A little bit of a holiday treat for everyone: my first published comic story, which appeared in Greyhaven Comics The Gathering: All Women’s, Volume One. It’s the story of how the heroine of Phoenix Rising, Beth Nakamora, met her foster father, Philip Drake, with art by the tremendously talented Cassandra James.

 

 

The prize is a $20 Amazon gift card. :)  Go read. I discuss things like why my Mom is my hero and why no one should use my writing method as that way lies madness…

Official release day celebration!

A man too dangerous to live. A woman whose survival depends on forgiving him.

The Phoenix Institute, Book 2

Philip Drake is immortal by virtue of a psychic power that heals all but the worst injuries. He’s needed every bit of it as a black ops agent, a life so violent that the line between pain and pleasure is tangled up in his head.

When he walks away from the CIA, the last thing he expects is to discover someone stole his DNA to create a race of super-healers. And that the expectant mother is a woman from his past who’d consider it her pleasure to spit on his grave.

One moment, Delilah Sefton is listening to a seriously hot, seriously deranged man giving her some half-baked explanation as to why she’s pregnant with no memory of how she got that way. The next, armed men swarm into her bar, and she and Mr. Sexy-Crazy are on the run.

Safety at the Phoenix Institute is only temporary, but it’s long enough to put the pieces together. A madman plans to steal her son in a plot to take over the world. And to stop him, she must learn to trust the baby’s father—a man she blames for her greatest loss.

Warning: This novel contains fast cars (that are driven), numerous guns (that are shot), a hero who prefers pain over love, and a heroine determined to fight for those she loves.

And excerpt for you! I like this one because it shows the contrast between Philip Drake and Alec, the hero of Phoenix Rising:

As he dressed, he strapped on his ankle holster and slipped a knife into his jacket to go along with the Sig Sauer nestling in his waist holster. The lightweight jacket would conceal that well enough. He gathered up a small pocketful of tech toys, including several micro-bugs. Alec was right to want the place bugged.

He took a look at where he’d jammed the shard into his palm. The shower had washed off the blood, and the wound had fully healed already.

Pain and the rush of healing after it were all that had made him feel alive in the last few months. He’d always had a high tolerance for pain and had known that tolerance sometimes slid into pleasure. But now it was as if he needed that rush. Even his careless one-night stands had been unsatisfying unless the sex had been rough. Beth would have much to say about that, if she knew. He had no plans to tell her.

Philip drove the Charger with Alec providing directions, but he didn’t need them. He knew that area. The lab was located next to a rundown area in Passaic, just over the town line in an industrial zone of warehouses, offices and laboratories. It was accessible via the highway but Philip planned a less obvious route. Just in case, again. He didn’t know who could be watching, but that was the point. One never knew.

When he explained this to Alec, the boy shook his head. “Appreciate the security lesson, Drake, but that seems extreme.”

“You need lessons in extreme.” The firestarter was powerful, smart and he wanted to do the right thing. He’d changed the name of the Resource—which he’d inherited from his adoptive father Richard Lansing—to the Phoenix Institute to signal a new start for the place that had effectively held him captive all his life.Alec intended to find and help children like him use their power responsibly. It was an excellent, noble goal. But Alec had been raised in a vacuum, essentially isolated from the rest of the world. It made him more than naive on a few subjects.

“Someone is using your DNA to create a race of superbabies, and you think taking an undocumented driving route is extreme? Not to mention the CIA might be monitoring me or you. Whoever kept this genetics lab running after Lansing’s death could be doing the same. And there’s still the matter of those watchers out there from an unknown source that you sensed on the container ship job. Aside from the one mention in Lansing’s notes, there’s no other information. Which tells me Lansing knew something but thought it was too volatile to write down. That’s never good.”

He paused to let the words sink in. Alec shifted in his seat, clearly uncomfortable.

“If you want to survive to do all this good you talk about, then you have to assume enemies are watching. All the time.”

Alec stared at the car’s dashboard for a while instead of replying. Perhaps the young man was considering what he’d just been told. Or, given his sheltered upbringing, he was checking out the car. Alec loved cars.“I hate having to think that way.”

“If you want to live long enough to accomplish your aims, you’re going to have to learn.” And you damn well better learn enough to keep my daughter safe.

Alec nodded. “What if my kid is out there, Drake? Not a situation I’ve been trained to handle.”

Philip realized that the boy was truly looking for advice this time. Like it or not, Alec was a permanent part of Beth’s life. Which meant the question should be answered rather than ignored. No one had told him giving advice to a man sleeping with his daughter was part of fatherhood when he’d volunteered.

But here he was.

Onto the contest! We’ll try something different this time and instead of asking about books or characters, I wanted to talk about cars, in honor of Philip’s 1967 Dodge Charger. (My brother once owned one just like it so hopefully I have all the dashboard controls right or he’ll kill me….)

To enter, let me know your favorite classic car in the comments below.

CONTEST CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH. YOU MUST MAKE SURE TO LEAVE AN EMAIL SO I CAN REACH YOU.

superhero novels, superhero romance, Phoenix Rising,

Coming Tuesday!

Phoenix Legacy, the third story in the Phoenix Institute series and the direct sequel to Phoenix Rising, releases Tuesday, November 13. So, with PR, Luminous, and Legacy, I guess I’m officially a series writer. :)

You can see the official blurb in an earlier post but I thought a short except might showcase the book somewhat better. This is because I’m the type of reader who ignores those blurbs when in the bookstore and flips right to the book to check it out.

Philip Drake pulled into the entrance of the bland suburban New Jersey condominium development just as many of his neighbors were leaving on their morning commute.

Feeling perverse, he gunned the ’67 Charger, making more noise than necessary. He might live here but he’d never be one of them.He smiled as the Charger took the corner on a dime. Old, but not feeble. Like him.

Though the car looked its age, standing out, not in style anymore. Unlike him.

He had wanted to experiment with the limits of his newfound conscious healing ability. Instead, he’d de-aged his body to at least a decade younger. Days of trying to reverse the process had convinced him he was cursed to look like this for a long time. Maybe until he died, whenever that was.

He was too damn old and cynical to look under thirty.He’d never get his gray hair back. He would never grow old, either, at least not naturally. Still, given what he was, it was always possible someone might kill him in the meantime. That was a comforting thought.

The book will be available at my publisher, Samhain. Just follow the links on the title or the cover. It’s also available at Amazon for Kindle and B&N for the Nook too. I’ll be posting a few more excepts over the next few days leading up to Tuesday!

The contest runs until midnight Oct. 9th! Tonight! Go enter!

And to give a glimpse of what’s in the book, as well as a look at the hero of Phoenix Legacy, here are some snippets from Phoenix Rising featuring Philip Drake.

**************

Philip sank into her armchair and closed his eyes, hiding from the light of her corner lamp, covered by shadows. “Death has a way of spilling over onto anyone in its path. Alec’s life is one of violence. I don’t want you in the way. This was a mistake, a serious mistake.”
***************
Her whole body felt battered, as if Alec had slammed her into that rock. It would feel worse after she told Alec. Whatever his reaction, she’d have to face it. Alec had taught her one thing. Don’t run, don’t hide. She’d wanted to change Alec’s life. Instead, he’d altered hers beyond recognition.

Her stomach rumbled. She ignored it and put her head in her hands and immediately felt dizzy. Her throat felt dry. Hunger, she could ignore. Thirst was harder. If she was dehydrated, that would explain part of the headache. She walked to the kitchen and pulled out the pitcher of water.

“Beth, we have to get the hell out of here. Now.”

She closed her eyes and sighed, her hands tightening around the pitcher. “Hello, Philip.”
**************
She stepped between them, her arms wide. “Alec, this is Philip Drake. My father.”

Her father!? “The black ops CIA agent who had you set me up?”

“If I’d set you up, you’d be dead,” Drake said.
***************
Drake brushed past them, holding a big-ass machine gun with a curved ammunition clip. A Kalashnikov, probably. How’d he get that?

“ I think he was hiding it in the kitchen pantry.”

“ I ’d hate to see what he keeps in his closet.”
**********************
“Where’s Philip?”

“Off doing whatever he does. Does he vanish like that often?”

“Routinely. When he reappears, he usually has presents for me.”

There was no sense worrying about her father. She’d hear from him when he was ready.

“So Drake’s kinda like Santa Claus.”

“If Santa carried daggers and packed heat.”

superhero novels, superhero romance, Phoenix Rising,One more time, the official blurb:

Philip Drake is immortal by virtue of a psychic power that heals all but the worst injuries. He’s needed every bit of it as a black ops agent, a life so violent that the line between pain and pleasure is tangled up in his head.

When he walks away from the CIA, the last thing he expects is to discover someone stole his DNA to create a race of super-healers. And that the expectant mother is a woman from his past who’d consider it her pleasure to spit on his grave.

One moment, Delilah Sefton is listening to a seriously hot, seriously deranged man giving her some half-baked explanation as to why she’s pregnant with no memory of how she got that way. The next, armed men swarm into her bar, and she and Mr. Sexy-Crazy are on the run.

Safety at the Phoenix Institute is only temporary, but it’s long enough to put the pieces together. A madman plans to steal her son in a plot to take over the world. And to stop him, she must learn to trust the baby’s father—a man she blames for her greatest loss.

Today is the day! Phoenix Rising is out in paperback!

I received my author copies a few weeks ago and took time to sit down and fondle them a bit. New book smell! Nothing else like it!

So, contest!!

Comment below about what you’re currently reading! That way we can talk about books and recommend them to each other too.

THREE PRIZES, THREE WINNERS, chosen by random number from the comments.

1. A print copy of Phoenix Rising.

2. Ecopies of Phoenix Legacy, the sequel coming on Nov. 11th. , Phoenix Rising,  and Luminous, the short story set in the same univers.

superhero novels, superhero romance, Phoenix Rising,

3. A $10 Amazon certificate.

I will close entries in one week, at midnight on October 9th. Make sure that there is a way I can reach you if you want a prize, preferably via email. I’ve found Facebook messages tend to get lost.

As I held my book in my hands, I started to think of all the different influences on the series, especially the first book. The first, obvious, one is my love of Marvel’s X-Men, as the heroes in my books are born with their powers, as are the mutant X-Men, and the eventual goal of those running the Phoenix Institute is to provide a safe haven for mutants and teach them how to use their abilities safely.

But that was the general concept. As it took shape, it became more my own idea. For one, I restricted all the abilities to ones that could be explained by psychic powers. That means telekinesis and telepathy.

Alec Farley, the hero of Phoenix Rising, is a telekinetic but also a firestarter, as starting fires is just another level of moving things around with the brain, albeit at a molecular level. There are many variations I can use. The hero of the upcoming Phoenix Legacy has TK but it’s limited to the ability to heal himself. He can literally order his body to repair damage I’m currently working on the third full book in the series and the heroine can walk through walls, which is due to her psychic ability to control the molecules of her body.

Telepathy, on the other hand, could also take many forms. There are: simple communication/ the ability to mentally order people around; to cast illusions by making someone see what isn’t real; and to make what is real invisible. (See Luminous.)

It would be boring to write such powerful people without giving them weaknesses, so each strength has an appropriate drawback. Alec’s fire can escape his control. My self-healer can’t solve blood loss. My telepath can only control so many people for a short period of time. My ghost walker can only carry something with if it’s smaller than her own body weight.

Something else I borrowed was part of the setting. I feel in love with one of Nora Roberts’ Harlequin stories involving one of her big families. I loved the story about a young artist who lived in a lighthouse in Maine, especially the setting. I had just visited Maine and it resonated. So I took that idea, “borrowed” a real house set up on a hill over looking the harbor in Maine, and put that in the book.

And Beth…the first stirrings of the character that became Beth, the heroine of Phoenix Rising, took place back in 2004 when I was talking to Karen Harbaugh at RWA National in Dallas. She talked about how few leads of Asian descent there were in romance stories. I said maybe people write what they know. And she said that was no excuse. If people could research Regencies and historicals, they could research a character’s background too.

I sat down to write Phoenix Rising and Beth took shape as a Japanese-American. It’s not that I said “I’ll write a minority lead,” it was more “I’m writing a very unique character and this background adds to it.” I saw her as just Beth, whose background I had to get right as I had to get Alec’s background just right. But I received a few comments about people happy to see a non-white lead in a book, so that was nice.

And, last but not least, I owe a debt to the great writers of books I devoured in my childhood. Alec Farley is my own tribute to the wonderful Walter Farley, who wrote the Black Stallion series. I keep and treasure those books to this day. Alec Ramsey is the hero of the series, so I just swapped his last name for the author’s last name.

I only hope, in some small way, that I can touch reachers a tenth as well as Walter Farley’s stories touched me.