Excerpt Wednesday – Summer with a Star – First Kiss

Feb 25, 2015

 

It’s my favorite day! Excerpt Wednesday! And nothing is more fun then sharing a first look at a new book. Not just that, let’s start with the yummy first kiss between Tasha and Spencer, the heroine and hero of Summer with a Star, coming on Monday, March 9th, as an Amazon exclusive! So without further ado….

SummerWithAStar_3D

She sighed, hugging her cooling coffee close. “It’s such a typical story. The kind of thing that happens in movies.” She arched an eyebrow at him. “The worst part is, I put so much faith in him for so long, that when it all came crumbling down, I didn’t feel hurt. Not at all. I didn’t ache like my heart had been broken, I felt stupid. I feel stupid.”

She lowered her eyes, not bothering to fight off the ache of that stupidity as it welled up in her. She was an idiot, one who ran away from her problems, thinking a summer in an expensive house all alone could cure her of that. Well, the alone part hadn’t worked out. The rest of it probably wouldn’t either.

She was halfway through sliding down into even deeper despair when Spence inched closer to her. He set his coffee down, plucked her mug out of her hands and deposited it beside his, then cupped her jaw with his free hand, turning her head toward him. As she met his eyes, he brought his mouth down against hers.

The sensation of lips against lips, warm skin pressing so close, took her by surprise. He was gentle, yet confident. She could smell the salt of the sea on his skin. He teased his tongue along the line of her lips until she opened to him. He tasted of coffee and dinner, and the promise of starlit summer nights. She could float away on a kiss like that.

Instead she leaned into him, resting her fingertips against his side. He tensed, caught his breath—so subtly she could have imagined it—then redoubled the passion as he explored her mouth with his own. Every delicious instinct she had pushed her to snuggle closer to him, to dance her tongue alongside his, to drink him in. She could get lost in a dream like this. Her, clueless teacher, Tasha Pike, making out with Spencer Ellis.

Reality slammed back into her with the force of a train. She gasped and pulled back.

“Wow,” she breathed, struggling to pull herself together. “What was that?”

“A kiss,” he answered. If she wasn’t mistaken, his composure had slipped a little. Warm patches of color spilled across his cheeks.

“That much I got.” She grinned, still not quite believing it. “Why?”

“Why kiss you?”

She nodded.

He shrugged. “Can’t a man just feel like kissing a woman?”

“Sure,” she said, though what she thought was, not Spencer Ellis, not kissing me.

“Besides.” He brushed the back of his fingers along the line of her jaw, drawing her closer before letting go and sitting straight. “You looked like you could use a kiss.”

That was a good thing, right?

“So, do you usually go around kissing women who look like they need it?” She did her best to act cool, as if he hadn’t just raised the temperature in the entire state of Maine by ten degrees.

His sheepish laugh only made things worse. “No. Not really. I am glad you let me, though.”

“You are?”

He nodded. “I’ve been trying to break down the wall you put up for five days now. Looks like I finally did it.”

“Looks like,” she answered. She didn’t know whether to laugh or brush the whole thing off, or lunge at him for a repeat performance.

The problem was solved for her when Spence retrieved both of their coffee mugs, handing hers over.

“Thanks,” he said with a smile before taking a sip.

“Any time,” she answered. A second later, she realized what that implied.

He lifted his brow as if accepting her challenge.

She hid the swirl of butterflies that followed by drinking her coffee. What a difference a day made. She’d learned her lesson: being a stupid jerk earned no kisses, but getting over yourself did. As she settled back to watch the last of the sunset, Spencer’s solid heat beside her, she wondered what other rewards she could earn for good behavior that summer.

 

Summer with a Star is my first contemporary romance, and the first book in a new series, Second Chances. As you read Summer with a Star, you’ll hear the main character, Spencer Ellis, a big-time movie star, mention the script for the pilot episode of a TV show that he’s thinking of signing on to: Second Chances. All of the books in the Second Chances series will involve characters who are involved in the TV show, from its actors to directors to the catering staff (trust me, that’s going to be an excellent story!). You won’t want to miss it!

Lucky for you, you can preorder Summer with a Star now, right here on Amazon.

 

Fashion versus Clothes in History

Feb 23, 2015

 

Okay, I have this theory about historical clothing. And when I say clothing, I’m talking about the everyday uniform of the masses. Fashion is something entirely different. Fashion is extravagant and beautiful…and can usually only be worn by people who can afford it. Throughout history, particularly the 19th century, fashion was exquisite and varied as rapidly as it does today.

Fashion, 1862

Fashion, 1862

Fashion, 1900 - very different from 1862

Fashion, 1900 – very different from 1862 (also my favorite era of fashion history)

But I have a theory about the everyday clothes of the common man. Namely, that even though a few tiny details, like sleeve shape and size, placement of the waist, and skirt length, varied a little, when you get down to brass tacks, working women’s everyday dress didn’t change all THAT much for hundreds of years. The basic uniform of serviceable skirt, comfortable shirt, and possibly an apron remained steady until hemlines went up in the 20th century, and until pants took over.

Four regular women in 1865

Four regular women in 1865

Two household servants in the 1870s

Two household servants in the 1870s

Regular folks on the trail

Regular folks on the trail

Kickin' it at school, 1888

Kickin’ it at school, 1888

Just a family, 1900

Just a family, 1900

I haven’t done an in-depth study of clothing (which would be fun to do someday, mind you), but this is my very unscientific survey of old photographs from various eras, found on Pinterest. A little bit changed, but really, not that much.

I could totally dress like this and be happy

I could totally dress like this and be happy. Well, most of the time

I also want to note that when you search for Victorian Photography on Pinterest, you get a lot of Victorian post mortem photographs, and frankly, that whole fad just really freaks me out!

Writing Tips – Get The Party Started

Feb 20, 2015
© Photocritical | Dreamstime.com

© Photocritical | Dreamstime.com

I don’t know if you’re like me, but every time I sit down to write, it’s like one of those old cars where you have to crank the engine before it comes to life. What is it about getting started that feels like such hard work? I love writing—LOVE IT—and once I’m started, I can sit there and type for hours. But getting started? It feels next to impossible.

In her book Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling mentions that her eight-hour writing work day consists of one hour of working. “The other seven hours are preparing for writing: pacing around the house, collapsing cardboard boxes for recycling, reading the DVD extras pamphlet from the BBC Pride & Prejudice, getting snacks lined up for writing, and YouTubing toddlers who learned the “Single Ladies” dance.” The first time I read that, I cracked up, because I do the same thing. I’m pretty sure we all do.

But let’s face it, if we want to be productive and get stuff done, we need to make ourselves start at some point. So here are a few tips for cranking that engine and getting a move on.

1. Pick a Time To Start And Stick With It – Back in the days when I had a day job to rush off to, the only way I could find time to write at all was to get some work done before I left for the office and to get a bunch done before I got to bed. The inflexibility of my free time meant that every morning by 5:45am, my butt would be in the chair and my fingers would be on the keyboard. I couldn’t make an exception or I would have no writing time at all.

The funny thing is, since becoming a full-time writer, I still feel a visceral need to have my butt in my chair and my fingers on the keyboard, if not at 5:45am, then at 6:45. More than three years of keeping to strict writing hours out of necessity actually shaped me into keeping those hours, even when the extent of my morning commute is from my bedroom to my living room.

Even Stephen King in his book On Writing says that it’s best to have a specific time that you write. If the muse knows where and when to find you, then you’ll be more productive. I’ve found this to be 100% true. It doesn’t matter when that time is. Find something that works best for you and your life, then stick with it. The sticking with it is key.

© Daniel Constantin | Dreamstime.com

© Daniel Constantin | Dreamstime.com

2. Plan Ahead – Even before I crossed the great divide from being a pantser into being a plotter, I always knew what I was going to write before I sat down for any given writing session. Nowadays, since I am a plotter, I have an extensive outline that I work off of for any given book. I tend to read over the chapter in the outline that I plan to write that day, reminding myself of where I was going with things and what parts of the scene I want to hit with the most color. To me, that’s the equivalent of turning the crank on the old fashioned car.

But even before my outlining days, I made certain that I knew what I would be writing before I sat down to write. Often that meant stopping in the middle of a scene at the end of a writing session. That sense of the incomplete would spur me on to finish what I was excited about the day before so that I could be excited about it again. If that works for you, give it a try. I will say this, though, having your plan for the day written down is a powerful tool. I mean, we’re writers after all, right?

3. Challenge Yourself – Sometimes it’s just plain impossible to get the writing juices flowing though. Roadblocks and writer’s blocks get in the way and keep you from moving forward. That’s when it might help to do a writing sprint or to give yourself some other out-of-the box challenge.

I know a lot of writers who band together through media outlets like Facebook or Twitter to challenge each other to writing sprints. I love this idea. Not only does it provide you with a framework and guidelines for what the sprint might be (writing on a theme, shooting for a specific number of words, writing as much as you can in a given amount of time), it connects you with other writers who are in the same boat that you’re in. There’s nothing better for getting out of a rut then hanging out with your fellow writers, virtually or in reality.

I’m sure there are plenty of other ways we can rev our writing engines and get creating. These ones work best for me. What are some of your tricks?
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Trail of Dreams – Release Day (plus a giveaway!)

Feb 16, 2015

HOTT4-MerryFarmer-Launch600px

The fourth book in the Hot on the Trail series is here! I hope you enjoy Katie and Aiden’s story!

Get your copy on 
Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Add it to Goodreads

HOTT4-MerryFarmer-CoverKatie Boyle has known Aiden Murphy her whole life. Everyone expects them to marry someday, but as much as she cares for her lifelong friend, Katie wants more from life. She craves adventure and excitement, and doesn’t want to give in to the obvious choice. Heading west along the Oregon Trail is, in her mind, the beginning of the new life she has always wanted, and she intends to embrace it. But when she is abducted by a Cheyenne brave and taken to his village, she is in for more adventure than she bargained for.

Aiden has loved Katie for as long as he has known her, and is determined to win her, regardless of her protests. He has watched over her as she spread her wings without her ever knowing it. But his devotion is put to the test when Katie is taken. He risks everything to follow her and rescue her, only to end up as the center of attention in the Cheyenne village. His skill with music makes him an honored guest amongst the Indians, but can he save Katie before her fate is sealed forever?

Sometimes the man of your dreams is the man who has been there all along…

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Steam level – Hot

Get your copy on 
Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Add it to Goodreads

And don’t forget to check out the other books in the series: Trail of Kisses, Trail of Longing, and Trail of Hope…with more coming soon!

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Trail of Dreams … Coming Tomorrow!

Feb 15, 2015

HOTT4-Countdown-1days

Yesterday we started reading Chapter One of Trail of Dreams…. Let’s continue with that, shall we?

Aiden Murphy chuckled as Katie bristled. “My apologies, a ghrá,” he teased. “If you think you’ll find a dragon here in the great American West, then go right on looking.” His heart soared at the mental picture of Katie rushing across the prairie, pushing through the tall grass, turning over rocks, and rushing into the hills to search for dragons, lance in hand.

The Katie right in front of him humphed and twisted to glare at him. “The only dragon I see is the one stalking me from behind,” she clipped.

Aiden’s smile broadened. He loved her bullish frown. He loved the bright flush and warm freckles that kissed her cheeks. He loved the saucy tilt of her chin, the intoxicating sway of her hips as she walked, the bounce of her bright copper curls. He loved her.

“If I’m a dragon,” he met her barb for barb, “then you’d best beware. I might just breathe fire.” He was certainly hot enough for fire every time she was near.

“Is that what that terrible smell is?” she fired back with a toss of her curls.

Aiden laughed. His heart thumped against his ribs—like the dragon she’d accused him of being was trying to get out. “Aye, that’s the fire and brimstone that burns deep in my soul for you, a ghrá.”

“Ha,” Katie scoffed, though Aiden caught the flush in her cheeks deepening. “Are you such a lunk head that you can’t tell the difference between upset digestion and love?”

“I’ll admit,” Aiden fired back, sending Dean, walking beside him, a knowing glance, “love is upsetting.”

Dean chuckled and shook his head, an ironic smirk tweaking his mouth. Aiden wasn’t one to pry into another man’s troubles, but Dean had confided enough of his dealings with Miss Emma Sutton to him in the last week for him to know a thing or two about what lay behind the smirk.

“If love is so upsetting,” Katie went on over her shoulder, “then you should give it up.”

“What?” Aiden called to her. “Give up? Never. Heroes never give up.”

Katie laughed in earnest, giving Emma’s arm a squeeze. “See what I mean?” she said. “The daft man doesn’t even know he’s no hero.”

A chip of ice cut through Aiden’s good-humored grin. Lord, but Katie drove him mad sometimes. He couldn’t remember a time that he didn’t love her, stubbornness, prickles and all. But she did have a way of cutting him when he least expected it, all in the name of “friendly” banter. He consoled himself with the thought that one day—one day when Katie least expected it—he would hold her in his arms and kiss the prickles right out of her. Sooner rather than later, if it were up to him. Leaving Ireland may have been the best thing they could do to speed things along. They were in a new land with new dreams and new possibilities.

“What about you, Miss Emma?” He changed tack and tried to bring Dean’s sweetheart out of her shell. “Is love nothing more than a sour stomach?”

“Well… I….” Emma tripped over her own tongue.

Dean tensed just enough for Aiden to notice, his face pinching. “I think Emma is entitled to keep her opinion to herself,” he said. He followed that by murmuring so that only Aiden could hear, “Leave Emma out of this. She’s got enough to worry about at the moment.”

Aiden nodded. “I’m sure her thoughts are as pure and refreshing as she is,” he said with a smile. In the week since they’d met, Aiden had come to like and respect both Emma and Dean, and if his new friend declared his sweetheart off-limits from the teasing banter he was used to, he would honor that. “As for your thoughts, a ghrá,” he shifted back to Katie, “I think our good Father Daniel back in Ballymote is thanking his lucky stars he doesn’t have to hear your confession anymore.”

Katie laughed, full and throaty, sending a wave of desire through him that threatened to make it difficult to walk comfortably. “Now that he doesn’t have to hear your confession, Aiden Murphy, maybe he won’t fall asleep in the confessional anymore.”

“He only slept during my confession because he was exhausted after hearing yours,” Aiden shot back.

Katie humphed again and quickened her pace. She and Emma began to distance themselves from him and Dean.

“Did the priest really fall asleep while you were confessing?” Dean asked, smile broad.

“He did,” Aiden said. “The poor man’s eighty-two. He used to nap while the good folks of Ballymote poured out their sins to him. I heard Father James scold him about it once, but Father Daniel explained that if we all assumed he was asleep, we would confess more and find deeper absolution.”

Dean laughed aloud. “I’m sure you had your fair share of things to confess about Miss Katie.”

“Volumes,” Aiden laughed. “I’ve been having impure thoughts about her for half my lifetime, much good that it’s done me.”

Dean raised his brow. “That’s unusually gloomy for you.”

“Not at all,” Aiden continued to chuckle. He watched Katie’s back as she and Emma plowed ahead. “It all comes from your basic misunderstanding and complete bafflement over women and what they want.”

Dean grunted, smirk back in place. “You can say that again. I love her with all my heart, but I don’t understand a thing going on in Emma’s head.”

“No man can ever understand what goes on in a woman’s head,” Aiden agreed. “If we had the slightest inkling of what they think, if we could piece together the barest fragment of how they work, then like as not, we’d get overconfident and turn the world on its ear.”

“Still, it would be nice to know that we’re on the right path sometimes,” Dean said. He blew out a breath and dragged a hand through his hair.

“Ah, but we’re always on the right path if we’re on any path at all,” Aiden told him. He reached behind to lift his fiddle case off his back. His fingers always had an urge to play when his heart beat harder.

“How do you figure?” Dean asked. He held out his arms to hold the fiddle case while Aiden took the instrument out as they continued to walk.

“Well, we don’t know what’s going on in their minds, they don’t know what’s going on in our minds, so the only way to get two and two together is to keep moving forward.”

He lifted his precious fiddle out of its felt-lined case and smoothed his hand over the wood, plucking the strings to be sure it was in tune. A few turns of the tuning pegs and it was ready. He took up the bow, then nodded as Dean shut the case and slung it over his shoulder, carrying it like any good friend would.

“Take Katie Boyle, for example,” he continued, raising the fiddle to his chin and drawing the bow across the strings, producing a long, smooth note. He began a tune that started slow. “She’s quick to tell one and all that we’ve known each other our entire lives and are best of friends. She’s not at all shy about sharing stories of how inseparable we’ve been since I was in knickerbockers and she was in short skirts. She might not tell you about how I held her hair back while she was bent double over the rail giving her lunch back to the sea on our journey across the ocean, but she trusted me to clean her up when she was done. So she can argue all she wants, but one way or another, she’ll end up in my arms, and in my bed,” he added with a wink, pausing in his song.

As he started up again at a faster tempo, Dean laughed. “So you keep moving forward.”

“That is right, my friend.”

“No matter how many brambles and pitfalls await you on the path.”

“Absolutely.”

“And you think this way you’ll win the girl in the end.”

“I know it.” He played a quick flourish, fingers dancing across the strings with a distinctly Irish flare. “One way or another, Katie Boyle will be mine, to have and to hold, to kiss and to love, forever.”

He launched into a cheerful jig to match the skipping of his heart. Ahead of him, Katie burst into laughter over something she or Emma had said. The sunlight glittered off of her halo of curls. All was right with the world, or at least as right as it was going to get in that moment.

“Well, I wish you luck, my friend,” Dean said, thumping him lightly on the back. “Because I think you’re going to need it.”

 

Trail of Dreams will be out tomorrow!

Or you could go ahead and preorder your copy today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or iBooks.
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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 newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!