I found this to be value in learning how to plot. Check out part 1!
Today’s My Sexy Saturday comes from the first book in the Realm of Honor series, One Knight Only. I adore these books. They’re such fun. This is the story of Maggie and Finn. Maggie has time traveled back to the Middle Ages where she wakes in the arms of a sexy Scotsman. Who can resist that?
A groan behind her made her spin around, grabbing the linen and holding it to her bosom. On the bed, a dark-haired man she had never seen before rolled onto his back. He was shirtless, showing off every ripple of muscle and fantastic pectorals, the likes of which she had never seen in her life. Smooth, hairless skin with tremendous biceps and a narrow waist disappearing into the bedding that made her imagination run away with hot fantasies.
“Ooohhhh,” she breathed.
Who was this man? More importantly, where the bloody hell was she?
A soft snore escaped him and Maggie couldn’t stop staring at that beautiful chest rising and falling with every breath. His long dark hair spilled around him. And his face…
The word slipped out before she could stop it. His chiseled face hosted a strong square chin with a tiny indention in the center covered with a day’s growth of beard, a perfect nose, pronounced cheekbones, dark eyebrows. She propped a knee on the mattress, scooting closer to lean over him for a better look, amazed at how powerful his face appeared. Fierce. A man not to be trifled with. A man who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to get it.
Maggie cocked her head to the side, enjoying her view, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. For a moment, she had forgotten the fact she was in a strange place. Her long, auburn locks cascaded over her shoulder and brushed against him. The baby-fine strands must have tickled his skin, for his eyes popped open and stared back at her.
I’ve been sitting on this for a while. I’ve been trying to decide if I want to blog about it or not. I guess because I wasn’t sure what kind of feedback I’d get. But I pretty much figure I’m talking to myself here at the blog, so why not?
Back in July, before I headed off to RWA Nationals, I received a contract offer for my urban fantasy series. Not only did they want the first book, but they wanted to contact all five books in the series. Normally, I would be jumping with excitement with this news. But I was…apprehensive. Something in my gut was telling me NOT to sign the contract. I’m not sure why I felt that way about the contracts. I guess because I had a bigger vision for the series than with this publisher.
The publisher was by NO MEANS a bad publisher. In fact, I did my homework. I know several writers who write for them and love them. They’ve never had a problem with them. They’ve loved their editors. Why, then, was I hesitating? It should have been a no-brainer. The books would eventually all be in print.
But I felt like something was missing. I agonized over it for days. I made a list of pros and cons and still I wasn’t happy with the results. The more I thought about it, the more I talked myself into signing the contract.
So I signed.
And instantly regretted the decision. I was so unhappy with that, it made me miserable. I kept telling myself it would be fine. I’d be writing the series I’d always wanted to write.
But it wasn’t enough.
A dear writing friend cornered me at my last chapter meeting before Nationals and asked me what was up. She knew I was unhappy and wanted to help. We had along chat. I told her why I felt obligated to sign the contract.
“But you’re not happy with it,” she said.
No. I wasn’t.
When I explained to her why I wasn’t happy with it and the vision I had for those books, she said three words that changed my way of thinking.
“Can you terminate?”
Can you DO that? That’s what I instantly thought. Is that possible? I went back and read and read and read the contract to see what the verbiage was for termination. I wasn’t very far along in the process—no edits, no cover art, no nothing. But I was leaving for Nationals in three days and I didn’t know what to do.
My husband, in his infinite wisdom, said, “You need to do what Michelle wants to do and forget everyone else. You want to terminate, do it. Write the email and get it over with tomorrow.”
Tomorrow being Monday.
I wrote the email. It was painful but I knew it was something I had to do. I knew this publisher wasn’t where I wanted my books and I knew it wasn’t a good fit.
After several days, traveling to Nationals in San Antonio and lots of margaritas later, the publisher released me. It wasn’t pretty. But I had my books back.
It’s probably the hardest decision I’ve ever made regarding my writing career. I never like letting people down, especially when someone offers me a contract for books I haven’t written yet. I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to go and I was disappointed in myself for not listening to my gut when I knew it was right.
After getting home from Nationals, I sat down and did some really hard thinking about my writing career, my writing goals and my writing in general. My husband was right: it was time to do what Michelle wanted to do. And Michelle didn’t want to do what everyone else THOUGHT she should do.
So I ditched a lot of social media accounts. I’m focused on solely Facebook these days. I don’t tweet. I deleted my LinkedIn account and my Instagram account. I got off Triberr. My poor blog has been neglected (something I’m making a valiant effort to resurrect). I may be posting sporadically but I promise you I will try very hard to post something every week.
What am I doing with all this time? I’m writing or revising. I took a month to rewrite the entire first book of the urban fantasy series. I’m much happier with the final product. It’s definitely a book of which I’m proud.
Writing is my number one priority these days. Not social media. Not volunteering. It’s really hard for me to say no.
But I have my goals lined out. And I know where I want to go. Now, I just have to get there.
Wish me luck.
Today’s post comes from my new release, Her Fierce Knight. This is the final book in the Realm of Honor fantasy romance series.
“How about whiskey?”
Ainthas stood and turned away from the table, walking across the dining hall to a high table on the other side. He grabbed two small cups and filled them with a pale amber liquid then walked back to her.
“I’ve never had whiskey.”
“Nor I. Shall we try it together?” He handed her the cup.
She held it between her palms and looked down into the liquid, smelling the sharp tang and smiling. “It smells delicious. And strong. Like I might get drunk on one sip.” She glanced up at him, her brows raised in question. “Or is that what you’re trying to do, your majesty?”
“Get you drunk? Why I never.”
She laughed. Together the two of them downed the drink in the same instance. It burned all the way down to her toes, giving her a lovely warming feeling and making her head thick. As though she’d suddenly grown fur between her earlobes. She laughed again. A hearty laugh that come from the belly up her throat. She held out her cup.
“Are you sure, your majesty?”
She wiggled the cup at him. “Another!”
He went back to the table, grabbed the decanter and returned to fill her cup and his. They clinked cups and then downed the drink together.
“How wonderful this is. I haven’t been this happy in ages.” She giggled.
“Did you know it’s the color of your eyes?” He held up the decanter, the amber liquid winking in the candlelight making it sparkle. “I’ve always thought so.”
He set aside his cup and advanced around the table, walking in slow, silent steps like a big cat. As though he were on the prowl. Indeed, his mesmerizing green eyes sparked with desire and need. Everything she’d been feeling since the moment she saw him. She turned her back to the table and watched him approach. Her heart beat so hard, she was sure he heard it.
Ainthas pried the cup from her fingers and placed it on the table next to her. He pinned her between the table and his wall of muscle. She’d only noticed that for the first time. Gods, he was handsome. With that fall of silvery hair and those pale green eyes. She couldn’t stop from reaching up to brush away the locks from his forehead, letting her fingers glide through the strands and over his scalp.
Today’s installment comes from my new release, HER FIERCE KNIGHT!
No, not pinned. Warmth from his skin rippled through her. Her breath hitched when she realized he leaned toward her, his lips parted slightly and his eyes half-lidded.
Oh, gods, he was going to kiss her.
And she was going to let him.
She angled her head to one side as his lips brushed hers, leaving behind a tingling sensation she had never anticipated. It shuddered through her entire body right down to the ends of her toes.
When he started to move away, she knew she couldn’t let him. Her hands came up to his face, pressing against each cheek. She pulled him to her, kissed him with a sort of voraciousness even she didn’t expect or know she possessed. Their mouths collided, lips pressed against lips. Her tongue seeking his. Tasting. Teasing.
His mouth was like a velvet recess made solely for her. He tasted of wild berries and something sweet. Like honeywine. He let her take her time exploring and when he decided he wanted to be in charge, his hands lifted to her face, cupped her cheeks and tilted her head back. To deepen the kiss. To take more pleasure.
Her fingers curled into the silky strands of his hair, twining the locks between her fingers. She couldn’t stop the mewl vibrating through her throat. When his lips wandered from hers, he kissed a trail across her jaw and down her throat. Her head fell back to give him more access.
Wow. Let me blow the dust off the poor blog here and get back to work! Did you miss me? I’ve been so incredibly busy with a new job and trying to rewrite a book.
BUT I HAVE NEWS! Look what’s NOW available? This is the fifth and final installment of the Realm of Honor series. I gotta say it feels a little bittersweet to see this series come to an end. I love my elves and faeries and it’s hard to let these characters go after five books. I hope you enjoy reading them.
Book 5 in the Realm of Honor Series
Genre: Fantasy Romance
As the king’s health declines, Prince Ainthas takes the throne but his rule faces war with the Fomorians, enemies who have carved a path of devastation throughout the realm. When the Fire Elven princess, a striking beauty, arrives in his kingdom with a plea for help, he knows he cannot refuse her. Nor can he resist her and vows to fight for her hand from any challengers no matter the cost.
Princess Laerwen’s people are mercilessly massacred and facing annihilation, so she turns to the ones she blames—the Wood Elves. Upon meeting Ainthas, she learns who the true enemy is and enlists his help to regain her realm and destroy the Fomorians once and for all. But undeniable passion ignites between them and she is powerless to resist. And one kiss will never sate her desire for the prince. Even though she battles her growing feelings, he has made it quite clear he would do anything to have her.
When a twist of fate intervenes, Laerwen risks her heart for a seduction neither will forget and a love that will always endure.
Princess Laerwen emer’Aranhil Bloodfire stood on the dormant volcano and looked down into the ruin that was once her kingdom. Her gut clenched into a tight knot. The charred black earth still smoked from the recent fires. It still smelled of death. Homes had been burned to the ground. Some had stood centuries including that of the royal palace.
She had climbed this mountain numerous times as a child. She knew every handhold. Every foothold. Every nook and cranny. When things had gone to hell, the safest place for her—she knew—was here on the mountain. She’d paused halfway up to turn and watch the horror play out in front of her. Helpless, all she could do was wait for the sun to come up.
Now it had. The burning dawn revealed the loss of life and devastation.
Looking at the destruction below, one would expect such a result from a volcanic eruption. But the Hin’Dar Rhule had not exploded in thousands of years. This destruction was not from the lava that had once flowed. This was from the bloody Fomorians, a race they thought long imprisoned in the Sorrow Lands.
Laerwen wore the voluminous skirt and blouse, both bejeweled with shimmering stones against the red and green silken material, that she’d worn to the previous night’s ball. The matching sari was tossed over her shoulder, though she’d lost her veil somewhere in the fray. Glancing down at her attire, she seemed rather out of place in the aftermath of the attack. She jerked off the jewels on her head and flung them to the ground.
Hiram, her father’s advisor, trudged up the hill with a slow careful pace. He wasn’t as agile as he used to be and she was surprised he’d found her. His long cobalt tunic was smeared with a black streak of blood. The knees of his trousers had a mixture of blood and mud, as though he had knelt by someone’s side who might have been dying. His black hair stood in tufts about his dirt-smudged face. It was clear he had been running his long fingers through the thick locks over and over. Worry lines wrinkled his brow and around his mouth. Seeing it etched on his face so prominently did nothing for her nerves.
He paused next to her, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. They stood together to survey their ruined realm. He emitted a little gasp of horror and she knew it was the first he’d seen it from this vantage point. It looked far worse from this distance than on the ground in the midst of it. Tension emanated off him in waves. Tension and distress and sorrow.
“So many lost.” He whispered the words, but she still heard.
“Aye.” It was the only response she could force past the lump in her throat. She swallowed it hard, regaining her composure. “How did you find me?”
“Every Fire Elf knows this is your favorite place when you want solitude.”
And here she thought it to be her secret place.
I’ve been going through a transitional/unhappy period with my writing. I haven’t been happy with the way my sales are going. It’s hard to get a royalty check for under $10 for a month’s worth of royalties. In fact, it downright sucks. But that’s the way it is. So for me, this conference was all about attitude adjustment.
I skipped all the workshops about self-publishing and social media. I know, for me, self-publishing isn’t the route I want to go right now. And I really have social medial fatigue. I’ve decided to only focus on the social media sites I really enjoy and ditch the rest. I removed my LinkedIn account. It didn’t work for me and I was uncomfortable with so much personal information out there. Plus, the creeps seems to follow me everywhere. I even had a stalker there. I’ve decided to par down the tweeting and use Facebook only sparingly (conference week was an exception).
Back to the conference… I took a workshop on how to juggle two careers, which really seemed to help me because I work full time and write part time. I wrote notes with reckless abandon and started to feel a little bit better about myself. The next one I took was about “protecting your joy” which really meant how to love writing again. Because I haven’t been able to love it for a while. Something hasn’t been clicking with me and it’s time for me to make a chance. It helped me realize I just want to focus on what is most important–WRITING. Another workshop I took was about reinventing yourself. Because I think it’s time for me to take a hard look at where my writing career is and where I want to go. This workshop really spoke to me and helped me understand where I am as a writer and where I want to go. It was all worthwhile. I have some hard thinking to do and I intend to do that and figure out where I want to go and how to get there.
One of the best things about conference is coming home feeling fueled with creative energy. I do feel better about my writing and my direction now. I have some hard decisions to make about what my next steps will be. But the best thing is it’s all up to me and I know I can do this.
I’m fresh off the RWA annual conference and home from San Antonio. It was nice to have a conference in my home state. I managed to drag my husband for the first time.
First things first: Mexican food.
After traveling all day , we stopped in at Rio Rio on the Riverwalk. I had some of the best street tacos. I loved them. They were gone in an instant. They were small and totally delicious. We got to the hotel a day early so we’d have some time to hang out together before conference madness. It was great! We HAD to visit the Alamo because that’s what you do when you go to San Antonio.
We’ve been there a dozen times in our lives but it never gets old. And it was HOT. Can you tell? Next stop: Casa Rio for more Mexican food.
I love flautas. Probably some of my most favorite. Heck, I could eat Mexican every single day. And look at that yummy goodness. It was really good. Also on the Riverwalk.
Then Wednesday night kicked off the conference with the literacy signing–RWA donates a portion of sales to literacy. We raised over $53,000! Isn’t that incredible? Here are a few pics of my friends from the signing. There were over 500 authors signing. It was loud and amazing and awesome. The husband bought books and actually had a great time.
Here’s the fabulous Barb Han signing a book for my mom:
Fellow Plotting Princess, Sylvia McDaniel:
Me and the super awesome Elizabeth Essex:
Patience Griffin signing her debut novel, To Scotland With Love:
The very talented Addison Fox:
AND last but not least, I had the chance to meet Jill Shalvis:
Sorry for the blurry pictures. My iPhone didn’t like the lighting in the big room.
I also took more selfies.
Me and Karilyn Bently:
Me and Vicki Batman:
Me and Barb Han:
I even managed to get one with me and the hubby!
YES. I wore the hat everywhere. And boots. I’m a native. I can do that sort of thing.
And I leave you with this. A margarita on the Riverwalk from County Line BBQ:
The author will be awarding one autographed print copy (US or Canada – digital copy substituted for international winners) plus a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during this tour and the Reviews Only Tour. Click the banner above to follow the blog tour, comment and enter to win. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning!
Andrea McNeilly’s job as a government agent is not asking questions, but then a routine assignment turns into a botched assassination of a Master Vampire’s human servant. Answers become a priority. Her search to discover the truth is riddled with obstacles, the largest being an oversized Werewolf who resembles a Norse god. Andy can’t afford the distraction he offers, because if she fails, she faces eternal enslavement.
Wick’s job is to monitor Andy, but he prefers more intimate activities, none of them G-Rated. His choices, however, are often not his own. His ability to help Andy is limited by his bond to the Master Vampire.
Facing many trials and challenges along her path to redemption, Andy learns the value of her freedom might be set too high.
“Where’s your fera?”
My knees banged against the table and my right elbow broke my fall as I leapt across the desk—the injuries mere flea bites in comparison to what raged inside my head. There was no chance to consider the ramifications of my actions. I strained forward and ignored the pain from the machine straps and chords ripping off my skin.
Tucker’s soft neck squished between my hands. I increased the pressure. No norm asked about feras nowadays. None. Not if the valued their lives. Shifters had been the hardest hit after the Purge. Every dumbass redneck who owned a gun ran out and used feras for target practice. So many died in the first years of the purge that they nicknamed the time the Shifter Shankings. I’d been born in the middle of that turbulent time and always assumed my birth parents had been two of the casualties. Why else would I be put up for adoption?
I squeezed harder, enjoying how Tucker’s eyes bulged.
The door banged open and Agent Booth stepped in.
“Agent McNeilly stand down,” she commanded. “Release Agent Tucker.”
About the Author:
Born and raised on the Haida Gwaii, off the West Coast of Canada, J.C. McKenzie grew up in a pristine wilderness that inspired her to dream. She writes Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.
A Knight Like No Other: Book 4 Realm of Honor
Sex, Lust & Martinis: Book 4 Coffee House Chronicles
Her Fierce Knight: Book 5 Realm of Honor
Coming August 28, 2014!