Wednesday’s Words

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In honor of my preparing to venture into QueryLand once more, I’m going to post the query letter for Where Demons Fear to Tread which landed me my first agent.

            Violent Crimes Investigator Alexis Powers doesn’t have a prestigious title or a string of fancy letters after her name. What she does have are a gun, a set of ass-kicking skills, and a nasty demonic heritage few people care to mess around with.

That heritage is brought even closer to the surface after Death pays her a visit and kills off part of her humanity. Being that much closer to being a true demon is going to make her next case hell because Death wants her to find the stolen soul of a devout Catholic priest and he won’t take no for an answer.

To hide a soul from Death takes enormous power, and whoever is wielding that power will do anything to keep from being found. Alex must not only find the person or people responsible, but she must do it before her weakened human side gives in to her darker demonic impulses.

When her best lead turns up missing and a black market holy relic comes into play, Alex realizes she can’t do this on her own. She’s forced to accept the help of her agency rival –  a ten thousand year-old Japanese Dragon, and a Witch who specializes in breaking spells. Together they just might be able to solve this case before a demon-powered mage uses the priest’s holy soul to raise an army of truly immortal vampires.

            Where Demons Fear to Tread is my completed 90,000-word urban fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Wednesday’s Words

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This week’s Wednesday’s Words are brought to you from the seat of my brand new office chair. Yay! My old office chair was more than a decade old and it had definitely seen much better days. It was so worn out and saggy that I had to resort to covering it in pillows for cushioning. Despite the very contented cat asleep on it, my old chair wasn’t a very comfortable place for a human to sit. Especially not for long periods of time.

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So I ordered a new one last week and it arrived early Monday morning. It took a little bit of time to get used to – There’s no bottom pillow to shift and bunch up under my knees! Proper lumbar support! Thick padding on the arms to rest my elbows on! – but I am definitely in LURVE with it.

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Today’s words are a snippet from Child of Mischief. I’m still waiting for my CP’s to finish their final read-through of it before I send it out into the scary world of querying and I’m hoping this will shame them into reading faster. *glares at Katy and Lisa* Okay, not really. They both have other stuff going on in their lives that takes precedence over reading my stuff and, as Lisa told me yesterday, I am far too understanding and forgiving.

So, without further ado:

Loki and I stepped closer to the iron gate, but Móðguðr called us back.

“Dearest cousin, wait.” She was frantically searching the folds of her clothing. “You’ve forgotten something.”

“Oh, yes, of course. Thank you for reminding me, my dear.” Loki went back to her as she pulled something out of a pocket. I couldn’t see what it was, but it struggled in her grasp as she handed it to Loki.

“I was good and didn’t eat it, just like you said, even if it does smell delicious.”

Loki patted the bottom of her foot affectionately.

“Thank you again, Móðguðr. I will try to visit you again as soon as I may.”

He returned to my side, the wriggling creature still in his hands. It was a chicken. A red chicken with black speckles. It glared at me with beady black eyes.

I’d never seen a chicken up close before and never realized they were so large. This one was about the size of my mom’s twenty-pound dog, Dorothy. Its beak was black as were its claws. It looked like it could do some serious damage if it got loose. Thankfully, Loki had a tight hold on the blasted thing.

“Uh… what do we need a chicken for?” I glared back at the little shit. I wasn’t going to let something I regularly ate for dinner intimidate me.

“It’s a cock and there are two others in different places that will crow to announce the start of Ragnarök. I need to take this one to Hel.” He didn’t sound quite so pleased at the prospect.

“Okay, so let’s take this cock and pony show on the road.”

Móðguðr roared with laughter as Loki stared at me in affronted shock. Mustering up all my remaining courage, I winked at him before walking through the gates of Hel.

Guest Post ~ October Weeks Wants To Know Who Your Favorite Vampire Slayers Are

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My friend and fellow writer, October Weeks, has a new book out today — HOORAY! I was one of the lucky people to read and critique the original version of The Damned, and while the book has changed quite a bit since then, her interesting characters and fun world have not. So, once you’ve told both October and me who your favorite vampire slayers are (mine are The Frog Brothers from Lost Boys and Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock), click on the cover below to head on over to October’s site and order a copy of The Damned for yourself.  

Thanks for giving me your blog today, Ana!

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My new novel, The Damned, is out today! The story follows Tuck Houston—a slayer that is on the hunt for the Damned vampire who took two of her closest friends from her eight years ago.

As I was considering what to write for a guest post, I immediately thought about the slayers that I’ve read about or seen on television. So today, we’re going to talk about my favorite vampire slayers in books and on film J

In no particular order, my top ten vampire slayers are:

~Buffy (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar). Who doesn’t love Buffy? She’s smart, witty, strong, and is willing to sacrifice herself to save her loved ones and the world. Repeatedly.

~The Scooby Gang (aka Willow, Xander…etc). Because Buffy can’t always do it by herself, and her friends are just as amazing as she is.

~The Frog Brothers (The Lost Boys). How awesome are they! Classic movie, and great actor pairing J

~Abraham Van Helsing (Dracula, the novel). The very first slayer that I ever read.

~Jack Crow (John Carpenter’s Vampires). I love this movie, and the take on the vampire origin. But it’s Jack’s story, and James Woods’ onscreen presence, that really draw me to watch this movie over and over again.

~Selene (Underworld movies). Yes, she’s a vampire. But, she’s still badass, and manages to kill not one, but two, elders.

~Blade (movie version). Half vampire. I happen to love all three of these movies, but the first one is my favorite.

~Seth Gecko (From Dusk til Dawn, the movie). Love this movie, and George Clooney is wickedly awesome as Seth.

~The Monster Squad (movie). This is one of my favorite childhood movies, about a bunch of kids who battle Dracula and his monsters.

~ Ben Mears and Father Callahan (Salem’s Lot by Stephen King). I read the book every year, sometimes more than once.

So, who are your favorite vampire slayers (human and not human, of course) in books and on film?

Wednesday’s Words

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I’m still in the planning stages of my next book — holy crap is this going to take a lot of research and plotting! — so I don’t have any new words for today’s Wednesday’s Words. Instead, I’m going to share the first page of a story I was toying with several years ago; it’s an urban fantasy/film noir/hard-boiled detective story that I ultimately trunked because I know absolutely nothing about film noir/hard-boiled detective stories. I do love the title I came up for it, though — Forever and a Dame. Maybe one day I’ll come back to it.

It was midnight. My Bloody Mary had gone warm and the trail of my current case had gone cold.

I was just about to get up for a fresh drink when the too strong scent of expensive perfume slithered its way under my office door. A moment later, the door swung open and a gorgeous blonde stalked inside.

She was a cougar, and not one of the ones who went after younger men. Her hundred dollar an ounce perfume might hide the scent of her dual-nature from me, but everything else about her made it plain as day.

Her entire demeanor screamed predator, and the way she moved, with a slinky, almost snake-like grace, could only mean she was a large cat of some variety.

“You are Cornelius Malone, the private investigator?” Even her voice gave her away – a throaty purr with just a hint of a growl.

“Yes, ma’am, I am.” It wasn’t my given name, just the one I was going by in this century. “How may I help you this evening?”

I roved my eyes over her, tallying up how much my assistance was going to cost her. The black linen pantsuit she wore and the rock on her finger that was the size of my knuckle pushed my fee over a grand an hour.

“I need you to find my husband.” Before I had the chance to officially invite her in, she settled herself into the only other chair in my office. Haughty yet right to the point. I liked her.

“I’m certainly the best man for the job, but before I agree to take this case, I need to know a bit more information.” Lesson one of the supernatural private investigation gig – never take a case before learning all the particulars. Contracts are more than just legally binding with us and not being able to live up to my end of the contract, no matter what the reason, would not end well for me.

“Yes, of course. What sort of information do you need?”

“Well, ma’am, the first thing I need to know is your name.”

She sniffed her perfect little nose at me and I swear I saw her ear twitch in annoyance. Like I shouldn’t even have had to ask. Well, sorry lady. Telepathy isn’t one of my gifts.

“My name is Roxanne DuBois.” Make that two grand an hour.

“And your husband would be Maxwell DuBois, the real estate developer.” And leader of the area’s shapeshifter community.

“Of course.” She snapped open her dainty black and white purse. I tensed, not sure what to expect, but she merely pulled out a white handkerchief. An honest-to-goodness handkerchief. I hadn’t seen a woman use one of them in more than fifty years.

She dabbed at her eyes with the square of silk. Eyes that were as dry as my own. I didn’t know who she thought she was fooling, but I wasn’t buying her distraught wife act.

“Tell me how and when your husband disappeared, Mrs. DuBois.”

“I have no idea. I haven’t seen my husband in over a month.”

I raised my eyebrow and took a swig of my very warm Bloody Mary. The blasted thing wasn’t nearly as good as the real deal, but until my current case was over I couldn’t touch the real stuff.

“Are you telling me that your husband has been missing for a month and you’re just now starting to look for him?” I was about to tell this crazy woman to forget it. I wasn’t going to take on a case that was a month old.

“Of course not.” Those three words carried such scorn and ridicule, a lesser man would have cringed before her. I was not a lesser man.

Wednesday’s Words

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Monday’s post received more views than all 11 chapters of Where Demons Fear to Tread combined, so I’m going to take that to mean that nobody is really into WDFTT and stop wasting my time posting chapters. That’s not a bad thing and I’m not being passive-aggressive, BTW. I’m perfectly fine with people not being that into it (okay, I’m not, but still…).

So, instead of posting up chapters of WDFTT on Friday’s, I’m going to replace it with a series I’m calling Wednesday’s Words wherein I’ll post up short stories I’ve written or just a snippet from a story of mine that I really like.

This week’s Wednesday’s Words is a short story called The Fabric of the Universe.

For as long as I could remember, my grandmother had carried the same green fabric grocery bag containing a pair of knitting needles and a skein of yarn with her wherever she went – the doctors, the store, Seniors Yoga at the community center. Neither I nor anybody else had ever seen her actually knit anything, yet whenever it was suggested she leave the bag at home, she’d clutch it to her chest and proclaim “But I might need it.” Grandma Bea was the most stubborn person ever and nobody thought to argue with her when she set her jaw in just such a way.

It wasn’t until I went to visit her in hospice care after she’d broken her hip that I found out why she never went anywhere without it.

I’d barely sat down in the faded blue chair next to her bed when she pulled the bag out from under her pillow and held it out to me.

“Here, Gracie, I want you to have this.” Her frail, quavering voice worried me more than the fact she was giving away her prized possession.

“I can’t take these, Grandma, they’re your knitting supplies.” I tried not to let the worry show in my voice, but it cracked on the last word.

Grandma shook the bag insistently at me. “Don’t be silly, I’m giving them to you.”

“But I don’t know how to knit.” I knew I should just accept the bag and thank her, but there was something so final about it. A childish, irrational part of me wanted to refuse so she would never die, but I knew it was stupid even as I continued to shy away from the bag.

Grandma laughed and shook the bag harder. “That’s exactly what I told my uncle when he gave these to me before he died.”

“You’re not dying, Grandma. Don’t talk like that.” My heart leapt into my throat and I could barely breathe. I refused to think about her dying.

“Of course I’m dying, dear.” Grandma Bea waved her hand to encompass herself and the hospital bed. “I’m three months shy of my eighty-sixth birthday and bed-ridden in hospice. The odds of me leaving here are slim. That’s why you need to take these.”

I choked back the tears that sprang up at her words. “But don’t you want your knitting stuff so you can knit while you’re here?”

Grandma smiled and shook her head.

“Why would I? I don’t know how to knit.” Her laugh was wheezy and set her to coughing. “Besides, they need to be out in the world where they can do the most good.”

“I don’t understand, Gram.” Her words confused me and I had to consider the heart-stopping possibility that my grandmother was going senile.

“The knitting needles, the yarn, they’re special, so very special – they knit together the fabric of the universe.” She said it with such matter-of-fact surety. “Edges start to fray, seams come loose, knots untie and they all need to be repaired. The needles will guide you.”

Tears burned at the back of my eyes and one slipped out to trail down my cheek. I hurriedly wiped it away, hoping Gram hadn’t noticed it.

“Don’t look at me like that, Gracie, I’m not crazy.” Grandma Bea smiled sadly and pushed the bag onto my lap. I had no other option but to either take it or let it tumble to the floor. “I know what you’re thinking. I probably thought the same exact things you are when my uncle told me about the knitting needles and yarn, but I promise you, it’s all true.”

I shook my head, not able to believe anything she was telling me.

“Just take the bag, Gracie, carry it around with you for a bit. You’ll see what I’m talking about,” she insisted, patting my leg before hitting the button to lower the top of her bed. “Now get on out of here so I can get some sleep.”

She waved her hand dismissively and closed her eyes. I rose to my feet and went to set the bag on the floor next to the bed, but my grandmother snapped, “Take it, Grace, don’t make me say it again.”

When I picked the bag back up, it felt like an ordinary grocery store bag holding nothing but ordinary yarn and knitting needles. I heaved a disconsolate sigh, wondering how long my grandmother had nurtured these delusions of hers and, with one last sad look at her tiny form engulfed by the enormous hospital bed, I left the hospice.

I trudged down the street to the bus stop trying to figure out how I was going to break the news to my father that his mother was slipping into dementia. The bag slung over my shoulder grew heavier with each step. I shifted it to my other shoulder, but the heaviness didn’t abate.

A car roared past me, leaving a swirling tornado of leaves, dirt, and bits of trash in its wake. The dirt shimmered as it hung suspended in the air and then the illusion expanded to overlay everything in my sight.

I shook my head and blinked rapidly to clear my vision, but I still saw a subtle glimmer clinging to the edges of everything. A glimmer that looked for all the world like stitching.

It’s just the way the sun is glinting off things, I told myself. My grandmother’s condition and her words had obviously disturbed me so much that I was imagining things.

But the red-faced businessman hurrying past me, a phone clamped to his ear and a black briefcase clenched in one fist had several sparkling threads trailing behind him. I turned to stare after him and saw the threads originating from the back of his head. As I watched, yet another strand unraveled from his scalp and joined the others undulating in the breeze.

In the bag on my shoulder, the knitting needles began to click together.

Manic Monday

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I finished the final read-through of Child of Mischief and sent it off to my wonderful critique partners, Katy and Lisa, back on the 19th and then promptly collapsed in a ball of mental exhaustion. Hopefully they send it back to me with a clean bill of health so I can once again jump into the wild waters of querying.

Yes, you all read that right. My former agent and I amicably parted ways this past autumn. She didn’t feel enthusiastic enough about Child of Mischief to properly represent it and I want an agent who loves my work as much as I do. The good news is that I feel like I’ve grown so much as a writer these last few years and my writing is so much clearer and stronger than it was when I started querying for Where Demons Fear to Tread, so I’m hoping it won’t take me quite as long to find an agent this time around.

So, I spent last week luxuriating in doing nothing. Or almost nothing. I cleaned my house and played video games. Played LOTS of video games. And caught up on most of the TV shows I watch. And, thanks to all of the snow and cold New England has been subjected to this past month, I decided that the theme for the next few weeks is going to be FIRE! I started that theme off by dying my hair a deep coppery orange-red.

Fiery Ana

But as much fun as last week was, this week it’s back in the saddle as I poke at ideas for my next book and start writing up a query letter for Child of Mischief.

Where Demons Fear to Tread ~ Chapter 11

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Daggers of morning sunlight stabbed through my closed eyelids, adding a fresh wave of agony to the pounding in my skull. My clock said I still had more than an hour before the alarm was set to start its Bean-Sidhe shrieking at seven. Hoping to fall quickly back to sleep, I pulled the covers up over my head and snuggled deeper into my pillow.

The sound of glass shattering dashed that hope.

“Somebody’s going to be extremely pissed off when they wake up,” I mumbled to myself, rolling over.

A second later, adrenaline sent my body’s nervous systems into overdrive as I realized it wasn’t a car window being smashed; the shattering sound was coming from inside my house.

Wakefulness sliced through my hangover-induced lethargy and I fumbled for the metal bat I left behind the nightstand for such an emergency. Settling its weight comfortably in my hand, I slipped off the side of my bed, careful not to shake the ancient wooden bed frame.

My house was old and creaky, but I’d grown up there and knew exactly where to step to avoid making noise. Standing at the top of the stairs, it sounded as if somebody was breaking every one of my downstairs windows.

Son of a bitch. Where the hell are Luka’s wards?

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