This! Friday! (Woohoo!!!)

 

Have I mentioned MAKE ME HOWL comes out on Kindle this Friday? I’m so excited, I could just scream. Even after all the critiques, edits and reads, I still like this book. Go figure. 🙂

In celebration, I thought I’d post one of my favorite scenes from the beginning of the book.

I have a question at the bottom. Post your answer here and I’ll put your name in a drawing for a prize!

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Cool air stirred my hair, tickling the back of my neck and down my spine as I slowly drifted toward consciousness. I was a bit light-headed, and my eyes were all but glued shut. And the really bad part, mouth tasted as if it were full of downtown Dallas dirty cotton.

The morning was fragrant with a light scent. Wildflowers? Unable to imagine where I was, I rolled over then stretched the kinks out of my arms. Another breeze wafted over me, swirling over my naked breasts, down my belly and along my thighs.

“Jazzy?”

Hearing Bella whisper my name, I was tempted to pretend I was still sleeping. “Um?”

“Jazzy, look at me.”

After working a moment, I was able to open my eyes. I tried to look at Bella, but her face kept going in and out of focus behind the bars.

Bars?

Abruptly I sat up, my head swimming at the sudden motion. “Bella?” I practically coughed the word, my throat hurt so.

Her gaze was filled with concern. I hated that look, as if as the moments-older twin, she was responsible for me. “Are you okay?”

“No, I’m not okay.” I paused to control the bristle prickling down my spine. Then I whispered between my clamped jaws, not bothering to use telepathy since there was no one around. “What am I doing here? Naked?”

. . . .

Bella’s mouth dropped open and her eyes grew wide with horror as she looked around. “Doc’s coming back and Norman’s with him. You’d better go primal. Quick.”

As if it was that easy. I couldn’t just wiggle my nose like some TV witch—I had to allow myself to release. And after a lifetime of learning control, that wasn’t easy.

I took a moment to settle myself, to find my center. Arranging my hair so I was well covered, I got to my knees then sat on my heels. “You know, last night, when you and Doc abandoned me, Norman became a huge pest. He kept at me, wanting me to dance with him.”

Bella’s “Um,” irritated me. Annoyance tingled my exposed skin, running along my collarbone and down the insides of my arms.

“He wouldn’t leave me alone. It was so gross.” I straightened as angry lightning strikes marched down my back. “Then he insisted I finish my drink because he wanted to buy me another. Bella, I thought I was going to have to decapitate him to get him to leave me alone. I decided to just take off and let you find another way home. But after I finished my drink—and I only had the one Doc bought me—I don’t remember anything. It’s as if I got lost in the night.”

I gathered my fury like a fiery orb in my chest.

“You know I never have a memory lapse except during a blood moon phase or if I lose control. I wasn’t that angry.”

A simple full moon hadn’t done that to me since I was three years old.

“That son of a cur must have slipped me a roofie. Why else would I have been out of control?” I allowed my rage to explode as I thought about the man putting a date rape drug in my drink.

My body stung as the bristles burst through my skin, but I exalted in the sensation as my face narrowed, then lengthened. I loved the feeling of my body shifting from human to wolf shape. There’s never anything better than the power surge as it filled my muscles.

It’s exhilarating.

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I love it when Jazzy shifts to Wolf. She has so much fun!

So here’s your question: Have you ever wished you could be a shape shifter? If you were given the choice, what animal would you become?

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I HAVE A PUB DATE!

GUESS WHAT!

I received my pub date from my publisher. (Did the blog title give it away?)

Make Me Howl is going to be available on November 15, 2013!

 

HOWL!

I’m just a little(!) bit excited. *grins* Can you tell?

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I’m going to try to set up a Facebook page for Howl. (I think.) :)  If I do, I’ll need all my friends out there to like it. Well, the ones who read werewolf books.

All three of you. :)

In case you’re wondering, HOWL isn’t an inspirational. ;)  It’s the last book I wrote before I started trying inspirational. I’m still waiting to hear back on my first try with that genre. The tentative title is Texas Hearts. Prayers about that would be appreciated!

Okay, wait. I’m asking for prayers for God’s will with my writing, not that TH will sell. Although I’d love, love, love to write for the Lord, I really want to be solidly in His will.

Oh, and if you like werewolf books, HOWL is acomin’!

It’s not your normal werewolf book.

Ps: If you follow both SMART WOMEN and SMALL TOWN WORLD, this is a reblog.

Adventures in Writing: the Mom Years, Part 2

60021_155207424504348_100000452755006_366987_7349827_nLast week, I blogged about writing while juggling family obligations. Here are a few more tips for managing your word count while raising kids:

–Explain what you do to your children as early as you can. Be specific and talk to them in ways they can understand. A two-year-old cannot see that Mommy needs to have 90,000 words edited and turned in by next week, but a teenager with homework can understand that you have a deadline and need to do certain things to reach it.

–Have a place for them near where you work. Whether you’re a kitchen table writer or have your own office, provide a spot where children can sit and do their own thing. It can be a desk, a corner or whatever. When I had my office, I had a sofa in there. My kids could hang out, read, nap, whatever, and they were with me. It was their space, which made them feel like they weren’t banished even when I wasn’t to be interrupted unless there was blood or the house was on fire–but I digress :).

–In conjunction with the previous tip, keep a calendar–preferably in a public place like the fridge. If you’re already doing this with your family, then great. Add your word count goals to the calendar just as if they were another family event such as soccer practice or a dental appointment. LOL–and sometimes it does feel like the latter, doesn’t it? If you’re a “pantser” and don’t have weekly or monthly goals, then at least put your deadline up there for all to see.

–Buy a crockpot. Use it. BBQ sauce or salsa thrown over frozen chicken breasts becomes a gourmet meal in 6-8 hours. Trust me on this.

The bottom line is this: To quote my son Jacob, “Life is too short.” Spend time with the people you love. Forgive yourself when you don’t get everything exactly right. Those are the ingredients to a life well lived. And, if you can write a few good books along the way, even better.

Adventures in Writing: the Mom Years, Part 1

428301_10150627759396985_593286984_9447964_571828259_nI was recently asked to offer some tips on balancing writing and motherhood for an workshop a writer friend was teaching. I started writing when Hannah turned 4 and began preschool. My older boys were all in school (ages 7, 11, and 13), and we had just moved to a new city so it seemed like something fun to fill my days–LOL–if I’d only known!

My four are grown now, and I am closing in on my fiftieth published book. We all live in different cities, and I am so proud of the people they have become. And yet, as I pondered my friend’s request, is it too cliche to wonder where the time went?

Here are some of the things that helped me to write books and raise kids:

–Use a timer. It helped to keep me focused on writing to know that I didn’t have to keep checking the time to be sure I wasn’t late to pick kids up, start dinner, or whatever. It also gave me a little incentive to race against the clock and see how many words I could get in.

–Get your priorities straight from the beginning. Write them down. Hang them in a prominent place. Repeat as necessary! Any time you’re asked to do something, be it home room mom or even just to bring cupcakes, weigh that against your priorities. Where does it fit? Can I manage it without taking time away from more important priorities?

–This one is related to the prior but important enough to warrant a separate tip. Make eye contact with your children. Set aside a time–for me, it was when they walked in the door from school–and really do a “relationship check” to see how things are and how they are. Here’s the important part of this: close down your computer when you do this. Make a habit of shutting the lid on your laptop or setting your monitor to sleep mode. You may believe you are 100% focused on your child, but if your computer is open, they don’t get the visual of that. I recommend this for husbands, too. Give them that moment…those five or ten minutes or whatever they need. Then you can go back to work. Multitasking when it comes to relational things is dangerous. Don’t do it.

More next week!

Looking for the Hidden and Finding the Obvious

Recently my husband and I embarked on a research trip that would take us to the locations of at least four different novels that were either under contract or anticipated to be. Our travels took us to among other places, Memphis, New Orleans, Mobile, and to–quite unexpectedly–West Point, Mississippi and Waverly Plantation.

Waverly was not on our list of potential sites to visit, nor was it even on our radar–or rather GPS–as we circled through the South taking notes and photographs. Yet when we stopped at a red light and saw a sign saying Waverly Plantation, 10 miles, there was no question we had to go and see this place for ourselves. In fact, I don’t even recall my husband asking. I think he just smiled and turned right.

Ten miles seemed like much more as the two-lane highway twisted through the Mississippi backwoods. And then there was Waverly Plantation. An octagonal wedding cake of a home with a cupola that looked as if it ought to include a Civil War era gentleman with his spyglass pointed north watching for Yankees, the place was quiet. Serene. Gently shabby. So of course we had to go in.

Our guide tackled the stories of the home with enthusiasm, something that made up for the surprising cost of entry. We later learned that while the plantation is on the list of historic sites, it is privately owned and depends on entry fees for its upkeep. The home is lovely, with that lived-in feeling that gives a visitor the impression they’ve all just left and are expected back at any time. In fact, I’ve read in subsequent research about the property that people have felt the presence of ghosts. Of the feeling of being watched or the sound of a little child calling for her mother. I can say I felt none of these things. Perhaps it was because my writer’s mind was elsewhere.

Likely I missed the ghosts–if they were that at all–because I was looking for the hidden. Looking for the nuances that made a home of the time what it was. Looking for the carved details on the staircase, the unique design of the New Orleans-made beds with posts that telescoped up to hold mosquito netting, for the unique device that the lady of the home used to call her maid to her chamber. Those hidden things make a story, and that was my purpose for walking the halls of Waverly that day.

However, as I was looking for the hidden, I found the obvious. The people of the nineteenth century, though not blessed (or burdened) with electronics and modern devices, still managed to live a good life. A simpler life, yes, but a good life all the same. They cultivated gardens, gathered for meals, and joined in with their neighbors for the celebrations that marked their years. One of the celebrations held at Waverly back in the late 1860s gave rise to a legend that I’ve borrowed from for my next historical novel, FLORA’S WISH. I won’t give away the story, but I will say it involves a candle, a lady’s hoop skirt, and a few dozen former Confederate soldiers who were afraid the Yankees had returned.

Had we not taken that turn down a two-lane Mississippi blacktop, we would never have found the hidden Waverly, a home that obviously had much to offer for a writer. The lesson: when looking for the hidden, be prepared to find the obvious. And always turn if you see an interesting sign.

On the Road Again…to Where?

On the road…

I’ve had a love affair with long, aimless drives well before I found love with a man who shared that passion. Sliding behind the wheel, plugging in the iPod or adjusting Pandora radio, and then pointing the car toward an unknown destination has long been my idea of a grand day.

If the weather’s nice, the top is down and the sunglasses are on. Always, there is the requisite Diet Dr. Pepper or iced tea (aka the house wine of the South) in the poorly designed item that passes for a cup-holder in a Mini Cooper. It’s all great fun, especially when our drive takes us down odd little country roads kicking up a dust trail in our path.

Now it’s midweek and I’m back at my desk doing another kind of wandering, this time on the page. A new book is brewing.

This book has a tentative title, a publisher’s signature on a contract, and is already a synopsis with at least one character who will see print in a previous novel before his story is told. It’s all exciting stuff, this new beginning, though any writer who tells you he or she isn’t at least a tiny bit terrified at not living up to any prior books…well, I digress.

So, I’m thinking about this man with whom I will be spending the next few months (yes, my husband knows all about him), and I’m filling in the gaps left by the brevity of the synopsis and the few conversations he is allowed in book 1. Instead of the requisite character worksheets or plotting exercises that some authors swear by, what comes to mind as I plan his tale is an image I saw on a dirt road last week when my husband and I were on one of our aimless rambles, and I was certainly not looking for writing inspiration. A gloriously beautiful hawk perched on a low branch so near the road I could almost reach over and touch it. Its stare was jarring, the way it almost dared us to approach. And then, abruptly, the massive bird attempted to fly…and flopped to the ground with great indignity. My heart hurt for that hawk, so proud even as it was wounded. Nothing showed on the outside until it made a move.

From that hawk comes the germ of an idea that will fill in some of the blanks in a certain New Orleans Pinkerton agent. His pride, oh, I know where that comes from. But his hidden wounds? Those are part of the journey, and right now I don’t know the destination.

Thus, I am on the road again…to where? In this case the destination is to THE END. Won’t you join me?

In the Beginning

Beginning. Starting something new. Staring at the blank page. Looking for the beach when the buildings are in the way.

Writing is about the journey from beginning to end. So is life. And faith.

This is my week for new beginnings. A new blog, a new book project, and a fresh idea on what it means to have faith in God and his process of working through the tough stuff. So as my week begins…as my project begins..and as this faith walk begins…I welcome you to walk through it with me.

To come along as we find the beach that’s waiting just on the other side of the buildings.

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