Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Snippets - NEVER TOO LATE - at the Great Exhibition

As this busy week continues into an equally busy weekend, here's a quick update before I get to this week's Saturday Snippet:

This Friday, April 6th, I will be making my first "public" appearance! I'm doing a guest post at A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet, run by Limecello. My topic? The First Kiss.  Oh, and my appearance there includes a giveaway! So be sure to stop by and comment to be eligible!

One of the key reasons I set Never Too Late in 1851 was that this was the year of the first Great Exhibition of All Nations.  Here Lord Devin escorts Honoria and his mother through the massive exhibition housed in the magnificent Crystal Palace.

“Well, as astounding as this whole extravaganza seems to be,” Lady Devin interjected, “I would greatly appreciate a bit of fresh air.”

“Are you well, Lady Devin?” She took the other woman’s hand, noting her taut posture.

“It is nothing to speak of, Mrs. Duchamp.” Lady Devin lowered her voice. “This building. It gives me the sense of a birdcage. It may be a giant cage, but it is still a kind of prison.”

“This way, Mother.” Devin led the way with authority, dividing the crowd with his stature and purposeful stride. It was as if the world truly did bow to his whim.

When their little group returned to the dazzlingly massive Central Transept, however, a circus show was in full swing, drawing a wall of onlookers impenetrable even to the great Lord Devin. Colorful jugglers spun and crossed the floor in intricate patterns, attending only to the balls they tossed in the air. Dancers wove through their paths. And then, the main attraction drew all eyes toward the sky: a trio of tightrope walkers suspended high above the crowd made their way across an impossibly fine thread. Two of the walkers supported a bar between them, hooked in some way over their shoulders, while the third walker balanced above them on that bar. They stepped slowly but surely along the rope, which trembled from their movements.

“Can you persevere, Mother?”

“Of course, my dear.”

Still, Lady Devin’s pale skin had developed a fine misty sheen. Honoria gripped her hand, as if to transmit her own strength. She was distracted though by sharp gasps from the audience. She followed the eyes around her up to the tightrope, where one of the performers wobbled dangerously.

“What a foolhardy risk,” she said.

“That is the career they have chosen,” Lord Devin responded, his eyes likewise riveted above. “Presumably, they train regularly to maintain peak performance. They accept the risk.”

“I could never do something so dangerous.”

“Could you not? I wonder if you do not do so every day.”

She tore her eyes from the spectacle above to stare at him.

“Whatever could you mean by that? I don't put myself at risk.”

He looked at her fully.

“You are a single woman, running your shop and living on your own. Your fortunes could change at any moment. Sales run dry. A careless fire could leave you with nothing.” Damn it, woman, you spread truths people want to kill you for. Of course you put yourself at risk.

She replied as if she'd heard what he did not say. “One cannot live as a prisoner of fear. We do what we must because it is the right thing to do, because we could not conceive of living a life without it.”

Friday, March 22, 2013

Saturday Snippets - NEVER TOO LATE - in the library

Before we get to this week's snippet, here are a few updates:
  • I received some new favorite things in the mail this week: print copies of the eKensington Sampler - Spring 2013, which features blurbs and excerpts from upcoming eKensington releases, including Never Too Late! So I'm giving copies away (signed, if you wish)! Click here for details!
  • If you're interested in seeing more of my writing apart from Never Too Late, I submitted a guest entry to the Lascaux Flash Fiction contest entitled "A Flight of Fancy." It's a challenge to write flash fiction well, and I enjoyed the exercise of trying to develop a historical piece. The contest is run by the editors of The Lascaux Review, an online literary journal, and I've known some of the Lascaux editors for a while now via blogs and publishing sites. I hope next time they run the contest I can do more to spread the word. 
  • are just a few "This Week in Romance Novels" links I think are important:

Okay, so now that I've gone and sent you to do lots of other reading, here's a snippet from Never Too Late in which we spend some time in the Devin library:

The library was what one would expect of such a house, and Alex knew its secrets would be irresistible to a bibliophile like Mrs. Duchamp. Bookshelves lined three walls, ceiling to floor, and were completely full. Decorative paneled columns on each wall broke up the visual monotony. A writing desk and chair stood between the windows on the far wall, and a heavily upholstered settee sat askew in one corner. Two long tablelike display cases ran perpendicular to the windows. The room was lit only by sconces behind the desk.

“This is inappropriate, you know,” she said. Yet she appeared drawn to the nearest display case, captivated by the sight of leather and parchment. “You should not be here with me, unaccompanied, in a dark room, no matter what your mother said.”

When she described it like that, he could imagine all sorts of inappropriate reasons exactly why he should be here with her in this dark room, lit only by a few candles. It was also conveniently out of earshot from the evening's festivities. He could see her comment was an idle one, though; she made no move to open the door. She knew all too well this was a business matter between a lord and a merchant, best handled behind closed doors, just as everyone would perceive it. So he shifted his thoughts to business, particularly in light of her dark observations at dinner about the Featherbury deaths. He’d given the sample printed sheet from her shop to Withersby to demonstrate his meager progress. It was time for him to do more extensive archaeology of her professional work, but he had to do so delicately, or she’d startle and bolt like a cat.

“I did not think you would come this evening,” he admitted wryly, as he poured a brandy at one of the corner shelves. He offered the glass to her.

She gave a tight smile, shook her head, and said, “I was given to understand that I didn't have much choice.” She tilted her head as she added, “Very adroitly implied, I should say.”

“True, but you do not seem the type to cave to the demands of others.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

eKensington Sampler - Spring 2013 giveaway

As I mentioned in a previous post, my publisher Kensington has released an eKensington Sampler - Spring 2013, which includes a little blurb and excerpt from NEVER TOO LATE. The eKensington Sampler is available at Amazon and Kobo and probably elsewhere too (I haven't found it on Barnes and Noble yet).

The sampler includes blurbs and excerpts from several upcoming eKensington releases, all of which sound intriguing!

Today, I received a package of goodies in the mail...a big stack of print copies of the eKensington Sampler - Spring 2013!!!!! (Yup, I really can't suppress those exclamation points.)

Aren't they pretty? (My smartphone's camera doesn't really do them justice.)

Serendipitously, it turns out that I have the centerfold! This means that the booklet naturally opens to my book's blurb!

Here's the freebie giveaway: 

I am giving away 20 print copies of the eKensington Sampler - Spring 2013 free upon request. First come, first served until 20 copies are gone.

If you'd like your very own print copy of the eKensington Sampler - Spring 2013, click on Contact tab and e-mail me your mailing address. In your e-mail, let me know if you'd like me to sign your copy. 

While this isn't a contest or sweepstakes, I'm laying down a couple of rules anyway: 1. This is open to those 18 yrs old or older. 2. This is open worldwide--I'll happily mail internationally.

Feel free to spread the word!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Debut Author Giddiness - Advance Praise

Shh...Don't tell anyone, but writers are sometimes very insecure. There are so many moments in the process of writing and the separate but related process of seeking publication when self-doubt and insecurity may rear their mercilessly cruel heads.

Sometimes, that self-doubt is can drive us to improve and evolve. But sometimes it can be crippling. seems important to celebrate milestones...if only for a moment.  And so here's yet another *Big Moment* as we get closer to the May 2nd release date for Never Too Late

Never Too Late has received advance praise from USA Today Bestselling Author Nicola Cornick, a brilliant powerhouse in Regency historical romance. I adore her Scandalous Women of the Ton series, especially Desired.

Here are some of the lovely (and, by lovely, I mean "OMG, I CAN'T BELIEVE NICOLA CORNICK SAID THIS ABOUT MY BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!**) comments she had about Never Too Late:
  • "Deliciously romantic and sizzling with sensual tension."
  • "A strong heroine, a gorgeous hero and an intense and passionate romance. Captivating!"
  • "Witty, original and charming." 

**I was doing so well controlling the exclamation points, but they burst out anyway. How could they not, after such wonderful words?! So giddy! I may print out her comments and put them in a frame by my desk as a talisman to use against my next onslaught of writerly self-doubt.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Snippets - NEVER TOO LATE - Things heat up...

Before I get to this week's snippet, here are a few updates:
  • The eKensington Sampler - Spring 2013 is now available FREE from Amazon and Kobo! It includes information about and snippets from upcoming e-book releases, including Never Too Late! And did I's free?!
  • I'm scheduling online appearances for Never Too Late's May 2nd release.  Check out my Appearances page to see where I will be. (Some will include giveaways!)
  • Did I mention that Never Too Late is now available on NetGalley for reviewers? Well, it is! (I know! I can hardly believe it myself!)
(Note: I can pretty well guarantee that I'll be using more and more exclamation points as May approaches! What can I say? I'm a debut author, and I've never been good at looking cool.)

And now...this week's snippet is set in the midst of a dinner party hosted by Alex's mother, who is a great supporter of writers and has gathered an eclectic group of them this evening. Dinner conversation has turned to philosophical musings on love.  And, yes, the Tennyson speaking at the beginning of this excerpt is this Tennyson.  Enjoy!

“I think we can agree there are those, whether lovers or friends, who we simply cannot live without,” Tennyson continued. “There are those who make our world. Oh, the world exists before them and possibly long after them, but their love gives us life and meaning and wholeness.”

Honoria felt painfully choked by this barrage of sentiments. Who talked like this at dinner? What struck her keenly was the quiet awareness that she had no such person, whether lover or friend. She knew her work held meaning, but could she truly say she lived? When her hand stole up instinctively to worry the button and lace that normally covered her neck, she was surprised to feel only bare skin. That notch, that warm, soft hollow at the base of her throat, reminded her sharply of the gown's low neckline.

Again, she felt a warm flush spread along her face and shoulders, along with a prickling sensation of being observed. Feigning casualness, she looked in the direction of Lord Devin, intending to focus just past him, at the doorway. Instead, she found herself caught in his dark, open gaze. He made no pretense of accidental or fleeting eye contact. Instead, the intensity of his expression deepened into an almost elemental entitlement. His eyes seemed focused on her hand, on the spot where her fingers touched her throat. She froze under that riveting stare, momentarily unable to breathe, unable to see anything in the room but him, unaware of anything or anyone else. When she recollected herself, she quickly moved her hand back down to the table. His eyes briefly tracked the motion and then lingered again at her neck before meeting her eyes. Something about him reminded her of Jupiter—the way the tabby would crouch, belly nearly brushing the floor, body contracted, just before springing on his prey, whether it was a hapless intruding mouse or a ball of dust. She was shaken and tried hard to mask her tumultuous emotions, but, from across a crowded table, he'd somehow established a commanding intimacy without even touching her. She knew she ought to feel offended by his presumptuousness, but that didn't help to quiet the hot licks of some undefined emotion skittering across her skin, particularly in areas caught by his eyes.

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's DABWAHA time!

If you're a romance reader, you probably already know it's DABWAHA time, sponsored by Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books! This is a romance novel version of college basketball's March Madness, complete with brackets and trash talk!  The tournament structure pits 64 romances in various categories, all published in 2012, against each other and whittles the field down through each round until there's one winner.

DABWAHA stands for Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hella Good Authors.

What's interesting (and different from college basketball's March Madness) is that the authors and their fans can engage in vote-mongering.  Whereas March Madness brackets are ultimately unaffected by fan selection (i.e., if you picked Villanova or Georgetown to win or even to just make it to the Sweet Sixteen, nothing you do as a fan actually affects whether the team gets there), DABWAHA participants do vote in the head-to-head battles.  So they can attempt to garner more votes and, ahem, use different IP addresses (laptop, phone, etc.) to vote multiple times.

Reader participants are eligible for prizes! And it can be fun to see everyone get so excited about their favorite novels!

This week, seven finalists have been announced for each category, and DABWAHA is accepting nominations to fill an eighth slot in each category. The finalists are awesome, but don't miss this opportunity to nominate a favorite you think was overlooked!  Go now! Submit your nominations!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Snippets - NEVER TOO LATE

OMG! Never Too Late is now available on Netgalley for reviewers! OMG OMG OMG! While I'd like to give the impression of being a calm, cool author, I'm fairly sure that ship sailed long ago.  Maybe, by the time Book Two is released, I will have some semblance of composure about all this.  For now, squeeeeeee!

This week's Saturday Snippet features Never Too Late's hero, Lord Alexander Devin, after his first encounter with Honoria. This excerpt also gives a glimpse of why he visits her shop in the first place.

“Make the woman's acquaintance,” Mr. Withersby had said.

Well, I have certainly done that, Lord Devin thought. Upon entering, he hadn't expected to do more than scan the shop and get a general impression of its owner. Unobtrusive, subtle, distant. Instead, he'd become abruptly and intimately acquainted with her ample bosom before he even formally knew her name. Bloody hell, he'd thought as her body careened at him. He could still recall the faint scent of lilies that wafted from her. He could still feel the delicate weight of her in his arms. And on his skin.

“Investigate and neutralize,” Mr. Withersby had said.

Lord Devin still needed more time and information to comprehend why there would be a need to neutralize such a harmless, albeit lovely, matron. She might be able to convince customers to drop an extra penny or two they hadn’t planned to spend, but she was no threat to the future of British society.

Two days prior to the bookshop encounter, Lord Devin had found himself in the dark, smoky, heavily appointed office of Mr. Withersby, attorney-at-law. He abhorred this dank building, this increasingly seedy district, and this man, this sniveling excuse for a man whom he’d enabled to claw into the Devin family’s stronghold.

“You have a job for me?” he said as he barged into the office. He didn't care if Withersby was otherwise occupied, whether with client for business or, just as frequently, with some skirt for pleasure.

“No time for pleasantries today, Lord Devin? Have a seat.”

“I do not take kindly to being called like a dog, Withersby. You called; I came. I do not want to be here any longer than necessary.” He remained standing, glaring down his nose at the short, stout, spectacled solicitor, who resembled a woodchuck, with his beady eyes and pointy face.

“Quite right, milord.” Withersby stood and went to the mahogany sideboard to pour himself a brandy. He swirled the dark liquid in the tumbler. “I have a client who complains of a nuisance, and I want you to take care of it.”

“What kind of nuisance are we talking about, a thorn in the paw or a spear in the side?”

“Oh, to be sure, it's a mosquito, my good man.” He waved a hand around his head by way of illustration. “Tiny. Distracting. Mildly irritating. But it's proving annoyingly difficult to swat.”

Never Too Late is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spring Forward with the Bookends Babes!

Since the BookEnds Babes Holiday Write-In on Facebook was so much fun and so fantastically productive, authors Melissa Cutler and Sharla Lovelace have organized another round: Bookends Babes Word Slammin' Extravaganza

As a fellow BookEnds author, I'm so in!

Here's how it works:

Writers--all writers, whether published or unpublished, are welcome to participate in this day of writing! There will be three hour-long writing sprints interspersed with breaks for chatter, snacks, and party favors. Post your goals at the beginning of the event and then check in at each break to report your progress.  BookEnds authors will be doing giveaways at each break.  (I haven't yet decided what my giveaways will be.  Last time I gave away an Amazon gift card at each break...hmmm...)

Readers--we writers will need lots of cheerleaders! Feel free to share your support and celebrate with us as we spring ahead in our writing goals. Chat with us, ask us deep and meaningful questions (or, you know, any questions you like, really), and mingle with fellow readers. 

To participate (and be eligible to win party favors), go to the Facebook page linked above and Join! It's that easy! 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Introducing...Saturday Snippets of NEVER TOO LATE

In anticipation of the release date for my debut historical romance, Never Too Late (*cough* May 2, 2013 *cough* from eKensington *cough*), I'm excited to start sharing little glimpses of Honoria and Alex's story!

Hence...Saturday Snippets.  {cue the trumpets and confetti} I'll post a little bit of Never Too Late each week between now and its Release Day Extravaganza.  More on the extravaganza part in the near future.

To inaugurate the Saturday Snippets, I'll start at the very beginning: Page One.  It is my great pleasure to introduce you to the industrious heroine of Never Too Late, Mrs. Honoria Duchamp:

If she hadn’t been dusting the reading nook so beloved by customers, young and old, Mrs. Honoria Duchamp, owner and proprietress of Evans Books, would not have heard the cruel comments about her from some society mum shepherding her daughter to matrimonial slaughter. Now it echoed in her mind: “Did you see that woman, Margaret? Did you? Take a close look at her and at this cramped, suffocating little shop. This is the best you can hope for if you don't marry well. Do you think that shriveled-up mouse of a woman wanted this menial life?” The mother’s sharp voice had grown shrill toward the end of this little speech. It just goes to show, she thought, nothing good can come of dusting.

If she hadn’t been feeling particularly content right then, the comments likely would have wafted through her mind with no more impact than a falling nettle in a forest, just one more lifeless wisp. This time, though, the cruel depiction of her as a cautionary tale sliced through her equilibrium. What she’d seen as enough was seen by others as cramped and suffocating. She felt small, her ambitions lacking. It felt almost true.

“You see, Margaret”— the mother’s voice cut through the bookshelf between them, interrupting her self-reflection—“do you see why I harp on you about finding a good match?”

“Yes, Mother.” Resigned flat tone. Honoria quirked her brow. Ah, yes, all too common a conversation in the advice section. She could almost picture the young lady; they always wore pale clothes, always wore their bonnets primly, always sported pristine white gloves that meant they couldn’t actually handle any of the books themselves, for fear of muss.

An older couple approached the register to purchase a stack of periodicals so she went to take care of them. The husband, all business, made pleasantries about the weather, but the wife, her plump figure swathed in gray worsted, looked with kind eyes at Honoria and reached out to pat her left hand while she wrote out the bill of sale with her right.

“Don't you take those careless words to heart, dearie.” The wife's touch was gentle, warm. “My niece lost her man in a railway accident two years ago, and with two little mouths to feed yet. She's remarried now to a kind older gentleman who wanted companionship. ’Course she's only one-and-twenty yet.”

Next week, you'll get to meet the story's hero, Lord Alexander Devin, a viscount on a mission.

Never Too Late is available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. (Note: it's also available for pre-order in the UK!)

NECRWA 2017 Follow-up!

*ahem* *looks around* *sweeps away the dust bunnies and cobwebs* So...hi! It's apparently been quite a while since I last sa...