Teaser Tuesday

*It’s the final edition of Teaser Tuesday for Breathing Ghosts. Check out the latest excerpt below.*

I was standing on the beach, her note twisted in my grip. We’d barely spoken in a week but then I was leaving work and I saw the strip of paper tucked underneath my windshield. It said to meet her. That she was sorry. And yet there I was, watching the waves lap at her from a distance, hair already wet and hanging down her back, as if I was the one who should be sorry.

Because I’d said no.

She’d asked me for one thing. To go with her. And I’d said no.

I finally waded out to where she was waiting on the first sand bar.

After a long pause she said, “I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

She reached for my hand and I reached back.

“I’m sorry too,” I said.

“Don’t,” she stopped me.

We waded out a little farther and she floated onto her back. I watched the night ripple over her, stars flush to her skin. She slipped out of her bathing suit, the fabric floating there atop the water as the moon pooled across her skin, light bleeding into her navel, down between her breasts.

My fingers crawled across her skin and she pulled me under. I found her lips, bodies pouring into one another while the light danced above our heads. She led me toward the air again, her eyes catching the night’s flame, flickering there in the dark.

“Do you think this is what it feels like?” she said.


“Do you think this is what it feels like to be dead?”

“What do you mean?”

She kicked, floating onto her back again, stars tangled in her hair.

“This drifting. I bet it’s warm. I bet it feels like a wave pulling you away from shore.”

“No,” I said, afraid.

“Do you think there are stars? Do you think you can get tangled in them?”

“There’s no heaven for stars.”

She stood, facing the moon. “Unless that’s it.”

“Maybe,” I said, still watching her.

“Maybe. Sometimes I wish I could remember,” she said. “Like maybe it would give me permission to be sad. Like maybe then Mari wouldn’t hate me.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“Do you think she’ll ever forgive me?”

Then I remembered what day it was. The day her father had died.

“You don’t need that from her,” I said.

“Yes I do,” Nia breathed. “Today I do.”

Tears slid down her neck and into the water. I reached for her.

“I hope this is what it’s like.”

Nia held her breath, letting go of my hand, and then I watched her sink


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Chicken–It’s what’s for dinner

Alright, alright. So I have a confession to make. Orphans of Paradise was supposed to be uploaded and ready to go this weekend but then I sort of had a panic attack (figuratively but painful nonetheless) and I kind of chickened out.

It was mostly caused by all of the usual fears. You know: rejection, failure, disappointing the people I care about, being heckled by strangers, poverty, being forced to do those timed math trials for the rest of eternity or to only use public bathrooms, sharks, ghosts, tornadoes. It just sort of all piled up at once and I couldn’t hit upload.

But then I realized, besides the sharks and the tornadoes, all of those other trepidations are pretty much ridiculous. Not to mention inevitable the longer I prolong publishing my second book (well maybe not the math). Because isn’t stalling a form of failure in and of itself? It’s not quite quitting but it’s not quite finishing either. It’s the dreaded in between, a place in which I never wish to become comfortable. Because nothing happens there. Dreams don’t come true there.

Dreams come true when you get shit done. When you finish. So I am. I’m finished with the self-doubt and I’m finished with this story. And whether or not I can bury the fear under enough chocolate and cheesecake, it will be available this weekend. So keep your eyes peeled and please enjoy the final teaser from my second novel, Orphans of Paradise.

In the dark, sounds swelled and took shape—grating across Camilla’s skin, sliding cold down her back. Her ears burned, twisted beneath the blindfold pressed tight to her face, and then all she could hear was her pulse. The knot dug into her hairline, a few strands caught in the fabric and she rubbed her neck along the back of her seat trying to rip them free.

Someone placed a hand on her knee, his thumb pressed hard to her bone as the paved road gave way to a manic emptiness. They pulled to a stop, a hand reaching for her arm, gripping her tight. She stumbled out after them, her hand sweeping across some frozen grass, the dew burning cold against her fingertips. She was pushed forward and then she felt the cold, dank darkness pouring over her.

They threw her against the wall and she slumped to the floor. They ripped off her blindfold but it was still dark, their silhouettes lit only by the small glow of a cell phone as they searched for the light switch. Suddenly a flame swelled from the center of the room, cutting the space in lucid shards. It burned and Camilla closed her eyes, trying to hear past the buzzing of the breaker box.

Soiled colors peeled down the walls in long petrified drips. Her hands bound behind her were numb, her head spinning as something slid to her throat, thick and dry at the back of her tongue. That smell still hung on the edge of her lips. But there was a fervency to it, something raw and wild.

A dark ribbon cut between her legs, spilling into the cracks along the floor. And there was so much. There was too much. Camilla leaned forward, heaving, trying not to look, to breathe. But in the corner of her eye there was a shadow slumped against the wall, the girl’s arms wrangled in the same position.

She turned her face, meeting Camilla’s eyes, letting her see her. And Camilla didn’t want to see. She didn’t want to count the bodies, she didn’t want to know. But then, against everything inside her, she turned to the mangled mess on the floor and looked.

Teaser Tuesday

Rani sat on the floor, back stiff against a cold concrete wall. She pressed her hand to her mouth, breathing into her palm, thick wisps trailing out from between her fingers. They’d led her up a narrow flight of stairs, cold air spilling past them in a rush, before hurling her into that dark, empty room.  There was no heat on the second floor of the building and the ceilings were low—an attic space refashioned into a prison cell.  She wasn’t sure how long she’d been sitting there but she could feel her limbs growing tight.

She stuffed her fingers into the waist of her jeans, trying to warm them, even though the skin there was just as frozen, every inch of her trembling.  She faced the door, scanning the wide seams for a flash of light, of shadow. She could hear their steps downstairs, dull and heavy, and she waited for them to draw closer, to manifest just outside her door.

Rani thought about Max, about the three of them huddled in that church doorway while he tried to remember the way back.  As long as they don’t come for me, she thought, as long as they stay away, they’ll be safe.  She wondered if they’d seen them take her or if they were still out there, searching every street and storefront, empty buildings and alleyways—covering every inch of a city they still didn’t recognize like those first few nights when they realized Nadia was gone.

She hoped that they weren’t—that they were still, that they were safe, that they were warm.  Max wouldn’t risk it, she told herself, he’ll find somewhere for them to stay.  They’ll be ok. She tried to think about the sky, tried to imagine it—wide and infinite and strung above her head. She tried to hold onto it, to that invisible horizon line flecked with translucent clouds.They’ll be ok. But the words settled there at the back of her throat—raw and ripping her open and for the first time she stopped fighting the cold—growing still, sinking, until it was the only thing she could feel.


It’s Christmas Day! And believe it or not it’s snowing!!  My first trip home in six months started out like this:

Yes, good ole West Texas, just how I remember it, nose bleeds and all. But it looks like the haboob’s finally moved on and it finally almost feels like the holidays!  But what says Christmas time more than snow?  Waiting. Tis’ the season for waiting—waiting to fall asleep, waiting to open gifts, waiting for the food to be ready, waiting for that awkward silence that accompanies every family gathering when someone accidentally mentions that one mentally unstable member of the family who has recently given up bathing. But this year I’ve also been waiting for this incessant pain that’s been radiating from my jaw bone to just between my eyes to finally subside (yes I made the horrible decision to have my wisdom teeth removed mere days before Christmas and no I didn’t do it to stave off the dreaded 5 pounds I had expected to gain while on vacation, although it has seemed to help…a little—unfortunately brownies seem to be one food that a recently excavated mouth can actually tolerate) and I’ve been waiting for the first unbiased reactions to my novel, advanced copies of which were recently sent to reviewers.

Fortunately the combination of an empty stomach and high doses of hydro codeine have kept my mind in sort of this spinning symphony of blah and I haven’t had the chance to really absorb the fact that right now, at this very second, someone, somewhere could be reading my book.

Could be. Probably aren’t but might be soon. It’s a reality now but instead of lingering in that anticipation and imagining every worst-case scenario, I’m doing this:

That’s my dog

Oh and this:

The brownies exploded

Anyone else spending Christmas day in editing purgatory? Or are you all outside building snowmen and stuffing your faces and a million other things that would be way more fun.  By the way, just in case you need another Christmas present (because you know you deserve one), why not enter my giveaway to win a copy of The Things They Didn’t Bury, set to release on December 31st. It’s free, takes two seconds, and since I’m giving away 100 copies it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll be getting your hands on one soon!


Oh and how about one FINAL TEASER to hold you over until Monday!

Liliana felt something warm trickle into her eyes and her fingers searched her scalp for the wound. She winced, plucking tiny flakes of glass from the cut as she tried to open her eyes. She saw Diego, lips taught as he tried to wedge himself free from behind the steering wheel. She smelled the dust as the van’s tires sent it swirling into the cab. She heard the door crack open, the sharp cock of the gun and then all she could do was crawl into the crook of Diego’s arm, her face pressed to his mouth as she waited for them to take her.


Happy Late Thanksgiving!

So being that this was my first official Thanksgiving away from home I expected to be curled up on the couch with a vat of ice cream between my knees while I cried my eyes out watching the Charlie Brown holiday special.  But instead the BF and I decided to buy way too much food and spend the morning tackling some of our family’s recipes.  It was weird, and a little sad, but also a lot of fun, and strangely liberating.

Yes there are only two of us.  And yes we ate everything in four days (including the cheesecake in the fridge).  But don’t worry, stuffing my face isn’t all I did over the break.  I’ve also been heads down editing Top Secret Book #2 (yes, you heard me right).  So, stay tuned for more on that in the upcoming weeks!!!

Oh and how about a special late Thanksgiving day TEASER!!!

She wasn’t ready to read more, for the illusion to be completely shattered. Instead, she was ready to try and settle into her life here; she was ready to make friends and to start school. Maybe that would start tonight with Jo or Diego. She didn’t feel like the same ghost she’d been in the States, absorbing her lecture notes and the pin thin type of her textbooks with more ferocity than she did any kind of social interaction. She had always been distant from her classmates, and it was an independence Nita had never understood, and as if it was some kind of vulgar flaw, could never seem to forgive her for. But Liliana knew it had been born from a place of impermanence. The second her mother was taken from her, the entire world turned to fragile finite sand, the flecks constantly shifting and the shapes they once created being lost within the folds.