Where the heck have I been?

Oh, man, time really got away from me. After launching book 3, I shifted into my other pen name and scrambled to finish book 3 in that series, under a super tight deadline. I just barely made it! Then it was into pre-launch mode, and off to the Romance Writers of America Conference in New York City.

What a wonderful experience. Between meeting authors I look up to (Carolyn Crane, Cristin Harber), attending great panels, and bonding over the elevator craziness, it was awesome. I dropped off my can koozies in the swag room, which link to my fake Osterhagen website: http://www.osterhagenbeer.com/


Carolyn Crane (L) and me (R) right after the “Build a Hero” workshop at RWA. (Copyright 2015 – Tom Smarch Photography http://www.tomsmarch.com/)


I haven’t cut my hair since Nov. 2013. It is way out of control, LOL. (Copyright 2015 – Tom Smarch Photography http://www.tomsmarch.com/)

To be honest, the other pen name has been far more successful and time consuming than I was prepared for. (I reached as high as #11 on all of Amazon at one point, which left me speechless.) I do want to write more books in the Command Series. I’m curious to see what Caroline’s doing, and to learn Rance’s backstory. I also enjoy working with my editor, whom I got to chat with at RWA, and she said she’d love to see me continue the Karyn books. Right now, I am knee deep in two writing projects for the other pen name and a third co-authored project is slated after that. Once I have a handle on those projects, (re: in my beta readers’ hands) I’d like to rebrand the Command Series with sexy new covers that are a bit more romantic-suspense themed, and release a boxed set. I plan to give it another editing pass and some extra content too… Maybe Juric’s backstory? 😉

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T-Minus 1 Day to Launch!

It’s almost here… the book that nearly killed me and yet I’m so thrilled with how it came out. A few of the early reviews are in and mention that my descriptions of South Africa make the reader feel like they are there, which is such a wonderful compliment.

Getting to visit that beautiful country was an amazing experience, and I loved going back (in my head) with Olivia and Ethan. There is a lot of my trip in the book. In fact, here’s an excerpt, and this is exactly how it happened my first night at Inyati Game Reserve.

The wide Land Cruiser sped across a sandy path through the short trees and bush. The CB radio mounted below the dash buzzed with Afrikaans or another language she didn’t know, and Phillip snatched up the receiver, gave a short reply, and returned the receiver to its rest.

“There’s a pride of lionesses hunting a kilometer from here,” the South African said.

The vehicle lurched forward as he stepped on the gas. The landscaped changed quickly around them. One minute it was thorny, dense bush and the next it was open, grassy plain.

“Giraffe,” Olivia said to no one in particular, pointing down the hill as they flew by. The lanky animal stood on its long legs, eating leaves from a treetop and paid no attention to them.

“And zebra,” Phillip replied, although he pronounced it zeh-bra. “Giraffe and zebra are old friends. You usually see them together.”

She didn’t care what the men thought of her reaction, it was impossible not to be dazzled seeing something she’d only seen behind fences at a zoo. “He’s beautiful.”

“She, actually,” Phillip said. “They are elegant, no?”

“Yes.” Elegant was the perfect word.

They crossed over a dry creek bed and the Land Cruiser scaled the rocky hill on the other side, leading them to where another vehicle sat, the logo of a different lodge displayed on its side. The vehicles were similar in style, but the back of the other one was full of passengers, all with camera straps slung around their necks.

Phillip pulled alongside the driver and chatted with the burly, tough looking black man, in what sounded like friendly conversation. Then, as they parted, Phillip yelled to the other vehicle’s passengers, “Make sure you ask him why he’s called Gentle Creature!”

The driver gave an embarrassed smile when he pulled away.

“Why is he called that?” she asked.

“Johannes used to be a tracker for us. One day he came into a clearing and startled a rhino bull. The firing pin of his rifle had jammed, so he said he had to talk the rhino out of charging him.”

“How’d he do that?”

“Johannes told the rhino that he was a gentle creature and meant it no harm. We can’t let him get by without teasing.” He moved the gearshift. “Hang on, we’re going in.”

She wasn’t quite sure what he meant until the tires turned off the path and into the bush. Then Phillip drove right over a large sapling. Her hand latched onto the bar over the seatback in front of her.

“Duck down,” the South African yelled over the tree limbs snapping beneath the undercarriage.

Duck down because now he was going under a low-hanging tree with two-inch thorns on it. She flattened herself against the center seat as the thorns dragged and scraped over the hood, and continued relatively harmlessly over the shirt on her back. The Land Cruiser tackled a few more bushes, and Phillip cut the engine.

In the center of the thicket, three lionesses lifted their heads from their meal to focus on the visitors, bloody entrails dangling from their deadly jaws. The largest cat went back to eating and the others followed. They did not view the people or the vehicle as a threat.

Olivia couldn’t fight the instinct to press herself into the leather seat. There were no fences, no bars or glass separating her from these gorgeous beasts. She was only twenty feet from them. There was nothing to stop them if they wanted to pounce and rip out her throat.

“It’s all right,” Phillip said, sensing her apprehension. “They’re comfortable with us. We’ve been coming around for long enough that we’re just another part of the environment to them.”

These cats looked so different from the ones in captivity. Muscles stretched beneath their hides that were hardened through need. It could be days before their next meal. Scratches and scars dotted their faces. It was a tough life, even at the top of the food chain.

She could have stayed for hours, silently watching them. Lions had always been her favorite growing up. At one point, she turned to Nathan, although she was unsure why. Maybe since he was also American he was likely to feel the way she did.

“Isn’t this amazing?” she said.

His eyes slowly drifted away from the cats to settle on her. “Yes.”

It sent a delicious shiver up her spine.

And here’s that moment. You can’t see in this picture, but there was a third lioness behind the bush eating. These two were heading into food coma . . . the top one is yawning.

I have on 2 fleeces and a blanket. It was cold!

I have on 2 fleeces and a blanket. It was cold!

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Cover reveal!

I got a bit sidetracked with my other books in production, but today I ordered the paperback proof of Surrender. Soon I’ll begin building the e-book file, which is tedious. Layout of the paperback was a breeze this time around. I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of it. Still haven’t decided on a release date, although I’ve narrowed it down to May.

This book is my strongest writing to date, and I’m anxious to release it, but what I’m not looking forward to is the launch. With four releases under my belt, (two under the pen name) I understand what’s required now and it’s daunting. Fun, but hard work. Balancing that, while writing another book, keeping up with both brands, and having a day job/real life is a lot. Yet I feel so lucky and blessed by the overwhelming support and positive reaction of my family, friends, and readers.

Makes me want to keep telling stories. 🙂

Surrender Kindle Reveal Surrender-Full-Cover-no-bleed

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Another Teaser!

Rewrite is done, and Surrender is going to the copyeditor this weekend! Here’s a teaser I put up on Facebook earlier this week, and get ready… the book cover reveal is Monday. Pretty excited about that.

Surrender - Bourbon


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I had my call with the editor last night and began the final rewrite of Surrender. I’m very excited. The notes and direction I received were great and I can’t wait to share this story! The hero and heroine here may be my favorite couple yet…

Surrender Teaser

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Extreme Binge Reading!

I received my RITA judging packet in the mail last week. Looks like I’ve got my to-be-read shelf covered for awhile!

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Writing Vacation & Binge Reading

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 9.59.19 AMThe BookBub ad was a great success, and although I fell just short of my goal of cracking the top 100 on Amazon (by a measly 10 spots!) I am thrilled with the results. Each day Stay dips a little lower in sales ranking as the tail-end of the promo fades into the rearview, but I’m still above the 10,000. Which freaking rocks. And the bump in Kindle Unlimited has been great too. I have no idea how many units you need to move get one of the top 100 KU bonuses, or if they will do them for December, but I went from 2 or 3 units a day, to 30 or more. Hopefully the payout for December will be similar to November’s $1.39.

Did you know that we live in a small world? Karen Dale Harris, my editor for the Command Series, lives near my folks in the Chicagoland area. In fact, my husband and I used to live less than 5 minutes from her before we abandoned Illinois for Kentucky. And since I was up visiting family over the holidays, Karen and I were able to get together and chat in person. It was wonderful to meet her face-to-face and discuss the future of the series, plus the upcoming RWA conference we’re both planning to attend in NY in July.

While I was up visiting, I also submitted the manuscript for Surrender (Book 3) to Karen. I hope to have ARCs ready by April, but I’ll wait and see what kind of work needs to be done before cementing a publish date.

While I wait, I’ve been binge reading. Because of those ‘other’ books I’ve written, I feel like this is the first time in forever that I have time to read and enjoy. I burned through all three books in Carolyn Crane’s Associate series. (I highly recommend them!) I may or may not have gushed to Carolyn personally about them like a fangirl…

Soon I’ll get back to writing. Caroline’s story is slowly forming in my brain, and it won’t be too much longer before I’m back to ignoring the dirty dishes in the sink and encouraging my husband to play video games after the kids go to sleep so I can write sitting beside him on the couch. 🙂

Hope you all had a fabulous holiday and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2015!

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Shameless Bragging

Indulge me, won’t you? Here’s a few screencaps. To the general public, these mean nothing, but to an indie author like me? Everything. And I am crazy excited that the Command Series has found some new readers. Of course I had to include a picture of the Assassination Thrillers category, because I stole that spot from a rather well known author.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.10.16 AM Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.14.10 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.15.26 AM

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12 Hours to Promo

Stay 99Cent iPad RibbonI’ve got such high hopes for this week, although it’s already been great. Keep received some wonderful reviews, and one that pretty much knocked my socks off. (Good stuff happening with DB1 & 2 as well.)

Tomorrow, Stay goes on promo, Dec. 17-21.

I don’t know how to manage my expectations. I’m aiming high, hoping to crack the top 100 of Amazon. The consensus seems to be 1,000 books in 24 hours will do it. According to BookBub’s averages, that’s doable. I seriously cannot wait for that email to pop into my inbox tomorrow. Wish me luck!

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