Dragon Twins Cover Reveal

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The Release Date:  June 30th, 2013

The Blurb:

Separated at birth…reunited by murder.

Behind the gates of an exclusive Lake City neighborhood, prominent businessman Don Chu’s housekeeper has been brutally murdered and his teenage daughter taken. The high-profile case has the Mayor himself sending the case across Detective Stan Brookshire’s desk. He barely has time to digest the details of the two sinister crimes before he’s called to yet another disturbing scene.

This time, at the other end of the city, another murder and attempted kidnapping ring out with a similarity too convenient for coincidence. As the clues fall into place and the evidence mounts, Stan starts to see a pattern emerge. A DNA match, and the two cases now become one. With the help of an unexpected young ally, Stan begins his search for a victim that may still be alive. It’s a race against the clock and across the globe that will test his skills to the absolute limit. Two murders. Two kidnappings. Twice the danger.

The Excerpt:

A loud noise startled Jade from her slight doze. As she straightened up in her chair, she glanced at the clock on her bedside table across the room that held her textbooks. Eleven thirty-five.

Leaning back at her desk, she reached over and felt the bowl of soup Wei-Lee, the family housekeeper, had brought. It had been piping hot but now it was tepid. She estimated she was out less than half an hour. 

 Another crash came from the direction of the kitchen. What on earth was Wei-Lee doing at this time of night to make that much noise?

 Jade started to get up when the door to her room flew open and two almost identical Asian men burst into her room. Grabbing her before she could make a sound, her feet lashed out and knocked the books to the floor as they dragged her toward the door.

 “You’re coming with us,” one of the men said in a thick, Chinese accent. “You can either come quietly or we’ll drag you out.”

 “There’s no way I’m letting you take me anywhere!” she yelled, struggling against them. Their grip loosened and this time she racked her nails across one man’s cheek. Crying out in pain, he released her arm to protect his face.

 She ran out of the bedroom and down the stairs hoping to find Wei-Lee or something to defend herself. Jade heard them running after her. Chancing a glance over her shoulder, she saw they were right behind her as she raced through the house trying to get to the kitchen.

 She was almost there when a man stepped out of the doorway, into her path. He was Asian but what caught her attention was the knife in his hand. Red liquid dripped from it onto the tile floor. She managed to duck around him and into the kitchen where she was halted at the sight of Wei-Lee. She lay dead in a slowly spreading pool of blood.

 A hand grabbed her shoulder and tried to spin her around. Her reflexes drove her forward, jumping over the housekeeper’s body she dove for the cordless phone to dial 911. She managed to dial two digits before the phone was knocked out of her hand and it went flying across the floor.

 Rough hands grabbed her and tore her clothing as she tried to get away. It was useless. They were too strong. It was too much for her. The sight of the dead housekeeper, the men in her house…the blood. There was so much blood.

 A hand reached up and put a cloth over her mouth, she fought against it but it was no use. She had no strength left. As her world faded to darkness the last thing she heard was, “Do not hurt her. Ling will not be happy if she is harmed.”

Hump Day Hook – Music For Her Soul

humpdayhookWelcome to the Hump Day Hook! This is a weekly blog hop in which authors give you a peek at their work. To check out the other authors participating in this event, click here. You may just discover your next read!

My hook this week comes from a previously published work, Music for Her Soul. It follows the story of Ethan, a working musician, and Lena, a music professor and his ex-girlfriend. In this scene, Lena has arranged for a group of her students to perform at Calliope’s Jazz Club and guess who also has a gig there? And he’s playing the song he wrote for her.

Music+For+Her+Soul_300x450Her head swam and she sank back into her chair, unable to tear her eyes away from him. The memory of his caress kindled old flames of desire and ignited new ones. Shifting uncomfortably in the hard, wooden chair, she cursed him not for her desires, but for the painful choice she had to make where he was concerned. 

At last, the lights came up amid a series of claps and whistles. Ethan strode off stage and headed in her direction. Breathe, damn it. Her entire body tensed, bracing for the feel of his fingers heated by the vibrations of the trumpet’s keys to graze her skin. 

An amorous pang clamped her thighs shut and she pressed her lips tightly together lest the sound of unmistakable want emerge without her consent. 

“Did you enjoy that?” he whispered.

Don’t forget to check out the other Humpers and enjoy the rest of the week!

May Update – Finished Pieces and What’s Next

This update thing isn’t working as well as I’d hoped, but I’ll try to remember to do this every month. Can’t promise a date!

Originally, I wanted to complete four long works this year – The three books in the Rose Gold Collection and the completion of Amber and Kevin’s story. I’m pretty sure that is not going to happen. My writing has slowed down quite a bit. In fact I’ve been quite sluggish lately. I think I have submission phobia.

I’ve been working on the conclusion for Amber and Kevin for months and think I’m finally ready to hand it over to beta readers after the holiday. I want one more look through. I’m hopeful that this will see the light of day this year as I’m decided to submit it to publishers instead of self-publishing.

As for the Rose Gold Collection, Deja Vu is done. The other two, well I just don’t know.  I am rethinking that idea all together.

But I’m still writing, I came up with an idea and a working title. I’m thinking of posting it on the blog with some cute pics like this.

Woman with  clapboard

We’ll see.

So that’s me.

Enjoy your holiday! ~Val

On the Soapbox ~ Don’t Tell Me It Should Be Longer

Fair warning – this post is a rant!

Don’t tell me you want a short story to be longer and give me a one to two star review based on that reason!

interracial desire and passionate sex hand on assHere’s the blurb:

In this short story, a frustrated Daniel Weir sets out to seduce his wife after an off-hand remark sends her off in a huff. Little does he know, Leslie Weir has her own game of seduction planned.

For Leslie, Daniel is a solid columnar mass of a man, more than capable of providing her with mind blowing experiences. But since the birth of their son, he has become the most gentle of lovers and Leslie has grown tired of his carefulness. In a night of gentle teasing, she hopes to reignite his passion.

One night. Short story. That’s it! (The site gives you the length. It’s not an epic saga.)

Tell me that the piece is chocked full of grammatical errors. That the story doesn’t flow. That the dialogue is stilted or unbelievable. Something other than a short story is short.

Enough ranting.  Back to being smiling Val!

~Enjoy your holiday weekend.

Hump Day Hook ~ Amber and Kevin

humpdayhookWelcome to the Hump Day Hook! This is a weekly blog hop in which authors give you a peek at their work. To check out the other authors participating in this event, click here. You may just discover your next read!

This week, I’m sharing from my WIP (still untitled, but I have two ideas so far). This story involves two of my favorite characters, Amber Grayson and Kevin Miller. Amber and Kevin met in the novella, In the Moment. Kevin proposed in A Miller Tradition, a free read on Goodreads.

And here we are – pre-married life with the future in-laws spending the night.

I’d love to know what you feel about the characters from this snippet.

71011-20130209Willing blood flow into his flaccid member, he tried to concentrate on her fingers working over his skin. He flexed his hips off the bed, curled his lips back against his teeth. Sex, sex, sex, he repeated in his head and forced himself into the twist of her hand with a grunt.

The comments from dinner didn’t matter. He didn’t give two shits about them…except…except he did.

“Why do you always have to remind your mother about my degree? I’m not an architect.”

Her hand stopped mid-glide. “But you do have a degree…”

“I operate a renovation company. That’s construction. Is there something wrong with that?” His voice rose above the whisper in which they’d been speaking.

“Shh….I never said that.” The waistband of his boxers snapped against his stomach with the hasty removal of her hand.

“Don’t shhh me in my own damn house.”

“It’s my house too. Shh…shh…shh…”

The groan of the futon’s springs didn’t seem to bother her as she jumped to her feet. “Have fun jerking off, alone.” The door creaked closed behind her, catching on the old carpet and ruining her attempt at a slam.

Honing the Outlining Process

Before beginning to write and learn, I had no idea what a pantser was. For my first published short story, I was a total pantser. I came up with an idea, had a vague idea of my characters and wrote their story as it came to me.

Calendar Girl Cover

Calendar Girl Cover

For a short story, less than 8000 words, the editing process was arduous. I was extremely lucky that Amira Press even took the chance on Calendar Girl. I literally typed as Nia and Connor spoke.

Feeling adventurous, I ventured into a longer work.  Lena and Ethan, Music for Her Soul,  still spoke to me but there were missing spots in the story and I began to develop my own system of outlining.

The character bio – How old? Where are they from? What is their relationship like with their families? Where do they work? What are their hobbies? I even include things like their senior prom experience and who they voted for in the last presidential election. This is especially helpful when I’m writing dialogue.

The story idea – I write a paragraph or two which basically tells the whole story.

The plot outline – I used to write plays and think in terms of acts. So I outline Act I, Act II, Act III, etc…

Research – What do I need to complete all these things? Job notes? Housing? Airline Schedules? What I think I need I collect and store.

The first draft – This is part of my outlining process. I begin to add words and dialogue and setting to the plot outline. The hardest part about the first draft is not to edit myself and just let the characters speak. The work is for later.

Rewriting and Editing – This is the fleshing out and corrective process. Actually my least favorite part, but I’ve had some good moments.

DEJAVUFinalI used this process with Deja Vu.

With an additional writing class which I thought was wonderful, I’m adding another step between first draft and rewriting. I’m calling it the questioning period. I’m going scene by scene and asking myself if this is the most important focus of the character at that moment and making sure the reader knows this as well.

For instance, I walked into my office this morning and saw a bright pink sticky note in curvy writing on my monitor at work this morning. That caught my attention. I had a class to teach in ten minutes, I hadn’t arrived as early as I should have and the note could only be from my boss. It wasn’t until later in the day that I noticed the six files crammed into the corner of my desk and the light blinking on my phone that I had messages.

I want my readers to be in that moment with my characters and I’m trying out my new technique in my WIP – wish me luck!

~Happy Writing