So, if you’re an avid reader, author, or person who has a muse talking on your shoulder, you’re going to get EXACTLY what I mean when I say…
I did something…
I couldn’t help it…
The muse made me do it…
THE BODY PAINTER was THE book I couldn’t wait to write all of 2017. I had to keep pushing Gil and Olin (the two characters) aside in order to finish MILLIONS and stay true to the DOLLAR SERIES. However, the moment that series was done. I was FREEEEE. I was SO excited to write THE BODY PAINTER and sped through 50,000 words in a couple of weeks.
I’m in LOVE with them. I love their story. I’m still immersed in their world and DYING to show you the cover, blurb, and unveil the secrecy around their tale.
and it’s a BIG however…
All of 2017, I was committed to the DOLLAR SERIES. I had no choice but to allow Elder and Pim full monopoly of my brain. But now that commitment is over, all these characters who I’ve been telling to hush up are now very loud in deed. I believed I had 2018 planned with my releases and had my diary neatly organised with titles, plots, and publication dates.
That was until three days ago…
There I was, minding my own business, doing nothing apart from cuddling our cute little house bunny, when BOOM. Ren appeared in my head, tore up my notes, burned my diary, shoved Gil and Olin from my mind and drowned me in his tale.
A tale I hadn’t thought of, pondered on, or plotted over. A completely NEW, out of the blue, hit me around the head, kinda story that possessed me there and then.
I grabbed my laptop and wrote.
I wrote some more.
and when I looked up and fell back into my happy sunny life and not the dark hardship Ren had shown me, 10,000 words had poured from a place I desperately wanted to revisit.
I don’t know the outcome, next chapter, or ending and for once I DON’T CARE.
I haven’t become this overcome with a character since Q popped into my head five years ago. He shoved aside every project and storyline to tell his. I didn’t have a plot. I had no chapter guidelines or curve balls I wanted to weave and twist. It was HIS story and I went along with the ride.
Ren has done just that.
So…I have no choice.
I couldn’t write anything else even if i wanted to. I can’t drive to feed the horses without having to pull over multiple times to jot down notes of what he wants me to say. I can’t watch TV as I’m living his tale and getting to know him as a character. He’s well and truly screwed up my neat little plan but I honestly don’t care because if he’s making me this excited…then I hope, just hope that you’ll enjoy his story too.
Never fear though, Ren is very loud and he’s writing the story for me, so I won’t have to be his slave for long until I can get back to THE BODY PAINTER. That is DEFINITELY coming as I’m addicted to that story, too, but for now…let me introduce you to Ren and Della.
Add to Goodreads: HERE
** TEMPORARY BLURB **
At ten-years- old, Ren ran from the people he’d been sold to.
He thought he’d run from suffering alone.
He was wrong.
Within the one possession he’d stolen rested his salvation, temptation, and constant future nightmare.
A torment that changed his life and every step he made after.
** TEMPORARY PROLOGUE **
NO ONE WOULD ever believe me if I told them how I met my worst enemy, fiercest protector, father, brother, friend, and lover.
How I’d become his purely by chance.
How he’d almost killed me the night he found me…stowed away in his backpack when he ran from the devil himself.
** TEMPORARY COVER **
And because I didn’t trust myself or this very pushy character telling me his story, I reached out to a few betas with the first few chapters to see if I’d been blinded by this tale or…if they could feel it too.
The good news?
They felt it.
I did something.
I’m in the process of getting a cover made (my poor artist she’s been hammered by me these past few months). I’m consumed with writing this book that I’m not able to hold a proper conversation at the moment because I’m just previewing the next chapter I’m about to write, and I’m so, soooo excited to introduce you to Ren and Della.
In fact, I’m SOOO excited. I’m going to reveal the first chapter here. It’s UNEDITED, SUBJECT TO CHANGE, COPYRIGHT yada yada yada, but hopefully you’ll be able to see WHY I had no choice writing this tale and will share more very soon as I literally won’t be able to NOT share new chapters with this vibrant story obsessing me.
* * * * * *
“STOP! WILLEM, SHOOT him. Don’t let him get away!”
Bolting from the farmhouse with its broken paint-chipped shutters and rotten veranda, I
swung the back-pack straps higher up my shoulders and leapt the small distance from hell to earth.
I stumbled. My ankle threatened to roll. My useless ten-year- old legs already screamed it
wasn’t possible to outrun a bullet from the wife of a killer and slaver.
Even if it wasn’t possible, I had to try.
“Come back here, boy, and I won’t cut off another finger!” Mr. Mclary’s boom cut
through the humidity of the night, chasing me with snapping teeth as I darted into the thicket of leaves and stalks, weaving like a worm around maize twice as tall as me.
My tiny fists clenched at the thought of living through that pain again.
His threat only gave me more incentive to escape—regardless if a bullet lodged in my
spine and I died in the middle of their corn field. At least this excruciating nightmare would be over.
“Kill him, Willem!” Mrs. Mclary’s voice screeched like the crows she liked to shoot
with her dirty rifle from the kitchen window. “Who knows what he’s got pilfered in that bag of his!”
I ran faster, putting my head down and using every remaining drop of energy, pain, and
hope in my wasted, skinny body. The back-pack dragged me down. The weight far heavier
than I remembered when I’d slugged it over my shoulders in a test run two nights ago.
I’d planned this for weeks. I’d scratched my escape route into the dusty floorboards
beneath my cot and memorised the location of canned beans and farmhouse churned cheese so I could grab it in the dark.
I’d been so careful. I’d believed I could vanish from this rank place I’d been sold to.
But I wasn’t careful enough and I hadn’t vanished.
Corn stalks shivered in front of me, cracking in place where a bullet wedged at head
Gulping air, I leaned into the soupy skies and kicked my burning legs into a faster run.
The back-pack bounced and dug into my shoulders, whispering that I should just drop my supplies and run.
But, unless I wanted to survive past a day or two of freedom, I needed it.
I had nowhere to go. No one to help me. No money. No direction. I needed the food and
scant water I’d stolen so I didn’t perish a few measly miles away from the very farmhouse I’d run from.
An ear of corn exploded in front of my face. Mr. Mclary’s voice warbled words with
out-of- breath growls, giving chase in his precious field.
Just a little father and I’d pop out on the road.
I’d find faster escape on the sealed tarmac and hopefully flag down aid from some
Perhaps one of the same cars who drove past daily and smiled at the quaint rustic
farmhouse and cooed at the diligent hardworking children would finally open their eyes to the rotten slave trade occurring in their very midst.
I ducked and fell to my knees.
Immediately, I sprang up again, wheezing as my stupid little lungs failed to grant enough
oxygen. My limbs burned and seized. My hope quickly dwindled. But I’d become well
acquainted with pain and threw myself head first into it.
This was my one chance.
It was life or death.
And I chose life.
* * * * *
Dawn crested on the horizon, its pink and gold daring to creep under the bush where I’d
slid a few hours ago.
The bullets had stopped firing. The shouts had ceased yelling. The sounds of roads or
people long since vanished.
I shouldn’t have turned off the road and entered the forest. I knew that. I’d known it the
minute I’d leapt off manmade pathways and traded it for dirt, but Mr. Mclary had chased
longer than I’d expected and I was starved, beaten, and not prepared to give up my life by running in full sight of his rifle scope.
Instead, I’d scrambled into the bushes of private untended land and fought exhaustion
until the hairs on the back of my neck no longer stood up in terror of earning a bullet in the
back of my head.
The bush had offered sanctuary and I’d fallen asleep the moment I’d burrowed beneath it but it wasn’t the dawn that had awoken me.
It was my backpack.
A mewling muffled cry came again, sounding alive and not at all like water and cheese.
With shaking hands, I tore the zipper open and fell backward.
Two huge blue eyes stared up at me.
Familiar blue eyes.
Eyes I never wanted to see again.
The infant bit her lip, studying my face with a furious flicker of attention. She didn’t cry
louder. She didn’t squawk or squirm, she merely sat in my backpack amongst canned beans and squished cheese and waited for…something.
How the hell did she get into my bag?
I hadn’t put her there. I definitely wouldn’t steal the natural born daughter of Mr. and
Mrs. Mclary. They had sixteen children working their farm and only the girl in front of me was theirs by blood. The rest of us had been bought like cattle, branded like a herd, and
forced to work until we were begging for the abattoir.
The baby wriggled uncomfortably, sticking her thumb in her mouth and never taking her
eyes off me.
“Why are you in my bag?” My voice was far too loud for my ears. Something small
scurried off on tiny feet. Bending closer to her, she leaned back, wariness and fear clouding her inquisitive gaze. “What the hell am I supposed to do with you?”
The noise of a stream gurgled not far in the undergrowth. My thirst made my mouth
water while merciless practicality made me think up other uses for the stream.
I couldn’t take her back and I couldn’t take her with me.
That gave me no option.
I could leave her unattended for a wild animal to make a meal of or I could dispatch her
humanely by drowning just like her parents had drowned a boy three weeks ago for not
latching the gate and letting three sheep escape.
She twirled a faded blue ribbon around her tiny fist as if going over conclusions herself.
Did she know I contemplated killing her to make my escape easier? Did she understand that I
would treat her no better than her parents?
Slouching in the bracken beneath my chosen bush, I sighed heavily.
Who was I kidding?
I couldn’t kill her.
I couldn’t even kill the rats who shared the barn with us.
Somehow, she’d crawled into my backpack and now my impossible task at staying alive
just got even harder.