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#TBT – Magnolia’s very first draft

Taking a brief break from finishing up the third book in the Magnolia Kelch series (no, I still don’t have an official release date other than Fall 2014 – sorry!) I thought a little Throwback Thursday fun was in order.

Below is the very, very first draft of NO PEACE FOR THE DAMNED’s prologue. And when I say very, very first draft, I’m talking spelling errors and over description – all the messy glory that was the first thing I had ever attempted to write.

So be kind, and enjoy. 🙂

The room was vast. Vast enough that if someone spoke too loudly, they might unconsciously wait for the beginnings of an echo. The opulently high ceilings were just this side of cavernous and the thick, dark curtained walls were embedded with a swirling design that hinted at movement underneath. Too vast for a bedroom. Or so most would think.
Dusk light snuck in through the floor-to-ceiling windows that made up the southern facing wall, leaving a cruel checker board pattern across the adjacent eastern wall. The room was cold as if the light and warmth it brought were both too scared to enter the room.
Magnus’ face was partially hidden in the lines of the checker board but his wide eyes were clear to his wife as he gazed down on the angelic newborn child.
Unexpected emotions filled his soul.
He had once heard fairy tales of fathers who beamed in wonderment at the first sight of their new child, an overwhelming sense of purpose or protectiveness, or even love, washing over them.
Magnus had never been one to tolerate such benign emotions.
Images of his other children swam through his mind. He recalled looking down on each of them for the first time, recognizing his regal brow or his strong jawline in those infant faces. He had beheld each of them not with love or pride, but with a sense of accomplishment. His line would continue. Another great success achieved.
But peering down at the glowing babe in his arms, still wet from the journey into the world, his breath caught suddenly in his throat. His stomach knotted in an unfamiliar sensation, tightening to the point of nausea. It was something he hadn’t felt since the decades before he and his brothers had created their monsterous empire. He felt fear.
The child’s beauty was beyond breath taking, beyond description. On one level, that had of course been expected. All of Magnus’ children were exceptionally, naturally beautiful. His sons, sculpted movie star handsome and his daughter had been known to cause runway models to turn away in self conscious shame.
This child was more. It was like this child was beauty itself.
But it was the power and not the beauty, the overwhelming vibrating power that radiated off the newborn that churned Magnus’ insides. The supernatural energy within the baby was so fiercely pure it actually poured out from its soul, causing the perfect infant’s skin to literally glow. It was like the sun shone only on this child.
It was just as his brother Maxwell had always warned. If Magnus sought to continue their potent line, a child could be created whose power would surpass them all. Power to threaten everything.
Magnus’ swallow burned against the lump in his throat.
The energy coming off this baby … the possibilities were endless. The power, limitless.
With stoic hands, Magnus woodenly placed the child back in his wife’s eager arms. As he did, the baby’s eyes blinked open.
Deep blue irises encompassed the pupil, drowning out nearly all the white around the edges. Those eyes, they were as vibrant as they were sharp. Those eyes had no need to search the room, no desire to take in the brightness of the world. Instead they controlled their focus the moment their lids parted. Those eyes, blue as the darkest part of the sea, looked directly into Magnus’ face.
He froze, held immobile by the overwhelming influence in those searing infant eyes.
There was no crying, no cooing. No expression at all. Just those eyes, holding in them a look, a wisdom that let Magnus know that this child knew exactly what he was, knew the fear inside him.
Magnus took a full minute to catch his breath. He was forced to call upon his own energy to tear himself away from the infant’s stare. That he had to pull from his supernatural powers to simply look away only burned the knowledge deeper within him.
With pained effort he shut his eyes tight then crossed the room on the doctor’s gasp. On the inhale he was at his wife’s bedside, by the exhale he was at the intricately carved door of his master suite, a framed shadow on the other side of the vast room. Magnus braced himself against the elaborate doorjamb for barely a moment before recovering himself. Only his wife would notice.
Head high in the stately posture he carried flawlessly, the back of his suit jacket was checker boarded as his face had been just moments ago. He paused long enough to address the enormous muscled guards keeping watch over the delivery.
“Kill them both.”
Magnus never turned back to his wife. He simply walked away, as he had walked away from so many other orders given, confident in its immediate execution. He walked away from his suite and took a deep, calming breath. Never again would he need to think on this moment.

I

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Update on the next Mag book

I’ve received several requests for updates on the next Magnolia book.  Well, here you go: I am currently in the process of writing the third book with the hopes of sending it to edit by mid-Spring.  Depending on the edit process, that mean the release date will most likely be sometime in Fall/Winter 2014.

Sorry I don’t have more specifics but please know that as soon as I have a more, I’ll be sure to share.  I promise!

That being said, I want to give a little fore-warning of what’s to come.  As an author, I am in a very different place writing this third book than I was when I wrote the first two.  I’m looking to take some serious risks with both the content and the publishing of this next book.  *shivering with nerves and anticipation over here!*

Like, I said, I’ll be sure to keep you posted as things progress and in the meantime, thank you!  For the feedback, for reading Magnolia’s books, for the reviews, for everything – just, thank you!!

Many thanks to you, 2013!!

Blessings, love and gratitude to all of those who followed Magnolia’s adventure through 2013 with NO LOVE FOR THE WICKED and who discovered her journey this year in NO PEACE FOR THE DAMNED! 😀  Your feedback and support have been nothing short of incredible!!

I am pleased to be working on Magnolia’s third installment, currently looking to be released in September/October 2014. Snippets, teasers, playlists and edit news will be shouted from the rooftops whenever I have the chance.

Until then, enjoy the fresh start that a New Year brings. 2014 has the potential of being the most amazing year yet and I can’t wait to start the adventure!

The last of the prequels

Well, here it is: the last of the NO PEACE FOR THE DAMNED prequel chapters.  If you want to catch up on the previously posted prequel chapters, check them out here.

I hope you enjoy them and blessings to you as we bring in this wonderful season of Thanksgiving!!

Chapter 4

After I’d parked the car, I’d raced upstairs and started packing.  How pathetic was it that my entire wardrobe fit into the black backpack Thirteen had bought for me after the new year?  I looked up to the small camera hidden behind one of the drape rod finials.  I wasn’t upset about leaving this place – it had never been mine anyway.  Hell, I’d barely slept the whole time I was here.

I felt Thirteen appear in the doorway.  Crap.  I should have never shown him all that stuff.  But he’d been right – I wasn’t free of my family.  They were in every thought and feeling I had.  I turned to face him.  His enormous frame took up the entire doorway.  He hadn’t spoken at all during the drive back to the safe house.  Seeing him now, a strange anxiety crept into my throat.

“We need to talk, Magnolia.”

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

“Your family is different from other supernaturals, aren’t they?  The Russians your father mentioned – the fire-starters – most individuals with supernatural abilities are like that; one power, one supernatural ability.  But your family is different. ”

I shoved another shirt into my pack.  I so didn’t want to go where this conversation was headed.

“Where does your power come from, Magnolia?”

I shrugged.  “I don’t know.”

“Did your grandparents have powers like yours?  Your mother?”

I clenched my fists.  “Damn it, Thirteen, I don’t know!  My mother was a weak-minded moron, so no, I can’t imagine she ever had powers of her own.  And Grandmother was a power hungry bitch, but no, she didn’t have any supernatural abilities either.”

“You met your grandmother? Our records say that she died before you were born.”

“She died right after I was born.  And I saw her a lot in the rest of my family’s memories.”

“Your Grandfather then,” he said more to himself than to me.  “Your powers most likely came from your father’s father.  We have no record of him.”

“Join the club.”

“You never met him or saw him in your father’s or uncles’ memories?”

“No one ever met him.  I mean, obviously Grandmother did, but no one else ever knew anything about him.”

“Interesting.”

Whatever.  I went back to my bag.

It was a long moment before he spoke again.  “They punished you because they fear you,” he said quietly.

I froze mid-pack.  “They tortured me because they hate me.”

“There is a fine line between fear and hatred, Magnolia.  Especially for powerful men.”

I shoved another shirt into my bag. “I know what fear is, Thirteen.  It’s debilitating and consuming until it becomes a part of who you are.”

“Is that how you felt?”

“It’s how I feel now.”

He stepped into the room.  My breath turned shaky.  Damn it! Why did I react to his concern like this?

“Why you?” he asked.  “From what you showed me, your brothers were in attendance when you were being dealt severe violence at the hands of your father.  And yet neither brother ever seemed concerned about his own safety.”

I jerked the zipper closed on my bag and went to the dresser to gather my toiletries.  “They never touched Malcolm or Markus.  I mean, they were slapped around some when they screwed up or something, but they can’t heal like I can.  Malcolm breaks an arm and it stays broken for weeks.  It doesn’t do much for honing Uncle Max’s torture skills – I mean, interrogation skills – when your test dummy is always broken.  Not to mention, a punching bag that shatters every time you hit it isn’t exactly prime stress-release material.”

I fumbled through my soaps and lotions.  “But they do hate me.  Real hatred, like you or any other normal person couldn’t possibly understand.”

“But why?  You all have extraordinary powers.”

“No one has powers like mine.  I can’t be killed.  No matter what they did to me, no matter how hard they tried, I always lived.”

Thirteen inclined his head.  “You were their first failure.”

I turned to face him.  “I am their only failure.”

This brought out a serious frown over his wide face.  “The Network has thwarted a great deal of the terrorist-like activity that your father and the senator have attempted.  In fact, just last summer, our Liberian operatives confiscated a massive shipment of unauthorized weapons Senator Kelch was secretly transporting to guerilla forces trying to gain a footing.  It was a major blow to the Senator’s weapons’ network.”

Poor Thirteen.  I almost didn’t want to tell him the truth.

“I remember that confiscated shipment.” It was one of the few occasions when Uncle Max actually took a turn on me – he’d brought out the heirloom knives if I remembered correctly.  “And Uncle Max was totally put out … for about fifteen minutes.  But it was hardly a failure, Thirteen.  He hopped a plane that night, flew to Africa and got all the weapons back.  I remember because he brought back some kind of wine that Uncle Mallroy wanted for his goats when he returned the next day.”

Thirteen shook his head hard even as he pulled out his cell phone.  “That’s impossible.  I would have known if the shipment had been removed from its secured location.”

“Not if your operatives still think the weapons are there.”  When he paused, I tapped my forehead.  “Memories aren’t the only thing I can telepathically project into your mind.  If Uncle Max wanted the people guarding the weapons to think they were still there, then that’s what they think.”

For a long moment he just stood there.  I took my lotions and other stuff over to my bag and shoved them in the front pocket.  There – all packed.  Now what?

Thirteen snapped his phone shut and stood straighter, getting all serious.  “I have a proposition for you.”

“Aren’t you going to check the weapons?  See if I’m telling the truth?”

“You have no reason to lie to me, and I will check the shipment in a few moments.  But first, I’d like you to consider working for me.”

Okay, it was my turn to frown now.  “Like what? Answer your phone and shit? Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“I’d like you to be an informant for the Network.  Specifically, I’d like you to educate a specially designed task force on the abilities and motivations of your father and uncles.  And your siblings, as well, if you believe them to be a potential threat.”

My jaw hit the ground.  Power swelled inside me.  “I can’t.”

“Why not?  You’ve shown me your powers.”

Not all of them, but whatever.  “That’s different.  You already knew who I was, you were helping me.”

“Most of the Network knows who your family is, Magnolia.”  His eyes turned sad.  “Do you want to protect them?  I suppose can understand that – abusive or not, they are all the family you’ve ever known.”

“No, I don’t want to protect them.” Was he crazy?  “They can protect themselves.  But I can’t talk about their powers – like give you details and stuff.  I just can’t.”

I shifted my feet, my body aching in remembered punishments from the times I’d slipped up as a child.  When I asked my brothers’ tutor why she didn’t speak with her thoughts the way Father and my uncles did, or when I questioned the stable hands why it took five of them to lift the farm equipment that Uncle Mallroy could lift on his own.  I been punished enough to learn that lesson well – people could speculate all they wanted, but we didn’t talk about Father’s and my uncles’ powers.  Ever.

He took a step closer, just to the opposite side of the bed, my packed duffle bag between us.  “There’s more to what I’m asking than you might think, Magnolia.  You would be an unparalleled source of information – there’s no denying that.  And your existence would still be protected.  Only a select group of agents would ever know who you are.”

Yeah, right.  “Sure, and as soon as one of those agents was captured by family guards, Uncle Max would strip their mind and Father would know I was alive.  Thanks, but no thanks.”  Even as I said the words, though, my resolve wavered.

“You need this,” he said, his voice getting stronger.  “You’ve already taken the first step – you escaped.  You’ve taken time to adjust to your freedom, but there is still so much fear inside you.  Working with me will be another step in helping you rid yourself of that fear.  You need this, Magnolia.”

Okay, let’s just think about this a moment.  On one hand, he was right – I had escaped, but I wasn’t really free.  Father’s nurture fear was still deep inside me, affecting every thought or move I made.  On the other hand, the idea of working against Father and Uncle Max made me sick to my stomach.

I closed my eyes and let my power swell inside me.  I had choices now.  Control over my powers, control over my decisions, and in the case of talking to Thirteen’s Network, control over how much information I gave.  I looked back across the bed to Thirteen.  So patient, so accepting.  Even now, after violating his mind with those horrible images, he was still giving me a choice rather than forcing information from me.  It made me want to cry.  Damn it.

“What exactly do you want me to do?”


Gearing up for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner and my publisher is gearing up for the spooky holiday by offering some scary-cool deals on Magnolia’s books!

(Gotta love cheesy promotional tag-lines.)  Anyway, here you go:

10/3-11/1 – No Peace for the Damned is featured in a UK Horror/Thriller event. Customers will be able to purchase No Peace for the Damned and other select ASINs for £1 each.

10/4-11/4 – No Peace for the Damned is also included in a national AmazonLocal deal. The deal will allow AmazonLocal mobile customers to secure a voucher that is valid for buying up to 50 selected Kindle books for $0.99 each. If you are an Amazon Local customer, check out the offer here.

10/26 – No Peace for the Damned will be also be included in an exclusive Amazon Local daily promotion so look for the email on this special deal.

10/1-10/31 – Finally, check out No Love for the Wicked which is currently on sale for Kindles at $1.99.

Thank you so much for buying, reading, reviewing, and mentioning these books! In addition to these promotions, know that you are getting extra air-hugs from me all month long! XOXO

 

 

NO PEACE FOR THE DAMNED – Something extra :)

As a ‘Welcome’ to my new followers here and everywhere else, and as a “Thank you” to all who have taken the time to review my books, here is another deleted chapter from NO PEACE FOR THE DAMNED.

A little background, this is the third of four added chapters that gave a bit more background to how Magnolia came to rely so much on Thirteen and his opinions of her.  During the final edit, it was decided that these chapters weren’t necessary as we wanted to get to the heart of the story a bit faster.  If you missed the first two deleted chapters, you can check them out here.

In this chapter, Magnolia is finally learning how to drive.  It doesn’t quite go as smoothly as everyone had hoped. 😉

NO PEACE

Chapter 3

The next weekend I sat in the driver’s seat of Thirteen’s car, my hands white-knuckling the steering wheel.  I tried to calm down but couldn’t.

“What just happened, Magnolia?”

My heart pounded so loudly in my ears I barely heard him.  “He recognized me, Thirteen.  That man back there.  He recognized me.”

Thirteen turned in his seat to look back at the crosswalk.  I’d pulled to the curb and from the rearview mirror I could see the guy staggering, holding his head while his friends helped him back to the sidewalk.  He wiped at his face.  Blood streamed from his nose, I could see it dripping onto his suit jacket from here.  Damn it! 

“What did you do to him?” Thirteen’s voice was low.  His trying-not-to-pass-judgment-but-still-disapproving voice.

“That man, Jeremy Jefferson, he came to the estate for Father’s holiday party last year.  It was only a few weeks before I escaped.  When he saw me through the windshield just now, he recognized me.”

“What did you do to him, Magnolia?”

I adjusted my grip, shifted in my seat.  “Nothing, okay?  I just erased my image from his mind.  That’s all.”

“Then why did he collapse.  Why is he still bleeding from his sinuses?”

I glanced in the rearview mirror again.  His friends had moved him to a nearby bench.  One was on his cell phone, calling their doctor friend before taking Jeremy to the ER.

“So, maybe I was a little too … forceful.  I didn’t mean to.  He surprised me.”  Thirteen cocked a brow.  My hackles rose.  “I won’t have people recognizing me, Thirteen.  It was my choice to stay around here – I get that – but Father and my family think I’m dead.  I’ll kill before I let anyone tell them differently.”

I kept my eyes on Jeremy as he tilted his head back to try and stop the nosebleed.  Thirteen’s gaze was a heavy weight on the side of my face. “Then you aren’t really free at all, are you?”

I spun in my seat and glared at him.  “Of course I’m free.  I escaped.  I’m here aren’t I?”

“But you are still holding on to the notion of fleeing.  You are still hiding.”

“You’re the one hiding me!”

“Not the way I was.  Banks comes over regularly now; I’ve returned the house cameras to their functioning purpose, completed paperwork on your stay at the safe house.  Granted, I’ve used your alias, but you’re like anyone else under Network protection now.”

The radio popped as a lash of power slipped past my control.  Thirteen barely flinched.

“What do you want me to do?” I shouted.  “Just announce to the world who I am?  You don’t know anything!  You think because you have these files and research on my family, that you have a clue who we really are.  You know nothing!”

“Then explain it to me, Magnolia.”

“You don’t want to know.”

“It’s about you.  Of course, I want to know.”

I narrowed my eyes at him.  “Okay, fine. You really want to know?  Fine, I’ll show you.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

His brows scrunched together.  “What do you mean you’ll show –“

I drilled the memories into his mind without warning.  In a dual image, I saw Thirteen’s face contort with shock and confusion at the same time I saw a younger version of my father enter his study at the estate.

“What is your problem?” Father hissed while the guards stood over me. Father wore one of his many custom business suits, while the three burly men were dressed in the black camo that all estate guards wore.  Their hands and faces were splattered with fresh blood.

The biggest one stood at attention.  “I’m sorry, sir, but all of our efforts have been unsuccessful.”

            Father waved his hand.  The giant guard flew across the room, slamming hard into the study wall before falling unconscious to the Aubusson covered floor.  “I’ll do it myself,” Father snarled.

            His eyes looked down on me with disgust.  As I watched, his face changed.  There was no shifting of features or popping of bones, but his expression went cold, dark – like he had just pulled on a mask that took his regal cheekbones and icy blue eyes and covered his handsomeness with something terrifying.  I felt myself cower instinctively.  Then his hands were around my throat.  His fingers and thumbs overlapped because my infant neck was so tiny.  His teeth ground together as his grip tightened.  The pain was shocking.  The burn of my lungs, excruciating.  My eyes ached as dark red filled my vision.  Unconsciousness took me as Father’s fingers cut through the skin at my neck.

            His hands were still on me when I opened my eyes again, but the terrifying mask was gone.  His eyes grew so wide I could see the white all the way around his expanding pupils. 

“Is there a problem?”  Uncle Max’s drawl came from somewhere nearby.  Father’s face shut down.  His posture took on that arrogant stance that would later become his trademark in the business world.

“No problem, Maxwell,” he said smoothly.  “Just a change in plans.”

I warned you this would happen.  Uncle Max’s voice was different this time.  Further away.

We’ll harness her, Father replied in an equally faraway tone.  Transfuse her blood into ours.  I’ll need to test her first, see what other abnormalities she might have, but her blood will only grow our strength.

And if her powers can’t be harnessed?

Father glared down at me again, that terrifying mask back in place.  No one can heal everything. He turned with a flourish and left me, staring at the ceiling, struggling to breath past the pain of resurrection.

Thirteen blinked, took a steadying breath.  I didn’t care.  I wasn’t done with this little show and tell.  I pushed more memories into him, knocking him back against the passenger door.

Straps, chains, blood, pain – again and again, always more pain.  Always Father’s terrifying face.  Over the years, too many failed attempts to end my life had changed the mask.  There was rage over the darkness now.  A hatred so pure, so evil, that no normal human being could contain it.  His powers fed off of it.

I slowed the flow of memories and brought to surface one where I was being whipped, blood dripping down my face into my hair as I hung upside down over a drain in one of the horse barns.  Through the pain I saw my two brothers, hiding in the shadows, watching.  Malcolm smirked at the sight of me.  Markus cowered.

“Mallroy is going to throw a fit about your messing one of his horse stalls again,” Uncle Max said.  I was a young child now, old enough to recognize the difference between their spoken voices and their telepathic ones.  The black suit he’d worn for the election celebration hung perfectly over his middle aged physique.  His thoughts were particularly smug – the minds of his constituents had so easily fallen prey to his mental manipulations.  He’d won by a landslide.  Now, he was in the mood for some entertainment.

Father stood back, eying me with a clinical detachment.  The barbed whip hung loosely in his hand.  He’d rolled up his shirt sleeves after the party but it hadn’t kept my blood and flesh from splattering all over him.  He ran the back of his wrist along his brow trailing a slash of red in its wake.

“Look at her,” Father said baring his teeth.  “So fucking defiant.  It’s like those blasted gypsies all over again.  Thinking they were powerful enough to muscle us out of the Russian weapons deal.  Fucking fire-starters.  And she’s even worse!  You know she doesn’t even cry out anymore at the whips?  Hardly even worth the time to come out here.”

Uncle Max stepped closer to me.  I flinched automatically.  He smiled. 

He grabbed my hair and held my head in place.  “You’ll have to be especially creative if you want to break her again.  After all, she isn’t like the other supernaturals we have to deal with on occasion.  She’s one of us.”  Only more so in some ways, aren’t you little Magnolia?  His thoughts whispered to himself.  What is it inside you that allows our blood to grow so much stronger? I stared into his eyes, not moving, not reacting at all.  His smile vanished as his eyes narrowed.

Heat pressed against my forehead – the familiar prelude to Uncle Max’s aggressive telepathy.   Instantly, I focused my thoughts. I could feel his powers as they scrubbed the inside of my mind – scraping at my thoughts like nails on a chalkboard.  I made sure he saw all the fear, all the pain.  Dear Lord, how much more pain could they entice?  When he finally pulled back, that small smile had returned. With a toss of my hair he pushed me back.  The room spun, the hooks through my heels that dangled me from the ceiling pulled against the tendons. I bit my tongue until I tasted blood just to keep from screaming.

“Try heating up the barbs before you use the whips,” Uncle Max suggested as he strolled away from me.  “She wants to know how much more pain you can actually entice.  Apparently, she hopes to challenge you.”

I closed my eyes.  Father roared.

The memory faded until the sound of Thirteen’s sobs were all that filled the car. He was white as a sheet.  Both hands covered his face – it would be a while before he’d be able to speak again.  I glanced in the rearview mirror.  Jeremy and his friends had moved on, probably to the nearest MedCheck to make sure he wasn’t hemorrhaging or something.

I ignored my shaking hands and started the car.  No point staying around here.  Something told me Thirteen wasn’t in the mood to finish our driving lesson.

As I pulled into the street, Uncle Max’s words echoed in my ears.  After all, she is one of us.  Thirteen had wanted to know about me and my family?  Well, there it was.  We were evil.  Power, hate, pain – it was in our blood.  And whether I’d participated in their violent criminal acts or not, I was one of them.  Even Uncle Max acknowledged that much.

Just a little gratitude

I just wanted to take a moment and say Thank You to everyone who has read No Peace for the Damned and No Love for the Wicked.  It boggles my morning every day when I reach that moment of realization (usually about halfway through my second cup of coffee) that not only have these small pieces of my mind’s world been put to print, but that there are people out there who have actually read the words – my words – that make up these characters and stories.  You have no idea what that means to me.

I’d also like to send a big, huge, mega THANK YOU to anyone who has ever taken the time to rate or review my books.  Good, bad, indifferent – taking those few moments to tell the world, “Hey,I read this” is truly the life breath of a writer.

So basically, you are all incredibly awesome people who have totally made a difference in my life.  Thank you.