Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Snippet from the rewrites...

Chapter One – Rattle and Roll

Crouched on a grimy rooftop, Shane Constantine scanned the surrounding streets and alleys below, looking for the usual suspects; demons, vampires and anything else evil he hoped would cross his path. Nothing came, nothing dared. It was a slow afternoon in San Francisco for demon hunting; night time tended to bring out the uglier side of his job. The, I-have-to-hack-off-your-head-now-so-you-don’t-pop-back-up-and-try-to-kill-me, type of ugly. Without something to slay, his mind tended to wander into things that just made the day impossibly long and the night unbearably bittersweet. Being an immortal Shadow Knight—he might as well rope himself to a pyre and light it on fire, because that’s exactly what it was like to think about her.

He reached inside the secret pocket of his Kevlar lined, black leather armor suit and pulled out her picture. It was ridiculous, the lengths he went to, just to keep the image of her near him at all times. A photograph of a painting resized and cropped down to the 2x3 print-out and kept in his removable wallet ID case. The edges of the black leather so worn, the natural brown color peeked through. Drinking in his fill of her, he carefully tucked her back into her hiding place. It wasn’t as if he needed to be reminded of what she looked like. Over two hundred years of staring at the same face will certainly engrain it into every cell of your brain for all of eternity. Looking at it was unnecessary. Looking at it was a sure fire road to insanity; at this point, psychosis was welcomed and not far behind. Maybe that’s the only place he’d ever see her again, in the lost recesses of his mind. In the only place he could truly be with her again . . . in his dreams, in the abyss of his mind and memories. He clamped his eyes shut, the pain, and the loss of her consuming him again; he really needed to be rid of it all.

Tiring of his perch, he leapt to the next three rooftops over and scanned the area.

Again . . . nothing.

Come on! Just give me something to do! Shane began pacing back and forth. Feeling like an addict waiting for his next fix, he rubbed his shaking hands. Why couldn’t he just let her go? She died over two centuries ago . . . come on Constantine, for the love of God and your sanity man, move on and find some peace. You’re never going to see her again.


Wait! There . . . to the left of his vision he saw it. A blurred outline moving in the shadows of an alleyway stopped and turned to face Shane just as he spotted the entity. He couldn’t make out what the creature was; no matter. Evil emanated from it like a lighthouse beacon. For a Shadow Knight, this was the equivalent of waving a brightly colored sequined flag in their face. The thing took off down the alley towards the street. Shane pushed a button on a handheld remote, starting his motorcycle that would drive itself to his location just a few blocks over. He jumped from the rooftop and landed in a crouch, then ran to the street’s entrance to check the direction the evil-thing took off in . . . Great, it’s heading for the Embarcadero, in the middle of the day! Just fucking great! Honed in on the remote tracker in Shane’s armor, the bike drove up next to him, steadied by the custom-built kick-plates that kept the MV Agusta F4 from teetering over. Shane jumped on the bike, revved the engine as the kick-plates retracted, taking off after the creature.

Using his Shadow magic, he cloaked his already black clad self and bike in shadow, the disguise all his Shadow Knight Brothers used to keep the populace from getting an eyeful of what was about to go down. After chasing the thing through several streets and a couple of near misses with various street cars and pedestrians, he closed in on the evil being he was about to annihilate. Shane initiated release of the custom kick-plates on the bike and it skidded to a halt just as Shane leapt off it, tackling his prey to the ground. As he turned the thing over, it appeared in the form of a man, but his head kept morphing from a ram, a bull, and then a human with a sneering smile.

Suddenly, an image of Shane’s late wife, Elizabetha chained to a wall while a vampire raped and drained her of her life giving blood; was being forced into his head by the man. Only this demon could force that image on him.

“Asmodeus.” Shane spat out and picked up the man by his suit lapels and set him on his feet. “Tell me—ASS—what is the demon of lust and a prince of hell doing in my city?”

Asmodeus brushed dirt from his suit and straightened his tie and shirt while he smirked at Shane. “Your city? I wasn’t aware the Order of Shadows had begun acquiring ownership of human cities. Unless you are now taking a zealots approach to keeping the balance between good and evil?”

Shane chuckled. “No, that would be your department . . . not ours.”

“You mean my father’s.”

“How is dear old dad?” Shane mocked. “Business must be good; he’s certainly keeping us busy.”

“Oh, you know . . .”

Shane frowned at the prince’s vagueness. “When’s the last time you’ve seen him?”

Asmodeus shifted his feet and as he turned to look over his shoulder, his face turned to that of the bull; something that would only happen under duress.

“Hey!” Shane called to get his attention and the prince snapped his head back to Shane. “You weren’t really running from me, were you?” The prince flashed a quick nervous smile but said nothing. “Course not. It’s not as if I’m allowed to do anything to you; you being one of the princes of Hell and all. Who’s chasing you and why are you scared?” That seemed to catch his attention.

“A prince of Hell fears nothing and no one!” Asmodeus scowled.

Shane crossed his arms over his broad chest. “Yeah, sure. You gonna tell me what’s goin’ on or not? Cause I’m not supposed to let anything harm you, but if you don’t clue me in here in about two secs then you’re on your own, ASS-hole.” Shane narrowed his bright hazel eyes on the prince, waiting for an answer but all he got was laughing. “Oh, I see, so this is funny? You’re a funny guy now, huh?” Shane turned and let the prince laugh at the back of his spiky black-haired head.

“No wait!”

Shane turned around and cocked a brow at him, “Yeesss?” he drawled out.

“Look, I can’t tell you who, but I can tell you where.” Asmodeus looked around frantically, checking for signs that he’d been found.

“All right, that’s not cryptic or anything. Where?”

“There’s a business, Vector Genetics. That was the last place I saw it after I managed to lose it.”

“What! That company belongs to a friend of mine!” Anything fierce enough to scare the shit out of a prince of Hell must be bad. And now it seemed it had found its way to his best friend, Gabriel’s front door. Fabulous. “What. Was. It?”

“I can’t—” he turned to leave, but Shane caught his arm, swung him around and grabbed his face with his free hand.

“If you can’t tell me what then be more specific on the where part. It’s a big god damned building Ass-modeus,” he said and simultaneously squeezed his arm and face harder.

“The parking garage,” he said through puckered lips. “Follow the smell of sulfur.” The prince shirked out of Shane’s hold and began rubbing his face and arm.

“Thanks Ass-mole.”

“The name is, Asmodeus.”

“Yeah, well, from me, you’re only gonna get, Ass-hole, Ass-mole or Ass-pole . . . take your pick.” Shane looked away from the idiot prince, down the street he saw some gawkers loitering around his bike. “Look, sorry for the tackle and thanks for the info, but I gotta jet.” Shane started to walk away, then remembered, “Oh, and another thing, you pull that twisted sex image shit with my late wife on me again, and I will personally hand you over to whatever it is that’s chasing you and watch while it picks his teeth with your skinny ass bones.”

“You know, for a member of royal lineage, you have a filthy, uncouth mouth.”

“A by-product of ridding the world of scum-bags like you, Ass-mode.” Shane lightly slapped the man’s cheek twice, “Take care, Prince.” He said, and stalked off.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The glory of re-writes . . . the re-birth of a completed novel.

I have officially submitted my completed novel, Gather the Broken 49 times. 24 rejections, 23 non-responses and 2 hits. Those are the stats of my latest adventures. Of the two hits by agents who requested more of my book, both of them loved my writing. One wasn't able to accept me due to the storyline being too similar to another book she'd sold and another said my book was too similar to other books on the market, thereby making it a "hard sell."

Yes, I'll admit it. I was crushed at first. I know I'm a damned good writer. But rejections are harder to take than one might believe. Especially when you get a taste of near success only to be turned down. I think the most frustrating part is that I researched the hell out of this freaking genre. I've read close to different 50 books from varying authors throughout the genre itself. I thought I had steered clear of the repetitive blunders that I saw even through some of the published books I had read. I'd be reading and thinking to myself . . . are you serious?! THIS was published, yet I can't get anyone to give me the time of day?? To make matters worse, I'd see timeline issues, grammatical errors and misspelled words in these books that were deemed worthy enough to publish. The horror of it all!! It was a good time to look my book in the face and see what was the missing ingredient.

Basically, what I realized, is that subconsciously I was trying to emulate some of those novels. The voice of the book was not really my own. In my attempt to please agents and readers alike, I'd become something I was not. Now, I'm not saying that I don't love my book as it currently is . . . I still believe in the essence of it. But it needs to be re-written in my own style of writing and written the way I want to write it. Not how I think it will be received.

In doing so, I've found a new angle for the book, steering away from the "Paranormal Romance" aspect and veering head-on into Urban Fantasy, which is really what I wanted to do with it from the beginning . . . but I was afraid to go there. I was afraid to be all dark and twisty with it. Well, not anymore! I'm close to finishing chapter two, and I have to say that I'm totally in love with this version. It's grittier, edgier and darker . . . kinda like my soul.

If you're a writer, and you're struggling with your own writing voice, heed this advice: Do what feels instinctual in your writing. Listen to that little voice in the back of your mind. It's there for a reason. Trust me, you'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you do. I didn't listen to mine but I now have a lot of knowledge under my belt, more confidence in my writing abilities and a better novel on it's way because of said knowledge. I guess some of us just have to learn the hard way . . .

Write on . . . write hard!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

When life imitates art...

So, I'm having a crappy week, which turns into a shitty weekend and I'm thinking to myself . . . why can't I just write my way out of this? Or go back and do edits on my life? Wouldn't that be nice? Yeah, it would. Too bad I can't, in all of my supposed talent, make it happen.

The red pen would be all over the pages of my life. A bloody, gory display of all the mistakes and idiotic descisions I've made throughout my almost 40 years of life.

I wish we all had referees in life. There would be this guy standing on the sidelines, maybe he's wearing the obligitory black and white striped shirt. Maybe he's dressed like the Grim Reaper. But anyways, he standing there, just waiting for you to fuck up. And when you do, he calls an "off sides" or a "foul" or whatever other sports term you'd like to plug in there. But at least, someone would be there to catch you when you're doing something really stupid. Something you don't even realize is going to create a bad outcome when it all plays out.

But it's too late, the ripple is set in motion and you can't stop the ripples rolling over the water any more than you can stop the rock from being thrown in. Maybe these things are meant to happen. Perhaps its the reason we don't  have referees in life. If we did, we might not learn what we should have from said fuck-up. Maybe that's the point of it all.

Maybe our referees are our friends? But what happens when your friends don't stop you or they are the cause of the fuck-up? WHAT THEN?? I guess when it comes right down to it, you really only have yourself to blame.

Solution: I think I'm gonna hire a guy to follow me around to watch out for potential fuck-ups. I might even make him wear the stripes . . . but it's negotiable.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Writer's block . . . Causes and cures.

So . . . I have a new book I'm supposed to be writing. It's a YA dystopian novel which was based on a short story I wrote. I had sent my manuscript for Gather the Broken to an agent, who said I was a talented writer, but she couldn't represent my book due to the fact that she had sold something similar a couple of years ago. She asked that I keep her in mind for anything else that I write. So I proceeded to tell her about the short story. She liked the basis of it and told me that if I wanted to flesh out the story, she'd be happy to look at an outline and the first 50 pages. Sweet right?!

Yeah . . . except that besides the plot outline, which graciously presented itself to me about a week ago, I've only written about three pages since then.

Normally what happens when I write is that I just sit with the material . . . meaning that I let it wander around in my brain while I'm going about my daily business. It floats there and I think about it, but not heavily. Somehow during the course of doing menial tasks, it all clicks and comes together and I know what I'm going to write about. It's almost like magic. A lot of writer's will tell you that they have a process and a lot of them will tell you that they don't always know where the story comes from—it just appears. It presents itself like a mirage on a lonely stretch of desert and you question the "realness" of it. Yet there it is, fleshing itself out on the computer screen, flowing from your fingertips like a concerto on piano keys. It's beautiful and inspiring and makes your soul sing when at last it happens.

This is NOT what's happening to me with this new genre venture. Keep in mind that while I do have one book completed and I grew immensely during the writing of it, not only professionally, but personally, I now find myself questioning my own talent. I have the vampire novel thing down. The first book is done and the second one is coming along better than I hoped. It's flowing and it comes easily. This switching gears thing is harder than I thought it might be.

I was just talking to my good friend about the fact that I'm choking on this simply because I'm afaid. At first, I thought it might be due to the fact that for the last 2-3 years, I've lived in Vampville while writing Gather the Broken . . . living and breathing the characters that grace the pages within. They're like my buddies, my babies. Do I subconsciously feel like I'm abandoning them by moving onto to another genre and a different book entirely? Perhaps. While I'm aware that these are fictional characters in my head, they've become such a part of me that perhaps I shouldn't ignore that fact? The insane part of what makes you a great writer is the fact that you can immerse yourself into the world you've created. I do live there while I'm writing about it, and even sometimes when I'm not writing about it. Being yanked out of bed by fictional characters at three o'clock in the morning to write, is the proof in the pudding!

Maybe the cure to my writer's block is to have a meeting with Shane and Danie and Gabriel and the whole Order of the Shadows crew and simply tell them . . . I'm not abandoning you . . . I simply need you to share my brain with these new characters. They need to live too and there is plenty of room in there for you all and plenty of love to go around, my children. Now play nice, and let Mommy work!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Snippet of the week from Gather the Broken ~ Chapter Two

Shane proceeded to look her up and down very slowly, hand on his chin, taking in the sight of her again. This of course made her uncomfortable and her defenses raised all kinds of walls and barriers, closing herself off. She decided to give him a pissed-off look.

“Ouch, this one bites!” he clasped his hands behind his back. “It is my estimation that a ‘Daniella’ wouldn’t dress in head-to-toe black.”

“That’s a ridiculous estimation on your behalf,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “I however, could deduce from your meager attempts to ascertain my character solely by means of taking in my appearance, that you judge a book merely by its cover, rather than its content.”

“Touché. However, I should point out that certain tactical settings require such snap judgments. In fact, ascertaining character by even the subtlest of nuances could mean life or death,” he smiled wryly at her. “To clarify: By definition, estimation is an approximate calculation, not exact, and therefore open to interpretation. Speaking of definitions, do you always speak as though you’re reading a dictionary?”

The fact was, she did this when she felt that her intelligence was taking a back seat to her pretty face. In most cases, when a man obviously found her attractive, she pulled out the dictionary-speak to fend them off. Usually it sent them running to their mommas, but this guy wasn’t budging. It only seemed to egg him on, and now he was turning it back on her, the smartass!

“Annoying: To cause annoyance; irritatingly bothersome,” she recited from the dictionary. “Oddly, I don’t recall seeing your name in the definition,” she replied with a face of mock confusion.

“I’ll notify Webster’s of your finding,” he returned.

“Annoying and arrogant.”

“Two for the price of one. Act now and you get a set of Ginsu knives. But wait! There’s more!” he continued in an infomercial-type tone.

She rolled her eyes at him, but wanted to laugh.

“Just concede and I’ll stop.”

“Yes, I’m Danie, okay? Are you pleased?” she conceded, arms flopping to her sides. She could stand here looking at his face all day; but really, she wanted to smack that smug look off his gorgeous face. Besides, work was beckoning.

“No. Not really.”

“And why is that?”

“I’ve offended you somehow,” he said, staring at her with his arms crossing his broad chest, one hand covering his square chin and full lips.

His immense biceps taunted her eyes. Not wanting him to know it, she looked away.

“I’m offended by everyone, don’t take it personally.”

Friday, May 14, 2010

Snippet of the week from: Gather the Broken

She slowly opened her eyes, glaring at him like a lion waiting to pounce. “You bring out the devil in me,” she said, in a tone that made his stomach quiver.

“Oh God, I hope so.” His eyes struck out at hers like daggers.

The fire he had been stoking within her had now become a backdraft of desire. It sucked the air out of his lungs then rushed forward, piercing his heart like a knife. His hands flew up to her hair, pulling it at the nape of her neck, cradling her head in his forearms. Her hands grabbed at the back of his jacket between his shoulder blades, pulling at it to keep her balance. Gabriel slowly moved in closer, stopping just short of her mouth. He slowly pulled her head back further by pulling on her hair, exposing her neck. He wanted to bite her, but instead slid his tongue slowly from her collarbone up, trailing the side of her neck. The cool tip of his nose sent shivers through her. He felt her nails dig into his jacket, pulling it down further. He moved to her ear.

“No doubt you have experienced intimacy with a human. Would you like to experience it with a vampire? It is infinitely superior,” his voice resounded deep and slow in her ear.

She sunk her nails into the flesh of his back at his words. “I cannot,” she said through gritted teeth.

“Oh yes you can,” he said in her ear.

“No,” she said, unable to move her head from his grasp. His every word struck at each nerve ending like a giant bell ringing, the sound reverberating over her. The sensations whipped over her in waves with each word in her ear.

“It’s easy—just say yes,” he whispered.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


As a writer, we are constantly striving to express ourselves. To bring forth our own truths and lay them out for the masses in an attempt to find others who either agree with us and pat us on the backs to say: "Yes, you are right!" Or, we are hoping to bring something more, to push the fundamental boundaries of what we consider to be the truth, to engage peoples minds and hope to give them a new perspective on what they feel is "truth". I am definitely of the latter persuasion.

The journey I've made over the last five years, when I began to take my writing seriously, and found my drive to pursue this as a full-time career has been an enlightening one. I've learned that I do have important things to say. And while not everyone needs to hear them and there are many who are above my message(s), I do have an audience. 

The most important factor in all of this, was not finding the audience per se, but finding my own voice with which to speak my message. Another contributing element to my journey was the fact that while I personally feel the call to spread my message to the masses, I didn't think my message was important enough. Who would listen to the ramblings of a woman who does not hold a college degree? What right do I have to speak my truths to others and spread the messages I deem worthy?

The conclusion I finally came to, and what propelled me forward on this journey is this: We are all given gifts. This is my gift. I know it to the core of my being. I struggled my whole life in one profession or another and completely denied my passion for writing. Like a scribe being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night, I could no longer ignore my calling.

I have something to say, I'd like you to listen. You can agree with me or disagree...either way it does not matter. What matters is that I am fulfilling my destiny by listening to my passion. What matters is that I say it. That I write it and I put it out there. It matters not what the populace at large thinks. Just the simple act of fulfilling my end of the bargain is enough. If I'm able to reach one person and turn them around on something in a positive way...then I become richer than a sultan.

Do I care if I actually become a published author? Hell yes! Do I want to sell loads of books? Yes, please! But for now, I'm on my journey. I'm making it happen by simply putting myself out there. And it will happen when it's meant to...