Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Author Interview with Brenda Dyer

Hey y'all. We've got Brenda Dyer on the blog today. If you like PNR (and who doesn't?) you're gonna like this interview.



What's your book/current WIP about?
Love's Prophecy is about Mel, a vampire warrior and Breeana a veterinarian and singer--also a human--who come together by a force greater than they could ever imagine. Their love is written in the stars so to speak.
Care to share your favorite line(s) from your story?
Is it okay if it has a swear? Heck, I'm putting it down anyway--or maybe I'll bleep it out. 
“You do this because you love me?” Breeana jumped at Mel, grabbing the front of his shirt, balling it up in her fists. “You break my heart into a million (bleeping) pieces and you have the gall to say you do so because you love me?”
What's your next project?
My next project is writing book two in The Prophecy Series. It is called Prophecy's Child. This is Kal's story.
Describe your writing in a sentence.
Strike when the iron is hot and cry when it's not, LOL. That pretty much sums it up in a sentence. Hey, I made a rhyme, hehehehehe. Hmm, I wonder if I should write you a poem...yeah, I better not. My poetry is garbage.
Do you choose character names or do the characters whisper them in your ears?
Well, I don't want to say they whisper because some people might think I'm weird, but yeah, they do kinda whisper them to me. Does that make me weird? LOL, don't answer that!
Plotter or panster?
Neither. I'm a plotsner--a mixture of them both.
Do you like background noise or do you prefer a quiet space when you write?
Hate background noise with a capital H! I need quiet because I'm easily distracted.
What are you currently reading?
Right now I'm reading Bound By The Mist by Lisa Kumar. And I'm loving it! Oh, and I read Treasure Hunter's Lady and was literally blown AWAY--but you already know that. And for those of you reading this interview and you're looking for something awesome--I mean 5 star review awesome--check out the Treasure Hunter's Lady! Oh, after you check out Love's Prophecy of course, LOL.
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it?
I've always wanted to be asked what bug I would choose to be if I had to be turned into one. My answer would have to be a Ladybug because everyone likes Ladybugs and they do a lot of good. Farmers even buy Ladybugs.
People think I'm weird because...
LOL, check the above answer. But more specifically, people think I'm weird because I am weird. I like to make up weird things like how to take over the world. How aliens have teamed up with spiders to take over the world and we have no clue about it--except you and I. But no one will listen. I like to tease people in my real life and my on-line life. I LIKE TO YELL IN RED!
But I'm harmless just strange.
Love's Prophecy blurb: 

Dark warriors of might...
Mel is a vampire warrior sworn to hunt and kill demons in the dark streets of Vancouver. But he's burdened with a new assignment: find the meaning behind the Vampire Prophecy. Having no faith in the gods and their empty words, he believes there's no truth to the ancient legend until he meets Breeana, a human woman who bears the mark of the prophecy and resembles the mysterious woman haunting his dreams. When a vengeful demon spies Breeana in his arms, she is marked for death. He must take her from the world she knows until he can eliminate the threat. But the real danger is the role Breeana must play in fulfilling the prophecy and the intense feelings she brings out in him. Mel is forced to choose between his obligations to his kind, the world, and the woman he loves. Does he have the courage to let the one woman who could heal his wounded heart and soul go, or will he risk her life and bind her to him for all eternity?

Small warriors of light...
Veterinarian, Dr. Breeana Spencer yearns for love and companionship, but the disappointment of failed relationships has left her bitter. She now finds solace in romance novels. But when she meets a mysterious stranger, she's drawn to him by a connection so forceful it shatters all reason, leaving her incapable of resisting him. Yet there's more to him than smoldering good looks and a rock-hard body. As she's drawn deeper into his danger-filled world, she learns she's part of an ancient vampire legend. Breeana fears her future is no longer hers and will not include Mel. As their enemies close in, desperate to destroy them both, she must fight to convince Mel her place is at his side. A life-altering choice is before her—one that will take all her courage and love to make. 


Buy links:
Barnes And Noble: Coming soon

Brenda Dyer lives in the small town of Sooke off the coast of British Columbia with her husband, two teenage boys, and an assortment of animals.
She is a graduate from LongRidge Writers group.
When she isn't writing you can find her out in her gardens or working with her two miniature horses.
Brenda loves to hear from readers.

Where to find Brenda:

Thanks so much for joining me today, Brenda, and showing us your wild side!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stuff I Find While I'm Walking - Crazy Lil' Dog

It's baaack. You know, SIFWIW, because the weather was g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s yesterday. I saddled up PeeWee Chin and we took a jaunt down to Hayes Springs Conservation Area. You might remember that my previous walking partner was a blue heeler named Restless. Well, poor Res met a tragic end when she darted in front of a truck. The general idea behind taking a dog with me to walk is for protection, but as you can see, PeeWee isn't much on size, much less guarding anything. The benefit of taking him on a walk is this dog has boundless energy. I tried to take a video of him acting like a crazy little monster, but it's a well-known fact that I am tech challenged.

There was a big log sitting beside the trail. I put PW on it, backed away from the log, got out the camera and just as I prepared to take the photo--PeeWee doesn't want to play any more. Here's a great shot of his back as he jumped down. Thanks, buddy. He's more than a little camera shy. I actually think it's because we adopted him from an animal control place in 2010 and he fears if I capture his face on the camera, his old owners will find him and take him back. Little PW has some rather strange habits, including pacing, spinning in circles (which Japanese chins are know for when excited, confused, hurt, angry, happy, sad, but he takes it to the extreme) and cowering before strangers. Best guess: He was a breeder, his owners dumped him on the streets and said hasta la vista.

While sitting next to the creek, I was taking a break, but he had a drink of water and apparently its spiked with crack because he went nuts, running, barking, growling, rolling and biting his leash, some dead leaves, some live leaves and a rock. I can never quite figure out what's going on in his head. I wish I was more like him because he finds joy in the simplest of things.


As we carried on, I spotted these, the first daffodils of spring. My husband will argue vehemently that they are Easter lilies. These are daffodils, my friends. Daff-o-dils. The PW didn't seem to realize the beautiful of the first flowers of spring, therefore walking right past them and getting his natty leash in the photo. I suppose I should consider myself lucky he wasn't peeing on them.



Last, but not least, I finally managed to capture the elusive PeeWee Monster with his face semi-pointed toward the camera. It's like capturing Bigfoot, people, I swear.

The weather is supposed to be lovely this week, minus Tuesday because we've got a thunderstorm moving in, but otherwise, it couldn't look better. Ah, sunshine!

Take your e-reader out of doors, settle in your favorite chair and read a book, dang it. Or sit inside and type away, because you have books to write. Or just soak up some rays and mark off another day until spring.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Friday Five - 5 Easy Ways to Promote Yourself


Listen up, because this is actually important. There will be a test. Okay, I'm kidding about the test, but not about the importance of promoting. Here are five things you can do to draw readers to your books, your website, or whatever.

I could tell you all about social media, but that'd be me preaching to the choir. While it is essential in this day and age to utilize Facebook and Twitter, maybe even make the foray into Google Plus and absolutely, positively do not hesitate to start a blog because once people find you, they want to dangle from your every word, you need to know how to spread the word about your website/blog/newsletter/social networking sites and your book.

I help.

#1) World Literary Cafe - This site has only recently changed over from The Women's Literary Cafe. I love this site because they have everything here. Want to host authors? There's a forum for that. Want to be reviewed? They do that (for about $45, which is reasonable). They have Free eBook Fridays. They have hashtags for Twitter and a linkylist if you need more likes on your FB fanpage. Just a great resource all around. They're on FB too with sign-ups to like, tag and follow on Twitter.

#2) Kindlegraph - I've only recently discovered this site and as sad as I am that no one wants my electronic autograph (so far), I think it's awesome that someday someone might. It's free to sign up for, just plug in your Twitter information, add your book by the Amazon ASBN and then you can play with the features that let you decide whether you want to send a personalized signature or sign in type font or cursive. I wish more authors would discover this program because so far there are only about 3,000 on there right now.

#3) Goodreads - This site intrigues me because you can form book clubs, leave reviews, mark a book as red, to be read, or want to read. Authors can add questions to the Never Ending Trivia quiz and it's super easy to rate and leave reviews for books. Plus, with the friends option, when someone asks to be your friend or you ask to be theirs, it shares the books they've (or you've) read.

#4) Shelfari - I never really understood Shelfari until I published THL. For some reason I was missing how awesome this site is. When I went in to add details about my book, I found out I could add quotes, start a discussion, list the characters and the setting. Wow, what a great way to get deep info about a book before you buy it! Not only is the site out there and accessible through Amazon, you can add an app to  your blog or website displaying books you like or want to read.

#5) Romance - Author to Author - This is a new-ish site, in blogspot form that offers some of the same services WLC does. You can get likes, tags, follwers on your blog and Twitter and exchange reviews. Definitely worth checking out.

So instead of lazing about on this Friday, I want you to go out and get busy-busy promoting yourself and your book(s)!

Also, I want you to seriously consider entering to 2012 Weta Nichols Writing Contest because it's a fantastic way to get eyes on  your manuscript is by having a judge see it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Author Interview with Lacey Wolfe


What's your book/current WIP about?

My current book that just released is More Than Useful and it’s the second book in my Hot Bods series—which is a stand-alone series.

Can she settle for just a little fun?

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning Adam stops by Amy's bakery for one of her delicious muffins…and a little
flirting. When he finally asks her out, Amy is thrilled.

Adam informs her from the beginning that he isn't looking for anything serious. Just a little fun. Amy agrees, even though she isn't entirely sure that's what she wants.

She does her best to play it cool, but Adam is sending so many mixed signals he's confusing her, which she finds incredibly frustrating.

Adam is terrified by the feelings he's developing for Amy. It would be so much easier if he just backed away from her. Then there's his sister, who is insisting that Amy is not the right girl for him.

Will Adam be able to figure out what his heart desires before it's too late and he loses his chance at true happiness?

Care to share your favorite line(s) from your story?

I don’t have a favorite line, but there is a scene that involves a speeding ticket and I think it just might be my
favorite part of the book. Oh and a scene that involves the kitchen sink sprayer. I like that one a lot too.

What's your next project?

I have too many going on. I like to write several things at once and currently I am working on three. The forth book in the Hot Bods Series (the 3rd is under contract currently also with Beachwalk Press), I am almost finished with my first BDSM romance, and I am working on another non-erotic romance at the moment. I have my first non-erotic romance coming out in May.

Describe your writing in a sentence.

A little dash of sweet with a whole lot of spice.

Do you choose character names or do the characters whisper them in your ears?

I think they just come to me. I sit for a few moments and think about the characters and toss a few names
around and one feels right.

Plotter or panster?

Mostly a panster. But to improve the amount I write in a sitting, I have started taking five minutes before a
session and doing little plotting so I never stare at the screen and wonder what the heck I should be writing.

Do you like background noise or do you prefer a quiet space when you write?

I can write almost anything with screaming kids running around. But when I write my intimate scenes, I need
quiet.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading a book on how authors in the e-publishing world should be promoting. I have been restructuring my marketing plan.

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it?

Is your life as exciting as the characters in your book? And my answer would be no. I wish I had the hair I wrote about and the body. But most days I never get out of my PJ’s, don’t put on any make-up, and its been awhile since I’ve worked out.

People think I'm weird because...

Because I like to just stay home and never leave. Oh and I’m a nail biter.

Want to learn more about Lacey? Check out her website at www.laceywolfe.com

Want to connect?

www.twitter.com/LaceyWolfe

www.facebook.com/WolfeLacey

www.facebook.com/AuthorLaceyWolfe (fan page)

Thanks for joining me, Lacey and best of luck with your new release!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Tuesday After A Holiday Is Overrated

You know it's true.

I suppose it doesn't matter because it was inevitable that we'd all be back at work. But we don't have to like it. Nah, of course we do. Without work, who would pay the electricity bill that lets crazy novelists stay up all night to write?

No one. That's who. And then we wouldn't have the electricity to run our computers and type our little fingers to the bones. Which would be horrible because there are characters inside my brain beating against the walls of my head to get out. I wrote like a demon this weekend ending up with a word count of a little over 70k. That leaves me about 10k before I reach my goal of finishing The Sky Pirate's Wife. For some reason as I prepared to publish The Treasure Hunter's Lady (for some reason I almost wrote The Time Pirate's Treasure, I have no idea what that's about), I kept thinking that I have all year to write and finish SPW. Maybe my brain was on overload or the right connections just hadn't connected yet, but I hit 50k in January and from there it's gone pretty smoothly. I was thinking SPW might come out in the fall of 2012, but now that I'm so close to finishing (oh, don't get me wrong, it has a few kinks in the plot that need reworked), I'm thinking more like early summer 2012.

And then I was thinking, erm, I probably won't start working on The Turncoat's Temptress (TcT) seriously until November for NaNoWriMo, but then I remembered Camp NaNo and I thought, ding, ding, ding, we could have a summer project! So my year is looking pretty interesting as far as writing goes.

Despite some of the plot problems, I'm feeling really good about SPW. I think it will one-up THL for sure. If you love hot guys with bad reputations, airships, really cool made-up guns and cars, pretty blondes and transmogrifying men/birds, demons, folklore, love scenes and danger (and who doesn't?), you're going to love SPW.

These last ten thousand will just fly, I'm sure. Sitting at the beginning of one novel and the end of another, I'm a little stunned by how easy writing SPW seemed. I always feel like that at the end and when I look at TcT, I'm going how will I ever write another 80k novel? One word at a time, friends. The same way I do everything else.

It feels good.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Friday Five - Motivational Quotes



All right, fine. I forgot about you today because I haven't done The Friday Five in a while. When I realized it was a Friday morning and y'all would want TFF, I scrambled to come up with a topic. I got it. Something we can all use, some motivational quotes. Whether you're writing your first novel or your hundredth, there are times when one little kink can throw you off or sales aren't going like you hoped or the world just dumped on you and you wonder how you're going to go on. You just need some booze, uh, uplifting words to get you going. I know, I've been there and can go there at any time.

#1) "Whatever you are, be a good one." - Abraham Lincoln (1809-1864)

#2) "Be generous, be delicate, and always pursue the prize." - Henry James (1843-1916), from his essay about the rules of writing.

#3) "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions down out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

#4) "Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity." - Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

#5) "Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it." - Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, 09/03

Feeling motivated now? Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and do something. Write, be, do. Happy Friday, kids.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Diagnosis: Snow Madness

I tell ya, kids. I don't know what to write about today. I just thought since I missed you all on Monday, I should throw something your way.

This is my idea of hell.
You probably already guessed I hate snow. I've broadcasted that all over FB and Twitter. If you weren't aware, well, you are now.

I've been behind on e-mails, blog spots, drawing names for contests, marketing, kissing the feet of people who help me, and generally everything except writing. Yes, yes, I did get some writing done. 4,000 words worth of writing, in fact.

The Sky Pirate's Wife is 81% finished. Well, finished as in it has 81% of the required words toward putting the ### at the end. I don't like THE END. In my mind, it's not the end. Because in SPW, I finally got around to mentioning Abel and Romy, although they don't make an appearance. Well, I can't tell you why or how I mentioned them because it would give things away and I don't want to do that.

I also finally got to introduce the world to Basil Tinwhistle (I tried and tried to change his name from Basil, but he wouldn't play ball. Originally he was British, so he was a bit clipped and very proper. He was never supposed to have his own story, it was supposed to go to a hot Scottish guy, but that didn't work out. Somehow Basil kidnapped the show) via SPW. Instead of telling you about it, let me give you this excerpt. This is rough, so if it sucks... it's rough, okay?


“Who are you?” Sophie demanded.

Tinwhistle smiled again. This time there was a bit of wistfulness in it. “A scholar of the paranormal and nothing more. It's my duty to find and document the unusual. There are things that the average mind isn't able to comprehend. Not because he or she finds it difficult, but because the subject seems so far-fetched, there couldn't be a single shred of proof behind it. I, on the other hand, have been chosen to gather and examine this information. Both to see if any profit can come from it or if it needs to be erased from living memory."
He may or may not be the leading
authority on giant, fire-breathing eagles.
 
So you can see I've been immersed in the story Mr. Tinwhistle has been telling Sophie and Van Buren. And now you want to know, chosen by who. How'd they find him? Who will his woman be? Got you hooked didn't I? I hope so, because assuming the world doesn't end 12/21/12, it'll probably be out mid-summer 2013. Let's not count our chickens before they hatch though. We still gotta get some sky pirates taken care of.
Congrats to the two people who won copies of The Treasure Hunter's Lady in my Valentine's Day blog hops. Hope you enjoy it. If you have Kindle, I will totally give my autograph on Kindlegraph if you want. Just send me a request. That goes for anyone with a Kindle. If only Nook had a feature like that. Something to think about, Nookians. <---Nookie. :D


Okay, I'm done here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Author Interview with Robin Murphy


Today we're doing 10 questions with author Robin Murphy. Let's give her a big hand!
What's your book/current WIP about?
Sullivan’s Secret is about Dr. Marie Bartek, whose life has been uneventful as the local veterinarian on Sullivan's Island, SC, until her ability to see spirits returns after eighteen years. After confiding in her best friend and realizing their interests in the paranormal, they organize a paranormal investigation team called Sullivan's Island Paranormal Society, SIPS. Marie learns to channel her ability through the help of one of the team members, but not before learning the spirits are trying to warn her about the murders taking place on Sullivan's Island. Sullivan's Secret captivates the reader with murder, suspense, and the world of the paranormal.
Care to share your favorite line(s) from your story?
Marie absentmindedly touched her neck and felt the bandage. “Is this going to leave a scar?”
Gale leaned forward in her chair and wiped the tears off of Marie’s face with a tissue. “No, it won’t. I asked the doctor the same thing. I mean, come on, you just don’t look good in a turtleneck.”
Marie began to laugh. “I know, right?”
What's your next project?
I am working on the second book in the Sullivan’s Secret series. Marie and the SIPS team will begin to help with current crimes or cold cases.
Describe your writing in a sentence.
My writing puts me into a euphoric state and lets me slip into the fantasy of my story.
Do you choose character names or do the characters whisper them in your ears?
I would have to say I choose the names. Some are personal to me, some are just people I have met briefly, or maybe characters on a TV show that appeal to me. There are times though, when a name will appear to me on the fly when I’m writing too.
Plotter or panster?
I’m going to have to say 20% plotter and the rest a panster. I have a good basis for what my story is going to be about and where it will take place. But, that’s what I love about fiction writing, you can change it to suit your mood...and the story. It’s more of a thrill writing the story by the seat of my pants, that’s usually when I get the best rush. There are many people who have a strong opinion on which way is the best, but I think every writer has to do what works best for them.
Do you like background noise or do you prefer a quiet space when you write?
I need a quiet space, I’ve been told I have ADD...I still argue with that, but in this case, background noise distracts me. I lose the creative process.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Sylvia Browne’s, Secret Societies. I do a lot of research for my stories, even though its fiction, you do need to have fact based information. Sullivan’s Secret involves a psychic medium, and I consider Sylvia to be one of the greats (my opinion), and I’ve learned a great deal from her writing.
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it?
Setting the Scene: As I stroll down the red carpet, “Who are you wearing this evening?” No, just kidding...I really don’t know, that’s a good question. I would have to honestly say that any and all questions that I’ve been asked to this point after being published have been “the question”. This has been such an amazing ride for me, and I hope to continue with future interviews in my writing career.
People think I’m weird because...
Wow, nobody has ever said I was weird...to my face that is. But my husband does tell me I’m a little goofy...usually after something fantastic has happened and I’m doing my silly victory dance in the middle of the floor. Okay, yeah...that is weird.
Excerpt from Sullivan's Secrets (page 36):
Tina leaned against the sink while Marie washed her hands. Her too short pink skirt and too low cut blouse was clinging to her tiny frame. Her bleached blonde hair was due for a root job and her lime green nail polish was chipping on the ends. “Everyone’s been talking about it. Jimmy Thomas brought the newspaper in after delivering our water. I just love when he unloads all those five gallon bottles.”

Marie smiled and rolled her eyes. “Tina, you amaze me how you can change the subject as quickly as you do. Now let’s focus more on our patients and less on Jimmy Thomas.” They walked out into the hall and Marie grabbed her clipboard. “Please hand me the file on Jasper and give me five minutes before you call them in.”


Midwest Book Review of Sullivan’s Secret:
“Communing with the spirits may leave you with some very unwanted responsibility. Sullivan's Secret follows Marie Bartek as she rediscovers her talents to communicate with spirits. Working with friends in a paranormal society, she finds that her skill leaves her with the responsibility to stop murders from sweeping her town and she has to put out her own neck to stop the hysteria. Sullivan's Secret is a fascinating read that will be hard to put down.”

Sullivan’s Secret can be purchased at:

Amazon paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Sullivans-Secret-Robin-Murphy/dp/1461091365
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Sullivans-Secret-ebook/dp/B004WP38XU/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2
Barnes & Noble Nook Book: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sullivans-secret-robin-murphy/1100536859?ean=2940012332547
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-Murphy/161123980616276
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/#!/murfett
LinkedIn page: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/robin-murphy/38/213/338
Goodreads member – author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4837368.Robin_Murphy


Bio:
Robin Murphy was born in the small coal mining town of Windber, Pennsylvania and remembers a wonderful childhood with her parents and two older brothers.
She has worked in the administrative field over the last thirty years and has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. She is currently employed as an Administrative Associate at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Robin has four children – two daughters, Jennifer and Sue, and two sons, Michael and Nathan – and three granddaughters – Tessa, Anna, and Abigail, with a fourth grandchild (grandson) on the way.
She and her husband, Bob were married in Sharpsburg, MD in 1998 by local historian, Rev. John Schildt. After falling in love with the town, they decided to move to Sharpsburg three years later. In 2002, they bought a log home, circa 1783, and continue to restore the fourteen-room house. It's been a true labor of love.
Even though Robin has to squeeze her writing into creative times of the day, it is during those moments she feels exhilarated and renewed. “There is no greater feeling than to have found my passion in writing.” She also finds time to swim and loves to travel.
She is a member of the Sisters in Crime organization and was voted as one of the “50 Great Writer’s You Should Be Reading”.

Thanks for coming by and great answers, Robin!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

With Love

Lots of love, because, well, it's the month of love. Actually, to be honest, I keep seeing red decorations at Wal-Mart and I think, "Christmas is over, WTH?"

Right. Anyway, in honor of good ol' V-Day, I'm blog hopping with The Blog Hop Spot and giving you a chance to win an e-copy of my debut steampunk romance novel, The Treasure Hunter's Lady, which just came out yesterday. Careful, it's probably still hot off the e-press. Don't burn your fingers.

To celebrate Valentine's Day and because I'm a huge believer in gathering random facts, here are some interesting facts relating to the kissy-kissy, smoochy-smoochy holiday.

 In the 1840's, Ester A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines.

 Lupercalia, which was the festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of fertility, was deemed "un-Christian" by the Catholic church. Instead, they celebrated St. Valentine's Day. There are at least 3 known saints named Valentine or Valentinus.

 Vatsyayana, the author of the Kama Sutra, was most likely a celibate scholar who lived in India in the 5th century A.D.

 Approximately 150 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged each year. Most of them on the six days preceding the holiday.

 Mid-February was chosen for the holiday because people in Britain believed that was approximately the time when birds began to mate.

Well, I don't know about birds (actually, I'm afraid of most birds), but I have a few steamy scenes in my novel and I'm going to give a copy away to one lucky winner.

Here's the blurb:

The Treasure Hunter's Lady - Now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Romy Farrington seems to have the perfect life—a world-famous archeologist father and upcoming marriage to a wealthy businessman. But to Romy, her new life in the city is a punishment.

For years, she traveled the world at her father's side, exploring new lands and uncovering ancient secrets. It was everything she ever wanted, until a near-fatal encounter with hostile natives forced her and her father into a life of retirement in Boston and an undesired advance into proper society.

Everything changes again when she's saved from an accident by a brash Texan in a back alley. Abel Courte may act like a care-free cowboy, but he's harboring a secret—he's searching for the Diamond of Uktena, a legendary jewel that can cure any disease known to man. He needs information Romy's father has in order to get to the jewel. When he traces the origin of the Diamond to Dakota Territory, he sets off to claim the treasure, only to find the archeologist's fiery redheaded daughter stuck to him like a bug in sap.

In a race against time, Romy and Abel must learn to trust each other as they undertake a cross-country journey that will expose them to lands uncharted by white men, a deadly battle against the fearsome creature in possession of the Diamond and a fight to return to civilization where they might make the greatest discovery of all—love. 

Don't forget to visit the other authors hopping with The Blog Hop Spot to win other great prizes! Happy V-Day, whether you're cuddled with your sweetie or thanks the heavens you're not waiting hand and foot on someone who's not so sweet.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Release Day

First off, are you looking for my Valentine's Day Blog Hop Contests? Look up under contests (or you can scroll down), that'll get you in the right direction. For the rest of you, excited about RELEASE DAY:

Oh man, what I wouldn't give for some kind of cool song intro with this post. You can sing the lyrics to Fergie's Glamorous in your head if you want to. I am.

There are so many things to say, so many people I want to thank and I think this is a good time to just say it all. Think of this as like the credits at the end of the movie. Or a super-lame 'thank you' speech at the Academy Awards.

First, I have to thank God. You don't just stumble into a craft by accident. You're given a purpose, a reason to be and he said, "This one's going to write." I could've used a little help on the math front, but hey who am I to complain?

And my mom, who got to be the first person to hear the good news when I got my contract and who was there when that collapsed. There was a reason I got that news on Thanksgiving Day. She took my fabulous author picture and she's listened when I pour out my writing woes and clapped when I have writing highs. Thanks, Mom.

My husband, who doesn't get it. That's okay, I don't get his truck thing either. He's the reason the title is in blue. His idea. He's the reason Abel has a snake tattoo. He's the person who helps me take my mind off all the tricky stuff in writing when I'm buried up to my eyeballs and need a break. Thanks for making me laugh.

I'm always thinking about my dad and grandma. They couldn't be here for this, but they'd be proud. Even though they'd want to black out the sex scenes with Magic Marker.

Thank you, D'Ann, for being the first person to read and tolerate the changes in the plot and making all the wonderful suggestions. I know I'm a better writer because you're my critique partner.

Brenda, you have no idea how much you helped me with editing, formatting and keeping my spirits up.

To all the fine ladies (I don't know what happened to the one guy who was coming for a while) at Ozarks Romance Authors. You helped point me in the right directions when I was clueless. Everyone should be so lucky.

And for all the folks who support me around the web. Y'all give yourselves a big pat on the back.

And PeeWee who sat on my lap and poured his little doggy thoughts into the story. He's a plotter, an editor, a goofball and a companion. All he asks for in return is kibble and cheese.

To have such a great support group is overwhelming. When I complain, you listen. When I laugh, well, sometimes you laugh at me, which is funny too, and you laugh with me. When I cry, you yell at me to get back up and go again.

Thanks.

Why are you just sitting there? Wipe those tears out of your eyes and go freakin' buy The Treasure Hunter's Lady.


Valentine Score



Ah, l'amour. A little pre-Valentine's lovin' from me to you. As part of the Just Romance Me Blog Hop (where you can win fabulous prizes just by visiting wonderful, generous authors), I want to share an excerpt from my brand spanking new debut novel, The Treasure Hunter's Lady, which I will be giving away as an e-copy to one lucky blog hopper just for visiting me!


To set you up: Abel Courte and Romy Farrington are on an airship bound for Bismarck, Dakota Territory. Abel's hunting the legendary Diamond of Uktena and Romy's on his tail because she believes he's going to sell it for major cash. In Native American lore, the Diamond can cure any disease and bring riches and prosperity to the whoever possesses it. One only has to wrest it away from a giant, violent serpent in order to use the Diamond. But it's not just a search for the jewel weighing on their minds. Romy and Abel are very attracted to one another.
Abel's face was close to hers, his mouth inches away. A hot, heavy emotion poured through her like honey over bread. Heaven help her, Abel in a temper made her jittery and not because he was intimidating. Every muscle in her body wanted to pull him closer to her. Romy licked her lips, anticipating the missed kiss from yesterday afternoon. Her eyes roved down to the crotch of his denims. If the bulge behind the fly was any indication, he wanted the kiss as much as she did. That and more. 
Behind them, someone snorted in unmistakable disgust. "Take it downstairs. Both of you will feel better after a good romp." 
Romy spun like the guilt-ridden, lusting creature she was and came eye-to-chest with Van Buren's knit sweater. She tilted her head back to look up at him. "Excuse me?" 
"Too many excuses between the two of you already," he said. "Settle your differences now so when you get to Bismarck, you have no regrets." 
So what do you think? Will they/won't they? Only one way to find out!


The Treasure Hunter's Lady - Now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble



Romy Farrington seems to have the perfect life—a world-famous archeologist father and upcoming marriage to a wealthy businessman. But to Romy, her new life in the city is a punishment.
For years, she traveled the world at her father's side, exploring new lands and uncovering ancient secrets. It was everything she ever wanted, until a near-fatal encounter with hostile natives forced her and her father into a life of retirement in Boston and an undesired advance into proper society.

Everything changes again when she's saved from an accident by a brash Texan in a back alley. Abel Courte may act like a care-free cowboy, but he's harboring a secret—he's searching for the Diamond of Uktena, a legendary jewel that can cure any disease known to man. He needs information Romy's father has in order to get to the jewel. When he traces the origin of the Diamond to Dakota Territory, he sets off to claim the treasure, only to find the archeologist's fiery redheaded daughter stuck to him like a bug in sap.

In a race against time, Romy and Abel must learn to trust each other as they undertake a cross-country journey that will expose them to lands uncharted by white men, a deadly battle against the fearsome creature in possession of the Diamond and a fight to return to civilization where they might make the greatest discovery of all—love. 


And don't stop here! Keep checking back with the Just Romance Me Blog Hop page for your chance to win a Nook filled with the books authors are donating.

Happy V-Day, may there be chocolate for all!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chapter One Excerpt - The Treasure Hunter's Lady

On this fine Tuesday morning, a mere three days from the release of The Treasure Hunter's Lady, I present to you the first chapter. Enjoy! 
Chapter One
Boston – 1884 


Abel Courte leaned against the straight-as-a-pin picket fence and stared up at the stars, brilliant white against the black curtain of sky. Night hid the fragrant summer roses blossoming around the backyard of the cottage. The scent masked the pungent aroma of people living too close together and garbage left to rot in the alleys. 

A thousand miles away, the same stars were shining down on San Antonio, Texas. Homesickness rolled over Abel like ocean waves. He'd give anything to be back there helping his aunt tend her garden, working side-by-side with his uncle or playing a game with his twin cousins. On a map, Boston wasn't so far from Texas, but it might as well be another world. 

A shuffling noise made him reach for the Bennett Special laser pistol tucked into the holster beneath his canvas duster. The hammer fell into place with a quiet snick, followed by the high-pitched whine of the magnetic core warming up. Not a stealthy device, but he liked that the gun let opponents know that he wasn't unarmed. It was so much lighter and easier to use than a traditional firearm—unless he was faced with a gunfight. He swallowed the idea. There was no reason for anyone to suspect what he was doing here except the man he'd come to meet. 

“Mr. Courte?” 

The voice belonged to a tired old man, not the adventurer Abel was expecting. But there was no mistaking the British accent. 

“Dr. Farrington.” His statement exuded confidence he didn't feel. 

A match flared before Farrington lowered it to a candlewick. Soft light illuminated the immediate area while keeping the meeting discreet. Harsh shadows darkened the archeologist's face like a death mask. “Maggard, if you please.” 

Abel nodded. His eyes fell on a package wrapped in brown butcher paper in the doctor's hands. “Just Abel then.” He reached for the parcel automatically, but drew back short of snatching it. “Is that it?” 

He didn't miss the tremble in the older man's hands as he held out the offering. His own hands almost matched shake for shake. Maggard transferred the parcel to Abel. The package was lighter than it looked. Not as thick either, though he couldn't rightly say what he expected.

Maggard peered into the darkness, maybe deliberately ignoring the exchange. “Is it with you?” 

As hard as his heart was beating, he'd have sworn a herd of cattle was tearing through town. Like something with a power of its own, the talisman beneath his shirt seemed to throb. 

“I couldn't leave it in Texas.” He didn't want to say the thing urged him to take it back to where it had come from. That was ridiculous. 
“I understand,” Maggard answered. Something about his face told Abel he meant that. “How is the marking?” 

The dark tattoo curling around his bicep and along his shoulder seemed to squirm against his skin. He resisted the urge to scratch at it. “Slow moving, but on a steady course. You?” 

“Nearly reached its destination.” Maggard let out a ragged sigh. “If I had any idea of the consequences, I'd have told that bastard where he could—” His voice cracked. The lines on his face deepened. “Everything I'm doing now is to protect my daughter. I'm afraid he'll try to use her in this. I only want her to be safe. I'm sure you understand.” 

Abel thought of his family back home and nodded. 

“One of us has to end this, Abel. Now you know everything I know. Though I wonder if he knows something we don't.” 

“I'm going to find out,” Abel promised. He paused. “Do you think it's really out there? The lair, I mean?" 

“The venom came from somewhere. After all the oddities and wonders that have crossed my path, it seems entirely possible that the Horned Serpent exists. There are many tales of serpents in hundreds of cultures. I think we've all discovered this is something more than a story. Only a fool would deny what's happening to him.” 

Abel fought a bout of skepticism. It seemed surreal that he was having this conversation with a man he'd never met before. “I guess.” 

The candle flickered and died. “Be careful, young man. You've just made a powerful enemy.” 
**** 

Romy Farrington feared she’d suffer from a permanent squint if she didn’t get out of the overly pink parlor soon. Pink cushions, pink silk walls, pink floral accent rugs and—heaven forbid—pink horsehair settees. If one enjoyed strolls in the parks during summer sunsets when the pinks were burning brightest, one might be able to endure Imogen DuGuard’s parlor. Romy didn’t have an issue with sunsets, just the eight by ten foot room where she was currently trapped. The colors distracted her and made it difficult to remember what she’d been talking about. 

Imogen stared at her over her teacup. “I don't understand.” 

“You don't . . . understand?” Romy repeated. 

A troubled look settled over Imogen’s horse-like face. “I can't fathom your obsession with wading knee-deep in water filled with bloodthirsty parasites. In trousers, no less. How do you ever hope to marry well if you don't present yourself as a lady?” 

Romy looked to her other companions, Imogen's daughters, Sara and Wincie. Both avoided her eyes. They were plain, spiritless creatures who looked almost identical despite a year's difference in their ages. Romy wasn't sure which one was older. Wincie refilled her teacup while Sara feigned interest in a nearby vase of flowers. Not that she'd expected any help from them. 

Neither woman ever acted out of the ordinary—perfect ladies through and through. If she had been raised like them, she might feel shame at the mention of dressing like a man. As it was, she only felt frustrated that she was forced to endure their company. To brush up on her manners, to learn proper etiquette for holding teas, to discover the art of attracting wealthy bachelors so she might someday marry well. Twenty-one years old and her father, Dr. Maggard Farrington, sent her to study up on such things. Even though he knew Imogen despised her. Romy had the suspicion money was changing hands for these “lessons”. 

“We weren't always wading through water. Sometimes it was sand or snow,” she defended.

Imogen's right eyebrow lifted a fraction. Her skeptical face didn’t change. 

Determined not to fold under the stare, Romy continued. “Manners aren't important in the wilderness. The discovery is at the heart of the matter. One never knows what one will find—a new plant species, a mother spider monkey caring for her infant, even a long-lost treasure. It's worth the small discomforts to see your name on a placard in the Smithsonian Institute.” 
Imogen dabbed at her wide mouth with a linen napkin. “How many placards bear your name, Romancia?” 

Sara tittered, but the sound died at her mother's slight frown. 

Romy opened her mouth, but her throat clogged. The question was designed to put her in her place. Her hostess already knew the answer. “Well, none, but Papa—” 

“So you see, a lady has no business in adventuring,” Imogen interrupted. “Her heart should be in her home. When you marry, your main concern will be preparing a comfortable, soothing environment for your husband.” 

The sisters nodded in unison like marionettes. Romy suppressed a shudder. There was not one particular place she felt comfortable calling home. Her home was the world, free for the taking. Trying to get women like her companions to comprehend her life before the move to Boston was like trying to teach a bull to walk upright. Hopeless. 

Wincie looked up from her tea. “I understand when Andrew Christensen returned to town, he brought his nephew, who is also the heir to his business empire. I suspect he's every bit as dashing as his uncle.” 

Dashing to the DuGuards meant obscenely wealthy. 

Imogen nodded. “Samuel Woefield. He’s the sort of man you ought to set your sights on, Romancia. Think how proud your father would be to introduce you as Mrs. Woefield.” 
Romy's mouth went dry. She couldn't imagine spending the remainder of her life with a boring businessman entertaining throngs of elitists clamoring for Woefield's attention and money. 

Sara sighed happily. “Can you imagine marrying a man as rich as Mr. Woefield? It would be like marrying royalty. Oh, the wedding and all the guests!” She pressed her hand to her breast as if to calm her pounding heart. Romy resisted the urge to roll her eyes. 

Wincie shook her head. Wisps of hair, a dull shade of blonde, swirled around her face. “Sara, it's our duty to introduce Romancia to Mr. Woefield. Her father is an important man in England and just as popular with the intellectuals in Boston. We must see to her needs. There are plenty more successful men in the world.” 

Sara looked ashamed and offered an apologetic smile to the room. “Of course, Wincie. Romancia is an honored guest.” 

Because of Papa. If she'd only been born a son, no one would question her desire to follow in his footsteps. No one would order her to marry a stuffy old goat. It was a pity that her mother had given her father a daughter. 

The clock announced the hour. Romy counted the chimes and her agitation dissipated. Before the last percussion faded, she rose from the horsehair settee. She hoped the smile she pasted across her face reflected regret, but more likely it gave away her relief. 

“I must be going, ladies. Madame Claire expects me to pick up my gown for this evening's festivities.” 

Sara and Wincie adopted identical looks of disappointment. Imogen frowned with unmasked disapproval. 

“You could send a servant to fetch it,” Wincie suggested. “Stay a bit longer. You have the most interesting stories.” 

Imogen glared daggers at her daughter. 

“I believe she needs to adjust the hem the tiniest bit.” The lie hadn’t completely formed in her mind before she got it out. 

“Have you considered another seamstress, Romancia?” Imogen asked. 

Romy frowned. “Should I?” 

The older woman eyed Romy's current gown. “Madame Claire seems to be stuck in the past by several decades.” 

Sheer strength of will kept Romy from inspecting her dress for discrepancies. The pattern had come from her mother's things. Helena Farrington, a famous pianist in her time, had designed many gowns before her passing. While Madame Claire argued the color clashed with her client's red-gold locks, the sketch had shown it dusky pink and Romy would have it no other way, though she considered herself lucky not to have gotten lost amid the d├ęcor in Imogen’s parlor. She couldn’t help running her hand down the damask. Maybe the gown's hoop skirt and rows of drop lace—sans bustle—were a bit out of date, but if she had to wear a dress, it would be on her terms. 

Imogen and her daughters wore dresses cut to fit their slender forms. Bustles rounded out their figures and emphasized their whittled waists. The latest fashions from London and Paris. Pretty yes, but no less difficult to get around in than the one she wore. Given her way, all the dresses in the world would be burned and the ashes dumped in the ocean, but Papa insisted on a neat appearance. And Imogen would have fits if Romy dared come to her door in trousers. 

“I'll consider your suggestion.” For about ten seconds. She forced a bright smile. “Thank you for having me, ladies. Until this evening.” 

She wiggled her gloved fingers at them and as soon as she closed the parlor door behind her, she took off at a steady trot, lifting her skirt in a way that no doubt revealed her ankles. The butler gave her a bemused frown, which she ignored. 

Would Papa believe her if she were to feign terrible stomach pains an hour or two before the ball? He’d all but demanded her presence at Andrew Christensen's party. In her opinion, one ball was as good as another, but none of them compared to the theater of exotic places. 

The Farrington's hired carriage waited in the drive. A short ginger-haired coachman sat atop the bench in the late summer sunshine. He perused a local rag that often withheld important truths and made up gossip to amuse the gentry. 

“Gardner!” 

The paper collapsed like a dying butterfly. Gardner peered down at her. “Yes, miss.” 

“I'm on my way to Madame Claire's.” 

“Of course,” he responded, one foot already on the step to swing down from the bench. 

She held up her hand to stop him. “No, no. I'll walk. Have the carriage in front of her shop in about two hours, won't you?” 

Gardner glanced down the street with its immaculate lawns and flowerbeds. “Walk, miss?” 

She’d expected him to question her desire to go alone, but after enduring two hours with the DuGuards, her patience was wearing thin. “Have you developed a hearing problem in the last few hours, Gardner?” 

He rubbed the back of his sunburned neck. “No, miss. In front of Madame Claire's in two hours.” 

She nodded, satisfied with his response. “Good man.” 

He removed his hat and ran his finger around the brim. “I'm supposed to escort you to the seamstress. You know what your father said, miss.” 

Wretched rules. She ground her teeth and tried to stamp out her growing anger. “I know what Papa said, some foolish thing about not letting me out of your sight. Be that as it may, was I not inside this manor without you? Did I sneak out and escape your vigilant watch? Am I not standing before you, prepared to pick up my gown for this evening?” 

“Well, yes. There's no need to—” 

Romy smiled, widened her eyes and assumed her sweetest tone. “Of course there's no need to alert Papa to this minor change of plans. I know you'd never betray my trust that way. If I'm going to be on time, I must set off right this second. I’ll see you shortly, Gardner.” She gave him the same little wave she'd given the ladies, spun on her heel and fled down the walk. 

A quick glance over her shoulder revealed the coachman stationary on the bench with his mouth open in silent protest. Romy chuckled. Poor man would still be trying to figure out what had happened when he rolled up in front of the dress shop. 

Several blocks down, she cut through a debris-strewn alley to avoid the Saturday crowds at market. The stench of decaying food hit her nose and bits of discarded paper and cloth dotted the muddy path. 

Sparrows picking through the trash fluttered out of her way. They were dreadfully dull little birds that reminded her of Imogen and her kin. An oriole soared from one rooftop to another; its bright orange foliage vibrant among the smaller birds. The sparrows flew away, but the oriole landed on an abandoned crate and cocked its head at her. 

“If I were a bird, I'd fly away from this place and go anywhere I wanted.” A deep sense of envy settled around her as the bird flitted to a garbage pile, pecking for scraps. 

A year and a half ago, her father, world-renowned archeologist Dr. Maggard Farrington, put together a team of men to explore the Amazon River Basin. At his right hand, Romy helped catalog new species of flora and fauna. For a month they traversed the mighty river without a hitch in their plans. With one rash decision, she'd not only destroyed Papa's work and her life, but the lives of several loyal men who dedicated themselves to the archeology trade. Men who never returned home to their families. 

She’d watched Papa toss out all of their exploration paraphernalia. Her protests that they might someday need those things fell on deaf ears. The moment they had escaped from South America, he insisted she take up the mantle of a proper lady, something he'd never pressed on her before. 

She longed for things to be the way they once were. After spending most of her life in exotic countries without rules or restrictions, she'd come away spoiled. They'd spent a brief time in London recovering, as much as one could recover from seeing men she'd known most of her life die horribly, but in the end, Papa had settled on retiring to Massachusetts. He worked part-time for the Smithsonian, writing articles and studying artifacts, leaving once or twice a month to lecture at colleges or geological societies. 

Papa ignored her less-than-subtle hints that they explore parts of the state with few human inhabitants and often walked away when she brought up the past. She thought it would be better to continue the life they once had rather than pretend to be something they were not. He didn't subscribe to her theory. 

He insisted she visit the city and make friends. While he never came out and said it, she knew he wanted her to marry and have babies to occupy her time rather than nurse old memories. 

No matter how pleasant he made city life sound, she felt trapped. It was as though he expected manners and parties to wipe away a lifetime of freedom. Sometimes she considered running away, but it would break his heart. She couldn't do that to Papa. 

On the street, merchants haggled with an assortment of customers. Their voices pulled her from dark thoughts and dumped her in the dreary alley. The oriole was gone; she felt foolish for standing about like a halfwit. 

Down the street a short distance, Madame Claire's brick shop begged for attention with its bright blue door. A man stood in front of the glass windows. Tall, lean, and broad-shouldered, he wore an odd felt hat, a Stetson, she thought it was called, and faded denims tucked into calf-high leather boots. The hat was pushed up far enough to let the sun shine on his bronzed features. High cheekbones, fair brows and a firm jaw covered with golden stubble. The cut of his wrinkled shirt and denims were different than those of the locals in their business attire. He looked like an honest-to-goodness cowboy. A slight grimace twisted his mouth and his eyes narrowed at an old woman dressed as a fortuneteller brandishing a crystal ball. When he spoke, Romy saw a flash of white teeth. His posture went rigid as though the woman surprised him with her divination. 

She itched to discover what a cowboy wanted in a city as dull as Boston. A bell clanged on the door at Madame Claire's and a plump woman bustled out, skirting the gypsy and the cowboy.

Romy's shoulders slumped as she recalled her mission to retrieve the party dress. Besides, Papa would suffer an apoplexy if he learned she'd talk to someone like that. Heaving a sigh, she stepped into the cobblestone street and cast a yearning look at the cowboy. 

Rip. 

The hem of her skirt stuck out, caught on a nail head protruding from the side of a wooden building front. A tear several inches long gaped in the material. Romy groaned. Britches would never have caught on the nail. Out of spite, she thought of letting it continue all the way to the hem. A sharp tug would set her free. But the dress cost a pretty sum and guilt wouldn't allow her to be so careless. 

“Dashed merchants can't even manage the upkeep on their own shops.” She bent over, her bottom sticking up in the air as she fumbled with the lace snagged around the head of the nail. Soft kidskin gloves kept her from getting a grip on the metal. One or both of the pins holding her hat to the froth of curls piled atop her head slipped. The feathered contraption dropped into the dirt and with it, every hairpin holding up her curls. A tangle of locks spilled over her face. 

“Oh, I hate you! I wish I'd taken the scissors and sheared you off.” All her hair ever seemed to do was get her into trouble. She batted at it, pushing a few strands behind her shoulder. 

A rumble filled the air. Tendrils, still tangled around her face, obscured her vision of the street. The ground trembled beneath her feet and a nearby horse let out a frightened whinny. 

Grabbing a handful of hair, she peered out from beneath it and her heart lurched when she saw one of those new cog-work automobiles chugging toward her at an alarming speed. The glossy black body looked like a coffin on wheels. As it approached, the panicked horse broke free from the railing. The animal veered closer to the building, clearly out of control. 

“Move outta the way, lady!” The driver halted the vehicle in the center of the road and squeezed a bulb that let out a long bleep. 

Odd how the horse seemed to float on air instead of tread over the ground, owing to the feathery hair on its pasterns. 

A singular thought pushed its way to the front of her mind. Trampled in the street of a bloody city by an over-glorified pony instead of sacrificed to native gods in the jungle. If she survived, Papa would expect her to go to the party anyway. Life wasn't fair. Not at all.
The Treasure Hunter's Lady - Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords 


Copyright 2012, Alice R. Cummings