Chasing a CAPTIVE SPIRIT

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So there I was, minding my own business this past January when a tweet flashed across my laptop from a seemingly nice editor lady named Angela James. “Send your historical novels to Carina Press!” she tweeted. “Our editors are hungry for historicals!” CAPTIVE SPIRIT

Historicals? I thought. I’ve written one that I love.  Maybe this Angela lady will love it, too? What the heck? I’ll give it a shot.

And off flew my manuscript into cyberspace and so began my hopped-up-on-steroids but memorable publishing journey with the very cool and hip Carina Press.

Hey, book lovers!  My name is Liz Fichera and I am thrilled to be one of the Carina Press launch authors.  Formerly from Chicago, I now call the American Southwest my home.  And the historical novel that I sent to Angela earlier this year is CAPTIVE SPIRIT, although it was originally called VANISHED.   More on that in a bit.

CAPTIVE SPIRIT takes place in the Sonoran desert at the dawn of the sixteenth century.  It’s about a young Hohokam Indian woman named Aiyana who isn’t like the other girls of her White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn’t realize her friend has a secret wish of his own.  When Aiyana’s father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: Run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will, putting Aiyana on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she’ll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

I’ll share more details with you later today about the story and what inspired me to write it.  And, no, it did not come to me in a dream.

But first I wanted to share my Carina Press experience because it’s been the kind of experience you hope for as a debut author.  Not only have I had the chance to work with the fab Elizabeth Bass, Kimberly the copyeditor extraordinaire, and Aideen O’Leary-Chung and her uber-talented book cover artists, but I’ve been able to connect with so many great writers who share a passion for rich storytelling. Thanks to them, my TBR pile has not only grown it’s exploded.  Also, thanks to the support of my fellow Carina Press authors, it’s  become very Sisterhood of The Writer Traveling Pants, although no one has suggested that we share a pair of faded bluejeans. Yet.  

Like most authors, my full-fledged publishing journey has been neither quick nor easy but it’s never been dull.  There have even been moments when I wanted to throw my laptop out the nearest window, burn all my rejection letters, and take up basket-weaving. But I’ll always be grateful to Carina Press as well as their readers for taking a chance on this writer hidden amongst the saguaros and coyotes in the wild, wild West who likes to tell tall tales.

Before the next post, I invite you to check out my web site for the first chapter and book trailer for CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  I’ve left a few clues in the book trailer that will help me to explain the inspiration behind CAPTIVE SPIRIT later today in my next post.  Can you guess which ones?  :-)

And if you tweet, friend, blog, or are just plain obsessed with social media like me, I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook, and My Blog.

Be back later! Rock on, Carina Press!

Remember that you can win a free copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT, just for making a comment on this blog, Twitter, or Facebook.  Commenting on any of the Countdown entries will also enter you into the big giveaway for a Carina Press promo prize pack. How cool is that?

Addicted to semi-colons

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Hello out there:

I’d like to tell you a bit about Scene Stealer’s journey to publication with Carina Press and my battle with semi-colons.

Some people go for champagne but as Cole Porter wrote, “Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all.” Ditto for drugs and that other craving that celebrities and politicians often apologize for. But with the writing of Scene Stealer, I learned that I too am addicted. I have a hard time staying away from semi-colons. Those little  ;;;  creep in everywhere. They took over so completely that I sometimes didn’t realize they were there. Although my leading character, Augusta Weidenmaier, is a retired schoolteacher, the lady was much too busy trying to find Kevin Corcoran-the nine year old spokeschild for “Cowboy Bob’s Big Bad Burger”-to help.

To the rescue came my editor (I tend to be possessive,) Laura Anne Gilman, who straightened me out. Now whenever I feel the need for a semi-colon, I think: is this enticing bit of punctuation really necessary? What would Laura Anne say? It’s hard but, somehow I manage to lift the finger that strikes the semi-colon from the keyboard and focus on other things. I concentrate on America, the flag and Scene Stealer, my book, my cozy. Laura Anne, a full-time writer as well as editor has been at my cyberspace side since the beginning. Her first advice was to “keep breathing nice even steady breaths, and don’t hyperventilate.” I did have a supply of paper bags handy – just in case – but, thanks to Laura Anne, they weren’t needed.

Towards the end of rewrites and editing, I received a note from Aideen Chung asking me to fill out the Art Fact Sheet with information about Scene Stealer. I love the cover that Aideen did for Scene Stealer and feel she caught my cozy’s mood perfectly. Take a look and  * DON’T FORGET: 1 digital copy of Scene Stealer will be given away to a Blog commentator, a twitter commentator and a Facebook commentator.

If you’d like to know more about Scene Stealer (and me.)

Please log on to:    www.elisewarner.com

www.twitter.com/elisewarner

My blog www.elisewarner.wordpress.com

www.FaceBook.com/elisewarnerb

**reminder: Commenting on an author’s blog entry/entries for the day will enter you to win a digital copy of their Carina Press title. One winner daily. Commenting on any of the Countdown entries will enter you into the big giveaway for a Carina Press promo prize pack. One winner at end of Countdown.**

Scene Stealer

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Hello: I’m Elise Warner, the author of Scene Stealer and it’s my pleasure to introduce you to a few of my favorite people. The men and women who live in the pages of my book have taken over but I’m still enormously fond of them. First, I’d like you to meet Miss Augusta Weidenmaier, a retired schoolteacher and an indomitable woman who understands children and is determined to find Kevin Corcoran. Kevin is the kidnapped nine-year old spokesperson for Cowboy Bob’s Big, Bad Burger. Kevin’s agent is Abner T. Bean (Abner is a sweet man, too sweet to be an agent.)
Then, there’s my villain. I’ve become rather fond of my villain. His name is Lawrence Dunn and he is a faded Shakespearean actor who believes he is America’s answer to Laurence Olivier.
I mustn’t forget Lieutenant Brown, the police officer in charge of this fast food caper who not only has to find Kevin and his kidnapper, he has to put up with Miss Weidenmaier’s interference. The action takes place in New York City from Greenwich Village to Lincoln Center. Central Park to a television studio where a talk show host named Norman Bottoms will say anything to reach an audience that’s bigger than Letterman’s, Leno’s or Oprah’s.
I hope you enjoy reading Scene Stealer as much as I enjoyed writing it with the help of my associates – Miss Weidenmaier, Kevin Corcoran, Lawrence Dunn and their friends and adversaries.
1 digital copy will be given away to a commentator.

What’s in a name?

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Hi again. Just in case you’re wondering, I’ve never been a reporter but I have worked for newspapers and with reporters. In fact, I worked for one of the local newspapers in Whitehorse, the Yukon city featured in On Her Trail. I took liberties with physical location of the office, along with its name and oh, just about everything else, but one thing I didn’t take liberties with: my belief that reporters can be dogged and fearless, and willing to risk almost anything to get the truth out.

People always seem curious about by name: Marcelle Dubé. Yes, I am French-Canadian. (I used to say I was half-French, until a boyfriend-du-jour said, “Yeah, the bottom half.” ::sigh:: ) It might interest you to know that there is a famous Québec playwright by the name of Marcel Dubé (male) and a well-known Québec painter also named Marcelle Dubé (female). What can I say? It’s all in the name!

All for now. I’ve enjoyed blogging (my first experience!) and hope you’ve enjoyed it, too. Come visit me at www.marcelledube.com, or on Facebook and Twitter. It’s been nice getting to know you!

Giveaways:

1 digital copy of the author’s book will be given away to a blog commenter, a twitter commenter and a Facebook commenter (for a total of 3 copies). Nothing is required of you for this, though you are welcome to mention it in your blog posts.

Excerpt from On Her Trail

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Welcome back! In my earlier blog, I talked about the road to publication. Now I figure you might like to get a sense of what On Her Trail is about.

Laura, whose adventures as a fearless reporter have led her all over Eastern Europe, covering the seamier side of politics, has moved back to Canada and settled in Montreal. That’s when trouble finds her in the form of a crime boss who can’t allow her to publish a story unmasking him.

What’s a girl to do? Run home, of course. Home to the Yukon, to the house on the cliff overlooking the Yukon River, to her estranged mother and their difficult relationship.

Please visit my web site at www.marcelledube.com to read the first chapter, but in the meantime, here’s an excerpt of On Her Trail:

They walked in a crouch to the alley side of the building, then lay down flat to peer over the edge of the roof. From that vantage point they could clearly see the length of the alley between Tutshi Street and Duke. Laura noted the red dumpster with its open lid, the back of the white brick building on the other side of the alley, even the potholes that could swallow a small car. What she didn’t see was the truck. She stuck a hand in her pocket and felt the hard outline of the truck keys.

“Where is it?” asked Jason.

Laura scooted back from the edge and sat up. Sharp stones dug through the tough fabric of her jeans to bite her tender flesh. She shivered as the wind found the gap between sweatshirt and jeans.

“It’s gone,” she replied. “Jason, I’m so sorry I got you into this!”

He inched his way back and sat up too. Then he slapped her shoulder playfully. “Don’t start with me, Thorsen. You couldn’t keep me away from a story this good. Come on, we have to get off this roof.”

The neighboring building was three feet higher than the roof on which they stood, but since it abutted theirs, they were able to scramble onto it easily. There was still no sign of life from the newspaper office.

The door to the darkroom stayed shut, and as there were no windows on that side of the building, they couldn’t even tell if someone was wandering around with a flashlight.

It occurred to Laura that a short circuit might have caused the power outage. What if they were skulking around the roofs of Whitehorse because a mouse had nibbled through the wrong wire?

“Now what?” said Laura, having inched her way to the far side of the building.

The next building over was too far and too low for them to jump. Besides, they would soon run out of buildings. If someone was looking for them in the newspaper office, it was only a matter of time before they found the darkroom door. She wanted to get down.

Jason had been examining the roof’s edge. “Over here,” he called softly. Laura ran over, shivering. A narrow metal ladder was latched to the brick wall on the alley side, leading to within six feet of the ground.
She closed her eyes, trying to decide if she could jump six feet without breaking a bone.

“Come on,” said Jason, nudging her. “You go first.”

With a muffled curse, she turned around and set foot gingerly on the first rung. When it didn’t collapse, she tried the second one. By the time she was midway, Jason had stepped on the first rung. As he swung his foot down again, something pinged on the cement ledge next to the ladder. Jason started and looked around the roof.

“Get down, you idiot!” shouted Laura when she realized what was happening. Jason ducked below the roofline just as another bullet pinged past where he’d been standing.

“Jesus!” he cried, practically sliding down the ladder, “they’re shooting at us!”

Laura reached the final rung and flung herself into empty air. She landed in a crouch with a jarring thud, lost her balance and rocked onto her hams just as Jason landed next to her. He lost his balance, too, and fell on top of her. After a mad scramble of limbs, they disentangled themselves and rose to their feet.

“Let’s go!” cried Jason. They ran down the alley, heading for Tutshi Street as fast as they could.

A shout behind them warned them they’d been seen. Something kicked up asphalt at their feet. The gunman was using a silencer.

“Don’t stop!” called Laura. They emerged onto the street and turned right, toward the more populated restaurant and movie district. The sound of feet pounding in the alley behind them spurred them on.

The envelope in her waistband worked its way free and Laura clutched it against her body as she ran. Her feet hit the asphalt like a hand slapping a cheek. Jason kept pace with her, although he was breathing hard. Something whizzed above her head and she automatically hunched her shoulders, expecting a bullet in her back.

“We have to split up,” she gasped as they turned yet another corner in an effort to elude their pursuers.

“Go…police!” Jason’s words came out staccato.

“No!” She grabbed his hand, ducked into an alley and pulled him into a recessed doorway about halfway down. “No police,” she whispered, trying to get her breathing under control. Next to her, Jason breathed like a bellows, and she wished he could be quieter.

Then she placed her hand over his mouth and he nodded. Running footsteps came nearer as their pursuer approached the alley. He paused at the mouth of the alley, and Laura controlled an impulse to peek and see who it was. Apparently satisfied that the alley was empty, the pursuer began running again.

Jason relaxed and would have spoken, but Laura kept her hand on his mouth. A soft scrape at the other end of the alley told them someone else was listening. After a long time they heard the regular thud of someone in soft shoes running away from them.

Only then did Laura remove her hand.

“Why not the cops?” demanded Jason in a barely audible whisper.

“Could be on the take.” At his skeptical snort she elaborated. “Tucker’s got informants everywhere.”

It was dark in the alley. The light from street lamps on the streets at either end didn’t reach this far in. Laura couldn’t see his face, but she could well imagine it. “I’m so sorry, Jase.”

After a moment he shook his head. “Don’t sweat it, Laura. But you’re right—we have to split up. I don’t think we should meet again until we’re sure the story is out. Can I keep the flash drive?”

“Why?”

“Internet.”

“How? You can’t just walk into an internet café…”

“If you don’t know where I’m going, you can’t tell anyone else.”

Laura shut her mouth and nodded. She had a hard copy of the article hidden in Fay’s house. “Go for it, tiger.”

“Where are you going to go?” he asked.

“If you don’t know…” she began, and grinned when he poked her in the ribs.

“Okay, smart ass. You ready?”

She wasn’t. The last thing she wanted to do was step out of the alley and expose herself to two hired killers. But Jason seemed to think she was braver than she actually was, and she’d be damned if she’d disappoint him. Especially now that she’d dragged him into this mess.

“Let’s go,” she whispered.

They left the protection of the doorway and stepped into the alley. Without a word, Jason turned left and walked away. She watched him for a moment, wishing safety on him. Then she turned right and headed for the street.

She was only a few blocks from the movie theater. Even on a Thursday night there’d be people on Main Street, going in and out of bars and restaurants, heading for the bookstore, coming out of the movies. She’d be safer there.

Where the hell was Mack’s truck?

As she approached the well-lit street, her steps became more hesitant. She didn’t want to leave the alley. But she couldn’t stay here all night—she had to get home to Fay. Besides, the alley wasn’t safe. When they didn’t find her and Jason, the killers would double back.

Flattening herself against the wall of the building, Laura listened. All she could hear was the distant sound of a truck a couple of streets over. Taking a deep breath, she stepped onto the sidewalk.

“Got you!” growled a man, and a heavy hand grabbed her arm.

Talk to you later!

Giveaways:

1 digital copy of the author’s book will be given away to a blog commenter, a twitter commenter and a Facebook commenter (for a total of 3 copies). Nothing is required of you for this, though you are welcome to mention it in your blog posts.

Rivals For Love by Eve Vaughn

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Hayden Sinclair has it all: a job she loves, supportive friends and a drop-dead gorgeous boyfriend. She should be happy—and she should say yes when Luc proposes marriage. But one thing stands in her way: Sawyer Underwood, her impossibly sexy ex, who disappeared almost a year ago.

When Sawyer returns, he has one goal in mind: to win Hayden back, and away from his long-hated rival, Luc. Sawyer’s willing to do anything it takes, and he’ll use all his powers of persuasion to convince Hayden that he’s the man for her—especially in the bedroom. But Luc’s not willing to give Hayden up without a fight!

As the two men battle for Hayden’s affections, she is torn between them. If only they could reach a compromise—then maybe she wouldn’t have to choose…

Excerpt:

Luc reached across the table and grasped her hand. “Look at me, Hayden.” Despite the softly spoken words there was no doubt in her mind it was a command. He could be autocratic when he wanted to.

With a sigh she raised her lids to meet his stony gaze.

“It’s him, isn’t it? You’re still not over him, are you?”

Hayden didn’t bother insulting his intelligence by pretending she didn’t know what he was talking about. “That was nearly a year ago. I’m with you now.”

“That isn’t what I asked. You still think about him, don’t you?”

“Why are you bringing this up?”

“Because I think I have a right to know what I’m up against if I’m to win you heart, body and soul.”

There was so much passion in his voice and touch, her insides churned out of control. Something just felt right being here with him like this, yet she couldn’t bring herself to say the words. More than anything she wanted to tell him that he already had her heart, but the words remained stuck in her throat.

He narrowed his eyes. “Say something, dammit.”

She touched her stomach as it tightened in knots. Her heart pounded a tattoo within her chest. Hayden opened her mouth, then closed it again, stalling to find the right thing to say without further exacerbating the situation. “I don’t know what you want me to tell you. I’m happy when I’m with you, and I think we feel right together.”

One brow flew up. “I sense a ‘but’ in there somewhere.”

“There is no but. That’s it.”

His lips tightened to a thin white line, and his nostrils flared. “I see.” Luc released her hand and signaled to their server who must have been hovering nearby because he appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

“Yes, Mr. Montgomery?”

“I’d like the check, please.”

“Right away, sir.” The server bowed his head in acknowledgment before hurrying off.

A half smile tugged the corner of Hayden’s lips. It was amusing to see how people scurried to do Luc’s bidding. Not very long ago she wouldn’t have thought about stepping foot in a restaurant like Mirabella’s, where there were no prices on the menu. It was far too expensive a place to afford on her salary. She especially never envisioned being on the arm of Lucien Montgomery-Lambert III, one of the most eligible bachelors in D.C. But he’d chosen her. She was never sure what it was about her that had caught his eye, but he’d pursued her with a relentlessness that took her breath away.

It wasn’t that she suffered from low self-esteem, but men like Luc usually dated women from their own backgrounds and race who had more money than sense, or at the very least looked like supermodels. She was a social worker who’d been told on several occasions that she was cute—never beautiful, except by Luc and her ex.

She flinched for a moment as her ex-lover crossed her mind. She was happy with Luc, so why did Sawyer still invade her thoughts?

“You’re doing it again.” The low timbre in his voice brought her head up. His eyes darkened as he shot her a narrow-eyed glare.

She lowered her head, shame eating at her. The night was officially ruined. “Maybe I should take a rain check on that coffee.”

His mouth thinned briefly but he didn’t say anything else as he helped Hayden out of her chair. The car ride back to her place was silent and tense. She wanted to say something to assure him he was the one she wanted to be with. Something told her he wouldn’t be in the mood to listen.

Expecting him to drop her off in front of her house, she was surprised when he parked his car in her extra parking space and shut off the engine.

She moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue. “You’re coming in?”

The muscle in his jaw flexed. “I think we need to get a few things out in the open, don’t you?”

Her heart plummeted. Maybe he planned on breaking up with her. He didn’t say anything to indicate one way or the other and frankly, it frightened her a bit. She’d never seen him this way: calm on the surface but simmering with fury beneath it. And what was worse, there probably wasn’t a thing she could say to soothe him.

As she attempted to unlock her front door, her fingers trembling , Luc took the keys from her and completed the task in smooth, fluid motions. He placed his hand on the small of her back and gently guided her inside.

The door had barely been closed and locked before he turned and took her by the forearm with more force than she was used to. “I know I came in to talk, but I’m not really sure words will do when action is probably best.”

Hayden didn’t get the opportunity to ask him what the hell he was going on about before he yanked her against him to cover her mouth in a bruising kiss.

Luc always had a bit of a rough edge whenever they made love, which she secretly enjoyed but felt embarrassed to admit. This time, however, was different. He seemed hell-bent on possessing her as if to teach her a lesson of some sort. She should have fought the brutal possession he’d taken of her mouth but instead, Hayden found herself melting into him.

**reminder: Commenting on an author’s blog entry/entries for the day will enter you to win a digital copy of their Carina Press title. One winner daily. Commenting on any of the Countdown entries will enter you into the big giveaway for a Carina Press promo prize pack. One winner at end of Countdown.**

My inspiration and a little about me

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In my opinion, I’m not that exciting, but I do get to do some pretty exciting stuff from time to time, like when detonated a bomb that was going to blow up Independence Hall. (Okay, that never happened, but I have a pretty vivid imagination)
So here are some of my favorite and least favorite things.

Favorite Things:
1. Laying in bed with my husband just when we wake up and there’s no where to go, nothing to do and we can lay there for as long as we like.

2. Glee. I LIVE FOR THIS SHOW!

3. Writing. If I didn’t write, I’d drive my self crazy, well, crazier than I already am.

4. Pizza (not the healthiest food in the world, but probably the best thing invented since the wheel)

5. 80′s Music. I am the self-declared 80′s queen, I’m very hard to stump in the 80′s music category.

Least Favorite Things

1. Liver. Ewwwww

2. Beer.

3. Men in thong. Why?

4. Clowns. They freak me out.

**reminder: Commenting on an author’s blog entry/entries for the day will enter you to win a digital copy of their Carina Press title. One winner daily. Commenting on any of the Countdown entries will enter you into the big giveaway for a Carina Press promo prize pack. One winner at end of Countdown.**

She’s no innocent

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I’ve always been one of those people with and extremely short attention span. It’s probably why I could never pay attention in school, that and most of my teachers made Ben Stein seem pretty darn exciting. Since I was grounded for two thirds of my childhood without television privileges, I turned to books. And usually toward the end of my confinements, the books ran out and I was stuck with a notebook and a pen. I found it was the one thing besides reading that I could do for hours on end.

As I got older, I found the stash of my mother’s Harlequin romance books (she liked the presents and Desire series) I devoured every single one I could get my hands on. This began my love for the romance genre. That’s when I decided to stop writing kids stories and try my hand at romance. I really don’t know what happened to my earlier work, although I hope most of it is sitting in a landfill somewhere.

When I became serious about writing, I researched the kinds of books that I was interested in writing  and discovered digital publishing. What I liked about the ebook market was that it took chances on genres and niches that weren’t necessarily mainstream. I was fortunate enough to find mentors who guided me through the process and teach me to hone my craft. So it was exciting when I was offered my first contract. Its a feeling I’ll never forget.

Six years later, its all come full circle. When I found out that Harlequin was launching their own digital publishing imprint and that Angela James was heading it up, I knew I had to submit something. I kept my fingers crossed and viola! Of course it wasn’t some instantaneous thing, but nonetheless, when I received my acceptance I was very excited. It’s always so exciting starting with a different pub and working with people who already have a reputation and your respect.

The first person I told was my mother who had been reading Harlequin books since before I was born. She had purchased an ereader when I put my first ebook came out and now she’s can’t wait until my first Carina release to download onto her reader.

People ask,  aren’t you embarrassed that your mother reads your stuff, because my work is on the more erotic end of the spectrum. And my answer to that is, “My mom has three kids. She’s no innocent.”

**reminder: Commenting on an author’s blog entry/entries for the day will enter you to win a digital copy of their Carina Press title. One winner daily. Commenting on any of the Countdown entries will enter you into the big giveaway for a Carina Press promo prize pack. One winner at end of Countdown.**

Fatal Affair Excerpt

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On the morning of the most important vote of Senator John O’Connor’s career he is late—again. His best friend and chief of staff, Nick Cappuano sets off to O’Connor’s apartment expecting to roust him from bed and hoping he is alone. But what Nick finds is that O’Connor, the handsome, amiable Senator from Virginia, has been brutally murdered, and Nick’s world comes crashing down around him. Complicating the disaster, the detective assigned to the case is none other than Sam Holland, Nick’s one-night stand from six years earlier, the woman who broke his heart and haunts his dreams. With six years worth of unfinished business hanging between them and more than a few scores to settle personally and professionally, Nick and Sam set out to find the senator’s killer while trying—and failing—to resist the overwhelming attraction between them that seems to have only grown over the years.

It soon becomes clear that the Senator’s past holds secrets that not only led to his death but now endanger Nick and Sam as well. Working together to find a killer and to rediscover the love they thought they lost long ago, they must put the past behind them and build a future that offers a world of new opportunities for both of them—including an offer from the Virginia Democrats for Nick to finish the last year of John’s term.

And now for a never-before-seen excerpt from Fatal Affair!

“Do you want some help cleaning up?” Sam asked Nick when they were alone.

“That’s all right. I can do it.”

He stood and extended a hand to help her up.

Sam took his hand, but when she tried to let go, he tightened his grip.

Startled, she looked up at him.

“I’m sorry I dragged you over here for nothing.”

“It wasn’t nothing—” Her words got stuck in her throat when he ran a finger over her cheek. His touch was so light she would have missed it if she hadn’t been staring at him.

“You’re tired.”

She shrugged, her heart slamming around in her chest. “I haven’t been sleeping too well lately.”

“I read all the coverage of what happened. It wasn’t your fault, Sam.”

“Tell that to Quentin Johnson. It wasn’t his fault, either.”

“His father should’ve put his son’s safety ahead of saving his crack stash.”

“I was counting on the fact that he would. I should’ve known better. How someone could put their child in that kind of danger… I’ll just never understand it.”

“I’m sorry it happened to you. It broke my heart to read about it.”

Sam found it hard to look away. “I, um…I should go.”

“Before you do, there’s just one thing I really need to know.”

“What?” she whispered.

He released her hand, cupped her face and tilted it to receive his kiss.

As his lips moved softly over hers, Sam summoned every ounce of fortitude she possessed and broke the kiss. “I can’t, Nick. Not during the investigation.” But oh how she wanted to keep kissing him!

“I was dying to know if it would be like I remembered.”

Her eyes closed against the onslaught of emotions. “And was it?”

“Even better,” he said, going back for more.

“Wait. Nick. Wait.” She kept her hand on his chest to stop him from getting any closer. “We can’t do this. Not now. Not when I’m in the middle of a homicide investigation that involves you.”

“I didn’t do it.” He reached up to release the clip that held her hair and combed his fingers through the length as it tumbled free.

Unnerved by the intimate gesture, she stepped back from him. “I know you didn’t, but you’re still involved. I’ve got enough problems right now without adding an inappropriate fling with a witness to the list.”

“Is that what it would be?” His eyes were hot, intense and possibly furious as he stared at her. “An inappropriate fling?”

“No,” she said softly. “Which is another reason why it’s not a good idea to start something now.”

He moved closer to her. “It’s already started, Sam. It started six years ago, and we never got to finish it. This time, I intend to finish it. Maybe not right now, but eventually. I was a fool to let you slip through my fingers the first time. I won’t make that mistake again.”

Startled by his intensity, Sam took another step back. “I appreciate the warning, but it might be one of those things that’s better left unfinished. We both have a lot going on—”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, handing her the hair clip.

Sam felt his eyes on her back as she went to the door and let herself out. All the way home, her lips burned from the heat of his kiss.

Fatal Affair, June 21, from Carina Press!

**reminder: Commenting on an author’s blog entry/entries for the day will enter you to win a digital copy of their Carina Press title. One winner daily. Commenting on any of the Countdown entries will enter you into the big giveaway for a Carina Press promo prize pack. One winner at end of Countdown.**

Oh Yes, I Can!

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“You can’t write a romance series that features the same couple in every book. You just can’t.” I love the word “can’t.” I really do. Telling me I can’t do something is like dangling a red blanket in front of a bull. It just makes me want to scream CAN SO at the top of my lungs. But rather than getting mad after everyone and her sister told me I couldn’t do it, I decided to get even. I wrote FATAL AFFAIR, intending for it to launch a series featuring Washington, D.C. Police Lieutenant Sam Holland and her love interest, U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano. I worked hard in FATAL AFFAIR to surround Sam and Nick with a rich cast of supporting characters, and I put them in a city that will provide endless sources of story and conflict for my fearless duo as well as their friends and family.

I wrote that book, I loved that book, and my agent loved it, too. Knowing the series idea would be a tough sell to romanceland, I decided to start book 2 just to make sure I could get this plan to work the way I thought it would. (Another no-no in the writing world: starting book 2 before you sell book 1. Did someone say, “can’t”? Hmmm, thought so.) We put FATAL AFFAIR out on submission and guess what we were told? You just can’t write a romance series featuring the same couple in every book. You can’t. Ouch. I mean, I knew it, but I still hoped someone might be willing to take a teeny tiny risk that maybe, just maybe, I COULD write a series featuring the same couple in every book. That maybe, just maybe, rabid romance readers would connect with this couple and want more, more, more! That maybe, just maybe, as a rabid romance reader myself, I knew what it took to make this work.

Meanwhile, back at book 2, I was finding it downright difficult to keep up the conflict in the relationship of my newly in love couple. You know that stage—the rose-color glasses phase when everything is hunky dory? Well, of course I couldn’t let them be TOO happy, now could I? I was 50,000 words into FATAL JUSTICE and being challenged like I’d never been challenged before when I got the official word that FATAL AFFAIR hadn’t sold. What’s a girl to do?  Well, scream and yell and punch a few things (not people, don’t worry, although I did give my kids a heads up that it was a good day to steer clear of Mom :-). After the hissy fit subsided, my mulish Irish pride kicked in, and I set out to finish that second book.

After a significant amount of bone marrow and brain matter was donated to the cause, I finished with a scene that is probably my all-time favorite in any of my books. It took me a full year to write FATAL JUSTICE—four times longer than it took to write FATAL AFFAIR—and I finished with tears on my face because before I even wrote the words “THE END,” this book I loved with my all my heart was dead on arrival. No one would ever see it. A year later, I sold FATAL AFFAIR to Carina, which opened its doors promising to blow the lid off the publishing world. And last week, on the fifth anniversary of the day I wrote “THE END” for the very first time in my life, Carina bought FATAL JUSTICE—eighteen months after the DOA day. Guess what? OH YES, I CAN!

I couldn’t be more delighted to have found a home for these two books, and hopefully more to come in this series. I couldn’t be more delighted to be working with editors who can see the potential and possibilities for Sam, Nick, and their cast of supporting characters (yes, I’m talking to you, Angela James and Jessica Schulte!). I couldn’t be more delighted to be working with the savvy, professional, incredibly author-centric group behind Carina as well as the Harlequin team supporting this effort. Every aspect of my association with Carina has been a delight. And how about that cover? Whoa! They gave me everything I asked for and then some!

So what’s FATAL AFFAIR all about? Come back later today to read a brief synopsis as well as a never-before-seen excerpt. And when someone tells you that you can’t do something? Do it anyway. You just never know where it will lead you.

FATAL AFFAIR is Marie’s first romantic suspense. Book 2 in the Fatal Series, FATAL JUSTICE, is coming soon from Carina Press. Since 1996, Marie has been the communications director for a national organization similar to the Romance Writers of America. She is a member of RWA’s New England, From the Heart, Beau Monde and Published Author Special Interest Chapters. While her husband was in the Navy, Marie lived in Spain, Maryland and Florida, and is now settled in her home state of Rhode Island. She is the mother of two children and a feisty dog named Brandy. Find her on her website, on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter. Marie loves to hear from readers. Contact her at marie@marieforce.com.

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