Archive for November, 2011

Excerpt: All I Want For Christmas

Friday, November 25th, 2011


Hey everyone, if you want to keep a little Christmas spirit in your heart after all that Black Friday shopping, maybe you’ll enjoy this excerpt from All I Want For Christmas. This book was originally published around ten years ago, and I’m releasing it again soon. Best of all it will be at a special holiday price of 99 cents!

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Abby Manners wants the traditional Christmas she’s never had.  Nick Claussen wants Christmas without all the trimmings. Despite their differences their wildfire attraction threatens to burn out of control when Nick arrives to play Santa to Abby’s Elf.

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Stepping onto the ladder in front of her, she wondered again about the man in the Santa suit.

What made this Santa different than the one she’d worked with during Christmas last year? Maybe it was the way he’d responded to the children, the way they’d smiled after talking to him. Well, okay, that little kid who’d pulled Santa’s beard had ticked her off, but Santa had handled him with relative ease. As if he were used to children and liked them.

But, no, that couldn’t be it.

This was something more. A visceral feeling.

When she’d looked into his deep cobalt eyes, and watched his lips curve into a lopsided grin, surprise had blasted through her. A warm congeniality had heightened her emotions in a way she hadn’t experienced before.

Abby dropped a book on the floor and had to descend the ladder to retrieve the tome. As she climbed back up the ladder a lingering doubt about the Santa’s goodness remained in her mind. Unlike Becca Medino, her friend and co-owner of the bookstore, Abby couldn’t shake an inherent mistrust. She’d felt this way since childhood, and her attitude had kept her from making more than one bad decision, personally and professionally. She had no intention of lowering her drawbridge anytime soon.

A memory of childhood Christmases tugged at her. Kindness and cheerfulness sometimes cloaked a real person’s soul. Avarice and spite could hide under a charitable guise. She knew that too well.

Descending the ladder again, she retrieved the box at her feet and moved to the children’s section. Arranging another ladder to reach the top shelves, she shelved children’s Christmas stories. Suddenly she spied a cover that made her pause.

Father Christmas. Not jolly Santa, but a drawing of old-style Saint Nick. She shuddered.

Santa had been more of a terror than a pleasant experience for Abby. Therapy when she’d reached adulthood had remedied her irrational fear of Old Saint Nick. Forcing herself to work in close proximity with Santa at the mall two years in a row had assured Abby the odd phobia had disappeared for good.

As she continued to hum a tune, her spirit lightened slightly. But only slightly. Lately she’d clamored for something unreachable. An indefinable need that gnawed at her like a beaver chewed on wood. The teeth marks in her psyche hurt. She’d spent a year working side by side with Becca. So far the road had included pitfalls and anxiety, but they had built a healthy customer base.

Yet with every Christmas she spent alone, she found the holiday more arduous. Like a grizzly, she wanted to hibernate through the crazy Christmas season. This year in particular, she wanted to hide from everything she didn’t feel with as much depth as she should. Faith, love, hope, and charity.

Abby knew this Christmas season had to be different than all the rest. She needed to do something special. She’d decided to decorate her Victorian home like crazy, turning her house into a holiday showcase that wouldn’t fail to cheer her heart.

Realizing she wasted time daydreaming, she finished shelving books and descended the ladder. Satisfied with her work, Abby looked around the store and sighed. It felt good to be here among the scent of books, to hold them in her hands and savor contentment. Books remained dependable friends. They never left you and stayed at hand when needed.  She headed back to the front counter.

“My, my, aren’t we cheerful?” Becca came from the back rooms. She smiled, her pretty, freckled face brightening. Of average height, Becca stood a couple inches shorter than Abby and several pounds thinner. In fact, Abby had often teased her about being a walking scarecrow.

Abby grinned. “You know what they say. ’Tis the season to be jovial.”

Becca swept her shoulder length curly red hair back from her face. “You’ve been darn right cranky the last week. Now you’re fluttering about the store like a hummingbird and singing Christmas carols. What gives?”

Abby shrugged. “I’m having a great day.” Then she smiled again. “Or a manic-depressive episode.” When Becca’s forehead wrinkled with a frown, Abby said, “I had a nice morning in my incarnation as an elf.”

Becca leaned on the counter. “What was special about this morning?”

“Santa Claus. I think I’ll enjoy working with him. He’s a sweet man.”

The curiosity in Becca’s eyes escalated. “Aha, so you’re in love with Santa Claus?”

Abby stepped behind the counter. “He’s a nice, old, soft man. Cheerful, fatherly. Hardly love material.”

Becca sighed. “Probably has love handles the size of Mount Everest.” Abby giggled and Becca joined her. “And stays at home Friday nights and plays cards with Rudolph.”

Abby laughed harder. “Stop. Besides, the customers are going to think we’re unprofessional.”

“Pfft! Go with it, Abby. Give yourself a break from being so contained all the time.”

The seriousness in her eyes gave Abby pause. “Sorry.”

Becca patted her hand. “I like seeing you happy, and I hate it when you try and stop yourself from enjoying life.”

Abby would have denied her friend’s assessment, but a customer came to the counter with a question. A few minutes later, a very tall man strolled into the store. She watched as he stopped at a rack of horror novels and perused the latest Dean Koontz hard cover.

Déjà vu flared within her. She shrugged the sensation away, but intermittently glanced at him, seeing things about him with each look that she hadn’t noticed before. Occasionally she stole glimpses of his profile. Strong, with a nose some might call large, his face gave new, tantalizing meaning to the word rugged. His expertly cut chestnut hair gleamed in the store lights and waved over his ears, long enough to cover the collar of the shirt he wore beneath his green sweater. His sweater covered broad shoulders and a wide chest and his jeans formed an intimate but not tight fit over his thighs, his hips, his…

Abby swallowed hard and stared.

The man had the best looking butt she’d ever seen.

Smiling conspiratorially to herself, she forced herself to look away. She wasn’t getting any work done ogling a poor, innocent shopper. A customer came to the front counter and distracted Abby for several minutes.

Later, from the corner of her eye, she saw someone arrive at the counter. She turned with a smile.

And her breath jammed in her throat like a fishbone.

The good-looking stranger placed three hardbacks and an audio book on the counter.

“Hi. I’d like to get these books and the angel calendar you’ve got hanging on the wall behind you,” he said in a deep voice that rolled over her with a liquid, husky undertone that reminded her of brandy and fires in a hearth.

Abby stared, unable to reply. Something familiar and disconcerting nagged at her memory. Where had she met him before? Was he a famous movie star? Certainly he possessed a rough handsomeness that would work on the big screen.

She took a deep breath and managed to croak, “Find everything you need?”

“Yes, thank you.” He gave a wide, knee-buckling grin that added to the striking depth of his eyes and made her heart beat a little faster.

Abby noted he’d picked the new Dean Koontz, a Christmas cookie cookbook, a techno thriller, and a mainstream novel. “Christmas shopping?”

He nodded. “You’re right. One of them is for me, though.”

“Let me guess. The techno thriller?”

A heart-stopping grin curved his lips. “The Christmas cookies.”

“Oh,” she murmured, feeling foolish for assuming. “I see.”

She rang up his purchases, bungled the first time and had to do it again. “Sorry.”

The man didn’t appear the least perturbed. “No problem.”

As Abby loaded his books and calendar in a bag, she asked, “Do you like angels?”

“What?”

“The angel calendar.”

Abby watched the way his mouth tilted. “It’s for my niece Jenny. She’s ten this Christmas and into everything angels.”

“A child after my own heart. I love angels.”

“Then I’ll have to introduce you to her sometime.” He leaned against the counter, his gaze catching and holding hers.

His blue eyes defined arresting. Nicely spaced, with thick lashes, a myriad of emotions reflected in their depths. Good will and humor and maybe even teasing. Seconds later the teasing transformed into another meaning she couldn’t mistaken.

Have mercy, his eyes are smoldering! If he looks at me that way much longer, I’ll become a pool of mush on the floor.

He scrutinized Abby until heat washed into her throat and up to her face. She couldn’t help but stare back.

Hell, he wasn’t just tall. He wasn’t just handsome. He was every cliché she’d ever heard.

Drop dead gorgeous.

To die for.

She almost made herself sick with the adages. And he baked Christmas cookies? Something she couldn’t do. How thoroughly, sickeningly, perfect could a man get?

Wait a minute. Cobalt blue eyes. No wonder he looked familiar.

“Something wrong?” he asked, his voice serious.

Abby jerked from her stunned silence. “I know you.”

His gaze performed another lingering assessment. Purely masculine appreciation carried into his face, crinkling the corners of his eyes as he grinned.

“Pixie?” he asked.

 

Asylum Trilogy: Chills, Thrills & Of Course…Romance

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Fantastic news everyone! Next year my Asylum Trilogy, which took me a year to write, will be coming out! Plans on how to present this trilogy to readers are well under way. In fact, I intend to have all three books out at one time. I’ll be doing blog tours with plenty of opportunities to win prizes, too.

I’m not certain of release dates yet since this is in the beginning stages, but I’ll keep you updated.

Here are the tidbit blurbs to give you a taste of these stories. They’re definitely romance, but they are also filled with things-that-go-bump-in-the-night. I hope this little taste of these stories will get you excited about reading them. As always, I thank all of you so much for supporting me.

Asylum Trilogy

Haunted by a ghost? What if it isn’t one ghost, but several?

Sometimes you’re not crazy. Sometimes people really are out to get you. Sometimes something is out to get you. Simple, Colorado is nestled close to the mountains. It’s beautiful, safe, a lovely haven for relaxation and renewal. At least that’s what it was before they built Tranquil View Asylum in 1888, a year filled with darkness and misdeeds around the world. Volcanic eruptions. Fires. Blizzards. Jack The Ripper. It’s all a sign of things to come.

Asylum I: Shadows Wait

(Paranormal Historical Romance)

1908, Simple, Colorado

Lilly Luna’s mother gave birth to her in an asylum for the mad. Growing up in an insane asylum exposed her to horrors few could imagine, and yet her compassion and ability to heal frightens the broken and the healthy alike. The town fears her. The sane shun her. Her only wish is to exact revenge on the man she blames for her mother’s death.

Morgan Healy’s father runs the creepy and rumor-maligned asylum. Morgan’s lineage is filled with insanity, regularly peppered with the occasionally rational. Morgan holds together his crumbling family, hoping to escape his father’s legacy and the terrible secret it holds. When Lilly is hired as companion for Morgan’s sister, Morgan and Lilly form a reluctant alliance to corral the evil that seeps from Tranquil View and threatens not only the town, but also their growing love.

Asylum II: Shadows Rise

(Paranormal Historical Romance)

1918, Simple, Colorado

A time of war, disease and supernatural threat tests the fabric of one woman and one man…

Annabelle Dorrenti is ravaged by her experiences in World War I, her body marked by wounds, and her psyche damaged by guilt. To save herself, she becomes a nurse at the asylum and discovers the haunting is just beginning. Perhaps she’s imagining the shadows that flicker nearby, waiting. A creeping dread presses in upon her, and she sees signs everywhere that something just isn’t right at the asylum. She doesn’t want to admit it anymore than she wants to acknowledge her building attraction to a handsome soldier as broken as she is. A man who blames her for his sister’s death.

Army Captain Cade Hale suffers from shell shock and the terrible fear that the dead haunt his every step. He knows that danger terrorizes the earth, but he also feels Tranquil View could cure him of addiction and grief over his sister’s death. He’s determined to lay the blame for her death where it belongs, directly at Annabelle Dorrenti’s feet. Drawn down to his soul to Annabelle, he hates their attraction and struggles against it. Yet he knows the asylum harbors evil, and his fear for Annabelle demands he protect her, no matter what the risk, no matter what she’s done in the past. When evil and illness manifest, Cade and Annabelle step up to challenge a horror far more insidious than insanity.

Asylum III: Shadows Fall

(Contemporary Paranormal Romance)

Present Day, Simple, Colorado

Evil is spreading beyond previous boundaries, beyond the horrors of the past. Only one man and one woman can stop it.

Melissa Allan realizes something is wrong one windy, violent day. People are getting their just deserts. Karma is piling on the punishment, even for small offenses or misunderstandings hardly worth a blink. Melissa, owner of the only new age store in Simple, realizes that the air is disturbed, and that the former asylum on the mountain has something to do with strange happenings around town. Sensitive to the paranormal, she helps those in Simple who feel the need for advice beyond the conventional. Forces in town who want things to stay the same are against her, and she knows it.

Ex-marine Roarke O’Bannion hasn’t seen a freak out like this since he was in war. A search for his missing mother brings him to Tranquil View Condominiums for answers. He’s not interested in the paranormal and thinks people who believe in it just need more medication. He thinks Melissa fed his mother’s belief in ghosts, and he plans on giving her a piece of his mind. Instead he finds a woman who challenges everything he’s believed in, and makes him burn with desire.

When Melissa is in danger, he discovers he’ll do anything to save her, and together they’ll battle the unseen until midnight comes or the evil seething inside Tranquil View consumes them all.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh shiny! All I Want For Christmas cover!

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Hey there everyone,

Did I show you this cover before? I don’t think so. 🙂 But here’s the absolutely wonderful cover for All I Want For Christmas. Nom, nom! Next week I’ll have an excerpt to tantalize you. 🙂

Writing Tidbit #2 Perseverance

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

There’s one word the crops up a lot when it comes to a career as an author.

Perseverance.

Many people start a novel and never finish. When they don’t see things to the end, it doesn’t always mean they lack perseverance. Sometimes they discover writing a novel isn’t what they want to do. Sometimes they worry. Worry they don’t have what it takes. That the story they’ve carefully planned (if they’re a plotter) or dreamt about in the cloud (if they’re a pantser) won’t come to fruition because they can’t cut it. Some authors will believe their own self-talk and give into it. Others will believe it for a little while and then persevere. I fall into the later camp. Why? Probably because I can’t not write. Even when, like in the past few weeks, I didn’t have the mojo to produce many words each day, I never thought I’d stop writing all together. Did I worry that my creativity had flown into the toilet? Yes. Temporarily. But all authors feel like this at one time or the other. If you’re having trouble finishing a book, don’t despair. It may not be a full time occupation to shirk your writing, but a mere bump in the road. Take heart, pick up the ole pencil, and put some words down. Anything. Any way you can. Because you’re a writer.

 

For A Roman Heart In Print

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Hey all, many apologies for not being here too often lately. Some meds I’m taking have been causing side effects and making me feel tired and other things. So I’m taking this one day at a time. Here’s a happy photo of the author copies of For A Roman’s Heart that I received just this weekend. You can preorder your copy at Amazon and Barnes and Noble! It comes out in December.

Talk to you all real soon!

Writer’s Tidbit #1: Forgetting The Rules

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

I don’t make a habit of telling people how to write novels, short stories, or anything else. Primarily because I think there are plenty of us already out there telling other authors how to construct a book. Everywhere you look there are tips on craft. This isn’t to say that’s a bad thing. It certainly isn’t. I wanted to give the newbie writer, or even the seasoned veteran some observations from the trenches. Tips that had more to do with what I’ve learned in my gazillion years of writing.

Caveat #1 I’m not saying my way is the only way. I’m acknowledging what I’ve gleaned in my long writing journey.

Here’s you’re first tidbit:

Learn your craft, then be willing to forget it all. Yep, I said that. Forget what everyone told you long enough to realize that even if you do every last thing the craft books or workshops tell you, you could write a book that’s technically perfect but boring. A book that doesn’t stand out in any way. Why? Maybe the book sounds like the famous author you’re trying to emulate. Or maybe you took to heart everything your critique partners said and now the book sounds like their story and not yours. There’s a fine line between improving your story and sucking the uniqueness, voice, and life from the work.

Until next tidbit, have a super writing day!

 

 

 

Cari Quinn on The Non-Traditional Hero

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

A hearty welcome to guest author Cari Quinn as she talks to us about non-traditional heroes.

The Non-Traditional Hero

Thanks so much to Denise for allowing me to blog with her today!

I’ve been told I don’t necessarily write “traditional” heroes. My CP says I never write cookie cutter books and FictionVixen has said she enjoys “the way she makes her quirky, awkward heroes transform into sexy beasts.” That right there says it all, I think, about the bulk of my heroes.

What do I mean? Well, for example, in one current work-in-progress my actor hero freely (sort of) admits he cried the first time he slept with a woman that wasn’t the heroine – he and the heroine were high school sweethearts who lost their virginity to each other – and he also has such bad motion sickness that he can’t get on a plane without taking meds first. In my story Conquered in the Undercover Lovers anthology, my hero Shane is a PI undercover as a stripper and he can’t dance. For that matter he isn’t a very good PI either. He tries and he’s committed to doing better but he’s definitely not a natural.

I don’t read a lot of heroes with those kind of very real human flaws if you will, though honestly I don’t think motion sickness or crying from a strong man are flaws at all. I read a Tessa Dare book (my first and man, was I hooked!) where the hero had panic attacks in crowds. That to me is sexy.

Panic attacks are sexy?!? Wait, what? Not the panic attacks themselves but I like to see heroes and heroines that aren’t perfect to the nth degree. I often don’t like those people in real life so why would I choose to read about them? I wouldn’t. I like to see people who don’t always say the right thing or always have gorgeous hair find their HEA too.

I really get tired of the blurbs that state “Declan AlwaysSexy is the top Navy Seal/werepanther/soccer player” blah, blah, blah. It’s fine to have stories about those sort of people because diversity is a good thing and it’s fun to escape for a while. But for me to relate, tell me about something they aren’t good at or a fear they have. Maybe that’s just me.

 

I have a new release, Hot Text, out tomorrow from Ellora’s Cave (blurb below.) The hero, Jeff, is gruff and swears a lot. He’s also, at least in my mind, not a studly McStud physically. He’s definitely attractive and he has skills behind closed doors that make him stand out 😉 but he’s not the kind of guy that instantly turns heads. And even if he did, he might be as likely to tell you off as kiss you. He doesn’t feel comfortable around people and prefers to bury his nose in the textbook he edits…but man, when he gives his heart and his loyalty to someone, he’s absolutely fierce in his devotion.

 

What about you? What’s your preference when it comes to heroes – and heroines? I’ll give a random commenter their choice of an ebook from my backlist!

 

Hot Text Blurb:

 

Sometimes what you think you want and what you need are two very different things.

 

As a technical editor, Jeffrey Maddox deals with plenty of words, leaving him few to spare on people, except  his baby sister. To keep Daisy from wrecking her newly rehabbed life by shacking up with her older, married lover Lonny, he impulsively texts Lonny’s wife, Karyn. And then meets her at a coffee shop on a snowy night, ostensibly to convince her to stay with her philandering husband.

 

But soon texting turns to sexting. After spending the night getting to know Karyn, Jeff wants something much more personal—Lonny’s wife. For himself.

 

Despite her misgivings about Jeff’s intentions, Karyn can’t fight their attraction. She’s still not divorced, though she knows there’s no way she’ll return to her husband. But maybe an amazing night of conversation—and even more amazing lovemaking—can lead to more than just one night of hot text.

 

Hot Text Buy Link:

http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9687-hot-text.aspx

 

Find out more about Cari Quinn at www.cariquinn.com