Originally posted on Renee Writes:
I’ve been married to a wonderful man for more than twenty years now. He’s a senior investigator with our county sheriff’s office. As a result, I know an awful lot of cops, which is one reason I love putting police procedural elements in my fiction. I also spent ten years as a reporter, which gave me a collection of war stories you would not believe.
My husband Mike and I have one son, Anthony, who is in his twenties now.
About the Book
Struggling novelist Summer St. Clare can’t remember her murdered mother’s face, or most of her childhood before the age of twelve. The only constant in her life is Paladin, once her imaginary childhood friend, now the handsome detective of her urban fantasy series.
There’s nothing imaginary about Paladin now. Hot, seductive and dangerous, Paladin blurs the line between fantasy and reality. The passion Summer experiences in his arms makes her question what’s real — or whether she cares.
Someone else believes in Paladin, and he wants Summer dead. Her confusion mounts when she fights off five attackers with a display of dazzling martial arts skills she doesn’t remember acquiring. As she searches for answers and runs for her life, her dream lover becomes more real with every kiss.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
I picked the phone up and read a line at random. Murders, rapes and beatings battered his consciousness until he shuddered in revulsion.
The horror I’d — Paladin — had seen in the killer’s mind rushed back, black and awful. It’s not real, I told myself.
Myself wasn’t buying it. It had sure as hell felt real.
There’s something wrong with me. It’s not normal to feel this way about something I freakin’ made up.
I’d gone to writers’ conventions where other artists talked about their creative processes. Nobody else seemed to experience their fictional worlds as a splatter-punk flick. Yeah, they imagined the action in considerable detail, but not the way I did. They didn’t smell and taste the blood, or feel the anguish of innocent and hero.
Unfortunately, I knew no other way to work. If I wasn’t sane, there wasn’t a fucking thing I could do about it, short of turning myself in to the nearest shrink.
And I had no interest whatsoever in paying rent on a rubber room.
After feeding the cat, I spent the next couple of hours organizing stock and waiting on customers. One was Dave Stone, who came in to buy a pack of Magic the Gathering cards. He was looking for an Unwinding Clock to add to his collection. The teen usually bought a pack once or twice a month hoping to hit one that included whichever card he was currently looking for. There were thousands of Magic cards used as weapons in the game, and you never knew what you were going to get when you bought any given pack.
“One of these days, I’m going to collect an entire set of rare cards,” Dave said with a sigh, scratching Calliope under her chin as she purred in feline ecstasy. “Just as soon as I have a few thousand to spare.”
Collecting the really rare cards wasn’t cheap, though you could get a new pack for ten bucks. Dave worked at McDonald’s solely to fund his addiction to Magic and manga — Japanese comic books.
“I’m keeping an eye out for those foil cards you want,” I told him, then added impulsively, “Hey, what’s the deal with your mom? I swear to God, that woman acts like I terrify her.” I wouldn’t normally ask a question like that of a customer, but Dave and I had been friends since I’d opened the store.
“Probably has something to do with Paladin. Mom said just yesterday…” His eyes widened, and he got an odd look on his face, as if he’d just said something that would get him into trouble.
“Your mother reads my books?” I asked, surprised. I always figured she’d be more inclined to burn them, assuming you could actually burn an e-book.
“Uh… Yeah. I let her borrow my copies.” Hastily he added, “Hey, did I tell you I gave Paladin’s Favor five stars on Amazon? And not just because you’re my buddy, either. I enjoyed that book.”
“Really?” I asked, diverted. Authors are like new mothers — all you have to do to win our hearts is complement our babies.
“Really. Paladin’s seriously kickass.”
We spent the next ten minutes talking about the book. It was only after Dave left I wondered about his comment that his mother’s issues with me had something to do with Paladin. What the hell had he meant?
Huh. I’d have to harass him about that later. Speaking of Paladin… I picked up my phone again, planning to take a look at the copy I’d written.
“Meeeeoooooooow!” Calliope shoulder-checked my hand so hard, I dropped the cell, which clattered to the desktop and almost tumbled off before I caught it. The cat gave me a narrow-eyed glare as I put it back on the desk. Before I could look at the screen again, she planted a paw on my wrist in warning. Her claws were retracted, but judging by the look on her fuzzy face, she was ready to pop them like Wolverine.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was warning me off another foray into my book.
Deciding it was time for a mollifying feline bribe, I got a packet of cat treats out of the desk and fed her a couple. After a few more minutes scratching behind her ears while she purred like a Porche, I was no longer feeling masochistic enough for another PTSD flashback. When I picked up my phone again, it was to indulge in my favorite e-crack, Pinterest.
I found several shots of half-nekkid men to pin to my “Hero Inspiration” board, hunks who might make good characters if I ever got around to writing romances. Which exercise was actually just an excuse to ogle hot guys who made my girly bits tingle.
One advantage of being a novelist is you can use research as an excuse for just about anything.
By the time five o’clock rolled around, I still hadn’t edited any of the day’s pages. That was unusual for me. I’m one of those writers who has the most trouble with the first draft. Once that’s done, I can spend countless happy hours playing with sentences, cutting some, restructuring others, and creating pretty phrases to salt into my prose.
This time I was in no hurry to dive back into the psychic sewer of Paladin’s battle with Gerald.
Anyway, it was time to head for home and the Lois McMaster Bujold novel I was reading for the third time.
It was dark when I stepped out of the shop, purse flung over my shoulder, Calliope ghosting along at my heels like a fluffy shadow. “All things considered, it wasn’t that bad a day,” I told her as I led the way toward the Kia I’d left parked out in the middle of the lot, leaving nearer spots for the customers. Some of the older ladies find it painful to walk very far. “I got twenty pages written, and nobody cleaned out the shop while I was catatonic.”
Calliope opened her mouth to meow, then froze, her blue eyes going round in alarm. Hissing, she crouched, ears flattening as her tail bushed. I frowned down at her, which is why I didn’t immediately notice the shitstorm about to break on my hapless head.
“All right bitch, hand over the purse and maybe we won’t beat you to death.”
I jerked my head up, my heart diving for my sneakers as I realized I should’ve listened to Mary and bought a gun.
Make that an AK-47.
Five men ringed me in the darkness, eyes hard over nasty smiles, looking like the chorus line of America’s Most Wanted.