Morning everyone!  Hope your holidays are going well.  I'm surely enjoying mine.

Here's today's Sunday Six, from my upcoming release, Marked for Death, the last in the Inherited Damnation series.  It releases January 16th.

~~~~~~

Another heavy fist slammed into him, only this one turned the emptiness that threatened to suck him down into a bottomless abyss into a field of electricity.  The very air around him snapped with the intangible charge they had shared from the moment of first meeting.  For an instant, he forgot the years that separated them, the death she’d suffered at his hands.  He knew only the deep need to touch Solène.  To connect with everything she was and become part of it.  Part of her.

~~~~~~


Marked for Death
Inherited Damnation, Book VIII


Taran McLaine knows the agony of his incubus father's curse more intimately than his siblings. A century ago he murdered the only woman he ever loved. When he finds her alive, he's faced with the ultimate heartbreak. They have no chance at a future--he's done all he can to insure that on his day of judgment the ancestors will deny him a mortal life.

Years ago, Solene Larouche embraced Taran and the dark curse that cloaked him. She knew the risk she faced, but when Drandar pulls her back to life, she agrees to aid the demon and damn Taran to eternal suffering. One look at the man who held her heart so long ago, however, changes her mind. She must find a way to free him, even if it means condemning herself to eternity as Drandar's slave.

As Samhain approaches, Solene and Taran conspire to destroy Drandar. But will their combined effort enable them to kill the incubus or will they be cast into Drandar's own special Hell and all hope of their renewed love marked for death?





~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Good morning!  I hope everyone had a happy holiday yesterday, and if you don't celebrate, I hope you were able to enjoy some time off on a Federal Holiday!

Show don't tell -- we are preached that as beginning authors.  But what is the elusive meaning of that phrase?

Well, there's a very simple way to look at it, and I hope you'll walk away from this discussion today understanding a little more.  Mind you, again this is one of those topics that could go on for days.  I'm discussing one aspect of it, and one means of addressing it.

Do you remember the last camping trip you went on?  The last time you sat with friends and told a story?

"It was five years ago, and Julie and John went driving up Mount Skell to camp at the old cabin where it was rumored a man had been hanged to death.  Little did Jim know it would be the last time he went camping.  They lay down in their beds, the night wind blew through the closed windows, forming eerie moans in the silence.  Footsteps sounded on the floor.  Jim felt something crawl across his face.  He opened his eyes to find the man leering over him, his eyes swollen as if they were bulging out of his face, his lips cracked and dried.  He whispered one word.  "Revenge""
Yeah -- that kind of story telling.  Note... story telling.  Not story showing.

It's very easy for us writers to hear voices in our head and transpose the story that's being narrated subconsciously into actual words.  We hear it, we write it.  And we forget the translation to showing.

If a passage, a chapter, or even the whole book can give a reader the feeling they are sitting at a campfire listening to a ghost story, the writing is indeed telling.  You are narrating the story to the reader, not putting the reader in the thick of the plot and allowing them to hear, see, feel the same thing the characters are feeling.

Showing is putting more than the simple event on the page.  In the above, a simple event would be "They lay down in their beds."  Making it more than that requires some description, the feel of what is going on. Something like:

"John set a knee on the lumpy mattress. Dust puffed up from the mouse-infested stuffing, filling his nose.  He sneezed.  At his side, Julie laughed.  The light melody of her voice soothed the chills that crept down his back.  Chills he couldn't understand.  Like someone, or something watched them from the shadows beyond the trees.  This place was certainly spooky enough to pass as haunted.  No wonder the kids in town were afraid to come up here.  He was twenty-eight, and he couldn't wait to get out of the rickety old cabin."

Showing usually means breaking out portions of time into longer, more detailed events.  Summary is avoided.      Details are key to the experience.  I hit his sense of smell, his hearing, and sense of touch.  And I gave him a visceral reaction to those elements.

If you can remember to slow down, particularly in key places where you want to build some sort of tension, you are moving closer to showing the story take place.

Quick Tip:

When you've finished a chapter, pass it off to a reader -- can be even a family reader, but someone not close to you is better -- and ask them this one simple question:  "Did you feel like you were experiencing events along with him?  Or did you feel like you were experiencing his events second-hand?"  If second-hand is the answer, go back through, break it down into smaller pieces, and add in some details to make the passage come alive.





~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

Labels: , , ,


Good morning everyone -- Merry Christmas!

The kids are all cozied up with their new toys, you're stuffed to the brim, and your significant other is buried in a book.  You are getting down to business with your new Kindle!  What to buy?  What to buy?

Why not check out these free reads?  Most of these titles are only available today and tomorrow!



Suspense Thriller:


GET IT NOW!

The Good Daughter
by: Diana Layne

Payback is a bitch.




Most good daughters would say they owe their fathers everything.  Marisa Peruzzo, mafia princess, would.  



She owed him for killing her fiancé. 

She owed him for destroying her mother.  

She owed him for chaining her to the ‘family business’. 

And she owed him for taking away her lifelong friend.

Payback's a bitch.






Romantic Suspense With Paranormal Elements:


GET IT NOW!

The Dream Jumper's Promise
by: Kim Hornsby

A broken promise has consequences...


Tina Greene can't accept the surfing death of her husband Hank without a recovered body. Months after signing the death certificate, she pulls herself from the emotional wreckage and trades mourning for saving her Maui dive shop from bankruptcy. 

When war hero, Jamey Dunn, walks back into Tina's life, things take a strange turn. Lifelike dreams have the dive instructor questioning her sanity and leaning heavily on Hank's best friend, Noble. Jamey and Noble clash at every turn, both desperate to help Tina. When the dreams uncover clues to Hank's disappearance, Jamey must reveal his strange ability to enter dreams. But for Tina, trusting the man who betrayed her years before, doesn't come easily, and the decision to let Jamey enter her subconscious has a price she isn't sure she can pay. As Noble, Tina and Jamey get closer to solving the mystery of Hank's disappearance, grave danger sets in to reveal that one person is flirting with insanity, one is a traitor, and one is a murderer.







GET IT NOW!

Adrienne's Ghost
by: Leah St. James

FBI agent and psychologist investigate the murder of an FBI recruit and come face to face with the victim's spirit.


FBI Agent Jackson Yates has never believed in ghosts...until now. Called to the deepest, darkest basement at FBI Headquarters to investigate the discovery of the body of agent recruit Adrienne Garza, Jack is forced to look beyond the earthly to the spirit world for answers. Shaken by what he finds, he turns to beautiful paranormal psychologist Rachael Sullivan for help. As he draws her into the investigation, finding himself drawn closer to her with each step, can he protect her from the killer’s wrath? 

Rachael has spent her adult years seeking knowledge of life after death. She has focused those years on helping those stricken with grief, but when she receives messages from beyond the grave, messages that seem to have come from Adrienne herself, she is compelled to follow the trail. As the slain woman’s spirit reveals more and more of her killer, and of her past with investigating agent Jackson Yates, Rachael wonders if the clues are leading her to love, or death. 

Brought together by forces beyond their control, beyond their understanding, together Jack and Rachael seek the killer. Together they encounter Adrienne’s Ghost.






Contemporary Romance:


GET IT NOW!

Last First Kiss
Book 2 Le Fleur de Love
by: Lori Leger

Her daughters wanted a daddy...
She wanted her old life back...
All he wanted was the three of them...


When two co-workers lose their spouses in the same accident, it would seem natural for them to bond over their losses. But Giselle Granger would rather struggle with raising her two young daughters alone than turn to Jackson Broussard for any kind of help.

After years of putting up with his malicious, unfaithful wife, Chloe, as well as her lies and manipulations, Jackson feels almost liberated by her death. Finally free to move on with his life, he finds himself bound to the past by the desire to do right by his best friend's widow and children, even when Giselle makes it clear that she does not welcome his interference.

Over time the two form a truce that slowly heats up to a sizzling attraction. But when guilt and heartbreaking rumors surface, Giselle fears she's made a dreadful mistake in allowing herself to fall for Jackson. Will the two grab for their second chance at happiness or will they be left with nothing more than a last first kiss and two broken hearts? 






GET IT NOW!

Quotable
by: Kathy L. Wheeler


GENNA LYNDSEY is not a people person. A short, too-skinny, wild haired waif, with crazy hair and sturdy nerdy glasses lives through books. So it’s lucky she and her best friend own their own bookstore. Her college days taught her that dating was too unreliable to depend on others. It was then that she started resorting to obscure quotes to shield herself from others who ventured too close.

RICK JOHNSON, Fraud Insurance Claims Investigator, is assigned to look into an unusual number of claims filed by Genna Lyndsey. He suspects Genna of sabotaging her own property for insurance money. His investigation uncovers an adorable introvert determined to keep everyone at bay, while someone else resolves to put her out of business—no matter how great the risk.







Paranormal:


GET IT NOW!

The Slayer's Wife
by: Tenaya Jayne

Best friends turn into deadly enemies for the love of one woman.


Mark was born a vampire slayer. It's part of his DNA. He enjoys the power and he's damn good at his job. When his friend, Dathan, introduces him to the beautiful Laura, Mark's life becomes almost perfect. Dathan watches from the sidelines, as his best friend pursues the girl he's loved since childhood. Jealously leads to the ultimate betrayal. Because the best way to take out a vampire slayer is to become a vampire.






GET IT NOW!

Her Druid Temptation
by: Trish F. Leger
Erotic 


He’s always been her temptation…will she finally give in?


Liana Morgan is the consummate business woman, buttoned-up, strait-laced, and very in tune with every aspect of her restaurants. She is closed off from emotional entanglements of any kind, not letting a single distraction slip under her skin. 

Now she’s in New Orleans, tying up the last few loose ends with a new restaurant, when her one temptation strolls, oh-so-casually, back into her life. Traven Campbell is an AMBER DRUID like her, and the one man she’s never been able to completely block from her mind. Every molecule of her ‘good girl’ persona wants him, and always has, but it’s not enough for her…or is it?

Traven Campbell is a player, and proud of it. He’s easy-going, laid-back, and an expert bachelor. But even womanizers have jobs. His latest is shadowing a target for the New Orleans P.D. But while on the watch, he’s shocked to see Liana, the one woman he’s never managed to coerce into bed, WITH his target. 

Determined to find answers, Traven confronts Liana, and soon business and pleasure are mixing with the sultry heat of New Orleans. Will Liana finally give in? Will Traven be able to tempt her beyond her invisible moral line? Or will Traven’s target call the final shot?






GET IT NOW!

Journal of a Lycanthrophile
by: Fierce Dolan
Gay Kink

When the kink most forbidden is the monster that satisfies.


Jesse Holloman has a fetish for justice and a kink for werewolves. Together, his passions spiral into a world of pain, shadow desires, and an even more sinister, secretive sort of shapeshifter—the kind that changes without shifting.

Book One of The Scattered Dark Series.

Warning: This series thrives on explicit sexual content intended for mature readers.






Historical:


GET IT NOW!

Bound by Decency
by: Claire Ashgrove
Pirate Romance

This time she's not battling society, but a pirate bent on keeping her decency intact.


After inheriting a portion of Spain’s Royal Inheritance, Cain left The Flying Gang for a chance at honest wealth. With the secrets of his piracy tucked away, he achieved his lofty aspirations. But when his partner and best friend betrays him to the Royal Navy, Cain’s dreams are ripped to shreds. He’s left with his ship, the tattered remnants of a stolen future, and a piece of Spanish mystery. Wanted by three nations and destined for the gallows, he returns to the legendary band of buccaneers for one purpose -- vengeance. 

Kidnapped by the formidable Cain, India Prescott discovers he intends to kill the man she’s to marry. Cain’s story reveals betrayal. Treachery that extends to her as well. Although she holds the key to retribution, India refuses to become another man’s pawn. Freedom lies before her, the liberty to shrug off propriety, make her own decisions, and claim her destiny. But when she uncovers goodness in Cain’s soul and he awakens passion in her heart, she must combat the chains of convention once more. 





GET IT NOW!

Miss Merry's Christmas
by: Callie Hutton
Regency Romance

The duke fired the annoying governess; his mother re-hired her as a companion. Now she's driving him crazy.


THE DUKE OF PENROSE is not happy with MISS MEREDITH CHAMBERS, the American governess his new wards have arrived with. He quickly replaces her, happy to have his unwanted attraction to the unsuitable woman behind him. Until his mother hires her as a companion…

England, 1817. David Worthington, Duke of Penrose dislikes Miss Meredith Chambers, the American governess who accompanied his new wards. He especially detests his attraction to the insufferable woman, and is anxious for her replacement to arrive. 

Merry is thrilled when the Dowager Duchess Penrose hires her as a companion. Now she can stay with her beloved charges. But can she ignore how her heart thumps when the pompous duke gets close? 

Two people determined to ignore each other, despite the pull between them, and the sparks that fly whenever they're together.







GET IT NOW!

Vows of Revenge
By: J.F. Ridgley
Ancient Rome

After her patrician husband sells her to a fate worse than death, Aelia must learn that in Amalfi you live by your heart, not by Rome's laws.


Amid pirates, godfathers and forbidden love in the ancient world of Rome, Lucianus and Aelia rise from the ashes of their lives. Aelia struggles to survive a marriage to a patrician monster who also forces Lucianus off his family's land. When Lucianus learns Cassius has sold the beautiful Aelia to a fate worse than death, he saves her and takes Aelia back to Amalfi where he heals her with his love. But will Rome allow this love between a plebeian and patrician's daughter? Will Rome make Lucianus grovel? Or will he seek his revenge?






Gothic Mystery:


GET IT NOW!

Lady in the Mist
by: Winter Frost

A psychology student takes a job caring for a mentally unstable young man on a remote coastal island and becomes embroiled in a deadly mystery.


Upon her arrival in Shoal Harbor, Maine, Lily Jackson hears eerie moans that the locals claim are the ghostly cries of the unfortunate Breckenridge women. Running from loss and setback in Cincinnati, Lily needs the job as semi-psychiatric caregiver for Andrew Breckenridge, but the storm she has to weather from the oldest Breckenridge brother is severe. Clinton Breckenridge is a brooding man used to getting his own way, and he’s not convinced Lily is the right person to help his troubled younger brother.

Even as Lily starts picking up the pieces of Andrew’s tortured psyche and finding out his dark secrets, another mystery looms before her. Andrew’s lover has gone missing in recent months and no one knows what has happened to her, or if her voice has joined those of the other Breckenridge women. Before she knows it, Lily finds herself in danger—thrust directly into the eye of the raging storm.







~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Good morning everyone -- Merry Christmas EVE!

If you're giving a Kindle and looking for some suggestions, or you just want a new read for your own, why not check out these free reads available on Christmas and the 26th?



Suspense Thriller:


GET IT NOW!

The Good Daughter
by: Diana Layne

Payback is a bitch.




Most good daughters would say they owe their fathers everything.  Marisa Peruzzo, mafia princess, would.  



She owed him for killing her fiancé. 

She owed him for destroying her mother.  

She owed him for chaining her to the ‘family business’. 

And she owed him for taking away her lifelong friend.

Payback's a bitch.






Romantic Suspense With Paranormal Elements:


GET IT NOW!

The Dream Jumper's Promise
by: Kim Hornsby

A broken promise has consequences...


Tina Greene can't accept the surfing death of her husband Hank without a recovered body. Months after signing the death certificate, she pulls herself from the emotional wreckage and trades mourning for saving her Maui dive shop from bankruptcy. 

When war hero, Jamey Dunn, walks back into Tina's life, things take a strange turn. Lifelike dreams have the dive instructor questioning her sanity and leaning heavily on Hank's best friend, Noble. Jamey and Noble clash at every turn, both desperate to help Tina. When the dreams uncover clues to Hank's disappearance, Jamey must reveal his strange ability to enter dreams. But for Tina, trusting the man who betrayed her years before, doesn't come easily, and the decision to let Jamey enter her subconscious has a price she isn't sure she can pay. As Noble, Tina and Jamey get closer to solving the mystery of Hank's disappearance, grave danger sets in to reveal that one person is flirting with insanity, one is a traitor, and one is a murderer.







GET IT NOW!

Adrienne's Ghost
by: Leah St. James

FBI agent and psychologist investigate the murder of an FBI recruit and come face to face with the victim's spirit.


FBI Agent Jackson Yates has never believed in ghosts...until now. Called to the deepest, darkest basement at FBI Headquarters to investigate the discovery of the body of agent recruit Adrienne Garza, Jack is forced to look beyond the earthly to the spirit world for answers. Shaken by what he finds, he turns to beautiful paranormal psychologist Rachael Sullivan for help. As he draws her into the investigation, finding himself drawn closer to her with each step, can he protect her from the killer’s wrath? 

Rachael has spent her adult years seeking knowledge of life after death. She has focused those years on helping those stricken with grief, but when she receives messages from beyond the grave, messages that seem to have come from Adrienne herself, she is compelled to follow the trail. As the slain woman’s spirit reveals more and more of her killer, and of her past with investigating agent Jackson Yates, Rachael wonders if the clues are leading her to love, or death. 

Brought together by forces beyond their control, beyond their understanding, together Jack and Rachael seek the killer. Together they encounter Adrienne’s Ghost.






Contemporary Romance:


GET IT NOW!

Last First Kiss
Book 2 Le Fleur de Love
by: Lori Leger

Her daughters wanted a daddy...
She wanted her old life back...
All he wanted was the three of them...


When two co-workers lose their spouses in the same accident, it would seem natural for them to bond over their losses. But Giselle Granger would rather struggle with raising her two young daughters alone than turn to Jackson Broussard for any kind of help.

After years of putting up with his malicious, unfaithful wife, Chloe, as well as her lies and manipulations, Jackson feels almost liberated by her death. Finally free to move on with his life, he finds himself bound to the past by the desire to do right by his best friend's widow and children, even when Giselle makes it clear that she does not welcome his interference.

Over time the two form a truce that slowly heats up to a sizzling attraction. But when guilt and heartbreaking rumors surface, Giselle fears she's made a dreadful mistake in allowing herself to fall for Jackson. Will the two grab for their second chance at happiness or will they be left with nothing more than a last first kiss and two broken hearts? 






GET IT NOW!

Quotable
by: Kathy L. Wheeler


GENNA LYNDSEY is not a people person. A short, too-skinny, wild haired waif, with crazy hair and sturdy nerdy glasses lives through books. So it’s lucky she and her best friend own their own bookstore. Her college days taught her that dating was too unreliable to depend on others. It was then that she started resorting to obscure quotes to shield herself from others who ventured too close.

RICK JOHNSON, Fraud Insurance Claims Investigator, is assigned to look into an unusual number of claims filed by Genna Lyndsey. He suspects Genna of sabotaging her own property for insurance money. His investigation uncovers an adorable introvert determined to keep everyone at bay, while someone else resolves to put her out of business—no matter how great the risk.







Paranormal:


GET IT NOW!

The Slayer's Wife
by: Tenaya Jayne

Best friends turn into deadly enemies for the love of one woman.


Mark was born a vampire slayer. It's part of his DNA. He enjoys the power and he's damn good at his job. When his friend, Dathan, introduces him to the beautiful Laura, Mark's life becomes almost perfect. Dathan watches from the sidelines, as his best friend pursues the girl he's loved since childhood. Jealously leads to the ultimate betrayal. Because the best way to take out a vampire slayer is to become a vampire.






GET IT NOW!

Her Druid Temptation
by: Trish F. Leger
Erotic 


He’s always been her temptation…will she finally give in?


Liana Morgan is the consummate business woman, buttoned-up, strait-laced, and very in tune with every aspect of her restaurants. She is closed off from emotional entanglements of any kind, not letting a single distraction slip under her skin. 

Now she’s in New Orleans, tying up the last few loose ends with a new restaurant, when her one temptation strolls, oh-so-casually, back into her life. Traven Campbell is an AMBER DRUID like her, and the one man she’s never been able to completely block from her mind. Every molecule of her ‘good girl’ persona wants him, and always has, but it’s not enough for her…or is it?

Traven Campbell is a player, and proud of it. He’s easy-going, laid-back, and an expert bachelor. But even womanizers have jobs. His latest is shadowing a target for the New Orleans P.D. But while on the watch, he’s shocked to see Liana, the one woman he’s never managed to coerce into bed, WITH his target. 

Determined to find answers, Traven confronts Liana, and soon business and pleasure are mixing with the sultry heat of New Orleans. Will Liana finally give in? Will Traven be able to tempt her beyond her invisible moral line? Or will Traven’s target call the final shot?






GET IT NOW!

Journal of a Lycanthrophile
by: Fierce Dolan
Gay Kink

When the kink most forbidden is the monster that satisfies.


Jesse Holloman has a fetish for justice and a kink for werewolves. Together, his passions spiral into a world of pain, shadow desires, and an even more sinister, secretive sort of shapeshifter—the kind that changes without shifting.

Book One of The Scattered Dark Series.

Warning: This series thrives on explicit sexual content intended for mature readers.






Historical:


GET IT NOW!

Bound by Decency
by: Claire Ashgrove
Pirate Romance

This time she's not battling society, but a pirate bent on keeping her decency intact.


After inheriting a portion of Spain’s Royal Inheritance, Cain left The Flying Gang for a chance at honest wealth. With the secrets of his piracy tucked away, he achieved his lofty aspirations. But when his partner and best friend betrays him to the Royal Navy, Cain’s dreams are ripped to shreds. He’s left with his ship, the tattered remnants of a stolen future, and a piece of Spanish mystery. Wanted by three nations and destined for the gallows, he returns to the legendary band of buccaneers for one purpose -- vengeance. 

Kidnapped by the formidable Cain, India Prescott discovers he intends to kill the man she’s to marry. Cain’s story reveals betrayal. Treachery that extends to her as well. Although she holds the key to retribution, India refuses to become another man’s pawn. Freedom lies before her, the liberty to shrug off propriety, make her own decisions, and claim her destiny. But when she uncovers goodness in Cain’s soul and he awakens passion in her heart, she must combat the chains of convention once more. 





GET IT NOW!

Miss Merry's Christmas
by: Callie Hutton
Regency Romance

The duke fired the annoying governess; his mother re-hired her as a companion. Now she's driving him crazy.


THE DUKE OF PENROSE is not happy with MISS MEREDITH CHAMBERS, the American governess his new wards have arrived with. He quickly replaces her, happy to have his unwanted attraction to the unsuitable woman behind him. Until his mother hires her as a companion…

England, 1817. David Worthington, Duke of Penrose dislikes Miss Meredith Chambers, the American governess who accompanied his new wards. He especially detests his attraction to the insufferable woman, and is anxious for her replacement to arrive. 

Merry is thrilled when the Dowager Duchess Penrose hires her as a companion. Now she can stay with her beloved charges. But can she ignore how her heart thumps when the pompous duke gets close? 

Two people determined to ignore each other, despite the pull between them, and the sparks that fly whenever they're together.







GET IT NOW!

Vows of Revenge
By: J.F. Ridgley
Ancient Rome

After her patrician husband sells her to a fate worse than death, Aelia must learn that in Amalfi you live by your heart, not by Rome's laws.


Amid pirates, godfathers and forbidden love in the ancient world of Rome, Lucianus and Aelia rise from the ashes of their lives. Aelia struggles to survive a marriage to a patrician monster who also forces Lucianus off his family's land. When Lucianus learns Cassius has sold the beautiful Aelia to a fate worse than death, he saves her and takes Aelia back to Amalfi where he heals her with his love. But will Rome allow this love between a plebeian and patrician's daughter? Will Rome make Lucianus grovel? Or will he seek his revenge?






Gothic Mystery:


GET IT NOW!

Lady in the Mist
by: Winter Frost

A psychology student takes a job caring for a mentally unstable young man on a remote coastal island and becomes embroiled in a deadly mystery.


Upon her arrival in Shoal Harbor, Maine, Lily Jackson hears eerie moans that the locals claim are the ghostly cries of the unfortunate Breckenridge women. Running from loss and setback in Cincinnati, Lily needs the job as semi-psychiatric caregiver for Andrew Breckenridge, but the storm she has to weather from the oldest Breckenridge brother is severe. Clinton Breckenridge is a brooding man used to getting his own way, and he’s not convinced Lily is the right person to help his troubled younger brother.

Even as Lily starts picking up the pieces of Andrew’s tortured psyche and finding out his dark secrets, another mystery looms before her. Andrew’s lover has gone missing in recent months and no one knows what has happened to her, or if her voice has joined those of the other Breckenridge women. Before she knows it, Lily finds herself in danger—thrust directly into the eye of the raging storm.







~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Well... apologies for the late nature of my Sunday Six.  Originally it was slated to be a quip from Immortal Protector, but the release date has been pushed back, and I'm not ready to share that yet.

So... here's a quick peek at one of my favorite exchanges from my current work in progress:

~~~~~~


A nagging feeling pulled at Julian’s gut, and cautiously, so as not to offend her, he asked, “With due respect, Miss Grayson, you can dance, can you not?”
            The soft chuckle she’d expelled turned into a hearty, melodious sound.  She quickly gained control of it, but her eyes remained twinkling.  “I’m afraid not.  The last steps I took were upon my father’s toes, when I was twelve.”

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

Labels: ,

Sunday Six

0 Comments Posted by Claire Ashgrove at 5:00 AM



Hi everyone!  Power outages about here on the homestead with this winter snow blast - our first of the year. But the upside is, it's beginning to look a lot like...

Anyway, please welcome Jerrie Alexander to the blog today.  She's talking about her book, The Green-Eyed Doll, which I think would be a great choice for a new Kindle or a last-minute holiday add-on!

The Green-Eyed Doll


Catherine McCoy is running from her past. She's been on the move for a year, hiding the secret and guilt in her heart. When she lands in small-town Texas and meets Sheriff Matt Ballard, he ignites a flame she thought lost forever.

Matt has scars of his own. He left the big city after an undercover operation went bad and his partner was killed. Now, as Matt hunts for a serial killer who paints his victims like porcelain dolls, Catherine becomes a safe haven for him. Two tortured souls finding comfort in each other's arms—until he uncovers her secret, and their bond of trust is broken.

When Catherine disappears, Matt races to find her, fearing the murderer has found his next green-eyed doll. But the killer has a surprise coming. Catherine will fight to the death before she'll be a victim. But will her determination be enough?

Jerrie's brought Matt and Catherine to the blog today to talk about their Christmas plans.  Let's see what this exciting couple is up to!

Claire, thank you for inviting me over. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce you and your readers to Catherine McCoy and Sheriff Matt Ballard. If everyone's comfortable, let's get started.

Jerrie: "Tell us about this year's Christmas plans."

Catherine: "Christmas time in Texas can mean light snow, sheets of ice, or 70-degree days. Thank goodness, it's cooled off enough to kill a few mosquitoes. We're getting a tree this weekend."

Matt: "That's correct, and maybe you can help me convince her there's nowhere around here to cut our own tree! We can buy one right off a lot here in town."

Catherine: "Stop that. People will think you're a scrooge. We have tree farms, so what if they're not close by." She drops a hand on his knee and pats. "Don't you want a fresh tree for our first Christmas?"

Matt: His gaze drops to his leg. "I want you to be happy. So, if we have to drive a hundred miles to get the right tree...so be it."

Catherine: "See, he's not gruff all the time."

Jerrie: "Will you have family over?"

Matt: "Both our parents are gone," he answered quickly. "Catherine's brother sent his regrets. The only family I have is Catherine and Benedict," he said with a chuckle.

Catherine: "That's Matt's dog. He follows him everywhere." She brightens, and her green-eyes sparkle. "Ash Hunter isn't blood family, but he'll join us for the holiday. He helped save my life. Oh, that reminds me. I have to buy him a gift."

Matt: Matt made a scoffing sound. "You saved yourself, but it will be fun having him visit. He's a good friend."

Jerrie: "What's for lunch Christmas day?"

Catherine: "I'm a decent cook." She glanced at Matt, waiting until he nodded his agreement. "We're having old-fashioned turkey and cornbread dressing. My mama's recipe was simple and delicious. Matt's requested sweet-potato pie, which means I'm on the hunt for an easy recipe. You wouldn't happen to have one. Would you?"

Jerrie: "I do. I'll email it to you. Have you bought presents for each other?"

Matt: "Can't tell you with her in the room. She's already about to pester me to death." He leans close and whispers, "New eel skin boots and a weekend in San Antonio."

Jerrie: I whisper back in his ear, "Your secret is safe with me."

Catherine: "Awe. No fair." She crinkled her nose at Matt. "I'm a last minute kind of shopper, but I have a couple of special things in mind."

Jerrie: "So you're staying at home?"

Catherine: "Absolutely. We remodeled the inside of Matt's house. He did the carpentry, and I shopped for furniture. Got decorations for the inside and out while I was buying."

Matt: "It will be a small, quiet Christmas, but I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than at home. The crowd will grow in time. Someday the yard will be full of kids." He rested his hand on Catherine's stomach. "Right?"

Catherine: "Right." Her smile was a cross between impish and angelic.


Sounds lovely, quaint and romantic all at the same time! Thanks for stopping by, all!  Let's take a peek at these two in action.

~~@~~
EXCERPT
~~@~~

“Not to be nosey, but do you have any clues? You know...leads?” She turned and leaned back against the counter. 

Sitting in the chair, wearing a black Go Rodeo T-shirt, jeans, and alligator boots, the last thing Matt looked like was a sheriff. Bull rider? You bet. Maybe a cattle rancher. But the one question about the murders changed his demeanor and posture. The shift from sexy, adorable hunk to serious, defender of the public was instantaneous. Catherine was back to licking her lips.

“I wish I could say yes. Truth is every female in the county is in danger. Married or single, it doesn’t seem to matter. I believe both women knew this man. Maybe not friends, but they recognized him. He could be the mailman, the guy at the gas station, anybody.”

“Even JC?” He’d befriended her, and she hoped Matt’s answer was no.

“Maybe.” He dragged his hand across the dark stubble on his face. “He had a relationship with Julia Drummond, and he knew Annie.”

“You’ll catch him. I know it.” Her gut coiled at the thought Matt had been injured. Should she ask about the scar? They’d discussed a few personal issues, but the last thing she wanted was to push him. “Can I ask something that’s none of my business?” 

“Sure. Coffee’s not ready.”

“The scar on your back. What happened?” He shifted his gaze away from her, and his shoulders stiffened. She regretted giving into curiosity. “Never mind. I shouldn’t have asked.”


~~@~~
YOU HAVE JUST READ AN EXCERPT FROM THE GREEN-EYED DOLL
~~@~~

Jerrie is holding a giveaway today, folks!   Jerrie will be awarding a $10 Barnes and Noble CD to a randomly drawn commenter at the end of each week, and a $20 Barnes and Noble GC to one randomly drawn commenter from all comments during the tour, awarded at the end of the tour. 

Follow the tour!  The more you comment, the better your chances of winning!  Complete tour dates may be found here.


About the Author:

A student of  creative writing in her youth, Jerrie set aside her passion when life presented her with a John Wayne husband, and two wonderful children.  A career in logistics offered her the opportunity to travel to many beautiful locations in America, and she revisits them in her romantic suspense novels.  

But the characters went with her, talked to her, and insisted she share their dark, sexy stories with others.  She writes alpha males and kick-ass women who weave their way through death and fear to emerge stronger because of, and on occasion in spite of, their love for each other.  She likes to torture people, make them suffer, and if they’re strong enough, they live happily ever after. 

Jerrie lives in Texas, loves sunshine, children’s laughter, sugar (human and granulated), and researching for her heroes and heroines. 

Keep in touch:  Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter  |  Facebook


A GoddessFish Promotions Tour Guest






~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

Labels: , , , ,

Good morning, everyone!  Welcome back and happy hump day to all of you!

So many times writers are told "Your story doesn't start here, but there."  So many times, writers don't understand why they are told this.  I mean, after all, we've done hard labor getting those words out, and often the writing is clear and engaging.  So what gives?

I want to preface the rest of this discussion with the remark that this is very simplified. As your writing grows, these rules will flex.  But here's a good place to start if you're on your first endeavor, or you're hearing something along the lines of the above.

We live in an instant gratification world.  Readers of genre fiction want to be entertained, and they want the entertainment now.  Their patience for reading great prose that is building on a theme with a full moral to the story is... waning.

A writer is therefore presented with the problem of snagging the reader's interest immediately.  We stress first sentences, we stress closing chapter hooks.  We stress all kinds of things.  What it boils down to is conflict.  Conflict always drives the action of the story.  If you're in a lull, stir up the conflict again.  (Sagging middles are great places for people to die.)

Conflict also establishes expectations in the early pages.  If conflict is presented, the reader has a pretty generalized understanding of what is going to happen on the next few chapters and the stronger that conflict, the more promising the remaining pages are.

So in a book's beginning, bringing that conflict front and center right away is key.  You want the following tidbits of information in your first chapter:

WHO - is the character
WHAT - does the character want
WHY - can't the character have it

If you're writing romance, particularly category romance, you want this same information for both hero and heroine in the first chapter.  Or as close to the first chapter as you can get.

Notice what aren't core elements: how did the character get here? where is here? any external influences that have contributed to this situation.  That is not to say those are not important details.  They are simply not your first chapter objective.

This also doesn't mean you have to tell us heaps of back story to answer those questions either.  We do not need to know that Jim was heading out for his flight, got a flat tire, had to walk thirty miles to get assistance, wore a hole in the toe of his shoe, and missed his flight.... unless Jim wants to be on time for his job interview.  If Jim is arriving in Louisiana after these escapades, and Jim's goal is to get to the front of the McDonald's line, simply because he's hungry, none of how he got there is important.  The story begins with Jim staring at the person's head in front of him, swearing up a blue streak because his stomach is in knots.

Those three items also don't have to be detailed in depth.  In some situations you will want to only drop a hint.  Just enough to play to the objective, but without giving away elements that you intend to draw out as the story moves forward.

I've really simplified this, but it's a topic that could be written on for days.

In Sum:  Tighten out the extemporaneous.  If your first chapter doesn't address those points, as they relate to the plot of your book, chances are your story is not starting at the point of action.  Action moves your story forward.  Start it as close to the action as you can, and you have a natural propeller for the forthcoming pages.

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

Labels: , ,

We're back with more of Clint and Jesse from A Christmas to Believe In!

For more of the brothers, check out the other two books in the Three Kings trilogy.



A Christmas to Believe In
Amazon | Barnes and Noble


When a man's dreams are in ruin, all he needs is someone to believe...

Struggling Thoroughbred breeder, Clint King, hasn’t been home for Christmas in five years. Like his brothers, Alex and Heath, life has kept him away. Clint’s farm is barely hanging on. His prize mare's due to foal any day, and in the wake of his father’s death, Clint can’t stand the idea of returning. The memories are too much, let alone his father’s imposing shadow. Except, Alex is getting married on Christmas Eve, and their mother’s put her foot down. She’ll have her boys at home. With his mare in tow behind him, Clint prepares to meet a sister he’s never known and Alex’s unexpected triplets. The one salvation he looks forward to is childhood companion, tomboy Jesse Saurs. Yet when he reunites with Jesse, he uncomfortably discovers she’s become all woman.

Jesse Saurs has everything she needs – financial security, a home, and a foster child who’s about to become her son. She’s spent two years breaking down Ethan’s emotional barriers, and with the final hearing scheduled just before Christmas, this year promises to make his dreams come true. When she learns Clint and his brothers are returning, she anticipates a holiday reunion that’s sure to entertain Ethan. But on the night of Clint’s return, the ‘brother’ she expected leaves her trembling after just a single hug. Even worse, Ethan makes it clear Clint's not welcome.

Will this Christmas destroy what's left of hopes and dreams, or will it give the three the gift they've all been longing for?

~~~~~~~
Chapter Two




Clint steered on autopilot, staring at the tail lights in front of him. He’d much rather keep his horse at a professional stable. Not that he couldn’t provide the same care for his mare—hell, he’d provide better regardless of where she stayed. Being forced to go to Jesse’s, at least twice a day, when every time she looked at him his cock answered with a twinge, didn’t bode well.

He was tense enough already. If his mare foaled before January 1, the foal would become a yearling at less than two weeks of age. Which meant when the foal joined the rest of the racing field, he or she would be competing at a severe disadvantage.

Which meant dreams broken. Financial disaster. Every penny he’d saved was in that mare and her foal. Sired by a Grade 1, stakes-winning, stallion, and out of a heavily black-typed mare, the foal was as sure of a shot as he could get at a muchneeded Derby win. If it came out of the oven next year.

The whole damn situation had him waking up with headaches that lingered throughout the day. He absolutely didn’t need misplaced desire furthering his agitation. And certainly not when Jesse was the subject of said desire.

Jessie, for God’s sake. Man, Heath and Alex would give him hell for weeks, if they ever found out. Make that months. For that matter, it would destroy his friendship with her. Where they shared a casual comfortableness, tension would slip in. She’d avoid Mom’s. Mom would wonder why. In the end, he’d just be the jerk that drove Jesse away.

No, this was absolutely not where he wanted his horse. He’d accept it for the night, but come tomorrow morning, he was hitting the phone book for another boarding stable. Maybe even a veterinary clinic that offered foaling services.

He eased around the turn to her drive and rolled up the winding gravel path. Around him, the snow-covered landscape glistened beneath the light of the moon. The thick evergreens bordering the Saurs’ property drooped with clumps of ice and snow. He took it in, admiring the landscape. Thirty years, he’d lived in this cozy country corner of North Kansas City, and he hadn’t ever stopped to appreciate how pretty it could be.

Then again, he’d been twelve or thirteen when Missouri last saw this much snow.

Jesse eased to a stop behind her parents’ house, and her headlights went dark as she shut off the car. Jumping outside, she motioned him on ahead to the barn. When he pulled forward, he caught a glimpse of her wrapping a scarf around her neck before she disappeared from his side mirror.

He sincerely hoped she didn’t plan on helping him get his mare settled in. After the way his libido responded to touching her hand earlier, he could use the time alone. Taking care of Angel would steer his traitorous thoughts down a more appropriate course. One that absolutely didn’t involve fleeting visions of what Jesse might look like beneath that soft, baby blue sweater.

Choking back a groan, he eased the truck and trailer to a stop in front of the barn doors. New red paint hid the cracked, grey boards he remembered. A coat of brilliant white on the eaves and cross-boards added a touch of warm welcoming. Man, they used to play hide in seek in here as kids. Dug for snakes where her grandfather once stored hay. On more than one occasion, they’d camped out overnight in the loft and told ghost stories until all four of them surrendered their courage and raced back inside her house.

What happened to that Jesse? He’d have leapt at the idea of boarding Angel here if his tomboy friend had suggested the idea.

As reluctance crept into his veins, he eased out of the truck. Moving around to the side of the trailer, he took a lead rope out of the small tack room. He shut the door with a firm push and turned toward the rear loading door, only to find Jesse standing at his side.

Beneath the brim of her stylish winter hat, her eyes shone bright. One dark tendril of hair escaped the cap, falling just in front of her ear and framing the side of her face in a uniquely appealing fashion. His fingers itched to push it aside, tuck it behind her ear. Touch her cheek and see if it felt as silky as it looked.

She smiled and rubbed her hands together to generate warmth. “Tell me what to do?”

Go inside.

Clint bit back the uncalled for sharp retort. She hadn’t done anything to deserve his annoyance. It wasn’t her fault something had cross-fired in his brain. He forced himself to smile. “Open up the barn? I’ll get her.”

“Sure thing.”

Jesse trotted off through the ankle-deep drifts, her long dark hair tumbling along after her. Clint’s gaze fixed on the sway of her hips. Hugged by her dark jeans, she had the most amazing, perfect little, heart-shaped bottom.

With a roll of his eyes and a mutter, he turned back to his trailer and unlatched the door. Perfect or not, Jesse would deck him if she caught him looking.

“Hey girl.”

The dark bay mare nickered in return. Shavings rustled as she turned around and took a step closer.

“That’s right. We’re here. Don’t get too comfortable, we’re leaving in the morning.”

Stepping back, he unhooked the safety and slowly lowered the loading ramp to the ground. Angel moved to the edge of the stable box, and he snapped the end of the lead beneath her chin. He gave her an encouraging tug, and she took a tentative step out. Her ears pricked, she lifted her head and let out a long snort. Then, with more purpose, she descended into the snow.

****

From the open doorway, Jesse watched as Clint led a breathtaking mare her way. A wide white blaze ran between dark eyes and curled over one nostril. Neatly clipped, her short black mane grazed a muscular neck. Tall and sleek, despite the oversized belly that gave her an ambling gait, she carried herself with regal grace.

“She’s beautiful.” Stepping aside to let them pass, Jesse took in the mare’s dark, shiny coat. If not for the reddish hint that glinted in the dim light, she’d have sworn the mare was pitch black.

“Thanks,” Clint murmured. “Where to?”

“Over there.” Jesse swept her arm sideways indicating the old, dust-covered stall. “It’s not much, but it’s warm and dry.”

He escorted his horse through the half-door and secured her to a thick post. “I’ve got some shavings in the trailer. It won’t take long to get her settled in, then I’ll get out of your hair.”

She blinked. “Don’t be silly. You’re not in my hair, Clint.”

Halfway to the door, he paused and gave her a long look. Under the scrutiny of his warm amber gaze, a flush crept through her body. She crossed her arms protectively, feeling at once exposed and at the same time, strangely pleased.

A frown tugged his eyebrows together, and he opened his mouth to say something. Thinking better of it, he closed it and disappeared out the door. In a few seconds, he reappeared toting a vacuum-sealed bale of pine shavings.

He entered the stall, took out a pocketknife, and sliced the bag open. He dumped it in the corner, creating a fragrant mound. Still without speaking, he returned outside, presumably for another.

Jesse jumped to action. She wouldn’t stand by and let Clint do all the work when it was twenty degrees out. She hurried after him, catching up as he stepped out of the trailer’s tack room toting another bag of shavings. “I’ll take that.” Before he could argue, she snatched it out of his hands.

“Hey,” he protested.

She tossed him a wink and grinned. “I’m not helpless.”

“Yeah, but—”

“But what? C’mon, it’ll go faster with two, then you can come inside and warm up with some coffee. Say hello to Ethan.”

She didn’t give him a chance to protest. With a hefty yank, she dragged the bag toward the barn and dumped it beside the first pile. Six piles later, she joined Clint in flattening the shavings with the side of her boot. Then, she left the stall and leaned on the rough plank wall.

Clint approached his mare with a faint smile. He stroked the side of her neck, her shoulder, her expansive belly, and Jesse stared, transfixed. In all the years she’d known Clint, she’d never seen such compassion. Such respect. He moved around the mare, murmuring in a voice so low she couldn’t make out the words. But the expression on his face left no doubt about what he said. Praises. Little whispers of affection.

When he bent forward and pressed a kiss to her velvety nose, Jesse’s heart lurched. She’d listened to him babble about the race horses he’d worked with that long ago summer at The Woodlands. Back then, she’d known he loved his job, but she’d never fully grasped what took him away from Kansas City to Kentucky. Now, watching him, a little bubble of pride burst deep inside her soul. He’d gone after his dream. He was good with this horse. Damn good. And his love for his mare was unmistakable.

He stepped away from the horse, her halter in hand, and joined Jesse at the stall’s rail. Elbows propped over the top, he leaned forward and watched his horse.

“She’s really pretty,” Jesse whispered.

“She’s my future, Jesse. Everything’s riding on that foal.”

“How so?” Jesse tipped her head up to look at him. She took in the firm line of his strong jaw, his high-set cheekbones, the way his hair dusted the top of his ears. The shadows intensified the hint of whiskers on his chin, and she curled her fingers into her gloves, resisting the urge to run her knuckle over the stubble.

“I had some bad luck the last several years. So, I changed my tactics. I’ve still got good runners back home, but this one…” He nodded to the horse in reference. “I dumped all my savings into her and this foal. Pray that baby doesn’t make an appearance before New Year’s.”

Giving him a quizzical look, Jesse asked, “Why?”

“The Jockey Club ages Thoroughbreds on January first of every year. They compete, among other restrictions, by age. It will be a yearling come January first, which means that foal will have to run against horses a full year older. Situations like that don’t lead to wins very often.”

“But there’s a chance, right?”

“Slim.”

She turned her gaze back to the mare and fell into silence. She didn’t know much about horses, but the way the mare grunted as she turned around suggested discomfort. As Jesse watched, the horse turned her head and looked at her flank. Her belly moved with the shift of a leg.

“What’s her name?”

When Clint didn’t immediately answer, she inched closer and gave his elbow a jab. “Hey. You in there?”

Clint smiled down at her with a chuckle. He draped his arm over her shoulder and pulled her in against his side. “Sorry.”

At once, the heady aroma of spice and leather seeped into her awareness. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She could stand here all night long, soaking up his warmth, pretending he was someone else. Someone who wouldn’t mind if she rose up on tiptoe and stole a kiss.

Instead, she shifted and nuzzled her cheek into his chest. One palm over the steady drum of his heart, she let out a contented sigh. “It’s good to have you home, Clint.”

His voice reverberated beneath her ear, amplifying his low murmur. “It’s good to be here.”

Lord, if he had any idea how the husky quality of his deep baritone turned her belly into liquid, he’d laugh her all the way out of the barn. She hid a blush by snuggling closer and dipping her head. Her fingers twitched with the longing to run her hand down his expansive chest and over his taut stomach.

He’d always been meticulous about working out. No doubt, those muscles would be firm and hard. A playground designed for fingertips, nails, lips.

She winced at the thought. Nothing good could come from thinking about Clint sexually. But it had been so long since a man had held her, so long since she’d even considered intimacy, she couldn’t squelch the fantasy of what he’d look like beneath his layers of clothes.

Distance would help. However, she wasn’t ready to let him leave just yet.

Leaning back into his familial embrace, she looked up at him with a smile. “Come inside for coffee? We can catch up. You can meet Ethan if I can drag him off his video game.”

Clint’s gaze fixed on something behind her. “I should get back to the house. With Mom’s broken ankle, she’ll need the help.”

As a rule, Jesse admired the way Clint embraced responsibility. Even as kids, he’d always been the voice of all their consciences. He’d always helped around the house, in the yard, worked a little harder at school than the rest of them.

Tonight, however, his need to step up to the plate and do what was expected only tweaked her nerves. If he didn’t have his arm around her, she’d swear he wanted away from her.

She turned a goading smile on him. “Oh, c’mon. They can live without you for a cup of coffee. Come inside with me.”

Twisting free, she caught his hand and tugged. Reluctantly, he pulled his gaze off his mare. Yet, as she led him out of the barn, he didn’t attempt to protest.


~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

Labels: , , , , ,

"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
~
(History Channel International)

IMMORTAL TRUST is
AVAILABLE for PRE-ORDER




READ AN EXCERPT

GoddessFish Promotions

Goddess Fish Partner

Night Owl Romance

Night Owl Romance
For The Latest In Romance Reviews

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Coffee Time Romance

Coffee Time Romance
Blogging About Romance