I’m Gambling on the Outlaw

Join me today between 4:00 – 5:00pm EST for the Facebook release party of Gambling on the Outlaw! I’ll be giving away a copy of my book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day! Fun starts at 12:00pm noon EST! Lots of authors giving away lots of cool prizes all day long! :D

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Genre: Historical romance

Length: 84k

Nevada is no easy place for a woman, especially for Beth Caldwell, a gambler’s widow with an independent streak. When she refuses to marry the local cattle baron-who wants to add her land to his empire-Beth ends up with a powerful enemy. But it’s not until she finds a handsome outlaw hiding in her barn that her trouble really begins.

Isaac Collins survived the Civil War only to find himself the scapegoat for stagecoach robbery and murder. With nothing left to lose, he gambles everything on revenge…and barely escapes with his life. He stumbles back to Beth’s place, and as she nurses him back to health something tender and heated grows between them.

But in Nevada, sometimes everything can ride on one high-stakes game of chance…and Beth’s rejected suitor will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.

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Excerpt

I squared my shoulders and entered the room, determined to behave myself properly.

He was sat up in bed with several pillows piled behind him for support, looking every bit as if he belonged there, enough so that last night came to mind and I was tempted to crawl in and snuggle up next to him. But I gave myself a mental shake. He was quickly turning me into a silly schoolgirl.

I am a strong, independent woman.

I had other women depending on me and I couldn’t let some male drifter, a wanted man no less, distract me from my responsibilities.

I placed the tray on his lap and backed away as quickly as possible, taking a seat in the rocker I’d spent so much time in the last few days.

“It seems your presence is causing quite a stir around here. My friends don’t quite know how to react to you.

“What about you?”

“What about me?”

“You said none of your lady friends knows how to react to me. What about you? Do you know how to react to me?”

The taste of his lips on mine leaped to mind unbidden, along with the feel of his hands on me, and that’s all it took for my double-crossing heart, and my equally rebellious body, to react with lusty desire. I’d assumed I’d never again be lucky enough to find a man who made me feel that way, and yet here he was, already in my bed.

Although I wanted very much to shift from the rocker to the edge of the bed and assist him with his breakfast, perhaps feeding him bits of bread with creamy butter that he’d have to lick from my fingertips, I opted for maintaining at least a modicum of decency and kept my rear end rooted to the chair. I suspected where Mr. Isaac Collins was concerned, me and my good sense were in a heap of trouble, because my body had clearly declared war against us.

“Just how would you expect me to react?”

He’d been watching me, waiting for my answer, those warm brown eyes regarding me from under a fringe of dark lashes, making my belly flutter like a flock of hummingbirds had nested inside.

“A smart woman would be on her guard. She’d be concerned and maybe even afraid, and she’d send me on my way, happy to see the back of me. And I took you for a smart woman.”

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abouttheauthor

marg

Margaret writes romance and science fiction, and lives in the vast Northern Plains where it’s quiet, mostly empty, and conducive to letting her imagination run wild. When she’s not writing you’ll find her in a college classroom teaching English, or working as a literary agent for an amazing agency…and of course enjoying time with her family.

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It’s Coming!

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Gloaming

The Gloaming

Gloaming: Evening twilight; shade or dusky light; or even as an adjective as in: gloaming-sky, gloaming-hour, etc.

If you are of Scots heritage, you may recognize this word. I first heard it at one of my husband’s family gatherings. It was part of a poem: ‘roamin’ in the gloamin’. At the time, I’d no idea what it meant, but it sounded cool.

Our wonderful Old English Dictionary has ‘gloaming’ blossoming into written usage sometime in the eleventh century, possibly even before, which means it’s quite possible the characters in Avelynn, set in 869, might have looked up and admired the gloaming-sky. Or perhaps they took a walk in the dimming of the gloaming-hour.

Here’s a wee excerpt from Book #2 in the Avelynn series (still untitled because coming up with titles is hard! :)

Alrik laughed, seemingly amused at her antics, and let her perch on his lap for most of the evening. Gil tried valiantly to engage me in conversation, but as the candles burned lower, my discord grew. Incensed by Marared’s grating laughter and the deep rumble of Alrik’s voice, I pulled Alrik aside, feigning a need for fresh air.

We walked side by side under the weak light of a waning gibbous moon. The wind was sharp, and the damp chill from the sea sent shivers down my spine.

“What is it, Hjartað?”

“Marared desires you.”

“I have known her for several years. We are good friends.”

Friends my ass. I scowled at him, the force of my displeasure obscured by the gloaming around us. “I’d just as soon you not fawn over her so much.”

He roared with laughter. “The vixen is threatened by the mouse!” He reached out and played with a lock of my hair, his fingers brushing the skin above the kirtle’s neckline.

To be continued … ;D

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

Avelynn

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Farrago

A Farrago of flowers from my garden :D

A Farrago of flowers from my garden :D

Farrago: A confused group; a medley, mixture, hotchpotch.

The OED dates common usage about 1637. Old enough for me to include in my Avelynn novels, which are a farrago of different story elements.

An author takes a farrago of plot, characterization, setting, and theme, mixes them all together, waves a magic wand, and viola, they have a novel! I am often fascinated with the ‘method’ of writing a good story. There are a lot of books on the subject, and in truth, I have just bought four more. However, in saying that, I’m terrible at figuring that ‘method’ out. I write intuitively, which is a fancy way of saying, I have no clue what I’m doing as I do it. As I write out the farrago of ideas rampaging around in my head, they weave their magical way into scenes and chapters complete with tension in the right places, pacing that ramps up to a climax, and character motivation that drives the action … all without knowing how I’m doing it. The story just comes out that way.

This is all fine and dandy in a first draft but quickly becomes a problem when it comes time to edit and I realize something somewhere is off. Without a guide or a detailed treasure map outlining the elements of story and how and where to use them, during the editing process, I’m not always able to figure out what the issue is that just isn’t working. It’s like an Easter egg hunt in a mansion. They could be anywhere!

This is where wonderful people called beta readers come in. These hardy souls are a farrago of readers from all walks of life—friends, editors, agents, friends, people you beg and cajole off the street—who critique your manuscript. You hand them your words, and they return with feedback that will help you zero in on those mistakes, those rapid misfires, those ‘what the hell was I thinking’ passages. They help turn a farrago of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs into something someone somewhere might actually enjoy reading one day.

Writing is a process, but I love what I do, and I love the people who support me every step of the way in this wild process… including you dear reader… whoever you are… reading these words… right here… right now. I do this crazy gig because of you. Thanks for being here.  :)

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

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Embrangled

Embrangle The Latest Word is: Embrangle: To entangle, confuse, perplex.

The Oxford English Dictionary has embrangle coming into common usage in the 1600s but its etymology dates back to the early 1500s with brangle, which, I’ve decided, is a cool word all on its own and may have to write a post on it, too—when we come back around to B. :D

Here’s how we use it:

They were embrangled in the nets.

I am embrangled and torn between conflicting difficulties.

I like this word. So similar to the physical act of entanglement but with the added definition of a mental struggle. This is a word that even upon first glance, the reader should be able to determine its meaning based on its use in the sentence, even if they’d never happened upon the word before in their life (which I hadn’t until I read the entry).

Characters are often embrangled within their plot lines, and as an author, I am often embrangled in the plot itself. I have a rough outline, but as I write the story, it fleshes itself out and twists and turns and takes new and unexpected forks in the road—some of which are entirely pointless and must be deleted. And far too often, half way through the story, in the murky, messy middle, all the plot holes and character motivational misfires start to rear their ugly heads. This is because I am a pantser—someone who basically flies by the seat of their pants when writing—as opposed to a plotter who meticulously plots out every scene, every arc, every development BEFORE they add a single word to the story. There is something to be said about plotting, and I’m going to try and write my next book with this approach because I am convinced, after Avelynn #2, that pantsing is NOT an efficient way to write a book!

In the murky, messy, pantser middle, I am often embrangled. Big time. The second book in the Avelynn series was very difficult to fix. I wrote 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo (a monthly writing challenge that takes place every November whereby we write 50,000 words in 30 days) most of which steered me off coarse and embrangled me in plot snares and character black holes that were almost impossible to recover from. The novel followed so many divergent threads, that I got to the point where I wasn’t sure what the premise was, or even what the main point was anymore!

With characters, to embrangle them in messy plot choices and make them clamber out of the carnage is what makes a story great. We can’t have characters riding along on sunshine and roses, we have to make the struggle, we need to throw story curves and plot bombs in their path and make them dodge or take a hit and recover. That’s what’s so fun about writing books. Creating conflict and fascinating surprises and developments that seem to come out of the blue, or that have been building for chapters and acts. To embrangle is to drive the story forward, and there’s a satisfying almost sadistic glee to the whole thing. ;D

I’ve finished the first draft of Avelynn #2 and am currently working on fixing up the wayward threads as I work my way through my round of edits. Hopefully, the embranglement from this point forward will be limited to what I’ve created for my characters and the rest of the edits flow smoothly. Cross your fingers for me. :)

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

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Dear Newbie Self

Marissa Campbell

If I had to go back to the beginning of my career and give myself one piece of advice, it would be….

I can’t narrow it down to just one thing, as there are two really important messages I would love to press upon my newbie self!

The first is the importance of hiring a good editor. My first book was co-authored and self-published, and we thought that appealing to wonderful, well-intentioned friends would be a great, cost-effective way of catching our errors. We were wrong. Of course, they found many, but our first edition went to print with an embarrassing amount of typos and grammar glitches. I cannot stress enough the importance of hiring a good editor. Even when I sought traditional publishing with my second book, I hired editors to do substantive and copy edits. It was money well spent and gave my manuscript a professional, polished feel. Without that effort, I would never have found my agent!

The second piece of advice I would give myself is to never, ever, think a first draft, or a second draft, or even a third draft is the final draft ready for submission. I get it. I’m impatient. We’ve spent months, years, or even decades working on this project, and once we finally reach ‘the end,’ we just want to shout our book baby to the mountain tops and send it out in to the world. But our pour babies can’t even roll over yet, never mind crawl or walk! I’m the first one to admit, I need immediate gratification, but where publishing is concerned, this is one area where we have to slow down, dig in, and sharpen and hone that manuscript until it is a shimmering piece of literary beauty. No rushing this part. No thinking, maybe mine is good enough. Let it sit in a drawer. Hide it under your bed. Let it stew and settle for a few weeks to a month, then pour through it again. You’ll be surprised what you find and grateful you didn’t send it out before it was ready!

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

 

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The Good Martyr Edmund

New Historical Fiction

In my debut historical fiction, AVELYNN, we learn about a terrible Viking attack on East Anglia and the vicious killing of king Edmund. Here’s an excerpt:

Aelfgar cleared his throat and spoke louder. “Our king was seized from his hall and dragged behind the pagan’s horse to the forest’s edge. He was tied to a tree, stripped, beaten, and whipped until his back was flayed open.”

Whispers of outrage quivered through the room.

“Ivar then brought forth his best archers. He told them to make their mark anywhere as long as they did not inflict a fatal wound. Our goodly king was entirely covered with arrows, like the bristles of a hedgehog, yet he still lived.”

It would appear the good Martyr Edmund hadn’t quite forgiven the Vikings for his death if #3 Sweyn Forkbeard is any indication. :)

Have a peek at the Medievalists’ list of the shortest reigns of the middle ages.

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

 

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Sharp Resin of Rebirth

I smelled the dampness of the earth (1)

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So Excited!

Avelynn by Marissa Campbell

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Embrace a New Mindset

Embrace a new mindset.

In my book LIFE: Living in Fulfillment Every Day, Grace encourages Eve to embrace the main goal, the big plan … and that is to always follow what feels good! Embrace your passions; enflame your desires; do the things you enjoy, the things that invigorate you, that make you come alive!

While we don’t speak about this directly in the book, sex could be one of the things that you might want to experience more of on this wondrous physical journey. As women, sex is a multifaceted quandary. It is psychological as well as physical. When we were young, we may have been bursting with sexual curiosity, but in expressing that part of ourselves, we would have opened ourselves to society’s censure and risked incurring the wrath of derogatory labels—think the Scarlett Letter. Or perhaps we embraced the opposite philosophy and practiced abstinence and still experienced social and peer pressure to change. As we get older, we may find ourselves in a committed relationship, and we might be so caught up in our careers or parenting that sex is relegated to the ‘to-do list.’ Stress is great at depleting desire. Or, as is too often the case, our body image and self-judgement might dampen our fervour, at any age.

A friend of mine was very self-critical about herself and her body. She was married to a wonderful man who absolutely adored her, and accepted her for who she was … but she would not accept herself. Because she erected a concrete wall of self-consciousness between them, their sex life dwindled, in fact it was teetering on life support. She desperately craved intimacy, but she resisted having sex, because she didn’t like her body and felt self-conscious in bed with her husband. He didn’t understand her torment and tried to reassure her, but she couldn’t get past her negative beliefs.

Our ego with its negative self-talk can ruin a perfectly good evening—or morning depending on your preferences. It’s hard to get ‘into the mood’ when our mood is wallowing in self-inflicted cruelty and criticism. There have been a lot of negative comments about plus-sized models lately. These women do not view themselves as ‘plus sized,’ but rather believe we need to take stock and embrace a healthier model of beauty. There will always be detractors in life, and standing in your own strength takes courage and perseverance. A Scarlett Letter can only hurt if you allow people to stick pins in you, otherwise the label just slides off.

Beauty comes from the inside. If you are a kind, loving, joyful soul, that beauty shines through and people naturally want to be around you. We all come in different shapes and sizes, like my co-author Annemarie and I say in the Life, we are all a magnificent collection of unique and colourful containers but inside we are filled with the same essence … a loving, beautiful soul. It’s often hard to appreciate that when society focuses on the container rather than the substance.

If my friend had left her ego at the door and invited her soul into the bedroom instead, I suspect she would have had a very different experience—one grounded in mutual respect, adoration, and love. I suspect, she would have rather enjoyed herself and the sensuous time spent with her husband because her head wouldn’t have been there sabotaging everything she truly wanted—a beautiful, honest, intimate connection with her partner.

Whether we doubt ourselves because of what society might think, or because of the limitations we impose on ourselves due to our negative self-criticism, it’s critical to honour what feels good to us!

While we were growing up, we tried to navigate a world that revolved around the ego. In other words, we were very concerned with what image we presented to the world around us— to the people around us. Should we be wild and adventurous, or conservative and practical? Our decisions determined how we presented ourselves on a daily basis. And we presented these images, these ‘holograms’ of ourselves to fit in, to be accepted. But at some point in our lives we want to take the bold step and turn off the hologram; embrace who we really are and what we really want, irrespective of other people’s opinions, judgments, and expectations!

This is the path to fulfillment—to truly finding a life of happiness and delight. Let go of the need to ‘fit in,’ to ‘be perfect,’ to ‘be who everyone else wants you to be,’ and simply be yourself!

Try a little experiment. The next time you are feeling a little frisky and the mind tries to interject its opinions. Kindly, but firmly tell it to butt out. Leave the ego outside the bedroom door, with all its negativity and doubts. Imagine for a moment, that you are born anew, without any expectations, or judgments.  Embrace a new mindset. Just for one night, see yourself for who you really are— a lusciously yummy, beautifully sexy, wondrous, and passionate woman. Then, see if you can embrace that idea of yourself from this moment on!

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

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