Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Gathering Reviews

You've finished your manuscript, edited it to within an inch of its life, polished and preened it to perfection, found a publisher, gone through the process all over again with your assigned editor, approved your cover art and blurb, waited for what seems like eons for that release date to finally arrive, accepted the heartfelt congratulations of friends, family, and Facebook... and...

Why aren't there more reviews on the Amazon page for your book?

All those friends and family members who told you they couldn't wait to read it... did they hate your book baby?

Phone calls and Facebook posts are great - but it's the actual online reviews that get your book noticed beyond your own circle, and launched into the Amazon algorithms that may help it succeed.

My mother-in-law called me several weeks back. She'd finally read the copy of GHOSTS DON'T LIE that she'd bought and downloaded onto her Kindle. She called to tell me how much she really loved it, but that she wasn't going to leave a review on Amazon - even though it was a verified purchase - because it was "just too hard to figure out their system."

Who else has heard that from a friend or relative?

Here's another good one. My father's new wife read my books (my dad has all the signed copies I've given him and mom over the years) but then she asked me at Christmas why I didn't have more reviews for them on Amazon. "You're a good writer, why don't more people leave reviews?"

Did she leave any reviews? No. Why? She didn't buy them on Amazon, she read my dad's copies.

Does that mean people who come to our book signings and events, who buy signed books from us in person... they don't think they're "allowed" to leave reviews on Amazon because it's not a "verified purchase"?

Untrue.

You can leave reviews on Amazon for books you bought direct from the publisher, or paperbacks you bought at your local bookstore. Or ARCs you've been gifted from the author or won in a contest. If you've read the book, you can leave a review on Amazon. They've become the defacto review site, whether they like it or not.

So how do we as authors get more people to leave reviews? To understand it's not supposed to be a time consuming process or an eight page book report. It's choosing a number of stars, and a short reason why you liked the book - or didn't like it, as the case may be.

How pushy would it be for us as authors to follow up with readers who won books from us and ask again for a review? How pushy is it to email those friends and family when they send that note of praise and say, "So glad you liked it - can you leave a review on Amazon too?"

Obviously, I'm not very good at it. As my father's wife points out, I don't have overwhelming numbers in my review column. So I'm asking for input here - what's your strategy?

How do you go about turning readers into reviewers?




Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Book Review: Mugs and Monasteries by Cait O'Sullivan


Mugs and Monasteries, by Cait O'Sullivan
Published 2017 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
When Orchid hunter Evie Bourke stumbles across a near deserted monastery deep in the Burren, she doesn’t realize that she’s the first person alive to see it. All she knows is that her life suddenly takes a strange turn and nothing will ever be the same.

Aiden Dunne’s family has been connected to Munster Abbey for generations, he is determined to find it and to find out what happened to his ancestral relative, the former Prior. What happened all those years ago and why does Aiden seem so familiar to Evie when they’ve never met?

Together they must face the Wanderer and dispatch him back to the darkness where he belongs before he destroys everything they hold dear. Can they trust each other before time runs out?
My Take:

Okay, first things first. I am not related in any way to the author of this fast-paced ghost story, except as authors in the same publishing house. Cait lives overseas in the U.K., and I'm ensconced on Cape Cod in the U.S. We shared a laugh on Twitter about the similarities of our names and went back and forth for a bit before I decided to download her story to my Kindle. Glad I did!

This short paranormal novella speeds along at breakneck pace, dropping the reader straight into an action filled scene at the very start. Ghosts, and demons, and time travel, oh my!

Evie Bourke is in Ireland to study orchids, when she's caught out in a sudden thunderstorm. Seeking shelter, she stumbles into an odd situation, meeting Eamon, who seems to be the caretaker for a dusty, nearly abandoned house. The evening gets stranger and stranger until she passes out, only to wake up in her own room back in the village B&B, with no memories of what happened, except for the feeling that time is running out.

When she meets Aiden the next day at the pub, she feels an instant connection without understanding why. Slowly the pair put the put the puzzling pieces together, as Evie's memories trickle back. Will it be in time?

I really enjoyed this story and only wish it had lasted longer, that it had been a full length tale with all the extra embellishments that would've meant. I loved the little details about the orchids and the alpacas (yes! In Ireland!) and I would happily stay ensconced in this world longer.

If you like ghostly tales, give Mugs and Monasteries a read. Quick and satisfying, the story will leave you thinking about it long after you're done turning pages.

Grab a copy on AMAZON.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Taking it Seriously

When I first told my mother I was trying to write a novel, she was pretty excited. She was a former teacher, and a big-time reader (voracious doesn't begin to cover it) and had been telling me for years I should try to be an author. Or a lawyer. One of those things that deals with words.

Yeah, I know. I shoulda gone for the law degree and I'd be better off financially. But here we are.

And I love being a writer. I love calling myself a writer. I love talking to people about writing.

So, that first year she knew, my mom started sending me articles and books about writing. Her MO was to rip pages out of magazines and articles out of newspapers, stuffing them into envelopes on her desk with my name on it. Oh, she had envelopes for her other two girls as well. One sister is a farmer and one sister is a chef, so we all had our "things" she could rip out and stuff in there. When the envelope was full, she'd send it to us. With or without a sticky note to say hi, but we all knew who sent the jumble of articles every few weeks.

One Sunday the Savannah newspaper must have run an article about books on writing, because instead of tearing and stuffing, she called right away. "Have you read any of these books?" Of the six she mentioned, I'd only read one.

The other 5 arrived in the mail 3 days later.

One of the books was Stephen King's ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft. I quote it to people all the time, and I think I need to reread it this summer. If you haven't read it yet, go find a copy. Maybe some loving relative sent it to you at some point when you confessed to a writing obsession?

I've added the link to it on Amazon, but the Kindle is $12.99, so may as well order the paperback for less than a dollar more. That way you can dog-ear the pages and add stickies.

Why do I bring this up? In the last week, I've downloaded and started at least 5 books on my ereader that broke so many rules I couldn't get past the first chapter. The sixth book I read through to the end cringing the entire way. With the advent of being able to self-publish anything you want to, that's just what people are doing. And many of them aren't taking the process or the craft seriously.

I figure if you're here reading my Wednesday blog where I rant about writing, you're one of the people trying to take this job seriously. It's a job, people. It may not pay very well, but it serves an important function in society - keeping us literate and sane. Throwing sex on the page without knowing how to use commas is not writing.

I'm going to quote Stephen King here, and then leave it at that. Go forth and write, my friends, and remember to take yourself seriously.

From ON WRITING, by Stephen King:

"I'm not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I'm not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn't a popularity contest, it's not the moral Olympics, and it's not church. But it's writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner, If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can't or won't, it's time for you to close the book and do something else.

Wash the car, maybe."






Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Book Review: Feyland, by Anthea Sharp


Feyland: The Dark Realm, (Feyland Trilogy, book one), by Anthea SharpPublished by Fiddlehead Press, December 2013

About the Book:
Feyland is the most immersive computer game ever designed, and Jennet Carter is the first to play the prototype. But she doesn't suspect the virtual world is close enough to touch - or that she'll be battling for her life against the Dark Queen of the faeries.

Tam Linn is the perfect hero, in-game. Too bad the rest of his life is seriously flawed. The last thing he needs is rich-girl Jennet prying into his secrets, insisting he's the only one who can help her.

Together, Jennet and Tam enter the Dark Realm of Feyland, only to discover that the entire human world is in danger. Pushed to the limit of their abilities, they must defeat the Dark Queen... before it's too late.
My Take:

Set in an undefined future of hovercars and wrist implants for identification, where the distance between haves and have-nots is greater than ever, FEYLAND takes the reader on a perilous journey into another realm.

The story starts with a high school gamer who gets in way over her head. In this future world, SIM gaming is the elite level, and Jennet's father is a bigwig at one of the biggest gaming companies in the world. When he brings home a prototype full-submersion simulator game, she can't resist checking it out, and gets caught up in a game that's much more than just a game.

Tam Linn is from the wrong side of the tracks, literally, but he's the glue holding his little dysfunctional family together. When Jennet finds out he's a nationally ranked gamer, she knows he's the one who can help her, but he's got enough problems without some rich girl adding to them.

This is a YA book, but with a sharp edge and a focus on the gaming world that probably won't resonate with teenaged girls. That said, its an absorbing story and as someone who loves fairy legends, I totally appreciated the imagery and nuances the author layered into the novel.

This is the first story in a series, but has a happy-for-now ending that satisfies and stands alone on its own two feet.  I'm not sure I will read more of the FEYLAND series, but was completely engrossed by this book and recommend it to those that like young adult books with a touch of fairy magic.

Grab a copy on AMAZON.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Feature: HUNKS TO THE RESCUE, #99Cent Preorder and BOGO


Heroes by Day…Sinful Bad Boys by Night...
 
15 heart-pounding rescues from New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors will have you begging for more!
 
Who hasn’t fantasized about being rescued by a hunk who steams up her nights? Indulge those fantasies with this box set of 15 hot alpha rescuers with a sizzling talent for romance. Whether you lust for a hero in the military or a fire station; a hunky undercover detective ready to break the rules…in bed; a cowboy who plucks you from danger only to kiss you senseless; or that sexy, everyday guy who springs into action just when you need him most, this box set has your hero.
These hunks will keep you warm and entertained but only for a limited time.
 
Pre-order your copy for $0.99 cents today! https://hunkstotherescue.com/


Can you believe this awesome deal? If you preorder the HUNKS TO THE RESCUE anthology, you can also grab this BOGO deal! Submit your receipt and we'll send you 12 more romances to read while you wait for the anthology release date! Seriously!

Visit our HUNKS website at https://hunkstotherescue.com/ for all the details - including buy links and full descriptions of all 15 books in the boxed set.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Reading Sex Scenes to Strangers

I write romance.

I write romance and adventure for both Young Adults and the young at heart. And yes, my adult books tend to contain sensuality and - you guessed it - sex.

So when I was asked to participate in a Valentine library program back in February, I signed right up. The title of the program was "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered: Authors Talking Romance."

And then there was a blizzard.

So this past Monday night, the rescheduled program took place, without all the Valentine hype and advertising they'd had for the original program so the turnout wasn't the greatest, but most of the seats were still filled.

Eight authors, including myself, read from our published work on the general topic of "sex" and the stories ran the gamut of time periods and situations. We heard tentative first kisses between near strangers on a high school field trip in the 1970s, and a princess in ancient Egypt slicing off her brother's phallus to keep him from raping her.


The Egyptian scene actually kicked off the readings, and it was bloody and filled with explicit words and actions. If anyone in that audience didn't know what they were in for, they got the idea pretty quickly.

We heard scenes from contemporary political thrillers and 16th century courtships.  Two authors read from books that featured the pirate Sam Bellamy and his crew. This is Cape Cod, after all. Gotta have pirates.
One older gentleman had the audience in stitches with a tale of hot tub antics - not what you'd expect, but rather a humorous mishap with misplaced bubble bath. The actual sex scenes were alluded to behind closed doors, but he actually said "nipples" out loud without stumbling over the words.


I read a scene from MY KIND OF CRAZY, with kissing and touching and overwhelming feelings... everything leading up to but just shy of actual sex. I thought long and hard about what I would be comfortable reading out loud, and wasn't sure how far I wanted to go. Pun intended.

I read last, wrapping up the evening. By then, the audience and other authors had all relaxed and gotten over the shock of hearing the word "penis" read out loud in the library. But here's a secret - I'm a painfully shy public speaker.

So why did I sign up to read a sex scene out loud in front of a crowd? Actually, I figured if I could do this, it would go a long ways to helping me overcome my fears of public speaking. Which, you know, is a thing you need to do when you're an author and you want to connect with your readers. You need to actually go and talk with them.

What did I learn from the experience?

I can do this. The audience was receptive and engaged, and several stayed to chat with me afterward. It wasn't as awkward as I'd thought it might be - I mean, think about reading romance out loud to a group of strangers. The potential for discomfort is pretty high up there. But I'm really glad I participated. And now I know I can do it.

How have you challenged yourself lately? Authors, have you ever read one of your sex scenes out loud to a crowd?


Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Book Review: DEMON CURSED by Karilyn Bentley

Demon Cursed, (Book 3 in the Demon Huntress series) by Karilyn Bentley
Published 2017 by The Wild Rose Press


About the Book:
Gin Crawford, the world's newest demon huntress, just wants to enjoy a football game, but finds herself hunting a serial killer minion instead. When his victims turn out to be the local football star’s female fans, she must determine if the player has joined forces with the minion, but her efforts lead her deeper into danger. When her mentor, Aidan Smythe, is attacked, Gin resolves to go to any lengths to save him, even if it exposes her most tightly held secret. Minions and demons, however, aren't the only terrors she faces. Will she realize the greatest danger lies within—before it's too late?
My Take:

Demon Cursed  is the third book in Bentley's Demon Huntress series, and if you haven't met Gin Crawford yet, you need to catch up! Fast!

Gin Crawford was a fairly ordinary ER nurse with empathic abilities and a troubled past.  Then she was gifted with a special silver bracelet, a justitia that turns into a sword in the presence of demons. And it came with her very own super sexy Mage, the dark and brooding Smythe.

Bentley writes with a snarky first person POV from Gin's perspective that is both audacious and totally self deprecating, and sucks you right in along her high speed journey. It's not as much of a roller coaster as a first time luge ride, fast and furious into uncharted territory. The reader discovers everything right alongside Gin, as consorting with demons is as new to her as it is to the reader, and she pulls no punches in the telling.

Although this could really stand on its own and be a satisfying read, I totally recommend starting at the beginning of the series and reading them all. And if you haven't already read the first two books in the series, you should probably stop reading this review.

Okay. Everyone who's left reading this review is caught up with all things demon huntress, right? Because only readers will understand when I say...

Thank God that Gin and Smythe finally kissed! Hurray for a little heavy petting after all the smoldering tension! The heat between them has been growing to impossible heights, but their first kiss seemed well worth the wait. And no, I'm not going to tell you if they get beyond kissing, you need to read it for yourself!

Smythe's jealousy over the football player was actually pretty cute. At first. With what we know of his broken past, I guess the reader shouldn't be surprised that jealousy and mistrust come so easily to Smythe, but I wanted to reach through the pages to shake some sense into him.

The middle of a series can be hard ... Book 3 of a 5 book series is traditionally a point when our hero and/or heroine faces their inner demons (as well as, you know, the actual demons they're chasing and trying to kill) and the characters reach their lowest point, where they need to make the choices that will lead them to ruin or redemption. Bentley gives us a great example of this, but no, I'm not spilling the details. Read it for yourself, and join me on the twitter bandwagon to urge the author to write faster and get us book 4 soon!

If you enjoy Urban Fantasy and strong but flawed female heroines,  I totally recommend this series and this author. Grab a copy on Amazon.





Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday Feature: Author M.S. Spencer on finding Inspiration, and an #excerpt from LAPSES OF MEMORY


Today I'm thrilled to welcome multi-published author M.S. Spencer, with an excerpt from her latest release LAPSES OF MEMORY. She's talking today about the inspiration behind this story, and how the kernel of an idea became this intriguing new romance. 

Thanks for being here today, M.S., and sharing with us!


Thank you so much for having me, Sydney, and Elian today, Katie. I’d like to talk a little bit about my new romantic suspense novel, Lapses of Memory.

Introduction

A few years ago, a former publisher tossed out the idea of a series based on “love in the air” and the kernel of Lapses of Memory was born. Sitting quietly in what I euphemistically call my lotus position, I mulled. “Planes,” I said to myself. “Love in the air…snakes on a plane (nah, overdone)…old planes…my first trip on a plane…” Eureka (or aha, whichever you prefer)!  I saw before me an enormous, bulbous silver bird with EASTERN written in red across the side. I’d recently seen it at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and remembered because seeing it there made me feel old, since the plane was, in fact, the very first plane I’d flown on at age four. A Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, one of the first to make the transatlantic voyage a regular event, it allowed—with its sleeping berths and formal dining—for luxurious air travel in the 1950s.
My heroine, Sydney, would take that plane. And so would the hero Elian. Everything was going swimmingly, until I realized that, this being a contemporary romance, Sydney and Elian would be too young in 1958 to fall in love. So I was forced to make them suffer through an intermittent romance as they (and airplane design) matured. In the excerpt below, they’re in their twenties when they meet again—and the romance that begins to build fizzles out once more. Sigh.

Wild Rose Press, 3/15/2017, Imprint: Champagne Rose
Contemporary romantic suspense/Action Adventure; M/F; 2 flames
Ebook (70,560); Print: 296 pp.

Blurb
Sydney Bellek first meets Elian Davies in the 1950s when she is five & he is seven. While he knows from the start that she is his true love, she does not. Later, as rival journalists, they vie for scoops on international crises. The handsome and intrepid Elian beats her out at every turn, even while keeping his love for her secret.

Only after years of separation does she finally realize they are meant to be together, but, in a twist of fate, it is Elian whose memory of her is gone. Will he remember her before she loses heart or will their new love be enough to replace the
old one?

Excerpt (PG): The Lady Doesn’t Remember

Several beers later, they wobbled out to the lobby holding hands. Sydney had learned enough to know this Elian was a complex person and really, really cute. When they reached her room, he backed her against the door. She could feel his penis throbbing through his jeans and took a minute to revel in the desire the friction kindled before pushing him away. He set his arms on either side of her and regarded her with serious eyes. “You still don’t remember me, do you?”
She shook her head. She didn’t really want to recognize him. Placing him in some other context could only be deflating. She liked him now, a tall, thin, russet-haired man with a pulsing member and inviting mouth, currently blowing a tidal wave of pheromones in her direction.
He continued to stand there, making none of the moves she wished he’d make. Finally, she took a step toward him and held out her lips. Leaning in, he took them with his. The link pulled the rest of their bodies together. Arms went around waist and neck, bellies ground against each other, thighs intertwined. Sydney fell into a long, dark, winding tunnel that squeezed her, taking her breath away. She no longer felt corporeal, but more like a soft piece of quivering tissue, the bones dissolving, reduced finally to a pool of liquid heat.
He broke away, panting. “Now do you remember me?”
Her arms empty, she tried blinking to drag herself back to the present. Elian swam into view. His cerulean eyes shot signals, signals that she couldn’t decipher. What does he want of me? Why can’t we live for the moment? Just be in the here and now? For an instant she thought of lying, but somehow she knew he would see through it, that it would only push him farther away. “I’m sorry.”
He lifted his hands, then dropped them in frustration. He gazed at her, pleading. She couldn’t help him. Bits of him seemed familiar—as though those features belonged to someone else she’d known a long time ago. Other bits, like his deep, gruff voice and his air of insolence, were strange and new. A fleeting sense of abandonment passed through her. Whoever he reminded her of had left her once before. She didn’t want that loneliness again. She turned from him and put the key in the door. He caught her arm. “We’ll meet again, Sydney.”
She tried to match the hope in his voice. “Perhaps we will.” She ran inside and threw herself on the bed. After a good cry and a call for room service, she paced the room, trying to get a grip on her emotions. Something deep in Elian’s eyes drew her. She didn’t recognize his face, but she felt a linkage, a bond with him. An affinity shared, but long ago. She understood him, knew him. A face rose before her, but all jumbled as though she looked at it through a kaleidoscope. Eyes, chin, nose, cheeks, all split up into triangles and rhomboids, making the face as inscrutable as a Picasso painting. She gave up.
Halfway through the chicken cordon bleu, she stopped, fork stalled two inches from her mouth. Why does he care whether I recognize him? What is this rapport I sense? Is there some deep, dark secret I should know? Oh my God, is he my long-lost brother?


Buy Links:

About the Author

Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After many years in academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

Ms. Spencer has published ten romantic suspense novels, and has two more in utero. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Contacts

My calendar of events can be found here:


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Painting Word Pictures and an #Excerpt from DESCENT

One of the things I like best about writing is painting word pictures in the reader's mind. Helping them see what I'm seeing as I imagine the scene and furiously jot down the imagery before it fades. As I see it, there are three basic aspects to a story, whether it's written or just you telling a friend about that crazy thing you saw on the way to work:
1. The Plot
2. The Characters, and
3. The Setting.

Some authors are better at one than the other, or good at two but can't get the third to save their skin. A story - especially a novel - really must have all three to work well. 

1. There has to be action to keep the pages turning.
2. The characters have to make you care about them - not necessarily like them, but care what happens. If you don't care about them, why spend time with them?
3. The reader needs to be able to picture it in their head, like a movie playing on an inner screen.

As an author you should strive to make all three as strong as you possibly can, especially in YA fiction. Granted, you won't ever connect with every reader, but the idea of sparking a young imagination has to be one of the most exciting motivators out there.

I find the hardest part of the triangle for me is the plot. I always have a vague idea of what's going to happen, but getting from point A to point B can be a long, drawn out process. One of these days I'll take a plotting class and finally figure out how to do this most efficiently.

Settings, however, I love. Weaving details into descriptions and adding little nuggets here and there gets me excited to write and create. The trick is not to leave strings of adjectives and adverbs trailing all over the place. Turn adjectives into action. Easier said than done. Add details that resonate in the reader's mind, making them able to paint their own picture of the scene. Don't forget the other senses when you're painting with words - the more of them you can engage the more immersive the experience for the reader.

Here's an excerpt from the first book in my mermaid series that I loved writing, and still love reading. Take note of the little details and see it from the main character's eyes, or even better - try to picture yourself in a darkened theatre watching this on a big screen. (oh how I wish...)

EXCERPT FROM DESCENT (Son of a Mermaid, Book One):

Shea squinted his eyes against the glare. The bright sunshine sparkled on the river’s surface as the water rushed back from the ocean, the swift current creating streams of light out of the reflected brilliance.
“I love watching the tide come in,” Hailey said. The pair sat on the edge of the dock mesmerized by the flowing water, bare feet dangling inches above the rising surface. Fishing poles and sandals lay discarded behind them on the wooden walkway. “It’s like the river went out to play in the ocean and is now rushing home for lunch.”
He elbowed her ribs. “You think about food all of the time, you know that?”
She turned and grinned. “I’m food deprived. Have I mentioned my mom can’t cook?”
“Only forty million times. And I’ve only known you about a week!” He paused, watching a seagull wheel overhead. “Finding all those wooden lures this morning really made me want to go fishing. You didn’t have to tag along.”
“I wanted to,” Hailey insisted, turning her face upward to watch the same gull. “Fishing is a good Cape Cod experience, and it gets me out of the house. Chip has been awful to live with lately.”
“He still doesn’t like it here?”
Hailey shook her head. She stood up on the dock and pulled her hot pink shirt over her head, revealing a plain, black one-piece bathing suit. “C’mon, Shea, let’s jump in.” She shimmied out of her shorts, dropped the clothes in a heap on the wooden dock, and cannonballed into the river.
He shielded his face with his arm across to block the splash. “Watch it! And no, I told you I don’t know how to swim. I’ll just sit up here and watch you drown.”
With an exaggerated pout, Hailey swam back toward him. “It’s no fun alone. Pull me back onto the dock.” He stood and bent to help her, but she tugged his arm instead.
He toppled into the river beside her. The blue-green coolness swirled as he tumbled down through the water, arms and legs flailing. He struggled to hold his breath, his cheeks puffing like a chipmunk. Somehow he managed to right himself, head over kicking feet, but still he sank into the murky depths.
Millions of air bubbles traced the path of his body, the precious oxygen escaping from his clothing and through his nose.
He hadn’t been kidding when he told Hailey he couldn’t swim. Suddenly, he realized he was inside a scene from one of his nightmares, except this time it was real. He was drowning.
Eyes wide with panic, he clawed helplessly at the water. A huge school of minnows parted down the middle to swim around him, surrounding him like walls on either side of his body. Turning his face upward, he saw Hailey’s legs kicking above him as he sank further and further under the water. He had no idea the river was this deep! How would he ever get back to the surface?
His throat and lungs burned from the effort of holding his breath. Darkness pressed hard against his eyes as he sank deeper, swirls of strange colors dancing in front of him as his whole body strained against the sudden lack of oxygen.
I need to breathe, he thought desperately, his whole body feeling like it was on fire. This isn’t a dream. I’m going to die! His flailing limbs slowed their movements when his feet finally thunked onto the mucky river bottom.
His eyes squeezed shut, an image of his father playing in his mind. Next to his dad, he saw the face from his dreams. The blonde woman, the one he now knew was his mother. The one who looked like a mermaid. If he opened his eyes now, would she be hovering in front of him, like in the dreams? Fear of the unknown shivered down his spine and his eyes stayed closed.
Searing pain ripped through his throat, as if his entire body would explode any second from the effort of holding his breath. Finally he opened his eyes, expecting to see her there by his side. Smiling at him. Reaching for his hand.
Nothing.
Nothing but swaying fronds of seaweed reaching up from the mucky river bottom, tangling themselves around his bare shins. There was no mermaid to save him.
He was going to die.
Finally, the pain overwhelmed him. He gave up trying to fight. Shea opened his mouth to exhale the stale air pounding like a jackhammer in his lungs. Large bubbles rushed to the surface in a hurry to escape. Water gushed in, filling his mouth and lungs. He struggled to breathe, but there was no air on the river bottom, only water.
Water that somehow acted like fresh air to his exhausted body.
I can breathe under water?
He took a second deep and satisfying breath. How could it be possible?
I’m breathing water! Maybe this is how drowning feels.
His head pounded and his body still felt like it was on fire… But he was breathing. Water. He sucked big mouthfuls in and out, faster and faster, realizing he wasn’t going to die after all.
Not…going…to die…
His eyes rolled backward and he drifted into shocked unconsciousness.


* ~ * ~ *

Grab a copy of DESCENT on AMAZON.