All posts by R. M. Webb

Howl is live!

Howl (Witches & Warlocks Book 4)

Howl released a few weeks ago and has been doing really well on Amazon! Thank you to all who’ve already purchased the book or borrowed it through Kindle Unlimited.

For those of you who’ve left a review on my books, THANK YOU! Reviews are the lifeblood of an author’s career. I appreciate the time and energy you spend reading and rating my books more than you know. If you haven’t left a review, would you consider heading back to Amazon and writing just a few honest sentences about how you felt? Speak could still use a few more reviews before it becomes eligible for some of the more exciting promotional deals.

And with that, I’m gonna disappear back into my writing cave. Whisper, Witches & Warlocks book 5 is calling my name!

Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

Roar release and yes, there’s a fourth book!

Roar made it’s way out to the world over the weekend and I’m really excited by the early feedback. Thanks, guys! If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, you can head right on over to Amazon and get yourself set up.  As always,  my books are free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Don’t have a Kindle? No worries! You can get the Kindle app for just about any mobile device for free here:

Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

A lot of people have been asking if Roar is the last we’ll hear from Zoe and guess what. It’s not! I’ve finished outlining Howl, Witches & Warlocks, book four, and will begin working on the first draft today. Wooo! I love Zoe as much as you do and am soooo not ready to leave her world.

And with that being said, every minute I spend posting on my blog is a minute I don’t spend writing my next book, so I wish you a beautiful day and much happy reading!

As always, THANK YOU for your support!

Roar Sneak Peek!

If you’ve been anywhere near me in the last week or so, then you know that Roar — the third book in my Witches & Warlocks series — is set to release November 15th. That’s THIS SUNDAY, PEOPLE! WOOOO!

I may be juuuuust a little excited about this release. 🙂

I’ve heard back from my beta readers, one of whom is totally taken with the first sentence and another who cried as she told me her favorite scenes. And then, because I was so excited that she was so excited, I may have cried a little, too.

I thought you might like little sneak peek at the first chapter of Roar. Maybe then you might get as excited as I am. (OK. Probably not. I’m pretty wound up.)

But first, have you joined my mailing list? I always send an email to my list the moment I have a link to the product page. If you want to know the minute Roar releases, sign up by clicking here.

And now, without further ado, here is the first chapter of Roar, just for you!

**Spoiler alert. If you haven’t read Speak or Hush yet, you might not want to read this chapter yet.**

 

Roar

Chapter one

 

It’s a weird thing, stalking someone with the sole intent of killing them. Following them from place to place, studying their movements. I always wonder if they’d want to live the night differently if they knew how it was going to end.

Ha.

I say that like I’m a seasoned killer. Always wonder. I say it like I’ve done this more than four times. Although, I do get a little … I don’t know … harder  … each time we kill someone. A little colder. It gets easier to consider the next one.

And so far, there’s always been a next one.

This one has a name. Nancy. I don’t like it when they have a name, it makes them feel more like a person with friends and a family who cares about them and will miss them once they’re gone. I like it better when Daya gives us a target that’s only a description and a place to find said target. Not so lucky this time, I guess.

Nancy is one of Lucy’s errand girls. Her main job is finding people suitable enough for Lucy and Albert’s little vampire/werewolf ‘create a species’ project. You know, where the leader of the vampires and the leader of the werewolves are actively trying to breed some sort of crazy hybrid. A super-race that’ll basically let them take over the world.

Nancy is really good at her job. She’s got a knack for finding people who get excited about the whole prospect of possibly dying or going insane in the hopes of ending up as some powerful new creature. Not that it matters if they’re excited about it or not. I don’t think Lucy’d stop what she was doing if the people Nancy brought her were suddenly all ‘but wait, stop!’. Knowing what I think I know about Lucy, she’d probably end up liking the whole process all the more if her victims end up scared out of their minds. Regardless, taking out Nancy will be a stumbling block in Lucy’s whole ‘take over the supernatural world’ game.

Of course, that’s what Daya says about all the vampires she’s sent us out to kill. “Taking out this target will make the world a better place. A safer place.”

I do my best to believe her. Otherwise, I don’t think I could do what she wants us to do. What she tells us to do. She says it’s our job ‘cause we’re the Trinity — Noah, Luke, and me. The champions of the witches. The heroes of the human world. Saving them all from a terrible future they don’t even know they’re facing. I hold onto that ‘cause otherwise, we’re nothing more than assassins.  

Our job’s gonna be easy tonight, though. This Nancy is nasty. We’ve followed her from nightclub to bar to nightclub, watching her toy with the men — and women — who pretty much just fall down at her feet. She seduces them, draws them into a dark corner or abandoned bathroom, then goes all psycho vampire, scares the shit out of them, drinks just about all of their blood, and leaves them to either live or die, alone and scared. She’s cruel. And she hasn’t found anyone suitable to take home to Lucy, so right now, she’s on the move again.

I nudge Noah and jerk my head in her direction as Nancy slips out of the men’s bathroom, wipes her mouth, and blends right into the crowd of her victim’s drunken friends. They’re all busy dancing and laughing, unaware of the disaster waiting for them in the men’s room. She doesn’t know it, but she’s leaving a trail of magic behind her, a faintly glowing line that traces her path, dissipating after just a few seconds. A tracking spell we put on her earlier tonight. The line really doesn’t last long enough to be of much use, but we couldn’t risk using too strong a spell on her or she’d have felt it. Damn vampires and their supernatural senses.

As soon as the door to the club closes behind her, Noah, Luke, and I slide off our barstools and follow her outside. We don’t make an effort to blend in like she did. We cut through the crowd, ignoring the protests, comments, and nasty names. No time for courtesy ‘cause if we don’t get outside quickly enough, we’re gonna lose her.

We hit the sidewalk and fan out like we know what we’re doing, Noah heading right, Luke heading left, while I head straight out towards the street.

“Here,” Noah whispers and I turn just in time to see the line of our magic disappear around the corner, heading into an alley behind the club. This is it. The break we’ve been waiting for. Need to kill a vampire? Best to do it in an abandoned alley.  Luke and I converge on the spot, moving quickly, mercury loose on the table.

Noah’s already calling on his magic. I can see it coalescing around his edges and it still takes me off guard to see him like that. It’s beautiful. He’s beautiful. His golden energy crackling at his fingertips, his blue eyes glowing faintly in the dark. I let my fingers graze his arm as we pass and his magic surges into me, awakening mine. He only tolerates the touch because he knows I need to draw on his power. Otherwise, he pretty much avoids me like the plague.

“Tueri trinitas,” he whispers — a protection spell.

“Tueri tinitas,” I say, grasping his hand and reaching out for Luke. When his fingers entwine with mine, his magic flows through my arm and into my center where it blends with Noah’s and twists itself up with my energy. We are the Trinity and I am the centerpiece.

Interficere hostium.” Luke growls his incantation — death to our enemies — and I echo it, adding my magic to his. After spending more than her fair share of decades on this earth, Nancy’s life expectancy is now only minutes long.

Still holding hands, letting our power gather and grow, we round the corner. Stride down the alley, hands held, energy coalescing. The tiger is pacing and roaring, ready for the kill. Me? My stomach is a roiling boiling mess of nerves and anxiety. Sure, I was bred for this. Sure, Daya made certain that I had just the right combination of light and dark magic so I’m some sort of moral question mark. Sure, there’s a part of me that’s designed to kill.

That doesn’t change the fact that the rest of me is a good person. I value life. All life. And, since Daya kept me embedded in normal human society rather than raising me with all the other little badass witches and warlocks she created, I fully believe that killing is bad. So, even though half of me is growing ever more excited by what we’re doing, the other half of me is very loudly going on about the whole thou shalt not kill deal.

My magic falters as my resolve wavers. The guys can feel it. Noah squeezes my hand and Luke sends a wave of dark magic straight to my heart. And that’s that. My resolve is totally strengthened. Whatever it means about me and my everlasting soul, Nancy will die tonight.

If we can find her, that is.

The trail’s gone cold. The little glowing line of magic is gone. She could be anywhere. We stop. Put our backs together so not one of us is exposed and there’s no chance of Nancy sneaking up from behind.

Laughter echos down the alley and of course, there’s no way to tell where it’s coming from. Damn vampires and their supernatural creepiness. I peer into the dark, calling on the strength of my tiger, hoping to channel some of her night vision and use it to see. One of the benefits of having a predator for a familiar, I guess. Makes me a better predator, too.

Tonight though, even with the improved vision, I see nothing. Nancy could be anywhere.

“You think I didn’t smell your magic all night long?” The words come from above us and have the faintest trace of an accent I can’t really place. Clearly, this isn’t gonna be easy. If she’s smart enough to have known we were following her, she’s bound to have a few more tricks up her sleeves.

“Baby witches are so fun to play with.” Her voice comes from the other side of the alley now. Ground level. “You think you’re so powerful.”

Luke mutters a long string of incantations, so quiet I can’t even hear them, his voice nothing more than a low growl sounding in his chest. Nancy laughs again and I can’t help it, the hairs on my arms stand straight up. There’s nothing human or humane or hell, nothing even a little pleasant about the sound. God, I hate vampires. They’re nasty and pompous and self-satisfied and have absolutely no respect for anything other than themselves.

Utter. Snakes.

It’s snowing. Not the polite little flakes of a late fall snow, but the heavy duty, real deal. Huge clumps of snow plop onto the ground and catch in my hair. One drops onto my eyelash and as I blink it away, I catch just the slightest movement out of the corner of my eye.

I choke back a scream and try not to pay any attention to the shame that catches in my throat along with it. Just because I’m supposed to be on my way to ‘hardened killer’ doesn’t make me immune to fear. I mean, I’m standing in a dark alley and a vampire is barrelling towards me. Of course I’m gonna want to scream.

I gather my magic and call on the tiger and am ready to let all kinds of hell loose when something hard and unforgiving slams into my shoulder. I fall to the ground in an uncoordinated heap, my breath knocked from my lungs and my head bouncing off the concrete, summoning a cloud of stars to dance with the snowflakes.

That hard thing that hit me and knocked me down? That was Noah. And now instead of running right at me, Nancy is running right at him and her teeth are bared and her eyes are glinting and there’s no way she’s gonna be quick and merciful. I’ve seen what she does to the people she eats.

My head’s throbbing and my chest is tight, and that sucks, but I’m OK. Which is good because I’ve got about half a second before the bitch is on Noah and that’s simply not going to happen.

Tempore prohibere!” I scream the words to my timestop spell and everything just screeches to a halt around me. I scramble to my feet.

Nancy’s got one hand on Noah’s arm and the other on his head, tilting it way back, exposing his neck. Her mouth is wide open, her wicked sharp fangs pressed against his throat. I lean in close, making sure she hasn’t pierced his skin yet and sigh in relief to see that she hasn’t.

Yet.

His skin is actually dimpling under the pressure of her extended canines. If I’d been even a little bit slower …

I brush the thought away. I wasn’t too slow. Noah’s fine. For now.

The trick is gonna be to make sure he’s still fine once I get time all set back to rights. I take a minute and walk around the scene. You’d think the snowflakes would melt when they touch my skin, all suspended mid-air like they are, but instead, it’s like the whole world distorts, bending them out of my way, only to spring back into place as soon as I’ve passed. I’m truly outside of time and therefore can’t affect anything.

Which means that I’m probably not going to be able to move Noah out of range of Nancy’s teeth. Doesn’t hurt to check though, does it? Her hand moves without resistance when I pull it off his head. When I let go, though? It falls right back into place, like I’d never even been there. So now what? I’ve got him safe, but the instant I get time moving again, her teeth will pierce his skin and that’s just not gonna work for me.

Luke’s right there. His magic all coalesced into something all spiky and dangerous. Even with time stopped, it kind of hums with the threat contained inside. Of course, his eyes are glowing red, a furious crimson that I really can’t make myself look at. His face is all screwed up with rage. Truth is, he looks scarier than Nancy ‘cause when I actually do make myself look at his eyes, it’s clear how excited he is by this whole thing.

So, Luke’s ready. The moment I let time go free again, his magic will be loose, slamming into Nancy and probably hurtling her back away from Noah a bit. I just can’t quite trust that it’ll hurtle her backwards fast enough.

I take a breath. Close my eyes. Focus. Think.

There’s got to be a way to do this without Noah getting hurt. I’m a badass witch, after all. If Daya trusts me to save the whole flippin’ world, surely, I can save the man I love. Of course, that man doesn’t love me back, but that doesn’t matter at all right now. I run my hand through my hair and gather it over my shoulder.

I think … possibly … if I can manage to let time come back together very slowly, I can get a spell off before Nancy’s teeth sink all the way into Noah’s throat. I take another breath. If I misjudge the timing even a little, Noah will die.

Another deep breath and then I free the tiger, charge her with keeping me and Noah safe. I call on my magic and while it roars to life, I ever so slowly let time slip free, hoping and hoping and hoping some more that I’m strong enough to get the timing right.

 

Book 2 in my Witches & Warlocks series is live!

IT’S ALIVE! ALIIIIIVE!!!

It’s 29 days after the release of Speak (Witches & Warlocks Book 1), and here I am announcing the release of Hush (Witches & Warlocks Book 2). Can you believe it? I know I can’t! Although, maybe, with that in mind, you can forgive my relative silence around here. I’ve made a few posts over on my Facebook page, but mostly, I’ve been nose to the grindstone, trying to get this bad boy out to the world.

And with that being said, I’m wishing you a wonderful day and scurrying around the house to get ready for the return of my family from school and work. But you better believe I’ll be happy dancing the whole time!

My new book is out!

Speak, book one in my new Witches and Warlocks series released yesterday and I’m so thrilled about how it’s doing! Thank you ALL for your support. It means more than you can know.

I’ve included some of the highlights from early reviews, but if you’re curious, head on over and read some for yourself. They make me so happy!

Praise for Speak

“A great book for all urban fantasy lovers.” — Michael Omer, author of the Narrowdale Mystery Series

“I found myself not wanting to put the book down and, toward the end, just kept on reading into the wee hours of the morning … Women of all ages will recognize the pressure on women to silence themselves, to hold themselves back from speaking their truth and developing their full potential.” — Marilyn Peake, author ofShade

“I … really relished the powerful outburst that I knew would be coming from Zoe as she bottled up her frustration after trying to please everyone early on.” — C.N. Crawford, author of The Witching Elm
“…a definite must read for 2015.” — Book Crazy, Amazon top 500 reviewer
“I’m actually rereading it because I couldn’t stop thinking about the story.” — L. Francis

It’s all perspective

Last weekend, Mr. Wonderful and I were on the bike. The sun was shining and the sky was blue and as the wind whipped past my helmet, it was as if it pulled all the worry and stress out of my head and flung it onto the road behind us.

I don’t know if you know this about me or not, but I kind of expect a lot out of myself. (And by kind of, I mean I absolutely, 10000% expect a lot out of myself.) It’s really easy for me to focus so much on where I want to end up, that I forget to appreciate where I am.

I think we all do that from time to time, don’t you?

For example, as a parent, I want my kids to be happy, well-adjusted, functional members of society. Who doesn’t, right? But I can get so worried about who my kids might be, or should be, or will be, that I forget to see who they are.

And you know what? Watching them play together, cooperating, laughing, building huge Lego castles and immense imaginary worlds, I think I have to say that my kids are happy, well-adjusted, and functional.

So, why do I worry so much about helping them become what they already are?

Sure, I want to continue to guide them – especially as we near the teenage years with Lady Chatterbox – but do I really need to waste so much time being tense and worried about their development? I think the answer is probably ‘no.’ I mean, I’ve given myself upset stomachs and stress headaches worrying about my kids who are, essentially, just fine. Doesn’t that seem a little crazy?

In fact, I think the majority of the stress we carry around with us is … well … pointless. I know that I can get so caught up in what I want to do, what I want to have happen, that I totally forget to appreciate where I am.

Sure, sometimes where I am is in my living room, surrounded by an explosion of toys and pillows, trapped under a mountain of dogs and kids. At that point, what I want is to clean up the living room. But if all I focus on is getting that living room clean, I miss out on the fact that where I am is in a warm pile of people and animals that love and need me.

And isn’t that a pretty fantastic place to be?

When I was teaching dance, I spent a lot of time researching the psychology behind developing young artists and athletes. I stumbled across an article about a tennis player – years ago, sorry I can’t link to it – who was wickedly talented, driven, hard working, and pretty much won every match he played. He was on the fast track to success until, suddenly, he wasn’t. He started losing. His form slipped. He started losing some more.

His parents took him to a therapist who was familiar with working with athletes and it came out that the guy had changed the way he spoke to himself about his matches. Instead of saying: “I can win this,” he started saying: “I MUST win this.” Instead of saying, “I’m going to practice,” he started saying: “I HAVE to practice.” All of his self-talk switched from statements using ‘can’ and ‘will’ and ‘love,’ to statements using ‘must’ and ‘should’ and ‘need.’

In essence, those words popped him out of a place of positivity and into a really negative head space. Once the tennis player was able to change his self-talk, he stopped putting so much pressure on himself, lowered his stress levels, and started having fun.

Oh ya.

And he started winning again.

So my thought for the day is this:

Slow down. Look around. Appreciate where you are. Everything in this life is about perspective.

Speak Sneak Peek

Say that ten times fast! Speak Sneak Peek …

I have a long blog post in mind about the end of summer and kids going back to school and how much they’re growing up, but they’re NOT back in school yet, so my time is, well, I don’t have a lot of it. 😉

Instead, I thought you’d be interested in a sneak peek into the first two chapters of Speak – the first book in my newest series. You know, just so you know I’m alive … busy … but alive.

Without further ado – I’d like you to meet Zoe Tate, one of my new favorite characters.

Chapter 1

My name is Zoe Tate and I can’t speak. Well, wait. Maybe that’s a bit melodramatic. Every time I use that word – melodramatic – I think of some grand southern belle in flowing skirts and dripping curls flinging her wrist to her forehead and collapsing into the waiting arms of her lover.

Anyway. I totally can speak. Like, I can open my mouth and make words on purpose. Just like you. Kind of. Thing is, let’s say I’m trying to have a conversation with you. I’ll look you in the eyes, have a miraculously witty remark all loaded up and ready to go only for the stupid words to get stuck behind some awful barrier in my throat. Or maybe it’s my heart. You know, like I’m too afraid you’ll find my witty remark dumb. Or maybe it’s my head and I’m just overthinking everything over and over and over until there’s just nothing to think about anymore and it’s all just analyzed down to this great big pile of worthless mush.

Whatever it is, while my words are striking that barrier, this awful, red-cheeked, maddening silence is stretching out ever more awkward between us and everything I thought I could say vanishes. So I smile. Or I giggle. Or I play with whatever there is in reach of my fingers. I’ll probably ask you a question about yourself and smile as you find some measure of relief in the sound of your own voice.

Thing is, I’m glad you’re talking. It means I don’t have to.

But I’m also jealous as all hell. ‘Cause I sure do want to.

It’s like I have this tiger inside me, just pacing the confines of the cage that is my silent mouth, roaring in frustration every time I clam up and pass the conversational ball off to someone else. That tiger wants out. I have a voice and she, in all her ferocious elegance, needs me to learn to use it and utterly resents the fact that I seem to refuse.

That’s the word. Seem. I’m sure it seems like I won’t talk. Like I have an option and I’ve chosen silence. But what’s happening is that I can’t talk. There are words in my head going a mile a minute and a lot of them are busy calling me all kinds of mean names for not just letting my voice fall from my parted lips like any normal human being. You’ve formed the words, I say to myself, now use them. You know what you want to say, now say it.

I just …

…can’t.

I try. Believe me, I try. Because I know my silence is part of the reason I’m so often alone. And for all my introverted awkwardness, I don’t want to be alone. I get it, it’s hard to be around me when I’m constantly blushing in frustrated silence. I bet some people even think I don’t like them or that I’m some super judgmental bitch. It’s not that. (Well, I don’t feel like a super judgmental bitch, but do we ever actually know the truth about who we really are? It’s way too easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re something we’re not.)

It’s like I’m trapped. I have all these things I want to say…

I want to participate in everything that’s going on around me…

I want to be seen…

Noticed…

Heard…

If only I could speak.

********

“Zoe. Where’d you go? You in there?”

That’s Becca. The one leaning across the table and widening her eyes, trying to get my attention. If my introversion was a disability – and I sure think of it as a disability – Becca would be like my seeing-eye dog.

“Just daydreaming.” You know, about tigers and roaring and being seen and heard and all the thoughts in my head I wish I could get out into the world for others to know.

“Ya.” Becca blows air through her nose. “I’ve come to learn the signs.” Oh man. Is she irritated with me? I don’t like it when Becca’s irritated with me. She’s my lifeline to the world. “Now, don’t go getting all weird and embarrassed on me, Zoe.”

“I’m not getting weird.”

“You’re totally getting weird. Your cheeks are all red and you can’t even hit me with those baby blues.” She smiles and I know we’re in the clear. That icky-sickly nerves jangling in my stomach feeling dissipates. I wish I didn’t get that way. All nervous tummied just because she sighed a little extra heavily. “You gotta stay in this world,” Becca says for like the hundred millionth time. “It’s that zoning out that weirds out the rest of us.”

She says it ‘cause she’s trying to help. She says it ‘cause she thinks if she says it frequently enough, it’ll fix me or something. I’ve told her that I’d stop it if I could. She just doesn’t get it. She lives in this vibrant world of free flowing conversation and people that command her attention more so than the thoughts in her own head.

“So,” Becca leans in all conspiracy like, her chestnut eyes catching the light from above the table and I swear to God they just twinkled. Is that even supposed to happen in real life? She’s so flippin’ cute. Tiny. Perky. Makes it to five foot five only when wearing four inch heels. Her thick brown hair hangs in looping curls down her back. I run a hand through my not so thick, kinda strawberry blonde hair and gather it over my shoulder. “That guy over there?” Becca indicates someone behind me with a little jerk of her chin. “He’s been totally checking you out all night.”

She sits back in the booth with a self-satisfied smile and takes a sip from her beer. I run a finger through the condensation on my own glass as a new song comes on over the speakers. It’s harsher than the one before it. Grates on my nerves a little. Especially now that someone just started playing pool in the back of the bar. The click and clank of the balls bouncing off each other combines all helter skelter with the music. Sometimes it gets really hard for me to concentrate when there’s too much sound. Like, I swear I can hear the buzzing of the fluorescent bulbs lining the ceiling placed in sporadic but perfectly spaced little lines. Ya. I notice everything.

Becca lifts her eyebrows and throws up her hands. “Zoe.”
Ugh. I hate it when I’m so stuck inside myself like this. She hates it, too, so I hate it extra because it upsets her. I’m driving her a little crazy tonight. She wants me to acknowledge the fact that she pointed out some guy that’s supposedly checking me out. I give my head a little shake and wrinkle my nose. “No way. He can’t even see me. You know he’s looking at you.”

“I know when a guy is looking at me, my friend. And he,” she tips her beer his direction before taking another drink, “isn’t in the mood for brunettes.”

“Should I look?”

“Whoa! She speaks immediately after being spoken to. How nice.” Becca’s earrings swing near her jawline. My hand snakes up – almost of its own accord – and plays with one of my own earrings, spinning the last bead between my thumb and forefinger, while the other hand wraps itself protectively around my stomach – also of its own accord. “Stop fidgeting. Sit up straight.” The words hiss through Becca’s clenched teeth and I obey more out of surprise than anything. “He’s coming.”

“He’s what?”

Panic.

It’s that simple. There was a guy, and he’d been looking at me, or so Becca says anyway, and now he’s coming over here. My cheeks grow hot and I feel the flush racing down my hairline and across my neck and chest.

Great.

I’m embarrassed. What a surprise. Plus, now I’m getting mad ‘cause I’m embarrassed which only makes me turn even redder.

Double great.

A drink would be so nice right now, but the alcohol won’t do my red cheeks any favors. The good thing is, I’ve got Becca with me. She’ll do all the talking and I can hide behind her normalcy. It’s these kind of moments that make me extra grateful we’ve been friends for our entire lives.

A pair of jeans hanging just right off a fantastic ass struts past. The thin fabric of a t-shirt clings to a well-muscled back and a pair of broad shoulders. I barely have time to let my gaze finish wandering up his body to notice that, for one, the guy has great hair like Becca and, for two, he never even turns to look over his shoulder before he rounds the corner towards the bathrooms at the back of the bar.

“See.” I wipe my sweaty hands across my thighs and pick up my napkin to start worrying it down into a tight little ball. “Not interested. Not in me at least.”

“He’ll be back.” Becca smiles and tosses her hair. Her earrings flash like fish flitting through water. “He just needed to give you a chance to see him.”

“Becca …” What could I say? Even if he does stop, he won’t stay. I’ll stammer and blush and say something stupid and off he’ll go. He’s way too hot and I’m way not cool. I take a sip of my beer.

And he rounds the corner. He meets my eyes and smiles as I put my beer back on the table and clutch it with both hands. Oh shit. He’s totally coming this way.

Chapter 2

If I could just hold eye contact … you know, flash him a smile and toss my hair over my shoulder … basically just channel Becca. Hell, Becca’s a pro. I’d be satisfied to channel a normal person at this point. Anything that would make the conversation we’re about to have any less awkward than I know it’s going to be.

Somewhere inside me, the tiger is pacing, roaring at my inability to express myself. I want to talk to this guy. I manage a smile in return before my eyes drop to the table. Totally against my will, damn it!

He stops and leans all casual like against Becca’s side of the booth. “Hey.” His voice is smooth and quiet, almost hard to hear under the clickety-clank of pool balls and raucous laughter at the back of the bar. God! If the lights would just stop buzzing!

I smile and dip my cheek towards my shoulder. Speak! Please. Just speak. The condensation from the beer has gotten my hands all wet and my napkin is a balled up disaster. I press my palms into the table and with a little flex of my fingers, wipe them dry.

“Hey.” My chin is still ducked towards my shoulder, but I manage a glimmer of eye contact and the briefest of tight lipped smiles. There’s a flicker of eye lashes as my gaze drops to the table, and then to my hands, and then to Becca. I smile at her. Hand her the conversational ball.

“Well, hey there,” Becca chirps. “I was wondering how long it’d take you to come for a visit.”

“Oh, ya?” Mr. Super Gorgeous turns his eyes – blue, almost the exact same shade as mine – to Becca and unleashes a blinding smile. Her eyebrows raise a fraction of an inch and she fluffs her hair.

Oooh. She thinks he’s hot, too.

“Yep. I’ve been watching you, watching her.” Becca indicates me with a jerk of her head and I think my heart skips a beat when our visitor hit me with a less blinding and more igniting version of his smile. His whole face changes when he looks at me. It goes from charming to sultry. I feel hunted. Exposed. Adrenaline hits my bloodstream and I manage to hold eye contact, but my mouth is open and I’m just staring. Transfixed. I take one breath. I should smile.

His brow crinkles. I know that look. I’ve disappointed him. Weirded him out. “Caught me, did you?” he asks as he turns back to Becca.

“Sure did.” She tilts her head towards her shoulder and shoots him a look dripping with condescension. “So, are you gonna ask her for her name or are you just going to keep leaning on the booth and freaking her out a little, you know, like you’re doing right now?”

So, I don’t know how to describe what happens next. It happens to me all the time. It’s one of the reasons I find it so hard to interact with people sometimes. It’s like every single sense I have is on fire, and each one of them is trying to see how much information it can give me all at once.

I hear the music that’s supposed to be unobtrusive and the lyrics in the song hit me like a pulsing neon sign. I hear the way my earrings jingle when I turn my head. I hear the conversations from everyone else in the bar mingling with the sportscaster on the television in the back. The damn buzzing of those stupid fluorescent lights sounds like a swarm of angry bees and for whatever reason the neon lights of the beer signs stuck to the wall decide to join in.

My peripheral vision expands. I see Becca fidgeting, and the menus leaning all haphazard like in their little stand thing on the table. But not just on our table. On all the tables. I see the light change as the front door opens and closes. I see the guy at the table next to me kiss his girlfriend. I see the hundred different shades of red and brown that trace through the brick walls of the place and the way the mortar is gray and chipping between them. I see the waitresses pacing between tables in their too tight Flannigan’s t-shirts.
I’ve got all this extra information that I don’t need taking up my ability to think. How do I focus on what’s going on at our table when my brain wants me to focus on everything in the room around me?

I’m so uncomfortable.

I smile. And swallow.

Mr. Super Gorgeous pushes off the booth and leans forward. He touches one finger to my hand and I swear there’s this flash of contact. There’s this gold ping of light and sound and it echoes off my hand in ripples.

Except that’s not possible.

The whole world settles down and I meet his gaze and hold eye contact. In this instant it’s just me and him. If before, it was as if my senses expanded to take in everything all at once, then now they’ve contracted so that I can only take in him. And his eyes settle on mine and for the first time in my entire life, I feel like someone’s seeing me. Like, the real me. Like in that instant of eye contact he can see that I’m locked inside here and want out and he wants to help me.

“What’s your name?” His voice is like … I don’t know … home. It’s soft and warm and made just for me. His eyes really are the same color as mine.

“Zoe.”

“Well, Zoe,” my name wrapped up in his voice makes me sigh. “I’m Noah. And meeting you is a pleasure.”

Noah lifts his fingers from my hand and straightens. The world zooms back into focus and I’m back into ‘super sharp too much information’ mode. My heart thrums in my chest like a bunny running through a field and I manage one shuddering breath through my parted lips. He shoots me a smile and tosses Becca a wink before disappearing back behind me to wherever he came from.

He laughs in response to some murmured comment from whoever he went back to. Whoever it was he came here with. Whoever it is that isn’t me.

****

Well, now that you’re truly one of the first to read Speak, I’d love to hear what you think! Feel free to comment below.

 

Reserve your copy now!

A cover reveal and pre-order for “Speak”

Hello, hello, hello!

Phew.

*takes a few deep breaths and wipes brow*

I’ve been busy. It’s summer, so the kids are home and that just brings its own special level of insanity, chaos, and super warm cuddles my way. But! That doesn’t mean I haven’t been hard at work!

If you’re on my mailing list, or my ARC team, or happen to know me in, you know, real life, then you probably know about the new series I had to start. And when I say had, I totally mean had. The book wouldn’t leave me alone.

Well, book one is done and getting the final touches put on it and book two is underway! Oh, ya, and I totally designed the cover myself!

Ready to see it? I’m so ready to show you because I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. 🙂

*waits for a drum roll that never happens*

Alright, fine. I’ll just post the silly thing.

 

Tada!

Ready to find out more? Head to Amazon to read the blurb and to reserve your copy.

As always, thank you for all your support!

An Interview with Author Marilyn Peake

It’s Friday!

Have I mentioned I love Friday? Especially Fridays in the summer, when the weekend is filled with shorts and sandals and sitting outside watching the wind in the trees and the sun glint in the kiddos’ hair.
As you know, I’ve been interviewing as many artists and parents and artists/parents as I can get my hands on.
There are equally as many challenges as moments of joy in making a living as an artist and I believe the same can be said of parenting. I’ve been curious to know how other artists and parents manage. So naturally, I found a bunch of them and asked a ton of questions! Since I’m a giver, I thought I’d share them with you.
Did you miss a few? Catch up!

R. M. Webb – former ballerina turned teacher turned choreographer turned author and host of this blog. She wrote these books. And this post about raising kids. And this short story.

Greg Tremblay – voice actor and homesteader.

ML Larson – the awesome uncle who uses British spellings despite living his whole life in the States.

Christine Tate – the Navy wife and homeschool mom who’s published her own bible study series.

Jane Danger – an author with the crazy cool name!

Julia Keanini – a newly self-published author and mother.

Horst Christian – the 84 year old man who moved here from Germany during the war and had my history buff of a step-dad going absolutely gaga over what he must have lived through.

Julie Ann Dawson – author/editor/publisher/gamer girl

Alex King – the author in love with exclamation points raising a little girl she describes as the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland

Heather Hamilton-Senter – An author, cover designer, singer, very talented lady

Nirina Stone – A newly published author with a beautiful name

Claire Frank – The indie author who got snatched up by a traditional publisher just a few short weeks after publishing her first book

Robert Dahlen – the super sweet author of the Monkey Queen Series

And now, let’s hear from Marilyn Peake!

R. M. Webb: Tell me about yourself.

My name is Marilyn Peake. I’m a writer and photographer, wife, and mother to two grown sons. My husband and I love to hike in beautiful places where we can practice landscape photography. We belong to an awesome photography club where the members are both friendly and talented. I’m a visual person. Doing photography, especially outdoors, tends to stimulate my brain for long writing sessions back home. I have a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology. Before staying home to raise my children, I worked as a Social Worker and Staff Psychologist and found that work very rewarding.

R.M., I love that you answered the same interview questions you’re asking me and other authors on your blog. In describing yourself, you wrote: “Just now, I’ve written sentence after sentence on what my life as a mother means to me only to delete them as they don’t do this part of my life justice. Motherhood isn’t something you do, it’s something you become. Or at least that’s how I approach it. My status as a mother defines me and colors every choice I make.” I think you and I (and many other women) are kindred spirits. Motherhood definitely changed my life; it’s something I became. Now that my children are grown, I’m delighted that I have a great relationship with both of them. And it’s true when people say you never stop worrying about your children. Once you become a parent, you’re always a parent, which is a very special experience.

R. M. Webb: I don’t think anyone can prepare someone for what parenthood actually is. I saw a quote once that likened it as having made the decision to have your heart live forever outside your chest. I totally get that. On to the next question: Why do you create?

That’s a great question for which I’m not sure I have an adequate answer. In high school, I discovered through creative writing that I absolutely loved the process. When I wrote my Masters thesis, I enjoyed the writing process so much, I went way past the required number of pages. In fiction writing, I feel both elation and a sense of accomplishment that I created a whole world out of nothing. It’s pretty exhilarating!

R. M. Webb: Quick! Chocolate or chips?

Chocolate…chocolate…and chocolate!

R. M. Webb: Is your art your business? Do you make money (or try to!) for the things you create? Do you have a day job?

Art is my only business right now.

R. M. Webb: If you still have a day job, would you like to get to the point where you could give it up?

I don’t have a day job right now.

R. M. Webb: What caused you to want to market your art?

I’ve always wanted to be a published writer. Even when I worked as a Psychologist, I had started writing novels.

R. M. Webb: Where/when does inspiration strike?

Almost anywhere. For a long time, much of my inspiration for writing stories came from real-life news.

R. M. Webb: How do you react to negative feedback?

Hoo-boy. That’s a good question. I used to get upset. Now, I take advice that seems helpful and let anything mean-spirited roll off my back.

R. M. Webb: What’s your greatest obstacle as an artist?

Not having enough days when I feel like my brain’s on fire as I write. HaHa! I’ve finally written so many novels and short stories that I recognize the process. I start out feeling like everything’s falling into place. About three-quarters of the way through writing a book, I feel kind of lost and like I’m swimming underwater, even with an outline. I feel like I’ll never finish the book. Then, suddenly, it’s done and I realize I pulled the story together.

R. M. Webb: Who’s your biggest champion?

My husband. My sons are also very encouraging. When they were little, I wrote THE FISHERMAN’S SON Trilogy, a series of children’s middle grade books. My sons were so enthusiastic about those books, it was a great joy for me to have written them when they were little.

R. M. Webb: Quick! Red or blue?

Blue! Blue is actually my favorite color.

R. M. Webb: Do you have kids? If not, do you want to have kids?

As I mentioned earlier, I have two wonderful grown sons. My youngest is currently in college.

R. M. Webb: If your child showed talent in an artistic endeavor, would you help her/him pursue a career in that field after having worked in a creative field yourself? Why or why not?

Both of my sons have done very well academically. They showed talent in artistic fields as well as a deep appreciation for science, math and technology. I encouraged them to do well in school and to follow their dreams in whatever field they felt most passionate about. I didn’t push, just supported them in whatever they wanted to do in life. It all worked out. They both got into college for an artistic field they felt passionate about and are both succeeding at the kind of work they dreamed about doing.

R. M. Webb: How do you structure your day as an artist/entrepreneur/person/parent? How do you get it all done?

When my children were growing up, I tried to squeeze in at least 1-1/2 hours a day at least four days a week to write. It was hard, but I remember their childhoods as a very happy time. There were a couple of time periods—basically that completely sleep-deprived birth to three years old stretch of time—when I discovered I hadn’t written for three years. I’m not kidding. I got back to my computer to write and realized: Holy camole, has it really been that long?!!? Now that my kids are grown, I just have trouble juggling everything I’m trying to do: writing, photography, exercising, hiking, reading. I’m pretty hard on myself. The other day I was struggling to finish a writing project, thinking it’s taking me way too long to publish; and I suddenly realized I had published a novel, a novelette and a novella, and have just about finished writing two other novellas that I’m planning to publish simultaneously—all in the past year.

R. M. Webb: Describe yourself as a parent.

Flexible. Creative. Loving. Always happy to see my sons and talk to them on the phone. When my husband and I were raising our children, we had tons of toys, computer games and video game systems in our house. We had the house where all their friends came to play. We emphasized academics, but in a way that placed the emphasis on how hard work in school opens up exciting new areas of knowledge. My kids never lost their love of learning. They still have that. When they were growing up, we were strict about the important stuff: no hitting, stuff like that. We tried not to sweat the small stuff.

R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about raising kids?

How much fun they are and how openly and creatively they see the world. How incredibly attached to their parents and affectionate kids are. Their laughs. Their hugs. Their imaginations.

R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about raising kids?

Adapting to each stage. I remember reading in a child development book that at certain ages, six months of calm are typically followed by six months of turmoil as a child pushes ahead into their next stage of development. Also, the sleeplessness with young children. I don’t think I’ll ever forget those sleepless nights! And, of course, how busy they become as adults. That’s a new adjustment period: being proud of them and adapting to them as grown-ups with their own independent ideas. Raising children in some ways feels like a race, sprinting from one active stage to another; then running around touring colleges; then, suddenly, an empty, quiet house while you hear from your children about how busy they’ve become! It all seems to have happened in the blink of an eye. Raising children teaches you something about time. An afternoon on which your three-year-old is melting down and having a temper tantrum while your baby is crying with teething pain seems like an eternity. But all of childhood becomes like the blink of an eye to a parent once it’s over.

R. M. Webb: Are your kids ever involved with your art? Do they inspire you? Work with you? Would you like to include them in your business as they grow?

My children were involved with my children’s books when they were little. They read them, shared them with their friends and went to some of my book events. Now, they try to read my books when they have time. Both of my sons definitely inspire me. I’m very proud of how well they’re doing. I’d love to work with them on a joint project someday; but I think it’s more important that they continue to find work in their field and form their own professional identities right now.

R. M. Webb: What advice would you give someone dreaming of making it in your field?

Go for it! Realize it won’t be easy. Have a backup plan.

R. M. Webb: If you could pass one thing on to the next generation in general, what would it be?

That it’s important to love life. Go after your passion if you can possibly do that. Do it while you’re young, while you have the energy and idealism of youth. It will be harder later on.

R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your life?

I’m happy that I have time to write, photograph, hike and explore, that I have a supportive husband and two great kids.

R. M. Webb: Quick! Eat out or cook at home?

Eat out!

R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about your craft?

The doubt and the struggle to finish a book, the long hours sitting in one chair, the long hours alone.

R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about your craft?

Completing books that I feel proud to have written, the process of creating whole new worlds.

R. M. Webb: What’s the hardest thing about the business side of your craft?

Trying to sell books.

R. M. Webb: What’s the best thing about the business side of your craft?

Hearing from readers who enjoyed reading my books. That always feels wonderful!

R. M. Webb: Quick! Your peanut butter’s on your banana. What do you do?

Scrape off the peanut better. Put it on a cracker with strawberry jam. Eat that first, then the banana. If I’m hungry, make a banana split!

Click the cover images to see a few of Marilyn’s books:




Wanna learn more about Marilyn Peake? Check out these links!

Website 

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page