I’m reading Shiloh Walker’s romantic suspense trilogy. It’s exactly what’s advertised: romantic suspense with focus on the characters and romance. There is a creepy serial killer, and a small sleepy town. I might twist her arm and make her come on the blog next week. It’s pretty evenly 50/50 romance and murder. It’s rare when that happens.
There is something so appealing about mysteries set in small towns. I’m not even sure what exactly, because I’ve lived in a small town in NC and it was no picnic. It’s quaint and charming until your car breaks down and none of the places in town work on Subaru, because it’s not an American car, and the one mechanic that does agree to take a look at it has a backlog of repairs three weeks long.
So anyway, I was reading it late last night and this morning I got up and decided to take a shower. Oliver positioned himself by the shower door, in case I need rescuing. Somehow the cat, the sleepy town, and the serial killer cooked itself up into a small town paranormal while I was in the shower. I pretty much got at least the beginning of the story. It wouldn’t be chop-people-to-bits kind of story and I think it might fit into the Innkeeper thing.
What the Innkeeper thing? It’s the thing I will write if our deadlines ever let me come up for air. Actually, that might be sooner than expected, because we’re still trying to buy health insurance and we’ll have to pay for it somehow. I have to go and have a physical. ::sigh:: Weight. Must lose it.
I was wondering if you have a short story in the book Hex Appeal coming out in June? If so, what series is it from or rather who are the characters?
Hello. On another website, I found a reference to an upcoming Anthology called HEX APPEAL and was pleased to notice that you were one of the contributors. The publisher site tells me that your story is called “Retribution Clause”. But, I couldn’t find a discussion about it on your website. Could you post a little info about your selection? Thanks.
Just saw a blurb about “Hex Appeal”. Care to share any information about your contribution to the anthology? I always enjoy new stories from you.
There is no escape, is there?
A little over two years ago, when we were still living in Georgia, our phone rang and I picked it up. There was an older woman on the other end, whom I identified as Gordon’s Grandma. So, I brightly said, “Hi, Memaw!” It wasn’t Memaw, it was P.N. Elrod. Pat has worked with us before on Dark and Stormy Knights and she wanted to know if we’d be up for round two. The pay was good, so we said yes.
Then stuff happened, none of it good, and suddenly all the time we had evaporated. We were still on the hook for a short, so we took the plot of an old SF short, Adjuster’s Dilemma, set it in the Kate Universe, and rewrote it. The plan was to hit it hard in copyedit. Except that we never got to see a copyedit. Due to schedule changes and various other issues over the course of the next two years, the anthology was hit with a couple of business-type delays. The PDF galleys just landed in our mailbox and they are due today.
I haven’t seen the story in forever. I am kind of scared to look. I can’t make extensive changes either at this stage.
So read at your own risk. The short is at about 12K, set in Philadelphia, and features a cousin to one of the persistent characters in Kate universe. But good news, there are much better contributions to the cause, besides ours:
RETRIBUTION CLAUSE by Ilona Andrews 1
BIGFOOT ON CAMPUS by Jim Butcher 38
HOLLY’S BALM by Rachel Caine 90
SNOW JOB by Carole Nelson Douglas 142
OUTSIDE THE BOX by P. N. Elrod 182
HOW DO YOU FEEL? by Simon R. Green 221
THERE WILL BE DEMONS by Lori Handeland 252
CHERRY KISSES by Erica Hayes 288
THE ARCANE ART OF MISDIRECTION by Carrie Vaughn 326
Here is an excerpt from a doc file I found. The last time I looked at it was 03/17/2011. Awesome.
Update: Okay, I’m reading it. It’s not too awful.
Update: Hehehe, cupcake. I forgot it was a love story.
Adam Talford closed his eyes and wished he were somewhere else. Somewhere warm. Where cool waves lapped hot yellow sand, where strange flowers bloomed, and birdsong filled the air.
“Take off the watch! Now!” A male voice barked into his ear. “You think I am fucking with you? You think I am playing? I’ll rip your flesh off your body and make myself a skin suit.”
Adam opened his eyes. The three thugs who pinned him to the brick wall looked half-starved, like mongrel dogs who’d been prowling the alley, feeding on garbage.
He should’ve never wandered into this side of Philadelphia, not in the evening, and especially not while the magic was up. This was Firefern Road, a place where the refuse of the city hid out among the ruins of the ravaged buildings, gnawed by magic to ugly nubs of brick and concrete. The real predators stalked their prey elsewhere, looking for bigger and meatier scores. Firefern Road sheltered scavengers, desperate and savage, eager to bite but only when the odds were on their side.
Unfortunately, he had no choice.
“You have the cash,” Adam said, keeping his voice low. “Take it and go. It’s a cheap watch. You won’t get any money for it.”
The larger of the thugs pulled him from the wall and slammed him back into the bricks. The man bent over him, folding his six feet two down to Adam’s five feet five, so their faces were level, forcing Adam to stare straight into his eyes. Adam looked into their blue depths and glimpsed a spark of vicious glee. It wasn’t about the money anymore. It was about domination, humiliation, and inflicting pain. They would beat him just for the fun of it.
“The watch, you little bitch,” the thug ordered.
“No,” Adam said quietly.
A muscular forearm smashed into his neck, cutting off his air. Bodies pressed against him. He felt fingers prying at the metal band on his narrow wrist. His heart hammered. His chest constricted.
Think of elsewhere. Think of blue waves and yellow sand….
Someone yanked at the band. The world was turning darker – his lungs demanded air. Pain shot through his limbs in sharp burning spikes.
Blue waves… Azure… Calm… Just need to stay calm…
Cold metal broke his skin. They were trying to cut the watch off his wrist. He jerked and heard the crunch of broken glass. Two tiny watch gears flew before his eyes, sparking with residual traces of magic.
Imbeciles. They’d broken it.
The magic chain that held his body in check vanished. The calming visions of the ocean vanished, swept away by an avalanche of fury. His magic roared inside him, ancient, primal, and cold like a glacier. Frost clamped his eyebrows, falling off in tiny snowflakes. The short blond hair rained down from his head and pale blue strands grew in its place, falling down to his shoulders. His body surged, up and out, stretching, spilling out into its natural shape. His outer clothes tore under the pressure, as his new form stretched the thick spandex suit he wore underneath to its limit. His feet ripped the cheap cloth converse. The three small humans in front of him froze like frightened rabbits.
With a guttural roar Adam grasped the leader by his shoulder and yanked him up. The man’s fragile collarbone broke under the pressure of his pale fingers and the man screamed, kicking his feet. Adam brought him close, their eyes once again level. The thug trembled and fell silent, his face a terrified rigid mask. Adam knew exactly what he saw: a creature, an eight foot tall giant in the shape of a man, with a mane of blue hair and eyes like submerged ice.
Inside him, the rational, human part of Adam Talbot sighed and faded. Only cold and rage drove him now.
“Do you know why I wear the watch?” he snarled into the man’s face.
The thug shook his head.
“I wear it so I can keep my body in my tracking form. Because when I’m small, I don’t draw attention. I can go anywhere. Nobody pays me any notice. I’ve been tracking a man for nine days. His trail led me here. I was so close, I could smell his sweat, and the three of you ruined it for me. I can’t follow him now, can I?” He shook them man like a wet rag. “I told you to walk away. No. You didn’t listen.”
“I’ll listen,” the thug promised. “I’ll listen now.”
“Too late. You wanted to feel big and bad. Now I’ll show you what big and bad is.”
Adam hurled the human across the alley. The thug flew. Before he crashed into a brick ruin with a bone snapping crunch, his two sidekicks turned and fled, running full speed. Adam vaulted over a garbage dumpster to his right and gave chase.
Ten minutes later he returned to the alley, crouched, dug through the refuse with bloody fingers and fished out his watch. The glass and the top plate were gone, displaying the delicate innards of gears and magic. Hopelessly mangled. Just like the thug who still sagged motionless against the ruin.
The alley reeked with the scavenger stench: fear, sweat, a hint of urine, garbage. Adam rose, stretching to his full height, and raised his face to the wind. The hint of Morowitz’s scent teased him, slightly sweet and distant. The chase was over.
Dean Morowitz was a thief and like all thieves, he would do anything for the right price. He’d stolen a priceless necklace in a feat of outrageous luck, but he didn’t do it on his own. No, someone had hired him and Adam was interested in the buyer much more than he was interested in the tool he used. Breaking Morowitz’s legs would probably shed some light on his employment arrangements, but it would inevitably alarm the buyer, who’d vanish into thin air. Following the thief was a much better course of action.
Adam sighed. He failed. Tracking the thief now would be like carrying a neon side above his head that read, “POM Insurance Adjuster.” He’d have to give Morowitz a day or two to cool off and arrange for a replacement watch to hide his true form, before trying to find the man again.
A mild headache scraped at the inside of Adam’s head, insistent like a knock on his door.
He concentrated, sending a focused thought into its direction. “Yes?”
“You’re needed at the office, Mr. Talford,” a familiar female voice murmured directly into his mind.
“I’ll be right there,” he promised, rose to his full height, and began to jog, breaking into the long-legged distance-devouring gait that thousands of years ago carried his ancestors across the frozen wastes of the old North.