Signing Books with Nora Roberts and Sherrilyn Kenyon
When I first sold Awaken the Highland Warrior, I imagined all the great things about being an author. Seeing my name on the cover of a book, seeing my name on top of the pages on the left side (I don’t know what it is about that, but I just love it), giving readers the joy and thrills that I’ve gotten from books over the years. B…U…T!!!! There were the dreads as well, and ranking right up there at the top…booksignings. If you know an author—and she isn’t a Nora Roberts or a Janet Evanovich—chances are you’ve heard a horror story about booksignings. The poor author huddling behind a table in a big bookstore as people walk through the door, passing her table with its stack of books begging to be signed. I got lucky. My experience was anything but.
First, let me start with the day before. My dear friend and critique partner, Dana Rodgers and I headed to Boonsboro, Maryland. It was a wonderful drive, beautiful, rolling hills dotted with cows amid stands of trees. Turn the Page is a quaint bookstore owned by Bruce Wilder, Nora Roberts’ husband. Across the street is Inn Boonsboro, Nora's gorgeous Inn, with each room named after the characters from a great story. It was incredible. The rooms, the décor…the toilets. They did everything from open by themselves to drying your nether regions, after washing them of course, and I’m not kidding. The Inn was gorgeous.
Inside our room, the Jane and Rochester, there was a copy of Awaken the Highland Warrior waiting, with a letter asking if I could please take a moment to sign it for the Inn's library. "Oh, I think so, Nora." And there was a bag of heatherscented bath goodies for me. We roamed the inn, checking out the library and dining room before heading outside. I've never seen a place like Boonsboro. It was a cute, small town. I've seen cute, small towns before, but no matter what store we entered, they treated us with amazing hospitality. That evening, we met some wonderful readers who were staying at the Inn and spent time laughing and talking with them.
Not only was I surprised, and pleased, but I heard Nora Roberts was as well, because debut authors don’t sell out at these events. The bookstore manager scrambled to see if she could locate more copies elsewhere in the store, but couldn’t. All in all, it was a fairytale booksigning, not the stuff nightmares are made of. And just in time for the release of Awaken the Highland Warrior. What an awesome day.
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First, check out the awesome excerpt, and then check below to see how you can win!
Bree’s fingers tightened around the metal disk as she ran through the graveyard, zigzagging past leaning headstones. Her lantern swayed, throwing shadows on the crypt looming before her, its stone walls the color of bones. Thick vines crept over it, sealing in cracks left by time, while gnarled branches from the twisted oak hovered like outstretched arms. Protecting… or threatening?
An owl screeched overhead as she scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn’t fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt, waiting. Blood rushed past her ears, a sound like all the angels’ wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or
perhaps Solomon’s Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she’d first discovered it.
She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing shifted in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence, scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the clawlike branches of the old tree.
She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she’d pushed onto the alcove and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest, not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves; the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted.
A voice rushed through her head. What lies within cannot be, until time has passed with the key.
Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation, not ghosts.
She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counterclockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed… blue, orange, and green, swirling for seconds, and then they were gone. Great, hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.
Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She’d settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted. One. Two. Three.
She heaved open the chest. Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.
The man inhaled one harsh breath and his eyes flew open, locking on Bree. A battle cry worthy of Braveheart echoed off the walls. Bree jumped back as metal flashed and a rush of air kissed her face. Petrified, she watched him crawl out of the burial vault, a wickedlooking dagger in his hand. Her scream tore loose as she turned and fled.
Fingers grazed her shoulder, and she glanced back. The last thing she saw before her feet tangled with the shovel was the dead man reaching for her.
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