Sunday, November 9, 2014

Toni's Big Six Journey #7

Don’t distance yourself
You’ll get this feeling, this feeling in your heart and you have to. If you distance yourself from your book, if you say you want no part of this and distance yourself from it, then all you are doing is putting words on paper and that will get you nowhere. You have to put your soul into it. You have to break when your characters break. You have to cry when your characters cry. You have to love when your characters love. Hate when they hate. And finally you have to learn to let go just as your characters do. But most importantly you have to feel them.

How you will feel them
You’ll get this pain in your chest. Almost like a quiver in your heart. It will feel worse than anxiety, it will feel worse than getting nervous when you are near your crush. Your heart will stop beating in a way. You won’t feel your normal heart, the normal rhythm. Your heart will feel as though it is shaking, an earthquake is happening inside your chest. Then and only then will you know what it is like to live with more than one heart in your chest.

What it is like to live with more than one heart
You adopt your characters hearts and adapt to them. You will soon see the things that your characters like are the things that you’ll like too. You will see someone and you will think oh that person is so character X’s ideal person and you may slowly start to be attracted to the same style. And it's not because you are losing yourself to your character—although you are in a way—but you are learning yourself through your characters. Sometimes it will because the person will look like a character or have the same behavioral traits as them and that is where it gets dangerous, because no matter how much you want to, you cannot marry your character. But if that person likes you back…well go for it. You in time will learn that the person is a separate entity from your character and learn to love them for who they are and you will also thank your character for introducing you to them. It doesn’t matter if you like someone as a friend, romantically, whatever because they remind you of someone in your book, of course you will be drawn to them, attracted to them, but you have to realize this person is not your character come to life. It is perfectly okay to let that be what attracted you to that person, but you cannot be mad at them if they do not react like your character, behave like your character…and if they do…by all mean marry the person, because you figured it out and brought your character to life so go off and me merry.

Be merry and do lose yourself
But you have to let your characters live off the page and through you if you want a successful story. Because you can’t just sit down with a pen and say, "okay, story time" and write. You need to bring your characters with you everywhere and learn through them and with them and learn them and how they will react. Writing is a 24/7 job not just when you have a pen in your hand. Do not distance yourself from your work, because if you do in time you will no longer pick up a pen.

Share your pens
Don’t be scared by your characters, you created them, let them live. And if need be…give them a pen too.

Side Note
For the love of all things holy I kind of hate the word character(s). To me it is sooooooooooooooooo distancing. To us (to me) they are real; they are more than a one-dimensional ink-conceived literary tool. To me they are three-dimensional and as real as my muse Anne.

Keep writing & remember

Listening to: These Words from Natasha Bedingfield-Natasha Bedingfield

Quotes: “Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.”
—Leslie Gordon Barnard, WD

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”
—Ernest Hemingway

“Whether a character in your novel is full of choler, bile, phlegm, blood or plain old buffalo chips, the fire of life is in there, too, as long as that character lives.”

—James Alexander Thom

Friday, November 7, 2014

FREE - Grave Bound (Secrets, #1) & Left (Still Standing, #1)

For a limited time only, I'm listing two of my books for FREE. Click on the Amazon/B&N link of your choice and download one or both of the books. Consider it a no strings attached gift from me to you and enjoy! 

Grave Bound (Secrets, #1) 


Book cover Designer: Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art

Genre: New Adult Romance - 18+ and older due to language, sexual situations, and violence

Length: 293 pages

Summary: Emily Riddle has lived her entire nineteen years inside a patriarchal commune led by her father and her stepbrothers. There are more rules than she cares to admit, but the most important one, 'keep it in the commune', is the one most difficult for her to abide by... especially since the only people willing to champion her cause live on the outside.

When Emily learns her father and brothers have promised her to Lorenzo, a man she despises down to her core, she rebels. No matter the consequences, she refuses to marry someone who'd rather beat her than caress her.

A day of hooky that starts out as a tiny act of defiance - sneaking out of the commune for a swim - soon turns into the best day of her life. After spending time with Levi, a man camping near the lake, she finds out what true romance looks like and catches a glimpse into a future that's filled with love and admiration rather than hate and submission.

That tiny peek is enough to change the course of Emily's existence and makes it nearly impossible for her to go back to the commune and pretend she will ever be able to tolerate a life chosen for her rather than the life she longs for. One that includes Levi.

Fighting to escape the commune, its leaders, and her fiancĂ© proves to be more dangerous than Emily ever expected. The secrets she knows, as the commune leader's daughter, will either follow her to the grave or send her - and Levi - there.

Book cover Designer: Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art
Photography: Teresa Yeh of Teresa Yeh Photography
Female Hand model: Shana Leah O'Rourke
Male Hand Model: Calen Burr

Genre: New Adult Romance - 18+ and older due to language, sexual situations, and violence

Length: 315 pages

Summary: Your own two feet are all you have when you've been left.

A naive Baylee loves Colt, her boyfriend of four years, more than she ever thought possible. After a little snooping, she's convinced she's well on her way toward hearing an once-in-a-lifetime proposal and starring in the wedding-of-the-year event. Instead, she's blind-sighted by a very public break-up and the crushing news that Colt is marrying someone else... someone more befitting him and the role his father expects him to take in his law firm.

Baylee may have spent years resenting Ariana, her mother, and her suicide, an intolerable show of weakness in Baylee's opinion, but after Colt leaves her just short of the altar, Baylee sees the world through her mother's eyes. She sympathizes with Ariana's actions and realizes that some things—soul deep aches—can irreparably damage you and make moving on nearly impossible.

At least, that's how she feels until she meets Ryker. With his help, Baylee discovers there is life after Colt, and she prepares to move on by pulling herself up by the bootstraps, holding her head high, and standing on her own two feet. Unfortunately, a new jealous and hateful Colt has his own plans for her, and they are plans no one—especially not Baylee—ever saw coming.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chasing the Dragon - 2014 NaNoWriMo Project

Chasing the Dragon (Lost Innocence, #1)
Expected Release Date: 3/1/15
Cover: Catriona Crehan
Expected Number of Pages: 300

Summary (draft):

Coming of Age, Holden Caulfield - that is her real name thanks to her drug addict mother - is as confused, lost, and cynical as her namesake, and the events of her life are just as heartbreaking and heart wrenching. Enduring a life overrun with teenage angst, social alienation, and familial controversy, Holden recounts the days leading up to the one that changed her forever.

After the whole school learns her most private secret - courtesy of Robby, her older brother - Holden's life spirals out of control, and she ends up suspended. Unable to take one more minute of hatefulness from Robby or neglect from her parents (two people who are drug dealers and abusers... who are determined to use and abuse their eight children with the same reckless abandon they do their drugs and clients), Holden runs away.

Homeless, she crosses the path of teachers who've failed her, a priest who doesn't believe her, a boyfriend's brother who can't forgive her, a pimp who wants to employ her, and a sister who can't speak to her. With each interaction, her exploration of life vs. death, growing up vs. growing old, and honesty vs. deceit becomes more and more consuming. 

Mentally scarred beyond repair, Holden begins to feel as if her questions have to be addressed. Sooner rather than later.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Toni's Big Six Journey #6

How realistic do our books need to be?
Seriously, though? Help!
So into my world, or Character L. Charater L has a problem. L wants a way out and by gosh L is going to freak everyone out. The question is…can you make up something that does not exist for your book? I mean if there was a person who could make this happen then it could exist? Technically this does exist just not in the form I want or the intensity, but can I make it be real in my book’s world? And I know I am being vague, but L needs some privacy right now.
Okay, so aside from all that where is the line drawn from fiction to factual. Obviously your book has to follow the rules of life unless it is a sci-fi book, but how far is too far when it is fiction? John Green wrote this well (in the Collectors Edition Acknowledgments of The Fault in Our Stars), “I am also indebted to The Biology of Cancer by Robert A. Weinberg, and to Josh Sundquist, Marshall Urist, and Jonneke Hollanders, who shared their time and expertise with me on medical matters, which I cheerfully ignored when I suited my whims.” and everything seemed copacetic to me. So where did he ignore the advice and make things up? I mean, yes, obviously with the Phalanxifor, but that was real for the book. It was a medicine for HG that exists in the world of the book, just like we have medicines in our world.
Can I ignore some basic rules and do what I want? 
One of my friends who at one point in her teen years wanted to be a nurse said, “your book can be fiction, but it has to be factual.” So again back to the question above can I create a better version, a purer, a realer version of something that exists in our world? 
There have been things I have chosen to ignore for my books and thought I would get into literary realisticality trouble (yes, I make up words to suit my whims), but there is a way for him to do what he has to do in the story and still function and not have trouble with it and I only learned that about two weeks ago, and hell I was going to ignore the real world and just let Devon be Devon.
And who is to say that what you invent, in your characters’ world, for your characters’ world can’t be real? (And I hate calling them characters because they are REAL to me.) Just because it does not exist in our world does not mean it cannot exist for them.  Otherwise what is the point of fiction? Fiction is to take away and create a third-space world for us. You as the writers of fiction are tasked with the burden to create from nothing and create well.  I am using this as an example I am not calling us God. God created the world and everything in it, and I don’t really care at the moment your personal belief, so just work with me here for a minute, ‘kay? God created from nothing, He had to have a lot of imagination, things that He brought into being never existed before.  So why can’t we do the same?
OBVIOUSLY, a talking dog would be sci-fi-esque, for lack of a better example, but who is to say that in the future that isn’t reality? Who is to tell me that Devon cannot do that or that or this, because in reality that just doesn’t happen? Well Devon is Devon and he is who he is and why the hell can’t he be strong and whatever he needs to be for the story?
So, writers, do what you want. Create what you want. Write what you want. If you get feedback that "no this doesn’t feel right, this isn’t realistic" from one person and “I love this” from five others, do what you want. Keep it, trash it. Don’t of course do something ridiculous, but maybe also do. Whatever you do, whatever you write will always be criticized. Someone will claim to be able to write a better version of your story, a more realistic version (they obviously have no imagination). Someone will hate it. Someone will love it. That’s the thing about writing, about story, not every story is for everyone. Every time you put pen to paper you are at a risk. Every time I pick up a book it is a risk of whether or not I will like it or hate it, but no matter what I respect the craft. If I don’t like a book I don’t review it, if I love it I am outspoken on social media about it (Graves has been witness to this).
Write for yourself and for your characters, don’t write for the general public. Yes, of course go for publishing, but remember whom the book is for, you and your darlings. Once you write for someone else or the public you’ve lost the battle before it begins, you’re done. Click your pen closed, cap your pen, break your pencil point, close your computer, shut off the voice to text program, you are finished. Because if you write for someone else you lose sight of what is important. You write for you. You write for your darlings. That is it. It is that simple. That simple.
So what did we learn here? You are the writer—or your characters as my case goes—write what feels right, leave out what doesn’t and just go for it. Write those words, because no one can for you and no one can write like you can write and no one can tell the story the way you can. So tell the story in the words you chose, in the way you chose, and finish it. And do what you need to do after that: publish, share privately, burn the thing. Just do what feels right. And if it horrible, DON’T worry…someone will tell you
Listening to:  The War from The Fragile World (Avox)-David Hodges, John Campbell
Quote: “Fiction is the form of any work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not real, but rather, imaginary and theoretical—that is, invented by the author.” –Wikipedia

Peace, Love, & Inspiration
Keep writing & remember
Toni &

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Happy World Teachers' Day

In honor of World Teachers' Day, I've been thinking about some of my most life-changing moments as it relates to teachers. While there were many, most were associated with the books a few of my favorite teachers encouraged me to read, books that were memorable (much like the wonderful teachers recommending them).

The most unexpected and out of the box for me was The Catcher in the Rye. I'll be the first to say that the book does not follow any sort of typical flow. The narrator is first person. He's all over the map. You've got to work just a little to keep up with him and his flight of ideas. Still, everything about it works. You instantly get into Holden's head and feel sorry for him even though you know he's not yet of age, a heavy smoker, been kicked out of his prep school, and is cynical. Somehow, the entire package is endearing.

The next book that changed the way I read is P. S. I Love You (Sweet Dreams, #1). It's been thirty years since I read that book, and I still remember P. S. (Paul Strobe), I love you.

After that, there is Charlotte's Web. I remember my kindergarten teacher reading this book to my class while we rested our heads after recess. I loved it so much, I begged my mother to by it for me so I could read every word myself. 

The fact that The Catcher in the Rye and Charlotte's Web were still relevant thirty - forty years after they were published (when I read them)... that they are still relevant today speaks to how wonderful these authors are and how powerful their stories were (are). The fact that P. S. I Love You (Sweet Dreams, #1) is a book I still remember speaks to the tenderness of the story.

At the end of the day, I read and fell in love with these stories because a teacher took time from her busy day to share her passion. In my case, I had no choice but to buy and read these books... embrace the characters... and embed them into my heart, mind, and soul because the teachers recommending them had already done the same.

While I'm not sure words are enough, I'll at least try to offer my humble THANKS to the men and women who've pledged to educate our nation's children. Much like nursing, the work is hard and there's not nearly enough reward. I can only hope that teachers know and understand that even if they are not instantly acknowledged for their efforts, their students are taking it all in and allowing words, efforts, and recommendations to shape who they become.  

The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Year: 1951

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists.

It begins, " If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They're quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They're nice and all--I'm not saying that--but they're also touchy as hell. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything. I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean that's all I told D.B. about, and he's my brother and all. He's in Hollywood. That isn't too far from this crumby place, and he comes over and visits me practically every week end. He's going to drive me home when I go home next month maybe. He just got a Jaguar. One of those little English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He's got a lot of dough, now. He didn't use to. He used to be just a regular writer, when he was home. He wrote this terrific book of short stories, The Secret Goldfish, in case you never heard of him. The best one in it was "The Secret Goldfish." It was about this little kid that wouldn't let anybody look at his goldfish because he'd bought it with his own money. It killed me. Now he's out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me."

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

P. S. I Love You (Sweet Dreams, #1)
Author: Barbara Conklin
Date: 1980

When her father left after the divorce, Mariah lost her sense of family. Now she's lost her special summer, too. Instead of fulfilling her dream to become a writer, Mariah has to help her mother with a house-sitting job in very rich, very snobby Palm Springs. People with a lot of money make Mariah uncomfortable. Until she meets Paul Strobe, the rich boy next door. Paul's not a snob and he doesn't act superior. In fact, his sandy sandy hair and piercing blue eyes break down all Mariah's defenses. With Paul, Palm Springs becomes the most romantic place on Earth.

But Paul has to go into the hospital for some tests and then an operation. He's seriously ill and all his family's money can't help him.

Will Maraih lose Paul, too, just when she's found her first love?

Author: E.B. White
Date: 1952

"I don't want to die!
Save me, somebody!
Save me!"

The tale of how a little girl named Fern, with the help of a friendly spider, saved her pig Wilbur from the usual fate of nice fat little pigs.

(From Puffin Books)

An affectionate pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, White reminds readers to open their eyes to the wonder and miracle found in the simplest of things.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Toni's Big Six Journey #5

Being in the writing scene isn't always easy.  In fact it can be quite opposite rather.
I, uhm, I am writing this at 12:31 am 8.12.2014 on my laptop on iCloud notes and I have no idea how I am, but I like it (edited on laptop).

I can see all my old notes and let me tell you I have some weird ones and I have some great ones.  The great thing about being a writer is: NOT EVERYTHING WE WRITE HAS TO BE GOLD, IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE GOOD! In fact my advice is to write something horrible. Misspell words, be grammatically incorrect, let it be AWFUL!, but for the love of all things writerly let it be good.  Let it be you, your mind, your craziness, your hopes and dreams and desires, your fears and worries, let it be free. Don't confine it, don't ever confine anything to being perfect, because that takes the beauty and the art away from the craft and turns it into something scientific.  Let writing be!  Let it be something that cannot be explained, that cannot be contained, that cannot be won or lost, just let it be.

When did we start writing for anyone other than ourselves?  "Published is the goal!" Is something I often reply often when asked what I want to do with my life, as if that is the greatest thing I can do. I mean, yeah, it IS THE GOAL, obviously for all of us.  But shouldn't finishing a book be the goal?  The story is ours, we decided to share it. As writers we are generous people, we are letting someone, lots of someones into our minds.  Now that's intimate.

I often write for my characters and I think that that may be the problem.  I mean I need to keep them in mind and yeah, the books are theirs, but I need to write it for me, so they can live outside of me.  I need them to exist on a plane that is tangible.  You can touch a book, you cannot touch a thought.  And they are wonderful.  I love them more than anyone, more than anything.  And, god, do I wish they were ACTUALLY tangible.  If Devon or Jake or Lennox or oh my god Julien or Adonis were real!  That is the goal, to make them REAL! They are real to me in a way they can never be real to the reader, and for the opposite, they will be real to the reader in a way they cannot be real to me.  That right there…that is the goal.  Yes! Because finishing means letting them live.  They are alive to us, and they need to be alive to the world.

Yeah, that's it.  Share your story, but for the love of all things holy, write for yourself and let your one and only goal be finishing, then you can conquer the publishing world.  Because even if you don't go to print, it doesn't matter, they, our loves, live on paper and that my friends is true beauty.  True beauty.

And in closing, it doesn’t matter what people, the readers, the editors, the reviewers, the betas, the anyones say.  It is yours.  Be proud of it and do NOT let a bad review or bad query experience determine your life.  All that matters is that it is important to you and you alone. And the second thing that matters is: that they, our gorgeous, flawed, broken, sometimes dead characters get to live! They get to live, through us, through paper. And back to the true beauty quote above.

Please send me ideas for what YOU want to see written about!

Peace, Love, & Inspiration
Keep writing & remember

Listening to: Good Enough from The Open Door-Evanescence

Quote: “NEVER LET A WORD DEFINE WHO YOU ARE.” - - Kyle Parsons 

Monday, July 14, 2014

International Author's Day - Secrets & Reveals

I was recently invited by a Facebook Friend, Debdatta Sahay with Bookish Indulgences with Book R3vi3ws, to participate in an previously nonexistent and much needed International Author's Day. Because I thought it was a brilliant idea... one that was a long time coming... I agreed to participate.


In honor of the 'newly anointed' celebration, I'm going to share some secrets & some reveals along with the reason I've been laying low (making fewer Blogger/Facebook posts and pulling back on the number of books I release). I'm sharing because I hope that fans and friends will understand my grand scheme. Of course, with my revelation, they'll realize that there is no big plan only a small one, one that will give them lots of releases at one time rather than one periodically and with a few delays as possible. 

Basically, what I've decided to do is write nonstop, finish books, have them edited, and hold on to them until I have three or four (or maybe more). Then, I plan to take a little time away from writing to do the release day activities, interviews, and review responses (since I try to go out of my way to thank readers/reviewers for their time and their kindness). I'm hoping this new way of doing things will be a satisfier for those readers anxiously awaiting my next releases because each release takes lots of time away from my writing, meaning the next book up gets delayed by four, six, and sometimes eight weeks.

As it stands, I have one book, Since Inception (Vanishing, #1), completed and ready for release. Cheating Time (Longevity, #1) is 86% complete (with writing), Dark Angels of the Cross (Warriors, #4) is 48% complete (with writing),  There (Still Standing, #2) is teed up and ready to be written, and finally, Deep Web (Agent Jen Lanes #1) is 7% complete (with writing). If all goes well, I'll release all of these books around the same time and within weeks of each other.

Until they are released, I'm sharing the books, their summary, and their covers (noting that several have never been released before). Enjoy and thanks so very, very much for your support, patience, and time.

* * * *

Carles "Carlie" Enoch's world was one that could barely be imagined. In it, babies had micropharmeceutical devices inserted in their hearts within hours of birth. The MicroPharm implant held code that secretly counted down until the date of that baby's death (as determined by its genetic analysis) and contained drugs that were released in such a way that chemicals and hormones were in perfect balance at all times, making illness almost unheard of.

Theoretically, the known but unexposed date of the babies' deaths and the maintenance drugs geared toward giving the baby a long life had benign consequences. It was the unknown and unbelievable and unexpected way President John Barone gathered data about every child and the way he released contraceptives from the device in order to control the population and terminate pregnancies when embryos were identified as weak or mutated that made the device and its technology as dangerous as any malignancy.

For President Barone, seventeen-year-old Carlie was not just a MicroPharm first generation, she was the great granddaughter of the man who discovered the ability to determine life expectancy down to the day and the daughter of the woman who invented the MicroPharm chip. Carlie and her family were important to President Barone's political career and the plans he had of creating a nation of strong, healthy, and superior people, ones who gave more to their country than they took.

Jayden St. Romaine, one of the Facet's most loyal Surrogate Soldier, was ordered by President Barone himself to find the Enoche family and kidnap Carlie. Through blackmail, he planned to leverage control over the Enoche's scientific research and the ability to develop even more tools that could be used to genetically engineer a superior race.

When President Barone sent Jayden on his mission, he never expected his perfect soldier to develop a conscience... betray his trust... fall in love with Carlie, but he'd dispatched a back-up Surrogate Soldier just in case. With the ticking of the clock and the second Surrogate chasing them, Jayden's chances at redemption and Carlie's chances of living a life where she was free to make choices about her life and her body were in jeopardy of coming too late.

* * * *

FOLLOW-UP TO LEFT (summary for Left and not There):
A naive Baylee loves Colt, her boyfriend of four years, more than she ever thought possible. After a little snooping, she's convinced she's well on her way toward hearing an once-in-a-lifetime proposal and starring in the wedding-of-the-year event. Instead, she's blindsided by a very public breakup and the crushing news that Colt is marrying someone else… someone more befitting him and the role his father expects him to take in his law firm.

Baylee may have spent years resenting Ariana, her mother, and her suicide, an intolerable show of weakness in Baylee's opinion, but after Colt leaves her just short of the altar, Baylee sees the world through her mother's eyes. She sympathizes with Ariana's actions and realizes that some things—soul-deep aches—can irreparably damage you and make moving on nearly impossible.

At least that's how she feels until she meets Ryker. With his help, Baylee discovers there is life after Colt, and she prepares to move on by pulling herself up by the bootstraps, holding her head high, and standing on her own two feet. Unfortunately, a new jealous and hateful Colt has his own plans for her, and they are plans no one—especially Baylee—ever saw coming.

* * * *
After discovering she has a problem worse than anything she could have ever imagined, Rainey Billows longs for the past—a time when she thought she was just a sadistic sleepwalker. Worse yet, this problem has been with her since inception.

Rainey, a woman who's suffered an entire lifetime of pain and humiliation because of her sleepwalking, is financially desperate when she takes in Carter Dodson as a boarder. With his presence in her house and her attraction to him, her internal conflicts, ones she's usually able to ignore, swim to the surface and take control. Before she knows it, her sleepwalking moves to a completely new level, and she's doing things she'd never thought possible.

In fear for Carter's life and without options, Rainey sentences herself to a nighttime ritual that would appear barbaric to others. In her mind, it's essential because, unlike anyone else, she knows firsthand the types of atrocities she's capable of in her sleep.

Carter, a man branded as unconditionally loyal by his friends, knows very little about Rainey but decides early on that she's a woman who has no one… a woman who needs someone. He commits himself to being that person for her. As soon as she makes her first request of him—to ignore her and her nighttime rituals no matter what she says or does—he reconsiders his pledge before quickly reminding himself he can't abandon her. She's had enough of that.

Months later, study, research, and theories are not enough, and standing by is no longer an option. Carter suspects what's wrong with her. What she is. With his suspicions in tow, he searches out and enlists the help of Luke, a childhood friend who's fast-tracking his way to priesthood. After a series of unforeseen and life-threatening events, the two men learn that even the Almighty himself may not be able to help Rainey.

* * * *

Allison La Crosse's journey continues at full speed. With barely enough time to process her heartbreak, she learns danger has followed her from the Underwater Realm, and with it, she sees firsthand how potent the fury of a scorned woman can be. When Sheza orders Crux, the latest Dark Fallen Angel, to hunt and kill Allison, the fight for her life begins anew.

Making the adventure all the more interesting and dangerous, Allison learns that promises, pledges, blood bonds, and commitments made in the heat of the moment cannot be ignored or matter how much she would like to do just that.

Allison's most-recent Disciple, Hestia, is Crux's soul mate. For her sake, Allison, Brody, Clark, Daryl, and Neptune join forces and journey into Demesne's Inferno, a land comparable to Hell. It's the only place where Crux's soul can be rescued from the darkest angel of all.

* * * *

In FBI Special Agent Jen Lanes's world, everything is black or white—good or bad. At least it is until she's put in charge of the team assigned with bringing Troy Rhodes, her first and only true love, to justice. The instant Jen comes face to face with Troy, she realizes her feelings for him are as deep, tangled, and confusing as the secret web he uses to broker deals for anything and everything. Legal and illegal.

Jen is the best in her field because she understands the criminal element in ways none of her peers ever will. Making her superiors nervous is the fact that her familiarity with felons' thoughts and actions has nothing to do with her on-the-job experience. Instead, it has everything to do with Ben, her grifter father, and his gang of criminals, who went underground at her house so often Jen considered them family.

In her house hiding out with Peter, his computer-hacking father, is where Jen met Troy fifteen years ago. At nine, he was as tall and lanky as he was afraid for his father. By the time Jen and Troy were teenagers, the two of them had spent more time living together than apart, and they had grown unbelievably close. Even today, Jen's best and worst memories live embedded within each other, so connected that the worst could never be teased away from the best without losing Troy forever.

It was New Year's Eve and they were both fourteen. Their fathers were drunkenly celebrating the success of a job that had paid more than enough to get them and their kids out of the business once and for all. While the men toasted the New Year and planned a life where the four of them could start over, Troy took Jen by the hand, led her to their special hideaway, and kissed her for the first time.

That day, one of tree houses… new beginnings... first loves... pubescent exploration, was the day the world shattered. Oblivious to the rest of the word, they swayed happily among the treetops while agents stormed Jen's house and killed Ben and Peter. Before Jen could process the bloody, violent scene before them, she was ripped from Troy's arms—despite his demands they be allowed to stay together—and thrown into the back of an unmarked car.

A week later, Jen was living with an aunt she never knew existed, and based on the FBI's criminal profile, Troy followed in his father's footsteps, getting lost within the deep web.

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