Thursday, February 18, 2016

Shadows of Blues & Echoes: Chapter One

Shadows of Blues & EchoesThe 2nd EMK Artists & Cottages
Contemporary Romance Series

Chapter One
(pre-release excerpt, may change in editing)

“You absolutely cannot put me on that story.”

“Oh, Gillian, relax. It’s just a story.”

“There’s no such thing as just a story and you know it, even if you are totally immersed in your high-brow editor job now instead of being another nobody low-life writer like me.”

“Don’t get personal. I’m still your friend...”

“Then make someone else do it. Kevin or ... or Sally. Yes, send Sally. I’d love to see her wear her $500 Gucci shoes out in the dirt.”

Karenne brushed her long, fake, perfectly polished fingers through her wavy brunette hair. The professional highlights nearly sparkled as she slipped part of it behind her ear. “Gucci is handbags, dear, not shoes.”

“I thought they were shoes, also.” Gillian had to pause her rant to think a minute. “They are shoes, also. I know they are. I’ve heard her say it often enough. Anyway, send Sally.”

“Can you imagine Sally doing that story the way it needs to be done? She’d laugh at the whole thing. That’s why I have her on pop culture stuff and not on real stuff. You wanted the real stuff, so go do it.”

“Real?” Gillian rolled her eyes and stuffed her hands into her beige cardigan pockets. “A big time hotshot went to live in the woods and you call that real? He’s an attention seeker. So what?”

“I don’t think so, not since he goes by a different name out there, which means he doesn’t want to be associated with his past life, which means it’s a story I want. Badly. I want this, Gilly. And I want it right. That’s why I’m sending you.”

“But ... but ... he’s a man. In the woods. Alone. What kind of friend would send a defenseless girl out to find a man alone in the woods who doesn’t want to be found?”

“Defenseless?” Karenne tossed her head back and guffawed.

“Okay, okay.”

“You? Defenseless? That’s the best thing I’ve heard in years. Come on, Gilly. That’s another reason I’m sending you. I never have to worry about you. You’d fall from a skyscraper and end up bouncing off some big fat guy and get nothing but a scrape on your elbow. The poor guy might not be so lucky, but...”

“Real funny.” Gillian sighed and lowered onto a chair on the wrong side of the editor’s desk. The friendship card wasn’t working this time. Maybe Karenne was right about every point she made, but still ... the woods. In the mountains. Where it was cold. And had no convenience stores. And ... and it was dirty. With bugs and ... slithery things.

She shuddered hard.

Karenne leaned in over her desk. “I know you don’t want to do this and I know how you hate snakes and anything else that moves around outside that’s hard to see. I know, Gillian, but you need to do this. I can’t keep you in the ‘real stories’ department if you keep doing the TMZ kind of things...”

“That’s what sells. It’s what put my name out there.”

“And yet you just complained about this super bachelor millionaire recluse story, which is, I’m sorry to say, a step above your last two pieces.”

“You assigned them.”

“I wanted you to do more with them, and you know that.”

Gillian let herself slump into the fake leather chair, which she rarely did. She’d learned to hold herself up and look like she was someone so people would believe she was. In front of Karenne, she didn’t feel the need. “The subjects didn’t deserve more time than I gave them, and this won’t deserve much, either. So what? He got tired of ... whatever the hell you get tired of when you have a bazillion or whatever dollars and feel sorry for yourself for some ridiculous reason and he went to do a Thoreau thing. So what? It’s been done.”

“Everything’s been done. You know that’s not the point. Go find your angle to make this different.” Karenne stood. “Not up for discussion. This is your assigment. Go do it. You leave first thing in the morning.” She handed a long envelope across the desk, her expression saying not to argue one minute longer.

So she didn’t argue. Gillian took the envelope that would hold her plane ticket and itinerary and forced herself not to sigh again. She half thought about stomping her foot but didn’t allow that, either. She’d worked too hard to become a professional.

And Renne was right. Her writing had slipped. Her interest had slipped. It just didn’t seem to matter anymore what she wrote about or how she wrote it. No one still read the actual paper and the paper’s website got few views, especially the ‘real stories’ section. People wanted gossip. They wanted scandal. They did not want anything that made them actually think.

Why should she bother?

And yet she had to either bother, and to bother a hell of a lot better than she had recently, or she had to find a new profession. The thought of starting over, though, made her shiver all the way down her spine to her toes.

Maybe she was in a rut, but at least it was her rut and she was comfortable there.


In a rut.

What in the hell had happened to her?

She used to feel fire in her soul at the start of every new piece. The research made her near giddy. Going out and grabbing information people didn’t want found but that needed to be found was the biggest rush she’d ever had. At thirty-two, maybe that was pathetic. Still, it was something. Something she’d created.

It was something. But it was hardly enough anymore.

And now she had to go out, not only out of town, but way out of town into the middle of nowhere, into a world she’d escaped, to do a fluff piece about a rich guy and try to make it sound like a real story.

Life was just too grand at times.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pre-Release Excerpt: Gillian and the Crows

The following excerpt is from a work in progress. Do not quote. May change in edits.

Gillian made her way to the door and knocked, lightly at first, then louder when there was no reply. Someone lived there. It was obvious between the open windows and tire tracks that led around the back. She knocked harder. No reply. No stirring. No sound other than the raucous crows swirling above the trees that gave her a creepy feeling.

She didn’t like birds. Well, canaries in cages were fine. They were pretty. Small. Non-threatening. She could deal with canaries. Those were no canaries. They were crows. Gillian had read that crows were smart. Not a comforting thought, as far as she was concerned.

She shivered. In the heat.

No one home. Lovely. She’d have to continue up the small-ass road and see what else she came across. For all she knew, it was just over the hill.

Cursing inwardly, Gillian made her way back to her car, clenched her jaw when the tires skidded on gravel, and eased back onto the road, such as it was.

After what must have been five more miles, she shook her head and turned back. She’d wait for someone to return to the little cottage and ask if she was in the right place. With any luck, they’d at least be as friendly as Henry and wish her well, at least in health. Everyone she’d met in the area, other than that cabbie, had been very friendly. Polite. Well-mannered. She figured it would extend decently up into the mountains.

This time she pulled in front of the cottage and walked boldly to the front door. A fool thought just because something was safe the first time, it would continue to be so, but she felt it, anyway.

Again no answer, and she hadn’t expected different. She wasn’t about to sit in the car that by now would be hot again already, so she wandered the front yard, noticed the large stack of wood, considered walking around to the back but thought better of it. No use offending the owner if he returned to find her being so nosy. It would be hard to ask for assistance that way.

Instead, she wandered away from the place, just a bit into the tree line the front door looked out over. She hesitated at a rustling and looked over to find a couple of squirrels chasing each other. Mating, she supposed. At least something didn’t let the heat bother them.

Something other than the crows, which now circled to the side of her, to what she thought was northeast. Who needed a compass when you had instinct? Gillian should have told Henry that when he asked if she had a compass...

The thought of crows circling stopped her in her tracks. Crows circled dying things while waiting for food. Was the owner out there? Injured? Surely anyone living out here would be well prepared and capable of taking care of himself.

Still, maybe she could return the favor of Henry’s rescue by helping someone else. Not sure what on earth she would do about it if it was a man who would by all rights be heavier than she could handle, Gillian at least could run back to the car and drive to town for help.


Either way, she had to check, so she headed the direction of the crows, fighting her own fear of them, and hurried her steps.

It was a rough patch of land. A couple of times her Keds got stuck and pulled off a foot and she had to stop long enough to get it back on. A couple of times she lost her balance and scuffed herself. As long as she didn’t break something, she could deal with scuffs. She was never low on scuffs and scratches as a child. If needed, makeup would cover them well enough when she returned to Denver. But she did have to be able to drive back to...

Water. She heard what sounded like trickling water. Slowing her steps and hanging onto small young trees as she made her way down the small ravine, she saw the water. A little stream. Not terribly little. But beautiful, nestled beneath the trees where it was shaded. A soft wind rustled the leaves above it and harmonized with the trickling sound.

Gillian had to treat herself for the punishment of the last couple of days. She’d soak her hot feet in the stream and sit and rest a bit before continuing. Her break. Everyone got breaks at work. She might as well allow herself the same.

Durango, Colorado.
A small time reporter for a small time paper trying to make a name for herself.
A mountain hermit who wants nothing to do with publicity.

The next Artists & Cottages novel coming soon from Ella M. Kaye.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Romance Week!

Forget waiting for a Valentine treat. Get one, or more than one, for yourself! What's better for a nice romantic day than to get swept away to a beach or a cottage in the woods and lose yourself in two people finding true love? Pick up an Ella M. Kaye romance and buy yourself that box of chocolates. Go ahead. You deserve it!

Oh, did you notice? EMK has a new look! What do you think of the new header?

Let me know here and/or leave a question for me this week through Valentine's Day at Goodreads, and I'll select several winners for the barefoot bottle opener. It's magnetic. It won't stick to your cooler, but it will stick to your refrigerator.

A few updates since my blog has been so quiet:

There are full drafts in editing stage for the next two Artists & Cottages books that will be coming along soon, plus a new series in the works. My header gives it away. ;-) I also have an idea in mind for the next Dancers & Lighthouses book. It'll feature a dance genre I've fallen in love with in recent years that I wish had been around back when I was still in dance classes.

So, I may be quiet around here, but I'm definitely still working.

I'm a little late on this, but I hope everyone has a wonderful, enlightening, and joyful 2016!