Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hot New Cover - Same Great Story

My cover designer, Suzie O'Connell of Wellman Creek Books has done it again. I asked her to update the cover for Deception, and here's what she came up with:

...and in case you haven't read Deception, here's the first chapter. Do I want you to buy it? You bet I do!  By the way, I'm offering this book at the greatly reduced rate of $0.99 during the week of December 9th, so mark your calendar.
Here are the Amazon Links:
And here's that first chapter:

Chapter One

“You want me to do what?” Justine froze, coffee cup in mid-air. “Why on earth would I do something like that?” Impossible as it seemed, her former college roommate could still surprise her.
“Come on, Justine. You’re in New York now. Besides, it will be fun…that’s why I agreed in the first place.” Olivia spotted a shrimp in her salad and speared it, undeterred by the horrified look on her friend’s face. “And you’d be doing me a huge favor by taking my place.”
“But Livvy. To parade myself in front of a group of strangers.” She shuddered. “Men, who would be bidding on me. It’s…” she groped for the right words. “It’s demeaning.”
“Nonsense. It’s for charity.” Olivia edged forward on her chair, suddenly serious. “Okay, here’s the deal. One hundred percent of what we raise goes directly to inner city children. Every penny, and they desperately need our help.” She broke into a brilliant smile. “Besides, since when have you been shy about parading around in front of people?”
“That was different.” Justine lowered her fork. “And in case you’ve forgotten, I quit modeling.”
Olivia searched her friend’s face. Justine had been tired when she arrived last night, and they hadn’t talked much. “Are you going to tell me why?”
Justine’s long, elegant hands were restless and Olivia’s instincts kicked in. A skilled journalist, she knew when not to press. She sat back quietly, waiting for her friend to speak.
“As they say on the talk shows, I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment.”  Taking a sip of mineral water, Justine’s gaze drifted over the other diners, but it was easy to see that her thoughts were somewhere else. “We were on a shoot in Central America. You know the type of place. Five star hotels filled with ‘beautiful’ people, designer shops in the arcade, breathtaking scenery, but the local people are so poor it makes your heart ache.” She watched a droplet of condensation roll down the side of her glass. “Anyway, we’d just completed a shot and they were setting up for the next one when I started to look around and it hit me. Here I was, getting paid more for one hour of work than some of those people earn in a year.” Her eyes flashed, and Olivia caught a glimpse of her friend’s passionate nature. “I was ashamed that I’d never considered it before.”
Olivia nodded. “I can see how that would get tiresome. After all, it must be tough being one of the most sought-after models in America, raking in all that money. Television shows. Print ads. Catalogs. Boring, boring, boring.”
“You’re missing the point.” Justine glared at her friend. “On purpose.”
“No I’m not.” Olivia raised an eyebrow, refusing to back down. “It’s just that you sound like you belong on daytime television, spilling your guts or something. But I’m glad you’re here.”
Justine eyed her friend affectionately. “I’m glad to see nothing has changed with you, Livvy. You still tell it like it is.”
“Is there any other way? Besides, we’ve been friends for too long.” Olivia lounged back in the comfortable chair. “You know, I can still remember the day we met at college. There you were, a tall, gangly California girl standing in the doorway with a piece of paper in your hand.”
Justine smiled at her friend. “And you. As English as the day is long. I was so envious of your beautiful complexion, I remember that.”
“But you had that tan. And that California body.”
“There! You see? It was always about the body. Nobody ever saw me.”
Her friend’s impassioned outburst made Olivia stop, but only for a moment. “Fair enough. But why did you quit?” Olivia’s brow furrowed. “You never really told me.”
Justine paused, gathered her thoughts. “In the beginning it was an exciting combination of hard work and glamorous locations. But it didn’t take long until I began to detest being treated like a commodity.” She slanted a glance at her friend. “Okay, I know what you’re thinking. A very high-priced commodity. But soon even the travelling became tiresome. You of all people can understand that, with the number of miles you log every month. Anyway, when Mom died I took some time off. It was wonderful. I hadn’t realized how much I missed going to art galleries and museums.” She spread her hands. “So I worked out all my contracts, tied up the loose ends and decided it was time I had a serious look at New York.”
Reaching across the corner of the table, Olivia placed her hand on Justine’s arm. “I’m sorry about your Mom, but I’m glad we’re finally here at the same time. Especially since my London editor has given me enough assignments over here to last three or four weeks. Those quick overnight visits we’ve managed to squeeze in over the past few years haven’t been enough. How long can you stay?”
“I’m not sure I want to stay, but I’ll have to find a place until I make up my mind. I hear that’s not an easy task.”
Olivia pulled back. “Don’t be a goose. You’ll stay here, with me. You’ve seen the size of the flat. Dad never uses it, and he’s made it clear that it’s mine for as long as I want. On the rare occasions that he comes to town he stays at his club.” She shook her head.
“What about your Mom? Doesn’t she use it?”
Olivia gave a short laugh. “Mummy doesn’t particularly like New York. She’s happy as a lark at home working on her charity events. I doubt that she goes into London more than a few times a year. I don’t understand her, but there you have it.”
“Don’t knock it. At least you have a mother.” Justine smiled weakly.
“Do you want to talk about it? About your mom?”
Justine shook her head. “I’m still finding it hard. It was such a shock when she died, and I’m just starting to get over it.” She lifted her coffee cup but didn’t drink, setting it down again with a trembling hand. “No, that’s not right. I’ll never get over it. She was everything to me, Livvy. I didn’t know my father, and somehow she made my life so complete that I never missed having one. When I look back now, I realize that all she ever wanted was for us to have a good life together. And we did.” She crumpled the linen napkin, her breath catching in her throat. “And to think that she died because of a drug that was supposed to help her. It’s not right. It’s just not right.” Tears streamed down her face.
“What did her doctor say?”
“He was useless.” She made a futile attempt to flatten the napkin in her lap. “He told me some story about PharmOmega being one of the most respected drug companies in the world, that they only release new drugs after extensive testing. You know how they all back each other up.” She raised her eyes to see her friend looking at her oddly. “Well they do, you know. It’s well documented. I even found out later that they withdrew the drug from the market. Now that should tell you something.”
Olivia nodded, unusually quiet.
Justine drew in a deep, ragged breath. “See? That’s why I shouldn’t talk about it. I get all carried away.”
“Not at all. Isn’t that what friends are for?” Olivia tugged on her earlobes. “Any time you feel the need to vent, I’m here. Two ears. No waiting.”
Justine smiled wistfully. “Remember how we used to say that? We thought we were so clever.”
“We were. The cleverest.” Olivia grew pensive. “You know, that year at Stanford was probably the best of my life. Sharing a flat with you was the icing on the cake.”
“It was fun, wasn’t it?” Justine smiled at her friend. “ more time. Tell me about this auction.”
Olivia leaned forward eagerly, glad of an excuse to change the subject. “I wish I could say it was my idea, but it wasn’t. I’m in favor of anything that will encourage people to donate to this particular charity.” She signaled for more coffee. “Stephanie and Rand Brampton are hosting a party at their estate in the Hamptons. He’s a brilliant investment banker, and Steph is a dear. You’ll like them, I’m sure. Anyway, it’s tomorrow night. There are fifteen women in the auction, and the successful bidder takes his prize to dinner. What could be simpler than that?”
Justine still wasn’t convinced. “I don’t know why, but it makes me uncomfortable.” She shot a sudden look at her friend. “What do we wear?”
“There are no rules. Wear anything you like. Whatever will make them bid the most for the pleasure of your company. You can even be anonymous if you like.” She shot an impish grin at her friend.
Justine was intrigued. “And how would I accomplish that?”
“The women to be auctioned will be wearing masks as they circulate among the other guests. Isn’t that a hoot? I thought it sounded like fun, that’s why I agreed.”
“A mask? What had you decided on, Elvis or Nixon?”
“No, silly. Beautiful, elegant masks. Beaded, feathered, sequined…you name it. Feminine masks. And if they wish, the women can continue the charade when they go out to dinner.”
“Oh sure.” Justine shot a wry glance at her friend. “Can’t you just see me walking into Le Cirque with a mask on?”
Olivia frowned. “I hadn’t thought that far ahead, but I can see where that would present a problem. Why, were you thinking you’d stay anonymous? That is if you agreed to do it,” she added quickly.
Justine picked up the dessert menu and pretended to study it. In spite of her initial reaction, a shimmer of excitement rippled down her spine. It was the sensation she’d sometimes get at a shoot, when everything came together to create what she knew would be a memorable picture. She had to admit that the idea of the auction was starting to appeal to her. “Is there anything else I should know?”
“That’s about it. Of course I’ll have a car for you. That way, you can be independent and come home anytime you like. The ‘date’ for want of a better word, is to be arranged between you and the successful bidder.”
“What type of men are they likely to be?”
“If Steffi has anything to do with it, they’ll all be perfectly respectable. CEOs, investment types, entrepreneurs. Your average run-of-the-mill millionaires.”
“Okay, I’ll do it.” Justine leaned forward, eyes sparkling. “I’ll take your place, but I don’t want anyone to know I’m your friend. And since I can be anonymous, I’d like to take it one step further and become someone else. You know, make myself up to look different. I could change my eye color with contacts.” She fingered her hair, a soft ash blonde. “I’ll curl my hair and put in some color. There’s an amazing new product that washes out. I only wish you were doing it too.”
“That’s the trouble with being a journalist. Opportunities rarely come along when it’s convenient. This rock group is the hottest in the country right now, and when I asked their manager if I could travel with them to their next concert it was just a shot in the dark. I had no idea he’d agree. It’s a great scoop, and my editor’s delighted.”
“He should be. I’ve read everything you’ve written, and you’ve done some great stuff.” Pausing, she cocked her head. “What’s the group’s name again?”
“They’re called Inside Out.” Olivia shrugged. “Makes you wonder who comes up these names.”
Justine tapped her teeth thoughtfully. “Speaking of names, that’s another thing I can do. I’ll call myself something different.” She thought for a moment. “How about Jasmine? It’s close enough to my name that I’m quite sure I’ll remember to respond.”
“It’s brilliant.” Olivia clapped her hands. “You’re a natural.”
Justine laughed. “We’ll see about that. When do you leave?”
Olivia consulted her PDA. “The band’s charter leaves at eight thirty tomorrow night. Not too long after you leave for the Hamptons. I’ll be able to help you get ready.”
* * *
Justine gazed at herself in the mirror, pleased with the transformation. Her eyes glowed with an almost feral cast from green contact lenses. A riotous mass of curls tumbled about her face and shoulders, rich auburn with gold highlights. Skillfully applied blush skimmed her high cheekbones, and tawny lipstick shimmered on her generous lips. She looked familiar and yet different. Slightly exotic…that was it. She turned to face her friend.
“The car is here.” Olivia stopped in the hall, speechless for once.
“Well, what do you think?” Justine did a slow pirouette. “Will I pass?”
Olivia swallowed. “For a moment there I didn’t recognize you.” She circled her friend, eyes alight. “I always knew you were a chameleon, and this proves it.”
Justine waved the delicate mask that matched her outfit. “Even so, I’m glad I can hide behind this.”
“Just remember to have fun.” Olivia hovered in the open doorway, still staring at her friend. “Have a good time, Justine, and thanks for going in my place.”
A soft ‘ping’ announced the arrival of the elevator. “Olivia?”
The doors opened soundlessly and Justine stepped inside, an enigmatic smile flirting with her lips as the elevator doors closed. “Call me Jasmine.”
Olivia closed the door and walked slowly back into the apartment. It was good to be alone, to have a moment to think. There’d been little time for thinking in the whirlwind of packing and getting Justine ready for the party.
She wandered to the large windows overlooking Central Park but she didn’t see the spectacular view. Ever since Justine’s anguished outburst over lunch yesterday, she’d been torn between two loyalties. Loyalty to her friend, who had so recently lost her mother, and loyalty to someone she’d known and admired since childhood – Alexander Melrose, the CEO of PharmOmega. She breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that Alex had declined her invitation to attend the auction.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

And the Last Two Covers Are...

Brush With Destiny.
This story is close to my heart, as I love the Gulf Islands off the coast of British Columbia. They're wild, beautiful and sophisticated all at once, and are positioned in an area where Orca pods J, K and L can be seen. The romance is sad in some parts, but it's also uplifting, and ultimately satisfying. I hope you agree.

Here's the Amazon link:

The Reluctant Rockstar

The Badlands of Alberta make a wonderful setting for a romance about a journalist and a palaeontologist who shuns interviews. The story is peopled with interesting characters, as well as being set in Canada's dinosaur country. Just enough technical stuff to make it interesting, without interfering with the romance. I hope you'll give it a try.

Here's the Amazon link:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sometimes I Surprise Myself

No kidding. I can still do that!
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’d thought that my five books with my former publisher would languish and eventually fade away. I was ready to accept that, albeit reluctantly.
  As a goodbye gesture, I re-read them, just before Amazon’s Montlake Press took them over. And surprise, surprise, these are great story lines! Yes, there are the traditional romantic entanglements, but the stories are fresh and unique. I’m proud of them, and now even moreso, with Montlake’s new covers.  Here are two more:

But Not For Me
Many of us can relate to this story. Erin is a chef, and frankly, a little heavier than she’d like to be. She accepts a new position at a floating fishing lodge on the West Coast of British Columbia. On the way there, the boat she’s traveling in sinks, and she’s stuck with three other people on the beach. I like this one, and am so happy to see it revived.
Here’s the link:

The Shell Game
I was inspired to write this one when I visited cottage country in Ontario. The Muskokas are famous as boating and cottage country, and my husband grew up in the area. Rebecca inherits a bed and breakfast lodge when her grandmother dies, but her wily grandmother has left a surprise:  She must share it with the man who broke her heart on the night of her school graduation. Fun, light, and ultimately romantic, it’s a great story.
Here’s the link:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thank You, Montlake Press

It's been about a year and a half since Amazon acquired my former publisher. To be honest, I hadn't expected that those five books would see the light of day again. Boy! Was I wrong about that.
  As you can imagine, it's been a huge undertaking for Amazon's Montlake division (romance) to get a handle on all those books. As one of their many authors, I requested that they consider creating new covers for my books. Let's be honest, the old covers were some of the worst ever designed.
  Just today, Montlake has completed the new designs and uploaded them to the Amazon sales pages. They've done a great job in branding my books so they're recognizable as being from the same author. Great job, Montlake.
   My worst cover - hands down - was for my last book for that publisher: The Gift. Here's the new cover they gave it. So attractive... and it's actually a scene from the book. I've always liked this story; it takes place just north of where I live now, on a large lake known all over North America for houseboating.
  If you'd like to check it out, here's the link on Amazon.