Author Spotlight: Kalayna Price

Kicking It Amazon Book Cover

Book Cover from Amazon

The quiet, sweet dark voice whispers, “Want to fire dance?”

A USA Today Bestselling author, Kalayna Price, has two series: Alex Craft (Grave Witch) and Novels of Haven (Once Bitten), both featuring strong women with powers carrying debilitating prices. Alex Craft sees ghosts (who are great spies, but terrible backup) and Haven has vampires. I loved the Alex Craft books and look forward to reading her Haven series.

At convention panels, Ms. Price needs to be mic’ed – her speaking voice is as soft as her pen is strong. But her witty advice is worth hearing as much as her writing is worth reading, so I will sit in the first row listening to everything.

You can find out more about Ms. Price at her website, including her fire dancing: Kalayna Price.

Flash: Three Wishes Granted (Part 1)

Red Candle Burning

Image courtesy of Tuomas_Lehtinen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Smoke curled upward from the flickering candles like fingers clawing the moving shadows hiding the gymnasium ceiling. A fat red candle burned grudgingly at each corner of a triangle. Storebrand sea salt, its box discarded on top of the pile of winter coats and purses in the bleachers, had been poured onto the waxed but scarred wooden surface recently used in a sport ceremony most humans call basketball to form the outer triangle with the red candles. A young woman sat on each side of the triangle, her bare ass just touching but not moving the sea salt, facing the inner black triangle created from crushed coal and burned school work. None of their body parts touched the black shape. Each corner of that triangle had a black taper burning far steadier and faster than the red pillars, but, eerily, no pools of light illuminated the women’s faces from the inner candles or glittered on the embroidered symbols decorating short linen tunics they wore covering their breasts and hovering just above their bellybuttons.

One of the woman, her back to the home team basket, said words which skittered across the mind like fingernails on a chalkboard. The other two hummed and growled responses.

The home team had won. Finally. The college wasn’t known for its sports teams. Jessica, a cheerleader to meet the sports requirement of the liberal arts school, immediately called Emily and Kiran. They had been waiting four months to cast this spell requiring a victorious battleground for their tribal warriors.

Waiting had been a bitch. The setup for the spell required three days of abstinence beforehand, which meant they had been going without sex for nearly four months. Kiran hadn’t minded since she hadn’t been dating anyone, but Emily’s beau dropped her like a rock when she hadn’t put out regularly and Jessica and Austin had degenerated to screaming matches. She knew he was fucking Roxanne on the side, but coven before lovin’.

Jessica sung-shouted the last word, tearing her throat on the power of the Name. Emily and Kiran echoed the Name of the fallen angel, bouncing the Word around the gymnasium in an ever-growing cacophony with each echo taking the Name higher or lower by half a note. Flats and sharps destroyed the beauty of the angelic Name until all the sounds reformed into a new name “Lucifer!”

Sound stopped.

The dim light sneaking in from the hallway backed out. Only the light of the six candles remain and the harsh breathing of the women as they gasped for oxygen after chanting for two hours. Time hovered at three o’clock Sunday morning, the time between the Jewish Sabbath and the Christian Lord’s Day.

Kiran turned her head and whispered to Jessica, “Do you think it worked?”

“Shh!” Jessica glared at their newest coven member.

Kiran bit her generous lip. The other two were seniors who had picked up the freshman out-of-state student for their group after their third member graduated last year.

A dozen heartbeats passed, then a dozen more, and a dozen after that.

Long after the hallway light hesitantly returned to create two small rectangles of light on the north end, Jessica reached out her arms straight out to both sides. The cold wood floor had completely numbed her butt. Kiran immediately put out her arms either side, and Emily slowly followed suit until all three of their fingertips touched.

“Do you remember how to clear the spell, Kiran?” Emily smiled encouragingly.

Kiran closed her eyes a moment and mouthed a few words before opening her eyes again and responding, “Yes.” As the youngest of those present, backing out of a spell fell on her and a summoning spell is not a magic to leave half-intact by a misremembering. She had been studying her part every day for five months.

“Giving up so soon?”

All three sets of eyes snapped to the center of their formation. The dark candles’ flame finally reflected off of something as all darkness within the inner triangle formed into a man. The handsome devil wore a tuxedo, ruby cufflinks flashing as he snapped the sleeves firmly into place with a jerk at the cuff. His brilliant red bowtie and satin cummerbund brought out the color of his glowing eyes to a stunningly scary sexy perfection. Black hair with frosted tips curled past his shoulders and accented his cheekbones and goatee.

Emily gasped, her hands covering her mouth. Kiran started forward but froze when Jessica ordered, “Don’t cross the lines!”, before standing.

Though the tallest of the women, Jessica at five foot eight still was half a foot shorter than the being trapped in the inner triangle. But she was barefoot and the man was wearing Oxford shoes, so the height difference wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Even so, appearing anyway like a supplicant before anyone wasn’t for her.

Kiran and Emily followed their leader’s action and also stood. The freshman, nearly fifty pounds heavier than her five foot three inch frame should be holding, had the hardest time standing in the limited space between the salt and the coal lines.

The satisfaction Jessica felt twisted her lips up. “What, you were hoping we were some idiots and wouldn’t clean up our little mess? Is that why you didn’t manifest until now?”

“Why would I ever do something as devious as that?” The man in the middle matched Jessica’s evil smile with one of his own. “I live for being pulled away from Hell to revenge some adolescent imagined slight.” He took the one step closer to Jessica, as close as the black coal allowed. Lowering his voice, his red eyes banked to burning coals, he asked, “So what tune are you going to have me play my little witch?”

Jessica licked her lips and controlled the urge to sway closer so the tips of her peaked nipples would rub the linen tunic against his wool tux. No crossing the lines, she reminded herself. “Actually our summoning is to make a deal. Our souls for our wishes.”

A wider grin replaced Lucifer’s smile as he returned to the center of the summoning symbol. “Your soul? I always like collecting red-head souls; it so enhances the myth that the gingers are all my servants. State your wish and we may strike a bargain.”

Jessica shifted. “I’m blonde.”

“And your thatch is red, my dear. You dye that mane of yours.”

The blush started at Jessica’s belly, visible below the short hem of the tunic, popped up above the fabric at the beginning of her cleavage and suffuse her face. She had forgotten they were all naked below the waist.

“Oh, I do seem to have an unfair advantage.” Lucifer started taking out his cufflinks. “How un-gallant of me.” Before they could stop him, the devil had his jacket tossed back into the darkness and his shirt hung open, unbuttoned. He turned a slow circle within the confines of the black triangle, arms open wide, skittering his large hands along the edge of the spell, leaving black cracks in the invisible shield and making his knuckles bleed. “Is this enough or do you want me to remove more? As you can see by my chest hair, I am actually blond but people prefer their demons dark, not the Morning Star.” He stroked down his bare chest leaving a light trail of blood behind.

Kiran stared as his hand stroked over his rock-hard abs and hovered for a moment over a growing bulge in his pants. “Would you like a taste my dark-skin beauty?” He stepped closer to the freshman, opening the flap of his pants to expose buttons and popped the top one.

“Kiran, no!” Emily shouted, but didn’t move from her position within the symbol.

Kiran pulled her hand back before it broke the cracking barrier and whimpered, “I’m so wet.” Shaking she slipped to the floor far more gracefully than she rose.

“Yes you are little one. I can smell you.” He flicked his forked tongue out. “I would love to taste you.”

Kiran moaned, her hands dropping to her thick thighs, rubbing them. Her head twisting back and forth so she wouldn’t stare at his now-eye-level crotch or meet the glowing coal-red eyes. Her nipples pressed against the symbols of protection embroidered in gold and silver on her linen tunic, the magic fighting the seduction charm leaking through the cracked dark triangle, sending tingles from her tits to her core with each strike and repost of the charm and counter-charm.

“I don’t think so.” Jessica stated as she picked up the removed the athame strapped inside the tunic on her left arm. “Emily, follow my lead.”

Without hesitation, Emily pulled out her ceremonial blade and drew it across her palm in unison with Jessica. They then flung the blood at the invisible barrier. As the droplets hit, non-light splashed out vanquishing the cracks on their sides.

“No!” The devil ordered and crashed his hands against the side Kiran was on. Her head flung back as she screamed, an orgasm taking her.

The witches switched hands with the blades and cut their other hands and flung the blood as close to the side Kiran was on without leaving their positions. The splatter created new centers of healing the barrier and wrapped around the corner, nearly meeting in the center on the freshman’s and throwing the devil to the corner opposite her. His shirt burned and fell off, leaving angry marks. His knuckles no longer bleed, but his hands and shoulders were blistered. The shirt pooled into a dozen shadows and faded.

Kiran had somehow managed to control her fall and lay perfectly between the white salt line and the black coal line with neither smudged. She twitched, moaning as the ecstasy faded.

The man leaped to his feet in the center, his chest expanding and contracting rapidly, the hair on his head even longer, now falling to midwaist, and completely blond. Fists shook either side of his body as he turned to face the coven leader.

“Your eyes.” Jessica stared at the angelic blue eyes set in the most beautiful face she had ever seen.

Gleaming white teeth ground. The devil closed his eyes, tension left his face and it shifted into something darker, more human and less divine. After a moment he opened them and they were gleaming red coals again.

“Your bargain.” He growled.

(To be continued)

(1,737 words, first published 11/27/2016)

Writing Exercise: Ticking Clock

Parkour Silhouette against Sky

Image copied from Learn About Parkour: http://robertjrgraham.com/learn-about-parkour/

Ticking Clock

You may be familiar with “ticking clocks” from the thriller genre, but they also occur in other genre. A few things to remember with Ticking Clocks:

1. Be precise about the passage of time.
NOT GOOD: “When we talked earlier today” ; “The other day”
GOOD: “When we talked before lunch in second period” ; “The day before yesterday”

The passage of time needs to feel important to everyone. If the clock is ticking off hours, be precise about the hours – if ticking off days, be precise at the day level.

2. Don’t slow down. As the deadline approaches increase the challenges. Torture your characters.

3. Remind your readers of the Ticking Clock through the urgency the main character feels, not reminding the reader by relaying the countdown through the prose.
NOT GOOD: Charlie tore down the sidewalks because he only had moments to meet his true love, according to the street soothsayer.
GOOD: The soothsayer told him he needed to be at the corner of Second and Main at 5:08 sharp. Charlie’s breath burned in his lungs as he ran. He never was good at running, but to meet true love he would arrive gasping.

WRITING EXERCISE: Write a Ticking Clock – At least three sentences and share below. Make us feel the urgency.

Make us feel like we are back in school taking a final of 150 multiple choices in one hour … urgent … and realize the last question is an essay and we have 10 minutes left …. building, racing toward the end, getting more difficult …Then realize that the essay is 25% of the grade. I did mention torturing the characters, right?

*****

Charlie rounded the corner to Main, plowing through the professionals pouring out of the Maddox building. He was going to make it; only one city block left and it was a short side.

The bright orange cones would not have stopped him, but the caution tape was at ankle, waist, and eye level. They were repairing the sidewalk and directing foot traffic across the street. He didn’t have time.

His eyes darted for a way as his feet continued to move.

Subway, had two exits, one on Third and the other on Second.

He half-jumped the steps and half-slid the rails down; more a control fall than anything else. God, who would have thought he would be doing parkour? He forgot to breathe during the distance across tiles between the staircases. He gasp a new breath as he faced the second set of stairs, trying to ignore the digital clock above letting the commuters know it was 5:07. He had failed at everything he had ever tried unless it was a total deadend, like his job at the coffee shop.

True love was seconds away, if he made it up the three flights of stairs.

(words 42 +195 = 237 – first published 7/11/2015; republished in new blog format 11/29/2017)

NaNo: The Opening of the Swan

The Opening page of The Swan, so far. I received feedback that the physical description came too soon and the opening is too “purple”. Also the name “Dougie” read like “Doogie” and threw people out of the story. I kind-of want the name to be Douglas for its name meaning. Do you agree with the feedback I have received? Do you have additional feedback. Comment below.

The Swan and the Kitty (Urban Fantasy)

The scream rending the night’s air in two, separating the indistinguishable grayness from half lit street poles into bright white full moon pools and black shadows, caught Dougie in the heart. He didn’t think twice before setting his laundry duffle securely across his shoulders and putting his four hundred pound, six foot frame lumbering in the direction of the noise. Echoing barks countered the caterwauls.

Tucked between the forgotten buildings of Tuscon’s south side Douglas discovered another battle in the age-old war between the canine pack predators and a feline solo hunter. Douglas cursed under his breath about pet owners who abandoned their pets when they stopped being cute. The Maine Coon cat had managed to get in an elevated area but was bleeding from several bites. Below it, four feral dogs each nearly twice the size of the admittedly very large cat jumped and barked, spittle flying.

He hated bullies.

After twisting the drying towels he had been carrying outside the bag tightly around his arms, Dougie stomped forward yelling and waving his arms.

Eerily the dogs immediately stopped barking and turned to face him. The bright black, brown and blue eyes staring at him were far too intelligent for discarded half-starved pets. The largest of the pack, a black creature with Rottweiler in its mixed line, yipped twice and the yellow and brown dogs broke from the pack while the Alpha and the fourth dog returned to monitoring their primary prey.

(243 words, first published 11/20/2016)

Blog: NaNo Choice Part 3

theswan-holding-cover

NaNo is just three short days away. Below is the synopsis for The Swan series with my guess for the word length of each installment. Time to get writing!

***

Bit by a were, Charlie discovers his transformation animal is prey in the world of shapeshifting predators. Can he survive long enough to his perfect mate?

The story is in four parts to be published as four short novelettes:

The Swan and the Pussy – Saving a cat from a pack of dogs ends up transforming someone who had been losing the game of life into a Swan. Unfortunately, Charlie is now a prey animal in a world of predators. Some people never get a break. (about 12K words)

The Swan and the Hawk – A seer predicted Charlie would meet his perfect mate. Can a fat Swan find happiness with the ambitious Hawk in charge of the City’s Aviary? (about 15K words)

The Swan and the Dolphin – Sent to Florida for testing, Charlie gets adopted by the Pod and dragged deeper into shifter politics. As the water gets hotter, can he hold his breath? (about 18K words)

The Swan and the Dragon – Seers are never wrong, but can Charlie survive a relationship with a … Dragon? (about 20K words)