of its shape, even if you immediately duck your head and dive right back in. Or maybe you’ll come up with something that’s just weird enough, and you’ll decide to stick with it. That works too. Either way, success!

If you try researching stuff, and you try adding cheese, and you still feel stuck, then sometimes the answer really is to just put it down and walk away for a couple of days. That’s always my last resort, because I absolutely hate feeling like I’m not being productive, but there’s nothing quite like being able to look at a manuscript with fresh eyes. It’s the reason why we put things away when we finish them before we try to edit. Maybe you’ll come back to it in two days and go, “God damn, past me, why are you so dumb? Obviously this is what we should do.”

Writer’s block is inevitable. But that doesn’t mean you lament, and it doesn’t mean you give up! You aren’t at the whim of some jerkhole muse! These are your characters, and your world, and your story, and you’re going to make them behave! Kick writer’s block right in the ass, and tell it you’re busy being amazing.

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One more Scott Pilgrim gif.


2016 Plans, News, and Excitement! (And boys.)

I finally have my year settled as far as convention appearances, which is exciting. I’m doing five this year, which isn’t that many compared to some people I’ve met, but for me it’s a huge step up from last year. Check my Events page for a list of my planned cons. I’m going as far as Louisiana this year, so I’ll get to meet a whole mess of new people! I’m pretty stoked about it. I love doing conventions; I love meeting people and hanging out with nerds and getting to dress up in costumes. It’s a great opportunity to talk to people face to face about my work, and nothing beats the feeling when someone you met on Friday comes back by your booth on Sunday saying, “I started your book, and I love it!”

Seriously, Cloud Nine, you guys.

As far as books go, I have three releases planned so far this year. First on the agenda is Because You Needed Me, the sequel to cheeky paranormal romance Those Words I Dread. It’s full of the tension of new relationships, secrets, and uncertainty, with a heaping pile of snark on top, of course. I know some of you were totally shipping Julien and Noah, so you’ll be glad to know that the story does place more focus on what’s going on with them. It made even my black little heart skip once or twice. This one’s finished, so I’m in the artwork/editing/formatting stage. I’ll be giving everyone a sneak peek of the cover and illustrations on my Facebook over the next couple of weeks, so keep a lookout for them!

Currently in progress is The Left-Hand Path: Runaway, book two in Nathan and Elton’s Wild Ride. I’m in the thick of writing this right now, and I’m very excited. Nathan is always an absolute joy to write, and in Runaway, he’s really getting to let loose and be the pain in the ass Elton always knew he could be. There are explosions, accidental murders, love notes, and scavenger hunts. The gang’s back together, for better or worse, and the Magistrate is going to have their work cut out for them.

A little farther down the line, I’m planning a contemporary paranormal romance about Caleb Durant, the cambion–or demon child–who’s grown up with a religious-obsessed mother telling him that he’s the son of Satan. He’s not (his father’s name is Raum), but that hasn’t stopped his overzealous mother from constantly telling him about his Omen-like destiny. At 17, he’s a little tired of hearing it, honestly. But as his powers grow stronger, he’s experimenting and becoming more comfortable with his fate. Unfortunately, standing in his way is Isaac–kind, churchgoing, and determined to keep Caleb in the Lord’s good graces despite his problematic heritage. I am going to have so much fun with this one, y’all. Some foreshadowing: I found a whole list of Jesus-friendly swear alternatives. Stay tuned for more details on this.

In the meantime, how about the results of this round of model-hunting? You guys guess which one is the half-demon and which one is the good Christian boy.

Hard to call, right? Just kidding.

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It’s this one. This one is the demon.

I’m looking forward to getting you guys some more sneak peeks soon! In the meantime, I’m doing an author-centric Instagram challenge, so if you aren’t following me on there, then honestly what are you even doing with yourself. Get your life together.