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Readers Day: Five Things About Morning Light

By On Apr 18 2014, 8:11 am

My debut release MORNING LIGHT was a fairly uneventful project.   Basically I put my butt in the chair and bled all over my laptop.  For a year.  Then I pitched it to an editor and almost vomited on her awesome shoes due to my uncontrolled nerves.  She contracted it three months later and I ugly cried at my day job when the email arrived.

Like I said, not very exciting.

But today we’re going to talk about five facts that might surprise you about MORNING LIGHT.  You know, in an effort to make things more interesting.

1.  By day I work in Human Resources.  While I was writing MORNING LIGHT I was also doing massive amounts of interviewing for the day job.  I secretly catalog names in my head for future use.  Last names are of special interest, because they can be more difficult to decide on.   If we meet and you introduce yourself, your name is fair game.  You’ve been warned.

2.  I’m a huge Mumford & Sons fan.  NO.  Really.  Mumford’s ‘I Will Wait’ had just released ahead of the album when I began writing MORNING LIGHT.  And then I listened to that song, and only that song, while I wrote the entirety of the book.  My husband is very thankful that I work with headphones in place.  As you read MORNING LIGHT you’ll see my nod to Mumford & Sons– and that nod carries through the entire series.

3.  Our heroine, Tennyson Sharpe, rescues a neglected yellow Lab early in the book.  This was something I knew Tenn would do before I ever wrote a word of the story.  It’s no secret, or even interesting, that I have four rotten dogs.  Our oldest heathen is a yellow Lab mix named Truman and he’s aging.  When it came time for our heroine to adopt a dog that needed love, there was no question that her Bo would be a representation of my Truman.  Because someday he’ll be gone and I wanted him to always live on.

4.  Tenn’s BFF is our hero’s little brother Chris.  Chris drives a classic 1969 Chevy Camaro, a fact that will come in to play later in the series when he gets his very own book.  Since I grew up with a deep appreciation for classic American muscle, I knew one of my heroes would also share my love of the classics.  Turns out his heroine will also share his love of a classic car, only she’ll drive a classic Mustang.  Just one more thing for them to disagree on when the time comes.

5.  I write under a pen name.  Not because my real name is not interesting (but it’s not) or because I felt a deep need for privacy (I don’t).  It had more to do with the uncertainty of how being published would affect those around me.  My husband teaches sixth grade, we live in a small town, and I wasn’t sure how my in-laws would receive the information that I write pretty steamy romances.  Picking my pen name involved a fire, an alcoholic beverage or two, and my husband and I flipping through a baby name book.  After we had a short list I emailed my inner circle and asked for their opinions.  Then I picked the name no one liked.  In the end I had to pick the name I loved, because I’m the one answering to it.  Now my closest friends call me Coco and my real name doesn’t even enter the picture anymore.

So, leave a comment telling me what pen name you’d choose and you’ll be entered to win a swag bag of goodies.  The winner will be announced at noon (EST)on Wednesday, April 23rd.  Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you or check back to see who our winner is!

You can find me on Facebook at:  www.facebook.com/CoraCade  or you can check out my website at:  www.coracade.com.

Author Spotlight: The story behind the series

By On Apr 16 2014, 9:00 am

I’m thrilled to announce that The Back-Up Plan recently released. The story is part of my Second Chances series—six books that talk about the exploits of the wine girls. These six women get together every Thursday night for a little wine-time happy hour where they unwind, gossip and help each other survive as single women!

My own group of friends inspired the premise for the books. Over the past few years, I’ve watched all of them deal with an assortment of issues—from divorce to health concerns to weaving their way through the stickiness of the modern-day dating scene. I think when we’re younger we have a tendency to think there will be a moment in our adult lives when everything falls into place and we’ll finally get our acts together. I’m turning 45 this year and I’ve begun to realize that “moment” doesn’t exist. Life is constantly throwing us curveballs and it’s our ability to adapt, to accept and to move on that keep us in the game. I’ve been quite inspired—and awed—by the true grace and courage of my friends as they’ve dealt with their problems and the Second Chances series has been my attempt to write a “happy ending” for each of them.

The stories have been a challenge to write because all six stories take place concurrently during the course of a single year. In each book, there is a prologue where the women celebrate New Year’s Eve with wine and resolutions. And then…it’s been a bit of a puzzle as I make sure they are all where they’re supposed to be as the months pass.

If you’re interested in checking the books out, they have released in the following order:

Fix You – Zoey deals with the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Full Moon – Fear of putting her broken heart on the line has single mom Josie seeking to fulfill some fantasies…with no strings attached.

Status Update – Newly-divorced Laura struggles to rediscover her own identity after spending so many years as a wife and a mother.

The Back-Up Plan – Career-minded Kristen comes to the unsettling realization that her work is not enough for her. She’s lonely.

Never Been Kissed (coming Sept. 9) – Shelly has spent her entire life trying to overcome her shyness while dealing with her weight issues. With her health at stake, she decides it’s time to reinvent herself.

Say Something (coming 2015) – Eccentric Georgie has three broken engagements and a ticking biological clock. However, before she can move forward, she needs to put the past to rest.

The Back-Up Plan

Just how legally binding is a promise made on a cocktail napkin?

Second Chances, Book 4

Kristen Grey has always been married to her work, but as her fortieth birthday looms, she begins to wonder if that’s all there is to life. When her friend Zoey suggests she come up with a goal for a second chance at happiness, the first idea to pop into Kristen’s mind falls out of her mouth—to find a husband.

One night, after a few too many shots of vodka, it falls out of her mouth again, in front of the last man she wants to hear it. Her annoying, cocky law partner, Jason Mitchell. She’s shocked when he vows to help in her quest to find a man.

After all, he has a vested interest in her success. Years ago, they foolishly made a pact that if they hadn’t found “the one” by age forty, they’d marry each other. Time is running out.

Problem is, as Jason and Kristen try to help each other find love, it becomes more and more apparent that maybe the back-up plan isn’t such a bad option after all.

Product Warnings

The heroine in this story has no objection to how her law partner likes to recess. Legal eagle? Nope. Spread eagle.

Excerpt:

“What are you wearing?”

Kristen glanced up, her brow creased. He’d clearly interrupted her when she was deep in thought. She’d been working hard preparing for a medical malpractice suit. He almost felt guilty for distracting her. Almost.

“What?”

He crossed the room to her, walking around her desk. She pushed her chair back and swiveled to face him.

“What are you wearing?”

She looked down, perplexed. “A skirt?”

He rubbed his forehead as too many sleepless nights caught up with him all at once. She was driving him crazy these days. Wearing her hair down, smiling, singing, laughing at all his dirty jokes. Lately he’d gotten in the habit of calling her every night before he went to bed just because he wanted to hear her voice one more time before he closed his eyes.

Then sleep would elude him as he saw her face and heard her chastising him for drinking too much or not eating a healthy dinner or chasing the wrong kind of women. God. All she had to do was take that tone with him and his cock was rock hard for an hour afterwards. He’d jacked off so many times in the past few weeks he was getting callouses on his palm.

He gritted his teeth, then forced himself to say, “Under the skirt?”

She narrowed her eyes in her typical grow up way and his dick twitched. Shit. Here we go again.

“Seriously? You came in here to ask me that? Go home, J. Or better yet, call Monica. For some insane reason, she’s really into you. Maybe she can take your mind off this unhealthy obsession you have with my stockings.”

“So you are wearing stockings.”

“That’s all you heard me say, isn’t it?”

He shrugged, perfectly aware he was standing over her, looking and acting like king of the Neanderthals. He didn’t care. She was poking the bear. Every freaking day.

Then he caught a whiff of flowers. “When did you start wearing perfume?”

She shook her head, apparently unbothered by his odd change of subject. “When I was fifteen. Are you feeling okay? You’ve been walking around here for weeks like a tiger with a thorn in his paw. What’s going on?”

He wished to God he knew. Because maybe if he did, he wouldn’t do what he was about to do next. Unfortunately, intelligent Jason had abandoned ship when Kristen walked into work this morning in her short skirt and stockings. The only person still in residence was the idiot.

He bent down, caging Kristen in her chair, and kissed her. Put his lips against hers and pressed close.

She struggled for only a minute. He barely registered her hands on his shoulders, shoving against him. Then her fingers stopped pushing and started gripping.

Jason released his white-knuckle clench on the arms of her chair once he realized she was kissing him back. Their lips parted at the same time, their tongues meeting halfway as he grasped her face in his palms, stroking her soft skin.

She made a quiet whimper when he knelt between her legs, but she didn’t hesitate to part her thighs, to make room for him between. Neither of them came up for air, as if breaking the union of their lips would somehow crush the magic. Instead, they dove headfirst into the kiss, allowing it to go on and on.

Kristen’s hands loosened from his shirt, moving along his shoulders, then back to his tie. She released the knot and tugged the silk from the collar. When she started to tackle the buttons of his shirt, Jason gave up whatever semblance of control had remained.

He lowered his hands to her legs, caressing her thighs before gathering enough courage to dive beneath her skirt. His fingers had only traveled a few inches before he found the clasps of her garter.

Kristen gasped, a strong burst of air that almost pushed their lips apart. They recovered quickly, however, and resumed kissing, tasting. Jason relished every soft cry, every delicate sound of pure bliss she made.

He’d kissed hundreds of women in his life, but none of them compared to this. They didn’t even come close.

Jason deepened the kiss when his fingers found the bare skin above her stockings. Kristen spread her legs wider and he moved closer, but her tugging his shirt open distracted him. When had she unfastened the buttons? She stroked his chest, toyed with the light smattering of hair there, pressed her thumbs against his small brown nipples. There wasn’t an ounce of shyness in her exploration. Nothing, but sure, assertive hands. He shouldn’t have been surprised. Kristen was a powerhouse in the courtroom, confident, strong. It was apparent those attributes carried over to the physical realm as well.

His erection thickened even more, causing an almost lightheaded effect. The edges of his vision went fuzzy. What the hell was he doing? This was Kris.

His Kris.

The Back-Up Plan is available at Samhain.

Cora Cade at Spring Fling Writers Conference

By On Apr 12 2014, 12:00 am

Cora Cade will be signing books alongside a number of other authors at the Spring Fling Writers Conference in Chicago.

Readers Day: The Road of Retribution

By On Apr 11 2014, 8:11 am

In 1994 I got asked that question I never forgot.

“What are you going to do if this book doesn’t sell?”

“Duh,” I laughed. “Write another one.”

And that is what I did. Because though WITH A VENGEANCE may have only been released to paperback last week, it started on its long, long journey two decades ago.

In one car ride that took six hours, me alone, listening to this one band over and over for inspiration, I had the entire plot for RETRIBUTION, its original title, worked out before I pulled into the driveway.

I spent three days with the most amazing rock band helping me with research for this book. “We’ve all been there, man,” one smiled. “Tell us what you need and we will help in whatever way we can.” Every single scene involving their help and participation was cut from the final book. That always made me sad.

But it’s for the book, right? “You have to kill your babies” as the saying goes in the industry.

This book was a blast to write and the first draft took me three months. Tough chicks in the early nineties were very uncommon and my first agent told me this book would “create a whole new genre for others to follow”. A producer wanted to make it into a movie of the week. A British publisher wanted to bring it to England.

But then my agent passed away—and yes I still think she had it a hell of a lot worse than me— the producer backed out, the British guy disappeared and I was released from the agency to start my climb back up the hill.

It was a big, friggin’ hill.

It took twenty-four years to finally get this book to print. That is a long time with more rejections than you can imagine.

“If you just change this, I will publish it,” an editor said. I changed it, they changed their mind.

“If you can take away this aspect, I will take you on as a client,” an agent told me. I changed it and they didn’t take me on as a client.

“It’s too character driven, needs more plot.”

“It’s too plot driven, needs more characters.”

It never stopped and the secret path that leads to publication eluded me as I switched genres and began the same dance with those new books I was writing. The imagination never stopped. It was just the journey that was hard as hell.

I saw the market change. Where in maybe 1980 to 1990, a writer with the minimum of experience could get a publisher to look at your work, as the years went by, it became harder as more and more writers flooded the market with the discovery of the desktop computer.

I still kept typing, growing from that way too young babe who almost had the movie deal and almost had instant success handed to her, to a more mature, relaxed and cool chick who had worked every step of the way and learned if it happens, it happens. If not, I had fun.

My current agent and I began our association fast and furious. I, at that time, had a publisher talking to me about joining one of their lines and the talks were getting close enough that I was not comfortable alone. I sent my agent’s agency a Fed Ex on Monday with a sample of the book. She got it on Tuesday. She called me Wednesday. We signed on Thursday. The publisher, in the long run, turned us down, but we’ve been together a decade now with me producing far more rejections than acceptances and she has stood beside me, believing in me the whole way. I think that might have been part of the reason I kept going. If she wasn’t going to give up on me, then I wasn’t going to give up on myself.

I got lucky.

Might not sound like it with everything this career and this book have been through, but I really did. I have met amazing people both in research and as writers. I am friends with editors and agents. The names I have interviewed for short non-fiction pieces are the names my mother likes to tell her friends about.

Right now, my agent is waiting for the book I just finished and I am anxious to hear what she thinks. It’s different than WITH A VENGEANCE. It heads off into a new direction that some people might not have thought of. Go me.*g*

Will this finally be the big one? A publisher has already requested it. Might be nice, or we might take the long road again. Either way we arrive at the same point. Time well spent with imaginary friends that want to have their stories told.

I did it for Jaime and Stephen. I can do it for the next crew, too.

Read on for two deleted scenes from WITH A VENGEANCE…

Read more…

Author Spotlight: What is it like to be an author?

By On Apr 9 2014, 9:00 am

Thrown Studs in Spurs Cat JohnsonWhat is it like to be an author?

It’s pretty amazing actually. I can be in the shoes of a hero in the middle of a firefight in Afghanistan one moment, and in the boots of a cowboy on the back of a bucking bull the next.

Exactly how does a small town girl from New York accomplish that? For one, there’s research. The internet is fine for finding some things, but whenever possible there’s no substitute for first hand experience. The most valuable experience has been when I can step into the real worlds of my fictional characters, even if in a limited way.

The genre doesn’t matter. I can be writing a military romance or my contemporary cowboys. The real life experiences I’ve gathered are branded into my brain and they all add details and emotion to my writing.

I’ll never forget my weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina and the hours I spent behind the chutes during the NBR Finals watching the bull rider I’d sponsored ride. Even more amazing than seeing him wear the shirt with my tag line and website embroidered on the sleeve, were the other details that have stuck with me, the nuances of that visit I’ve turned to countless times while writing.

Things like the smells of the arena–an interesting mix of the foods for sale by the vendors and the bulls penned behind the chutes. The sight of my bull rider’s hands shaking from the adrenaline after his ride. My own feelings while watching him climb into the chute and then buck off.

The nerve-jarring clash of the metal gate as it crashed just feet from me against the metal rails of the chute. Making eye contact with the bull as it stopped its search to find the outgate when it noticed the people, me being one of them, just feet away up on the chutes.

Having the cowboy next to me take a knee, swoop off his hat, and bow his head until the rider, flat out on his back on the arena dirt, finally moved and then stood, proving he was all right. Catching sight of a rider, unaware he was being watched, reaching through the rails of the pen to scratch the back of a very happy bull that acted more like a forty-pound dog than a thousand plus pound bovine. And then watching another far less well-behaved bull decide he took issue with the pair of chaps hanging on the rails, and decide to ram the freestanding metal pen until it shifted enough I started to fear for my safety.

All of that is part of me now, and part of my fictional stories, adding a layer of reality that I hope leads the readers on a journey deeper into the story until reality and fantasy blend into an indecipherable line. Will I still need to Google for facts and details? Yes. There are some places I can’t go. Some things I can’t do. Will I still need to question real life people for other facts and details? Oh, hell yes. Because sometimes you just have to ask a real person things you can’t find the answers to elsewhere. Questions such as, “Athletic supporter or no?”.

Yes, I’ve actually asked bull riders that. I needed to know for my Studs in Spurs series. FYI, the answer is no, they don’t wear jock straps. Aren’t you glad you know that? You’re welcome. ;)

Want to know more of my first hand secrets gleaned about those brave young men who willingly take on a bucking bull? Preorder a copy of Thrown and grab a few of the other Studs in Spurs series novels and immerse yourself in my world for a while.

Cat Johnson

NY Times & USA Today Best Selling Author

Studs in Spurs Series Cat Johnson

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