Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Queen of All that Dies Teaser #1

For this week’s teaser Tueday, I thought I’d introduce the NA dystopian novel I’m working on, The Queen of All that Dies.

Teaser #1


Just when I thought the evening was going to be another dull meet and greet, the WUN emissary walks in, and on his arm I see her.
The emissary’s daughter. Serenity Freeman.
The world doesn’t stop moving, the room doesn’t go quiet, but I swear something inside me just broke and reformed the moment she turned her devlish eyes on me—and that’s the only way to describe those eyes of hers. Devilish. She’s a wicked soul, through and though.
Just like me.
She’s unlike the women I’m used to. Her arms are sculpted, and her body is lean beneath her dress. It’s an almost laughable contrast to the soft women that fill the rest of the room. I’m dying to lift her skirt, run my hands up those legs, and get to know just how toned the rest of her is.
As pretty as her body might be, it’s not what’s captivated me. I can’t look away from her face. In another life it might’ve been sweet. But not in this one. A wicked scar slices down the side of it. It’s the most obvious warning that she’s a dangerous creature.
I wish I got off on fear and hate, because both are burning in her eyes the closer she gets to me. I’ve killed others for less than the expression I see in her eyes, but this woman, she is someone who knows violence intimately. I’m almost positive the death doesn’t scare her. But apparently I do.
And the strangest thought yet pops into my mind: I don’t want this intriguing woman to fear me.
I know she’s a trap. I know the WUN sent her here with her father because they’re desperate, and they’re hoping to bait me with a woman. Those clever fools probably never thought that what would attract me to her was everything that lay beneath that pretty skin of hers—the viscous, hardened soul that looks so similar to my own. She’s the best challenge I’ve seen yet.
I need to get to know her. She might’ve just changed everything.

~

My eyes lock with the king’s, and I suppress a shudder. He’s even more handsome than the pictures I’ve seen of him. Black, wavy hair, olive skin, dark eyes, sensual lips. But it’s more than just his features; it’s how he wears them. Like he is something regal, something you want to draw closer to. It’s not fair that evil can wear such an alluring mask.
His eyes move over me like a predator sizing up prey.
I make a noise at the back of my throat, and my father places a hand over mine. We can’t talk here, not when the cameras are rolling.
I breathe in, then out. I can do this. For my country, I can. I step forward, and we descend down the staircase. I know my father can feel my trembling hands. It’s a miracle that my legs are holding me up at all. The entire time the king stares at me. Not my father. Me.
It takes all my energy to keep moving and look calm. In reality, I can’t hear anything over the pounding of my pulse and the screaming inside my head. Not until we reach the bottom, until I stare into the king’s deep brown eyes. Then the moment comes into hyper focus.
The king peels his eyes away from me to greet my father. “Ambassador Freeman,” he says, “it is my pleasure to host you here for the peace talks.” It’s frightening to see that the king shares my father’s talent for camouflaging himself to fit his audience. The king doesn’t need peace talks to get what he wants, but he plays along, lying effortlessly through his teeth.
I drop my hold on my father’s arm. He takes the king’s outstretched hand as cameras go off. “King Lazuli, it’s an honor to finally meet you,” my father says. “I hope that our two great hemispheres can come together to foster future peace.” My father lies just as effortlessly as he stares the monster in the eyes and shakes his hand.
Now it’s my turn.
The king turns his attention away from my father, and my stomach contracts painfully. This is the man who killed my mom. The man who leveled my city and all my friends living in it. He’s the man who I’ve seen shot on national television, yet still he lives.
Unlike his response to my father, I can see the king’s genuine interest in me. His eyes look lit from behind. “Ambassador Freeman, I presume that this is your daughter, Serenity Freeman?” the king asks.
Next to me my father’s body goes rigid, and I know he senses the king’s interest in me. “She is,” my father says.
The king gives me a slow, sly smile and grabs my hand. I fight the overwhelming impulse to yank it free, cock my fist, and smash it into his face. Instead I bare my teeth as the cameras go off. I know it looks more like a snarl than a smile, but it’s the best I can do at the moment.
King Lazuli brings my hand up to his lips, and I close my eyes to block out the sight of his mouth against my skin. I only open them once he pulls my hand away from his lips. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Serenity.”
He means it. Heaven help me, I’ve caught the attention of the king.


***

If you enjoyed that excerpt, then click here to add The Queen of All that Dies to your TBR list on Goodreads.

Hugs,
Laura

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Book Updates

I’ve received a lot of inquiries recently about when my next books will hit the shelves, so I thought I’d address this question today. Because I’m an author, an editor, and a publisher, I have the luxury of getting the books I write into your hands as soon as possible. This means that the moment I have a finished product, I can make it available, rather than having you wait months or even years to get your hands on a book of mine that’s caught your eye. The one drawback is that I can usually only roughly predict when I’ll have a book finished and ready for publication.

In order to keep you all in the know, I’ve created little word meters (on the right) that measure my progress. I’m going to try to be good about updating these weekly so that you can see where I am in the novel writing process. In addition, you can still refer to my “Schedule” page for information on when in the year each book should come out.

The Cursed
Many of you have been wondering when The Cursed is scheduled to come out. It’s currently undergoing rigorous edits. (Woohoo!) I’ve been aiming to have the book done by May 31, but it’s more likely that it will be published sometime in June. I pinkie promise I’ll let you all know the moment it’s available for purchase!

Hugs and happy writing,
Laura 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Adult Paranormal Romance

For a while now, I’ve wanted to share some teasers of books I’m working on but haven’t announced much about. One of them is an adult paranormal romance that stars another siren. This was originally going to be a novella called Moonlight Rhapsody, but I will be lengthening it into a book. So without further ado, check out this week’s Teaser Tuesday:


I freeze in the doorway.
The Bargainer reclines against my headboard, looking for all the world like a predator. Sleek, caged power and dangerous eyes. He also appears far too comfortable in my bed.
His eyes move over me lazily. “My, my, Calli, you’ve upgraded your lingerie since I last saw you.”
I ignore the way his words cut into me; the last time he saw me I was a teenager trying to seduce him, and he wanted nothing to do with me.
“Hello Desmond Flynn,” I say, invoking his full name. I’m fairly certain I’m the only one who knows it, and that information makes him vulnerable.
He gives me a slow, smoldering smile that tightens my stomach even as it constricts my heart. “I didn’t realize you wanted to spill secrets tonight, Callypso Lillis,” he says.
Unlike the Bargainer, I flinch when I hear my full name. Only a handful of people know it; everyone else knows me simply as the artist Callypso.
The Bargainer’s eyes devour my exposed skin, and I feel like that fumbling teenager all over again. I take a deep breath. I’m no longer that girl, even if the man in front of me looks exactly the same as he did in my youth.
I cross the room and grab my cotton robe from where it hangs on the back of the bathroom door. The entire time I can feel his eyes on me. I turn away from him to slip it on. “What do you want, Des?” I ask, cinching the robe at my waist.
“Demanding as always, I see.” I yelp as his breath tickles my ear. I swivel around to face him. “Odd character flaw of yours,” he says, his eyes narrowed, “considering how much you owe me.” His voice is husky and low.
The Bargainer stands not even a foot away from me, so close I can feel his body heat. I didn’t hear him get up from the bed and cross the room. Not that I should be surprised. The magic he uses is subtle; if you aren’t looking for it, you won’t notice it.
This close to him I can see every complex facet of his face. High cheekbones, aristocratic nose, sensual lips, chiseled jaw. Hair so dark that it shines blue in the light.
But it’s his eyes that have always captivated me the most. They’re every shade of silver, darkest at their edges where a thick band of charcoal gray rings them and lightest near their centers. The color of shadows and moonbeams.
It hurts to look at him, not just because he is inhumanly beautiful, but because he shredded my fragile heart a long time ago.
The Bargainer takes my hand in his. It always surprises me how warm his skin can be when everything about him suggests otherwise. And coming from him, even this chaste touch has the siren in me begging to be released.
I glance down at our entwined hands as he pushes the sleeve of my robe up. Underneath it, my onyx bracelet covers most of my forearm, each bead a magical IOU for a favor I’ve bought off of the Bargainer.
He twists my wrist back and forth, assessing his work. I try to pull my hand away, but he won’t let go. “My bracelet has made you famous,” he states. His bracelet.
I shiver at the thought. I don’t know whether he’s speaking of the favor that made me initially famous, or my now iconic piece of jewelry. Iconic because I never take it off. Ever.
No one knows that’s because I can’t remove it. Even if it weren’t strung with spider silk—and thus too strong to cut off—the magic that binds it to my wrist prevents me from removing it until I pay off my debts.
The Bargainer’s hand tightens on mine. “Calli, you owe me a lot of favors.”
My breath catches in my throat as my gaze meets his. The way he looks at me, the way his thumb is rubbing circles into the soft skin of my hand … this is it, the moment I’ve been waiting over ten years for.
I exhale. “You’re finally here to collect.”

Instead of answering me, the Bargainer’s other hand glides up my captive wrist, over all seventeen rows of my bracelet, not stopping until he gets to the very end of it, until his fingers grasp the last of my 322 beads.
“We’re going to play a little game of Truth or Dare,” he says. His eyes flick to mine, and they gleam with mischief.
My heart slams into my chest. He’s finally collecting his payment. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around it.
His mouth curls seductively. “What will it be, Calli?”
I blink a few times, still stunned.
“A dare it is,” he says gleefully.
Fear grips my heart. The Bargainer is infamous for his steep payments. It’s rarely money he asks for; he has no need for it. No, he usually takes something more personal, and every repayment comes with added interest. Considering I have 322 unpaid favors, the man essentially owns my ass. If he wanted to, he could order me to wipe out a small village, and I’d be magically bound to until each and every bead winked out of existence.
He’s a dangerous man, and at the moment, he’s rolling the bead between his fingers and watching me with those calculating eyes.
I clear my throat. “What’s the dare?”
Instead of answering me, he steps into my personal space. He lets go of my wrist. Never taking his eyes off of mine, he tilts my head back and cradles it.
What is he doing?
I stare up at him. A small smile dances along his lips, and I notice his pupils dilate only a moment before he leans in.
I stiffen as his lips brush mine, and then my body relaxes as his mouth glides against mine. My skin illuminates as the siren awakens. Sex and blood, that’s what she thrives on. Between the concert and this kiss, she’s more than satiated, but just as greedy as ever.
I wrap a hand around the arm that cradles my head. My fingers press against the warm skin of his wrist. Beneath it, I can feel his unyielding muscle.
He’s real, this is real. That’s all I have time to think to think about before the kiss ends and he pulls away.
He glances down at my wrist and I follow his gaze. The very last bead of my bracelet shimmers for a moment then fades away. The kiss had been my dare; the kiss had been the first payment the Bargainer collected.
I touch my fingers to my lips, the taste of him still on my skin. “But you don’t like me,” I whisper, confused.
He reaches up to my face to trail his fingers over my glowing skin. If he were a man, he’d be completely under my spell at the moment. But he’s something else entirely.
The Bargainer’s eyes glitter. “I’ll be back tomorrow evening.” His gaze sweeps over me again, and he raises an eyebrow. “Consider the following advice a favor free of charge: be prepared for more than just a kiss.”

***

Want more information on this project? Here’s the book description:

Book Description


Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last ten years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.

Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want … at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.

But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Calli finds the Bargainer in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.

But as the payment increases, turning both physical and emotional, Calli finds she’s got another problem. She’s already in a relationship with a shapeshifting bounty hunter, one who’s not too keen on sharing. When he discovers the Bargainer’s payment plan, the Bargainer finds himself on a paranormal hit list. Now Calli is faced with a dilemma: allow the Bargainer to die and free herself of her obligations, or save his life and fulfill them all.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Cursed Description

Finally the description of The Cursed is here! For those of you unfamiliar with this series, this is The Cursed is the third novel in my YA paranormal series, The Unearthly. In the next few weeks I’ll send an email to my mailing list with information on receiving review copies of The Cursed for those of you interested. Until then, enjoy the description, and once The Coveted reaches 30 reviews, I’ll post another teaser for The Cursed

The Cursed

Save me from the darkness.


It’s been two months. Two months since Gabrielle survived the horror that was Samhain. Two months since she slipped from the devil’s clutches. Two months since she learned that she might have to face him again.

Her nights are plagued by dreams of him, and she wakes to find that she’s creeping closer to that unholy reunion. So when a ritualistic murder occurs on a ley line in Romania and Gabrielle is called in to investigate, it seems like a harbinger of things to come.

Angelic victims, a killer that smells like ash and roses, and wounds that speak of pagan sacraments—it should be enough evidence for Gabrielle to solve the case and get back to her winter break. But the clues keep slipping through her fingers; someone is always one step ahead.

In the same city, Andre De Leon, king of the vampires, stands trial for the massacre at Bishopcourt, and his coven’s justice system is infamous for its cruelty. Up until now he’s been able to shield Gabrielle from their brutality, but her nearness makes her vulnerable to their wrath, and they will use her to get to Andre.

A killer, a vampire trial, the devil—all in the same city. It’s too coincidental, which is to say that it is not a coincidence at all. Fate has betrayed her.

***

If you haven’t, make sure to click here and add The Cursed to your “To Read” on Goodreads, and if you’re unfamiliar with The Unearthly series, you can click here to check it out!

Hugs and happy reading,
Laura