Why research fiction?

Writing Advice from Petie McCartypetie-mccarty

The question in the title is one I hear all too frequently when talking to readers, and I am amazed by the number of readers who are oblivious to the fact that authors are always required to do a certain amount of research when writing their stories.

I’ve had readers claim, “But it’s fiction! Why would you do research? Can’t you just make the stuff up?

The answer is No. Not even for the wildest science fiction, where a whole new world has been created, can the author afford to scotch the research. Questions would still arise and would still require answers — like How did this world come into existence? And the answers must be plausible. If your story is not believable, you will lose the reader before you get he or she hooked – a fate worse than death for an author.

There will be few stories an author can write strictly from their personal experience. I spent two years of my career surveying Florida waters by airboat, and I still wasn’t close to being able to create a story about an airboat safari for my debut novel Everglades. I spent several months researching every aspect of the famed River of Grass and the adjacent Big Cypress National Preserve before I crafted the first scene. Then I had to research the sugar plantation industry to create a believable scenario for the conflict.

Even an author writing about a small fictional town in the mid-west will have some anchor businesses in the town to hold the populace and thereby the story together. And unless the author has owned a business similar to one in the story and is familiar with the nuances of the business operation, then research will come into play. The author simply cannot avoid research.

catchofthedaycoverart72dpi__73343.1359481854.1280.1280Sometimes, we luck out and find an expert to plug all of our research gaps. I certainly did for my second novel Catch of the Day. My day-job lake-survey partner is also a professional fisherman – they prefer to be called anglers – with the national Bassmaster Southern Opens series. He vetted my manuscript upon completion to be sure I hadn’t made any fishing faux pas.

Now the Catch of the Day doesn’t actually have a large amount of fishing tournament information and description in it, but what is there had to be accurate. As with most fiction, the characters and their interaction and dialog provide most of the story, but what little narrative is provided for color must be realistic. The reader will know.

Fiction research is always worth it in the end, even if you spend months reading up on a subject, for there is no greater feeling for an author than to have a reader post a review or send an email that says, “You made me feel like I was right there in the story…”

Download and read The Catch of the day or Petie’s latest novel, No Going Back, and check out all her books at Desert Breeze Publishing.

Angels Unaware

Birth of the Rescue Angel RomancesNoGoingBackCoverArt

 Hebrews 13:2 — “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

 If we have every pondered whether angels walk among us on earth, this quote from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament answers our question, or for some, our doubts.

 This quote was also the gospel reading in church one Sunday morning, almost a decade ago, at a time when I had mired my psyche in the should-Iget-a-new-job-or-not conflict and had already prayed for a resolution. This quote and the niggling conflict for a love story both appeared that morning, and both refused to get out of my head. From there the Rescue Angel romances were born.

 My imaginative side thought, if angels walk among us, waiting to be entertained by the unknowing, maybe other angels walk among us, waiting to assist the, as yet, unloved. Hmmm… Rescue Angels of love either wandering about or specifically assigned to assist some of us — especially those of us likely to make poor choices — in finding the perfect mate to make our heart sing.

 And if no one knew the angel’s true identity, much could be accomplished without the hero or heroine — or even the reader, if it’s a fine story — being aware. Think of the possibilities! I have.   *big grin*

 That very first story that refused to leave me alone had a heroine guilted into helping out at a homeless mission by her best friend. At the mission, the heroine meets two hunks: Gabriel, or Gabe, the director of the mission, and the enigmatic Michael, with no background to speak of. Now, a homeless mission is the absolute last place a heroine would find not one, but two love interests, right? As with all Rescue Angel romances, this one was plumb full of possible plot choices.

 The first published Rescue Angel romance was released on April 1 — No Going Back. Kellen Brand’s inheritance turns out to be a shocker — the family farm she doesn’t want in West Virginia and the guardian angel she’s afraid she might need.

 The second Rescue Angel romance releases right before Christmas. Child psychologist, Dr. Rachel Kelly is baffled by her newest client — a six-year-old boy who claims he can see angels — and she believes him. The scary part is the young boy claims an angel is coming to help her.

 When a stalker takes Rachel’s young clients hostage at her Christmas party, Rachel is forced to call on her estranged boyfriend, police negotiator Lt. Jake Dillon, for help. Jake is fearful he’s too close to this case, that his love for Rachel will cloud his judgment, but it’s too late to call anyone else, so Jake and his band of special ops technicians step up to play heroes and hope — or rather pray — for the best.

 But what  if Rachel’s young angel-spying client is telling the truth…

Download today from Desert Breeze Publishing or Amazon.

Author Petie McCarty’s books – including Environmental Context

petie-mccartyWho is author Petie McCarty? Petie earned a zoology degree from the University of Central Florida and went on to enjoy a productive career as an aquatic biologist, taking unique assignments that included aquatic plant surveys in Florida lakes and streams by every type of floatable craft – including airboats. She even spent a few years collecting and identifying aquatic macroinvertebrates [aka “water bugs”].

She brings a unique environmental viewpoint to her stories and hopes to teach a love for the environment along the way. Lucky enough to have a day job at the “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” she has no trouble writing happily ever afters for her stories.

Petie lives with her horticulturist husband in Orange County, Florida, and they are blessed with two girls: Lily and Sassy. One is an English springer spaniel and the other is a noisy Nanday conure. You can guess which is which. She loves golf, running and reads voraciously.

Petie, not the conure.

 Debut novel, EVERGLADES, released in May 2012:

Kayli Heddon is a photojournalist who has come to the Everglades to work on an article that will help her uncle John – a politico who’s making the restoration of the Everglades one of his top priorities.  She ends up stranded alone with her handsome and enigmatic Seminole airboat guide, Skye Landers, and quickly learns that trust means everything in the dangerous River of Grass. But when secrets from Skye’s past surface, Kayli and Skye are soon on the run from more than just gators.

 Second novel, CATCH OF THE DAY, released in November 2012:

 Special Ops Coast Guard Captain Gage Connor has a penchant for finding trouble, and that’s exactly what he gets when he meets Cody Ryan, the red-headed spitfire fated to be his partner in the Annual Loon Lake Tournament, accompanied by an assemblage of townsfolk as zany as the name.

Fate tosses them every conceivable roadblock to keep them from winning in this wild and crazy adventure, and to further complicate matters, Gage is unaware his borrowed bass boat served as the exchange point for payment of uncut diamonds for drugs, and the smugglers want their diamonds back. The Colombians are playing for keeps and will stop at nothing to retrieve their stash — even resorting to kidnapping.

Download all of Petie’s books today from her publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc., or from Amazon with one-click from her Amazon Author Page.catchofthedaycoverart72dpi__73343.1359481854.1280.1280evergladescoverart72dpi__49425.1359437167.1280.1280NoGoingBackCoverArt

Angels Protect in New Release

Man holding a woman out of the stream, with a mill in the background. They are kissing. Title is No Going Back. Author Petie McCarty. Presented by Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc.Hi Lynette! Thank you so much for allowing me to spend time with your readers today! I’m so excited about my April release, No Going Back.

Glad to have you here, Petie. I can’t wait to learn more about this book and your new series! Angels are a fascinating topic. Tell us more.

This release is the first of what I call my Rescue Angel romances — wild and fun love stories with a secret angel hidden in the plot, and the reader doesn’t find out the angel’s identity until the finale. If I’ve done my job right, I’ll fool my readers every time. My second Rescue Angel romance — appropriately named Angel to the Rescue — is due out in December.

I enjoy it when an author keeps me guessing. I admit I enjoy figuring out or sometimes being surprised. Set the scene for us?

In No Going Back, Kellen Brand’s inheritance turns out to be a whopper — one dilapidated farm in West Virginia and one guardian angel. Since no sane woman would choose to live in Riverside, Kellen vows to sell her farm and quick. Her handsome neighbor Luke Kenyon must block the farm sale or risk exposure of his family’s secrets.

Kellen has located one potential buyer, but she faces a town full of objectors. Someone is trying to frighten her off, and Luke is forced to step in and rescue her more than once. Unfortunately, Kellen has a penchant for finding trouble. She stumbles onto a clandestine hazardous-waste-dumping operation next to her farm, and she prays Luke has one more rescue up his sleeve. It’s her only hope of staying alive.

Unless her mother really did leave her a guardian angel…

* * * * *

 Here is a little excerpt from No Going Back:

Vera tells me she told you about the haunted cemetery,” Gerald McRae called to Kellen from the checkout counter.

The bell on the store’s front door jingled again.

“She did,” Kellen called back, concentrating on her candle selection.

“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you,” said a familiar voice behind her.

If it was possible for a voice to leer, this one did. Her spine twitched, and she slowly turned around. “I don’t need any protection, Sheriff.”

Reilly eased in much too close for her liking and cornered her between the last two rows of shelves. “You never know what to expect up here in West Virginia, right?” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

His rat eyes glittered like two black aggies, and she suddenly felt a glimmer of panic. The evil eyes of the mean boy who threw dirt clods had changed to the leering eyes of a much larger and quite fearsome man. The mean boy was now Sheriff. If he threw dirt clods, who would she call?

He edged closer.

She stepped back and bumped into the last row of shelves. She felt just like the jackrabbit her dog once cornered in the barn.

“I can look out for you while you’re here, Kellen. Special like.”

The way he said her name sent shivers down her spine. She could feel the lower shelf jabbing into the back of her calves.

He took one more step.

She could smell his sour breath.

“Real special.”

She could hear Gerald talking to a customer. No help coming there.

Reilly lifted his hand toward her face. She swallowed hard and steeled herself to jerk back or swat the hand away.

The fleshy hand eased closer.

A fist came out of nowhere and snagged the sheriff’s wrist. “She doesn’t need any protection,” a deep voice growled. “She has plenty.”

Luke Kenyon had an iron grip on Reilly’s wrist, his knuckles white with the effort. Reilly tried to glare him into submission, but the steel-like glint in Kenyon’s eyes forced the sheriff to blink. Kenyon tossed off the wrist, but stood his ground. Reilly yanked his hand back to his side, and for a brief instant, Kellen forgot how maddening Kenyon was. She wanted to grab him and kiss him for saving her from the foul-breathed sheriff.

“Watch yourself, Kenyon,” Reilly snarled. “I run this county.”

Luke matched his glare. “Not all of it, you don’t.”

Kellen tried to catch her breath. She blinked, and the Sheriff was gone. Luke stood so close she could feel the heat radiating from his body, and that certainly didn’t help her remember to breathe.

“Are you all right?”

Had she seen worry in his eyes? For her? Oh good heavens — she was still staring! Now he was asking her something. What was it? Oh yeah — was she all right?

She nodded.

Words were too much at the moment. Too many emotions. First, panic at Reilly accosting her again after all these years and then finding out she actually had a knight in shining armor. She did, didn’t she? Luke’s focused gaze sent her heart fluttering and from more than fear. She couldn’t seem to get any air in her lungs.

“Do with your property as you please,” his voice rumbled.

She blinked again, and he was gone. They were both gone, the Sheriff out the front door and Luke to who knew where.

“Everything all right, Kellen?” Gerald called from the checkout counter.

Her fists had a death grip on her basket. Everything about this town made her feel like a child again. Except she didn’t want to go back to her childhood.

Download this exciting new book right now from Desert Breeze Publishing or one-click from her Amazon  author page.

New release — Survival Instinct — available now

SurvivalInstinctCoverArtTough as nails San Francisco homicide detective Winter Parker runs fast and far to escape ancient threats of revenge, and small town torments. Can equally tough Special Agent Mike Hunter convince Winter to put aside her fears and take a chance on him and their small town?

Excerpt

The door to the small bath slammed open and Mike stood, both hands raised and clutching either side of the door frame in a white knuckle grip.

She sniffed and jerked her chin up. “You’re still here?”

His jaw clenched, he glared at her. “It’s going to take a lot more than you not caring a classmate was murdered to get rid of me.”

Her mouth dropped open.

His hands fell to his sides and he took the one step needed to be right in front of her. He towered over her and she instinctively leaned back, until her lower back was pressed against the smooth porcelain of the bathroom sink.

“The way I see it, Parker,” he growled, “is if you can hate so fiercely, then you will also love just as fiercely, and that’s the kind of woman I want loving me. Oh, and Parker,” he said. “Mark my words, I love you every bit as fiercely.”AnimalInstinctCoverArt_1

His head lowered and he kissed the air right out of her lungs.

When he lifted his head she touched her kiss-swollen lips. “So, you don’t mind I’m not a nice person?”

He rested his forehead on hers and puffed out a half laugh. “I’m not such a nice person either, Winter.”

She shook her head in instant denial and he pressed a finger over her lips. “There are layers to me you cannot even guess at.” He lowered his head until they were nose to nose. “We’ll always have one another’s back, Winter. We’ll get married, and someday have a dozen or more not so nice children, who will make us pay for our raising.

Download today from Desert Breeze Publishing. Comment here for a chance to win the first book in the Time After Time Saga, Animal Instinct.

Allison Green is a veterinarian and the descendent of a line of women who bear the Heartmark, a heart-shaped birthmark that identifies them as the target for Mildreth, an evil time-traveling enemy. Sean Barnett is the new detective in town. An evil from the past threatens to destroy the love developing between Allison and Sean. Will ancestral memories hold the key to freedom, or overwhelm them with fear? Will Sean be the man to help her break free of the ancient enemy who has traveled through time in order to cheat her of love? View the video trailer.

Animal Helpers key to story

 

Mike’s Helper appears …71916925269910592_1wlk4eov_b

Tap, tap, tap. They both tensed and looked at the terrace doors.

“You expecting company from the back door?” she whispered.

He scowled at her and drew his weapon, dropping to a whisper as well. “I’m on the sixth floor. Unless super man is making house calls, whoever it is, is not welcome.”

She drew her service revolver also and stood. Without making a verbal plan, he took high and she took low, both weapon arms out straight with the other hand supporting at the elbow.

Tap, tap, tap.

“Sure is a noisy burglar,” she couldn’t help but bring out.

He shot her a look of pure venom and promised restitution, then, his hand on the handle of the door, he mouthed. “One. Two. Three.”

He swung the door open and they both pointed their loaded weapons at the small gray cockatiel sitting on the ledge, tapping its beak against the iron railing.SurvivalInstinctCoverArt

They both dropped their arms and gaped at the bird.

She turned to him. “You keep your bird outside?”

He shook his head and scowled. “It’s not my bird.”

As if on cue, the bird that didn’t belong to Mike ruffled his feathers, then with a graceful swoop of its wings took flight, to land right on Mike’s broad shoulder.

Her brows rose and she shut the door. “Not your bird, huh?” she teased. “You should probably tell him that.”

The bird ruffled its feathers, then rubbed his head against Mike’s cheek.

Mike sneezed.

Startled, the bird took to flight, landing on one of the surveillance monitors.

Mike shook his head. “Bird, if you poop on that monitor, you’re going to be dinner tonight.”

If possible, the bird managed to look affronted by the threat and said, “Beef for dinner, not fowl.”

Both Mike’s and her own jaws dropped, then they burst out laughing. They laughed so hard, by the time they stopped, they were both swiping tears from their eyes and holding their stomachs.

“The bird has to belong to someone,” Mike mused.

Winter shrugged. “I just had a stray cat attach itself to me. It seems the rules of who chooses who in the pet department have changed.”

Mike glanced at her. “A cat?”

She nodded. “A scraggly little calico. Looks just like the one that followed me around all the time while I was growing up.”

Mike’s brows drew in. “I remember seeing that stray following you.”

She ran a hand through her hair. “Really?”

IMG_0606He nodded. “Yeah, every time I’d see you around, the calico was always nearby. I don’t ever recall you paying any mind to it, though.”

She shrugged. “I’m not really an animal person.”

He laughed. “Don’t let your Grandma Allison hear you say that. She’s in her eighties and still goes to the clinic when they are busy and call her up.” He considered. “Do you think it is the same calico?”

She shook her head. “It looks just like her, but how could it be? I left home five years ago, and I swear that cat from home has followed me since the first day I walked to kindergarten by myself. There’s no way the cat who attached itself to me now can be the same one.”

He crooked a brow. “Who you trying to convince, me or yourself?”

She walked over to the bird, which oddly seemed to be listening with some focus to their conversation. “What’s your name, sweetie?”

“Napoleon.” The bird squawked ” Protector. Don’t eat me.”

She grinned at the bird. “Okay, Napoleon, who is your owner? Who do you belong to?”

There was no reply. Napoleon began to groom one wing with his beak.

Winter tried again. “Pretty bird, Napoleon. Who are you protecting?” She reached out one finger, tentatively, and stroked his head. He swiveled to look right at her.

Then he gave a squawk and fluffed his feather. “Protect Mike,” he squawked out. “Mike’s bird. Protect Mike.”

Winter and Mike’s jaws hit their chests, again, at Napoleon’s ramblings.

“See?” Winter could not help but say. “I told you he’s chosen you as his owner.”

Mike sneezed and his eyes puffed up and turned red. “There’s only one problem,” he said. “I’m allergic to birds.”

Comment for a chance to win a free download of the first of the Time After Time Saga, Animal Instinct. Like us on Facebook. And come back tomorrow for more leading up to our April 11 release.

Meet Mike, Hero and home town boy…

Winter ran away from home…but home caught upSurvivalInstinctCoverArt

She glanced up and saw their reflection in the mirror hanging over the dresser. She had to admit, they made a striking image sitting together like they were. She ran a finger over her blacking left eye, and then turned to scowl at the man who had blackened it. She was almost certain it had been his elbow that had caught her.

Apparently he had not been as focused on his thoughts as she had assumed, or maybe his thoughts were somehow following hers. He turned to her and ran a surprisingly gently forefinger over the bruised flesh under her eye. “I just wanted to stop you, not hurt you.”

She jerked a shoulder, oddly unnerved by his softer side.

Hometown boy. Never. Nope. No way.

“How’d you see me anyway?” she asked. “You didn’t have night goggles on.”

He blinked his big gold eyes and she frowned at him.

He smiled, a chuckle accompanied the gesture and her stomach did a funny little dip. “Part of my top of the line spy package,” he told her. “Contacts. Two rapid blinks night vision, three blinks heat sensor, four, normal mode.”

She whistled. “I want to work where you work. Cool toys.”

He grinned at her. “The coolest.”

“So, what gives?” she demanded. “You won’t tell me what branch you work for, I get that, but at least tell me who the other players are. How did you get involved, anyway? How long have you been snooping around as a mild mannered reporter to get all those names?” Another thought took precedence over his answer and she said. “By the way, what kind of spy are you if they knew you were investigating them? The task I had to do, in order to not be sent to 867 for offing the creep and to keep my grandmother alive, was to kill you after I found out just how much you know, but dude, they know you’re on to them.” She shook her head and shot him a disgusted look. “You’re really a lousy spy. I’m surprised your bosses trust you with all this high tech stuff.”

His jaw firmed and the hand next to hers on the bed fisted. She’d touched a nerve and she had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling.

“I will have you know, lady,” he bit out. “My cover was to be a reporter who was obviously investigating the corrupt cops, in order to draw them out in the open so I could shut them down.”

She believed him, but it was just so easy to rile him up that instead of telling him so, she said instead, “Hmmm.”

He glared at her reflection in the mirror. “You’re ticking me off again.”

She couldn’t help herself, she winked.

He lifted his arm, to do what she didn’t know.

Tap, tap, tap. They both tensed and looked at the terrace doors.

To be continued tomorrow, when you will meet Mike’s Animal Helper

Comment for a chance to win the first of the Time After Time Saga, Animal Instinct. Like our Facebook page.

Winter leaves home – Runs away to San Francisco

SurvivalInstinctCoverArtAnother Excerpt to whet your Appetite

She straightened her shoulders and jerked up her chin. One way or another, she would find out who was responsible for her current situation; and she would make them pay big time.

She made her way along the beach. The area where she, the body, and the others had been was washed clean by the tides, as if this morning had never happened.

How was she going to nail the corrupt cops and not endanger Grandma Allison?

Her steps slowed as she left the beach area and made her way into the city, the cat padding along beside her.

With a certainty which made her breath catch, she knew the threat against her grandmother was not an idle one.

Memories of the last time she had seen her grandmother and her family swamped her. but this time, rather than push them away, as she usually did, she allowed the bitter truths of what she had done wash over her.

She’d just turned eighteen and graduated high school, then bought a one way bus ticket out of that suffocating small town of Medicine Springs, Missouri for the big city. She rubbed a hand over her face and pushed away hot tears. That was the last time she had seen any of them, yet their faces were etched in her memory.

Her mother’s tears.

Her grandmother’s, Allison’s, and Betty’s looks of stunned disbelief.

Her grandfather Sean had shaken his head and given her a look that for some reason gave her courage. She was almost certain that had not been his intention.

Grandpop Eddie smiled at her, with that vacant smile he got sometimes that told her he didn’t always know what was going on around him.

And her father.

Winter sighed and resisted the habit of trying to shake off the guilt which always assaulted her when she thought about her father.

She’d always been a daddy’s girl.

Her dad had been so disappointed in her that day. And afraid. Fear had shown in his eyes.

Even back then she hadn’t blamed her family for their worry. After all, her father was a detective and had been for two decades or more, and her grandpa Sean — the youngest, sharpest, seventy-three year-old man she had ever known — was a retired detective, himself.

They upheld the law in their small town. However, just because they worked in a small town, didn’t mean they were ignorant of what went on in the bigger cities; or what could happen to an eighteen year old girl alone.

So, she didn’t tell anyone her plans — not a single person — until the morning she walked out of her room, backpack slung over one shoulder and bus ticket clutched in her sweaty, trembling hand.

She’d said goodbye from a distance, not trusting herself to go near them lest she lose her resolve to leave. She stood with the length of the room between them, promised to write when she could. Swallowing back tears  she walked out the door of her childhood home, pulling it closed with a determined snap on the stunned silence of her parents and both sets of grandparents. .

She half expected them to come running out to stop her. The entire thirty minute walk to the bus station she craned her head to look, worried one or all of them would break out of their shock long enough to come and snatch her back home.

Oddly, they had not.

She was still, after all these years, not sure how she felt about the fact they hadn’t.

Only Scat Cat had trailed her steps.

Read Winter’s Grandpa Sean’s story in Animal Instinct, and download Survival Instinct April 11.

Animal Helper “Scat Cat” from Survival Instinct

Each Time After Time book includes a helper from the animal kingdom.  Meet Winter’sIMG_0606

Winter swiped a heavy hand against the sandpaper abrasion wetting her cheek.

A cat meowed

Her brows drew into a frown. Meow?

More sandpaper, then a nudge on her cheek from a wet, somewhat smelly head.

The sound of the ocean registered, and as she struggled to pry her eyes open, memories of the early morning events filtered through her brain.

She squinted up to the sky. The sun was at about ten a.m. Obviously, she hadn’t made the start of her shift, first day.

She could still smell rain in the air but the storm had passed and now the skies were blue. Only in San Francisco.

Another meow.

She turned her throbbing head and met the unblinking golden eyes of a calico cat. “Scat Cat?” she asked in confusion, realizing the second drug hadn’t targeted her vocal cords.

The undernourished, soaking wet cat purred, long and loud.

“You can’t be Scat Cat,” she murmured, reaching up and scratching the feline under its chin.

It couldn’t be the same cat. It was impossible the alley cat who had followed her to and from school since kindergarten, followed her back and forth from her part time job each and every day, then even to the bus stop the very day she had left town, was the same cat.

Scat Cat, because Winter had shouted the words to the cat, along with a hissing noise and a stomping foot, each and every day, worried the fool cat would get hit by a car by following her around everywhere.

SurvivalInstinctCoverArtEverywhere, that was, except her home. Oddly, when Winter was home, the stray cat never lingered.

She shook the cobwebs from her head and sat up. She had been wedged between two large boulders, completely hidden from the spread of beach where she and her captors had gathered earlier this morning.

Her rain gear was gone, as was the bloody clothing underneath the gear.

She had her own clothes on, right down to her combat boots and she shuddered to think who of the twelve men had striped her and replaced her clothing.

Clearly they had breached the high tech security apartment on the third floor of one San Francisco’s Victorian ‘Painted Ladies’, to get her things. Her hand-held hologram cell phone lay at her feet, along with a sealed bag holding a manila envelope, with the word “Evidence” in bold letters stamped onto it at an angle.

It didn’t take much of a guess to know inside the envelope would be the photo of the man she was supposed to bleed for information, then kill.

She shuddered and scooped up her cell and the bag.

The cat continued to stare at her, almost like she was studying her. Unnerved, Winter waved the cat away. “Scat, cat!”

Just as with the cat back home — and no, she was not ready to consider this was the same cat — this cat simply sat and stared.

AnimalInstinctCoverArt_1“You will have a helper from the animal kingdom.”

Winter lunged to her feet and the world went dark at the edges of her vision. She pivoted, her combat boots crunching wet sand and pebbles as she scanned the empty beach for who had spoken.

The cat meowed.

She jerked her gaze to the cat, sitting serenely at her feet, large golden eyes fixed up at her.

Winter pointed to the cat. “You didn’t just speak to me.”

Winter had had enough. She was late to work, and she’d been drugged twice. She was going to drag herself into the precinct late and looking like — she glanced at the cat again — like something the cat dragged in, and everyone one would put it off to too many drinks last night.

Download on April 11 to read the rest of this story.  Or read about Winter’s grandmother, Dr. Allison Green, a veterinarian who also bore the Heartmark and was fated to face the enemy who chases the women of the Heartmark through time.