The Haunting of Tessa Pines – Release Shenanigans

September 25th is fast approaching!

In case you were wondering, that’s the official release date for my newest novel The Haunting of Tessa Pines. Which is perfect because as the title suggests, there are ghosts in it, making this time of year ideal for reading.

I love autumn. I love the smells, the colors, the brisk air.

And corn mazes.

I rarely make it through an entire corn maze, but I have great fun trying, which is something I have in common with the main character of the novel. Tessa finds herself in the middle of a corn maze during the course of the story and I admit to taking a good deal of pleasure writing the scene.

There’s more going on in it, of course. The poor woman is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and finds herself in a bit of a mental maze as well. Add to that the presence of her ex-husband, an overbearing father intent on making his daughter well again, and a nosy roommate, and we have the makings of a very frustrating evening.

I’d like to say I wrote the scene directly after visiting a corn maze, but this novel was written during National Novel Writing Month in November 2017, so all the mazes were already closed. At least in Idaho they were.

Still, it was the right time of year.

August Round Robin – Travel Teasers



This month we’re sharing excerpts of our work that relate to travel or vacation. And because I’m in the middle of a new work, you get a tiny taste of One Big Werewolf Wedding.

The title is obviously in the works.

And thanks to my stepmother, who requested I visit steampunk again, I have opted to exchange modern-day Boston/New York with an 1800’s steampunk version. I’m actually enjoying this change a good deal more, even if I am still struggling with the first person POV.

One Big Werewolf Wedding – Excerpt

Boston South Central hummed with activity, human and supernatural creatures alike making their way to individual train cars, politely keeping to themselves. There were many top hats and business suits to be seen, including those of my abductors, who were having a time blending with the crowd. They were all too large, and most had blunt noses from too many fights. Except, of course, for picture-perfect Derrick King.

Maker help me, that man needed a flaw.

Aside from the whole abduction business.

Really, the abduction business should have made him less attractive, even if he was trying to save his mother. But he’d chosen to shave before we left the seedy motel, and that blasted aviator jacket did far too many nice things to his shoulders.

Smug, whose name I’d learned was Mark, kept a brisk pace and blocked my view and I realized I’d been staring. Fighting a blush, I scowled at him, all too pleased to see his cut lip and taped nose. “Tell me why we aren’t driving again? I know the Leslies can afford autmotives.”

“The train shaves an hour off our travel time,” Mark said. “Which I think is a waste of money, but our fearless leader made the call.”

He looked particularly moody, and not just because of the battered state of his face. There was a sheen of sweat at his widow-peaked hairline and he had a white-knuckle grip on his bag. For that matter, the rest of our troupe were in varied states of distress, each with hunched shoulders and scowls, and I began to suspect that werewolves did not like to ride the train.

My suspicions were confirmed when we reached the train car’s steps and Mark’s coloring had gone an alarming grey. Only Derrick seemed unperturbed by our situation, confidently handing out tickets and ushering wolves toward the waiting conductor. There were grunts and mutters from the group, but none of them made eye contact with Derrick as they passed.

 “Trust me, you would not have wanted to be stuck in an automotive for four hours with this bunch,” Derrick said as he reached me.

Eyeing the brown paper ticket he was holding out I said, “I don’t want to be with this bunch at all.”

His jaw flexed and he gave me a tolerant look. I thought about screaming, making an awful scene and calling humans to attention, but there was the rune stone in my hand and dammitall if I didn’t need him. And, if I was honest with myself, there was the matter of his mother to contend with. I couldn’t really walk away, not with the knowledge that another woman might be harmed in my stead.

Still, I wasn’t about to let him off the hook. The fact that he was a Constable and allowing this to happen was an unspeakable breach of trust.  I scowled and Derrick’s eyebrow rose in question. He opened his mouth to speak but I cut him off by snatching the ticket, marching to the conductor with angry strides that I hoped made my point for me.

The conductor smiled and it was only after a moment that I realized she was making eyes at Derrick, which was unprofessional to the extreme. Irritated, I kept going, trusting that the brute would be right behind me, and he was. He stayed on my heels as we entered the train and squeezed through the tight space.

My seat was beside Mark, who had already stowed his bag and was bouncing his knee so hard I feared his foot might go through the floor. By the time I was buckled and slouched against the annoyingly tight seat, Mark had discarded the emergency instruction pamphlet in favor of the barf bag. For a heart-stopping moment I thought he meant to use it right then, but he just clutched it in his hands and exhaled through his mouth.

I stared at him. “Really? We haven’t even left the station.”

“Shut up,” he said and closed his eyes.

His Adam’s apple bobbed heavy under his skin and I unbuckled. There was no way I was going to sit next to a motion-sick werewolf for however long this ride might be. Ignoring the hushed protests of fellow passengers, I made my way to Derrick, intent on making him switch seats with me. He looked up when I reached his aisle, concern and surprise on his face, and glanced back at where Mark was leaning over his bag.

Most of the passengers were loaded and I nodded at the seat beside Derrick; “Is anyone sitting here?”

“I wouldn’t…”

“I don’t care what you wouldn’t do, Mr. King,” I said and sat down. “I refuse to deal with Mark throwing up on me.”

Derrick cringed as I settled in. “I didn’t realize they would have such a bad reaction to the ride,” he said, but his gaze was fastened on my lap. “I really don’t think you want to sit there.”

“Of course, I don’t,” I said, lowering my voice a fraction. “We both know I have no desire to be sitting here at all.”

The conductor began welcoming everyone to the train and the car jostled into movement.  It was then that I realized something was wrong with my seat. I could feel a wetness under me, seeping into my pants, and when I looked back at Derrick he was openly cringing.

As calmly as I could, I met his gaze and asked; “Why is my seat wet?”

“I tried to warn you,” he said. “That’s supposed to be my seat, but I smelled it and shifted over.”

“Smelled… it?” I asked weakly, wishing for all the world that I had the sense of a werewolf. Then again, I’m not sure smelling it would have helped.

“I fear the previous passenger may have…”

I cut him off with a hand; “Don’t say it. Please don’t say it.”

He stopped talking and I closed my eyes, frozen for a full twenty seconds as reality pounded into me.

I was sitting in pee.

Skin crawling, I fumbled with my purse, desperate to get up, but the train accelerated, pushing me back. Derrick’s hand covered mine in an iron grip and he leaned over to murmur; “You can’t get up yet, you’ll hurt yourself.”

“You’re not the one sitting in pee,” I said through my teeth.

His fingers tightened on me and I met his gaze. There was a hint of laughter in his eyes and I glared up at him as he said; “I sympathize, I do. But you need to wait. We’ll get this sorted once we’re moving properly.”

“You think this is funny!”

He shrugged but didn’t deny the accusation. “I did try to warn you.”

“Try harder next time!” I snapped and then, because the cool wetness was soaking into my undergarments and I knew what it was, I gagged.

Derrick had the barf bag out and in my hands within seconds, but I wasn’t going to throw up. At least, I hoped I wasn’t.

There was the stomach-dropping moment when the whole train jerked into forward motion, and I nearly did utilize the bag, but after several seconds of breathing exercises I was able to gain a semblance of control. Derrick kept hold of me, keeping me seated in someone else’s pee as the train chugged faster, still jerking and jostling as it tried to reach its top speed.  

Several aisles behind us, I could hear Mark losing his breakfast into his barf bag and I shuddered. If sitting in urine wasn’t already gag-inducing, that sound was sure to get me, so I tried to distract myself with Derrick.

“Why aren’t you a nervous traveler?” I asked.

“Who says I’m not?”

I slanted a glare at him. “I don’t see you clutching a barf bag.”

He gave a shrug and glanced at the fasten seatbelt sign. “I suppose I’m just used to it,” he said. “I did have to travel to America.”

“Nothing can inoculate you better than several days on a boat?”

He smirked at me. “Something like that.”

There was a mellow ping and I realized the train was as smooth as it was going to get. Derrick released my hand and I unbuckled, ejecting from my seat with enough speed to knock into the headrest in front of me. Murmuring my apologies, I slipped into the aisle and hurried for the nearest restroom. I ignored passengers who glanced at me as I hurried by, including Mark who I thought might have been scowling but with the uncomfortable cooling sensation happening around my backside I couldn’t be bothered to care.

I ducked into the first restroom and locked myself in. It was difficult in the cramped space, but I managed to strip my skirts and underwear off and squished them against the corner with a toe. Splashing a bit of soap and water on a paper towel, I did my best to clean the offending area and tried desperately not to think about what stranger I was having such an intimate affair with. And then I realized I was half naked in a tiny train bathroom with nothing else to wear.

I was going to have to put the pee clothes back on.

Groaning in despair, I fell forward, letting my head rest against the mirror. “Why is this happening to me?”

There was a knock on the door and Derrick’s rumbling voice; “Nora?”

Feeling awkwardly exposed despite the closed door, I scowled. “This is all your fault.”

“Yes, you’ve made me quite aware of that,” he said. “Could you open the door?”

I glanced down at my bare legs and snorted an unladylike laugh; “Not on your life.”

There was a beat and then; “I have some clean clothes, if you’re interested.”

“I couldn’t possibly fit in any of your things,” I said, which was an insane argument because what else was I going to do?

“Well, no,” Derrick said, and I could imagine him leaning into the door because his voice was easier to hear. “But I sent the lads to get some things from your home before we left so these should definitely fit.”

I sat stunned for a second, half furious that a group of wolves invaded my home and rifled through my private life. The other half of me was staring at pee-soaked skirts, shivering because it was blasted cold in the little room. And there was something else too, a niggling in my gut that might have been guilt.

Derrick didn’t want to be in this situation any more than I did, but he’d taken the time to see to my comfort, even with all my snark and sniping. Granted, I would have preferred if he’d been the one to gather my things. The very idea of Mark poking around my underwear drawer was enough to make me want to punch him in the nose.

Practicality won in the end.

I unlocked the door and opened it just enough to squeeze one hand through. I felt my clothes thrust at me and yanked it all inside, latching the lock once more. Since my blouse still had coffee stains on the sleeve – curse that ivory color, it always does this to me – I was pleased to find that Derrick had included a shirt. Even if that shirt was plain blue cotton that did not at all match the black skirt he’d delivered, at least it was clean and stain free.

Getting dressed inside a train car restroom was a unique challenge. I managed to stub my big toe twice, bash my head against the sink and then the opposite wall like a pinball, and ram my elbow into the toilet-paper dispenser so hard I lost feeling in my fingers. I’m quite certain I heard concerned murmurs outside but ignored it in favor of locating my boots. These at least were easy to put on, sliding up and over my ankles with their faux-fur fringe.

I looked ridiculous but urine-free, so I counted it a win and opened the door.

Derrick was there, his expression highly amused, and I glared at him because that seemed to be my default today.

“I don’t even care how stupid I look,” I told him. “I’m dry and that’s what counts.”

“You’ll get no argument from me,” he said and held out a paper bag. “I didn’t imagine you’d want to touch them again until they were washed.”

Realizing he meant my discarded clothes, I glanced back into the restroom. Of course my purple-polka dot underwear would be right on top and I cringed, feeling the flush as it raced up my neck to bloom in my face. It did not escape me that he’d already handled my clean underwear, which sported turquoise hearts and a frilly waistline, but somehow this was worse. I could dissect the reasons for that later, though.

“I thought we’d just burn them,” I said.

Derrick snorted a laugh. “They frown on burning things when the train is in motion.”

“Drat,” I said and took the paper bag.

I managed to get the soiled garments into the bag and rolled the top securely. When I turned back around, Derrick was still there. He flashed a faint smile and reached for the bag, which I was more than willing to part with.

The train dipped left and shuddered. I stumbled and might have bashed my head again if Derrick hadn’t grabbed me. His hands clasped my elbows, drawing me close enough I could feel his breath on my cheek. My eyes fastened on the hallow of his throat and I was washed in the scent of fresh detergent and soap. I hiccupped a breath, stiffening because some part of me wanted to lean into him, to feel if he was as solid to the touch as he appeared.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

My hand was on his side and yes, he was solid. I withdrew, flustered.

“Nora?”

“Yes, fine, just,” I scrambled for an apology but what came out was; “You smell good. I hadn’t expected…”

“For wolves to bathe?” he asked, with no small amount of amusement.

Mortified at my own words, I opened my mouth to apologize again, but hadn’t I just proven I couldn’t trust myself? I shut my mouth and pivoted away, praying I could make it through the rest of the trip without saying anything more. Just to be safe, I sat beside Mark and kept my eyes on my folded hands as Derrick went back to his seat.  

Maker help me, I needed to get home.  

Check out some excerpts from my fellow authors!

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ ( YOU ARE HERE )
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1GK
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com



Verisimilitude – June Round Robin

To be honest, I use the events of every day happenings in my novels all the time. I thrust unfortunate events like locking one’s keys in the ignition or stabbing one’s hand onto my characters because I find it endlessly entertaining and because it helps unite the reader to my character.

Maybe you’ve never stabbed your hand, but I bet you’ve lost your keys once or twice. Things like this help make the story real. And since I write a lot of science fiction/fantasy, the more I can make people feel like it could be real, the better.

Bigger life events I shy away from. Instead, I allow these life events to help inform my fiction instead of framing it. My mother is still, thankfully, alive, and I hope she remains so for many years to come. But I have a novel where the main character’s mother recently died.

There is the age-old adage to only write what you know, but I find this mostly an excuse not to sit back and unpack the issue with any real depth.

No, I have not lost my mother.

But I know grief. I’ve lived through losses. And while it is not exactly the same, there is a vein of similarity that can be used in my fiction.

Perhaps I will write a novel full of self-reference one day, but I’ll be honest and assure you that I will never admit it.

See what my fellow authors have to say about life events mirrored in their fiction in this month’s round robin conversation.

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1Dm
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Dear Reader… (May 2019 Round Robin)

Dear Reader,

If you’ve picked up one my novels I hope you are either enjoying it, or loved it so much you have long since finished reading. I understand not every novel is going to be loved by the people who pick it up, but I hope that somewhere in the journey I touched on something familiar.

If you’ve read any of my works, then from my marrow of my bones I hope you walked away with a few things. I hope Trenna’s struggle to balance being a warrior, a wife, and a mother left you feeling capable of doing the same. Just as I hope the love Nelek has for Trenna reminds you that you don’t have to compromise who you are to be loved fully.

If you haven’t read Trenna and Nelek’s journey, they star in the Sedition series put out by Wings ePress.

Jorry and Seach in the Tapped series echo this sort of relationship, where both are soldiers and neither must cow to the other in order to be valued. There’s more to come in that series, but I hope beyond all measure that this story opens a conversation about faith for you. There is a difference between religion and faith, one I have not fully answered for myself yet, but perhaps we can discover it together.

Deviation was a difficult book for me on many levels. It is my hope that if you read it, you walk away with a belief in redemption. Reesa Zimmerman’s struggle to forgive herself touched me in a way I can’t fully articulate, and while there are no further novels planned for her, in my mind I have great hopes for her “happily-ever-after.”

No other character has stuck with me as long as Persona’s Megan Shepherd. I started her story when I was barely twenty and it took a decade before I could complete it. If I could tell you one thing about that novel that always inspires me, it’s how gentle and strong Megan is. Gentleness is the ultimate sign of strength.

The Haunting of Tessa Pines is a love story and a mental health story all in one. It isn’t scheduled for release yet, but when it comes time I will certainly let you know. Without giving any spoilers, I hope readers walk away from this one understanding that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

And finally, The Melody of Bones, which is in its final stages of the drafting process… When you guys finally get a peek at this one, I hope anyone who has ever been broken by a relationship walks away from this book with the realization that they are dragons in human skin, far stronger than even they can fathom.

Thank you, dear Reader, for sharing these worlds with me. You are precious beyond measure to this Writer.

Yours Sincerely,

Aimee

P.S. Check out what my fellow authors want you to know about their works…

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1BC
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Love and Relationships – February 2019 Round Robin

Not to sound too much like a prude but I blushed my way through my first intimate scene. All I could think was that my mother was going to read this and the next time I see her there will be that long, awkward moment when she tells me she liked the book and then won’t look me in the face.

Which is probably why that scene lasted all of two paragraphs in Sedition. The sequel had a much longer scene, but after Saboteur I came to a place in my writing where I recognized that as much as I enjoy love stories, I did not enjoy explaining what 100% of the adult reading public already knows how to do.

Granted, there is a HUGE market where authors are making bank on steamy scenes. I even read some of them.

Are there boundaries I think shouldn’t be crossed in writing?

Well… That depends on if you’re asking professional-writer-me or happy-reader-me.

Professional-writer-me understands that the moment we censure fiction is the moment we’ve crossed into someone’s freedom. That said, there are things that even romance publishers express as tasteless and wrong, and I agree with them.

Because I don’t want to trigger anyone who may have suffered from trauma, I will leave it at that.

Happy-reader-me skips over steamy scenes.

I just do.

It’s nothing against the writing. If I’ve made it to that scene, it means the relationship in the novel has progressed enough and engaged me enough to keep me going. The steamy-scene is just sort of… obligatory?

I also do not enjoy writing the typical romance novel where strangers meet and grow into lovers. This is probably because I have a general fear of meeting new people – Introverts Unite! – and all my experiences have been full of anxiety and paranoia.

BUT…

I am a romantic.

My stories are full of characters who love each other, but it is a love that has grown naturally over the course of the story . And honestly, I am more interested in seeing how that love defines the lives of the characters and shapes who they are both as a couple and as individuals.

I like stories about marriages.

Nelek and Trenna, who star in the Sedition Series, are a marriage.

In the Tapped series, Seach and Jorry grew into a romance after many years together.

Cordon and Tessa, who will be in my upcoming novel The Soul Between Us, were married young but military/life pulled them apart. Their story is about mending a bridge.

So where does that leave me in the romance/relationship aspect of storytelling?

I want my readers to love how my characters love each other, and that goes beyond the bedroom. It goes into the sacrifices they make for the other person, the decisions they make as a team, and ultimately the story they have to tell.

I can pretty much guarantee that my intimate scenes will fade to black. They exist because intimacy is a part of every relationship, and without it there would be some serious alarm bells going on for every marriage counselor out there, but sometimes even fictional characters deserve some privacy.

See what my fellow authors have to say about relationships in fiction…

Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1vP
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Near The End

There’s a moment in every book where you’re so close to the end you can taste it and suddenly you lose all talent you ever possessed.

Poof!

Gone in an instant.

Or at least, this is what happens to me. It’s different for every writer, but it seems universal that we all come to a point where we realize what hacks we are.

The tension isn’t there. The characters are flat. The setting is nonexistent and we’ve discovered a love of one word that keeps repeating itself every other sentence.

Mine is the word ‘just’ if you’re wondering. He just managed to catch it. She just loved him. If she could just stop using the word just she might be capable of writing something worth reading.

I digress.

My moment of self-loathing always comes near the end of the novel. I’m sure there’s some psychology behind this, like I don’t want the story to end because I’ve spent so many hours commiserating with these characters that I just (see?) can’t let them go.

Or this is when my self-doubt rears its head because the next phase in this process (after editing) is querying and sweet holy banana’s on toast, how I hate querying.

Whatever the reasons, it’s there. And it’s a bear to get through. But if you’re a writer out there and you identify with anything I’ve said in this post, then allow me to stand in solidarity with you.

It sucks, but you’re not alone. Take a deep breath. Eat some ice cream. And let’s get back to work.

Wherein I Forecast 2019 (Writing-wise, of course)

Last week I noted the things that I managed to complete in 2018 – which was a lot and I’m still patting myself on the back for a good year. I recognize that only die-hard fans really care about this stuff, and for those of you out there who count yourselves among this rare breed of reader, let it be known that I love you all and pray you never change.

For those who watch the blog for the writing class updates and other content, this might not be the post for you. And that’s OK!

If, for reasons neither of us can fully explain, the idea of peeking inside an author’s deadline calendar entices you, then I fully welcome you to read on. Otherwise, this is mostly to keep my head on straight through the year.

So, what do I want to accomplish in 2019?

  • A short story every month. These stories will vary in theme and substance and, hopefully, will find their way into the market. Others may find their way onto this site for FREE content.
  • 2nd and 3rd drafts of The Castle of Three Kings completed. And then, of course, start submitting this MG/YA story to places.
  • 2nd and 3rd drafts of The 13th Month completed. Also with the submission process in full swing.
  • Record Enemy Souls into audio to be released in segments for FREE. The hard copy will be available for sale if people don’t want to wait a week to find out what happens.
  • Release the Fact vs. Fiction edition of Tapped at the same time as Enemy Souls.
  • Inmate rough draft. (Camp Nano)
  • Warpath rough draft. (Nano)
  • City of Cemeteries rough draft.

I am sure I’ll get sidetracked by something and replace stuff and/or scrap a project, but for now I’m sticking with this list. I look forward to seeing how much of this I can get done and I hope everyone else has fun in the coming year.