Friday, 1 June 2018

Excerpt: Chasing Lacey by January Bain (released June 19, 2018)




“Happy ever after. Ha. It’s a myth, Lily. A legend. A shell game meant to sell more expensive wedding packages.” Lacey Cameron gave a snort, glancing away from the awesome view of crystal-blue water, fluffy white clouds and careening shore birds to stare her monozygotic twin right in the eye. Her carbon copy made that face—the one that suggested Lacey was being a pain in the butt. Again.


“Just because our parents couldn’t make a go of it—”

Make a go of it!” Lacey could hear the shrillness in her voice and took a deep breath to quiet the tinnitus that immediately pounced, dulling and annoying at the same time. The day loomed too beautiful and too shiny, a virtual Christmas package floating in cyberspace, to have this conversation. Besides, they were just about to the correct location to weigh anchor—the coordinates she was certain would bear fruit. Of the golden variety, of course. This was her number one bucket list item—diving for sunken treasure off the Florida Keys—and nothing was going to spoil it, especially memories best left in the past.

“It was far worse than just not making a go of it, as you darn well know,” she growled, refusing to go there, to relive the pain of her childhood. How Lily could was beyond Lacey’s comprehension. Best to outrun it and keep running. That had worked for her until now, so why change what worked?

She swung the thirty-six-foot Nautitech catamaran around. She stood in the cockpit, feet planted, savoring the most amazing panoramic view provided by any of the boats offered for charter. She preferred the stability of the twin-hulled dive boat and was pleased with herself for coming down a day early to get her safety competency card and boating license. A rarity for her, that much planning. But the freedom of being her own captain far outweighed any inconvenience.

“Well, I think Casey and Truman will make a go of it,” Lily huffed. “They’re good friends, like to do the same things, both love adventure and they have a ton of other stuff in common. Frankly, I think they’re a good bet.”

“Yada, yada, yada. Careful. You’ll jinx them.” Lacey smirked. No way was she ever going to latch on to one man, no matter how good a friend he was. No, not a chance that was ever going to be part of her life plan. She had decided on a different approach, brought on by her recent karate training at the dojo. It was based on the warrior mindset and had brought her some clarity, some purpose. Learning all the five hundred-plus techniques was going to take far longer than embracing the philosophy, but it was a beginning.

All she got for her trouble was the expected disgusted glare when she glanced Lily’s way for a split second. But it was the twinge of deep hurt that also crossed her twin’s face that flung the worst arrow. She’d just been reminded of her warrior creed, her sworn duty to protect the innocent, and if anyone was innocent it was Lily, incapable of seeing the world through anything but rose-colored glasses. How that had happened was beyond Lacey’s understanding. They had both been raised in the same dismal household.

“Hey, maybe it will work out for them,” Lacey reasoned in a more level tone of voice, swallowing hard. “Lord knows, it has to for some, right? Otherwise, why have the institution?” She pushed back a strand of bright red hair broken loose in the wind created by the boat flying across the water at an exhilarating speed. She tucked the hair under her ballcap and breathed in the fresh fragrance of the salty foam churned up from the propellers. Ah, the smell of adventure. Bring it on, world.

“We don’t have to let the past destroy our chance at a good future, do we, Lacey?”

Damn it. This wasn’t on the agenda for this gorgeous summer morning. Why was the past visiting now, when it was her turn? The much discussed, much anticipated week of treasure hunting?

“Honestly, I don’t know. But I find it best to just forget about it and keep moving forward.” She shrugged, not trusting herself to look at her sister. “What else can you do?”

She powered down the twin engines of the catamaran. They had arrived. The perfect time to end this verbal wrestling match that could never resolve things, anyway.

“Come on, let’s do this thing. Leave the past where it belongs.” She pushed the button that would drop anchor and stabilize the boat. This was the moment she loved best. The anticipation of things to come. The only thing that would beat it was holding some amazing treasure in her hot little hands.

Lacey grabbed her dive suit and hurried to step into it, tugging it up her body and zipping it in place under her chin. Hefting her air tank, she took a moment to check the equipment was working properly before setting it in place on her back. She watched Lily finish suiting up, then gave her twin two thumbs-up.

Seconds later, they were in the water.

She vanquished all thoughts of the upcoming nuptials of fellow Brass Ringer Casey and her fiancé Truman, because nothing was going to be allowed to interfere with the clear level-mindedness that diving in the waters off Little Conch Reef promised. The blue jewel of Plantation Key, especially when surrounded by a mosaic of rainbow-colored fish that immediately began to dance with her, made everything seem possible. It was the sea version of that Hollywood blockbuster, like her sister was blabbing on about with all the false promises to love and to cherish until death do us part. What was it called again? Oh yeah, living in La-La Land. She was too smart and too burned for that trap.

The exhaled bubbles rose steam-engine-style around her while she used her flippers to propel herself through the clear water. Absolute pure magic. A poet with a great deal more talent than her would have some struggle capturing this moment of sublime freedom. The tinny sounds vanished from her mind, leaving only anticipation for the immediate future in their wake. She thrust her body back and forth on a downward trajectory, moving away from her twin like a mermaid-in-training, her long hair streaming behind her.

Finally. It was really true. She wanted to pinch herself just to make sure, but it was past time to get to searching and find what the depths would reveal to her that day. What King Midas had in store for one Lacey Anne Cameron. Excitement glowed from an ember to a raging wildfire within her body in a split-second.

She swam parallel to the ocean floor, checking every nook and cranny of the Spanish galleon El Infante for a glimpse of something, anything, manmade. That brigantine lay battered and almost unrecognizable on the white sand ocean floor, a victim of the 1733 hurricane. She really didn’t expect to find anything at the actual wreck site—its bones had been picked over years ago—but farther out… Now, that held distinct possibilities.

The morning passed in the sweet sense of being on point, of something just over the horizon waiting for her to discover. Yes, the best of times for her was just before something occurred, the quiet of the hush. But still, this was taking longer than she’d imagined. She’d been certain that she’d bag important treasure before her sister. It had always been a contest to see who could beat the other to the prize. The only other person whose competition gene rivaled her own was Will, her best male friend and hang-out buddy. And today, this was going to be her day. She felt it deep in her bones.

She checked the tank monitoring system occasionally, making sure she had sufficient air to continue. She swam in and out of an underground cave, caught up in the mystical flow. Then a glint under the shifting sands at the cave mouth drew her eye and she was on it in an instant. Fanning the sand away, she worked to uncover the find.

It was deeply planted, the ocean reluctantly giving over its hoarded treasure only after a major tug-of-war. A large golden cross nearly eighteen inches across with a number of encrusted gems. A find worthy of King Midas himself. Ahhhh.

Then everything changed in a split second.

The reef hushed, gone silent.

The brilliantly hued school of fish abandoned her, skipping town like an old western’s inhabitants during a showdown at high noon, racing for the security of the reef and the bleached bones of El Infante. Even the sea anemones shut their flower-like structures, closed to business, paled to gray to match the death-like scene.

Why?

Lacey’s heart nearly stopped, skipping a full beat and making her chest bone shudder.

A lidless black eye. Unblinking and cold as sin. And with the audacity to materialize right smack dab in front of her face.

Sneaky freakin’ bull shark.

He’d blindsided her, swimming up silently in the warm waters off the Florida coastline while her attention was diverted elsewhere, digging for treasure. She sucked in a lungful of air, almost biting her mouthpiece in two.

Available soon!     Totally Bound
Amazon  

Friday, 13 April 2018

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Great news!

Hi all,



Don't you just love it when you work and work and work, then one of your books get offered a contract?!

DRUM ROLL, please:

Announcing: Coming June 19th, CHASING LACEY, is being released by Totally Bound, the second book in the Brass Ringers Sorority series.

I am so stoked!!!

And what is CHASING LACEY about, you ask! Well, here's the unvarnished book blurb:


Lacey Cameron, private investigator and treasure hunter, takes being headstrong and passionate to a whole new level. It takes exactly one morning in a school teaching young minds for her and her identical twin sister to break the whiteboard pointer in half, throw their keys on the teacher’s desk, and heed the seductive call of wide open spaces and awesome adventures.
William James Thornton Ш, a renaissance man and warrior poet who defended his country in Iraq and Afghanistan, knows he’s got his hands full trying to get Lacey to see him as more than just a friend. He’s ready to settle down, marry the woman of his dreams, and make his mother a happy grandmother. Hell, he’s got enough treasure in his bank account for two lifetimes.

And then things go from normal craziness to extremely dangerous in a heartbeat as hired killers are sent after Will and Lacey to prevent them from discovering the truth. They stumble on such an unexpected twist to the story that no one in their right mind would believe it  or have suspected. If Will can get them out of this mess, he vows to lay all his cards on the table with Lacey. Get her to recognize what they can share as a couple. Passion. Love. And a commitment to blending her wild nature with his own—the perfect spicy blend. Even if it looks like it might just be the death of him.

Part madcap caper, part serious treasure hunting, the Brass Ringers never fail to entertain or get their way!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Please give a warm welcome to H K Carlton!

Please welcome, H K Carlton, an outstanding fellow Canadian author (so sweet to be able to say that of such a warm, wonderful human being) of many outstanding books! Thanks so much for being here! I'm looking forward, with pleasure, to your sharing your thoughts on writing and learning more about you and your work. :-) So, without further adieu...

(1) When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer? Or what inspires you to plunk yourself down for hours on end and write, opening a vein in the process?

I’ve always told myself stories while trying to fall asleep at night, from my earliest recollection. That hasn’t changed. I still do it. I do some of my best plotting then. The hard part now, is remembering all the good stuff when I wake up. 😊

I’ve always been a jotter. I’d write down scenes or ideas that came about, but other than assignments for creative writing class in school, I didn’t write entire stories from beginning to end. At the time, I never considered showing anyone else.

It wasn’t until son number two, left for college—he was the first to leave the nest— that I started writing entire manuscripts. Mainly, I was simply trying to keep my mind occupied and not worry twenty-four-seven about my baby out there in the big bad world. But also at that time, I had about three very different stories and a cast of characters that I could not get out of my head. It wasn’t until I actually wrote them down, that I found some peace. And when I was finished, I didn’t think they were half bad. I mustered up the courage to send bits and pieces to my sister—I left out the smutty parts. Lol. [To my knowledge, to this day, she still has not read the racy scenes]. That was a big step all on it’s own. To open myself up like that. But I knew, she would be honest with me. I trusted that if it was bad, she would out and out tell me so and would dissuade me from submitting it and embarrassing myself that way. But she loved it and actually hounded me for the next chapter and the next. It was just the encouragement I needed to polish it up and start sending out queries to potential publishers. And to my surprise, all three of those early stories found homes. My three children have also been extremely supportive and my loudest cheerleaders. I’ve always encouraged them to follow their dreams, now they say, it’s my turn.


(2) What has been your best experience as an author so far?

The best part of this process has been the people I’ve met along the way. Readers, editors, publishers, fellow authors. I’ve met some truly wonderful and talented people on this journey and made some friendships that will last a lifetime even if this writing gig hits the skids. 😄


(3) What sort of challenges have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?

I find the promotion part of it tough. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to market and write and edit and blog and keep up a social media presence etc. It’s hard to get noticed. The advice I’ve been given is to write the next book, and the next and the next. Easier said than done.

Also lately, I’ve been going through a slow period. I have so many ideas and more unfinished manuscripts than I can keep track of but zero ambition to finish them. It’s not writer’s block, the ideas are there, I just don’t want to do the work. I used to want to write more than anything else. I’d get almost angry when real life cut into my creativity. Now it’s the opposite, I’ll do just about anything to avoid getting down to work. It’s like I’ve lost my passion and the early excitement I used to thrive on. Unfortunately, I haven’t overcome it yet. Any advice, tips or tricks, would be welcome, folks.


(4) How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?

I pretty much do the research as I go. I look things up as they come up in the storyline.


(5) Tell us a little about your writing nook! What time of day you write? Do you have any rituals for getting into the process?

I write whenever, wherever the mood strikes me. I just need my laptop, my trusty Chihuahua, Ken. He’s my sidekick/co-author. Sometimes, I also have a bowl of dry Honey-nut Cheerios. And yes, we share. 😉





(6) Of all the characters you’ve created or written about, who would you most want to be/or date?

I suppose I’d want to be Holly Cambridge from the Always Cambridge Series. Although being the daughter of mob boss, Bill Cambridge, her life is filled with violence and tragedy. But on the flipside she more than makes up for it, in the man department. Between her rugged and steadfast bodyguard, Randy Phillips, and later FBI Agent Alex Orton, who challengers her at every turn, to drop-dead gorgeous, Victor Mayhue, from the Mayhue crime family, one of the Cambridge families’ biggest rivals, Holly’s love life is turbulent but incredibly passionate.





(7) What’s your best advice to new writers?

Take the good with the bad. Savour the good reviews and praise, and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, but also take note of the criticism, and learn from it, turn it into a positive and make your writing better. And always remember, you can’t please everybody.


(8) What project are you currently working on? Can you share something about the characters or story?

I’m working on a piece for an anthology call. Though, with my lagging ambition, I’m not holding out much hope for hitting the deadline.


(9) What’s next for you?

I’m hoping—fingers crossed—to get a jump on the holiday season.

I started a couple of Christmas themed stories last year. I’d really like to finish those up and submit them for the season ahead.


Thank you so much for having me on your lovely blog, January!
I’m honoured to be your first guest. Hugs!


Latest Release – Autumn’s Healing – Totally Bound
Paranormal Erotic Romance
Released – May 16, 2017


Blurb:

Rarely do we get to pick our battles… Often, they choose us.

Single mom Mikaylah MacDonough and her only daughter Autumn have been on their own a long time. So, when Autumn goes off to school, it seems only natural for Kaylah to pull up stakes and follow, though with some clear-cut boundaries, of course. She’s determined to give Autumn space to enjoy the whole college experience but remain close enough for emergencies, meals and laundry. But when the closing date of the current house overlaps with taking possession of the ‘new’ house, along with orientation week, Autumn has to go it alone. From that moment on, Kaylah’s dreams of a new beginning turn into a complete and total nightmare.

When former serviceman Jerusalem Aames drives up to the century-old Cleary house, he sees dollar signs for himself and his all-veteran crew. The rundown, old place would finally put his fledgling construction-renovation firm in the black. But the moment he meets the gorgeous homeowner who had been duped into buying the money-pit, his attraction is swift and instantaneous.

However, there’s something very strange going on in the dilapidated house that has nothing to do with rotting timbers or shoddy wiring. Whatever it is, it’s affecting Kaylah’s state of mind, and Salem finds himself in a battle he’s not sure he can win.



* * * *
The Always Cambridge Series


Series Blurb: Always Cambridge 1 - 6, Romantic Suspense

The Always Cambridge Series chronicles the life of Holly Cambridge through her tumultuous childhood, violent teen years, into adulthood, and the consequences that stem from being the daughter of mob boss, Bill Cambridge.


~

Caught up in a bitter blood feud with the rival Mayhue family and unable to bear the violence that claimed her mother, Holly sets out to right her father's wrongs. But instead she embarks on an epic journey of sex, love, loss, tragedy and life-altering choices that not only impact her life but that of her beloved bodyguard, Randy Phillips; unsuspecting Federal Agent, Alex Orton; and surprisingly of all, Victor Mayhue, a member of the reviled Mayhue clan.

Can Holly distance herself and the ones she loves, from the violence and corruption she abhors, or will she discover a truth she's feared all along ... Mob life is forever!


Books In Reading Order
Always Cambridge
Running
Misfortune of Birth
Law & Order : Crime & Chaos
Afterlife
Always Holly


Author Bio:

H K Carlton is a multi-published Canadian author of romance and it’s varied sub-genres.

Blogs
Pick a Genre (Wordpress)

Monday, 10 July 2017

Heartwarmingly beautiful & sexy tale

AUTUMN’S HEALING by H.K. Carlton

WOW! What a heartwarming, beautiful tale of two people struggling through the pain of unexpected disasters. I promise you that you will cheer for Kaylah & Salem to come together, their characters being so finely drawn by the author. Long past reading this page turner you will remember them. And wish them well. Not to mention the story is spicy hot with sexy, powerful scenes set against an intriguing backdrop. A Guinness World Record idea never held more merit! Throw in an unexpected plot twist that makes perfect sense in hindsight, one that you’ll never see coming or at least I didn’t, and you have the real deal. I look forward, with pleasure, to reading more books by this fine author.


*I was so into this book, I read it in 2 hours Sunday afternoon!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Big Day!!!

Hi All, hope this post finds you happy! Just wanting to share with you that June 20th is the BIG DAY!!! For it's the day Totally Bound releases the first book in the new Brass Ringers series, Winning Casey. Thought I might share with you an excerpt. Wishing you a wonderful day! :-)

Hugs, January


“Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting

So much as just finding the gold.”

Robert Service


Casey glared at the stuffed moose head and it stared right back at her, its one broken antler leering.

“What are you looking at? You think this is easy? Who piles this many friggin’ rocks over their treasure, anyway? Yeah, yeah, I know—someone trying to hide it.”

She took a deep breath, adjusted her white and blue striped canvas work gloves and inserted the heavy red-tipped crowbar under the final stone slab. Air hissed out of her mouth and nose as she exerted her back and thigh muscles to the task, straining to pry it loose.

“Ach-choo!”

She sniffed loudly, her nose dripping. The damn soot-covered rocks had been in use as a fire pit. Give it to Hefty, though—clever ruse.

Ignoring the black soot, she leaned against the huge pile of stones and wiped her nose on her hoodie sleeve before shining her flashlight onto Hefty McGee’s journal. She thumbed through the tattered pages, still confident that the university wouldn’t miss the dusty old thing for one weekend.

“Hmm, says here Hefty won a moose head from a saloon keeper in a card game right here in Dawson City. Furthermore, that you lost that antler in the ensuring fistfight when it turned out that the gambler was a poor loser. Know anything about that?”

She tucked the journal back into her hoodie then reinserted the crowbar.

“Okay, here goes!” She attacked the slab with all her might. A loud squeal of protest as rock ground against rock. Ah, it moved. Just another few inches. Grunting, she pushed harder until the heavy cover slid off enough that she could shine her flashlight inside the hole pickaxed into the cave floor.

The sight of a large rotted pile of leather securely wrapped and tied with a cord quickened her breath. On top, weighing the package down, was a small smooth rock, and underneath it a torn piece of brown butcher paper. She pulled it out and shone the light on it.

She read the faded handwritten words aloud, figuring the moose had a right to know, as well. “‘Abandon hope all ye who steals Soapy’s Gold. It be cursed. Gave me the pox. Hefty McGee.’” Casey chuckled, despite the discomfort of the past few hours of digging in the tight, damp quarters, and gave the moose head a glance. “Just proves, old man, I’m in the right place!”

She thrust her arm inside the large hole in the cave floor and tugged on the heavy parcel. Damn, not enough room to lift it out. The blasted stone needed to be moved farther over. She glanced back at the doorway of the cave. Only a short while and the spring waters of the rising Yukon River would flood the low-lying cave.

“Be nice if you could lend a hand, buster.” She directed her comments at the moose head. It was beginning to creep her out, staring down at her with glassy, lifeless eyes. Okay, so perhaps coming alone had not been so smart, but she needed to know if all her research was going to pay off. And, just maybe, it was about to. Big-time.

The pry bar slipped as the rock jerked under the extreme pressure. It swung in an upward arc toward the moose head, pitching her forward as it did so. It also hit the beast a solid blow on its huge bulbous nose, knocking it loose from its perch on the rock wall and right down onto her head.

The last thought as pain drilled into her brain was that the old miner who had gone to the trouble to hide his stolen gold in the wilds of Northern Canada might have gotten it right. The curse was effective—if one was a klutz.

Casey woke with a start, shivering uncontrollably. Her head pounded from a possible concussion and her clothes were soaking wet. She blinked hard, gingerly touching the top of her skull, and felt a lump as large as a goose egg under her platinum braid of hair. Damn. If she had a mirror she could tell her if her eyes were dilated. But at least there was no blood. She rummaged in her pocket for her cell phone and checked the time. Double damn. She’d been out for more than an hour!

As her vision cleared, she focused on the cave’s entrance. Waves slapping around the opening made her heart race. Swallowing hard against the shock and the pain, she struggled to pull herself to a sitting position. Her brain swam with the effort and she punched the downed moose right in its over-sized moth-eaten nose.

“It’s all your fault! If you weren’t already dead…” Casey threatened. She managed to get to her feet by holding on to the clammy moss-covered stone wall. Trickles of moisture created darkened trails down the ancient walls, dampening her palms.

A flash of something sliding by the doorway drew her attention. Her boat! Left tied to a tree on shore, with the rising waters it’d somehow managed to work itself free. Headache forgotten, she splashed through the frigid water, lunging to snatch hold of it before it drifted away in the current. Swaying dizzily, she managed to tug it inside the cave’s broad mouth. Thank goodness the cave floor sloped down toward the river, otherwise her transport might have floated away while she was knocked out.

She held hard to the canoe’s frayed rope, maneuvering the sixteen-foot boat closer to the treasure. Once she tied it securely to an outcropping of rock, she hauled the offending moose head off to the side, grateful the one good antler hadn’t pierced her skull. She relaunched her efforts to retrieve the booty. Thank God her flashlight was still intact and working.

“No fucking way I’m leaving here without my gold!” she muttered. “God damn it—move, won’t you!” she exclaimed in frustration, pushing as hard as she could manage. It was now or never. At least the weight training was paying off. She put everything behind the effort, every muscle in her body struggling and screaming at her to give it up already.

With an ominous creak like a banshee screaming in the wind, she inched the stone lid off bit by bit, the pit reluctant to give up its treasure. Finally, against the clock, Casey jolted the stone lid far enough off to allow her full access to what lay beneath. With a tug at the rotted string that bound the package, she thrust it out of the way and pushed her hand inside to pull apart the decayed leather.

She froze and took a deep breath, heart hammering. Was this the moment? Would all her intensive research now pay off? Or was it an elaborate hoax set up by an ornery old conman with a wicked sense of humor?

She touched it reverently, a laying-on-of-hands. Took a deep breath.

This was it. The moment of truth.

And yet, she hesitated, her hands trembling. So much rode on this. Finding the treasure would fund another adventure, her life’s blood. Give her the freedom she needed. Craved.

Open it already!

Okay. Stop shouting at me.

The war within quieted as she slowly peeled back the edges of the musty old covering. Was that a choir of angels singing? No, just her imagination working overtime. Whispers from the past upping the roaring clamor in her head as the color revealed itself.

Shiny yellow nuggets. Gold! Soapy’s stolen hoard!

The nuggets gleamed brightly under the flashlight’s beam. Nestled between the lumps of gold, someone had packed old leather pouches filled with gold dust. She’d found it! She swallowed hard. Glanced back at the cave’s entrance.

Crap. The water was rising. Faster.

Hurriedly, she scooped up the heavy nuggets and packets, flinging them into her backpack and glancing back at the cave’s entrance every few seconds to make sure she could still free herself. Running out of room in the pack, she pulled another black carryall from the canoe’s bottom and loaded it. At the last possible second, she threw in the moose head, knowing she was being loopy. The damn thing must weigh twenty-five pounds, broken antler or not, but he’d helped point the way.