Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Magick Charm" Excerpt - The Romance Begins

Ryan grinned at me from the doorway. "Wow, you look nice," he said. His smile went all the way to his eyes, and I was glad for the special pains I had put into my appearance tonight.

He'd also gone the extra mile to dress nicely, having traded his usual polo for neatly pressed dress pants and a button-down shirt. Sure, I'd noticed him before, but I had always refused to view him in a datable sort of light. Now that I'd started, I couldn't help thinking about him.

"Come on in." I opened the door wide and stepped back to let him in.

He glanced around my living room. "Am I the first guest to arrive?"

He didn't appear too confused by the lack of people, though. The game was up.

"Well, to tell the truth," I stammered, "it's only the two of us tonight." My cheeks must have been as red as boiled crawfish shells.

"You didn't invite me here today," he said. It wasn't even a question.

I shook my head.

"I see. This is your sister's version of a good deed?"

"Yeah," I said. "She loves to play matchmaker. I'm sorry." I'd have choked Rachel if she'd been there. I felt humiliated, yet part of me hoped he wouldn't leave.

"It's not your fault," he said.

We stood together in the middle of the living room, looking at each other and not finding anything to say.

"Listen," he said after a long pause, "we can forget about this if you want. I don't want you to be held responsible for any more mistakes your sister makes."

I was going to need a pint of Ben and Jerry's to cope. He called our date a mistake. I coached my face not to show my disappointment. "Okay," I said. "That's fine. Again, I'm sorry about my sister conning you into this. You probably had much better things to do tonight than dress up to humor me, er, Rachel pretending to be me, I mean."

Ryan's solemn expression changed to one of skepticism meshed with a glimmer of hope. "Not so fast. I'm not the only one here who dressed up."

I smoothed my hands over my skirt in a nervous gesture.

"I'm going to be honest with you, Janie," he said. "I was excited to get that message today. I've wanted to ask you out for awhile, but never got out the words."

My heart leapt at his admission. He paced a little and ran his hand through his hair, his nervous tell. This time, the gesture struck me as endearing.

"So, no," he said. "I don't want to call off the date. And I don't think you want to either."

"I don't," I said. I wasn't usually so direct, but I was sure about this. "My sister was crazy and impulsive to set us up like this. But I want to go out on this date with you. She has terrible taste in men."

Oh no, my mouth was running away without my brain's filter. Ryan looked askance at me, both eyebrows raised with amusement.

"Only usually, but she's trying to get better about it. I mean, she likes you," I stammered. Another mistake. "For me, I mean. She likes you for me."

Ryan took a step closer to me and stopped my rambling by placing his finger across my lips. It was one of the most sensual gestures I'd ever experienced. When I quieted, he lifted his finger from my lips, leaving a warm tingle in its wake.

I reflexively licked my bottom lip, as if tasting the texture of his skin. He looked into my eyes and lifted one side of his mouth in a little smile.

"What about you?" he asked. His words were quiet, and I strained to hear. "Do you like me...for you?"

My eyes slipped shut and a sigh escaped my lips. I loved the way his words rippled through my body. "Yes," I whispered. My voice sounded husky, like I'd been having sex and enjoying it. Why had I held myself back from this man for so long?

He shifted closer and leaned his head toward mine until he was so close to me I could feel his breath on the skin of my neck and a shudder coursed through me. The next moment, he stepped away. I opened my eyes and stared at him. His eyes had darkened to a whisky brown and pierced me with a heart–stopping heat.

"I like you for me too."

"Magick Charm" Excerpt - The Spell is Cast

"Relax. All we're going to do is talk about what makes the perfect man," Rachel said. "Let's start with your fantasies."

"That's going a bit too far, don't you think?" I hadn't even shared my fantasies with any of my exes. My policy was strictly, "don't ask, don't tell."

She shook her head, her disappointment in me clear from her expression. "You are so repressed. Everyone has a fantasy or two. Okay, I'll share first. I like this role-playing game where you take a strip of silk and—"

"If you love me, you'll stop right there. I'm happy with my state of repression. When the hell did you turn into Sassy McSlutty?"

She flashed me a wicked grin. "Have you ever been to something like a Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, or Tupperware party? I hosted a party for naughty bedroom products. I guess you could call it a fuckerware party." She laughed at her own joke. "Anyway, the rep told us to be more open and honest about our sexuality. It's good advice."

I had to ask, didn't I? She hadn't invited me to her nasty soiree. Not like I'd have gone. I hadn't spent much time with my sister recently. I made no secret about my dislike for Ted, and allowing a little distance to grow between us was easier than addressing my disapproval. Besides, he'd tried to control her and got jealous when we got together to have dinner or do a little shopping. In any case, I noted how much she'd changed since I'd last seen her, and guilt weighed upon me.

"Can you belay the sex toy conversation? Let's finish up this love spell." That was the third grenade I'd fallen on for Rachel in one day. It had to be some sort of record. Reminder to self-call Guinness in the morning.

"Okay, you don't have to tell me about your dream guy. Just write on the parchment exactly what you want in a man. Blue eyes, great build, big..." I blinked up at her, pretending to be scandalized. "Big heart, I was going to say," she laughed. "Jeez, Janie, get your mind out of the gutter."

I bit back a catty comment involving a pot and a kettle.

I hesitated when it came to writing about my dream lover. What did I want in a man, specifically? How could I express what my perfect man would be? I chewed the end of my pencil and thought it over. He'd be honorable, smart, and funny. I would feel safe, happy, and above all, loved when I was with him. He'd be my best friend and a romantic like me. After a minute, I decided my Romeo ought to be inspired by my romance novels.

I want to find a lover just like the men in the books I read.

Good enough, I decided, and set down the pencil. After all, this wasn't serious, and I'd never get any well-needed rest if I didn't appease my sister first. I yawned, hoping she would notice and move things along.

She handed me the tiny pink votive and a pack of matches from Pete's bar. "Light it and burn the spell paper."

Why write down all the stuff if I was going to light it on fire the next moment? I knew better than to try to make sense of this occult mumbo jumbo, though, so I did it.

She grabbed a decorative bowl from my bookshelf and dumped essential oils of rose and jasmine in it. "Rose for love, and jasmine to add a little spice to that big...heart you wanted," she explained. She swept some of the ashes from the paper I had burned into her hand and mixed it into the oil.

I viewed the slimy mess with skepticism. This was going to change my life?

"Last step," she said. "I need something of yours. Something you're going to wear every day." She examined me, her critical gaze coming to rest on my pendant. "That'll work."

My hand closed around my necklace, a small piece of butterscotch amber, carved into a rose opened late in bloom. I bought the pendant for myself several years ago when my last serious relationship ended. I wore it almost every day without fail.

"You can have it right back." Her tone underlined her annoyance with me. "I'm not going to do anything to it." I released my death grip on my pendant and entrusted it to my sister. She rewarded my trust by promptly submerging the amber in the cloying oil and ash mixture.

"Damn it, Rache. Now I'm going to smell like a French whorehouse...er, a French witch."

"When you wear this charm, you will attract to yourself exactly the type of man you described on that parchment." She continued reading Viola's instructions without pausing to acknowledge my indignation.

She handed the dripping pendant back to me while I grabbed a Kleenex to wipe the sludge off as quickly as possible.

"The charm will retain its power until the goal of the spell has been fulfilled and you have found true love. At least that's what it says here. Or is that word 'dove?' Vi has a little arthritis and her handwriting sucks."

True dove? Maybe I should go to a pet store and end this whole charade.

She shrugged and folded the instruction sheet. "That's it," she said. Her lips curved into a sinful smile. "Maybe you'll get some now. How long has it been, five years?"

I laughed, relieved to be done with the strange spell casting. I hoped Rachel had gotten this crazy magick stuff out of her system now and I could go back to my former witchcraft–free life.

"It's been a long day," she said. "What do you say we sack out now?"

More agreeable words had never been spoken except maybe for "have some more chocolate," "you won the jackpot," or "you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."

I agreed, grateful this day was finally behind me. Compared to today, tomorrow couldn't be anything but a vast improvement.

Starting My Blog

My first book is coming out, and yes, I’m peeing-my-pants excited! But being a first-time novelist can be a little bit intimidating. How exactly am I supposed to market this thing? Okay, most of my friends and family know my news. And to be honest, the neighbors must know too, after the dolphin-pitch shrieking that accompanied “OMG, my book is on Amazon!!!” But what about people I don’t know?

My husband, John, will tell you I’m a Virgo, which means I tend to be modest, quiet, even shy. I’m not one to talk about myself. And what is promotion but essentially talking about myself and my book? So you can see my dilemma.

The first solution that I have found is to let my friends do the promoting for me. Let’s face it, John is nothing if not supportive, but subtle he is not. I’d say he’s my pimp, but that just sounds wrong. Let’s call him my book pimp. Then there’s Sam, owner of 13 Magickal Moons and my best friend. She is hosting my upcoming book release party at her store and shouting the news to anyone who will stand still long enough to hear it. And my parents in Florida are practically on the verge of setting up book signings for me there.

Of course I’ve arranged to have the book reviewed on a number of websites and magazines. This has me peeing my pants, but in a different kind of way. I’m the tiniest bit terrified about the reviews, but I’m also kind of excited. I think (hope) it will be received well, but only time will tell.

I’ve written bookseller notices and even press releases that I can mail to bookstores and local newspapers. Every time I say “press release” I try not to giggle while at the same time feeling a bit pretentious about writing one at all. But if I’ve ever had news to tell, this is the time!

Finally, the other big promotion activity I’m working on is the blog tour. My first question: what the eff is a blog tour? Answer: a series of blog entries I make on other people’s blogs. Hmmmm… in that case, I guess I should start practicing my blog writing – hence this note. (And could I possibly have used the word “blog” more in a single paragraph? Especially because I’ve probably never typed the word before now!)

So here we go - wish me luck!