Thursday, December 30, 2010

HOUND OF ANNWYN - Chapter Two- Jude

HOUND OF ANNWYN is written from alternating chapter viewpoints for Juliet and Jude. This enabled me to explore the twin's motivations and misconceptions in a unique way--through the eyes of their sibling.

7:15 a.m.

Jude listened to Juliet clanking about in the kitchen, and knew he had less than ten minutes to think up a reason for her to ride the bus to school that morning. When they were kids, she could read him like a Dr. Seuss book, and proved a couple of times that he shouldn’t bet his allowance when playing against her in poker. Over the last year, she’d either gotten less perceptive or he’d gotten better at hiding his emotions because she seemed clueless about the many lies he had been feeding her lately.

Too bad the stench of charred eggs wafting from the kitchen made it almost impossible to think up a good excuse. He shoved his fist against his churning stomach and breathed in through his mouth. The vomit creeping up his throat settled back down. For now.

The flickering television screen captured his attention as a dark, storm cloud with a frowny face floated over the map of Ponderosa. The Weather Channel forecasted a severe winter storm—white-out conditions—totally treacherous and the perfect excuse for him to take the car so he could get home after tonight’s basketball game. Juliet wouldn’t want to be stuck at school. School spirit didn’t go with her “everyone go to hell” attitude.

He focused on the television screen and managed to ignore the burble in his gut until Juliet called him to come eat. His stomach’s reaction to her voice doubled him over.

No way. No way could he stomach another attempt at her being Susie Homemaker. He needed to get out of the house—fast.

 Jude glared at his sister, wishing she’d back off. “What? Did I ask you to fix breakfast?”

Juliet’s trademark scowl creased her forehead. “No.”

“Do you think I’m stupid?”

She turned her kohl-rimmed eyes toward him in disdain. “Am I supposed to answer that?”

Jude threw the television remote. It bounced off the edge of the sofa, hit the floor, and rolled under the coffee table. Don’t throw up…don’t throw up. He balled his fists tight to hide their trembling and sucked in a deep breath.

“Cut it out! I made myself breakfast. I thought I’d play the good twin and make extra. Why are you being such a jerk?”

Be calm, don’t lose it. Not now. The problem was that he couldn’t seem to calm down. Juliet watched him, studying his expressions, looking for a weakness that she could use against him. God, I gotta get out of here! The smell—ugh, thinking about the burnt sulfur taint in the air made bile rise in his throat, but he swallowed it back down. He winced at the sound of the plate being slammed on the table. The eggs slid off the edge in a greasy waterfall. Shit, how can she screw up eggs? Even he knew enough not to cook them in day old bacon grease.

He felt a twinge of guilt at the hurt stamped on her face. She’d tried. True, breakfast was a disaster of epic proportions, but he appreciated the effort. Under normal circumstances, he’d sneak into the bathroom for a preemptive swig of Pepto Bizmol and force a few bites. Given the way he felt this morning, he’d probably die from indigestion even with the pink stuff coating his stomach.

Jude wished he could explain, but she’d be hurt less if he kept the ‘you’re trying to murder me with your cooking’ defense to himself. “If I was hungry—I’d eat. You’re not my mother. Being born five minutes earlier doesn’t give you the right to boss me around.”

He leaned back on the sofa in surprise, listening to himself. Where in the hell had those words came from? They sort of flew out of his mouth. Now that they’d been said, he realized he meant them. He shoved his feet into his hiking boots, but his eyes remained glued on his sister.

Juliet met his glare with one of her own. “Eighteen years is too long to stay pissed off about birth order. Get over it.” She rolled her eyes. “Socks, Jude.”

Get over it? That’s all she had to say?

“Back off!” Jude slapped his hands against the edge of the sofa. As he rose, the sofa shot out from beneath his hands. He stumbled, off balance for a second then froze. It had only moved a few inches, but the screech of the sofa’s wooden feet scraping against the hardwood floor seemed loud in his ears. His gaze darted to his sister, horrified.

“Fine baby brother, walk around with wet feet. Be angry. I don’t know why I care.”

Jude blinked sweat out of his eyes. She hadn’t noticed. How could she miss the sofa sliding out of his hands as if running away from him? He latched onto her words, focusing on his anger to cover his growing panic. “That’s the problem,” he said. “You don’t care. If you did, you’d cut it out! All you care about is being right. Being smarter …”

Juliet’s hands flew to her hips. “Is that why you tried to brain me with the alarm clock? ‘Cause if anyone should be having a temper tantrum it’s me. But, oh no, as usual it’s all about poor Jude. Nobody cares. Nobody understands his pain, blah...blah, blah.”

He wanted to close his eyes, wanted to block out the image of the clock. He had to focus—think calming thoughts—but his heart raced and his breaths came in ragged gasps that he could barely keep quiet. Each derisive word she spoke stung like splinters being jabbed under his fingernails, dulling his ability to concentrate.

He blinked, a red tint blurred his vision, and it looked like his sister had been washed in blood. He tore his eyes from her face, staring over her shoulder at the skillet sitting on the stove.

No. Don’t think about it. 

The skillet shuddered. To anyone else, the minute vibration would have gone unnoticed.  Desperate to keep Juliet from turning around, he blurted out the worst thing he could think of and hated himself when the words crossed his lips. “Mom’s dead. I don’t need the person who killed her taking her place. Stop trying. It makes you look desperate.”

Juliet’s face drained of color, and her caramel skin took on a greenish-yellow tint. She looked about to vomit in her plate of scrambled eggs. She squeezed her eyes shut, but tears escaped from the corners to trickle down her cheeks. She pulled out a chair and dropped onto it.

Jude took a deep breath, heart thudding in his chest when he tore his eyes from Juliet and focused again on the skillet. Shit!

He hadn’t seen it move. He sure as hell hadn’t directed it toward his sister, but it floated through the air until it hovered in silent menace directly behind Juliet’s head. He’d lost control again, and he didn’t know how to get it back.

Calm down. Deep breaths…focus. The skillet spun in a lazy circle as if taunting him. He imagined a giant hand of air wrapped around the handle and concentrated on pushing the skillet toward the stove, one slow inch at a time. It fought him. His subconscious appeared to be stronger than his conscious mind. And for some reason, it wanted to kill his sister.

Catch Juliet's Chapter ONE along with the QUERY LETTER  for Hound of Annwyn by clicking on the link.

Friday, November 19, 2010


This is the query I'm currently using and it's working. Yay!! Happy dance. Of course, any suggestions to improve are welcome. I love feedback. I've also included the first two pages of the story. Let me know what you think?

Juliet finishes Jude’s sentences, feels his pain, and gleefully exploits the fact that he can’t bluff her in poker. She takes their psychic connection for granted until her heart stops beating at the exact moment that her twin brother dies in a car accident. Nearly eight minutes elapses before their resurrection.

A year later, seventeen-year-old Juliet’s near-death experience continues to haunt her. A ghost contacts her in the high school bathroom and a sexy, albeit annoyingly conceited boy with wings—who claims to be her guardian, but definitely no angel—saves her after she’s attacked by a hell hound in the woods.

Her brother’s emerging, uncontrolled empathic and telekinetic abilities—he accidentally hurls an alarm clock at Juliet’s head while she sleeps—are eroding his humanity and threaten to blow their familial bond apart at a time when they need to be united.

Unaware that the darkness infecting their relationship is a manifestation of the evil that returned with them from the underworld, its taint spreads unchecked through their small mountain town. If the twins can’t resolve their differences and link their powers, neither they nor the people they care about will survive. And this time, death’s grip will be eternal.

5:45 a.m.

Juliet jerked awake as the alarm clock smashed against the headboard and rained thick chunks of plastic onto her pillow. The jagged faceplate, landed with the pointy end an inch from her eye. She fought free of the blanket tangled around her arms and legs and rolled off the edge of the bed. As she fell, her chin slammed against the edge of the nightstand. She touched the tip of a trembling finger to her swelling lip.

Damn it! Not again.

The jerk wad.
It wasn’t that Jude had frightened her, oh no, she’d never admit to that, even under pain of torture, and especially not to him. What pissed her off so bad she could barely see straight was he’d broken their unspoken truce and had gotten in the first shot of the day in their ongoing war. A war she planned to win or die fighting.

A shiver slid down her spine. What was he waiting for? Was he sneaking up on her? No way did she want to peek over edge of the bed to check his position—might as well stick a bull’s-eye smack in the middle of her forehead.

This is stupid. Don’t hide from him. Pain shot through her injured elbow as she slid her hand under her pillow and pulled out the gun she’d stashed there last night—in case Jude played dirty—then gathered the shattered remains of the alarm clock in the other hand. She licked the blood off her lip and pushed to her feet.

An eerie calm settled over her as she studied the shrouded lump in the twin bed across the room. Now that her heartbeat no longer pounded in her ears, she heard her brother’s muffled snores. She kept the weapon pointed at the floor, but her finger hovered over the trigger. She tiptoed forward, each step deliberate. She concentrated on breathing, a slow inhale and exhale—soundless. With each step, she expected him to pop out of bed like an old-fashioned TV mummy from its sarcophagus, with outstretched arms and spine tingling moans. Her body felt jittery, ready to dodge if he threw something else at her.

Either Jude had been faking being asleep or he sensed her hovering over his bed. A single eyelid rolled up to peek up at her. Her hand trembled as she aimed the barrel of the hot-pink water gun at his eyeball. “Why’d you do it?” she hissed.

He yawned.

“Talk fast, jerk. You freaked me out so bad my trigger finger’s twitchy. Not sure how long I can control myself.”

“Is the water gun supposed to make me pee my pants?” his voice oozed sarcasm like a popped zit.
Juliet let out a muted squeal of rage and pulled the trigger. A stream of water laced with Tabasco sauce squirted out of the plastic water gun. At the last minute, she lifted the end of the barrel, not ready to blind him—yet.

“Are you crazy?” Jude wiped frantically at his forehead before the liquid ran into his eyes.

“Gee, Jude, everyone seems to think I am, so why not live up to my psycho rep.”

“This is stupid—”

“Oh, now I’m stupid?” Her voice rose to ear bleeding pitch. “So sick of the insults, evil twin. I’m not the one who started this. You chucked the clock at me. That’s crazy. And I want to know why?”

“The words you speak make no sense.” Jude rubbed at his eyes then yelped. “Oh, crap! What is this stuff? It burns.”

Juliet leveled the gun at him again.

He jerked the comforter over his head. “I told you. I don’t know what you’re talking about. And I don’t care. I’m done. Go away, Jules.”

She lowered her hand and stared at the bed, biting her lip. The thing about Jude—he couldn’t lie to save his life. Not for lack of trying, but she knew his quirks, and during the conversation, his body language told her he believed he insanity spewing from his lips.

The hand clutching the clock shards, tightened. A jagged edge dug into her flesh, reminding her that she hadn’t imagined the whole thing. Maybe he threw it in his sleep? Sleep tossing instead of sleepwalking? A mystery medical condition? Bah, doubtful.

Juliet dropped the plastic pieces on top of his bundled head. “Whatever. Pretend nothing’s wrong, but I’ll get you back for this.”

“The only thing wrong is you’re insane,” he said, voice muffled by the blanket. “Get back on your side of the room.”

As much as Juliet wanted to drag him out of bed, she decided to let him go back to sleep. Maybe by the time he got up he’d be civil. Not having to look at his stupid face would give her a chance to calm down before she gave into the overwhelming urge to strangle him with his own sheets.

Click on the link to check out JUDE'S CHAPTER.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Excerpt of FIRE


Rhiannon descended into hell of her own free will. The Butte Lightning Complex fire had been burning for two days and reports from the CAL Fire had it stopped at the river. Once the wind shifted, the fear was that it would jump the river, and make its wild destructive dash straight through the canyon below. Before that happened, she had to get the canyon evacuated. There was one house left on her route. Just one last person to cajole, beg, threaten with certain death if they didn’t pack up their belongings and hit the road within the next two hours.

Her sigh turned into a hacking cough that tightened her lungs with pain. The smoke was thick and acrid, full of burning chemicals. It was toxic. Even with the windows rolled up it seeped through the cracks and vents in the truck. The taste was thick on her tongue. Her lungs burned and with each shallow breath she choked. Biting tears stung her eyes; tears trickled down her cheek until her vision was a red tinged blur.

She fumbled in desperation for the controls to the air conditioner, banging a fist to the top of the dash, when nothing but smoky air sputtered out, at the same time trying to keep an eye on the was one lane dirt road winding down into the canyon.

The radio crackled and she jumped. “Shoot!”

The faded voice of the dispatcher came over the line. “Probation 21, give me your location?”

Rhiannon grabbed for the radio mic, cursing under her breath when it dropped to the floor. She bent over, fingers stretching for the cord. The mic had rolled under the passenger seat. Again. Darn thing never stayed put. Always popping out of the holder and she’d have to stop to fumble around for it. Cheap ass… county vehicle…

Her eyes moved from the road… just for a minute, but it was enough. Several cars had passed her earlier. They had maneuvered safe passage through cooperation; but, the big camper that barreled towards her seemed determined to force its way past her. The jerk ignored the steep drop off on her side of the road, shoving forward with spinning wheels.

She jerked the wheel, pulling as far to the right as possible. A high pitch screech of metal filled the air as the camper’s side swiped her car, pushing it so that the back tires slid over the edge. She slammed her hand down on the horn. Her pulse boomed in her ears and her breath caught in panic at the surge again from the camper. Her foot trembled on the brake as she willed the car to stay put, for the camper to stop… but whoever was driving made no attempt to slow down.

Rhiannon threw open the car door, jerked free of the seat belt and hurled herself out of the car just as the back end of the car continued its slow downward slide in the loose gravel. The sting of rocks cutting into her hands and knees barely penetrated her terror as scrambled to try and stop her decent. She caught a branch, hand sliding down the ragged bark. Her shoulder wrenched at the sudden stop. She cried out but refused to let go. No way was she letting go. Not when the branch was the only thing between her and the edge of the cliff mere inches from her feet.

She’d landed on her knees. She watched over her shoulder in horror as the car pick up speed, rolling down the embankment. Trees splintered then a loud crash as the buick came to rest fifty feet below. It didn’t explode…thank God. She rolled onto her back staring up at smoke filled sky. To her west she could see the orange red glow of the fire painting the sky and she cursed herself for being such an idiot.

Two hours. They said there were two hours before the predicted wind shift. She had two hours to figure a way to get her ass out of the canyon. With no car… She sat up. Her body screamed in protest, literally, she screamed as the pain hit. Her shoulder, her hands, knees. Every exposed surface was covered in burns from hitting and sliding through the gravel. She tightened her grip on the branch as rocks began sliding from beneath her feet, heading for the drop off. Looking up was worse than looking down. The edge of the road was so far overhead, and there didn’t seem to be an easy way to climb back to the road. She twisted sideways, scissor-kicked her legs and inched toward the scrubbed trail just to her left. It wasn’t much more than a deer trail. It seemed to head into the canyon, but it might also dead end before hitting the bottom.

Not a whole lot of choice here, Rhia, she thought. Down or up? Down being easiest. Getting up was more difficult than crawling. Crawling would have her still on this path when the fire arrived. Again, not a lot of choices. Not if she wanted to live. And she did, want to live. Plus, down would take her to the last house on her list. If they hadn’t already headed for high ground, maybe she could catch a ride, borrow a car. Use their phone to call for help if the line was still up. The power was off in some areas. There also weren’t a lot of resources available for rescues, not with the fire burning houses across the river.

That’s why she was doing the job of a firefighter. She had volunteered, being law enforcement, she had to help. But, she didn’t have much in the way of training.
Choice made.
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