NaNoWriMo 2017 prep – Day 24

Took day 23 off because work, migraine, and midterm are never a good combination in tandem.


Dateline – approximately three weeks before the beginning of the story – Manhattan

“Professor McConaway?”

AJ turned away from the storage shelves, her brow arching.  Cataloguing the department’s collections wasn’t her idea of fun, but it needed to be done before the semester started and she’d volunteered—in her humble opinion, it beat what her colleagues in the department were up to in these waning days of summer.  A young man hovered in the doorway, dark-haired with almond-shaped eyes, a backpack dangling from his shoulder.  He was familiar, though she couldn’t quite place the face or the voice.

“Can I help you with something?” she asked.

The man smiled a self-deprecating smile.  “Maybe.  Professor Krause sent me down here to see if you needed any help.”

“Maryanne sent you, huh?”  AJ dusted her hands off on the seat of her jeans, quirking a brow.  “You’re with the department?”

“Post-grad,” he explained.  “Semester year.  I have the Baird-Mancini Fellowship.”

“Ah, for forensic anthropology, yes.”  AJ glanced over her shoulder at the racks of artifacts, carefully arranged and labeled.  “And Maryanne sent you down here to help me why?”

“I think she ran out of things for me to help her with upstairs.”

AJ snorted a laugh.  “Maybe.  Honestly, I’ve got this pretty well in hand on my end.  What’s your name?  Are you assisting for anyone in the fall?”

“That’s the other reason I think she sent me down here,” he said, then blushed, glancing down. “I think she wanted me to talk to you about your strategies for teaching some of the intro classes.  I’m supposed to teach a couple of the general education ones and she said my syllabi were a bit…complex.”

“She says that about most of the syllabi we write, but it doesn’t seem to scare everyone away.”  She moved away from the shelves and toward him.  “Still waiting on that name, you know.”

“Oh.”  He glanced down, apparently bashful, at least for a few seconds, then back up again before he extended his hand.  “Ben Miyazaki.”

“AJ McConaway.  Welcome aboard.”

“Thanks.”  He glanced at the shelves.  “You going to have time to take a look at those syllabi?”

“Got them with you?”

He tugged a sheaf of papers out of the backpack dangling from his shoulder and AJ grinned.

“Let’s go to my office.  I’ll make you a cup of coffee and we’ll talk.”

He nodded and let her lead the way.


Circa 2022 (late summer/early autumn) – Chicago

“So this is it,” Brigid said softly.  The lake glittered with the lights of the city, the sun now nearly gone.  They stood together on a rooftop overlooking the water, stealing a few last precious moments before it all came to an end.

Everything was quiet, even the sound of the cars in the street below.  The breeze off the water was cool, even at this time of year, a welcome relief from the heat of summer.  Even that, too, felt like an ending, one she’d been trying to deny for the past three days since he’d told her they were leaving, that he was taking his charges back to New York, that things had changed and would never be the same again.

“I suppose it is,” he said, his voice as quiet as hers had been.

“I don’t want you to go.”

“We don’t have a choice.”  Robert’s voice was gentle, probably far more gentle than she deserved, considering how many times she’d said it and the shouting match they’d had about it.  “It’s too dangerous to stay.  For them.  For your people, too.  Besides, with everything going on in New York…” his voice trailed away and he didn’t say more.

Brigid’s jaw tightened.  “You still won’t tell me?”

“I’ve told you all I can,” he said.  She wanted to believe it but wasn’t sure she could—wasn’t sure she could let herself believe it.

But she nodded anyway, staring out over the city and Lake Michigan, feeling sick at heart and sick to her stomach.

His fingers slid into hers and squeezed.  By morning, he’d be gone and she’d never know what it felt like to feel his fingers against her skin, what his hair would feel like under her fingers, what his kiss would taste like.  He always wore the gloves, never took them off, and she didn’t dare touch him without a pair of her own—the curse of his so-called gift.

“I am sorry,” he whispered.

That much, at least, she knew he meant.

“I know.”

“Brigid, look at me.”

“I can’t.”  She swallowed past the lump in her throat.

“Why not?”

“Because I’ll do something we’ll both regret.”  She wanted to—but she wanted a lot of things.  No one had made her feel again like he had.

Fate was a cruel bitch.

“We knew that—”

“Don’t say it,” she said.  “Don’t say that it was never going to work.  Don’t say that we’re living in two different worlds that were never going to cross.  Don’t say any of it, Robert.  It’s bullshit and both of us know it.  We’d make it work.  If you were staying, somehow we’d—”

She broke off, her throat too tight to speak.  She tried to suck in a breath, then another.  He squeezed her hand again.

“I’m sorry,” he said again.

“I know.”  Brigid sighed, scrubbing at her eyes with the heel of her free hand.  “Dammit, I know, Robin.  I just—I fooled myself, I guess.  Even with all the danger and the bullshit I somehow managed to fool myself.  I shouldn’t have.”

“It wasn’t just you.”

Now she did look at him, saw a flicker of something she knew was reflected in her own eyes.  A lump rose in her throat.

“I didn’t want this to end, either,” he said quietly.  “But sometimes—”

Brigid found she couldn’t bear to hear the words, couldn’t let him say them.  Without sparing a thought for the consequences, she took his face in her bare hands and kissed him.  His lips tasted like the bourbon they’d been drinking earlier, like sweet and salt and the liquor and coffee.  It was all at once what she’d imagined it would be and wholly different.  He stiffened, eyes growing wide, hands grasping for purchase and finding it on her arms, gloved fingers digging into the flesh of her forearms for the space of one heartbeat, two.

Then he shoved her away, stumbling back and sitting down hard, gasping for air eyes wife, face pale.

Her stomach dropped.

What the hell did I do?  She felt sick.  He stared at her, shaking but unseeing, flooded by everything he’d just taken from her in that touch, everything he’d just seen—was still seeing, was still experiencing.

His gift.  What have I—

What was I thinking?  I knew that—


“Robin.”  She gasped his name, horrified, terrified.  “I—”

“Go,” he rasped, seeing her but not seeing her.  “Just—go.”

Desolated, she went.  The damage had been done.

There were some things that could never be mended.

NaNoWriMo 2017 prep – Day 19

  • John (and Adam and Roiya) find Spiritscrossing (just before the book begins, maybe as the prologue unless there’s a Becca/Ioan scene as the prologue)
  • Seth arrives to head up the investigation (off-camera)
  • El Stone is called in from the Boston office to assist (still under the purview of Brigid O’Connell as regional lead for the eastern seaboard)
    • Stone is one of the few supernatural experts UNSETIC has that doesn’t specialize in other things, nor is she completely embroiled in that world herself (ie, she’s not a magus, psychic, etc. – just a parapsychologist and paranormal researcher)
  • Becca has already been found by the time El arrives. Seth (an MD by this point) has determined that there doesn’t seem to be anything physically wrong with her.  They are in the process of confirming her ID but trying to keep the process quiet.
    • After they figure out who she probably is, the question of whether to keep her there or send her elsewhere comes up. El suggests sending her to one of the nearest offices (Vancouver or Seattle), but Seth vetoes the idea, electing instead to get his former colleague Jade involved, asking the chief medical officer for the eastern seaboard to come and pick up Becca and bring her back to NYC.  Brigid clears the request and within days of being found, Becca is brought back to New York, where things start to get really interesting.
  • In the meantime, a coven in Fredericksburg has been engaged in attempting to locate not only Becca Reid but the pack that she used to run with—specifically, her mate, the pack’s alpha, Ioan. One of them does realize that Becca’s popped back onto the map, but there’s a delay in that information getting relayed due to issues occurring in Fredericksburg at the time.
    • Information relayed to the Central Park enclave (and Daisha) instead of Beckett?
  • Brigid and AJ try to talk to the Central Park enclave but end up pretty well stonewalled. One of AJ’s students, Tyne, is part of the enclave and hustles them clear before anyone can get hurt.
  • After Brigid and AJ’s trip to the enclave, Daisha shows up and talks with Tyne, recruiting the girl’s assistance in trying to find out what UNSETIC knows about Becca and her location.
  • Daisha and Beckett have a minor confrontation at the Meeting Place, Brigid’s bar in Spanish Harlem and the front for UNSETIC’s headquarters in New York. This sets Brigid wholly on edge and sets her to wondering exactly how much backup she’s going to need to call in here—and if she’s looking down the barrel of some kind of war over one woman who’s been missing for sixteen years (sixteen years exactly).
    • Tim’s been caught up in some kind of dust-up that captures his attention for most of the early part of the story, meaning Brigid doesn’t have his expertise to lean on (which is probably a good thing given the situation at hand). Bryn has been tied up on the same issue (less helpful to Brigid).
  • Daisha infiltrates the hospital where Becca’s being monitored and returns an artifact to her friend before jumping out a window. She is attacked by something after leaving the room and Becca wakes to hearing her howls.

NaNoWriMo 2017 prep – Days 17-18

The notes from today and yesterday is actually a background scene, set in September 2021, in Fredericksburg, VA.  Cassidy Beckett seeks some help from some rather unusual sources…

Just Another Day in Fredericksburg

Location – café and coffee shop owned and operated by Kasey Greene Lord

The bell on the door jingled and Vellin tensed across the table from me, jaw tightening.  “We have company,” he murmured, though he didn’t turn.  I leaned sideways slightly, looking past him to the door.  My brow furrowed slightly.

“I didn’t think they could walk around in daylight,” he continued.  “Is it who I think it is?”

“In the flesh.”  My chair scraped quietly against the floor as I stood up.  It was early evening in Fredericksburg, the sun starting to slowly sink lower but full dark was still hours away.  “Are you going to pick her brain?”

“Fuck no,” Vellin muttered.  “I don’t have a death wish.”

“I’m sorry if I’m interrupting something,” Beckett said quietly, closing the door behind her.  She moved away from the windows even as I walked forward, drawing some more of the shades.  The vampire shot me a relieved smile as she took off her hat and sunglasses.  “Thank you.  The clouds help but it’s still difficult.”

“Have you been here since last night?” I asked, a ripple of shock fluttering through my guts.  New York wasn’t an impossible drive, but it wasn’t exactly a short one, either—Vellin and his wife, my best friend, knew that very well, since it was a trip they’d made almost every weekend for four years after their summertime wedding nearly ten years ago.  Vellin had gotten into Columbia’s law school and none of us had been willing to let him give that up.

I couldn’t imagine how Beckett could have made the trip down during daylight hours, though.

She gave me a smile that was thin, but real.  “Since about an hour before dawn.  I rested for most of the day and as soon as I felt it was dark enough, I came looking.  You have children; I thought maybe it would be best to find you before full dark considering by the time it’s actually dark you’ll both likely be home for family dinner.”

She was right, though I was almost loathe to admit it.  Sam had just taken our youngest with him when he’d gone to pick up the twins and Harrison from school, leaving me and Vellin alone at the coffee shop to talk Conclave business.  Kasey would be doing the same, along with half a dozen of our other friends.

Truth be known, Beckett had picked the perfect time to show up without drawing too much attention to herself.

“You want something,” Vellin said.  It wasn’t a question and I barely managed to suppress a wince at the slight edge to his tone.

Then again, he and Kasey both knew her better than I did in a lot of ways.  Kasey had spent most of Vellin’s time at Columbia working at Beckett’s store in Hell’s Kitchen, keeping an eye on Order business—among other things—in the five boroughs while still somehow managing to keep up with the politics back here at home.

“You always were direct, Lord,” Beckett said, though her lips quirked into a slight smile.  “How’s Mara?”

“She’s fine,” Vellin said.  “What brought you here, Dr. Beckett?  You don’t drive five and a half hours without warning for a social call.”

My gaze slid toward Vellin, lips momentarily thinning before I forced myself to relax.  His magic was up and I could feel it—but then again, my shields had snapped into place as soon as I’d seen her coming through the door.

It wasn’t that I necessarily saw the vampire as a threat, but it never hurt to be careful.

“I have a favor to ask,” Beckett said, then sighed quietly.  “Can we sit?”

I nodded, motioning to a nearby table.  Vellin’s jaw tightened, but he followed my lead, taking a seat with his back to the wall even as Beckett settled into the chair across from him, leaving me facing the door.

“What did you come to ask us for?”

She stared at me for a few seconds, as if she was still processing my question.  Then she cleared her throat.  “It’s been ten years since she disappeared,” she said softly.  “It’s been ten years since anyone’s heard anything from Rebecca Reid.”

My stomach gave an uncomfortable twist.  She and I—all of us—had spoken on the subject over the years.  “Dr. Beckett, we’ve tried to scry for her before and there hasn’t been a trace.  The New York enclave doesn’t know anything?  There hasn’t been any sort of changes?  That’s where her pack is from and they would know—word would come to them before it reached any of us down here.”

“I know, I know,” she said.  “And I didn’t come down here to ask you to try to scry for her again.  It’s something different this time.”

Vellin eyed her.  “What?”

“The New York enclave won’t listen to me, doesn’t trust me, and I can’t blame them.  They still think I had something to do with Becca’s disappearance even though I didn’t and that sentiment has only gotten worse as time’s gone on.  I can’t go to them and ask them what I’m going to ask of you and the enclave here in Fredericksburg.”

I felt another uncomfortable flutter and made eye contact with Vellin, though only for a second.  He frowned and gave me an almost imperceptible nod.

“Then ask,” I said.  “The worst I can say is no but you realize that I don’t speak for the enclave, right?”

“Only when they ask you to,” she said, her voice grave.  “I need you to find Ioan Adam Griffon.  Find the alpha and you’ll find the rest of them—or at the very least, a trace of her.  As much as he and I didn’t like or trust each other, the one thing we agreed on was her and I know that he would never willingly let anything happen to her.  Find him and you will find them.  I’m sure of it.”

“What makes you think we can do that?” Vellin’s voice was heavy with skepticism and suspicion—and more doubt than I’d heard in his voice in a long time.

“I don’t know if you can,” she admitted.  “But I also think that out of anyone, you have the best shot and frankly, you are my only shot.  Please.  I will beg if I need to.  All I ask is that you try.”

“We’ll have to talk about it,” I said, fighting the sinking feeling in my stomach.  It would probably end in some kind of argument, but at the end of the day, Vellin and I both knew what was going to happen, no matter how much we argued about whether or not we should or would.

We would do it—we’d find a way to at least try to help.

“You’ll owe us a favor,” he said.

Beckett smiled.  “If you find him, I’ll owe you more than that.  How long will you need to discuss it?”

“Give us a couple of days,” I said.  “It’s not like we need to talk to one person.  There’s a lot of moving parts.”

“Fewer here than in New York,” she said softly.  “I’ll be back at the end of the week.  Thank you, Wolf Shaman.  Thank you, Lord.”

She stood from the table, donning her hat and sunglasses again before she stepped out the door, the bell’s jingle marking her departure, an oddly cheery sound in the wake of our conversation.

I looked at Vellin.  “Have you talked to Solace about her at all?”

“Not recently.  Not since the last time.”  He took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly.  “We’ll have to call the Conclave.”

“And I’ll have to talk to the pack.”  I rubbed at my temple and shook my head slightly.  “Life gets complicated whenever she shows up.  Just when I think that maybe we’ll have a moment’s peace, something new.”

“We could have retired,” Vellin said, then cracked a grin.  I punched him in the arm as I stood up.

“No one’s ever going to let that happen, Nick.  You and I both know that.”

He just shook his head.  “We can dream, right?”  The smile faded.  “What do you make of it, Haley?”

“Of what?”

“Of any of it.”

I shrugged.  “At the end of the day, she came asking for our help because there’s someone out there that needs it.  I think you and I both agree on that piece of it.”

He nodded.  “The Conclave’s going to be edgy about it.”

“So’s the pack.  But she’s played everything straight thus far.  Inches and miles, right?”

“Yeah,” he said quietly.  “Inches and miles.”

I squeezed his shoulder and he smiled again, reaching up to cover my hand with his.

“I’ll see you later, okay?”

He nodded.  “We still have to finish the conversation we started before Dr. Beckett got here.  I do want to know how they’re doing.”

I smirked.  “If you weren’t so concerned about the way your wife looked at him, I’d invite he and his sister down for a refresher course.”

Vellin snorted.  “Are they still trying to recruit us?”

“It didn’t sound like it,” I said, then smiled.  “Why, disappointed?”

“Fuck no,” he said, then grinned.  “Though it’s flattering to be wanted.”

“Don’t you have a brief you should be working on?”

“Probably.  Invitation for dinner tomorrow night still stands?”

I nodded, fixing the shades before I made my way to the door.  “You and Kasey are in charge of dessert.”

“You bake better than I do.”

“Then bring ice cream.”

“Five o’clock?”

“Five-thirty.  After soccer practice.”

He flashed me a thumbs up and I waved on my way out the door.

Just another day in Fredericksburg.

NaNoWriMo 2017 prep – Notes for Days 12-14

  • UNSETIC has developed an understanding of a lot of supernatural forces in their world, but it has taken time for the new regional lead to forge connections with some of the more traditionally insular groups—such as the nahuali. There were some incidents under the command of the former regional lead that have made the enclave in Central Park very gun-shy when it comes to the organization.
  • In contrast, UNSTEIC has connections to one of the more powerful vampires in New York, though they don’t have the ear of the current Primarch or most of his court. Cassidy Beckett, a largely independent but well-respected figure within the New York Brethren, has been their contact for several years, initially through then-Detectives Ryce Marshall and Jesse Stole, who later introduced her to other members of UNSETIC in the region.
  • Cassidy and Becca knew each other in college, before Cassidy was brought across by Andras Cross. Their friendship remained despite Cassidy’s transformation and Becca’s disappearance has always deeply bothered Cassidy, who long suspected foul play but had no way to prove it.

Timeline of events immediately before the beginning of the story

  • John McCullough heads out for a pre-semester camping trip with his niece, Roiya Kanton, and her partner, Adam “Decker” Ford, Jr., in Alberta, Canada. The trip is half training exercise, half vacation for the two young UNSETIC recruits, both slated to start their freshman year of college at NYU within weeks of their trip.
  • The enchantments woven over the town of Spiritscrossing finally break down.
  • Seth Montgomery is sent in to lead the investigation team. He is normally assigned to one of UNSETIC’s Washington, DC office, part of Brigid O’Connell’s region.

Snippet Sunday – UNSETIC Files: Between Fang and Claw

This week’s snip is from one of the UNSETIC Files novellas currently available as ebooks.

UNSETIC Between Fang and ClawIt all starts with a secret–-one that former Ambassador Richard McCullough refuses to reveal to his eldest son.  Sometimes, even secrets kept for the best of reasons lead to unintended consequences…

James McCullough returns to England for the first time since joining the FBI, a last-minute speaker added to the roll for a conference at King’s College.  When he runs into old flame Bryn Knight outside of Heathrow, plans for a quiet, low-key trip are quickly dashed.  Lunch at a local pub leads to his recruitment into a shadow organization dedicated to protecting the world from all the things humanity isn’t quite equipped to understand yet, from vampires and psychics to ghosts and aliens and everything in between.

There’s a war brewing in London. Bryn and her parents are on the front lines and James is right there with them–-but is it a fight he can hope to survive?

Snippet below the break.

Continue reading “Snippet Sunday – UNSETIC Files: Between Fang and Claw

Preview: UNSETIC Files: Bering Songs and Silence

UNSETIC Bering Songs and SilenceI’m thrilled to announce that Bering Songs and Silence is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords as an ebook!

Here’s a taste of what’s in store when you step into Naval officer Brigid O’Connell’s head and hear her story about her first mission with UNSETIC…

Click below the cut to catch a preview from the first chapter of Bering Songs and Silence, the story of Brigid O’Connell and Timothy McConaway’s first mission together…

Continue reading “Preview: UNSETIC Files: Bering Songs and Silence

New release ramblings

Good news!  What Angels Fear, a Lost Angel Chronicle, is now available on Smashwords, Amazon (UK, DE, FR), and Barnes and Noble.  It is the first installment of the Lost Angel Chronicles, a universe that includes my once-touted When All’s Said and Done.  I had anticipated releasing it after Epsilon: Broken Stars, but that’s tied up in editing this week (the people I tapped couldn’t look at it until this week).  The editing on What Angels Fear was faster–thanks again, Krinny!–and so I was able to start publication on Monday.

The end result was it being fully available on the three front-line venues as of this morning.  It will hopefully be distributed to Kobo Books, the iBookstore, Diesel, and other ebook retailers soon (through Smashwords wonderful Premium catalog, which Falling Stars is already available through).  It’s also already on GoodReads, where I appreciate reviews and shelf-adds.

So what does this mean?  Simply that I’ve gotten a third “world” of my writing established in digital ink.  Anyone who’s read back on this blog a little bit knows exactly how many things I’ve developed over the years and either abandoned or simply shelved for later.  There have been two women in my life (incredibly supportive best friend type women, one mostly during my teenage years and one during my adult life) who have urged me to go back to certain projects over the years, or not to completely abandon something, and occasionally told me to focus down on one thing, finish it, and only move on after that’s done.  As a general approach, that only occasionally works for me.

Of course, sometimes it does work.  This was one of those times.

I finished off What Angels Fear after I wiped out the final of Broken Stars.  I didn’t dare touch it while I was in the final push, largely because the scenes I was working on for Broken Stars were so difficult and because Julia Kinsey and Ridley Thys are very, very different characters from Aaron Taylor, Sam Cooper, Mac Desantis, and Lucas Ross.  Their worlds are also very different.  I’ll admit that at one point I’d considered making it all the same universe, but my conclusion was (and still is) that it just wouldn’t work, due to the number of supernatural elements extant in the Lost Angel universe, elements that don’t exist in the Epsilon universe (or any of my science fiction universes as of this writing).  Turning back to Julia and Ridley’s world, and by extension Ky Monroe, Matthew Thatcher, and Hadrian Bridger’s world, was a welcome shift.  Of course, it was helped by the sudden desire to write something with vampires that seized me.

No, What Angels Fear doesn’t involve vampires.  But they’re in the world, right along with secret agents and people fighting the good fight.  More of that will come up in When All’s Said and Done, which features Angel Kyle Anne Monroe as its narrator.  I anticipate turning to that project in the near future.

Unfortunately, Nanowrimo is looming, and while When All’s Said and Done was my inaugural Nanowrimo project back in 2004 (coincidentally, also my first win), I can’t exactly turn around and redraft it for my project this year.  Instead, I’ll be working on the second book of the Epsilon series, Epsilon: Redeemer.

My retail job looks like it might keep me from traveling this November, so I might just have a shot at getting something done.

Wish me luck.

You can find Erin on GoodReads these days @
And on Smashwords @