27 December 2008

Pre-Release Musings

As you read this, I'm in a car heading for North Carolina to spend New Year's with my side of the family. Tomorrow is my very first solo book signing and I'm at once excited and nervous.

I usually do these en masse at big conferences like RT or the Lori Foster reader/author event. There's safety in numbers, and at least if the books aren't selling there's someone right next to you to chat with! This time I'll be at a table all by my lonesome, feeling my facial muscles get sore from non-stop smiling my best I-won't-bite smile.

It'll be easy to smile, though, because the long-awaited, long-angsted-over sequel to Beaudry's Ghost hits the virtual shelves on Tuesday. A Ghost of a Chance is Troy's book, the ghostly brother of the heroine, Taylor, in BG.

I worked really hard to make Beaudry's Ghost compelling, romantic AND believable, because sometimes ghost romances (for me, anyway) miss the mark in the last category. For me it's not simply about suspending disbelief, it's going one step farther so the reader can immerse themselves in the story. Like "Yeah, that could totally happen!"

If Beaudry turned me inside out to accomplish this, Troy's story did all that and tied me in knots, as well! The last thing I wanted was to repeat the same "tricks" that got me through Beaudry. Troy had to find his own unique path to happily ever after with his very-much-alive heroine. Without giving anything away, I think I managed all that and, in the bargain, got an idea for a fresh, new spinoff series! More on that later, but you'll probably figure it out once you've read AGOAC. :)

So without further ado, here's a snippet from Legends, Book 2: A Ghost of a Chance, which releases Dec. 30. :)


One life hangs on the thread of her imagination…

Troy Brannon is a ghost with no time for heaven. Thanks to his well-intentioned meddling, he’s got a missing soul on his hands. Fortunately he’s learned a skill no well-behaved spirit should have—the ability to zip through time and space.

A side trip to revive a drowning woman should’ve been simple. But the moment he locks lips with Carey Magennis, she generates an inner fire he’s never felt before, alive or dead—and his ability to time travel disappears.

When the rising tide closes over Carey’s head, it’s the end—but only of life as she knows it. She wakes up haunted by the idea she no longer fits in, and by the sexy, lion-hearted ghost of the man who saved her. No one wants to hear about the strange things that have been happening to her since her near-death experience, least of all her image-conscious fiancé.

Troy realizes Carey accidentally stole his gift—and she has no idea the danger she’s in. Wherever her imagination takes her, she goes with it. Literally. Plus, that fiancé of hers has an agenda that doesn’t include her survival.

Saving her will be as dangerous to his mission as she is to his heart.

Warning: This title contains some gratuitous bad language; the sex of your dreams with a professional bad-ass hero; bloody Civil War battles; astral joy rides; and a heroine who “gets it” in more ways than one!

Gráinne Cottage, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
“I cannot complete this reading.”
The older woman’s hands moved quickly to gather the Tarot cards spread on the kitchen table, the movement causing the flame of the single white candle at its center to flicker.
Carey Magennis leaned back in the creaky wooden chair, trying to decide if she should be amused or alarmed. For now, she chose the former. After all, Genola’s informal tarot reading was only for fun.
She sipped her tea, enjoying the toasty warmth of the Aga stove at her back and the cool, moist breath of an Ireland afternoon on her cheek where it puffed in from the window. The morning rain had passed, and through the storm door she saw the rich, green hillside below the cottage. Beyond, the sea glittered like muted pewter. Great Blaskett Island lay a few miles off shore like a sleeping giant, half-covered by a fluffy blanket of mist.
She had left Kyle poring over maps and guidebooks while she had gone in search of a cup of tea to settle her still-queasy stomach, the aftermath of getting food poisoning from a Killarney restaurant. Thanks to her twenty-four-hour stint on her knees before the porcelain god, they were now a full day behind schedule. They were darned lucky Genola McCarthy had a vacancy in her little cottage B&B—Carey had been too ill to make it to their original destination.
Kyle had been less than thrilled with the comparatively rustic accommodation, but Carey, now that she was well enough to have a look around, loved the old stone cottage with its thick, whitewashed walls and cozy thatched roof. Traces of the morning peat fire still tanged the air inside the little dwelling, blending with the morning’s fresh bread still baking in the Aga.
Genola had welcomed her warmly into the homey, low-ceilinged kitchen, and cheerfully joined her for a cup of strong Irish tea with plenty of fresh milk and sugar. Spying the new engagement ring on Carey’s left hand, Genola had reached into her apron pocket and withdrawn a set of Tarot cards, saying with a wink that she was going to see how long it would be before Carey and Kyle began adding to their respective family trees.
Carey glanced down now at the sparkling diamond solitaire on her left ring finger as Genola continued to gather the spread-out cards. She’d thought they’d only be spending a few days in Dublin, he making contacts for his fledgling, international real estate development firm, while she wandered in and out of old churches and museums, feeding her insatiable appetite for all things historic. But he’d presented her a ring at dinner one night—in between taking business calls on his mobile phone—and swept her off on a surprise whirlwind tour of Ireland, attempting to see the entire country in five scant days.
She idly turned her hand and wondered why the sight of the glittering stone didn’t set her heart to glittering in return. She ought to be deliriously happy. She should. After all, her life was turning out exactly as she’d planned.
“Are the spirits carrying around erasers these days?” She tore her gaze from the ring and propping her elbow on the table and her chin in her palm, winking to let the woman know she was only kidding.
Genola smiled and winked in return. “Oh, ’tis nothing, darlin’. Simply a mistake, that’s all.”
“What kind of mistake?” Carey was relieved to see the Death card disappear back into the deck.
“This blank card—” Genola held it up, “—shouldn’t have been in the deck. It’s included only to replace a lost card.” She put the card back into a small wooden box and firmly shut the lid, then shuffled the deck three times. “Now, let’s be after tryin’ this again. Please cut the deck into three piles.”
Carey did as she was told, and watched Genola spread the cards across the table with one smooth motion.
“And choose three cards, please.”
Again, Carey pulled three cards at random and placed them face down in front of her.
Genola turned over the first card, and Carey swallowed a gasp. It stuck in a painful knot at the base of her throat before she forced herself to relax.
“Now that’s interesting,” said Genola, unconcerned. “You drew the Death card again. This card represents your past, and at some point…”
“I’m going to die?” Carey croaked, only half joking.
Genola chuckled. “Not at all, dear. You simply underwent a time of great change.”
Carey relaxed, and leaned her elbows on the table again, and allowed a small smile. “Well, I got engaged recently. Maybe that’s it. And I lost my parents at a very young age…” She quickly shut her mouth. This wasn’t something she normally shared with relative strangers.
Genola stilled, her expression distressed. “I’m so sorry, child.”
Carey reached out and patted one of Genola’s hands. “It’s all right. It was a long time ago and my aunt raised me. ”
Genola relaxed, then looked her up and down, eyes slightly unfocused. “Your aura is very strong, particularly around you heart. It’s bright green.” Her eyes focused again and she smiled gently. “I thought when I first saw you, that you had the look of a faerie child.”
Carey found herself toying with one of her wild black curls, a gift from her father’s side of the family. Chemical processing had tamed the unruly mass that was her hair, but the Ireland damp had brought back its tendency to kink. All she had managed to get from her aunt was that they were “Black Irish and Indian,” at which point the woman’s lips would compress into a tight, thin line.
“The faerie. Yes, well, I don’t much resemble Tinker Bell,” she said ruefully, remembering her own mother’s petite, fair beauty, lost to her now except for photographs.
“Oh, the other crowd are a dark, little folk. Nothing like you see in the movies. The Magennis people in Ireland are mostly fair colored, but once in a while they throw a dark one, and it’s said such people are touched by the good folk. You may be several generations removed from Ireland, my dear, but the magic still lingers about you, that I can see.”
Oh, this was getting good. Carey dismissed the uncomfortable notion that Genola McCarthy could somehow know exactly how she’d been feeling these past months. As if she were poised on some great precipice of change. She’d chalked it up to the ticking of her biological clock.
The Irishwoman flipped the next card. “This card represents your present. Oh… dear…”
Carey stared in amazement. She’d drawn the exact same card as last time.
“My, my! The oracle certainly is speaking strongly this morning.” Genola’s voice quavered a little, despite her efforts to sound cheerful. “I can’t remember any other time someone has drawn the exact same cards in this way, in spite of the deck having been shuffled. Very…odd.”
“What do you think it means?” Carey watched Genola’s face. This was only a Tarot reading, for heaven’s sake. She didn’t even believe in this stuff.
“This card represents your present situation. It’s the suit of Wands, which is the suit of change, restlessness, possibly upheaval. And this is the Knight of Wands. There’s a man involved. Quite possibly a blond man.”
Curious, Carey leaned in for a closer look at the card in question. The card depicted a warrior in golden Roman armor standing on a hilltop overlooking an ancient city. The soldier held a heavy sword, and a helmet adorned with a horse-tail plume covered his head. Lion-colored hair flowed out from under the helmet. But it was the warrior’s direct stare that snagged her attention. His vivid green eyes—all she could see of his face—glowed like living things in the stillness of the picture.
She had the absurd notion that she wished she could step into the picture and straight into the warrior’s protective arms. With a hard mental shake, she tore her gaze away from the warrior and noticed a banner flying over the city in the background. It was clearly labled Troy.
Her scalp prickled.
“Interesting.” She tried to sound off-hand. “My middle name is Helen.”
Genola’s eyebrow went north. “Is that so? You should see the queen of this suit. It is, indeed, Helen of Troy.”
An innocent woman who was killed only because she had the bad luck to fall in love. Carey’s stomach started to feel funny again, and she forced herself to relax. “But I don’t know any blond men. At least not well enough to consider them part of my personal life.”
Genola smiled, serenely confident again. “If there isn’t one now, there will be. And I daresay his entrance won’t be subtle.”
“Hm. If you say so.” Maybe Kyle was going to bleach his dark hair or something. Then she laughed to herself. Not bloody likely.
“I certainly do say so.” Genola nodded and reached for the third card. “Well, then let’s see what all these changes and this mysterious blond man will mean for your future. At least we know the card won’t be…” She flipped the card. “… blank.”
Now Carey’s heart really did turn over. What the…?
Genola’s calm demeanor vanished, and she turned white.
The card was blank. Again.
“Impossible,” Genola whispered. “I just put that card back in the box. You saw me put it there, didn’t you?”
“Don’t be silly,” said Carey, reaching for the box and popping off the lid. “Maybe it stuck to your hand.”
But the first blank card still lay inside. She looked up at Genola. “Is there more than one blank card in this deck?”
Genola shook her head. “Only one.”
“Do it again.”
“Shuffle the cards and let me draw again.”
Genola seemed to come back to herself. “Of course, of course.” She gathered the cards and began to shuffle them, then her fingers slowed. “Let’s try a different deck. This one’s new—I haven’t worked with it much.” She leaned back in her chair, reached into a half-open kitchen drawer, and extracted a small, battered wooden box. Sweeping the offending deck off the table and back into its own box, she spread the well-used deck face up on the table, so they could both see that no blank cards lurked. Then she quickly shuffled the new deck, humming softly to herself as she worked.
“Now,” she said confidently, her face relaxing into another smile. “This deck has never failed me.”
Again Carey went through the ritual of drawing three cards, wondering why she was doing this when she ought to be telling Genola “t’anks, but no t’anks”.
“Here we go.” Genola turned over the first card.
Carey gave a bark of surprised laughter and nearly fell out of her chair.
The Death card grinned mockingly up at her.
“Ehm…” Genola turned the middle card. Knight of Wands. Again. “I, ah, don’t know what to say, Miss Magennis. I truly don’t. This has never, ever happened before. To draw the exact same cards repeatedly? From different decks…” She reached for the third card, her hand visibly trembling.
Carey reached out and gripped her wrist. “Let me.” If the woman was indeed doing a sleight-of-hand, she was going to make darned sure it didn’t happen again. Not that she believed in this stuff, not at all. But she’d rather sleep without nightmares, thank you very much.
She turned the card. Blank. She let it drop from her numb fingers.
Get a hold of yourself, girl. It’s a trick. Just a trick.
She forced a laugh and quickly gulped the rest of her tea. “You’re very good. Ever thought of going on the road?” Her laugh trailed off when the other woman said nothing.
Genola didn’t look at her, but down at the cards, her face pale and still. Then she looked up at Carey, her eyes seeing something beyond the here and now.
“I tell you, Miss, these cards have never lied.”
Carey gave the woman what she hoped was a bright smile that hid how rattled she was. “Thanks, Mrs. McCarthy. I…think I’ll take a little walk cliffs before dinner. Kyle should be finished re-planning our schedule, thanks to me and my rebellious tummy.”
Genola nodded and began picking up the cards, one by one, examining each one as if she’d never seen it before. Carey rose from the chair, uneasy and unsure what to say next. Genola touched her arm as she passed, eyes troubled.
“Just be careful, miss. Be very, very careful.”
Carey chuckled again, trying to put the poor woman—and herself?—at ease. “Oh, don’t worry. My fiancé plans everything down to the last detail. I won’t have time to get myself into trouble. Trust me.”

Copyright 2008 Carolan Ivey All Rights Reserved
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