Thursday, June 30, 2011

Release Day: Excerpt from BURN THE NIGHT by Jocelynn Drake

Yowsa. We're now on Day Three of the Invasion of the Urban Fantasy BOOK BABES. Guess who's up today? None other than the incredibly talented, New York Times best-selling author, Jocelynn Drake. (Hurrah!)

Today you're getting a real literary treat. You get to read an excerpt from Jocelynn's new release, BURN THE NIGHT.

Book description

The Great Awakening approaches . . .
After eons in exile, the naturi have broken their chains and now roam the Earth bent on revenge. It is the sworn duty of Mira, the Fire Starter, to protect the nightwalker race—though even she may be powerless to withstand the horrific onslaught. As Mira and her brave lover, the vampire slayer Danaus, stand ready to do battle, thousands of winged shapeshifters darken the skies. The war of ultimate extermination has begun, and the battleground is Mira's home turf.

The humans don't yet recognize the doom descending upon them. And the nightwalkers will surely perish unless they unite with outcast naturi who claim to want peace. But these unexpected "allies" are the same demons who have long worked for Mira's destruction—and in these darkest of days the lines between friend and foe will blur treacherously before the bloody end of all things.


Please note: The reading order of Jocelynn's books is as follows:
Pray for Dawn
Wait for Dusk
Burn the Night


And now here's what you've been waiting for


Chapter 1

The clang of clashing swords echoed through the woods.

Gritting my teeth, I dodged one blow and swung my short sword at her throat, aiming to remove her head. Rain pelted us in large, heavy drops, blurring vision and soaking clothes. I had called down the rain, but was holding back on the lightning, knowing I would finally need it when they tried to overwhelm me. The torrential downpour I had created wasn’t succeeding in slowing down my opponents as much as I had hoped. Only the one light clan naturi seemed bothered by the weather, while the other four earth clan members stalked me like a pack of wolves looking for a weakness in their prey.

As I fought my one-time brethren, I could easily hear Cynnia’s voice ringing in my head when I would most like to walk away from this battle and return to her side.

Please, Nyx, I need him.

The moment Cynnia spoke those words I knew that I was in trouble. Rowe had become a nightmarish creature among our kind, the first in all of memory to ever be banished. Yet, I also understood my young sister’s thinking. Rowe was a powerful naturi, a force to be reckoned with. He would make a powerful ally if we could win him over onto our side, which was looking thin and sickly in comparison to those that had gathered to Aurora’s skirts.

After traveling for more than a month, word finally leaked into my camp that a group of earth naturi had gotten their hands on Rowe and were dragging him toward Aurora’s domain in the western part of the United States. I could only guess that their plan was to throw a weakened Rowe at Aurora’s feet so that she could deliver his death rather than allow his continued banishment. He was too much of a threat to leave alive.

Sparing a glance out of the corner of my eye, I found that Rowe still lay on his side not far from the fire they had tried to start before my arrival. His arms were bound behind his back and his clothes appeared to be torn and muddy. Whatever their grand scheme was, Rowe was not going to see his wife-queen willingly. He was being dragged before her.

When I had gotten within feet of the camp, they had not hesitated to attack, while the light clan member hung back and vainly attempted to maintain the fire they had been building. Blocks blows and sliding out of harm’s way with a practiced ease, I managed to edge closer to the camp while avoiding my opponents.

“I’ve come for Rowe,” I announced, not looking at my fallen compatriot. “I have need of him. Please, hand him over.”

“Aurora desires his presence as well,” the light clan member smirked as the others circled me. It was the smirk that caused me to recall that this was Claudia, one of Aurora’s long-time assistants and loyal followers. Now, she was reduced to errand runner as there were too few that Aurora felt she could trust. Paranoia and mistrust had sunk its fangs deep into the queen over the past several years.

My grip tightened on my sword, but my gaze never wavered from Claudia. “What does she want with him? He’s been banished.”

I could feel a gathering of energy beneath my feet. One of the earth naturi had moved closer. Someone was about to make their move and I needed to be ready. However, I preferred to know what Aurora was up to before I started killing at my adversaries.

“She’s willing to forgive him if he can hand her the Fire Starter.”

“I doubt that.” Forgiveness was not something that my sister understood or even believed in. While I wasn’t too fond of Rowe, I was willing to let him live if he assisted Cynnia in her endeavors.

“Hand him over to me and no one will get hurt,” I commanded. The muscles throughout my body tensed as I readied for the attack.

“You’re just one pathetic warrior without a nation to protect. We outnumber you now, Nyx, and Our Queen has ordered your death. It’s you who should run,” Claudia mocked.

Pressing my lips into a firm line, I swung my left hand grabbed the small crossbow at my side. As my arm swung up, the bolt shot from the weapon and embedded itself deep within Claudia’s throat, causing her to stumble backward, gasping in horror and pain. She was the obvious leader of the group and now she would be unable to shout orders while I decimated her comrades. The crossbow was hooked back on a strap on my side before she finally hit the ground.

My sword whipped through the air, slicing one earth naturi across the chest. It was little more than a flesh wound, but the blood saturating his shirt was enough to give anyone second thoughts about continuing. Another earth naturi with more common sense and clarity awoke the trees around us. A large limb reached down to grab me, but I ducked out of the way, sliding in the mud and leaves. I grabbed a sleeping branch and swung up so that I was looking down on the little camp. Darkness had thickened in the area, giving me an edge. I had spent too many centuries working exclusively at night, making my night vision sharper, keener than that of my brethren.


Awesome stuff, right? If you want to know more about Jocelynn and all her great books (and I KNOW you do), check out her AUTHOR WEBSITE HERE.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Release Day: Excerpt from FEAST by Merrie Destefano

Today, for the second installment of the Invasion of the Urban Fantasy BOOK BABES, I'm going to be sharing all of FEAST's delicious news and reviews, a contest and a scrumptious excerpt. You can also read other excerpts of FEAST on my fellow BOOK BABES' blogs here: Karina Cooper, Jocelynn Drake and Nicole Murphy.


First up, there have already been a number of cool reviews for FEAST here:

"Feast was like a dark fairy tale come to life, full of monsters and heroes and things that go bump in the night that feed on your dreams. Part Urban Fantasy, part Horror, I fell in love with this world."

"This isn’t a traditional Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. It is a dark Fairy Tale, a Fantasy. A story of dreams and nightmares, where the spoken word has a power of its own. Her descriptive prose builds a magical atmosphere."

And there are some guest posts and interviews here:

There's a guest post and contest over at Book Faery, where I confess why I the bad guys. You should check it out!

I have an interview over at I Smell Sheep where I discuss how long it took me to write FEAST. And there's a contest running over there.

There's also a guest post and contest at Bitten By Books where I discuss the world-building and creation of the Darklings in FEAST.


She was just a girl—bony, pale-skinned and wild—when we stumbled upon each other in the woods, the wind shimmering through the trees around us. I remember thinking that she was nothing like her parents, both of them sleeping back in their rented cabin, the stench of rum and coke seeping out the windows and doors.

She should have been scared when she saw me, appearing suddenly in the russet shadows, but I could tell that she wasn't. Her long dark hair hung in a tangle, almost hiding her face. In that moment, I realized that she lived in a world of her own.

Just like me.

“Do you work at the inn?” she asked, her gaze running over my form curiously.

I nodded. Somehow she had recognized me. True enough, we’d seen other often. I did work at the inn. I brought her parents fresh linens and coffee every morning. But this was my free time and I no longer wore human skin.

“You're different. Not like the other one.”

I frowned, unsure what she meant. I cocked my head and then followed her pointing finger with my gaze. She gestured toward a trail that led deep into the woods, all the way to the edge of my territory.

“Have you gone that way?” I asked, concerned when I saw her yawn.

She nodded and stretched, all of her barely as tall as my chest.

I heard him then, one of my wild cousins, calling to her. She lifted her head and listened.

“He wants me to come back.” She shifted away from me, started to head down a path that led to shadows and darkness.

In that instant, a stray beam of sunlight sliced through the trees, fell upon her milky skin and set it aglow, almost like fire.

That was when I saw them.

She was surrounded by imaginary playmates. Transparent as ghosts, though they were only visible occasionally. An arm here, a leg there, a laugh that echoed and followed after her.

I quickly glanced at her forearms, bare for midsummer and they bore no mark. No one had claimed her yet. She was still free.

I could have claimed her for myself right then and to this day I sometimes wonder why I didn't. I think it was because she was so small—only seven years old, much too young to harvest, though my wild cousin wouldn’t think so.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Here's a LINK where you can read an even longer excerpt on the HarperCollins website.

And here's where you can purchase your very own copy of FEAST: Amazon l Barnes and Noble l Borders l Mysterious Galaxy l Laguna Beach Books l Vroman's Bookstore l Indie Bound Books l Or at your favorite local bookstore.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


To enter the contest, all you have to do it post a comment below and tell me what's the best book you've read this year. Be sure to include your e-mail address so I can contact the winner. This contest will run through July 13. Prizes include: Afterlife totebag, copy of FEAST, copy of AFTERLIFE, buttons and bookmarks.

I look forward to reading your comments!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Release Day: Excerpt from Lure of the Wicked by Karina Cooper

Here you go--the first installment of the Invasion of the Urban Fantasy BOOK BABES. Featured author of the day is none other than the fabulous, Karina Cooper. (Wild crowd noise and applause in background.)

Up today, for your reading enjoyment, is an excerpt from her brand new release, LURE OF THE WICKED.

NOTE: The reading order of Karina's books is as follows: Blood of the Wicked, Lure of the Wicked, All Things Wicked (Feb 2012)


READ AN EVEN LONGER EXCERPT HERE. (Be prepared to fall in love with this story and NEED to buy it right away.)


God take them all, he hated this sacrilegious tomb and its aberrant clientele.

But he couldn't do anything about it yet. Patience. It was the stake-out to end all stake-outs. He could do patience.

He had to. He'd had the perfect vantage point, the perfect box seat to watch the opera unfold, but no.

The missionary had to ruin it.

That should have driven him insane. It should have worried him. Instead, he'd barely escaped her sharp eye and quick mind, and even now he smiled from the cramped hole he hid in.

Naomi West would make it fun. Much more fun than he'd thought when he'd first taken on this operation. It wasn't her fault she'd stuck her foot in it, after all. Like him, she was just doing her job.

But now he had to plan a little more carefully. A little more cautiously. It wasn't like shooting oily fish in a barrel anymore.

The Church had dealt its hand. Joe wondered if it knew that it was playing itself at the table.

He imagined that his fellow missionary was well and truly pissed at losing him. It'd been damned close. Only the vase he'd thrown at her had given him the time to get away, but she was tough stuff. Mission-suit Teflon.

And if she ever got her hands on him... He didn't laugh, but it was close. Swallowing back a bubble of eagerness, he didn't so much as shift a muscle. Strain already ripped through his cramping limbs, but he could hold it until the Second Coming if he had to. Tenacity. That's what made him a damn good missionary.

And based on what he knew about Naomi West, that's what made her almost as good as he was.



Phew. Was that amazing or what? Don't forget, you can read a longer excerpt of this book HERE.

Not one, but two FEAST Release Parties with swag today

My second novel, FEAST: HARVEST OF DREAMS, is out in the wild today. In honor of her release, I'm inviting you to not one, but TWO Release Parties today. Both parties have a contest with the sweet swag you see above: large FEAST tote bag, signed copy of FEAST, FEAST and AFTERLIFE buttons and bookmarks.

Release Party One is actually an interview over at I Smell Sheep. Stop by and check it out. You'll find out things like how long it took me to write FEAST and why I wanted it to have the tone of a dark fairy tale.

Release Party Two will be held at Bitten By Books and has a guest post titled "If You Could Turn Back the Hands of Time." In it I discuss the world building I did while creating the Darklings--the supernatural creatures in FEAST. This party will go live at noon Central Time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Plans for the Urban Fantasy Invasion: Day One

Plans for the BOOK BABE party are underway and whispers are rumbling down back alleys. It all begins tomorrow, right here, at 9:00 a.m. PST. That's when you'll get a taste of Karina Cooper's steamy LURE OF THE WICKED.

And, trust me, that's not all.

On Wednesday, you'll get some snippets of FEAST. Plus links to all the FEAST events going on online, plus a CONTEST!!

On Thursday, you'll get a sampling of Jocelynn Drake's BURN THE NIGHT.

And then, on Friday, you'll get read some of Nicole Murphy's ROGUE GADDA.

All new releases. Hot off the steamy press. Guaranteed to make you stay up all night and keep the lights on.

Sentimental Endings: A Story

“I’m not one for sentimental endings. Not this time.”

That’s what he said. When he slammed the car door. When he walked away into blue velvet. Those were his words, each one like the drumbeat to a funeral dirge, like the handful of stones I’m forced to carry in my heart.

Sometimes I repeat them to myself, roll the syllables over my tongue. When the midnight pours in my window, cold and dark. When my bed feels as empty as my soul. Sometimes I imagine another ending and I write it down.

“I’m not one for sentimental endings. But this is a beginning—”

He would lean toward me, over cracked vinyl seats, cup my face in his hands and look into my eyes. The single tear sliding down my cheek would take his breath away for a moment, then he would kiss it away . . .

“I’m not one for sentimental endings. But this is breaking my heart, I just can’t—”
He would weep; he would beg me to stay. He would promise to change, to be different, to do anything I ask. One hand would slide over mine and he would pull me back into his arms. My face would be wet from his tears . . .

“I’m not one for sentimental endings. Not this time.”

I would turn away from him, the words still warm in my mouth. I would open the car door, swing my legs out onto pavement, stand up and feel an intoxicating sense of freedom. I am leaving him and he is devastated . . .

Of all my imagined endings, this last one is my favorite, the one I rehearse when the ache drives me to my knees, the one that gets me through the day when I feel like a shadow walking through bright crowds.

6 Things That Make Me Toss Aside A Book In Frustration

I must confess, if a book doesn’t hold my interest, I stop reading. I’m limited in how much time I have to read, so I try to read only the best books. Some things that will make me stop reading are:

1. If I can’t connect with the main character

2. Sloppy storytelling/poor writing

3. Plot threads that don’t lead anywhere

4. Meandering plot

5. Implausibility

6. And this one will cause me to not buy the author’s next book: an ending that wasn’t as phenomenal as the beginning.

How about you? Do you stop reading a book if it doesn't meet your expectations? Do you agree with my list or do you have another list that you'd like to share?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Coming soon to a bookstore near you!

Invasion of the Urban Fantasy Book all begins on June 28. Release Day Madness. And it runs through July 1. All release day madness, every day.

Featured authors include: Karina Cooper, Jocelynn Drake, Nicole Murphy and myself.

We'll be posting excerpts of our novels (gasp), posting links (eeek), and quite possibly revealing deep, dark secrets (oh, no).

You never know. We may even toss in a giveaway or two.

Stay tuned for more details. But, if you really want to be safe, RUN to your local bookstore. And ask for our books by name.

The book born out of insomnia, is now causing insomnia...

What's coming up this week? Madness. I mean, a book release. Plus I've been trying to finish a WIP. So far I've had 3 nights this week where I couldn't get to sleep until 4 a.m. !!! I suppose it's my book, Feast, getting her revenge.

See, it was a book born out of insomnia. And now--just as it's about to release and the whole world will have a chance to see it--I have insomnia all over again.

Does this mean I need to write a sequel? Are the Darklings tormenting me, silently begging me to tell more of their story? I definitely have ideas for another book. I even have some cool ideas for a sequel to Afterlife.

If. I. Could. Sleep. I. Might. Be. Able. To. Write.

In other words, hint to any lurking Darklings, let me sleep, okay??

So, just for fun, I thought I'd post some photos of actors that I would cast in the main character roles. Here goes:

In this shot, Zachary Quinto plays Ash, who is caught in the act of casting an enchantment:

A young Sandra Bullock would star as Maddie MacFadden, the woman who unwittingly becomes the main target in the Darkling hunt:

Here's a shot of Zachary Quinto as Ash, looking devious:

And the shot at the top of the page was an inspiration photo I chose to help me imagine the forests that surround Ticonderoga Falls.

Friday, June 24, 2011

10 Things I Like To See In A Good Book

I love reading and I’m always delighted when I discover a new author or a new book. Things that I look for are:

1. Extraordinary writing

2. Captivating voice

3. Excellent story-telling ability

4. Realistic characters

5. Believable world-building

6. The magical ability to make me forget that I’m reading a book

7. A story or character that takes me to a new world

8. Well-crafted metaphors and themes

9. Moral value

10. An ending that lives up to the beginning

As an author, I'm curious what you look for in a book. Do you agree with me or am I way off base? I'd love to hear your opinions!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Feast countdown continues

Today I have a contest running over on the Supernatural Underground.

This is what you can win in if you enter the contest...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I can't believe that Release Day--June 28--is almost here.

So, here's the countdown of what I will do until Feast releases:

I will have 6 showers, watch 15 TV shows, read part of one book, go for 8 walks, climb 25 flights of stairs, crack up laughing 8 times, burst into tears 2 times, send 310 e-mails, read most of those e-mails before I send them, troll the Internet 6 hours longer than I should, wear my PJs all day 2 times, cook a meal 0 times, feed and medicate the dogs 12 times, feed and medicate myself more times than I can count, forget what I was going to say right when I was in the middle of a sentence 16 times, do a happy dance 3 times, drink 35 bottles of water, check on the baby hummingbirds in my yard 10 times and try to get some writing/editing done 18 times.


Monday, June 20, 2011

One of the best things a writer can see

Friday evening I got to meet the members of The Ladies Guilty Pleasures Book Club. I had a great time chatting with them and answering questions about Afterlife. One of my favorite parts of the evening--besides meeting the ladies themselves--was when I got to see their copies of the book, many of them dogeared and full of bookmarks.

That's the best thing a writer can ever see--a copy of your book that has been well-read.

Thanks to everyone in the club! I really enjoyed meeting you and hope I get to come back sometime.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Baby hummingbirds in nest--so cute!

You have to look really close, but two baby hummingbirds are waiting for the mama bird to return and feed them. Their tiny beaks are pointed toward the sky. You can even see one of them stick his tongue out. So adorable! These little guys have a nest in the bougainvillea in my backyard.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Heads or Tails: A Story

The coin flipped through the air. Heads. Tails. Love. Hate. Such a human thing to do. Such a weak response to something as important and necessary as breathing. Sometimes I wonder if humans even have a heart, if they are truly alive.

I watched as my current victim-in-progress debated whether to call a young woman he fancied. A thick silver disk, stamped with symbols on both sides, spun through the air in a high arc, sunlight catching, reflecting; a heavenly mixture of silver and golden light, an almost magical and musical act. The coin finally spun to a halt with a chorus of bright ringing notes as it landed on the ground.

My human, my favorite Creature To Haunt And Torment, held his breath. Leaned over. Stared at the silver answer.

Heads. Tails. Love. Hate.

His answer, the one he wanted, stared back up at him.

It was almost funny.

Because the thing he didn’t know, the one thing he couldn’t possibly know, was that I was going to steal this dream from him. As soon as he would lay down his head, close his eyes and sail off into the land of dreams, I would take it away. I would burst it, like a golden bubble, lick it up like a bowl of melting ice cream.

And his dream of a life of love would dissolve. He would forget this Valentine’s Day Coin Toss. He wouldn’t remember his resolve to call Violet in the morning. The jeweler might phone him in a day or two, ask him about the ring that he had ordered and my sweet captive human would wonder what he was talking about.

Heads. Tails. Love. Hate.

In my world, hate wins every time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Revealing my secrets, one by one

There are some very cool things going on the cyber universe today...

First, FEAST was reviewed over at The Aussie Bookworm. You can read the review here.

Here's a snippet:

"I really liked the way that the bits and pieces of vampiric lore were sprinkled throughout the novel. Some of them as we have always believed i.e. that they need to be invited to be able to cross your threshold while others have been tweaked slightly. They don’t drink blood but they harvest dreams."

Also, Kristin over at My Bookish Ways posted an interview with me today. AND she's giving away a copy of Afterlife. Believe it or not, she got me to confess something I've never told anyone online before. *gasp*

Some of the other things we discussed: What I like to see in a good book and what makes me toss a book aside in frustration. VERY good questions!

AND one more cool thing going on. I Smell Sheep has a very fun Swag Day Contest going on through Friday, June 17. Their contest involves matching an author with his/her pet. And, yes, I'm one of the featured authors! Followers of my blog should be able to figure out which one of those furry beasts belong to me. Hint, hint: Remember, I have 2 black and tan German shepherds? See, I just gave you one answer so you'll be ahead of the game.

Besides cover flats, bookmarks, buttons and trading cards, the folks at I Smell Sheep are also giving away the following books: signed copies of Afterlife and Nightwalker, an ARC of The Iron Duke, a paper copy of Demon Slayer. E-copies of Along Came a Demon and Shades of Gray, and Devil Without a Cause, which can be either a paper or e-copy.

I hope you'll check those posts out and say hi to the blog owners. They love visitors!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Day The Earth Stood Still: A Story

The sun didn’t rise on Thursday. That should have been a sign, a warning. It should have set all the alarms ringing inside Sam’s head. But it didn’t.

Because he didn’t wake up.

Nobody did.

The day the Earth stood still—the day everything changed—went completely undetected. It lodged, like a rock, right between Wednesday and Friday, dark, cold, silent. No NASA scientist and no Hindu philosopher caught the great hiccup in the universe. Friday came, blinding and bright and charged with energy—a bit too much energy, in fact. Power surged and crackled through cables and wires and ended up shorting out cell phones around the world.

The Internet, on the other hand, ran smoother than ever.

Sam thought he noticed a difference when he sat down, fingers poised over keyboard. Thought he heard a crack, snazzle, pop in his ears. Like liquid silver, every connection zapped into place faster than it ever had before.

He grinned.

New Web sites sparked into prime time, exquisite and compelling and somehow already linked to existing sites. Without realizing it, his computer began to prefer these new, almost alien sites, would route him there over and again, leave him there for long intervals.

Basking in the light.

Sweet. Ambient. Light.

A soft strobe pulsing just beneath the surface, a message read by brainstem and cerebellum like secret code. A whisper program that ran undetected, just like that missing Thursday. A cyber virus that thrummed all day long. Even after his computer was turned off.

That night, while the computer junkies around the world slept, cozy and warm and safe inside footed pajamas and Ambien cocktails, the program kicked into high gear and the transformation began. So subtle it wouldn’t even be noticed, not by the humans anyway, just like that missing middle-of-the-week day.

The morning came and a few hackers noticed that the sky hung a bit darker, cereal crunched a bit quieter, surfaces felt a bit smoother and dialogue—well, dialogue came in a steady stream, more like binary code than conversation.


Sam smiled as he sat down on the wrong side of the screen, 001010101111, ready and eager to get to work.

Head tilted, he listened.


The sound of birds, singing.


The clatter of keyboard keys, a cyber universe turned inside out.


One word repeating itself over and over, one human staring at him through transparent screen, typing.


In some languages the word meant Aliens.

But in most it simply meant:


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Visiting the town that became Ticonderoga Falls in Feast

One of the best parts about writing is getting to do research--especially when that research involves taking a trip up into the mountains and staying in a cabin. My next novel, Feast, (which releases in just 18 days--yikes!) is set in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. Although the actual town where the story takes place, Ticonderoga Falls, is fictional, it was based on the very real and very charming town of Big Bear, California.

So, at the beginning of December, 2009, my husband, our two German shepherds, our Siamese cat and I spent four days in Big Bear. My husband and the dogs got to go sledding and hiking, while I did research. No, really, I got to go sledding and hiking too. But I really did a considerable amount of research while I was there. We even stayed in a little cabin, similar to the one the main character in Feast, Maddie MacFadden, stays in.

I must confess, I never saw any Darklings though. But they may have been hiding. After all, I was just about to expose them all to the world.

So, here is my photo travelogue of the trip, with captions so you don't feel lost...

The gorgeous drive up into the local mountains...the higher you go, the taller the trees, until finally it seems like the forests could just eat you alive. The perfect setting for my scary, yet romantic novel:

Caleb, the larger than life dog...we finally arrived in the cabin, started to get our things unpacked and, of course, the dog took that time to choose the most comfortable chair for himself. He just watched while we worked:

Hezzie relaxed, glad the evil car ride was finally over...he stretched out on an ottoman and waited for us to start a fire in the fireplace. Sometimes he enjoyed being in the cabin, sometimes he acted like we were torturing him. Poor kitty:

Chatting with someone who lived in Big Bear...this was my favorite part of the trip, meeting the amazing people who lived here. This incredible woman, Cathy Jones, took the time to share stories about the town, pointed out local hiking spots on the map, gave me advice on who to interview and how to get hold of them. She even told me about a local independent bookstore that might be interested in carrying Feast. She gets 5 gold stars for being hospitable and for making the trip much more fun:

Investigating the SUVs the policemen drove...part of my research involved asking the local police a zillion questions (there's a bit of a mystery in this book) and checking out their SUVs. Since one of my characters was the local sheriff, I needed to know what kind of car he would drive, what his uniform would look like, how he would handle a certain situation (can't give away too many clues!), and what kind of gun he would carry:

Big Bear Lake, surrounded by snow and shrouded by clouds...isn't this picture a bit eerie? Well, that's exactly what I was hoping for when I picked this tourist town--I wanted something close enough to L.A. to visit within a day and remote enough to be slightly creepy:

The dogs and I...okay, here's where worlds collide and everything gets really strange. I was up in Big Bear working on the research for my second novel, but at the same time my editor and the staff at Harper Voyager were hard at work getting my first novel ready for printing. So, here I am, frolicking in the snow with my two wild German shepherds. For some reason, Caleb--the one with mouth open--wouldn't stop barking when we were taking his picture. Call of the wild or something. Anyway, that's the only picture I have of him, in eight years, where he's doing anything like that.

So, then we go home and the next day, my editor sends me the gorgeous cover artwork for Afterlife. Do you see how much my dog looks like the dog on the cover? I couldn't believe it. And not like I look anything like that cover model, but it's weird that we're standing in almost the same position. Worlds were colliding and aliens were dying when all this was going on, that's all I've got to say:

So, there you have it. A tiny glimpse into the real town behind the fictional town of Ticonderoga Falls. And very soon you'll be able to read more about the inhabitants of this mountain village, both human and Darkling.