One of My Biggest Literary Pet Peeves Done Right

Those of you who know me in person, or know me a little better than just reading my blog from time to time, know that I’m pretty picky. This goes for books too. For example, I really love mystery/suspense/thrillers, but I really HATE (with the flames of a thousand campfires) when the main character/investigator is a civilian/layperson without even the tiniest bit of tangential experience. I’m talking about major crimes and conspiracies that are solved by bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers. And it’s not like the bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers are taking evening or online classes in law or criminology. No, they go home and watch The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones like the rest of us.

So, to sum up, I hate those novels.

However…I just finished reading Sister by Rosamund Lupton. And it was amazing. It was definitely the second best book I’ve read this year and probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. Period. And guess what? The main character, Beatrice, “investigates” her sister’s disappearance/murder and she isn’t a detective, a lawyer, or even one of those plucky reporters. In fact, she worked for a business design company, creating logos and ad copy. Why didn’t throw my Kindle across the room and take a long walk to calm my rage? Well, for one the Kindle was a gift from Hubby-pants a few years ago, but I mostly didn’t rage out because I LOVED the way the book was written. It was Beatrice’s love for and intimate knowledge of her sister that propelled her and kept her from accepting the police’s version of events. The characterization was done so well that I never questioned her lack of experience. I mean, she suspected everyone in the whole book! She looked crazy in the process! She never gave up though. And that’s what made it believable. Add in the fact that it’s formatted as though Beatrice is writing a letter to her lost sister, recapping the events that led to her finding the killer, and there’s so much to love about this story. I highly recommend you give it a read. I stumbled across it when my local library suggested it because I’d enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and they were spot on.

So, readers, do you have any literary pet peeves with exceptions? Any novels that, though they exhibit something you normally hate in a book, you ended up enjoying the novel anyway? I’d love to hear about them!

The First Review of BLOOD IN THE PAINT is IN!!!

It has barely been a week since I sent out the ARCs of Blood in the Paint, but I’ve already received my first review. I am very thankful to Peter “Peppa” Germany for his support, his enthusiasm, and his friendship (which, by the way, he goes out of his way to mention didn’t have any bearing on his review!).

Here are some of the highpoints:

I’ve been waiting for this novel since I read it’s prequel, Blood In The Past (

Now you don’t have to read the prequel novella before reading Blood In The Paint but I would recommend it. As I read Blood In The Paint I did have some moments when I said ‘Oh Sh*T!’ because I recognised something from the prequel.

Blood In The Paint is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I knocked this novel out in five days or so, I would have read it quicker but I’m a slow reader and I needed sleep. As I read through the pages I was getting more and more sucked into it, each page demanded that I turn it and when I got to the end of a chapter I couldn’t scroll the screen down quick enough to continue with the story.

The characters have a strong depth to them which is clear from the start of the novel but as you progress through it that depth is revelled and fleshed out even more. Jordanna East is not afraid to push her characters and she was able to pull me into it to the point where, despite my manliness (LMAO!), I got chocked up near the end of the novel. It takes a lot to get that sort of reaction out of me when I’m reading a book so that did impress me.


Although I am sorry that I made him cry, I’m utterly touched at how he continues to find my work “impressive.” To read more of Peter “Peppa” Germany’s review, click HERE.

And don’t forget, Blood in the Paint will be released on March 31st!

BLOOD IN THE PAINT: The Opening Scene!

I’m really trying to get my head out of my depressed, insecure, creative-person ass. I’m trying to get excited about Blood in the Paint‘s upcoming release. I am. I am excited. If I keep saying it, it will become true, right?

All that matters, though, is that you lovely readers are excited. Lucky for me, it seems like you are. I’ve been getting some great responses to the ARCs that were sent out, the exclusive excerpts my mailing list subscribers received, and my most recent blog post where I listed the meanings behind some of the chapter titles. So, in the spirit of keeping the warm and fuzzies rolling, here’s the opening scene:

BLOOD IS RED, but she always wore purple. Each time Lyla Kyle donned her eggplant-colored clothes it was because the memory persisted: the memory of herself, kneeling on the floor of her parents’ bedroom, cradling her mother’s limp body. The blood had seeped into her blue shirt, staining the fabric a ruddy purple. Her mother’s life had bled out and gone, from an act of despair almost exactly a decade ago.

The image kept Lyla strong. It enabled her to channel her rage. Anything to make you proud, Mom.

Over the years, Lyla had learned to prepare for death in the same way one would prepare for a date. She would apply her makeup and affix every hair in place, knowing her looks had to be every bit as lethal as her intentions.

The upcoming evening’s festivities would play on a loop in Lyla’s mind, making sure she remembered everything: lipstick, mini lint-roller, syringes, vials of a deadly chemical, breath mints . . . She loved being in control, savoring every moment.

Lyla had come to enjoy the hours leading up to her ultimate empowerment. The anticipation thrilled her almost as much as the act itself—and it was almost time to act. Almost time to plunge one of the syringes into her date’s neck.

Tingling at the thought, she shuddered, then she shooed her excitement away and reined her thoughts back in, returning them instead to the snug, overcrowded Philadelphia nightclub. Her next victim, the man sitting across from her at the high-standing cocktail table, nervously blabbed away, darting his hazel eyes in multiple directions seemingly all it once. He was shouting and yet she could barely hear him.

“I said, nice place you picked. What do you think of the music?”

Lyla just nodded along politely. She always chose popular nightclubs to meet up with her prey, where the patrons were too numerous to count and she and her “date” would never be more than just a couple of faces in a crowd of bodies, writhing in unison to the beat of the bass. It also didn’t hurt that the steamy atmosphere, teeming with sexual energy, helped move the night along quickly. The club would always be too crowded, the music would always be too loud, and after a few cocktails, she would always suggest something more intimate. Not because she wanted to converse with them more easily, not because she was interested in her victims’ lives, no. Only their demise, and the execution of her grand plan.

Execution. The term was somewhat appropriate, but not entirely accurate. After all, executions were meant to be painless and humane, and Lyla knew her dark little hobby was anything but. Then again, she thought, as she continued nodding along with whatever her date was saying, my weapon of choice is technically one of the chemicals used in lethal injections . . .

Lyla had justified her craft for years. She did so then, as the man across from her rambled on about the unseasonably cool August weather, and she suppressed a sneer. Men proved to be good-for-nothing charlatans. They were primitive. They were relentless and lived for nothing more than the next conquest, whether it be climbing the social and corporate ladders or bedding the next beautiful woman to strut across their path. Lyla supposed to her date she was the latter—which made her tactic all the easier.

Killing invigorated her. She had found her calling, however dark it was. And dark it was on this cool Friday evening in August as she chatted with a poor, unsuspecting man named Alex.

As he spoke incessantly, the vein in his neck bobbled, and Lyla Kyle was ready to feel invigorated again.


Blood in the Paint Cover

Blood in the Paint. New Official Release Date: March 31, 2014

Jerks & Irks LIX: E-Book Extras?

Last week, I posted several reasons for loving my Kindle. Were any of you wondering if there was anything I didn’t love about my Kindle? Because there’s one tiny thing. Well, I’m assuming it’s a tiny thing because I’ve never heard anyone else complain about it.

What am I rambling about? Allow me to paint a picture for you. I am about to start a new book. I pick one from the TBR list I keep on my phone. I search for the title in my Kindle’s library. I click on the novel I want to read and my Kindle opens to…the first page of the first chapter.

That just drives me batty, guys.

I wanna read the fore-matter, dammit!

I wanna see the cover art again! Especially if it was particularly eye-catching.

I wanna read the list of other books by the author! What if there’s something I’ve heard of, but hadn’t attributed to the author? What if I fall in love with the book and want to read more by the author? Wouldn’t it be helpful to think, “Oh, there’s that list at the front of the book that I can look over!”

I wanna see who the author deemed worthy enough to dedicate the book to! In our current society, where we can follow authors on Facebook and Twitter and get to know them intimately, why wouldn’t I want another peek into the author’s life? Why wouldn’t I want to know who inspires and drives their creativity?

I wanna see the Table of Contents! I want to know how many chapters I’m getting into and what’s waiting for me at the end of my read. An epilogue? A bio? What???

I wanna see any other extras the author decided to include. An introduction or an epigraph, perhaps. These things set the tone for the novel. Don’t deprive me of that!

Why are you robbing me of these things, Kindle? WHY?

Am I crazy? Does anyone else feel this way? Am I the only one who sees the first page of the first chapter pop up, sucks her teeth, and rapidly swipes backward to see everything I missed? Even the damn copyright page? Tell me I’m not alone, guys!


Lyla Kyle & Me

Yesterday, I posted the final installment in a series of character profiles from my upcoming novella, Blood in the Past. This week’s focus is on my main character, Lyla Kyle. I didn’t tell you squat about her, did I? Hmm. Well, I guess I can tell you that her story begins with her discovering her mother’s dead body. Something within in her snaps. She blames her father, thinking his careless indiscretions finally took their toll on her mother. Suddenly, Lyla’s no longer daddy’s little girl. Uh oh.

Now, I like to think as authors we all give our characters snippets of our own personalities. I’m not saying I’m a revengeful, temptress/serial killer, but there are a few similarities.

  • I gave her olive skin and dark hair, in my likeness. Although, I regretfully admit that Lyla is taller and skinnier than me. Oh well.
  • Lyla started out in science, then turned to art. Specifically, she was Pre-Med, then a surgical resident. After her mother died, she quit her last year of residency and turned to painting and sculpture, something that filled the void of her loss. She eventually does some…interesting things with that art, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. Myself, I started as a Design Major, then switched to a Biology Major. Now I find myself reverting back to my creative side.
  • Lyla is more of a loner, just like me. That doesn’t mean people don’t still gravitate toward her. Especially her male friend, CJ. (I might do a profile post of all the supporting characters, so you’ll learn about him later).
  • In the full-length novel, Blood in the Paint (coming later this year), the reality of not having either parent in her life really hits home for Lyla. Both of my parents are deceased, so my own feelings really shine through there.
  • Lyla holds SERIOUS grudges. So do I. But, thankfully, I’m not a psychopath. 🙂

Now it’s time to enjoy some Lyla-ness, on the house!

Lyla bent each leg and thoroughly dried the soles of her sneakers on her pants legs. Without squeaking wet shoes, she tiptoed through the kitchen, down to the basement, pausing to grab a candle from the emergency kit at the top of the stairs. The circuit breakers in the old house were notorious for their fickle nature, so she switched off the main breaker in the fuse box, drowning the house in complete darkness. Lyla paused in the spot where she’d overheard her aunt’s suspicions only days ago. With her ear toward the ceiling and the house above, she strained to hear any indication of her father’s stirring over the din of rain pelting against the house. She heard nothing, so she removed the hypodermic needle from her over-sized bag, almost sticking herself as she fumbled for it blindly. “Here I come, Daddy,” she said in a sing-song whisper, creeping back up the stairs.

Why Lyla Kyle? A Character Focus

On Thursdays and Fridays this month, I’ll be posting about the characters in my upcoming novella, Blood in the Past. Hopefully this will lead up to the cover reveal and the end-of-May-release, but I’m not a fortune-teller. Here’s hoping…

This particular pic of Catherine Zeta-Jones couldn't be a more perfect Lyla.

This particular pic of Catherine Zeta-Jones couldn’t be a more perfect Lyla.

This week’s character is Lyla Kyle. She is my main-MAIN character. My antagonist/protagonist (depending on who the reader decides to root for). Lyla’s is the third story told in Blood in the Past. How did I choose her name? Honestly, Season 2 of Dexter was fresh in my mind and the antagonist of that season was named Lila (I just found out it was spelled differently from my character a second ago when I checked IMDB). I loved that name. So I started writing a character profile. I decided she would be psychologically damaged by something that happened with her parents. Infidelity with grave consequences. As a result, she would start seducing married men and killing them. The name “Delilah” came to mind. Biblically: a betrayer. Definition: seductive and wily temptress. PERFECT, right? But “Delilah” was a little too perfect. So I shortened the name to Lyla. And threw in that “y” for fun. I don’t have any fun anecdotes for her last name. Lyla Kyle just came to me and rolled of the tongue nicely.

Last week we learned about Jason Brighthouse Jr. The week before that we had a peek at Jillian Atford. Where does Lyla Kyle fit in? EVERYWHERE. She’s tied to the BOTH of them! How? I can’t tell you that. Sorry. All I can say is consequences, consequences, consequences. You guys are really gonna wanna read Blood in the Past. It’ll answer all these burning questions you have!


Jason Brighthouse & Me

Yesterday I posted the second in a series of character profiles from my upcoming novella, Blood in the Past. This week’s focus is on Jason Brighthouse Jr, a grief-stricken young man and soon-to-be-cop trying to fill his father’s shoes. I like to think as authors we all give our characters snippets of our own personalities. I’m not saying I’m an over-ambitious cop, but there are a few similarities.

  • Brighthouse lost his father and almost couldn’t put the pieces of his life back together. The situations between his loss and my own are different, of course, but I’m sure the grief is pretty similar.
  • In his youth, Brighthouse makes rash decisions. Don’t worry, he outgrows this in the full-length novel, Blood in the Paint, and I’ve already outgrown it. Well, we’ve sort of outgrown it…
  • Sometimes his rash decisions are just a product of his good instincts. When Hubby-pants and I watch TV and movies and I say right off the bat that I don’t like a character, 9 times out of 10, that character is the bad guy. We joke that in an end-of-the-world situation, I’m allowed to shoot anyone I don’t like. We’ll save ourselves a lot of trouble that way. For the most part, Brighthouse doesn’t go around shooting people without evidence later in the series. But nobody said anything about arresting them…
  • Brighthouse overcomes a great moment of weakness, the ramifications of which he’ll deal with for the rest of his life, in secret. Again, different situations, same emotions.

Ready for a smidgen of Brighthouse-ness? Here ya go:

He turned to leave, but a sharp thwack startled him, followed by the scattering of broken glass. Jason knew the source without turning around; next to the wedding picture his mother stared at stood another framed photo of a recent family camping trip. In the photo his father tended to a roaring, red fire. Jason turned to find the picture gone from the mantle, as he expected. He shifted his gaze to his mother. The image had overwhelmed her. He understood. Even the mere memory of the photo stirred emotions within him, as he was unwilling to associate his father with any kind of fire anymore. Despite empathizing with his mother, he resisted the urge to support her and left, trekking upstairs and harping on the last conversation he and his father had.

Why Jason Brighthouse? A Character Profile

On Thursdays and Fridays this month, I’ll be posting about the characters in my upcoming novella, Blood in the Past. Hopefully this will lead up to the cover reveal and the end-of-May-release, but I’m not a fortune-teller. Here’s hoping…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt would make a perfect Jason Brighthouse Jr.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt would make a perfect Jason Brighthouse Jr.

This week’s character is Jason Brighthouse Jr. His is the second story told in Blood in the Past. How did I choose his name? Hmmm. I knew I wanted him to be ambitious, intelligent, with great instincts. I wanted him to shed light on cases that stumped other cops. I wanted his name to reflect these traits. I decided on Brighthouse as his last name. Why the last name before the first name? Because cops are usually addressed by their surnames. As for his first name, Jason was the leader of the Argonauts in Greek Mythology. Who better to have as your lead investigator, right? And yes, he’s a junior. He takes after his father in more ways than just sharing a name. Tragic story, really. You’ll see.

Last week we learned about Jillian Atford, the psychologist and former foster child who just wants to be loved–at whatever cost. How does Brighthouse fit in? Well, in my full-length novel, Blood in the Paint, he first meets Jillian after an off-duty officer-involved shooting, when he’s mandated to see Jillian before he can return to active duty. What he doesn’t know, is Jillian’s actions years ago may have affected his own life in a very major way. How? You’ll have to find out by reading Jillian and Jason’s stories in my upcoming novella, Blood in the Past. (You had to have known that was coming.)

Jillian Atford and Me

Yesterday I posted the first in a series of character profiles from my upcoming novella, Blood in the Past. This week’s focus is on Jillian Atford, psychology grad student by day, obsessive crazy-person by night. I like to think as authors we all give our characters snippets of our own personalities. I’m not saying I’m a ‘crazy-person by night,’  but there are a few similarities.

  • Jillian was mugged. Most of that scene is based on my own experience. Also, she comments to her roommate, “It’s going to be hard to walk with someone behind you for a while, but you’ll get over it.” I still haven’t gotten over it.
  • Jillian fidgets with her hands when she’s nervous. So do I. And I twirl and braid my hair, too.
  • Jillian has few people she can confide in. I only really talk to Hubby-pants. To the rest of the people who know me, I’m a glacier, so much is beneath the surface.
  • Jillian moved around a lot as a child, as did I. But I was not a foster child.
  • Jillian majored in Psychology in order to find out why people do the things they do. That’s the exact reason why I minored in it.

Ready for a Jillian-laden excerpt? Here we go:

The diamond-studded ceiling above them gleamed with the display of the stars and planets visible from this exact point on Earth, during this exact time of year. The generous air-conditioning [of the Planetarium] sent a crawling shiver over Jillian’s bare arms. Calvin noticed and curled an arm around her. What am I doing here, she wondered, suddenly glad she sat to his right, his wedding ring out of sight for the moment. This was their first date and Jillian had no idea how to feel. The way he looked at her, listened to her. She admitted the feeling of being wanted flustered her. She had gone unwanted for far too long, her entire life even. Her father left her pregnant mother. Her mother left her as an infant. Not to mention every household thereafter. Don’t I deserve this?



Why Jillian Atford? A Character Study

On Thursdays and Fridays this month, I’ll be posting about the characters in my upcoming novella, Blood in the Past. Hopefully this will lead up to the cover reveal and the end-of-april-release, but I’m not a fortune-teller. Here’s hoping…

I'd cast Gabrielle Union as Jillian. Check out other inspiration images at

I’d cast Gabrielle Union as Jillian.

The first character I’m going to chat about is Jillian Atford. Hers is the opening story told in Blood in the Past. How did I choose her name? That’s easy. ‘Jillian’ was the first name of my childhood best friend. When I started writing the first full-length novel of the series, Blood in the Paint, I named a character after her and she was also the first to read the chapters I’d written. Boy, was she was objective! But more on real-life Jillian’s comments later, in the post pertaining to Lyla, my main character.

That was years ago. Sadly, in 2009, real-life Jillian and I had a falling out. We never spoke again. Then she died in December 2011. I was devastated. All the things that were never said, the hatchet that was never buried, the water that never ran peacefully under the bridge. I still dream about her. That’s why in January 2012, I decided to finish Blood in the Paint and pursue a writing career head-on.

There are many similarities between real-life Jillian and character-Jillian. Physically, they are both tall, brown-skinned women. I originally had them both going to the same college (Hampton University), but had to alter that due to a plot problem. The artwork in Jillian’s office is patterned after that found in the home of real-life Jillian’s parents. Additionally, and I’m not sure if real-life Jillian would approve of this part, character-Jillian had an affair with a married man. Yikes!

In Blood in the Past, Jillian is a young graduate student, majoring in Clinical Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. She was a foster child, so she is damaged and without strong personal relationships. When a married police officer shows her a little attention, she’s confused at first, caught in the turmoil between what’s wrong and what’s right. But eventually the fact the someone who already has a family, but still wants her, wins over Jillian’s conscience. As a foster child, she never had that–and she doesn’t want to let it go.

Learn more tomorrow!