Sunday, October 16, 2016

NJRW 2016 - Another Fantastic Conference!

Well, it's the end of another whirlwind weekend! Many of you know that every year, I attend the NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book conference. And since it's really close to my local RWA chapter, Hudson Valley RWA, a good portion of my fellow members attend as well, which guarantees a really fun weekend. This year, our very own Liz Matis was a finalist in the Novella category of the Golden Leaf, a contest for published works. Sadly, she didn't win, but I still advise you to check out that book – Guarding the Quarterback. All in all, the conference was truly a great time. Again.

Also this year was the very first time I presented a workshop - "Twisting History – Using Real Historical Events and People to Propel Your Plot." I worked really hard on hitting specific ideas prior to submitting the proposal; once it was accepted, I polished it up, expanded it and practiced giving it, so I could get a sense of how long it actually lasted as opposed to how long it should. Oddly, putting it together was actually harder than writing fictional characters and their stories. And special thanks to Kelly Janicello for pointing out all the places I needed to pause and take a breath - and add a bit of drama. :D But I think I have a handle on how to really make a presentation pop. And now I have to go back through it and add all the notes I made this weekend before I actually presented. Plus, I've had some ideas for a few more workshops, so I'll be toying with putting together some thoughts on those. I actually found myself having fun while I was presenting, now I want to keep doing it! :D

One of the best parts is always hanging out with friends, and making new ones. While many of us see each other year after year, there are always new faces to get friendly with, and this year was no exception. There were a lot of laughs.

This year, the conference committee made some changes to the event format, and, I think they were changes for the better. There was an additional energy this year, and I think those changes are a large part of the reason.

Normally, at the end of the conference on Saturday afternoon, there is an author book signing, with proceeds going to literacy charities. I have noticed, since I always participated, that over the last several years, attendance to that portion, which is open to the public, has been declining. I think a large part of that is due to reader habits today, which in the last several years, have changed dramatically. Ebooks had been making steady progress for some time, but once Amazon launched the Kindle and the KDP publishing arm, industry trends and behavior changed in ways that I suspect a lot of people, myself included, never could have imagined. I do still know some people who are holdouts for a paper book, but that number is far fewer now than it was just five or six years ago. Almost everyone I know reads digital formats in some way – I myself have four different devices I regularly read from, and few other older ones that I can use in a pinch if necessary. So while it is cool to get a signed print copy of your favorite book by your favorite author, it's not necessarily the most important anymore. With everyone on social media these days, you're likely already interacting way more intimately with authors you read than you'd be at a big signing like that. The appeal simply wasn't as great as it had been in the past.

So, back on target here. This year, instead of the bookfair, NJRW launched an Author Services Expo, a trade show for cover artists, editors, formatters, etc. That was very interesting and a nice change. Plus, it gave authors who provided such services another networking opportunity. I thought that change really enhanced the conference. I perused and took note of a few folks – there are some very talented people out there. Consider me impressed.

I also want to say again, thank you so very much to Casey Hagan, the conference committee chair, and all of the people on the committee who gave tirelessly of their time to treat us all to a great, and productive, event. There's a lot that goes into a conference like this – I know, I've coordinated similar events myself in a former life. Casey and her committee did a fantastic job, everything ran smoothly, and I can imagine that everyone on that committee is looking forward to a week or so of downtime. I hope they get it!

Another new event took place this morning, Sunday - the first inaugural Hearts and Sparks Readers and Bloggers Appreciation Brunch. Terri Brisbin and Joanna Shupe coordinated and hosted, and again, I was so impressed. Their efforts to make this brunch a fun time were remarkable. When the guests arrived, there was a game for them to play, called First Line Bingo, which was a Bingo card with the first line from a book of each of the authors attending. Mine was the opening  line from "In the Mage's Arms," and when I introduced myself and explained that "I write the kinky stuff," everyone pretty much figured out which line was mine. What a really cool idea – and so much fun! It helped to break the ice and get people mingling and talking and getting to know each other. Great company, great food, and lots of laughs. That's what it's all about folks! 

Overall, another 5 Star weekend! And while I'm tired, I'm also energized and motivated and hopefully can keep that going before I hit the road again to visit my daughter at college next weekend.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

In the Mage's Arms - Out Today!

It's Release Day for In the Mage's Arms! This newly updated and revised Book 2 in The Magiste Chronicles features a smoking hot new cover by Winter Bayne, and is available everywhere now! The continuation of the Magiste Chronicles tells the story of Lily Prentiss and Aidan Marchand, two people who collide in ways they never expected. Lily's given up her life in the Magiste, turning her back on her gift of healing magic. Aidan is evolving into a Mage, a painful and potentially crippling process. When Lily touches him, Aidan's pain stops, creating quite a dilemma for them both.

I enjoyed reworking this book, fixing things that had always bothered me and changing others because as I went through it this last time, I realized many scenes in the story just didn't work very strongly as they were written. Now, those scenes truly fit the story as they should. Another factoid - a lot of the Magiste capabilities came into solid awareness with this book, back when I first wrote it. At that time, when I was about halfway through, many of the missing elements of the Magiste fell into place. Book 1 was a basic foundation for my alternate Louisiana, but In the Mage's Arms brought so many of the details into sharp focus. All of the books in the series have benefitted from that.

Check out an excerpt below – warning, NSFW! And feast your eyes on this gorgeous new cover by Winter Bayne – she really captured the heat of Lily and Aidan's relationship:

Here's where you can get your hands on In the Mage's Arms, featuring Magically Kinky! love scenes, and there are more vendors on the way:

Here's that excerpt – make sure you have a cold beverage on hand! lol

Heat broke through Lily's foggy slumber, flooding her with warmth. She inched closer, the remnants of the anxiety of her dreams finally fading. A soft moan near her ear tore through the veil of hazy illusions that left her restless.

The warmth of a solid chest, strong, alive, seared into her awareness. Powerful arms folded around her. One large hand rested on her belly. Her eyes snapped open.


How easily she'd fallen asleep amidst his embrace worried her. Her last conscious thought was to resist his allure and remain vigilant, yet she'd let go of that determination in a heartbeat. One that involved a man who intrigued and frightened in more ways than she'd ever imagined.

His face, buried against her neck, along with his warm breath ticklish against her skin, sent a shot of excitement slithering along her spine. She stared at the hand on her stomach, long, strong fingers splayed flat against her. The thought of them running over her body drew a shiver of excitement. She raised her hand, gently touching his large one, meandering over his fingers, sliding to the wrist. A light dusting of gold hair sprinkled his warm skin, soft under her touch. His lean forearm rested on her waist, burning her through her dress. Still, she continued her exploration, finding his upper arm muscled and solid under the black T-shirt. She shifted slightly and he gave a soft snore. She froze then cautiously turned her head to look at him. He still slept. She resumed tracing a vein on his arm with her fingertips and let out the breath she’d been holding.

It felt nice having him wrapped around her like this. Zut! A whole hell of a lot better than nice, if she were honest with herself. No pain assaulted her this morning, just his warmth, his presence surrounding her, both calming and invigorating her.

She wanted to laugh at the same time she wanted to cry. Last night, she’d sworn off men. And here she was with one in her bed. Granted, most women wouldn’t want to get a man in bed this way, and she knew he wouldn’t be here under any other circumstances, but the whole situation left her reeling, her life and her world abruptly turned upside down.

Her hand drifted again, lingering on his bicep, tracing down past his elbow. She imagined him leaning above her and ... What was she doing? She needed to get him out of her bed. At that moment, the fingers on her stomach flexed, ever so slightly. She gasped, her nipples hardening when the fingers moved again, the caress growing more insistent. Her hand tightened on his arm.

She held her breath when he moved slowly, massaging with a light touch that unsettled her in more ways than she cared to admit. The power scorched through her, gathering in her core, making her pussy throb. What was happening between them?

"Aidan, wake up." She hoped he would stop, yet at the same time, hoped he wouldn’t.

"I am awake."

His sleep-roughened voice only sparked more fire in her veins. How could he unravel her determination so easily? It had simply been too long and her body needed the contact. Or so she tried to convince herself. She hesitated, taking the moment to gather her courage then turned to face him. His silvery blue eyes, wide open and aware, focused on her, and again, a hint of a smile played on his lips.

"Did you like what you saw?"

"How long have you been awake?" she asked.

"The whole time."

She closed her eyes and swallowed. Her heart threatened to explode, both from embarrassment and the knowledge she had, indeed, liked what she’d seen during her mini-exploration. There was no graceful exit from this humiliation.

If only she hadn’t felt his pain last night, heard his moans of agony. Then she wouldn't be bombarded with so many contradictory feelings. Her head hurt and this discomfort belonged solely to her.

She sighed and looked away, knowing she needed to get free of him even though she longed to stay wrapped in the cocoon of desire he slowly built. She inhaled sharply and his musky, masculine scent –a hint of bayou and ballrooms– filled her senses. Her awareness of him shot through her like lightning.

"I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have …."

His seeking touch moved more insistently, sliding up toward her breast. Again, she held her breath, knowing she should stop him, yet wanting to feel his caress. She closed her eyes against a half-hearted denial, fighting the need to press even closer, to touch him as he touched her.

"Don't be."

He passed his lips along her ear, his words a vibrant whisper that left her gasping, her skin burning where his mouth touched her.

"I didn’t mean ... but it’s all too much. I can’t … I don’t …."

His fingers slid still higher and ignited her yearning, more intense than she’d ever known before.

"It is, isn’t it, Lily? Too much and not enough." His low voice was a caress of its own. "Even in pain, I recognized the attraction and had to have more. You felt it too."

"I ... no, I didn’t."

His chuckle roared like thunder in her ear.

"Don’t delude yourself, little Healer. Your touch did more to me than ease my pain."

With those words, he cupped her breast. Desperation drove her attempts to keep from arching into him. She shouldn't want this, had to remain aloof until he was gone from her life.

Her resolve weakened when his lips moved along her neck. She felt as if she'd caught on fire, aching and desperate for more of his touch. She bit her lip to silence the moan, but his hand squeezing and caressing her breast had her head swimming. With a flinch, she realized he lay under the blankets with her, pressed against her ass. Even clothed, she could feel his erection, hard and insistent. Another bolt of lightning sizzled along her skin, his lips now on the curve of her shoulder, easing the strap of her tank dress away.

She quickly gave up the effort to remain motionless and unfeeling. Now, she pushed into him, turning and allowing him the freedom to touch her, to bare her skin while he explored. He eased up on one arm and she soon found herself completely underneath him, his crotch pressed against hers. The moan escaped then, her pussy throbbing in sudden need. This shouldn’t be. He was still essentially a stranger, a pureblood Zyndevine Mage coming into his powers. She was a former run-of-the-mill Enchantress, who’d turned her back on magic and all of its trappings.

Those reasons alone should keep them far apart. Yet, here they were. In her bed. Logic faltered in the wake of desire that refused to be denied. Ignoring the ever-fainter last inner warning, she reached for him, sliding her arms around his neck and pulling him near for a kiss.
She meant to keep it slow and gentle, but Aidan consumed her with his mouth, his lips and tongue both teasing and wreaking havoc. She let the last of her doubts go as she met his tongue with hers and clung tightly to him.

He pulled her dress the rest of the way down, baring her breasts. He leaned back, simply studying her, his silver–blue eyes glowing.

"You’re gorgeous," he said, his voice thick.

Her heart swelled at his admiration. He cupped both breasts. Could anything ever feel better than his hands moving along her flesh, driving the passion ever higher? He lowered his head. The blaze of his lips overpowered her senses. Yes, there was something better. The velvet of his tongue flicking at her hardened nipple drew a needy cry, an uncontrollable bonfire scorching her very soul. When his mouth enveloped her breast, she grabbed his head, tightening her fingers in his pale blond hair and pressing him still closer.

His tongue and lips sucked hard, but Lily wanted more. Her pussy grew greedier, need overtaking all her awareness. His hand moved to her thigh. Without hesitation, she spread herself open when he sought her heat.  Finally, he reached her pussy, his fingers hot and seeking. Her breath exhaled in a rush and sucked back in, her head spinning.

"Do you like that, Lily? Do you like the way I’m touching you?"

His words fired her as much as his hands. He dipped a finger briefly into her then dragged it out slowly and circled her clit. Her entire lower body bucked into him when he caught her nipple between his teeth. The torment grew to a tempest, tossing her senselessly about. Nothing mattered but the heat and hunger, fueled by his hands and mouth.

"Yes," she moaned. "More."

Friday, September 23, 2016

Happy First Birthday, Norseman's Revenge!

One year ago today, I began my journey into self-publishing. It's been a very interesting year - some mistakes were made, and lots of information was embedded into my brain. I didn't know then how much my writing/publishing career would change, unexpected opportunities came up shortly after I started out and I was glad to have the chance to seize upon those. It's been a rather chaotic year, but it's been well worth the ride. And I'm still on  it - I learn something new every day.

Anyway, today marks the first "birthday" for Norseman's Revenge! To celebrate, the book has been graced with a gorgeous new cover, by my favorite cover artist, Winter Bayne. It has also been marked down to .99 for a very limited time.

This tale, set in 9th century Scandinavia, is the first in The Norsemen Sagas. The idea for this book came to me several years ago, and I began to craft Geira and Kori's story right around the same time History Channel's "Viking" series began. I'll admit, certain factors from "Vikings" did inspire and influence me, though I found it more often sent me on a search for more information. I learned a lot about the Scandinavian people, and they weren't as barbaric as many think. In fact, they were actually quite civilized, most of the time. But when they raided, or went a-viking, as they called it, they were ruthless in their tactics, giving them their much-deserved terrifying reputation.

Another thing that many people don't know is that in Scandinavian society, women had more rights and were seen more as equals to men, in contrast to a lot of other civilizations of the time. Thanks to "Vikings," many people are familiar with Lagertha, a shield-maiden who becomes a jarl in her own right. A shield-maiden is a female warrior and can be just as ruthless and brutal in battle as her male counterparts. Even so, women did still tend the "traditional" chores and tasks of caring for the home and family. They shared the farming or fishing duties with the rest of the family. They pretty much did it all. Personally, I think that shows what incredible strength Scandinavian women had – and maybe puts them more on a par with today's women – I think of them as Dark Ages working moms. Then again, it could also be a very heartbreaking time to live in. As Vikings has portrayed, mortality rates were much higher back then, particularly for children. Like any period in history, people tended to have larger families, in the hopes that at least some of the children would survive until adulthood. Surviving the loss of one child seems an insurmountable mountain to get over, losing more than one would break many people. Yet, these women did survive and continued to build their families, well aware of all the risks. They carried the sorrow of their losses throughout their lives, but they lived in a time where death lurked everywhere. Then again, back then a sneeze could raise the worries of a possible outbreak of disease, while now we pop a couple of cold meds and go on our way. 

But the Scandinavian people did not fear death the same way other cultures and societies did (and do). The warriors welcomed the chance to go to Valhalla and party with the gods. They entered battle with the hopes of winning, and if not, then dying bravely so the Valkyries would carry them away. The women also went to Valhalla, though unlike the warriors and shield-maidens, different reasons and acts got them in. Their version of heaven.

I think of Geira, the heroine in Norseman's Revenge, as a very strong woman, though she is no shield-maiden. Her instincts guide her in many ways – they have to, she's been stolen away from her family on her wedding night and claimed as the slave of her husband's enemy. Geira recognized early on that her husband was no prize, and finds her abductor to be more honorable, even if he can be quite cruel.

Kori also realizes Geira's strength. He knows that truthfully, she is innocent of the crimes that have sent him on his quest for vengeance, but his honor demands that he treat her as a slave. But he soon grows to admire her courage, her intelligence, and of course, her passion. Wouldn't be a sexy romance without that, now would it? :D

So, here's the big reveal, the gorgeous new cover:

And the blurb and the links to purchase the book:

* Kidnapped on her wedding night might be a blessing from the gods. *

Geira Sorensdotter awaits her new husband, but she's filled with doubts about the man and the marriage. Those doubts are forgotten when the village is attacked, her husband is struck down and she is tied up and carried off amidst the raid.

Kori Thorfinnson has waited years to take revenge against the man who murdered his wife. But he soon finds the innocent young woman he's taken as his personal slave is not his enemy, despite her marriage to his foe. Her courage in defying him, her caring heart, and the fiery passion she shares stirs feelings Kori hasn't known since his wife died. Afraid to lose Geira, he binds her to him in many ways – not only with rope, but with his body, his collar and his brand.

Geira quickly learns just how despicable her husband was, and despite her difficult circumstances, grows to care deeply for Kori, her captor. Still, dreams of freedom linger. But once she finds herself with child, she must plan her escape, to save herself and her baby.
However, Kori has plans of his own.
** Contains explicit love scenes featuring A Kinky Twist on History! bondage, spanking, ménage à trois scenes and more!

And lastly, an excerpt to whet your appetite for this lusty tale of domination – it's Geira's wedding night:

He stood beside the bed, the comments and laughter continuing. Somehow the noise faded, drowned by her thudding heart. Einnar held her stare, lust clear in his gaze. He leaned over and pressed a chaste kiss to her lips, amid more howls and whistles. She silently willed him to hurry, to remove her crown so the others would leave.

Instead, he continued to kiss her, the warm pressure of his lips calming her agitation. When he drew away, she found her fear had receded. Maybe her worries had been for naught. He stared at her for several moments then smiled

"I now claim you in body as well as spirit." He reached up and gently removed the crown of branches and flowers. He set it aside and leaned close, running his fingers through her unbound hair. Another kiss stirred warm sensations in her belly and she found herself responding. This she could endure.

Einnar eased away and looked behind him. "We are alone now."

She peered over his shoulder and saw everyone had indeed left. A wave of relief came over her and she sighed. While some clans still insisted on having witnesses to the deflowering, she hated that idea and was glad his people didn't adhere to the old custom.

He sat beside her and reached for the pitcher on the table next to the bed. He poured the mead into a wooden cup and handed it to her.

"Drink, you'll be calmer."

That he showed concern now further perplexed her. The charming flirt he sometimes appeared to be made her curious. She peered closely into his face, finding only a troubling arrogance and expectation. Accepting the goblet, she took a large swallow. When she returned the cup, he did the same, then moved to climb under the blanket with her. His warm body pressed against her. Worry churned in her gut.

"Geira, look at me."

She lifted her head, slowly, half-afraid at what she might find. Concern and tenderness softened his expression, though a strange gleam kept her worries roused. The knot in her gut tightened.

"I thank Freyr for his blessings. He clearly found my sacrifice worthy."

Geira recalled the gathering and spraying of the boar's blood. Her husband had shown great skill in the ceremony. The ease of the sacrifice assured a fertile marriage. Still, doubts about the joy to be found in the union lingered.

A gentle caress of her shoulder didn't stir further fear. It didn't stir anything. Her earlier yearning returned with force. Why didn't her husband inspire the passion she so longed for? Though her mother had been gone for several summers, Geira recalled the adoration her parents had felt for each other. Even if they stood just a few inches away, the love they shared had shone clear in their longing gazes. They always found a way to express their utter devotion, with a kiss, or a glance, or a sliding of their hands as they passed. That's what Geira wanted. But she didn't feel anything remotely similar to that now. Was that the root of her concerns?

Another stroke of his hand and she forced herself to concentrate, willing her body to respond to his touch. Surprisingly, it did, her nipples peaking into tight buds. The sensation was far less intense than she hoped

"We will share many pleasures in this marriage. Trust me on this."

His voice had thickened, deepened. His desire came easily. Why didn't hers? She took a deep breath, determined to hide her true feelings

"I do, it's just –"

The door crashed open, screams of terror and pain now filling the air. In the doorway, a hulking dark warrior stood, sword raised

Einnar leapt to his feet, diving for the pile of clothes where his own sword lay. He barely had a chance to raise it when the other warrior swung, forcing Einnar into a defensive position. Geira screamed, terror pounding in her head. 

"Einnar of Fellsskoger, I claim my vengeance!" The invader's voice thundered within the small hut.

Geira scrambled out of the bed when the intruder fixed his furious stare on her.  Cold fear pooled in her belly when he strode across the room. Another slice at Einnar sent her husband to the floor, clutching his gut.

"Einnar!" she shrieked and attempted to run toward him. The warrior caught her by the arm before she darted past. She kicked and pummeled him with her free hand, but he quickly captured her other wrist, forcing them both into his tight grip

"Bastard! Let me go!" She looked over at her husband, who struggled to his feet, sword in hand.

"Unhand my bride!" His voice was not nearly as strong as before, blood seeping from the wound slashing his stomach

Geira fought the urge to retch, focusing instead on pulling against the restraining grip of her captor. She swore at him, unable to free herself. His strength overpowered her, her attempts to escape futile. Hopelessness welled within, but she forced it aside, refusing to stop fighting, twisting and squirming against his hold

"She is mine now, repayment for your crimes against me!"

The booming words sent ice along her spine and Geira froze.

"What? No, I am not yours! Let me go!"

She caught Einnar's stare and her blood chilled. He knew exactly what this giant meant. Anger speared the fear, escalating her panic. What had her husband done? The earlier doubts flashed again in her mind. Had she been right all along, and everyone else so terribly wrong?

"Einnar, what does he mean?"

He took an unsteady step toward her, then another before collapsing to the floor. She screamed again, and tugged against her captor, surprised at how quickly he released her, making her stumble. Just as quickly, she was brought up short by the rope now binding her wrists.

"By the blood of Odin I will see you dead!" she swore. Fright left her limbs heavy and trembling. The strength to stand seeped from her legs, yet she somehow remained upright.

The warrior threw his head back and laughed. "You can try, but it's useless to fight."

"You killed my husband." She looked at Einnar's lifeless body.

"He earned it. He's lucky I killed him so quickly!"

Geira choked on a sob, drawn by fear of her own fate, rather than her husband's. "Please let me go. I don't know what this is about. I've done nothing to you. Please. Let me see to him."

A fierce stare accompanied a shake of his head. "He's dead."

Einnar's blood pooled beneath him, the puddle growing larger. Oddly, Geira felt no real sadness. Squeezing her eyes shut, she turned away from her dead husband.

The raider tugged on the rope, drawing her close, then bent, hoisting her onto his shoulder. She kicked and screamed, pounding his back with her bound fists.

He strode through the open door. Geira twisted and tried to free herself, lifting her head. She froze at the sight greeting her.