Friday, September 28, 2012

Hidden In Pages Released by Pelican Book Group


White Rose Publishing, an Imprint of Pelican Book Group has released my short adventure/romance Hidden In Pages. You can get it at their website (which has great deals on other inspirational books), as well as on Amazon and other major eBook retailers.
Adelle Bradbury doesn’t like adventure—in books or real life. As a quiet librarian who hides behind reading glasses, she doesn’t expect to be swept into a dangerous mission to recover one of the world’s most famous lost treasures. But that’s exactly what happens when a mysterious history buff enlists her help to recover a treasure map—A map he insists is concealed in one of the library’s old books, its contents revealing the secret location of King Solomon’s missing wealth.
Suddenly, mild-mannered Adelle is thrust into a world of treasure hunters, secret societies, and thieving profiteers. In a mad dash to protect the treasure, she finds a courage she never expected and something more—the possibility of true love.

Guest Post at Indie Jane and Free Regency Title on Amazon

I'm thrilled to have authored today's guest post over at one of my favorite Austen-themed websites, Indie Jane. It's a brief post that focuses on Bloodcurse: A Regency Vampire Novel, the kindle book I'm offering for free on Amazon from September 28th-30th.

They come for the cure in shades of crimson...

Of course, seventeen-year-old Elle Warner doesn't know that when she arrives for a six week stay in the luxurious city of Bath. But stories are told. Bodies are found.

A young and mysterious stranger may hold the key to these tragedies-and very possibly to the fate of the girl who cannot escape his gaze.

Inspired by Jane Austen's own gothic tribute, Bloodcurse: A Regency Vampire Novel is a tale of dark stories, imagined secrets, and a young girl's first true adventure.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Letters from Lydia", a Vignette for Austenesque Extravaganza!

I'm excited to to bring you "Letters from Lydia" a Pride and Prejudice vignette as part of the incredible Austenesque Extravaganza! For this fun piece I collaborated with the amazingly talented authors Sarah Burgess (Dear Miss Darcy) and Cecilia Gray (The Jane Austen Academy Series). Below you'll find all three parts to our "hidden" Pride and Prejudice scene where Kitty Bennet receives letters from her mischievous younger sister Lydia, who is visiting Brighton. Part I was authored by myself; Part II comes from Sarah's pen, and Part III is the genius of Cecilia. Happy reading!

                                            Letters from Lydia

Part I

Longbourn, never a setting given to much peace and quiet, was plunged into near madness with Lydia’s invitation to Brighton.
Brighton! The exciting sea resort where the youngest and most impetuous of the Bennet girls was certain she would be the object of at least ten different conquests from the encamped officers. Her head was already filled with visions of red-coated admirers violently flirting with her over tea and dances.

It was bound to end in an offer of  marriage; possibly even a duel. Such far-fetched predictions were always on her tongue, as she consulted her mother on what garments to pack, or what ribbon best suited her new hat.

Of course, much of this speculation was  for the benefit of her sisters. Particularly Kitty--poor Kitty, who being two years older (as she so emphatically pointed out) was equally entitled to such a venture if not more so.

For this plea, she found little sympathy from her sisters.  Lizzie was bound for a tour of the lakes with their aunt and uncle; Jane, usually so understanding, was occupied with reflections concerning a certain gentleman now gone to London. And Mary--well, she was not to be troubled by officers and balls when so many philosophical quandaries demanded her attention every day.

Kitty, though, had little to fill her time, without even so much as a card party on the near horizon. In short, nothing to look forward to except a minute account  of her younger sister’s adventures among the lively crowds at Brighton.

These, she was assured, would make her wildly jealous. As if she weren’t envious enough, to the point that the very word “officer” brought tears to her eyes. The trek to Meryton, where the camp once made its headquarters, was now the equivalent of visiting the church graveyard.

As promised, the first  two letters--one addressed to Mrs. Bennet and one to Kitty--arrived shortly after Lydia had taken up residence with the Colonel and Mrs. Forester. Dispensed at the luncheon table by the footman, these communications were received with squeals of delight from Mrs. Bennet.

“At last, news from our dear girl,” she informed the others. Slitting open an envelope that held a surprisingly brief account, the single sheet of stationery being devoted to a colorless description of Lydia’s journey to the new lodgings. A small anecdote of how she almost dropped her new hatbox in the mud was the highlight of the note.

 “And to think, my dear,” Mr. Bennet observed in his dry humored way, “I prevented you from partaking of such a remarkable experience. Brighton is a lively place indeed, based on such an account.”

Across the table, Kitty quietly perused her own much longer letter, and noted a vast difference in its content. Concerned mostly with her sister’s many visits to the regiment--with only Mrs. Forester for a chaperone-- it held the same secretive tone they used to share in private conversations.

Kitty tucked it out of sight, a measure that proved unnecessary as their father begged to be spared anymore details of the supposedly fascinating endeavor.

So it proved with the next letter, which she took care not to open before the others. Instead, she scanned the meaning by the light of the candle that flickered on her dressing table. Her lips moving to the words as she absorbed this newest bit of mischief:
 Dear Kitty,

 I will not bore you with a description of my new parasol as I did Mamma in that last letter I wrote. For you, surely, will understand that there is more fun to be found in Brighton than merely the shops and libraries  and tea gatherings.

Even the balls and parties cannot compare with the little tête-à-têtes one carries out both during and after the main event. These are almost required, and you can imagine how difficult it becomes as one’s admirers grow in number.

Lord, if you could hear the things they say! Such and such about my hair and eyes and goodness knows what all. I should blush to write  any of it down, though it is not a bit wrong (though I am sure Mary would disagree!)

One gentleman in particular--but no, I will not say it. Not yet, at least. I shall choose to leave you in suspense on that note, only to say that one of my suitors is far superior to the rest. Handsome and charming and admired by all!

Please do keep this between us for the time being. For I would hate to excite too much jealousy in our sisters, who I know must already deeply resent my stroke of good fortune.


Part II

She could not show this to anyone.

Such was Kitty’s thought, as she tucked her sister’s latest communication out of sight beneath the dining room table. More and more, the letters from Brighton contained information she was certain her father, and her elder sisters Lizzie and Jane, would never approve.

Stories of romance and rendezvous. Secret meetings with a mystery man whom Lydia assured her the Bennet family was already quite wild about from their previous acquaintance in Meryton. In fact, she implied that more than one heart should be broken were the gentleman in question to settle any serious design upon her before the summer was out.

He was a great favorite of our own Lizzie,” one letter teased, even as another declared he was never in danger of giving his heart to anyone else, but now seemed ready to bestow it upon herself at a moment’s notice .

To betray Lydia was something she couldn’t bring herself to do, even as she grew increasingly worried about the described events. So she concealed the freshly arrived notes behind embroidery hoops and books; anywhere she could to keep them from prying eyes, until time permitted an escape to her room or else the garden.

Panting slightly, she made her way this morning to the stretch of lawn that Lizzie was so fond of walking. Since her older sister was now on her tour of the Lakes, there was no danger she would stumble upon Kitty as she devoured another piece of gossip from Brighton.

With a sigh, Kitty spread herself across the garden bench, unfurling a piece of stationery to read these tantalizing yet infuriating words:
Dear Kitty,

It is enough to make me laugh aloud as I picture all your faces were you to know the truth. But I have promised my love--for that is what I call my own dear one--that I will not breathe a word on the subject without his permission.

How secretive he is! Insisting we meet away from everyone at such times I am sure no reasonable person should be out of doors. Yet I cannot refuse his request when I see the tender pleading in his eyes.

Do not be shocked Kitty, to know I have already felt the touch of his lips. Such a sensation I should never be able to describe were I to try even!

Still, I mustn’t give too much away. My love is almost frantic that anyone else should find out, though I’ve assured him it is nothing to be ashamed about. Were it up to me, we should declare it before the whole camp.

Perhaps we shall, before many more weeks.

Part III

Kitty practically pounced on the correspondence as the footman laid it on the luncheon table, but Mamma brushed her eager hand aside with a squeal of delight. “What news will we have today?” Mamma asked with a clap of her hands.

What news, indeed, Kitty wondered as she shrunk back in her seat and nervously picked at a stray thread from her dress. There had been no news from Lydia since her salacious note which had sent Kitty into hysterics. Fortunately these particular hysterics were not distinguishable from Kitty’s routine hysterics, and Mamma was none the wiser to Lydia’s transgressions. Kitty was not so fortunate and her very pulse seemed tethered to the comings and goings of the letter carrier.

Mamma scooped the white envelopes into her palm and flipped through them one by one. “Not another from Mrs. Lucas.” She rolled her eyes and tossed it aside. “As if I could bear to read another word about the bore of…oh…ah! Finally that dreaded child has remembered from whence she spawned.”

Mamma held the letter up to the light streaming in through the dining room window, and Kitty’s breath caught at the sight of Lydia’s lazy script.

“This is addressed to you, Kitty. But where is ours?” Mamma flipped through the remaining cards. “There appears to be just the one. Perhaps it is intended for all of us. I shall read--”

Mamma shrieked as Kitty dashed from her chair and ripped Lydia’s letter away with such force the paper tore and rent the air. Kitty ignored her father’s bark of indignation, ignored Mary’s drone of censure, and particularly ignored her mother’s high-pitched fit as she ran fast as her legs could carry her out the house and down the pebbled road.

It wasn’t until she had run for what felt like miles, and may have been given she was nearly to Bingley’s, that Kitty rested her hand over her aching chest and gasped in much needed breath. Oh, but she would pay for this. She wavered between equal desires that her punishment be for naught and that Lydia’s letter contained news to merit her actions.

Her heavy legs collapsed from the endurance of her sprint. She could not contain herself a moment longer to crawl under the nearby tree for shade from the uncharacteristic heat of the blazing sun overhead. Instead, at the side of the road in a damp bed of grass, she opened the letter, now with a jagged, ripped edge along the bottom. With shaky hands, she began to read.

Dear Kitty,

By the time you read this, I’ll be a woman in every sense. To finally have surpassed Jane! To finally know things that not even Lizzie knows! I was never in doubt of this day but to finally be at its precipice leaves me quaking with excitement.

I promise, of course, to share everything with you. While I love our dear older sisters, I thankfully did not inherit their miserly ways with knowledge. As you may never know the joy and experience of being in love, it is my obligation to share my own happiness with you. I shall do it gladly.

While my beloved still has his reasons for our liason remaining a secret, it will soon be known to the world so I see no harm in you knowing first. Please do not tell Lizzie. I feel I should at least afford her the courtesy of a personal announcement given that my beloved is none other--

Kitty turned the letter over and back. She ran a finger along the jagged bottom edge of the letter whose remnant with the man’s name remained firmly with Mamma.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Release Date for Regency Novel Love Among the Spices

The sequel to my co-authored Regency Romance novel Rules for Engagements will be available in eBook format as of September 28th. This fun and adventurous follow-up finds Flora little sister all grown-up with a romantic quandary of her own. 

Spirited, rebellious young Marianne Stuart adores studying insects, roaming the woods, and dreaming of far-off, exotic places. The etiquette of London society is stifling; the art of dancing and playing instruments tedious compared to the freedom of climbing trees and exploring untamed lands.

So when she meets a young man whose passion for science and nature matches her own, there's an instant connection. But there's more than one obstacle to stand in the way of their burgeoning friendship--including the entrance of a dashing and handsome young officer.

With two admirers--and a father and aunt eager to see her well-married--Marianne faces an impossible matter of the heart. Will she find a true love that lets her keep an adventurous spirit? Or will society's rules leave her heartbroken? 

Excerpt from Love Among the Spices

     Her net's end dangled in the water as she knelt there, fingers stained with mud as they encircled a bug gliding along the surface. Cupping it in her palm, she inspected it intently for a moment. Its wings glinted in the sunlight, transparent like panes of glass etched with pink and green. Its thread-like legs scampered across her skin as it scuttled forth, as if instinctively knowing the water lay below her hand.
    "I've never seen a girl holding a water-fly." The sound of a man's voice startled her.
    She turned to see a young man surveying her from a few feet away.  Sleeves rolled up to reveal tanned arms which were thin and scratched from briars, lank hair cut short beneath a farmer's hat. A countenance not handsome behind a pair of glasses, but decidedly young and under development.
    "Do you like them?" she asked, equally frank in her tone. As she spoke, the insect slipped forwards to the water. The boy grinned in reply.
    "I do," he answered. She noticed his rod and fishing creel -- not filled with fish, but with the branch of a plant on which a large cocoon was woven in a thick, white wad around the smaller twigs.
    "What sort of nest is that?" she inquired, a smile beginning to grow on her own face as she rose. His eyes were fixed upon her face as she approached; he did not seem to notice the dampness of her skirts or muddy boots, turning his attention after a moment to the object in question.
    "Oh, this? It is but a common cocoon," he answered. "No doubt a common caterpillar within -- although I won't know for certain until I look at it more closely, with one of my books at hand."
    "Then you are a naturalist?" said Marianne, eagerly. "Of sorts, anyway -- do you study botany? Or -- or is it insects, perhaps?"
    He laughed, a sound which wavered with the uncertain tones of youth. "A little of each, I daresay," he answered, moving closer as he shifted his creel upon his shoulder. Within its open top, she could see other specimens -- a jar of water with sediment floating on top, a caterpillar crawling on a twig, magnified behind the curve of glass.
    "I come here often; but I have never seen a young lady here before -- " with a glance at her net as he spoke, "-- especially one armed for scientific exploration."
    Marianne stiffened. "I have as much right to visit this place as any other person," she answered.
    "Did I say you didn't?" He shifted his creel onto the ground as he crouched down at the water's edge.
    "Do you see this movement at the bottom? That's the shell of a wasp -- half-eaten by the fishes so that only a bit of the outer husk and wings remain. Under this stone is probably one of the culprits who would prefer a drowned insect, a young tadpole cluster or a freshwater crustacean of sorts."
    "Really?" Marianne leaned forward, curious. "Do you -- do you study them? Do you take them home as well?"
    "Sometimes," he answered. "But I do not care for water life as much as wings and wasps and other things in flight. And of plants as well -- for there's always something to be learned from dissecting one."
    "Then you dissect them also?" Marianne's interest was growing by the minute.
    "I keep notes upon all this, yes," he answered. "And sketches -- although I should spend my time worrying about sums and Latin from Eton's lessons, as my father would say."
    He pushed the rock in place again and reached for Marianne's hand. Placing something in her palm, a small, wet object.
    "Look," he said. She drew it closer, seeing the shape of a small snail shell, spiraling outwards in a mottled brown like sandstone.
    "It's beautiful," she said. "So small and delicate. How can something so small be alive -- and live in something like this?"
    "Smaller things live among us, miss," he answered. "As anyone who peers through a microscope knows."
    "I have never seen anything beneath a microscope's lens," she answered. "It is not proper for a young lady, I suppose."
    "I would let you," he said. "If you wanted to see, I should be glad to show you."
    She gazed at him in surprise as a faint flush appeared on her cheeks. "I -- I don't know," she answered. "That is, I should be glad to. Sometime."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Free for the Wedding on Sale for 99 Cents!

A big thanks to everyone who downloaded Free for the Wedding during its 5 free celebration days on Amazon! The book is now on sale for 99 cents for anyone who missed the free stint.

Find it here for 99 cents!
One year and 25,000 sales later, comes the sweet and lighthearted follow-up to the romantic comedy novella, Late to the Wedding ...

Fifteen years ago, Valarie McCray answered a love letter from the boy of her dreams. The problem? It was meant for someone else.

While Val's only motive was to save a friendship, the note's words have sparked an engagement between her two closest friends and prompted questions in her own heart about whether their wedding is meant to be. Setting off for a planned reunion just days before the wedding, Val is determined correct the mistakes of the past-- and to show everyone from her past how much she's changed.

But a string of obstacles lands Valarie in an impossible situation: sharing the last available rental car with inept but well-meaning salesman Riley Cohen. He detours her for a business meeting, where his quirky and desperate attempts to land a sale result in a zany disaster only Val can fix.

Worse yet, he insists on tagging along to the wedding out of gratitude for her help and his attempts to convince Val's old friends - including the groom-to-be - that she's the perfect woman backfire in comparison to the careful approach Val had in mind for facing her romantic regrets.

With hours before the wedding (and big doubts about happily-ever-after in the wedding couple's mind), Val finds herself admitting the truth to her childhood sweetheart ... and finds herself wondering if her heart is really free for the wedding.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Late to the Wedding Sequel Free on Amazon for 5 Days!

Hello all! In celebration of the one year anniversary for the best-selling romance Late to the Wedding, I'm making its sequel book free for 5 blow-out days on Amazon!

Download it for free from September 7-11th!

From September the 7th through the 11th, you can download a copy of Free for the Wedding. This fun and zany romance features yet another heroine on a quest for destiny. 

Thirteen years ago, Val McCray answered a love letter from the boy of her dreams. The problem? It was meant for someone else.

Her only motive was to save a friendship, but Val fears the note's long-ago words may have sparked a present-day wedding between two people who aren't meant to be. 

With just days until the wedding (and growing conflict between the confused bride and groom) Val sets out to correct the mistakes of the past. But a string of obstacles lands her in an impossible situation that includes a pretend boyfriend--an attractive but inept businessman who tugs Val's emotions and leaves her wondering: is her heart really free for the wedding?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Austenesque Extravaganza All Month Long!

Exciting news for Jane Austen fans--September marks the month-long celebration for readers and writers over at the lovely Austenesque Reviews! 

Known as the Austenesque Extravaganza, this massive event features stories, games, twitter parties and other fun activities from over fifty Austen Authors.

My own contribution--a fun P&P collaboration with authors Sarah Burgess and Cecilia Gray--will appear on September 25th. 

Readers can drop by Austenesque Reviews every day in September for new activities and events. Plus, readers will have chances to win some AMAZING prizes (check out the details here!).