Dying Embers Blog Tour by: Adrian J. Smith
She thought she was on the right path, but life keeps tugging Addison back to her past and her gift.
Addison Lee struggles to make a new life in Norwich, one where she can be the Battalion Chief of Fire Station Seven and live life as she sees fit. She wants a life without the complications of an ex-fiancé and a job that put her life on the line for little more than a gift she was born with. Learning the ropes of a new job can always be tough, and being a Battalion Chief means she has a great responsibility to her crew and to the city. Nervous about her first day already, Addison realizes that adding in a one-night stand with a future employee has left her on rocky ground.
Plagued by visions of a dying woman, Addison continues to cope with difficulties at her new job. She has no idea who the dying woman is, where she is, or even, when she is—and no means to find out. Addison is distracted from the dying woman and her new job when called to Wyoming on an emergency, where she discovers it’s not as easy to leave her past behind as she hoped.
Addison took a moment before following James as she stood. She swayed lightly on her feet as she became fully upright and gripped onto the edge of the mattress to steady herself. James held onto her shoulder.
“Yeah, just dizzy.”
“I think it’s time for that shower.”
“Probably,” Addison replied shortly and nodded.
Following James down the hallway, they made for the bathroom. Addison sat on the toilet while James started the flow of water from the faucet. She opened the shower curtain and let Addison step in, setting the glass of ice water on the edge of the tub, in case Addison wanted it during the shower. Addison stood with both her hands planted against the wall on either side of the shower head. Her face bowed to the ground, and she let the water flow over her body.
All she wanted was to relax and to think about nothing other than how good she should be feeling. Giving in a few moments later, Addison pushed down to sit on the bottom of the tub and let the hot water pour over her body. She would have to change it to be cold soon—colder showers always sobered her up faster.
There was cold water on her face. She had no idea where it came from, and she couldn’t figure out why it was there. There shouldn’t be cold water on her face. Fumbling around with her hands outstretched, she finally felt the ground beneath her. Dirt. Bringing her fingers together, she fisted the soil and let it flow between her knuckles. It was smoothly ground and fine. Her mind searched for where she could possibly be, for any inkling of a memory to tell her where she was. But she didn’t have the wherewithal to work through it.
Breathing heavily, she let the heavy weight of defeat crush her. Her mind reached out for help, but she didn’t try to feel for anyone else around her. She only sent a call. Remembering that she had a gift was of no use, she couldn’t figure out how to use it to mentally find another presence.
Rolling onto her side was far more difficult than she imagined it should be. She turned to the right and had to push with all her might to make it onto her shoulder and her leg. As soon as she did it, she regretted the move—sharp shoots of pain blasted from her ankle into her hip and stomach. With the pain so great and overwhelming, she couldn’t focus on anything except how it affected her. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t breathe. Gasping, she begged for air to enter her lungs.
Turning onto her back once more, she rested. She needed to think, to plan and reason out what had happened. Taking stock of her body, she felt the break in her leg. Thinking through everything only made her head hurt more because she remembered nothing. She had no recollection of where she lay or why her leg was broken and useless. She choked back a sob.
Giving in, she opened her eyes, prying them slowly. The cold water had hit her face, making it easier. She needed to move, but she couldn’t without injury. To remain still meant no pain, yet o remain still also meant death. She needed to figure out where she was and what the hell had happened. Breathing deeply she turned onto her left and begged for there to be far less pain than the last the time she moved.
She made it. Pushing up, she used one knee to bring her body off the soft dirt ground. Something in the back of her mind screamed that the dirt did not belong there. Her nails dug into the ground, and she gripped the fine dust tightly. There were large clumps in it, she could feel them, but for the most part the dust was fine. Closing her eyes, she pushed forward and took a step. She crawled until she felt the wall. Turning her body quickly, she leaned against the wall and rested back. Her body sagged with exhaustion.
Air escaped her lungs so fast that she had trouble drawing it back in. Her lungs felt as if they had completely deflated and the insides stuck together from their moistness. Unable to pry them apart, she struggled. Her head became light and fuzzy as she worked to pry her airway further open. Closing her eyes, she focused. Long and deep breaths. Moment after passing moment. She finally drew enough air to feel balanced. She waited a few moments before begging her eyes to open again.
When she looked around, she couldn’t see anything.
Complete darkness took over and everything seemed cavernous. She had no idea if the room was the size of a football field or the size of jail cell. She could assure herself that it was larger than a coffin, which set her mind at ease. She had been able to move at least three feet to the wall. Licking her lips, she savored the water that had fallen on her face and coated her throat with it. The small drops were enough to allow the dirt particles that had lodged themselves in her esophagus to start to wash down.
Letting out a moan, she moved her hands down her body. Wiggling her fingers first, she noted that they were all working perfectly well. She touched her shoulders and her chest before reaching down and running her fingers down her arms. Nothing seemed too damaged. She knew she would have a few scrapes. Moving her hands down her abdomen, she felt the slight protrusion and the pain from her back. Wrapping an arm around her side, she felt the rock that had embedded itself into her side. Muttering, she decided not to move it.
Leaning her head against the back of the wall, she hit a sore spot. She ignored it. There was nothing she could do in that moment to fix it. She couldn’t move any more. She had no energy left in her body to get her to move. And she still had no idea where she was. Taking a slow and deep breath, she let the black of unconsciousness take over her. It consumed her, and she was glad to lie there and let herself be taken.
James pushed open the shower curtain. Addison jumped in shock as James’ eyes skimmed over Addison’s form. Her arms wrapped tightly around her body, the woman looked tiny in the small shower.
“Yeah.” Addison glanced up at James, and she curled further into the corner of the shower.
“I just had a thought…” she trailed off as she watched Addison shake. “You’re shivering.”
James reached out and touched the water. She rolled her eyes and leaned down to the faucet, turning the hot on higher and cold down lower. Addison covered her breasts with her arm, curling in further on herself, and closed her eyes again. She just wanted to feel better.
“You’ve been in here for thirty minutes.”
“That long already?”
“Okay, well, it’s really only been about fifteen, but you had me worried.”
James still stared down at Addison, the curtain wide open. Addison had pushed her head more fully into the water. Her hair covered most of her face. The water escaped the shower and landed on the floor below, but James didn’t seem to care, so Addison wasn’t going to comment on it.
“Are you sure you’re all right? Like I said, I had a thought.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” She knew what thought James had. She knew it before James knew what happened. Addison did not want to talk about the vision.
“Drink some water, then.”
Addison peeked out from behind her hair, pushing it to the side. She gripped the glass that James had left on the edge of the tub and brought it to her lips. She only took a small sip, once again fearing that if she drank too much at once she would throw it all up in a mass exodus of her stomach.
“I’ll be fine soon.”
“Suuure you will, lollipop.”
Adrian J. Smith, or “AJ” as she is often called, is a part-time writer with an epic imagination, sharp wit, and kind heart that gets her into a bit of trouble when it comes to taking in all the neighborhood stray cats. Being obsessed with science fiction, Smith often goes off on tangents about the space-time continuum. She is also a part-time lunatic with a secretive past. It’s been rumored that she was once a spy for the government, but anyone who has gotten close enough to know the truth has never lived to tell the tale. When traveling around the world on various classified tasks, Smith requires the following be provided: buffalo jerky, mimosas, and eighty-six pennies. This is all we know about the reclusive woman.
Interview with Author
Please tell us what made you decide to try to become published? How did you get started?
I have always wanted to be published, since I first started writing when I was twelve years old. I think I just thought it would be really cool to see my name in print. The more I wrote, the more I just wanted to share my stories with other people who would love the same type of stories. That’s still what it’s about to me. I was asked one time whether or not it would make a difference if I was published, and I have to honestly say the answer is no. It wouldn’t matter. I would still be writing and sharing my stories to the best of my abilities.
As for starting in the publishing world, that happened by sheer luck and amazing people. I met someone on twitter, and poof, had a publisher less than a year later! Go figure.
Tell us two random things about yourself that might shock or surprise us.
Well I don’t know how much it’ll surprise some people, but two things. I’m absolutely in love with pumpkins—year round any time I can get ahold of them, I keep them. Secondly, I have a Muppet phobia that plagues me more often than it should.
Tell us about James Matthews and her trilogy, without spoilers of course!
Without spoilers? Can’t I just say what happens in every single book so that no one has to read it? Umm…James Matthews is a firefighter who has started to become a bit disillusioned with the job. It’s not what she expected or wanted it to be. Instead of going to fires, she mostly goes to medical calls. However, James has been to one house fire where she saved a two-year-old girl, Lily. Two years later (where we come into the story), James keeps having recurring nightmares about Lily and the fire.
I should probably mention that James is a woman at this point just to make that completely clear. It is not just a typo. James also has a super-secret lover who probably has more secrets than James does.
The first in the series, Forever Burn, follows James through her nightmares and her struggling relationship. Of course a few more things happen, but that would mean spoilers, so I’ll just shush now. The second book, Dying Embers, is actually a prequel to Forever Burn. Dying Embers focuses on the start of James’ relationship with her super-secret lover and how all that went down. It’s quite amusing and funny in certain places, but I’m a bit biased.
The third novel in the trilogy is called Ashes Fall (TBR Sept 1, 2014) and takes places eleven years after Forever Burn. I’ve just completed writing that one and am in the editing process. Ashes Fall focusses on James and her furthering relationship with Lily and said super-secret lover. I’m sure that if you read the first book, you’ll be wondering how this happens, so you’ll just have to read this one too. Lily is struggling throughout this book with everything that has happened in her past, as is James. So the third book is far darker than the first one, and the tension is ramped up.
I know that I put James through so much that if she were real she might punch me, or hand me over to her super-secret lover’s ex-fiancé. (Yeah, wrap your mind around that one, I dare you.)
If there is one character from this trilogy you would really like people to meet, who would it be?
If I had to pick one character from this trilogy to meet, it would probably be Addison or Rob. I don’t know what it is about both of them, but they have a special place in my heart. Addison tends to keep a cool head in the sight of some serious tragedy and she trusts her gut, which is important. Rob, however, is the gayest straight man I have ever known. He can talk and talk and talk and never shut up. I had originally only intended for him to be in a chapter or two of Forever Burn, but he ended up having quite a role in each novel.
Focusing more on Dying Embers, the second book and prequel of the trilogy, how long did it take you to write it and what inspired you?
I think this novel took me 13 days to write. I took a bunch of time (before I had two other part-time jobs) in November of 2012 and typed my little heart away. I’d had the idea for what I wanted to happen in this novel well before I wrote it, so as soon as I was able to sit down and type, it all came out.
The inspiration for this series mainly comes from my time of working security. I worked in tandem with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and Central Pierce Fire and Rescue. I saw them at least twice during one shift (more if it was a Friday or Saturday night). I wanted to represent a job that has changed drastically over the years, and one that is often misunderstood.
Firefighters are always heros. I don’t think that I’ve ever encountered someone who thinks that they’re not (unlike cops who can have good and bad reputations). But firefighters rarely go to fires anymore unless they are working in a large enough city to have enough medical personnel. They are often required to train as paramedics or first responders while also being trained in firefighting. It’s just the reality of the situation, and this is represented in James herself.
The emergency responders that I worked with on a regular basis are the ones that inspired the characters behind this story and the situations that the characters go to. I do want to say, none of these characters are actually based on real people, just the situations and jobs themselves.
What is your writing process?
I write every day. Okay, well, I try to write every day. If I’m not writing; I’m editing. If I’m not editing; I’m writing. I might not be working on novels; I might be working on shorts, or papers if my instructors decide to have an assignment due. In the world of no classes and no school, I wake up in the morning and edit until noon or one. I always finish the piece or part I’m editing. Sometimes it is one piece, sometimes two. Sometimes my own work, and sometimes it’s for a friend. After editing, I write. I write for hours. When I want to get through a chapter or a certain part before bed, I’ll turn all electronics possible off. No twitter. No television. No Facebook. I’ll turn my music up as loud as is appropriate (my playlist ranges from Ice-T to movie scores to gospel to country). I type as fast as possible. Editing can and will always happen later.
My motto is two-fold: I cannot edit what has not been written, and I cannot improve without continuing and practicing.
What is your non-writing life like?
My non-writing life? Is there such a thing? I read for classes. I write papers (wait, that’s writing). Crocheting to relax, piano when I’m angry, and singing when the moment strikes. I often am found at my favorite bar: The Gingerman. At least two times a week, I show up and have myself a wheat beer. I am an animal lover. I have three cats (Elliot, Seeley, and Rusty—Elliot is on loan to my mother), and I recently just adopted a dog with my significant other. We named her Caprica, and she’s a pitbull puppy.
Other than that I work a total of three part-time jobs. Luckily writing is one of those. I’m also a freelance copy-editor, so I take on at least one novel a month when school is in session. I’m a part-time minister, who loves my job. I’m also a full-time graduate student hopefully graduating in May. So I really don’t have a lot of that little thing called time.
Tell us a bit about the publishing and marketing process.
I will say that it’s been rough and it’s been amazing all at the same time. My publisher is a small press, independent publisher, meaning I don’t sell thousands of books in the first second of release. I love working with the company and the people that my publisher chooses because I do have a lot of say in what happens with my novel.
We generally decide on a book cover after I send in a full manuscript. So the cover process and the editing processes are going on at the same time. While all that is going on, I’m doing marketing for the book and planning out swag and the likes. Once everything has been edited and formatted, the cover is done and the book itself is being printed and sent to the sellers, I ramp up my marketing.
I do most of my marketing through my social media sucks. I’m only every going to claim that I am less than partially good at this marketing thing. I use twitter a lot and Facebook, but I also post a lot of excerpts and writing goods (grammar rules included) on my blog and website. I don’t know if there’s any vast success in this, but it seems to be working for the moment.
What about being published and the book industry in general has most surprised you?
Surprised me? My senior project in high school was on the publishing industry and the different kinds of publishing, so I wasn’t ever shocked by anything in regards to that.
I would probably have to say is the authority people give me solely for the fact that I have a book out. It’s like suddenly I became a real writer, not just one that piddles around in the dark of night with a computer. People want my advice, they want to hear how I did it, they want to replicate that—and I’m sitting here going, get your own story because mine’s not all that cool!
I do also think that a bit more of that authority comes because I do have a publisher to back me. While my publisher is small press and I can guarantee most people probably haven’t heard of the company or the other authors there, it still lends to that authority I was talking about. People ask me about query letters and sending their work into publishers and agents because they assume I’ve been through the same process and can share in the experience. That, however, is not necessarily true.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a new series called Spirit of Grace. The first novel, For by Grace, will be released with Supposed Crimes, LLC in June of 2014. I’m in the process of writing the sequel to that book called Fallen from Grace. I’m also writing a book that is yet to be titled. This one has an almost two-hundred year old witch and a seventy-year old one-quarter vampire—they both tend to get in a lot of trouble. I’m also co-writing another novel (because I’m insane) that’s about werewolves in an entirely dystopian world.
I’m also editing about three novels (at least I think it’s three). Ashes Fall, the third and final in the James Matthews trilogy is being edited—it’ll be released September 1, 2014. I’m editing For by Grace which will be released June 1, 2014 (it has one more round before it’s done!) I also co-wrote a novel this year that is coming out sometime next year. We’re in the process of editing that as well.
In the plans, I think I have to more novels in the Spirit of Grace series. An infinite number of novels with the witch and vampire serial. And I’m sure that my co-writer and I will continue our partnership. It’s just way too much fun not to!
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