Friday, March 30, 2012

Starting Over

Whew! I just finished a whirlwind frezy of edits for my April 15th release, Darkness Seduced. The book came out fantastic, and I'm so excited. After I finished, I found myself wanting to sashay around my office with a bottle of champagne to toast my awesomeness.

I rode that delicious high for about ten hours, until I got up the next morning and started to work on my next book. The first draft of Darkness Surrendered is already written, so all I need to do is revise it. Easy peasy, right? Well, not so much.

See, what I sat down to start editing it, it was sort of like a gigantic wet noodle slapping me in the face repeatedly. The problem is that the first draft of a new book can't hold a candle to the highly polished and honed final draft of a book. As I started to read the opening chapter, all my elation whooshed out of me and I thought, "Ye Gods, how am I EVER going to make this book as good as the one I just finished???"

I had a bit of a panic moment, and then I recalled feeling that exact same way when I started editing Darkness Seduced, after having finished up Darkness Awakened. And, I'd had the same feeling when I started editing Darkness Awakened, after having finished up Chill. (Is anyone seeing a pattern here?)

It made me remember that all great things and accomplishments don't start out great. At some point, every brilliant and amazing creation was in a raw, unfinished and apparently hopeless stage, no matter how good it turned out. So, it was a great reminder to be easy on myself whenever I'm starting a new project. They always turn out okay, no matter how tough the road seems at the start. So, yeah, the lesson of the day: allow yourself to start from scratch and to enjoy the process of seeing the brilliance emerge over time...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Got Witches?






I do! (Which is actually pretty funny considering Angie’s post yesterday.)
In fact, I’ve got four witches in my newest ebook release, "Touched by Magic."


The paperback was published . . . oh, about a million years ago by the fine folks at Kensington and the ebook is now available exclusively for Kindle.

It’s another historical romance, this one set in the wild mountains of Wales where Gowan, the earl of Welshpool, travels to claim his inheritence and escape his creditors. He doesn’t figure on running into three inept witches, or their niece, Nicolette Rhys, who has real magical powers.


Sparks fly, suspicions flare and a pair of mismatched lovers must discover whether their feelings are the result of sorcery–or the magic of true love.

You can purchase you copy of "Touched By Magic" right by copying and pasting this link:








The original cover...and one of those cover horror stories. The costumes are at least 100 years off, the hero and heroine don't look a thing like they're supposed to...and the necklace? There isn't one in the book!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Witchy research

Hey all,

I was sitting at my kids' swim lessons tonight and getting a few funny looks. I kind of expected it. See, I've been researching a bit for the next Accidental Demon Slayer book. Namely, wicca spells. So here I am, reading a spell book while the kids learn to back stroke. Ok, it was kind of fun.

And these books are really interesting. For example, did you know that if you have a pet dog or cat that likes to get out of the house and wander around, you can solve your problem by rubbing its paws with butter and chanting Roam no more. Yeah, I don't think it will work on Pirate, either. But it's good to know all the same.

Oh and here's a spell I might have to try: Running on Empty (for when your car is almost out of gas). For some reason, I always seem to wait until my car is on fumes before filling up. It was a habit that started in college and, well, has never ended. Back to the spell:

Grab:
A piece of coal
3 small flat stones
A marker
A picture of a camel (I swear I'm not making this up)
A red velvet pouch

Draw the Raido, Eihwaz, and Pertho runes on the stones. Then hold them in your left hand along with the coal and concentrate on the image of a full tank of gas. Wrap the stones inside the picture of the camel, then seal everything in the red pouch and say three times:

My car knows how to make itself go
There are reserves from which it can pull
It doesn't matter what the meter reads
My gas tank is always full

Frankly, I worry that the bag and the camel and the coal will be a lot harder to hunt down than a Mobile on the Run station, but who knows? I may just have to try it and report back to you all. ...Or perhaps you'd be kind enough to wave as you pass me on the side of the road?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lucky in Love Book Signing Giveaway

Happy Monday, everyone!

Less than 30 days until Coveted comes out! Wow, I can't believe it! Have you checked out an excerpt for Coveted yet? I've got a third Romance Trading card coming down the pipeline that I can't wait to reveal! If you're coming to the RT Convention in Chicago you'll get the first peek at them. :D

Will you be in the St. Louis area on the last weekend of April? My launch party for Coveted will be held at Rose's Bookhouse on April 28th from noon to 2pm. Stop on by if you can and say hi!

Now that the countdown has begun, I'm proud to reveal the Coveted Series website! Check it out to get wallpapers, recipes from food mentioned in the book, and character bios. In a few days, the Coveted trailer will be unleashed as well.

On Saturday, I escaped, I mean I headed out, to Rose's Bookhouse for the Lucky in Love Booksigning with Jaci Burton, Jade Lee, Alexandra Ivy, and Shannon Butcher. Beth Kery was scheduled to be there, but had to cancel. But the signing was still awesome! So much fun! Since you know I love a good booksigning, I couldn't help but pick up a title or two for my friends in cyberland. :D

Want to help me celebrate the countdown to the Coveted launch? For the next two weeks, I'll take entrants to the giveaway!



I got so much cool stuff for 4 lucky winners:
  • Signed book from Jaci Burton, TAKING A SHOT, and three cover copies of the other covers. They are so hawt, they sizzle when I pick those things up! Heh heh!
  • Signed book from Jade Lee, WEDDED IN SCANDAL, romance trading card, a card with a code to download the novella, ENGAGED IN WICKEDNESS, and a X-Large Bridal Favors t-shirt. (Let me tell you, folks at RT Convention in Chicago and this signing get first dibs on these, so if you get one you're so lucky.) 
  • Signed book from Alexandra Ivy, BOUND BY DARKNESS, with lots of swag: notepad, cover flat for FEAR THE DARKNESS, bookmark, and Must <3 Gargoyles door hanger (so cute)
  • Signed book from Shannon Butcher, DYING WISH, with handmade book mark with charms (O_O), bookmarks, and I'll even toss in Beth Kery swag into that pot!
And yes, I will ship this internationally if you are a winner. ;)


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Darkness Awakened Winners

Wow! Thank you to all who entered the giveway for Darkness Awakened! I loved everyone's comments about what they liked about paranormal heroes!

With 29 entries, an extra prize was added to the pot, for a total of four winners!

Tiana
Na
Rebe
Ann

There will be another contest with more prizes to celebrate the April 15 release of the second Order of the Blade book, so stop by for more chances to win! Here's a little peek at Darkness Seduced, coming April 15th:



Immortal warrior Gideon Roarke made an oath five hundred years ago to the woman who died for him. The ancient Calydon is ruthless in his quest to honor that promise, even if it means risking everything by teaming up with the one woman who will either destroy him, or finally bring redemption to his blackened, hardened soul.

After escaping from a two-year imprisonment at the hands of a madman, the only thing Lily Davenport wants is to go home and reclaim her life. Unfortunately for Lily, standing between her and that goal is a sensual, demanding protector whose dangerous seduction threatens to claim her life…and her soul.

The Calydons Destiny: The Calydons are a race of ancient immortals cursed with a dark side. Each Calydon is destined to meet his soul mate, to be so drawn to her that he is unable to resist bonding with her through the rituals of his race...

...but their destiny is to destroy each other and all they care about the moment their bond is complete.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life is a zoo...in more ways than one!


Like Shawntelle and her family, we’re having spring break now, too, and although my own kids are grown, I’m not getting off scot-free. Don’t ya know…Grandma’s is a lot more fun than daycare and since Grandma is retired and obviously not doing anything, let’s go there instead. At least that’s it from the perspective of three little boys—a couple of ten-year olds and an eight-year old. Needless to say, I’ve had “company” practically every day this week. (As I write this, they’re down in the family room arguing. If I hear blows being struck, I’ll have to go break up the fight!)

All joking aside, I really don’t mind having them at my house. They may eat constantly, argue a bit now and again, but most of the time they’re pretty well behaved. They do try and avoid, as what one of the ten-year olds calls it, “The Wrath of Grandma.” And for my part, I do try and think up fun things for them to do…like yesterday…taking a trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. My oldest daughter and I (not stupid…no way was I taking those three boys by myself!) packed them up, loaded up the backpacks, and headed for the zoo. We had a great time.

But…I’ve got to admit I really have mixed feelings concerning zoos. Even though the animals are well cared for and, I’m sure, treated in a humane manner, I do find zoos a little sad. This particular zoo has done a lot to make each animal’s habitat similar to what they would experience in the wild, but there’s just something about seeing an animal that’s meant to roam free, confined. On the other hand, I think zoos play an important role in educating children about wild life and endangered species. If a kid has seen a Bengal tiger up close and personal, then hears that the habitat for those tigers is being destroyed, I think they have a better understanding about how important it is to protect our environment.

So there you go…are zoos a good thing or a bad thing? I honestly don’t know. There are three little boys who think they’re pretty cool, but how about you? For or against?

That’s all for this week—see you next Thursday.

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Once Upon a Time . . .







. . .a very long time ago, I began my career writing historical romance.




My very first book, "Twilight Secrets" (written as Constance Laux) was published 20 years ago.




Now, I’m happy to announce that the e-book version is being offered exclusively on Amazon Kindle.



Why historicals?


Well, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a sucker for Victorian England. And that’s when "Twilight Secrets" is set. It’s all about a ravishing young singer trapped in the dank music halls of London and the handsome (of course!) British Army officer who captures her heart.


Wild and reckless love? You bet! There’s adventure, too, and scandal, and heart warming romance. There is also a big dose of mystery in the book. In fact, I’m proud to say that "Twilight Secrets" features my first (fictional, of course) murder.

In the coming weeks, 10 more of my backlist books will be released for Kindle. Join me in spreading the word! Twenty years ago when "Twilight Secrets" was first published, I couldn’t have imagined digital publishing. These days, even though I’m a Kindle Fire owner myself, I’m still amazed at the impact e-books are having on the market.



It’s a brave new world. And I’m thrilled to be along for the ride!


This is the original cover from the long-ago paperback.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The best laid plans...


A few months ago, in a fit of energy, I signed up for this really neat race that's coming up. I think I may have written about it here. It's the Run for Your Lives 5K obstacle course. It's fun because you're out running through a park and it's extra neat because you're being chased by people dressed as zombies. You have to dodge and weave and hope they don't get all of the flags from your flag belt (lest you become one of the undead horde).

Now, as far as I'm concerned, there has been one minor complication with the whole, "run through the woods for miles" plan and that is that I don't know how to run. Oh sure, I could run if chased. But I've never been a track and field type. I've never jogged for fun and it took me two weeks to find my old running shoes (back of the closet, behind lots of old books that I had to fondle first).

Once I found the shoes, I was at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed. So I went to the library and found more books - on running this time (See? An improvement.) Only now, I'm learning all kinds of different techniques for what I'd at first believed was an uncomplicated activity. And, quite frankly, I'm all intimidated as to how to start running and when and how to breathe and I'm thinking I should have not tried to research and just started, oh I don't know - running.

So next week, when the kids are back in school, I'm going to start. It will not be pretty. In fact, it will probably be quite slow. In fact, if you have any tips, I'm all ears. At least the zombie hoard won't be here until August.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Broken - Year 2

A year ago, I had a similar post about the joys of spring break. Ummm, nothing much has changed.

Well, I take that back. It's nice outside this time and the kiddos are outside enjoying the sunshine. They come in once in a while to wreck havoc and then they go back in. For some reason, they keep forgetting to shut the door to the house. If they ever manage to shut it I'll be surprised!

Even though I have several more days to entertain the kids, I've had a fun day so far. I learned that Coveted got a 4 1/2 stars review on RT Book Reviews! My first big review. (You need early access to see it before the release date.) I was pleased as punch to read it.

I'm also participating in the Romance at Random Luck of the Irish Blog hop over on my blog. Check out what I'm giving away. :)

It's only Monday, but the way I see it, there's plenty to do in St Louis and sprinklers are just as fun now as they were when I was a kid.

The silence is just as golden in my house.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

E-Release Day for DARKNESS AWAKENED & Book Giveaway!

I am SO excited to announce the launch of my new dark paranormal series, The Order of the Blade. The series is opening with the Primal Heat trilogy with back-to-back-to-back releases in March (DARKNESS AWAKENED), April (DARKNESS SEDUCED), and May (DARKNESS SURRENDERED). The fourth Order of the Blade book (a stand-alone) will be out this summer. So many ancient, immortal warriors!!! 

To celebrate the launch of this series, I'm having a giveaway bonanza! I'll be giving away a minimum of three books (winners choice of any of my books listed on my website), and I'll add another book for every 20 entries I get! See details below for how to enter.


THE ORDER OF THE BLADE SERIES:

The Calydons are a race of ancient immortals descended from a warrior who saved the world, and then almost destroyed it. His descent into darkness has tainted his descendants for all time.

Every Calydon warrior has the potential to be taken over by his dark side, turning him into a deadly killing machine from whom no innocent is safe. To become a rogue.

The Order of the Blade is the elite group of Calydons who have taken an oath to protect the world from rogue Calydons. They are the most dangerous, the most deadly, most feared and most hated of their kind.

Each Calydon warrior is destined to meet his sheva, the one woman who is his soul mate. He will be so drawn to her that he is unable to resist bringing her into his world by bonding himself to her through the legends of his race...

...but their destiny is to destroy each other and all they care about the moment their bond is complete. They both will die, and everyone they care about will be destroyed.

It is their destiny.

...unless the Order of the Blade kills them both first...

No warrior can afford to bond. Yet they are helpless to stop it.

This series is their story.
DARKNESS AWAKENED:


Quinn Masters will stop at nothing to rescue his rogue teammate, even if it means breaking his Order of the Blade oath and getting a death sentence placed on his head. To save his blood brother and ensure his brand of justice triumphs, Quinn will break every rule of his kind and partner with the sensuous, courageous woman destined to be his ultimate destruction.

Haunted by a brutal past, Illusionist Grace Matthews will risk everything to save her kidnapped sister, including putting her life in the sinfully capable hands of an immortal warrior whose ravaging kisses and intense passion propel her ruthlessly toward a fateful destiny she can't afford to believe in. 


Sound intriguing? Keep reading for a H-O-T sneak peek! 
 
Quinn Masters raced soundlessly through the thick woods, his injuries long forgotten, urgency coursing through him as he neared his house. He covered the last thirty yards, leapt over a fallen tree, then reached the edge of the clearing by his cabin.

There she was.

He stopped dead, fading back into the trees as he stared at the woman he'd scented when he was still two hours away, a lure that had eviscerated all weakness from his body and fueled him into a dead sprint back to his house.

His lungs heaving with the effort of pushing his severely damaged body so hard, Quinn stood rigidly as he studied the woman whose scent had called to him through the dark night. She'd yanked him out of his thoughts about Elijah and galvanized him with energy he hadn't been able to summon on his own.

And now he'd found her.

She'd wedged herself up against the back corner of his porch, barely protected from the cold rain and wet wind. Her knees were pulled up against her chest, her delicate arms wrapped tightly around them as if she could hold onto her body heat by sheer force of will. Her shoulders were hunched, her forehead pressed against her knees while damp tangles of dark brown hair tumbled over her arms.

Her chest moved once. Twice. A trembling, aching breath into lungs that were too cold and too exhausted to work as well as they should.

He took a step toward her, and another, then three more before he realized what he was doing. He froze, suddenly aware of his urgent need to get to her. To help her. To fill her with heat and breathe safety into her trembling body. To whisk her off his porch and into his cabin.

Into his bed.

Quinn stiffened at the thought. Into his bed? Since when? He didn't engage when it came to women. Not anymore. The risk was too high, for him, and for all Calydons. Any woman he met could be his mate, his fate, his doom. His sheva.

He was never tempted.

Until now.

Until this cold, vulnerable stranger had appeared inexplicably on his doorstep. He should be pulling out his sword, not thinking that the fastest way to get her warm would be to run his hands over her bare skin and infuse her whole body with the heat from his.

But his sword remained quiet. His instincts warned him of nothing.

What the hell was going on? She had to be a threat. Nothing else made sense. Women didn't stumble onto his home, and he didn't get a hard-on from simply catching a whiff of one from miles away.

His aching quads braced against the cold air, he inhaled her scent again, searching for answers to a thousand questions. She smelled delicate, with a hint of something sweet, and a flavoring of the bitterness of true desperation. He could practically taste her anguish, a cold, acrid weight in the air, and he knew she was in trouble.

His hands flexed with the need to close the distance between them, to crouch by her side, to give her his protection. But he didn't move. He didn't dare. He had to figure out why he was so compelled by her, why he was responding like this, especially at a time when he couldn't afford any distraction.

She moaned softly and curled into an even tighter ball. His muscles tightened, his entire soul burning with the need to help her. Quinn narrowed his eyes and pried his gaze off her to search the woods.

With the life of his blood brother in his hands, an Order posse soon to be after him, and his own body still half in the grave, he should be so focused on business that a woman could dance naked on his chest and he still wouldn't notice. It shouldn't be possible for a woman he didn't even know, hadn't met and barely even seen to rock him on his ass like this simply because he'd caught a whiff of her scent.

He was disciplined, dammit, and disciplined warriors didn't fall for that shit. It made no sense.

His intense need for her felt too similar to the compulsion that had sent him to the river three nights ago. Another trap? He'd suspected it from the moment he'd first reacted to her scent, but he'd been unable to resist the temptation, and he'd hauled ass to get back to his house. Yeah, true, he'd also needed to get back to his cabin to retrieve his supplies to go after Elijah. The fact she'd imbued him with new strength had been a bonus he wasn't going to deny.

But now he had to be sure. A trap or not? Quinn laughed softly. Shit. He hoped it was. If it wasn't, there was only one other reason he could think that could explain his reaction to her, and that would be if she was his mate. His sheva. His ticket to certain destruction.

No chance.

He wouldn't allow it.

He had no time for dealing with that destiny right now. It was time to get in, get out, and go after Elijah. His amusement faded as he took a final survey of the woods. There was no lurking threat he could detect. Maybe he'd made it back before he'd been expected, or maybe an ambush had been aborted.

Either way, he had to get into his house, get his stuff, and move on. His gaze returned to the woman, and he noticed a drop of water sliding down the side of her neck, trickling over her skin like the most seductive of caresses. He swore, realizing she wasn't going to leave. She'd freeze to death before she'd abandon her perch.

He cursed again and knew he had to go to her. He couldn't let her die on his front step. Not this woman. Not her.

He would make it fast, he would make it efficient, he would stay on target for his mission, but he would get her safe.

Keeping alert for any indication that this was a setup, Quinn stepped out of the woods and into the clearing. He'd made no sound, not even a whisper of his clothing, and yet she sensed him.

She sat up, her gaze finding him instantly in the dim light, despite his stealthy approach. They made eye contact, and the world seemed to stop for a split second. The moment he saw those silvery eyes, something thumped in his chest. Something visceral and male howled inside him, raging to be set free.

As he strode up, she unfolded herself from her cramped position and pulled herself to her feet, her gaze never leaving his. Her face was wary, her body tense, but she lifted her chin ever so slightly and set her hands on her hips, telling him that she wasn't leaving.

Her courage and determination, held together by that tiny, shivering frame, made satisfaction thud through him. There was a warrior in that slim, exhausted body.

She said nothing as he approached, and neither of them spoke as he came to a stop in front of her.

Up close, he was riveted. Her dark eyelashes were clumped from the rain. Her skin was pale, too pale. Her face was carrying the burden of a thousand weights. But beneath that pain, those nightmares, that hell, lay delicate femininity that called to him. The luminescent glow of her skin, the sensual curve of her mouth, the sheen of rain on her cheekbones, the simple silver hoops in her ears. It awoke in him something so male, so carnal, so primal he wanted to throw her up against the wall and consume her until their bodies were melted together in a single, scorching fire.

She searched his face with the same intensity raging through him, and he felt like she was tearing through his shields, cataloguing everything about him, all the way down to his soul.

He studied her carefully, and she let him, not flinching when his gaze traveled down her body. His blood pulsed as he noted the curve of her breasts under her rain-slicked jacket, the sensuous curve of her hips, and even the mud on her jeans and boots. He almost groaned at his need to palm her hips, drag her over to him, and mark her with his kiss. Loose strands of thick dark hair curled around her neck and shoulders like it was clinging to her for safety.

Protectiveness surged from deep inside him and he clenched his fists against the urge to sweep her into his arms and carry her inside, away from whatever hardships had brought her to his doorstep.

Double hell. He'd hoped his reaction would lessen when he got close to her, but it had intensified. He'd never felt like this before. Never had this response to a woman.

What the hell was going on? Sheva. The word was like a demon, whispering through his mind. He shut it out. He would never allow himself to bond with his mate. If that was what was going on, she was out of there immediately, before they were both destroyed forever.

Intent on sending her away, he looked again at her face, and then realized he was irrevocably ensnared. Her beautiful silver eyes were aching with a soul-deep pain that shattered what little defenses he had against her. He simply couldn't abandon her.

It didn't matter what she wanted. It didn't matter why she was there. She was coming inside. He would make sure it didn't interfere with his mission. He would make dead sure it turned out right. No matter what.

Without a word, he grabbed her backpack off the floor, surprised at how heavy it was. Either she had tossed her free weights in it, or she had packed her life into it.

He had a bad feeling it wasn't a set of dumbbells.

Quinn walked past her and unlocked his front door. He shoved it open, then stood back. Letting her decide. Hoping she would walk away and spare them both.

She took a deep breath, glanced at his face one more time, then walked into the cabin.

Hell.

He paused to take one more survey of his woods, found nothing amiss, and then he followed her into his home and shut the door behind them.


So... what do you think? Would you love to have a man like that look at you with that kind of heat? Why do you love paranormal heroes? Leave a comment (on any topic), and you'll be entered to win. Winners get to pick any book from my backlist, including Darkness Awakened (some books are available only as an ebook or print book, depending on the title), and the more entries we get, the more prizes, so spread the word! Contest closes Thursday 3/22 at midnight (eastern) and winners will be announced here on Friday 3/23, so make sure you come back next Friday to see if you won! And... just to tease you a little, here's the cover for Darkness Seduced (Book 2), coming April 15. H-O-T!!!