Spin Off Standalone
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Date of Publication: July 15, 2015
Number of pages: 272
Word Count: 90,000
Cover Artist: Tamian Wood
Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black…
Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison’s nightmares are not.
Despite her fears, when Madison’s brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.
Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton’s home only to discover that he’s vanished. Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she’s not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott’s are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.
*Stand-alone companion to the Cassie Scot series
Madison couldn't move. The only muscle in her body capable of stirring at all was her heart, and it felt like it was trying to make up for the rest. No ropes bound her. Nothing visible pressed her back and legs into the coarse beige carpet of her new rental home. Yet even as she writhed and twisted against unseen restraints, she knew she was trapped. Tied to the ground in a way that made her feel like a virgin sacrifice atop an altar.
The man looming over her, chanting spells and arranging crystals, didn't look like a powerful sorcerer. David McClellan had too weak a chin and beady little eyes. Those eyes, brown as mud and just as compassionate, told her without words that they would be the last thing she saw.
She didn't even understand why! Not that it would make a difference if she did. But she wasn't anyone special. She wasn't important. She was just an elementary school music teacher – or would be after she finished a semester of student teaching. This kind of thing didn't happen to her. To her friend, Cassie, scion of a powerful family of sorcerers, maybe. But Madison had no family connections and almost no magic aside from her beautiful, subtly enchanting voice. Why would anyone hurt her for a song?
A tear fell sideways into her sweat-dampened hair, joining countless others and doing exactly as much good. How long had she lain here, helpless? Minutes? Hours? It might only have been seconds. The box of “Card and Board Games” she had been carrying into the house lay on its side a foot or two away, some of its contents now strewn across the bare living room floor. There hadn't been any warning. One second she was on the way to her new bedroom to unpack her tenth or eleventh box, the next instant she was on the floor. Immobile. Helpless. Confused. Terrified.
Oh Lord! Why hast thou forsaken me?
There was magic in the air, growing stronger with each new crystal David arranged into a pattern only he could see. Cold, deadly magic that reinforced her every childhood fear. Her father had told her that magic was from the devil. Was this what he'd meant? Was this her punishment for brushing up against the world of sorcery, no matter how lightly?
David placed one last crystal before ceasing his chant. The silence felt ominous, like a lull before the storm, and when he moved away, out of her sight, a fresh wave of panic seized her. She strained anew at her bindings until the scent of incense filled the air. She had a sudden, vivid memory of Palm Sunday Mass, and of Father Owen making the sign of the cross as he wafted the same scent over his congregation. Father Owen didn't believe magic was evil; he had told her more than once not to listen to her father's “superstitious nonsense.”
The time had come to pull herself together. To think. She wasn't helpless. She had a little magic of her own, even if the thought of using it made her feel sick inside. God had not forsaken her. He had given her a tool if only she could rein in her stampeding heart rate long enough to search her memory for what little knowledge she possessed.
First, she had to find her quiet place. Madison drew in a deep, shuddering breath and started to close her eyes, when a glint of something metallic caught her attention. She stared at the long, lethal dagger in David's hands, an ornate golden hilt largely hidden within his iron fist. His eyes drifted up and down the length of her bound body before settling on her midriff. He lowered the blade.
He was going to cut her. She squeezed her eyes shut, bracing herself against the expected pain. Or worse.
Think, Madison. Focus!
She took one last steadying breath. Then she counted. Breathe in one ... two ... three ... four ... breathe out ... five ... six ... seven ...
Her concentration snapped when cold metal bit into warm flesh. Her eyes popped open, her muscles strained once more against invisible bonds, and she screamed.
Wait, she could scream? She had a voice?
“Silence,” David commanded.
Her throat continued to work, but no sound emerged. She felt like a fish being gutted, choking and spluttering as David returned to the work of cutting into the soft, sensitive flesh of her belly. Yet even as tears refilled her eyes and fear devoured her heart some part of her recognized that her guts remained intact. Whatever David was doing to her with the dagger involved tracing shallow patterns across the surface of her skin.
Fight the pain. Take deep breaths. Ground and center. She was not in the empty living room of a house she had not quite moved into yet, she was at church, singing in the choir. Above her, Jesus hung from a cross, a crown of thorns atop his head, a soft glow surrounding him. She usually found the magic within that glow. She reached for it...
“Stop that!” David slapped her hard across the face.
Once again her eyes flew open. She saw the dagger dripping with blood – her blood. Had her feeble grab for magic actually made a difference? David seemed to have noticed something, but what?
“You're just making this harder on yourself,” David said.
“What do you want?” Madison tried to ask. Her mouth moved, her lips forming the question, but no sound emerged.
She didn't think he would answer; he couldn't even have heard the question, but to her surprise he only hesitated a moment before saying, “Your soul.”
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Oh yes, I have always been a writer! Even as a small child, unable to read, I would look at my picture books and make up stories about them. I wrote my first short story, about Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars, when I was about eight.
When did you first consider yourself a “author”?
I've always been a wrtier. But I truly thought of myself as an “author” in 2003, when I attended a by-audition boot camp with Orson Scott Card. I learned a lot from him, but more than that, I began striving towards the big dream: Professional publication. As of 2003, I conducted myself as a professional. I wrote nearly every day. I sent my work out for feedback and strove always to improve. And I submitted it for possible rejection (er, publication).
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Touch of Fate came out in 2006, three years after I became an “author.”
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I'm a content and developmental editor. That is to say, I edit for story, plot, character, voice, style, tone, or anything else that strikes me as being off. (You have to go in with an open mind; you just never know!) Writing doesn't pay well, to tell you the truth; editing earns me money while still allowing me to focus on what I love – fiction!
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Madison's Song: Shy, unlikely heroine Madison Carter must face her greatest fear when her brother is bitten by a werewolf.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
Twilight Times Books has published all my novels so far. They're great to work with, offer a fair contract, and lately they've thrown a lot of editing work my way too!
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
You make the process sound so linear! I come up with ideas, set them aside, pick them back up, draft them, throw them away, rethink them, come back later, revise, consider tearing my eyeballs out …
The best I can say is that I came up with the original idea for Cassie Scot (the prequel series to Madison's Song) in February 2009. Since then, I've written six books. So that's about one per year.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Next up is Kaitlin's Tale, the final spin-off to the Cassie Scot series (that I have planned). After that, I want to begin a new series. Find a new way for readers to get to know me. The genre will probably stay close to paranormal/fantasy, and romance will also be involved. I say probably because I'm still in the planning stage. I've got ideas, but haven't writen so much as a sentence toward a rough draft!
What genre would you place your books into?
Madison's Song is dark paranormal romance. The Cassie Scot series is urban fantasy/paranormal romance, more lighthearted than its spin-offs. I have also written a science fiction novel, The Immortality Virus, and a paranormal mystery, Touch of Fate.
Mostly, I'm a character girl. If there were a genre for character stories, I'd put my books there. :)
But in the real world, I'd call myself a paranormal and urban fantasy writer, and I strongly suspect that's what you can expect from me in the future.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
Cassie is my favorite. As the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, she has to be brave, feisty, and clever to survive in her world. Cassie isn't me, but she's who I wish I was.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Yes, but my routine changes from book to book. For Madison's Song, my theme song was “The Greatest Love of All.” I would often listen to that before getting to work, to get myself into the story and the characters.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Oh no! No no no no no! LOL!
I used to. Talk about a way to give yourself a complex! And let's face it, I'm a bit like Madison with the low self-confidence. I could read a hundred positive reviews of my book, but if I read one bad remark… that's what I remember. Knowing this about myself, I categorically do not read any review under 4 stars. (Okay, every once in a while I'll read a 3-star review.)
And actually, I don't read all the positive reviews either. This may seem strange, but even a positive review can make me crazy if it doesn't line up with my view of the book. One of my least favorite reviews of Cassie Scot:
ParaNormal Detective, for example, called it a “fun vampire story.” What? A vampire story? Just because there was a vampire or two in it does not make it a vampire story! Did you miss all the magic, character development, and the purely human romance?
See what I mean? Crazy-making. No, I try not to read reviews. I usually have to for a little while, during the release craze, but I've learned to let it go and move on.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Yes. That is to say, I choose a title, write the story, then choose a completely different title. The only exception: The Immortality Virus (my one scifi novel). It was just obvious, and it stayed obvious even after it was written.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Character names come from here and there. I chose many of the names in my Cassie Scot series from a list of alchemists and occultists I found on Wikipedia. I usually put a lot of thought into the names of my main characters, looking at both the meaning of the name and what kind of name their parents would be likely to give them.
Madison is a rare case for me; I didn't put a lot of thought into her name. When I first came up with her, she was supposed to be a minor character. For her, I chose a relatively popular new girl's name that I happen to like.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Most of my morals are pretty obvious. The moral of Madison's Song is “love yourself.” :)
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
Audiobook. I'm legally blind. I can't read regular print at all, so if I can't listen, I go with eBook.
Do you think books transfer to movies well?
This is a tricky question. What books do best, the thing that they do that movies can't do, is get inside the mind of a character. Movies, meanwhile, bring stories to life in a visual and auditory way. They let you hear it and see it.
These are two very different mediums, which doesn't mean that they can't both be used to bring a story to life. I even think that they could be used together to more fully relate a story. In practice, though, I don't see that happening.
Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
Favorite: The Chronicles of Narnia – these books were written in a simpler time, and in a somewhat childish way. The movies actually improved upon the books, IMHO.
Worst: Harry Potter – I think there may have been too many cooks spoiling this particular soup.
Your favorite food is?
Your favorite color is?
Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that affects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.
Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.