Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fan-Filled Mad Libs #2

Getting Ready For The Date
A Fan-Filled Mad Lib

The following love letter is the result of a wild crazy giveaway game played by the fans who are participating in the Kingsley Keeper PartyHere are the results of our most recent Mad Lib.

*****

"Goodness gracious!" she whispered. She couldn't believe she was sprinting on a date with Blaze. She'd been wanting to date him for twenty-two millenniums, and finally, he'd asked her to run. They were going to the Le Grand Vefour restaurant that had just opened up in Sydney, and she couldn't wait! Finished bewitching her hair, she put some makeup on her nose, and that was it; she was ready to go.

Hearing a sound at the door, she fried to the laundry room and took one last look at her appearance in the mirror before opening the door. There he stood, a smile on his toes and a cactus in his hands. He was just as beautiful and loud as ever and her arm swelled up with ecstasy. Winking, she took his knee and they were off.

*****

The winning word choosers for this mad lib are:
  • Alexandrea Ward (goodness gracious)
  • Dana Fetters (sprinting)
  • Jessica Ryba (Blaze)
  • Aileen Aroma (22)
  • Dana Fetters (millenniums)
  • Kathy Power (run)
  • Jenny Lynn Weyer (Le Grand Vefour)
  • Lauren Bearzatto (Sydney)
  • Lauren Bearzatto (bewitching)
  • Amanda Hervey (nose)
  • Jeanette Jeno (fried)
  • Dawn Froggy Saenz (laundry room)
  • Heidi Brubach Clusta (toes)
  • Jessica Ryba (cactus)
  • Raquel Perez (hands)
  • Mari Austin (beautiful)
  • Crissy Mackey (loud)
  • May Hay (arm)
  • Ikelia Francis (ecstasy)
  • Ginnie Hutto (knee)
  • Jeanette Jeno (winking)


Thanks to random.org, we also have our final Mad Lib winner, who will receive a Fat Chance bumper sticker! And that winner is .... Crissy Mackey!!! Congratulations, Crissy, and thanks to all of you for playing!

Stop(s) Number Four

Oh my goodness, y'all, today is a DOUBLE day of tour stops!!
Today, I have achieved something magical.
I am in two places AT ONCE!

Well, not really.

Just kinda.

See?
I'm over at
which gives a link to the Kingsley Party page on facebook, a great 4-out-of-5-stars review, and one of my favorite Fat Chance excerpts ever. This one gives you a glimpse at Cass's sass, which I loved seeing come out in her, self-conscious as she was. There's also a list of my top ten favorite things and a tour schedule, in case you haven't seen this one.
~*~and~*~
which gives you character profiles on Cass and Drew, a guest post from me about what it was like to write and "interact" with the cast of Fat Chance, and a five-star review of the book!

I woke up this morning, and like every other morning since the tour started, my first thought was "I wonder if the tour posts are up for me to see yet." I told myself that they probably wouldn't be, but I went ahead and pulled up the blogs anyway so that I could refresh them obsessively throughout the morning until the posts were up and I could squeal with glee. And fear. You know, because of the reviews. The scary reviews.

Ryan sat up beside me in our bed and he said, "What are you doing?"
And I said, "I'm getting ready for either a REALLY good, or a REALLY bad day."

He didn't really answer, waiting patiently (or perhaps fearfully) to see which way our Easter morning would begin. When I said, "aww" he kept waiting. When I said, "aww" again, he asked me what was up. When I started crying, he pulled over and asked again. And I said, "It's good. They're good."

There's nothing more fulfilling as a writer than to be told that you've gotten the message across in a way that impacts the readers. There's no feeling in the world like being told that your characters came alive for someone reading the book, that they became real for a little while.

And happy tears? Well, in my house, that's a good start to any day.

Thanks for reading.  

The Lily, A PicPrompt


Please be aware that ALL of this writing is copyright protected as my own creative content, and NO PART of any post/story may be reproduced, copied or used in 
ANY WAY, ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME.


Image courtesy of Susie B  Freedigitalphotos.net
The Lily
copyright 2013, Brandi Kennedy
*****
My youngest daughter has been a beautiful little terror all her life. I was so sick during my pregnancy that I thought she was killing me, and by the end I was starting to wish she'd just get it over with. We both struggled to find our health once she was born, and it took her a good three years to find a consistent sleep pattern. Fitting the new routines of a larger family into her personal needs was challenging, and watching out for health issues was nothing short of terrifying for me as her mother. And still, there has been no joy like her, watching her grow alongside her sister, watching her find herself as she leaves babyhood behind and welcomes the beginning of who she will someday be.
That's why we call her Lily.

*****
A lily is a precious thing
somehow sturdy
and yet fragile.

When closed, it lacks
the beauty and grace
that will overtake it as it opens.

Petals spread and widen,
revealing a mystery of color
the shape of wonder
individual to each bloom.

A perfume arises,
pollen rains down
and the lily mesmerizes
with it's fragile beauty.

All too soon,
the petals fall away,
the flower has lived,
it has served it's purpose.
And all too soon, it is
but a memory.
*****

We had a lot of moments where we thought we'd lose Eden, moments where she suddenly became ill, moments where a known illness was found to be worse than we'd thought. At just under four years old, she already has an impressive hospital record.

A combination of that record and my knowledge that she is my last child reminds me to appreciate every second with my children, to love watching them grow, to accept that they are here today but gone tomorrow, to love them all the more for their mortality because life is short.
Because someday, like flowers,
they'll be gone.


*****
*in memory of Katelyn Norman*
may her legacy live on to inspire us all
to better appreciation of life
and may the prayers of mothers everywhere
be with her family.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stop Number Three

Wow, stop number three on the Fat Chance book tour! Have you been following along? We still have over a week of stops to go on the tour and  I can't wait to see it all unfold!

The newest stop on the tour has the usual author spotlight/bio, but also features a review of the book.
You can find it over at Living In Your Own World, so go on and have a look. I promise it's worth your click ... I cried.

Curious now? Okay, go read it.
I'll wait here.

Back now?
What did you think?
I'd love to hear in the comments!

In the meantime, I'd really like to tell you what *I* think.
Because I've been thinking.

So far, I'm honestly still a little dazed. I like to think that things like this will never grow old to me, that I'll never truly get used to it. That I won't ever be jaded. And I intend to try as much as possible to sink into every new experience, to feel every bit of it and not let any of this dream-coming-true go to waste.

I've wanted to write since I was a child, growing up in a little house or apartment (we moved a bit) in a small town in Central Florida. The dream followed me into every drugstore (you know the paperback racks?), every bookstore, every library. Every computer I owned was a storage center for stories and poems, and when I didn't have one, I'd write the old way with paper and pen. (Well, if that doesn't sound aged ... "the old way!")

But you know that dream, that childhood dream. Every child has one, they each have some desire in their hearts and we encourage them even though we doubt they'll ever make it. We say, "Oh, sure honey, you're going to be the best rock star ever," or we smile down at little bouncing curls and we say, "That's right Sally, you will be President someday." But really, we don't mean it. We just think children are innocent, and no one wants to crush the innocence of a child (well, most of us don't, anyway). We can't bring ourselves to tell them that most of the time, a dream is just that, a dream, and that there isn't much chance of bringing a dream to life.

Then again ...

Every now and then, that happens. Every now and then, a little boy or girl who wants to be famous grows up to be famous. Every now and then, a child who wanted to be an astronaut really grows up and becomes an astronaut. Or a soldier/marine/airman/etc.

Sometimes, dreams can come true.

But what about a child who wants to be successful in the art field? A child who wants to be a sculptor, or a painter, a singer, or am actor?

Or a writer?

Those children have an entirely new destiny. They aren't just striving to make it in a field that requires adequate knowledge and expertise. They need something more. They need creativity, they need spunk, they need really thick skin. Why?

Because being an artist means you don't have a set rule of what's "good" and what's "bad." You have only the opinions of the public you're reaching out to, only the individual thoughts and feelings that meld together and create THE PUBLIC.

You're under review, every moment, every second, every day. Every move, and every opinion. As a writer, that means every word, from your facebook status to your twitter feed. And the reviews aren't always good. In the few short months I've been a published author, I've encountered good reviews and I've encountered bad. I've gotten things like:

"this is badly wrote"
(From a reviewer a while back, and may I say, that is one of my favorites to this day. Because the review was ... well, I like to think of it as "goodly wrote." If you know what I mean.)
and
"this isn't even worth copying"
(someone who apparently tried to right-click and copy one of my PicPrompts and couldn't because I've disabled that function. Because I won't make it easy for a THIEF to STEAL from me.)

But then there are the others, the good ones, the ones that encourage us as writers to keep typing when the words won't come, to keep thinking when the plot's all wrong, and chase a dream everyone might have deemed "impossible." There are the reviews that "get" the characters, who understand what the writer was saying, who relate and love an imperfect story with perfectly imperfect characters.

Those reviews? Those little "thank you's" from people who were touched by something I wrote, those people who take the time to tell me that my characters reached into their hearts and made an impact?

They touch me right back. They influence my next characters, my next stories. They inspire me to reach farther, to dig deeper, to try harder. They bring a little squeeze to my chest, they bring a smile to my face. They bring happy tears to my eyes.

And that? That's what keeps the stories coming.

So to anyone who has taken the time to thank me for telling them a story, let me just take a second to 

Thank You

for your support.
Thank you.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Stop Number Two

The second stop of the Fat Chance blog tour is now live!! Head on over to Confessions of the Paranormal to see an author spotlight (on me, oh my gosh!), a rerun excerpt from the book, and the video book trailer!!

And, don't forget to enter the giveaway if you haven't done that.
You'd be up for Fat Chance swag and maybe even a signed paperback!

Good Luck!

I still can't believe I'm on tour. I'm still waking up every morning thinking of my countdown-to-the-tour, reminding myself that the countdown is over. I'm on tour. Right here, in my home, on my couch, I'm on tour. I'm appearing all over the web in the next two weeks, for interviews and character spotlights and other things. I'm on tour. And it's for real.

I'm a writer now, in more ways than I ever thought possible.

And you know what? I love it. I love every little part of it.
To everyone who has helped or supported me, everyone who has made an effort to spread the word about me and my work, everyone who has purchased my books and read them, everyone who has reviewed my books, good or bad (but I prefer the good ones, thanks) ...

Thank you, so very much.
Your participation as a fan, however great or small, has been a part of making 
my lifelong dream
a reality.
Just know that I am eternally grateful.
Every single day.

*****

Find out more and check out the schedule 
on the Fat Chance Book Tour page.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Despite The Fear

It's an interesting feeling; sitting back and realizing that I'm doing a blog tour. My book is doing a blog tour. When I was younger, I almost always wanted to grow up and write, but I terrified myself out of it more times than I can count. I'd think about the idea of courting a publisher, and the entire idea was just horrifying to me.

Little me? Sending off letters to all these professionals who receive dozens, maybe hundreds, of the same letter every day. And they all boil down to the same thing: "I think I'm a writer. Actually, I think I'm a good writer. And I know I'm just one of so many with their hands in the air and their hearts on their sleeves, but I'm here. And I count, so pick me. Please pick me."

Could I write that? Knowing the risks? Knowing the sheer number of rejections that exist simply because every writer cannot succeed?

It's like American Idol. There are so many who enter that competition who can sing, men and women who feel their music with all of their hearts and may even have built up some sort of fan base. But they can't all make it. Only one can be number one. And only a few can hover close to that coveted place of fame and wealth and wonder.

I'm living in the same world as the greats. Right here in the US alone, we have writers like Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts. Danielle Steel. James Patterson. The rising Marie Force. Can I walk among them? Am I that good?

Maybe not. And so I said, yeah, but I'm okay. I'm better than okay. Writing is my craft, it's my thing. It always has been. I have to do it; I've never been able to go any length of time without writing something. It's a part of who I am. So if I'm scared of a publisher and all that that entails, with the risk of rejection, and heaven help me, all the risks of acceptance, then maybe what I need is an agent.

A liaison. A go-between. Someone who is on my side, who knows they will make their living from helping me to make a good living.

But they want the same thing, they all want that initial letter, that letter that is a piece of a writer's soul, sketched out on a paper that may or may not be in the garbage with the rest by the end of the day. I couldn't do it. I don't have a fancy bio. I don't have a dozen rewards, and I'm not part of sixteen writer's guilds or groups or clubs. Maybe someday I will be, but right now I'm just a woman with a love for stories and a somewhat decent ability to craft my own ideas into something other people can read and feel and value.

And then there was one other thing that terrified me. The one real thing that stopped me from taking the risks I desperately wanted to take.

You see, I'm a mommy, too. And that's been my job now, for nine years. In that time, I've maybe missed tucking my oldest daughter in ... oh, something like 8 times, maybe ten. I've put my girls to bed nearly every single night of their lives, and I've woken up with them nearly every single morning since they've been born. I feed them (well, not literally, anymore), I bathe them (same story), and when they'll listen, I teach them. I clean scrapes and break up fights and I know that they are well because I am here to ensure it.

Someday they'll be grown and gone, and I'm trying to make the best of the time that I have, and so I really value my status as a stay-at-home mom.

But you know, traditional publishing might have held that back, some. There would have been book tours if my writing did well, and I have always been told that it would. There may at some point have been some sorts of signings or interviews and things of that nature, and I couldn't have expected all of that to be right here in the heart of Knoxville, like a nine-to-five that would still allow me to feed them breakfast and kiss them goodnight.

So I waited. I put it off, and I told myself it wasn't my time yet, but that maybe, just maybe it would be soon. Soon. Someday. Maybe.

Finally, I couldn't wait anymore, and in November of 2012, I got serious and wrote my first novel, To Love A Selkie. After that, I promptly jumped the gun before I could chicken out, and I put it right out there, self-published without even a whisper about part II, To Become A Selkie, coming along at some unknown date. But that experience, and the things that I have learned since then, have been an integral part of how Fat Chance and the Kingsley Series idea came about.

So follow me on my very first tour, one that is mostly on my terms, and every bit of it straight from a little couch in a little apartment in the heart of Knoxville, Tennessee, where I'm still raising my babies while teaching them that it is possible to chase, and catch, a dream - despite your fears, and on your own terms.

Find out more and check out the schedule 
on the Fat Chance Book Tour page.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Rose, A PicPrompt

Please be aware that ALL of this writing is copyright protected as my own creative content, and NO PART of any post/story may be reproduced, copied or used in 
ANY WAY, ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME.


Image courtesy of Bill Perry | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Rose
copyright 2013, Brandi Kennedy

*****
My oldest daughter’s
favorite flower is the rose. She loves the always-perfect form, the musky maturity of it’s perfume. Even as a child, she loves the simple beauty of the age-old classic.



*****

Like a seed planted in the ground,
She grows,
Ever more each day.

Soft as the petals of a rose,
She embodies innocence,
Even in the awkward stages of growth.

Thorny as the pointed stem,
She grows prickly
In her youth.

And yet as she leaves behind
The tiny baby bud she used to be,
She becomes something
Ever more beautiful
In the form of a young woman.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"From The Afterlife" Excerpt

Please be aware that ALL of this writing is copyright protected as my own creative content, and NO PART of any post/story may be reproduced, copied or used in 
ANY WAY, ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME.


© Simon Lawrence  Dreamstime.com

From The Afterlife
copyright 2013, Brandi Kennedy

*****

I’d known that I would struggle.
I’d known that the diaries would be too much. But still …

I had to open them, to flip through the pages. I had to read them. He’d been keeping them for as long as I had known him, and I’d never once glanced between the covers of any of them, even when they came in the mail while he was out of town and he’d tell me to open the package and put the new book away.

For as long as I could remember, he’d kept his diary on the computer, putting line after line of his thoughts into the computer program he’d used all his life. Every year, he’d order the files printed, and he’d store the book away, saying that someday they might be needed. For what, I could never guess, but there I was reading them.

It had been months since his death, months since he’d been murdered in a cold convenience store robbery. Months since I’d lost him for the price of a six pack of Budweiser.

Months since I’d been instructed through his will to open these old dusty volumes and read them. This was the first time I had tried.

Nineteen ninety-eight. The scripted letters tumbled over the front cover of the book, and I smiled to myself. He’d never used just simple numbers on the covers, always preferring to spell everything out. Nineteen ninety-eight was the year we met, the year I lost my heart to him. Running my fingertip through the thick dust coating the book, I lifted the cover and flipped through the pages.

“She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” he’d written. “I don’t even know how to tell her I like her yet. How do you walk up to a goddess and say that you’ve fallen in love with the way she drinks her coffee, that her painted toenails drive you mad, peeking out from those blasted impractical sandals she’s always wearing?”

My eyes flooded, but laughter bubbled up from somewhere inside me, spilling out, the sound alien to me in the silence of our big house. He’d always hated my sandals, telling me that I was better off barefoot than in "that flimsy waste of good materials.” And maybe now I know why he wanted me to read these - maybe he wanted to be sure I would remember in the face of his death what we meant to each other during his life.

Skipping a few pages, I read some more.

“She’s angry with me. I don’t know what to do to fix it; but it’s killing me. I hate it when she’s angry with me, when I can’t walk up and touch her face without her eyes glaring. It’s like my fingers are dying, needing to touch her, to hold her and pull her to me.”

The sad thing now is that he didn’t mention what it was that I’d been angry about. I’d bet that if he were here he could tell me - but he isn’t and now I’m thinking of all the times I held a grudge, not realizing the depth of his fragility. It only took a knife, a simple kitchen knife shoved without mercy or consideration through the softness of his organs, and then he was gone. And now I would never have the chance to be angry with him again. Swiping away the tears on my face before they could fall into the pages of the book, I moved on.

Two thousand one. The year we had finally gotten married. Opening the cover, I flipped the pages until I found our wedding day, surprised to see that he’d added a wedding photo here, printed right into the book beside his entry.

“I’m finally doing it. I am marrying the woman of my dreams. We have these days where I feel that I don’t know her, or that she doesn’t know me, but then there are the good times, the days when I’m perfect and she’s perfect and everything is perfect because we’re together. Today is one of those days. In a few hours, I’ll watch her come to me, dressed in her finery like the fairy tale princess I’ve always believed her to be. And she’ll speak her vows, and I will speak mine. And we shall belong to each other always, after that.”

What a romantic he was! Such beautiful imagery. And yet, there I was, sitting on the floor with a tear-streaked face, dust covering the legs of my sweatpants, and a gaping hole in the stomach of my t-shirt. His t-shirt - the one I’d been wearing every night to sleep in since he died. A fairy tale princess? I thought not. But I smiled anyway, knowing that he saw that in me, that he looked into my average eyes and my average face and still saw royal beauty and undeniable worth.

Turning the pages, I settled into another entry. “She’s miscarried again,” he wrote, “and I’m helpless. I don’t know what to do. I can’t stop her tears, and no promise of ‘trying again’ eases her pain. She’s lost in her own grief now, and I don’t know how to get her back. Am I an animal then, to look into her eyes, sparkling with tears, and want to hold her close to me and take away her pain with the touch of my hands? Am I a horrible creature to see her flat beautiful stomach, and want to try again to swell it up with the seed of myself? She looks so lonely these days, so broken. And I’m just barely within my power not to touch her, because if I do I’m wrecking the doctor’s order to wait. But I'm weak and she's irresistible, always has been.”

Irresistible. He’d always told me that he found me irresistible, that he couldn’t keep his hands away from me. There were three more years of books to flip through after the one in my hands - three more years of my husband's thoughts and his inner life for me to look into. I won’t read them all word for word - he's gone and he left them to me, but reading his thoughts still feels like prying, like betrayal. Maybe someday ... but today is not the day.

The baby is due in a month, and I’m due to the doctor.

Setting the books aside, I brush at the legs of my pants, coughing in the dust as I awkwardly unfold my swollen body from the floor. He may be gone now, but his son will live on - and I have his diaries, love letters from the afterlife.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Road Alone, A Poem

Please be aware that ALL of this writing is copyright protected as my own creative content, and NO PART of any post/story may be reproduced, copied or used in ANY WAY, ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME. Links to (and comments on) this post are always welcome.


© John Wollwerth  Dreamstime.com

The Road Alone
copyright 2013, Brandi Kennedy


Some things cannot be undone. What you make a person feel in one single moment, with one carelessly spoken word or turn of phrase, if it's strong enough, may never be forgotten. This is written for every abandoned child, every person growing up unwanted, discarded, rejected. This is for every human suffering the pain of loss, the grief of being left behind, and the fear of never being enough.

It's a reminder that healing comes in the night, when you least expect it - or bit by bit, so slowly it goes almost unnoticed. A reminder that hope dawns with each new sunrise on the horizon. And that pain, like the rising tides, will always recede again.


I needed you -
can't say how many times I cried,
reaching out to try and touch
the broad back that was all I could see.

You live with a cold soul
and judge me with a bitter heart,
but what I needed was for you to love and support
the little girl that was me - the way a parent should.

Now, I go on, making my way, lacking your guidance;
I walk too often alone with my fingers
curling around a gentle hand that is
no longer there to hold.

Someday you'll be gone in body just as you are in spirit,
or perhaps it will be me who's gone -
but we shall meet again in Heaven.
Or at least, that's my prayer.

And I will stand there proud for once -
in belief of myself and who I became without you.
Proud, as I never could truly be before,
under the weight of your disapproval.

Because I have learned and I am stronger now,
without you beside me, without you to lean on -
in sight of the truth left behind
and finally free of the grief.

Edited to add: The Road Alone is an original poetic work by Brandi Kennedy, and is published here as a sneak peek into the heart and soul of what is now shared exclusively on Patreon. To view more writings like this one, please visit me and subscribe here. (July 2017)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Prescription For Love, Excerpt! (Choice #1)

Thanks to all of you who worked hard to spread the word about me on Facebook and TwitterAlso, thanks to those of you who wanted to see this excerpt bad enough to vote for it! I hope you enjoy it, and that you'll keep watching for more news on the upcoming release of Prescription For Love, book two in the Kingsley Series.

Please remember that this writing is copyright protected as my own, and that no part of this or any other post may be reproduced in any way, at any time. Links to (and comments on) this post are, as always, welcome and appreciated.


please bear in mind that this is a RAW excerpt, and has not yet been fully edited


Congratulating herself on the great success of a party she’d been planning for months, Cameron Kingsley double-checked the wine stock in the kitchen to make sure everything was holding up to the number of guests.

"You've outdone yourself again, love," her mother, Eva, murmured. Sneaking up behind her daughter to tweak the dark curls that spilled from her simple ponytail, Eva wrapped an arm around Cameron's slender waist. She pressed a small plate of hors d'oeuvres into Cameron's hand with a grin and said, "Now get out of here; you've done your duty. Your father and I are very proud of what you've done here. And we are so thankful for all the work you put into this."

"I know, Mom," Cameron said, leaning into her mother's embrace and inhaling the ever-present scent of cherry blossoms. "I was glad to do it, really. It's just nice, for a change, to be planning an anniversary party like yours. You know, instead of planning someone else's fifth wedding."

"Oh, my jaded girl." Eva's green eyes fluttered closed, and she shook her head sadly. "How can you be so disbelieving? You spend every day surrounded by people in love, people giving commitment to each other. You were raised here, with Adam and I, and I can’t think of a more genuinely happy couple than we are. How can you be so turned off to love?"

"Mom, seriously? I’m not turned off to love. I want to be in love, real love. Last month I went to a wedding I had worked, and it was fabulous. It was deeply spiritual, and everyone cried the whole time, talking about how in love the bride and groom were. They couldn’t get enough of how beautiful they were as a couple, how perfect everything was, and how lovely they would be as little old people together."

Eva looked into her daughter's face, arching an eyebrow. "And this is bad?"

"Well, no, actually. That part really was nice," Cameron smiled as triumph flashed in her mother's eyes. Time to deliver the punch line. "You know, except for the fact that the groom has been married four different times, and I planned two of his previous weddings. Not to be outdone, his blushing bride, in all her virginal innocence, has been married something like six times, I think."

"Good God!" Eva exclaimed, her mouth dropping open in surprise. "Where did she find the time? And where did all the husbands go?"

"Oh you know. Casualties of divorce court, I guess. And mark my words, mom, that's not the last time I see that couple. They were both still so angry over their past marriages, and the bride was already hateful, envious of the wives that came before her. She kept asking me, through the entire planning process, if any of the other wives had chosen this food, or that color, or this flower. It was obscene, really. And he's had so many wives; I guess soon I'll be able to just start recycling old plans."

"That sounds lovely dear," Eva replied dryly. "I do suppose though, it could make things a lot easier on the new brides coming in. All the planning already done by the predecessors, you know?"

"Hey, you girls, come on in here!" Cameron's father, Adam, waved from the kitchen archway. He stepped forward to kiss his wife gently on the forehead, and Cameron couldn't hold back a grin as she watched her parents together. Adam took his wife's hand and tucked it into his elbow. "Drew and Cassaundra want you to come open their gift, dear," he said.

Cameron rolled her eyes, leaving her untouched plate on the counter as she followed her parents from the kitchen. "He's too good at gifts, the wretch. I bet he's outdone me again," she muttered, making her parents laugh.

"Well, Cameron," her father said, glancing back at her over his shoulder, his smile still as youthful as ever, somewhat miraculous in his aged face. "Your brother just doesn't have your talent for parties. He has to come up with other ideas."

"Besides," Eva laughed. "Look at him; he cheated. Cassaundra looks as nervous about that gift as Drew does. I'd say they picked it together, whatever it is. And if I know my son, they bought the gift months ago. You know how he likes to be prepared."

"Mom, Dad," Drew said, pulling a chair closer to the gift table and holding it steady for his mother to be seated. He winked at Eva as she lowered into the chair, his eyes as green as hers had been in her youth, his hair the same dark shade as Cameron's, but sprinkled throughout with the premature gray of their father, Adam.

Cameron smiled, watching the two couples together; her parents beside her younger brother and his new love. Adam took his place behind his wife, resting his hands easily on her shoulders, while Drew stepped back to drape an arm around Cass. She lowered her eyes somewhat shyly, holding out a giant gift bag.

"I hope we did well with these," Cass said, placing the bag carefully at Eva's feet. As she rose, she tucked a wild bit of glossy chocolate hair behind her ear.

"Oh, I'll bet the wife loves whatever you kids have stuffed in there," Adam laughed. "You know, as long as it's perfect." Laughter spread through the room, amusement at the idea of Eva being hard to please. None of her children had ever given her a gift that she didn’t love, and they all knew that she could have received nothing and still been joyful.

"Let's all hope they bought something lousy!" shouted Drew's youngest brother, Evan. As the youngest of the Kingsley children, he was a total clown, but they loved his liveliness. "That way my gift looks extra awesome!"

As the happy rumble of laughter flowed again through the small crowd, Cameron slapped her brother's muscled shoulder playfully. "No heckling," she said, ducking as Evan reached to flick the tip of her nose.

“Heckling,” he muttered. “As if I’d be that rude to our gifted gift-shopper of a brother. I got them a quote book, Cam; I bet whatever’s in that bag makes my gift look like a kick in the shins.”

“Let it go, you know they aren’t like that,” Cameron muttered back, watching her mother dig into the depths of the gift bag Cass had placed in front of her.

"Oh, wow!" Eva pulled a fluff of tissue paper from the gift bag, reaching inside to remove an oversized cluster of amethyst crystal. Jagged purple spikes rose up from a dark base, sparkling and shimmering in the light. Other crystals followed in shades of emerald and rose, each one a sparkling illusion of fragility in the bright light of the room.

"Drew thought you might like them, surrounded with mirrors for your fireplace. You know, for the reflections," Cass said, a bit nervously. She’d been dating Drew for a little less than a year, and it had taken her a long time to feel even a little comfortable in the Kingsley family setting. She still wasn’t all the way relaxed with the whole crowd yet.

Cameron loved Cass though; watching her grow and bloom as part of the family made her somehow more beautiful, her dark eyes shining up at Drew, her pretty round face brightened by her smile. Jaded as Cameron was on the subject of love, she found herself hoping in spite of herself, wishing that Cass and Drew might someday share the love she saw in her own parents, Adam and Eva Kingsley. It kept her from spending too much time wishing for that sort of love in her own life, getting her hopes up for something she didn’t believe she could find.

"I have something else to say," Drew said, smiling down at Eva. She looked up at him expectantly, reaching to place the last of the crystals on the table in front of her. Cameron drew a breath; she'd made a career of planning weddings, watching the secret talk between lovers. She’d caught the look between Drew and Cassaundra; she knew what Drew was going to say, and so did Evan.

"Oh, wow, he's gonna do it, isn't he? Tie the knot, I mean?" he said, reaching up behind Cameron to tweak her ponytail. Making a mental note to cut it off later so that people would stop tugging it, Cameron pulled her ponytail over her shoulder, allowing the curls to tumble over her breast and spill toward her flat, slender stomach.

"I think so," she said, elbowing the firm hard presence that was Evan. "Shhh."

"-- And I'm just so inspired," Drew was saying, "watching you and Dad. Ever since I was a kid, you struggled to show me how important it is to find love. But you taught me too, that just companionship isn’t enough. You taught me to find the right one, not to settle for just anyone. You always told me, Mom, to find my match, and I remember so many talks when I was younger, sitting with you and trying not to die of boredom while you taught me what it meant to find someone who fits me perfectly."

"And you survived it, and now you have found your love," Eva said, rising from the chair to wrap her arm around the broad shoulders of her middle child, her second son. Allowing her hand to slide down and rest on Drew's chest, she turned to Cass, reaching the other hand out to bring Cass into the fold.

"I have," Drew said, looking down into Cass's slightly embarrassed face. He winked, and the intensity of color in face grew stronger, eliciting more laughter from the family surrounding them.

"And I hope," Eva whispered, her chin trembling with emotion as she took Cass' hand in both of hers, "that you two will share what I have shared with Adam. I wish good things for you, and I give my blessing." She turned again, placing Cass' hands together in the center of Drew's chest.

"You take care of my son, you hear?" She said to Cass, and it was apparent to everyone in the room that, married or not, Cassaundra Keaton was now a member of the Kingsley family. No one in the family moved or committed to anything without the blessing of Eva Kingsley, and no one second-guessed her judgment.

"Thank you, Mrs. Kingsley," Cass said tearfully, touched by the obvious move that Eva had made. It felt like an old ritual, watching Eva as she touched her son and then moved away, urging Cass into her place. Cass didn’t know that it was an old ritual, handed down from Adam’s own parents when they entrusted their own son to Eva’s love.

"Now, boy, you'd better not be finished yet," Adam warned, breaking the tenderness of the moment with his gruff voice. Holding up one hand, he waggled his fingers, raising an eyebrow in challenge. He widened his dark eyes dramatically, making a silly face at Drew.

"Of course," Drew said, winking again at Cass as he made a show of stepping back. Digging his hand into the pocket of his jeans, he widened his eyes theatrically, mocking his father. Moving to the other pocket, he made a show of digging in there as well.

"Oh dear God," he muttered. "It must be here somewhere!" He leaned forward, making everyone laugh as he pretended to peek down the front of Cassaundra's dress. She held her hands to her cleavage, mortified, which made everyone laugh harder. Finally, Drew slapped himself on the forehead.

"Right!" he exclaimed. Slipping two fingers down the back pocket of his jeans, he finally withdrew the engagement ring he'd given to Cass, returning it to her finger. She'd been wearing it privately for some months already, as they had taken some time to keep the engagement to themselves. Still, the time had come to break the news and Drew had wanted to be dramatic for his mother's sake, and so he'd placed the ring carefully in his pocket just before he and Cass had entered the party.

"Oh, Drew," Eva whispered, watching her son take Cassaundra's hand and slide the ring home on her finger. She lifted a finger to swipe under her eye as Drew and Cass turned to face her, together. Smiling, she held her hands out, taking Cass in her arms.

"Welcome to my family, daughter," she said.

"And now I'll be even more busy," Cameron muttered to Evan, unable to hold back her smile.

"Nah, I bet I can get them to hire me instead," he laughed back, elbowing her in the ribs. "You may be the wedding planner in the family, but everyone knows I'm the best at everything. All these fine examples to follow. I bet I could rock a wedding party."

"Oh shut up, Ev," Cameron laughed back, watching her mother rip the paper excitedly from another gift.

Later, as the evening wound down and the party cleared out, Adam and Eva lounged on the couch in their living room. Surrounded by their children, they gave thanks for forty years of marriage.

"It's been so long," Adam said, his voice raspy with age but still deep and reassuring. Slipping his arm around his wife, he looked down into her face, his dark eyes meeting her faded green. "Who ever thought we'd make it this far?"

"I did," Eva laughed. "It might have been longer by now, if you hadn't been so slow about it." She slapped his cheek playfully, her wedding band flickering in the light of the room.

"But now, look at us," she continued. "Here we are, our children here with us, and a new marriage coming to extend our family." She looked in turn at each of her children, speaking to them individually. "Cameron, my first child, take heart. Love is real, I promise you, and one day soon, it will rear up and take you in, and it will be strong and solid; you will find it delicious and so very wonderful. Stop doubting, my girl, and open your heart." She waited while Cameron rolled her eyes, embarrassed, and then she laughed and turned to the first of her sons.

"Michael. You must know how very proud we are of you, too. Running your own business, right from scratch. I remember when you learned to change a tire, and now look at you, spending every day under the hood of a car, doing what you love."

Waiting until he nodded acknowledgement, Eva looked again to Cameron. "Just like a true Kingsley, willing to start small and crawl up through the ranks to become just who you were meant to be. Both of you, I'm so proud to share this moment with you."

She lowered her eyes to Drew, who’d stretched out on his favorite rug in the house, his ankles crossed, his head pillowed in Cass’s lap. “Andrew. Look at who you’ve become. You go out every day to a job we’re all so proud of, making a career for yourself in a way that means something beyond the borders of our home. And this woman you’ve brought home to us; I couldn’t imagine a finer choice, son.”

Turning, Eva eyed her youngest children sternly. "And you two. Harmony and Evan. You two stay away from the opposite sex, until you've decided what to do with your lives, you hear me?" Everyone laughed, taking in Evan's horrified look.

"Mom?" he asked, pretending to be in terrible pain. "I'm a teenager. Telling me something like that is just downright mean. I need women! I need cheerleaders! They make football go 'round!"

"And me," Harmony giggled, rounding her stomach and rubbing small circles around the surface of her tiny waist. "Here I am, pregnant by the tattoo-covered biker from the butch bar, and now you tell me to stay away from boys? It's too late to be careful now!"

Cameron couldn't help laughing. She couldn't deny that she hoped someday to find true love, a strong bond that lasted through the challenges of time. She wanted a house full of children and laughter, a life full of good night kisses and good morning sex. But in the meantime, she just kept telling herself that she was plenty happy, surrounded by the love of her family.




So, what did you think of this first peek at the next book in the Kingsley Series? Are you as excited about this upcoming release as I am?? What are you most hoping to see as this series continues?

"Seduction" Excerpt

Please be aware that ALL of this writing is copyright protected as my own creative content, and NO PART of any post/story may be reproduced, copied or used in 
ANY WAY, ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME. Links to (and comments on) this post are always welcome.


© Luba V Nel  Dreamstime.com
Seduction
copyright 2013, Brandi Kennedy

*****

Lifting the edge of the window blind, I sighed.

It seemed like the thousandth time I had watched him walk out my door – the thousandth missed opportunity. I had wanted him since we were teenagers, but all he had ever seen in me was a “little sister,” the girl next door. And it didn’t help that with my parents dead, he felt responsible for me somehow.

Over the years, he had become the person I called in any emergency. He rescued me when my car broke down just outside of town; he slept on my couch one night when I thought an ex was stalking me. He cradled me in the strength of his arms when I found a dog hit by a car in my driveway.

If something broke at my house, he would fix it. He'd drop by sometimes, just to check on me, and one year when I was single, he even took me out for Valentine’s Day – to keep me from sitting at home alone, he had said teasingly. We'd text or talk on the phone many times a day, and I’ve grown to love it when something breaks in my house – because then I can call him over to fix it. I especially liked the night when my oven element went out right at dinner time, and he volunteered to stay for dinner, to make sure everything was working perfectly. That was our first movie night – I had just turned eighteen.

We’ve had probably a dozen movie nights since then, and I had really thought he was growing to see something different in me ... lately when he'd been at my house, it wasn’t uncommon for me to look over and catch him watching me; if I asked why he was looking at me, he'd just say, "No reason," and turn back to the movie or back to his plate. Or back to whatever he happened to be fixing.

It even got to be a joke between us, how often he had to come over to fix things in the old house I had inherited from my parents, and honestly, I’d started wondering if maybe I wasn’t somehow breaking things on purpose without even realizing it. So imagine my surprise when I went to take a shower tonight and found the shower broken. Half dressed, no less!

I spent my days doing secretarial work in a banker’s office, and I had worn a corset-style bustier to work that day under my usual women's pantsuit – I liked knowing that I could look professional at work while still feeling sexy underneath the suit. I had only come down to my corset and panties, and I was standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth when I reached into the tub and turned on the water with no problem at all. But when I'd tried to turn the shower on, the water had simply stopped coming at all – but I had to work the next day, and it was well after maintenance hours on our building, so I had no choice but to call Jeremy to come save me, again.

“Okay, surely I couldn’t have broken the shower, right?” I muttered to myself, staring at the tub in horror. “I mean, really. This is getting ridiculous.”

By the time he showed up, I had thrown on a robe to cover myself – but this time, I figured if the universe was going to keep throwing Jeremy and I together, the least I could do was be helpful. After all, it wasn’t like I didn’t want his attention. So I hadn't chosen the worn terrycloth robe I usually wore when I got out of the shower. No, instead, I had dug down to the bottom of my lingerie drawer to choose a black silk robe with lace trim that matched the camel-colored polka dots on my corset. The robe tied neatly at my waist and fell softly to just above my knees – modest enough to look like I wasn’t trying anything, but sexy enough to maybe make him think he could if he wanted to.

If I was willing to lie about my prowess, I could tell you that I seduced him by craftily letting the robe fall from one shoulder, that I accidentally let it fall too far open down the front, or even that I dropped something on purpose so that I could bend over to pick it up again. I could say that I used my feminine wiles to capture his attention – finally – and that he had found himself helpless and unable to resist. But I’m not willing to lie, and I didn't do any of those things.

And now I'm kicking myself for not doing any of those things, while still foolishly expecting him to just jump me like I'm some kind of … well, my grandmother would have probably called me a “street trollup” if she knew what I’d been hoping for.

Our interaction had gone just as smoothly and casually as always, with Jeremy giving nothing more than a cursory glance at my clothes, coupled with a curiously quirked eyebrow. He had taken down the shower head, cleared the clog that had somehow formed in the pipe just behind it, made fun of how everything around me seemed to break. I had joked that the house was falling down around me, and he had grinned, saying how lucky I was to have him next door to come dig me out of the rubble. Everything had been fixed and put back together within an hour and then he was gone, clearing his throat quietly just before telling me that he’d let me get back to my shower.

I have barely a minute to realize that he still hasn’t left the porch yet to walk across the space between our houses, and the sound of the doorbell shakes me from my thoughts. I walk from the window to the door, catching my lip between my teeth, wondering why he came back. He’s meticulous about his tools – there’s no way he could have forgotten something. But then I look through the tiny window to the side of the door, and he's there, one hand dragging its way through his hair, the other stuffed in the pocket of his jeans, his toolbox resting on the step at the edge of the porch.

"Hey, what are you doing back?" I ask, opening the door. I hold the front of my robe closed with one arm belted around my waist, watching his emotions flicker in his eyes, and swallow. He’s never done this before. "Um, you forget a wrench or something?" He meets my eyes, and I step back, opening the door further in silent invitation.

Stepping through, Jeremy shakes his head and comes further into my space; I release the doorknob and back away, giving him room and he kicks the door closed behind him, just as he always has. But this is different, and instead of making his way around me into the living room, he steps closer, into my space, almost right up against me, and frankly, I'm too shocked by the break in our routine to step back. I can't think of a time when he's ever come this close to touching me, and even as I recognize the deliciousness of his proximity, he moves closer.

Edited to add: Seduction has now been edited and revised, and has nearly doubled in length. The above portion is only a small snippet of the story, the whole of which is now available exclusively to my Patreon supporters. To view this story and others like it, please support my writing here. (March 2017)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Interviewing Lauren Dawes!

Lauren Dawes is the author of the Half Blood Series, an urban fantasy/paranormal series featuring werewolves, vampires and half-bloods, oh my. What's a half-blood, you ask? Well, you'll have to check out the books on amazon to find out. I swear, it's worth your time.

Her official bio warns (among other things) that, "You won't find any friendly vampires between the pages of her books; just blood, teeth and violence." But never fear - she's got a sweet side too - her bio also says, "When she's not writing, she's reading or teaching. She currently lives in Victoria, Australia with her husband and cat."

So let's just jump right into the interview, shall we?


*****


Brandi; How long have you been writing/wanting to write?

Lauren; I started properly writing in 2009, and it got so serious that I actually quit my job as an ESL teacher so that I could write full-time in August 2010. I was just really lucky to have my (now) husband be so supportive when it came to the financial side of things. Before that, my first attempt at writing a story was when I was 13. I wrote about 30 pages and it was finished. I really enjoyed doing creative writing while at high school, but I never really considered doing anything with it until much later.


Brandi; What gave you the idea for the Half Blood Series?

Lauren; I remember looking around the book stores and seeing the same kind of plotline over and over again. My first thought was: If these people can write a book, why can't I? My second thought was: Why do they have to be so tame? So, I went home and I started writing the first draft of half Blood in all its gory glory.


Brandi; How did you think up all of the things that Indi had been through, and were those things hard to write?

Lauren; I needed Indi to be an emotional wreck. I had to think about what kind of trauma would do that to a woman. Of course sexual assault was right on top of that list. I needed her to be broken, and for her to have put herself back together, but in a way that was skewed. She may have been "fixed," but underneath, the cracks were still showing. Writing some of the scenes was very emotionally draining. I would write them, then just leave my desk for a while and focus on something else. What happened to Indi was horrific, but the scariest thing about it was that it is a reality for so many other women.


Brandi; Where did the idea for a "half-blood" come from? When I read your books, that was something completely new to me, so it made me wonder a bit if there are any other books out there featuring the same concept that maybe inspired you.

Lauren; I guess the idea evolved because I hadn't really seen it anywhere else before. Richelle Mead has a similar concept in her 'Vampire Academy' series, but with that they were almost specially bred. Half-bloods are more anomalies. I started a novella explaining how they first came into being, but I haven't got around to finishing yet.


Brandi; I'd really love to see that! I also loved how each book sort of left off with the reader always wanting more, and sometimes a bit of a cliff hanger. Right up until the end of the third book, you keep the pages turning. Will there be a fourth book to satisfy the hunger of the Half Blood readers?

Lauren; Some people hate cliff hangers in books. Personally, I love them! I've definitely made some notes for another book with a focus on Alex D'Angelo. He was left writhing in agony the last time we saw him. There are a few other characters that need their stories told too, like Brax and Saxon, but I have no immediate plans for them just yet.


Brandi; Are you working on something currently? And if you are, what are you willing to tell about it?

Lauren; I am actually. It's still very hush-hush at the moment. It's an urban fantasy/paranormal romance story and all I can tell you is that it turns mythology on its head.


Brandi; Oooh, I'm intrigued! But if you can't tell any more, you can't tell any more. So we'll move on to this - what do you like best about the writing lifestyle?

Lauren; Not having to get up and go to 'work' in the morning. It's a very strange lifestyle. Some days you won't want to write a single word. Others, you might write 5000 in one sitting. Sometimes inspiration finds you in the morning; at other times in the dead of night (which is exactly what happened to me last night). When my husband is home, I generally stay away from the computer after dinner unless I still have something that needs to be written down. But when he's away, I sometimes stay up until 2 or 3am just working.


Brandi; Have you ever thought of doing a book tour or anything like that?

Lauren; I think I'll be doing a book tour with the next project. I like the idea of them. You get mass exposure which is always a good thing.


Brandi; Do you ever wish that traditional publishing had worked out?

Lauren; Sometimes, I see how some authors travel around to meet their fans and do book signings and I think that would be really fun. But at the same time, being an Indie, there's a lot more freedom so you can stay as true to your work as you want.


Brandi; What do you think are the real pros and cons to self-publishing?

Lauren; Great question - a tough one, but a great one.
  • PRO: Complete control over your work.
  • PRO: Monetary - you don't have to pay a commission to your agent/publisher. I'm not saying you don't have to pay any commission because that's not true. I published through Amazon's KDP and they still receive a royalty.
  • PRO: You can have fun getting promotional materials made up.
  • PRO: You're more connected with fans. i.e. you can have more interaction with them via social media.
  • CON: Self-promotion can be hard to do on your own. If you had an agent, some of that work would be done for you.
  • CON: If you are unable to do the work yourself, paying someone to make cover art up for you can get quite expensive. This goes for promotional items as well.
  • CON: You spend a lot of your time not just writing but also on social media, trying to build up your presence.


Brandi; If you could say anything to people out there who are writing their hearts out but afraid to pursue publishing or intimidated by the process, what would you say to them?

Lauren; Inspirational words ... I guess I would say don't give up. I know it sounds cliche and everything, but it's true. I had a friend who totally gave up on her own dream because of one rejection. Could you imagine a world where J.K. Rowling gave up on trying to sell Harry Potter just because she got rejected? I would also tell them to get in touch with other Indie authors. We all had to start somewhere, and it was all in the same spot. If you're struggling to find other Indies, look at book review blogs and get in touch with the blogger. They will point you in the right direction. The Indie world is a great one to be in. I'm always asking other Indies about where they got their promotional material made up, who their designers are, or how they went about doing something.


Brandi; Thanks for taking the time out of your top secret project to sit down to the burning questions. Is there anything else you'd like to say to readers/fans at this point?

Lauren; No problem. It was fun to get away from all the death and destruction for an afternoon. I'd like to just tell them to stay tuned for more Helheim pack boys, and get ready to fall in love with my new sexy characters (hopefully) in June 2013.

*****

Wanna stalk Lauren all over the web because she's so awesome? Yes? Well then, feel free to check her out on FacebookTwitter, her BlogGoodreads, her Website, and of course, on Amazon. I can personally vouch for how well-written her books are, and am endlessly impressed by her attention to detail both in the writing and in the production of the final product.