Tag Archives: writing

Needle and Knife: Excerpt

This is a very disturbing story. Seriously, it involves baby mutilation. Not my usual romance.

But the full story won honorable mention in the horror category of the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Contest.

In Emilia’s dream, someone in a tower holds a baby. A brand new white baby. Painfully blue eyes look up with complete trust. He knows he will not fall. He’s weak, new, and undoubtedly male, but he’s safe and so pale.

The hands, which look so dark and brown against that new white flesh, tickle the baby’s ankle. The baby laughs. The big hand wraps around a tiny fat ankle and bends the chubby pink leg behind the baby’s back. He fusses. Blue eyes squint. He whines tiny and cute. The hand twists, folding the fat unformed bulb that will become the baby’s knee. Twists too far. The baby arches, curls, tries to pull his foot away from his back. He blurts annoyed squalls. Farther still. The baby cries.

Farther. New bone cracks.

The baby screams.

A knife glints against the baby’s breast and a bright bubble of blood appears over the new heart.

Emilia wakes, startled but soundless. She’s in the backseat of her grandfather’s car, head tipped back on the rich leather. It’s a North American car imported to Chile by a cargo freighter as Grandfather would remind her proudly. Her heart thuds in her ears and she looks around. Her father dozes beside her, her mother stares forward in the front seat, looking at the darkness of the Chilean countryside. Grandfather drives, she can see his soft brown hands on the wheel. Everyone in the car ought to hear the pulsing of her heart, but no one does.

She wants to tell her nightmare, to hear comforting words, but even at nearly nine she will not allow herself that weakness. Her right hand still makes a tight fist, thinking it holds a knife. Her left arm still curls as if cradling a new baby – her cousin, Vicente, she knows when she’s awake.

To shake the dream, Emilia stretches her arms and leans forward to thrust her head between her grandfather and her mother. She smells strong coffee and catches the glow of her mother’s Blackberry in her pocket.

Mother puts her hand on Emilia’s head and strokes her braided hair. Says nothing.

Grandfather whispers without taking his hands from the wheel. “Is that my curious little snake?”

Emilia smiles and hisses at him.

“Go to sleep, Lia.” Mother glances over her shoulder at Emilia’s father. There’s no judgment, merely observation. Around Grandfather, Mother always looks at Papi the way a woman might watch over a bird with a broken wing in a household of cats. “Lean on Papi.”

Emilia shakes her head and looks out the window. “I’m awake. Is this the place of gulls, yet?”

“No.” Grandfather points to the window on his left. “We have to go into those mountains for that.”

Emilia presses her face to the car window and stares out into the darkness.

The Chilean countryside is vastly different than her city home in Santiago. There is an eerie absence of life. No noise and no people. Nothing living that does not understand the dark and hiding. No light except the stars and the moon and in the distance the dark mass of mountains and snow rolling along the sky. She always thought the sky was black, the blackest black, but now she knows the only true darkness in the world is those mountains.

“Is that where the copper mines are, grandfather?”

Her mother speaks without patience. “Yes, and you know that. Be still and—”

“It is. The oldest and greatest of the Vidal family mines.” Grandfather interrupts his daughter. “The one you’ll inherit.”

Mother says nothing, watching Grandfather. The look of a sparrow watching an old hawk, waiting for him to dive and eat her young.

Grandfather doesn’t notice or, rather, he notices but is not bothered enough to let it interrupt him. “You’ll see it tomorrow. My grandfather burrowed into the earth and found the richest deposit of ore in all of Chile. He never mined half of it, because he was clever.”

“Copper dries up.” Emilia nods. “But people always want a bigger better roof over their heads.”

“Good girl.” Grandfather and Mother both say. All three of them smile but do not laugh.

The road jostles the American car and Papi snorts and groggily blinks awake. Mother turns and smiles, but Emilia frowns. It’s better when he’s asleep. She regrets thinking this because it’s unkind and Papi is nothing but kindness.

Papi gives her a goofy smile and tugs her hair, as if she is not nearly nine. His voice is large and laughing, “Hey, pretty girl. Still awake?”

There had been something special when it was only Grandfather, Mother, and herself in the stillness and the dark. Papi could not tolerate the stillness.

“No, Papi, I’m dreaming.” She points out the window. “I’m a snake swimming in the mountains.”

Grandfather, Mother, and Papi all laugh at this. Not because it’s funny, Emilia knows. Papi laughs because his daughter has said something silly in her serious way. Grandfather and Mother laugh so that Papi is not alone in his amusement.

Then Papi tickles her and Emilia is the one laughing alone, joyful. The darkness of the mountains, the knife in her dreams vanish into the warmth of her father’s big brown fingers.

Advice for Writing a Steampunk World: Part 2 Implementation

So, you’ve got the background blue-prints to your Steampunk world, now how do you put that to use while building a story with characters and plot?

If you’re an outliner, you may be struggling with the amount of details you have to find a place for. If you’re a discovery writer, you may have already written the story and be trimming down on the info dumps and useless bits of the world.

One of the weirdest things about The Scribbling Windhund is the point of view. Since the story is told by the machine, it exists somewhere between an epistolary work, a play, and the diary of a fashion critic. So, I had an interesting task in building the world without the use of large descriptive paragraphs (except when Otto gets effusive in his drafts).

 

Here’s my advice:

Determine what information about the world is most necessary to develop the plot and characters…

As the creator of the world, I know that Prussians have a list of names approved by the state that parents must use. I know that households are given financial incentives not only to have children but to have children who win awards and honors. I know that there’s a garden inside Prussia where every flower is artificially created to be perfectly symmetrical.

But none of that made it into the story. It filtered my experience of the world and informed how I wrote Otto, especially, but I couldn’t find a place to fit it while I was writing. So, I didn’t try to force it into the story. I remember I had to cut a section I particularly liked where Karl was looking down at the city and could see the garden and Otto told him about the perfect shape of the flowers. There’s was about five pages and it was acting as a fun metaphor for the culling of living things (like people) in the name of perfection, but really it wasn’t adding to the plot or the characters so I took it out.

 

And when to reveal it:

If you try to tell everything about the world on the first page, there will be no room for them to get attached to the character or story and in the end. I might feel like a textbook about the world. So, figure out when a technology or law gets revealed organically (then make sure it’s consistently applied even before the reader knows about it).

For example, Otto doesn’t mention the constant surveillance of the military, or the banning of imported alcohol, or the monitoring of sexual behaviors until later in the story. But he always behaves as someone who lives in that world and is particularly careful about what he says to and about the military.

 

Hide information dumps by building character and tension around them

I feel like this is a dirty trick, but it’s so useful. Whenever I have to get information about the world to the reader, I try to imagine how I would have learned about it explicitly in the world. I’m not afraid of character’s thinking back to school lessons, mother’s lectures, or the like.

I got to really cheat once or twice in this story, because the main character writes for a newspaper and takes the opportunity to educate children about something that happened in the past. Since the story is set up the way it is, I was able to include the actual newspaper story and the character’s interpretation of the event. Karl does his share of educating as well, but it comes paired with either an actual disagreement he’s having with Otto or with a personal disagreement with himself. So there’s always two or three things happening while the reader is learning about the world.

 


The Fantasist is a quarterly online magazine that publishes three original Fantasy novellas on the third Thursday of every third month.

And this month, while they celebrate Steampunk, one of them is mine!

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Support these guys. They have good stories for free.

LM Spangler : Return to Me

Return to Me-teaser1

Return to Me

 

Her secret tore them apart.

Naida Bouche foolishly thought she could live as if she was only human. Her true nature hung over her like a thunderhead, driving a wedge between her and her husband.

Cooper Martin had no idea why his ex-wife divorced him. He’d treated her like a goddess. And they had no problems in the intimacy department.

Fate brings them together again. Old emotions flare to life. Can Naida see beyond her self-perceived faults and allow the flames to reignite the love she and Coop feel for one another?

EXCERPT:

Water cascaded off her nude body. Small rivulets ran over her breasts and down her slightly rounded stomach, disappearing into the surface of the lake.
She was one with the water.
She could, literally, become one with it.
Moonlight reflected off the mirror-smooth surface, adding a soft glow to the night.
Crickets serenaded her with their chirping song. The cicadas added their buzzing to the symphony. There were a lot of cicadas, hence the name of the lake. A wolf howled in the distance. Nature cocooned her.
She grinned and dove under. Liquid embraced her, still heated by the sun’s rays from earlier in the day. Her body became insubstantial, fragmenting into molecules of H2O. Disorientation left her bewildered, but the feeling came and went. Weightless warmth enveloped her, and the ebb and flow of the tide lulled her into blissful relaxation.
The moon slid across the sky. Hours had passed. Her body became corporeal with a single thought. After regaining her human form, she cut through the water with powerful strokes and rose to the surface in a rush of bubbles.
The night air chilled her damp skin, raising goose pimples along her flesh. She pushed the long fall of hair from her face and glanced into the deep, lush woods that ringed the lake. Soon the leaves would change to shades of gold, orange, red, and brown. In would come the autumnal chill. Her time in the waters would decrease, and then winter would set in and freeze her out.
When that happened, she’d resort to the swimming pool located on the basement level of her large home. Even with the greenery she had sprinkled about, it never fully replaced the exhilaration of the lake, the feel of fresh air against her skin, and the scent of the wilderness.
She repeated the cycle, year after year. The monotony had long since worn short on her nerves.
She had someone in her life, someone to break the monotony.
More accurately, she would only have him until the end of the day.
Tonight would be the last night they would be together. She’d tell him that they were over and done with. The sad part of the whole shitty deal was she couldn’t really give him a reason why.
How could he understand? Hell, she’d have trouble believing the truth, if it wasn’t her life.
The root of their problems were otherworldly, as her father was human and her mother was a water nymph.
The nymph side of her heritage presented two problems. First, she needed daily contact with water. The more the better. Like her pool in the basement. Second, she also needed sex … a lot. Preferably once or twice a day. After all, the term “nymphomaniac” had been born of a nymph’s sex drive.
They had a lot of sex, but there were times when their hectic lives interfered with his libido. He was human and his sex drive was human.
She couldn’t guess how he’d react if she said, “I’m a nympho which means we have to have sex all the time. Day and night. Over and over and over.”
He wouldn’t understand it and she’d allowed it to build a wall between them.
No, he had never known the truth of her desires.
She had pushed him away, afraid of exposing her real self.
And that fear, that uncertainty, would leave her alone … and needy.

Buy Links:

Available at your favorite e-book retailer!

Author Bio:

LM Spangler lives in South Central Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, three dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and some fish. Her son serves his country in the US Navy.

She is a fan of college football and any kind of baseball and likes to watch the Discovery, Velocity, HGTV, DIY, Science, and any channel showing a college football game. She also watches old game shows like $25,000 Pyramid and Match Game.

Behind the Scenes: Evasive Love Part 1returntome1l__15503.1526265405.432.648

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Three Weeks into Nano and I want to die.

I gotta say, The Writing Workshop Notebook by Alan Ziegler is the best craft book I’ve come across. I love the format which is literally notes and the pithy quotes. I read it all in one day and then started it again the next day. I wish they had it on audio.

In particular I loved this quote:

It bites
Terrible Advice for NanoWrimo

I’m gonna hang this poster at my desk, not just because I love the image of a helpless little girl about to be eaten by a monster, or because I have an unhealthy fixation on wolves and witches, but because Little Red Ridinghood ends with her defeating the beast that consumed her. Yes, she had to be saved the first time, but once she learned how to fight wolves, she was able to go on her way safely and merrily.

And that’s how it is with novels.

Most of the writers I’ve worked with have at one time or another been overwhelmed by the bigness of the task. Writing an entire novel, keeping it all organized and coherent seems overwhelming, and many people give up. In my experience, it happens when they are about three-fourths of the way done.

When they’ve been swallowed. By the doubt, or by poor planning, or by existential ennui, or by life. By the fact that the ending seems so far away and unapproachable. Or the beginning looks like such a mess and its impossible to wade through it and find something that will hook an audience and tie to the end and introduce the entire world and all the characters at once.

Every problem gets bigger and bigger and seems harder and harder to solve.

And that’s the time to take that step back, to permit yourself to leave that particular monster alone for a bit. Maybe beat the crap out of a short story. Or a novella. Or a poem, which I’m told are wicked little brutes on their own.

The most important thing is to come back to that fight when it’s fair again. When you’re prepared to tackle the material and wrestle it into submission. When you can look at it with fresh eyes. When being left alone has made the monster a little smaller and more willing to be tamed.

When I first read this, Ziegler’s quote just slapped me silly. I’ve been periodically fighting with and backing off from my thesis novel since I started writing it in 2015. And since I’m the type who feels guilty writing another project, like I’m cheating on my novel, I’ve been frantic every time I’ve taken a break to work on something else. I’ve worried it will make Finding Lost Sound disjointed or that I’ll lose the characters because I’ve left them alone. But when I look back, I think about how renewed I was coming back to Finding Lost Sound. Everything falls a little more into place after each absence. I’m beginning to think I was drowning under the sheer mass of my epic fantasy sci-fi romance and the novellas I’ve been releasing through Evernight were the little sips of air that have let me swim with the thing as long as I have.

 

Katherine Wyvern’s LGBT tales series features… me!

Fellow Evernight Author and erotic rambler, Kathertin Wyvern was kind enough to let me talk about my first two novels and how my sexual fantasies were forever changed by watching “Miller’s Crossing.”

I realized what I wanted most was not graphic descriptions of the great sex I was not having as a teenager (though I wanted that in spades), but the wholeness of the gay character. In the Cohen Brothers’ film, the love triangle between three men is integral to the plot, yet they stand out not as gays who happened to be gangsters, but as gangsters who happened to be gay. They are sexual characters defined by things outside their sexuality.
I started writing those stories.

 

Click the picture for the full interview!

 

Visit my Website for all the blurbs, excerpts and news!!

 

Love Across The Universe: Excerpt from Breathless

Love Across the Universe

Twelve Stories of Science Fiction Romance

Set on Intergalactic Shores

 3D Love Across the Universe

NOW AVAILABLE

From Stars and Stone Books

 

Amazon iBooks Kobo GooglePlay

 

Summer love is summer love, no matter the planet. Climb aboard your spacecraft and travel across the universe with these twelve tales of love on beaches in the future and among the stars.


Breathless: by L.J. Longo

A soldier and a café manager find themselves trapped beneath the surface of a resort by the deadly beasts native to the planet. As they fight to survive, they discover danger is a potent aphrodisiac.

 

As part of a hidden military outfit protecting rich civilians as they vacation on the resort planet Pangaea, Nathan Oyola planned to keep secrets, fight aliens, and maybe tan under the rays of an artificial sun.  What he did not expect was to fall for his so-called boss, the manager of the café located directly above the aliens’ nest. When the native wildlife starts behaving more aggressive and strange than usual, how will Nathan keep them secret and keep his new-found love safe.

 

Excerpt:

“Mott. Your little girlfriend is early again. Tell him to f— off.”

Sarge marches at the front of the company, but her voice carries over the bloated carcasses of tonight’s kills—about twenty ten-footers. My platoon guards the rear in case their stench attracts more roaches looking for an easy meal.

When I look past the pile of tentacles and blood to the omni-pit’s mouth, the concrete is bleach white. Overhead UVs are on. Tianjin Ki is in the warehouse above.

“10-4, ma’am.”

The company chuckles as I jog by. Even the grunts know I’ve got a thing for our boss, but the idea of Old Iron-Jaw dating the planet resource manager makes them laugh.

And it should. It’s fucking ridiculous. Tianjin Ki can do better than a lead-head.

I hand my ruck to Sarge as she asks, “You got a clean apron?”

“Nope. But I got a dirty one.” I hand her my helmet and head to H.Q.

“Mott!” Sarge barks.

I turn, my Shock-87 raised, radiating heat in my metal hand, ready to roast.

Not exactly civilian attire.

“Oh.” I kill the charge and hand Sarge my gun and my clips. She smiles, wrinkling the scarred skin around her unblinking electric eyes. “Wash-up good, lover-boy. Gotta look cuddly for Mr. Ki.”

There’s nothing cuddly about my face. I see it when I change my BDU for my civvies and Moon Kaa apron in H.Q. Or more accurately, I see the cybernetic gleam of my jaw and right forearm because the shadows have swallowed my dark skin. What’s left of my reflection is a half-metal ox squeezed into a too-tight uniform shirt. Just some asshole cyborg impersonating a civilian. Badly.

My platoon strips the shells and hacks through thoraxes. Ro-Jo, my second-in-command, finds time to tease. “Take one for the team, Iron-Jaw.”

I wave her off and ignore the platoon’s chuckles, until How-Town pipes in. “Yeah, maybe if you treat Ki real nice, we’ll get a raise.”

I scowl at him from the stair and the laughter silences. How-Town, only six months on the roach path, holds a machete like it’s a teddy bear and quivers under my glare.

“Sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to speak out of turn.”

“You better be sorry,” I answer somberly. “I always treat my bitches nice.”

The platoon laughs and returns to liquefying the dead roaches.

There’s a galaxy of tubes and conveyor belts overhead that connect the port to fifty feet of stock shelves. Moon-Kaa Cafe is the largest restaurant on the planet, which isn’t as impressive as it sounds since BABs has only been inhabited for fifteen years. Still, the fresh water ocean, the miles of green beach, the dozens of luxury resorts bring vacationers from all over the galaxy. The visitors outnumber the permanent population by six to one. And nearly all of them will eat at least once at Moon-Kaa Cafe.

Tianjin Ki’s office stands next to the shelves with windows to the warehouse and the backroom. The door’s propped open. Too early for him to do paperwork. He’s in the backroom—I glimpse his milky skin, his red tie through the shelves. Doing our job.

Tianjin can do every job at every resort on this fucking planet with about ten minutes notice. Not only does he open the cafe three or four days a week, I’ve seen him pull shifts at the deli when Graham had the flu and at Quassar’s grill to give Ms. Jessica time off to plan her daughter’s wedding. Once I spotted him at The Boiler Room behind the bar, which still makes my heart flip a little. I don’t think he saw me, though I’d never managed the courage to visit the men’s only club afterward. If he saw me, he recognized me. The crowd was entirely vacationers. Besides, there are precious few cyborgs on BABs. They all work nights at Moon-Kaa Cafe.

Tianjin steps into my full view, pausing before the sliding doors between the kitchen and the shelves. He smiles for himself. That’s the kind of person he is. Sweet, cheerful. Even with all his power, Tianjin says ‘thank you’ to the lead-head who takes out the trash.

Even across the warehouse, I can appreciate the crispness of his white shirt on his slender shoulders, the neatness of his sleek black ponytail, the way his trousers accentuate the curve of his ass.

I’d like to mess up every part of his calm.


About the Author:

L.J. Longo is a queer author, a geek, a feminist, sometime pirate, and is an ARe best-selling author of Erotic Romance. An Evernight author, L.J.’s work appears in The Dishonest LoverDark Captive: Manlove Edition, and Evasive Love. L.J.’s story “The Scarf” appears in Owned by the Alpha: Manlove Edition and the first book of L.J.’s first series, Hiring the Tiger: Heart of the Mountain is now available.

​Find more thoughtful, hot erotica at Graceful Indecency where L.J. offers free erotica and contests to win romance e-books. L.J. also sometimes takes a break from writing and messes around on Twitter and Facebook.


Amazon: L.J. Longo

 

Breathless: Part 2 the Not-So-Magical

That brilliant idea of writing about the writing. I really wish I’d done that for Breathless because…


Today it’s the Fourth of July and I hate everything about writing.

Shit went sideways in a big way with Breathless. A lot more difficult to write than I initially thought it was going to be. Which is a problem because that story is already contracted and I am not backing down.

Here’s the premise– the promise I am making to readers– A soldier working night-shift in a cafe, where his primary job is to kill aliens under the planet’s surface that no civilian knows about, falls in love with his boss, who comes in morning to do the prep-work night shift is not doing. Eventually, the boss discovers the aliens and soldier saves him and they kiss and are happy forever.

The story should be pretty fun and quirky. The kind of thing that probably fits in an anthology about Love across the Universe. None of my usual Dark Romance, BSDM, trigger warning inducing hate sex bordering on violence. Breathless should be funny and uplifting.

It is not.

Right now, for some reason, my light hearted Rom-com in space begins like a Military SF/Horror. The first chapter has these soldiers underground, really tense, really dark atmosphere, then BAM! one of the solders gets his head bit off.  Fantastic hook.

But Chapter Two is about the manager and is all butterflies and fluffy romance. It makes no Goshly-dumbed sense (full disclosure, I’m recording this at Starbuck’s and a small child has just sat down, intensely watching me while she licked the face of her pirate pop).

The promise I made at the beginning of the story does not fit with a romance novel. No matter how *snicker* killer that hook is, it’s not suitable for the story the rest of the work wants to tell. In a novel, there’s more time for the soldier to grieve, for the romance to develop above this bleak hidden world, but with only 10 Thousand fruit-caked words, I cannot do it. *laspe in to Scottish accent* I simply canne do it. Word counts suck money ball.

(And Daddy has taken his precious little face-licker away.)

Anyway, so the whole process of reigning this monster in, tightening it up, cutting all sorts of really fun and exciting bits that did belong in the story, but were not serving it to the max was a royal pain in the ass. I did not anticipate this in the beginning since I had such fire. I knew exactly where I was going, how I wanted to tell the story. I had the fun opening scene with the morning guy being snarky and funny and putting these giant cyborgs in their place, then the soldiers shamefacedly going in the back and there’s a giant alien getting hacked up and dissolved.  Much better hook for a romance novel. That also ended up getting cut because I needed to get to the relationship even faster.

In a novella, you have such a short amount of time to bring it all together.

I wish I’d been writing about the writing so I could have caught all these little nuances  and why it’s so weird and difficult to do what we writers do.

During the revision, I spent a lot of time thinking about the beginnings and endings and the promises we make that the ending has to pay off. And working that backwards so in the end everything that’s paid off had worked hard enough to earn the pay out.

And I wish I’d be recording that in real time, because I think this happens to me every time I write a novella (one of the reasons I want to write about the writing is because I have such a terrible memory for the process). I’d like to understand my own better. You know, anticipate how much writing a novella is going to fuck me up emotionally.

Because it does.  I think my natural writing is novel length, and probably epic in scope due to the nature of the worlds I build. But I’m writing most novellas.

Writing things that are shorter is painful. When I’ve written short stories successfully, I’ve cut them off just before the point where they become novels. A character remains trapped where in a novel they would escape, or gives up completely in a place that would otherwise just be the inciting incident for their journey of self discovery.

Breathless: Part 1 The Magic

Sometime in May, I had the brilliant idea to write about the writing in real time. However, I suck at blogging. Still, I had a voice recorder full of excitement and so I thought I’d share the thrill of catching the idea with you.

All of this was written on Memorial Day 2017.


So I try to write everyday, but after the craziness of March through May where I edited and published three novellas I was mentally exhausted and without a project.

This made the second half of May very strange for me. I haven’t felt like myself because I haven’t been sticking to my habit. I’m not as happy when I’m not writing (there been times in the past when my partner, literally told me to go away and write because I was being mean).

I still have been working on Witch, Ghost, Dog, Clone (which is a huge fantasy project that is also my graduate school thesis project), notes for the rest of the Heart of the Mountain series, and tinkering with old stuff. But I haven’t had a real project, because I’ve been writing like God-damned demon I needed a break.

So I took a break. Watched some Jessica Jones and Supernatural. Read some Deadpool.

But yesterday, for whatever reason, the writing came.

Rather than struggling to put words on page (or you know, text on screen) I found myself fluidly being drawn into a story. I knew the characters instinctively, I saw where the plot was going, I even had an opening line.

It’s an idea I thought up working at Starbucks. There’s long hallway that leads to a parking garage where they kept the garbage. One of my jobs was to walk to trash for this hallway and as a writing exercise I’d describe the hallway in my head in different voice and tones. How does it look from a horror novel from the monster’s POV? What about in a  romance novel?  What about in a comedic mash-up of the two where dude is so much in love that he’s listening to his music and dancing along, and never notices the giant bug demon hanging on the ceiling.

Somehow I got hung up on the idea of monsters and I put my Starbucks experience in the Buffy verse. My little place on Grove St. was actually nestled on top of a Hell-Mouth and and the reason nothing was ever done in the morning was because evening shift was killing demons keeping those bastards underground.

I had this fun image of David Wong, Kevin Smith, and Nora Roberts mashup where the romantic lead is this oblivious dude on night shift who falls for his boss who works the morning shift. Boss thinks Dude is an asshole because the work is never finished, so Dude starts working his ass off in the last half hour of the day to get everything done and impress Boss.

I teased this idea while writing Heart of the Mountain, and Witch, Ghost, Dog, Clone, and turning in the final edits for Seaweed and Silk and The Scarf. As I took out the trash, I’d daydream about someone getting locked out of the cafe and then devoured in the hallway. Or a soldier dropping down to the Hell-Mouth and hunting demons Dean and Sam Winchester style.

Then at some point, I had to submit a story idea to an romance anthology from the same people that brought you Crazy Little Spring Called Love. I knew it was science-fiction and I knew it had to happen on a beach. My brainstorming and searching through old stories brought me nothing. Neither did asking my sister (a hopeless romantic) for advice.

But I didn’t have time to write, because it was a Starbucks day, so I went to work. Of course, night shift had made a royal mess of things. Disorganized pastry case. Oddly curated sandwich selection. No cold brew made. And of course, they put in the wrong garbage bags. Instead of triple bagging the one for the coffee grounds (wet coffee grounds is the smell of trash. Nothing else smells as much like trash as wet coffee grounds), they’d put in a bag so tight it had stretched to fit over the edges.

Being witty as fuck at 5:30 a.m., I mentally demanded, “why? Did the bin see it’s youth floating away and decide to chaseit ‘s former glory with tight-ass garbage bags?  Did the trash make questionable sexual decisions and the bin squeezed into a female condom for protection?”

What I actually said was, “hum. Must have been busy. I’ll change this now.”

And my boss remarked on how pleasant I was and cussed out night-shift for me.

Instantly, I had the character for Dude’s love interest. Someone who could be mentally shredding everyone else to pieces while remaining pleasant to work with. It suddenly occurred to me, my story wasn’t happening in a Hell-Mouth, but on an planet so big that it was mostly beach. The brainless monsters Dude was hunting weren’t demons, but aliens, the insentient beginning of life. And when Boss found out, he would handle his rage by making Dude breakfast and smiling.

I even had a title for it.

Breathless.

 

And about 3000 words into it now. I’ve got a word count limit of 10k. I’m aiming to finish this puppy by Wednesday when I go back to Starbucks again.

Happy Memorial Day, folks. Wish me luck.

Nicola M. Cameron

Nicola M. Cameron on the location of her latest novella Shifter Woods: Howl

The world of Shifter Woods comes from my road trip last year to RT in Las Vegas. I decided to drive from Dallas to LV, and it turned into an absolutely wonderful road trip through some gorgeous countryside. One of my favorite spots along the way was Albuquerque, where I stayed overnight. I hadn’t realized that I-40 skirted the Sandia Mountains until the next morning when I walked out of my hotel, looked up and realized, “Oh. THAT’S what I was driving over last night. Good to know.”

Driving back was even nicer because I had the chance to appreciate the mountains in daylight, and something about the beauty and power of the range really stayed with me. When it came time to write SW:H, I wanted to set the action in a cabin somewhere out west with stunning scenery, so placing my imaginary Esposito County and Macomber in the Sandia foothills was a no-brainer. There will be at least three more novellas set in this location dealing with other shifters in Esposito and I may well do a full-length novel with Caleb and Laurie after that, so stay tuned!


Laurie wants a news story. Caleb just wants to be left alone. But when the coyote shifters’ paths cross in New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains, Fate steps in and gives them something they never expected—each other.

Reporter Laurie Rivera is on the trail of a white slavery ring when she’s forced to run for her life in the foothills near Sandia Crest. Widowed sheriff and Alpha coyote shifter Caleb Lynch comes across the exhausted reporter and discovers to his shock that Laurie’s also a coyote shifter—and his new heart’s mate.

But Caleb never expected to have another chance at love, and Laurie has a good reason to fear being claimed, especially by an Alpha. As a snowstorm traps them in the sheriff’s cabin, Caleb must find a way around the barriers surrounding Laurie’s heart, and Laurie has to confront her past—and the humans who want her dead—if she wants a chance at her very own “happily ever after.”


Excerpt

Upstairs, Caleb stretched out in the big, comfortable bed, remembering how Paul Sleeping Turtle, Mike Ivanov and he had used some stout ropes and a lot of good-natured cursing to haul the mattress and box spring and over the loft railing. Anna had stood well out of the way downstairs, laughing at their language as they’d sweated and lugged the damn things upward. That night, however, she’d rewarded him in the newly installed bed, and Mike cheerfully baited him the next day about hearing the noise from a good mile away.

He’d never brought another woman to the cabin after Anna’s death, never even wanted to. But Laurie was different. He could smell her even up here, her essence rising with the heat from the fireplace and perfuming the loft with the smell of warm, sweet female in heat and in need of a good fucking.

He had no idea why Laurie had suddenly gone into heat while he was doing the dishes, but the change in her scent was unmistakable. Granted, sometimes an unmated Alpha could send a young, untried female into heat from simple proximity. But Laurie Rivera had to be in her early thirties, and if she was a virgin he’d eat his badge. The view he’d caught of her in the reflection of the kitchen window was of a female openly eyeing him and liking what she saw.

He grinned at the hand-hewn beams overhead. You know damn well what it means. She’s my mate, whether she likes it or not.

Which, ironically, was the problem. From what she’d told him, she was skittish as hell about the idea of being claimed. He couldn’t blame her, considering her experiences with her first Alpha. But it certainly messed up any chance he had with her, as well. And he didn’t have the luxury of taking his time and courting her, letting her get to know him over time. The moment the plows came through in the morning, Mike and this Gavin guy would be at the cabin to pick her up. After that, Laurie would be back in the city with her career and her life, never to return.

Albuquerque isn’t that far, though.

Oh, yeah? When was the last time you were there? The last time you had time to go there?

His subconscious—or his coyote, he wasn’t sure—had a point. He had to act tonight before he lost her. So, time to be sneaky.

He kicked off the blanket, bracing as the cool air hit his bare skin. He usually didn’t sleep naked during winter, but he wanted as much of his own aroma circulating as possible. He’d made a vow, yes, and he would keep it … unless Laurie gave him permission to break it. And the best way to make happen would be to tempt her upstairs with the scent of his desire and the promise of fulfilling her own.

Running a hand over his chest, he brushed the firm nub of a nipple and the crisp hair that led in a trail down to his groin. He followed it now, wrapping a hand around his soft cock and squeezing. It twitched at the stimulation; when he squeezed again, running his thumb over the upper ridge of the head, it began to thicken lazily.

He started a light, teasing stroke, not enough to get himself off but more than enough to get fully hard. Closing his eyes, he imagined Laurie climbing the stairs to the loft and his bed. The mattress would dip a bit as she climbed on it, moving on all fours to him. He knew she was the kind of female who, when her mind was made up, would stake her claim. There would be no fear, no anger, nothing but need and the deep knowledge that they belonged together.

He pictured her straddling his thighs, bending over to give him a deep, luscious kiss. Her breasts would swing forward and he could cup them, relishing the firm weight of them in each hand before he leaned up to take a nipple in his mouth. He already knew how the salt of her sweat and the sweet spice of her skin would taste, and how to rub the velvet flat of his tongue across the nub to make her gasp. He wanted to learn all the sounds she made in bed, the feminine moans and sighs that were music to a male’s ears.

His sweet female would be eager that first time, taking him in hand and guiding his straining cock between her legs. He groaned as he imagined the hot, wet squeeze of her sliding down around him, a perfect fit that would drive him out of his mind. She’d start riding him, her breasts jiggling with each rise and fall, and that perfect friction building between cock and cunt, all hot juices and slippery softness and his dick going deeper and deeper into her until he could feel the electricity rising, building at that sweet spot between balls and spine…

He pulled his hand away, half-enjoying the sparking, stuttering feeling of having his orgasm denied. Now he just had to wait.

Please, Laurie, I need you. Come to me.

Where to Buy

Amazon



About Nicola Cameron

Nicola Cameron is a married woman of a certain age who really likes writing about science fiction, fantasy, and sex. When not writing about those things, she likes to make Stuff™. And she may be rather fond of absinthe.

While possessing a healthy interest in sex since puberty, it wasn’t until 2012 that she decided to write about it. The skills picked up during her SF writing career transferred quite nicely to speculative romance. Her To Be Written work queue currently stands at around nineteen books, and her mojito-sodden Muse swans in from Bali every so often to add to the list, cackling to herself all the while.

Nicola plans to continue writing until she drops dead over her keyboard or makes enough money to buy a private island and hire Rory McCann as her personal trainer/masseur, whichever comes first.

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