Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Casting Call: The Magic of Lavender

This has never happened before, but when I was writing this novel, the hero and heroine I envisioned are married in real life. I didn't know it until after I'd finished and began searching for images for the two. Maybe it's kismet. :)

I've long admired Diane Lane for her qualities - she can be a strong heroine with a bit of insecurity, but her strength always surfaces when the situation calls for it. My own heroine of The Magic of Lavender endures quite a bit of upheaval in her life, and struggles with it, but gracefully. Diane Lane's classic beauty is perfect for Joss - she can literally dig in the dirt but cleans up to goddess standards nicely. :)

The hero, Eric Hendricks, starts out a bit stoic. Like Joss, he's widowed, and has closed himself off to hope for another lasting love. Of course, when he meets Joss, it rocks his world. :) Josh Brolin's both cool and hot, and fits Eric perfectly. Josh has had many different looks over his career span, but this pic's Eric all the way. :)

The character of Gram is both hard as nails, and soft as, well, a grandmother's embrace. 

Judi Dench has those qualities and so much more. For a senior, she can be a kickass heroine when needed.

Now, the Lord of the Underworld requires someone versatile. Someone who can play cunning and charming with equal verve. 

Christopher Walken fits that bill. He's handsome, but you never want to turn your back on him . :)

Finally, Sheree - the demon waitress. Yes, this role also requires someone who can inspire sympathy or revulsion. Someone beautiful, sexy and quirky. That someone is Helena Bonham-Carter.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Magic of Lavender now available!

This full length paranormal romance is out now on Amazon and Smashwords - yay! I'm very excited about it. This is the first in The Goddess Connection series. Every woman should be treated like a goddess!

I have several more novels in this series in mind to follow. In each, the heroine will be somehow connected to a goddess. Her lifelong quirks will become strengths once she finds her true place in the world, and accepts herself for who she really is.

In The Magic of Lavender, Joss is related to the goddess Iris. Conflicting tales exist about this goddess - she's either the Messenger of the Gods, or Goddess of the Rainbow. I used a little of both. :)  Many figures from Greek mythology appear in this story. I'm a research nut, and love to incorporate cool myths and legends.

Here's the blurb:
Jocelyn Gibson forgot about the realm of magic. But it never forgot her. Gram always told her: don’t ignore your magical gifts, it will insult the family. But Joss didn’t realize her gifts included channeling the energy of powerful ley lines. Or that her family included a goddess. Family connections come in handy when the Lord of the Underworld kidnaps local vet Eric Hendricks. He’s an amazing lover, but Joss didn’t know she loved him until too late. With a little help from the Goddess Iris, Joss defends the new life she’s forged, and helps save the town of Boiling Springs from destruction. Once Eric escapes Hell, can she stop loving him to keep him safe?

I hope you'll check it out!

Stop by tomorrow for the Casting Call for this novel, and on Wednesday, you can read the first chapter. :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A little bit wrong for Six Sentence Sunday

Thanks, as always, to those who stop by each week! Your comments really mean a lot.

This week I'm switching to my contemporary interracial erotic romance, Just the Right Amount of Wrong, just released on Amazon and Smashwords - yay! To set this up, Sara Mullaney's putting together a business plan to help local farmers. In high school, she'd been in love with Ravelo Pena, who her parents said was all wrong for her. Until she can launch her business, she's working as a restaurant server, and gets a surprise one night:

Mierda santa,” murmured a man, who quickly added more loudly, “I did.”
The familiar deep voice wound down her spine. She froze when she met the dark stare of Ravelo Pena. That stare – like black diamonds – always cut her to the core. Especially at close range. She completely agreed with his first statement: holy shit.

Check out the fantastic Six Sentence Sunday authors here! Have a great Sunday!

Friday, May 27, 2011

First Chapter; Just the Right Amount of Wrong

Just the Right Amount of Wrong

 Chapter One

Arriving for her evening shift at The Brick Oven, the sight of cars jamming the parking lot might have made Sara Mullaney’s coworkers groan. But Sara saw what no one else could: possibility. The economic downturn had hit this area of North Carolina hard, from restaurants to farmers. But with a vision for the future honed since high school, she knew how to make them both strong again.
Her plan was already taking shape.
Pulling her long blonde hair into a ponytail, she rushed to the employee entrance and pressed the buzzer. “Hey Kev.” She flashed a smile at the server who opened the door.
He closed the door behind her. “Oh good, I thought maybe everyone called off tonight.”
Hanging up her jacket, she threw a glance over her shoulder. “Not Amy again?”
He scowled. “And Jared.”
“Damn.” With that crowded dining room, she wouldn’t have a moment of rest. “Can’t we call someone else in to cover?”
He arranged six plates on a tray and hoisted it to his shoulder. “Tried. Apparently everyone’s out.”
Or checked caller ID before answering. Sometimes she hated college kids. Especially because she wanted to be one again.
“We’ll be fine.” Her false bravado drew a lopsided grin from Kevin before he pushed through the door to the dining room. It faded as he passed the manager.
Mr. Walker bustled in. “Sara, deliver these dinners before they get cold. The hostess filled in and took orders, but she can’t do it all night.”
Ignoring his slight, she grabbed a tray and stacked plates onto it. Food still steaming, she noted. Pointing that out to Walker would be a useless exercise. “Right away.”
She hustled into the noisy dining room toward Table 16, to the left of the bar. Setting the tray on the stand, she balanced four plates and carried them to the table. “Sorry for the wait, folks. Who had the steak?”
Mierda santa,” murmured a man, who quickly added more loudly, “I did.”
The familiar deep voice wound down her spine. She froze when she met the dark stare of Ravelo Pena. That stare – like black diamonds – always cut her to the core. Especially at close range. She completely agreed with his first statement: holy shit.
What the hell was he doing back in town?
The blonde to his left leaned into him. “Mine is the shrimp scampi, if you were wondering.”
A none too subtle reminder to get moving. Sara set the dishes on the table.
Shrimp, rhyming with pimp, and trampy. Okay, that was a stretch, but with her brassy hair and Botoxed complexion, that’s how Sara would’ve remembered her order. “Here you go. Fettuccini alfredo?” As she passed the other plates, she felt the weight of his intense gaze but managed to avert her own. “Anything else?”
Ravelo’s brow spiked up. “Yeah.”
The tray slipped in her hand. The last time he looked at her that way, his hand had snaked down her panties. The next week, he’d left for college. She hadn’t heard from him since. So much for eternal devotion. “Yes sir?”
He visibly stifled a smirk and held up a beer bottle. “Another one of these.”
“I’ll have a margarita.” The blonde arched her brows too, but not in appreciation.
“Coming up.” Supressing her sigh, Sara couldn’t get away fast enough.
A man at Table 18 across the aisle sneered, “We need someone to take our order here.”
“Be right with you.” People at a few other tables watched with angry stares, the hostile-hungry look Sara dreaded.
As she passed, the man grabbed her arm. “We’ve been waiting twenty minutes.”
Shrugging from his grasp, Sara forced a polite tone. “I apologize for your wait. We’re short staffed tonight.”
The man opened his mouth, but let out only a grunt, narrowing his eyes while raising his head. She didn’t need the man to say anything else. Her body sensed every inch of Ravelo standing behind her.
Rav spoke in a low, controlled voice. It conveyed danger, but also provocation. “If you expect any service, I suggest you keep your hands to yourself.”
Yeah, like Ravelo had, she wanted to add, but blanked her expression, not revealing nervousness or annoyance. Nothing but patience. Like the boss said, the customer was always right, even if he was an asshole. It took more control than usual when Ravelo’s presence caused her body temperature to rise a few degrees.
“Now look here, boy.” The man shifted his big belly around the table as if to rise.
Boy? Sara stepped toward him, and shot a glance at Ravelo, not long enough to get lost in his deep, dark eyes, or imagine those buff biceps locking around her. He’d grown up quite nicely. The bastard.
To Rav, she whispered, “Please sit. I’ll take care of this.” In a normal tone, she added, “Thank you, sir. I’ll be right back with your drinks, if you stay seated.” She stressed the last. To the others, she said, “And I’ll take your orders next. Can I get you anything from the bar in the meantime?”
Not that assholes improved with alcohol, but the man might temporarily forget his hunger. Her breath uncurled as Ravelo returned to his table, though not before shooting a hard glare at the man.
Though he stayed silent, Sara found it almost impossible. She’d grown tired of those who’d lived in town all their lives and leapt at any opportunity to prove their superiority. Rav used to cringe whenever anyone called him ‘boy.’
After taking their drink order and heading for the bar, her neck hairs prickled at hearing the man mutter, “Slimy jerk. I’d like to take him down a peg or two.”
Unbelievable that the same prejudices they’d dealt with as kids still existed. An uneasy glance reassured her Ravelo might have changed. Oblivious to the jerks across the aisle, he tilted his head toward the woman speaking close to his ear. His gaze locked with Sara’s, sending a shot of warmth through her sure as an injection of tequila through her veins.
No, nothing had changed for her either, dammit. Though he’d neatly forgotten her years ago.
After her scholarship ran out, she’d come home while he finished college. Waitressing paid the bills while she took night classes, but Ravelo appeared to be on the fast track to success, leaving them worlds apart.
Sara glanced at his blonde companion. Yep, he’d moved on in every way.
Delivering the drink orders, she found it ironic some might now see her as a failure, while he enjoyed success. Her parents wouldn’t see it that way. They’d made her life hell while she dated him in high school, never tiring of listing aloud the myriad ways in which Ravelo Pena was wrong for her.
At the time, she didn’t care if Rav was wrong for her. He made her happier than she’d ever been.
She brushed away those thoughts. In time, she’d turn things around. She had plans.
“Have you decided on dessert?” She swept her gaze around the table, holding Ravelo’s a little too long.
The blonde bristled. “I’ve decided I want another waitress.”
Stunned, Sara kept her tongue, and her temper, in check.
Rav leaned away. “I think we’re done.”
No need to remind her. His disappearance long ago had made it abundantly clear.
The woman’s icy glare made Sara’s blood boil. Did she view her as competition? Or white trash? She hoped for the chance to someday prove neither was accurate.
Flipping her hair behind her shoulder, the blonde sighed. “Yes, let’s get the hell out of here.”
To where? Her place? The sting of imagining their silhouettes against a bedroom window surprised Sara. “I’ll be right back with your check.”
Already, this night felt too long. Turning toward the kitchen, she instinctively swatted at the obnoxious man’s arm as he reached for her again.
“Hey bitch.” The table shook when he struggled to a stand. “If you think I’m paying to be treated like lowlife, think again. Let’s go.”
Sara could hold back no longer. “Is that your scam? Harass the waitress for a free meal?”
Hurrying toward them, panic filled Kevin’s face. “Everything all right here?” He tilted his head with an imperceptible nod toward the kitchen.
While the customer ranted at Kevin, a glance revealed what he meant to warn her: Mr. Walker hastened toward them through the aisles. Despite Kevin’s soothing tone, the customer’s voice rose. Yeah, the guy intended on a freebie, and apparently wasn’t about to give it up without a fight.
Walker ushered them all to the exit. “We’re very sorry. It won’t happen again.” He shot Sara a sharp glance. The prompt for her to jump in any time with an apology.
Steeling herself, she returned his sharp glance. Fat chance. “I won’t be manhandled.” Or belittled by management. To her disappointment, Kevin stood silent.
The manager’s chest swelled, and he spoke on a heavy sigh when the customer renewed his argument. “We’ll comp your meal. This time.”
Biting her lip, Sara couldn’t hold back a frustrated breath before brushing past. “I have to ring up a bill for a paying customer.”
His tone cool and snide, the man called, “The one you’d rather be manhandled by?”
Heat flashed across her face. The son of a bitch.
Only the manager’s glare held her in check, but she silently challenged Mr. Walker to defend her. He didn’t.
Humiliation burned deep.
She kept her focus on the floor while delivering the slip to Ravelo’s table. “Thank you. Have a great night.” Hers was shot to hell, with no hope of improvement. It worsened when she cleared a table in the next aisle, watching in her peripheral vision as Ravelo and company moved toward the exit. Allowing herself a full glimpse, tension left her when he aimed a warm smile at her. The plate she held slipped onto the floor, shattering.
“Damn.” Bending, she swept the bits with a napkin.
Kevin appeared with a broom and dustpan. “What’s with you tonight?”
Not Ravelo. The sudden image of her sitting beside him at the table where the other blonde had sat arrested her. No, he obviously preferred his women a little more brittle these days. She let the movements of Kevin’s sweeping clean away that thought too.
“Good question.” She thought she’d put the past behind her.
She never expected it to slam home again.
Just past midnight, the last customer left the restaurant.
“Finally.” A hot shower to strip the stink of this place from her, and a warm bed, and Sara would be content.
Kevin helped her clear the last two tables. “Throw your dishes in my bucket.”
Her head snapped up when the manager called “Sara,” from the front desk.
With a good-natured wink, Kevin scooped up the last of the silverware. “Can’t escape the lecture.”
Unfortunately. Sighing, she wiped her hands on the rag. “Don’t wait for me.”
His grin faded. “Are you sure?”
After Sara had mentioned how dark the employee parking spaces at the back of the lot had grown since spring filled out the tree branches and blocked the light, Kevin had walked Sara to her car.
Tossing her napkin atop the pile of dishes, she sighed. “Yeah. This could take awhile. Have a good one.”
Hoisting the bucket, he grinned. “Good luck.”
Patience would be better. She might unleash her frustration on this jerk. “Yes?”
His chest billowed, but he only briefly met her gaze. “I’m disappointed in your behavior tonight.”
“My behavior?” Anger flashed to the surface.
He sharpened his tone. “We can’t afford a bad reputation. I’m going to have to let you go.”
“You can’t be serious.” No other decent-paying restaurant in twenty miles would hire her. They weren’t hiring, period.
With finality, he stressed, “Completely serious.”
“Mr. Walker—”
He held up a hand. “Clock out. We’ll mail you your final pay.”
“You prick.” The words escaped before she could contain them. “You stood there and apologized to that asshole knowing full well he was wrong.”
“Clock out, Sara.” Walker looked down his nose at her. “Now.”
“Gladly. If you can’t treat your workers with any respect, I don’t want to work here.” Striding to the kitchen, she tried not to think of the bills waiting to be paid.
Leaning against the stainless steel counter, Kevin straightened. “How’d it go?”
About the same as the rest of this night. After inserting her time card into the machine, she filed it into the rack for the last time. “He fired me.”
“No way.” Frowning, Kevin fell into step with her.
His kindness made the rest of the ugliness appear worse. “I was going to quit anyway.” After a year or so.
“Hey, if you need a place to crash, you’re always welcome at my place.”
Putting on a brave face, she felt her smile go crooked. “Thanks.” She pulled him into a hug, which turned awkward when his release came slower than hers. “I guess I’ll see you around.”
Lightning streaked across the sky as they stepped outside. Spattering drops quickly turned to a downpour. Pressing the button on her keychain, she sprinted toward her car’s headlights and climbed inside. Shifting into first, she honked the horn and pulled out, trying not to notice the gas gauge hovering at a quarter of a tank. One more thing to worry about.
Too much had been left to chance lately. Maybe being fired was a good thing. Her plans would either work, or not. But now she’d be forced to learn the truth, either way.

Just the Right Amount of Wrong

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What's coming up?

This year's BlogFest promises to be better than ever! Have you signed up yet? 

I have! And I'll have some tempting goodies for you. More about that later. (Yes, I'm going to keep you hanging, lol) 

First, you should visit here to sign up your blog. It's free, and there are no minimum requirements. 

Thanks so much to Cinnamon Brown for organizing this fun event!

Also - just a reminder today that Paty Jager's in the hot seat at Author Chat - click on the badge to the right to access it for the next few weeks. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you! She has an exciting new release, a very cool Native American paranormal, so check it out!

I know I'd said earlier that this year, I was going to slow down on blogging. But while my computer time's been very limited due to circumstances, there's still so much going on! I have more news about a new release next week I'm very excited about. More re-releases from previously pubbed stories that I'm putting out myself. Next month will be very busy, especially with Rock Bottom coming out (yay!) from Lyrical Press. In July, more re-releases, plus *another* new release, which I'm also excited (and a little nervous) about. I'll be visiting some blogs of wonderful author friends, and hope you'll visit.

I'm hoping soon to get back to my Writing Tips blog series too. Craft is something at which I work very hard, and now that I'm releasing some stories on my own, it's imperative. Many times, I'll share links about great writing tips on my Facebook page, so if you haven't already clicked "Like," I'd love it if you would now. :) It's very simple - click the Like button at right! Thanks so much.

And by the way, I've made it easy for you to see all my Blog Series  - just click the tab above! I'll add links as I post them. Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Casting Call: Just the Right Amount of Wrong

To celebrate the release of my contemporary interracial erotic romance, here's a peek at the hero and heroine who played the parts in my head while I wrote this novella.

Sara Mullaney's tough, smart and sometimes a little hard-headed. Raised in a small North Carolina town, she's tired of the prejudice people -- especially her parents -- show to the local Latinos. In high school, she and her boyfriend Ravelo Pena had planned to revive the area economy and help the local farmers. When Rav left for college, she waited, but never heard from him. Seeing him again brings too many emotions rushing up - anger and love, determination and fear.
Maybe I watched The Princess Bride too often (one of my daughters loved it too much, lol) but Robin Wright Penn made a big impression on me. She has all the qualities I envisioned in Sara.

Ravelo Pena's a typical overachiever. His parents, born in Puerto Rico, push him hard to succeed. But when it comes to love, they'd rather he'd find a nice Latino girl. When he leaves for college, they urge him to move on in his relationships too. As much as he hates to leave Sara behind, he wonders if his parents are right. When he returns home, he has no doubt - they were wrong.
Rav's also tough, smart and stubborn. Sounds like a match made in heaven! lol Also extremely sexy, Benjamin Bratt fits Rav to a tee. Don't you think? :)

Just the Right Amount of Wrong is available on Kindle and Smashwords for just $1.99. I hope you'll check it out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New release - Just the Right Amount of Wrong

Just the Right amount of Wrong is now available on Kindle and Smashwords for just $1.99!

This novella's been sitting on my hard drive for years. It's been through countless revisions, and the story line's finally where I want it. 

When I saw this image, I knew it was perfect for the cover. :) This story's a little steamier than I usually write, but these two characters knew what they wanted - each other.

Here's a short excerpt:

For an awkward moment, he hesitated, a mix of admiration and fear plain on his face. “Hello.”
Though she suspected the answer, she asked, “Would you like to come in, or should we go?” Her stomach tightened when she imagined him stepping inside, closing the door and locking it, that predator heat shining in his eyes. So much for being immune to such thoughts.
“Sorry. The last time I came to your front door, your father said something about removing some of my vital organs before he’d let me cross the threshold. Has he grown more tolerant?”
Flashing a grin, she recalled the night so long ago. “Probably not. But he moved to Florida, where I’m assuming he deals with many more nationalities than here.” Sara never felt comfortable at Rav’s house either. His mother’s tight smiles did little to hide her disapproval, and when she learned that Sara knew Spanish, stopped conveying her dismay to her son – at least while Sara was near.
“Does he know I’m here?” Rav peered inside with no hint of humor.
The question took her off guard. “No.”
“Then I shouldn’t come in.”
Respectful as ever. She never could understand why her parents objected to Rav, always twice the gentleman as other boys. Except that he was Latino; ‘not our kind’, her mother used to say. They held even his politeness against him, claiming it false.
Remembering only made her angry with her parents’ smallmindedness all over again. “I’ll get my purse.”
Spying the solar lights on the dining room table, she cursed herself for forgetting. If she didn’t let them recharge outdoors today, she’d suffer the darkness tonight. Grabbing them, she shut the door behind her and smiled. “Ready?”

I hope you'll come back tomorrow to check out the Casting Call for this story!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Clever marketing

What an awesome marketing plan! I'm sure you've seen this, but The Centers for Disease Control put out a blog post instructing people on how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse.

Yep, the genius who thought this up deserves a raise. Or a contract as a Hollywood promoter. :) How savvy, to tap into the current zombie craze to get out their  own message? Wish I could hire this person to promote my books.

Another example of an excellent marketing tool is this book trailer:

It looks more like a movie trailer, doesn't it? And it's only 30 seconds long. Oh, to have the big production bucks!

But the CDC blog post proves you don't need the big bucks. Just a great idea.

Have you noticed any really great promotions lately? Or have you thought of any for your books? Please share!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More San Francisco Dreams for Six Sentence Sunday

Thanks so much to everyone who visits each week! Your comments always give me a boost, and I love reading the SSS entries. I try to visit as many as I can.

To celebrate the recent release of my historical set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, here are another six from San Francisco Dreams. To set the scene, Norah Hawkins has just joined a card game on board the train where Gerard "Mac" MacKenzie's playing. Before boarding the train, Mac had glimpsed Norah picking the old biddy's pockets, so he's rightfully wary of her, and yet also attracted to her:

Hell’s bells. There she sat, in all her pretended glory. Mac’s father had always told him he’d been born under a bad moon, and he’d have to steal a four-leaf clover to have any luck. This woman following him bore a worse ill omen than a banshee. A beautiful one, yes, with an entrancing smile, but he’d already glimpsed her true nature. 
Oh, he’d love to acquaint her with his rules of play. 

Mac bears a striking resemblance to Gerard Butler, doesn't he? ;)