So, I have some news:
My fabulous agent and I have decided to self-publish a novella! Anchored went on sale yesterday as an e-book. It’s set in the same paranormal world as Questionable Miracles (my Golden Heart finaling manuscript), and it tells the story of Susannah March, a winged guardian charged with protecting the city of Biloxi, Mississippi. That’s no easy task in hurricane country, but Susannah is a brutally powerful supernatural warrior, and there's no problem she can't handle, usually by beheading it. Her biggest challenge is accepting help when she needs it, which is why the arrival of an inconveniently sexy supernatural healer named Jason Delacourt sets her completely off-balance. You can read the full blurb here, and you can get to know Susannah in the excerpt below:
I stood over the body and cursed.“There’s nothing you could’ve done,” Max said. “She lost too much blood.”I allowed myself a single display of temper: I punched through the wooden railing of the beachside boardwalk.“That’s going to confuse the police,” he said, looking at the splintered wood.“Let it.”I turned and strode for the beach. My hand was bleeding, and I picked splinters out of my knuckles as we walked. I have a high tolerance for pain, but I was dripping blood all over the sand, so I ripped off one of my sleeves and bound my knuckles with it. Max politely said nothing and got out his cell phone to call in an anonymous tip.The police wouldn’t know what to make of her anyway, a bloodless body without a mark. It was part of my job to keep them from suspecting the supernatural existed, but I couldn’t put blood back in that girl’s body, and I wasn’t going to hide it and make her family spend decades hoping she was still alive. She’d looked to be nineteen, maybe younger. What a fucking waste.It was late, almost two a. m., so I didn’t bother with a glamour as Max and I went up the deserted beach to my diner. My wings drifted behind me, and I walked to the edge of the water where the sand was firmer, letting my right wingtip trail through the still-warm water of the gulf. I could already see the lights of my restaurant ahead. The bastard had killed within two hundred yards of it. It was an insult.“They’re on their way,” Max said, pocketing his phone and coming into step with me. “It’s good we found her before the storm hit.”“Yes.” There was a good chance her body would’ve been dragged out to sea by the hurricane if we’d just left her there.“There’ll be more questions this way.”“There will.”He fell silent while we walked. He knew better than to try and comfort me; we’d been working together too long.We reached my diner, the front covered by a corrugated steel security gate, and I took out the key and unlocked it.“You going to ride it out here?” Max’s normally carefree face was concerned. He was a telepath—he knew what I’d planned already—but he liked to give me the illusion of privacy.“You can go,” I said. “Go take care of Kaitlin or Kathy or whatever her name is.”“Kellie.” He flashed a grin that was almost apologetic. “Thanks.”I flapped my hand at him, and he took off for his car.After he’d sped down the empty street, I stood on the front porch and looked at the stacks of plywood waiting to be nailed up. Max and I had almost finished boarding up the windows when I’d felt the near-death terror of the victim and gone racing down the beach. There were still three more to go. The Sand Angel Grill had been through seven hurricanes since I’d owned it, and this wouldn’t be the first one to blow it down, but Mandy was a small storm, and I was hoping to get away without too much damage.I picked up the hammer, held a half dozen nails between my lips and went to work on the last few windows. It had been a long time since I’d gotten an alarm like that. I was Biloxi’s guardian, a sort of supernatural police chief, so when something went wrong in the city, I could feel it. Usually, I sensed rogue sups before they got into any trouble. Not this time. The vampire who attacked that girl must have been a powerful one. Old enough to have control over his bloodlust, to know how to keep me from sensing him. It was troubling. I slammed the last nail in and tossed the hammer behind my cash register. It would do.I should’ve gone inside to get what rest I could before the storm hit, but I was too unsettled. Natural disasters are difficult times for guardians. There’s not much we can do about them—nothing to fight—and the chaos was going to weaken my communion with the city. Max was smart to take off for his girlfriend’s. For the next two days, I was going to be difficult to be around. More difficult, Max would say.But the storm wouldn’t hit for a few hours. I had time. I left the security gate open and walked barefoot onto the beach.The sky was full of beautiful fury, all rolling blue-grey clouds above a white-capped sea. The beach was still deserted, so I kept my glamour down as I walked to the water and stretched my wings. It was a relief after keeping them furled all day. My glamour kept them from being seen, but that didn’t mean the wait staff couldn’t run into them. Once, out on the beach at sunrise, I’d been stretching them out and a jogger had run right into them and gone sprawling. She’d convinced herself she’d tripped, but I’d never seen her take that path again.It had been a busy day even before I started chasing rogue vampires—everyone grabbing sandwiches so they’d have more time to board up and batten down. It wouldn’t make up for the week of lost business after the storm, but it was something. My feet were sore, my wing crests ached, and my feathers were sticky with sweat and grease. I wanted nothing more than to dive into the ocean. I didn’t have my swimsuit, but I didn’t care. I started shucking my clothes.I was down to my bra and underwear when the rain-heavy air shifted behind me. I already knew who it was, so I didn’t turn around. He landed in the sand with a soft shush and walked toward me. I sighed and pulled my jeans back on.“Evening, Susannah.” He stood next to me and folded his arms.“Hank.”He had dark brown skin and cardinal-red wings with black markings to match his hair. He was the Atlanta’s guardian, serving his city just as I served mine.“What are you doing here?” I asked.He was four hundred miles from home. Even as old and strong as he was, it wouldn’t have been an easy trip. Guardians lose strength the farther we are from our anchor points. Too far, and we fade away entirely.“I have a candidate for you.”I didn’t look at him. “It’s not a good time.”He laughed, big and loud. “Not a good time? It’s been ten years and she says it’s not a good time.” In my peripheral vision, I saw him shake his head.“Hank, this hurricane’s going to hit in three hours, I’ve got a rogue vampire running around, and my line cook just quit. She can wait a week.”Hank smiled. “He.”“What?”“You heard me.”I frowned. Male healers are uncommon. About as uncommon as female guardians.“You know I’d rather work with a woman.”“Ah, yes, that proved to be a splendid idea with the last one.” His lips twisted. “How long did she last?”“She was a disaster. You saw her with that gunshot victim. She went into hysterics.”Hank looked at his bitten-down nails and sighed. “Susannah, you can’t reject everyone out of hand. Potential healers aren’t exactly common. It took me a long time to find this one.”“I don’t recall asking you to look." Healers are like guardians: We can anchor to our birthplaces, draw power from them to amplify our gifts. But Biloxi isn’t all that big, and the number of born-and-bred natives with potential is low. I had no idea how Hank had found this one, but it couldn’t have been easy.“Give him a chance. A trial. That’s all I ask.”I thinned my lips. Hank was the ranking guardian in the Southeast. He was the sort to see this as his duty.“I’m not going to take that risk again,” I said.“It was a long time ago.” He turned to face me squarely. “This isn’t just about one person’s life. And it’s not just about you.” His eyes were kind through the gentle rebuke.The breeze was picking up. I beat my wings against it, letting it riff through my feathers with a phuttering sound. I remembered the dead girl on the boardwalk. Hank, wisely, stayed silent. Deep in the oncoming wall of rain over the gulf, lightning struck.“After the storm passes,” I said.He inclined his head. “I’ll send him.” He looked up, assessed the sky and took flight in a smooth burst of muscle and power. I watched him disappear into the cloudbank.It took an hour for the drizzling rain to turn pounding and the storm surge to hit the high-tide mark. The power winked out along the coast in a scattered line, generators going on in a handful of houses. A few lights were still on in the high rises, but the smaller hotels were dark. I could have closed my eyes and mapped the shape of the skyline in my mind. My beautiful, flawed, complicated city. And now I was going to have to let someone else into it and trust him not to screw up.Trust myself not to screw up.
Want more? Anchored is available in Kindle format for $0.99.
It's been an adventure getting this little book into the world, and I'll be posting some of my experiences with the self-publishing process in the weeks to come. For now, though, I hope you enjoy reading Susannah's story as much as I enjoyed writing it. :)