Friday, September 30, 2016

Help! Tour Questions

Want to be part of my blog tour for On Fire? I'm asking readers to ask me questions that I can share in one or more blog posts during the tour. These can be about me (though if you get too personal I might have to break out the ruler and smack your fingers for daring to be so impertinent!) about my writing in general or about On Fire specifically.

Interested? Just ask away in a comment, and make sure you include your name so you'll know when I answer your question during the tour, especially if you post as anonymous!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday Briefs Mine: Chapter Twenty

Here we are again, Wednesday has come, and it's time for another update to Mine! This week's chapter is very dramatic, if I do say so myself. Inspired by the prompt.

Chapter Twenty

“Are you okay?” I asked Kraig after everyone left.

He shook his head. “I don’t know how to be okay. With the things they... my dad?” He put a hand over the mark still livid on his wrist. “How could he?” His voice broke, and Kraig looked at me with so much pain.

It was almost impossible to suppress my rage. Only the fact that Kraig needed me here, needed me to suppress my instincts to kill everyone who hurt him, kept me sitting. “I don’t know. We’re going to find out though.”

“Can I... can we talk to my mom?”

My heart sank. Lydia. She was still here, so odds were she wasn’t part of whatever Henry was up to. But to be sure? “I’ll have to do it.”


“You saw my father submit streak members before. That power, it comes with being Alpha. If I’m going to trust your mother, I will have to submit her. To know for sure.” I searched his face. “I don’t want to do it. I don’t use this unless I have to.”

Kraig put his hand on my cheek. “I just don’t want you to think I’m a monster,” I said.

“I won’t.”

“You promise?” The question came out in a whisper.

His hands tightened on my face. “I promise.”

I searched his eyes, looked for any hesitation, any doubt. I let out my breath slowly. “Okay. Let’s call your mom.”

Kraig wanted to stay downstairs with me, but I wouldn’t let him. Mostly, was that I wanted him safe. That was the reason I gave him that he finally gave me my way. A part of me still feared he’d see what I was about to do to his mom and hate me for it.

Lydia’s car stopped at the end of the driveway. She got out slowly. “Come here,” I called. A thread of power in my voice was all it took.

“What is going on, Deke?”

“Alpha.” I layered my voice with power, with the bond between me and a member of my streak. Lydia blanched and wavered.

“Alpha,” she repeated. She swallowed.

“Where is Henry?” I asked.

Her eyes widened. “Gone. On a task for you to talk to a man.”

“The truth.” I hit her with the command and took her will from her forcing her to submit.  

Lydia gasped and fell to her knees. She held a hand to her stomach. “Gone. For you.”

“Did you put a drug in Kraig’s food?”

She gasped. “No.”

My stomach churned, and I was sickened by the questions, by the way I was getting answers. “Did you have anything to do with Kraig being kidnapped? With the experiments on him?”

Tears poured from her eyes. She hunched, one hand keeping her up as she gagged and then vomited, bile puddling in the gravel under her. She shook her head.

“Answer me.” I’d never used so much power. My head throbbed, and I was seconds away from throwing up myself.

No!” she screamed. “I’d never hurt my sons,” she sobbed.

I collapsed in front of her, pulling back on the power linked between us. “I’m sorry,” I said. My throat burned and I swallowed repeatedly. “I had to be sure.”

“Sure of what?”

The last thing I wanted to do was tell her, but she was owed an explanation, at the very least. “We have evidence that Henry was involved with the people who hurt Kraig. Not only when he was taken, but when he went feral at your house.”

“What did you say. Henry...” She clamped her lips together and shook her head. “No. He couldn’t do that to his own son.”

“I’m sorry, but it’s true.”

Tears streamed from her eyes. She sank back, the stripes on her cheeks dark against her paling skin. “Oh god.” She looked up. “And you thought I...?”

“There’s nothing I won’t do to keep Kraig safe. Nothing.” No matter what the damage to me, to my streak. Submitting her, forcing the truth from Lydia, was hurt her less than what she could’ve done to Kraig if she was part of the plot.

I watched helplessly as she fell apart. Lydia wept quietly, one hand shoved against her mouth as she rocked. “I’m sorry.” I couldn’t say it enough times to show how guilty I felt for using a power that I never wanted to have, much less use, on my people. She sucked in a deep breath and held it, her shoulders shaking. She let it out slowly, and then took another. The trembling gradually slowed.

She wiped her face with both hands. “Why do this here? Now?”

“Kraig wants to see you. We’re both looking for answers, and all we have is more questions. He needs you.” I could only hope that she wouldn’t hold my need to protect her son against him. I looked at the house. “He’s inside.”

Lydia struggled to her feet, but I didn’t dare off her help. She brushed the dust off the knees of her jeans. “Let’s go in through the kitchen so I can clean up first.” As much as I could tell she was trying to act like she was fine, Lydia kept both arms wrapped around her middle.

I pulled the keys from my pocket and unlocked the door. Not that a locked door would stop a bonded werekin, but it would slow them down, especially one as slight as Lydia. I held the door open and gestured for her to come inside. She slid by me carefully.

Pain and guilt combined to create a dark mark on my spirit. In the animal world the strong survived and ruled the weak, but I remembered this woman taking care of me, loving me, since I was a boy. If I’d broken that between us?

She washed her face and rinsed her mouth. Holding on to the counter, she took a deep breath. “Okay. I’m ready to see him now.”
Want more? Check out these other updates:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On Fire Cover Reveal Winner!


Jen CW!

Congratulations! And thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in the cover reveal blitz for On Fire!!

Monday, September 26, 2016

On Fire Cover Reveal Blast!

It's time, it's time! This is a story that hits close to home, literally, LOL! Set in Washington as part of Dreamspinner Press' States of Love contemporary novella series, On Fire features two of my favorite characters, Jax and Scottie. And take a look at the gorgeous guys who inspired their characters on the cover made by Garrett Leigh.

A fun tidbit: I actually took the picture of the mountain (it was not on fire at the time, lol)

A picture is definitely worth a thousand words when it comes to a cover, and these guys are hot, but I bet you'd like to know more about their story, so here goes!

Nothing beats getting out of the concrete jungle and into the quiet of the forest. Website designer Scottie Ness is taking a well-deserved vacation from the grindstone, and he plans to spend it in the solitude of Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Mt. Adams. He’s prepared for everything—except the lightning storm that traps him in a wildfire.

The firefighter who rescues him sustains serious injuries and ends up in the hospital. Jax Quintero might be abrasive, but the guy saved his life, and Scottie wants to thank him. As they spend time together during Jax’s recovery and exploring the state’s landmarks when he’s released from the hospital, Scottie discovers there’s more to Jax than a smart-ass adrenaline junkie. Jax reassesses his opinion of Scottie as an arrogant city boy who has no business in the mountains. Though Jax’s wounds prevent them from taking things as far as they’d like for a while, they can’t deny the heat building between them—and this is one fire they don’t want to put out.

Where can you pick up your copy?
On Fire is available for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press now!

Because I love my fellow readaholics, I'm giving away a $5 gift card to Dreamspinner Press to celebrate finally being able to share On Fire's awesome cover and my photo inspiration for Jax and Scottie.

Obviously you follow me on my blog if you're here, but do you follow me on social media and my Goodreads author page? If not, follow these links to keep up on all my news!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter 19

It's Wednesday, which means more flash fiction! (It also means there's only 5 more days before the cover reveal for On Fire!!!) This week's flash was inspired by the prompt: He slid his hand into mine. Enjoy!!

Chapter 19

The question was rhetorical. Which one had fled the streak? I was already grimly contemplating my response, but I was distracted by the thoughts of the death Henry had earned himself—once he confessed to everything he knew. No reason could justify drugging his own son.
Nothing would excuse him from harming the alpha’s mate.
“Oh my god,” Kraig gasped. I turned and saw the realization in his eyes which quickly filled with tears. He fisted his hands in his lap, taking ragged breaths. “My dad? He did this.” Kraig shoved his body into the corner of the couch and curled up, wrapping his arms around his legs. “I-I can’t....”
“It’ll be okay, Kraig.” I tried to soothe him, but he shook his head.
“How could this ever be okay?” he cried.
There was no answer to that question. No way to tell him there was any other way to see his father’s actions but as the actions of a traitor. How long had we been harboring someone who was so vile they were willing to sacrifice—to torture—their own child?
I sank onto the couch next to Kraig and put my arms around him, pulling him close. He slid his hand into mine. “No matter what, I’m here for you,” I whispered against the side of his head. He let go of his legs with one hand and latched onto my shirt. It took a monumental effort, but I tried to calm my heartrate and breathing. My mate didn’t need my rage on top of the volatile emotions churning inside him.
Park rolled over and sat up, careful to remain at a safe distance when I lifted my lip and showed him my teeth. “Deke, can we be sure of this information?”
“It makes sense, both in how Kraig and your dad was acting. How would lying about it benefit Uncle Radford and the lion’s medic? The only way would be if they were both involved in this testing, and Kraig would’ve know at least Uncle Radford on sight or hearing his voice.”
Uncle Radford made an indignant sound but was smart enough to keep his mouth shut. It was a small blessing; his arrogant droning voice had ruined more than one day when we had to listen to him tutor growing up.
“Okay, okay.” Park lifted his hands. “I just....”
It took me a moment, but in my concern for Kraig, I’d forgotten that we were also talking about Park’s dad too. The evidence was damning, but who wanted to believe their own parent, who should love and protect them, was capable of such betrayal?
“We need to run more tests,” Uncle Radford said. “If you want to understand Kraig’s dual nature and what they did to him.”
Kraig shuddered in my arms. “Only on his terms.” I stared down Uncle Radford until he ducked his head and nodded.
“You may be my beta, but I don’t think you should be involved in searching for your father,” I told Park.
His eyes narrowed and his cheeks flushed. “You don’t trust me,” he stated flatly.
“That’s not true. I just don’t want you to have to be the one to drag him back here. Cameron has the best senses, and he can cover his facial markings.” I was deadly intent that Henry would face justice and soon. “Besides, you have a task and—I frowned—“wait. What are you doing here?”
“Oh.” Park relaxed out of the rigid posture he’d assumed. “I got in touch with Ritch’s family. They weren’t much help. That arrogant pig of an alpha dared to tell me that Ritch was his third’s property and that he’d see you in challenge if we didn’t give him back.”
“Property?” Disgust made my stomach roll. “People are not property.”
“Unless you’re a human werekin and born into a group who doesn’t value our unique nature,” Kraig said. His voice was muffled and thick. Slowly, he leaned back so his face was buried against my chest, but he didn’t make eye contact with everyone. “Radford knows what I mean.”
It was a distasteful reality and one that should’ve ended long ago. There were a lot more risks of discovery by the humans with the technological advances made every year, but in other ways it was very beneficial to werekin. There were a lot of options for careers from home, online college courses, things like that. Groups that took advantage and moved into modern society prospered.
The ones who clung to the old ways did not. Unfortunately, they were in the majority.
“What about the challenge?”
I shrugged one shoulder. “I’m not worried about it.” My age might weight against me, but my training made up for it. Physically I was in my prime, and a fight wasn’t more than a blip on my radar. That an older tiger werekin, who’d know the risk, would push so hard for Ritch’s return made me very suspicious.
“Maybe I should get in touch with that alpha... issue a little challenge of my own. Ritch said they were suspicious of the doctor, but he didn’t really say how or why.” If Henry could betray us, what might that streak be capable of?
Uncle Radford collected the paperwork he’d spread out and stood. “I have more research to do. I’ll be at my apartment.”
Park watched him leave. “I’ll talk to Ritch again and try to find out why he thought they were suspicious.”
“Also ask him where else he tracked the doctor. I’ll have Cameron get in touch with you before he leaves.” If Henry was in league with the doctor and his allies, then he might be headed to those groups. It would give Cameron a direction at least, since he wouldn’t be able to scent-track him while driving.

Want more? It's coming next week! And don't forget to swing by Monday to see On Fire's gorgeous cover and pre-order your copy (you know you want to!) In the meantime, here's more flash fiction for you:

Monday, September 19, 2016

About Best Friends & Boyfriends Now Available with One Pulse!

Today is the official release day for One Pulse! You'll find a copy of my 8.5k short story, About Best Friends and Boyfriends inside, along with stories from 29 other Dreamspinner Press authors! To kick off the release tour, I wrote a guest feature all about the love that inspired the relationship between my main characters.
(Purchase at Dreamspinner if you can so there's no cut of the royalties that will be donated, but every purchase helps)

Cory and Elliot have been blood brothers since a bully gave them each a bloody lip when they were in elementary school. Now that Cory is finally eighteen, Elliot has to convince him they’re destined to be more than best friends.

“Oh hell no!” Elliott shoved the door open and rushed into Cory’s dorm room. “Who’s been harassing you already?”

“I’m fine,” Cory said. He dropped a box on the bed. “It’s no big deal.”

“You have a black eye.” Elliott held Cory’s chin so he couldn’t move away and gently traced his finger just under the swollen purple skin framing Cory’s bright green eye. “Tell me who hit you, and I’ll have them kicked out immediately.”

“Well, they’re not on campus, so you don’t have to do that. I’m eighteen now, a junior in college, and you don’t have to take care of me all the time. I can stand up for myself if I need to.”

“No one ever said I had to,” Elliott protested. “I’m your best friend, remember?”

“Blood brother,” Cory corrected.

Elliot frowned, and then his expression cleared. He smiled. “Oh yeah. I forgot about that. Our moms were so mad. I can’t believe we were ever that young.”

Cory’s first kiss had ended with blood dripping down his chin. Not because he picked the wrong straight guy to lock lips with—nope, the guy who planted a smooch on his lips wasn’t to blame. When he’d stopped the unexpected assault on Cory’s lips, Elliot’s had been equally bloody—but not from the kiss. They’d both been the victims of the schoolyard bully.
And Cory had been only six. Can’t forget that. Most people had their first kiss when they were older, sure, but Cory was always ahead of the game.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter 18

Another week, another flash! This one brings up even more shocking news, so I won't make you read a lot of intro! Inspired by the prompt: He told me you'd be here.

Chapter 18

“That’s impossible.” I gaped at him.

“Like having two werekin souls? Or a human werekin becoming a bonded werekin? We’re dealing with something no one has ever seen before.” Uncle Radford held up the papers. “This is science. Traditionalists are going to be screaming about desecration of souls and you know they’re going to want to kill Kraig.”

I growled, the muscles in my neck and shoulders bunching as I stared him down. “Let them try it,” I said through clenched teeth.

Uncle Radford backed up a step. “Hey, not me. I’m a man of science, remember? But this?” He shook his head. “I don’t understand this. I don’t know what he did to Kraig, to the poor bonded werekin who gave up their souls, to make this fusion happen. What I can tell you is that the cycle isn’t natural.”

The feeling of utter confusion was getting old, and I hated that it was directly related to the health and wellbeing of my mate. “What do you mean, it isn’t natural? He has two souls... shouldn’t they be in balance with each other and his human spirit?”

“Well, theoretically, yes. Physically he has characteristics of both werekin. Spots and stripes, the claws on his hands that don’t retract, the purring you mentioned. Those are present all the time.” He pointed at a relatively stable line on a graph with a mix of two colors. “This is Kraig’s bloodwork results about seventy-five percent of the time. But the rest? It fluctuates between tiger and cheetah norms, like one side is enhanced and the other suppressed. The only thing that would explain that would be drugs.”

Kraig appeared at the head of the stairs. “Someone drugged me?” He swayed, grabbing on to the railing.

I rushed up the stairs two at a time to make sure he didn’t fall. “Hey, it’s okay. You’re safe here.”

“No, I’m not, Deke!” Kraig shook his head wildly. “You heard him. He said someone drugged me.”

“Maybe it happened before.”

“No, it is a quick acting drug that dissipated rapidly,” Uncle Radford said calmly.

“Not. Helping.” I shot a glare in his direction as we slowly made our way down the stairs.

“You want to hide the truth from your mate?”

If Uncle Radford was in arm’s reach I would’ve taken a swipe at him for that. “Stop it. I’m not doing that. I’m just trying to protect Kraig.”

“It’s my body, Deke. I want to know what was done to me even more than you do. I don’t ever want to hurt you again.”

“I told you, I’m fine.”

Kraig huffed and pulled away once we reached the first floor. “Well, I’m not. I’m scared. Keeping secrets from me isn’t going to help.”

“You’re right, but I really wasn’t going to keep this a secret from you. Uncle Radford just got here, and we started talking but I planned to come get you.” Kraig sank down onto the couch in my office and then indicated a chair off to the side for Uncle Radford. “Let’s sit.”

Uncle Radford raised an eyebrow.

“You heard him.” I sat down next to Kraig. I had no problems with him ordering anyone in the streak around, me included.

Before we could start going over the information Uncle Radford had, a knock on the door and then Park’s voice calling out interrupted us. “Hey, where are you guys?”

“In my office,” I shouted.

Uncle Radford’s face was already pinched—he always did hate shouting—when Park walked in. “Took you long enough,” he said.

“Excuse me?” Uncle Radford stiffened.

“Your alpha, your nephew, asked for your help for his mate, someone you’ve known his entire life. He told me you’d be here, but making him wait? Disgraceful.” Park growled.

“I’ve been working on reviewing your brother’s files and gathering what information I could while still doing my job so I wouldn’t lose it. We can’t all just disappear whenever we want and ignore our responsibilities.”

“Why you pompous blow—”

“Enough!” I jumped to my feet between them. “Park, go sit over there and shut up unless you have something to share that’s relevant. If we needed Uncle Radford here immediately, I would’ve told him to come immediately.”

A single glare shut Uncle Radford up. My mood was perilously close to tipping over the edge into violence, and I knew they’d both sense it. I tried to calm down so I wouldn’t upset Kraig.

Park slumped down in the chair, rubbing his forehead and pushing his fingers into his ruff.

“What the hell is your problem, man?”

“You don’t know how hard this has all been, outside of your home. The streak is full of rumors, and people are coming to me at all hours. Ritch is... well, it’s bad. Mom’s been coming over all the time because she hates being home alone too.”

“Wait.” I frowned. “Why is your mom alone?”

“Dad left to go talk to Ritch’s old alpha like you ordered.”

“I never ordered him to go anywhere. I thought he was avoiding me because he hurt Kraig.”

“Looks like you know who drugged your mate.” Uncle Radford tapped the file. “Fast acting. He’d have taken it in food less than an hour before.”

Kraig gasped. “No way. Mom made me the food. My parents wouldn’t hurt me!”

Park jumped up. “You’re just trying to stir up shit.” He growled and then rushed forward. It took everything I had in me to just knock him aside before he reached Uncle Radford and not sink my claws into him. If someone had drugged Kraig, the only suspects were his family. Could I trust anyone?

“You will submit.” I stood over Park where he’d staggered into the table and fell to the floor. I turned the full force of my focus on him, pinning him on his back with just one look.
He slumped and whined. “I wouldn’t hurt Kraig.”

“So who did? Your mom or your dad?”
*gasps* Drama, right?!!!
Want more flash? Check out these other Briefer updates!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter 17

Another week, another update! I was gone several days on a short vacation with the family (15+ hours in the car with 2 kids who voluntarily didn't use their electronics! Shock, I know!) and then I had to recover from that, but I managed to whip this out in an hour thanks to Dragon and the first day of school providing me with peace and quiet so that you won't miss this week's update to Mine. I hope you enjoy the ... well, just read it! The prompt inspiration for this week is: "You don't know half as much as you think you do."

Chapter 17

“You don’t remember?” I asked cautiously. “No, no, don’t sit up.” I gently pushed on his shoulders.

“What am I supposed to remember?" Kraig asked as he looked around. “Wait, how did I get back here? I fell asleep at my parents’ house.” Kraig frowned and worked his jaw. He reached up and pressed against the bruise on the side of his face. “Ow. What’s going on?"

“I brought you back here. You were unconscious because I knocked you out." Just saying the words was hard enough. The look on Kraig’s face as he stared at me in shock was even worse. “I’m sorry, but I had to do it. Something was wrong, and you are acting like you were feral."

Kraig’s eyes widened. “Did I do that your face?”

Reluctantly, I nodded. “But I know you didn’t do it on purpose. Whatever was going on, whatever happened while you were asleep, was not your fault.”

He pushed my hands away and started to sit up. I didn’t want to force him to stay down when he clearly didn’t want to be prone anymore, so instead I helped him find his balance on the edge of the bed facing me.

“Why are you still down there?” Kraig fisted his hands and pushed him against his thighs. He held himself stiffly leaning away from me. “Maybe you shouldn’t be so close to me.”

“Don’t worry about me; I can take care of myself. I’m just sorry that I had to hurt you. That’s the last thing I ever wanted to do, you have to believe that.” It stung that he didn’t want me to touch him, but I didn’t move. I stared up at him from my position on the floor. “I promise that we’ll find out what that bastard did do you.”

Kraig shook his head. “How? How are you going to do that? You have a business, the streak, and now this…? You’re only one man, Deke. As your mate I should be helping you, but I’m making things worse.”

“Nothing else matters more than you right now. And I’m not doing this by myself. Park is taking care of Ritch, I sent the doctor’s files to my uncle, and he’ll be coming here on Friday to go over them with us. While you were unconscious I also called for the medic from the lion pride. He didn’t know what was going on with you either, but he took some blood samples.”

“How long have I been out?” Kraig glanced at the clock. “I just wanted to rest for a little while before lunch.”

“Looks like we missed another meal.”

“Not like I’m not used to it.” Kraig shrugged.

“Well you’re not gonna be used to it here. Let’s go get a snack, something light, and then we can watch some TV and relax on the couch.” We needed some downtime without any drama.

Kraig clearly took the attack on me far more seriously than I did. When he got the chance he sat on the other end of the couch. At night he lay on his side facing away from me. But as soon as he relaxed, the mating bond kicked in and he was reaching for me. I wasn’t afraid of him, but he already had so many things on his mind. Just the shock of being freed from captivity for more than two years, combined with his change status in the streak, was enough to overwhelm him.

I tried to keep us stress free for a few days. We ate meals and frequent snacks together, watched TV, and soaked in the tub as much as possible. Whenever Kraig fell asleep, I caught up on work and made phone calls. Before I knew it Friday had arrived, and Uncle Radford was due to show up after dinner.

Lydia came by with a dish of baked ziti, with lots of Italian sausage, and some homemade garlic bread. She was still spoiling us making as many of Kraig’s favorite dishes as possible. Henry had not come back to law over which was probably a good thing. I was still angry at his interference.

The last dish was in the dishwasher, and I was just about to start it, when the sound of tires in the driveway caught my attention. I shut the door and press the start button then wiped my hands on a towel. I saw Uncle Radford step out of his car clutching his briefcase.

“Hello,” I said. I had to wonder what mood he was going to show. Aggrieved professional? Annoyed uncle? Respectful streak member speaking to his alpha?

Uncle Radford scurried up the steps and onto the porch. He looked around. “Are you alone?” he whispered.

It was like he was afraid. He certainly wasn’t acting like he normally did. “Kraig’s dozing by the fireplace, but no one else is here.”

He let out a relieved sigh and stepped inside the house. “Good. There’s something you need to know immediately, but you need to stay calm.”

 “Tell me,” I growled.

“I’m not a medical doctor,” Uncle Radford said. “But that lion medic you told to get in touch with me provided some very disturbing information when we discussed Kraig’s bloodwork. You don’t know half as much as you think you do.”

“Is there something wrong with Kraig? Is he… sick?” That was my greatest fear.

“No.” Uncle Radford shook his head rapidly back and forth. “He was given something.”

“What do you mean given something?”

“The lab reports I found showed a cyclical pattern. Kraig’s bloodwork changed after he changed. Something about the animal souls actually makes us different down to a cellular level. Kraig’s DNA is unlike anything I’ve ever seen; it fluctuates wildly. I think, and this is just a theory, that something he was given suppressed his tiger soul so that his cheetah soul became dominant. That’s why he attacked you, because he didn’t recognize you. His cheetah is not your mate.”

*gasps* What could that mean to the story?!! Muahahahahaha!

How about some more flash from other Briefers?
Briefers Website