Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oh Yes, I Can! (And News of Another Sale!)

In case you missed it yesterday at Carina Press. Go leave a comment to be entered into a prize drawing.

“You can’t write a romance series that features the same couple in every book. You just can’t.” I love the word “can’t.” I really do. Telling me I can’t do something is like dangling a red blanket in front of a bull. It just makes me want to scream CAN SO at the top of my lungs. But rather than getting mad after everyone and her sister told me I couldn’t do it, I decided to get even. I wrote FATAL AFFAIR, intending for it to launch a series featuring Washington, D.C. Police Lieutenant Sam Holland and her love interest, U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano. I worked hard in FATAL AFFAIR to surround Sam and Nick with a rich cast of supporting characters, and I put them in a city that will provide endless sources of story and conflict for my fearless duo as well as their friends and family.

I wrote that book, I loved that book, and my agent loved it, too. Knowing the series idea would be a tough sell to romanceland, I decided to start book 2 just to make sure I could get this plan to work the way I thought it would. (Another no-no in the writing world: starting book 2 before you sell book 1. Did someone say, “can’t”? Hmmm, thought so.) We put FATAL AFFAIR out on submission and guess what we were told? You just can’t write a romance series featuring the same couple in every book. You can’t. Ouch. I mean, I knew it, but I still hoped someone might be willing to take a teeny tiny risk that maybe, just maybe, I COULD write a series featuring the same couple in every book. That maybe, just maybe, rabid romance readers would connect with this couple and want more, more, more! That maybe, just maybe, as a rabid romance reader myself, I knew what it took to make this work.

Meanwhile, back at book 2, I was finding it downright difficult to keep up the conflict in the relationship of my newly in love couple. You know that stage—the rose-color glasses phase when everything is hunky dory? Well, of course I couldn’t let them be TOO happy, now could I? I was 50,000 words into FATAL JUSTICE and being challenged like I’d never been challenged before when I got the official word that FATAL AFFAIR hadn’t sold. What’s a girl to do? Well, scream and yell and punch a few things (not people, don’t worry, although I did give my kids a heads up that it was a good day to steer clear of Mom :-) . After the hissy fit subsided, my mulish Irish pride kicked in, and I set out to finish that second book.

After a significant amount of bone marrow and brain matter was donated to the cause, I finished with a scene that is probably my all-time favorite in any of my books. It took me a full year to write FATAL JUSTICE—four times longer than it took to write FATAL AFFAIR—and I finished with tears on my face because before I even wrote the words “THE END,” this book I loved with my all my heart was dead on arrival. No one would ever see it. A year later, I sold FATAL AFFAIR to Carina, which opened its doors promising to blow the lid off the publishing world. And last week, on the fifth anniversary of the day I wrote “THE END” for the very first time in my life, Carina bought FATAL JUSTICE—eighteen months after the DOA day. Guess what? OH YES, I CAN!

I couldn’t be more delighted to have found a home for these two books, and hopefully more to come in this series. I couldn’t be more delighted to be working with editors who can see the potential and possibilities for Sam, Nick, and their cast of supporting characters (yes, I’m talking to you, Angela James and Jessica Schulte!). I couldn’t be more delighted to be working with the savvy, professional, incredibly author-centric group behind Carina as well as the Harlequin team supporting this effort. Every aspect of my association with Carina has been a delight. And how about that cover? Whoa! They gave me everything I asked for and then some!

So what’s FATAL AFFAIR all about? Come back later today to read a brief synopsis as well as a never-before-seen excerpt. And when someone tells you that you can’t do something? Do it anyway. You just never know where it will lead you.

And a never-before-seen excerpt:

“Do you want some help cleaning up?” Sam asked Nick when they were alone.

“That’s all right. I can do it.”

He stood and extended a hand to help her up.

Sam took his hand, but when she tried to let go, he tightened his grip.

Startled, she looked up at him.

“I’m sorry I dragged you over here for nothing.”

“It wasn’t nothing—” Her words got stuck in her throat when he ran a finger over her cheek. His touch was so light she would have missed it if she hadn’t been staring at him.

“You’re tired.”

She shrugged, her heart slamming around in her chest. “I haven’t been sleeping too well lately.”

“I read all the coverage of what happened. It wasn’t your fault, Sam.”

“Tell that to Quentin Johnson. It wasn’t his fault, either.”

“His father should’ve put his son’s safety ahead of saving his crack stash.”

“I was counting on the fact that he would. I should’ve known better. How someone could put their child in that kind of danger… I’ll just never understand it.”

“I’m sorry it happened to you. It broke my heart to read about it.”

Sam found it hard to look away. “I, um…I should go.”

“Before you do, there’s just one thing I really need to know.”

“What?” she whispered.

He released her hand, cupped her face and tilted it to receive his kiss.

As his lips moved softly over hers, Sam summoned every ounce of fortitude she possessed and broke the kiss. “I can’t, Nick. Not during the investigation.” But oh how she wanted to keep kissing him!

“I was dying to know if it would be like I remembered.”

Her eyes closed against the onslaught of emotions. “And was it?”

“Even better,” he said, going back for more.

“Wait. Nick. Wait.” She kept her hand on his chest to stop him from getting any closer. “We can’t do this. Not now. Not when I’m in the middle of a homicide investigation that involves you.”

“I didn’t do it.” He reached up to release the clip that held her hair and combed his fingers through the length as it tumbled free.

Unnerved by the intimate gesture, she stepped back from him. “I know you didn’t, but you’re still involved. I’ve got enough problems right now without adding an inappropriate fling with a witness to the list.”

“Is that what it would be?” His eyes were hot, intense and possibly furious as he stared at her. “An inappropriate fling?”

“No,” she said softly. “Which is another reason why it’s not a good idea to start something now.”

He moved closer to her. “It’s already started, Sam. It started six years ago, and we never got to finish it. This time, I intend to finish it. Maybe not right now, but eventually. I was a fool to let you slip through my fingers the first time. I won’t make that mistake again.”

Startled by his intensity, Sam took another step back. “I appreciate the warning, but it might be one of those things that’s better left unfinished. We both have a lot going on—”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, handing her the hair clip.

Sam felt his eyes on her back as she went to the door and let herself out. All the way home, her lips burned from the heat of his kiss.

Fatal Affair, June 21, from Carina Press!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rules of the Walk by Brandy Force, Puppy to the Stars

Brandy's Walking Rule No. 1: When approaching a sign or post and the person walking me goes left, I believe in taking the road less traveled. Always. Can someone tell me what the term "clothes-lining" means? My mom says that a lot.

Brandy's Walking Rule No. 2: If there's a choice between pooping in a private, abandoned field or dropping a smoker on a high school field next to a game in progress WHILE the groundskeeper looks on, I will always pick the crowded field because, when a girl's gotta go, a girl's gotta go. And you know, I do so love a good game. (Mom says BAD words when I do this and she has to pick it up. BAD BAD words that I can't repeat because I'm still a baby.)

Brandy's Walking Rule No. 3: They call a leash a leash. I say it's a toy to be wrestled with while walking. I have perfected a very special trick called "ass over teakettle" that is NOT to be tried at home. Only a trained professional should attempt this death-defying trick. And, I've found it's best to NOT do this trick DIRECTLY in front of Mom because, you know, she is known for tripping and falling when there's nothing in front of her, let alone a suddenly flipped 35-pound puppy who thinks the whole thing is quite funny. More bad words. Bad, bad words.

Brandy's Walking Rule No. 4: ALL people and dogs are to be greeted the Brandy way. Who is this animal control officer Mom speaks of? She expects him to be waiting for us when we get home one day. Should I be worried?

Brandy's Walking Rule No. 5: All trash encountered along the walk is to be tasted, and when necessary, transported. When you live near a high school, the trash is particularly tasty. Mom has issues with this habit, too. (She's kind of a drag, but don't tell her I said so because, you know, she feeds me and stuff.)

Brandy's Walking Rule No. 6: Roads are made to be walked in the middle of. Those big things on wheels need to get out of MY way, not the other way around. Don't they know who I AM? Some respect please.

Brandy's Walking Rule No. 7: What is a snap-on tool? Mom says her arm is not one of these things. She claims it is permanently joined to her body and she'd prefer it stay that way. Can someone please explain this concept to me cuz I got things to do and places to be. She's holding me back, man.

And here I am inspecting my recent work on the welcome mat. Rectangles are highly overrated in my humble opinion. Looks much better now, don't you think? Kind of avant garde. I think I have a future as a decorator. (Mom's sporting a jazzy toe color, isn't she?)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jazzy Cool from Carina

These ladies produce the coolest promo "toys" for their authors. Check this out:

If you come back every day, it will offer up new info! So make sure to check it out frequently for news about upcoming releases and giveaways. I am working on reviews, the blog tour and gearing up for an exciting launch for Fatal Affair. I can't wait to get this book out there and to connect once again with so many readers who have become friends over the last few years. June 21 is right around the corner, so mark your calendar!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Motherhood: The Ultimate Paradox

Yesterday, we celebrated Mother's Day. Cynical people like to chalk up these days to just another holiday invented by the card companies to generate sales. I tend to be as cynical as the next gal, but I have to say, I love Mother's Day. I love that we set aside a day in May to honor the Moms and a day in June to do the same for the Dads. I mean who, on this EARTH, gives more to others than parents? And the giving never ends. You give birth, you do your best to raise them into active, functioning members of society, and then you stand back, ready to roll up your sleeves to help whenever your adult children need you. Parenthood never ends, at least it never did/has for my parents and it certainly won't for me. I look forward to everything still to come with my kids. Sometimes I can't believe I was blessed with these two smart, funny, beautiful, sarcastic (gee, where does THAT come from?) people in my life.

On Saturday, I put Emily on a flight that would deliver her to her dad in Indianapolis (he had to go a day earlier—long story). So of course Saturday dawns stormy and dark, and I am a bundle of nerves over the whole thing. Emily tells me to RE-LAX. It'll all be fine. As I watched her breeze through security like she does it every day, I realized she was right. It would be fine. I was the problem, not her. She arrived at the mid-point in Baltimore and called to say part 1 was finished. How was it? I asked. "We experienced some turbulence," she replied in a blase tone. Were you scared? I asked. "Um, no, but you would've been." LOL! Yes, my children know me and yes, they can be sarcastic like their mother. Why am I oddly proud of that?

I was left to celebrate Mother's Day with just Jake, who did a fine job of delivering the cards, chocolate and plants his father had bought for me and to place on my mother's grave. This was my sixth Mother's Day without my own mom, and she would've loved the fact that I arrived at the cemetery just as they were closing the gates at 4 p.m. I went back again at 4:50 p.m. today and discovered they really mean that 4 p.m. closing time. I hope I get an A for effort, but seriously, how much of a loser does this double denial make me? My mother, who loved a good laugh, must certainly be enjoying my cemetery ineptitude. I'll try again tomorrow.

Mothers everywhere know it's the hardest and best job we'll ever do. I remember Bill Clinton once said that being president meant nothing to him when stacked up against being a parent. Love him or hate him, he seems to have had a hand in raising a nice kid. Who among us wouldn't be satisfied to say the same thing? Motherhood, however, can be a journey of soaring highs and crushing lows. I experienced both yesterday. My oldest cousin, Ann Marie, became a first-time grandmother on Mother's Day. I thought it was so cool that her daughter Marissa really delivered a gift that her mother will never forget, and Ann Marie said it was by far her best Mother's Day ever. Then this morning I read with horror on Facebook that an old friend from the Spain days had lost her 21-year-old daughter yesterday in a freak accident, just two days after her daughter graduated magna cum laude from college.

Nothing will raise you up or bring you low quite like motherhood. Welcome to Jonathan Michael Riley, the newest member of my large extended family, and God bless the family of Samantha Cawthorne.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hodge Podge

Good news today from publisher no. 1: they've settled on the name for the third contemporary. Everybody Loves a Hero! I love this name, which is absolutely perfect for the book. Here's the blurb, in case you haven't seen it:

Everybody loves a hero. That's the problem.
Hero pilot Cole Langston is learning to live with—and enjoy—his newfound fame and the rabid female attention that comes with it until a lucky punch knocks some sense into him and opens his eyes to true love.
When his copilot suffers a heart attack in flight, Cole lands the jetliner in a blizzard and revives the stricken captain. Catapulted to national hero status, Cole has more women vying for his attention than he knows what to do with. They all have one thing in common: they try without success to bring this happy-go-lucky pilot down to earth. Then comes an airport altercation, a punch to the face, and the lovely Olivia—a shy, timid artist who does what no other woman has ever managed to do: steal Cole's well-protected heart. With women coming on to him everywhere they go, Olivia struggles to believe that Cole is ready for a committed relationship. His biggest problem is getting rid of all his extra ladies before the only one he wants figures out that she's one of many.

Looking forward to getting this book out there next spring! I hope you'll enjoy it.

Let's see... what else? I am very sad for my good friends in Nashville this week. The images of the flooding are just heartbreaking. I was so looking forward to returning to Nashville for RWA's conference this summer, but now it appears it will be relocated. That is the least of the concerns, however, when stacked against the human tragedy unfolding there and in the Gulf Coast region, another of my favorite places to visit. I was in New Orleans last June for the first time since Katrina, and thought the city seemed to be doing well and coming back strong. And now this...

I'm also sad to mark the one-year anniversary since my darling Consuela died. It's hard to believe it's already been a year since we lost her happy face and sweet disposition. The puppy known as Brandy has helped to lift our spirits, but we still miss "Lala" every day. I hope she is up there in the happy hunting ground giggling at the antics of her successor, who is giving us a run for our money. I think Consuela and Roscoe sent Brandy to us to remind us of how very good we once had it. Not that we needed any reminder!