Monday, July 20, 2009

My first year at RWA Nationals

I just returned home from Washington, D.C. where I attended the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference. It was a surreal experience. I hardly got any sleep the entire five days or so that I was there (though I can blame Jax Cassidy for that).

Even on the first official day (Wednesday) I was overwhelmed. Put 2,000-3,000 women in one hotel all obsessed with the same things and craziness is bound to happen.

I figured I'd give out a couple of conference highlights:

1. Spending every day with about 30 or 40 Romance Divas. These are some awesome ladies and it was great to match names and faces. I even got to pitch Romance Divas to several authors, including Susan Krinard, who was very nice! (Btw, she was writing vampires and werewolves long before they came back into fashion).

2. My friend, Jeannie Lin, won the Golden Heart for Historical Romance!!!!!!! We cheered very loudly for her. She made us all cry with her acceptance speech. I cannot think of anyone who deserved it more. PLUS, she got her first sale to Harlequin Mills & Boon during the middle of our impromptu pilates class two days before the win. Jeannie is all kinds of awesome. And, you can get free excerpts on her blog.

3. Meeting Kresley Cole. She's my favorite paranormal romance author and cute as can be. She's very warm and friendly and I just loved her. One of the divas is as obsessed as I am and went to all of the Kresley signings and generally just found her around the hotel. She said, "I'm stalking Kresley Cole." We were talking about this as we both waited to have Kresley sign books for us and Kresley said, "She's not stalking me. I'm stalking her."

4. Kresley told me that my favorite character in the Immortals After Dark series is getting her own book!!!!!!!! I'd spill the beans, but I don't know if the information is out yet.

5. Seeing Gena Showalter and Kresley Cole together!! I'd stalked--I mean talked--to both of them at the signings, but Jax and I happened to catch them together in the hallway. She knows both of them--lucky Jax. I got so excited and said, "I wish I had a camera to take a picture!" I hope they weren't scared of me. LOL. Though, honestly, I can't see much phazing Kresley.

6. I feel I must say that Gena Showalter is beautiful. I mean gorgeous. Really.

7. Attending the Rogue Digital Conference with Angela James, from Samhain Publishing, Jane from Dear Author, and Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I am not entirely sure of the spellings as there are many Ja(y)nes at Dear Author.

8. Anne Stuart's workshop on Writing Dark Love Stories. It was really good. Detailed, informative, funny, and useful.

9. Diva Karaoke, swimming with Divas, Diva pajama party after the Ritas

10. Riding the Elevator with the famous Nora Roberts twice.

11. The Harlequin Party. I now understand why it is the place to be. Even Nora got down. Fun, fun, fun! My friend Amanda Brice even got up and sang Summer Lovin' with the DJ. Much better than when I sang it at karaoke.

12. Rooming with Jax Cassidy & Eden Bradley. Though we missed our good friend Lilli Feisty who had to stay home due to illness. I already miss them and I've only been home for 14 hours.

I made so many good friends and deepened other friendships. It was awesome.

RWA National has been a wonderful surprise. There were a few bumps here and there, but overall it was an incredible experience. I'll never forget meeting the wonderful friends at Divas. I have officially adopted Christina, Sandy, MG (Michelle), Emily R-D, Jax, and I'm already joined at the hip with Eden Bradley. And, of course, I'll never forget my little odd moments with Kresley and meeting Gena.

This post has already gone on long enough, so I'll end it by saying I had a very good time!

Friday, July 10, 2009

EM - A Hint of Scandal

It is that time again. Excerpt Monday. This is when a group of authors get together once a month and post something from a work in progress or a soon-to-be released book. You will find all kinds of goodies here. Historical, Paranormal, YA...and a few naughty bits as well. Scroll down to the bottom of the blog on MONDAY and you will see a set of links to other participants.

Here is an excerpt from A Hint of Scandal, a novella I wrote 11 years ago and have considered revising. I made minor edits to the intro a year ago. It's an erotic romance.

“We have got to stop meeting like this,” she said.

“Would you prefer a bed?” he teased. “I think that can certainly be arranged.”

“No.” she told him as she brushed her hands over the front of her dress. “I think we have been severely lucky that no one has ever happened upon us before now. Perhaps, we should reconsider this arrangement.”

“You want to end this?” He tilted his head and stared at her.

What was she doing? She had wanted this. Jeffrey was charming, handsome. Willing.

If only she was willing.

“I feel I must.”

“You all but opened your legs for me, Miranda. Thrice. What makes you so hesitant now? Are you a timid virgin? Afraid to finally couple with a man?”

Yes, that was it. Little did he know he would not have been her first. But, a man’s pride was a tender thing. She wouldn’t reveal it to him.

“Do you have another lover?”

“No.” Her heart skipped a beat.

“Well, I should think not. You could not do any better than me, anyway.” He smiled to himself as he shook out his jacket.

“Do not look so relieved you bastard.”

“My blood line runs cleaner than yours and you know it.”

“You arrogant, pompous rake!”

Shaking his head, he looked down at her. Then he patted her behind. “Run along now, Miss Howard. We would not want Mummy and Daddy finding out what a naughty girl you have been.”

Miranda glared at him and stormed off. What had she been thinking when she let Jeffrey kiss her? The man had the manners of a dog, for all his good breeding.

She was so angry and distracted that she didn’t see where she was walking. She rounded a hedge and ran straight into a solid body.

“Oh,” she exclaimed. “I am dreadfully sorry.” She looked up into the face of Lord Sheffield.
He was taller than Jeffrey and she had to angle her head up to look into his eyes. For a moment, she was tempted to run her fingers through his blond locks.

“Mi-Miss Howard.” He bowed slightly. “It was I who was not paying careful attention as to where I was going. Please forgive me if I have caused you any injury.”

They were still standing close together. If only she dared to reach out and touch him. Had she not been so startled a moment ago, she might have enjoyed bumping into the earl.

Under his gaze, her breast swelled and she could feel her nipples straining against the fabric. Hopefully her gown was still perfectly in place. The bodice was so low that she feared a nipple could poke out above the fabric.

For a moment, neither spoke. What was wrong with her? It was not as if she’d never spoken to Sheffield before. How many times had she teased and berated him as a child? But, things were different now. He was different.

And, lord help her, just being in close proximity to him sent a jolt of lightening through her thighs. This was not the man of her childhood. It was the man of her fantasies.

Ever since Sheffield had returned a month ago, things had not been the same. She could barely breathe when they were talking, which was not often enough as he seemed to find any excuse not to be alone in conversation with her.

“No, my lord. I am well. Forgive me for running into you.”

“There is nothing to forgive.”

His eyes bored into hers. That blue-green color appeared darker under the moonlight. Miranda felt paralyzed to the spot.

“Goodnight, Miss Howard,” he said kissing her hand. It was bare. Shivering, she realized that she must have left her glove in the grass. Damnation. She’d have to go back and retrieve it before her mother saw her without it.

“Goodnight, Lord Sheffield.”

Miranda turned and ran toward toward the spot where she had abandoned Jeffrey.

Unfortunately, she didn’t see the stone near her foot until it was too late. Her foot caught and she fell flat on her face.

To her utter mortification, Lord Sheffield called out to her. Unable to reveal her reddened face, she waited until he caught up with her. With gentle care, he lifted her up and helped her brush off the leaves and dirt that now adorned her dress.

Strong arms. Though Sheffield was somewhat slender, his arms were firm and muscled. If only she could run her hands over them and squeeze. It had been many years since she’d been held by him. And, back then, she was too daft to attach any importance to it.

Sighing, she looked into his face. The hard planes softened a bit as his eyes roamed over her, making sure she was well.

“Miss Howard. Lord Sheffield.”

She looked up to see Lady Stanley, their hostess. Warmth crept up Miranda’s cheeks. Almost choking on her words, she responded, “Lady Stanley.”

Isabella, Lady Stanley, nodded, though Miranda saw her eyes narrow. “Taking a walk in the gardens?”

Lord Sheffield murmered something and Miranda tried to cover up for them. “I wanted to get some fresh air. ‘Tis so stuffy inside.”

Their hostess nodded, though it was obvious that she didn’t believe a word of it. Miranda looked longingly at the house, praying for the moment when she could get back inside.

“Why, Miss Howard, are we starting a new fashion trend? It is really quite becoming.” Jeffrey. He appeared suddenly, carrying a stained white glove. She was about to grab it from him when she realized another couple was headed toward them.

All eyes were on her. She wondered why until she realized they were all looking at her chest. Miranda lowered her eyes and realized that her gown was not only ruined with grass stains and tiny tears, but two undeniably male hand prints were on the front of her gown. If Miranda had the stomach for it, she would have swooned. As it was, a heat was spreading over her cheeks and she knew that she resembled a tomato.

Everyone’s eyes continued to watch her, but she could not come up with a quick response.

Sheffield came to her rescue, putting his jacket over her shoulders and saying, “Miranda took a fall just now and I found her. Though she seems not to be injured, I am taking her to her father so that she can get home and lie down.”

Miranda was greatful when he put his arm around her and escorted her back into the house.

The next day, Miranda awoke with a headache. She’d had more than one glass of brandy before making it into bed. A pounding throbbed in her hears.

“Miranda! Miranda!”

Oh, could she just lower her voice. Why did she have to yell like a banshee?

“Yes, Mother. What is it?”

“I have been knocking for ten minutes,” her mother said, entering the room. “As I told you last night, we must have a talk.”

She’d been in no mood to talk to her parents last night and she certainly wasn’t in the mood now. God, she needed coffee. Though her mother kept very little in the house, Miranda knew there was a small stash for guests. Maybe she could convince the housekeeper or the butler to let her have it.

“I need to get to the privy.”

“Oh, no you do not. Young lady, you will not avoid me.”

Miranda looked into her mothers eyes. The same shade of green as her own. She sighed.

Taking hold of her arms, Lady Wentworth continued, “Last night, you came in from the garden with stains on your clothes, a dazed expression, and Lord Sheffield’s jacket about your shoulders. Honestly, darling, have you any sense? The whole town is talking and you are in bed sleeping away. Lord Sheffield’s father is due within the hour and your father is raving. Well,” she said, taking a breath, “just what do you have to say for yourself?”

Dumbfounded, Miranda could only stare as her mother went about the room, opening curtains and setting out clothes for her to wear. She selected a coral colored gown and set it on the bed.
No words came out of her mouth. What could she say? Last night had been a disaster.

“You had better get up and wash yourself. Agnes will be in to help you dress. Hurry up, as we will not want to keep the Duke waiting.”

An instant later, Agnes came in. She pulled back the covers and started removing Miranda’s gown. Obediently, Miranda lifted her arms.

Biting her lip, she asked. “How bad is it? Mother looks fit to skin a bear. Is father raving as well?”
Agnes shook her head. “Real quiet like. Dinno if he’s that mad or in shock.”

Great. Miranda counted on her father’s support. Not that she deserved his help after the drama she’d caused last night.

Her voice dropped to a whisper as she took the wet towel that Agnes gave her. Wiping her face and underarms, she continued, “Did they say anything about the Duke and Duchess?”

“Not that I heard, Miss.”

Miranda finished washing up and let Agnes dress her. When Agnes smiled, she looked in the mirror. The coral was the perfect color on her. It matched her deep auburn hair.

“Did they say if Alistair is coming?”

Agnes didn’t respond as she dressed Miranda’s hair.

“Is Sheffield coming?” she repeated.

“I think so.”

Miranda bit her lip as her heart thumped in her chest. He was coming. It had been a while since Sheffield had been in their home. Too long. Why did it always have to been in awful circumstances?


He was angry. She could see it in his eyes. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes bored into hers.
“Well?” he demanded, once she’d been seated.

“Well, what, Father?”

“In a quarter of an hour, His Grace will be here to discuss the incident between you and his son. I think, perhaps, that it would be better if I heard all of the details first hand instead of through town gossip!”

“There is nothing to be said.” She tried to keep her voice level.

“Do not play the ninny with me, young lady, though now I doubt whether to address you as such.”

She turned away from him as she spoke. “I went into the garden. When I came back, I tripped and fell. Lord Sheffield aided me, then Lady Stanley arrived. That is all I have to tell.”

“And your dress?” He poured a glass of liquor. She was in real trouble.

“As I said, I tripped and fell. Then, Lord Sheffield helped me up.”

“Then, it was he who left the marks on your dress?”

Miranda had hoped that he didn’t know about that. “An accident.”

“An accident. Do you believe me foolish enough to accept that answer?”

“You will have to, Father, for it is the only one I have to give.”


The Full List of Excerpt Monday Participants:

(Links will be active on Monday. The list is organized by rating, so the saucy stuff is at the bottom, and the family friendly excerpts are at the top.)

Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)
Kinsey W. Holley, Paranormal (PG)
Caitlynn Lowe, Epic Fantasy (PG)
Dara Soren, Paranormal (PG)
Mel Berthier, Urban Fantasy (PG 13)
Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
Christina DeLorenzo, YA (PG 13)
Nika Dixon, Romantic Suspense (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Kaige, Historic Romance (PG-13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Adelle Laudan, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG13)
RF Long, Paranormal (PG13)
Rebecca Savage, romantic suspense (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Leigh Royals, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Jax Cassidy, Contemporary Romance (R)
Maya Doyle, Paranormal Romance (R)
Cate Hart, Paranormal (R)
Ali Katz, Historical Erotic Romance (R)
Inez Kelley, Romantic Comedy (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Paranormal Romance (R)
Elise Logan, Fantasy Romance (R)
Cherrie Lynn, Paranormal Romance (R)
Alina Morgan, Urban Fantasy (R)
Vivienne Westlake, Erotic Historical (R)
Stephanie Adkins, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Evie Byrne, Medieval Paranormal Romance (NC 17)
Kim Knox, Erotic SF Romance (NC17)
Lauren Murphy, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic Romance (NC 17)