RT14

I made it to New Orleans for my third Romantic Times conference! My roomie, Ann Martin, and I had a blast touring around the Garden District and French Quarter today. We walked nearly five miles even though we also took the streetcar frequently (best $3 we spent all day).

The first place I wanted to visit was the Lafayette Cemetery. I was thinking Marie Laveau was buried there, but she’s actually in St Louis #1, so we crossed over there and then dropped down into the Quarter to have some beignets.

It was hot and humid – so bad I had to take a second shower before venturing out for dinner (and sunburned my shoulders since I forget sunscreen). Ann had a librarian event so I was on my own. I headed back to Daisy Duke’s since it was right across the street and familiar. Standing in the door waiting to be seated, I saw someone wave me over and ask if I was with RT. She invited me to eat with her party …. and then I realized she was Shiloh Walker! Talk about nice! We had a great dinner.

Now I’m already back to the room and trying not to dose off. I’m such a party animal! Even made a cup of crappy coffee but still can’t keep my eyes open.

Ann and I are planning to head to the Mississippi water front tomorrow morning since events don’t start until 10. Maybe we’ll hit Cafe DuMonde!

If you’d like to see pictures, head on over to Facebook. I posted a lot!

Realizations

It dawned on me tonight as I cooked dinner, though I’m sure it won’t come as any surprise to those who know me.

I’m stressed.  I knew that…but I didn’t realize how much it’d been affecting me.

I’ve just been out of it.  I haven’t wanted to cook.  I haven’t wanted to write.  The words won’t come.  I haven’t wanted to exercise.  I’m tired all the time.  Not sleeping the best.  Yet I don’t have anything to show for it.

I have been reading…but not fiction.  Lots of parenting books.  I have a teenage daughter.  Need I say more?

But as I spent nearly two hours in the kitchen tonight trying a new recipe and then experimenting some more, I realized it’d been a long time since I actually felt like cooking something that wasn’t fast and easy.  It’s like I didn’t have the mental capacity to try something new, let alone the energy to expend on a lengthy meal.

The light bulb went on.  For the first time in weeks I actually got off work almost on time.  I didn’t have to immediately jump in the car and drive somewhere to pick up someone.  I had the time to make ham and alfredo lasagna from scratch–and also a homemade cream soup using up the tidbits of wild mushrooms leftover from my Dad’s trip.

Both turned out delicious by the way.

So I have to be patient with myself.  My tank is nearly empty.  So that’s why I haven’t been writing much lately, not even the blog.  The big Evil Day Job project is winding down (hopefully).  RT is only two weeks away, so I’ll be frantic for that, but that’s at least FUN.  We’re hoping to close on the house in June so we’re already in yard sale, donate, throw away mode so we don’t have to move anything but the necessities.

I’ve got a lot going on right now other than writing.  That’s okay.  I just have to give myself time and baby my creative muse.  I’ve been stitching more and have been having a blast making all my book marks.  I’ve lost count – I need to box them up and ship them to the hotel soon.

Who knows – maybe I’ll even get my incredibly delayed Christmas gift finished and mailed.  So I don’t have to move it!!

Camp NaNOTMo

So Camp NaNo just hasn’t been going so well.  At all.  I’ve just got so much going on right now that I’ve not made any progress at all.  Between the house, my Evil Day Project (now in phase 3, sob, will we ever be done?), and all my RT scrambling, I’ve blown it.

On the bright side, I’ve used up one whole box of 250 business cards making book thongs.  I’ve mailed off some and given several away to my hairdresser, and of course we had a few boo-boos (holes punched too close to edge), so I don’t have exactly 250 book thongs, but I’m happy with how many I’ve managed to make.

Some interesting realizations while making all of these thongs:

1. 200 crimpers seems like a lot.  Until you realize it takes 4 per thong + all the ones that you drop and can’t find in the carpet.  (Those suckers are SMALL.)

2. It’d be a lot easier to store these thongs if I made them the same length.  But I just hack off another length – roughly – and move on.

3. Because I like each one to be as unique as possible.  Even if that’s more work on my part.  Sound familiar?  I just don’t like cookie-cutter approaches to anything.

4. I finally have a system down, using a single strand of black hemp or cotton, crimp the end, add a small bead, which holds the business card on the end, a charm, followed by a large bead and a couple of small ones depending on my mood.  A crimper to hold them in place.  Then a crimper, whatever small beads I want to add, maybe another charm, and a final crimper on the opposite end.

5. The silk ribbon was a huge pain in the ass because I didn’t have the right beads.  Tiny holes = huge headache, even with slender silk ribbon.  Much easier for large-hole lampwork or pony beads.

I’ve just about used up all my handcuffs and keys.  I have maybe 50 or so masks left.  I guess I’ll either be done at that point…

OR ORDER MORE!  You never know.  I’m kind of addicted at this point.

I’ll post some pictures of all my loot soon.

Colors Are Hard

I’m moody when it comes to color.

In writing, I’m all black and red, mixed in with grays and white.  Every once in a while I get a craving for brilliant blue or emerald green, but in general, my colors are solid.

However, in my non-writing life, I’m a little OCD with color.  I go through “cravings” where I like certain combinations and want to buy new kitchen towels or a new bedspread.  But after a year or so, I’m DONE with that color.  I’m glad for the item to wear out so I can replace it with the new craving!

I’ve loved blue and yellow.  Earth tones.  Antiqued reds and blacks.  Copper.  Chocolate and turquoise.  It’s crazy.  Sometimes I satisfy this thirst for color through my crafts — much cheaper than indulging in a new kitchen theme!  But even then, I get tired of certain projects because of the monotonous color scheme.  (I’ve never actually been able to complete a monochromatic cross stitch project before for that very reason.)

So now, we’re trying to pick out colors for the new house and I can’t make up my mind.  I’m afraid in a year or five, I’ll be sick of the color.  I don’t want anything brown or beige in the house.  Except maybe the wall color.

I’m trying to pick “timeless” colors.  Neutrals as my core colors, and then I can change the accessories as my whimsy changes over the years.  But if I eliminate browns, that means my neutrals become black and gray (I won’t have anything white – we’ve got three kids and two dogs).  I’ve already picked out clean black Shaker-style cabinets.  Now I have to figure out the floor color, and then the granite.

And I can’t decide.

We’ve at least narrowed the flooring down to bamboo.  The living/dining/kitchen area are all open and all the same flooring.  I can’t go too dark, since the cabinets are already dark.  But I don’t like light woods at all.  We almost went with carpet in the living room and tile in the kitchen/dining, but I don’t like the mix of surfaces.  We have that now in the rental (actually three surfaces with laminate wood in the dining room) and the carpet seams over time begin to look frayed and worn.

So bamboo it is.  But there are currently three different finishes we’re looking at.  Of course the girls aren’t helping any.  One likes this, the other doesn’t have an opinion, and Princess hates everything and can’t be pleased even if it was gold plated and blessed by One Direction.  I can’t pick the granite or wall color until I figure this flooring thing out.  Sigh.

Don’t even get me started on what flooring we’re doing downstairs in the teenage hangout.  *headdesk*  One wants ceramic tiles that look like wood, which makes the other want to puke.  ARGH!

To complicate matters, the places our builder has told us to go aren’t open on the weekend, and both That Man and I have to work.  Thank goodness for the online places that will send free samples!  I have one last sample coming this week and can hopefully finalize the flooring.  That will help pinpoint everything else.

Any favorite design pointers you can share?

Still Alive

Sorry I’ve been quiet around here lately.  The push to get the big Evil Day Job project I’ve been working on since last fall into production started last week.  I’m relieved and still very shocked that everything has moved and *knocks on wood* ran successfully last night.  I’m afraid this “easy button” will bite me later (this job runs monthly) but at least this first run was successful.  Woot!

Things are still stressful but nowhere near as bad as the last 3+ months have been.  Plus I know an upcoming project will let me work with Wanda again, so that’s super wonderful.  I can’t wait!  It’s probably been at least ten years since we got to work on a project together.

On the home front, we have faced a major stressful decision over the last few weeks.  Our lease is up in June, so we already knew we wanted to move.  I hate the heat pump in this house, we freeze all the time, our electric bill’s insane, and worse, starting this fall I have no bus service to the junior high for three years as Middle and then Littlest move schools.  We’ve been here going on four years, but we *have* to move.  I can’t worry about late afternoon meetings keeping me from picking them up on time.

But there’s nothing to rent in our price range that has at least 4 bedrooms.  Lots of mansions!  But nothing for an average family.  We’ve been looking the past year and still haven’t found anything.  So we bit the bullet and began looking to buy a house.  *gulp*  We signed a purchase agreement on a house last night.  *double gulp, passes out*

It’s in our old neighborhood before we moved here and the bus literally stops in front of the house.  The kids will have access to the community pool and playground (though they’re probably almost too old for it!)  It’s currently under construction, so it works perfectly with our lease timing, since the house isn’t technically on the market yet.  The teenagers will have plenty of space to hang out in the basement, everyone will have their own room, and I’ll still have a nice office on the main floor.  Plus the kitchen will be really nice and large.  (Our backup plan was an existing house in the same neighborhood, if it was still on the market in a few months, but the kitchen was ridiculously small.  Plus it’s been on the market since June, so there were no guarantees that it’d even still be around in April/May.)

So right after RT… I’ll be frantically packing us up to move again!  Hopefully this’ll be the last time we move until we’re ready to downsize after all the kids have graduated and moved out.

On the writing front, Mama C’s off my plate waiting on a decision, first round edits on The Billionaire Submissive are done, and I’m working on a new old project.  I’m not going to say which yet because I don’t want to jinx myself.  The words have been slow, but I’ve restarted my chain in March and chipping away every single day.  If the words start flowing fast and crazy again, I’ll let you know which one I’m working on!

Sharon Cullen’s Pleasing the Pirate

Image Two hearts are wrenched between love and duty in Sharon Cullen’s tale of a ruthless pirate and the Scottish lass who fills him with desire for something greater than plunder.

With her clan’s crops burned and their property confiscated, Mairi McFadden is desperate to free her brother from imprisonment so that he can take his rightful place as chief. Her only hope is the fierce English pirate Phin Lockwood, but the buccaneer laughs at her meager funds. His roving eyes, however, tell Mairi there’s something else he’ll take in exchange for her brother’s rescue. Though she burns with hatred for the English, she’ll do anything to save her clan.

The crown has made it clear that Phin has two choices: bring in a certain Scottish traitor or hang. And he’s not about to let a tiny, whiskey-eyed woman get in his way, even if she is pointing a gun at him. When Phin learns that Mairi’s brother is the very man he seeks, he’s more than willing to use the lass as bait. But as the moment of capture draws near, Phin is surprised by his feelings for the courageous beauty who has him considering risking his life—for someone besides himself.

Excerpt:

The sound of large, booted feet made its way toward Captain Phin’s cabin, interrupting her thoughts. The steps were heavy, methodical, steady, moving ever closer. Mairi sat up. Her palms grew moist and her heart thundered. This had to be him. Even his footsteps sounded authoritative.

She jumped up and wiped her free hand on her skirts, wincing at the protestation of her stomach. Transferring the pistol, she wiped off her other hand, then raised the pistol with both hands, sighting down the barrel as her da taught her to do.

The door creaked open and Captain Phin stepped in. All six foot plus of him. He had to duck to clear the doorway and when he straightened, the top of his blond head nearly touched the ceiling.

He locked stormy gray eyes on her. He was wearing a dark blue waistcoat with gold epaulets at the shoulders and absolutely nothing beneath it except a very large expanse of sun-browned skin.

Oh my. She had to remind herself to breathe.

His breeches were tan in color and so tight she saw every muscle in his thighs ripple. Rugged, well-worn boots reached his knees.

Mairi tore her astonished gaze from his body to his face. This was not what she expected when she pictured Captain Phin Lockwood. She’d imagined an older man, face creased by years on the ocean. Bowlegged, bent at the shoulders, a dry voice and rheumy eyes.

This man’s shoulders were impossibly wide and his eyes . . . She swallowed. She’d never seen such beautiful gray eyes.

A dark brown brow was lifted in query, a sensuous mouth twisted in an ironic smile. He crossed his arms over his naked chest and spread his very non-bowlegged legs to accommodate the rocking of the ship.

“That pistol is as big as you are, little one.”

Oh, dear. That voice wasn’t dry at all. It was smooth as the whiskey her da had kept in his study.

~ * ~

sharon cullen 021Sharon Cullen is the author of the historical romance, The Notorious Lady Anne, Loving the Earl and Pleasing the Pirate. She’s also published in romantic suspense, paranormal romance and contemporary romance.

Her other job descriptions include chauffer, laundress, cook and mediator to her three very busy kids, her husband and two dogs. She lives in southwest Ohio with her brood although her dream is to someday retire to St. Maarten and live on the beach.

If you’d like to find out more about Sharon and her books, you can visit her website. She’s addicted to social networking so you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion—books.

Amazon B&N Random House

KoKo Intervention: Bark Busters

Continuing our efforts to help calm Koko, I took her to the vet and discussed some options, specifically training recommendations.  A large noisy group class wasn’t the best idea for her, not with her anxiety, but personal trainers are $$$.  Her #1 recommendation was Bark Busters.  They were running a Christmas special, so I was able to get both KC and Koko training for the same price, with a lifetime guarantee.

That means they will come to our house, as many times as we need, for no additional cost, for the lifetime of both dogs.  Even if we move out of the state.  Of course it’s a hefty one time fee, but I’m able to make payments and I’ve already MORE than gotten the training for the $$, just in two visits, using the $100-150/hour rate we were quoted elsewhere.

Actually, the training is for US not the dogs.  We just need to know how to help her.

So far, our trainer has come to the house twice, for almost 5 hours of training.  The first time, we worked mostly with Koko, in her crate, on a leash, and free.  She barked and barked and barked at the Strange Man.  None of his techniques would calm her for long.  He’d move, and she’d go nuts again.  Forget him even touching her leash — let alone her.

However, when he pulled out the spray bottle and gave it to me, we finally had a breakthrough and she quit that mean barking.  One good pop of spray in the face was all it took.  The second time I missed, but it still shook her out of her barking rage.

Today, my Dad came over to watch.  Koko has a hate hate relationship with him and always barks at him, even though he kept her for two weeks while I went to the home office last fall.  This time, she barked at him.  No surprise.  I escalated using our trainer’s techniques and ended up popping her once with the spray bottle.

Not another bark.

She even came over after awhile and laid down between us and let him pet her.  (Usually she just paces and paces when he’s over.)

Then the trainer came by and she did bark at him some, but we were able to correct her immediately.  We practiced several different techniques and really, the heart of her issue became clear to me.  If there’s a stranger in the house, she watches them with single-minded focus.  One of the exercises required her to look up to me and make eye contact before she got the treat…and she wouldn’t do it.  She wouldn’t take her eyes off the Strange Men in the house.

So this week, I’ll be working on getting her attention on me.  He gave me several attentive exercises to practice with her that will hopefully help.  The barking is better, but she’s still afraid and nervous.  It is an improvement, though, and I’m encouraged that there’s hope.  As soon as the weather breaks, I’ll be walking her a LOT.  I need it and so does she.

But she ended up on her leash with the Strange Man leading her around.  She wouldn’t ever get in front of him – because she wanted to keep an eye on him!  But he was able to get much closer to her without her sounding like Cujo.  It’s a start!

Mama Connagher Day 8

The bad news:  I was going to post this last night, but I wasn’t feeling the best and I was too busy today.

Today (yesterday) was a take care of the wrists day.  My hands kept hurting throughout the morning, so I put on my wrists splints and worked in them all day.  They helped tremendously, though it did make me slower than usual.  I also feel a weird thing going on with my stomach tonight.

I didn’t want any coffee tonight.  I know, right?  I might be dying! [I’m still off my coffee, sob!]

The good news:  I finished the main draft!  I just have 2 more story-within-the-story scenes to figure out.  Then I’ll need to drag a few scenes around in Scrivener, compile, and see what kind of mess I made.

1947 words.  Mama’s overall word count is sitting at  52,088.  By the time I add a little more on the other thread, that should be around 55K, about what I was thinking.

Snippet:  this is a shorter excerpt – I’ve got to keep *some* secrets, laugh!  It’s a flashback scene with Jeb and Virginia and such a heartbreaker – though you don’t get it all here.  Poor Jeb!

“I still remember the first time I saw you.”  He didn’t sit down, but kept hold of her arm, standing in the shadow of the wall.  “I was in the first grade and you’d just started kindergarten.  We were outside at recess the first day of school and Bobby Wagner tried to cut in front of you in the line for the tallest slide.  I was surprised you got in that line.  Most of the little kids were too scared of it because it was twice as tall as the others, but that’s the first thing you headed for.  When you pushed him back, he knocked you down.  I ran toward you but before I could help, you stood up and smacked him in the mouth.  You said, ‘You got my dress dirty.  I hate this ugly thing but it’s Mama’s favorite.  If this stain doesn’t come out, I’m going to smack you again.’  And even though Bobby was three years older than you and could have beat the crap out of me, he hightailed it out of there lickity split.”

“Mrs. Baker came over to ask what had happened.  Why Bobby’s mouth was bloody.  And you said you’d hit him because he pushed me.  Why’d you lie for me?”

“You burst into tears.  I thought it was because you were afraid of getting in trouble, so I took the blame.  Later you told me it was because you were afraid Miss Belle would think you got the dress dirty on purpose because you hated it so much.”

Virginia laughed.  “Yeah, I hated to wear dresses.  She finally gave up and let me wear whatever I wanted after that.”

“We’ve been best friends ever since.”

Her smile slipped.  She still had her arm tucked in his and it felt so natural to drop her head against his shoulder and just look up at the sky.  The city lights muted most of the stars, but she could barely make out Orion’s Belt.  “Yeah.”

“You used to tell me everything.  If you were in trouble, you came to me.  If you needed help with homework, we did it together.  When Miss Belle upset you, you called me.  If you needed a ride, an ear to listen, anything.  Yet you’re suddenly engaged and I had no idea until my sister told me in passing.”

She turned and pressed her face against his arm.  “I didn’t know how to tell you.”

“You didn’t even tell me you were dating anyone.”

He said it softly, his voice echoing with regret and pain, not recrimination, but she still winced.  “We didn’t date, exactly.  One minute I was smacking him and the next we’re engaged.”

“Yeah,” he blew out a deep breath.  “Knowing you, I can see how that would happen.”  His voice became wistful and younger, like a kid asking for a bedtime story.  “I can see you love him.  I just didn’t expect it to happen.  Not like that. I thought…”  He sighed again and leaned back against the wall.  The movement drew her with him, shifting so she almost faced him.  “What about me, Ginny?”

She pulled back to look into his face.  Illuminated by the streetlight, he gave her a stricken look as if she’d just kicked a dog for no good reason.  “What about you?”

He raked his hand through his hair, tumbling it down over his forehead and roughing it up as if he’d been out on a bender all night.  “Yeah.  What about me.  I guess that says it all.”

Mama Connagher Day 3

I had this started last night but forgot to post before I went to bed.  I was trying to finish the first major sex scene but didn’t quite make it yet.

About 4600 words.  I’m not entirely sure because my computer shut down on me while we were out last night so I can’t remember exactly how many words Scrivener said I had.  I learned something else about Jeb last night and had to go back and drop a few hints elsewhere to set it up.  Plus sex scenes can really be tough to write.  Hopefully I can finish it up today, but I’m braced for a smaller word count as a result.  But yay, Virginia and Jeb are finally doing the deed!!

Continuing the flashback excerpt from yesterday:

God, for a man who’d only spoken to her a handful of times, he knew exactly what to say to get what he wanted.  What they both wanted, evidently, because she moved further into the room, shifting so she could get a better blow across his back with her right hand.  The first sharp crack made her flinch as hard as he did at the impact.  Tears filled her eyes and her throat ached like he’d wrapped his fist around her neck instead of his cock.  She almost dropped the crop, her fingers numb and cold.

“Don’t you dare stop,” he growled out.  “Give me another good one.  Just one more, Princess.  That’s all I’ll need.”

His head dropped back, his body arching, his hips surging forward.  His hand pumped harder, his face dark and taut.  She swallowed hard and brought the crop down again on his broad shoulder.  He let out a gut-wrenching sound, like she’d jammed her hand down his throat and grabbed a fist-full of his belly to drag back out.  Spasms shook his lean frame as he spent himself, pulse after pulse that left her trembling and aching as if she’d taken a nasty fall off her horse.  And the red marks on his back.  She wanted to sob at what she’d done even though he’d found pleasure in it.

His bracing arm bent, using his entire forearm and not just his hand, as if his strength had given out.  He dropped his head against his arm and drew a shaking breath.  “Come here, darlin’.”

He didn’t turn around or reach for her, which made her glad.  She didn’t want to see his face right now, nor him, hers.  It was too much.  Too intimate and personal.  Instead, she buried her face against the velvet heat of his back.

“Don’t cry.  Please don’t regret what you gave me.”

She didn’t realize she was crying, but he must have felt the wetness of her tears against his back.  She lifted her face and impatiently wiped her eyes, but the sight of the welts she’d given him made a fresh wave of tears flood her eyes and she couldn’t stifle the pitiful little cry.

“Ah, Princess.” He sighed and lifted away from the wall, pressing back against her.  “Let me wash up so I can hold you.”

Awkward and shy like she’d never felt in her entire life, she stepped back and watched as he washed and dried his hands.  At least he’d tucked himself back into his pants, though his jeans still hung loose and open about his hips, only staying up thanks to an old cracked leather belt.  He’d undone the buckle and loosened it a few notches, but it held enough to keep his pants up.  She couldn’t help but run her eyes over the lean lines of his body, even though she didn’t have to look in the mirror to know she was fire-engine red.  He had the body of a man who’d worked hard his entire life.  Not an ounce of fat or softness on that wiry frame, and so damned tall she’d get a crick in her neck every time she had to glare at him.  He had a surprising amount of scars, too.  Had he been in knife fights or something?  God, what kind of man was he, really?  She didn’t have any idea.

He caught her looking in the mirror and let out a low laugh.  “You’re thinking I look like I’ve been in a war or two?  You’d be right, as long as you’re assuming the thing I battled was a rodeo.”

“You got all those scars in rodeos?”

Nodding, he turned around to face her, leaning back on the sink as if he was trying to make himself less tall and possibly threatening in the enclosed space.  “Sure did.  Mostly bull riding, but I busted my left arm and three ribs last time I rode a bronc.”  He touched the torn up skin on the inside of his left forearm.  “Bone poked through.  It was a mess.  Took months to heal and it still pains me some.”

“That’s why…”  Her tongue quit working but he caught her meaning and smiled slightly.

“That’s why I had to end up bracing my whole arm against the wall, rather than my palm.  The pressure on the bone started to hurt too much for me to concentrate on the other hurt.  The good hurt.”  He kept his gaze steady on her face. “The hurt you gave me.”

A thousand questions jammed together in her brain, but she could only voice one.  “Why?”

He shrugged and dropped his gaze to his palms, studying his hands like he’d never seen them before.  They were broad and large, rough and torn and calloused from a lifetime of wrangling critters, fixing fence, shoveling manure, and whatever else the job required.  “I don’t rightly know.  I just know that I’ve only rarely ever been able to come like that.  You might not believe me given all the ladies chasing cowboys at the rodeos, but that wasn’t ever for me.  I couldn’t enjoy it, not like a normal man.  I always need some kind of pain, and to find a woman who can understand that need and help me with it…”  He sighed again and fisted his hands, pushing up to his full height.  Though he didn’t dare look back into her face.  “I can’t thank you enough but you ain’t for me, Princess.”

She didn’t understand the panic that roared through her.  Instead of crying like a virgin, now she wanted to wail like a banshee at the thought of him walking away, even though she still didn’t know him.  Don’t I, though?  Don’t I know him better than most women, if I was able to do for him what others couldn’t?  “What?  Why?”

“I’m a rodeo bum,” he said it hard, baldly, his teeth grinding on each word like he was chewing on rocks.  “You’re a Princess, the rich boss’s daughter who rides a horse worth more than everything I own in this world a hundred times over.  A thousand.”

“So?”

He laughed harshly and ran a hand through his sweaty hair.  It was odd to see him without his hat.  A permanent dent was worn into his dark hair from where the hat sat on his head.  He’d cropped his hair short with just a little fullness on the crown on his head, barely enough to even need a comb.  “So?  You said Colonel Healy would put a bullet in me for laying a hand on you.  What the hell is he going to do if he ever finds out what else we did?”

“That was different.”  Deliberately, she said it primly, which drew a snort from him.  “That was when I didn’t want you.  If I do want you, then Daddy couldn’t care less.”

Tyrell stilled, his sudden intensity searing her brain to ash.  “And do you want me?  Now?  Knowing what kind of man I am?”

Boldly, she ran her gaze over him from head to toe, taking in the narrowness of his hips and waist, the sagging jeans just barely keeping his modesty.  “Hmmm,” she hummed out as if deep in thought.  “Maybe.”

He growled and took a single step toward her before catching himself.  “Maybe?”

“Maybe,” she repeated.  “I’ll have to have another kiss or two to be sure.  Maybe more.”

“Then I guess you’ll just have to sample me again,” he drawled, his voice low and deep.  It did crazy things to her insides, melting them into a puddle. “Run me through my paces.  See if I have the staying power for a woman like you.  I promise you that I have the endurance and the heart to last until I my breath stills forever and they put me in the ground.”

She took his invitation, stepping close enough to feel the heat rising of his body like a furnace.  He smelled like leather, butter soft and fine.  Funny how his boots were dried and caked in muck, his belt cracked, but she’d never seen a better cared for saddle and bridle than when he rode by.  She’d taken to asking him to polish her tack because no one else could get the same shine.  Not even her.  “A woman like me?”

“Most of the time, you’re going to take what you want and pity the fool who don’t get out of your way fast enough.  Other times, though, you want someone to reach out and risk everything he has just to feel the softness of your skin and smell the sweetness of your hair.  Even though it’ll rile you up and you’ll lay into him like an angry polecat.  Luckily that’s exactly what I want.”

Holding her breath, she laid her head on his chest.  His arms came around her, cocooning her in his strength and warmth.  With a shudder, she let out a sigh and relaxed into his embrace, letting him hold her as he’d promised.  He didn’t press the advantage, sensing her need for comfort and reassurance.  That he’d no more hate her for hurting him than she could hate him for needing it.

 

Goodbye, 2013–What’s Coming in 2014

I’m not sad to see the end of 2013.  It was a year fraught with change on both the Evil Day Job and the homefront.  I haven’t been able to do Dark & Early this fall since school started because we already have to get up at 5:45 just to get everyone to school in time.  Plus, our first year of high school and band camp, need I say more?

I’ve been trying to write more at night — which works just fine as long as I don’t use the opportunity to get caught up on *my* TV shows, like Project Runway, Almost Human, etc.  My gas tank runs on empty more often than not, but what’s new.

The Evil Day Job turmoil has hopefully slowed down and now I can concentrate on just getting the job done.  That was a lot of stress that simply sucked down my creativity levels and eroded my weight loss goals.  There are still changes ahead but I think the main core is in place.  I’ve GOT to get back to my weight loss goals, though.  I’ve really backslidden there.  Is that a word?  Anyway, ugh, and more hard work ahead.

My main goal for 2013 was MOAR WORDS and that didn’t quite happen.  I did finally get Lord Regret’s Price finished and published, so yay!  I also wrote The Billionaire Submissive, which will be out next June.  Two releases in 2013, currently two slated in 2014, pending acceptance of Mama Connagher (once I finish her story, which should be soon).  I’d really like 3-4 releases a year but it’s just been a struggle to balance everything.

I finally started a story that was inspired by RT 2012, thinking it was a novella (35K) that now I want to make a full-length longer book.  So good words–but not a finished project yet.

I definitely want to get my PNR series complete and ready for submission sooner than later too, but that’ll have to be after I finish Mama C.  I’ve done a lot of good work and planning on it — just need to get the first draft finished.

I’ve got a follow-up to The Billionaire Submissive started, as well as a shorter Christmas novella partway plotted in that series that would be ideal for the end of next year.  After I finish Mama C, I need to get Mal’s book figured out too.  That’ll wrap up the Connagher series.

A Jane Austen Space Opera series is in flux.  Sales just haven’t been that great.  I’ll be spending some time in 2014 trying to build a little broader exposure to the series (promo, ugh, a necessary evil) and hopefully wrap up Lady Wyre’s planned trilogy.  I’d really like to finally finish Deathright too but we’ll see how it goes.  I love this world so I definitely want to do some foundational exposure that will hopefully help.

Right now, my main concentration will be building the new contemporary series, finishing up the old contemporary series, and filling in with PNR and SFR as I’m able.  Building momentum, both in words and weight loss.  That’s my general goals for 2014!