Cover Reveal~ BRAVE by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I’m so excited to bring you the newest cover reveal for not only one of the most talented authors I know and one of my favorite series, but she’s also one of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, Jennifer L. Armentrout. Without further ado, let’s be BRAVE.

Series: The Wicked Trilogy, Book # 3

RELEASE DATE: December 11th, 2017

Available Formats: Paperback (U.S./Canada) and E-book

 

About BRAVE:

Ivy Morgan hasn’t been feeling like herself lately. Not like anyone can blame her. After all, being held captive by a psychotic fae prince hell-bent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld is bound to leave some mental scars.

It’s more than that, though. Something dark and insidious is spreading throughout Ivy, more powerful than she could ever imagine… and it’s coming between her and the man she’s fallen deeply in love with, elite Order member Ren Owens.

Ren would do anything to keep Ivy safe. Anything. But when he makes a life altering choice for her, the fallout of his act has far reaching consequences that threaten to tear their lives apart.

If Ivy is going to have any hope of surviving this, she must put aside the hurt and betrayal she feels, and work with not only those she loves, but with an enemy she would rather kill than ever trust. War is coming, and it soon becomes clear that what Ivy and Ren thought they knew about the Order, themselves, and even their enemies, has been nothing but a cluster of dangerous, deadly lies. Ivy knows she must be more than just brave to save those she loves–and, ultimately, to save herself.

 

Because behind every evil fae Prince, there’s a Queen

Pre-order here!

And did I mention there’s a giveaway? Yep. Enter Here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if that wasn’t cool enough, she’s also hosting a virtual book signing!

To celebrate the upcoming release of BRAVE (book 3 in the Wicked Saga), Jennifer is offering an exclusive virtual signing! Through this virtual signing, you will be able to order SIGNED & PERSONALIZED copies of WICKED, TORN, and BRAVE!

And best of all — This is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY! Click here for more info and to submit your order! 

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

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BookExpo Signing and Speakeasy Party!

 

 

Hey there lovely people! I’m excited to announce I finally have my schedule for BookExpo 2017! I will be signing copies of CANARY CLUB at the Midpoint Trade Books booth #2539 on Thursday 6/1 at 2:30pm! 

 

 

 

And that night, after the halls of the Javits have closed up, I’m heading over to a notorious NYC speakeasy for some fun, and I want YOU to join me!

I will be hitting up THE BACK ROOM at 8pm Thursday night for some prohibition era shenanigans at the club that inspired the book! YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ATTENDING BEA TO JOIN US! Myself and some feisty dames from my publishing house will be getting our flapper on till after 10 pm, so stop by and see us! Listen to some great tunes, kick back some giggle water, and floor flush the night away with me! I will also have some special goodies for anyone who RSVP’s by commenting on THIS POST. It’s going to be the bee’s knees!

See you there!

 

A New Look And A New Name

Hello interwebs! It’s been a heck of a month here in book land. I’ve been gearing up for the Canary Club pre-launch (the 3-6 month marketing period before a book releases) and some really cool things have been happening on that front. If you are interested, the best place to keep up to date with it all is over on my FACEBOOK PAGE, only becasue things are happening too often and too fast to put it on the blog every single day. But highlights include my upcoming feature in Publisher’s Weekly (in MAY, the Book Expo edition) and the new book trailer which just dropped!

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to discuss today is the changes coming to my website and to my overall brand. (Not sure what an author brand is or how to create one? Check out my post HERE.) Now, I’ve worked hard to build my author brand over the years and I have created a recognizable author presence with it. So when I say changes, I do NOT mean a complete overhaul. When people see my name on a book, they (mostly) know what to expect. I write in many subgenres but all under the umbrella of YA/NA, so people don’t come in expecting lit fic or horror or any of those things. I worked hard for this, and the last thing I want to do is confuse readers or disassociate myself from my brand.

But, and this is key, a good brand should be fluid. It should be able to grow with you as you grow. Sometimes as we write and publish more, who we are and what we’re writing evolves. A great brand evolves with you. Which is why its key to do routine brand maintenance and updates. Just as you should be refreshing your website design every year to two years, you should continually be reevaluating your brand. Does it still fit? Are you sending the message you hoped to send with it? Is it functional for you and your readers?

If not, its time to do a little tweaking.

If you haven’t changed your website design (not just updating content, but the actual layout and images), its probably time to do a little tweaking.

Now, my only word of caution is this, you want to avoid changing things so much that you change your BRAND. You don’t want to go from a brand like this to a brand like this. You see what I’m getting at? Again, your brand isn’t just your logos and colors and fonts, its YOU, its what you write and how you present yourself to your readers. If you go from being a fun loving, cat meme posting YA author to a naked dude posting, steamy erotica author, that changes your BRAND. Its a fundamental change of what people expect from you, both online and on the page.

However, updating your site is important, so how do you do it and keep your brand in tact? A good example can be found here. Scroll down and see what Lauren Oliver’s site USED to look like, then click the link to the current site to see the update. She has updated her brand to include not just her teen books, but her adult and young reader titles as well. But, it hasn’t changed so much that she has confused her fanbase or muddled her brand. She’s changed her logo, evolved it. But you still know what you’re getting when you navigate to her site (or to any of her online accounts) which is key.

So on to what I’m doing here. Over the next week, all my online accounts, beginning with this website, will be changing. We have created a new logo and will be changing up the basic design of it all. The logo change comes for a number of reasons, partly becasue I’ve outgrown the current one, and partly becasue it was brought to my attention that another author is using it as well. This happens, especially when you’re dealing with stock images. No need to get upset about it (though I may have whined to my graphic designer about it for a day or two), best to just move on and focus upward. The new logo is everything I love, its sleek, a little edgy, and full of subtext. Plus, when I asked my fans what they thought of when they thought of me, the overwhelming response was “royalty’ or “crowns”. So, we went with a crown. But not just your basic, run-of-the-mill tiara. I wanted something a touch more unique than that…

The Old Logo

And the new logo:

New Logo

What I kept was the fonts, the basic color scheme, and the tag line. In my banner I also kept the clouds and the very whimsical vibe (which is just my personality), and I plan to carry that over to the website as well.

 

This is the mock up for the banner, it may be tweaked a bit still…

 

You may (or may not) notice one other change. I dropped the D in my name. So why was it Sherry D. Ficklin in the first place? Well, when I began publishing many years ago, the first thing I did was google my name, to make sure some author wasn’t already using it. And to my surprise, there was. A wonderful lady with my name was the author of several nursing articles and journals. She occupied the first full page of google search results. Not wanting to be confused for her, I added the D to my name. But now, nearly a decade later, even if you search just Sherry Ficklin, I occupy the first 30+ search pages. So, I figured it was time to let it go. It doesn’t help that some of my books are listed on retail sites as simply Sherry Ficklin, as well as my website being sherryficklin.com (with no D.) So, with very little fanfare, I leave my middle initial by the wayside and simplify my branding.

Make no mistake, updating can be tricky. Deciding what to keep and what to change, wanting to be on trend but not ‘dated’. Not to mention the expense of ordering new business cards and new banners, etc. My advice is this, get your fans involved in the redesign as much as possible. Talk about it online, show them logos and get their input. Make your tedious upkeep an fun event for them to be a part of. Remember, your author brand is one of the few things in this industry that really does get to be all about YOU, so don’t be afraid to let your personality show!

Canary Club Official Teaser Trailer

The Canary Club

By Sherry D. Ficklin

Coming 10/16

From Crimson Tree Publishing

Don’t miss the book that’s sure to be the bee’s knees!

“Bad Luck” Benny is more than just a fella from the wrong side of the tracks.Recently released from jail, he has vowed to keep his head down and stay out of trouble. But he also needs to care for his ailing sister and the rest of his struggling family, and he’ll do anything to make that happen–even if it means taking a position with a notorious crime boss. He soon finds himself in over his head–and worse still–falling for the one dame on earth he should be staying away from.

Masie is the daughter of a wealthy gangster with the voice of an angel and gun smoke in her veins. Strong-willed but trapped in a life she never wanted, she dreams of flying free from the politics and manipulation of her father. A pawn in her family’s fight for control of the city, and with a killer hot on her heels, she turns to the one person who just might be able to spring her from her gilded cage. But Masie is no angel, and her past mistakes may come back to burn them both.

Two worlds collide in this dazzling story of star-crossed lovers in gritty prohibition-era New York.

Pre-order your print edition NOW on Amazon! 

Visit the official website

http://thecanary.club

BookExpo2017~ Changes and Canary Reservations

The main floor of the Jacob Javits convention center is seen during the Book Expo America in New York, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

Hey all! It’s almost that time again. Of course I mean BOOK EXPO AMERICA (though they have dropped the “America” and are now just BookExpo). For those of you who have no friggin idea what I’m talking about, BookExpo is the largest publishing trade show in North America. It’s back home in NYC this year after a jaunt to Chicago in 2016, and publishers, authors, and media peeps are gearing up for the event.

Firstly, let me make a few things clear about BEA. Firstly, its not a reader con. It is for “Industry Professionals and Media ONLY”, meaning that to attend, you have to be a publisher, author, blogger, librarian, store owner or buyer, agent, etc. Its not open to the general public. HOWEVER right after BEA is BookCon, which IS a public event anyone can attend. Either way, tickets are spendy and the event is a 3 day gauntlet of forthcoming titles. Publishers are showing off the books releasing in the next few months (normally fall/winter releases are featured, but sometimes new releases and even next year’s books can show up). At BEA, all the books are free. You just ask for one (or in some cases, you just take one from a huge pile). At BookCon *some* books are free but most are for sale. (this distinction is part of the reason they have fully separated the two events, to keep the general public from scooping up free ARCs meant for media and bloggers only).

Secondly, BEA is not for every author or every book. In fact, its so expensive to attend (and don’t even get me started about how much it costs to have a BOOTH there) that for most indie authors, it’s a huge black hole of time and money.

So what’s the point? Well, the point is to get your title in front of people who either want to order it for their shelves (book stores and libraries) or to sell foreign rights (so many agents and meetings happen on the trade floor) or to get ARCs in the hands of reviewers.

This year, BEA has come down on a rule change when it comes to the bloggers they allow into the event. Before now, you could just say you’re a blogger and get in. But now they have staff who are carefully vetting each blogger who applies, to make sure they are who they claim to be and that they are BOOK bloggers. This is a double edge sword because it might prevent smaller bloggers from attending, or it might discourage first timers from even applying. But in a digital world, how many people DON’T have a blog of some kind? When publishers are forking out thousands of dollars not just to attend, but to print all those books being given away, they want some guarantee that their books are landing in the right hands.

(If you are curious about the rule change, its explained fairly well HERE)

Where you can find me…

Now, I’m going to be there this year signing copies of my new novel, The Canary Club, with my distributor, Midpoint Trade Books (they have a huge booth, it will be hard to miss, I promise). But, as we get ready for the event, I want to make sure that we have enough copies for everyone who wants one (and the more accurate I can be, the better since my publisher has to pay for those books, even though YOU don’t!) AND to make sure no one who wants one ends up empty handed. This was an issue with Queen of Someday when we took it to Book Expo a few years back. We had many bloggers show up late to the signing to find that they were already all gone. So, in an effort to keep this from happening again, we created this handy reservation form.

It’s super easy, just fill it out and I will hold a copy for you, plus I’ll shoot you an email letting you know where and when you can pick it up at the event! Again, this is ONLY for BEA attendees, but this way no blogger leaves disappointed. I mean, You’ve spent a lot of time and money to go to this event, the last thing I want is for you to miss out–and there is so much going on, missing out on a book is a VERY easy thing to do!

If you are attending as an author or blogger or whatever for the first time and are looking for some tips and tricks, I recommend going over my past BEA posts. They are SUPER helpful, I promise.

And until next time, my nerds. Happy travels!

Book Expo America Survival Guide pt. 1

Book Expo America Survival Guide pt. 2

Book Expo America Survival Guide pt. 3

Book Expo America Survival Guide pt. 4

 

 

 

The Canary Club Cover Reveal

The Canary Club
Sherry D. Ficklin
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: October 16th 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

“Bad Luck” Benny is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Recently released from jail, he has vowed to keep his head down and stay out of trouble. But he also needs to care for his ailing sister and the rest of his struggling family, and he’ll do anything to make that happen—even if it means taking a position with a notorious crime boss. He soon finds himself in over his head—and worse still—falling for the one dame on earth he should be staying away from.

Masie is the daughter of a wealthy gangster with the voice of an angel and gun smoke in her veins. Strong-willed but trapped in a life she never wanted, she dreams of flying free from the politics and manipulation of her father. A pawn in her family’s fight for control of the city, and with a killer hot on her heels, she turns to the one person who just might be able to spring her from her gilded cage. But Masie is no angel, and her own dark secrets may come back to burn them both.

Two worlds collide in this compelling story of star-crossed lovers in gritty prohibition-era New York.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

 

Author Bio:

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Your Author Vendor Table

We’ve talked about this before, but this, like so many things relating to your author brand, should be an ever evolving project. Just as you update your website regularly, you should also be updating the look of your author vendor table.

What is an author vendor table? Well, depending on the event, its the table you use to display and sell your books. Now, if you are doing a book signing at say, B&N or your local indie bookstore, you might not want to do an entire vendor display. BUT if you are at a reader convention or something similar where you are direct selling your books, an eye-catching table display is going to be your best friend.

Before I get into the design of a table, let’s review what sort of things your table should have.

1) Books. Duh. And how many? Ah, the eternal struggle. That depends on the size of the event and your individual popularity. If it’s your first release and you don’t have much of a fan base yet (hey, that’s cool, we all start somewhere!) then you don’t need as many as a seasoned, well-known author. My friend and book guru Jo Michaels suggests between 0.5 and 1% of the total number of people expected to attend. She explains the math on her post here, and I think that’s a very good rule of thumb. Unless you are in a city where you know you have a ton of friends/family/fans coming, go with 1%. (also keep in mind that the turn out for your first book in your home town will almost always be high, so plan accordingly)

2) A cash drawer and a credit card slider for your smart phone. People need to pay for the books they buy. Be sure you have change (I suggest charging a nice round number for books rather than having to fumble with nickles and dimes) and a Square or other CC reader. People expect to be able to pay with cards. BE SURE you are charging and reporting any state sales taxes as needed. If you’re not sure, call up your local Small Business office and they will help you out. (You can also go here for tips and advice.)

3) Business cards. Sometimes the people you meet at events aren’t just book lovers. Agents, producers, and other industry professionals also browse them, so be ready.

4) A sign up sheet for your newsletter. This is a HUGE deal. You can offer a raffle prize to people who sign up, or special swag items. But get people to sign up. This is going to be extremely beneficial in the long run. If you prefer, you can also use a tablet and have people sign up online right at your booth.

5) SWAG. Not everyone buys paper books anymore. Swag serves dual purposes. It gives them a reminder later of a book they may have wanted to buy and where to get it, and it acts as a walking billboard to other potential book buyers. I have a whole post on SWAG here.

6) Author brand/display items. This includes any knick knacks that tie your brand into the decor, as well as instructions on how to find you online and a price list for anything you are selling.

*7) Depending on the event, you may also want to sell branded merch (mugs, shirts, etc) or handmade items. I have a friend who sells crochet dragons (her books are dragon theme) and she often makes as much on those sales as she does her actual books, especially at events like Comic Cons.This it totally optional!

Ok, that’s not terrible, right? Now, depending on the venue you may also need chairs, table cloth, heck, sometimes you even have to bring your own table. I suggest asking beforehand so you know what to expect. It also helps to know what size your table will be and to do a practice run through of what your setup will be.

I set up my table several different ways and let my Facebook fans choose their favorite arrangement. This is what they choose.

One thing that I’v discovered is that the more books I publish, the harder the table setup becomes. When I began, I had only a few books and used decorative plate stands to display them. Then, I had to move to a three tiered display box. (If you are interested in getting one like mine, you can buy them here) Now I’m overflowing even that and need to buy a second, probably before next year’s events begin. I’ve also discovered that the display I do may vary slightly depending on the type of event, if I have a full table or half, and I often change up the table decor to represent any new releases. What I maintain is my color scheme (which matches my website and logo branding), fonts, and similar items. (FYI I keep my newsletter sign up list behind my display stand, to help protect people’s privacy. But I keep in the frame on the left a note about signing up, so people can ask for it)

So what makes a booth/table great?

You should be eye catching. Now, if say you write steampunk, then you can decorate your whole table with steampunk goodies, trunks, goggles, etc. For romance, go with red satin and flowers. You get the idea. I will say that bright, colorful, eye catching booths do better than dark, bland ones. Clean and uncluttered is best, but not so perfectly symmetrical that people are afraid to approach it.

Think of the theme of your books and see if anything strikes you. For those of you like me who write in multiple genres, our job is a bit trickier. This is where a really good, flexible author brand comes in real handy. I, personally, am mostly known for historical stuff, and my preferred aesthetic is a sort of mellow, laid back vibe with hints of classic romance. I like distressed things and vintage items. So these are the small things we incorporated into my branding and display.

My friend Elizabeth Sharp does an AMAZING table display. She, like her table, has a bright, vibrant personality, and it really comes through in her display. *Note this was from 2015 so she may have changed it up by now.

11694948_1122051727808428_2332594168633498212_nHer table has many things going for it. It’s bright, it’s trendy, its NEAT, organized, and visually inviting. Her name and author logo are prominent, as is her newsletter sign up sheet. Also notice how her books are stacked below the display stands? This creates lift, raising the books like this gives the table height and dimension–much more attractive than a flat, one story display.

Also very useful are vinyl banners with your author name/logo.book covers. It can be horizontal and attached to the front of the table like a skirt or it can be vertical and sitting beside or behind your table. This is a pic from UtopYA 2015. The attending authors always do an amazing job with their displays:

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Here’s my banner. The colors are a little off here, but I’ve pulled the robin’s egg blue and deep purple for my primary table colors, along with a simple black tablecloth.

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Or you can go with a combination of table banners like author Casey Bond. Notice she uses shelves to elevate her books:

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Do you only have one book? That’s no problem! Put two or three on stands in varying heights and scatter them on the table. To add more height you can use balloons, flowers, and tall decor. Another thing I’ve seen used is battery operated strings of mini lights strewn about a table.

So think about your theme, your genre, and your personality. Your table display doesn’t have to ‘match’ your covers, but it should be in line with your overall author brand. The idea is to make your table look fun and welcoming, to invite people over to have a look and stay for a while. The best way to do that is to make it a place where YOU feel comfortable and look professional.

Here’s the final table you can expect to see at my 2017 events, and you can find a list of places you will be able to stalk me IRL this year in the menu bar above under the FOR READERS tab. Hope to see you!

Cheers!

 

Glitter and Gold Anthology RELEASE DAY + GIVEAWAY

Glitter and Gold: A Canary Club Anthology
Sherry D. Ficklin
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 27th 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

Set during the flamboyant anything-goes era of 1920’s America, these three tales are filled with intriguing characters and rich imagery from the time period—with flappers, jazz music, gangsters, and lavish wealth. Escape to a different decade today with the compelling stories of the Canary Club Anthology.

 

Novelette 1- Gilded Cage

Masie, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious bootlegger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis. Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father’s empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets, Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future—and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making.

 

Novelette 2- All That Glitters

A dame with brains, moxie, and killer curves, June West isn’t your average flapper. She’s managed to endear herself to the son of one of the most powerful gangsters in New York, earning herself a spot in the limelight that she’s always longed for. With the infamous playboy at her side, June has become accustomed to living the high life. Lavish parties, expensive clothes, sparkling jewels—nothing is beyond her reach. But when her carefully woven web of lies finally catches up with her, she must make an impossible choice… come clean about her past and risk losing everything, or find a way to bury her demons—once and for all.

 

Novelette 3 – Nothing Gold

Dickey has been down on his luck since the day he was born. Flat broke and sick of being looked down on, he meets young socialite Lillian at a wild party. The connection is like a strike of lightning. From a wealthy New York family, this debutante is everything he’s been told he can never have—and the only thing he wants. Determined to win her, he knows the only way to get her parents approval is with cold hard cash. So when a shot at the biggest score of his life comes around, he just can’t refuse…

Add to Goodreads

NOTHING GOLD EXCERPT:

It’s easier than I imagined to sneak into the party. The music is so loud and the crowd so enormous that no one sees me wind my way through the shrubs on the outskirts. The massive estate is far enough away from the city that I had to hitch a ride to get here, and I’ll have to time my exit just right to make the train back to Manhattan.

Brushing off my secondhand suit coat, I enter the party via the back patio. A wide pool is filled with people, most still in their fancy evening wear. My eyes slide past them, searching for the one person at this shindig that I know. I scan past butlers with white gloves holding silver trays covered in champagne glasses, past gleeful dames in short skirts with blood-red lips, and past gents in their glad rags I can tell with one glance cost more dough than I make in a year working at the mill.

When I finally see him, his pinstripe suit, matching fedora, and red pocket square, he’s standing atop the massive staircase on the ledge overlooking the party. Deacon Brewer, the reason I’m here tonight. His hands are stuffed in the pockets of his trousers as he chats up a fella I don’t recognize, along with the dame hanging off his arm. Plastering on an easy grin, I wind my way through the people, helping myself to a glass of bubbly as I head for the stairs. The stone steps are covered in gold confetti, the whole place practically dripping with it. Long, red velvet drapes hang from arched windows, and leafless branches painted gold and draped with crystal beads sit in tall vases in every corner. Nothing has been left un-gilded.

I shake my head at the audacity. Might as well have a neon sign—someone, please rob the joint.

Deacon sees me coming and dismisses himself from his conversation, welcoming me with an open hand.

“Dickey Lewis, glad you could make it, boy,” he offers warmly.

As if I had a choice.

“Of course, Mr. Brewer,” I respond with more warmth than I feel. Truth is that I’m in deep to Deacon after a few bad bets at his club last month, and he opted to make me work it off rather than take it outta my hide. I suppose that makes him clever, but I can’t help the gnawing feeling that this is a debt I may never fully repay. “What’s the score?” I ask, lowering my voice.

Draping an arm across my shoulders, he walks me through the glass doors and into the house. Still crammed with people drinking, dancing, and generally wrecking the joint, he pulls a cigar from his vest pocket with his free hand.

“Upstairs in the den is a lovely Monet, behind which is a very large safe. Cash, some baubles, and a bankbook are inside. I don’t care about the rest; you take what you need. But the bankbook needs to find its way into my hands tomorrow morning by eight am.”

I take a deep breath, rolling my tongue over my teeth before answering, “How am I supposed to get into the safe?”

He barks a deep laugh, slapping me on the back. “Guess you’ll have to get a little creative. Just get in, get out, and don’t let nobody see ya, got it?”

All I can do is nod and watch him swagger away. Sure, I’ve boosted loot before, but always simple jobs, smash and grabs. Nothing like this. What have I gotten myself into this time?

Still, whatever else is in there is mine for the taking, I tell myself. Could be a big pay day, judging by the looks of the place.

I wander casually through the house, trying to look as if I belong while also counting the number of cops and guards watching the area. It’s not as many as I expected. I grab a dark-haired dame by the waist, offering her a charming smile and asking for a dance. We Charleston together for two songs, finally stopping to imbibe more champagne. When I ‘accidently’ stumble into her, she spills the contents of her glass on my jacket, fumbling a wide-eyed apology.

Waving her off with a smile, I hand her my glass, “You take this, and I’ll go find a place to wash up.”

“You could always take a dip in the pool, honey,” she says, batting her eyelashes.

Beside her, a gentleman points up a secondary set of stairs near the front door. “Washroom is up there, I think.”

I mutter a thanks and a promise to return, then make my way up the stairs, continuing to stumble around as if drunk, occasionally opening a door to find a couple necking or a room full of folks smoking the Indian hop in long pipes.

Finally, the thumping of the music fading below me, I make my way to the library. Beyond that, I find the only locked door on the entire floor. Digging into my pocket, I pull out my lock kit, a simple flattened iron jimmy and a hooked pick. Sliding both in the lock, I slide them back and forth, listening for the mechanism inside to release. It doesn’t take long and the door springs open, allowing me to step inside and close it quickly behind me. It’s dark except for the glow of a single lamp atop a massive oak desk, behind which is a tall arched window overlooking the front of the estate. From this spot, I can see the cars lined up along the circular drive, partygoers coming and going in wild abandon. Pulling the pocket watch from my vest, I wipe my fingers across the cracked glass face, checking the time. Only thirty minutes until the train. If I miss it, it’ll be two hours before the next one. Not the end of the world, unless someone notices the lift before I’m gone. That’s a long time to stick around with a pocket fulla stolen goods.

I glance around me, the blood chilling in my veins. Every wall except the one with the window is covered in framed paintings. And I have no idea which one is a Monet.

Scrambling, I begin lifting each, checking the wall behind for any sign of the safe. Finally, on the opposite wall from where I started, I find it. Carefully lifting the heavy canvas free, I set it on the floor and turn my attention to the wall safe. It’s not large, about the size of a bread box with a spinning combination dial in the center. Unsure what else to do, I pull the pocket knife free from my trousers and flick it open, trying to wedge it between the door and the frame. As soon as I do, I know it’s going to be futile. The thing is heavy steel; no way my knife is gonna bust it open. Putting it away, I begin spinning the dial at random, praying I’ll get lucky.

I’m so flustered I don’t hear the door open or the footsteps from behind me until it’s too late.

“It’s my birthday,” a voice offers, making me spin, hands balled into fists to fight my way free from the room.

The dame is tall, her garnet-red hair rolled into bouncy curls and pinned in a messy heap at the back of her neck. Her dress is green, almost the same color as her eyes, and it hugs her slender frame as if it were a second skin. Even the long strings of pearls twined around her neck seems completely natural, not just a decoration but an extension of her. I take a breath, blinking, momentarily stunned. She drapes one hand on her hip, her entire body listing to the side as she points to the safe.

“The combination,” she repeats. “It’s my birthday.”

Finally recovering my voice, I stammer. “I was, uh, just…”

The corners of her mouth turn upward. “Breaking into my father’s safe?”

I don’t know what to say. I feel her in the room, the way one might feel the air change right before a storm, a heaviness that settles in, leaving my soul with a sense of foreboding. My instincts battle inside me. Do I grab her and tie her to a chair, or do I flee? The weight of her gaze makes it impossible to think clearly.

“Relax,” she says, raising a glass I hadn’t noticed her holding to her lips and taking a slow drink. “I’m not calling the guards if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Oh? You’re just gonna let me crack this safe and walk away with whatever’s inside?”

She shrugs. “It’s not my money. What do I care?”

I lick my lips, sizing her up. A spoiled little rich girl who wants to stick it to Daddy. I’ve seen a few of those in my day. I can work with this—if I can get my head back on straight. It’s not like me to get so flustered by a dame, not even a high-quality one like this.

“Besides…” She sets the glass on the desk and saunters toward me. “It’s not like we don’t have enough.”

I catch a hint of her perfume in the air when she brushes by me, lavender and something else I can’t quite place. Taking the dial in her hand, she spins the knob until the door finally clicks, then she steps back, giving me a go-ahead gesture.

I hesitate, flicking glances at the bare skin where her neck meets her shoulder, at the creamy whiteness of her skin, before settling my eyes on her face. “What’s your name, doll?”

She looks down, sheepishly at first, but then raises just her eyes to look at me with an expression of bold defiance. “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

I swallow, considering her offer. She’s already gotten a good look at me, enough to rat me out to the cops. The look on her face is one of challenge, I realize. She’s daring me to trust her.

“Dickey,” I say, pulling the flat cap off my head and holding it over my heart as I bow to her. “Dickey Lewis, at your service, Miss?”

“Lillian Rose Duke,” she answers. “But my friends call me Lilly.”

Replacing my hat, I grab the safe handle and twist, pulling open the heavy door. Grabbing a large wooden box first, I hold it out to her. Moving back, I grab two stacks of fresh bills and stuff them in the pockets of my suitcoat. Finding the bankbook last, I tuck it into the back of my pants before pulling my shirt and jacket over it.

I spin to Lilly, watching as she upends the box, spilling jewelry onto the desk in a pile. She picks through it, finally just scooping it all into her hand and sauntering over to me. Getting so close I feel the warmth of her, she grabs the lapel of my jacket, sliding the gold and stones into the inside pocket.

“Give these to your girl, Dickey Lewis.”

She releases my lapel, but doesn’t step away. Instead, she leans forward. Thinking she’s going to kiss me, I straighten in anticipation, but she just trails her fingers along my collar until she’s cupping the back of my neck.

“I ain’t got no girl,” I admit, my heart pounding behind my ribs.

“Well, isn’t that a shame?” she says, her lips a hair’s breadth from mine.

Unable to resist, I close the final distance between us, clutching her by the waist as I urge her lips to mine. I’ve never tasted gold before, but I imagine this is what it would be like—champagne, honey, and nerves of steel. When she finally pulls away, I’m gasping. Tugging tugs the white linen handkerchief from my pocket, she wipes my face, then hers, of her smeared lipstick before returning the hankie to its place.

“I hope to see you around, Dickey Lewis.”

With that, she spins on her heel and heads for the door, listening for a moment before pulling it open and stepping out. The room is instantly colder, the air thinner. I can finally breathe, can think.

As I slink from the party and disappear into the shadows, making my way down the street to the train station, I can’t force the sight of her from my mind, or the taste of her from my lips.

Even if it takes every penny in my pocket and every breath in my body, I will see Lillian Rose Duke again.

 

 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

SALE! The Love Edy Series

Title: Love Edy Series
Author: Shewanda Pugh
Genre: YA/NA Romance
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba
Editor: Stephanie Dagg
Publisher: Razor’s Edge
Blurb:
When Edy Phelps falls hard for her best friend, she knows nothing can come from it.
Forget actual chemistry, or the fact that she cherishes his mother more than her own; centuries of tradition say that Hassan will grow up, marry the girl his parents pick, and forget his best friend: the dancer with the bursting smile. Except he can’t. In a world erupting with possibilities for the boy with a body of steel and dreams of the NFL, everything seems promised while nothing at all is; when he’s denied the girl he wants most.
Two hearts. Two families devoted through generations of friendship. Could Edy and Hassan really risk all that? And yet … how could they not?
Blurb:
In the aftermath of one tragic and uncertain night, Edy and Hassan shut out the chaos with a kiss. But when Hassan’s traditionalist mother sees that kiss … well, a nightmare of a different sort begins. After all, he still has an arranged marriage on the horizon.
Love attacks the glue of their two bonded families; while the slow tug of success pulls Edy and Hassan in opposite directions. After denying their feelings for so long, they now have each other, but are forced to ask themselves if being together is worth it.
Blurb:
When Edy arrives at Louisiana State University, she soon discovers it takes more than talent to stay in her fellow dancers’ good graces. Meanwhile, Hassan’s status as a newbie freshman means that anytime not practicing is spent steering clear of pranks, cramming every play into his skull, and changing his mind again and again about whether to do that double major. Football, dance, and classes keep him and Edy apart more than together, and in the freedom of a thousand-mile distance from their parents, Edy discovers a wild, free spirit…one that doesn’t sit well with Hassan. But there’s a moody, unapologetic bad boy who likes it more than a little. He goes from irritating Edy to intriguing her. Oh, and yes, he’s a dancer. Finally, there’s Wyatt, in Baton Rouge without an explanation. Freshman year is ricocheting out of control fast as obligations and accusations take their toll. In a world like this, one wrong move is enough for everything Edy and Hassan have worked for to get wrecked.
Shewanda Pugh’s a tomboy who’s been writing romance since an inappropriate age. While she’s been shortlisted for a few awards and snagged a bestsellers list or two, there’s nothing she enjoys more than hearing from her readers.
In another life, she earned a BA from Alabama A&M University and an MA in Writing from Nova Southeastern University. Though a hardcore native of Boston, MA, she now lives in Miami, FL, where she sulks in the sunshine, guzzles coffee, and puzzles over her next novel.
Buy Links:
Love Edy: http://amzn.to/2lImqpL
Love Edy Audiobook: http://bit.ly/LoveEdyAudio
Wrecked (Pre-Order): http://amzn.to/2kjREq3
Mason muscled the Land Rover over a bed of shrubs and into the street, knocking his passengers left then right with the hustle. Just as Matt yelled for him to head in the opposite direction, Lawrence demanded to know if he could possibly hurry up. Hassan’s eyes kept to the street, desperate for a glimpse of a just-departed Edy.
He supposed to an outsider their panic looked silly. But none of them cared. Edy was one of them, and they didn’t need her father to remind them.
“Why would she leave like that?” Mason said, halting at a red light and chewing on the side of his thumb.
“Maybe someone tried something,” Lawrence said.
“Tried something?” Matt echoed.
Silence filled the cabin.
Hassan’s face tightened, teeth sealing with the weight of wet cement. That image didn’t work for him. It didn’t work for him one friggin’ bit.
“If someone had tried something, Edy would’ve come to one of us,” Mason said.
Chloe, who sat wedged between Hassan and Lawrence in the center backseat, cleared her throat. “Maybe she didn’t want to,” she offered.
That had everyone’s attention.
“And why wouldn’t she want to?” Matt snapped.
“I don’t know,” Chloe said. “Maybe . . . if she liked it.” She looked from one face to the next, each cold, hard, unappreciative.
“Maybe you oughta be quiet,” Lawrence muttered and turned to face the window.
Hassan rode with the company of his thoughts, now violently intruded on by Chloe’s assertion. Meanwhile, he kept dialing Edy’s cell and it went to voicemail each time. Tension hung like a threat in the air.
“Who saw her last?” Mason demanded.
“Oh, don’t start that again,” Lawrence said. He turned to Hassan, eyed the cell in his hand. “Keep trying. Keep calling.”
Hassan sighed. He pushed away a thousand crazy thoughts: that Lorenzo Carpenter had been lying to them, that Chloe had been telling the truth, that Chloe had been talking about Lorenzo when she told them the truth.
“We have to check her house,” Mason said. “It’s the only place left.”
“Right,” Matt sneered. “We just walk into her living room and ask Nathan if he’s seen the daughter he left with us.”
“Not us.” Mason said. “Sawn.”
“How?” Hassan said. He looked up from the phone.
“You’ve got a key,” Matt pointed out. “Use it and walk up to her room.”
“Like Nathan isn’t up? Waiting?” Hassan said.
“Window,” Lawrence said. “Climb up. Look in. See if she’s there.”
Her window. Their secret rendezvous place since Hassan had learned to climb trees at six. It was a decent idea. He could only hope that her father wasn’t sitting on the bed, waiting for his now-late daughter.
They parked on the tail end of Hassan’s street, Dunberry, behind a cluster of oaks and a stop sign. All four boys climbed out, hunched low, and scurried covertly to 2260, Edy’s address, while Chloe waited behind in the car. On arrival, the Dyson brothers clustered around a sweeping, aged, and red-tipped chestnut, squinting upward as Hassan scaled it. They watched with a nervous eye for Edy’s parents, or his, next door.
Hassan made it to the thick “V” of limbs that split half toward Edy’s house, half toward his. He hoisted himself up, grabbed a gnarled branch for balance, and found a knot of familiar footing to stand on. A square of darkness stared back at him. He reached forward and yanked up Edy’s window.
“Edy!” Hassan hissed. “You in there?”
Silence.
“Ed–“
She emerged from the shadows, hair in an oversized ponytail, pajamas ultra-pink and wrinkled, the epitome of a been-sleeping girl. Only, he knew better. She stared back at him, evenly, eyes wider in the night.
“What are you doing here?” he said. “Why aren’t you answering your phone? We’ve been looking for you. We didn’t know what to think.”
“I’m here because I live here. You can go back to your party now.”
“What? I can go back–” Hassan flared. “Why didn’t you say you wanted to leave? Mason would’ve taken you. Or Matt. I would have walked you, if nothing else.”
“I don’t need anyone to take me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m tired.”
But he couldn’t excuse her. Not like that. Her anger, whenever he earned it, sat with him, needling like a shoe that didn’t quite fit.
“Cake?” he said uncertainly.
His name for her. It had always been his name for her. But she jerked as if the word itself burned.
He needed to do something. To fix whatever was happening. Only . . . he hadn’t the faintest idea what was happening.
“Edy, please. If I did something, just tell me. “
She ran fingers along the sill. They were long, slender, curving beauties that had climbed trees with him, and been laced with his a thousand times.
He had an urge to make it a thousand and one.
“Good night, Hassan,” Edy said.
She looked up at him with puffy eyes and closed the window between them.
“Night, Cake.” He whispered it to darkness.
Excerpted from Love Edy by Shewanda Pugh.
Copyright © 2014 by Shewanda Pugh. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing.

Release Day! ALL THAT GLITTERS

Today is the release day for book 2 in the Canary Club serials, ALL THAT GLITTERS!

ALL THAT GLITTERS

The Canary Club Novelettes #2

Spark Serials

1920’s NA Romance

A dame with brains, moxie, and killer curves, June West isn’t your average flapper. She’s managed to endear herself to the son of one of the most powerful gangsters in New York, earning herself a spot in the limelight that she’s always longed for. With the infamous playboy at her side, June has become accustomed to living the high life. Lavish parties, expensive clothes, sparkling jewels, nothing is beyond her reach and her dreams of making something of herself beneath the shimmering marquee lights is finally coming true. But when her carefully woven web of lies finally catches up with her, threatening the life she’s worked so hard to build, she must make an impossible choice; come clean about her past and risk losing everything, or find a way to bury her demons–once and for all.

In a city glittering with possibilities,June would do anything to keep her golden dream from turning to ashes. Even if it means turning her back on the only family she’s ever known.

Check Out The Official Canary Club Website