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Archive for June 23rd, 2014

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Former model Kelly Hurley has finally put the ashes of the past behind her. After a passionate but turbulent marriage to rock star Vaughan Hurley that ended in heartbreak and divorce, Kelly rebuilt her life in Portland, where she settled so their two young daughters could be close to their father. Just not so close Kelly couldn’t truly make her own way without interference from the man who shattered her heart. Now Kelly’s finally ready to move on, and she’s planning to marry another man.

But not if Vaughan has anything to say about it.

Vaughan knows he was a fool all those years ago. A young, selfish—and prideful—fool. Even as he buried himself in the fast, decadent rock star lifestyle, he could never drown out the memory of Kelly’s beauty and love. Or the sweet, searing heat whenever they touched. For years, he’s had to deal with the pain of seeing her only because of their daughters, but it was never enough. Now Vaughan must prove that he’s the only man Kelly needs, before he loses her for good. And there’s only one way to do it….

www.laurendane.com

Coming out March 2015

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CARINA_0614_-9781426898518_UpToMe (1)Ella Mayhew’s always appreciated the beautiful view of Seneca Lake from the spa window of her family’s hotel. But the view improves dramatically when a hot stranger runs across the grounds—shirtless. He’s the first man to kickstart her hormones in the three years since she lost her parents, and she doesn’t even know his name.

Graydon Locke’s on his umpteenth undercover assignment. The routine’s always the same: assess a business, recommend it for closure, then roll out before anyone discovers his decisions impact hundreds of lives. He’s always believed nothing good comes out of small towns. Why would this one be different? Then he makes two classic rookie mistakes—falling for the sweet, sexy girl who owns the very business he’s on the verge of axing. And letting the town’s residents get involved in both his life, and his relationship with Ella.

Ella’s the best thing to ever happen to Gray, but he’s lied to her from the start. If he pulls the plug on Mayhew Manor, the entire town may crumble. Ella couldn’t save her parents, but it’s up to her to save their hotel. Even if that means turning her back on true love.

 

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The Good, Hard Fun of a Trilogy

I think writers love starting a new book as much as readers do. There’s all that initial rush of excitement over the idea, and all the possibilities and the fun of scrolling through fifteen websites full of hot guys to base your hero on (at least, that’s my process). A million decisions start to crowd your brain, the plot being the least of them. Choosing what sort of houses your characters live in, and the color/design schemes of them, and what does the bedroom look like (super important) and what do their offices look like? Where did they go to college and what year did they graduate, because there will be a single sentence hidden somewhere in 100,000 words that will mention this and your editor will notice and the timeline will be wrong. And coming up with outfits for every character (including the single paragraph walk-ons) in every scene—it’s just like costuming a movie.

But all of that happens with every book. Today I’m chatting about the difference it makes when you’re kicking off a trilogy with that new book. It boils down to two things: planning ahead and keeping track as you go. Because you’re going to write all these awesome personal tidbits into book one…and then maybe go write something else. A Christmas book. A proposal for another series. Or – shock/gasp/double eye blink – you might even take a vacation. Or the most basic reason – when you write a book of 100,000 words, you don’t actually remember all of them.

A trilogy = three main love stories. In all of my books, those revolve around a tightly-knit group of friends. In my new Shore Secrets trilogy, Piper and Ward are the main love story for book 3. Tiny spoiler alert: they dated in high school, had an epic, not-revealed-until-book-3 breakup, but are still friends ten years later, when book 1 begins. Why does that matter? Because from the very start of Up To Me (#1), Piper and Ward snipe at each other. All their friends know to sit in between them at lunch, or to let them snarl it out instead of getting involved. This rubbing each other the wrong way’s got to continue and be somewhat re-introduced in book 2, before rolling out the full story in book 3. Does it matter at all to the main love plot between Ella and Graydon of Up To Me? Heck, no. But I had to plan ahead, and start sowing the seeds, in order to give the reader more of a payoff when I finally get to Piper and Ward’s book. I do it ALL for you guys!

As for keeping track of things, here’s a snippet of an example:

Ward pushed off the couch, gingerly tested his jaw. “‘Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.’”

Surprise almost tripped him halfway to the door. Not what Gray expected from the small-town, flannel-wearing man with muscles that looked like he could bench press a dump truck. “Did you seriously start the night with a bar fight, and now you’re ending it by quoting Robert Frost?”

“I’m a man of many sides.” Ward stroked his neat beard, a cartoonish impression of an ancient philosopher contemplating the human condition. Then he burst out laughing. “My friend Casey thinks I don’t read enough. She gave me a quote-a-day calendar for Christmas. That’s today’s. No clue if I’ll remember it by next week. Impressed you recognized it, though.”

“In college, I used to memorize lines of poetry to impress women.”

“Did it work?”

“Often enough that I still remember most of them.”

That’s a total throw-away, funny thing I stuck in waaaaay at the beginning of Up To Me. And yep, I forgot about it until I did copy edits on that book. Whereby I promptly made a note to be sure to have Ward spout off at least one more funny quote in book 2, and a whole bunch of ‘em in his book. This will be super fun for me to weave in, and hopefully fun for the readers as well. So while it is definitely more work to connect all the dots throughout a trilogy, the satisfaction on all sides makes it worthwhile.

What’s your favorite part of a trilogy?

 

Excerpt

“Come do yoga with me tomorrow.”

“I’m a guy. We’re all about being hard and stiff, not soft and bendy.”

Ella blinked rapidly to clear the images of a naked, hard-muscled Gray that popped into her mind. And hardness…other places. “Don’t be so close-minded. Didn’t you end up enjoying the massage I gave you?”

“Yes.” He sounded adorably sulky at being forced to acknowledge it. Why was it that men found it so hard to admit when they were wrong? Definitely a topic of discussion for her next margarita night with the girls.

“See? You can’t dismiss something out of hand without at least trying it.”

Gray wrinkled his nose. “Do I have a choice?”

“No.” Ella brought up her other hand to cup his face. “You deserve to be looked after. It’s not much, I know, but let me help you in the only way I can.”

“I’ll do it—”

Ella bounced a little. “Terrific.”

“—on one condition. I’ve just come up with a good plan for stress release. Let’s try my way first.” Gray wove his fingers through the loose knit of her turquoise sweater. In one swift move, he pulled it off over her head and tossed it into the corner. “Come swimming with me. Right now.”

Was he serious? To stall for time while she processed the preposterous suggestion, Ella stammered, “We…we don’t have suits.”

“You said the pool’s still officially closed. No one will interrupt us.” He toyed with the strap of her matching tank. “You’ve got this thing. I’m wearing boxer briefs. We’ll be more covered up than in suits. Unless you don’t think you can control yourself around me?”

That was it in a nutshell. Not that she’d admit it to Gray. Not when he had that sharp eyebrow arched and a smug quirk to his lips. If he was trying to shock her…well, he had, no denying that. But what better way was there to embrace life fully than to embrace a dripping wet, mostly naked Gray? While she’d never work up the courage to tell him, this was the kind of activity Dr. T. would probably applaud. Or at least give her a gold star. He had asked her to email him with progress reports if anything big happened. Unable to resist, she glanced down at Gray’s crotch. Ella expected something very big, indeed, was about to happen.

“Water’s extremely therapeutic,” she said in her most serious, I’m massaging you but not judging your naked body in any way professional voice. “Swimming is a good counterpart to yoga. They use the same long muscles.”

Yup. Her matter-of-fact delivery dropped his eyebrow back to its usual straight line and wiped the smug from his lips. Ella kept the surprises rolling. She stood, unbuttoned her skirt and let it slide the floor into a big blue puddle. Then she reached out, grabbed his wrist, and yanked him sideways into the pool with her.

The simultaneous body flops slapped noise and water all around the room. Ella recovered first, treading water while waiting for Gray to get his bearings and surface. Keeping her head above water was easy. Breathing, however, was not, as she was laughing her head off at catching him off guard. Finally, with much thrashing and churning of the water, Gray popped up near the middle of the pool.

“What the hell?” he yelled, his voice bouncing off the rocks with a hollow echo. “I’m wearing clothes!”

“So take them off,” she yelled back. Geez, it was his idea. Ella had just implemented it without talking it to death first. She’d thought he’d appreciate her spontaneity.

Gray stared at her for a minute, totally unreadable. Then his head disappeared beneath the water again. In fact, he sank straight to the bottom. It worried her. But just until a heavy, sodden pair of jeans landed like a giant blue spitwad in front of her. Laughing, she tossed them over her shoulder in the general direction of their shoes. Then Gray’s shirt appeared, floating near the filter. Something she’d have to remember to retrieve before morning when maintenance would make their final sweep before reopening the pool.

She felt Gray first. His head brushed against her stomach. Using her body like a swim ladder, he climbed it with his hands until just those brilliant blue eyes broke the surface. Blinked at her once. Then he tilted his head back and arced a stream of water from his lips to the dead center of her forehead. Laughing even harder, Ella reached under his shoulders to pull him the rest of the way up.

That’s when the laughter stopped. When buoyancy slammed his oh my God so hard cock right against her. When it was the most natural thing in the world to wrap her legs tight around him to keep him nestled against all her heat and what felt like every freaking nerve ending in her body. And when she twined her arms around his neck just for the thrill of rubbing her breasts across his chest.

With two powerful kicks, Gray propelled them to the wall. He sandwiched Ella against it and hung on to the rocks to keep them both afloat. “I’m on board with your idea. As you can tell.” He ground against her in a way that absolutely proved not only that he was enthusiastic about stripping, but that there was definitely nothing between them other than two thin, skintight layers of cotton. Gray’s impressive length was no longer just an impression or wishful thinking. It was hard and long and she couldn’t wait to impale herself on him. For now, she locked her ankles together and let the water do most of the work of bobbing her up and down in a rhythmic, full-body caress.

Water glistened at the tips of his lashes. Ella kissed it away, then just kept heading south. Over his early-evening stubble. Down past the Adam’s apple that jerked reflexively. She’d always thought them sexy. So uniquely masculine.

A nibble in the hollow of his collarbone. Down till her lips were just underwater, closed around his nipple. Ella flicked it against her teeth. Gray…growled? Whatever the noise was, it came from deep inside him and turned her core body temperature up by about twenty percent.

 

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Bio: Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.  A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning.  Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance.  Christi is President of the Maryland Romance Writers and lives in Maryland with her husband.

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For the chance to win a digital copy of Up to Me by Christi Barth just leave  a comment below. Good luck!

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