Christmas Giveaway #3

I’ve emailed the winner for Giveaway #2.

Up next:  something to help the NaNoWriMo-ers or anyone who likes to color.  Adult coloring books are all the rage and I’ve bought several myself.  I do like to color – but I’m not sure that it’s “relaxing” for me personally.  We’ll see. I keep trying new patterns and markers/pencils to see what I prefer.

This giveaway includes:

I’ll ship these anywhere on the planet and you can enter as many times as you want. To enter, comment on this blog post with HEROINE names you’d like to see more of.

Eight Magical Tales: A Here Be Magic Boxed Set

FINAL3D_COVER_HBM_BoxedSetA bunch of us at Here Be Magic got together and wrote brand-new stories centered around magic. Our boxed set is available now and only $.99!

TERROR MANSION by Rebecca York
His psychic dream can save her life–if she’ll only trust him.

NIGHTGAZER by Joely Sue Burkhart:
A princess on the run. A grumpy wizard stripped of his power. Can she heal him in time to save her throne?

GORGOUS NIGHTMARE by Angela Campbell:
Can a reluctant psychic stop a deadly killer before the woman he loves is murdered?

Zander has one month to prove he deserves to be let back into heaven. Lysanna is a Trickster, a demi-god charged with making people believe in Light and hope. Now, Zander will have to choose between his duty to heaven and Lysanna.

TALL, TALL TREES by Linda Mooney:
If fighting the animosity between their two tribes isn’t enough, Oron and Pellera must battle monstrous creatures and the deadly growler to save their lives and their love.

DEVIL OF BOURBON STREET by Cindy Spencer Pape:
For a widowed cop and a street musician, magic, murder, and New Orleans might add up to love—if they survive.

RAVEN’S SONG by Shawna Reppert:
Set between the first and second books of Reppert’s award-winning Ravensblood series, can a reformed dark mage save an opera star from a deadly stalker?

HEALER OF THE NILE By Veronica Scott:
Can a village healer persuade the god of Fate to help her save a soldier trapped between Life and Death?

Buy links (more coming as they go live!):

Christmas Giveaway #2

Thank you to everyone who’s bought The Billionaire’s Christmas Bargain and/or posted a review!  The winner of the journal has been posted.

This week, I’d like to offer a $25 gift certificate to any online book retailer. To enter, I’d like to you recommend an unusual hero name you’ve always wanted to see in a romance novel.  Post on this blog post as often as you wish (multiple entries allowed).

Christmas Giveaway #1

To celebrate my first Christmas story release–The Billionaire’s Christmas Bargain–I’ll be giving away several small items over the next six weeks as little “gifts” to you.  Of course I’ll do some gift certificates too, but personally, I love handmade items.  I’ve got a crocheted scarf I made, some small journals, and who knows what else!  Note that some giveaways will be exclusive to my newsletter subscribers, so sign up!

Up first, I’m going to giveaway a small (<20 page) journal I made. I bought digital papers from Ephemera’s Vintage Garden and Tsunami Rose, mixed with some Paris-themed washi tape, and some digital raven postcards I bought several years ago.  I printed them out on card stock paper and cut them apart by hand, so these are far from perfect–but I think that gives the pages their charm. The journal is tied together with waxed cord and this particular journal has a little pocket inside with raven stamps.

To win this journal, comment on this blog post with your favorite Christmas book or movie. I’ll draw one name from the commenters on Sat. November 7th. I’ll ship the journal anywhere on the planet, and I’ll also offer a free download of any book from my backlist, including The Billionaire’s Christmas Bargain if you haven’t picked it up already.

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NaNoWriMo – Probably No

I’m always tempted by NaNoWriMo. I love the energy, excitement, and especially the challenge.

However, I’ve had a tough few months. In fact, the year has been pretty jam packed. I’ve been pushing as hard as possible for quite awhile. Three billionaire books releasing June 2014, April 2015, and November 2015. Mama Connagher in Jan 2015. One Cut Deeper in May. Two Cuts Darker in Feb 2016.  So all that promo – as well as edits to keep the production pipe going – plus of course the new words. I had big deadlines in June and September, with constant edits on opposite works throughout. Plus I’ve written a short story <5K and a novella 33.5K since too.

Not to mention some other “fun” things just for me.

I’ve had at least 2-3 NaNoWriMo months since June.  So while I’d LOVE to do it again, and certainly have enough to work to do so…

The smart me says I need a break, even if the stupid me says sure, bring it on!

I’m neck deep in edits right now anyway through next week.  Hard, good, but deep edits requiring 10-15K new words by the time I’m done. Once I’m done with them, I have a feeling the initial excitement of NaNoWriMo will be over and I won’t be tempted to join.

We’ll see, though. You know I love a challenge.

And I have LOTS of books I want to write.


I try to do this once a year, especially when my faith in what I’m doing feels strained and tattered. When the words are hard and I second guess everything. When the family is oblivious to how much I do. How little time I have to write. How little sleep I get as a result.

I do this… and it’s all worth it.

What’s my secret to refilling the Well? I take a little walk with Gregar, Shannari, and Rhaekhar.

The Rose of Shanhasson was the first book I ever finished. If you’re new around here, you may not know the whole saga. Those blog posts are long gone, lost in a domain transfer many years ago. But Rose is more than my first book. It’s my first love. It’s the first book that taught me to dream in rhyme. Where I learned to dream in words, rather than letting the movie play in my head.

It’s far from the first draft (I have sworn to permanently silence my sister if she even thinks about ever bringing that first awful draft out in public). It went through major revisions over several years.  Both my personal revisions after years of RWA contest circuits — and then my first editor’s revisions (that publisher long ago shut their doors). I was so thrilled when Dorchester requested a full, and agonized for YEARS waiting on an answer that never came. Another publisher closed their doors.

I still remember some of the things I had to change over the years with bittersweet fondness.  Like the sur’ami aspect (hello, budding bondage slave/Master writer) which I hacked out long before I submitted it to Drollerie. My editor at the time didn’t like me calling Varne “the Closest Blood” because she read it as Closet.  Though we changed it to Nearest, he’ll always be Closest in my head.

I know the characters so thoroughly that I could pick it up and write any of them today without having to refresh my memory on their voices or their backstory. They live in my dreams. They always will. There’s some indescribable magic that I find woven in those words. Maybe it’s the blood, sweat, and buckets of tears I shed on that story over the years, but I love it. So much.

The Shanhasson series is as close to my deepest darkest heart you’ll ever see without meeting me in person and getting me drunk. Laughs.

You might be surprised at the violence and darkness – mixed with the hope and love. There’s pain and death and agonizing loss. And the greatest love of all. Each book is not Romance (spoiler: characters die) but the trilogy ends on a huge happy ending reunion high note that I hope makes up for the hell I put you through to get there.

So much love. So much blood.

The only story that even comes close….

Charlie’s One Cut Deeper. And maybe that’s why I love him and Ranay so much too. Yes, there’s a Master/slave relationship too. Maybe my muse was trying to get back to that original vision of long long ago. Ranay reminds me of my early Shannari, before I wounded her heart. Literally. Before she had to learn to kill to protect herself. I don’t think Ranay will ever have to go that far. Charlie is more than eager to do any killing needed to keep his heart safe.

I thought of Gregar often while working on Two Cuts Darker. He’s still the first, the most honored, the deadliest of all. But his gift lives on in Charlie and his brother, Vince. The Shadowed Blood will always ride in my dreams, and when I’m especially lucky, he shows up in my stories too.

She pointed her sword at Gregar. “Back off.”

The Blood took a step closer, pressing the sword tip into his body. Her jaw tightened with determination and she pushed a little harder, puncturing his chest. Smiling with anticipation, Gregar pushed back. A little closer, a little more steel pressing into his body.

She shifted her grip on the hilt, fully prepared to skewer him. A coldness settled on her features that told Rhaekhar she’d killed before and often. Very impressive. He liked a hint of danger in a woman. Evidently, so did Gregar.

“Go ahead,” he taunted, his low voice echoing with amusement and his trademark wickedness. Shannari shivered and her eyes widened. “Run me through. I shall greatly enjoy it.”

Her gaze flickered to the smaller wound she dealt to Rhaekhar’s neck earlier. “Are you all crazy?”

“Gregar is… special. He used to be a Death Rider.” At the blank look on her face, Rhaekhar added, “An assassin. Death Riders delight in sacrificing blood to the Great Wind Stallion. Blood sacrifice is a very great honor among us.”

She jerked her sword away. Gregar wiped his hand across his chest and licked the blood from his fingers. “Would you like a taste?”


I Survived!

August and September were rough, but I made it. I turned Two Cuts Darker in on time, though it did come in a tad shorter than I expected.

I had some problems with this book that just made it harder to work my way through. The mind is a tricky thing sometimes and if my mind isn’t in the right place, the words are slow to come. I’ve been putting mental work into this book since May or even earlier–but the words were like pulling teeth. I had it plotted. I knew the characters. But I kept second-guessing my decisions.

Partly because I let reader expectations get into my head. It’s much easier to write a book when I’m writing it FOR ME. I don’t care if so-and-so won’t like it then. All that matters is that I’m happy with it. But the first book did well enough that I read many positive reviews, which is fantastic. But then you start worrying if the next book will match up to the expectations of the readers who enjoyed the first one. I joked with Molly that in some ways it’s much easier to deal with bad reviews. Then I can say, “HA, I’LL WRITE A KILLER STORY TO SHOW YOU!!”

Good reviews are harder to deal with sometimes, as crazy as that sounds. Will they like this as much? Did I make the right decision? Should I do xyz instead to make so-and-so happy?

YOU CAN’T WRITE THAT WAY. I know that, but it took me awhile to silence the voices that didn’t matter, and concentrate on the ones that did.

When I pitched book 2 to my editor, I didn’t expect Charlie and Ranay to be major characters. They’d show up, sure, but I just didn’t see a lot of carryover between those characters and the new ones I intended to introduce. But so many readers wanted more about Charlie, and I had enough time in between books, to start thinking, huh. Maybe I should plan more scenes for him.

Which meant a different plot than I’d originally sketched out.

Which made it more difficult to weave two separate story lines together.

Which made something as easy as POV a difficult decision. Because One Cut Deeper was first-person in Ranay’s POV.  I needed to stick with that for her voice. But Vince didn’t want to talk in first-person, so his story line was in third. That can make for messy story mechanics.

I wanted to include Charlie’s POV at least a little, but he wouldn’t cooperate for so long that I finally gave up and skipped him entirely. Only after I turned the book in and told Alissa I wanted to try, did he open up a little. Worse, he wanted to talk in first-person PRESENT.

Those scenes may not stay in the book. They may make it even messier. If we cut them, I’ll offer them as extras here on the blog.  Charlie’s head isn’t an easy place to be. He knows what he is and there’s no softening of those instincts and needs. It can make for a very dark place to be. So those scenes are short, and not nearly as crucial to the story as Ranay and Vince.

All in all, this was one of the hardest stories for me to write. I ended up very happy with it, but man, I really sweat bullets and blood through this book. I didn’t write it like any other book. Because I had two story lines, I had two separate folders in Scrivener and I wrote them like two separate stories, even after the lines merged near the last third.

I worried that I wouldn’t have enough sex to keep it in the same level of heat as One Cut Deeper… and then I couldn’t get the guys out of the bedroom.  I had two couples to keep up with after all.

I even ended the book with two separate sex scenes for two couples. I think that’s a first for me.

I pulled some very late nights. I used up almost all of my vacation except for the already-scheduled days off around the holidays. Dark & Early did NOT work this time. I relied on the 10PM-1AM or later window, while still getting up at 5:45 AM to get the kids up for school. I start the Evil Day Job at 6:45 AM. Some days I was exhausted by 2 PM and I fell asleep after dinner for a nap several times. Keeping up with the kids’ busy schedule with marching band season in full swing and basketball tryouts right around the corner was rough. Keeping food on the table each night, ditto.  I literally can’t remember what I regularly cook for dinner. Toward the end, we did more frozen pizzas, tortellini, bottled sauces, sandwiches, soup, etc. Easy stuff or quick things in the freezer.

Of course I also had edits on The Billionaire’s Christmas Bargain to pull off these last two months too.

All in all, I’m exhausted and ready for some pleasure reading, crochet, and cross-stitching. I have one more task to complete for this month (other than edits on Darker when they come):  Finishing a cute magic-themed novella. I have until 10/30 to get it finished and edited.

Otherwise, the rest of this month is going to be about rest, relaxation.

And planning what I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo.

Soooooo Busy

The next 6 weeks are going to be balls to the wall all the way.

With school back in session, I’m only getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night. I have to get up by 5:45 to start the to-school routine, so D&E would be 4 ish and I just don’t think I can do it right now. I’ve been staying up late and hitting bed more around midnight. We’ll see how long I can keep that up. The Evil Day Job is not full-on stress right now at least. I’m busy, but it’s not OMG we’re so far behind!  Whew, so good timing there.

Since my last update, I’ve done two rounds of edits on The Billionaire’s Christmas Bargain (final title!), finished a short story for the BDSM GoodReads group, fully plotted Two Cuts Darker and grinding away on it, and flying by the seat of my pants (mostly) on a fun wizard story for a Here Be Magic anthology.

The wizard story needs to be done 9/1 – 9/15 at the latest. I’m about halfway done, maybe a third done (wince) depending on how long this sex scene goes on, targeting 20-30K at the most.

I have a ton to do for Two Cuts Darker yet, but the story is clear in my head. It’s just slow going at the moment. I know eventually if I keep hammering away, I’ll look up and be ready to just fly through the final scenes.  Right now, that finish line still looks a long ways away. I’ve been editing as I go to keep in the story all the time, as much as possible, so that will help. It needs to be done by 9/30, though, and I don’t have much vacation left (unplanned, at least). If I get in a bind, I can steal a few days from the week I’ve got slated for Thanksgiving.

I’m hoping to share a newsletter soon with the cover reveal for the Billionaire story. I’ve also seen the cover for Two Cuts Darker and it’s AWESOME. Different – yet very cohesive with One Cut Deeper. I can’t wait to share them both with you!

I’m looking for help naming a fantasy land in the wizard story, so stop by Here Be Magic tomorrow for a chance to win a gift certificate and be named in the acknowledgements for your help!

Headed to the Farm

It’s been a rough few months and I’m sooooo ready for a nice break!  I’m packing up the monsters and heading to Papa’s farm tomorrow for several days. They’ll ride horses (as long as the heat and humidity isn’t too horrible) and I’m hoping to get a boatload of words done.

I have so much to do.  Getting away will hopefully let me focus and concentrate.  I need a change of scenery and I can’t wait to sit on the back deck and look out over the fields and pond while I write.  The only sad thing is that my beloved sis won’t be able to come this time, but I’m hoping we can hook up in early August before the monsters go back to school.

I hoped to leave tonight after work, but I just have too much to do yet.  Fold laundry, clean up the house a bit, pack, load up all my computers and notebooks, all the food and snacks I’m taking to Dad’s.  The worst part will be trying to get the kids up before noon.  They’re definitely on summer hours:  stay up all night and sleep all day.  I guess if they don’t get up, I’ll leave them for That Man to deal with!

Billionaire #3 Update

I made my deadline! Actually had enough room to spare to do several good edits passes, added a new scene to tie up a loose end, and then wrote the synopsis and blurb. I think I read it through 5 times, and there are parts that still get me a little teary.

This is a holiday novel, and so I wanted to include lots of sentimental, special elements. Kelsey had a HARD life, poor thing, and Harvey is so damaged that she despairs of ever pulling him out of the darkness. But she drags him kicking and screaming into the (Christmas) lights. There are a few bombshells and a sweet moment for Donovan and Lilly at the end. All in all, I’m very pleased with this book.

The only thing that’s bugging me is the title. We can’t use The Billionaire Grinch as I pitched it (trademarked) so we’re brainstorming other alternatives. Right now, it’s tentatively titled The Billionaire Who Hated Christmas, but that’s likely to change. If anyone has an awesome Billionaire + Christmas Grinch/Scrooge title to recommend, I’d love to hear it!

Unofficial (working) blurb:

The Recluse: Billionaire Harvey Caine has despised all things Christmas since his parents died in a car accident during the holidays three years ago. He’s become a shut-in, trapped in his family mansion and tormented with guilt. The only person allowed inside is Gordon Maxwell, his parents’ long-time friend and employee who practically raised him, and the only thing keeping him alive is his determination to win back control of Caine Enterprises from his aunt.

Maxwell knows a lot of Caine secrets, including the fact that Harvey’s parents were involved in a BDSM relationship. Desperate to get Harvey some help, Maxwell decides to hire a Mistress for the holidays with the hope of giving Harvey something else to live for than his obsessions and guilt.

The Maid: Since Harvey’s a full-blown Christmas-hater who refuses to allow anyone inside his house, the only way Maxwell can get professional Mistress Kelsey Marley inside is by pretending she’s his niece who needs a job and a roof over her head for the holidays. Kelsey has the perfect French maid costume meant to drive the billionaire mad and immediately disrupts his entire life with a sultry tease.

The Christmas Bargain: Kelsey knows exactly how to push the billionaire’s buttons, but they’re getting too close, too fast and Christmas is just around the corner. If Harvey finds out she’s been bought and paid for, this holiday might go down in his ledger as the absolute worst Christmas ever.