Friday, August 30, 2013

Between Life and Death



Between Life and Death
By Natalie-Nicole Bates

The subject of life after death has fascinated mankind for as long as he’s walked the earth. Modern religion varies on the topic. Some religions teach that a wondrous land of rest awaits us—if we’re good that is—or we are truly sorry of all the evil we caused during or life time. Other religions believe in reincarnation—we go on and on and hopefully learn all the lessons in life we are supposed to, and then we finally find eternal rest.

But what of those who live between life and death?

Years ago, I worked as a trauma technician for a major hospital. I spent a good deal of time with patients who had suffered traumatic brain injuries and were in various states of coma. Coma, by the way, is not like it’s portrayed on television. You don’t lie unconscious and wake up suddenly good as new again. There are various degrees of coma, but that isn’t important to this writing.

For patients in deep coma, I often wondered what they experienced. Were they dreaming, were they on another plane of existence, or were they simply there, but not there?

This thinking is what brought me to write Remember The Stars. I used the thought that perhaps while a person is in this state of coma they travel to another plane of existence. Depending on how you got there determines if it is, loosely put, heaven or hell.
In Remember The Stars, we meet Remy Moreland who through his own fault is languishing in a deep coma. When Leah Rhodes is literally dumped into his existence, he’s not sure if she’s like he is, or if the Fates are having fun with him at his expense.
But you’ll need to read Remember The Stars to fully understand this.


I hope you’ll give Remember The Stars a read and find out my spin on what happens between life and death.

Blurb:

For Leah Rhodes, life as she knows it has just changed forever.
Waking in a gutter in the dark surroundings of her distant past, a familiar man stands out in her confusion.

But Remy Moreland has been dead for years.

It soon becomes apparent to Leah that both she and Remy are trapped in a hell of their own making.

Can one night together not only lead to the way out, but to love as well?

Excerpt:

     “Remy,” she said his name. Where did she know that name from? It wasn’t common. Think, Leah, think. Then it hit her—hard.
     She remembered exactly who Remy Moreland was.
     He was in the newspaper years earlier. Her mother had shown her a copy. Remy Moreland was involved in a fatal street race. His Porsche had been split in two, killing him and a young woman in another car.
     Remy Moreland was dead.
     But if he was dead, what was he doing here, alive, and with her?
     Sweat broke out on the back of her neck and her vision clouded. This was someone’s idea of an evil, evil joke. She had to get out. She had to find her way home.
     Standing, she grabbed the edge of the deck for support. “I have to get out of here,” she mumbled and stumbled her way around the desk.
     He grabbed her around the waist. “You can’t go back out there. It’s dangerous.”
     She sunk her open palms against his chest and struggled to get out of his grip. “Get off of me, you malevolent freak! You’re dead! You’ve been dead for years!” she blurted.
     Immediately, he let go and jumped back from her as if he had been stung.
     “What are you talking about? He demanded.
     She backed away, ready to make a run for the front door. But the confused mix of anger and disbelief in his contorted expression stopped her.
     How could he not know he was dead?
     “It was years ago, Remy. You had an accident. It was in the newspaper.”
    He tilted his head, his blue eyes huge.  “Do I look dead to you?”
     Well, he was pale, his blue eyes ethereal. She hesitated, and then spoke. “Now that you mention it…”
     “You bitch!” he snapped.
     The force of his voice caused her to flinch and she raised her fingers to her throbbing temples. All she wanted at that moment was to get out of this man’s sight and find her way home.
     “I’m not dead,” he stated ominously.
     “Okay, you’re not dead,” she conceded as she rubbed circles on her temples.
     He took a step closer. “As a matter of fact, right now I am languishing across town in a nursing home. I eat through a tube in my belly and piss into a catheter bag. I remain nothing but an emaciated, contorted version of the man I once was.”
     She closed her eyes. This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening. None of this was real.
     When she opened her eyes, he was in front of her, a macabre grin creasing his handsome features. He lifted a brow. “So, what did you do?”
     “Do? What are you talking about?”
    “To get here. You know my situation, so what’s yours?”
     He wasn’t making any sense. She turned away from him, left the office and began to walk the long hallway to the front door, but he followed her closely.
     “Let me guess,” he provoked.  “You look like a murder-suicide kind of girl. You’re not wearing a wedding ring, so I’m assuming you shot your boyfriend in the head and then offed yourself in some spectacular way—like jumping off a balcony and splattering on the ground. How could you have known you would wind up here?” he chuckled unpleasantly.
     She stopped cold. How could he say such a horrible thing? She turned back to him only to find him mere inches from her. “You’re horrible. You don’t even know me, but you’ve resorted to participating in some sort of evil joke on me. I just want to go home…or wake up.”
     “Your life as you know it is over, Leah.”
     “What are saying, Remy? That I’m dead?”
     “You’re not dead…not quite. This is limbo…purgatory…the first circle of Hell. The most wretched place on earth where you are sent to atone for your sins.”

Connect with Natalie-Nicole

Twitter @BatesNatalie

Buy Remember The Stars



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WAR IS LAUNCHED!


I'm f-ing thrilled to announce that the 3rd book in the Lash Series has published! Excuse my exuberance, and let me give you some background about why I'm over the stars with happiness.

Much of my feeling is based on relief. Initially, this series was published through a small press called Bradley Publishing, which opened its doors in fall of 2011. I was one of the first to sign with them, and Lash Book #1 came out the following spring, in April 2012. It was well received---even the accredited Kirkus Reviews, who I worried would rip it's newly formed scales off, gave it a stunning review. Shadow Man, the sequel, came out six months later in the fall of 2012. This also go many 5-star reviews, though several readers thought it was too graphic for their taste. The series seemed to be a successful one, with rock solid fans who were willing to go to the ends of the earth for their venomous yet tortured weresnake antihero.

Then...Bradley Publishing closed its doors in January 2013.

Suddenly, all the work I'd done seemed moot. I either had to find a new publisher fast or self publish the rest of the series, which seemed an enormous undertaking I did not have time to do. Happily, I was able to procure a new publisher, Double Dragon Publishing, in almost no time at all. they relaunched both the first and second books in the series last spring, scheduled the third, War, for publication, and gave me a contract for Revenge, the partly done book #4 of the series.

I should have felt secure...I had contracts in hand, and Double Dragon said they wanted the rest of the Lash series as I wrote the books. But I still worried that something would happen. These past months have been an anxious wait for War to publish. It's only now that I feel tremendous relief and excitement in my creation. Viva Lash!

Blurb:
Weresnake Lash journeys to Europe on the eve of war, desperately searching for not only his nephew, but also his former lover Nancy. Leveraged into service to Germany by the malicious German werecougar Theodor von Kessel, Lash befriends fellow soldier and weresnake Dieter, even as he secures safety for Nancy. When Theodor divulges The German Final Solution and the part they are destined to play in it, Dieter and Nancy attempt escape to England while Lash orchestrates distraction. Horrified to learn upon his escape that Nancy and Dieter were captured, Lash returns to Europe in a second rescue, banding with another weresnake called Nails and his motley crew of various weremen to free Dieter and Nancy from the camps where they are imprisoned. Caught by demons in an ambush, Lash is imprisoned in a death camp, but breaks free with Dieter in time to join the American Forces near D-day. Resolute, Dieter and Lash fight onwards with Allied forces to Germany itself, their goals to find Nancy, kill Theodor, and survive the final bloody days of World War II.

Excerpt: “Don’t ask any questions,” I said coldly. “Just meet us here before your next mission.”
            “That is tomorrow,” Dietrik hissed back at me, his own fangs growing in anger. “There is no rotation of crews.”
            “Watch your temper,” I cautioned, another evil smile gracing my lips. “The snake will come out of you with any strong emotion. And that includes sexual release.”
            He jaw worked, but to my grudging respect, he contained the transformation this time. “Thank you for the warning.” He put on his hat, then holstered his gun. “I’ll send a car for you.” He strode out.
            I’d either engineered our escape or sealed our doom. I went upstairs to Evans, praying he was asleep.
***
            “I can’t believe you turned him,” Evans hissed to me the next morning as we waited for the car. “You realize he can now make his whole crew snake, right?”
            “Being snake doesn’t save you from drowning,” I hissed back, remembering my mother’s warnings long ago. “We’re not immortals. You were done for if I hadn’t saved you. We’re both done for if we don’t get out of here. Now shut up.”
            After the car’s arrival at the shoreline, we were blindfolded, then taken to the underground bunker where the U-boats were docked. After boarding, we were left alone in a small room, the only sound the whine of the boat’s engines. I could feel the pressure as we dived and resurfaced, but that was all. Evans’ constant hissing and bitching drowned out all other noise.
            Hours later, we were taken to the deck of the U-boat and our blindfolds were removed. Dietrik was there in front of us alone, waiting.
            “You are AWOL, Lash,” he said softly. “You’re wanted for questioning in the disappearance of another officer as well.”
            He was no match for me, not newly turned as he was. “Yes,” I replied, then stared at him, waiting for him to make a move.
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cover Reveal: The Heart of the Hunter/Natalie-Nicole Bates



I'm pleased today to reveal the cover art and blurb for my upcoming romantic suspense, The Heart of the Hunter, due for release in mid September!


Blurb for Heart of the Hunter/Natalie-Nicole Bates

After a devastating accident, Barret Atkins has accepted a quiet, solitary existence. His life is turned upside down when he finds the badly injured Kansas Smith, left for dead in a case of mistaken identity. As Kansas begins to recover, Barret must face some deep scars of his own. When the couple begin to fall for each other, their lives spin into a revival of past hurts, jealousies, and betrayals, causing Barret to put a halt to their budding relationship.


Barret’s hesitation causes his best friend-turned vicious rival, Duncan Craig, to pursue a friendship with Kansas. Where will this leave Barret? Can they all hold on long enough to escape Kansas’s attacker, and will they ever conquer their own inner demons intent on keeping them apart?

Natalie-Nicole's Links:

Twitter @BatesNatalie

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Her Passionate Protector by Dilys J. Carnie








Blurb:


An innocent woman…a millionaire…two totally different people,

When Lucy meets Alex the owner of a company her cleaning business has just picked up a contract for, her hard won self-preservation and quiet life flies out the window. Smouldering heat burns every time Alex comes near her. He is confused by this independent, yet vulnerable woman and when her ex-husband returns, determined to hurt her Alex fights for her life and their love.

Two completely different worlds and yet when they collide parks ignite.

However the future that Alex foresees for them both has a very bumpy ride in store for them. Independent to the core Lucy’s inner fight with her past threatens to destroy any chance of a future. An unexpected flight to New York may change their fate forever but will they survive the turbulent road to happiness?


Excerpt:


“Come on. Let’s see how bad your dancing really is.”


Startled, Lucy had no choice but to follow, as he still had hold of her hand.


After a few moments of him groaning, she stifled a giggle.


“See? I told you I was bad.”


“You did, but I didn’t realize I would lose all feeling in my toes,” he murmured with amusement, his mouth close to her ear. “Hey let’s try it this way, I think perhaps it might be better if we don’t move very much, and then I can hopefully keep my toes from being totally annihilated.” His words had Lucy chuckling with I told you so.


His eyes narrowed at her glee “Stand still. Give me your hands.” He pulled both her arms around his neck, as he rested his on her tiny waist. Her heart almost leapt out of her chest as she felt his very manly body so very close to her own. Her eyes slowly moved up to meet his.


Looking down at her, he started to sway to the music, moving her body with his. Their feet barely moved as the feel of the music surrounded them. It was as if they were the only two people in the room, their eyes locked, neither one turning from the other as the pull of emotions joined their bodies almost as one.


Alex moved first and tilted his head down to whisper in her ear. His breath caressed her sensitive lobe.


“You fit perfectly now that you are not desecrating my feet.” His husky voice lowered almost to a baritone and had a scintillating amusing tone that made her smile.


But her stomach clenched and her whole body ached with something, she didn’t know what, the swell of emotion that cascaded through her was so unfamiliar.


Lowering her eyes back to his chest, she noticed his jacket emphasized the width of his broad shoulders. The white shirt hid the flatness of his stomach. Lucy inhaled the maleness of him, the musky scent of his aftershave.


Her fingers took on a life of their own as they threaded through his silky blond hair where it caressed the collar of his shirt. Lucy swallowed trying to lubricate her dry mouth. Her breathing quickened as those hands that had been resting on her waist moved to the small bone at the base of her spine, effectively moving her even closer. She could feel every muscle and line of his body against hers, every muscle, and one she wasn’t sure that she should be so close to.


Win a copy of Her Passionate Protector by simply commenting! A winner will be chosen using Random.org.


Find Dilys online:










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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Digging Out

Misadventures in Crafting Part 1, Topic 2:
DIGGING OUT

Last month, I talked about being buried alive in yarn I’d inherited from a relative who bought just a tad much for her own good.



At first, I was thrilled at the treasure trove I was amassing box by box. But by the time the last box was sorted, my thrill had turned to trepidation. Over a course of the next week, I determined that it was really best for me to donate a good portion of it…to try my hand at crochet in the next few weeks…and to get cracking on making those scarves I’d initially had in mind when I accepted it.
{I like to make simple knitted scarves each year—meaning 3-4 usually—to send to Native American reservations out West that have very frigid winters and not very many resources. A box of yarn would be welcome, and would mean money I could save to help promote my books (wink!). }

So here is my progress!
  • Those ten projects in various stages of completion I’d discovered so far…well, I donated eight afghans and kept two. While I was able to master the simple chain stitch enough to finish one afghan decently, I probably have patience to only finish one other…and it’s going to take me years. I also was able to sew together a large bagful of completed squares to make another afghan, which came out beautifully!


  • I donated half of the yarn to a local group that makes baby booties new parents, and also various projects to put into Christmas baskets for shut ins.

  • I sorted the yarn into colors and types, putting the rug yarn together. While I didn’t make a list, at least I can find a color I need now, as everything is in clear plastic bags.

  • I created one scarf, and am well on my way to a second!

  •  I found additional lattice to hook the rug yarn to, so I can make rugs, and also purchased a narrow roll off of e-bay. I will be making at least one Lash and Promise Me rug, maybe more. There is always the option also of making confetti type throw rugs, where you just hook random colors onto a lattice without a pattern. I’m very excited to get started on these! 

Join me in the coming months here for updates on my progress…or lack thereof! All support is vastly welcomed!

For you Promise Me Fans….Immortal Confessions, Promise Me Series Book #5, an Origins Tale, will be out very soon!


Lash Series Book #3, War, will also be coming this fall, along with the Latham's Landing Anthology, and the first Promise Me Anthology! 

Out NOW:






Blurb for Taken For His Own, Promise Me Series Book #4:    After learning Theo is alive, Sar immediately embarks on a mission to find him. Reunited, the lovers return to New York; Danial, Terian and Theo uneasily combining forces to protect Sar from Al’s assassins still seeking her. But when Sar is taken prisoner in an all-out attack, only one man can save her: her old adversary, Devlin.

Buy Links:
Melange/lulu link for Print, PDF and HTML copies: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/tarafoxhall/takenforhisown.html
Excerpt:
I cried a few tears, turned out the light and let my mind drift. Just as I was falling asleep, I remembered the potion. Terian had said the potion would recreate the dream with Theo, but that when it ended, the dream would fade from memory.
I needed to put my feelings for Theo to rest and let him get on with his life. It was time to be done with dreams and get back to reality.
I turned the light back on and got up, rummaging around in my duffel bag. I found it and spent a few minutes removing the vial from the bubble wrap I’d taped around it for safekeeping. I uncorked the top and drank. The taste was bitter. This was it, the end of him and me. I packed the empty potion vial for Terian for reuse, then lay down. I drifted in a sleep-sort of fog and finally begin to dream.
It was my home, my farm. Again, I stood there, calling out to Theo to wait, not to leave.
Again, he stood motionless at the door for a second and then he turned to me, riding me to the floor. Kissing me roughly, as we tore off our clothes as fast as we could.
Every memory came back in full force, sweeping me away in a storm of emotion. It washed away the years with Danial, even everything I felt for Elle and Theoron. There was only Theo and I. We were one.
Theo made love to me again and again. I relished his body next to mine, his muscles holding me, moving me, pleasuring me. Soreness set in as night fell, but I renewed my efforts, knowing that the end was near. As Theo finished and reached for me, I pushed him away.
“Sar?” he said questioningly, his eyes worried, his hand outstretched.
In a few seconds, Danial’s voice would sound. This was it, the end.
In desperation, I shouted, “Theo, I love you, I love you more than anything or anyone. I’ll love you the rest of my life!”
As my words tore out of me, Theo’s body flickered. Suddenly thin scars appeared on his shoulders from a whip, the edges raised and red, then similar scars on his chest. A mass of scar tissue bloomed whitely on his hip.
I lunged for his outstretched hand as he faded before me.
I fell out of the motel room bed, landing on the floor. The room reeked with the odor of lovemaking, the odor of sex.
“God damn it, no!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
I’d fucked up badly. I’d forgotten Terian’s words to me the night he’d given me the potion, telling me about the dream it would create for me one last time.
“And he’s not here to renew it with you…”
Terian had said it, thinking as I did that Theo was dead. But Theo wasn’t dead, he was alive. I’d reached out and touched him again with another dream. Moreover, this time, he’d know immediately that what had happened was no regular dream. He’d come looking for me, remembering the scent he’d caught wind of a week ago.
God, I had to get gone as fast as I could!
I threw on some clothes and frantically gathered up my things. There was no time for a shower or food. We had to get moving!
I grabbed up my duffel and ran for the door, my keys in my hand. A footstep sounded outside my door and then the door was kicked open, flying back hard to slam the outer wall.
Theo stood there breathing hard, his eyes dark as a storm. He reeked of sex the way I did.
I hoped for his sake he’d woken up alone.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he said, his voice deep and rough. He slammed the door behind him and locked it.
“Theo, I—”
“You are going nowhere, Sar.” He strode over, anger pouring off him. He grabbed my keys and threw them. My duffel followed. He pushed me to the bed roughly, then covered my body with his own. “You want me so bad, Sar, here I am,” he snarled, his eyes gone yellow. His fingers were claws, digging into my skin.
I closed my eyes, trembling.
He put his hand on the side of my face and gripped my jaw. “Open your eyes,” he said roughly.
I opened them, my vision swimming with tears.
 “Don’t cry, Sar. You wanted this badly enough to send me another dream.”
“I’m sorry—”
He bared his fangs at me in a snarl and roared deafeningly. I shrank back from him as much as possible.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

No Secondary Characters? No Problem!



No Secondary Characters? No Problem!
By Natalie-Nicole Bates

It wasn’t until I finished my paranormal novella, SEE ME, that I realized I had no real secondary characters in the story. Sure, there was an occasional passer-by that my hero and/or heroine had words with, but no real friend lending advice or sympathetic ear. No one for the reader to gain added insight from.

So this caused me to ponder the question, Are secondary characters really necessary for every story?

I looked to my hero and heroine and their individual circumstances. Both characters were solitary beings. Prior to the start of SEE ME, hero Daniel Tremont had not left his flat for a decade.

SEE ME occurs over a very short period of time—two days in the hero and heroine’s lives. But those two days will change Carly and Daniel forever.

I soon came to realize that the beauty of no secondary characters is that this sole focus of the story is on Carly and Daniel. Their discovery of one another and their situations. There’s no distraction of phone calls or visitors interrupting their flow.

So the lack of secondary characters has turned into a pleasant discovery for my writing. I hope you will agree. SEE ME is now available from Leap of Faith Publishing or your favourite online book store.

Blurb:

Carly Anders  is hearing voices in her head. Another one of her kind is trying to contact her. She knows of the malevolent freaks—others who are eternal like her and seek out the weak to inflict pain upon. For years, Carly has held up huge protective walls to keep herself and her secrets safe. Now, physically and mentally exhausted, Carly needs protection and rest
.
She accepts the invitation to visit an internet friend who needs help appraising a collection of antique photographs.  The situation is not ideal, but Carly hopes a male presence in her life will deter the determined suitor who haunts her thoughts and dreams.

Daniel Tremont is not what Carly is expecting.

The former funeral director has a secret of his own. Not only is he eternal like Carly, he is her creation from all those years before—her abomination she thought she killed.

Daniel has been searching for Carly for years. He knows she is the piece of his life that he has been missing for so long. Now that he has found her, he has no intentions of letting her go. 

Excerpt:

Her long, straight mane of hair was the color of fallen oak leaves and dusted with gold. Her eyes were a deep espresso brown. An amber briolette hung at her throat. She wore a form fitting purple sweater that hugged her ample curves, and a matching skirt that fell a few inches above her knees. A pair of heels completed the outfit. Her suitcase and handbag sat at her feet.
     Even though he wanted nothing more at that moment than to engulf her petite figure in his embrace, he extended his hand to her. His tongue finally untied and he said the first thing that he could think of at that dizzying, long-awaited moment. “I’m so glad you decided to come.”
     She smiled, and his knees weakened. As soon as their hands joined, a jolt of electricity fired, sending them both into a stumble.
     Shocked, he said nothing and stared at his still outstretched hand. She laughed, a merry sound that filled the hallway and caused his shock to melt away.
     “Wow, that was strange!” she exclaimed.
     “I just had the carpets steamed today.” He rubbed his hands against the denim fabric of his jeans. I suppose they picked up a static charge, I’m so sorry about that,” he said.  
     Was it just static electricity? Did he just shock an innocent girl, or was two of the same kind coming together? He gazed at her perfectly painted purple lips. If just their hands coming together caused this kind of reaction, what would happen if they kissed?

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Find Natalie Nicole:
Twitter @BatesNatalie