Tag Archive | books

Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Longing – First Look

I’m so excited today to bring you the first look at my next novel in the Hot on the Trail series, Trail of Longing! It’s coming on January 5th, so without further ado….

[No Cover Yet – Cover Reveal Coming Soon!]

Emma pulled her focus away from Dean to see that they’d come to walk alongside her family’s wagon. Her father led the oxen from the ground, walking beside them as though they were white stallions instead of plodding beasts. Alice had gone to the back of the wagon to join their mother, who whispered furiously. Her eyes never left Dean.

“I’ll leave you ladies to take shelter in your wagon,” Dean said, letting go of Emma’s arm. “I’d better check on the miners anyhow.”

“Thank you so much, Dr. Meyers,” Mrs. Sutton skipped forward to make her goodbyes. “I haven’t met a truer gentleman in this entire wagon train. I do hope we’ll be seeing more of you.”

Emma’s heart caught in her throat at her mother’s audacity. Her embarrassment was only relieved a tad by Dean’s smile.

“I’m sure we’ll see much more of each other.” He nodded to Mrs. Sutton and Alice, then turned his smile to Emma. “Until next time, Miss Emma.”

“I….” Anything Emma could have said froze on her tongue. She pressed her lips into a tight smile and nodded.

As Dean turned to go, frustration poured in on her. When she was certain he was out of earshot, she huffed out a breath and hid her face in her hands. What was she thinking? How could it be so difficult to talk to such an agreeable man?

“Very well done,” her mother congratulated her. She scurried to Emma’s side as they walked on, raindrops beating down harder now. “You have him good and hooked.”

“Mother,” Emma sighed. “I don’t want to ‘hook’ anyone. Dean— I mean, Dr. Meyers, is a good, noble man.”

“Exactly.” Her mother smiled as if the sun had come out. “He’ll make a perfect husband for you.”

“Shh!” Emma would have slapped her hand over her mother’s mouth if she could. “Please!”

“Oh come now,” her mother scolded, waving Emma’s protests aside as if they were fluff. “You and I both know the importance of nabbing a good husband.”

“Husbands should not be ‘nabbed.’”

“All men need to be nabbed, dear,” her mother argued. “Otherwise they would wander the earth not knowing which way was up or what was good for them.”

Emma scoffed and crossed her arms to ward off the chill that the rain was bringing her.

Her mother turned serious, sliding closer to her. “I know you think I’m laying it on too thick, but we’ve both seen what happens when a girl makes an inappropriate match.”

They both glanced to the back of the wagon where Alice had hoisted herself into the bed and was busy rolling down the canvas coverings. Emma’s heart squeezed with sadness for her sister.

“Alice loved Harry,” she murmured to her mother so Alice wouldn’t hear.

“That is precisely the problem,” her mother replied.

Emma frowned, confused. “Harry was a good man.”

“He was a clerk and we never should have agreed to the match.” Before Emma could protest, her mother went on. “Dr. Meyers, on the other hand, is just the sort of man I have always wished to see you with. Now that he’s hooked, I know just how to reel him in.”

Dread filled Emma’s stomach. She knew what her mother was capable of. Her journey west had just taken a perilous turn.

 

Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t put this one up for pre-order. But never fear! If you visit my Amazon author page and click on “Add Favorite” right under my fabulous author pic, then I believe Amazon will email you as soon as any of my books come out. Wanna give it a try? Click right here.
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Trail of Kisses – Release Day!

Woo hoo! It’s release day! It’s finally here! Trail of Kisses is now officially on sale wherever eBooks are sold (okay, well, almost)

TrailofKisses

Here are the links:

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/TrailofKissesAmazon
iBooks: http://smarturl.it/TrailofKissesiBooks
Smashwords:http://smarturl.it/TrailofKissesSW
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/trail-of-kisses-3
Barnes & Noble: (coming)

And to whet your appetite, here’s a chunk to get you started…

Chapter One

Independence, Missouri – 1863

The first glimpse Lynne Tremaine had of the mass of wagons that would take her west was enough to sink her heart. As far as she could see, big, bulky “prairie schooners” with covered beds, driven by teams of dull-eyed oxen cluttered the starting-off point at the end of town. The oxen lowed, anxious to get moving. Hawkers shouted about their wares in a last-minute attempt to sell supplies to plainly dressed pioneers. Wagons creaked as they inched toward the line their trail boss was trying to make to impose order. Horses clopped and children shrieked as they vented their excitement. The smell of animals and dirt was everywhere. It was almost more than Lynne could bear.

“Please, Papa.” She clutched her father’s arm as he escorted her through the chaos. A pair of children being chased by a dog cut in front of them. “Please don’t make me go. I want to stay with you, my papa.”

Judge Thomas Tremaine, tall, distinguished, and out of place in the bustle of pioneers, patted his daughter’s hand, eyes sad and shoulders stooped. “Now, Lynne, we’ve discussed this. It’s safer for you to accept your Uncle George and Aunt Marion’s invitation to move to Denver City.”

“We did not discuss this and it isn’t safer,” Lynne argued. She was too old to pout, but her heart broke at the thought of leaving her family, her home. “We don’t know who any of these people are. How is it safer to send me off to the middle of nowhere with a mob of strangers?”

Judge Tremaine stopped and turned to her, leaning closer. “My dear heart, threats have been made against us, against you, of a serious nature. The Briscoe Boys are not some mischievous ruffians out to pull pranks. They are a vicious, organized gang. They’ve killed men, they’ve burned farms, they’ve….” He shook his head, as if the rest was too horrible to speak aloud. “Sentencing two of them to death this winter was just and right,” he went on, “but if I had known they would see justice as a call to threaten my family, to threaten you? Well, I would have still passed the sentence, but I would have made sure you were protected from threats before the verdict instead of after. Violet and Marie write that they’re settling quite nicely in Lexington with your Aunt Philomena. It’s time you sought your own safety as well.”

“And leave you alone?” Lynne protested.

“I would rather be alone for a time than continue to see you lock yourself in the house, only going out under guard, like a prisoner. If accusers become prisoners in their own homes for fear of reprisal from gangs, then nothing I do as a judge means anything.”

“I can take care of myself, Papa,” Lynne argued. “I always could. When we moved to St. Louis, when Mama died, when the war broke out. I’ve always been able to take care of myself, and I could take care of you too.”

Her father smiled, pride beaming from him. “Yes, I don’t doubt it. My brave girl.”

Lynne’s heart swelled, in spite of the fact that he was still calling her a girl when she was twenty-two. She loved him so.

“The Briscoe Boys won’t come anywhere near me, you’ll see,” she said.

Her father sighed and took her arm, starting forward through the rows of wagons once more. “If only it were that easy. When explicit threats are made to slit the throats of all my children, I can’t pretend the threat means nothing. George and Marion have established themselves well in Denver City. They own a mining company and have done quite well for themselves. You’ll be happy there.”

They dodged around a group of running, laughing children and past a wagon full of rough, wiry men, who watched them with curiosity.

“How can you say that, Papa? I’ll be hundreds of miles away from you, from Robert and Graham, from Violet and Marie,” Lynne said.

“Robert and Graham are off fighting for the Union,” her father said and shook his head. “Violet and Marie are happy where they are. They are prolific writers, and with the speed of the mail these days, it should only take a few weeks for you to get their letters.”

“We would all be better off together, as a family,” Lynne insisted. “If I have to go, then we should all go as one.”

“If only we could,” her father said. “Now, here we are.”

They stopped in front of a wagon that looked like every other wagon in the sea of eager pioneers spreading out around them. It was long and sturdy, with large, metal-rimmed wheels and a thick canvas cover over tall loops. Through the opening in the back, Lynne could see the trunks she’d been forced to pack in the last week. All of her clothes that could fit were folded into a large black trunk, while anything else she had wanted to take, from books to linens to sewing supplies, were crammed into a wooden hope chest. The wagon was stuffed with other boxes as well, crates and barrels of supplies for the journey and a few boxes that her father was sending to Uncle George. The sight of it all made Lynne’s shoulders sag in defeat.

“Do I have to go as part of a wagon train, Papa?” She tried one last defense. “Why not send me to Denver City on a stagecoach? It’s much faster.”

Her father smiled. “My dearest, if you think a wagon train is cramped and uncomfortable, then you wouldn’t want anything to do with a stagecoach.”

Lynne crossed her arms and turned her sad frown from him to the back of her wagon, reluctant to admit that he was right.

“Besides,” he went on, “I’ve heard far too many tales of stagecoaches being robbed by highwaymen or attacked by Indians since the war started. Too many of the soldiers that used to man way stations along the trail have been called back East to join the war. There is safety in numbers, and so you will go to your uncle and aunt this way.”

“But, Papa—”

“No, my dearest, no more arguments. It has been decided.”

Lynne let out a breath, dropping her arms to ball her fists at her sides. She was not used to losing arguments, particularly when the stakes were so high.

“Now, let me introduce you to the men who will be watching out for you on the journey,” her father said.

Lynne’s brow flew up at the unexpected comment. “Men? Watching out for me?”

“Yes.”

Her father led her to the front of the wagon. A boy who couldn’t have been older than fifteen sat on the wagon’s seat, whip already in hand. He had dirty brown hair and the barest hint of scruff on his chin and upper lip. He took one look at Lynne and fumbled to stand in the wagon, scraping his shin on the buckboard. A broad grin spread from ear to ear across his blushing face. He had freckles peppering his cheeks under the scruffy growth.

“This is Benjamin,” her father explained. “He’ll be your driver. He came highly recommended by the man who sold the wagon to me.”

“How do you do, Benjamin?” Lynne held up a hand to him with a polite smile.

Benjamin blushed brighter and took her hand, pumping it up and down. “Right well, ma’am.”

Lynne was charmed in spite of herself. She just hoped the boy knew which end of the oxen should point forward.

“And this is Cade Lawson,” her father went on. “Your uncle hired him to be your escort.”

“My escort?”

Lynne turned to see another man striding toward her, leading two horses. One was her own mount, Clover. Cade Lawson was a sight to behold. Tall, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist, he walked as if he owned the wagon train. Sunlight caught golden highlights in his hair and teased tiny lines around his blue eyes. He smiled with a confidence that bordered on arrogance. It was the kind of smile that could send a girl’s heart fluttering. It was also the kind of smile that screamed trouble. Lynne felt her cheeks warm in spite of the wariness that too-charming smile brought her.

“Mr. Lawson, I’d like to introduce you to my daughter, Miss Lynne Tremaine.” Her father took a half step back to present her with a proud smile.

“Miss Tremaine.” Cade nodded, eyes flashing. He didn’t extend his hand to her. It was as rude of him as it was challenging.

“Mr. Lawson,” she replied, accepting the challenge. She folded her hands demurely in front of her. If he wasn’t going to be a gentleman, then she wasn’t going to go out of her way to teach him manners. She turned to her father. “What do you mean, Uncle George has hired him to be my escort?”

“I mean just that,” her father replied. “Mr. Lawson has been charged with accompanying you on your journey and seeing you safely to Denver City.”

Lynne took another look at Mr. Lawson. He was solid and strong, like trouble in reasonably well-kept clothes. He’d been sent to mind her, like a nanny minds a child. It didn’t matter how tempting he was, Lynne bristled.

“Thank you, Mr. Lawson,” she said, tilting her head up, “but I won’t be needing an escort to Denver City. I am brave enough to make the journey on my own.”

Mr. Lawson lost his smile. “Excuse me?”

“Now Lynne.” Her father hooked his thumbs into his vest pockets. “This matter isn’t up for discussion. It is far too dangerous for a woman to travel in a wagon train alone. Far too dangerous and far too scandalous.”

“Is it any less scandalous for me to be traveling in the company of a man I don’t know?” she asked. “There’s the scandal, if you ask me.”

Her father frowned. “I have informed the trail boss, Mr. Evans, of the purpose of Mr. Lawson’s presence. He has assured me that he will make certain no untoward rumors are circulated amongst your fellow travelers.”

“Has he?”

“Yes, my dear. So long as you behave yourself.”

Lynne crossed her arms, glancing from her father to Mr. Lawson. She was outnumbered. She was being trundled off to relatives like a helpless child, and how it stung. All she could do was swallow her sadness and harden her heart enough to bear it. “I see.”

“I’m glad you do,” her father replied.

He was teasing. She wasn’t in the mood to be teased. What had started out as a bad idea on her father’s part was already on the verge of becoming a catastrophe, as far as she was concerned.

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A Pioneer Hearts Exclusive!

It’s Friday, and usually I post something about writing on Fridays, but today I’m super privileged to be a part of this absolutely wonderful group of writers who are bringing you a deal and a steal!

I’m so happy to announce the first ever Pioneer Hearts 99c Western Romance Event!

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This sale includes dozens of books for your Kindle, and a selection for your Nook or iBooks libraries, as well. And you know what else is fun? You can win some pretty snazzy prizes! Yes, that’s right, PRIZES!

Take this opportunity to discover your new favorite author….

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Want to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards? Share our sale and follow our authors! You could also win signed books, a beautiful turquoise pendant necklace (voted a favorite by the Pioneer Hearts Readers Group!), and more! See Rafflecopter here and win!

See Nook links here

See iBooks links here

What Just Happened?

© savoia | istockphoto.com

© savoia | istockphoto.com

Okay, not gonna lie. Something weird happened with book sales this past summer. I had, without a doubt, the worst three months of my entire book-selling life this summer. And I know, I know, I haven’t had any substantial new releases since April, which could have something to do with it. The thing is, it’s not just me. I’ve heard just about ALL of my writer friends say that their sales dropped severely over this past summer. Like, to panic-inducing levels for some people.

And just recently I started hearing all about what’s going on with Ellora’s Cave being in big trouble. For those who just went “Huh?”, Ellora’s Cave is one of the publishing industry pioneers in erotic romance. They are in serious crisis mode right now, though, with executives resigning and problems brewing all around. Part of this was inexplicably low Amazon sales this summer. Now, part of that is due to the change in how Amazon is listing erotica and how they’ve changed the “parental controls”, for lack of a better word, that makes erotica searchable. (This is a huge sore spot for a lot of people, btw, and I don’t feel qualified to get into a discussion about the ethical implications, but that’s worth considering too) The bottom line is that books sales have taken a hit.

I know a lot of authors who are blaming Kindle Unlimited. That could be one answer. Amazon inaugurated its Kindle Unlimited program at the end of July. The program is basically Netflix for books. You buy a subscription, and then you can download an unlimited amount of books. For authors, only books that are part of the KDP Select program are eligible for this service. Some of my author friends who ARE in Select have been saying that they’ve seen their sales and borrows go way, way up in the last month. Some author friends who are NOT in Select say they have seen a big drop-off in sales. But I also have a lot of author friends who have not seen a significant change one way or another in the sales of their Select and Non-Select books.

So is Kindle Unlimited to blame for the pathetic sales across the board this summer? One theory on that front is that KU may be seeing an upswing in activity because the first month has been offered for free on a trial basis. This is just what I’ve heard, btw. I haven’t looked into it or signed up for anything myself. The theory is that we’re seeing the novelty surge at the beginning and that that will drop off soon. I also heard somewhere that sign-ups for KU weren’t what Amazon had hoped they would be. I know a lot of people who think that KU isn’t a factor in the weirdness of this summer too.

The other thing to note, for me, at least, is that my sales started tanking a month BEFORE Kindle Unlimited started. So for me, it wasn’t a matter of KU killing my sales.

Okay, so what could it be, then, if not KU?

Maybe it’s the ongoing battle royale between Amazon and Hachette and all of the authors getting involved? I don’t really think that’s it at all. Frankly, I think that most readers have no clue what’s going on there and don’t really care.

Maybe it was the weather? You have to admit, this was one freakin’ awesome summer, as far as weather goes. A good portion of the country experienced balmy, pleasant weather. Great for going outside to play. I mean, you can stay outside without being fried and you don’t have to hide out indoors in the AC reading to stay cool. But to me that doesn’t make sense on one level, because I always read MORE books in the summer, not less. So back in July, when I first began to have trouble, I did an informal poll of a lot of friends who read, asking them if they read in the summer. The long and short of that was that, yes, people do read a lot in the summer, but a lot of the people I talked to were reading all the books they bought before and hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.

I'm not a fan of blaming Amazon for everything...which seems to be really popular these days.

I’m not a fan of blaming Amazon for everything…which seems to be really popular these days.

Hmm. Could that be it? Was everyone reading their back-stock? Clearing out all those Kindle books they had purchased through the spring but hadn’t had time to read yet?

I really want to know, but I also recognize that I’m missing a few key pieces of information. In fact, I think all of us who are scrambling to try to figure out what happened this summer and who may be jumping to conclusions about Kindle Unlimited and other causes are missing vital information to determine what’s what.

First of all, the majority of the information I’ve gathered comes from indie authors who publish primarily in digital form. But here’s what I would like to know: Were sales slow for eBooks only or were print book sales down too? Is it only indie authors who took a hit or were trad pubbed authors struggling as well? Was it just the Romance genre that ran into trouble or were other genres having problems too? For the people that actually did do well, what did they do differently that the rest of us didn’t? And most importantly, have sales bounced back now that we’re in the months of pumpkin spice everything?

My sales HAVE rebounded, I’m happy to say. I have high hopes for them increasing even more with the release of the first book of my new series next month too. I’ve heard other authors say that their sales are beginning to inch back up to normal too. But what about you? Authors, how was your summer and how is your fall beginning? Readers, how many books did you buy this summer and have you signed up for Kindle Unlimited? I’d love to know!

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Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my quarterly newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!

Release

© Dreamstimepoint | Dreamstime.com

© Dreamstimepoint | Dreamstime.com

Ah! There’s a reason why the day a book is published is called Release Day! It may mark the day that a book is released to the public but to the author it represents a great big exhale and release from the intensity of that final phase of a writing project.

Don’t get me wrong. Writing a novel is a long process that certainly doesn’t end when the book is published. Writing is one thing, editing another thing entirely, and marketing the book so that it finds its way into the hands of eager readers is a whole different can of worms. Every different writer has a different opinion about which phase of the process they love or hate more or the others, but any way you slice it, the sheer liberation of clicking publish and moving on is the biggest release of all.

I published two books—Saving Grace and Fallen from Grace, the first two books in my all-new Science Fiction series, Grace’s Moon—on Tuesday. The first drafts of the books were actually written as long as five years ago. I’ve tinkered with them over the last few years, but the serious work of revising them enough to show them to other people has absorbed me for the last three months. And believe me, it’s been an intense last few months! But Tuesday I clicked “publish” and sent those books out into the world.

And now here I am on the other side.

There’s an important lesson to be learned in the aftermath of publishing a book. After putting all that effort into producing a product that is presentable to an outside audience, we can be tempted to fall too far to one side or the other of the fence. On the one hand, it’s so easy to let out that last great breath and collapse back, completely spent…and to do nothing. I mean, at this stage of the game we’re so done with the damn book that we may very well want nothing to do with it ever again.

The problem is, though, books don’t sell themselves. Publishing is only the beginning. Unless we’ve already made a huge name for ourselves (and really, how many writers can say that? 5%?) we still need to work on finding promo opportunities, lining up guest posts, and seeking out places to talk about the book and sell it to new readers. If left on its own to find its way in the world, your book will die. And nobody wants that.

woman readingOf course, there is another side to this whole post-pub coin that can be equally as dangerous. This is the pit I fall into after every book. It’s important as a writer to stop and rest now and then. Yep, sometimes once you click “publish” you actually have to flop back, take a deep breath, and close your eyes. I tend to want to jump right into writing the next book in the series or to start a new series all together. It’s an admirable impulse and one that will keep any given writer brimming with possibility for years to come. But as Seven Habits of Highly Effective People says, you have to sharpen the saw for a while before you can go back to cutting down trees.

My weapon of choice when it comes to combating post-pub burn-out is to read. There’s nothing like a good (or even a bad) book to mellow you out after all those months of frantic work. It’s not just a method of relaxation, it’s a way to work on your craft through the art of observation. It can even be a way to get new ideas. I’m not talking about the kind of ideas that get you in trouble with readers later for imitating the masters, I’m talking about methods of showing backstory, character nuances, and even good old sentence structure. There’s a lot to be learned from reading, as we all well know.

So yay and congratulations to anyone who finishes a book and publishes it! Way to go! And I wish you all the best in navigating that treacherous balance between taking on too much work after you’ve clicked “publish” and not doing enough. It’s a fine balance, but listen to your writer’s heart. You’ll know when you’ve done enough and need a rest and you’ll know when it’s time to get back in the saddle and write again.

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Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my quarterly newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!