Friday, February 26, 2021

Book Birthday (Week) Spotlight: Jackson by LaQuette

This week, I'm breaking ranks and bringing a friend of a friend who I hope will become a direct friend: Award-winning author LaQuette. Not only does she have an amazing blog of sermons for the Non-Denominational Romance Covers Temple of Worship (which you should go read right now because it's glorious - I wanted to bring the WHOLE blog over for your edification but it would only distract from the lusciousness offered up below) LaQuette has a brand new novel out this week. It's a smoking toasty hot contemporary romance and my friends, I can ask for nothing more!

From celebrated author LaQuette comes a sizzling opposites attract Texas Ranger romance that will leave you breathless... Aja Everett longs to turn her old family ranch into a place where anyone can find rest and healing. But her big heart's bound to get her in trouble if she's not careful—someone wants her gone, and they'll do whatever it takes to drive her away from the land that's her lifeblood. Whether she's willing to admit it or not, she needs help. She needs a man like Ranger Jackson Dean. Jackson doesn't trust love. He once made the mistake of following his heart and all he'd gotten was pain in return. But when city-slicking do-gooder Aja Everett asks for his help, he can't stay away...and as attraction sizzles and protective instincts flare, she may be the only woman able to restore the heart of this Texas Ranger. Get out your fans for this steamy contemporary romance which features a hunky Texas Ranger with trust issues and a confident, sexy, full-figured heroine who believes in the best in people. Sometimes oil and water are meant to mix.

Buy Link for Jackson

Excerpt: Jackson by LaQuette

Jackson tried to keep his mind empty as he waited in his office for Gleason and Jennings to arrive with Aja Everett. It was a common practice of his, mellowing enough to push distractions out of his head before the start of a case. But every time he attempted to do it, the image of the confident woman striking a model’s pose with her hip jutted out and her hands on her waist popped into his head.

Jackson caught himself groaning and was thankful Colton and Storm had left him alone. The idea of having to explain to his coworkers why he was so distracted had no appeal.

He glanced down at the open case file on his desk and thumped his finger on top of it. The three of them at the ranch weren’t nearly enough to investigate as many angles as they needed to, but they’d been in tighter spots, and they worked well together. With Gleason and Jennings backing them up at headquarters, hopefully there would be a quick and effective end to all of this. Because if the way he couldn’t take his eyes off the sumptuous beauty’s photo was any sign, spending time with Aja Everett was bound to be a problem for him.

A tap on his door drew his attention as Colton leaned in. “Gleason and Jennings are in the parking lot with Ms. Everett. You want me to put her in one of the interrogation rooms?”

Jackson shook his head. She was the niece of a sitting judge and the victim of a serious crime. Putting her in an interrogation room could be misconstrued in all sorts of ways. That was grief he didn’t need. “No, bring her in here.”

Colton tapped on his phone’s screen. When he was done, he opened the door wide and he and Storm walked in. “Message sent. They’ll come directly here.”

Another knock on the door, and Jennings stepped inside, greeting Jackson and their colleagues while holding the door open and jerking a thumb behind him. Jackson blinked, and suddenly Aja Everett was filling his doorway in the flesh.

And what lovely flesh it was. She wore a red blouse with a black fitted suit vest and matching black slacks that hung like a second skin on her. No way she pulled that outfit off any rack, the way the material seemed to lovingly hold each of her curves. It was a power suit, battle armor for the powerful attorney the preliminary background check he’d run said she was.

“Morning, Ranger Dean.” A bright smile graced her lips. “May I come inside?”

Jackson was caught off guard by the greeting. Her outfit, the stacked platform heels that peeked out from the hem of her pants, even the blood-red matte lipstick she wore told him firmly she was poised to attack. Her easy smile seemed out of place.

“Please, call me Jackson.” He ushered her into the room, then pointed to Colton and Storm seated at the conference table. “These are the rest of my team members, Colton Adams and Storm Cordero.” She waved at each of them before looking at Jackson. “Can I offer you a cup of coffee before we begin?”

“From a federal building?” She shook her head. “I care about my health more than that. In fact, I brought my own coffee and snacks too.” She raised her hand in a graceful wave and pointed toward the door. Like magic, Gleason appeared at the door pushing a cart with a large thermal coffee dispenser and two large, insulated food bags.

Jackson closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He moaned as his stomach protested that breakfast so far had been one-and-a-half cups of bad black coffee.

He opened his eyes, and his chest tightened as he took in the sight of her again. She looked even more tempting standing in front of him now than she had in the picture in her file.

She unzipped the food bags and placed out two large pans of what looked and smelled like the best cinnamon rolls he would ever have in his life. When she was finished setting up the food and made disposable cutlery and flatware appear out of thin air, she returned to Jackson and his men with a broad, welcoming smile.

“You didn’t need to go through this kind of trouble, Ms. Everett.”

She lifted her shoulders, dismissing his comment. “My mama taught me to never show up anywhere empty-handed. It’s bad manners.”

He chuckled. Aja might be a New Yorker, but her southern sensibilities were definitely showing.

“Now that that’s settled, I hope you gentlemen don’t mind something sweet, hot, and sticky for breakfast.”

Jackson closed his eyes again as he tried to control his breathing. He’d hoped for short and simple. But this woman standing in the middle of his office, looking the picture of a poised, dominant professional mixed with a touch of down-home goodness, was as complicated a start to this case as Jackson could imagine.

A two-dimensional Aja Everett in a photo, Jackson could deal with. But this tempting stranger, smiling as she offered him something sweet, hot, and sticky, would not be easy at all.

About the Author

Website | Email | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |Linktree

An activist for DEIA in the romance industry, LaQuette writes bold stories featuring multicultural characters. Her writing style brings intellect to the drama. She crafts emotionally epic tales that are deeply pigmented by reality's paintbrush.

This Brooklyn native's novels are a unique mix of savvy, sarcastic, brazen, & unapologetically sexy characters who are confident in their right to appear on the page.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Jealousy as a good thing

A few years ago, I was a finalist in a pre-published writing contest, and the organization was going to announce winners at a snazzy luncheon in Houston. My sister-in-law — who has been a close friend since high school and is kind of a general-purpose goddess — lived there, so I dragged her along. She’s a writer, a good one — because she does everything well — but it’s a side-project for her, more of a hobby.

As it turned out, I won that contest and got a nifty prize and some flowers, and people took my photo. It was pretty cool. After the announcement, my sister-in-law leaned over and said, admiringly but also sincerely, “I’m so jealous.”

Excuse me, what? Why?

Even then, I couldn’t credit it. And it’s always possible that she said it just to make me feel important because she loves me and knows I’m needy for validation of any sort. But also, she was saying this to me? Like, the woman who recently became vice president of a huge national corporation actually said those words to me? In what made-up reality could that even be possible? Good as it felt, that contest win ultimately had no impact on my extremely meh writing career. If successes were counted between the two of us, I wouldn’t even be on the same chart with her.

But she saw value in this thing, this contest win, enough to inspire jealousy. For a brief moment in the universe, I had something someone else wanted. 

I still think about that moment, her murmured words. It was a high point for me, and I’m grateful.

Which is why, every time a close friend surpasses me in this writing biz — and it happens a lot; I am surrounded by amazingly talented people — I try to let them know how impressive I find them. I remind them that they are where they are legitimately, that they are not imposters, that what they have achieved is valuable. Writers sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to talk down their successes, but I spend just as much energy reminding them that they are still successes.

Their successes are things that they have that I want, not to take those successes away from someone else, but to also, someday, share them. 

Jealousy is a negative word, but in practice, it doesn’t need to be mean-spirited. It’s simply reminding someone that what they have achieved is valuable, and more personally, valuable to me. Whether I’m the jealousee or the jealouser, the emotion makes me want to strive harder, and I think that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Envy: 10 Steps to Getting Over It

Envy, how I wish I was better than thee. Have I ever felt it? Oh gods, yes. Has anyone ever been envious of me? Uh. Hmm. ~ponders~ Maybe that time in 5th grade when I burped the entire alphabet without barfing. Boys in the class were surprisingly grumpy over that. Since then? No idea. 

That's the thing about envy, isn't it? It's an intensely felt emotion that outwardly presents as any number of other emotions. You're choking on entitlement that's been deprived, but if you've never learned to manage your emotions, you may not yet realize why you're rolling around like a seething pustule. You might even think you're simply angry. Or hurt. Or humiliated. People start avoiding you because you're unpleasant to be around, which compounds your foul mood. You start assigning blame to anyone but yourself. Then, as if summoned by the need to share misery, you attract other envious folks. Your single-pot stew expands into a big ol' cauldron that eventually boils over and burns you, badly.

On the other hand, if you've learned to acknowledge, identify, confront and modify your negative emotions, then you're prepared for the times when envy destroys your equanimity. For example, you learn someone else has achieved/acquired something you crave. Instantly, you're fangs-out pissed. Envy swirls around you like a bad genie freed from its lamp. But, before you allow your physical reactions to extend beyond your person, you take the very necessary moments for introspection. You walk yourself through the 10 steps: 

  • what am I feeling, 
  • why am I feeling it, 
  • is the reaction proportionate, 
  • is it focused, 
  • who else is impacted by it, 
  • do I wish to change my state of mind, 
  • if so, how, 
  • when,
  • for how long, 
  • and who will be affected by it?

For some, the outcome of that introspection is to let go of envy as if letting go of a balloon. For others, social distance is necessary while they make the emotional change (they know they're the problem and they're working to fix themselves). Still others are committed to the Fuck You, Burn It All Down approach.

Me? I'm straddling group 1 and group 2. I aspire to be firmly in group 1, but I'm also honest enough with myself that certain people or certain circumstances will hit me harder than others. Upside, it takes me less time than it once did to complete the mind shift. Progress. It's a good thing.

Emotional maturity is the only way to combat envy. And if you find yourself faltering, Don't Be a Dick is a worthy mantra.

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Green Eyed Monster

 Jealousy is an ugly thing, and I try not to let it get to me. ai prefer the idea of a friendly rivalry. "Oh, you sold a short story? Well, watch this!"

Seriously. In the worlds of one 9f the best writers I know, and he likely got the words from someone else, "the rising tide lifts all boats."

No, I don't get jealous, or if I do, I crush that negativity down as hard as I can. I think that's pretty easy for me because, after over twenty-five years in this business, I'm still pleasantly surprised by every success I have. 

That doesn't mean I haven't run across the green-eyed monster a few times. I have. Of course, I'd like to have the successes of a few of my peers. I've never won  Hugo, or a Stoker award, and nobody particularly cares if I'm ever the guest of honor at a convention, It just doesn't happen. I get that. I'm comfortably midlist. I'd like to be the next New York Times bestselling author, but if it doesn't happen, it simply isn't meant to be. 

Put another way, I'd rather celebrate the victories for me and my friends alike. I have sev3eral friends who started after me and have had more commercial success. It is what it is. I haven't had a movie made on my work, but I've been optioned a few times and so far Netflix isn't knocking at the door and HBO would rather do a sequel to Game of Thrones than come over and give me a fat check for Seven Forges. To a very real extent, it's the luck of the draw. Nothing of mine has stuck to the proverbial wall yet, but you never know. In the meantime, rather than fret over those things. I'll worry about whether or to I can manage the rent this month. It's a more pressing need if you see my point. 

I might get jealous, but it's nev4r for long. It's not pie. I don't have to get less because someone else gets more. Want to know another thing? The same is true in reverse.. I've run across more than a few people who thought that my success was somehow responsible for their lack of the same. I normally don't give them the time of day. On a few occasions, I've pulled them aside and we've had a chat. 

One of my favorites was a woman who could not understand why I wasn't getting her work as an editor. We'd literally met n hour earlier and apparently, she felt I should have been telling ev4ryone about her editorial services. Listen, while I will often help a person out by recommending them, I didn't know her at all. I had never dealt with her I felt no obligation to sing the gospels of her editorial services to anyone. I still don't.   Why would I then tell people how amazing her skills are?

Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Maybe she thought that was how networking is handled, but, no, thanks. Not for me.

does that sound selfish? it isn't meant to. but why would I trust the skills of someone I don't know? Why would I risk giving someone bad advice that way? I'm all for helping others mv4e forward with their careers, but not because it is demanded of me. 

That's like trying to demand a quote from Stephen King for mt next book. Good heavens, why would he? We've literally never met.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Battling Author Envy

This week at the SFF Seven we're talking about ENVY. We're asking if things have ever gotten weird between you and another author after publishing?

Yeah, they have. And it's awful and heartbreaking.

You know what else is awful and heartbreaking? Feeling that envy for other authors who seem to be more successful than we are. None of us wants to be that person, and yet none of us is immune from those green crawly fingers of professional jealousy.

So, what happened to me? It's happened a few times, with different people. The most startling cases were authors who were published before I was. I admired their books. They became friends. They were lovely and generous and helpful to me. A couple of the people I'm thinking of were ones I counted as very close friends. Women I loved. 

In every case, after I did get published and enjoyed some moderate success, they ended up just... not being my friends anymore. They essentially ghosted me on social media. One emailed me after we roomed at a convention, told me she wasn't going the next year and so I should find another roommate - then she did go, didn't tell me, and roomed with someone else. 

Did it hurt? Oh, yes, it really hurt. It still hurts to write this.

Did I wonder what I'd done to lose those friendships? Obsessively. I still think about it sometimes.

Do I know it was envy? No. It could be I said or did something. Sometimes we never know why someone stops loving us. Even if we can figure it out, there's no changing the past. 

The point of all this is that I can't control those relationships. They didn't want to be my friends anymore and I couldn't change that. I've found only one way to combat that ongoing pain, and that is to control what I can: changing myself.

I do my very best to be a good friend to others. I try to help and support other authors. I counter professional jealousy in myself any time it pricks me with its poisonous thorns. 

The best way to counter that? Flow out the opposite energy!

Read a book that you don't think is as good as yours but seems to have done better? Find something to love about it!

See an author with more followers than you have? Follow them too!

Someone is nominated for an award that you aren't? Celebrate it!

Another author is making way more money than you are? Take some of theirs!

Oh, wait...

Okay, so, it's not a perfect method. But it really does work. If you feel the pinch of professional jealousy, the most effective way to combat it is to be the opposite of that. You don't have to feel it, just act accordingly. Trust me - the feeling will follow. 

And know you're not alone. 


Dark Wizard comes out Thursday!!
Available at these Retailers

Friday, February 19, 2021

Loving Up the Backlist

 A funny thing happened at the day job last week. The manager said, "I need a Powerpoint of ALL your novels. Give me cover, reviews, awards, and a snippet of dialogue. We're trying to sell you into a gig writing character dialogue, so give me different character voices so we can play that up. Oh. And we need that NOW."

Imagine my delight then, to find this is backlist love week and I just happen to have the backlist in a neat, tidy set of slides. I'm not going to copy in an entire Powerpoint deck. I'm not that much of a monster. Usually. 

The piece of backlist I'll point up is Nightmare Ink. While searching for a snippet of dialogue that showed up a bit of character, I kept finding myself getting sucked into the story - as if I hadn't written it. That seemed like a reasonable criteria for selection. Here's the snippet and the review I found on Amazon that warmed the frosty cockles of my heart.


     “Kill it!” he wailed. “Kill it!”
     The creature shrilled in Isa’s head.
     “SHUT UP!” she shouted, yanking her hand free of Zoog’s skin. “I can’t just kill it!”
     Silence settled over the studio.
     Surprise at the pronouncement rocked her. The chill in her gut dissipated, but it took several seconds for the heat and smell of sage to drive away nausea.
     “What do you mean you can’t just kill it?” Zoog said. His voice sounded stronger.
     “It’s wounded. Bleeding. It’s a cornered animal, in pain and afraid.”
     He scowled and shook his head. “You make it sound like it’s alive, babe. This is nothing but Ink and magic, right?”
     “Who told you that?” she snapped.
     He propped himself up on his elbows and levered himself up to look her in the eye. “Daniel. While he was inking me.”
     Isa shivered. She shut out disquiet with a bracing dose of anger. “What? Daniel thinks he’s God, creating animate constructs with Ink and magic? What did you think while he was inking you, Zoog? That he’d birthed the animating force out his ass?”
     He barked a strangled laugh. “You have a way with words, Ice.”
     “Part of my charm.”
     “I know. Marry me.”
     “Sorry. I don’t like the company you keep.”
     “In part.” She smoothed damp palms down her jeans.

The Sweet Review:

I have to say - this one surprised me. What a great concept, and unique world-building.

Isa has magic and can create Living Ink, although chooses not to do it because it's dangerous. Live ink is exactly what it sounds like. Whatever is tattooed on your body, is alive, and shares living space with you.

What she does do is bind ink on those who have live ink when it goes rogue and attempts to leave the body. How creepy is that? Especially for someone who has tattoos?

Someone is summoning all of the live ink off their host's bodies, and it's killing them and the host in the process. Isa may be one of them after a psycho kidnaps her and tattoos live ink on her unless she can stop them.

Isa is an interesting character with an interesting back story, that slowly starts to come out throughout the book. She's tough and likable, and you can't wait to see her kick some ass after what's been done to her.

I couldn't put this book down. It was action-packed from the moment I turned the first page. There is a small love interest although it doesn't really turn into much of anything until late in the book, I assume it will be full-blown in the next book.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Now that Texas has seceded and the world is spiraling into chaos...

Today, Texans are dealing with a killer winter, but not too long ago our very own Vivien Jackson introduced us to the award-winning first book in her Wanted and Wired Sci-Fi Weird Western Romance trilogy with that tantalizing teaser. That's right! It's Backlist Love week here on the blog. Time to meet Mari and Heron as they heat things up in a far-future Texas.

Wanted and Wired: Book 1

Rogue scientist * technologically enhanced * deliciously attractive
Heron Farad should be dead. But technology has made him the man he is today. Now he heads a crew of uniquely skilled outsiders who fight to salvage what's left of humanity: art, artifacts, books, ideas -- sometimes even people. People like Mari Vallejo.

Gun for hire * Texan rebel * always hits her mark
Mari has been lusting after her mysterious handler for months. But when a by-the-book hit goes horribly sideways, she and Heron land on the universal most wanted list. Someone set them up. Desperate and on the run, they must trust each other to survive, while hiding devastating secrets. As their explosive chemistry heats up, it's the perfect storm...

BUY IT NOW:  Amazon Apple Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Meet the Gatekeeper on a Mission from Hel

I mailed my backlist Valentine to the first book in The Immortal Spy Urban Fantasy Series...but with DeJoy still running the post office, it probably won't get to Bix in Old Town Alexandria, VA, until St. Paddy's day.  


Political snark aside, with the snowstorms locking down the nation more securely than the pandemic, now is a great time to meet Bix, a gatekeeper with amnesia and a vendetta; Tobek, the don't-call-me-a-Viking commander of the Berserkers; and Gurp, the walking forensics lab goblin. Oh, and did I mention Bix's best friend is a body thief and her mentor in the spy game is an electricity-wielding demigod? Go ahead, start a new adventure that will take you across this World and many others.

The Immortal Spy: Book 1

Gods. Always ready to screw you.

When Bix the Gatekeeper is summoned from exile a hundred and seventy years early by the goddess of the Norse Under World, the former Dark Ops agent knows there’s a catch. On the surface, the terms of the deal are simple. Someone attacked the pantheon’s ambassador to the Mid Worlds and left the ambassador in a coma. In exchange for early parole, Bix must identify the perpetrator and drag their soul to Hel.

It’d be a sweet contract, if not for the details. The ambassador is Bix’s ex-girlfriend, the lead suspect is the key witness from Bix’s trial, and the organization leading the official investigation is the same intelligence guild that disavowed Bix when a covert op went pear-shaped. Undeterred, Bix returns to her old stomping grounds where clues in the smoldering woods of Centralia, Pennsylvania, lead to the waterfront of Washington, DC, and Worlds beyond.

Once valued for her skills creating passageways as small as a capillary or as large as a continent, Bix’s success now depends on the relationships she was forced to abandon. As she squares off against friends who betrayed her and enemies keen to destroy her, Bix follows a trail of secrets, torture, and treason that leads to the very superpowers who banished her. With her freedom on the line and revenge within reach, this highly-trained operative will take on Fates, dragons, angels, and gods to get exactly what she wants.

Hel hath no fury like a burned spy.

Overdrive (for Libraries)