Sunday, January 1, 2017

Top Moments of 2016 Plus a Contest!

Top 10 Moments of 2016

Let’s face it. 2016 has been a hard year and many of us are ready to start 2017. But before we jump into January, I wanted to take a quick minute to celebrate some of the high moments I’ve experienced. It feels like a good omen before a brand new year, and I hope it will get you thinking about the joys YOU experienced this year too.
Without further ado, heres my list of 2016 top moments!
1)     Signing a new literary agent! I got an amazing agent and she has changed my life. I feel like I’ve got a real teammate for the first time! When I was first getting started in this business, I was young and inexperienced. This year, I knew I had to be brave and make a change. It wasn’t easy but now I have someone who really supports me and who isn’t afraid to shoot for the moon! Learning to stand up for myself and my career was an important lesson I learned this year.
2)     Taking the plunge and self-publishing my first full-length book. I’d done two novellas on my own, but they weren’t as scary as releasing a full book. Sometimes you have to go after your dreams, even if it’s scary and unfamiliar! As a self-published artist, this means grasping publicity, marketing, design, formatting and sales techniques. There’s still so much to learn but I’m proud of what I accomplished this year.
3)     Meeting and working with some amazing new cover artists!!! My mission this year to find great artists that didn’t break the bank and I was successful! I hope my other author friends will do the same!
4)     Winning a contest to write a book in a castle for the month of November in Southern France.
5)     Signing a 3-book dragonshifter series with St. Martin’s Press. (I can’t wait to write them!)
6)     Spending Christmas with my grandparents and discovering old family films from the 1950s that my great-grandfather had made and getting to see my grandparents when they were teenagers in rural Nebraska. Sometimes it’s easy to forget where you came from when you are always looking forward in life. Watching these old movies and seeing my family’s past in a rare and priceless way, learning of their struggles and their lives, it reminded me of where my own strength comes from and it made me even more determined to keep fighting for my dreams.
7)     Rescuing a new wheaten terrier puppy, Evie, and making her a part of our family.
8)     Growing the League of Rogues fan page with so many amazing new fans who are all becoming good friends! I’m one of the luckiest authors there is to have so many readers who love my characters as much as I do. Getting to chat on Facebook with these readers and sharing my writing life with them has been incredibly special. It’s so easy for writers to feel lonely but knowing I can pop onto Facebook and chat with my team is simply the best part of my day!
9)     Finishing a rough draft on a sci-fi romance, which I something I’ve wanted to do for ages but finally had the courage to write. It was quite a challenge! I try to never let something intimidate me for long. If I have an idea for a book, even if I’ve never written a certain style before, I go after it. Life is too short to let fears and anxiety rule you. I’ve been pushing to be this stronger, braver version of myself this past year.
10)   Reading each and every email, Facebook message and text message from fans who love my books, especially the League of Rogues series and mailing over 300 Christmas cards to fans including fans countries like Croatia, Belgium, Austria, New Zealand, Germany, Singapore, Brazil, South Africa, China, England, Canada and France!!

I cant say enough how much readers and fans have made a difference in my life this year; many of the items on this list would not have been checked off without you. You all have changed my life, made it amazing in ways I couldnt have dreamed before now and I feel blessed and honored that were taking this amazing journey together as I write and you read. Its magical and special and a gift I can never thank you enough for.

Let’s make 2017 amazing! 

**Giveaway** 5 winners will win one signed print book of their choice from me. International Winners will receive an ebook.
To enter: Share one wonderful top moment from your 2016 year in the comments below!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Writing about Dragons and dreaming of castles in France

Writing about Dragons and dreaming of castles in France

Goal: To go to Saint-Sylvestre-sur-Lot, France from October 25th to November 23rd

Reason: I’m in the midst of writing three back to back dragon shifter romances that take place in England, Russia and America and I’m dying to explore the creative backgrounds that a beautiful and inspiring setting like a castle in France could give me.  I’m entering an AWESOME contest hosted by Derek Murphy who is giving a few lucky authors the chance to win a coveted spot in his castle for the month of November to go crazy for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). If you want a chance to enter you can find Derek’s Contest Page here .
So what would be my exciting story be? The second story in my dragon shifter romance series. Here’s the book set up (since I haven’t written it yet).

A good dragon never leaves his hoard of jewels unwatched…
Mikhail Barinov had one duty to his family: As the second eldest in an ancient line of Russian dragon shifters, he is honor bound to secure and protect the hoard of gold and jewels his family has amassed over the centuries. But there’s one little problem…the hoard of jewels was lost almost five centuries ago in Elizabethan England when Mikhail was distracted while seducing a virgin queen. Exiled by his family until he can return the jewels, Mikhail is determined to find them and bring them home by any means necessary. When a shocking discovery of buried jewels in a construction site in London exposes the missing hoard, Mikhail races to England to steal back his family’s precious gems.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend…
Piper Linwood has a thing for diamonds, well not just diamonds - all that glitters is gold is her motto. As a professional gemologist, she travels the world to attend famous auctions as jewelry specialist. When London announces the discovery of a hoard of jewels, she is called into to assess the gems and their value. But her job is put into jeopardy when a mysterious, brooding man kidnaps her and forces her to help him steal the jewels from the auction house. Piper travels with her captor, Mikhail, all the way to Russia where she learns that the dragon tattoo on his back is more than just a symbol. It’s a living, breathing part of the sexy, irresistible bad boy she’s starting to fall for. But she has to find a way to escape him and return to the jewels to England no matter the cost, even if it means betraying the man she’s come to love.

I can’t wait to immerse myself in European history considering how much of it will be based in Elizabethan England. I also get to research gems and I get to explore the history of the Real Cheapside Hoard that was discovered in the 1920s which I am basing the present day discovery in my book on (to read more about this amazing find go here.

Want a sneak peak of my rough draft of book one? Keep reading! And please pardon typos!

**Exclusive First Look at the FIRST Barinov Dragon Book**
The Russian State Library was a beautiful architectural cross between Soviet era design and classical design, which called back the days of the Czars. Housing over 17.5 million books, was one of the world’s largest libraries. The smell of musty books and recently cleaned marble steps inside the library were a welcome mix of aromas that always calmed Madelyn. Having world of infinite stories at her fingertips was exciting and reassuring. But she wasn’t here to see their vast array of novels. She was here for one book. A heavily guarded book that required supervision whenever it was handled.
Madelyn walked up the white stairs into the upper decks of the library, her eyes dancing from the blue marble columns to be in the stacks of books. She kept walking and left the modern rooms behind so she reached a wing of the library that housed antiquarian book collections. One of the collection areas was a beautiful room that was two stories tall with gleaming walnut bookcases illuminated by hanging golden globes of light. A slightly domed ceiling was painted with scenes of Greek mythology, the gods on Olympus displaying their power and might.
The security guard stood at the back of the room by a small sign in desk and he waved her over.
“Good morning, Miss,” he replied in English with a heavy accent.
Madelyn smiled. She’d been relieved to discover that many of the guards were fluent in English to a degree. Despite her scholarly background, she had no head for languages.
“I’d like to check out this book please.” She retrieved a small piece of paper with the name of the book in English and Russian in its location on the shelves. The guard read the card and then his brown eyes looked from it to her face, studying her.
“This book? You are sure?” he asked, his voice oddly hushed and his face drained of color. He pushed a security badge on his chest with one finger as though he’d done it a thousand times when nervous.
“Yes. That one.” Madelyn assured him.
But now she was feeling anxious. She’d checked out several books yesterday but hadn’t discovered this particular book until she was pouring over the ancient collection of card catalogues that looked as though they’d been written half a century before. There on the yellowed paper of the cards, in ink that was turning brown, she’d read the name of the book My Year With Dragons. The library had been about to close and she only had time to scribble down the book’s information before a guard politely escorted her out of antiquarian collection area. The guard stared at the card again and then nodded. “Dah, okay, we get you the book.” He pointed to a small research table near one of the vast glass windows.
“Sit, please.” Then he took a card and walked over to the shelves on the opposite side of the room.
While he retrieved the book, Madelyn set out her notebook and pens, her hands shaking. Why was the guard so hesitant to give her the book? From the book’s description in the card catalogue that she’d be able to translate, it was a memoir from an English man who spent time in Russia, there was no political or social discourse in it that could prompt a Russian security officer to be concerned… But he had been. The man looked ill at the thought of fetching that book…
She peeped at the guard from the corner of her eye. He unlocked a glass case on one of the shelves, his head cocked to the side as he squinted at the titles on the spine. Then he used his index finger to gently tug a shorter leather bound book free of the case. Once he had the book in his hands, he didn’t immediately come over to her. For several seconds he stood there, holding the book and staring at her, before he finally walked over.
“Please be careful. This is special book.” He held out the leather bound tome and Madelyn accepted it. Her skin tingled as she felt the smooth leather in her palms but she hid the reaction. The guard nodded at her again and then walked back to his station.
Madelyn’s skin continued to tingle as she lifted up the book to get a closer look. The cover was thick leather and not made marked with any titles or identifying marks except two initials in the right bottom corner J.B. Madelyn smoothed her fingertips over the initials and then opened the front cover. There on the front page was the title written in pen and ink. Not in typeface.
My Year With Dragons – A personal collection of observations about my time spent with the Barinov family by James Barrow. Dated 1821.”
Madelyn whispered the words. It was written in English, and James Barrow, that name could be English or American. She held the book in one hand and made a note in her notebook before she turned to the next page. Her heart stuttered to a stop in her chest.
Three pencil sketches depicted the faces of three different men. Names were scrawled beneath each intimate portrait.
Grigori, Mikhail and Rurik. The Barinov Brothers.
She studied the sketch of Grigori, fascinated by the handsome face, the pale hair and light eyes. There was a melancholy beauty to his lips, and almost rueful smile barely hinted in the drawing as though he had sat still long enough to assist the artist but as soon as he was able, he’d move again. The second man Mikhail seemed more brooding, his hair dark and his eyes almost black. He seemed worried, but he too was beautiful. In the last Rurik, had dark hair and mischievous eyes, with a playful, charming grin on his lips that outshone the white scar the dropping from above his right eyebrow down to his cheek as though he’d been slashed.
It was Grigori that Madelyn’s eyes came back to over and over. Something about his face…like a half-remembered dream. Deep inside her, there was a stirring, as though a part of herself she never knew existed had come awake.
“Grigori,” she test his name upon her lips, finding she liked the way it sounded, the syllables strong and yet soft.
She needed to have this sketch. The compulsion to possess his likeness was too strong. She glanced about the room and saw the guard was on his phone, texting and not looking her way. Sneaking her cell phone out, she flicked the camera application on and snapped a hasty picture of each of the brothers before she put it back in her purse. Hands trembling she turned the page again, forcing herself to look totally calm and not like she’d been taking photographs of a protected manuscript.
The next page it was a diary entry dated March 16, 1821.
“Dragons are real…” The first words of the entry made her body shiver and the sudden chill shot down her spine. She forced herself to keep reading and couldn’t help but wonder what James Barrow meant. Dragons weren’t real, at least not in the fire and brimstone sense.
“I met the Barinov brothers in Moscow and learned they were not mortal men... they were possessed of strange abilities. The touch of fire, the breath of smoke, the eyes that glowed...”
If you like what you read, please comment on and share my post and visit Derek Murphy’s page to enter if you’re a fellow author!

Thank you for stopping by my blog!!