Monday, June 22, 2015


I am incredibly proud and enormously relieved to announce that today, Evernight Publishing has released my urban fantasy novel THE TIES THAT BLEED. The Amazon link for the ebook is here: (the paperback will be out in a month or so.)

Diana Rowan has more kills than any other vampire assassin in the FBI. Except she hasn't staked a vamp in ten years. Now Diana's married to a doctor and mom to eight-year-old Katie. And while she's still with the Bureau, she spends her time in the classroom, teaching the next generation of vampire assassins how to track, stake, and decapitate bloodsuckers. Then Ian, the fang who nearly killed her, returns from the grave. To keep her family safe, Diana has to go on the hunt once more. With time running out, she is forced to turn to another vampire for help: Gerard, who created Ian. Who was once Diana's lover. And who’ll do anything to get her back.

Dear reader, I’ve been working on this project for thirteen years!

In 2002, before anyone had ever heard of Twilight, Buffy was all the rage, and I was also a fan of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, as well as the Geena Davis movie The Long Kiss Goodnight. I was writing screenplays at the time, and I found myself obsessed with the idea of a character – a mom with a dark past, someone who was at war with the darkness inside herself. The script that finally emerged from these elements was BLOODLINES, which took me about a year and a half to write and got me some attention. It was a semi-finalist at Austin and won a contest called Screamfest. I got plenty of reads from producers and managers, but while many people loved the script, everyone seemed to think the vampire craze was over.

And then Twilight hit, and the vampire craze really was over!

I put Bloodlines on a metaphorical shelf and wrote a few more horror scripts. Then a few years ago I turned to novels. After I wrote KEEPING SCORE, and while I was still trying to get an agent for it, I decided that I’d self-publish a novelized version of Bloodlines. I inputted my screenplay into Word and did the first draft of turning it into a novel.

It was 32,000 words, or about 120 pages. About half of what it needed to be to be considered novel-length. So while I was marketing KEEPING SCORE, which I eventually ended up self-publishing, I was also doing the painstaking work of making a story twice as long as it had been. I lengthened scenes, added characters and flashbacks, and explained things I’d only hinted at. (Of course the irony is I selfpubbed the book I wanted to publish traditionally, and I found a popular indie publisher for the book I was going to self-publish.)

What did that entail? Here’s the first scene from the screenplay. In the book, it’s the start of chapter two.

A full moon bathes DIANA ROWAN in white light. Diana's in
her mid-30s, with a strong, exotic beauty that can't be
placed. She drives the shovel into the earth again and again.

KATIE, 8, her face streaked with dirt and tears, sits on the
muddy ground next to Diana. She strokes the fur of a dead

Diana kneels next to Katie.

Why did Brownie have to die?

Diana hesitates. Gazes up at the moon like she sees things
no one else can.

Brownie lived a good life. It was
his time.

It wasn't my time! I want him back!

He can't come back. It's over.

Diana kisses the top of Katie's head.

When we're at church tomorrow, you
can ask God to take care of him.

She straightens up.

Why don't you go inside. Have Daddy
give you some ice cream.

Katie nods. She gives the dog a final hug, then hurries off.

Diana waits a moment. Then breaks the shovel handle in two.
Diana kneels next to the dog.

I know this isn't fair... and probably
not even necessary... but I can't
take any chances where my family is

She drives the jagged end of the wooden shovel handle into
the dog's chest.

And here’s the novelization:

My daughter is too young to have to learn about death.

Yet here we are. It’s nearly 8:30 on a Saturday night, and we are burying her dog in our backyard.
Her father should be doing this. He’s a doctor. He deals with life and death every day. But he’s at the hospital. As usual.
I bury the shovel into the hard earth. It’s October in Virginia, and we haven’t had a freeze yet, but the ground is solid and compact. Still, it’s not really an issue for me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watch Katie stroke Brownie’s fur. Her tears fall on his muzzle.
I want to kill the person who made my daughter cry.
“I don’t understand,” she says. “He wasn’t old. He didn’t get hit by a car. Why did he have to die?”
I take a deep breath. One of these days, my daughter will realize that I always breathe deeply before I lie to her.
“He was sick, sweetie. He was sick, and we didn’t know it until it was too late.”
She looks at me, brown eyes full of accusations. You didn’t know, Mom. It’s your fault. But she doesn’t say it.
“Did Brownie go to heaven?”
The Catholic Church says that animals don’t have souls. But the Catholic Church lies to its followers as much as I lie to my family.
I nod. “At mass tomorrow, you can ask God to take care of him.”
My cell phone beeps with a text from Robert. He’s almost home.

“Daddy will be here any minute,” I tell Katie. “Why don’t you make some ice cream sundaes? You know Daddy loves eating ice cream with you.”
“I want to see it. I want to see you put Brownie in the ground.”
I drop the shovel and put both hands on my daughter’s shoulders. “No, you don’t.”
She glares at me again. Eight years old and more like a teenager every day. I wonder if she’ll be like I was as a teen. She’s already more stubborn and cynical than I was then. It will probably be worse.
Finally, she shakes me off and stomps into the house.
I wait until I know she’s in the kitchen. The kitchen is at the front of our house.
I break the shovel handle over my knee. It splinters, nice and sharp.
I was the one who found Brownie. At first I thought he was asleep. The back yard isn’t the most comfortable spot, but dogs can sleep anywhere. He looked so peaceful. But when I nudged him with my foot, his head fell back at a strange angle and his tongue lolled out.
Robert was supposed to let him in that night, but he’d forgotten. I wanted a necropsy, but my husband said no. He didn’t see the point. Said that Brownie must have been sick. Brushed off my concerns about a deliberate poisoning. Maybe he just felt guilty.
It could mean nothing. Or could it mean trouble. Trouble that could come in any form. I can’t afford to brush it aside.
I kneel next to Brownie. Even though I know he can’t hear me, it makes me feel better to whisper in his ear. “I know this isn’t fair… and probably not even necessary… but I can’t take any chances where my family is concerned.”
I drive the shovel’s jagged edge deep into my dog’s chest.
Nothing happens.
Whoever killed him didn’t do anything else. But the thought isn’t comforting.
I avoid the sight of Brownie’s ruined chest as I claw out the rest of the hole with the broken shovel. Training tells me at least six feet down, but I stop at three. Whatever else is down there, I don’t want to see it. It’s been a while, but I’ve seen enough.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you love the book. And who knows, if I sell enough copies, maybe I write a sequel!

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