Monday, May 25, 2015

The Brightest Day: An Inside Look into "Amazing Grace"

It's 1866.
The war is over.
Slavery has ended.

But the story is just getting started...

In 1 week, THE BRIGHTEST DAY will be released! In this historical romance anthology, which features my historical novella, Amazing Grace, Gracie Shaw can't deny her desire for former Confederate soldier Logan Finley. She is torn between fulling her promise or following her heart and he is eager to start a new life--with her.

Their relationship was inspired by real life interracial couple Albert and Lucy Parsons. Lucy, a former slave married Albert, a former Confederate soldier, during the time of Reconstruction and together they spoke out against the continued injustices of newly freed slaves, women suffrage, and poor laborers.

In Amazing Grace, both Gracie and Logan are boarded on a train headed west and below is an excerpt where Gracie finally meets the mysterious man watching her sing the day before:
“Excuse us, sir.” When the man didn’t acknowledge them, Mrs. Dobson cleared her throat and not so subtly nudged his leg with her knee.
The man finally pulled back his hat, and Gracie drew in a sharp breath. At the small sound, the man swung his gaze to her, and the breath she forgot to release remained lodged in her throat. She recognized the cool, penetrating gaze from yesterday. It was the same man who had been watching her from the courtyard, whose gaze she had felt before she had even seen him. His beard-covered jaw was much sharper and prominent than she anticipated.
But it was his eyes that drew her. Standing only inches away from him, she could finally make out their color.
That’s what they reminded her of. They were the color of fresh firewood—a dark, tawny brown that held the same kind of heat. Even now, as he moved his gaze over her like a warm caress.
“Do you mind, sir?” At Mrs. Dobson’s pointed question, the man slowly removed his legs from the seat across from him. “Thank you,” she murmured stiffly.
The man inclined his head, but never took his eyes off Gracie. Her cheeks warmed at his assessment, and she averted her eyes as she followed Mrs. Dobson into the narrow space. To her dismay, the older woman took the seat at the window, across the man, forcing Gracie to sit beside him as Madeline came up behind her and took the seat across from him.
Gracie tried not to make a big deal over the seating arrangement, though she tried to create as much distance as she could in the close space. The wide skirt of her new dress, however, still brushed against his long legs. Her betrothed had been generous with his money, providing an advance to her family, a donation to the church, and additional funds for her to purchase whatever supplies she would need. Mrs. Dobson had made sure the majority of that money went to new dresses and boots. Whatever had been left over, Gracie used to fill one of her trunks with books.
“Are you comfortable, Ms. Gracie?”
Gracie whipped her head around and stared at the stranger. She could only imagine the stunned expression on her face. How…? Then she realized he must have been standing among the crowd the entire time she’d been on that stage with Reverend Mavis.
“Yes,” she finally managed. “Thank you.” There was a hint of awareness in the man’s gaze that again held her captivated.
Mrs. Dobson deliberately cleared her throat and the corner of the man’s lips quirked into a slight smile. Something in Gracie’s belly fluttered.
“Have you two met?”
At Mrs. Dobson’s abrupt question, Gracie tore her gaze from the man’s and brought it to the older woman’s suspicious glare. Her face was paler than usual, most likely from their dash to board the train, but her eyes were clear and sharp.
“Yes, ma’am,” the man said. “I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Gracie sing yesterday.”
“During the celebration,” Gracie added, feeling the need to explain her unusual acquaintance with this stranger. She didn’t even know his name and yet felt as if they had just been caught in a secret.
Mrs. Dobson sized him up, her lips pursed and her moss-green eyes watchful. “Well, since you were gracious enough to allow us to sit with you, it’s only proper that we formally introduce ourselves, Mister…”
“Logan Finley, ma’am.” He held out his hand. “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”  
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into Amazing Grace! Be sure to visit my fellow co-authors: Kianna Alexander (Tuesday), Piper Huguley (Wednesday), and Alyssa Cole (Thursday) for more of their stories. And don't forget to pre-order your copy of THE BRIGHTEST DAY (June 1).
**Available for pre-order--only $1.99 for a limited time!**
AmazonNook | iBooksKobo

Saturday, May 23, 2015

#MySexySaturday #ShadesofDesire: Featured Excerpt #7

Welcome to My Sexy Saturday, week #93!

Still Hot for You (book #4 in the SHADES OF DESIRE box set)
By Diane Escalera

She watched him stroll away, his gait strong, fit and purposeful. She didn’t want to be angry with Dylan anymore. After months of mulish behavior, she’d rationalized her situation. At twenty-nine, she had plenty of time to start a family. It’s not like Dylan didn’t want kids. He did. He just had this need to secure their future first. The man showed tenacity, but didn’t she love that about him?
While he changed, Shay spread out the meal. She used the good china and lit a line of candles down the center of the table. Dimming the overhead lamp instantly transformed the mood to soft and relaxing. Barefoot, she sauntered over to the stereo and clicked on the CD player, already loaded with atmosphere music. She chose something not too romantic, just a light, melodic tune.
Back at the table, she tinkered with the wineglasses. She straightened a fork, aligned the salad dressing.
“Whoa,” Dylan said from the hallway.
She looked over her shoulder and smiled. Dropping into a tall, cushioned chair, she kept her eyes on him as he strode her way.
Faded jeans hung low on his waist. A white athletic undershirt smothered his hard upper body. Wide arms pressed against a V-shaped torso. Bright eyes contrasted with spiky dark hair. At thirty-two, Dylan was pure hotness. “Going all out tonight?” He checked out the glamorous display.
“Yep.” Her eyes raked over the tribal armband tattoo inked into his upper left arm. God, it was sexy. God, he was sexy. Almost as sexy as the first time she’d seen him in her father’s living room. He’d come with his own dad, a carpenter who’d been hired to work around her parents’ estate. It’d been an instant, mutual, heated attraction. Tall, dark and proud, he’d made a tool belt look like a sex toy. Blue eyes and a sinister grin--she had fallen hard.

Pre-order today for only $.99!
Amazon  | iBooks | Kobo | ARe | B&N | Google 

Ten titillating tales from USA Today, bestselling and award-winning authors. Step into the world of some of the freshest voices in romance. From spicy secrets to sweet second chances. Come find your perfect shade of desire.

Enjoy more sexy excerpts:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

#MySexySaturday #ShadesofDesire: Featured Excerpt #6

Welcome to My Sexy Saturday, week #92!

Liar, Liar (book #1 in the SHADES OF DESIRE box set)
By J.A. Coffey
Matt’s gaze left hers for a moment, traveling down the length of her rain-soaked figure. He grabbed his jacket from her hand and tossed it aside into the forest debris like a blanket. Jess glanced down. Her nipples were puckered and stiff, protruding through the wet material of her blouse and her thin bra. She was obviously aroused and yet she didn’t feel any shame. Not with him. His gaze raked over her like fire.
“I…we…we should be getting back….” She began. Her brain was foggy with desire. She wanted him, wanted his hands on her. Why was it so hard to think?
“Your eyes are incredible,” Matt whispered, moving closer until she could feel the tickle of his warm breath on her cheek. “Expressive. Stunning.”
“They’re just brown,” Jess answered. She leaned back against a nearby aspen. Her legs felt like water. What was she doing?
“They’re much more than that. There are gold flecks in them that dance when you smile.” His fingers stole underneath her chin and tilted her head up. His full mouth hovered near hers. “I want to see you smile. I want to see you….”
Naked, she wondered? She wet her lips with the tip of her tongue as a soft rumble escaped from him. The sound sent liquid heat between her thighs.
“I’m going to kiss you, Jess.” It wasn’t a question. He leaned in, his fingers raising her face to meet him. “I’m going to show you why you came to Montana.”

Pre-order today for only $.99!
Amazon  | iBooks | Kobo | ARe | B&N | Google 

Ten titillating tales from USA Today, bestselling and award-winning authors. Step into the world of some of the freshest voices in romance. From spicy secrets to sweet second chances. Come find your perfect shade of desire.

Enjoy more sexy excerpts:

Friday, May 15, 2015

5-15-15... 5 Reasons Why I Went *FREE*

Starting today, through the rest of May, my novel HIS FLOWER QUEEN, which is the first book in the Queen Quartette series, will be free at all e-book retailers. In a time when the ebook market is flooded with free books, I had my reservations about placing any of mine for free. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mind doing an occasional sale or price discount, but FREE?!?

Well, it took some convincing, but when I weighed the pros and cons, I realized it didn't hurt to give this marketing tool a try. And for interested (or hesitant) authors out there, here is why I did it:

1. Cross-promotion. The opportunity to cross-promote with the SHADES OF DESIRE box set, which currently features book 2 of my series, HIS BEDPOST QUEEN, would allow for hopefully drive up pre-order sales for $.99 10-in-1 bundle.

2. Readers conference and events. With the Interracial Romance Author Expo, and several other online events, underway this month, going free was a great opportunity to give IR fans and new-to-me readers a chance to try out my work.

3. Expanding my reach beyond Amazon. In my quest to think long-term (and give Amazon some much needed competition) I have my sights set on growing e-book platforms like iBooks and hopefully expanding my reach and hopefully enticing some new potential readers.

4. A resurgence on a fairly young series. My 4-book series is still pretty new (the latest book having been released in December 2014) and with the free downloads of the first book in the series, I anticipate a growing interest--and hopefully sales--to the other 3 books in the series.

5. More reviews. Since reviews are a necessary evil, I'm hoping this free promo will generate more honest reviews for my book. Reviews, when done right, can help readers decide whether a book is for them or not and can also help build exposure. Like they say, what's one girl's rags is another girl's haute couture.

Hope this has been enlightening. If you're an author considering new promo ideas, give FREE a try. What do you have to lose?

Now go download the book! =P
Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Google | Kobo | ARe

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

Two years ago, I wrote this homage to one of the greatest women I know--Ms. Karen Kupper. I originally featured this post on the SSLY blog and this year I would like to remember Ms. Kupper by republishing that post here on my blog.

Rest in peace, Ms. Kupper. You are forever missed.

Celebrate the Women in Your Life
In Memory of Ms. Karen Kupper

By Lena Hart

This month, as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think of the phenomenal women whose come into my life. Most of them are still in my life; a few have sadly passed on. But in remembering these women, I think of the tremendous impact they’ve had in my life and how they’ve made me the woman I am today.

One of these women is Ms. Karen Kupper, an unforgettable woman who came into my life almost 20 years ago. Ms. Kupper was my sister’s 5th grade teacher but in our close-knit elementary school, everyone knew her as “Ms. Betty Boop”. Ms Kupper loved the round doll-faced character with the svelte figure. Whether it was a t-shirt or dangling earrings or faded denim jeans with a replica of the cartoon etched on the back, Ms. Kupper showed her love for the iconic character in everything she wore. And it became something that we associated her with—you couldn’t see one without thinking of the other.

But it wasn’t just Ms. Kupper dynamic apparel that stood out. She was naturally eclectic. And unlike any other teacher at our school—or any other teacher I’ve met since. Despite being in her mid-forties, she drove a black corvette and wore jeans and black leather jacket to school—an elementary school. She was the type of teacher that drove you home—if she liked you—when your mom forgot to pick you up from school. She would host pool parties at her condo and invite students—if you were good—over.

Though she wasn’t my teacher yet (I still had two more grades to pass), I got to know her through my sister and experience her many generosities. I remembered during above-mentioned pool party how she tried to teach me how to swim when I was too scared to go pass the 3-feet mark. I was too scared to learn and almost drowned us both, but I loved her for trying. As everyone at our small school loved her for the person she was. She was the sunlight in our school and I could tell, even at that young age, that Ms. Kupper loved being a teacher and she loved her students.

But the sun in our small, close-knit school was eclipsed in the spring of 1995. The year before I was to enter her class, Ms. Kupper was killed by a drunk driver. Her two daughters and mother were critically injured. The core of our school was shaken and everyone was devastated.

Weeks after her funeral, a small tree with a beautiful white ribbon was planted at our school in her memory. But it’s the round-face of Betty Boop that keeps her in my memory. From what I remember of Ms. Kupper, she was the epitome of living life on your own terms and living it to its fullest. Though I didn’t get a chance to have her as my grade school teacher, she imparted in me something more valuable than reading, writing, or arithmetic. She taught me to be bold. She taught me to be fearless. ♥

Remember to celebrate the women in your life this Mother's day!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

#MySexySaturday #ShadesofDesire: Featured Excerpt #5

Welcome to My Sexy Saturday, week #91!

A Decade for Darius (book #3 in the SHADES OF DESIRE box set)
By Dorothy Callahan

“Since we accomplished nothing, may I take you out again?”
His smile did strange things to her. Strange, warm, tingly, clenching, wonderful things. Feigning boredom, she checked her nails. “I don’t know. You really are a major imposition.”
He grabbed her, twirled her around in a waltz and braced her against his car. It took a minute for her squeal of laughter to fade before she realized his intense look.
How his hands stroked her hips.
How he had her completely at his tender mercy.
“May I kiss your cheek, Jessalyn?”
That, and everything else. 

Pre-order today for only $.99!
Amazon  | iBooks | Kobo | ARe | B&N | Google 

Ten titillating tales from USA Today, bestselling and award-winning authors. Step into the world of some of the freshest voices in romance. From spicy secrets to sweet second chances. Come find your perfect shade of desire.

Enjoy more sexy excerpts:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

#ShadesofDesire on BlogTalk Radio!

In case you missed it, check out our chat with LaSheera Lee on her BlogTalk Radio show! Here, my fellow SHADES OF DESIRE authors talk about our upcoming box set and what's in store. Check it out!

Check Out Books Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Read You Later on BlogTalkRadio