April 2021

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

WeWriWa: Back in the Saddle . . . Temptation’s Trail

While waiting for the results of BETA reads for my Texas-set romantic suspense, I started thinking about what to do next. I’d been looking ahead at ways to begin a “Cowboys and Lawmen” series set in Texas and came up with a half-dozen contemporary plotline options. Then I started waxing sentimental. Instead of looking ahead, maybe I should also be looking back to where my love of Texas westerns began . . . back to the book that started it all.

Back in the ’90s, I’d never attempted a series, but when I created Harmon Bass, a legendary tracker who answers a naïve young Eastern heiress’s call for help in the lawless Bend of Texas, I couldn’t walk away. She’d thought she’d hired the strapping, elegant hero depicted in her favorite dime novels. Imagine her surprise when confronted with a short, soft-spoken half-breed who went hatless and without a sidearm.

“There’s been some mistake,” she murmured faintly.

As she started to rise, his hand closed around her wrist. It wasn’t a painful or aggressive grasp, just a firm, controlling circle of rough, dry fingers. She stiffened all over as he spoke softly with a steel-threaded quiet.

“I’ve just ridden a hundred miles for the promise of pay. I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, I’m tired and right now I’m getting more than a little annoyed, so you just sit yourself back down.”

Amanda dropped into the chair without so much as a whimper to asked, “Who are you?”

“I’m the man you sent for.”

“How did you get that letter I posted in care of the Texas Rangers?”

“They sent it to me.” One corner of his mouth crooked up wryly as he tapped a dirty forefinger on the cover of her dime novel. “You wanted the heroic Harmon Bass bad enough to offer up a thousand dollars, and here I am to collect.”

(and the rest of the scene . . .)

She studied him candidly for a moment as the violent shock wore offer, returning her usual brash spirit. “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t plan to offer up that money to just anyone and I don’t believe for a second that you’re Mr. Bass.”

His amusement had affected the rest of his mouth by then, shaping it into a small smile. “And why’s that, Miss Duncan?”

“If you can read, you’d know perfectly well that you are nothing like Harmon Bass.” She sized up his insignificant appearance with a clear eye and a cool word. “Why, you’re too young, not much more than twenty years old, you don’t carry a gun, you don’t dress like any gentleman I’ve ever seen, you let yourself be pushed around by a stranger, and you’re—you’re shor—you’re not tall.”

No, ma’am,” he claimed calmly in the face of her fierce blush, “tall, I’m not, but I can read, and I can tell the difference betwixt fact and fiction. Whether you like it or not, I’m the man you want. If you were counting on some steely-eyed, quick-fingered fool like the one in that there book and like our dear departed neighbor, then no, I’m not what you want. I’m no gun-handy hero, but in your letter, you said you needed a tracker, and ma’am, I’m the best there is.” He paused and said, softer still, “And I need the money.”

While re-reading the original five-books to which I’ve gotten the rights back, I’m researching ways to get them scanned into an editable format since I no longer have the original drafts, and doing one of my other favorite things—playing with cover concepts. I’m also digging up that Book 6 I’d started long, long ago when I had plotlines to bring the historical family up to present day. Suddenly, I have a ton of long-anticipated work to do that will more than fill the rest of 2021! Happy Trails, and Happy Writing, fellow Warriors!!

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Visit other participants on the list and read, critique, and comment on their #8sunday posts.

Spread the word, share the love, warriors - Hashtag #8sunday.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

WeWriWa: Take a Bite Out of Life . . . MIDNIGHT KISS $0.99!

Sometimes, what sustains also drains . . . as my naïve heroine discovers when she falls for her father’s mysterious patient who is undergoing secret treatments to cure his “condition.” Word of advice to heroine: Undergoing secret treatments for a “condition” is not something you look for on a dating app! She should have read this week’s excerpt. Here’s a taste . . .

“Where is your father?” Half whisper, half growl, his voice startled her as he demanded, “Get him here, now!”

“What is it? Is there something I—”

“Come no closer.”

Arabella gasped at the sight of him—so pale, in the dimness his flesh seemed almost translucent, lean features drawn into taut relief of highlight and hollow, as if ravaged by a wasting sickness. Wet hair clung sleekly to the contour of his skull from which his eyes burned, just a trick of the light, surely, for in that moment, she could have sworn they blazed like coals beneath the dark slash of his brows. Then he turned his head away, denying her the sight of his misery.

“Leave me, please. I will be fine if you leave me.”

He wouldn’t be fine. She could tell by watching his agitation that something was so dread­fully wrong, he’d come to her father for help . . . but Stuart Howland was not at home.

(And the rest of the scene . . .)

“Please,” she cried out softly, “please tell me what I can do for you.”

For a moment there was silence, then the slow, hissing draw of his breath as he came about to face her. They were quite close, so he had no diffi­culty reaching out to catch her by the upper arms, long fingers biting into tender flesh with hurtful pressure. What kind of illness left such strength in a man’s hands, she wondered somewhat frantically? But she couldn’t move, couldn’t complain, for he was staring down into her eyes and suddenly nothing else existed beyond the pull of his unblinking gaze. An odd lethargy spread through her as she heard him speak, his tone quiet and somehow soothing, seeming to melt her very bones.

“What can you do for me?” he repeated, as if con­sidering the question. His arms bent to compel her forward, until she could feel the force of his rapid breath against her upturned face. There was no warmth to it. Nor was there any sign of weakness or distress in him.

Power . . . she sensed power. It en­gulfed her, swallowing her whole.


MIDNIGHT KISS, the first book in my “Touched by Midnight” vampire romance series, has taken on a surprising life of its own over the past decades. First released in 1994 as the first of three (ultimately nine) books that move through the same vampiric family from the Regency era to modern times, it was raised again through Belle Books in 2015 and shows no sign of going gently or quietly into that goodnight. If you like a darkly delicious romance, a bite of the paranormal and a taste of history, sink your teeth into MIDNIGHT KISS for only $0.99 through April 15th! You may find yourself hungry for more . . .

I’m happy to be back with my friends at WeWriWa after a week of wonderful relaxation with a critique partner pal doing final edits on my Texas-set romantic suspense, AN UNTARNISHED HERO. It’s off for BETA reads so I’m somewhat at a loss of what to do next. The search for an agent is foremost on my agenda. Any suggestions . . . ? Looking forward to seeing what’s been playing on your keyboards in this beautiful month of April!

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Visit other participants on the list and read, critique, and comment on their #8sunday posts.

Spread the word, share the love, warriors - Hashtag #8sunday.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

IWSG: A Risk Worth Taking . . . and a $0.99 SALE!

Our Insecure Writers Support Group question for April is: “Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?”

Though basically a corner-seeking wall flower, I’ve been around too long as a writer to have not taken my share of writing risks. Safe sells but novelty catches the eye of new readers who’d have never looked my way otherwise. Here are just a few of the blind leaps of faith I’ve taking in the past thirty years:

  • My Lauren Giddings’ SWEET TEMPEST (also my first published book) was a sizzling Regency-set historical when proper lords and ladies still slept behind closed doors.
  • The one-of-a-kind two-sided playing card my printer ex-husband created from my design for one of my early Dana Ransom historicals was credited with helping kick off the brand new (in the ’80s!) bookmark craze and won me my first industry award!
  • I forced myself out of my comfort zone to approach the head of my publishing company to ask if there was anything in development that I might submit to and ended up writing out of my traditional genre as one of the launch authors for Zebra/Kensington’s “Lucky In Love” contemporary line.
  • The three books that started my “Touched by Midnight” series were pitched to my editor within an hour of the word vampire being whispered at a writers conference (too soon it seems, as bookstores didn’t know where to shelf them and I often ended up nudged in with horror).
  • My 15-book “By Moonlight” series broke all the rules by continuing with the same hero and heroine beyond more than one book. I don’t know how many times I heard “You can’t do that!” Though regularly practiced in Urban Fantasy, it was unheard of in romance at the time. Now, I’m glad I was deaf in that ear. That series broke many of the rules I’d “grown up” with in publishing including having a say in cover creation and writing my own back cover content, guest blogging on the launch of Simon & Schuster’s interactive publisher site (one of the first, if not the first!), filming a promo for my series while at a conference in New York, and creating one of the early author-made book trailers on a shoestring budget. All cutting edge back then. I’m surprised by how far writers have come since with all the advances in technology.
Hats off to the risk-takers, the rule breakers, the line crossers, the unicorns in the pony corrals who bravely ride the swell of that new wave that now carries so many of our careers! I’m proud to say this dog-paddler was one of them.

Here’s one of those early risks that’s still playing well on the tables . . . MIDNIGHT KISS, the Regency-set Book 1 in my “Touched by Midnight” vampire romance series (in its third incarnation!) is on sale April 1-15 for only $0.99!! Talk about an unexpected life expectancy!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.The awesome co-hosts for the April 7th posting of the IWSG will be PK Hrezo, Pat Garcia, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Twitter hashtag is #IWSG