My special guest today is fellow Carina Press author, Abby Wood. Abby is here to tell us about her recent release, Consent to the Cowboy. This is another book I’m looking forward to reading and one that is locked and loaded on my Palm reader. I’m thrilled to have Abby visit today, especially since she’s talking about some of my favorite things–rodeo and country fairs.
Thank you for having me here today, Shelley. It’s a pretty exciting time around my house lately. Not only has Consent to the Cowboy been released at Carina Press, but it’s also county fair time in my part of the country. To celebrate, I’d love to give away a copy of my book to one lucky person who leaves a comment today.
For me, county fair means rodeo time! These are small time rodeos where town favorites compete for the championship. Year after year, we attend and cheer on our favorite rider. From barrel racing, calf ropin’, bull ridin’, and team ropin’, every highlight of the rodeo draws a big crowd. Heck, if two hundred people show up, that means almost the whole town attended. We start’em young too. Our four year olds are sat atop the back of a calf and let loose within the ring. We grease up pigs and encourage our children to go catch their dinner.
Spirits run high, beer flows fast, and words take on more meaning. It is the one chance to meet with your neighbor who lives five miles away and get caught up on how their crops are growing, how many heads of cattle they are planning to run through the winter, and to catch up on the local gossip.
Behind the fencing, personal bets are taking place. Although, that’s not what we call it…it’s bartering. I’ll give you one goose for three laying hens if O’Reilly wins the next round! We always come home with new animals. Gotta watch out for some of them seasoned farmers though, they’ll hoist a mean rooster off on the innocent adults who have just begun their journey into country livin’.
The rodeo also means a stressful time for the women. We find out who is the best cook, the best pie baker, and who canned the most over the summer. We brag about how many nights we stayed up listening to the lids popping on the dill pickles sitting out on the counter, and we’ve sworn our man not to utter a word about the steak we burnt last week. Bad news like that stick in other women’s memories for a long time and you’ll forever be asked to bring a jello salad to the next potluck. You have to earn the right to bring a main dish, ya know.
I’ve attended quite a few fairs. Some are more centered around carnival rides, entertainment, and businesses trying to sell their products. I really enjoy them, but it’s the small local fairs that feel like a family reunion and gathering spot for the neighbors that I love the most.
Do you go to any fairs in the summertime? What kind of fair do you have in your area?
Surrounded by beer-swilling, skirt-chasing cowboys her whole life, barmaid Daphne Norris has no intention of ever settling for any of the men in her Podunk hometown. So when bronc rider Will Hanson sends shock waves to her core with just one glance from his striking green eyes, no one is more surprised than her.
But Will is no ordinary cowboy, and he can see that Daphne is no ordinary small-town girl. He can sense in Daphne the quiet strength and devotion needed to satisfy a man like him, a man who needs to be on top, in every aspect of his life.
Daphne hasn’t ever succumbed to her submissive desires before, and Will awakens her in ways she never imagined. While she’s not prepared to give him her heart, she agrees to Will’s offer of three days of intense pleasure, and then she’s walking. But Daphne falls hard and fast, and now she has a decision: return to a normal life, or give up everything for Will…
Multipublished author Abby Wood lives in the Pacific Northwest. A huge animal lover, she enjoys the many animals on her farm and the wild ones that roam the forest. In her free time, she loves to ride motorcycles, garden, go fishing and play tennis. She loves to write stories that allow readers to escape into a brand-new world.
My special guest today is debut author Kaily Hart. Her book Picture This came out at Ellora’s Cave on 29 June. Today Kaily is asking what makes a reader choose a book by a new author. I hope you’ll participate because I’m interested in your answers too.
Shelley, thanks so much for having me here today. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be able to share the same cyber space with you!
Being one (a new author that is), I’m particularly interested in this question. Especially the answers!! Honestly, we all know it’s an investment to buy a new author, essentially an unknown, unproven entity. It can be a risk, right? Personally, I have my own criteria when it comes to new authors and it usually involves something compelling. Something has to grab me, whether it’s the authors style or voice, something unique in the premise of the story, a favored story element or it could be as simple as a description or a line of dialogue that tugs at me from the blurb or excerpt.
I’ve never thought I was that influenced by reviews (because people have different tastes), but I’ve never bought a book on a bad review, either. I don’t think the title makes that much of a difference, although something ‘hoakey’ might give me pause. I have noticed the character names occasionally make me think, especially if I’ve known someone with the same name and the experience wasn’t a pleasant one. If there’s a perceived challenge to being able to relate to the character for some reason (name, occupation, situation or choices), I might really think hard about it because it might prevent me from being invested in that character.
Rightly or wrongly, I know I’m influenced by the book’s cover. It’ll catch my eye such that I might take the time to look at it further when otherwise I might have just skimmed over it. I try not to let a cover sway me though. I know that an author often doesn’t have a lot of say in the cover’s end result. Many times I’ll skim the blurb, but read the excerpt because it will give me a feel for the authors writing and style. Can I really read a whole book of this? I’ve also been known to flip through a book in the bookstore to about a third of the way through and just read a couple of pages. I also like to know that in the event I do buy the book and like the author, there’ll be more books! I’ll check out their website or blog to get a sense of that. Really, there are many factors that influence the book buying decision, especially for a new author, and it can be a very individual thing. Of course, I’m hoping Picture This has that something special to draw readers to this new author!
So… what makes YOU buy a new author?
Desperate and young, Jillian Moore did something she knew would one day come back to bite her in the ass. She’d posed nude. For money. Years later, and on the fast track to a successful career, she’s still haunted by her mistake. She can’t help but wonder when her past will catch up with her.
Samuel Steele is not short on female attention, but the women who warm his bed pale in comparison to the fantasy he’s created of the seductive temptress in the painting hanging prominently in his bedroom. A fantasy that has ruined his once satisfying sex life. When he discovers that her exact likeness works in his building—for him—things get…interesting.
It’d been sold, again, three months earlier. Private auction, anonymous bidder and there was no way for her to find out who’d bought it. All she knew for sure was that it’d been a man. It figured. Damn, she’d been close this time. Not that she would have been able to afford to make even one bid herself. It had opened at fifteen thousand and after some fast and furious bidding had finally gone for a cool seventy-five thousand—dollars. Jeez, she’d probably be paying off her student loans for another twenty years and some guy had dropped seventy-five grand on a picture?
Jillian sighed. She wasn’t even sure what she’d do if she could uncover the identity of the new owner. She’d kept telling herself she’d be able to buy it one day once she got established. She’d planned on it, she’d counted on it. It was why she’d tried her damndest to keep track of it for the past ten years. Her only hope now was that it would sit in some private collection, gathering dust and never see the light of day. Yeah, right. She’d never, ever been that lucky. All those years ago, who would have thought? Deep down though she’d known and it had plagued her ever since. When she least expected it, it was going to come back and bite her on the ass. She just knew it.
I’m giving one person a chance to win a copy of Kaily’s debut release, Picture This. All you need to do is answer Kaily’s question and I’ll pick one comment at random to win. I’ll post the winner’s name on Friday. Good luck!
My special guest today is Leah Braemel, a friend and fellow author at Carina Press and Samhain Publishing. Leah has a new release out called Texas Tangle. It’s currently locked and loaded on my reader, and I can’t wait to find time to read it. Meantime, I asked Leah a few probing questions about herself and her writing. I think she deserves a medal – any woman who lives in a household of males is definitely braver than me!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
That’s good that you asked for me to tell a little, because there’s not much to tell. I’m the only Canadian-born member of my family – my mother, father and sister are all English. I’ve been married for 32 years and hope to last another 64 (only half-kidding on that one) and have two sons who have just finished school (one high school, one college) but still live at home. Oh, and I have a cat, Spike, who is very disgusted that my lap is often taken by my laptop instead of him. (If you noticed, they’re all males, even the cat. So no frilly stuff in this household. They won’t even allow flowers on the wallpaper, the upholstery or the curtains. Plain colors only please. Talk about testosterone poisoning.)
As for my writing…I wrote my first story when I was around seven. My sister and I were addicted to a brand new science fiction show called Star Trek. (Yes, this is during its first run, before it was known as “The Original Series.” My sister was so enamored of it that she started writing her own scripts. That was the first time I twigged to the fact that people wrote books, that I could write down the stories that I’d tell myself when I went to bed each night. I wrote down one of my ideas and showed it to my sister who was my very first critic. She was also my last critic because after that horrific review (which was probably dead on the mark) I vowed to never show anyone my writing Ever. Again. And I didn’t. For close to 40 years. Oh, I wrote lots of non-fiction manuals for my job, and I wrote newsletters and articles and such, but my fiction I kept hidden and didn’t dare show anyone until the mid 90s. I can’t remember why I trusted that particular friend with my writing but she told me I should try to get published. But I blew her off. “Everyone’s trying to get a book published, I wouldn’t stand a chance” I told her. And I kept that stance until about 2004 when I met a lady on line who was trying to get published. I showed her a bit of my writing and she also encouraged me to get published. She became my critique partner, but after opening her first critique I wondered how the heck she thought I could get published, there were comments made on every line. Of course, she was right on the money and soon I’d learned about showing versus telling, and passive verbs versus active verbs. Then she did the unthinkable. Because I’d been waffling about actually submitting any of my work to an editor or agent, she issued a dare. Next thing I knew I was registered for the 2007 RWA conference and had an appointment with an editor who asked to see a partial of my story.
Your new book, Texas Tangle, is a ménage a trois. What attracted you to write a ménage a trois?
Hmm, that’s a good question. Texas Tangle wasn’t supposed to be a menage until Brett walked in as a secondary character. Then one thing led to another, LOL, and the story demanded it. Menages are always a challenge to me because although I do know a few couples (triples?) who have had them in real life, they’re not generally socially acceptable. After Private Property came out, I had a reader mention that she’d loves to read about menages that end up turning long term, so I played around a bit with Texas Tangle to see if I could find a situation where I could see it being an obvious solution that all parties could live with.
Where did the idea for Texas Tangle come from?
Partly from a trip to Texas I took a few years back, and partly because I love the rural way of life (I was raised on a farm.) As for Nikki’s being robbed, that’s drawn straight from real life — being robbed, excuse me, burgled, steals more than your belongings, they steal your peace of mind. I’ve known quite a few women very similar to Nikki and a couple like both Brett and Dillon, so when I started writing the story, they just seemed naturals for that setting.
What do you tell people when they ask you about writing love scenes or ask the inevitable question of your husband – do you do all that stuff?
It sometimes depends on how I’m feeling or how they ask. Most times I laugh it off and say I have an active imagination and my husband grins and says he loves being my research assistant. There have occasionally been people who are a little more judgmental in their questioning so I have to bite my tongue and not ask them if they would ask Jeffrey Deaver or Harlan Coben how many people they’ve killed in real life researching their stories. (Not that I’m comparing myself to Mr. Deaver or Mr. Coben, of course.)
What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy Sunday?
Depends upon the season — throughout the winter, sitting inside by the fireplace, curled up beside my hubby watching a movie. In the summer? If it’s too hot, then I’m sitting inside curled up beside my hubby writing while he watches golf.
What tip would you give to an aspiring writer who is just starting their writing journey?
Write! Seriously. You can’t find your voice until you’ve written for a while. And if you do plan on getting published at some point you have to have something finished to submit to an editor. That can only be accomplished by writing until you can type those two lovely words “The End.” (Then the editing begins, but that’s another story.)
Brett reached for Dillon’s front door then stopped. Why couldn’t Dillon have been home? At least that way he knew he could control himself. Even though he’d stayed away a full month, he still hadn’t gotten her out from under his skin.
Get it over with. Give her the news, then stay far away.
He lifted his hand and after a moment’s hesitation, knocked on the door. Maybe he’d get lucky, and she wouldn’t be here. Maybe she’d gone into town with Dillon.
The door creaked open, and there she was, wearing one of the white shirts he’d left behind, a pair of cut-offs beneath. She’d left the top three buttons undone, giving him a tantalizing view of her cleavage. His cock punched against his zipper at the thought of unbuttoning the rest of the buttons, of spreading the fabric wide and tasting her nipples.
Why didn’t he just cut off his balls and hand them to Dillon on a plate?
“Brett?” She looked startled to see him. “Come on in.”
He followed her into the kitchen, watched her fiddle with the coffee maker. Nikki never fiddled and, more importantly, she wasn’t looking at him. He made her nervous. Did she worry he might try something on her again?
His fists clenched at the thought that he might have scared her, made her think he might take what she wasn’t willing to give.
“I didn’t mean to drive you away.” She made a gesture of impatience. “I’m sorry, I’m being selfish. I just…I’ve missed you.”
The heated blood racing through his veins headed south when she smoothed her hands down her front, tightening the fabric over her breasts, accentuating that she wasn’t wearing a bra.
Did she realize how beautiful she was with the color high in her cheeks when she blushed? Longing spun his senses until he felt like he’d been caught in a twister, especially when she turned those soulful eyes on him. The lost tone in her voice cut right through him, pierced defenses he didn’t know he’d erected.
Leah is giving away a download of her ebook Private Property to one lucky commenter. All you need to do to enter the draw is either ask Leah a question or tell us what you say to people who give you a hard time about reading romance. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 14th of July.
The theme for this week is dancing. I’ve chosen the dancing scene from Tea For Two where my characters Hayley and Sam first meet.
Tea For Two by Shelley Munro
Aware his trio of stalkers hovered in the vicinity, waiting for an opportunity to approach, he tightened his grip on the woman and took her hand. Crazy. He should thank her for the save and leave. But he didn’t. “Would you like to dance?”
A slight frown creased her forehead. She opened her mouth, as if she might reject him.
“Please,” he said hurriedly. “You haven’t even given me a smile yet. I look upon that as a challenge.”
“Women don’t say no to you, do they?” Amusement sparkled in her beautiful blue eyes. He wondered idly what her dark hair would look like without the pins and jeweled combs that restrained it so tightly. Probably really good against his sheets.
“Not often,” he said, guiding her to the dance floor with a hand at the small of her back while battling his instincts to pounce. Too bad. He was losing the fight. Big time. “You wouldn’t want to spoil my good image. Word might get around. My reputation would suffer.”
She chuckled, the sound rich and musical, without artifice. “Your reputation seems quite healthy. I’ve seen you in the gossip magazines with a different woman on your arm each time.”
“You recognize me?” Damn, a woman he instinctively liked, and she had preconceived notions. The wrong ones, if she read the gossip mags. Damn, he hated this, although he couldn’t change the fact his mother was minor royalty and his father had more money than most people dreamed about. Their fairy-tale marriage had sparked public interest that had never waned over the years. If anything, the arrival of children brought more attention. It seemed, in this world of throwaway relationships, a lot of people craved happy endings.
“You’re a very photogenic figure, Mr. Norville.”
“Sam,” he said, taking her into his arms. “You can call me Sam.” She was about six inches shorter than him—the perfect height. Nothing worse than a sore neck from bending at an awkward angle. They moved together easily, bodies brushing in time to the music. At least she hadn’t flounced off in disgust, he thought while he navigated the crowded floor. “Are you going to tell me your name?” He offered her his best smile, infusing it with charm and sincerity, when all he really wanted to do was bite. His smile slithered into a smirk at the thought. It wouldn’t be a problem. Laving away the sting with the lash of his tongue would be half the fun.
“H-Helen,” she said.
Cute stutter. Combined with the freckles and perfume, it added up to compelling—for him at any rate—and a woman who didn’t do casual. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Yeah, right. Try telling that to his body.
“You can’t believe everything you hear or see, especially in the media,” he said, returning to their earlier conversation.
“Is that so? But the stories seem fairly consistent. There must be an element of truth.” The sparkle in her eyes gave away the fact she was teasing.
A couple bumped into them. Sam gathered her closer and moved them out of the main traffic area on the dance floor. Their legs glided together and his unruly hormones leapt to full alert. Difficult to hold back his groan of pleasure.
“You can’t let my reputation scare you off. That would be like trying a man without giving him a hearing. Innocent until proven guilty, remember?”
Helen lifted her head and her mouth stretched into a wide grin. It echoed in her blue eyes, taking her from quietly attractive to striking. Sam stared, fascinated by the difference a smile made. “Just what do you intend to do with me, Sam? We’ve only just met.”
Strange how the stutter had disappeared. He’d rather liked the small imperfection. “We can discuss our relationship over a drink.”
“A drink sounds nice.” Her full lips twitched with amusement. “But really, it’s too early to call what we have a relationship.”
He chuckled, attracting the attention of several couples near them on the dance floor. For once he didn’t care about the public scrutiny. “I respond well to a challenge. I also bite. You should take that as a warning.”
Helen grinned. “I must update my immunization shots.”
Go on…I dare you. Check out my new release–Tiger By The Tail, book nine in my Middlemarch Mates series.
Middlemarch Mates, Book Nine
One plus one equals three.
Tiger shifter Hari Daya takes one look at Ambar Patel’s photo and is smitten. Further research heightens his fascination. An arranged marriage would work, except the lady isn’t buying and tells him to take a hike.
Ambar is already involved with human Jake Quinn. Casual pleasure and lovin’ works best for her since she dreams of traveling the world and delving into new experiences. The frisson of heat and desire she feels for Hari is unacceptable. There will be no tiger mate for her.
Jake Quinn has no idea either his lover or his new friend are shifters, but there sure as hell is something weird going on in his head. As much as he enjoys sex with Ambar, he’s thinking about Hari too. Suddenly there’s kissing and togetherness way past his comfort zone. The slide into sinful pleasure with both Hari and Ambar is easy—it’s the relationship dynamics that give them headaches and make them wonder if they’re making a huge mistake.
My special guest today is Natalie Acres who has a new release out today called Bridled and Branded. An intriguing title, isn’t it? Bridled and Branded is a a western MFM contemporary romantic suspense. I asked Natalie a little about her writing.
What attracts you to writing cowboy/western stories?
Give me a big green tractor, a cooler full of ice cold beer, and a couple of strong cowboys to toss a few hay bales around and I’m a happy girl. I love reading and writing about the sexiest of all men–cowboys.
Wow, sounds good to me. Where did you get the idea for your story Bridled and Branded?
My love for horses inspired Bridled and Branded. I’d love to read a western with a strong heroine steadfast in her commitment and love for training/showing horses but just as dedicated to her cowboy hero. Bridled and Branded materialized because this novella is the kind of short western romance I’d like to read.
What writing tip would you give to an aspiring writer just starting on their writing journey?
Believe in yourself.
Great advice! Tell us about Bridled and Branded.
Lynlee Lewis is an old-fashioned girl who might as well take the lead in a modern day romance. She met a boy, when he was just a boy. She fell in love, but he barely noticed. Now, Lynlee wants to place a woman’s brand on Blaine McCain, but will his past prevent her from staking a claim?
Lynlee’s storybook romance isn’t without its villains and obstacles. Add in the fact that Blaine rarely travels behind a bedroom door without company and Lynlee wonders why she’s so taken by the cowboy in the first place.
Throw in a deadly situation and Lynlee finds herself in the midst of danger when a knife is shoved against her throat. Worse still, the man behind the blade is traveling with a wife who is no stranger to Blaine McCain. And they want to turn Blaine’s life upside down with a package full of problems.
The following excerpt is unedited pending final approval:
“You wanted our attention,” Rhett began. “You got it. What do you want?”
Blaine released him. “Yeah, what’s so damn important that you’d go to this extreme?”
His eyes watered. “My Sarah Beth passed away last week.”
“She what?” Rhett asked, compassion settling in his eyes, which Blaine had rarely seen.
“She passed away.”
“What happened?” Blaine asked, feeling a little odd since he had been one of the participants in the ménage experience with Rhett and Sarah Beth.
“She jumped off a bridge,” Sarah Beth’s husband explained.
“She did what?”
“Told you she was touched in the head,” Rhett reminded Blaine.
“You’re the one who brought her home,” Blaine said, jumping to his feet and backing away before her husband took an opportunity to deck him. “She wasn’t even that pretty, best I remember.”
“Blaine McCain, I ought to kick your ass right here,” Lynlee said, studying her captor. “Sir, I’m sorry for your loss. I really am. It’s a shame these two didn’t have a gentleman’s sense of values to keep their cocks in their pants, if not their hands, but you see here, you can’t blame your wife’s actions on two men who barely knew her.”
“Lynlee, so help me God, I don’t need your eloquent way of taking up for me,” Blaine said.
“No, you don’t. What you need are some manners and maybe even a conscience, but I doubt you’ll find either tonight.”
Rhett snickered. “You got that right.”
Lynlee extended her hand. “I’m Lynlee Lewis, by the way. We met at the party, and you said your name is Scott Sanders, but I take it that’s not your real name?”
“Yes,” he said, taking her hand. “The name is Scott Sanders. Sarah Beth was my lovely wife.”
“Well, I’m sure she knew how much you loved her,” Lynlee said, backing away from the situation and making it evident in the finality of her tone. “Gentleman, I’ve had a long night. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Blaine looked at Rhett and then Scott. Rhett nodded and Blaine said, “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll say your peace and leave.”
Scott shifted his weight. “I wanted to look directly at the two men responsible for Sarah Beth’s downfall and see if I found even a smidgen of remorse. I blame you for what happened, and I can’t understand what she ever saw in either one of you.”
“Good thing,” Rhett said. “I don’t buck that way.”
Blaine ignored his friend and addressed his enemy. “I’m walking Lynlee back to her camper. If you go near her again,” he paused, set his jaw, and then grated out, “I will harm you in a way you’ll never forget.”
“I don’t want an escort, Blaine,” Lynlee snipped. “And I sure don’t need you to hold my hand.”
“Well, ain’t that a blessed shame? Besides, I need you to hold mine.”
Natalie Acres is the best selling author of the Cowboy Sex Series which includes Sex Party, Sex Games, and Sex Camp. She’s also the author of the #1 Amazon Best Selling Western/Erotica title Cowboy Boots and Untamed Hearts which now has a sequel, Cowboy Boots and Unfinished Business. To find out more about Natalie Acres, visit her on MySpace at www.myspace.com/natalieacres. To view more information on Bridled and Branded go to: http://www.bookstrand.com/bridled-and-branded
I came across this paragraph about kissing that really made me laugh.
The next moment he pulled her so sharply into his arms that she felt her stays poke directly into her breasts; her brooch unhooked and fell to the stone floor. “Fletch!” she cried. He took advantage of that, and stuck his tongue directly into her mouth. Directly! And—and swept it about, as if she were some sort of cupboard he were cleaning.
“Awk, urg, no!” she shrieked, shoving him away. For a small woman, Poppy had a lot of strength.
My first kiss was very prim and quite proper. There was no cupboard sweeping involved. Thank goodness! I have kissed some frogs though.
My research on the Internet indicates there are a lot of people—teenagers in specific—who worry about kissing and the first kiss.
My special guest today is Madelyn Ford, author of My Avenging Angel. Check out Madelyn’s cover – isn’t it gorgeous? Today Madelyn is telling us how her story came to life….
My Avenging Angel was the little novella that almost didn’t get written. I was in the middle of edits with my first published novel, Faith Revisited, when just by chance, I had run across an open submission call for Samhain on a loop. It was for an Angels and Demons anthology, and since I write about angels, I thought it was a no brainer. Until I sat down to write the darn thing.
Having less than a month before it had to be turned in, I agonized over the story, uncertain even who I was going to write about. I was already in the middle of a story about the Archangel Gabriel, but knew it would far exceed the 30K limit, so that was put aside. I was discussing a book my friend Kris was reading, something that had to do with summoning a demon, and I said flippantly, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I wrote about a witch who accidently summoned the wrong angel.” And voila, My Avenging Angel was born.
Having never written a novella before, I spent the two weeks waiting to hear back in a state of complete anxiety. Novellas are a tricky beast, for them to really work, they have to be done well, and truthfully, I wasn’t certain I had accomplished that. This was Samhain, one of my dream publishers, so I waited. And waited. Nail biting ensued. The day I was supposed to hear back came and went. And nothing. I knew others had received rejections. They posted on that loop that they had and yet nothing showed up in my mailbox. Had they not received my manuscript? Had the rejection email gotten lost? I obsessively hit the refresh button until I could no longer keep my eyes open, and finally with a heavy heart, I went to sleep.
The next morning, the first thing I did was check my email and my heart sank to my toes. It had finally come, the rejection of all rejections. (Now I know where my oldest gets all her drama, lol) I was terrified to open the email, caught between fear and abject curiosity, and stared at it for several minutes. Then swallowing the huge lump in my throat, I clicked it open.
Thank you for giving Samhain Publishing the opportunity to review your work, My Avenging Angel, for possible publication. I really enjoyed your story and would like to extend an offer of publication for this manuscript for the Angels and Demons Anthology.
I paused, went back, read it again, and then sat in stunned silence. I seriously thought I must have read it wrong, so I read it again. This continued throughout the day. I must have read that email two dozen times, just to confirm I hadn’t dreamed it.
So for those of you who want to be published someday; you can’t have a career in writing if you don’t ever try. First write your book, it will be your greatest accomplishment. Then find yourself a really good critique partner. They are priceless. And finally keep submitting. All it takes is that one editor who has faith in your ms. Keep persisting and you’ll find him or her.
My Avenging Angel blurb:
To save her life, he must break a covenant—and lose his heart.
An Angels and Demons story.
It’s Victoria Bloom’s twenty-fifth birthday. But is she out celebrating? Oh, no. She’s in a stuffy old attic with the Three Stooges—a.k.a. her so-called spirit guides. There’s a demon who wants her dead, the same one that killed her mother two decades ago. No worries, say the Stooges. All she has to do is summon an angel. What could go wrong?
Well, plenty when you summon the wrong angel. The next thing Tory knows, she’s got one very bad-ass, pissed-off and sexy Archangel on her hands.
Michael, mighty warrior, leader of an elite team of demon killers, is shaking in his heavenly combat boots. Not because he finds all humans distasteful. But because he’d rather face Lucifer himself than the woman his soul has just recognized as his mate. Binding himself to a mortal, one who will eventually die, is the one path he’s sworn never to follow.
It’s too late now; his fate is sealed. With one touch, she becomes as necessary to him as the air he breathes. He will move heaven and earth to protect her—but against a demon as powerful as Asmodeus, heaven and earth may not be enough…
Warning: This book contains one bad-ass Archangel with a fiery, um, sword, a witch who blows things up, one nasty demon who is trying to kill them both, and ghosts who make interfering their mission. Steamy sex is had, even with the voyeur ghosts—though Tory is still blushing.
And here’s an excerpt:
Looking at the items around her, Victoria Bloom knew something was missing. She had the pentagram outlined in chalk on the old attic floor. At each point rested a large white candle, all of which was surrounded by a circle of protection. Ginseng burned on the makeshift altar, the scent so overpowering it almost gagged her. The Grimoire of Armadel was opened to the correct page. Ari, one of her spirit guides, insisted she was ready, but still she hesitated. The one thing Tory considered to be essential for the ritual to work was the very thing she lacked. Belief.
Funny really, considering Tory was a medium, meaning she saw ghosts, and she was preparing to perform an ancient ritual, all on the advice of a woman who had been dead for almost four centuries. But she couldn’t deny something had to be done. On her twenty-fifth birthday, her powers had begun to emerge, powers her guides would soon no longer be able to camouflage. Calling forth an angel, though, seemed a little extreme, even for her.
“Hurry up,” Ari whispered in Tory’s mind. “You don’t have all day.”
“Yes, the spell must be performed before the sun sets. You don’t want to accidentally call forth a demon, do you?” Sam prodded and Tory sighed. Sometimes she wondered what it would be like to be the only voice in her head.
“Boring,” Thomas added, his nasal tone a reprimand. “Now get the sigil drawn so we can get this over with.”
Tory snorted but didn’t bother arguing. It wouldn’t do her any good anyway. One of the three guides always seemed to have the last word.
In the center of the pentagram, she carefully copied the sigil from the ancient grimoire. The three stooges, something she had affectionately termed her guides when she’d been a child and continued because it annoyed them so much, had debated for days, poring over the book before finally coming up with a name. Tory would have picked the most powerful warrior to aid her but the stooges had been adamantly against her choice. It seemed even though Michael’s mission was to protect humans, he didn’t like them very much.
Setting the book aside, Tory picked up the dagger. With the stooges egging her on, she sliced the blade across her palm and gasped. It stung like a bitch. Eyes watering, both from the incense and the cut, she pressed her palm in the center of the sigil, leaving behind a bloody print. Then she moved out of the protective circle and began to chant, calling forth the angel Zadkiel. The words flowed from her, unknown and mysterious, a testament to how much power now flowed through her, energy Tory feared would be her downfall.
A blinding light burst forth within the center of the pentagram, causing her to draw a hand up to shield her eyes as the words faltered on her lips. Time seemed suspended. The rays illuminated every corner of the attic and Tory held her breath, fearing for the first time more than just the evil hunting her. As her body was enveloped within the white beams, she waited for the burn.
Slowly, the light dimmed and she was stunned to find herself unscathed. But still Tory hid her eyes behind her hand. Who knew what the hell stood on the other side. And since her father was, if the bastard still lived, a demon-worshiping warlock, hell was entirely possible.
“You foolish human. I was in the midst of an important meeting. Send me back. Now.”
Her hand fell from her face, her gaze latching onto the figure in the middle of the pentagram. Holy shit. It had worked. And he was huge. Close to seven feet tall with long black hair cascading around broad shoulders and rippling biceps. His arms were folded across his massive chest, fists clenched in obvious agitation, causing the veins to bulge prominently.
The theme this week is risky business. Immediately I thought of Soldier of Fortune since both the hero and heroine work in the private security sector–a risky business indeed!
Soldier of Fortune by Shelley Munro
Outside, two of their specially armored cars waited for them along with local drivers who spoke the language. His men donned protective vests and hats and readied weapons, both rifles and pistols, before climbing into the vehicles. The new recruits waited for instruction.
“You two in the back vehicle. Follow Simon’s instructions. He’ll explain about the things to look for. Mac, Tai, you’re with me in the lead vehicle.”
Mac entered the rear of the vehicle with Tai and Garrett while Louie took the passenger seat. He checked the link between the cars. “Come in, Simon.”
“Louie, we’re good to go.” Simon’s voice crackled through the radio.
“Basically we’re checking the route we’d like to use to take the CBS reporters tomorrow afternoon. If it’s a no-go, we’ll try the longer alternative route. Anything that raises your suspicion let me know, particularly if you see anyone watching us and talking on their mobile or using it to take photos.” Louie rattled through the rest of his spiel automatically. The hair at the back of his neck prickled insistently, a sensation he knew not to ignore. Louie scanned their surroundings as the driver pulled out of the compound. Nothing out of the ordinary. Locals going about their business, mostly males, with a few women dressed in head-to-foot black, their faces covered while they scurried down the edges of the road, carrying shopping baskets. Two battered vehicles drove slowly past, a radio blaring in one.
The palm trees they passed provided little respite from the hot afternoon sun. Sweat trickled down Louie’s back, making his shirt cling, his skin itch. He ignored it, concentrating on their surroundings.
“Man at three o’clock,” Mac said in a calm voice.
Louie’s gaze swiveled to the location she indicated. He spotted the man seconds before the ruins of a bombed building hid him from view.
“He’s moving off,” Mac said.
“Checkpoint,” the driver muttered, slowing the vehicle.
Louie cursed and slipped his gun out of sight but retained it in his hand. Local soldiers ran the roving checkpoints. They shot first and asked questions later. Cooperation and patience were key to remaining alive. If all else failed the driver would barrel straight through and hope for the best.
“Tell him we’re going east,” Louie instructed the driver.
The driver spoke rapidly in the local dialect, answering questions fired at him by the young soldier.
Louie relaxed fractionally when the soldier waved them through. “Good man,” he said to the driver.
They made good progress despite the slow-moving traffic and the wait for a British army convoy to pass through an intersection. Overhead, a Black Hawk helicopter buzzed like a whining mosquito, drawing sporadic fire from a patch of undergrowth.
“Don’t like this,” Simon said via the radio. “More gunfire than usual. Not many locals either. What’s your gut say?”
“Something’s going on.” Louie agreed, the back of his neck tingling in warning. Danger lurked in the shadows. Somewhere. “Guess our quiet period is over. Can you see anything?”
Up ahead, two vehicles jammed on their brakes, coming to an abrupt stop. Behind the second recon car, another stopped, blocking their retreat. Magically, the few remaining locals faded into the background, leaving a deserted street.
“Ambush,” Simon shouted.
Gunfire cracked directly behind them. A signal. Bullets rained down. From the front. From the rear. The rat-a-tat-tat of guns filled Louie’s ears, made them ring.
“Fire!” Simon hollered through the radio.
Louie concentrated on the two vehicles in front. “Shoot to kill.” Simon would watch their six, but he gave orders anyway. “Mac, check our rear.”
Like a freak hail storm, the bullets pelted their vehicle. Cautiously, Louie opened his door. Crouched behind. Fired.
Mac, Tai and Garrett fired with rapid precision from behind lowered windows. The jackhammer of AK-47 assault rifles echoed between the buildings, replaying in his head. All the time he was aware of Mac behind him. Part of him wanted to throw her back in the vehicle, keep her safe. He started to move and froze when a bullet whizzed past his cheek.
“Fuck.” He ducked behind the door, forced himself to concentrate. Just him and his weapon in hand. Shoot to kill. Fire. Fire. Fire! Bullets hit the door, kicked up dust until his eyes smarted. Men shouted. Somewhere in front of him, a man shrieked for help, his French accent casting him as one of the insurgent volunteers from abroad. Fanatics, they came from all over the world to fight for the cause.
Time slowed, the insurgents returning a barrage of fire. Sweat dripped down Louie’s face. He swiped it away, fear clutching at his chest. They couldn’t keep this up for much longer. Should they make a run for it? He fired another round of shots, assessing the situation, making decisions.
“Rear car is retreating,” Simon reported in a terse voice.
Thank you, God. Something was going right.
The driver moved the second car up, giving them better cover. Another of the insurgents fell to the ground, didn’t move. Grimly, Louie fired until all return fire ceased. The guns of his men fell silent, but they remained watchful. Louie cautiously peered around the door to scan the vicinity. When no one moved, he ordered everyone back into the vehicles.
They’d been bloody lucky this time. He swiped a weary hand over his face. Mac… Damn! Thoughts of her had distracted him. Time to get a grip. He’d get them all killed if he didn’t start thinking with his head instead of his dick.
I’m a huge fan of Gail Carriger and her Parasol Protectorate Series. The books are a combination of Victorian history, paranormal vampires and werewolves and comedy. I read and loved the first book Soulless and have the second book, Changeless on the top of my reading pile. It will be a reward read for when I finish my next round of edits, due to arrive in two days.
Raelene Gorlinsky has a wonderful interview with Ms. Carriger about her world building and how she came up with the idea for her series. Here’s the link to World Building with Gail Carriger