Ray Bradbury Challenge – Week 2

This post is part of my Ray Bradbury Challenge. Click here to learn more!

Genre: Paranormal
Word Count: 691
Update: Edited as of 7/16/2015

Seeing is BelievingThe Path of Dawn by Consuelo Parra

“You won’t believe. You must see.”

Megan Blake lurched upright on the couch, a cold sheen of sweat covering her face and body.

“Meg.” Her name was a whisper, an echo in her mind.

Mouth agape, Meg swerved her head side to side, searching for the source of the voice. “Meredith?” She stood and gawked through the high, floor-to-ceiling windows of their family vacation cabin. At the edge of the forest, the ethereal figure of her twin sister beckoned.

“Come. You won’t believe. You must see.” Meredith turned and glided into the woods.

Merry!” Megan kicked the empty Dewar’s bottle with her bare foot and cursed. Shoving her feet into her sneakers, she grabbed her jacket off the back of the couch and dashed through the glass doors, jumping from the porch and bolting across the meadow.

Trees whipped by. Branches slashed her face as she pursued the ghostly visage, always just ahead, always obscured by lanky trunks or offending bushes. When Meg reached the next clearing, she skidded to a stop, windmilling her arms to keep from falling on her face.

“Come. You must see.” Meredith stood at the entrance to the caves.

“Everyone thinks you’re dead!”

 The blood drained from Megan’s face. “No! Don’t go in there! Everyone thinks you’re dead. Just come home.”

Meredith grinned and drifted into the cave.

“No!” She shot after her sister, tears streaming down her cheeks, as she plunged into the darkness. Sliding to a halt, she fumbled with her hip holster and yanked her cellphone free. With shaking hands, she finally accessed the flashlight feature and illuminated the path before her. The craggy walls of the cave were wet and glistening in the artificial light. “Merry!” The name echoed through the rock maze, boomeranging eerie howls. Megan whimpered.

“Come.”

She whirled to the left, shining the light down the passage and igniting Meredith’s eyes to a fiery red.

Her twin grinned, like some demon from a horror flick.

Megan sobbed.

Meredith disappeared down the passage.

“No!” Quivering and keening, she followed her sister. “Merry…please come home. Don’t go any further.” Swallowing the dread weighing her heart, she pressed forward and trudged deeper into the caves. Winding, twisting, turning passages. The startling drips of water. The piercing echo of her sniffles.

Turning another corner, Megan stopped and gasped. She’d reached a dead-end. “Mair?” Inching forward, she shuddered when the light shone on a large gap in the earth. If she hadn’t stopped where she did, she would have fallen into the hole. The light wavered on the jagged walls as her hand trembled.

“You must see.”

Megan shrieked and spun, slamming her back against the sharp rocks.

Meredith stood no more than two feet next to her. Eyes dark and sad, smile forlorn, chestnut brows pinched over her nose. She swept her arm toward the chasm. “You won’t believe. You must see.”

Choking on her sobs, she shook her head. “No. Please, come home with me.”

She arced her arm, once again, toward the dark cavity.

“Blood splattered. Bones cracked. Wails echoed.”

 Megan nodded, dropped to her knees, sniffling and crawling. Her cellphone in her hand, the light pointed toward the blackness ahead, she crept toward the hollow. Her fingers slid across the gritty stone and clutched the ledge. She screamed and threw her hands up to shield her face. Blood splattered. Bones cracked. Wails echoed. Gurgling…moaning…crying…silence.

 Megan curled into a fetal position. “No! No, no, no, no!”

“It’s okay, Meg. Everything’s going to be okay.” Meredith knelt beside Megan and brushed the hair from her brow. “You see? I said you wouldn’t believe. I said you must see. And now we can be together again.”

Megan hitched her breath and squinted at the bright light blinding her from above.

Meredith shifted right and blocked the light. “Take my hand, Meg.”

Megan nodded and grasped Meredith proffered hand. When she stood, she threw her arms around her sister and they both wept and laughed, clinging to each other.

As the twins faded and rose like smoke, the ethereal light shone down into the hole where a cellphone with a cracked screen lay between the twins’ broken bodies, five years decayed, still holding hands.

—————————

Author Notes

Okay, second week is up (and I know…I’m a wee bit late)!! Feedback is encouraged!!

Wow! This story made me cry. And I half-pantsed/half-plotted this one. I used the above picture as a writing prompt. I learned about a new artist – Consuelo Parra – and her digital artwork is an inspiration to me as a graphic designer AND an author. Her pictures invoke stories in my heart, so I’m using them as writing prompts. They’re Gothic and paranormal and they speak to the closet Goth within my soul. PLEASE click on her picture above or the links below and show her some lovin’ by LIKING her page and SHARING it with the world or WATCHING her at DeviantArt. She’s truly talented!

Consuelo Parra – DeviantArt Page & Facebook Page

The picture is titled “The Path of Dawn” and is a recent post on her DeviantArt and Facebook pages, so it caught my attention immediately. It said “ghost story” all over it. I planned the story up until Megan ran into the woods. After that, the characters took over and I was at the edge of my seat, wondering how this story would unfold. I cried writing the ending.

I do hope you enjoy the story as much as I did writing it. IF YOU LIKED THIS STORY, please click the LIKE button below and share this on your favorite social media via the buttons provided below. THANK YOU!

That’s my two pence,

Arial 😉

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Quarterly Winner & Updates

Quarterly Winner

This quarter’s winner of the $50 gift card is…..*drum roll*

Cindy

Sorry, no last name is provided on her account, but I’ve contacted her via e-mail and Cindy has selected the $50 Barnes & Noble gift card option! Congratulations!!!!!

FYI – Over the last year or so since I started the VIP Club, I’ve been conducting a quarterly drawing of $50 for those who joined. Everyone who is a member of the club is automatically entered into the drawing every three months. However, most of my very devoted members have expressed that the money is nice, but that’s not why they joined. They joined because they love my books, they love vampires and they love the vampire freebies – short stories, graphics and special announcements. So effective immediately, I will no longer be doing the Quarterly Drawings. However…there are other opportunities! Keep reading…

New Subscriber Lists

I’ve done some reorganization on my site and added a few more lists based on some reader requests. Some people ONLY want to know when I have a New Release. Others want to be part of a Review Team. And many have asked about whether or not I have a Street Team. As such, I’ve created new lists and you can pick and choose which ones you’d like to subscribe to. CLICK HERE to see information on each of these lists.

ML-streetteamWith that being said, I’ve decided to redirect the quarterly funds to the Street Team, which is the core function and purpose of the quarterly drawings – to help me spread the news about my books. The more you participate in the weekly activities, the more chances you have of winning. I’m still ironing out the details, so I won’t have anything for Street Team Members right away, but I’m accepting sign-ups now.

How to Sign-up for the New Lists

If you’re already a member of my VIP Club, then CLICK HERE to modify your membership options to join any of the above mentioned lists (you may need to login). If you’re NOT a member of my VIP Club, then CLICK HERE to sign-up and you’ll see the new options available on the registration form.

ML-reviewteamNOTE: If you ONLY want to receive notifications of new releases and you’re already subscribed to the VIP Club, change your subscriptions to New Releases ONLY and DE-SELECT the VIP Club list option when you edit your profile. I’ll be double checking as people enroll for this list, to be sure this is the ONLY list you’re subscribed to. If you’re new to subscribing and you want this option, ONLY select this option. Thank you!

BBB05_mysteryWhere is Book 5??????

I’ve been getting this question a lot and I know you all are waiting for the next exciting and sexy adventure for Broderick and Davina. The good news is, I have the entire book plotted! The bad news is, I don’t want to start writing it until I have Book 6 plotted. I’m not exactly sure what Book 6 has in store yet and I want to be sure I’ve planted little tidbits in Book 5 for properly setting up the novel.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a release date yet. Just so you all know, I’ve had to put my writing aside for a few months. We’re in the middle of prepping our house to sell and we’ll be moving. My mother – the Home Improvement Queen – was here for the entire month of June to help me and though we got a lot done…I still have a LOT of work to do yet. I’m talking tearing out ceilings, knocking down walls, and remodeling the kitchen and bathroom so we can hope to make a decent profile on the house to help us afford the move.

Where are we moving to? I’ll have to make that announcement as soon as we know. I have no idea how long it will take me to do all this and my husband is only available on the weekends to help me do the real hefty work because he works at least 9 hours a day and commutes 6 hours a day (3 hours EACH WAY). Precious darlin’ is tuckered out by the time he gets home and I don’t blame him. As such, the rest of the work will be up to me, much to his disappointment and dismay. He wants to be here so badly, but can’t get the time off work. :(

Sneak Peak – Midnight Savior

 However, I CAN give you a sneak peak of Book 5. Now remember, this is first draft stuff, so it’s far from polished. This is fairly close to the opening of the book. *Drum roll*

CLICK HERE TO READ A SNEAK PEAK!

 I’m anxious to hear your comments, so leave them below and I look forward to interacting with you!!! Until then…

That’s my two pence..

Arial 😉

Summer Lovin’ Reader Party 2015 – WOO HOO!

 

website-slide-05I cannot TELL you how excited I am to go to the Summer Lovin’ Reader Party in Temecula, California!!!! Well…perhaps I can try, or this will end up being a very short blog post! But first, let me give you the link to get tickets AND it’s $5 OFF during this blog hop!!! CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!!!!

Here’s the Facebook Page and the website and we have a TON of giveaways during this blog hop to share about the event. Each author on the tour is having their own giveaway, so be sure to visit each stop along the way. This is the group giveaway…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And this is MY giveaway…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WHAT is the Summer Lovin’ Reader Party?

In short, the Summer Lovin’ Reader Party is an annual a vacation for authors and readers! This year, it will be on June 13, 2015, but some of us are making a whole weekend of the experience, just as I did last year. If you’re going or considering attending this event, I would highly recommend you arrive on Friday afternoon…or at least in time for dinner and depart on Sunday afternoon. Last year, we went to the Karl Strauss Brewery on the Friday night before the event and had a BALL!! Delicious food and great company!

Saturday is the big event – a book signing in the afternoon and a night of partying, dancing, wine and hors d’oeuvres!!!

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa - location of the Summer Lovin' Reader Party 2015

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa – Spa area

 

WHERE is the Summer Lovin’ Reader Party?

This is one of the best parts of the trip. Last year AND this year, the party is at The South Coast Winery Resort & Spa. Yup! You read that right – RESORT & SPA! Be sure to visit that link to see pictures and what they have to offer. OMG this place is not only gorgeous and situation in the beautiful Temecula Wine Country AND is surrounded by miles of quiet and peaceful wineries and countryside, you can book a massage, a facial, sit by the pool, get a mud bath, sit in the sauna or the whirlpool, get a mani and/or pedi…you name it! What a perfect getaway weekend!! AND we’ll be staying in one of their villas, so lovely bubbling whirlpool bathtub, wet bar, living room area, complimentary bottle of wine…the works. Dream vacation! *sigh*

WHO will be at the Summer Lovin’ Reader Party?

THIS is the best part of this event – READERS AND AUTHORS! I LOVED meeting some of my fans who came to my signing table, all excited that they were members of my VIP Club! It was great to put a face to the names of my devoted readers! And I had such a great time with my friends Catherine Bybee & Heather Lyons and I made so many new author friends, like Julie Prestsater (who organizes the event) & Beverly Preston, just to name a few. CLICK HERE for a complete list of all the amazing authors attending AND the schedule.

If you’re not going to this, you should! And if you can’t make it this year, plan to go next year. This is turning into THE Author/Reader event of the year. No workshops. Just meet and greet and wine and fun and partying in beautiful Temecula! It is SO worth the trip!!!

See you there!!

Hugs,

Arial 😀

 

Spring Cleaning, Maintenance & Updates

Arial Burnz - VIP Club MaintenanceAs usual, I try to do some spring cleaning on my website, delete inactive or spammy-looking accounts and other such tedious and boring webmistress maintenance on the technical side of the site.

New Mailing List Features!

This year, I’m updating my site to handle mailing list directly through my site instead of through MailChimp. MailChimp has been good to me, but as I near the 2000 member mark on my list, the monthly costs are a bit out of my budget right now. I will, instead, be using a fabulous plugin called “Newsletters” by Tribulant Software. These guys are great and their product is much more affordable.

Possible Repeat E-mails – SORRY! :\

eReader-BBB01HOWEVER, switching over to this new system is not only taking some time (I have to recreate all of those nifty automatic e-mails that go out when you reach those milestones in your VIP Club subscription), but it might create a few hiccups. I am working with Tribulant to be sure there are as little of those as possible, but be forewarned…you might get some repeat e-mails. I apologize in advance!

FREEBIES Will Be Attached!

Continue reading

Midnight Conquest – NOW AVAILABLE ON AUDIBLE!

BBB01_audiobook_withheadphonesOMG!!! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! I’m so excited (can’t you tell?) that the first book in my series, Midnight Conquest, is now available in audiobook format! *Arial throws confetti*

For those of you who do not have an Audible account, you’re missing out on enjoying fabulous audiobooks!! It’s only $14.95 per month and you get a credit each month. 1 credit buys 1 audiobook. I usually save up my credits and then splurge on sales they have – buy one get one free happens a LOT. So books that are normally $25, you only get them for $14.95 because you can spend your credits on them. It’s AWESOME! And then they have GREAT sales for audiobooks that are sometimes less than $5 – members only sales. So audiobooks really can be affordable!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD MIDNIGHT CONQUEST TODAY!!!

If you’ve been waiting to read audiobooks but thought they were too expensive…think again! And if you’re joining for the first time now, PLEASE consider making Midnight Conquest one of the books you get with your free credits when you join! You’ll actually help me and David earn a little commission for all the hard work we’ve done for free to get this book up and running. 

Promo Codes for Prizes

The book just became live a day or two ago and I was waiting for the codes before I made the announcement. But I still haven’t heard back from Audible yet. For those of you who have won an audiobook in recent promotions, I’m working on it! I promise!! As soon as I have those codes, I’ll send you a message with instructions on how to claim your audiobook. Thank you for your patience!!

Hot for the Holidays Sale!!

I just sent out a newsletter announcing a multi-author sale that’s happening all this week! Don’t miss out on the deals from BESTSELLING Paranormal authors!!! Here’s the link to the newsletter in full: http://eepurl.com/bdQM-H

BBB01_audiobook_withheadphonesHEAD’S UP

I’ll be having a release day party for the audiobook version of MIDNIGHT CONQUEST in a couple of weeks. I’ll make the announcement next week once I’ve locked down a date and my guests. Be sure to become a VIP member to get those announcements.

Toodles!!!

Wolf Pack Link Correction – OOPS!

facepalmI just sent out a mailing list newsletter and learned from some of my members that the links to the Wolf Pack 4000 Member Bash event on Facebook were not working. I just realized that the event doesn’t seem to be available to those who are not members of the Wolf Pack. If you’d like to be a member, it’s FREE!! Just CLICK HERE to join!!

I can’t send out another e-mail via my mailing list today. I’ve reached my limit, so I’ll send out the correction tomorrow. The giveaways are open until Friday, so people should still be able to participate.

Sorry for the inconvenience and confusion!

Hugs,

Arial 😉

Bonded By Blood #Playlist and #SALE!!!

Midnight Eclipse - Book 4 of the Bonded By Blood Vampire ChroniclesMidnight Eclipse will be on sale for 99 CENTS at Amazon only – February 4-14 – in celebration of St. Valentine’s Day!!! Woot! If you haven’t bought my latest release, now’s the time to pick it up! SAVE THE DATE!

It MIGHT end up being on sale February 3rd – depends on when Amazon does the update. I just put it on sale and it takes anywhere from 12-48 hours for changes to post. So check Amazon tomorrow to see if the new price has posted.

Bonded By Blood Playlist

I also just created a page with a list of the songs from the CD Fallen by Evanescence. Along with the clips of the songs (can’t post the whole song due to copyright), I’ve posted the lyrics to the music AND notes describing how each of these songs apply to my characters.

SPOILER ALERT!

Be advised that reading the notes I make about the songs will reveal spoilers to many of the books in the series, including the ones I haven’t written yet! So if you haven’t read any of my books, I wouldn’t advise reading the notes…unless you like spoilers. CLICK HERE to see the Bonded By Blood Playlist.

I’ll be adding new music as I find it – like the complete songs I’m using for the audiobooks and a song I’ve picked out I’m titling “Davina’s Song”. I’ll keep you posted!!

Enjoy!!!

Midnight Conquest – Audiobook Almost Here!

Midnight Conquest - AudiobookAudiobook Production Almost Done!

SQUEEE!!!! The audiobook for Midnight Conquest is almost done. We had some delays over the holidays and since I’m producing it myself (with the assistance of my fabulous narrator, David Monteath), the delays were due to me and holiday schedules. As some of you  may have heard, Sony Pictures Entertainment was hacked just before Thanksgiving and my husband is in one of the key departments responsible for getting the company’s computers back up and running again. Holy bananas, what a freakin’ nightmare! He’s been working 12 hours a day, six days a week since the hack and only had Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days off, with an isolated day or two here and there either working from home or off of work. Well, unfortunately, it took it’s toll on him and he’s been home sick for the last two and a half weeks. Our household was pretty much turned upside down because of this cyberattack. Fuckers. Pardon the language, but geez.

Anyway, we’re back on track again and almost done with the final edits of the audiobook. My apologies to those who have been waiting for their prizes, where I’ve awarded this audiobook in some recent promotions and events. It’s coming! I promise!!

To give you a taste of the audiobook, I’m now releasing (below) the 5-minute sample that will be on Audible once the audiobook is live. You’ll get to hear David’s AWESOME Scottish accent and Broderick MacDougal will finally have a voice!!!!! Cross your legs, ladies, so you can bear the heat!! I’ve been swooning over here listening to the hunky Scottish Vampire I’ve been writing about for so many years. Just so you know, the quality you’ll get when you get the actual audiobook will be better. I had to take the quality down just to get it to upload and play on my site. Enjoy!!! Drum roll…..

BBB01 Sample

 

The music, titled “Celtic Flame” by Stathum Summers at AudioJungle, is what you’ll hear at the beginning of each chapter. I hope it lends some Scottish atmosphere to the novels. Click on the title of the song to hear the whole version. I hope to be posting some other music on my site for a soundtrack to my books.

You may notice the cover above says, “New Adult Version.” As a reminder, I’ve edited the text of the book for a “softer” version of the sexual encounters, so…unfortunately…you won’t be getting all the glistening-folds details you’d get in the full eBook/printed novel. I did this to not only save my poor narrator from having to read the erotic scenes (LOL), but also to open my books to a younger audience. Instead of this being the X-rated version of my novels, the audiobook will be the NC-17 version, so parental discretion is still advised. 

I hope you enjoy this sample of the upcoming audiobook. Again, thank you all for your patience!! I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Woo hoo!!! Please leave comments below! I’d love to hear what you think.

Cheers!

Arial 😀

Nicholas Sparks Gets Divorced – Love is Dead?

Nicholas Sparks - TMZ.com photoIs Nicholas Sparks Divorce the End of True Love?

Of course it isn’t the end of true love! But you’d think it was if you listened to all the Twitter chatter about Mr. Sparks’s separation and pending divorce with his wife of 25 years. I’m just flabbergasted at the drivel that people are spewing because this bestselling romance novelist’s marriage didn’t work. Here are some of the ridiculous quotes flashing around the Twittersphere and I don’t want to put the author credits because they just don’t deserve the attention – but you can do searches on Twitter for them yourself if you’re interested.

  • “PSA: I was just informed that nicholas sparks got a divorce so basically love is dead”
  • Nicholas Sparks is getting a divorce and love is officially dead.”
  • “Nicholas Sparks is getting a divorce?! There’s no hope for love :(“
  • Nicholas Sparks got a divorce this week so basically there’s no hope for any of us”

I could continue, but I’m sure you get the point.

Reality Check

As a romance novelist myself, and having been through two divorces AND now in a very successful and healthy relationship, I think I have a pretty solid soap box on which to stand. Since this is my website, I’ll take the liberty of climbing on top of said makeshift podium and pontificate. TRUE LOVE IS NOT DEAD. I know because I’m living it. MUCH of the romance in my books is based on the true love principles I’m sharing in this article. I’ve said many times before, my husband is the heart that beats within Broderick MacDougal, the main character in my Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles.

How bloody absurd it is that people are taking this leap just because Nicholas Sparks had problems in his love life! BUT it highlights how unrealistic people are about love today. I’ll make a couple of important points I’ve learned the hard way through the years: Continue reading