Thursday, April 20, 2023

An Excerpt from my new book, Arcane Deception, out now!


Dear Reader:

I’ve been very busy the last few months writing my newest novel, Arcane Deception. This is the fifth book in the Arcane Talents series I’m doing, set in an alternate universe where people use art, music and dance to work magic. What’s more, U.S. servicemen have psychic links to magical lions, tigers and bears, who help them to form bulletproof magical shells of the animals they wear like Iron Man’s armor.

My heroine, Kate Marshall, is an Arcanist – an artist who uses a combination of art and magic to work powerful spells. My hero, Mark Delaney, has a psychic link with a magical polar bear that gives him the power of the world’s largest land predator.

But their enemies are even more powerful than they are…

When her grandfather wanders off, witch Kate Marshall enlists a handsome neighbor to help find Eli, who suffers from dementia. She doesn’t know Mark Delaney is a magic-using undercover agent trying to bring down a gang of drug dealers with deadly spirit animals.

Soon Mark and Kate find themselves falling in love, even as he wrestles with lying to the woman he’s fallen for. Unfortunately, the drug lord who is the gang’s leader is having them watched, so Mark can’t come clean.

When the gang kidnaps Eli and Kate to force her to collude in their crimes, she must turn to Mark despite his lies, the risk to her heart and the threat to her beloved grandfather’s life.


Buy links:

Changeling Press    Amazon   Apple     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Vivlio


Here’s an excerpt:

Kate Marshall hurried along the path as fast as she dared, scanning the surrounding woods for a flash of white hair. Anxiety coiled in a sick knot in her belly. Good thing it was late spring. If it had been winter, she’d have to worry he’d forgotten the way home and succumbed to hypothermia.

No sign of him. Nothing but squirrels rustling through the leaves as courting birds sung from the pines, oaks, and maples looming around her.

Dammit, where is he?

Kate stopped in her tracks, closed her eyes, and scanned again, but nothing glowed behind her closed eyes. No sign of Eli Riley’s Talent shining through the trees. Except…

Wait. Not a glow, but something. She concentrated, focusing until the sense of power grew more acute. It seemed to be emanating from the lake.

Her eyes flew open, and she took off in long strides just short of a run. “Granddad? Granddad, where are you? You’re scaring me!”

Some days, Eli seemed just like the man who’d raised her during those idyllic childhood summers, endlessly wise, skilled in art and magic and the intersection where the two met. On bad days, he became a six-foot tall three-year-old, prone toward tantrums and violent outbursts. Even worse was the lethal combination of his raw magical ability and his failing memory, which could easily kill him if he made an error with a spell. Which was why she’d panicked when she’d woke up this morning to find him gone.

Eli hadn’t been in the studio crafting something fatal, though his backpack of magical gear was missing. She’d searched the rest of the old Victorian house and its extravagant garden, but no luck.

What worried her most was the lake. Her childhood summer haunt was less than a mile away from the house. Way too close for comfort.

He can swim. Hell, he taught me. But what if

Flickering light flashed through the trees ahead -- sunlight glinting off the water. The sense of power was stronger now. Splashes sounded, suggesting someone swimming.

Or drowning. Her heart shot into her throat.

“Granddad, dammit!” Kate broke into a sprint, ignoring the thin branches that whipped across her face. “Granddad!” I can’t lose him too. She burst from the trees. “Granddad!”

But when she spotted the swimmer, it was not her grandfather. Not with the long blond hair slicked around broad, bare shoulders that gleamed in the morning sunlight. The man stopped swimming and turned, treading water, wiping a big hand down his dripping face. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Have you seen an old man?”

“No, nothing but couple of deer and about a dozen squirrels.” He started back to the shore, muscular arms stroking the water, sending droplets flying through the arc of a rainbow. “What’s the problem?”

“My grandfather… He’s got dementia. I woke up this morning to find him gone. He comes out here to paint.” Kate raked both hands through her brunette hair, absently plucking out leaves and twigs from her heedless run. “Oh God, he could be anywhere. The road -- he could have been hit by a car. Sometimes he doesn’t remember to check before he crosses…” She started to turn away.

“Hang on, let me get dressed and I’ll help you look.” He waded out of the lake, water streaming down a body like a gladiator’s, all hard, carved muscle. He wore only a pair of black swim trunks and a glowing golden tattoo in the center of his chest, a circle surrounded by sigils. Looked like some kind of protective spell. And he was big, easily six-one. On any other day in any other situation, she’d have drooled.

“Where do you live?” He walked over to a pile of neatly folded clothes. Picking up a towel, he started drying off, muscle flexing in his broad chest.

“In the Victorian a mile that way.” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder and looked away, trying not to ogle.

“Oh, you must mean Eli. I didn’t know he’d gotten that bad.” He pulled on faded jeans despite his wet trunks, then shrugged on an equally faded black T and stuffed his bare feet into running shoes. The shirt’s white lettering read “USAC Academy.”

He was Arcane Corps. No wonder he radiated so much power, she’d felt it a quarter mile away. Kate was tempted to close her eyes and check the glow of his magic, but that would be rude.

He extended a hand, a frown of concern on his face. “Mark Delaney. I’m so sorry about your grandmother.”

A spasm of pain stabbed her, but she forced a tight smile as his long fingers enfolded hers. His skin felt calloused and cool. “Thank you. I’m Kate Marshall.” She studied that tough, intensely masculine face. Beard stubble roughened his square jaw and broad, cleft chin, blond brows slashing over Feral gold eyes. It was hard to tell, but she thought his hair would be honey blond when it dried. His lips were thin and masculine, but they looked soft, kissable. Tempting, despite the nerve-wracking situation she was in.

After a carefully calibrated squeeze, he let her go. “Don’t freak out, I’m going to manifest so I can track him. I’m a Feral.” Golden light exploded around him as his magic became visible in a flare of sparks and whirling energy. A heartbeat later, it coalesced into a huge shaggy figure with a long bullet-shaped head and foot-wide paws. The raw power of the animal spirit beat at Kate’s senses as it towered over her, almost ten feet tall. Mark was only dimly visible in its center, cocooned within it like a man in armor.

Blinking, Kate suppressed the instinct to step back.

“Don’t worry, Kola and I have been stable for years,” Mark said as the bear dropped to all fours. Its shoulder was level with her chin, and she was five-six. “I’m in control.” Which wasn’t always a given with Ferals, whose spirit animals could make them prone toward explosions of aggression.

Feeling a bit self-conscious about her reaction, she said, “I knew from your shirt you must be Arcane Corps, but I wasn’t expecting a polar bear.” Serving in the military was the only way you could legally meld with a Familiar that powerful. Ferals were the magical equivalent of the Navy SEALs, and most Americans viewed them with awe.

Well, except for Humanists, who thought they were demon possessed.


I hope you’ll take a look!

Buy Links:

Changeling Press    Amazon   Apple     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Vivlio


My other big project is a class I’m teaching at called Blueprint to Book: Plotting and Writing a Novel with Angela Knight. Unlike my previous class, this is a set of video tutorials in which I demonstrate how to write a novel. It covers everything from character creation to plotting, to writing and rewriting. I even discuss cover creation. Click for more information.

If you’re interested, here’s the first lesson video.

I hope you’ll join me for the class.

Have a great summer!

Angela Knight

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

An Excerpt from my November online class on Writing Police Heroes

Dear Writer:

Beginning Nov. 21st, I'm teaching a month-long online class at called "Hearts and Handcuffs: Writing Believable Police Heroes. You'll find more information about the class and how to register here. I'll be posting lessons in the forum at Savvy, where you can read and ask questions at your convenience. You'll also be able to send me scenes from your romantic suspense or other police-related book for critique by me and my husband, Detective Michael Woodcock of the Spartanburg City Police Department. 

Here's a taste of the first lesson, which discusses the lessons and structure of the class.

Lesson 1: Introduction to Hearts and Handcuffs

By Angela Knight

Trends come and go in the romance industry. Sometimes vampires are big, sometimes it’s knights in armor, sometimes cowboys or Regency dukes. I remember when books about sports heroes or rock stars were poison, but both have been big recently.  

But one thing is always hot: romances about cops. Romantic suspense is an evergreen sub-genre, and you can mix and match it with all sorts of other genres, from paranormals to steampunk. 

Thing is, writing about law enforcement can be tricky. According to figures from 2008, there were an estimated 1.1 million people working in law enforcement in 17,985 police departments. Laws vary from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and every department has its own rules and procedures. There are also all kinds of cops: police, deputy sheriffs, state and federal law enforcement agents, etc.

Police work has interested me for decades. I’ve been Michael Woodcock’s wife for 38 years, and Mike’s been in law enforcement for 34 of them. He began his career in 1988 as a uniformed patrol officer during the most violent years of the drug war as a member of the Spartanburg Police Department's Complex Team, which patrolled the city's dangerous housing projects.

He worked his way up to sergeant over a team of detectives who dealt with murders, domestic violence, and burglaries. He then trained as a polygraph examiner and went to work for the Spartanburg County Sheriffs Office, where he interrogated everyone from accused pedophiles to murderers to rogue cops. 

He also served as lieutenant of the department’s crisis negotiation team, which handled barricaded subjects threatening to harm themselves and others. As a crisis negotiator, he dealt with subjects who were often violent. One schizophrenic opened fire on him and other cops. When the SWAT team finally took the man down, they found his stockpile of dozens of weapons included an assault rifle, a gas mask, and a bullet proof vest.

Now Mike’s back with Spartanburg PD as a detective. I haven’t seen him this happy in years.

I've also had first hand-experience with police that had nothing to do with Mike.

During my newspaper days, I followed murder cases through the entire criminal justice system, from the commission of the crime to the court and sentencing. I’ve also seen people get off when I was sure they were guilty.

Though I worked in Cherokee County, SC for the most part, I once watched my husband hunt 14 pipe bombs with a team of other Spartanburg officers. One of those bombs went off, scaring the hell out of me. Luckily, no one was hurt.

Mike and I have given talks on writing about crisis negotiation at the Romance Writers of America National Convention, as well as other writer’s conferences around the country.

Several years ago, Mike and I presented an RWA National Convention workshop called “Hearts and Handcuffs: Creating Believable Police Heroes.” It was very well received, so I decided to present a more detailed online version.

To write it, I interviewed Mike and several other veteran cops, and wrote lessons based on their comments. Here’s a quick outline:

1.) Introduction 

2.) Interview with Master Deputy Mike Clevenger on why people become cops, and how officers deal with psychological aspects of policing and balancing the needs of the job and family life.

3.) SWAT commander Lt. Mark Gaddy discusses officer training and how television gets it wrong. What makes a good officer? 

4.) Weapons Use with Lt. Gaddy: What are some of the weapons, lethal and otherwise, police use, and what are their limitations?

5.) SWAT Teams: How the teams are trained and organized

6.)  An Interview with Lt. Diane Lestage: Why do women become cops? What are some of the advantages women bring to the job? How do they deal with people who are generally larger and stronger than they are? How do they handle hand to hand? Since women are often the chief caregivers in the family, what are the techniques they use to juggle those demands and policing?

7.) Investigating Sex Crimes with Lt. Lestage and Lt. Mike Woodcock: Sexual assaults on adults and children, and how you go about dealing with victims.

8.) Mike Woodcock on Investigating violent crimes: What are the steps a detective follows in investigating a homicide? What are the psychological effects on the officer? 

9.) Interrogating witnesses, suspects and informants with Lt. Mike Woodcock: How do detectives question witnesses, informants, and suspects, and how do they tell who's lying?

10.) Crime Scene Investigation with Sgt. David Hogsed: What are the techniques officers use to collect evidence and document crime scenes?

11.) Hostage Negotiation with Lt. Mike Woodcock: How do crisis negotiators handle confrontations with armed suspects?

13.) Interview with Lt. Ashely Harris on bombs and drug testing: Harris, now retired, discusses being a forensic chemist and bomb tech. He discusses methods for testing different kinds of drugs, including marijuana, meth and cocaine. He also discusses how to dismantle explosives, bombs and grenades, as well as the use of bomb robots.

We'll also add a brand-new lesson on how detectives use social media  to investigate crimes. 

I have other lessons I’ll present on a variety of subjects like conflict of interest, which can add all sorts of interesting implications to your romantic suspense plot.

I’ll also take questions from the class. Mike has always been willing to answer questions about police work and whether a story idea is realistic.

You may email me scenes from your book on Tuesday and Thursday, and I will critique them privately. For reasons of practicality, I ask that you submit scenes of around 2000 words in a Word file. Make sure that you put your email address in the file so I’ll know where to return it.

 If you have law enforcement questions, I’ll pass them on to Mike. Please don’t hesitate to ask. It’s my goal to help you get comfortable with law enforcement techniques so you can give your work the ring of truth. 

I will post lessons to the class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I hope you'll consider taking the class!

Angela Knight