Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back at 2012, Looking Ahead to 2013 #HappyNewYear

The end of the year is always a great time to reflect on all that's come and all that's yet to be. Here's where those reflections took me:

Looking Back at 2012:

Man, it was an absolutely incredible year for me. So many things happened that I never, ever would've predicted. Some highlights of the year included:

~ Hitting the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists in November with One Night with a Hero and Her Forbidden Hero, and earning a spot on the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll! Thank you to my readers and to Entangled Publishing for that amazing, humbling moment!

~ Having all of the following happen within the span of three weeks: get approached out of the blue by two New York publishers, get signed by an agent, whip up a brand new series idea (Hard Ink, contemporary romance), submit it to New York publishers and get multiple offers, and finally sell it in pre-empt, in a major deal, to a New York publisher (Avon/HarperCollins). All during the first three weeks of teaching after being on sabbatical last spring. Talk about a head-spinning, speech-stealing, dreamlike month! And talk about a whole lotta luck. I'm so incredibly grateful.

~ Publishing three full-length novels (Her Forbidden Hero, One Night with a Hero, West of Want) and two novellas  (In the Service of the King, Seduced by the Vampire King), and selling nine other books! It's an amazing feeling to be able to do what you love. Truly.

~ Engaging in my first co-authoring project with the ever fantastic Stephanie Dray (aka Stephanie Draven). And, heh, writing in a new genre to boot (historical fiction! yes, I know, it seems totally out of left field...and it sorta kinda is, except that I'm a historian by training...). This has been an amazing experience and I can't wait til we finish knocking out a draft! Steph rocks!

~ Cementing some incredible friendships with other authors, especially my Maryland Romance Writers partners-in-crime - you know who you are! xoxo!

~ With the help of Carla Gallway (<= made of awesome!) of Book Monster Reviews, getting a street team (Laura's Heroes) set up and off the ground - what an incredible group of ladies I have standing beside me! I appreciate them so much!

~ Attending the Romantic Times Convention for the first time ever! I had a total blast and am looking forward to Kansas City 2013 and meeting more of my fantastic readers!

~ Getting interviewed by my local newspaper for a feature, then learning the editor-in-chief had decided to run the story on page one, and then learning that the Associated Press had picked it up for national distribution. Gah!

~ Taking a leave from my day job to write full-time for the next year, and then maybe for good! *fingers crossed!*

Looking Ahead to 2013:

~ Here's what I know I need to do: write 3-5 full-length novels and two novellas. I'm trying not to think of these collectively, because I'm totally willing to admit to being overwhelmed by my writing schedule over the next year. So I'm trying my hardest to take these one at a time and keep as strictly as I can to my daily writing goal of 3,000 words a day. This is a good problem to have, I definitely get that. But I don't want to muck it all up! LOL

~ Here's some things I'd really like to do: finish drafting my historical fiction with Stephanie; take better care of myself physically and get back into a regular exercise routine; get way, way, WAY more sleep than I currently do; spend more time with my daughters and not feel pulled to go work; and not feel like every spare minute of free time should be devoted to some work-related activity => much of this could be boiled down to better BALANCE. I'm a work in progress where that's concerned.

~ Here's some things I'm really looking forward to: finishing the Anemoi series, the Vampire Warrior Kings series, and maybe the Heroes series - not because I want to be done with them, but because I know how much readers enjoy a completed series, and because I can't wait to see them all lined up on my shelves! *grins* I'm also nearly beside myself with anticipation to see my cover for HARD AS IT GETS (Hard Ink #1). I'm getting not only a cover, but a stepback, which is a second, inside cover with a different image. Meep!!! I'm also dying for this book to release (confirmed: November 2013), BUT, you know, first I have to write it!

I'm sure there are a million things I've forgotten to note as 2012 highlights or 2013 goals, but these are the ones that stand out the most. Overall, I find myself facing the new year filled with gratitude to all of you and hope and faith that more great things are yet to come - although, 2013 has its job cut out for it, because 2012 totally rocked! And thank you for that!

What do you see when you look back, and look ahead?

Thanks for reading, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Touching Reunion from #OneNightwithaHero #SixSunday

Happy last Sunday of 2012, everyone! Today, I've got a heartfelt six from the reunion moment in One Night with a Hero. Enjoy!
Brady reached out, then quickly withdrew his hand and lifted his gaze to hers. 

Joss pulled his hand back and placed it on her no-longer-flat belly. 

Awe. Sheer and total. It was the only word he had for the emotions that flooded through him as he touched her for the first time in months and his child for the first time ever. 

He looked into Joss’s bright-green eyes and so many things competed to be said at once that he said nothing at all.
Buy at Amazon | B&N

Be sure to check out the Other Sixers' Posts and follow the #sixsunday hashtag on twitter. Thanks for reading and hopefully commenting, too!

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Little Voting Help Please, with a Sexy Hero on Top?

I'm very honored to be up for some end-of-the-year awards, and I would be so appreciative if you could take a moment to vote! These kinds of honors really mean a lot to authors, at least I know that's true for me! 

Here's the deal: 
I'm up for a total of 11 2012 Readers' Choice Awards at GraveTells - voting through midnight EST 12/28:

I'm in second place for a lot of these, so your vote will definitely count!

Favorite Heroine (Ella Raines, West of Want)
Hottest Couple (Kael and Shayla, In the Service of the King)
Most Memorable Sidekick (Chrysander, West of Want)
Most Memorable Book (West of Want)
Favorite Novella (In the Service of the King)
Sexiest Story (In the Service of the King)
Most Outstanding Series (Vampire Warrior Kings)
Best Cover Artwork (West of Want)
Favorite Author
Most Engaging Author
Best Collaborative Interview

Her Forbidden Hero is up for Sizzling Read of the Year - voting through 12/31

Thanks so much for considering, and thanks to everyone who has already voted!



All right, now, did you vote? Great! Just let me know which sexy hero you want on top:

Caden Grayson from Hearts in Darkness?

Marco Vieri from Her Forbidden Hero?

Brady Scott from One Night with a Hero?

Owen Winters from North of Need?

Zephyros Martius from West of Want?

As always, I aim to please! *grins*

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wherein I tell my readers what they mean to me...

In case you didn't see this when it first appeared on Herding Cats & Burning Soup, I wanted to repost, just to be sure...

An Open Letter to My Readers

I’ve just wrapped up my blog tour for my newest contemporary romance, One Night with a Hero. This book, my ninth, was the first one I ever had hit the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists, and I was just so utterly thrilled. And who do I have to thank for that? Well, a lot of people. I have maybe the world’s best editor. And I’ve got great critique partners. And I have a hugely supportive family. And I can’t overstate the importance of any of them. But who I really have to thank is you. My readers. And that’s what I want to talk about today.

Do you realize what you do for authors? What you mean to them? I’ll tell you.

You make me want to do my job. With every tweet you send me telling me you loved a book. With every Facebook post where you ask me when I’m going to write a sequel to that book you’re just dying for more of. With every message you send me asking if there’s going to be more to a series. With every review you leave. With every squee you share with me and milestone you celebrate with me and “good job” you say to me, you make me want to do my job.

And not only that, you make me want to do my job better. If you love a book, I hope I can make you love the next one even more. And what a challenge this has been with Hearts in Darkness being my first book. I mean, I know, for some of you there will never be anyone better than Caden Grayson. And that’s okay. Because even if I never surpass him, for you, you’re going to make me try. And I’m going to be a better writer for the effort. And if you don’t love a book, I’m going to do everything I can to win you over next time around. Either way, with your love and your criticism, you push me to do more, to be more, and I feel like I’m always learning. And it’s such an exciting, fulfilling thing to experience.

You also make me love my job. In fact, I love it so much, I don’t even think of it as work. Sometimes, when I’m out doing something totally fun, something I love, I’ll still find myself thinking, man, I wish I could finish that chapter. You do that for me. You’ve made it that way for me. Because you care about my stories and my characters, you’ve made it so that something I love has meaning. And that’s the best feeling in the world. Who could ask for more than that? Not me.

You make me feel like I’m a part of something much bigger than myself. Readers and authors, we’re a community of people who all love the same thing. We get excited about the same thing. We squee, we stalk, we talk fictional boyfriends, we drool over cover art, we cry when a series we love ends, we stand in line at midnight book releases, we whine because it’s still three freaking months and eight days until Lover at Last releases, and WE. ALL. GET. IT. And that’s an amazing thing, being a part of something with other people. Everything is more meaningful when you share it with others. And you make that happen, for me.

So, I just wanted you to know that I’m filled with gratitude to each and every one of you. Truly. YOU are the best Christmas present I could ever have.

I wish you the happiest holiday evah.

With love,

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Miss Joss is kissing Santa Claus!" #SixSunday #OneNightwithaHero

Happy Sunday everyone! And Merry almost Christmas to everyone who celebrates! I've got a fun, romantic, holiday six from One Night with a Hero! Enjoy! 
Brady tugged the beard free of his mouth and kissed her.

Murmurs filled the ballroom around them. He knew he’d broken character, but no way he could hold back from claiming this woman a single second longer.

“Miss Joss is kissing Santa Claus!” a little girl’s voice called out.

The room erupted in laughter. The band didn’t miss a beat and broke into “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” the crowd singing along.
Buy at Amazon | B&N

Be sure to check out the Other Sixers' Posts and follow the #sixsunday hashtag on twitter. Thanks for reading and hopefully commenting, too!


Friday, December 21, 2012

The Twelve Days of Deadline Hell: An Ode for Authors

On the first day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the second day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 2 candy bars and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the third day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 3 headaches, 2 candy bars, and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the fourth day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 4 Angry Birds, 3 headaches, 2 candy bars, and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the fifth day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 5 HOURS ON TWITTER!, 4 Angry Birds (all right! high score!), 3 headaches, 2 candy bars, and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the sixth day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 6 naps a taking, 5 HOURS ON TWITTER! (#1k1hr's, that was it, I swear), 4 Angry Birds, 3 headaches, 2 candy bars, and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the seventh day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 7 nights no sleeping, 6 naps a taking, 5 HOURS ON TWITTER! (oh, look, a new review!), 4 Angry Birds, 3 headaches, 2 candy bars, and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the eighth day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 8 blogs a hopping, 7 nights no sleeping, 6 naps a taking, 5 HOURS ON TWITTER! (did you read that post on...), 4 Angry Birds, 3 headaches, 2 candy bars (and some M&Ms), and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the ninth day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 9,000 words a writing, 8 blogs a hopping, 7 nights no sleeping, 6 naps a taking, 5 HOURS ON TWITTER! (Good morning! Congrats! Thank you! #FF! #SixSunday!), 4 Angry Birds, 3 headaches, 2 candy bars, and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the tenth day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 10 Oh my Gods, what do I do? What do I do? Holy crap I'm in so much trouble!, 9,000 words a writing, 8 blogs a hopping, 7 nights no sleeping, 6 naps a taking, 5 HOURS ON TWITTER! (come on, they were talking about the Black Dagger Brotherhood, what did you expect me to do???), 4 Angry Birds, 3 headaches, 2 candy bars, and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the eleventh day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 11K words fast drafted, 10 Oh my Gods, what do I do? What do I do? Holy crap I'm in so much trouble!, 9,000 words a writing, 8 blogs a hopping, 7 nights no sleeping, 6 naps a taking, 5 HOURS ON TWITTER! (actually, it was 5 hours on Facebook...Man Wars!!! Woot!), 4 Angry Birds, 3 headaches, 2 candy bars, and an awesome, evil plot bunny

On the twelfth day of deadline hell, my stress level gave to me, 12 editor emails, 11K words fast drafted, 10 Oh my Gods, what do I do? What do I do? Holy crap I'm in so much trouble!, 9,000 words a writing, 8 blogs a hopping, 7 nights no sleeping, 6 naps a taking, 5 HOURS ON TWITTER! (Hey! They were rewards for writing!), 4 Angry Birds, 3 headaches, 2 candy bars, and an awesome, evil plot bunny 

Can I get an amen??? Who else is singing this right now???

Well, if you are, I wish you all the best! Happy holidays everyone! Thanks for reading (singing???),


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stephanie Draven is In Bed with the Opposition - and there's room for you!

Welcome Guest Author
Stephanie Draven
to the blog today!
See below for her giveaway!

I'm thrilled to welcome Stephanie Draven, my good friend, writing partner, and fellow Maryland Romance Writer, to my place today. She's got a fun excerpt and a giveaway for you, and I want to say this: I've read this book and it is so good. I hope you'll check it out!

What happens when a good girl decides to play dirty?

Armed with a sassy haircut, a sharp wit, and a personal list of rules for all life’s exigencies, Grace Santiago is a fiercely loyal Senate staffer who has everything under control. At least until famous political pundit Ethan Castle walks back into her life. Grace hasn’t forgotten their disastrous affair in law school, but she can’t resist his bad boy charm.

When Grace learns that Ethan has been hired as a political gunslinger for the other side, her loyalties—and her heart—are torn in two. Though their sexual chemistry can’t be denied, they find themselves locked in political combat. Ethan believes that all is fair in love and war, but he won’t throw the election—not even to win Grace’s heart. So what can a good girl like Grace do, but learn to play dirty?

Two candidates. One election. May the best man—or woman—win!

In spite of Grace's zealotry for holidays, she just couldn't get into the Christmas spirit this year. After the Thanksgiving debacle with Blain, she’d dutifully decorated her apartment in twinkling lights and put up a miniature tree, but then she’d promptly caught a cold and now all she wanted to do was sleep.

Mama brought over chicken tortilla soup. Molly stopped by and made her choke down Theraflu. Even Thurgood made himself useful by curling up in the blankets with her like a mini space heater.

The first time she and Blain had broken up back in high school, she'd cried her eyes out for a month. The second time was even worse. By the third or fourth time, she'd learned to cope. This time she wasn't crying at all. While sucking on a cough drop, she wondered why that was.

Shouldn’t she be more upset? Maybe she couldn’t cry because the virus had sapped all her fluids. Or maybe she was simply too annoyed. Blain had implied she’d always been too inhibited for him. Well, if that was true, Blain should’ve known exactly why. When she let herself get out of control, bad things happened. Bad things, like blackmail…

Blowing her nose for about the thousandth time, Grace wished she could be back at work, because that was the only thing that made sense in her life anymore. That’s what she should be concentrating on anyway. She didn’t have a law degree because she’d lost her head over a man; she’d be damned if she let her disaster of a love life derail her career again.

With a pile of books on one side of the bed and a wastebasket of tissues on the other, Grace tried to make sense of the new changes to the environmental bill. Even though the words swam before her eyes, she managed to make a few notes in the margins before the phone rang.

The minute she heard the voice on the other end, a swarm of butterflies fluttered madly in her belly. She hadn’t thought that she’d hear from him again; now she realized how glad she was to have been wrong.

“You sound groggy,” Ethan said.

Stay calm, she told herself. Stay cool. “I have the death flu,” Grace sniffled into the phone. “So…what’s up?”

“I miss you.”

Grace’s heart squeezed and, quite suddenly, with a delirium she could only blame on the cough medicine, she asked, “What are your thoughts on Pocahontas?”

He paused as if trying to decide if she were sane. “Unfortunate victim of Stockholm Syndrome? According to her tribe, she was kidnapped by colonists and forced to shill for Big Tobacco.”

Grace was dubious. “That's not the Disney version.”

She could almost hear him smirk. “Are you gonna believe a mouse or me?”

Grace laughed, sneezed, then pushed the mute button on the phone so she could blow her nose. When she returned, Ethan was all serious. “Grace, listen. I held out as long as I could, and if you don’t feel the same way, I won’t call you again, but I’ve been thinking about you a lot.”

She'd been thinking about him, too. So much so that everything with Blain had felt wrong. Ethan was in her mind even when she was kissing someone else, but how could she find room in her life for a political grifter? “I just don’t want to get involved with something that can’t go anywhere.”

“People get involved in long-distance relationships all the time.”

“I know, but…my dad was never around. The separation was hard on everyone. When you can't be there in person—”

“But I am here in person. I’m here to take you out for waffles.” He laughed and if she didn’t know better, she’d swear he sounded nervous. “This isn't going to help my stalker reputation, but I just got finished taping a show in Atlanta and instead of flying back to my apartment in Los Angeles, I thought I’d catch a flight to Baltimore to see you. Are you healthy enough to meet me at the diner?”

Flattered and mildly horrified, she wondered if she were having some kind of strange dream. “You can't just get on a plane and fly in to see me...”

“Why not?”

Grace flailed. “Because it’s—it's kind of nuts!”

“If you were advising a losing candidate and all conventional methods weren't working, what would you suggest?”

“I'm not a campaign manager—”

“Pretend,” Ethan insisted.

“I'd tell him to try something unconventional.”

“Exactly. Flying in to take you to breakfast is my bold new campaign strategy. How's it polling?”

Grace counted up the voters in her room. “Well, in a representative sample, one out of two voters approve.”

Ethan took umbrage. “Only one out of two? Who is the holdout?”

“Thurgood. You're losing the orange tabby cat demographic.”

“I’m marking him down as undecided,” Ethan said optimistically.  

Buy at Amazon | B&N
Coming in January!
Stephanie Draven is a multi-published award-nominated author of myth-inspired paranormal romance, sexy contemporaries, and historical erotic romance. Currently a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies, Stephanie lives there with her favorite nocturnal creatures–three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books. Stephanie also writes historical fiction as Stephanie Dray.

One commenter who leaves their email address will win an ebook of In Bed with the Opposition. What to comment? Did you have a favorite line from the excerpt? Open to international. Giveaway ends midnight EST on 12/26. Good luck!

Now, leave Steph some comment love! And thanks so much for reading!


Monday, December 17, 2012

My Readers Rock. That is All. Here's one reason why...

As if I needed any further proof that my readers are the absolute best...

As if I needed any more reasons to celebrate everything that they've made possible for me...

Look what some of them have sent me over the past months:

T-shirts from my good friend Carolyn Locke

Key chain from Crystal at Reading Between the Wines -- check out all her book creations!

Knitted Plot Bunny from Carin Walker (Joya Fields got one, too!) Great meeting Carin at the Baltimore Book Festival!

Incredible hand-painted plate w/Anemoi & BDB designs by Amy Rios; Amy also sent me the "cross in your pocket," below - how sweet is that???

Embroidered ornaments from Kim Sowards! Great meeting her at Ukazoo Bookstore in Towson, MD!

Scarf made by Linda E. of A Novel Idea Bookstore, Vineland, NJ, who discovered I am a scarf addict! Had a great time visiting her store! Can't wait to go back!

Tracy Matthews made this & another shirt for me to sign! How cool! Great meeting her at the Baltimore Book Festival!

Sharon Saracino is such a sweetheart! And this rosary is just gorgeous! She also brought me some delicious liquid libations, ahem, to a booksigning in Carlisle, PA! *grins*

 These incredible, hand-painted candles arrived today -- thank you so much Petra Ybarra!


So, you can see why I'm loving pretty hard on my readers today! Thanks to all of you for your incredible generosity and thoughtfulness. Each and everyone of you makes me love and cherish what I get to do so very much!

Thanks for visiting,

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Brady has Joss up against a wall... #SixSunday #OneNightwithaHero

Happy Sunday! I'm giving away three signed paperbacks on the Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop, so check my post out! Today I've got six from my contemporary romance, One Night with a Hero. Here we go...

Brady pushed her back one step, another, until her spine encountered the wall beside the front door.

Joss was instantly wet, even as the certainty coursed through her that this was a bad idea, a bad way to resolve whatever was troubling Brady so deeply. But another part of her yearned to comfort him, to help him forget, to give him a hand over whatever yawning emotional gorge he was staring down, even if for only a short while. Stupid, given what he’d done the last time she’d entertained such feelings. But she hadn’t yet been able to resist him.

And now that she carried his baby, it was harder than ever.
Buy at Amazon | B&N

Be sure to check out the Other Sixers' Posts and follow the #sixsunday hashtag on twitter. Thanks for reading and hopefully commenting, too!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Hold a hero in your hand! How's that for #HolidayLove?

Welcome to my stop on the Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop!

The theme of this hop so perfectly fits my newest contemporary romance, One Night with a Hero, that I just had to share exactly how!

Holidays - One Night with a Hero's story is defined by holidays, actually. Brady Scott and Joss Daniels meet at a park waiting for Labor Day fireworks to start. Important moments and revelations in their relationship happen on Halloween and Thanksgiving, and they find their happily ever after at a Christmas party in a moment filled with romance, love, and laughter. If you like holidays, One Night with a Hero delivers!

Gifts - After Brady messes up - big time - he needs a way to make it up to Joss and prove to her he's in this for the long haul. And so he starts leaving her gifts, one a week, on her doorstep, to let her know he's thinking of her and wanting to be involved. Gah! Totally romantic!

Love - Of course, Brady and Joss find their happily ever after. But what I most enjoyed about writing this love story is that they're two people who hadn't received enough love in their lives, who never expected to find it, and who had nearly given into the idea that they weren't worth loving. For me, that makes their journey so much sweeter, because the love they find is such a revelation to both of them.
About One Night with a Hero:

He wants just one night…

After growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father, Army Special Forces Sgt. Brady Scott vowed never to marry or have kids. Sent stateside to get his head on straight—and his anger in check—Brady’s looking for a distraction. He finds it in his beautiful new neighbor’s one-night-only offer for hot sex, but her ability to make him forget is addictive. Suddenly, Brady’s not so sure he can stay away.

…what they need is each other.

Orphaned as a child, community center director Joss Daniels swore she’d never put herself in a position to be left behind again, but she can’t deny herself one sizzling night with the sexy soldier who makes her laugh and kisses her senseless. When Joss discovers she’s pregnant, Brady’s rejection leaves her feeling abandoned. Now, they must overcome their fears before they lose the love and security they’ve found in each other, but can they let go of the past to create a future together?
Now, how about those giveaways?! I have three books with Christmas scenes and romance in them, so I'm giving away a signed paperback of each! Just complete the Rafflecopter form below! Open to international! Good luck!

  • NORTH OF NEED is award-winning fantasy romance based on Greek mythology! WINNER: ANNA CH
  • FOREVER FREED is award-winning vampire romance! WINNER: WENDY N. ROBERTS
  • ONE NIGHT WITH A HERO is a New York Times & USA Today bestseller! WINNER: GABBY NAVARO

But wait, there's more! There are THREE grand prizes for the hop! At each blog you visit, leave a comment with your email address and be entered to win! That means you can enter over 200 times!

1st Grand Prize: Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: $200 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: Swag pack with fun prizes from dozens of authors, including me!
Click here for a full list of participating sites!
Thanks so much for hopping by! And happy holidays!


a Rafflecopter giveaway