My inspiration for Khalid – my novel’s anti-hero
I am very proud of my current progress on writing Between the Demon and the Deep Blue Sea and I’m grateful for the support of my critique partners and friends, who have had a chance to read some of it. Although, I haven’t begun revising the novel – I’m currently still in the drafting phase (and even that is more of a skeleton draft) – I am excited to share a teaser from the opening chapter.
The winter chill bit into her skin, but Shay valiantly ignored the discomfort as she navigated her way through shadows and moonlight. The heels of her borrowed six-inch stilettos clicked on the pavement. There were no security cameras in the empty parking lot. The lighting dim. And the only other residents nearby were two rooms down, with the curtains drawn.
The Casablanca Motel, located in the part of Vancouver that would never make it into travel brochures, made the perfect hiding spot. Officially, it was a roadside retreat for the desperate, weary traveler. Unofficially, the motel offered its clients services of the check in, make out, and check out variety. The oh-so-romantic decor included an overflowing green garbage bin. Nearby, a rat enjoyed the seedy ambience as it nibbled delicately on a fuzzy, half-eaten slice of pepperoni pizza from Peppito’s Pizzeria…or so the cardboard container claimed. She was sure that Peppito — whoever he was — would love to know that his clientele had expanded to the four-legged variety.
Deciding that it was better to give the rodent and his dinner some privacy, Shay focused on room 409. Her target was in that room. According to the file that she had received from River Cameron, her best friend and boss, the werewolf she was tracking currently went by the name of Ambrose Bellwood. The very active Mr. Bellwood was accused of identity fraud, grand theft auto, money laundering, drug trafficking…and the list went on. Apparently, if one lived as long as werewolves did, you could really diversify your personal portfolio. But it wasn’t until recently, when Bellwood added murder to his repertoire during his escape from police custody, that someone in charge decided enough was enough and the city’s enforcers had been called to deal with the problem. It wasn’t unusual. The Enforcers Academy had more manpower and better resources to deal nonhuman threats, but working for the police meant that they were basically doing this for free. But as River claimed, occasional charity work was good publicity for the Academy.
As an enforcer, Shay had been tasked with the job of hauling Bellwood’s ass back to jail for a much needed time out — okay, so the official job description may have varied a bit in phrasing, but the sentiment was the same.
It was too bad the order hadn’t said dead or alive. A kill order would have saved Shay at least twenty-four hours of surveillance time, not to mention she could have avoided having to squish her feet into heels that were a size too small. The back of her ankles stung with every step. Shay was going to have an angry set of blisters by the time this job was over. Unfortunately, her orders were to bring in Bellwood alive because her contact in the RCMP wanted him to roll over and tattle on his accomplices. That, of course, meant finding a way to get close to him.
It had been River’s idea that the easiest way to get close to him was to play on his weakness for scantily dressed females….hence, the blink-and-it-might-disappear dress and medieval torture devices on her feet.
Shay bent one leg to massage her ankle before continuing the rest of the way to Bellwood’s room. When she was less than a foot away from the door, she paused. Like the rest of the motel, the door needed to be doused in bleach. It was marked with fingerprints and a rainbow of stains. Shay curled her nose at the thought of having to touch her knuckles to the incognito petri dish, but steeled herself to knock.
River needs to give me a raise.
She pulled her hand away from the door after knocking thrice. Absently, she rubbed the back of her dirtied appendage on the ridiculously expensive scrap of cloth she was wearing. The red silk rasped against her skin.
Shay barely managed to get the look of disgust off her face before the door swung open. Bellwood stood on the other side, wearing an unbuttoned white dress shirt and black pants. Both looked expensive.
Well, well, well, I guess crime pays after all.
Shay is such an easy character to write. Her voice comes naturally, but other characters – Khalid, and even River, who both make appearances later – are a bit harder to write. The story is written in third person, but I’m playing it safe and writing most of the novel from Shay’s focal point. I have drafted a chapter – just one – from Khalid’s perspective and it was a difficult transition because I still don’t know him very well as a character.
Which brings me to the question – how well do you actually need to know your characters before you start writing a story?
I never know my characters until I start putting words to paper, but they begin to flesh out as the plot develops. Of course, this may or may not be the best method for writing.
Hope you enjoyed the teaser,
Rika Ashton (aka The Tentative Writer)
Fellow writer and critique partner, June Hur, nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award and I graciously accept the invitation to participate in the blog tour and share seven interesting facts about my life.
- Share 7 Lovely Facts about yourself.
- Link to 15 blogs (or as many as possible) that you enjoy reading…I just picked my top five favourite blogs to visit that haven’t already been nominated…I hope.
- Nominate the authors of those 15 (or however many you chose) blogs to participate and do the same, linking back to the blog that nominated you – which would be this blog.
My nominees will be further down in the post – but first, for my seven hour long acceptance speech:
A-hem…I feel quite blessed to receive this great badge of honour and I would like to thanks the universe for finally recognizing my genius, my family and friends – including my mom and dad, my several aunts and uncles, my grandparents on both sides, my cousins, my neighbour’s cat…here’s to you Patrick…the lady who works at the Dynamite store in the mall who always brings me my size –
CHAOS: Stop! This is all wrong.
APOLLO: *making a rare appearance off the pages of my manuscript* I agree, you’ll bore them to tears. Have you never heard of keeping it short and sweet?
DELPHYNE: *also jumping off my manuscript and smirking* Yeah, like Apollo’s c–
APOLLO: *glaring at Delphyne* Don’t say it!
DELPHYNE: *shrugging with a grin* I was going to say cat.
CHAOS: I’m a cat!
APOLLO and DELPHYNE: We know.
CHAOS: Oh…well, I just wanted to say that the speech was all wrong.
ME: How do you mean?
CHAOS: I should have been the first person you mentioned…not, not PATRICK!
APOLLO and DELPHYNE: *eyeroll*
CHAOS: Am not!
APOLLO, DELPHYNE and ME: Are too!
CHAOS: *saunters off*
Well, thanks to that untimely interruption I’ve lost my train of thought – anyone who was not mentioned in the acceptance speech will just have to blame Chaos.
But now for seven curious facts about my life:
1. I am a chronic binge-watcher of anime series. I’ve watched everything from Skip Beat (with English subtitles) to Dragonball Z (a childhood favourite) and Death Note.
2. I’ve had three near death experiences…two by nearly drowning.
Sad fact is that I still don’t know how to swim, and I probably never will. The whole “your natural survival instincts will kick in to save you thing” never really happened…I just got tall enough to stand up in the pool.
3. My childhood (and current) dream is to fly.
You can probably blame this on that fact that I read way too many paranormal romance novels with angels, etc. Plus then I could be a crime fighting superhero who wears heels…because I’d never have to walk again!
4. My favourite Greek myth is the one about Narcissus…I could really relate to how he fell in love with himself, lol.
5. If I could go back in time, I would…and then I’d kill the guy who invented Math.
And it wouldn’t be a pansy-ass assassination either, but real hard core and one that would require elaborate planning, costumes, and theme music.
6. I have a LOVE for gaudy nail paint colours.
Bright blue, neon pink, highlighter yellow…BRING IT ON!
7. I once appeared on a TV new cast, but I missed it.
I’ve been trying to recapture my 15 seconds of fame ever since.
And here are my nominees:
1. Priscilla Shay
She is fascinated with all things historical and the only way she can explain it is by claiming she was – clearly – born in the wrong century. (Although, she has been dabbling in the Paranormal and Young Adult.) She currently lives in NY and holds a B.A. in English: Creative Writing, Honors and a M.A. in History. She is also a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America). When not writing she can be found in a corner crafting, drawing, or baking.
2. Ki Pha
I’m a reader! Plus an artist. I also write and am a habitual daydreamer, with out of the world crazy imaginings that I can never write down quick enough onto paper. I’m a hoarder of print books and need a new bookshelf. Plus having a Kindle is not helping in my book binge.
3. Wicked Scribes
(A very mysterious book blogger with an interest in paranormal romance and fantasy novels, but no official bio.)
4. Rakes and Rascals
I’m a young-at-heart 67 year old retiree living in the small town of Penarth, South Wales, UK…I love Historical Romances but I do occasionally read Contemporary and Erotic Romances. Although I don’t read Paranormal Romances, I make an exception for J. R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
5. Noelle Pierce
My world is convoluted, random, and sometimes confusing, but it only matches all my roles in life: mother, student, teacher, artist, wife, daughter, writer. I love to laugh, believe in destiny, and try to see the silver lining around every cloud. Watching thunderstorms is a favored pastime of mine and I love living in a big city with lots to do. I don’t ever get to do any of it, but I like knowing it’s there.
Have fun! And don’t forget to visit Ms. Hur’s blog and check out her answers!
(aka “I should start writing down my acceptance speech for when Oprah contacts me to appear on her show.”)
Rika’s in the hermit cave, as of two hours ago, and she’s asked me to post a quick update about what’s happening on the blog. So, in order to keep this real short, here are the highlights:
1. As of a few days ago, we are no longer accepting review requests. (We had fifteen in the past week alone, which when added to the ARCs Rika already had means we have well over twenty books to read and review in the next few weeks alone. We’ll be posting the reviews for some books on this blog and other will go to Romance Reader at Heart: Novel Thoughts and Book Talk – and will later be reblogged here. So stay tuned for those!) We will be open for requests at a later date, but let Rika finish with these books first.
2. Also as of a few days ago, I am trying to talk Rika into recruiting some new reviewers for the blog, so we’ll see how that goes. (Control freak that she is, this is actually going to be a tough negotiation.)
3. Rika has assured me that she will have a few more short teasers and excerpts from Dagger of the Sun (DOTS) to post soon. So that’s more Kael, Delphyne and Apollo for y’all!
4. We will also be launching the new DOTS page sometime in May/June – more about that later.
5. Rika is also working on the final draft of the DOTS Underworld map, and we will share a picture of this on the new page.
6. Finally, Rika is once again working 3 jobs, so production on the blogging front will slow down a little, but she’s asked me to pick up the slack – and so I shall.
And that’s all for the site updates for now, more to come later when we’ve made some significant headway into our to-do list.
–Chaos Ashton 🙂
(aka The Sometimes Blogger)
P.S: For more amazing cat art and an article exposing some shocking truths by Adam Ellis, go here.
Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m making a few changes to the blog. I just thought it was time to update the review policy and come up with some coherent rating system for future reviews, especially since I’ve recently begun to juggle ARCs in addition to the regular writing load.
Chaos and I are trying to get the contact and review forms up and running. They are not working yet, so if you try to send a message I’m afraid your AMAZING FAN MAIL will, unfortunately, be lost in cyberspace. (If you’re sending hate mail – likely to Chaos – he can only be thankful for this.)
But as soon as the forms are up and running we will let you know. 🙂
(aka Web Admin)
As most of you might already know DOTS (aka Dagger of the Sun) is undergoing some changes. The more time I spend in my fictionalized version of Ancient Greece, the more the world expands – in particular, the Underworld. The Underworld in DOTS is actually a world within a world, and in my version it existed long before Hades claimed it for the dead. And unlike the surface world of mortal Greece, which with the exception of supernatural elements, is mostly true to history – the Underworld is almost 99% a fictionalized landscape. I’m having loads of fun naming places and coming up with groups of people who inhabit the different landscapes of the Underworld.
Best of all, I actually get to stretch my creative muscles a bit and create a map of the Underworld. I actually get to draw! (Or at least I like to call all the chicken scratch I’m throwing on paper “drawing.”)
Of course, not all of the terrain with be revealed in the first book, so I don’t get to draw a complete map…otherwise that would be some major spoilage for book two, but what I do get to include is very detailed.
But I have to say: PLEASE, DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH from this map – I am NOT an artist and therefore, it’s going to be a very amateurish attempt at drawing a map.
However, despite the fact that it will be a very embarrassing attempt, I will still swallow my pride and share on the blog.
And for those of you still not deterred and unafraid of having your eyes bleed, I do have a very bad rough draft.
To make up for my bad mapping skills, I’ll share a teaser from DOTS. This is a scene that happens way later in the novel, and features Bae and Kael. The gentlemen are discussing Bae’s rigorous training schedule for Delphyne.
Ben Hill, my inspiration for Bae.
“Do you think I’m being too hard on her?” Bae asked.
Kael thought about the still-healing cut that he had seen running down the length of Delphyne’s right arm. The fabric of the bandage she’d hastily wrapped around the wound had been soaked through. He had been ready to drive his fist though Bae’s face last night, but had been halted by the words Delphyne had whispered to him in the flickering candlelight of their bedchamber.
“I’m still alive, aren’t I?” She had shrugged, not without flinching. “And as incredible as this may seem at the moment, I do plan to stay that way.”
“I think it’s good for her,” Bae continued, dunking his hands into a basin full of water. He splashed a handful of the water on his face, using the clear liquid to rub away the dirt and sweat of the day’s training session. “But I figured if you’re itching to slit my throat, you might as well get it over with so we can both move on.”
A river of fire. That’s how Delphyne’s wound had looked the night before. A vermilion streak over sun-kissed skin. This morning it had been the finest white line. It was healing. Fast.
So much faster than before.
“No,” said Kael. “I don’t want to slit your throat for hurting my wife.”
Bae looked at him in surprise.
“I want you to keep training her…until she’s strong enough to slit your throat on her own.”
And there you have it! I had to cut out some parts from the scene – because some things that Kael says are spoilers – but I felt relatively safe uploading this.
Hopefully you enjoyed the little snippet, and now I have to get back to writing! 😀
(aka The Mapmaker)