Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Sapphire Sins teaser

I'm working on a new short piece that I hope to post later this week. Mother Nature is cooperating with my desire to sit on the couch in my pjs and write. For now, I'm offering a teaser from Sapphire Sins.

The following is a brief excerpt from early in the book, chapter 5 to be exact. Enjoy!

Diana glanced down at her watch again. 5:45. Ten minutes. They had to be in the air in ten minutes. She hugged herself, unconsciously rocking back and forth again. The sun was a blazing orange ball sitting right on the horizon.
            Nora abandoned her book. She had completely ignored their conversation to that point which was weird because Nora always had something to say. Glassy-eyed, she leaned across Jen and stared at the setting sun.
            “He’s waking up.”
            Diana went rigid as she felt a familiar vibration run through her. He was there again, inside her head, returning as suddenly as he had left that morning, and he was hungry. She felt it as if it were her own hunger.
Raphael’s first thoughts were of her. Without her consent, her body responded. Her heart beat harder, louder, her pulse pounding in her ears, calling to him, betraying her to him.
She saw him clearly, standing in the shadows of the warehouse doorway, waiting. The minute the sun set, he would step across the threshold and into the night. He still wore the same brilliant blue shirt, but he no longer looked disheveled. His thick black hair was smoothly in place, and his oh-so-perfect face was clean and unmarred. 
He fixed his gaze on her and smiled.
            Soon, he whispered through her mind. We will be together soon.
            He knew where she was, and he was coming for her. The marks on her breast tingled in anticipation.
            “No, no, no, no, no.”
            Nora seized her arm. “He won’t let you leave, Di. You belong to him now. You willingly gave yourself to him.” Then she shrugged, “At least that’s how he sees it.” With that, Nora returned to her novel.
            Jen alternated between them, confused. “What’s she talking about, Di? Nora?”
            The captain spoke over the intercom, “Ladies and gentleman we are second in line for take-off. We should be in the air shortly. Flight attendants, prepare for take-off.”
            Diana ignored Jen, focusing on the movement of the plane.
“Come on, come on. Get this thing off the ground.” 
Her heart pounded so hard she thought it would burst through her chest.
            The orange glow faded as the sun inevitably disappeared below the horizon. Diana checked her watch. 5:55 on the dot.
Raphael stepped across the threshold.
            “He’s coming,” intoned Nora.
            Jen snapped, “Damn it, Nora! What’s the matter with you? This isn’t funny! Di’s scared half out of her mind.”
            Nora continued reading as if she hadn’t heard. Jen shook her arm, and Nora looked up with empty eyes.
            “What’s wrong with her, Di?”
            But Diana didn’t answer. She couldn’t. Her heart had stopped.
Raphael strode down the taxiway alongside the plane, the blue lights backlighting him with an otherworldly glow. He was the most beautiful, frightening creature she had ever seen. He glanced at Diana, smiled in acknowledgment, and turned his attention intently toward the cockpit.
            The plane jerked, and Diana snapped her attention to the front of the cabin. A flight attendant reached above her head for the cockpit phone. Diana strained to hear. The concern in the flight attendant’s face was unmistakable. Something was wrong.
            Nora’s voice was flat, “A mechanical malfunction requires the captain to return to the terminal.”
            “God, Nora!  What’s wrong with you?” Jen turned to Diana, “Something’s seriously wrong with her.”  
Diana didn’t answer, so Jen followed Diana’s bleak stare.
“Oh. My. God!  He’s on the runway. Di? He’s on the freaking runway!”
            Diana ignored her. She was sure there was no real malfunction. Raphael controlled the pilot. Diana visualized the captain and focused all her energy on him, willing him to get the plane off the ground, but it was a futile effort. Whatever power Raphael had transferred to her wasn’t nearly as strong as his own. The plane rolled to a stop on the taxiway. 
She frantically scanned the cabin, pushing down the panic and thinking through her options. She could create a disruption to distract the pilot from Raphael, but that would insure they returned to the terminal to put her off the plane. Raphael was reading her thoughts because without looking away from the cockpit, he nodded in response, having already reached the same conclusion.
            He was going to win. That arrogant bastard was going to win.
She was trapped in an airplane that wouldn’t leave the ground. He would be waiting at the gate for her, and all the airport security in the world wouldn’t stop him. Again he nodded smugly, eavesdropping on her panicked thoughts.
She clenched her fists in frustration and pounded them on the window. “You son of a bitch! Leave me alone!” 
Pain shot through her hand as her fingernails reopened the wound on her palm, and the answer came to her. Inside the pain was a revelation.
She eyed Raphael, still intently focused on the pilot, and smiled. She hoped the bastard was still listening. She gouged her fingernail into the wound, causing blood to stream down her arm. Raphael’s head whipped around, away from the cockpit, his eyes locking on hers.
She had his attention. Good. She put her bloody hand against the window, allowing him to see it. She read the hunger in his eyes, felt it thrumming through him.
She smiled seductively and ran her tongue across the wound. Raphael staggered, tasting the blood as she did. She lapped at it, teasing him, letting him watch, letting him taste. His eyes were dark. They held that strange light she had seen the night before. Diana met his powerful eyes and stared boldly. Then she put her hand to her mouth and began to suck on the wound in a hard, slow, erotic rhythm.
His hunger became her hunger. The warm blood trickled down her throat, and she wanted more. She tore open the flesh of her palm, expanding the wound to her wrist, so the blood flowed more freely. She felt no pain, only warmth. He was inside of her, and she in him. The merging of their minds was sensual and intimate and awakened another hunger. She closed her eyes, shutting out everything except the desire he had conjured up inside of her.
Her eyes feasted on his naked chest as his sapphire shirt fell open. She stroked muscles made of steel and stone. She straddled him, riding him through their clothes. His hands massaged her breasts, pinching her nipples through the lace of her bra. She leaned into him, breathing him in, pressing herself down on his erection, driven by need. He caressed her mind as well as her body, and when he bared his gleaming white fangs, fully extended, she was not frightened. His fangs excited her. He leaned over to kiss her, and her heart fluttered in anticipation.
Abruptly and painfully, she returned to her window seat. Nora leaned across Jen, grabbing Diana’s arm, trying to pull her wrist out of her mouth. Diana was momentarily disoriented. The scene in the limo replaying itself had been so real. Her body still quivered from Raphael’s touch. She still breathed his rich, masculine scent. For the few moments they were connected, reality had shifted.
She took a long breath to clear her head. Diana couldn’t let Nora break her hold on Raphael.
She barked at Jen through her wrist, “Stop her, Jen.”
Jen gaped at Diana, horrified, but something in Diana’s eyes told her Nora was the bigger problem. Jen struggled to pull Nora off, and succeeded to some degree.
The plane was rolling again, making the turn from the taxiway to the runway. Diana’s heart stuttered at her last glimpse of Raphael, bathed in blood. She blinked and saw only the red glow of the runway landing lights. Then she lost sight of him.
Jen struggled with Nora. Raphael’s trance broke the same moment as Diana’s, and he fought to regain control of the captain. She sucked on her wrist, in his head as much as he was in hers. She felt his frustration and his desperate struggle to control the situation. Compelling an airline pilot to act contrary to his training and the safety of his passengers took tremendous focus. Diana’s distraction was enough.
The engines screamed as the plane lurched, picked up speed, and raced down the runway. Diana’s stomach churned. Raphael was angry. His rage burst through her brain like fireworks, like an airplane skidding off the runway in a ball of fire. She had overplayed her hand. He would stop her at any cost. She braced for impact, but the plane continued on its course.
The blood still flowed from her wrist, making her gag. What had been erotic was now just gross. When she felt the plane’s wheels leave the ground and its nose aim skyward, she dropped her arm limply into her lap. She panted, and sweat soaked the back of her shirt.

Nora quit fighting Jen. She pulled a bright green scarf out of her hair and handed it to Diana. She had bought it the day before in a trendy little SoHo shop. Diana pulled the scarf tight around her wrist. The bleeding stopped, but she was a mess. The couple across the aisle stared open-mouthed at the three of them.

You can order Sapphire Sins on Amazon.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bad Beginnings. Happy Endings.

Those of us who read and write romance love a happy ending. Monday night, I got to experience a personal happy ending when the Warren County Public Library hosted me as part of their ePublish or Bust series. Many libraries in Kentucky are adapting to the new eBook landscape with innovative programs, and my friends in Bowling Green are leading the charge. The event was a lot of fun. I got to meet some new people, talk about books, and I even sold a few. It was a happy ending to a great night.

Those of us who read and write romance know that happy endings often come from bad beginnings.

I began my evening on the side of I-64 with a shredded tire. A flat tire on any day is an aggravation. A flat tire 48 hours after you paid for it to be installed, brand new, on your car is maddening. A flat tire when you’re on your way to your first appearance as an author is a nightmare. I’m usually pretty cool in an emergency, but I’m not gonna lie. I freaked out. I shook my fist at the gods, Tire Discounters, litterers, truckers, and the designer of the spare tire well for the Toyota Highlander.

Thank god for my husband, Bruce. He talked me off the ledge, called roadside assistance, and brought me his car. While I waited, one very nice gentleman, a veteran according to his license plate, stopped to help, along with a state trooper whose flashing blue lights made me feel a little better about my chances of being mowed down by a semi. (Seriously, those trucks do NOT stay on their side of the white line. I was as far over as I could get without dropping into a ravine, and I saw my life flash before my eyes when one came within a hair’s breadth of clipping me.)

When Bruce pulled up in his car, I abandoned all concern for my safety, dragging my poster and flyers out on the driver’s side. I had been sitting there for almost an hour, and while I had given myself plenty of time to account for minor mishaps like getting lost, I hadn’t factored in a whole hour’s delay. I dropped and wrinkled the poster, getting close enough to the highway that the trooper was right there ushering me back to the other side of my car. I threw my stuff into Bruce’s car and left him on the side of the road with the trooper, the shredded tire, and the roadside assistance bill. He’s a good man.

A fair wind and a V8 engine got me to Bowling Green on time. I arrived on fumes and I had to pee so bad my teeth hurt, but I made it. The upside to my adventure was that all my energy was focused on getting there. I had none left to worry or get nervous, and so I didn’t.

Lisa Rice, my awesome friend and director of the Warren County Public Library, was there to meet me, along with Tina Brewster, who arranged the details of the visit and promoted it. Tina was such a great resource. In addition to working for the library, she is a self-published author with an established fan base. What I learned from her about networking and promotion alone was worth the trip down. She writes under the name M.E. Tudor. Click here to check out her work.

They placed me at the main entrance in front of a cozy reading area. The set-up was warm and inviting and made for comfortable chatting. The table, with its prominent signage, made me feel very official, but I couldn’t stay behind it. I spent most of the evening in front of the table talking to people.

What I learned in talking to people about my book was something I already knew, but this experience reinforced it. The conversation is easy with people who already read romance, especially paranormal romance, but I become strangely inarticulate with people who don’t know the genre. I had a fun, easy conversation with a young lady who loves to read all the same stuff I do. She was intrigued by the fact that most of my story is set in Lexington. We talked about what we love in the genre, what writers float our boats. We had a great chat, and when she left, she took a flyer for herself and one for a friend who devours the genre.

Fast forward to another conversation with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen since college. They live in Bowling Green and came to support me which was very cool. Our conversation was fun because we were catching up. Neither of them reads my genre though, and when I started talking about my book, I felt myself get awkward and weird. I’ll save an examination of the reasons why for another blog. At the end of the day, they came to buy the book. Who knows? Maybe I’ll bring more fans into the fold.

It really was a great night. I’m incredibly lucky to count Lisa as a friend. Giving me the opportunity to promote my book in her library is just the most recent way she has supported me. She read Sapphire Sins well before I published it, even though paranormal romance isn’t her genre. Her honest assessment helped me improve the book and gave me the courage to finally jump off the cliff and publish. Thank you, Lisa!

My drive home was a leisurely stroll in the park, relatively speaking. The snow that had begun to fall didn’t stick until I crossed the Scott County line, and then it was just enough to cause a much needed hour’s delay Tuesday morning. Tire Discounters has already replaced my tire (Road hazard insurance, people! It’s worth it!), and I have good ideas about what to do next to promote my book. That, my friends, is a happy ending!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Anything is possible in the library

When I was a kid, my two favorite pastimes were Barbies and books. Barbies were problematic. We lived way out in the boonies, and the only other kid for miles around was my little brother who thought running over my Barbies with his Tonka Trucks was more fun than playing out whatever script I had written for them. In his defense, my scripts were usually dramatic love stories that ended with Ken and Barbie smooching. I guess flattening them with a dump truck seemed a good way to subvert that mushy girl stuff. Reading was conveniently solitary, so to keep the peace, my mom made sure I always had a stack of books at the ready. That meant a weekly trip to the library.

Oh how I loved library day!

We did all our in-town errands on library day. We picked up my dad’s shirts at the dry cleaners, stopped at the drug store, McDonald’s for lunch, and then oh joy, the library! The car was barely stopped before I was out the door and sprinting across the parking lot. I hit the big glass door and took the steps to the second floor two at a time. Another set of glass doors contained a young reader’s Mecca. The children’s collection was on the right, the Young Adult collection on the left.

I discovered Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon, the Boxcar Children, and all of L. Frank Baum’s Oz series. I found Narnia, Wonderland, and the creepy worlds of Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. I read every single book that had “ghost” or “monster” in the title. I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula before I really understood it, and before I left middle school, I had read all of Judy Blume and was downstairs in the general fiction section reading books that ended with “happily ever after.”

My mom usually browsed through my stack, but only because she was interested. She never censored my reading choices, and a week later she always took me back for more. My library card was one of my most prized possessions, and I’ve had one in my purse ever since.

As a child, I alternately gravitated between the weird and fantastic and the romantic. Nothing much has changed. I discovered Laurell K. Hamilton in the library, along with the more sinister vampires of Guillermo del Toro. F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack and Karen Marie Moning’s Highlanders all came to me from the library.

I found magic in the library, and so it is entirely fitting that my first public appearance as an author should take place there. Thanks to my long-time friend (since the 7th grade) and fellow bibliophile, Lisa Rice, I will be visiting the Warren County Public Library in Bowling Green as part of their ePublish or Bust series. Lisa read an early edition of Sapphire Sins several years ago and contacted me last week after it went up on Amazon. I am lucky to count her as a friend. It should surprise no one that I count several awesome librarians as good friends.

If you are in or near Bowling Green this Monday, February 9th, please come join me. We can talk about Sapphire Sins, self-publishing, vampires, romance, or share our favorite books. Anything is possible in the library.