Author: R. Phoenix

RISQ Changes

Published / by R. Phoenix / 1 Comment on RISQ Changes

First off, thanks for the interest, comments, questions, and support about the Ripples in the Status Quo (soon to be renamed to The Fate of the Fallen) series. I love playing in the world and tormenting the characters, and it’s a major compliment to hear any of these things. Very much appreciated. <3

I’ve been promising to write a blog post on what the hell I’m doing, because there’s been some back and forth and waffling. I truly apologize for the confusion, and thank you for sticking around while I figure it out. If you want to skip the rambles about the series in general to the changes to the books, I totally don’t blame you. There are some asterisks to mark where I started rambling about that.

When I first started writing this series, it was meant to be two trilogies: Khaz and Noah’s story, and Ashton and Reese’s story. They were going to be in the same world, but their paths weren’t going to cross except for maybe a cameo. Elias and Jace were meant to appear in a single book and that was it. These were the first books I wrote and published, and I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t want to venture too far out of my comfort zone, so of course I went out in left field.

As I was writing, I realized I had strong ideas for where their stories would collide. I got feedback along the same lines as my thoughts. And I was addicted to writing Elias and Jace, who I knew could be major catalysts along the way.

So Bought, Ravel, and Recoil were now part of the same series. I wrote Owned (which is my favorite of the series, in no small part because my best friend edited for me and helped me make it what I wanted). I switched to self-publishing, revised the first three books, and went about my business. It took me awhile to realize that it wasn’t the best plan in the world, because the three books have vastly different tones, they have different characters, etc.

But it was a little late at that point, unless I wanted to do total rewrites. I had a lot going on, and I wanted to keep moving forward to see what would happen. I wrote Temper, which… is not my favorite for a lot of reasons. I’ll get into that a little later in this post. I got the idea for Puppy and knocked it out in a ridiculously short period of time because it was just fun. I wrote Refraction.

The series has never done particularly well, and I’ve thought about setting it aside several times. Each time, I came back to it because at the end of the day, this is a story I want to tell. I was offered a publishing contract for the French language rights to the series. And that was when I started to mess up. There were some other things going on, but essentially, I considered this a chance to try to fix the problems I knew were there.

I was really excited about it. I had a lot of ideas, and I was sure I could make the series better and potentially more approachable. I started working on it, but I had a lot on my plate. (This is the part where I cackle maniacally, because I have no idea how I was handling it all.) It got pushed back, but I really wanted the re-release out on a certain date.

Then I had a crisis in my personal life, and I’ll admit my heart just wasn’t in it. I knew better, but I released it anyway because I had committed to it and didn’t want to be wishy-washy. I was disappointed in it, feedback was not good, and I just didn’t have the time or energy to put in the work that I’d intended to.

So I made the decision to pull down the rework, which I considered a failed experiment. Instead, I decided to just revise them and put them back up one by one when I was happier with them. Not a perfect solution. Not a solution I really wanted. But it was something. I commissioned new covers for them anyway because of some issues with not having the original files and needing them for the French translation and a few other things, but that’s going to take some time. Eventually, they’ll go into print. They’re short, but hey. I’d like to hold copies of them anyway.

At this current moment, Bought, Ravel, and Recoil are back up on Amazon. Unfortunately, their rules on updates aren’t very friendly, so I can’t get the content pushed out, and I don’t even think you can request it. If you have the originals and you want the new versions, let me know and I’ll get them to you. You can do it now, after I have the new covers, both times — I don’t mind. Just send me an e-mail at raissa(dot)phoenix(at)gmail(dot)com or send me a message on Facebook.

Owned is next up for edits, then Temper and Refraction. The covers are in process. I owe my cover artist some images, and she’s working on one. I’m (slowly) working on getting the paperback versions done. It’s not hard, but it’s time-consuming. I want to work on my outline for the series and take some notes on things I want to make sure I don’t forget to go back to. I have an idea for an Elias/Jace book between Bought and Owned, and I have plans for the 7th book (tentatively titled ‘Sanguine.’). At some point, probably once the covers are done, I’m changing the name of the series to ‘The Fate of the Fallen,’ which I think fits better. So there’s a lot going on there, it’ll take some time, but I’ll be happy at the end of it all. Hopefully. 😉

*****

All of that said, here are the quick (haha, right, like that happened) notes of what has changed and what I expect to change. Note that the expectations may well go out the window when I sit down to actually do the work, because I’m apparently a masochist. I am revising all of them for content, clarity, and overall feel, and I’m correcting typos and errors as I go. (And probably making more.)

Bought:
*Removed the Jace/Spencer flashback scene. The information in this scene is still ‘canon’ to the series, and this scene may find its way in at a later date. Either way, I didn’t feel like it benefited the book to have it in. (It’s far more fun to drop in little hints and clues over the course of the books than to tell everything at once!)
*Rewrote the Elias/Spencer scene. The original scene didn’t convey what I wanted it to, and I wasn’t that happy with it. For what it’s worth, I absolutely love the rewritten chapter.
*Adjusted the timing for the rework… and then promptly left it so vague in the edits  that I don’t think it’s obvious how much time passes. We’re going to say this was intentional, ‘kay? (Nah, I’ll answer this when I finish playing with the outline. I’m not a huge detail person, in case you haven’t noticed that, but I know it matters, especially if I work on the book between Bought and Owned with those two lovelies.
*Added more internal conflict for Jace.
*Smoothed out a few things with Elias that were somewhat contradictory.

Ravel:
*Rewrote the first part of the first chapter. This was originally done for the ‘rework’ to account for continuity between the books, but I ended up liking the rewrite a lot better, so I left it in.
*Removed the first sex scene. Yes, yes, I know. I’ve already been fussed at. But for your amusement (or at least mine, but I’m easily amused), I will share the (somewhat spoilery) gist of the conversation I had with a friend about it that led me to make the decision…

“…This doesn’t even make sense. How even? The way Ashton throws himself at Reese? Nope. I mean, okay, hurt/comfort, but it doesn’t work. And because I took out a lot of the ‘insta love’ elements, it doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s like… ohai, obligatory sex scene…! Seriously, wtf? How the hell do I even fix this? AND! He doesn’t shower first! He came from the slums! He’s filthy! WTF Reese! Make him bathe!” And then a lot of whining.

*As said above, I removed a lot of the ‘insta love’ aspects. During the reread, they didn’t feel right, and I think with the changes, it’ll read more organically. The road will be a little longer, but I think the journey will be better and they’ll have a healthier relationship because of it. (And, seriously, we need a healthy relationship in these books.)
*I smoothed out some of Ashton’s back-and-forth in his head. His issues with supes aren’t terrible, but they are there, and I think they were a little too contradictory at times. Hopefully it’s better now.
*The, er, scene. Big spoiler here, so I don’t want to come out and say it. But you know how he does a bad thing? I tried to explain that a little better.
*Holy crap, people. Typos. TYPOS. That’s all I’m saying. Ahem.

Recoil:
*There were several references to things that happened off-screen, and it was a dynamic I loved. But it was almost solely telling, not showing, and I opted to alter the dynamic in the existing scenes some instead of doing a ton of rewriting. (Noah and Khaz getting under each other’s skin. It’s still there, but I don’t think it’s as ‘hey, you didn’t see it, but it totally happened.’)
*Added a Noah scene to smooth out continuity — again, addressing the telling, not showing, thing. I felt like there needed to be a chapter from his POV sooner in the narrative. I had wanted to add another scene with him (right before Khaz’s POV with Mays), but it wasn’t really working so I left it out.
*I felt like Noah’s shift was a little too abrupt, so I moved some things around and reworded, added, etc. I think it makes better sense now.

Owned:
*I don’t anticipate many changes. This is my favorite book of the series, and I’ve been really happy with it. But this is me we’re talking about, so who knows? 

Temper:
*This is where the major changes come in. Some of the things I did in this book were because I felt obligated to for various reasons. I stalled out several times writing this book, and it was because I was trying to write something I didn’t really want.
*I think a certain event was unnecessarily detailed, and while I’m not taking it out, I am going to try to work with it until I’m happier with it. This graphic scene wasn’t meant to be sexy, and a lot of it can be condensed and referenced. I don’t want to back off completely, but I think it’s excessive as written.
*I was actually appalled by the victim-blaming comments on this book. One of my biggest goals is to try to figure out where I went wrong.  I don’t want to spoon feed, but at the same time, I’m doing the series a real disservice if people are coming out of this book feeling that way about this character.
*There’s a Khaz/Noah cameo in here, and while I know exactly where it is in the timeline, I know it’s not super obvious. I’m going to see what I can do here, which may be a grand total of nothing.

Refraction:
*This one’s still pretty new, and I was very pleased by how it turned out. I like the tone, the style, the feel, the story, the characters… I had a lot of help with the more fast-paced actiony scenes, and I think it paid off.
*I plan on adding 1-2 Elias/Jace scenes. I had one written in the original draft, but I took it out based on some very good feedback that basically amounted to, why the hell are you condensing all of this into one chapter? This could easily be 3-5 chapters of the next book and deserves that attention! And since I love those two… I didn’t replace it at the time, because I didn’t want to add in something rote just because. Based on the changes to Bought, I have a few ideas.
*There’s something that happens at the very end that I questioned a lot when writing the original draft, then again when editing.  It was pointed out to me that it was too soon, and I went back and forth and decided to ultimately go with it.  Now, I realize I shouldn’t have. So chances are, Khaz’s confession is coming out.

…Phew. Okay, if you read this far, I commend you. I swear, I’m going to be keeping this just as notes to myself so I don’t forget things. So. Er. Yeah! I look forward to sharing all of this with you.

With all my heart, I thank you for reading the books and reading this.

<3

R.

Copyright

Published / by R. Phoenix / Leave a Comment

Made a few notes from what I have from my Laws/Ethics Computer Class… I even did my term paper on this, but I was rusty on the details. Primary source is from 2012, so take that with a grain of salt. I’m going to be doing an assignment with copyright infringement for my Forensics class in the next few days, and I’m going to take advantage of that to look a little more into it. 

–“Literary work” does not require any sort of ‘skill.’ It applies even to e-mails and blogs.
–Original + Fixed in a tangible medium. [Author can claim copyright for similar/identical preexisting works that they created. i.e. a business logo being altered. Uncertain whether or not the copyright registration extends to similar works. Going to double check.]
–Ebooks/Digital Works do qualify. [“work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”]
–Registration is not required. “Copyright protection ‘subsists’ from the moment of creation. This means that the instant a work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression, that work is protected by federal copyright law without the need for any action on the part of the author. (Ferrera et al. 2012)”
–A copyright NOTICE i.e. (c) for works published after 1989 is not required. However, it can serve as a warning to others and prevent infringers from defending based on “innocent infringement.” This notice must have: copyright sign, abbreviation, or word “copyright.” + date of first publication + copyright owner’s name.
–Copyright confers 6 exclusive rights: reproduction, preparation of derivative works (book to movie); distribution of copies to the public (selling/renting); public performance; public display; public performance via digital audio.
–However, registering has benefits: Can file for infringement actions in federal court; copyright owner (if registered PRIOR TO infringement) can collect statutory damages (up to $150k/work)/attorney fees; can be recorded with Customs to prevent “importation of infringing articles into the United States.”
–“For works made for hire and anonymous and pseudonymous works, the duration of copyright is 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter (unless the author’s identity is later revealed in Copyright Office records, in which case the term becomes the author’s life plus 70 years) (US Copyright Office n.d.).” 
–This might be interesting… the First Sale Doctrine “the owner of a particular copy of a copyrighted work may resell or otherwise dispose of that copy without the permission of the copyright owner.” With digital items, this is a little different. “When it comes to the digital world, first sale is already under attack. Copyright holders are trying to undermine our first sale rights by forcing users to license items they would rather buy. The copyright industry wants you to “license” all your music, your movies, your games — and lose your rights to sell them or modify them as you see fit.” [Electronic Frontier Foundation] Interesting considering Amazon simply licenses ebooks to readers. This might have something to do with it.
By the way, to tell you how seriously the government might take this… Jammie Thomas-Rassett had downloaded 24 songs in Kazaa. The damages equaled $1.92 million.

PS, as a compulsive editor, I found this useful: “How much do I have to change in my own work to make a new claim of copyright? You may make a new claim in your work if the changes are substantial and creative, something more than just editorial changes or minor changes. This would qualify as a new derivative work. For instance, simply making spelling corrections throughout a work does not warrant a new registration, but adding an additional chapter would. See Circular 14, Copyright Registration in Derivative Works and Compilations, for further information (U.S. Copyright Office, n.d.).”

Sources:

Electronic Frontier Foundation. n.d. “You’ve Been Owned: Stand Up For Digital First Sale.” Accessed January 2, 2017. https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8935

Ferrera, Gerald R., Margo E.K. Reder, Robert C. Bird, Jonathan J. Darrow, Jeffrey M. Aresty, Jacqueline Klosek, Stephen D. Lichtenstein. 2012. Cyberlaw Text & Cases. Mason, Ohio: South-Western, Cengage Learning

United States Copyright Office. n.d. “Registering a Work.” Accessed January 3. 2017. https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-register.html#change

–. n.d. “Duration of Copyright.” Accessed January 2, 2017. https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15a.pdf

–. n.d. “Copyright in General.” Accessed January 3, 2017. https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html

Other Websites for Reference re: DMCA

The DMCA Takedown Notice Demystified

https://www.eff.org/files/2014/09/16/unintendedconsequences2014.pdf

https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#512

 

Empathy

Published / by R. Phoenix / Leave a Comment

This rhetoric is so much more poisonous than I ever could have dreamed. I just… I can’t do it. I am trying and trying to look at their side of this, and I am trying so fucking hard to understand. Every time, I just burst into tears because I’m apparently incapable of understanding. (So people calling me a crybaby for speaking up right now? Yeah. I am a crybaby. Thanks for the trauma, y’all. Didn’t have enough before this.)

I feel like in a lot of ways, we’re really seeing who people are. And it’s not even just about excusing racism, sexism, etc. It goes so much deeper than that. Our society, by and large, is comprised of people who put themselves above the greater good — because generally, we’re taught that we’re on our own. People who ask for help are criticized and denigrated. “Well, if *I* can do this, so can they…!”

So a lot of it, in my opinion, comes from these cultural expectations. We internalize a lot of it without even thinking about it, and we have to fight to get back out. And it isn’t easy. You have to want to do it, for whatever reason. I’m not going to say this is true of everyone, but I don’t think it’s rare. Sometimes it’s because of your own situation — race, orientation, etc. Or a loved one’s. Or maybe just that you aren’t okay with people being treated poorly, and it gives you the motivation to step up. I don’t know.

Point is, at the end of the day, it comes down to empathy. Prejudice comes down to (again, in my opinion) a) the inability to relate to people who are different and/or b) the need to put others down to raise yourself up. And that’s problematic for a multitude of reasons.

To be able to support someone who so flippantly talked about grabbing a woman by her pussy, who has several cases pending against him, demonstrates a lack of empathy — because honestly, of the women I’ve really gotten to know, the percentage of those who haven’t been assaulted in some way is quite low. He could have given a real apology instead of a non-apology. He could have said, I didn’t do this, but hey, isn’t this a great time to put a spotlight on sexual assault? He threatened to sue these women, said that they just wanted their ten/fifteen/whatever minutes of fame when they were dragged through hell for speaking up.

To be able to defend someone who has the full support of the KKK *and is unwilling to denounce them* demonstrates a lack of empathy. (It’s not necessarily that the KKK is supporting them — okay, it is, but let’s say for the sake of argument it isn’t because I see people saying he can’t help who supports him *bullshit* — but it’s that he hasn’t spoken out against their practices. In fact, he’s gone and appointed a white supremacist to an important position. Hate crimes have skyrocketed, and many are saying liberals are making it up or are staging them or that it’s always been this way (terrible argument, btw).

To be able to condone his positions on immigrants when our country has such a long history of welcoming immigrants and so many people are desperately seeking asylum or what they think will be better lives demonstrates a lack of empathy. Fear tactics have become so normal that people are quick to use them. I saw a straight white guy say he’s afraid for his life because terrorists might pull him out of his car and kill him — but he thinks it’s stupid for us to be afraid. What are the odds of him being attacked by terrorists versus the odds of minorities being attacked by their own countrymen?

To be able to get past the fact that there are notable similarities to Hitler, that people are trying to silence those speaking out against Trump (especially when those very people never shut up about Obama), that minorities and friends of minorities and for fuck’s sake, GOOD PEOPLE, are terrified, that he refuses to denounce violence in his name, that he hasn’t paid his taxes in years but criticizes impoverished people for not paying them, that he’s spent all this time spreading hatred and vitriol…

I’m so sorry to say it, but I personally am having a hard time keeping people like that in my life. I can’t teach empathy. I can’t teach compassion. Not at this point in time, when I’m angry and hurt and afraid. Yes, I want to fight like hell and help them to see the problem so we can change it together. But I can’t say I want them close to me.

And honestly? A lot of supposed Christians are supporting this hate speech, this vitriol, and it’s like they’ve forgotten that their savior advocated kindness and compassion, that he condemned judging because it’s their God’s place to do so, that he advocated on behalf of the poor and the persecuted… Because they see themselves as being persecuted and under attack for being unable to impose their beliefs on other people.

In the end, I think that’s the problem. Because all my life, I remember being taught to sit down and shut up. To keep my opinions to myself. Oh, he doesn’t know any better. Oh, she wouldn’t listen anyway. Oh, he’s old and set in his ways. Oh, if he found out you went to a dance with a black guy, he’d have a heart attack (true story). And our fear tells me that I’m probably not too far off on at least one facet — because if we believed people were empathetic to our plight, we wouldn’t be afraid of being attacked.

Being called hateful, intolerant, unwilling to listen to others’ beliefs, arrogant, selfish, unimportant, delusional, a fuck-up — all things I’ve been called lately — when I speak up is something I’m having to get used to. I don’t like it.

Okay, so tl;dr version: People who are able to support Trump lack empathy. I can try to teach that to them by educating them, and I will try. But when it comes down to it, I’m not optimistic in my chances. People have to want to change. And honestly, I’m not sure what to do about that. In the end, I think we have to decide if we want to try to teach them or if explaining and letting them go sends a more powerful message.

Musings on Being Better, Religion, & Things

Published / by R. Phoenix / 2 Comments on Musings on Being Better, Religion, & Things

I don’t make it a secret that I’m a very socially awkward person, or that I’ve come a long way since I’ve started to interact on FB. One thing I’ve been trying to do for a while is make eye contact with people and smile. It’s harder than it sounds, at least for me, but I see the response.

Today, I went to a Mexican restaurant, and I kept wondering if the staff is experiencing the sort of thing we are. It made me try just a little harder to be a little more attentive, to be a little more present, and to engage in ways that quite frankly scare the hell out of me. I’m not saying that to pat myself on the back, though I am proud of myself. I’m saying it because this is something I’ve never done before, and it’s scary, but I’m seeing a difference.

We tipped extra well, and I just wrote ‘thank you’ on the receipt. Nothing special. Just… simple things. My husband and I got into a conversation about it, because I mentioned what was running through my head, and he’s blunt about the fact that he’s only going to be nice to people who deserve it. That’s how he’s always been. And I just keep thinking.

I want to be the bigger person, the better person, but I’m honestly not sure this is the time for that. Like I’ve seen going around the Internet, this isn’t about what kind of coffee or chocolate you like. This is about human rights. I’ve done a lot of reading — and honestly, it makes my stomach turn — about why people voted for Trump. I’m trying to understand. And I just can’t.

I honestly don’t like the person I’ve become since this election started, but at the same time, I can’t understand. I just can’t. I’ve spent hours deliberating, reading, listening, crying, raging, lashing out, comforting, agreeing, disagreeing… and right now, I just don’t know if being a better person in the traditional sense — “respecting” others’ opinions, “agreeing to disagree,” and what have you — is the right response.

I don’t know. I think now, more than ever, is the time to say, “no, this isn’t okay, and I’m not going to agree to disagree.” Because to do that is to say that they have a right to hatred and prejudice. Who am I to say they’re wrong? Who am I to say that my opinion is more valid? It seems like common sense to me, but obviously it really isn’t. So… what then? What now?

Trump said he’d make America great again, and the message many people got was that he’d take us back in time — that he’d reverse rights and guide us to a more conservative-friendly nation where people could stick their heads in the sand about racism and rape culture (to say the least). That he’d return jobs. That he would put religion and conservative ‘values’ forward in a country that supposedly embraces freedom of religion.

Hillary said she’d move us forward, that we’d see progress, that we wouldn’t accept this state of things. And that’s scary to a lot of people. That’s unknown. The consequences and benefits aren’t always obvious. But to a lot of us, it represented hope — for a greater, more inclusive America rather than a greater, more divided America.

I had another conversation today about our tendency (at least in the United States) to put ourselves above the greater good. Maybe it’s true; maybe it’s European bias. 😉 Either way, I think that’s what happened in this election. People were so focused on one issue, or hell, even a few, and they didn’t think about the repercussions for other people.

They didn’t care.

This doesn’t make sense to me. Those who accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior seem to forget that a common view of him is that he promotes love, forgiveness, avoiding judging, considering wealth and poverty, hypocrisy, prayer… And yet the loudest Christians are those who focus on isolated verses, primarily in the Old Testament, in a book that’s undergone translations and cultural bias as well as different representations of certain ideals.

Homosexuality is (in theory) a sin. So is divorce. So is eating shrimp. Judging others is a no-no, and yet many feel the need to judge others and impose their own values on them. Many are pro-life, but how many of them adopt children who have no homes? How many accept the murder of doctors who perform abortions? How many are willing to sacrifice the mother — whether it’s her life or her quality of life? I saw someone not long ago say that she was thinking of the babies. What about adults? Yes, children need our protection, but we don’t lose value because we become adults. We don’t become less deserving of love and respect.

Some worry about trans folks raping others (or people masquerading as trans folks to get into places where they can), but we have a man accused of rape about to enter the White House. Those who are supposedly representatives of God have gotten away with rape on many occasions.

These are the ‘traditional’ values I hear about a lot. And no matter how many times I think through it and deliberate and go through my early life as a Roman Catholic, I can’t figure it out. Honestly? I’m not sure I want to. I’m really not sure I want to understand how people can justify seeing some people as lesser, or less deserving of love and compassion. I’m not really sure I want to understand how people can attack others based on who they love.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, yet casting that stone means that judgment has been done. Judge not. That’s not our place. Yes, the real meaning of this is often debated and deliberated and discussed, but so much of the Bible and faith are.

We’re willing to sacrifice the livelihood, the well-being, the *lives* of those who don’t believe as we do. And I suppose what it comes down to for me is the willingness of some to impose their beliefs upon others. I don’t like or accept their prejudices, and yet… I can’t change that. All I can do is resist their efforts to force me to believe as they do or suffer the consequences.

Someone once told me that I lack faith because I’ve been failed by so many people in my life — that if tangible people can’t earn my trust, how can a concept? I’m not sure if she was right, but it’s never quite left me. Now, in particular, I think about it a lot, because my belief in the basic goodness of people was shattered in this election. Yet here I am, pushing myself to smile and make eye contact, to work towards being able to put myself out there and push to demand positive change, to demand that love and compassion hold more value than hatred. If I didn’t believe that people were essentially good, I wouldn’t bother.

Right now, I’m quick to cut someone out of my life who supported Trump, because they’ve shown me that even if they support human rights, it’s not the most important thing to them. The act of supporting this man is the act of telling me that you’re willing to accept him despite (or because of!) the hate and terror he perpetuated.

I won’t support a president who represents hatred.

I won’t support a vice president whose flawed religious views dictate his denigration of others.

The world is watching, and one way or another, we’re going to be held accountable for how we handle this. As I was reminded during a particularly low episode last night, though, we aren’t alone in this. As strange as it is for me to think about needing the intervention of global human rights organizations, it’s comforting to know they’re there. We may not be ‘as bad off’ as other countries, but it’s our responsibility to ensure that we don’t start down that slippery slope.

American values tell us that if you work hard enough, you can be anything you want, you can do anything you want. Right now, we’re seeing how that’s true for those who would push us down, but I have to remember the flip side, too — that if we work hard enough, we can make a difference, initiate change, and ensure our quality of life is what it should be.

Work in Progress

Published / by R. Phoenix / Leave a Comment

Hey, guess what! I’ve been working on a contemporary romance. Yup. Me. Shocking, I know. My brain needs to be checked. Here’s the first excerpt! (Though the book will have warnings for domestic violence and abuse, this snippet only has warnings for really bad humor.) I’ll share more information as I get closer to finishing.

###

He stops, and I run into him again.

“We have to stop meeting like this,” I say feebly.

He barks out a laugh, shaking his head. “Well, that’s embarrassing.”

“For you or for me?” I ask. “Inquiring minds need to know.” I back away from him a little, half-expecting to feel eyes on me and know that someone saw me too close to someone who isn’t Gabriel.

“I’m going to guess… both.”

“Damn it,” I respond, gathering myself again. I like this banter. It feels good to relax after being so keyed up since I got that email asking for a meeting. “You caught me. But yeah, I’m just here for a meeting. Not to sleep through Algebra.”

“So it’s probably a bad idea to tell you that I teach math,” he says, grinning at me. I like the sight of it. School would have been infinitely more interesting if I’d had more teachers like him when I’d been here.

“Bet I could sleep my way through your class too,” I reply cheerfully. And I feel a little guilty for thinking in more ways than one.

He laughs again, shaking his head. “I’m Dexter Weston,” he says, offering his hand out to me.

I arch a brow. “Dexter? Like the serial killer?” Nice, Sky. Really nice.

“Like the fictional serial killer, yes,” he says, and his voice is more than a little dry. Well, I doubt I’m the first one to say something about his name.

I take his hand, and the touch sends something warm coursing through me. I ignore it, shaking his hand and marveling at the controlled strength in it before releasing it. “Skylar Orion.” I eye him. “Don’t even,” I tell him before he can speak.

He laughs again, and it sounds genuine, like something natural. I like it as much as his smile, and both seem to be quick to make appearances. “I would never.”

I snort.

“Come on,” he says, nodding toward the office. “Let’s get your visitor pass so no one else mistakes you for a student and tries to put you in detention. Then we can go chat.”

Right. The chat. The whole reason I’m here to begin with. I think I liked the bantering better. “Am I going to be wishing I was in detention by the end of it?” I ask as he opens the door for me. I step inside, flashing him a smile.

“That would be telling.”

Refraction

Published / by R. Phoenix / Leave a Comment

Coming Soon…14114659_10153694832546750_2121602117_o

“I am afraid, Julian,” she whimpered, and in her mind’s eye, she saw the stars winking out, one by one, as the world began to destroy itself from the inside out. “I am afraid. You call me insane; you all see me as a madwoman, but I know enough to be afraid. I am afraid.”

Julian was silent. The confession was something new; she had never dared admit it. For a vampire of her years to be afraid… She could only imagine what he might be thinking, and she clutched harder at him.

“You know not what you’ve done,” she whispered, pleaded, somehow. “Tell your brother… Tell him, Julian. You must tell him.”

“What do you want me to tell him, Desideria?” he inquired, smoothing his fingers through her tangled hair.

“Tell him…” She hesitated, because these words would be the most important she had ever spoken. “Tell him — I don’t know. Julian, I do not know. There’s so much blood, the slaughter of innocents and not-innocents, and I want it. I want it so badly, but it’s… It’s all wrong now, somehow. The world is awash with blood, and we’ll glut ourselves into extinction.”

She laughed, high and wild.

“Perhaps it’s too late,” she said, not knowing if she was laughing or crying as Julian’s lips brushed her brow. “Perhaps we’re already there.”

 

Coming soon…

Weapon of Mass Destruction [Ashton & Reese]

Published / by R. Phoenix / Leave a Comment

This is an unedited short set in the RISQ world, approximately after Temper in timeline but without spoilers. 

Ashton glowered at the four-legged master of mass destruction in front of him, watching as it wagged its tail–and then promptly hopped behind Reese. The little furball yipped happily and darted forward, running between his lover’s legs–which was his territory, thank you very much–and then going straight for Ashton’s ankles. This time, Ashton was the one to yelp as he nearly fell over, trying to get away from the creature.

“What is that?” Ashton demanded, jumping up onto a chair instead and staring down at the beast on the floor.

Reese, who had spun around to watch Ashton leap away from the animal like a gymnast playing leapfrog, was trying to hide a smile, but Ashton knew him well enough to where he wasn’t keeping any secrets.

“It’s not funny, Reese!”

From behind him, he heard his best friend’s voice remark, “Actually, I think it’s pretty fucking hilarious.”

Ashton would have turned to look at Leo, but then he would have had to take his attention off of the miniature monstrosity that was now yipping away in front of his chair, small claws on huge paws scrabbling for purchase on one of the bottom rungs of it. “You. Hush,” he chided, flinging his hand in Leo’s general direction.

“Me. Leo.” Leo mocked him, and Ashton could hear his friend’s footsteps as he walked into the kitchen. They were so heavy in comparison to Reese’s, but then, he didn’t know a single human who could out-stealth a werewolf.

Even a former thief like him couldn’t pull that off.

“This is a dog, and I thought you’d like him as a pet,” Reese admitted, stepping up behind the thing and picking it up.

Ashton shuddered as the creature’s tongue ran along his lover’s neck. “I am never kissing you there again,” he announced when Reese made no move to avoid the molestation. “Not even if you scrub it with bleach. And that’s not a pet. What you have there is a ball of noisy fluff. That licks. And pisses. And destroys things.”

“So basically, you’re afraid your role in this household is going to be usurped,” Leo said, stopping just within Ashton’s peripheral vision as he hopped down–warily–from the chair.

“His name,” Reese said, his pale blue-grey eyes sparkling, “is Thor. Can you hate Thor?”

Ashton glowered at him. With the amount of times he’d compared Reese to a Viking or some sort of Norse god, he couldn’t exactly claim to hate Thor, even if he wanted to.

Badly.

“Not when I’m calling you Thor,” he huffed. “But it’s a dog.” Which he said like he was talking about a nuclear explosion, because as far as he was concerned, he was. It was only a matter of time until the fluffball exploded all over the place. “And I’m not cleaning up after it.”

“Him,” Reese pointed out dryly. “He’s definitely a him.”

“I’m sure the dog is secure enough in his masculinity to where he doesn’t need you to defend his manhood,” Ashton informed the werewolf in the room, scowling at him.

“Ash,” Leo said, his voice sounding strange enough to where Ashton turned his head to look at his friend–who was trying so hard not to laugh that the syllable came out strangled.

“Oh, sure. Just laugh it up,” Ashton replied irritably. “Some friend you are.”

“I’m a fantastic friend. If the little tiny ball of fluff your boyfriend named Thor like he’s a badass goes for you, I’ll have his phone ready to take pictures.” Leo grinned, leaning against the wall. “But don’t mind me. I’m just here to watch.”

“And mock,” Ashton grumbled.

“That, too.”

Ashton looked for something to throw, but his knife-throwing skills weren’t particularly up to par, and he opted to pass on throwing sharp objects at his friend.

There were plenty of other ways to get him back.