Archives for : urban fantasy

The Holy Dark Excerpt


We are but a few short weeks away from the final installment to The Black Parade series! If you aren’t caught up, here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 and half of Chapter 2. Below is the conclusion to Chapter 2. Enjoy!

Continue Reading >>

The Holy Dark Goodreads Giveaway


Enter to win a free signed paperback copy of The Holy Dark. Deadline is April 24, 2015. Don’t miss your chance!

The Holy Dark Release Date


April 24, 2015. Mark your calendars, my darlings. The Holy Dark is comin’ atcha.

Join the Facebook launch party for a chance to win a free copy and other prizes, or enter to win a paperback copy on Goodreads. Pre-order will be available soon, so stay tuned!

Additionally, Advanced Reader Copies are available by emailing me at Keep in mind: do not ask for a copy unless you fully intend to leave a review. If you do not review it after receiving a copy, you will not receive ARCs from my other books in the future.

See you soon, adventurous readers!

Cover Reveal: The Holy Dark

You’ve been patient and now it’s finally here.

Cover design by Gunjan Kumar and Chris Cold.

Cover design by Gunjan Kumar and Chris Cold.

Sarcastic demon-slayer extraordinaire Jordan Amador has been locked in a year-long struggle to hunt down the thirty silver coins paid to Judas Iscariot. The mere touch of these coins is enough to kill any angel.

Jordan’s demonic opposition grows more desperate with each coin found, so they call on the ultimate reinforcement: Moloch, the Archdemon of War. Moloch puts out a contract on Jordan as well as her estranged husband, the Archangel Michael. Now Jordan and Michael will have to find a way to work together to survive against impossible odds and stop Moloch’s plan, or else he’ll wage a war that will wipe out the human race.

The Holy Dark will hit shelves April 24, 2015. You can get in paperback right now, pre-order it on the Kindle, add it to your Goodreads To Be Read shelf, like my Facebook page, or sign up with the mailing list to find out more about the series. While you wait, there are two excerpts available to read. Please spread the word!


The Dresden Files Reread and Review: Storm Front

Harry Dresden--Wizard Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable rates. No love potions, endless purses, parties, or other entertainment.

Harry Dresden–Wizard
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable rates. No love potions, endless purses, parties, or other entertainment.

Hey, remember that New Year’s resolutions for 2015 list that I made? I’m finally ponying up on one of them. We’ve got 14 books to cover and I might as well get the candle burning. As expected, mild spoilers for The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. These are of course informal reviews that are both plot-recapping and my reactions to elements of the stories. Though I will give each book a star rating to make you happy because I love you. Yes, you.

The gangly smartass wizard known as Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden crashlanded into my life in 2013 thanks to my big brother. I began reading Storm Front on a whim since I remembered a friend had bought it for me and I lent it to my brother, and quickly discovered it was the best decision ever. Gleefully intrigued after finishing the first book, I grabbed the remaining paperback copies my brother had collected and smashed through the entire series in the span of one summer. I read them so quickly that I think I actually missed some of the subtle nuances, and that’s what has prompted me to do a reread and review of each in series.

I think what first caught my eye about Storm Front—aside from the handsome son of gun representing my beloved wizard on the cover—is the fact that the beginning is actually sort of quiet and subtle. We get some choice snarking from Harry and a quick, efficient set up for his world, for the plot of the series, and for the plot of this first novel. As you get further into the Dresden Files, many of the other books open with a bang—hell, Blood Rites and Changes are actually famous for having incredible opening scenes—but this one is surprisingly tame and yet interesting enough to get you to turn the pages. If you know anything about me, it’s that my first language is sarcasm. Give me a sarcastic little shit of a narrator and I am yours. Harry won me over from page one with his knack for being a surly snarker, but it helps that we’re immediately led right into a good murder case and missing person’s case as well.

Another thing that immediately warmed me to Storm Front is the established friendship between Harry and Lieutenant Karrin Murphy. It’s very common for supernatural P.I. characters or magic practitioners in urban fantasy or paranormal fiction to work with cops. It would be a thing that would happen for real if we lived in that world. However, Harry and Murphy are a departure from your average cop/consultant relationship because of the strength of that friendship. When you first start this series, you probably don’t figure Murphy will be much more than an ally or an occasional roadblock, but once things start going, you realize how awesome it is as part of the overall series. Harry and Murphy’s professional relationship could have been cliché or boring, but it’s not because they have maddening amounts of chemistry, and not just the romantic kind. It’s quite rare for such a grounded friendship. It works incredibly well against the grisly murder Harry is called in to consult on, and it’s also a really good set up for the evolution of their relationship.

I absolutely adore the fact that Harry and Murphy are good friends who occasionally engage in harmless flirting and think nothing of it. I adore it. It’s so rare that you have a platonic friendship of this magnitude in this particular genre because most of them like to give you pairings and sexual tension early on, and to be honest, Harry and Murphy don’t start showing signs of sexual attraction until a few books in. It’s a testament to Butcher’s excellent comprehension of character development and style that he wrote them this way. A lot of Harry’s actions work better because he isn’t strongly attracted to Murphy (or rather, doesn’t realize yet that he’s attracted to her) and so it says so much more about him as a person that he does things out of loyalty and friendship than out of love for her. Sure, he loves her to pieces already, but not romantically, and there is a sharp difference between those two kinds of love. It’s something you’ll see down the road when their relationship starts to develop into something more as the books progress.

If you can’t tell already, I ship the ever-loving crap out of Harry and Murphy. It’s extremely unhealthy. It’s a huge hindrance for rereading the series because I keep wanting these two oblivious idiots to snog each other senseless since I know what happens further down the line. It’s going to be the hardest part of my reread to not let my shipping needs interfere with my analysis of the books.

To be fair, my theory is that Butcher kept writing them and writing them and then one day reread his work and went, “… ‘allo, wot’s all this then?” In the early books, as mentioned above, they flirt a little just because it’s good fun, but I don’t think Butcher planned on them starting to develop feelings until a good ways into the series when he realized just how compatible they are and how much they respect and care for each other. Their relationship has so many layers that I think he just realized it and then went for it. It’s not spontaneous, but it is a delightful development that I think just snuck up on him one day.

Moving right along, we meet “Gentleman” Johnny Marcone, Chicago’s premiere crime boss, in just a couple of chapters in. I don’t know how I feel about Marcone overall. I think since I’ve read all the books (except Ghost Story, shut up, stop judging me) and I know what direction they head in, it’s hard for me to like this guy as a character. To me, Marcone feels the most like a tool that Butcher used for the story than a naturally existing character. He’s not forced or anything, but compared to the other villains we meet along the way, he’s the least interesting to me. It’s not because he’s human, mind you, but because he’s just a common kind of bad guy. Eloquent, sophisticated, dangerous, and patient. He’s basically just a less maniacal Lex Luthor, and that might be why he’s never impressed me over the length of the series. He’s a means to an end. A good foil for Harry, but little else than that in my eyes.

After our encounter with Marcone, we get to see Harry in his professional environment of helping a client. One of the things to note about the first book is Harry is still an old-fashioned guy with no social life, so he tends to fixate on pretty women a lot, and it’s a general character flaw. I get so bent out of shape about people who complain about Harry’s sexism in the early books because it is fully intentional. Harry not only acknowledges that he’s old-fashioned, but he pokes fun at himself and knows it’s not something he needs to do but rather is just built into his personality. I don’t mind it so much because it’s an actual problem that gets exploited in the series more than once, and because Harry learns from it later on. Hell, one of the reasons I instantly liked him is because he so clearly has real flaws and quirks about him rather than being a cool guy 1940’s-style P.I. or an alpha male lead. Things scare him. Things worry him. I hadn’t seen much of that in my various readings, and certainly not in the urban fantasy genre.

Next, we’re introduced to McAnally’s pub—a neutral zone for the paranormal folk of Chicago—as well as Susan Rodriguez, a gorgeous, nosy reporter with a focus on the supernatural. Like Marcone, I’m not sure how I feel about Susan as a whole, though I hold her in much higher regard than him. She feels like she’s supposed to be here more than she really needs to be here. It’s tricky to explain why, and it’s even harder to do that without inviting massive series-wide spoilers into the mix. I feel about Susan the same way I felt about Rachel Dawes from The Dark Knight saga. Both are written adequately, both are important to the plot and the main characters, but for some reason, I never quite liked them. I don’t dislike either of them, but I never gravitated towards them. It could just be a personal taste and preference thing, though, so keep that in mind. As a writer, I tend to like people who are more similar to me, and while I couldn’t hope to be as cool and useful as Karrin Murphy, I like her because we’re still cut from the same cloth, whereas I am nothing like Susan Rodriguez. She’s smart and sexy and manipulative, and I can’t be any of those three things simultaneously. Hell, I can’t even be two of the three, which is probably why Harry and I get along so well.

Soon afterwards, we’re introduced to Harry’s home life, which I also happen to adore because it’s modest without being depressing. He has a cat named Mister who acts like a real cat—affectionate when he feels like it, but with plenty of attitude—and a piece-of-junk car called the Blue Beetle that is lovable (I had one just like it named Old Bruce in my youth) and an apartment with zero things that the average person has that would drive any non-wizard crazy. However, Harry takes it all in stride with humble appreciation and that’s pretty much what makes it work.

We also get both Harry working some magic in order to get some information from the fairie Toot, and an introduction to the colossal asshole Warden Morgan, a member of the White Council of wizards assigned to monitoring Harry. Both are recurring characters with distinctive quirks that make them easy to remember. The good news about Morgan is that he’s a relevant source of conflict with justified reasons for hating Harry’s guts. The bad news is he’s still a massive prick and you kind of want to curb-stomp him. The White Council is by far one of the most brilliant aspects to Harry’s universe because they’re supposed to righteously uphold the Laws of Magic, but they really are a bunch of pompous assholes, like a real form of government. That’s brilliant, if you ask me.

Next, we’re introduced to Bob—an air spirit of near-infinite knowledge who lives in a skull in Harry’s basement lab. Bob is a riot. That’s pretty much all I need to say about him.

Then zoom! We’re off to plot stuff. It’s gritty and paced quickly, getting one beyond the halfway point of the novel in practically no time flat. We’re also treated to a little cool down time in Chapter 12 with Murphy getting the injured Harry home and taking care of him so sweetly that it sent my inner shipper off on a pleasure cruise. Get used to it, folks. I’m sorry. I ship them so hard, and they’re not even romantically involved in this book. I need professional help after the way this chapter ends.

We also get to the scene that literally made me decide that I was going to not only read but love the rest of this series. A giant toad demon infiltrates Harry’s home while Susan is there, and while they’re in the basement hiding behind a temporary shield, Susan accidentally drinks a love potion and tries to have sex with Harry while he’s trying to kill the demon. Sweet mother of God, that is the most hilarious scenario anyone could ever come up with. I remember sitting on my brother’s couch cackling hysterically at that entire scene. Sheer brilliance.

And of course, we also get treated to a staple in the Dresden Files, which is scenes where it feels like someone tied you to the floor spread-eagle, taped butterfly knives to the front of their shoes, and started gleefully kicking you in the chest. Yes, Mr. Butcher is proficient at making you feel like shit warmed over by a toaster oven. This time it’s because Harry screws up and can’t tell Murphy what he knows because it could get her killed and they’re at odds with each other. I’d rather have hydrochloric acid dripped onto my tits than have to feel this all the time. These kinds of scenes have always been Butcher’s best work—making you love and care for these characters, and then drop-kicking them emotionally (and sometimes physically).

The climax of the novel is a big, ugly, crazy explosion, pretty much. It sets up a lot of great things for the future, as a good first-in-series should. It has just a slice of nearly everything that you will get to see in further detail for later books, with a few exceptions here and there.

This reread went amazingly fast, and that’s probably what got me so deeply into the series. I blasted through nearly 400 pages in one afternoon and you never feel the time when you’re hanging out with Mr. Dresden. I love the pacing. I love the diction and style. I love the careful world-building and the grounded characters. I love that Butcher knows when to joke and when to reach into your chest and squish your heart between his fingers. I love this series. Love, love, love.

5 out of 5 stars.

Next time, we’ll be diving into Fool Moon on my Dresden Files reread and review. Don’t stay out too late, kiddies. The monsters mostly come at night.



Christmas Sale 2014


Happy holidays! In the spirit of Christmas, She Who Fights Monsters is free to download via Amazon all day long! Please grab yourself a copy or share it with a friend or loved one. My gift to you, dear readers.

Black Friday 2014

It’s that time of year again! Where reckless people trample each other, retail workers are forced to deal with the dregs of society, holidays are cut short, and the entire sales industry cackles madly and strokes a white cat as they watch us pour our hard earned money straight into their pockets!

To that end, my short story collection, The Deadly Seven, is FREE to download on Amazon all day long.



Grab a copy if you haven’t already.

I’m also collaborating with other authors today, so here are some other novels that are having Black Friday sales. Buy one, buy all! It’s your choice.

Purchasing information and book blurbs below. Enjoy!

It’s high adventure with the Thrillseekers, as they search for a treasure that could save the world from an ancient threat! For all of Black Friday, Secrets of the Stonechaser: Book 1 of The Law of Eight, will be available on Amazon for only 99 cents. In addition, for today only get Book 2 (Follow the Faery Footpath) at half-price for $2.49! 
Macy Mercer only wants a little independence. Eager to prove herself grown up, she goes to a dark, secluded park. She’s supposed to meet the boy of her dreams who she met online. But the cute fifteen year old was a fantasy, his pictures fake. She finds herself face to face with Chester Woodran, a man capable of murder.

Distraught over his own missing daughter, Chester insists that Macy replace his lost girl. He locks Macy up, withholds food, and roughs her up, demanding that she call him dad. Under duress from his constant threats and mind games, her hold on reality starts to slip. Clinging to her memories is the only way of holding onto her true identity, not believing that she is Chester’s daughter. Otherwise she may never see her family again. 

3. Link –
I will promote a promo post on my blog:
5. Author name: Stacy Claflin
Thank you,
Stacy Claflin
Two hundred years in the future, the City of London has fallen to thugs and scoundrels. The once thriving metropolis is now a shadow of its former self; decent citizens cower in their homes and the streets are no longer safe. In the city lives Skye Archer, a Morpher with the ability to transform into a wolf (her spirit animal) at will. Morphers are the direct result of an experiment that took place two centuries previously. Though extremely rare, Morphers exist in all countries and from all walks of life.
It is on one fateful day that Skye meets Raphael Renzo, the handsome son of Lord Renzo who rules over a fair part of West London and does his best to thwart the villains and cads in the city. Raphael has a secret of his own, one the villains secretly fear and one that both intrigues and disturbs Skye. As time goes on, Skye is unable to prevent the feelings she develops for Raphael, but there is nothing to determine whether it is returned. As she sinks further into the depths of unrequited love, Skye discovers things about herself that she never thought possible, things even more incredible than being able to transform into a wolf. As an impending civil war approaches, Skye must wrestle with the fiery passion she feels for Raphael, while at the same time playing her part in protecting innocent citizens of the city. Intriguing, exciting and compelling, it is a tale of love and war, one where the heart of a city and the heart of a girl are simultaneously pierced by one man
If you’re like me, you’ve probably stuffed yourself silly with turkey and eaten a whole bunch of food and don’t feel like going out anywhere! Well relax and stay inside and do your cyber shopping on Black Friday. If your up for it take a trip into the Wild West and experience a Western drenched in Horror. A Bloody Bloody Mess is a great treat for Western and Horror fans alike. What happens when a ruthless, no good, down and dirty Mexican outlaw makes his way into a desolate town looking to take over and turn it into a ghost town? The same thing that happens when an up and coming, bright eager young man steps out of his late father’s shadow and brings the town together to stop him. They battle in and all out bloody war. Javier Bones Jones leads his team of the undead against Emerson Shaw and the people of Toomswood, who will prevail?
Don’t be a turkey, eat it and do yourself a favor, entertain yourself and get in on a great deal and pick up a copy of A Bloody Bloody Mess In The Wild Wild West

3.Purchase links:          

Genre: Science fiction/fantasy/humorous/detective mystery
Author: Keith A. Owens
Author Website:
Twitter: @MayoMadd
Page Count: 332 pages
Publishing Date: Oct. 15, 2014
ISBN: 1502857014
Discount Price: $5
“The saga continues as a crew of angry mutant chickens collaborate with the critters from Planet 10 and a group of ambitious drug dealers in Denver to inflict the alien drug MayoMadd upon a planet of unsuspecting humans as revenge on behalf of the human/chicken hybrids for an experiment that went horribly wrong. This is a science fiction/fantasy/detective mystery with a lot of humor thrown in for one wild, offbeat ride.”
The Mayonnaise Murders Part 2 is here! I know it’s been almost a year since Part 1, but I wanted to get this just right. I’m really hoping you’ll find it worth the wait. I’m not kidding, I had a ball writing this, so if you have half as much fun reading it as I did writing it then I’ll consider it a win.

Meanwhile, take a ride with Chapter 1 for free here on my website. For your patience.

Oh, and for those of you who have not yet read The Mayonnaise Murders Part 1, it’s on sale for just 99 cents for the next two weeks on Amazon:

Keith A. Owens
2. Larkspur: A Necromancer’s Romance
Pierre Salvador reunites with a childhood friend at his birthday gala, falling in love with the girl he had not seen in several years. But the duc has not been idle in his time away- he has not only become a skilled physician, he practices the art of necrocræft as well- control over life and death. Now the one to bestow this dark magic upon him has a final task for him to complete.

“A simple, beautiful, and slightly twisted love story.”

99¢ Dark Fantasy / Romance


A Little Laughter. A Little Mayhem. A Little MURDER…

For those who like cozy mysteries, humorous mysteries and police

When beautiful Barbara Longman is found dead in a meadow, uprooted wild
flowers strewn about her and, in her hand, a single marigold, British
Detective Joe Rafferty at first believes the murder may be the work of
the serial killer over the county border in Suffolk.

But then he meets the victim’s family – and after liaising with the
Suffolk police, he rapidly comes to believe that the mystery killing is
the work of a copycat…one much closer to home; someone among the
descendants of the long-dead family patriarch, Maximillian Shore.

Everyone, it seems, had a motive: Henry the grieving widower; the
victim’s brother-in-law Charles Shore, the ruthless tycoon; Henry’s
first wife, the Bohemian Anne, who has lost the custody of her teenage
son, to the saintly Barbara.

Even the long-dead patriarch, Maximillian Shore, seems, to Rafferty, to
have some involvement in the murder, though how, or why, Rafferty
doesn’t understand until he finally grasps the truth behind the reasons
for the killing. A truth sad and dreadful and which had been evident
from the start, if only he had had the eyes to see.

BLACK FRIDAY BARGAIN @ 99c (Was $1.80). Book #1 in the series (Dead
Before Morning) is FREE in the US and UK. Link:

Please send all other ads to this email address:

Scott, before are my book covers, links and descriptions. I’ll post on my Facebook author page at My email The discounted price will be $1.99 each.
    Washington, D.C.’s legal community is shaken by a sudden spate of homicides. The ill-fated individuals had a history of behaving badly to everyone around them. But their behavior doesn’t seem to be bad enough to warrant murder.
With Detective David Graham in charge of the case, can he and his partner, Alexis Hamilton, put a stop to the killings? Unknown to him, however, Alexis has an agenda of her own. She’s in love with David and will do whatever it takes to make him return her affection.
     With David following clues to the identity of the killer, will he discover the secrets the people closest to him are trying to hide before it’s too late?
Part of the proceeds from the sales of this book will go to benefit the Memphis Shelby County Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter located in Cordova, TN. Barnes & Noble
Teaching can be murder!
    When a private school teacher is found raped and murdered, David Graham is assigned to the investigation, his first major case since being shot by his former partner, Alexis Hamilton. When a second teacher is murdered, David realizes the cases are related and the school is being targeted. With the help of his new partner, he sets out to find the killers and stop the murders.
     Giving the cases his full attention becomes difficult, however, when Alex escapes from the hospital where she’s been confined. She begins stalking David, threatening to harm everyone he cares about. Can he protect his loved ones from Alex and find the killers targeting teachers at the same time?
Part of the proceeds from the sales of this book will go to benefit the Memphis Shelby County Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter located in Cordova, TN.
What happens when Bigfoot, the Trickster Coyote, the ghost of Sam Steele and the long-lost spirit of The Prophet, brother to the mighty Tecumseh and reincarnated in the form of a giant pink flying Winnebago go toe-to-toe with dark supernatural forces in a cross-Canada battle ranging from Cape Breton to Labrador to Thunder Bay?
I’m not saying that it’s going to be pretty…
So what if #Bigfoot was a #superhero? Free today on #kindle @StephenVernon
3.       Links where I will be promoting – I’ll do the Twitter thing
I will also promote a bit on my blog
I will also promote a bit on my Facebook page
And I also intend to promote a bit on several choice Facebook Kindle pages.
4.       My e-mail is
5.       My author name is the same as my real name – STEVE VERNON
Scott Zavoda delivers with hellish vividness and aching emotion. He’s unleashed seven tales that will claw at your soul. Already sold as singles, “Bobby” and “Beneath the Sand”, have garnered rave reviews. They’re included along with five more gripping stories.

Randy Bivins gets a shocking phone call two days before Christmas. The stranger says he stole his Christmas tree. What Randy discovers is maybe a tradition worth dying for. “Oh Christmas Tree”

Now that surfing, dating, and every aspect of a California retirement are off limits, he paints and pretends the beach isn’t so close. But traces of sand are showing up again in this Vietnam Vet’s house and that can only mean one thing. “Beneath the Sand”

Trapped in a morbid, bloody, decaying land, the hot breath of his pursuer lathers his neck. Jimmy wants to believe he doesn’t know where he is, but he can’t. “Castle Point“

Henry Conroy pilots a Navajo across the stormy Midwest with a coffin in the back. He knows the faster he gets there, the sooner that scratching sound will stop. “Fright Flight”

A simple fishing trip turns deadly for Danny and his disabled brother, Bobby. A gut-wrenching tale of two young brothers who will do anything for a day away from their abusive father and the constant bullying at school. But a wheelchair with a history might change everything. “Bobby”

Flowers for Mom and The Calling are two more stories with an evil twist.

Welp, you’ve got plenty of books to choose from! Happy holidays, everybody!


The Paranormal 13 Box Set

Ain’t she a beaut?

So you like The Black Parade. Would you like to read other books in the paranormal genre?


Of course you do.

Then boogie on over here and pick up a free copy of The Paranormal 13: tales of werewolves, vampires, ghosts, demons, mermaids, Norse gods, and much more! It’s a collaboration of 13 authors and 14 novels for your reading pleasure. Here are the novel titles and authors:

Darkangel by Christine Pope
Twin Souls by K.A. Poe
The Girl by Lola St Vil
Rest for the Wicked by Cate Dean
Drowning Mermaids by Nadia Scrieva
Wolves by C. Gockel
The Witch Hunter by Nicole R Taylor
Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent by Kristy Tate
Nolander by Becca Mills
The Medium by C.J. Archer
Dream Student by J.J. DiBendetto
Deception by Stacy Claflin
The Black Parade by Kyoko M
The Thought Readers by Dima Zales

Just in time for Halloween, too! Don’t forget to also add the box set on Goodreads and give it a review when you’re done with them all.

And while we’re discussing Halloween, check out my review of Guillermo del Toro’s new animated film, The Book of Life. It was fantastic, and what’s more, it’s fantastically diverse. 99% of the cast is people of color. You can’t beat that.

In honor of the macabre holiday, check back here on Monday for the Most Hateable Movie Villains in the last 20 years. It’ll be tons of fun.

Kyo out.

The Holy Dark Excerpt


Are you excited for the final installment to the Black Parade series? You should be! If not, here’s another sneak peek of what’s to come.

Read The Holy Dark Chapter 1.



Hospitals gave me the creeps. All of them, no exceptions. Part of the reason was an inherent childhood fear thanks to the psychiatric hospital that had abducted my mother when I was five years old. The other part was thanks to two archdemons who kidnapped me and tried to kill me two years ago inside a hospital. Still, I ignored the tiny voice inside me that screamed for me to get the hell out and continued my way through the hallway of the Outpatient medical center. Every time a doctor passed by, I flinched and tried not to look at their bright white lab coats. It was ridiculous. I had killed bloodthirsty monsters from another plane of existence and saved the world twice yet a stupid piece of clothing made me want to run and hide.

I reached the room in less than a minute; mostly because I had been walking so fast to the average person it looked like running. My hand froze on the doorknob. I stood there, breathing heavily, remembering the last thing Lauren said to me a year ago. She’d hung up on me, her voice icy as she told me goodbye. Was she still angry? How badly was she hurt? What could I even do about it? What was I doing here, truly?

I took a deep breath. You’re just checking on her, Amador. Man up and do it.

I opened the door. The room was freezing cold. I had to resist the urge to button up my duster to shut out the chill. There were a couple of other patients dozing in their beds. I walked past them, searching for her. She was in the last bed to my right.  My chest constricted as I saw her for the first time in almost a year.

Lauren was a couple inches taller than me with straight black hair that used to make me envious. Mine had to be treated to get that perfect glossy look that fell around the shoulders, but hers was natural. She was Korean, buxom, obnoxious, and hilarious. Her nails were painted blue this time instead of pink or purple. She’d been in the hospital for several hours so they’d cleaned her up a bit, meaning she had no makeup on. She looked years younger than her age of twenty-seven.

Her right arm was in a cast and a sling, resting against her stomach. There was a bruise on her cheek as well. They said she got mugged. I hoped they caught the bastard. Hell, I hoped I caught the bastard so I could teach him some manners.

Lauren opened her eyes, sending a sharp jolt of fear and surprise through my gut. I’d hoped she wouldn’t wake up just yet. Her gaze wandered around for a few seconds, probably a result of the painkillers, before settling on me.

I offered her a weak smile. “Hey, Lauren.”

Her voice came out hoarse. “Jordan?”

“Yeah. I, uh, hopped on the first thing smoking to get here. It was shitty, by the way. The carry on alone put me back eighty bucks. Don’t ever fly with—”

“Get out.”

I managed to cap my nervous verbal diarrhea, staring at her. “What did you say?”

She raised her voice, glaring a hole through my head. “Get. Out.”

I stepped forward, imploring her. “Lauren, I know you’re mad, but please, just let me explain—”

“I’m not going to tell you again. Get out!” she shouted, scaring the guy in the bed across from us awake. I had never heard her sound like that, not to me, only to her scumbag ex-husband. Guilt gnawed through my insides. I had been right. She was still angry, and understandably so.

“Okay. I’ll go. I just…wanted to check on you,” I mumbled, turning away from the fury in those brown eyes. I shuffled out of the room and collapsed in a chair in the hallway. I squeezed my eyes shut and buried the pain inside me as deep as I could. I felt ashamed of myself. I wanted to go back home and crawl under the covers and hide. But that wasn’t going to happen. It didn’t matter if she had disowned me. I still had to make it up to her, somehow. Too bad if it ripped a new scar in my hide. I had plenty as it was.

Time dripped off the clock. I stayed where I was, mentally constructing a speech that would hopefully get me back into her good graces. Sometime during this process, a nurse tapped me on the shoulder.

I glanced up to see a pretty black woman, mid-thirties. “She’s asking for you.”


“Ms. Yi. She wants to see you.”

I checked my watch. Holy hell. I’d been here four hours and didn’t realize it. I nodded too many times and stood up, wobbling on account of my legs falling asleep. I opened the door and made my way back to her bed, expecting the worst.

“Um, you called for me?”

Lauren stared me down for at least a minute. I tried my hardest not to fidget. At last, she spoke and her tone was still disapproving.

“Why are you here?”

“I had to make sure you were alright.”

“Oh, so now you care?”

I shut my eyes for a second. “Yes. I do.”

“What do you want me to say? Are you expecting me to forgive you?”

“No, not really. You’re pretty stubborn. Besides, if I were in your ridiculously high Prada heels, I’d be mad too.”

The ghost of a smirk touched her lips. I almost felt better. I wasn’t much of a friend, but I could make jokes until the end of the world. Which, come to think of it, might one day be my fault.

“Well, I didn’t call you in here to forgive you,” she said, sitting up a bit against her pillows. “I called you in here to ask you a question.”


“Why did a man claiming to be a demon follow me home and break my arm?”


Want to be the first to see the rest of Chapter 2? Sign up for the mailing list and get the next chapter right in your Inbox. You can also add it to your Goodreads To Be Read shelf.

Stay tuned for more announcements coming soon! In case you missed it, the official plot reveal is here.


Things The Dresden Files Taught Me About Writing

No love potions, please.

No love potions, please.

If you are not reading The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, slap yourself in the face right now.

Then go buy the whole series and neglect your real life for the next 72 hours while you read them.

I’ve read a ton of books in my lifetime, but honestly, this series is by far the best thing I’ve read so far. And I’m not trying to blow smoke up Jim Butcher’s ass now that I’ve met him. I’m dead serious. For years, I only read a couple books here and there, and then my brother let me read Storm Front. I haven’t loved a book series that much since the Redwall series by the late great Brian Jacques. The Dresden Files have everything I love about fiction all rolled into one, but it’s also an excellent series to use as a teaching tool to newbie authors like me, and not just those who write urban fantasy. Allow me to explain how Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden has made me a better writer (I think).

Write honestly. So if you know nothing about Harry Dresden, then let me tell you that there’s a reason he’s a bestselling character. You know all those smooth-talking, handsome, sexy, absurdly powerful P.I. characters you read about or see in films? Yeah, that’s not Harry. He’s awkward. Like, seriously awkward. He’s absolutely terrible with women—as in talking to them about anything vaguely romantic or sexual, or noticing when they find him attractive. He’s completely dense about the fairer sex and it takes him ages to get over his instinctive ‘gentlemanly’ schtick as he starts to realize the bad guys are exploiting his nice guy nature. He is also underpaid, underfed, and an unrepentant dork of the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars variety. Harry Dresden is not the ideal man you’d think of when you think ‘bestselling urban fantasy main character.’

And that’s why he works.

Harry Dresden is the kind of guy you’d meet, aside from being a wizard. This is where the ‘write honestly’ part comes in. Harry, to me, is someone you could run into at some point in your life—someone who is modest and genuinely nice but also is a complete smartass to make up for his lack of self-confidence. He’s self-sacrificing to a fault, and he has real internal struggles that make him so very easy to understand and root for. He spends much of the series simply trying to survive in this world of nasty supernatural beasties, and the reason why he’s so popular is because he’s an atypical protagonist. Urban fantasy tends to have confident, sexy, alpha male characters, and while Harry has a small streak of alpha male in him, that’s not who he is. He is perfectly happy blending into the background and supporting his friends and family whenever possible. He doesn’t run around looking for trouble.

Authenticity can be one of the most powerful weapons for a writer. Sure, it’s nice to read about a badass character who is the kind of person we all wish we were, but I think the reason the Dresden Files series is so successful is because Jim Butcher chose another direction entirely. Harry feels genuine. He feels like an honest character, someone you could bump into at a bookstore or at a Burger King (which is far more likely). I think they will stand the test of time much longer than the sensationalized ones that hit mega-fame for just being attractive or brazen.

Support your main character with the best and brightest. If for some insane reason you don’t immediately fall in love with Harry like I did, there’s good news. Harry’s friends (and later family) are some of the best written characters out there. You can’t spit without hitting an awesome supporting character in the Dresden Files (who will consequently kick your ass for spitting on them). You’ve got Karrin Murphy, Harry’s best friend (and girlfriend-in-denial), a Chicago detective; Thomas Raith, a White Court vampire and Harry’s casual acquaintance who later becomes more (don’t wanna spoil it, it’s worth the reveal); Waldo Butters, a coroner and part-time unofficial physician when Harry’s dumb lanky ass gets hurt; Michael Carpenter, a Knight of the Cross armed with an archangel’s sword; Molly Carpenter, Harry’s apprentice who is a Perky Goth with a bit of a crush on her mentor; and Bob the Skull, an air spirit of infinite knowledge who is British and also a total pervert. Those are just the main supporting protagonists. I’m not even naming other recurring characters and the long, long list of Harry’s enemies.

The thing that’s so great about these characters is that their lives don’t revolve around Harry, which is something that a lot of other authors make mistakes with on occasion. Harry usually tries to keep to himself, but he’s such a great and lovable guy that he attracts other people to him naturally. He’d rather stab himself in the groin than endanger his loved ones, but the good thing is, his friends all know he’s like that and ignore him and help him out anyway. They have their own set of personality traits and flaws and agendas, and they all work towards keeping Harry alive and kicking, but they also aren’t afraid to keep him in check. As the series progresses, Harry comes into his own and gathers quite a bit of power and abilities, and his friends are very aware that power corrupts. He’s a good man and always has been, but he’s also quite oblivious to things around him that change him unconsciously.

Writing great supporting characters is tough. One can tend to get laser-focused on the main lead and forget that other people have their own lives too, and the Dresden Files is one of those rare series that remembers that we are only seeing pieces of the tapestry. You have to step back to appreciate the whole thing, and each character is like a new color on that tapestry. If you just have white and black, you might not get that big of a crowd, but if you’ve chosen your colors well, then your chances of making it into a galleria are far better.

The main character is not Jesus. What I mean by ‘Jesus’ is that he or she is not going to be perfect, and if they are, you’d better knock them off that pedestal stat. As I mentioned in my first point, Harry is awkward and starts off with this archaic issue of always having to save or protect women he meets, but there are deeper issues inside him as well. It takes a bit to get him riled up, but Harry’s temper definitely gets him into a lot of trouble, and he is fiercely protective of women and children even after he gets over his chivalry problems. His enemies have noted how Harry can get if you push the right buttons, and he is far less pragmatic when he’s angry than when he’s calm.

Anyone who actually has read the Dresden Files knows what I’m getting at. The main reason I decided to write this blog post was to discuss the idea that your main character, at some point in your storyline, needs to screw up royally and ruin everything. And boy, does Harry do that in Changes, and then some.

I won’t reveal what Harry does, but let me just say that the ending to Changes was so traumatic that I (a) literally SLAPPED the book after I was done reading it (b) I was so affected by Harry’s choices that I couldn’t even pick up the next book and read it for two whole months (c) I tried to read the next book and couldn’t because I was still too upset and (d) I skipped to Cold Days just to alleviate my pain. While it was hell for me, this is exactly what should have happened.

I love Harry. I love him more than I loved a book character in my entire life. And he does something so stupid that I had to take a break from my beloved wizard to deal with it. I’ve never had such a strong reaction to a book before, and it took me a while to realize it wasn’t a bad thing. As an author, I want my readers to love my characters and want the best for them, but it’s also important to frustrate your readers and cause them to be at odds with the main character if you want to do more than simply entertain them. I think successful long-running series are the ones that get beneath your skin, and nothing does that better than seeing your favorite character do something that ruins their own life, especially if it’s because they had no choice. Harry didn’t have much of a choice for what he does in Changes, and that’s why it was a gamble. I’m sure a lot of readers couldn’t take that amount of pain and decided to quit. It was by far the most controversial ending in the series’ run. But, in my opinion, it was worth it for the pay off.

If you’ve read She Who Fights Monsters, you’ll see that I subscribe heartily to the ‘your character is not Jesus’ mentality. Jordan Amador is a flawed woman and she makes some seriously questionable decisions that will (and already have) piss off readers. The tricky part is making your readers have an emotion, even a negative one, but not pushing them to the point where they give up. Inevitably, some of them will, and that’s sad, but it’s also the risk you must take in order to grow. If you keep your character in a safe little bubble-wrapped box, they can’t grow. They will never grow unless you let all the bad stuff in to force them to toughen up and learn a lesson and become better. I think an author needs to be sadistic at least once in their series (and I literally told Jim Butcher as much when I met him, and he guffawed and gave me an evil smile and a facetious, “Oh, I’m sorry!”) in order to make a character to last through the ages.

I’ve gone on pretty long about this series, so let me simply say this: the Dresden Files is an incredible run with a character who is too lovable for words, but what one should take away from this is that it has a little bit of everything: laughter, heart-wrenching sorrow, action, adventure, mystery, and horror. For me, this series is the first that I’ve read that has an actual soul. It wasn’t written to make a quick buck. It was real and solid and you can feel it when you’re reading any one of the many books. I can’t recommend it hard enough, to be honest, because it’s what I consider to be a game-changer. If you want to learn more about good writing and taking risks, give it a read.

Parkour, bitch.