I've been answering readers questions one at a time, so I thought I'd write a entry for the masses. I'm going to answer the question that I'm sure is on a lot of your minds. "What the heck is taking so long?" I admit, this year has not been my best publishing year. I had all these plans for book releases, and then life got in the way. I've always heard if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. It seems it's my curse. When I try to plan stuff out, something always occurs that ends up destroying said plans. I've learned to go with the flow and not plan ahead, but in this business I can't really be like that. Recently my life has been somewhat stressful. For a creative person, this can be our kryptonite.
My father has kidney disease and over the summer was rushed to the hospital for loss of blood. They ended up having to give him four blood transfusions. I am constantly worried about him, and this event spiked my stress. Next, in August I had surgery, which was stressful because it was the first time I've ever been in the hospital. It took me about a week to recover. Later in August, my husband and I put in an offer for a new house. The process was dragged out for three months! I was beyond stressed over the whole ordeal. Finally, on November 13th, we closed on the house and started to move. Within a week, one of my cats (with diabetes) ended up passing away. If you should know one thing about me, it's that I am a HUGE animal lover. The loss of our cat Macy broke my heart. Things are now slowly starting to get back on track now. In no way am I using any of these occurrences as excuses. I just wanted to let you guys know I haven't been deliberately avoiding my writing.
Hexed - This book is the one I am most apologetic for. I am an avid reader myself and hate when books end on a cliffhanger. That being said, when Coveted ended with a cliffhanger, I did not intend to make you guys wait over a year for the next book. I was all set to release Hexed in October, had half of the book done in August or September, and then I LOST THE ENTIRE BOOK! I wanted to cry and smash my computer. Seriously! I've had to start the entire book over, and so far it's going fairly easy. I'm working on it night and day to have it to you guys by the end of December. To make it up to you guys, I'm including a never before published short story, and the first chapter of Gwen's sixth book, Resurrected.
Turning Home - You guys may or may not remember this one. I told you about it waaaaay back in July. At the time, I had the first part of the book done and edited. All that was left was for me to write the second part. Should have been easy, right? Wrong. For some unknown reason, I could not get Brooke and Dylan's story right. I restarted the second part at least nine times. NINE! I wanted it to be right and was happy erasing 30K if it meant I could do a better job. I finally figured out their story and have the entire book written. Now, I just have to go back through and add a few sections to make it complete. I plan to have this published in December or January at the latest.
A Christmas Yet to Come Anthology- I'm not behind on this one, but I thought I'd add it to the list. If you've read my other anthologies, you'll be familiar with this book. It's a collection of nine short stories. We write these books for our loyal readers who know and love our characters. This will be the first Anna Avery short story, and is set to release in about two weeks.
So, from the bottom of my heart I want to apologize for making you guys wait. It bothers me more than you know. I want my books published just as much as you guys do. They do me no good sitting on my computer. I hope that once these books are published you'll think they were worth the wait. Thanks for sticking with me.
Introducing the authors of REB
REB stands for Romantic Edge Books and is a group of nine authors who've found friendships through writing and reading romance books. Our little group includes: Me (Stephanie Nelson), Liz Schulte, Olivia Hardin, C.G. Powell, Tawdra Kandle, Melissa Lummis, Amanda Latzel, Lola James and Mandie Stevens. Each of us has complied a list of 20 things you might not have known about us.
1. I cannot whistle, no matter how many times I try.
2. The first book I remember reading was The Secret Garden.
3. My favorite season is autumn. I look forward to those couple months all year.
4. I am very knowledgable about home renovations. (Thanks to my dad) So much so that I had to teach my husband how to do stuff. (Shh...don't tell him I told you guys that.)
5. One of my favorite past times is fishing.
6. My favorite Disney movie is Alice in Wonderland. I was envious of Alice when I was little and wanted to fall down a rabbit hole.
7. My favorite items of clothing are jeans and hoodies.
8. I met my husband online and we've been happily married for 11 years.
9. I played volleyball from fifth grade to sophomore year of high school.
10. I have one tattoo on my leg of three stars.
11. My favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice.
12. I love animals and have a cat that I brought home when I was twelve. He's nineteen years old and still spunky.
13. When I was little, my sister and I would make up dance routines for our favorite songs.
14. I am the youngest of four.
14. I have seen a ghost, and the memory still scares me.
15. I visit the local graveyard every autumn because I find it peaceful.
16. I'm a nerd for Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong video games.
17. I am deathly afraid of sharks, even if IL doesn't have them.
18. Aside from writing, I am a graphic artist and create book covers for other authors.
19. My favorite place to be is home.
Check out the other REB members 20 things!
For those who haven't heard, I've had a setback with the release of Hexed. Somehow, I lost what I had written and have had to start all over. (sigh) Luckily, I know these characters very well and it hasn't been too difficult making up the words I lost. Aside from that, I'm in the process of moving. Life has been a little hectic but I'm still pushing through and plan to have Hexed done by the end of October and published early November. Hexed is going to be a little different than the previous three books. It will be written from Gwen and Dorian's POV (point of view), so you guys will hear from both characters. Here is the first chapter. I hope you enjoy. Note: This is the unedited version.CRAVED (book one) is currently FREE on Amazon until September 29th!
~ Gwen ~
“Oomph.” I slammed into a hard body, bouncing back and stumbling. Just as I was about to topple over and crash onto the cold asphalt, a hand wrapped around my arm and saved me from falling. I brushed my long ebony hair out of my eyes and came face to face with Dorian—the man who claimed to be my boyfriend. After seeing the elf woman bring dead rose vines to life and entrap Dorian from hurting me, I was more than a little shaken up. Did I forget to mention that someone zapped my brain? Yeah, it was blank up there. I knew the basic stuff like how to count, the alphabet and everyday things like that, but faces, towns and my history was a huge blank spot. Every time I tried to recall who I was, where I came from or who the big ruggedly handsome man before me was, my head filled with static noise.
Dorian released me, holding his hands up in surrender as though the action would convince me he wasn’t going to hurt me. His appearance contradicted the friendly gesture though. At six-foot-three, the man towered over me. He had shoulder-length brown hair that brushed against the leather of his motorcycle jacket. His legs, swathed in black jeans, were muscular and strong as were his broad shoulders. I couldn’t tell with the darkness of the night, but if I had to guess, I’d say his trim waist was just as muscular and full or washboard ripples. Despite how menacing he appeared, I couldn’t deny that he was attractive, very attractive.
“Gwen,” he said and I could tell he was using a soothing tone to assure me everything would be all right. I wasn’t buying it, not after he chased me down the street and I witness things that shouldn’t be possible.
“Gwen,” I repeated, testing the name for familiarity. It didn’t trigger any of my lost memories. “Is that my name?”
He nodded slowly, the light from the streetlamp reflecting off his aviator sunglasses. Why the hell was he wearing sunglasses in the middle of the night?
“Someone cursed you,” he continued in that same soothing tone, “that is why you cannot remember anything. Don’t worry though, when I find the bitch that did this, her soul is as good as mine.”
I arched an eyebrow, taking a step back. “You’re like her aren’t you, the elf woman?”
Dorian shook his head, a slow smile slipping across his mouth. “I’m much worse.”
Yep, I’d been smart to be afraid of him. His good looks were only a mask he used to hide the monster within.
My gaze skirted around the town. “You said someone cursed me?” I asked. “As in, witches, potions and spells?”
He shrugged as though I hadn’t just asked him the most ridiculous question. “It could have been a witch, but they’re not the only ones capable of casting.”
I ran my hands over my face and through my hair. This was all too much, elfin women, witches, magic and curses. What sort of town was I in and why on earth would someone want to curse me?
“I’m imagining all of this, right?” I asked, a nervous laugh bubbling up my throat. “I bumped my head and now I’m hallucinating.” I stared at Dorian expectantly, though why was beyond me. It wasn’t like a delusion would confirm that yes, I was crazy.
“You don’t know what you are, do you?”
“Other than confused?” I asked. “No, what am I?”
“A spirit walker.”
I stared at him dumbfounded. “I don’t know what that is,” I said, “but it doesn’t sound good.”
“Come on.” Dorian motioned with his head and started walking down the street. I stood in the same spot deciding if I should follow him or take off running again. I had two options. I could either run around a town I didn’t know for who knows how long, or I could follow Dorian and maybe learn what happened to me. I didn’t trust him, but he was my best choice at this point.
I started forward, making sure to keep my distance from the attractive stranger. We walked wordlessly for a few seconds. Every once in a while I snuck glances at Dorian, wondering how we knew each other. The possibility that he might be my boyfriend just didn’t seem realistic, not that I knew what was or wasn’t realistic at the moment. I just got a sense that he wasn’t my usual type of guy.
“What is a spirit walker?”
“Hmm?” Dorian asked, almost as though his mind had been somewhere else and I caught him off guard.
“You said that I’m a spirit walker,” I said, “what is that?”
“Promise not to freak out?”
“Is it something that provokes a freak out?”
The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. “I guess we’ll find out. A spirit walker is special type of witch.” My mouth dropped open at the information. “They specialize in death, ghosts specifically. You can sense, see, touch and control them.”
I tried very hard not to freak out, but only because Dorian expected me to. I wanted to prove him wrong and show that I wouldn’t go running down the streets screaming. Well, not again anyway.
“And this is why someone…cursed me?”
His broad shoulders lifted in a shrug. “Perhaps, though with you it could be a number of reasons.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
He stopped walking and faced me, a slow smile slipping onto his lips. “It means, you have a tendency to attract trouble. If something is going down, you can bet your ass will be at the root of it or affected by it. You’re just lucky you have me to watch over you.”
I frowned. “So, your what, my bodyguard? Where were you when my brain got zapped?”
Dorian’s smile faded, his face going steely. “Come on.”
Instead of asking more questions, I followed alongside Dorian and focused on the crunching of our shoes. We’d just made it to the end of the street when we turned right and the heart of the city opened up. Cute little shops lined either side of the street, their lights reflecting through their windows and illuminating the sidewalks. A few people walked, shopping bags in hand, but none seemed unordinary. As I eyed each person, I wondered what they were and what they could do. Were they witches like I supposedly was, or elves like the woman who bewitched the rose bushes? My eyes flicked over to Dorian again. He’d said that he was worse than the elf. Even with my shoddy brain, I knew whatever he was had to be bad. Why was I associated with him if that was true?
“So…” I began after the silence grew too heavy for all the questions lingering on my tongue. “All this is real, huh? Monsters exist and I’m one of them. I’m not being pranked am I?”
“Yes, it’s all real and no, you’re not being pranked.” Dorian’s steps quickened and I had to speed walk to keep up. Whatever he was looking for must be important. Maybe it was the key to getting my memories back.
We stopped outside of a bakery named Twisted Treats. The storefront window displayed rows upon rows of cupcakes, decorating in various shades of pinks, purples, reds and greens. Each had sprinkles that had a faint glow emitting from them. I bent down, pressing my face against the glass and stared in awe. They were beautiful in a weird sort of way, very magical, though I wasn’t sure they were edible. Is something that glows safe to eat?
I jumped at the sound of Dorian slamming his fist against the front door. He tried the handle, curling his large hand around it and jigging until I thought it would break off.
“Son of a bitch,” he snarled.
I stared at him with wide eyes. “I’m sure we can find cupcakes somewhere else if you really want one.”
“Come on,” he said in that same snarly tone. Pushing forward, he headed down the sidewalk and disappeared between two buildings.
My eyes fell on the sparkly cupcakes again. I’d never seen anything like them. Little rays of light bounced off and casted an undulating rainbow against the glass.
“Gwen,” Dorian called, his voice echoing down the alley.
Pulling my eyes away from the colorful display, I looked down the sidewalk to find Dorian waiting for me at the mouth of the alley. I’d heard of women craving chocolate, but men going bat shit crazy for cupcakes was new to me.
“I don’t think you’ll find any pastries down there.” I headed down the sidewalk. “Besides, I think we have more pressing issues than your craving. We need to figure out how to get my memories back.” I paused, realizing that I had included him in my mission to fix my broken head. For all I knew, he was responsible for my dementia. I had to remind myself that I didn’t actually know Dorian, which meant I couldn’t fully trust him.
“That’s what we’re doing,” Dorian said, slipping his fingers through mine. My body stiffened as our skin made contact. A flash of memory flickered though my head: Dorian’s body curled over mine, his hot mouth searing a path along my neck...then blankness again. The memory faded and I was back to not remembering how I knew Dorian, though the flashback suggested I knew him in the intimate sense.
I blinked and looked up at him. “Uh…you and me were…I mean…you’re my boyfriend, right? That’s what you said.”
Another shrug. I noticed he did that a lot. “In a sense, yes.”
“What does that mean?” I asked. “You either are or aren’t.”
“Why the sudden interest?”
I bit my bottom lip, the memory of us still fresh in my head. “I remembered something I think.”
Dorian’s eyebrows arched over his sunglasses. “What was it?”
I hesitated for a moment, unsure if I should tell him. What if we hadn’t been intimate and it was some long lost fantasy that decided to pop into my head? There would be no words for how embarrassing that would be.
“You and me,” I said, staring down the alley instead of at him. His fingers tightened around mine, drawing my attention back to him. Slowly, he started toward me, his face unreadable. Worried, I moved back until the brick wall of the bakery stopped me. Releasing my hand, he caressed the side of my face with more gentleness than I thought a man of his size possible.
“I thought I lost you completely,” he whispered, and then leaned forward and brought his mouth to mine. The shock of his boldness brought me up short. I fisted his leather coat in my hands and shoved against him, only to have him press harder against me. When his tongue slipped between my lips, all ideas of pushing him away fled from my mind. I opened my mouth, welcoming him inside and kissed him back. My already fuzzy head got a whole helluva lot fuzzier with his dizzying kiss. I should have known that a man that looks like him would know how to handle a woman.
He broke away from my mouth, resting his forehead against mine. “I’ll fix this, Gwen. I want you to remember all of me.” Standing up, he watched me for a long time. At least I think he was watching. Again, it was difficult to tell with those damn sunglasses.
“What’s with the sunglasses?”
A half smile bent one side of his mouth up. “They conceal what I am.”
“And what are you?” I took a step toward him. Reaching up, I gripped either side of his glasses and withdrew them from his face. His eyelids were closed, hiding his eyes from me. Slowly, he opened them and all I could do was stare in awe. Wispy gray clouds churned within his sockets as if a thunderstorm brewed within him. He didn’t have an iris or pupil, just a blanket of foggy clouds.
“They’re amazing,” I breathed.
“You’re afraid,” he responded, taking his sunglasses from my hand and replacing them onto his face. “That’s why I didn’t want you to see them.”
“I’m not. They’re just…I’ve never seen anything like them before.”
He snorted. “Actually, you have. You just don’t remember.”
“What are you?” I asked again.
“We should check out the rest of the store.”
Want more teasers? Check out my page on Facebook
It has been two years since I published Craved, my first book! I remember that day vividly because I was so frickin' nervous. Writing a book is a journey, one I wasn't sure I wanted to share with the world. I am so happy that I did. I have met amazing people and am continuously awed by the response my books have gotten. Authors cannot survive without the support of loyal readers. To know that I have so many is a blessing and inspiring. I can never thank each and every one of you enough for allowing me to live my dream. I have sold over 100,000 books and still cannot believe it! I want to thank my readers for their support and giving me purpose to finish my next book. I write each and every one for you guys! This giveaway is just a small way of showing my thanks! I will pick two winners! The giveaway is open internationally too! Can't forget about my overseas readers now can I? = )
Eternal Summer is a collection of eight paranormal short stories. Authors include: Olivia Hardin, C.G. Powell, Mandie Stevens, Liz Schulte, Lola James, Tawdra Kandle, Stephanie Nelson and Melissa Lummis.
List of storiesOne Bite Paradise by Olivia Hardin - author of the Bend-Bite-Shift trilogy
Jill’s wish gave Doc a new chance at life – literally. Almost a decade of years have passed since Jill watched her lover get killed and now that time is like a chasm between them. Can they learn how to make One Bite of Paradise become an eternity? Cat Napped by C.G. Powell - author of the Terra Stellar series
Tempers fly, when Sarik makes last minute changes to Jael’s and his vacation plans. How far will he go to get back in her good graces?Eternally Yours by Mandie Stevens
Eva and Thomas are bound by magic and are getting on each others' nerves. Eva is ready for a vacation, but when someone from Thomas' past is in trouble, her holiday comes second to saving a soul from Hell.Dark Remnants by Liz Schulte - author of the Guardian trilogy, the Easy Bake Coven series and the Ella Reynolds series.
Ella Reynolds and vacations do not mix—but she is willing to give it a try for Gabriel. However, when she stumbles across the ghost of a young woman who needs her help, all thoughts of fun and relaxation vanish from her mind. Can Ella solve this mystery before her vacation ends or will the spirit be trapped in an infinite loop forever?Bound by Fate by Lola James - Author of the Spellbound series
Ben thought his trip to New York would be just like any other -- find two random people, nurture their love, and leave before his presence is detected. But when he runs into someone from his past, business as usual becomes complicated.The worlds of the Spellbound Series and the Fate Trilogy blend in Bound By Fate.Stardust on the Sea by Tawdra Kandle - Author of the King series
Cathryn Whitmore does not want a vacation, not even in beautiful Cape May. But when she encounters a hot college professor at a bed and breakfast with a ghostly mystery, she just may change her mind. Cursed Cove by Stephanie Nelson - Author of the Gwen Sparks and Anna Avery series
Gwen and Dorian head to Hawaii, but not for fruity drinks or sunbathing. A string of murders taint what the locals are calling Cursed Cove. Haunted by the infamous Captain Clarke, Gwen and Dorian must figure out how to rid the beach of the demonic ghost before more locals lose their lives.Daylight Come by Melissa Lummis - Author of the Love and Light series
Some fun in the sun was just what Loti needed, but from the moment she and Wolf arrive at the not- so-quaint hotel, they know something's off about the place. Cockroaches, dirty linens and an unkempt room turn out to be the least of their worries. An evil spirit haunts the beach front resort and it has no intentions of letting them check out until it gets what it wants. Can they solve the mystery before daylight comes? Buying Links - Amazon - Barnes & Noble
I know you guys are used to paranormal stories from me, but the story of Turning Home came to me out of the blue and I could not stop thinking about it. Within a week I had half of the book already written. I'm loving the characters, and I can't wait to hear what you guys think of them too.
Turning Home will be told from both the girl - Brooke Kingsley- and the guy - Dylan Crawford- point of view, and is scheduled to release in late July/early August!
This snippet is an unedited version.
“Gun it,” he called, taking a step away from the tires. His hands and the knees of his jeans were covered in mud. He swiped his forehead with the back of his arm and met my eyes in the side mirror. Realizing that I was staring, I brought my attention back to the windshield and pressed on the gas. The truck rocked forward, the engine revving against the suction of the mud.
“Stop,” Dylan yelled.
I pressed on the brake and looked in the side mirror again. Bubbles of loud laughter fell from my lips when I saw what had happened. The tires had splattered Dylan from head to toe in mud. My hand went to my mouth as I tried to silence my amusement. I shrieked when the driver’s side door whipped open and Dylan looked at me with a mischievous glint in his green eyes.
“You think that’s funny?”
He was reaching for me before I could respond, pulling me out of the truck. He slung me over his shoulder and spun around a few times. I gripped his shoulder so tightly, I was afraid I would draw blood.
“Put me down,” I said through another fit of laughter.
“You want down?” Dylan’s hands skimmed my legs, his fingers raking over my skin in a hot caress. I stopped laughing, catching my breath as I paid attention to his every move. He slipped one of my shoes off and then the other, walking back over to the truck and throwing them inside the cab.
“What are you doing?”
“You wanted down,” he said, “I didn’t think you’d want to get mud on those fancy shoes.”
He wasn’t really going to set me down in the mud, was he?
He sure as hell was.
He lowered me off his shoulder, my body sliding down his until my bare feet landed in slimy earth. I gasped, kicking up one of my heels and cringing at how gross it felt against my skin.
“I cannot believe you just did that.” I held onto his arms to steady myself. When I was sure I had my balance, I turned and worked my way back to the truck. As I took a step forward, one of my feet snagged in the muck and down I went. I landed on my butt and cringed when I felt the squishiness of the dirt beneath my body.
Dylan’s laughter filled my ears, enraging me. Didn’t he know how expensive my clothes were? I twisted around and eyed him with disdain. Before I knew it, I had a handful of mud and I was throwing it at him. It landed on his left leg, splattering against his already dirty jeans.
“Oh, someone wants to play, huh?” he bent down and dipped his hand in the mud.
“What?” I gasped. “No, you better not.”
I braced my hands on the ground and worked to get my legs beneath me, slathering them in more dirt. I had never been this filthy in my life. My Chloe shorts and Calvin Klein silk top were ruined. When I was finally on my feet again, Dylan walked over to me and ran his dirty finger down the bridge of my nose. He smiled and my anger disappeared at the playfulness in his eyes. All I could think about was getting him back. Bending down, I grabbed two handfuls of mud and flung it at him. Some landed on his face while the other hit his shoulder. I took off running when he starting getting more sludge. We chased each other around the truck, launching handfuls of mud at one another. Dylan dipped down, disappearing from my view. I lifted myself up on my tiptoes, craning my neck to see the other side of the truck when he came running around the back end. I squealed and took off toward the front, laughing.
Dylan’s arms enclosed around my waist and I let out another excited shriek, falling into fits of laughter. I felt his chuckles against the side of my throat as his arms held me tighter against his chest. I have traveled to many places: Italy, Europe, Mexico, but my favorite place in the world was right where I was—in Dylan Crawford’s arms. Or maybe that was the butterflies in my stomach and the sputtering of my heart clouding my judgment.
“You are something else, Brooke Kingsley.”
I turned in his arms so that I could see him and giggled at how dirty his face was. He had a smear of mud across his bottom lip and I found myself reaching up to brush it away. His lips parted beneath my fingertips, and suddenly neither of us were laughing anymore. My eyes snapped up to his and then I was on my tiptoes kissing him.