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NOLA StoryCon recap, revisions and more

This won't be the extensive recap that our first NOLA StoryCon deserves, but that's because revisions for Into The Fire just landed and I have to get cracking at them. Before I get into that, however, I did have to talk a little about our author-run, inaugural reader convention that took place at the beginning of the month. Many of you know that I was one of the hosting authors of NOLA StoryCon, along with Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, Ilona Andrews and Jennifer L. Armentrout. Much like when I first started writing books, I soon found out that there was a LOT more involved to planning and running a convention than I had originally believed. Big thanks to my co-hosts, and big thanks also to Molly Harper, Jeannette Battista, Alison Armstrong and others who helped us get things kicked off! It was a lot of work even when things went smoothly, but like any first endeavor, there were also some snags. For example, the image below sums up my feelings when we found out only a month before the convention that the hotel restaurant was under construction and thus, there would be no on-site restaurant or room service:


We also had wonderful surprises. We sold a little over five hundred event tickets and thought that a hundred or so more people would show up to the public group signing. Instead, we had over fourteen hundred people attend the signing. That made me feel like this:


Readers, bloggers, volunteers, guest authors - you hit it out of the park. You really did. For a first event, this sort of response is almost unheard of, and to say that we were shocked and humbled is to put it mildly. This leads me to the best part of NOLA StoryCon: getting to see old friends again, having former acquaintances turn into new friends, and meeting new people, either for the first time, or for the first time "in person" (online peeps, you know what I mean.) That makes all the work more than worth it. I can't wait until next year to do it all over again, and we already started selling tickets for NOLA StoryCon 2017, so go here to check out what we have in store next. Incredibly, we're almost sold out of our "early bird" all-event pass, so don't wait if you're interested, and the hotel booking link will go up on Wednesday. To accommodate our unexpected growth, we switched hotels so that we will have a larger venue (over three times the size of our last event!) and this new hotel also has something that I consider priceless: room service ;).

Before I talk any more about what I loved, I also have to give a shout out to guest of honor Charlaine Harris for being her usual, incredibly gracious self; to all our guest authors because they are fabulous, to our guest bloggers for their insight and for helping spread the word; to our industry guests for making the Aspiring Author panel so informative; to our volunteers because we couldn't have done it without you; to our sponsors for donating books, Goody bags and more; and to our attendees because you rocked this so hard, we are still in a happy daze! Finally, on a personal note, I have to thank God because this whole thing felt like a huge blessing.

There were too many great moments to list, but I wanted to highlight one that I thought you might find funny. In addition to our regular events, there were also walking tours where readers could hang out with their favorite authors while also learning more about New Orleans. In labeling the tours, we tried to be clever by naming them things like "Magic and Mayhem" which talked about voodoo and other things, or "Haunts and History" which went into some ghost stories while also delving into - you guessed it - history, and "Naughty Nola" which, among other things, talked about the famous  former red-light district Storyville. However, due to some last-minute changes, there was a little confusion about where guests were supposed to meet up for the tours (that and other glitches caused us to switch tour companies for 2017) but one morning, while I was hustling from one event to another, I got a phone call from fellow co-host Melissa Marr. I'll recap it here:

Melissa: I'm at the meeting place for the Naught Nola tour, but we're missing some people who bought tickets to the tour. I want to make sure they're not in the hotel lobby, so can you see if anyone is waiting for the tour there? And if they are, tell them where they should go?

Me: Sure. *puts down cell phone, looks around at crowded lobby, loses all capacity for critical thinking in my urgency to make sure that no one misses their tour, shouts* "Is anyone here for Naughty Nola?"

All I got in response were shocked, blank stares from the people in the lobby. Because I still didn't realize how this would sound to people who hadn't heard of the tour, I did what all idiots do: shout louder thinking that it will help others understand.

Me: "I said, is anyone here for Naughty Nola? WHO'S HERE FOR NAUGHTY NOLA? IF YOU'RE HERE FOR NAUGHTY NOLA, COME WITH ME!"

*facepalm* I'm only amazed that someone didn't say "You're in the wrong place, honey. The swingers' hotel is to the left" because actually, there was a swingers' building right next to ours, as we later found out.

Ah, New Orleans, home of countless embarrassing moments ;) Until we do this again next year, here are some pictures from this year's NOLA StoryCon. You can see more on our Facebook page here.

host-author-panel Welcome panel at the Sweet Mardi Gras. Featuring: Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris, Melissa Marr, me, Ilona and Gordon Andrews, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Part of the ballroom at the Sweet Mardi Gras. It was packed. Part of the ballroom at the Sweet Mardi Gras. It was packed.

Me and Melissa Marr in our costumes for the Big Easy dinner Me and Melissa Marr in our costumes for the Big Easy dinner.

Two of the costume winners at the Big Easy dinner. Two of the costume winners at the Big Easy dinner.

Me with Ilona and Gordon Andrews Me with Ilona and Gordon Andrews.

Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr and I presenting Charlaine Harris with a vampire merman gift at the Crescent City Brunch. Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr and I presenting Charlaine Harris with a vampire merman gift at the Crescent City Brunch.


I'm finally done writing Into The Fire, the fourth and final Night Prince novel. This was my editor's actual response to getting the completed manuscript in her inbox:



And this was my agent's actual response:


*snickers* I think they were both almost as happy as I am that this books is done!

Writers, check this out!

Many of you might know that I became friends with New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr right after I sold my first book. This was right after Melissa sold her first book, too, and since she was the first writer friend I'd ever had, I immediately lobbed my newly-purchased manuscript at her to ask for her feedback (I'm subtle that way! ;)). Her responses were so on target and insightful that Melissa has been giving me editorial notes on my books ever since.

This week, Melissa announced that in addition to writing her own fabulous novels, she will also be offering freelance editorial services on a limited basis. In addition to racking up awards and starred reviews for her books, Melissa has also co-edited several anthologies and taught university literature. Her very impressive CV is hereand on this same page, you can find information about her rates and availability (she has limited spacing, but is still taking on both published and unpublished writers.)

Now, some of you might wonder if I'm biased by recommending Melissa, and I understand that. She and I have been friends for a long time, after all. So, I'd like to point you to what these people are saying about Melissa's editorial skills:

"Melissa Marr is an invaluable beta reader. Insightful, wise and smart." -- Neil Gaiman,  #1 NYT bestselling author .

“I’ve written middle-grade, young adult and adult novels and short fiction, in fantasy, mystery and romance, and no matter what the genre, format or age group, I know I can go to Melissa for top-notch editorial advice.”-- Kelley Armstrong, #1 NYT bestselling author.

"Melissa Marr is not just a wonderful editor, but a fierce advocate for the story you're working to tell. She'll help you make your work better than you ever imagined it could be." -- Rachel Caine, NYT bestselling author of The Great Library and Morganville Vampires series.

"In my fifteen years as a professional writer and editor, I've never worked with anyone more astute, more thoughtful, or more insightful about all aspects of fiction writing than Melissa Marr." -- Tim Pratt, Hugo Award winning author and editor of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

"Melissa Marr has a keen eye for quality literature, and her extensive experience makes her an ideal editor for anyone hoping to bring their work to the next level."-- Beth Revis, NYT bestselling author of YA Science Fiction

“Melissa Marr is an incredible editor who is simultaneously able to look at the big picture and help fine-tune the nuances that really sell a story. If you're looking for someone to help you take your plot, characters, or world-building to the next level, you could not find a better, more market-savvy set of eyes.” --  Dr. Jennifer Lynn Barnes award-winning author of The Naturals, Raised by Wolves, and The Fixer.

Once again, if you're in the market for a freelance editor, I highly recommend Melissa Marr and you can find more information about her services here.

Finally, not much new to talk about with me as I feverishly try to finish Into The Fire, the final Night Prince book, in the next two weeks. "Outside" is just a word in the dictionary right now, and I don't quite have coffee set up on an IV pole next to my desk, but give me time :).

That's why, when a friend Tweeted the below picture at me, I laughed out loud. This pretty much sums up how things are going for me, and no doubt countless other writers can relate, too. If you've ever thought "Hey, I'll write a book, how hard can it be?" then I advise that you NOT look at the picture. You might not be ready for the truth yet, heh.

For the rest of you, enjoy! And yes, say it. Say it OUT LOUD *wink*.


The Voice

Note: This is one of my "Jeaniene talks about personal stuff" posts, so skip if you only want professional news or publishing/book updates.

I read every note readers send to me, and today, I read one that brought me to tears. This is not the first time this has happened, by the way. When readers pour out their hearts to me, they’re also reaching in and grabbing hold of mine, and it's not as icy or hardened as I sometimes pretend it to be ;).

Anyway, this reader was thanking me for my Night Prince series heroine, Leila, because she could really relate to Leila’s nasty inner voice. I won’t go into more detail about her letter because I don’t want to violate her privacy, but this reader’s bravery in revealing her own struggle inspired me to reveal something I don’t think I’ve said in pubic before:

I based Leila’s dark, negative inner voice off my own.

This is one of the few times I’ve based a significant character trait off of myself. Most of my heroines are quite different than me, actually. For example, I love to sit on the couch and read or watch TV. My heroines, on the other hand, love to go out, find trouble, kick ass and take names, sometimes with or without underwear (my Night Huntress readers will get that joke ;)). But I gave Leila the same cruel inner voice that I have, so it was easy for me to write those scenes because I have lots of first-hand experience. Now, just like Leila, I don’t “hear” an actual, audible voice. Instead, it’s more like a set of thoughts that tend to rear up in stressful situations in order to make them worse. Or, it shows up in happy moments to spoil them with predictions of doom. Unlike Leila, though, my dark inner voice never grew strong enough to drive me to a suicide attempt. But, back when I was a teen and simultaneously battling bulimia and bullying, it did cause me to fleetingly consider it (side note to any teens reading this: things DO get better, so hang in there! And if you need help, please, ask for it, either in person or from a helpline.)

I can’t tell you if it was my bulimia that created this dark inner voice or if this dark inner voice drove me to bulimia; that’s a chicken/egg sort of thing. But I can say that this harsh internal monologue was what played in my head when, as early as age twelve, I would force myself to throw up after almost every meal as punishment for not being as thin as I believed I was “supposed” to be. That harsh internal voice also lasted long past getting treatment for bulimia, and even long past finding the faith that caused me to base my self-worth on God’s love for me instead of on other people’s opinions of what I should or shouldn’t look like (or do, or say, etc., ad nauseam, etc.)

That dark inner voice is still with me today. Thankfully, it’s no longer constant and it’s also much quieter, but it has still made some bad days worse while also ruining good days, too. Plus, on a professional level, it has hijacked many, many writing days by filling me with doubt, angst and negativity, until the words come out at a crawl or sometimes not at all. It’s popping up even now, insinuating that sharing this in public will cause readers not to buy my books because if I have these doubts and I’m the author, then my books must be crap, so avoid them! And so on and so on.

Yet I am able to share this in public because I know not to trust my nasty inner voice, let alone to allow it to dictate my actions. It’s based in lies even if it does manage to randomly hit on a truth once in a while. Yes, to some readers, my books are crap, but you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Reading is subjective and one person’s perfume is another person’s poison. Imagine how dull the literary world - let alone life! - would be if everyone liked the same thing. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve disliked that other people have loved (The Great Gatsby and almost everything by Hemingway, just to name a few) while I’ve loved other books that some people haven’t liked (the entire romance genre is dissed by many, yet it’s my favorite genre, plus I love almost everything by Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe, and Moby Dick is a favorite, too, to throw in some classics.)

So, to the reader who wrote me to say that she is still struggling with her own dark inner critic, big hugs to you! So am I, and so is my heroine, Leila. Sometimes, we find our victories by still being in the fight instead of the fight being over with. That’s okay; it’s victory nonetheless. One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I will trust in You; In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust, I will not be afraid.” For me, this reinforces that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my fears (or my struggles or even my failures) because the Psalmist says “when” I fear, not “if” I fear. The “I will not be afraid” at the end is, to me, a statement of hope for the future that transcends current circumstances or feelings.  I might not be there yet, but in faith I keep putting one foot in front of the other.

For a more modern take, I give you a sampling of the lyrics to one of the songs on my current playlist. It’s called “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes. As I said in the beginning of this post, I’m not the literal kick-ass type, so you would find me in a boxing ring about two degrees before hell froze over :). But the boxer analogy below encapsulates the “fighting is the real victory” point I was trying to make, only in a far more succinct manner:

Until the referee rings the bell
Until both your eyes start to swell
Until the crowd goes home
What we gonna do, y'all?

Give 'em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life til we're dead
Give me scars, give me pain
Then just say to me, say to me, say to me
There goes a fighter…

So *raises glass* here's to all the fighters out there, whatever you're struggling with or fighting against!


Nola StoryCon giveaway

WebAd3-NolaStoryConAs I've mentioned before, I'm one of the Host authors for Nola StoryCon, a Mardi Gras for readers coming next month in New Orleans, LA. To celebrate our inaugural conference, we're holding a giveaway for residents of our convention home state in Louisiana. So, if you're interested, here are the details:

The authors of NOLA StoryCon are offering 10 tickets for the Crescent City Brunch held on Sunday, Oct 2 in a giveaway exclusively open to Louisiana residents.

To enter, send your name and an image of a Louisiana drivers license (or other proof of residency) to: nolastorycon AT gmail.com by September 1. You may black out or hide your street address with tape/paper—we simply need to see that you are a Louisiana resident.

We'll notify the randomly selected winners by September 5.

If you haven't heard me talk about Nola StoryCon before now, please click the website link to learn more. For a quick rundown, here are the host authors: me, Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, Ilona Andrews and Jennifer L. Armentrout. Special guest: Charlaine Harris. Attending authors: Lara Adrian,  Jeanette Battista,   Jenna Black,  Rachel Caine,   Kresley ColeZoraida CordovaCora Carmack,   Jay Crownover,  Kimberly Derting,  Sonali Dev,   Kami Garcia,   Molly HarperKevin Hearne,  Wendy Higgins, Beverly Jenkins,  Sophie Jordan,   Laura Kaye,   Katie McGarry,  Chloe Neill,  Jana Oliver,  Pamela Palmer,   Aprilynne Pike,   Kristen Proby,  Gena ShowalterRachel Vincent,  Jaye Wells,  Sarah Wendelland  Samantha Young . Special guest bloggers: Jackie from Literary Escapism, Jenn from Red Hot Books, and Chelsea from Vampire Book Club .

If you're not a Louisiana resident but you still want to come to Nola StoryCon, good news! We still have Crescent City Brunch tickets available to buy here.

Of course, no tickets are necessary to come to our public author signing on Saturday, October 1st from 2pm - 4pm. Once again, go here for details.
Ilona Andrews posted this about her morning, so I thought I'd add my own version of events ;). This could be the start of a joke called "How Many Emails Are Needed To Finalize A Convention Booklet?" The answer would be LOTS.

I'll start off by copying Ilona's format on her blog. So, Jeaniene, you were up at 7:30am. Did you start writing right away?


Why not?

Because I am one of the Host authors for Nola StoryCon and it was my job to proofread the convention booklet before we finalize it for printing. After carefully looking it over last night, I sent this email to fellow Host author and BFF Ilona Andrews. As you can see, I start out with a laughable amount of confidence.

Me last night: Here is the proof of the convention booklet! I've looked it over and everything's great. Isn't it pretty?

Ilona's reply this morning. Why am I the only Host author without an ad in it?

Me: (stupidly replying before my first cup of coffee, hence my brain is still asleep): Oh, it's there. Your publisher did it. *Then, AFTER I sent the email and drank my coffee, it finally occurs to me to double-check the booklet. Wouldn't you know it, there's no ad for Ilona in it!

Me:  *emails designer* Hold off on sending this in for finalization! We're missing an ad.

Me: *emails Ilona again* Okay, my bad. Your publisher didn't do the ad and you might have forgotten to send it in because you've been so busy. Looks, here is where I emailed you last month reminding you to do the ad. :::smugly encloses screenshot:::

Ilona's reply:  And here is where I sent you the finished ad last month. :::encloses screenshot that deflates my prior smugness:::

Me:  Oh sh*t! SO sorry. All right, send me the ad again and I'll put it in the booklet.

Ilona: *sends the ad*

Me: *Forwards the ad to the designer* Here we go, we're all set now!

Ilona: *emails again 20 minutes later* Wait, I need to redo the ad!

Me: *emails designer* Hold off on the ad for Ilona! A new one is coming.

Ilona: *sends new ad an hour later*

Me: *doing other work, doesn't notice it*

Ilona: *20 minutes after sending new ad* Wait, I have the date wrong! I have to send you a new ad!

Me: *snickering because now I don't feel so bad about screwing up before*

Ilona: *20 minutes later again* Wait, the date isn't centered right! Hold off on sending. I need to do another ad!

Me: *snickering again because Ilona is SUCH a perfectionist when it comes to things like this*

Ilona:*calling me instead of emailing this time* Okay, NOW I have the right ad! Delete all my other emails. This latest one is the winner.

Me: *sends latest ad to designer* Okay, we're finally good to go now!

Designer's reply: YOU SURE?

And that, dear friends, is how many emails (and phone calls!) it apparently takes to properly proofread a convention booklet. As you can imagine, Ilona and I won't be quitting our day jobs any time soon to become full-time event planners ;).

Forbidden Craving cover!

As promised, here is the cover for FORBIDDEN CRAVING, coming March 28th, 2017, which is a "twofer" collection that includes both The Beautiful Ashes, the re-issue of my first book in my Broken Destiny series, AND the reissue of The Nymph King (with all-new scenes!) by one of my favorite authors, Gena Showalter, all for the price of only one book.

Forbidden Cravings coverGet two unforgettable fan-favorite novels from two of the biggest stars of paranormal romance—New York Times bestselling authors Gena Showalter and Jeaniene Frost!

The Nymph King:

Females young and old, beautiful and plain crave Valerian’s touch. None can resist his blatant sensuality and potent allure—until he steals Shaye Holling from a Florida beach and holds her prisoner in his underwater kingdom. Now Valerian must fight for the privilege of claiming her as his own. Because there’s one thing Shaye doesn’t know…when a nymph discovers his true mate, she’s his for life. Reissue includes special, all-new scenes.

The Beautiful Ashes:

With her sister missing, Ivy discovers a startling truth—the disturbing, otherworldly hallucinations she’s always had are real, and her sister is trapped in a demon realm. The one person who can help her is the dangerously attractive rebel who’s bound by an ancient legacy to betray her. With destiny on one side and desire on the other, Adrian and Ivy must work together to save her sister. Yet he knows the truth about Ivy’s destiny, and sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side, Adrian on the other and nothing but ashes in between…

Once again, the combo collection FORBIDDEN CRAVING releases on March 28th, 2017. You can pre-order your copy here.

A two-for-one in Forbidden Cravings

A loooong time ago, I mentioned that my publisher was doing a re-release of The Beautiful Ashes to build up to the back-to-back releases of The Sweetest Burn (Broken Destiny book two, releasing July 2017) and The Brightest Flame (the third and final Broken Destiny book, releasing August 2017.) Well, I have great news about this re-release - it's a "twofer" so you'll get two novels for the price of one!

FORBIDDEN CRAVINGS, coming March 28th, 2017, will include The Beautiful Ashes, the first book in my Broken Destiny series AND it will include the reissue of The Nymph King by Gena Showalter! Pre-order your copy here.

Description for The Beautiful Ashes:

With her sister missing, Ivy discovers a startling truth—the disturbing, otherworldly hallucinations she's always had are real, and her sister is trapped in a demon realm. The one person who can help her is the dangerously attractive rebel who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her. With destiny on one side and desire on the other, Adrian and Ivy must work together to save her sister. Yet he knows the truth about Ivy's destiny, and sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side, Adrian on the other and nothing but ashes in between…

Description for The Nymph King:

Females young and old, beautiful and plain crave Valerian's touch. None can resist his blatant sensuality and potent allure—until he steals Shaye Holling from a Florida beach and holds her prisoner in his underwater kingdom. Now Valerian must fight for the privilege of claiming her as his own. Because there's one thing Shaye doesn't know…when a nymph discovers his true mate, she's his for life. Reissue includes special, all-new scenes.

Gena has been on my Favorite Authors list since forever, so I could not be more thrilled about being in this "twofer" with her. Gena and I will both post the cover reveal for FORBIDDEN CRAVINGS on our blogs on Monday, August 8th, so stay tuned :).

German release and new audio single title

Hello again. Under the "Jeaniene is last to know" column, here are two releases that came out in the past week. Actually, some of my readers alerted me to these, so this isn't the first time that you guys are more knowledgeable than me :). First up is Night's Darkest Embrace in single title audio format. Here is the audio cover and description:

NDE audio

Enter the dark realm of Nocturna, where blisteringly sexy Raphael dominates the demons of a lawless dimension and tries to help a beautiful young woman avenge her cousin’s disappearance.

You can read the first two chapters from Night's Darkest Embrace here

Some of you might remember Night's Darkest Embrace from its first appearance in the Haunted By Your Touch anthology. It's a long novella (about 130 pages in digital; 3 hours in audio) that also came out in single ebook about two years ago. Now, it's finally available in single audio with the fabulous Tavia Gilbert narrating. I'm so pleased to have this finally in audio because that is the preferred format for many of my readers, and I want everyone to get their stories in the format that makes them happiest. You can listen to a sample or order your copy at Downpour, Audible, iTunes or your favorite audio retailer.

BBF GermanNext up is the German edition of Bound By Flames, titled Im Bann der Sehnsucht. I know my German readers have been waiting a long time for this, so I'm thrilled that it's finally available. I'm also posting the cover because I think my German covers are so pretty. This one is no exception, although a mistake was made and Leila was given red hair and green eyes instead of black hair and blue eyes. Hey, now you can see what Leila would look like with dyed hair and colored contacts ;).

Order Im Bann der Sehnsucht from Amazon.de or your favorite German retailer.

And now, a note about foreign editions. Many of my readers ask me when a foreign edition of my titles will release, or if Country X will publish more books in a series. The answer is that I don't know. See, I don't actually own my foreign rights. My publisher does, and they sell those rights to interested foreign publishers, who then publish however many books they've purchased into whatever language applies to their country. So, even though I write the stories, I am completely removed from this process. Therefore, I usually find out about a foreign title release when readers of those countries tell me, as was the case with Bound By Flames' German release a few days ago. I also have no control over whether a particular country will continue to publish my books. None of the countries ever deal with me directly because, as explained above, I don't own the rights. However, when a new foreign edition of one of my titles does come out and I'm made aware of it, I'm happy to let my readers know. I've been fortunate enough to have my stories published in twenty different countries, and no matter what country or language a book comes out in, as usual, I really hope that readers enjoy it :).

Third snippet for Into The Fire

Smaller coverI hadn't intended to post another snippet so soon, but I've got nothing else interesting to talk about. This is a good thing for writing progress because it means I've been busy at my keyboard. It always makes me chuckle when I tell someone I'm a writer and their response is "How exciting!" Well, the 2% of the time when I go to conventions or book stores and meet readers, yes, it's exciting. The other 98% of the time, I'm pretty much paid to be a shut-in :). Thank God I love to write or this job could be considered as voluntary house arrest, heh.

Now, onto the snippet. It's a chunk of what's currently Chapter One of Into The Fire, the fourth and final Night Prince books, but since I've already changed my beginning twice, this could change again during revisions. As mentioned in the other snippets (here and here if you haven't read them) this scene is also pre-copyedits, so there will likely be grammar and/or spelling errors that I'm blind to because I know what it's supposed to say and that's all my brain can see (this is why authors love editors and copy editors, people! :)). Like the other snippets, this chunk is mostly spoiler free, so if you haven't read Bound By Flames yet, you won't be ruined on any major plot points. All disclaimers aside, hope you enjoy!


Vlad slowed down, dropping us onto the manicured part of the lawn that surrounded the fortress as if keeping the forest at bay. “Stay here,” he said, striding toward the entrance.

I caught up to him instead. “What part of ‘we do this together’ did you translate as ‘leave Leila behind?’” I hissed, keeping my voice down since we weren’t the only ones with supernatural hearing.

His aura broke through his inner shields. Even though he’d released only a sliver of his power, it still felt as if I’d just gotten subconsciously scalded. If I were anyone else, I’d be terrified at pissing off the legendary Vlad the Impaler, a.k.a Dracula, a.k.a don’t-ever-call-him-that-if-you-want-to-live, but I was Mrs. Vlad Dracul, thank you very much. Uncrowned prince of darkness or no, Vlad wasn’t pulling this crap with me.

“We can fight about it until Branson hears us, or we can get him together quietly,” I went on. “Your choice.”

The high-arched portico covering the fortress’s main entrance exploded, jetting out fire and pieces of stone. I ducked out of instinct, but Vlad walked right toward the burning chaos, the fire parting to let him pass.

“Does that answer your question?” he asked.

Before I could respond, a wall of fire sprang up, spreading until it encompassed the entire castle. Guess he’d changed his mind about being stealthy! Worse, now I couldn’t follow him. Unlike Vlad, I wasn’t fireproof.

“That’s cheating!” I shouted. No need to talk softly now.

I thought I heard him laugh, but between the roar of the fire and the cracking of stone, I couldn’t be sure. Damn Vlad and his archaic ideas about women in combat, particularly me. He’d rather I be under heavy guard back at his castle in Romania. I probably would be, if an enemy hadn’t blown up his castle and kidnapped me from its rubble months ago. Otherwise, Vlad would never have agreed to go back on his “no wife allowed on killing missions” rule.

Or, I thought, eying the wall of fire only he could pass through, it seemed he’d just partially gone back on it. My teeth ground. I could stand here and futilely seethe, or I could make myself useful. Besides, revenge was a dish best served cold, and I would get him back. I just had to wait until everything around me wasn’t on fire.

I rubbed the belt buckle again, seeking the essence imprint on it. Once I had it, my surroundings changed into the richly-furnished room that our quarry was still standing in. Branson wasn’t looking at his phone anymore. He was staring out the window in horror at flames that went up all the way to the roof. Branson knew only one vampire in the world could control fire this way, and it was the same vampire he’d been caught betraying.

Then Branson ran, which I expected, but he didn’t head for the door. Instead, he pressed a panel near a one of the room’s many paintings. A hidden door swung open, and he darted inside a steel-lined room and closed the door before I could mentally switch channels.

Branson has a panic room! I sent to Vlad once I was tuned into him.

Vlad paused on his way up a long, curved staircase, giving an amused glance toward the second floor. “Then he’s in for another surprise.”

His words reached me through our link instead of the normal way, so the continual portico collapse must be drowning out everything else. Once, I had hated my psychic abilities so much that I’d attempted suicide, but now, they came in handy.

A red Porsche bursting through the wall of fire surprised me into dropping my link to Vlad. The car’s speed caused it to fishtail as soon as it hit the grassy terrain. Glowing green eyes revealed that the driver was a vampire, but it couldn’t be Branson. He’d locked himself in the panic room. With Vlad busy trying to bust into that, I was the only person standing in the way of this driver and his freedom. Decision made, I chased after the car. If it reached the driveway, I’d be screwed. Unlike Vlad, I couldn’t fly, and the Porsche could go much faster than me once it was on flat, paved ground.

The car shot forward with a burst of even greater speed. Damn, the driver must’ve spotted me. He was only a dozen feet away from the driveway. I put everything I had into a desperate lunge. If I could reach the car’s bumper, I could flip it –

I ducked when multiple cracks smashed through the back windshield. Two bullets whizzed over my head, and the third one struck me in the shoulder instead of the heart. From the burn that grew instead of going away, the bullets were silver. Of course. Any other ammunition was useless against vampires, as another vampire would know.

Pain caused my powers to flare. A long, sizzling whip shot from my right hand and I cracked it toward the car. The electricity it contained caused it to tear through Porsche’s frame as if it were butter. More gunshots had me spinning to avoid another volley of bullets, and I used my velocity to full advantage. When I swung back around, my electrical whip had lengthened, and I lashed the car with all the force I had in me.

It split in two, the front section still going several feet before the car’s weight caused it to cave in. A fire broke out, and I couldn’t tell if it was those flames that made the driver scream or if I’d sliced through more than the car’s frame. I stayed low as I circled around to the driver’s door, my whip crackling as I readied it to strike again.

“Drop the gun and get out, or -”

I didn’t get a chance to complete my threat. Flames shot over the car, too thick and numerous to be from the electrical fire. Then Vlad slammed down next to me, the ground shuddering from the force of his impact. He shoved me behind him and rounded on the burning car.

“You shot at my wife?” The flames intensified. High-pitched, panicked screams made me wince from more than their assault on my enhanced hearing.

I grabbed his arm. “Stop it, we might need him alive.”

Vlad glanced at me and saw the blood from the bullet wound in my shoulder. At once, his arm became so hot that my hand started to catch fire. I let him go, and he turned back to the car with a smile that made further argument useless.

I knew that smile. It meant someone was about to die.


As a reminder, the release date for Into The Fire changed to February 28th, 2017. You can pre-order your copy here or at most other retailers: Into the Fire (Night Prince).