February 2013 – Status Update

It’s currently cookie season in the life of a Girl Scout mom and writer so I almost missed the monthly update!

Here is where I am now.

Organization: Hubby moved my office and can I say I love his idea. This may sound super crazy, but he relocated me to the back of our walk-in closet. I now have a door and internet access. What more do I need? I asked for a mini fridge but was told to keep dreaming. I swear this man misses romantic hero moments all the time!

Exercise: Ooohhh! That came to an abrupt end. It’s very painful. I’m going to try yoga in March.

Writing: My goal is to complete four long works. I don’t want to call them novels because they may not end up that long.

Deja Vu – Sent to the editor and it has been returned! I will start on the first round of edits this weekend. Have you seen the cover? Take a look.

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WIP/Amber and Kevin – Currently at 44000 words, no title, more work to do. It just isn’t right. I hope to spend February working on this. ~ I hoped to spend February working on this. It looks like March.

A Loving Affair – The second story in the Rose Gold Collection. This is an outline of 13000 words and a few scenes written in a notebook. Got to get that moved over to computer. ~ Have yet to do this. Ugh!

Dulce Means Sweet – The third story in the Rose Gold Collection. This is also in a notebook. No outline but character analyses completed and a few scenes. ~Eek!

Let’s hope I’m further along next month!

Mother Nature is Fighting Back

dark sentinelsMeet the “Dark Sentinels.”  Weary of shedding tears over the senseless murders of her children, thoughtless abuse of her resources, and blatant disrespect for her authority, she had to take drastic measures. Mother Nature created sentinels to protect and preserve nature, their first priority to stand vigil against those responsible for the destruction of wildlife.

Two sentinel wolf-shifters are born to each pack – male and female. Larger, stronger, and faster than other shifters, and able to shift at will, regardless of the moon’s phases, they risk their lives daily to restore balance between man and nature. Unfortunately, their very strengths have gained the attention of arrogant beings bent on exploiting their abilities for selfish gain.

Forced to leave their packs for a time to find mates, the sentinels are no longer able to avoid human contact. Dr. Sable Adler, of “Dark Sentinels Book One: Sable,” alpha of the Washington pack, one of the largest packs in the United States, was the first sentinel to fall in love with a human female. He’s a calm-natured Libra, while Torin DuMont, of “Dark Sentinels Book Two: Torin,” is a hot-headed, bad-tempered Scorpio alpha who resides in the Florida Everglades.

Like Sable before him, Torin is about to find himself in uncharted territory when he seeks the legal counsel of Stephanie Bates, an uppity human lawyer who needs his help more than he needs hers…

Torin_final coverDark Sentinels Book Two: Torin

When greedy land developers set their sights on Dark Sentinel land, Torin turns to attorney Stephanie Bates for help, but she’ll need his protection to stay alive long enough to save his land.

Real estate lawyer, Stephanie Bates, has risen to the top of her field through meticulous sacrifice and goal setting. She has no time for distractions – and that includes pets, messy relationships, and loose ends.

Torin DuMont is a forensic scientist who chose the profession to avoid dealing with people as much as possible. Raised by a stepfather who hated him, he’s been forced to live a life of solitude, fueled by anger and distrust. When wolves and shifters start turning up dead, Torin must battle an enemy bent on destroying those he was born to protect. His greatest challenge, however, is Attorney Bates and the surprising effect she has on his heart.

Short Excerpt

He sensed the sun had gone down before he stepped over to the small window and looked out. Even in the complete darkness, his eyes did not fail him, and he saw the grounds as clearly as if daylight greeted him. Finally, one man remained in the waiting room with him, but it was well after six p.m.

He picked up the pleasant scent of mint, lemongrass, and lilies and turned just in time to see shapely legs, a voluptuous body full of promise. The warm, mocha-colored face wasn’t bad either. Clearly, it was the owner of the musical voice. His wolf bristled beneath his skin, forcing an internal battle just to remain civilized. Confusion increased his frustration. He’d never reacted to a female this way before, and certainly not a human.

She glanced at the other client and headed straight for Torin, arm extended to shake his hand as she called over her shoulder, “Go on home, Cindy. It’s already late. No need for both of us to stay.”

Cindy was out of the office in a flash, glancing back apprehensively as she closed the door.

“Mr. DuMont? I’m Ms. Bates, Stephanie Bates.”

Torin nodded and grasped her hand but did not return her smile. He was far too busy trying to resist the crippling effect her melodious voice seemed to have on him. His nerve endings sizzled as he attempted to manage the sensory overload. This isn’t supposed to happen, he secretly seethed. What in the hell is wrong with me? His sexual encounters had been quick, unemotional, and necessary for physical satisfaction only, and he’d never been overtaken so–completely. Her scent intensified, tinged with desire, as molten chocolate-colored eyes gazed at him confidently, only confusing him further. Desire?

Buy Links

“Dark Sentinels Book One: Sable” on Amazon

“Dark Sentinels Book One: Sable” on Barnes & Noble

Dark Sentinels Book Two: Torin” at Amazon

“Dark Sentinels Book Two: Torin” at Barnes & Noble

“Dark Sentinels” Trailer

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Jungle Love and Cookie Sales

It’s a busy weekend for this writer mom.

I celebrated with a friend last night for her fortieth and got home at the very late hour of midnight. We hit several clubs and ended the night at the Blue Martini, a bar with live music. The band did covers of songs from our original partying days like Roseanna and Push It. With the exception of a few youngsters, everyone in the bar, knew all the lyrics and the dances and we were laughing and having a great time.

What’s not so great? I was back up at 7:45 am preparing for two days of selling cookies in front of grocery stores and home improvement stores. We’ve finished our first round the day and then we’re back out there later in the evening.

And wouldn’t you know it, my sleeping muse decided to wake up and demand attention. I’ve been poking her for weeks that I’m ready to work on my next piece and nothing. But since like one of my children, I can’t say no to her. I’ll be working for the next few hours instead of napping.

So for all you other busy writing moms out there, remember when we were dancing to this?

Claire’s Journey by Cecile Duval

I don’t write romance. Claire Saunders and Gerard Pontillier spoke to me. I dictated their story. Electronic publishing platforms gave them to the world. C’est tout!

a beautiful vintage mirrorClaire Saunders is searching for something…anything to make one more night in a business class hotel bearable. An internet search in the wee hours of the morning brings her to The Blackbird Group, an organization that links like-minded individuals. What she really wants is unclear but with the help of a young man, looking to relive his first sexual experience with his sister’s Somali nanny, she may have found what she needed all along.

EXCERPT:

Littleton, South Carolina

Gerard Pontillier, walked alone back to his house. The fun on the beach was not what he was looking for now. His friends would understand and attribute his sudden departure to homesickness. Since returning from Vancouver two weeks ago, he had been noticeably sullen.

Of course, missing his family was not the reason. There had been no messages from Kandi. He had searched the site almost hourly for any sign that she had been active.

Stupid kiss.

He would most likely never see her again. She was probably turned off and afraid. There was something more intimate about kissing than fucking and being fucked. Especially the kissing they’d done – long slow deep caresses. That was something you shared with a lover not a dominant for hire. He’d crossed the line.

He circled through the rooms of the small beach house and wound up where his feet were surely taking him all along. To his bedroom….to his desk…to his computer.

The Blackbird site was pinned to his search bar and he only had to tap the mouse and enter his password. He immediately clicked Kandi’s profile.

She was now at a little over nine hundred views. Twelve more than she’d had this morning. She was not in the top profiles of those interested in black women for the Blackbird crowd, they wanted younger and curvier.

His fantasy, though, had evolved from his first experiences with his sister’s Somali nanny. For his eighteenth birthday, Lina had given an awkward gangly teenager the best gift of all times. She’d let him watch her masturbate while he jerked off over her. During the next few years, Lina had taught him well.

He had been despondent when his parents decided that his sister no longer needed supervision. Lina was gone. Though they kept in touch through emails, it was never the same. He had found the Blackbird group in a search after a dreadful night with his latest girlfriend when his thoughts had once again turned to Lina.

Now his thoughts turned to Kandi and he brought up their previous conversations – all the things he wouldn’t get to enjoy doing to her.

He slipped his cock out of the swim shorts and began stroking himself as he read. He jerked himself into the memory of exploding inside her.

Dark Pleasures – Claire’s Journey is available through March 25, 2013 as a free download from Smashwords with coupon code BV65E.

Hot Reading, Y’all! ~Val

(BTW, I designed the cover! Yay, me.)

Meet Mohana ~ A Writer and a Mom

I hope you’ve enjoyed the last days with one of my new favorite authors and her take on multicultural romance in this month of creative romance.  And not only is she a fantastic writer, but she is also a busy mom and I envy her ability balance it all!

Just take a look at what she’s done

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I don’t know what to starting reading next, but with Mohana, I’m sure I’ll be in for a treat.

About the Author:

authorphotoMohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion.  She has since published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace. Most recently, From Dunes to Dior, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. After she joined the e-book revolution, she dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha.

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A Wedding Nightmare by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

When pregnant with our first child, girls were on my mind. In our line of 13 cousins, only two were boys. My sister had three daughters. I was the second of two females in our family, delaying the arrival of the much-anticipated son, our brother.

Imagine my shock when the technician said that the person growing inside me was a boy. ME? The host to a male? My husband asked if I was okay. Apparently my coffee colored South Indian skin went white.

I am a feminist. I don’t apologize for thinking that women are equal to men, that we deserve equal pay and also respect for the work we do at home (often while juggling full time jobs). I don’t think all our struggles have been achieved and that feminism was for another era. I know all over the world girls can’t go to school; women can’t say no to their husbands if they have headaches.

My contemporary romance novel is not the typical bodice ripper. In fact, the action happens partly in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar where bodices are covered up, not exposed.

Perhaps the heroine, Hind’s, struggle against an arranged marriage to her cousin Abdulla is stereotypical both of the genre and perceptions of the region.

While I was writing Hind’s quest to live her own life, I had a startling realization. Another character in the story, Abdulla, was as reluctant as the heroine. As the hero, despite being a Qatari male, he was as restrained by cultural expectations as Qatari women.

When we expect women to be happy with their traditional roles, we put men in boxes as well. This was perhaps the most profound revelation I had while writing this book, made me not only more sympathetic to men, but also excited about being the mother of a boy.

Instead of anticipating their wedding day with the flowers, bells, whistles, and fireworks Hollywood, Disney, and Hallmark have ingrained in us, Hind and Abdulla saw their wedding day as the day of sentencing. They would sacrifice their own hopes, dreams, and desires for the expectations of family, hoping, eventually, the “love would come later” as the relatives around them promise.

Luckily for the reader, this isn’t quite what happened. I hope you enjoy the excerpt here of my novel LOVE COMES LATER.

Have you seen the myth of the perfect wedding distract friends or family from the important fact two people are joining their lives together?

 lovecomeslaterPrologue

Abdulla’s mind wasn’t on Fatima, or on his uncles or cousins. Not even when he drove through the wrought iron entry gate, oblivious to the sprawl of family cars parked haphazardly in the shared courtyard, did he give them a thought. Despite the holy season, his mind was still hard at work. Mentally, he clicked through a final checklist for tomorrow’s meetings.  I can squeeze in a few more hours if Fatima is nauseous and sleeps in tomorrow, he thought, rubbing his chin. Instead of the stubble he had anticipated, his whiskers were turning soft. A trim was yet another thing he didn’t have time for these days, though longer beards were out of fashion according to his younger brother Saad, who had been trying to grow one for years. Beard length. Just another change to keep up with.

Change was all around him, Abdulla thought. The cousins getting older, he himself soon to become a father.  Abdulla felt the rise of his country’s profile most immediately in the ballooning volume of requests by foreign governments for new trade agreements. By the day, it seemed, Qatar’s international status was growing, which meant more discussions, more meetings.

He slid the car into a gap in the growing shadow between his father and grandfather’s houses. It would have to serve as a parking space. The Range Rover door clicked shut behind him as he walked briskly toward his father’s house, BlackBerry in hand, scrolling through his messages. Only then did the sound of wailing reach him, women in pain or grief, emanating from his Uncle Ahmed’s house across the courtyard. He jerked the hands-free device out of his ear and quickened his pace, jogging not toward the majlis where the rest of the men were gathering, but into the main living area of Uncle Ahmed’s, straight toward those unearthly sounds.

The sight of Aunt Wadha stopped him short. Disheveled, her shayla slipping as she howled, she was smacking herself on the forehead. Then came his mother, reaching her arms out to him with a tender, pitying look he hadn’t seen since his pet rabbits from the souq died. But it was Hessa, his other aunt – Fatima’s mother, his own mother-in-law – who sent him into a panic.  Ashen-faced, her lips bleeding, she was clutching the evil eye necklace he had bought Fatima on their honeymoon. At the sight of it, the delicate gold cord in Hessa’s hands and not around his wife’s neck, Abdulla felt his knees buckle and the BlackBerry slip from his hand.

“What has happened?” he said. He looked from one stricken face to another.

Numbly, he saw his female cousins were there. At the sight of him the older ones, glamorous Noor and bookish Hind, both women in their own right whom he hadn’t seen in years, jerked their shaylas from their shoulders to cover their hair and went into the adjoining room. In his haste, he hadn’t said “Darb!” to let them know he was entering the room.

 

Val Reads ~ Love Comes Later

lovecomeslater

This sweet romance gave the term contemporary a whole new meaning for me.

Never would I have imagined arranged marriages and separate rooms for men and women in a modern romance and yet, Love Comes Later encompasses just that. This is truly a story of love conquering all. Despite differences in culture and religion, Abdulla and Sangita overcome major obstacles in order to remain together.

Ms. Ranjakumar delivers well-developed characters and a cultural viewpoint that is amazing. I was not only entertained and in love with the characters, but in love with the history as well.

I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow to learn a little more about this wonderful author and her work.

~Val