YA Storytellers Fun Friday: Creepy & Lovin’ It (Special Excerpt)

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Hey folks! Today my new group, the YA Storytellers, are having Fun Friday! The theme for today is creepy excerpts, and boy do I have a few of those! Below you’ll find an excerpt from my second book WITCH HEARTS. I hope you enjoy it and please go check out the other storytellers and their amazing excerpts that’ll give you the heebie-jeebies!

WITCH HEARTS excerpt

Ruby stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the note on her door. Cooper would’ve gone straight to the bookshop to talk to her or at the very least texted her about leaving the apartment.  She knew without looking that this was a second note from Courtney’s killer. Ruby’s wards were all still in their proper place, it seemed, so at least he hadn’t broken in again. She walked to her door and read the spidery handwriting.

Dearest Ruby, 

While we’re still not quite ready to meet, I wanted to extend an offer of good faith. I believe you’re missing something and as it is no longer of use to me, I want to give you a chance to get it back. Perhaps you might even find something valuable with it. Go to 324 Broadway View; inside you will find Courtney’s Book of Shadows. Come alone or I’ll know we can’t trust one another and you’ll never see her book again. -X

Ruby’s stomach fell somewhere around her knees. That psycho wanted to get her alone? Cooper and Officer Marshall would never agree to it. Ruby had to get Courtney’s magic book back; Cooper had his copy passed down from his father, but Ruby still felt she owed their family both copies. If this was the only way to get it back, she didn’t have much of a choice.

She turned on her heel and went back down to her car before she could change her mind; Cooper might be inside her apartment and she couldn’t risk him finding out the plan or he’d go berserk. Ruby appreciated his protective nature, but after three years of Michael’s behavior, she would no longer be told what to do by anyone.

Broadway View wasn’t too far from Michael’s. His historic district was nice, but eight blocks past that, the money stopped. Ruby used to pass the area on the way to work and knew it was an older, worn-down neighborhood. On her way out, she spotted Cooper’s bike sitting in her parking lot and she hurried to get out of the vicinity.

Fifteen minutes later, she sat outside of 324 Broadway View, a dilapidated house on the corner. Peeling paint and broken shutters were the least of its problems; half the porch roof was falling in and Ruby might need a machete to get through the yard. She grimaced, thinking she might just need a machete, period.

Courtney’s Book of Shadows is in there, she told herself.

Then another voice chimed in: What if it’s not?

A chill went down her spine at the thought. She could very well be stepping into the killer’s trap, practically serving herself up on a silver platter to him by showing up here alone. She took a deep breath, Courtney’s face coming to her mind. She needed to get that book back.

“What if it really is in there? You’d risk losing it forever because you’re a wuss?” she wondered aloud. The price for her cowardice was too steep.

Ruby shook her head and got out of the car, steeling herself for whatever may happen. She walked up to the front door, careful to avoid the roof debris. A note stuck to the door read Leave your things in the car, but Ruby had already locked them in the trunk and so she pushed forward.

The front door opened with a terrible creak and she stepped inside. She couldn’t see much of anything, thanks to the covered up windows. What little she could make out was covered in thick layers of dust. The air felt stale with rot; animals had come in at some point to stink the place up and Ruby said a small prayer to the goddess that no creature would pop out and scare her to death. She’d stashed a crystal in her pocket, but the house had no electricity to borrow. Without even her phone to light the way, Ruby would have a difficult time locating Courtney’s spell book.

She thought hard for a second, letting her eyes adjust to the light. After another moment, she lifted up her hand, breathing into her palm as she whispered:

“To find an object in darkest day,
One must simply light the way
Give me flame so that I may see
And once it’s done blessed be.”

A large, glowing flame appeared in Ruby’s hand as though her palm itself were the lighter. Ruby smiled, rather pleased despite the circumstances and crept her way forward using the firelight.

Things seemed warmer in the golden glow, but the place was still a wreck. Ruby admitted she was glad not to see much around her, as her need for cleanliness might kick in otherwise. Pieces of furniture were strewn about and Ruby could see the crawl space below the broken wooden floor in more than a few spots. Making her way around each table or chair in every room, she gave a thorough look at everything, but no book appeared.

Ruby heard a rattling noise coming from the back area that at one time must have been a sun room. Twilight peeked through some of the boarded up windows and she held her flame farther out to see better. Still nothing moved and Ruby had almost given up when she heard a fluttering sound. She crept forward to the back door, held her breath to listen for any footsteps. A door to her left lay ajar and she put her hand on the knob and pushed it open.

A shape came at her, flying and flapping around her head and Ruby yelped, swinging her hands around her head to deter her attacker. Gasping for breath, she saw the culprit, a lone pigeon that had gotten stuck inside the large, empty closet. He now strutted on the floor, ruffling his feathers and glaring at her with beady little black eyes. Hand over her pounding heart, Ruby sucked in a deep breath and tried to calm down.

“Lucky I didn’t catch myself on fire, damn creatures popping out of crevices.” She turned to head into another room, still grumbling to herself. “Where’s Aziza when I need her?”

The floor groaning beneath her weight, she continued her search on the first floor. After completing the front rooms and kitchen, Ruby looked up at the decrepit steps in doubt. It seemed unlikely anyone could get up those, much less get back down and have another person be successful too. Surely this nutjob didn’t mean for the steps to collapse in and kill her before he could, right?

A noise from behind Ruby made her pivot, throwing her hand out in front of her to see better. She held her breath and only silence replied. Walking forward in the hallway, she saw a door she missed earlier. Using her boot, she swung it open, bracing herself for more pigeons or bats or other awful things. Nothing flew out at her, so she leaned forward to see.

Her heart dropped. It was, naturally, the basement. The dark and creepy basement of a house about to implode on itself. This seemed way more the psycho’s speed.

“Easy pickings. Just bury me alive and come back later for the heart,” Ruby muttered.

She didn’t try to hide her annoyed sigh and began the slow decline. She was surprised to find a relatively sturdy staircase and made it to the bottom without any broken steps or limbs. Even with the bright glowing flame in her hand, the pitch black basement gave her the ultimate creeps. She waited for her life to flash before her eyes since part of her expected the killer to jump out and grab her.

She took a few more blind steps forward. Finally, her foot bumped into something. Pausing, Ruby brought her flame out, but there was nothing in front of her. Confused, she looked around, still finding nothing. When she lowered her hand, however, the flame caught a light that winked at her and her body froze. She had to force her palm downward and found the shiny something was the glittering silver pendant on the front of Courtney’s Book of Shadows.

Relieved, Ruby reached down to grab it and discovered it was sitting on something. She picked the book up and her hands felt sticky. Curious, she brought the flame in for a better look and her breath caught in her throat. The back of the spell book – and now her hand – were covered in a congealed red substance.

“Please be paint. Please be paint.” She squeezed her eyes shut as she whispered, knowing she was wrong.

Taking a deep breath, she lowered her hand to see where it had come from. Dots swam in front of her eyes as they adjusted to find red blood all over naked, stark white skin.

A whistling noise, like wind sweeping through the room, sounded and she distinctly heard a whisper that floated through the darkness to her. Her hair ruffled as the breeze called out her name. “Ruby…help.”

Parajunkee Tours: Indie Summer Blog Tour

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I am so happy to be part of Parajunkee’s Indie Summer blog tour today! Let’s jump right in. You can find my interviews, plus excerpts, at these two fantastic blogs today! Go over and say hello, read about some of my favorite things (TV, food, the best part of writing), and enter to win not just a copy of my book, but a Kindle Fire filled to the brim with great reads!

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The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club  

This blog tour also has a scavenger hunt for when you go enter for the Kindle Fire. Today, we’re going on a world tour! Now, if I could go anywhere in the world, I think I’d drag my husband to Auckland, New Zealand and tour around there for a week or six. Maybe there aren’t hobbits galore and the locals might say differently, but every time I see a photo of New Zealand, I die a little for its beauty. Plus, um, I really love Brett and Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords and I’d probably walk around asking everyone if they really hated Australians as much as the guys in the show did. 🙂

Since we’re promoting WITCH HEARTS, I wanted to talk about Ruby and Cooper, and where they would go after the chaos died down. While I can’t give away the ending, I will say that in the story, there are jokes about taking a trip.

Ruby would initially want to go to Paris, but I just don’t see Cooper blending in well with the locals. Nothing against the French, but he’s all about surf and sun. They’re both very smart financially and I think both of them would agree they’d rather take a longer vacation in a closer location than a shorter one in an exotic place. So I think Ruby and Cooper would go to someplace like Honolulu, where there’s fresh seafood everyday, sun and sand where Ruby can relax and read and Cooper can surf, and plenty of gorgeous sunsets and things to do to keep them entertained. Sounds simple, but that’s their personalities 🙂 Sounds like a pretty good vacation to me, too!!

Prepare Thyself: Blogger Book Fair

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I wanted to give you all a heads up about the exciting week I have ahead here on my blog. I’m lucky enough to be participating in this year’s Blogger Book Fair! I’m hosting 5 terrific authors this week and they’re showing off latest excerpts, fun Q&As, guest posts, and giveaways. You don’t want to miss out on this! We’ll dive straight into their posts this week, so I wanted to explain the event and what you have to look forward to this week.

Monday: Beck Sherman
Tuesday: Lauren Grimley
Wednesday: Kayla Curry
Thursday: Jami Gray
Friday: Liss Thomas

Straight from the website:

“Blogger Book Fair is like a blog hop. It is held every six months and showcases authors and their books. Participating blogs will have giveaways, discounts, and other events you can’t find anywhere else.

Blogger Book Fair does not discriminate against author, book, genre or publisher. Indie authors are welcomed and encouraged! We will accept any title be it print or e-book. Novels, novellas, short stories, anthologies, poetry and collections are all able to be promoted at Blogger Book Fair. Fiction and non-fiction are both accepted.”

PLUS you can vote for my books in the BBF Awards! My first book, GIFTED is listed under the Fantasy genre, while my second one, WITCH HEARTS, is up for nomination in the horror category.

If you’d like to see the author/blogger pages, the giveaway links, the free and $.99 book links, and the event links (including how and where to go vote for my books in the BBF awards!), you can view all of that at this page.

You can read more at the Blogger Book Fair Blog and see the entire list of participating indie authors and their titles. Now get to reading and voting!

For more links for the Blogger Book Fair, check them out here:

Scrivener: Best Writing Tool in the Author Utility Belt

Today we’re going to talk about a writing tool that changed the way I write (and maybe even my life):

SCRIVENER (!!!) Keep in mind when I talk about Scrivener, I’m only referring to how I use it to produce my novels. There are lots of other options – Non-Fiction, Scriptwriting, Poetry and Lyrics – but I am unfamiliar with those steps. I’m in no way an affiliate, either – strictly a fiction indie author who highly recommends this program to interested writers.

Now, for today’s lesson, I’m using screenshots I took of my second book, Witch Hearts, as well as a shot of the upcoming second Donovan Circus book. (No spoilers.) Keep in mind in mind these are notes for your own reference, so you can put in whatever information you want; readers aren’t going to see this show up in your published books.

Let’s start with my favorite part about the program: it gives me the ability to rearrange my chapters and scenes in seconds. Screen shot 2013-07-06 at 10.57.54 PM

The drag and drop is perfect for writers like me. I don’t write my chapters in order; in fact, I typically have the first and last few scenes done before anything else and then I have to connect the dots in the middle to figure out how they got from Point A to Point Z. When I wrote Gifted, I used Word, which is admittedly fine for anyone to write a book. Not a problem at all – but it’s a little inconvenient when I’m looking for a particular chapter or I’ve copied and pasted a scene in the wrong spot.

My next favorite thing in Scrivener: Creating Characters 

I love using the character sketches to keep track of my character quirks and personalities. Once again, Word is fine and I put pen to paper for many of my circus characters. Using the charts for Witch Hearts, however, I discovered the main points of who the character is and what makes them tick.

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I also love that you can add in photos for your own inspiration while you write. Creating the character behind the face is always fun for writers and Scrivener notes a few qualities that might get you jumpstarted. They cover the basics of course (name, relationship to protagonist, occupation, physical appearance), but you can also list background, external and internal conflicts, and of course you can add whatever else the character needs. (You can also write out settings sketches.)

The composition mode is also a win in my book – I tend to get easily distracted when writing. I have to cut myself off from the wifi when I settle in for a session or I’ll play on Facebook for 45 minutes. So when I can hit that button and make it go to a one-column, in your face document, my focus is better. Plus I still have a toolbar that pops up at the bottom to give me options on the best view. I’ll also add that there’s a fantastic feature to Show Project Targets that shows my word count and can also show word goals, if you make them (for example, I’m shooting for at least 80K words in the next circus book; by seeing my goals met or my halfway point, it gives me a better idea of how scenes fit together or if I can add on that conversation I deleted and can edit later).

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When it came time to put my first book together, I totally forgot about the standard stuff, like the dedication and copyright pages. Luckily, Scrivener has these ready to add which made the second round so much easier to compile. I also love the easy Search Document feature, plus how simple it was to upload the book cover for the ebook version. (And it’s just as simple working with paperback formatting, too.)

And then of course there’s the compile feature – here’s where the bang for your buck lies – you can control your page set up (margins, page sizes, etc.) as well as save your file as a .mobi (Kindle) or .epub (Sony/iPhone/Nook) file. So.much.time saved. You can also save as a PDF.

FYI, there’s also a terrific article at The Creative Penn for three top reasons Scrivener is your new friend. She’s got a great point about using Project Binders with your research and photos, but as I haven’t used that feature, you should let her explain it.

You can download a copy of Scrivener for Mac over at Literature & Latte. The program is also available for PCs and if you’re feeling hesitant about spending $40 on it, you can try out the free trial version. I’m pretty sure you get the idea, but I can’t recommend this program enough if you’re looking for a new tool. Word is fine, but I feel more organized, more in control, and more comfortable with Scrivener than I ever have with any other writing program. If you give it a try, I hope you do too!