Q&A with T.L. Martin & Touched by Death Excerpt

Touched by Death

  • By T.L. Martin
  • Editions: ebook
  • Published: September 1st 2017
  • Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
  • What if Death was more tempting than you had ever imagined?
    With Grams’s recent passing and a boyfriend who cares more about his next drink than her, Lou Adaire only wants to run. To start over somewhere new — maybe in a town where her family has history.
    But when a storm sends Lou’s truck plunging into Tuttle Creek Lake, she discovers exactly what it’s like to fight for your life. To gasp for air only to have your lungs fill with icy water. To die.
    What comes next changes everything.
    Dark eyes. Consuming presence.
    Death. As vague as a dream yet as intense as the lightning flashing above her still heart.
    Everything about him calls out to her, tugging at her with the warm vibration of his pull. He’s supposed to take her; they both know it. She wants him to.
    When she wakes in the hospital in a new town, she can’t forget what she saw. That impossible sensation of him breathing life back into her, a strong beat playing in her chest and a flutter running down her spine.
    Trying to move on with her life in a foreign place is hard enough, but when he comes back for more — his burning touch against her skin, his consuming presence weaving in and out of her life, and his own scars running far deeper than hers — Lou begins to realize there’s more to Death, and to the sleepy Kansas town, than she ever expected to find.
    Lou lived. But what if she’s not the only one in need of saving?

    ~ Bewitching BT



    My sweater chafes my shoulder blade, and I wince as it irritates the raw, tender skin. I hadn’t thought much about the injury since leaving the hospital, having had other things to focus on—or focus on avoiding—but now the memory resurfaces in my mind: rain smacking against the windshield, trees and darkness spinning around me, the booming crack of my window breaking, and shards of glass flying at me.
    I pull my sweater off. Eyes closed, I reach an arm across my chest and over my shoulder, tracing the tips of my fingers along the thick, three-inch cut that hasn’t quite scarred yet. It’s smooth beneath the stitches. Too smooth, and it feels foreign; a piece of my body I don’t recognize. I’ve always thought scars were meant to represent strength; all this one does is remind me that I shouldn’t be alive right now.
    That I’m lost.
    My eyelids flutter open, and my breath catches at the sudden touch of strong, warm fingers moving over my own. A slow, gentle stroke glides over the wound, but it’s not from me. It can’t be. My hand is stuck, frozen in place over my shoulder blade as though not daring to move. The mirror before me proves I’m alone in the bathroom, and yet, I feel it again, the same presence I felt several nights ago. Heat radiates behind my body as though someone is standing right there.
    Another stroke caresses the wound, and it’s even lighter this time, like a feather brushing over me. The feeling of skin against skin is as real as anything. I can almost hear my heartbeat pounding within my chest. The fingers move past my wound, never breaking contact with my skin, and slowly trail upward, toward my neck. Though the texture feels strong and almost rough, the touch itself is impossibly gentle, treating me like something fragile.
    No matter how loud my mind screams to fight it, my muscles are relaxing like jelly under the heavy sensation. My uplifted arm drops helplessly to my side. The warm touch strokes the side of my neck, wandering up further still until it’s almost in my hair. It’s light enough to send a shiver to my toes, and my eyelids start to close on their own, my head rolling slightly forward.
    The presence behind me inches closer, and I hear breaths again. Just like the other night, they’re deep and controlled, right by my ear.
    I have no idea what’s happening to me. Half of me is struck with a pang of fear, unease over the impossible experience. Yet the other half can’t help but be soothed by the calming tingles running through the length of me. There’s a trust I can’t explain, like a gentle, unspoken lullaby, and I know I’m safe. The heat, the masculine touch, the warm breaths soft as a whisper that rise and fall at the nape of my neck. I don’t want to think at all right now. I just want to feel.
    The caress slides back down the right side of my neck, almost skimming along my collarbone, when it stops. Draws back. I hear a hitch in the breathing, a tremble for a fleeting moment, the smallest hint of the effort it takes to pull back. Then the touch returns, but only to my scar, traveling down the length of it with incredible slowness, taking its time. As though savoring every moment of contact with me, in a way I’ve never experienced. A sigh pours from my lips, and when my head falls back, it’s caught by the solid warmth behind me. It’s real enough that I could swear I’m pressed up against the presence right now, a presence that sure as hell feels like a man—tall, strong, sturdy. The feeling is so vivid I find myself thinking in terms of him instead of it.
    A shake breaks his steady breathing again, another warm tremble in my ear, and I feel the tightness of his body rise and fall with each breath.
    I’m letting myself go, relaxing every part of me until the only thing keeping me upright is his body, and as I do, the hard curves of muscle tense against my back.
    Something in the air changes, and the presence behind me wavers. It’s completely solid one moment, and in the next it’s fluid, as though nothing more than a strong breeze props me up. Soon it’s not even a breeze, just a puff of air, and I’m grabbing the edge of the counter with both hands to keep from tumbling backward.
    My legs wobble, struggling to support the rest of me. When I catch sight of my reflection now, my face is flushed. I let out a loud exhale when I remember how to breathe and command myself to get a grip. I’m still feeling like a sloshy puddle when I slip my sweater back on over my head and drag myself to the front door of my room, unlocking it and yanking it open.
    I need fresh air like a drug right now, and I can’t stumble down the stairs fast enough. I hear Claire’s bubbly greeting when I fly past the front desk, but I don’t stop until I’m standing on the sidewalk, bending forward with my hands on my knees and soaking up the crisp winter breeze.
    What the hell is happening? This can’t just be in my head. I know I’ve been a little off since Grams’s passing, but there’s no way I’d be able to dream up something so freaking real.
    It was here. He was here.
    Whoever he is.


    1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?

    2. What would you say inspired you to write it? ?
    Touched by Death was initially inspired by two things: 1) the beautiful connection I witnessed between the main characters in a movie called In Your Eyes, and 2)  my desire to read a romance with Death (or the Grim Reaper) as the Hero. I couldn’t find a romance like that anywhere, so I decided to write one. Eventually the story took off and became its own entity completely.

    3. What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist? ?
    Initially there wasn’t a single, clear inspiration for Lou, other than her circumstances. I had to ask myself how someone going through so much loss in her life might feel. Once I began writing her character, she became her own person naturally.

    4. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it? ?
    Writer’s block for me only comes when the story (or parts of it) aren’t developed enough. Sometimes this is solved by free writing (opening my mind up and winging it, then going back to edit as things become clearer), other times by walking away and mulling it over as I go through my day-to-day actions, and other times by listening to some raw, emotional music.

    5. Your all time favorite book? ?
    Oh man, what a loaded question! When I was younger (my elementary school days), there were two books in particular that made a huge impact on me: The Giver by Lois Lowry, and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card—both for opening up my mind in ways I never knew possible. Today, my all time favorites would have to be It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, and Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma—for opening up my eyes and forcing me to reach deep into my soul.

    6. What made you pick that one above all others? ?
    Oops, guess I jumped ahead in that last question since I answered this above!

    7. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project? ?
    Two. Long. Years.

    8. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way? ?
    Yes, absolutely. Much like reading, writing makes you look at things (and people, circumstances, etc) in ways you never would otherwise. I’ve found empathy for things I wouldn’t have before, strength in subjects I used to cower over, release in areas that were caged, and freedom in experiencing difficult emotions. I think it’d be impossible for writing or reading not to have an impact on the person involved, even if seemingly small.

    9. Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind? ?
    Yes, during my first book. The hardest thing to me in writing that first book, is not knowing if it will be worth it. Will you fail? Will anyone want to read it? And if they do, will they hate it? Writing a book isn’t easy, and it’s challenging to commit to something so strenuous when you don’t know how it will be received. My support group was what kept me going (namely my dad and my husband, who both had more faith in me than I did). Then, once I published and realized that people could enjoy my work after all, that became a game changer.

    10. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing? ?
    I might kill you with boredom in the details, so I’ll just say that I’m a stay-at-home mom for my three kids and leave it at that. Keeps my hands busy, my feet tired, and my shirts stained. Good thing I kind of like the munchkins 😉

    11. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect? ?
    With my first book, it killed me. I could read a full page of great reviews, but all it took was one bad one to tear me up inside and severely wound my confidence.
    But things have changed a lot since then, and none of it has to do with my readers or critics. Something happened within myself when I wrote Touched by Death, like I found the heart of my voice as a writer somewhere along the way. I’ve reached a place with this book where I’m so happy with it that I’m at peace no matter what the reviews say.
    I suppose if I were to give advice now, it would be these two things:
    1) If you decide to read the negative reviews, see if there’s anything constructive in them that can strengthen you in your craft. For me with my first book, there was, and I’m thankful for that. If the reviews, however, are just nasty and aren’t constructive then don’t pay them a lick of your attention, because that will only hurt you and your work.
    2) Put everything into your work before you publish, so that when you do put it out there for the world to see, you’re happy enough with the result that your confidence will shield and lift you.

    12. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series? ?
    No, Touched by Death is a standalone.

    13. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series? ?
    Currently I’m exploring other sub-genres of romance, including contemporary romance and dark romance.

    14. What made you decide to go the self-pub way? ?
    There are a few factors here, but the main thing for me was time. From the first step of submitting to agents, to getting the book actually published and on shelves can take several years. When you sacrifice all your sleep and most of your date nights to get a book written, “years” sounds like a lifetime, especially when you have so many other stories bubbling up and taking up space inside your head, too.

    15. What would you say was the toughest part? ?
    1. The cost, and B) the pressure of knowing it’s ultimately all up to you.

    The cost doesn’t have to be much depending on what steps you take and whether or not you shortcut things, but this brings me back to point B. Shortcutting was never an option for me, since I want the final result to be something I’m proud of.

    16. Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting? ?
    Absolutely. I’m not a professional in these things and I won’t pretend to be. If I had prior experience in them that might change things, but I don’t.

    17. How did you decide who to hire, if you worked with pros? ?
    I did a lot of research, and I learned through some mistakes. I was fortunate in landing my brilliant editor right away, but the cover designer was another story. With my first book, I had hired someone who charged me $500 (more than my current designers do), and she ended up a) not making the deadline, b) not responding to my messages directly once I’d paid, and c) not being able to deliver what I asked for. In the end I found the designers I have now through a local writer’s convention I attended (they did the covers for both my books), I’m very happy with them.

    18. How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to self-pub to when you hit ‘Publish’? ?
    The writing act itself took two years longer for my first book—mostly because of my self-doubt and constantly questioning myself/struggling to find my voice. However the “after” stuff (final revisions, working with beta readers, editing, promo, etc.) took a little longer with my latest release, Touched by Death, than it did with my first book, and this is because I’d learned a few things since then and wanted to be as thorough as possible this time around. Whereas that stage took maybe two months with my first book, with Touched by Death it took closer to four.

    19. Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with? ?
    Currently I’m exclusively working with Amazon, which was an easy and convenient choice to make while starting out. But in a few months (November) I’ll be branching out to others for the first time.

    20. If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change? ?
    I can’t say I would, because I’ve learned some valuable lessons so far through the mistakes I’ve made.

    Fun facts: :

    1. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you? ?
    Hmm. It probably wouldn’t be one of my recent favorites, because those tend to be slightly depressing and deal with difficult issues. If I were stranded I’d need something light, positive, and hopeful to keep me going. And timeless, of course…who knows how long I’ll be stuck there! 😉 For that reason, I think I’d pick a Disney classic like Beauty and the Beast.

    2. Name your favorite fruit. ?
    Frozen blueberries!

    3. Coffee or tea? ?
    Tea, hands down.

    4. Favorite season? ?

    5. Favorite food for breakfast? ?
    Anything carby and sweet, like pancakes drizzled in syrup, or sugary crepes.

    6. Latest book you’ve bought and read? ?
    I’m in the middle of Anti-stepbrother by Tijan.

    7. Have a fav quote or personal motto? ?
    I have files and files of quotes that I love on my desktop! I even have some hanging on my bedroom walls.

    8. Cats or dogs? ?
    Impossible to answer. Both hold pieces of my heart 🙂

    9. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing? ?
    The first seems stuffy and serious, and I don’t have the patience or energy for the latter anymore, so… How about an evening at the beach with a bonfire?

    10. What song have you listened to most recently? ?
    I’ve been obsessed with Fleurie’s entire album.

    Full Disclosure:

    1. Your top secret, uber guilty pleasure is… ?
    Well, it’s top secret so…

    2. If you could choose to be someone else for just one day, it would be… ?
    One of my kids! I swear, they have it so good 😉

    3. If everyone would receive a prize for being best at something, you’d be no. 1 at… ?
    Relaxing? Is that an option? Because I’m really, really good at it.

    4. You’d immediately fall for someone who… ?
    Can make me laugh and forget myself for a little while.

    5. The one thing you could/can never get over is… ?
    Infidelity. Well, I say that now, but I’ve never actually gone through that. This is an easy answer to give, but who knows what would actually end up being the case if it ever did happen to me? I know couples who have gone through infidelity and have stayed together through it, it’s just not something I’m in a position to understand at this point in my life.

    6. The most awkward moment in your life happened when… ?
    Oh man, how much time do you have? There are so many…

    7.  The awesomest thing in your life is… ?
    My family and my readers.

    About the Author & Links:

    Author of romance and paranormal, T.L. Martin is also a wife, mother of 3, homebody, animal lover, and hug enthusiast. She resides with her family in Southern California.

    T.L.’s novels tend to involve the things she enjoys most as a reader: relatable and flawed protagonists, unexpected twists, slow burn romances, and a lively cast of secondary characters. (Being that she writes both young adult and new adult titles, please check individual book descriptions for any content warnings.)

    T.L. is presently branching out into new adult contemporary romance!
    Join her newsletter by visiting her website.

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