Ria’s Web of Lies Excerpt

Here it is, the first excerpt from Ria’s Web of Lies, out June 11 at virtually every ebook retailer under the sun:


“You’re joining science club!” Will exclaims. “Are you insane?”

I scowl as I follow Will and Ariana down the hilly road that leads to Inwood Park. I agreed to go with them after class, and I might have let Birch’s offer slip. Seriously regretting that now.

“Why is everyone so worried about my social life?” I say. “And anyway, I didn’t say I was doing it, I said Birch offered it to me.”

“Don’t listen to him,” Ariana says. “I was in science club last year and it was great. Ms. Birch makes it a lot of fun.”

“Yeah, and look at you now,” Will shoots back. “I’m practically your only cool friend.”

Ariana joins me in scowling at Will when he sweeps his hands forward grandly. “We’ve arrived.”

Inwood Park sits at the end of the last street in Manhattan, just past some apartments and a rinky dink little college football stadium. It’s pretty big, with a large lawn that’s bordered by the top of what I guess is the Hudson River. There’s a bridge in the background, but I’ve got no clue which one. Beyond the lawn is what looks like a forest. In Manhattan. I’m not kidding. This place is like some kind of fantasy land.

“It’s beautiful,” I marvel.

“Bet they don’t have this in Brooklyn,” Will says.

“They do, but the water is green.”

“This way,” Ariana says, leading to the woods. “There’s a lookout point at the top where you can see for miles.”

They lead me to the edge of the woods, which begins with another freaking hill. “You’re kidding,” I exclaim.

“It’s not that bad,” Ariana says. Easy for her to say, she didn’t have to kill a revenant last night.

“Whatever, just don’t expect me to rush to the top.”

We begin the climb, and I’m dying after ten minutes. Sweat is dripping down my eyes and my shirt is damp. “I thought you said it wasn’t bad,” I wheeze.

“Oh come on now,” Will says, “don’t tell me this little hill is killing you?”

“Let’s just reach the bridge,” Ariana offers. “It’s just ahead and you can rest there.”

“The bridge?!” I point to the span in the distance. “That thing? We’re walking to the goddamn George Washington?”

“That’s the Henry Hudson,” Will corrects me. “The George Washington Bridge is south of here.”

“That’s not the point!”

“And that’s not where we’re going,” Ariana says, stepping in before I pull Will’s tongue out of his throat. “There’s a pedestrian bridge that crosses a stream up ahead. That’s where we’re headed.” She slaps Will on the arm. “Stop fucking with her!”

“Geez, fine. Sorry,” Will says, rubbing his arm. “We’re really almost there. It’s not much longer.”

We keep moving up the hill and, finally, the bridge comes into view. It’s a small, wooden span that was painted white a long time ago. A small stream runs underneath it, the kind that you could hop across if you really needed to.

Will and Ariana head to the top, but something catches my eye from under the bridge. Still wheezing, I bend over with my hands on my knees and squint into the darkness under the bridge. There’s something there, and I think it’s alive.

“What are you doing?” Ariana’s voice sounds from above.

“Nothing, just give me a moment.”

My curiosity gets the better of me, and I move closer. That’s when I see what’s hiding under the bridge, and I can’t stop the groan that escapes my lips.

It’s a little yellow troll.

It’s a goddamn troll.

Under a bridge.

You have got to be kidding me.

“Dammit,” I wheeze as I reach down and pull the stake out from my shoe and drop my bag. I don’t know how long this asshole has been here, but I can’t just ignore it. Who knows how many kids come up here to make out. Any one of them could become troll chow if I don’t act.

The troll finally takes notice of me and bares its teeth. I’m really wishing I’d brought my knife with me. This is going to be so much harder with just a stake.

The troll charges at me, I duck and jam the stake into its arm. It screams and tries to claw at my face, but I pull back and kick it onto its ass.

“Ria, what the hell are you doing?” Will asks as I step out from under the bridge and wave.

“Nothing,” I say as I tuck a few loose strands of hair back behind my ear. “Just resting.”

“Well, are you ready to go?”

“Why don’t you two go ahead? I promise I’ll catch up.”

“Suit yourself.”

Will’s head disappears back over the edge of the bridge and I turn my attention back to the troll. It’s yanked the stake out of its arm and is holding it toward me threateningly.

“Oh really, asshole? You’re going to try to use my own weapon against me?”

The troll slashes at me. It’s fast, and I’m tired, and the stake slides across my arm. Thankfully, trolls are dumb as rocks and can’t tell the difference between a knife and a stake. I’m not cut, but it still hurts like a mutha.

He slashes out again, but this time I grab his arm and toss him overhead. He lands on his back with a thud, and the stake goes skittering across the grass. I’m already running for it when the troll gets up, and before he can snarl I catch him in the heart. The troll screams as he dies and his body begins to liquefy. I take a step back.

Will and Ariana arrive a moment later to find me staring at a dirty gray puddle. “Are you okay? We heard you scream.” Ariana says.

I point to the puddle, which is thankfully not at all troll-shaped. “I just stepped in that stuff and it stinks.”

Will waves his hand in front of his nose as he takes a step closer. “God, what is it?”

“Who knows?” I say as I grab his arm and pull him and Ariana back toward the path. “I’ve got my second wind. Let’s go see the George Washington.”

Read More: Order-Now

Ria’s Witch Hunt Excerpt

Ria's Witch Hunt CoverHere’s an exclusive first look at Ria’s Witch Hunt, coming our way on Friday, March 16.


Ariana really did drag me dress shopping that afternoon. We went to a small store near the school and I had to smile and pretend not to want to smash everything after the second hour of watching her try on gowns. All of which is to say I’m feeling relieved when it comes time to get down to business.

It doesn’t take long to get to the Hudson Yards bus depot. But the drive down the highway gives me the chance to call Dad and get up to speed on the job. He sounds fairly calm when he picks up the phone, even greeting me with a “Hi sweetie.”

So I guess there’s nothing to stab tonight, is there?” I say.

“Afraid not, kiddo. It’s a simple recon mission.”

Poop. “Gimme the details.”

“We’re looking into the deaths of five homeless men who were all found torn apart.”

“Five? Jeez.” One person killed by a monster is too many. Five is a damn nightmare. “What do we think it is? Troll? Vampire? Squid?”

“Not sure yet, but here’s the kicker: they were all killed outside of New York City. Two were found in Jersey City, one in Philadelphia, one in Baltimore, and one in Pittsburgh. All ripped to shreds.”

Will cuts in. “Wait, so if they all died outside of the city why are we meeting at a bus yard?”

“Well that’s the thing: one of the ways the city handles its homeless population is to buy anyone willing to leave a one-way bus ticket out of town.”

“Damn…” Will gasps. “That’s…cold.”

“You’re telling me. Anyway, according to Blue, all five of our victims were recent bus passengers, and they all came through Hudson Yards within the last month.”

Blue is Inspector Steven Perkins, the top cop at the Tenth Precinct in Manhattan. He’s our eyes and ears for unexplained and violent murders, and he’s pretty plugged in, so if he says these dudes all took the Magic School Bus of Doom from Hudson Yards, I’m not going to question him.

“Copy,” I say. “So you think whatever’s happening to them is starting at the bus depot?”

“Only one way to find out.”

“Roger that. We’re coming up now. I’ll see you in a bit.”

Hudson Yards isn’t hard to find. It’s right next to Madison Square Garden and the Lincoln Tunnel on the West Side of Manhattan, so basically you just have to drive until the traffic gets bad enough for you to want to die and bam, you’re there. As for the neighborhood itself, it’s not exactly the most jumping place yet. The land used to be a giant train yard, but now they’re building a shit-ton of skyscrapers on top of it. None of them are done yet, so it’s all one big construction site that sits next to the Hudson River.

The bus depot’s at the north end, near 36th Street. I pull the Honda Civic up next to one of about a million construction sites a few blocks away and scan the area. It’s dark and it’s desolate. The perfect place for monster hunters to set up shop for the evening.

“We’re here,” I say as I throw open the door and step out. Cal, previously asleep in the back seat, jumps out of the door after me and gives a vigorous shake before strolling off to find a tree to pee on. Good luck buddy, in this part of Manhattan the only trees around are the ones on the rich people’s rooftops.

The passenger door slams. Will lets out a low whistle as his eyes sweep across the under-construction towers. “This place is huge.”

“Yeah, and empty. Just what I’d look for if I wanted to run a homeless person bus buffet.”

“God, I hope that’s not what’s happening. It’s too unreal to believe.”

“I believe it,” I say. This year I’ve seen spider-people pose as teachers, werewolves pose as cops and an octopus-man work in the public housing department. Why wouldn’t random assholes at a bus yard be in on the nightmare?

The bus depot comes into view as we walk down the street. It’s surrounded by a red-brick wall that rises for like twelve feet and seems to wrap around the entire block. There’s a single chain-link fence at the front, and behind it, a dozen buses sit parked with their lights off. I can’t see anyone moving around and I don’t hear any voices, though I doubt a bus yard would be empty.

My parents are waiting in a dark doorway across the street from the depot, both decked out in leather pants and jackets, hoodies up and Robin-style domino masks on. Will and I slip on our masks as we meet up. “So what’s the move?” I ask as I try to peer into the depot. “Do we know if anyone’s home?”

Dad shakes his head and points to Will. “No, but that’s why I asked you to bring him.”

He steps aside, revealing a large black duffel bag. It’s bigger than the one we usually keep our weapons and supplies in. Will’s face lights up when he sees it.

“Oh cool! You guys are giving me a weapon? Does that mean I’m going in with you?”

Dad eyebrows furrow and his lips curl up as he looks at Will like he just asked the dumbest question in the world. “Are you kidding me?”

He bends over and unzips the bag, revealing a jet-black little helicopter thing. He pulls out a joystick-thing and shoves it in Will’s hands. “Pilot this and tell us if anyone’s home.”

Will’s face falls. “Oh, a drone. Yeah, that totally makes sense, too. I got it.”

“Good, then get on it. Cal, you get up there, too.”

Cal gives a snort before shifting into his pigeon form and fluttering up and over the fence. A few seconds later Will’s got the drone out of the bag and the propellers are spinning up to life as it takes off the ground.

The drone’s got a camera attached to it, and Will’s got the video feed coming into his phone. “I don’t see anyone,” he says after a few moments.

I could’ve told you that,” Cal indignantly replies.

“Quit it,” Mom says.

Dad pulls out a bolt cutter from the duffel bag. “All right, let’s move. Sudo, stay out of sight and let us know if any surprises pop up.”

Will hangs back, but the rest of us are across the street in a flash. Dad takes the bolt cutter to the chain locking the fence and we’re in. We move behind an empty bus. Once we’re sure we’re clear we fan out, Mom and I heading west, Dad going east.

“What exactly are we looking for?” I ask Mom as I dart across to another row of busses. “Signs of troll snot? Spider webs?”

“Anything out of the ordinary,” Mom replies.

Will’s voice sounds over the comms. “Okay, Whitney and Outkast, there’s an office about twenty yards ahead of you. You’ve got a clear shot at it.”

“Got it,” Mom says. We count to two and sprint out from behind the bus to a large brick building with small windows.

So I found this great dress for you,” Mom says.

“Seriously? Can we not do this right now?”

“What? It’s not frilly at all! All you have to do is look at it.”

“Okay, for real; there might be a murder-y murder monster inside around here. How about we save dress talk until we’re done?”

“I bet Sudo already has his tuxedo picked out.”

Will chimes in. “I do! It’s navy blue with black trim.”

“Not helping!” I say.

We get to the large green metal door of the office. No surprise, it’s locked. Thankfully, Mom hasn’t met a lock she couldn’t pick. Three seconds and its open. Now it’s Cal’s turn.

“Cal, get in there,” Mom says.

On it!” Cal squeaks a moment before I see a pigeon dive bomb into the building. A few seconds, then he reports back. “There’s two men sitting in front of a computer around the corner.

I roll my eyes. “So much for the easy way.” I turn to Mom. “How do you want to do this? Shock-and-awe? Or does one of us go inside and pretend to be lost?”

“Shock-and-awe,” Mom says. “Cal, get back here and run the wild-dog routine.”

Yay! I love the wild dog routine!

Cal flutters in our direction before touching down and shifting back into a husky. Then he’s back off around the corner and a moment later a man’s surprised voice echoes.

“What the—”

He doesn’t get to finish because I’m already running up and introducing my elbow to his forehead. He collapses like a rock as Mom wraps the second guy up in a chokehold. He struggles against her grip, but she holds tight until he’s out.

“Well, that was easy,” I say.

“Easier than getting you into a dress for the dance,” Mom mumbles.

Oh come on!”

“What? Are you expecting to go dressed in leather and Kevlar?”

“I dunno…maybe?”

“NO!” Will’s voice chimes in.

“Excuse me,” I clap back. “It is the new millennium! No man gets to tell a woman what to wear!”

Dad enters the room and surveys the scene. “Really? Did you have to knock them unconscious?”

I throw my hands up in frustration. Apparently, it’s Everyone-Pile-on-Ria Day and I missed the memo. “I’m sorry; you’re the one who says they’re evil!”

“Whatever, look around and see if you find anything.”

We spread out, Mom and Dad sifting through files and folders on desks and posters and fliers on walls while I sit down at the computer and start clicking around through files. This computer is mostly filled with junk: cat memes, photos of girls in bikinis and news articles. But then I find a folder titled “Homeless Transport Plan.”

“Oh, hello there,” I say as I click it open. Sure enough, up pops a giant spreadsheet of names, destinations, transport dates, bus numbers; the whole deal.

“Bingo,” I whisper, before calling out to the others. “You guys should come see this.”

Mom and Dad gather around. “Well I’ll be damned,” Dad gasps. “This is everything. Good job.”

“It’s even got transport dates,” Mom notes. “With this, we could find out the next one and get on it.”

“Take a trip and see what’s really killing people,” Dad agrees.

“Road trip!” I say. “All right then, let’s just see when the next bus is scheduled to—oh, crap.”

I stop because my luck is shit. Of course, the next transport night is Thursday. Winter Formal night.

What’s in a name?

So I’m starting the rough outline of my next book series (it’ll probably be a trilogy set in the Ria Miller universe but in a different part of America) and one of the hardest parts is coming up with a decent name for my main character. I kinda feel like the main character’s name helps set the tone for the entire series.
For instance, in the earliest outlines of the Ria Miller series, Ria was actually named Cadence. Somehow I don’t think Cadence Miller and the Monsters would’ve had the same ring to it, and I don’t think Cadence Miller would be the same foul-mouthed, big-hearted character.
Also, in the very, very, very earliest drafts of the Demons of Sedona series, back when I had no idea what I was doing, Tobin was named Geru. I’m pretty glad that didn’t happen.
Anyway, I’ve got no idea what this character will be named yet, and I’m excited to see how it all shakes out.

Ria’s Broken Windows Excerpt

Ria's Broken WindowsFor your reading pleasure, here’s the first chapter of Ria’s Broken Windows, out on Amazon on December 4, 2017.

My right shoulder aches as I pick myself up off the dark blue carpeted floor of the hotel lobby. I put my hand to my nose and it comes away wet and red. Great, a freaking bloody nose. Just what I needed right now.

I wipe the blood on the side of my leather jacket and feel my shoulder. Its sore as shit but its not broken. Hooray for the little victories.

I crane my neck up and take in the view of the second-floor railing I just crashed through. The white wooden banister is shattered, with jagged edges hanging dangerously from above. Sucks; it felt like it was quality woodwork.

My name is Ria Miller, and Im having the worst time tonight.

You already know that I just fell from the second floor of this building, which just so happens to be the Champion Hotel; the swankiest hotel in downtown Brooklyn. What you dont know is that I got my ass tossed by a revenant a vengeful spirit that spreads disease and tries to rip people open.

Hes all pissed that I tried to make him dead. Well, deader than he already is. Im mad that I got blood on my new jacket. Ive gone through like five of these in the past month.

My moms voice sounds in my earpiece. I heard a crash. You okay?

Before I can answer, the revenant glides down from the balcony, floating on a dark cloud as it makes its way toward me.

So heres the deal: theres, like, a gazillion people in New York City. And it just so happens theres almost as many things that would like to slice, dice and crunch on those people. My parents and I hunt those things, monsters like trolls, shape-shifters, vampires, and—oh yeah—Casper the asshole ghost here.

If youve never seen a revenant before—and I hope you havent—heres what you need to know: they look like characters in the most messed-up Tim Burton movie you can imagine. Theyre see-through, their skin is a bluish-white, their hands and feet are usually rotting, their mouths are dark voids, and their eyes are usually black orbs. Unless theyre pissed at you, in which case their eyes are a deep red.

This guy is looking at me with eyes as red as the blood on my hand. So, yeah, bad times all around.

Can I get back to you? I tell Mom as I take in the area around the lobby, looking for a way out.

Its a nice place, with warm-colored wooden desks, big crystal flower vases, and a red brick fireplace that looks like it doesnt get much use. The ghost is blocking my path to both the elevator and the stairs. Ive got a clear line at the front door, but I cant leave this thing alone with my Mom.

That leaves the fireplace.

The revenants mouth opens wide, and I take a step back. Revenant screams are no joke. If a ghost screams in your face, youd better hope youre standing in a salt circle. Otherwise, you wont have a face much longer.

Unfortunately, theres no salt here.

Running out of options, I dive toward the fireplace and wrap my hands around a black poker. I breathe a little sigh of relief when I feel the steel and I chuck it right at the ghost. Theres a huge puff of black smoke as the poker passes through the revenant before crashing onto a counter and knocking over a vase. Shit, that looked pricey. Im glad were doing this for free; no one can dock our pay.

I look around for the revenant. Its nowhere to be found. Ghosts dont get along with steel; it tends to make them vanish. I think they like salt even less, but theyre not exactly the chatty type. You know, since theyre trying to make your face melt.

I rest my hands on my knees and try to catch my breath. Man, they better be giving customers a discount on rooms, I huff.

Once Im fairly sure I wont get attacked again, I radio back to Mom. Sorry about that. I just had a run in with our spook.

You all right?

I windmill my arm, wincing at the pain in my shoulder. Nothing a bigger allowance wont heal.

Dream on, Outkast, Mom snorts, using my code-name. We try not to use our real names when working a job.

Ill have you know I just got tossed off a balcony.

Maybe do less of that.

I grumble under my breath before getting back to business. Theres no sense in messing around when theres an unwanted, undead hotel guest here. Besides, the hotels only going to be closed for about four more hours. We need to be long gone before that.

Well, I can safely say that the second floor is anchor-free, I announce. You find whats keeping this jerk here?

Negative. Im heading to the fourth floor next. You check the basement.

Just so you know, going down into the basement when theres a ghost in the building is exactly how most black girls die in horror movies.

So I suppose you should be thankful that youre no ordinary girl.

Now youre just trying to flatter me.

Always. Im heading up. Radio if you find anything.

I take a moment to pat my pockets and check for my gear. I can feel my lighter, my gasoline flask, and my slingshot at my waist. My hands then move to the pouch belt I keep strapped to my chest. I feel in each pouch, taking stock of the number of salt balls Ive got. I shake the cobwebs out of my head and trudge to the elevator, smacking a large bronze down button and sighing.

Mom and I are in this ritzy hotel the Saturday night before Thanksgiving because the revenants been scaring the shit out of guests for the past month and a half. Hotel management was willing to ignore all the terrified complaints from customers until they found a woman in room 601 without her face. They couldnt ignore that, so they called the cops. And it just so happens one particular cop tends to call us when things like this happen.

My parents met with the hotel manager and convinced him to shut the place down for the night to let us work uninterrupted. It wasnt hard; people tend to be more willing to play along with you when the alternative is a supernaturally painful death. Hell, earlier this month some bankers basically begged us to pretend to be tellers at a bank that was being robbed by shapeshifters.

Now, a shuttered hotel has its advantages: its a lot easier to throw around pokers if you dont have to worry about hitting a maid. But theres a downside, too: revenants tend to want to kill people, and tonight were the only ones in here that fit the killable description.

 Normally this wouldnt be any problem. My parents and I have taken down more than our share of revenants in the five years weve been doing this. But then Dad got called away at the last minute to deal with a murder in Queens, leaving us to worry about the revenant.

Yeah, just another normal night in the Miller house.

Standard procedure in revenant cases is to sweep the building for what we call an anchor, an object of the deceased thats keeping their spirit here. Something like an old hat, a favorite shirt, an ancient love letter, maybe even a pair of dentures. Once you find it, torching it with salt and gasoline will usually get rid of the ghost.

We started out with the standard procedure and things were actually going smoothly for a while. Mom and I each ran a sweep of a hotel floor to see if we could find the anchor. But then I ran into the ghost himself on the secondfloor landing, andwell, you saw how that turned out.

The elevator arrives and I hop in, groaning as I lean back against the wall for the ride. I know I shouldnt let my guard down while were hunting a revenant, but I just got thrown off a stairwell. Its been that kind of night.

Hell, its been that kind of month. Weve won a lot of our fights against the supernatural, but lately, it feels like each time I have to get beat up a little bit worse. This shit wears on you.

The elevator opens to a dark basement hallway thats only lit by the soft red glow of exit signs at the opposite end. I sigh, pulling out my flashlight and clicking it on. Who thought it was a good idea to leave all the lights off in the basement? Doesnt anyone watch horror movies?

Slowly, I make my way across the dark hallway, taking pains not to bang my shins on anything as I look for the laundry room. My hope is that the spook ordered dry cleaning before he died and maybe his favorite suit is still here. Otherwise, we could be here all night.

I turn a corner and my flashlight shines across a sign hanging from the ceiling that says laundry. How convenient.

I follow the sign and find myself in a long, windowless room with three rows of stacked washers and dryers on one side. Theres a clothing rack, a long table, and a bunch of laundry bags on the other end. I guess Im in the right place.

Without wasting any time, I start plowing through all of the bags, looking forI dont know, something that looks old or blood-splattered.

Dammit, I growl. You just HAD to go die in a hotel. Couldnt go haunting a single bathroom? What about a cubbie?

I dig through my fifth clothing bag when I come across an old, poop-brown-colored tweed jacket. Hello, I say as I pull it out. You certainly look ugly enough to be something only the soon-to-be dead would be caught alive wearing.

Of course, I have no idea whether or not this belonged to the spook, and I wont know till I set it on fire. So I place the blazer on the ground, pop the top of my flask and douse that sucker in gas. I reach into my pouch belt and break a salt ball, sprinkling the crystals over it. Finally, I pull out my lighter.

If Im wrong about this Im setting someones blazer on fire for no reason. Then again, you could also say Im doing a public service.

I flick the lighter on, but before I can drop it a jolt of energy smacks into my body. I go flying again, this time slamming against a washing machine with enough force that I begin to question my choice of nighttime activities.

The revenants red eyes shine through the dark as I try hopelessly to move. Im pinned, held in place by the spirits mojo. And as the revenant glides closer to me, I also realize I am so, so fucked.

The revenant opens its mouth. I close my eyes.


I open my eyes in time to see a giant black and white dog as it dives through the revenant, causing it to go poof again. Im released from its hold and fall to the ground.

I cough for a moment before rubbing my aching back and turning to the dog, a big black-and-white husky puppy with blue eyes and a pink nose. It comes up to me and licks my face before sitting and wagging its tail, looking like the proudest pup ever.

What the hell took you so long? I shout at the dog, which isnt actually a dog at all. Its really Cal, a young shape-shifter my parents and I took in two weeks ago after the whole bank-robber thing. Im not sure what Cals real shape is, but he spends most of his time as the dog.

He starts scratching at the collar on his neck, his pink tongue lolling out of his mouth. Sorry! I was on the fourth floor and I got distracted by the smells! All of the bed sheets smell like poop! Theres so many stories in poop!

I shake my head, in part because Im still not used to hearing the shape-shifter beam his thoughts directly into my brain and partly because that might be the grossest thing Ive ever heard. No wonder the ghost is haunting this place. Im definitely taking a star off my review.

I dust myself off and pick up my lighter as Cal continues to scratch his neck. I swat at his head. Would you stop that, already?

I cant help it! This new collar itches!

Thats cause the tags are solid steel. And you should be thankful; without that collar, the revenant wouldve turned you into dog food back there. Now watch my back, will you?

Cal barks in enthusiasm and spins around twice as I flick on the lighter and hold the flame to the blazer. Soon the whole thing catches fire.

Cal leans against me and I rub his head. What do you think, did that do the trick?

Cal barks once, then his head cranes behind. A low growl rumbles in his chest. I turn to see the revenant charging at us.

Oh, come on! I say in disbelief as I pull out my slingshot. Why is it never easy? I load in a salt ball and fire, but the revenants wised up. This time he disappears on his own before the salt can hit him, only to reappear a second later.

Shiiit, I groan as I fire more salt shots. Maybe help out, Cal?

Cal barks in reply and takes off. But he doesnt head toward the ghost. No, he runs behind a washing machine.

Coward! I shout as I fire my last salt shot. The revenant dodges and swings at me. I roll to the side and get to my feet. Crap, Im out of salt and Ive got nothing steel. I need to come up with a plan fast.

Cal comes charging out from behind the washing machine. Hes got a pair of lace panties in his mouth. Im about to scold him when he tosses them on top of the blazinger, blazer. They smoke for a moment before catching fire.

The revenant lets out a pained scream in front of me before stumbling backward. His eyes turn back black, and he erupts into smoke. Then hes gone.

I walk over to the pile of burning clothes. Cals sitting in front of them, wagging his tail like he doesnt have a care in the world. Well Ill be damned, I say to him. No wonder the hotel staff couldnt figure out which items belonged to him. Howd you know those were his?

“Smelled it,” he says as if its the most obvious thing in the world. He then trots happily toward the elevator. I rub my aching back for a moment before looking around for a fire extinguisher.

This is my new normal. Hunting monsters with the help of a monster of my own.

I am so getting too old for this.

Run, Nigel, Run

Oh, hey, it’s my blog! It’s still here! I’m still here!

In all seriousness, I know it’s been a long time since anyone’s heard from me, and I’m really sorry and I promise I won’t go this long without an author update ever again. But, since you’re here, why don’t I give you a little peek into what I’ve been up to?

Generally, when I’m silent on the blog it’s because I’m hard at work on a new novel, and that’s TOTALLY the case this time. I’ve been working on the Ria Miller series almost from the moment I finished Daywalker last spring. It’s been a year of non-stop writing.

I worked on the Ria Miller stories at home, I worked on them in coffee shops. I even worked on them while on a train in Europe. (Okay, that was awesome. I had a tiny bottle of wine and my manuscript and I felt like I was living out every writer’s fantasy.)

Living the dream!

Bottom line, I’ve been writing a ton. But it’s so worth it because I’m so in love with these stories and I can’t wait to give you more details about them. I’ll have a lot more to say about Ria Miller in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

In the rare moments that I wasn’t writing, I tried my hand at running. And, thanks to the encouragement of my good friend Julia Kelly (who writes awesome romance novel that you should totally check out), I even managed to run my first 5K race, knocking out one of my two New Year’s resolutions. (The other is to hit the bestseller list, but that’s for another day.)

Me on the right, Julia on the left. Who says writers aren’t active?

I also traveled a lot. I got to plant my little flag in a bunch of new places during the year, like Montreal, Milan, Marseille, Barcelona, Miami, and Palm Springs. I didn’t get to travel much as a kid, so getting to visit so many new places was a treat.

All in all, it was a packed year and one that was super rewarding. But I’m back now, which means I’m going to have news on the Ria Miller front. Stay tuned!

The Winner of the Kindle Fire HD 6 Is

Hi everyone! As promised back in June, I’m giving away a Kindle Fire HD 6 today to one lucky member of my mailing list. I’m happy to announce the winner is:

Nadya R.

Congrats Nadya! I’ll be emailing the winner privately to confirm their win. The winner will have 48 hours from the time the email is sent to respond, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

Thanks to everyone who played. There will be more giveaways in the fall, so stay tuned!

I’m Giving Away A Kindle Fire HD 6

Kindle Fire HD6In celebration of the release of Death Walker and to thank my readers for being some of the greatest people around, I’m raffling off a Kindle Fire HD 6. The contest is open exclusively to members of my mailing list. If you’re already a member you’re automatically entered into the raffle. If you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for?

Giveaway Details:

Prize Valued at $99. Winner will have the  choice of an Amazon.com gift code to purchase a Kindle or alternately winner can choose to receive $99 in Paypal Cash. Ends 7/31/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or an Amazon.com gift code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by random drawing and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.


What makes for a good villain?

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot recently as I edit the end of the Sedona series. What makes for an entertaining and memorable villain? They’re evil, sure, but it has to be more than that, there has to be something compelling beyond the evil plan to destroy the world or kill the hero or rule the kingdom.

I think the reader has to see the villain as a character of their own right and not just a force against the hero. The villain has wants and goals and has to overcome obstacles (mainly the hero) to get to those goals. The villain has a personality, whether it’s cold and calculating or maniacal and unpredictable. Because I think part of what makes a villain great is how their goals stand against the hero’s, and what the villain is willing to do to achieve them.

I’ve been watching a lot of the Flash, Arrow and the Legend of Korra lately, and the villains that stood out to me on those shows are the Reverse Flash, Slade Wilson and Zaheer of the Red Lotus. In each of those stories we learn a lot about the villains during their arcs, and we spend enough time with them that we understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, even if we don’t agree with their choices. Part of what made the Reverse Flash so appealing was we knew he was watching Barry the whole season, and it built this sense of dread as we wondered what he was planning and why he was working to keep Barry safe.

Slade Wilson was the best villain I’d seen in a while, in part because we saw him and Oliver before, as good friends. We then saw how Shado’s death weighed heavily on him to the point that he became a bitter man, consumed by his hatred of Oliver. So it made sense that he’d go after everything Oliver held dear.

Zaheer was fascinating to watch because here was a man who followed the teaching of airbending masters, a group that’s known for their peace and non-violence, and used their powers to cause so much destruction. Be he only did it because he felt convinced that chaos was the natural order of the world. He also saw himself as a true bringer of balance, rather than Avatar Korra.

So because we understood the journey those villains took, I think we all felt their final fights were earned, because in the end it was their will vs the hero’s, and only one person would get what they wanted.

So there you have it: what I think makes a villain compelling. Now that I’ve written it down, feel free to call me on it if I don’t deliver layered villains in my stories.

NaNoWriMo Day 5

So far so good. About 7,500 words in, which means I’ll hit today’s word goal. For anyone on the fence about trying NaNo: do it. It’s challenging, but completely doable as long as you’re dedicated. It’s also a hell of a lot more fun than book marketing.