Ringing in 2015!

We’re talking New Year’s Resolutions over at the Laffeinated Ink blog today. Do you make them? Do you keep them?

I’ll be trying to move more in 2015. Getting out and walking (even when it’s cold), finding some sort of exercise that I don’t hate and doing more of it.

And write, of course. I have been good about keeping track of my word-count this year and I think I’ll be ending the year with (hold on, let’s check the spreadsheet) more than 130,000 words. I had been aiming for 190,000 words, but I spent a lot of time editing, marketing and doing other things related to the publication of my first book. So I’m cutting myself some slack on not making that goal.

As I revamp my business plan, I’ll post my writing and publishing plan for the next year. But first, I’m going to take advantage of this fresh cup of coffee and a nice quiet house and I’m going to write some more words. Maybe I’ll be able to finish the year with 132,000 words.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve! Be safe and stay warm while ringing in 2015!

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Hello, Gorgeous!

 

Look what arrived today!

CtD 4 (1)

The UPS guy said he’d never seen me so happy to get a delivery, and this is the man who brings me shoes, so he knows my happy faceCtD 2.

I’ll be putting five of these in the mail for the winners of the giveaway, as soon as my assistant there gets this box unpacked.

Chasing the Dollar is available now!

Today is the day! Chasing the Dollar is available for purchase today at all major online booksellers. And for a limited time, the ebook version is only 99 cents.

I had a great time writing this fast-paced mystery and I hope you’ll have just as much fun as I did! Here’s the blurb:

Miranda Vaughn has spent the last year and a half fighting for her freedom. Arrested for a fraud scheme involving her supervisors, she’s lost her job at a prestigious investment firm, her fiancé, and her reputation. She walks out of the courtroom a free woman, only to find that life has a few more curve balls to throw her way. The jury may have found her not guilty, but Miranda is broke, in debt to her beloved aunt, and can’t find a job because of the cloud of suspicion still swirling around her. 
ChasingtheDollar
She can’t move forward with her life until she finds out who set her up. Buried in the evidence against her, Miranda finds a larger scheme, one involving far more money than the $37 million her boss fleeced from unsuspecting investors. Determined to uncover the truth, Miranda begins her own investigation—leading her to Macau and Belize, and into the arms of one sexy FBI agent, who has his own agenda. When the danger heats up, Miranda finds herself in a race against time to find the person behind it all. Before he finds her…

I’m thrilled to be able to share Chapter One of Chasing the Dollar with you today. Enjoy! And then, visit Amazon, iBook, Nook, Smashwords, or Kobo and get the whole thing for less than a buck! Totally worth it!

Chasing the Dollar

Chapter One

 

“Not guilty.”

The two words sliced through the thick atmosphere in the courtroom, and my heart leapt. The boa constrictor of stress that had been wound around my body for the last year and a half eased a tiny bit. Next to me, my attorney, Robert Fogg, tensed. We weren’t remotely done, his body language warned.

“As to Count Two, wire fraud, the jury finds the defendant—”

A pause. Why was the clerk pausing?

“Not guilty.”

The breath escaped my lungs, but Rob put a cautious hand on my arm warning me not to get too excited yet. He’d spent much of the last fourteen months explaining the odds, explaining the process that I’d face if I insisted on going to trial, comparing the risk I’d face with the known quantity of the plea offer—a mere four years in prison if I agreed to a plea deal and admitted to defrauding clients of the investment bank where I’d been an analyst, compared to ten years or more I risked if I was convicted at trial. And I’d almost certainly be convicted, Rob had assured me. Even if the witnesses against me were convicted felons, liars, conmen who would say anything to get a break on their own prison sentences. The documents were undeniable, incontrovertible evidence of my guilt.

“As to Count Three, wire fraud, the jury finds the defendant—”

Damn her, why the dramatic pause?

“Not guilty,” she finished.

This time I glanced over at the jury and made eye contact with several of them, my heart still in my throat. Instead of the impassive expressions they’d worn in the last two weeks, they looked relaxed. Friendlier. Less scary. And they were looking at me. That was one of the signs Rob told me might signal a favorable verdict. If the jury walked in and wouldn’t look at me, they probably had convicted me. When they had filed in with their completed verdict forms, I was too nervous to look in their direction.

“As to Count Four, wire fraud, the jury finds the defendant not guilty.”

No waiting this time. The clerk flipped the page to the next form and continued reading, her pace picking up. She must have realized that if she kept pausing before the big reveal on each charge, we’d be here until dark.

“As to Count Five, wire fraud, the jury finds the defendant not guilty.”

I couldn’t relax yet, not quite yet. There were still ten more opportunities to hear I was going to prison.

Fifteen fraud charges. Fifteen chances to hear the clerk announce that the jury had believed my former boss, his former boss, and the government’s accountants and investigators who had testified that I, Miranda Vaughn, participated in a conspiracy to defraud banks and investors. That I, with my business degree from a state school still freshly inked, managed to find a way to outwit regulators for the entire six years I worked at Patterson Tinker Investment Strategies to reap huge profits at the expense of the most established investment advisors in the industry.

Rob’s hand gripped my arm, and I realized that the clerk was done reading the verdicts. The room was blurry, and I felt the wet tears running down my cheeks for the first time. The stress of holding those tears back in the last year had caused me to lose sleep, lose hair, and develop a nasty habit of grinding my teeth when I finally managed to close my eyes at night. But I knew that if I had let loose those emotions, I’d never be able to rein them back in and would have ended up in a stark white room with no interior door knobs where I’d spend my days rocking back and forth and waiting for my next round of pills.

“We did it, Miranda,” Rob whispered, putting an arm around me in an awkward hug.

I looked up to see the judge watching me. Instead of the stern glare I had grown accustomed to, he was almost smiling at me. I blinked. It must have been the tears in the way. But when I wiped my eyes, there it was—Judge Smith’s softening expression, looking like someone’s granddad instead of the dour arbiter of my fate.

The judge addressed the jury, thanked them for their service, directed them to the jury commissioner’s office to turn in their parking passes, and then looked back at me.

“The bond is exonerated. You’re free to go, Ms. Vaughn. Court is recessed.”

He stood, and everyone in the room followed suit. The jurors filed back into their room off the side of the courtroom to collect their belongings. Several of them smiled at me, and I smiled back but could feel my lips start to tremble. I swallowed hard and tried to pull myself together. Rob began gathering the legal pads that littered the defense counsel table.

I stood next to the table, still stunned and unsure what I was supposed to do now. Part of me expected to be found guilty, even knowing that I hadn’t done what the prosecutor accused me of. I had prepared myself for that. Studied the post-conviction proceedings, the deadline for filing a notice of appeal, researched sentencing procedures and even federal prisons. I hadn’t planned what would happen if I were acquitted of all the charges, and I was at a loss as to what to do now.

Turning to the nearly empty courtroom, I saw my lone supporter. The entirety of my cheering section was blowing her nose noisily into a hankie. She came toward me, pulling me into a warm hug over the low railing that separated the gallery from the attorneys and defendants.

“Aunt Marie, when did you get here?”

She gripped me harder. “Somewhere around count seven,” she said. “Rob sent me a text when the jury came back. I hot-footed it right down here.”

I relaxed into her embrace. The familiar scent of Chanel and baked goods that always permeated her clothing soothed me and took me back to the safety of my childhood. She had come straight from work because she was still wearing her apron with the Sugar Plum Bakery logo.

“Miranda, I’ll take care of the bond paperwork,” Rob said, interrupting our family reunion.

I pulled away from Aunt Marie and nodded. Rob’s face was flushed, and he looked two decades younger than his sixty-three years. He seemed incapable of suppressing the huge grin on his face. Suddenly I felt awkward, unsure how to tell him how grateful I was.

“I don’t know what to say,” I said. “Thank you, Rob. Thank you so much.”

The words were inadequate. During the fourteen months since my arrest, I always felt that he believed I was guilty of something, but despite that, he had done an admirable job defending me. He gave me a crooked smile.

“You’re welcome,” he said. “We’ll talk soon. I’m going to see if I can catch a few of the jurors and talk to them. Come by the office later. We’ll celebrate.”

He leaned across the railing to shake Marie’s hand and was pulled into a tight embrace. When she finally released him, he gave her a kiss on the cheek and smiled as he gently wiped a tear from her face. Then he turned back to the counsel table and continued clearing it of folders and notepads and his laptop computer, sliding the whole mess into the large black case that he’d been wheeling into court every day of the trial. He zipped the case, gave me another quick hug, and walked over to the other counsel table.

I turned to see how the prosecutors were handling the news. My tormentors—an older, brittle veteran prosecuting attorney named Donna Grayson and Matthew Reese, her younger co-counsel, a clean-cut young man who looked like he was my age. Neither of them would look at me, and their expressions were grim as they shook Rob’s hand. Finally, Matthew Reese made eye contact with me and gave me a nod.

“Good luck to you, Ms. Vaughn,” he said.

I almost believed his words were sincere, but then I remembered three days earlier when he called me a thief in his closing argument. I returned the nod without a word, not trusting myself to hold back if I spoke to him—something I’d been forbidden to do for well over a year.

I slipped through the low swinging gate and took Aunt Marie’s arm, leading her out of the dark courtroom into the bright, wide and empty hallway. When I had been arraigned on the fraud charges in this courthouse, the hallway had been packed with reporters clamoring for a comment. But since then, they had lost interest. The prosecutor’s office wouldn’t be putting out a press release on the loss, and I wondered if anyone would even care that I had won. That the woman the government had called “a slick con artist and one of the masterminds of the greatest financial fraud ever seen in this state” was walking out of court and not heading to prison.

I was free to go. No longer facing a decade in prison. Not under a cloud of allegations that had cost me my career, my good name, and my peace of mind. That had driven off friends. Led to the break-up of a five-year relationship. Cost me every last dime of savings and most of Aunt Marie’s retirement as well.

I walked up to the wall of windows and looked down on the city, the busy intersection by the federal courthouse, the people jaywalking to get to the Starbucks across the street. A normal day, with everyone bustling about in the bright afternoon sunlight, enjoying a typical California summer day.

I was free to go.

Free.

To go where?

* * *

Buy the book at the introductory price of 99 cents!

Amazon     Nook     Kobo     iBook     Smashwords

My book is available for pre-order!

You guys! Chasing the Dollar is available for pre-order for the introductory sales price of 99 cents at Barnes & NobleiBookKobo, and Smashwords! Get yours now and on September 22, it will appear on your ereader like magic, or Christmas morning, or like someone who cares for you surprised you with a good book to read.

Sign up for my newsletter and read Chapter 1 before the book is released!

Macau 3 quote

Ever closer to being a published author

Near San Simeon July2014
California coast near San Simeon, June 2014.

Well, hello! I have been working and not stopping in here to say hi. But that involuntary hiatus is over now. Here, have a pretty black and white photo of the beach. Better now?

I just finished reviewing the edits on Chasing the Dollar and it wasn’t painful at all! I had been sort of dreading getting the comments back. My imagination is active and creative and I was pretty sure I’d get a manuscript back with all sorts of problems flagged. That did not happen. The editor had great comments and suggestions to make the book better, but they were easy fixes and I agreed with most everything. And then I caught a couple writing tics that I have and excised those crutch words that I rely on way too much.

So, I’m another step closer to being a published author.

*takes deep breath*

*then another*

*flails madly anyway*

Now I can focus on my new WIP, a holiday novella featuring Miranda Vaughn again. After re-reading Chasing the Dollar twice in the last few days (or three times, but who’s counting?) I am back in her head and her POV is coming naturally. I have a couple weeks away from the day job, so I hope to get this finished by mid-August.

Then I get to get back to the full-length sequel to Chasing, which is outlined and just sitting there, tempting me. There’s also a pile of books, uh, in my Kindle, that’s also tempting me. At the top of that metaphorical pile is Broken Elements by Mia Marshall, which I started last month before the day job consumed my life. Guys! This is so good!

Go find a good book of your own and enjoy your weekend. That’s what I’m going to do.

Chasing the Dollar has a cover!

I’m so thrilled to share the cover for Chasing the Dollar!

ChasingtheDollarChasing the Dollar is the first book in the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries series and will be released this fall by Gemma Halliday Publishing. Isn’t it pretty?

Miranda Vaughn has spent the last year and a half in hell. Arrested for a fraud scheme involving her supervisors, she lost her job at a prestigious investment firm, her fiancé, and her reputation. She walks out of the courtroom a free woman, only to find that life has a few more curve balls to throw her way. The jury may have found her not guilty, but Miranda is broke, in debt to her beloved aunt, and can’t find a job because of the scandal.

She can’t move forward until she finds out who set her up. Buried in the evidence against her, Miranda finds a larger scheme. A scheme involving far more money than the $37 million that her boss fleeced from unsuspecting investors. Determined to uncover the truth, Miranda begins her own investigation—leading her to Macau and Belize, and into the arms of a sexy FBI agent.

Jake Barnes may hold the key to finding the missing money that will restore Miranda’s reputation and let her rebuild her life. But can she trust the dark-eyed agent who has his own agenda in finding the missing funds?

If you’d like to get more updates on Chasing the Dollar, such as a release date, excerpts, and other fun stuff, you can sign up for my newsletter here. I promise not to spam you.

Huge News!

Resolutions – October UpdateIt’s my great pleasure to share my huge news with everyone. My novel, tentatively titled Trust Me, I’m a Lawyer, has been acquired by Gemma Halliday Publishing! I can’t decide what’s more exciting to me — the fact that I sold this novel, or that Gemma called my book “an awesome romantic comedy mystery” that reminded her of “a fun, modern twist on Moonlight.” *sighs* *swoons* She gets me.

I’m thrilled to be working with Gemma! I’m a huge fan of her books, and of the other authors she’s working with in her new venture. Details, such as a publication date, are yet to be finalized. The title will likely change, but I know my story is in such great hands.

Here’s a peek at what to expect:

Beacon news reporter Lindsey Fox is on the verge of breaking a huge story of political corruption that will make her career and make her famous journalist parents proud – or she could be thrown in jail and fired. It really could go either way. Her recent streak of bad luck continues when Lindsey finds herself facing a bogus contempt charge — and attorney Ben Gillespie is appointed to get her out of the slammer.

They once had a bad date of epic proportions – stilted conversation, food poisoning, burglary, towed car. Then there was the incident with the pepper spray. Lindsey never believed she’d see the sexy lawyer again.

Ben can totally believe that Lindsey is behind bars. The woman is trouble. Now he has to get his new client out of jail, keep her out of the grasp of a crazed bike messenger and a shady P.I., help her save her job, and convince her to put down the pepper spray and give him another chance.

And now I’m off to celebrate with a wine tasting!

2013 Resolution Update — How did I do?

Before I dive into drafting my 2014 Resolutions, I wanted to take a look back at 2013 and see how I did on my last year’s resolutions — or how soon I abandoned them.

To be fair to myself, I actually did quite well on my goals.

1.  Keep a monthly word-count calendar.
Done! This was not a difficult task because I love creating spreadsheets and tracking incremental progress toward a goal. Especially if there are charts involved. Man, I love charts. This year, I think I’m going to use a different type of spreadsheet. This makes my inner accountant ridiculously excited. I had a goal of writing 180,000 words in 2014 and I came fairly close to that with 156,000 words. I’ll do a separate entry dissecting what I wrote last year and what I learned from that.

2.  Finish and edit Trust Me, I’m a Lawyer
Done! It started as a novella. It ended about 120,000 words later. The the painful editing began. Seriously, this book convinced me to learn more about plotting, outlining, writing the ending first — all sorts of tactics that might have helped me rein in my out-of-control story.

3.  Finish draft of PDT
OK, this didn’t happen. I do have a full outline for it, and I’ve written about 10 chapters. I will get back to this standalone romantic suspense novel. But probably not right away. I do love the characters and the premise. Maybe I’ll add this to the 2014 to-do list.

4.  Finish You, Again
Again, this didn’t happen. Once I realized that I need to rewrite the first three chapters, I lost some steam on this. But I do know where I’m going and have a good idea how to get there. It may just take a heavy revision of the 76,000 words written.

5.  Submit something.
Done! And then, done again! I submitted a chapter to a contest, got great feedback and was invited to submit a partial manuscript. And then the rest of the manuscript. That went out on December 1, so this item can be crossed off my resolutions list.

6.  Professional development
Still not networking with other authors, except online. I still haven’t joined RWA or attended a conference. I do have an awesome critique partner and nobody listens to more writing podcasts. (Nobody! I have a long commute.) But I would like to do more in real life, not just online. This will go on the 2014 list.

7.  Write something in first-person POV
Done! Sort of! My new project is in first-person POV and I’m loving it. It’s been really fun and so far, I have received some nice comments about my voice in this WIP. It’s a little more than half-finished.

8.  Outlines for next WIPs
I have many more outlines filed away now — including a couple standalone novels, two in the Trust Me series, and one and a half in a new series of novellas. I did the outline for my first-person WIP in a spreadsheet, so you know I loved that. I had intended to write the outlines for books two and three that follow Trust Me. I have a fairly sketchy one for Jude, but I still have no idea why there’s a dead body in the first chapter of Fiona’s book. But I do have books 4 and 5 outlined.

So overall, I’m pretty happy with how well I stuck with my 2013 goals. I think doing a monthly recap helps me keep on track, so I’ll keep doing that in 2014. Next up, what do I want to do in 2014? It’s time to make that commitment.

Merry, bright, and very cold

Xmas tree hunt 2013 3

Somehow in all the pre-holiday cleaning, I misplaced the cord for my camera. I know it’s here somewhere. Probably some place “safe.” So even though the weather is now sunny and brisk, here’s some photos from earlier in December.

I’m also working on my end-of -year summaries of writing and reading, plus my 2014 goals. But since there’s still two more days in which to read and write, I’ll wait until after the first of the year to finish those posts.

Hope everyone’s holidays are merry and bright!

Xmas tree hunt 2013 55