Monday, October 15, 2012

Necromancing Nim--Coming Soon!!

When last we spoke—a nearly unforgivably long time ago (please forgive me, omg)—I was yammering about learning Russian and posting still more pictures of Evgeni Malkin. Today I’m going to yammer about something else. My new book! Which is coming out really soon! A week from tomorrow, in fact!

You can read what it’s about at the buy links. I’m going to tell you how I came to write it.

(Here, have a buy link: Necromancing Nim)

When I first started writing with intent to publish, I focused on science fiction and fantasy because that was what I loved the most. Later, after some failures in that area, I moved to romance because it was a big market and I discovered I liked reading it far more than I’d expected. These interests became a big mish-mash that eventually turned into paranormal and futuristic romance.

I don’t think I’d heard the term Urban Fantasy back then. I’m not sure it was a term that was being bandied about much at the time. But I knew I liked books that mixed contemporary settings with paranormal elements, which was what I found myself writing with my paranormal romance.

When Urban Fantasy started becoming a “thing,” I decided I wanted to write one. I’d had a character name knocking around my head for a while, but I wasn’t sure what she would be up to once I started writing about her. Finally, one afternoon at work when I was bored, I put pen to paper and started fiddling with a first person perspective to see what would come out. I remember it was a red pen. I even remember exactly what kind of pen. I won’t go into detail because you probably don’t care, but this just demonstrates that my brain is weird.

I wrote a couple of pages and quit. First person is hard, yo! Especially when you’ve never really written that way. But I picked it up again later. People kept posting writing challenges on Live Journal, and I’d go back to the book and use it to meet the challenge criteria. I joined NaNoWriMo and managed to add about 30,000 words during that November. Then it languished until the next November, when I added another 20 or 30K. I think I went through three NaNoWriMos with the same manuscript before I finally finished it.

(Here, have another buy link: Necromancing Nim at Amazon. I'm trying to be subtle. Is it working?)

Then I started rewriting. I rewrote the first third I don’t know how many times trying to get the voice to work. Because I wrote it over such an extended period of time, the pieces didn’t always fit together right. Something I set up in the first section would be completely contradicted in the second. So I tore out a lot and put in new stuff. My best friend and critique partner informed me she hated a big chunk, so I redid that bit, too. (She was right. She almost always is.)

I submitted it. I got rejections. I got a request for a full from two different places. I was happy. Then I got more rejections. I put it away for a while again.

Finally I resurrected the story and sent it to my editor at Samhain. I’d done still more revisions between the last rejection and this submission, trying to address some of the issues the rejectors in question had brought up. And finally, Nim found a home. We changed the title, added quite a few scenes, cleared up some inconsistencies, buffed and polished and all that jazz. I’m pretty happy with the final result.

(Have a Nook? Here, try this link: Necromancing Nim.)

I do have to warn my readers, though, that this book is very different from previous books I’ve published. I think it has a lot of similarities to the Vampire Apocalypse series, but it’s not a sweet-ish romance. The heroine has hard edges on her. There are two heroes. There are ménage shenanigans. There are vampire shenanigans. There’s a hell of a lot of swearing (sorry, Mom). But there’s a lot of emotion and humor and action and Nim is pretty kickass, in my overly biased opinion. So I hope you’ll give it a look, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.


Fangs-deep in debt? Visit Bernstein & Carter for full-service financial management, structured with the modern vampire in mind. Visit us today at our convenient Lower-Lower Downtown location. Vampire-Owned and Registered in Denver, Colorado since 1972.—from the Bernstein & Carter Financial Services brochure.

Chapter One

Working for a vampire is fun. Vampires are cool, and the coolness rubs off. People are scared of you because they think your boss might bite them if they piss you off. At parties, you can tell people you work for a vampire, and their eyes get big and they take a step back, and for a few seconds, they can’t quite eat their crab puffs. And the vampire boss is always rich and hot, with a nice car and a penchant for cute human girls.

At least, that’s the way it always is on TV. But my vampire boss is an asshole, and I, the cute human girl, work in collections, because I suck as a receptionist.

Tonight, collections meant standing in the middle of the sidewalk at eleven-thirty p.m., under a shot-out streetlight, staring at the looming, gloomy house that was the target of my current appointment. The neighborhood, about five miles south of Denver, wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either; one of those odd residential pockets in Englewood that had never settled into all-human or all-vamp dwellings. Cute, cheery little ranch homes sat cheek by jowl with narrow, windowless vamp townhouses. This house was among the latter. I was beginning to think flipping burgers for humans would have been a better option than approaching whatever organizationally challenged vamp lived behind that decidedly unwelcoming front door. Hell, if it was all about working for vampires, serving blood shots at the local fang bar would be better than this.

But Colin, my asshole vampire boss of two years, had put this address on the top of my list of stops for tonight, so knocking on the door was my job.

“Mitch totally fucked this one up,” he’d said. “Pissed his pants and ran away like a little girl. You take it tonight—I want it done.”

I decided not to point out that, unlike Mitch, I actually was a girl. And little. “Why?”

“You make more than Mitch. If you get eaten, or I have to fire you for rabbitting, it’ll be financially advantageous.” He gave me a look that wasn’t that much different from his usual dissatisfied glare and so was open for interpretation. “Plus, you won’t screw it up.”

Hard to argue with that. It was the closest he’d ever come to complimenting me. So I’d taken the clipboard and headed out to find out why Mitch—who was, in all honesty, kind of a natural fuck-up—had pissed himself.

After sparing another minute to frown and sulk, I headed up the sidewalk to the house that had been Mitch’s undoing. With the streetlight gone and the porch light off, it was dark and disturbing. Yeah, I have night-vision goggles—it’s a necessity in my line of work—but they make everything green, and they don’t quite fit right. Tonight’s full moon and clear sky made them optional, so I’d opted against.

In any case, it was up to me—all five feet nothing and a hundred and mumble pounds of me—to go to the door and tell the vampire who lived there that we were going to impound his HDTV if he didn’t cough up four months’ worth of back payments, interest and administrative charges. Something told me he wasn’t going to be happy.

I gave my jacket pockets a last check—Taser, pepper spray, garlic, squirt gun full of holy water, properly licensed, thank you very much—and stepped through the gloomy dark to the gloomy front door of the gloomy, windowless house.

I knocked. And waited. Knocked again. Finally, HDTV Guy answered his door. His shirt buttons were askew, and he had a drip of blood at the corner of his mouth. God, I didn’t even want to know.

“Good evening. I’m Nimuë Taylor, from Bernstein & Carter,” I announced. “I regret to inform you—”

“I talked to you assholes last night,” TV Guy interrupted. “Told that little shit not to come back.”

I pressed my lips together and gave him an annoyed head-tilt, eyes narrowed. Not that I managed to be intimidating, since I resemble a shaggy-headed anime character. “In deference to your request, my company has thoughtfully provided a different little shit. Now, I have paperwork here with a breakdown of all funds currently in arrears. You can contact our office tonight to let us know how you’d like to handle the situation. Otherwise, we’ll have to impound your TV.”

Apparently, he and his TV had developed a serious relationship in their brief acquaintance. “You are not taking my fucking TV.” He flashed his fangs, as if the sight of moonlight glittering off sharp, pointy teeth would send me gibbering off to mind my own business.

Fangs didn’t faze me much these days. I blinked at him blandly, ready to squirt-gun his ass if necessary. I had my clipboard in one hand, so I could hand it to him for his signature, but my other hand was inside my jacket pocket, finger on the trigger of the squirt gun.

“You’re correct, Mr. Smith.” What a lame name. Like I couldn’t figure out it was fake. “If you fail to contact our office, someone will drop by tomorrow, and he will take your fucking TV.” I held out the clipboard, a business card clamped under the clip on top of my paperwork. “The phone number’s right here.”

He snarled. My hand tightened on the squirt gun. He was going to get a face full if he didn’t watch it.

I took a loose, cocky stance, refusing to show fear, though I could feel it curling in my stomach, and he could probably smell it. Vamps are gross that way. “If you could just sign here, to verify I made this stop—”

He knocked the clipboard out of my hand. I pulled the pistol and pointed it at him. “Pick up the clipboard and sign it.”

“Or what? You’ll shoot me with your little purple gun?”

“My little purple gun full of holy water,” I said calmly.

His sneer faded, and he eyed the gun. “I can take that out of your hand before you have a chance to pull the trigger.”

Nice piece of vampire posturing. I pulled the trigger. The stream of water hit him right in the eye—I’m a good shot, and, lame as it sounds, my squirt gun is souped up.

“Shit!” He lurched back as his eye began to smoke. While he was still off-balance, I squirted him again, then grabbed my clipboard and ran. Colin would bitch that I hadn’t gotten the signature. Let him. I wasn’t going to hang around to get chewed on.

I still heard Mr. Smith swearing behind me, then issuing threats. “You fucking bitch! I’m gonna tear your throat out!”

Not if I got to my car first. From the sound of it, he was still scrambling behind me, and from the smell, the holy water had done some serious damage. My car was only a few yards away—

And someone was leaning against it. Not just any someone, but a vampire someone. He grinned at me, flashing fangs, and this time, the sight of sharp, pointy teeth in the moonlight did make me want to cut and run.

In no way could this be construed as good, regardless of how much you tried to stretch the definition of the term. In fact, I was willing to go out on a limb and say it was just plain bad. I dropped the clipboard, leaving both hands free. One still held the squirt gun; I shoved the other into my jeans pocket, where I’d stowed my car keys.

The new vamp pushed away from the car, giving me a feral, fangy smile.

“You upset my friend,” he said, his voice oily. The performance was almost too over the top to be scary. Almost. “I don’t like that.”

“It’s just a TV, for God’s sake,” I said. There wasn’t much I could do at this point to get away—he was between me and the car, and I could hear Mr. Smith staggering up behind me. Could smell him too. There’s nothing quite like the reek of burnt vampire.

“He likes his TV.” The vamp took a menacing step toward me. This was my only advantage—it appeared the newcomer liked to play with his food. “I like his TV too.”

“Well, I’m sorry your boyfriend can’t remember to pay his bills.” My fingers found my keys in my pocket and hit the alarm button. My car began to wail, and I groped into my hoodie pocket again, searching out another weapon.

The vampire jumped, then glared at me, obviously embarrassed at his reaction to the sudden, pervasive noise. “You really think that’s going to help?”

But it had helped, because it had distracted him for that split second. I leveled the squirt gun at him. He let out a barking laugh and slapped it out of my hand. At which point I treated him to a face full of pepper spray from the other hand.

He recoiled, grimacing, eyes watering. The stuff hurt like hell, I knew, even if you were a vampire. While he made incomprehensible grunting noises, I ducked around him and jerked the car door open.

Just then, Mr. Smith descended, his right eye weeping goo onto his cheek. He reached into the car after me, and I slammed the door on his arm. He grimaced but still groped for me as I held the door shut as tight as I could. Wriggling in the car seat, I got my feet up against the doorframe for leverage and pulled harder, wondering how much pressure it would take to sever his arm.

He couldn’t quite reach me, his fingers wiggling in the air a few inches from my face. If I leaned forward, I could get one of those stupidly annoying fingers between my teeth and bite it off—

Suddenly, Mr. Smith flew backward across the grass. He landed hard on his ass and sat there, stunned. I stared back at him, at first not sure what had happened. Then the other vamp flew across the lawn as well. I recovered enough to realize I could close my car door now that the vamp’s arm was no longer in the way, so I did. I stuffed the key into the ignition and started the car.

There was a tap on my window. Startled, I met the gaze of still another vampire standing next to the driver’s-side door. They were just crawling up out of the lawns tonight. He laid my clipboard against the glass with a careful smack.

“You’re going to need this.”

I wasn’t sure what to do at first. This new vamp had just saved my ass—well maybe not saved it, per se, but he’d made things easier. Adrenaline still rushed through my system, so my first impulse was to slam him with the door, get him on the ground and spray holy water into his ear until his brain melted. I’d done that once, and it wasn’t pretty. Vamps didn’t come back from that. In fact, their families sued under those circumstances. And then lost a shitload of money if you could prove self-defense.

I didn’t do that, though. I just stared at him, heart galloping, trying to control my breathing before I hyperventilated and passed out.

He smiled. He was nice to look at. A slim face with etched cheekbones, a wide mouth not marred but enhanced by a slight overbite, and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. The rest of him appeared to be slim as well, though I couldn’t see all of him out the window.

“If you’d like to put the window down just a bit, I can slide the clipboard through for you.” And British. I hadn’t registered the accent at first.

I swallowed, adrenaline still muddling my head. Finally, I hit the button to lower the window just enough for the clipboard to slide through. He displayed my squirt gun and eased it through to me too.

“Thanks,” I said as I took the gun. “You really saved my ass.”

He shrugged, still grinning. “Seemed you were doing all right, actually.”

I smiled in spite of myself. “A little help never hurts.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

There was an awkward moment of silence. I felt like I should say something else, but I didn’t know what.

And that was when the cops showed up.