New Release & Excerpt: Flame & Stone

Today I’m excited to (finally) announce the release of my first paranormal romantic suspense, Flame & Stone, Book 1 in the new Dunning Manor series.

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Flame & Stone
Dunning Manor, Book 1

It takes a lot of heat to melt a heart of stone…

Flames once put the heartbroken Thomas Grady under the ancient curse of an old manor house. Two hundred years later, fire fueled by an unholy passion drives Katie Watson to the same manor for protection. Assigned as her guardian under duress, Thomas just wants to do his job and go back to his perch at the top of the manor.

Katie falls hard for her new protector, even as they’re planning an intervention for her nemesis. Now that she’s found him, she refuses to give him up – even if that means she has to travel through both time and space to make it happen…

Flame & Stone is available now in ebook format for $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance, and Smashwords, and will be available at other online retailers within the week. The print copy will be out within the next month!


Excerpt:

For a long moment, the hall was deathly quiet. Katie glanced at her friends, still apparently stuck in some trance, and then back to the monks, those glassy black eyes staring right through her, or so it seemed. They didn’t move a muscle, and she frowned, wondering if they were even still alive.

Finally, they stood in unison, the action forcing her to take a step back. They began to walk in a circle around her, kicking up a slight breeze that gradually grew in substance, though apparently only within the circle they’d created.

“Katherine Watson. Your enemy has been vanquished, and the warrior returned to the manor, but for bringing your enemy here rather than taking your warrior’s council, you will not be allowed to break the curse. As per the requirements for aide from the manor, you are hereby banished, and are never to return again.”

“Wait! No!” The wind swirled around her like a miniature cyclone now, and she tried to push through it, tried to get to Thomas, but it flung her back every time.

“You can’t do this! You can’t keep us apart! It’s not fair!”

The wind turned to a cloud, the cloud dark and angry around her, and tears slid down her cheeks as she felt herself lifted off the ground.

“No!” she screamed into her swirling cocoon. “I’ll find you, Thomas – I swear! I won’t give up!”

The cloud disappeared in a puff and she dropped to the ground, hitting hard and collapsing from the impact. Stunned, she rolled to her back and saw stars – real stars in the vast, navy blue night sky above. Crickets and frogs chirped in tandem as her fingers curled around dirt and grass. She sat up, looking this way and that, but though she was sure this was the right clearing, there was no sign of the manor anywhere.

“No,” she murmured, swiping at the tears on her face. “They can’t do this. I won’t let them.” She didn’t want to leave, but there wasn’t anything else she could do here, and she was pretty sure those damn druids wouldn’t be coming back.

After one last long look, she ran back to the car and slid behind the wheel. Locking the doors, she just sat there, stunned and shaking. She went over everything that happened, image after unbelievable image flashing through her mind. The manor was gone. Thomas was gone. Peter was dead, and Sarah was…a gargoyle now? It all felt like a dream, something her mind had made up while she was sleeping, and just like that, it was gone. Had it all just been a strange fantasy? Was she going crazy?

No. Even if everything else was fake, Thomas was real. She knew it as surely as she knew her own name, and when she closed her eyes, she could feel him next to her, holding her, hear his deep, gentle voice in her ear.

She had to find him. She would not give him up.

She started the car and peeled off the gravel shoulder and onto the pavement, only slowing when a local cop flashed his lights at her on his way to somewhere else.

She needed help. Someone who had seen the manor, who knew the legend, and someone who knew about druid magic, whatever that was. She had no idea where to find such a person, but the internet seemed like a good place to start, and there was no time to waste.

Frantic to find him by the time she reached her house, she ran inside and grabbed a pen, a notepad, and a couple sodas from the refrigerator before heading to her computer desk. Her fingers flew across the keyboard as she entered the first search terms and started scrolling through results.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the final version! Up next in the Dunning Manor series – Sarah’s story, coming later this year…

 

 

Talkin’ Books: January 28, 2015

Books Finished:
Best Man For Hire by Tawna Fenske
Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace

Kindle Books In Progress:
The Indie Author Power Pack 

Print Books in Progress:
White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Comic Books:
None

Another quick update as I’m knee-deep in revisions and formatting to get the latest book out by Friday and still get some new words written for drafts in progress as well…

Look at that – I finished two books this week! Good stuff, I tell you what.

Invasive Species is one of those books where you just keep thinking that the situation *has* to get better, and it just keeps getting worse instead. It’s both fascinating and horrifying, but ends on a hopeful note as well, though a different one than you might think. If you like suspense, it’s definitely worth the time & money, in my opinion.

Best Man For Hire was good, but as I mentioned last week, I just really haven’t been in much of a romance-reading mood lately. I go through cycles, and apparently I need something else for awhile. This book definitely has it’s moments, and it’s hilarious in spots (all Tawna’s books are), so I’d certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a rollicking good time.

I also made some progress with Write, Publish, Repeat from the Indie Author Power Pack. I found a few more nuggets of wisdom regarding blurbs that I think might help quite a bit, and a couple interesting tidbits on titles as well. I’m skimming a lot of the pricing/distribution parts, because I’m content with the way I handle those already, so we’ll see what comes up next…

And I also started White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child in paperback this week. I haven’t gotten too far into it, but I already know it’s going to be good…partly because they always are, and partly because my husband loved it. Good enough for me!

That’s it for this week…hopefully next week I can get back into my comic book stack. Harley’s getting lonely!


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On Love, Learning, & Motley Crue…

Quick admin note: Variety News for January goes out this morning, and should be delivered depending on your time zone (which was a gadgety feature I couldn’t ignore). As a reminder, if you want serial fiction from me this year, that’s the only way to get it, but you can catch up anytime you sign up with a handy-dandy PDF file. So…if you’re not on the list, sign up here. This is *not* the same list as the blog subscription. 

Saturday late-nights are manicure nights for me. After the hubby’s in bed and the dogs have been out and in just one more time, my writing booth becomes a manicure table, and while I’m doing my nails, I either watch old TV series (streaming or DVD), or I catch up on the most recent episodes of my favorite CW shows online (ArrowThe Flash & The 100). The CW shows were back this past week, which made me crazy happy, but I got both seasons of Dark Angel for Christmas, so while those shows were on hiatus, I was happy as a clam re-watching Max and Logan (Michael Weatherly…good grief, that man is yummy in any role, and his voice, those eyes…*swoon*).

ANYways…without giving up spoilers, this past week’s episode of The 100 explored the theme that “love is weakness”. And if you’ve seen Dark Angel, you know that’s a central theme of that entire show as well…though it’s wider than love there…more like “connection/community” is weakness. I was thinking about that last night, about love specifically and whether it really was a weakness or not. An argument could be made for both sides, I think…love makes us dumb more often than not, and we’re willing to take all sorts of risks we normally wouldn’t when it’s either to support or protect someone we love. It’s also the ultimate distraction – when you love someone, they’re always on your mind in some capacity, and they tend to come to mind at the most inopportune times.

At the same time, just being around someone we love can make us calmer, and give us pleasant feelings even if we’re in a bad mood (brain chemistry is an amazing thing, isn’t it?). Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps us going in extreme circumstances…whether we’re protecting the ones we love, trying to get back to them or just trying to recover from a personal tragedy of some sort. Often it’s the reason we fight instead of stand down.

In The 100 and Dark Angel, the heroines struggling with whether love is a weakness or not make different choices (or they have so far). And I predict that the final consequences will actually be quite similar for them both, but with something like this, it’s not really about how it ends. It’s about how life is lived in the moment that matters. Or moment to moment, rather. Personally, I think choosing love over solitude requires/develops the stronger fortitude, even if it does turn out to be the ultimate weakness in the end.

In other news, I got the edits and editorial comments back for Flame & Stone (formerly Under His Wing) this weekend, and I have to say, my editor’s comments just really turned on that proverbial lightbulb over my head this time. Total “duh” moment, but she saw what I couldn’t (that is what she’s there for), and apparently I asked exactly the right questions to cue her to give me exactly what I needed. I love it when that happens! It was really enlightening as far as my writing as a whole goes, and while I’m not excited to actually do the edits (because that’s work), I am really excited as to how it’s going to affect my work going forward (I hope).

Pair that with a few tough realizations I had while re-visiting my writing & business week for The Writer’s Desk, and man…it’s been a pretty mentally challenging week, but in a good way. I’ll never learn all I need to know about…anything, but sometimes just figuring out what to focus on learning first is the hardest part. It’s kind of a relief to have something concrete to focus on for awhile.

What does Motley Crue have to do with all of this? Absolutely nothing…except I’m pretty disappointed that I underestimated the demand for tickets to their final concert tour with Alice Cooper (also a favorite) this coming July. There are no good seats left, so hubby and I are out of luck, dang it. Not that we don’t have plenty of other ways to blow a couple hundred bucks, but still. It’s gonna be a great concert… *sigh*

In any case, we all need a little kickstart on a Monday, right? Motley Crue to the rescue!


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Excerpt Day & Audio Release: Jasmine Betrayal

JB_Audio_300Today I’m pleased to announce that Jasmine Betrayal, the third story in the BeauTEAful Summer series is now available in audiobook format! You can pick up your copy either on Amazon, Audible or iTunes, and it’s narrated by David C. Fisher, who narrated Deadly Chai as well. Today’s excerpt is from Jasmine Betrayal, of course…enjoy!

Also, don’t forget to sign up for Variety News – the new serial story starts Monday, exclusively for newsletter subscribers!


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Excerpt: Jasmine Betrayal

Resigned for the moment, Genevieve followed Max back out and past most of the doors at ground level until they reached the last, closest to where he’d parked the truck. They went inside and he locked the double-keyed deadbolt, pocketing the room key. Genevieve looked around.

There are probably bed bugs in that mattress,” she remarked, headed toward a door she assumed led to a bathroom. Poking her head in, she moved back just as quickly, wrinkling her nose. “I’m pretty sure the maid quit a long time ago too. Are you sure we can’t just get our money back and go somewhere the inanimate objects won’t try to kill us?”

Max sat down on the edge of the bed and swung his legs up, laying his head on a pillow and closing his eyes. “You really want to get our hostess out of bed again? Be my guest. And we won’t be here long. I’m pretty sure you’ll survive, which is the whole point. Come lay down and get some rest.” He patted the space beside him, and it finally dawned on her.

There’s only one bed.”

He cracked one eye open, regarding her with a look that said he thought she might have a screw loose.

You’re smart. This room was closest to the truck, and cheap. Get over it.” He closed his eyes again, letting a breath out long and slow as he relaxed into the comforter.

Just the sight of it made her itch.

The only other furniture in the room was a small square television stand with an equally square TV, and a pair of square wooden chairs with tan leather-look backs and seats that looked only slightly more comfortable than those in the office had. She glanced at the bed, and then at the chairs again, finally pulling one chair to face the other, and stretching out as well as she could between them.

You’re gonna have a kinked neck,” Max warned. “Not to mention serious back pain.”

She shot him a dirty look, but he hadn’t even opened his eyes. Bastard.

We’re not going to be here that long – your words.” She crossed her arms over her chest and scooted around to find a semi-comfortable spot as his breathing slowed, evening out.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d dozed, but at some point she twitched, jerking her head up and barely suppressing a cry of pain when the predicted kink in her neck materialized. Rubbing it with one hand, she looked over at Max, who had shifted onto his side.

The keys to the room and the truck – her truck – were lying on the bed beside him, apparently having worked their way out of his pocket.

She chewed her lower lip. Contrary to what both Max and the goons chasing her probably thought, she hadn’t been staying in her father’s old trailer. She couldn’t, not while she was sorting through his things, trying to make sense of his life. Instead, she’d subletted an apartment in Little Rock, and that’s where she’d been working on all the accounting and legal paperwork.

The deed was there too. It would be hard for anyone to track her down there, since the lease wasn’t actually in her name. If she could just get there, she could lay low, talk to a lawyer and figure out some way to get Jenkins off her back.

It would depend a lot on how sound Max was sleeping, and whether the stabbing pain in the center of her lower back was going to be a big issue or not.

Deciding a test was in order, she carefully pushed the chair her feet were resting on away a few inches, making a slight scraping sound on the low, industrial carpet. Standing up, she winced at the pain as her body protested. Hands on her hips, she leaned back, then forward, trying to stretch out the knot, but even though it loosened slightly, she knew it was going to be a long drive back to town.

If she could figure out which way that was.

Max still appeared to be sleeping and she studied his face for a moment. The hard, square jaw, thick black eyebrows and small, slightly crooked nose reminded her of a quintessential mobster. A pinstripe suit and fedora, and he could easily step back into the New York twenties without even attracting attention. His lips were full and oh-so-kissable, and for the second or third time since they’d met, she wondered what they would feel like against hers.

Doing her best to move naturally, she leaned over and grabbed the keys, one at a time so they didn’t jingle together. Two steps got her from the bed to the door, and she spent way too much time trying to quietly fit the key into the sticky deadbolt, and yet more precious seconds trying to coax the key to turn. Whoever had installed these locks sure wasn’t worried about safety, but since she wouldn’t be back, she saw no point in complaining.

Finally getting the door open, she left the room key hanging in the lock and carefully pulled it shut. Then she jogged around the corner to the truck, got behind the wheel and moved the seat forward.

Fired up the engine. Shifted into drive. Put her foot on the gas.

The passenger door opened and Max hopped in, his door closing forcefully as she pulled away from the building.

So,” he said, as if she hadn’t just tried to ditch him cold. “Where are we going?”


Want to read the rest? Get your copy of Jasmine Betrayal in digital and audio formats from these fine retailers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | All Romance eBooks
| Smashwords | Audible | iTunes


 

Talkin’ Books: Jan. 21, 2015

Books Finished:
None

Kindle Books In Progress:
The Indie Author Power Pack
Best Man For Hire by Tawna Fenske

Print Books in Progress:
Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace

Comic Books:
None

It’s been a good week for print, but not much else, unfortunately. I’m about a quarter of an inch away from the end of Invasive Species, thanks to my new earlier bedtime (with half an hour built-in reading time). And now anytime I hear or read the word “thieves”, I think giant wasps, so thanks for that, Wallace…

As for the romance novel (Best Man for Hire)…it’s coming along, but lunchtime reading is always slow, and honestly? I’m not really as “into” this book as I’d like to be, sadly. I think it’s more my mood though than the book, as is so often the case. Just not so much in the mood for romance lately (I know – weird, right?).

No progress at all on Write, Publish, Repeat from the Indie Author pack. TV was good last week while I was walking, and this week, I’m off the treadmill until the new tattoo heals a bit more. I’ll get back to that Thursday, I think.

My plans to get caught up on my comic books this weekend somehow never materialized…mostly because I was too busy to think about it. Sad, but true…I may actually have too much reading material in this house (is that even possible?).

So, not much to report this week, but I’ll be finished with Invasive Species by the time you read this post, and back to my non-fiction slog by Thursday. Maybe I’ll put the comic books on my to-do list this weekend. A fun change/break from the tedium of weekly chores. ;-)


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On Age, Tattoos, & Pens…

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day (which is why I’m not at the day job, but rather at home on this fine Monday)!

In any case, if you’re connected with me elsewhere online, you probably already know that my 40th birthday was this past Saturday. Yay leftover cake for breakfast! I have no idea how 40 is supposed to feel, honestly, but I can’t say I feel any different than I felt turning 39. And I dare say I’ll feel the same about 41. Age just really isn’t a big thing with me, though I’ll probably be a bit nervous about 50, but only because the week before I turn 50 is when my genetic “switch” for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is most likely to trigger. Both my paternal grandmother and my dad had that very thing happen, one week before they turned 50 with a big lump appearing on their neck. So if I seem slightly obsessive about self-care (avoiding chemicals, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, etc) off and on for the next decade or so, that’s partially why.

One of my gifts to myself this year was this lovely tattoo, based on my Brazen Snake Books logo, drawn and executed by local artist Andrew Hauck of Ghosts of Grace Tattoo Collective:

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That would be the outside of my right lower leg you’re seeing there, just this morning. A little swollen underneath at the ankle, but it’s healing well! Pepe le pew is just on the other side of my ankle down near the quill. Love my Pepe..

It had been 15 years or so since I’d gotten my last tattoo, largely because my husband is not overly fond of them. So I quit when we started seriously seeing each other (no, he didn’t ask me to – sometimes you just do things to make the other person happy in a relationship, because you love them). But the thing about tattoos is, once they get in your blood (so to speak) it’s almost a compulsion to get another one. And another, and another…like chips. Ask anyone with a tattoo, and they’ll tell you. I’ll bet around 98 percent of people with one tattoo either want another one, or have at least thought about it.

A few years ago, my hubby started encouraging me to get another one if I wanted to. I waited, partially to be sure he was really okay with it, and partially due to changing goals (and thus changing plans for placement). I finally decided my birthday was just as good a reason to celebrate with new ink as any, and that’s that. I have a couple of old (around 22 yrs or so old) tattoos on my shoulder that Andrew is going to do a cover for later this spring. I’m very much looking forward to that – much as those tats had/have meaning to me, the new one will better reflect my philosophies now. Even better, I won’t have to translate it constantly, so I’ll be able to wear tank tops again. Trust me…if you’re going to get words of some sort tattooed on your body, get them in English (or whatever your country’s main language is), so people can read it for themselves. Translating gets really old, really fast.

I know some of you are thinking this whole tattoo thing doesn’t fit with the whole “obsessed with self-care” thing…and you’d be right. But we all have vices that we cling to even though we know they could be bad for us…and tattoos are mine. I’ll let you be the judge of whether it’s better or worse than drinking/smoking/whatever else you can think of. Just…keep it to yourself, ’cause I really don’t care. ;-)

In other ink-related news, did you read my buddy Carol’s blog last week: On Pens..? You know that friend she talked about who threw away a passel of pens without even checking to see if they worked?

Yeah. That was me. Last summer when I was dredging out our basement while my hubby was out of town, I tossed several plastic grocery-bags full of pens that he’d been “collecting” since before we’d even started dating (probably). You have to understand – it’s not like they had any special meaning, and I did pull out any that had interesting shapes or illustrations or functions. But he grabs pens like candy, at banks, stores, off people’s desks, trade shows…and there were way more pens than we’d ever use before the ink dried up. It’s crazy to give that much space to something that’s just…well, taking up space!

Part of being organized is picking and choosing what you’ll devote space to – and I say unless they have special meaning or are actually in use, there’s no need to keep more than…say, a small check-box full of pens at a time. Anything else is just wasted space, IMO – especially these days, when most everything we do is digital!

Now, time to go send a nag email, and then move on with today’s rather extensive to-do list. That’s what happens when you end up with a long weekend – “stuff” expands to fill the extra space!


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Excerpt Day: MacKenzie Saves the World

This week’s excerpt is from one of the most emotionally draining books I’ve ever written (yet). I love these two – even though I tortured them quite mercilessly…


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Excerpt: MacKenzie Saves the World

Step away from the car, please,” she said in a loud, confident tone that carried across the lot. “I have pepper spray, and I’ll use it if I have to.”

A deep, familiar chuckle wafted toward her on the breeze as the figure straightened, holding both hands up in submission as he took a few steps away from the car and into the pool of light from a nearby streetlamp.

Easy there, tiger,” Josh said, his amused expression becoming clear as she drew closer. Letting her arms drop, she shook her head, stowing the pepper spray again.

Why are you here?” she asked, not entirely sure she wanted to know the answer. He dropped his hands and came closer.

Too close.

She started to step back, but he reached out, gently grasping her upper arms to hold her in place.

I tried to stay away,” he said, his tone serious. “And if you’re smart, you’ll tell me to leave you alone, though I’ll be perfectly honest – I’m not sure I can. There’s just something about you…” he raised one hand to caress the side of her face, his fingers trailing lightly down over the side of her neck.

She looked down at his chest, trying not to tremble at his touch. This was it. She had to choose whether to let him in and probably get hurt, or keep him out and do her best to forget that she had feelings for him.

Walking away was the smart thing to do. And she was nothing if not smart.

He coaxed her to look up with his hand, and she saw the same angst that must be in her eyes reflected in his.

This is a really bad idea,” she murmured. He gave her a slight nod.

I think we’ve established that pretty well at this point.” He waited another heartbeat, and then took a step back. “So we’re going to be smart then, right?” His hand slipped away from her skin, leaving her bereft of his warmth.

She could do this. She could get in her car, buy herself dinner and go home. Maybe she’d cry herself to sleep, but maybe not. They hadn’t even kissed, for crying out loud.

He nodded again at her silence and turned to walk away.

No,” she whispered, willing him to stop. But he didn’t, and an overwhelming sense of panic shot through her, made her take a step forward, and then another until she was running after him.

He turned at the sound of her footsteps and opened his arms, gathering her close as she reached him.

When his lips touched hers, it was quite possibly the most right thing she’d felt in a long, long time.


Want to read more? MacKenzie Saves the World is available now at all major online retailers, in ebook format:

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Talkin’ Books: January 14, 2015

Books Finished:
None

Kindle Books In Progress:
The Indie Author Power Pack
Best Man For Hire by Tawna Fenske

Print Books in Progress:
Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace

Comic Books:
None

I had last week’s post mostly written, and then never got time to post it (or rather, forgot when I did finally get time). Getting back in the swing of things is taking me a little while, but I’ll get it figured out.

Yes, I’m still working on Invasive Species, but I dare say it’ll go faster if my plan to get to bed earlier works well. I’m trying to get to sleep around midnight when possible, which means getting to bed around 11:30pm so I have time to read for half an hour or so before sleeping. Last week didn’t work so well for that, but this week’s been going better. Thank goodness for that, because the print TBR pile by my bed is getting a bit deep. I still have a Pendergast novel hanging out there (Preston & Child), and now I have a new Rollins book too (Tucker & Kane). I really need to kick up the pace! So much yummy fiction…

As for the Kindle, I’ve got the latest Tawna Fenske novel, Best Man For Hire going for lunch hours, and as usual, it’s hilarious and sexy. Good stuff…I skipped the last “for hire” book because it was centered on babies/childcare (I’m sure she still managed to make that hilarious, but just not my boat), but I’d recommend any of her books to anyone looking for a seriously good fictional time. She’ll make you laugh, no doubt about it! She’ll also make you late getting back for lunch if you don’t keep a careful eye on the clock…

The Indie Author Power Pack is a collection of three self-publishing/marketing guides that I’m forcing myself to work through because I really need to pay more attention to the promotional part of publishing. It’s not available as a collection any longer, but the individual books are available and listed on the Amazon page linked above. I’m currently reading the first book, “Write, Publish, Repeat”, and I think you can really just skip everything in the first couple chapters before you finally get to the “meat” of the book (stuff that actually might be useful). The main narrator is pretty long-winded, but he’s amusing at times. He works with two other authors that are mentioned frequently, and I’m fairly certain that were I in a room with all three, Dave (I can’t remember his last name just now) would be my favorite. He seems like the practical one.

Some of it’s pretty common sense stuff, other parts I’ve heard before, but the narrator’s long-winded nature occasionally comes in handy for adding clarity. I’ll be working on this one for awhile – it’s my workout book, so it gets 20 minutes of my time in the evenings…when there’s nothing good on TV, anyway.

So…not much, but plenty, for sure. I have a stack of comic books to catch up on, and since I have a long weekend coming up, I hope to do that then. There have also been some nice freebies out there lately that I snapped up, so no shortage of reading material around here…which is just as it should be.


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On New Cover Art, Stress, & Priorities…

First up this fine Monday – the last serial novel (now in editing) formerly known as Under His Wing now has a new title, and new cover art! I think it’s pretty spiffy, but I’m biased…
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Flame & Stone will be out later this month. Good stuff!

I saw a meme on FB last week (yes, I know, we all saw at least several) that was talking about how a heart attack feels for women (which is often much different than what a man feels). Towards the end, it was noted that one of the leading causes of heart attacks in women is actually stress, rather than something like high cholesterol (so one shouldn’t assume they aren’t having a heart attack just because they have low cholesterol).

For me, stress is a control thing. I get stressed when I feel like I can’t control some part(s) of my life. I get even more stressed when I want something or want to do something that will require me to give up something else that’s important to me – which is an issue of selfishness colluding with my control-freak nature. It’s one of my worst personality traits, I think, but it’s fostered by that innocent little statement that “we can have it all” if we just work hard enough.

Honestly – no, we can’t. Life is a series of decisions that require give and take, and a day only has so much time in it (same amount for everyone, obviously). The decisions we make determine how our life progresses, but unless you have very small goals/very few interests, it really isn’t possible to have “it all”. Facing that particular realization has been…a bit difficult for me. One might even say stressful.

One thing I always forget is just how much a good 20 minute exercise session can help. It’s good for my body, of course, but more than that, I find it extremely mentally clarifying. It doesn’t take much time, but it does require the decision to make it a priority, which pushes something else out of the way. It’s very important though, and without it, I have little chance of making good choices in other areas of my life.. Funny how that works.

I’ve been doing a lot of re-prioritization lately…deciding what’s truly important and what can either be dialed back, or let go of altogether. It’s not an easy process, but it’s necessary, and once it’s done, I’ll be happier for it. Obviously working out has to be a priority, as does writing, and from there, things get a little gray for me. But I’ll figure it out. It seems like I go through one of these cycles every few years, and it’s just something that has to be re-evaluated as we grow and change.

Change stresses me out…and not changing can too. Weird how that works. I’m just glad that my personal cycle of change seems to be dialing back down to “low” again. Stress is a waste of time…and apparently, bad for my arteries too.

If you’re interested in some of the changes I’m making on the writing/publishing front, check out The Writer’s Desk (formerly The Drafting Desk) for this week’s writing/publishing report.


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Excerpt Day: Sleep With Me

Today’s excerpt takes place at a tropical resort, where the weather is exactly the opposite of our weather here in Montana today (18 inches of snow on the ground and cold, thank you very much). Enjoy!


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Sleep With Me (excerpt)

“Wine me, dine me, shag me…then leave. That’s the deal.”

Katherine knew she should smile or maybe flip her hair and bat her eyes, but the man she’d approached at the bar looked experienced enough to know what she was asking for. Voices murmured around them as she waited for the answer.

“Shag you?” he repeated, the corners of his lips curving up. “Does anyone actually say that anymore?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s better than the alternative. Are you in or not? Because I have a prescription to fill and I need to find a guy to fill it by tomorrow.”

The man chuckled. “You have a prescription for sex? And any guy will do? Then why me?”

“Well…I find you physically attractive,” Katherine said with a shrug. “And you also look like the kind of guy who doesn’t mind a one-night stand, which is basically what we’re discussing. I don’t want an attachment, I don’t need to find true love, and I don’t need a guy who wants my number. I just want drinks, dinner and sex. Then we go our separate ways. But apparently I misjudged you, so I apologize for interrupting your evening.”

She turned away, scanning the room for any other potentially suitable candidates. Who would have thought this assignment would be so difficult? Candace was so going to pay when she got home. Take a vacation, she’d said. Get laid. Nothing like a good orgasm to take care of that whole not-sleeping issue.

Right. Katherine wondered when her friend-slash-therapist had tried to get laid last. After being mistaken for a call girl twice and now turned down for…well, she wasn’t exactly sure why she’d been rejected this last time…she was about ready to go back to her little bungalow on the beach and stay there for the rest of the week.

A jolt of awareness shot up her arm as warm fingers closed around her left wrist. Instinctively she pulled away, but her captor wouldn’t let go. She looked down into her most recent target’s amused emerald eyes.

“Hang on a sec,” he said, finally releasing her wrist. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it, I just wanted to know why me. When were you thinking this little date would occur? And why drinking and dinner first, if all you want is sex?”

Katherine was all too aware that it had gotten quiet in the bar. Apparently their little conversation was garnering a lot of attention – something she really didn’t want.

“You know what?” She moved a step back from the bar, keeping her wrists out of reach. “Forget it. It was a stupid idea. I’ll…um…see you around. Or not. A girl can hope.” She walked as quickly as she could while maintaining a cool facade to the front door and pushed out into the humid island evening. Slipping her shoes off, she hooked the straps with a finger and set off towards the beach.

She’d barely begun to feel the sand between her toes when her mystery man ran up beside her.

“Giving up so easily?” he asked, keeping pace as she kept walking. “Or just looking for a new pool to choose from?”

She rolled her eyes, doing her best to ignore the distinctly male scent that was far too enticing. “Why do you care? You made it pretty clear you were more amused than interested, so just forget I said anything. I withdraw the proposal. Leave me alone.”

He chuckled, the warm sound sending an unwelcome tingle up her spine. “But then I wouldn’t get to see the guy who finally agrees to…ah…fill your prescription. Who’s your doctor, anyways? I think I could use a prescription like that.”

Katherine stopped, letting out a long sigh as she watched the huge sun slip far too quickly below the horizon. She turned to the man beside her and frowned.

“What is your name?” she asked, irritated that she didn’t already know.

He grinned, holding out his hand. “David Patton. And you are?”

“Katherine Gibson. Nice to meet you,” she said automatically, reaching out to grasp his palm. She barely suppressing a gasp of awareness when her skin contacted his, and yanked her hand back before she could stop herself. The lights from the waterfront bars cast a dark orange glow over everything, but she could still see his amusement in the dim light.

“Listen David. You’ve had your fun, I’ve embarrassed myself and I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. So I’m going back to my hut now. Alone. You have a good evening.”

She brushed by him and continued on her way, hoping her burning cheeks had been mostly shadowed. Half-expecting him to show up at her side again, she was inexplicably annoyed when he didn’t.

“Hey Kat!”

She cringed at the nickname she’d hated since grade school and kept walking.

“Meet me here tomorrow night at six,” David called out. It was a statement, not a question, but that didn’t surprise her from a guy like that. She considered it for a second before she yelled over her shoulder to him.

“Sorry, I’m busy. Thanks anyways though.” With a small, hopefully dismissive wave she continued on down the beach to the hut she’d rented.

Once inside, she flopped down on the bed and wished she hadn’t paid up front. The whole vacation had been Candace’s idea, and her friend had pushed for the non-refundable advance payment option. Probably because she knew Katherine would be ready to leave after the first night.

Rolling over, she picked up the phone and dialed room service, ordering dinner for delivery. Maybe tomorrow she could find a tour to take or something interesting.

Something that didn’t involve men.


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