I want to thank Dottie for the opportunity to reach out to her blog readers today.
I sat down prepared to write something perky, ending with a few self-congratulatory statements about my book, Dark Time: Mortal Path Book 1. Instead I found myself in a more reflective mood. So stay with me and I promise a treat at the end.
I'm one of those people who had a lifelong urge to write and knew from the age of eight that I'd be a writer someday. That was the year I wrote a 200 word short story and had it published in the school newspaper. Wow, my first byline! I slept with that story under my pillow until it got tattered and smeared (mimeographs were used at that time). It must have been a health hazard, because one morning the story was gone and a quarter was left its place. My mother talked nonsense about the story fairy, but I was convinced it was my first paid writing. I was a pro, and the only thing I had to work on was a higher payment per word and maybe getting an agent.
I was swept up by life after that. Science and computer studies, college, marriage, a career, a couple of adopted sons. The dream never died, though. I kept waiting for the "perfect" time to devote myself to long days and weeks of writing, and naturally something always came up to cause me to put it off. I finally learned what all writers have to learn: there is no perfect time. If you wait for it, they'll carve on your gravestone, "She could have been a writer, but the laundry had to be done." When my first son was a toddler and still taking naps (thank God), my inclination was to nap when he did. Oh, how that pillow called to me! Instead, I chained myself to a desk and began writing. Soon I was staying up late or getting up early to add more writing hours. I'd proven to myself it could be done, and the timing was anything but perfect. Did I mention I was juggling a full-time job as a computer consultant working from home and being a wife, too? Sacrifices had to be made. Watching TV? What's that? A social life? Family time came first.
Six suspense novels later, I let go of the security blanket of continuing with the same type of book. I was at a point where I wanted to try something new, to move into the paranormal genre, and I had an idea for a series that had been building up inside to the point that I couldn't shove it into the background. I had to write it. I was starting to inhabit my protagonist, Maliha Crayne, like an actress immersed in method acting.
Most new writers experience a lot of angst in their search for a first agent. So imagine what it's like to fire one! That's the first thing I did, so I could search for a higher-profile agency. It was like stepping off a giant cliff. I was in freefall with no agent, no contract, and only a new, unconventional idea to offer. There were so many times that I doubted what I had done and berated myself for firing an agent. Was I nuts? What if no one liked the concept of the Mortal Path series except me? And an even deeper fear: what if my writing couldn't stand up to the competition in an already-crowded urban fantasy/paranormal thriller genre?
It took six really scary months to find a new agent. Whew. Thanks for listening as I relived all this. You're a good audience! Somehow I went from age eight to the present in a few paragraphs, complete with some soul-baring. I'm not destined to write an autobiography—it would be too short to publish!
Now for the treat. Here's an excerpt from Mortal Path Book Two, Sacrifice, coming next year. It's from the middle of the book. Thanks again to Dottie for inviting me!
When Maliha woke, she was half-reclined on a chaise lounge in a sunroom overlooking a grand view of forested hillsides. The sun glinted on water in the distance, with a hazy area that might be land to one side.
Lucius was sitting on the edge of the next lounge, looking over at her. When he saw that she was awake, he spoke.
"Please enjoy my hospitality."
She sat up abruptly and faced him. She was wearing a soft, flowing green gown that was the opposite of her killing outfit in every way. It didn't escape her that somewhere between killing outfit and gown, there must have been a nude stage. That riled her. If she was going to get naked with a guy, she didn't want to sleep through it.
"I don't suppose you had your wife change my clothes and give me a bath."
He blinked. "I don't have a wife, or any female but you, here."
"I thought so. You kidnapped me and stripped me," she said, with disbelief and anger fighting for control of her voice. "Whatever you did, you were cowardly enough to do it to an unconscious woman." She pursed her lips. "Where am I?"
"I didn't do anything to you but make you clean and comfortable. If you don't like this gown, I can take you to where there are others choices. You are on my island home in the Mediterranean Sea. I said I wanted answers from you, and short of torture, this seemed to be the best way to get your attention."
Maliha looked around. She could see olive trees nearby, with their evergreen leaves and gnarled trunks. Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. Or Chicago, either.
She shook her head and regretted it. Dizziness made the world swirl around her.
"The dizziness will wear off. It's from the drug. I'm a skilled physician. You needn't worry about any permanent effects."
"You can take your torture and your permanent effects and this gown"—she grabbed a handful of the fabric—"and shove them up your ass. I'm leaving here now." She stood up and the dizziness was worse. Sitting back down, she said, "I'm leaving here in a few minutes. You should know this isn't the Stone Age. You don't knock a woman on the head with your caveman's club, drag her home, and expect cooperation."
"I've taken women without their consent. But I've matured since then."
"That does it. I'm out of here."
She stood up and began to walk away in spite of the dizziness. Instantly he was in front of her, his hand grasping her wrist tightly enough to signal that he wasn't going to let her just swim off the island. Even though it was a restraining move, his touch stirred something in her. There was no denying that she was physically attracted to him. Relaxed in his own home, with the breeze stirring the curtains on long windows, patches of sunlight on tile floors, and the scent of the Mediterranean in the air, he wore loose shorts and nothing else. She could see the mark of his demon on his chest, faintly pulsing with power.
"I wish you'd stop doing that," she said. "I never did anything that annoying when I was Ageless. Are you going to let me leave?"
"I'd rather you didn't."
His grip on her wrist loosened and his hand slid up her arm all the way to her bare shoulder, leaving an invisible trail of sexual sparks.
"We're not finished," he said. "In fact we haven't even started. You haven't answered my questions about your rogue status. Plus I … " He paused and gave her a slow, appreciative look down her body and back up again, ending by gazing directly into her eyes. He had expressive brown eyes, and at the moment they were expressing passion.
Maliha's legs felt a little weak and warmth radiated from low in her abdomen. He could turn on a rock.
His hand on her shoulder strayed and swept slowly across her body just above where her breasts filled the soft gown. He was very close to her now, close enough to bend and kiss her shoulder. Then his arm moved around her waist and he pulled her against him.
Whoa, girl, don't forget this is a demon's servant and a stone-cold killer. I think it's time to toss a little cold water. Remember that business about taking women without their consent.
She raised her knee to strike his groin, but he caught her leg and gave it a painful jerk. She ended up on her back on the marble floor. He offered her a hand up. She took it, planted both of her feet into his hard, flat belly, and flipped him over her head. He never made it to the floor in a body flop as intended. He twisted like a cat in mid-air, landed on his feet, and ended with a move that left her arm and shoulder half a second way from breaking. She rotated on the floor to face him, taking the pressure off her limb.
"So you like to play," she said. "I've done this cat-and-mouse thing with another demon's slave and he came out the worse for it. Don't think I can't do the same to you."
His face, so warm and welcoming just seconds ago, had taken on a look that frightened her. She thought of all the murderous power contained in his body, no matter how attractive the packaging.
"You are mistaken if you think a cat and a mouse are in this room. A tiger and a mouse are here, and I see no stripes on you."
The words were delivered coldly. She'd switched off both his good will and his lust.
He pulled her up from the floor, gathered her gown in his fist and kept lifting, holding her a foot up in the air with one hand. Lucius brought her to within an inch of his face and paused there. She expected to be flung backwards with murderous force.
Thanks Dakota for being here today, it's been an honor! And you're welcome to come back anytime.
All I can say is WOW, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Sacrifice: Mortal Path Book Two! I have so many questions that need to be answered!
Now for the giveaway! The wonderful Dakota Banks not only gave us her words of wisdom and the treat of the excellent excerpt from Sacrifice: Mortal Path Book Two, but she's willing to giveaway a copy of Dark Time: Mortal Path Book One to one lucky commenter.
So, here are the rules:
1. Leave a comment or a question for Dakota, we'd really enjoy hearing from you and she'll be stopping by throughout the day (please include your email address, it will make it easier to track down the winner!).
2. This is an international giveaway, if you have an address on this planet, (hmmm I'll have to check on extra planetary visitors), you are welcome to enter.
3. If you follow this blog, you can have an extra entry. (Don't feel you have to follow. You still get the original entry.)
4. If you spread the word about the contest, let me know, and I give you another entry.
5. This contest will run for one week, so on my daughter's birthday (10-15-09), at midnight anywhere, (that means the next morning for me, lol), I'll let randomizer draw a winner.
6. Most importantly, have fun!!
That's it....nothing difficult.....so start commenting and good luck!