Please welcome Emily Mims back to the blog. She’s talking about her latest three releases from Boroughs Publishing Group. Take it away, Emily!
Writing About Wounded Warriors
Veterans in general and wounded warriors in particular have a very warm spot in my heart. I live in San Antonio, home of San Antonio Military Medical Center, site of the Army’s famous burn treatment center and one of the three stateside hospitals where wounded warriors come home to recuperate and rehabilitate from their devastating injuries. Many of the more severely injured young men and women, those whose injuries were such that they can no longer serve in the military, have settled here in San Antonio to continue their medical care, and it is absolutely no big deal these days to see a young father or mother on two prosthetic legs chasing a couple of children across the mall or a man with severe facial scarring paying for his groceries at the store or a young man in a wheelchair holding a baby in his lap. Nor is it unusual to work beside a colleague with a closed head injury that suffers from migraines and struggles to put names with faces. Here in San Antonio the wounded warriors aren’t just a face on a magazine cover or an abstract concept-they are our friends and neighbors and part of our community.
So why are they such compelling heroes and heroines? Why do I like to write about them? Perhaps the answer lies in the bravery I see these men and women exhibit on a routine basis in everyday life. No, we’re not heroes, they will tell you. As far as they are concerned, they are just going about their ordinary everyday lives the same as the rest of us. And that they do. They hold jobs, they go shopping, they go to church. They ride their bikes down the street. Most of them are remarkably unself-conscious about the hardware and the scars. In ‘After the Heartbreak’ I have a child remarking that Cathy and Beto’s prostheses are ‘no big deal’, because here in San Antonio they aren’t. But the fact that they are carrying on ‘business as usual’, even when the circumstances are anything but ‘usual’, is what makes them seem so brave to me.
So what about their private lives? Their love lives? Again, the wounded warriors are just like the rest of us in that respect. They date, they fall in love, they have fights and break up and make up. They get married and raise families. Sometimes they do it with each other. I will never forget the young couple I saw at one of the malls a few years back. He had burn scars from his knees up and she was walking on a prosthesis. They were holding hands and even from across the mall you could see the love in their eyes for one another, and they are not the only couple to meet and fall in love with another wounded warrior. Sometimes wounded warriors fall in love with someone who nursed them back to health-there have been many marriages between wounded warriors and their nurses or other caregivers. And many, many have come home to the husband or wife who loved them already, and it is heartwarming to watch these loving spouses reach out and fashion a new normal for their wounded loved one.
Yet at the same time, the scars remain. PTSD is a common problem and particularly insidious in that it doesn’t show on the outside. After asking a time or two if a wounded warrior would share their experiences with me and seeing the expressions on their faces, I decided to do my research on topics like firefights and prostheses and PTSD and IED’s online rather than ask them to relive the horror. They simply do not want to go back there and I can’t blame them. (If I did have a question, I went to my son, who saw a lot but thankfully came home without a scratch.) But, outward and inward scars or no, I do see these brave men and women as heroes of the highest order, the kind of heroes and heroines I like to bring to life in my stories.
After The Heartbreak
Together Cathy and Beto have faced horror and heartbreak. Will they together find their way back to happiness?
What was to be the first night of the rest of their lives together instead became an evening of heartbreak and horror. Now dealing with the aftermath, Cathy Armbruster and Beto Flores struggle to put their lives and their relationship back together. Was their future destroyed on that fateful night, or will Cathy and Beto find a way to get past the heartbreak and claim the happily ever after with one another that they both want so desperately?
Tommy Joe is home from war, but he’s now in a wheelchair-and always will be. Can he still be the man a woman like Christi deserves?
Crippled by a sniper’s bullet, paraplegic Tommy Joe Reece doesn’t see how he can run a ranch from a wheelchair-or be a husband to Christi, the girl he’s always loved. Will Tommy and Christi let their doubts and fears about the future destroy their love, or will they have the courage to reach out to one another and find a way to make it all work?
When wounded war hero Holly Riley comes home to the Texas Hill Country to build a new life for herself, she has no idea that life will include sexy Congressional candidate Jimmy Adamcik!
Wounded war hero Holly Riley has come to the lakeshore community of Heaven’s Point to recover from her injuries and build a new life for herself with her band of fellow wounded warriors. Temporarily employed as a nanny for charismatic Congressional candidate and neighbor Jimmy Adamcik, Holly and Jimmy quickly began to care for one another in spite of Holly’s distrust of politics. But Jimmy finds himself sucked deeper and deeper into the seamy side of the political process, and an old enemy from Jimmy’s past targets Holly’s soldiers one by one. Will Jimmy and Holly’s love survive the double onslaught-or will they be the final target of their unknown enemy’s rage?
I usually do this post on New Year’s Eve, but life sort of got away from me, as it does now and then. However, here’s a look back at 2014.
Well, I did finish the Guitar Book, and came up with a series idea based on the talent agency…had a great time pitching that at Desert Dreams, finaled in their contest with that book, and…let’s see…oh YEAH. Boroughs Publishing Group wanted the series, and I signed a contract with them in August for a short story and the three novels. Woo! (StarTide series!) Isn’t the StarTide logo cool???
I pitched the Ballet Book, finally finished it, and sent it off to Lovely Agent who wants to see it after I make some revisions because she really liked it but it didn’t quite have enough oomph in the non-ballet sections. So there’s that.
Went to San Antonio for RWA’s National Conference, where I was a lucky girl and got to spend time with the Boroughs peeps. Went to their open house, and was invited to their author dinner even though I wasn’t technically one of theirs yet. Spent some lovely time talking to Chris Keeslar, which is where I got the idea for the Christmas short story. I also drunk-pitched said Ballet Book to a Lovely Editor at St. Martin’s, who said she loved the idea and (being friends with Lovely Agent), when the book is complete she’d like to see it.
Once home, I commenced writing like a fiend. Wrote, finished, and turned in the short story. Christmas Star (only .99!) published in October, 2014! Yay…after almost two years of not publishing, it was nice getting back into the water. In December, I finished book 2 of the StarTide series, and turned that one in. Began Book 3.
Also in December, rewrote another short story I had, after being asked to submit one for a paranormal/sci fi box set for Irksome Rebel Press. As soon as my readers get that back to me, I’ll be turning it in.
So the count for 2014: finished 3 novels; wrote 2 short stories; had one short story published, went to two conferences. Oh, and I wrapped up my second year as President of Los Angeles Romance Authors, chapter of RWA. Whew!
(2015 can be your year, too! There’s room for everyone!)
Here’s what my 2015 is going to look like, that I am aware of currently:
Writing wise: Finish Book 3, Rising Star. Write Caine Brothers Book 3, Demon’s Rage (Justin and Maggie). Rewrite the Ballet Book; send to Lovely Agent (and hopefully Lovely Editor). Brainstorm 2 – 3 novels/novellas for the StarTide series; discuss with Boroughs and write at least the first one.
Guarded Star, to publish in February. Star-Crossed, to publish in April. And Rising Star, publishing in June.
Hopefully my short story will be accepted, and in the Lucky Stars Box Set that will come out on March 17th.
It’s A Crazy Time…that’s why we have nutcrackers, trees, mooses, and bears in wreaths on our mantel.
The holidays are upon us. The year is rushing to an end, and our thoughts are on the right present for the right person, yummy food (overeating at parties), dieting (next year), exercise (please God let there be time AND no injuries), and all those projects we didn’t get to this year, along with the guilt for not getting them done.
And then there’s the writing schedule, as well. I’ve been looking at my year, and trying to plan my writing/publishing schedule. I mean, down to the word count per day. I’m ambitious, I admit it; but for the first time, I’m convinced that I can do this writing gig. I just took a class by Delilah Devlin and Elle James titled Writing 50 Books A Year (yeah, it’s a tongue in cheek title) and they gave me SO MANY DETAILED spreadsheets, I’m in geek heaven.
Those spreadsheets have given me permission to plan. Permission to plunk down big chunks of time (conferences, vacations) and littler chunks of time (see Dad) and all the projects I want to complete next year, and figure out just how I’m going to do it all.
I’ve decided I’m not going to share my desires for next year’s publishing schedule; I know people who publish a heck of a lot more than I do, and some who don’t publish as much as I do, so there’s really no point in sharing those details until next New Year’s Eve Retrospective on the year.
For the first time, I’ll be planning – really planning – my writing year. With months up on the wall, and inputting my daily word count, and everything. Life is exciting, and my dreams are within my grasp. It’s just a matter of pushing aside fear, that little voice that says “you’re going for too much,” and forging on anyway.
In other news, I’m over at Linda Carroll-Bradd’s blog, where she interviewed me. Go on and take a look – I’m still popping in every now and then, though the blog was last week. (My friend Mary Beth Bass wrote the most awesomest comment ever!)
I’ll try to get some wine picks in for you for the holidays, and a garden post. I know I’m behind on those here, but I was on a deadline, you see. Right now, I’m deadline free (but that doesn’t mean I’m not writing!), and I’ll be back on deadline at the first of the year, so I’ll try to stockpile some blog posts.
One last thought to leave you with…even though it’s the holidays, and even though there are a million and one things to do and things that can (and do) go wrong, and even though there’s never enough time or money or energy to go around, do yourself a big, huge favor. Let go of the guilt, whatever kind you’re carrying. Live in the moment. Grab hold of and hug those you love. Express that love whenever possible, because you never know when it’s all just gonna go wrong.
Sending love and big, tight, shoulder-to-knee, rocking side-to-side hugs. And here’s our tree…
Have you read Christmas Star yet? If not, grab it…”A modern day, sweet as hot chocolate fairy tale…” And if you have, would you please leave me a review? Thanks! And my thanks to those who already have reviewed…you know who you are! xo
Today is an important day. It is my father, Chet Cunningham’s birthday. He’s 86 today.
A couple of weeks ago at Thanksgiving dinner, held at my niece & nephew’s house, his face lit up when he saw me and we hugged. He said he can never get enough hugs, and I believe him. As the kids – well, adults and young adults now – gathered in one room, their elders (oh my goodness, I’m an elder…) gathered in another. Dad and I cozied down on a comfy couch and talked about writing. I was having the devil of a time with the book I was currently writing, and he felt he wasn’t writing enough, either.
I need to get to 347 on the wall, he says. When I give him a confused smile, he nods. I’ve got 346 books published, need to get to number 347. Taking a long time. Glad I’m with Wolfpack Publishing, he says.
He says he only gets maybe an hour in the morning, but after lunch he’ll get in a good three hours of writing. After dinner, he will watch football, then head to his office for another hour before watching the ten o’clock news.
Five hours, he says, shaking his head. Not what I used to be able to do.* But I enjoy my naps.
That’s more than I get done, I tell him. His hands are in mine, and they feel so very
precious. The skin is thin, his veins bulge across the back, and his fingers are oddly shaped by arthritis. He catches me looking at them.
This one hurts, he says, rubbing his ring finger on his right hand. These other two, they don’t hurt anymore, but this one does. Except when I’m writing, then I don’t feel them at all. And he shakes his head.
That’s because the story catches you, and you forget about your aches and pains, I say. Me, too, Daddy.
My own fingers have been aching, when I’ve had a long day at work and then go home to write. I kiss his gnarled fingers and wonder if mine will look that way when I’m 85. I can’t even fathom that much time passing from right now.
He puts his forehead against mine. I’m gonna be 86 in a couple of weeks, he says.
I know. I’m so sorry we can’t come down to see you on your birthday, I tell him.
He shakes his head a bit. Both my parents died at 86. Then he gets a twinkle in his eye. I’m gonna beat them, he says.
My heart clutches just a little bit. I know you are, Daddy, I say. You’ve got to make it to at least 350 novels published.
Yeah. That’s the ticket, he says, and we laugh.
Happy birthday, Daddy. Here’s to book number 347, and may they all continue to sell.
*Chet’s schedule, when I was in school, went something like this: write from 9:30am to noon, have lunch. Write from 1:00pm to 4:30pm, then come out and be with the family until after dinner. Write from 6:30pm to 11:00pm, then watch the news and wrap up with Johnny Carson.
I love authors who touch my heart and soul, who make me think and grow with their words. One day I was hunting around the Boroughs Publishing Group’s website, checking out their products and looking for something to read, and I stumbled onto in the place where she fell by Mary Beth Bass. It being a Lunchbox® romance, it was bound to be short and at only .99, affordable.
But having bought it, I forgot about it until a few weeks later when I was perusing my Kindle, and the cover caught at me. And so I read this story on my lunch hour, and found myself so moved, so changed, that I had to write a review of it. And then I had to talk about it on my blog.
That’s when Mary Beth and I got to talking and becoming friends through Facebook, and through both of us being published by Boroughs. So I want to share my beautiful, talented, soulful friend and the magical world she inhabits.
CA: On your website, you talk about walking through the woods and memorizing poetry on an almost daily basis. How does poetry influence your writing?
MBB: When I first started hiking I used to think, this is great, but wouldn’t it be awesome if some beautiful-voiced, English-accented man was following me and reciting poetry. Kind of like a lyric lady’s maid with a voice like Benedict Cumberbatch. Needless to say I couldn’t quite make that happen. So I became my own Benedict Cumberbatch (without the butter-and-whisky voice). The cool thing about hiking and reciting is that concentrating on steep terrain and not tripping over rocks means I don’t worry that I’m doing the poem wrong. I found that I understood the poems much better than I would have from a place of stillness on the couch. Hmm, I didn’t really answer your question. Probably because I’m not sure how to answer it. I think poetry influences my writing the way everything influences writing. Something grabs a corner of your brain and makes a home there until it pops up in a book. Maude, the sister of the heroine in my young adult fantasy, everything you know, loves poetry. She was born in part from one of my favorite Keats’ poems The Eve of St. Agnes. Maude’s story doesn’t exactly follow the story of that poem but it echoes elements of it. The Eve of St. Agnes is gorgeous and sexy and deceptively dark. You should go read it right now, and imagine your voice-of-choice is reciting it. Over red wine in an old inn. In a snowstorm.
CA: I love Keats, but haven’t read him in a long time. I’ll get right on The Eve of St. Agnes, though… So, I’ve noticed on Facebook that you’re often championing local theater productions. I used to be an actress/dancer/director, and my husband is still vital in the business. How did you become so involved?
MBB: I wanted to be an actress and studied in some fancy-pants theatre schools but I realized soon after I graduated that I didn’t want that life. I love theatre. And I really love supporting other artists. Theatre is my favorite art form. It still feels like actual magic to me. I started occasionally acting again a few years ago. Last summer I was in an amazing production of The Tempest in the woods in a huge nature preserve. The show ended as night fell. Almost every actor I went to school with is a writer now. Or a lawyer.
CA: Oh, don’t I know it – acting, show biz, is a tough business and crumbles a lot of young people’s dreams, especially if they come out to Hollywood. Very few of the people I acted with 30 years ago are still doing it…okay, moving on or we’ll be here all night talking about theater! Tell me how being a parent has influenced your writing.
MBB: When I first started writing my kids were very young. On the way to the bus stop one morning my youngest son told me he couldn’t wait to see my name on a book someday. I decided then to write under my own name. People still assume if you’re writing romance you must be writing under a different name. My first book came out when my youngest was in kindergarten. He gave the book to all his teachers and his bus driver!
My daughter edited my first book when she was still in high school. (Don’t judge. If you’d seen her insightful peer-editing of her classmates’ work, you probably would have made her stay home from the Halloween party until she finished editing the manuscript you were submitting.) She interned at Soft Skull Press in college and is a freelance editor now. She also manages a restaurant in New York City and is awesome.
CA: Wow, how wonderful to get such support from your kids! Now, tell me. You call yourself a writer of “dreamy, lyrical, science fiction and fantasy romance novels for adults and teens.” The words dreamy, lyrical, and science fiction don’t usually go together. How did you come to realize that was a strength of yours?
MBB: Well, I’m pretty dreamy and lyrical by nature. I didn’t realize I was writing science fiction-ish stories until readers started pointing that out. That being said, I have a huge crush on science. My fantasy jobs are hacker or virus hunter. The hero of my work in progress, The Language of the Thread, is an eighteenth century astronomer who is working towards the discovery of Neptune, using mathematics. (Neptune was the first planet to be discovered that way.) The heroine of my first book, Follow Me, is a medical researcher and works covertly as a doctor in the early nineteenth century. I read medical journals from that time period and made up a disease. It was kind of awesome.
CAA: Okay, now I just want to sit you down with a margarita in your hand and talk science, lol! With all that going on, what is your next book about, and when will it be out?
MBB: My next book is All That We See. It’s the sequel to everything you know and picks up right where that story ends. Emma and Joe’s story continues in this book but the heroine of All That We See is Thalia Salic. I’m super excited about this book. It comes out this December.
CAA: Very cool! I have everything you know but, in my typical fashion, haven’t read it yet. I’ll be looking for All That We See. Thank you, so very much, for letting me pry into your life.
MBB: It was my pleasure. Thanks for the great questions!
Okay folks, so here’s where you can find Mary Beth Bass around the Internet. And do yourself a favor – do pick up in the place where she fell. You won’t regret it!
Hey there! So, yeah, I’m participating in a Facebook party – massive FB party – called Book Elves on the Shelves, and it goes from Nov. 29th through Dec. 23rd. My dates/times are today at 5pm PST (I know, cutting it late, aren’t I?) and December 6th at 10am PST.
My first publisher, Crescent Moon Press, is having a Huge Black Friday .99 Kindle SALE! Check out some of these great authors below and don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter for your chance to win lots of fun stuff!
The sale runs from Black Friday to New Years, so there’s lots of time to buy LOTS AND LOTS OF FABULOUS BOOKS published by Crescent Moon Press!
Folks, I double-booked Writer Wednesday this week, so instead of putting both authors on the same day, I’m giving Teresa her own day. Please give Teresa a warm welcome! I first met her when she staggered into the hotel room she was sharing with me and two friends, at two-something in the morning, RWA Conference in Dallas, several years ago. I’ve been privileged to call her friend since then.
CA: First off, get comfy and kick those shoes off. Now – what can I get you? Coffee, soda, beer, wine, or a mixed cocktail?
TNR: Wine, please, preferably a rich Cabernet.
CA: Speaking my language, woman, but then I knew that. So, what drew you to writing?
TNR: It was inevitable, perhaps genetic. My mom was an English teacher, the grandmother who helped raise me was an avid reader, and though I didn’t know my father, he was a poet and nonfiction writer. My mother has stories I dictated to her before I even knew the alphabet.
CA: Oh, I totally understand the genetics! So for our reading audience, what genre(s) do you write in, and why?
TNR: I write erotica, fantasy and romance, so it’s not surprising I write a lot of erotic paranormal romance, combining my three loves. I admit I first dabbled in romance because the genre seemed friendlier to new writers than fantasy, but as soon as I got started, I got hooked. I love happy endings, I love writing sexy, and I love incorporating my fascination with myth and legend into some of my stories.
CA: How did you start this particular book, Witches’ Waves – with a title first, a character first, or a situation first?
TNR: I started with the character of Meaghan the blind seer. She’s mentioned briefly in the first book of the series, Lions’ Pride, as “the Agency’s tame seer.” As soon as I wrote that line, I started asking myself “What if she’s not as tame as they think and wants to escape them?” That idea burbled in the back of my brain until, in a later book in the series, Cougar’s Courage, I created an infant likely to grow up with unusual powers. Well, the seer might have a vision about this baby…and the story of Witches’ Waves was born.
CA: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a Day Job?
TNR: I cook a lot, bellydance, do yoga, hike, and work on our “suburban homestead.” As for a day job, I’m a part-time admin for a Realtor®, working from home with flexible hours. So I’m pretty busy.
CA: That sounds fantastic. I’ve seen the things you do with your garden harvest, and totally wish we were neighbors. Okay, now name three things your fans would be surprised to learn about you.
TNR: 1. My favorite day job ever was picking grapes at a small winery in the Finger Lakes of central New York.
2. I can say “I can’t eat pork” in five European languages.
3. I’ve lived in Manhattan and Paris, but these days I can’t imagine living in a big city. (OK, maybe that won’t surprise my readers, considering most of my books aren’t exactly urban.)
CA: The fact that you can say “I can’t eat pork” in five languages makes me giggle! And I’m so jealous that you’ve lived in both Manhattan AND Paris! Which brings me to my next question. Where would you live, if you could live anywhere in the world?
TNR: The coast of Maine…except you can’t really enjoy it during summer because all of us tourists are cluttering up the place. Drat! So much for that fantasy.
CA: LOL! I’d love to spend a summer on the coast of Maine! Name 3 simple joys in your life.
TNR: 1. Eating a sun-ripened tomato from the garden, or brushing snow off the floating row cover to harvest some cold-sweetened kale.
2. Sitting with an overstuffed cat in my lap reading a good book.
3. Sipping an adult beverage by a fire in the backyard with my husband (a.k.a. the Cat-Herder), while watching the sunset over our domain.
CA: Ah, all of those sound lovely and very similar to my simple joys. If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead or fictional, who would it be and where would you go to eat?
TNR: I feel like I should say someone famous like Jane Austen, but honestly, if dining with the dead is an option, I’d take one more evening with my friend Gregg. As for where we’d eat, I’d ask him, because if you’re back among the living for one dinner, you get to pick the meal.
CA: I love that! *wipes tear* and I totally agree, they get to choose. *sniffs* Okay. If you could give just one piece of advice to a writer just starting out, what would it be?
TNR: Write the book already, or the story, or the poem. It may stink, but remember: you can’t revise a blank page, but you can revise absolute dreck.
CA: Perfect, and I totally agree! Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
TNR: Witches’ Waves ties up a major plot thread in the Duals and Donovans series. I’m not done with this world of witches and shapeshifters yet, but the next book(s) will go in a different direction. Possibly to Europe. I have an idea for a Duals and Donovans book set in Venice. I wonder if I can do a GoFundMe for a research trip…
Thanks so much, Teresa! Folks, below is the blurb and a brief snippet of the book. Sounds absolutely yummy! So excuse me while I go push the “buy” button…
Witches’ Waves (Duals and Donovans: The Different, book 4)
Out 11/18/14 from Samhain Publishing.
“The overall message is one of hope and the healing that love can help bring, w/some really hot sex […] for good measure.” four stars—Romantic Times
The ocean is on their side. But the fight is on land—and it’s about to get dirty.
Duals and Donovans: The Different, Book 4
Long held captive as the Agency’s secret weapon—a blind witch with visions—Meaghan has come to a line she refuses to cross. Rather than betray the infant “child of five bloods” to the Agency’s scientists, she chooses death. Except when she throws herself into the ocean, she doesn’t die. Her repressed water magic comes to life.
When the sodden, delirious witch drifts into Kyle’s arms, his otter dual instincts tell him to get her to the Donovans as fast as possible. Even though one particular surfer-dude Donovan broke his heart.
Declan Donovan continually kicks himself for pushing Kyle away, but his touchy combination of water, earth and lightning magic is too volatile, and Kyle wanted more than Deck was ready to give.
When they come together to help Meaghan control her new magic, it leads the Agency straight to the child of five bloods. They’ll have to dive head-first into total trust—in their magics, in themselves and in each other—to save the child and stop the Agency once and for all.
Warning: Contains an oceanful of sex between an ethereal blind heroine who swears like a pissed-off Marine, an overly serious otter shifter, a would-be beach bum who may be descended from a Norse god, in permutations as fluid as the sea – and themes of abuse and recovery.
Water splashed around her legs. Meaghan had reached the water’s edge. That had been her plan all along, to run to the water and keep running and let the waves carry her away. Let the Agency think she’d had a seizure and drowned. Hell, let them realize the truth, that she’d died to get away from them and the weight of betrayal on her soul.
But as soon as the water—frigid, yet somehow welcoming, bracing—hit her skin, her plan washed away. She kept running along the water’s edge, letting the wavelets carry away some of her burden of guilt.
The world shifted suddenly to the left, the way it did when she was about to have a seizure, but she didn’t seize or even get dizzy.
Instead, she was thrown headlong into a startlingly beautiful vision. She felt a man’s arms around her, a man’s body taller and younger and stronger than Shaw’s pressed against her, his long hair brushing at her skin erotically. Another man was beside him, touching them both, only that lithe, slender man was sometimes an animal of some kind. He was the size and shape of a human—a well-built human, probably handsome—but Meaghan felt dense, short fur as she stroked him.
He must be a dual. They were some of the Different people that Shaw had used her to destroy, but this dual didn’t seem to hold that against her. No, instead, he held himself against her.
They were in the water, bobbing gently as they made love.
The way the men touched her was like nothing in her limited experience. A little rough at times, a little controlling, but with an underlying affection and gentleness that was new. She couldn’t see them—even in her visions, she could rarely see—yet she somehow knew they were touching each other, enjoying each other, as well.
In her vision—or maybe it was just a vivid daydream, but she didn’t really care—she could orgasm without seizing. She didn’t know how she knew, but she did, just as she knew that soon one of the men would penetrate her while the other fucked him, and she craved that moment so much it hurt.
She sank to her knees at the water’s edge, lost in the vision, lost in pleasure.
Then her vision was bathed in blood and she heard a baby’s piercing, panicked cry.
She’d had this vision before. A child of five bloods, she’d said, and everyone had been excited about that. She’d prayed she’d never learn more about this child, nothing that would help the Agency find her. But prayers weren’t always answered.
She heard the dangerous words again, the ones that would betray the child if she spoke them: Oregon and Donovan.
A wave broke over her, drenching her, knocking her down, jarring her from the vision.
It was only a matter of time before she had another vision at the hospital and those words slipped out, dooming that child and all the child’s family—if they hadn’t already. She didn’t always remember clearly after a vision.
The smell of the salt air, the cry of the gulls, the blood pounding in her veins still called her to live, but she owed it to the baby, and the baby’s parents, and the lion man, and the others she’d inadvertently helped Shaw capture. No more. Never again.
Shakily, Meaghan got to her feet.
Then she walked straight into the roar of the surf.
Welcome to an America where the non-human Different and magically gifted humans live among ordinary people. Witches are both feared and honored, but shape-shifting duals are treated as second-class citizens. The Agency, a government agency that’s supposed to monitor illegal uses of magic and Different abilities, has developed its own dangerous agenda. But when Duals and witches join forces, the Agency and other bad guys aren’t going to know what hit them.
And neither are the witches and Duals. Witch magic grows from the positive energy of love and sex–and the only thing better than one dual for sex magic is two of them!
Teresa Noelle Roberts started writing stories in kindergarten and she hasn’t stopped yet. A prolific author of short erotica, she’s also a published poet and fantasy writer—but hot paranormals and BDSM-spiced contemporaries are her favorites. Or they were until she discovered that SF romance offers new possibilities for wild sex, imaginative adventure and love beyond boundaries, so she’s added that sub-genre to her repertoire. Oh, and she’s also half of the writing team known as Sophie Mouette, writing mostly light-hearted spicy romances (with occasional forays into erotica).
Teresa is a crunchy granola girl who enjoys belly dance, yoga, medieval re-creation, playing in the ocean, cooking, and growing more vegetables than she and her husband can possibly eat. She’d enjoy sleeping, too. She thinks. But it takes so much time!
She shares her home in southern Massachusetts with her husband, a Leo in law enforcement, and two overstuffed cats. She and her husband often plan vacations around food, history, and/or proximity to water.
Please welcome Marilyn Baxter to Writer Wednesday. She’s been a friend of mine for a long time, way back when we were on a couple of email loops together (Brainstorming Desireables and From The Heart Romance Writers, I think), so I’m thrilled to have her here.
CA: Hi and welcome, Marilyn! First off – what can I get you? Coffee, soda, beer, wine, or a mixed cocktail?
MB: Hot tea, please. With raw sugar and a splash of milk. Yeah, I know. I’m different.
CA: That sounds like my hubby, but he likes to add a drop of brandy in his tea! So, tell us about you. What drew you to writing?
MB: I almost hate to say it because there’s so much plagiarism in fan fiction, but that’s where I got my start in fiction. I’d written some angsty teenage poetry in high school and some non-fiction stuff for an online magazine, but about 15 years ago I began writing fanfiction about Lois Lane, Clark Kent and Superman. Because someone on our fanfic boards was suspected of plagiarizing, I was called upon to see if I could find the book, read it and confirm. Sadly, she had taken a Silhouette Desire and copied it word for word, merely changing the character names. But on the upside, I had read my first romance novel and fell in love with it! I sought out more books by this author, got to know her after I joined RWA and she even dedicated a book to me. One day the light bulb went off and I thought why write about someone else’s characters when I could write about my own? And maybe have it published?
CA: What a cool story! What genre do you write in, and why?
MB: I write short contemporary romance because that’s my favorite genre to read. It requires research, but nothing like a historical romance. I’ve researched sperm banks, certification for image consultants, document disposal privacy laws, family law, the history of tea and more, so I can’t imagine the research that goes into a historical! The authors who write those and other research-intensive genres have my utmost respect. I like the here and now and seeing how people deal with the problems facing couples today.
CA: So, how did you start this particular book – with a title first, a character first, or a situation first?
MB: This book (a novella, really) was started with a situation: an almost-bankrupt image consultant is hired to spruce up the image of her college boyfriend. Of course there’s a lot of history and conflict, but I don’t want to spoil the story for you. As I was writing it and brainstorming part of it with a friend, she asked if I’d ever heard Kenny Chesney’s song “Better as a Memory” because it seemed to fit the hero’s conflict. I hadn’t, but I downloaded a copy of it and the lyrics helped me get a better grip on my hero. Fast forward to the winter of 2013 and Boroughs Editor-in-Chief Chris Keeslar came to speak to my RWA chapter. He talked about a contest they had going on called “What’s in a Name” where the story had to be based around a song title. Uh… bingo! I finished writing the novella, entered it, worked my way through the preliminary rounds and finaled in the contest. I didn’t win overall (the editors chose the winner), but I did have the highest popular vote. By virtue of being one of the Final Four, my novella was published earlier this year. Most of my manuscripts start with a situation – a “what if.” From there I develop the characters’ GMC, pick character names (oh how I struggle over names!), decide on a setting, figure out the black moment (I have to know what train wreck drives them apart before I can figure out how to get them TO the wreck and how to clean it up), outline a plot and start writing.
CA: I’ve read this novella, and I love it! So, what do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a Day Job?
MB: I was a stay-at-home wife and mom until five years ago when I divorced after a long marriage. Three years ago I began working as a part-time administrative assistant for – get this – my divorce attorney! I heard she was looking for someone to fill the position, I applied and she hired me. I like to think it was because she knew I was not only qualified but I was not a wacko. LOL! I also like to think it shows God has a pretty awesome sense of humor. Cue the Twilight Zone music because the first book I wrote was about a divorce attorney and it was before I’d ever had any dealings with one. When I’m not dealing with other people’s divorces or writing, I like to read and I love crime dramas on TV. My DVR is always set to record Law & Order: SVU, CSI, Bones, Rizzoli & Isles, Major Crimes, Perception and a new series called How to Get Away with Murder. I also obsess over Hugh Jackman. <g> He’s an amazing performer and you never hear any bad press about him. He adores his wife and his two children and just seems to be an all-round good guy. We need more good guys like him in the world. And he’s also darn hot as Wolverine in the X-Men movies and uber sexy in the bucket-shower scene in Australia. Hoooo boy! If you haven’t seen it, search for it on YouTube. Be prepared to swoon! Maybe my Hugh obsession should be part of the next question. LOL!
CA: LOL!!! We’ll just insert that little fact in here. *writes down* Marilyn obsessed with Hugh Jackman Ahem. Onward! So, name three things your fans would be surprised to learn about you.
MB: (1)I was in a New York City disco in March of 1970 when a pipe bomb was planted there and exploded. I was part of a group from my college studying the relationship between the arts and religion. I still have a scar on my leg from the bombing, but nothing bad. (2) I lived in West Germany for 4 years and traveled quite a bit. I have ridden a camel at the pyramids in Egypt, walked among the ruins in Rome and Athens, stood atop the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, crossed through Checkpoint Charlie to visit East Berlin, ate escargot for the first time in Paris and found out I was pregnant with my first child in London. (3) Despite 1 and 2, I really do live a mostly unremarkable life. I get up, do stuff around my apartment, eat lunch, go to work, come home, eat dinner, read, write or watch TV and go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.
CA: Wow. I think you’ve lived a fabulously adventurous life! So, where would you live, if you could live anywhere in the world?
MB: In the Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. I attended college in that area and didn’t really appreciate it while I was there. My younger son lives in that area now and I love to visit. It’s just gorgeous and there’s so much to see and do.
CA: Name 3 simple joys in your life.
MB: A cup of hot tea, a good book and my two young granddaughters. See? Unremarkable. Though my granddaughters are pretty remarkable. After raising two boys, I have had SO much fun shopping in the girl’s department.
CA: I have two boys, too, so I know what you mean! Now, if you could have dinner with any person, living or dead or fictional, who would it be and where would you go to eat?
MB: My father died in 1970 when I was just a few months shy of my 19th birthday. I’d love to sit down to dinner with him and let him meet my two sons and see what wonderful men they are and then introduce him to my two granddaughters who would have him wrapped around their little fingers in the blink of an eye. We would just stay in and eat at my apartment and have pinto beans and cornbread, one of his favorite meals.
CA: If you could give just one piece of advice to a writer just starting out, what would it be?
MB: DON’T COMPARE! I hear many people lament because they’ve been writing and submitting for X years and haven’t sold, but they just saw that So-and-So sold after writing for just a few months. Over the past five years I’ve learned that “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” In November 2008 I FINALLY finished my first novel during NaNoWriMo. About four months later it finaled in an online pitch contest on eHarlequin and I got a request for a full manuscript. To the world, it looked like I had the world on a string. What they didn’t know was that my almost-36-year marriage was falling apart around me. I was hanging on by that string, bargaining with God over everything. “If You’ll let me have health insurance, I can deal with living in a dingy trailer park. And if you let me test negative for herpes, hepatitis and HIV, You can let me have syphilis because that’s curable.” No one should have to bargain like that.
The muse left. Packed every one of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket to parts unknown. It took everything I had to write a coherent grocery list! Not only could I not write, I couldn’t focus long enough to read one chapter of a book at a sitting. I used to read 4-8 books a month. During all of 2009 I read 10 books. TEN! I learned later that inability to focus is a symptom of grief, and divorce is the death of not only your marriage, but all your dreams for the future. You work through the grief or you pay for it later. I worked very hard on that because I wanted to come out the other end in a good place.
I learned that what we see of people’s lives – looking from the outside – isn’t necessarily a true picture. Stuff happens. We have kids to raise, bills to pay, husbands to divorce, elderly parents to care for. And you just deal with it because that’s what you have to do. Winston Churchill said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” That’s the truth!
My local RWA chapter was so supportive. Heart of Dixie is without doubt one of the best groups I’ve ever belonged to because it IS so supportive. They still love you even if your full manuscript got rejected (I received the letter a few weeks after RWA Nationals in 2009). And they don’t kick you out when your muse enters the Witness Protection Program (I swear that’s where she was because I couldn’t find her ANYWHERE).
She did eventually come back though she and I still share a very tenuous relationship. I sold a novella and a short story to Boroughs in 2013. And that first novel that was rejected after Nationals 5 years ago? My editor loves it and offered me a contract – not quite 5 years after I received the rejection letter. And she offered a contract for a sequel to it over breakfast in San Antonio back in July.
Lament away because it’s good to get it out of your system (I have paid good money to a therapist to tell me this). But stop comparing yourself to others because you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Along this journey I’ve made so many great friends – friends who’ve dropped everything to listen to me cry, a friend who changed weekend plans to invite me to her home for dinner, friends who took me out to dinner after divorce mediation so I wouldn’t have to go home and face HIM, friends who gave up a Saturday to help me move, friends who’ve kept me from sinking into a deep hell-hole of depression, a friend who offered to loan me the money for Nationals, interest free, until I got my divorce settlement. And the list just goes on and on and on. And I think if it came down to a choice between the friends and a contract – I mean a choice where I could ONLY have one or the other – the friends would win hands down. But fortunately, we don’t have to make that choice.
Hang in there. And here, you can share my string. *smile*
CA: Marilyn, you’re awesome. Giving you BIG HUGS right now! Folks, check out this book!
Max jangled his car keys in his hand as he waited at Victoria’s door. He felt as nervous as a fifteen-year-old on his first date. He wore the gray pants and navy blazer Victoria had approved together with a brilliantly white shirt and a yellow tie with small navy dots. He wiggled his toes in his new black oxfords and marveled at how comfortable they were. True to her word, Victoria had steered a wide berth around wing tips and had showed him that style and comfort were not mutually exclusive.
He knocked a second time and nervously straightened his tie. And when she finally opened the door and he got his first glimpse of her, he let out a low whistle. His gut told him he would have a hard time keeping his hands off her.
And hard was the operative word as his body twitched below his belt. The black dress had a ruffled skirt that skimmed her knee. The V neckline teased at her cleavage but left plenty to the imagination. Simple sapphire and diamond earrings sparkled as they caught the light, and he saw a matching bracelet circling her wrist. While her high-heeled shoes were plain, they made her legs seem as if they went on forever. And when she bent to pick up her purse from a table beside the door, he caught a glimpse of her black lacy bra and gritted his teeth in an effort to will his body to cooperate.
This might be a very long and very frustrating night.
After taking her arm and helping her negotiate the steps down to the drive, he held her purse and wrap while she settled into the passenger side of his SUV. She had certainly taken her own advice to heart. She was stylish and understated, but he wasn’t so sure her classic beauty wouldn’t make her stand out like a diamond among pieces of coal.
They chatted about mundane things for most of the drive to his parents’ estate, but when he turned into the long drive lined by towering pines, he posed a question. “Are you okay with me introducing you tonight as my image consultant? I mean, that won’t make you feel like…well, you know.” He was at a loss for words.
“What you are trying to ask is if I’ll be insulted if people think I am your employee.”
“Well, yeah. I mean, you’re not, but in this crowd, that’s liable to be what people assume. I was just thinking you might drum up a little business when people see how you turned the beast into Prince Charming.”
“Too bad I didn’t tame his raging ego, too.”
Victoria laughed, and once again Max had to scold his misbehaving libido.
A little more about Marilyn: In 2001, Marilyn discovered romance novels quite by accident, which led to a renewed interest in writing. She’s had over forty stories published in the confessions and romance magazines and taught a class in how to effectively write for this genre. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter, Heart of Dixie Romance Writers. Her involvement on the local and national levels has combined to give her a great love of the romance genre and to develop friendships that span the globe.
In addition to reading and writing, Marilyn loves to knit simple things, cook in the crockpot and garden in a few pots on her patio. Her motto is “Have passport, will travel,” and she recently added Ireland and Wales to the list of 32 states and 21 foreign countries she has visited.
A native of North Carolina, she came to Huntsville, Alabama by way of Frankfurt, Germany. She has lived there longer than anywhere else and calls it home. After raising two great sons, she loves to dote on her two granddaughters. And somewhere amidst all the above, she fits in a day job as an administrative assistant for a boutique law firm.
Thanks for dropping by! Please let me know if you pick up the book. Marilyn will probably be in and out today, so feel free to ask her questions.
Today I’m welcoming Alanna Lucas, the author of Face to Face! I’m sharing the book cover first because, ooh!
A masquerade, a chance meeting, and a kidnapping: Little did Miss Penelope Ashurst realize that breaking the rules would result in the adventure—and love—of a lifetime.
One night. That’s all Miss Penelope Ashurst wants away from the strict decorum of Regency society. Donning a mask and attending a forbidden masquerade, she meets the man of her dreams. Then, before she discovers his identity, she is kidnapped.
From their first encounter, his goddess in a golden mask stirs a deep and different longing within Ranulph, the Earl of Monfort. When she disappears, he vows he will find her no matter the cost.
Soon it’s a race against time, and the kidnappers are just the start. Penelope and Ranulph’s very lives are in jeopardy. Before the end, everything will be stripped away, and Penelope and Ranulph will be more than just face-to-face. But this is true love, and nothing will stop it.
OOH! I so gotta read this one!
CA: Welcome to the blog, Alanna! First off – what can I get you? Coffee, soda, beer, wine, or a mixed cocktail?
AL: Nice to be here, Christine! I’ll have a coffee with cream, please.
CA: Coming right up. (passes coffee to Alanna) Let’s get cozy, shall we? So. What drew you to writing?
AL: I have always had stories in my head, and since it was getting rather crowded in there, I decided to write them down.
CA: Hm. Interesting. So, what genre do you write in, and why?
AL: I write historical romance. I love to research and learn about other time periods. It seemed only natural to write what I love.
CA: Very true. So how did you start this particular book – with a title first, a character first, or a situation first?
AL: Okay, this is quite a story. While at the 2013 California Dreamin’ conference, I learned that Boroughs Publishing Group was hosting the ‘What’s in a Name’ novella contest. I thought about entering, but did not have a novella completed (or even started), and I was leaving the country to visit family. A month later, I still did not have anything written down (but had had a wonderful time visiting my family) and the deadline was five weeks away.
One day, while listening to Face to Face by Siouxsie and the Banshees, inspiration struck. I sat down and just wrote. It was unlike any other project I had tackled previously. I finished the novella and a two paragraph synopsis with a couple of days to spare – talk about cutting it close!
CA: Wow! Sometimes, though, that’s the best way to get things done. Good for you. So, what do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a Day Job?
AL: I love to spend time with my family, go for long walks, and read. Oh, and I homeschool my two kids.
CA: Some would argue that homeschooling is definitely a Day Job, though with perks! Good for you. Now, name three things your fans would be surprised to learn about you.
AL: I love to drive and did a lap on the Nurburgring in Germany.
I have a bright lime green vacuum and I am not afraid to use it (I find vacuuming relaxing).
We don’t have cable in my house.
CA: LOL on the vacuuming – wanna come relax at my house? Bring your vacuum? Nevermind – I’ve got two minions who do that for me. Oh, and I’m right there with you on the no-cable thing. So, next question. Where would you live, if you could live anywhere in the world?
AL: The Netherlands. I have family there and miss them so much!
CA: Oh, I LOVE the Netherlands! That’s it, we’ve gotta be sisters or something. Sigh. Name 3 simple joys in your life.
AL: Spending time with family, playing games with my kids, and going for walks.
CA: Ah. Lovely. Now, if you could have dinner with any person, living or dead or fictional, who would it be and where would you go to eat?
AL: Not that he would want to spend hours relaxing over a meal when there was much to be done, but I would enjoy having dinner with Michelangelo. I know a great restaurant in Rome called Hostaria Costanza.
CA: You never know – he might need a break! Great choice, hon. Another question: If you could give just one piece of advice to a writer just starting out, what would it be?
AL: Join a writers group like RWA.
CA: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
AL: Thank you for having me today, the coffee was great, but I’ve gotta dash – it’s time to get back to writing.
CA: Thank YOU for being here! Folks, following is the excerpt…
FACE TO FACE excerpt
Her body quivered when the damp air penetrated through her coat and costume. Crossing her arms across her body, she exhaled with frustration. “Where is she?”
No sooner had the words brushed past her lips then an apparition came rushing through the fog. “Ohhh…,” she was just about to scream when the figure draped in white emerged. It wasn’t until Penelope saw the tall staff that she recognized her friend. “Where have you been?” She hissed at Judy. “I was just about to give up.”
“I had to wait for the house to quiet.” Judy took Penelope’s arm and tugged her into the thickening haze. Once clear of the house, walking toward their destination, Judy explained, “I think my brother may suspect what we are about this evening. We have to make sure we stay clear of him. He is dressed like a pirate.”
Judy nodded her head. “Eye patch and all. He looks ridiculous.” Her high-pitched giggle caught the attention of a pair of young gentlemen on the opposite side of the street.
Penelope eyed Judy with alarm. “Shh. Do you want to be recognized?” Without further conversation, they scurried along toward their destination.
The thrill of adventure shot through Penelope at the realization of what they were about to do.
Alanna Lucas grew up in Southern California. From an early age, she took an interest in travel, incorporating those experiences into her writing. When she is not daydreaming of her next travel destination, Alanna can be found researching, spending time with family, or going for long walks. Alanna Lucas is a member of the Romance Writers of America, East Valley Authors, The Beau Monde, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.