IWSG: Do it. I did.

Today I’m releasing my fourth book.

Woo hoo!

And also *don’t look at me*

Well it’s up on. On Smashwords and Amazon and I’m very proud of myself for having gotten to this stage. It’s taken a lot of time, and a lot of effort, and I’m happy I stuck through it all.

I will say Crusade Across Worlds was more difficult to write than the first three, partly because of how the story went, but it had a lot to do a lot with what I was experiencing in my own life at the time. Thank you to everyone who’s read Escape, Plague and Discovery, or who’s offered a kind or supportive word. It means more than you know. Truly.

So, yep, here it is.

Fourth book in the series.

And guys—GUYS—shit just got real.

CRUSADE ACROSS WORLDS - 2500

Fallon has just returned from three months of training and is eager to fight against those who enslaved her. Joining up with Reid and the gang, they set out to prepare for the Vermix’s final attack—a highly prophesied invasion that could mean the possible end to a centuries-long war. But when unforeseen events arise, causing the plan of defense to crumble, it will take everything they have to survive what will certainly become a turning point in the Arizal War.

Find it on Smashwords here.

Find it on Amazaon here.

For all of you terrified weirdos out there like me, I clicked the publish button. And if I can do it, you can too. And if you can’t, read through a few more of these blogs. You’ll find the encouragement you need.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a monthly blog hop for writers at all levels to share their fears and insecurities in a safe and encouraging place. Please drop by and say hi to Alex Cavanaugh who started this nifty concept in bringing us all together.

IWSG – And the Battle Rages On

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a monthly blog hop for writers at all levels to share their fears and insecurities in a safe and encouraging place. Please drop by and say hi to Alex Cavanaugh who started this nifty concept in bringing us all together.

I’ve been kind of out of it lately.

I don’t want to talk to anybody. Don’t want to do anything. I’ve got too much to say but no energy or desire to say any of it. Which leaves me in this weird sort of funk that has me questioning my day-to-day happiness as well as my mental stability, something every artist does but never talks about. Sshh. You didn’t read it here.

I’m fine. Really. It’s just the dark thoughts that plague most people (and not usually me) have been repeat offenders lately and that’s something I’m not used to. So I don’t know what to do. When the demons do come knocking (the rare occasions it happens), I’m able to bat them away—quite successfully, I might add. I’m optimistic this is the life I’m supposed to be living. I’m blinded by the belief that I’m meant to tell stories. To write. And always have been. But I’ve been struggling to live in the positive. My brain feels like a weary battlefield, neither optimism nor depression surrendering, both battling to rule my outlook on everything I do. And that’s what April has been for me. A month of constant war.

I have been writing. So there’s that. I have a book coming out next month, after all—the fourth in a series I love. But I don’t want to promote it. I don’t want to advertise or talk about its release. I simply want to sink back into my shell and send out a few texts to the handful of people I know are awaiting its release. It’s sad, really. That I’m back here again. I had so much gusto a few months ago and now I’m trying to decide each day if I want to be happy or sad. It’s weird and it’s scary and I hate that it’s part of the process. I hate that I have to go through it.

I guess the good thing about April is the unexpected inspiration for my next book. I’m excited about it, which has renewed some of the optimism, but the giant 3-0 circling my head is a constant reminder of the failure I continually convince myself I am. I’m thirty and not there yet. What does that say about me? What does that say about my talent? What does that say about how the rest of my life is going to go? And suddenly the demons are back. I hate them, and I hate myself for giving into them.

But I’m still writing. I’ve posted this, haven’t I? (Please God let me not chicken-out and post this). Things will be okay. I’m sure they will. After all, Crusade Across Worlds is coming out next month and ITR is still in its best stage—the unwritten period when everything is just a montage of scenes, a movie trailer of highlights I want to write.

Ah, the beginning to any creative piece. The inspiration. The possibilities. I do think, despite all the demons and mental exhaustion that goes along with being a writer, that this may be one of my very favorite things in life.

So I’ll cling to that for now.

 

Character Profile: Jace

Character Profile1

Jace

 

 

Hair color: Blonde

Eye color: Blue

Age: 24

Fun Fact: Jace was named after the brother from Duck Dynasty.

(The following takes place in the beginning of Escape from Harrizel. Note – it has not been professionally edited, nor beta-read, but most definitely filled with love for the characters and story. Enjoy!)

***

“Hands off”

Jace had to check her out.

He still couldn’t believe it—any of it. Not a single word. Rox actually asking him to keep his distance from a girl? For real? That never happened. Not even back in the beginning, when the leader of the Rogues first started out with Ansley. Rox had just sort of gone for it and that was that. No need to tell Jace anything. But since the whole mess went down with her and that red-headed fuck, Walker, the former Rogue Leader had apparently sworn off the ladies.

Until now.

She had to be something special. A former model maybe because no one had gotten Boss’s attention enough to warrant a “hands off” for Jace. The thought had him grinning. He knew it was only a matter of time because at some point, Rox was going to go fishing and the blonde Rogue couldn’t wait to see who it’d be. Add in a heavy—and sudden—dose of unexplained territorialism and it was so on.

Jace couldn’t wait.

Leisure Time was the perfect opportunity for some high-quality spying. Jace normally didn’t stoop to the level, having Moss and Cramp go to the trouble first. But this wasn’t trouble. This was fun. This was something the Rogue Commander didn’t mind doing at all.

Slipping past a pair of dancing bodies, he glided through the crowded room. His latest intel advised that Fallon—the one he was supposed to keep his hands off of—was with Raj over by the West Wall. He knew what Raj looked like. Knew the curve of her body and the creamy, coffee-colored tone of her skin. It was sort of his job. The whole scouting for possible Clan recruitment was a top priority for the Rogues. And that meant having a handle on every person that came through the gates. He could spot Raj in a moment. And then he’d find her. The girl. The only girl Rox ever told him to stay away from.

Jace slowed as he approached the West Wall.

Couples lined the checkered pattern, mouths intertwined, hands dipping beneath waistbands and shirts. Now this was what he was talking about. Scanning the movement, he slowed on certain areas before pressing on. He’d make a quick assessment and then get back to his own shenanigans for the night. Shouldn’t take more than a minute.

Passing a few more interlocked bodies, Jace finally stopped, spotting Raj. The teen was talking quickly, hands flailing about. It meant she was nearby. The girl. The only girl Jace couldn’t have. But he couldn’t see her. Bodies blocked his view, thriving and grinding to the overhead music. He took a step around a serious pair of dancers and—

He noticed her hair first.

Long and curly and dark, dark like chocolate, dark like mahogany—the complete opposite of Ansley’s bright, yellow locks. Interesting. She was also taller than Raj, but not exactly tall, and could probably come eye to eye with Able. Jace’s eyes roamed down her form. Chest? Not bad. Ass? Decent. Nice legs too. Sure, the Rogue Commander could see the attraction, but he’d hooked up with a dozen girls that looked just like her. Probably more. His excitement waned. Jace didn’t know what to expect, but he wanted something… someone… incredible. Someone he’d have trouble keeping his hands off of.

And she wasn’t it.

There had to be something he was missing, something he didn’t get. The Rogue Commander moved in for a better look. The two girls were just talking. That’s it. Knowing Fallon wouldn’t recognize him, he found a spot behind Raj and made himself comfortable. Then stuck an ear out and listened.

“Are the Dofinikes aware of the Clans?” A pause. “And they’re fine with it? So you just walk up and—”

The words turned to whispers. Jace peeked over, reading Fallon’s expressions. Raj must be explaining something. He leaned closer.

“—nothing like that,” he heard Raj say.” You never deal directly with the Clans. It’s always done through the Scouts. They’re like… the middle-men. They deliver—”

He pulled back.

Huh.

So Raj was filling Fallon in on the Market. Little early for an Arival to be privy to that sort of information, wasn’t it? Rox preferred them here at least a week first. So how come she already knew? Was that why Rox was so interested? Had something happened?

The Rogue Commander continued to listen but both girls suddenly took off, Raj leading them down the West Wall.

There was more to it. Jace was certain. Rox didn’t go from practicing celibacy to marking his territory for no reason. He’d gone too long without breaking his no-chick rule for this not to mean something. And it did. It most definitely did. Something was going on.

And Jace was going to find out what.

***

And I actually wouldn’t know who I’d cast to play Jace. I’ve scratched my head and come up with nothing. What about you? Who could you see playing the blonde Rogue?

Escape from Harrizel is the first book in the Arizal Wars series. Crusade Across Worlds releases June 1st 2016!

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Character Profile: Walker

Character Profile1

Walker1

Hair color: Reddish-orange

Eye color: Hazel-brown

Age: 23

Fun Fact: Walker was originally Australian

(The following takes place before the start of Escape from Harrizel. Note – it has not been professionally edited, nor beta-read, but most definitely filled with love for the characters and story. Enjoy!)

***

Afterward

Walker felt like shit.

He had to do it—there was no way to refuse the Kings and still come out of this thing alive. But forcing him to sleep with Ansley? The one girl he couldn’t have? The one girl no one could? The whole thing was a lose-lose. And most likely suicide. The Kings promised their protection from the Rogues, but Walker had just done the unthinkable.

He’d slept with Ansley. Beautiful, perfect, untouchable Ansley—the girl who belonged to the most feared Rogue of all.

Rox.

It’s not like he forced her. Hell, Walker was hoping she’d turn him down, hoping she’d flat out refuse and then he could go back to the Kings with the whole I didn’t sign up for rape argument. But that’s not how it went at all.

Walker ran his hands down his face. He still couldn’t believe he went through with the thing, still couldn’t believe it was done. Over with.

Ansley.

He’d actually fucked Ansley.

Rox would kill him. Even if the Kings promised protection, there was no way they could guarantee it, no way to really enforce it. If Rox wanted to get to him, he’d find a way. He found a way out of working for the Kings, didn’t he? There was no stopping him. And when he found out what Walker did… it would be bad.

But what choice did he have?

Walker slowed as he approached his door, and the visitor leaning against it. Dark choppy hair. Arrogant blue eyes. It was the same King who first approached him with the assignment, the one who started this whole bullshit mess. Normally Walker got his jobs from Nathan, a low-level member still trying to work his way up, but since this one was being used to bring down the almighty Rox, it only made sense that the assignment came from the opposing Clan leader.

Grisham smiled softly. “It’s done?”

Walker reached the door.

And nodded.

The King mirrored the gesture but made no attempt to leave. Watching Walker, he studied his stiff stance and the hard expression that accompanied it. Normally the playboy was all jokes and charm, but now he couldn’t be further from it. The corners of Grisham’s mouth pulled up. “Is there anything better?” An amused eyebrow rose. “Getting paid to fuck a beautiful girl?”

You mean being forced.

Walker stared ahead, past the railing and open courtyard, to the rooms on the other side. One of them was Ansley’s. Another, a few floors up, belonged to Rox.  “I’m dead when he finds out.”

“It won’t come to that.”

“He’ll kill me.”

“You don’t get it,” the King smiled wider, a danger lurking beneath the expression. “You broke Rox. There is,” he slowed his words, annunciating each one, “no more Rox. You and that little slut made sure of it.” Grisham laughed under his breath, pleased with himself. “You don’t realize the power you’ve gained. The allies you made.”

“Or the enemies.”

Grisham’s smile turned down, his easy, playful demeanor gone. “We’re all dead in here anyway.” The Clan leader pushed off the door, adjusting the collar of his light blue scrub. Turning, he started back down the hall. “If you haven’t figured that out by now, I’ve been giving you too much credit.”

Walker watched him leave, unable to stop the words. “He’ll come for me. You know he will. He’ll come for me and he’ll kill me.”

At this, Grisham paused. He hooked his chin over his shoulder, a warning swirling in the dark scowl. It was a look of disgust. Of revulsion at having to state the obvious. “It was either him or us. You made your choice.”

The Clan leader disappeared into the shadows and Walker couldn’t help but agree. He had made his choice.

He’d picked Rox.

***

Now, if I was allowed to cast this character, I would choose Sam Claflin.

Ahem:

What do you think? Who would you cast to play Walker?

Escape from Harrizel is the first book in the Arizal Wars series. Crusade Across Worlds releases June 1st 2016!

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Character Profile: Raj

Character Profile1

Raj

 

Height: 5’6

Hair color: Black

Eye color: Brown

Age: 20

(The following takes place before the start of Escape from Harrizel. Note – due to an unforseen Netflix-binging incident, this has not been given the time it needs. I do apologize! Enjoy!)

***

The Discovery

Raj didn’t know what to do.

Marshall was late.

And Marshall was never late, especially when they’d made plans to meet up during Leisure Time. It was the only time they could be close to one another, the only hours they didn’t have to stand shoulder to shoulder, silently digging out a clay-like texture from the trenches where they worked. It was all to make room for the Arrivals, the newest survivors found on Earth. And every day it was the same: dig the gibb, load it into the bucket, drop off at the Gollop. Over and over and over again. Never changing. Never ending.  But once the Rebuilding was done—when they were  allowed to relax during a supervised social hour—every moment was dedicated to forgetting about all that, forgetting about everything to do with Harrizel. Except him.

Except Marshall.

And he was nowhere to be found.

A queasy feeling grew in her stomach. Raj pushed it down and glanced at her bare, olive-toned wrist. If only she had a watch. It would ease her mind knowing he was five minutes late. But he wasn’t. It had been longer than that. Leisure Time was already in full swing—couples dancing and grinding on one another, making out all around her in the dark auditorium-sized room.

Tucking a black strand behind her ear, she checked the symbol on the wall to her left. “W” for West. She was in the right place.

So where was he?

It had to do with the Market.

She knew it.

Because Marshall was a Client, he worked for one of the two Clans—the Kings or the Rogues—but Raj didn’t really know the difference. She only knew that he was given assignments and once completed, he was rewarded with food. Real food. Not the kind the Dofinikes provided. But it cost something. She would see it in his sunken eyes, too afraid to meet hers. And his hands, always shaking, never steady and relaxed. Like he couldn’t sit still. Like he couldn’t reconcile what he’d done. She’d tried asking about his assignments, if only to help him, but Marshall never said a word. He didn’t want her concerned by it.

Biting her thumb, she studied the moving bodies around her. Maybe she should go look for him. Maybe he got caught up with someone and was right around the corner.

Maybe.

Another ten minutes passed and Raj decided to do a lap. She knew better than to start asking around, but the situation was getting desperate. Passing a bundle of tightly-knit bodies, she spotted a familiar-looking boy, one she’d occasionally seen with Marshall. She wasn’t supposed to talk to him. She knew that. But he might be some help. Raj walked toward him. “I think you know my—”

He shuffled past, knocking into her shoulder.

Hard.

Raj stumbled back, pressing her palm to the swollen area. She’d barely gotten the question out and that was his reaction? How was she going to find Marshall if no one would talk to her? Still cupping her shoulder, Raj debated following the boy. Then hesitated. There must be someone else she could ask—someone else who would be willing to help. She scanned the crowd, searching. Searching for any glimmer of hope. Any possibility of—

Her eyes fell on another face. And with it, a fresh cloud of fear blossomed.

Blonde hair. Long, pointy nose. Flame tattoo crawling up the neck.

Her body stiffened.

Everything inside it told her to turn, to get as far away as possible. There was something cold in his eyes, something empty and dark. She felt it every time she looked at the boy, every time she saw him interact with Marshall. Raj hated him. On pure fear alone. She’d asked why Marshall had to deal with him, but his answer was always the same.

The less you know, the better.

Gathering her courage, Raj walked over. He saw her the instant she moved, his eyes tracking her until she stopped a foot away. For a moment, she simply stared at him, willing her voice to work, pleading with herself not to crumble under his palpable intensity.

This is for Marshall.

“M-my name is Raj,” she stammered, glad to have gotten that part out. The boy didn’t move. Not even a flicker. The fear in her stomach grew. “You don’t know me. And I know I’m not supposed to talk to—I mean, I know you’re a—” she gestured to him, suddenly terrified she’d given away information she shouldn’t have. Would there be repercussions to her knowing what he was? Still, the boy didn’t stir. Raj shook her head and started over. She needed to get it out. “Marshall—he’s my boyfriend. And he’s missing.”

The Clan member stared, his eyes void of anything friendly, anything warm. It was as if the information bored him, as if it was nothing new to hear. Then his expression changed. It grew dark. Dangerous.  But it didn’t matter. Raj needed to find Marshall; she needed to know that he was okay. About to try again, the boy leaned in, aligning his mouth with her ear. Raj froze, chilled by his nearness as his whispered words bled into her, choking her.

Killing her.

“Approach me again and you’ll find out why. But with you,” he inched closer, promise in his tone, “I’ll take my time.”

***

Now, if I was allowed to cast this character, I would choose Dilshad Vadsaria.

Ahem:

What do you think? Who would you cast to play Raj? And are there any scenes from the first book that you’d like to see?

#FirstLineFriday CAW (Chapter 4)

FLF

I’m taking a cue from Joleene Naylor on this one.

#FirstLineFriday is the end-of-a-week posting of the first line (or two) of a published story, potential story, or a work in progress. It’s a great way to get feedback on your work… or to stalk other writers and see what they’re doing. Whichever 🙂 Leave a link to your blog in the comments or on Rami Ungar’s, who started this super nifty concept.

This comes from the fourth chapter of Crusade Across Worlds, the fourth book in the Arizal Wars Series, releasing this June.

“They’re going to be all over you with questions. Just so you know.”

“I know.”

Reid stops us at the edge of the bridge and leans against its wooden banister. He brings my hand to his mouth, brushing his lips over my fingers, teasing a kiss. “I don’t want to give you back yet.

If you don’t know who Reid is or why he has to give the narrator back, you should catch up. You can get the first book for FREE on Smashwords here.

What do you think? You like? You don’t like?

What’re your first couple lines?

Character Profile: Tucker

Character Profile1

T2

Height: 6’2

Hair color: Brown

Eye color: Brown

Age: 24

Fun Fact: originally named Huck

(The following takes place before the start of Escape from Harrizel. Note – it has not been professionally edited, nor beta-read, but most definitely filled with love for the characters and story. Enjoy!)

***

TUCKER’S NEW ROLE

Tucker walked back to his room.

Rogue Leader.

He couldn’t believe the title—the responsibility—now belonged to him. Never in a million years would he have thought this would be the outcome. Rox stepping back? Him stepping in? No way. No way was this ever supposed to happen. He’d only gone over to check up on the guy. It’s not every day your best friend finds his girl fucking another dude. Under normal circumstances, that would merit a night out with drinks. Lots of drinks. And lots of strippers. But they were on Harrizel, and Tucker couldn’t offer Rox any more than a listening ear and some sage advice.

Fuck her.

Forget her.

Move on.

It might take a while, but Rox would eventually get past Ansley. Tucker always suspected the Rogue Leader’s feelings to be lukewarm at best.

Still.

The humiliation was what the Kings planned. It was exactly what they wanted to see happen: the head of their rival Clan crippled with hurt and embarrassment, so much that he couldn’t lead, so much that everything would fall apart beneath him. Loss of pride will do that to a guy.

But this? A hiatus?

Tucker ran a hand through his dark hair. Rogue Leader. Every Client reporting to every Scout, reporting to every Rogue, reporting to every RC, reporting to him? Could he even handle the role? Was someone like him even capable of maintaining that kind of order? But it wasn’t like he was new to the responsibility. Rox had been passing orders onto Tucker to delegate for a while. Rox was still Rogue Leader, but Tucker was second in command. The right wing. The go-to should anything happen to the Big Boss. But now he’d be the head honcho. They wouldn’t be addressing Rox as Rogue Leader—they’d be addressing him with the title.

Tucker sighed at the blonde boy waiting by his door.

Only the RCs—Rogue Commanders—could know before Rox made the official announcement. Sometimes Jace annoyed the hell out of him, but right then, the new Rogue Leader couldn’t think of a person he’d rather share the news with.

“How’s our boy?” The Recruitment Commander asked, genuine concern pulling at his smiling features.

Tucker punched in different symbols on his door and it flew back, into his room. He motioned inside and Jace followed. As his guest made himself comfortable, Tucker closed the door. Turning, he folded his arms over his chest and let out a breath. Once he said it, there was no going back. Rox would be out of the role and Tucker… Tucker would be in charge.

“He wants me to be Rogue Leader.”

The smile dropped from Jace’s face. “You’re kidding.”

No answer.

Confusion pinched the blonde boy’s brows. He opened his mouth and then closed it again, a million thoughts crashing into one another. “But, but he—”

“He told me himself.”

“Because of Ansley?”

“Because of Ansley,” Tucker nodded, his eyes narrowing into a glare. “And that fucktard Walker.”

“He can’t be serious. I mean, come on—Rox not lead the Rogues?” He chuckled nervously. “It’s insane. No offense to you but he’s… he’s Rox. He’s—”

“I know.”

“He’s not thinking clearly.” Jace shook his head, denial in every motion. Running his fingers through his short yellow locks, ideas bounced behind his anxious eyes. “We’ll help him. We’ll get him some new tail and he’ll—”

“Pretty sure he’s sworn it off,” Tucker stared. “For good.”

Jace lowered his brow to his palms. Silence stretched between them, tangible and intense. It wasn’t like the blonde RC to keep this quiet. Normally he was the first to throw out a joke, even in the tensest of situations. But this—Rox taking a hiatus from the Rogues—there was nothing funny about it. And if this was how Jace was reacting, Tucker had a pretty good idea how the rest of it might go.

After a long moment, Jace lifted his head. “Then this is for real?”

The new Rogue Leader nodded.

“So what does it mean?”

What did it mean? It was the one thing Tucker had been trying to figure out since Rox told him the news. And even as he was explaining his decision—how it wouldn’t affect the new Rogue Leader the way he thought it might—Tucker had the same question playing on repeat. Not just for himself and his duty to the Rogues. But to the entire market. To their whole way of life.

What did it mean that the leader of the Rogues was stepping back?

Tucker let out the breath he’d been holding. He didn’t want to admit to it, but Jace asked the question, which meant the others would as well. And as the new Rogue Leader, it was up to Tucker to provide the answer. It’d be on him now.

For the foreseeable future… all of it would be on him.

“It means the Kings succeeded,” his mouth tightened. “And that’s something I’m never going to let happen again.”

***

Now, if I was allowed to cast this character, I would choose Bob Morley.

Ahem:

 

What do you think? Who would you cast to play the new Rogue Leader? And are there any scenes from the first book that you’d like to see?

Escape from Harrizel is the first book in the Arizal Wars series. Crusade Across Worlds releases June 1st 2016!

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