Read the first chapter of The Cruelest Curse

The Cruelest Curse hits shelves on November 30th! This is the conclusion to the Dark and Otherworldly series (Start at the beginning with Poison and Honey if you haven’t already), and the story is ending with a bang. Expect tons of sword fights, at least one steamy scene, and one very cruel curse as the title promises.

Want a preview? Check out the first chapter below.

The Cruelest Curse Cover

Chapter 1

Dredarion nearly stepped on the first dead sprite. She lay atop fallen leaves, body no taller than his finger, her delicate arms and legs limp. She’d lost her glow, and one of her butterfly-like wings was bent. She must have choked on the smoke and fallen.

They came across more of them, tiny corpses strewn across grass and tree roots, their colorful wings waving in the breeze and giving the illusion of life. Dredarion and the others stepped carefully. The smoke grew stronger the farther through the forest they trekked. It conspired with the leaves overhead to blot out the sun, so thick between the trees that it obscured everything more than ten feet away. His eyes stung, but that was nothing compared to the cold lump of dread that had settled in his gut. When he coughed, the sound seemed to carry through the entire forest.

Salvador raised a hand for them to stop, and both Dredarion and Leigh obeyed. Dredarion scanned the trees for a threat, but it seemed Salvador was just being cautious. They must nearly be upon the village—or what was left of it, judging by the ash floating in the air.

Continue reading Read the first chapter of The Cruelest Curse

Read the First Chapter of Sting of Thorns

We are less than a month away from the September 15th release of Sting of Thorns, my urban fantasy novella about fey curses, conflicted loyalties, and magic swords. Check out the first chapter below!

Sting of Thorns Cover

Chapter 1

Dredarion Rath reached the stairs to the dungeons and paused. He felt feverish, sweating under his armor, though the halls of the palace were crisp and cool. He inhaled slowly and started down the steps—not because he was ready but because he couldn’t allow any of his people to see their prince hesitate.

The ceiling was so low that he nearly had to duck. The stone steps were timeworn, the gray brick walls chipped and water stained. The graceful opulence that infused every inch of the palace was absent down there. The light fixtures were the only similarity: metallic lanterns imprisoning tiny glowing sprites, though these were in a sorry state. Their feeble, greenish light barely penetrated the dirty glass, and they shrank from him as he stalked past.

At the bottom of the stairs awaited a damp, chilly chamber that turned his sweaty skin cold and clammy. The stench of piss and feces lingered amid the mildewy air, though the cells lining the right wall were empty save one prisoner:

Leigh Morgan, the woman Dredarion had once thought he might love. Continue reading Read the First Chapter of Sting of Thorns

Read the First Chapter of Poison and Honey

Do you like urban fantasy? How about tough, determined heroines? Cunning, villainous princes? If you answered yes, then have I got the ebook for you.

If you want a sneak peek of Poison and Honey, check out the entire first chapter below.

Poison and Honey Cover

Chapter 1

Leigh Morgan was having a nightmare about the horse-headed man when someone shook her awake. Her eyelids shot open, and every muscle in her body tensed. Where was she? Where was the closest weapon?

Awareness followed a second after consciousness. Kitchens. Dozed off. No danger. Well, no serious danger anyway. Mistress Yibba’s plump face filled her vision, the disapproving line of her mouth like a cut in a lump of dough. She slapped Leigh for nodding off, which Leigh took without comment. Thank God Mistress Yibba had woken her up first. If she’d slapped Leigh while she’d been sleeping, Leigh might have struck back before she could stop herself, and that would have been a disaster.

“Lady Kalivildra rang for tea,” Mistress Yibba said. “Bring it to her room. Quickly.”

Her tone would have been threatening if Mistress Yibba were… well, threatening. But she was just bluster and sloppy slaps. Pretending to be contrite, Leigh took the tea tray from Mistress Yibba’s hands, bowed, and left the drowse-inducing heat of the kitchens for the cool palace halls.

It was late at night—early morning really—but the evening’s revelries were still winding down. Music drifted through the corridors, an enchanting nocturne that enticed the listener to search for its source. An open door to one of the gardens revealed a woman in a luminous ball gown, dancing with several naked, green-skinned men. Moans came from a secluded corner where two half-dressed, inhuman bodies were entwined. A drunken man stumbled to bed, the feathers of his wings ruffled and his ornamental mask askew. Leigh walked past it all, more bored than anything.

Until someone grabbed her arm and pulled her into a shadowed alcove. Continue reading Read the First Chapter of Poison and Honey

Superhuman Disaster Sneak Peak

We’re less than a week away from the new release date of Superhuman Disaster–and I’m actually on track to meet it this time! To celebrate, here’s a sneak peak of the first chapter. Thanks again to all of you for your patience, and I hope you like it!

Superhuman Disaster Chapter 1

Chapter 1

When I slept, I dreamt of death.

I stood in an amusement park surrounded by the dead. Their bodies lay in lines, blood running down the walls, brains splattered across the pavement, guts baking under the hot sun. They slumped over the counter in front of brightly lit carnival games, corpses strapped into rollercoasters that zoomed overhead. Their silence filled the expanse.

I fought the supervillain Bloodbath, too late to save anyone from him. We traded punch after punch, and it seemed like we’d be doomed to battle forever until I finally hit him hard enough, and he joined the rest of the dead at my feet. My triumph instantly turned to a sense of overwhelming wrongness, and the glassy eyes of the corpses stared at me in judgement. As I looked around, I couldn’t help but wonder…

Had Bloodbath killed these people, or had I? Continue reading Superhuman Disaster Sneak Peak

Read the first chapter of Kill Them All

We’re less than two months away from the release date of Kill Them All! I like to call this novel a “supervillain revenge thriller,” so expect lots of superpowered action and a snarky first-person POV. I love writing Val, a glamorous, middle-aged, semi-retired supervillain who just wants to protect her family. Though loving her doesn’t stop me from putting her through hell in this book. 😉

A big thank you to everyone who’s been following The White Knight and Black Valentine Series from the beginning, and a warm welcome to new readers who just discovered the books recently! I hope this preview gets you hyped, and that you enjoy the whole book when it hits the shelves. Continue reading Read the first chapter of Kill Them All

The Ghost Machine Sale and Extras

Ghost Machine CoverHey, guys! If you haven’t read The Ghost Machine yet, it’s on sale for 99¢ this week as part of the promotion for Clockmaker‘s upcoming release. Grab the ebook off Amazon before it goes back up to $3.99 this weekend.

Also, I had so much fun making a Pinterest board for Clockmaker that I decided to make one for The Ghost Machine, too. Check it out to see pictures of beautiful Victorian Era gowns, steampunk robots, and spooky scenery.

Finally, here’s a bonus look at one of my early drafts of The Ghost Machine‘s first chapter. It’s not as drastically different as that early draft of Hero Status that I posted a while back, but there are still some interesting changes.

The Ghost Machine was originally an epistolary novel told entirely through diary entries and letters like Dracula or The Woman in White. When early beta feedback pointed out that format killed the tension, I changed it to a regular novel with letters and journal entries spaced throughout. Continue reading The Ghost Machine Sale and Extras

Clockmaker Sneak Peak

Two weeks until Clockmaker drops! Are you excited? I’m excited. As we count down to release day, here’s a sneak peak at the first chapter. I really enjoyed writing from Melek’s point of view, and I hope you like this little teaser.

Chapter 1

Clockmaker CoverI read the telegram one last time before crumpling the paper into a ball and tossing it to the floor. My stomach clenched, and I leaned back in my chair and stared at my desk—or rather the papers showing the airship’s accounts, which I had spread across the surface. The math wouldn’t change no matter how many times I checked it. Too many expenses and too little income; that was the hard, uncaring truth.

Despite being the captain’s quarters, my room was as small and cramped as the rest of the ship. The Sultana had been built to fly fast and strike hard, not indulge passengers with luxury. High shelves stuffed with records, books, and maps encroached menacingly on my desk. They lined every wall except the one I’d had constructed to separate my office from my bedchambers. That one displayed ornamental sabers and some beautiful blue İznik pottery that had belonged to my mother (strapped very securely to the shelf). If all else failed, I supposed I could sell the pottery for some extra funds. Turkish ceramics would fetch a decent price here in France.

Two sharp knocks at the door announced Emin, and I told him to enter.

“I beg your pardon, Captain.” My first mate, Emin, was a giant of a man with a thick mustache on a face that fell naturally into a gloomy glower. He wore an old Ottoman military coat over baggy navy pants, and a red fez topped his head at an angle. His thick belts held a sword, two pistols, and a knife, but those were only his visible weapons. He stepped on the crumpled telegram and glanced down. “Bad news from Monsieur Courtemanche?” Continue reading Clockmaker Sneak Peak

The Evolution of a Novel

Hero StatusHero Status sprang from my mind, fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus.

Lol, no. It was actually a painfully long first draft, followed by countless rewrites, beta feedback, and even more rewrites. Scenes were added, the structure tweaked, and the writing ironed out before it became the version you now read. But that’s pretty standard for most novels.

I’d almost forgotten about the bonkers early version I abandoned before going back and restarting the whole thing from scratch years later.

Way back in 2008, I started writing my first piece of superhero fiction for National Novel Writing Month in November. This was the precursor to Hero Status, though it’s pretty much unrecognizable. It starred not Dave but Elisa–or at least the character who would eventually become Elisa. She had a different name in this and a different origin, being an experiment of Dr. Sweet’s whom Dave rescued and adopted. The book was about her going off to college and dealing with Dr. Sweet’s attempts to recapture and brainwash her.

Looking back at the file, I made it about 24,000 words in before giving up. I moved on to other books, but something about the concept and characters of that old untitled novel kept calling to me. I began outlining a new version, changing Elisa’s character to being Dave and Val’s biological child and having her torn between her parents’ heroic and villainous legacies.

But I didn’t like that either.

Eventually it dawned on me: the daughter character wasn’t what made this idea interesting. It was her parents, the retired superhero and former supervillain, and the question of how two people with such conflicting morals and personalities could have such a stable, happy relationship.

Once I focused on Dave and Val, the idea for the plot followed, and Hero Status was born. But I still find that old version morbidly fascinating and thought you might, too. So here, in its unedited and awful glory, is the first chapter of the story that sparked The White Knight and Black Valentine Series: Continue reading The Evolution of a Novel

Almost Invincible Sneak Peak

We’re two weeks away from Almost Invincible‘s September 30th release date, so to celebrate, here’s an exclusive sneak peak at the first chapter. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Almost Invincible Banner

Chapter 1

Seven years ago…

 

My skull hit the pavement with a meaty crack, and my vision went blurry. As lightning pain shot through my head, it was all I could do to lie there wincing for several seconds. Eventually, I blinked and tried to refocus, my brain feeling like raw egg sloshing around inside my skull. But White Knight, said a voice in my head that sounded like a particularly annoying reporter who’d once interviewed me. You have super-strength. Surely, it couldn’t hurt that much. Yeah, I had super-strength, but that didn’t stop my nerve endings from sending pain signals to my brain, and right now, they were firing at a 110 percent.

I pushed myself up dizzily and found the pavement smashed into pieces where I’d fallen. Okay, maybe it was a good thing I had superpowers. Otherwise, my head would have burst like a piñata on impact. Noise assaulted my ears: shrieking police sirens and the steady whump-whump-whump of helicopters overhead. I hoped they belonged to the government and not a news channel recording this horror show. Union Square came into focus as my vision cleared, eerily deserted for mid afternoon except for the corpses of those who hadn’t escaped in time. They were scattered across the grass and walkways, blood pooling on the plaza. The closest to me was a leg. It had belonged to a woman wearing sandals and was ripped off from the knee down, toenails painted light pink and fair skin splattered with more blood. The coppery stench saturated the muggy summer air.

The Capitol Building stood proudly in the distance to my right, the turbid waters of the Capitol Reflecting Pool to my left, and twenty feet in front of me loomed the monster that had done this. Ten feet tall and composed of pale light that formed the shape of a man, he was difficult to see in the bright sunshine. That was problem number one. Problem number two was that nothing we’d done seemed to hurt him. Whatever he was, he’d shown up out of nowhere and hadn’t even made the traditional supervillain speech before destroying everything in his path. He moved fast for something so big, and he was currently advancing on a slender figure in a bright orange and blue uniform.

Julio. Continue reading Almost Invincible Sneak Peak

This Book is Full of Ghosts

Ghost Machine CoverGhost Machine is available on Amazon now–and already a bestseller in the young adult steampunk category. Woot! Check it out here. Not sure if it’s a book you’d like? Here’s some of the stuff you’ll find inside:

  • A creepy Victorian asylum full of ghosts
  • Airship battles
  • Mad science
  • A logical heroine and Byronic hero
  • Giant killer iron automatons

Still not sure? Then read the excerpt below:

Chapter 1

The door shut behind me with a deep thud followed by a clink as the nurse locked it from the other side. A jingle of keys, a rustle of skirts, and then the nurse’s footsteps trailed off down the hallway, leaving me alone in silence.

The meat pie I’d eaten for lunch tried to make its way back up my throat. I swallowed firmly.

My new room was small and simple. The only pieces of furniture were a bed with white blankets and a battered wooden nightstand. There was a washing basin, bucket latrine, and… well, that was all. Night was approaching fast, but they hadn’t even left me a candle. The walls were gray and bare, and metal pipes ran across the ceiling. The window had cheerful yellow curtains at least, but the effect was ruined by the iron bars outside the glass.

Bars… locks… My knees shook, and the room swam dizzily before my eyes.

No. I pressed my hand against the door to steady myself. I refused to faint, no matter how ladylike and appropriate it might be in these circumstances. Continue reading This Book is Full of Ghosts