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Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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Blinking against a too-bright light, Weston tried to inhale. The air stabbed his lungs like knives, and when he coughed, the pain worsened exponentially. He was covered with a thin sheet, and the smell of soot surrounded him.

“Easy.” An unfamiliar female face appeared above him. “You inhaled a lot of smoke. We’re getting oxygen set up for you. Take it easy.”

Reassured by her soothing voice, Weston closed his eyes again.

The next time he opened them, a mask covered his mouth and nose. The light wasn’t as bright now. He tried to sit up, and a hand pressed his shoulder.

“You need to be still.” The voice sounded like the same woman as earlier.

“Andy.” Weston couldn’t even understand himself through the mask.

Apparently the woman—a nurse, he guessed—had some practice at translating oxygen-mask speak. “Your friend is in the next room. He’s unconscious. Try to breathe normally. I’ll find out what’s happening with him.”

Weston nodded his thanks and stared up at the white ceiling, listening to the nurse’s footsteps fade and trying to sort out his memories of what had happened.

A fire. Someone had set fire to the library as soon as Mildred was out of the building.

The crash in the main room must have been the arsonist breaking out through one of the windows so Andy and Weston wouldn’t see him.

Someone had chained the back door shut.

Someone had wanted Andy and Weston dead badly enough to make sure they couldn’t escape. Badly enough to destroy the entire library.

Andy should never have come to Dayfield. The town had never been a good place, but Weston hadn’t realized exactly how deep the darkness ran until Andy showed up.

“Your friend’s doing better.” The nurse walked over to stand beside Weston. “Still unconscious, but the doctor says he’s going to be fine.”

Weston started to speak, but his throat was too raw and sore to make another sound. Instead, he simply nodded again.

For a little while, he dozed off and on, waking each time someone entered the room. He expected his mother to show up, but she didn’t appear.

Finally, a male doctor carrying a clipboard entered with the nurse Weston had seen first. Without a word, she removed Weston’s mask.

“Try taking a breath,” the doctor said. “Slowly.”

Weston obeyed. His chest ached, but the sharp pain had faded enough for him to draw in some air.

He put his hand on his throat. “Water?”

The doctor nodded. “We’ll get you some. How are you feeling?”

Like I almost died in a fire, idiot. “Hurts.”

Brushing Off the Dust

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I’ve been on indefinite hiatus from writing romance while I dealt with some personal stuff, including both my kids moving out of the house, one to college and the other to be a partner and stepparent.

It’s been a stressful few months, with occasional breaks of fun and entertainment.

Many of my books are now out of print. Those include the entire Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series and all associated books with MLR Press and Passion in Print Press, as well as all of my other titles with those two imprints. They also include all but three of my Ellora’s Cave titles, though I’ve heard rumblings around the internet that all Ellora’s Cave authors are having their rights returned in December. All of my Pink Petal Books/Jupiter Gardens books are off the market, since the publisher closed.

On the plus side, my Loose Id titles are still available, as are Love Like Vampires from Dreamspinner Press, and Dawn Over Dayfield from DSP Publications. Dawn Over Dayfield is now an award-winning book! In August, it took first place in the Mystery category of the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Awards! That was hugely exciting. Now I’m waiting with bated breath to see what happens with the Edgar Awards, since Dawn Over Dayfield is also nominated for that.

My self-published novel Vengeance Is Sweet is also still available as an Amazon exclusive, e-book only.

I haven’t written any new romances. I don’t know whether I’m going to. I used to love writing them, but once I started writing for publication, and trying to get more and more books out there in the world, it became stressful and painful. Personal life circumstances didn’t help. I haven’t even been able to think of a romance *plot* in over a year, and I’m not sure whether that’s going to change.

But I still have books out there in the world, and I want to make sure people find them. I want to make sure people know *I* still exist. And someday in the future, I might self-publish some of my previously-published books even if I don’t write anything new. It remains to be seen.

I’m still writing young adult fiction under my Jo Ramsey pen name, though. I’m working on some nonfiction projects about healing, trauma recovery, and magic. (The witchcraft/spiritual version, not the up on stage with a top hat kind.) I’m starting a business related to those topics as well. I’m getting used to being an “empty nester,” and spending time with my partners and friends.

I’ll be blogging here twice a week. Mondays will be posts on a variety of topics; Thursdays will be short excerpts from my books, including some of the off-the-market ones. So I hope you’ll tune in, same Karenna time, same Karenna channel. (Wow… I hope I’m not the only one old enough to know that reference…)

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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Weston didn’t say another word until they were inside the historical society room. He took off his denim jacket and draped it over a chair, then cracked his knuckles. “My dad has a lot of friends in town, and they keep him informed of what’s going on. Including the fact that a Chaffee is poking around. Why are you going into the diner? Didn’t you learn anything yesterday?”

“I learned they have good food.” Andy shook his head. “Why do I feel like I’m in a horror novel or something? Stay away from the town, or they’ll possess you and eat you alive.”

“That’s how some small towns are,” Weston muttered. “You had a run-in this morning.”

“A couple of guys in the diner weren’t thrilled with me being there, but Rich shut them up.” Andy paused. “After I told him to get over himself.”

Weston’s frown deepened. “I heard about that too. Maybe you should take the books back to Boston and mail them to me when you’re finished.”

Andy stared at him. “Kicking me out of town? I wouldn’t have figured you’d agree with the general public.”

“I don’t, but Dad said Ernie implied you’d better get out of here sooner than later.”

Andy had no clue which of the men in the diner was Ernie. Nor did he care. He wasn’t about to leave because of a dickwad blustering over the phone. “I’ll get out of here when I’m finished what I came here for. Matt over in the photo shop doesn’t seem to hate me, at least.”

“Matt’s a little different. He’s a townie, but he tries to keep an open mind most of the time.” Weston nodded toward the bag Andy was still holding. “You bought a photo?”

“He gave it to me. It’s the factory.” Andy hesitated. “I haven’t seen the factory yet.”

“Do you want to?” Weston sounded surprised.

“It’s part of the family history, right?” Andy wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to visit the place, but since he was in town, it wouldn’t hurt.

“In a way, I guess. Not a pleasant part.” Weston walked over to one of the bookcases and ran his finger over the spines on one shelf. “I have a book about the factory here somewhere. When it started, when the Chaffees took over, all of that. Maybe you should read it first.”

“Sure.” Andy didn’t see why he needed to read a book before visiting the factory, but he appreciated Weston’s willingness to help.

“So are you planning to hang out here again today?” Weston asked. “You took all those books yesterday. I figured you’d spend the day reading at the motel.”

Andy hesitated. They were barely at the friendly acquaintance stage, and he wasn’t the kind to admit an attraction to someone after knowing them such a short time. He’d learned to be cautious.

But Weston was worth taking the chance. Worst case, Andy would avoid the library for the rest of his time in the area, except to return the books he’d borrowed.

He smiled. “I wanted the company.”

Weston glanced over his shoulder. “You did, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I don’t mind the company either.” Weston turned back to the books. “Here it is.”

“Okay.” That’s it? We say we like being around each other and then go back to talking about books?

Then again, he didn’t know what else he’d expected

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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This room smelled even more of old things and dust, and Andy stifled a cough. Around him, papers were crammed between books or piled in unsteady stacks. Andy saw no one else in the room.

He cleared his throat. “Hello?”

“Oh. Hang on.”

Andy waited, rocking slightly back and forth on his feet. A slim man who barely reached Andy’s shoulder walked out from between two shelving units. His brown hair was tousled, and a small gold hoop adorned each ear and one eyebrow. He had a sparse mustache and goatee, and his brown eyes gleamed even in the dim light.

He seemed as out of place in Dayfield as the elderly librarian would have been in downtown Boston.

Andy cleared his throat again and tried to moisten his dry lips. “Hi. I’m Andy Forrest. She, um, the librarian said she told you I’d be here today?”

“Yeah.” The man’s face crinkled into something resembling a smile. He held out his hand. “Weston Thibeault. Historian, such as it is.”

Andy shook hands with him. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise, though I wish it was in a nicer place.” Weston grimaced. “Sorry. I tend to be a bit cynical about this town. No reason for it to spill over on you. You won’t be here long, I take it.”

“How long I stay depends on how easy it is to find the information I need.” Andy glanced around.

Weston chuckled. “Yeah, it’s kind of a mess, isn’t it? People keep dropping off stuff they figure I can shoehorn in. Which I sort of can, but it isn’t a matter of simply shoving things onto shelves. There is, believe it or not, a system, and I haven’t had much time lately to put things away.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“You’re going to have to. I’m the only one who knows where things are around here.” Weston gestured at the nearest shelves. “This is what a degree in history gets you. So Mildred said you want to find out about a family from Dayfield?”

“Yeah.” Andy hadn’t given the librarian the whole story when he’d called. There were some things he wasn’t comfortable saying over the phone. And after the way the woman—Mildred, he guessed—had greeted him, Andy doubted he would ever be comfortable enough to tell her anything. “My birth father’s from here.”

Weston raised his pierced eyebrow. “You’re adopted?”

“Yeah.” Andy braced himself for the myriad questions he generally got when people found out he’d been “given away.” Questions which, for the most part, he couldn’t answer.

“What about your birth mother?” Weston asked.

“I think she lives on the North Shore. At least, that’s where she was living when I was born, as far as I know.”

“She might have moved since.” Weston paused. “What are their names? If one or maybe both of them are here in town, you could bypass all the paperwork and talk to them.”

“I don’t want to meet them,” Andy blurted. “I’d rather leave it at finding out more about my father and the family. History, you know?”

“Sure.” Weston wrinkled his forehead. “Okay, well, if you have their names, I’m sure we’ll have something about them here. At least about your father. We have info about pretty much everyone who’s lived here, at least in the past century and a half or so.”

“That’s what I’m hoping.” Andy glanced around again. There was no guarantee the shelves and piles contained anything about his biological father, and even if they did, he hadn’t decided how much he actually wanted to learn. The biggest question he had was one old books and papers probably couldn’t answer: Why had his birth parents given him up?

“The names?” Weston prompted.

Andy took a deep breath. “My mother is Elise Cummings. My father is Vardon Chaffee.”

He expected some sign of recognition from Weston. In a town as small as Dayfield, it was unlikely Weston wouldn’t have heard the name. But Andy didn’t expect the disgusted twist of Weston’s mouth or the narrowing of his eyes.

“Chaffee?” Weston spoke the name as if he were spitting out a mouthful of shit. “You’re a Chaffee?”

“No. I’m a Forrest.” Andy folded his arms and squared his feet. He had no clue why “Chaffee” was a bad thing, but he damn sure wasn’t about to let Weston insult him because of a guy Andy had never met. “My birth father was a Chaffee. And I’m guessing you aren’t too happy about it?”

Weston pressed his lips together and looked away for a moment. When he faced Andy again, his expression was blank. “Sorry. Yeah, that name tends to leave a bad taste in most mouths around here. You don’t know anything about the family?”

“Not really.” Andy’s adoptive father had tried to give him what little information he had beyond the names of Andy’s birth parents and their hometowns, but Andy had refused to listen. He only wanted to learn enough to relieve his dad’s fear that Andy might carry some unknown health condition, like the heart problem that had killed Andy’s mom.

“Wow. Okay.” Weston ran his hand through his hair. “So not only am I going to have to find you information about the family, but I’ll have to educate you so you don’t say that name in too many places around here.”

Dawn Over Dayfield Release!

Finally! I’ve been waiting a year for this day!

Well, actually for tomorrow… but close enough.

I’ve blogged a few times now about the creation and development of the novel known as Dawn Over Dayfield, so I won’t rehash what I’ve already said. Suffice it to say, a then-friend planted the plot seed and helped me with some brainstorming and research, I fell in love with the book as I was writing it, and fortunately, since it turned out not to be a romance but a suspense novel, Dreamspinner Press had recently launched its non-romance imprint DSP Publications, and they were happy to take the book.

Dawn Over Dayfield was accepted last March. I don’t mind the amount of time between then and now, because it means DSP Publications and I have been able to do some advance promotions that might not otherwise have been possible. When you’re releasing a book, it’s kind of important to let readers know it exists!

But now, at last, it’s time for Dawn Over Dayfield to see the light of day, and I hope readers will love the story and characters as much as I do. You can get your copy from DSP Publications, Amazon.com, and Omnilit.com.

New Book Next Week!

Next Tuesday, March 1, marks the release of my first suspense novel, Dawn Over Dayfield. While the story has romantic elements, it isn’t a romance. The characters didn’t seem to want it to be, and that made sense to me; it’s difficult for love to form over a few days of research, mystery solving, and nearly being murdered.

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Dayfield is a fictional town in central Massachusetts, and it definitely has issues. Once a booming factory town, Dayfield began its decline in the 1980s when the furniture factory which employed many residents closed for good. Nearly thirty years later, the town’s fate was sealed when a tornado struck the area, destroying some buildings that no one can afford to rebuild. (While Dayfield and the furniture factory are fictional, the tornado that hit that part of Massachusetts in 2011 was all too real, as were the effects on some of the towns in the area.)

During the editing process, one of the editors who worked on this novel said that Dayfield almost seemed like a character in and of itself, and that’s how I felt writing the book. I didn’t develop the town entirely on my own; someone who, at the time, was a good friend helped. And all the work he and I put into creating Dayfield definitely paid off.

Dawn Over Dayfield is available for preorder from the publisher, DSP Publications; Amazon.com; and Omnilit.com.

Dedications

When an author has a book published, many times they’ll include a dedication at the beginning. This might be to a friend, a family member, fellow authors who were supportive, their editor…any number of people. The point is for them to let not only that person/those people know they’re valued, but to let readers know as well.

I have several books that are dedicated to my husband. He’s the one whose emotional–and often, financial–support has made it possible for me to write and get published. Under my YA pen name, I have books dedicated to my kids and a few of their friends who inspired the stories or asked me to write something specific.

One of my Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat books, Tempeh for Two (the final in the series) is dedicated to my friend Paul, who had read the previous books in the series and for whom I was struggling to come up with a holiday gift. That book was my 2013 holiday gift to him, with the dedication and the inclusion of a character, Paul Drake, who was based on him.

Unfortunately, I have other books that are dedicated to people who are no longer in my life. One of those is Dawn Over Dayfield, which releases March 1 from DSP Publications. A little over a year ago, my then-boyfriend (I’m polyamorous, for those who don’t know; I’m married but sometimes also am involved with others, and my husband is on board with it) and I were talking about a story I wanted to write. He and I came up with the town of Dayfield, inspired partly by towns in which he’d lived growing up. He helped me with historical research about aspects I wanted to include in the story, and he cheered me on as I wrote it and beta read it before I sent it to the publisher.

He broke up with me in August, and I’ve only spoken to him a couple of times since, most recently in October. Which means the release of Dawn Over Dayfield is going to be a little bittersweet. Instead of being able to celebrate with him as I’d hoped, I’ll be sitting here wondering if he even remembers it’s being released. The book is dedicated to him, by the nickname I gave him when we were seeing each other, but he’s probably not going to know it.

Even so, he contributed a lot to the writing of the book, and I don’t regret the dedication. Maybe someday, he’ll see it.

Looking Forward to 2016

Last week I looked back at what my 2015 was like. It wasn’t the best year for me, especially in terms of my romance writing career.

This year, I don’t have goals that are as structured as what I’ve had in the past, because this is a year of rebuilding, or maybe destroying and building something new. I haven’t entirely decided yet. I don’t do resolutions for a new year. When I try, I end up not sticking to them, and that makes me feel kind of cruddy. Instead I do goals and hopes, and these are a few for me for 2016.

Obviously the big thing is my writing career. Karenna Colcroft has not had a new release in 10 months, give or take. People are not really buying the books I have available, at least according to my royalty statements. Those are things that need to change.

In 2016, I plan to release three books as self-published projects. Two are previously-published, one a paranormal-with-romantic-elements about a vengeance demon (which releases a week from today!) and one male/male romance about a ninja vampire who teaches mixed martial arts in present-day Boston. The third book has never been published, and is another paranormal about a woman who terms herself a “bookstore psychic”, whose powers and abilities bring her to solve a murder from 20 years earlier–and almost get murdered herself.

I have one publisher release scheduled for March 2016, which is Dawn Over Dayfield, a novel I’ve been mentioning a lot since last January or so, which I believe was when I submitted it. Or maybe when I wrote it… I can’t remember. All I know for sure is a whole lot has changed in my personal life since that novel was written. And my publisher, DSP Publications, has already done a stellar job of getting word out about the book, including scoring me an interview for the International Thriller Writers newsletter! (For those who don’t know, Dawn Over Dayfield is a suspense novel with romantic elements.)

I really love Dayfield, both the novel and the town my ex-boyfriend and I created for it, and I’d toyed with the idea of a sequel. I thought it wouldn’t be possible, but this past week I sat down to brainstorm something else and suddenly knew what would happen in the sequel to DOD. So that’s something I’m planning to write in 2016.

And speaking of planning to write…I have not been mentally able to write any type of romance in over a year. It isn’t writer’s block; it has other roots that I won’t get into. But it’s been over a year, and I think that’s time to have healed sufficiently from the incidents that sparked the issue to try again. I have someone close to me who’s willing to be my support system while I try to get back to it, so I’m planning to write at least 1-2 new erotic romances in 2016.

I’m hoping to get Karenna Colcroft back on track this year. More books. More income (because while I write for the love of writing, being able to pay bills is kinda important). More variety. More enjoyment.

2015 In Review

This week, I’m going over some of the things that happened and changed in my life in 2015. Next year, I’ll talk about my hopes and goals for 2016.

In the fall of 2014, something happened in my personal life that led to me being unable to write erotic romance. I won’t go into detail here; it’s something I’d prefer not to talk about right now, and I think I’ve blogged about it before anyway.

In early 2015, I tried to write a male/male romance. I failed. I couldn’t get the characters to fall in love with each other given the circumstances in the story, and given the circumstances going on in my own brain, I couldn’t get them to have sex, either. It became a suspense novel with romantic elements, Dawn Over Dayfield, which will be released in March 2016.

Dawn Over Dayfield’s existence owes a lot to someone who was pretty important to me during the first 7 months or so of 2015. He was a huge part of my overall support system, was very supportive and encouraging about my writing, and with Dayfield in particular, he helped me brainstorm the plot, helped me create the town (which is fictional, but is located in the part of Massachusetts where he grew up), and did the historical and geographical research I needed. Unfortunately, in August that person ceased to be part of my life, which is sad for a number of reasons, not least of which is that some really exciting things have already happened for Dayfield and I can’t share them with him. That person exiting my life also impacted my writing, though this time more on the romance side than the erotic.

In June 2015, I tried to write another male/male romance. This time, I barely managed to get 10 pages in before I ran into some pretty severe mental health issues. I chose at that point to put romance writing in general on indefinite hold.

In 2014 and 2015, a number of my books were taken out of print. Six of my nine Ellora’s Cave titles were pulled at my request due to poor sales. Several of my MLR Press and Passion in Print Press books were pulled, I think in late 2014. (Sorry. Fibromyalgia…I have a brain like a steel sieve and would have to look things up to be sure of dates.) As of now, I no longer have any books available from Pink Petal Books/Jupiter Gardens Press. All told, I think my number of existing titles was cut in half in 2015.

My last erotic romance title, a heterosexual contemporary novel, was released in March. Since then, nothing has been released under Karenna Colcroft’s name. I’ve been working on promoting my books that are still out there, and on making plans for the upcoming year, as well as focusing a lot more time and energy on writing and promoting my young adult fiction under the Jo Ramsey pen name.

It’s hard to predict where my career will go from here, but I do have some thoughts and things I want to try for 2016. I’ll share those with you next week.

Changes in the Works

My first romance was published in 2009. It came after two and a half years of attempting to write erotica and/or erotic romance (back then, I wasn’t even sure what the difference was!), posting stories online, and finally finding a publisher that gave me a chance.

In the just-over-six years since, I’ve honestly lost count of how many books (including novellas and stand-alone short stories) and anthology contributions I’ve had published. And at this point, something around half of them are no longer available anyway.

As I think I posted a few months ago, since last summer, my health has gone down, and my stress level has gone up. The last new erotic romance I wrote was Stepping Stone Not Doormat, which came out in February. The next book I tried to write, Dawn Over Dayfield, stubbornly refused to be any kind of romance, though there is a fairly hot blowjob scene in it.

And when I sat down a couple of months ago to try to write a follow-up to Stepping Stone Not Doormat, something in my brain kind of imploded. I wasn’t able to even get the story off the ground, and the harder I tried, the more stressed and anxious I felt. When I finally had to put it aside a couple of weeks ago to start on a young adult novel I’d already committed to a publisher (under my Jo Ramsey pen name), it was a relief…and I’ve written three times as much on that novel in two weeks as I did on the attempted romance in over a month.

That told me something I’d been trying to deny for months: It’s time to step back from writing romance for a while. How long a while? I’m not entirely sure. Until my brain and emotions are ready to try again, I guess. I’m going to put more time and focus into my young adult fiction instead, and I hope some of you will check out my Jo Ramsey books, if you’re inclined to read YA stuff. I do plan to try to self-publish a few of my reverted books, along with a couple of things that didn’t find homes because they’re too hard to categorize, over the next couple of years. And Dawn Over Dayfield will be available next March from DSP Publications, the non-romance imprint of Dreamspinner Press. So there will be Karenna Colcroft releases. Just no *new* erotic romance for a while.

I hope my readers will hang in there, check out any of my backlist that you haven’t read, and keep an eye out for the self-published stuff as well as Dawn Over Dayfield. I won’t be disappearing completely; you can still find me on social media and this website. But sometimes tough decisions need to be made, and unfortunately, for me this is one of those times.