#ThrowbackThursday

This is from the second diary in our Haven series, Helm Abomination. Verity went from the frying pan … straight into a nuclear reactor. Enjoy!

helm

Eric, Maddox, Crane, and Talon landed and drew their weapons. For these guys all to be this uneasy we had to be on the trail of something bad. I pulled my own sword and braced my stance. Eric flanked me, “We think there’s a Snee Ne-Iq here.”

God. Bless. You.

Why do I even have to ask at this point?

Talon guessed my frustration, “She’s a cannibal. Usually she just sleeps, but we believe she snatched a kid.”

“Otherwise we would leave her alone,” Wren finished.

Then I felt it. I whirled around to the mountain face and braced my body. The others followed suit. “Why are you guys still on the ground?”

“We’re high in the mountains in British Columbia. The air can be way too thin to keep aloft. It’ll be more effective if we don’t even try. Think you can handle fighting next to us for a change?” Wren winked.

“Definitely,” I quipped, “bring it on, bird man.”

Pop goes the weasel, or the Snee Ne-Iq in this case.

Usually, the first time I catch sight of one of these things that I was created to spot for my friends, my brain reels in a desperate attempt to process the pieces of the creature, so I don’t freeze up at the whole horrific picture.

The Snee Ne-Iq just looked like a woman.

A cave woman, but nothing so out of my realm of experience that my brain did the stop and stare. Or freeze and freak.

Her hair was in serious need of conditioner and a comb. She was wearing what looked like animal hides, sewn together by a blind guy, and she had long strips of leather braided over her legs to make some kind of crude boots. I couldn’t tell what color her skin was because it was so covered with dirt.

But she was no different from any other female.

When she reached the summit and saw us, she froze. Turning to the side, the Snee Ne-Iq pulled a short dagger from her belt. This is when I saw it. On her back she had a pannier, one of those things Robin Hood uses to carry his arrows? Well, this woman’s backpack had a kid inside.

A terrified little girl.

My anger flared, blistering me past caring of any outcome or problems. I saw a flash of red, and I charged. Who did this bitch think she was? Eating little girls? There’s a McDonald’s like every five minutes in my country. We are the fattest nation in the world. Canada couldn’t be much different. There was no justifiable reason to snack on tiny people. Kids have it tough enough as it is.

Have you seen how many books they have to carry home every day from school? Most of them use rolling suitcases because they’re so heavy.

I guess I’ve been paying more attention in my training than I realized.

The guys were beside me, and whenever they got close enough they pushed me back behind them. At least they were trying. The Snee Nee-Iq was more powerful than any of us realized, and she could move like lightning when her safety was in jeopardy. Then Talon went down.

These guys were ruthless and unstoppable in the air.

On the ground, they were out of their league.

Which was when the quicksilver movements of the Snee Nee-Iq took out Wren.

Eric and Crane moved to cover their fallen comrades.

Which left Maddox and me. Oh good. You know it’s going to be a crap day when you have to fight side-by-side to save the life of a kid you don’t know with a guy who hates your guts.

And wants to marry your fourteen year old little sister.

This can’t be my life.

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#WednesdayWIP

It was no small shock to come to the end of my Haven series … and discover a whole new story. Technically this isn’t a WIP, since it comes out in a week, but here’s a piece from HARBOR ABSOLUTION, hope you like it.

Eric came into the farmhouse with a hesitant step. “Verity,” he swallowed hard, “we need you to come outside.”

Ignoring him seemed like the wisest choice.

“Help us. Please?”

“I am not the ruler of Helm.”

“You are all we have.”

“Sucks to be you, huh?”

“Verity,” crouching beside me I watched from a disinterested space as he laid his hand on my arm. I couldn’t feel him. I couldn’t feel anything. “Verity, there’s a situation outside, girl. A bad one. We need you to lead us.”

“The last time I tried to lead, I got half of you killed.”

“No, girl,” his sigh made my hair move. I still felt … nothing. “The war is Cass’s fault. Not yours. No one blames you.”

“I blame myself.”

“We still need you, honey. Please come outside.”

Last time I went outside the slate tile where I stood dissolved into my bare feet and slowly moved up my legs. Looking down, I was not surprised to see that I was covered with a striped pattern, marking the places where I absorbed stone. The universe will always provide when you know how to ask. My problem was that I had asked not to feel any pain anymore. Not to feel anything at all.

So its solution was to turn me to stone.

I secretly hoped that someone would put me in the garden when there was nothing left of me but a pretty Verity statue, dressed in a miniskirt and baby doll tank.

And a great pair of heels.

Girl priorities. Get used to it.

He pulled my body from the chair where I sat staring into my Grandma’s empty hearth locked in the pain of the past. I had no family any more. Parents were gone. Grandma disappeared. Sister close to death last time I saw her, probably dead by now. Brother had been gone so long I was sure he was toast as well. Isn’t there some famous quote about being a destroyer? Oh yeah. J. Robert Oppenheimer said it at the trinity test in New Mexico. Of course, he stole it from the Bhagavad Gita. I guess I get to do some theft on him. “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

That. Was. Me.

#WednesdayWIP

She remembered. The bright light. The scream of the brakes. The sickening feeling of impact, and then the world turning around and around, until it stopped. She smelled the gas, opened her eyes to see her parents deadly still and contorted as if they were broken dolls … and then she saw the flames building, blocking the windows … cutting off all hope of escape. And finally the eye-burning flash of the car exploding. Topsy remembered every moment of the crash that killed her parents.

And ended her fifteen years on earth.

When she opened her eyes after the car exploded, it was to see this beautiful black girl staring at her with an irritated look on her face. Now she knew she was the one they called Cassandra, and Cassandra stated Topsy was too nice to be a part of her crew. So she was brought here, and thrust at the one called Nyx, who was supposed to be burdened by her presence.

She closed her eyes on earth and opened them in hell.

Power of the Book Club

Ahh, book clubs. They seem to be a theme of my life right now as I await possible wonderful news to share with everyone. Seat of God went through its first book club in June and I am so proud. I’m only sad I didn’t get to “sit in” at least via phone to discuss it with them. I can’t help but wonder if other authors are willing to do the same? I can’t think of many things cooler than hearing what people think about it. There doesn’t seem to be one central location for all book clubs to register, at least not one that doesn’t demand money. If there was, I would totally want to sign up.

Beautiful Monster in my room

Very few movies scare me. Books are another story; some of them can terrify me. Jared S. Anderson’s Beautiful Monster gave me a whole new level of horror, and I think I hate him for it. Well, just a little.

Name of author: Formerly Jared S. Anderson … currently known as Alistair Cross

  1. Last book you released: Beautiful Monster
  2. Next book you plan on releasing: The White Room (working title)
  3. Biggest thrill about writing or publishing so far: In writing, the best part for me is when I realize I’ve written something good. Once in a while, you read something you’ve written, and you get wrapped up in the story enough that you forget you wrote it, and just want to keep reading. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it makes you realize you’re doing what you were born to do. In publishing, I’d say the biggest thrill has been being picked up by Damnation Books. As a fan of the books Damnation publishes, getting accepted as one of their authors was the greatest school-girl-screaming, hand-clapping, and embarrassingly-over-the-top display of giddy ridiculousness I’ve probably ever indulged in. The staff has been wonderful, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the work they’ve done for Beautiful Monster. I’m especially grateful to Kim Richards, Erin Lale, and Dawne Dominque for their work and support.  The VERY best part, though, is meeting my heroes. I hope I never lose the thrill of receiving a text or an e-mail from someone whose books I read and loved ten years ago. The old adage says you should never meet your heroes for fear of disappointment. I don’t believe in that. Few of my heroes have disappointed.
  4. Biggest letdown in writing or publishing overall: The constant sense of failure. It’s been said that there are no easy roads to success, and I believe this is true. I got serious about writing in 2005. Since then, it’s been one failure after another, with just enough small successes along the way to keep me going. But I’m not complaining. These failures build character, thicken the skin, and prepare you for the world of writing, which can be truly cruel. If I hadn’t gone through this, I’m not sure I would know I was following the right path. I’ve never worked for anything as hard as I did for this, and that I was willing to keep at it says to me that I’m tough enough for it. I proved something to myself. Resistance and rejection are the most telling (and painful) ways of making sure you’re serious about something. They also make you better at your craft. And I don’t know if you ever reach a point where you feel like a success—but maybe this is a good thing. Maybe this makes you better.
  5. Thing you are most excited about: There is a project on the horizon that I am stoked about. Unfortunately, I can’t really say anything about it at this point, except…wow…dream come true.
  6. Thing that scares you the most: Leading a normal life.
  7. One thing you like the most about the last thing you wrote: I think I captured the atmosphere, and I even felt some sympathy for the character, who’s going through some serious hell right now. Little does she know, it ain’t gonna get any better for her…
  8. One thing you like the least about the last thing you read: The last thing I read (besides your last question) was the face of my iPod. I don’t know how Lita Ford got on there, but she’s gotta go. I say this every time she comes on, yet I never get around to deleting it.
  9. If there are four seats in the lifeboat, which of your characters get saved and why: Cade- because he’s actually a decent person. Brooks- because there’s a little bit of my best friend in him. Chynna- because I am NOT taking care of her pet tigers. And Gretchen-because no one kills with as much class as that foxy dame does.
  10. Secret about writing you never share: Oh, there are a few. Let me think of one I’m willing to share…(long pause) Okay, got it. This isn’t really a secret about the craft, but it’s a kind of secret about my own writing: I never thought of myself as a horror author until very recently. Even though everything I read, write, and watch on television is horror, I never actually stopped and thought, “I am a horror author.” I just thought of myself as a writer. The “horror” part actually caught me off guard a little.
  11. Job in writing or publishing no one knows about: I was an editor for the e-book versions of Haunted, Candle Bay, Eternity, and Sorority by horror novelist Tamara Thorne. I’m very proud of that.
  12. Best or most interesting person you met who influenced your writing: I’ve met many fascinating people who have influenced me. I don’t think it’s possible to not be influenced in some way by everyone you meet, and I’ve been very lucky to have met and gotten to know some of the greats. These guys influence me the most because they’ve set the bar, and I’m terrified of disappointing them!
  13. Person in real life you killed off in last story and why: Well, there is the “good” way of killing a real-life person in a book, and a “bad” way of killing a real-life person in a book. When you do it the good way, you do it with the person’s permission, as a fun form of respect. When you do it the bad way, you change names, appearances, and any other giveaways so that the real-life person never has any idea you did them in. Currently, I am in the process of killing someone in the bad way, so naturally, I can’t go into further detail. One of the highlights of my writing life was when I asked Tamara Thorne if I could kill her in a book one day. She said, “I would be honored.” That’s the good way of doing it. So… one of these days, Tamara…one of these days.
  14. Other people’s characters you like the most: I really dig Richard Laymon’s bad guys. Also, I loved the Space Cowboy in Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. That guy creeped me out. I’m also a big fan of Miss Marple. That nosey old broad just tickles my fancy.
  15. First line of your obituary: “You asked for it…and we delivered!”
  16. Part in your last book you hope makes people cry: I kind of hope Brenna’s moments of despair in Beautiful Monster at least put a couple cracks in a few tender hearts …
  17. Part in your last book you hope makes people laugh: I hope people laugh at Sterling’s ridiculous illusions of grandeur. I’ve received letters about how scary he is, but only one person has told me they thought he was hilarious. I was thrilled. I was cracking up with laughter for the majority of this book.
  18. Best writing advice you ever got: “Get your ass in the chair and write,” or, “What you cryin’ about!? You wanted this!?”
  19. What’s the one thing you’d like people to say about your books one hundred years after you are gone: “These are evil. Burn them.” Or, if paper books no longer exist, “These are evil. Dunk them.”

 

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