The strength of Sloane’s heart is about to be put to the ultimate test.
After the Eclipse – the night vampires began openly slaughtering human victims – everything changed. Out of fear, the government salvaged what remained of the human population and enclosed them in massive, security-laden cities called White Sectors, while marking the vampire infested territory as Red Sectors.
When seventeen-year-old Sloane McAllister’s twin brother disappears, she seems to be the only one who thinks he isn’t dead, and she vows to stop at nothing to find him. Gathering her courage, she braves the Red Sector to search for clues to his whereabouts. By chance, she encounters Aden, a handsome, charismatic vampire with a hidden agenda. He turns Sloane against her will and whisks her away to his underground city. Enemies quickly become friends as Sloane struggles against her attraction to Aden, and resists her growing loyalties to the creatures that ruined her life.
But the vampires themselves are the least of her problems. A war is brewing between the humans and vampires, along with a growing web of deceit and betrayal. And before it’s all over, loyalties will be tested, hearts will be broken, and no one’s lives will ever be the same.
** Includes all three books in The Red Sector Chronicles: The Scarlet Dagger, Dark Horizons, & Cross My Heart. Also includes bonus story: Dark Knight, a Red Sector Chronicles novelette, and an excerpt from Smile So Dark, Book One of The Wicked Wings Trilogy. **
Excerpt 4 – The Scarlet Dagger *free download!* Or get the whole trilogy for $5.99. *Offer valid through November 25th.*
I opened the door and flipped on the light. At first, I thought it was the smallest closet ever. Then I looked to my right, and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. The closet ran behind the entire length of the TV wall, lined with racks, cubbies for shoes, and drawers. For the most part, the racks were empty, save for a few pairs of jeans and some plain shirts.
“All this” – I motioned around the room – “is for me?”
Aden nodded. “Yep. If you don’t like the color –”
“It’s amazing. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Mrs. Knight’s voice floated up the stairs. “Guess I’ll go claim that aspirin,” Aden said. “There are clean towels in the bathroom if you want to shower.” He turned to leave.
“Hey,” I said.
He paused, quirking a brow in that quizzical way of his.
“Sorry I punched you in the face,” I mumbled, shifting my weight.
He tried to grin and then winced, touching his jaw. It was swollen, but I could tell it was already starting to heal. As he looked at me, something in his eyes shifted. “You can make it up to me.”
My brows furrowed.
He walked back, stopping a few inches in front of me. “Go on a date with me.”
I blinked in surprise. That wasn’t what I had expected him to say. “I just punched you in the face, and you want to go out with me?”
“Eh, it’s all relative. The way I see it, it’s not every day I find a girl who can kick my ass. It’s kind of hot.” The non-bruised side of his face lifted into a wry smile.
I flushed. No one had ever called me “hot” before. My best friends were a bunch of guys, and they treated me like one of the boys. Then again, “hot” wasn’t exactly a compliment in my book. It usually meant “bang-able,” not exactly something a respectable girl wanted to be called.
“So what do you think?” he asked softly.
I firmly shook my head. “No way. Not in your wildest dreams.”
The look on his face said he clearly wasn’t used to being blown off. His eyes held mine as he reached up to cradle my cheek. “Then I guess I’ll have to change your mind.”
I swatted his hand away and turned around before he could see me blush anymore. He chuckled, and I was afraid he’d push the topic, but a few seconds later I heard the door close.
My heart beat wildly. What was the matter with me? This was the guy who ruined my life, so shouldn’t I hate him? I tried to make sense of my feelings.
“All right, sure,” I said to myself, pacing. “You’re attracted to him. It’s perfectly natural. He’s handsome, he’s surprisingly sweet, he’s…”
He had been very kind to me, which was the exact opposite of the picture the government and my memories had painted for us. Vampires should be wild, feral creatures whose sole purpose was to prey on humans. But Aden and his mother, Paris, Rook and Angel, this place… they seemed normal, almost human, with the exception of the charming General Frost.
I groaned and rubbed my eyes, more confused than when I’d started.
1. Are you anything like your heroines? Oh, no! Sloane is the exact opposite of me, actually. She’s very outspoken and reckless, and I tend to be very soft-spoken (on certain things), and quiet. We’re nothing alike. I’m actually probably a little bit more similar to Valerie, the heroine in my faery series. She’s not as much of a live-wire as Sloane. But that’s the fun part about writing – you get to be anybody you want to be. And the sassy characters are always a lot of fun.
2. Why did you decide to write about vampires? Vampires are one of my favorite paranormal creatures. (And I think a lot of people would agree with me!) They’re alluring, sexy, dark, mysterious. There’s also a certain romanticism that goes along with them, which lends itself well to paranormal romance.
3. Tell us a little about The Red Sector Chronicles. In a nutshell, it’s the story about a teenage vampire-hunter-turned-vampire and her adventures. =P That’s the super-short version. It’s a young adult trilogy that’s a mash-up of dystopia, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy, some of my favorite genres. There are laughs, gasps, and swooning-over-book-boyfriends to be had. If you’re a fan of Vampire Academy or Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, you’ll probably like this series.
4. Are you a pantster or a plotter? Both. Tried pantsting once. The book was a trainwreck and took about four complete rewrites to get right. Never again. *shudders* I plan things a lot more now that I’ve studied story structure, and I’ve tried really detailed outlines. They tend to make the whole writing process not as much fun for me. Things are “too” planned out, so it takes the fun out of writing. I do make notes about major plot points, as well as some sparse notes about how my scenes go. Then I just let my imagination do the rest.
5. What do you think is more important to the novel, characters or plot? I’d say both are important, though I will say I’ve watched plenty of movies and read plenty of books where there was almost no plot to be found, but the characters were so captivating that I immensely enjoyed myself anyway.
6. What are some of your favorite movies? I love Victorian romances, so I’m a sucker for almost any Jane Austen film. I also love fairy tales and films with strong female leads. Gotta love a kickass girl. I also LOVE scary movies and anything that makes me laugh. Some favorites that come to mind are Ever After, Underworld, The Conjuring, and Tropic Thunder.
7. Do you think you’ll ever write about vampires again? *smiles* Oh, yes. I already have a lot of stories in mind. I just love them too much!
8. Do you have any advice for new writers? Read. A lot. And not just within your genre, but outside your genre. Also read as many writing references as you can, and practice what you learn. That’s the key. And speaking of practicing, write every day. Not edit. Write. Pour new words onto the page. That’s how you perfect your craft.
Walking in a Vampire Hunter’s Shoes
I didn’t know my MC, Sloane, was going to be a vampire hunter when I came up with the idea for The Red Sector Chronicles. I just saw a dark-haired girl, standing in a cityscape painted in shades of red. (Random aside: I think red moons look so cool. Naturally, I had to find an excuse to have one in my novel. =)
A lot of my character ideas start like this, as pictures in my head, and then I flesh them out on paper during my brainstorming process. At first, I was just going to have Sloane be a vampire, because I thought, “Writing as a vampire would be fun!” Then I got to playing the “what if…?” game and thought, “What if Sloane was a vampire hunter who became a vampire, and vampires are what she hates more than anything on this earth?”
That made for a much more compelling character and plotline, so I rolled with it.
Thus, Sloane the Vampire Hunter was born.
I wanted her to be tough. I wanted her to be sassy. Most of all, I wanted her to kick a lot of ass. But kicking said ass was a lot harder to write about than I thought it would be!
In my original draft of the first book in my trilogy, The Scarlet Dagger, I knew she would have to “prove herself” to the audience if she was going to be perceived as a femme fatale. So I had her run-up on a vampire straight-away – and she got her butt kicked. My hubby, when
I shoved the manuscript in his face
he lovingly agreed to see my baby book, I said, “So, she’s pretty
Now, my husband isn’t known for beating around the bush. He just says what he means.
“What?” I asked. “Why not?”
“She gets beat-up right away,” he said, pointing to the manuscript. “She needs to kill this thing. Then I’d be impressed.”
“Oh, and make her more like Blade, ‘cuz that’d be cool.”
(No kidding on that last part.)
I did make her more like Blade, in the sense of her being a lot tougher to tango with. And that was part of the challenge. She couldn’t be so awesomely badass that no one could beat her, because that gets old. Plus, it’s unbelievable. She needed to have some kryptonite. And she gets that, in the form of a hot vampire, some acidic metal called Scarlet Steel, and a whole slew of other problems.
One of my favorite parts of writing from Sloane’s perspective were all the fighting scenes. I didn’t want to drag them out, but I wanted readers to feel like they were there with her, so I put as many details as I could in them instead of saying, “She punched him. He punched her. Sloane goes flying through a cement wall.” I took karate lessons for many years when I was a kid, and it was fun reliving those years through Sloane, because all of a sudden, I had someplace to use my knowledge. (Never had to get in a fight yet, thankfully!)
When she becomes a vampire, I also had to think about how that affected her psychologically, since she despised vampires. I mean, they did ruin the world. Sloane was very complex and fun to write about while she was in the “figuring-things-out” stage of being a vampire. She sort of wants to like vampires, but she knows she’s supposed to hate them – and she really does – so she’s kind of stuck.
I’d like to keep writing about tough chicks. Not that I have anything against softer heroines (the Bella’s of the literary world), but writing about a girl who can protect herself is a lot of fun.