Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Facelift (Coverlift?) and Sneak Peeks
I'm in the editing process for the sequel to INEVITABLE. Since I want all the books in the series to match, I decided INEVITABLE needed a new cover!
Without further ado, here it is! What's really exciting is the cover to the sequel, which I can hardly wait to share with you. Let me just say, it's beautiful!
On another note, I'm looking for beta readers to help me read over the sequel before it goes to print. I won't be done with edits until probably April, and that's when I need readers. A beta reader is someone who reads a copy of the book that might not be completely finished and helps the author find mistakes and errors before it goes to press. If you're interested, please respond to this email and let me know!
(I'm also looking for beta readers for Walker Wildcats Year 2! This book will be available to read in March.)
From the outside Jayne is an ordinary high school student. On the inside, Jayne also has a special gift slash curse: when she looks into certain people's eyes, she's able to See their death, all of which end tragically. When Aaron, a new guy transfers to her high school, it's inevitable that their eyes will meet. Falling in love has suddenly become very complicated.
Grab your ereaders and feast your eyes on some fantastic science fiction and fantasy books! 100+ books to choose from, all priced at $0.99 or FREE! Click the link to see the sale!
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Just for being one of my readers, here is a special sneak peek of the first two chapters of Walker Wildcats Year 2 #1: Creature Comforts! More chapters coming later!
Home from Arizona
Cassandra Jones stopped just inside the entryway of her parents' plantation-style house and dropped her suitcase. After a week in the arid heat of the Arizona desert, she welcomed the comfort of the sticky Arkansas humidity. This was home to her.
Besides, she and her younger sister Emily had Girls Club Camp in a week. She'd get to see her best friend Riley again for the first time all summer. That was more exciting than flying across the country without her parents, or spending a week feeding apples to her grandparents' sheep.
"Put your suitcase in your room," her dad said, coming in behind her. Her two sisters and brother followed. Cassie picked her bag up and went to the room she shared with Emily.
It was just as messy as she remembered it. Her parents had taken down the bunk bed, and now Cassie and Emily had two twin beds filling up the space in their tiny bedroom. Scattered everywhere between the beds and on every exposed square of carpet were clothes, toys, books, and old homework papers. Cassie wrinkled her nose. She'd kind of hoped her mom would clean their room while they were gone.
"Ugh, I have to pee again!" Dumping her stuff on the bed, Cassie raced to the bathroom. Last night and this morning, she'd had to use the bathroom more times than she could count.
From the toilet, she listened to everyone getting settled in the house around her. Someone said something about the kitten, and Cassie wobbled on the toilet, wanting to see how the baby cat was doing. But she hadn't peed yet. Giving up, she washed her hands and left the bathroom.
The cat had gotten bigger, hardly even a kitten anymore. Cassie played with him until the sight of her dad bringing in colorful plastic bags attracted her attention. "What's that? Groceries?" She followed her father into the kitchen.
"Fireworks." Mr. Jones set the bags on the table and grinned behind his mustache. "It's the fourth of July. I thought we'd get started."
Scott, her younger brother, joined Cassie at the table. "Fireworks!"
"They're for after dinner," Mr. Jones said, shooing them away. "We have to wait for it to get dark."
The sky finally darkened enough for fireworks around nine o'clock. Cassie followed her dad out in her flip-flops, joining her siblings as they lit sparklers, cheering and hooting in the front yard.
Mr. Jones looked at Cassie. "Will you turn on the floodlights? It's a bit dark out here."
The switch to the flood lights was in the garage, just around the corner. "Sure," Cassie said, moving across the driveway. She stepped into the pitch black ground between the driveway and the side door. Locked. She gave the handle one more good twist just to be sure. "It's locked," she called to her dad. "I'll have to go in the house and do it." She took a step toward the driveway and winced when a branch poked her in the side of the foot. "Ow," she grumbled.
Her dad had out the Black Cats now and barely glanced at her when she came back to the front porch.
"I have to go inside," she repeated, in case he hadn't heard her. "It's locked."
"That's fine," he said. "We'll be here. Tell your mom we're waiting for her."
Cassie made a face as she opened the front door. Her foot stung where the branch had pricked her. "Mom!" she called. "Dad's waiting for you."
Her mom poked her head out of the kitchen, looking slightly frazzled. "No one's been helping me clean up, so he'll just have to wait."
Cassie heard the chastisement but brushed it off, determined not to be guilted into cleaning. "I stepped on a branch and it poked my foot." The stinging had turned into a definite throbbing now.
Mrs. Jones came into the entryway and looked at Cassie's foot, irritation marking her features. "Cassandra, put shoes on! We don't go outside in flip-flops!"
Cassie hurried to her bedroom and plopped onto the floor. Outside, she could hear her dad and brother lighting more fireworks. The shrill whistles echoed around the house, and she wished she were still outside. Her mom's voice joined the foray, yelling about something.
A moment later Emily entered the bedroom too. "I don't see why we can't wear flip-flops," she grumbled, coming in behind Cassie. She quickly slipped some tennis shoes on over her bare feet.
Cassie winced as she pulled off her flip-flop, then cradled her left foot in her hands. She bent her head over it, long dark brown hair falling around her face. "My foot really hurts."
"Humph." Emily just grunted and left the room.
Abandoning her tennis shoes, Cassie went for the clogs in the back of the closet. Her foot hurt too much to put on a shoe that would cover it completely. She got the clogs on but cringed with each step. She hobbled down the hall to the entryway, where her mom stood waiting for her.
"Come on," Mrs. Jones said, glancing out the window toward the rest of the family. "We're the only ones not out there."
Each step felt like a knife digging into Cassie's foot. She sat down and clutched her foot to her chest. "Mom, it really hurts."
Mrs. Jones rolled her eyes and heaved a sigh. "Cassie, honestly."
Now even her ankle throbbed. Cassie bit her lower lip, fighting tears. "Really, Mom. It really hurts."
"Take your shoe off."
Cassie gripped the end of the clog and pulled, but it was stuck. She tugged harder, trying not to yelp at the pain. She finally grasped the shoe and yanked it off.
Her foot, which minutes before had looked perfectly normal, had now swollen up so that a large round welt sat on top of her toes.
Her mom uttered a gasp. "What happened.?"
Cassie shook her head, a tear escaping her eyes and trailing off the tip of her nose. "I don't know. I was just walking around the driveway to turn on the lights, and I stepped on something. I thought it was a stick. It stung me."
Mrs. Jones knelt in front of Cassie. She took her foot in her hands, and Cassie cried out.
"Shh," her mom murmured. "I'm looking for a wound."
Cassie tried not to cry as her mom tenderly turned her leg over and examined her insole.
"I see a few pin pricks right here. Could be from a stick that poked you. Come on, let's get you to the couch." Her mom put her arms around Cassie and helped her walk to the living room.
The pain was worse now, coursing up her leg in waves. Cassie couldn't stop the tears, though she tried to slow them down by taking deep breaths.
Mrs. Jones stepped outside. "Jim," she said, "we have to stop. Cassie got hurt."
"Tell her to shake it off and come do fireworks with us."
"Jim." A warning note entered her mom's voice. "You need to come in here."
He must have heard it too, because he came back in without further argument. The other kids followed, and Cassie lowered her eyes to hide her tears.
Her dad examined her foot in silence, not bending to touch her. "What happened?"
"She stepped on something," her mom said, shoving a hand through her short brown hair in a nervous gesture. "She thought it was a stick."
"It's all big," Scott said, leaning over to stare at her foot.
"Get back!" Cassie snapped, wishing they'd all go away. She began crying in earnest now, not able to cope with the knives of agony slicing up and down her leg.
"I'll get the neighbors. They might know what it is." Mr. Jones walked out of the house.
"Emily, take everyone else to your room," Mrs. Jones said. Emily herded the younger children away, and Mrs. Jones sat by Cassie, taking her hand. "How bad is it, honey?"
"Really bad," Cassie sobbed. She couldn't think through it. Fire seemed to be dancing around her foot, over her skin, under her skin, boiling her blood. She squeezed her mom's hand and cried.
Mr. Jones finally came back in with Mr. Peterson, their neighbor, and his two oldest daughters. Mr. Peterson was a true Ozarkie, with a long, bristly gray beard, overalls, and a baseball cap on his head. The Petersons lived in a large log cabin at the bottom of the hill that he'd built with his own two hands.
"Get ice," Mr. Peterson told the older daughter. She hurried to the kitchen. He turned to the younger one. "Take care of the smaller children." She left to find Emily and the others. Mr. Peterson faced Mrs. Jones now. "She been bit or stung by something. Can' say fer sure what." He picked up her foot, and Cassie screamed.
The older daughter reappeared with a bowl of ice. "Here." She handed it to Mrs. Jones, who placed it on top of Cassie's foot.
Cassie jerked away from it. "No, no, no!" she cried. "It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!"
"What is it? What got her?" Mrs. Jones asked, her voice wobbly.
"Could be scorpion. Maybe snakebite. You need to get her to the hospital."
"You take her," Mr. Jones said. "I'll stay here."
"You both go," Mr. Peterson said. "The girls and I will watch your children."
Mrs. Jones was already grabbing her purse and the car keys. "Carry her to the car, Jim."
Cassie felt her dad's arms go around her, lifting her from the couch with a small grunt. "Thank you," he said to their neighbor.
From their seven-acre, plantation-style house in the heart of the Ozark mountains, the nearest hospital was only a fifteen-minute drive. But for Cassie, who felt like her leg had tripled in size and turned into a fire pit, the drive took an eternity. She sobbed into her hands and bit her knuckles to stifle the pain. "It hurts, it hurts, it hurts," she moaned over and over again, the chant becoming something of a mantra.
"Listen to you," her mom said, leaning over the seat and trying to laugh. "You sound so silly."
The humor was completely lost on Cassie. She just bit her knuckle harder and cried some more.
Mr. Jones stopped at the ER long enough to get a wheelchair, and then he parked the car while Mrs. Jones wheeled Cassie inside.
Cassie calmed down a little bit in the hospital. Her foot still burned and had grown heavy as lead. She tried to move it and couldn't. Her body began to shake, and her teeth chattered.
"Are you cold?" Mrs. Jones asked, moving Cassie to a corner once she'd signed them in.
Cassie shook her head, but her whole body trembled. Even her good leg bounced up and down.
And then she felt something else. A small burning urge. "I need to pee," she gasped out.
Her mom stroked her hair. "Okay, honey. We'll get you to a bathroom as soon as we get checked in.
The waiting room was full. A man with his head wrapped in a bandage leaned over his knees, hands around his forehead. A baby cried in a woman's arms. A bleeding man on a stretcher flew past them, moaning as the paramedics ran him through the waiting room. Cassie kept glancing at the clock. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Her dad came in, scanning the room until he saw them.
"You haven't been seen yet?" he asked, his face a mask of annoyance.
A nurse poked her head out the sign-in window. "Cassandra Jones?"
Finally. Her mom wheeled her over and quickly explained the situation. The whole time, Cassie didn't stop shaking. She clamped her teeth together to stop the chattering, but her jaw shook instead.
"Let's get her back to a room and take a look," a man in white scrubs said behind the window. He had a friendly face, young, with curly brown hair. "Looks like she's in shock."
Cassie tugged on her mom's arm as they wheeled her away. "Bathroom, Mom."
"Doctor," her mom said, stopping him as he directed them to a small room, "she needs to use the bathroom."
"Oh, I'm just a nurse. We'll get right on that. Let's put her on this bed first."
The room looked more like what she might expect at a doctor's office than a hospital. It had a small bed with a white cloth on it, a counter, and several containers full of cotton balls, swabs, bandages, and the like. The nurse and her mom lifted her onto the bed, and Cassie's stomach churned. She swallowed hard.
"I'll be right back with a doctor," the man said.
Cassie's mom wrapped her arms around her shoulders, but suddenly Cassie's insides revolted. She snapped forward and vomited all over the ground. She cried again, the tears rolling down her face as she dry heaved.
Her mom grabbed a cup of water and rinsed off Cassie's face, using paper towels she found on the counter. "It's okay. It's okay," she soothed.
Cassie started to respond, but instead she leaned over and puked again. A warmth trickled out between her legs. In spite of the pain in her foot and the unrest in her stomach, shame crept up her face. Twelve years old, and she'd wet herself. "Mom," she whispered as her mother wiped her mouth down again, "I just peed my pants."
"It's okay. It's okay, sweetheart."
Cassie's chest heaved, and her shoulders shook.
"Okay," the nurse said, coming back in. "The doctor will be in here—"
Mrs. Jones jumped to her feet and went around the bed. "I told you she needed to use the bathroom! Do you know how embarrassing it is for a twelve-year-old girl to have an accident here in front of you male nurses and doctors?" Her face was red, her eyes glistening as she shook her finger in the young man's face. "You should have taken her to the bathroom when I first told you to!"
"I-I'm sorry, Ma'am," he stuttered, his own face flushing. "I'm very sorry. Let me help clean this up."
"No! You get out! I want a female nurse in here!"
Cassie actually felt sorry for him as he hurried away, but her thoughts didn't dwell on him for long. The pain in her leg was growing, traveling up to her knee cap, making her feel stiff and tired.