The Magiste


In celebration of my latest release, I thought I’d share a little bit about the world of the Magiste. Magiste means magical and I contrived it from a few different sources from an etymology site I use quite often, sometimes to create a word, sometimes to find an existing one that works better. Like a supercharged thesaurus.
There are different levels of magical skills, and the people possessing them are titled accordingly. Generally, while they can all be called witches and wizards, Magiste prefer to use the terms Enchanter or Enchantress, which can also be used as a general term used to encompass all Magiste. Typically, Enchanters and Enchantresses are what you might consider “average.” Most of the Magiste fall into this category. Magic is part of their everyday lives, but to travel magically, they require assistance from physical magical objects, such as Portals. Portals are arches built into buildings, and are invisible until activated. Once they are, the piece of the wall they are built into vanishes, and with their destination firmly in mind, an Enchanter or Enchantress can step through and arrive there in moments. Long distances require multiple Portals, much like a connecting flight.
The next higher level of skill in the world of the Magiste is that of Charmers and Conjurers. These are simply stronger Enchanters and Enchantresses, their spell-casting can be quite a bit more extensive, and they are also known to be partial to nature – that is, they can communicate with animals, and command foliage to do their bidding. Next, there are Sorcerer or Sorceress, and here is where the skill level really starts to differentiate from the “average” folk. These are Magiste who can travel fairly easily over most distances via teleporting (no Portal needed), can use their powers to control others and can syphon magic from other Magiste as well. Top of the heap is the Mage. Mages are extremely powerful, can travel around the world on a thought. They can fly, they can manipulate weather, other people, and just about anything around them. The full strength of their magic doesn’t mature until they are (usually) in their twenties, and the unleashing of such power can be a very painful process. That process is explored in greater detail in Claimed by the Mage (formerly Healing the Mage), which will be out again soon.
Anyway, the Magiste go back several thousand years. They’ve evolved as the world has around them, and share similarities with other ancient mystical cultures, such as the Druids. The main core of the current Magiste populace settled in France shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire.
They faced many challenges. As society changed from a culture of multi-theism to monotheism, the Magiste, like any other society that didn’t conform to the ways of the masses, or more likely, the government of the time and area, suffered with prejudice and racism. The Spanish Inquisition as it moved across Europe drove them from their homeland. Having magic at their disposal made their flight a little easier – they could procure sailing vessels and manipulate the seas and weather as they traveled around the globe. They eventually settled in Louisiana, before the Acadians migrated in the 16th century.
The Magiste were, and in many ways still are, reasonable and mostly peaceful people. They coexisted peacefully with the native people in the area, and formed solid relationships. Unlike the other Europeans who would settle in the New World a little later on, they were accepting of the differences between the natives and their own culture.
Having magic at their disposal made their settling in the bayou country easier, though they certainly faced many challenges. But there is a mysticism in that area that blends perfectly with the settling of a magical society. The Magiste are hardy, and many can live to be nearly 200 years old, making it possible for them to survive and thrive in that harsh environment.
Now, Magiste in the US tend to settle in areas like New Orleans, Salem, and other places reputed to possess magical powers or be cursed, or some other such claims. Mortals (non-magical folk) tend to be wary and sometimes outright terrified of the Magiste. While my modern characters in the Bayou Magiste Chronicles have accepted this as part of normal life, the Founders, the first Magiste to settle here, have had to deal with the typical prejudices. I’m going to explore that in a little more detail in the next couple of books planned for this series. There are various elements in the Claimed trilogy that refer to old-time rituals and the Founders, so I want to go back and explore that in a bit more detail.  I have a ton of notes from creating the Magiste world, and there are a lot of story ideas that keep arising every time I skim through them.
For now, though, the Marchands are the focus of the Claimed books. For those of you who may not be aware, Books 1 and 2 are re-releases of In the Devil’s Arms and Healing the Mage. Both books have been extensively re-edited, revised, and retitled. They also contain new content. Claimed by the Enchanter is available now, and the first two will be back out again very very soon. I’ll be sharing that info as soon as I have it, of course. In the meantime, here’s another peak at the cover for Claimed by Enchanter, and a sexy snippet as well. Share your thoughts and you could win a copy – I’m giving one away to a random commenter. 
Warning: Explicit adult content ahead!

Regine Marchand adjusted her leather corset, smoothed the leather skirt and fidgeted uneasily on her over-the-knee stiletto boots.  With a deep breath, she knocked on the door.  When it opened, she showed her invitation to the bouncer, who scanned it, gave her a respectful nod and motioned her into the foyer.
The sound of a heavy bass thumping through the expansive penthouse beat in time with her anxious heart.  She neared the closed doors, behind which lay a raucous, erotic party and hesitated.  She’d only ever done this publicly once before and that hadn’t been very successful.  David had better be waiting for her inside; she wasn’t prepared to deal with this party alone.  A deep steadying breath, followed by the determined lifting of her shoulders and chin, and she felt ready.  Still, her fingers trembled when she pulled open the door.
With careful movements and for the moment trying to avoid being noticed by too many people, she made her way to a spot against the wall where she could peruse the attendees.  Everyone here appeared to be mortal, and she didn’t detect any magic, concealed or otherwise.  Good.  She was not in the mood to tangle with any Magistetonight, especially while on unfamiliar turf.
Thankfully, this trip to Chicago was finally almost over.  Tomorrow, she’d be on her way to New Orleans.  Despite the successful purchase of two horses, she wanted to be home and prepping for the next event in Dallas.  The invitation left at the hotel’s front desk had intrigued her enough to find some time to attend, though she still didn’t know who sent it.  Very few people knew of her sexual preferences.  She worked hard to keep it a separate part of her life.
She didn’t see David and a moment’s annoyance flared.  Eyes narrowed behind the ornate mask covering her face, she scanned the room once more.  Bad enough he’d texted at the last minute to tell her he’d meet her here, but he should have arrived by now.  When she found him, she would be sure to give him a good thrashing for his tardiness and then force him to pleasure her.  Her body tingled at the thought.
She pushed away from the wall, her hungry gaze seeking out every instance of play in the room.  A female sub, blindfolded and tied to a bench, cried and moaned when her dom struck with a leather flogger, encouraging her through the scene.  For several moments, Reggie stood transfixed, as the dom alternated between slapping the sub’s flesh with the tails and teasing her pussy.
The need in the woman’s cries said so much and Reggie sucked in a breath.  Her nipples ached and she found herself wondering what it would be like to be touched like that.  How could she get her sub to touch her in such a way she’d wear that same rapturous expression?  She glanced at the dom, and the intensity lined into his face beneath his own mask sent another odd jolt to her gut.  He worked his sub expertly and despite the harlequin covering half his face, she clearly saw the glowing glint in his eyes.  The bulge at his crotch revealed his own arousal.
Reggie longed to participate in a scene such as this, where both participants were so wrapped up in each other the world melted away, The sub’s surrender, her willingness to accept whatever her dom wanted her to endure and feel, was something Reggie had never successfully drawn out from the few men she’d topped.  She’d gotten close with David, but she still knew something had been missing from their scenes.  Though she’d been hesitant to attend this party, she now realized she’d learn quite a bit just from observing.
The woman’s moan, filled with heat and pleasure, floated over the murmurs of the watching patrons.  The slightest twinge of envy poked at Reggie before she ruthlessly pushed it away.  She was not a sub.  She preferred being in control, making her lover perform for her needs.  She enjoyed hearing his grunts and groans when she paddled or whipped him with her crop or teased him into a long-delayed orgasm.  That she found herself longing to trade places with this female sub being put through a scene, was merely a passing curiosity.  Nothing more.
Reggie’s stare moved around the room.  Another young female sub, on her knees, a strip of silk covering her eyes, hands behind her back and sucking hard on her master’s cock, held a look of rapture as she worked at her task.  A male sub, made to kneel on all fours, while his domme rested her booted heels on his back.  Every now and then she would flick his hard dick, a cock ring snug at the base, with a soft flogger.  He winced with every blow and Reggie’s blood ran hot at the thought of doing that to David.  If she ever found him ….
All around her, people in various outfits of leather and latex, or completely naked, moved about the room.  One girl, acting as a waitress, had her wrists cuffed to the tray that sat below her breasts, holding them up alongside several drinks.  She stopped at a group of men, who each took their beer or wine or cocktail, before returning to their conversation.  The sub then went to another group and took more orders.
Where the hell was David?  Her annoyance grew, but was it because she was already excited by what she’d seen so far?  Or maybe because standing alone in the middle of this controlled and erotic chaos was far more unnerving than she expected.  At least, with everyone masked in some fashion, she didn’t worry too much about being recognized.
She found herself drawn once more to the woman being flogged.  The dom expertly teased his sub, making her moan and sigh in pleasure, before resuming slapping her reddened flesh with the leather, drawing squeals of pain and surprise.  Reggie’s tongue felt like sandpaper in her mouth and she swallowed, trying to work up some moisture.  Her crop tapped nervously against her leg, and her pussy throbbed, her clit already hard.
Finally, the dom picked up a thick vibrator and plunged it deep into the woman’s pussy, at the same time he leaned over and murmured something in her ear.  The shrieks that filled the room attested to the force of her climax, her body writhing within the confining bonds.  Long, drawn-out, minutes seemed to pass before she finally quieted and fell limply across the bench.
“Enjoying the view?”  The deep voice came from behind Reggie and she turned.
The tall powerful man, his face, except for his square jaw and sensuous lips, covered by a burgundy mask with ornate gold designs, towered over her.  Hard to do, since she stood at almost six feet herself.  She rarely had to tip her head back to look at a man.  Something vaguely intriguing teased the edges of her thoughts.
“Actually, I was looking for my sub,” she kept her voice low and hushed.
She had the sense he seemed startled by her words, and even with the mask she saw his eyes narrow.  Dark eyes, glittering eyes.  Eyes that seemed to mock her.  A frisson of anger crept along her spine.  Who was he to question her?
“I didn’t take you to be a domme.”
“And why not?”  Her annoyance escalated, but she held it in check.  She had no idea who this man was and she didn’t dare risk insulting another dom, possibly an esteemed invited guest to this private party.
“Call it a gut feeling.”
“And my attire, along with my crop, didn’t clue you in?”
“Like I said, gut feeling.  The way you looked at her as she was forced to come, I saw in your eyes you longed for what she had.”  He nodded toward the sub who now knelt before the dom, preparing to pleasure him orally.  The girl looked up at the man with adoration, obvious even through the simple leather mask covering her upper face.
Reggie gave a sharp, brittle laugh, alarmed by the sudden awareness that this forceful stranger’s words held some truth.  “You can tell that just from seeing my eyes behind a mask?  I think not.”
She turned to walk away, but he caught her arm.
“We’re not finished yet, Mistress.”
The mocking emphasis on the last word bristled along Reggie’s spine.  She jerked her arm free.  “How dare you!”
“I’ll dare a lot more later, when we’re alone.”
“You’ll never be that lucky.”  She snapped her head and walked away, his low chuckle reaching her even through the buzz of the party.  She fought the urge to clench her trembling hands into fists, at least until she moved safely away from him.
Only now did she notice the way her heart raced, the way his gaze, obscured by the mask, seemed to pierce through her soul.  What had he meant when he said he’d dare a lot more?  Why did she want to know?
“Ma’am, please forgive me.”
David’s voice cut through her thoughts.  She closed her eyes briefly, thankful to have someone take her mind off the foreboding path they rambled down.  She fixed a stern glare on her face and turned to her sub.
David knelt before her, dressed only in leather pants and wrist cuffs.  She couldn’t see his ankles from this angle, but assumed he wore cuffs there as well.  Good.  She had some steam to blow off and his timing couldn’t be more perfect.
“You’re late,” she spat.  She took a deep breath.  Her agitation had nothing to do with him, and while she’d take advantage of his submission to ease that tension, she had no business directing her anger at him.  That belonged squarely on an arrogant know-it-all dom.
“I am sorry.”  He kept his hands properly clasped behind his back, his head lowered.
She grabbed a handful of his sandy hair and forced him to look at her.  The eagerness in his eyes lifted the corners of her mouth.  She managed to keep her cool, knowing she was being watched.
“You will be,” she whispered.
His Adam’s apple bobbed, but he made no protest.  His eyes practically glowed with his growing excitement.  Containing her responding grin took a rather large effort.  “Go prepare yourself.  The spanking bench in the corner is empty.”
She pointed her crop toward the bench and observed David carefully, when he rose and walked in the direction she indicated.  Anything to keep from looking elsewhere, to see who might be looking back.  Her gaze moved over her trainer’s well-muscled torso, the tight ass encased in leather.  He padded, bare footed, across the lush carpet and she spotted the cuffs, as she’d suspected.  This time, she let the pleased smile curl her lips.
Again, her thoughts drifted to the people buzzing around the penthouse.  The sound of heat-filled cries, sobs and pleas, leather striking flesh, the scents of sex and sweat and incense, the pounding of the bass line of the music; suddenly seemed too intense.  She’d rarely done this publicly, and thought coming here tonight, to this private, invitation-only party, might be easier than venturing into some of the clubs closer to home.   The last time had been a disaster and she had no desire to repeat that.  She didn’t know anyone here, though someone apparently knew her.  Who?  She had the sense of being watched again, but resisted the urge to look around.
Did hestill linger nearby?  Part of her hoped so.  Doing a scene with David, knowing the mysterious dom observed, sent a thrill along her spine.  David was going to be very busy tonight.  And she’d show that arrogant stranger exactly how much of domme she was.
* * * *
Cameron couldn’t take his eyes from her.  From the moment she’d entered the party, his gaze had been locked on her, the mass of dark blonde curls tied up in a long saucy ponytail, the stiletto heels that made her already long legs look like they stretched on forever.  He found himself imagining what it would be like to have them wrapped around his waist while he pounded deep into her.  The intense reaction shook him.  Years had passed since he’d had a reaction like that to any woman.  He knew in that moment, she was different.
She stood tall, almost evenly eye level with him.  He liked that, he wasn’t much for tiny women, fragile as birds, like the ones he usually found in clubs and parties.  He always worried he would break them during a scene, the agitated concern leaving him detached and unfulfilled.  But this woman, she could take what he gave her.
She played at being a domme, or had she only begun participating in the BDSM world?  Something about her hinted at innocence, or a naiveté, that she covered with her steely attitude.  He couldn’t say for sure why he became convinced.  Just a gut feeling as he’d told her, and his gut was rarely wrong.  He’d seen, rather than heard, the sharp intake of her breath when she’d watched the flogging and when the other sub had been forced to suck her master’s cock, hands locked behind her back, at the mercy of the man who then laid a paddle across her ass.  This mystery domme had clearly gotten highly aroused at what she’d seen, and none of it had to do with watching the other doms.  Her gaze had been squarely focused on the women being tormented.  No matter what denials she’d tried to make, the role of sub intrigued her.  He’d been at this game for a long time and knew how to read people.
He watched her speak to her sub, the man sliding out of his leather pants to lie across the bench.  She fastened his cuffs.  Cameron absorbed every movement she made, the way her breasts pushed against her corset as she bent, the light catching the lines of her muscular calves.  Her lips moving as she spoke to the young man.  He nodded, responding in the affirmative to her every question and Cameron admired her for taking the care that the man would be comfortable.  Well, as much as one could be, strapped down over a spanking bench, arse high while a woman laid leather across it.
Cameron wanted to tie her across that bench and redden her with a paddle, before he plunged into her welcoming heat.  He shifted, his swelling dick constrained by his own leather garments.
She stood back, her crop tapping against her leg.  He hung in the shadows, and couldn’t help smiling when she glanced around.  Was she looking for him?  He suspected so.  Something about the way she hesitated before she leaned over and spoke one last time to the man tied down before her.  Cameron suspected she gave instructions to put on a good show.   Because she wanted him to be watching?
The man gave another nod and she responded with a pleased smile, but a tremor swept over her.  She took a position beside the man, facing Cameron.  Her eyes remained focused on the sub’s ass.
His gaze raked over her lean, tall form.  She might be an athlete of some sort; strong defined muscles revealed by her short skirt and corset, blended with luscious curves he’d love to run his hands over.  He wanted her tied to his bed, open and helpless before him, surrendering her will to his.  His cock pressed against leather, reminding him again how long it had been since he’d reacted so strongly to a woman.  In the years since losing Ciara, he’d taken his pleasures, but no woman had inspired this sort of response.
Below her mask, her plump red lips caught his attention.  They bore the same shade as a mouthwatering glass of exotic wine, one he wanted to sip slowly and savor.  God, he could make a meal just nibbling on those lips.
Over the murmurs of the audience, Cameron clearly heard her say, “Count.”
She raised her arm and brought the crop down across both cheeks of the man’s ass.  He barely moved and distinctly said, “One.”
Cameron folded his arms, watching her technique.  She did know how to wield the crop, bringing it down again and again, each strike landing directly beside the previous one, leaving a precise pattern of stripes.  The sub counted precisely, though by the tenth stroke, a harsh groan escaped him when she swung the leather a bit harder.  Cameron couldn’t take his eyes from the domme.  Her cheeks flushed, shoulders swaying with each breath, lips parted, she looked like a decadent, wild creature.  One he wanted to tame.
He stood silently, absorbing every detail of her interaction with the sub.  She crouched before his head and they spoke and for a moment, a smile curved her mouth.  A surge of jealousy that she hadn’t smiled like that at himsurprised him.  He wanted that warmth, wanted her touch.  He had to fight to keep from stalking over there and pulling her long fingers away from the man’s face.
All too soon, she uncuffed her sub from the bench and let him pull her close for a hug.  Cameron’s vision went red and his hands clenched.  His teeth ground together as she turned away.  He couldn’t watch anymore.  Need pounded in his head, his cock painfully hard.  He needed this seen to.  All around him, willing subs mingled, any one of them could take care of him.  But he didn’t want any of them.  He made his way to the bar and growled out a request for a double Scotch.   He tossed it back, and requested another.  Finally the haze in his thoughts cleared and he knew exactly what he had to do.

 

Music and Mayhem (sort of)

Last night was my daughter’s Spring Concert at the High School. She’s actually in the Junior High School, but the music program merged the singing groups and various bands with the Senior High School’s musical program, since the 8th grade is the only “Junior High” class.
Anyway (there I go, rambling again!), the concert was last night and showcased some really talented students. There was a fantastic jazz band, they just blew me away. The drummer was incredible, I really hope some of those kids have a successful future in music. They certainly have the talent. If I had only been listening outside, and not known the band was comprised of students, I would have thought they were pros.
There was also a wind ensemble performance. They were also very good, though not as good as the jazz band. A lot of the kids played in both, as well as the 95 member school concert band. The school really does have a lot of opportunities for musicians.
The chamber singers were good, though to be honest, I’m not much of a fan of chamber music. It’s an audition only group, and the kids were great singers. I wonder if we’ll see any of them on AI in the future.
But the newly formed a capella group, calling themselves Fermata Nowhere (the music teacher is very clever), was phenomenal. They performed Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and the girl who sang lead, while not as talented as Adele, still did a great job. Then they did Stacy’s Mom. Several of the parents and probably all of the grandparents in attendance were not familiar with the song. The kid who sang lead was really good, I’ve seen him perform before in other things, and he is quite talented. He’s one of the ones I hope gets to make a career with music. He had stage presence, and really had a great time up there, he had that “spark.” Anyway, the lyrics drew quite a few laughs, but some were also offended. One older woman near me, when she realized what the song was about, said,. “That’s disgusting.” She was promptly shushed quite loudly!
My daughter’s choir was also good. I wasn’t familiar with some of the songs, but they did a medley from Les Mis that left me crying. The soloists were incredible, the emotion in their voices touched everyone in the auditorium. And from there, they went into Bohemian Rhapsody. They cut chunks of it, since it’s such a long song. I’m not a big fan of that song myself, to be honest, but they did a good job with it, After that, we had yet another set by the concert band. The whole thing lasted about 3 hours! By the time I picked up my little guy from his friend’s house, it was after 10:00pm.
There was a brief intermission, and two idiot dads almost came to blows over someone coming in late. I mean, really, why do you have to be an ass and ruin what’s supposed to be a great night for your kids? Morons. Thankfully, someone stepped in between them, or it would have turned into a fistfight. Similar thing happened at my daughter’s dance recital a few years ago and they had to call the cops to break it up and keep it from becoming a free-for-all. I don’t understand why people have to be such jackasses.
In any case, the concert was a nice way to wrap up the music program for the year, and the kids worked really really hard. The talent and discipline they showed impressed me so much, I could use some of that discipline, to be honest! Lol
On another note, Kathryn at The Romance Review gave 4 Stars to Healing the Mage. You can read the entire review here: http://erotic.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=2170  This review was especially sweet, since she really liked the characters. As my critique partners know, the editing process was difficult with Healing the Mage. My hero had some serious flaws, as pointed out by my editor at Noble. Flaws I didn’t see until she brought them to my attention. Lily had some problems too, but not as bad as Aidan. I took every one of my editor’s suggestions and made significant changes. If I hadn’t, I seriously doubt this book would have gotten such good reviews. So a big thanks goes to Jill Noble for not only her comments, but her patience in working with me as I made the changes. I appreciated (and apparently needed to hear) her honest opinion, and it made all the difference, as evidenced by the latest review.

Winners – and other chit-chat

If you’re here, then you know about the exciting Noble Authors Blog Tour that’s been underway for the last couple of weeks. I’m having a hell of a time visiting all the other blogs and meeting readers and fellow authors. I’ve also added a few books to my wish-list myself! lol  And I want to thank everyone who came by to visit with my guests and leave comments. I’m very happy to see you all and make some new friends!

I thought I’d recap here the winners of copies of Healing the Mage and some swag to accompany it, so here goes:

From my guest post at Indigo Skye’s blog: Jean P
From my guest post at Sarah Ballance’s blog: Andrea I
From my guest post at JS Wayne’s blog: Lucy Felthouse
From my guest post at HC Brown’s blog: The Pick Pack

Congratulations ladies, I’ll be emailing you today or tomorrow with a copy of Healing the Mage.

On to other updates. On the writing front, not much has been going on – last week was an absolutely horrendous week for me and technology. First, my main home computer died. *sob*  Actually, it’s not as bad as I first thought, it appears to be a pwoer problem, rather than anything else, so with fingers crossed, I am awaiting results on diagnostics. The stupid thing was acting sluggish so I shut it down, It never powered up again, and no matter where I took it, there was no power reaching the machine. So back to Sony it goes. The killer – this happened exactly ONE MONTH after my extended service contract expired – to the very day! So I have to pay – even though I’ve worked for Sony for 22 years, there’s no way to get it back under service contract, no assistance at all for me other than paying $150 just to send it in and get a diagnostic. Figures.

The morning after this happened, I get to work and the copy machine is down, so no copying, scanning or sending outside docs electronically through the network. Not five minutes later, the fax machine runs out of toner, though that was an easy fix. The next morning, my boss’s hard drive crashes, and that same day, my blog reset some settings. (I swear the blog did it all on its own!).  To say I was nervous about getting on a plane last week was an understatement. I get nervous enough on my own, I didn’t need this adding to it.

Obviously, there were no issues with the flight. Had a wonderful time in Vegas, even though it was for work, I did manage to get some fun time in. Walked the strip and won enough money to keep playing for a few hours. And I managed to talk up my books to anyone and everyone who would listen – I played my author role rather than my Sony role whenever possible. Handed out a few cards and maybe I’ll get some new readers out of it.

Needless to say, my writing has stalled a bit. I can’t get comfortable writing on my work laptop, and it’s very distracting and aggravating. On the bright side, we’ve purchased a new laptop for the house, and it’s gorgeous. I may try my hand at using that this weekend, but again, we have another crazy busy schedule, so we’ll see how much actual time I have at my disposal. But I’m anxious to get my medieval finished – it needs lots of editing and revision, and I’ve been moving at a snail’s pace. Especially after I got scores back on a contest I entered with it.

Now to be totally honest, I only entered because the category was in danger of being eliminated for being short entries, and I would hate for that to have happened. So I didn’t expect anything, really. When I received the scores, I was floored to see I had scored so high with the first two judges: 109 and 104! Wow, I truly didn’t expect that. I was brought quickly down to earth by the third score – a 36! Obviously, I offended that judge – the story does contain plot threads that border on non-consensual activities. Then again, I tend to write heroes who overpower the heroine, and I know some people don’t like that. But 36? I have NEVER, EVER received such a low score, even when I was getting trashed by the judge. I really *really* must have offended her terribly. At least the other two scores told me I was doing something right.

So, in light of that, I thought I’d turn my attention to the other trouble I’ve been having with this manuscript – the title. Right now, I’m calling it Warrior’s Vengeance, but I really don’t like it. So, I’m going to hold another contest – I’ll give away a copy of either Healing the Mage or In The Devil’s Arms – winner’s choice. I’ll give a brief synopsis here, and whoever comes up with the best title, wins. Simple, eh? Sounds like it, though I’ll bet I’ll get some great titles and won’t be able to choose! lol

Here’s the summary of the story – as it’s written now.

Scotsman Ian MacCallum lost his wife and young son to a brutal attack by English soldiers two years earlier. Swearing revenge against the man who led the attack, The Earl of Montchester, called the Panther, Ian plans an attack on Montchester. During the final scouting mission, one of his men kidnaps a young woman. Ian saves the girl from a brutal rape, only to realize he holds captive the daughter of his enemy.

Marissa Langley determines to free herself from her captors, but unarmed and helpless, she cannot fight against the man who saved her from the rest of his men. When Ian sets out to seduce her, Marissa finds she doesn’t want to resist him, despite her determination to free herself. Ian keeps her bound, treats her badly, yet gives her pleasure she’s never known before. She realizes that she must sacrifice herself to save her family, but when Ian brings her back to his village and collars her as a slave, she vows to destroy him for what he’s done to her. Yet, little by little, Ian’s seduction wears away her resistance, until all she wants is to remain in his arms. And Ian finds he cannot bring himself to harm the daughter of his enemy; instead, she worms her way into his heart, forcing him to rethink his plans of revenge.

So there it is, as it stands now. Of course, not everything is known to either Marissa or Ian, but then again, that’s a big part of the story. For my critique partners familiar with The Panther, they’ll know what I mean! 😉 Okay, everyone, get those thinking caps on and help me come up with a title! :p

Excerpt from Healing the Mage

It’s been a crazy week – with the release of Healing the Mage and my prep for an upcoming business trip, I feel like I haven’t slept in about two weeks. But things have quieted down a little – as they usually do on Friday afternoon.

I thought I’d share an excerpt from Healing the Mage – in this scene, Lily has brought Aidan to her home, and the situation just keeps getting more complicated.

“What are you doing?” Devlin Marchand shouted.

Lily stood, stepping out of Aidan’s reach. She folded her arms, trying not to wince under the elder Marchand’s anger. The rolling pain curled through her, and she fought to keep from collapsing. Mon Dieu, how could he bear it?

“I am not trained to help him. And I will not be forced into it. I could make things worse.”

She kept her face expressionless, but the relief at the steadiness of her voice left her feeling weak. How the hell she managed to hold herself stiffly upright, she’d never know. Probably adrenaline, even as the rolling waves of discomfort grew. She used every ounce of her strength not to go to Aidan and hold him, to attempt to ease his agony.
Devlin sat beside Aidan and examined him. Lily glared at her brother as he stepped to her side. Anger overrode the worst of the phantom knives in her gut.

“What?” she asked.

“How can you turn your back on him? It’s obvious you can help him.”

She clenched her fists, both the fire and her aggravation growing, mixing together, feeding off each other. She latched onto the irritation, letting it overpower the churning of her stomach. She should have known better than to call Greg. He was too much like their parents, trying to force her into their preconceived ideas of what her life should be. What had she been thinking to summon him here?

“Oh, no, you don’t. I can’t help him. I gave up magic, remember? I don’t know the first thing about healing. It’s too dangerous for me to be involved.”

Greg lowered his voice. “You don’t always get to choose, Lily. Sometimes, you have to follow your destined path.”
Her head ached, and she rubbed her temples briefly. “This is not my destiny; it never was.”

“You have a gift and you’re wasting it. Here’s your chance to fix things. It’s clear to me you need to use your power; your empathy is very strong. You won’t be able to resist.”

“No. I won’t be used like this.”

“If you don’t give in, Lil, things could get worse. You have no idea what—”

“You’re right, I don’t. And I don’t want to know.”

“Enough!” Devlin’s shout silenced them “I need your help.”

“Can’t you take him to the hospital?” Lily asked. She didn’t want to look at Aidan, to see him suffering. She also couldn’t bear it if he touched her again. The things he made her feel scared her more than her healing abilities.

Devlin shook his head. “I can’t move him like this. And his condition is not . . . widely known.”

“So what are you saying?”

“Until I get someone to help, he needs to remain here.”

“Here? No, he can’t!”

“Ms. Prentiss, please. He can’t . . . look at him.” Devlin waved a hand at Aidan, who sat doubled over, groaning in pain. “I understand, believe me. If there were any other way . . . . You can help him.”

Lily twisted her hands together. The desperation in Devlin Marchand’s expression tugged at her. Combined with the echo of Aidan’s agony, her resolve crumbled further.

“I don’t know. I could hurt him worse than he already is.”

Devlin shook his head. “Nothing could be worse than it is now.” Another groan from Aidan drew his father’s attention. The older man tried to soothe his son.

“Hang on; she’ll be able to help you. Can you fight it at all?”

Aidan groaned again. “Do you . . . have  . . . anymore  . . . potions?”

“Nothing.” Devlin turned back to Lily. “Ms. Prentiss?”

Lily sighed. “How long will it take you to find someone to help him?”

“I can have him out of here first thing tomorrow morning.”

He had to spend the rest of the night? “How am I supposed to get any sleep? I have to work in the morning.”

“On Sunday?” Greg taunted.

If only she could direct the fire roaring through her to him. She may not have trained in Healing, but she could still land a nasty hex. Only the presence of Aidan’s father prevented her from singeing her brother’s eyebrows.

“Fine. He can stay. On the couch. I’ll be right in my bedroom, where I can hear him if he needs me.”

Marchand shook his head. “You need to sit with him. He needs your touch.”

“I can’t do that. I—”

Aidan’s harsh groan cut her off. Despite her resolve, she stepped closer, needing to stop the gnawing teeth ripping her apart. As soon as she moved within reach, he reached out and grabbed her again. She narrowed her eyes, wondering at his supposed weakness.

“Stay with me.” Did a hint of a smile play on his lips?

“This is ridiculous. I can’t sit up with you all night.”

“Then I’ll sleep in your bed with you.”

Aware of her brother stepping toward them, she continued to stare at Aidan as his eyes cleared, and he sat up straighter.

“You most certainly will not! You will sleep here. I’ll knock you out so you won’t feel anything.”

He grinned. The brilliant smile stole her breath. “We’ll both be more comfortable, and that way, you’ll be able to get some sleep too.”

No, she couldn’t let this happen. Even as she tried to deny his suggestion, the idea aroused an urgent excitement. And a healthy dose of dread. This time, her stomach twisted for a very different reason. “I don’t think so.”

“It really would be best. For your comfort, as well,” said Devlin. Before she could argue further, he took control of the situation. “Come on, I’ll help you move him.”

“Wait a minute!” Greg shouted. “They can’t sleep in the same bed.”

“He’s not in any shape to be a danger to her,” Devlin said.

“He’s in pain. Wounded animals are dangerous.”

“Are you calling my son an animal?”

Lily rolled her eyes. “Hold it!” She waited until she had the men’s full attention. “I can see there isn’t much choice right now. Look at him.”

“Lily, I absolutely forbid you to do this.”

Lily narrowed her eyes. Her brother couldn’t have picked a worse thing to say. “Do you, now? Well, it can’t be helped. The man is simply too weak to move, and we can’t exactly call an ambulance. I guess he’ll have to stay.”

Mon Dieu, what had she done? Before she could back out of her decision, Devlin helped Aidan down the hall. With Aidan’s vise-like grip on her arm, she had no choice but to follow. It didn’t take long before he reclined in her bed. She sat beside him. Seeing him there ignited a burning she knew would not be easily doused. His father and her brother watched them both, albeit with very different expressions, and her face flamed. While Devlin only seemed worried and exhausted, Greg’s gleaming gaze broadcast his suspicion. She scowled and turned to Aidan.

“You stay on your side, on top of the blankets, I’ll stay on mine. Underneath. You can hold my hand; that should be enough.”

Aidan nodded. She looked pointedly at Greg and Devlin. “You two can see yourselves out. Greg, deactivate the Portal when you’re done.”

“No, I’m staying,” he said. “I’ll sleep on the couch.”

The last thing she needed was her brother snooping around her home. While she appreciated his help, she knew it wouldn’t be long before he reported this whole disaster to their parents. The fewer details he had about her life, the better.

“Greg, it’s all right. You go ahead.”

“You sure? It’s not a problem for me to stay.”

“I’m sure. Just go.”

“All right. I’ll check in with you first thing in the morning.”

“As will I,” said Devlin. “I’ll see if I can get a trainer lined up, as well. Perhaps Tauzin.”

The two men left, and Lily listened carefully to hear the Portal deactivate, sealing off the possibility of unwanted visitors. The house grew quiet, and she turned to Aidan. The way he looked at her ignited fluttering in her gut. At the same time, a bolt of heat flared through her, settling with startling intensity in her core.

“Might as well get comfortable,” Aidan said.

Lily glared at him. He seemed to be enjoying this too much. But she couldn’t deny the way his intense stare made her heart pound.

“You’re going to have to let go of me so I can get in the bed. I’ll take your hand once I’ve settled.”
The hint of smile disappeared. He sucked in a deep breath, his jaw clenched, and he released his grip on her arm. A shudder passed over him, and he put his hand to his head. Lily’s heart thumped unevenly; she didn’t know what to make of the maelstrom of emotions slamming her like waves of a nor’easter on the shore. The gut twisting grew, and she quickly got into the bed, not caring she would have to sleep in her clothes. Her tank dress would be a wreck by morning. As soon as she settled under the blankets, she reached for Aidan’s hand. He stilled immediately, his fingers twining with hers. She met his gaze.

Something about lying here beside him seemed right. She swallowed the jagged lump in her throat and turned away. It was going to be a very long night.

Remember, I’m giving away copies this week, so be sure to leave a comment.

Release Monday!

Healing the Mage is here! I’m very excited about the release – I had so much fun writing Lily and Aidan’s story.  It’s available at Noble Romance Publishing now!
When I first started writing this book, the words poured out of me, I finished the first draft in a little over a month.  Of course, as always is the case, the story changed drastically from that first draft.
Both Lily and Aidan were mentioned in passing in In The Devil’s Arms. I didn’t have any specific plans for taking them any further, until the day Aidan’s predicament with becoming a Mage revealed itself to me. I had no clear idea for the story, but starting writing anyway. Before I knew it, I had the poor guy in excruciating, insanity-causing pain with no idea how to get him out of it. Thankfully, Lily tapped me on the shoulder and the rest fell into place. Not that she was happy about it, but Aidan finally convinced her magic doesn’t have to be bad.
There’s a lot of magic in Healing the Mage – the magic the characters use in their daily lives, and the magic of two people falling in love. Which is the core of all of my books – who can resist the miraculous feeling of falling in love with the one person who completes you? Of course, when you have a stubborn, demanding dom and a reluctant sub, sometimes the magic can seem like a curse.
Here’s a little more about the story:
Lily Prentiss wishes she could ignore her inborn healing magic so she can live life on her terms, not follow the path her Magiste family chose for her. But when she stumbles across Aidan Marchand in the excruciating throes of evolving into a Mage, her touch is all that stops his pain and she can no longer deny her powers. When the sexy Dom seduces her into willing submission, she finds she doesn’t want to resist and actually enjoys giving up control.
Aidan has more to worry about than just his rapidly maturing powers – his business partner is blackmailing him into funding a venture that involves kidnapping young girls both magical and mortal, and selling them as sex slaves. Even as Lily’s touch eases Aidan’s pain, he knows staying with her puts her in danger from his enemies. But the gift of her sexual submission helps him even more than her healing magic…so how can he let her go?
I hope you’ll enjoy reading Healing the Mage as much as I enjoyed writing it. To celebrate its release, I’m giving away two copies this week. Leave a comment and share the magical moment when you realized your true love was The One. My moment occurred at a Bruce Springsteen concert in 1984. I still have not met anyone who can match my passion for Bruce’s music, it’s magical on its own. The way the man writes lyrics always amazes me, even when my DH and I are singing along to a song we’ve already sung a thousand times before. Twenty-six years later, we’re still going to Bruce concerts and blasting The Boss’ music throughout the house, much to the dismay of our children!

New Cover

Release day for Healing the Mage is rapidly approaching. I thought I’d share the cover – another amazing job by Fiona Jayde.

I really think it captures Lily and Aidan so beautifully, and it’s hot as hell, isn’t it? For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Healing the Mage is the next book set in the Magiste world of New Orleans. You may recognize his name from In the Devil’s Arms, though he didn’t make an appearance, he is Devlin’s son. The same with Lily – she is Helene’s goddaughter, and only mentioned in passing, But these two had been wrangling for their own story since they came into existence, and now it’s here. Here’s the blurb (a special thanks to Shoshanna Evers for your help with this!)

Lily Prentiss wishes she could ignore her inborn healing magic so she can live life on her terms, not follow the path her Magiste family chose for her. But when she stumbles across Aidan Marchand in the excruciating throes of evolving into a Mage, her touch is all that stops his pain and she can no longer deny her powers. When the sexy Dom seduces her into willing submission, she finds she doesn’t want to resist and actually enjoys giving up control.
Aidan has more to worry about than just his rapidly maturing powers – his business partner is blackmailing him into funding a venture that involves kidnapping young girls both magical and mortal, and selling them as sex slaves. Even as Lily’s touch eases Aidan’s pain, he knows staying with her puts her in danger from his enemies. But the gift of her sexual submission helps him even more than her healing magic…so how can he let her go?
Healing the Mage will be available from Noble Romance Publishing on February 28, 2011. Stop back here – I’ll be posting a couple of excerpts and giving away a copy or two!

What A Difference A Year Makes

Literally. At this time last year, I was in the throes of a very emotional roller-coaster ride in my pursuit of publication. For close to twenty years, I’ve been a member of RWA and my local chapter, as well as other organizations and chapters. I’ve taken classes, attended conferences, pitched my manuscripts in various venues, and done all I could to improve my craft. I wrote at least seven 100K+ word manuscripts. My writing improved, I developed some wonderful friendships, and I basically enjoyed the process, as frustrating as it could be at times. I’ve always prided myself on a thick skin, and welcomed comments, both good and bad, with eagerness. After all, every suggestion or comment to my work could only improve it, right?

Last year, it all came crashing down. Many of my critique partners know that last summer, when it all came to a head, was probably the very worst time for me, in all my years of writing for publication. Suddenly, there were no good things to hear, only bad, and some of it was truly scathing or harsh. Even after pitches and requests for partials and sometimes full manuscripts, my submissions either vanished into the ether, and my follow-up emails went ignored, or I was dismissed with haste. I was at the point where I almost gave up writing altogether, for other reasons as well as the rejections. I took steps to make a clean break – big steps. I disengaged from various writers’ loops, unfollowed a lot of people on Twitter, and cut myself off from the writing world. When Healing the Mage placed dead last in Passionate Ink’s Stroke of Midnight contest, it seemed to be the final confirmation of the new path I was about to embark upon – one without writing in my life. Two very dear friends, and fantastic critique partners, Janet Walters and Kathy Attalla, were critical in talking me back from the ledge, and encouraged me not to give up. I had publishers on my list I really wanted to submit to, but after the beating I had taken up to that point, I was really afraid to chance it again at that time. After all, when more than one editor sends you standard one-line form rejections (this happened several times after glowing comments and very eager requests for the full), and another tells you not to submit to them again, and still others just ignore you outright, it kind of throws you off course and tarnishes the dream. And I guess I’d hit my limit for how much rejection I could take.

Of course, that all changed when Noble Romance Publishing contracted In The Devil’s Arms. I’d long had Noble on my list of targeted publishers, but my ego and confidence in my writing skills had taken such a blow, I almost didn’t submit. Obviously, I am glad Janet and Kathy were there for the push I needed, and we all know how it turned out! 🙂

So here I am after a rough year, and as eager to write as I was way back when I first started. As my critique partners know, I cut my teeth on historicals, particularly medieval. And last November, I decided to go back to that time period and wrote the first draft of an erotic medieval tale, one that involves capture-fantasy, and features BDSM and ménage elements. Now I am in the middle of revising and polishing, and enjoying the tale as I do so. After I finished it, I pretty much put it aside to get through the holidays and finish up my revisions on Healing the Mage, so the story is feeling rather new to me again, Of course, there are some plot holes to fix, and plenty of typos to correct, and as I am working to fix those, I am realizing that I don’t think I could ever not write. Somehow, some way, whether it be fan fiction, or my own little fantasies, I would write.

I’m not sure what brought all of this to my head in the last few days. But I’ve been thinking the last few days about how close I came to throwing it all away and how very glad I am that I didn’t. Thanks to some friends who knew better than I did, even if at that particular moment, I didn’t want to listen. Thanks guys!