This is a completed manuscript that I haven't sent out yet. Thought I'd share the first part of Chapter One with you
Chapter One (Part 1)
"A tornado warning is now in effect for Charleston County, Berkeley County, and parts of Dorchester County. At approximately 6:45 p.m...."
Nicole switched off the television and gathered her purse and coat from the top of her desk in the back room of her antique shop. She didn’t want to be alone here during a storm. It didn’t feel safe. Few places did. A twenty minute drive would take her home with its tall wrought-iron gates and solid brick structure.
Her cell phone rang. Probably Katya calling to check on her. Her best friend for the past eight years, the woman knew close to everything about her, including the phobias that rendered her semi-functional.
"Hi, Kat. I'm heading out now."
"It doesn't look too bad on this side of town. Want to come hang out there?" Happily married with two small children, Kat had opened her doors more than once to Nicole when one of her fears had kicked in.
"No, I think it'll pass." As she clicked the lock into place securing her antique shop, a chill ran down her spin. A sense of deja vu passed over her.
A severe storm had taken away her security nine years ago, giving her best friend's boyfriend the distraction he'd needed to get close to her. To trap her inside the small office building which held her law practice. And…
"Are you sure?" Worry coated Kat's voice. "Jim doesn't mind. He's draped over the sofa watching baseball. An occasional curse word gets thrown in when the satellite fades out from the wind."
"I thought you said it wasn't bad over there." Nicole made it to her car in record time, the swish of the palm trees rubbing her nerves. She climbed behind the wheel of her comfortable sedan with every bell and whistle she could get for security purposes and punched the ignition button. The doors locked automatically.
"I said it didn't look too bad, and I wasn't lying. A burst of wind every now and then isn't bad." Kat huffed out a breath. "Come on over. I've got stroganoff ready, and the little ones will be in bed within the hour. We could have a glass of wine, chat, and try to tune out Jim's salty language together."
Nicole smiled at the picture her friend painted. She did love spending time with Kat's family. They'd become her own, providing her that familial tie she didn't have through any blood relatives. Caving in, she turned her car in the opposite direction of home. "Okay, but once the storm dies down, I need to get home. I have to be at the shop early tomorrow to get ready for Saturday's sale."
"Sounds like a plan. I'll set out another plate."
Her hands white-knuckling the steering wheel, Nicole said goodbye to her friend and focused on the road. Overhead, the sky had darkened to an ominous gray with streaks of green. Palms slickened with sweat, she tried to remain focused on the road, to ignore the warning signs.
Heart thundering in her chest, she pressed the accelerator and, using her thumb, turned on the radio, expecting the soothing sounds of classical music. Instead, an ominous voice shared the unwelcome news that a funnel cloud had been spotted near Kat's neighborhood.
Panic threatening to choke her, Nicole punched another button to direct dial Kat from her car's Bluetooth. "Kat, a funnel cloud's just been spotted right around the corner from you."
"I know. The warning just interrupted the baseball game. We're taking precautions. Maybe it's best if you do go home and batten down the hatches. I'll call you as soon as this passes." Kat paused before adding in a firm tone. "And it will pass."
With her friend's reassurances ringing in her ears, Nicole took the first exit to backtrack toward home, her body shaking with each mile.
By the time she reached her house, tears coursed down her cheeks, and her hands shook so badly she could barely press the button on the garage opener.
"Get a hold of yourself, Nicole. Nothing is going to happen. You're safe."
The self-talk helped a little, but it was only when she was inside and had bolted all the locks in place that she managed to draw a deep breath. But she couldn't stop herself from turning on the TV to watch the path of the storm.
Storms paralyzed her. And years of therapy hadn't eased any of the crushing anxiety that overwhelmed her with each weather warning.
Hours later, after the storm had moved on, Nicole she pushed herself up off the couch and stumbled down the hallway to her bedroom, one hand covering the scar that bisected her abdominal cavity. Though the night had fallen quiet, she wouldn’t sleep. The bad weather could return, and she had to stay on guard even though her attacker had died nine years ago.
A really great friend of mine, who is also an author, prompted me last week to submit one of my books to Kindle Scout. I have been waiting to decide what to do with Outliving Her Past for a couple of months, and when she emailed me, I took it as a sign and entered!
The nomination period runs for thirty days and will end on May 12th, which, incidentally, is the day before my birthday! This is the kind of present I would love!
I was born in 1968 which, now, seems like a very long time ago. I have now lived 17, 841 days. Now it really seems like a long time.
In less than 56 days, I'll turn 49, and it's made me reflect on how different things are now than when I grew up in the seventies and eighties.
I lived in a time where technology was a telephone, a color television, and, if you were lucky, a microwave which we didn't have at all. I never had a microwave until I was in my twenties, and I didn't have cable TV until I was in my late twenties.
I still remember having to pay for long distance on a landline, stopping to use a payphone when I was on a long trip, needing cash to buy practically everything because you could only use your ATM card to extract cash .
When I was born, gas was $0.34 per gallon. Where I live now, gas is $2.04 a gallon. The average cost of a new car was less than $3,000. A new car in 2017 is easily over $14,000, most even higher than that. The hourly wage was $1.60 an hour, and when I was able to work when I was sixteen, the hourly wage was $3.35.
In 1968, you could buy a new house for less than $15,000. Where I live today, it's not easy to find a house for less than $80,000, and those usually aren't in the best neighborhoods.
I didn't get a car when I turned sixteen or even when I graduated from high school. My first car I bought myself when I was twenty. Before that, I took the bus, walked, or rode with friends, but then taking the bus and walking was a lot safer than it is now.
In my teens, everyone knew everyone in the neighborhood, and the neighbors had no problem with ratting you out to your parents if you skipped school. Ask me how I know. The parents all watched out for one another's kids. Most nights and even weekends, we were home because movies and going out to eat were luxuries that didn't happen very often.
We had to find free ways to entertain ourselves, and that's what drew me to reading. I could check the books out from the library and read a dozen in one weekend. I still miss having that kind of time.
What do you remember about your childhood? What do you miss?
I write about killers a lot. When you write suspense, that's not unusual. In my latest suspense release, Last Showing, I introduced you to Stefan Greenwald, a particularly nasty guy who liked killing because he could. I won't tell you what happened to Stefan in my book because I'd like for you to read more about him first.
I like killing. I know what that makes me sound like, but it’s who I am. There’s just something about watching the life drain out of someone’s eyes. It makes me feel powerful. I like to hear them beg me to spare them. If they looked close enough into my eyes, they’d see it wasn’t going to happen. I’m not the sparing kind.
I’ll bet you think I started killing people when my mama walked out on me and Luther. You’d be wrong. It didn’t have anything to do with her. I think I was born this way. All I know is I’ve had this desire inside of me since way before I can remember. And I ain’t interested in it going away.
Having the power to allow someone to live or die is exhilarating. Of course I never let them live. That'd be too merciful, and mercy ain't ever done anything for me. Besides that, I can't leave behind witnesses. I have enough trouble keeping up with my dumb brother who, by the way, is the reason I was caught and sent to prison the first time.
Do I think the cops will get me again? I never really think about it. If it happens, it happens. I’ve already been to prison. I can go back. I killed people in there, too, and I got away with it. It’s hard to prove who killed an inmate when no one’s talking. And no one talked about me in prison. They knew better.
I suppose this will all have to end some day, but until then, I’m going to keep having fun. And before you think you’re safe, I ain’t particular about the women I kill. I’ve even taken out a few guys. No one is safe when I’m in their town. So you’d better hope the cops catch me again.
I've been interviewed by Lisa Haselton's Reviews, and with it, I included a special excerpt from my latest release, Last Showing. You can't get this excerpt anywhere else so check it out here.
And please let me know your thoughts in the comments on Lisa's blog.
Writing isn't a hobby for me. It's my dream. My goal. I can't imagine doing anything else, and while I could still write without readers, it wouldn't be half as much fun. Well, not really even a quarter. That's why, when I saw this post on bookmarket.com, I wanted to share it here. 51 Ways to Help a Book Author You Love.
I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate my readers. Your support means everything to me and to every author who sits behind a keyboard every night.
Every week is hectic when you're a writer, especially when you're on an eat-what-you-kill plan, which means you don't have a steady paycheck coming in. You only get paid when you sell books, articles, or whatever other type writing you can use to churn out a dollar.
Since I have a book release coming up at the end of this month, I wanted to give you a quick behind-the-scenes look at my nightly schedule for the last couple of weeks. My schedule starts around 9:00 p.m. and ends around 3:00 a.m.
Over the years, readers have asked me where I get my inspiration from. Usually, I've told them life in general, that I can look at things around me and get an idea. With my upcoming suspense novel, Last Showing, the idea came to me when I was looking to buy a house back in 2012.
I had a wonderful real estate agent, and she and I talked about my writing and what type of books we liked. As she showed me houses, I asked her if she'd ever had any scary showings with potential buyers. Were there any creeps she had to deal with? Fortunately, she said no, but my brain started spinning. I got the idea for a real estate agent who shows a house to a serial killer. I told Jennifer (my agent) about my idea, and she wanted to be in the book!
I started writing this book in 2013, but I put it aside when the muse wasn't cooperating. It's never taken me this long to write a book, but I wanted to make sure this one was done right. I wrote it, finished it, then decided I didn't like the story line so I rewrote it this year. Well, most of it anyway. I hope I did it justice, and I hope you (and Jennifer) like Last Showing. It releases on November 30th!
When I started looking to buy a house in December 2012, I met my wonderful real estate agent who led me to my house within a month. Along the way, though, we got to know one another, and through our talks and my interest in her career, a story idea was born. Jennifer Young, the young real estate agent in Last Showing, is my agent. She graciously allowed herself to be written into the novel, and I got a kick out of writing her! The book debuts on November 30th! In the meantime, here's a peek at what you can expect!
First post for a new blog challenge, and I have to be critical of the one thing I really love online, and that's social media. I'm a huge fan of all things social, but I do know there are downsides to it. So I'm going to give this my best shot.
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!