Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Interesting Process...

Greetings PNR friends, peers, and (frequently) fantatics!

As many of my beloved stalkers...er, Facebook-savvy fans know, I have been hard at work creating the comic book version of my PNR urban fantasy/adventure novel, Black Dog and Rebel Rose. This dark paranormal has just about everything: sex, tattoos, motorcycles, vampyre slaying (resplendent with blood splatter and awesome horror gore), angels, demons, a headstrong Nephil huntress who likes things done HER way, and a half-demon bad boy known for rocking a woman's world (note the illustration above--;-). A story I loved writing and that I STILL love in prose...and yet one that I always felt would work BEST as a comic.

I have begun posting the fruits of my continuing labors on my Facebook page, and the response has been awesome. Lots of folks are asking: how does it work? What is the process of creating a comic book page? Even those who have no interest in comics--which, I'm sure, involves much of the PNR reading world--are still interested in the process. So...*drumroll please**...here you go! Creating a comic...in pictures!

Now, I will not be illustrating this using all the same page artwork each time...hopefully this will make things more interesting and still be easy to follow.


Not too impressive, I know...but this is just the beginning. :-)
To give myself an idea for how a page should be laid out, I will create a very scribbly looking sketch of where characters should be placed, how panels should work out, etc. In this case, my heroine is riding her Ducati Monster along a dirt road, where she spots a vulture eating roadkill and proceeds to have an intense flashback regarding her mother's death. Can you see that in this drawing? HELL NO! But I can, and that's all we need at this point.


Now, in the "old school" of comics, pencils would usually be tighter than this. Some artists still make their pencils as tight as any finished drawing for a comic page. I do not, since I am working digitally in a program called Manga Studio, a program specifically designed for comics creation and publication and allows me to create cutting-edge artwork demanded by the industry standard, and I don't need pencils to be so final. Dialogue bubbles are added as a "guide".


Here you will see a definite "in process" shot. Again, not super impressive, but important nonetheless. :-) In this particular example, I have eliminated parts of the pencil art and drawn in sketchy areas in blue--these would be called "non photo blue" sketches (because if you are doing this art on paper rather than digitally, sketches would be done using a special blue pencil that would allow you to sketch parts of the drawing that won't show up when scanned/printed). You can see part of the page has already been inked a bit. The red line allows me to plot the flow of the page to make sure it will make sense before it is finalized in ink.


We're getting there! Clean inking is applied digitally, and a grey background is applied (this particular comic is being created in black, grey and white tones with eyes in color only). I have also already colored the eyes in here, and applied the final panel layouts.


Here it is!!! The final colored page! All we need now is to add dialogue bubbles and narration and...presto!!! We have a finished page! :-D

Looks pretty different from the first example, huh? :-) 


TAG!! You're it! Find me online:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danielle.d.smith.10?ref=tn_tnmn
Twitter: @DaniDSmith
Check out the original Black Dog and Rebel Rose story on Amazon (also available everywhere else):

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Writing With Little Eyes Around

I have a series revolving around the Glow Band. You might have heard of it. Elementals and their fans. Fun punk band. They also have their quirks. Some of them are dominants, other submissive. There's some spankin' and some other stuff going on. Here's the thing: while I'm writing these books, I also have a small person in my household who can read.

You're probably saying, well, then don't write something the small person can read while small person is around. My small person is slick. He knows the precise moment when I'm right in the middle of a heated scene. That's the exact moment he shows up and silently reads over my shoulder. Sure, I've got the laptop password protected. If the lid is lifted, the only person who can get onto the computer is me--until he gets smart enough to figure out the pw. Yeah, then I'm in trouble.

Here's an example of his stealth. I like to sit at the coffee table after he and DH go to bed. That's where I write some of the time. It's far enough away from the bedrooms that the music doesn't bother them. I can turn on the TV for noise and it won't wake them. So I'm listening to Queen, really getting into the scene I'm writing and the words are flying. I am not paying attention to what's going on around me because well, I'm in the zone. I don't see that the cat who doesn't like people or noise has bolted. I don't realize the dog is staring at me. I'm not saying anything and the music is nice and soft.

And there's a small person behind me. "Mom, what does pu--pu," Hand reaches over my shoulder, "That word mean?"

Not only do I want to scream and jump because he's scared the living crap out of me, but I want to sink into the floor. Not only did he manage to zero in on the one word that's not really for little eyes, but he pretty much sounded it out. I asked him why he was out of bed. "I couldn't sleep." So why was he reading over my shoulder? "Because you were down here awake and I wanted to sit with you."

The child went to bed and the zone was totally blown - no pun intended. I shut down the laptop and went to bed. I thought that might be the end of it. He was crapped out by the time I went up the stairs. He probably forgot...right?

Not right.

"Mommy, why do you write all those big words I don't know in your stories?"

Uh... I write romance. There are big words.

"When I get bigger, can I write big words in my Godzilla books?"


Thankfully that got him off the subject, but every once in a while he peeks over my shoulder. Usually I'm blogging or doing the EDJ, but still. Writing romance has become a covert operation of sorts.

Does anyone else have war stories like this? Those times when you think you're good to go and something you never expected happens to throw it all off-kilter? Let me know!

And here's a little bit about me:

When she's not writing the stories in her head, Megan Slayer can be found luxuriating in her hot tub with her two vampire Cabana boys, Luke and Jeremy. She has the tendency to run a tad too far with her muse, so she has to hide in the head of her alter ego, but the boys don't seem to mind.

When she’s not obsessing over her whip collection, she can be found picking up her kidlet from school. She enjoys writing in all genres, but writing about men in love suits her fancy best.

Currently hanging out every Wednesday and Friday at the Menagerie Authors site, hunting Hotties for the Saturday posts, and working on the next great story brewing in her head!

The cabana boys are willing to serve, unless she needs them. She always need them. So be nice to Javier or he will bite--on command. She also masquerades under the name Wendi Zwaduk and is published through Changeling Press, Liquid Silver Books, and Total-E-Bound Publishing.

Megan’s site, Megan’s blog, Megan on Amazon, Megan on Goodreads, Megan on Facebook, Megan on Twitter

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sexy or Story

I recently got edits back on a story and they had a shocking note from my editor. Horrifying really.

My story wasn't sexy enough.

It's a complaint I never hear. Ever. Well, okay, I've heard it once now, but before this... never.

I understand why my editor feels it needs some heat infused. This story wanted to be a sweet. There were a few times I wasn't even sure it was a romance. I struggled with it for a very long time, and finally reached the level of a moderate to steamy mainstream romance. But the rest of the series is not mainstream, and this book needs to fit with those. So now I have to make a story that I already steamed up even steamier, and keep the story balanced.

The whole mess made me wonder where readers stood on the idea of sexy vs. story. Have you ever read a book where the sex felt like it just didn't fit? If you had to choose between a very sexy book that was light on story or a book with little to no sex and an action filled plot, which book would you pick up?

I like sexy books, but for me, story wins nine times out of ten.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A unicorn is just a horse with a horn...

Please form an orderly line. Stop pushing at the back!
(The second from the right is mine, in case you're wondering...)

So yeah, most people know I'm a horsey person. And if you didn't, well...then you know now. :)
I tend to spend my time with my 10 year old Paso Fino gelding. He's dapple gray and would make a great looking unicorn -- but I'm glad he isn't, because he doesn't watch where he puts that noggin of his. Adding a horn would only get me skewered every five seconds, which isn't my mission in life.

Most people think a unicorn is just a horse with a horn. Pretty, but nothing more than a horse.
However, there are characteristics which differentiate unicorns from horses -- and it's more than just the horn.

Of course, there is the horn. That's a given. But there is also...the beard. Yes, unicorns have a beard. A goatee, like...well, a goat.
They have a long, slender tail, with a tuft at the end. Very much not like a horse's tail.
And then...then there are the cloven hooves. Horses don't have those, either. Cows do. Goats do. Sheep do.
And unicorns do.
Color of those hooves is usually gold, as is the horn. Either that, or pure mother-of-pearl white.

So there you have the major differences between a unicorn and a horse.
Except, of course, unicorns don't exist.
...do they?
I've seen images of one-horned deer. :) Perhaps it was something like it, sparking off people's imagination.
You tell me... :) I just think they are gorgeous.

While my next book doesn't involve a unicorn...the one I'm working on right now does.
No idea if it will ever see the light of day, but hey...stranger things have happened!

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's Coming...

This Blackened Night, book three of The Order series, may not release until this September, but I think it's time for a treat, don't you? A countdown of fun is going on at my Facebook page. Now here's an exclusive excerpt:


After months of searching, Lori finally scrounges up a clue as to the whereabouts of the missing leader of her secret organization. But her vision isn't encouraging--it points to her vampire companion Terrence as the culprit.

Terrence is adamant that he isn't at fault. Even though she knows she might be walking into a trap, she follows his lead to a shabby island port. When her informants start turning up dead with puncture wounds in their necks, Lori wonders just how well she knows Terrence. And why does he act different during the search than in their hotel room?

Lori doesn't know who to trust anymore. She only hopes that she won't be the next victim.


Lori crouched beside Terrence's prone form. In sleep, he looked like the man she’d known over the past six months. Innocent. His black hair curled over his forehead. His mouth, slack with sleep, exposed just a hint of fang. His body was rolled in the horrid flowery blanket she’d willingly given up. One of the two pillows from the bed rested beneath his head. He’d lain like this since dawn. Lori didn’t know if she should wake him.

While she wanted to follow whatever lead he purportedly had, this might be her only chance. To kill him. What if he was only stringing her along? Leading her in circles like he had for the past six months. Her vision couldn’t be denied. Never had she had a false one. Terrence had to be responsible for the Spenta Michos’s kidnapping. So logic dictated she would have to kill him, eventually. She fingered the top of her stake, lodged in her boot. Should she do it now and take her chances finding the Spenta Michos?

She couldn’t decide.

Terrence’s eyes opened. He didn’t move, not even to smile. “Are you thinking about killing me, Lori?” His voice was low, gravelly. Masculine.

But Lori had to keep thinking of him as the Spenta Michos’s kidnapper, rather than a man. “If I’d thought about it, you’d be dead.”

* * *

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek! Learn more about the book at http://bit.ly/ThisBlackenedNight. Book one, Stalking Shade and book two, Out of the Shadows are currently available for purchase at major ebook retailers.

Happy Hunting,

L.K. Below

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Never a dull month! Contest and freebie with book deal!

Hallo, lads and lasses!

Well, for the third month in a row I've had a neat little thing planned, and it wound up getting pre-empted. Three times, in this case, with the final one putting this back from it's normal six AM slot to nine AM. Sorry about that!

By the way, for those of you who are only here looking for the contest or 'get freebie with book' deal mentioned, check the last two paragraphs of the post. But you might want to stick around, this month has been almost reality-TV exciting for me.

Anyhow, the first delay was not a bad one, but certainly ate up time. I was originally planning on taking a short vacation then spending the summer writing. When I was halfway to the car, my arms full of luggage, my wife ran out of the house with the phone saying 'it's someone from school!'. It turns out the folks they'd originally had tapped for the summer planning team couldn't make it, so they needed me to work for four weeks. Luckily, it wasn't until after the short trip was over, but it still was a bit of a derailment. On the funny side, once I got there, they redirected me to substitute for a summer school teacher for a while. So... I heard they like subbing, so I'm subbing while I sub for a sub.

Yeah, I spend way too much time on the internet. The second derailment was way scarier, but luckily turned out to be much bark, but no bite. Last Friday my father was rushed to the hospital with a one hundred three degree fever and a sixty over thirty blood pressure. As he put it later 'if you get to forty over whatever, they put you in a box'.

People wonder where I get my dark sense of humor from.

That was quite scary, but after forty eight hours in the ICU with antibiotics and anti-fungal agents being pumped into him, he was actually better than he has been in years. Apparently he'd been having a drug interaction for a while, and when he came in they stopped all his medications so they wouldn't interfere with treatment. Now he's off of all of them and he's feeling fine. I'm sure he'll have to go back on some of them at some point, but for now, he's golden. We even went to a baseball game last night. The Phillies lost, but we're both sanguine about that. As long as somebody hits the ball, we're cool with it.

The game wasn't the final delay. That turns out to be the never-to-be-cursed-enough computer virus that tagged my system last night when I was going to turn this post into reality. Instead of posting, I was running scan after scan, rooting out bad stuff after bad stuff, finally finding the last of it in the file I used to store this. Yeah, Murphy is a stone b****, and he has my phone number.

All thoughts of derailment and delay aside, I'm doing something I've intended for a while. I'm announcing a deal I've had in place, but haven't had a chance to advert much. Anyone who buys a copy of my full length novel What Not to Fear gets a free copy of the theme song to the book. Yes, What Not to Fear has a theme song, written by the ever wonderful Blue of Hello, the Future! All you need to do is shoot me an email letting me know you picked it up and I'll reply right back with the mp3!

Now, for the contest! I know some of you lovely lads and lasses are fans of my first book, Fae Eye for the Golem Guy. If you are, I'm sure you'll love the sequel to Fae Eye, What Not to Fear just as much. Tell me your favorite character from Fae Eye for the Golem Guy in the comments, and at the end of the month I'll put all the comments in a hat and send *two* of them free copies of What Not to Fear!

When not here at Parnormal Romantics, Robert can be found musing, ranting, and posting snippets of his new work at www.robertcroman.com. Come visit some time!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I'm writing this post today with my feet propped up on the couch as I'm supposed to be relaxing/resting, taking medicine and eating...blander than bland food. See, yesterday I spend most of the day in the emergency room. Something has been bothering my digestion since Friday and I was starting to dehydrate (despite the fact I've been drinking water like mad as it's the only thing that hasn't upset my stomach). I've dehydrated before due to illness and let me say, it's not fun. Hence the trip to the ER.

Despite a whole bunch of tests the doctor couldn't come to any diagnosis other than "gastric distress". Which pretty much is a nice way of saying I have a fancy stomach issue happening. I was prescribed some medicine to help with my symptoms and told to take a few days off to just rest. 

Resting for me isn't something I do easily, especially because I have a book I'm writing that I want to work on. But I know my own limits. The only way I'm going to be able to get better is to rest and relax. Which translates to no writing. The plan for the next few days is to make a dent in my to-be-read pile. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's Next?

I was visiting another blog that I read regularly and one of the regular posters stated that "it's okay to be behind schedule." A little bit. It got me to thinking about goals. As writers, we all have goals. Daily word count goals. Weekly word count goals. I'm going to submit my manuscript here and here goals. But, to accomplish my goals, I have to get organized, something I seriously have been lacking lately. And I'm really going to need to be now that summer is winding down and school will be starting soon.

The same blogger mentioned that she makes a production schedule for herself every year of what books she's going to write, when she's going to write them and when she's going to publish them (she's a self-published writer - a very successful one I might add). That set off a light bulb in my head. I should probably do that too.

The first thing I'm going to do is buy myself a shiny new tablet. Three actually. One tablet will be for keeping up with daily, weekly and monthly goals. The second tablet will be for writing down what I actually accomplished. The third will be for new ideas. I will carry these tablets with me...every single day. They will always be readily available for me to keep track of things and to remind myself what I'm supposed to be doing. 

Some of my other goals will be to blog regularly (3-4 times a week), interact on Facebook and Twitter daily and visit other blogs (2-3 times a week). As I writer, no matter how much I may want to, I can't exist in my on little bubble. I have to get out there and mingle...participate in social media.

Those are my plans. What about you? Whether you're a writer or reader, what do you do to keep yourself organized?

Website - http://www.lyricjamesbooks.net/
Twitter - @authorlyric
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLyricJames

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gremlins In My House ~ Deena Remiel

Now where did I put my glasses? I could have sworn I left them on my nightstand... How many of you have placed something somewhere in your house and when you went back to get it, it was STILL there? That hasn't happened in a while for my family. We are constantly losing our things here- keys, glasses, pens, papers, phones. Then, miraculously they turn up again in a completely different place than where we remember putting them. It drives us crazy!

We are currently living in a house that is also occupied by three childlike spirits, one of whom is a mischievous little bugger of a teenager. So not only have we rented a house, apparently we've also rented ourselves spirits for the remainder of our stay. 

They really are harmless spirits, though. Just playful. But they definitely have Youngest a bit freaked out. I believe she is very sensitive to the other realm. The last house we lived in, she NEVER had a good night sleep, always landing at the foot of my bed each night in fear. When we moved to our current home, I thought, maybe NOW she could rest easy. Well, I think the only thing keeping her from sleeping by my bedside is the fact that she has to come downstairs first. 

Maybe our next house will be better. More than likely there will be other spirits to annoy her. You know how we have sound blockers, like white noise machines or nature sound machines? I think she could use a spirit blocker machine so she can get a good night's rest! And maybe, if there were such a  machine, our things might stay where we put them for once...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

You're Invited to My Birthday Bash!

Every year I through myself a birthday party and give away presents! This year I turn 40.


This year I've invited my friends over to play a game with us.

Come join the fun.

Also this year I decided to giveaway surprise bags, which contain all kinds of goodies from paper books to ebooks, chococlates to gift ceritficates.

Friday, July 13, 2012

She Who Is Foremost In The Library - Ancient Egypt

Here we are on Friday the 13th! I have to confess I’ve never been concerned about the number thirteen or had any bad events happen to me on that date. Now the twelfth hasn’t been good to me, but that’s another story!

For this post, since my mind was on the topic of dates and numbers, I decided to see if the Ancient Egyptians had superstitions toward any particular number. In the Egyptian worldview, numbers were not only odd and even, but also male or female, and symbolized the energy of nature. The goddess Seshat, the Enumerator, was viewed as the personification of numbers and patroness of the many uses to which the Egyptians put their math. Her titles included Lady of Writings, Scribe, Head of the House of Divine Books and Lady of Builders. I think I could have used Seshat’s help when I was struggling with geometry in high school, since she rules over books and math!

But my all time favorite title for Seshat was “She Who Is Foremost in the Library.” As a writer or reader, you have to love that designation!

She was often depicted with a seven pointed emblem over her head, the meaning of which has sadly been lost but I think we could infer the number 7 was considered “lucky” or propitious even in 2000 BC. Seshat  is often shown holding a notched palm branch because she kept track of the time allotted to each pharaoh for his time on earth. The notches represented how many years he’d been given to accomplish his great deeds. She was also depicted holding other tools, as befitting her many tasks, including building and surveying.  Seshat is dressed in clothing made from either a cheetah or a leopard skin, or else her entire dress has a spotted pattern. Scholars believe the spotted pattern represented the stars. If you did everything right, both in life and in your passage through the underworld after death, Sheshat would  “open the door of heaven for you,” according to a famous coffin text.

A renowned papyrus about math dating back to 1650 BC proclaimed that inside were contained “Rules for enquiring into nature and for knowing all that exists, every mystery, every secret.”  The scroll is 15’ long and contains math problems of all types, including some rudimentary algebra and my particular bane – geometry. (Maybe if my geometry teacher had told me this was the answer to EVERY mystery and secret, I might have paid more attention LOL)

I enjoy the fact they used the eye of Horus symbol as the “1” on top of their fractions! Many of the math problems in the papyrus seem to involve calculating the strength of beer, how much bread you’d need to feed different numbers of men, and dividing grain among your fowl and oxen. Down to earth, usable stuff! There are also problems and solutions for designing pyramids. No surprise there.

The Egyptians felt the number 3 was important, for good or bad. The god Ra got three names; a doomed prince got three Fates (death by dog, monkey or crocodile – hmmm, perhaps a novel there); the Knot of Isis (which figures in my novella PRIESTESS OF THE NILE) has three loops….

5 came in for some appreciation but was not mentioned as often – the god Thoth added five days to the year by winning the light from the Moon in some kind of wager, for example.

But lucky Seven was associated with perfection, effectiveness and completeness. Isis was guarded by seven scorpions.  A rather famous famine lasted seven years and then the Nile flooded four times seven (28 cubits in all) to overcome the famine.  And of course the Goddess Seshat wears her mysterious seven pointed symbol.

What’s your lucky number?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Everyone's muse has different 'triggers.'  And because I love shiny objects my muse also has a wide range of creative toys – and I mean 'toys.'
I've known writers who light a candle when they sit down to write.  The fragrance instantly sparks the inner voices and their fingers fly across the keyboard.  I'm too visual for this to work for my muse. The same with music, currently, Katy Perry's Wide Awake is the 'theme' song for my WIP but listening to it doesn't start the voice to whispering and the muse to dancing.
Some of the 'toys' that have acted as inspiration:
He's the keeper of the forest secrets...
Journals ~ I use them to keep story notes. Yes even before my 'pre-planning' days, I'd write story notes as I went.  I'd divide it into three sections.
(a)    Character Notes – eye color, favorite food, etc.
(b)   Future Scenes – If a scene I was writing triggered a future one, I'd write it here
(c)    Research Notes
For it to act as inspiration, the journal had to be something that represented the story.  Like this guy…. I'm using him for my adult retelling of Goldie and The Three Bears

I almost always make a poster board of images that correspond with my current WIP.  The board isn't done until the story is.  When I'm in the beginning stage – just nursing the plot bunny – I start with pictures of what my characters look like and things that would represent the setting. Then as the story develops, I add things I find at the dollar store, thirty shops, etc.

What are some of the things that spur your muse into action?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Salut and happy Wednesday! 

I have a thing for wings—that’s my author tagline, actually. All the paranormal romance books I’m working on feature winged characters:  angels, phoenixes, or dragons. Half the books on my shelf are the same.

Using a winged character in a book opens a palette of possibilities. Though I’ve read dozens of books with winged characters, I don’t think I’ve read the same setup twice—even within the angel niche.

I’ve seen tiny wings that flutter. Medium wings. Large wings that trail along the ground. Wings that produce aphrodisiac dust and wings with bulletproof feathers. Okay—that last one was Legion, neither a book nor a romance. Sue me. *grin*

Some wings vanish when the character doesn’t want them seen, others are intangible light, others are bone, muscle, blood, and feathers.

Personally, I like “realistic” wings. I realize the R word is a stretch—this is paranormal romance, after all, and 
I believe it’s been proven no wing design could ever possibly allow a human to fly. We’re just too heavy. The muscles required to power the massive wings would make the person look like the blueberry girl in the old Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

That said, I like wings that convince the reader that the character could indeed fly. Give me a character with three-foot wings and I’ll give you my doubt.

In my attempt to create “realistic” wings in my Return to Sanctuary series, I envisioned a set of falcon wings, each one ten-feet long when fully extended. Wings that long, when folded, would brush the ground if the character stood about six and a half feet tall, depending on exactly how the character positioned them. I neglected the Blueberry Girl muscles, however.

I also took into consideration real issues for larger birds. Bald Eagles, for example, have trouble taking off from the ground, so my archangels do, also. Larger birds need adequate airspeed over and under their wings for lift. Some large birds, such as Canadian Geese, have adapted using wings of sizes and dimensions that fit their needs. I gave my archangels falcon-shaped wings for the purpose of speed and agility—a non-aerodynamic humanoid would need every advantage, right?

Wings come with disadvantages, as well, at least for characters who can’t make their wings vanish at will. It’s not all fun and flight. With wings that size, the character can’t sit in a normal chair, walk straight through a normal-sized doorway, or sleep on their backs comfortably. Damaged feathers could mean flight impediment—and they don’t grow back overnight, especially human-sized feathers. I considered the rate of feather growth in birds—which varies, of course—and estimated that an archangel’s flight feathers would take six months to regrow.

I’ll conclude the wing-geek lecture. *grin* How many of you out there love winged characters?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Do You Believe ...

In ghosts?

I do.

Maybe not to the extent that I would have to call in the above guys (which btw is one of my favourite movies of all times hands down).

As for ghost. Hell, yeah. I believe in them and I've had my own encounters. Thankfully, I have never been "slimed". I'll leave that to Venkman, Spengler and Stantz.

I love watching Ghost Hunters (TAPS) big time, but I've never done a ghost hunt like they have and I don't think I could.

Here's why, because I've had too many encounters and I don't think I would last one night in a supposedly haunted place, especially if I had the sense something was in there. I have a sixth sense. No I don't see dead people or anything, but I can sense things.

Sometimes I hear things, but mostly I know when something is there and watching.

There are a few places I won't visit, the main one is Carleton Gaol in Ottawa. Just looking at that place gives me bad vibes, but I managed to do a night tour of Alcatraz and nothing happened. In fact, the people there thought I was pretty gutsy to be by myself on the tour (granted there were others around, but I wasn't with anyone) at night.

Meh. I got no vibes from Alcatraz ... and TAPS didn't either. :)

Another place you'll never see me go near, Rose Hall in Montego Bay Jamaica. No thank you. Something's not right there either.

My brother is a correctional officer and on nights at one of Canada's oldest jails, he's seen some stuff. Stuff that scared him and not much does given his job. So you probably won't see me at his job location.

My closest encounter was right here in London, Ontario at Elgin House, but it wasn't by any means malevolent. I think it was just trying to get my attention. I was standing next to a closet, which was closed and behind a velvet rope. My aunt, who has the same sense as me, was with me. The door opened on its own and SLAMMED shut on its own.

I said, "Hello?"

My aunt looked at me as if to say. "Yeah, whoa!"

And then we moved on. The prickly sensation of being watched disappeared.

So my question for you is, do you believe in ghosts? If so, have you had any experiences or would you go on a ghost hunt?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rejuvenation for This Writer's Soul

It's July, and I can say that honestly, it's not that hot here compared to last year. At this time last year, we had been in the hundreds for weeks. It was so hot that the pavement burned my feet even after the sun went down at night. We've been swimming, writing, job hunting, and getting ready for RWA Nationals in Anaheim this year.

RWA Nationals

I love this event, in large part because I get to see friends that I only see once a year at Nationals. Nearly all in attendance are authors—they speak my language as it were—and they don’t' look at me like I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs when I gripe about stubborn characters or worse, loud ones. They get me. I get them.

We're going to be right next door to Disneyland and Disneyphile that I am, I want to try and escape into the parks at least one of the days of my visit. I also have a lot of good friends on the West Coast, dear friends that I rarely get to see, so hooking up with them will be a plus. Definitely one of the most magical places to reconnect not only with old friends, but also myself.

Painted Desert

One of the best parts of Nationals this year will be driving through the desert in New Mexico and Arizona. I love to stop at night, in the middle of nowhere and actually see the Milky Way. After years of city living, it's heartening to look up and see the galaxy we're a part of. So often, as a writer, I get caught up in the worlds that I create and inhabit in the bits and bytes of my computer screen. I forget to look at the world around me and truly appreciate it.

A drive through the desert is one way to remind me of this greater world, this universe we're all a part of.

Sunset on the Pacific

Anaheim is also not that far from the Pacific Ocean—definitely not as far as it is from where I live. I plan to escape the hotel and venture down to the beach. I want to sit there, somewhere along the shore, with the wind brushing my cheeks, the smell of the salt air and the sun setting into the water.

Pure magic.

Rejuvenating the Writer's Soul

Last year at RWA Nationals in New York, I made a commitment to myself and this year, I get to celebrate the one year anniversary of that commitment, celebrate the accomplishments I've made and celebrate the world that I live in. As an author, I get to live a thousand lives, but as me, I only get this one. I can't wait to enjoy every moment of it.

What are your plans this July?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

More about worldbuilding -- SFR

I happened to be thinking about worldbuilding quite a bit this week, so this fits nicely with Stacey's blog from yesterday. Adding to her great post, I'd like to talk specifically about creating a world for a Science Fiction Romance and underline her theme of making the world believable.

When creating a Science Fiction world for Romance readers, there's a balance that is struck between the two genres. Some authors use more details, paint their worlds with either lush descriptions or with believable tech/bio that is scientifically based. Or perhaps the author uses a mix of the two. It goes without saying that there will be a romance, there will be characters who grow, there will be a plot and there will be tension and conflict. But what varies widely within this subgenre is the amount of reliance on science (or even social discourse--some SF is solely based on social commentary).

Take for instance, a near future SFR. The science involved could be light. The world might be much like what we have today. The worldbuilding could involve slight changes, or an alternate history. Maybe the biggest difference is that the Allies lost WWII and Hitler shaped the world as we know it. Whatever the case may be, some stories are themselves not based on a technology or high tech.

Whichever way it goes, a story of any genre should still paint the story in a complete way. If a technology is used, the reader doesn't need to know how it works. All the reader needs to know is that Doo-hickey-Number-Five does work. If the science of doo-hickey is important to the plot, then by all means, the reader should be introduced to that science. If the plot only needs to use the tool, then all we need to know is that if you put gas in a car, it runs. The mechanic can figure everything else out for us if it goes wrong.

What is a mistake is for us to skip an entire section of a story to gloss over how a doo-hickey might work. This can create an incomplete story, not just flawed worldbuilding. For instance-- Scene One: The colonists must evacuate their planet, or everyone dies. Oh, and in ancient history, someone might have mentioned a way to leave the planet. Cut scene. Scene Two: Five years later, the colonists are on a new planet but we have no idea how they got there.

Now, we don't need to know exactly how the science might work for the colonists to end up on another planet. There are all sorts of interesting things that could happen-- There's this dimensional machine that's been in the basement of the military base. There's this funky experimental spaceship. A special device creates a wormhole. None of these need the science explained, but even if a story avoids going into the details of tech, a plausible explanation still needs to happen in the story itself. Same as it would happen in real life. Say there's a thriller where the hero is in jail for a crime he didn't commit and he needs to get out to save the heroine. The next scene can't jump to his being out of prison and saving her--no mention of how he got out of prison. We need to see how he managed that feat, even if we don't know the details of a legal brief that got him released, etc.

Bottom line, taking shortcuts in worldbuilding can be harmful to the story itself. The details might not be important, but the large barebones need to be there if that science is important to the plot.

So, don't forget to gas up the car!

Ella Drake is a dark paranormal and science fiction romance author. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads.

Her latest releases are Desire the Banshee an erotic paranormal romance from Ellora's Cave & Desert Blade, a near-future post-apocalyptic romance from Carina Press. Coming soon, MetalMark (Lyrical Press). Other work includes The Forbidden ChamberSilver Bound, Jaq’s Harp, Braided Silk & Firestorm on E’Terra.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Making the unbelievable—believable!

World-building is tough, especially if the idea for your story is so far out there!  So, how do you take an idea that no one would believe and make it believable? Prove it!!


It doesn’t matter if you have vampires, trolls, or even gremlins…you need to make the world real. The characters have to interact with their world to give the reader the sense that this new world you’ve created actually exists. Give lush descriptions. Create laws. Get creative!
If the story is set on another planet, describe little details that show what it’d be like to live there. What’s the air like? What does the ground look like? What do things smell like there? It’s important to create the setting in a way that allows the reader to feel like they’re a part of it.
If your vampires can go out into the sun, you can’t just throw that out there and not comment on why. If what you have created is different than the norm, you have to prove that point so there is no question as to how and why it works. If not, the reader will be instantly left with the feeling that it’s not believable. 


This is probably the most important. Emotions are a huge part of writing that allows a reader to connect with a character. For an example, if a character can converse with the dead, it’s important to show right out of the gate how she deals with this. Since it’s unusual, the character would have a strong reaction to the gift they have. Do they like it? Hate it? How do others look upon it? Or do they not know? Is it a secret and needs to be hidden? If so, how is this secret kept, and how does the character feel about the burden of such a secret? This is the foundation for creating a character that’s relatable.
Then, allow your characters to be emotionally involved in their world. If your character can see ghosts, and she dislikes the ability, allow her to show her frustration. Don’t make a character just go with the flow and accept everything that happens with a smile. If it’s an unusual situation, any normal person would have a huge emotional response—anger, sadness, or even irritation. The thing is, when characters are too strong or too easy going, it will take the realness away from them because everyone has emotions. The stronger the emotion, the better!
If your hero is a shifter in a world where shifters shouldn’t be, it’s important to keep him as real as you can. The trick is writing him in a way that makes the reader forget what he is, and instead focuses on who he is. And that only comes from writing a real hero that any woman couldn’t refuse, no matter if he is a ghost, vampire, or scaly beast! If he exists in a world that doesn’t accept him, he needs to feel something from that. Either anger at the world, or self-assurance that he doesn’t care. But having him interact with the world in an emotional way allows a reader to truly understand him.


If you’ve created a world that has laws—ie, kill a mortal and you shall die! It’s important not to just tell these laws and how the world works, but show them. Have one of your characters break a rule and show what happens. Or introduce a new character that hates the rules and fights against them. It’ll add awesome tension, all the while showing how your world works.
If a mortal gets killed, and someone must die, what are all the steps that have to happen? This is when you can create some terrific world-building aspects. Who hunts the killer? What happens once he is caught? Does he have to go through a trial? Is he killed on the spot? It’s all these little details that make a world strong. And this can play into the emotional element—how does your character react to these rules? Does he/she struggle with taking a life? Believe in it? These details are what make a world work just like our own, so the more small details, the more believable and richer the story will be.


I admit that this one can get very tricky! How do you have a love scene between a woman and a vampire, if a vampire is an abomination? It’s not easy! But the most important thing to remember is all the above. If you make your characters real, experience emotions that help them come to the conclusion that this is normal, then your readers will feel it too.
If you have woman go from not thinking sexy things about at vampire to then jumping into bed with him, your readers won’t believe it. But if you build tension, show her fighting the attraction, and coming around to the idea, then it’ll work. Allow your readers the chance to accept that the character has put thought behind her decisions and show why she’s agreed.
The key to making the unbelievable—believable is you have to show the reader why they should accept it. You can’t leave anything up in the air. Present it all right out in front with descriptions, interactions with the characters and their world, and always big emotional responses—all of this only strengthens your world-building.


Stacey Kennedy’s novels are lighthearted fantasy with heart-squeezing, thigh-clenching romance, and they even give you a good chuckle every now and again. But within the stories you’ll also find fast-paced action, life-threatening moments and a big bad villain who needs to be destroyed. Her urban fantasy/paranormal and erotic romance series have hit Amazon Kindle and All Romance eBooks bestseller lists.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Things I’ve learned on my writing journey.

1. The first offer isn’t always the best. Research before you submit and know what you are signing when you receive that contract. Agents are not a bad idea, if you can get one. www.agentquery.com is a great place to get started. If not, there are books out there that cover contracts and the meanings of the clauses in them. I have The Writer’s Legal Guide, an Authors Guild Desk Reference by  Tad Crawford & Kay Murray, which I refer to often.

2. The money flows toward the author. If a publisher or agent is asking you to pay for publication, or to read your manuscript, run, don’t walk away. Wash and repeat, “The money flows toward the author.” Visit:  http://pred-ed.com
3. Your work is copyrighted from creation, but to fully protect your rights, file with the U. S Copyright Office. The $35.00 is worth the peace of mind. (even if pirates will try to ignore it) www.copyright.gov
4. Pirates are scum-suckers you can’t ignore. If you see your story up on a pirating site, send them a takedown notice. Yes it’s annoying and it seems never-ending, but if you ignore it, it will get worse. Join a group that fights piracy. Educate your friends and family about it. You’d be surprised at how many think the innocent sharing of a song, movie or book doesn’t hurt anyone, but while a paperback passes from hand to hand, an e-book could pass from one person’s hands to thousands, who in turn can copy and send to someone else. Many teenagers don’t realize the implications of sharing one file, and it runs rampant among them. Educate them. It’s a snowball effect. This includes downloading music, movies, computer software, anything that can be pirated. Lead by example, and if you really want to share a story, music, or a movie with a family member or friend, buy them a copy. Watch those blog posts too. Often authors use photos that are copyright protected and are not aware. If it isn’t in the public domain, or you didn’t purchase the right to use it, tread carefully or you could be infringing on someone’s intellectual rights. If someone offers to share intellectual media with you, tell them you’ll buy your own copy. It’s the right thing to do. And one last thing... Keep up to date on what is going on with laws being put into effect to combat piracy. Not all are good for the owner’s of intellectual rights. In short—Know thy enemy and the laws that govern what they can and can not do!
5. Read. If you want to be a published author, or you are and want to move your career forward, read. Know your genre. Know what is selling and why. Know what makes a book a good read and what makes a book a not so good read. Go ahead, read those reviews, but form your own opinion. The more popular a book, the more trolls it will draw and frankly, not everyone has the same taste. What one person raves about, another may despise.
6. Ignore the trolls. The comments they make on blogs and forums are there to draw you out, and if you give into the urge to comment, it will backfire on you and you better brace yourself for a lamb-basting. You don’t want to be labeled as “An Author Behaving Badly.”
7. Fifty percent of being a successful author is about promotion. Your publisher will not do it for you, not unless you’re a NY Times Bestseller and even then, it has to be in the budget. Don’t like blogging, talking, networking? You better get used to it. It’s a necessary evil. Get a website and make it reader friendly. Easy to navigate. Easy to buy your books, and easy to see what you are working on now. Most of all, keep it up to date and post something new weekly. Changes will bring your visitors back to see what’s new. Neglected blogs fall by the wayside. If you have a cover on your site, please link it to where they can buy it. Think one click sales. Impulse buying is your friend. Use it to your advantage. When you blog or network, don’t make it all about promoting your most recent book. Don’t spam your readers. Talk about your latest project, tips on writing, share amusing stories. Build a relationship with your readers and they will buy your books. Constantly spam them, and they will run.
8. Be accessible. Nothing is worse than reading a book you love and wanting to drop the author an email and tell them how much you adored it, only to find there is no way to reach out to them. What does this mean? Have a contact form on your web page, or an email used exclusively for readers to contact you. Put your website address and links at the bottom of all your emails. A lot of traffic to your blogs and website come from these.  If a publisher or agent has read something of yours and they just have to talk to you, and they meet with a dead end, they will stop there. Every now and then they do come looking. It happened to me. Don’t do yourself a disservice. Be accessible.
9. Be professional. Whenever you post, think about what you’re saying before you hit send, or publish it to your blog. Readers may not remember the nice things you said, but they never will forget the nasty things. Tact at all times. And for God’s sake, ignore the trolls.
10. Critique groups and beta readers are not an option, they are a necessity. You will need them to help polish your manuscript before you submit it anywhere. Many a new writer gets a rude awakening when they discover an editor isn’t there to polish their rough draft. They are there to make a well-written, already polished story, great. Critters will see things you don’t, and offer suggestions that may open up avenues you didn’t think about. They help catch typos and grammar errors, and keep you looking like the professional you are. And when they do you a favor, be kind and return it.
11. When you receive good advice, share it. You were not always a published author, and sometimes you had to learn things the hard way, and at one time someone may have given you good advice that made all the difference in your career. Go ahead, help another writer out. What goes around, comes around, and we are all in this together.
12. Publishing credits aren’t necessary to get an agent, but most won’t look at your story if you don’t have them. To get the big contracts you have to have an agent. To get an agent you have to have publishing credits and a well-honed knowledge of how to write a damn good story. Go out and write some shorts and get them published, build your credits, learn your craft, and then go back, wiser, published and seasoned. It will make a difference in the way you are received.
13. It’s not in print. So what. Stop stressing over it, already. Just because you can’t sign a physical copy doesn’t mean you can’t sign a t-shirt with the cover of your book on it (which also makes a great walking billboard), trading cards, a postcard, or Kindlegraph. All you need is a sharpie and your imagination. You’re still a published author. So, wear that badge with pride and stop fretting about if it will be in print, or not. E-publishing is the future. Those that adapt, will survive. Be a survivor and don’t let that your novel is an e-book, discourage you. You’re e-published and have the biggest audience out there, don’t restrict your promotion to four walls and a ceiling. Brick and mortar is nice, but the average author sells 4-5 books at a signing—if they are lucky. Readers who shop for e-books buy an average of three books at a time and you are not even sitting in front of them. Direct them to your site and one-click buy links and nifty promotional flash they will love and can collect.
14. Your voice is your own. Unique or subtle, it’s your voice. Don’t try to write with a voice that doesn’t belong to you. Have faith you will tell the story you need to tell, and do it the way you were meant to. Embrace who you are and what you love to write, and the rest will fall into place.

15. Finish one story before you start another. (This is a lesson I’m still working on.) It’s easy to get distracted by the voices in your head and the dynamic ideas that come to you while you dream, or during a boring business meeting. Write the idea down, save it to an idea file and then get your ass back on task, because your breakout novel will never get written if you keep flitting from partially finished novel to partially finished novel.
16. Romance isn’t any easier to write than any other genre. It is a common misconception that some genres are easier to write than others. This is not true. It is however true, if you write what you’re comfortable with and love and read that genre, it comes easier. Don’t try to force a horror story out of your muse if she is an erotic romance girl. It won’t work, and you’ll get frustrated.

17. Congratulations, you’re a published author and fair game. Thicken your hide. If you can’t take critiques on your manuscript before you get a contract, you won’t be able to take the flaying your editor gives you when he or she gets a hold of it. I had a manuscript I thought I’d scrubbed clean, that bled red ink by the time my editor went through the first pass. And that’s just the beginning. Once you publish, your work is out there for review and not everyone is going to love it and they are going to share what they didn’t like with the world, whether you want them to or not. A great way to blow off steam is to get a rant buddy you privately let it all out to. Keep it between you and let it go.
18. Raise the stakes. Make the situation as unpleasant for your characters as you can. They can’t grow if they don’t start at dirt level. Always ask yourself, what will happen if my hero or heroine don’t succeed, and then make the consequences worse. High stakes=high tension, and a book your readers won’t be able to put down.
19. Be kind to your agent and editors. They work hard. Don’t email or call them constantly for updates, your book isn’t the only one on their desk. Take the time to thank them for all they do. We all need to hear that once in a while, and editors don’t get nearly enough credit and praise for what they do.

20. Write because you love it. Publish because you want to share that love.
Have a great weekend,


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fallen Kitty

R.I.P. Patches

She was loved so very much!
...and I'll always miss her.

Looking at old pics reminded me of just how much Patches meant to me. She was just a tiny thing--7 pounds of pure calico visciousness! I stole Patches from her mother when she was close to a year old, she bit me then and retained much of her feral streak till the end. Yet, somehow, she was the one of all my furfriends that, when she deigned to be home, always sat with me when I worked. If I moved from the chair, she captured the spot and sometimes refused to budge when I returned!

One of the first stories I wrote, the only ever done in first person was inspired by her beautiful multicolored hair. I remember finishing it, doing the cover (which I was very proud of considering my limited ability!) and putting it on Scribd. Guess you could say it was my first foray into self-publishing and in just a few days it had a flame meaning people actually read something I published!

Anyway, today I thought I'd post the short story from 2008 here in honor of Patches and I hope you enjoy it, errors and all, because it was never professionally edited!

“Here kitty, kitty. Here Kitty.”

I listened to his melodic voice from my perch high atop the old stone masonry pillars. I sat here and, night after night, I watched the world sweep by. I now anticipated seeing him, hearing him. My heart broke a little each night that he walked right beneath my seat. Never looking up, he called to his elusive kitty. Never seeing me.

Tonight my ears were struck painfully by the sad timber of his voice calling and calling in the darkness. Where was his kitty?

It seemed darker than usual tonight. The heavy clouds marched silently across the sky hiding the full moon. There wasn’t a star in sight. Hot and sticky, I fidgeted around on my seat. The rain clouds threatened to burst at any moment, and I wanted them to hurry. It would be one of those storms that would be violent and brief, leaving the moonlit sky clear, with the stars bright and twinkling. What if it's too dark for him to see. I hoped tonight he would find his kitty.

“Where are you Kitty? It’s time to come home.”

It was a cloudy night but I knew his hair was ebony with silver lacing through it. I knew it brushed below his shoulder blades. On nights past, I watched the moonlight dance on the unruly waves that wound just past his shirt collar. And I knew his eyes were as gunmetal gray as the thunder clouds that paced agitatedly overhead. He came this way often the last six nights, his voice preceding him in the dark. Tall, with an athletic build, his muscular legs would eat up the sidewalk as he strode in my direction. I watched him pass me by every time.

The dried smudges of paint left from his afternoon's work laced his fingers and streaked his tee shirt. It smeared across his broad chest in a riot of colors—cornflower blue, burnt orange, sunflower yellow and brilliant red. The pattern from wiping his hands left an abstract vision of a wildflower garden dancing above the hard plains of muscle that made up his stomach. On him the paint wasn’t out of place. He was an artist who during the day sometimes carried his easel past me to the park. His large hands were strong and sure. His kitty probably loved being stroked by those hands. Did he leave colors streaked through kitty’s fur?

“Here Kitty…”

I heard his voice fade and knew he turned into the alley that ran beside the old mansion behind me. The wrought iron fencing completely surrounded the property, which had long ago been abandoned. Rumored to be haunted, I never saw the ghost people whispered about and I had a lofty, high up seat from which I could view the grounds.

Just cats, lots of cats.

My family left long ago, leaving me the only resident of the mansion. My sister used to sit and watch with me but she left last year. My home was in need of a good deal of masonry work and paint, but it was still a beautiful, proud place. Magnolia trees lined the perimeter, along the fence. When the gates opened, ornamental pear trees that bloomed with a cascade of tiny white flowers every spring lined the road leading to the front of the house. Of course my garden appeared a little overgrown, but still beautiful in a wild way. The way I liked it. The cats like it too. They're safe here.

I heard him calling and I knew he stopped occasionally to peer inside of the fence. Looking for his kitty. If it was a clear night I'd be able to see him.

A fat drop of water splashed my forehead and dripped down my face like a teardrop. Another and another. Here comes the rain.

Lightning streaked the sky far away, followed by a rumble of thunder. It was coming hard and fast. I knew he would be drenched when he came back this way. And I silently waited. I watched the sky lighting up like the fireworks from the carnival that left town only last week. Summer is coming to an end. But the sultry hot days still beat down on me. I loved the evening hours. They provided some respite from the heat.

The lightning grew closer now, thunder booming distantly across the hills. Soon the storm would be right over head. The lightning would glance off of the iron fencing and send shivers up my spine. But I would stay. The rain washed over me making me feel clean and fresh. I waited for him to return. Maybe he'd see me this time. I preened, I fluffed my now soaking wet hair. And waited.

“Kitty, if you’re here come out? There’s a storm coming.”

His footfalls moved my way. He would turn the corner and come towards me anytime now. The next bolt of lightning flashed dangerously close to where I sat. My chest bloomed with the electricity of excitement. My turn to leave home. I'm the last one.

My breathing got harder, my heart raced and the blood pounded through my body with a sound that matched the thunder in the heavens. Surely he'd hear my heart beat when he came by this time? He would see me.

The sky lit up in a ferocious display of blue light as the clouds released more rain in a torrential downpour. Thunder and lightning warred for supremacy of the sky as I waited.

“Kitty, please come out now?”

He's almost here. The rain beat down so hard I couldn't make out his form. But I heard his boots hit the sidewalk as he headed my way.

Suddenly a bolt of blue light struck at my feet blistering hot in its rage and I jumped down, landing lightly on the cracked, decaying sidewalk in front of the mansion’s gates.

My rain drenched, multihued hair fell forward in a powdery spray around my face. I stood quickly and pushed it back, my green and brown eyes searching the darkness for him. Where was he? I no longer heard his footsteps. I couldn’t see him through the sheets of rain falling. What was wrong with my hearing? It seemed dull and muffled. I sniffed at the air and found my sense of smell also distorted. What happened? Did the bolt of lightning damaged me in some way?

“Are you okay Miss? Can I help you?”

Eye level with his chest, I looked up into his gray eyes. Desire blazed back at me. How did he get this close without me knowing? I started to shake violently, sick with fear. What’s happened to me?

“Miss, you’re drenched,” he said as he took his shirt off and pulled it over my head. “What happened to your clothes? Did you come from the mansion?”

He peered around me to the still locked gates of my home. I needed to get back inside. Fast. I just dumbly stared at his now naked chest which dripped with rivulets of water that ran from his own wet hair.

The rain stopped altogether, as though a stopper had been placed in the quickly disappearing clouds. The stars blinked in the now clear sky and the full moon glared bright.

“Miss?” He waited for my answer.

“I need to go back.” My reply so quiet, I didn’t hear myself speak.

“Back where?”

I pointed up to my seat, my high up perch by the gates.

“This is a bad storm. I’m sure the damage can be repaired. How do you get inside? I’ll help you.”

“I’ve never been out before, I don’t know.” Tears began to slide down my face so rapidly I thought it rained again. How could this be repaired?

“Come on, let’s try the lock.”

He pulled me along behind him to the gates. Where's the key? How would I get back in?

He tugged at the rusted lock on the gate and it dropped open with a clank. He put his hand on the small of my back and ushered me through the opening. He turned to close the gate back, leaving the lock hang loosely through the hook. I saw his eyes dart to the pillar. My blood ran hot with an unknown feeling.

“Come on, we’ll get you out of that wet shirt. Running naked in the rain can have its disadvantages. And it’s not making things easy for me right now.”

I saw him smile at me, his need bare in his eyes. How did I look to him?

“I would love to paint you. Especially your hair. You’re a vision. Maybe I’m dreaming this because I thought I saw... Well, never mind. I’m just imagining things in the storm and all.”

He continued to look me over, talking all the way up the lane to the front of the mansion. He seemed really nervous about something. He said his cat disappeared last week. He believed it was on the mansion grounds and he had tried to find a way in for days. He said he never thought to check the lock on the gate. He hoped I wouldn’t mind if he looked for his cat while here.

I couldn’t think right now. I wondered how to get back into my home. There must be a key somewhere. When we reached the top step, he turned the knob and the door creaked open.

“Good thing you didn’t lock yourself out.”

He still smiled at me with lips I wanted to taste. What's happening to me? The lines around his eyes were crinkled with humor at my being caught naked in the rain.

“Will you be okay? I’m going to look for Kitty. If you like, I’ll stop back to make sure you’re alright.”

I nodded. He left me at the door and went in search of his cat. The grounds were sprawling and overgrown. And so many cats. He would be a long time returning.

I walked into the pitch black hallway, but I could see. I moved slowly into the room on the left. My bare feet slapped softly on the wooden floor. There were lots of things covered with large white cloths. What would I do now?

I saw a shiny flat surface against one of the walls and walked over to it. My breath caught in my throat at the sight there. I wore only his shirt and it dropped down to the middle of my thighs. Strong, shapely legs. I lifted the shirt and was struck by how perfect and proud my breast looked with nipples that stood out darkly against my walnut brown skin. My sister said I would have a brown and a green eye, so they didn’t shock me.

I knew the color of my hair. It was long with ringlets reaching my waist. The lighter, almost white streaks, blended well with the soft reds and browns. I had a hard, flat stomach. I resembled the women that passed my way often during the daylight hours going to the nearby park. In fact, I looked better. Curvy, not stick straight like so many of them were. Now I knew why he looked at me with desire. Heat curled through my body as I thought about him. Wetness developed between my legs.

Maybe I could find some clue about my sister, Tabitha. She's the only one who could help me now.

I heard his boots coming up the front steps and my heart began to beat rapidly. What should I do now?

“Hey, you didn’t turn on any lights.”

He flicked at the switch but nothing happened. He walked over to the uncovered table where I stood, totally naked again.

“Hey, here’s a candle and some matches.”

He struck the match and fire sprang to life. I jumped back in fear.

“You must be in shock from your fall from the fence. Come over here.”

He walked me to one of the seats in the room and pulled the white cloth off. He wrapped it around me and sat me down. It was much softer than where I usually sat.

“What’s your name?”

Cali.” I whispered.

“Where’s your family?”

“My sister and I are the only ones left. I don’t know where she is. She left last year.” I didn’t add in a storm just like the one tonight.

“Well, let’s see if we can find you some clothes. Can’t have you running around naked. You’re just a little too enticing for that.”

I saw his eyes light again with desire for me. His breathing changed too. Could he smell my desire?

“Did you… find your cat? There are so many here.”

“No, but she’ll come back. She always does.” He smiled again.

“Look, I don’t live far. We could go to my place and get you into some warm clothes. We won’t be able to see anything here in the dark.

“NO! I’ll be fine.” My voice sounded loud with panic.

“Okay, okay. I didn’t mean to upset you, Cali.” He turned to leave, but looked back. “You shouldn’t be alone. I’ll stop back tomorrow and see how you’re doing… if that’s okay.”

His look told me he wanted to stay and I wanted him to but I just nodded. He left the room and I heard the front door close quietly behind him. I forgot to ask his name. Tired and frightened, I curled up in the chair to take a nap.


I woke up to the sound of the front door closing softly. I knew it was him. The sun shined dimly through the dirt streaked windowpanes of the room. How long had I slept? Was it morning or noon? I couldn’t see the position of the sun from here.

He entered the room with a bag in his arms.

“Hope you don’t mind. I knocked but you didn’t hear me. I wanted to make sure you were alright. I brought some milk and donuts. Are you hungry?”

I nodded. Still frightened, I wasn’t sure what to say or do.

“Hey, don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Probably just the bump on your head. I'll take a look at the damage out front later, but there’s something missing.”

He seemed nervous again and he wouldn’t look me in the eyes. He put the bag down on the table and pulled out two cups and filled them both with milk.

He handed one in my direction and I practically took his hand off reaching for it. Milk. Smelled so good.

“You must be really thirsty.”

I nodded.

Suddenly the front door flew open and Tabby rushed into the room.

Cali, I knew it. I felt it last night. You’ve found him.”

I saw the surprise in his eyes at my sister's appearance.

Cali fell off the fence last night and she bumped her head pretty bad,” he said. “We haven’t had time for introductions yet. My name’s Reece.”

At a sound behind Tabitha, I noticed the handsome blond whom I hadn’t seen enter the room. I remembered him from the storm last year. When Tabby left.

“Hi, I’m Jake, Tabby’s husband.” Jake looked a little flustered as he spoke. “Reece, there’s something Tabitha and I need to tell you. It has to do with all the cats on the property…”

“Yeah, I know. My cat’s out there somewhere. Kitty disappears in here every now and then. She’s a beautiful little calico.” Reece kept stealing looks in my direction. He looked at my hair.

“Well, you see… umm, I lost my cat here last year…” Jake looked at Tabby as he talked to Reece. “Did you notice anything weird in the storm last night?”

“There's some damage done to one of the pillars at the front gate. I wanted to repair it this morning but I can’t find a piece. I’ve seen it every time I come by, but after Cali fell last night, I noticed it missing.”

“This is going to come as a surprise Reece…”

Reece turned to look at me. He examined me as though I was under a microscope. His eyes again took in the color of my hair, my eyes.

“I thought I imagined it? This is real isn’t it?”

Reece stared at me as he talked in a whisper. I could see he knew the truth now.

“I came up the sidewalk when the lightning struck the pillar and I… I… thought about it all night. I couldn’t believe what I saw. But that’s why I can’t find it.”

My sister and Jake stayed quiet, letting him come to the answer in his own way.

“It wasn’t my imagination. All night I kept going over what I saw in my mind. I've felt drawn to this place for weeks now, so has my cat. I looked at that statue every night. I’ve wanted to touch it. I even wanted to take it home with me and paint the colors back.” Reece continued to look at me.

Cali, you’re the reason why. You’re the statue of… the cat.”

Tabby and Jake smiled.

“I didn’t know that you ever saw me sitting there,” I said.

“I noticed you every time. And it was you I looked at each time, Cali, not the cat. And I’ve always wanted you. Your hair is just as I always imagined it—so many colors. It’s as though you were made just for me.”

“I’ll help you find Kitty so you can take her home.” Being alive felt so good. And since I was the last, the mansion belonged to me now. But would Reece want to stay here?

I watched silently as he walked towards me. He pulled me from the chair and wrapped me tightly in his arms. He ran his fingers through my colorful curls and tugged them gently.

We would have the rest of our lives to get to know each other.

Reece whispered in my ear. “Kitty’s already home.”

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-J. Hali Steele