Posts by Shiloh Walker

Edged Blade excerpt

Here ya go… along with a rubber ducky.

 

There are some people who could get in trouble with a wet bag and a rubber ducky.

I know.

I’m one of them.

There I was, standing with a wet bag, eggs oozing out of it, half of my groceries for tonight all over the ground and a rubber ducky in my hand. I’d dropped one of the bags when a small tornado had almost bowled me over. I’d held onto the other, although thanks to the smashed eggs, the stuff in it was probably ruined.

Sighing, I looked down at the bag and then the ducky.

Said duck belonged to the little girl cowering at my feet.

Or maybe not…

“This doesn’t concern you.”

The words were delivered in a cloud of garlic and undercooked meat as a man came storming my way. He went to snatch the duck away and I whipped my hand out of his reach.

“She stole it,” he said.

“I’ll pay for it,” I said calmly. “Just tell me how much it is.”

“I’m not selling it to you.” His lip curled and he glanced down at the girl. He went to grab her. I dropped the rest of my groceries and shoved my hand against his chest.

He went flying back.

I took advantage of the momentary distraction to pick up the girl and put her in my car. I’d only barely had the chance to shut the door when he came rushing at me. Magic sparked around him as he swung out at me.

Splintered power danced in the air around him. An untrained witch, probably watered down—just enough ability to light a fire—or make him feel tough.

Ducking under the punch, I slammed my fist into his gut and spun away.

He lumbered after me.

I caught the next punch.

His face went red as I started to squeeze. I heard bones break.

As he started to squeal, I flung his hand away.

“Well. This is entertaining.”

With a disgusted sigh, I looked up as Megan Banks came striding up.

Megan was the second in command for the local wolf pack. She looked like a soccer mom, cussed like a sailor and had a jaw like a brick wall. I’d broken my hand on that jaw of hers. As I caught sight of the amusement in her eyes, I relived that moment. It had been worth it.

Blowing out a disgusted breath, I looked at the groceries I’d dropped when the little girl had plowed into me. The eggs were a lost cause. “Hi, Megan. Long time, no see. Oh, you’re in a hurry? Sorry to hear that. See ya.”

She chuckled as she knelt down next to me. “I’m here to speak with the man you made cry like a baby.” She picked up a packet of steak and held it out. “Planning on having company?”

I just stared.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen the Alpha. Perhaps I should swing by and just touch base. It’s a courtesy…from the pack to the clan.”

“Come by my house tonight and die.”

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Edged Blade…

Like, um… three more weeks?  I think?

 

Vampires weren’t a compassionate race, but they were a cunning one. Sometimes they had bad eggs. Bad eggs didn’t bode well for them. Sadly, their idea of a bad egg and everybody else’s idea of bad egg didn’t exactly align.

“We have a…contact,” Justin said. “He doesn’t exactly work for Banner, but he’s been known to take on contracts and he gets good intel. I’ve spoken to him.”

Without turning my head, I slid my gaze back to him. “A vampire.”

He didn’t answer that, just continued on with what he was saying. “He’s in the line of one of the missing bloodsuckers. He says there’s just a disconnect.”

I shook my head and frowned. “A disconnect?”

“Yep.” He looked around and then grabbed the notepad on the corner of my coffee table. “Here.”

Justin sketched out a series of circles, connecting them by lines. It reminded me of…well, of a chemical formula more than anything else. Inside the circles, instead of elements, he’d scrawled names. A few of them, I recognized. Most of them didn’t cause much reaction, other than my now-instinctive dislike of vampires, but others would have made my heart lurch in fear, if I had allowed it.

“This is the direct line and the closest relation for my contact.”

I saw the name. Immediately, my spine stiffened. Allerton.

Abraham Allerton.

“I know him,” I said softly.

Paddy looked up as Justin continued his sketch. “D’ ya now? He’s not a bad man to have at your back in a fight.”

“I’d rather stick a knife in my own back.”

 

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Helping out! I’m a little late with this one… #SOS

I got this from Kelly last week, but I’m running behind.

Her email:

Hi helpers….one of our marines has a birthday on the 23rd….might be pushing it to get boxes but if we can get cards to him that would be great…if you want to send a package that is fine too but might get there late, having said that I am sure he won’t mind!
GYSGT Joe Diehl
HMH 465 Maintenance Control
Unit 26177
FPO,AP 96427-6177

If you’re unfamiliar with my SOS posts, please read here before asking Qs.  It answers most, if not all, the typical questions.  Please note that yes this is a bit late, but trust me…these guys don’t really mind if they get a card, letter or package a few days late.  A note knowing that people are thinking of them makes all the difference in the world!

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Some J.C. Daniels news…

I’ll be having at least one more J.C. Daniels book out this year…but it’s not a Kit book.

It’s not urban fantasy, either.

J.C. is trying her hand at science fiction. SF with a splash of romance.

Here’s a snippet of FINAL PROTOCOL, due out from Samhain in July.

~*~

Some people said that this was what Old Earth would be like by now. Well, except for the population thing.  Aris still had a thriving population.  Disease and war had all but decimated Old Earth.  There were rumors that those who had remained behind no longer even resembled anything that we’d consider human.

Personally, I think human is just another word for animal.  None of us are worth much.  Me, included.

The ariste were a different beast altogether. Some of the kindest, most gentle people I’d ever come across resided here, on this hot, desert planet that travelled too close to its sun.  The people made me nervous and I wanted nothing more than to kick the dust of this planet off my shoes and leave it far behind.

Leave these smiling people far behind.

I had very little use for people in general.  If I couldn’t fuck it, then the only time I was likely to come in contact with anybody was when I was sent a contract to kill.

Like this old man, with his round, cheerful face and his silver eyes—ariste eyes, hidden behind the tinted lenses he wore.

I was here to kill him.

And he knew.

A smile creased his face as I moved into the room, not bothering to conceal myself.

He already knew I was there.  Why bother to hide?

Either he’d called for help, which would mean I had to move things along, or he thought he could handle me myself.

Neither would change the outcome.

He would die, because the alternative was that I would likely die and I didn’t plan on that being the case.

He nodded at the table where he sat.

“Would you join me?”

I paused, my hand on the darts I’d planned to use.  The problem was he hadn’t been on the long, narrow balcony taking his normal walk.  He was ariste, and one of the older ones.  They had a thing about the setting sun.  It was a religious fascination as far as I could tell.  All of the houses had balconies that faced the west, so they could watch as the brutal, burning sun sank below the horizon.  Even the poorest of families would struggle to get a simple opening so the family could face the death of the day.

Cree Ru was far from poor.

Yet he hadn’t taken his sunset walk.

“Come.” He smiled at me.  “Sit.”

I said nothing. I knew better.  My voice could be used to track me, pin me to the crime, if anybody was successful at hunting me down.  I’d evaded capture on a dozen planets in four different systems. This was an amateur’s mistake.

Just like walking in that open door was an amateur’s mistake, I chided myself.

“You will not sit then.” Cree nodded.  “Very well.  I’ll speak a bit.  I’ve time yet.”

He must have sensed something because he slid me a small smile.  “No.  The authorities weren’t alerted.  I sensed you three days ago and had the time since then to decide on the actions I’d take.  First, I had to think about who must have hired you.”

That wasn’t an answer I could give him.

I accepted the money, the job, all from my handler. There were other things I took from him, and some things he forced on me, but he never told me who hired me.  It was essential, he’d once told me, that he protect his clients.  Names were never given.

Cree didn’t let my silence stop him as he leaned back, steepling his fingers together as he looked out into the night.  He had thick, floor to ceiling walls of what the locals called plaris.  It made me think of the pilastene, a manufactured material that was used in almost everything for those who’d settled the New Earth colonies.

The NE colonies weren’t home to me, but many of my tools were NE made.  It was what I was familiar with, what I was used to. Pilastene was nearly unbreakable, safe to manufacture and inexpensive.

Plaris, like ‘stene, was durable, and nearly unbreakable, something that served this volatile planet well, designed to endure quakes that could have leveled cities.  His entire home was made of plaris, and the windows were the clear stuff, the most pricy form of it out there.  Eyes on the night sky, he studied the twin moons and said, “I hated to admit it to myself, but there are only two people who would have done this. Only two who would benefit.  My son and his wife.”

Arching my brows, I edged in closer, searching for weapons.  So far, I’d yet to see a single one.

“I cannot tell if the look on your face is curiosity or merely an attempt to distract me.”  He sighed and then reached out, pushed a plate toward me.  “If you are any good at your job, you’ll recognize this.”

My eyes moved to the plate, a thin disk of what looked like hammered gold.

The sight of the three small berries there made my belly clench, even if I was there to kill him.

Death’s seal, the most poisonous plant in three systems.  Deadly, and outlawed on almost every planet in those three systems.  Just the touch of it on the tongue was enough to kill a child.  Half of a berry could kill a woman my size.  Three berries could kill three men.

“I’m going to make this easy,” he said quietly.  “My son seeks to kill me, thinking he’ll inherit.”

Cree reached for a berry.

“Wait,” I said, the word ripping out of me despite my intention not to speak.  “Why?  If you wish to fight him, then why do this?”

“I don’t wish to fight him.”  He smiled, rolling the berry between his fingers.  “I wish to deny him what he tries to take by betrayal.”  Then he shrugged.  “And I refuse to let him use another in his endless vendetta against me. Do you know…it’s our belief that for every life you take, you must save two more if you want to leave this existence with your soul intact.”

I inclined my head.  “I have no soul left.  You do this for nothing if you try to spare me.”

“If you had no soul, it wouldn’t concern you to see this berry in my hand.”

He smiled at me as he tossed it up in the air.

I don’t know why I did it.

It should mean nothing to me.

I could easily claim his death as my own.  Poison wasn’t unknown to me.  I suspected I even knew who had provided him with those three priceless, deadly berries.

But my hand moved, almost as though it had a mind of its own and the sliver-thin dart stole the berry from the air and I quickly used two more darts to destroy the other two berries.  He could still lick the plate, I supposed, but somehow I didn’t see this regal, elegant man choosing that route.

“Why?” he asked, his voice puzzled.

Staring at the plate, at the thin stalks of the darts, I shook my head.  “I don’t know,” I murmured.  Then I looked at him.  “Do you count now?  As one half of a life?”

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By special request… from Edged Blade

Due out in just a few more weeks, guys!

 

By the time Justin had finished wrapping his mind around what he’d just learned—or at least shoving it into a box until he was ready to deal with it—we were ready to go.

“We’re just going to have to drive through the night,” Justin said, tossing his bag into the car.

“I have a place,” Abraham offered, walking alongside me.

It was somewhat disconcerting to realize his nearness didn’t bother me. It wasn’t any more disturbing than having Scott standing next to me, or Chang.

“We’ll make do,” came Justin’s terse reply.

“You should let me help you,” Abraham said, his voice flat. “You agreed to share information with me. I’ve shared information. You’ve withheld it. That’s not like you, Justin. I can be of help and you know it.”

Justin opened his mouth only to shut it without saying anything.

Abraham pushed his advantage. He looked back at me, then at Tate. “Three of you. You intend to do this with only three of you.”

Justin lifted a shoulder. “With the plan I have, I could do it with two, but I like to be prepared.”

Abraham lifted a brow. “A fourth would be better. I know where you’re going. Don’t be foolish.”

“I got this.” Neither of them looked at me as they argued.

That pointed avoidance had me narrowing my eyes, because I had a feeling I knew why Justin was refusing the offered help.

“We have a mutual interest.” Abraham was one stubborn son of a bitch.

“Yeah, we do.” Justin opened the door, but lingered, eying Abraham. “Look, you wanted us gone, so we’re going. But listen up, I’ve worked with too many vamps before. Once you get the man you want, you’re just as likely to bail and I plan on getting all of them out.”

“I will help you with that—you have my word.”

“Not the issue.” Justin went to climb inside.

“Justin.”

He stilled.

“Do we need another set of hands?” My own hands were slippery with sweat.

“We can handle it,” Justin said. The words were completely and utterly devoid of emotion. He didn’t sound confident but he didn’t sound doubtful. That worried me more than anything.

“That’s not what she asked,” Tate said quietly, moving to stand at my shoulder—not a place I’d ever expected her to be.

I didn’t look at her. “Yes or no, can we use more hands on this?”
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Ups and Downs of Being a Writer

There are times when being a writer feels like the best damn job in the world.  Seriously. I mean, you’re hardly ever bored.  You can look at a corkscrew and get an idea.  You can ride the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World and have an idea for a book (or two).  You can go to Disney World and write the whole damn trip off because you had an idea (or two) for a book–then sold it!

But then there are times when you’re up until 3am-because the voices in your head just won’t shut up.  Yes, voices, because that’s how my stories come to me.  People talk to me.  These are my characters.  I’ve mentioned before that I feel more like a narrator than anything else, because I’m just taking down the notes for the people who are living out the stories that happen in my head.  So imagine these people…living in your head…and they never shut up.

That’s been my head for the past month.  Several shiny, dazzling new ideas and I’m letting them all out to play before I knuckle down and get to work on RS project #2.

Which I have to start on this week.

The problem with letting them all out to play is that they don’t want to stop playing.

They don’t want to shut up.

They don’t want to let me sleep.  They don’t want to let me think or read or do anything but write their story.  They’d take me over and turn me into a…a STEPFORD writer or something if I let them.

O.O

Maybe this shouldn’t be a down side to be a writer, but it’s exhausting.  Too many noises inside the noggin.

So this weekend, I shut down.

I barely read email, I didn’t open my laptop.  I took a bubblebath or two.  I watched tv.  I read books.  I went to church. I went to the mall.

On Sunday, I did glance at my email….

And I saw one I’d been hoping to see.

From editor M. with St. Martins.

About RS book 1.

I’m loving this…

Hot damn, yes.  This is the upside to be a writer.  When somebody loves a book.

Now maybe I can shut up those many voices and focus on the one voice I need to focus on.

Here… snippet.  This is from book #1.  Right now, I’m calling it Nothing but Trouble, but that title might change.  No release date, etc available right now.

But let me introduce Neve McKay.

~*~

 

Home.

Her throat clogged from the memories and she blew out a breath.  She’d let herself get all sentimental and stupid later.  For now, though, she was going to have herself that damn beer and figure out her next step—and decide if she was going to call her brother sister right away, or wait until tomorrow.

Some frisson of nerves twisted inside her at the thought of trying to deal with the rift she’d caused in her family, but she’d deal with that when the time came.  All of that was for later.

Tonight?

“Just a drink,” she told herself.

And with that in mind, she started toward the door.

She had to take a minute to acclimate herself once she ducked inside.

The few glimpses she’d had inside the dive that had been Treasure Island didn’t match up with what was before her now.   The servers wore kilts—shorter lengths for the girls, although nothing that would make their mothers hide their eyes if they bent over—while the guys had a similar style that hit the knee.

She smirked, amused.  So they were going for a Scottish theme?  And still using the name Treasure IslandOooookkayyy.

To each their own, she mused as she wound her way through the crowd, ducking her head when somebody looked at her too long, averting her face when somebody looked familiar.

She had to avert her face a lot.

Treasure wasn’t a big town—population at the last census was just under nine thousand.  Her graduating class hadn’t even topped two hundred.  Just in the short walk from the door to the bar, she’d heard several familiar names and seen people she hadn’t seen in eight years.

But she hadn’t seen the people who counted the most, and that was all that mattered.

As long as she could brace herself before she had to see them, then everything would be just fine and dandy.

Spying an empty seat, she slid onto and looked up at the bar.  She hooked her backpack on the little hook in front of her and shifted to keep it between her legs.  She’d had people try to relieve her of her belongings more than once.

Breathing out a sigh of relief, she let herself relax.  Now…for that drink—

“Well.  ‘Allo.  What can I get you?”

At the sound of that voice, a shiver raced down her spine and a punch of heat—something she hadn’t felt in far too long spread through her, warming her from head to toe.

 

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