Sunday, December 30, 2012

Here it Comes... 2013.

      I'm one of those annoying people who don't like to do anything unless I can be relatively certain that I'll succeed at it. This has everything to do with my paralyzing fear of failure and almost nothing to do with the fact that I'm a know-it-all asshole who hates to lose (I do hate to lose and I am a know-it-all, but I'd like to believe that I'm not an asshole about it... most of the time).  
     Anyway, I was watching my husband make me eggs (I have a GREAT husband!) and babbling on and on about my new years' resolutions and I thought to myself, if I really want to stick with it, I'll have to blog them... because the only thing I hate worse than failing is failing in public. So here they are...
My Resolutions for 2013
1) When my husband goes to the gym--I go too.
2) Limit my coffee to 2 cups a day.
3) Write 700 words a day--minimum.
4) Plant an herb garden.
5) Be on time.
6) To blog at least once a week.
     If you know me at all, you know that #2 and #5 are going to be the hardest for me to stick with but I'll post pictures, periodically, of my success... and if I don't, feel free to ridicule me.
     Leave me a comment telling me your goals for 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012


I'm a big time Les Edgerton fan and my 12 year old daughter knows it. When she sees a new Edgerton book on my shelf or tablet, she always asks, "can I read that?" and my answer is always "No!" Imagine my excitement that Les Edgerton has put out a book I can say "Yes!" to.
Les' straightforward, `take no prisoners' style shines through in Mirror, Mirror and it serves him well, making this book an easy and enjoyable read. The plot moves well and keeps you engaged and is suspenseful enough to keep the story exciting. It's laugh out loud funny and keeps you guessing...

If you're a fan of Les Edgerton, or if you're looking for a good, clean read for your kids,you won't be disappointed.
The BEST part is that you can buy this great book for only $2.99! Here's the link:
Give the young reader in your life something great this Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Motivation, Hitchcock and Why Cheaters Never Win

I was watching The Girl the other night and something Hitchcock said to Tippi Hedren has stuck with me. I can’t stop thinking about, even days later, and how it plays to the vanity of Hitchcock (specifically) and writers (in general).
In the scene where Hedren (played by Sienna Miller) and Hitchcock (played by Toby Jones) discuss her character’s motivation for going into the attic alone, knowing there would be birds there, (they were filming The Birds at the time). Hedren asked, “Why would Melanie go into that attic all alone?”
Hitchcock replied, “Because I want her to.”

Because I want her to.
While a cinematic genius like Hitchcock might be able to get away with that, for a lowly novelist like me, writing takes a bit more work. Just because I want my characters to do something, doesn’t mean I should make them do it. There has to be a reason my characters do and say the things they do and it's my job to give them that reason.
It's called motivation.
Motivation is what a writer weaves throughout a plot to bind it tight. Motivation is what makes even the implausible seem possible. Even the most unlikely seem inevitable. But what is it? A traumatic past? Money? Love? Revenge?
I can’t simply decide I want my protagonist to rob a bank or rescue a bunch of kids from a burning orphanage. There has to be a trigger that sets them on the course. Are they days away from losing their home to foreclosure? Is their child in need of a lifesaving operation and the insurance company refuses to pay. Did they lose a loved one to a fire? Did they grow up in an orphanage themselves?
These are seeds from which future action grow and if you want your novel to feel real, they must be planted. From these seeds should sprout a chain of events, fed on emotion and tended by circumstance, that will inevitably lead your protagonist to a place where the life-altering decisions they make are the only ones that make sense.
Look at it this way...
If a novel is a vehicle, then motivation is the fuel in the tank. It makes us move and takes us places. Maybe even places we never had any intention of going. Place we don't want to be... places we have a hard time visiting. If there's no gas in the tank, that vehicle isn't moving. But if you put the wrong kind of fuel in the tank then your vehicle breaks down completely. It becomes an undriveable hunk of crap that noboby wants to drive. Or read.
When Hitchcock sent his character into that attic full of live, pissed off birds, he wasn’t sending the character—he was sending Hedren. He allowed his personal motivation to color the actions of his character… and in doing so, changed the movie completely.
It was no longer about the story itself at all. It was about Hitchcock’s desire to punish Hedren for finding him repulsive. In punishing Hedren, Hitchcock gave as a peek behind the curtain. Even though we may not have known it at the time, we saw a writer at work and that is something your reader should never see.
The stories we write should be seamless. Our characters should be fully formed, with their own set of experiences that give their choices weight and purpose and the conclusion those choices lead them to should seem inevitable.
Anything less would be a cheat—to myself as a writer and to people I write for.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Darker Side of Midnight

Great day!!

I've had the privilege of being added into the rotation for the Midnight Ink authors' blog.
Check it out!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review

As a thriller writer myself, I'm always excited and interested to see how other female thriller writers do it... and Ms. Cain did not disappoint. I enjoy flawed, complex characters and we get those in spade with Archie Sheridan, Gretchen Lowell and Susan Ward.
We know from almost the beginning that Archie’s sick obsession with Gretchen stems from the way those ten days of torture warped his mind and from how Gretchen almost cultivated the raging case of Stockholm syndrome he suffers from—but that doesn’t make it any less fucked up. We meet Archie mid-swan dive into the abyss. He’s a pill popper who’s been left by his wife and kids to hit rock bottom alone. His wife doesn’t leave him because of the drugs—she leaves him because he’s obsessed with the woman that kidnapped and tortured him.
The only thing that matters to Archie more than Gretchen is stopping murderers. He comes out of retirement to stop a new serial killer that’s hunting young women in Portland and Susan Ward is the reporter that is assigned to cover the story.
Susan is just as messed up as Archie and as the story progresses, we begin to understand why. It’s fitting that it’s Gretchen herself that offers insight into what has caused Susan so much damage and in the end we see Archie make the choice between her and the family that’s left him.
I really liked this book and admire Cain for never flinching away from the tough stuff. Hard-core thriller writing is primarily a boys’ club—It’s encouraging to see a woman do it, and do it very, very well.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fiction Friday, Release Date and other Fun Stuff...

This week has been one of the strangest and most exciting of my life...
Carved in Darkness

My forthcoming book CARVED IN DARKNESS is set to be released by Llewellyn's Midnight Ink on May, 8th, 2013...

I know, that's 6 months away but it's available for pre-order right now! Here are the links:




Check out my Goodreads author page:
 I’ve posted a sample chapter. Leave me a comment, letting me know what you think. J



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

We all have them: brilliant story ideas.
Sometimes, they come to us fully formed. You see every facet clearly—who your protagonist is, the trouble he or she face. What they will do to dig themselves out of it… the trouble the meet along the way. Sometimes, it’s just a flash. Something you see or hear triggers a thought. That thought leads to another… and another… until the idea takes shape and you're left with no choice but to write it out.
And other times that something you see or hear burrows into your brain. It niggles and nags. It refused to be pushed aside—demands to be written.
So, if these ideas take all the time and trouble to bring themselves to our attention, to demand that we listen, why is it that sometimes they have the audacity to be unable to support the story we so desperately want to write? Why is it that they fall apart half way through the novel?
I hate to say it, but… it’s not the idea you should be blaming. It’s you. You’re probably the reason things aren't working out the way you’d planned them to. The idea didn’t fall apart. You probably broke it.
Writers generally fall into two categories when it comes to starting a novel:

You have the Nervous Nelly. The writer who circles the pool a few dozen times. Dips their toe in to check the temperature of the water. Makes sure their hair is tucked securely into their swim cap… you know, they think about it for weeks and months before they even write a word. They over think every aspect of the idea until they convince themselves that it’s not a good one.

Then you have the Kamikaze. The writer that sees the pool from a distance, climbs up onto the roof and takes a flying leap, legs tucked into a cannonball, eyes screwed shut… without checking to see if there’s even water in the pool. They have this idea and that it’s—they’re at their computer, frantically typing away without knowing where they’re going or how they’re going to get there.
To the Nervous Nelly, I say:
First of all, take off the swim cap—you look like a dork. Secondly… loosen up for God’s sake. It a novel, not the Magna Carta. Yes, writing is hard work. It’s grueling and often lonely business… but if you’re truly a writer, then at the heart of it all, is love. It’s what you love to do. The one thing in your life that you can’t imagine not doing… so do it. Stop beating the poor thing to death and get on with it. Write a synopsis. Write a character sketch for your protagonist. Research your setting… it doesn’t matter what you do, really, as long as you do it.
To the Kamikaze, I say:
Novel writing is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes stamina. It takes focus. Neither of which you have when your banging away on your keyboard like a cracked-out monkey. Take a deep breath… now take another one. Let the story take form, it’s really not something you can force. And that’s what you’re doing. You’re forcing it. Stop doing that. It’s like handing your keys to a seven year-old and telling them to move your car and then getting mad when they put your Toyota through the neighbor’s living room. I suggest you do the same thing as Nervous Nelly up there—write your synopsis. Flesh out your characters. Research your setting… because that’s what it all comes down to. That’s the secret…
There is no such thing as a poor story idea—just poor execution.

Ideas, after all, are just that—ideas. A fully-formed novel is something else entirely. You’re the architect that plans it out and the the carpenter that builds it—it’s your responsibility to make sure it has all its parts and that those parts are on working order. Plot. Characters. Setting. These are the components that make a novel work. One can be, and is usually stronger than the other (Plot driven vs. Character driven novels… another topic for another time) but if all three are weak—forget about it.

If the plot leaks like a spaghetti strainer, your reader will grow very angry, very quickly. Readers are an intelligent lot. If your plot isn’t tightly laced, they’ll know it and they’ll hate you for it. Not because you wrote a bad book, but because they’ll feel like you tried to get one over on them—and no one like to be made a fool of.
If your characters are flimsy, your reader will feel cheated. Most people read, because they’re looking for a new experience and they want to live that experience through someone they feel emotionally connected to. Someone as flawed as they are. Someone they wish they could be. Someone that has the guts to do the things they don’t. Say the things they never could. If your characters are one dimensional creatures, no one will find them interesting, and if no one finds them interesting, then no one will care what happens to them.
Setting lends a bit of realism to the whole thing, which allows your reader to connect even deeper to your story. Remember, it’s all about experience. That’s what the reader needs—it’s what they’re looking for. A woman who’s never left her small town can read a book set a Paris, and if the writer is good, and pays attention to detail, can feel as if she’s walked along the Seine or seen the Eiffel tower. She feels worldly. Connected. The experience she has is rich and fully formed. Without setting, it’s flat and dull. The reader is left feeling like something is missing.
All of these components must work in concert with each other:
Story idea. Plot. Character. Setting.
They build upon each other. Lend support. One leans against the other. If a story isn’t working, they’re a reason. One or more of these pieces is either lacking in structure or missing all together. Before you give up and move on to the next story idea, give this one the time and attention it deserves. Find it’s weak spots and shore them up… maybe you’ll have to tear it down and start from scratch, but don’t give up on it. There’s a very good chance it’s worth your time and attention. After all, there’s a reason the idea grabbed you in the first place.
Need plot help? Have a writing question? Hit me up:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Excuses, Excuses...

I am a neglectful, horrible blogger...

It's like that childhood friend you haven't called for awhile—you lose touch because you've been so busy and then you actively start to avoid them because you're so guilt ridden that you’ve lost touch…

Yeah, that’s pretty much me all over.

So, here’s a brief re-cap of what’s been going on in my neck of the woods…

A blurb-a-palooza update: Tess Gerritsen (or rather, her assistant) politely declined my request for a book blurb. Sandra Ruttan has yet to reply... I've recently added Chelsea Cain my hit list. If you haven't read her novel, Hearthbreaker, yet--you should. I'll keep you posted--hopefully one of these phenomenal female thriller authors will be willing to help a sister out!

I took my first set of head shots for my author photo. Usually, I’d rather eat glass than have my picture taken, but my cousin (…second cousin… once removed? We’ll just stick with cousin), Peggy Coleman did an amazing job of making me look and feel kinda normal-looking.


Next, I took a much needed, and much appreciated long weekend with my husband, Joe, for our 15th wedding
anniversary. I didn’t get much writing done but that’s
okay—it was nice to just relax and stick my feet in the

When I got home, what greeted me from the mailbox? Why,
 it was my SIGNED contract with Llewellyen Worldwide! This
 makes it official—2 Sabrina Vaughn books (hopefully
more… ) will find their way onto bookstore shelves, starting
spring 2013. Still waiting for the go-head so  I can post my
cover art so I can get everyone’s opinion. I happen to think
 it’s fabulous, but I’d really like to know what y’all think


I was invited to guest blog on Lee Lofland’s The Graveyard
Shift—a police procedural blog run by retired officer, Lee
Lofland—about my Writer’s Police Academy experience.
Nothing makes you feel guiltier about neglecting a friend
than spending time with another… so here I am.

I hope to have more news very soon—stay tuned!
and as always, I'm never to busy to talk shop! Got a plot problem? A writing question? Shoot me an email, I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Writer's Police Academy

I’ve had a lot of highlights in my life. Getting married. Having babies. Adopting my sons. Landing a literary agent. Getting my first publishing contract…

Attending WPA definitely made the list.

Thursday night was my ride along with Greensboro PD and I had the good fortune to be assigned to Officer Henley. It was a quiet night. Not one traffic stop. Not one call. I won’t lie, I was a bit disappointed, but he was such a great guy—very patient and easy to talk to. He answered my questions and even apologized a few times that there wasn’t more to show me. I told him that a quiet night was a good thing for him and I was just happy to be there.

And I was.

Friday brought FATs training. It looks like a video game, but the gun they give you is real (just fit with a compressed air cartridge so if feels and sounds close to the real thing). They put us through two training scenarios… scenario #1 had me chasing an armed prison escapee. I shot him in the throat. #2 had me trying to deescalate an armed man who took his co-worker hostage. He got it in the head. Good times!

The rest of my day was filled with great, informative talks on such light-hearted topics as human trafficking, analyzing blood evidence and learning how to lift fingerprints.
Every single one of my instructors was an expert in their field, and they really seemed to want to help make my writing better. The day ended in the auditorium of GTCC, with two hundred other writers, listening to a very fascinating talk given by Dr. Beth Murray, a forensic anthropologist.

Back at the hotel, we had the privilege of listening to Dr. Kathrine Ramsland give a night-owl talk on observation and how to sharpen your skills and apply them to your writing… and Lee Child was there, sitting at the table next to mine. We chatted briefly before the talk—he is probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. No joke.

Saturday started with a bang! Literally. As soon as we got off the bus, we were herded over to the side parking lot where a trained sniper started giving us a demonstration… but before he could get the good part—like shooting—a SUV ripped past us, followed by three squad cars, light flashing and sirens blaring! We watched as the SUV spun through the parking lot, police cruisers close behind, before it came to a sudden stop. Police piled out and began shouting commands at the driver and his passenger… it was an felony stop re-enactment.
And it was awesome.

The rest of the day brought me lectures on suicides, hanging and auto-erotic deaths (already got ideas for this one… go figure), police gun fights, handcuffing and arrest procedures and the highlight of my weekend (along with my ride along) … the shallow grave exercise.

About thirty of us were turned loose in the woods to find a body—like some sort of gruesome Easter egg hunt, and who’s the lucky girl that found him?? That’s right—me!
Photo: Tony and me.

The day ended with another fabulous talk about the judicial system, led by Marcia Clark—yes, that Marcia Clark. She was funny and engaging—and she’s a writer herself. Sometimes other writers are a bit selfish with sharing ideas and techniques. Not Marcia Clark—she gave ‘til it hurt!

Saturday night was the big night. A silent auction, followed by a banquet and then the keynote speech given by Lee Child himself. He’s a wonderful speaker, very relatable—you can tell that he has a passion, not only for writing, but for other writers as well. It was a wonderful thing to see in someone so well-known.

Afterward, he signed books. When it was my turn, I had one signed for my mom and when asked if I wanted my picture taken with him, I declined (because I’m an idiot, that’s why.) and then shook his hand like I’d just interviewed him for a job (I’m not only an idiot, I’m a socially awkward idiot, to boot). He looked a bit confused but played along… my plans to ask him for a book blurb flew out the window.

Sunday brought me home. Close to 20 hours spent between airports and planes before I was able to crawl into my own bed in over four days…. And the last thing I remember thinking before drifting off to sleep was—

I wonder what Lee Lofland will have cooked up for next year…

Got a plot problem? Hit me up:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Contract Update & Fiction Friday

Well... I did it!

Two years ago, I set myself the goal of publication and yesterday, I reached it!
I just recieved word that my contract with Llewellyn Publication has been finalized and approved.
2 books with the option for the third... how crazy is that??
I'll post more as I learn more... to celebrate, here's the first chapter of my soon to be published thriller, THE FIRST--


            Yuma, Arizona

December 22, 1999


            Waiting was the worst part. The sporadic stretches of time between his visits—when he came and hurt her—were the hardest torture to bear. She had no idea how long she'd been in the dark. No longer trusted herself to count the days. It’d been October first when he took her. What month it was now was impossible to figure out but if every time he raped her marked the passing of a day, every time he cut her, the passing of an hour then she'd been locked away for centuries and everyone she loved was dead and gone.

            Shifting, she felt the pull of dried blood and unhealed wounds across her skin. She couldn't see them—the only kindness the darkness granted her—but she could feel them. Smell them. They were everywhere. Cuts, long and thin, ran the length of her spine. The inside of her thighs. Along the swell of her breasts. The soft flesh under her arms. The soles of her feet. The stench of old blood and infection mingled with the warm, revolting smell of the bucket she was forced to use as a toilet. She tried not to think about it. About what had been done to her body. About what she’d been forced to do to survive…

            Sounds penetrated the dense folds of black that surrounded her.

          Footsteps. Slow and measured.

            Terror gripped her, forced movement into limbs no longer totally under her control. Lurching to her feet, she swayed beneath the almost impossible heaviness of her own body weight. She took a few shuffling steps, kept one hand braced against the wall, while the other hovered out in front of her.

            He wanted to play.

            Her hands closed on the knob and grappled with it. Her hands were encased in duct tape—wrapped round and round until her fingers were fused together and rendered useless. Without working fingers, getting the door open was difficult, but not impossible. Using both hands, she gripped the knob and turned. The door unlatched and swung inward.

            Step by step, she forced her legs and feet forward until she slammed into the wall opposite the door. Pressing her battered cheek against it, she dragged cleaner air into her lungs in ragged gulps.

            Light glowed a dull, muted red against her lids. Instinct seized her, her brain sent the signal, tried to open her eyes even though she knew she couldn’t. Her lids wouldn’t budge—hadn’t since she woke in the dark.

            Experience told her that going right was wrong. There were stairs to the right but they led to nothing more than a locked door. He wanted to chase her. It was his favorite game. She could feel him, standing at the base of the stairs.

            Staring at her.

            Her heart started its frantic kicking. It bounced around her chest, tried to claw its way up her throat. Turning left, she moved legs as fast as they'd go, her shoulder hugging the wall to keep herself upright.

            Footsteps echoed after her, slow at first but then faster and faster.

            He was coming.


            He reached the bottom of the stairs and smiled when the door flew open. Watched her stumble across the hall and slam into the wall in front of her. He took a deep breath—pulled the sweet smell of her blood into his chest and held it.

Even at a distance, he could feel the heat of it. The way it tingled across his skin. His mouth began to water. The need to taste her was a fire in his blood. He'd fought against the burn for years. Not because he felt like what he wanted to do to her was wrong but because he knew.

            Eventually he'd go too far and end up killing her. Killing wasn’t the problem. The problem was the more he had of her, the more he tasted her, the less he was able to control himself. Every time he drew his knife across her skin, the urge to push the blade in just a little deeper grew stronger and stronger. Sooner or later, he was gonna snap. Wouldn't be able to stop himself. The thought worried him. He could feel it, circling closer and closer. Not that he didn't like killing—no, killing was fun. He’d killed lots of times. Animals—cats and rabbits mostly. A dog here and there.

            Some people said animals didn’t have souls but he knew that wasn’t true. Felt them plenty as they wriggled free of the meat and bone that trapped them. Sometimes he had to force it out and sometimes that slippery thing seemed almost grateful to be set free. He liked it better when they put up a fight. Liked to peel back the skin—layer by layer—until the screaming thing beneath him simply... stopped.

            But his Melissa was different.

            There was fight in her. More than he'd bargained for—it thrilled him beyond measure. He’d had her for eighty-two days—eighty-three, if he counted today—and she hadn't given in. Hadn't wriggled free.

            Not yet, anyway.

            She lurched forward, her gait made slow and uneven by the drugs he kept her on. Her naked body smeared with blood he'd drawn. Covered in wounds he'd inflicted.

            Beautiful. Almost too beautiful to be real. He swept his gaze over her face before they settled on her eyes and the neat row of stitches that kept them closed. He was sorry for it—not being able to see her eyes. He wanted to rip those stitches out of her lids and force her eyes open, make her look at him. Make her see him—but he couldn't. Seeing him would ruin everything.

            His eyes traveled downward. The blood was freshest between her thighs. Thick and dark. Moist and warm. Seeing it killed his amusement, dried it up. The thought of nesting there—pumping himself into that slippery hole between her legs, cutting her while he did, over and over—moved him forward. He could see it. Her blood-slicked skin, marbled with his semen. His hands and cock covered in both.

            Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the KA-BAR he always carried. The knife had been a gift from his father for his twelfth birthday. If he knew what he’d been using it for, his daddy wouldn’t be too happy. Thinking about it made him smile. He flicked the blade open and gripped it tight.

            Looking at her always made him hungry.

            He started after her, took the distance slow at first, but every inch forward pushed him harder and faster until he was nearly running. Fell on her, dragged her under and she went down swinging and screaming.

            Just how he liked it.


            She hit the floor, her skull bouncing off the unforgiving pad of concrete that had only seconds before been under her feet. Her arms swung wildly, hitting him again and again.

            The sound of his laughter told her he found her efforts amusing. Anger roiled around with the terror. The scream forced its way out, nothing more than a dry croak that burned her throat as she drove the flat of her foot into something soft. He grunted in pain and let go.

            Suddenly free, she rolled over, tried to crawl but couldn't. Digging her fingers into the rough floor, she pulled—dragged herself until she had nowhere to go.

Dead end.

            Pressing herself against the wall, she drew her legs to a chest that heaved and wracked with dry, wordless sobs.

He'd recovered from whatever minor damage she'd managed to inflict, was standing over

her. He wasn’t laughing anymore.

She heard the jerk and snap of his belt as he yanked it off. Felt the bite and hiss of his zipper as he drew it down.

            Battered knees forced themselves harder into her chest. Her swollen face buried itself  against her thighs.

Please... please let me die this time. Let me go. Please—

            His hand fell on her head, gripped her hair and flung her to the floor. He crouched beside her, his warm breath excited and hurried against her face and neck. Grabbing her arms, he looped his belt around her wrists, yanked them above her head. Bent them back until they felt like they’d snap in two. Her eyes rolled in her sockets. The red burn of light behind her lids went black.

            Hands fell on her thighs and yanked them wide. A fierce burn, accompanied by the horrible pressure of him inside her as he rammed his hips against her—faster and faster—his grunts and moans a dull roar inside her head.

            "Mine. Mine. Mine..." He muttered it over and over, each thrust accompanied by the only word she'd ever heard him say. She knew him, but every time she tried to focus on the voice behind the guttural tone, she got lost. Let herself drift away from what was happening to her until the pain and horror faded away into nothing more than shadow.

            The tip of his knife sank in, dragged along her breast, skirted around the rapid, uneven rhythm of her heart but she hardly felt it. His tongue came next, flat and wet against her breast, lapping at the blood his knife had drawn. The feel of it turned her stomach—she was almost glad when he pushed the blade in further and she prayed  this time he'd force it deep enough to kill her. It bumped along her ribcage, its journey made jagged and broken by each brutal thrust of his hips. The blade skated along her belly, his muttering became frenzied, almost enraged. The pounding between her thighs came even faster, even more violent.

            Over. It was almost over—

            The blade at her belly sank in deep, a vertical breach that stole her breath and answered her prayers.

            The lift and drag of the knife being yanked from her torso set her on fire, followed by another thrust of both hips and knife. “Mine.” This time he sank the blade in at a diagonal angle.

            Lift. Drag. Thrust. “Mine.” Diagonal.

Lift. Drag. Thrust. “Mine.” Vertical.

It was the letter M.

            Something inside her broke free and floated away. The legs she'd tried so desperately to close, even with him between them, went lax. A sudden warmth stole over her and she smiled.

            She was dying. She was finally free.


            He felt for a pulse. Nothing.

Watched her gore splattered chest for the rise and fall of breathing. It was still.

He bathed her and put her in the trunk before driving toward the place he’d picked out a few weeks before. It was far from where he’d kept her, even farther from where he’d taken her. A small building appeared to the left of the road and he turned. It was a Catholic church—St. Rose of Lima. The structure was squat and brown, hunkered in the dirt it sat in, as if afraid of the wide night sky and endless desert that surrounded it.

St. Rose served a transient congregation. Mostly migrant workers that labored in the cotton and melon fields that dotted the landscape. He drove around the back of the building and killed the engine. He watched the back of the building for a few minutes to ensure  it was empty.

The first time he’d ever seen her was in a church—one much different from St. Rose. It’d been a Baptist church. Tall and proud. Surrounded by trees. He’d seen her sitting in the front pew with her grandmother—her stunning face so serious, her Sunday dress clean but faded and nearly too small for her growing frame—and knew she was meant to be his. She belonged to him. Looking at her, one word pounded through his brain, over and over.


She’d been young, too young to be alarmed when she caught him staring at her. She’d looked at him from across the aisle with the bluest eyes he’d ever seen—and smiled. Just remembering it took his breath away.

He popped the trunk and got out of the car. This time he cradled her in his arms like he was crossing the threshold with his bride. Hunkered down, he freed one of his gloved hands from his bundle and unlatched the gate to step into the tiny prayer garden behind the church.

It was nothing more than a few trees and some rosebushes planted next to a marble bench but he imagined it was paradise as he stretched his Melissa out over the bench. Kneeling beside her, he pulled a pair of cuticle scissors from his front pocket and used them to snip the sutures from her lids. As careful as he was, each pass of the scissors tore the delicate flesh. Blood leaked from the corners of her eyes and he swept it away, smearing it across her temple with his gloved thumb. After the stitches were removed he peeled them open, eager to see her beautiful blue eyes. Anticipation soured in his belly as soon as his eyes locked onto hers.

They were empty.

The blanket fell open, gave him a glimpse of naked flesh. Distracted, he moved it aside completely to give himself some more. He cupped her breast, still warm from the blanket, and fondled it—felt himself go hard at the sight and feel of her. His eyes travel downward until they found her stomach and the collection of stab wounds he’d left there. His groin began to throb and his free hand fell to it, began to stroke it through the rough fabric of his jeans.

He considered having sex with her, one last time, but the thought was fleeting, chased away by a flutter—weak and sporadic—beneath his hand. The hand on his crotch went still and he flattened the other against her chest and pressed down. Searching for the heartbeat he was sure he’d just felt, but there was nothing there. A minute passed, then two. He dropped his hand. She was gone.

He was unsure of how much time had passed but when the lone howl of a coyote cut across the desert he took it as a warning.

It was time to leave.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Blurb-a-palooza 2012

Book blurbs.
You know, those snappy little quotes you see on the front cover of most paperbacks—

“I couldn’t put it down!”
                                    “My new favorite author!”

We’ve all seen them… and if you’re like me, then you’ve daydreamed about seeing one, or three, splashed across the front of your novel—hopefully attached to the name of a few big-time authors.
There are conflicting reports on how important they are. How well they help sell books. How easy or hard they are to get. Who you should ask and how…
I’d like to focus on the who and the how.
Who you ask to blurb your book is important. If you wrote a paranormal romance, you wouldn’t ask Tom Clancy to give you a blurb, would you? Probably not… because it’s best to focus on authors that are readily identifiable to the readers of your genre.
Paranormal romance = J.R. Ward. Christine Feehan, Sherrilyn Kenyon
Spy Thrillers = Tom Clancy, Brad Thor…

            well, you get the idea.

This raises a bit of a moral dilemma: is it important to be familiar with the author’s work that you ask for a blurb?
I happen to think it’s very important. I’m not sure I could personally approach an author whose work I didn’t know and admire… maybe that’s foolish of me, but there it is. I’ve thought about asking authors I'm unfamiliar with for a blurb and I couldn’t do it.
So, I started my search for the perfect blurb on my bookshelf. I write thrillers—makes sense since that’s what I read, right?
 I was immediately overloaded (I have A LOT of books…) but then I remembered the last book I bought from an unknown (to me) author and what drove me to buy it:
1)     The covergreat use of color, intriguing title…
2)     The blurbs. Both Lee Child and Harlan Coben gave Alison Gaylin’s and she was a great blurb.
           Great writers in the genre = a sense of trust about what lies beneath the cover. Child and Coben told me this book was good… so, I bought the book. And I liked it. I think people will like my book but no one is going to take my word from it… so it’s up to me create that sense of trust within the reader. The way I do that it to secure a great blurb by an equally great writer.
            I chose three from my shelf. Tess Gerritsen, Sandra Ruttan and Anne Frasier (Theresa Weir). I know, I know… my aim is pretty high but when I think about women who write thrillers, these are the women that immediately popped into my head. If I saw a book blurbed by them, I’d probably buy it.
            So… how do you ask for a blurb?
            I wrote them a short (all writers, published or not, are busy, so the shorter, the better), polite note, letting them know how much I admired their work and just… asked.
            I received a very polite rejection from Ms. Weir today. It stung a little, but she was very sweet in her reply. She’s busy, and if I understand anything, it’s busy. I wrote back, telling her I understood and thanked her for her time. The lesson here: if you get rejected—don’t be a jackass about it.
            I’m still waiting to hear back from Ms. Ruttan and Ms. Gerritsen. Who knows… maybe one of them will say yes.