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.

 

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Reviews – Taking the Bitter with the Sweet

When a book releases, reviews usually follow. Sometimes quickly, sometimes not so quick. I found a lovely review for In the Devil’s Arms a good year after it was released. So these things do take time.
I’ve had a couple of recent releases in the last few months, and I’ve sent them off with a fingers-crossed silent prayer that whoever reads them loves them. I’ve been lucky for the most part – most of my reviews that came from review sites and blogs have, overall, been very good.  I know not everyone will love my books, and I usually have a pretty thick skin. I love the feedback, even it it’s not as good as I’d hoped.
 
Prince of the Universe was my first stab at sci-fi. Generally, I’m not a big fan of the genre, a few movies here and there, and an occasional book by a favorite author are about it. But the idea came to me, and I ran with it. I had a blast writing the story. It was a lot of fun, although I did have to do a bit of double-checking on certain things that had to be accurate. The rest, I kind of went with what I envisioned in my head when the first pieces of the story came together. I loved Merry, and wanted to give her the happy ending she deserved after what she’d endured. Same for Vega, even though he was a pompous, arrogant fool at times, he genuinely cared for Merry.  He needed her as much as she needed him.
Apparently, though, I bored the reviewer. Ugh! Bored? Gah, that’s like the kiss of death for a book. I’ve had people trash my characters, my plotlines, even my writing talent. But no one ever said they were bored before. This was new. I sulked for a bit, and lost all desire to continue working on the outline for PotU’s sequel. Logically, I know the book just wasn’t for that reader. It happens, and everyone’s opinion is important. And the review was not done in a mean-spirited way. It was honest. I appreciate that. It’s been some time now, the sting has softened a bit, but the worry remains that people will read that review and steer clear. It happens, and I can’t dwell on it. I have decided I will go ahead and write the sequel. This book will take place entirely on the planet Aldarra, and I’m liking how the plot and conflict are coming together.
My other recent release, Warrior’s Vengeance, was a title I had lots of worries for. I’ve mentioned before the reactions to this book have been extreme, no middle ground. My hero, Ian, can be cruel, and doesn’t always treat the heroine, Marissa, very well. But I wrote this book knowing I was keeping it in sync with events and the people of the times. Of course, I’ve had a few things brought to my attention that I never thought of as I was writing the book, but that’s okay. I kind of expected to be beaten down by readers and reviewers for some of the content, anyway, so those complaints were almost minor. They also spurred a couple of “D’oh!” moments. Haven’t heard the term “bodice-ripper” in a while, but I’ll admit, I liked hearing it. 🙂 

I have a plan for a sequel to this book too, and there are ideas for more books set in 12th/13th century England and Scotland, bringing in some of the paranormal elements I like so much to play with. I truly enjoy that time period, the location, so I want to explore more of the people. I will definitely be producing some more “bodice-rippers” in a similar vein and can only hope they do as well.
Anyway, it seems I needn’t have worried too much about this book – this story resonated with the reviewer. It touched others as well – one reader admitted she had a hard time with the story. I get that – it’s not a light, fluffy story by any stretch of the imagination. But she was honest, and straightforward in her review, and rated the book very highly. I got her point, and it was a pleasure to discuss that with her a little. You can’t ask for more. 
Now, the general rule is, don’t respond to reviews. But I always think it’s nice, when a reader says my story touched her deeply in some way, that I should at least thank her. And it often leads to new experiences I might not otherwise have had. I like to think my instincts are good, and while I don’t often respond to a review, there are those that warrant it, and I’m always glad I did afterward.

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.

In any case, seeing the reactions to Warrior’s Vengeance was a huge bright spot in a gloomy last couple of weeks, which sadly, look to be getting gloomier. I have some thoughts on that, but I don’t know if I’m inclined to share them here yet. I’ve been holding off and taking a wait-and-see approach, but I think that time has come to an end. In the meantime, I’m just trying to keep up with getting two books done – one revised, and one new. And trying not to think too far ahead.

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

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!

Some News and A Pain in the Neck

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.

Aidan Marchand.

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.

“Wh-what?”

“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.

Winners

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!

It’s Release Day!

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