The middle of the night

Lately, I’ve been getting up in the middle of the night to write. I don’t mean that I’ve been setting an alarm or anything like that. I just wake up. For a few nights, I forced myself to stay in bed with my eyes closed, hoping that sleep would come.

It didn’t.

Instead of sleep, all I could think about was this new idea I’ve been working on (something different than The Soul’s Mark). So finally, I decided to get up. I just had to get the ideas out of my head.

See, the thing is, for the last few years I’ve been a day person. I like having a schedule: get up, go out, work, write, read, sleep … I like organization and plans. That’s why I create 20 + outlines for each book I write. For me, organization is the key.

But … I love what I’ve come up with in the wee hours of the morning, and I’m starting to think that there just might be something to this staying up all night thing.

What about you, guys … do you have a favorite time to read/write? Have you woken up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep until you did whatever it was that woke you up? Let me know. 🙂

Description: How much is too much?

Recently, I received an email from an aspiring author seeking guidance on descriptions. Her question to me was how much is too much? So I’m going to try to answer that question today.

One of the first things you learn when you start to write is show, don’t tell. I think the easiest way to explain this rule is by comparing a movie to a book. In a movie, we are told what to think. We see it on the screen, there’s really no room to dream up what the hunky hero looks like, or the house, or the school.

But in a book … well, that’s an entirely different world. As a writer, you get to create everything. You get to set the location, dream up the characters, explore their emotions … really the sky is the limit. But, while you are doing it, you need to remember, show, don’t tell.

Readers do not want to be told he was angry, they want to see it. Did he ball his fists into white knuckled rocks? Did his jaw twitch? Did his neck flush red? His cheeks? Little descriptions can make a huge difference in how a reader visualizes the scene.

But … how much is too much? Stephen King says: “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

So what does this mean? Well, simply, it means that when you are describing things leave pieces out. For example, maybe you are describing a house. Give us the color of the exterior, describe the entrance. Is there a picket fence? What about the little garden in front? But leave something out, like maybe the color and shape of the roof. Let the reader envision the missing pieces. Let them make the house their own in some way.

As an author, I know how easy it is to get carried away with description, but as an avid reader, I also know how frustrating this can be when it happens. When reading, one of my biggest pet peeves is when an author goes overboard in the description area, and essentially buries the actual story in fluff or gives so much detail that there is no room for my imagination to come up with anything.

The key is, knowing when it’s enough. Use all of your senses, but it’s not necessary to use them all at the same time. Give bits and pieces throughout the scene. Description overload can easily happen when you try to put all the pieces in one paragraph. Start the image, and then continue with it through the scene, dropping little morose as you go. Give your reader enough to spark their own imagination without leaving them in a tunnel, or boring them with so much at once that they lose the story all together.

The Soul’s Mark: BROKEN Excerpt

As promised, here is the excerpt from The Soul’s Mark: BROKEN. I hope you all enjoy it. 🙂

Happy Reading!

The Soul’s Mark: BROKEN
Book 3 of The Soul’s Mark Series
by Ashley Stoyanoff

CHAPTER 1
The steam curled around him, fogging the frosted glass shower enclosure. The hot water poured over Mitchell, soothing his taut muscles and washing away the tension and stress from earlier that evening. He let out a deep sigh before he turned the taps again, letting the water run even hotter. He knew Amelia liked it to be blistering, and he wanted to make sure it was perfect. She needed perfect. Deserved it.
Amelia. Just the sound of her name floating through his head made him smile and his skin buzz with anticipation. He couldn’t believe how amazing she had been tonight. How strong. The way she had fought. The way she had confronted that skeleton freak hunter. It was a little mind-blowing. Wasn’t it just yesterday that she had found out he was a vampire and accidently locked herself in her bedroom?
Mitchell let his mind wander; counting the days since she had arrived. Eight months? No, that couldn’t be right. He counted again, and then again, just to be sure.
Mitchell reached for the bottle of shampoo. He had already shampooed his hair three times while he waited for Amelia, but he figured that if he stalled long enough, she would come in. He lathered up, rinsed, and waited. And waited. And waited.
His stomach was in knots, his nerves shot. And as he waited, all the what ifs began to eat away at him. What if she had a change of heart? What if she didn’t find him appealing anymore? What if she wanted to move on?
Mitchell was just about to search through the bond when he heard the bathroom door squeak open. His heart jumped around in his chest like a rabbit running a marathon, and he flung the glass door open so quickly he was close to ripping it off the hinges.
“Dude,” Eric yelled. “Cover up, would you?” He shielded his eyes and turned his head away.
“Get out, Eric,” Mitchell said. He tried to sound annoyed, but he failed miserably, as an awkward laugh fell out. He flushed, and grabbed the shower stall door, pulling it closed.
Through the frosted glass, Mitchell saw Eric’s shuffling form, facing the bathroom door, his hands still shielding his eyes. “I’m just looking for Meg,” he said, his voice squeaking over the words.
Mitchell glanced at the waterfall that sprang from the showerhead, and sighed before turning it off. He reached out for a towel, and wrapped it snuggly around his waist. “In my bathroom?” he asked.
“Are you decent yet?” Eric asked, shuffling back and forth uncomfortably.
Mitchell laughed, and he felt his skin flush again, red with embarrassment. “Yeah,” he replied, his voice a little strained.
Eric turned around slowly, his hands still covering his eyes. He spread his fingers to peek, as if he wasn’t entirely sure if he should look or not, and then sighed in relief when he saw the towel and dropped his hands. “I thought maybe she was in here with Millie.”
Mitchell wanted to point out how ridiculous that sounded but held back. Instead, he said, “Did you try looking for her?”
“Isn’t that obvious?” Eric said. He waved his arms around him and rolled his eyes. He fiddled anxiously, wringing his hands together and shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
“I meant through the bond.” Mitchell eyed Eric, taking in his gray jogging pants and hoodie, which was on backwards, the hood pushing against his chin. There was a pinprick of red flaring in the center of his panicked green eyes, and his hair wasn’t in the usual perfect mess—it was just plain messy. Mitchell’s stomach sank.
The pinprick of red grew to the size of a darning needle. “Oh, uh, yeah,” Eric said, and scrubbed at his face. He couldn’t seem to stand still, shifting his weight from one foot to the other and the dot of red in his eyes kept spreading, washing the normal vibrate green with crimson. “It’s like she’s sleeping. I can’t pinpoint a location.” He looked Mitchell full in the face. “Where’s Millie?”
“She’s supposed to be here,” Mitchell replied, his voice cracking on the words. He searched the bond frantically, and his stomach sank further. The hum of an unconscious brain was the only trace of Amelia he could find. His chest tightened, caving in, and all the air rushed from his lungs.
“You don’t think that they left us, do you?” Eric asked. The panic he had been trying to cover showed itself with a slight tremor in his voice, and he rang his hands together again.
All the what ifs came back with a vengeance, and suddenly Mitchell couldn’t breathe. He felt cold; a chill rushed over his skin, and his heart felt as if it had exploded within his chest. “Go get Luke,” he whispered, gripping at the pain in his chest.
“Dad.” Eric took a step towards him. He looked so lost, so scared. His blazing eyes were wide as saucers and glistening with tears. Mitchell wanted to comfort him, tell him everything was okay—the girls were okay—but he couldn’t. The words were there, he could taste them in his mouth, and they tasted like dirty lies. Mitchell knew Amelia might leave, but Megan, not a chance. He was certain of it. She was love struck, totally smitten for Eric. And knowing that made his stomach twist into painfully tight knots, because if Megan was gone, he was certain that it was not by choice.
Heat rushed over his body and his muscles tensed. “Go!” Mitchell bellowed, and just like that, Eric was gone.
Mitchell ran to the closet, and quickly began searching for his clothes, which was no easy task. Where did she put my stuff? he thought as he spun around inside the huge walk-in closet. With every beat of his heart, it shattered again, like shards of glass pulsing under his skin. Tears snaked down his cheeks and burned at his eyes. He dug through the racks upon racks of dresses, blouses, skirts, women’s jeans… before finally stumbling upon a shelf of his clothes at the back of the closet. He grabbed the first things that touched his fingers, shed his towel, and began pulling on a t-shirt.
“What’s going on?” Luke asked groggily from behind him, just as Mitchell buttoned up his jeans. He wore a pair of red and green checkered pajama pants, no shirt, and he looked dazed, as if Eric had woken him from a deep sleep.
“We can’t find the girls,” Mitchell said. He spun around and emerged from the closet.
Luke narrowed his hazel eyes, looking him over, and the color slowly drained from his face. “Did you check the media room?” he asked after a moment, looking towards the ceiling. “The television’s on.”
“That was me,” Eric said. “Meg and I were going to watch a movie. She said she needed Advil and went to the kitchen but never came back.”
“Amelia needed Advil,” Mitchell murmured. His chest squeezed. He tried to tell himself it was just a coincidence. The girls probably got a few bruises during the fight. But his subconscious wouldn’t have it. She left, he thought. And somehow she had convinced Megan to go with her. He knew it was only a matter of time before she would. He had never believed for a second that she would stay with him, but he’d be lying if he said he hadn’t hoped she would.
“They wouldn’t leave, so stop thinking it,” Luke said firmly, but Mitchell didn’t miss the doubt in his voice. Luke had never believed that Amelia would stick around and he had never kept his thoughts a secret, at least, not from Mitchell.
Mitchell closed his eyes. Amelia? he called, desperately through the bond. Amelia, love, please talk to me. Tell me you’re okay.
The only response was the buzz of a sleeping brain. But that didn’t make an ounce of sense. It was in that moment that a new, gut wrenching, fear rushed through him and for a split second, his brain actually started to work. If Amelia had left, she wouldn’t have stopped to sleep. Not this soon. She’d be running, putting as much distance between them as possible.
Mitchell’s eyes snapped open and he stretched his senses to their outer limits, listening for anything out of the ordinary. He took in a lungful of air and caught a scent. His fangs extended, sharp as knifes. “Do you smell that?”
Luke cleared his throat, and Mitchell cut him a look. Luke paled under his gaze. “Um, Lola and I…” Luke said, wiping at his mouth and looking uncomfortable, “Err…We had um…company.”
“You what?” Mitchell growled, and then physically shook himself, trying to get of rid the disgust that was flooding over him. He scrubbed at his burning eyes, and wiped his dampened cheeks and focused on the scent again. Floral with an underlying sweetness. “It’s Amelia’s.”
Mitchell was already running before the words completely left his mouth. He couldn’t think. The only thing that ran through his mind was the scent of blood—her blood—and if he thought about it… He pushed the idea out of his mind as quickly as he could, but it wasn’t fast enough. Before he could banish it away, an image of Amelia lying motionless on the ground flooded his vision.
He ran through the house, trying to find the source of the scent. It became stronger as he reached the foyer. He stopped, spun around in circles, and breathed it in.
His heart was racing. A cold sweat beaded along his forehead, and his back became damper by the second.
“Out here,” Eric called. The motion light flicked on, and Mitchell bolted for the door.
The blood drop was the size of a penny, just a tiny drop. The three of them hovered over it, staring down at the glistening scarlet droplet as if they were hypnotized, not able to look away.
Luke was the first to speak, asking the question that shouldn’t have needed to be asked. “Did the girls put the protection shield back up?”
Mitchell and Eric locked crimson eyes and in unison replied, “No.”

CHAPTER 2

The first thing that Amelia saw when she opened her eyes was her body lying in a crumpled heap below her. “Crap,” she breathed, as she scrutinized herself. “No, no, no,” she whispered, shaking her head violently from side to side. “I can’t be dead. I just can’t be.” And if I’m dead then Mitchell… she couldn’t finish that thought, just couldn’t.

Her body rolled, seemingly on its own, smacking against a metal wall with a thud that reverberated around her.

“Cole!” Josh’s voice growled from somewhere nearby, but Amelia couldn’t pull her eyes away from her lifeless looking form on the ground. “Secure them!”

“Amelia, what’s happening?” Megan’s small, scared voice smothered Amelia, suffocating her, and it felt as if she was drowning in the sound. “Are we dead? Did they kill us?”

Amelia couldn’t make her mouth work. She wanted to reassure Megan. She wanted so much to tell her that they were okay, but she just couldn’t. There were no words, no thoughts, nothing that could make this okay.

Cole materialized in Amelia’s line of vision, and he began straightening her legs, and moving her body around until she was lying flat on her back. For a fleeting moment, he was gone, but then there he was again, lying Megan down beside her. He rolled what appeared to be an old wool blanket up and lifted their heads, placing the bundle underneath them as a makeshift pillow. He wrapped them snuggly together in another itchy looking blanket before whispering, “I’m so sorry, Megs.” He bent and brushed his lips against her cheek and then vanished again.

Why would Josh care if we rolled around? Amelia wondered. If we’re dead…

Megan stepped beside her, threading her arm through Amelia’s, which to her utter surprise felt strong and stable and solid. She narrowed her eyes further, studying their bodies closely. She fixed her eyes on their chests, waiting forever (or at least that’s how it felt) for them to rise and fill with air, but it didn’t come.

“You’ll both be fine,” a lilting voice reassured from behind Amelia. “Sorry about the dramatics, but this is the safest way to talk to you.”

The sound of a familiar voice filled her with an agonizing mix of fear and delight all at once. “Madame Crystal?” Amelia spun around to see the clairvoyant witch, who had helped her—and came close to ruining her life—not so long ago, floating a short distance away from her face. Her knee-length jet-black hair swayed around her as if there was a breeze that only reached her. Tiny laugh lines littered the corners of her almost completely black eyes that held just a touch of violet around the pupils.

“Hi, Amelia,” she said with a big white smile. “It’s nice to see you again.”

Amelia gaped at her for a moment before she lunged forwards and threw her arms around the psychic, crushing Madame Crystal in a fierce hug. Madame Crystal laughed, a singsong kind of sound, and squeezed her back just as fiercely.

Megan cleared her throat loudly. “Sorry to break up this little reunion, but seriously, I think the whole us being dead thing is a bit more important here.” Her voice squeaked, a high-pitched squeal, on the last word that sounded like nails on a chalkboard.

Amelia’s eyes flitted over her lifeless body again and then she buried her face in Madame Crystal’s shoulder. This can’t be happening, she thought over and over. We can’t be dead. Because if they were dead then that meant Madame Crystal was dead, and most likely her entire family was dead, and that was something that Amelia couldn’t believe—wouldn’t consider.

“You’re not dead, dear,” Madame Crystal said. She gave Amelia another squeeze and then stepped back, grinning widely. “As I said, this was the safest way to talk to you guys.”

Amelia’s jaw dropped and her forehead scrunched. Not dead? She opened her mouth to demand an explanation, because seriously, their spirits were floating over their bodies and they looked…dead. Megan made a frustrated sound somewhere between a grunt and a growl, stopping Amelia’s before she couldn’t blurt out her questions. Megan’s lips were a thin line of annoyance, and she glared daggers at Madame Crystal. She drummed her fingers on her hips, and her eyes narrowed to little slits.

“Meg, stop it,” Amelia said, watching her cousin’s reaction. “She’s a psychic and a witch, and she is my friend.” Amelia held the glare until Megan backed down, and then she turned back to Madame Crystal. The psychic was grinning widely. It seemed so out of place and wrong. But the grin sparked Amelia’s curiosity. “How are you doing this?” she asked.

“Magic,” she replied with a twinkle in her eyes. “And with a little help from your mother.” The twinkle fizzled away as if a candle had suddenly been put out, and her face darkened. “There’s someone working with the hunters. He’s manipulating them, working them like puppets.” She raised her hands, her fingers dancing through the air as if she was working the strings of a marionette.

“Who?” Amelia asked. Or maybe the better question was what. The hunters, Cole and Josh specifically, were strong. They had easily squashed her attempts at using magic against them and the thought that someone, or something, was actually controlling them sent shivers rushing over her skin.

“I don’t know,” Madame Crystal said with a small shake of her head. “My visions only stretch so far, and he is masking my attempts. It’s like he knows someone is watching.” A small shiver visibly ran through her, and her eyes hardened. “I’ve almost reached Mitchell. I’m going to lead him to you, so be ready. That is, if I can tell him where you are before he kills me for helping you the last time.”

“What do you mean ‘the last time?’” Megan asked, but it came out as more of a challenge than a question. And with a sideways glance, Amelia quickly noticed Megan’s tense and freaked out stance.

“It’s kind of a long story, Meg, but she helped me block Mitchell’s connection to me when I first met him,” Amelia said, dismissively hoping Megan would relax a bit as she tried to work through what was going on. A thought dawned on her then. “Wait a minute,” Amelia said, as her eyes widened and her heart tightened. “My mother is helping you? You know my mother?”

“Amelia, focus,” Madame Crystal said, clasping her face in her hands, forcing her to pay attention and listen. “The one that is behind all of this is waiting for you. You need to be prepared. Whatever you do, do not harm the hybrids. You need their alliance to save the ones you love.”

Amelia knew Madame Crystal was talking. She could see her lips moving, she could even hear the soft lilting notes of her voice, but the only thing her brain registered was ‘a little help from your mother.’ It wasn’t often that Amelia was left speechless, but right now she was. It wasn’t that she didn’t have words she wanted to say. She did. The problem was they were all fighting to get out at once, getting all jumbled up together and lodged in her mouth.

“They want to kill the ones we love!” Megan shouted, snapping Amelia out of her stupor.

Madame Crystal let her hands fall from Amelia’s cheeks. She smiled and shrugged, just a small lift of the shoulders. “True, but in time they will see that you all share a common enemy.”

“I see you still like to talk in stupid riddles,” Amelia said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. She crossed her arms over her chest, trying to look annoyed, but she was pretty sure she wasn’t fooling anyone.

“I have a message from your mother,” Madame Crystal said, choosing to ignore Amelia’s saucy tone. Her smile vanished, replaced by a look that Amelia thought was far too serious and for a second, her heart stopped beating. “Your choices from your past lifetimes are coming to a head. It is now time to pick which path of destiny you will follow. Choose wisely because your choice in this lifetime can end the cycle.”

“What are you talking about?” Amelia scoffed and began nervously twisting a long curl of her hair around her finger. “What cycle? What choices?” And why can’t you just speak like a normal person?

“You already know,” Madame Crystal said, her voice floating through the air as her body began to flicker.

“Wait! Why does Josh think my destiny is to be with him?” Amelia asked frantically, but the psychic was already gone.

Megan’s jaw dropped, literally, and Amelia was sure her own expression looked just as stunned. What was all of that supposed to mean? her nagging brain questioned. And what does my mother have to do with this?

“Was that supposed to be helpful?” Megan asked. “And how are we supposed to get back into…” Megan’s words fell short, and were replaced by a gasping screech.

Suddenly, Amelia felt as if she was being sucked up by a vacuum. It started slow, a small pull at her toes, and she watched her floating frame stretch towards her body. As soon as her virtual toes touched her real ones, the suction increased, pulling at her from all sides as it tried to make her one with herself.

The twisting and distortion seemed to last for hours, and when the last pull came, it was jarring enough to snap her spirit back in place. Megan groaned beside her and whispered, “That was so not cool.”

“Really?” Amelia whispered, shifting slightly so she could see Megan beside her, because honestly, she thought it was awesome, and whatever Madame Crystal had done was now close to the top of her list of witchy things she wanted to learn. Megan rolled her eyes.

Amelia had been right. The blanket was horribly itchy, and Cole had tucked them together so tightly that she could hardly move. She began squirming around, trying to loosen the blanket and wiggled her way out of the cocoon of skin-crawling, itchy wool.

Once she was out, she ripped the blanket off Megan while surveying their situation under the dim fluorescent lighting. They were in some kind of commercial van. There was a small closed door at the front that led to the cab, and she could hear the muted voices of Cole and Josh from behind it.

Amelia turned around; looking for anything they could use to get out. It was empty, aside from them, a few blankets, and a small stack of weaponry. She went straight for the weapons, and was sadly disappointed. Arrows with no bows, guns with no bullets.

“Maybe we could use the arrows like knives?” Megan asked in a hushed tone.

“Maybe,” Amelia agreed, and then her voice quivered as she noticed the silence in her mind. There was no hum, no thoughts, no vibrations. Just deafening silence. “Meg, I can’t feel Mitchell.”

“He’s fine, Millie,” Megan said in a reassuring tone. She ran her fingers along the metallic wall of the van. Sparks ignited everywhere she touched. “They’ve spelled the vehicle. They’re trying to block the connection. He’s fine.” The conviction in her voice didn’t help as much as Amelia would have liked.

Tears pricked at her eyelids and Amelia squeezed her eyes shut. Every breath she took hurt. It was as if the air had sprouted knives as it entered her throat and they sliced gashes all the way down to her lungs. Megan touched her shoulder, just a soft, tentative hand, but it was enough, and Amelia shook off all the questions and fears that were flooding through her body and trying to drown her.

“Let’s try to blast off the door,” Amelia said. She didn’t miss the uncertainty in her own voice but she tried to ignore it, rolling to her feet and inspecting the back doors of the van. There were no levers to open it from the inside and no windows. She was trapped in a box, and it felt as if the walls were closing in, the air was getting thicker and thicker, and her chest began to squeeze tight.

“Wait. Who was that women? And how did she do all that?” Megan looked scared, confused, and small, and Amelia didn’t really know what to say. She didn’t have the answers. She didn’t know, and right now, the only things she could think about were the closing walls and the tight air and…

“It’s a long story, Meg,” Amelia said, her voice raspy, and she tried to picture herself in a wide-open field with lots of air and no walls. It wasn’t working. The claustrophobia threatened to consume her. “Just help me,” she blurted, ready to start clawing at the walls. “I’ll explain later. We have to get back before she gets there.”

“Why?” Megan snapped, frustrated. As soon as the question was out of her mouth, her cheeks flared and she quickly rushed on. “Not that I don’t want to go home but…”

“She won’t be welcome,” Amelia said between gasps of the horribly thick and suffocating air.

Thankfully, Megan nodded and bit her tongue, but Amelia could clearly see the questions burning in her eyes—questions that she knew she didn’t have answers to. She forced those questions out of her mind, and she called upon her magic. It sparked up, licking at her fingertips like a happy little puppy overjoyed to get attention.

Megan stepped beside her, releasing a sigh. Amelia grinned. She knew exactly what Megan was feeling—ecstasy. The magic heated their veins, warmed their flesh, and swirled around them in a delirious heart-racing kind of sensation.

“I’m ready when you are,” Megan breathed, her voice raspy.

“Be ready to jump as soon as it’s open,” Amelia said. She gathered up every ounce of power she had into the palm of her hand. She pulled her arm back, readying herself to throw the bolt like a baseball. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Megan mimic her motion. “On three,” she said, and Megan nodded her understanding. “One, two, three.”

They launched their spheres on three, and for a second, it was mind-blowing. The magic raced through the air like fireworks, lighting the dimly lit van in a glorious burst of lights and colors.

Amelia was tossed back. She smashed her head against the small door at the front of the van with breath-taking force. White light shot at her from all directions—blinding and scolding. Megan crashed into her with a shriek.

The van lurched to a tire squealing stop, and the back doors screeched as they were ripped open. Shadows emerged from the blinding light and steam that was clouding the van, and then suddenly, a strong set of arms was lifting Amelia, cradling her against a muscled chest.

She tried to struggle and kick, but it was useless. She glared up into the laughing gray eyes that gazed down at her. “Put me down, Josh.”

Josh’s grin widened to a cocky looking smile. He hopped down to the ground and set her on her feet outside the smoking van. She stumbled, and dizziness rushed over her in waves of hot and cold. She grabbed onto Josh’s arm out of instinct, trying to keep herself standing. He took a firm hold on her arm, keeping her upright, and then he winked and said, “Look who’s getting all grabby this time.”

Amelia couldn’t come up with a clever comeback, so instead she just glared at him, and he laughed. Cole emerged from the cloud of smoky steam with Megan in tow, who was growling something unintelligible while struggling to get out of his grip.

“Megs, you blew up my van,” Cole yelled as he swung her around to face him. “Do you really hate me this much? I’m not going to hurt you.”

Megan spat in his face. “No, you’ll just kill my soulmate.”

In a lightning fast motion, Cole raised his hand as if he was going to strike Megan. Amelia didn’t think, she just reacted, conjuring her energy, and launching everything she had at him. It hit him square on, and he stumbled back; unfortunately, he held Megan so firmly that she stumbled with him.

Josh spun on Amelia, grabbed her by the shoulders, and pinned her against a tree at the side of the road. “Do that again, and I’ll keep you subdued. Is that what you want?” he asked with a lethal undertone that made her bones quiver.

“He was going to hit her,” Amelia said meekly, averting her eyes to the ground. His skin was beginning to shudder and change and her body trembled even more. This close to him, it was hard to hide the nerves that were jumping all over her skin, and her knees began to shake.

Josh took a long and loud breath. He dropped a hand from her shoulder and tipped her chin up to meet his eyes. “I can’t keep you safe if you’re going to freak out and attack him.”

“You keep me safe?” Amelia asked, stunned. The idea was ludicrous. It broke through her fear, and she couldn’t hold in the snarky tone that coated her next words. “News flash, you’re the one that’s putting me in danger.”

“I’m trying to save you!” he shouted, shaking her as if he thought it would knock some sense into her.

The motion only fueled Amelia’s anger. “You kidnapped me!”

He narrowed his eyes, and another shudder rushed over his skin. His voice was barely audible when he spoke, and it held a nerve-racking intensity. “I have orders to bring you in. Not her. You. So if you want her to make it, you’d better not do anything like that again.”

Amelia opened her mouth to blurt out a bunch of questions, but he quickly clamped his hand over it, silencing her. He called over his shoulder for Cole to follow. Cole nodded and scooped Megan, who was clawing frantically at his feet, up from the ground, and placed a hand on her forehead. Then, just like that, she went out cold. Cole slung her over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. Josh gave Amelia a long warning look and then began dragging her through the trees.

Josh was the leader. Amelia was dragged along behind him for a good twenty minutes, and the whole way she hoped that Mitchell was watching and tracking her movements, because, well, her brain had turned to mush, and she couldn’t figure out how she was going to get out of this mess. Somehow, Cole managed to keep Megan out as he carried her, keeping up with Josh.

As soon as they had stepped out of the van, the hum of Mitchell’s thoughts had surfaced in her mind, and with every moment that passed, they got stronger. She continued to call to him, but so far, she had received no response. It felt as if she was trying to call through a force field that deteriorated the sound of her voice before it could reach him.

When they stepped into a well-lit backyard, Amelia blinked against the light. As her eyes adjusted from the dark forest, her blood ran cold. She dug her feet into the ground and yanked on Josh’s wrists with all her might until he stopped. She was sure her eyes were wide with panic when Josh turned to her. “I can’t go in there,” Amelia said with a tremor in her voice.

Josh’s hard expression softened and he loosened up on her arm by a small fraction. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”

“Who gave you orders?” Amelia asked. She didn’t need to, she already knew, but something in her needed to hear that her suspicion was correct. All of a sudden things were starting to make sense. Someone’s manipulating them, Madame Crystal had said, and right at that moment, Amelia knew exactly who that someone was.

“He’s a friend of yours,” Josh answered, his eyes clouding in confusion, and a small v-shaped frown began to form between his eyes.

“Who, Josh,” Amelia pleaded, and tried to pry his fingers from her arm, but he wouldn’t let go.

“Have you forgotten me already?” Amelia froze at the sound of his voice. She tried to puff out her chest and glare at him, but she must have looked as small and scared as she felt, because he just laughed.

If you could have any three superpowers, what would they be?

Okay, it’s time to come clean. At some point in your life you’ve wondered what it would be like to have superpowers. Maybe it was during your last paranormal read, or it could have been when you were watching Superman. Not to worry. It happens. There’s just something so fascinating about crazy powers that captures the imagination.

While writing The Soul’s Mark Series, I spent many hours thinking about superpowers, and I have to admit, it was fun imagining how life would be if I developed my own set of superpowers. It took awhile, but I’ve finally narrowed it down to my top three.

Superhuman Speed
Picture never being late again. I’m always running late so being super fast would definitely be on my list, although I bet it wouldn’t help. I’d probably procrastinate and still end up late.

Persuasion
With the power of mind control, basically, you could do anything you wanted. You could persuade your teachers to give you straight A’s, get your dream job, get out of that speeding ticket.  The possibilities are endless. It would be awesome. I’m pretty sure I would use it to get my husband to do all the cooking and cleaning.

Super Healing
What if you had the power to heal? You could get rid of all those little injuries like paper cuts, because, well, they hurt! (I can’t even begin to count how many I got while writing these books.) But you could also help ease the pain of others. Picture being able to cure cancer or Alzheimer’s. Now that would be amazing.

What would you guys choose?

‘The Soul’s Mark: FOUND’ Wins Coveted Royal Dragonfly Book Award

Now that I’m done doing crazy cartwheels and happy dances I thought I should share the super exciting news with you guys.
 
‘The Soul’s Mark: FOUND’ Wins 2012 Royal Dragonfly Book Award With a Perfect Score for Young Adult Fiction.

My debut novel, The Soul’s Mark: FOUND has just won 1st place in not 1 but 3 categories of the 3rd Annual Royal Dragonfly Book Contest.

 
The Paperback took 1st place in: 

Young Adult Fiction (with a perfect score)

Newbie Fiction 
 
The eBook took 1st place in:
eBook: Newbie Fiction


A complete list of winners, including all first and second place and honorable mention recipients: here

 
A list of winners with perfect scores: here

Read on for a snippet of the media release.  🙂


“CHANDLER, AZ (November, 2012) – The judges of the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards contest, which recognizes excellence in literature, have spoken, and The Soul’s Mark: FOUND by Ashley Stoyanoff, won 1st place in the ebook: Newbie Fiction, Young Adult Fiction and Newbie Fiction categories.

“Winning any place in the Royal Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order to maintain the integrity of the Dragonfly Book Awards, a minimum score is required before a 1st or 2nd place or Honorable Mention will be awarded to the entrant – even if it is the sole entry in a category,” explains Linda Radke, president of Five Star Publications, the sponsor of the Dragonfly Book Awards. “Competition is steep, too, because there is no publication date limit as long as the book is still in print.”

To learn more about Five Star Publications, celebrating 27 years of doing business in Chandler, Ariz., access www.FiveStarPublications.com, email info@FiveStarPublications.com or call 480-940-8182.

Tips for backing up documents

Recently, I learned and very hard and excruciating painful lesson about backing up my documents. I thought that I was being so smart backing up all my documents on a USB flash drive. That way, if anything happened to my computer, I wouldn’t lose everything. Well, it turns out I was wrong.  

Two weeks ago my computer crashed, which for me, really wasn’t anything new. I have this nasty habit of telling it to do too many things at once and when I do this my computer protests and stops working. Anyway, everything that was saved directly on my computer was lost.  I went through the steps of reinstalling all the software and after a few hours, it was up and running.

At that point, I stuck my USB flash drive in, itching to get back to writing. I opened the draft I had been working on and was about to save a copy onto my computer (just in case) when the worse thing I could have imagined happened.  

Now, I should probably say that I’m not very technically savvy so the next bit is my interpretation of what my IT guy said.

There had been a virus on my computer before it crashed, and it had transferred to my USB flash drive. When I stuck the flash drive into my newly working computer, it cued that virus to attack all my files. It destroyed everything from outlines for new ideas right down to a halfway completed first draft.

In the end, I lost countless hours of work all because I didn’t realize that one back up was just not enough.  

After I finished stewing about everything that had been lost, I did some research on alternative ways to back up documents. And the one thing that I read over and over was that a best practice is to back up everything in 4 or 5 different places. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, one back up is not enough.

Here are a few different methods I found for storing your important files:

1) Online Storage
There are a bunch of them out there but here are a few free ones you could check out:
Freedrive | ADriveSkyDrive

2) USB Flash Drive
Believe it or not, this is still my favorite way to save my files.  I love the convenience and the size is prefect.




















3) Portable Hard Drive
I’ve never actually used one, but they seem popular and although they are bigger than the flash drive they are still small enough to carry with you when you’re on the go.















4) Email
Emailing it to yourself is probably one of the quickest ways to back up a document and with it in your emails you can access it from any computer at any time.

I hope this will give you all some ideas on ways to keep those precious files safe. 


The Soul’s Mark: HUNTED Excerpt

Hi Everyone!

As promised, here is the excerpt from The Soul’s Mark: HUNTED. I hope you all enjoy it. 🙂

Happy Reading!



The Soul’s Mark: HUNTED 

Book 2 of The Soul’s Mark Series
by Ashley Stoyanoff
 

CHAPTER 1

The wind whipped through Amelia’s hair as the door opened. She felt alive, pure adrenaline pumped through her body. It was a dizzying and exciting kind of rush. One she had never experienced before.  

Mitchell’s hands grasped her shoulders so tightly that she winced. He whimpered and she was pretty sure she heard a shriek, a sound that she had never before heard from him. She glanced over her shoulder and reached up to squeeze his hand. She couldn’t stop the burst of laughter that erupted from her belly.

The sounds of her laughter were drowned out by the rumbling engines of the plane and the windstorm that blustered around them, and she wondered how on earth she had heard his shriek. Then she noticed his slightly pink cheeks and the emanating feelings of embarrassment and she realized she was feeling it through the bond.

You’ve got to be kidding me? she sent through her sidesplitting laughter, as she took in his ghostly complexion. You’re scared?

We’re really, um, high, Mitchell whimpered into her mind. He sounded like a scared little child and he took a few steps back, pressing his body firmly against the wall. I don’t think I can do this. What if my parachute doesn’t open?

Oh, honey, Amelia said, crossing the short distance between them and caressing his pale cheeks. She smirked, dropping her thoughts to a gentle whisper. You know you’re a vampire, right? Even if it doesn’t open, you’ll be fine.

She felt Mitchell groan. You really aren’t helping, love

Suddenly the plane hit a bit of turbulence, jostling them around and he screeched, an ear piercing little girl kind of sound. He pulled her into his arms, holding onto her so tightly, as if she were the only thing that could save him—his stable rock.

She squeezed him back just as firmly, feeling the fear tremble through his muscles and the panic that he pushed into her mind. She stood up on tiptoes and kissed the tip of his nose. Now, this is new, she pushed the thought to him. I think I could get used to being the strong one. 

He chuckled, or at least that was what Amelia thought he was trying to do. It sounded more like a gurgling sob. He rubbed his nose, side to side against hers. In case…In case… He shook his head, as if he couldn’t bear to finish the words. His lips twitched up into an unconvincing smile. I love you.

Amelia almost laughed again. Who would have thought that Mitchell, of all people, would be scared of heights? Or scared of anything for that matter. But before the giggles could explode, he silenced them with a hungry kiss. His lips worked over hers with such an urgency and fierceness that Amelia was quickly swept away, forgetting the plane, forgetting the wind, forgetting everything around them. It was just them. Together. Nothing else in the world mattered. Not a single other thing existed apart from him.

“If you’re going to jump, you’ve got to do it now,” the coach shouted, ruining the moment.

Reluctantly, Amelia pulled her lips away, panting. She locked eyes with Mitchell. “We don’t have to do this,” she yelled, although it floated through the air like a hushed whisper thanks to the almost deafening wind blowing around them, and she tried to hide the disappointment in her voice.

His gaze shifted quickly to the open doorway, and then back to her. He took a shaky breath, cupped her face with his soft and clammy hands and a scared thought trembled into her mind, Can you push me out?

Amelia grinned and nodded in response. Her heart swelled and jumped around in her chest. How had she gotten so lucky? How many other men would jump out of a plane, just because their girlfriend wanted to?  

“Guys, you really have to jump, like now,” the coach shouted again. 

Mitchell visibly shivered. What if I land on a twig and it pierces my heart? He sent the thought through their bond, and she could tell he didn’t trust his voice.

I’ve got it covered, honey, Amelia sent back, coating the thoughts with a soothing tone.  

How? he breathed.

Amelia leaned into him, stretching up and brushing her lips against his ear as if she were going to whisper a secret. But even this close and with his enhanced hearing, she knew she would have to yell to be heard over the noise. We’re going to land in the lake. That’s why he’s rushing us. 

Mitchell looked more horrified than reassured. But what if we get tangled in the ropes, what if our parachutes drag us underwater, what if… 

Amelia cut off Mitchell’s rambling thoughts and again reassured him, Shhh…We’ll be fine.

It had taken some arranging, but using her magic to pull on Mitchell’s power of persuasion, she had managed to arrange for them to jump alone, over a lake. They wouldn’t have an instructor, and they didn’t have to be secured together, although, she planned to use a little magic to keep them together as they fell through the sky.

He took her hand, lacing their fingers together, and inched towards the opening. Don’t let go? he said, as if it were a question.

Never, Amelia answered, and she meant it. Never again would she let him slip away. They locked gazes and together, they jumped.

Amelia was the first to scream as they tumbled, but it wasn’t from fear. Mitch, you’re going to break my hand, she sent in a panicked rush.  

He loosened his grip to a bearable tension and sent a blast of shame through the bond. I didn’t want you to know I’m such a wuss, he sent.

With her free hand, she pulled him closer to her, lancing their hands together with steamy golden strands of power that wrestled against the wind that tried to rip them apart. You’re not a wuss, she pushed the thought to him. You’re the strongest person I know, and I love you, Mitchell Lang.

He gave her a genuine smile, and for just a second, the fear vanished from his eyes. Bright, warm sunshine poured through the bond. Amelia soaked it up, basking in his love. The emotions wrapped around her, seeped into her skin, and filled her soul. He leaned closer and kissed her with just a light peck, and then cleared his throat and yelled, “Can we pull the cord?” The fear crept back onto his face.  

She reached to her side and he mimicked her movements, clasping the cord tightly, and together, they pulled. As the parachutes opened, the wind caught them and they jerked up. Mitchell screeched and Amelia grinned, keeping a tight hold on his hand. It took a moment for the ballooning chutes to fill out, but when they did, it was amazing. Floating down over the crystal clear lake, the world around them was breathtaking. A sight that Amelia was sure was now etched into her mind. The glistening water, the rolling hills, the little cottage. From above, it was just all the more beautiful. She lost herself, allowing the vastness of the earth below to fill her soul and the closeness of Mitchell to warm her heart. 

This past week had been wonderful, and floating from the sky seemed like the perfect way to end their perfect vacation. Amelia had been a little apprehensive when Mitchell had suggested that they go away—just the two of them. To her pleasant surprise, without all the stress of running a town full of vampires and dealing with an amazing, yet demanding family, they actually had a great time. She would have sworn it wasn’t possible, but this time with him had brought them back to the dreams. Back to the times when all that mattered was each other.  

The time alone had been full of firsts: their first real date—alone, the first time to the movies; he even bought her flowers for the first time. It had been more than she could have ever imagined. And for the first time since they had met, she actually felt like they were just a normal couple, having a normal life, and best of all, she realized how much she truly loved him. The way he smiled at her, the way he caressed her cheek. How his eyes sparkled when he laughed, and the way he always opened the door for her. She loved him. Everything about him. Would it be like this when they got back? she wondered, as the ground approached. Mitchell tightened his grip on her hand, pulling her from her musing.

Amelia squeezed back, trying to reassure him, and then she focused on the fall. She gathered up her magic, pulling the energy together and letting the golden strands wrap around both of them. Their momentum slowed, and she felt like a feather drifting in the wind as they descended the last few feet. When they landed, the cool lake water gently splashed up around them.

“Mitch, you can open your eyes,” Amelia said, as the parachutes billowed around them, landing in the hip-deep water.

“Is it over?” he asked, keeping his eyes squeezed tightly shut.

Amelia laughed. “Okay, now you’re acting like a wuss.” She gave him a playful nudge and then unclipped the chutes. She was about to start wading in towards the beach, when suddenly, his lips were on hers, in a hard, breathtaking kiss.

“I can’t believe we actually did that,” he said when they finally came up for air. And then a grin spread across his lips and he scooped her up in his arms. Amelia gawked at him in amazement as he carried her out of the water. She had never seen him so happy before. So content. And seeing him like this made her happier than she had ever been before.

Mitchell was still grinning as he set her down on the beach, and she smiled up at him. “I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” she said, and then giggled at the amount of emotion that came out in her words. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Mitchell said, leaning down, pressing his warm lips to hers. And in that moment, everything melted away. The sounds of the chirping birds and the soft crashing waves were gone. All that was left was him. And he was all hers.

 

CHAPTER 2

Looking back, Amelia figured she should have known that the honeymoon phase wouldn’t last. She had really wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, the vacation had worked. Perhaps the magical perfection they resurrected while they were away would remain, and it did–sort of. They hadn’t fought for about three weeks, but realistically, long-term bliss didn’t seem entirely possible now. Something was definitely different, something seemed wrong, and no matter how hard she tried, Amelia just couldn’t put her finger on it.
 
They fought. That’s just what they did. It wasn’t something to be proud of by any means, and she hated to admit it but their squabbles made them work, and she kind of, sort of, missed it. She had always believed that fighting was healthy to a certain extent. Yell a little, say what’s on your mind, and with it out in the open, it’s easier to get over the issue and move on. But since they had returned, Mitchell had been distant, on edge, and overly sensitive.  
 
For a quick second, Amelia thought about sneaking a peek into his mind. What was the point of having a link to each other’s thoughts if they weren’t going to use it? Besides, she was dying to know where he had taken off to in such a rush. Amelia’s mind tried to reason with her, insisting that one little peek wouldn’t hurt. A little bit of information now could prevent a slew of misunderstandings later. That’s a good thing, right? But her heart couldn’t do it; it pleaded and begged her not to snoop. It twisted and turned, insisting that she let things be.  
 
Part of their agreement eight months ago was to stay out of each other’s minds. It had been Amelia’s idea, and she had been adamant that their bond should only be used for emergencies—no more snooping. And no matter what, no matter how much her mind was itching to snoop, she wasn’t going to be the first to break that rule, even if it was torture not knowing whatever it was that she didn’t know.
 
They had been about to go for a swim when his cell phone rang and to her disbelief, Mitchell—strong, in control Mitchell—actually jumped when it started to ring. He tried to hide his anxiety from her, but thanks to the bond (or maybe cursed by the bond; Amelia wasn’t sure) she felt every bit of turmoil that bounced around in him during that very short call. After a few yes’s, Mitchell hung up and then without any real explanation, only saying he had some business to attend to, he had taken off. She knew, just knew, he was hiding something—something big—and her suspicion was driving her crazy.
 
Amelia huffed, and instead of checking in, she threw a tank top and a pair of shorts on over her bikini and then stomped out of her bedroom and onto the terrace, gazing over the vast gardens while deep in thought. Had she made the right decision? She wasn’t sure, and she couldn’t help but wonder if putting a limit on their connection was actually the right thing to do. Amelia knew she should think of it as a gift. Most people would kill to know the inner workings of their boyfriend’s mind. Even so, Amelia knew all too well that knowing everything wasn’t always a good thing. It led to anger, jealousy and, above all else, danger for their friends.
 
It was an unseasonably warm night for mid-April. Amelia glanced at the thermometer and wasn’t surprised that it was still 90 degrees. In spite of only wearing lightweight clothes, she felt sticky and gross from the humidity. There wasn’t even a touch of a breeze to ease the discomforting heat.
 
The sky was alive with heat lightning that danced through the clouds and the far off rumble of thunder signaled the approaching rain. Amelia hopped down the steps and strolled over to the pear-shaped pool. The water looked so alluring and almost magical with streaks of silver as the lighting continued its rain dance. A few scattered droplets of rain fell around her, light and refreshing. She perched at the edge of the pool and dipped her feet in the cool water.
 
Amelia guessed she should have been happy. Over the last few months, she had really made some headway with Mitchell. With some careful planning and a touch of flirty manipulation, she was able to convince him to put a stop to the hunting and lift the curfew in their little gated community.   
 
But really, stopping the hunting was a must. Amelia remembered when she had first arrived in Willowberg and found out her little gated community was actually a hunting ground for vampires. The thought of it still turned her stomach. Really, it was the 21st century. They can’t just go around killing people like barbaric cavemen.  
 
It had taken months of arguing but in the end, she had convinced Mitchell to put a stop to it. And with that win, he had slowly started to back off, treating her like an equal and not like a precious little flower that always needed protection. But lately, there had been a shift in the incredible balance they had found. Instead of dictating what she could and couldn’t do, he was using sugar to get his way. And that was really, really infuriating. Especially since Amelia was positive that he was using this over sensitive, sugary attitude to get his own way. How could you say no to someone who was just so damn sweet? 
 
“Millie, what are you doing out here?” Eric called, ripping her from her thoughts. Not that she minded. In truth, she was relieved not to be alone with her thoughts. They could be dangerous—destructive. “Where’s Mitch?”
 
Amelia glanced over at him, and her breath caught in her throat. Eric was shirtless and looking incredibly yummy in his snug cut-off jeans. He wandered towards her, and she couldn’t help but admire his perfectly sculpted six-foot frame. He was grinning at her with a grin that Amelia was sure had broken many hearts and turned even more girls into giggling fools. Despite her best efforts, she was not immune to his charm. His leafy-green hair was dripping wet, and the drops beaded on his chest. His vibrant green eyes twinkled with mischief.
 
Eric plopped down beside her and sprawled out on the dampened lawn, stirring up the sweet scent of fresh-cut grass. His grin spread even wider, and he chuckled. “Better not stare at me like that, Millie. Mitch could be watching.” He said it jokingly but there was something in his voice that sounded strained, and Amelia was sure there was a hint of longing that she forced herself to ignore.
 
Things weren’t easy between them. Not since their little kiss. The kiss still lingered in her mind, popping up occasionally. His sweet and soft, moist lips. His musky scent. Stop it! Amelia scolded herself silently. For the life of her, she couldn’t understand why the memory was still so vivid. From what she had read and been told about the soulmate bond, she knew she shouldn’t even be able think about anyone other than Mitch, especially since he had bitten her, strengthening their link and claiming her as his mate. But there was just something about Eric that made her tingle all over.
 
Amelia swallowed hard and tried to tell herself it was okay to admire because Eric was so oh-my-God hot, and she would have to be a complete freak not to notice. As long as it didn’t go any further than that, it was fine, right? She gave herself a shake and then grinned at him. “Didn’t you have a date?”
 
Eric’s gentle gaze turned into a fierce glare. “Don’t change the subject. Where’s Mitch?”
 
Amelia tried to glare back at him, but it was useless. Eric always seemed to know when something was up with her, and it was hard to resist opening up to him. He was exactly that kind of guy. The kind of guy you just wanted to spill all your secrets to. “Don’t know. He just took off,” she huffed, annoyed that she sounded so whiny.
 
“What?” He looked genuinely surprised; his eyebrows lifted so high that it looked as if they were about to jump right off his face. “You and Mitch have been getting along great since you got back from the lake. He even moved into your room. What’s up?”
 
“I don’t know, Eric,” Amelia snapped and shifted her gaze back to the water. She swished her feet violently, sending out waves of ripples. The water sloshed up her legs, leaving puddles all the way up to her thighs. “And he may have moved into my room, but he set up a cot. He won’t touch me,” she said, glancing at him with a quick look. She felt a hot and rosy blush creeping all the way up her neck, settling onto her cheeks. She wasn’t sure why she had told him, but man it felt good to get rid of some of her frustration.
 
The good feeling vanished far too fast. Eric laughed and then coughed over it, trying to cover it up. “Damn girl, you’re kidding me, right?”
 
Amelia bristled. “Seriously, Eric, I don’t want to talk about my lack of a sex life with you. I don’t know why I even said it.”
 
He tossed up his hands in surrender, and the laughter vanished. “Whoa, sorry I asked.”
 
Amelia flopped back onto the grass, keeping her feet in the water and groaned. “What about you? You had that hot date tonight.”
 
“Yeah, I canceled.”
 
Amelia tilted her head toward him and raised a questioning brow. “Why?”
 
They locked eyes for an uncomfortable minute, and Amelia wished she understood the feelings she had for him. It was a jumbled mess of emotions—not a single one made any sense. She wondered if she had met Mitchell first, if he had been the one to greet her, would she even notice Eric now. Probably. There was just something between her and Eric. A fierce spark. And the weirdest part about it was that, every now and then, she felt as strongly for Eric as she did for Mitchell—as if she was bonded to both.
 
But Amelia knew that was impossible. There was no such thing as two soulmates. Although at one point, Amelia could have sworn that there was no such thing as soulmates at all. She would have been happy to believe that they were just a foolish romantic idea. Maybe it was her stupid witch powers that were interfering. Or maybe she still had doubts about Mitchell. Maybe? Who was she trying to kid? Hell yes, she doubted Mitchell, doubted their bond, doubted everything about their relationship.
 
When it had been just her and Mitchell, alone in the middle of nowhere, life had been beyond perfect. No distractions, no business, nothing but time to get to know each other. But now, back in the real world with real problems, it was just…
 
Just when Amelia thought the look would never end, Eric whispered, “I’ve been dreaming.”
 
Amelia let the word bounce around her brain. If he meant what she thought he meant, then why did he look so defeated? Shouldn’t he be ecstatic? He definitely did not look pleased. She tossed around a bunch of different things to say. She wanted to be happy for him. She really did, but he looked just so upset, so broken. She swallowed hard, plastered on a smile, and said, “That’s awe…”
 
The words fell short. Amelia was abruptly cut off by a girl screeching, “Help me!” In a flash, Amelia and Eric both jumped to their feet. Eric took off towards the tree line with vampire-speed before Amelia even figured out where the screaming was coming from.
 
“Help!” another cry sounded.

Paranormal Fiction Addiction

Okay, it’s official. I’m addicted to YA paranormal fiction.  

I was checking out my TBR shelve today, and I realized that the next 30 books or so are all YA paranormal fiction. As I perused the books, I couldn’t help but wonder, how did this happen? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was hooked on adult romance? I continued looking through the piles and I realized that pretty much every new book I’ve picked up over the last couple years has been YA paranormal fiction, and I’ve loved them all.

Of course, this got me thinking…Why? What is it about these books that has sucked me in so much that I now rarely pick up anything else?  Here’s what I came up with:

Escaping to a new world: Sometimes real life is stressful. We go to school or work all day, and then we come home to a mountain of chores. It can feel like a never-ending cycle, but when you pick up a good book, you can literally lose yourself into a whole new world. One of the things I love about the paranormal is how vastly different the world is from my normal day to day life and this flows into my second love of paranormal fiction…

Believability: So, we are sitting here reading about vampires, witches, werewolves, etc., and then we get thrust into some crazy other dimension and with the authors’ skills, every word we are reading is believable. We can see the world. We can feel it, and the possibilities become so real it’s almost as if we can reach out and touch it.  It’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Hotties with insane powers: Who doesn’t love hotties with crazy powers? I know I do. Really, hotties and super-human powers, what’s not to love?

Giddy school girl in love feeling:  And then, the hottie meets the love interest, and we get to fall in love with them. It’s always a rollercoaster ride of emotions, especially when the love interest finds out the truth about their new flame.

After picking out the things I love about my paranormal fiction books I thought just for a second that maybe, just maybe, I should mix it up a bit. But then I shrugged, smiled, and picked up another paranormal fiction, because, well, I realized that I’m glad I’m addicted.

5 awesome ways to beat that pesky thing called Writers Block

Most writers run into that unspeakable thing called Writers Block at one time or another. I know I have, and today I thought I would share some of my favorite things to do when I find myself stuck staring at that taunting blank screen.

1. Idea: Do a random word sprint

Random word sprints are one of my favorite things to do. I’ve found the best place to start is with a dictionary. Randomly pick a page and write down the first word you see. Repeat this until you have a list of 50 words. Next, take it one step further and hit thesaurus.com. Look up each word and pick your favorite synonym. When you’re finished, not only have you grown your vocabulary, but I’m betting you’ll be able to find that idea you were struggling to grasp at in the first place.

2. Idea: Read a newspaper

One of the things I like about reading a newspaper rather than a novel is that the newspaper is full of facts instead of colorful imagination. Sometimes all we need is that idea—that fact—to add our own color to. What better place to find it then a document that is full of facts?

3. Idea: Take a picture and describe it

I find this approach most helpful when I’m struggling with description, but it’s also just a fun activity that can help clear your mind. Take a camera and head outside. The important thing here is not to search for that perfect shot but just start shooting completely unplanned pictures. I know this will be hard since we writers are perfectionists by nature, wanting the perfect back splash for your epic scene, but give it a try. Once you’ve taken your fill of pictures head back to the computer and pick your favorite. At this point, I like to start at the bottom and work my way up describing everything I see right down to the thickness of the grass. When you’re finished you may have just found the perfect setting for the scene you were struggling with.

4. Idea: Review something

We have all watched a movie or a TV show, read a book, or checked out a website recently, why not review it? When I review something to help get my creative juices flowing, I usually pick an element to review that I was struggling with in my writing. For example, if I was struggling with giving one of my characters a personality, rather than being just a bump in the scene, then I’ll critique the characters in the movie I just watched. This works because it makes you look at every little detail about their personality, and in turn may give you the idea that will help you figure out who you really want your bump of a character to be.

5. Idea: Stop thinking and just write

It’s easy to over think what you’re writing about. While your mind spirals out of control thinking of the best possible word or setting or character you might actually forget what it was that you were trying to write in the first place. The key here is to put the project aside and clear your mind. Pick the first thing that pops into your head and write it down. If it’s just a word write it down, expand on it, and evolve it. Try working with this thought for 30 minutes. Before you know it, you’ll be picking up the project that had you stumped with fresh inspiration.

As you’ve probably noticed, all the things I do the beat writers block involves stepping away for the project that has me stumped. I’ve spent many hours staring at a blank computer screen, reluctant to walk away, determined to finish the idea that seems to have fluttered just out of my grasp.   

I think one of the biggest mistakes (at least of me) is that we try to force the words to fill the paper instead of letting the words come naturally. So when you feel that forcing feeling coming on, a change of scenery may be just the thing you need.

Cover Reveal – The Soul’s Mark: HUNTED

I know you have all been patiently waiting for some details on The Soul’s Mark: HUNTED, Book 2 of The Soul’s Mark Series, so here it is…
 
When Amelia Caldwell learned that she was marked by a vampire’s soul, she did what any smart, self-preserving person would have done: tried to run. But thanks to the soulmate bond that tethered her mentally and emotionally to her vampire soulmate, Mitchell Lang, running was not an option and finding out she was a witch didn’t make her life any easier.
Now, Amelia has made peace with her new supernatural life and accepted her destiny with Mitchell, one of the most powerful vampires in the world. They are finally getting along but Amelia is sure he is hiding something—something big.
Little does she know that this is just the calm before the storm. When Mitchell’s former flame resurfaces and Eric’s dreams become distorted visions of his soulmate, hostility and tension threatens to tear their world apart.
Just when Amelia thinks life couldn’t get any crazier, vampires and humans start turning up dead. The killer—something more sinister and haunting than your run of the mill psychopath —is heading straight for their front door.

Stay tuned for updates on the release date.