Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (Sort Of)

How was your long (for you U.S. readers) weekend? Mine was relaxing and a little surreal. You see, I got a big taste of empty nest syndrome. The two college boys (yes, there are two now, ugh) were out of town all last week, making me realize that The Herd (what was once a group of teens always coming and going) is now just The Boy (my youngest, who will be a junior in high school next year). Then said Boy left on Saturday to go to Key West for 10 days with his girlfriend. From Saturday morning to Sunday evening, The Man and I were empty nesters.

And we took full advantage of it.

After doing some quick cleaning, we spent a lazy Saturday reading, writing, revising and taking a couple dips in the pool, then went out for dinner and came home to catch up on Game of Thrones, which we watched until 3 a.m. We stayed in bed until 10:30 or so Sunday (which was awesome! for once, I didn't have anything that I HAD to do that day), then did what we felt like, which was a lot more sitting around being lazy. And all this time, the house actually stayed clean!

One of the college boys came home Sunday evening, but went out with friends right away, then to the beach on Monday. We grilled for dinner and he and a friend actually ate with us, which these days is a miracle. I loved every minute of it. This weekend was so strange with such an empty (albeit clean) house.

I don't know what The Man is going to do when the kids are all gone. He said last night that he'd looked forward to this day so we could "have a life," but sees now that they are our life. He also said he wished we had more. *headdesk*

Anyway, with the long weekend, that makes today a Monday on Tuesday. So it's only sort of Tuesday, which means you get a sort of Teaser. But FIRST, don't forget to check out the Blog Tour page and catch up on all the stops. Every stop is giving away an ebook of Devotion PLUS a chance to win a Nook, all of my books signed and a swag bag. All you have to do is comment for an entry, so the more blogs you comment on, the more entries you get!

Okay, the sort-of tease:

Part of that "writing" listed above that I did this weekend had absolutely nothing to do with Tristan and Alexis. In fact, nothing at all to do with any of the Soul Savers. That's right - I've started something new and shiny. I'm so excited to write this one and can't wait for you to read it! I call it my YOLO project because the tag line (for now anyway) is:

"You only live once...or do you?"

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

So how was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

To Ride a Puca Tour

Today we welcome indie author Heather McCorkle to the blog as part of her To Ride a Puca Tour! Heather has an excerpt to share as well as details on how you can enter the giveaway she's offering. Take it away, Heather!

I brought chocolate cake to celebrate the birth of my new book, To Ride A Puca. Sorry it’s only a picture, but it has less calories that way. ;) Never fear though, I’ve brought more. But first to tell you a bit about the newborn. It is a young adult historical fantasy about the last of the druids in ancient Ireland. This one was a bit heartbreaking to write and because of that it became very special to me. I hope it will be to you as well. Before we get to the other goodies I brought, here is a bit about To Ride A Puca:

Invaders are coming to take what isn't theirs, again.

Neala wants to stand and fight for her homeland, but as one of the last druids, she may be standing alone.

Persecuted, hunted down, forced to live in obscurity, the druids have all but given up. Can the determination of a girl who has barely come into her power bring them together? Or, just when she finally finds her place among her kind, will they end up losing a homeland their very magic is tied to?

And here is an excerpt:
The tender smile he gave her washed away her anger. The fierce protectiveness and pride in his eyes threatened to raise it back up. His fingers traced the line of her jaw and tilted her head up toward him. He leaned in and she closed her eyes. The press of his lips was gentle and perfect, just like she’d imagined it would be. His lips parted and their tongues touched. He tasted of cinnamon and honey. The sensations, the desire, the day she’d had, it was all too much. She pulled away. 

Neala reached up and touched his face. Her fingers found their way to his shoulder-length hair. The silky feel of it against her flesh raised bumps along her arms. His eyes closed and his head leaned back. The near euphoric look on his face reminded her of how he looked when he was contemplating. The restrained feel of his power made her wonder if that was what he was doing.
To Ride A Puca on Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads.

I’ll be giving away great prizes, a new one to a new winner every week for the next four weeks. This week I’m giving away an eBook of BECOME by Ali Cross, a twist on a Norse tale that will leave you breathless, and RUNNING WIDE OPEN by Lisa Nowak, an adrenalin pumping ride with a hot tempered teen who loves car racing. Stop by this link to enter to win. The contest will be open until May 27th, the winner to be announced on the 28th. *passes around cake*

Monday, May 21, 2012

On Tour! (And You Could Win a Nook!)

The Soul Savers gang and I are on tour for the next 10 days - a blog tour, so you don't even have to get up or get dressed. Tristan, Alexis, Owen, the rest of the cast and I are talking about loyalty and betrayal. You won't want to miss a stop, especially because you can enter to win an ebook of Devotion at each blog and also be entered to win some fabulous prizes at the end of the tour!


Grand Prize – Nook Simple Touch (US only)
1st Prize — Paperbacks of all 4 of my books signed (US only)
2nd Prize — Soul Savers Swag bag (US only)
International Prize — All 4 books as ebooks

Simply leave a comment with your email address on each of the tour stops to be entered. The more stops you visit and leave a comment, the more entries you get!


May 21
            Confessions of a Bookaholic - http://www.totalbookaholic.com/
            Forbidden Reviews - http://www.forbiddenreviews.com/

May 22
            A Simple Love of Reading - http://simpleloveofreading.blogspot.com/
            Late Bloomers Online - http://www.latebloomeronline.com/

May 23
            Good Choice Reading - http://www.goodchoicereading.com/
            Living Fictitiously - http://www.living-fictitiously.blogspot.com/

May 24
            The Indie Elite - http://theindieelite.blogspot.com/
            Me and Reading - http://www.ingasilbergbooks.com/

May 25
            Nightly Reading - http://nightlyreading.wordpress.com/
            Ex Libris - http://www.stella-exlibris.com/

May 26
            All Things About Books - http://allthingsaboutbooks.com/
            Insane About Books - http://insaneaboutbooks.blogspot.com/

May 27
            The Cozy Reader - http://thecozyreader.com/
            Reading Angel - http://www.readingangel.com/

May 28
            Books with Bite - http://www.bookswithbite.net/
            Reading Lark After Dark - http://readinglarkafterdark.blogspot.com
            Tina's Book Reviews - http://www.tinasbookreviews.com/

May 29
            A Life Bound By Books - http://alifeboundbybooks.blogspot.com/
            Author Brenda Pandos - http://brendapandos.blogspot.com/

May 30
            Kate's Tales of Books and Bands - http://talesofbooksandbands.com/
            Hopelessly Devoted Bibliphile - http://www.hopelessbibliophile.com/
            Lavender Lines - http://lavenderlines.wordpress.com/

May 31
            Stitch - Read – Cook - http://www.stitchreadcook.com/
            Book Reader Addict - http://bookreaderaddictsgiveaways.blogspot.com/
            Stuck in Books - http://www.stuckinbooks.com/


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

As I've begun the first round of revisions on Book 4 of the Soul Savers Series, I've realized I've never teased you with shared even the first paragraph. I know why - the part of my books that change the most are the beginnings. So this may not last, but I'll tease you with it anyway. ;-)

The very rough but current opening of Book 4:

The spring breeze whipped at the hem of my skirt and filled my nose and throat with salty sea air as we stood on the edge of the cliff, saying our farewells. My hair lashed at my face, but that’s not what caused the tears that stung my eyes. Grief caused them. And the boulder of guilt that had replaced my insides, making it difficult to breathe.
Tristan stood tightly against me, his hand intertwined in mine, returning the squeezes I gave every few minutes. Reassuring me that he didn’t hate me. “It’s not your fault,” he’d told me numerous times over the last two days, and I’d tried to make it my mantra. Still, I couldn’t help but feel that it was. 
Mom stood at the head of our group, leading us in the prayer that we’d said and heard much too often these last few months. Bree stood on the other side of Tristan and Solomon to my right. No one else had come to this private funeral. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Foodie Friday - Pinterest

As much as I love to cook, I've fallen in a rut again, sticking to our pretty regular cycle of old standbys. I've come to realize that's how it is when I'm under deadline, which is pretty much all the time these days. Now that Book 4 is drafted, I'm once again itching to do some "real" cooking. I have tons of cookbooks and a stack of magazines with recipes I'll never get through in a lifetime.

And then I discovered Pinterest. I already have 6 boards just for recipes and most of those pins lead to websites and blogs with more awesome foods to try. How can I ever get through them all??? Of course, I probably never will, but it's cool to have them there. I did try this corn recipe and it was fabulous! The Man and the Herd raved about it.

If you're on Pinterest, please come visit my boards. Check out the recipe ones, and while you're there, you might want to take a peek at my others. There are some specifically for my books and the Soul Savers Series, including separate boards for Alexis, Tristan and Owen. And don't miss the "yum" board! That one's not about food. ;-) I always follow back on Pinterest, too, and would love to check out your goodies.

Have a great weekend and wishing all the moms out there a very Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

In case you didn't see, I finished writing Book 4 of the Soul Savers Series. Just the first draft, of course, and it needs lots and lots of revisions. But, at least, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. If you'd told me five years ago that I'd write and publish a novel, I would have laughed. I can't write fiction. Tried it. Failed. I just don't have a book in me. And now I've written 5, if you include Genesis: A Soul Savers Novella. Unbelievable.

I promised those who helped me celebrate on Facebook a tease today. Please keep in mind, this is a very rough, rough, rough draft. In fact, I found it hard to find something that wasn't spoilery because the book is really just a skeleton right now - the bones of the plot and a few muscles and tendons to hold it together, but not everything fleshed out and hardly any description to make it pretty. But here you go, from Book 4 (which will have a title soon):

As we passed an alley, I caught a very familiar scene out of the corner of my eye, and I stopped.
Tristan, wait!
I turned back and began walking down the alley, toward two vampires with a girl. This time, I knew for sure she was a Norman girl because of her mind signature, and I also knew exactly what they planned to do with her. Their backs were to me, one short and dark-haired, and the other tall. With white-blond hair.
It’s our lucky day, I told Tristan as he joined me in the alley.
Not her, but close enough,” he agreed.
I ran my thumb over the amethyst in my dagger, revealing the silver blade, and withdrew it from its sheath at my hip. Then I ran and lunged at them. The dark-haired one immediately took off and Tristan chased after him. I landed on the back of the blond. Victor. Vanessa’s brother.
He squirmed and bucked, trying to throw me off, but I held on tightly, my thighs gripping his waist and my arms around his shoulders. I held the silver blade to his neck and he froze.
“That’s a good boy,” I said, still hanging onto his back. I peered over his shoulder at the girl. With long dark hair and dark eyes, tall and thin, she reminded me so much of Sheree. I thanked God that I’d been able to stop the attack on her. “Go. Now!”
Just like Sheree had done so long ago, the girl scrambled to her feet and stumbled down the alley. Victor made another attempt to throw me off. The blade slid across his skin and he yelped from the contact of the silver. He froze again.
“Your sister’s right. You really are an idiot, aren’t you?” I asked.
“Get the fuck off me,” he growled.
“Answer a question for me and I’ll think about it.”
“I have nothing to tell you.”
I pressed the blade harder against his throat. He whimpered. “I just want to know where Vanessa is.”
“I don’t know.” Victor stiffened even more under my muscles, but I hadn’t done anything to cause it. 
“I suggest telling the truth,” Tristan said. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Addiction

Five years ago today, I quit smoking. Sort of. Don't congratulate me because I can't really celebrate anything here. There have been times that I've been drinking beer with friends and lit up one or two or more. There have been times I've bought a pack ... and then another ... And then I'd cut myself off for months or longer ... and then I'd give in again. So no, I can't say that I haven't smoked in five years.

Nicotine is a nasty addiction and one of the most dangerous drugs out there. Like the other most dangerous drug, alcohol, it's legal. Which makes breaking the addiction even harder.

Most people who have never smoked don't understand the addiction and how hard it is to fight. And for those of us struggling through it day in and day out, we just can't find a way to explain what it's like. There seems to be no comparison. Nothing we say can give the feeling justice.

Maybe you're one of those who have a loved one who smokes and don't understand why it's so difficult for them to quit. Maybe you're a smoker, current or former, who's tried to find the right way to describe what it's like but can never do it right.

As I've been thinking about this milestone that I should be celebrating but can't, I think I finally found a way to describe the addiction and what it's like without a fix. Maybe it'll help you understand or it's something you can share with others so they can understand you better.

At first, I was thinking that quitting smoking is like wearing a new bra that fits tighter than your old, broken-in ones and you can't wait to take it off at night. But it's more than that. I think putting out that last cigarette and deciding to quit is more like strapping on a corset women used to wear to cinch their waists into the size of a wine bottle.

Each passing day, hour, sometimes minute of not smoking is like mama pulling the strings a little tighter until, ironically, you feel like you can't breathe. You're strapped into this contraption (commitment) that squeezes and contorts you into something that looks (and smells) beautiful but you still hate it.

But, in this case anyway, the corset is healthy. You know in your mind that wearing it is for your own good. That you'll live longer, feel better, look healthier. So you keep it on, day and night. Eventually you get used to it. After a while, you even might forget you have it on. The desire to yank it off diminishes and you think, "I'm doing this! Look how beautiful and sexy and healthy I am. I'm a corset-hottie! Er, non-smoker!"

Then you're drinking a cup of coffee or having a beer with friends one day - something you've been doing since wearing your corset - and all of a sudden it just feels wrong. Corset and coffee don't go together! You can't drink a beer with this thing on! You remember that you're wearing it again. And it suddenly becomes the only thing you can think about, so obviously uncomfortable you can't stand it a minute longer. So you think, I'll just loosen it up a little - just smoke one for old time's sake. It's not like I'm taking it completely off.

And then something in life happens as it always does. Stress yanks those strings tighter and tighter until you think you're going to burst through the damn thing. All you can think about is breaking out of the prison that it is. Yanking it off. Throwing it to the ground and burning it. Because then you, the real you, the one you've been strangling and trying to pretend doesn't exist, can finally hang out. Can finally breathe.

You walk by someone smoking and inhale deeply, actually enjoying the smell even as that corset pulls tighter. You envy how smokers can live their lives free and openly and not be jammed into something that doesn't fit - that just isn't them, isn't true to life - while you're cinched into something that you're not, just so you can look good for others.

And you can't stop thinking about it, hating it, and you're dwelling, stewing, going crazy until you start pulling your hair out because you've been cooped up in this thing for so long, pretending that you're something you're not because deep down in your heart and soul you're a smoker and you want to smoke and you want to welcome that old friend back into your life because it's there no matter what, not judging you as you show your true self but accepting you for who you are and you need just one, just one, just one.

So you light it up. Just one. And the corset loosens. Your body sags with the relief of it. You can breathe! That one feels so good, you must have another. And another. And next thing you know, the corset falls to the floor and you're released from its hold. You can finally be you again! You can just let it all hang out, as ugly as it is but at least it's you and you don't have to pretend anymore because you're free! Free, free, free!

But you're really not. Eventually you realize it. The addiction is the real prison. The nicotine is the true ball and chain. Because you're always thinking about it and planning around it and even saying no to exciting experiences because you're afraid you won't be able to smoke, which will stress you out so it won't be fun anyway and it's just better if you stay home. Where you can be yourself. With the only friend you'll have one of these days because you've put it before all others.

So before that happens, you know you must put that corset on again and this time not take it off. Ever. Because it's better to be a fake you than a dead you. Or is it?

Perhaps there comes a time when you don't feel the corset anymore. When that smoker part of you has been squeezed out until it exists no longer and eventually the corset falls away and you don't even notice that you're the real you again, just not the smoker you. I don't know.

I've been smoking on and off since I was 17 years old. I grew up with smokers, none whom have quit permanently. I've quit for years at a time, but I always feel that corset. Still to this day. Perhaps I always will.

In the meantime, I struggle with it and hope that my family and friends will finally understand and still be there for me. Not give up on me. Still love me for who I am, smoker or non. I truly want to be a non-smoker. I should be celebrating five years of being so. But I'm not. I never will be until I truly feel it in my heart and soul. Until then, I'm wearing that corset, and there's always a chance I'll fling it off before it ever falls away naturally. For all of you ex-smokers who have discarded the corset permanently, I applaud you. You are my heroes!

Can you relate at all? Can you see this in your loved ones fighting their addictions? Perhaps it's not smoking for you, but something else that is your corset in life. Can anyone tell me if it finally disappears for good?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Karma (and Other Good Stuff From RT)

This post should have gone up a long time ago, as in when I first returned from RT a few weeks ago, but there's been so much going on. For one, I was waaaaaay behind deadline for finishing the first draft of Book 4. I've been completely focused on getting that done since I've been home, at the detriment to everything else (just ask my family). But I'm done now. Book 4 is written. Woohoo!

For two, my boxes that I had to ship home from Chicago went on a little extra excursion because of a misunderstanding between my mailbox center and FedEx Ground. And inside one of those boxes was this:

What is that? That's a big card of autographs I collected at the big RT Book Fair. But I'm not just sharing it to brag (yes, I did meet and chat with every one of those authors PLUS others which was way cool). I have a story to tell (after all, I'm a writer) and it begins several months ago.

Back in December, I'd decided to kick-off Devotion's release with a review tour, rather than a full-blown blog tour with interviews and guest posts, which would come later. Dozens of awesome blogs participated, some of them new to the Soul Savers Series. They became avid fans and cheerleaders and I love them all to death. To show my appreciation for all they did for me and other authors, I entered the bloggers into a drawing for a Kindle Fire. The fabulous Michele Luker of Insane About Books and Page Turners won!

Me with Michele Luker!
Now fast-forward to Saturday, April 14, basically the last day of RT. The day of the big Book Fair that's open to the public. People were lining up as early as 6 a.m. for the doors to open at 11. As I'm walking down the huge line, guess who I find? Michele Luker! There was a bit of squeeing and hugs and pictures. She had me sign her Kindle Fire case. It was a pretty awesome author moment.

I had already signed at the Expo on Thursday, so at the Book Fair, I pretty much just got to be a fan. I met some authors I'd come to know online. I collected autographs. I participated in this "The Big Basket-of-Books Contest," where I had to get every participating author's signature. I wanted them anyway and I kept saying, "If I have to turn this card in to enter, forget it. I'd rather have the autographs." A pretty cool keepsake. Glad I didn't have to turn it, but just had to write down my name and phone number.

There's a Nook in there! And a hawt coffee mug from Jessa Slade.

And guess what? We're sitting in the bar later that evening and I get a text from the lovely Tes Hilaire, the organizer of The Big Basket-of-Books Contest. I won a Nook! I couldn't freakin' believe it! Just that morning I'd met the woman whom I was privileged to give a Kindle Fire to, and now it was my turn.

So yes, my lovelies, Karma definitely exists and she's only a bitch when you are. Otherwise, she's a very lovely lady.

I must send out HUGE thanks and shout-outs to the authors that went in on The Big Basket-of-Books Contest. THANK YOU, ladies, for your awesomeness! Readers, check out their books if you haven't already.

Tess Hilaire (Special thanks for organizing the event!)
Ann Aguirre (Special thanks for her donation of the Nook!!! And she's really awesome. And funny.)
Jessa Slade (Thank you for the lovely coffee cup!)
Shannon Delany (Who was fabulous to meet in person after chatting so much on FB!)
Leanna Renee Hieber
Kady Cross
Sophie Jordan
Vicky Dreiling
Shana Galen
Delilah Marvelle
Maire Clairmont
Tessa Dare
Vivian Arend
Zoe Archer
Angie Fox
Laurie London
Caridad Pineiro

What else happened at RT? Tons! I'll share in pictures. We had so much fun, we're definitely planning to make the trip to Kansas City next year. Hope to see you there!

Best Author Friends Forever finally meet! Brenda Pandos & me!

Had to share just for the background. :)
View from our table for the Scottish Fling night. Just had to share.
Ready for the Faery Ball - Jessica & Lisa from DEVOTION, ha!
Fan and writer Erica came to see me at the Expo!

ETA: Me, Mindy Fangedmom & Brenda right before the Expo.
Me with Mindy Fangedmom's famous tote bag during the Expo.
Signing a Kindle Fire. No kidding! I was nervous. LOL
Flapper girls for Roaring 20s night
Publisher Chrissi, Me and Brenda ready to party our last night
My book haul from RT 2012 - doesn't include the huge bag full of swag! Or the others I found in another bag.
Books signed by the author - yes, including Anne Rice! Again, I found a couple more in another bag.