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New Release ~ Firestorm (Heart of a Vampire, #5) is here!

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Firestorm (Heart of a Vampire, Book 5)

Release Date: 11/13/2013

       Buy From    Amazon     B&N     Apple

Coming soon to: Smashwords    Kobo    

A Viking vampire must face his tortuous past to save the woman who holds the key to his future.

Eric Wulfgar escapes from twisted dreams, only to find they have followed him into reality. Feeling like a shell of the man he once was, his king’s orders to help a New Orleans vampire clan might require more than he can give. But he has no choice to leave the shadows and return to the living.

Cat Bienville is frantic. Something strange is stalking the vampires of New Orleans. When the missing turn up dead with no explanation and her sire goes missing, she runs out of options. Left in charge of her coven, her duty is to keep her people safe. Only, she’s not prepared for help to come in the form of a chauvinistic male with a tattered soul.

When friends may be foes, Cat and Eric must find balance with one another in order to unveil the evil in their midst, even as a bigger threat darkens the horizon. Yet, Cat’s past may fracture their growing love. For how can she give Eric her heart, when her deepest secret may be more than he can ever accept?

Buy From    Amazon     B&N     Apple

Excerpt

Trapped.

Caught in the deepest recesses of his mind, Eric Wulfgar curled on an ice-cold stone floor. So very cold it seeped into his bones.

And pain.

Eternal agony ate at his limbs, into his very soul.

Laughter rang out from the unending darkness, so sweet and musical it should have warmed him. Instead it chilled him to his core. Fear shuddered through him as he realized where he must be. Her dungeon.

From the nothingness, a ball of light appeared. He blinked against the brightness. As his vision focused, he stared at his nightmare come back to life. The glowing orb highlighted long crimson hair framing an angelic face. Lines of cruelty etched around her shining green eyes and laughing red lips.

He stared at the sorceress, unbelieving, uncomprehending. She had killed his family, then captured him and his twin brother long ago.

He would not give in to the whimper building in his dry throat. The memories of this place and his time here with her, had been buried, locked so deeply he’d thought them gone. He’d not been forced to face them in a millennia.

Biting his tongue, he savored the coppery tang of blood filling his mouth, but it was faint, as if none of this was truly real. As he struggled to escape, she laughed harder. It was too late. He had no strength left.

And he cursed himself for such weakness.

Shadows crawled across the floor. Invisible hands grabbed him, flipping him onto his stomach, and yanking his arms and legs out wide.

Fire whipped along his back, burning from shoulders to knees, as she used her favorite whip–blazing with magical hellfire. Flames licked across his skin, over and over, digging deeper, until he was beyond hoarse and could only scream soundlessly. He welcomed the death hovering just beyond reach.

The lashes stopped.

Senseless from pain, his mind nearly broke as he remembered what came next. The sorceress would never let him die.

Her smooth, soft hands caressed his face and arms. She kissed his neck, her flowery scent making him gag.

“My beasts are hungry,” she murmured in his ear.

He wanted to cry out, to beg her to stop. But he was a warrior. A Viking. He refused to be as weak, as broken as she wanted. He would not bend to her desires.

When he responded with nothing but silence, she hissed, “Fine.”

Clutching his hair, she wrenched his head back, then slapped him. Her nails raked furrows down his cheek. The scent of his blood spiked into the air.

And the monsters came, drawn by their endless hunger. Wolves, bears. Other creatures so grotesque and hard to look at, he couldn’t even begin to name them.

Biting.

Chewing.

Devouring him alive.

Finally, blessed darkness took his mind. For a while, he floated, unfeeling, unthinking.

As always, she forced him to wake. Then the healing began, even more agonizing than the rest. Eric’s mind wavered and he knew he would thankfully soon be lost.

The memories dimmed.

It was a short respite. Another feminine laugh echoed around him, this one childlike yet holding a chilling hint of lunacy.

The vision of the sorceress changed, merging into another memory. Long blonde hair curled around a youthful, innocent face. Fiona’s image was comforting, the twin of his king. She skipped across the dungeon’s stone floor toward him, smiling shyly. Yet, like the sorceress, it was false, hiding pure evil.

More recent evil, he knew, not sure where the thought came from. These memories had never been locked inside that dark well. Instead, they were the force that had shattered the barrier he’d long ago erected to hide the past.

All too soon, the pain resumed. His skin burned. No whip this time. Fiona used shards of rowan wood, one of the few kinds of trees remaining with enough earth magic to hurt the vampire he’d become.

She slid the tip of a dagger beneath his skin, then shoved another sliver of rowan into the wound. She moved down the length of his body, adding long, rough scars to those he’d received millennia ago. His skin burned as if, at any moment, it would melt from the intense agony.

Uncontrollable shudders wracked him from the pain. Nausea followed. He would have vomited if there was anything in his stomach. All he could do was heave until the cramps mixed with the fiery burning from the wooden slivers.

He desperately prayed to Odin, begging to fade back into mindlessness. But release eluded him.

From the surrounding darkness, seemingly so far away he shouldn’t be able to hear, his brother shouted their family war cry.

Fear coursed through Eric as a new vision appeared before him. His brother stood in a strange, dark place. Multicolored lights flashed over Brandon’s angry face. A ball made of thousands of shards of glass dangled from a high ceiling. It spun in circles, shooting refracted light over his brother.

Magic filled the air, trapping Brandon. It stank of the sorceress. As her laughter washed over him, he realized she’d finally come to claim their souls as she’d failed to do long ago.

He had to save his brother. Save them both.

With a cry of rage, he called on his ancestors’ berserker strength. His vision blurred. Finally refocused. Blinking in the dim, flickering candlelight, he worked to sort out his memories and thoughts.

Pain no longer leeched at his body, though he still felt weak as an infant. He lay on something soft, facing a blackened, rock hewn wall that didn’t resemble the sorceress’s hellish dungeon.

“Hush, now. It will be all right,” a woman said softly from behind him.

Strangely, her voice soothed a part of his ragged heart. He cautiously turned. The woman smiled at him, breathtakingly beautiful, with an angelic face and short blonde hair.

His lungs compressed, forcing his breath to rush out. As he clenched his fists, he realized he wasn’t chained. He watched her, hiding his triumph. She would pay for that stupidity.

With a roar, he leapt up and lunged toward her.

“Eric, stop,” the woman commanded.

His body obeyed. More damned sorcery.

“You’re safe,” she said, then began to hum.

He remained locked in place. Slowly, the tune came to him. It had been his mother’s favorite melody, one she’d sung to him and Brandon as children.

His focus cleared and he realized she was neither the sorceress, nor his king’s sister. Her short blonde hair was streaked with… pink stripes? Her eyes drew him in, mesmerizing, calming his rage.

“That’s right,” she whispered. “No one will hurt you here.”

“Where’s my brother?” His voice was a hoarse croak.

“My name is Dalia. Do you remember me?”

He tried to shake his head, but still couldn’t move. An overpowering urge filled him. Not anger, as expected, but an unfounded, yet undeniable need to protect this woman.

“That’s all right. It will come in time.” She continued to hum and his tense muscles relaxed a little.

Across the room, a door opened, letting in more light. A large man stood silhouetted in shadow. Eric’s instincts screamed. Keep the woman safe at all costs. His duty.

She turned to glance at the intruder, and the magic over Eric slipped. It was all he needed to break free of her spell. He jumped between her and the doorway, crouching to a fighting stance, baring his fangs. He ignored the light-headedness, his body shaking from weakness.

He’d never win this fight.

It didn’t matter. He would do his duty until death took him. From habit, he reached over his shoulder, grasping for his battle-axe, BrynTröll. It wasn’t there.

The man stepped closer, from shadow to light, just as he’d done millennia ago.

Eric dropped one knee to the stone floor, bowing his head. “Sire.” His voice was little more than a choked whisper.

“Thank the gods you’ve returned to us,” his king said. Rough hands grabbed Eric’s arms, pulling him to his feet.

The rush of anger, the need to protect the woman, spilled from him as if he’d been drained of all energy. He slumped against the man, staring into his face. “Jordan,” he whispered.

“Don’t talk. And you shouldn’t be standing.” Jordan half-carried, half-led him back to the bed and pushed him down onto the mattress.

The woman, Dalia, poured a glass of thick, red liquid, then held it to his lips.

The scent of blood hit him and his stomach roared. When he tried to grasp the cup, his hands shook so badly he spilled the warm drink over his chin and chest.

“Let me hold it,” she said kindly.

He drank. The taste–salty, coppery, yet sweet–only inflamed his hunger. He gulped it down.

Needed more.

As if reading his mind, Dalia refilled the cup four times. Finally, the ravenous ache settled to a bearable level. As warmth rushed through his chilled body, his mind grew clearer. The recent past filled the gaps in his memory.

Dalia, his king’s charge. Vampires from their clan disappearing. He’d been following a lead, trying to find them, when it led to a trap.

Kidnapped.

His king’s twin sister, working with other vampires and, strangely, wolf shifters. They’d all taken pleasure in torturing him.

He fisted his hands in his lap, trying to shove the memories away before they engulfed him.

Pushed them back into the dark depths with the rest. Locked them all up tight.

Slowly, they receded, but didn’t go far. Ghostly whispers hovered at the edge of his mind, flickering like images seen from the corner of his vision.

He once more saw his brother facing evil.

“Where’s Brandon?” he asked again, this time stronger.

Jordan sighed. “We have much to discuss. But you’re with us again. Right now, that’s what matters.”

Pain lashed over Eric’s back. There, then gone. He heard laughter, the sound promising more.

Jordan and Dalia didn’t move, didn’t seem to hear anything amiss.

Eric stared at his king, realizing that while he might be awake, his sanity was lost.

***

Two Weeks Later

In the impossibly cold March night air, Cathrina Bienville raced through the edges of the bayou, outside her beloved city of New Orleans. Even with her vamipiric speed–the trees and miniscule glimmers of light from distant plantations flashed by–there didn’t seem to be any way she could win this race.

Behind her, the baying of the chasing wolves grew louder as they closed in.

She tripped over an exposed root and fell, splashing face first into a puddle of bitter brackish swamp. Spitting grit from her mouth, she rose. Snowy mud dripped down the front of her dark sweater and jeans. Appropriate spy attire, she’d figured earlier.

Running once more, Cat tried to breathe deep. The growing ache in her chest screamed from a deeper pain. She prayed her fall hadn’t damaged something internal.

A branch sliced across her cheek, ripped at her long red hair falling from its bun. Strands tumbled in her face, obscuring her vision. She shoved it back, leaves and twigs poking from the tangled mass.

Freezing sweat dripped down her face, stinging her cuts and scrapes. The heady scent of blood surrounded her.

The howls drew ever nearer, making her stomach lurch.

What was supposed to have been simple–checking out a deserted plantation for her missing coven members and hopefully finding her sire–had turned into a dark, breathless flight from at least six wolves.

All of them out for her blood.

Not good odds. Not in her favor anyway.

At least she’d eaten recently. Right before the alarm had sounded, she’d come across a wolf in his human form. Just as he’d swung his blade for her neck, she’d whispered her precious command. Fire rose from the ground around his feet, distracting him long enough for her to sink her fangs into his delectable throat.

The magic from the shifter’s blood, the only thing sustaining her desperate flight, was fading.

She flashed through the trees, dodging claw-like branches that seemed to surge out and try to capture her in their grip. The ground sucked at her shoes with each step.

The scent of magic drifted to her on the icy breeze. Her plantation, and the wards creating a barrier around it. Almost home, yet still seemingly so far.

Howls rent the air. They were so close now, she could hear claws scrabbling over the ground. She tried to push herself faster still.

The world became a blur, filled only by the sounds of her labored breaths, her thundering heartbeat, and the baying of the hounds at her heels. She caught the stench of wolves, wet fur mixed with decaying meat and blood.

The trembling in her legs slowed her pace.

Howls echoed as the pack sensed their prey within striking distance.

She broke through the last line of grasping branches. A few hundred yards ahead, a line of trees stood sentinel at the edge of her land, marking the boundary of the magical barrier.

A wolf snarled, slamming into her back, sending them both tumbling. It snapped its toothy muzzle at her neck. Fetid breath washed over her face.

She punched it in the throat. Clawing its fur, she shoved her last shreds of power into the command. “Incendium.”

Flames erupted from her palm, hungrily spreading over the beast. Its yelp escalated into a screeching wail of agony.

Shoving it aside, Cat rose to her knees. Not twenty feet away, the other wolves crouched. Bulky shadows glared at her with glowing, ice blue eyes.

She raised her arms, though the effort made her dizzy, and held her hands out, palms facing them.

The wolf beside her stilled. Burning hair and flesh wafted on the cold air.

The rest of the pack howled, the sound ear splitting. Then as one, they fell silent, watching her. None advanced.

Not giving them a chance to realize she had no strength left, Cat stood, trying to hide her shakiness. She walked backwards until she reached the barrier.

As she stepped through, magic swept over her skin in a tingling warmth. She lowered her hands and leaned against a tree. The pack approached the fallen wolf, their anguished howls resuming. Cat turned and stumbled over the stretching fields, towards her home.

She’d failed.

Again.

New Orleans had never been normal, not since the long ago days when her father had claimed the area for the King of France. But lately, dark magics were running rampant through the city.

Dark enough to take out her sire, the leader of their local coven. Jacques Gervais was the most powerful vampire she’d met in her centuries of life. Not only was he missing, so was Cat’s best friend. Just a girl–it had only been a hundred years since her turning–Abby Cameron was still nearly as weak as a mortal. She didn’t know how to use her vampire powers well. If Cat didn’t find the two of them soon…

As she climbed the porch steps to her front door, her head bowed, her shoulders drooping from the heavy weight of worry, she had to admit she was lost and sinking fast. With the mystery of the missing and murdered vampires, the sudden arrival of so many wolves, and the dark magic flooding the city, she needed help.

She couldn’t solve this by herself.

Not with her life intact.

An errant thought hit her. That of a young vampire she’d once helped and befriended. Niki DeVeraux had ended up in some small town in Arizona. More importantly, she’d been taken in by a huge coven of vampires.

Cat wasn’t comfortable reaching out and explaining her problems to others–she’d been brought up to be a proper lady who kept such things to herself–but perhaps they’d be able to help. She had to do something, or her sire and best friend would certainly end up dead… and she’d end up murdered, right along with them.

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Hope you enjoy 😀

~ Amber

Cover Reveal: “Bring On the Heat” 10 Book Boxed-Set #EroticRomance ~ Coming Soon!

BringOnTheHeat300

A scorching collection from ten of today’s hottest authors.

Isn’t he gorgeous? I could just sink my teeth into him 🙂

Surprise! I’ve been working on a secret project with some AWESOME! authors. Coming this January, we’re releasing a 10 book bundle of erotic paranormal romance.

So here’s the deets

Title: Bring On the Heat

Genre: Erotic romance

Length: Approx 263k words

Release date: January 6, 2014

The anthology includes stories from the awesomesauce authors:

Eden Bradley

Cassandra Carr

Stephanie Julian

Amber Kallyn (Burned, Dragos Book #1)

Keira Kohl

Adriana Kraft

Emma Lai

Anh Leod

Ann Mayburn

Cari Quinn

For more information and to meet all the authors, visit us on FaceBook : )

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/BringOnTheHeat

Coming soon! We’re going to have some awesome giveaways, so stay in touch. Also, Interested in getting the ebook for FREE?

Make sure you’re signed up for my newsletter, because I’ll be sending out a call for people interested in reading the bundle and, after we release it in January, giving an Honest review on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and anywhere else you want)!

Indie-Credible Authors and Giveaway

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Come join me at Wild Wordy Women, celebrating Indie Credible authors. There’s lots of giveaways and great new authors to check out. I’ll be at WWW every Sunday this month, and I’m giving away 2 $5 amazon gift cards to random commenters on the posts. Comment on multiple posts this month for more chances to win : )

And come back to my blog  throughout the next couple of months for some awesome blog hops – a TON of awesome prizes, including Kindles, gift cards and so much more : )

(Follow the blog to have posts go directly to your email so you don’t miss any 🙂

#AmWriting ~ Jumping back into the saddle

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Writers write. Right?

Ask just about anyone what the number one rule of writing is, and you’ll hear this.

From Ray Bradbury, to my inspiration Stephen King, authors who get many books written tell you the same thing.

The key to writing, as Red Dwarf recently mentioned, is BICHOK (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard).

Writers write.

But sometimes, life can become so complicated, stressful, engrossing and time consuming that writing falls by the wayside.

Even for those who have been writing for years, publishing books. Even for those who’s writing is their stress relief and they’d never imagine not writing because it’s not only just so important to them, writing is part of that person.

Then what happens?

A writer isn’t writing 😦

The all-knowing “They” say it takes about a month for a habit, good or bad, to form in your life.

Writing, starting or getting back to it, is at the core a habit. BICHOK doesn’t happen all on it’s own.

So, after too much time away, I’m getting back in the saddle.

Even though I love writing, getting back to it on a daily basis is a struggle. I’m having to deliberately sit down with the intention to write a minimum word count.

When writing my last book (Magicstorm HoaV #4), I could easily do my daily word count of a few thousand words a day. The words weren’t always easy, but the dedicated time and using it every day was just part of my habits.

Now, I’ve realized that I need to be more reasonable with myself. I’m asking me and my muse for a minimum of 1 hour a day, and 1000 words. Once I can attain that easily (and in a few weeks, the kids will be back in school so the time at least will be easier to find) then I can increase it and work on getting back to my pre-life/stress/suckage that I used to have.

How about you? Do you BICHOK every day? How do you make sure writing every (or most every) day is one of your habits?

#AmWriting and the dog days of summer

Over at The 7 Evil Dwarves, Dreamer and Red Dwarf have talked about the “ideal” writer’s life.

I read their posts and had to laugh.

Sure, I’d love to wake up at my preferred time (noon-ish), schlup around the house while drinking at least two pots of coffee, then gently ease into a comfy chair and write for hours, only broken by eating and refilling the coffee pot.

HA! I say.

Instead, here I am, in the dog days of summer.

Between the weather and wrangling my kids all day, I’m lucky to squeeze in an hour of writing at night, after the required hours of summer time tug-o-war to get them to bed 😉

It’s also hard to jump back in the saddle of both writing and blogging after the past few many months when life has interfered so much I’ve barely been writing at all.

So, what is your “perfect” writing day, or for readers, your perfect reading day, like?

New Release ~ Woot! Magicstorm (HoaV #4) now available & Giveaway

Please welcome Magicstorm into the world, Heart of a Vampire, Book #4.

Magicstorm_Kindle_Smashwords Buy Links:  Amazon     B&N     Smashwords    Kobo    (Coming soon to Apple/ITunes)

 Blurb:

When a mortal cop must delve into the paranormal, only a Viking vampire can save her soul, and her heart.

Detective Celeste Wilder knows who she is, a damn fine cop. But when the recently dubbed ‘Cult Murders’ start back up, this time targeting city prostitutes she’s sworn to protect, she’s thrown into a world of paranormal creatures she never believed existed. And now, they’re out to keep her from uncovering even more secrets.

An immortal Viking vampire, Brandon Wulfgar knows something is strange the moment he sees Celeste valiantly fighting for her life against a group of rogue vampires. When he’s asked to work with her–solve the crime while keeping the mortal woman safe–he figures no problem.

But as the undeniable connection between them grows and danger appears from every side, they will have to trust one another not just for their lives, but for their very souls.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

 

Brandon Wulfgar sat stiffly on the icy metal chair. He took a hefty gulp of his drink–a mix of blood and whiskey–never glancing away from his twin brother. Eric lay in the bed, facing the stone wall of the dungeon room. He mumbled in his dreams, the quiet mutterings occasionally punctuated by short, guttural screams. Was he reliving the painful past they’d shared, or that of Eric’s own more recent tortures?

The room stank of cold sweat, permeated by fear and agony.

Brandon’s hands clenched and the mug cracked. It crashed to the floor, shattering.

He stared at the white shards of ceramic covered in crimson. The sight mirrored how he felt, unable to help his brother pick up the pieces and leave the darkness he’d descended into.

With a sigh, he stood and headed for the hall. His king’s new wife was going to be pissed he’d broken yet another cup. He snorted, the sound lacking any amusement. Dalia would just have to deal with it.

He opened the door, then stopped short.

Dalia stood in the hall, arms crossed, tapping her foot. Her short pink-streaked blonde hair settled around her pointed chin and her green eyes flared, vampire-red circling the irises. “Again?” she demanded.

It didn’t matter he dwarfed her with his six-foot-four height, nor that he was ten times stronger. All she had to do was shoot that look of hers and even the strongest of the vampire warriors living in the castle crumbled as if facing a disappointed mother.

Brandon merely shrugged. “I’ll clean it up.”

“Yeah, right.” Her gaze softened as she looked past him to Eric. “No change?”

“None.”

She straightened, rubbing her hands together. “Jordan wants to talk to you. I’ll sit with your brother. And I’ll clean up the poor cup. Again.” Shooting him an ironic look, she added, “We’re almost out of dishes.”

It wasn’t true, but she had a point. He’d gone through an awful lot of mugs lately. But it wasn’t on purpose.

As the older twin, albeit only by five minutes, he’d been raised to protect his brother. To fight the world, side-by-side. Yet he was failing miserably, unable to draw Eric from the cocoon of sleep where he’d escaped.

Dalia entered the dungeon room, and leaving the thick metal door open a bit, sat in the chair Brandon had vacated. She leaned back, hands folded in her lap and started humming. Her voice was soft and airy, a sound guaranteed to get soul-deep inside anyone listening and make them feel better.

As an Omega, she could calm people’s ragged emotions. More recently, with her magic growing, she no longer needed to look into their eyes to gain that connection. Her voice could suck anyone in when she tried.

Brandon’s shoulders tightened when her voice brought no reaction from Eric. It took most of his will to leave, but he forced himself to walk down the icy hallway, and upstairs to his king’s chamber.

Inside, Jordan reclined in a chair, facing the fireplace. The man held a glass of amber-colored liquid. A second full glass sat on the table beside him.

“Sit for a while,” Jordan stated, his Scottish brogue thicker than normal.

Brandon twitched at the tension in Jordan’s voice, and crossed the room to the waiting chair on the other side of the table.

“Any change with Eric?” Jordan lifted his drink and sipped, trying to act casual as he ran a hand through his short blond hair.

Taking his own glass, Brandon gulped it down. The smooth whiskey burned his throat, then settled warmly in his gut. “No.”

Jordan sighed, shifting to face Brandon fully.

Trepidation filled him. The man was normally direct.

“The ‘cult killings’ have started once more in the city,” Jordan said, his gaze dark with anger and confusion.

“But Connor killed the demon behind them just a few weeks ago,” Brandon protested.

“Aye. Yet, here we are.”

Brandon set his empty glass back on the table before he broke that one too. “So is Connor returning?”

“He’s busy with something else.”

“What? His refound family?”

“Nay. Something for the Magic Council.”

Considering the man was a Judge for the council, it shouldn’t be surprising. “So they’re not sending him back?”

“Not now.”

A sinking suspicion crawled into his gut. “Then who are you sending to investigate?”

Jordan just stared at him.

Jumping to his feet, Brandon paced to the fireplace. “I can’t go. Eric needs me–”

Jordan’s voice broke through his agitation. “Needs you? He hasn’t said two words in the last month. He doesn’t respond to anything we try.” He stood, arms behind his back, as Brandon paced. “Someone has to take care of the problem. If it’s another demon, you’re the only one I can send.”

Anger turned his stomach, bile burned up his chest. “I can’t leave my brother.”

Jordan’s voice cracked like steel. “You’ll tell me no?”

Stopping short, Brandon slowly swung around and met his king’s blazing red gaze. He’d never told Jordan “no,” since the man had rescued both him and Eric from living agony. But to leave his brother…

The tension in his shoulders ached. His chest tightened and he gave his king the only answer he could. “When do I leave?”

 

***

 

In the lingering heat of the evening, Celeste Wilder strode from her unmarked car towards the flashing lights shining from the alley. Near the yellow police tape, cameras flashed as bystanders tried to capture anything interesting they could put online or sell to the news.

Whipping back her long black hair, she muttered under her breath, “Mierda! Gotta start keeping a damn hair tie in the car.”

One of these days, she was actually going to remember, so when she was called into a crime scene unexpectedly, she didn’t have to deal with the looks she was getting now. It was difficult enough being a female detective without flaunting her femininity. More importantly, it got in the way.

Like usual in Arizona, the weather had bypassed spring entirely. Sweat dampened her neck, making her loose curls cling uncomfortably to her skin.

“Daily, let me in,” she growled at the nearest officer blocking the alley.

He hurried to pull back one of the sawhorses. “Yes, ma’am.”

She pushed past him, taking in the scene. Phoenix PD officers guarded the sight from the lookie-loos, while the coroner hunched over a body only partly hidden behind a rusty dumpster. Overlaying the scent of rotting garbage, she caught the distinct coppery odor of fresh blood.

“Who was first on scene?” she demanded from an obvious rookie as he nervously flicked his notepad open and shut.

“Um, I was, detective, um, ma’am.”

She read his name-tag. “All right, Portensky. Details.”

He fumbled open the notebook, nearly dropping it. “The call came in at 8:02 p.m. I was dispatched, and arrived at 8:09. I didn’t see anything at first.” The kid paled, swallowed hard, then continued. “Then I smelled it.”

“Any information on the caller?” She studied how the dumpster had been pulled away from the wall. Black and red lines of wax snaked from the brick to the center of the alley.

“No, ma’am. Distorted voice, barely clear. Dispatcher said she wasn’t sure she’d even heard the address right.”

“Make sure your report is on my desk by morning.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He hustled toward the street, as if trying to put as much distance between himself and the body.

Unfazed, Celeste headed right for it.

Hovering over the body, the coroner, Frankie, glanced up. Weariness dulled her dark eyes. “Hey, girl. Rough night?”

“About to get worse.”

Frankie sighed, pushing her long bangs from her eyes with the back of her hand, then waved at the body. “No name, no ID.”

“I assume that’s why I was called in. These are my streets,” she replied.

“Sad state this last month, with all these killings.”

Shrugging, Celeste stepped closer. The woman lay mostly exposed, tattered remains of her clothing spread back from her chest. A small piece of red cloth had been draped over her face. Bleach-blonde hair spread around her head, the tips soaked with blood. The killer had taken a knife to her throat and chest.

“Time of death?”

“Her temp is still high. I’d say in the last hour.”

Considering Portensky had been dispatched less than a half-hour ago, it was possible the rumors were true. This cabrón was calling it in before his victim was dead.

Frankie pulled off her gloves. “What kind of sicko mutilates young girls? That’s what I’d like to know.”

“Aren’t they all sickos?” Celeste replied, forcing her emotions away. The victim’s wounds were ragged, as if caused by a serrated weapon. They still hadn’t figured out what the killer was using.

“We’re ready,” Frankie said.

Nodding, she replied, “Go ahead.”

Frankie lifted the red cloth from the body to seal it in an evidence bag.

Celeste’s breath caught, hitching in her tightening throat. “La madre que te parió!” she cursed.

No woman, just a girl.

Baby had been fifteen, max. She’d worked the streets, saying it was better there than at home.

Trying to get these girls into shelters was a trial. Every time Celeste got one off the streets, five more took her place. But Baby had been sweet, mostly clean, not the hardened type Celeste was used to dealing with.

And next week, there was an opening at one of the shelters Celeste worked with that Baby had agreed to enter.

Three damn days.

Swallowing hard against the dark, useless emotions trying to choke her, Celeste forced herself to move, to get on with the job. She noted the wounds and the bruises covering the girl’s face and upper arms. A broken necklace of cheap, brightly colored glass lay discarded near her left hand.

A dark smudge against Baby’s pale skin caught her eye. “What’s that?”

Frankie bent closer, snapping some photos, then gently turned the girl’s hand over.

A black mark had been drawn on her wrist. A question mark with a bar crossing the center of the straight line. Celeste drew a replica in her notebook.

“Didn’t see anything like this on the other bodies,” Frankie said as she took more pictures.

“I didn’t either. They were only left on the walls.” She continued to note the details of the crime scene as the morgue techs wheeled away the body, along with the scattered trash on the ground. They took it all. Anything could hold a clue.

As the other officers dispersed, Celeste stood back and watched. Waited for the scene to clear so she could search for clues. See if she could find more of the strange markings, some sort of runes, like at the other scenes.

As she waited, tapping her foot impatiently, her anger burned hotter.

These “Cult Murders” as the press called them, were supposed to have been solved weeks ago. They had disbanded the taskforce on her captain’s orders.

The city began to breathe easier.

Until a few nights ago, when they’d started up again.

Buy Links:  Amazon     B&N     Smashwords    Kobo    (Coming soon to Apple/ITunes)

Giveaway:

I’ll be giving away a $5 Amazon gift card, INT, Winner to be drawn next week on May 1st.

In the comments section, please tell me which of the Hero’s from the Heart of a Vampire series is your favorite so far : ) (Shane, Jordan or Connor)

Make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Character or plot?

I’m a plotter, I can admit that fully. I like my little road map laid out before I begin writing, even though I know full well that at the end, the book probably won’t look much like my initial outline.

That’s because as I write, my characters take on their own personalities and decide from there on out where they’re damn well going to go.

But being a plotter, I still need to know quite a bit about my characters before I can start that initial outline.

I recently sat down to plot book 5 in my Heart of a Vampire series. I wrote two pages of outline before my heart sank and I showed it to Wicked.

She laughed.

My characters were wimps and the story was going nowhere.

Which is when I finally realized I didn’t know nearly enough about my characters to even begin plotting.

 

So, my Q4U: Writers – how well do you need to know your characters before you begin to write?

Readers – Are you drawn to books with more action oriented plots, or by great characters (or both)?

Who’s #Lucky in love? Hoppity & awesome give@ways

Lucky in Love? Well, are you? It’s a time of luck and wealth…or not. With each romance we find ourselves in a new world of love and memories. Are these just by chance? Is it luck? Welcome to your second annual Lucky in Love Blog Hop where we want to hear about your love, your romance, and how much you love St. Patrick’s Day!!! Are you wearing green? Ready to get pinched…or wait…do you like that?

 Almost 300 bloggers have giveaways and posts about those men we love! 

 But that’s not all….

We have TWO grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 200 times!

 Now what are those prizes?

1st Grand Prize: A $100 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

2nd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!

To check out all the stops on the blog hop, click HERE

And for my personal giveaway, a $5 Amazon gift card,  in the comments, tell me:

Do you think luck plays into love? Why or why not?

Leave your email address so you can be contacted if you win 🙂

Life and times… how they change

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Last winter, I had a major change in life.

Like, an unexpected move, among other things.

Yeah, it sucks.

But the move is done (even if the unpacking seems to never end).

The good news is I’m back to writing.

I’ve missed it. Writing is my outlet, where I get to be creative, get to know new people and their unique lives, and go on adventures with them for the length of my books.

The best news for the many  who have been asking (thanks, it makes me feel awesome to know you’re waiting), is Magicstorm, Heart of a Vampire #4 is now in edits. I expect a release date in late April.

WOOT!

I also expect to start blogging again!

And if you’re signed up to get my newsletter, there will be some yummy goodness coming your way later this month 🙂

Amber Kallyn’s Birthday Bash and Huge Give@way #Kindle or #Nook

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Welcome to Amber Kallyn’s Birthday Bash. We’ve got some great giveaways for you to win!

I love the holidays, but not necessarily having my birthday fall smack dab in the middle of them, LOL. But this year, I’d like to do something special for my readers. Over 25 authors and bloggers have come together to celebrate my 24th birthday (I won’t mention how many years I’ve turned 24 again 😉

We have some wonderful prizes, and all you have to do is leave a comment at the participating blogs to win. Easy.

And don’t forget, Bloodstorm (Heart of a Vampire, Book 1) is currently free right now for an early present : )

Grand Prize

One commenter will win their choice of a NOOK Simple Touch™ with GlowLight or a Kindle Paperwhite (Up to $140 value)

Ebooks from the following Authors

Paloma Beck            (Coming Home, Contemporary romance)

Jami Grey                  (Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul, Urban fantasy)

Zrinka Jelic               (Paranormal romance)

Christine Fairchild   (An Eye For Danger, romantic suspense)

Marian Lanouette    (If I Fail, Mystery)

Sylvia Hubbard        (5 Ebooks)

Kenra Daniels          (Safe Heart and Kassern, Paranormal romance)

A $40 Gift card to either Amazon or B&N

Plus, there will be giveaways at some of the other blogs : )

How to win

The contest is open from Dec 19th to Saturday the 22nd. Hop to all the blogs. The winner will be chosen from the commenters on all participating blogs. Leave a comment at each blog for additional entries to win. That simple : ) Winner will be drawn on Sunday the 23rd.

Enjoy meeting new authors and book bloggers, and good luck on winning the Birthday Bash Prizes.

Blogs

Cynthia Arsuaga

Keira Kohl

Kenra Daniels

Lynn Chantale

Elise Vancise

Mona Karel

Lynda Kaye Frazier

Sylvia Hubbard

Marian Lanouette

Jami Gray

KE Saxon

Harlie’s Book Blog

Dianne Venetta

Christina Ricci

Cassandra Carr

Deb Sanders

Shauna S. Roberts

Danita Minnis

Kelly Whitley

Sarah Grimm

Zrinka Jelic

Sherry Gloag

M. S. Spencer

Christine Fairchild

Paloma Beck

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