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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mind Palaces, and Dogs

I've been so deep in my writing the last few weeks. Obviously; I don't blog worth a darn anymore and I Tweet seldom and my FB posts are almost afterthoughts. It's been a bit like...this.

Which is fitting in many ways.

I've had dogs on the brain lately. Dogs and Dogs, for that matter. My one-year-old Doberman, Viktor, had a bit of a health scare this past week, in which me thinking he had a bladder problem led to the vet thinking his kidneys were malfunctioning (WTF?). But the good news it, I got the word on the blood results and he's fine. Momentary mild panic aside, all is well in Viktorland.

But put dogs, Sherlock Holmes and my writing-entrenched mind together, and you've got me thinking Dartmoor.

For anyone who doesn't already know, the Dartmoor Series is named not for the MC, but for the actual place: Dartmoor. Those gorgeous, rocky, melancholy English moors where spirits, spectral hounds, and crossroads demons abound. MCs are steeped in tradition, so old English traditions always felt rife with possibility.

Saddle Tor
The Lean Dogs MC is named for a particular legend, one of many that perpetuate the devil hound myths that pervade the English countryside. As an English literature buff, and a Sherlock superfan, it's safe to assume that The Hound of the Baskervilles, in all its incarnations, is an endless source of inspiration for me as a writer.

If all my Lean Dogs boys are dogs, then I'd have to say that Walsh is a herding dog. Maybe a German Shepherd, maybe more like an Aussie or a Blue Heeler - either way, Walsh is the thoughtful, keep-everyone-in-line sort. The kind ferocious when challenged, but content to work hard most of the time, loyal to a fault to his people.

I'm unbelievably excited for y'all to get inside his head. I'm living his and Emmie's story every day, hours at a time, and I can't wait to share it with you all. Until then, I shall be in my Mind Palace.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


On the way to the vet this morning - Took Viktor in yesterday for UTI symptoms and they wanted his first pee of the morning; guess what I was doing this morning at seven-something? That's right, collecting dog urine in a cup - I spotted a biker crew a few cars ahead. Double line, old ladies on the back, prospect at the rear. At a stoplight, I snapped a distant, blurry picture, and that single piece patch you can just see? That's one of the old ladies' "Property of" patches. Yikes! I had this little zing of excitement. It's a curious thrill you get when your real world and your book world rub up against one another like that. That thought of hey, I've researched that, I write about that! It's kinda cool. We've got several OMC clubs in the area, and I love seeing them out at restaurants, with their families. You can see that they're brothers, even at a distance.

Despite a week full of distractions and errands, it was a productive writing week. I'm getting into that deep middle part of a story that's always so full of juicy drama and great character moments. My favorite part. It's the part where I want to start sharing, but I'm telling myself to be patient this time around. Write the book, release the book, and let everyone have it all at once, one big tasty dish.

A few things I can share:

- Walsh has a dog.

- Aidan doesn't fully understand what he needs to do in order to grow up, but he's trying, bless his heart.

- Unlike Ava who was born into the club, and Holly who sought out the club, our girl Emmie wants nothing to do with these guys, so this book has a very different, but very fun romantic dynamic.

- September feels super soon to me! Ahh!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Russell Connection

I've been talking here and there on various parts of FB, but decided to do one comprehensive post about the Russell Series, a master post, if you will.

The Russell Series is a contemporary family drama series with strong romantic elements, but, like Dartmoor, lacks that romance formula. There are three full-length novels and two short stories, all of which follow the exploits of a Southern family with a Robin Hood complex.

The patriarch of the Russell family, Ray, was a successful defense attorney who, after an attack of conscience during a particularly brutal case, handed over damning evidence against his client to the prosecution, losing both the case and his job. He couldn't live with himself if he continued to defend the indefensible, so he started a personal security business, and his employees became a part of his family.

The series focuses on the three Russell kids: Ray's daughter Lisa, and her cousins Layla and Johnny.

The Dartmoor Connection:

The Lean Dogs are introduced in Book 2, God Love Her.

In Book 3, Keeping Bad Company, we meet Mercy, Walsh, and FBI agent Harlan Grey - the agent who we see in Fearless.

In The Skeleton King, expect cameos from Sly, Eddie, and Agent Grey. While I think the cameos will be self-explanatory, readers are encouraged to read the Russells if they'd like a deeper understanding of these characters.

The reading order is:

1) Made for Breaking
2) God Love Her
Short) "Things That Go Bang In The Night"
3) Keeping Bad Company
Short 2) "Green Like the Water"

It's a fun series, and not a bad way to pass the time before TSK releases :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TSK Important Dates

Calendars at the ready, I've got some dates for ya.

- Aug. 1st - The Skeleton King Cover Reveal

- Aug. 15th - The Skeleton King Excerpt Reveal

- Sep. 1st - The Skeleton King available for Preorder

- Sep. 15th - The Skeleton King Release Day

- Sep. 18th - The Skeleton King Launch Party (this is both a local and FB event, details to come)

* There's no set date yet for ARCs, so more details to come on that front.

** If you're a blogger, and would like to share the cover and excerpt on the above dates, I would really appreciate the support! Message me if you want on the "press kit" mailing list, if you haven't already.

The third (full-length) book in the Dartmoor Series is Walsh's story ,yes - a case of his club world colliding with the real world in unexpected ways. But it's also a book about the Lean Dogs MC, which means multiple narrators, side adventures, and a continuation of the overall club story arc. It's for sure not a standalone, and it has that same "TV show" feel as the previous installments. I know some readers would have liked to get straight into Aidan's story after Angels, but trust me, we're getting there, and this book needs to happen first ;) In the grand scheme of things, there's so many places this series can go, and we're still just getting started. Hope you'll all come along for the ride.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

In The Thick of Things

I completely missed Music Monday yesterday. Blogging and I are out of step lately. So I thought I'd share this song - "Dollhouse" by Melanie Martinez - because it touches on my writing right now. (You probably heard Melanie's awesome song "Carousel" on the American Horror Story: Freak Show promos last year. I write to that one a lot.)

I'm in the thick of the writing right now, and struck anew by the way each book packs its own batch of surprises. These Lean Dogs boys are all very different animals when you get them off on their own. In Angels, I was surprised by Michael's awkward sweetness, the way he wanted to take good care of Holly. That wasn't at all what I'd been expecting out of him.

The Skeleton King is rife with themes of appearance versus actuality, the things people hide, and then choose to reveal, and the way beauty takes many forms. This I knew going into the novel, but what I didn't expect was the fact that Walsh would be so feisty in his own quiet way. He's a closet smartass, and he's pretty to-the-point when it comes to romantic endeavors. He likes to banter when he's interested in a woman, and I had no idea beforehand.

I swear, it's like they're trying to tell me about themselves, and I'm just adjusting the radio knobs so I can get the best reception possible. Walsh's vibe is so different from Mercy or Michael, but it's a lot of fun. I'm excited to start sharing some larger teasers soon!

Monday, July 13, 2015

TSK BTS - A Look at Dressage
From Reuters: (L-R) Kimberley Herslow , Steffen Peters , Sabine Schut-Kery and Laura Graves of the United States celebrate after winning the gold medal in the Team Dressage during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
The U.S. just won team dressage gold at the Pan Am Games, and I'm betting that's a lot more exciting for me than it is for you. But it got me thinking that this is a good time to bring up the sport of my heart, because there's a dressage reference or two in The Skeleton King.

Our new Leading Lady in this Dartmoor novel (who you will meet soon) does not wear a shadbelly or profess to be Olympic-bound like the awesome team pictured above, but she does ride local-level dressage in Knoxville where she teachers, trains, and manages a farm. When I talk to friends and family about my work, they always say, "Wait, you're not writing about horses???" I don't normally. I did with Whatever Remains, and the opportunity presented itself again, with The Skeleton King.

So, what is dressage? It's an equestrian sport rooted in cavalry training, named for a French term that means "training," go figure. The emphasis is on balance, flexibility, and harmony, creating a partnership between horse and rider. It stems from the bond necessary for quick maneuvering as cavalry officers steered their mounts with their legs and seat while wielding swords, shields, and later guns. It's all about control and communication.

I'll let Steffen Peters demonstrate what it looks like at the Olympic level. My character dabbles in the much lower levels, enjoying the partnership the training establishes between horse and rider. I don't go into too much of the fancy detail about the sport - the LL's life is more about the daily grunge of working, sweating, and problem-solving - but I wanted you to see the "dance" if you were curious.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summer, Summer

Y'all, it's hot. I mean, sweat through your clothes and stick to the seat of your truck hot. It's the dog doesn't want to be outside hot.

But summer...between the ducks, and the deer, the turtles everywhere - it's like Wild Kingdom in my quiet little corner of the world. I love this time of year. I love retreating in to write when it's too steamy to do anything else. I'm a summer gal.

It's been a busy week! I have a few links to share:

- One of my awesome readers set up a Dartmoor Facebook group dedicated to talking about the series

- Facebook has become my first stop when it comes to book announcements, so to stay up to date, be sure to click "like" so you can see all the updates.

- Maryse's Book Blog is hosting a "Reader Love" giveaway for Fearless - ten copies up for grabs, donated by my lovely readers!

- Someone very industrious already has The Skeleton King listed on Goodreads, so you can head over there to add it to your TBR pile. Cover reveal and synopsis reveal dates are coming soon.

- I've got an updated bio over on Amazon, and more information listed for the Dartmoor books under their editorial review sections.

Happy Saturday

Monday, July 6, 2015

Music Monday 7/6

I'm still feeling the Fourth today, so "Home" was a fitting pick for Music Monday. It isn't quite so outwardly patriotic, but I love his "I Hold On" too. It's got that good dusty Americana vibe.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fourth Celebration

When I lived in the suburbs, watching fireworks every 4th of July was a family tradition. We loaded up chairs, mosquito repellant, drinks, and snacks, and drove into Marietta to watch their grandiose display on the Square. Traffic was always snarled around the two-lane side streets, fireworks-goers backed up for miles, parking at the middle and high schools and hiking up to the action. Foot traffic made snagging a spot in the center of the Square an impossibility. So we usually ended up on the lawn of the bank, or even at the softball park down the street, camping out early, chatting with friends and family until it was finally dark enough for the show to begin. Those first deep thumps were electrifying. The first blossom in the sky almost as special as the grand finale. It was the only display of the year for us back then, and it was dazzling, all the traffic, the heat, the bugs, the elbowing and jostling worth it for those few minutes of brightness in the sky.

Now that I live out in the boonies, fireworks are still a tradition - but minus all the work! Surrounding farms and neighborhoods put on such great fireworks shows, we just drag patio chairs out onto the driveway at the farm and watch from there. Last night, it was drizzling rain, so we parked it under umbrellas for the show. You can see the gate and fence in these two photos. That's what I call easy celebrating!

From under the umbrella

I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe holiday! It's such a special day, for so many reasons, and always a joy to celebrate.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Farming

Spent the morning with my ponies, having their feet trimmed. Getting new shoes tacked on, in Markus's case.

My farrier brought fresh eggs from his chickens. I tended the garden, vegetable and flower. The crepe myrtles are blooming down at the barn.

There's nothing quite like the good energy of getting your farm chores done at seven a.m. And splurging a little on lunch. I've been super-hungry post-flu, my body trying to gain back the lost weight. And even if I should have had something healthy and was pizza tater tots for lunch.

I can't believe it's July already! No WW for today, because I'm in the writing zone. All this farming makes puts me in the mood to write, and I'm going to run with it. As it stands now, the planned release date for The Skeleton King is September 15th. Don't hold me to that, because I've lost some time being sick, but here's hoping.