For one of the first times in my writing career, I've been at loose ends as to which project to work on. I have only one commitment and it's for a short, not due for several months. I have nothing due to my agent or any of my editors, although most of my editors would like SOMETHING. The last year has been a pretty slow one for me.
So I'm posting a couple snippets of my current works-in-progress, just to get a feel for if one of them leaps out and screams to be the focus for a while. So let me know--what do you think? I'll give one random commenter a download of the new version of Nailed as a thank you for the input.
A new Gaslight Chronicles book: this is literally all I have written: The new single-person airship prototype was working like a dream. Melody MacKay held onto the tiller with one hand while she looked out over the Devonshire coastline through her smoke-tinted goggles.
This one is for a project on tap for Decadent Publishing, an installment of their “Calendar Men” series:
All Sig could do was grunt. Her touch set off sparks in his gut—sparks that had pretty much been dormant since he’d gotten out of the VA hospital last winter. Damn near everything about Elsie appealed to him—her strawberry blonde hair, her freckles, the way her rounded ass swayed as she walked. She reminded him of Becky Thatcher, all grown up and hot as hell. He found himself making excuses to come shopping for his aquarium at least twice a week, sometimes more if he was really lonely.
Once she pulled her hand away, he tipped his chin. “Have dinner with me tomorrow night?” She didn’t open the store on Sundays, so he knew she wouldn’t have to work.
Elsie shook her head, but shot him a lopsided grin. “No, but thank you for asking. Again.”
Sig shrugged. He asked her every time he came in. And every single time she shot him down. “Ah well. Can’t blame a guy for trying.” It made sense, of course. He knew he was still mostly a wreck. He didn’t have a job, his military career was over, and all he did with his days was work on his house, take care of his fish tank, and put in whatever hours his brother-in-law could throw him at the garage. Still, she smiled when he asked and he liked to make her smile. So it was worth getting rejected twice a week. Hell, it was the closest thing to a social life he had these days. Might as well enjoy it.
She snorted out a little laugh. It might have sounded coarse on a less impish-looking woman, but on her it seemed cute. “I adore you for asking. But the answer is still the same. No.” She waved him toward the door. “I told you I have no interest in dating. Anyone. Come back Tuesday. I’ll have those new clown fish I wanted to show you.”
“Now, that’s a date.”
This is one I’ve started called Accidental Slayer. It’s a zombie-hunter romance, or maybe not. It may be the first book I’ve ever written without an HEA. It could go either way. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Of course my body was still a lot more tired than my brain wanted to acknowledge. At some point, I must have nodded off, because there I was, back in my dream, this time sitting cross-legged on a tatami mat talking to Mr. Nelson. “Why am I here?” I asked the man who had been the one stable influence in my young life.
He smiled his usual enigmatic smile. He looked sort of like a part-Comanche Chuck Norris, with dark eyes that could stare into your soul and his brown hair shot with white. In my dream, he was old, but not as emaciated as he’d been the last time I saw him. “I don’t know. Maybe you need someone to talk to. Or perhaps you simply have to face your own past so you can move forward.”
“Wax on, wax off,” I muttered. Same old Mr. Nelson. He’d always been big on that navel-gazing shit.
Then he smiled. “Or maybe you’re just dreaming and it doesn’t have any significance at all. Maybe you just missed me.”
“Yeah, that could be it.” Of course I missed him. He was the closest thing to a parental figure I’d ever had. He’d caught me shoplifting an apple one day, taken me home, fed me, and given me a job sweeping out his dojo for meals and free classes. He’d probably kept me out of jail if not saved my life. Now I smiled at the dream version of him, relieved it was that simple. What the heck, since this was a dream, I could enjoy visiting with a memory. I studied his face, glad it was still there in my mind, and not fading with time.
But he didn’t let me off that easily. “Or maybe, your subconscious is warning you that something big is coming your way.”
“I’m not psychic.” I’d repeated that to him so many times over the years that the response was automatic.
“Not in a big way,” he agreed. “But you do have a certain…connection to the universe. I recognized that the first time I saw you. That’s what gives you the edge you have killing zombies—that ability to predict where the next blow will come from.”
He smiled and shrugged. “Believe what you want. But don’t waste your gifts—they might save your life. And don’t waste yourself. You’re a human being, not a machine. You need a social life. Have some fun, get yourself laid.” Then his eyes clouded. “But be careful. These are very interesting times, indeed. Don’t let them destroy you.”
With that, the dream faded away and I jolted awake at my desk, looking around frantically to see if anyone had noticed. Since only the dispatcher and the two desk sergeants were in the building, nobody had.
I poured myself a cup of coffee so strong it made my eyes bug out. Ah, that was the ticket. Sipping slowly, I sat back down at my desk and put my feet up, pondering the dream. Much as I hated to admit it, I did have some kind of sixth sense for danger. It had saved my hide on more than one occasion and right now it was tingling like a bad rash.
When the precinct door banged open, I looked up as one of the sergeants said, “Go on in. Lt. Perry can help you, since Captain Morris won’t be in for an hour.” The night shift lt. had of course, left with their strike team. Since I was here, they hadn’t called anyone else in to cover. I glanced at the clock on my wall. Sure enough, it was almost seven. One more hour until my shift officially began.
There’s an old Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.” It had been one of Mr. Nelson’s favorite sayings. I’d always figured the plague made things just about as interesting as they could get. Isn’t it amazing just how wrong a smart woman can be?
I looked out through my door at a tall, well-built man, thirty-three years old, with blond hair, blue eyes that could bore holes through concrete, a face that rivaled any movie star’s, and a grey pinstripe suit that cost more than my monthly rent.
Of all the zombie-hunting precincts in all the world, why the bloody hell did he have to walk into mine?
This one is for Ellora’s Cave, bringing in a dragon shifter who’s the half-brother of Dana from Stone and Fire and Bram from Between a Rock and a Hard-On.
He’d had more than had his fill of being social for the day—hell, for the entire year. If he hadn’t promised his sister he’d make an effort to get out of his castle—his lair, she’d called it—at least once in a while, he’d still be back in Scotland, handling his business the comfortable way—via internet. Instead, he slumped down onto a barstool and called, “I’ll have a quart of your stout, Donovan,” without bothering to look up. Another nice thing about a paranormal bar—nobody worried about portion control. Carrick couldn’t get drunk on anything less than a barrelful, but he found the flavor soothing. Besides, he was thirsty after a long day of meetings.
“Coming right up.” The lilting feminine voice with a soft brogue snapped him out of his introspective funk.
Carrick looked up to see a petite, red-haired female building a glass of stout at the nearby tap. He blinked. In the hundred or so years he’d been coming to Pot O’Gold, he’d never seen a single soul behind the bar except for Dennis Donovan, the leprechaun who owned the place. “You’re sure as hell not Donovan.”
The female laughed, her wide green eyes crinkling at the corners. “Aye, but I am.” She placed his oversized glass in front of him and gave a little bow, which revealed the tops of her generous breasts in the scooped neck of her black T-shirt. “Neala Donovan, at your service. My da is away for a few days, so I’m minding the bar.”
“Carrick MacNair.” He’d never met a female leprechaun either, but he supposed they had to exist. Now that he looked, he could see the resemblance. Not only was she barely five feet tall, but she had Donovan’s carrot-red hair and pale freckled complexion, though it was a lot more interesting in feminine form, especially since her tight top and jeans outlined a lusciously curved package. Carrick lifted his glass. “Pleasure to meet you, miss. Who knew old Dennis had a daughter?”
“Actually, he’s got three.” A grin quirked her lips. “My eldest sister Riona has just produced the first grandchild to the old coot, so he and Mam are off to county Cork to pay homage to the crown prince.”
“Well, congratulations to the Donovan clan.” Having nieces and nephews of his own, Carrick understood the proud but wary gleam in her eyes. He loved the little baggages, but had no idea what to do with them. He nodded politely, expecting her to move off and leave him to enjoy his draught in peace.
Instead she leaned her elbows on the bar across from him. “So, Mr. Carrick MacNair, what sort of dragon are you? I can’t quite make it out in your aura.”
Carrick lifted an eyebrow. So that’s how Donovan had known, way back when. Apparently leprechauns could read auras. “Bronze.” He sipped his stout, loving the rich malty taste and the smooth feel as it went down his throat. “But only half.”
“Ah, well that explains it then. ’Tis no wonder your aura’s a mite confused.” She reached out one hand and touched his where it rested on the oak bar. “So warm. That must be a real boon up in the Highlands.”
His breath caught at that light, cool touch. Her hands were small, but sturdy, the nails short and free of polish.
He shouldn’t be reacting so much to just a brush of her fingers. Apparently it had been far too long since he’d been with a female, if just her fingertips could set his blood pumping. “Is that in my aura as well?” His voice had gone regrettably husky. “That I live up in the mountains?”
“No.” She chuckled again. “That’s in your voice and you know it. “
So what do you think? Anything that just screams, “Yes! Cindy should write this. Now!”? While you’re at it, you might want to take a quick peek at Nailed, over at Resplendence. Have a great week!