KISS OF LIFE Update

As you might know, I planned to release Vivica and Niko’s story this month. As you might not know, some shizz happened and my mind took me creatively in another direction… so I’m pushing Kiss of Life back to the end of November.

Pray for Mojo...

Pray for Mojo…

This year has been crazy in terms of writing. Other than a ridiculously long break between Kiss of Fire and Flower in the Desert (four months, ugh. Never again), I’ve been releasing a book a month. It’s a fast pace and sometimes I can keep up and sometimes I can’t. Some books come easily (The Burning One) and other books are a fight to the death (Stone Cold Knockout). I’m hoping that Kiss of Life won’t fight me. I’m so excited to have all the St. James gang together in one book!

I’ll admit it – the pressure is stressing me out and it’s kind of frying my brain. Unfortunately, I did it to myself! Next year, there’s no way I’m going to take that long of a break in between releases. It’s haunted me ever since 😦

So look for Kiss of Life in November! I’ll let you know my release date when I have it.

As for those wanting to know my dark erotica pen name… you can PM me on Facebook and I’ll give it to you πŸ™‚

To Stand Alone Or Not To Stand Alone…

So I decided to shake up the release schedule, just a bit. I’ve pushed Stone Cold Knockout back to August so that I can focus on finishing up a stand alone novella called Flower in the Desert.

Love this colorful cover!

Why, you may ask?

The short answer is that I don’t want to rush SCK, which is the first novel in my new House of Pain series. The first book in a series is always the most read, and it is also often the deciding factor on whether people will continue to read the other books in the series or not. So for that reason, I’m taking my time on it. I’m letting it marinate. But it’s gonna be REAL GOOD, I swear.

Which brings me to Flower in the Desert. I’m a (teeny-bit) scared to publish another stand alone because my last stand alone, The Burning One, was such a flop. Full disclosure- The Burning One is my worst selling title by far, despite the fact that it’s gotten decent reviews. I also think it’s my best plotted book so far and the characters are really interesting, but hey, I’m biased.

I contribute low sales to several factors:

1) The Heroine is British-Indian, not black.The Hero is black, not white. BW/WM is the most popular romantic pairing in IR, currently. Also, she’s 35 and he’s 26 when the book starts out. The age difference might turn some readers off.

2) It’s a rock-star romance, which means there’s drug use and some kinky sexual stuff going on. Not everyone’s cuppa.

3) It’s a stand alone! Stand alones are tricky. Even though reviewers often decry cliffie endings, romantic series still rule the day. I am hoping that a tie-in with Kiss of Life will maybe convince readers to give this one a shot. Originally, Cee was supposed to be introduced in Kiss of Life, and then have his own spin-off, but I kind of jumped the gun on his story. Oopsie!

4) Price. I’ve pretty much kept The Burning One at $2.99 because I didn’t have anything else at that price point, now that the St. James Family books are $3.99. I played around with it at $0.99, and it did sell better, but not good enough to warrant keeping it that low and not making money. However, once SCK comes out, I might drop the price permanently. It is a full novel though, not a novella, so I feel kind of weird having it at $0.99. However, the more books I have out, the more I can play around with price in the future.

So why might Flower in the Desert be different? Well, first of all, it’ll be permanently priced at $0.99! That’s exciting! It’s also a different genre, romantic suspense. Lastly, the Heroine, Ruby, is black and the Hero, Jase, is Native American. I’ve been wanting to write a Native American hero for awhile. I told you guys in an earlier post about my love for the old western romances of yore. Unfortunately, they aren’t really in vogue right now. Flower in the Desert is kind of a throwback to those old romances, but set in modern times. Ruby and Jase have to lean on each other to survive in the unforgiving desert of the Grand Canyon. I’m having fun writing it, that’s for sure.

So look for Flower in the Desert soon! I’ll have a blurb up later this week. πŸ™‚

 

2014 Book Release Schedule!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Lift a frosty mug of green beer and take a gander at my 2014 Book Release schedule! Stone Cold Knockout

January 14th – Breaking the Ice (St. James Family Bonus Novella) – Available Now!

February 15th – The Burning One, a standalone novel – Available Now!

March 20th – Kiss of Fire (St. James Family: Book Two)

Early Summer- Kiss of Ice (St. James Family: Book One) Audiobook (currently in production)

Mid-Summer- Stone Cold Knockout (House of Pain #1)

Late Summer- A standalone novella or a St. James Family Bonus Novella

Mid-Fall – Kiss of Life (St. James Family: Book Three)

Winter – A Devil Named Dixon (Dirty Rotten Dixons #1) – this release is a VERY tentative! A new BWWM series.

Yay! I’m super excited about 2014! Can’t wait to get writing.

On a Kiss of Fire note, it is now in final editing/proofing stages. It WILL be out on March 20th, so look for it on that day!

New Cover Art for THE BURNING ONE

So, I decided to update the cover art for The Burning One, because I felt like the first cover didn’t really get across what the book was about. I think this new artwork is a lot more eye-catching. Woot! I feel good about it. It should be live on Amazon by the end of the day. Very exciting.

When I decided to write The Burning One as a stand-alone, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to market it! It’s a rock-star romance (such stories usually involve drug-use, multiple partners, and other wild and crazy scenarios) which hasn’t really gotten a hold in the Interracial/Multicultural romance niche. Stories about billionaires still rule in our little corner of romance, but I’m going to keep chipping away at that as much as I can. Otherwise, it’s going to get stale, and we can’t have that! Interracial/Multicultural romance is my jam and I love that superstar writers like Dez Burke, Theodora Taylor, Kenya Wright, and Violette Dubrinsky are trying to take the niche in new directions and to new heights.

Anyway, back to writing Kiss of Fire now… see y’all on March 20th πŸ™‚

Dream of Summer with THE BURNING ONE!

Happy Friday! And, not only is it Friday, it’s also the end of February. I don’t know about you, but I’m dreaming of sun, summer, and beaches… sigh.

In celebration of the end of February, here’s a special sun-drenched excerpt from my new stand alone THE BURNING ONE, available now for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo!

Contains some strong language, so mature readers only!

photo by Groovnick via flickr.

β€œGoddamn, you are a shit driver!” Cee yelled from the passenger seat. Indira stuck her tongue out at him as she squealed around a corner.

β€œI love this car.” She patted the steering wheel of his Maserati. β€œI have weakness for shiny paint and a lot of horsepower.” She shifted gears and sped ahead, passed a car on her right, then swerved back into the left lane.

β€œWell this car is about to get wrecked.” He shook his head. β€œYou do realize this is the 101, not a fucking racetrack?” She laughed, zooming until they reached a stoplight. Then she braked abruptly, loving the car’s quick response time.

β€œOkay, out.” He unhooked his seatbelt, and opened the car door. β€œI said you could drive, but I lied.”

β€œWhat are you doing? Stopping traffic?”

β€œWe’ve got the light. Move your ass, Zee,” he said hopping out. Putting the car in park, she begrudgingly got out. She passed Zee and he slapped her ass before sliding into the driver’s seat. She waved to Freddy and Juan, in the big black SUV behind them, and then got in the passenger seat. Cars honked, but Cee was quick. He adjusted the seat and the mirrors, and traffic only got a little backed up. She poked him in the ribs as they sped forward.

β€œI was having fun.”

β€œIt’s always fun until someone gets killed,” he said, smiling. He leaned back in the seat, driving with one hand on the wheel, leaving the other one free to slide up her skirt.

β€œWe all have to die some time,” she murmured, crossing her legs to limit his access.

β€œI like this,” he said, tugging on her hem. She was wearing a new peach-colored ankle-length dress with a halter top. β€œIt’s sexy as hell.”

She glanced down at herself and shrugged. β€œI figured when in California, wear something not black. I have to get out of my New York frame of mind.”

β€œMmm-hmm,” he murmured, raising his hand to the back of her neck. Before she even felt him untying the halter, the straps were rolling down her shoulders. She squealed and slapped her hands to her chest before her tits were exposed. He laughed devilishly, eyes flicking between her and the road. β€œOh fuck yeah, I like that.”

β€œCee!” she yelled, retying the straps.

β€œOh, now you want to be modest?”

β€œExcuse me if I don’t want Mr. Hell’s Angel over here to get a good look.” She jabbed her thumb at the window, where a biker sat beside them in traffic. Cee only laughed.

β€œThat’s what you get for trying to wreck my car.”

Indira stuck out her tongue at him. Then she glanced around them, at the backed up traffic. β€œThis is awful. How do you stand it?” She was feeling her anxiety start to flare. She hated being boxed in and crowded. But Cee only shrugged.

β€œIt sucks, but I’m used to it,” he said. She laid her head back against the seat, closing her eyes. She didn’t want to ruin the day with a panic attack, so she focused on her breathing before it got out of hand. His hand dropped back to her thigh and she closed her hand around it. They sat in silence for awhile, then Cee turned on the radio, low. Eventually the flow of traffic began to move.

β€œSo where are we going anyway?” she said, after awhile.

β€œYou’ll see.”

β€œOr you could just tell me.”

β€œRelax, baby. You’re in good hands.” She could hear the smile in his voice and she rolled her head to look at him. He lifted her hand to his lips and grazed her skin with his teeth. She felt a flush of warmth go through her. She looked away from him, trying to clear her head as her heart pounded. She was in trouble and she knew it. She didn’t want to get too attached, but she was worried it was too late. You have your own life, she reminded herself. You were doing fine before he came along. But how could she go back to a life without Cee?

And of course, Colletta was never far from her mind. It was only a matter of time before Cee began asking questions about his mother. And what was she going to say? She didn’t know and she didn’t want to think about it.

Eventually, Cee made a turn off the beaten path and traffic cleared up considerably. The sun was high in the sky and it was a typically beautiful day in Southern California. Indira felt herself relaxing, absolutely at peace with Cee taking her wherever he wanted to.

β€œOh!” Indira sat up in her seat, as the ocean passed them on Cee’s side. They were driving up the rocky coast, and Indira was awed by the scene unfolding before her. β€œWow,” she whispered.

β€œI thought you might like it. It’s a private beach. Not a lot of people to bother you,” he said. And she felt her heart flutter. Oh, Chadwick Benedict, you’re good, she thought. Being alone on a beach with Cee sounded heavenly.β€œDon’t say I never gave you anything,” he teased.

β€œOh, I would never say that,” she said. He’d given her so much already. He just didn’t know how much.

They pulled off on a sandy dirt road, driving downhill to the beach. They stopped in a small empty lot and Cee put the car in park. Indira hopped out immediately and took in the magnificent view.

The ocean was a bright, deep turquoise, flecked with silver sunlight, and the sand was a creamy yellow. High, rocky cliffs framed the beach, making it seem completely secluded. She closed her eyes and breathed in the fresh sea air, her dress blowing in the breeze. Any anxiety she’d felt earlier in the day was completely gone. The sound of the crashing waves below left no room for any worries. After a moment, she turned back to Cee, who was watching her with a slight smile on his face.

β€œHow did you know I love the beach?” she asked him accusingly. She wondered vaguely if he could read her mind.

β€œThe video at the art gallery,” he said. β€œYou were on a beach.”

β€œPlaya Nacascolo, in Costa Rica,” she said, shielding her eyes from the sun with her hand. β€œYou’re observant.” He didn’t respond, just smiled wider. Then he went around to the trunk and opened it up. She kicked off her sandals and dropped them through the passenger window. Then she joined him at the trunk. He pulled out a canvas bag. β€œWhat’s that?”

β€œGraciely packed us lunch,” he said, like it was no big deal.

β€œA picnic on the beach? I think you’re trying to seduce me, Mr. Benedict.”

β€œIs it working?”

β€œAbsolutely.”

He laughed, looking pleased with himself. He held out his hand for hers and she took it. Before they headed down the path, Indira noticed that Juan’s black SUV was parked next to them in the lot, but both Juan and Freddy were still inside.

β€œAre they coming too?”

β€œNope. Just you and me.” He entwined his fingers with hers and they made their way down the rocky trail to the beach. When they reached the sand, he spread out a blanket in the shadow of the cliff and she hiked up her skirt and walked along the water, letting the cool, frothy waves crash onto her legs. She sighed, feeling good. She realized that since she’d been in L.A., she’d felt good every day. What a strange concept, especially since she hated L.A.

Cee’s arm slung over her shoulders, and she smiled up at him.

β€œSo what’s your game, Cee?”

β€œNo game,” he said, innocently.

β€œYou’re trying to make it impossible for me to go, aren’t you?”

β€œWell, you’re not going anywhere, so I don’t have to do anything.”

β€œOh, really?”

He nodded, looking confident. β€œL.A. is the best city on Earth and you should never leave.”

β€œYou’re so wrong. So, so, so wrong.”

β€œWell I’m here, so obviously it’s the best.” He was laughing now, knowing he was being a jackass, but not caring. She lifted his thumb from her shoulder and bit down on his knuckle. That only made him only laugh harder. Then he cupped her chin and kissed her softly, his lips caressing hers. She threw her arms around his neck, leaning into him. The sad thing was, he wasn’t too far from the truth. At that moment, there was nowhere in the world Indira would rather be than on a beach in L.A. with Chadwick Benedict.

When her stomach grumbled, they went back to the blanket and dug into the tote bag to see what goodies Graciely had packed for them. Barbecue chicken, Cee’s childhood favorite, a salad, fresh berries, cornbread, and an apple pie for dessert. They tore into the food, forgoing the utensils for their fingers, feeding each other and then licking their fingers clean.

β€œI’m going to marry Graciely, so you’re off the hook,” Cee said, after he ate half of the pie by himself. Indira just gave him a look, not wanting to answer him. Or acknowledge the pang that flashed through her when he mentioned marriage. She was definitely crazy. She’d only known the man for for a few months, she reminded herself for the millionth time. Well, she’d known him longer than that, but who was counting?

After lunch, a sliver of sun hit the corner of the blanket and Indira undid the straps of her halter top and arranged herself chest down in the sun. She set her chin on her folded hands with a sigh. The sun felt amazing on her skin. He was on her in half a minute, pressing kisses across her shoulders and running his big hands down her sides.

β€œCee!” she moaned, swatting at him half-heartedly.

β€œWhat?” he murmured, distracted, as he rolled her over to expose her chest. β€œI’m addicted to the way you taste.” He ran his tongue along her bare skin, and she shivered despite the heat.

β€œI’m trying to work on my tan,” she said, not even convincing herself.

β€œYou’re trying to work me up, you tease.” He tossed his shirt over his head, then buried his face in her neck. She ran her hands over his shoulders, loving the feel of his warm naked skin against hers.

β€œThank you, Cee,” she said after awhile.

β€œFor what?”

β€œFor this.”

β€œI have an ulterior motive, remember?”

β€œRight, I remember. To get in between my legs.” Indira tapped her forehead, pretending to think. β€œAlthough, let’s be honest. It’s not that hard. All you have to do is touch me and I’m yours.” She heard herself saying the words, and she knew it was the truth. She was his.

β€œZee?” he whispered her name, lightly.

β€œWhat?” she murmured.

β€œNothing,” he replied.

β€œWhat were you going to say?” she pushed, tracing the contours of his muscles under his dark skin. He didn’t answer, and they lay in silence for awhile, listening to the sound of the waves. He circled her bellybutton with his finger, absentmindedly, slowly driving her insane.

β€œCee?”

β€œWhat?” he asked.

β€œI think I like you.”

β€œYou think you like me?” he repeated, his hand stilling.

β€œYes. Maybe. Just a little bit.” He sat up, looking down at her.

β€œAfter all this, I get a maybe?”

β€œYes. Maybe.” She smiled, teasing him. β€œI think that’s pretty accurate.” Then she screamed when he tossed her over his shoulder, lifting her up and carrying her to the water. He slapped her ass, hard enough for it to tingle, and she screamed again. Her hair flew in her face, and she was laughing so hard her stomach hurt. He carried her into the waves, and dropped her into the water. When she surfaced, she bobbed along, pulling her skirt up to her waist and lazily kicking her legs. He stood knee deep in the ocean, watching her. She blew him a kiss and he shook his head, not playing.

She dipped her head back, letting the water lap against her ears. She loved the ancient sound of the waves. When she was younger, and more dramatic, she used to think drowning must be the best way to die. Slipping below the cool, dark water, and letting it squeeze the life out of her seemed romantic, somehow. Intimate. But that was a thought for a darker day. And the dark days were long behind her. Today was a great day. She let herself be swept to shore and then she took off running, her feet sinking in the soft sand and her wet skirt slapping around her legs.

Cee was close behind her, and she barely avoided his grasp before running around an outcropping of rock. Then there was nowhere else to go. She was surrounded on all sides by the cliff. Ankle-deep in water, she turned and faced him. She felt exhilarated. Clean air filled her lungs. Water ran in rivulets down her skin. Cee held an arm out, his hand trailing against the jagged rock, his eyes on her. Her cheeks were hurting from smiling so much. She couldn’t remember the last time that happened.

β€œWhy are you running from me?” He stepped closer.

β€œBecause I like when you chase me,” she said, out of breath.

The Burning One Β© 2014 Lavender Parker. All Rights Reserved.

Get The Burning One for Nook…

The Burning One is now up on B&N.com for Nook here.

I really am pleased with how the book came out, although, originally, it was only supposed to be a short novella. The story took me in some… unconventional directions, that’s for sure. It pushes the boundaries of some romance tropes, but hey, what the hell? As a self-published writer, I can push boundaries!

I love wacky, damaged Indira and charming Cee. They both just spoke to me so much. Their story gets dark in points, darker than I’m (currently) going with the St. James Family series, but I hope the readers enjoy them as much as I do!