SKINNY DIPPING WITH MURDER – St. Martin’s Press

SKINNY DIPPING COVER
When Erica Bloom left Otter Lake for college over six years ago, she was determined to never come back – not after the
horrifying practical joke that left her standing half-naked in the middle of the town’s annual Raspberry Social. But when she gets a call from her lovable, but dippy, mother claiming her business – a spiritual retreat for women – is in trouble, Erica is left with no other choice but to return and help.
Within moments of stepping onto the docks, things start to go wrong…dead wrong. Somebody is killing off Otter Lake’s locals – the very same locals who pulled off the infamous prank six years ago – and it’s looking like Erica is the prime suspect.
Erica needs to clear her name, and fast – or she might be stuck in Otter Lake…50 years to life!
March 1, 2016 / St. Martin’s Press.
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One response to “SKINNY DIPPING WITH MURDER – St. Martin’s Press

  1. Pingback: Awakening From a Devastating Reading Slump – GUEST POST | Penny Dreadful Book Reviews (Est. 2013)

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SIDEKICK RETURNS – Book Two

I’ve had a number of readers express confusion about whether SIDEKICK is a stand-alone book or a series. First let me say, I am so sorry! Kind of.  I know SIDEKICK ends with some questions unanswered, and I know that was a horrible thing for me to do. I think I need to go into a little bit of the history to explain how SIDEKICK came into being in order to clarify why I did this.

To begin, I always intended SIDEKICK to be a series. I love series, and when I came up with the idea for SIDEKICK, I was so excited about all the different directions I could take the character Bremy St. James. After I finished writing the first book, however, the cold, brutal realities of the publishing world set in. At first, SIDEKICK’s future looked bright. I had a number of nibbles from agents, but they all can back with the same verdict – it’s funny, it’s smart, but it may be just too out there to be an easy sell. After all, the urban fantasy world is pretty well saturated, and most of the genre focuses on the moody and broody. Well, Bremy St. James is a lot of things, but moody and broody she is not. That was a purposeful intention on my part, though. I wanted to depict a young woman who was resilient, who didn’t break into a million pieces by every hardship that came her way, whose everything wasn’t wrapped up in a man…someone heroic, even if at times her heroism is slightly delusional.

Anyway, at this point, a friend of mine recommended I pitch directly to editors. That’s when things really started to happen. All of the sudden, I had a bunch of offers! Good times. I finally settled on Escape Publishing because, to use a modern cliche, they really seemed to be picking up what I was putting down. The thing with my ebook contract though is that I didn’t get a multi-book deal with a schedule. Don’t get me wrong Escape has been extremely encouraging about sequels, but it’s just not a guarantee.

So where does SIDEKICK 2 stand? Well, I hope to have it completely done by the end of October. Let me say, I have had so much fun with the sequel. My poor Bremy who never lets anything get to her is about to be truly tested to her emotional core; Jenny, her mysterious twin, is about to step into the light; and, of course, everybody’s romantic relationship will be shaken…Oh! And, of course, there will be more Dark Ryder. Once it’s done, I will have to submit to Escape to see what they think. I am thoroughly optimistic that they will be pleased (SIDEKICK, I think, has had a good debut, so that helps). At that point, I should have a release date, a cover reveal, and all that fun stuff.

So in the meantime, if you’re hoping for a sequel, write a review or give SIDEKICK a rating if you haven’t already (Goodreads, Amazon, KOBO, whatever!), recommend it to a friend, or just keep your fingers crossed.

Thank you to everyone who has expressed interest, and, once again, I apologize for the confusion!

Auralee

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Danger! Stereotypes Ahead!

There are a lot of stereotypes in SIDEKICK. I know this….and, yes, even though they get me in trouble, they are intentional.

Why? Why would I bring this down upon myself?

The only way I can answer that is to share a little of my history….

My husband and I met on an internet dating site. (I’ll give you a moment to form your judgments about that. Don’t worry. I’ve heard them all.) The forum alone makes this kind of dating an interesting experience. All you have to make an initial romantic assessment of someone is his/her/(your choice) picture and brief bio. Talk about snap judgments. Well, my snap judgment of my husband brought a lot of my prejudices to light. I saw a “brown” male, and, to be completely honest, I initially wondered if he was Muslim and what that meant in terms of his treatment of women. Once I read his profile, I saw that he was Catholic – that brought on a whole new set of judgments. My husband, also, made his own set of assumptions about me. In particular, when I made what I thought was a sarcastic comment about my “daddy” buying my car (something I was embarrassed about), my husband assumed I was a spoiled princess. Luckily, both of us persevered past our initial snap “stereotyped” judgments, found true love, and lived happily ever after…with three children, one of whom is still sleeping in between us in bed ensuring we never touch – ah, romance.

I had a similar experience when I was introduced to my best friend. I met her in the cafeteria of my first job. Her friend at the time went out of her way to welcome me….while my later BFF stood a foot or two back, scowling. I don’t think I made any particular judgment about her race (Caucasian/Jamaican), but who knows? Sociological studies have shown that the power of stereotypes can be immediate and unconscious. (They also show that we are all prejudiced – a theme which I can’t seem to stop writing about.) I did consciously assume, however, she was anti-social/misanthropic (now I’m thinking she may have been the inspiration for Queenie…hmm). My friend, also, made all sorts of assumptions about me. You see, my father was one of the bosses, so, yes, I got the job in large part through nepotism. I’d kind of hate me too. Luckily, my friend has an incurable need to help people when they are in need, and as I floundered my first couple of days on the job, she took pity on me, and put me under her protection. She eventually decided I wasn’t half bad.

These two pivotal experiences in my life, I think, in part, explain why I write the way I do. Every character in SIDEKICK makes offensive and/or stereotyped assumptions about every other character in my book. They do so in such an over the top way that, I hope, they are both shocking and uncomfortably funny. The plan, however, is for these characters to get to know each other on a deeper level…and then form a Scooby Gang and save the world. Bremy St. James, my stereotyped dumb, blonde, rich girl is offensive. She is meant to be offensive. But my hope is that her offensiveness is forgivable because it is based on ignorance and she possesses a willingness to learn.

I can only write in a way that reflects my experiences/point of view of the world. Sometimes I will get it right. Other times I will not. I would like to say that I do hope people relate to where I’m coming from, but I appreciate that that is not within my control.

Thanks for reading!

Auralee

 

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SIDEKICK Excerpt

Prologue

As a kid, I had a recurring dream where my identical twin sister and I flew matching Wonder Woman
jets up to the stars. Nothing could stop us in those dreams. Pure freedom. Pure power. I had the dream
again about a month ago, but this time I was flying alone towards a distant planet. As I got closer, the
massive orb turned, and I realized I had made a mistake. It wasn’t a planet at all, but a giant balloon
with my father’s face on it.

I did the only thing I could.

I blew it up.

And Luke thought he had daddy issues.

Chapter One

“Little Bremy, do you have my rent, or will I cut off your fingers and wrap them in pastries like those
little…what is the English name?”
“Pigs in a blanket?”
“Yes! The little piggies,” the thickly accented voice sounded through my phone. “You are so
helpful, little Bremy.”
There are some conversations you never imagine yourself having.
This was one of them.
“Mr. Pushkin—”
“Please, call me Mischa.”
“Um, right, Mr. Pushkin, you see the thing is—”
“Oh Bremy. Oh no. Do not tell me this you see the thing is. I hate the you see the thing is. The
only thing is money. You agree, yes?”
Hard not to given my upbringing.
I did have some money. In fact, I had nine hundred dollars. Unfortunately, I owed Mr. Pushkin a
thousand. Not that far off, right? I mean, what’s a hundred dollars? But in the brief time I had known
Mr. Pushkin, I had learned a few things. One, he had six fingers on his right hand. Two, his brother
dug out his left eyeball with a fork when they were kids—a custom-made marble now rolled around
in his head. But the most important thing I had learned about Mr. Pushkin? He did not have a
reasonable bone in his body.
Maybe his brother dug that out too.
“Mr. Pushkin, it’s just—”
“Just! Just! This is another English word I hate. Mafia business is tough business. If I let all of the
little girls get away with just, what would the other tough guys think? No, no, Bremy.”
“Well, you don’t have to cut off my fingers,” I said trying not to sound as panicked as I felt. “You
could just kick me out.”
The words escaped before I could stop them. Even if my apartment most closely resembled a
walk-in closet, and I knocked my head on the side of the toilet every time I rolled over in bed, I
needed this place. Then again, I also needed my fingers.
I looked to my bedside clock. Seven in the morning. Why did bad days always start so early?
Didn’t tough guys sleep in? I could have sworn I caught a whiff of last night’s vodka coming through
the phone.
“There is no fun in this kicking out. Then all of those dirty street rats think they can use my
establishments as squattings. A month here, a month there, and they still have all their fingers? No.
This does not work.” He sighed heavily. “Where are you from, little Bremy?”
“I’m—”
“Never mind, it doesn’t matter. You see, you remind me of the children of the ice plains not far
from my home.”
“Oh, um, thanks. But Mr.—”
“No thanks. You would be dead before you could walk. Frozen. A little blue popsicle-child. You
see the thing is you have to find your way in this disgusting pool of filth. This city, it is broken,
rotten,” he said, voice growing louder. “It hums like huge, black juggernaut, and you, little Bremy,
will be crushed in teeth of its giant wheels. The dust of your bones will scatter over the streets then
collect in gutter with other human garbage.”
“That was very poetic, but—”
“Yes, in my homeland we are raised on books size of three dictionaries, not stories of boy
witches.”
“I see. Now about the money—”
“Do you have a job, little Bremy?”
“Not at the moment. I—”
“I have friend. He owns club. Maybe you see it? It has funny pink sign of animal in the neon. What
is it called?”
“A beaver?”
“Yes, the beaver. I do not understand this. Some girls at club have no teeth, but not big teeth that
eat tree. The beaver is not an animal for the sexy.”
My jaw dropped. No amount of money or threat of bodily harm would get me to explain that one.
“A nice, pretty girl like you would make the money, even with your small beebies.”
“Boobies.”
“Yes, boobies. Such a helpful girl.”
“Oh thank you, but—”
“Do you have my money?”
“Um, yes, but—”
“Okay. Now we can do the business. I come by at four o’clock. I have to go to court.”
“Oh really?”
Please be for unpaid parking tickets. Please be for unpaid parking tickets.
“A misunderstanding…with a machete,” he said. “My machete fell on a man’s wrist and took off
his hand. A misunderstanding—this man, he says so himself—but police, they have nothing better to
do in this city than bother legitimate businessmen. Anyway, that business should be done by two, then
after I go to plastic surgeon.”
Please be for Botox. Please be for Botox.
“For Botox…and to have my tattoos removed.”
“Oh,” I said, definitely not in the form of a question. “Well then—”
“You see, I have little tattoos on each knuckle finger, all eleven, for every man I kill back home.
You know, the kid stuff.”
“Right.”
“Now you be a good girl, Bremy, and have my money. I don’t want to get new set of tattoos for
little girls who don’t want to show beebies to pay rent.”
“Okay,” I said trying not to choke on the gulp making its way down my throat. “I—”
He hung up with a beep.
I collapsed back into the little cot I called a bed and yanked the thin quilt over my face. Sadly, I
could still see blue popsicles and finger-shaped wieners in my head.
***
I hurried down the street under the steely clouds gathering overhead as the smell of exhaust and rotten
vegetables filled my nose. I hated walking in the city.
Exactly one month ago, my life was perfect. Well, a lot of imperfect, horrible, evil stuff was going
on behind the scenes, but I didn’t know that—so to me, it was perfect. I lived in my pick of mansions,
I had a horse for every day of the week, and my identical twin sister Jenny and I spent our days by an
Olympic-sized swimming pool, drinking experimental margaritas, and planning our classes for the
upcoming semester.
Now I spent my days scuttling around puddles of urine in inappropriate footwear, trying to find a
job to pay my rent.
Still, no good would come from cowering in my bed by the toilet. I had a hundred dollars to make
appear out of thin air, and I had to do it by myself. Something I didn’t have much practice at.
Right on cue, my pay-as-you-go phone chimed. Jenny. I didn’t even have to look at it. She knew I
was thinking about her. Stupid twin powers.
Where are you?
Please talk to me.
She sent me the same message every morning. I thumbed in my same reply, ignoring the pain in my
chest.
I need a little more time.
Please trust me.
A second later, my phone chimed again.
Douche.
I smiled. People didn’t expect Jenny to say things like douche. When they saw her wheelchair or
heard the robotic voice that speaks what she types, they somehow just assumed she didn’t have a
personality. She handled it better than I ever could.
I picked up my pace.
If for no other reason, I would make this work for Jenny. I had taken too much from her already.
***
“How do I go about getting a hundred dollar loan?”
A teller with faded red hair stared at me from underneath droopy eyelids. I was pretty sure her
expression would have stayed the same if a stray cat jumped on the counter and puked on her
keyboard.
“You want a hundred dollar loan,” she finally answered, revealing a bit of purple lipstick
smeared across her teeth.
“Actually, two hundred would be better.”
“We don’t give out loans for two hundred dollars.”
“Why not?” I asked a little too loudly, sending my words echoing up the bank’s marble columns.
A few people turned to look.
“Because that’s stupid,” she replied disinterestedly.
Huh, she obviously never had a mobster for a landlord. “Okay, well, what does one do in these
types of situations?”
“Don’t you have a credit card?”
Oh, at one time I had enough credit cards to fill a private jet. I used credit cards for bookmarks. I,
I…
“No, but can I get one?”
She tiredly reached for a form underneath her desk and began to slide it across the imitation wood
counter. She got halfway when her hand froze. “Do you have a job?”
“No.”
The hand slid back, and the form disappeared.
“Then you can’t have a credit card.”
“Isn’t that discrimination?”
“Yes, against the stupid.”
“I’m starting to hate you.”
“My heart’s breaking.”
I handed her my bankcard. “Okay. In that case, I would like to take out the balance of my account.”
I watched her purple nails fly over the stained keyboard of the computer at her desk. “Wait a
minute,” she said, almost showing a flicker of interest. “Your name is Brianna St. James?”
“Yeah, I’m not that Brianna St. James.”
Actually, I was that Brianna St. James. The media always used my nickname, Bremy, though. As
kids, Jenny and I had trouble figuring out where one of us began and the other ended. Jenny mixed
with Brianna got us Bremy, but somehow the nickname only stuck to me.
“Didn’t think so,” she said, attacking the lipstick on her teeth with her tongue. “She would have
more than nine hundred dollars in her account.” Then she made a noise, which sounded something like
the dead relative of a laugh. “She’s better looking too.”
We stared at each other for a moment while her coffee and cigarette laced breath wafted over the
partition.
“You want the entire nine hundred dollars?”
I nodded.
“It would probably be better for you to write a check to whoever you owe. I don’t feel right
giving you that kind of money in cash.” She shook her head. “I would feel better giving that kind of
money to a gerbil.”
“Mean with a conscience. That’s an interesting mix.”
She half-shrugged her rounded shoulders.
“Well, how do I get checks?”
“Normally it costs twenty-five dollars, but you can get ten free sample checks.”
“Fine. Sign me up. But give me the balance too.”
She looked skeptical but began typing away. I doubted that Mr. Pushkin would take a check, but if
he did, not only would it buy me a few days, but maybe the overdraft would save me a couple of
fingers. If he didn’t, I would still have most of the cash to throw at him before running away.
Suddenly the teller’s computer began making music. Her hands stopped, fingers hovering over the
keys.
“What is it?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”
“You won.”
“Won what?”
“Our monthly draw for opening a checking account.” She moved to count out bills.
“That sounds exciting. What do I get?” I asked. “I’m hoping for service with a smile.”
“A hundred dollars.”
My brain slammed into a brick wall. A hundred dollars. That couldn’t be right. That was the exact
amount of money I needed. And that couldn’t be right because the universe had been spitting all over
me for the last thirty days without so much as offering an umbrella. It just couldn’t be right.
“Did you say a hundred dollars?”
“Yeah, the irony of it all is making me weepy.” She scratched at the hairs on her chin. “I suppose
you want the hundred in cash too.”
“Uh huh,” I said holding out my hand, making the universal gimme-gimme gesture.
A warm tingly sensation came over me. The universe was still on the side of Bremy St. James
after all. Karma. I had done the right thing a month ago, and now I could collect my hundred dollar
reward.
A party kicked off in my head. Champagne bottles exploded. Balloons popped. Bells clanged.
“I think you had better get down,” I heard the teller say, which was funny, because she had
suddenly disappeared.
Then I realized the bells weren’t just in my head.
Alarms rang frantically from every wall.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls! The show’s about to begin!”

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CONTACT

Hi! I love hearing from readers, bloggers, and just, well, people in general. If you have a question or comment, please drop me a note at:

auraleewallace@gmail.com 

Or find me at:

Twitter: @AuraleeWallace

Facebook: Auralee Wallace Author

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Blog Roll and Book Reviews

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Bio – Creative Influences

Like every other author, growing up I loved reading books, but my shameful secret is that I also loved watching TV…like really, really loved watching TV. As a child, I lived for Saturday morning cartoons (X-men was my favourite), and I cherished spending the night at my grandmother’s house because she would let my sister and I watch shows like The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Ryder,  and Wonder Woman. Even now, it makes me happy just thinking about those shows (hearing the theme song from The Incredible Hulk can still bring a tear to my eye…so lonely…so green). 

As I got older, neither my book nor TV addiction waned. I loved a number of classic books by classic authors, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Jane Yolen, Enid Blyton, and when I wasn’t reading, it was The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt that thrilled me. As I teenager, I read every Stephen King novel I could get my hands on and watched every horror movie made from about 1985 to 1995 (probably most of those made in the 70s too). Sadly, a pretty ideal Saturday night for me in those years would have involved two McCain mini-pizzas, several cans of Diet Coke and many uninterrupted hours in front of the television set watching Friday the 13th The Series or the movie Aliens which I had taped on VHS.  Yup, I was just that cool.

This book and TV theme rolled right on into my university years. In school, I fell in love with a number of Victorian novelists and poets, and at home, well, I began a serious relationship with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I won’t say much more about Buffy…I don’t want to go all Fan Girl and embarrass myself.

Around this time a friend of mine introduced me to Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris, and a whole new world was opened up for me. You see, for the first time, I started to believe that maybe I could write…like for realsies. I had (quite originally) tried, on a number of occasions, to write like Stephen King, but it never worked out. I loved reading horror novels, but whenever I tried to write them, I always ended up horrifying myself.  I had also tried my hand at writing literature with a capital “L”, but for some reason, after just a few pages in, I’d find myself depressed. Reading these authors helped me believe that I could take what I loved about horror and sci-fi and mix it with – dare I say it – more “feminine” aspects of my personality (suddenly I feel like I’m being watched by every Women’s Studies professor who ever taught me).

All this has led to my first novel Sidekick. I have always loved Comic Book heroes, but I had a tough time relating to the likes of Bruce Wayne. I’m more of a Lucille Balle kind of girl. Sidekick was the baby born of that psychological mash-up.

In a nutshell, that’s my journey so far…

And I’d love to tell you that I’ve gotten a hold of my TV addiction, but I haven’t. Doctor Who is my new love. I live in constant fear that one day I will meet David Tennant and be reduced to a weeping puddle on the floor…I can see him walking away with a horrified look on his face while my husband pats my hand and says, “He can’t take you away in the TARDIS love. It isn’t real.”

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