MuseTracks Guest – Susanne Matthews – The Importance of Authenticity in Historical Romance

September 18, 2013

MuseTracks welcomes back guest, Susanne Matthews! She’s here to talk about something I enjoy – research and imagination.

The Importance of Authenticity in Historical Romance

On August 27, my third novel, a historical romance, The Captain’s Promise, was released by Front Porch Romance. My prior novels, Fire Angel and In Plain Sight, both romance/suspense, released by Crimson Romance, were contemporary novels—one set in Northern Ontario, the other in Northern New York, in imaginary towns based on real locations with which I was familiar.  The setting for The Captain’s Promise, on the other hand, was seventeenth century France near Brest, and aboard a three-masted sailing vessel—two locations with which I had no experience.

The Captain's Promise CoverFor a historical romance to meet the expectations of its audience, authenticity to the period and the historical data is essential, and believe it or not, a lot of the information you’d consider necessary to verify facts simply doesn’t exist. So, the question is how do you find the facts you need to fit your story? You watch movies, you read other books, and you scour the Internet for whatever information you can find. Like an archeologist, you dig through all the dirt, find the facts and then, extrapolate from them what you need to know. For example, it’s a fact that on his second voyage Columbus carried 34 horses aboard his ship. Now, try finding details as to where they were kept and who cleaned them! I used a little literary license and invented a character in the story, with a Da Vinci-like imagination, who designed certain amenities for the ship. He created a weather deck stable that could be kept clean with sea water and openings on the side of the stable walls to allow the filth to leave the ship. Without his modern ideas, the crossing would have been far too smelly to be romantic.

And that brings up the next point—when does authenticity have to give way to imagination? Over three hundred years ago, clothing was different, daily hygiene was different, and what we consider basic comforts didn’t exist. There was no head on the ship with running water, hot showers, and a flush toilet—no laundry to clean the clothing and bring them back to you fresh and clean. There were basins and ewers, slop buckets, and a beakhead, basically the ship’s latrine that emptied directly into the sea beneath, but someone, most likely the cabin boy, had to empty the grey and black water every day. Being aboard a hot, smelly, crowded, ship wasn’t romantic in the least, but the Black Pearl, from Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t seem that bad. When I visited Jamestown, I saw the replicas of the ships that carried the settlers to Chesapeake Bay, and at Plymouth I visited a mock-up of the Mayflower that brought the Pilgrims to Massachusetts. There was nothing romantic about either of them, but consider a converted warship—lots of space—it was possible. I saw the Vasa in Stockholm, and that’s where I got the idea for the recessed area that could serve as a veranda. Today, staterooms with personal decks are common aboard modern ships.

Romance flourishes quickly when danger is involved and, since I am a suspense writer, I needed a mystery to solve. The birth of the Merchant marine in that period is a reality as is the French West-Indies Company’s monopoly on trade with the colonies. When people lose vast sums of money, there is always an opportunity for subterfuge! Dueling was indeed illegal and punishable by death in France. I tried to relay the importance of a sextant and proper charts so that a reader would understand the danger a ship could face lost at sea. Finally, living in Canada as I do, I think the choice of settling on Martinique in spite of the dragons and serpents would appeal to me.

So, now you have a glimpse of some of the research that went into The Captain’s Promise. You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the need to teach out of the teacher.

The Captain’s Promise is available at https://www.frontporchromance.com/

And other major e-book retailers

About the Book:

Etienne Blouin left Danielle de Cherbourg in tears, promising to return; he didn’t. Ten years later, Etienne learns she’s been widowed and left almost penniless. Now a wealthy ship’s captain, he offers to help her, but the only reply he gets is from her aunt telling him to leave Danielle alone. Convinced she’s in trouble, he determines to rescue her whether she likes it or not, even if it means losing her love.

Danielle is shocked to learn that her companion is going to the colonies, while she is to marry a cruel and powerful man as repayment of her husband’s gambling debts.  Despondent, she sees no way out of the horrendous situation. When her carriage is waylaid and she’s kidnapped, she fears the worse.

 Etienne has enemies who don’t want La Belle Rose to make port. Can he outfox them to save his ship and the woman he loves?

Susanne MatthewsAbout the Author:

Susanne Matthews grew up as an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. Today, she has made her dreams come true. A retired educator, she now gets to spend her time writing, so she can share her adventures with her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Susanne lives in Cornwall, Ontario with her husband. She has three adult children and five grandchildren. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, chatting on the Internet with her writer friends, and hearing from her readers. You can learn more about Susanne and buy her e-books at http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca

 

 


MuseTracks Guests – Kristal McKerrington and Joe E. Legend – On Wrestling Romance

September 9, 2013

MuseTracks  is happy to host author Kristal McKerrington and wrestling great Joe E. Legend. They are here to talk about a new sports romance subgenre, wrestling romance. Take it away Kristal and Joe.

Hello All,

Its an honour to be here with you. I’m here with Joe E Legend to present a themed sports category which has been around for a while. Yet its only now starting to get a lot of attention. Its wrestling romance. A theme to which a few people scoff at. However with real wrestlers coming into publishing I’m seeing the genre flourish.

Together Joe and myself have successfully launched a imprint with Solstice where other celebrities, even other wrestlers are starting to take part in. Most recently signed there is Leaping Lanny Poffo. A wrestler who rose to his fame in the 80s-90s. He’s just one of the many talented authors which Solstice hosts within its rankings.

Joe and myself wanted to bring something different to the table other than Non-fiction, this is when we released books such as Waking Up His Wife. You’ll find an excerpt below and myself went on to write the current book on sale Fighting For Love, there is excerpt of this one below too. We hoped to use these books to bring this old Sports Entertainment to the romance industry successfully. So far its going well.

L. Anne Carrington first started to move wrestling and romance together when she released her first wrestling erotica. It became a best seller. Before too long I followed her and have worked with her to help to push wrestling erotica alongside her. My first own creation is Fighting For Love. Which is currently on sale in Print and Ebook on Amazon. Buy links will be at the end of this blog.

Taking men who live out of a suitcase, break down their own bodies for our personal entertainment and most of them have bodies which most women dream of.  Sounds like the perfect males for a love story right? Well that is what I thought. Soon, I found myself picking the brain of the wrestling legend himself. Now we are running several series of books. He put up with my questions before joining me as a co-author.

Having strong men, women make for great books. I’m glad to share this new genre with authors. So the next time you watch WWE with your children or see a local wrestling show, you can think of all the wonderful stories they can give you.

Thank you for having me and Joe E Legend today, we are delighted to have had the chance to stop by. We hope you will enjoy the excerpts.

Fighting For Love Excerpt:

Fighting for Love cover I“I know what the others are like and the things they do to people like me, but you don’t do that though do you? You don’t screw women and leave them.” Those words were like ice being poured down his spine. He shivered and realised he stood out in a cooling Virginia night in his wrestling gear.  With night, owls and crickets started to come to life, filling the air with their sounds.

His trunks and his boots were the only items of clothing to cover his body. They didn’t protect him against the cooling air.  They made the air feel even cooler, for they were designed to allow his body to breathe.

“No-” Carl answered and when he went to take away her fears about him, she moved forward and did what he used to think as the unthinkable. She leaned her body against his and he instantly saw the ball round shape of the tops of her breasts, moving up and down in gasps. Her heaving breasts captured his brain and left him powerless. They weren’t huge, but were big enough to make him weak.

Wrapping her arms around his neck quickly, she captured his lips underneath hers in a feverish pitch of uncontrollable desire and lust. He almost fell backwards with the intense power behind her kiss. He felt heat explode through him and his skin burst out into an inferno of flames.

His arms remained wide around her and the more she kissed him, the more he started to kiss her back.     No woman with her looks ever kissed him like this and he was completely trapped, locked in the centre of her spell. He didn’t know anyone could kiss with everything they held inside them and still leave the other person knowing there might be more to give.

The feel of her hot, electric tongue caressing his and the way her hand fitted at the bottom of his neck made his blood pool rushed down through his body. His cock grew hard and tense as it pushed against the tight fabric of his trunks. His legs became like jelly and he felt his own arms hold her against him. Not wanting this kiss to stop and not wanting to be swept away by this new found ecstasy.

BUY LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-For-Love-Kristal-McKerrington/dp/1491286318/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1377673459&sr=8-2

Waking Up His Wife-Coming Soon

Excerpt:

The sudden movement of her burying into the thick duvets, pillows and sheets made pain explode through the front of her head.  Pain lashed out at the backs of her eyes making tears form just behind her eyelids, they threatened to spill over.  The heat of her tears clashed against the cool air of the room, leaving her eyes protesting against it. The hot burn of them was enough to send her cold hands flying to them, in desperate hope of cooling them.

The room started to spin and aches started to take over the rest of her body. Like a marching of soldiers, with a steady, determined pace. The aches came in a series of waves making her feel dizzy and sick. Almost as if she found herself in the grips of the rough, wild and explosive Irish Sea. With its venom for ships and those who tried to conquer it on a daily basis. She felt like death and it wasn’t a feeling she’d ever been to use to.  It wasn’t a feeling she wanted to get use to or ever have to deal with again.934121_162464673930925_1748577106_n (1)

She barely ever drank; she was more use to being on ‘drunk patrol’ rather being drunk herself.  Without opening her eyes, she knew she faced down a killer of a hangover.  She knew this wasn’t going to be easily fixed by a simple aspirin and fry up.  She searched blindly for shades and hoped none of her clients were going to be too loud today.

Her hand searched the bedside table and she found nothing. She tried to remember where she left them and felt sure they’d been there. She wasn’t going to open her eyes to see where they were. She wanted to stay in the darkness as long as possible.

“Aww.” She groaned and she replaced her head deeper into the embrace of her nest of pillows hoping relief might come out of more sleep. It offered her a welcoming embrace at the edges of her mind.  She hoped it might take her over soon as another wave of sickness finished beating at her.

She’d never felt this sick on boats crossing some of the worst oceans or in planes which felt like they might fall out of the sky.

“How’s the hang over?” Came a voice which caused her head to jerk up and brought her eyes shooting open into the bright morning light of her hotel room.  A series of chain reactions shot off around her body like a pin ball in a pin ball machine.  Its reactions caused her to struggle to not whimper aloud against the pain that flooded her.  She instantly regretted her sudden movements.

The entire room spun around her, her head screamed at her to lay it back down on the safety of the pillow.  She felt last night’s aftermath of alcohol race up her throat into her mouth and she forced herself to swallowed back.   The burn of it made her to cough against its alien presence within her throat.  Her body shivered against the sudden cooler air it met. It made the hangover punish her even more with its tight grip.

Connect with Kristal and Joe E Legends:

Kristal’s Fan page: https://www.facebook.com/kristalsmckerringtonsfanpage

Kristal’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/K_McKerrington

Joe’s Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/JoeELegendAuthorPage

Joe’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheJoeELegend

L. Anne Carrington’s Book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Cruiserweight-L-Anne-Carrington/dp/1456465198/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1377673569&sr=8-2&keywords=Cruiserweight

 


MuseTracks Guest – Massimo Marino – Dystopian Plots

August 30, 2013

Today, MuseTracks is pleased to host Italian scientist and award-winning sci-fi and horror author, Massimo Marino. What better person to discuss dystopian plots?

Dystopian, Utopian, and Cacotopyan

The word dystopian comes from the ancient greek with δυσ-, “bad”, and τόπος, “place.” Alternatively it can also be called cacotopia, or anti-utopia. The word dystopia represents a counterpart of utopia.

Many dystopias described in fictional works present a utopian society, where good-life seems to have been achieved, but suffering by at least one fatal issue. Whereas utopian societies are founded on aspiring to the general well-being, a dystopian society’s dreams of improvement are overshadowed by a repression of any sort and origin, at times even one benevolent repression.

These kind of society appear particularly in stories staged on a speculative and visionary future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian rules, ecological and environmental disasters—post-apocalypse scenery, like in my work “The Daimones Trilogy”—or other events associated with a cataclysmic decline in the society fabric.

A famous dystopian novel is Fahrenheit 451, where the state burns all books out of fear of what they may incite in the individuals, and the more recent The Hunger Games, where a government holds control of its people by maintaining a constant state of fear through annual fight to the death competitions, the Hunger Games, where two young members of the various districts the world is divided in—after a global war that brought the planet on the bring of annihilation—are selected as ‘tribute’.

Dystopias have taken the form of a multitude kind of speculations and create very compelling stories that touch on issues of our own society: corruption, poverty, violence, pollution, political repressions. They offer their writers lots of freedom and inventive. Even if placed in the future, technology may, or may not be more advanced than in the present. In some cases, humanity has been brought to face a total collapse of the world as we know it and the fights for survival set in.

Some dystopian fictions emphasize the pressure to conform to a flattened society, as a requirement not to excel. In these fictions, the society is ruthlessly egalitarian, in which ability and accomplishment, or even competence, are suppressed or stigmatized as forms of inequality. Again, in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the dystopia represses the intellectuals with a particular brutality and subverts pillars of our society like the concept of family, a clear case of dehumanization dystopian organizations.

Both the principles of utopian and dystopian societies can be idealistic, with the goal of attaining positive stability for its members, but on dystopian fictions the foundations have such defects that ultimately result in oppressive consequences for the inhabitants of the planet. The oppression and repression can be subtle and the perception of a utopian society lingers instead, at least for a certain duration of the story, until a Hero becomes aware of the flaws and decides, against all odds, to intervene. Some fine examples come from such films and stories as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Brazil.

Daimones Postcard FrontIn dystopia, characters are at the mercy of the controlled society even if, at epidemic level, they might have the impression to live the good life; people enjoy much higher material living-standards in exchange for the loss of other qualities in their lives, such as independent thought and emotional depth. Humanity lives in a glorious state of comfort, but has given up what gives life its meaning.

The fictional society construction often has a backstory of a disaster, a war, a critical global climatic change, or an encounter of the third type, introduced early in the narrative and that create the stage for the story evolution. The historic events triggered the shift from previous systems of society organization and social norms to a changed society and new, often disturbing, social norms.

Unlike other fictions where an improbable, outcast main character evolves through the typical Arc of the Hero, often dystopias feature a prominent personality of the new society as the protagonist who senses, sometimes intuitively, that something terribly wrong is going on, despite the ‘utopian’ outlook. The hero’s point of view clashes with the others’ perception, and reveals to the readers that concepts of utopia and dystopia are tied to each other and the only difference between them lies on a matter of opinion. The hero attempts to either change the system or bring it down.

The story is often—but not always—unresolved even if the hero manages to escape or destroy the dystopia. That is the individual who are unsatisfied, and rebel, ultimately fail to change anything. Dystopian works may convey a sense of hopelessness in contrasts with much fiction of the future, in which a hero succeeds in resolving conflicts or otherwise changes things for the better.

All we said about dystopian, and its duality with utopian fictions and visioned societies, can also be told about my work in progress, “The Daimones Trilogy”.

More on Daimones:

Book one, “Daimones”, is released in both ebook and paperback, and the volume 2, “Once Humans” will hit the virtual and real shelves by the end of May of this year.

The trilogy describes a post-apocalypse world whose dystopian roots are million years old. Ancient aliens, a galactic struggle, the control of unique resources, meld to dictate the fate of the humankind.

“Daimones” places a few survivors in a world having experienced a planetary culling of humankind, one with no immediate or apparent cause. The Apocalypse has arrived yet the ‘why’ and ‘how’ remain unknown in a frustrating and fearful reality for Dan Amenta and his family.

Dan and his family awake one day in a world where everyone is dead but no evidence points to a cause. Initial searches for survivors yield nothing and, in panic, the family turns their house into a stronghold. Eventually, they find Laura, a survivor who manages to win their hearts…and leads Dan to temptation. Laura reveals her panicking encounter with strange entities which Dan recognizes in his childhood hallucinations. He forces himself to find and confront them: An older power controls the fate of men.

The story, on purpose, starts with the confusing life–and manifest lack of information–of characters that, as with the vast majority of us, live their life focusing on a very little world around themselves. Then something happens, and the “heros” arch starts.

The novel describes what our world is: we focus on money, we are not looking at what happens around us, we already live in a spiritual apocalypse.  Vol.2, “Once Humans” has been published on July 2013.

The trilogy will explore the apocalypse from the physical death of humankind, the rebirth of the society, dystopian or utopian, and a larger conflict tensions with the second and third volumes.

Our real life world though tells us we have a spiritual death apocalypse already in place.MM

About the Author:

I’m Italian, or should I say, Sicilian. Palermo is my home town and I left it in 1986. I now have lived more years abroad than in Italy. Needless to say, I have changed in many and different way than my old friends there.

I lived in Switzerland, France, and the United States. For work, I used to travel some 500,000 air miles a year. I am a scientist as a background, having spent over 17 years in fundamental research. Most of my writing are academic stuff. I worked for many years at CERN, near Geneva—an international lab for particle physics research—then in the US at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. In 1995 I moved to the private sector, worked with Apple Inc., and then for the World Economic Forum.

Some say I have acquired a multi-faceted personality.

Author’s website

http://www.facebook.com/massimo.marino.750546


Pitch Opp with Curiosity Quills on Saturday Aug. 24th!

August 23, 2013

STOP!

It’s late, and I need to get to bed at some point. 🙂 Which means I need to start getting pitches formatted. We didn’t reach our target of thirty pitches, but we’ll have some for Curiosity editors to look at.

Good luck!

 

Looks like the whole crew at Curiosity Quills will be here Sunday to check out the pitches!

Here’s a link to their website: http://curiosityquills.com/

This is what they are looking for: Curiosity Quills publishes sci-fi, speculative fiction, & paranormal works aimed at adults, young adults & new adults. We also publish graphic novels, suspense, mystery and fantasy novels. We don’t acquire “Romance”, although romantic themes are fine. And, yes, that means sex is fine, even super steamy sex, if it adds to the plot or a character’s growth.

And here is a little bit about them:

Acquisition Manager Andrew Buckley had the good fortune to grow up in England where the sense of humor is rather silly. In 1997 he moved to Canada because the thought of a country run entirely by beavers was amusing. He attended the Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film and Television program where he graduated with excellence. Andrew now dwells happily in BC with 3 kids, 2 cats, 1 beautiful wife, and a multitude of voices that live comfortably in his head. Check out Andrew’s Wish List.

Moving often as a youth, Acquisition Editor James Wymore’s family finally settled in the desert paradise of Utah. He spent a couple years in Korea contemplating the balance of opposing forces. After learning chaos theory in college he found the ideal environment to continue his studies of the uncontrollable,and became a teacher. He earned a Master’s degree before departing from the academic path to seek the greater freedoms of fiction. In his dwindling free time, he draws a line of death themed comics called Parting Shots. Check out James’ Wish List.

After spending several of her formative years in a commune, Acquisition Editor Alison Nee Heller found herself in the metropolis of Chicago only to be thrust back into the bohemian lifestyle when she chose to attend high school on a farm. Upon graduation she was back in the city attending the University of Chicago.Since then she’s lived here, there, and everywhere, all east of the Mississippi. Currently she can be found in SW Ohio with her three kids, two dogs (one of whom thinks he’s a cat) and one cat (who thinks he’s a dog). Check out Alison’s Wish List.

Acquisition Editor Kathleen Kubasiak is living the dream life, surrounded 24/7 by her devoted fan club (aka: her children). She draws on her degrees in Education and Language Arts, as well as her Masters in Library and Information Sciences, in order to homeschool her children while exploring all the nation, and the world, has to offer, thanks to her husband’s career. Check out Kathleen’s Wish List.

Dori Cross, Acquisitions Editor, may have walked through a worm hole, or did she find a tessellation? Whatever it is, she’s been sworn to secrecy about her past by ancient Incan vampire gods wearing bolo ties and spats. When she’s not working on her computer reading fantasy submissions for CQP she can be found deep in the Peruvian jungles with her pet armadillo, Mopsy van Deederdorn, searching for a cure for her curse. Or maybe renewing it. Check out Dori’s Wish List.

Remember to wait until morning to submit your pitch! I’ll post the word GO around 10:00am EST.

Good Luck!!!


MuseTracks Guest – Vivi Dumas – Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

August 17, 2013

It is always so exciting to be a part of a cover reveal. And today, MuseTracks is honored to host Vivi Dumas and the next book, Stolen Innocence, in her Dueling with the Devil series. To celebrate, Vivi has brought us an excerpt, plus a chance to win a copy of the book. (The ARC of Stolen Innocence will not be available until September. But it will be worth the wait!)

StolenInnocence_CoverStolen Innocence: Dueling with the Devil Book 3

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: VPG Publishing and Promotions, LLC

Publication Date: 10/4/13

Website: http://vividumas.com/stolen-innocence/

GoodReads: http://goo.gl/xMNuDN

Blurb:

They say ignorance is bliss, but when it comes to love and mating, Charity Lovell wished someone had schooled her on the ins and outs. She fell hard when she saw the beautiful face of the fair-haired demon as he lay broken in Lucifer’s dungeon. Her body ached for him. Her heart cried for him. This had to be her mate, right? Who else could make her trade her soul to the Devil to save someone she didn’t know? Someone should’ve told her love wasn’t quite as straight forward as that.

Damon lived an uncomplicated life, even as the alpha of the Lake Charles pack and the son of Lucifer. He should’ve taken a mate years ago, but held on to the hope of love. Only one female came close to making him believe he still had a chance for happiness. Yet, her heart belonged to someone else. Once again, the feeling is back, stronger than ever. And again, his female has pledged herself to another. Damn demons were ruining his love life. This time Damon plans to fight for what was his and win his rightful mate.

Excerpt:

Damballa eyed Lucifer suspiciously as the angel dusted off a boulder and gracefully lowered himself on the hard, burnt-orange surface. “What bring you to the slums of Purgatory?”

“Not many people still think of me as an angel. You’re showing your age, Damballa.” Lucifer’s smile gleamed in bright contrast to his ebony skin.

“You shouldn’t pry in other’s minds without their permission. Does age matter when you’re no longer amongst the living?”

“Valid point.”

“Again, why are you here?” Damballa demanded.

Lucifer inhaled a deep breath and sighed as he released it. His face displayed an Oscar winning expression of disappointment. “Everyone’s so impatient these days. All that television and those video games. Do you get those down here?”

Crossing his arms across his chest, Damballa stared at Lucifer without a response.

“I guess you want to know why I’m here.” Lucifer laughed at Damballa’s grunt of frustration. “I need your help.”

Damballa narrowed his eyes, tightening his arms in their locked position, closing himself off even more. “How can a lowly human priest banished to Purgatory help the Prince of Hell?”

“When you put it like that, it make me second guess my visit. But then again we both know the greatest Vodou priest who’s ever walked the Earth isn’t exactly a lowly human. Didn’t your followers even deem you a god?”

“You know I was stripped of my title and those followers turned on me with vengeance.”

“Some don’t appreciate those who think outside of the box. I, on the other hand, appreciate innovation, especially when it goes as far to the dark side as you delved.”

Damballa strolled over to the hollowed out cavern wall filled with books, pretending to study its contents. His hand trembled as he removed a book of spells from a shelf. Sorrow lingered in his heart when he thought of his demise. The darkness took everything he loved away from him and landed him in this fiery stone prison. Love was an unstable drug. No one could predict its side effects. For him, they were lethal.

“Regret and self-pity only lead one down the road to condemnation. They’re useless in seeking redemption. I know what you want. And I can get it for you.” Temptation slithered amongst Lucifer’s words.

A chuckle tickled Damballa’s throat. “There is nothing on Earth for me. I’ve glanced at the world a few times and they’ve turned it into a shithole. I’m not looking to go back to a place I no longer recognize.”

Pushing himself off his seat, Lucifer appeared beside Damballa. “You underestimate me. I mean I know what you really long for.”

Damballa faced the Prince. He raised a brow in question. “What is it you think that I want?”

“I can give her back to you. And I’ll throw in a bonus.”

“No. She has ascended,” Damballa spat.

Lucifer barked a laugh. “There’s no ascension for those who trade their soul to the Devil.”

“What do you mean? She made a deal with you?”

“Yep. I helped her people. She was really pissed at what you did. In exchange, I have her soul until I decide what I want to do with it.”

Grabbing Lucifer by the shoulders, Damballa shook the Devil. “You’re lying. She would never…she wouldn’t give herself to you.”

Lucifer shoved Damballa’s hands off his shoulders. “Your little lady was willing to offer herself to the highest bidder. Isn’t that why you killed her in the first place?”

Damballa struggled to keep from striking Lucifer.

“You’re not crazy. You know I could incinerate you right here. She wanted a life for her family. One not involving running around as wolves for the rest of their lives. A little blood signature on some parchment and we had a deal. I must admit the new E-sign makes brokering deals much easier.” Lucifer cracked a slow grin and chuckled to himself. “Anyway, I have her soul and the world got werewolves. Maybe not a full recovery, but a good compromise. Seemed like a fair trade at the time. Now, I’m offering to return her back to you. Slightly used needless to say, but who cares when it’s the love of your life.” The jagged edges of Lucifer’s teeth showed when he smiled fully.

Damballa’s heart and head raced with anticipation. “And what do I have to do to get her back?”

“Just a little magic.”

“What kind?”

“I need to manifest on Earth,” Lucifer answered casually as he picked imaginary dirt from under his finger nails.

Damballa choked at Lucifer’s words. “Do you know how much dark magic that requires? I don’t even know if I can harness enough energy to jump start the process. That requires a blood sacrifice.”

“Okay. Let me know what you need and I’ll order it.” With those last words, Lucifer disappeared.

A shiver whispered down Damballa’s spine. No matter what dark magic he practiced in the past or how badly he wanted Ariella back, unleashing Lucifer on Earth was a terrifying thought.

* * *

The female crouched in a ball in the corner of the cell, hugging her long legs tight to her chest. Her ankle-length, brown skirt billowed around her on the twin-sized bed. Her honey-colored hair hung in a thick braid, dangling over her shoulder, glistening like spun gold in the dim light. Every now and again, Charity found the woman staring at her with haunting green eyes threaded with ribbons of amber, giving them an iridescent quality. For three days they had sat in this godforsaken hole without a word. Charity debated on speaking to her. Usually talking was a no brainer, a natural affliction she wielded like a weapon. But the odd symbols and murmured chants freaked her out. She was in enough trouble without pissing off some crazy witch. Especially one trapped in Lucifer’s dungeon.

The clamor of keys caught Charity’s attention. A burly demon balanced two trays in one hand as he unlocked the cell door. He pushed the heavy titanium bars open, clipping the edge of the top tray against the doorframe. In slow motion, the plate toppled to the floor. Charity watched the slop they considered food splash in a multicolored mess on the ground and sighed in both frustration and relief.

“Looks like one of you will not be dining tonight,” The guard laughed.

The girl in the corner stayed silent, glancing longingly at the destroyed food. The demon haphazardly dropped the other tray on the edge of Charity’s bed. She flashed him her famous f-you smile before he slammed the cell door shut. Charity remained in her spot and listened to the click-clack of his boots echo down the hall. When the sound disappeared, she stood and picked up the gruel left on her bed. As fowl as the food looked and smelled, it was the first nourishment they had brought in three days.

Charity walked cautiously over to the stranger in the corner. “Hi. You look like you need this more than I do.” Piercing emerald eyes met Charity’s gaze. A familiar sadness glowed behind the brilliance of the girl’s stare. “Can I sit?”

The female unwound her long body and dangled her legs over the side of the tiny bed. As she sat up and light shone upon her face, Charity gasped at the female’s overwhelming beauty. Handing the girl the tray, Charity lowered to the edge of the mattress, close to the foot of the bed. Her cellmate shoveled the food into her mouth with her hands, filling her cheeks like a chipmunk. How long had it been since she ate?

“Wow. You were hungry. How long had it been since they fed you?” Charity had been here three days and this was the first sign of food she had witnessed.

The girl choked down the stuff in her mouth with a look of embarrassment. “Seven days,” she announced through the food left in her mouth.

“Seriously?”

The girl nodded affirmation.

Charity pressed her lips in a thin line. Heat rose from her stomach, spreading throughout her body and flushing her face. “They’re not going to fucking starve me to death. Lucifer said nothing about starving to death.” I really got to think through shit before I act on it. That boy better be worth it. He was fine as hell.

The girl stopped eating, tilted her head to the side and studied Charity. Swallowing the mystery meat she was chewing, the female asked, “You look familiar. Who’s your people?”

“I’m with the New Orleans pack. My name is Charity Lovell. What’s yours?” The girl choked on something. Charity thumped her back as she coughed up a piece of bread. “You okay?”

The female nodded in affirmation even though her face remained red. “Yes. It’s been a long time since I met someone from the New Orleans pack.”

“Oh. You know someone from the pack? Who?”

“I doubt anyone I know would still be earthbound.”

Charity raised a brow. “And what did you say your name was?”

“I didn’t, but it’s Ariella Lovell.”

It was Charity’s turn to freak out. Her throat tightened and her head swam. How did she end up in a cell with her great-great-great-grandmother who died in the seventeen hundreds? “You can’t be. She died a long time ago.”

“Darling, you’re in Hell. Why are you shocked to run into someone who no longer walks among the living?”

Sweat moistened the palms of Charity’s hands. She fought the urge to touch her to see if she was real. She had heard of Ariella’s beauty. Listened to the stories about how the pack came to be, but she assumed most of it to be folklore, stories the elders told to keep them in check. But they hadn’t exaggerated about her allure.

“How did you end up here?” Charity asked.

Ariella laughed harshly, without humor. “Bad choices. I guess I can ask you the same.”

“A guy.” Charity folded her legs under her and shrugged.

Amusement lit Ariella’s face as she smiled. “That’s the same as bad choices. I’m glad Lucifer held his end of my deal. Tell me about my pack. I’ve worried so much through the years that the Devil would renege on his promise. Does the curse still run through the females in the family?”

* * *

“I didn’t fucking ask her to serve herself up for me,” Laurent barked at the massive wolf sitting across from him. “I was passed the fuck out. Haven’t even spoken two words to her.”

Damon jumped out of his seat, catching the lunging wolf midair. “I think we all need to calm down.”

A feral growl escaped Ty, the Alpha of the New Orleans pack. He shoved Damon away from him. “This is your fault Boudreaux. You came to us for help. We trusted you. And you vouched for them.” The wolf jerked his thumb towards Laurent and his friends.

Laurent’s sister, Bell, stood with her hand on her hip, blue eyes ablaze. “That chick was off. She went all Twilight-Wolf on us. Like she imprinted on Laurent. I told everyone something was wrong with her.”

“We don’t imprint!” a pretty she-wolf growled from the back of the room.

Bell inhaled to begin another rant, but her brother cut her off.

“Bell, sit down and be quiet,” Laurent grumbled. Bell muttered something under her breath. “You’re not helping. Sit!” Laurent snapped.

Stepping in the middle of the eclectic crowd of supernaturals, Damon ran a hand through his hair and cleared his throat. “This is no one’s fault. Charity is an adult. She made a choice, albeit stupid, but one she made on her own. She believes Laurent is her mate. When we rescued him from Lucifer’s dungeon, she definitely had some kind of attraction to him. Wouldn’t leave his side. We can’t change any of that now. We have to work together to figure out how to get her back.”

“Why the hell would Lucifer trade Laurent’s life for hers?” Tact wasn’t Bell’s strong suit. This time her fiancé, Xavier, nudged her lightly, swinging the ice-blue glare in his direction. “What? It’s a valid question.”

The five members of the New Orleans pack looked at Ty, waiting for his response. Them and their damn secrets. Damon shook his head.

“She’s one of the few members left of our original lineage. Charity’s family is the reason there are werewolves. The females of her line are cursed with the inability to shift until they find their mates. It keeps their other powers dormant until they find the one they love.” Ty spoke in hushed tones as if Lucifer himself eavesdropped on their conversation.

The whole room remained silent, allowing the gravity of the revelation to settle. Damon paced the length of the purple flowered sofa. The small living room became more constricting. Jacque, a shifter demon and Xavier’s brother, rose from his chair. He strolled over to Damon and Ty.

“How did her family start a species?” Jacque questioned.

Ty rubbed the back of his neck. “Her great-great-great-grandmother was promised to Damballa, but she gave herself to another. As punishment, Damballa cursed us to turn to wolves. He was so enraged he killed Ariella and then offed himself. It’s told Ariella brokered a deal with Lucifer before she ascended to allow us to maintain our human form except on the full moon. Later we learned to adapt and shift when we needed. Afraid that one of the Lovell females would eventually be able to reverse the curse or become too powerful, Lucifer bound their powers until the found a mate, which only a few did. It’s like one of those fucked up Lifetime movies.”

“What kind of powers do Charity’s people have?” Laurent asked.

Ty shrugged. “We don’t really know. None of them has ever used them to my knowledge. That’s why it’s dormant until they mate. If or when they find the one they belong with, they focus on their partners and not their powers. Only one has left the Ward and might have accessed her powers. We’ve asked Red to come here today.”

“Who names their child Red? Is that like Apple or North?” Bell stopped laughing when Laurent shot her a menacing glare.

“It’s a nickname cause she loves the color red. Her real name’s Simone,” one of the females of the New Orleans pack corrected, rolling her eyes at Bell.

“Someone talking bout me?” A fine, leggy female in a painted-on red dress walked into the small room followed by two equally hot females. Red’s thick mahogany tresses fell around her face in long spirals. She crossed the room to Ty and kissed both his cheeks. The other two women repeated the gesture. “Look like y’all started the party without us. What’s all the commanding my presence about?”

Ty hesitated before answering. “It’s about Charity.”

The short honey-toned female crossed her arms. “What the fuck she do now?”

“Jade, don’t start,” Red chastised before turning back to the Alpha. “What she do, Ty?”

Ty laughed nervously. “It’s bad this time. She done turned herself over to Lucifer.”

“What the fuck, Ty? You’re supposed to keep an eye on her and call us when she gets out of hand,” The female in the wife-beater and ball cap fussed. Even with the boyish clothes, she couldn’t hide her pretty features.

“Look, that girl’s a handful. Dani, you know for yourself. How many times you had to go find her outside of our territory?” Ty aged as the conversation continued. Lines cut deeper in his face from worry and stress.

Damon interrupted to get the conversation back on tract. “Hi, ladies. We were trying to figure out why Charity would be important to Lucifer. Ty seem to think the females in your family has some powers that might attract Luc’s attention, but not sure what kind. Do you have any idea?”

Red scanned the faces in the room with a deliberative expression. She met the gaze of the two females who arrived with her. The one they called Dani nodded in encouragement. “We’ve not spoken of our powers to anyone outside our family. It has brought nothing but unhappiness to the women who have used it.”

Jade spoke up. “But you know that’s why he wants Charity.”  Red released a breath she was holding and plopped into an armchair, covering her face with her hands.

“How bad can it be? It’s a freaking power. We all have them,” Bell interjected.

Red lifted her head, her pretty face lined with worry. “We’re necromancers.”

The room went dead silent.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Follow the link below! And please leave a comment. Vivi would love to hear from you! 

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Want more? Visit Vivi’s website for more from the Dueling the Devil series, including information on how to get your own copies!

Author Bio:

ViviDumasPicAlthough Vivi Dumas grew up an Army brat, she calls Louisiana home, but have endured the hot summers and cold winters of Maryland for the last 16 years. She is a graduate of Mount St. Mary’s University with an MBA in Finance and Marketing. Her analytical side has honed a career in the financial industry for almost twenty years. To balance her logical, numerical day job, she unleashes her creativity in her writing.

Vivi pens multicultural paranormal romance, mixing the two genres she loves. Her steamy paranormal romances indulge in worlds inhabited by demons, werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural beings. She has published works with Decadent Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and Breathless Press.

Website: www.vividumas.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/vivi_dumas

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vividumasfanhub

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Amazon: http://amzn.com/e/B0047LXKHI


MuseTracks Guest – Susanne Matthews – How Can You Do That? – Giveaway

August 16, 2013

MuseTracks welcomes back the prolific, witty, and intelligent (I’d bet she’s blushes about now) Susanne Matthews. She has a new release, a romantic suspense, IN PLAIN SIGHT coming August 12, 2013 from Crimson Romance. To celebrate, she giving away an e-book copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment. Please welcome, Susanne.

How Can You Do That?

I’ve sold five books to date—five books that I’ve written in the past twelve month period, and I have four others on the go. People keep asking “how can you do that?” Frankly, if you’d told me at this time last year that I’d do what I’ve done, I’d have said never! Not in a million years! In the words of James Bond, “Never say never.”

Why should it seem so surprising to me that I’ve managed this incredible feat? The ideas have been in my head for years, and I’m finally getting them down on paper. The truth is I spend between ten and twelve hours a day, six days a week, at the computer working on my craft, and I enjoy every single minute of it. It’s my full-time job, and if the dust bunnies threaten to take over the house, then, maybe I’ll take a day off to clean. Writing consumes me, but I haven’t neglected any of my other responsibilities—dinner might be late, but you’ll still get to eat.

In Plain Sight coverWhen I sit at the computer to start my day, I enter a new world, one where the entire minutia of everyday life no longer exists. It’s a world I’ve created filled with people who are old friends, and whose actions and reactions never cease to amaze me. These people have lives that are as complex as I wish them to be, but in my worlds, good always triumphs over evil, and when I insert that final period, all is well with my world.

So where do the ideas get their start? I’d like to say that all of my ideas are born in my imagination, but the truth is, most of them come out of the everyday world we live in. The news is my first source of inspiration. Since I seem to be settling into the romantic suspense sub-genre, the news is full of interesting crimes. Unsolved arson cases provided the initial idea for my first novel, Fire Angel, and blood feuds and the mob provided the nascent idea for In Plain Sight. An article of psychosomatic illnesses completed the initial theme for that book.

The hardest part of writing each story is making the plot and the characters unique. The reader needs to be transported into a believable story, one where the characters are instantly attracted to one another, but have to surmount personal and external obstacles to get to the happy ending. Research is exhaustive so that the reading experience isn’t contrived. If I want a building to burn in such a way that no one immediately suspects arson, then I have to find a way to make that happen.  I had people ask me if Alexis and Jake, the characters in Fire Angel, would appear in another book. I toyed with the idea, and I’m pleased to say, they have a cameo appearance in In Plain Sight, that is crucial to the unraveling of the plot. Sometimes, you just need an expert to help you along the way.

About In Plain Sight

In life, you pay a price for everything you do. Widowed, her dream of starring on Broadway in ashes at her feet, Misty Starr yearns for a happy, healthy, normal life for herself and her four-year-old daughter, Debbie. Settled in Pine Falls, NY, a sleepy little town filled with friendly people, she believes she’s found it and feels safe enough to sing in an amateur theater revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. She’ll do anything to keep this life even if it is built on lies, because revealing her secret is impossible. When Nick Anthony joins the cast as music director, Misty is attracted to the man who stirs up feelings she thought long dead, but can love grow on a bed of deceit?

A former concert pianist and secret CIA courier, Nick lives in darkness ever since the accident that killed his wife. The doctors say there’s nothing wrong with his vision, so why can’t he see? Hiding from his former life, he reluctantly agrees to help with the musical and is drawn to the young singer with the voice of an angel. When a mysterious fire destroys her home, Nick vows to keep her and her daughter safe. After one suspicious event leads to another, Nick is determined to protect them from an unknown assassin, but in order to do that, he needs to know her secrets. With his money and connections, he’ll do whatever it takes to save the woman he loves, but does she love him enough to reveal the truth?

About the Author

Susanne Matthews

Susanne Matthews grew up as an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. Today, she has made her dreams come true. A retired educator, she now gets to spend her time writing, so she can share her adventures with her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Susanne lives in Cornwall, Ontario with her husband. She has three adult children and five grandchildren. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, chatting on the Internet with her writer friends, and hearing from her readers. You can learn more about Susanne and buy the e-book at http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca

Don’t forget to leave a comment. You could win a digital copy of IN PLAIN SIGHT.


MuseTracks Guest – Malia Mallory – Romance and Spice

July 26, 2013

MuseTracks is happy to welcome returning guest, erotic author, Malia Mallory. Malia has brought us a sexy excerpt and a chance to enter in her giveaways which include books, gift cards and a Kindle Fire.

Help! I Like to Read Romances!

Occasionally, I’ll become involved in a conversation about romance reading. The same questions always seem to arise. Are romances unrealistic? What about the kinky ones? Can I read BDSM without wanting to participate? Are my reading preferences normal?

First, fiction is fiction is fiction. Does it often depict real life? Sure. But most people read for entertainment and sometimes complete realism is not what they are looking for. I don’t think people should be afraid of words. I don’t think people should feel any discomfort about reading romances, even kinky ones.

If a reader likes to read Stephen King, do we make assumptions about their mental state? Not generally. If you read a police procedural, are you looking for ways of getting around the law? Not necessarily.

Romances provide positive feelings, though there can be conflict and heartbreak along the way. They highlight love, finding someone who understands you and building a loving relationship. What could be happier than that?

*****

 

Need_600x900I’m very excited about my new release, His Passion, Her Temptation, which is the fourth book in the Dominating BDSM Billionaires Series. His Need, Her Desire (Book 1) is currently free at most online retailers. His Desire, Her Surrender (Book 2) hit bestseller lists in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Her Wish, His Command (Book 3) released in June.

*****

His Need, Her Desire (Book 1) is currently FREE at most retail outlets.

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | All Romance | Kobo | Bookstrand

*****

His Passion, Her Temptation Blurb

Granger Pharma executive Monica Granger is hiding her relationship from her family. She has to. Her lover is the son of her father’s biggest business rival. Ben Coron is more than Monica can resist; he’s everything she’s ever wanted—including dominant in bed.

But when Coron Health makes a play for Granger Pharma, Monica’s relationship—and her life—blow wide open. She loses her job, and her family rejects her. Someone’s stealing Granger’s vital trade secrets, and worse, Monica’s brother is dodging attempts on his life.

Their passion is too strong to keep Monica and Ben apart for long. They must thwart the takeover and heal the rift between their families. If they don’t, they’ll never trust one another enough to pursue the dominance and submission they both need.

*****

His Passion, Her Temptation Excerpt

“So, do you want to eat now … or later?” Monica’s smile turned seductive.

“Well, I think I might need you first.” His hand reached to touch the silkiness of her hair.

“I agree. Food can wait.” Monica pulled his head down and kissed him, greedy to taste his lips.

Without breaking the kiss, Ben guided her out of the hallway into the living room.

Monica slipped her finger under the edge of his collar. “You know, it doesn’t seem fair that you get to call all the shots.”

“Oh? I call all the shots?” Ben’s hands roamed to her rear and squeezed.

passion_tempt_600x900“Yes … you decide when and how …” Monica licked the edge of his lip.

“One, that isn’t quite true, and two, I haven’t heard you complaining.” He gave her a playful pinch on the ass.

“Oh no, I’m not complaining.” Her hand moved to the front of his pants, cupping him.

“Then what?” His hands slid down to the back of her thighs.

“I thought it might be fun to … try a little something else.” She rubbed him through the fabric of his pants.

“What did you have in mind?” Ben swept his hands up her back and tangled his fingers in her hair.

Monica tilted her head back. “Do you recall that night before I left for Hawaii?”

“I do believe it is burned into my memory.”

“Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be interesting to reverse things.” Monica observed his face for a reaction.

“Reverse things?”

“Oh yes.” Her finger laid a trail down the front of his chest. “You,” she poked him gently, “would do as I say.”

“I see. Are you finding you have a dominant streak?” he teased.

“I’m not sure, but I have a desire to find out.” The thought of taking charge appealed to Monica, not all the time, but perhaps occasionally.

Ben smiled. “That sounds … enticing.”

“I hoped you’d think so.” Monica walked around him, patting his ass with her palm.

“How would you start?”

“I’d tell you to disrobe for my viewing pleasure.” Monica enjoyed looking at the hard planes of Ben’s body, so different from her own curves.

“Shall I?”

“Oh, yes.” Monica crossed the few steps to the seating area and settled herself into an upholstered chair.

Ben approached Monica and then turned his back toward her. He loosened his tie and pulled it free, tossing it over his shoulder in Monica’s direction before unbuttoning his shirt and letting the fabric fall to the floor. He turned slightly and caught her eye. Monica flushed under his wicked gaze.

*****

His Passion, Her Temptation is available for preview and purchase at the following online retailers.

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | All Romance | Kobo | Bookstrand

*****

widget1This month I’m part of the Insatiable Reads Book Tour, where the hottest authors in romance debut their sizzling new reads! We’re touring the web and awarding prizes the whole month of July.

To enter giveaways and meet the other writers, follow us at:

Web Site | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest

*****

IR Giveaway Rafflecoptor Code:

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*****

Malia Mallory Biography

malia malloryMalia Mallory lives in Hawaii with her husband and daughter. She’s been working with words since alphabet blocks rolled into her crib, not only writing her own work but copy editing and proofreading the work of others. She has loved to read about relationships since she first sneaked off with her mother’s Harlequin.

Malia Mallory is the best-selling author of The ABCs of Erotica series, which covers the erotic spectrum from BDSM to ménage and everything in between. More releases in the series are on the way. She has also released the Mia’s Cop Craving series and Santa’s Backdoor Baby. Malia’s books have hit the bestselling erotica lists at both Amazon and iTunes. Her books are available in electronic format at major retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Smashwords and AllRomance Books.

For a free copy of B is for Beach from The ABCs of Erotica, head to her website and sign up for the newsletter.

*****

Connect with Malia Mallory

Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web Page | Goodreads | Pinterest | Newsletter

Don’t forget to leave a comment and help congratulate Malia on her newest release!


MuseTracks Guest – Lauren Boyd – Rejections & Reviews – Giveaway!

July 10, 2013

MuseTracks is happy to welcome contemporary romance author and Southern girl Lauren Boyd. To celebrate her recent release of BAKING LOVE, she’s brought us an excerpt. And one lucky person who leaves a comment could win an e-copy of the book. Sweet!

Rejection and Reviews

By Lauren Boyd

When my writing career began in 2009, I was writing for children, and I was really into writing stories that rhymed. So I wrote some poems for a couple of the well-known children’s magazines and mailed them off. I eagerly awaited their response, and when the envelopes started to trickle in, I just knew there’d be contracts inside. Instead, I opened the envelope to find (very kind) rejection letters. I was stunned. My poems were good, right? Why hadn’t they accepted them for publication?

After a few rejections, I remember crying and wondering if maybe writing wasn’t for me after all. Instead of quitting, I ordered a complimentary copy of the primary magazine I wanted to be published in and combed through it, looking for a feature I might be able to write well since it clearly wasn’t poems (incidentally, they didn’t publish that many poems per issue anyway). I found it: a rebus, which is a short story with a twist and clip art images to accompany the main nouns in the story. I wrote a rebus, mailed it in, and weeks later, received a contract! I was excited beyond belief! I’d found my sweet spot! I submitted another rebus and another and another. Not all of them were accepted, but in the end, four of them were (my editor at the magazine seemed to be saying four was about all they could accept from one author). Was the sting of rejection early on worth it to finally get those four contracts?

Uh, yeah.

Fast forward four years. Now I write for adults. My debut contemporary romance novel, Baking Love, released May 17 from MuseItUp Publishing. Needless to say, it was a writing dream come true!

The first six weeks Baking Love was on the market was an eye-opening experience for me. This was the first time people outside of editors and publishers were commenting on my work. Now it was readers, the people I’d had in mind the whole time I’d written the book. It reminded me of the early part of my writing career: yes, many readers gave it four- and five-star reviews, sending me over the moon…but not everyone did. At first, I was reading reviews on Goodreads daily because it was all so new and exciting. Finally, I realized that reading reviews so often would put me on an emotional roller coaster (as a fellow Muse author so eloquently put it). Now I only click over to Goodreads on occasion and when I feel ready to handle whatever might be waiting there.

So what lessons have I learned that I can share with you?

–          Rejection is part of being a writer. Period.

–          You can’t write for everyone because not everyone will love your book. Determine your target audience and write for them. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear from readers who’ve enjoyed your work, as I have. (Incidentally, that’s one of my favorite parts of being an author. I mean, positive reader feedback totally makes it all worthwhile.)

–          Write because you love to write.

–          Read reviews of your book(s) at your own risk.

As authors and readers, how do you feel about review/rating systems such as the ones on Amazon, BN.com, and Goodreads? Any personal experience on either side of the coin you’d like to share?

Speaking of Baking Love, I’d love to share Chapter One with you! And I’d really love to hear what you think about it!

baking loveBAKING LOVE

Saturday, January 14

Kate Sullivan knelt beside the top tier of the wedding cake as it set on the work table, piping the final initial of a monogram in calligraphy. The small pastry bag barely filled her right hand, which she steadied with her left. She maintained gentle pressure on the bag to keep the white buttercream frosting flowing evenly through the round decorating tip.

There. With the letter now complete, Kate relieved pressure on the bag, then slowly pulled it away from the cake. She stood up and stepped back to observe the completed monogram. Perfect. She laid the pastry bag on the work table and shook her hands to relax them.

Kate’s assistant, Jess Turner, came through the swinging door connecting the kitchen to the front of the bakery. “Your ten o’clock appointment, Cecilia Prescott, is here. She needs to order her wedding cake.”

“Thanks. Would you box up this tier for me?”

“You got it.”

Kate pushed through the swinging door and came out behind the counter, where her gaze landed on two women standing by the bakery entrance. The younger woman’s hair was amassed in a tight bun, and she wore a high-end sweater and skirt set. Bet she’s in her early twenties, like me. The woman next to her was equally well-groomed and well-dressed. Her mother, no doubt.

Kate walked over to the women. “Welcome to Sullivan’s Cakery,” she greeted them.

“Hello,” the younger woman replied. “Are you Kate?”

Interesting, she’s from New York. “Yes, I’m Kate.”

“I’m Cecilia Prescott, and this is my mother Loraine.”

“It’s nice to meet you.”

“Likewise.”

“You’re here to order your wedding cake, correct?”

“Correct.”

Kate smiled. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks.”

Why is this so awkward? “Let’s have a seat and talk.” Kate motioned toward the circular table beside one of the bakery’s front windows.

“Okay.”

Kate followed the women to the table. “Is your fiancé joining us?” she asked, as they all sat down.

“No.”

“In that case, I’ll jump right in.” She opened one of the photo albums on the table and turned it around to face Cecilia and Loraine. “This album has pictures of the wedding cakes we’ve done.”

“I’m not looking for something that’s been done,” Cecilia frowned. “I’m looking for originality.”

“Of course.” Kate opened the notebook that was also lying on the table and picked up the pen next to it. “Tell me what you’d like.”

Cecilia’s furrowed brows relaxed into a more satisfied expression. “I want my wedding cake to be unlike anything anyone’s ever seen. I want white cake, white frosting, and white fondant. I want pale yellow beadwork, lacework, scrollwork, and fondant
flowers. It goes without saying that the decorations should be tasteful and not tacky.”

Yet you said it anyway.

Cecilia pulled a photo from her purse and handed it across the table to Kate. “This will give you a better idea of what I have in mind.”

When Kate laid eyes on the five-tiered wedding cake in the photo, with its intricate piping work and delicate fondant flowers, she knew exactly why Cecilia liked it. “It’s breath-taking.”

“Indeed it is.”

“I’m happy to use this cake for inspiration. I’ll draw up some sketches, and the next time we meet, we’ll see which one you like best. How does that sound?”

“Wonderful,” Loraine spoke for the first time. Cecilia didn’t reply.

Kate noticed her silence. “Don’t worry, Cecilia. Your cake won’t look identical to the one in the photo.” She smiled. “It’ll look better.”

“It’s just…” Cecilia shifted in her chair. “From what I understand, these decorating techniques are quite difficult and challenging.”

Kate’s smile faded. She’s saying she doesn’t think I have the skills and training necessary to make the cake she wants. Kate swallowed her disbelief at this woman’s audacity and forced a calm note to her voice. “You’re right These techniques are difficult and challenging. Fortunately, I mastered them all some time ago.” Thanks to my grandma.

“I see.”

“Could we sample the cake you have in mind for the wedding?” Loraine piped up.

Wonder if Loraine’s aptly-timed interruption was deliberate. “Certainly.” Kate looked across the bakery to see if Jess was available and noticed she had just finished with a customer. “Jess?”

“Yes?”

200271179-001“Would you please bring Cecilia and Ms. Prescott each a slice of our white chocolate cake with buttercream frosting?”

“Of course.”

“Buttercream?” Cecilia echoed. “That doesn’t sound white.”

“I’ll add bright white paste color to the buttercream frosting for your wedding cake,” Kate told her. “That’ll ensure it’s white.”

“Ah.”

“I’ll be honest with you. This cake will take some time.”

“You mean, it’ll be expensive.”

“That, too.” At least Cecilia’s not an idiot.

“We’re getting married June second, which is five months from now. Is that enough time?”

Is she being a smart-ass? “Yes, five months is plenty of time.”

“Cost isn’t an issue,” Loraine’s perfectly-timed voice rang out.

The price of this cake might be the only redeeming factor to working with these people. “Okay.” Kate wrote “June 2” in her notebook. “Where are you getting married?”

“The Wynnfield House, which is in Asheville. It’s a three-and-a-half hour drive from here, in the mountains of North Carolina.”

Thanks for the geography lesson, Cecilia. I’ve only lived in North Carolina my entire life, but thanks.

“I realize the drive could take longer with an eight-tiered wedding cake in tow,” Cecilia continued. “I also realize it will take some time to assemble a cake of that size on site. Therefore, my parents are prepared to pay for your stay at the inn on the premises the weekend of the wedding.”

“That’s very generous. Did you say eight-tiered?”

Cecilia’s gaze shifted to her mother. “Did I neglect to mention that?” she asked.

“I believe so, dear.”

The woman’s gaze returned to Kate. “Forgive me. I know the cake in the photo has five-tiers, but ours is to have eight. In keeping with tradition, the top tier will be for our first wedding anniversary.”

Eight tiers.

“Here we are!” Jess said cheerfully upon arriving at the table. She set a plated slice of cake and a plastic fork in front of each woman. “Enjoy!”

“Thanks,” Kate murmured absent-mindedly as Jess walked away. Eight tiers.

“Oh, wow,” Loraine swooned. “This cake is divine. It’s perfect for the wedding.”

Kate watched Cecilia take a bite. Dare I ask? “What do you think?”

“It’s good,” she said with less enthusiasm than her mother. “I can see why my fiancé is so fond of your bakery.”

“Is that how you heard about us? Through your fiancé?”

“Yes.” Cecilia lowered her fork to her plate. “He insisted on using Sullivan’s Cakery for our wedding cake and groom’s cake.”

Realization slapped Kate in the face. Cecilia isn’t here because she wants to be. She’s here because her fiancé wants her to be. She has absolutely no interest in working with me.

Now I know why this is so awkward.

“He said his family always ordered their cakes from this bakery when he was growing up,” Cecilia added.

“Who is your fiancé?” Kate asked, intrigued. If this guy grew up eating Sullivan’s, then he’s from Hillsboroughwhich means I probably know him.

Cecilia’s phone rang. “Excuse me,” she said. She pulled her phone from her purse and glanced at the screen before answering. “Hi, darling.”

While Cecilia talked, Kate subtly sized up her engagement ring. Princess cut diamond, probably two carats…smaller diamonds set in a platinum band…stunning. A twinge of impatience suddenly struck. When will I meet the man I want to marry—and who wants to marry me?

Cecilia returned her phone to her purse. “We’ve taken up enough of your time.” She stood up, and Kate and Ms. Prescott followed suit.

I’d be lying if I said it’s been a pleasure. “Thanks for coming in.”

“We’ll be back next Saturday at the same time to finalize our order, if that works for you.”

“It does.”

“My fiancé will accompany us to pick out a groom’s cake.”

“Alright. I’ll see you then.”

“See you then.”

Kate watched Cecilia stride confidently toward the front of the bakery. She and her mother pushed through the door, and Kate smiled smugly.

This cake is going to blow you out of the water, bitch.

***

Lauren Boyd writes romance that entertains and provides escape from daily life—and sometimes, you might just learn a thing or two. She likes to bake and decorate cakes, although she’s not very good at it, and she grew up and currently resides in North Carolina, where Baking Love is set. Connect with her at www.laurenboyd.webs.com.

Don’t forget to leave a comment. You might win an digital copy BAKING LOVE!

Congratulations, Tricia, the winner of a e-copy of BAKING LOVE.


MuseTracks Guest – Ju Ephraime – HUGE Giveaway!

June 24, 2013

Pleas join MuseTracks in welcoming Ju Ephraime. Ju has graciously offered to give away 5 copies of her ebooks AND a gift card to Kobo or B&N. Just comment for your chance to win!

Meet Ju Ephraime

If you could work with any author, who would it be. I’d have to say, Lisa Kleypas

Who is your favorite author and is your writing style similar to theirs? Again, Lisa Kleypas, and to a certain extent, heat wise, yes.

What is your favorite part of a book? I like the middle, but I also love the epilogue. By the middle of the book I pretty much if I like the book or not. I don’t judge a book by the first few chapters. I love the epilogue because it ties everything together for me

When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning? No. But I imagine my characters responding to their names in my mind eye. I refer to him/her only by that name.

What is your inspiration or who is? I’m a very new writer, so I have a lot of life experiences to drawn upon. I’m really never at a loss for material, yet.

Do you use real-life facts based on true stories? I use real life and use my over-active imagination and create thing.

Do you use your OWN experiences? Not really, but if I describe a romantic scene, you bet I’ve done it. I won’t write it otherwise.

Did you ever think you would ever become an author? Yes, I knew I would be an author from age eight. It took a long time getting there because of life responsibilities—work, school, family, etc.

How do you conceive your plot ideas? I get a title, then the cover and the rest is history. I visualize the entire thing in my mind-eye before I sit down to write.

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to publish? No. Fortunately, I have yet to experience this.

How long did it take you to publish your first book, after you started trying? Not long. After my first email rejection, I went to my job and they offered to publish my book under their imprint, and the rest is history. I’ve not submitted a manuscript to another publishing house.

Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)? When I was about eight, I ready a mystery novel about a blind man solving crimes by scent; I love it then, and now.

How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)? I read only steamy romance novels, not erotica, but steamy; so I write what I enjoy reading.

What kind of research did you do for this book? I did period research for location and realism of the facts.

What is a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal? No. I write as the mood takes me. If I’m in the grips of a hot scene, I’ll take my laptop with me, even to the hair salon.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? There is no part of writing I don’t enjoy. I even enjoy, to a certain extent, the edits. I like it and yet I hate it, so for me it’s a double edged sword.

What is the best thing about being an author? The best thing for me about being an author is being able to do what I love to do most.

What are you working on now? I’m working on a contemporary romance set in the Caribbean, A Wonderful Piece of Dark Mahogany, which is due out next month, just in time for the summer. This will be immediately followed by a short novella I’m working on as we speak.

What advice would you give aspiring writers? More haste less speed. Take time to hone your craft. To be a successful writer, you must love it because it takes its toll on you. And edit, edit, edit!

Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books? Yes. I love Lisa Kleypas, Christine Feehan, Stephanie Laurens, Karen Hawkins, Gaelen Foley, Elizabeth Lowell, Virginia Henley, to name a few.

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question? What do you believe would make you a successful writer? My answer:  To see one of my novels made into a successful movie.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be? Against All Odds

About the Author:

I can’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t writing. I know I started a long, long, time ago. I began writing short stories for the local radio station in my home  town, which were read on the air at story time. After I had my children, I went back to school to further my education. I have since earned several degrees, including two Masters and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University in Boston. During the course of my schooling, I wrote and published a working curriculum for a career school, as well as, other literary works. A couple years ago, I revisited my first love, writing for fun and enjoyment.

I live in a small town in Connecticut, where the closest thing to a mall is a shopping strip, so nothing exciting happens there. I’m a mother of three. My dog Gus is my favorite companion when I take up pen and paper to write.

Many of my stories are set in the places I’ve visited. The children I encounter during my travels determine the theme of the book.  I love to write stories about talented, inquisitive, and curious children who are thirsty for knowledge.

When I’m not writing my children books, I write romance novels under a pen name. Oftentimes, I take the time to visit the places in which my stories are set, which is the icing on the cake. My second love is traveling, and those times when I can combine writing with traveling, I’m usually in writers’ heaven because I’m doing my two most favorite things…

newcovervioletTHE ODOR OF VIOLET by Ju Ephraime

Blurb: Step into the sightless world of Damien Falconer, as he struggles to come to grips with the BLISTERING attraction he feels for his new personal assistant, Lisa Andrews.

Back Description:   After losing his sight in a terrible accident, only to learn that the woman he was planning to marry did not love him enough to accept him, Damien Falconer was devastated. Struggling to cope with his disability, he isolated himself from society, allowing no one to get close to him, but his personal assistant, Jake. Upon learning Jake was soon to leave his employ and return to Scotland, Damien was forced to advertise for his replacement.

Among the applicants who answered his ad was Lisa Andrews, a registered nurse from Connecticut. But Damien was adamant that he would not be replacing Jake with a woman. His argument was, he did not feel comfortable with a woman doing the things that Jake did for him, but one whiff of Lisa’s unique scent and Damien found himself fighting a blistering physical attraction the likes of which he’d never known before. Should he hire her or should he ignore what his “other” senses were screaming at him, about this woman. Damien rustled with the question for several days, but in the end, he caved. And so began a hunger for a woman he couldn’t see…could only recognize by her unique scent…yet wanted like he’d never wanted anything before.

EXCERPT:

The Odor of Violet

Ms. Andrews walked into the room, and Damien felt the air leave his lungs. He could not see her, but he felt Jake’s reaction also. He was not certain if he was mirroring Jake’s reaction to the candidate or his own overactive imagination. Whatever the reason, he had a physical reaction to whomever it was that walked into his library. She was polite and calm, and he sensed she had a smile on her face because Jake had an answering smile in his voice when he greeted her. Poor Damien, he couldn’t see a thing, but boy, was he aware of her. He could smell the fragrance she was wearing, and it was doing strange things to his body.

There was a hint of jasmine, mixed with a bit of musk, but the overwhelming scent was of violet. He recognized the scent because of the perfusion of violet plants that grew in the garden surrounding his house.

It was his favorite flower. He was never tired of sitting on the porch just inhaling its heady fragrance.

On Ms. Andrews, the fragrance was positively intoxicating. The mixture of violet with her unique scent was overpowering. Damien was almost in pain from the strength of his physical reaction to her. He was uncomfortable in his seat and kept fidgeting and moving to get a more comfortable position. He did not want either Jake or the young woman to notice his discomfort. He desperately wanted to see the woman who was in his library, but he had to be content with just listening to her responses to Jake’s questions.

She sounded a bit flustered because she would begin each response with a slight nervous laugh, and Jake would respond in kind. This exchange between the two infuriated Damien, who wanted to participate in the conversation. He interrupted one of Jake’s questions to her with one of his own.

“Tell me, Ms. Andrews, how long have you been out of school?”

Buy Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Odor-Violet-Ju-Ephraime/dp/0983602972/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371196523&sr=1-1&keywords=ju+ephraime

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-odor-of-violet-ju-ephraime/1113932871?ean=9780983602972

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Odor-of-Violet/book-GgJMUOZgq0iVuqg1vA8FTQ/page1.html?s=9DRwZQCY90K30dEFw_GzmQ&r=2

http://shop.envisionschoolpublishing.com/The-Odor-of-Violet-R0006.htm

Author’s Links:

http://www.juephraime.blogspot.com

http://www.juliaeantoine.com

Don’t forget to comment for your chance to win! Ju is giving away 5 copies of her ebooks (winners’ choice) and a Kobo or B&N gift card.

Ebook winners can choose from:

The Odor of Violet: http://www.amazon.com/Odor-Violet-Ju-Ephraime/dp/0983602972/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371649126&sr=1-1&keywords=ju+ephraime

White Magic Woman (Paranormal romance): http://www.amazon.com/White-Magic-Woman-Ju-Ephraime/dp/098360293X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371649126&sr=1-3&keywords=ju+ephraime

A Wonderful Piece of Dark Mahogany (Coming soon!)


MuseTracks Guest – Kim Cresswell – The Difference Between Mystery and Suspense – Giveaway!

May 31, 2013

MuseTracks is pleased to host award-winning suspense author Kim Cresswell, and she’s brought us an excerpt of her new book REFLECTION.  One commenter will be randomly chosen to receive an eBook copy of Kim’s latest book, REFLECTION. Take it away, Kim!

The Difference Between Mystery and Suspense

KC gunpicAlthough mystery is an element found in almost every genre…what if there weren’t any secrets to uncover or bad guys to catch? Why would you want to turn the pages and continue reading? Romance, romantic suspense, thrillers or many other genres all have some sort of element of mystery.

Mystery novels involve a puzzle–a game of whodunit. A crime usually happens and it’s up to the protagonist to uncover the truth.

In a suspense novel–a threat and imminent danger must be resolved not a puzzle being resolved.

Something is coming. Footsteps. Bad guys. Run! Run! Run!

It’s the ticking bomb concept.

A suspense novel builds then ebbs creating an emotional rollercoaster. The author ensures the ride crashes at the right moment with a big bang.

I love writing and reading romantic suspense, not only does the suspense provide instant tension in a story, I love the push-pull-tug-of-war of romance.

Will the hero and heroine get together? Will they overcome the conflict and live happily ever after?

In my book REFLECTION, my heroine, reporter, Whitney Steel is investigating an alleged human cloning project when she meets up with the hero, FBI Agent, Blake Neely, who is searching for his own answers. Everything from this point on focuses on Blake and Whitney discovering whether or not the villain has produced the world’s first cloned human. Whitney and Blake don’t set out to fall in love. The relationship between the hero and heroine evolves because of the suspense.

So what is the perfect blend of romance and suspense? In my opinion–a kick-ass heroine and a sexy FBI agent, sizzling romance, murder, and lots and lots of mayhem!

Blurb

reflection333x500Florida investigative reporter, Whitney Steel, has lived in the shadow of her legendary father long enough. To prove herself she needs to find the “Big” story.

She found it.

Now it may kill her.

After Whitney receives a lead pointing to the world’s first cloned human, now a small child, she vows to unravel the truth. However, sifting through the facts proves to have dangerous results, including death threats and murder.

When Whitney is nearly killed, but is saved by undercover FBI Special Agent, Blake Neely, he refuses to let her get in the way of his own objective—at least not right away.

Caught in a lethal game between a billionaire obsessed with genetic perfection, his hit man’s thirst for retribution, and a Colombian drug lord fresh out of prison determined to make Blake pay for his twin brother’s death over a decade ago…

Can they save an innocent child before its too late?

Faced with tough choices, with deadly consequences for many—Whitney soon realizes that sometimes a story becomes more than just a story.

Watch the Trailer!

Excerpt

Whitney rummaged through her leather bag, placed her digital voice recorder on the table and gave the record button a firm push. “For the record, Senator Bailey, did you kill Carmen Lacey?”

“No.” He leaned back in the chair and loosened his pinstriped tie. “It’s true. I was the last person to see her alive. But there’s more to this than you think.”

Brown eyes that once set her heart hammering now conveyed a chilling,hollow look. Was it guilt? Desperation?

No. Fear.

Uneasiness slid down her spine. She stopped the recorder. “Mason, you’re scaring me. What the hell is going on? It’s been over three years since we last spoke. Then, out of the blue, you beg me to meet with you today. I know the police don’t believe you killed that woman.”

“But do you, Whitney? Do you believe I killed her? I need to know. It’s important.”

Stunned by the urgency in his voice, she answered carefully. “Of course not. You’re many things, but you’re not a killer.”

“Thank you. That means a lot to me.” He reached for his empty glass and tapped his chunky gold ring against the side.

Whitney turned the recorder on again.

“Carmen was a scientist working for a biotech company in Nevada. ShawBioGen. Heard of it?”

“Who hasn’t? They were one of the first to clone animals in the eighties. Caused quite a stir. But I don’t understand. What does that have to do with Carmen’s death?”

He opened his mouth to answer.

The large window behind them dividing the patio from the main restaurant exploded…

Where to Buy

MuseItUp Publishing | Amazon | AmazonUK | Bookstrand | Smashwords | CoffeeTime Romance | Omnilit ARe | ibookstore | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Available in paperback at Amazon & Createaspace

AboutKim Cresswell newkim2012

Kim Cresswell resides in Ontario, Canada. Trained as a legal assistant, Kim has been a story-teller all her life but took many detours including; working for a private investigator, running a graphic design business, and teaching computer classes at a local business school. After becoming disabled with Fibromyalgia and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, Kim returned to her first love, writing.

She has a few works in progress. Lethal Journey, a “short novel” thriller, will be released this summer. The sequel to her award-winning debut romantic suspense, Reflection, is slated for release later this year. Kim is also contributing two true crime stories for the upcoming True Crime Serial Killers Anthology available for purchase in December.

Web Site:  www.kimcresswell.ca

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/KimCresswellBooks

Twitter:  @kimcresswell

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6898395.Kim_Cresswell

Kim would love to hear from you. Comment and you could win an eBook copy of REFLECTION.

Congratulations to Victoria Zumbrum, winner of Kim’s eBook.