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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Guest Mary Abshire talks about her new book, Catching an Evil Tail

Today for my A to Z Blogging Challenge it's "E" for Evil day. I'm welcoming  author Mary Abshire back to my blog to tell us about her book Catching an Evil Tail.

Hello Everyone! Thanks for stopping by and reading my post.

 I'm on a blog/book tour promoting my second Soul Catcher novel, Catching an Evil Tail. Today, I'm going to talk about places and research.

 I have been asked a few times how much research do I conduct when I write. The truth is, I don't do much research. In my first Soul Catcher novel, Claiming the Evil Dead, events take place in Indianapolis and Chicago. I used real places, though I altered a few details inside clubs. I live in Indy and frequently visit Chicago, so I'm familiar with places and streets. In Catching an Evil Tail, she travels to a real destination. Again, I was familiar with the area, but not the exact details of the place she stays. So I didn't conduct much research at all for those two books.

When I'm not familiar with the local, I Google. God bless Google. For the third book and the one I'm finishing now, I've had to conduct more research since I was not at all familiar with the places Jessie visits. The places are real and I'd love to visit them. The Internet is my main tool for research. Then, I alter a few details from my research.

When I write, I try to keep the research to a small amount and leave my imagination make up the fine details. I don't want to spend too many hours researching when I could be doing what I love, writing. But if anyone was curious or wanted to visit the places, I assure you, ninety-eight percent are real.

Book Description:

Half-demon Jessie Garrett wants to live a normal life among her friends and keep her soul catching ability a secret, but supernatural creatures keep popping up in her world. Adding to her struggles, her vampire lover remains out of the country, and when he offers no valuable explanation as to why he hasn't returned, she wonders if she should move on without him.

As if Jessie doesn't have enough worries on her mind, the demon yearning to seduce her shows up at her home. She longs to liberate herself from the debt she owes him, and when he asks for her help, she jumps at the chance to make a new deal with him—one that will guarantee her freedom. The only catch? She has to send the soul of a werewolf to hell.

Love, trust, and loyalty are on the line. Torn between her feelings for her vampire boyfriend, a hot Alpha wolf, and a demon vowing to protect her, Jessie must figure out her heart's true desires.

Buy it at:

Author Bio:
Mary is a part-time Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy author living in Indianapolis with her loving husband, witty daughter, and ridiculous cat. The paranormal world has always been an interest of her's. She grew up watching Sci-Fi and Horror shows. As a teenager--many, many years ago--she read Anne Rice and wrote to pen-pals (stamps were cheap and computers weren't in every household). Though she dropped the pen for a while, her love for the paranormal continued. She started writing full length novels a few years ago and hasn't stopped. Not only does she love stories about vampires, she enjoys books with demons, werewolves, shapeshifters, dragons, and just about any supernatural creature.

Mary is a PRO member of the Romance Writers Association and Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter.

Learn more about Mary at these sites:

Excerpt from Catching an Evil Tail
Chapter One

The rusted hinges on the barn doors squealed loud enough to wake the dead two counties away. I cringed and squeezed the bottle of water in my hand. Lester and Kyle tugged on the heavy wooden doors, creating the shrill noise that sounded worse than nails scratching down a chalkboard.

"Are you sure the owner is okay with us wandering around in here?" I asked my roommate, Dani.

I held my hand above my eyes, shielding them from the afternoon sun beating down on us.

Dani stood next to me holding the video camera at her side. Dressed in jean shorts and a soft pink shirt that matched her finger and toenails, she looked calm, cool, and collected, as always. "Yeah, I spoke with him yesterday to confirm we were coming. He said any time before dark was fine with him. Oh, and he doesn't want us to disturb anything."

My ears stung when another whine screamed from the doors. "Does this count as a disturbance, because I think the dead might hear us," I said.

"He said anything, not anyone." She smiled, as she tucked her blonde hair behind her ear. "Come on, guys, hurry up." She stepped closer to Kyle and Lester.

"If I get cut from this rotted wood, I'm sending my doctor bill to you." Lester half-complained and half-joked as he pulled the faded gray door over the uncut grass. A glare from the sun reflected off his glasses when he turned and shot a blinding beam of light straight at me.

"Send me a bill, and I'll shove it up your ass. Be a man and deal with it." Dani hovered closer to the opening between the doors.

I lowered my head to hide my grin. Lester consistently teased Dani, and as usual, her smart responses shut him up. Still, their song and dance routine brought a smile to my face.

The sun shined bright, and the humidity made the air feel as hot as August instead of late June. I rubbed a hand across my forehead, clearing the sweat. Though I pinned my long hair back in a ponytail, it helped little to keep me cool. The dark color of my hair soaked up the sun's rays like a sponge. Wearing shorts with a camisole didn't help cool me down much either. My body maintained a one-hundred-degree temperature, thanks to my demon blood, and I was doomed once I stepped foot outside our air-conditioned car. I so disliked the summer months.

"I think we can squeeze through now," I said while approaching the four-foot opening. If I had to wait any longer under the hot sun and listen to another squeal, I was going to scream bloody murder.

"Yeah, that's good," Dani said in agreement, and the two men stopped pulling on the doors. As leader of our paranormal investigation team, Dani always gave the final word.

Kyle scrubbed his tattooed arm above his eyes. The blond highlights in his otherwise sandy brown hair shined under the bright rays of the sun. The two silver loop rings through his bottom lip barely moved when he smiled. He had a rough and tough image on the outside, but a loving heart inside.

"Hot?" I asked him, gazing into his leaf green eyes. I offered him my bottle of water.

"Thanks, Jessie," he said and took the bottle from my hand.

I watched as he gulped down the cool liquid. The little lump in his neck bobbled, and I smiled, recalling the days in our past when we were intimately involved. Sometimes, I missed the special closeness we had back then, but at least we still had our friendship.

Dani strode into the barn with Lester tagging along behind her. I followed them with Kyle tagging along next to me.

As I gazed about the crumbling structure, I wondered how safe we were. Half the roof was missing from the large barn, and pieces of wood stood piled in stacks along the barely there walls. Dust particles floated in the air, illuminated by the rays of light shining into the barn. With each step, dried hay crunched under my feet while the stench of rot and feces grew stronger.

"It fucking stinks in here," Lester said loudly.

I couldn't have agreed more.

Spider webs occupied every nook and cranny. Ick. My stomach tightened at the thought of thousands of eight-legged creatures lurking around. I'd rather suck down an evil soul any day of the week than have to deal with a spider, bug, or any kind of rodent.

"Why are we here?" I asked, keeping my eyes on the intricate webs above us.

"Oh, shit!" Dani said.

I lowered my head and found her standing a few feet ahead of me.

Lester stood beside her. "Don't move! Don't anyone move."

I froze, my heart beating fast. Kyle stopped at my side, clutching the bottle of water in his hand. We gazed toward the group of raccoons sitting together near the wall.

Little squeals and hisses erupted from the critters. The fury beasts looked just as startled as we did. A big one stood up on its two feet and hissed while others scurried to a large gap in the wall.

"Why isn't it leaving too?" Dani asked in a soft voice.

"Maybe it likes you," Lester said, teasing her.

"If it attacks me, Lester, I'm going to beat the shit out of you." Anger and fright made her voice thick.

"Don't move and it will go away," Kyle said calmly.

The four of us stood unmoving and waited. After a few tense seconds, the critter shrank to normal cat size and crawled toward the gap in the wall. I sighed with relief once it was out of sight.

"Maybe one of you guys should check out the rest of the barn for any other rodents." I really didn't want to run into any more creatures with claws, fangs, or rabies.

"Good idea," Dani said.

Kyle handed the water bottle back to me. "I'll do it." He passed me and headed for the far end of the barn.

"Thanks, Kyle," Dani said with an emphasis on his name. "You are a real man."

Lester made a spitting noise and said, "Whatever."

The rest of us ambled cautiously in the spacious barn, staying away from the walls. The thick layer of hay covering the ground swished and crunched under our feet. I was glad I'd worn my tennis shoes instead of sandals. The hay would've irritated my skin.

I neared the far end of the barn and heard a soft whine under my feet. Alerted, I stopped.

"Why are we here again?" I repeated my earlier question.

Dani spun around and faced me. She stood in one of the sun's rays spilling inside the barn from an opening in the roof. Dust particles swarmed around her. "During the late sixties, Mr. Garner kidnapped people and hacked them into pieces in here. According to the clippings I read, he stored the body parts for food in this barn. When I spoke to the current property owner, he said he and his wife had seen Mr. Garner's ghost around here at night, and sometimes they hear noises coming from here. That's why they won't allow anyone to come around after dark."

Hacked people for food? I crinkled my nose and curled my lips in disgust while my stomach churned. What kind of person eats people?

I placed one foot behind me and heard a soft creak. "Do you know where he stored the bodies?" I asked while shifting my weight between my feet. The squeak sounded each time I added pressure on my back foot.

"Uh, don't know," Dani said. "The articles didn't say, and the owner said the barn was cleaned out before he bought the property."

Kyle faced me with a questioning gaze. "Find something?"

"Listen." I applied pressure to my foot, forcing another squeak.

Lester and Dani came toward me with excitement in their eyes. They stood on each side of me, listening.

Dani tilted her head down. "Maybe there's something underneath us." She kicked the thick layer of hay away from my foot and exposed a piece of wood. "Look!"

Kyle and Lester joined in and brushed away the hay with their feet. I stepped aside as the three uncovered a section on the ground composed of wood planks. When they finished, we each stood on a side of the square.

The hairs on the back of my neck sprung to life as I stared at the wooden flooring. If Mr. Garner's soul were around, I'd bet my next paycheck he was hiding beyond that secret door.

Kyle bent and ran his hands along the edges. "There has to be a way to open this." He wedged his fingers into a spot between the wood and the dirt ground. Grunting, he jerked the wood up. "Got it."

Lester grabbed hold and helped Kyle lift the makeshift door. Together, they pushed it off to the side. I looked down into the darkness, and a cold chill ran down my spine. Yeah, Mr. Garner was down there. Damn.

Lester dropped to the ground and lay on his stomach with his head over the dark opening. "What is this—Raiders of the Lost Ark?"

I chuckled at his reference and hoped he was wrong. I really didn't want to deal with snakes.

Kyle knelt in front of the opening while Dani and I stood above it.

"I don't see any stairs," Dani said.

"There aren't any," Lester said.

Crap. How was I going to get Mr. Garner's soul without any stairs?

"How far down is it?" I asked. "Can you see anything in there?"

"Not far," Lester said, swiveling his head. "It looks empty, and it stinks like something died."

Great. I shook my head and considered my options. If I jumped down, I could break an ankle or a leg—not a big deal since my bones would heal right away. Once I made it down, I could claim the evil soul without the three of them seeing me. My secret would remain safe. The only problem would be getting back up. My other option was to walk away and not claim the soul at all. After a split second of thought, I decided evil was evil, and I couldn't simply walk away.

I glanced around at the light filtering through the gaps of the barn. Sunset was hours away, which gave me plenty of time to find Mr. Garner.

Unknowingly, I gripped the bottle in my hand, creating a crunching sound that captured Dani's attention.

"Do we still have flashlights in the car?" I asked.

"Yeah." She scrunched her brows. "Why?"

Without answering, I peered down the dark opening and stepped into the unknown.

"Jessie!" They shouted in unison.

I hit the floor with a solid thud, bent my knees, and rolled sideways onto my back. The water bottle fell from my hand and rolled away from me. A sharp pain shot up from my ankles. Nothing burned, so I hadn't broken any bones.

"Jessie, don't move!" Kyle yelled.

I looked up and saw three faces staring at me. "I'm okay. Nothing's broken." Moving slowly, I sat up and stretched out my legs. "Can one of you get me a light?"

"I'll get it," Lester said before he disappeared from sight.

He was right about the stench. A wave of nausea rolled through me as I inhaled the pungent odor of aged decomposition. I was going to spew if I stayed too long.

I stood up and brushed the dirt off my arms and legs. The ache in my legs turned into a light tingle. As I glanced around the dark and empty room, I wondered where Mr. Garner was hiding. I crept forward, staying in the path of the light above me. After my fifth step, another cold chill ran down my spine. Damn it, I needed a flashlight.

"What do you see?" Dani asked. "Want the video camera?"

"No. As far as I can tell, there isn't anything here." Except Mr. Garner lurking around somewhere.

"Here's the flashlight," Lester said.

I glanced up and returned under the square. He let go of the flashlight, and I caught it.

I clicked on the light and swept it around. The dark room extended beyond the reach of my light. I couldn't even see the walls. After a quick three-sixty and no sign of a spook, I proceeded with caution.

"Jessie, where are you going?" Kyle asked, his tone laced with worry.

"I'm going to take a quick look around." I pointed the light in front of me and baby-stepped forward. Several feet from the opening, a blast of cold air hit me, and I shivered. Where the hell was Mr. Garner?

Holding my breath, I continued onward with an eerie feeling growing within me. After several more steps, a strong force hit my back. I shot forward, stumbling, and smacked into the wall. Oh, there's the wall. I fell back and landed on my fanny. Gripping the light, I quickly rose and flashed it in front of me.

"Jessie, are you all right?" Dani asked.

"Yeah." My voice quivered. My heart thumped fast. Damn Mr. Garner for rattling my nerves. I wasn't used to spirits fighting me.

From the side, something cold slapped my arm. I dropped the flashlight, and it crashed on the ground. A second later, it shot across the floor.

"Motherfucker," I said under my breath and followed the path of the light.

"Jessie," three voices called at once.

"I'm okay." Not really. "I dropped the light and accidentally kicked it."

I scrambled to reach the flashlight before Mr. Garner. As I picked it up, a cold hand gripped my arm and squeezed. Since the beam of light pointed down, I couldn't get a visual of him.

"Let go," I said behind clenched teeth. I jerked my arm, but he didn't let go. Damn him!

Wait. Why was I fighting him? My physical strength outmatched his ghostly muscle any day of the week.

I gripped his arm and pulled him closer. Ready to end our little game, I opened my mouth and inhaled.

"No," he said, surprise evident in his voice.

His soul drifted into my wide-open mouth. The taste of raw meat and soured blood grazed over my tongue. The urge to gag weighed heavy on my mind and stomach. I breathed in again, hoping for a quick end for Mr. Garner and my nausea. While I couldn't see his soul in the darkness, I felt his energy flow inside me, fueling me and warming me. My stomach flamed as if it were a gas burner cranked up on high. Hell was welcoming him.

I lessened my grip as he slowly disappeared. He nudged my insides, resisting—a stomach twitch, more or less. It didn't change anything. When the last of his disgusting flavor touched my tongue, I closed my mouth and swallowed.

"Jessie? Where are you? Are you all right?" Kyle asked, voice panicky.

My stomach retched, and I covered my mouth quickly, plugging my nose at the same time. The stench plus the foul taste wasn't settling well.

"I'm fine." The words came out mumbled behind my hand. In an effort to hold back the urge to vomit, I held my breath. If I spewed, his soul would be set free, and I certainly didn't want that to happen. Go to hell, Mr. Garner and stay there.

"Jessie, what's wrong?" Dani's voice echoed.

I whirled around and found the heads of my three friends dipping down from the square opening above me. Pointing the light in front of my feet, I followed a visible path, heading for them. If I didn't get out fast, I was going to throw up.

Three worried faces stared at me as I held my hand over my nose and mouth. I unplugged my nose. "I'm tossing up the light."

Kyle looked at Dani. "Get back."

"Ready?" I asked. Seeing Kyle nod, I tossed the flashlight up, and he caught it.

I stared up with my head tilted back. How was I going to get up there? "Guys, any idea—?"

An article of clothing dropped down. I looked up and smiled. Kyle and Lester's shirts, tied together into a makeshift rope.

"Grab hold and we'll pull you up," Kyle instructed.

With one leap, I grabbed hold of the shirts. My feet dangled beneath me, and I tried not to move as they hauled me up. The process was slow, but I wasn't complaining. When my head breached the surface of the opening, I saw Lester and Kyle tugging on the stretched shirts. Where was Dani?

The two men pulled me up until my breasts got in the way of progress. With an additional tug and a little wiggling on my part, my chest made it over the edge. Turning my head, I saw Dani pointing the video camera at me. The red light shined near her hand.

Great. Just great.

Lester gripped my arm and helped me out from the rank hole.

"Thanks," I said as I sat on the ground. "If I spent another minute down there I was going to leave my lunch behind."

"Did you have to jump down there?" Kyle asked.

I brushed the dirt away from my arms and chest. "It was a spur of the moment decision," I said, ignoring his resentment.

Dani moved closer with the camera still pointed at me. "What did you see down there?"

I looked at the camera and rose to my feet. "I saw nothing but darkness." I lied with a straight face.

"Did you feel anything?" she asked, creeping toward me.

"I felt the urge to vomit every time I took a breath," I said, smiling.

The red light disappeared, and Dani lowered the camera. "That's not what I meant."

I let out a sigh at the sour tone in her voice. I disliked they knew I had something like a sixth sense because they questioned me every time we conducted an investigation. For the sake of keeping my true nature hidden, I denied acknowledging I found spiritual presences unless they actually noticed a change in me, such as an outbreak of sweat or turning pale. If they knew what I really was, a half-demon soul catcher, I feared they would interrogate me for the rest of my life, and I don't know . . . maybe try to put me on YouTube.

I met Dani's gaze. "I didn't feel anything other than the usual creep factor. Sorry, Dani. There wasn't anything down there." I hated lying to her. She was my best friend, co-worker, and roommate. I loved her like a sister, and I didn't want anything to change between us.

A warm smile spread across her face. "You'd tell me if there was, right?"

Damn it. Why did she have to make things more difficult than they already were?

"I'd tell you," I said with a straight face. And this was yet another reason why I was going to hell.

"If you two are done, I think we should get out of here," Lester said, standing shirtless next to us. He removed his glasses and wiped his face with his shirt.

I noticed his manly tits, large gut, and turned away. "He's right. There isn't anything more to see."

Kyle chuckled, holding his shirt at his side. Much leaner than Lester's, Kyle's bare chest was nicer to look at.

"It's hot. Let's go back to our place. We can clean up and go out to Bruce's later," I said, knowing Dani couldn't resist the opportunity to go to our favorite bar so she could drink and drool over Nick, Bruce's assistant.

Her smile brightened. "You're driving."

* * * * *

I turned the wheel, exiting from the interstate with tears rolling down my face. My cheeks hurt from laughing, but I couldn't stop. Dani sat in the passenger seat, gasping for air between laughs. In the back seat, Kyle and Lester exchanged tales about past women in their lives. The last hour and a half had been nothing but pure comedy.

"I can't believe that girl ran naked through your dorm," I said, wiping the happy tears from my face.

"She was so drunk," Lester explained. "The girl was u-g-l-y, but that didn't stop my frat brothers from teasing her."

"And you were dating her?" Kyle asked, chuckling.

"Hey, she gave good blows. So what she didn't look pretty."

And with that, Dani and I burst into laughter all over again. My cheeks were going to be sore for the rest of the evening.

Minutes later and a little calmer, I turned into the apartment complex. The sun had dipped past the horizon, leaving half an hour before darkness would blanket the sky. My plan was to shower and change before heading out to Bruce's bar.

As I drew near the apartment Dani and I shared, I noticed a robust man sitting on the hood of a shiny black SUV. Dark shades covered his eyes. He leaned forward, staring at something in his hand.

"Who is that?" Dani asked, peering through the window.

I shook my head. "I don't . . . ." I paused as I realized who it was. My happy attitude quickly u-turned. "Oh, crap."

"What?" Dani asked.

I parked the car on the opposite side of our apartment building.

"Who is it?" she asked as she twisted in her seat. She stared out the back window. Lester and Kyle joined her.

"It's just someone I met in Chicago," I replied, lacking enthusiasm.

"Jessie, he's hot," Dani said with a devilish smile spreading across her face.

Yeah, he was hot. Literally. God, what was he doing here?

I sat in my seat, staring at him from the rearview mirror. I didn't want to get out. Sure enough, if I stayed in the car, he'd come over and introduce himself. Did I really want to introduce him to my friends? Did I really want him to meet Dani? Oh, hell no!

"You guys go ahead. I'll be there in a few minutes," I said and tightened my ponytail.

Dani frowned. "Why don't you introduce us?"

"I will, but don't you want to clean up so we can go out in a little bit?" I asked, hoping to convince her to go on without me. "Besides, I need to talk to him first."

"Come on, Dani, let's go." Lester cajoled as he opened up his door.

Dani turned to me and sighed. "All right." She pushed open her door.

I stared in the mirror as my friends exited the car and shut the doors behind them. Kyle was the last one to leave and walked slowly behind Dani and Lester. My curious friends nodded at my visitor as they passed him.

I shook my head and cursed. What in the hell was Jeremy doing here?

Abhorrence built within me, and I pushed the car door open and jumped out. I'd find out what he wanted and then tell him leave. He didn't belong here. Visiting my home was never part the deal we made in Chicago. I slammed the door shut behind me and clenched my jaw. The demon had better have a damn good excuse for showing up on my doorstep.