Excerpts

Excerpt: Halcyon

Coffee DeskAn excerpt from Halcyon. This is my first book, to be published in 2016. This excerpt is subject to minor changes before publication. As always, this is make-believe – any resemblance to actual people/places/etc. is unintentional and coincidental. It’s fiction, folks!

 

 

     Amanda was having the weirdest medieval dream. She was in a massive, heavily-carved mahogany bed, covered with a satin comforter. Heavy tapestries draped the canopy of the bed and hung behind the huge headboard. The room was large and round. The only light came from a fire in the marble fireplace. The flames flared and danced merrily when she looked that way, then settled back to a gentle glow. Tall windows were set deep into the walls, framed with heavy damask curtains.
     A wing-backed chair was pulled up close to the bed, and a man was sleeping there with his feet propped up on the mattress next to her. But this was no knight of the round table. He was dressed in blue jeans and a plaid shirt. Black hair curled down over his forehead.
     Blake Randall.
     This was no dream.
     Peeking under the sheets, she saw she was wearing a large t-shirt she didn’t recognize, and nothing else. She sat up, and the quick movement was enough to wake him. His eyes opened, but he didn’t move. He just watched her cautiously as if he thought she might bolt. And she was seriously considering it.
     “Where am I?”
     He sat up and slowly dropped his feet to the floor. Leaning forward, he rested his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands in front of him. His voice was soft and deep.
     “You’re in my suite at Halcyon.”
     “What time is it?”
     “A little after eleven.”
     “What happened?”
     Before he could respond, she remembered. Greg and Katt. The storm. Her panic attack. She groaned at the memory.
     Blake muttered something under his breath, but he didn’t move. She frowned at him.
     “Did you undress me?”
     “No. Your cousins and my manager Julie took care of that. I just donated the shirt.”
     “The girls know I’m here?”
     He nodded. “Of course. I didn’t kidnap you, Amanda. I just wanted to keep you as far away from Greg as possible. Nora’s asleep in the suite next door. Your other cousins went back to the resort a while ago. All of your things are here.”
     “And Greg?”
     She was shocked at the rage she saw flash across Blake’s face. He took a deep breath before he answered in a low growl. “He’s gone. That’s all you need to know.”
     She felt a little light-headed as she propped herself against the headboard. She had the strangest thought, and spoke it out loud. “Did you kill him?”
     Blake’s eyebrows raised, and his mouth quirked into a smile. “I’m impressed you think me capable, Miss Lowery. But no.”

The Writing Process

One Way or the Other…

PillowLast week, I talked about the “joys” of trying to break into traditional publishing. It’s pure luck to have your submission looked at for more than a few seconds by over-worked editors and agents. And then you have to hope it’s what they’re looking for and they actually like it. It’s been a long, painful slog of rejections for me. Even the personally-written encouraging ones (as opposed to form letters) hurt.

But traditional publishing is no longer the only route to writing success. You’re reading this post on a computer, or perhaps a tablet, or even a phone. And I’m willing to bet many of you read at least some of your books on an electronic device like a Kindle, Nook, or iPad. And that technology has brought some earth-shattering changes to the publishing world. Some publishers haven’t survived it. But eBooks are here to stay. I do 95% of my reading on my Kindle, which has hundreds of books on it.

The alternative to traditional publishing is self-publishing. I know, I know – “self-publishing” used to mean “vanity press” – people would pay a not-so-small fortune to have boxes and boxes of books printed that they would either hand out to friends and family (“look, I wrote a book!”) or attempt to sell to bookstores, at flea markets, etc. For fiction writers, it was almost always a losing proposition unless all you wanted to see was your name on a printed book. Finding a paying audience was tough, although a handful of people made it (it’s easier for non-fiction writers). But I can’t afford to quit my day job and drive around the country selling romance novels out of the trunk of my car.

Technology has changed all of that. It costs virtually nothing to publish an eBook, if you want to do the formatting yourself. I’d rather have four root canals that fight with formatting, so I’ll pay a nominal fee and let someone else handle that hassle and then the book just gets uploaded to Kindle, Barnes & Noble, etc. Easy-peasy, right? Why haven’t I done that already? Why shouldn’t I control my own destiny?

Well…because it’s scary as hell. Publishers provide a corporate team for writers, as well as help with publicity. I have worked most of my life as a corporate gal, and I’m used to that environment. Going it alone is frightening. I’ll be responsible for trying to find an audience for my writing – an audience that will hopefully write nice reviews and recommend the books and build sales until the book starts getting noticed and moves up the rankings at Amazon et al. It’s like jumping off a cliff and praying for wings on the way down.

And there are some god-awful self-published books out there – mis-spellings, no paragraphs, and truly terrible writing. Because there is no “gate-keeper“, anything can (and sometimes is) thrown out there on Amazon. And smart readers might shy away from indie books after being burned a time or two, so a good writer has to win them over.

But on the plus side of becoming an “Indie” writer – – – you make more pure profit on each book sold; there are multiple outlets for Print-On-Demand books for fans (and writers!) who like holding paper books in their hands; and there are many, many, many NYT and USA Today best-sellers these days that are self-published. It’s no longer a niche. It’s an accepted path, and even large publishing houses now offer e-publishing only collections.

So when I say things here like “to be published in 2016”, I mean it. One way or the other – traditional or indie, I will be published in 2016. If I can’t crack into the traditional market, then I will push myself out of my comfort zone and head into the brave new world of self-publishing.

And I’ll be expecting you all to buy a copy! 🙂

Excerpts

Excerpt: She’s Far From Hollywood

Coffee DeskAn excerpt from She’s Far From Hollywood. This is my second book, to be published in February 2017. This excerpt is subject to minor changes before publication. As always, this is make-believe – any resemblance to actual people/places/etc. is unintentional and coincidental. It’s fiction, folks!

 

     “Would you like another glass of wine?”
      Bree stared at her empty glass, still burning over Cole’s judgment of her.
     “Gee, Ty, I wouldn’t want to offend your brother’s sensibilities by ordering more wine. Maybe I should try what he’s having.”
      Cole let out a sharp, humorless laugh. “You’d hurt yourself, honey.”
      Oh, no he didn’t. “Let’s make one thing clear. I am not your honey.” She impulsively reached for Cole’s glass. His hand shot out so quickly she didn’t see it move until he grabbed her wrist tightly. His fingers were as hard as his eyes, and she gasped at the feel of his calloused skin on hers.
      Ty’s voice dropped to a growl. “Cole, I’ll throw your ass out the door myself if you don’t let her go and knock it off. What the hell is wrong with you today?”
      Cole pierced her with his eyes, and he didn’t let go. His voice was low and rough.
      “Don’t start something you can’t finish… honey.”
      They glared at each other, then he released her hand and pushed it away, causing some of the golden liquor to slosh over the rim of the glass onto her fingers. She kept her eyes locked on his as she lifted the glass to her lips and emptied it. His eyebrows raised just enough that she knew he was surprised, even if his expression remained carved in stone. Both men probably expected her to have a coughing fit or some other girlish reaction, but they were going to be disappointed. Thanks to her father, she was no stranger to hard liquor, including whiskey. She welcomed the burn as the strong drink warmed its way to her stomach. After setting the glass on the counter, she slowly licked the spilled whiskey from the tips of her fingers. Cole’s nostrils flared just a bit at that move.
      “Not bad.” She shrugged, settling back down onto the barstool. Ty’s eyes were bright with laughter, and he was staring at her in awe. He nodded toward Cole.
      “Brother of mine, I do believe you’ve finally met your match.”

Excerpts

Excerpt: Halcyon

Check out my new page – My Titles! My plan for the website is to provide a personal post once per week, plus an excerpt from one of my romance novels and/or a commentary on other authors’ books I’m reading.

When reading excerpts (or any work of my or anyone else’s fiction), please remember that it’s make-believe. The characters and stories are fictional. Any resemblance to real people, stories, places are strictly coincidental and unintentional. These are excerpts from unpublished works, so the copy may or may not change slightly before publication.

EXCERPT FROM HALCYON (see Titles page):

I don’t need a twelve bedroom castle, Miss Lowery.”

“It’s been a home before, and it could be again.” She was like a dog with a bone.

“Yes,” he said with a heavy sigh, “it was a home. And yes, the stories are full of romance and tragedy, but…”

“Stories? Tell me!” Amanda was leaning forward now, eager to hear. A smile teased her lips. Very rarely had she given him a genuine smile this week, and the effect of it caused him to stutter.

“T-Tell you what?”

“Tell me the story of Halcyon.”

He shook his head. “There are plenty of people around who know the history of this pile of rocks better than I do. I just wanted the land, not the legend.”

“There’s a legend? Now you have to tell me!” Her blue eyes were sparkling, and she laughed out loud. It was his heart that stuttered this time.

Blake racked his brain for the history of Halcyon. He’d been disgusted with the whole stupid story right up until the moment Amanda Lowery fell in love with it.

The Writing Process

Getting My Mojo Back…

If you read last week’s post, you know that I’d hit a rather epic wall of “writer’s block.” The characters of my last book flatly refused to leave my brain to allow the characters of my current book room to take up residence. After writing that post, I forced myself to get a first chapter on paper (well, on screen, in Word, whatever). It wasn’t easy. It’s a very rough draft of a chapter, and it has all the clumsiness and hurriedness of a draft, but it’s a first chapter completed. And it has set the mood for the book and the characters.

As the chapter began to percolate in my brain, I started to get that old feeling back. It’s the opposite of writer’s block, but it doesn’t have an official name that I know of. I suppose it’s just called “writing” as opposed to “not writing”, but it’s more than that. It’s an energy that starts building inside a writer and it starts to burn like fire. I call it my writing mojo.

Suddenly scenes are playing out like a movie in my head (I’m totally a visual writer – I see my scenes before and as I write them). It can happen at inconvenient times, like while I’m driving, or at work (I spent several lunch breaks this week sending emails to myself of totally awesome scenes that refused to wait). The new characters have not only taken up residence in my head, they’ve now taken it over. And that zip of energy they bring with them is exciting. I’ve visualized that scene that has to happen in every romance, where Melanie and Shane first feel the spark of potential between them. It’s funny and sexy and emotional and charming. I’m a little in love with it, and with them.

And just like that, writer’s block is a think of the past! I’m now typing words so quickly that my fingers can’t keep up with my brain. The story is just spewing out of me and onto the pages like a monster I can’t control. And it makes me smile. There will be a book after all, and while there are certainly points over the coming weeks and months where I’ll hit the brakes again and fight with scenes and argue with my characters about what they should and shouldn’t be doing, I know there’s a romance novel here – and it’s a story that’s worth telling.

Welcome back, mojo!

The Writing Process

From One Book to Another…

It’s hard to leave the past behind, and that goes double for leaving written books behind. The characters of The Hide-Away have firmly taken up residence in my brain, and they’re not leaving without a fight.

I love them. Truly, I do. It took a while, and a few good swift kicks in the behind from my BFF, to finally warm up to their potential. But once Bree and Cole became fully-formed characters in my head, I was a goner. Her long, red hair and fiery temper to match. His intense blue-gray eyes and gritty determination to resist feeling any emotion. The fireworks that went off every time they were together. Their sassy give-and-take and sarcastic comments. They were fun to write, and it was rewarding to watch them laugh and stumble and grieve and grow.

But I wrote “THE END” on their story in July. It’s in the hands of a (so far) enthusiastic Harlequin editor, and I pray it will be acquired and published. But it’s time to move on to Bree’s cousin, Melanie, and her story with Shane.

The problem is that very time I start to write about Melanie, I see Bree’s red hair and bristly attitude. Every time I work on Shane, I see Cole’s silent stare and crooked grin. But Melanie isn’t ego-centric and worried about appearances like Bree was. She’s a smart, independent businesswoman who’s in a bind because of one lousy decision. And Shane is the opposite of Cole! He’s big and brash and loud, full of good Irish humor as long as he can forget the legal bind he might be in because of his family. They’re really cool people with a story to tell.

But right now? Right now they’re fighting to get a foothold in my very over-occupied brain. Bree and Cole and the characters from Hide-Away refuse to give ground. They’re preventing Mel and Shane from becoming three-dimensional characters ready to build their own story. And it’s all giving me a headache.

Is there such a thing as a writer’s eviction ceremony? “Get out of my head, Cole and Bree, and go live your lives with my blessing.” Or perhaps an exorcism is needed? Or maybe it’s just good old-fashioned writer’s block and I’m going to have to fight my way through it. Groan.

Words on paper. Words on paper. Must get words on paper.

And those words can NOT be about Bree and Cole……….

 

My Life

A New Blog From a New Writer…

I started writing romance stories when I was ten, sitting with my very bestest girlfriend (to this very day!) as we invented characters and let them play in our minds and across our pages. My first heroine was named Destiny, and I remember that she was a feisty cowgirl, and I think there was a tornado…?

Then I grew up and life happened. One job after another took me further and further from writing, and even reading, the romance novels I’d always loved.

That all changed a few years ago when I was an invited speaker at a Girl Scout troop’s Career Night. One of the prepared questions from the serious, wide-eyed girls was this:

“When you were a little girl, did you dream of growing up to be a Director of Customer Service?”

Um…no.

And that was the epiphany moment when I knew I had to follow my passion.

Now that I can see victory (publication) on the horizon, it’s time to share my adventures with the loyal friends who have supported this journey, and hopefully with new friends and fans who will discover my work. I’m a card-carrying member of the Romance Writers of America, I have two completed novels that should be published in 2016, and I just started the third. But more details about all that in future posts, along with excerpts from all three books.

For now, you just need to know that I am a hard-working writer of contemporary romances about real characters living in real world situations where love always wins.

Welcome to my very own happily ever after!