Friday, December 20, 2013

Cats & Conjure - New Release and Sale

From now until next Tuesday, the first Cats & Conjure book--Cats in Heat--will be on sale for 99c. This price has taken effect at Smashwords, ARe, and will be live shortly on Kindle.

This is to promote the new sequel, Cat Scratch Fever, which is up on Kindle a little early and is on preorder discount at ARe for one more day.

If you get a chance to check out Cat Scratch Fever, I really hope you like it. Stray Cat Strut (book #3) is on my plate for the new year.

Thank you for reading and happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cat Scratch Fever Preorder

Cat Scratch Fever (Cats & Conjure 2) is almost here!

Addie and Erik's journey continues in a brand new novella. It'll be out on Friday and right now you can preorder it at AllRomanceeBooks for 10% off. On Friday it'll be for sale on Smashwords and Kindle. It might not be on other sites until the new year, but you can get your favourite formats at ARe and Smashwords.

Buy links are coming when the book is available!

And don't forget, I have a new mailing list ONLY for new releases announcements. Sign-up here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/asha-king-new-releases or send an email to asha-king-new-releases+subscribe@googlegroups.com.

Friday, November 29, 2013

New Release Mailing List

I've just put together a mailing list to announce new releases using Google Groups. Head here to apply to join: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/asha-king-new-releases

Don't have a G+ account? No problem--all you need is an email address. Send an email to asha-king-new-releases+subscribe@googlegroups.com and you'll be signed up.

You'll notice there are no message yet--again, this will be NEW RELEASES ONLY. No other emails clogging up your inbox. In the new release email, I'll also include coupon codes for Smashwords, current freebies and/or deals, and that kind of thing.

I am hoping to have a new release every six to eight weeks, though it'll depend on how long it takes me to write things and on my editor's schedule. If you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook (or even if you do!), that's the place to keep up to date.

That's it for now. I'm about halfway through Cat Scratch Fever and I'm hoping to have an announcement about that release date sometime next week (I'm aiming for mid-December), and to get everything to my webmistress to update the main site. After that I have to decide what to work on, whether to finish up I Who Have Nothing (which is STILL giving me fits), or choosing between a pair of other contemp rom-suspenses. Details when I have them!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What I'm Working On & Other Updates

Cats in Heat came out a week and a half ago. Some readers so far seemed to like it and sales are trickling in, so I'm working on the next in the series, Cat Scratch Fever. I'm hoping to get this done and up for preorder by the end of the month.

As I've said...pretty much everywhere, this is a series that follows the same couple from novella to novella. The endings aren't cliffhangers per se, but I leave threads to pick up with the next one. This form of serialized storytelling really appeals to me as I like traditional paranormal romance and urban fantasy books that utilize it, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I am not attempting to just "piecemeal" together a larger story out of tiny bits--each novella is 100 pages or more, so a substantial chunk of story with forward plot movement and a conclusion. There will be three to four of them, and I'm aiming to get one out every two months or so, with a "boxset" of all of them perhaps by next summer. If you want to wait until that time to check it out, I completely understand and I hope you enjoy the stories when you get to them.

For those still complaining about the length of my older books from last year, I hear you. And I'm sorry. As I've explained, writing for a publisher meant writing to a certain length to keep in a lower price range. I could spend time right now going back and revising all of those stories to add to the total word count, or I could write new books for you. I'm choosing the latter, and as I've said, my new situation means I can write longer works and keep lower prices on them. Writing to complain to me about the older novellas doesn't fix anything (it just makes me feel badly and therefore harder to work on new things).

Finally, I do not have news for you about I Who Have Nothing. The book isn't ready yet. I will update here when I have something new to say. I also keep getting emails about this, and yes, I know, I am no longer listed on the publisher's website. This is because I am no longer with them but releasing books on my own.  I promise I will blog as soon as I have further information about release dates and the like.

As always, thank you for reading, and I appreciate the support. It's back to work on Addie and Erik for me...

-Asha

Friday, October 25, 2013

CATS IN HEAT - Now Available + Giveaway!

 
Here are the purchase links!


Cats in Heat is the first book in the Cats & Conjure series, which follows Erik and Adelaide through 3-4 novellas. It's interracial (bwwm) paranormal romance with an explicit sex scene. I posted an excerpt in August--you'll also find a sample at Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

I've also dropped the price of my standalone PNR book Bad Moon Rising--you can get that at all stores for just $2.99 now.

To celebrate, I'm giving away the winner's choice of one of my other PNR books in ebook--either Bad Moon Rising (werewolves) or Somebody to Love (ghosts). There are lots of ways to enter! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Preorder: CATS IN HEAT

On October 25th my new interracial paranormal romance novella, Cats in Heat, will release. Right now you can preorder it at a few locations and it'll be delivered to you on that date.



Cats in Heat is the first in my Cats & Conjure series. It follows the same couple, Addie Deveraux and Erik Wells, for three (or maybe four) novellas as their love is tested by danger at every turn.

Right now, those are the primary sites that do preorder but on October 25th, the book will be on Kindle, Smashwords, and other places for sale.


Adelaide Deveraux lives a quiet life in the country, never quite fitting in with other people and preferring her spare time spent caring for the various stray cats in the area. But late one Friday night, a feline of a much larger persuasion shows up at her door, shifting into a very injured—and very naked—human man in need of help.
 
Erik Wells has been on the run his whole life: from the people who killed his parents when he was a boy, from a group determined to exterminate his own kind, and now from the underground gladiator ring who abduct shifters and have them fight to the death for entertainment. And he needs to keep running, but something about Addie draws him to her home and her care.
 
The tiger in him senses it: there’s more to Addie than apparent at first glance—more to her knack for working with roots and herbs; more to her prophetic dreams; more to the secrets buried in her family history. But if she is who he thinks she is, the danger’s just beginning, as the powerful man responsible for keeping Erik captive for so long will stop at nothing to obtain her for his own. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Freebies! Discounts! And NEWS!

First, Near to You--my debut contemp erotic romance novella--is temporarily FREE on Amazon. Now through Friday, you can download it freely. Head here. For the next few months it's exclusively on Amazon--sorry about that, but it's the only way I could do the freebie through them.

Next!  The first Stirling Falls book, Wild Horses, is temporarily FREE on AllRomanceeBooks. This will only be for a short while to promote Sympathy for the Devil, which is discounted by 25% at ARe as well.

Finally, I'm just about done Cats in Heat (Cats & Conjure #1)--it'll be to my editor by the end of the week. I'm aiming for an October 25th release date. When it's up for preorder, I'll post.

Well, it's been a crazy busy few days, and now it's back to work for me. I hope you pick up some freebies and, if you think about it, please spread the word to your friends!

~Asha

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Updated Buy Links + Freebie

Okay I've spent the past two days getting everything re-uploaded to resellers and then updating all the buy links.

At the moment everything (nearly; more in a second) is available at Kindle, AllRomanceeBooks, and Smashwords. Within the next couple of weeks the books will be on B&N, Kobo, and others (in some cases for the first time). The links on the left sidebar go to Amazon as that's where most of my sales are, however, on the individual book pages you'll find more links to where things are for sale.

If you haven't read this post yet, please do so, as it explains (sort of) what's up. I am so, so sorry for any inconvenience but from here on out, everything should be smooth.

Temporarily, Amazon reader reviews and the like are gone. I expect they'll return in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I've made notes on all the pages explaining that the books are previously published so hopefully there is no confusion.  For the moment, all the prices are the same as they were previously while I get a handle on things.

And, as thanks for your support, my first novella Near to You will be temporarily FREE on Amazon! Stay tuned for details.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Changes in the Works

I've already had a dozen emails and some tweets about it, so it seemed time to blog. Yes, my books are down from the publisher's website. This is because I'm no longer with a publisher.

I am waiting for the books to come down from the resellers like Amazon, which will hopefully be soon, and then I can re-release everything (and change my blog links/have my webmistress change my website links). The books will look the same--I'm the cover artist, after all, and I've re-purchased all the stock images so I can continue using them--and the content will mostly be the same (although this affords me the opportunity to clean up any typos), and while I work things out on my own, prices will likely remain the same (although I'm planning a freebie deal with one book).

I don't like talking about the business side of things, so I won't, but here is what this means for my readers:
  • Books will be longer. Here's the thing: publishers control the prices of their books and they price according to length. A $2.99 book by a brand new author has a better chance of selling than a $3.99 book by a brand new author in most cases, so I used to write to a particular length to keep in that $2.99 price range. Now I can write something double that length and sell it for a lower price. ($2.99 will still likely be the lowest aside from when I do random deals--I'm sorry, but lower than that and Amazon drastically lowers the cut I get, and I write to feed my family.) There is a chance I might take a book like How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? and rewrite it as a category-length novel but this is still in the early planning stages.
  • There will be sales and deals. I will control the price, so I can have sales, freebies, etc.
  • Print books will be delayed. It's my intent to write more print-length books however they might not simultaneously release with the ebooks. I have to decide on a printer and distribution, and it's all an extra cost that's a bit risky for me right now. (If you want Wild Horses or Sympathy for the Devil in print, now's the time to get them.)
  • This could mean more books or fewer books. Right now, I don't know. I've talked before about what a huge issue piracy is for me. Last year I put out Somebody to Love by myself and it sold less than 10% of what my publisher-backed books did but it was pirated just as much. It was six months before I made back what I spent on editing and stock photos.  I'll be making a higher percentage now putting out books myself, however I don't know how they will sell. It's simple: if the books do well, I can afford to write and release more; if they don't, this might be it for me. Supporting my family comes first.
I won't lie: I am terribly nervous. But I have wonderful readers and I hope you'll lend me support as I take this new road on the wild ride of publishing.

Final news: Cats in Heat is nearing its conclusion! It's the first in a series of PNR novellas that follow the same couple. I'm looking to release it toward the end of October and I'll likely try out Smashwords' new preorder feature to see how that works. I also have a new contemp rom-com in progress called The Book of Love and still plugging away at I Who Have Nothing.  Details to come!

Monday, August 26, 2013

What I'm Working On: CATS IN HEAT

This is the first in a series of upcoming paranormal romance novellas and I'm having lots of fun with it.

I was really looking forward to a late summer/early fall release, but I'll see--I have a lot on my plate at the moment. Details coming as soon as I have them! For now, I'll leave you with the blurb and a brief teaser (book in progress, please excuse any typos).


 
Adelaide Deveraux lives a quiet life in the country, never quite fitting in with other people and preferring her spare time spent caring for the various stray cats in the area. But late one Friday night, a feline of a much larger persuasion shows up at her door, shifting into a very injured—and very naked—human man in need of help.
 
Erik Wells has been on the run his whole life: from the people who killed his parents when he was a boy, from a group determined to exterminate his own kind, and now from the underground gladiator ring who abduct shifters and have them fight to the death for entertainment. And he needs to keep running, but something about Addie draws him to her home and her care.
 
The tiger in him senses it: there’s more to Addie than apparent at first glance—more to her knack for working with roots and herbs; more to her prophetic dreams; more to the secrets buried in her family history. But if she is who he thinks she is, the danger’s just beginning, as the powerful man responsible for keeping Erik captive for so long will stop at nothing to obtain her for his own.


Her flashlight caught a shimmer in the tall grass around the shed.
Addie froze and swung the beam back around again. Grass and weeds twisted with the violent beat of wind as her flashlight shone around the side of the shed.
Again the light caught it, two small, glowing balls of amber in the tall grass. Addie frowned and squinted against the wind, wondering what the hell—
It stepped forward suddenly and the grass parted. The face came into view first, amber eyes watching her, and then the shoulders pushed forward. Large, heavy paws pounded on the ground.
Her heart caught up somewhere near her throat at the sight of the massive tiger walking toward her.
Addie blinked but it remained—not a whisper of a shifting vision or a trick played by her eyes. A real, live, enormous predatory cat was only eight feet away.
And getting closer.
Trembles ran down her arms and she tightened her grip on the flashlight until her knuckles were almost white. Her throat closed and she couldn’t draw in a breath or even think; she could only stare.
The large cat took another step forward.
Her rational brain pushed at her to flee even as she knew wild animals could sense fear and that this wild animal was close enough that she couldn’t get away. Still, she took an experimental step backward.
The tiger padded forward.
Another step back. The rain beat against her face but she couldn’t look away and her entire body shook as fear raced through her veins. The flashlight beam bounced on the tiger, flickering back and forth with her trembling.
She could scream but no one would hear her. A few more steps and she was halfway to the house but the tiger had broken free of the grass and was passing the shed. He was huge, his shoulders coming up to her waist. Her eyes flickered down to his paws. Claws dug into the soft, wet dirt as he stalked forward.
Irony of ironies, the neighborhood cat lady is going to die being eaten by a tiger. She couldn’t quite laugh at the absurdity of the situation, not as the beast continued toward her.
Then he stopped abruptly. His head dipped forward and shoulders slumped. Addie continued backing up but the tiger didn’t attack, didn’t surge in her direction to make the kill. His attempted step forward was shaky and weak. He wavered, tottering from side to side, before stumbling and landing in a heap.
Addie paused warily.
She should run, she knew—her brain screamed at her to flee, to lock the door and call the entire county emergencies forces down to catch the thing. Instead, some buried instinct rose and cautioned her.
Wait. Just...wait.
She did, trusting that inner voice even as her heart hammered.
The tiger’s pelt rippled as her flashlight swung over it. Orange and black stripes shuddered and shrank, fur rolling back like water and disappearing into pale skin. Muscles and bones twisted and contorted, snapping painfully, until an entirely new shape lay on her lawn.
Addie stared down at a bruised, bloody, and completely naked human man.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Readers: Where Do You Get Your Book Information?

After another "this book wasn't what I was expecting/had objectionable elements" comment--which I've basically seen since my first release and occasionally get email about--I've really been pondering this again. Where do YOU find details about the books you purchase if there aren't yet reader reviews available?

I know money's tight around our house and I hate spending money on something that's too short, or poorly written/edited, or has elements I dislike (don't even get me started on cheating in romances). Sometimes I think I spend more time reading ABOUT the books I want to buy than actually reading. If there are no reviews or recommendations from friends, I try to check the author's website, info on Kindle or ARe, and that kind of thing. As a reader, I hate when I feel cheated.

As a writer, I very much want to give readers what they desire (hot fictional men! hot fictional sex! a happily ever after!) and I want them to find the right books. There are only so many hours in the day with work and family. I genuinely feel badly if I don't deliver what someone expects, whether it's the length or the genre or what have you.

Beyond keeping genre things listed on my blog's book pages (and you shouldn't have to go hunting through a blog for details) and using the "From the Author" section on Kindle pages...what can writers do to clarify these things for readers? Where do YOU go to find out if a book is right for you? I know I have a bunch of books out but I also feel terribly new some days and am completely open to suggestions. (Also, does anyone know if B&N has an "Author Central" type thing? As I haven't found one.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stirling Falls Giveaway!

 
To celebrate the release of SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, I want to give you a chance to catch up with the series. Enter to win your choice of either Wild Horses or Wild Horses: Cold Cold Winter in your preferred format.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 12, 2013

New Release: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL

 
Sympathy for the Devil--aka Stirling Falls #2--is now available at last! 

You'll find it in all ebook formats and print at Phaze. I'll update here with links when it's at B&N, AllRomanceeBooks, and Kindle.

You'll find the first chapter and a bit about the book here.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Coming Soon: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL

(Note, there's still time to vote for Maddox at All Romance eBook's Ultimate Shifter Challenge. Head here.)

The next Stirling Falls book is almost here! The book drops August 13.

This one took a while. It's a long book and had a lot of threads to pull together, but I'm really rather happy with it. A couple of notes and then I'll add an excerpt...

  1. It'll be released in eBook and trade paperback, as Wild Horses was. If you only read in print or prefer it for your shelf, there you go.
  2. The eBook price point will be $1 higher than WH. This is because it's a longer book. I know a lot of people were unhappy with the length of WH: Cold Cold Winter but that was never intended to be a novel (which is why I tried to include the word "novella" everywhere) and that's why it was $2 cheaper than WH. Sympathy for the Devil is about 50% longer than Wild Horses, so it'll be selling for $5.99. (To put this in perspective: Amazon guestimates WH is 198 pgs, based on about 242 words a page; with that as a reference, Sympathy would be 301 pages).
  3. This is more of an erotic suspense novel with less humor than Wild Horses. It also has stronger BDSM elements. Reader discretion is advised.

Ready for the first chapter? Here you go!

 

Chapter One


Natasha Whitaker ducked through the front door of Main Street’s Bar & Grill into the din of country music, laughter and voices chatting, and cues striking balls in the corner pool table. Closed for usual business though open in that all of Stirling Falls’ residents were invited in, the bar was hopping with energy and full to the brim with people. Multi-colored streamers fluttered when people moved and a wall of thick, humid air struck her. Mr. Holloway apparently didn’t have the air conditioner running—the thing seemed to die at least three times every summer.

She clutched her purse to her and squeezed between a pair of heavy-set truckers in a lineup for the bar, ducked under an arm swinging a stein of beer, and burst through a break in the crowd only to bump into a very, very pregnant woman.

Her best friend, Danyiah Jackson, turned, brown eyes wide and startled for a moment before warming. “Yay, you’re finally here!”

Tash hugged her friend in greeting, though awkwardly with the large baby bump in between them. “Don’t take this the wrong way, sweetie, but every time I see you, I think you’ve somehow possibly squeezed more fetuses in there.”

They parted and Dani grinned, rubbing her hand across her abdomen. “So far it’s just the one but I suspect it’s not planning on leaving—there’s probably a crib and dresser in there already.” She wore a white baby-doll style dress with spaghetti straps, the hem falling to her knees, loose and comfortable. Her long black hair was pinned up, but sweat beaded her brow—the heat must be getting to her too.

“Do you want a drink or something?”

“Adam’s supposed to be getting me water.”

Tash cocked one thin black brow in skepticism. Dani’s boyfriend, Adam, doted on her excessively—if he’d been intending to get her something, he’d already be back. “What happened to him?”

Dani pointed across the bar to where Adam was in a corner arguing with his boss, Gus, about something or another—the sound of their voices didn’t carry across the room.

“Something to do with some Tennessee Walking Horses being boarded at the farm and the owners are idiots—blah blah, the hell if I know what he’s going on about.”

“Sit for a minute and I’ll get you something.”

“Uh...” Dani cast her eyes around the room.

Right, there was pretty much standing room only. Well, the hell with that. Most of these people didn’t need to be sitting. She spotted a couple of teens at a table a few feet away—nothing wrong with their legs and none of them was pregnant considering they were all boys.

Tash grasped Dani’s arm and guided her for the table.

“Really, it’s okay—”

Tash gave her a warning look. “I’m armed and I’m tired. I’ll brook no argument on this.”

Dani visibly backed off and smiled. “You’re the one with the gun.”

They stopped in front of the table where one boy had his legs stretched out, feet on the spare chair. He gazed up lazily and gave her a cocky grin. “What?”

“Move.”

“Ah, come on, we were here—”

“You’re here in a bar drinking and you haven’t even graduated high school yet, Tommy.”

“No I’m not!”

“Pro tip, hot shot: Coke does not hide the smell of rum. Nothing can.”

“But—”

“Do I need to get your father?”

Tommy glowered at her and dropped his feet from the chair with a heavy thud, loud even over the din of noise in the room. His boots had left a dusting of dirt on the chair; Tash looked pointedly at the evidence of his footwear on the seat, then back at him.

He cursed under his breath but nothing she could call him on. Instead she waited while he swept off the seat with his hand and then stood abruptly, nodding at his companions and jerking his thumb over his shoulder. The group of them got up and left.

Dani took the vacated seat, shaking her head and chuckling. “One day, when my kid’s in trouble, it’s not going to call you, the cool aunt. Oh no, it’ll come straight home to me because you are so not gonna provide bail money.”

“Oh honey, your kid’s already a lost cause—it’ll be arrested before you leave the hospital. Now I,” Tash set down her purse next to Dani, “will go get that drink and try to pretend like I’ve been here for an hour.” She slipped away from the table, squeezing between patrons again. At least she wasn’t underdressed by the look of it; everyone around here dressed casual no matter the occasion, so her dark low-rise jeans and black tank top fit in fine. She swiped curly black hair from her brow and wedged herself in a spot at the bar.

The bartender was at the other end, rushing to take orders. It seemed insane they only had one guy working tonight. She frowned as she waited, drumming her fingers on the countertop. Patience was not something she’d been born with and she wouldn’t start now. With a sigh she left the bar and headed around the side, ducking beneath the counter and heading straight for the mini-fridge.

“Hey!” the guy at the end called but she gave him her warning look. She didn’t immediately recognize him but he must’ve known her as he backed off. “Sorry,” he continued while she retrieved a bottle of water for Dani and bottle of smoked Scotch ale for herself. “Amy is AWOL and I can’t get in a replacement.”

“On the guest of honor’s tab,” she said, indicating the bottles, then ducked back out from under the bar.

Adam Cooper spotted her and headed over, eyes darting to the water and mouth opening to likely come up with some explanation.

She handed him the bottle of water for Dani. “Go, take this to your woman before she expires.”

“Where the hell have you been?”

Tash rolled her eyes. “Working. You don’t want to know.” Her back still hurt from the tree she’d been lodged in for hours waiting for her client’s husband to show up with his mistress. The good news was she had photos and soon the other half of her paycheck. The bad news was she nearly missed her boss’s retirement party.

“They haven’t done the cake yet—they were waiting for you.”

She winced. “I know, I’m sorry. Give Dani her water and I’ll come sit with you guys in a sec.”

They parted, Adam for the center of the restaurant where Dani waited and Natasha for the door at the back that said KITCHEN – STAFF ONLY. She wasn’t staff but, much like the bar, it didn’t stop her from strolling in like she owned the place. She hadn’t opened her bottle of ale yet but just holding the condensation-drenched bottle cooled her off considerably.

Shoulder-first, she pushed through the staff door and into the brightly lit kitchen. One fan spun overhead while another sat on the end of the counter and turned back and forth, drying the sweat on her skin and blowing her hair.

A familiar person leaned against the counter, holding open a paperback book with a worn spine—an old Harlequin, of all things, and it caused a bit of cognitive dissonance, seeing a large, gruff man in old jeans and a crookedly-buttoned denim shirt reading a romance novel.

“Hey kid,” he said without looking up.

“You hiding?” She strolled over to his side. Gregory Malone, local private investigator extraordinaire, and her boss and mentor for the past few years. Though he wasn’t doing anything with his retirement other than fishing and spending time with his wife, Natasha would still miss him.

Malone waved her off, eyes still on his book. “They didn’t notice.”

She leaned against the counter next to him and unscrewed the cap from her drink. “They’re gonna notice when I bring out the cake and there’s no one to cut it.”

He sighed, dog-eared the page he was on, and closed the book. Tash offered him her ale, which he accepted. “Maybe I can put it off—”

“Nuh-uh, no way. Again, there is cake, sir. Cake. You can’t put it off once there’s cake involved.”

He took a pull from the smoked ale, then gazed down at the bottle appreciatively. “Yeah, and Susan’ll be on my case about it. But,” he glanced at Tash sideways, “you know I’m still here. If you need anything—”

“I’ll be fine,” she promised. And she would, too. She’d been preparing for this, after all. Long hours, extra cases. Sure, the sign would still read MALONE AND ASSOCIATES, PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS on the door. For now. People trusted the Malone name, after all.

Eventually it would be Whitaker. In the meantime, she was basically the new Malone.

“You head out,” she patted his shoulder, “and I’ll find the cake.” The heels of her sandals clicked on the tile as she crossed the bright kitchen.

“Tash.”

She paused and glanced over her shoulder.

Malone stood tall and when he wasn’t slouching, he looked imposing—a big, bearded mountain who was like a wall of fleshy denim. But he had a soft heart and a soft smile, the latter of which he offered her now. “You know there’s no race. Take a break once in a while. Have fun. It’s even more important when I’m gone.”

“I promise I will. There’ll be Dani’s baby to concern myself with and who knows, I might even date. Maybe. At some point.” Before he could laugh, she added, “It could happen.”

Malone shook his head, mumbled something she couldn’t make out, and ambled out of the kitchen.

Tash sighed and continued for the fridge. Honestly, she didn’t see the big deal. Plenty of men worked long hours and no one said a word. But she was twenty-seven and suddenly a woman who took her job seriously was cause for concern? Antiquated attitudes prevailed in town, and while it wasn’t a surprise, it still burned her a little.

She found the huge white cake inside the fridge. It just barely fit, the sides narrowly close to brushing icing on the refrigerator walls. For a moment she stared down at it—a blue lake across the front of it and fishing pole. HAPPY RETIREMENT, GREGORY!

Her eyes were wet and heavy, an unexpected swell of emotion rushing over her. He’d been a good boss, a good mentor. And even though it merely meant he wouldn’t be working in the office anymore, still, things were changing.

With a sigh, Tash carefully slid the cake from a fridge, knocked the door shut with her heel, and headed out of the kitchen.

 

****

 

The party was still in full swing but the heat was definitely getting to Natasha. Adam had taken Danyiah home already, a few of the families had left, and the noise inside had grown louder, full of raucous laughter and loud music. She slipped outside, unnoticed, for air.

There wasn’t much to be had outside, the atmosphere heavy and stagnant. She leaned against the side of the Bar & Grill and wished she could’ve brought a beer.

A glance at her watch put it at after eleven. Tomorrow was Saturday and while technically not a work day, she’d be in the office anyway. There were the last of Malone’s files to sort, the upcoming week’s cases to go over, and a host of other things.

Main Street was silent, with the whole town mostly closed up even on a Friday night. There was another bar open a few blocks away, but aside from the thrum of heavy metal and periodic shouting voices that carried, Stirling Falls might as well have been a ghost town.

Dirt scraping under shoe treads drew her attention to the left. An alley bisected Main Street, right by the Bar & Grill. Shadows hid whoever was there until light at the end of a cigarette flared, briefly showing the figure of a man before fading. Smoke drifted out.

“Private party?” he asked, and the cigarette flared again. His voice was deep and rich, edged in gravel—the kind of voice that could give a girl goose bumps if he said just the right thing.

“Yes and no. It’d be awkward if you didn’t know the guest of honor. There’s Eight’s over on Prince, though. Follow the noise. Pay extra and they’ll let you smoke in there, too.”

He blew out more smoke, pale gray floating onto the street. “I should quit.”

“Probably.” Naturally nosy, she tried to peer at him as closely as possible without actually staring. But the shadows were too thick to make out much other than his height and build—tall and broad. Her lips parted to say more but a revved engine and squeal of tires drew her focus to her right.

A dark two-door car halted in the street outside of the Bar & Grill, double parking on an angle. The driver’s door swung open while the car was still rocking, engine still running and headlights cutting across the road. A man flew out of the vehicle, face violently red and she didn’t think it was from the heat.

As Tash recognized him, she started backing for the Bar & Grill’s door.

“You!” He thrust his finger forward as he ran toward her. He wasn’t a terribly big guy but anger had a way of making an average-sized man seem huge. “I’m gonna kill you!”

She reached for her purse and belatedly realized she’d left it inside at Gus’s table, which was where her Beretta 92F waited in a holster. “Calm down, Gordie—”

“You were on private property—”

“With your wife’s permission—”

“Invading my privacy—”

“While you were violating your marriage vows—”

He hadn’t slowed, still heading straight for her. Her back struck the side of the restaurant, the window behind her rattling—the door was three feet away and now Gordie Martin was too close to avoid, getting right in her face, his still-pointing finger nearly striking her throat.

“Neighbor’s kid took a picture of you up in the tree outside my window!”

Damn technology. It wasn’t like the good ol’ days in movies anymore—now people in her line of work were as likely to be recorded as whoever she was hired to spy on. Gordie’s wife probably could’ve hired the neighborhood kids with cell phones to film her husband and his mistress, and saved a lot of money.

“At least any photos of me were G-rated,” Tash offered with a shrug.

His face went redder, which she scarcely thought was possible. Gordie launched himself at her and she pulled her fist back to punch him.

Instead another body collided with his, grasping Gordie’s wrist and jerking his arm back. The stranger twisted her attacker around and thrust him forward, slamming him on the hood of the car.

While she didn’t have her gun, she did have her cell phone in her back pocket, which she withdrew and began dialing. “Charges of threats and attempted assault will look great for you during your divorce proceedings, I’m sure,” Tash said with a dramatic sigh. “Can’t wait ’til this info goes public.”

Gordie muttered under his breath. When the stranger stepped back, the other man moved, shoving off the car, casting a glare at Tash, and then returning to his car.

She kept the phone at her ear until he’d sped off and the car was out of sight. Well, that was going to go over well with her client—the woman would not be happy that she’d been made. She’d have to get the photos to her first thing in the morning—and get paid—before Gordie could explain or apologize convincingly.

“Exciting times in Stirling Falls.” She ended the call mid-dialing and returned her phone to her back pocket, then shifted her attention to the man who had intervened.

His back was mostly to her as he stared in the direction Gordie’s car had gone. He wore a dark jacket despite the heat, chocolate-colored hair cut short—it looked like a fresh trim. Caucasian. Little else she could make out. Tash took a step to the right, casually, angling herself to at least see his profile. His nose was well-cut and proud, jaw square and a flicker of movement suggested he ground his teeth. She couldn’t make out the color of his eyes with the shadow streetlights cast, but they were narrowed, still, on where Gordie had disappeared.

“Thanks,” she offered as she continued to study him.

He turned, shifting his attention away from the direction Gordie had taken. The hardness of his expression faded as his eyes settled on hers.

A rolling heat burned under her skin, her heart fluttering with just a smoldering look. Her mouth was dry. She licked her lips, tried to find her voice. “Buy you a beer?”

His lips parted to speak when the door to the Bar & Grill opened. Noise spilled out, as did people. He snapped his mouth closed and turned his head away.

Natasha glanced over her shoulder to see a couple exiting the restaurant, arm in arm, chuckling. She swung back, but the other man had left. A glance both left and right down the street, and she found no sign of him.

Out-of-towners are weird.

Well, she’d just have to buy herself a beer. With a sigh, Tash headed back inside for one more drink before heading home.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

ARe's Ultimate Shifter Challenge

Exciting news! Maddox from Bad Moon Rising is a finalist in All Romance eBook's Ultimate Shifter Challenge. Thirty-two alpha male shifters compete for the crown.

The first round of voting is open. Sign in to ARe and head here: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/contest_shifter_challenge.html

You can only vote once per bracket and each week a random winner will be selected to receive a $25 GC!

Friday, June 28, 2013

What I'm Working On: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL

Well, I Who Have Nothing should've already been out, but I admit, this one's my fault--for some reason, this book has been a total pain to come together. I reached a point where I had to say, okay, do you keep beating your head against a wall, or do you move on to something else? Hoping that some distance will help when I go back to IWHN, I decided to work on Sympathy for the Devil, the sequel to Wild Horses.

And this one's definitely flowing! I'm hoping you'll get to see it late July or maybe August.

It's decidedly darker than Wild Horses. The humor readers enjoyed from the first book isn't really present, as it's a different couple and therefore a different tone. The suspense/mystery is heightened and is firmly at the forefront, though the sex is still steamy and kinky. It's a bit of a departure but I'm loving it.

So that's where things are with me. Afterward, I'll finish up I Who Have Nothing, update with more details about Cats in Heat, get started on Gimme Shelter (Stirling Falls #3), and go from there.  Longer books do take longer to write, and while I'd love to add a few fun novellas here and there, I learned my lesson with WH: Cold, Cold Winter (I think everyone hated that *sigh*). If I'm quiet, know I'm still hard at work!

The blurb for Sympathy as a refresher:

Natasha Whitaker is a workaholic, putting in long hours to acclimate herself to the P.I. business in preparation to take over for her aging mentor. But the day after her boss’s retirement doesn’t bring the usual insurance fraud and cheating spouses: instead, a dead body shows up in a startling similar fashion to a home invasion cold case from years ago.
 
Complicating matters is the return of Devin Archer--estranged husband of the original victim--to Stirling Falls. He was the prime suspect in the first case, though slipped away when there wasn’t enough evidence to prove his guilt. With bodies piling up the same time as his arrival, all eyes in town turn to him once again.
 
Tash is hired by the brother of the first victim to keep tabs on Devin, a task she eagerly accepts. But she can’t help her attraction to this dark, potentially dangerous suspect, or deny the instant heat between them. Is Devin a broken man still suffering from the loss of his wife, or a cold-blooded killer setting his sights on Tash as his next victim?


One final note: my publisher Phaze is having a summer sale. Until September, you can get 20% off everything. Enter the coupon code SUN at checkout. You'll find a list of my current and upcoming books here.

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Release: Bad Moon Rising

Sexy werewolves are here.

Bad Moon Rising is now available for purchase at Phaze Books. It'll go live in the next few days at Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and B&N Nook.

You can read the first chapter here.

To celebrate this paranormal release, I'm offering my first PNR short, Somebody to Love: A Ghost Story, for half off--just $1.49. Right now the new price is live on Kindle and Smashwords, and the price will update at other resellers during the next couple of weeks. Not sure how long the sale will last, so grab it while you can.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bad Moon Rising - Excerpt

Next Tuesdays sees the release of my new IR shifter novella, Bad Moon Rising, from Phaze!

To celebrate the new release, my first paranormal romance Somebody to Love: A Ghost Story will be going on sale for half price at all retailers--just $1.49! The sale will go for a couple of weeks and if you haven't picked up a copy yet, I hope you get a chance.

Read on for an excerpt from Bad Moon Rising!


 

Chapter One



The party at Bad Moon Rising was in full swing. Classic rock blasted over the speakers but was barely audible over the din of voices and laughter from the bar’s patrons.

Abriella Simone worked the bar, keeping busy by mixing drinks. Her hooded red cloak hung off her shoulders, the sash at her neck pulling slightly as she bustled about.

Her coworker, Pam, stopped at the end of the bar and set her tray on the counter. “A pitcher of Red and three Porn Stars!”

Like I don’t have enough here. “I’m coming!” Brie said instead of complaining. She ducked a wadded napkin flying through the air and mixed a Whiskey Sour for the next guy in line. Stephen was already ringing someone up at the cash register, at least, so he took care of collecting the money while she started on the order Pam brought.

The waitress was tapping her long, manicured black nails on the counter while Abriella filled a pitcher with beer and then set about mixing up the cocktails. A straw in each of the glasses and they were good to go; she set everything on the tray and nodded.

Pam made a face as she hefted the heavy tray up, rolled her blue eyes, and then plastered on a fake smile to deliver the drinks.

With a brief break of no customers for a moment, Brie grabbed a cloth and gave the bar a good wipe-down, then snatched a dish of peanuts to refill in the staff area. A glance at the clock revealed it was only eleven-thirty—still a couple of hours left. At least she was keeping busy.

In the rear of the bar was the kitchen, and stepping through the door afforded her ears a break as it dulled the music and voices. Her heels clicked on the tile as she made her way for the pantry cupboard.

She nearly collided with a tall, broad figure as he stepped from the backroom, arms stacked high with bags of tortilla chips. His steps skidded to a halt and half the bags went flying.

“I’m sorry!” Brie scrambled to collect some of the fallen bags.

“No problem,” came the low, easy voice of her boss, Lee Wheeler.

As far as bosses went, he was great, but she’d had her share of quick to anger tyrants, and she swiftly gathered the still-sealed packages from the floor as to not abuse his goodwill.

Lee stacked the bags on the counter and took the remaining ones from her arms. “Really, no harm.”

“Still. I’m not usually so klutzy.”

He waved her off. “Busy night. Everyone’s a bit frazzled.”

That was true. She hadn’t had time to sit down since she started. Her feet ached in a pair of sexy Mary Jane heels after being behind the bar for four hours, but the tips slipped her way for her Little Red Riding Hood getup were totally worth the discomfort.

With no one to run into this time, she finished her trek for the peanuts from the pantry and snatched the tin from the top shelf.

“Can you grab the salsa?” Lee asked.

“Sure thing.” She stacked two large jars on top of the peanut tins and went to him at the counter.

Lee had half a dozen chip bowls set up where he emptied the contents of the bags. Dishes for dips hung off the sides; he handed her a spoon and nodded to one. “A few scoops of salsa. Freebies for the crowd.”

And that was why everyone loved Bad Moon Rising—Lee was generous. She set to scooping out salsa per his instructions.

“Say, when was your last break?” he asked.

“Um...during my shift yesterday.”

His dark eyes moved her way and he cocked a brow. “You need a break.”

“I’m fine—”

“Break.” He pushed two chip bowls that were ready her way. “Booth one and booth two—I’ll be bringing the rest and I can work the bar for a bit. You take thirty to rest. Or dance, have fun. I promise the boss won’t mind.”

“I dunno, I heard he’s a bit of a tyrant,” she teased.

His grin was sexy and easy as he gazed down at her. “Nah, he’s a pussycat. I’m sure he won’t notice either if Stephen gets you a drink. On the house.”

She scooped up the two bowls of chips and salsa. “Yes, sir.” Two steps toward the door and she turned back to him. “Oh, the—”

“I’ll worry about the peanuts, darlin’. Go take a break.”

Well, she certainly wasn’t going to argue.

Abriella slipped out of the kitchen, back into the fray.

Patrons were dressed in all manner of costumes—lots of cats and mice among the women, which involved leotards, headbands with ears, and stilettos. Some witches, some ghosts. Among the men were a dozen pirates, some ninjas, and a few full body monster costumes. Masks abounded and there were several people she didn’t recognize at all.

She dropped the chips and salsa off at booth one and two, and then swung around for the bar, squeezing past patrons so she could order a drink.

Stephen had worked the longest of any of them at Bad Moon Rising, next to Lee himself, and grinned as she stepped up to see him. “’Bout time you took a break. What’ll it be?”

“Sex on the Beach,” she returned and laughed as he raised a brow suggestively.

“Coming right up.”

She turned to face the crowd while she waited for the drink, her gaze drifting over everyone. Space was cleared in the center for dancing and people took advantage of it, about twenty or so of them in a tangled mess of bodies and arms and legs.

Stephen nudged her shoulder with her drink, which she accepted with thanks. Her lips wrapped around the straw and she took a long drink, sweet alcohol flooding her taste buds and rolling down her throat. Prickles ran down her spine, her body coming alive with awareness as she sensed someone watching her. She scanned the crowd for someone she recognized.

Her gaze snagged that of a man across the room.

He stood a head over most the people there. A black T-shirt and a black jacket were stretched over broad shoulders and a muscled torso. Dark hair was loose and nearly to his shoulders, looking silky to the touch. A wolf mask hid his face, however, blocking all features but his eyes from view.

He was most definitely looking at her, though.

She’d seen him earlier, across the room standing outside the crowd. He’d been holding a beer then though she didn’t remember him coming up to order it, and it was gone now. She didn’t think he was there with anyone. Though tempted to wave in case she knew him, instead she averted her eyes.

A shiver ran through her despite the heat from the room and the alcohol flushing her face with warm blood. She took another long sip of her drink and debated. She was social, sure, but not that forward of a girl—she didn’t run up to strangers in masks and make small talk. No, she was used to being friendly as part of her job—patrons bought more drinks if they had a nice girl with a sympathetic ear—but outside of work she kept to herself, went on nice normal dates.

Still, something buzzed under her skin, sliding down her spine and spreading warmth through her veins. The point of Bad Moon Rising’s monthly full moon costume party was to be someone else, wasn’t it?

And she was dressed the part. She wore a black corset, red and black short skirt, and then the red satin cloak that came to mid-thigh. Ruby red lipstick, her black hair long and loose, and dramatic eye shadow completed the look. She managed to out-vamp Pam that evening, which was no small feat considering she was dressed like a vampire stripper.

And Little Red Riding Hood can’t very well ignore the big bad wolf, now can she?

Abriella drained the rest of her drink. She had another twenty minutes before she had to head back to the bar. The least she could do was have some fun, maybe dance a little. Perhaps Mr. Wolf would stroll over and say hi.

She left the safety of the bar and strolled for the dance floor, a happy buzz settling in her veins. Dancers were in loose groups, swaying to Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks”, and she shifted toward a few people she recognized. Her neighbor, twenty-something Laverne, was dressed as a pixie, her wings shimmering and a smattering of glitter shone across her skin. Laverne waved and Abriella made her way over. At least she’d have some company while making eyes at Mr. Wolf.

She wove through the crowd, squeezing between couples. The slow, sensual beat of the music thrummed in her bones and she swayed her hips, tipped her head back, enjoying being lost for a moment and away from slinging drinks and playing nice with the drunks.

Heat warmed her back, the undeniable feeling of someone behind her. A smile curved her lips before she opened her eyes, sensing his hand on her hip before she felt it.

Mr. Wolf was at her back, moving with her in a sensual dance. She shuddered, feeling his possessive grip, and turned her head to look up at him. Even with her heels, he stood more than a head over her. Brown eyes looked backed from behind the mask, smoky with desire. Her heart tripped up just staring at him and she was very aware of her exposed cleavage displayed by the corset. A blush worked across her dark skin, rolling from her cheeks down her neck straight to the top of her breasts.

“Why, Mr. Wolf, what big eyes you have,” she said in a breathy voice.

“The better to see you with, Red,” he returned, his grip on her hip tightening.

She inched back, pressed right up against him. Laverne was in her peripheral vision, and though she expected a stare, her neighbor didn’t pay any attention. In fact, Little Red Riding Hood and her Big Bad Wolf could’ve been in the middle of the forest all alone for all anyone else in the bar noticed, and she rather liked it.

Out of character for her, maybe, but Brie had spent much of her life being normal and safe, and this was merely a dance, after all. She snuggled right into him, her hips still swaying. His other hand touched her shoulder, pulling back the cloak to expose her bare skin and trail his fingers along there. She shivered, tingles of pleasure running through her skin. Her head tilted to the side, neck exposed and vulnerable, and if he hadn’t worn the mask she wondered if his lips would descend and press a kiss to her fevered flesh.

But he didn’t remove the mask, instead keeping up his werewolf alter ego. Brie turned to face him, still locked close to him, her hands sliding up his torso to rest on his chest. He drew in a breath, his heart thudding beneath her fingertips, and she loved the idea that beneath the dominant exterior this Mr. Wolf was as thrilled at her touch as she was with his.

She studied the mask and tried to picture the man behind it. Small town, she knew nearly everyone—surely he was someone who came in here often or at least lived in the area. But if she knew him, she couldn’t place him.

Too soon the song ended. She was prepared to continue but he slowed to a stop even as the next tune began.

“Have grandmothers to abduct and eat?” she asked.

His hand folded over hers, sending electric shivers through her body. “Maybe I’ll see you again if you go walking the woods, Red.” He lifted his mask just slightly, enough for her to catch a strong, square jaw and full lips, but that was all. He pressed a warm kiss to her knuckles, then let her hand drop again. With a little nod, he backed up and slipped into the crowd.

Though she tried to peer past the others, she couldn’t see where he went. Her shoulders sank and she let out a sigh. Well, she had fun for a little while. Maybe she’d grab another drink before her break ended.