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."