Tuesday, April 17, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

This is another in my 25 Ways You're Losing Readers (and what you can do about it) series.

 Do you know how many books there are for sale right now on Amazon?
Well, since one of my books is ranked 1,439,629 right now, at least a million and a half. With ebooks never going out of print, that number will only go up.

Readers have a heckuva lot of choices TOO MANY choices. You used to have a chapter to capture their interest. Then a few pages.

Now, you'd better snag them from word ONE. Because it's too easy for them to go on to the next book.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits. Click here to see all 25 Ways You're Losing Readers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

Guest Post: Terri Meeker on Billy the Kid and Forks in the Road--originally posted February 5, 2015.

Terri Meeker is a fellow Samhain Publishing author who's awesomely entertaining and so much fun to read. I'm delighted she could join us today amid her packed schedule. Enjoy!

 When you come to a fork in the road, choose the path that will make a better story.

These are words that my daughter’s ex boyfriend lives by. Yeah, I know. Ex. But he’s a great guy and has some pretty amazing adventures. Lately, I’ve been pushing myself a bit with his motto. People express regrets on their deathbeds, but you never hear “I wish I’d have stayed home more. Played things a little safer.”

A few months ago I took a solo drive to Wyoming to see my Dad. While planning my trip home, I got a horrible/wonderful idea. Since I was in the middle of writing a book about Billy the Kid, and his old stomping ground was a mere few states away… a little detour was awfully tempting. And between a direct route of 1,200 miles or a side-trip to New Mexico – it wasn’t hard to see which would make the better story.

I phoned darling hubby. “What would you think if I came home via New Mexico? It’s kind of on the way.”

“Define kind of,” he replied. “Because my map of earth says otherwise.”

“Well, it would add more than four hundred miles on the trip,” I admitted. “But still. Billy the Kid!”

He’s known me for a while and he knows I am a woman of obsessions. Since beginning my Billy book, I’ve devoured more than a dozen books on the Kid. Hubby has sat through countless documentaries. But a trip to his actual haunts would be magical critical to my research! (Spoiler alert: my approach to Billy is somewhere between serious scholar and your average 12-year-old girl’s position on One Direction.)

At six pm, I said goodbye to Dad and started driving. I drove all night. The next day around noon (and 943 miles later) I pulled into Fort Sumner, New Mexico. A dusty little town with one going concern when it comes to dining establishments. But it featured no less than two Billy the Kid museums. I spent the day taking photos of saddles and cooking equipment and getting into passionate discussions about Billy with a lot of old guys wearing seriously enormous belt buckles.

At dusk I made my way to a lonesome cemetery, where Billy and his two best ‘pals’ are buried. They even share a tombstone. I’d bought a fifth of Jack Daniel’s in town at the Liquor Store/Minimart. As the sky turned from orange to purple in the setting sun, I sat down by Billy’s grave and splashed out the first shot on his grave. It was, admittedly, very dorky but - I ain’t gonna lie - it was also kind of awesome.

The next day I went a hundred miles further south, further away from home. To Lincoln – the site of Billy’s most famous jailbreak and the setting for the first third of my book. Was it awesome? Well, is the thought of me drinking whiskey by myself in a cemetery creepy? (That was rhetorical. The answer to both is yes, of course.) It was one of the most charming experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

I’m not entirely insane, however. Though I got into many wonderful conversations with many Billy experts throughout the day, and took scads of notes, I was hesitant to come right out and tell these strangers what kind of book I was writing. Or even that I was a writer. These were serious Billy scholars, who’d dedicated years reading old newspaper accounts and letters.

By nightfall, I settled into the Wortley Hotel. It boasts a mighty eight rooms, but I was the only one staying there. At a population of 52, Lincoln is a pretty quiet little town. But the Wortley sits right across the street from the jail and figured prominently in his escape (and my book).

Donna, the hotel’s minder, was thrilled to hear I was writing a book and plied me with questions, snacks and wine. So we sat on the porch as the sun fell. I watched Billy’s jailhouse window from across the street (word to the Billy fangirls, upper left corner) and we finished off the bottle. Then we finished off another. By the third bottle, I was telling Donna all about my story.

“It’s a time-travel. I’m sending a professor from 2015 back in time and she will mess with Billy’s jailbreak. And then he’s going to experience things from our time and see what’s become of his image. I’m especially excited for him to see a clip from the movie ‘Young Guns’ because his reaction is going to be some next level shit.”

Wine will do that to you. Make you choose the path that might make a more interesting story. In this case, when the hotel’s owner and acting ‘mayor’ of the little town showed up, she insisted I tell him all about my wacky time-travel romance featuring their town’s legend. And I did.

He laughed his ass off and was fully on board.

He said not everyone in town likes people messing with the legend. That some took their Billy quite seriously. But he insisted most folks would like it and Billy hadn’t gotten the time travel treatment that he knew of. He even confessed that he too had gone to Billy’s grave years ago and shared a beer with him at sunset. (Okay, he was a teenager at the time and there was simply no excuse for me … but… moving on!)

I’ll be damned. When you that interesting path sometimes it yields pretty amazing stories. In this case, a real, actual story! I’m on my second draft now and my ‘little’ detour to New Mexico has made all the difference in understanding the tale.

And as pure bonus, I met some pretty amazing people along the way.

Read Terri's debut time-travel, Not Quite Darcy.  

How to Woo a Gentleman and Weaponize Dessert
Romance novel junkie Eliza Pepper always thought she was born too late, but now she really is stuck in the wrong time. Tasked with mending a tear in the timeline, she's trying desperately to fit into 1873 London. But dang it, mucking out a fireplace while looking like the lunch lady from hell is hard.

If she can just keep from setting the floor on fire and somehow resist her growing attraction to the master of the house, she'll be fine. All she has to do is repeat her mantra:  "He's nothing like Darcy. He's nothing like Darcy."

William Brown has always taken pride in his mastery of English decorum, but his new maid is a complete disaster, has thrown his household into chaos...and he finds her utterly captivating.

Though he's willing to endure extreme physical discomfort to keep their relationship in proper perspective, her arrival has brought out a side of him he never knew existed. And Eliza has an innocently erotic knack for coaxing that decidedly ungentlemanly facet of himself out to play...


Terri Meeker is supposed to write her author blurb in the third person. It’s just how things are done. She shouldn’t question it, but then she’s always been difficult. Even in high school, her best friend’s mother described her as ‘eccentric’ before urging her daughter to make friends with a nice, normal girl.

She was born in Wyoming but has made her home on Fidalgo Island in Washington state. She’s loved history since childhood and has been fortunate to live in lots of places with fascinating pasts, including: Washington DC, Philadelphia, Virginia Beach, Albuquerque, Missouri and Mons, Belgium. She’s an ex-history teacher, a mom a Whedonite, a gamer and a ginormous nerd. She also loves to write.

Terri is really getting into this third person thing and thinks it will give her a lot of gravitas during future dinner conversations. She thinks you should probably start doing it as well.

Her website is at terrimeeker.com. Check it out and you’ll be able to find her on twitter, fb and all that social stuff. She’d love to hear from you. Trust me.

Website: http://terrimeeker.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/terri.meeker.1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActualTerri
Blog: http://terrimeeker.com/preface-blog/

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

1T Status Update

When our older boy decided he wanted to join the Marines, I was both proud and scared. He thought he'd learn some valuable things as a Marine. I agreed, though I thought his lessons might be different than what he expected.

What I didn't expect was that I'd learn a lesson from the Marines. Well, I learned several, including getting a lot better understanding of PTSD. But the lesson that applies right now is this:

Semper Gumby.

It's a takeoff on the Marine motto "Semper fidelis" which means always loyal/faithful. In this case it's per the clay animation character Gumby, an eraser-boy more bendable than paperclips. Semper Gumby means always be flexible. Because when he was enlisted, the fight, the assignment, heck, his basic schedule was always, always, always subject to change.

So. Remember Night's Kiss, which was essentially done? Yeah, that's getting a bit of a shakeup. I'll let you know when I do what's happening, lol. Until then, semper gumby.

Other things:
  • Orchestra rehearsals start this month. 
  • Taxes are done :)
  • Possible computer programming consulting job this month.
  • Contest entries 1/2 way judged. I hope to finish those today and tomorrow.
  • Read-through of Pull of the Moon still on the board, though that may be pushed into May.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

This is another in my 25 Ways You're Losing Readers (and what you can do about it) series.

When is a stereotype character good?

You might be tempted to respond, "Never." I beg to differ. (What a strange phrase that is. "Oh, please, puh-retty puh-lease let me get into any argument with you." ?? English. amirite?)

Last month we discussed "Glove" characters, or a character the reader feels more in touch with than your Point of View (POV) character. Kill off this "window" character at your own peril!

I'm arguing that, in this one case, a stereotype is good. It will help you keep your reader from identifying with the character you want to make the disgusting bad guy or kill off.

I happen to be an older female. I like the CW shows but am most attracted to the ones that have excellent older characters (The Flash, for example.) So I'll use Older Woman as my example here. If you know you absolutely have to make a disgusting bad guy out of your only Older Woman--stop. Create a second Older Woman. Make her the blandest, most stereotyped Older Woman you can. Leave your kinda quirky, energetic Older Woman as is. Now, when you make the bad guy--make it the stereotyped Older Woman. Ninety-nine percent of your readers who glove the Older Woman will glove the quirky one, not the bland one.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.  Click here to see all 25 Ways You're Losing Readers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

8 Shocking Secrets Healthy People Know--Favorite Things #2--originally posted February 4, 2015

Let's get to know each other! In my first year as a Magical Musings blogger, I'm exploring my 10 favorite things. This is number two.

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. ~Woody Allen
They say laughter is the best medicine. What I want to know is, where did Dr. They get her medical degree and what studies has Dr. They done?

"Laughing. Easier than Yoga,"
says Squirrel.
photo credit: 
photopin cc
Well, exactly. "They" say a lot of things. But in this case, there's stuff on the Internet to back them up, much more scientific (marginally). So here they are, the eight shocking secrets.
  1. "Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress" according to Helpguide.org.
  2. It also "boosts the immune system." Ibid (which means I sucked the quote from the same post).
  3. It also "protects the heart" by "increasing blood flow". Ibid (Yep. Another one from the Helpguide.org post).
  4. Importantly, for those of us who suffer from depression, it "dissolves distressing emotion" Ibid. Ibid. (Hey! Repeated, it sounds like a frog.)
  5. For diabetics, it "reduces blood sugar levels" according to PsychologyToday.com. I did not know that and am shocked. Shocked, I tell you. I don't know if my heart can take the stress. Oh wait--I can laugh it healthy.
  6. According to  Michael Miller, M.D. in the same article, "it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium." Right! Um...what's an endothelium? (Runs to Wikipedia...blood and lymph vessel lining, huh.) "And reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease." Oh! Now I see.
  7. In another article at UMM.edu, Dr. Miller's findings were elaborated: "people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease." (Does this count as separate item? Yes? No? Imma count it.)
  8. Frankly, when I laugh I feel better. Okay, that's mostly anecdotal, but here's a quote anyway. "When I start the day by checking out my favorite cartoons, I start the day with a smile." From this post by the author M. Hughes.

Cat asks, "This is humor?" photo credit: Ms D. Meanor via photopin cc
In conclusion, I leave you with this medieval quote, "I say unto you, go out and find merriment, as it doeth you much goodeth." Or, from the contemporary translation, "Laugh. It's good for you."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

1T Status Update

As the last (or one of the last) huzzah of winter strikes, giving me the twofer of joy and exercise while shoveling (I'm being sarcastic about the joy), I am really, really, really looking forward to spring.

This month:
  • Husband spotted a red-wing blackbird today! Even though white scheiss lay all about, that's a sure sign spring is around the corner. (Thank goodness. See above.)
  • Finished the second read-through of Night's Kiss. Kat, vampire hunter with a death wish for all vampires. Enkidu, vampire. Put on same page. Watch chaos ensue. Fun!
  • Both Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady and Playing With Fire: The Battle of the Bands were launched to much excitement. Thank you to my readers for helping me get the word out! 
  • Chapter One for Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady is here.
  • Chapter One for Playing with Fire is here.
  • I have another three planned read-throughs of Night's Kiss.
  • Next up after Night's Kiss is Soul Mates
  • As part of my prep for writing the final Pull of the Moon book, I'm doing a read-through and tweak of the series thus far.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

This is another in my 25 Ways You're Losing Readers (and what you can do about it) series.

We're taught the reader sees the story through the Point of View (POV) character. While that is certainly true, I'd like to point out the big Elephant in the Room.

Readers have "glove" characters--and it may not be the one you want them to have.

In Sherlock Holmes stories, the POV character is mostly Dr. Watson. In the television show Sherlock, Holmes and Watson are the feature characters. But you know what? As a woman, those two are fun to watch, but I don't see myself as them. I first saw myself as Molly Hooper. Then I saw myself as Mary Watson.

The reader may have more in common with one of your secondary characters. The "fit" of that character may make for instant connection.

What happens when you kill off the glove character?

Well, I know for me, I've actually stopped watching shows because my glove character was terminated. What do you think happens?

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.Click here to see all 25 Ways You're Losing Readers.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Release Day! Rockstar romance on FIRE

I don't do rockstars. I play, too. I know how shallow the glamour is. But Connor seems...deeper. Different.

A friend asked me to write a rock star romance. I reached into how music makes me feel, both performing and listening, and Connor and Shivawn's exploded from me. Early readers raved over the music and passion in this book.

I want to share that electrifying excitement and emotional fulfillment with readers everywhere.

USA Today Bestselling author Mary Hughes brings you an electric story of music, passion, and rivalry.

Clumsy but smokin' fiddle-player Shivawn Kelly meets hot bass guitarist Connor Chase and lightning attraction strikes. 

But their bands are enemies in the Starstruck Battle of the Bands. Only one can win.

And then Connor overhears a rival band plotting—and he's afraid their target is Shivawn.

Céilí band versus rock-and-roll. It's the Battle of the Bands, but the real battle is in their hearts.

Welcome to STARSTRUCK, a showplace for talent, a playground for love. A collection of contemporary novellas that will leave you breathless and craving more.

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU |

Read Chapter One here.

The first three Starstruck Novellas are helping me celebrate with a SALE!!
Jaded 99 cents https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W4B324O
Wrecked 2.99 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VAZCDSQ
Obsessed 99 cents https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UW0GKPM

And look for Crushed and Desired coming March 1 and March 8!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Chapter One from Playing With Fire: The Battle of the Bands (A Starstruck Novella)

It's the Battle of the Bands, but the real battle is in their hearts.

USA Today Bestselling author Mary Hughes brings you an intimate glimpse into musicians' lives in an electric story of music, passion, family, and rivalry, with flashes of her signature humor.

Clumsy but smokin' fiddle-player Shivawn Kelly meets hot bass guitarist Connor Chase and lightning attraction strikes. But their bands are adversaries in the first Starstruck Battle of the bands. Only one can win.

Shivawn fervently hopes it's her family's céilí band, but Connor's rock group might just be better. His music stirs her soul even as his lithe body stirs her interest. But her da forbids her to even go near "that eejit boy".

Connor needs the win for his band to trust him again, but Shivawn and her music light his heart with joy. Yet when he tries to connect with her, she rebuffs him. He respects her need for distance, though it's tearing him up inside.

And then he overhears a rival band plotting—and he's afraid their target is Shivawn. He may have to defy her wishes, her father, and his even own band to keep her safe.

Amazon | BN | iTunes | Kobo | Google | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Crushed by Elle J Rossi is coming March 1 and Desired by Kathy Love is releasing March 8.

Welcome to STARSTRUCK, a showplace for talent, a playground for love. A collection of contemporary novellas that will leave you breathless and craving more.

Enjoy this first chapter from Playing With Fire:

© 2017 Mary Hughes

Line dancing was harder than it looked. Shivawn Kelly had heard musicians were supposed to be more coordinated than most. Not her. Apparently, while the Fiddle Fairy had been fussing over her, the Klutz Fairy had taken a free shot.

“Why are we dancing, again?” she asked as she stumbled into Cousin Margaret a fourth time. “We’re supposed to be scoping out the competition.”

“We are inspecting the competition. Very thoroughly.”

Her cousin’s gaze ran over the lead singer onstage, going all dreamy at his skinny jeans and cowboy hat. Her eyes, the aching blue of a summer sky filled with mare’s-tail clouds, did the dreamy look really well. Maggie had a true Irish lass’s coloring with her translucent skin and rose-gold hair. Shivawn was her mirror image, if the mirror was old and darkened—chestnut-red hair, green eyes, and skin that sort of tanned before it burned.

“Maggie, dear, it’s amazing how much scoping out the competition looks like ogling the singer.”

“Oh, pooh. I don’t always go for the lead singer.”

She cut a disbelieving glance at her cousin, which sent her off-kilter and knocking into Maggie again. But really, this time she deserved it. “Margaret Clancy. You always told me there are only three kinds of band groupies: the ones swooning at the singer’s crooning; the ones dazzled by the lead guitar’s brilliant riffs; and the ones who want to do the drummer for his obvious hand-eye coordination.”

“So, which are you?” she shot back.

Shivawn kept her eyes glued to her feet. “None of the above. I’m surprised you’re interested. Musicians know how shallow the glamour is. Even a flute player is a musician, of sorts.”

“Ha, ha.”

But if I had to pick, give me the bass guitar every time. Not obvious or showy, the bass guitar was steady and relentless and drove the whole group to its climax. Give me that in bed any day over showy or self-absorbed.

Shivawn glanced at the electric bass in this country band. The grizzled blond competently walked fingers up and down the fretboard. Decent enough. But even if her eyes were capable of dreamy, which they weren’t, she wouldn’t have gone gooey over him.

The glimpse distracted her long enough that she grapevined left as Cousin Margaret went right, and she ran into her for the umpteenth time.

Fed up, Shivawn grabbed Maggie’s elbow and pulled her out of line—apparently a mortal sin from the black glares she got. But, really. Just because she didn’t have her cousin’s fairy skin didn’t mean she didn’t bruise.

She hauled them off the dance floor to the nearest bar. Bar—the word usually brought images of a narrow, gloomy space, a band smashed in a tiny corner, a postage-size dance floor, and cramped seating. But this was Starstruck, a combo dance club/concert hall, and everything was huge. Big stage, gigantic dance floor, sweeping balcony, and not one but two bars.

As Shivawn crossed the dance floor to what could’ve been the next county, she managed to finish her thought. “What do you think of the band?”

“As a musician of a sort,” Maggie began, proving she had been listening instead of ogling, or at least listening in addition to ogling, “it’s my opinion that, despite Hotty McCowboy’s many attractions, our band is better.” Her lilting Celtic accent made it sound less like bragging and more like a kindness.

Shivawn had no such lilt. Though her da was Irish, and she’d been born there, her mother was all American. At five, because of her parents’ separating, she’d been whisked to the USA to grow up here with her mother. Now her accent was firmly Midwest.

So, when she said, “Yeah,” it was flatter than a pancake. “So far I haven’t seen or heard anyone who comes close to giving our kind of show.”

Which was important, because Shivawn and her family band were here to compete in the first annual Starstruck Battle of the Bands.

At the east bar, a truly spectacular bartender was handing out drinks and a sizzling smile with equal speed and flair. The man packaged sex appeal like a Ferrari. Within moments, he slid toward them. He wore the Starstruck uniform of a black T-shirt with logo. But on him, it looked like less of a uniform and more of a tribute.

“What can I get you ladies?” The rich timbre of his voice, the lyrical spin he put on his words, caressed her ears. She bet he was a singer.

“I’ll have your best beer on tap,” Shivawn said, then pointed to her cousin. “She’ll have some sissy drink.”

“They’re not sissy,” Maggie objected. “They have flavor.” She turned her brightest smile on Mr. Tall, Dark, and Drinksome. “I’ll sample whatever you’re mixing up tonight.” A bump of her strawberry brows gave “mixing” a bit of added steam.

“Well. For you…” Hands spread on the bar, he leaned toward them, chest and arm muscles bulging appealingly as he added his own bit of steam. “We’re having a special on margaritas.”

“Sold.” Maggie mirrored his tilt, plumping her considerable assets in her V-neck sweater. “Margarita is like my name, you know. Margaret, margarita.”

“Mine’s Ben.” As he tapped his name badge hanging from a blue lanyard, his gaze stayed on Maggie’s.

Shivawn gave him points for that. Her cousin had a flutist’s truly spectacular chest.

“Done with singers?” she murmured, and Maggie shot her an I-will-shortsheet-your-bed look. Shivawn smiled innocently.

“As far as beer goes,” Ben spoke to her this time while his hands nimbly prepared the margarita. “All our beers are the best.”

“What’s your favorite, then? I’ll have that.”

“One dopplebock coming up.” He smoothly slid a jumbo margarita before Cousin Margaret then retrieved a glass and frosted beer bottle, uncapped, and expertly poured.

As Ben moved off to serve other customers, Shivawn cast her gaze around the large space. On the main stage, the country band twanged its last number. Another band was setting up on the smaller, temporary stage across the dance floor from the first, tucked in beside the bar where Shivawn sampled a truly lovely dark beer. The two stages were alternating hopefuls of all genres in the four days of open auditions. Her family’s band was scheduled for the final night of preliminaries. Three judges, currently anonymous, would pick the top bands to go on. Things would get cooking with the first bracket playoffs Thursday.

“Where do you think the judges are?”

“Maybe in the balcony?” Margaret turned away from the bar and leaned back on her elbows, surveying the exposed second floor to her right. Her gaze wandered to the temporary stage, where the new band, lots of leather, skin, and studs, finished setting up. As the country band struck its final chord, she went on, “Or maybe the judges are dancing—”

“Weren’t they good?” A blond guy on the second stage grabbed a mic and broke into the dying chord. “Put your hands together for Country Boys and Cowboy Boots.” He raised his arms over his head and mimicked clapping.

Shivawn knew it was mimicked because if he’d really clapped, the amplified thud-thud-thud would’ve burned out their eardrums.

Applause like a brief rain spattered an instant before the guy said, “Now get ready to rock your body down with Taboo Soul.”

He flipped his long blond hair back, and Shivawn would have sworn she heard three women around her sigh.

Onstage, the lead guitar dashed off a riff that could’ve made Jimi Hendrix cry, a virtuoso run of tangling fingers, accompanied by muscular poses worthy of a superhero. He ended on a dramatic, dominant seventh chord that poised them all at the top of the song’s cliff.

And then the bass guitar came in with a glide from sol to do, so smooth and perfect it ran along Shivawn’s flesh like silk, leaving her skin rumpled and aching. When the drummer hit the first beat, everyone was hooked.

But for her, she’d been hooked by that bass slide.

The singer started rasping out lyrics as the crowd cheered. Shivawn’s feet carried her away from the bar, out to where she could see past the blond throwing his long hair around as he deep-throated the mic. Past the shaved-skull lead guitarist jumping around the stage like a stringy Hulk. Past the biker-styled rhythm guitar stalking in his wake. She wandered, almost hypnotized, out to where she could see the man laying down that dark, thrumming, pelvis-churning bass.

After the rest of the band, she was expecting leather, tats, and metal makeup. But no, the bass player was a mysterious contradiction. He wore an ordinary black tee, but it stretched across his broad chest and bowling-ball-muscled shoulders like paint. His pants were regular jeans, not leather, and a bit white with wear, but molded to his legs like silk. His axe was nothing special—black body, maple fretboard, silver bridge and controls. But something, the unusual tuning pegs or inlays or bridge pickup, told her this instrument was finer than it looked.

Cousin Margaret’s voice, calling her name, fell muffled on her ears as her feet brought her closer yet. She’d expected leather, and certainly those powerful arms and strong legs would look great encased in lots of buttery black…or better yet, nothing at all.

He was intent on his music, gaze on his bass as his long, artistic fingers glided easily along the fingerboard. While the lead singer vacationed on an ego trip, and the lead guitar put so many riffs in inappropriate places he began to sound like aural tinsel, the bassist hung out in the back—controlling the pace and shape of the music. Steady. Sure. Never changing.

No, scratch that. He was, ever so slightly, pushing the beat, slowly increasing both tempo and volume, but almost unnoticeably. The audience would feel it as a rising temperature in the room, a quickening of heartbeats. Without fanfare, but as sure as the dawn, he brought both music and audience slowly and inevitably to their feet.

Shivawn stood there, swaying, letting his music stir her. She didn’t understand her reaction, as he seemed mostly ordinary. Yet his notes reverberated deep inside her, where nothing else could touch. Her heart. Her soul. His hands were as capable on the guitar as they’d be on a woman’s body. On her body.

Then he looked up.




His jet-black eyes burned with all the tightly leashed passion that he was pouring into his music.

Her breath left her. Her heart paused, on the brink of recognition.

His gaze focused entirely on her—and connected with her with an almost physical force.

Electricity surged through her, her whole body going haywire. Her heart beat a new, hummingbird’s rhythm.

She swallowed hard. Ordinary? He was in no way ordinary.

But more…here was the band that could beat them.

Amazon | BN | iTunes | Kobo | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

photo credit: Edgar Barany via photopin cc
It’s Gotta Have Heart--Favorite Things #3--originally posted January 27, 2015

Let's get to know each other! In my first year as a Magical Musings blogger, I'm exploring my 10 favorite things. This is number three.

My husband and I were having a discussion the other day about couples. We've gotten to the stage in our lives when we've rubbed a lot of the painful edges off each other--not quite to where we look alike but I can see the day looming coming.

You can find a recap of the couples discussion on my personal blog, but the point I'm exploring today is a bit different.

Couples in books.

photo credit: cdrummbks
photopin cc
Growing up I read a lot of science fiction (Isaac Asimov, the Danny Dunn series (which just came out on Kindle in November!!)), fantasy (C.S. Lewis, Five Children and It), magical reality (Zilpha Keatley Snyder, the Freddy the Pig series), historical fiction, and mysteries (Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe).

About my late teens I found the romance section. Remember your first introduction to romance? Me, it was a Harlequin I can't find again (darn it!), Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Johanna Lindsey.

I was hooked. I thought I'd be reading only romance for the rest of my life...

Well, no. Eventually I found traditional romance didn't give me all the things I looked for in reading. Action, adventure, mystery, wonder...these things are subgenres now but then I had to widen my search.

photo credit:BGSU University Libraries
photopin cc
Who did I find? Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum, mystery/humor). Jim Butcher (Dresden Files, SF/fantasy). Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody, mystery). Just recently I started on James Rollins (Map of Bones, Sigma Force series--thriller?), and I'm enjoying the stories immensely, but I'm not totally convinced I'll read the whole series.


Because strangely, the rest all have romance somewhere in their makeup. HFN or HEA; it may not be more than a small part of the story, but there's attraction somewhere in there that has the potential for committed love and is not just James Bond hitting on the Girl of the Week. (Revolving-door romance does not qualify for me. I'm not sure Rollins will give me that. I'm not sure he'll give his heroes their one-and-only, or if he'll give them a revolving door.)

Point being, when I looked at the books I read, I discovered that small or large, I need romance!

What about you? What was your stepping stone into Romance? Does a story have to have romance for you to read it?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February 1T Status Update

All the goodies--including TWO Amazon Fire tablets--from my holiday giveaways (exclusive to my newsletter subscribers) have been awarded. If you want to get in on next year's giveaway, do sign up now, while you're thinking about it. Click here. http://www.maryhughesbooks.com/Newsletter.html I'll wait. LOL.

AAAAAAAAnd we're back (as Mike Nelson would say).

Back-to-back releases of Playing With Fire: The Battle of the Bands and Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady plus working on Night's Kiss have left little time for much else. Fortunately I've retired from my old orchestra and the new one doesn't start spring rehearsals until March(ish). Here's the bullet point.
  • Playing With Fire: The Battle of the Bands (A Starstruck Novella) is up for preorder.
  • Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady released
  • Hunt Mates (Pull of the Moon 3) is now available at all vendors
  • Night's Kiss is coming along! 70K to the crisis. The bones are in place for the ending.
  • I'm heads-down on Night's Kiss this week, but I'm taking a break next week to do taxes. This is a serious time-drain for me. Anybody else take a minimum of two complete days to do their taxes? 
  • Heart Mates and Prophecy Mates are due to come out of Kindle Unlimited in the next few months. At that point, I'm going to give them a read-through and brush-up then start Soul Mates, the final book. Or, because it's a dauntingly huge story, maybe two final books, but I'll release them at the same time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New release $0.99 just a few more days

Do you like billionaires, classy ladies, and kittens? Snap this limited-time bargain up today!

Elizabeth Rothschild promised a dying man she’d protect his charitable legacy. But how, when the greedy, manipulative sharks on the board want her out?

And now the biggest shark of all, the Lovless heir, is coming home.

Landon "Rebel" Lovless is a bad boy, a billionaire by virtue of being his grandfather's heir. The Navy SEAL wants nothing more than to get back to his team, but lovely Elizabeth Rothschild brings out a protective streak in him.

Get this USA Today bestseller today, before it goes up to $2.99.

A billionaire SEAL with too much money and no time for love—until he meets the woman guaranteed to infuriate—and inflame—him most.

If you have Billionaire Ever After, this story is included in the set.

Amazon | BN | iTunes | Kobo | Google | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Read chapter one on my blog here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

3T Writing Tidbit

So at one point I came up with a great idea for an author guide. It would help people AND make money. Cool, right?

Only, the working title is 25 Ways You're Losing Readers (and what you can do about it)--excellent title, except I only have nine.

Sooooo here they are, one month at a time.

Writers are artistes, needing no one to complete their art. Right, or wrong?

Let's take a closer look. With a symphony or movie, dozens if not hundreds of people are required to bring the composer or playwright's art into being.

With an author, there's just one, right?


You have one other person you have to consider. The reader.

The reader brings their expectations, imaginations, and life experience to your work, and complete it.

Many authors forget the reader is an integral part of their art. Many also haven't heard of the implicit contract with the reader.

You promise to give the reader a great read. Moreover, by the very way you present your book, the type of cover, the blurb, and title, you have promised to give your reader a certain type of great read.

Break that contract at your own peril.

Don't believe me? Consider what would happen if I title my story "Sherlock Holmes and the Egyptian Mystery" -- you'd be justified in expecting a mystery with some tie to ancient Egypt. What if it's a romance between a cat and dog in a New York alley? Did you feel that little jarring in your gut?

Yes. That's a thing that will lose you readers.

Easy fix. Write your title and blurb. Give it to a reader (or give yourself fresh reader's eyes by putting your manuscript aside for a month or two).

Ask them to tell you what they expect from this book. (Is it the story you wrote? If not, you may need to tweak your title or blurb.)

Then give them the story. After they read it, ask them if the story met, exceeded, or confounded their expectations.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is another of those posts.

New Year, New Goals, New Point of View—Guest Roxy Mews--originally posted January 1, 2015

This is the time of year when I usually dust off my treadmill and try to remember that yoga pants are actually supposed to be used in a yoga class. I’ve started calling mine YouTube pants, because that’s what I do when I wear them. The endless videos don’t judge me.

I’m switching gears this year.


I’m writing about gears.

Next month I’ve got a new novella out with Samhain Publishing called Coral-600. If you’ve read my books, you’re familiar with my sense of humor. So you might be able to understand why I couldn’t resist writing from the point-of-view of a 90-year-old virgin robot. She’s discovering what all her genetically modified tissue can do, and I had to hang on for the ride with her.

I sent this little nugget onto my editor and neither one of us really knew what to do with it, but we knew it was too much fun to let sit in my computer. It’s a sexy love story that just happens to involve a robot. Coral, our robo-main character, is determined to get what she needs out of life and can’t understand why others would want to deny her things that just plain feel good.

In 2015, I want to be more like the strong female characters I write about. I want to figure out what I want and go for it. I’m trying to get organized, but for now, I’m filling my writing space with beautiful quotes. I’m journaling every day, and I’m writing down more of the stories inside my head.

If you’re looking for a book to make you smile while you’re keeping up with your resolutions, I hope you’ll give mine a try. Happy New Year!

Roxy Mews Professional PicRoxy wrote her first story at age six on an electric typewriter. It was about a cat and a haunted house. Thankfully, her stories and technology have matured since then. Now Roxy spends her days fighting the evil day job in hopes of conquering the stories that run rampant in her head when she comes home at night. When she discovered Erotic Romance, Roxy fell in love. She can’t wait to share all her fun and sexy stories with everyone.

To connect with Roxy Mews find her babbling on Twitter, friend her on Facebook, visit her Blog, or find all these links on RoxyRocksMe.com

Coral-600 Cover FINAL      Pleasure is not a malfunction.

Coral-600 is the first and only one of her kind. An artificial intelligence prototype with realistic skin over her metal frame, she was deemed too expensive for mass production and gifted to the royal family.

She cannot legally have a relationship with a human, and it never entered her electronic brain to want more—to break the law. Until she meets Quinn, and her DNA-enhanced skin tingles with a completely new sensation. Desire.

His body damaged beyond repair in the war, Quinn survived—barely—by agreeing to have much of it rebuilt. His royal relatives have taken him in, but it’s tough adjusting to a body that doesn’t come with instructions.

As Coral helps Quinn cope with his new body, the connection between them reaches the melt-down point. But unless she can convince the authorities that humanity runs deeper than flesh and bone, she’ll have her CPU wiped clean—permanently.

Warning: This book contains artificial and natural flavors, lubricant (lots and lots of lubricant), and fun with oh-so-hard drives.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Chapter One from Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady

Bad Boy Billionaire’s Lady
© 2017 Mary Hughes

The Lovless Billionaires. Three brothers with too much money and no time for love—until each meets the woman guaranteed to infuriate—and inflame—him most.
Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady (Book 1)

Elizabeth Rothschild promised a dying man she’d protect his charitable legacy. But how, when the greedy, manipulative sharks on the board want her out?
And now the biggest shark of all, the Lovless heir, is coming home.
Landon "Rebel" Lovless is a bad boy, a billionaire by virtue of being his grandfather's heir. The Navy SEAL wants nothing more than to get back to his team, but lovely Elizabeth Rothschild brings out a protective streak in him.

The loner and out-of-sync boy who left is not the stunning man who strides into the board meeting. He shocks them all by barking orders and commanding them to a team-building exercise on a tropical island. They're getting their hands dirty constructing a house. But as Reb, Elizabeth, and the board members toil side by side, will it build their camaraderie—or only put them close enough for someone to stick in the knife?

Chapter One

The trouble started when Elizabeth Rothschild, toting the rescue kitten, tried to dodge New York City rush-hour foot traffic by cutting through a dark alley.

She was late for an important after-hours board meeting. Stopping at the animal shelter to see if they needed food or medicine—part of her job as head of charities for Lovless Industries, but also her passion—made her later.

The kitten had been mewing piteously. She’d picked it up to cuddle and console it. Big eyes blinked trustingly at her from the ball of yellow fur, and she was lost, plucking the stray from the shelter to give him a home.

Now, as she muddled along the congested sidewalk, she kept one arm securely around the kitten’s tote. Her messenger bag flopped against her other hip, its strap crisscrossed with the carrier. Taking the poor animal with her probably wasn’t her best idea, but there’d been no time. A friend at work could watch the kitten during her meeting.

Jostled and late, the empty alley looked like salvation.

She ducked out of the press of bodies into the alley opening. Clutching the carrier, she peered down the dark, narrow path between the two tall buildings.

Deserted? Or hiding dangers?

She touched her knit hat. Her hair was safe from grabbing underneath. Muggings were no joke, but her coat covered her expensive power suit and nice jewelry. And she wore a good pair of runners.

One arm still around the kitten’s carrier, she dug with the other hand in her messenger bag for her phone and checked the time.

Five minutes until the meeting. And she still had to find her friend to drop off the little ball of fur.

Elizabeth swore. Walk in late? Or potentially not at all? She shifted on her runners, thinking of the boardroom that awaited, the big table ringed by two dozen of the greediest, most blood-thirsty suited sharks there were—and no more Landy to support her.

“One goal,” she coached herself. “Protect Landy’s charity legacy. Well, and not get fired.”

The kitten, perhaps hearing her voice, meowed.

“Okay, three goals,” she answered. “Protect the charities, don’t get fired, and buy you kitten chow. But for now, don’t worry. Ainsley will take good care of you while I face the sharks.”

The sharks, and one other complication—the new chairman of the Lovless Industries board of directors. A man even Landy called uncontrollable. Her stomach lurched, remembering her mentor’s last words to her.

“You’ll have to deal with my grandson.”

Muggers or sharks? Oh, what’s the difference?

“Right.” She made her decision.

*       *       *

The man saddled with the appalling name of “Landon Lovless the Third” was pissed.

The snarl of traffic, beeping and honking around him, echoed his mood. He sat on his motorcycle amid New York rush hour, hot and chafing despite the cool day. He ought to be with his SEAL team, not dressed up in this ridiculous suit. He ought to be hearing his brothers in arms calling him Rebel and Reb instead of a pack of corporate wolves calling him Landon or Lovless or worse yet, Mr. Chairman.

That was his old robber baron of a grandfather, not him.

Yet everything he’d rejected from day one, the name, the title, the money, had been forced on him by the old man’s death.

“I won’t do it,” Reb snarled for the umpteenth time. He’d donned his leathers over the suit and rode his Harley through midtown rush hour traffic in protest. It made him late, but that was a form of protest, too.

The light changed. Cars, cabs, and bikes moved forward. He rolled on the throttle—clamping and stomping the brakes when, three inches later, the car in front of him squealed to a halt. Clamping the bike into neutral, he slapped boots to the pavement. The left lane was supposed to be faster, but nothing moved right now. He was hot and late, and the fact that he’d done it to himself made him even more pissed.

Then he saw her.

Immediately, everything else dropped away, including his temper. He didn’t know what about her attracted his attention; she scurried into his periphery, about a block behind him on the sidewalk, nothing out of the ordinary. Her lumpy cloche hat looked hand-knit—like something made by a kid, not the trendy, artisanal kind his grandfather’s too-young mistresses wore. Her coat appeared to be good quality wool, but a bit scuffed looking.

His forehead tightened in a frown beneath his helmet. Everything she wore looked a little worn, including her no-name running shoes and the messenger bag where, if she was like every other New York City office worker he’d met, she’d tote her sensible pumps. Unless she was the back-killing heels type.

The pet carrier looked new, though.

Then her face came into focus. She wasn’t worn-looking at all. As she hurried nearer, he was struck by her creamy skin, sparkling eyes, and ruby lips perfect for a man’s kiss…

He shook his head and turned away. Then turned almost immediately back.

Little wisps of blonde hair escaped from her hat. He normally couldn’t stand blondes, but something about those small, fragile curls, shimmering silver and honey and flaxen, intrigued him as she scurried past him on the sidewalk.

As she neared the alley and slowed.

Damn it. He could almost hear the thought going through her head.

Don’t do it.

Ignoring his mental warnings—and plain good sense—she swiveled on graceful legs and went into the alley.

The dark alley.

He chomped molars and turned away. Not his problem. She’d done it of her own free will. On her own head be it.

That dark, narrow alley. Perfect for an enemy ambush.

He glanced again at the shadowed maw. Nothing good came of pretty women cutting through alleys.

Forcing himself to look away, he told himself it was none of his business. Besides, he’d have to cut across two lanes plus the congested sidewalk…

She might be in danger, the SEAL in him urged.

The light changed. Traffic began flowing forward.

He eased out the clutch, first gear engaged, and rolled forward with traffic. She made the choice herself—

The panicked yowl of a young animal caught his ears.

Barely audible over the traffic noise. But his hearing, attuned to danger, meant the poor beast’s fear cut through.

With a sharp curse, he cranked his fork. Earning several honks and rude gestures, he shoved the bike into non-existent gaps in the wall-to-wall traffic. He only hoped he wasn’t too late.

*       *       *

As Elizabeth hurried down the alley, a big, bulky man stepped from a shadowed doorway to block her path.

“Where’re you going so fast?”

Her blood iced. The man was all beef and flexing muscle, with flinty eyes. She clasped the kitten’s carrier to her, forcing herself to breathe deeply, trying to slow her heart’s pounding in her ribcage. She knew what to do—extract her wallet from her messenger bag, toss it behind the guy, and while he was distracted snatching it up, run the other way.

A clattering from behind caught her attention. She glanced over her shoulder as a second goon slouched into the alley. His knit cap hugged his skull, the hat’s brim rolled to expose his hungry eyes.
Skullcap had just cut off her escape route.

She swallowed, hard. Squaring her shoulders, she faced the first mugger and thrust out a palm. “Back off.”

Instead, the beefy man sauntered closer. “What’s in the carrier?”

Her arm convulsed around the animal tote. A worried meow answered. “A cat. You don’t want him. You want my briefcase. You can have it.” She eased the messenger bag from her shoulder. “Just a bunch of work papers, though. A subway pass. Credit cards, but they’re maxed out.” And her phone and second-hand Gucci pumps, which she’d counted on to make the right impression with the new chairman.

But the best way out of the situation was to give the mugger the bag.

She glanced behind again, wondering if she could toss it far enough to have both muggers run after it, when the beefy man suddenly grabbed the strap.

She automatically yanked it away. Her fear and fury and rampaging adrenaline boosted the tug into a full-body swing. She spun around—and whirled the bag into the beefy man’s head.

“Hey!” He threw up a hand last-minute, but she still managed to wallop him in the skull. He collapsed with a groan to his hands and knees.

Her jaw dropped in amazement. Then self-preservation kicked in, and she lurched into a run past him. One step, two, she built up speed, her gaze zeroed on the street opening at the other end of the alley.

Just let me escape. I vow never to take a shortcut again.

Feet pursued her. A hand clamped onto her coat. Her pulse kicked into overdrive.

“Where d’you think you’re going?” Skullcap dragged her to a stop.

She swung around, messenger bag first, the kitten still clamped to her body.

Skullcap caught the briefcase mid-swing, ripped it from her grasp, and threw it to one side.

“Bad move, bitch.” He slapped her face.

His palm was like a flat rock smashing into her cheek. Her bone rang with the impact, and her head spun with the momentum, jarring her off balance. She stumbled back a step. The pain came an instant later, sharp, insistent. She willed it down to a dull throb, desperately trying to keep control of what she could.

The mugger grabbed her by the lapels—and tore open her coat beneath the carrier strap.

She sucked in a shocked breath. Inhaled a wash of male stink. She recoiled automatically, heart hammering. The kitten released a terrified screech.

“Well, well.” The mugger dragged her back, his foul excitement pouring off him. “What’s this?”

Beyond him, the beefy man was just rising. “Hold her.” Hand to his head where she’d clipped him, he staggered toward her. “I owe her some payback.”

She struggled against Skullcap’s hold, impotently, horrified that the situation had careened so out of control. Her blood thundered in her ears as she tried desperately to think of a way out…or was that the sound of a motor?

Suddenly, the hard roar of a powerful machine filled the mouth of the alley.

Beyond the muggers, a motorcycle skidded into the narrow way, its harsh engine reverberating against the buildings.

Both goons spun toward the intruder. Freed, Elizabeth clutched the carrier and stumbled back, her pulse racing frantically.

The bike tore down the pavement and squealed to a stop a few feet from the muggers.

A big, helmeted, leather-clad man sat easily on the low-slung seat. Scuffed, shitkicker boots rested flat on the pavement.

Her panted breaths rasped in her ears. The muggers’ more dangerous biker pal? God, and she’d thought things couldn’t get worse.

One boot rose to toe the stand down. With a fluid lift of his muscular leg, the man dismounted easily, unfolding to almost a giant’s height. Face completely covered by a mirrored visor, he stood before them without a word.

More dangerous? Try deadly.

Elizabeth’s breath came in frosted little pants. Was she rescued, or in even more trouble than before?