Finally…Release of Free Agent!

Woo-hoo! JC and I became critique partners after Free Agent’s reads were complete, so I have looked forward to the start of Marissa’s story, especially after reading the next two installments. This urban fantasy is a wild ride of twists and fairytale problems!

FACoverWhen it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…

Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.

Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…

 ~~~

A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle. Visit JC Nelson at:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Pinterest | Free Agent on GoodReads

On release day only, JC is offering a Rafflecopter giveaway of 1 Signed Print copy of Free Agent, 4 electronic copies of Free Agent.

But I wouldn’t wait! Buy Free Agent now on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

~~~

Want to read a chapter?  Here’s the first!

Free Agent by JC Nelson

One

The New Year’s Eve countdown told me I had five minutes until the ball drop. That gave me six minutes until somebody got killed. I spotted the shoplifter in line at the theater and worked my way across the street, through the teeming crowd. She had no idea what she was wearing, which made her both stupid and dangerous. Stupid was dangerous enough by itself.

“Marissa, I might remind you of the time,” said a man’s voice. It came right out of the store window beside me, the dry voice with its not-quite-English accent. He watched me with critical eyes.

“I got it, Grimm.” I walked along the theater line, head down.

His image followed me, reflecting from the windows and even the brass banister knobs that held the velvet rope. “I’ll believe that when you actually do.”

Call it women’s intuition, or maybe the slippers she wore tipped her off, but the shoplifter turned and looked right at me. Our eyes met, and she knew why I was there, if not who I was. As the crowd surged forward, she ducked into the theater, disappearing into the throng.

“God Damsel-it.” I spat out the faint taste of soap. “Doesn’t count, not a real curse.”

“Watch your language, young lady. Only proper women live happily ever after. Now, go get those slippers back.” Grimm appeared in the ticket window, beckoning me on.

If I had enough Glitter to buy a happily ever after, I wouldn’t have spent all day chasing a thief. There were easier ways to make a living, and definitely safer ways.

I breathed in the warm lobby air, laced with enough butter, fat, and salt to make me gain a couple of pounds just from walking through.

The ticket man watched me as I approached, jiggling my leg. “I’ve got to go. Could you save my spot in line?”

He rolled his eyes, the apex of teenage angst, and motioned me past. I’d been to my fair share of balls and knew where I’d go if I had a pair of shoes that were killing my feet. I headed straight to the bathroom. Nobody in the prep area, but I listened. There, soft sobbing, and the click of high heels on ceramic.

“The slippers won’t come off like that.” I hoped I wasn’t talking to a Grandma, but the sobbing cut off.

Grimm coalesced into the mirrored wall, his white hair framing the bald spot on his head. He looked at me over horn-rimmed glasses that masked eyebrows like a yeti’s. “Marissa, two minutes.”

If I’d had something handy, I’d have thrown it at the mirror. In the name of not having a magical disaster, I decided to commit the cardinal sin of the ladies room. I tried the stall door. As my hand touched it, the door burst open, hitting me in the face. Pain made the world flash white. I put my hand to my nose and felt the blood as she dashed out of the restroom. Grimm told me the shoes were enchanted, but the fact that she could run in three-inch heels meant serious magic. Now I knew I had the right girl. In the lobby, the fire alarms wailed as I came out of the bathroom, and I caught a glimpse of her running out. I charged after her, through the fire exit and into the alley.

I wasn’t afraid of your average dark alley. I had standard Agency-issue spells in my coat and a nine millimeter in my purse for dealing with the less dangerous pests, but even I knew you have to be careful with an upset woman.

She pulled at her feet and limped down the alley. “I’m not giving them back.”

No way was she going to outrun me. Tennis shoes might not be the height of fashion, but I wore them for their practicality. I slipped a bag out of my pocket. “This will let me take them off. You can’t remove them because you stole them.”

She stumbled, then slumped against the wall, her feet out in front of her. Passing taillights made the glass slippers glisten, moving and shifting, like something alive. That made sense, since Grimm said they were. The glass filled with red, like she’d cut her toe. The bloodstain spread up the sides of the glass and she began to gurgle and cry.

I pulled out my pocket compact. “Grimm, I might have a problem.”

“Tell me you have them.”

“Just about.”

“Get out of there, Marissa. She’s not going to turn into a pumpkin.” His voice was firm and commanding. I’d never been the type to listen to firm or commanding. See, there was this thing about magic slippers. Use them with permission, and at midnight the whole deal expired. Steal them from a custom boutique on Fifth, and at midnight turning into a vegetable was the least of your worries.

She curled into a ball, kicking, growling, and making noises I’d never heard outside of the labor and delivery room. Running through the theater was out; heading back in there would introduce a whole load of teens to a different kind of monster than the movie ones. The loading bays down at the end of the alley didn’t look too promising, and now Princess PMS rose to her feet. The bloodred stains covered her from head to toe. Shadows covered her face, but where the orange wash of the street lights hit her she looked maroon.

“You want to let me help you?” I asked. The growling noise she made ruled out diplomacy. “Okay, we do it my way.”

She leaped at me. I’d mastered seven different forms of self-defense and I wore all four of the major protection charms, but one thing was constant: Whether my assailant was a drug addict or a bridge troll, pepper spray would leave them blind. So I ducked out of the way and gave her a dash of the scent I was sampling that day. It hit her like a brick, leaving her clawing at her eyes. I realized as she stumbled past that her nails were now at least three inches long and razor sharp.

She started sniffing the air, then like a dog, she ran straight into me, knocking me back to the Dumpster. Dumpsters hurt. I caught her arm before she could give me surprise plastic surgery and slammed her into the ground, pinning her underneath me.

That should have ended it, but she rolled over, throwing me to the side, and I barely stepped out of the way of those nails. She kicked at me and I caught her foot.

“Gotcha,” I said, rubbing the shoes with the bag. Grimm said the bag was made of genuine werewolf fur, but whatever it was, the effect was immediate. She thrashed and choked and kicked and I held on tight until she went limp. The slippers came off in my hand without a fight.

They glimmered under the streetlight, and for a moment I saw an image form in them: Me, walking down the street in them. No Agency bracelet on my wrist, a bag from shopping in my hand. I could be free, if only I put them on.

“Marissa,” said Grimm, speaking from the reflection in the shoes, “put them in the bag.”

I did, and the fantasy blew away like dry leaves down the sidewalk. My back hurt where I’d hit the Dumpster. My arm throbbed where she’d grabbed me, and my cheek had that hot feeling that said somewhere in her thrashing, she’d managed to nail me with a foot.

“I’m going home,” I said to my compact mirror. “What do you want me to do with her?”

“Leave her for the police. They’ll be there shortly. Evangeline needs your assistance on the Upper East Side, and there’s the matter of a troll.”

“I’m going home.” I knew full well he’d heard me the first time.

“I’ve got work for you, Marissa, and if you are ever to get your own ever after—”

“The only after I’m interested in right now is after a bottle of wine and after a long night’s sleep. I’ll see you when I’m ready for work.”

“Marissa, you need to ask yourself what you want more: A night’s sleep, or another job.”

I wiped a trace of blood off my lip, took a look at my bruises in the compact. Everything about me ached and the cold seeped out of the shadows into my bones. I put my hand on the bracelet and made my decision. “Tell Evangeline I’m on my way.” Nights like this made me wish I’d never gotten started in this business.

Talent To Burn

Today’s the day my friend and writing chapter mate releases her debut novel!

laurawelling_headshot

Please welcome Laura Welling to the ranks of published authors with Talent To Burn, the first in her Urban Fantasy series Hidden Talents. It’s my favorite kind of hero, a con man who’s now on the right side – but aren’t little slips into the past inevitable? He’s determined to help the heroine, they both have paranormal gifts, and best of all, the characters return in book two! I hate letting go of people I’ve come to love. Laura has ingnited a winner of a book!

TalentToBurn72web

TALENT TO BURN by LAURA WELLING

Passion burns. Betrayal scars.

Cat Wilson grew up a misfit among misfits. She couldn’t read minds, see the future, or start fires like the other Talented kids inside the shadowy Grey Institute. Finally she ran, leaving her beloved brother, Eric, behind. She’s been running ever since.

When she learns that Eric has escaped, leaving deadly fires in his wake, Cat is torn between fear for her brother, and unwanted attraction to the messenger, a charming, Talented ex-con who lives for the next adrenaline rush.

Jamie Murphy is sure his group of outcast Talents can help Eric—if they can get to him before the cops or the Institute, and before he kills again. Cat’s aversion to Talented bad boys is like a wall of ice, but to his surprise, he doesn’t have to use an ounce of his own unique gift to find a way through it.

Yet locating Eric is only the beginning. In the battle to pull him back from the brink, Cat must find the courage to unlock a fearsome Talent of her own. And pray the psychic backdraft doesn’t destroy everyone she loves.

~~~

When’s she’s not writing, Laura Welling wears a lot of other hats: mother, farmer, and software engineer. She’s Australian but lives in the United States on a horse farm, which she shares with her family, an over-sized dog, and various horses, cats and chickens. She is a compulsive reader of all genre fiction, who started reading before the age of two, and never stopped. She wrote her first “book” when she was five—a spy story, which has since been joined in a bottom drawer by various other early attempts.

Talent To Burn was inspired by some of her favorite stories: Anne McCaffrey’s science fiction novels, Marvel’s X-Men comics, and The X-Files television series.

Laura can be found at her blog, Twitter and Facebook! And Talent To Burn is available pretty much wherever you like to download:

Samhain | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Update on The Writer’s Voice

I didn’t get to the next round, but it was a fun run at the start. So many great queries and first pages! I’ve learned lots by reading them and watching what the team leaders picked. Annette T. Dodd has a summation of the picks on her website.

Per past participants’ advice, I’m keeping my query up (next post below) because some folks are being kind enough to offer comments. Next date in the contest is May 22 to see the polished queries and then watch as the agents vote.

I won a spot in The Writer’s Voice!

I’m thrilled to announce my name was picked via a lottery for The Writer’s Voice Blogfest!

Several blogs have posted how the event works, but Mother. Write. (Repeat.) has been a go-to for me for years for agent interviews, and that’s where I read about the contest, so here’s Krista’s link. (Thanks, Krista!)

Per the instructions, today I post my query and first 250 words. Here we go!

Dear Agent:

PASSAGES is a 108,000 word adult science fantasy romance set on a failing planet being revitalized by a population of electorgs—humans with electronic implants.

After an attack scrambles his memories, Quinn learns he’s the ousted electorg commander of the workforce repairing his planet. In his place, an alien look-alike is stripping the planet of a mineral the natives need to survive and deactivating electorgs along the way. To save the planet and his fellow ‘torgs, Quinn needs allies, but the only person he trusts is the soft-skinned, empathetic ‘torg woman who gave him shelter. He installs a bodyguard program in her system, telling himself she’ll be safe, and that he only wants an ally, not a lover.

Becoming the Commander’s guard 24/7 puts Eve’s life at risk—and not only from alien attack. As a community counselor, she became very involved with the natives and broke an electorg taboo: she fell in love and bore children. Her lover is deceased, but if Quinn’s superiors learn of her forbidden relationship with the natives, Eve could be deactivated. Still, her connection with the natives could hold the key to defeating the aliens, and if she doesn’t trust Quinn with the secret, her native-born children will die. With attraction tightening between her and Quinn, Eve must brave physical and emotional danger to save her children, her love, and the air they breathe.

PASSAGES won the NJRWA Put Your Heart In A Book Contest, and finaled in FF&P’s On the Far Side Contest and in KOD’s Unpublished Daphne du Maurier Contest. I have served on the board in my local RWA chapter, and participate in several special interest chapters and a critique group.

Following is my manuscript’s first 250 words. Thank you for taking time to consider my work.

Sincerely,

Laurel Wanrow

 

Chapter One

Quinn

The city of Cavvert

Another morning, another motel room, and my brother was still missing.

I slung my travel pack over my shoulder and shoved the lapels of my field jacket together against the chill mountain air. My cheeks stung beneath my beard, and my eyes watered, reminding me I’d best brace for both the cold and another search of another town. I strode the length of the old motel building to the street, where my grandmother waited, bundled in her tan jacket over travel clothes.

“Morning,” I called. “What backwater town are we off to today?”

Graen wasn’t listening. I followed her gaze past the quaint eateries and shops surrounding the snow-patched green. Across the town square, a line of people waited alongside flatbeds of shipping boxes at the Conducer station.

Four helmeted Blackguards emerged from the station’s door. A fifth waved the travelers aside while the guards in their black polymer armor marched to the nearest flatbed. Each hoisted a box and carried it back inside, their stun swords swinging from their weapon belts.

My gut twisted at the sight of so many electorg guards. “They’ve requisitioned this passenger station for cargo transport.” I shook my head. “Trust a ‘torg to put equipment before the needs of the natives.”

“Quinn, hush,” hissed Graen. “We’ve got to get past those people.”

I dropped my glare from the Blackguard barring the transporter station’s entrance. “Electronic humanoids aren’t people. Not anymore.”

 

Thanks for reading and following this exciting blogfest! It’s being tracked on twitter at #TheWVoice, and I’m @laurelwanrow

So not to bury my entry, I will update all the fun sites here: Brenda Drake has posted The List. Stats have been compiled by Annette T. Dodd at her website. (I am the only Adult SFR!) Happy reading!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

Back in March I attended the NOVA Teen Book Festival. Ellen Oh was one of the speakers on the identity panel and today I stumbled across the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign she is spearheading. Please check it out on twitter or facebook. What an exciting thing to happen for literature, for people of all ages!

More information on the campaign is covered in this Publishers Weekly article.

How to move a creek

Laurel Wanrow:

I have been MIA for several months on my blogs. In early September a disastrous flood event hit the small Colorado town where I own a cabin built by my Dad in the 1950’s. Since then I’ve spent half my time in Jamestown participating in recovery efforts. Read more about Jamestown and how you can help: http://jamestownco.org

Originally posted on Jamestown Connect:

Here is a handy guide on how to move a creek as documented in photographs by Laurel Wanrow.

Step 1: Place big yellow thing in post-Jamestown flood creek and start digging

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Step 2: Tidy-up post-flood creek

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Step 3: Dig channel for new creek

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Step 4: Divert water to new creek

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Step 5: Grade the road where the post-flood creek used to be

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Step 6: Welcome town-folk to the new Ward Road with creek back were it started before the Jamestown flood

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View original

2013 Put Your Heart in a Book Contest

Congratulations to my fellow finalists in the 2013 Put Your Heart in a Book contest! This event for unpublished writers is sponsored by the New Jersey Romance Writers. The winners will be announced at the NJRWA Conference October 18th.

Historical
Sacha Devine – The Ring
Laurie Benson – A Proper Scandal*
Patricia Kratina – The Viscount With a Wicked Wink

Paranormal
Nadine Mutas – Blood, Pain, and Pleasure
Mary Ann Worden – Heart of Atlantis
Laurel Wanrow – The Farm *

Short Contemporary
Leigh Raffaele – Brewed For Love*
Debora Noone w/a Delsora Lowe – The Rancher Needs a Suitable Wife
Catherine Cervantes – One More Time

Single Title
Pamela Gibson – Perfect Balance
Lena Pinto – True Partners*
Catherine Vignolini – Poser

Young Adult
Amy DeLuca – Four Bullets
Caroline Dunsheath – Last Wishes
McCall Hoyle – The Thing With Feathers

*denotes NJRW member

Contest Final!

I’m please to announce The Farm ( now The Unraveling) has finalled in the NJ Romance Writers’ 2013 Put Your Heart In a Book contest! I entered my steampunk fantasy in the Paranormal category back the end of June, and it’s now gone on to final judging. Winners will be announced at the NJRWA Conference October 18th. It’s a great regional conference; if you’re on the east coast, consider attending.

I’d like to give a shout-out to my fellow writers and crit buddies on Critique Circle. I’ve been working on this New Adult genre novel through this online writing forum and have met a number of great writers there. I regularly exchange critiques with a half dozen of them in the private queues, as well as pop into the public queues, and can’t say enough about how these exchanges have helped me to improve my craft. Check out Critique Circle at www. critiquecircle.com

Pitching Tips

Not the baseball kind, though it is the season. For romance writers, it’s manuscript pitching season, too. The Romance Writers of America National Conference begins this Wednesday in Atlanta, meaning hundreds of aspiring romance authors are gearing up to present their manuscript, either formally at an appointment, or casually somewhere–anywhere–an agent or editor might be found.  Pitching your book, a which every writer must do, either through a written query letter or in person, is a bit stressful, so it’s best to have a sentence or two prepared in advance. (Preparing this logline, by the way, is another whole topic!)

Of course, nothing beats practicing to alleviate nervousness. You can say your pitch out loud to your mirror, to a friend or loved one, or if you are really brave, to a stranger. At a recent workshop I co-presented, we took the practice one step further. For our Maryland Romance Writers meeting, Laura Welling and I recruited seasoned pitchers to act as editors and agents.

Pitch practice at Maryland Romance Writers

Our aspiring authors look rather happy for what could be a stressful event–and you could, too! Here are our tips for the actual event:

- Introduce yourself, and shake hands if you like to do that. Thank the agent or editor for taking time for pitches.

- Sit down.

- Do not be alarmed if the agent or editor is still taking notes form the last pitch. They have no break between.

- Because you’ve done your research, tell the agent, ‘I chose to pitch to you because____ (you represent____, your blog gave ___info, I know you work closely on ____and I think that is a great attribute in an agent.) Make it short.

- Tell the person what kind of book you are pitching, and how long it is. This is a good way to get past your nerves. “Today, I am here to tell you about  COWBOY UP. It’s a contemporary western romance, and is around 95,000 words.”

- Then go into your pitch.  Give them your one to three sentences, perhaps starting with your high concept or logline if that’s a good lead-in.

-After you’ve given your intro statement and 3-sentence pitch, stop and smile at the agent/editor. Ask: Do you have further questions? The agent is usually does by this time and this makes the pitch more of a conversation.

-Prepare for those follow up questions! Some are obvious: more about your hero and heroine, the conflict, the black moment, what keeps the romance apart, what cinches it.

-If the agent/editor requests immediately, you do not need to add more. Get the instructions for how to submit, and ask any questions you need to.

-In case time allows, have a conversation starter in your pocket for this particular professional.

It’s ok to end early! When you’re done, go and relax a bit!

Good luck to the writers pitching at the 2013 RWA National Conference!