Sunday, March 31, 2013

Section Sunday!

Welcome back to Section Sunday! In honor of my new book contract, I'm sharing another section of Silent Surrender, which will be part of Decadent Publishing's Tease line later this year. Quinn and Meggie are in her kitchen making sandwiches for a group of people. Hope you enjoy!
 

Quinn invaded her space and cupped her cheek. “It’s a wonderful picture of you with your ginger curls, that purple shirt molding to your lovely curves.”
Don’t.” She said, but she didn’t put him away.
His thumb swirled along her skin and the scent of him invaded her nostrils. “Why do you fight it? Us?” His lips brushed over the shell of her ear. Dizziness swirled inside her brain. So much she wanted to give in, to fall back into his strong arms, to feel the muscles in his chest, his back, to surrender to the beautiful experience she knew she could have with him. But she had too much to lose.
She raised her hands, planted her palms on his chest. To ward him off, aye?
We were so damn good together,” he whispered before his teeth grazed her earlobe. “We could be again.”
Her breasts tingled, yearned for the touch of his hands, his lips, his tongue. Oh, what this man could do with his mouth! She inhaled an unsteady breath.
She shook her head. “No,” she said with absolutely no conviction.
Come on, Meg.” His hand drifted up her side, under the curve of her breast. “Let me have my way with you again.”
No.” Did that come out firmer this time? “I don’t want to.”
You do.”
Her head shot up. “Calling me a liar, are you?”
Yes. I can see it in your eyes, in the way your body responds to me.” He pressed his thigh further against her, teasing her while he swiped his thumb over her clothed nipple. “Stop fighting me.”
Bugger. Her whole body shivered. “I said no, Quinn.” She slapped her palms against his chest and shoved. Of course he didn’t move.
“‘Ere. I’ll thank you to take your hands off me sister.” Jamie’s hardened voice held a thinly veiled threat.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Surprise Saturday!

Guess what I got! A NEW CONTRACT! Whoohooo! It's another contemporary Scottish romance, set in the fictional version of my happy place! Silent Surrender is the story with the Irish hero and it will be part of Decadent Publishing's new Tease series. If you've read Her Highland Champion, you'll be familiar with some of the characters in this new story. This is how I'm celebrating:



And while I'm celebrating, here's the really, really unofficial blurb for Silent Surrender:

For the last eight months, Meggie MacDougall has dreamt about the sexy Irish football coach who swept her off her feet during her Dublin vacation. But what happened in Dublin must stay there. She has responsibilities at home and has no intention of fueling the gossip fires in Glenhalish. But the sparks fly when Quinn O’Connell arrives in her Highland village claiming he needs to see her just one more time.

And The Winner Is.....

Thank you to everyone who commented and celebrated my 1 year anniversary for Her Highland Champion! After checking all the comments here, the comments on the Decadent Publishing blog and my Followers list, the winner is.....
 
BRENNA ASH!
 
Congratulations, Brenna! You'll be receiving a signed copy of my book, Through the Eyes of Darkness! Please send me an email at alexa @ alexabourne . com (without the spaces, of course!) and we'll make plans to get your prize to you!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Way Back Wednesday!

Welcome to this week's edition of Way Back Wednesday! Today I have a special treat for you! Read on to find out more.....

Happy Anniversary!
It is one year ago that my very first book, Her Highland Champion, hit the cyber shelves! Happy Anniversary to me, Malcolm and Heather!!!

It's been an amazing year, with a lot of twists and turns. Since that first book, I've seen 2 more novellas come out, a print version with all 3 and I've signed another contract with Decadent Publishing for their new Tease line. At the moment, I also have ANOTHER submission in with Decadent, a full-length romantic suspense submission with two other epublishers, and I'm working on a brand new Honor Guard story.

I haven't reread Her Highland Champion since it came out, but I'm thinking I might. I still love that story for so many reasons. It was my first published book, of course, but it was also my very first suspense story. It is set in my favorite place in all the world, a fictional version of Glenfinnan, Scotland. It has some wonderful characters who have lived inside my head for over 14 years. It began my International Protective Network series of stories and some of the secondary characters have found their way into other short stories Decadent Publishing and I will be bringing you later this year.

What's next?
In the next year, I hope to sell more copies of this heart-warming contemporary Scottish romantic suspense. I hope to work more on my International Protective Network, to discover more aspects of the exciting fictional business. I've got several more employees to write about, with more sexy heroes, feisty heroines and intriguing international settings. And of course, there will be suspense!

How about a contest?
To celebrate my one year anniversary as an officially published author, I'll be giving away a signed copy of my print book, Through the Eyes of Darkness. Her Highland Champion is in there along with my other 2 ebooks from 2012. Plus, I'll throw in some other UK treats!

How do you win?
There are THREE ways you can be in the running for this prize!

1: Leave a comment here. (To help you with a comment idea here, tell us one thing you've accomplished over the last year.)
2: Leave a comment on the Daily Dose of Decadence Blog on Friday, where I'll be blogging about my next adventure with Decadent Publishing.
3: Become a follower of this blog. (If you're already a follower, you're already in the running!)

The winner will be chosen after midnight on Friday and announced on Saturday!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Talent Tuesday!

Welcome back for another edition of Talent Tuesday! Today I have the fabulous Starla Kaye here sharing one of her other talents besides writing. Take it away, Starla!
 
My Journey in Making Memory Quilts
I started quilting several years ago along with my sister, taking basic lessons in quilt making. But I knew right away that making those big, beautiful full-sized quilts was not for me. I don’t have that kind of patience. I like doing things that take a much smaller amount of time.
My first memory quilts was designed from a photo I had taken on a trip to Blarney Castle in Ireland with my daughter. It shows the basic elements from the photo and I included a copy of our admittance ticket for that day. I enjoyed making this quilt, but it was a real learning experience about what things Not To Do the next time.
 
After more quilting lessons and more practice, I designed a quilt involving one of the favorite little restaurants in Carmel, CA that my daughter and I like: Tuck Box.
 
Then one day recently I found this neat two-dimensional ceramic picture my sister had of a small English village. I had to quilt it! I’ve visited several small villages in the UK that reminded me of this picture and wanted to add this to my memory quilt collection. I’m not sure you will be able to see it, but there is a dragon behind the houses by the castle tower. That was my brother-in-law’s teasing suggestion and I jumped on the idea because it seemed like fun. My sister thought I needed to add the swan to the river in front.
 
One of my more unique quilts that goes along with my writing is what I call my Western Romance Covers Quilt. It highlights 12 of my book covers, which is only about half of my Western romance books. It turned out really nice and I will use it at book signings and to hang in my office.
 
Making these small quilts goes right along with writing. I see both creative efforts as outlets for my over-active imagination. They are both about basically creating a puzzle and figuring out how to put it together.
 
Author: Starla Kaye
 
 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Section Sunday!

Welcome back to another edition of Section Sunday!
 
Today's section is from my curent work-in-progress. It's a full length romantic suspense, which means it's over 250 pages. I actually wrote the rough draft back in the summer of 2011 and only now have I worked out the time to play around with it. I'm already in love with the hero, Cole. The heroine, Amanda, is growing on me too. Hope you like this first peek!
 
Amanda Williams' ankle throbbed, her head pounded and she desperately needed a cookie.
For every mound of snow she shifted to one side of the driveway, it was as if three more fell back onto her path. But if she had any chance of getting out of this ridiculous town, she had to keep shoveling.
She blew her bangs out of her eyes, flexed her frigid fingers around the shovel handle and pushed the metal into another pile. Last night’s storm had dropped a foot of snow over the car and every other surface. Thankfully bright sunshine glanced off the pristine snow this morning. The scent of burning logs from somewhere close by mingled with the crisp, clean smell of the pine trees separating her rented home from the only neighbor for miles. Okay, so this place wasn't so bad...for someone else.
She couldn't stay here. She didn't feel safe.
She’d escaped to this remote part of New Hampshire to avoid the coming holidays and all the festivities that went with it. Amanda had no reason to celebrate Christmas and she definitely didn’t care that a new year was right around the corner. All she wanted was to run away.
Run. Right. Like that would ever happen again. A madman had taken that chance away with a three-inch blade six months ago.
She blew out a deep breath and went back to shoveling even with the chill running ragged over her spine. 
A slow creaking noise seeped into the air.
Amanda gasped and jerked upright, but quickly gritted her teeth. It wasn't Corling. He was serving a hefty sentence in jail for trying to kill her. No, the noise belonged to her neighbor’s front door. 
“Morning,” the man said as he walked toward her. He stood well over six feet tall with broad shoulders. His dark blond hair fell too long below his ears and he had a beard. Snow crunched under his construction worker boots. The thick, brown winter coat he wore created sparks of jealousy rumbling through her cold body.
“Who are you?” Her fingers flexed around the shovel handle.
“Cole Alexander.” He held out his hand. “Your neighbor.”
“Not for long.” She ignored his hand and braced the shovel between them, as if that alone could protect her. He didn't wear a hat, but in every other aspect he reminded her of Paul Bunyan.
He dropped his hand and squinted against the sun behind her. A hint of annoyance flashed across his handsome features. “Contrary to popular belief I am one of the good guys.”
She narrowed her gaze at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
He shook his head. “Nothing. So, you’re renting that cabin?”
“That was the plan.” She glanced toward her supposed sanctuary. 
“You really should wear gloves to work out here.” 
“I hadn’t planned on shoveling.” The snow that dropped through the night had been an unwelcome surprise when she woke up.
“If you need something in town I’d be happy to pick it up. Or you can come with me.” 
Granted everyone she'd run into in this town had been very kind so far, but she wasn't about to get into a vehicle with a strange man. Especially not one who looked as tough as he did. “I don't think so.”
“Are you sure?” He tossed his thumb over his shoulder. “I’m heading out there now.”
“Thank you, but I’m not shoveling to get to town. I’m trying to get out of here.”
“So soon?”
“I was promised this place would be out of the way.”
“It is. Town’s three miles away.”
“I was also told I’d be alone.”
“Well, I’m not living with you. I’m only next door and our cabins are fifteen yards apart.”
“Not good enough.” She shoved the shovel into another random mound of snow. “Look, it’s nothing personal.”
“Of course it’s not.”
“I just...” She stared out across the woods. “This wasn't what I had in mind when I came up here, that's all.”

Friday, March 22, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday!

Welcome to Non-Fiction Friday!
 
Yesterday my day job had an activity for the staff, a chance for us to get together outside of work and hang out. I was excited because this was the first event I would be attending as an employee. I was not disappointed. 
 
We went to this place called Cafe Monet, a place where we could choose items to paint while we were there. I was excited for this for a few reasons. I was happy to get to know some of my coworkers a bit more. Believe it or not, I'm still struggling matching names and faces even though I've been there almost 3 months now. I also loved it because I got to pretend I had talent with a paintbrush.
 
After about ten minutes walking along the shelves with various artifacts to paint, I chose a tile to paint and design, something special for myself and my writing life. Then I gathered my paints and took a seat at the table with 3 (and later 4) other people. We laughed, we talked, we whined about our projects (and started over a few times!). It was a great, inexpensive treat!  
 
Once I was satisfied with my designed tile, I paid for it and left it for the studio to glaze/fire. It'll be ready Tuesday! (I'll be sure to take a picture and show you!) It may not be pretty to other people and they may ask, "What is that supposed to be?" with the few objects I tried to draw in paint, but I'm happy with it. I think because I didn't have many expectations is why I had so much fun with it!  
 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Way Back Wednesday!

Welcome to this week's edition of Way Back Wednesday!
 
I've been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I didn't always dream of being a published writer, but I did always find satisfaction in the writing process, unveiling plots and learning how characters dealt with adversity.
 
But it wasn't my stories that made a splash in my college years.
 
My best friend was the one who kept suggesting I work toward publication. She believed in me enough to keep at me, keep me working on stories and getting better. But when I was a senior in college, she was the one writing the stories.
 
One story in particular had me as the main character and I was a star singer (because that's what I really wanted to be) and writer. She'd write a chapter at a time and then send it to me at school. The dorm floor I was on had a few of my long-time friends and a few new friends who'd just started school that year. When I received a chapter in the mail, I'd read it and then share it with "the girls". Soon, my friend started adding my dorm friends into the story, and everyone waited eagerly for the next chapter. It got to a point where when I received the next chapter in the mail, I would let everyone know on the dorm floor and we'd make plans for them to all come down to my room. There, we'd all sit- on the floor, on the bed, in the chair, in the beanbag- and we'd enjoy the latest chapter of the story. They liked being included, I loved seeing their excitement.
 
I think this was one of the events that truly did steer me in the direction of working toward publication. I could see how excited the "readers" got with each new chapter. I could see their enthusiasm as they'd stop me on campus or in the halls and ask, "Did you get the new chapter yet?" I enjoyed watching their reactions to the events in the story. I can't say I really knew for sure I wanted to write, but these activities definitely had an impact. They brought me closer to my friends and helped shape my future.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Talent Tuesday!

Welcome back for another installment of Talent Tuesday! This week I'm bringing you BJ Scott!

I want to thank you for having me on your blog today.
You're so welcome, Barb! Thank YOU for volunteering to share your talents with us!
My name is Barb Babbage and I write under the name B.J. Scott. I am an author of Historical romance, set in medieval Scotland. My first book, Highland Legacy is an Amazon Best Seller in historical romance and a contest finalist. It is available in print and e-book. My second book Highland Quest was released in Dec. 2012 and is available in e-book format. The third book, Highland Homecoming is slated for release in the summer of 2013. While my first love is historical romance, I also dabble in romantic suspense, time travel and paranormal romance. you can get my books at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0065KX8P8 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AQKYPU0

When I am not busy working as a child care provider for children with special needs or writing, I enjoy a variety of hand crafts. I have had a small business for ten years, making heat pressed items, mugs, travel mugs, clocks, key chains, coasters, and a variety of other items with custom pictures, logos and designs. I have recently started doing wood framed ceramic tiles with book covers. These can can display at a book signing or just hung on a wall and enjoyed.

I want to thank Alexa for having me on her blog today.

Over the last few years, bling has become very popular. So why not for your books? My beaded book thongs are made using quality glass beads, Tibetan silver charms and leather cording. Each is hand made and no two are exactly alike. I make beaded key bobs with charms as well. You can select from Celtic symbols charms, fairies, hearts, dragon flies, butterflies,, four leaf clovers and crosses Done in a variety of colors and themes, these are sure to please any avid reader. The regular price is $12 per book thong plus shipping. Right now they are $8 plus $2 shipping per thong. These make wonderful gifts, prizes or are nice for your own personal use. Shipping applies to addresses in Canada and the US. I will ship to international addresses but there will be an additional cost for shipping. That will depend on where it is going.

 The ceramic tiles are 6x8 inches and are framed in wood. Regular price of these is $25 plus shipping. They are available for a limited time at a price of $15 plus shipping cost of approx. $10.

For an idea of other items I make visit www.krittersncrafts.com. You will find the items all have dogs on them but you can have any picture you like put on the items of your choice. Email me for details and pricing info@krittersnkrafts.com and mention this blog post.

Thanks for stopping by today and if you are interested in ordering anything please contact me for details.


B J Scott

HIGHLAND LEGACY, FINALIST 2012 OKLAHOMA RWA INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL AWARDS/LONG HISTORICAL ROMANCE. Amazon Best Seller for historical romance.

HIGHLAND QUEST, book 2 in my series is now available in e-book

HIGHLAND HOMECOMING: coming in the summer of 2013.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Section Sunday!


Good morning! Happy St. Patrick's Day! While I'm out celebrating my heritage, I'm sharing with you another part of my recently submitted story, Silent Surrender. This is the story with the Irish football coach who has come to the Scottish Highlands because he can't get the heroine, Meggie, out of his mind after their amazing weekend. In this snippet, Quinn is sitting at the bar and Meggie is working as the lead bartender. In honor of the holiday and Quinn, I give you Silent Surrender:

When the games began to finish and the crowds fell away, Ewan left her in charge and went home for the night in the arms of his on-again-off-again girlfriend. Meggie needed to do another round of dishwashing. She'd put off working around Quinn long enough.
You’re still here?” She gathered the empty glasses and dirty napkins left from his entourage. “No signatures to give out or lasses’ numbers to collect?”

None.” He took the last swig of his drink and set the empty glass in front of her. “I’ll have another.”
Only a few lads still sat watching the last of the night’s games.
So tell me,” she began while refilling his glass. “You’re on holiday. Is this all you intend to do? Sit in the pub, watch football matches, and drink?”
I’m only waiting to hear from my lovely lass when our date will be.”
I’m not your lass and are you familiar with the phrase when hell freezes over?”
Oh, but you already agreed.”
Aye, but that was to get you to stop holding me hand.” She pulled another rag out of a bucket by her feet, grabbed a small tray and walked toward the far side of the bar, the area with the pool tables and several empty glasses and dull bar lights. No doubt he would be watching her. Hopefully her knees would keep solid.
Margaret MacDougall, I thought you a better person than that.” He took a sip of his drink and sauntered over toward her. “You, trying to get out of our deal. I’ll not take no for an answer. Come on. You said yourself we had a good time together. I’m only asking for a few more good times with you.”
She tossed the dishrag onto the tray and pressed her free hand to her hip. “I’ll not go to bed with you again.”
I’m not asking you to. I enjoy your company out of bed too, you crazy woman.”
What was she thinking even considering this? In only a few hours, with a load of people surrounding them, he’d broken down her wall of defiance. What would he be able to do to her resolve when it was just the two of them? She moved to the corner table.
Meg, it’s one more long weekend, a few more days to share stories. A chance for you to play tour guide in your hometown.” He crowded close to her, trapping her between the wall, the table and him. “Do you not remember our site-seeing in Dublin? Temple Bar, Jameson Distillery, the Guinness Storehouse. We even met up with your friends and took that River Liffey tour.” His fingers drifted up to her cheek and brushed against her skin.
The tray wobbled in her hands, clinking the glasses together. She set it on the table before she dropped it. “Yes, I do remember that.” Don’t look up. “It was grand.” Don’t react. No doubt, people would be watching. His hand slinked in to cup the back of her neck, his fingers rubbing her skin and igniting shivers down her spine. “But...”
His eyes twinkled and a sexy smile tugged at those luscious lips. Memories of that mouth caressing her skin, taunting her into wild, frantic orgasms, even now made her weep with need.
Damn, her knees quivered. Yes, she wanted him, wanted this, but she could not be this irresponsible.

Quinn slid his knee between her legs, tipped her head up. “Shhhh. No buts.” His mouth covered hers, warm, strong and oh so demanding. She dropped one hand on his arm and pressed the other along his chest. She’d meant to push him back, but the feel of his abs through his shirt joined with the pressure of his knee against her intimate places to stir her desires. In her ears, her heartbeat steadily rose. His tongue pushed against her lips, gentle but insistent.
Like a starving lass, she surrendered to him and welcomed him into her mouth. Swift and in control, he swirled his tongue around hers, along the roof of her mouth, and ended the sweet torture with a quick taunt of his tongue’s tip against hers.
Too soon, he pulled back, leaving her body trembling for more. “Tomorrow. I’ll come for you here at four.” His hand moved back to her cheek, to a sweet sweep of her jaw line with his thumb, and then he released her completely. “Goodnight, Meg.”
As he turned and walked toward the pub door, her traitorous body begged for more time with him. The question was, could her brain convince the rest of her how dangerous this could be?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lucky In Love Blog Hop!


Lucky in Love? Well, are you? It's a time of luck and wealth...or not. With each romance we find ourselves in a new world of love and memories. Are these just by chance? Is it luck? Welcome to your second annual Lucky in Love Blog Hop where we want to hear about your love, your romance, and how much you love St. Patrick's Day!!! Are you wearing green? Ready to get pinched...or wait...do you like that?

Almost 300 bloggers have giveaways and posts about those men we love!
But that's not all....

We have TWO grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 200 times!

Now what are those prizes?

1st Grand Prize: A $100 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
2nd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!
 
And now a word from me.....

Welcome to the Lucky in Love Blog Hop! I'm so excited to be a part of this. Why? Because St. Patrick's Day is my 2nd favorite holiday (2nd to Christmas). Now yes, I like a good drink just as much as the next girl, but that's not why I love St. Patrick's Day. In the family background (on my English grandfather's side) we have Irish in us. I love celebrating my heritage and I also love celebrating all things Irish. I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland in 2007 and it was such an amazing experience. I'd had some trouble getting there (delayed plane, rerouted plane) and I arrived in Dublin exhausted & about 8 hours late. But, when I managed to get through the airport and outside, I remember I raised my gaze to the blue sky with the few wispy white clouds, smiled and sighed. The trip was perfect, with beautiful scenery and such wonderfully kind people, too!

I think part of my excitement brewed in my head over the previous few years. Some of my favorite characters are Irish. I'm a huge fan of these movies and characters: Circle of Friends with Chris O'Donnell and Minnie Driver, PS I Love You with Gerard Butler, Jason O'Mara as Fergal on Monarch of the Glen, and Leap Year. (Oh! I also loved the Irishman in Braveheart. He was awesome!) I could fall in love with ANY of these Irishmen...except the guy in Braveheart. He was just interesting!

But my favorite Irish character? Quinn O'Connell in my latest submission, Silent Surrender. I tried to make him Scottish, like most of my heroes so far in my published books, but Quinn wouldn't have it. He charmed his way into my head and onto my manuscript and demanded I make him an Irishman. Here's a snippet of that story:
 
Quinn, what a nice surprise.” Meggie flashed him something that posed as a smile and then she began unloading the dishwasher. “What brings you here?”
He wanted to jump across the bar, pull her into his arms and demand how she couldn’t know. He settled for the carefree answer. “Work.”
Glenhalish doesn’t have a football team.”
I know, but we’ve got some time off before our next match so I thought I’d take a trip up here to see the sites.” Or rather, one beautiful, sexy, amazing site.
Slowly, she raised her head. With what looked like a death-grip on an empty pint glass, she asked, “Why are you really here? What do you want?”
Such a loaded question. She asked as a bartender. He’d answer the woman. Slowly he glanced to each side of him, stepped up and leaned over the countertop. With his mouth so close to her ear, she gasped but didn’t move.
    “What do I want? You. Anywhere I can have you. Any way I can have you.”

Writing Quinn has also made me hungry for more Irish characters and, eventually, Irish set stories too. I look forward to bringing them to you later this year!

Okay, I need to get back to work so I can take Sunday, March 17th off completely. I intend to be celebrating with friends somewhere. If you celebrate, be safe!

Remember to leave comments for a chance to be in the running for the awesome prizes mentioned above! AND, if you leave a comment I will also choose a lucky winner to receive an Irish prize from me at the end of the Blog Hop! (Winners can be international except for the 2nd Grand Prize.)

Here's something to help you with commenting: Do you like Irish stories? If so, who is your favorite Irish character?

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Way Back Wednesday!

Welcome to another edition of Way Back Wednesday!

Today's story is about the very first writing contest I entered. I had been working like crazy on a 400-page romantic suspense novel set in modern-day Scotland. I'd slaved away at it, learning my craft and making changes as I learned more. In 2002 I decided to enter a writing contest to get some idea of how I was doing. The writer friends I had were doing that, so it felt like the right time for me too.

So I entered the Wisconsin Fab Five Contest. I was soooooooo excited and couldn't wait to hear what the judges had to say about my romantic suspense with two heroes and a heroine who wasn't sure who she wanted.

(Yep, you read that right. I was good at writing about suspense, but the romance aspects of my work still needed A LOT of work!)

Naturally, I didn't win, or even final, with that story. No surprise. But I was so excited to read the comments from the judges. I was ready to take another step in my education as a writer. When I opened the other papers in with my returned (and critiqued) stories, you know what I found? A letter that told me exactly where I placed in the contest. Guess where my 2-hero story and I were. We were 2 or 3 places FROM THE BOTTOM of the romantic suspense line. My first thought? At least I wasn't the worst writer in the group! My second thought? I'd rewrite that story when I was a better writer because there was so much good in it. (No, really! Even the judges pointed some positive stuff out!)

After a good 24 hours eating chocolate and complaining to any writer friends who would listen, I made a decision. I was going to be professional. The judges had been constructive critics. I had only one place to go- up. I would study the judges' comments, do more research and try again with a new story.

That new story unfolded throughout the next year and when it came time for the Wisconsin Fab Five Contest again in 2003, I decided to enter the new story just to see if I was on the right track. Guess what happened!

I WON THE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE CATEGORY!

That win did so much for me. I had more confidence in my writing, I knew I'd eventually get published if I stuck with it. Also, the editor who chose my story as #1 worked with me over the next 2 years and gave me so much guidance. (I ended up sending her a couple of manuscripts and she kept helping me see what wasn't working.)

It was after that 2003 win that I decided to make writing my 2nd career. I became much more professional in the way I wrote and spoke of writing. I was excited to get better every chance I had, and I kept taking the advice that helped me get to my first contract in 2011.

Oh, and my first contract? It had the heroine and ONE of the heroes from the original story along with many of those other ideas. (Her Highland Champion, if you want to know which book it became!) 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Talent Tuesday!

Welcome to Talent Tuesday! This is the day that I will be introducing you to someone else and his or her talent. It might be writing or it might be something else.

Today, I am honored to present to you a friend of mine I don't get to see nearly enough. Take it away, Brenda Sanders!

Hi there, everyone! My name is Brenda Sanders, but back when I was writing it was Brenda Bradshaw. I originally met Alexa at my first Romance Writers of America conference when it was in Dallas back in like -- '04, maybe? I picked her up in a bar. Seriously. I went to the conference not knowing a soul, and this chick came up to the bar where I was sitting to order a drink. I said: "Are you a writer?" and bam! She hasn't been able to get rid of me since.
 

I do so love writing, but the market changed drastically during that time and ePub took off, and in doing so, it flooded the market, and I decided that it wasn't something I'd be interested in. Thank goodness Alexa dug her heels in and kept on going -- look at her now! I used to see her pretty often at our monthly meetings (I drove about an hour and a half each way once a month) and now I miss her -- but thank goodness for technology! Now I get to read about her writing adventures all the time, from exciting news on a new release to her writing marathons she sets for herself on a weeknight.








 
So, about me, I guess. I'm 43 and live in Texas, in this little town called Cameron. It's in the middle -- of nothing. An hour from Austin, an hour from Waco, and an hour from Bryan/College Station. Centrally located, yes. Convenient, ha! But I love this little town nonetheless. I lead Girl Scouts -- the bigger girls -- junior high through high school. I have four kids although two of them are grown now and only two remain at home. Five dogs and a husband. Whew! I also have Fibromyalsia and recently diagnosed with Lupus about this time last year. Last month I was told I had osteoarthritis (degenerative bone disorder) in my right hip -- at the ripe old age of 43. And they won't even consider a hip replacement until I'm 50 -- in seven years. So... I found something I can do to help supplement my disability: I own Tarnished Texan. I make clothes, vintage-inspired aprons, household stuff. I also crochet: afghans, hats/scarves and very unique baby afghans. I pride myself on taking vintage styles but changing them up, whether it's with fresh color choices or added accents, something to make it very much one of a kind. I did have an Etsy shop, but it's currently being revamped. It's only been in the last couple of months where I've realized I wanted to take Tarnished Texan, so I'm floundering around here at ground level with the grunt work and getting that into place so here soon, I can not only fly, but soar.

My newest adventure is with Origami Owl jewelry. When you live in constant and unrelenting pain, it's really easy to get mired down in depression, and last year I started this task, this challenge for myself and others who may want to join, to find the positive in every day life. To BE the change. To LIVE the difference. Then I was introduced to this jewelry, and it really reiterated all those positive messages I wanted to embrace. And not only that, but each piece is truly one of a kind, so it fit in perfectly with the direction I wanted to take Tarnished Texan.

I'm including a few photos. Examples of the afghans, the ponchos, and aprons, as well as a couple examples of Origami Owl jewelry. I'm very easy to find: Just go onto Facebook and look for Tarnished Texan -- that's me! I do have a website (www.tarnishedtexan.com) but it's still in start-up mode. The thing I love about Facebook is that people can follow that page without having to "friend" me, and as soon as I finish a new project, it's on there before anywhere else. So that's the best way to find me and what I'm doing. To see what's going on with the jewelry, simply log onto tarnishedtexan.origamiowl.com and build yourself whatever necklace you want with the charms, tags, dangles and lockets. And should you need to email me, I'd love to hear from you: tarnishedtexan@gmail.com

I hope you have a great day, and thanks for coming by. A special thanks to Alexa for featuring me as her first on Talent Tuesday. I just love that girl! Ya know what I recommend? Buying one of my afghans, buying one of Alexa's books, and curling up in a comfy chair and getting lost, even for a little while...

Thanks again!
Brenda Sanders
Tarnished Texan

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Did It!

Sound the alarm! Release the balloons! About 12:30 this morning I hit "SEND" and submitted my latest short story, Silent Surrender! To celebrate, I had a cup of tea and then went to bed.

This morning, I woke up and found an AWESOME review for Fractured Paradise, my story that takes place in Sunderland, England. Here's a bit of what they said:

Title: Fractured Paradise (Honor Guard Series)
Reviewed By: Raven

Fractured Paradise by Alexa Bourne is a heartwarming, nail biting Romantic Suspense. A story that will drag you in, make you wait breathlessly for the next chapter and leave you feeling good inside....

This was a splendid little short story, full of intrigue, sour locals hating on the interloper of a foreigner and a love that took both characters by surprise. It’s a smart little read that will have you hurrying on to the next chapter and gobbling it up.

Isn't that great? If you want to read the whole review, check it out here.

As for me, today I'm reading and I'll be starting my next Honor Guard story too. I'm writing the whole rough draft of this story, which takes place in Mexico, in the next week. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Section Sunday!

Welcome back for another installment of Section Sunday!

This weekend I'm bringing you another snippet from my Scottish contemporary romance, Silent Surrender. I LOVE this story and hope you will too. Today I'm editing the manuscript and then submitting it to my publisher, Decadent Publishing. (Hopefully they'll love it too!)

Here's the background you need to fully appreciate this scene. Meggie went to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day with her friend and ended up meeting Quinn. She and he had an amazing fling over the few days she was there, and she intended to leave what happened in Dublin, in Dublin. But on the day of this scene, Quinn has arrived in her Scottish Highland village.

Be sure to let me know what you think! Enjoy Meggie and Quinn's reunion!


    Meggie dished out drinks to the patrons of her family's pub, Cuan MacDougall. Fueled with confidence, she waited for Quinn to walk through the door. He would at some point. Their pub was a highpoint in the village. They offered drinks and football matches on five screens.

Her plan was simple. She'd be casual, respectful, but that was it. She'd not encourage him. And who was to say he'd come for her? Maybe he was here for something else and he didn't even remember her.

A niggling pain twinged behind her temples. Och, that would be even worse since she hadn't been able to get him out of her mind in the last eight months.

She poured another drink for a waiting patron. “I'll just go about my business, do me job and not worry about it,” she whispered.

Meg, you're talking to yourself again.” Ewan retrieved two bottled beers from the cooler next to her. Leave it to her brother to point out her failings.

Aye, and if you don't mind I'd like to finish the conversation.”

The bell on the pub door jingled and a blast of cold air whooshed through the room.

Hiya,” Ewan greeted the new visitor.

Busy place you've got here.”

Meggie's veins strung tight as a bow at the sound of the Irish accent. Her heart rate tripped. Her hands stilled. Be calm. With a casual lift of her head, she caught his eyes as he slid onto the stool directly in front of her. His scent wrapped around her and ignited shivers through her spine. Already, and he hadn't even said anything directly to her yet.

Without looking at him, she delivered the beer to the patron two stools down and returned to him. Just a few more seconds, then she'd gather her nerves and meet his gaze for more than a few seconds. But the extra time did nothing. When she stood in front of him, all her breath whooshed out of her mouth. His dark green eyes sparkled and that sexy grin shoved her right back into that hotel bed they shared oh so many months ago. After swallowing the lump in her throat, she managed a poor excuse for a greeting. “Hiya.”

Och, ignoring him? Staying casual? It would not be as easy as she'd thought.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Update!

Hi, hi! It's only been a few days, but I'm already excited about the blog changes I've got going on. I've got a few people signed up for Talent Tuesdays and I'm looking forward to bringing you another section of my WIP tomorrow!

Now, for the news......

In January, I submitted a partial of 1 of my full-length stories to an epublisher with a good reputation. I sent it to the "slush pile".

This past Thursday, I stumbled upon a twitter pitching party for an epublisher new to me and, on a whim, decided to pitch 1 of my full-length stories.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to find a request for the partial of my story from a senior editor directly from that twitter pitching party.

Last night, I received a request from the epublisher I contacted in January. They thought my query was intriguing and they've requested the full manuscript.

Today, I'm pushing myself to finish up the short story, Silent Surrender, I've been trying to submit to Decadent Publishing for going on 3 months. I'm sooooooo close! I've got 13 pages of revisions, a final edit round, a final read through and then I'll be able to hit submit!

Once I submit that story, I'll be switching gears to write the rough draft of my next Honor Guard story for Decadent Publishing while I'm "technically" on spring break.

Okay, that's it for now! Have a good weekend. Check in tomorrow to read my "Section Sunday" post and then come back Monday to find out how I made out with my submission!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Non-Fiction Friday!

Welcome to Non-Fiction Friday!
 
No, I'm not talking about a non-fiction book, although I might in later weeks! No, today (and every Friday) I'm sharing something about my real world. And so.....

Here's the backstory:
Many of you know that I've had a rocky couple of years. For those of you who don't know (or don't remember), I quit my teaching job in June 2010 because it was sucking the life out of me. I left without another job to go to except for substitute teaching. I struggled quite a bit, but I've learned A LOT in the time since. In the end, I think I still would've quit but I would've planned better.

Fast-forward almost 3 years and here we are. In January of this year I started a new full-time job as a writing tutor for a charter school. I'm an hourly employee with benefits and a decent paycheck. I get to leave work at work and spend the time outside doing what I love- working on my writing career.

My Non-Fiction Friday post is actually this:
It's amazing how much my confidence level has increased since I now have the same place to go every morning. I'm making new friends at my job, and I'm LOVING working with the kids to help them become better writers. I'm finding myself smiling and comfortable most days. My day job has done that for me and I figured it would, but I'd forgotten how good it could feel to belong to one "community" and to make a difference. It's amazing to be...needed, respected and treated like the intelligent person I am.

Because I have these feelings with the day job, I then take those same feelings to my part-time job as well. Then I also bring them home to work on my books or promo or the online class I'm teaching. It's a pleasant cycle and I never want it to stop. I could and WANT TO get used to these feelings because I deserve them.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Way Back Wednesday!

Welcome to Way Back Wednesday! This is the day of the week where I share a story form my past that's related to writing. Every Wednesday I'll be sharing something so make plans to come back! This week's story features Kathleen Givens:
 

The first time I met Kathleen Givens was at the Dreamin' in Dallas Conference many years ago. I was mostly reading Scottish historicals at the time, had read a few of hers and LOVED them all. I was also writing my own Scottish contemporary suspense (my very first suspense, which became part of my first book, Her Highland Champion). At the time of the conference, she was my favorite author and I was still pretty new to the writing world.
 
She laughed when I bowed down to her and told her I loved her writing. We chatted then and each time we ran into each other for the rest of the conference. It was the first time I really understood that famous authors were still people too.
After the conference, I continued to read her books. I also promoted her and her work as much as I could as I continued to learn more about the industry and what I wanted my part in it to be.
 
Sadly, Kathleen passed away rather suddenly in 2010. I'm sure her family and friends still miss her. I know I do, but I will always be thankful for her kindness to one giggly fan with wide eyes and a dream to follow in her footsteps.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Saving The Blog!


Hello, hello! I realize I haven't been blogging much over the last few weeks and I want to talk to you about that. I always wondered why writer friends stopped blogging or blogged less once they were published. I think I've finally figured out why. There is too much to do!
 
So, I started thinking about ditching my blog. I mean, I'm already part of 2 other blogs. No one would blame me, right? But then I got to thinking about why I started blogging. It became like a virtual journal for me. Even when hardly anyone read it, I still blogged because it felt good to me and helped me deal with events in my writing (or non- writing) life.

Then I thought about trying to pull someone else in to this blog, to take away part of the pressure to keep up writing. But I really don't think I want to share. (I'm selfish that way. :P)

SO.... I came up with some new ideas:

Beginning tomorrow, I will have 3 or 4 definite posts each week. You'll be able to count on those.

Section Sunday-- This will be a snippet of my current WIP or a new book I have coming out. It'll take the place of my participation in Six Sentence Sunday.

Talent Tuesday-- This may not happen every Tuesday, but I'll definitely do it once in a while. It will be where I spotlight someone else with a talent. (If any of you reading this are interested in being spotlighted for any type of talent, send me an email and I'll get you signed up! alexa@alexabourne.com)

Way-Back Wednesday-- On this day I'll share a story of me meeting writers or going to conferences or writing as a kid. The idea is that it has to be in my past and it should relate to my writing life.

Non-Fiction Friday-- This day I'll give you information about my real world, something that's happening that influences my writing.

Then the other days I can add more blog posts if I have something else to share (like a new contract, a new cover, a new class, or a new “You Know You're a Suspense Writer When....”). Or I can leave those days blank if I don't. But at least we all know there will be something posted a few days a week. I may stick to these ideas or revise them. I'll just see how it works. What do you think?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Kid in a Candy Shop

Find out how I reacted when I got my hands on my very first print book! Read all about it here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Section Sunday

Hello! Welcome to "Section Sunday"! Each Sunday I will post a section of one of my works for you to read and comment on (if you choose).

Today's "Section" is part of my current Work-In-Progress, Silent Surrender. This is a short story romance set in the Highlands of Scotland (modern day). The heroine is a secondary character from my very first book, Her Highland Champion, and the hero is a football coach originally from just outside of Dublin, Ireland. I'm hoping to submit this to my publisher within the next couple of days.

As this section opens, they are playing football with a few kids on the school field. Of course, Meggie and Quinn are on opposite teams, which makes it even more fun! Be sure to let me know what you think! (And please remember this is still part of a rough draft, so don't be too hard on me!)

He closed the distance between them. Meggie pushed against his rock-hard abs and tangled with his feet. He tugged on her ponytail, slid his foot between hers and sent the ball to his teammates.
Meggie yelped. Her arms flailed to her sides. Her feet remained tangled with Quinn's and she lost her balance.
Quinn circled her waist and twisted her so his body took the brunt of the impact with the dirt-packed earth. She rolled to the side, still cradled in the crook of his arm and with the pressure of his delicious body over every inch of hers. “Are you all right?” He propped himself up and brushed her hair away from her face.
“Aye. Thank you for taking the fall for us.”
“You're down here with me, aren't you?”
“But you protected me. Thank you, my Irish knight.”
“My pleasure, my lady.”
Yes, she was his lady and she decided she rather liked it.
He leaned down and claimed her mouth.
“Is she hurt?” one of the lads yelled. The ground trembled beneath their feet.
“Aye, ye daft fool. He's giving her mouth-to-mouth,” yelled another.