Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Height of Passion is here!

Without further ado, here's a sneak peek at my latest Johns Creek book, Height of Passion!

“Easy, Charlie. Nice and easy,” Charlotte mumbled to herself while carefully holding her brake hand down parallel to her body and rappelling down the rock face. “Slow and steady gets to the bottom of the mountain alive.”
On a steep climb, concentration and finesse were key; one slip and she’d be done for.  She slowly let out some slack in her lines and lowered herself the last fifteen feet to the dense forest floor.  She smiled as she touched down and unhooked herself from first her harness, then her helmet. Shaking her head to clear her warm brown hair from her eyes, she looked around her in deep satisfaction.
It was a beautiful day for a hike and climb. The sun was bright and hot as it poked its face out from behind fluffy white clouds, promising a gorgeous day amid the oaks, maples, birches and pines in the wilderness of Johns Creek, New York.  A mild wind cooled her warm flesh, setting off goose-bumps as it dried the sweat on her skin.
The outdoors had always captivated Charlotte Hastings. There was such freedom to be found here, deep in the Adirondack Mountains, with only the birds, bees and the occasional bear or bobcat to keep her company.  Conspicuously absent was noise from the big cities; there were no horns honking and music blasting, no people yelling or machinery whirring. There was only the babbling of a nearby brook and the call of the songbirds that flew gracefully overhead. The pervasive smell of city smog was absent here; instead, the air smelled of phlox, wild roses and mountain laurel. The fragrant wind blew gently through the trees, making a rustling sound as it kissed the leaves. Sunlight shone down through each break in the foliage, making the entire forest floor glow with golden beams of light.
When life got to be too much to handle, she’d retreat here, back to the countryside she’d grown up in, where she felt the weight of the world lift off her shoulders like a laden rucksack. She’d needed this day, badly. There had been so many changes in her life over the past few weeks, and strong as she was, she had to take time to clear her mind.
Her cell phone rang, shattering the stillness of the forest and the peace that had been creeping into her soul to settle her, and she hit the ‘ignore’ button to silence it immediately. She knew who it was even before looking at the screen.
It was as if the wind had whispered his name, reminding her of all that was, and all that would never be. His image brought chills that shimmered through her body and she shuddered, but he was long gone; that chapter of her life was finished.
She leaned back against the rock wall she’d just rappelled down and closed her eyes, listening to the sound of the chickadees chirping, willing herself to forget her almost-fiancĂ©. It did her no good to think about him, about what could have been, what would have been if she hadn’t left him. She was annoyed that he’d called. After all, she’d come to the woods to soothe her mind, not dredge up the painful past. Hadn’t she told him, time and time again, that it was over? So why did he keep calling, intruding upon her solitude?
Another unwelcome interruption, this time in the form of a low rumble of thunder, caused her to open her eyes and look around, startled. A storm? But the forecast hadn’t called for rain. She looked up and sighed, shading her hazel eyes from the rays of the sun as she studied the sky.  It looked ok, but there was an odd feel to the air now, a heaviness that seemed charged with electricity. She knew what that meant; rain was imminent.
She fished her cell phone out of her pocket again and grinned ruefully as a belated severe weather alert flashed across the screen. Typical. Upstate New York weather was subject to change without notice, and it appeared Mother Nature had exercised her right to be a fickle bitch. The National Weather Service had been taken by surprise yet again.
Charlotte had been trained in orienteering by one of the best teachers in the world: the U.S. Army. She considered herself a skilled survivalist, capable of making a shelter, foraging for food, reading the signs nature gave her. Had she not been so preoccupied by her thoughts of Nathan, she would have noticed the darkening sky, the gusty winds, the forest floor that had come alive with creatures sounding warnings.
But it was too late now to do much about the approaching storm. As experienced as she was, there was no way she could deftly navigate up a sheer cliff that had been soaked by rainwater and backlit by lightning. Thunderstorms and flash flood conditions had caused more than one rock climbing death. She didn’t want to add another casualty to the tally. It was time to move, and time to move now, if she wanted a fighting chance at making it to the top without incident.
She donned her helmet and clipped her ropes to her harness as heavy storm clouds converged, like a ghostly cavalry planning its attack upon the forest’s army of flora and fauna. The sky dimmed rapidly, the clouds blowing across the sky faster than she could outclimb them.
Great. She’d be soaked to the skin before she made it back to her Jeep.
This rock face was one she’d climbed a dozen times. It was nearly vertical, and it required all of her concentration and skill. She liked it because it forced everything but base survival from her mind, and she always felt cleansed and rested when she emerged, victorious, at the top. She’d already set her anchor point, from which she’d rappelled down earlier, so after a quick rigging inspection, she started top-rope climbing as the first fat droplets of rain pelted her.
She was drenched by the time she’d ascended to fifteen feet and it was hard to keep a firm hold on her rigging. She’d opted not to bring her belay gloves today, which didn’t help the situation any. She fought to stay upright on the wall, her well-toned muscles burning from the exertion of battling the wind and rain. She cursed as one hand slipped and she was flung against an arĂȘte in the rock face. She hit the wall hard with her right side and bounced off the rock face. The breath whooshed out of her body and her right arm stung. Undoubtedly she’d find it scraped raw from her tangle with nature.
She paused for a moment to get her breath back and assess the situation. It didn’t look good. “Well, this sucks,” she said, dangling in mid-air.  Before she admitted defeat, she gamely gave it one more try. She put one foot on the rock and tried to gain traction, but the water streaming ceaselessly down the sheer rock wall made it impossible. Her foot slipped again and she was once again flung into the rock face.
Just then, lightning shot through the darkening sky and thunder crashed immediately behind it, indicating it had touched down close by.
“That does it. It’s just too slippery, and here I am, up here like a lightning rod. Time to come up with a different plan.” She rappelled back down the rock face and stood under a dense tree while she considered her plight. The rock face was about fifty feet tall, and the trail she’d hiked to get there was four miles long.  If she forewent the wall altogether, she’d add another mile to her hike, since the wall she was climbing was actually the base of Johns Hill, a relatively low-lying mountain, long and large enough to cost her some time. With the lightning slicing through the air, she’d stand a slightly better chance down among the trees. She’d have to stay on the ground and hike to the trailhead. It didn’t mean it would be easier, though. The terrain at the base of the mountain was rocky, uneven and a challenge in and of itself. The dead pine needles that littered the forest floor were slick. The little springs and creek beds that snaked along the base of the mountain would soon be swollen with water from the storm, and when the trail grew muddy, slips and falls were a real concern. And if the mud didn’t do the trick, tangled tree roots were ready to catch unsuspecting hikers by the ankles and throw them to the ground.
Another bolt of lightning darted across the quickly-darkening sky and she heard a sharp crack as it found its target in the nearby woods. One of the worst places she could be was under a tree when gale-force winds and lightning pummeled the Great Outdoors. She yelped when a particularly vicious gust of wind knocked a heavy tree branch to the ground, feet from where she was standing.
The rain was torrential, and the wind howled like a beast. It didn’t seem to be letting up either. Visibility was nil. Soaked through, she pushed her sodden hair out of her eyes and shrugged. “Well, there’s no way I’m getting back to my Jeep right now.  I’d best seek shelter here for a while and wait out the rain.”
This part of Johns Creek, nestled within the Adirondacks, was popular with serious hike-in campers who preferred total seclusion to a more congested public campsite. Small cabins were scattered here and there throughout the acreage. Some were home to mountain men, some were used as outposts for game wardens and park rangers, and others stood empty, free to be used by any weary traveler who needed a rest. If she remembered correctly, there was such a cabin deep in the woods a few miles from here, built in the late 1800s by a mill hand who’d worked at Johns Creek’s famous old wheat mill, and renovated in the 1930s as an overseer’s cabin by the Civilian Conservation Corps, President Roosevelt’s public works program that hired young men to preserve the natural beauty of the area and conserve natural resources while giving them a way out of the throes of the Great Depression. 
She picked up her pack and rifled through it, taking stock of what she had packed for emergencies. It contained a basic first aid kit, some flares, a few 2,000 calorie ration bars,  a spare canteen filled with water, a magnesium fire starter and some waterproof matches. It did not, however, contain an umbrella, which would have been most useful at the moment. She cursed herself for not being more prepared, and slinging her pack onto her back, she started out, heading west toward the rapidly setting sun.
Wind-driven rain slapped at her body, pummeling her ceaselessly, blowing her drenched hair into her face and obscuring her vision. She pushed it back, tucking the sodden strands behind her ears. It didn’t help much; water streamed down her face and got in her eyes, distorting the appearance of the woods around her. She didn’t have anything on her that was dry enough to wipe her eyes clear, so she blinked rapidly and kept her head down so she could concentrate on hiking.
The path she followed, more a worn game trail than anything else, was full of loose rocks and exposed tree roots. They were slick underfoot, despite the tread on her hiking boots and she stumbled a few times. To further complicate matters, she couldn’t see much other than what was in front of her. It was growing darker by the minute, more difficult to see where she was going. It was also harder to see the landmarks she’d normally use to find the cabin.
Without the sun shining down through the trees, the forest floor was eerie.  What had been dead tree trunks in the daytime were now shapeless dark blobs that lurked in the woods, perfect for the Big Bad Wolf to hide behind. Or maybe that big one over there was the Big Bad Wolf, crouching down and ready to pounce. The rustle of the leaves took on an ominous tone, and she walked as fast as she dared, trying mightily not to slip and fall on the slippery terrain, but not willing to linger in the dark forest for much longer. The creatures of the woods would undoubtedly be hunkered down now, hiding from the storm, but she didn’t want to risk surprising a wet, cranky bear or a sharp-antlered buck.
As she made her way toward the cabin by the flashes of lightning, she grinned at the little birds she’d spotted who’d found sanctuary inside one set of thick shrubs. They perched inside the dense foliage to ride out the storm. They looked dry and cozy, and very sweet with their heads tucked under their wings.
“Soon you’ll be in the air, riding the wind again,” she told them as she passed by. A sleepy-looking finch lifted his head and chirped at her once, quietly, before tucking his head back under his wing and resuming his nap.
She continued along the trail, swearing softly as she slipped and slid along the path, almost skating down a slick decline and struggling up the next soft, muddy knoll. Up and down she went, riding the peaks and valleys of the trail like a boat on choppy waves. It seemed to take forever, but finally the outline of the cabin was visible in front of her.
Lightning lanced the sky close nearby and she yelped again, startled by the flash of light that turned the sky into a dazzling display of Mother Nature’s prowess. Thunder answered lightning’s call and crashed around her. This was getting worse and worse, and she breathed a sigh of relief when she arrived at the cabin door.
One hard shove pushed in the heavy oak door and she grinned when she entered the little sanctuary and left the storm outside. She felt better immediately, now that she was out of the elements. She allowed her pack to slide off her weary shoulders and onto the wooden floor. It landed with a solid clunk.
The first order of business was to call for help. She dug her cell out of her pocket and groaned. Unless the cabin came equipped with a phone, calling for assistance was going to be impossible. Her phone was waterlogged, the screen as dark as the sky outside.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” she muttered to herself. “You’re supposed to be a survivalist and the first thing you do is forget to put your cell phone in a waterproof bag?”
She sighed and shrugged her shoulders. New first order of business? Lighting a fire. At night in the woods, exposure was a real fear and she was soaked through. The temperature could fluctuate wildly and she needed to stay warm to prevent hypothermia. Fortunately, there was a basket of dry logs next to the fireplace. She dug the waterproof matches out of her day pack and got to work.
Soon a cheerful little fire was blazing and the small popping and hissing noises the fire made as it licked at the logs were a comfort to Charlotte. She’d taken her wet things off and spread them on the floor before the fire to dry. Despite being dressed only in a cami, sports bra and boy shorts, she felt snug and safe; outside the rain was still pouring down, making a steady drumming noise on the roof of the cabin, but inside she was dry and warm and getting very sleepy.
She’d just turned from the fire to stretch out on the futon across the room when she heard the creak of hinges. As she whirled around to look, the cabin door opened.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Introducing Deborah Riley-Magnus!

Good morning!
If you are an author, or a book lover, or a combination of both, the name Deborah Riley-Magnus should be familiar to you. She's an author who writes for other authors, giving them great advice about writing and marketing. She also posts great daily author survey questions on Facebook that really make one think.

 Deborah has a brand-new book out called Write Brain/Left Brain that will help authors make the most of marketing, and she has graciously agreed to guest blog here today to talk about it!


It’s time to start talking about Author Marketing. Like most authors, until your book is actually released and marketing responsibilities come into the picture, you’ve been focused on plot, character development, dialog, book cover design, and editing—all those special elements that go in to creating the best possible product. Now that your book is available for the public, you find your palms clammy, your knees trembling, and your mouth really, really dry. This is the time to learn about the Zen marketing way of life.

Get Centered – In order to prepare and develop seriously creative marketing, you will need to focus on YOU and YOU ALONE. Most authors lump together with other authors and when it’s time to market and they rely on their experience. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Unless these are top ten best selling authors making a living at this, they know very little about marketing … otherwise they wouldn’t be sticking so close to their competition in the first place. Do you imagine that Hershey Chocolate marketing executives hang out with Mars Candy marketing executives on Twitter and Facebook to chit chat about their marketing strategies?

Think of getting centered the way you think about taking a yoga class. All your author friends are there with you, wearing their yoga pants and rolling out their yoga mats, but the moment you take your first deep breath, you are all alone, focused inward, and relaxed. This is the Zen approach to marketing too. Marketing well is about marketing the uniqueness of your own book, creating awareness, and most importantly, creating CONNECTIONS with people who love the unique things inside your book.

Seek the Zen Path to Creative Marketing Solutions – These are solutions that will only work for you and your book. Look inside … not inside your soul while deeply meditating … inside your book! Everything you need to successfully market your book you have already WRITTEN inside that book. You’re already a marketing genius; you just need to learn how to work with that genius. Here are three really important tips.

  1. Step away from the boring genre and book club marketing strategies. Instead of thinking of your prospective fan as a BOOK buyer, think of them as a person, just like you. What makes you want to make a purchase of anything? Insurance? A house? Clothing? A movie, concert, or sports event ticket? Something attracts you to those things. You like the insurances company’s adjustable invoicing policy. You’ve always loved Victorian style houses. You like to wear red hoodies. You’re a big baseball fan. Whatever the reason, you chose to purchase certain things because they connect with you personally. Book buyers are no different. Is there a dog in your book? Dog lovers should be in your Twitter following. Is there a country music singer in your mystery? Tap into country music fans for your Facebook following. Is your main character crazy for chocolate? Wine? Beer? These are ways to find and connect with people who will love your book based on what’s already written inside your book.
  2. Locate your unique hook lovers in many places. Unlike book clubs or book stores that focus on book buyers found in book stores and clubs, you can locate your unique hook lovers in numerous places. Search dog lovers on Twitter. Join dog enthusiast yahoo groups. Join as many dog rescue Facebook groups as you can find. Hold a book signing in a pet store instead of a boring old book store. Create your own blog tour by writing guest posts for bloggers who blog about dogs, dog safety, dog breeding, and dog shows. Marketing is extremely creative, so think as creatively as you did while writing the book. Tap into the excitement and energy of your book to locate and connect with prospective book buyers. All this activity and connecting, and not another author in sight to take away your thunder.
  3. Build deep and wide following that will develop into a large loyal fan base. Take all your creative marketing strategies as far as they’ll go. You’ve built a great Twitter following of your unique hook lovers, and every day (for 10 minutes twice each day before logging off) you tweet about the things those people love. You have a wonderful Facebook following of unique hook lovers, and your daily thought always focuses on those things. You guest blog on unique hook bloggers blogs. You belong to several yahoo groups that focus on your unique hooks. Take this thing further! Look online for websites that relate to your unique hooks. You might locate a business that features all natural dog food. Contact the owner or manager and offer to write a 600 word monthly article for their website about the love of dogs in return for an ad for your book, including the book cover and buy link. You’ll be amazed what a win/win this can be! They get updated and creative content for their website written by an author, and you get your book exposed to their large dog lover customer base! Think CREATIVELY. It’s the only way marketing works.

Be Curious and Brave – When it comes to author marketing, if everyone else is doing it, do something different. When a thousand authors are running the same book promotion, it’s a very crowded fishing hole. Everyone catches fewer sales. But when you strike out on your own, do unique promotions connected to the hooks in your book and the fan base you’ve created, it’s you, all alone, fishing in a massive pond. Nice, huh?


Write Brain/Left Brain:
Bridging the Gap between Creative Writer and Marketing Author
Marketing is a very scary prospect for authors. It seems like a foreign language meant to be spoken in a far off land without an embassy to help explain the culture. None of this is true. It isn’t marketing that’s the issue—it’s a fear and general misunderstanding of marketing in relation to an author’s talents and skill set.

It’s time to open the author’s mind to the purely creative aspects of marketing as it relates directly to their specific book and audience. WRITE BRAIN/LEFT BRAIN skillfully bridges the gap between creative writer and marketing author, and opens the wide road to sales success.

Available at Amazon and B&N


In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author.

Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

So close!!!

Hi, everyone!

I'm proud to admit that I've been doing a lot of writing! I have two books that are about 6/7 of the way done.

The first one is another Johns Creek book, and I love, love, love the spunky heroine and her super awesome hero!  I can't wait to finish it and send it off for a once-over. :)

The other book I'm working on right now is the second in the Lust Trilogy, Wanderlust. I am so excited about this one, because I think you'll see a different side of Nexess. We knew and loved her as a badass in Blood Lust, but what will happen now that she's out of Antonio's clutches? Stay tuned!!!

And speaking of Blood Lust, I really haven't been happy with the cover art so I finally did something about it. Without further ado, here it is! I love it, and I think it fits the story much better than the old cover did.

It feels great to be actively working on my books again. I've let the two new concepts stew for a very long time and finally, I realized I couldn't stew anymore. I had to just go for it, and I think it was the best call I could have made.

I hope to have some more updates for you very, very soon. Until then, stay awesome!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Decisions has been re-released!

Without further ado, I'm pleased to announce that Decisions has been re-released on Kindle and in print! The kindle version has been re-released with special pricing, so grab yourself a copy here while it's on sale! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Hello, everyone!

It's been a while. A long while, and I'm sorry for that. Let's just say that life has a way of changing, and I'm trying to roll with the punches and make the most of it.

You've probably noticed that Decisions is no longer available for sale, except for a few paperbacks kicking around. That's because Silver Publishing has sold one arm of their company and closed the other one and reverted rights back to the authors. I'm quite sad about this because Decisions has always been a favorite of mine, but I'm hoping I can get it released elsewhere, or even on my own. I'd love for you to be able to read the story, and here's hoping I can get it re-released without delay.

A lot of other things have happened as well with my other books, but I don't think now is the time or place to get into it. Suffice it to say that things have changed, and I'm trying to get myself right in the head and in a place where I feel good about my work and, truthfully, myself.

Thank you for bearing with me while I get my head back in the game. It's been slow going, and I think I've been so focused on what happened rather than how to overcome it that I've been defeating myself before I even start. But it's time to hunker down and write, to focus on my goals and my dreams and let everything else go.

So, dear readers, I'm going to make you a promise. No more pity parties, no more reflection and regret and mental exhaustion. I'm going to get these books done. I'm going to plow through and do what I know I can do:  write from the heart, and find a way to make this all work.

Huge hugs to each and every one of you who have stood by me for so long. I am eternally grateful, and thank you to my agent who has been very, very patient with me. I'm working on everything, I swear, and I will reach my dreams!

Love to you always,


Friday, September 13, 2013

My advice

Hi, everyone!

On Monday, I had the great honor of visiting Professor Christopher Altman at Onondaga Community College and speaking to three of his English classes. Chris has just launched his own book through Kona Publishing, a lovely texbook called Myths We Learned In Grade School English. It's fabulous and available here:

Talking to the students was fun. They were very gracious and enthusiastic and seemed to very much enjoy the first chapters I read to them. I felt like I was able to put a human face on my books, to show them that someone like me, or like them, can pick up pen and paper (or computer and coffee) and write.

I have always said that if I can start writing books, anyone can. Trust me, if you put your mind to it, you can do it. But Professor Mohammad, one of Chris's colleagues who sat in on one of the classes, said that some people might think it's an impossible feat, perhaps because they don't think their writing measures up, or can't think of something to write about. Professor Mohammed suggested that not everyone could do something like I've done, so how could we (Chris and I) help people achieve their writing goals?

I was glad he asked that question, because it wasn't that long ago that I was a non-traditional, part-time college student myself. When I wrote my first three books (or four, I can't remember), I was working full-time and going to school part-time in addition to raising my family and singing in a band. Those were crazy times, and looking back on them, I'm not quite sure how we did it. I can say that we were concerned for a while that the dust bunnies were going to spring to life and try to take over. I can say that at the time, those book ideas consumed me, and I had to write them. I had to. It was something I felt so deeply, I couldn't not write.

So my answer to the professor was this: write what you are passionate about.

I was passionate about what I was doing because I was doing it to help my family. And I loved my characters, so it was relatively easy to take the leap and finish that first book.  But I know not everyone loves to read books, especially not romances or paranormal literary fiction. But some people love music, feel it in their bones, get transported by it to a happy place. So, if music is your passion, write lyrics.

Some people love sports, and color commentary, a sports blog, or interviews with your favorite local teams and/or players is a great way to infuse writing into everyday life.

Some people love movies, and feel they could have done a better job with the last blockbuster. So, write movies, screenplays, plays, dramas, whatever. Just write.

Passionate about cooking? Write a cookbook, or a restaurant review, or a food blog. Do you love comic books? There's a creative way to infuse writing into art, or vise-versa.

I hope I've shown you that the possibilities are endless. You don't have to be chained to writing books if it isn't your thing. You can write short stories, poems, novellas, serials, etc. Just write.

That's what I did, long before I started writing books. When I was young, I wrote short stories or essays. I wrote poetry. I started multiple books that remained unfinished for many reasons, but I wrote. Later, I wrote love letters to my husband. I wrote letters to stand up for causes. Whatever form of expression it was, it was writing. And one day, I had a book idea I could actually finish. So I wrote it. And I will continue to do so. Writing for me is a need as well as a desire. I want to leave my mark, so to speak. I want to inspire people, to make them think. I want to tell stories and share my imagination with the world. So I write.

And I couldn't have done any of this without my husband and kids. My family was an amazing support system for me, and they really enabled me to start my writing journey. They continue to be supportive, giving me the space I need to let my creative juices flow.  Without them, well, I'd have no reason to write. They sustain me, and I'm hoping one day my writing sustains us.

Go forth and seize your day. Live your dreams, and if you can't immerse yourself within them, at least take a moment each day to acknowledge them and take one step forward. Eventually, every single step will end up as part of your journey. Some steps are bigger than others, and some steps might be backwards. But merely standing up and trying to reach them is more than some people will ever do, so if it takes a bit longer than you want it to, pat yourself on the back for trying. Things that are moving slowly are still moving.

Hugs and love to each of you. You also sustain me, and I am so grateful that you've chosen to share my journey. Thank you.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Enter to win!

There's a huge giveaway going on sponsored by a lovely book review organization called 2 Friends and Authors promote. There are tons and tons of books being given away via Rafflecopter. And guess what? Holding On is in there, too! This is a great way to explore some Indie authors and get some great new reading material.
Enter to win an amazing prize pack of books here:

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Good luck!