Head over to my Facebook page to follow the event!
To celebrate the release of Wicked Dark Dragon, I'm highlighting a week of hot shifter romance reads! There will be free books and giveaways!
Head over to my Facebook page to follow the event!
WICKED DARK DRAGON IS OUT TODAY! You can grab all this delish dragon hotness for $1.99!
***If you're wondering about the Emma serial, I explained a bit about the delay here. That said, Emma Part 3 will be out later this week! Thanks so much for your patience and for all of the wonderfully kind and uplifting messages while I dealt with some pretty heavy family stuff. <3 ***
A lulling hum pulled him away from his troubled thoughts. Mad surrendered to the warm current dragging him down into the deepest, murkiest waters of sleep. Like every night for the past three weeks, he found himself walking the bustling streets of a Mexican seaside town. Mariachis played for the tourists while young boys hawked small packs of gum. The scents and sounds of the busy mercado were so vividly real. If he reached out and took one of the aguas frescas for sale, he would have been able to taste the sweetness of the watermelon and feel the icy chill against his tongue.
The scene morphed, and darkness settled over him. The rich trill of trumpets faded and was replaced by the thumping bass of a dance beat. Now he was in a nightclub, one of the big, glitzy nightspots that catered to the moneyed college crowd that descended every spring.
But his vantage point was all wrong as he weaved through the thick, pulsing crowd. He was down low and at risk of being crushed by all the bodies jamming the dance floor. Someone jostled him, and he stumbled backward and only barely managed to catch his balance and avoid a nasty spill.
Looking up into the face of the red-haired man who had slammed into him, Mad realized he wasn’t watching the revelry from above as he had every night before this. He was in the body of the dreamer and sharing this bizarre sleep state with him. He was in her body, the nameless, faceless presence who owned this world where he now trespassed.
And she was small. Judging by the height difference between her and the man who had nearly knocked her over, the woman was barely an inch or two above five feet. Despite her tiny stature, she didn’t take any shit from the man who had whacked her with his bigger body. When he slid closer in a provocative manner, she put up both hands and shoved hard. Shaking her head, she sidestepped the taller man’s grabby hands and continued her hazardous trek across the packed dance floor.
A desperate urge to protect this tiny woman blazed within him. It was a sensation he could no longer deny. Since the first dream they had shared, he had been unable to shake this growing need within him. He wanted to know her. He wanted to see her smile and hear her laugh. More than anything, he wanted to be the one holding her hand and guiding her through the crowd, using his bigger, stronger frame to shield her from all others.
Despite playing down his dreams to Griffin[CG1] , Mad grudgingly acknowledged that this was no simple case of psychic energy siphoning. This was so much more complicated and dangerous. A word he never dared imagine he would ever claim floated in the back of his mind. While he wanted to insist that it was impossible that this unknown woman was that word, he couldn’t deny the feeling clenching his gut.
She entered a room at the rear of the club. A bathroom, he quickly realized, as women chatted and primped at the sinks. She entered an empty stall and locked it. Worried this dream was about to get awkward, he experienced a wave of relief when she leaned back against the stall door and closed her eyes. Suddenly, he could hear her thoughts.
Leave. Leave and stay far away.
A cold sensation crept along his spine. His stomach pitched, and his chest tightened. He wanted to get out of her body and out of the bathroom as quickly as possible, but he was anchored in her mind. The other women in the bathroom weren’t as tightly moored. One by one, they drifted out of the bathroom.
Confused, Mad tried to figure out if what he was experiencing was truly a dream or if it was a memory. If it was a memory, if this was a snapshot of a real moment, had she really cleared an entire room with a single thought? Was this woman more than human?
She exited the stall and crossed to the entrance. She locked it from the inside and then marched to the closest mirror. He expected to finally catch a glimpse of her face but the mirror’s surface looked smoky and smudged. Despite being totally alone in the bathroom, he sensed a dark, evil presence lurking just out of sight. A cold, unsettling sensation crawled along his skin.
With shaking hands, she flipped the clasp on her small black purse and retrieved a tube of lipstick. She dropped the lid into the sink and twisted the base. Using the flirty pink shade like a pencil, she started to write on the mirror.
My name is Ivy Morales.
I have been missing for three weeks.
I am like you.
I need your help.
As Mad read the message she scrawled on the mirror, he experienced a rough and painful shoving sensation that squeezed the air out of his lungs. The mirror’s reflection began to clear, the murky fogginess fading, and suddenly he saw himself standing behind a petite black-haired beauty in a shiny purple dress. Their gazes locked in the mirror. Her striking eyes, one the color of coffee and the other a vibrant shade of reptilian gold with crimson flecks, told the entire story.
She wasn’t human. She wasn’t dragon. She was both.
She held up her hand, lifting it just over her shoulder, and silently asked him to take it. He grasped her smaller hand, her fingers thin and delicate, and marveled at the electric zing that arced along his skin. Gripping his hand, she spun toward him and stepped in close. The air rushed from his lungs when he peered down at her. His heart did a wild flip, and he swallowed hard.
Ivy. Her name ricocheted around in his mind. Something about this young woman with dark hair and pouty lips was so familiar. The faintest tickle of a thought teased him but he couldn’t drag it forth. Entranced by her oddly hued eyes, he held his breath when her fingertip traced the edge of his jaw and his bottom lip. She was too short to reach any higher, even in her heels. He cupped her face in one big hand, silently urging her to stay perfectly still so he could study her features. No answer came to him.
In a club so packed with humans, he shouldn’t have been so incredibly aware of the scent of one single half-dragon girl. There were too many perfumes, colognes, and all of that alcohol mixing with the smell of sweat and pheromones to mask the familiar earthen smell of a dragon. Yet he had no trouble at all picking out the notes of lavender and sandalwood clinging to her.
The urge to breathe in her unique scent gripped him. He leaned down and nuzzled her neck, drawing in the smell of her and holding it in his lungs until every last cell was saturated. He watched tiny bumps blossom on Ivy’s skin as he brushed the tip of his nose along the curve of her neck. She gripped his shirt and rose on tiptoes to press against him, molding her nubile form to his hard chest.
Something inside him snapped. For weeks, he had been a mere spectator in these dreams. Now he wanted to participate. Wrapping an arm around her waist, he hauled her right up off the floor and deposited her on the edge of the sink. Ivy gasped at his display of strength. Her eyelids shuttered briefly. When they parted again, both eyes had shifted to that golden color and her pupils were long slits. He didn’t have to glance at his reflection to know that his were now the same red shade as the scales of his inner beast.
She slid her hands along his arms and shoulders and clasped either side of his neck. He dipped down and teased his nose against hers before brushing his lips to hers with the barest whisper of contact. Mad tangled his fingers in those long, dark waves and tilted her head back. Her excited breaths sent a quiver of anticipation through his chest. She trembled against him, and the feel of her smaller body shaking like that did wild things to his heart.
Finally, he captured her soft, pouty lips. What began as a gentle, chaste kiss quickly morphed into something far more dangerous. He traced the seam of her lips with the tip of his tongue, silently seeking entrance, and then delved between them when she whimpered with uncertainty. The dream was so damned real he could taste the sweetness of pineapple juice and the bite of tequila clinging to her lips.
Wanting more of her, needing more of her, Mad cradled the back of her head and took the lead, embracing that dominant side of himself, which had always enjoyed being in control. Sliding his hand along her thigh, he slipped his fingers under her skirt and trailed them along her silky skin. Ivy made a needful, excited noise that rippled through his chest and traveled straight to his cock. Showing some boldness, she wrapped her legs around his waist and rocked against him.
The corners of his mouth lifted with a pleased smile that interrupted their wild kisses. She shyly grinned up at him, the pink stain of her cheeks telling him that she wasn’t nearly as experienced as she pretended to be. The allure of innocence had never been one that he had understood…until Ivy.
Overwhelmed by the primal call to mate that her scent and taste evoked, Mad surged against her, making sure to let the hard ridge of his trapped erection rub right between the V of her thighs. She gasped, and her shuddery breaths buffeted his jaw. More than anything in the world, he wanted to be buried deep inside his sweet Ivy. He wanted to feel her nails clawing at his back and her slick, hot sheath clenching his shaft as they came together.
His sweet Ivy?
The possessive thought gripped him and just wouldn’t let go. This young woman who had invaded his dreams intrigued him. He wanted to know her. He needed to know everything about her. Where had she come from? Where was she going? Was he going there with her? What made her laugh? What made her cry? What did she want out of life?
Desperate to get those answers, Mad attempted to wrest control of the dream from Ivy by calling forth the gifts of his dragon, but awakening his inner beast had a bizarre effect. Everything around them pulsed. The lights dimmed for a few seconds and then brightened to an almost blinding whiteness. As if alive, the walls throbbed, the peeling paint bubbling and dripping with a strange black fluid. The floor shifted beneath his feet, and he fell forward against Ivy. He curved a protective hand along the back of her head, shielding her from the mirror, and pulled her in tight against his chest.
“I see you, Welshman.” A slithery, hissing voice shattered their sensual moment. He glanced around, searching for the origin, but he couldn’t find it. The room darkened and seemed to be growing smaller and smaller.
“Look at me.” Ivy jerked on the front of his shirt. The panicked expression twisting her beautiful face hit him in the gut. He started to reassure her that he would take care of her, but she stopped him before he could form even one single word. Her fingertips were cold as ice when they touched his lips. As the dream world she had created disintegrated, so did the brightness in her eyes and the color in her cheeks. Pale with dark circles under her eyes and lips cracked with dehydration, she stared up at him. “Save me?” she pleaded.
He clasped her thin wrist and swore a vow. “I will save you, Ivy.”
“Hurry. I can’t hold on much longer. She’s going to break me—and then I won’t be able to protect you or the other dragons.” She tugged her wrist free and placed her palm against his chest. Her very touch branded him, and he inhaled sharply as the blistering pain scorched his skin. Catching him by surprise, she lifted her other hand and slapped him right across the face. Despite her small stature, she walloped him as hard as Griff ever had. He didn’t think his seven-foot-tall cousin had ever knocked his block off quite like Ivy. “Wake up!”
Bolting upright in bed, Madoc clutched his burning chest and sucked in a ragged breath. Sweat sluiced down his skin, soaking his sheets and cooling his overheated body. He touched his stinging face and winced. If he’d had any doubts about the veracity of the dream, the bruise forming on his cheek and the pain over his heart convinced him it was real.
On legs as shaky as a newborn colt’s, he clambered out of bed but only managed two steps before he dropped to his knees. Sapped of energy, he used the nearest piece of furniture to haul himself upright. It finally occurred to him that his ravenous hunger and thirst and this relentless tiredness he had been experiencing were because Ivy had been draining him to survive. Wherever she was being held, she was being deprived of food and water and deliberately weakened.
And it enraged him.
Fueled by his anger, Mad left his bedroom and headed downstairs. He kept a hand on the wall to maintain his balance and avoid a nasty fall. When he hit the living room, he dropped down on his couch and reached for the laptop he had been using a few hours earlier to research dreams. The moment the screen awakened, he typed in the name she had written on the mirror but his fingers slowed as he hit the last few keys.
“Ivy.” His whisper sounded so harsh in the stillness of his home. Blood pounded in his head as he suddenly realized who this mysterious dream girl was. “Her.”
Memories from years ago, during a time when the blood feud between dragons and Knights had been fomented to a fever pitch, blitzed Mad. Ivy looked so familiar to him because she favored her mother Phoebe, a female dragon from the ancient Niko Drakon’s tribe.
Impetuous. Wasn’t that how Niko had described his kin?
Phoebe had been young, as far as dragons go, not more than three hundred years old, and she had had the audacity to fall head over heels in love with a Knight of St. George.
Mad rubbed the back of his neck. Ages ago, he and Griffin had been tasked with taking Phoebe and her human lover into custody to protect them. Not surprisingly, Phoebe had seen it as kidnapping, and she had plotted with the father of her unborn child to escape at the first chance. Niko had managed to keep them under lock and key long enough for the baby to be born, but somehow her lover had overpowered Niko.
The couple and their baby hadn’t made it far before those vicious, murdering bastards of the Knights of St. George caught up with them. Phoebe had died protecting her child, but her lover—Yves, Mad finally remembered—had fought to the bitter end. The Brotherhood had arrived too late to save him. Madoc had held the dying man’s hand as he drew his last breath and had been the one to dig the graves where they had buried the murdered couple.
And that precious little baby? She had quieted the moment Niko had taken her in his arms and rocked her so gently. Her tribe mate had sworn he would protect her and he had. The alchemist dragon had cooked up one of his concoctions to suppress the supernatural side of her until she reached adulthood. More than anything, Niko had wanted that tiny baby girl to enjoy a normal childhood and early life instead of the hell that she would have certainly known if Niko had kept her at his estate.
Batting away the ugly memories, Mad finished typing in Ivy’s full name and searched for any information on her. As he scanned the results, he touched the crook of his arm and thought of the blood he had given Niko for that potion. Niko had explained that dragon blood from a male belonging to a rival tribe would cancel out the Knight blood in the girl until she became of age and it would make her impossible to track.
Mad hadn’t given a second thought to donating his blood. He had sworn his life to the Brotherhood, and if Niko asked him to bleed for the cause, he would happily slice open his wrist.
It appeared the potion had worked. Clearly, Ivy had been able to grow up unbothered and off the radar of the Knights of St. George. She had gone to college before the Knights had tracked her down and taken her captive. There was no doubt in his mind that it had to be them holding her now. That creepy fucking voice that had shattered the dream and called him Welshman had to belong to their Seer. The Knights saw some potential use for Ivy, no doubt as a weapon against the dragons.
The real question? Why was she reaching out to him? Niko was her kin and her tribal leader. Her bond with Niko should have been the strongest and the easiest to exploit. Family ties were always the most powerful for dragons until they found their mates.
He swallowed hard. While he wanted to immediately discount that possibility, Mad couldn’t ignore the facts before him. It wasn’t at all uncommon for mates to find each other in dreams. Considering the scarcity of their species these days, there were often long distances between tribal compounds. With their sensitivity to psychic energy, dragon shifters had no trouble communicating on that level.
But that blood he had given Niko… What if it had screwed up things in a way the alchemist had never intended? What if Ivy was now tied to him because of the potion and not because they were true mates? Was their bond real? Would it last? Or was this simply a side effect of Niko’s elixir?
No one really understood how dragon mates came to be. In the old days, they had been called star mates or soul bonds. Even with all the science available to them now, no one could say with any certainty how it worked or even why. It just did. There was a moment of recognition, a spark, and there was no going back once that link was awakened.
Closing his eyes, he ran his fingers along his lips. God, he could still taste and feel her. The urge to save Ivy, to bring her to his home, nurse her back to health, pamper and protect her forever overwhelmed him. Heat rolled low in his belly as he remembered those soft sighs and the slight whimpers she had issued as he had claimed her mouth. The desire to find her and mate her and forever mark her as his was too strong to fight.
Embracing that overpowering sensation, he hoped it would aid his search for Ivy. Her ominous warning that she couldn’t hold on much longer and that more than just his life was at stake spurred him onward. He discovered a social media blitz from a young woman named Eris Jones who appeared to be Ivy’s best friend at college. He skimmed the flyer and collected the necessary details. The pair had been vacationing during spring break at a popular Mexican resort when Ivy had gone missing at a club, probably the same one she had shown him in his dreams.
The rest of his search turned up even more troubling news. Ivy’s parents had been killed in a house fire nearly a year earlier. At first glance, it seemed like nothing more than a tragic accident, but Mad had a bad feeling the Knights had been involved. He wasn’t fully aware of the details of the cloaking magic Niko had worked on Ivy and her adoptive parents, Susie and Miguel Morales, but it was possible that their deaths had allowed the Knights to break that magic and get to their daughter.
To my mate.
His chest tightened, and he reached up to rub his sternum in the hopes of easing the ache gripping his heart. When he touched his chest, Mad hissed and yanked back his hand. He glanced down at his bare skin and spotted the red, raw patches there. Remembering the way Ivy’s fingertips had burned him just seconds before she had smacked him, he jumped off the couch and rushed into the closest bathroom. He shielded his eyes from the bright glare of the light and waited for them to adjust before he glanced at his reflection in the mirror.
Pride welled up inside him and caused him to grin. His brilliant sprite of a mate had scorched him with the location of the place she was being held. His Spanish was rusty, but he still remembered the word for prison and recognized the name of the Mexican state of Veracruz.
Armed with her location, Mad rushed upstairs and threw open the door of his closet. As he hastily jammed his legs into a pair of jeans, he considered contacting Griffin. His cousin was locked away in an underground lair with a female dragon belonging to a rather unique line of Naga shifters. Just days into their synced heat phase, the pair was giving off a powerful scent that would make them easy targets for the Knights to track. He couldn’t risk alerting Griffin and drawing his cousin out of that lair. He was safe there with Avani.
He thought about calling Ignatius, the Brotherhood’s leader, or Niko for backup but he hesitated. If Ivy was mistaken about her location or if the Knights holding her had managed to confuse or infiltrate her thoughts, he could be leading the two men into a trap. Until he was absolutely certain she was there, he had to exercise caution.
Throwing some clothes and supplies into an overnight bag, he rubbed his hand across the throbbing marks on his chest. Whatever it took, he would find Ivy. No matter what the cost, he would save his mate.
[CG1]Author: You’ve already said that Griffin was his cousin. Perhaps reword to: “best friend, as well as his cousin, Griffin” to put the stress on this new information about their relationship.
Hey everyone! There's going to be a short delay on the Emma: Part Three release. I had hoped to get this installment out on schedule but it looks like that's not going to happen.
Long story short: We had a miscarriage a few days before Christmas--and then I caught the flu. After trying for another child since 2010, this loss hit me hard and in a way I hadn't quite anticipated. As you can imagine, getting into my office to write and edit romance was basically the last thing I wanted to do while trying to recover from that double whammy (while also juggling the usual special needs issues that arise in this house from time to time.)
The Emma serial was written in 2013 so it's complete and just needs some editing to get it ready to go. I expect to release Parts Three and Four by the first week of February.
Emma: Part Two Is Available Now!
After their moment of torrid passion is interrupted by clanging alarms, Emma, Max and Jack face off against a horde of zombies. Her small Outlands farm is quickly overrun by the endless stream of undead, and the trio has no choice but to make a run for it. Just when all seems lost, a Zed team from Outpost Nine saves the day.
But Emma quickly discovers that being claimed as a mate by the two capable, commanding cyborg officers carries consequences she never dared to imagine. Separated from her men and tossed into quarantine, Emma questions her decision to trust Max and Jack.
When Max breaks every rule in the book to break into the quarantine unit, Emma will have to choose what she wants: a future with Max and Jack or a new life, alone, in the Outlands.
You can grab a copy on Amazon for 99 cents (or FREE if you borrow via Kindle Unlimited) here.
Emma ended her transmission and switched off the power on her radio. Jack walked over, took the radio from her hand and tucked it into the small front pouch on her backpack. He clasped her hand and led her to the waiting helicopter. The rotors were kicking up dust and grass as they spun faster and faster. Jack put his hand on the top of Emma's head, keeping it down and out of harm's way. It was a silly and overprotective thing to do considering Emma was only an inch or two over five feet but it made him feel better.
When they reached the wide open doors, he grasped her by the waist and handed her up to Max. Jack jumped in after her and directed her to one of the chairs behind the cockpit. After helping her out of her backpack, he strapped her in with the harness and slapped a pair of headphones over her ears to dampen the loud noise. He gave her a thumbs-up that she mimicked with a silly grin on her face. He ruffled her hair and moved over to the door where he hooked a safety harness around his waist.
One of the cyborg soldiers handed him a rifle. Jack clipped a tether onto the rifle as an extreme precaution to keep it from falling out of the helicopter and slipped into the safety harness. As the helicopter lifted from the ground, Jack glanced over at Emma. She had an almost envious look on her face. He decided then and there he would find a way to sneak her onto a helicopter some day and let her go sky hunting with him. She would love it.
The flight was uneventful. Jack split his focus between scanning the ground for zombies and watching Emma. She seemed to be handling the shaking and speed of the flight well. Sometimes people got sick during their first helicopter rides. The longer they traveled, the more her eyelids drooped. She needed hot food, a hot shower and a comfortable bed.
As they crossed into Outpost territory, Jack allowed his arm to relax. He noticed movement by Emma and watched as one of the human soldiers sitting near her feet tapped her bare leg and offered her a granola bar. She stared at the packaged bar suspiciously before opening the wrapper and taking a tiny bite. She made a face and shuddered before trying to hand it back to the soldier. He just laughed and pushed it back toward her mouth. He made an eating gesture and then unscrewed the lid from his canteen. Emma reconsidered his offer and gave a little nod. She ate the granola bar and sipped water from the canteen for the rest of the ride.
When they started to descend, Emma returned the canteen to its owner and mouthed the words thank you. The young kid winked back at her, rubbed her thigh and returned his canteen to his pack. Jack's gaze slid to Max's face. Sharing his supplies with Emma was one thing but winking at her and touching her leg had crossed one of Max's lines. Jack figured the boy was in for an earful when they set down. Human males competed with the cyborgs for female affection. They tended to be more successful than cyborgs, a fact that would set off Max's insecurities.
Max was out of his seat the second the helicopter touched the landing pad. Jack started to rise, worried Max was going to approach the young soldier right there in the back of the helicopter. He was pleasantly surprised that Max crouched down in front of Emma and unbuckled her from the seat harness. While the rest of the team jumped out of the helicopter, Jack weaved around them to reach Max and Emma.
"I can't believe you guys eat those things," Emma was saying. She made a disgusted face. "They're awful. Seriously, they taste like sawdust. Is that what all of your food tastes like?"
Jack smiled and shook his head "No, Emma. Those are just battle rations. The food here on base is just as good as what you served us."
"Thank goodness! I thought I was going to starve to death if that was typical of the food here at the Outpost. I didn't want to be rude to the guy who gave me his ration so I just choked it down."
"I wanted to choke him," Max muttered as he lifted Emma to her feet.
"Why?" Emma frowned up at him. "Because he touched me?"
"Yes." Max ground out the word angrily. "No one should touch you but me or Jack. You're not some plaything for the other men to put their hands on."
"Are you jealous, Max?" Emma stroked his arm. She smiled sexily at Jack and touched his chest. "Honestly, after last night, the two of you don't need to worry. I'm not interested in having anyone else touch me but you two."
Heat sizzled through Jack's groin. Emma's impish smile and the way her fingers walked up and down his chest made him hard. How easy would it be to sneak a few kisses in the back of the helicopter without getting caught? She made him crazy with lust and need.
"Captain Stillwater? Major Cardwell?"
Max growled and stalked toward the open doors. "What?"
"Uh, sir, I think you've got a problem."
Jack didn't like the sound of that. He grabbed Emma and slid her behind him. He reached back and put his hand on her hip. "What is it, Max?"
"I don't know. Stay here." Max hopped from the helicopter and disappeared from view.
"Sh, Emma," Jack admonished. "I need to listen." He engaged his enhanced hearing and heard the smooth roll of tires and the squeak of brakes. Boots hit pavement. Irritated voices snapped back and forth.
Quarantine, Jack. They want to lock her up for seventy-two hours and do a proper intake.
Max’s message hit Jack like a punch to the gut. "Shit."
"What?" Emma's fear radiated through his chest. “What is it?”
He spun around and clasped her face between his hands. "Listen to me, Emma. We're going to be separated from you for a few days."
"What?” She recoiled in terror. “No!"
"Emma," Jack tried to quell her panic but it was no use. "It's standard procedure when there's been a big incident like this. They'll put you in a hospital room, run some tests and then let you go."
"No!" Tears filled Emma's eyes. "Please, don't make me go. I don't want to leave you or Max."
Guilt clawed at Jack. Emma had been raised to fear the government and all cyborgs. This must have been horrifying for her. "Emma, please, don't make this worse than it has to be. It's just temporary."
"Jack." Max's strained voice came from the open doorway behind them. "The med team is here for Emma."
Emma took a few steps back and looked as if she might try to bolt out the opposite door. That would only make things worse. Jack snatched her by the waist and lifted her, kicking and screaming, from the helicopter's floor and carted her out of the aircraft. She put up such a fight that he feared they would sedate her. "Emma, stop! Just calm down. It's only three days."
"You promised," she wailed pitifully. "You promised you'd protect me."
"We are," Jack said, his gut wrenching at the betrayal etched on her face
"Please, Jack," she sobbed. "Don't make me go with them."
Jack wanted nothing more than to run her straight to the home he shared with Max but it wasn't possible. There were rules and regulations. He wouldn't break them. "I'm sorry, Emma."
Jaw steeled, he handed her over to one of the medics decked out in full biohazard gear. Emma's shocked face broke his heart. She screamed as they tried to tie her down to a gurney. "Max! Max! Please, Max!"
Beside him, Max stood rigidly, his face emotionless. Emma was finally strapped onto the gurney and lifted into the back of the ambulance. The slamming doors cut of her terrified shrieks but Jack doubted they would ever stop echoing in his head. Feeling lower than low, he watched the ambulance speed away from the tarmac. Jack's heart sunk as he realized they had probably just lost her completely.
This was a betrayal Emma would never forget.
I'm back from my Lo writing break with something fun and new!
It's a really steamy (very sexy!) series built around menage (and more!) erotic romances between cyborg super soldiers and humans living in a post-apocalyptic Texas. And there are zombies!
This series will be published in serial format. A new installment of 150+ pages of action-packed erotic romance will be published every three weeks. I'm keeping the prices on these SUPER low. Each one will be 99 cents or FREE if you're part of Kindle Unlimited.
This serial is exclusive to Amazon (for now) but Amazon makes it really easy to read books with their Kindle Apps available on all devices and PCs. You can find out more here.
Keep an eye on my website and Facebook. Later this week, I'll be doing some print giveaways of EMMA: Part One and some of those cute little Dragon Heat paperbacks ARCs that Forever Yours put together for the Dragon Heat bundle earlier this year.
Oh--and I have a new release date for Wicked Dark Dragon! It landed in my inbox yesterday afternoon. :) Mad and Ivy will (finally!) have their story published on March 3, 2015!
Until then, you can cozy up with some hot cyborg menage to keep you warm and entertained this winter...
Emma Ramirez has her hands full just trying to hack out a living in the desolated Outlands of a post-apocalyptic Texas. Zombies, cyborgs and skin traders all threaten the small, isolated farm where she’s lived alone since her father’s death. Sporadic radio traffic and infrequent visits from trusted family friends provide her only contact with the outside world.
Until the day Max and Jack seek refuge inside the electrified fence that secures her land…
A violent horde of undead attacked the two dangerously sexy cyborg soldiers, and Emma can’t bear to turn them away from her gate. Once inside her fence, the pair of alpha military men seem hell-bent on claiming her as their woman and taking her back to Outpost Nine.
Tempted by the chance to experience all the wonderful things she has craved for so long, Emma accepts their offer of one wickedly sensual night under their skilled hands and talented mouths.
But one perfect night of pleasure between two cyborgs will change Emma’s life forever…
**Part One of the five part sexy scifi romance serial EMMA (Outpost Nine.) A new installment will be available every three weeks.**
Available now at Amazon
So I’ve made some short updates about my situation with Ellora’s Cave, but I haven’t gone into any details. Why not? Well—I was staying quiet while my literary attorney engaged EC on my behalf.
My days of staying quiet have come to an end. This is a long post so you may want to find a comfy chair and a drink.
Yesterday, on the Passive Voice blog, Tina Engler/Jaid Black (the owner of EC) posted that “…Ellora’s Cave has never sued an author…”
I’m going to take her at her word and assume that EC doesn’t want even more bad PR about lawsuits after the sh*t storm their current suit against Jane Litte at Dear Author has created. I’d like to think EC doesn’t want to add “sued mother of special needs child who uses her royalties to fund special needs trust that will keep autistic child with severe heart defects out of state run hell-holes after mommy dies” to their long list of PR flubs.
But, just in case, everything I post from this point forward is backed up by FACTS, screenshots and printouts of emails that I can share in court if I am sued, my bank records, tax returns, etc. You know, real paper and evidence.
I want to be clear here and say that I have been paid. I have been paid within the quarterly requirements in our contracts. Sometimes they toe right up against that line. For example, it is October and I haven’t received a royalty check since August. But as Lissa Matthews points out in this post, it’s hard to tell what, exactly, EC means by quarterly. This is probably why so many authors are stating they haven’t been paid and why Jaid/Tina is threatening to wave cashed checks in our faces. This does not, however, answer the question about editors who have not been paid. (Editors that I spoke to around noon CST today 10/03/2014 said that they still had not been paid what they are owed.)
But let me back up and start at the beginning…
In February 2014, I received my 2013 Form 1099 from Ellora's Cave. It included $13,354.79 worth of income that I did not receive in 2013. In fact, a few days *after* my 2013 Form 1099 arrived, a royalty check with a December 2013 date on it finally made its way into my mailbox. That’s right. A royalty check that was cut in December of 2013 took more than 6 weeks to arrive in my mailbox. The amount was enough to push me over the income limit for the next hop in tax rates so the IRS slapped my hand with a fine for underpayment.
The accounting firm that I use was not amused by this. They encouraged me to file a complaint with the IRS, but I declined. I paid the fine and the extra taxes. Clearly, I should have listened to the professionals. Hindsight, right?
There have also been quite a few raised eyebrows over the royalty check envelopes that arrive in my mailbox WITHOUT postage dates on them (more on this here and here) and the royalty checks that arrive 4-6 weeks AFTER the dates printed on the checks.
(These envelopes travel from Ohio to Texas, by the way. I actually have family and friends in Ohio. It takes 3 days or less for me to send or receive a birthday card, y’all. That’s all I’m saying.)
Yes, our EC contracts say they only have to pay us quarterly. That said, EC has always paid us monthly. I started writing for EC in 2007 and have always received monthly checks. Any time there was a slight delay in checks, The Powers That Be would use the EC Biz loop to reassure us that EC strives to pay monthly. If authors are reporting they have not been paid on time, it is because EC has always encouraged us to believe that monthly checks are in the mail. We have access to a schedule that shows when checks should be mailed and it is—you guessed it—monthly.
(Yes, I have screenshots and printouts of all of these messages.)
After weeks of complaining on the EC author loops (and in private email exchanges) about checks that we had expected to arrive late last year, we were notified on December 16, 2013 that our September 2013 royalties (normally mailed out mid-November) were going to be delayed due to the implementation of a "new accounting system." We were told that 90% of the royalty statements and checks had been mailed.
I received and deposited my September royalty check and statement (typically paid in November) on 12/23/2013.
On December 31, 2013, we were notified that the last of the September royalty checks had been mailed. We were also told that the October 2013 royalty statements and checks (usually mailed and paid in December) were undergoing verification because of the "new accounting system."
On January 17, 2014, we were notified that October 2013 royalty statements and checks were still delayed because of the "new accounting system." We were given no date to expect the mailing of those statements or checks. In the same notice, we were informed that even though the contracts require quarterly payments, EC had always paid monthly and intended to continue to pay monthly. We were also informed that the accounting department was extremely short-staffed.
On January 30, 2014, we were notified that the last of the October 2013 royalty statements and checks had been mailed. We were also informed that our November 2013 royalty statements and checks (typically mailed and paid in January) would not be processed or mailed until the end of February 2014.
On Feb 16, 2014, we were informed that "royalties were running late" (an exact quote, by the way, from an email that DOES NOT HAVE THE CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE ON THE BOTTOM) and that royalties were being calculated manually for 900+ authors.
On Feb 28, 2014, we were notified that November 2013 royalty statements were beginning to mail.
Payments became fairly regular after that until August. There were six weeks between my July and August checks arriving in my mailbox.
In early summer, there were rumblings about cover artists and editors not receiving payments. I’m pretty plugged-in to the publishing world via private loops and groups. When I began to hear that editors and artists weren’t being paid, I took a peek at my income spreadsheets and noticed that my EC checks were arriving a bit later and later each month.
My check amounts were fairly stable—but my more ravenous Roxie readers often check out my Lo books in between new releases. However, I knew from talking to other EC authors at RT and RWA that royalty checks were dwindling. As in, there were authors who couldn’t even take their kids to McDonald’s for Happy Meals.
As you can imagine, this made me extremely nervous and I began to look into my options by hiring legal counsel. But more on this later…
Because, not long after RWA, all hell broke loose.
In mid-August, I began hearing rumors of some big, ugly changes coming to EC. On a Monday morning, those rumors were confirmed by an email that eventually made it onto Dear Author
My editor, Julie N, was among those axed. I absolute adored working with Julie on the Grabbed books. She loved that world and showed so much enthusiasm on those projects. I was so incredibly saddened to see her go.
Now, this isn’t my first editor shuffle rodeo. In fact, during this same time period, my Dragon Heat series with Forever Yours/Grand Central had an editor switch. Of course, FY handled that change professionally by, you know, actually keeping me informed of what was happening, when to expect my new editor assignment, release dates, etc.
EC? Nothing. It has been two months since I lost my editor and EC has not sent me one single email about my editor situation. No editor has contacted me to say, “Hey, I’ve inherited you! Can you tell me the status of XYZ projects?”
But, that’s probably because we’ve been told that the remaining editors (there are three after managing editor Whitney M recently resigned) will select books from a pool. We have also been told that books will receive light edits with or without author input. (See D. Renee Bagby.)
At this point, I decided it was time to pull the plug. My reasons are fairly simple:
1) I signed contracts with EC in 2013 under the belief that EC would provide proper editorial support for my books. Giving my books LESS editorial attention than even my shortest self-published books is not what I signed up for, y’all.
2) I signed contracts with EC in 2013 under the belief that EC would provide proper packaging for my books. Slapping on a cover with no branding? (See EC’s Coming Soon page.)
3) I signed contracts with EC in 2013 under the belief that EC would provide marketing support. Using their website to sell cheap trinkets that have NOTHING to do with the EC brand? Alienating the entire romance community with a lawsuit against Dear Author and Jane Litte? Riling up book reviewers, bloggers and readers so badly that they have put EC books on their “DO NOT TOUCH WITH BARGE POLE” lists?
4) After receiving 6 checks in 10 months and the bad 1099, I began to worry about the safety of my intellectual property.
5) On principle, I want to know that the money my books earn actually reaches the editors and cover artist who made them perfect and beautiful.
I currently have four contracts on proposals for the next four books in the Grabbed series. These contracts provided no advance and have NO DELIVERY DATES on them. My contracts have a provision for termination for non-delivery so my attorney contacted EC and explained my reasons for wanting to terminate these contracts.
EC’s answer? No.
But not just no. It was NO with an added: we might consider a buy-out but the figure would be quite high and based on the “potential future income” of these books.
Now, let’s not even get started on how they would figure “potential future income” for books that do not even exist. How do they intend to value possible future sales for a constantly shifting market that EC clearly does not understand considering their Amazon sales have nose-dived when many of us have seen growth? After angering and alienating romance readers and bloggers and hurting the EC brand with their defamation lawsuit!
Here are the facts. These four books:
· Are unwritten (Raze is ¾ completed, the others consist of a half-page synopsis)
· Have never been submitted
· Have no editor to even accept the submission
· Paid me $0 in advance money
· Cost Ellora’s Cave $0 in production
My options at this point are:
1) I hire an expensive forensic accounting firm out of Houston (the type that dealt with Enron and Arthur Anderson) to dig into the royalty statements for my books at EC.
2) I pay whatever “high” sum EC demands for unwritten, unpublished, never been submitted, earned me $0 and cost EC $0 proposal contracts to be terminated.
3) I take advantage of the lack of delivery dates on these contracts and walk away.
Option 3 made me cry. It made me sick. It made me angry.
But it’s the right choice.
Most people know this, but for those who don’t: We have a special needs child who had two major heart surgeries before six months of age. She then had belly and mouth surgery at 2. Last year, she was diagnosed with autism and had a heart failure scare. 2014 has been another year of high medical costs and scary moments.
Most of my royalties from the books I write as Roxie and Lo go into a special needs trust that will provide for her future. Every penny that I spend on legal fees, an audit of the EC books or trying to buy-out these contracts is a penny that doesn’t go into mutual funds or life insurance policies that will give the absolute light of my life a bright and happy future.
Every minute that I spend fighting with EC or crying or stressing out about these books is a minute I’m not working on projects that make me happy—and books that readers enjoy. Books like Lo’s dragons or the sexy cyborg menage I’ve been writing or Roxie’s Russians and mobsters and rock stars.
It kills me to walk away from the Grabbed books, but for my family and for my emotional and physical health? I have to say no more. I have to walk away from this series.
To every reader I have disappointed: I am so very, very sorry.
To EC: I am so incredibly saddened our relationship of seven years ended like this.
And that’s my final word on EC.
If you would like to contribute to the legal fund for Jane Litte and Dear Author, you can donate here.
This isn't the update I wanted to make, but it needs to be done. In the last few weeks, the situation at Ellora's Cave (the publisher of the Grabbed series) has grown progressively worse. Because the powers that be haven't made any sort of official statement (other than the letter sent out when they laid off most of the editing and cover art staff,) we authors are totally in the dark about what is happening at EC headquarters.
(And, no, I don't count rambling FB messages from company representatives as official statements. Especially when those statements contain vulgar suggestions that those editors and artists who haven't been paid and authors who are waiting for royalty statements and payments go perform sex acts. And, yes, I have screenshots. )
Last week, after the Dear Author story broke, the COO and Managing Editor resigned. EC is operating on a skeleton staff of 2 or 3 editors, one cover artist and minimal office support. Several authors have received notices informing them that EC intends to publish their manuscripts with little or no (!) author input on edits.
This situation is intensely sad for me. I utterly adore the Grabbed series and the world I built for Vicious, Menace, Venom, Raze, Cipher, Terror, Torment, Orion, Zeph, Hazard, etc. After a long hard cry and a talk with the Viking and my lawyer, I have decided to put these books on hold. For a number of reasons, both financial and personal, I do not feel comfortable submitting the books.
I so wish I had better news to update. I am sitting here crying at my keyboard as I type this--but it had to be done. :/
If you are interested in reading more on the current EC situation, Tymber Dalton has a very informative post with links here.
There's no easy answer to that question. I've been hesitant to say anything because my number one rule is to *NOT* involve readers in the behind-the-scenes business drama.
Basically, the issue is this: The publisher of the Grabbed books is undergoing some restructuring at the moment. My editor was one of the editors and cover artists recently laid off. There are some other things going on that I'm not comfortable talking about in public so I'm going to leave it at that.
As soon as I have an update on the Grabbed books, I will share it. Until then, there isn't much I can say for various reasons.
What I can say is that my contracts allow me to write short stories in this universe so guess what I'm going to do until Raze, Cipher, Terror and Torment are released? That's right. I'm going to write FREE short stories for the couples in the first three books. (It's something I've done with my mob romance series I write as Roxie Rivera.)
I should have the new release dates for the Dragon Heat books--Wicked Dark Dragon and Renegade Dragon--soon. The editor of that series left for another publishing house during the summer, but I'm working with a new editor on wrapping up those two books. I'm also going to see what's going on with the free prequel I wrote...
Again--I'm so sorry for the radio silence on the Grabbed series, but I'm trying to be careful about how much I share.
So I've been swamped with work lately (juggling two pen names, especially one that hit the New York Times bestseller list 3 times in 5 weeks, is crazy hard) and sometimes I have to prioritize my day. I can spend time on social media--or I can write more chapters on my books. If it's a choice between writing about Terror or visiting Facebook, well, Terror wins hands-down.
But there's also another reason I went radio-silent on my Lo social media. Since last fall, I've been dealing with some not-so-fun behind-the-scenes shenanigans that put me in an incredibly difficult spot. Holding onto these Grabbed manuscripts gave me heartburn like you cannot even imagine because I write books to put them in readers' hands--->but I had to keep them here, on my desk, until I was absolutely sure that things weren't going pear-shaped.
I won't say more than that because I don't think it's right to involve readers in publisher-related drama. Plus, those of you who really want to know the chisme will use that Google-Fu to find the answers. ;)
So, I think (hope, really) that everything is a-okay now, and I will be submitting Stolen by Raze in a few weeks. Cipher will follow in early August, Terror and Torment a short time later. The moment I have release dates, you'll know. Until then--->
Here are the first two (unedited so excuse the typos!) chapters of Stolen By Raze!
The next two Dragon Heat books were also delayed--and this one was absolutely my fault. I sent back the manuscripts while I was on vacation in April but I got sidetracked with Roxie stuff (hitting the lists, hundreds of emails a day, etc) and forgot to follow up on them. Apparently airport wifi isn't so great, and I didn't find out until late May (during a run-in with my editor in the lobby of the RT hotel, actutally) that the books hadn't arrived on her desk. They're there now so the release dates will be shuffled forward a few weeks. Huge mea culpa for that one. It's totally on me.
Here are the first chapters (unedited so excuse any typos!) of Wicked Dark Dragon and Renegade Dragon.
The Dragon Heat 2-in-1 bundle is out today!
When the bundle hits 100 shelves on Goodreads, Forever Yours/Grand Central will release the Dragon Heat prequel Forever, Forbidden Dragon for FREE!
To shelve the bundle and get us one step closer to all this delicious dragon hotness, visit the Goodreads page here!
The bundle includes the first two stories in the super sexy paranormal romance Dragon Heat series. You can get your hands on this bundle at the following retailers (US and CA only at the moment.)
DEAD SEXY DRAGON
The last thing dragon shifter Stig Wyvern needs is his dead friend's kid sister showing up on his doorstep, especially since he's just minutes away from entering a mating phase. But Cora Cardenas has nowhere else to go. She's in deep trouble with some really nasty people and Stig is the only one who can protect her. Cora quickly realizes Stig is hiding something from her. To make matters worse, she's plagued with breathtakingly naughty dreams starring a shadowed lover who bears a startling resemblance to her host. And what the hell is going on in the basement at night? Stig needs to get Cora out of his house but his inner beast has other ideas. He's found his mate and she's not going anywhere.
RED HOT DRAGON
Griffin Cadogan is surprised when Avani Monroe, the sworn enemy of his dragon family, walks into his gym. With his mating phase approaching, the dragon shifter wonders why she risks coming into enemy territory. Yet the dark-eyed temptress shocks him even more with an outrageous demand: She wants him to help her have a baby. After her mother's dragon line was annihilated by the Knights, Avani vows to continue her unique dragon breed and Griff is perfect for the job. When they spar over the terms of her proposal, Griffin and Avani can't deny the intense, primal attraction they feel for each other. Soon lovers, the two discover the dragon slayers are coming . . .and they're gunning for Griffin, Avani, and the entire dragon race.