Thursday, October 3, 2013

Excerpt, Guest Post & Giveaway: Beneath The Skin by Amy Lee Burgess

I'm happy to welcome author Amy Lee Burgess today!  

The Inspiration Behind Beneath The Skin

At the time of Hurricane Katrina, I lived in New Orleans. I evacuated with my (now ex) husband, four cats and two computer towers. We never went back. I’d written since I was about ten years old, but I’d gone into a long hiatus during the New Orleans years. Stranded in Houston, a city very different than New Orleans, I went into what I now suspect was a bout with depression spiced with PTSD.

After we made the decision not to go back to New Orleans, I couldn’t seem to bond with my new city. I started writing again. About vampires. Time that had dragged and seemed soaked with futility now rushed past at blinding, glorious speed. By the time I looked up, almost a year had passed and I had eight novels. (None of them remotely publishable!)

My heroine, Anabel, was my touchstone and my lifeline in an increasingly changing world. My marriage broke up and I found myself alone for the first time since I left my childhood home. I was down to two cats by this point and I wanted Anabel’s story to keep going and going and going.

Friends convinced me to post the novels by installment on my LiveJournal. I started getting feedback and decided to rewrite starting from the second novel on. More time passed with me plunged into Anabel’s life.

I’d never seriously thought about publishing. The task seemed Herculean and my fragile sense of self and ego was so afraid of being crushed by rejection. I had an editor friend who invited me to submit something to her but not my vampire novel because she’d read some of it and knew the series was too long, too tangled, too free form. Okay, she didn’t tell me all that except for the too long part but after publishing the Wolf Within series I can look back and see for myself that Anabel was never destined to be published.

The shortest of Anabel’s novels, the first one, clocked in at over two hundred thousand words. And they just kept getting bigger and longer every novel.

Another friend, a writer, issued a challenge around this time – participate in NaNoWriMo. Thirty days to write fifty thousand word didn’t seem like much of a feat to me. Ha. But writing a fully articulated novel with a beginning, middle, and most importantly, an ending did seem like something I needed to do. I set my goal to write an entire novel in less than one hundred thousand words over the thirty days of November. And I would submit it for publication and see what happened.

I had to set Anabel aside for the first time in five years. Five years! Where had the time gone?

I didn’t know what I was going to write about, but I knew what I wasn’t going to write about. Vampires.

I’d been reading some Patricia Briggs novels at that point and a couple of other shifter novels. I’d always loved wolves and so I decided my NaNoWriMo novel would feature wolf shifters. Beyond that I had no idea.

First person POV? Third? I fretted for days before November 1st. The Anabel novels were written in third person with shifting POVs among the main characters yet my first love was always to write in first person. So a few days before November I decided that’s what I would do. I would write about a wolf shifter from the first person POV. But who was she? What did she look like? What was her name?

Halloween night I went to bed after setting my alarm so I could get up at 5 a.m. and start my shifter novel. I still had no idea who my heroine was. I fell asleep.

November 1st, around four-thirty in the morning I woke ahead of my alarm with a name circling around in my brain. Stanzie. What the hell kind of name was that? I knew my heroine’s name was Stanzie but, damn it, she had to have an actual real name. Stanzie had to be a nickname. But from what name would you get Stanzie?

Anastasia? Yeah, but Stanzie came from New England. Wait. What? She does? It seemed I had dreamed of her but I couldn’t recall anything but her name and now that she came from New England. (That made sense since I come from New England I can write about that region because I know it.)

Anastasia sounded like a foreign woman’s name and Stanzie needed something less haughty, something more Puritan. Like Hope or Faith or Charity or…Constance! You could get to Stanzie from Constance!

I leaped out of bed – much to the dismay of my cats – and ran to my keyboard. Stanzie was a real person to me now, albeit one I didn’t know yet.

So I sat down behind my computer and I could see Stanzie sleeping in a small single bed in a Paris hotel room. She was dreaming..about her wolf finding one of her bond mates. Dead.

Run. Run, run, run. Scared. Littles hide, no scrape legs, no make noise. Wind no push things. Fur stick up. Me scared. Me follow scent. Her. Me love Her. See big hard thing. Pushed in. Black water drip, drip, drip. Blood. Smell blood. Drip, drip, drip. Scared. See Her. See Her in big hard thing. Her two legs now. Her eyes no see Me. Look up to Big Shiny and little shinies. No see. Smell blood. Smell Her. No hear beat thing. No hear blood move under skin. Her no move no more. Her gone. Me look up see Big Shiny. Me cry loud.

From that dream Stanzie’s past was born. She was in Paris to attend a Gathering of wolf packs so she could find a new bond mate. Hers Grey and Elena, were killed in a car crash and she’d been driving. Everyone in her old pack blamed her – said she’d been drinking. But Stanzie didn’t remember the accident that way. Had it been her fault ll or maybe there was some other more sinister cause?

I finished the novel, Beneath the Skin, in eleven days.

Beneath the SkinIf you could shift into a wolf, what would you discover about yourself?
Two years after the deaths of her bond mates, Constance Newcastle is ready to start over. The problem? The rest of the Great Pack, gathered in Paris to shift into wolves together, is not so sure she deserves the chance. Although the Great Council ruled the car crash an accident, even Constance blames herself. She was driving, after all.
Treated like a pariah by those she longs to rejoin, Constance reunites with an old lover. Everything looks promising until he mysteriously dies. Accused of his murder and desperate to clear her name, Constance joins forces with handsome, confident Liam Murphy, a former Alpha pack leader with a past as tragic and troubled as her own. Guided by the mysterious Councilor Jason Allerton, Constance and Liam discover they are not alone– throughout the Great Pack, people are dying. Can all the deaths be accidents, or is something more sinister going on?
CONTENT WARNING: Vulgar language, some sexual situations


About The Author
Amy Lee Burgess is a transplanted New Englander living in Houston, Texas with two dogs and lots of DVDs. In an attempt to bond with the city after being forced out of New Orleans post-Katrina, she turned to her writing. Determined to finally finish that novel she’d been hacking away at since high school, Amy managed to come up with a wolf shifter character named Stanzie Newcastle. She and Stanzie have been BFFs ever since.

In addition to Stanzie, Amy has also forged a relationship with several vampires, a witch or two, and other assorted supernatural creatures she hopes will entertain her readers. But she will always have room for coffee and butterscotch squares with Stanzie.

 Rafflecopter giveaway

Organized By:
Buy the Book Tours

post signature


  1. I admire the author's fortitude to forge ahead after losing her city and dealing with a divorce. She also lost two precious animals. What strength of character! I cannot imagine having an imagination so strong an entire novel poured in only 11 days. That is both wonderful and amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Was a touching intro.. and so can relate. Thank you for sharing with us..and the chance. erikalrhodes at gmail dot com

  3. That melted the soul.. so many have gone through this.. and glad to see the author drove ahead.