Honestly, I don’t listen to music when I write; it’s too distracting. But I do love finding songs that connect to the stories and characters, and I’ll often listen to them over and over for inspiration when I’m not sitting at my desk.
For fun, I put together a Dark Pines playlist on YouTube, which you can find here! Below is the list of songs that go with each book. Enjoy!
Editors – “No Sound But the Wind”
Fiona Apple – “The First Taste”
Leagues – “Spotlight”
The Brothers Bright – “Blood on My Name”
Imagine Dragons – “Believer”
Dave Matthews Band – “Crash Into Me”
The Features – “How It Starts”
The Foo Fighters – “The Sky is a Neighborhood”
The B52’s – “Love Shack”
Muse – “Madness”
The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy”
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Done All Wrong”
Diana Krall – “Sway”
Steve Kahn – “Nomads”
Sarah McLaughlin – “Possession”
The Dark Pines Pride books are all available on Amazon now, and I recently bundled them together into one boxed set.
It’s easy to fall in love with characters, whether they’re my own creations, or characters I’ve read about in other books. Hayley Jaynes, from Wild Atonement, is one of my favorites. Her potty mouth and DGAF attitude hide her vulnerability over proving herself to her brothers.
Name: Hayley Ann Jaynes
Date of birth: February 21, 1996
Occupation: General Contractor
Hair: golden brown
Fun quirk: her creative swears (click here to get a pdf of Hayley’s Swears)
Hayley rushed toward Summer and Jackson. She liked seeing her brother so happy, with his arm casually wrapped around Summer’s waist, his attention on her. And Summer looked back at him, a gooey expression on her face. Hayley squashed a feeling of envy. She wanted that. She wanted to be the focus of one man’s world, and she wanted to be accepted for who she was—bold, strong, and dirty-mouthed.
She had the insult “rubbercock” on the tip of her tongue, ready to unleash it cheerfully on her brother. But someone stepped right in her path.
“Hayley,” he said.
She looked up. She didn’t know this guy, but immediately she could smell that he was a shifter. A fellow mountain lion. She should’ve sniffed him out when she’d first walked into the bar, but envy over Jackson and Summer’s lovey bliss had distracted her.
The dude’s dark eyes were fathomless, and he wore a fake, disarming smile. He looked familiar, but she couldn’t place him. She sniffed again. He smelled like sawdust and raisins, and her nose itched.
If she’d been in lion form, her hair would have lifted and her back would’ve arched defensively. “Who the hell are you?” she asked.
“I’m Alec,” he said smoothly. “We met briefly, long ago. You probably don’t remember me. You hung up on me earlier, but we need to talk.”
Now she remembered him. Her parents had made that awful deal with the Spokane Pride, just before the war with the Clausen Pride. Alec had been there with his father, the Spokane alpha. Hayley had been bartered like a piece of meat in order to ensure the Spokane Pride’s help.
Hayley had fought it, until her dad took her aside and said, “There is no way you’ll ever have to go through with something you’re not comfortable with, okay? This is a formality only.”
It hadn’t mattered, because the Clausens won the war, and the last of the Jaynes family had been chased out of the Dark Pines territory.
But maybe it had mattered, at least a little bit. Because this nasty fuckbasket was here, claiming to be her fiancé.
“I don’t want to speak to you,” Hayley said.
He chuckled. “You made that pretty clear when you hung up on me a few hours ago. But we need to talk.”
“I’m already with someone,” she said, trying to shove past him. Hopefully, he wouldn’t sense the lie.
His hand closed around her upper arm, and she spun, ready to stomp on his instep. Before that could happen, a giant, burly biker dude stood up from the table nearest them. “This guy bothering you?” he asked.
Hayley looked from the biker to Alec. “I don’t know, Alec. Are you bothering me?”
He sized up the biker and shook his head. He dropped Hayley’s arm, glowering. “We’ll talk later.”
Hayley watched as Alec retreated to a corner of the bar. Shit, that had been close. There was nothing to say to him, but now she’d told him she was seeing someone. That would be the best possible solution to this shitstorm. He couldn’t marry her if she already had a mate.
She turned back to the bar, where she’d seen Jackson and Summer a second ago. But neither of them could help her out of her predicament. She needed…a boyfriend. And fast.
The guy standing next to Jackson—dark-haired, brown-eyed, with a set of monster muscles—would do the trick. He must be Jackson’s friend, Marius. She’d heard a little about him already, how he’d helped Dan Clausen scare Summer.
Striding up to him, she pretended that the butterflies in her stomach hadn’t grown talons and weren’t clawing their way up her throat. Instead, she shook her hair back and made eye contact with those chocolate brown eyes of his.
“Hello, Marius,” she said, turning her voice into a purr.
He gaped at her until she closed the distance between them and pressed the full length of her body against his. Wrapping her arms around his massive shoulders, she whispered, “Are you single?”
“What?” His voice was so quiet, she could barely hear him.
Somewhere behind her, Alec was watching this show. She had to be convincing, but she didn’t want to mess anything up if Marius already had a mate. “Are you single?”
“Good.” She tilted her face up toward his and kissed him like she meant it. Her lips pressed against his in a spark of heat that surprised her, but she went with it, afraid to break contact. If Alec thought for a second that she was lying—and he probably did because shifters were so good at sensing dishonesty—then she’d have to convince him right now, with her actions. If she convinced him well enough, hopefully he’d go back to whatever rock he’d come from and leave Hayley alone.
Thoughts of Alec flew right out of her head as Marius took control of the kiss. His arms came around her waist, tightening her to him. He parted his lips and pressed harder, so she had no choice but to open to him. Not what she’d intended, but his tongue tentatively brushed the edge of her mouth and she couldn’t hold back a moan of need.
I wrote a serial novella for mailing list subscribers last year, The Rose King, and gave it away–a couple of chapters a month–until it ran its course. Then I put it up for sale. I plan on doing this again with a Dark Pines Pride bonus story (starting in January!!!) so I wanted to share my process here.
1) The idea has to sound fun from the start. When a Wild Homecoming reviewer mentioned wanting to see more of Becca, Summer’s best friend, I was immediately intrigued. Like, Becca is a widow, and although she’s happily single, maybe she could use a shifter hottie in her life, too.
2) While the idea is to give the story to readers as it’s ready, I have to write the whole thing all at once, usually in two to three weeks. Otherwise, it’s too hard to remember the tone and feeling of the story–especially character voices.
3) I revise the entire novella and make sure things are consistent. Do I call the hero by an old hero’s name? (That’s totally happened in this Dark Pines bonus story. I keep calling Nick, this new hero, “Jackson”–the hero from Wild Homecoming.) Are appearances consistent? Does she drop her phone down a well, only to have it in her hand five minutes later?
4) After my once-over, it’s not ready for readers yet! Showing it to people now would be like going to the store without any pants on. Freeing, yes, but…a bit overexposed. I’ll let the story sit for a couple or three weeks so I can come at the first chapters with fresh eyes.
5) I’ll go through the first couple of chapters and self-edit for things like grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Then I’ll put those chapters on a hidden page online and send the link out with my January newsletter!
So, that’s pretty much what I do to get it ready for the newsletter serialization! I’m really excited about sharing this story, though. Becca is awesome, and Nick–well, I’m still figuring Nick out.
Even though I can’t share much yet, an unedited snippet should be okay. Instead of going to the store without pants, it’s more like going without a bra. Probably nobody will really notice or pay attention, although I know something’s missing. So, below is the very beginning of the meet cute between Becca, the heroine, and Nick (NOT JACKSON), the hero. Head’s up, these characters swear, so if f-bombs offend you, stop here. 🙂
Suddenly, a dog streaked across the road. Becca pushed on the brakes, determined not to panic. She’d nearly driven into the mountain when she was a teenager while swerving for a squirrel—that had taught her an important lesson.
This dog was huge, and even braking for it wasn’t enough. Becca shrieked. The dog glanced off the hood of her car and disappeared.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck. I hit a dog.” She gripped the steering wheel and stopped the car. The dog was nowhere in sight, not slumped on the side of the road in a heap like she’d expected. She took deep breaths. Had it really been a dog? What if it was a deer? Or a coyote, or wolf?
Getting out of the car and putting herself near an injured wild animal was a terrible idea.
But if that was someone’s pet…could she live with herself, not knowing?
She could call the Huntwood police. She knew a few people at the station and they might make fun of her, but whatever. Better than leaving someone’s injured pet on the side of the road.
Where was the poor thing? Had she not really hit it? No, that had been a definite thump as it bounced off her car. She cringed, replaying it in her head.
Maybe it hadn’t been hurt that bad, and it had run off to lick its wounds in peace.
Or maybe even now it was limping home and it would be picked off by one of the mountain lions that roamed the area.
She had to call someone. Grabbing her purse from the passenger seat, she searched for her phone. But her phone was nowhere in her purse, and nowhere on the seats or the floor of her car. She must have left it at the bar in Tacoma. She bit back a curse.
Just then, a hand slapped up against the outside of the passenger window. She shrieked, dropped her purse, and started screaming.
The hand disappeared and she heard someone say, “Calm the fuck down, lady, I just need a pair of pants and a ride into town.”
Oh hell no. She put the car in gear and started to drive.
—interested in getting the newsletter? Click here or on the “free books” tab up top for details on how to join! *Edited to add: Wild Engagement has just about run its course as a serial and is no longer being given out in my newsletter (because it’ll be offered for sale), but I often have fun little extras and sales to share!*
Out today is Wild Reunion, Will’s story in the Dark Pines Pride series!
In the Dark Pines territory, love fights tooth and claw.
Eleanor McGowan is a piano teacher, hypochondriac, and proud fangirl of the Interstellar Love Connection graphic novel series. She’s also had her heart broken one too many times by her high school sweetheart, Will Jaynes. When he returns to Huntwood after being MIA for four years, she can’t decide whether to avoid him or kiss him or even better, kick his butt.
Mountain lion shifter Will Jaynes has been avoiding his family’s territory for one reason and one reason only, and that reason starts with an “E” and ends with a “leanor” and has beautiful hazel eyes and a tender heart. But four years ago, everything was ripped away from him after a pride war—his parents, his territory, and even Eleanor. When danger returns to the Dark Pines territory, Will must fight for his pride’s place or lose everything. And if he loses this time, he knows there’ll be no coming back.
Wild Reunion is starting out at 99 cents and in Kindle Unlimited! You can find it on Amazon and AmazonSmile.
Foul-mouthed shifter Hayley Jaynes is determined to prove herself trustworthy and responsible. Even considering dating grizzly shifter Marius Nichols would be directly at odds with her goal. He’s wild, he’s done wrong to her family, and he’s so hot that she doesn’t trust herself around him. Too bad she needs a fake boyfriend, and he’s her only choice. There’s no harm in having a little fun on their not-dates, until her inner mountain lion is screaming for more.
Marius deserves worse than Hayley’s scorn, and he knows it. Bad enough he helped torment her family—there are more secrets he’s keeping. If they came to light, he knows Hayley would never forgive him. One kiss and Marius can’t get enough, one lie and it’s over before he can tell his mate what she means to him.
But in the Dark Pines territory, secrets have a way of coming out, and when an old treaty between Hayley’s family and a rival pride puts Hayley in danger, Marius must put aside his guilt and step in, or risk losing his mate forever.