Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First Excerpt From Fatal Affair

To kick off Carina's 40-day count down to launch, I thought it was time to post an excerpt from Fatal Affair. I hope you enjoy this mini-introduction to Sam and Nick. Fingers crossed that you'll be seeing a lot of them in the future!

“Tell me about your life,” Sam said on an impulse.

Nick raised that swarthy eyebrow. “Who’s asking? The woman or the detective?”

She took a moment to appreciate his quick intelligence, remembering how attractive she had found that the first time she met him. “Both,” she confessed.

He glanced at her, and even though her eyes were on the road, she felt the heat of his gaze. “I work. A lot.”

“And when you’re not working?”

“I sleep.”

“No one—not even me—is that boring.”

He flashed her a funny, crooked grin that she caught out of the corner of her eye. “I try to get to the gym a couple of times a week.”

Judging from the ripped physique she had been pressed against the night before, he put those gym visits to good use. “And? No wives, girlfriends, social life?”

“No wife, no girlfriend. I play basketball with some guys on Sundays whenever I can. Sometimes we go out for beers afterward. Last summer, I played in the congressional softball league, but I missed more games than I made. Oh, and every other month or so, I have dinner with my father’s family in Baltimore. That’s about it.”

“Why haven’t you ever gotten married?”

“I don’t know. Just never happened.”

“Surely there had to have been someone you might’ve married.”

“There was this one girl...”

“What happened?”

“She never returned my calls.”

Shocked and speechless, Sam stared at him.

“You asked.”

Tearing her eyes off him, she accelerated through the last intersection before the turn for the public safety parking lot. “Don’t say that to me,” she snapped. “You don’t mean that.”

“Yes, I do.”

She pulled into a space and slammed the car into park.

He grabbed her arm to stop her from getting out. “Calm down.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.” She tugged her arm free of his grasp. “And save your cheesy lines for someone who’s buying. I don’t believe you anyway.”

“If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be so pissed right now.”

“Do you want to know what happened to your friend?”

With one blink, his hazel eyes shifted from amused to furious. “Of course I do.”

“Then you have to stop doing this to me. You’re winding me up in knots and pulling my eye off the ball. I need to be focused, one-hundred-percent focused on this case, and not on you!”

“What about when you’re off duty?” The teasing smile was back, but it didn’t steal the sadness from his eyes. “Can I wind you up in knots then?”


Fixated on the drab-looking public safety building, he sighed. “We’re about to go in there and take John’s parents to see him laid out on a cold slab, and yet, all I can think about right now is how badly I want to kiss you. What kind of a friend does that make me? To him or to you?”

His tone was so full of sadness and grief that Sam softened a bit. “You were a great friend to him, and in the last twenty-four hours, except for the whole kissing thing, you’ve been helpful to me, too. Can we keep it that way? Please?”

“I’m trying, Sam. Really I am, but I can’t help that I feel this incredible pull to you. I know you feel it, too. You felt it six years ago—as strongly as I did—and you still do, even if you don’t want to. If we had met again under different circumstances, can you tell me the same thing wouldn’t be happening between us?”

“I have to go in now.” Her firm tone hid her seesawing emotions. “His parents are probably waiting for me, and I don’t want to drag this out for them. Are you coming?”

“Yeah.” He opened the door. “I’m coming.”

Fatal Affair, coming June 21. Can't get here soon enough!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Year Later

Yesterday, my friend Kendra shared with us that her beloved dog Fizzy is nearing the end of his 13-year life. Hearing of her grief at the impending decision she and her husband face, brings back the sadness we dealt with this time last year as we watched our darling Consuela slowly slip away. Like it was for us, it's particularly difficult for Kendra to watch a loved one fail at a time of year when the world is awaking from a long winter's slumber.

A month ago tomorrow we welcomed Brandy the puppy into our home. It hasn't taken long for her to work her way into our hearts. I worried about whether I could love another dog as much as I loved Consuela. I've realized that I probably won't love Brandy the same way, but I already love her in a new way. I love that she has quickly figured out that when that big yellow bus shows up twice a day it comes bearing biscuits. I love how she finds a sock in one of the bedrooms, marches out to where we're gathered, and with a sideways glance, lets us know that it's GAME ON. It has, at times, taken all four of us to retrieve a sock from her clutches. I love how quickly she figured out the invisible fence and how she now spends hours in the warm sunshine. I love how she does NOT like the rain and gets annoyed when the drops fall on her soft coat. She despises putting her precious puppy paws in puddles. I love that she has NO FEAR when it comes to much bigger dogs. I call her Ballsy McBalls A Lot. She found the face fat of a Great Dane to be an awesome plaything. The big dog stood there with endless patience and let the little twit have her way with him. I don't think it occurred to Brandy that the Great Dane could've sent her into the middle of next week with one swing of the paw. Luckily, he didn't demonstrate that capability even though no one would've blamed him!

I love that she's nothing like Consuela or Roscoe, our other old friend who died at 14 in 2006. Rather, she's her own unique personality who has brought a blast of energy and laughter into our house. Now, if we could just make her civilized! She's a work in progress to be certain (Exhibit A: helping herself to cake from my niece's plate tonight), but we can already tell that she will be worth the effort. Brandy has taught us that life goes on even in the wake of an unimaginable loss. She has taught us that Consuela and Roscoe can't be replaced but their memory can be honored by the new friend we have taken into our home and our hearts.

On another note, it's tax day here in the U.S., but Rhode Island residents scored an extra month to file due to the epic flooding last month. It's also my dad's birthday. We jokingly called this his second "bonus" birthday after the life-threatening head injury last January. We're happy to still have him around and thankful that he is doing spectacularly well. Happy birthday, Dad!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fatal Affair Cover!

Good morning!
I finally got the go ahead to show off my new cover! I absolutely love what the Carina Press folks came up with for Fatal Affair. Here's the story blurb:

On the morning of the most important vote of Senator John O’Connor’s career he is late—again. His best friend and chief of staff, Nick Cappuano sets off to O'Connor’s apartment expecting to roust him from bed and hoping he is alone. But what Nick finds is that O’Connor, the handsome, amiable Senator from Virginia, has been brutally murdered, and Nick’s world comes crashing down around him. Complicating the disaster, the detective assigned to the case is none other than Sam Holland, Nick’s one-night stand from six years earlier, the woman who broke his heart and haunts his dreams. With six years worth of unfinished business hanging between them and more than a few scores to settle personally and professionally, Nick and Sam set out to find the senator's killer while trying—and failing—to resist the overwhelming attraction between them that seems to have only grown over the years.

It soon becomes clear that the Senator’s past holds secrets that not only led to his death but now endanger Nick and Sam as well. Working together to find a killer and to rediscover the love they thought they lost long ago, they must put the past behind them and build a future that offers a world of new opportunities for both of them—including an offer from the Virginia Democrats for Nick to finish the last year of John’s term.

Pre-order info coming soon!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Identify It, Own It, Fix It

So you’ve written your first book, polished it to sparkling perfection, and entered it into a few contests to get some feedback before beginning your agent search. Then the scores from the contests come back, a baffling mix of “love it!” and “hate it!” that leaves you scratching your head and looking for the common denominator. How is it possible that your novel isn’t setting the literary world on fire? Could it be that your manuscript contains one or more of the 15 most common problems new writers encounter along the journey to publication?

Are you dumping all your back story into the first five pages? Does your story begin in the wrong place? Do you know how point-of-view works? Have you never met a comma that didn’t vex you? If these challenges are holding you hostage in contests, you might not get the desired results when you begin submitting to agents and editors. But don’t despair! These issues can be addressed, and you can move forward with confidence that your manuscript is ready for prime time.

In my two-part class that begins on Monday, we’ll look at the most common challenges writers encounter that keep them from achieving their publication goals. For instance, does your voice match your genre? What does that even mean? Well, if you’re writing for the young adult market, for instance, you might want to find a young adult reader who can tell you if your language is current. I found out this week that saying “word” when you agree with someone is so last decade. I live with a soon-to-be fifteen-year-old who knows how kids talk. Unfortunately, I don’t write young adult. I probably should as I am living in a young adult laboratory at the moment!

How’s your blocking? Do your characters’ movements within a scene make sense? Are you forcing your readers out of your story to ask how he can possibly reach that from there? If your heroine is ripping your hero’s shirt off while he has his hand in her panties, your readers are going to say wait, how did she get that sleeve off without interrupting the goings on in her panties? You don’t want to force your readers out of the flow of the story by giving them reason to wonder how something is possible within the confines of a scene.

While we’re talking about panties, let’s consider purple prose. Throbbing members and steaming channels have no place in romance novels. There. I said it. If your love scenes are making readers, judges, agents, and editors go ewwwww, you might have a problem with purple prose. We can fix that with a few tweaks here and there that keep the emphasis on the emotion and the senses rather than the throbbing and steaming.

Whatever your challenge, identifying and owning it will save you time and trouble later. Check out View from the Judge’s Chair: What’s Holding You Back? Part 1 begins Monday at Story Stew University. As part of the class, we’ll review your first chapter and help you identify and fix these common problems. Hope to see you there!