Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dark Dreams: EXCERPT!!!!!!

As I've mentioned a couple of times, I've been working on a new paranormal adventure/romance series with Dawn Treadway, and we are nearly through the final revision of the first book in the series, tentatively titled "Dark Dreams".  Dawn is the lead writer on this, and with her permission, I've been given the opportunity to post the first excerpt from this exciting story here!

First a brief background ... Nias H'udor is a member of an immortal race of daemons (the Djinn) from the hell-like realm of Sheol.  Having escaped from the horrors of that world and now sworn to protect humans as much as possible from the horde of Shaitan daemons who are now committed to serving the ruler of that realm, Nias and his family and fellow Djinn have to combat not only the Shaitan, but their own darkness within.  When Nias's younger brother is captured and taken back to Sheol, he is instructed by their patron goddesses to find a specific human and use her and her unique abilities to help him literally go through hell to save him.

Jade Shear is a normal woman, owner of a small business, and just looking for someone who can be her Mr. Right.  Only one problem ... she has a secret, and it's one that makes it almost impossible for her to have a long-lasting normal relationship.  Then a tall, dark, and sexy stranger walks into her bookstore, and just as suddenly disappears.  She dismisses it until she runs into him again the next day, and is suddenly thrust into a world she never thought possible, side by side with one of the most infuriatingly arrogant men she has ever met.

Here is an excerpt from the upcoming novel, from their first encounter.  Enjoy and keep an eye out for news on this pending series.


“Hey gorgeous, thought it was your day off?”  Matt lilted accusatorily and sauntered toward the cash rap.  For whatever reason nothing ever seemed to ruin his good cheer.  It was one reason she could stand to be around him.  The other reason was he was one of the few men she could be around and not read lascivious feelings about her radiating from him.  “You alright sweets, look like you need a drink,” his perfectly arched brows rose slightly for a moment, “and a brush,” he chuckled and pushed at her shoulder.
“Can you please not start with me?” Jade lifted her aching head to respond and tried to shake out the last bits of the obtrusive emotions around her.
She actually loved when Matt started up with her.  Her favorite employee was a bright breath of fresh air in her normally ho-hum days and the ones where she was accosted by her irritating affliction.
“Now darlin’ what in the world would be fun about that?”  He moved his hand like a wand through the air, a gesture he always seemed to make appropriate.  Whether recapping a bad date he’d been on, appraising someone’s outfit, or generally talking trash about another of Jade’s employees, there was always “the hand” emphasizing his dramatic points.
He continued without waiting for a response.  “Girl you need to stop with the workaholic spinster act.”  He gave her a cursory disapproving glance from her disheveled hair down to her beautifully attired feet.  He let a small smile escape at her footwear but then began again.  “Get out of here, go dig up a life girl, get laid, fall down drunk somewhere.”  He let loose with yet another wave of his hand around the room. “You know this place is fine. I’ve got the wheel, I make a fabulous captain.” Matt laughed; the man really loved to amuse himself.
“I just need a book or two, then I’m out, I won’t stay,” Jade swore, even as she scanned the room for other things she could be working on.
“Okay, mama, but I’m watching you.”  The characteristic hand wave ended with an accusatory finger pointed at her.
A gust of cool air blew up from the floor behind her.  It seemed to come from nowhere.  Jade inhaled as the fragrance of dark sandalwood and a dirty masculinity wafted into her nostrils.  Her eyes closed and as she breathed in, her mind was abruptly flooded with the image of all the sex she wasn’t having.
Matt’s lowered voice invaded the darkness of her shut eyelids.  “Oh my Lord no, I am not looking at you, not anymore, now I’m watching that!”  She opened her eyes and saw the look in Matt’s eyes glaze over slightly as he motioned to something, or someone, behind her that had now consumed his attentions.
“Do not turn around quickly, but girl, turn the hell around.  Slowly I said, do not startle it and make it run away,”  Matt hissed as he placed a hand on her shoulder.
Jade smirked, “What are you talking about now?  Is there some kind of animal in my store?”  Jade turned and not twenty feet away, he stood.
Legs crossed, a gorgeous man leaned against her book shelf, his cocked head rested against it in a lazy pose.  A long stream of dark, almost black hair fell against the structure contrasting with the lighter red of the cherry wood mantelpiece.  The man was making no attempt to hide the fact that he had been staring right at her, assessing her, and she had to mentally roll her eyes at his obvious audacity.  But when finally her curiosity took over she just had to take another distant peek.  Jade’s eyes met his and they seemed to grab and pull her in; then his emotion smashed against her unbidden, and she felt a sudden wave of lust crash over her.
She unintentionally released a breathy sigh and clenched her teeth as the pure animal nature of him surrounded her in an all encompassing cloud of arousal. Between this force and her body stood only a flimsy white tank and it apparently was going to provide her no protection.  Her breasts and nipples tightened and became overly sensitive to even the slightest movements she made.  The lower regions of her body went moist and warm and she crossed her legs; the clenching however, made the feeling even stronger.
“Holy cow,” fell softly out of her mouth.
And Matt concurred, “Yes, ho-oly cow girl.”  Her mouth had apparently remained open because, keeping his gaze stuck on the tall hunk of man before them, Matt put his hand under her chin and popped it closed.
Trying to shake off the lusty arousal she turned and tried to once again take on the look of the professional establishment owner she was, but she couldn’t help but take a tentative step in his direction.
Of course that didn’t work out; instead she tripped on the edge of the Turkish rug beneath her, twisting her foot and breaking the heel off her favorite Jimmy Choo knee-high boots.
“Damn it,” she said under her breath, “I saved for months to buy those.”  As she bent down to pick up the broken heel, she tried to take a step backward and stabilize her still sexually stunned body against the wooden counter behind her.
Of course, being that she was Jade, her hand landed at the base of a stack of returned books, sending them and herself tumbling to the floor.  She was now red-cheeked, with hair strewn across her face with pieces in her mouth, on her hands and knees. She lifted her head, to wait for the typical Matt-like wisecrack.
The mysterious man flashed a condescending grin the Cheshire cat himself would have been proud of and slowly turned and sauntered toward her front doors and then just seemed to disappear.  But that couldn’t be right, could it?  He must have just walked out the door.
“What the fuck was that?”  Jade gaped at the space the dark haired man had occupied; as she sat back onto her heels and shook her head to clear it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Role Playing: Advantages ... and Challenges ...

My name is Aaron Speca, and I am a Role Player.

Role playing was something I hadn’t tried since high school.  And that was very different than what I have discovered today.  Back then, what I knew of was Dungeons and Dragons, swords, sorcery, adventure-driven.  Writing?  Please.  I hated to write.  I hated the whole process of it.  I focused on math and science, wrote when I had to, what I had to, I order to get that degree and job and be a “success”.

Twenty years later, my wife made some friends here locally, and was introduced to another form of role playing than what I had been exposed to.  Writing-based, playing characters from popular series (or sometimes making up your  own), weaving an intricate tale of fantasy, intrigue, romance, adventure; it was something I didn’t get at first.

You’re role playing?  And you are writing in order to do it?  I didn’t get it at all.

Then I started reading what she wrote.  I was hooked.  She’ll tell you otherwise, but she is a really good writer in her own right, in some ways better than me.  I found myself rooting for her characters … hard.

I still wasn’t interested in doing it myself though.

Then, because I was (and still am) an avid poker player, her group asked me to come online and help them write out a poker game as the dealer.  It was an experiment that had limited success (I think we played out two hands in ninety minutes), but it did allow me to actually experience what role play on Facebook was like.

So then I decided to really try it.  I picked a very minor character from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series, and thought I might try this a couple of times.

Ok, that was almost two years ago.

What I discovered was a creative wellspring I didn’t even know I had inside myself.  Stories and backgrounds for both characters within this series and original characters started to form as if from nothing in my head. 

And I was hooked.  From someone who despised creative writing to published writer in a little over fifteen months.  It’s a transition that still leaves me reeling.

What is Role Play to me?  It’s a mental exercise.  It uses so many different skills – writing, acting, improvisation, organization.  It can be a daily writing activity.  I once heard someone say, if you want to be a writer, then write a little bit every day … this is a great way to do that.  And it’s fun to boot.  Even better, it has allowed me to meet people (albeit virtually) that I would probably never have had the opportunity to know any other way.
There are some great people … real people … behind the character profiles that people LOVE to read on Facebook.  In fact, I’ve been told by a few fans that the only reason they come online is to read the stories that these characters put together. Now along with my first character, I have several others and many stories that I and my fellow group members have put together, our group has over 1000 fans, and we have built relationships with many other groups from many different book series.

Now there seems to be a force hellbent on killing all of that.  This week, many character profiles were disabled by Facebook.  Because Facebook doesn’t tell anyone exactly WHY their account was disabled, it’s unknown whether they were reported by someone or Facebook just decided to go crazy, but they are now requiring an upload of a copy of a government issued ID.  Which of course does no good, because the name obviously won’t match the name on the account.  As an aside, authors which have accounts under pen names can potentially face the exact same issue.

I’m not going to get into the legality of this requirement, which I personally think is questionable at best, but looking at it from a pure business standpoint, why is Facebook willing to kick all these people to the curb?  Do they not realize how big this community is?  How many people they stand to lose?  How much advertising revenue will go by the wayside?

I understand the issues with safety on the internet, curbing bullying and cyber-stalking, all of that.  But they are grossly missing the target if that is their intention in taking this action.  Role Players ARE NOT THE PROBLEM.  Those profiles are very clear and up front that they are not real people.  None of us are out there claiming to actually be Nick Gautier or Sookie Stackhouse or Acheron Parthanopaeus.   In fact, RPers are more often the victim of the exact bullying and stalking that Facebook claims to be trying to curtail.  I know people that have been approached and cyber-stalked by some real freaks out there, and then when they are rebuffed, they simply get mad and report the profile.

What kind of system is it where someone, with a click of a button, can report any profile for anything without proof, and have that profile disabled with no recourse for the person reported?  Shouldn’t those people have the opportunity to at least know the specific reason why they were reported so they can have the chance to fix it?

I realize this is a bit of a rant, but it is frustrating for anyone to lose their writings and be prevented from performing a hobby by rules that make no sense and are not even close to uniformly enforced.  I have many acquaintances and other people I would call true friends who have lost months or years of writing and fan-building.  Some are published, some are trying to be, some have no real designs on going that route.  But it is still a huge creative loss.  I know one person in particular (Kenneth Roy Ezell, who gave me permission to use his name and profile and wanted me to) actually had all his 3-plus years of work backed up, had a hardware failure this week and was getting ready to back it all up again when his profile was taken down.  I know others who used Facebook’s own backup feature, only to find out when they needed them that the downloaded files were corrupted and unusable.

I know there are other sites out there for RPing, but to be honest, none I have seen have the combination of functionality and reachability that Facebook has.  And the reachability is important for those of us that are writers or aspire to be writers, or even just simply enjoy the social interaction with fans and other groups.

There are pockets out there of RPers and fans that are looking at various ways to address this issue, including a proposal to create a Facebook space or type of account to let us do what we enjoy, and allow the fans to continue to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  To keep us all on Facebook would seem to be to Facebook’s advantage.  So we will see what comes of it.

Thanks for reading … and stick with me because I have some more excerpts and news coming for publications soon!!  I am not planning to go anywhere.

Kenneth Roy Ezell’s Facebook page:

Writers United: (not yet ready for posting but will be up soon)