New Career Starts in 3…2…1

Yes, friends! You read that correctly. New career. As if I didn’t have enough going on in my life!

Leaving the professional world far behind a few years ago to move south and raise a family was the best decision for me, my five kids, my husband, and my elderly mom. They needed me. I needed them. The kids weren’t getting younger and neither was my mom.

stayathomemom

However, if I claimed the domestic life was pure bliss…well, you would all know I was lying. Seriously, I don’t like cleaning, cooking, gardening, and do not get me started about my feelings on mountains of laundry. I am NOT a domestic diva by any stretch of the imagination. I tried and it just didn’t take. Not saying my house is a pig sty or my children are running around in stinky clothes. They most certainly are not. All that stuff gets done, but for me at least it does not make for a full, satisfying life. I needed more.

Tried the school volunteering thing. I swear that I will be happy if I never step foot in another pumpkin patch again. Once the kids hit middle school, I vowed those days were over. Ha! Got suckered into the 7th grade field trip to a college three hours away just after I wrote that line. (UPDATE: Field trip reaffirmed that decision that “Just Say No” was the correct one.)

Did the sports’ team mom thing, too. With five kids, that became darn near impossible. Pee wee football team mom (okay, assistant team mom) was quite enough. Became the First Aid mom for the year-round travel baseball team up until that son finally said he was ready to try football. Oh no! Here we go again! Even when the hubby took on coaching responsibilities for the middle school wrestling team, I held up my hand and said “Absolutely NOT! Find another mom! I will NOT be the team mom!” Thankfully another wonderful lady stepped in, but being the coach’s wife comes with its own headaches.

All that kept me super busy, but still didn’t fit the bill. I needed something more. So what did I do? Went back to my first love of writing “in my spare time.” Started out ghostwriting.

Ghostwriter

Worked my way up from marketing blurbs and website articles to cozy mystery and romance novels. Wonderful learning experience, but the need to see my own name on a manuscript took hold of my heart.

So I turned on my PC and typed out the first book in what I dreamed would be an urban fantasy series. That was the first in a zillion versions of that book. Seriously, the revisions were so numerous that I had to finally delete some versions to make room in my PC’s storage. Finally, I sent it to a professional editor who chopped it up some more (breaking my heart) and then commenced another series of revisions.

stress-clipart-stressed-clip-art

Thought I was good to go, so I decided to get others’ opinions by subscribing to a fantastic website of authors helping authors. Scribophile. If you’re an author, or want to be one, do yourself a favor and get on this website NOW. If I’d joined earlier, perhaps I could’ve avoided about 50 revisions before sending to the professional editor.

Several years after starting the process, my first book is set to be published (no date yet as I am finalizing the book cover and some other odds and ends). Every author has their own style, their own pace. With me, my time is limited so years was what worked for me. However, I don’t recommend it. That story banged against my noggin all that time, day in and day out, every day.

My lessons learned?

  1. Scribophile would’ve sped up the process as I wouldn’t have wasted so much time revising on my own without opinions from others in the business.
  2. A professional editor is a must-have.

As for #2 above, I fancied myself a fantastic editor. After all, I can catch spelling and grammar errors better than a DNA test can answer “Who’s your daddy?” Seriously. Spelling and grammar drive me crazy because I constantly find mistakes in everything I read. I send marked up emails back to the principal and teachers of the schools here when I find mistakes (which is in everything they send out – DO NOT get me started on how that makes me crazy). I corrected the high school yearbook last year because it was just awful. I correct newspaper articles. I once sent back legal documents with corrections marked up in bright red ink.

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What does that tell me? I’m a born editor. With all the critiques given and received on Scribophile, I am much better at catching other writing issues now.

Too bad, I couldn’t see the flaws in my own 77K word manuscript. It needed another pair of eyes on it. It’s occupational hazard for writers. Our eyes naturally skip over what can be simply typos because our brain fills in what we know should be there.

Now why am I telling you all of this? Because I found my calling…editing. I will still write when time permits. But I am a kick ass editor naturally. In addition, I beefed up my editing skills by obtaining a certification in editing from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Whereas, I may still need someone else to proof my own writing before clicking the “publish” button on Amazon, I can be that set of eyes for you.

Please feel free to contact me regarding any editing services you may need.

I can be found on Facebook at KC Freeman https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015282787131

OR

Twitter @KCFreeman5 (https://twitter.com/KCFreeman5)

WhatEditorsDo

 

 

Sometimes One Must Say Good-Bye… for Now

It’s quite one thing to put aside writing for awhile due to writer’s block. Sometimes an author must close the laptop and disconnect from the story just to gain perspective. However, it’s especially painful when one must set his/her writing aside for other priorities or simply because one can no longer make writing a priority.

As writers we think of our stories as our children. We tend to them, nurture them, and pray they grow and reach their full potential. But unlike real children, stories can be put upon the shelf and taken down again when the timing is more convenient.

Over the last few months I found myself pulled in what felt like a million directions. Tried giving 100% to all and ended up giving each area of my life less than a fraction instead. Instead of succeeding in all aspects, I failed…miserably.

What suffered? Everything. Everyone, including myself.

Since October of last year, I had one chapter left to write in my trilogy. ONE. But with all the craziness of life, my creativity went out the window and all inspiration for that last chapter evaporated.

Finally tapped out the last chapter just recently. Brief moment of joy…very brief.

During the non-writing time, I devoted myself to reviewing and critiquing other writers’ works on an online community of writers who work solely to help each other make their writing better. For awhile, this was enough for me. Had to be. There was no time for any real writing. If I were someone who could write a bit here and a bit there, but that’s not the style I work well with. So reviewing others’ works was my new go-to for the creative need in my life. Eventually, it became a chore, a job, and something else I had to stress over. For awhile, I didn’t mind. I loved helping, until I realized that my stress levels were rising and even though I may have had good intentions, I was no longer helping anyone anymore.

Spreading oneself thin is something we do everyday. Life is a crazy circus and we all have our balls up in the air, juggling them desperately to avoid dropping one. But what happens when one ball does drop? The rhythm is thrown off and ALL the balls fall leaving the juggler with nothing but empty air.

So what does one do?

Something has to give.

And something finally gave out.

To backtrack just a minute, let me explain something about me as a person. I get pushed and pushed a lot. And generally, I take it until…something small makes me snap. Seriously, I can put up with all sorts of b.s. and high levels of stress for months and then the littlest thing will set me off and I will shut it all down.

Sadly, that moment happened last night. Something small. Should’ve had thicker skin for sure, but every ounce of stress and aggravation from all corners of my life rushed in at that exact second and I shut it all down.

Now there are things I can’t shut down, like my family (wouldn’t want to), caring for my elderly mom, planning my oldest kid’s graduation and college prep, etc., etc., etc., so it all came down to eliminating one thing – my writing, more specifically, my writing community.

Hopefully, this is momentary and one day I can resume writing my own works, but I can no longer keep up with my obligations to my writer friends. For that I am deeply sorry, but to tell the truth…I’m also a bit relieved. What had once been enjoyable had become stressful and a chore because I had too many balls in the air. Nothing to do with the group. They were wonderful. Just they had to fall last on my list of priorities.

My writer friends were not getting my best (who am I kidding, no one was getting my best), and I had long since stopped even posting new material for them to critique. I hadn’t written anything new in ages. Writing was no longer my “job.” It had dropped to something I’d like to do, but didn’t have time for.

That’s not being a writer.

One day I will write again…I hope. There are still tons of story ideas in my head, but until I can dedicate myself to writing, without my brain consumed with my zillion To Do lists, really…what’s the point?

So sadly, this is farewell for now, hopefully not forever.

God bless. and thank you for following me for this short time.

 

 

Inspiration

Inspiration. Where does it come from? Every writer, actually every person, has their own answer to that question. Some seek new avenues of inspiration when their usual wells run dry. As an author, I am asked all the time, what inspires my writing? What is my muse?

Well, that answer is more complicated than you’d imagine.

For example, the story of Greylyn came about years ago when I was a teenager. Not to date myself, but this was pre-Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Although I describe my main character from my urban fantasy series as a cross between Buffy, Highlander, and Highway to Heaven, the character and the story predates most of them.

Sometimes simply daydreaming sparks my muse and a story jumps into my head and doesn’t let go. This started the saga of Greylyn the Guardian Angel, but it doesn’t end there. Many hiccups and bumps and expressways were built between the light bulb idea 

and the finished product.

Sometimes dreams are the genesis for a new story, or aspect of a story that needed fluffing out. I’ll admit, I’ve had some crazy dreams, woke up with a clear idea for a fantastic new story, and then it vanishes in a poof. 

Sooooooooooo frustrating!

When I’m lucky, a thread remains wedged in my brain and eventually worms its way out so at least I have a morsel to build upon. There’s a shadow creature in Greylyn the Guardian Angel Book 1. That monster was indeed conjured up by a nightmare so vivid the image survived to be forever embedded onto paper.

People, places, things, and events serve as inspiration more often than not. For example, I was married at a beautiful Irish bed & breakfast in rural Virginia which now serves as the setting for my first urban fantasy book. Every detail from the koi pond to the gazebo to the tiny Irish pub…all real. Names and other aspects have been changed though. I tried to track down the owner to request permission to use the real name of the inn, etc. Alas, the property went under foreclosure and a seller has yet to purchase it, so there’s no one to ask so…you can guess, but for fictional purposes, the book is set at Tipperary.

A funny side note: If you’ve read The Bowman’s Inn Autumn/Winter 2017 anthology, and the first story in the book by “yours truly”, there’s a cute meet where the female main character (FMC) stabs the male main character (MMC) in the hand with darts. Unintentionally, of course. The MMC later jokingly accuses the FMC of poisoning him with a love potion with the darts.  TRUE STORY! Yes, I accidentally stabbed my now husband in the hand with darts when we first met – just not at the Bowman’s Inn. To this day, he accuses me of poisoning the darts. (Right hand raised to Heaven…I did not.)

In another short story to be included in a different anthology, coming out the end of April 2018, includes another nugget of authenticity. The bar where the FMC meets the MMC in Old Town Alexandria is real. Not where I met my husband (see above), but as a young 20-something professional in the DC metro area, I spent my fair share of time in bars in Old Town, and lots of other bars/pubs/taverns/dance clubs in the DC area. More time than I care to admit. There are other nuggets of reality in the story, but let’s leave something for you to guess what is real and what is fiction. I’ll post here when that anthology is close to being released, so PLEASE check it out.

Originally, my main character, Greylyn, had long, flowing auburn hair. However, I felt an overwhelming urge to change her appearance after going to see a classic movie at the theater. Happens to be one of my favorite movies, my favorite actress of all time, and my favorite fictional character of all time. May seem a bit controversial in this day and time, but Scarlett O’Hara is a kick-ass heroine. She’s tiny though. Petite in frame with delicate features, but fierce green eyes which captivate the audience and showcase every single emotion the character is feeling even when she’s saying the exact opposite. Now Greylyn isn’t completely based on Scarlett. For one, Greylyn would never fall for the “Ashley” type. She’s an unapologetic “Rhett” girl all the way. Also, Greylyn uses much more than her feminine wiles to get what she wants. And what she wants is usually for someone else’s benefit, not her own. But for purposes of physical characteristics…jet black raven hair and emerald eyes, petite, and stubborn to a fault…all attributes from Scarlett. (For those that are nitpicky…Vivien Leigh had blue eyes, but the Scarlett from the book had green eyes.)

Of course, sadly Vivien Leigh isn’t around anymore to play Greylyn in the movie adaptation of my book (okay, an author can dream of her book being made into a movie right? even if the chance is less than 1%). However, lately I came across a lovely young actress who I think would be perfect.

Victoria Konefal. If my dream of bringing Greylyn to the small screen or silver screen ever comes to fruition, this young woman is my pick for Greylyn.

But where was I? Of yes, inspiration.

Other sources of inspiration…music! Absolutely my favorite source of inspiration. Actually, music is exactly what inspired me to write this article.

I should’ve grown up to be a video producer because just about any song I hear, my head imagines a mini-movie telling a story…not the flashy-flashy image blips of most music videos, but real stories. Alas, I am not a music video producer.

At least once a year, my husband takes me to a concert. One year it was the Motley Crue reunion tour, but that doesn’t count for purposes of this discussion. This year, actually this past Sunday, we went to see Celtic Woman.

Sadly, I didn’t get a trip to Ireland for this concert, but I certainly felt like I was there. But that’s not where the initial inspiration started for Greylyn’s background and for location settings for the story. That was years before when I fell in love with Celtic music after listening to a Loreena McKennitt as it played in some store I no longer remember the name of.

The music speaks to me so strongly. I’ve tried explaining this phenomenon to my husband. A deep ache, like homesickness comes over me. Unbidden tears spring to my eyes and I am transported to a place I have never been, but to which I am connected. There is no logical reason for the emotions elicited by the music. It just IS.

***Upon checking a family tree for my paternal grandmother (don’t have family trees so thoroughly completed for the rest of my family), I discovered the lines traced back to a relative in 1566 (that was the absolute earliest found) in…Ireland. Finding this information, I changed the initial prologue for Book 1 of Greylyn the Guardian Angel to start the saga in 1566 in the county noted for my ancestor.***

Back to the music… The concert Sunday evoked images in my head of where my heroine grew up, the exact spot of her resurrection from her human death, the place where she met/fell in love with (he who shall remain nameless so NO SPOILERS), and where she will eventually return in the third installment of the series. As Celtic Woman sings, my mind’s eye envisions the setting, the scenery, the chill from the breeze coming off the lough, all of it. And the concert recalled for me that I had my best scene writings while listening to this music, or shortly after. Celtic music was my inspiration! The entire soundtrack for the Greylyn the Guardian Angel series could be Celtic music.

This is just one song selection that speaks “Greylyn” to me.

 

There’s a scene in Book 3 (no spoilers, I promise) that was written completely in synch with Loreena McKennitt’s “The Highwayman”.

Except…there’s always an exception, right? For fight scenes, songs such as Motley Crue’s “Primal Scream” are much more fitting. When I write battle scenes, gotta have the heavy metal on full blast.

After all that Celtic music blathering on above, I bet you weren’t expecting that one.

Regardless, inspiration can come from anywhere. If you’re a writer and having a writer’s block or just can’t quite get a hold on a story nudging around in your brain…try music. That’s my #1 go-to for story inspiration. However, also, just look around you. People you pass in the street can serve as a minor character. That cranky lady at the pharmacy can be the crotchety old lady giving your protagonist grief over something simple, but she’s also a helpmate in disguise but the hero/heroine doesn’t figure that out until it’s too late. And my best advice, place a journal and pen on your nightstand.

9 times out of 10 when you have a crazy dream that the instant you wake you know it’d make a great story…it vanishes never to be seen again after more than a couple minutes of being awake.

The world is a big, bright, beautiful place full of inspiration for those eager enough to seek it out.

Go forth, my readers! Dream. Dream Big! And WRITE ABOUT IT! Experience life and WRITE ABOUT IT!

Or…Do both!

Go be your own inspiration.

Ciao til next time!

 

 

 

 

Voting Time

This author needs your help in the form of a vote.

What for? You ask. What’s on the ballot?

Book back cover blurbs!

Yes, I need to get the book cover finalized, but I keep hedging on the blurb for the back cover. I know…I’m totally overthinking this, but isn’t this how someone chooses a book by reading the back cover? That’s what I do anyway, so I know this is extremely important.

So, I’ve whittled down my choices. Had the hubby read them through, but since he’s not an urban fantasy fan (actually he only reads non-fiction), I’m not completely comfortable going with his opinion. Please don’t tattle on me! I trust my readers, who are more than familiar with urban fantasy fiction, to help me make the correct decision.

I will present the top three selections for the back cover blurb, and you VOTE!

Now I don’t have a vote tallying algorithm or anything (I’m not that techie) so please just leave a comment with your choice.

The main criteria being, which blurb (if any of them) makes you want to read this story. If none of the blurbs make you want to read the story, PLEASE say so.

Option 1:

Protecting humans from their own demons and the more nefarious real ones…that’s her job as a guardian angel. But as soon as Greylyn arrives at a quaint bed and breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley, she senses evil and she instinctively knows what, or more like “who”, to expect – Kael, a sexy dark guardian working for Hell. Expecting a battle, she’s shocked to discover he’s there for the same reason she is…to protect an innocent young bride whom Hell has marked for death. But why?

Seems Kael’s boss, a deviously wicked fallen archangel named Olivier, has plans for the young woman. Too bad, those plans involve holding her life over Greylyn’s head as collateral.

Olivier wants one thing…for Greylyn to fulfill a long dormant prophecy – one so dangerous that it wasn’t even written down. Neither Heaven nor Hell wishes it to be unleashed. They’ll stop at nothing to make sure Greylyn fails.

 

Option 2:

Guardian angel, Greylyn saves innocent humans from their own inner demons or the more nefarious real ones. However, a notorious fallen archangel holds the lives of a mother and her unborn child over Greylyn’s head to force her to consummate a dormant, but deadly prophecy. One so deadly that Heaven didn’t even write it down.

Enemies for over four centuries, Greylyn has fought the dark guardian, Kael; and fought her desire for him. However, to discover what the prophecy entails and to protect innocents, she must work with the dashing dark guardian. Together they will battle both Heaven and Hell as neither side wishes the prophecy to be fulfilled. But the real battle will be over their own hearts.

The Rekindled Prophecy: Greylyn the Guardian Angel is an urban fantasy novel with strong undertones of romance and sex appeal between two enemies – one working for Heaven, the other working for Hell.

 

Option 3:

Protecting humans from their own demons and the more nefarious real ones…that’s her job as a guardian angel. Greylyn knows no other life.

 

Just another day in the last 450 years of her existence, just another simple assignment in the lush picturesque Shenandoah Valley. But nothing is ever simple in a guardian’s life.

A sexy dark guardian, Kael, who has tormented her heart and soul at every turn, arrives to at the quaint bed and breakfast posing as a friend of a soon-to-be married couple. Despite the undeniable sexual chemistry threatening to engulf them, Greylyn vows to save the young couple from his treacherous grasp. But this time, Kael has an altogether different agenda, or so he claims. This time he’s there to protect the bride as Hell has marked her for death. But why? Seems his boss, a notoriously wicked fallen archangel, has plans for the young woman. Too bad, those plans involve holding her life over Greylyn’s head as collateral.

Olivier wants one thing…for Greylyn to fulfill a long dormant prophecy – one so dangerous that neither Heaven nor Hell wishes it to be unleashed.

 

Thanks, dear readers! Your support is deeply appreciated as Book 1 of Greylyn the Guardian Angel series gets closer to publication.

 

The End – This Time for Real

It is with a mixture of great joy and sorrow that I typed those two precious words at the bottom of the page of Book 3 (working title: Remembrance & Revelation) of the Greylyn the Guardian Angel series.

THE END

Who would’ve thought I’d struggle through one of the most heart-wrenching scenes I have ever written (no spoilers here, I promise) while surrounded by dozens if not hundreds of screaming kids at an indoor trampoline facility for a birthday party? Seriously? Who does that? I can’t imagine Jane Austen penning the declaration of love scene between Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennett while children ran wild around her.

Did Shakespeare create one of his great romances, comedies, or tragedies while a mob of children played Ring-Around-the-Rosy around him with his parchment and quill?

Perhaps he did.

Regardless, that was how THE END came to be for my first urban fantasy trilogy.

***Side note – PLEASE stop me if I say I’m going to write another series. Kick my a** if necessary, but do not let me do that again.

But that’s a subject for another day. Actually, I may have written about that already. Yes. Yes, I did.

https://kcfreemanauthor.com/2018/02/08/the-perils-of-writing-a-series/

So back to THE END…

Each book in the series has had it’s own temporary ending, with the allure of more adventures to follow. I hope everyone will enjoy every word of all three books, and will look upon the end of Book 3 as all you’ve ever wanted for the characters, but please understand that not all twists and turns are meant to be tied up in neat little bows. Honestly, I think it is against a writer’s nature not to leave something out there in the ether for readers to ponder long after they’ve finished reading.

My favorite explanation of this phenomenon came from Chuck in the hit television series SUPERNATURAL. I lot of my favorite quotes come from Chuck.

“Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There’s always gonna be holes. And since it’s the ending, it’s all supposed to add up to something. I’m telling you, they’re a raging pain in the ass.”

Chuck

And of course, the ultimate tease…

So how should we celebrate THE END? I’d give you an excerpt of Book 3 but you have a lot of reading to do to catch up. Yes, I know that’s my own fault. Book 1 “Rekindled Prophecy” will be available soon. Getting the book cover gussied up and once I get this marketing thing figured out (insert evil laugh), we are all set!

Instead of giving you a quick look into Book 3 and the ending, how about we start off with a few nuggets from Book 1?

The long-anguished over blurb…

For over 450 years, guardian angel, Greylyn McLeod has fought to protect the souls of innocent humans from their own inner demons and the more nefarious real ones. A sexy dark guardian, Kael, has kept a close watch on her, tormenting her very heart and soul as an undeniable sexual chemistry threatens to engulf them with every encounter. Called to the rural Shenandoah Valley, she finds herself working with him to protect a young bride from a wicked fallen archangel’s game to bring about a long dormant prophecy — one so dangerous that neither Heaven nor Hell wishes it to be unleashed.

Here’s another blurb. Which do you prefer for the book cover?

Protecting humans from their own demons and the more nefarious real ones…that’s her job as a guardian angel. Greylyn knows no other life.

Just another day in the last 450 years of her existence, just another simple assignment in the lush picturesque Shenandoah Valley. Not quite.

As soon as she arrives at the quaint bed and breakfast, Greylyn senses evil and she instinctively knows what, or more like “who”, to expect – Kael, a sexy dark guardian working for Hell. He’s tormented her heart and soul for centuries as an undeniable sexual chemistry threatens to engulf her with every encounter. Expecting a battle, she’s shocked to discover he’s there for the same reason she is…to protect an innocent young bride whom Hell has marked for death. But why?

Seems Kael’s boss, a notoriously wicked fallen archangel, has plans for the young woman. Too bad, those plans involve holding her life over Greylyn’s head as collateral.

Olivier wants one thing…for Greylyn to fulfill a long dormant prophecy – one so dangerous that neither Heaven nor Hell wishes it to be unleashed.

 

Last week, I gave you the Prologue so we need something “more” this week. How about this nugget where our heroine, Greylyn, meets up with the sexy dark guardian, Kael under the gazebo at a quaint bed and breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley?

The shadow didn’t move. As she neared the gazebo, the scurrying of a squirrel up the tree behind her was enough to warn the entity of her presence. It still didn’t move. Maybe this was a dumb one. Now, wouldn’t that be lucky?  As usual, luck was not in her corner.

“Hello, Greylyn! Long time, no see. Did you miss me?” a husky male voice called.

Chills ran up her spine at the friendly greeting, and her breath caught in her throat. Not only was she discovered, but that voice belonged to the one dark guardian she never wanted to tangle with again. Kael. The menace had been showing up repeatedly ever since she began battling for good shortly after her “rebirth.” She had never in her over 400 years of being a guardian angel encountered the same evil being twice…except for this one. He took immense pleasure in subverting her efforts, and it always felt like he was toying with her.

Trying her best to sound unruffled, she countered, “Well, I would say it’s great to see you, but we both know that it’s not.” With more bravado than she felt, she stepped out of the shade of the trees into full view of her opponent.

Yes, it was definitely him, with that charming, cocky grin. She despised him for all the evil he had unleashed on the world and untold damage to humanity, but more so for the way he made her weak in the knees. With him around, Greylyn would have to be extra careful. Her head was never clear when he was near.

“Dare I ask what you are doing here aside from disturbing my vacation?” Despite her best efforts, her voice wavered.

With a soft chuckle he emerged from the shadowed corner of the gazebo. Tall, dark, and sinfully handsome. His deep cocoa-brown eyes danced wickedly, alight with gold flecks that could hypnotize even the strongest mind. She had discovered long ago that directly gazing into those seductive pools was more dangerous than teetering on the edge of a volcano. Although unsusceptible to regular demon thrall, the same did not apply to him.

He strode over to Greylyn, took and gently kissed her hand. “Come sit with me, love.”

Damn it!

His touch sent an electrical surge through her entire body. Her breath caught in her chest. Every nerve ignited.

She steeled herself for any further interaction, digging her nails into her palms so as to not reveal his influence over her.

His chestnut brown hair, with just a touch of auburn highlights, swept his forehead just above brooding, dreamy eyes.

Get it together, girl!

“Love,” he drawled with a slightly southern, cowboy twang, “we both know this is no vacation. Although I don’t see why we can’t have some fun.” The side of his mouth ticked up in one corner, showcasing his dimple.

She watched in involuntary fascination as he continued to stroke the top of her hands, “Dear, dear, Greylyn. Why don’t you save yourself the trouble? Go on a real vacation. The Shenandoah Mountains are lovely this time of year, and I know how much you enjoy hiking.”

She would almost swear she saw sparks flying off her skin from his caress.

“No thanks, Kael. Tempting, but I’d rather kick your ass back to Hell.”

 

A little bit of romantic intrigue. While the series is firmly planted in Urban Fantasy, it does have strong undertones of sex appeal, the allure of the bad boy, and romance.

Also, thought I’d leave you with a teaser photo of the epic couple.

greylyn and kael pic

Okay, so as a guardian angel, Greylyn does not technically have wings. Think of the wings as metaphorical.

After I recover from my THE END party hangover, I will be up to my neck in edits. But I promise more and more teasers to come very soon.

 

Prologue or Not to Prologue, That is the Question

I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating the question into the ether…

Are prologues out or are they in?

As I’m wrapping up the draft for Book 3 of my Greylyn the Guardian Angel series, I once again find myself asking the same question I asked when I started the series. Do I introduce the character from the very beginning (450 years ago when she awoke in her own grave) as part of a prologue before diving deep into the story which is set in modern times USA (at least in Book 1, Rekindled Prophecy)? Or do I include this aspect of the story as a chapter or eliminate it altogether?

Trouble is, no one agrees. Some people love prologues and epilogues. Others don’t. Some declare that prologues and epilogues are out of fashion in the publishing world. Some say…do your own thing, to hell with current trends. What’s a writer to do?

Seriously, everyone has their own opinion and everyone thinks their opinion is the correct one. BUT, there is no correct answer. So again, I ask…what’s a writer to do?

To utilize an early 90’s (maybe late 80’s song) “Listen to Your Heart”. Think that was by Roxette, but don’t quote me on it. That time period is a little hazy (college days, no other explanation needed).

What I’ve learned in this whole writing process is that each author has to be true to one person, and one person only…themselves. If an author isn’t happy with his/her story, what is the friggin’ point?

Now, some authors write to template, write exactly according to genre or industry standards and beats just in hopes he/she will be published. To some, that is their only goal…to be published. They don’t have to like their own story, and that is a shame.

However, I have struggled with this a bit myself. Who am I writing for? I’d revise my story because someone reviewed it and made a comment that if I really wanted to make it sell, I had to do x, y, and z. Later, I’d read over the changes and go…OH HELL NO! That ain’t right! I can’t tell you how many times I have written, removed, rewritten, removed, ….paragraphs, chapters, and the woefully humble prologues for each book.

This is just my perspective. To each his/her own, but for me I have to be honest to myself and to my story. After all, the characters, the scenes, the plot have been rattling around in my skull for so long that I can’t deny them their chance to shine. If that requires a prologue, then LET THERE BE A PROLOGUE! Maybe the next story won’t need it, but as the sole person responsible for my story…Greylyn the Guardian Angel series will start with a prologue in each book.

So just for giggles, here is a taste of Book 1 “Rekindled Prophecy: Greylyn the Guardian Angel” series — the long-suffering prologue…

Prologue – Reborn

Fermanagh’s Lakelands – Lough Erne

December 31, 1566

 

The sharp scent of cut pine intermingled with a fainter, but pungent earthen odor assailed her nostrils. Her eyes fluttered open. Only darkness.

The air was damp and heavy – oppressive – like a weighted blanket holding her down. Her lungs ached as they struggled for air. Her limbs felt stiff as she tried to sit up. She smacked her head before she was fully upright.

Ouch!

She strained her ears, listening for some sound, any sound. Nothing but her labored breathing and the rapid thudding of her heart.

Where am I?

Shaking, her fist pounded against the wall to her right, just a few inches away. It was wood, thin wood planks. Reaching up, she was unable to extend her arm above her body more than a couple of inches, her hand came in contact with more wooden planks. Splinters pierced her palm and wedged deeply into the tender skin. She yanked her hand back. Cold sweat broke out on her entire body.

Oh, dear Lord! I’m in a coffin!

The realization unleashed a wave of panic. Her mouth gaped open wordlessly, her throat too dry and constricted to scream.

Oh, dear God! No! That’s impossible!

Bitter tears welled up in her eyes. She punched against the wood over her head as fiercely as she could again and again. She wasn’t sure how long she did this. Could have been minutes or hours. Finally, she gave up and slumped in defeat. Little daggers of pain shot through her fists and up her arms, while warm liquid seeped between her fingers.

Calm down. Just settle down and think clearly. There has to be a way out. I cannot be trapped in a coffin. That’s impossible.

Gingerly, her fingers felt around the box, searching for an edge or a possible opening. After a while, she found a small latch in the upper right corner of the box. Furiously, she worked to manipulate the latch, but couldn’t get a hold of it. The substance coating her fingers caused them to slip along the surface.

Her fist punched a hole in the wooden slab above her head. She had no idea she had that kind of strength. Dirt fell into the box and covered her chest and face. Spitting the debris from her lips in an effort to scream, she continued to pound and kick. She beat upon the wood until it finally gave way. More pungent earth poured down on her, filling her nostrils and mouth.

I’m going to choke or suffocate to death.

Holding her breath, she pushed and clawed her way up and out of the tight enclosure. With her eyes screwed shut against the debris filling the coffin, she burrowed through the tightly packed earth by jabbing out with her hands. Her chest burned with the need for air.

Please, oh God, save me! I don’t’ want to die.

Renewed strength rocketed through her body. Furiously she dug upward and kicked against the coffin below to propel her up faster as if swimming in an underground sea, chained to a sinking ship.

Just as hope gave out, fresh, frigid air touched the tips of her fingers as they broke through the surface. Clawing and kicking, the dirt gave way until she was able to latch onto the ground and drag herself all the way up – free from her earthen grave. Icy shards pierced lungs as she gasped for air. Crumbling on the ground, she vomited dirt.

Hunched over, her body convulsing in the final throes of dry-heaving, a faint chuckle caught her attention.

She turned her face towards the sound. At first, everything was blurring. Blinking, grains of dirt caked onto her lashes fell away. More blinking, her eyes brought into focus the gloom of an icy moonless and starless night. Then finally she was able to out the shadow of a tall figure lounging against the side of a large oak tree.

“Well, it’s about time you made it out. I’ve been waiting all night. A few more moments and I would have left without you,” the shadowed man said in a foreign accent. With a subtle bow, he added, “Jasper Moreau at your service, my Milady.” His silhouette separated from the tree and strolled without urgency over to where she lay on the ground. His books were shiny with garish gold buckles, as if he were walking into a palace, not standing in the middle of a dirt field.

Get up and run! Why won’t my body cooperate?

Her ordeal had left her weak. So weak that she could barely lift her head to gaze up at him. The muscles in her neck twitched with the effort. Her mind ordered her legs to jump up and run, but nothing happened. A new wave of panic rocked her body, threatening to overspill in a fresh round of dry-heaving.

Her vision cleared as the stranger came closer. Strikingly tall with broad shoulders, his clothing was fancy. Difficult to make out the details of his finery in the dim light, but the long coattails and shiny buttons and frilly sleeves were a dead giveaway he did not belong here.

She pushed herself up on trembling arms and lifted her head from the ground. “If you knew I was trapped under the ground, why did you not help me?”

“Sorry, Milady,” he said with a slight touch of sarcasm. “I could not assist you. There are no headstones or markers in this quaint little cemetery and there appear to be several fresh grave sites. I simply could not find you in time. I do hope you will accept my sincerest apology.”

Sincerest apology? Was he ridiculing her? However, something in the smoothness of his voice or his nonthreatening stance gave her a sense of calmness – that she had no need to fear this man. Still, how could she be certain?

A tingling sensation washed over her body, as energy flooded back into her limbs. First, she wiggled her toes, then shook out her legs that moments earlier had refused to move. Pulling her legs towards her body, she sat up and took a long look around. After the black of the coffin, even the cloud-filled night sky seemed bright and welcoming. She sat on the edge of a small graveyard between a sheep pasture and a thick forest. In the distance, silhouettes of buildings stood out, with one taller than the rest with a pointed steeple.

The moon peeked out between the dense cloud cover for just a moment, offering enough illumination that she could make out the visage of the stranger. Long jet-black hair pulled into a ponytail. When he reached over to help her up from the ground, she smelled his sweet musky scent and noticed his startling blue eyes set against deep olive skin. His eyes glowed in the darkness. She was taken aback by their intensity. He seemed to peer into her soul. She found herself on her feet without any recollection of standing. When she looked down at his hand on her arm, he released her. The tranquility abruptly ended.

“Madam, I realize you may be distressed about your predicament. Allow me to reassure you that you are now indeed safe. You will never need to fear the grave again.”

How dare he act so nonchalant about this situation? And say such nonsensical things! She rounded on him, her voice rising. “How is that precisely? Someone buried me alive! You did nothing about it. How can you stand there and smugly say that you could not help me?”

His eyes narrowed and a nerve ticked just under his left eye. The look, more than the silence, unnerved her.

This couldn’t possibly get worse.

“Milady, you were not buried alive,” he said. “You were very much dead.”

She was wrong.

Pain, like she had just been punched in the gut, doubled her over. Bile rose in her throat. Her heart skipped a beat, or several. Unable to take in a breath, her hands flew to her throat. Her lungs clamored for air, but her body refused to perform the function of inhaling air.

Breathe. Dammit! Breathe.

Intense emotional pain throbbed behind her eyes, blinding her as she fought to come to terms with his statement.

“You were very much dead.” The statement echoed in her ears.

She collapsed back onto the cold ground. Unable to speak, a low, raspy moan escaped her lips.

This was impossible. Some cruel, sick joke. Convinced she was caught in the throes of a horrific nightmare, she shook her head violently, shutting her eyes against the world. Her stomach clenched in a fresh bout of convulsions. Judgment Day had come for her.

Distress permeated her being, blocking out everything. She almost forgot about the mysterious man until he spoke again in a calm and soothing tone, a hand rubbed her back. “Please, do not fret. You are certainly not dead now.”

Somehow, that was not reassuring. Sputtering, she forced herself to look up at him. “Then what exactly am I?”

A smile spread over his face, showcasing perfect white teeth. “Think of it as being reborn. This night is your new birthday, if you will. The night you were resurrected into your true being.”

Blinking in disbelief, she was afraid to ask. “Reborn as what? One is either dead or alive? What does that make me?”

The man waved his hands around at the farmland and the dire graveyard. “You are no longer of this world. Earthly cares and weaknesses will no longer afflict you. You, my dear, have transformed into a being of light and truth, a warrior for good.”

A weak giggle escaped her, which evolved into hysterical sobs. The insanity of the situation was too much. She must’ve lost her mind. Either she was unstable, or he was. Perhaps they both were.

Resurrected into heaven on the Day of Judgment? Yes. She very much hoped so. But resurrected back onto Earth while trapped inside her own grave? No, not possible. If that were indeed the case, she was desperate to wake up. “Please, please wake up.”

Rivulets of tears streamed down her dirt-stained face as her thin body convulsed on the ground. Indiscernible mutterings escaped her parched lips. She didn’t even understand what she was saying. Was it a prayer? Or was she just mad?

The stranger had walked over to a farm cart situated at the edge of the cemetery and patted the hay bale next to him as a signal for her to join him.

“Milady, please let me explain. This must all seem bizarre and unnatural to you right now, but I assure you that what I say is true. My intent is to help you, not hurt you.” He waited for her to sit beside him before continuing in a patient tone as if consoling a distraught child. “I should have been more considerate in my statements considering all you have undergone tonight.”

Her mind wanted to scream at him.

You inconsiderate bastard! This isn’t funny.

But no words came out of her mouth.

He peered up at the cloud-covered sky in silence for a few moments. Sitting beside him now, she felt an overwhelming sense of calm. It surprised her, as only moments before she had been in such agony and abject fear.

He broke the silence. “However, we should not tarry too long. It would not be a good idea for the locals to find a dead person up and walking around when they start their daily chores. They might mistake you for a witch or a demon, and then what would we do?” He chuckled softly. She did not find his statements amusing in the least.

That’s what you’re worried about? Someone mistaking me for witch? You just told me that I’m undead. That’s worse.

His words cut through her muddled thoughts. After a brief pause, he added, “Also, I hate to mention this, milady, but you are certainly in need of a good warm bath and new clothes. You look and smell dreadful.”

Really? Am I supposed to care how I look? I’m undead.

However, looking down at her torn rag of a dress, she agreed. He was right. She must look horrendous. A giggle burst out of her. It felt good to laugh.

Jasper smiled with satisfaction. “Now, that’s better. Just rest and quiet your thoughts. All that screaming inside your head is giving me a headache.” As if to make a point, he rubbed the bridge of his nose with long, elegantly manicured fingers.

“How can you hear the screaming inside my head?”

He just smiled, a cockeyed side grin with a glint in his eyes.

“Milady, I am here to escort you to your new … afterlife, as it were.” He stated this as if it were a simple fact, not to be questioned. “You certainly cannot remain here.”

Well, that seems rather obvious. Where exactly am I supposed to go? 

The sky had begun to lighten to a dull gray. With the sunrise just over the hills, the stranger appeared increasingly anxious. “There is a lot to tell you and little time to do so. Please know that I only have your best interests at heart and will accommodate you in any way possible to ease your transition.”

“My transition? To what exactly? I was dead and now I’m not. I’m grateful to be alive, but not sure you are the person qualified to help me. You certainly haven’t so far.”

The entire situation was absurd. A burning sensation rose in her breast. Anger scorched away the thin veil of peace she had felt barely a minute ago.

“Milady…”

“Will you stop calling me that?” unsure why the term bothered her so.

“Well, what shall I call you then?” His voice carried a perturbed taint.

She should know the answer, but she somehow it eluded her. After a few embarrassing moments of trying to recall her name, the truth hit her hard. She simply didn’t know. Dejected, she slumped against the cart. How could she not know her name? Who she was? There was no recollection of anything before waking in the coffin underground.

“Well, Milady, since you dislike the title, perhaps I can utilize your human name. There was no grave marker. Do you recall it?”

She shook her head. Tears built up at the corners of her eyes, blurring her vision again.

“Well, that is most unfortunate…and odd. I have to say I’ve never known a guardian to have amnesia.” The man paused a moment and gave her a strange look, as if he were at a loss for what to do or say based on this news. “Why don’t we pick out a new name befitting your new status as a guardian angel? That will be fun.”

Now she had to have heard that wrong. “Excuse me? My new status as what?”

This was too much. She was now supposed to believe she was some sort of an angel? This must be a bad dream or she was suffering from a terrible affliction of the mind.

As an afterthought, she hazarded a glance over her shoulder. No wings.

“No, no, no! You are not insane! You are not dreaming either.”

How did he know what she was thinking? Did he really hear the screaming inside her head?

Laying a hand on her upper arm, a mysterious calming sensation spread from the point of contact until it filled her entire being. “I do apologize. You want answers. You need answers. You deserve answers. Truly, I understand. But it is starting to get light out now so we must hurry. Our discussion can be held once we are a safe distance from here. However, if you need a name right now, hmmm…”

Looking around, he thrummed his long index finger against his chin. “Well, there’s nothing extraordinary to connect you to this place.” His finger shot up in the air dramatically. “I know. There’s this lovely castle not too far from here. Some friends of mine lived there years ago. The name of the estate always stood out to me as being quite beautiful.”

Emotionally and physically exhausted, she was unsure what to say. At this point, he could call her “Dirt,” for all it mattered.

A broad smile lit up the stranger’ face. It gave her a strange sense of comfort again, as the fluttering in her chest subsided.

“Fantastic! You shall henceforth be named Greylyn,” he pronounced dramatically. “Now, that is settled, off we go…Greylyn.”

In one elegant movement he took her arm in the crook of his own. His touch had a soothing effect as he guided her away from the small cemetery as the horizon glowed with the encroaching dawn.

The sky lightened with a deep amber hue. A rooster crowed off in the distance. Surprisingly, she found comfort in the presence of the stranger whose beauty was now revealed by the morning sunlight.

Just as the giant orb rose over the vast rolling hillside, she had an opportunity to survey her surroundings and her new friend, Jasper. As they walked away from the dreary village cemetery, the white light radiating from the sky illuminated the snow-covered hills a short distance away.

With one hand shoved into a pocket sewn into her dismal-looking gown of rough wool, her fingers found a tiny, round metal object. Touching the item brought a sense of peace. Gazing in awe at the unnatural beauty of the man beside her as the sun’s rays kissed his face, it was almost as if she dared to set eyes on the visage of an angel.

 

 

 

The End…

the end is near

No need to panic. This is not the end of the world. Kim Jong-Un did not drop a nuke on CPAC, much to a certain journalist’s chagrin. Washington DC did not implode with the release of both a Republican Congressional memo and the Democratic Congressional memo essentially saying the same thing (rant for another day about how Congress is the governmental body…there is no Republican Congress and no Democratic Congress, just Congress…but I digress.) There was no catastrophic global event ending civilization. The Olympics are OVER, but even that is not THE END.

No, what I’m talking about is the joy and sorrow of typing out those two tiny words THE END when writing a novel. Now, I may be getting ahead of myself since so for my trilogy, I’ve only been able to type the words TO BE CONTINUED at the end of two books. But dear readers, I am in the home stretch and I can see THE END.

Yes, book 3 of Greylyn the Guardian Angel series is less than 2 chapters from completion. Whereas the story was initially going to be 4 books, I just couldn’t drag out my heroine’s struggle for another 80K words and decided three books was quite enough. Everything in threes, right? Star Wars installments come out in threes (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, & Return of the Jedi – the only ones that truly count). There were three Lord of the Rings. Three initial Indiana Jones movies (and should have stuck with just three, but that’s another rant entirely). All good things seem to come in three’s. So Greylyn will also be a trilogy.

Where was I? Oh, yes. THE END.

Truly I was going to hold off on the celebration blog post about THE END but got a little tipsy with the next step to seeing Greylyn off to the presses. I ordered the book cover! Wish I could reveal it here, but the lovely artist Yvonne Nikolova from Ammonia is working on it as we speak, or more correctly – as I type.

For months I struggled with THE END. Something was amiss, but a bad case of writer’s block and an overbooked family schedule kept me from seeing the light (see above light at the end of the tunnel meme). Just needed some perspective.

Now, I “see” the end. All the little tendrils of the story over three books coming together. Now I’m sure there will be some things not neatly tied up in a bow for the readers, but I’m fine with that because I want my readers to continue dreaming of the characters and the story long after their eyes see 

So it is with great joy, and a few tears that I tap out the final words in the Greylyn the Guardian Angel series. These characters, this story, have haunted me for decades. Life got in the way and prevented me from putting the words to paper (or to computer screen if we’re being literal) for so long, but Greylyn, Kael, & even Jasper never left me. They screamed and beat against my skull until I could make time for them to come out to play.

Now they have been unleashed, and soon their story will be available for all to read. Or no one to read. If someone picks up my story, I will be thrilled. If no one does, that’s fine too. Because this has never been about bringing Greylyn to the masses. It has been an exorcism of my own demons. A story that had to be told where good and evil must co-exist and even work together, where love breaks the barriers of good and evil for its own sake.

In the words of Supernatural’s Chuck…