Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013 Blog Hop

Happy New Year, everyone!
This hop runs from January 1st to the 7th.
Thanks to I Am a Reader Not a Writer and Babs Book Bistro for hosting.

Win a signed copy of Blood and Bone

The deeper they dig into the past, the closer they come to a killer.
Crime writer Shayne Reynolds is looking for the next book that’ll get her out of her parents’ basement and on track to rebuilding her life. She’s found it in Robert Anderson, a confessed murderer who’s out on parole. Something’s never added up about that case.

From the moment she sets foot in Dark Water, nothing goes as planned. Anderson’s family wants her to drop the story—especially surviving son Des. A man who ignites sizzling heat even as he stands firmly in her way.

Laboring under his father’s crushing legacy and his grandmother’s iron resolve to get rid of the nosy writer at any cost, Des struggles to save the self-destructive sister who once saved him. There’s something honest and forthright about Shayne, though, that tempts him to help her get to the truth. Even if it means double-crossing his powerful grandmother.

Despite their resolve to keep it strictly business, sexual sparks quickly set fire to tangled emotions. And threads of a fragile bond that someone with a vendetta could use to weave their death shroud…

To Win follow me on my Facebook Fan Page  or on Goodreads and leave a comment. Remember to leave an email adress so I can contact the winner. Good luck!

Five Dos and Don'ts for Goal Setting

Before I get into today's blog I want to announce the winner for the Free Fiction Friday. Congrats Chrissie Brewer! You've won a signed copy of Blood and Bone. Please leave your email address in the comments and so I can get your information and send out your book ASAP.

I'll be giving away another copy at the end of January for anyone who leaves a comment on Friday's posts of Bait. The more you comment, the better your odds of winning.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. :-)

So it's the last day of the year. The new year is stretched out before us like a fresh blanket of fallen snow--untouched and perfect--and we are full of promises, resolutions and good intentions. Every year I make a list of goals that I want achieve over the next twelve months, some years I'm more successful than others. So here is a list of five Dos and Don'ts that have worked for me

1. Do Set Attainable Goals

This seems obvious. If you set goals that there isn't a hope in hell of attaining, you'll wind up discouraged pretty quick. Know your limitations and compare how you much you produced last year. If you barely managed one manuscript last year, committing to writing six next year probably isn't going to happen. If you have a demanding day job and family obligations, really consider how much time you can commit to writing, or promoting daily. Then set a goal that you think you can achieve.

2. Do Set Specific Goals and the Steps to Attaining Them

I'm going to write more this year--not a great goal. I'm going to complete two books this year by writing 1,000 or 2,000 or 5,000 words a day (see above before deciding)--a better goal. The same goes for promotion or blogging. Come up with a step by step plan, crossing off each step as you complete them.

3. Don't be Afraid to Revise Goals Over the Course of the Year

Twelve months is a long time and a lot can happen over year, priorities change. Books sell or release and your attention may be diverted from one project to another. What was important in January may not be in July. Try setting monthly or quarterly goals instead of trying to plan for the entire year.

4. Review Your Goals Frequently

Your goals are your plan, or a map, getting you from the beginning of the year to the end. Keep them posted somewhere you can see them or access them easily to make sure you're still on track.

5. Don't Get Hung Up on the Goals You Miss

Like I said, what's important at the beginning of the year may not be towards the end. Besides, there's always next year.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!!  

Friday, December 28, 2012

Free Fiction Friday - Bait Part IV

Oops, I'm off to a late start today. I'm well into holiday mode, I think. I hope everyone had a nice Christmas.

Just a quick reminder that I'll be drawing for a signed copy of Blood and Bone on Monday. All you have to do is leave a comment to enter.

In the meantime, enjoy.

Copyright © 2012 Dawn Brown
Part IV
            Ella watched the detective’s eyes narrow, but he didn’t say anything for a long moment. Probably trying to decide if she was lying or not. Let him wonder. She didn’t care what he thought of her so long as he didn’t get in her way.
            “Let me get this straight.” Andy leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. “You plan to get the man to admit to foul play by having dinner with him?”
            The mix incredulous humor and disgust in his tone made the hair at the back of her neck bristle. “Dinner is just the beginning. You’ve heard the expression keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, I intend to do just that.”
            The mirth vanished from his expression. His golden eyes bored into her, as if seeing the secrets she kept hidden. She struggled not to look away.  “If having dinner is just the beginning,” his voice was quiet, but with an edge like sheered metal, “just how far are you willing to go? Would you sleep with the man?”
            Her stomach gave a sharp twist. The skin on her cheek still crawled with the memory of his lips on her cheek. God, she hoped not. For her plan to truly succeed, she needed Luke to trust her enough to get him alone. And she would do whatever it took for that to happen.
            “I won’t come to that,” she told him with more confidence than she felt.
             “So you think that if you get close to him, he’ll just tell you what you want to know?”
            That mild disgust had returned to his voice, as if he were speaking to a complete idiot. For the past year he’d barely spoken ten words to her. Too bad he couldn’t have kept it that way. Sullen and silent had to be better than mocking and hostile. Though in fairness, she hadn’t told him her plan in its entirety, and without the final stages it did sound kind of dumb.
            “If I can get close to him, I might find something that will tell me what happened to Phoebe. I can’t stand by and do nothing anymore, Detective.”
            “Andy. My name is Andy. You have to let us do our job.” He took a step toward her, something dangerously close to sympathy softening his features.
She’d rather deal with his sneer than his pity.
            “Then do it,” she snapped.
            His face hardened, and some of her tension eased.  “I understand your frustration—”
            Anger flashed through her. He understood? Not likely. How could he? Did he lie in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering what hells the person he loved most in the world had suffered? Might still be suffering? Did the images cloud his imagination, turning his stomach and driving him into the bathroom to retch and dry heave? Did he live with ever present fear that the only person who meant a damn thing to him was dead and he was completely alone in the world?
            “You don’t have clue,” she said, hating the emotion clogging her throat and turning her voice thick. “My sister vanished. Every moment of every day I’m left wondering where she is, what happened to her. Not knowing is eating me alive. You want to know how far I’ll go with Luke to get the truth?”
            He didn’t answer, just watched her stonily.
            “I’ll go as far as I have to. I’ll do whatever it takes. If I have to strip naked and crawl on broken glass, begging him for the truth I will.” But it wouldn’t come to that. By the time she was done with Luke, he’d be the one begging. “Can you understand that, Andy?
            He didn’t answer, but started toward her, closing the distance in two strides. She barely had a time to react as his hands, big and warm, cupped her cheeks and his mouth closed over hers.
            His lips were firm and strong as his mouth drew on hers. She acted on instinct, responding to his touch. She opened her mouth, accepting his invading tongue, letting hers slide along his. He smelled of the cold and snow, tasted faintly of mint. Her fingers curled into the fabric of his rumpled shirt.
            Somewhere deep in subconscious she knew this was wrong, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. She needed human contact. After pushing through the past year alone, she craved it like a junkie craving a fix.
            The shrill electronic pulse from her phone cut through the quiet.
            She jerked back from Andy, and those rich, golden eyes held hers. The frantic thud of her heart echoed inside her ears. The phone continued to ring, but she didn’t move. She couldn’t. She stood staring as if caught in a thrall.
What had she done? Her lips still tingled where he’d kissed her. Need still ached low inside her.
            She turned away and snatched up the cordless phone from the side table.
            “Hello,” she said.
            “Ella?” Luke asked, his tone unsure. And why not? Her voice sounded oddly husky even to her.
            She cleared her throat. “Yes, Luke, it’s me.”
            “Oh, you sounded strange when you picked up.”
            Sorry about that. You caught me at a bad time. I was just making out with the detective investigating Pheobe’s disappearance who I don’t particularly like. Her face turned hot and she kept her back to the man in question so he wouldn’t see. “I’m fine. Is there something you wanted?”
            “Yes,” he said. “I have a question for you, and I hope I don’t sound too forward.”
            Her heart accelerated, this time having nothing to do with Andy. “What’s that?”
            “I’m planning to spend Christmas at the chalet this year, and wondered, since I’m on my own and you’re on your own, maybe you’d like to join me.”
            Her mouth had gone dry and she had to swallow hard before she could speak. “I would like that very much.”
            “Great. I’m sure Phoebe would be happy to know that we’ve become friends.”
            Yeah, right. “I think so too.”
            “Why don’t you drive up on the twenty-fourth and spend the night.”
            “That sounds wonderful. I’ll see you then.”
            They said good-bye and she hung up, a darkness falling over her like a shroud. This Christmas she would finally get what she wanted, and Luke would be the one to give it to her.
            “Who was that?” Andy’s voice broke into her thoughts. She’d nearly forgotten he was there.
            “I was just finalizing my plans for Christmas.” She turned and faced him, meeting his narrowed gaze. “I trust I’ve answered all your questions to your satisfaction.”
            He nodded slowly, those eyes never leaving her face. When he looked at her like that, she could easily believe that he could see inside her, read her thoughts, know her every dark secret.            “Then you should probably be on your way. Would you like to call for a taxi?”
            After a short phone call, he scooped his coat from the couch and pulled it on. She walked him to the door, but before he stepped out into the hall he stopped.
Don’t do anything stupid, Ella.”

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve day and I'm actually fairly organized. I may run out to the store this afternoon for a couple of stocking stuffers, but aside from that I'm all set. Pretty impressive when as of Thursday I hadn't even started shopping. Yup, I'm one of those last minute people. I do however have a ridiculous amount of wrapping to do.

Tonight, I will visit family that I won't be seeing tomorrow, exchange gifts, then it's home to watch A Christmas Carol--A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve has been a tradition since I was old enough to stay up to watch it.

Since it's Christmas, I'm giving away The Witch's Stone today and tomorrow over at Amazon. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Free Fiction Friday - Bait Part Three

Happy Friday folks! Sorry I haven't been posting this week. I was down with the flu, then busy wrapping up work at the day job before the holidays. The good news is I'm done with both.

Here's the next installment for Bait. Remember to leave a comment to be entered in a draw for a print copy of Blood and Bone at the end of the month.

Copyright © 2012 Dawn Brown
Part III


            Andy followed Ella up three flights stairs to the landing outside her apartment’s door, all the while struggling to ignore the soft sway of her hips as she climbed. Her long, heavy coat hid all but the mere outline of her figure, but he’d seen her shape before and thought of her often since Charlotte left.

            What an ass he’d been. His attraction to Ella Martin had been instant and intense, leaving him like bumbling idiot. Whenever dealing with her, he let Pete do the talking for fear of saying something stupid when he opened his mouth—like asking her out. Ella didn’t look like the type to date cops. Besides, Charlotte leaving him for his brother had torn a gash in almost all aspects of his personal life. He didn’t dare do anything to upset the delicate balance of his work life too.

            Andy jammed his hands into his pockets and trailed Ella into her apartment. With her back to him, he could no longer see her expression, and that was a good thing. The wounded indignation only seemed to fan the anger rising in him like brush fire threatening to rage out of control.

            Why did finding her with Summers infuriate him so much? He should be pleased. He may have discovered a crack in the case.        

Come in detective.” Ella’s voice, cool and annoyed, cut into his thoughts.

            He moved through the shadowy darkness toward her outline. She bent forward, a dry click sounded in the quiet and soft light from the lamp next to the sofa filled the small sitting room.

            Ella straightened and folded her arms over her chest. “I’d offer you coffee, but I doubt you’ll be here long enough for it to brew.”

 She didn’t bother to take off her coat or ask him to sit down. She just stood where she was and waited.

            Let her wait. Andy moved further into the room, pretending to ignore her. He took in the pale green walls, the cream furnishings and wood tables as if seeing it all for the first time. It wasn’t, of course. He just wanted to give her a little time to stew. To wonder just what he’d ask. To worry about just how much he’d pieced together.

            “No Christmas decorations?” he asked, turning to watch her reaction.

            Her lips thinned into a straight line and her left foot tapped the hardwood. “I don’t feel much like celebrating this year.”

            He turned his back to her and continued his mock appraisal of her apartment. He didn’t feel much like celebrating this year either. The idea of sitting at his parents’ dining room table surrounded by his siblings and their husbands and wives while Charlotte and Ben made wedding plans left him cold.

            Shoving the thoughts away, he made his way to fireplace on the far wall. The mantel was cluttered with knick-knacks and candles and framed photo of Ella and Pheobe. He lifted the photo and studied it as he had the first time he’d come to this apartment. The two women in the picture were laughing and looking at each other rather than the camera. In the time he’d known Ella, he never seen that kind of natural smile, and he’d never seen her laugh. The first time he’d looked at the picture, he’d wondered if he found Phoebe alive, could he make Ella smile like that.

What a jack ass he was. She didn’t want her sister found. She wanted her sister’s husband. Hell, he supposed he should be grateful that Charlotte just left him for Ben, and that the two hadn’t tried to kill him.

He shrugged out of his coat and draped the battered leather over the arm of the sofa before dropping down onto the soft cushion. Ella’s eyes brightened, but she didn’t move.

“Ms. Martin,” he said on sigh. “Why not tell me exactly what you were doing having dinner with a man you believe is responsible for your sister’s disappearance?”

She levelled her gaze on his. “Fine. I had dinner with Luke tonight because I’m going to get close to him, then I’ll make him tell me what he did with my sister.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Fiction Friday: Bait Part II

It's Friday!! So here's part two of Bait. Hope you enjoy. Remember to leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of Blood and Bone. Leave a comment every Friday and increase your odds of winning.

Copyright © 2012 Dawn Brown
Part II


Even through Ella’s heavy coat, the weight of Luke’s touch pressed against her turning her stomach. The temptation to shrug away from him was nearly overwhelming, but she didn’t dare make a move that would leave him suspicious. She needed him to trust her if was ever going to find her way to the truth.

She tried to forget that it was a man she despised walking with her, focussing on the storefronts alight with twinkle lights and garland as they made their way along the slick sidewalk. She’d been forced to park nearly two blocks from the restaurant, and as she made her way to her car with Luke gallantly steering her through the throngs of harried shoppers, she wished she hadn’t accepted his offer to walk her. It had been hard enough being civil to him during the meal, but she wasn’t sure how much longer she could endure his touch no matter how casual.

“I’m glad we did this,” he said. “It’s nice to talk to someone who understands what I’m going through.”

I, me, my. God, all Luke talked about was himself. How in the hell could Phoebe stand to listen to him? Maybe she couldn’t, and that was why he… A shudder rippled down Ella’s spine. She didn’t know what Luke had done to her sister, didn’t know if Phoebe was alive or dead. And not knowing was devouring her inside.

Sure, on the surface she could look like she was still in control, still had it together. She could go to work every day and appear to function normally. But beneath the exterior she was slowly unraveling. She needed to know what happened to Phoebe before she lost her mind. 

She forced a smile. “Me too. I’m so sorry for what I said to the police.”

 There was actually a kernel of truth to her last statement. She was sorry she had to deal with the two bonehead detectives who’d been assigned to her sister’s case. The older one had been all placating assurances and no action, while the younger one just scribbled down everything she said in his notebook without saying a word. She might have thought he was mute if not for his occasional grunts when spoken to directly.

“I understand,” Luke said. “I’m sure Phoebe confided in you about the problems we’d been having, but I loved her. I never would have hurt her.”

Her fingers curled into a tight fist. Lies tumbled so smoothly from his lips, fanning the anger smoldering within her. She hated him like no one else she’d known.

“I know you wouldn’t. I’m glad we did this too. She and I only ever had each other. It’s nice to be with someone who feels her loss like I do.” He wasn’t the only one who could wrap bullshit in a pretty silver bow.

He rubbed a slow circle on her back and she stiffened before she could stop herself. He dropped his hand, and she mentally berated herself for her lack of control. She’d have to keep it together if she hoped to put him at ease long enough to get the truth out of him.

“Is this you?” he asked, as they approached the blue jeep parked at the side of the street. Cars drove past in a continuous procession, their tires hissing through the dirty, salt laden slush.

“Yes,” she nodded, stopping. She turned, forcing him to drop his hand, and offered him a tight smile. “Thank you for dinner.”

His pale blue eyes held hers and the corners of his mouth lifted. He was an attractive man. She understood why her sister had been drawn to him. Black hair, a little unruly from the wind, piercing eyes, a faint dimple in his left cheek when he smiled, and rich to boot, Phoebe had fallen for him like a ton of bricks. Phoebe had spent her life waiting for her prince to rescue her. Who knew he’d be the one she really needed rescued from?

Ella had.

Almost from the moment she met Luke, she hadn’t liked him. She hadn’t liked the way he’d criticized Phoebe or put her down, pretending he was kidding. Or the way her sister had begun deferring to him as though she no longer trusted her own judgement. Or the bruise that had appeared on Phoebe’s cheek two weeks before she’d vanished.

“My pleasure,” he murmured, leaning in and brushing his lips against her cheek.

Her stomach lurched. Oh God, she hoped the pasta dish she’d just forced down wouldn’t wind up splattered over his shoes. She held herself rigid, her skin crawling where he touched. She wanted to get home and into the shower, scrub herself raw where ever he’d made contact.

At last, he lifted his head. “Merry Christmas, Ella.”

“Merry Christmas to you.”

With shaking hands, she unlocked the driver’s side door and climbed inside. Luke waited on the sidewalk and gave her a quick wave before he turned and started back the way they’d come. She turned her key in the ignition, but kept her gaze on his back until the crowd swallowed him up.

“What am I doing? What am I doing? What am I doing?” she whispered, dropping her forehead to the steering wheel and squeezing her eyes shut. Hot tears seeped through her lids and spilled down her cold cheeks. Was she making a huge mistake? Should she just let the police do their job?

She might if they would.

Phoebe had been gone a year. One year as of November third, and the police were no closer to finding her now than they were when they found her abandoned car less than twenty minutes from the chalet she and Luke had shared in the mountains.

The clunk of the passenger door opening dragged Ella from her thoughts. She jumped and whipped her head up. The dome light overhead popped on, casting a faint yellow glow over a man sliding into the seat next her. A scream welled inside her throat. She grabbed the door handle ready to scramble out of the car, when he turned and rich whiskey colored eyes met hers.

“Detective Harlowe?” She couldn’t keep the confused disbelief from her voice. He’d barely spoken to her when he had to. So what the hell was he doing in the seat next to her?

“Enjoy your date Ms. Martin?” he sneered. The overhead light dimmed and darkness settled over them. 

Absently, she sniffed and wiped her wet cheeks with the heels of her hands. Date? What date? Luke. He must have seen her with Luke.

“It wasn’t a date,” she ground out.

“Really?” Derision dripped from his words. “You two looked quite cozy to me.”

Had he been watching her? Was Luke under surveillance? Maybe she was wrong. Maybe the police were going to get somewhere with her sister’s case after all.

“And to think, I actually bought into your concerned sister act. Really, an academy award winning performance you put on. If I hadn’t seen you just now with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.” Barely suppressed fury radiated from his tense frame.

She opened her mouth ready to explain why she’d agreed to dinner with Luke, but he cut her off.  “I know it’s been a year since you managed to get your sister out of the way, but the two of you should probably have kept away from each other a little longer, or chosen somewhere a little more discrete to meet. Hell, even cops Christmas shop.”

Waves of hurt and anger mixed with crushing disappointment washed over her. So much for any hope that the cops were doing something to find her sister. The corners of her eyes pricked with fresh tears, but she blinked them back. She’d be damned before she let this jack-ass see how much his words hurt.

“I don’t know what you think you saw,” she began.

“I saw a woman flirting with a man she’d been certain had played a major role in her sister’s disappearance. You know, Summers’s alibi is air tight, but maybe I need to take another look at yours.”

How ironic would it be for her plan to catch her brother-in-law to back fire, and for her to wind up suspect number one?  She wanted to laugh, she wanted to cry, but most of all she wanted to go home and stand under the hot spray of her shower while scrubbing the feel of Luke’s touch from her skin.

“Get out of my car,” she told him.

“I don’t think so. I want answers.”

“You haven’t asked me any questions.”

“Fine. Did you arrange for your sister’s disappearance so you could have her husband?”

If he’d hauled off and decked her, he couldn’t have hurt her more.  She swallowed hard before speaking. “No. Now, get out.”

She leaned across him, and reached for the door handle, but he caught her wrist in his hand, stopping her. Long callused fingers closed tight around her wrist, his grip firm but not painful—not yet.

“I’m not going anywhere until I know what you were doing with Summers just now.”

She sat back, jerking her arm from his grasp. His mouth had curved into a hard smirk. Fine, he could sit in her car all night for all she cared, but she was going home.

Without another word, she turned and started the car, but hesitated before pulling away from the curb, giving him a chance to get out on his own. He didn’t budge.

“What were you doing with Summers?”

“Having dinner,” she snapped.

            I don’t believe you.”

            She smiled tightly and turned to meet his gaze. “You saw me yourself.”

There was more going on at that table than sharing a meal, so why not tell me. Did you want him for yourself?” His bright, heated gazed raked the length of her. “Is that why you killed her? I just can’t figure out why you were so insistent that we go after Summers in the first place. To keep suspicion from falling on you?”

She hated that condescending sneer he wore, the icy loathing dripping from his tone. Who in the hell was he to judge her? If he had done his job in the first place, she wouldn’t be forced to bring down Luke herself.  “I wanted you to arrest him because he’s the only person who knows what happened to her.”

“I don’t believe that. Not after that sorry display.”

She ground her teeth so hard her jaw ached. “Frankly, I don’t care what you believe. Get out of my car, I’m going home.”

“I told you, I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what the hell you were doing with Luke Summers.”

She shrugged. “Fine. I’m going home. You can sleep in my car or hitch hike back to yours. I don’t care.”

After a quick peek in her mirror, she pulled out onto the street and started home. Harlowe didn’t so much as utter a word as he tugged the seatbelt over his shoulder and clicked it into place.

She kept her gaze fixed on the busy road ahead of her, doing her best to ignore the horrible man seated next to her. It wasn’t as easy as she hoped it would be. His scent, spicy and male, tickled her nose, and his presence seemed to fill the small space of her car with unseen energy, an electrical charge that tingled over her skin.

The first time she’d met him, she thought he wouldn’t have been bad looking were he not such an antisocial weirdo. He was tall, shoulders broad, body hard and lean. His clothes always looked rumpled and in need of a good iron. He wore his light brown hair spiked and a little messy, contributing to his overall dishevelled appearance. Fine lines creased the corners of his unusually colored eyes when he smiled—an expression she rarely saw when dealing with him—or sneered—an expression she was becoming only too familiar with.

As they left the down town core, the traffic thinned and the light from store fronts faded, heightening her sense of isolation and an unpleasant intimacy with the silent man seated next her. She wanted to get away from the detective nearly as badly as she’d wanted to get away from Luke, but for very different reasons.

By the time she pulled into the parking lot of three story walk up where she lived, the muscles in her shoulders and back was stiff. She didn’t look at Harlowe as she turned off the car, opened her door and stepped out into the frigid night.

Icy wind whipped her loose hair about her head and made her eyes water. She hurried across the lot toward the back entrance. The clunk of the passenger door slamming, followed by Harlowe’s hurried footsteps chased after.

            You’re not coming inside,” she told him, fumbling her key into the lock, but hesitating before she turned it. She didn’t need to look up to know he was standing next to her. His presence was practically tangible. If he were lost in a crown people, she would still know he was there.

            “Yeah, I am.”

            She gritted her teeth. “How did you plan on doing that? Forcing your way into my apartment?”

            “If I have to.”


            “You’ll what?” he asked, his voice thick with dark mirth “Call a cop?”

            “Even you aren’t above the law, detective. Surely, harassing people in their homes could lead to a reprimand at the very least.”

            He shrugged. “If you’d rather, I could bring you into the station to answer my questions.”

            “On what grounds?”

            “Suspicious behavior, Ms Martin. I find your actions extremely suspicious. So here are your options; we can go up to your apartment and you tell me what I want to know in the comfort of your living room, or you can tell me down at the station. Either way, you’ll give me want.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Destination Inspiration: Puzzle Pieces and Ghostly Hitchhikers

Ideas for books rarely come to me in one fully formed flash of story. Actually, I'm not sure I've ever had a full book pop into my head. Usually, it's a bunch of pieces--an idea for a character, an opening scene, a basic premise--eventually I have enough that I can put the pieces together and I have my book. And sometimes it's a matter of finding that last piece before I can finally sit down and write.

When I wrote Living Lies, I struggled finding that final piece. I had the story I was going to write in mind, my characters, but I just could not come up with the right opening. About the same time friends of ours had moved, and the hubster and I went to help them get settled in their new house. They'd moved outside the city and to get to their house we had to drive a stretch of nearly deserted highway. It was dark, snowy and we felt like we were the only car the road. And that final piece of the story popped into place.

Living Lies

Doing whatever it takes could get them both killed.
Twelve years after her sister’s disappearance, Haley Carling spends her days trying to hold what’s left of her family together, running her late father’s shop and caring for her alcoholic mother. Then her sister’s remains are uncovered in the basement of their old home, and fingers start pointing. At the Carlings.

Dean Lawson, long the prime suspect in the Carling girl’s disappearance, is sure he’s got evidence proving who the killer is. He’s determined to clear his name, and he won’t let anything stand in his way. Not even his lingering attraction to Haley.

Haley is just as determined to protect her family from the former town bad boy’s accusations. But now someone is stalking her, and Haley realizes Dean’s the only one she can trust.

With a killer closing in, Dean wonders if he’s made the biggest mistake of his life…a mistake that could cost Haley her life.

Product Warnings
This title contains a mystery to keep you turning the pages late into the night.

Copyright © 2008 Dawn BrownAll rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

“Hareton sits on the edge of the Snow Belt, that’s why the snow is so much heavier out this way.”

Sandra rolled her eyes, but said nothing. She couldn’t care less about the weather patterns of some middle-of-nowhere town. Her husband, Brian, was much too busy fiddling with the radio to notice.

Sighing, she turned her attention back to the front window. Not that there was much to see. Outside, small flakes of snow danced in the narrow beams of the SUV’s headlights. Occasionally, the yellow light of a house broke through the inky blackness and veil of falling snow. A welcome relief from the monotony.

A tall snowbank to her right suddenly loomed closer as the front of the SUV swerved dangerously toward the edge of the highway.

“Brian, the road!”

He jerked his head up and straightened the wheel.

“Can you please stop playing with the radio and drive?” she snapped.

“Sorry. I was trying to find the game. What’s with you? You’ve been miserable all night.”

“There’s nothing with me. I just have no desire to find myself flattened against a snowbank so you can get a hockey score.”

“Fine. But your attitude started long before now.”

He may have had a point. She’d been on edge since they turned onto this highway. It was probably just a combination of the weather and having gone nearly a half-hour without seeing another car. The isolation made her tense.

“What were Rhonda and Jimmy thinking when they moved out here?”

Brian grinned. “Low mortgage payments.”

“I guess. It just seems so far from civilization.”

“We’re forty-five minutes from home.”

“I know.” She sighed. “This weather is making me twitchy. I wish we had just stayed home.”

“If you don’t want to go to their housewarming, then why are we?”

“Because Jimmy and Rhonda are our friends, and it’s their first house. They want to show it off.”

“They’re your friends.”

“They’re your friends too…” Her words trailed off as she spotted a small, lone figure trudging through the snow along the side of the road.

“Who would be out here in weather like this?” Brian asked.

As they drew closer, Sandra saw it was a girl. Wisps of blonde hair whipped out from under her hood.

“Stop the car,” she said.

“Are you nuts? She could be anyone.”

“There’s no one else out here. If we don’t pick her up, who will? Besides, she’s small. I think between the two of us we could take her if she turns out to be a psycho.”

“Famous last words,” Brian muttered, but he slowed the car and pulled over anyway.

From the side mirror, Sandra watched the girl trot up to the SUV. She slowed as she grew closer and hesitated before opening the back door. When she finally did, the overhead light illuminated the interior. The girl peered into the dim car and eyed Sandra and Brian suspiciously, but she stepped forward, her shoulders sagging a little when her gaze fell on the empty baby seat.

“Thank you for stopping,” the girl said, climbing in. “Are you going to Hareton?”

“Yeah.” Brian pulled back onto the road. “Can we drop you somewhere?”

“Just a ride to town would be great. I’m Michelle, by the way.” She looked young, eighteen maybe nineteen.

“I’m Sandra. This is my husband, Brian.”

She turned to face the backseat. Michelle was pretty, the cheerleader type. Long, blonde hair fell in soft waves from under her hood. Her face was small with a pert nose, flawless skin and a smile toothpaste ads would pay a fortune for. But something about her eyes, dark and empty like bottomless wells, bothered Sandra.

“It’s an awful night to be out walking,” Sandra said. “You must be freezing.”

“I am.”

“Did you break down?” Brian asked. “I didn’t see any cars farther back.”

“No, I didn’t.” A rueful smile touched Michelle’s lips. “I had a fight with my boyfriend.”

“And he just left you out here?” Sandra asked, appalled.

“It’s not that bad. Someone always stops.”

What an odd thing to say. Sandra turned back around in her seat.

They continued the rest of the way in silence. As they neared Hareton, the lights from the town reflected pink off the falling snow, shimmering like a halo in the night sky.

“This isn’t right.” Michelle’s voice broke the quiet.

“What’s wrong?” Sandra turned to look at the girl. What she saw stopped her heart and turned her bowels to water.

Wide, sunken eyes stared out from Michelle’s gaunt face, her skin so pale it appeared almost blue. The heavy winter coat, faded and tattered, hung off her bony frame.

Michelle’s hand reached out, trembling as if lifting it took great strength. She wrapped her skeletal fingers around Sandra’s wrist like an icy vise, sending waves of frigid chills coursing through her body.

Michelle pulled herself forward. Closer. Until her face was mere inches from Sandra’s.

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas


So we put our Christmas tree up this weekend. We're actually quite late this year. Normally, we put it up towards the end of November, or by the first weekend in December at the latest. But running behind seems to be the story of my life these days.

Actually, this was a very productive weekend. Not only did I make my word count on Saturday and Sunday, I cleaned the house, paid some bills, got the laundry done and even had an evening out with hubby and friends. Now, however, I feel like I need a weekend to recover from the weekend.

Conversely, I haven't even started Christmas shopping. I tend to be a last minute shopper anyway. If I start too early, I tend to over think and doubt myself. If I wait until I have to get it done, I'm much more decisive. Still, when I'm frazzled in the malls two days before Christmas,  I'm sure I'll be cursing and promising myself I'll start in July next year.

How's everyone elses' Christmas shaping up?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Free Fiction Friday - Bait

It's Free Fiction Friday, and as promised I'm posting the first part of a serial read, Bait. For anyone who leaves a comment, your name will be entered in a draw at the end of the month. The winner gets a signed copy of Blood and Bone (US/CAN only) or an ecopy of Blood and Bone (intl). Leave a comment every Friday and increase your odds of winning. In the meantime, enjoy!

Copyright © 2012 Dawn Brown

Part I


            The frigid wind kicked up, sending a cloud of tiny snowflakes swirling around Andy, but he hardly noticed. He stood motionless, gazing through the glass into the dim restaurant. His attention fixed on the couple inside. He must have been gaping like an idiot, but he couldn’t seem to help himself. The sight of her with him left him dumbfounded.

            How could he have been so wrong about her? He remembered her narrowed eyes, glassy with tears, the slight tremble in her voice when she furiously demanded that he stop wasting time and arrest Luke Summers.

             “I want to know what happened to my sister,” she’d said, her voice quiet with a soft rasp. “And the only person who really knows what happened is that bastard she married.”

            Good Christ, had it all been an act?

Andy watched her swirl the dark red wine in her glass. She lifted her gaze and fixed Summers with a soft, almost coy smile. His stomach twisted. How could he have misjudged her the way he had? Hell, he’d felt sorry for her when all this time she’d been stringing him along with one lie after another. He shouldn’t be so shocked. After all, this wasn’t the first time he’d fallen for a beautiful woman’s bullshit.

Slow fury rose inside him, burning through his blood and leaving him impervious to the cold. He wished to hell Phoebe Summer’s missing persons report had never landed on his desk—and that he’d ever met Ella Martin.

He had to give credit where credit was due, Ms. Martin was a damn fine actress.  The thin layer of angry indignation, barely covering the fear and pain in those misty green eyes while he interviewed her had seemed genuine. She was convinced Summers had played a role in her sister’s disappearance, and Andy had agreed with her. Unfortunately, Luke Summers had an  unbreakable alibi from the time his wife was last seen alive until her car—with traces of her blood on the seat and driver’s side door panel—turned up. 

Summers had been at a conference in Chicago with nearly sixty of his coworkers. Still, that didn’t mean the man hadn’t paid someone to help his wife vanish. But Andy and his partner, Pete, had yet to find evidence linking Summers to his wife’s disappearance.

Inside the restaurant, Summers had paid the bill and stood, offering his hand to Ella. She accepted and allowed the man she had so vehemently accused of foul play to help her to her feet.

Again hot waves of anger rolled through Andy. What game was she playing? Had she helped Summers get rid of her sister so they could be together? The idea turned his stomach.

He considered himself a good judge a character, his ability to read people better than most, but watching Summers guide Ella to the exit, his hand pressed to the small of her back, Andy came to a sad realization. When it came to beautiful women, he didn’t have a clue.

As the couple came toward him, he turned away, pretending to read the menu posted outside the restaurant. Ella’s soft laugh drifted to him on the frigid wind, chilling him. He didn’t know what she’d done to her own sister, but, damn it, he planned to find out.

Continued next Friday. Have great weekend!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Happened to Novemeber?!

Sorry to have been gone for so long. November seems to have vanished in the blink of an eye. I feel like I should be writing a post about how to keep writing/blogging/etc. when life gets in the way. And if I ever figure out how, maybe I will.
I'm even behind on The Walking Dead. Thank goodness for the PVR.
So in an effort to breathe a little life back into this blog, I'm going to take a page from Monique Devere's blog. She's been posting a wonderful serial story weekly on her blog, and since I had a short Christmas story I thought I might do the same. So every Friday will be free fiction Friday. Starting Friday I post the first part of Bait, a Christmas Romantic Suspense. Because let's face it, nothing captures the spirit of the season like romance and murder. ;-)
Also, because I have a bunch of print copies of Blood and Bone to giveaway, anyone who leaves a comment, I'll draw a name at the end of the month. For evey chapter you leave a comment on, I'll enter your name again and increase your odds of winning.
See you Friday!