Sunday, February 24, 2013

Promo Banner!

There will be a blog tour and giveaway/contest for the release of Dark Genesis, so get excited!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dark Genesis

My new book, Dark Genesis, will be available mid-March.  It's a stand-alone novel that I think everyone's going to love!  Take a look at the cover and synopsis:

Alyssa opened her eyes to darkness. And in the first flash of light provided by a gathering storm, she could make out a ring of bodies surrounding her.

With no memory of who she is, Alyssa stumbles into a dark world populated by witches. The witches are powerful, and demonstrate frightening powers, but even more terrifying are the monsters who rule over the land. Vampires, werewolves and other awful creatures of the night have taken over, forcing the witches behind stone walls, afraid to venture outdoors. But Alyssa finds that as she kills certain monsters, memories return to her, memories of a life on Earth, and the boy she left behind.

The quest to collect her memories and piece together the puzzle of what has happened to her is a daunting one, with betrayals and sacrifices every step of the way. But Alyssa is determined to fight for a world that is not her own, destroying powerful monsters along the way, so that she can return home to the boy she is coming to love through the memories she recollects.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mindy McCready

News of Mindy McCready's death yesterday really left me feeling sort of empty. I grew up on Mindy's music, and she truly helped me through a very difficult period, so I thought I would share how she touched my life.  As I've said before, music is one of the biggest inspirations on my writing, and I definitely absorbed Mindy's music growing up.  It's ingrained in me, and I think some of her art comes through in mine because of it.

Coming out as gay in high school is a pretty bold move, especially in a small Midwestern town in the middle of nowhere, but I didn't so much as come out boldly as I did so accidentally. Word of me seeing a boy in a neighboring town where I worked made it's way around the small community, as things tend to do in small towns, and my rough high school years got even rougher.  Middle school was worse than high school for me honestly, as I was pretty much as outcast, overweight with acne and braces, and before moving to Big Lake, Minnesota, I got those braces off, my skin got reasonably clear, and I worked to shed that weight to start fresh.  But fresh starts aren't so easy.  While I didn't look the part of the outcast any longer, I was an outsider coming into a tight-knit community, and while I made some friends, I for the most part blended into the background.  Until I came out.  Then I was right back in the same boat as middle school, but perhaps a little worse, since everyone in the small school knew who I was.  I was the gay kid, and people teased me constantly.  I was called fag, taunted.  I was even punched by a guy while his friends looked on.

My friend Kat Wyttenback came to Big Lake from a city a little further north, Foley.  We became fast friends, and I often went to her house to just escape life.  She's the one who introduced me to Mindy McCready.  She was a big fan of country music, and from the moment I heard the sassy song "What If I Do" from the pretty blonde singer, I was hooked, delving head-first into country music for about two years, where I discovered several artists that I love to this day.  But none of them struck a chord like Mindy did.  I listened to her CDs obsessively, and she was my first "favorite" singer, and the track "Long, Long Time" (a remake) was my first "favorite" song.

I met Mindy McCready in one of the few times I ever sought out a celebrity for their autograph.  I traveled to the Mall of America with someone (I can't remember who, but I couldn't drive at the time) and waited in a relatively long line for the chance to meet her.  I remember the exchange exactly, since I ran it through my head over and over afterwards for years, and she signed a sheet that was handed out, a photo of the album cover for "If I Don't Stay the Night."  She was very pretty in person, and as she was signing, I told her that I loved her music.  She was very gracious and stopped to listen to me as I told her that she should release "Long, Long Time" as her next single, and that it could cross over to pop stations (as was the trend at the time with artists like Shania Twain and Faith Hill).  She said "Oh, yeah.  It's going both ways, baby."  I still have that autographed picture.

While Mindy released few albums, I waited patiently for the next one's release.  When her self-titled fourth album came out, it was the first time I had to have a CD immediately, and went to a local Walmart, since they would be open at midnight, to get my copy.  I had to ask the girl working in the music department if they had it.  I remember babbling a bit, saying that it was coming out, but maybe they wouldn't have it because she wasn't as popular as she used to be.  When I told her whose CD I was looking for though, she knew who I was talking about and tracked it down for me, and I listened to the CD on my way home, happy as can be.

I'm not a fan of live music, but when I heard that Mindy was coming to Minnesota for a concert, I had to go.  The only concert I'd been to previously was when my parents brought me to Roxette when I was really little, but this was the first time I would be going myself.  I was in college, and drove down to Granite Falls, Minnesota (a good couple of hours away) just to get the tickets, before going back for the actual concert weeks later.  I'd just started dating Patrick, who I've been seeing for nearly twelve years now, and it was one of the first opportunities we had to just talk and get to know each other, a very fond memory for me.  I went to the concert with someone from a college course I was taking who also liked Mindy.  I remember Britney Spears had a new CD that had just come on (Oops...I Did It Again), and I played that first thing, but then insisted on listening to Mindy the rest of the way down, and back.  She was playing at a little casino that I thought was beneath her, but once she started singing, I was in Heaven.  I remember that it was the first time I heard a new song from her before I had the CD, and she did a cover of Bonnie Raitt's "Something To Talk About."

I try not to dwell too much on her slow, sad decline into prescription drug abuse and scandals, leading to her eventual suicide.  I want to remember her for the great music she made and how I felt listening to it.  Her cheeky lyrics, her strong voice, and the beauty and strength of her voice sort of helped me feel strong too.  I really looked up to her.  And I thought that every CD she released just got better and better.  I wish she'd been recognized more for her talent.  I think that it's a shame that she's not known more than she is.  Country music had a real gem sitting under its nose and after her first multi-platinum album, just let her flail, even though her music was fantastic.  And now, some of her best songs aren't even available for purchase (how can one of the best CDs ever, I'm Not So Tough, just not be available?) makes me sad to think about it, that the great music she made just sort of faded away.  I have other stories, like how I painted different Mindy headshots onto canvas for a college art course, or how I used the song Ten Thousand Angels as a mantra to not return to an ex-boyfriend, but I think you get the point.  I'll leave you with an ultimate playlist with my favorite songs, of which I can probably still recite every lyric.

1. What If I Do (from If I Don't Stay the Night)
2. Scream (from Mindy McCready)
3. Ten Thousand Angels (from Ten Thousand Angels)
4. I'm Not So Tough (from I'm Not So Tough)
5. The Other Side (of This Kiss) (from If I Don't Stay the Night)
6. A Girl's Gotta Do (What a Girl's Gotta Do) (from Ten Thousand Angels)
7. I've Gotta Feeling (from I'm Not So Tough)
8. You'll Never Know (from If I Don't Stay the Night)
9. Lovin' Your Man (from Mindy McCready)*
10. If I Don't Stay the Night (from If I Don't Stay the Night)
11. Take Me Apart (from I'm Not So Tough)
12. Walk In Glory (from the soundtrack to Prince of Egypt)
13. You Get To Me (from Mindy McCready)
14. Over and Over (from I'm Not So Tough)*
15. Only a Whisper (from If I Don't Stay the Night)
16. Maybe, Maybe Not (from Mindy McCready)
17. All I Want Is Everything (from I'm Not So Tough)
18. Breakin' It (from Ten Thousand Angels)
19. Let's Talk About Love (from Country Cares For Kids)
20. Maybe He'll Notice Her Now (from Ten Thousand Angels)
21. Long, Long Time (from If I Don't Stay the Night)*
22. Lips Like Yours (from Mindy McCready)
23. Guys Do It All the Time (from Ten Thousand Angels)
24. Have a Nice Day (from Ten Thousand Angels)
25. Oh Romeo (from If I Don't Stay the Night)

* = My all-time Favs

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dead of Night on sale now!

You can download the fourth Hunters of the Dark book now!  Dead of Night is on sale through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dead of Night Cover

I'm releasing this a little early - here's the cover for the brand-new Hunters of the Dark book, which will go on sale next week, Dead of Night...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New Cover #4

I think people will enjoy this one...  Here's the new cover for Hunters of the Dark book three, Face the Dark!

Dead of Night Synopsis

Hunters of the Dark #4 will be in out in just over a week!  Here is the synopsis for Dead of Night:

Shanna and her fellow monster hunters travel to New Orleans to investigate the disappearance of several students from a local private school.  Of the many leads, they focus on a mansion bordering the property that is rumored to be haunted, opting to spend their nights within its decrepit walls to record any paranormal activity.

While she is excited to be included in the mission, returning so close to home drudges up memories that Krystal would rather forget, forcing her to confront the dark roots of her powers as local voodoo legends seem to come to life around her.

Betrayal is still fresh for the hunters, and as Shanna tries to cope with recent events and lose herself in the new mystery that surrounds them, she finds that she has to step up her game when things go downhill fast, and is left to make hard choices that could cost her friends their lives.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

New Cover #3

Here's the new cover for Hunters of the Dark book two, Night Cries!

A Taste

With the fourth Hunters of the Dark book coming out in just a few weeks, I thought I would share the opening scene, as sort of a teaser.  Enjoy!


Two years ago…

Krystal loved the graveyard following a rain shower.  The air smelled fresh and crisp, the rain having coaxed the scent of dirt and fresh-cut grass from the ground, along with the slightly unpleasant aroma of water evaporating from the cement and the rocks of various grave markers.  Just thirty miles east of New Orleans, almost all of the graves in Fern Dell, Louisiana were above ground, as the water table was so high, but there were a few exceptions.  In the graveyard Krystal found herself in presently, old and decrepit, with many of the grave stones falling to ruin beneath neglected plots overrun with weeds, the bodies of the dead were sealed away in cement vaults above ground, with the occasional crypt boasting wealth. 

She loved this particular graveyard, its ornate black ironwork, full of swirls and rust, the elaborate crosses and figures of angels and saints, many broken or with features so weathered by the elements that they seemed to be blank, as if the sculptor had gotten to the face and abruptly ceased his work, inspiration having left him.  It felt old and powerful, somehow.  It was full of shadows, lichen and moss growing uninterrupted, vines crawling over crypts, carpeting even the stone in fresh greenery.  It was an amazing sight, but what Krystal loved most of all was the quiet.  No one came out to this old cemetery that had seen no one interred into its bowels in over a century.  It was like her little secret, families having forgotten distant relatives here long ago, leaving them to the care of a church with a much bigger cemetery flourishing on the other side of town.  Sure, they still tended to it.  Old Mr. Thackery came to mow the lawn once a month, made sure that none of the crypts had been broken into, but other than that, it was left alone in quiet dignity, its occupants at peace with their surroundings.

Krystal sighed as she kicked off her shoes and walked through the grass, relishing the feeling of the damp ground as the shards of grass tickled the soles of her feet, clippings from the latest mowing clinging to her toes and ankles as she made her way to the southeast corner.  She let her hands slide over the stone vaults as she passed them by, and patted the head of an angel who’d lost her wings long ago during her steadfast vigil over Robert Stanton, 1890-1908.

Halfway to the vault she usually sat upon, she saw her best friend, Cassandra, already there.  The blonde was splayed out over the damp cement, as if sunbathing, although the clouds overhead prevented anyone outdoors from gaining any color from the rays of an absent sun.  Cassandra wasn’t going to be deterred however, from the looks of it.

Krystal paused a few feet away and watched her friend, who had her eyes closed and arms up over her head, as if asleep.  She looked like the opposite of Krystal, who boasted hair so dark it may as well have been black, with envious curls that effortlessly formed directly from the shower, spilling over her shoulders.  Her skin was pale and delicate, and she was rather pretty for a twelve-year-old.  Cassandra was dark-skinned with bleach-blonde straight hair, and a slight hook to her nose that gave her otherwise ordinary face a little character.  But being the same age, they rather got along, even if Cassandra didn’t attend school with Krystal.

Suddenly Cassandra’s lips pulled up into a smile and she opened her eyes.  “There you are,” she said with a sigh.  “I was wondering when you were going to get here.”

Krystal returned her smile and hefted her schoolbag onto the vault with a grunt, climbing atop it easily to sit beside her friend.  “I had that makeup test to take after school.  I hate math.”

“Do you think you did better this time?”

Krystal shrugged.  “Maybe.  I just can’t wrap my head around the stuff, but some of the problems looked familiar, so maybe I did alright.”

Cassandra sat up and turned to her friend.  “Math is so lame.  It’s not like you’re going to use algebra for anything anyways.”

“That’s what I keep saying,” Krystal sighed.  “But let’s forget about math.  I’ve had more than my fill for the day.”

“How was the rest of your day?”

“Uneventful,” Krystal replied, glancing up at the dark clouds lazily drifting by overhead.  “The mile run was canceled because of the rain, so that was nice.”  She shrugged.  “Trina flicked rubber bands at me again in Science.  She is so immature.”

“She sounds like a brat,” Cassandra nodded empathetically.  “Didn’t you say she has a face like a rat?”

“She does,” Krystal recalled with a grin.  “A drowned rat.  But she’s so popular.  Everybody laughs along with her when she does stuff like that.  Especially when they get stuck in my hair.”

“Yeah,” Cassandra said , putting her hands over her heart mockingly.  “It must be so hard to have naturally gorgeous hair.”

Krystal rolled her eyes.  “I just hate her.  I wish she’d disappear.”

“You know she’s just jealous.”

“Of course.  But why does she have all the friends then?  Why am I alone and a…a freak?”  She closed her eyes and rubbed her hands over her arms to ward off a sudden chill in the air.  She felt a drop of rain on her arm and looked back up at the clouds.  “I think it’s going to rain again.  I should go.”

“Ooooh,” Cassandra moaned.  “But you just got here.”

“I know,” Krystal said, jumping off of the vault and grabbing her bag.  “I’ll come visit again tomorrow.”  She paused.  “I don’t know why you want to hear about my days anyway.  My life’s so boring.”

“At least you have a life,” Cassandra said sadly, looking away.  “All I have is this.”  She gestured around the graveyard and Krystal followed her sweeping hands for a moment before returning her gaze to her friend.  Sometimes it was so easy to talk to Cassandra that Krystal forgot that her friend was a ghost.  But if she really looked, she could see through her skin to the graves and greenery beyond, like she wasn’t quite there.  And no one else would be able to see her at all.  Unless they also happened to be a necromancer.  But Krystal wasn’t aware of what she was yet as she began walking from the cemetery, glancing back at her friend, looking so dejected and forlorn from where she watched her leave beside the crypt.  All Krystal knew was that she could talk to ghosts, and often times, they talked back.