Monday, May 30, 2011

Newsletter, May 2011

News
Back from my travels! I went to RT Booklover’s Convention in LA, and so I took the opportunity to go to San Francisco beforehand, with a friend, Cait Miller. We had a great time, and saw a lot of things, and I could cut a few more things on my Things To Do list. I have always, always wanted to walk down Haight, and stand on Haight/Ashbury, and I did it. I knew it would be tourist-ridden (including me!) and I knew it wouldn’t be magical, but I didn’t expect to be offered a “special brownie”! Not that I accepted, but it was nice to be asked! So many iconic places from my youth and it was such a thrill to see them. Yes, I turned into Typical Tourist, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed it thoroughly. We also went to Alcatraz on a night cruise. The view of San Francisco is breathtaking, but the place itself is the stuff of nightmares. The atmosphere catches you by the throat and doesn’t let go. Deeply disturbing, but I’m so glad I went. I learned a lot there, and it might yet come out in a book.
LA was interesting, too. I stayed in a great hotel (remind me never to stay less than three star in future!) in a dicey area of Hollywood, but I’d chosen the hotel because it was across the road from a metro station, so it was fine. And a great price, too. I went on a tour of Warner Brothers, which was really good, and visited some of the museums and art galleries, including the Getty. The decorative arts collection is first class. The paintings not so much, one or two good ones, and a lot of secondary works by major artists, or primary works by secondary artists. But as I understand it, JP Getty was more interested in the decorative arts. It shows.
The bus tours in both cities were great. Highly recommended. I’d say when you visit a place like LA, go and see the things it’s known for best. The studio tours, the Kodak Theatre, all that stuff. Because that was unparalleled and highly enjoyable.
Then it was on to the Westin Bonaventure, and the Convention. One of the best yet, of the ones I’ve been to. Kathryn and Kenneth know how to throw a party, with the help of the wonderful Jo Carol and her teams. All of them helped to make the convention great. The bar at the hotel was wonderful, perfectly situated to wander around and talk, and join friends.
I loved the ATF demonstration with the two dogs, the sniffer and attack dogs, and for this Brit, seeing the weapons that the ATF had taken off the street was jaw-dropping. They let us handle them, and I had my picture taken by Andrew Peterson (get his book, it’s a goodie) with one of the biggest guns.
We had a great Cougar Growl in Club RT, and my panel, while sparsely attended, did very well. It was a bit nerve-racking, captaining my first panel, but it went reasonably smoothly.
A lot of RT happens off campus for me these days. I had dinner with some of my publishers, and caught up with the others at special events. And yes, I went to a BDSM club! One of our number, Allie Standifer, had asked them, and we went, just for the research, you understand. I made the mistake of putting my hair in a high pony tail, because I thought it was kind of appropriate with the black skirt and top I was wearing. Well, erm, it seemed that pony tails were worn by the Doms in this place. I am not a Dom, at least I don’t think I am. There was a two man one woman mĂ©nage going on in the chair next to me, and a woman gave a wonderful flogging display (she didn’t leave a mark, just a pink glow) and then took her pony tail out, took her top clothes off and turned into a switch.
Oh yes, you can bet it was eye-opening!
We also went to the Viper Room to see the band Run, Devil, Run. A good rock band. There were seven or eight booths, that was all, and it was like every club you’ve ever been to. I guess there’s a VIP room, or the equivalent, and the door opened straight on to the street for anyone who wanted a smoke. But you never know, Jonny Depp, who was in town that week promoting “Pirates” and I might even have shared the same seat! Well, a girl can dream!

And for news – I have sold a book to Ellora’s Cave, the next STORM book, which features the dragon shapeshifter Andros, the brother of Ania from “Red Inferno.” I’ve also sold a story to Total E-bound, for an anthology. I don’t usually write shorter than novella, but this story worked for me, and I had a lot of fun writing it. And I have sold to a new publisher! Carina have accepted “Learning to Trust,” a romantic suspense I just had to write, after getting the idea late last year. I am thrilled to be working with Angela James again.
The book that was giving me a lot of trouble, the final Richard and Rose, is in the hands of my editor at Samhain, and I’m waiting to hear if she likes it. It was so hard to write, because I was saying goodbye, at least for now, and because I wanted to write a book that would satisfy. But I got it done, amongst tears and laughter.

So you might say I’ve been busy! Right now I’m finishing a story I want to submit to Ellora’s Cave, a new book in a new series that I can’t tell you about right now because it’s not been announced. But I am very excited by it, and I’ve really enjoyed writing it.

As always, if you want to know anything, if you review for a site and want review copies, or if you just want to chat, do get in touch. I love to hear from you!

Excerpt

How about something from my other March release, the rewrite of “Griffin’s Treasure”? This is the book that won the EPPIE for Paranormal Romance in 2004, but I’ve heavily rewritten it for its re-release, and to make sense of the order in which it now appears.
This extract isn’t suitable for the under 18’s.


International soccer star Josh Friedland has a secret. He's a griffin shapeshifter, and a covert operative for Department 57. Josh's brother Laurie is missing, and Josh is sure businessman George Skeffington is involved. So he definitely can't trust Skeffington's stepdaughter, Chana Rafiz, even though he wants her with every fiber of his being.
When her controlling stepfather asks Chana to look after his guest, she suspects another trick to keep her by his side; only she finds that Josh is the man she's been waiting for all her life. Long, hot Californian nights see their bodies twined in more inventive positions than Chana even knew existed, but when she finally discovers his secret, she uncovers another. One about herself that'd been kept from her her whole life.
Together, Josh and Chana have to face dangers only Department 57 can help them with, but they plunge the whole Department into peril. If the Department is to endure, and Laurie is to be found, Josh and Chana must defeat the longest odds to succeed in their mission.


By the time the last stragglers left, it was nearly three a.m., and exhaustion filled Chana. Knowing she had to get up in the morning to attend to Josh’s requirements, she staggered upstairs to get to bed as quickly as possible. Only when she stood outside the door to her bedroom did she realize her stepfather hadn’t even thanked her for her efforts. She remained by the door, her forehead resting on the wall, gathering her thoughts before she went inside, because she knew as soon as she took off her clothes, she’d be asleep.
A sound just behind her made her start, fully awake. “Tired?”
“Oh, I didn’t hear you.” Heart beating wildly, she turned to confront Josh.
He stood very close to her, so he didn’t have to move to take her in his arms, except to curve them around her and urge her to lean against him instead of the wall.
“You’re done in. Come on, I’ll help you.”
He’d changed out of his tuxedo and wore a soft robe of silk that came down to his knees. As far as she knew he wore nothing else.
She heard the catch on her door click as he opened it, and then he guided her inside.
“I’ll just help you into bed. Then I’ll go. I won’t hit on you. Enough people have tried to do that tonight.” His voice turned grim. “I hope your stepfather’s paying you well for this. I wouldn’t let you do this, if you were mine. Come on.”
Her gown unzipped at the back, and the halter parted around her neck. Too tired to protest, she felt the gown slide down her body. When she began to pull away, he hushed her with soft words and led her to the bathroom.
She hadn’t known what he intended until she heard the shower, the hard sound of water on tile. With a sinking heart, she realized her evening hadn’t ended. She felt too tired to enjoy any sexual encounter she might share with Josh. Yes, she found him attractive. Yes, she would probably have ended up in bed with him sooner or later, but not tonight.
He lifted her with gentle hands, and his voice came just as gently. “No, not tonight. I’ll help you get ready for bed. That’s all. You’re too knackered to do it for yourself. How do you take your makeup off?”
With an effort, she lifted her head and stared at him, his golden eyes clear and wakeful, watching her calmly. “Cream in the cupboard over there.”
He chuckled. “Get in the shower. I’ll bring the cleanser.”
She did as he told her, stripping off her thong and stockings before she got in and gloried in the warm spray cleaning her body. He’d taken off the needle setting she usually used and set the temperature to pleasantly warm. He’d aimed everything at relaxing her. She felt cared for, the notion alien to her.
When he drew back the screen and got in, she didn’t protest; she only wished she could stay awake enough to appreciate the toned body drawing her close. His arousal jutted against her stomach. “Ignore it,” he told her. “I want you—of course I do—but that’s not what this is about. Not now.”
He reached for the cream and tilted her face up, stepping back so his body was out of the hot stream of water. She hadn’t realized the simple action of spreading cleanser on her face could feel so enjoyable, but his gentle touch made it more than that. Despite her exhaustion, her lower body stirred, came awake, although he did nothing other than clean the makeup off her face. He reached for a handful of tissues he’d placed on the broad shelf at the end of the shower and wiped her face gently, paying special attention to her eyes, which she’d loaded with cover-up and mascara to hide her tiredness.
“Keep them closed,” he murmured and steered her under the shower again, tipping her head up to receive the gentle, warm spray.
“You do that better than I do,” she confessed. “Sometimes I just wash it all off with soap.”
“Hmmm.”
She shook her head and opened her eyes to see him pick up a bottle of shampoo.
“Turn around.” He pulled her against his chest, where she rested gratefully while he pulled out all her hairpins, tossing them on the shelf. When they’d all gone, he ran his fingers through her hair, loosening its heavy weight and letting the water soak through. “You apply makeup very well. Too well.”
“What does that mean?”
“It wasn’t until I took it off I saw the shadows under your eyes.” He rubbed shampoo through her hair.
“How much do you charge for showering women? I could employ you every day.”
He chuckled. “I might be too expensive for you.”
“You’d be surprised. My expense account is very large.”
“Who’s talking money?”
He pulled her back when she jerked away in shock, realizing just how relaxed she felt with him. How could she allow him to take her off guard like this? She’d opened to him again, let his mind soothe hers, persuade her to take part in this outrageous scene.
“Don’t worry,” he said as if he could read her. Of course he could. She’d just let him. “We’ll talk about it another time. For now, just accept that it is. That we can communicate mentally. Your barrier is strong, so I can’t read your inmost thoughts, just your outer layer. Okay?”
She nodded, relishing the sensation of his fingertips gently massaging the shampoo through her hair. He guided her head under the showerhead to rinse, then drew her close to him again, her back to his front. His cock pushed against her, and she flinched before relaxing back against him. “You’d be puzzled if it didn’t happen, wouldn’t you?”
Yes, she would. They were naked and relatively fit, so yes, a natural reaction when she thought about it in that way. “I’m too old for you. You shouldn’t want me.”
A rumble began low in his chest and erupted in a gale of laughter, but he wouldn’t let her go, holding her around her waist, close to him. “You have no idea,” he managed weakly. “No idea at all.”
He wouldn’t explain but instead reached for the body shampoo. It smelled of one of her favorite scents—vanilla—sweet but not too feminine for him to use. He disdained the sponge and washcloth, using his hands to smooth the shampoo over both of them, turning her to face him. Kneeling down, he soaped her legs, her calves, her thighs, then her pubis. That he sent thrills through her when he touched her sensitized skin was hardly his fault. He couldn’t have failed to notice.
“Relax,” he said. “I’d have to be a monster to take you now. Your tiredness is beating at my mind. You’ll be in bed soon, I promise.” He separated her labia, guided her so the water rinsed her, and just grazed her clit when he released her. A sharp jolt of arousal went through her, enervating her, but he didn’t take advantage. He could, so easily.
He rinsed her thoroughly but slowly, doing nothing to break the sense of warmth and well-being suffusing her mind and body. He leaned over her to turn off the water.
“Just relax. I’ll do everything. Close your eyes, sweetheart.”
She did as he asked her, feeling the warmth of a soft towel draped around her shoulders. He toweled her hair, then rubbed her body, all his movements cherishing, gently caring rather than arousing. “You’re in complete control of your body, aren’t you?”
His rich chuckle answered her. “Almost. I have to be, in my game.” He lifted the towel away from her hair and then lifted her into his arms. His lips, pressing softly against hers in a featherlight kiss, hushed her small squeak of protest. She relaxed as he took her through to the bedroom and laid her against the cover, pulling it back before lifting her to lie on the crisp ivory sheets. Before he could cover her, she gripped his wrist and opened her eyes.
He gazed at her. Only the bedside light remained on, and softened by the golden shade, his skin gleamed invitingly. “Don’t go yet,” she murmured. “Please stay for a while. Get into bed with me.”
She didn’t want to be alone. She spent every night alone. A long time had passed since she’d shared the dark hours with anyone else. Tonight she wanted company, and she no longer cared if he wanted sex in return. She’d welcome it. His toned, gorgeous body made her mouth water, he liked her, and this would be the first time she’d had a younger man in her bed.
He met her gaze honestly, and she felt him stirring in her mind, removing his presence. She didn’t want that.
“I can’t,” he whispered, so close his breath heated her skin. “I’m at the end of my endurance.” His mouth flattened in a wry grin. “I have to go, or you’ll get no sleep.”
“I can stay awake a little while longer.”
“You need to sleep.”
“Please, just get in.”
He straightened and glanced around the room. “If I get into bed with you, I’ll make love to you. Fuck you. Are you sure you want that?”