Cursed and Marked coming to audio!

So, I have a bit of interesting information for everyone out there in the blogosphere. Recently, I was approached by Tantor, a division of Recorded Books, about the audio rights to Cursed and Marked. After some back and forth, we were able to strike a deal I’m pretty happy with, mostly because it brings you Cursed and Marked in audio format.

I don’t have many details yet on when they will be out, but it should be within the next six months or so. James Patrick Cronin doing the narration, and I’m excited to hear his take on Mac Brennan.

If that’s something that interests you, stay tuned for further updates. If not, well, Burned is now 75% of the way complete. So if you’re in the advanced team, you’ll have it in your hands soon.

I’m really excited for this one because I finally do the big reveal I’ve been saving for book one. I hope you guys think it’s as cool as I do.

Cursed 2 Update

The first draft is done and came in at 58K words, so it’s a bit longer than the original. I hope that’s okay. The ending is awesome, by the way. You know, in case you wondered.

The arc readers club, you know who you are, should expect to see it sometime next week, and I’ll be releasing it about a week later. Sorry guys, I’ll try to give you more time with the next one. I blame February. They gave me an extra day, but it wasn’t enough. Sigh.

Stay tuned because I’m planning to reveal the cover and title on 3/12! I haven’t seen it yet, so I’m just as excited as you guys.

 

Teasing

Pierce Ambrose. That was the name of the man I’d been sent to kill. The man I’d failed to kill. I have one day left to make good on my contract before the thugs holding my sister and her son start sending me pieces of them.

Pierce Ambrose.  A man with a secret I didn’t uncover until it was too late to turn back, too late to give up on trying to kill him.

Now, if I want to see my sister and nephew again, I have to try one last time.

My name is Mac Brennan, and this time, I’m playing for keeps.

What’s Next?

For anyone keeping score at home, Cursed is now in it’s second round of editing (line editing.) After that, it will get proofread. Yay! I’ve never been more excited and more nervous for a book to come out.

However, I’d like to take a moment to talk about Lillim. The last volume was Mind Games, and even before I wrote the book, I was a little worried about it. I still have no idea if fans really like the book, but hey, here’s to hoping.

It’s certainly not a traditional Lillim book by any stretch. That was part of the reason I released it at the same time as Wardbreaker. I wanted folks who had been waiting for a new Lillim book to get one where Lillim is punching people in the face and taking names.

I’m tentatively planning on doing another Lillim book in time for (or in) April. I sort of want to finish up the third Revelations book first. It’s half done. I’ll be happy when it’s over. As much as I love them, the Revelations novels are a lot more work for me because of the four different perspectives in each book. The new one has five.

But, Lillim. We were talking about Lillim. I have two books currently outlined for Lillim, and if things stay as they are, you’ll get one in April and one in May.

One is the direct sequel to Mind Games, entitled Fatal Ties. Lillim is still missing her sword and there’s an apocalypse happening. It ought to be a doozy.

The second is a sequel to Wardbreaker, taking place a few weeks after that book. It’s tentatively titled Ghost World (though I may do Ghost Story). This premise for this book is that Zef asks Lillim (and Mattoc) to find something for him in the land of the dead.

Cursed

Cursed2

Hey everyone. I’m writing in to let you all know I finished up my secret project last week, and it is with the editor now. It’s a book called Cursed and will release on February 8, 2016.

Cursed is a little different from my normal fare as it’s not a young adult book. The main character is around thirty. My wife really helped me out in the structuring of this novel, and I think it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever written. I suppose time will tell.

For now, I’m going to leave you with the blurb and the cover.  I’ll be back sometime soon with the first chapter.

Blurb:

My name is Mac Brennan and that’s the only thing I can remember about myself. Not why I woke up in a dumpster. Not why my right arm is as black as pitch and covered in glowing red tattoos, and certainly not why a vicious death cult is after me.

Actually, that last part isn’t true. I know why the death cult is after me. It’s because I saved that damned girl from them. I didn’t know who she was at the time, but I’d have done it anyway. I just don’t like it when girls get beat up, call me old fashioned.

Still, I can tell she’s hiding something behind those devilish eyes, and if I want to find out what it is, I’ll have to help her.

My name is Mac Brennan. I have no memory, and I’m a werewolf-hunting, hellfire-flinging version of Faust himself.

War and Famine

Death’s Mantle is out now on Amazon. You can grab it there for only $0.99. It’s in Kindle unlimited too, so you can get it that way if you’d like.

Why? Because I finished up War and Famine, the sequel to Death’s Mantle, last week, and will release the book either next week or the week after. I’m excited, the cover is amazing. I’m sure the story is too.

I’ve got some interesting things planned for next year. You’ll definitely see the third Revelation, Conquest’s Hammer, in the early part of the year and the first Dirge Meilan book. I’ve already started writing it, and I have to say, it’s everything I want it to be!

I’ve also got a good handle on the next Lillim book too. Beyond that, I’m committing to exactly zero. I’ve found things change too much, too quickly.

It’s been a busy year, and while I’d like to say I can pump out fourteen more novels next year, I’ve found myself wishing I had held a couple back to pad my schedule.

Honestly, I’ve never been more tired. With the culmination of War and Famine, which is with the editor now, I will have written over 700,000 words in 2015 and published over 800,000 words. That doesn’t include an entire Dirge novel I scrapped.

Still, I have to say it’s been a blast. I can’t believe how many people have picked up my books. It’s a little weird because I look at Kill It with Magic and Wardbreaker. Both are Lillim books, but Kill it With Magic was released back in September 2014 and Wardbreaker in October of 2015. Almost a year apart, and the improvement in my writing quality is just amazing. Absolutely amazing. I’m not saying Kill it with Magic is bad, it’s just not as good to me as Wardbreaker is.

I hope 2016 brings even greater improvement in my writing from a craft perspective. I think I owe that to my readers. After all, you guys are pretty much my entire reason for writing. Well, that and I have so many stories in my head, I feel like my brain is going to burst.

Jean Luc

You know what I’ve never done? Written a book where a side character has been as immensely popular as Jean Luc has been in Wardbreaker. I’ve received numerous emails, FB messages, etc asking where the hell he is.

Well, here’s the deal, I’ve had Wardbreaker sitting in my head since July 2015, the outline is a bit earlier, let’s say June. I’d already written the first five Lillim books at that point, so the unfortunate side effect to writing a prequel is that some stuff just won’t exist in the previously made stuff, you know, unless you’re George Lucas.

That said, I have a whole arc planned in my head for Jean Luc. I just don’t know when I am going to do it. Lillim 7 wraps up the current arc which is Hardboiled, Mind Games, and Fatal Ties. I have a book 8 rolling around in my head, but that is focused on Mattoc and Pandemonium (best name ever) and another prequel focused around werewolves.

I’m thinking maybe Jean Luc deserves his own series. There is a lot of backstory around the Wardbreaker I never revealed because I was saving it, but hey, if you guys want to see a Jean Luc book, I’m happy to oblige. I’ll have to mull this over.

Also, did you know, I actually penned one more chapter for Wardbreaker? I didn’t include it in the book because it was from Jean Luc’s perspective.

Anyway, I’m trying desperately to finish Unwrapped (the third Thes book) so I can release it Thanksgiving week. It’s about 70% complete.

Updates

I’ve been working on Mind Games pretty heavily for a while and am at about the 70% mark. It’s definitely been one of the hardest stories I’ve ever written. It’s sort of funny because when I wrote Wardbreaker, the novel just sort of spilled out of me, but Mind Games is just kicking my ass.

To put this in perspective, I’m averaging something like 2400 words an hour writing this book instead of my usual 3100 words. That means I have to spend an extra hour on the book to make the same progress on Mind Games I did for Wardbreaker.

It’s also required heavy editing so I find myself adding a ton of words on my edits which isn’t something that normally happens. I had a two chapter arc that was somewhere around 3k words for the pair. In my once over edit, I wound up writing an additional 2k words.

This means the book is taking longer than expected which is sort of pissing me off because it’s supposed to be out at the end of the month because I need to write the third Thes book, Unwrapped, for November… guh.

In other news, I’m toying with the idea of writing a thriller along the lines of My Brother’s Keeper featuring a female assassin named Requiem, but am hesitant because it’s really outside my whole girls in leather fighting werewolves genre thing. And well, I have exactly zero time.

I think I’ve got my whole early 2016 schedule ironed out. If everything goes according to plan, you’ll get something like this:

January – Fatal Ties – Thes/Lillim mash up following the events of Unwrapped (Thes #3) and Mind Games (Lillim #6).

February – The Demon Engine – Lillim #7 (We all wondered what happened to Mattoc, eh?)

March – Untitled – Thes #4

April – Spymageddon – Abby #4 (Anniversary of Abby 1)

May – Skaters Wanted – Lillim Prequel #2 (There will be 3 total.)

I may swap the May and February books, depending on how I feel, and it’s my schedule, so I’ll do what I want in the end, but there it is.

Let’s talk tropes

There’s a book called Evermore by Alyson Noel. It’s basically about a girl who falls in love with an immortal who has pursued her as she keeps getting reincarnated through the ages. I actually came across the book because one of my wife’s students said it was horrible, and I wanted to check it out.

The other day, I read this review of Evermore and sadly, it’s pretty accurate. http://cuddlebuggery.com/blog/2010/08/24/review-evermore-by-alyson-noel/

It, also, pretty much nails all the tropes in YA Urban Fantasy.

So I thought I’d take my own crack at the tropes (not Evermore). Here’s to nothing.

You always have a character with an unusual upbringing. This will have prepared them for their new supernatural world. The main character (MC) will tend not to fit into the normal world and will have capital B baggage. There is a limiting factor to their powers, either they can’t use it for fear of a reprisal (old enemy, etc), they don’t know about it, or they had some traumatic event in their past they need to get over to get back in the game.

Sometimes they’ll have two of these.

Because of their weird upbringing they are some kind of outcast, but their upbringing will help them get welcomed into strange new world with open arms because of powers/expertise/ being born for it.

Their new adventure will force them to deal with people they don’t want to deal with. This is usually done as a way of world building. “Oh I need to see Draco the vampire so we learn x,” and in the process establish vampires live in this world, etc.

There will be some kind of traumatic event that occurs soon after the start of the book, forcing the person to realize they have power or must use their power even though it will cause problems. Usually around some kind of loved one or someone the character was being protected by or protecting.

This will lead to them getting sucked into the adventure where this pattern sort of repeats until the hero overcomes final challenge, while causing enough of “but our victory has costs” to let you lead it into a series. Usually the appearance of the thing they worried about facing because of their powers. This works whether they knew they had them or not. There’s a reason the chosen one is chosen, right?

There will usually be some kind of romantic subplot between the MC and a character who should be badass in their own right so they can take turns saving each other. This may not blossom into full blown romance for many books, or it may change. Usually there will be past history between the MC and the lover.

The MCs will usually want to do good because they are innately good and/or the bad guy is WAY worse than them. Even if the hero is a plain dealing villain, the bad guy is usually worse. It will force your MC to make hard choices, but always for the good of the mission even if its an innately selfish thing.

At the core, these are escapism stories. They take place now because people live in the now and can relate to that easier. They involve people who are insecure about things being the hero because at heart most people are insecure and want to be more than they are.

There, go and be merry!

Spy for the Spiers – Chapter 1

Just got Abby 3, Spy for the Spiers back from the editor. The book will come out on 9/23/15 which, if you didn’t know, is my 1 year anniversary.

Without further ado, here you go. Enjoy.

**

Chapter 1

My fist lashed out, slamming into the mechanical werewolf’s face and throwing him backward across the room. He smashed into a thin fiberboard table, shattering it beneath his weight and crashing to the ground in a heap.

Pain shot through my arm even through my padded glove as I wrung my hand out and took a menacing step forward, running one hand through my pink hair to brush it out of my face. The werewolf lay there, sparks shooting from its broken off ear, but it was already starting to move. In another few seconds, it would be on its feet and coming at me like I had a steak in my pocket. How did I know? Because that’s what it had done the last few times I had knocked its block off.

I glanced around the small makeshift apartment and sprinted into the attached kitchenette. The whole place wasn’t very big, leaving me nowhere to hide as the creature got to its feet and took a thundering step toward me. Its metal nails clicked on the cheap, green laminate tile as it eyed me with soulless blinking red eyes.

I jerked open the first drawer but was dismayed to find only plastic bags and tin foil, not a lot of help. I moved to the next drawer, flinging it open as the robot leapt onto of the small countertop, clearing at least three feet of vertical and horizontal distance like it was child’s play, which I guess for a seven foot tall robotic werewolf, it probably was.

This drawer yielded pay dirt. I jerked a huge butcher’s knife free as the creature landed on the floor behind me hard enough to crack the tile. I whirled, ducking as I did so and narrowly avoided a swipe of its metal claws as they cleaved through the air and the microwave to my left.

Sparks showered the creature as I jammed the butcher’s knife into the weak point in the thing’s knee joint. It had taken me several attempts to figure it out, but there was a hydraulic line barely shielded by the metal joints. If you stabbed at the spot hard enough and with the right angle, well…

The leg tore off the creature in a spray of fluid. It toppled forward, still reaching out for me with its claws as I danced backward out of its reach. It hit the ground with a thud and began crawling toward me, gouging into the tile as it came closer inch by inch.

I hopped up onto the counter and leapt down on the other side. I threw one last glance around the room, but spying no more intruders, I made my way to the front door. As I reached out toward it, alarm bells began going off in my head. I threw myself to the side as a shotgun blast ripped apart the cheap wooden door, showering me with fragments of wood and other debris.

I hit the floor so hard, the shock of it ran down my back. The werewolf was already starting to turn itself around, its safety shut offs already cutting off the leak. It wouldn’t be fast, but once it got back to its feet, it’d hop after me.

“Come out with your hands up, Abby,” a voice from outside the apartment called. “If you do, I won’t come in there and shoot you a whole bunch of times. Believe me, I’m looking forward to it, so I’d almost rather you try to escape.”

“Not on your life!” I squealed, but the only reply was condescending laughter. I dropped to my hands and knees, bear crawling toward the window alongside the window. As I did so, bullets tore through the cheap walls, covering me in drywall and paint. The pictures above me shattered. Glass rained down on me as I tucked myself into a ball, hoping desperately to avoid getting sliced into ribbons. It mostly worked.

Unlike last time, no one charged inside. So, they were learning too. A small canister rolled inside and gas began to spew forth from it. Damn. I hated when my adversaries learned from their mistakes too.

I held my breath and rushed forward toward the far wall and the big window. They probably had it covered, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. I hit it in a dive, spraying glass everywhere as pain exploded through me. Thankfully, my uniform kept most of the glass from slicing me open, but it still hurt to throw myself bodily through it.

The sound of bullets slamming into the ground around me filled my ears as I came to my feet in a roll and sprinted forward, zigging and zagging as best I could. A slug caught me in the shoulder, pitching me hard to the side and nearly making me lose my balance as my left arm fell uselessly to my side. Agony shot through me, but I pushed it down, gritting my teeth as my eyes slowly adjusted to the bright sunlight outside.

A bullet zinged by my head as I flung myself sideways, rolling under a parked car. An army of feet appeared in my vision as I lay there for a split second, catching my breath. I couldn’t make out how many were there, but I was guessing at least six. If I didn’t get out of here quickly, I was done for. I rolled out from beneath the other side of the car and got to my feet as someone pressed a cold steel barrel against the back of my head.

“Don’t move, Abby,” Chuck said, the smirk in his voice distinctive. “You did well, but it’s over now.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, whirling as the words left my mouth. The crack of the gunshot obliterated my hearing, reducing all sound into a muffled fog as I fell to the ground, pain unlike anything I’d ever felt coursing through me and setting every nerve aflame.

I lay there, staring up at the sun, unable to even close my eyes and twitched as electricity coursed through my body. After what felt like ever, Chuck nudged me with the toe of his big black combat boot.

“You need to stop trying to escape a gun to the back of your head,” he said, staring down at me and shaking his head. His piercing blue eyes watched for a moment longer before he squatted down next to me and poked my cheek with the barrel of his weapon. It looked like a gun, but instead of firing bullets, it fired concentrated blasts of electricity that knocked me on my ass for a several minute time span every single time. I was starting to hate it.

“What else would you like me to do?” I mumbled, somewhat surprised I could speak. My body must have been acclimating to the shock of the bullets. I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing.

“Not get a gun stuck against the back of your skull for one,” Chuck said, reaching down and grabbing my wrist like he was going to haul me to my feet, but instead, he dropped it and my arm fell lifelessly to the ground. He smirked. “I guess your mouth recovers before the rest of you. Next time, maybe I’ll shoot you twice.”

“Next time, I’m going to shoot you,” I replied, annoyance filling my voice.

“Abby, we’ve done this exact scenario over fifty times now, and while you’ve gotten pretty good at taking out the werewolf bots, you haven’t managed to take me down once.” He shook his head, smirking. “That’s not counting the other hundreds of scenarios we’ve run. Face it kid, you’re still amateur hour.”

I would have narrowed my eyes at him, and for all I know I had, but it didn’t feel like I had. “Next time I’m going to get you, Chuck.”

He leaned down and kissed me lightly on the forehead in a fatherly sort of way. “I look forward to it,” he replied, getting up. “Then maybe I can get off babysitting detail.” He turned and walked away.

A cadre of soldiers was standing off to the side, watching us. There were twelve in total, and while they weren’t all super soldier quality like Chuck, I had no doubt they were all very good. The sight of them made me want to smile. The first time I’d run through this scenario, there hadn’t been any of them. For the agency to have added additional soldiers, they must have thought I was getting better. Not that Chuck would admit it. He never admitted it when I did well, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure why I cared what he thought. Sure, he was like the big brother I’d never had, but he was part of the agency.

I still wasn’t quite sure why the agency was training me, or why the agency felt the need to use mechanical werewolves and other robotic supernatural creatures, but I knew one thing. I could sure use the training even if I didn’t want to admit it. Besides, it wasn’t like I had a choice.

My father Roberto was still in a coma after being stung by some sort of super bug thing during our attempts to stop the last world takeover. The only thing keeping him alive at this point was the agency, and so far, the only thing they’d wanted in return for rendering aid was for me to accept training.

I was sure sooner or later they were going to want me to do something else, and sadly, I’d probably agree to do it. This was how the agency worked after all. It captured your loved ones and forced you to do their bidding or else. It was only a matter of time before it happened to me. And believe me, the irony was not lost on my teenage brain because I had started off as collateral myself.

Since then, I’d had a whole bunch of super spy skills downloaded into my brain, but I lacked one thing, experience. It was why Chuck had beaten me every single time. He had been around a long time, and despite all my expertise in hand to hand combat, shooting, explosives, and virtually any other skill necessary to become a top agent, his experience was more than enough to trump my abilities. Then again, he was the guy they’d based the superhero Captain America on, so there was that.

As feeling returned to my body, I got slowly to my feet and fought the urge to attack Chuck from behind. It wasn’t because I thought jumping him with his back turned was unfair or unsportsmanlike or anything. It was because the last several times it’d just resulted in me taking an electric blast to the face.

Instead, I put on my big girl pants and walked toward the group of soldiers. They grew silent as I approached, which wasn’t that odd because I had the feeling most of them resented me. After all, they were the best of the best, and I could take on any of them in a fight without even breaking a sweat. Maybe even all of them if I was feeling particularly feisty.

“Hey,” I said, when no one acknowledged me. “What’s next, robot vampires?” I pointed past them toward where technicians were hauling the werewolf out of the house.

“I don’t think you’re ready for vampires yet,” the soldier nearest to me said. He was about my height and even though most of his face was hidden by a black, featureless mask, I got the feeling he was smirking.

“Yeah, it would be kind of hard to stake one through the heart since they’re made of metal and all,” I replied.

Chuck glanced at me and shook his head. “I’m about to dump you back to ninjabots if you keep failing to live for less than ten seconds outside the apartment.”

“If I had a gun, it’d be different,” I replied, giving him the same look I always did. “It’s not fair. I never start these things with a weapon.”

“Here’s a tip, kiddo,” the first soldier said. “Life’s not fair.”

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