Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Writer As Reader and Other Humbling Experiences

I read Dare To Love by Carly Phillips yesterday. I had received a copy in exchange for a review.  I posted my reviews but I also wanted to talk a bit about the book here. I'll sum it up in one simple word. Wow!  Whenever I read something like Dare To Love (or The Other Soldier by Kathy Altman or The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake or Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas) it humbles me since I'm not anywhere near their levels as a writer yet. But, it also makes me want this even more. I want to work harder and learn everything I can so that someday a reader will say that about my writing. I want to make readers laugh and cry and fall in love.

Maybe that's why I get stuck as I am now in the middle of my current ms. My inner critic says I can't possibly be good enough yet to be mentioned in the same breath as any of the above. But, I refuse to give up. I will keep writing until I am good enough!

Here's my review that I posted on Goodreads and Amazon.

I am a Carly Phillips fan. I love her Serendipity series. And if Dare To Love is a taste of what’s to come in her Dare series, count me in! Yes, Dare To Love may be more “graphic” than the Serendipity ones but in no way is it gratuitous sex. Both Ian and Riley are well-drawn, complex characters that you get to know and love just as they learn about each other and fall in love. The conflicts are true to life and grow out of the characters themselves, making the reader root for these two as they try to work through their differences to a happily ever after.

Ian’s past family drama has turned him into a man who has to be in control of every aspect of his life, including the people in it. After growing up with a controlling and abusive father, Riley refuses to give up control of her life to anyone.

The chemistry between the Ian and Riley is explosive from the moment they meet, but sex alone isn’t enough to sustain a lasting, loving relationship. They must resolve their trust and control issues or risk damaging their fledgling relationship beyond repair.

Once I started Dare To Love, I couldn’t put it down. I became so emotionally invested in these characters I had to see what would happen next. And now I can’t wait for the rest of the Dare siblings to get their own stories!

NaNo Update

Okay, I admit it, I slacked off a bit (okay a lot!!) on NaNo. I have written about 14k but an now stuck in the middle. Writing so fast made me feel like I had lost touch with my characters and their story. So, taking the advice of others to go back to the characters when stuck, I have been using The Positive Trait Thesaurus & The Negative Trait Thesaurus (both by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi) to dig deeper into my characters and strengthen the goal, motivation and conflict aspects.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

More NaNo Updates

I haven't been as productive the past few days. I had a really big break through on the heroine's internal conflict and it's as if my brain says it gave me that now it needs to rest.

Here's yesterday's stats. I'm still hoping to do more today so I'm not posting them just yet.

Tomorrow we leave for vacation so I probably won't get as much accomplished, if anything. Will try to post if I do.

Day 8

Favorite Lines: “Because if you were, then I’d have to add another thing to the list of things you need to know about me. I already told you I always finish what I start, I am thorough in everything I do and…” (Hero)
“And?” (Heroine)
“I always rise to a challenge.”

Total Daily Words: 919

Total NaNo Words: 8,792

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NaNoWriMo Updates

In the Writer's Circle forum, we're posting our NaNo updates and fave lines for the day. So I thought I'd post some in here too.

Day 1 word count: 1,085

Favorite line: He definitely needed to get out of this damn swamp, get away from here before he did something really stupid, like trust Savannah Guidry and her hot pink toes.

Day 2 word count: 1,465

Favorite lines:
He filed that knowledge away for further use. Yeah, he knew that made him a b*st*rd, but he’d been one for the past ten of his thirty-two years so he had it down pat by now

Day 3 word count 1,293

Favorite lines:
(Heroine) “Is that your polite way of telling me I smell like eau de swamp?”
 (Hero) “Whatever gave you the idea I was polite?”

Day 4 word count 1,003

Favorite lines:
“You’ll need to undo your pants to give me better access to the wound.” (Heroine)
“Are you sure that’s all you want access to?” (Hero)
“Your wound is probably infected and that’s what you’re thinking about?”
“Thinking? H*ll, no. The blood left my brain the minute you said undo your pants.”

Day 5 word count: 672 

Favorite lines: Hero’s knife wound is infected and he’s fading fast so heroine is trying to get him in bed before he passes out.
She touched his arm. As she feared, he was burning up. “C’mon, let’s get you in bed.”
He opened one eye. “Does this mean we’re dispensing with the preliminaries?”

Day 6 word count: 1,210

Favorite line: Heroine is nursing the wounded hero who has a raging fever from an infected abdominal wound and she trying to cool him down with cool compresses plus check on the infected wound. This is one of her inner thoughts.

Quit gawking. It’s not as if you’ll need to describe it to a sketch artist or pick it out of a line-up.

Now, I'm off to get today's writing done.

Won Another 1,000 Word Challenge!

Sorry for not keeping up with posting on here but between the mad dash to finish my full for the SYTYCW Contest and then starting NaNoWriMo, I've been busy writing.

But not too busy to enter the most recent challenge. Here's my winning entry. After I finish my NaNo story, tentatively titled Swamp Heat, I am hoping to use these characters for a full length ms. At this point Rescuing Riley will be a straight up romance instead of romantic suspense.

Here's the winning entry:

And let me just preface with an FYI for anyone unfamiliar with the name Niamh it's pronounced Neev. I tried to get her to change it but she refused. 

Rescuing Riley
Word Count: 1, 000

When his cell phone vibrated, Riley Cooper placed the unopened bottle of Jack Daniels next to his sock feet on the coffee table. He grabbed the remote, muting the baseball game. His gaze never left the bottle as he dug into his pocket.

Before hitting ignore, he noticed it was Niamh’s brother Liam. He hesitated, glanced at the bottle of Jack, then pictured Niamh’s coffee brown eyes. “ Lee, what’s up?”

“Hey, Coop, could you meet me at the Westerly Burying Ground as soon a possible?”

Riley leaned back against the sofa and sighed. He had planned on opening that bottle and drinking until he passed out. Maybe then that tight fist that clawed at his chest would relax its grip. Not that he deserved relief. His decisions had caused a man his life and no amount of booze would change cold, hard facts. 

“Coop, buddy, you still there?”

“Yeah, look, if you were expecting a Jeremy Renner ‘whose car we taking’ response, you’re SOL.”

“Niamh needs help.”

Riley straightened and dropped his feet to the floor with a thud. He wouldn’t have thought it possible but the vise around his chest tightened. “Wh-why would she need my help?”

“Might be best not to discuss it over the phone. Can you meet us?” 

Tilting his head to the side, Riley cradled the phone between his ear and shoulder as he shoved his feet into black jump boots. “Give me fifteen minutes.”

Riley let the phone drop onto his lap as tied the laces. His gaze fell longingly on the bottle of Jack, instead he stood up and stuffed the phone into the front pocket of his jeans. 

His breath came out in a hiss. Looked like facing PFC Alex Trejo’s grieving parents wouldn’t be the hardest thing he did today. Ding, ding, ding and the survey says number one answer is seeing Niamh. He turned away from the bottle and scrubbed an unsteady hand over his face and went in search of his keys. 

# # #

“You called Riley Cooper?” Niamh forced the words through clenched teeth as she glared at her brother. The harrowing experience at the bank had been frightening, but the prospect of facing Riley had her almost nostalgic for those gunmen. 

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” 

In as normal a tone as possible, Niamh glanced at her five-year-old daughter and said, “Nothing’s wrong, sweetie. You know how Uncle Liam likes to tease.”

“Likes when he pulls my hair’n calls me Bug?”

Liam reached out and tugged on one of the girl’s blond pigtails. “Hey, Bug, I’m not deaf like your Grampa Mac.” In an exaggerated whisper, he continued, “I can hear every word you’re saying.”

The little girl brought her hand to her mouth and dissolved into a fit of giggles, her blond pigtails bouncing like marionettes.

Over her child’s head, Niamh mouthed a “thanks” to Liam. Leaning closer, she warned him. “But you’re still in deep doo-doo for calling Riley.”

“Who’s Riley?” Fiona looked expectantly from one to the other.

“Nobody, sweetie.”

Liam chuckled. “You say that now but that’s not how you used to feel.”

“Yeah, well I used to be in love with Justin Timberlake too, but I grew up.”

“And took down all those lovely posters.” Liam reached over and yanked none too gently on her ponytail. “I’d believe you, sis, except for the fact you’ve seen all his movies.” 

Before Niamh could punch the annoying clod, Riley’s Ford F-150 pickup pulled up. Blowing her breath out through her mouth, she rubbed her hands down the front of her jeans. Stay calm. You got this. She survived having a gun pointed at her during a bank robbery without falling to pieces. She’d survive seeing Riley again.

Watching him strut across the grass of the historic cemetery, Niamh felt a jolt. Riley was no longer that young man from six years ago. No, this Riley kicked *ss and took down names. As handsome as ever, the Hollywood stubble just added to his new bad boy persona. But it was the way his wide shoulders and muscular chest stretched the fabric of his t-shirt that had her stomach doing somersaults.

Liam stepped forward and shook hands. “Great to see you again, man. I’m glad you made it back in one piece.”

Riley nodded. “Good to be back.”

Niamh shoved her hands into her pockets. She didn’t care if he was a decorated war hero. Starting immediately she was instituting a hands-off policy. Absolutely no touching.

Riley’s gaze locked on hers as he hitched his chin toward her. “Niamh.”

Not trusting her voice, she only nodded in response, digging her fingernails into her palms. Remember he cut out your heart and didn’t look back. Remember crying yourself to sleep…night after night.

Before Niamh could prevent it, Fiona stepped forward, shaking her head as she looked up at Riley. “Mommy, you was wrong. He’s not nobody.”

Riley shot Niamh a curious glance before squatting on his heels until his face was even with Fiona’s. “My name’s Riley. What’s yours?”

“I’m Fee-OH-nah like the princess.” She planted one foot out in front of the other in a deliberate movement. “My mommy bought me new sneakers. They’re pink. My old ones pinched me. These ones have lights. Grampa Mac says I don’t need no lights on my shoes ‘cuz everyone hears me coming.”

Riley was silent for a moment before he said, “Well, Fee-OH-nah like the princess, it’s a pleasure to meet you and your pretty pink sneakers.” He glanced up at Niamh. “She looks just like you.”

Liam snorted. “Yeah, it’s like having to grow up with Niamh all over again.”

Riley straightened up to his full height.

Fiona balanced on her tiptoes, looking up. “Does you know my mommy?” 

He may have been answering Fiona, but his intense gaze was locked on Niamh. “I thought I did.”

The dull ache of foreboding washed over her as her gaze darted from Riley’s captivating gray eyes to Fiona’s identical ones.

The End

Thursday, October 24, 2013

UPDATE!!!! I was on the reserve list and a spot opened up!!

Last week I thought I hadn't made the top 50 in SYTYCW2013. Well, actually I hadn't but I must have been on the reserve list because I'm on it now!

Got the email this week and scurried around finishing and polishing. Wrote my synopsis (YUCK!) and got it all formatted. During formatting, the power went out and took a few years off my life. But I was able to recover everything and finished it up.

I sent it in today! Submissions were due by tomorrow but I was afraid to cut it that close. Good thinking as evidenced by the power outage.

So it's out of my hands now. My critique partners were clamoring for the complete since they hadn't read the to the end so I sent to them also. With a strong caution. Do not tell me about all the glaring errors!!! :)

I'm already having second thoughts wondering what plot threads I dropped, etc.

Oh well, I chose this life so now I have to live with all these doubts and second guesses.

Here's the link again in case you missed it the first time:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Didn't make the final 50

My submission to SYTYCW didn't make the cut. But, I am thankful I entered. It spurred me to finish the manuscript and now I can take my time with the 2nd draft and make this story even better.

Entering the next 1,000 word challenge! I'm working on my entry and having fun with it. I'll post it here at the end of the challenge.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So You Think You Can Write 2013

Harlequin, the world's largest publisher of romances, is sponsoring a writing contest. I took the plunge and entered. It's the first chapter plus the required 100 word pitch.

Here's a link to my chapter.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Dispatched Date won!

My entry, The Dispatched Date,  into the 1,000 word challenge won! Very exciting and fun to wake up on a Sunday morning to such great news.

And I especially loved the kind comments from the 3 judges:

I wanted more after every sentence. Your descriptions and dialogue were exquisite! The starting and stopping with confusion in their conversation felt so real. "I haven't, -hey, it's none of you're business..." I love it!

What can I say. I’m a total sucker for a reunion story and I loved the touches of humour.

I really like your characters , especially your super smart take charge alpha male hero. Nice funny, feisty, and natural dialogue.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Another 1,000 Word Challenge: The Dispatched Date

We had another 1,000 word challenge on the Writer's Circle forum at Harlequin. The premise for this one was a blind date. I had fun with my two characters and squeaked in at 1,000 words. I'll be back to let you know how I did in the challenge. 

“Refill, miss?”
The bartender’s voice drifted to her above the sounds of ice clinking in glasses, muted conversations and soft rock in the background. Charlotte regarded her empty wineglass on the gleaming bar top. She wanted another but she knew how Pinot Noir affected her on an empty stomach, so she shook her head. Not a good idea to be tipsy when her blind date finally arrived. She glanced at her watch again and frowned. Was he standing her up? Wouldn’t that beat all? She’d been dragged into this arrangement kicking and screaming only agreeing after her supposed-best friend pulled out the “you owe me” card.
“Sorry I’m late.”
She knew that deep, rich voice. No! This wasn’t happening, couldn’t be happening. She swiveled in the seat. Oh, but it was. At least the bar stool gave her enough height so she didn’t have to crane her neck to look him in the eyes. Those polished steel gray eyes that melted her heart the first time she’d gazed into them. Those same gray eyes that shredded her heart into a million strips the last time she saw them. Luke Pallas.
“And don’t go blaming Lizzie, she doesn’t know.”
The blood rushing in her ears blocked out all background noise. It was as if they were alone in the lounge area of the upscale restaurant. “How…how…?”
“I assume those flaming daggers aren’t just for me.” He reached over to rest his hand against the bar, effectively blocking a quick exit. “Lizzie’s innocent. The blind date was real. I–” He cleared his throat. “I dispatched him.”
“Dispatched him? For heaven’s sakes, Luke, who talks like that?” She huffed out a breath and shook her head. “And what did you do? Flash your gun and badge at him?”
He didn’t need to respond, the flush of color high on those chiseled cheeks answered for him.
“Wouldn’t the FBI frown on using your official capacity to scare off my dates?”
“If they—dates, as in plural? Exactly how many have you had?” He narrowed his eyes as he studied her.
“I haven’t—hey, it’s none of your business. Did you think after we broke up I spent my nights lying in a fetal position crying my eyes out?”She prayed the miserable truth didn’t show on her face.
“Why not, that’s what I did.”
She made a derisive sound with her tongue and rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right.”
“Got drunk and passed out every night.” He shrugged as his generous lips lifted in a wry smile. “It’s the guy version.”
A passing couple jostled him and he leaned closer. She got a whiff of soap and spicy aftershave. Swallowing hard, she tried to dislodge the lump in her throat. She was so not doing this. She started to rise but he stopped her with his hand on her arm.
“Stay and have dinner with me. I noticed you checking your watch. I figure you must be hungry.”
“You were watching me? Why didn’t you come over sooner?”
“I was waiting for you to finish your wine.”
He grinned lopsidedly. “I didn’t fancy wearing Pinot Noir. This is a new suit.”
“Did you just say fancy?” Laughter bubbled up. Only Luke could make her feel like this. Angry one minute and amused the next. “You can’t tell me the other agents don’t razz you for saying stuff like that.”
“I doubt amusing you is what my father meant when he assured me spending my formative years overseas would be beneficial.”
She knew Luke didn’t readily open up, but he had confided in her about his lonely childhood with his diplomat father. “I’m sorry…that…that was rude and I—”
“Don’t apologize.” His slender, tanned fingers squeezed her arm. “I missed your laugh, Chuck.”
“Don’t call me that
“Why not?”
Because that nickname just tore off another piece of my heart, that’s why. “I don’t like it.”
“That’s not what you said when I was—”
“Don’t you dare!” She yanked her arm away. Her lungs felt as if they’d been pushed up and squeezed into her throat. When she spoke her voice sounded low and husky even to herself. “Our relationship is over. You don’t get to say things like that to me anymore.”
“You decided we were over. I don’t recall participating in that decision.”
“You barely participated in our relationship.”
“And for that I apologize.” His gray eyes darkened like storm clouds. He reached out and flicked the little hoop dangling from her ear, his fingers lingering to caress the sensitive skin on her neck. He cleared his throat before saying, “We men are wretched things.”
She swatted his hand away. “What do you want? You chased away my date. You owe me an explanation.”
“I wanted to tell you that I’ve given up undercover work. You’re looking at the newest member of the FBI’s Art Crime Team.”
“But…you loved undercover.”
“I discovered I loved something—someone—even more.”
“Luke, please, don’t—”
He held up his hands, palms out. “All I’m asking for is dinner. So how about it? You must be desperate if you agreed to a blind date.”
“You know how I feel about blind dates?”
He laughed. “Bushmen in the Kalahari know how you feel about blind dates.”
The deep-throated laugh sent erotic quivers down her spine. “I should say no. That was high-handed of you to dispatch my date.”
“Believe me, he wasn’t for you.”
“And just how do you know that?”
“He was clueless when I informed him you were ‘disinclined to acquiesce to his request’ of a date. C’mon, I couldn’t let you have dinner with someone like that. So, will you have dinner with me instead, Charlotte?”
“Well…where else am I going to find a man who uses ‘fancy’ as a verb, quotes Homer as easily as Pirates of the Caribbean and carries a Glock?”
He wiggled his eyebrows and sent her a smile that had her pulse racing. “And those aren’t even my best talents.”

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A flash

On the Writer's Circle forum I hang around at, we did a "flash" this weekend. A flash is where we post 100 words (more or less) from our current WIP based on whatever theme is chosen. This weekend's theme is "After Effects". It can be after a first date, first kiss, first lovemaking, etc. As long as the flash is PG-13.

I picked mine after Devlin & Haley's first kiss. I'm not sure if I'm keeping the song I chose since lyrics & tone don't really match. I chose it at the time based on title only. One of the alternate songs is Springsteen's I'm On Fire but lyrics don't quite convey the feeling either. I could go with Jace Everett's I Wanna Do Bad Things With You. :)

Here's the Flash. I hope you like it.

Although neither one mentioned the kiss, everything between them had shifted and changed. The air between them sizzled and crackled like a Tesla coil. She became aware of every breath he took, every look he sent her way, every time his arm brushed against hers. Carly Simon’s Anticipation played on a continuous loop in her head until she wanted to jump out of her skin. They might walk and talk as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, but she knew they were just biding their time, treading water. Unlike last night, tonight’s activities would not be as innocent as watching movies and eating popcorn.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My New Challenge

I think I'm finished with my latest challenge. I guess I have to be since I hit the 1000 word mark. Can't add unless I subtract. I normally don't change point of view during a scene but I wanted a better sense of Ellie in the 1000 word constraint. Now that I know Ellie better maybe I'll see if I can rewrite it using just one POV.

The premise for the new challenge is to have someone make a wish upon a star. It can be a child or adult, hero, heroine or anyone else.

I enjoyed creating Ellie and Sebastian and hope to someday complete their story and give them their happily ever after. I think their story will be more of a romantic adventure than a true romantic suspense. I guess I was channeling Bruce Willis in Tears of the Sun when I wrote this even though the Sebastian in my head doesn't resemble Willis.

Wishful Thinking
Word Count: 1000

Sebastian stepped through the doorway into the small chapel. Ellie stood in front of the altar, her back to him, the flickering light from the payer candles highlighted her flyaway blond curls. He drank in the sight of her as he approached, then dug deep into the well of anger he carried. He needed it to combat emotions he refused to identify. “I thought I made it clear you were to be on that flight.”
She squared her shoulders then turned to face him. She hitched up her chin, but her gaze didn’t meet his, instead it landed on his chest. For a second he wondered if she could see his roiling emotions. They had been lodged like a stone in his chest since yesterday, making breathing difficult. He shook his head to clear it of such foolish notions. She did this to him, made him feel things he’d thought long dead. Last night he caught himself watching a falling star as it streaked across the inky darkness. At least he came to his senses before making a childish wish. Idiota.
“I don’t take orders from you, Captain, and the State Department’s advisory was just that. An advisement not an order.” She hugged her arms across her chest, raised her head to meet his gaze, her blue eyes brimming with defiance.
He put his hands on his hips to keep himself from reaching for her, torn between wanting to hold her close and itching to throttle her. “And what do Father Joseph and the good Sisters think about this foolishness?”
“They don’t know,” he finished for her and swore under his breath. He wanted to shake some sense into her. Wanted to shout at her, tell her that like that falling star, she’d been a brief light in his dark world and the thought of her light being snuffed shredded his gut. Instead he clung to his anger. “Once the fighting starts the church can’t protect you. You’re not a nun so there’s no superstition or taboo surrounding you. You could be killed…or worse.”
“What’s worse than being killed?”
He stepped closer, invading her personal space. “I’m not sure what magical world you live in, but here in the real world there’s a lot of things worse than death. Do you want me to spell it out for you? Paint you a picture?”
He watched her throat muscles work as she swallowed. “That won’t be necessary.”
Pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger, he sighed. “Maybe I can get a helicopter... get you to….”
“But what about the children?”
Was he not speaking English? “What about the children?”
“How can you be so cruel?” She curled her hands into fists.
He towered over her wishing she’d use those fists, give him a reason to touch her. Bad idea. Searching for calm, he inhaled deeply. But that was a really bad idea. Dios, even in the sweltering heat of the jungle, she smelled like citrus and sunshine. Damn he needed to get his head out of the clouds. “I’m a realist, Miss Whitney. Did you really think you could come down here like some starry-eyed do-gooder and save this country from itself? Or maybe you thought you could waive your magic wand and make everything all better? Are you naive or just plain stupid?”
“I can’t abandon the children. I won’t. Maybe you could—”
“I won’t waste my men on a fool’s errand.” But he was already calculating how many men he could spare to defend the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage. Would he even be considering it if Ellie Whitney had left on that flight, if he had succeeded in getting her out of harm’s way? He shoved that thought aside. There’d be time enough later for self-recrimination. If he lived that long.
# # #
Ellie blinked back tears. Whitneys didn’t cry. Weeping never solved anything, Missy. Her grandfather’s voice rang in her ear, when, as a child, she had cried for her parents. She had thought Grandfather Whitney was a hard man, but he could take lessons from Sebastian Navarro.
“Sir?” A young man dressed in combat fatigues poked his head into the doorway. “The transport is ready.”
Sebastian nodded and waved the boy away. “God help you, Miss Whitney, because I certainly can’t.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Does it matter?”
“But…if the freedom fighters win then—”
“Then we’ll be trading one despot for another. Neither one is going to change the lives of these orphans. Surely you’ve been here long enough to realize that.”
She flinched as if he had physically struck her. She had realized that but was wanting to make a difference so terrible? She had wanted to change the lives of these children. Her need to matter to someone, or to something had brought her to this place. And it brought her to Sebastian Navarro. She didn’t regret that.
He muttered something in Spanish about irrational women, turned on his heel and strode toward the arched doorway.
Ellie watched him retreat, his broad shoulders stiff and straight. He had mastered the art of pushing people away, playing the consummate hard-ass. But she remembered how he had made sure the orphanage received food and medical supplies even when there was no money left to pay the bribes to get those supplies here safely. And she recalled the day he brought a soccer ball to the boys and helped them set up makeshift goals. Watching him play soccer with the boys, she saw not the hardened soldier but a man who smiled and laughed. And her heart ached for him, wondering what he would have been like under different circumstances.
Her chest tightened when she thought about a world—her world—without Sebastian Navarro. Recalling the wish she’d made on last night’s falling star, she blinked hard and cleared her throat. “Captain?”
He stopped at the sound of her voice but didn’t turn around.
“Sebastian… please…take care…the world needs realists, too.”

Writer and Reader

I'm pretty sure all writers are also book lovers. I never leave home without a book or e-reader tucked into my purse. You never know when you might have to wait in line for something. Of course having that book with me is like insurance against having to wait.

At the moment I am reading Her Road Home by Laura Drake. It's an august Harlequin Superromance and it's available now. I am about halfway through it and loving it! This is Laura's second published book. Her first, The Sweet Spot, is also available and it blew me away! It came out in May and was an RT Reveiws recommended Top Pick. Not bad for a debut book. Laura is also a contributor to the awesome Writers In the Storm blog. Wonderful tips and advice for aspiring and published authors. 

Another Superromance out this month is Staying At Joe's by Kathy Altman. This is also Kathy's second published book. Her first, The Other Soldier, also a Superromance, was nominated as a Best First Book by RT Reviews. I highly recommend both books. And don't let the cover of Staying At Joe's fool you, this is not a fluff piece but a deeply moving story about flawed people whose road to happily ever after has roadblocks and detours.

I'm looking forward to more amazing books from both these authors.

Another first book I'm looking forward to is Man Of My Dreams by Faith Andrews. It's not out yet, but since I have an "in" with the author (she's a critique partner-hey, waving at Faith) I have had the pleasure of reading it. I'll be sure to let everyone know as soon as MOMD is available.

I'm still putting the finishing touches on another one of my writing challenges and will post it here when it's ready. I also have a couple of older ones I can dust off and post. I belong to a wonderful local writing group and each month we do writing prompts of approximately 500 words. Although somehow i also manage to go over a wee bit. We've decided to stretch and flex our writing muscles so we're choosing different genres for our prompts. For August we have to write a historical using the prompt. I did but as usual it turned into more a historical romantic suspense. 

Thanks for stopping by! And I'll post my challenge soon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Writer's Challenge Winning Entry

As promised here's my winning entry for the Challenge at the Writer's Circle. Not crazy over the title but I only had a few days to think of something to slap on there. And I think of Jack as a devil. I hope to someday turn these two into a full length romantic suspense. Piece of cake since the first 1,000 words are done that leaves only at least another 70,000 to go. Ok, the final count was 978 but, hey, who's counting? Oh, the challenge was to have a "wet male chest".

Devil's Bargain
Word Count: 978

Maggie Reilly’s fist curled around the thumb drive. A triumphant smile stretched across her face. What was that phrase about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat? The information contained on this little device represented vindication.

Behind her the noise escalated First the obnoxious scrape and ping of metal, then the harsh hiss of the fire extinguisher. She kept her eyes focused straight ahead as she strode down the darkened hallway. The kitchen staff had discovered the small fire she started as a diversion. Milo, the sous-chef, barked orders as everyone scrambled to douse the blaze.

When the building’s sprinkler system kicked on, the chaos and clatter increased. Maggie narrowly avoided getting wet as she shoved the rear door open. Exiting the building onto the alley, she paused to pull on her wool coat as her vision adjusted to the midday sun. She turned left, tossed the pink bow tie and black vest into an over-flowing dumpster, spared one quick glance over her shoulder and hurried toward the anonymity of the busy street. Foot traffic along the sidewalk would be heavy with the noontime crowd. She could blend right in.

As she neared the busy street, Maggie buttoned up her coat against the March chill. Almost there, a dozen more steps. Snatches of conversation drifted to her from office workers on their lunch break. 

A hand clamped down on her shoulder, stopping her dead in her tracks. Her heart stuttered to a momentary stop, then galloped ahead at warp speed.

The hand spun her around as effortlessly as a lazy susan. The thoroughly soaked but no less impressive male chest blocked the bright sun. The white cotton that must have been pristine minutes ago clung to his chest, emphasizing the banded muscles underneath. 

Maggie had no need to look into his face. She knew that under the expensive, water-logged fabric a light spray of dark hair covered the rock hard chest, knew an apostrophe shaped scar above his left nipple marred the perfection.

“You’re in an awful hurry. Where’s the fire?” Even the soft Irish lilt couldn’t mask his sardonic tone.

While her heart continued its drum solo in her too-tight chest, she gave in to the inevitable and lifted her head. Her gaze collided with eyes as blue and deep as the waters of Killary Harbor.

“Your reputation isn’t an exaggeration,” she observed, grateful her voice didn’t betray the conflicting emotions tumbling through her. She reminded herself she and Jack were through. Finished. Put a period on it.

Jack’s blue eyes sparkled with amusement. “I assume you’re referring to my ability to blend in with my surroundings. Which, of course, would explain how I escaped even your keen detection skills.”

She rolled her shoulder to shake off his hand, but couldn’t budge it. “Actually, I was referring to your reputation as an unprincipled son of a—” 

“Tut, tut, keep that up and Father Francis will have you saying Hail Marys…on your knees.”

She cursed the tell-tale heat rising in her cheeks. “I hope you don’t think you fooled anyone with that pathetic disguise.”

He sneezed, sending water droplets flying off his thick, black hair. “Actually it was quite successful, but then not everyone knows me as well as you do, Mary Margaret.” 

Maggie opened her mouth for the automatic correction, but the words died on her lips. How did he manage to make her old-fashioned, parochial name sound so sexy? She grit her teeth. “What do you want?”

“Aww, luv, you know what I want. You have something that belongs to my employer and I’m going to need it back.” Strands of wet hair stuck to his forehead.

He shivered and she buried the automatic flare of concern. Good, maybe he’d catch pneumonia. He sneezed again.

“What you need is to get out of those wet clothes.” What happened to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat?

In a flash, he let go of her and ripped open the wet shirt, sending buttons ricocheting every which way. When he tugged it down his arms, gold cufflinks clinked and skittered across the pavement. 

He toed off his shoes, unbuckled his belt and hesitated. “I may need your assistance with these pants.”

Her gaze followed a fat droplet of water as it traveled down his chest until it disappeared under his waistband. Her throat went dry. Unable to swallow, she croaked, “In your dreams.”

“Oh? You know about those?” Never lifting his gaze from her, he pulled his pants down, tossed them aside. Standing in nothing but black boxer briefs plastered to his sinewy body, he leaned toward her and lowered his voice. “Don’t tell me you have those dreams too. Care to share? I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

Don’t look below the waist. Don’t look below—Aw, geez, you looked. Obviously the cold hadn’t affected him.

When she lifted her gaze, he had the audacity to wink. Her hand tightened around the thumb drive. He might treat this like a game, but she didn’t have that luxury. But then, Jack treated everything like a game, even when his own life was on the line.

She refused to be deterred from her goal by traitorous, unwelcome emotions. Careful, or you’ll be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

“Not interested in sharing?” He reached out and traced a finger down her cheek as he whispered, “Grá mo chroí.

The endearment washed over her, daring her to trust him, take a chance and —No! She cut those thoughts off before they could blossom and grow. Her battered heart wouldn’t survive another betrayal. “You’re a real swine, you know that?”

“Ouch.” He clutched his chest. “You wound me, Mary Margaret.”

She ground her back teeth and plastered a smile on her face. “Oh, when I wound you, Jack Reilly, I guarantee it won’t be with words.”

Welcome to my aspiring writer blog!

For years I've been a fan of romances and I've loved writing and creating stories. Lately I have been combining the two. I am currently at work on a romantic suspense. Whenever I enter into contests, I use the title, Heroes and Heartache, but when I'm writing or working with my critique buds (Hi Ruthie, Faith, Audrey, Susan, Olga, Heather, Angeline and Stephanie!!) I refer to the work in progress (or WIP) simply as Devlin & Haley. As you may have already guessed, Devlin in my hero and Haley my heroine.

I also love doing writing challenges and prompts. I recently joined the Writer's Circle at and entered my very first Writer's Challenge and won! I will come back in a little bit and post my winning entry. The Writer's Challenges are a maximum of 1000 words. As a winner I get to conduct and judge the next challenge. Although I can't participate since I'm judging, I couldn't resist writing one and am currently hard at work on that. Why am I hard at work writing something that can't win? Because I love doing it and I am currently procrastinating getting back to work on the current WIP.

Thanks for stopping by. I am sure in the upcoming weeks, I will be sprucing the place up and making it more my own.