Releases 10/7/2014

Today’s excerpt is from the first meeting of Marian Doyle and Richard Genet, aka immortal Prince Richard Plantagenet. New York is such a modern city, always moving, always changing, that I was curious what Richard would think of it.

Ghost Phoenix is out on 10/7/14 and now available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, and my publisher, Samhain Publishing.

And you can click “want to read” on Goodreads.

****************

Marian decided, whatever her frustrations with her work, the last few years were worth it for the look on her grandfather’s face as Richard Genet put him in his place. Twice.

And Richard’s whisper of Angel in her ear was a nice bonus.

He radiated enough charm and presence enough to be an immortal royal, though he certainly didn’t look like a lost medieval English prince. No, he looked like a California beach god kissed by the sun.

Even on the streets of New York City, even dressed in a simple light-blue T-shirt, hoodie and khakis, he was turning heads.

He offered her his arm as they crossed the street. She took it, flattered when she should be wary. He was a client and she barely knew him. Instead, she was tongue-tied and off balance.

After several blocks of silent companionship, Richard stopped at the bottom of the steps to the New York Public Library. He tucked his hands into his pockets and stared at one of the stone lions, intent, as if the animal could stare back at him.

“Have you been here before?” she asked.

“A few times.” He shifted his gaze to the steps that led up to the main entrance of the library.

“If you tell me you helped construct the building or sculpted the lion, I’ll know you’re pulling my leg,” she said.

“It’s not my style of lion.” He smiled, apparently accepting her tease in good humor. “It does always amaze me that people keep building these kinds of monuments. At least this is one is devoted to institutional memory.” He shook his head. “Let us go sit in the park.”

It was early on a weekday morning. Bryant Park, an oasis of calm in the midst of the midtown skyscrapers, was nearly deserted. The restaurant was closed, the carousel silent and the public tables and chairs almost completely empty.

Richard chose a table in the middle of the park and pulled out a chair for her. “Thank you. I seem to be thanking you a lot today.”

“You are quite welcome for all of it.”

He folded himself into the chair. The sunlight streaming in from behind them caught the blond bleached into his hair by the sun and wind. No wonder he wanted to take a walk. He needed to be outdoors, not inside a stuffy office. His tanned face contained some age lines, primarily around his eyes. If he were an ordinary person, she would have guessed his age between thirty and forty.

Richard Genet wasn’t ordinary.

 

steampunk, steampunk detective, steampunk romance, Sherlock Holmes, female WatsonI have Google alerts set for my books as every author does.

But I have them set to a gmail account I never use. I didn’t know this until I went to set new alerts for my new books and noticed all alerts were set to go to my gmail.

I then checked the alerts.

Sure enough!

Some new reviews.

Well, not so new! July. ARGH.

But here’s someone who enjoyed The Curse of the Brimstone Contract and wrote a lovely review for Goodreads (at the link.)

A belated thank you, Jenna!

Now to see what else I’ve missed…..

Phoenix Inheritance is due out in March and it’s my most personal book, due to the subject matter inspired by my family. I’m working on the first round of editors from my Samhain editor. She put in a note that she loves what the heroine is wearing in the first scene. Which is this :)

 

image via We Love Fine

Of course, it’s not like I ever went to the school wearing my geeky T-shirts. Oh, wait…:)

This is a look at our heroine, Marian Doyle, doing what she does for the family firm. She enjoys using her ability but not this part of it.

Ghost Phoenix available for pre-order at AmazonSamhain Publishing, and B&N. It releases on October 7th.

*************

The wheels of the plane touched down on the runway at LaGuardia. A day in the air after taking off from Athens, and now it was almost done, almost time to deliver the item. Deliver. That’s what her grandfather called it. Everyone else, including the legal authorities, called it smuggling.

Marian preferred smuggling. Call it what it was instead of pretending.

When Marian had first started working for the family firm, she’d stupidly thought it was fun. The adventure of evading authorities, the rush when she used her phantom ability, and the praise of her grandfather and father made it all worthwhile.
But in the last few years, there had been too many close calls, too many hours of uncertainty that set her nerves on edge. Now, all she wanted was for the jobs to be over.

The best part was coming home, like now.

The plane taxied to the gate. Most of those around her pulled out their phones to contact those waiting at the other end of this flight. For her, that had to wait. Only after she successfully snuck the little ivory elephant carving past customs could she consider her work over.

All she had to do was duck into a bathroom before customs, go phantom, phase through the walls and hand off Tantor—it was too cute to not give a nickname—to whomever her grandfather sent to wait on the other side of the customs gate.

She hoped it would be Dad. That would be perfect. He’d pamper her with dinner, and pampering was desperately needed after this marathon trip. She’d spent weeks looking for Tantor for their client, traipsing around the hills and dirt-encrusted ruins of Greece.

Worth it, however. Little Tantor would bring in a cool million. Grandfather was probably salivating over the money already.
Once Tantor was delivered to the other side, she’d phase back through the walls to the bathroom before anyone knew she was even gone and navigate customs perfectly legally, like any other passenger. Aside from the over-long and complicated forms and the risk of death by boredom, that was the easy part.

Marian waited over fifteen minutes for the plane to clear out enough to grab her carry- on from the overhead bin. Grandfather was a damn cheapskate. She smuggled for him, and he made her fly coach back to New York every time. She could have used the extra pillows.

Marian tapped her front pocket to reassure herself Tantor was still there. She hoped most people would assume she was checking for her phone. She shuffled behind the other passengers disembarking and wiped moisture from her palm on her jacket sleeve. Sweat already drenched her back.

I hate this.

But she couldn’t quit. It was the family business. Everyone, extended cousins and all, depended on her to keep the family firm flush with money. She was the only one in the current generation of Doyles to have the phantom ability that had supported the family for over two centuries.

Quit and she’d let everyone down. Maybe she’d even be exiled or shunned. It might be worth it. They took no risks. She was the one who sweated out all the trips through customs, terrified that this would be the time she would be caught, or worse, have her phantom ability exposed.

“Miss Doyle!”

She blinked and raised her head. Damn, she’d spent too much time staring at the floor, or she would have noticed people in front of her before this. She focused on the person wearing a uniform, calling her name. Flight crew? No, it was a TSA agent.

Oh, hell.

“Yes?” Swallow the fear, swallow the panic. She could do this. There had to be a way out.

“Please follow me, ma’am. The customs officers need to speak to you.”

“I don’t understand. Speak to me about what?” Maybe if she stared at him long enough, he would vanish as if he were a figment of her imagination. Two other uniformed officers came up to her from behind. Not figments.

“Follow us, ma’am,” said the first one.

She did, wishing she could go phantom and disappear through the floor. Better yet, float up and out through the ceiling and ride the air until she landed near the cabs that would take her home.

And then what? They knew her name, probably her address and her place of work. Unless she wanted to be a fugitive, she had no choice but to go with them. To say nothing of what would happen if she went ghost on them. Never let anyone see her do it, that was the family rule, and the airport had to be full of cameras.

It was Tantor that needed to disappear, not her, and before they searched her. “Just what is the problem?” she asked again. “Do you need to see my papers? I know there are some items in my luggage that need documentation. I have everything in order.”

“That will be up to customs, ma’am,” the officer said. “We are ordered to deliver you to
them.” “I don’t understand.” “I’m sure they’ll explain it, ma’am.” Somehow all the ma’ams made it much worse. “Can I use the bathroom first? It was along flight and I really need to stop there.”

“Orders are to take you directly to their office,” he said. “Sorry.”

They kept hustling her along, one person ahead and one person behind her. Customs knew something. Someone must have tipped them off about what she was carrying. It was the only explanation that made sense. Maybe the tip came from someone who also wanted the carving? No, they would want it to get through customs, not to be confiscated. Unless someone paid off one of the agents. Bribing agents was the usual way to smuggle antiquities into the States. Doyle Antiquities never did that.

They had her.

**************

Releases 10/7/2014

Tentatively titled The Crystal Tower, the work on the Next Big Thing has begun. I’m using a notebook for the rough draft and so far, I’ve filled over 30 pages and that includes the ending.

It’s first person, urban fantasy.
First line: “In the Crystal Tower, I was born and died.”
Last line: “In the Crystal Tower, I died and was born.”

The youngest son and I took a walk in the local nature preserve, daring the expected thunderstorms to come out.

They never materialized and we had a great hike.

All through September, on Mondays, I’ll be sharing short excerpts from Ghost Phoenix, until publication on October 7th. You can preorder at Amazon at the link or click “Want to Read” on Goodreads.

Today, for the first post, I’m sharing Marian and Richard’s initial reactions to each other. Marian demonstrates her phantom ability while Richard demonstrates his ability to turn heads. :)

Marian:

Marian walked to the back of her desk to face the window. She held out her arms, as if to absorb the sun, and he watched, rapt, as she become, clothes and all, intangible. It all happened in seconds, until he could see the outline of her but he could also see right through her.

She floated several feet into the air. Oddly, she seemed to have more curls in her hair in this state. She slipped through the window and outside. He rose, fascinated, and walked closer. She hung in midair just outside the window, light streaming through her, looking like an angel captured in stained glass. He drew in his breath.

In the blink of an eye, she passed back through the window, into the office, and an ordinary mortal stood before him once more.
The healing ability that kept him from aging was subtle. Telepathic ability was similarly quiet. He had fought a firestarter to the death a few hundred years ago. That had been a spectacular battle.

But he had never seen any ability to match the sheer awesomeness of Marian Doyle becoming one with the light.

Richard:

It was early on a weekday morning. Bryant Park, an oasis of calm in the midst of the midtown skyscrapers, was nearly deserted. The restaurant was closed, the carousel silent and the public tables and chairs almost completely empty.

Richard chose a table in the middle of the park and pulled out a chair for her. “Thank you. I seem to be thanking you a lot today.”

“You are quite welcome for all of it.” He folded himself into the chair. The sunlight streaming in from behind them caught the blond bleached into his hair by the sun and wind. No wonder he wanted to take a walk.

He needed to be outdoors, not inside a stuffy office. His tanned face contained some age lines, primarily around his eyes. If he were an ordinary person, she would have guessed his age between thirty and forty.

Richard Genet wasn’t ordinary. He stretched his long legs out in front of him and relaxed into the wire mesh chair.

“You spend a great deal of time outdoors?” she asked.

“Yes. I live in California, near the ocean.” He would fit right in with the movie stars.

“Do you surf?”

“Every day. Do you?”

She shook her head. “I’ve never tried.”

“Not a particular interest, or do you hate it?”

“It’s never come up.” I would learn if you agreed to teach me, she thought. He must look gorgeous in
a wetsuit, on a surfboard, about to take a wave, the sun and wind at his back.

Thank God she hadn’t said that out loud.

Releases 10/7/2014

Releases 10/7/2014 Now available for pre-order. Click on cover.

The cure they desperately need just rose from the ashes of evil…

Ghost Phoenix: The Phoenix Institute, Book 3

Richard Plantagenet, self-exiled prince of an immortal court, is content living the uncomplicated life of a California surfer. Until his brother’s sudden death and his Queen’s wasting illness wrest him from his ocean-side solitude for one last quest.

The Queen needs a cure. To get it, Richard needs assistance from someone with a singular—and slightly illegal—talent.

As the latest of a long line of ghost-walkers, Marian Doyle can, literally, walk through walls—bringing objects with her. Her gift comes in handy for her family’s shady antiquities business, but Marian’s had it with breaking the law. She wants a life of her own choosing.

Instead, she gets Richard.

Their mission seems simple: Find the body of Gregori Rasputin and procure a small sample of his DNA. But when they discover the Mad Monk of Russia is very much alive, the prince and the phantom must form a bond to battle a man who desires to remake the world in fire.

It’s almost here! Over the next month, I’ll be sharing some snippets from the book and perhaps even give away a copy or two. In the meantime, it’s up for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, and my publisher, Samhain Publishing.

And it would be a huge help if anyone interested clicks “want to read” on Goodreads. Thanks!

Looking forward to this one coming it. It’s full of all the kinds of stuff I love: immortals, superpowers, hot sex, ninja monks, tunnels, travel and one really hot surfer dude.


August is the annual Read-A-Romance Month and all through next month, Celebrate Romance will have essays by some of the greats of romance talking about how they got started and why they love the genre.

How did I get started? It took a village.  As part of this celebration, I wanted to honor those who helped me on my journey to becoming a writer.

I’ve met all but one of these woman  and all of them before I read any of their books. All were inspirations and all of them offered help and advice. I’m forever grateful.

And then I picked up their stories, terrified that I wouldn’t enjoy them. No worries. I’ve become a lifelong fan of these writers not only as people but as storytellers.

1. Dallas Schulze.

Dallas was the first romance novelist I interacted with online. We ‘met’ on the old Laurel K. Hamilton yahoo loop, an active and lively place in the early 2000s that also included a brand new novelist influenced by LKH: one Jim Butcher of Harry Dresden fame. (Yes, it was an awesome loop.)

Jim and Dallas often had good-natured debates about writing and about the merits of the various characters in LKH’s Anita Blake series. Those discussions were so much fun to read that, for the first time since reading Victoria Holt as a teenager, I was inspired to read a romance.

Dallas’ books hooked me. Her characters were so real, the stories so believable, and the emotions….Tumblr would now call them “the feels.” My favorite was Donovan’s Promise, the story of a married couple who had separated and were seemingly headed for divorce. It was told with a mix of flashbacks from the past and their interactions in the presence, and it stuck in my memory so much that when it came to write my own reunion romance, (the upcoming Phoenix Inheritance), I stole, er, borrowed her story structure.

2. Maureen O. Betita

One word: Pirates!

I call Maureen the pirate lady. Her stories have hunky pirates, heroines who are allowed to be over 30 and high seas adventures. All things fun. I met Maureen at a Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention one year and loved talking with her so much, and her take on romance so much, that I read her stories.  You should too. She’s recently hit the bestseller list with her self-published books and her audience is growing.

3. Karen Harbaugh

Karen is known as Yoda among my internet circle of friends. I had a long talk with her at the Romance Writers of America convention in 2004, where she was up for a Rita and I was up for a Golden Heart. She wanted to know why there weren’t more Asian-Americans in romance novels, a subject near and dear to her heart as she’s Japanese-American. I didn’t have a good answer, so when I wrote my first superhero romance, Phoenix Rising, I remembered the conversation, and that’s how my heroine became Japanese-American.

Why should you read Karen’s books? Because they’re richly layered, descriptive, full of intrigue and mystery, and set in one of my favorite periods, the Regency era. Dark Enchantment, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, was my first Harbaugh, full of swordfights and court politics and it remains my favorite.

4. Jayne Ann Krentz.

I think they sprinkle JAK’s books with crack because I cannot put them down, whether she writes as Krentz, Amanda Quick or Jayne Castle. If pressed, I will admit to preferring her historicals, as I love the dark and dangerous streets of London and her independent heroines.

Ms. Krentz is the one writer I haven’t spoken to via the ‘net or in-person. I have, however, attended her Q&A sessions with Susan Elizabeth Phillips at ever RWA National conference I’ve attended. Not only because they were an entertaining act but because Ms. Krentz answered one of the questions with one of the best pieces of advice about writing I’d ever heard:

Know your core story.

She said if you know the core story you’re trying to tell, then you know what’s flexible and subject to change and what’s not. She started writing futuristics and couldn’t sell them but realized that they could be modified to historicals and still maintain their core story. As a writer who loves to jump genres, this was an invaluable way to look at my work.

5. Jennifer Crusie

When I think of smart, funny romance, I think of Jennifer Crusie. Tell Me Lies and Bet Me are my favorites but I recommend all her books because they’re always so sharply written and yet always have such a sentimental heart.

I know Jenny and I owe her a great deal for her mentorship and support . She was the first professional writer who ever critiqued a scene for me. It went as well as can be expected when your scene has characters but no plot and no conflict. Jenny was afraid I’d be horrified. Instead, I thought “whoa, wait, this is what’s wrong! But, wait, I can learn to fix it. There is someone who can teach me that stuff.”

And she did.

I can only hope to pay it forward and help someone in the same way she’s helped me.

And my recommendation has nothing to do with that Krispy Kreme donut sex scene in Bet Me. No, nothing at all. :)

As for those cherries on the cover? They’re partially in honor of the most wonderful group of women, the Cherries, who formed on Jenny’s yahoo loop all those years ago. Many of us have gone onto be published writers, and I’m proud to call some of them my close friends, like Christine Merrill, Katy Cooper, and Robin LaFevers.

It took a village to get me started and it still takes a village to keep me going.

Thank you, ladies.

Humans have always looked to the stars for inspiration. Once flight became possible, men and women risked their lives to push “higher, further, faster, more,” in the words of Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, and her current writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick.

The first arc of  DeConnick’s Captain Marvel series was all about the women who were the inspirations for her desire to fly and touch the stars: the female pilots of World War II.

So it seemed appropriate for my post for the “Starry Nights” theme of the annual Science Fiction Romance Brigade Midsummer Blog Hop to focus on those women, real and fictional, who looked at the sky and dreamed big, impossible dreams. Note: if you’re dreaming of some swag, please check out the rafflecopter entry form below. Some seriously good stuff there, including Amazon/B&N gift cards of up to $100.

There were, of course, the early female pioneers of aviation, like Jackie Cochran, Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman, the first African-American women to gain a pilot’s license, even if she had to go to France to do it. In a terrific book, Amelia Earhart’s Daughters, the history of the second generation of female flyers is detailed, including many who tried out for the Mercury astronaut program, even though they never really had a chance to be accepted.

And there are my favorite fictional women who dream big, like my Joan Krieger, the heroine of my Curse of the Brimstone Contract, who never liked going in the side door and is so determined to rule her own fate that she’ll end up changing society, rather than let society change her.

Cordelia Naismith of Lois McMaster Bujold’s interstellar Vorkosigan series is one of my favorite characters ever, a force of nature with compassion that knows no bounds.  Cordelia frequently expects those around her to search for solutions that seem impossible.

“You trust beyond reason!”
“Yes. It’s how I get results beyond hope.”

To me, the stars and the sky above represent our dreams, the ones where we hope beyond reason. They represent the heroines of science fiction romance who take a leap of faith in themselves and the person they love and are rewarded with happy endings that are all the more joyful because of that.

And now, the goodies!

As part of the Starry Night Blog Hop, we’re giving away STUFF. MUCH STUFF.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For my entry, please like my Facebook page and I’ll pick a random winner to receive my first steampunk romantic detective novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract (ecopy only) plus Captain Marvel: Volume One: In Pursuit of Flight. (U.S. Shipping only but I can send out a digital edition.)

7/7 NOTE; Winner has been notified.

And click on the Starry Nights button above to go to the other blog hop posts that each have their OWN prizes. :)

Note: I’m having trouble with wordpress accepting comments. :( If you’ve tried to log on and enter previously, I apologize. I’ve kept track of two entries sent via the newsletter and we’re switching over to Facebook likes. If that’s a problem, just hit the newsletter button to enter the contest. And thanks for your patience.

Next Page »