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!

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!

Judge Not

I spent Saturday judging some writing contest entries. It was fun, but I have to say, the first few I read were disappointing. I guess I expected them to be better stories. I don’t know why I had that expectation but I did.  The writing was okay, the mechanics not bad, but I felt nothing when I read them. They weren’t exactly boring, but they just weren’t interesting enough to capture my interest.

Of course, I could tell with a few of them that they just needed a better vocabulary, better word choices, to pump up the story and give it more oomph. Others, well, let’s just say that the plots needed some work.  I will say that there were two real standouts of the ten I read and that’s a pretty decent percentage.

I talked to Nikki (Motley) about how to present yourself when you try to get a job. I told her to stand up straight and not slouch. People might perceive you as lazy and schlumpy if you don’t stand up straight. Now, in Nikki’s case, standing up straight means her gigantic boobs are really, really on display. There’s not much we can do about that.  I mean, Mother Nature saw fit to endow her with the kind of chest strippers pay plastic surgeons to get.  I try to get her to dress so that her chest isn’t so much on display when she’s job hunting. After all, despite it not being right for people to judge each other, they just do especially when they need to size up job applicants.

Used to be, Nikki had the attitude that since people shouldn’t judge each other she could suit herself. She was in her teens then and feeling all angsty and rebellious. Now, she gets it that while we shouldn’t judge others there are times you have to and most people are gonna do it anyway.  I don’t think it’s how humans are biologically, I think it’s how our culture is. And luckily, at 21, Nikki now gets this too. Now, if only she could just get people to stop staring at her boobs and give her a customer service type job…

Today’s Marcus is low key and pretty. I was playing around with gradients in Photoshop and used my favorite Marcus photo.  I love purple.

Oh! Before I go I invite you to check out Fonts For Peas. Amanda made a font out of my handwriting! It’s called peaLex Valentine. 🙂 I should probably use it on this site. Whadda ya think?

Wishing you all a non-judgmental Monday!

In the Zone

Yes, this is the construction zone today. It’s not pretty yet. It’s a mess, but as I promised months ago when I said I was going to do this…the bats have remained. Can’t get rid of them. 😉

I don’t know why I chose today to do this. Maybe because the babies popped my brand new air mattress during their 4th of July fireworks freak out last night which meant that as soon as the air depleted from the mattress…I woke up. At four-fucking-thirty in the morning. I had an inkling it might happen I guess cause something made me buy a spacefoam mattress topper online yesterday morning. I just have to survive somehow until it arrives and hope like hell it works. Maybe I need TWO spacefoam toppers to give me that laying on a cloud feeling. Hmmmn. We’ll soon find out, won’t we?

Anyway, excuse my dust as I work on the site today. I’ll leave you with a gorgeous Marcus and feel free to keep checking back as I tweak on this blog. 😉

Happy post 4th of July Monday!

Construction Zone

So I was tired of the Lex Valentine website. I put up a temporary one for release day this past Friday. If you have a new book out you often get lots of hits on your website. I’m not a stat checker so I don’t know for sure. But I did know that I wanted something new. I wanted something sleeker and more code-modern. I couldn’t find anything that I liked that I could tweak. I put up a really simple template, slapped my pen name on it and let release day happen.

Late last night, I got an idea. Like a dog with a bone I couldn’t let it go. So I tweaked on this thing and messed with it and studied it and messed with it some more and tweaked on it some more. And then, I really started to like it.

Now, I’m no code whore. I know enough to make me dangerous with a template so I always have backups of backups because God knows no one can render a template useless faster than me. But for some reason, last night I looked at that CSS and the logic of it just fell into place in my head. At least where color is concerned. I may not know CSS very well, but I know a hex code when I see one! So I figured out how to customize the color.

It still has issues that I haven’t been able to wrap my brain around yet, like this whole featured article stuff and how to make a static header, and how to make it start on my welcome page and not my blog. (No, it’s not the standard WordPress setting, it has it’s own specialized settings just for this template.) But I’ll figure it out and if I don’t and I get stuck and frustrated, well, I’ll throw some money at someone and let them fix it for me. I know I’m more than halfway there now so that’s very satisfying.

The funny thing is that I used the same template I used for Jason Edding’s site. If you look at his and you look at mine, you’ll do a double take. They don’t look very alike at all. That’s the beauty of a template that has customizations built in and then gives you the option of changing it even more.

Now, my reason for wanting the site in better shape than the temp template I had up? I got a release date for Where There’s Smoke. Yep, May 3 – Rott’s birthday. Although, I have to admit, when I told him about it, he put his hands over his ears and said, “I can’t hear you!” when I said it’s a gay book. For another, he said he doesn’t have birthdays anymore and he’s still 21. (He’ll be 44. LOL) But yeah, I’m excited to have this book come out. And eventually, the construction zone will move here, but I’m just not there yet with ideas. And yes, the bats stay.

So this morning, tired as I am from a lack of sleep (I have a cut on my leg and it throbbed so badly I couldn’t really sleep) I’m feeling jazzed about some things. So I need a very nice Marcus today.

I wish I had a bigger image but it’s kinda cool anyway.

I was gonna talk about my trials and tribulations with a very cool tribal cut out aluminum computer case by Raidmax, but I’m too disgusted to even put the facts on paper as it were. Just UGH. BIG UGH.  Suffice to say, I’m not ever buying an aluminum case again no matter how cool it is or how many features it has that I want. It’s steel or nothing baby. Okay, maybe I could be talked into a plexiglass case…*eyeroll*

Here’s hoping you all have a simply awesome Monday!