Happy Holidays!

I hope you had a Merry Christmas yesterday, and that you’ll have a Happy New Year starting next week.

It’s still a shock that the year is almost over, but I’m more prepared for 2019 than I have felt about any year in a long time. I’ll explain more about that in next week’s post.

As for what I did during Christmas, my husband and I spent time with family over the weekend. Christmas Eve and Christmas were all about enjoying one another’s company. We stuck with our ‘tradition’ of having Chinese food for our Christmas meal, which is something we’ve done for the past almost five years, I think.

Our time with one another has been really relaxing. We’ve watched a Christmas movie on Netflix, drank hot chocolate, enjoyed a fire in the fireplace, and, of course, played plenty of computer games together.

Until next week,

Sarah

Release Date and Excerpt for The Leopard Who Claimed A Wolf

Not too much longer until The Leopard Who Claimed A Wolf is released! It’ll come out at the midpoint of next month, January 2019.

Add the book to Goodreads

Chapter One

Caitlyn

The driveway leading up to the Scottish Pack’s massive headquarters stretched almost half a mile. I rested my chin on my arms and stared out of the Alpha’s window on the second story, overlooking the circular section of the drive. The Pack’s castle came complete with its very own dungeon, but at least they weren’t keeping me in there anymore. Alistair’s craggy face loomed over me every time I closed my eyes, his fists hammering against my face, ribs, and stomach.

Tension radiated through my shoulders, and I balled my hands into fists. No, Alistair—Colin’s father—was dead. Dougal had protected me, and my brother, from that monster when I didn’t have the strength to fight back.

Not that it mattered.

Two days had passed since my brother’s sudden departure. Now Colin was on his own, without anyone to watch his back. How could he leave without saying anything to me? I flexed my fists again, welcoming the anger as it bubbled up in my chest and replaced my sadness.

The heavy weight of a man’s hand descended on my back. I twisted around, my knuckles connecting with a solid jaw lined with dark, coarse stubble. A familiar jaw. Shite.

Dougal stumbled back half a step, but then he planted his feet like a tree with strong roots, not budging any further. Sharp power flared outward from him before he squelched it, stretching the muscles in his jaw. A frown tugged at his lips, and the corners of his eyes creased, either in pain or displeasure.

“Dougal! I’m so sorry.” The sudden movement of punching him had shot a searing ache through my battered ribs again. The pain stole my breath away, but I tried to force it down. How could I have been so careless? If he’d been anyone else in the Pack, I would’ve caused World War III.

Dinnae fash. The punch bloody well hurt, though. I didn’t realize you were so strong.” Dougal’s frown melted away as he pulled me closer and pressed a kiss to my forehead. “Seems like you’re recovering your strength.” His gaze drifted past me to the long gravel driveway of the estate. “How are you doing, love?”

The emotions I’d been stomping down now came bubbling up to the surface again. “I cannae believe Colin left me. He left before I even regained consciousness. How could he?” With anyone else, I wouldn’t show weakness, but I rested my forehead against Dougal’s chest, needing his touch and savoring his warmth. “I barely got a chance to talk with him, and when I did, it wasn’t a good time to ask how he was doing after the months he’d spent in that bloody research facility—or even to ask where he was going to go to heal…”

Tears welled in my eyes, but I held them back, refusing to cry. “I gave up so much—my job, my flat, my life—while trying to track him down and bring him home. What if my sacrifices were all for naught?”

“Nae, they weren’t for naught, love.” Dougal kissed the top of my head. “I know you’re hurting. You have plenty of reasons to be, but the man who came back wasn’t the same one who left for the United States.” He lifted my chin, forcing me to see the sincerity in his clear blue eyes. “Whatever those scientists did affected him in ways neither of us will likely ever know. Waiting at the window won’t make him return any sooner.” He wrapped his arms around me and gently pulled me against his chest again. “Let me draw you a bath. Remember, I’m here if you need to talk.”

He was right, even if I didn’t want to admit it. Waiting at the window for Colin’s return wouldn’t help, but what else could I do? “I know, but that doesn’t make this any easier for me. He’s my younger brother. I feel helpless that I cannae be there for him…again.” A heavy ached settled on my heart, and I pulled away hating the awkward emotions crushing me. “Sorry.”

Dougal turned away from me and stared out of the window again. His jaw clenched and unclenched, as if he were trying hard to hold in his words. A lot was going on in his life too, and yet he was making a strong effort to support me through my problems. Things had become increasingly strained between him and his Pack since my arrival and Duncan and Alistair’s subsequent deaths. He didn’t talk about what he faced, and I didn’t want to pressure him.

After a few moments of silence, he released a sigh and turned back toward me. “You’ve done what you could for him, lass.” The ghost of a grin spread across his lips. “Would you still like the bath?”

I couldn’t help but nod. When I’d awakened from unconsciousness, Dougal had been there for me. We’d made love, and he brought me to new heights of pleasure. We also became intimately acquainted with the fancy Jacuzzi bathtub that could likely fit three or four humans…or one big, scary werewolf. The perks of being mated to the Alpha of the Scottish Pack.

“Aye, a bath sounds delish.” I wrapped my arms around his waist, bringing him back to me and drawing in his musky lupine scent. “Thanks for the talk. I really wish I could’ve spoken with him before he left. It would’ve made me feel better about him going.”

“Love, I talked with him before he left.” He trailed his fingertips over my back in light, soothing strokes. “If I wasn’t confident that he presented no danger to others, I wouldn’t have let him go. He would’ve stayed here whether he favored the idea or not.” The muscles in his lower back tensed beneath my touch, and his hand paused over my spine.

Something didn’t feel right. I lifted my gaze to meet Dougal’s. Was he not telling me something? We hadn’t known each other for long, but my sharp, feline instincts knew when someone told an untruth. He wasn’t outright lying to me, but he was holding something back. What could it be?

I bit my lower lip, instantly regretting it as my teeth sank into one of the nearly healed spots where Alistair had punched me in the face. Instead of confronting Dougal, I turned my attention toward the window. “You would tell me if he was dangerous to himself, wouldn’t you?”

“Aye, I would.” His tone of voice wasn’t as convincing as I’d wanted. He leaned away, putting me at arm’s length. “Enough of that, I suppose. I’ll draw the bath for you.” Without another word, he strode to the en-suite bathroom. His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides all the way. The door snapped shut behind him, and he started the water running a few moments later.

Nausea churned inside me, and I held my stomach. Should I actually believe Dougal? Something about his words didn’t feel right. The Jacuzzi tub would take a few minutes to fill, and I needed to get out of this bloody bedroom and away from him. The strain of standing there and trying to keep myself calm was becoming too much.

My stomach growled, and I glanced up at the round wrought-iron clock on the wall. It was almost one o’clock in the afternoon.

Many of the werewolves didn’t like that their Alpha was mating with a wereleopard, so I usually skipped the mealtime rushes in an attempt to keep my distance. It wasn’t easy, because several of the wolves lived here in this honest-to-God castle full time. Apparently, that was how many Packs operated. The thought boggled my mind. How did they stand to be around one another all the time? How would I survive being the sole feline in this house full of wolves?

Every urge for solitude within me roared to run as fast and as far away from this place as I could. Too much held me here, though. Besides, if Colin returned from his trip, I wanted to be around to greet him. Maybe throttle him, too, but it’d be a greeting nonetheless…

I slid my leather jacket on over the white tank top, not wanting to reveal too much bruised skin, then headed for the kitchen to grab some leftovers. Dougal had tried to convince me to eat with him and everyone else. He wanted me to get to know the wolves and socialize. Getting friendly with the Pack might be a nice idea, but I couldn’t do it. Not with how his Pack watched me when they thought I wasn’t looking. Even Dougal’s second-in-command wasn’t a fan of mine. The sentiment was mutual, really. For as long as I could remember, I’d hated werewolves. One of my main reasons would soon be resting six feet underground. Their hatred of me for Alistair’s death just added to my reluctance to get to know them.

Shaking away those thoughts, I turned the corner to enter the kitchen. If my sharp feline reflexes hadn’t kicked in, I would’ve run straight into a towering werewolf. I leapt back at the last minute to prevent Kerr from spilling his plate of food. The already agonizing ache in my side intensified from moving so quickly, but I kept my arms at my sides and my face neutral.

“Afternoon, lass. Ye look like yer recoverin’ well.” Kerr nodded, looking more than a little curiously at me.

“Thanks, Kerr. I’m trying.” I flashed him an uncomfortable smile, then edged past the broad, barrel-chested man into the kitchen. Maybe he wasn’t as bad as the others, but I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling that he strongly disagreed with Dougal’s decision to mate with me.

Kerr placed a heavy hand on my shoulder. My spine stiffened, and I tightly gripped the sleeves of my jacket to keep from swinging on him too. “Keep tryin’, then.” His deep voice rumbled through the kitchen. I glanced pointedly at his hand, but he didn’t move it. “Sooner or later ye need to overcome yer fear, hatred, or whatever it is ye feel toward my kind. If ye cannae, ye won’t last long here, lass.” With that, he walked toward the massive grand hall down the corridor, where the wolves held their meetings and ate.

My shoulders slumped. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so hungry, but my leopard still needed to be fed. We couldn’t skip any more meals. It hindered our healing process and weakened us too much. Right now, I couldn’t afford weakness, not while I was amongst a pack of wolves.

If only I didn’t have to be constantly looking over my shoulder with the Pack but such was life for now.

Shite. I didn’t have much time before Dougal noticed I was gone.

The leftovers were neatly arranged on the clean counter top. There wasn’t much food left, but I grabbed a bag of crisps and one of the last club sandwiches. One of the female wolves—Mairi, I think—ran a catering company, so she always brought by food to keep the Pack well fed. She was one of the nicer wolves.

Instead of following Kerr toward the dining room, where I was sure to find the rowdy werewolves laughing and talking, I remained in the kitchen. I sat on the counter farthest away from the entrance, hidden from anyone who might walk by.

As I finished up my sandwich, footsteps in the hall became louder as someone approached the kitchen. The sound of soft sniffing tensed every muscle in my body, then Dougal stepped into the room. His gaze slid over me, and desire darkened his blue eyes.

“Your bath is ready. If I’d known you were hungry, I would’ve brought something earlier when I ate.”

I shrugged a shoulder. “It’s all right. I’m eating now.”

“Aye, so you are.” He looked down the hallway as if checking to make sure no one else was near. When he turned back to me, he wore a frown that creased the corners of his lips and eyes. “You shouldn’t be in here all alone, love. Things are tense right now within the Pack. Let’s go back to the bedroom.”

I tilted my chin up, not in the mood to be bossed around again. “I’m not alone. You’re here.” I opened the bag of crisps and munched on one.

His nostrils flared, and he crossed his arms over his broad chest. The move might’ve been scary as hell if it wasn’t him doing it. “That’s not the point. Come on.”

Bloody hell. First I’d been his prisoner in the cage, and now I’d become a prisoner in his bedroom. Not in a fun way, either. Why was this happening?

I clenched my fists, crushing a few of my crisps as tears burned in my eyes, but I refused to let them show. The flood of emotions I’d experienced over the past week was becoming too much to all push down at once. As soon as I dealt with certain fears or emotions, others popped up to take their place, like some horrible version of whack-a-mole.

Life just wasn’t fair. All I’d wanted to do was return to Scotland to be here for my brother. In that time, I’d been reintroduced to a childhood nightmare, imprisoned in a dungeon, and now I was the prisoner/mate of a werewolf Alpha. When would the roller coaster end?

Dougal crossed the space between us in a few long strides. He pulled me from the counter into his arms.

A feline hiss ripped from my throat, sounding every bit as feral as I felt. Once again, anger rescued me from my moodiness. “Set me down this minute!”

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Let me know what you thought of the excerpt!

Happy Holidays!

Until next week,

Sarah

Cover Reveal for The Leopard Who Claimed A Wolf (Cry Wolf 6)

Last week I shared the title and blurb for my upcoming Cry Wolf novel. Now I’m thrilled to show you the brand new cover! I think it’s awesome, but I’d love to hear what you think too!

When a wolf loves a leopard…

He’s her protector...
Caitlyn Fraser, a wereleopard who has always hated cruel werewolves, is the former prisoner turned mate of Dougal Sterling, Alpha of the Scottish pack. She’s courting jeopardy with her determination to attend the funeral of her brother’s father, since the Pack blames her for Alistair’s death. But still Dougal protects her from his wolves.

Her defender…
Short of allies, Dougal struggles to balance loyalty and attention between the Pack and Caitlyn. When the Pack’s stability crumbles, he’s faced with the return of his older brother, the rightful Alpha, who shirked his duty after their father’s death. However, Ewan’s challenge will be a battle to the death. Sheltering Caitlyn can only lose Dougal more friends, but he knows she’s the mate he’s longed for.

But survival takes two…
Menace lurks in every corner of the Highlands; Alistair and Ewan’s supporters and haters of shapeshifters abound. Caitlyn and Dougal must stick together, pushing back fiercely when they are attacked. Even if that puts them in mortal danger…

Add to Goodreads

Until next week,

Sarah

Cry Wolf 6’s Title and Blurb Reveal

!

The title for Cry Wolf 6 is… The Leopard Who Claimed A Wolf!

And now for the blurb!

When a wolf loves a leopard…

He’s her protector...
Caitlyn Fraser, a wereleopard who has always hated cruel werewolves, is the former prisoner turned mate of Dougal Sterling, Alpha of the Scottish pack. She’s courting jeopardy with her determination to attend the funeral of her brother’s father, since the Pack blames her for Alistair’s death. But still Dougal protects her from his wolves.

Her defender…
Short of allies, Dougal struggles to balance loyalty and attention between the Pack and Caitlyn. When the Pack’s stability crumbles, he’s faced with the return of his older brother, the rightful Alpha, who shirked his duty after their father’s death. However, Ewan’s challenge will be a battle to the death. Sheltering Caitlyn can only lose Dougal more friends, but he knows she’s the mate he’s longed for.

But survival takes two…
Menace lurks in every corner of the Highlands; Alistair and Ewan’s supporters and haters of shapeshifters abound. Caitlyn and Dougal must stick together, pushing back fiercely when they are attacked. Even if that puts them in mortal danger…

Hooray! I’d love to know what you think! 🙂

Until next week,

Sarah

Five Years of Indie Publishing

Something occurred to me earlier this week as I was looking at the calendar. This time of year is special to me for reasons aside from the holidays and spending time with family and friends. It marks my foray into indie publishing. I’d been publishing with e-publishers for a few years before that, and it was good. Hearing about the creative freedom and the potential of indie publishing lit a fire in me, and I really wanted to try my hand at it. I was still with the e-publishers, so if it didn’t work out, I could continue doing what I was doing.

Surprisingly or not, The Witch Who Cried Wolf –the book that’s now five years old–really changed my career. The traction it gained, as well as the subsequent books, gave me the answer I hadn’t known I was looking for. After that book released, I shifted my focus more toward indie publishing while wrapping up series for my e-publishers to continue with that change.

I’m very thankful to everyone who has supported me and enjoyed the books I’ve released. It means so much to me. I’ve already started planning my schedule for 2019, and I’m looking forward to releasing many more books.

And now for the Christmas tree picture I mentioned last week! While it might be small and tabletop-sized, I’ve found that trees kept mostly out of the way from cats are much better than a big one! I have a few memories of Christmas trees falling over after cats decided to climb them. Lol Never again.

Until next week,

Sarah


Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!

Each Thanksgiving, one of the traditions that my husband and I have is to write a list–or at least discuss together–things we’re grateful for that year. During day to day life, it’s pretty easy to get frustrated or not feel thankful when things aren’t going great. Thanksgiving serves as a time to reflect for us.

Things I’m grateful for this year:

  • My family
  • My friends
  • My readers

Our other tradition, aside from cooking an almost traditional Thanksgiving lunch/dinner, is to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. If I’m lucky, hubby and I will put up our Christmas tree after Thanksgiving lunch/dinner! If not, we’ll have the weekend to tackle it.

I’ll be sure to post pictures next week!

Until next week,

Sarah


Writing Life

If you’ve been keeping track of the awesome writing adventure I’ve been on, you’ll know I’m working on the 7th book in the Cry Wolf series for National Novel Writing Month.

This week’s post dives a little deeper into that. I’m currently sitting at 27k words, which is pretty impressive for me.

One thing I’ve remembered this month is how just because I have an outline and the characters laid out doesn’t mean it’s always going to be easy. But that’s been part of my process, I guess. There’s a point in the book where I have no idea how in the world I’ve managed to write around 30 books. Were those books flukes? How did I do it? And then, something happens, and I break through that point, and the words flow again.

On the flipside, I’ve discovered that there’s something new and special about the person I am now versus who I was before. The hard days before might’ve knocked me down and made me consider just not writing for the day. With the holidays coming up, there’s a good chance I’ll be taking small breaks to spend time with family and friends. But not getting words on the page because I’ve had a bad day, or my outline isn’t as awesome as I’d first thought, isn’t a good enough reason now. I’d rather keep climbing my way to 50k words and beyond!

Jacob and Kelly also make it a pleasure to write. They keep me coming back to the keyboard each day, ready to see where their story is headed next. Their interactions with one another are seriously cute.

Interested in seeing a snippet from the latest book? I shared one with my book club on Facebook. Join us if you’d like to see excerpts from my latest novels too!

Until next week,

Sarah

Staying Focused

Since the beginning of November, I’ve been doing National Novel Writing Month. That’s been going well! I’ve written over twelve thousand words so far, which I have to say is the most on top of it I’ve probably ever been. 🙂

Over on my Instagram, I’ve been participating in a NaNoWriMo Instagram photo challenge. You can find it at #igwritersnano. The fifth day’s prompt was How Do You Focus?

For me, I think one of the important things that have helped my productivity this month has been the fact I laid out a solid foundation for my book with the prep challenge I did in October. Knowing more about my characters, knowing about the locations, and knowing what’s going to happen (for the most part) in the book really helps. My problem before with writing was I’d get so excited to start writing that I’d dig into the book, then get stuck because I didn’t know where the story should go next. Having a beat sheet handy helps a lot.

With that said, I fire up Scrivener and put on my headphones. There’s something about using headphones that helps me block out the world and focus harder than if I’m listening to music without headphones. For music, my favorites are Electronic Dance Music and The Game of Thrones soundtracks.

Something else that’s helped keep me on track is using the PomoDoneApp, which is a Pomodoro timer that syncs with my to-do list. That helps me keep track of how long it takes me to write or create a blog post and ideally plan my days better.

I also enjoy doing word sprints on NaNoWriMo’s Sprints Twitter. Seeing other writers share their word counts too makes it exciting. You’re not the only one out there, just writing alone in the void.

The great thing about both of those methods is it allows me to focus on writing, but it also reminds me to take small breaks to get water and move around a little in between sprints or Pomodoros. In the past, I’ve had a bad habit of staying at my desk for hours upon end and forgetting that the world outside of my computer exists until I look up and I’m so hungry or thirsty and several hours are gone. I’m glad those days are gone! That certainly wasn’t a healthy way to work.

Until next time,

Sarah


Plotting? Check!

First of all, Happy Halloween! I hope whatever you do today is spooktacular. Once the clock strikes midnight, I’ll be writing since tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo. 🙂

Over the past month, I decided to try out something different from what I usually do. Normally, I get my beat sheet done, then I begin writing with basic ideas of characters, locations, and so on. Most of that stuff is in my head and doesn’t go down on paper.

Whew… Not this time!

This year, I saw an October Prep Challenge for NaNoWriMo, and I decided to go for it. It had been a while since I’d done anything like that, so what could it hurt? There were plenty of different topics from the Premise to Setting Lists to an Antagonist Profile. It helped me to see the plentiful benefits of going deeper with plotting than just throwing together a beat sheet and diving in. In fact, I’ll probably do a modified version of it for future books. Maybe I’m more of a plotter than a plantser I realized?

Part of Jacob’s Profile

As seen above, I created a template for character profiles with pictures to get a better picture of the hero, heroine, and all of the other characters I can foresee making their way into the story. My Google-fu even came in handy to find pictures for the settings. 

Overview of October Prep

I’ll get it all a little more tidily organized within Scrivener today, but knowing that all the major information I might need when I’m writing is just a click away feels pretty awesome.

Until next time,

Sarah

Cry Wolf Series News

Hey there,

And I’m back with more news!

Last week, I wrote about how I was dipping my toes into the waters with getting back to my writing business. Not only did I survive the week, but it’s been really fun getting back into things! 🙂

Something else I mentioned last week was that I’d be participating in National Novel Writing Month in November. After puzzling over what book to write and what it should be about, I’m thrilled to say that outline for Cry Wolf 7 is done! That’s pretty awesome. I’d initially thought aiming to have it complete by October 30th would be optimistic.

The story will be about Kelly and Jacob. So far, the plan is it will pick up directly after The Wolf Who Played With Fire. If you’ve read the first three books, you’ll probably know what I mean. I’m imagining this book as the bridge between the events of the first three books to the present with the Scottish Pack’s trilogy.

Speaking of the Scottish Pack, I haven’t forgotten about Cry Wolf 6. Before I took a break from writing, I’d been in the process of going over the edits from my editor. I’ve picked up on completing that while I’ve been planning the book six. More news on it soon!

Until Next Time,

Sarah