Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rock*it Reads: Guest Post with Joan Swan + Giveaway

Joan Swan shares our interest in firemen and we're totally all for it! Joan participated in our first December Joyathon as well as we were a stop on her fun blog tour for FEVER. It's always a pleasure to host her and today she's sharing with us her road to becoming a published author.  And she's sharing a pretty sexy excerpt from Intimate Enemies, her first book published under the Rock*It Reads label.

WELCOME BACK TO THE BLOG JOAN!!!

Meet Joan:
Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist and writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. Her debut novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, released February 28, 2012. Her second novel, BLAZE, follows in October, 2012.

In her day job, she works as a sonographer for one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation and lives on the California central coast in beautiful wine country with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Joan: Author Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog

Hi, Jamie and Kati! Thanks for having me on the blog today. I love Romancing Rakes and have had so much fun here with you and your readers in the past. It’s great to be back! And I’m in such fabulous company with my Rock*It Reads sisters!

I believe I’m the baby of the group. I write for Kensington, and my debut novel, FEVER, released in March. Book 2 in the series, BLAZE, comes out this October and agreed to continue the series with Kensington with two more books next year.

I love writing for Kensington. My editor, Alicia Condon has a talented eye for the big picture, while also keeping her finger on the market’s pulse. So when she suggests a change in my work—a plotline, a character, I trust her judgment. She’s also flexible and open-minded, ready to consider my ideas and how they fit into the greater puzzle. Her editing skills brought out the very best in FEVER, which in turn taught me valuable lessons I applied to BLAZE. As a result, BLAZE needed very little editing (and I believe it’s a kick-ass book, though I could be a little partial. )

Experienced editing is only one example of what traditional publishers offer authors. As a person who is always looking for ways to grow as a writer and perfect my craft, I am certainly interested in any opportunity where an industry professional with over two decades of experience is willing to work one on one with me. In my opinion, having a strong partner to collaborate with in an effort to strengthen my work is worth more than any monetary value I could assign.

As we all know, the industry is changing. I’ve worked in many fields over the years—high tech, computer, medical—and I know change is inevitable. I try to look for opportunities when change comes along, as uncomfortable as it may be. Self publishing offers many benefits and rewards as well. The ability to write in a genre that may not be selling to New York, but is selling well online. The ability for control—over cover design, content, promotion, etc. Sales information at your fingertips. And more. These rewards do not come free. Venturing into self publishing requires substantial commitment, the willingness to invest your time in learning and perfecting the business side of writing.

So when I was introduced to Rock*It Reads by my critique partner Elisabeth Naughton, I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in. Rock*It Reads authors are focused on delivering the best of themselves in every book they create. I can definitely identify with that. Everyone in the group has a variety of experiences within the industry, and by sharing that information, we all benefit.

My first foray into self-publishing will be with INTIMATE ENEMIES. This is one of my favorite books, a double RWA Golden Heart finalist and one that I’ve wanted to reach readers for a long time. Because romantic suspense is still a bit of a hard sell in traditional publishing, I decided to self-publish.

To bring the book up to my current writing standards, what I thought would be a revision has turned into a rewrite. But I love this book so much, I’m really enjoying the process. The characters are richer, the storyline far more compelling, the prose smoother and more meaningful. The book will release later than I anticipated, but it will be a work I can be proud of because I’ll know I gave it the best I had.
Hopefully, it will be a work my readers can love and appreciate as well.

I’ve provided an excerpt here. Hope you enjoy!

“What the hell are you doing out here?” Cassie hugged her elbows and purposely slowed her breathing, struggling with the rush of emotions that didn’t make any intellectual sense.

“Just taking a swim,” Rio said.

“At this time of night. In the dark. You…” —Her tone said idiot—“…are crazy.”

“You aren’t the first to say so.”

Rio ruffled the wet, black waves of his hair in a careless, absentminded way. Cool seawater sprayed Cassie. A laugh popped out of her mouth, surprising her and easing the lingering tension between them.

“Hey.” She held her hands up as if that would keep her dry. “Stop it.”

He lowered his hand, grinning. A sheepish, slightly mischievous, tiny bit guilty, lopsided smile. “Are you going to melt?”

Cassie’s stomach squeezed and twirled the way it did when she’d thought about seeing him again.

Then he dropped his head and shook it. That wet-dog-just-out-of-the-bath shake. Water sprayed in every direction. Little arcs splashed Cassie and she squeaked at the cold against her skin. Then laughed with the sheer pleasure of his playfulness.

And when he stopped and looked at her again, the smile cutting across his face tightened her chest. Wide and warm and happy, around beautiful white teeth and making his pretty eyes sparkle. A mirror image of how she felt inside. But it was the dimples that inflated her lungs until they popped and the air finally leaked out.

God, dimples? Really? Like he wasn’t gorgeous enough without them?

Her joy must have risen too high, reached some internal warning level, because as quickly as it had filled her, that happiness took on an edge. Something that nagged at her like anxiety.

She broke his gaze, one she hadn’t realized she’d been holding until she looked down at the sand, and lifted both hands to her face to wipe at the water. The back of her arm pulled and burned. Cassie hissed in a breath and twisted her arm to look at the back.

“Let me see.” His voice was close and she looked up to find him there, already reaching for her arm, leaning in to inspect the scratch.

He eased her arm across her chest and turned her into the moonlight, giving him a better view.

“It’s nothing.” Her voice came out breathy. She didn’t like sounding—or feeling—nervous. “I’m fine.”

“Mmm-hmm,” he dusted dirt off the wide scrape. “You said that about you knee, too. At least this one isn’t dripping blood everywhere.”

His body heat seemed to reach out and fill the space between them. Caressed Cassie’s bare arms and legs. He smelled like fresh seawater and something very unique, very Rio. Something male and alluring. Parts of her that she’d begun to worry were permanently broken started to function again.

“It’s not too bad, but it’s dirty.” His voice was near her ear and either the sound of it or the heat of it raised gooseflesh along her neck. “Sorry I scared you.”

She turned her head and found her mouth just an inch from his ear. A perfectly shaped ear. One with a curl of wet black hair arcing over the upper lobe. She should pull away. Go inside where she was safe. Instead, she reached up and pushed the curl behind his ear with one finger. Let her touch slid down the side of his face before her hand drifted away.

He froze. His eyes darted toward her in a sidelong look, then back to her arm. “And, I’m sorry about…earlier, too. I wasn’t expecting anyone and—”

“I’ve thought of you…since the funerals.” The words just came out. “I would have…you know…called, but I realized later that I didn’t know who you were.”

Rio’s jaw muscle tightened beneath tanned skin and dark stubble. She wanted to lay her lips there so badly. Almost did. Then his eyes slid closed and Cassie found herself staring at the length of his lashes, the beautiful curve of them against his cheekbone, the way the sight of them heated and softened her chest at the same time.

“Me too,” he said, voice low, rough. His eyes opened, but instead of looking at her, he kept his eyes toward the sand. “Thought of you, I mean. But I didn’t think it was…I don’t know…appropriate, I guess, to call.”

The center of Cassie’s chest was glowing now. Before she could think of what to say next, Rio cleared his throat. “I’ll get something to clean this.”

He lifted his head. Met her eyes for a brief second, their mouths just inches apart. Two very conflicting emotions coiled in her chest—fear and desire. One should smother the other, but both feelings were so strong they continued to battle.

Cassie couldn’t help but think kiss me. Please. Kiss me.

His eyes lowered to her mouth.

Yes.

Then slid away.

Damn.

“I’ll…um…” His voice rasped. “Just go get—“

Screw it. A spark of determination burned a millisecond before she put her free hand against his jaw and pressed her lips to his.

Warmer than Cassie had imagined, softer than she’d expected, his lips felt wonderful on hers. Absolutely wonderful. And right. So right. He didn’t pull away, so she let her lips linger there. Let them slide. Let them taste.

A sound drifted from his throat. A sigh or a moan. Soft and pleased. He lowered her arm, but didn’t let go. The move broke their kiss and brought them face-to-face. There, reality trickled in. Damn. She shouldn’t have done that. Shouldn’t have kissed him like that.

Her sexy haze slid into embarrassment. She took a step back, but Rio leaned in and slid an arm around her waist. A quick move. A deliberate, strong move that made her draw a breath. Made her body tingle. Made her mind go cloudy again. He eased her close, his arm tightening low on her back until they were pressed together, hips to chest.

And, holy hell, wow. Wow. She couldn’t think much beyond... Just wow. His body was hard. Cool on the surface, sending a shiver across her skin. Warm beneath, urging her to burrow closer. Her nipples tightened and her breasts swelled in response. Her breathing quickened.

She rested her hands on his chest, an awkward location, but she wasn’t sure what else to do with them. Her body urged her to do crazy things, urgent things she hadn’t done in a long time. Her mind struggled to understand her powerful response to him. And not a damn thing was meshing.

“I’ve been wanting to thank you,” she stared at his throat, rambling to fill the silence, but her voice gave away her nerves with a soft, uneven quality, “for your kindness…you know…at the cemeter—“

He bent his head and kissed her. She pulled in a little gasp of surprise. Every muscle tensed. But then his mouth moved over hers. Gentle pressure, firm, slow kisses. She softened against him, and he welcomed her with the strength of his body. The same way he’d taken her in at the cemetery, with warmth, acceptance, affection.

Oh, he had nice lips. Full, warm, supple. And he knew what to do with them. How to entice, to seduce. Not at all like the hurried, greedy men she’d been with in the past. Rio gave. He gave with the slow suckle of her upper lip, kisses to the corner of her mouth, the slid of his tongue over her bottom lip.

A soft moan slipped out of her mouth. His arm slid lower on her back, pulled her hips tight against a generous erection that had the potential to unsettled her all over again. But his other hand sweetly caressed the nape of her neck, and his palm settled there.

With his fingers deep in her hair, body flush with hers, he tilted his head and opened his mouth. Cassie followed with a sigh. Without thought, without question. Met his tongue impatiently. Recklessly. Completely lost herself in a heady rush of lust, the heat of his mouth, the texture and talent of his tongue.

He tasted of tangy sea salt and male heat. And for the first time in years, she found herself hungry for more than just this, just kissing. So much more.

Excerpt from Intimate Enemies ©2012 by Joan Swan
###

INTIMATE ENEMIES:
She is on a quest for answers; answers that could just get her killed.

Six months after the mysterious yacht explosion that killed Cassie Christo’s mother and stepbrother, authorities still have no answers to the cause. Searching for closure, Cassie returns to her childhood home on the Pacific Coast of Baja, Mexico, where she launches her own investigation into the accident. She never expected to find an adversary in the man who had once touched her heart with kindness in her darkest moment.

Rio’s been fantasizing about reconnecting with Cassie for months. But not here and sure as hell not now. As an undercover agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he’s working the biggest sting operation in all of northern Mexico, and he definitely doesn’t have time for the wild attraction he feels for Cassie.

Not only is his cover on the line, so is his heart. Because as the end of a yearlong operation draws closer, Rio knows if he tells Cassie the truth about who and what he is, it won’t only jeopardize his mission, it may result in him losing her forever. And if he doesn’t, his lies and deception could get them both killed.

Okay, if that excerpt doesn't do it for you then we don't know what will. Joan is giving away two(2) copies of FEVER or INTIMATE ENEMIES(you'll have to wait a bit on this one). Winner's choice. Here's how to get your sexy on:
  • Leave a meaningful comment for Joan about romantic suspense, the Rock*It Reads project or firemen.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter form below. You must leave a comment. All other entries are optional.
Keep up with the fun posts by the ladies of Rock*It Reads here.

A huge thank you to Joan for sharing a little bit about her writing journey as well as for the giveaway copies of Fever and Intimate Enemies.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





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