Matt Archer 5: Cover, Title and Chapter One Reveal

My Dear Monster Hunters.

Well, here we are…the end. Before I get to the cover reveal, I want to thank each and every one of you for sticking with Matt and me. This was one of the toughest manuscripts I’ve ever written, both scale-wise and emotionally. Stuff happens. I’m not going to lie–this one isn’t an easy ride. But I’m hoping, in the end, you’ll find it a satisfying conclusion. The publication date isn’t quite finalized yet, but I’m shooting for the weekend of July 4th. Seemed kind of fitting.

As always, this book is intended for ages 14 and up. Please be advised.

And now, without further ado…

 

 

Matt-Archer-Redemption-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

 

 

Don’t you just love it? I wish I could explain the elements, but I’d give too much away, but if you read Monster Hunter, this scene shouldn’t be entirely unfamiliar. (And yes, those are real dog tags. We had them made for the cover.)

Next up, a teaser from Matt Archer: Redemption

 

* * * * *

Born of the Ground, Tied to the Heavens

The Blades of Redemption Will Meet their Brothers

 in Unearthly Combat to fight for Men’s Souls

–Peruvian Legend

 

Chapter One

 

When I was fourteen, I picked up a knife, ignorant of the destiny that awaited me. That night seems like a lifetime ago, even if it’s only been three years.

A lot of things can change in three years.

A boy can become a man. A man can become a soldier. And that soldier can witness things he’ll never forget. Earn scars that won’t fade. Cut down enemies. Save lives.

Lose them, too.

Through it all, I’ve tried to remember who I am, where the legend ends and the man begins. Not to lose myself to my blade-spirit and become a monster. Some days are harder than others. I’ve seen friends die in this war, injured myself, and nearly lost the girl I love more than anyone, all for the cause. The price for being named the guardian of humanity is high, especially when my own government is calling me a criminal.

Despite all the obstacles, despite the pain, one thing remains true: it’s still worth the fight.

My name is Matt Archer. And I’m going to save the world.

Or die trying.

 

* * *

 

Packed into a black government SUV with five other people, on my way to a Congressional hearing, wasn’t my idea of fun.

That it was my reality made it even worse. Especially since riding with these particular men gave me a migraine of epic proportion. Being in close contact with the other wielders always caused me pain. It was better than usual—I’d gotten used to the sensation of overwhelming power somewhat—but still not the best way to start this day.

My new suit wasn’t heavy, but a trickle of sweat ran down my back the closer we got to the Capitol and my tie felt like it was trying to strangle me slowly. If I’d had my way, I’d be going to the hearing in bloodstained BDUs and my oldest combat boots—the ones with African sand still on them. The House Armed Services Committee wanted to call me a hardened juvenile delinquent? Fine, at least let me look the part.

Everybody else—except Will—told me that was a terrible idea. So Mom and Aunt Julie took me shopping and wrangled me into the suit. Complete with shiny new wingtips.

I felt, and probably looked, very stupid.

“I heard CNN was going to carry C-SPAN live during the hearings,” Will said. He stared out the window with his shoulders bunched up around his ears. “Everyone in the world will know who we are after today.”

Everyone in the world would know…but how we’d be judged was the question. Would our accusers accept that everything we’d done was to protect and defend the defenseless? Or would we go down in flames, remembered by history as the very worst of violent offenders?

What worried me most was that the world wouldn’t learn the truth until it was too late: that the war wasn’t over. Pentagram Strike Force had been pulled of active duty to participate in this political circus. Meanwhile, the Dark Master had gained a toehold in our world. The search for the Chinese shaman, our final lead—along with hunting the last two prime monsters—should’ve been our priority, and necessary to putting an end to the Master’s reign of terror. Instead, we were here, sold out to Congress by the enemy’s favorite human servant.

As we made our way through the streets of D.C., Tink made a sullen noise in my head. I’ve never liked this place. Too many skeptics.

“Insulted some people don’t believe in you?” I asked, biting back a nervous smile. “Do we need to clap and bring you back to life?”

Will laughed, while Tink growled. The nickname is bad enough without the jokes, thank you very much.

The other wielders didn’t react. Parker was more pale than usual, and his freckles stood out like measles on his face. Ramirez glared out the window. Jorge had his hands folded in his lap and his eyes were closed, almost like he was praying.

“Anybody else coming to the party?” I asked.

“This is it, far as I know,” Parker said, the faintest hint of Alabama twang coming through. “We brought a couple of our guys as character witnesses, but they aren’t allowed to testify unless they’re called. So it’s just us.”

Ramirez flashed me a rare smile. “Murphy’s here.”

“I heard,” I said. “He’s driving my family over.”

“He can’t wait to see you.” Now Ramirez was chuckling. “Said he’d watch as we do the walk of shame through the crowds at the Capitol.”

“Wait…crowds?” I asked. “What crowds?”

“Haven’t you been watching the news?” Parker raised an eyebrow. “That’s why we’re taking a caravan with draconian seating arrangements. They wanted the wielders to be the first out.”

“We gave up on watching the news a few days ago when that anchor on MSNBC called me and Matt ‘budding psychopaths,’ who’ve become trained killers,” Will said.

“You’re in for treat, then,” Parker said.

He wasn’t kidding. As we turned down First Street leading past the Capitol steps, people choked the sidewalks. Some had signs saying we were saviors. Some yelled that we worshiped Satan. Every single one of them watched the cars pass. We were sacrificial lambs, going to the slaughter, and it would all play out on television.

“This…is gonna suck,” Will said as an egg splattered against the SUV’s window.

“They can’t get near the entrance,” Johnson told him. “They have barriers holding everyone back.”

Yeah, because a little bit of plywood would be an excellent deterrent against mob violence.

We turned the corner on Independence, heading for the Sam Rayburn building. It was one of the House’s office buildings and where we’d have the hearing. You’d think the President was coming to visit, because we were led by a police car and followed by two motorcycle cops.

More people crowded the mall around the Capitol building and lined the streets all the way to our destination. Tink was jumpy, twitching around my skull. Instinctively, I reached for my knife handle, sheathed in my thigh pocket.

Ramirez’s eyes tracked the movement. “The knives have to stay in the car.”

“I thought they’d demand to see them,” I said.

“We don’t want members of Congress to get a hand on them, so the plan is to lock them up and leave them with Johnson.”

Being without my knife in tense situations usually caused me physical pain and leaving it behind sounded like torture. “But—”

“This is the only way we’ll be certain to get them back,” Ramirez said as he handed his knife to Johnson, looking as if it hurt to loosen the handle from his fingers. “General’s orders.”

We followed his lead. I set the blade in its metal box, locking it in. My head ached the instant contact was broken.

I’ll be nearby no matter what. You aren’t forsaken just because you aren’t wearing the knife, Tink said. All the same, don’t do anything stupid.

“Okay,” I murmured. Will whispered something similar and Captain Parker smiled at us. Instructions were universal sometimes.

A rap on the window announced the MPs’ arrival—military escort from the SUV to the hearing rooms. I didn’t know if that was for our protection, or to make us look more like criminals.

We slid out of the vehicle, all of us steely-eyed and standing erect. The MPs led us along the barricaded street. Cameras pointed our direction and reporters screamed questions. As of now, anonymity wasn’t a luxury I had anymore. Everywhere I looked, people were staring at us. I could almost hear the gasps of surprise zooming through Billings as our faces started showing up on television. Greenhill High was on fall break, but that only meant the news would travel faster. A month’s worth of gossip, right there.

The building itself was white stone, with two massive statues guarding the front door. Crowds of people surrounded them, pressed against the blue police barriers and jostling to get a better look.

As we headed for the stairs, someone shouted my name and the voice sent a shock wave through my chest. I stopped dead in my tracks and searched the crowd for the source, finding who I was looking for when I spotted a flash of auburn hair. I wasn’t sure how she’d gotten here…but I was sure she would be grounded for six months for coming.

Ella stood at the edge of the barrier, scowling at the MPs. I knew how she’d gotten such prime real estate—by holding a sign that read “No more monsters under your bed, courtesy of my boyfriend!”

Penn stood next to her, directing the crowd in a chant. Something about “stupid politicians.”

“What are they doing here?” I asked.

“No idea,” Will said.

Before the MPs could react, I ran for Ella. I heard Will pounding the pavement behind me, but she was all I saw. Ella dropped her sign and flung out her arms. We got in one long kiss before one my escorts put a hand on my arm.

“I can’t believe you came,” I told her in a rush.

She lifted her chin. “There’s no way I wouldn’t be here for you today.”

The MP’s grip tightened around my bicep. I dug my heels in. “I love you.”

A second MP had joined the first, tugging at my arms. As they dragged me away, she yelled, “I love you, too!”

The frenzy from the press got more chaotic, jostling to shove microphones in Ella’s face. The last thing I saw as the guards pushed me into the building was her granting interviews, looking like the queen of all she surveyed.

Our handlers led us to a small room off the hearing chambers. A few minutes later, my family showed up. My uncle and his wife, Colonel and Captain Tannen, came in first, followed by General Richardson. Not long after, Mom, Mamie and Brent arrived. Mamie looked anxious, twirling a pigtail around her finger, but Mom was angry. The night she’d found out about the hearings…well, I’d never seen her that pissed off, and her mood hadn’t improved much over the last few weeks. She paced the room, looking like she wanted to punch something really hard.

Once we were all settled, Army counsel gave us last minute pointers. Mom glared at him several times, finally saying, “Enough. You’re making them nervous.” She put her hand on my shoulder. “Tell the truth. That’s all you can do. Don’t let them twist your words.”

I would do my best, but the biggest obstacle was in front of me, and I needed to focus on getting through the proceedings without slipping up. If I did, Uncle Mike, Badass Aunt Julie and General Richardson could lose their jobs. Or go to jail for endangering minors. Take your pick.

The general and Uncle Mike talked quietly in one corner, wearing their Class As. It was the first time since his wedding that I’d seen him in full dress uniform. The large section of commendation ribbons on his jacket made him look impressive and I stared longingly at the uniform. I hated being in this suit. I belonged in uniform, but when I begged to enlist with Mom’s permission, no one had gone for it.

“You wouldn’t complete basic in time for the hearings,” Captain Johnson had said.

Mike had ground his teeth a full minute before adding, “Before he died, you promised Colonel Black you’d go to West Point. Stay the course and we’ll get you there.”

Mom’s answer was even simpler. “No.”

So here Will and I were, looking awkward in coat and tie, as if this was some joke of a graduation ceremony instead of a moment that would decide the fates of every single person in this room.

Mamie touched my hand. Brent loomed behind her, an ever present watchman to keep our sister out of harm’s way. Despite the gravity of our situation, she smiled. “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”

And so I was laughing when someone knocked. A House page about Mamie’s age stuck his head in. The guy eyed Will and me warily, then said, “I’m here to escort you to the proceedings.”

The general stood. “All right, gentlemen. Time to go.”

 

 

Space Stations and Fan Pages

Monster Hunters!

How are you all? I’m doing well…and by well, I mean pulling out my hair, one strand at a time, trying to edit the final third of #MA5. This is the part of the process I find most painful–that first, full-bore edit. That point when some things work and others don’t and any change could tilt the whole thing to awesome or terrible with one decision.  It’s an anxious time for the manuscript, because I want to do right by all of Matt’s fans, and create something that not only entertains, but leaves everyone with closure (no matter how bittersweet).  So if I’m a little sporadic about posting over the next few weeks, you know what I’m up to. And thanks to everyone who’s sent emails (and my first honest-to-goodness written fan mail!) with encouragement. That’s what keeps me going…and I’m going to bust my hiney to make this the best Matt Archer book yet.

Speaking of which, here are a few cool updates. First, I should have a cover reveal for MA5–which will include both a title reveal and sneak peek at part of Chapter One–in early June. I cannot wait to see how this one turns out.

Second, a very awesome reader (and even better friend) has created a forum on Facebook for Matt Archer fans. You can find it here…I’ll stop by with a few teasers there, as well as on my own Facebook page. Come check it out!

Finally, Monster Hunter got some love on the Awesome Indies blog. This is a book list and review blog dedicated to finding and promoting quality indie fiction. I’m excited to say MA1 received a 4.5/5 star review. You can read it here.

Oh, and I mentioned something about Space Stations in the title here, didn’t I? I love space. No, really–if there’s an astronomy program on TV, I squeal “SPACE SHOW!” and promptly sit down to watch until it’s over. Here lately, I’ve heard about a cool site NASA has that will tell you when the International Space Station is going to fly over your locale. I missed it the other night, but I’m on the lookout, because that’s just amazing. 

I hope everyone weathered last week’s blood red moon well–but if you hear of any monster sightings, give me a shout. Now, I should get back to editing….

New Short Story: Alyssa Finds Out

Greetings Monster Hunters!

So last week, I asked you to find the one true item about MA5 in a list of 10 things…and no one guessed it right. I’ll admit, I made that game fiendishly hard, but the correct answer was #2:  Mamie develops a raging sugar addiction. You’ll understand why within the first third of the book.  And now you know what’s false, so you can cross those off the list of things that might happen in the book. : )

Last week I also promised to post a new short story as a thank you to everyone who funded the Kickstarter. The story below is an extension of a deleted scene from Bloodlines (MA4). Because it was deleted, the timing might not totally tick and tie with the final book, but it’s still such a fun story, I’m happy to post it. Enjoy!

 

 

Alyssa Finds Out

Matt

 

Summer started, and for once I was home, uninjured and able to enjoy the time off. Or I would be if CNN would stop giving me nightmares. By Fourth of July, news of “mass delusions” of unnatural creatures, mysterious disappearances and, yes, ritual suicides were all the cable networks would talk about. Uncle Mike called to check in regularly, but he didn’t have any news on deployment.

“I hate this waiting around,” I told him in mid-July, while making a peanut butter sandwich to tide me over until dinner. “We need to be out there hunting.”

“I know,” Mike said. “But there’s nothing we can do about it right now. Until then, hang tight, and I’ll see you in October before the eclipse.”

“Will do.”

But hanging tight grew harder every day. Tink was restless off the hunt, appearing at random times to lecture me on staying sharp. Or to nag me about Ella. Or to make me run ten miles on the treadmill when all I really wanted to do was go for a bike ride.

“This is weird,” Will said a few weeks later. “Sitting in Ella’s backyard, swimming like we’re normal or something. Coach Shaw is driving me crazy, telling me to get out there. He won’t shut up, even when I explain—over and over—that we can’t go.”

“Tink’s been almost as bad. We should be on assignment somewhere, taking out the trash. People are dying and we’re hanging by the pool.”

Ella’s arms slid around my neck from behind and she bent down to kiss me on the ear. “It’s not all bad, is it?”

Doing some quick calculations on how much room I had, I bent forward, lifting her from her feet, and swung around to pull her into my lap. “No. The perks of being at home far outweigh MREs and bunkmates who snore like drunken Wookies.”

Will sensed we needed space, because he picked up Penn, jogged to the pool and jumped into the deep end with her still in his arms. Once they resurfaced, they promptly started making out under the diving board.

That seemed like a good idea, so I put a hand on the side of Ella’s face and slid it around to tangle in her hair. One side of her mouth turned up in a little smile as I pulled her closer and she was still smiling when I brushed my lips against hers.

“God, I love you,” I whispered. Hardly able to help myself, I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her like I meant it. I could drown here, stay forever—

“Hey, you two,” a cool, slightly grossed out, voice said. “PDA.”

My mouth popped off of Ella’s and my face turned red. Not because Ella’s older sister caught us kissing, but because of what else I’d been thinking of doing before we were so rudely interrupted.

“Alyssa, really?” Ella said, glaring at her. “We’re not doing anything to warrant a chaperone.”

Yet, I wanted to add, but wisely kept my mouth shut.

Alyssa’s cold expression grew frosty as she smoothed her long blond hair tighter into her ponytail. Her ponytail wasn’t the only thing wound tight. I decided not to say that either, even though I’d seen it firsthand when we saved her and Ella from those Bears three years ago. She’d gotten so worked up, she’d passed out. In a way, I was glad she had no idea Will and I had been there—I had a hard enough time passing inspection when she was around.

“Mom asked me to keep an eye on you,” Alyssa said.

“And I’ll be eighteen in three months. You don’t have to watch us every minute,” Ella said.

Alyssa narrowed her eyes at me. “Yes I do, because I know exactly what he’s thinking.”

God, I hoped she didn’t know exactly what I was thinking. She might kick me out into the street. Alyssa put her hands on her hips and gave me a shrewd look. Yeah, I was getting kicked out.

Will climbed out of the pool and called, “Everything okay?”

Alyssa went utterly still, staring in his direction. I couldn’t decide if she was having an aneurysm because she was angry at me or if something else was wrong.

He came to the edge of the patio, dripping all over the bricks. “What’s going on?”

So one of the benefits of a military fitness regimen—and the knife spirits’ “encouragement”—was that Will and I often received a few extra glances from girls, especially if we happened to be wet and shirtless. But Alyssa’s reaction went beyond an appreciation of good pecs. She kept looking between us, her eyes popped open wide.

“Oh,” she squeaked. She turned to Ella, and her face had gone pale. “How long have you known?”

“Crap.” Ella slid from my lap and put her hands on Alyssa’s shoulders. “Just calm down. You’re okay.”

“Okay? Okay!” She jerked away. “I’ve been looking for him for two and a half years! And now I find out you knew all along? And he’s…he’s your age!”

Oh, no. She knew who we were.

Penn climbed out of the pool and drifted to Will’s side. “Who’ve you been looking for?”

Alyssa pointed at Will. “He saved my life.”

“To be fair, we both saved your life,” I said.

She whirled around to face me. “All those scars you have…you were the one who killed the monster in the woods that night, weren’t you?”

I nodded, not sure what she was going to do. Probably punch one of us for lying to her all this time. Instead, she wobbled over to Will. Penn scooted over to stand in front of him with an expression that clearly said, “Mine. Back off.”

“How old were you?” Alyssa asked Will.

“At the time?” He shot me a worried look and I bit back a smile. This should be fun.

“When I kissed you.”

“She kissed you?” Penn said. “Okay, Giant Will, when was this? Because if it was anytime in the last six months, your ass is grass and I’m a freaking tractor.”

Will smiled down at Penn. “I love it when you speak Okie to me.”

Penn growled, not unlike a very angry bobcat. “Answer the lady’s question.”

“Lady? I’m not that old,” Alyssa snapped.

I grabbed a handful of chips, thoroughly enjoying myself. Ella rolled her eyes, but I was hungry and I always ate during a show.

“Fifteen,” he murmured. “I was fifteen.”

Alyssa jumped back like a cat who’d been pelted with a snowball. “Oh, sweet mother of…you were fifteen? That means…”

“He’s younger than me,” Ella said, sounding like she was trying not to laugh. “He won’t even be eighteen until December, so he’s off-limits until at least then.”

Alyssa jabbed a finger at Ella. “I wasn’t planning on kissing him now.”

“You better not be,” Penn warned. She was looking quite fierce, standing up tall at her full five feet. “Because he’s off-limits for good, or we’re throwing down.”

“I need to go inside,” Alyssa said weakly. She waved a hand at Will. “Anyway, thank you for saving my life.”

As she went into the house, I called, “I helped!”

Nothing. Not even a nod. Some people were impossible to please.

“You kissed that lady? And you were only fifteen?” Penn said. She stomped on Will’s foot and he skittered away, barking a shocked laugh. “You big…faker. I feel kind of sorry for her. She probably thought you were older.”

“She did,” he said, circling the pool as Penn stalked after him. “She thought I was seventeen or eighteen. She was twenty at the time. But if you feel sorry for her, I could go inside and apologize, maybe kiss her some, until she feels better.”

Penn stopped chasing him. “You’re a complete mess.” She glanced at the clock mounted on the brick wall of Ella’s patio. “Millicent should’ve left for her Bingo game. Time to take me to your place and prove I’m the only girl you like.”

“Love. The only girl I love,” Will corrected. He came over and hefted Penn over his shoulder. “Because I love you, Destroyer.”

She giggled. “And don’t you forget it.”

They made a hasty retreat to Will’s car. I couldn’t blame them. In fact, I was glad to see them go, because Ella and I could be alone now, too.

“What do you think Alyssa’s doing?” I asked, slowly backing Ella up against the wall at the side of the house—the side not visible from the kitchen windows.

“Whatever it is, she’s probably not going to come outside for a bit,” she whispered.

I ran my hands down her shoulders to the small of her back. Her skin was so soft under my rough fingertips. It reminded me that the world wasn’t always an ugly place. I leaned close to breathe in the scent of her shampoo, which clung to her hair despite our swim.

I pulled back slightly, so that our lips were an inch apart. “Good.”

Alyssa never came back outside.

 * * *

Ella

 

After Matt left, I went inside, slamming the backdoor good and hard to get my sister’s attention. “Alyssa?”

No answer. She was probably in her room pouting. I sighed. Alyssa’s tight control rarely cracked—which was really annoying sometimes—but when it did, the result was spectacular.

“I’m going to order pizza!” I called.  “Want some?”

Still nothing. Okay, I’d order pepperoni and mushroom. That was Alyssa’s favorite and would be sure to wrench her out of her room.

And maybe I was feeling a little guilty. I should’ve told her about Matt and Will—she could keep a secret better than anyone I knew…she was like an airtight container for secrets. Anything I’d ever told her was locked away, even about Matt’s seventeenth birthday. Sure, now she watched him like a prison warden, but I had to tell somebody. It had been too big, too important, to keep to myself and telling Alyssa had been easy. No matter how cold people thought she was, I knew better. She dried my tears after I broke up with Matt and she was the first person to make me laugh then, too.

No one would ever believe it if I told them, but she’d put on an Easter bunny mask and brought me candy to cheer me up that weekend. I’d spent two days crying in my room when she showed up with a big bag of peanut butter cups because those were my favorite. She was the best sister, despite spazzing out on occasion.

Even though I confided in her about almost everything, the secret about the knives wasn’t mine to tell. The guys could get into real trouble if it went public, and neither of them hunted monsters for glory or attention anyway. They liked a low profile, which was another reason I was in love with Matt Archer. He saw a problem, he fixed it. No complaining, no excuses, no procrastination. He just acted, and it was a beautiful thing.

Besides, it would’ve stressed Alyssa out to know and I didn’t want her to act weird around my boyfriend. Or silently lust after his best friend. This whole situation was already hard enough.

I ordered the pizza then went upstairs to take a shower. I needed to buy more shampoo, and the thought made me smile. Even if I was in the mood to try a different brand, I never would. Matt had a thing for my hair. I had no idea what started it, or why, but if he liked vanilla, I’d wash my hair with the same shampoo for the rest of my life.

And if I got too old to do it myself, I’d ask the nursing home lady buy me some.

When I came back downstairs, Alyssa sat curled up on the couch. The pizza had arrived and she was picking at a slice.

“Did you laugh at me?” she asked quietly. “About kissing him?”

My face flamed. I had laughed about it the night I found out. But now that I was older and understood better what all this really meant, I felt terrible about it. Intense situations make for intense reactions—some good, like spontaneously kissing a fifteen-year-old you don’t even know. And some bad—like breaking up with someone because you don’t understand the forces pulling you apart, only to figure out later it was all bullshit and you killed something that should’ve lived. Lucky for me, Matt believed in second chances…and Tink realized that she wasn’t totally in charge.

“I laughed. Matt and Will didn’t,” I murmured. I sat and put my arm around her shoulders. “But I’ve learned some things since then, and it’s not funny at all. We could’ve died that night, if it weren’t for them.”

“I’m sorry I reacted badly earlier. I guess I’d built everything up in mind, you know? That I’d meet him…um, Will, and he’d be twenty-one now and…it’s stupid.”

“It’s not stupid. There are still times when I look at Matt and think ‘Oh, my God. That’s my boyfriend…who hunts monsters!’ and I fangirl a little bit. Most of the time, though, I just hope that someday this will all be over so we can be together all the time instead of when he’s home between missions.”

“Missions,” Alyssa said. “That sounds so strange. When you moped around the house like you’d lost your best friend, I thought you were moody because you were in high school. If I’d known your boyfriend was halfway around the world, putting himself at risk…” She sighed softly. “I would’ve been nicer to him, at the very least.”

I gave her a hug. “I think he’d settle for you acknowledging that he helped save your life. But not glaring at him at every turn might be helpful, too.”

Her expression went from wistful to stern. “I’ll promise to try. I stand by what I said, though…I know what he’s thinking, and the last thing I want is for you to get hurt.”

“Matt’s incapable of hurting me,” I told her. “That damage last year? That was all me.”

“Wow, you really love the kid.”

I laughed. “Oh, so now he’s a kid? Because the way you were looking at Will earlier…”

“That was shock.” Alyssa’s tone was prim, but I could tell she was trying not to laugh with me. “And admiration of a fine physique.”

“Girl, that was gawking. If he’d been a steak, you would’ve gone to dinner.”

“No, I wouldn’t have,” she said, but she was giggling now. “He’s too young, and I have some scruples. Besides, I think that tiny demon he calls a girlfriend might’ve killed me with her mind if I’d come any closer.”

“No doubt about that. Penn’s pretty terrifying. I like that in a friend.” I looked into her eyes. “You okay?”

“I will be.” She took a bite of pizza. “Oh, I meant to tell you. I met a guy last week. We’re going out next weekend.”

Her smile was shy and it made me feel better. She’d be okay. And if for some reason she wasn’t, I’d go looking for that Easter bunny mask and a bag of peanut butter cups.

April Fools Matt Archer 5 Guessing Game

Greetings Monster Hunters!

First, a tremendous thanks to everyone who donated to the Kickstarter. The recording company has already started the project, and I can’t wait to hear how Matt Archer: Monster Hunter sounds as an audiobook!

Second, because I promised, there will be a new story posted next week for meeting the Kickstarter goal. And @naultfinley also gets to choose a topic for another story (to come out later in the summer) for being the backer who helped us pass the goal. So what’s up for next week? A while back, I posted a scene from MA4 that didn’t make the cut in the book–when Alyssa (Ella’s sister) gets a bit of a shock. I’m going to include the extended version of the original scene AND write a new scene from Ella’s perspective. It’s the first time I’ve written from Ella’s POV, so come check it out and let me know what you think. (PS This isn’t an April Fools’ Joke…come back next week to take a read).

Now, on to the game! In the following list of 10 items, only 1 is true about MA5. See if you can figure out which one is true:

  1. We find out Jorge’s last name.
  2. Mamie develops a raging sugar addiction.
  3. Brent punches Matt after a squabble over Mamie’s safety.
  4. Matt fires a rocket launcher for the first time.
  5. Will is finally trusted with a flamethrower.
  6. The final battle occurs in the Sahara desert
  7. Will and Penn break up.
  8. Baby Kate develops some supernatural ability.
  9. Ann Smythe (head of Nocturna Maura) agrees to help Pentagram Strike Force in exchange for her release from jail.
  10. Matt has to go to Canada to fight off a monster infestation.

And there are your clues!  Put your guess in the comments (only your first entry will count!). Everyone who guesses correctly will be entered in a drawing to win a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card! I’ll announce the correct answer and the winner next week. (PS…Becca, Lindsay and Ryan are not allowed to enter. : D)

Progression

Hi everyone!

Several months ago, I posted about my son’s archery program. Last year, as a sixth grader, he placed 6th in the elementary division at the Texas State Championship Tournament. His team won.  The middle school team–7th and 8th graders–won state and went on to win at Nationals. Another previous post was about the discipline it takes to learn a skill like that.

Today we’re going to the State Tourney again, and now my son is in the middle school division. Last year he scored a 261 at state to place 6th. This year, his qualifying score was a 272–and placed him in the top 25. The competition is far more stiff now. His new personal best–in just one year–jumped from 262 to 283 in practice. His new best tournament score is a 278–which would’ve come close to winning at the elementary level. This year, top 25…maybe.

What this is teaching him is perspective. What was once good enough to place in the top 10, isn’t. He can’t rely on the skill he already had to stay competitive. Instead, he has to work harder, practice more, listen more carefully to his coach, and make those fine tweaks that take him from a good beginner to a good intermediate.

Writing is like that. Early on, there’s joy in plunking down words. Just telling your story is enough. But then, when you set your sights on publication, things change. What might’ve been touted as great by your friends, now becomes something that needs tweaking based on crit partners. The rules change–and you have to know when to follow them closely, and when/if there’s leeway to break them. Having a solid “coach” (beta readers, crit partners and an editor) system is the best way to accomplish that. In interviews people ask me the one piece of advice for writers just starting out on their journey. To me, it’s pretty simple…and kind of hard:

Write. Edit. Then Edit again. After that, have it read by people you trust. Then edit again. With time and pressure, a diamond in the rough will sparkle.

To my kiddo–straight shooting and find your zen today! We’ll be golf-clapping in the stands for you. : )

Sound and Sight: What Makes a Good Horror Movie Better

Hello there, Monster Hunters!

Hey, so first, have you ever wondered what MA1 would sound like as an audiobook? I have, which led me to create a Kickstarter to see if I can’t make that dream a reality. You can find it here (along with a really embarrassing video, you know, if you want a good giggle). If you feel like kicking in a few bucks, I’d really appreciate it! There’s some fun swag for the donors, too!

Speaking of hearing…I was thinking about horror movies for some reason this week. I really have no good excuse, as I stopped watching them in college (an overactive imagination + a couple of amaretto sours + living in an apartment alone = no more scary movies after I freaked out and called my best friend at one in the morning, just convinced there was someone in my apartment). Good times.

Anyway, I digress. So, horror flicks. You know what I think the best ones, the really shiver-down-your-spine chiller/thrillers have that others miss?

The sound of fear.

I’m not talking about screams or slasher sound effects. I mean the real, terrifying sound that says, “I’m not alone,” or “there’s someone I can’t see right behind me.” A squeaky door. A floorboard creaking in an empty house. Shutters flapping in a sudden wind–shutters you were positive that you fastened earlier. The phone ringing shrill in a deep, uneasy quiet. Yeah, the sound of fear.

One of my favorite horror movies is The Sixth Sense. Now, some people don’t classify that one as really scary, and it’s not exactly. But there are some definite “gotcha” moments. The cabinet doors that are suddenly, inexplicably open. The voices on the tape, in a barely there whisper. The music, like in all good horror films, even cooperates. You really want to scare me? Have somebody pop out of the blue, accompanied by a screech of strings. I’ll be clinging to the ceiling, I kid you not.

While developing our craft, writers are told over and over–use all five senses. Don’t forget to describe how something smells, how it tastes, how it sounds. These visceral reminders are what make a scene real, even when it’s on paper. When used in film, sound becomes a powerful trigger. It’s the sound of a knife being sharpened against a stone, of a crunch in the grass that might mean the monster is hunting you, of a trapdoor opening to shed light on your hiding place. It’s haunting…in the best sense.

How about you? Seen any horror movies that use sound to great effect? 

Flowers and Fumbles: A Valentine’s Day Story

Howdy Monster Hunters!

To say thank you for the awesome reception for Bloodlines, I thought I’d publish this little scene between Will and Penn on their first Valentine’s Day. The timeline is at the middle of MA3: Legend, right after Matt’s seventeenth birthday, and is from Will’s point of view.

Happy Valentine’s day to y’all!

Flowers and Fumbles

 

“Giant Will!”

Penn ran through the parking lot as fast as her legs would carry her. I smiled…she had to take three steps to each of mine, so watching her run was a sight. Like a pixie chasing dandelion fluff. Or, in this case, dodging icy patches on the asphalt. Lucky for me, she slipped right as she made it to me, and I got to catch her.

And maybe I twirled her around once or twice. Don’t judge. If you had a tiny, perfect pixie of a girlfriend, and you were roughly the size of a Mack truck, you’d twirl her around, too. If only to hear her squeal.

“Put me down, big guy,” she demanded, and I did as told. Destroyer–my pet name for her–pretty much owned me from the top of my head to the soles of my Nikes.

I set her down gently, but patted her on the head to be a jackass. She frowned. So damn cute.

“You ready?” I asked. I had a little surprise planned back at my house. Millicent had made a dark chocolate and sea-salt caramel cake with little hearts on it (she told me it would impress Penn) and my gift was even more outrageous than that.

“Yep.” She flitted alongside me to my BMW, where I even opened the door for her. Today, I was doing this stuff right.

On the ride home, she asked, “Did you see Matt and Ella today?”

I laughed. “The whole school saw Matt and Ella today. I don’t think they separated for more than five seconds when we were out of class.”

In fact, he’d beat a hasty retreat, Ella in tow, the second the bell rang. Making up for lost time, I guess.

“I’m glad it worked out,” she said. “It was hard seeing Ella sad all the time.”

I decided not to comment on the slightly baffled and totally goofy smile that Matt kept sprouting out of the blue. All I could say was thank God. He’d been kind of a moody bastard the last eight months.

We drove to my house, me sneaking looks at Penn every time we hit a stoplight. After two years of messing around, I still couldn’t believe a girl would have me so tied up. We fought like cats and dogs half the time–and that was fun. And I really liked the way she kept me in line. I was ready to kick this thing up to the next level. Problem was, I didn’t know how to suggest that like a mature human being, which is why I got her flowers in addition to the cake. Nothing says desperation like three dozen long-stemmed roses from the fancy florist my mom uses.

We pulled into my driveway and went inside the house. The smell of chocolate hit us the second the crossed the threshold. There was nothing better than coming home to Millicent baking.

“Sweet heavenly bliss, what is that?” Penn asked, sniffing the air.

“Part of your present.”

Her face lit up. “You got me cake?”

“Well, I had a little to do with that,” Millicent said, smiling from the kitchen doorway. “It’s almost ready. The sugar glaze has to set.”

“Glaze? Did she say sugar glaze?” Now Penn’s expression rivaled an enraptured kitten. I wanted to scoop her up and kiss her face all over.

“Yes, she did. Come on, I have something to show you upstairs until it’s ready.”

“Door open!” Millicent called.

Heh, as if that would stop us once Penn saw the flowers.

We climbed the stairs, Penn practically bouncing. “My old boyfriends never did this good on Valentine’s day.”

“You haven’t even seen the present yet,” I said. “But let’s avoid talking about your old boyfriends. They’re in Oklahoma.”

“Good riddance,” she said, nodding. “Okay, show me what you got, Giant Will.”

“Do you have any idea how dirty that sounded?” I said. “Just to be clear, I’m not complaining.”

She laughed. “Good.”

I blocked my bedroom doorway. “Now, what you see in here will cement my awesomeness. You might, just might, feel compelled to tackle me.”

Her eyes gleamed. “Bring it on.”

I stepped aside. My bedroom’s pretty big…yeah, so maybe it’s roughly the size of a studio apartment. Anyway, I’d put the flowers on the little table by my couch where the TV was. The vase was huge with two dozen red and one dozen white roses. It was like Valentine’s Day had exploded in my room.

Penn stopped short. “Uh oh.”

Um, that wasn’t how this was supposed to go. “What?”

She answered by sneezing. Then again. Then a third time, so hard that she stumbled back a step. I let the back of my head fall against the doorjamb.

She was allergic to roses. And not just a little bit.

“I guess I should’ve asked what kind of flowers you liked,” I said. Just call me an idiot.

“No, it’s…” Sneeze, sneeze, sneeze. “Really sweet…” Big sneeze “Of you.”

I put an arm around her shoulders and guided her down the stairs. She sneezed the whole way.

“How allergic are you?” I asked.

“I’ll be better soon.” She grabbed a tissue from a side table. “But some fresh air might help. I can smell those devil flowers all the way down here.”

“Devil flowers?” I didn’t know whether to laugh or curl up in a ball of shame.

“Sorry. That was kinda mean.” She smiled apologetically and patted my arm. “I liked the effort a lot.”

After yelling to Millicent that the cake would have to wait a minute, we went outside. It was frosty, but the snow from the blizzard last week had already started melting. Penn cuddled close and we stood on the porch, watching the thin winter sunlight sparkle on the remaining drifts. I smiled down at the top of her head. She was practically perfect, devil flowers aside.

“You know,” I told her, “I might love you.”

She wriggled away from me, her left eyebrow arched high. “Might?

Grinning, I picked her up, exactly like I had the first time I kissed her. I hoped she didn’t elbow me in the ribs this time. “I’m sorry, that wasn’t what I meant to say. What I meant to say is I do love you.”

“Good.” She pressed her lips to my cheek. “Oh, and tulips don’t make me sneeze.”

“Seriously,” I whispered, burying my face in her hair. “I say the big thing and you tell me you want tulips?”

“Giant Will, if you didn’t know I loved you from the moment I saw you help that old lady after she fell on the ice, you’re not paying attention.” Her smile was like sunshine. “Now, where’s my cake?”

Matt Archer: Bloodlines Blog Tour

Howdy! 

It’s time for a blog tour! There will be guest posts, interviews and an awesome giveaway of a $25 Amazon card. Hope you can join us! It all starts tomorrow…

Bloodlines Tour

January 14 – Deal Sharing Aunt – Guest Post
January 15 – Marked By Books – Review
January 16 – A Life Through Books – Interview 
January 17 – Mom With a Kindle – Interview
January 18 – Books Direct – interview
January 19 – My Tangled Skeins – Review
January 20 – Flirty Fiction – Review
January 21 – Andi’s YA Books – Review
January 22 – Live a Thousand Lives – Review
January 23 – Ali’s Books – Guest Post
January 25 – Our Wolves Den – Review
January 26 – Books A to Z – Guest Post
January 27 – Book Lovers Life – Guest Post
January 28 – The Wormy Hole – Review
January 28 – Queen of All She Reads – Guest Post
January 29 – Wicca Witch 4 – Review
January 30 – Chuckles Book Cave – Review
January 31 – Mythical Books – Guest Post
February 1 – Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock – Review
February 2 – Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – Review
February 3 – Ashley Winters – Review
February 4 – D’eBook Sharing Book Reviews – Review
February 5 – Michelle’s Paranormal Vault of Books – Review
February 6 – Pieces of Whimsy – Interview
February 7 – RABT Reviews – Wrap Up

Matt Archer: Bloodlines–Now Live!

Greetings Monster Hunters!


Well, it’s out in the world! Amazon and Barnes & Noble went live on January 1, with Kobo, Smashwords and Apple iBooks following today.

This book was a lot of fun to write and might just be my favorite so far (ssshhh, don’t tell the other books. It’s like saying you have a favorite child…) I can’t wait to hear what y’all think of it, especially about Matt’s family and all the changes. That’s partly why it’s titled Bloodlines–because the Archers play a key role in the storyline, and heritage matters. Oh, and for those who’ve already read it, now you know why there’s a compass on the front. : )  Even the most directionless men need something to ground them.

The book will be on sale for $2.99 through January 8th on Amazon, Kobo and B&N. For Apple iBooks and Smashwords users, use coupon code TR77M to get the same discount through Smashwords. This coupon code is good on Smashwords through January 15, and can be used for just about any eReader format (in case you miss the sale on your regular retailer’s site). After this sale expires, Bloodlines will go to its regular price of $3.99, and won’t go on sale again in 2014.

Now, to finish up my current WIP, so I can work on MA5….and look for a return to fun/oddball topics on the blog starting next week. : )  Thanks again to everyone for making this an awesome book launch!!

Matt Archer: Bloodlines Announcement–Early Release Date!

Greetings Monster Hunters!

Well, I’m flabbergasted, but the editing went much faster than I anticipated, so be on the lookout for Bloodlines (MA4) to start hitting online retailers around January 1st!  Please note, for Kobo and iBooks, the book has to go through their internal review process, which means it might be delayed for a few days. I have no control over this, unfortunately, but I’ve done everything I can by setting them up early and requesting pre-orders.  

Also, the book will be on sale for $2.99 (reg. price is $3.99) for the first week on Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. For Smashwords and iBooks (Apple) readers, I will have a coupon to price match. Just drop me a line via the contact page on my website, send me a message on Facebook, or sign up for the newsletter to get the code. The coupon will be good for the first two weeks (so if you missed the lower prices at the other retailers, you can still pick it up on Smashwords for another week).

I can’t wait for y’all to read it! I’m looking forward to your reaction…and I love feedback, so if you wouldn’t mind dropping a review at your retailer or GoodReads, that would rock!

1 2 3 4 5 12