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Emily must accept her gift of clairvoyance and remember her past, when a psychopath returns to kill again.

Emily must accept her gift of clairvoyance and remember her past, when a psychopath returns to kill again.

My debut novel Nightmares has been live since May 8, 2013, two days earlier than expected. Whoo hoo! Here is the longer Excerpt I promised:

Chapter One

Emily Preston looked up into her boyfriend Tony’s worried blue eyes and squeezed his hand. “You’ve been frowning at me for a month now. Can’t we just enjoy the prom?”

His frown deepened. “I know something’s wrong. Why won’t you tell me? Is it something I’ve done?”

Emily’s stomach lurched. “No, you haven’t done anything. It’s me.”  She gestured toward the crowded, noisy room. “Look, we can’t talk here. Besides, I thought we were meeting up with Kaylee and Shawn.”

Tony took his gaze off her to look over the crowd of prom goers. “Shawn said he might be a little late…something about Kaylee having a problem.”

Strange, Kaylee never mentioned anything to her. “What kind of problem?”

Tony shrugged. “Don’t know.” He nodded toward the other side of the room. “They’re over there by the prom decorations. Looks like they’re arguing.”

Emily caught a glimpse of Kaylee’s black hair and pink prom dress. The music started and couples began to move to the dance floor, blocking her view of her best friend and Kaylee’s boyfriend, Shawn. Even with the brief glimpse, she thought Tony was right. “So you don’t know why they’re arguing?”

He leaned toward her with a grin. “Nope, but, since they’re busy, we could talk outside?”

He said it to her like a question, as if he wanted her to decide if she wanted to talk. She knew he wouldn’t let it drop until she agreed. Might as well get it over. She forced herself to smile. This was the moment she dreaded from the beginning of their date. What could she say? If she told him everything, he would think she had lost her mind? He guided her to the nearest exit while she fought the urge to run in the opposite direction.

The closer they came to the door, the greater the panic grew inside her. What was frightening her? Not Tony, he made her feel safe. But losing him? Maybe. His choice of a college did freak her out, since it was in another state. She would miss him horribly. Maybe deep down she feared he wouldn’t return. It would explain the feelings of impending doom. Maybe even the nightmares. But it didn’t explain the voice she had started hearing, or the warnings.

Maybe I’m losing my mind.

Outside, Emily shivered. A short, black, strapless prom dress doesn’t offer much protection against the cold wind, no matter how good it looks on you.

Her boyfriend slipped behind her, wrapping her in his arms, blocking the wind. The heat from his body was warming.

“Have I told you how great you look?” he whispered in her ear.

Emily giggled and turned in his arms to look into his blue eyes. “No, why haven’t you?”

His hold tightened and he pulled her closer. “Because I wanted to do this first.” He kissed her.

She grinned. “You clean up pretty good, too. I almost didn’t recognize you without all the grease and oil from that car.”

Tony laughed and reclaimed her hand. “Come on. You’re freezing. Let’s go sit in that car so we can talk.”

Emily giggled. “You know I’d follow you anywhere, but could you slow down a little. These shoes are new and I’m not used to walking in heels.”

Tony dropped her hand and put his arm around her. “Oh, sorry, I forgot”

For the moment, with his arm around her, she felt warm and protected, until she remembered why they had come outside. Tony wanted answers. From the determined look on his face, she knew he wouldn’t settle for anything less. But could he handle the truth? Did she even know the truth?

She remembered having nightmares about a thunderstorm as a child. Her mother had told her scary nightmares were part of childhood. She said they’d go away when Emily got older and they had. So, why terrorize her now, night after night, just like when she was little?

The nightmares were frightening enough, but the voice warning her of danger terrorized her. What she really wanted to do was run away and hide, but she couldn’t, not if Tony was in danger, too.

“Remember your past,” the voice had said, “so you can save Tony and yourself.”

It didn’t make sense. What was she supposed to remember from her past? What was she supposed to save them from, his going off to college? How could Tony and her past be connected?

She could tell him about the nightmares, but anything more, and he’d think she was a paranoid schizophrenic. Maybe he’d be right. What was wrong with her? From her earliest childhood memories, she planned to be a normal girl with ordinary problems. She couldn’t explain anything to Tony; not before she put her life back together.

The lights in the parking lot glistened off Tony’s black 1966 Chevelle Malibu. She didn’t need to ask him if he’d spent the entire afternoon cleaning and polishing it. Of course, he’d say he did it all just for her, but she knew better. Tony practically worshiped everything motorized, but the Malibu was special to him. His dad bought it and planned to restore it with the help of his two young sons, but was killed in a car accident before he had the chance.

Sometimes she wondered if she should be jealous of that old car. Tonight, she was just grateful to get out of the wind.

As Tony opened the driver’s door and Emily bent down to hop in the car, she caught a glimpse of a dark shape next to the bumper. She gasped and clutched Tony’s shirt. Her heart raced and the hair on her arms stood on end.

Tony wrapped his arm around her waist. “What happened? Are you hurt?”

She shook her head. “I thought I saw someone crouched down by your car. They were wearing a hooded sweatshirt.”

Tony looked around. “I don’t see anyone? Are you sure?”

She forced a laugh, pretending it was no big deal. “I think it must have been a shadow. Whatever it was, it’s gone now.”

She slid across the seat, pulling Tony inside with her. Every nerve in her body tightened. Her heart pounded in her ears as she peered into the darkness, trying to get a glimpse of…what? What did she think was out there? Was she being watched?


So, there you have the first chapter of Nightmares. It can be found at any of the live links below:

MuseItUp Publishing   Amazon  Barnes & Noble

And don’t forget to leave a comment and tell me what you think.


Do Characters and Worlds Haunt Your Brain?

Gus didn’t enjoy his adventure as much as he thought he would, but he did make a new friend.

Do Characters And Worlds Haunt Your Brain?

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

What is it about writing stories that forces us to write? Is it the characters in our heads clamoring to get out or the ideas of putting together a world different than our own?

I’ve had characters so insistent that I write their story, they keep me awake at night and some of those characters haven’t even been human. Like Gus, he’s a mouse. He wanted an adventure so badly that once I met him, he wouldn’t leave me alone.

Believe it or not, I first met Gus while I was working with my daughter Jamie cleaning an apartment. That’s what Jamie and her husband David do for a living, they paint and clean apartments when people move out of them. I sometimes help them on weekends.

Anyway, on this particular day, I was on my hands and knees, cleaning under a sink and I started thinking about mice. Well, you know, under a sink is a place mice often live. I’m not really afraid of mice, but if one were to show its self suddenly, I might scream. So I was watching for mice when this idea popped into my head. What if a mouse were to get lost? What if a city mouse suddenly found himself in the country or vice versa?

At that moment Gus introduced himself. You see Gus lived with Billy. Billy was Gus’ friend and he took care of Gus. Billy would read to Gus about pirates and adventures on the high seas, but then Billy would put Gus in his cage where he was safe and Billy would go on adventures of his own. Gus wanted to go with Billy, just once.

Gus lived in my head after that until I finally gave him his adventure in “Gus’ Big Adventure” which can be read at bumples.com.

Have you ever had a character like Gus haunting your brain until you write his story? Some characters have a specific location in mind or something different in their world that doesn’t exist in your own. For me, that was Emily. She kept bugging me until I wrote her story and gave her, her own world?

If you’ve had a character like Emily, your character may have wanted a world set in the far off future or in the past, but my character wanted her world right here in Iowa at a location that’s in the north east corner of the state. I live on the western side of the state, twelve miles from the Missouri River. Emily’s world is 250 miles away from mine, but Emily wouldn’t take no for an answer. She insisted that’s where she had to live and then she sprang something else on me.

She’s a psychic and something terrible happened in her past so bad, she didn’t want to remember ever having her “gift” or what happened to make her deny it.

Now I personally don’t know anyone who is psychic. I’ve met a couple of people who claimed to be and they even got paid for doing it, but I didn’t really know them.

And I’ve never met anyone in my small town that claimed to be a psychic either. I’m not saying they don’t exist in my real world, I’m just saying I’ve never met them. But psychics do exist in the world I created in my book Nightmares. Emily is one of them and she lives in a small town in Iowa and her world has psychics, a ghost and a serial killer in it.

The worlds I create in my fiction, are worlds similar to my own, but yet very different. So when I write stories about people who have the “gift” for a little while, I get to live in their world with them. I get to see everything through their eyes and feel what they feel. It’s heady stuff and I love it. I guess that’s another reason why I write.

What about you? Why do you write? Do you have characters in your head begging to come out? Or maybe you don’t write, but you love to read. Do you read so you can live in those other worlds for a short time too?

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

My facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn My facebook profile page is: http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean Twitter is: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

A Little About Me

A Little About Me

By Donna Jean McDunn

This is my first entry in my new blog. My goal is to blog at least once a week. I’m going to choose Thursdays for now, until I figure out what day is best. So please check back on Thursday. As you can see from the name of my blog, I’m Donna Jean McDunn and I write fiction. I write short stories for children and adults and maybe the occasional essay. I’ve recently finished writing a paranormal novel for teens (no, it’s not about vampires, it’s about ghosts and psychics and a serial killer in training).

As a child, my older sister and my mom used to read to me, so I grew up loving books. I couldn’t wait to go to school and learn to read and write and before long, I began to dream of becoming a writer. I started out like so many others, writing stories for my friends to read. The stories were always about us, me and my four best friends. Of course they loved them. Who wouldn’t? They were the stars in the stories. But I knew, deep down, the stories really sucked.

Many years went by and during that time, every once in awhile, I’d pull out my paper and pen and write, but gradually that became less and less until one day I woke up, and I was a grandma. (It really did seem like it happened that fast.)

It was June 2008 and I heard my biological, writer’s clock ticking. I realized if I was ever going to be a writer, I needed to begin now. I thought I’d start with a story for my grandchildren (at that time there were six, now there are eight). My first idea was to use one of my old stories, so I pulled them out…and laughed. I couldn’t give such horrible stuff to my grandkids.

I needed to learn to write for real. I decided to take a writing course. That first writer’s course was the beginning of a long and wonderful journey. Since then I have completed two other courses and I’m in the process of completing number four. I now have several short stories I’m proud of, a teen novel, the beginnings of another novel for women’s fiction and I’ve started planning another teen novel. I’ve also learned a lot from reading books and exploring websites about the do’s and don’ts of writing life. On the Internet, one of my favorite places to hang out is with Kristen Lamb www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com where I found the books “We Are Not Alone The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer”. They helped me create this blog.

From that first writing course, I found I had a lot to learn about accepting criticism with a smile. I believe this is what really held me back all those years ago. The first few times my instructor told me to rewrite my story and “show, don’t tell” I cried and then I got angry. My stories are my babies. I care about the characters and listening to someone say I’ve done something to hurt my baby…well it’s very hard to accept, but accept it, I had to, if I ever expected to be published. And I wanted that more than anything, so I did as she asked.

It made my stories so much better and I couldn’t begin to thank her enough. Editors have no time to worry about a writer’s feelings or care about a writer who refuses to change what needs to be changed. There are plenty of writers out there who will do whatever the editor asks of them without question. So, if I was ever going to have a prayer of being published, I had to be professional and treat my writing as a business, not my child. It’s critical to continue reading, writing and learning, as much as possible about writing, and the life that goes with it. That’s why at least one critique partner is important and writing courses are a must. They both helped to toughen me up and get me ready to submit and deal with editors in the real writing world.

Rejections are another part of writing that’s hard to accept. I began sending children’s and adult short stories out to online sights and print magazines. I’ve gotten a ton of rejections and I’ve saved every single one. My head said it wasn’t personal. Nevertheless, my heart was still broken. But, I kept submitting and eventually I had a couple of short stories for children published.

Here’s a direct link to my story “Pack Leader” at Knowonder Magazine. http://www.knowonder.com/2011/11/03/pack-leader-short-bedtime-stories/

I also have a story, “The Golden Stallion” online at www.storiesthatlift.com. (Once on the site click on the Story Library and then Children’s Stories).

In June I’ll have my first adult short story, “Saving Katie” published at www.thepinkchameleon.com.

Short stories are fun to write and writing for children is even more fun, but I wanted more. That’s why two of the classes I took were designed to teach me how to shape, write and sell novels. I will be submitting my YA paranormal novel to publishers soon. I’ll be sure to keep everyone informed.

In the other novel class designed to teach writing for adults, I’m learning how to write women’s fiction with a little romance, mystery and stalkers added in for flavor. I’ll let you know what happens with it too.

You may be wondering if I ever wrote that book for my grandkids and the answer is a yes. The story is about a stray mama cat (Belle) and our big red dog (Little Red) and how the two of them became friends. Belle produced several kittens before I was able to capture her (feral cats are smart). I finally managed to trap her and the kittens to get them all spay and neutered. I even used real pictures of the animals and the grandkids in the story. They loved it (the kids, not the cats). But like I told my oldest granddaughter when she asked me if it was a true story, she was twelve at the time, I said, “I write fiction. The story was based on real animals and people, but Little Red never rescued Belle from the creek across the road.” How about you? Are you a writer or a reader or maybe both, like me? I will reply to anyone who comments. How else could I get to know you?