Upcoming Schedules, Play Projects in the Wings, and a few sneak peeks…

Greetings! I've been busy lately, so I haven't been blogging nearly as much as I should be. I've got a lot going on, and it's time to share some of my schedule with you!

I actually have release dates on several projects. I've already made this announcement on my facebook page, but here it is for all you lovers of blog spaces! (Tip: my facebook page often gets the news first.)

Here's my schedule!

  • House Lost at Sea Part 2: June 27, 2017
  • Hoofin' It: a Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count): July 31, 2017*
  • Whatever for Hire: a Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count): December 19, 2017
  • Silver Bullet: Witch & Wolf #4: December 21, 2017*
  • Serial Killer Princess: a Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count): January 9, 2017

Novels marked with * have some flexibility, but I'm working really hard to make sure they're released on those dates.

When preorders go live for Whatever for Hire & Serial Killer Princess, I'll let everyone know. Unlike my other releases, these books will be part of a wide release, so they will be available at most major retailers.

I'm also making plans to release Playing with Fire and Hoofin' It to most major retailers in the near future. Hoofin' It will be available in KU for three months following its release, after which it will receive wide distribution. This is an experiment to see if wide distribution is an option for me, so if you want to see my titles go wide as a default, these four books need to perform well. (That's just a fact of life–my kitties have to eat!)

Now… for the sales!

I have several books on sale right now.

  1. Playing with Fire: On Sale until July 31, 2017 at $0.99. It will be priced at $3.25 following Hoofin' It's release. Yes, I like *.25 pricing. It's becoming a thing.
  2. Water Viper: On Sale (Countdown Deal, US & UK) until June 16, 2017.
  3. Shadowed Flame: $0.99 until July 31, 2017. Its new price will be $3.25.

The following titles that will be rising in price (to $3.35) on July 31, 2017.

  1. Beneath a Blood Moon ($2.99)
  2. Tales of the Winter Wolf Omnibus ($2.99)
  3. Pack Justice ($2.99)
  4. Karma ($2.99)
  5. Winter Wolf ($2.99)
  6. Blood Diamond ($2.99)

The Witch & Wolf Omnibus/Boxed Set will be going from $4.99 to $4.25.

All other titles will remain the same price.

About my Newsletter

As a part of the changes I'm making, I will be trying to utilize my newsletter better. As a result, I am opening up a new mailing list for VIP subscribers. This list will mail every two to three weeks.

When you sign up to this list, you'll receive no more than two emails a month with updates on new releases, sales, and special promotions. You will also receive exclusive information on upcoming books, treats about your favorite characters, and every mailing will include a short story or snippet from an unreleased book.

There will also be a roundup of interesting giveaways, short book reviews as written by my cat, and a whole lot of other shenanigans!

If you only one emails when I have a new release, which will include the standard short stories inside, please sign up to this mailing list instead.

There will be no need to sign up for both newsletters, as the VIP mailing list will also receive the new release announcement email with the exclusive short story inside–but you can sign up for both if you'd really like, I don't mind!

Thank you for your understanding on this matter! Those of you who have signed up for my mailing list in the past are in the new release only mailing list. In my next newsletter, I will be including a signup for those of you who would like to be added to the VIP list. (Once again, it's your choice if you remain on both mailing lists. This way, if you decide you don't like the VIP mailing list, you can still receive the new release newsletter!)

Onto the Fun & Games!

Outside of my set release schedule, I've been working on some projects as time allows, and I thought I'd take a few minutes to give y'all a hint of what's to come next year.

I'll begin by answering a question I've been getting daily since Water Viper's release. Yes, there will be a second book. Yes, I've already started it. No, I don't have any draft material for you yet, but I might soon. And when I do, it'll be in the VIP newsletter I talked about above. It is called Steel Heart, and it will answer quite a few of your burning questions. Will Jesse find herself a mate? Who is her father, anyway? What about her mother? What about the missing starfall stone? What happened to those poor horses, anyway? Whyyyyy are there still mysterrrriiieeessss….?

I will try my hearts not to disappoint you in Steel Heart, and I hope to have it ready for 2018. But, as it will be another monster of a novel, I make no guarantees of its release date.

On the subject of monster novels, I have begun the groundwork of The Tides of War (Requiem for the Rift King #3.) Like Steel Heart, I make no promises on its release date, as I expect this novel to reach potentially the 300,000 word mark, which is approximately 3x the size of one of my other books. I'm not sorry. Requiem for the Rift King is a quartet, and I have a very specific point I must end The Tides of War. As such, I'm giving the book the space it deserves. It's going to be one hell of a wild ride–and better still, Chris Howard has already begun work on the cover, and I absolutely love it.

But no sneak peeks of it, not yet. Soon, soon.

I have mostly finished the draft of a Urban Fantasy Royal Romance. That's now a thing because I've made it a thing. It's a brand new world, and I have no idea if/when I'll produce it, but it occupies two journals and is waiting for me to finish percolating on it so I can start typing it up.

If I produce it, I expect next year–and I like Mackenzie and her story enough I'll probably produce it. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if it'll sell well, so it's really going to depend on how well other books perform. That's just a reality of the business, unfortunately!

Dual Nature (Pack Justice's sequel) and License to Kill (Karma's sequel) are in the works. License to Kill has 40,000 words written, so next year is a reasonable expectation for this book. No ETA on Dual Nature yet.

Wolf Hunt will be produced sometime next year, and I've already started work on the second book in that series, Wild Wolf. Expect 2018 for both, but Wild Wolf may be delayed until 2019 to make room for my other fun projects.

Memento Mori: I have discussed this book before, and it's still one of my favorite projects–and one of my longest ones. While it makes me a bit sad, I'm making the decision I'm releasing none of this book/series until the whole thing is finished. I'm undecided if it'll be a series or just one epically long novel. Harrison is one of my favorite characters, and I don't get to spend a lot of time with him, although I'm really hoping next year will let me add to his story.

Until then, his story's outline waits in one of my journals. But, here's a peek at it. Some of you may remember this unedited drabbling as a snippet from facebook:


Prologue


Of all the gemstones I could have picked, why had I fallen for the black opal’s trap?

It had lured me from my home in Twin Lakes, Colorado to the irradiated wasteland that had once been Australia. From the ruins of Sydney, I found my way to Lightning Ridge.

Like the rest of the continent, all that remained of the old mining town were scraps of bomb-twisted metal, ash, and the whispers of ghosts on the ceaseless wind. Sometimes, when I stood still and listened, their pleading questions filled my ears and chilled my heart.

Why had I survived?

Why hadn’t they?

It took me three weeks to find the stone. During the day, the pale gray ash seemed normal enough, but when night fell, it glowed with the blue-white radiance of the moon.

It was on the dawn when the sun and the moon rose together I found the stone. The black opal devoured the light, and when the first rays of dawn struck it, the stone flared to life. Blue and gold plays of color rippled across its surface.

I think it accepted me only because there was no one else for it to choose.

I wanted to believe it had something to do with my willingness to take the time to photograph the dead. I lacked the film needed to grant them the Memento Mori they deserved, but even my digital camera would capture their images.

Through me and the photos I took, they wouldn’t be forgotten. Their nameless faces would haunt my album, a reminder of everything they had lost.

I wouldn’t forget.

I carried the stone and my guilt back to the United States. To hide my theft, I fell to temptation. The warding rune was a minor enchantment meant to turn watchful eyes away from what I wanted to hide. All of the research I had done promised it was the safest of magics.

The books left out the most important detail. If I had known the truth, I wouldn’t have answered the opal’s  distant call.

Once woken, magic never returned to sleep.


Chapter One


Nothing good ever happened when my work phone rang.

I glared at my cell, contemplating how much official trouble I’d land in if I ignored the call. It rang three times before I snatched the device off my desk, swiped my finger across the screen, and answered, “Godfrey.”

“Harrison, a quad called for an identification. A car will pick you up in ten minutes.” Annoyance gave my boss’s normally pleasant soprano a cutting edge.

Turning my phone’s volume down so I wouldn’t lose an eardrum, I checked my watch. It wasn’t even eight in the morning on a Friday. Instead of sighing, grumbling, or cursing like I wanted, I replied, “Understood, ma’am.”

“Bring an umbrella.” The phone clicked and the line went dead.

I frowned, glancing out the corner of my eye at the window. October in Twin Lakes, Colorado meant anything could happen, but the skies seemed clear enough. Then again, in a city populated by a mix of supernatural and purebred humans, anything really could happen.

Why couldn’t my boss have given me something a little more concrete to work with? Without any idea of what to expect, I had no choice but to take everything. It took the full ten minutes to fill my large camera bag, holster my gun, snatch my umbrella, and retrieve my cane.

If the quad wanted me in a suit and presentable, I’d need an hour and a miracle.

Resigned to work in a solution-stained t-shirt and jeans, I dragged my bag to the lobby to wait.

A black SUV pulled up to the front door, and I shook my head. Anyone with a grain of intelligence recognized the unmarked vehicle as belonging to someone in the FBI. Hoisting my bag’s strap over my shoulder, I headed to the SUV, careful to maintain the mild limp so no one in the quad questioned my cane.

My umbrella, etched with several runes of warding in case of trouble, would cause me enough trouble if anyone recognized it for what it was. My cane and its carved, black opal would land me in so much hot water I’d probably boil to death before I had a chance to drown.

The passenger side window rolled down, and a man with gray-streaked, dark hair stuck his head out the window. “You Harrison Godfrey?”

A year and a half of experience with the FBI’s supernatural quads had taught me several important lessons. They didn’t want a registered, unknown supernatural like me getting in their way, I was better off being seen and not heard, and if one of the team’s four members wanted something from me, they’d ask.

I nodded.

“In the back,” the agent ordered.

I wrestled the door open, set my bag behind the middle seats, and climbed in, careful to avoid using my left foot too much. The instant I shut the door, the driver hit the gas and shot out of the apartment complex’s parking lot.

“Your file didn’t mention a limp.”

Why had the quad looked into my file? I tensed, sitting straighter. “I took a few months off between working with the police and joining the FBI. Ended up with the limp as a souvenir from a trip overseas.”

“Bad luck. I’m Agent Salone. My partner is Agent Pentry. Our partners are already at the site. If traffic holds, we should be there within ten minutes. You brought an umbrella?”

“I brought one.”

To the naked eye, the umbrella didn’t look like much. It was a pink so bright it burned my eyes if I looked at it for too long. I never understood why Monica had liked it so much, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it.

The umbrella and the tiny picture hidden in my mother’s locket were all I had left of the woman who would have been my wife if she had lived for just one more day.


Water dripped from the concrete ceiling of a three-car garage on the outskirts of the city. The leak didn’t bode well for the owner, who according to the sign outside, was trying to sell the place. Leaning on my cane, I opened Monica’s umbrella, secured it, and took a step closer.

The temperature dropped enough my breath burst out of me in white clouds.

Metal clattered against metal overhead, and I shivered from more than the chill. The garage quieted until only the steady drip of water remained. I waited, examining the rough concrete overhead for cracks or holes.

“What do you think?” Salone demanded.

If the quad, a team of supernatural experts, didn’t know what they were dealing with, why did they think I’d be able to walk into a garage and have an identification within half a minute? “How long has this been going on?”

“A week, according to the owner.”

“Has anything else unusual happened?”

“The owner, one Sarah Walker, claims it sounds like there is a river in her garage sometimes, but when she checks, all she sees is the drip from the ceiling.” Salone hesitated, and I frowned, wondering what the agent wasn’t telling me.

When it came to the supernatural, almost anything was possible. Sometimes, the source of the activity came from the purported victim; those who had survived exposure to an atomic blast sometimes waited years before their supernatural powers manifested.

Until I met Sarah Walker, I wouldn’t be able to tell if her abilities had incubated or if she was the target of another supernatural. “Is the owner here?”

“She’s the blond waiting outside.”

“What’s her status?”

“Fringe survivor, aged thirty-one, native to New Twin Lakes,” Salone reported.

I frowned. Before an atomic bomb had detonated in the area, Twin Lakes had been a city and a small town. Old Twin Lakes had been wiped out, and the blast had swept over a large portion of New Twin Lakes. That only fifty thousand had died amazed everyone.

Overnight, the haven for purebred humans had become a hive of the supernatural. Hundreds of thousands became fringe survivors with no true powers. Those who developed abilities had done so during a five year period after the bomb’s detonation.

“Type?”

“Null.”

Sarah Walker had survived exposure, but she hung in the void between the supernatural and ordinary humans, welcomed by neither side. Luck had spared her life, not magic. I didn’t envy her position too close to the detonation to count as a true human but too far away to classify as a true survivor.

While twenty-five years was far too long for supernatural powers to incubate, the possibility existed Sarah Walker had developed them without unlocking the secrets of her potential. “I’d like to speak with her if possible.”

Salone whistled before shouting, “Send her in.”

I stepped out of the dripping water, shook out Monica’s umbrella, and closed it. After slipping its loop over my right hand, I limped to my camera bag, tapping my cane against the concrete floor.

Film cameras worked best for capturing the images of supernatural hiding from normal sight. I dug out the bulky camera and my best lens. Assembling it before I leaned against the wall, I kept one eye on the dripping ceiling and the other on my camera as I loaded in a fresh roll of film. “To confirm, there are no pipes in the ceiling above this section of the garage? No known leaks in the roof?”

It never failed to surprise me how often the supernatural were blamed for mundane problems.

“I already had the roof checked, and there are no pipes there,” a woman replied from behind me. “It was the first thing I looked for.”

“How long has this been going on, Miss Walker?” I lifted my camera, focused the lens on the dripping water, and waited without taking the picture.

It didn’t take long for a hazy, blurred figure to appear in the viewport, drifting through the ceiling and circling around the influenced spot. I adjusted the focusing, tracking the spirit’s motion.

“A week. I heard water rushing in the garage and thought the hose had somehow turned on.”

I glanced at the woman in time to catch her pointing at a hose on the far side of the garage. “How many times has that happened?”

“Once a day. It’s always around five or six in the afternoon.”

No matter how many times I focused the camera, the ghost refused to cooperate. Whatever it wanted, it wasn’t me—not yet, at least.

Until the spirit was ready for me to take its Memento Mori, it’d linger, seeking closure for its lost life. Helping ghosts find peace was as much as an art as it was a science. Some wanted their picture taken with their still-living family or loved ones. Others wanted to be remembered at their favorite place. A few wanted the reassurance they wouldn’t be forgotten, joining my collection of nameless faces in the albums I hid from the rest of the world.

“Have you been exposed to the water?” I asked.

“Many times.”

“Would you mind?” I gestured with my camera to the dripping spot.

Sarah sighed but cooperated, flinching each time a drop splashed onto her head.

I peered through the viewport and went to work adjusting the focus. Within moments of the woman stepping within the chilled air, the spirit flitted from its hiding place in the ceiling. I snapped the first photo before taking the time to scrutinize the incident’s source.

Little bothered me more than the ghosts of children. In life, the girl had been no older than eight or nine, and her clothing and hair flowed as though she were submerged. Like my Monica, she had drowned, likely in cold, dark waters.

I limped in a slow circle around Sarah and the spirit, snapping photos from each angle. While Sarah stood rigid and tense, the ghost watched me with hopeful eyes.

Of all the magic in the world, no one could bring back the dead. The divide between life and death remained too wide to cross. When the boundaries overlapped, ghosts could manifest, but they could only be seen through the lens of a camera, forever separated from those left behind.

I turned away from Sarah and snapped photographs of the rest of the garage, buying myself time to think. Identifying the cause was simple enough; restless spirits haunted places of importance to them. Haunters attached themselves to the target of their grief, anger, or adoration, refusing to leave until their last message from the grave reached the target of their obsession.

Near the end of my third roll of film, I stopped taking pictures and turned to face the owner of the garage. To put an end to the manifestation, I needed to learn why the little girl was haunting Sarah Walker. “Has anything ever happened to you in the water?”

Salone cleared his throat to catch my attention. Glancing at him, he sliced his finger across his throat in his effort to silence me.

Ignoring him, I pointed my camera at the spirit. Anger contorted the little girl’s expression, and she stared at the quad member with hate burning in her eyes. Looping my camera’s lanyard around my neck, I opened Monica’s umbrella and held it up, side stepping to my camera bag and snatching it off the floor.

A torrent of water cascaded from the ceiling, slamming into my umbrella with enough force I staggered in my effort to keep a hold on it. One of the wards carved into the handle flared to life. The surge of power the haunter unleashed roared with the deafening intensity of a cascading waterfall.

Sarah gaped at me, soaked through, her eyes wide and face pale from shock. For a moment, I thought she was going to faint, but she straightened, shook her head, and sighed. “I was in a car wreck five years ago. The car ended up in the river.”

The sad ending to Sarah’s story darted back into the ceiling, which resumed dripping steadily. When Sarah didn’t volunteer any more information, I didn’t ask. Instead, I dug out my digital camera and took a few more pictures of Sarah. The ghost made one final appearance, dropping from the ceiling to hover in front of me.

The dead weren’t supposed to touch the living, but her lips were icy on my brow.

I put my cameras away and turned to Salone. “I need to go to headquarters.”


Salone and the other three members of his quad dropped me off in front of the FBI’s Paranormal Classification Headquarters, leaving the instant I closed the back door. I trudged up the stairs, my shoes sloshing every step of the way.

My boss met me at the door, her arms crossed over her chest, a feat considering I knew few women with breasts quite as large as hers. Well aware Sierra Nelson would flatten me if she caught me staring at the hint of cleavage peeking out of her button-up top, I forced myself to stare into her piercing blue eyes.

Her brown hair had seen better days, so tousled I suspected she had rolled out of bed, tossed on the first outfit to cross her path, and came into work with no fucks left to give about her appearance.

It was one of the things I liked about the woman when she wasn’t on a warpath and ready to fry my ass over something.

“Agent Salone isn’t pleased you questioned his witness.”

“Then he shouldn’t have requested an identification. How else am I supposed to identify his supernatural if I can’t ask questions?” I never wanted to understand why the quads thought they towered so high over everyone else.

“Why are you wet? I warned you to take an umbrella.”

I snorted, shifted the strap of my bag on my shoulder, and lifted my left foot. Shoes never lasted long when dealing with the supernatural, but I liked my oxfords. The deluge would ruin the leather if I didn’t take precautions. Fortunately, I had a few tricks up my sleeve I could use to restore them once I got out from the watchful eyes of my boss and other supernatural. “Agent Salone upset his quarry when he tried to stop me from asking questions.”

“Ah. You ID’d the supernatural?”

While I had no doubt of what sort of spirit lingered in the ceiling of Sarah Walker’s garage, I wasn’t quite ready to stake my reputation of correct identifications on something I couldn’t prove. “I won’t be able to confirm it until I develop the film.”

“Let me take your bag.” Before I could refuse or accept, my boss grabbed the strap and pulled it off my shoulder. “How’d you bruise your forehead?”

I straightened, slapping my hand to my brow where the ghost had kissed me. A slight chill marked the spot she had touched me. “It’s bruised?”

It usually took bruises several hours to form, not the forty or so minutes it had taken to get to the headquarters.

“Sure is. It’s black, purple and blue in the center, turning green and yellow around the edges. It looks like someone cracked you in the head with a baseball bat.”

If the spirit’s kiss left a bruise that bad, I didn’t want to think what she could do if angered. “Maybe you should call Salone and make sure he doesn’t piss the supernatural off anymore than he already has.”

“The supernatural did that to you?” My boss’s voice rose in pitch, and I wasn’t sure if she was worried one of her agents had gotten injured, one of her quads was at risk, or if it had something to do with me being the one bruised.

I never was sure with her. One day, with a lot of work, effort, and patience, I might unravel the mystery that was Sierra Nelson.

“I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intentional.” I limped in the direction of the elevators in the hopes my boss would drop the subject.

While she followed, her frustrated sigh warned me she had no intentions of letting the subject die. “How unintentional are we talking about here? When she lost her temper with Salone, did you got hit in the forehead?”

“Not exactly.”

“Harrison,” she warned.

“She touched me.”

We made it to the elevators, and I tapped the up button. My boss waited until the door dinged and opened before stating, “She touched you.”

Until I made it to the darkroom and began developing the film, I’d be stalked by my boss, who would hammer away at me until she got the answers she wanted. “She might be a new type of haunter,” I offered, hoping to put an end to the interrogation before it began.

“Haunters can’t touch people, Harrison.”

“I didn’t have a bruise when I left my apartment. You can confirm that with the quad at the same time you warn them not to antagonize the supernatural.” The trip to the tenth floor was interrupted four times before we arrived, and I slid my way between several other agents towards freedom.

My boss matched my stride, pulling her phone out of her pocket and dialing a number. “Agent Salone, was Agent Godfrey bruised when you picked him up?”

There was a long moment of silence, and my boss scowled. “No? And why wasn’t it called in? Yes, I understand he isn’t a quad member, Agent Salone. Need I remind you that you are easy to replace? It takes one call to ship you off to military service instead of investigative. Erase the attitude, Salone.” My boss paused, and her breath hissed between her teeth. “I don’t care what he is or isn’t. You requested the identification, requiring him to go out into the field. Headquarters is to be notified if an agent is injured in the field, no matter the severity of the injury. Watch your step with that supernatural. Keep your distance until we’ve had a chance to develop and evaluate the photographs from the site. Finish your questioning and get your report submitted. No excuses, delays, or omissions.” Hanging up, my boss shoved her phone in her jacket pocket. “They get a few months of service under the belt, and they think they know everything there is to know about paranormal investigation.”

I frowned. “He looked pretty old for someone with so little experience under the belt.”

“Draft dodger.”

Few supernatural tried to avoid serving the public, something implemented after the rise of supernatural activity following World War II. It had survived through World War III, and the United States government maintained the practice in order to monitor supernatural activity within its borders. The system worked, for the

The majority of the supernatural enjoyed the benefits of government employment, and since service was mandatory, draft dodgers often found themselves the target of discrimination, turned in to authorities without the Feds having to lift a finger to hunt them down.

“So he joined a quad? Doesn’t sound very bright to me,” I muttered.

My boss snorted. “There’s a reason his quad is investigating a dripping ceiling. Between the four of them, they have less field experience than you do. They do the absolute minimum to maintain their active duty status.”

I had only been with the FBI for a little over a year and a half, spending most of my time spent developing photographs taken by actual field agents. “They’re going to get themselves killed.”

“That’s exactly what I’m worried about.” My boss stopped at the door leading into the photography wing of the tenth floor. “Identify that haunter before that quad ends up in the morgue.”

Happy Reading, folks!

Leave a Comment:

2 comments
Hendrik Boom says June 12, 2017

I don’t suppose I really need to tell you that I am very much looking forward to The Tides of War. If you keep up with this pace,. I’ll probably get to read the whole series before I die. Unlike Brandon Sanderson​’s Stormlight Archive.

Reply
    RJBlain says June 12, 2017

    Yeah, and only four books! Ideally, 2019 for Requiem for the Rift King, but likely 2020. It depends on what else happens and what time of year I finish drafting Tides.

    Reply
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