Right now I am currently working on three different books (Haunted Hills, a new Nikki book, and a new Michaela book). I also have several books outlined waiting for me to get to them. All of these ideas gave me a thought. I'm curious if there might be a couple of writers out there who would like to collaborate on a couple of projects. One of the books that I really want to get out there is a YA with horses (of course) and a little paranormal activity. The other book (series) is a group of thrillers with both some paranormal stuff and a little romance thrown in there, and finally I have another mystery series set in Hawaii (road trip?).
My idea of working with another writer would be a serious collaboration. This would not be ghost writing on anyone's part. Think Child & Preston. If anyone is interested in this and wants to know more of what I am thinking about, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can go from there.
I am also going to put an excerpt from each of these projects here. This is all unedited, first draft work so keep that in mind.
The first excerpt is from INTO THE RING (this is the YA idea and it would be helpful if you liked horses :) for this book):
My name is Vivienne Taylor and I don’t like being afraid. The really dumb thing is I have been totally freaked out over something that I really shouldn’t be. Well, maybe I kind of have a right. I am moving fifteen hundred miles away from my family, my friends and my horses. But it’s to have a chance to finally live out my dream. So, I would think I’d be a little more excited and a little less totally messed up in the brain—like a swirly, twirl of colors blending in a circle until I get dizzy kind of messed up. I toss up my arms, shrug my shoulders and say, “Whatever.” My mom says it’s just nerves and that’s normal. But my mom and I both know that I am so not normal. And if the kids at my new school, or I mean Academy find out how not normal I am, it could be really not very good. Yup. Dizzying, colorful swirls not good.
I’m not idiotic enough to think that I am going to walk into the Fairmont Riding Academy for Young Equestrians and be welcomed with open arms by all of the rich kids there. Kids with horses that cost more than our house. Kids who drive cars from Germany. Kids that think Target is something they shoot at while out on expensive weekend hunting vacation with their fathers, not a place where people can buy comforter sets that include sheets for under fifty bucks, cool T-shirts and some very pretty smelling candles. That would be crazy.
I have to face it, I am different from them. My mom is a single parent of my seven-year-old brother and myself. She’s worked her butt off as a large animal vet to make sure that I have had the proper training as a three-day eventer, because like me, my mother is a dreamer. And she knows how important my dream of one day being an Olympic rider is. Thus, the working her butt off. And now all her hard work and mine seems to be paying off.
A month ago, I received the letter from the Fairmont Academy letting me know that I was the recipient of their annual scholarship. Me? Me! I am one of the lucky few who will ever get this opportunity. Kids like me don’t have the kind of money to attend Fairmont, and the only chance I would ever have is through the scholarship. So, I should be totally excited and not so freaked. But I am dizzily, swirlied screwed up and I have been unable to sleep very well since getting the letter. And I know, I know so bad that I am really going to miss home—even my pain of a little brother.
I will especially miss Dean.
“Sweetie, wake up. I need your help.” My mom’s voice filled with tension as she walked into my room in the middle of the night. I knew immediately what she needed. “I’m sorry, Vivvie? You awake?”
“No worries, Mom. I was up. Just thinking.” I picked up my jeans off the floor and pulled them on over the boxers I liked to sleep in (they originally belonged to Austin Giles—long story, which I will tell later and I am pretty sure I can guarantee that it’s not what you’re thinking) turned on my light to find my Thomas Jefferson High sweatshirt. “What about Cole?” I asked about my brother.
“I’ve put Sadie and Georgia in his room with him. I wish Grandma was here, but something tells me the two Rotties will be better protection than your grandma would should trouble arise. I’ll meet you in the truck. Lock the door behind you, Shnoopy,” she said, calling me her favorite pet name for me, which I’d finally just accepted after seventeen years of her calling me it. Admittedly I do kinda like it, but wouldn’t share that feeling with just anyone.
“What do we have?” I asked as I climbed into the truck
“Thirteen-year-old mare down out in Albany. Owner went to bring her in from pasture for the night and noticed she was severely bloated and seemed to be having problems breathing.”
“That could be a number of things.” I zipped up my sweatshirt and pulled my hood on. It was cold for a late August night, or maybe that was just me. I tend to always be a bit chilled.
My mom glanced at me at me as she punched in the horse owner’s address on the GPS, her blue eyes looking weary. “That’s why I’m bringing you.”
I nodded. I reached into the back seat and grabbed a Diet Pepsi that I knew I’d find amidst reports, bandages, books, junk food, dog leashes and their toys. Being a large animal vet kept my mother on the run, and although she could detail a report to clients like nobody’s business, she didn’t always have the best organizational skills in the world when it came to keeping the house or her truck clean. I made an effort to do both for her once a week. “Want one?” I asked holding up the soda can.
“I’m good on the caffeine. I was actually up late working on some reports and had a couple of cups of coffee to keep me going. I had a feeling about tonight. Why were you still awake?”
*The next excerpt is from the paranormal type of thriller. I've tentatively titled it HEAR NO EVIL.
Eleven-year-old Hope Mitchell was running for her life. She should’ve listened to her mother, listened to the rules…and now they’d found her. But God, being holed up in the compound. Day in. Day out. Her mother always crying. The doctors. “What do you hear Hope?” “If you focus here and listen, do you get anything?” No I don’t get anything. Leave me alone. Leave me alone was what she always wanted to shout. Then the teachers. “You can do better than that, Hope. Here’s the correct way to write the character in Chinese. No, that’s not how you say it in French.”
She thought she had them fooled. Thought if she played dumb, they’d let her and her mom go. They had with that other kid—Joey Reynolds. Or at least, she saw them all get into a car one day and leave. One of the doctors and a teacher and Joey and his mom. Everyone knew that Joey didn’t have the gift. It didn’t take much or long to figure that out. Did they drop him and his mom off somewhere with a house and a pool and a neighborhood with normal kids who didn’t see or hear or know things that no one else did?
Feet pounded behind her and her heart raced. She couldn’t let them catch her. Tears started to cloud her vision. No. Don’t cry. Can’t cry. Keep running. Get safe and tell someone. Tell them where mommy is. Would anyone believe her? It didn’t matter. They had to.
“Hope. Stop. Come on. You’re a little girl. You’ll get lost out here. There’s hungry animals,” one of the men yelled.
Bushes scraped against her legs, scratching them. The smell of sage tickled her nose. She hated that smell—sweet, sour, strong. The teachers burned it all the time in the meditation room saying it was good for to clear out any negativity. Negativity? Who were they kidding? They had to burn a lot of sage for that in that stupid place.
The mountain ahead of her was huge. How could she climb it?
The men continued shouting. “It’s okay. Stop, Hope. Stop. We won’t hurt you. Your mother wants you to come home. She could get sick without you.”
One of the voices came closer. The tears started again and this time they wouldn’t be shoved down. What if they hurt her mom? But if she didn’t find help, if she didn’t tell someone, then Mom and her would be trapped in that place forever. She could see it in her mom’s eyes—the fear, like her own. Her mom tried to act like it was all good, like they were normal and that they should feel lucky they were so well taken care of, but her mother wasn’t kidding anyone, least of all Hope. She wasn’t exactly a stupid kid. No. She had to find a way out to save her mom.
The feet were right behind her. She sped up and ran as fast as she could. Don’t let them get me. I’m faster. I can do it. I can beat them and get my mom and then we’ll be okay. We’ll get a house. We’ll get a dog. I’ll go to a real school.
She pushed ahead and the voices grew farther away, still yelling for her. If she could get over that mountain she knew, she just knew she’d find somewhere safe to go because on the other side of that mountain was a highway. She knew it was there because she could hear people sometimes in their cars talking to each other, listening to the radio, or speaking on their cell phones.
Her chest ached and her stomach hurt so bad. Don’t barf. Can’t barf. Keep running.
She hadn’t fooled them at all. Had she? Trying to play dumb, getting bad grades, sitting in the headmaster’s office being punished. They told her to stop it, they knew what she was doing and they knew she wasn’t dumb at all. If she helped them she could go back to her apartment and be with her mom. But if she didn’t help them… They never said what would happen, except that she might not ever see her mom again, and so she told them everything she’d heard. It was scary. She didn’t understand it, but after she told them, they let her go back and be with her mom and she was so happy to see her and be held by her. Mom smelled like peaches and vanilla from this lotion she bought at the compound store, and that night she’d made Hope tacos—her favorite. Then they’d laughed and watched Survivor on TV. That’s what she was now—a survivor—and she’d win. She had to. It was worth way more than a million dollars.
And now, since she’d told them, they wanted more and more from her. But she was smart. Wasn’t she? She’d watched, waited and planned how to get out and away.
No alarms had gone off. No dogs. Nothing. She’d done it, made it under that super small space she’d seen in the fence the other day when she’d walked home with her friend Teresa Spiro. And then, ten minutes later, the men shouting and running after her. How did they know? How did they find her?
When she’d crawled under the fence it cut into her back. The pain meant nothing now. Not compared to the blood flowing in her ears, making it sound like a river was rushing through them, and her heart still racing and her feet thudding along the ground. No, pain did not matter. Freedom mattered. Hope understood that a price couldn’t be put on freedom. The voices were yet farther away. She was halfway up the mountain. She was getting out. She was going to make it!
“Where is she?” one of the men yelled. Then lights, bright flashlights scanned the side of the mountain. “There. Right there. Get her.”
Keep running. Don’t look back. But she did. She looked back, and then she tripped.
A fierce hot pain shot through her leg like nothing she’d ever felt—not like a bruise or a scrape. A white flash rushed in front of her eyes. Her mind dizzied into a swirl of bright lights, shouting voices and her own voice telling her to get up and run. Keep going. She got to her knees. Oh God. It hurt. Her leg twisted up and would not follow directions. Stupid leg. “Mom, Mom, Mommy?” The tears came freely as a man stood above her and knelt down.
“You’re okay. We’ll have that fixed up soon.” He lifted her up and walked toward three other men.
She didn’t recognize these men. They weren’t any of the guards she was so afraid of. Maybe they were here to save her. That had to be it. Thank God. Yes. The man was so nice. That’s why they were here. She sighed and even with the shooting pain soaring up her leg and throughout her body she breathed a sigh and leaned against the man’s chest. His heart thumped through his army green shirt.
Then her relief suddenly changed when she heard one of the other men already inside his car speaking into a cell phone. “We’ll have her on the helicopter in fifteen. She’s hurt. Looks like a broken leg. Have a doctor meet us at the airstrip. Yes, we’ll be in Malta by tomorrow.”
She squeezed her eyes shut and started to squirm.
“Hey, some sedation over here. She’s agitated.” Another man joined them. They kept walking at a fast clip. The man held on tight to her as she tried to wriggle out of his grasp. His voice raised, not so gentle this time. “Knock it off kid.”
They rolled up her sleeve. Alcohol burned her nose as someone rubbed it onto her arm with a cotton swab. Then the sting of the needle. The pain in her leg lessened, a tickle fluttered and settled through her body, numbing it. Closing her eyes, she knew that these men were not from the compound. She would’ve been so much better off if they had been.
Hope Mitchell was quite aware that the one thing she’d been warned of, that all of the kids had been warned could happen to them if they ever tried to leave, had happened to her.
*** Finally, this next excerpt is from the mystery that I have no title for yet. :)
“We can’t live here! This place is disgusting. I can’t believe you brought me here. You’re such a jerk. I hate you!” Leila’s fifteen-year-old daughter Taylor shouted at her and then stormed away toward the beach,
Leila Reynolds stood there staring after her child, arms crossed in front of her. She sighed heavily. She’d heard worse onslaughts than that in recent times. She was on a few people’s hate list. Had been called bitch and a few other callous words by her mother and her daughter—and the names her ex-husband had called her, well, no need to go there… so jerk and being hated, hmmm, well not so bad. Now as far as their new home, Taylor was sort of right and this was more upsetting then her teenager’s angst.
The forty-two-year old mother had so looked forward to arriving back here on the big island of Hawaii and starting over in her Aunt Kiki’s bed & breakfast—a place that held many fond memories from her childhood for Leila. She’d pretty much spent every summer from the time she was six-years-old in Hawaii with her aunt. And now Kiki was gone and guilt washed over Leila as the fact that she hadn’t been to see her Aunt in twelve years reminded her how quickly time passed, and how much things can change in such a short amount of time. Things like falling in love, having a child with the one you are so deeply in love with, working at a career so hard and being at the top of the game…and then bham—all changed in one moment, one instant. One sentence. “I don’t love you anymore.” Well two really. The one that followed was something like, “I’m on love with someone else.” Leila shut her eyes tightly for a brief second and with the shake of her head attempted to rid herself of that one moment in time—only six months ago. She was pretty sure it was a moment she would never forget.
Leila had gotten married, lived the high life in New York building her reputation as a top chef and she’d had Taylor. The demands of day to day life had kept her away but she’d talked to Aunt Kiki every week and not ever—ever—did her favorite aunt let on that things had been rough for her. Apparently they had been. Obviously.
Leila took in a deep breath and surveyed the grounds of the property before venturing into the house. The view was still there—with the Pacific Ocean just down a pathway. The carefree breeze coming off the ocean carried with it a freshness of salt and water, earth and wind, so pure and natural that a breath truly felt like one of fresh air.
The B&B sat just high enough to make the ocean appear as a never ending line of blue. She turned back toward the house where she’d spent days exploring and feeling carefree as a girl. It looked like something out of a ghost story now—haunted and morose. Weeds surrounded it. The rose bushes were dormant and dry, but stood tall against the house. Plumeria was out of control but gave off that amazing floral scent that when she closed her eyes she could envision the home in a better light—painted crisp butter color, a swing on the cottage style place that was reminiscent of old Hawaii. Now the paint was chipping off, the place overgrown and the swing only hanging from one chain. “What happened, Kiki?” she whispered. “What happened to this place? What happened to you?”
She walked around to the back side where she spotted the barn not too far off in the distance. The once tucked away but illustrious vacation spot had been known for accommodating trail rides for the occupants. She spotted about ten horses out in the pasture. The barn appeared to be pretty much in the same state as the house. Leila shook her head again trying to imagine what had gone on with Kiki. Was she depressed? Was she flat broke and too prideful? Was she sick? That thought horrified Leila and the guilt consumed her yet again.
“Hey you? Need a room?” A slight looking man walked out the front door and stood on the porch. He brought his hand up to cover his eyes from the sun. Leila walked toward him. He took a few steps down off the porch.
“Hi. I’m Leila Reynolds.” She took him in. He was anywhere between fifty and eighty—either a man who hadn’t aged well or who had done decently. He was average height, thin, bald, hazel eyes and hunched over slightly. He looked like he was at least part Hawaiian.
“Hmm,” he grunted.
“And you must be?”
“Jones,” he said.
She nodded. “Yes. Jones. The attorney informed me that you are the ranch manager. Right?”
“Uh huh.” He shrugged.
This was definitely going places. Like nowhere—quickly. “Yeah. Did you get my messages? I called the main line and left messages and I had a phone number for you as well but it just rang and rang.”
He stared at her for a moment. “Guess you should come on inside then. Place is yours.” He turned his back and climbed the steps, opening the screen door. Leila didn’t move, she was so taken aback by him. Without turning around, Jones grumbled, “You coming or what?”
“Uh yes. Thank you.” Leila followed in behind him.
She took a step inside and caught her breath as memories flooded her. The place smelled exactly as it had when she was a child—tropical with a little age to it, and the coastal sea air blending into the mix. The furniture was a bit worse for wear—she was pretty sure that had also remained the same for nearly thirty-five years. There were dust bunnies along the hard wood floors that Leila knew were original Koa. This place had once been so pristine. What had happened here? “How many guests come here, a month?” she asked.
Jones shrugged. “Maybe two, three.”
Her jaw dropped. “What? What happened to business?”
He shrugged again. “Lots of fancy, big resorts to stay in now. No bother to come out here.”
“Sure there is. That’s the attractiveness of this place. It always has been. It’s off the beaten path with amazing views. It’s charming, plus there are the horses and Kiki always made such delicious food.”
“Kiki stopped cooking some time ago.”
“She did?” Leila couldn’t believe what she was hearing. It was Aunt Kiki who had inspired her to become a chef in the first place. She’d made extraordinary dishes that people from all over raved about and came up to the place just to eat and stay for a night. Even the locals would do so. “Why? Was she sick?”
“No. She stopped cooking. Look, you know where the bedrooms are. Have your pick. I sleep out at the barn. I have to go and feed the animals. I will see you in the morning.” With that Jones slipped out the back kitchen door. Leila watched him make the trek to the pasture and begin bringing the handful of horses into the barn. She could also see three dairy cows grazing.
She shook her head and tried to take it all in. First off, Jones was a strange man, and she had a feeling he knew more about what had been going on with Kiki before she died. Leila couldn’t swallow the pill that her ant had just given up her cooking, a favorite past time and on top of that allow this place to become so run down.
“What happened here, Kiki?” she said aloud. “What happened to you?” Leila knew in her gut that the answer to those questions were not good.
So, if anyone out there is interested in getting together and working on one of these projects with me, let me know. Otherwise, I'm going to keep on at the pace I am and eventually the ideas will all make it out there. :)
P.S. All of you new Kindle owners, many of my e-books are at rock bottom prices right now. Happy Hour is at .99 and all the A.K. Alexander books are between .99 and 1.99. The Nikki books are still at the publisher pricing. Sorry. I have no control over that.