Friday, February 14, 2014

A teaser for Valentine's Day!

Me and some of the other awesome authors over at The YA Storytellers do a really cool thing called Fun Fridays where we post about the same theme every couple of weeks. This week, the theme is Romantic Teasers, for Valentine's Day.

And what better way to TEASE than with my upcoming sequel to Imitation?????
I, for one, would really enjoy Linc Crawford--for Valentine's Day or any other day!! And the cover for this one will be revealed on MONDAY!!! wooohoooo!

Here's a romantic peek at book 2:

The darkness is so complete it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I raise my hand in front of my face but the blackness remains undisturbed. I blink. Still nothing.
“Ven?” Linc’s voice is low and gravelly. It echoes around us.
“I’m here,” I say, whispering so the sound of my own voice doesn’t startle me.
Sometimes, all I have is a flashlight and a stick. Morton gave me the stick after that first time I came through alone. Linc had been on assignment and I’d come alone.  I was a shaking mess by the time I’d reached the entrance. It’d taken me two hours to muster the courage to leave. Titus had sent security to look for me. I’d almost blown it despite Linc’s assurances that he’d remotely masked my GPS reading.
Now I have the scrambler. Linc made me promise not to use it unless absolutely necessary. He’s programmed it to redirect instead. “Remember how Williams ran in all crazy-eyed when he thought he lost you? Yeah, scrambling does that. We don’t want to alert the cavalry. Only divert them.”
I agreed and let him do the fancy finger swiping—but only if he promised to show me the workings of the device later.
I use my stick like a cane, lightly tapping the floor and wall as I shuffle forward. I don’t like the darkness here. I don’t like darkness anywhere. It feels too unpredictable. Darkness, like memory, is the sort of thing people disappear into and never surface from again.
After my previous trips navigating this tunnel, I should be accustomed to the pressing blackness. The dampness. The slimy walls and squeaky rodents I imagine scampering around at my feet. But it’s still just as terrifying as the first time Obadiah brought me here. I wish there was a better hiding place for them, but so far, I haven’t found one.
I fumble for Linc’s hand and slip my fingers through his, pulling them tight until we’re hooked securely together. Linc squeezes once, and I am reassured enough to press on. “Ready?” he asks.
“Ready,” I say.
“Let’s go.”
We move slowly, dragging our feet to detect any change in the floor.  My shoes, black ankle boots that lace up the side, scuff louder than Linc’s. I scowl at the sound—and that my wardrobe is not exactly ideal for a covert outing.
Two right turns and a low overhang of metal piping later, Linc stops. There is the slightest bit of shadowed light filtering from the path that veers left before abruptly disappearing. It’s enough to create a silhouette of Linc’s features. He hovers in front of me, his body language protective even in the absence of danger.
“Why are we stopping?” I ask, breathless from anxiety and Linc’s proximity. Now that I can see him, my senses are on alert and I am aware of how close—and how alone—we are down here in the depths of the warehouse district.
In answer, Linc leans forward and cups my cheeks with his hands. His mouth hovers less than a breath away and he whispers, “I just wanted a minute alone with you.” His lips brush the edges of my mouth. “Is that all right?”
I nod and wait, mouth open and eyes closed, for our lips to connect. When they do, it sends a ripple of pleasure through me. A small noise escapes me and Linc deepens the kiss. I am lost in a sea of passion and disbelief that these feelings are mine to experience. Linc’s tongue slips out to trace the inside of my lip and my knees weaken. I wrap my arms around his shoulders for support and lean into him. I could kiss him forever and the miracle of it would still never grow old.
His mouth leaves mine to trail kisses across my cheek. “Linc …” I whisper. His hands drift lower, cupping my hips. His mouth dips to my neck and finds its way to the space just below my ear. I shiver.
“God, I love the way you feel in my arms,” he murmurs.
I offer silent agreement in the form of more kisses.
Linc’s hands wander, slipping underneath the gauzy fabric of my blouse and working their way up my ribs. His fingertips graze the underwire of my bra. I tense.
He backs off, lowering his hands to my waistline while slowly tempering our kisses. Even so, by the time he pulls away, my chest rises and falls heavily.
I reach up and trace his lips with my fingertip. Their shape is curving and I recognize a smile. I can feel his eyes on me, a delicious tingle of awareness that trails over my skin and down my back.
I hope he’ll kiss me again.

If you want to read more YA romantic teasers, check out these other YA Storytellers:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

From the Ashes... How I became a Phoenix

I'm copying and pasting this post from my blog on Phoenix, which you can read here, because it's personal and relates a lot to some things I've already blogged about here in the past. SO, if you missed it and you want to read a pretty inspiring and uplifting story about how I got here and from where,
and why I chose to launch Phoenix, you should keep reading...

Trustworthy. Boldness. Passion. Authenticity. Inspiring.

When asked recently to choose 5 words that mean the most to me in my business and in my life, I chose these. The interesting thing is, five years ago these are not the words I would have chosen as important.

That’s because five years ago, I was stuck. Stuck inside my comfort zone spot. I was married with kids, busy cooking and cleaning and balancing the budget. I spent a lot of time worrying about the future and frowning into the present.

We’ve all been wedged into that spot. A place where you’re just getting by, existing, floating along. You aren’t sad or lonely or depressed. You aren’t thrilled or excited or passionate either. It’s not a place of fulfillment. It’s certainly not joy, it just IS.

Then an event happened that shook absolutely everything I was made of.

In one single moment, everything crumbled. My foundation was reduced to rubble and I was nothing more than a pile of ashes. Now, this event that I’m talking about was HUGE. Life-altering game-changing, identity-challenging. It’s a story with a tragic core and a beautiful rebuilding. And it’s not entirely my story to tell. At least, not on a public platform.

What I know is this: the details of the event don’t matter because we’ve ALL had it happen. That game-changing MOMENT in our lives. That split second where we are forced to take a step back and SEE things for how they truly are.

And for some people, it’s not a life-changing event. It’s straws placed over and over until your back breaks and you can’t imagine working that cubicle another day. Or answering to someone else’s demands on your time. Or missing just one more school play or soccer game. Or paying a babysitter another dime for childcare when you really want to be home.
Or continuing to live one more day in a life that’s become a lie. A s a person who isn’t fully YOU.

Being a Phoenix doesn’t always mean rising from tragedy. It means releasing an old life and rising into a new one.  

For me it was that one single event. An event that hurled me out of everything familiar, forcing me to either sink or swim.

I decided to swim. And it wasn’t easy. I had to tread water for several months, clawing my way back to who I was. Who I wanted to be.

The months coming away from that experience were difficult. I went through a very intensive and thorough self-discovery process. I had to rediscover myself from the ground up, all the way down to my soul.

Finally, when I felt myself regaining my footing, I re-discovered my love of writing.
And that’s where my real journey began.

What ended up happening next was miraculous and awesome and exciting. I found my way back through writing and then, on the priceless advice of a dear friend, I found my way to self-publishing.

You might not think discovering my calling as a writer sounds life-changing. And I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. Being an author and a coach is so much bigger than putting words on a page.
Bigger than “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Bigger than making a living.

Being an author and a coach, for me, is about fulfilling my own Definite Purpose. For me, it's Maktub, an Arabic phrase from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It means: It is written. 

It’s about realizing I have something to contribute to the rest of the world. It’s about connecting. And when all of those things come together, it’s about the RUSH I get. And the complete assurance that I’m right where I’m meant to be.

Now, five years later, I’ve turned that thing that happened, that SHOVE out of my old life, into a PUSH that led to a new life.

I realized I was no longer the same person and not only that, I didn’t want to be. I’d spent too long fitting into "the comfort zone." This pre-conceived idea or space that I thought my life should be.
And I looked that old life in the face and said NO.

This time, it was a choice. I chose to PUSH myself outside my comfort zone and take a chance on my dreams.


And now, I wake up and choose me every single day and in doing so, I’ve created the life of my DREAMS.

Five years ago, I couldn’t imagine riding or owning a motorcycle—but I do. I couldn’t imagine travelling for pleasure on average every two months or spending ten days in the mountains of Colorado (kid-free) on the back of a motorcycle—but I did! I couldn’t imagine waking up every morning and saying to myself, “Today’s agenda, wherever it fits between the beach and a motorcycle ride, is to write and help other authors sell more books.”

In two weeks I leave for Guam where I’ll live and work for the next two months so that I can spend time with the person I consider the most exciting addition to this life I’ve created. And I can do ALL of my work from there just as easily as I can do it from the shore of eastern Virginia.

This is my outRAGEous life.

A fulfilling and passionate life created out of the ashes of a broken one. Full of a RAGing fire inside me that will never let me quit or give up or move on.

Following your dream is not an easy thing. It’s not comfortable or cozy. It’s messy and scary and probably makes you want to throw up a little. That’s good. If it doesn’t make you nauseous, it’s not big enough.

I hope my story inspires you, nudges you, SHOVES YOU out of the comfort zone you’re hiding in and into the discomfort of PURSUIT of your dreams.

At the very least, go have an adventure—and claim your own outRAGEous life!!