Cowgirls Need Jimmy Too

Yes, moron that I am, I forgot to post last week on Thursday. Blame it on my deadline. But my editor LOVES the heroes of Afterburner so I think I may have redeemed myself.

This week I have a brand new Jimmy Thomas cover for you. It’s for my next Christmas Cowboys short story. Those of you who know my work know that this series started with Elle and Riley in Christmas Hookup who meet in a parking lot at a holiday class reunion.  It’s not Elle’s class, she’s a couple years older, but she’d been dragged there by her childhood friend Anne-Marie who had heard that her high school boyfriend was single again.

The series all takes place in the fictional town of Heil, California which is based loosely on my hometown of Salinas, California. Supermodel Riley Forbes owns Forbes Ranch where the next two stories take place.  In Christmas Catch, Riley’s cousin Grayson (the ranch manager) hooks up with the bodyguard assigned to Riley, a former pilot who still has nightmares.  Mitch and Gray heat up the pages for a little M/M Christmas action.

For Christmas in Hell, I went a little bit sweeter and paired Elle’s assistant Devon with one of the full-time ranch hands, former rodeo star Jared.  In this story, Devon mentions her brother Bradley as a party animal who takes off for Vegas with his buddies at Christmas to get drunk and get laid.

This year, in Christmas Wishes, Bradley doesn’t go to Vegas. He goes to Devon and Jared’s house at Forbes Ranch. Turns out the reason Brad’s been such a party animal is because he’s been pining for an older woman, Elle’s pal Anne-Marie. Anne-Marie did manage to hook up with her high school sweetheart at the reunion where Elle met Riley and they got married. Unfortunately, less than two years later, Anne-Marie’s husband becomes a victim of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan leaving her a grieving widow. Brad’s not the type to hit on a woman in such a fragile emotional state, so he spent his time hanging with his buddies, trying to forget her.

Christmas Wishes is the tale of a woman who’s returned to her roots while trying to lay her past to rest. Picking up the pieces of her life at her family’s ranch, Anne-Marie runs into Brad who makes it clear he has one wish this Christmas and she’s it.  City boy Brad is a little lost on a ranch, but Anne-Marie decides to show him the ropes and eventually this Cowgirl Cougar Christmas story has a very happy ending.

I’ve a couple of half-finished projects to complete this month and then I’ll be writing Christmas Wishes and handing it off to my editor for your reading pleasure this holiday season.

And now, I’ll unveil my holiday cover featuring Jimmy Thomas!

Don’t you wish Jimmy would look at you like that? I know I do! 😉 Oh, and for those of you who might be wondering – yes, that is the font Dar Albert used on my Rock My World cover. She was kind enough to tell me the name of it and it was luckily a free font! Woot!

Have a simply wonderful Thursday!

Hot Off the Press

You know it’s gonna be a crappy week when the temperature for Monday hits 107. That was last Monday. And my co-worker  was sick. She was sick for a couple of days poor thing. But it was a commissions and month end week for us in accounting and I spent two days alone powering on in the horrid 100+ degree heat getting stuff done. On not much sleep cause you see, I have no AC at home. Oh yeah. Talk about hot off the press. Oy.

But despite the heat and my pal Jojor’s illness, I got it all done ON TIME. Yes. On time. Man, I felt like a superstar. More month end duties today but if I can survive last week, this week should be a breeze.

In addition to what I was dealing with at the day job, I had a deadline for MLR Press. And Afterburner went to Kris Jacen pretty much on time. I’m wriggling with excitement too because these heroes are two of my favorites so far. On top of finishing Afterburner, I finished my edits for Rock My World. Ahead of schedule. I hope I made my editor Jilly happy with that!Then I made the cover of my Christmas Cowboys story for 2010. I’ll show that off on Thursday though.

Yesterday, just to make my feelings of accomplishment rise even higher, the sixth book of the Tales of the Darkworld released early. Yep Hot off the Press for real! Sunstroked is a M/M story, not quite as long as the last few books, but it’s hot and sweet and the heroes were introduced to readers in the other books in the series. And yes, to make the icing even sweeter on my cake, Common Ground will be going to print later this month! I’m so excited with all the stuff going on right now that even the high temps and high humidity we’ve had have not wilted my enthusiasm!

I’ve got lots of promo type stuff going on all month too. The first one I want to mention is the Raven Scavenger Hunt. You all loved having Mandy and Michelle guest here and now they’re having a month long scavenger hunt of which I am part. There’s lots of prizes to win so check it out!

On to a Marcus for this first Monday of October!

Oh yeah. Marcus in motion is like a work of art!

Wishing you all a cool scavenger hunting Monday!

Now What?

Over the weekend I wrote a total of 5500 words. My WIP Afterburner is now at 14,300 words. Less than 6K to finish. Due date is 9/30. I’m thinking I can pull that off… I probably would be done already but I keep finding myself doing research. Yesterday, it was on ejection seats for the F-35. Somehow I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into when I created this plot! LOL

I also made a couple of covers for Pink Petal Books. One for Jaime Samms and one for the Tales series. I did the cover for the first book in Jaime’s Ageless series and this is the sequel.

With Tales number 6 set for release on October 7, I figured I’d best do the cover for Tales number 7. This book is a direct sequel to Fire Season and it continues Holden and Garret’s story while bringing in a secondary het love story for Ashworth Stone, who is actually dead. Now you’re wondering how I can have a love story for a dead woman, but trust me, I’m gonna pull it off!

The other thing that happened over the weekend is that one of the Romance Writers of America chapters that I belong to had a pitch day on their private blog for members only. We had the chance to pitch to editor Megan Records of Kensington. Out of curiosity, I went to take a look. Hell. The pitches were just mini-synopsis. Like a fool, I thought, “I can do that.” So I did.

OMG. I am such a moron. I pitched a book that isn’t done. It’s based on a short story I did for an RWA chapter’s writing contest a couple of years ago. My pal Dee Carney won the contest. I took that story and used it as the springboard for a very gritty and violent urban fantasy book that should be about 75K. Except, it’s not finished.

The point to my tale is that I was asked for a partial. Which I have. But that’s about ALL I have. On the one hand, I’m jumping for joy. Kensington is a big publisher. A PRINT house from NYC. On the other hand, I’m thinking, “What the hell have I done?” I pitched a book that isn’t finished. That is seriously gonna put a crimp in my scheduling.

Well, the deed is done now. Despite sitting here thinking “Now what?” about how to produce a book that’s still in my head, I guess I am pleased. As soon as I finish Afterburner this week, I’ll polish my partial, expand on my synopsis so it fits submission guidelines and email it off. Her turn around time is three months so in that time, I need to put in some work on my violent little tale.

It’s time for me to toddle off to work, but before I go, I must leave you with my Marcus for this last Monday of September.

That’s a repeat Marcus from a couple of years ago but it’s a gorgeous pic and it makes me think of cool water, something needed in this end of September heat wave the OC is having.

Wishing you a cool, crisp Fall Monday!

Like the Wind

I’ve been writing like the wind. I’m at 7500 words of a 20K story due September 30. (And my editor may be looking at this with greedy eyes. Yes, Kris. It’s getting closer to completion!) I’ve got another deadline right behind that one. Both of these stories have been on the back burner for my editors for awhile now. I love it that I can finally get them done. Then it’s on to other things that have been back burnered! LOL

I do have new stuff cooking too. My brain is always percolating ideas. I’m eager to get into my edits for Rock My World because I know that immersing myself in that world means I will be ready to start the sequels. It’s a good thing that the gals from Z.A. Maxfield’s group and I have been doing Word Wars. All of us have deadlines ‘cept our one un-pubbed author who we’re encouraging to complete her first manuscript.

The discipline behind Word Wars makes you accountable for your word count.  I feel bad when I only do 300 words in 30 minutes. I feel guilty. Of course, this is how Dee Carney and L. Shannon trained me to be when they taught me how to Word War. I’m like Pavlov’s dog except when the buzzer goes off if I don’t have at least 500 words I feel like I deserve to be whipped…instead of salivating as the dog did. LOL

I almost panicked today when my mouse died and I couldn’t find batteries. Then I found them and panicked again cause it was the last two! I’d forgotten to get more! OMG! What if I run out later?

Writers have the weirdest neurosis or hadn’t  you noticed? LOL

One good thing about writing like the wind is that you see a lot of progress and suddenly the deadlines don’t feel so stressful. I have these two I’m working on now to finish. I’m waiting on two sets of edits for two different publishers. I have a Christmas short to do (sequel to last year’s Christmas in Hell) and a sequel to Rock My World and then a short off shoot of my November release… the list goes on and on. It’s endless. Or will be until my ideas dry up which I doubt will happen.

I’m actually pretty happy about writing so much. I stalled so much over the past 8 months that my releases have trickled out this year as opposed to last year’s flood. Of course, my home life had more ups and downs than an elevator which contributed to my lackluster writing speed. Knock on wood that things continue as smoothly as they have been in the last couple of months.

I’m hopeful that this writing spate means I have lots to show for my time soon. And I’m hoping it helps keep me a happy camper cause I could use a break from the stress. 🙂 I know I’ve been structuring my time better and that helps a lot too. But writing like the wind helps the most. And in the end gives my readers a lot more of me. 😉

Today’s Marcus is draped in metal. He’s a good platform for showcasing jewelry. All those hard, sleek muscles… Yum.

I’ve got a post for you on Thursday with an announcement, so come on back in a few days to see what I have in store for you! Have a great Marcus Monday!

Who Dares

I suppose I don’t talk about my emotions enough here. I just sort of skate along the surface of things. Mostly, I don’t feel that there’s all that much happening in my emotional life that I could fill a blog post. My life doesn’t vary all that much. Work, struggle, struggle, work. And write. Occasionally fight with Rott or Nikki. If I had to dig deep and pull out a bunch of emotions I suppose I could, but I just don’t feel the need to. I spend too much time putting them away so I can get stuff done.

When I do take them out and think about them, nothing changes so I just don’t do that a lot anymore.  It’s not living in limbo. It’s survival and I spend (and have spent) a lot of my life just trying to survive. Now that I’m actually writing books, a dream I’ve had for most of my life, I expend a lot of my emotion there. I give mine to my characters. It’s an easy way to express them and deal with them. And then I don’t have to come here and put so much of me out there for you to read. I mean, I say enough stuff that ya’all are always feeling sorry for me. Don’t need more. I feel guilty enough as it is for saying some of the things I do say!

At any rate, I got an email yesterday that made me think about love. Now, I think about love on a regular basis since I’m a romance author. But, sometimes I don’t think about it in more personal terms. Here’s what happened yesterday: I got an email (it’s a newesletter type blast not a personal email) from a popular cover model. He said he hadn’t posted any photos in awhile because he was suffering from a major broken heart and just hadn’t had the motivation to do anything.

Talking with a couple of other authors our first thought was who the hell would break this man’s heart? Yeah, he is hotness personified, but on top of that he’s NICE. Like really NICE. C’mon, nice guys who are hot do not grow on frickin’ trees! I mean really, who would dare to dump or hurt such an awesome guy? Obviously, a woman who doesn’t see what we see.

And there is the nutshell.

None of the nice guys I know deserve to have their hearts broken whether they are cover model hot or not. It’s just that we all assume that the hot nice guy has a lot more opportunities to find a perfect woman. Yet, while he may think she is perfect for him, he may not be perfect to her. She doesn’t see what we see.  Beauty, and niceness, is in the eye of the beholder always. Sure, there’s like thousands of us who think this man is amazing, but all it took was the one who didn’t to hurt him.

*sigh* Love sucks. We all know it. It’s why I make money at writing love stories. Because no one is immune from being burned. There is always someone out there who dares to break our heart. Lucky people never connect with that person. Some of us meet more than one. We salve our hurts and bolster our hopes by reading the Happily Ever Afters that romance authors offer.

I guess that makes it okay that I don’t come here and bleed out all over this blog. I do my bleeding in private and use it to fuel the stories that help other people who are bleeding out. I like that I’m giving people enjoyment. I like that I’m giving something back. And I like that my emotions and my struggles and my pain can be channeled into those stories that make others happier.

In Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mister Bridgerton, one of my all time favorite books, Colin is hugely jealous because the woman he loves has something to show for her life. Penelope has a body of work (writing a snarky column) that people talk about and that she will be remembered for. And he’s jealous that she has that when he has nothing. The jealousy makes him more possessive of her.  Which kinda turns on the reader and makes her adore Colin all the more. But the thing is, there’s that whole notion of pouring your emotions into something that gives to others.

So instead of me giving you the blow by blow of my deepest emotions here, I give you books filled with hope that even if your heart gets broken, it will mend. And not every person you meet will be one who dares to hurt you.  I strongly believe that everyone has someone, and sometimes more than one someone, who will make your life richer and make your heart soar. If I didn’t believe that, I would never write it into a book.

I know that you’re all expecting a Marcus today since it’s Monday, but in honor of an amazing man who didn’t deserve a broken heart, I give you Jimmy Thomas instead. He’s just as hot if not hotter than Marcus so feel free to drool.

Quick bit of news then I’m outtie. First, if you check the Lex Valentine blog, you’ll see my new hot cover from Ellora’s Cave. The book, Rock My World, is about to go into edits so I’m hopeful that you may see this book before the year is out. Also, Sunstroked, the next Tales book has gone to my editor so I believe it will be out in October. I’ve got a Veteran’s Day project in the works that is something from last year that was tabled and my Spellbound Treasure book should coming in the next couple of months too.

Wishing you all a wonderful heartbreak free Labor Day! MUAH!