Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas A-List!

I love the holidays. Love ‘em! And it’s not just the gifts, music and food…well, c’mon, they are a huge part of the equation but not all. I love the beauty of the decorations—all the lights make the world look like a beautiful, mystical fairy land. Then there’s the good cheer…except for the cashiers at Wal-Mart who give you the evil eye and Judas kiss when you come in shopping on Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. Not…that I…do it… Ahem. But for a little over a month, people are kinder, happier and more giving. It’s a time for family traditions, new and old. Sigh. I love it… So here are some other Christmas favorites! Do you recognize some?

 Favorite Christmas movie: All time favorite is “A Christmas Story”. Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Frah-rah-rah-rah-rah-rah-rah-rah-rah! But my recent favorite is “A Princess for Christmas”. I mean, what’s better than a handsome honest-to-God prince falling in love with a commoner from Buffalo, NY, a castle, a crotchety old duke and precocious kids who melt his heart? And throw in the snobby fiancĂ©e who is shown for the witch she is by the sheer shining goodness of the beautiful would-be princess? Yeah, love that movie. Go, Hallmark! 

Favorite Christmas meal to prepare: Stuffed pork chops. Of course since I am domestically-challenged, it also my favorite meal for Thanksgiving, Easter and Father’s Day…

 Favorite Christmas song: It’s a toss-up between the Jackson 5’s “The Christmas Song” and Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth”. Classics!! Never fails to have me singing and in the Christmas spirit!
 

Favorite Christmas memory: I remember on Christmas Eve my sister and I would pile our stuffed animals and dolls around us in bed while we waited for Santa Claus. But first we would bake cookies, watch “A Christmas Carol” and write our letters to Santa.

Favorite “A Christmas Carol”: This is a hard one! I love just about every version of “A Christmas Carol” there is—from black-and-white, to musicals to “A Diva’s Christmas” with Vanessa Williams! But my favorite is the 1951 adaptation with Alastair Sim. He was one of the best Scrooges! Cold, miserly and full of contempt. But when he changed…I believed his joy in Christmas! Plus this version followed the book more closely than others! It is the best!
 
 
Favorite Christmas decoration: Hands down my Christmas village! I’ve been collecting the pieces for seven or eight years and it’s huge now! I look at it and imagine living in a place like it one day…
 
Christmas village
 
So those are my Christmas favorites!! What are yours? Share!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Once Upon a Time there was a New Release!

Yes! Friday, November 30th, Ellora’s Cave Publishing is releasing Stroke of Midnight, the first book in my Breathlessly Ever After series! It is a re-release and I’m so excited about the new cover, the publisher and the story! Check out the blurb, excerpt and trailer!

Stroke of Midnight coverNo-nonsense, less-than-warm Rowyn Jeong cannot compare to her bubbly stepsister Cindy. But hey, everyone has their niche, right? And hers is a keen eye for business and the bottom line. Being labeled the plainer, wicked stepsister never bothered her…until Darius Fiore reappeared. Six months ago, they indulged in a hot one-night stand and the sexy business tycoon did more than just get under her skin. He branded her body like no man before. But his return jeopardizes her position at her stepfather’s company, and he’s the man Cindy has within her sights—and hands.

Behind closed doors, Darius discovered more lay beneath Rowyn’s hard exterior than the ice queen persona she presents to her family. The sultry vixen left him in a tight spot—literally. Now he’s back and understands—her family’s disregard has her hungry for love and acceptance. But breaking down her defenses won’t be easy. Especially since his presence risks everything she’s worked so hard to achieve.





 
 Excerpt

8:15 p.m.

Shit. She was late.  

The Harrisons’ long-time housekeeper Margaret opened the front door at Rowyn’s knock. When the older woman smiled and stepped back for her to pass, it occurred to Rowyn the housekeeper might be the only person pleased to see her tonight. Her mother Pamela Wright Harrison would be pissed because she’d arrived late. Daniel Harrison, her mother’s second husband and Rowyn’s stepfather, would be irritated because of the interruption her arrival would cause. And her stepsister Cynthia—or Cindy as they all called her—would wear her usual pretty smile and add a vapid comment or two.

Fun, fun, fun.

Yeah. Like a stake in the eye.

“They are in the small living room,” Margaret said, taking Rowyn’s purse.

“Thanks, Maggie.” Rowyn inhaled and released the breath in a low gust of air. She stretched her lips into the brightest, phoniest smile she could manage. “Here’s my social smile,” she murmured through clenched teeth and a stiff mouth. “How does it look?”

Margaret chuckled and shook her head. “Lovely, Ms. Rowyn.”

The older woman turned and headed toward the hall closet, still laughing softly. Rowyn stared after her. The hair contained more gray strands now than black. The drill sergeant stride that had struck awe and fear in Rowyn’s heart as a child had slowed a bit. It dawned on her like the coming of a new day that if this proud woman were gone, Rowyn would lose the only person who had loved her unconditionally.

She’d entered this home at her mother’s side a scared and nervous eleven-year-old, trying so hard to mimic Pamela’s aloof expression. But Maggie had taken one look at her and detected the fear lurking beneath the adult mask. And through the years the housekeeper had loved Rowyn—even when she’d been unlovable.

Amusement mingled with the pang of sadness. And there were certainly times when she’d been damn unlovable.

As she turned toward the living room entrance, her humor drained away like the alcohol which doubtless flowed too easily down her mother’s throat. With her hand on the knob, Rowyn slabbed layer after layer of mental cement around her emotions and heart. A quick scan ensured no cracks existed and she twisted the knob, pushed open the door and entered.

And walked into Charlotte Bronte’s version of hell.

Daniel faced the entrance, speaking animatedly to the tall man across from him. Her mother—surprise, surprise, with a highball raised to her lips—and stepsister filled in the small circle. At the snick of the door closing behind Rowyn, all four turned to stare in her direction.

Oh. Damn.

The gasp remained trapped in her throat and the world screeched to a halt as if God had slammed his foot on the brakes of time. She sucked in a breath—a difficult task since all the air seemed to have been vacuumed out of the room. Perspiration prickled her palms and if she could have moved, she would have rubbed them against her skirt.

It can’t be. She stared, her heart performing a dizzying tap dance against her rib cage. It’s not possible.

Yet meeting the bright blue eyes that had haunted her dreams for the past six months, Rowyn couldn’t deny what her gaze refused to accept.

Him.

She’d convinced herself he couldn’t possibly have been as beautiful in reality as he’d appeared in her dreams. After all, when a man gave a woman the most intense, just-this-side-of-death orgasms she’d ever experienced, she could be forgiven for imagining him larger than life. But no, as he stood mere feet away, staring at her with his impenetrable gaze, Rowyn realized her dreams hadn’t been exaggerations.

The same deep cobalt eyes that reminded her of the heart of the ocean. The same olive-tinted skin that reminded her of Italian villas perched on craggy cliffs and romantic beaches. The same beauty that, if he’d been born centuries earlier, would have had Michelangelo drooling to sculpt him for his “David.” His dark-brown, closely-cropped curls enhanced the image of a Greco-Roman work of art. And Jesus, the body…She shivered. Tall, elegant and hinting at the almost-primitive power that existed under the civilized black jacket, slacks and maroon shirt.

She’d been on the receiving end of that power, unleashed and wild.

The intense stare held her immobile and might as well have been a length of steel chains wrapped around her body. She couldn’t move, couldn’t avoid the hard questions in his penetrating gaze.

Happy Release Day!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Southern Magic Luncheon 2012
Souther Magic Readers Luncheon 2012!
Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love
November is one of my favorite months! And not just for the obvious Thanksgiving holiday. Or the two federal holidays aka vacation days. Nope. Although those are very good reasons, the first Saturday in November is my local RWA chapter’s annual Readers Luncheon! I love this event! Every year I meet fabulous readers, visit with awesome authors I love and admire, get lotsa free goodies, win cool gifts and have a wonderful lunch. Not to mention I have the opportunity to listen to inspiring authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love, this year's keynote and introduction speakers. 



Southern Magic Luncheon 2012 Sherrilyn Kenyon and me
Sherrilyn Kenyon and me!
For four hours we laugh, joke—sometimes cry, all depends on who’s speaking!—hug, cheer and celebrate. We celebrate each other’s careers, our milestones—I had my fifth sale this year!— and our successes. It’s a readers’ luncheon but aren’t we all readers? Like I had a total “fan girl” moment when I met Sherrilyn Kenyon. Yeah, I gushed. And so what? I’ve loved her books for years! I can’t count the number of blissful, excitement-and-escape filled hours she’s given me. Also, it’s a time when I came face-to-face with people I’ve joked and talked with over loops and Facebook.

Southern Magic Luncheon 2012 me and Debra hug


 
Debra Glass and me!






And always seeing fellow Ellora’s Cave author, my good friend and critique partner Debra Glass is awesome! She is so gorgeous and, if I didn’t love her so much, I’d probably give her the stink-eye every time she passed by me! LOL! No, really. A more gracious and kinder lady a person would be hard pressed to find. And she’s just an example of the authors in attendance every year! So if you’re in the Birmingham, AL area next November, come join us! Southern Magic can promise you a good time!



Southern Magic Luncheon 2012 Booksigning 2
My first booksigning!
Southern Magic Luncheon 2012 Lynn Raye Harris Kira Sinclair
Lynn Raye Harris and Kira Sinclair!


Southern Magic Luncheon 2012 Mina Khan and Lexi George
Rashda Khan and Lexi George!
Southern Magic Luncheon 2012 Carla and Jennifer
Jennifer Echols and Carla Swafford!

Christy Reece!


Southern Magic Luncheon 2012 Mary and Katherine
M.V. Freeman and Katherine Bone!

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Editor Has Corrupted Me!

I LOVE my editor at Ellora’s Cave! Love, love, love! She is like the Conan-Do-You-Want-to-Live-Forever-Valkyrie editor, I swear. She goes all bad-ass over my books, that’s for sure. Not only is she hilarious, sarcastic, efficient and willing to tell me that yes, I am a brilliant ar-teest who happens to have exquisite taste in shoes, but she is damn good at her job! So far I’ve learned I have a love affair with “that”, am an overstater of the obvious and can’t seem to filter out those doggone pesky filters…did I mention she has the patience of a saint?? Did I also mention the last manuscript I got back from her looked like a holy stigmata?? She is so thorough and so knowledgeable I felt like apologizing for being such a non-specific, filtering, pronoun-abusing schmuck! In a nutshell? She’s awesome!!

One of the cool things about having an editor who knows her stuff is learning from her/him with each book and round. Suddenly I’m aware of certain word choices that may take a reader out of my character’s head. Or I’m able to pinpoint superfluous words or phrases that just muddy up a sentence. I’m learning to write cleaner thanks to her… Yet there is a downside to her brilliant attention to detail. Once the awareness has kicked in, it is impossible to shut off. Self-editing is wonderful—especially when it enables you to turn in a tighter manuscript. But there are certain uh, things, one just should not edit…

* The bible. Do you know how blasphemous it feels to sit during service or bible study and critique scripture? Seriously though has anyone besides me noticed there are a ton of unnecessary “that”s, ambiguous “you”s, “thou”s and “him"s? While I should be concentrating on the patriarchs of faith, I’m restructuring the sentence so the correct nouns are modified and entering proper names instead of pronouns…am I going to hell? ‘Cause I kinda feel nitpicking God is like 10a. of the Ten Commandments…

* School newsletters and memos. A veritable smorgasbord of dangling modifiers, preposition-ending sentences and not enough commas! Okay, the last one is just my personal preference…

* Text messages. As one who is a hater of auto-fill, text messages send my inner editor into a tail spin! I know it is way more expedient to type “ure” and “u” and “btr” and “ty”…but I…can’t…do…it. And when I get a text with those—and a plethora of other abbreviations—in them, I need to type them out. Which makes my return message the size of 3 texts long. And if I notice I made a mistake after I hit send, it’s a compulsion to send a follow-up email apologizing, saying “I meant…” Yes. Really. I am this anal…

I sooo blame this on your beautiful mind, Violet!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Unveiling!

So I’ve been super, super busy with edits and revisions. Very excited! As this is my day to post, I’m going to be the promo-slut of the week and post an excerpt from Under His Wings, my upcoming paranormal release with Ellora’s Cave Publishing! Hope you enjoy!

Blurb:

Under His Wings Cover
Mundane and boring are seriously underrated, so sixth grade social studies teacher Tamar Ridgeway believes. After surviving a horrible plane crash and enduring years of painful therapy, she’s entitled to a couple of phobias and a normal, humdrum life. So what, she’s afraid of the dark and refuses to ever step foot into anything that flies… At long last, she’s happy—until the night she and a friend are attacked by a mythical creature out of her worst nightmares. Suddenly she’s on the hit list of a homicidal half eagle-half horse monster, and the sexy warrior with chocolate and gold wings who steps out of her dreams—literally—is vowing to save her, whether she wants his protection or not.


Nicolai Abioud, Dimios of the hippogryph, is stunned to realize that the human he saves from a vicious attack is the woman he has shared dreams with for the past six months—very erotic, hot dreams. Five hundred years ago, he failed to protect his wife and swears not to allow the same fate befall Tamar. He’s fascinated by her beauty, and mesmerized by the warrior spirit that burns bright inside her eyes. Yet he refuses to submit to the stirring in his body and heart. He’s had his one, true mate and lost her, and falling for a human—no matter how hot and demanding the desire—is foolish and doomed. Yet the choice to accept this unexpected love may be snatched out of their hands. Danger is closing in, and somehow they must find a way to conquer their fears or lose the love of a millennium.

Excerpt:

Dusk bullied its way across the skyline, the rolling bank of gray and black clouds forcing daylight to pick up its ball and go home.

Nicolai Abioud studied the fast-moving mass as several stories beneath him the denizens that awakened with the dark stirred and crept out of their hiding places, ready to go about the business of the encroaching night. The rundown five-story building he crouched on top of probably hosted all manner of illicit activities. Drug addicts and prostitutes peered out of windows as jagged as their souls, scouting the dirty, garbage-littered streets for patrolling cops or predators more vicious then they.

He was such a predator.

Only he had bigger prey to bag.

He scanned the obsidian alleys, his raptor’s eyes sighting even the smallest scurry. Below, a scantily clad woman led an old man down the passageway. As she maneuvered him behind the large dumpster, she glanced toward the sky as if sensing the hunter who perched above her. Even if she could spot Nicolai, he wouldn’t be her concern. Her wariness was better reserved for the other one who stalked these streets.

"Nico.”

He didn’t glance over his shoulder as the low, sandpaper-over-gravel voice echoed inside his head. The heavy strokes of wings against air had reached his ears several moments ago.

“Yes?” he asked aloud, noting that the prostitute had finished her transaction and was headed toward the mouth of the alley. Either she had a blue ribbon talented mouth or the man had a two second fuse. Nicolai was betting on the latter.

“There’s no sign of him,” Lukas Gallo reported along the telepathic link they shared. “Maybe he’s moved on.”

“No.” Nicolai met the steady, ice-blue gaze of his second-in-command and one of the three males he led. Tonight Lukas hunted with him. The other two warriors—Adon Laskaris and Dorian Zarides—searched for traces of their prey on the east side of the city. Together the three males formed the krinos, the select, highly trained fighting unit that served under the Dimios, their people’s executioner. Or Nicolai. On the rooftop, Lukas’ obsidian plumage, wings and body seemed to swallow the shades around him, a worm hole sucking the shadows into his huge bulk. Only his arctic gaze and the distinctive three white stripes across his back relieved the midnight feathers, equestrian hindquarters and tail. “This is prime hunting ground for him. He’s not finished.” Nicolai murmured.

A sigh whispered down their connection. “We were almost too late to cover up his last kill. Even Evander wouldn’t risk the exposure another would bring.”

“No?” Nicolai arched his eyebrow. “He’s a rogue, Lukas. By the very definition of the word he doesn’t give a fuck about rules. And he damn sure doesn’t care if he reveals us to the human world. It’s a game to him,” he rasped, his gaze returning to the streets that grew more active, teemed with more people…more quarry for the kill. “Us. Them. We’re all pawns in this screwed up version of Clue to which only he knows the rules.”

Lukas remained silent at the words that sounded bitter to Nicolai’s own ears. Evander Agnew, the latest of his people to go rogue. Over the last four months, he’d cut a bloody trail through Europe and now here to North America. The kills had been spread out and Nicolai, Lukas, Adon and Dorian had worked swiftly to cover them up. But Evander didn’t show any signs of stopping. The humans had no idea a monster out of their mythical lore—and their worst nightmares—had been unleashed on them.

And Nicolai had trained the sadistic bastard.

As the Dimios, the race’s judge, jury and executioner, it fell to Nicolai to hunt Evander and bring him down just as Nicolai had done all other rogues who’d gone off the proverbial reservation. Hunting his brethren, executing them and preserving the secrecy of his people’s existence were Nicolai’s responsibilities—had been for eight hundred years. As long as the hippogryph had been in existence, there had been those who’d gone rogue for one reason or another—resentment over the restrictions governing their exposure to the world, exile or bloodlust. Whether they were angry, power hungry or deranged, he’d pursued them all. Yes, he experienced regret over some of the punishments, but it had never been personal.

Until now.

Until Evander—an elite warrior Nicolai had trained and a trusted soldier he’d commanded—betrayed him by preying on the weak and defenseless.

Until four months ago when Evander had started his rampage with the murder of Nicolai’s best friend.

Grief writhed in his gut like snakes on a Gorgon’s head. Nicolai, Lukas, Adon, Dorian—they accepted that their deaths were possible every time they pursued a rogue and engaged in battle. But Bastien hadn’t signed up for that. He’d been a healer, not a warrior. Yet Evander had targeted Bastien because he’d been Nicolai’s friend. Just to hurt Nicolai, Evander had stolen the life of a good man. For that the betrayer would die. If Nicolai had to track him for the rest of his existence, he would destroy this rogue.

“Nico, let me take this one,” Lukas urged. “You’re too personally involved—”

“Forget it,” Nicolai snapped.

A loud crack rent the air and he glanced down, startled to see his black talons stabbing into the edge of the roof. Fine fissures zigzagged over the railing and chunks of cement littered the ground. Lifting his head, he met Lukas’ censorious gaze. Juveniles half-shifted as they learned to dominate their beast. For an adult—especially a nine-hundred-year-old warrior—to do so meant a loss of control. Dangerous for one whose duty required he discipline not just himself but an entire race of people.

“Forget it,” he repeated, voice grim. He eyed his second-in-command until Lukas lowered his sleek, black head, a sign of the male’s submission. “We hunt here tonight. And we’ll keep on until we find this demented bastard and take him out.”

The cold, grim words echoed in the night air as Nicolai leaped onto the narrow railing, landing in a crouch. He splayed his fingers on the rough ledge, maintaining his balance as he again examined the murky expanse of sky. The dense blanket of pollution hid the twinkle of stars and obscured the moon’s pearlescent glow. A shaft of longing for the clean, fresh air of his home pierced him. If he breathed deep he could almost taste the rain-scented breeze that blew over the private peninsula off the Washington state coast. There the stars glittered like bright diamonds scattered across a velvet cloth by a celestial hand.

As different from this place as shit from shine.

“Lukas.” Nicolai squinted at a sizeable, dingy cloud that sailed at a slightly faster clip than the others. Something about the odd shape…and when the moon’s beam struck it…

“That’s him,” he growled.

Not waiting for Lukas’ reply he dove off the ledge, arms outstretched, head thrown back. Magic sizzled from the soles of his feet, blazed a path up his legs, thighs to his gut and chest, and shot to his shoulder blades and legs. It consumed him. Bone snapped and popped, muscle and tendon contorted as his head rounded and formed a large, high-arched beak and shaggy crest at the same time feathers sprouted along his arms and back. Two pairs of legs—the front pair talon-tipped and the back hoofed—stretched and kicked as his wings beat hard one, twice, and the hippogryph’s powerful, magnificent body climbed high into air. At the same time he cast a gyges, a magical net that rendered him invisible to the human eye.

Beside him, Lukas’ black half-eagle-half-stallion beast appeared, and together they streaked through the sky after their prey.

“Stay back,” Nicolai ordered through the telepathic link. Lukas’ head snapped to the side, his onyx eyes glittering with shock and growing anger. Before the other hippogryph could voice his objection, Nicolai cut him off. “Don’t interfere. That’s an order.”

Lukas’ rage crackled down their link but he spread his wings wide and reared back on his hind legs, talons clawing the air. Nicolai launched forward, all his attention focused on the smoky billow several feet beneath him. The mist—too thick to be natural—didn’t hinder his search. Tonight he would end this, damn it. He would end Evander.

A warning whispered through his head. The same warning he gave those who trained under him.

Never let emotion enter the hunt. If you do, you’re dead as fuck.

Well he was as dead as a damn doornail because there was no way he could separate the hatred, the overwhelming grief and thirst for revenge….for blood.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Would Do Anything to Write But I Won’t Do That…Yeah, I Would

These days you can’t turn on the television without some kind of campaign commercial. Vote for me. Don’t vote for that guy. He’s a crook. He’s a nudist, I mean, communist. Blah, blah, blah. And it’s only going to get worse in the next two months. Yaay!
 
One of the main issues for the candidates is employment. Of course this topic concerns all of us. I mean, who here often has more month than money? *raising hand high and waving madly* Especially authors. The amounts of our royalty checks fluctuate, the work we put in often far outweighs the money we received. Add to that piracy and it can be frustrating…sometimes discouraging. Freakin’ depressing...

Enter moi. I’m not going to blog about the state of the economy or how hard it is to make ends meet. Authors are no strangers to hard work. I’ve heard people talk about actors sacrificing for their art, but authors are the biggest sacrificial lambs I know! Which started me thinking…what exactly have we done in the past to earn a check? To make ends meet? To draw the 30th just a wee bit closer?

I remember in college, I donated plasma for cash. They gave me $45.00, a honey bun and orange juice. And I gave the honey bun and orange juice right back to them as soon as I came to from the dead faint outside the clinic. I won’t name any names—for I don’t know if the statutory limit has expired—but a certain person who used to work at McDonald’s would bring food back to his dorm after closing and sell the leftovers to hungry college students…

So I polled my fellow authors and asked them to divulge some of the weirdest/craziest/most desperate jobs they ever had. And boy did they DIVULGE!! LOL! Here goes:

dalton diaz


“I sold flowers on street corners in a bikini in So Cal! Yeah, that was a few kids ago...A former coworker saw me and thought I'd joined a cult. Freaking hilarious!”—Dalton Diaz


Cindy Spencer Pape




“I actually did the blood thing too, in grad school. The worst though had to have been a legitimate temp job when I worked for an agency. I had to spend one day as a dressing assistant at a fashion show. Shudder. That was such a PIA on so many levels.”—Cindy Spencer Pape


Sidney Bristol


“I got drafted at an audio gig I was working to help dress for a huge cirque stage performance. There were literally moments where a hot, buff, arrogant ass would walk up to me, hold out his arms and I would have to unzip him and physically undress him down to his flesh colored man-thong and redress him because they were too "in character" to dress themselves. So disgusting.”—Sidney Bristol
 


“The summer I worked for a diaper service. People actually had to count the soiled diapers that came in to know how many clean diapers to pack for the next order. Happy to say I wasn't a diaper counter--got to work in the office.”—Mardi Ballou






Marcia James
 
“Worked as an advertising copywriter, writing things like Chinese beer commercials. Took two Miss Maryland and two Miss Virginia beauty queens singing and dancing at Veterans' hospitals for the USO. Was an extra in the 1940s-set mini-series, War & Remembrance. I also put a mic on Jimmy Carter's son for a TV interview and was almost wrestled to the ground by the secret service because I started to pull up his shirt to hide the mic cord.”—Marcia James
 
“I had a paper route while in nursing school. My husband planted Venus Flytrap seedlings to sell!"—Jessica Lee

“I once participated in a study of productivity - typing while walking on a treadmill. It was done in some guy's basement in Maryland and I took my then boyfriend/now hubby with me. I think I earned maybe $40 but it's been 30 years! I was tasked to type ‘War and Peace’ as I recall, tho not the whole thing thankfully! I did see years later a mention of the results of the study in a magazine article, so it was at least legit.”—Betty Bolte

Are you laughing yet?? LOL! I learned a LOT about authors I admire!! One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my father. “Make sure you do something you love waking up to in the morning.” I spent so many years in a field I hated that being able to write for a living is a blessing—a rich blessing. So no matter what the economy says or those dirty pirates do—may your hard drives catch the equivalent of a computer STD!!—we have the best jobs in the world!! Hey, from the stories above, we really do!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Got My Battle Face On

LOOK AT MY TRAILER AT THE END OF THIS!!
Okay, that was my bow to my promo-whorish ways. Now back to my post…

Friday I finished the book I have been working on forever!!

Sooo maybe it’s not forever…but it seemed like it! LOL! Yes, I’m whining, and I know there’s someone somewhere reading this going, shut up, bitch! You finished it, what’s your problem?? Snicker.

Nico WarriorWell, there is a huge, epic battle scene that takes place at the end of the book—think Lord of the Rings epic—and it took me three days to write! Correct that. Three daaaaaaays to write. This was my first time writing a scene of this size with a bunch of people and, for the life of me, I could not find my Muse. That wench was playing loosey-goosey with my inspiration and I was stuck!

My solution? I started YouTube-ing every battle scene I could think of. 300. Highlander. Return of the King. The Two Towers. I did a search for every fight clip I could find, and you know what? It worked! Oh wow, did it work! I nailed it! I’m sure once my critique partners have a go at it, the chapter will look like it’s bathed in blood but…I finished it!

So I’m sharing my inspiration with you. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

And please, check out the trailer for my upcoming release with Ellora’s Cave, Under His Wings!

300 battle scene that kicks butt!! Oh and did you see Leonidas’ thighs???
 
This made me want to charge down that hill myself, asthma and all! Of course I would’ve had to stop about halfway, but…
 
Movie—or two hour long music video—umm, sucked but loved the fight scenes…up until everyone started dying…Oops! Spoiler! My bad!
 
Aaaaannndd… Book Trailer for Under His Wings!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Authors After Dark, New Orleans and Abs Envy

AAD corset
Me in a rockin' corset!
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Authors After Dark conference in New Orleans. And between August 8th and 12 I laughed, talked, prayed—seriously, I did—met the coolest readers and authors I looove! In other words, I had a ball!!

After a welcome event where I had a “fan girl” moment with Shayla Black, I hung out with Katie Reus—hi, Katie!! *blowing kisses*—on Bourbon Street. There Cynthia Eden broke my alcohol second virginity with a lemon something-or-other…don’t know the exact name, but it was yummy! I stood on my first balcony, met an “undercover agent” who wasn’t too under cover and saw a guy with a midriff baring shirt, tighter abs than mine and a hip-swaying stride that made me say, “Must be jam cuz jelly don’t shake like that!” Good times!

AAD Suzanne Johnson
Me and Suzanne Johnson

Thursday and Friday I attended several readings, panels and workshops. I went to an amazing workshop on world building led by Kristen Painter. Two weeks later and I’m still talking about it! Just wow! If you haven’t read her House of Comarre series, it’s awesome! Among ice cream parties, karaoke where Jessica Lee and I did a rousing rendition of I Want Your Sex by George Michael, trying on corsets and a magical ball, I also had the opportunity to hear some of my favorite authors read from their books. Adrian Phoenix, Jeaniene Frost, Theresa Meyers, Suzanne Johnson…sitting across from these and other authors and listening to them read from books I have enjoyed was a wonderful experience I wouldn’t have passed up!

AAD Jade Lee
Me and Jade Lee

When you get a bunch of women—and some men!—who love romance books, authors and readers alike, you have a party where you’re not only accepted for your kookiness, but it’s celebrated! I discovered that the women I think of as goddesses of writing are funny, laid back and sarcastic—y’know, just real! I had a beautiful time and I can’t wait to do it again in 2013!

AAD Erin McCarthy
Me and Erin McCarthy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

LASR 5th Anniversary Celebration!!

LASR bannerHead over to the Long and Short Reviews 5th Anniversary Celebration!!

From August 18h to the 26th celebrate with LASR by entering cool contests and have the opportunity to win COOL prizes!

Prizes will include:
* One $100 Amazon / Barnes and Noble GC (Scavenger Hunt Grand Prize)

* Three $50 Amazon / Barnes and Noble GC (Blogfest Grand Prizes)

* Three $25 Amazon / Barnes and Noble GC (One for Scavenger Hunt, two for the Blogfest)

* Dozens of $5 Amazon / Barnes and Noble GC, Print books, eBooks, Author swag (Awarded randomly both weekends of the blogfest)

There are several ways to win! Check out the page here and get in there! What are you waiting for??

Good luck!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cover Reveal!

I just got back from the Authors After Dark conference in New Orleans. Can you say, pooped?? But pleasantly so. I had a wonderful time—which I will regale you with more details and pictures in my next post. Nice little tease, ain’t I? Hee-hee! Since I’m still recovering, I thought I’d reveal the covers for my two upcoming books from Ellora’s Cave Publishing! I just received them last week and I’m so excited! One is for my first paranormal ever, Under His Wings. And the second is for the first book in the Breathlessly Ever After series, Stroke of Midnight, based on the Cinderella fairy tale. I’ve included the blurbs below because…well, because I’m shamelessly pimping these two books!

Under His Wings CoverMundane and boring are seriously underrated, so sixth grade social studies teacher Tamar Ridgeway believes. After surviving a horrible plane crash and enduring years of painful therapy, she’s entitled to a couple of phobias and a normal, humdrum life. So what, she’s afraid of the dark and refuses to ever step foot into anything that flies… At long last, she’s happy—until the night she and a friend are attacked by a mythical creature out of her worst nightmares. Suddenly she’s on the hit list of a homicidal half eagle-half horse monster, and the sexy warrior with chocolate and gold wings who steps out of her dreams—literally—is vowing to save her, whether she wants his protection or not.

Nicolai Abioud, Dimios of the hippogryph, is stunned to realize that the human he saves from a vicious attack is the woman he has shared dreams with for the past six months—very erotic, hot dreams. Five hundred years ago, he failed to protect his wife and swears not to allow the same fate befall Tamar. He’s fascinated by her beauty, and mesmerized by the warrior spirit that burns bright inside her eyes. Yet he refuses to submit to the stirring in his body and heart. He’s had his one, true mate and lost her, and falling for a human—no matter how hot and demanding the desire—is foolish and doomed. Yet the choice to accept this unexpected love may be snatched out of their hands. Danger is closing in, and somehow they must find a way to conquer their fears or lose the love of a millennium.

Stroke of Midnight coverOnce upon a time, there was a young woman of beauty, grace, and good nature…

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Rowyn Jeong knows her no-nonsense, less-than-warm personality cannot compare to her stepsister Cindy's bubbly charm and beauty. Hey, everyone has their niche, right? But being the plainer, wicked stepsister has never bothered her more than when Darius Fiore reappears in her life. Darius Fiore, the man she indulged in a one-night stand with six months ago, the businessman threatening her position within her stepfather's company, and the man her sister has her eyes—and hands—on.

Rowyn has never forgotten the man who allowed her to be someone else for a few sex-filled hours. Now that Darius has turned up in her territory, will he see past the hard exterior to the woman beneath, the one hungry for love and acceptance?

So, ta-da!! Hooked up by Ellora’s Cave again!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Play Along

musical artSaturday I attended my RWA Southern Magic chapter meeting. We had the wonder Susannah Sandlin there for Author Q & A. If you haven’t read Redemption, the first book in her Penton Legacy than you’re missing a treat! It’s imaginative, has awesome world-building and sexy vampires! A trifecta!

One of the things she talked about was her writing process. She, like many of us, writes to music. She has a specific playlist she pulls up before she sits down at her desk. I wanted to be nosey and ask what that playlist included, but I figured it might have come across stalker-ish, so I refrained…

But it had me thinking. I, too, write with music blasting It’s a must! If I stop for the day, and I’m in the middle of a scene, when I return, I can play the songs I was listening to and recapture that mood. Not to mention, with music playing in your ears, before you know it, five hundred words have gone by! It doesn’t just block the world out but it sweeps you up and plops you straight into the book.

So I thought I’d reveal the playlist that I have for my current work-in-progress. It’s a hodge-podge of songs that have no rhyme or reason except that they work for me. Warning: If I hear any snickering, I can…well…I can do nothing… Also a disclaimer: This list shows my age!!

1 Who Let in the Rain – Cyndi Lauper
2. Save My Life – Johnny BLK
3. No Air – Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown
4. So Amazing – Luther Vandross
5. I’ll Remember – Madonna
6. Live to Tell – Madonna
7. Rain- Madonna
8. Broken Wings – Mr. Mister
9. Loves Divine – Seal
10. Songbird – Kenny G
11. Human – Human League
12. True – Spandau Ballet
13. Wasted – LP

There you have it! My “mood music”! What are some songs on your playlist? Or what music stimulates your muse?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Love Ballad

MelodyLast week my father and I were discussing a sermon he was preparing for that coming Sunday. For the past several weeks his preaching had been fiery, hard--like sweat-popping-on-the-top-of-his-head hard. And for the upcoming Sunday, he wanted to teach softer, gentler. He said the mark of a mature preacher isn’t the Southern Baptist “…and God said, hah, when the Word, hah, was made flesh, hah…”  It’s the quiet, tender voice of the teacher that declares who he is. It testifies to the years he’s seen. How much he’s studied. How many experiences he’s endured and come through.


Daddy compared it to a ballad. A true and talented musician—whether it’s a saxophone or guitar—is determined by his ballad. With a slow, fluid, soft melody, mistakes can’t be hidden behind volume or drowned out by other instruments. Lack of skill can’t be covered by tricks or fancy runs. The ballad stands on its own merit.

That started me thinking about romance books, and I had an epiphany. A writer’s ballad is the romance. Whether we write paranormal, suspense, historical or science-fiction, the core of the book is the relationship and connection between the two main characters. The world building of a parallel universe can be outstanding. Or the mystery can be absolutely thrilling. But if the romance doesn’t leap off the page, capture our hearts and squeeze, then it’s a fast, upbeat song with riffs, a voice box and driving beat that covers the singer’s adequate voice. The ballad of a romance book is taking that trip with the characters from brokenness to healing. It’s watching two people become one healthy, happy whole. It’s the journey of learning, changing, and loving. It’s why we pick up romance instead of non-fiction. We want to experience breathless, sometimes painful, but always true, love.

That’s so awesome to me. So now when asked about what I want readers to take away from my books, I know my answer. I want them to have heard my ballad.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

On this T-double E-double R-double I-double F-double I-double C-C-C Tuesday (for those of you who don't love Charlotte's Web...don't worry about it!), I'm going to do some shameless pimping! I don't indulge often but I've received back-to-back T-double-E...well, you get it...news!!

I sold my first paranormal novel to Ellora's Cave!! Yes, I hiked up my big girl panties and took the plunge into a genre I love but was soooo intimidated to write a book in! After much belly-aching, crying and episodes of dismal, masochistic self-doubt AKA whining, I wrote it, submitted and SOLD!! Okay, okay. Tucking errant strands of weave back into place... So anyway, the title is Under His Wings, and the unedited blurb is below:

Mundane and boring are seriously underrated, so sixth grade social studies teacher Tamar Ridgeway believes. After surviving a horrible plane crash and enduring years of painful therapy, she’s entitled to a couple of phobias and a normal, humdrum life.  So what, she’s afraid of the dark and refuses to ever step foot into anything that flies… At long last, she’s happy—until the night she and a friend are attacked by a mythical creature out of her worst nightmares. Suddenly she’s on the hit list of a homicidal half eagle-half horse monster, and the sexy warrior with chocolate and gold wings who steps out of her dreams—literally—is vowing to save her, whether she wants his protection or not.

 Nicolai Abioud, Dimios of the hippogryph, is stunned to realize that the human he saves from a vicious attack is the woman he has shared dreams with for the past six months—very erotic, hot dreams. Five hundred years ago, he failed to protect his wife and swears not to allow the same fate befall Tamar. He’s fascinated by her beauty, and mesmerized by the warrior spirit that burns bright inside her eyes. Yet he refuses to submit to the stirring in his body and heart. He’s had his one, true mate and lost her, and falling for a human—no matter how hot and demanding the desire—is foolish and doomed. Yet the choice to accept this unexpected love may be snatched out of their hands. Danger is closing in, and somehow they must find a way to conquer their fears or lose the love of a millennium.

Onto the second huge news! My first book, Sweet Ultimatum, is available in print!! Receiving that notification was a dream come true! I'm not going to lie...when I opened up that box and pulled out that copy, I smelled the pages! Honest to God! LOL! So, in case you forgot, the blurb for Sweet Ultimatum is below:

Caitlin has returned home after a self-imposed exile. Haunted by the erotic memories of the man she once loved and abandoned, Caitlin is unprepared to come face-to-face with Selig and the hunger resurrected under his golden gaze. Even as her body craves his touch, she denies him, realizing her reasons for terminating their relationship so long ago are as valid now as they were then.

Six years have passed since Selig left New Eden, Washington, disillusioned and bitter after Caitlin’s cold denial of him and his love. Now he’s returned, demanding retribution for her cruel rejection. The payment—her body.
And just in case you're feeling a little tingle called Impulse Buy Syndrome, here are the links for you!
and...

It's been an awesome month!!



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Unforgivable Sins

SinIn Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mad-Eye Moody taught Harry and his classmates about the Unforgivable Curses. There was the Cruciatus Curse for torture, the Imperius Curse for mind control and the Killing Curse for, uh, killing. The use of these curses without proper authorization by the Ministry of Magic was strictly forbidden and the wielder could end up sentenced to Azkaban for life. Holy Dementor, Batman! Yes, they meant business.

Like Harry’s world has those Unforgivable Curses that will wreck a life, there are certain Unforgivable Sins that a hero or heroine can do in a book that seriously wrecks the entire book for me. Wreck it like a swinging, iron ball just slammed right into it. Wreck it like a backhoe came and bulldozed it down. Wreck it like red velvet cake on a Weight Watchers diet.

Unforgivable #1: I read a book where a hero slept with another woman after he’d met and bonded with the heroine. The author made a good argument why, and logically, I understood…but that romantic, fidelity-above-all-else-I-feel-you-Lorena-Bobbitt heart of mine did not. And the hero lost his integrity and even his attractiveness in my eyes. I couldn’t get past the fact that he’d given himself to another woman. He’d dirtied not just his body but his hero’s soul. And I couldn’t finish the book. I felt betrayed by him, even if the heroine No cheatingapparently did not. Unforgivable.

Unforgivable #2: As I’ve mentioned before, one of my absolute favorite books is Son of the Morning by Linda Howard. One of the many reasons is the worthiness of the heroine. That sounds so chauvinistic, doesn’t it? But I can’t put it any other way. Niall was this hard, strong, sensual warrior forged in the fires of battle and betrayal. He was loyal and faithful to the core—tender yet merciless. Grace was a scholar, an archeologist academic. Yet there existed in her a tireless core of strength and justice that drove her to lengths that would have cracked most people. She didn’t have the physical power of Niall, but the heart and spirit—she was more than a match. What’s unforgivable for me is when a heroine or hero proves themselves unworthy or unredeemable. That doesn’t sound possible, right? If they weren’t redeemable, they would be the villain. But not true. I read a novel where the heroine spewed so much ignorant, bigoted rhetoric, that by half way through the book, I detested her. I understood that her views came out of a place of ignorance and hurt, but I didn’t care. Especially since the hero received a good portion of that stupidity. She was not worthy of the hero, who was sensitive, patient and kind. To me, she had a brain but didn’t use it. Had a heart but didn’t listen to it. She had a soul but didn’t recognize it in another. And by the time she did, I frankly didn’t care. Unforgivable.

Unforgivable #3: I speak of characters as if they’re real people instead of just made-up figments of imagination on a page—or eReader. Well to me, they are. And the qualities I find irritating in people, annoy the stank out of me in heroes and heroines. Weakness. It’s ironic, because a guaranteed sell for me is if a heroine is soft-spoken or kind of introverted…in the beginning of the book. I love reading about women who have suffered something that has shaken their self-confidence. Traveling that journey with them as they discover their voice again is a joy of mine. *Let me add here, that even though these women may be cowed, they’re not broken and are spiritual giants for coming through their battles!* But a heroine who just takes crap shoveled out to her by the heroine or a scorned lover, or the hero’s scorned lover is unforgivable to me. Grow a backbone! Grab some cajones quick! Weakness is not romantic. It’s not admirable. A person can be soft-spoken and still have a spine of steel. She can be quiet and possess a wealth of self-respect. If not…unforgivable!

Do you have any unpardonable sins that just makes you want to deck a hero or heroine? Share ‘em! Let’s dish!