I’d like to welcome Tina Donahue to the Block. Tina’s got a new sexy novel releasing this week and I’m so pleased she’s taking some time to stop here and chat about it. Take it away Tina …
I’d never been a sci-fi fan. At least, when it came to stuff like Star Wars or Star Trek.
Films such as Blade Runner, Gattaca, and Avatar changed that.
Although my Outlawed Realm series is billed as erotic paranormal, it still has elements of sci-fi in it. For example, the world building I do. I got the yen for that after seeing Avatar. Wow, what a freaking cool film.
In plotting Outlawed Realm, I had the idea that Earth would have five dimensions, rather than only one. With the realms travelling at different speeds, the inhabitants of each plane are unaware of each other.
Unless, of course, a portal opens.
The series begins with UNENDING DESIRE. My hero, Nikoli, is from E2 (the second dimension on Earth). It’s his job to monitor portals, which open spontaneously, and to make certain no one crosses over to his side. While doing this, he sees Regina who lives in Seattle (E1). His world shifts, and he’s never the same. You see, in E2 everything is controlled, emotion isn’t allowed, the men are identical in appearance. All the women look like each other. Regina’s literally a breath of fresh air for him, and she’s in danger. He crosses over to save her, which throws both of them into peril.
In book two, ILLICIT DESIRE, I introduced E4, a twilight land filled with jungles. Here, the rulers of E2 have built the Pleasure Palace where they keep sexual slaves for their enjoyment. These slaves are human, but they weren’t born. They were grown in artificial wombs, never knowing freedom. They don’t even have names. Two of the slaves have fallen in love and risk their lives to escape their prison.
SHAMELESS DESIRE, book three, concerns Kuma, a shifter who lived in E4’s jungle, but crossed over to Seattle when a portal opened. Like Nikoli in Unending Desire, he needs to protect Gwen, the heroine, from danger.
Stolen Desire, book four (March 11; available for preorder), takes place on E5, a dimension of ice and fire. Paige, my heroine, awakes to find herself in a world she can’t comprehend, faced with a man she doesn’t know but has to trust. Her life and freedom, their future depend upon it.
Avatar kept popping up in my mind while I was writing Stolen Desire. I wanted the same sense of wonder in it as I discovered in the movie. To create a world so unique, thrilling, dangerous, and in many ways beautiful, that a reader couldn’t help but be enthralled. There’s also a moving love story, and yes—lots of hot sex.
Her freedom depends on one man. A criminal to his realm…
Outlawed Realm, Book 4
One minute, Paige Ross is outside a Seattle bar, grieving a failed engagement. The next, she jerks awake in a weird, candlelit room with velvet walls, black silk sheets, and a man who motions for silence.
Paige has little choice but to trust the powerful stranger who promises a way out of what looks like Satan’s brothel. And pray his promise to keep her safe is as real as the heat burning in his eyes.
Banished from E2’s ruling elite for supposed crimes against the realm, Zekin risks everything to rescue those brought to E5 for the guards’ carnal pleasure. Paige will be leaving this inhospitable realm of fire and ice—if he can somehow forget the way her trembling body melts in his arms.
Safe—temporarily—in an underwater world populated by strange creatures, Paige’s sexual awakening explodes into an unquenchable need that consumes them both. But the guards will be looking for her. And Zekin’s plan to send her home is a dangerous journey she cannot—will not—take without him.
Warning: Scorching-hot sex and loads of aching tenderness between a drool-worthy hunk who’s determined to do the right thing and a woman who’s not about to give him up.
Thick gray clouds rolled above them, heavy with more snow. A sliver of bluish-white light poured through a gap in the cloud cover, as though the moon were trying to bleed through. Its rays swept across the land, which shimmered in the frail glow, sparkling like thousands of diamonds. The effect lasted only a moment, and then the light receded, with shadows once again taking over the hostile terrain.
As though that worried him, Zekin increased his already fast pace, pausing only once to shove her clothing into a snowdrift, burying it.
Paige wasn’t able to ask. She struggled to keep up, gulping air. It should have been icy, hurting her throat, but wasn’t. The transparent mask no doubt heated it. How was that possible? Desperate for answers, she cried out, “Where are we going?”
Zekin looked over. “A colony where you’ll be safe.”
Paige dug her fingers into his hand. “Where are we? What is this place?”
What in the hell was that? A government installation where scientists conducted classified studies and had pleasure slaves on the side? That made absolutely no—
Wait a sec. Suddenly, Paige recalled Zekin mentioning E1 when he’d first come into her room.
“I’ll do all I can to bring you back to E1,” he’d promised her then.
Instinctively, she held back. Just as quickly, Zekin yanked her forward.
“Don’t fight me,” he warned, “or you’ll end up like the others you saw outside the guards’ outpost.”
Paige shivered so badly, her voice shook. “Did those bastards throw the bodies out there after they murdered those people?”
“Only some. The others they pushed out there to die.”
“They weren’t useful any longer.” Again, he glanced over. “When one of the guards found you and brought you here, they got rid of the other woman. That’s what they do when they tire of females from your realm, or the pleasure slaves they haven’t already killed.”
Paige was about to pepper him with more questions. Instead, her mind snagged on one word—realm.
“You mean country?” Maybe she’d been wrong about his nationality. It wasn’t Greek or Middle-Eastern but Russian. Could be this was Siberia. In a weird sort of way, that made sense. “Is that what you meant—my country? The USA? America?”
He regarded the landscape past her. “We have to hurry before the other guards return and see us.”
Paige couldn’t imagine how that was possible. The material covering them was the same tint as their surroundings, making them virtually invisible…unless the guards had some kind of special eyewear, like night-vision goggles, that allowed them to see what the naked eye couldn’t. “How far is the colony?”
“Past that body of water.” He gestured toward what appeared to be an enormous frozen lake ringed by drifts.
As Paige scanned the area beyond it, searching for some sort of building, a flock of birds flew over the lake. At least she thought they were birds. Their thick feathers were an ashy white, their wingspans enormous, like nothing she’d ever seen.
Available for pre-order from:
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*** This Giveaway is closed ***
Tina is giving away one of her award-winning, best-selling books
from the list below to one person who comments on this post until
midnight MARCH 10 EST. (Please be sure to include your email with your comment)
1. Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
2. Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit
3. Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
4. In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
5. Sensual Stranger – 2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT
6. The Yearning – Top Ten Bestseller
7. Take Me Away – #1 Pick, Miz Love Loves Books
8. Unending Desire – Best Book Rating LASR
9. SiNN – Nominated for Book of the Week LASR
10. Sinfully Wicked – Magnificent – Romancing the Book
11. Claiming Magique – Top Pick – NOR
12. Illicit Desire – Four Stars Romantic Times
13. Come Fill Me – Five Stars – Guilty Pleasures
Tina Donahue is an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, and Kensington. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic romances (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were named finalists in the 2011 EPIC competition. The French review site, Blue Moon reviews, chose her erotic romance Sensual Stranger as their Book of the Year 2010 (erotic category). The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for Lush Velvet Nights, and two of her titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition (2011 and 2012). Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). Tina is featured in the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. She was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.
You can find all her book news on her website or follow her on her blog, at Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Tina is always happy to hear from her readers. She can be reached at Tina@TinaDonahue.com
I am very blessed to have found an awesome cover artist in Dar Albert of Wicked Smart Designs. She’s helped me design all the book covers for my self-published books. Not only is she talented, but she’s also patient through the design process.
Since I’m sooooo in LOVE with my covers, it won’t surprise any of you that I entered two of my covers in the Houston Bay Area RWA’s JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER contest. Covers are judged by a panel and separately by readers. Voting for the Reader’s Choice Awards is open now. Click HERE to vote.
A TOUCH OF LILLY is entered in the Science Fiction category.
IN HIS EYES is entered in the Romantic Suspense category.
There are some amazing covers. What I love about this contest is that you judge each cover individually on a scale of 1 to 5, not against other covers. You also don’t have to vote for all covers, though they do prefer you judge all covers in a category.
If you have time … it’s totally worth checking out the covers and voting!
I’d like to welcome author Renee Vincent. Renee is an author, a dreamer, a horse owner, and a medieval history buff. She’s a fun-loving, mildly eccentric, free-spirited kind of girl with a passion for books. From an early age, she’s always had scenes playing out in my head. Whether it was a story with a moral or a tale with a twist, those ideas never let her sleep until she wrote them out. And considering she had an eclectic ensemble of stories swarming in her brain at any given time, she wrote under a couple pen names to accommodate the various genre categories.
(Historical & Contemporary Adult Romance)
From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, you’ll be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love.
Gracie Lee Rose
(Lighthearted, Fancy-free Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit)For those who love to read fun, wholesome, and endearing romantic stories (with a smidgen of spunk) that your mother, sisters, friends, and daughters can enjoy.
You can keep up with Renee/Gracie’s latest books on her website and blog or by following her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. And if you’d like exclusive access to her giveaways, sign up for her newsletter. Renee is here to announce an exciting new venture she’s taking with several other authors …
Several of Turquoise Morning Press’ award-winning and bestselling authors share their favorite contemporary romance heroes – all boxed up for you in one sexy and irresistible package!
From a sexy carpenter to magnetic CEO, a rough-and-ready cowboy to a “homeless man,” a classic car buff, a starving artist, a Latin-style dancer, and an FBI agent – each unique hero has his own story to tell, and a heroine who just can’t forget him. Ever.
With an introductory promotional price of only 99¢,
how can you resist this unforgettable boxed set, either?
Release date: January 30, 2014
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Format: Ebook only
Barnes & Noble
All Romance Ebooks
Promotional Price: $0.99
Retail Price: $4.99 (April, 2014)
Eight Contemporary Romance Novels
WILL WORK FOR LOVE by Amie Denman, EPIC Award and Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence finalist. Hurricane Destiny leaves a trail of destruction across the island of St. Thomas, jeopardizing the wedding of Whitney Oliver’s best friend. When Whitney arrives on the island, she finds a disaster only a sexy carpenter like Chris Maxwell can repair. Despite the sizzle between them, Chris has secrets that threaten his construction business and force him to work for Whitney’s love.
THIS MAGIC MOMENT by Bobbye Terry, award winning author of contemporary, historical and fantasy romance. Zack Graham, CEO of Scrumbles Snack Cakes, is energetic, magnetic and forget it—no women for him, except to relieve an occasional sexual itch. He’s a workaholic who refuses to let a woman make a fool out of him again. But what about Crandall Drake, the CEO of Pretzelicious Pretzels? He tells himself all he wants is sex. His heart tells him it wants more.
HER HIRED MAN by Cat Shaffer, Golden Heart finalist and award-winning journalist.
Hot nights, a double sleeping bag and a stranger for a husband…how much can one city girl take? Lillian Osborne needs a husband for a weekend. Wesley Hatfield needs money to customize his beloved classic car before Detroit’s biggest auto show. The perfect agreement turns out to be anything but when their accommodations turn out not to be what Lillian had expected.
SINS OF THE FATHER by Janet Eaves, Amazon bestselling author of the Ladies of Legend contemporary romance series. Just like the Princess in the classic tale Sleeping Beauty, Aurora’s life doesn’t really begin until her heart is awakened by a handsome struggling artist. But with her life in danger, Aurora must hide who she really is. Unbeknownst to her, her struggling artist isn’t who he appears to be either…. Friend, lover, or foe?
HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO by Jennifer Johnson who writes comedic romances so entertaining even guys read them. Author of the TMP top-selling Rescuing Riley. Abigail Benton is a bum magnet, according to her dad, so when she becomes attracted to Eli, a homeless man at the community center where she works, she wonders if what her dad says is true. But when Eli saves her life, Abigail decides she is going to return the favor and save his life by turning it around. Trouble is, Eli isn’t on board with her plan.
RAWHIDE AND ROSES by Maddie James, Amazon bestselling author of contemporary and western romance. She’s roses, he’s rough-and-ready rawhide. Kim Martin is hardly equipped for a Colorado camping trip, especially when her mountain guide is a rough-edged cowboy who is as untamed as the wilderness. Thad Winchester’s patience for city women is wearing as thin as the seat of his jeans. But there is something about Kim that puts his hard-and-fast don’t-touch rule to the test.
LONG DISTANCE LOVE by Margaret Ethridge, contemporary romance fan favorite and TMP top-selling author of Commitment. Sometimes the distance between two hearts can be measured in frequent flier miles. Love may be a many splendored thing, but it’s rarely convenient. Can FBI Agent Jack Rudolph and fiercely independent Ellie Nichols find a way to make a long distance relationship work?
SILENT PARTNER by Renee Vincent, award winning author of historical and contemporary romance.
Grayson Anders is a talented Latin-style dancer and wealthy co-owner of a happening nightclub. Chloe LaRoche is a talented artist, but failing entrepreneur with her once thriving studio now on the brink of foreclosure. When the two indulge in a passionate, out-of-control, one night stand, they awaken the next morning consumed with inspiration. Grayson finds his perfect dance partner while Chloe finally finds her muse. Will her secret destroy both their dreams?
Welcome to MY SEXY SATURDAY where participants post 7 words, 7 lines or 7 paragraphs of sexiness.
This week I’ve chosen a snippet from my sexy sci-fi suspense A TOUCH OF LILLY where our heroes are trying to prove the heroine’s identity.
“Let me remind you, human,” Thaegan’s voice, low and menacing, came from behind Dallas, “you are not in a position to ask the questions.”
Lilly sat back in a huff, the motion bouncing her breasts in front of him. “I thought you realized I’m just another working woman. What more reason do I need?”
Ignoring the pull of her body, Dallas lifted a brow and shot a look at the knife, offering another chance to stop this craziness.
“Do what you have to do, human. You’re not going to find anything.” Lilly smiled, but it didn’t reach the dark depths of her eyes. “In the end, you’re just going to have a mouth full of crow as you shovel out thousands of credits to replace my wardrobe.”
Laying his palm on the inside curve of her thigh, Dallas worked his fingers beneath the supple leather and lifted it away from her leg. Her skin was flushed and warm under his fingers, and he worked to ignore the sensation. The razor edge of the blade cut through the material like soft butter. He curved it carefully around the side of her ass and tugged a little harder to cut through the waistband. He repeated the motion again along the side of the other leg, but it caught on the elastic of her thong and she squirmed a little as it pulled taut a second before snapping the lacey material under the sharp blade of the dagger. His breath shook as he released a heavy sigh. Dallas really had no desire to remove the leather and expose the velvet flesh that lay beneath. But he had no choice. With trembling hands he slid his fingers down the warm skin of her belly, hooked them under the leather fabric at the waist and lifted it away.
With all that naked flesh exposed to him, Dallas couldn’t help but drink in her breathtaking beauty. The soft roundness of her breasts and belly begged to be caressed. But it was the satin flesh at the apex of her thighs where Dallas would really like to press his kisses and his tongue, exploring lower into her satin folds.
“See? Nothing.” Lilly didn’t quite pull off the breezy indifference. “So, why don’t you untie me, find me something to wear and I’ll be out of your hair?”
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Also available in PRINT and AUDIO formats
Click HERE to check out all the authors participating in My Sexy Saturday this week.
It seems this time of year many RWA chapters offer published authors the opportunity to enter their releases from the previous year into contest. And mind you, these contests aren’t cheap. At $25 to $30 for each book entered, the bottom line can balloon really fast. How do I know? Weeeellll … I’ll admit it … I’m a contest whore. I can’t stop myself!
So, I fill out the entry form, package up my book and plunk down that check in hopes of scoring well enough to final. Oooookkkaaayyy … I’m competitive enough to want to win. I said it. I WANNA WIN! But this isn’t new. Not only am I a type-A personality, I’m hoping a final in one of these contest might add some credibility to my self-published books.
Before I was published I entered my first manuscript in all kinds of contests. The bummer was the same entry would score a 97 and a 56. Bleh. But after I got over the disappointment of not finalling (in one contest I had the second lowest score), I took time and read the awesome comments of the judges. And you know? They were extremely helpful. In their very polite way they explained that I sooooo wasn’t ready to publish, but if I worked on my craft and more specifically, these couple of things then chances are, I’d make a go of it.
And they were right.
Now, I’m published. The contests are very different. There are no comments on the writing, (since the book is already printed) but there are score sheets that you can look at. And you know, sometimes that still helps. If I find out a character isn’t sympathetic or the motivation for my villain isn’t clear, that kind of information is invaluable.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ll say it again. My purpose for entering these contests is to win. Not come in second … win. It’s who I am. But it’s no different than hoping my book gets a 5-star, “recommended read” review. I am thrilled for weeks and tell anyone who will listen. Writing is a business for me. I want people to like my books and in turn buy the next one. If a reviewer is willing to say my book was a great read, here’s hoping others will see that and follow suit. I’m pretty sure contests don’t help with sales, but it sure feels good.
I know there’s lots of talk about contests. I’m wondering how you feel about it either as an author entering or as a reader. If a book says “WINNER OF XYZ CONTEST” does that affect your buying habits?
Like many authors, I’m an avid reader, albeit a slow one. Mostly because I don’t allow myself the pleasure of reading until I’m settled in to bed for the night and I then read until my face falls into the pages. Sometimes an hour, but more often, about fifteen minutes. *g*
95% of what I read is romance, though I do try to mix up the genres. I’ve been on a real paranormal romance kick so I went and picked up several contemporary romances. And you know what … I could barely get through them.
Now don’t misunderstand me, the writing was stellar and the characters had great chemistry (in and out of the bedroom), but the problem for me is that nothing happened. Nothing blew up. No terrorist tried to end the world. No dragon flew in to breath fire on the town. Nothing. Nadda. Zip. Zilch. Just two people falling in love. And quite frankly, I was bored. I skimmed whole chapters and (something an author hates to hear) skipped pages at a time. I think because I kept hoping something interesting would happen to grab my attention. In both cases I got to the end and happily shut the book and tucked it into my “give away” pile.
I do like television, but I don’t sit and watch very much of it. (Mostly because Mr. Nina is a channel surfer, flipping stations at random intervals and driving me insane And I refuse to go in the other room and run another television.) I do go to the movies and though I like an action flick now and again, I’m more the romantic comedy, sweet family entertainment kind of gal. And I mention this because I don’t have to have things moving quickly to keep me focused. I’m of that generation with a pretty good attention span which is why I found this whole phenomenon interesting.
I do think my taste runs more toward the mystery/suspense end of the romance spectrum. But I’ve read my fair share of traditional romance stories in the past and really enjoyed them. I’ll even read an historical and completely fall into the story. But contemporary? Meh. It doesn’t seem to sugar my cookies anymore.
What about you? Have your reading tastes changed? Am I the only one who’s thinking traditional romances don’t have the appeal they used to have?
I feel very fortunate for who I am and where I grew up. I haven’t known hardship. I haven’t had anyone hate me just because my skin was white. I haven’t felt less or been denied a job because I didn’t look like 90% of the work force. I’ve never worried that someone could think me stupid simply because I fall into a particular ethnicity.
I don’t know what it’s like to grow up as an African-American. I won’t even pretend I can truly comprehend what a huge group of people have had to endure because they were different. But Martin Luther King, Jr knew and fought the good fight. Not only do I admire what he did to advance the equality of so many but my heart aches that he layed down his life for what he believed in.
This is so much more than a day off from work/school. It’s a chance for us to celebrate a wonderful man’s legacy and remember all he gave so others could have more.
I’d like to welcome guest blogger, Molly Daniels, author of the ARBOR UNIVERSITY series. Molly Daniels resides in the Midwest with her husband, three children, and various household pets. Her fifth-grade teacher showed this avid reader how to write the stories swirling in her head, successfully unleashing her imagination upon the written word.
Kenzie is the ‘wild child’ of author Molly Daniels. They cohabitate nicely inside the brain of a woman in Indiana who’s the mother of three and ‘Aunt Molly’ to the entire neighborhood. A devout chocoholic, her hubby has learned to watch out when the characters in her head take over and not get too upset when the words are flowing and all concept of time is lost. (LOL)
Thanks for having me today, Nina! All this week, I’ve been the featured Author-of-the-Week over at the Secret Cravings blog, and I’ve decided to extend the deadline for you to have a chance to win a free download of their choice of my back list.
I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to two special ladies, Caitlyn McCarty and Susan Best. Both are Education Majors at Arbor University, and both have wonderful singing voices-
C: How do you know?
S: Oh please, the entire dorm has heard you singing Penny Lover by Lionel Richie. And when you come over to study, we’ve always had a tape or the radio on.
C: True. When I’m at home, my choir director at church used to have me sing solos during the service. My favorite is Amy Grant’s Arms of Love.
S: Lucky. My choir director told me I have a nice voice, but since I’m not one of his ‘pets’, I’ve never been given the chance for a solo.
C: His loss. You sing like an angel.
S: Thank you!
Caty, would you be willing to let our viewers know a little background on you, Bryan Johnson, and Peter Criswell?
C: Bryan and I began dating right after our sophomore year of high school, and all went well until our junior year of college. We only saw each other on weekends, since we were three hours apart. Bryan had a brush with the law and was falsely accused of vandalism, and after he was cleared, I couldn’t make it up to see him one weekend and a girl accused him of getting her pregnant. I’d met Peter several months before, but after Stephanie crashed her car, we discovered he owned the first car lot we went to. He messed with my head-
S: No, he didn’t. He simply opened your eyes to the fact you have tunnel vision when it comes to Bryan.
C: (bristling) Whose side are you on, anyway? Do you know how scary it is, to believe you have your future mapped out, only to have it ripped away your final year in college?
S: You’re right, I don’t. But I do know how scary it when you think you’ve lost your best friend. Rob and I dated in high school too, but he cheated on me when I wouldn’t sleep with him.
So that’s another thing the two of you have in common.
S: Yes. Rob went to another school, and while we had a wonderful summer together, he broke up with me over Labor Day weekend to be with Michelle. I’d met Travis the weekend before, and since all my friends were paired up, I felt jealous and decided to encourage him. But when I started singing with his friend’s band, I felt pressure to lose a few pounds, so I began a crash diet-
C: Sweetie, that was no diet.
S: All I tried to do was keep the calories low. You know how hard it is when there are three other girls who can eat what they want, when they want, and stay the same size? If I even look at the candy machine my jeans feel too tight.
C: I admit, we didn’t make it easy for you. But all you had to do was talk to us.
S: Let’s not have that argument again, please? I don’t think Molly wants us to fight.
Okay, let me get this straight. Cait has tunnel vision when it comes to Bryan and Susan doesn’t feel anyone understands her issue with food.
S: I think that’s right.
So are you still seeing Travis?
S: No; I felt betrayed by everyone. Over the summer, I reconnected with Rob’s brother Jamie, who helped me see I’d made some wrong assumptions, going clear back to junior high-
C: You know what they say about assuming things….they make an ass out of u and me-
S: I know, I know. You’re one to talk. You did the same thing about Peter.
C: (blushing) Yeah, well, we all make mistakes.
Okay ladies, thank you for being here today!
EXCERPT from ENDLESS LOVE:
“Caitlyn, why did you come here?”
“Because, I don’t want to lose our friendship.” Caty sat back down. “I’ve come to value it. I know this sounds selfish, but I enjoy spending time with you, and-”
“Hold it.” Peter held up a hand, shaking his head. “Don’t use me as a substitute, Caitlyn. I’m not the kind of guy who will listen to you gripe and complain about not being able to spend any time with him and who listens to you sing his praises when you do. That won’t work with me.”
“No buts. I put up with some of your bullshit last fall, but that was because you were confused and not sure what you were going to do. Then you made a decision, but since Mommy and Daddy didn’t like it, didn’t support your decision, you went running back to good ole Bryan, whom everyone approved of, and you stopped rocking the boat. What’s going to happen, Caitlyn, if you butt heads with a coworker, principal, some other administrator, even a parent, who doesn’t like what you are teaching in your classroom? Are you going to stick to your guns, or will you change your lesson plan? Are you going to be the teacher who changes policy because one of your kids has a need that’s not being met, or will you be one of those teachers who hide behind the school’s policy? What do you see yourself doing?” Peter swallowed the rest of his coffee after that speech and got up to pour another cup.
His words hit her hard. “I-I guess I never thought about that. I hope I get a school system that stands behind me in starting up the drug awareness program, but if they don’t, I guess part of me would wait until the next year to try again.”
“What about talking with other people in the community?” He sat down again. “Couldn’t you build support then approach the school board again?”
“I guess so.”
“Come on, Caitlyn. Where’s your fire? Where’s the go get ‘em attitude you had in October?” Peter bit into a slice of bacon. “Or did your parents manage to destroy all your faith in yourself?”
Shaken, Caty stood and collected her coat. “They didn’t destroy anything. I see this was a mistake.”
Peter moved to stand beside her. “You’re doing it again. Nobody’s giving you the answers you want, so you walk away. Look at me.” He cupped her face in his hands. “I see a beautiful, strong, caring young woman who has a problem breaking away from her parents.” He bent down and placed his forehead against hers. “Or maybe the parents aren’t ready to let her go. Anyway, I believe in you, Caitlyn. I believe you have the strength, the power, the will to do whatever you want with your life.”
BUY from Amazon
EXCERPT from Love WEIGHS IN:
“You’re not going to flub up in front of us, are you?” teased a familiar voice. Susan looked up in surprise as Gretchen, Shawn, Amy, Brad, Caitlyn, and Peter approached.
“Hi, guys.” Happy to see them, she stood up and hugged her friends. “No, we’re just talking about making a slight change in the last set.” She introduced the band members.
“We just got here. Let’s go find a table and get a round of drinks. Break a leg, kids.” Gretchen ushered the rest toward the bar.
Susan excused herself to use the rest room and overheard a disturbing conversation between two other girls.
“…can’t believe she’d have the guts. I mean, did you see the size of her thighs? And that shirt. Good lord. You’d think people who pork out like that would have the decency not to tuck their shirts in like that.” A toilet flushed.
“I know, and can you believe her voice? I sing better than that in the shower.” Water running and the hand dryer drowned out the voices.
Are they talking about me? I’m not leaving until I know they’re both gone. She peeked through the crack between the stall door and the wall and saw the two girls touching up their makeup.
“She needs to get with the times. The Madonna look is so three years ago.”
“At least she’s not wearing a miniskirt.” Their voices disappeared as the door slammed closed.
Stunned, Susan left her stall. She looked at her reflection in the wavy mirror and studied herself. They’re right, I am a fat slob. My stomach has this bulge at the zipper, instead of being nice and flat. She stuck out her tongue and washed her hands. And my thighs do look awful in these jeans. Why oh why did I even wear them?
Because you were in a hurry. You were so happy after messing around with Travis, you forgot to be careful with what you wore tonight. Now people are talking about you!
How can I get up on that stage and wow them for another ninety minutes? They don’t want to see me or hear me. I heard that woman! I sing like I’m tone-deaf or something! Susan brushed aside the few tears. I’ve got to get back out there and fake it. Nobody’s forcing me to continue after tonight. I’ll finish this last set, even though my friends are out there, hearing us for the first time.
BUY from Amazon
Again, thank you sooooo much for having me today Nina! And visitors, don’t forget to leave your contact information in your comment! I’ll be choosing a winner and announcing it tomorrow.
Sometimes it’s hard to give something up. Especially when you’re totally in LOVE with it. For yeeeears I worked with a prologue to my latest romantic thriller release IN HIS EYES and though I REALLY wanted to keep it in, beta readers, writer friends and eventually my editor all told me … let it go Nina. So I did.
Though it didn’t make it into the book, I’d like to share it with you.
The wooden coffin rested eerily over the wounded earth, the deep hole as hollow as the hearts of the two mourners. The man stared past the spray of wild flowers adorning its lid to his stepmother cowered on the opposite side. The reptilian slit of his eyes and the malevolent smile communicated loathing—and power. The widow’s eyes, puffy and glazed from weariness, watched him with a melancholy sort of understanding. The corner of her mouth lifted in a tremulous smile of acceptance. There were no tears when her husband died, none came now, and none would fall later.
Though the heat rose in currents from the tar road nearby, the young widow shivered. Standing in the shade of the oaks, the minister was the sole witness to the exchange. Reading from the book of Psalms, he faltered only momentarily, but finished the ritual graveside prayers without acknowledging what had passed between them.
Perhaps the minister also imagined how things would unfold.
Her life had not been hers for a very long time—now it belonged to him. She deserved no more love than he doled out to her in meager portions. No one thought she was worthy of anything, least of all her. She believed her life—each wretched day she survived, right up to her last breath—was preordained by this path she’d chosen to walk years ago. The way it would end was also a foregone conclusion.
Just days after the funeral, he sold his father’s house and packed their meager possessions into the old Cadillac. Crisscrossing the country, they stayed in seedy apartments where no one looked them in the eye. It was easier to ignore their pain that way. No one asked any questions, provided the rent was on time each Friday. She had no idea where they were and didn’t really care as long as he kept the needles in the bedside table filled with liquid heaven. He was gone most days and used her in unfathomable ways long hours into the night. He’d learned from the best and added new tricks of his own. But she accepted it all as her lot in life.
Now, he no longer needed her. She’d outlived her usefulness. They both understood that. She’d taken him into her bed only to prolong the inevitable. She didn’t plead or cry out with fear. She was just numb—or perhaps relieved it was going to be finished. Maybe it was the sweet wash of drugs coursing through her veins. Whichever the case, she didn’t care.
From the moment his father had fallen ill, everything had been destined. She may have been four years older, but her stepson had the maturity of a man twice his years and he dominated their relationship in every sense of the word. There hadn’t been any questions when he replaced his father at her side.
During their time together, she accepted his beatings, the verbal and sexual abuse, and the neglect. It was all either of them knew. Somewhere, in the back of her brain, she understood this wasn’t love, but she didn’t know what was. She had no yardstick with which to measure her worth. They’d cut her off from the rest of mankind so long ago, she barely remembered anything existed outside the confines of the world where they held her prisoner. She had no immediate family, so there would be no one to miss her when this was finished. Only he knew she still walked this earth and after it was done, only he would know she no longer did.
On this day he’d roused the woman early. Bathing with her in the communal bathroom of the apartment building, he’d taken great care washing her hair and body. With touches so gentle, he’d acted as if he’d felt something for her. His skilled hands had pleasured her without pain. He’d held off his own need until they were back in their room on the soiled sheets. With a passion neither of them knew existed, he’d made love to her. Whispering into her ear, he’d apologized for all that had been and all that would come.
Mutely, she let him brush the black waves of her hair and masterfully massage lotion over the yellowed bruises his fists had left. She watched him tenderly put the needle into her arm. He held her while the liquid worked its magic on her body and mind, taking her to that blissful place of detachment. He took her again, more urgently, but still with great affection. That’s when she’d known for certain that it was finished. She would not live to see another sunrise, never again feel a gentle breeze caress her skin, nor feel the pain of brutality.
He dressed her and took only a few of his belongings. When they climbed into the car, she didn’t ask where they were going. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered.
They traveled for hours, waiting for the blackness to cloak them in its secrets. She looked over at him now. In the green glow of the dashboard lights, his rugged features were contorted with grief. Turning from the road, he smiled at her. A heartrending smile filled with regret. Even in her drug induced fog, she could see the tears welling in his eyes.
They stopped somewhere. A city perhaps, but she couldn’t be sure. He’d fed her pills and alcohol for her last meal, so the edges of her reality were blurred. He lifted her from the car, carrying her like an infant into the darkness. He laid her down gently and her body melted into the lumpy surface. The stench curled around her nose and brought bile to her throat, but giving into the retching would displease him, so she swallowed it down. Hiking up her skirt, he removed her panties. He hacked off her hair with the knife he perpetually carried. Plastic rustled as he moved her. He’d laid her with the garbage. How appropriate. The cold sting of his tears fell upon her face as he pressed his lips to hers for the last time.
She wanted to touch him, to tell him she understood, but she couldn’t lift her hand or form the words on her lips. She was tired, so very tired.
His face was a smooth canvas of detachment when he pushed the final needle into her vein. With one last caress of her cheek, he left.
The cold rain continued to fall long after he turned his back on her, long after she slipped into oblivion.
One of the things I love about self-publishing is the freedom to design my own book covers. Making the decision of how to present my books to the public is HUGE! Though my publishers have been good, there have been several of my covers over the years that have disappointed me. Those are the covers where I felt the publisher wasn’t considering the marketing of my book when they sent me the final draft. And unfortunately, after the initial paperwork, there is no changing a cover once the design department has finished with it.
So now, I’d like to share with you how I go about creating a book cover … or more accurately … how I share my vision with my cover artist.
First, I have to give a shout out to my cover artist, DAR ALBERT from Wicked Smart Designs. Not only is she amazingly talented, she is patient with my changes to her designs.
For my romantic thriller, IN HIS EYES, I did what we usually do to start. I sent Dar descriptions of my hero and heroine, sent the back cover copy and told her the key elements of the story included:
- a killer with a knife fetish
- a yellow rose
- a beach cottage
This is the picture Dar first designed:
Though I had told her the yellow rose was significant, I decided it shouldn’t have this much emphasis. The font was too “horror story” and not romantic suspense/thriller. And the girl was too young for my heroine and actually looked like someone found on a young adult cover. Plus, I felt Maggie Callaghan, the heroine of this story was strong and independent and this photo didn’t portray that.
I also thought my author name was too heavy. But I did love the beach scene she’d chosen though the house wasn’t “cottagy” enough.
Dar took out the rose and added the knife … the weapon of choice for my villain. The title and author fonts are now something I really like and the woman on the front definitely fits my vision of my heroine. Notice also she lightened the brown so you can see the beach scene and cottage more clearly. But I have to tell you, at this point I wasn’t liking the brown background and I wanted the knife, only not quite so menacing …
This is obviously the color background we settled on. I liked the monochromatic look of the gray. Notice we moved the knife to the spine and the “I” in the title. My name, is smaller as is the tagline “USA Bestselling…” Dar also added the really creepy red dripping line under the logline on the front and back covers. I stared at this image for a couple of days before deciding the front was too crowded.
Notice now the beach cottage image has been reversed with the cottage on the back cover. I also had Dar fade from black to gray to a very dark blue for the background. It’s subtle, but it really made a difference in how the picture stood out. Notice now too, there’s a silhouette of a woman running down the beach beside the “E” in the title.
Now the problem becomes that the title in a thumbnail isn’t clear. Though I LOVE the knife, it looks like we’ve simply dropped the letter “I”. This graphic may have worked on another color background, but definitely not here. But at the moment I’m working to focus on making the In His Eyes work with the photo of the woman. Too many people looking at this version are finding the two elements just don’t mesh.
The above two attempts were Dar and I trying to figure out how to make it look like the woman was being watched. I said “no” to the binoculars right away, though I did like the lighter look of Maggie’s face. The next picture is trying to highlight the knife, but frankly I thought in a thumbnail it would look like heaven’s light as in HIS meaning something religious. So I dropped both the knife idea and the binoculars and had Dar just add some crosshairs to make it look like Maggie was being watched through a scope.
And here’s the final PRINT cover that took two weeks for us to design. Did I mention Dar is amaaaaaazing and PATIENT!! (And the front cover looks great in a thumbnail. The crosshairs really gave the book cover the “feel” of a romantic thriller.