Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"In The Mood" is free for two weeks!

 In The Mood is free for two weeks starting 23rd September! Get your copy here! or use the Amazon link at the bottom of the page!

When I started to write In The Mood I had no idea it would turn into a series. I just wanted to write a book about people who interested me in a city I love - Chicago.
The characters had been bothering me for some time. A burned-out ex-lead singer for a rock band, now reinventing his life after rehab, and a saxophone player with stage fright.
When you walk past blues clubs in Chicago the most wonderful music drifts out to meet you and this is what happens at the start of the story. Matt is walking past a blues club and he hears a saxophone playing "Summertime." He goes inside and he's confronted by the woman of his dreams.
The way the story unfolded shocked me, because it led to more characters I felt I just had to write about. Murder City Ravens is a rock band on a fast trajectory to the top, but that sudden success brings problems with it. I had to write about the different band members and the way that fame impacts on each one, but V is the start, and she will always have a special place in my heart. Each book can be read as a standalone title.
"Fascinating Rhythm," the fourth book in the series, came out earlier this month. That has the Swedish drummer for the band and his deaf girlfriend.
Here's the book description and a brief excerpt. And don't forget, it's free for two weeks!

The sound of a saxophone drifting out of a Chicago blues club sends Matt inside, hoping to sign the player for his recording studio. Instead he finds V. Passion drives them from that moment on, and Matt can’t get enough of her sweet body and generous spirit. But as a former drug addict who spectacularly crashed out of the rock band Murder City Ravens, he has a lot to prove.
 V thinks she’s happy with her lot until she receives an offer to join one of the most innovative and exciting bands in the world. Joining Murder City Ravens could sever her from Matt forever. How can she join the band when she’s spending her nights with the man who nearly destroyed everything they had?
 Matt and V have decisions to make that might give them their life’s dream, but could split them apart. Which is more important, personal fulfillment or love? Is it possible to have both?


She stared at the tabletop and traced a ring with the tip of her finger. “Why is it so hot tonight?” she wondered before she looked up and saw why.
Most of the heat was generated by his avid gaze. She’d glanced up too fast for him to look away, or maybe he never meant to.
His gaze met hers and they burned together. She’d never felt closer to anyone in her life before, never felt anyone’s soul pass into her and through her, taking her on a wild journey to a new country.
She blinked, deliberately breaking the connection, and forced a laugh. “You’re good. Is that what you did to your fans?” She didn’t have to ask. She’d seen him once, when the band had come to Chicago on its one and only world tour when he’d sung lead.
Now she knew charisma wasn’t intangible. It existed. It sat at this table with her, watching her, daring her to do—what?
“What did I do to my fans? You saw me?”
“I-I— Yes, I saw you.” She decided to come clean. Surely she could talk about that without the situation getting worse? “You came to Chicago on your world tour. I saw what you could do then. You grabbed the audience by the balls and didn’t let go. You held them in the palm of your hand.”
He grinned and leaned back, the flimsy bentwood chair creaking under him. “It’s okay, I know what you mean. I used to watch myself and wonder what was happening. I knew I could sing, but other people sang better, did more. I had something else. I can’t define it, but you have it too.
“I couldn’t walk by the club tonight. I was getting some air and wondering how to perk up this song I’m producing. It’s a great song, and it’s definitely standout, but if I could add something else it would get to the top. Rock bands say they despise the pop single, but give them a number one, and suddenly it’s the greatest art form known to man.”
She laughed, feeling the tension splinter around them like shattering ice. “All because of you, huh?”
He shrugged. “Sometimes. They write a kickass song and then forget the arrangement. I show them how they can turn something good into great, or add a few tweaks that make a track commercial.”
She knew that was far too modest. A good arranger and a good producer could make a good recording amazing. “Is that what you’re doing? Making the Murder City Ravens track commercial?”
He lost the smile and shook his head. “No. It’s very, very good. It’ll sell because it can’t help itself.” He paused and bit his lower lip, his teeth gleaming in the low light. “But when we listened to it today I felt it could do with something more. That’s you.” His smile warmed her, and she couldn’t help but smile back.
“When did you come in tonight?”
“I heard Summertime from outside the club.” He paused. “I’d have come in anyway, just to listen. You’re very talented.”
She glanced down, taking in her sexy though not overly revealing gold dress. “Yeah, right.”
He laughed. “Believe me, you’re the model of Victorian modesty compared to some of the outfits I’ve seen in my time. Shared a stage with on occasion.” He leaned forward slightly, not enough to intimidate, enough to set up an air of increased intimacy. “But you are ten times sexier.”
Waves of heat washed over her, making her feel helpless under his gaze. She felt sexy, wanted, and although she’d felt that way before, it hadn’t happened for a long time.
The lights went out over the stage area and she looked around, startled. “Sorry. They’re getting ready to close.”
He got to his feet. “You have a coat?”
“In this weather? You bet.” She grabbed her coat from the stand by the door, then went to the bar, where the barman had her bag ready. She carried only a small purse, but since it held her credit card and keys, they always locked it away for her when she performed. Ernie winked as he handed it over and murmured, in a voice so low she wasn’t entirely sure she’d heard him right, “You go, girl. But take care, you hear?”
She rolled her eyes. “It’s like I never left home.”
“There’s a reason for that.” Ernie picked up a rag and wiped the bar, dropping her a wink. Ernie, her uncle’s best friend. He lived over the bar, so usually closed the place up. Only one other member of the bar staff remained, so pretty soon they’d have dropped the lock on the front door. Those routines came as second nature to V.
She lifted her coat only to find it taken out of her hands and held so she could put it on. She wasn’t used to that kind of treatment, except from her older relatives and she found it kind of sweet that he had such old-fashioned courtesy. Even Ernie’s deadpan expression, honed from years as a barkeep, softened a little.
She picked up her purse. “Shall we leave Ernie in peace?”
Ernie followed them to the door and, as they stepped out into the chill evening, the lock snicked behind them, followed by the sound of bolts being thrown. Now Ernie would set the alarms, clear the empty glasses and make his way to his apartment upstairs.
A few people still wandered about outside. This area didn’t sleep, and some of the clubs stayed open until much later. This wasn’t one of their late nights. But she felt as if she were in a bubble with him.
She glanced around but decided to walk to the busier street five minutes away. “Do you have far to go?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Not far. I have a place in River North.”
He raised a brow. “Coincidence, because my place is there too.”
She gave him a sly smile. “Bet you have one of those swanky loft apartments.”
He laughed. “Don’t you?”
“Not exactly. Do you mind walking, or do you want to get a cab?”
For answer, he raised his arm and like magic, a taxi drew up at the curb. She climbed in and gave him her address. “I’ll get out with you,” he said. “I don’t live far away. There are some advantages to having a well-known face,” he said, and grimaced.
“What are you talking about?”
“Would you have climbed into a cab with me if you’d just met me tonight?”
Now she understood. “Nope.” She spared him a glance. The lights of the city flickering past gave him a changeable expression, lighting up those remarkable eyes and then casting them into shadow. He sat so still, she suspected that was part of his appeal, that tranquility he projected seemingly without effort.
He was right. If she hadn’t known him for sure, she’d never have left the bar with him, much less gotten into a taxi. “Must be useful sometimes.”
He grunted an assent. “Sometimes. Sometimes it can be a pain in the ass.”
“Nope. Whatever people say, fans are good. Most of them are respectful of your space, and in any case, it’s easy to put them off if you want to. But there are other people, less straightforward.”
Should she go there? Damn right she should. “Drug dealers.”
“For sure. And other people too. People who want something. To meet the lead guitarist. To sleep with you. To hang around backstage.” He shrugged. “I don’t miss those.”
“I see.” While she could understand it intellectually, she couldn’t take the last step that took her to his exact position, but she could imagine how terrible she’d find being the center of attention all the time.
The cab drew up and they got out. He touched her waist, steadying her. The contact shimmered right through her. How could she resist this urge, stronger than anything else she could ever remember feeling before? Apart from showing a general attraction and calling her sexy, he didn’t seem affected the same way. Not so all-consuming, with that ache of sheer hunger inside, longing to be—completed.
When she encountered unexpected or strong emotions, she tried to put them aside, so she could draw on them another time, when she played her sax. Every unusual feeling made her playing stronger. Not this time. She didn’t care if it helped her artistry.
They stood on the sidewalk outside the café. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said, his voice rumbling in the quiet. This place was quieter, but lights glimmered behind some windows.
“What?” she challenged him, lifting her chin.
He caught his breath and in the next moment, he was looming over her, smiling. “Musician, remember?” He tilted up her chin and stared at her. This close he overwhelmed her, his warmth surrounded her. “Try putting this into music,” he challenged before he bent his head and kissed her.

Want more? Well for two weeks you can get more for free! Here's the Amazon link.

Friday, September 13, 2013

September News

I was busy in August, but a lot of it was ‘busywork.’ I did finish Her Dark Star, part of the Nightstar series, but it came out really long, because one of the characters turned out a lot more complex than I’d ever imagined! It was wonderful to write, but very angsty.
I also finished writing my additions to Tom Jones. Oh, I am so sorry to say goodbye to Tom, Sophia and all their friends! Writing in the style of another author, especially one as great as Henry Fielding, was a great challenge that I hope I completed at least adequately. I had to absorb his vocabulary, his way of expressing himself, and I did a list of the words he preferred to use, to help me when I wrote. One of his favourites was “passion.” Nice! He also used hugely long sentences, so I did a few, but writing them takes a special technique, because you can forget what you’re saying by the time you get to the end!
And I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I took a class on css and using divs instead of tables. I know, I still don’t understand quite why, but the best part of the class for me was how to turn a photoshop design into a website. It makes for a much more flexible design, and doing “slices” means the site is easier to load. One of the hardest things was putting in the scrollbar so the page scrolled internally. I was so proud of what I did that I put the site up. I’d love you to visit and tell me what you think, because the more it’s tested, the better it will be. I’ve checked it on my phone, computer, laptop and tablet, but I don’t have an ithing, so I can’t check it on one of those, although friends have done a bit of checking for me. Most of all I want to show it off. It was a hard course, but I rarely give in, so I kept going through the pain barrier and finally got there! I might get rid of the scrollbar, and make the page a repeating one, but you only get the nice man once. That’s the next stage, but I really needed to get on with writing. I like to rest a book between writing and editing, so the course gave me a good break.
August is my birthday month. It was also the month that we took our family holiday, to Rome. It was fabulous, but very, very hot, and I learned how to cope. Visit the nice, air conditioned museums by day, and then tour the monuments at night.
This is me and my son’s partner, enjoying cocktails!

More writing – I’m currently writing the first of the new series for Loose-Id. It’s back to vampires for me, but with a twist. The stories are set in the world of Department 57, but it’s a different aspect of life for Talents. This is concerned with the Thorndykes, the people who run threatened Talents to safety, in the Talented equivalent of the underground railroad. The hero of this first book was once a Regency rake, and enjoys holding wild parties that remind him of that time. I always wanted to combine my love of history with my love of the paranormal romance, and this is my chance.

September sees the release of a book I’m very proud of. “Fascinating Rhythm” is a book in the Nightstar series, about the members of a rock band facing global success and finding it’s not all roses.
In this one we learn about the drummer, Hunter Ostrander. I say “we” learn because it’s a learning process for me, too. As I write I learn more about the characters and sometimes I have to stop to find out more. As I did when writing the last in the series, “Her Dark Star,” about the manager of the band. Hunter has a deaf mother who is involved in the deaf separatist movement, and is a politician in Sweden. Her protégée, Sabina, is a Finnish beauty who was rendered deaf after a bacterial infection at age ten. When she has the opportunity of an operation to restore her hearing, it could mean the end of her career, but she wants to hear Hunter. He needs to reconcile with his mother, who refused to take an interest in his career.
Here’s the (gorgeous) cover, back cover description and an excerpt. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a lot of people like this book!

Is change always for the better?
Book 4 in the Nightstar series
Playing drums for Murder City Ravens is Hunter's dream. Then, back in his home country of Sweden, he encounters another dream, one he'd thought he'd lost. Sabina.
Turning deaf as a child opened doors for Icelandic beauty Sabina. Now, given the opportunity of another chance with a man she never stopped loving, and a risky operation that could restore her hearing, she is forced to choose. The deaf community she belongs to won't accept a hearing member, but she wants to hear Murder City Ravens play.

Sabina stood on the pavement and stared up at the huge front of the Lydmar hotel. It was one of the tall, white buildings, coolly classical, that gave Stockholm so much of its character, situated in the center of the city overlooking the broad expanse of the Norrström River. She’d never been inside. As was true of most local residents, hotels meant little to her.
Sabina didn’t belong here. As she walked through the glass doors and into the main body of the hotel, she wished she did. Someone had designed this place with an eye to style. The foyer didn’t feel soulless, and when Hunter touched her elbow to guide her to the restaurant, she felt almost comfortable, which she rarely did in the presence of luxury and expense. Strange. Perhaps it was because she was with him. No. That wasn’t possible. Just that she was exploring a part of Stockholm that she’d not visited before. On her days off, she sometimes came to this district to visit the museum, so it wasn’t as if she didn’t know it at all.
She hadn’t expected a hotel restaurant to contain a wall of bookshelves, neither had she expected sofas and comfortable chairs framing the tables. The maître d’ took them to their table without delay, a place set to one side of the restaurant, not in the full light. Then she understood. Hunter had become a local celebrity.
She waited until the maître d’ left them with their menus before she ventured to speak. She was sitting with her back to the restaurant and most of the sources of light. Frowning, she concentrated on his lips so as not to miss a word. “Did you know I was in Stockholm?” A faint hope, but not one she had any faith in, that he’d come back to see her as well as to visit his mother.
“I didn’t know. Emmelie never mentioned it.” He met her gaze, his own dark from the shadows, and maybe something else? No, she couldn’t think like that. Then his face lightened and he smiled. It was like the sun coming out. “But I’m glad.” He glanced around. “It’s too dark here, isn’t it?”
He beckoned the waiter and had a quiet word with him. Hunter switched from English to Swedish with the ease of someone supremely comfortable in both languages. She wondered if he had an accent of any kind. She’d love to hear it. They always spoke English together, even used ASL or SEE when they signed, dating right back to the days they’d first met.
The waiter took them to another table near a window where the light still filtered in from outside. It was only seven thirty; it wouldn’t get dark for another couple of hours. She could see him much better here. How thoughtful of him to notice and have the table changed. “Thank you,” she said.
He smiled. “I want you to enjoy the meal. Have you decided what you want to eat?”
“Scallops and steak,” she said. She’d barely glanced at the menu. “They’re famous for it here.”
He raised a brow. She remembered those eyebrows, browner than his hair, matching his lashes and the hair on his body. No, not going there. Her mind raced on, as if it had a will of its own, ignoring her commands. Six years ago, he’d had a beautiful body, only a light sprinkling of hair on his chest, his shoulders already strongly developed from playing his percussion instruments. Then, he’d considered a career as a classical percussionist but his mother had shown no interest when he’d told her. “What do I care?” she’d said. “I can’t hear any of it. Choose what you like best to do.”
Nobody except Sabina had seen his hurt, because he’d covered it with insouciance, shrugged and left the room. That was when Sabina had gone to him. Just before he left.
One thing she had to know, had wondered for all this time. “Why didn’t you write to me after you left?”
He blinked, eyes wide, and touched his finger to her lips in a gesture that left her utterly shaken. She sat back out of his reach and stared at him, unwilling to miss a single word.
He signed his answer. “This is a quiet place and you were a little loud there.” Flushing, she closed her eyes before opening them again when she thought she’d regained her composure. He was waiting for her. This time he used his vocal cords, but in English.
“Let’s talk about other things over dinner.”
Was he trying to avoid talking to her about the things that had caused her so much pain? Probably, especially if she’d shouted her question.
She thought her appetite had gone, but the scallops proved her wrong. Every bit as delicately flavored and tender as the reviews had promised. A tiny sliver of black truffle lay over the top and she saved it for last. She glanced up from time to time, her habit in case she was missing his words, but he knew how to communicate with the deaf. He’d touch her hand or tap the table where she could see it if he wanted to speak to her.
He smiled when she glanced up. “You have a lovely accent, you know that?”
She shook her head. “I thought I spoke English clearly.”
“It is clear, but slightly accented.” He stared at her, his eyes unreadable. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking and she’d studied body language closely enough that she could usually tell.
“Are they playing music?”
He smiled. “Quietly. A classical piece. Do you know Chopin’s nocturnes?”
Tears sprang to her eyes and because he was watching her so closely, he saw them. He touched her hand. No more, just that. She took care to keep her voice down, regulating the strength of the vibrations in her throat. “My mother used to play them when I was little. I remember a mood rather than the notes.”
“I’m sorry. I was trying to give you a sense of what’s going on. I should have known better.” He broke visual contact, turning his attention to his food.
He shouldn’t feel bad about saying that. “You were right. How were you to know? The memories are good.”
A smile flickered across his lips, gone as soon as it had arrived, and he looked up again. “Thank you. I didn’t deserve that. It’s just that music means, well, a lot to me. I always notice when it’s playing.”
“Did it always mean so much?”
A simple but devastating answer. To love music so much and grow up in a silent household—what torture he must have undergone. “When you were a child, you must have felt so alone.”
He shrugged. “I found friends. I went to a hearing school. It was okay.”
He’d clammed up. She’d find out no more from him now, but he’d opened his mind a crack and given her a glimpse of the inner man. The hint only made her hungry for more. She needed a reason for the way he’d hurt her when he’d walked away and she knew the answer couldn’t be simple. Turning his back on their affair after one night was one thing, but he’d also repudiated their friendship and that had been the hardest to bear.
You can read more about the Nightstar series here:
Fascinating Rhythm is out on September 11th from Ellora’s Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/fascinating-rhythm.html

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How did I come to write about a drummer and a deaf girl?

My stories usually start with a “What if…?” question and a few prompts from real life. So several things came together for “Fascinating Rhythm.” It’s a weird process but on this, "Fascinating Rhythm"’s release day, I thought I’d give you an idea of my creative process.
An old “Law and Order: SVU” program about a murder at a school for the deaf
Reading about the new operation Swedish scientists are working on to restore the hearing of some people
Reading about the deaf separatist movement around the world.
Evelyn Glennie, the world renowned classical percussionist, who is profoundly deaf.
A conflict – how does a man whose world is centred in music cope with a deaf mother? And how does being brought up in a deaf household affect him?
The C factor – that creative spark that brings everything together and creates characters from concepts and conflicts from disparate elements.

Plan C is the bit that makes me a writer. So what if a man whose whole life is music falls in love with a deaf woman?
My first reaction was, why not? But what would that mean to her? She loves this man, and part of his world is closed to her. Of course, since he’s a percussionist, she can share in some of it, with her residual hearing and her sense of touch. She can feel the vibrations, and follow the rhythm. But she can’t hear the band he belongs to, and she can’t understand why the music seduces him as much as she does.
Then she gets the opportunity to restore her hearing.

The game-changer is vital in a romance, and the posing of questions and choices. But in this, I had to do a lot of research. It helps to be married to someone who is involved in the special needs field, but that doesn’t give me all the answers. I adore putting myself into other people’s heads, and the only way I can do that without being creepy is to make them up and follow their fates.
It was a delight getting to know Hunter and Sabina, and like all my characters, they’ll remain with me forever. 

You can buy "Fascinating Rhythm" here at a special reduced price, and it will be at Amazon, the Ibookstore and other outlets very soon! 
There's an excerpt from the book here.