I am thrilled to announce that I have signed with Rachel Marks of Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency to represent my work in the traditional market. You may think I'm being quiet this fall but I'm working on some amazing projects especially for her. Hopefully you'll see me in print very soon!
I don't know how often it happens that an author releases a book on the anniversary of releasing her first book, but today is that day for me. Since the debut of Time Spell two years ago, I have published 12 more titles! That seems both insane and unreal to me when I think about it. 13 books? Really?
When I started this journey I didn't know how things would unfold. I didn't know I would meet so many new friends in the industry. I didn't know people would reach out to help me. I didn't know I would join a community so welcoming and accepting. I certainly didn't know if anyone would read a word of my book. After all, it was about a sassy southern witch with a bad habit of time traveling. Who was going to read that?
I thought I was prepared to be an author, but looking back I think I walked into the whole thing with blind faith. Putting your work out there for other people to read is a scary thing. A horrifying, knee-shaking, palms-sweating kind of scary. Then I learned it can also be joyous and fulfilling when you know someone "gets it." Suddenly, your characters speak to someone else. There's finally purpose in your writing other than just getting the story out of your head.
On Because of Sydney's launch day and the anniversary of Time Spell, I want to say thank you to all the readers who have supported me, picked up one of my books and took a chance on a new author. Thank you to all the bloggers who have shared a post, a tweet or given one of my books a review.
I'm two years in, and can't wait to see what the future holds for my books, characters and me!
Happy anniversary to Ivy Grace, wherever she may be today ;)
I hope you all find a little love and magic in all the pages you read!
All the best,
BECAUSE OF SYDNEY
While the Written in the Sand sale is still going strong, Mary-Kathryn and I thought we'd share an excerpt from one of our favorite chapters--the 4th of July party! Hope y'all enjoy.
“What are you wearing?” Maggie called through the open bedroom door. “Something patriotic?”
Blair sifted through her closet in search of the two articles of clothing that would complement each other, and make the best impression on the island locals. She tossed a turquoise T-shirt on the floor.
“I hadn’t thought about red, white, and blue. I have no idea what to wear to a clam dinner. Probably just some shorts and a top. But nothing looks right. Ugh! Why is the closest mall two hours away?”
“Just grab that cute white V-neck sleeveless shirt. Your arms look great in that, not to mention your boobs.” Maggie laughed.
“Funny, G.” Blair tossed out the playful nickname she’d given her friend back in high school after a cute foreign exchange student with a sexy accent had misplaced emphasis on the Gs in her name.
Blair pulled the cotton shirt Maggie mentioned from its hanger and slipped it over her head. Next, she grabbed a pair of bright green shorts from her dresser and slid one long, freshly shaven leg and then another into the bottom-hugging shorts. She admired her figure in the mirror. Perfect.
“That solves half of this fashion crisis. What about me?” Maggie appeared in Blair’s closet and started eyeing the racks of clothes.
“How about this?” Blair held up a pink, ruffled tank top.
“Oh, love it. Can I wear it tonight?”
“Sure. It will look amazing on you.”
Thirty minutes later, with her friend holding a tub of homemade watermelon ice cream in the passenger seat, Blair turned her car onto Shirley Lane.
“Are you sure this is the right place, because there’s no front porch light on?” Maggie asked.
Blair scanned the front yard that Shirley described earlier at the Easterd’s store. “I don’t know. No one around here likes to give addresses or phone numbers. Let’s just ring the bell and maybe we can find out where she lives.”
Before Blair stepped one toe in the driveway, she heard a raucous sing-along of Red Solo Cup drowning out the otherwise recognizable voice of Toby Keith. Following the source of the sounds, the girls walked around the side of the house to discover a yard lit by tiki torches, crowded by barefoot people, and an open flame pit dominated by a three-foot tall steaming pot.
Taking a moment to adjust to her new surroundings, Blair debated whether to join the crowd or grab her friend and retreat to the car.
“Maggie, uh. This isn’t what I thought Shirley meant by dinner.” She rolled her eyes with disdain.
“This looks like so much fun.” Maggie motioned toward the crowd gathering around a game of corn hole. “Let’s go meet some people. This could be the island experience we’ve been waiting for.”
Blair reached for her friend’s arm to tug her backward, when a brightly clad Shirley emerged from behind the singing masses.
“Oh, girls! Finally! We’ve been waiting for you.” The hostess trapped each girl in a bear hug. “I want to introduce you properly to the island. Come on. Come on.”
Maggie looked up at Blair with a cautious expression. Blair smiled and gestured to her ears as Shirley turned toward the fire pit. Hanging from her lobes were orange striped scallop shells. Maggie suppressed a giggle.
“Henry! Come over here. Leave that fire to the boys. I want you to meet the girls I was telling you about.”
A tall, white-haired man with weathered skin and kind eyes handed off a long stick he was using to stoke the fire and approached the trio with a smile.
“Shirls, who do we have here?”
“These are the ones Mrs. Buttons hired for the summer. This is Blair and, oh my, you know, I haven’t even met you, dear. I’m Shirley Guthrie, islander by marriage.”
Maggie turned to the hostess. “Hi, I’m Maggie. Thank you so much for inviting us. Here. I made some watermelon ice cream.” She offered a container already dripping with perspiration.
Shirley’s armful of bracelets shook as she took the treat. “Aww, you shouldn’t have. That is so sweet. Henry, isn’t this sweet?” She handed the ice cream to her husband. “I couldn’t believe it when I ran into your roommate today at Easterd’s. You girls want something to drink?”
They nodded their heads in unison.
“The tide’s coming in and we don’t have much beach here, so we had to move the coolers to the boats to make room for the fire pit. We’ll just walk down there and get you something.” Shirley extended an arm and waved in the direction of the steaming pot.
After leading them across a grassy lawn and making introductions to the corn hole players, Shirley guided them down a path to the narrow sandy beach. They waved to the rowdy singers who were gathered around a pair of tabletop speakers, now belting out Kenny Chesney’s Pirate Flag. Blair thought there might even be one or two amid the crowd who looked like actual pirates.
Shirley squealed and stopped the tour in front of a solid-built woman, who looked to be about forty. Her sunglasses were slung on top of her head, and she had a beer in one hand, wrapped in a pink koozie. “JoBeth, meet my new friends, Blair and Maggie.”
“Nice to meet you. What brings you to the island?” JoBeth asked.
Maggie gushed, “Oh, we’re staying at the Buttons place for the summer—house-sitting and taking care of things.”
JoBeth nodded. “I’m sure Mrs. Buttons appreciates the help. We don’t get many young visitors on the island who stay more than a weekend. Are you having fun so far?”
Her enthusiastic friend continued before Blair could toss out a sarcastic remark. “Oh, we love it. It’s beautiful, but we haven’t gotten to meet many people yet, so it’s nice to be here tonight.”
“Yes, it is nice to have a little social activity for once this summer.” Blair eyed her friend.
JoBeth laughed. “Now that you know Shirley Lane, your social life will never be dull again.” She took a sip of beer. “Shirley, don’t you think there are a few more people we could introduce them to?”
Blair thought she caught a conspiratorial wink exchanged between the island women.
“Yep. Yep. I’m headed to get them some drinks right now.” She turned toward the pair and led them away from JoBeth and to the boats pulled ashore.
Three skiffs dotted the ebbing beach beyond the fire pit. The sterns were lapped by incoming waves, and the bows were pulled high onto the shore.
“Girls, I’m right behind you. I forgot to tell Henry where to stash the ice cream. Help yourself to whatever you like.” She pointed to the boat lineup. “I’ll be right back.” Turning on her heels, their party guide scampered off to find her cohost.
“Why are all of the drinks on the boat? This is ridiculous,” Blair complained, continuing the search for drinks. She turned toward Maggie. “Do you think they have anything other than beer in these mystery coolers?”
“Justyn, catch!” A deep voice called out from the farthest boat just as Blair was knocked to the ground by a figure running backward. All she could make out were outstretched arms and an airborne can of Bud Light.
“Score!” the receiver yelled, holding his beer can in the air and flashing a smile after his twenty-yard reception.
“Hey! Not so fast with your victory dance, quarterback.” Blair fumed from her position on the beach.
A sandy-haired islander spun around, casting a shadow across Blair’s face.
“Let me help you up. I’m really sorry.” He extended a hand.
Brushing the sand from her legs and assessing the damage, Blair huffed. “Sorry?” Who in the hell knocks a girl down like that?
She realized that, other than a little wet sand stuck to her favorite shorts, she was fine. However, Blair wasn’t about to let her cocky assailant know that. Ready to launch into a verbal tirade on why he should have been paying more attention, she looked up and lost her words as she took in a muscular six two-frame topped with sandy hair. Had she ever seen eyes that color before? Were they green or gray-blue—it didn’t really matter, they were sexy bedroom eyes that threw every good comeback she had out the window.
He grabbed Blair’s hands and pulled her from the sand. “Really. I’m sorry about that. I wasn’t watching. How about I make it up to you with a non-airborne drink?”
She instinctively felt a little disappointed when he dropped her hands. She had to stop herself from reaching out for this mystery guy who just used her as a tackling dummy.
Maggie interjected, “That would be great, thanks. We’ve been looking for this supposed cooler of drinks. By the way, I’m Maggie. And this is my friend, Blair.”
The sexy want-to-be football star shook Maggie’s hand, and then chuckled as he looked toward Blair again. “Yeah, I guess we’ve kind of met. I’m Justyn.”
“Hi,” was the only word Blair could form.
“Nice to meet you. What about those drinks?” Maggie prodded, looking ahead to the boat and then shooting Blair a wide-eyed look. Blair wondered what was going on in her brunette friend’s head, and if she had noticed the way the T-shirt clung to this guy’s chest in a most flattering way. Maybe soon, she’d have a minute to pull Maggie aside and find out her take on what Blair considered possibly the most intense three minutes of their summer so far.
“Right this way, ladies.”
The girls trailed behind Justyn.
Leaping from the bow and landing a few feet in front of them on the shore, a muscular dark-haired guy maybe two inches shorter than Justyn shot a smile their way.
“Who do we have here?” The other guy glanced at Blair before locking his eyes on her friend. Something about the way he studied Maggie made Blair wonder if her roomie might have found herself an island admirer.
Justyn hopped on the boat and strolled to the lineup of coolers. “This is Blair.” He pointed in her direction. She waved. “And this is Maggie.”
“Sorry, my cousin’s such an ass and a bad receiver. That was a perfect throw,” the quarterback quipped, smiling at the girls.
“You’re crazy.” Justyn laughed. He handed each of the girls an icy beer. “Reid thinks everything he does is perfect. I caught that pass by the way.”
“Cousins? So you’re related?” Blair heard her friend utter the ridiculous question and glanced sideways to see Maggie’s please-help-me stare.
“Yep. That’s usually how it works.” Reid sipped from his beer.
Blair stifled a giggle. Her usually quick-witted friend was completely tongue-tied. The guys were taking them both by surprise.
“Is this your boat, Reid?” Blair asked.
“Nah, she’s Justyn’s. He built her himself,” Reid said as Justyn turned up the music.
“Really? You built this?” Maggie asked
Justyn leaned back in the captain’s chair, propping his feet next to the steering wheel. “Really.”
Maggie continued to study the vessel. “The craftsmanship is amazing. I’ve read all about Harkers Island boat builders. It’s passed down through the generations, right?”
“Sounds like someone’s done their homework.” Reid chuckled.
“Oh yes. I made sure to read up on the island history before we moved down here for the summer.” Maggie smiled.
“Yeah, Maggie’s practically a Harkers Island expert. You’ll have to excuse her enthusiasm,” Blair interjected.
“Is that so? Well, you’ve just met some real-life boat builders,” Reid teased.
“Are you serious?” Maggie looked astounded as she inspected the boat.
“My cousin and I started our own company a few months ago. We are now the proud owners of a luxury, custom boat business.” Reid sounded like he was giving a pitch to a roomful of investors.
“That’s incredible,” Maggie gushed.
“Try telling that to our dads,” Justyn contributed. “They weren’t too happy about us leaving the family business, but Reid lured me away with promises of millions.” He smiled as he sipped his beer.
Reid punched his cousin in the arm. “That’s all water under the bridge. Hey, I have an idea. Would y’all want to go for a cruise and see for yourselves? The books don’t really do it justice.”
Justyn retrieved his legs from their propped position. “Man, I didn’t know we were planning a cruise tonight. It’s going to be crowded out there with everyone trying to drop anchor to watch the fireworks.”
Reid shot a look over his shoulder to the Shirley Lane party, and Blair followed his gaze. Henry was parading around the corn hole players with Shirley perched atop his shoulders. She was screaming all the words to the pirate tune blaring across the beach. Things at Shirley Lane were getting rowdy.
“It’s either this or we cruise.” Reid shrugged his shoulders at his cousin. “It’s up to you—your boat.”
“All right. Let’s pull anchor. Come on.” Justyn made his way to the bow of the boat and started working the anchor free from the sand.
“Girls, go ahead and find a seat. I’m going to shove us off.
Blair turned and pulled Maggie closer to shore. “G, we don’t know these guys. Are you sure about this? Where are we going? How do we get home?”
“If you don’t want to ride, just stay here, darlin’,” Justyn called over the low rumble of the diesel engine.
Blair didn’t realize he could hear her private conversation with Maggie, and immediately blushed.
“Oh no, we’re coming with you.” Maggie grabbed Blair’s arm and pulled her onto the boat. Blair figured the jovial beer-can-tossing cousin was the reason Maggie didn’t give her another chance to back out of the invitation. “We’ve been dying to see the island from the water.”
As much as the adrenaline laced with the tiniest bit of doubt was running through Blair’s veins, there was something in the air, telling her she and Maggie were safe with these guys. Sure, they had only just met, but one look at Justyn’s eyes made her curious to know what color they actually were. She wouldn’t admit this out loud, but it wouldn’t hurt to spend a little more time with these hot islanders. Clearly, Shirley and JoBeth had deliberately placed them in each other’s paths tonight. She took in the determined set of Maggie’s jaw, and knew there was nothing she could do stop this cruise from happening.
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