Don’t get me wrong – there are a few places I avoid getting in too deep reading reviews. When a reviewer reports my work is poorly written and needs editing, then lists Fifty Shades as one of her Top 10 All Time Favorites, well, I can’t take that reviewer too seriously. Sorry for anyone who’s a fan of those books – I am not. I tried, I really tried, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
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
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!
So once again, I’ve let too much time pass between posts. I’m sitting propped up with pillows and a neck pillow to try and ease this really, really painful stiff neck. I can barely move at all. Spent entire day yesterday nursing my little guy, thankfully he seems to be much better. Never a dull moment.
But I woke to a wonderful surprise this morning. Noble Romance Publishing has offered me a contract for Healing the Mage, the sequel to In The Devil’s Arms. Some of you may remember the snippet I posted a couple of months back, and my critique partners are very familiar with Lily and Aidan. As you can imagine, I am thrilled! I will have more details as they become available. At this moment, I have two other books planned in this series, characters and plotlines on my spreadsheets, and I have a glimmer of an idea for another. For now, though, those are on hold as I work on revisions for two others, The Night Club, my next vampire story, and the medieval Scottish tale I wrote during NaNo. It doesn’t really have a title, been calling it Passion’s Vengeance, but I really need to come up with another. Hmm, just got an idea. Stay tuned. 🙂
To celebrate this good news, here’s another little snippet from Healing the Mage:
The crack of leather against flesh, followed immediately by a muffled grunt from the submissive bound to the bench, cut through the hushed murmurs of the spectators. The spotlight bore down on the couple in the center of the room, the viewing area shrouded with dark shadows.
Ignoring the scene before them, Aidan Marchand stared at his soon-to-be former business partner. The man had finally cracked. Another strike of the submissive’s flesh, and the scene ended as she writhed on the bench, clearly reaching the desired climax, her cries filled with heat and tears. Aidan turned again to the pair being observed by many eager eyes, but he barely noticed the way the Dom unbound his submissive and drew her into his arms.
“Think about it, Marchand,” Eddie Orvano said, his own beady gaze focused on the pair scening before them. “The money we can make — “
Aidan held up a hand. “Not here.” He glanced around, though no one paid them any attention.
Eddie led Aidan to a somewhat secluded corner. The party wasn’t as crowded as earlier, many of the single attendees having left or found a partner to play with. Aidan closed his eyes against the throbbing in his head. It only grew worse, intensifying with every passing hour. As soon as he let Eddie know he planned on ending their partnership, he would head home to his comfortable bed and a long night’s sleep. He had too many other issues to focus on, and getting caught up in Orvano’s depraved scheme would ruin everything.
“Look at all these girls. They’re playing,” Eddie said. He waved a hand about, indicating several single women perched at various places near the doorway, all subs based on the ribbons pinned to the right side of their outfits. The one in the middle, a striking Creole enchantress. Aidan had seen before. He and Eddie had had a three-way with her several weeks ago.
“That’s what these parties are for. To play.” Aidan emphasized the word. What the fuck had he been thinking to come tonight? He’d had no inclination to scene with anyone, but Eddie had lured him with the hint of a new business venture. At first intrigued, now he wanted nothing more than to get away from the man who had finally let his fascination with the dark arts overcome him. This wasn’t just playing with mind control and pushing the limits with magic and sex, what Orvano planned crossed so many lines, at the least unethical, at worst, illegal. And insane.
“That’s not what I mean. How many of these women really have any idea what it’s like to be a true slave? No rights, no say in their lives. Merely a possession.” The eagerness in Eddie’s voice, the unholy light gleaming in his tiny eyes, sent another flash of fiery pain through the center of Aidan’s brain.
He shook his head, then stopped when the pain worsened. “You’re a sick fuck. That’s not what this is about. What the hell happened to you?”
“Nothing happened to me except a need to make money. Do you know how much some of those rich foreign dignitaries will pay for American women? I’d prefer non-Magiste women, but think about it. All these lovely enchantresses and low-level witches are easy enough to subdue. You bind their magic, they’re the same as mortal women. I’m telling you, Marchand, we’d make fucking boatloads of money! I’ve got a business plan all laid out, the equipment and locations selected. Now it’s time to put the plan into play. That’s where you come in.”
“No way. You’re not getting me involved!”
“You’re involved Marchand. I need your money to secure everything and get this operation running. I’m this close to hiring a manager to oversee the daily workload. I’ve got a few trainers lined up, too. It’ll be slow at first, but once we pick up a few girls, things are gonna get real busy real fast.”
How Aidan possessed the strength not to lose his dinner right here on the floor, he’d never know. “You’re not getting one dime out of me. I’m having my lawyer draw up papers to dissolve our partnership.”
Aidan turned to leave, but Eddie’s grip on his arm stopped him. He turned and stared into Orvano’s twisted face, thin lips curled with rage, eyes darkened with menace.
“You’ll stake me, Marchand. That pretty Creole over there? She told me she wasn’t really willing with you. She’ll testify before the Tribunal if it comes to that.”
“What are you talking about? She was more than willing with both of us and everything we did.” Aidan remembered the night. While the evening had at first started out as enjoyable, he’d quickly grown tired of her attempts to top from the bottom. His annoyance had led him to perhaps be harsher with her than he intended, but he knew she’d loved every minute of the way he whipped her.
Eddie shrugged, the skin-tight black shirt pulling over his shoulders. “You should see the video I got of you with that whip. Left some nice marks. She’s got photos of every one you put on her.”
Aidan clenched his fingers, trying to force back the thumping in his head, which continued to increase with each passing second. He needed to get out of here. Now.
“Eddie, leave me out of this,” he hissed through clenched teeth.
“You’re in. Until I say otherwise.”
He scowled at the triumphant gleam in Orvano’s eyes and turned, his head near exploding. If he didn’t get some air, he would pass out. He finally made his way outside to the street, gulping in deep breaths. The pain in his head spread down through his shoulders and along his back. More than a headache bothered him. Il Relache. Why had the damn process chosen now to kick in?
He needed to get home, before the process rendered him weak with the pain of his growing powers. Where the hell was the nearest Portal? He didn’t see any signs of the magical glowing arch used for travel by the Magiste. Damn! The closest one was through the park. He straightened, forcing himself to concentrate on reaching the Portal.
* * * * *
Lily walked along the deserted street, wishing she’d left the bar earlier with her friends. Why did the wrong sort of man always attract her? Each time she let one get close, he hurt her in some way, proving her judgment had not gotten any better. No more. She was done with men.
Now, long after midnight, she found herself alone again, even Chartres Street dead silent and empty, unusual in this party town on a Saturday night. The faint sounds of Bourbon Street bars, the odd mix of jazz, blues and rock and roll, punctuated by drunken shouts and catcalls, faded as she approached Jackson Square.
The park, a favorite place to hang out during her teenage years, seemed eerily deserted. She’d timed this perfectly, so no one would see her tear-streaked makeup.
For a moment, Lily longed to go home to her parents and cry to her mother, to listen to the older woman’s advice and comfort as she had during her horrific teenage years. She shook her head. She’d cut those ties but good a long time ago. Her mother no longer offered the haven of reassurance she’d once been. Regret still burned in Lily’s gut, but she would prove to all of them she could survive without magic. Her job skills served her well, and she didn’t need magic to achieve what she’d accomplished in the last three years. If only her family could be proud of her. Why couldn’t they ever see her as worthy? Her parents’ success had always been an impossible goal to strive for. Lily sighed and kicked the air, wishing she had something more satisfactory as a target. Her doubts in herself always came back to her parents’ unreasonable expectations, always when she –
Something stabbed into her side, like a knife burning into her body, twisting, ripping her apart. What the hell? She looked down, expecting to see spurting blood, but the pain stopped. And slammed into her again. She doubled over, her stomach heaving.
An agony-filled groan sliced through the humid night. She looked around. No one. No wounds appeared on her body. Could this all be in her mind? Mon Dieu, what could it be? She wanted to scream against the rising volume resonating in her head, each throb and pound like crashing cymbals inside her brain. She couldn’t be imagining this agony, it hurt too much.
Another twist of fire along her spine and she cried out, falling to her knees. She pressed her hand against her mouth to prevent the scream from escaping. What was happening? She could barely see through the suffocating distress.
More cries, moans. She looked around again. There. Behind the statue of Jackson. She sucked in air and forced herself to stand on shaky legs. Each halting step jarred, each rasping breath scorched as she inched closer to the statue. She leaned heavily against the stone and panted. The soreness in her side receded a little and she crept around the monument.
A man lay huddled on the ground, curled into a fetal position. She forced her concentration on him, forced herself to ignore the pain still pulsing throughout her, though different now. The hoarse whimpers continued to increase. Lily crawled closer, each movement slow and careful, so as not to startle him. Another rough shout pierced the night and Lily froze momentarily before continuing to approach. The man clutched his head and gave a violent shudder, another deep cry torn from him.
Hesitating but a second, Lily knelt beside him, reaching out. He writhed with pain, but the instant her hand touched his shoulder, he calmed. Her fingers burned where they came in contact with him, but surprisingly, it didn’t hurt. Instead, a burst of energy coursed through her, flowing from her fingers and into the man.
His violent movements slowly stilled. He turned to her and opened his eyes. She froze, pinned by his silvery gaze. She should have known, should have recognized the pale blonde hair plastered to his head with sweat.
It had been years since she’d seen him, even longer since she’d exchanged more than a word or two with him. Her godmother Helene’s stepson. She’d barely known him, he’d been a few years ahead of her in school. She’d never given him more than a passing thought. What was wrong with him? Had he been cursed? She needed to get him some help.
She drew her hand away, and he immediately cried out, his body wracked once more with shudders. The sharp stabbing started again in her side, fiercer than before. She bent over, seeking some way to ease it. He reached for her and before she could back away, had grabbed her wrist. Even in the throes of whatever madness held him, his grip remained strong, too strong to break. But he calmed once more.
“Don’t let go.” She barely understood his slurred words.
“You’re a Healer. Don’t let go.”
“I . . . but . . . . ” She couldn’t break free if she tried. He was right. She possessed the gift of healing. And she could deny it no longer.
I had meant to post this last night, but when I got home from critique group, the little guy was still awake, and the next thing I knew, I wasn’t! LOL!
In any case – Congratulations to Brita Addams and Alina290 – you’ve each won a copy of In The Devil’s Arms!
I’ll need your email addresses – still figuring this blog thing out, is there a way to direct message me? I know that’s a feature with LiveJournal, Twitter and Facebook, but am still a little clueless with this. I also haven’t figured out how to follow blogs – I thought I was following several people but apparently I’m not. *sigh*
Somehow, I’ll figure it out – but I’m open to any info anyone can share! 🙂 I think I’ve got way too many places to keep up with!
Congratulations to the winners!
This day has finally arrived! I’m so excited to finally see In The Devil’s Arms released. Many many months of blood, sweat, and yes, quite a few tears, have paid off. This book is very near and dear to me for a lot of reasons, especially the people who inspired it, and encouraged me to keep going, even when I was ready to give it all up. And I quite literally was ready to give up the dream of seeing myself published again. Not only that, but this book inspired my current WIP, and spurred plans for another book or two in the Magiste community in New Orleans. The Magiste, which is the term encompassing various types of magical people, are everywhere, as I am finding out through some new characters who’ve recently introduced themselves to me. 🙂
Back to In The Devil’s Arms – I can’t stop staring at the cover. It is simply gorgeous, when I first saw it, it left me breathless. I’m getting silly about it, too, I think. I’ve printed a few copies to place around my various work areas, and even downloaded it to my phone. Fiona Jayde is an amazingly talented artist. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:
And the blurb:
“Helene Gaudet is finally free of her past – a rageful ex-husband whose curse has left her unable to have children. Helene shares those past agonies with no one – certainly not with a Marchand.
Her lonely life is upended when she encounters who she believes is her perfect Dom in an internet chat room. To her shock, her Dom is none other than Devlin Marchand, the very person who handed her over to a dark sorcerer to be killed.
Yet, Devlin proves himself to be a loving Master, and lust and love grow with each tormenting, releasing, encounter. But guilt over his past betrayal is multiplied when he learns the curse that has dogged his lover for years comes from the trove of magic created by his very own family. Devlin fears all he has built with Helene will be destroyed.
Can they overcome the past to have a future together?”
As my critique partners and friends all know, I love playing in alternate worlds, or realities, or planets. Magic is one of my favorite alternates, because I love how it can be used in so many ways. I’m also partial to vampires, and am trying to figure a way to blend the two again, as I did in The Taste of Magic. There are some ideas brewing, but I am trying to keep it to just notes until I finish Healing The Mage (for my critique partners, that’s Lily & Aidan). Harry Potter and Charmed are two of my favorite obsessions, as well as Highlander, which is an alternate reality as well. And a longtime favorite that is inspiring another set of characters is Dragon Ball Z, one of the most popular Japanese anime series from the 1980’s & 90’s. The recent remastering for the 25th anniversary has revved up my love for this show, especially those nasty Saiyan warriors, Vegeta and Raditz. Yes, I freely admit, I am partial to the bad boys and villains! I’m also starting to dip my toes into the True Blood pool, I’m sure it won’t be long before that takes up a permanent space in my favorite things list. Like I need another obsession to take up my time.
So in celebration of the release, I am giving away copies of In The Devil’s Arms randomly to two commenters to this post. So comment here and share your favorite magical stories, or recommendations. Or simply say hello!
In the meantime, pop over to Noble Romance and take a look at some of their other titles as well. Every one I’ve read is hot, hot, HOT! Here’s the link: http://www.nobleromance.com/Default.aspx