In my mind, I have a perfect writing schedule. It begins with getting a good night’s sleep, then after the kids are on the bus, I write for a few hours, break for lunch, exercise, check email and do some promotion until the kids come home. In reality, I usually stay up too late writing, and after I get the kids on the bus, I have to take a nap. When I get up and start again, I’m tempted by the emails flashing me, and before I know it, I’m off into Twitterworld, or catching up on loops and commenting on a blog. Some days I write twenty hours, other days I don’t write at all, so you can see that my schedule doesn’t exist. I don’t think that’s necessarily good. I think I need more structure, but it does prove a point. All writers aren’t alike. Your journey as a writer may be far different than mine. And that’s okay. The important thing is that we make time to put an awesome story on the page.
As far as essentials, I do all my writing on the computer, even editing. I do like to have a Diet Coke or Pepsi at hand, and I have notepads for thoughts that zing at me at the most unexpected moments. And I’m surrounded by laundry, hopefully clean, but usually not. Did I mention that my computer is in the laundry room? It has its conveniences. I can use the washer and dryer surface for overflow desk space if I need to spread out notebooks, etc. And I’m close to the kitchen for snack runs or if I need to check on dinner, which if the family is lucky I remembered to prepare. Otherwise, it’s a pizza kind of night.
Bree Kirkland is no ordinary historian. Her specialty is the Civil War, but her peers accuse her of being more like Indiana Jones, obsessed with lost treasure, myths and legends. Haunted by longings she can’t describe, she immerses herself in history, seeking hidden treasure, both written and real, but after a lifetime of disappointments and mishaps, she determines to settle down to an ordinary, boring life. When she finds a treasure map in her great, great grandmother’s attic, Bree promises herself one more treasure hunt, and then she’ll stop. The map leads to the graveyard behind her house, where she finds an elaborate chest hidden inside the old crypt that she’d been so drawn to as a child. She opens the chest and discovers something far more compelling than hidden treasure, and there’s no returning to her normal life.
Faelan and Bree have an instant connection, and for a good reason, as we’ll later see. But they’re also one step away from a fight. Faelan is can’t believe how bold and reckless Bree is. In his time, women stayed at home and kept the home fires burning. They didn’t go rushing out into danger without a care in the world, or refuse to let a warrior offer his protection. If he could drive that bloody thing she called a car, he’d throw her over his shoulder and get her out of here before the demon who locked him up comes looking for him. And she’s downright nosy. She needs answers like other people need air. If he isn’t careful, she’ll uncover every secret his clan has bled and died to protect.
Bree is ready to stick Faelan back in a time vault. He’s either kissing her or ordering her around, and she’s tired of it. Maybe not the kissing, but the chauvinistic part has to go. This isn’t the 19th century. Women are independent and strong and perfectly capable of rescuing a man. Even a big, bad warrior who’s over a century and a half old. And if it turns out that he didn’t really need rescuing after all, he should at least appreciate the gesture and not come close to bursting a blood vessel in anger.
Excerpt from Awaken the Highland Warrior
Bree’s fingers tightened around the metal disk as she ran through the graveyard, zigzagging past leaning headstones. Her lantern swayed, throwing shadows on the crypt looming before her, its stone walls the color of bones. Thick vines crept over it, sealing in cracks left by time, while gnarled branches from the twisted oak hovered like outstretched arms. Protecting… or threatening?
An owl screeched overhead as she scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn’t fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt, waiting. Blood rushed past her ears, a sound like all the angels’ wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or perhaps Solomon’s Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she’d first discovered it.
She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing shifted in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence, scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the claw-like branches of the old tree.
She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she’d pushed onto the alcove and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest, not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves; the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted.
A voice rushed through her head. What lies within cannot be, until time has passed with the key.
Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation, not ghosts.
She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counterclockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed… blue, orange, and green, swirling for seconds, and then they were gone. Great, hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.
Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She’d settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted. One. Two. Three.
She heaved open the chest. Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.
The man inhaled one harsh breath and his eyes flew open, locking on Bree. A battle cry worthy of Braveheart echoed off the walls. Bree jumped back as metal flashed and a rush of air kissed her face. Petrified, she watched him crawl out of the burial vault, a wicked-looking dagger in his hand. Her scream tore loose as she turned and fled.
Fingers grazed her shoulder, and she glanced back. The last thing she saw before her feet tangled with the shovel was the dead man reaching for her.
© Anita Clenney, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2011
Anita Clenney writes paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Before giving herself over to the writing bug, she worked in a pickle factory, at a preschool, booked shows for Aztec Fire Dancers, and was a secretary, executive assistant, and a realtor. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban Virginia where she is working on her next book, Embrace the Highland Warrior, which will be in stores in November 2011. For more information, please visit www.AnitaClenney.com and www.sourcebookscasablanca.com.