Category Archives: This and That

Fun Times At Duncan High!

Life’s all kinds of fun in at Duncan High. We have a Senior in high school, which means making college plans and all the other things that go along with senior year.

To top that off, we’ve taken things to a drastic turn to get the youngest away from a situation where she was being bullied. She now does virtual school from home, which is interesting and challenging. On the upside, she’s happier than we’ve seen her in years.

I was interviewed on Good Morning Texas this week to talk about my latest release CONTROLLED BURN.

Tomorrow kicks off a new adventure. Everyone who knows me knows about my “love for road trips”.  Well, it’s time for another one. This time, I’m heading 10 hours South to pick up my dad and move him here. Yep. The time has come for us to be able to keep an eye on him.

All of these things come with their own challenges and excitements and stresses. Tell me. How do you handle the challenges and stresses in your life? What do you do to recharge?

The NDcent hunt is on! Are you game?

Welcome to the NDcent Blogger Scavenger Hunt! Participating is E-A-S-Y and you can W-I-N!

Yes that’s right! You might WIN! Several bloggers have joined me in this hunt wher you’ll find them, comment on the post and be entered into drawings. Commenting on each blog enters you in a drawing for a $5 gift card to be given away on that blog. People who comment on EVERY blog (18 total) will be entered in a drawing for a $100 Amazon Gift Card.

Winners will all be announced on Saturday, August 22!


HerMiracleMan300Children’s hospital administrator Ryland Davids was attracted to event planner Jennalyn James the moment he saw her. He thought there would be plenty of time to get to know her—until her younger sister, Sabrina, was admitted with complications from traumatic brain injury.

Sabrina’s bright courage broke through Ryland’s wall of professional distance, but once she drew her last breath, Jennalyn left the hospital and never returned. Though he understands her need for distance, there’s a hole in his heart that won’t heal. And a last wish from Sabrina he’s honor-bound to deliver.

When Jennalyn comes face to face with Ryland at a charity event, the pain comes rushing back, threatening to shatter her everything’s-fine façade. It doesn’t help that the lump in her throat is mostly her heart, leaping in response to his touch.

Despite her reluctance to return to the scene of her grief, she fulfills Sabrina’s final request to plan a series of Christmas events for the kids. Over the course of A Month of Miracles, Ryland and Jennalyn discover there’s the light of hope at the end of grief’s dark tunnel. But it may not be enough to heal her broken heart.

Fill in the blank for one entry: It doesn’t help that the lump in her throat is mostly _______________, leaping in response to his touch.

Here’s a hint for the next book you’re looking for:  She has a wild streak.

ControlledBurn72web ScentofPersuasion72web TangledInTulle72web





Look for the NDcent Hunt button on participating blogs for more chances to enter, and don’t miss checking out Nikki’s website to see what else she has to offer.

The Revolving Bookcase
Book Sniffers Anonymous
Sapphyria’s Book Blog 
Book Liaison
Cassandra M’s Place
An NDcent Dame Gina
Smutty Kitty
Joyfully Reviewed 
Guilty Pleasures
Book Obsessed Chicks 
Geeky Blogger
Coffee Books Life 
Literary Escapism 
Delighted Reader 
Literature Lite House
Harlequin Junkie
Smexy Books 
After Midnight Authors

Being a Girl is HARD

It’s no secret that being a girl is hard. Extremely hard. And it doesn’t matter how young or old we are or what we do every day of our lives.

As a mom of two daughters, I’ve always prided myself in being honest with them. One instance, that seems to be happening often with the youngest, I’m always honest regards the subject of bullies, or mean girls.

So often parents tell their children things will get better as they get older. I don’t. I tell my girls that people, some people, are mean and will always be mean. The only thing that will really change, or get better, is our individual ability to handle the bullies. I tell them that no matter how old we get there are always going to be people we do not like or want to be around. People who cannot find it in themselves to be genuinely kind to others. I then tell them it is up to them to find a strength inside themselves, a strength I know we all have inside, to stand against the bullies.

Now, most recently for example, this advise was dished out to my elementary aged daughter. I told her there will be nothing easy about it, but that her best defense against mean girls is to be a happy girl. I told her that nothing pisses off a bully intent on ruining your day more than being happy in the face of their meanness. My girls, being the sarcastic and expressive creatures they are, always laugh at me when I tell them this. Yeah, I admit I see the insanity of the idea.

My girls thrive on music. One plays flute and the other is a singer. This makes it feel natural that I should use music, this seemingly small thing which they connect to, to help my youngest come up with ways to combat the negativity. My current promise is to help her build an Empowering Playlist. A playlist she listens to in the morning before school, in the afternoon after school and in the evening before bed. A playlist that can live in her head and give her something to turn to in those moments when she needs to tune out the negativity around her.

So my question for you, no my plea, is what music empowers you to be a stronger you? What song helps you stand against those who would oppress you? What would you suggest for the sake of inspiring a young girl trying to find her way in an emotion filled world?

A Child’s Letter

If kids, and many adults, were to write a letter to one of their closest friends these days, given the nasty virus going around, I think it might be something like this.

May you all have a terrific holiday with visits to and from the friends and family you love and value most.

Dear John,

You’ve been there for me since I was little. Sometimes you’re uppity, or back uppity as the case might be. We talk rarely, but we see each other every day. I wonder though, do you ever get tired of seeing me? Especially on days like today when I’ve been blessed with the stomach virus everyone is passing off to the next person faster than green vegetables are shunned at a kid’s party.

Illness and suffering may be a reminder for us to be grateful for the good things we have, like reliable friends like you. But John, I hope it doesn’t hurt your feelings too much for me to say I’d like a little space. The urgent need to race through the house and kneel before you is a little too close to obsession for my comfort. It’s just not healthy for a girl to be so reliant on a boy.

Please accept this letter in the spirit intended. I hope we can still be friends.


Sick Kid


Love…Vintage Style

Love is…patient.

Love is…kind.

Love is..a swift kick in the butt we don’t always want.

This is certainly the case in FIERY, my fourth Whispering Cove novella. Carmen has always wanted a place to call home, where she felt like she belonged. She came close when she and her sister made a home in Whispering Cove, but when no one is looking, when she’s alone with her thoughts, she drifts into a loneliness she hasn’t been able to fill.

Writing FIERY allowed me to shop for fifties style clothes and home decor, and it was fun to figure out why a modern day woman would want the kind of life a housewife in the fifties led. Or the life she thought they’d had. Ryan and Carmen challenge each other the way great partners should. They push each other’s buttons, but are just as quickly ready to help each other. They’re just not sure they fit as smoothly together as Whispering Cove’s matchmaking grandpas think they do.



Carmen is convinced that life in the fifties was simple, women were cherished by their husbands and kids were never left behind. Families were filled with love instead of dysfunction. And the clothes were cool.

What do you think? Do you agree with Ryan that Carmen is looking for an ideal that does not, and has never, existed?


Connect with Nikki at her other online homes.



Are you coming to RT? So are we! Come see us!

A whole bunch of the AM authors are hitting Kansas City next week…come see us at the mega booksigning on Saturday!

The signing takes place during the RT Convention in Kansas City.  Check out the site to see which other authors are going to be there, and to learn more.  The signing is on Saturday, May 4th, 2013 from 11am – 2pm at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo.

The AM authors attending:

Shiloh Walker
Sylvia Day
Jules Bennett
Mary Wine.
HelenKay Dimon
Shayla Black
Beth Williamson
Nikki Duncan
Delilah Devlin
Rhyannon Byrd

The mega booksigning is open to the public. There is a $5 fee to get inside and then you get to go crazy and meet and greet like mad.  If you live in or around the area, we’d love to see you!

An After Midnight Virgin

It’s a new year and that means resolutions and new stuff. In my case, I don’t do resolutions so I’ll stick with the new stuff. Being an After Midnight Author is part of that, and I’m thrilled to join the amazing authors already here.

This year is also kicking off with several other changes.

~ A new house with more of those things we’ve always wanted – space for the kids to act crazy, an actual guest room, a bigger kitchen, and bigger closets.
~ A realization of a dram for the hubby – turning the house we’re currently in into a rental property.
~ My sister is moving back. She’s only been gone a few years, and we’ve seen her, but it’s not the same as having her here. That she’ll be here with her new hubby is even better.
~ My oldest is going to start driving. That’s an idea that scares the tar out of me, but it’s a reality I can’t avoid.
~ New stories. I have a couple of series that are faves I love to play in, but I’m excited about some of the things I have planned.

Until those stories come out, and until I can share more of the things I have coming, I thought I’d share a peak into my latest release – Her Miracle Man.

Children’s hospital administrator Ryland Davids was attracted to event planner Jennalyn James the moment he saw her. He thought there would be plenty of time to get to know her—until her younger sister, Sabrina, was admitted with complications from traumatic brain injury.

Sabrina’s bright courage broke through Ryland’s wall of professional distance, but once she drew her last breath, Jennalyn left the hospital and never returned. Though he understands her need for distance, there’s a hole in his heart that won’t heal. And a last wish from Sabrina he’s honor-bound to deliver.

When Jennalyn comes face to face with Ryland at a charity event, the pain comes rushing back, threatening to shatter her everything’s-fine façade. It doesn’t help that the lump in her throat is mostly her heart, leaping in response to his touch.

Despite her reluctance to return to the scene of her grief, she fulfills Sabrina’s final request to plan a series of Christmas events for the kids. Over the course of A Month of Miracles, Ryland and Jennalyn discover there’s the light of hope at the end of grief’s dark tunnel. But it may not be enough to heal her broken heart.


And an excerpt:

“Jennalyn.” Evan slipped his hand into hers and squeezed. “You’ve done an amazing job.”

“Thank you.” She smiled into Evan’s fun, green eyes that sparkled in his creaseless face.

“You deserve the thanks.” He grinned with the mischievousness that alerted her to a scheme she should be worried about.

He had become one of her favorite people as soon as they’d started working together. They shared a sense of humor as well as a dedication to success in their careers. Best of all Evan was perfectly safe. He had zero interest in a sexual relationship with her. Even if he hadn’t been gay she would have held him in the friend slot. She didn’t have time for romance.

Evan continued, needing no encouragement to divulge what he had planned. “There’s only one way I can show you how much we appreciate everything you’ve done to make this event perfect.”

She turned away from scanning the room and focused fully on Evan. The outer edge of her right eye squinched a little as she attempted to predict what her unpredictable friend would say. Her attempt to brace herself eked into her tone. “Evan.”

“I have someone I want you to meet.”

The two ominous notes of the Jaws score played in her head. She knew what was coming. The two dreaded notes were replaced with two dreaded words.

“A man.”

Yep. Just as she had expected. “Evan.”

She tried to warn him. They’d shared enough apple martinis for him to know she didn’t want to be set up. The family event-planning business had suffered too much while she had been taking care of Sabrina. With things finally on an upswing she couldn’t afford the distraction that came with a man.

Even if she had the time, the hanging grief of loss didn’t give her the heart. “Don’t think for a second that I want you to set me up.”

He cocked a hip with a fist lightly planted above the blinged-out belt he was never without. “Don’t you think I know that?”

“I would like to, but you’re being overly dramatic. That always gets me a little scared.”

“Try to introduce a friend to a potential client and she gets all suspicious.” Evan rolled his eyes as he grabbed her arm and propelled her through the crowded room. “Where’s the appreciation?”

“I have plenty of appreciation.” Relief flooded her. A personal referral was exactly what she could use, especially to the kind of client who could afford to attend a five-hundred-dollar-a-plate fundraiser. “Tell me about this potential client.”

“He’s the CMO of a local hospital and has wanted to plan a special series of events for some patients who are finally healthy enough to enjoy them.” Evan smiled and nodded to people they passed, all the while talking low enough that their conversation was almost private. “Until now he’s had to prioritize his focus on other things.”

“What kind of patients?”

“Kids.” Evan inclined his head toward a small group of people mingling near a bar table.

A handsome man and a pretty woman, maybe in her fifties, faced Jennalyn. Recognition settled uncomfortably. The man’s smile was pleasant. The woman she remembered from her visits to the Ronald McDonald House in Riley. Amanda loved the house that love built and all that it stood for. She lived for the pleasure of making sure families had what they needed while their children were in the hospital.

Amanda was a wonderful person, but neither she nor the man facing Jennalyn held themselves as if they considered themselves powerful. The man with his back to her did. After seeing the woman, Jennalyn knew who the man was from his perfectly trimmed hair to the way he stood with understated power.

Then he turned.

He wore a black suit. The matching tie had a single row of red dots made from silk thread. At six foot two he was taller than her by seven inches. Square jaw and high cheekbones, blonde hair with silvery eyes that smiled when he smiled, the man robbed her of breath.

Ryland Davids.

Evan made the introductions, but Jennalyn heard nothing. She could only recall the times she had seen Ryland walking the halls of Riley Hospital for Children. He was an executive as dedicated to the comfort of the families of his patients as he was to the patients themselves. He was personable. So much so that he had been the one to offer warmth when her world went dark.

Jennalyn’s head tingled. The sensation was subtle at first. Then it grew until the entire surface beneath her skull became a tingling mass. The pressure of memories swamped her and had her resisting the urge to turn and flee.

“Jennalyn?” Evan’s questioning concern and the weight of his hand coming to rest at her waist pulled her from the morass. “I would like you to meet Ryland Davids, Brad from his PR department, and Amanda from Ronald McDonald House.”

Amanda smiled a smile that said she remembered Jennalyn and that she understood how painful this reunion could be. The sympathy had Jennalyn resisting the urge to crack her knuckles. It was that look that had kept her from returning to the hospital as a volunteer. Turning from it, she faced Ryland.

He stepped forward with a hand extended and a gentle smile that curved his mouth and crinkled the edges of his eyes. “Jennalyn.”

She flattened her palm over her chest where heat was spreading deeper. She’d seen him often, met him twice. The first meeting, she’d found him on the floor of the hospital library. In his expensive suit, in front of some amazing stained glass windows, he’d sat on the thick rug that covered a marble floor with his legs crisscrossed. He and Sabrina had broken away from their seemingly serious conversation.

He’d looked up at Jennalyn with the same gentle smile. It had stolen her breath then too.

In the water-themed banquet space, with her heart filling her throat, Jennalyn moved her hand into Ryland’s. An electric jolt shot up her arm and had her jerking free.
Rubbing the palm of her still-tingling hand with her thumb, she searched for her voice. When she managed to push words up her lump-filled throat, she was proud to hear that she sounded somewhat level.


“It’s… You look… You look good.” His guarded greeting suggested that he too remembered their last meeting and he found this reunion equally awkward.

The second and last time she’d met him… He’d sat across Sabrina’s bed holding one fragile hand while Jennalyn held the other. Then, after Sabrina had slipped off to join the angels, when Jennalyn wanted to curl herself around her sister, desperate to keep Sabrina’s body from turning cold, he’d rounded the bed and offered her comfort until long after the nursing staff had taken Sabrina away. Jennalyn could still hear her own grief echoing in that room.

Tears scalded Jennalyn’s eyes, but she wouldn’t let them fall. Her hands shook. The stress of the day, being back at the zoo, seeing Ryland and having the memories resurface all became too much. The strength she’d spent the last eleven months building up crumbled. Pinching her lips together, she held in a sob and backed away several steps. She couldn’t stay and not break.

She fled.

March Mania!

Have you ever heard the old saying that March roars in like a lion and out like a lamb? For me, that hasn’t been the case at all! The whole month been roaring with one thing after another. I’m, not sure where the time is going!

The first thing I want to say is thank you to all of you who bought a copy of SURRENDER TO ME during its first week of release! It has debuted on New York Times trade bestseller list for the first time! I am humbled and thrilled. I really appreciate you!!! The book also debuted at #6 on the Neilsen Bookscan trade romance bestseller list, at #1 on the Borders romance trade bestseller list and #40 on the Barnes & Noble trade fiction bestseller list. I am super excited and I thank you so much!

I recently finished BELONG TO ME, the next book in my Wicked Lovers series! When I typed “The End”, it was with a deep sense of satisfaction. I absolutely LOVE Logan and Tara. Their relationship is so hot and tender. It kind of melted me a little. *sigh* I love this series and hope to continue writing it for a very long time. I’ll be starting Tyler’s book next, and I’m feeling really excited. I can’t wait!

I just received the cover for this book from my publisher. I really love it and think it conveys the love and passion that this couple has for one another! I am always thrilled with the amount of input they give me on my covers.

BELONG TO ME is already up for pre-sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

For those of you in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I will be at signing books with fellow authors Nikki Duncan, Angi Morgan and Candace Havens at the Barnes & Noble in Lewisville, TX on April 16, 2011 at 2pm. We’re planning on making it a spring fling celebration, and I am really looking forward to it!

Lastly, there is now a group of Role Players just starting to play the Doomsday Brethren on Facebook! When they approached me about this I was so excited and honored! You can find them on Facebook by searching for Doomsday Brethren, then joining the public page.

And if you haven’t heard I have joined the Twitter revolution! You can follow me at @Shayla_Black.

Hope the rest of March is fabulous for everyone!

Beautiful May

Last month I posted a day late, so I decided to average it out by posting a day early. I think that works, right?

May has been a rockin’ awesome month so far. One of those months that my face is permanently locked in a smile. Why? A couple reasons that all add up to me feeling darn good.

After six months of bundling up in layers, with my numb fingers trying to find the right keys on my laptop, the weather has finally turned around. It’s warm. Gloriously so. I’d go so far as to say it’s hot. Today, for the first time, I’m wearing my favorite denim capris and a short-sleeved cotton tee that have been tucked away in my closet since last October. I took a walk today, enjoyed the feel of the sun soaking into my pasty white skin. I’m enjoying it now since within a month or so it’ll be hitting temps in the high 90s and low 100s and I’ll be avoiding outside as much as possible. But for now…for now, I’m opening the windows and enjoying the breeze.

Another reason May has been so good? Lisa and I are writing, really, honest-to-God writing, again. Now, for the last few months we’ve been trying to write a novella, and we were getting words on the page, but it was going ridiculously slow, even for us. We were suffering some serious writer constipation. Finally, we sat down and talked and realized that although we loved the idea behind the story, clearly it wasn’t what we were supposed to be writing since we’ve never suffered that type of challenge before in getting a story written. We put the novella to the side and pulled out the book of our heart. The book we get more fan mail requesting than any other. Eternal Talisman is back in progress. And all I can say is why the heck did we wait so long? In the last few days Lisa and I have written more than we managed in the last few months combined. The fire we’d thought had burned down to an ember has blazed up again. Not only do we want to write, but we love what we’re writing. We love writing so much we’re going without sleep to write, we’re skipping meals, we’re staying attached to our computers. The reason I’m writing this blog post now, a day before my scheduled blog day here at After Midnight Fantasies, is that I sent the scene in progress to Lisa, and figured I’d spend the time waiting for her to send it back to me taking care of my blogging responsibilities before diving right back into Talisman Bay as soon as Lisa sends it my way.

Is this what addiction feels like? Although addiction has such nasty negative connotations. I think this is pure and simple happiness. And you just can’t beat that feeling. So here’s wishing you and yours happiness, in whatever form pleases you most.

So much

There’s so much going on right now that I can hardly believe it’s been a month since my last blog post. Lisa and I got and finished our edits on Forsaken Talisman, and now it’s off to the final line editor. Phew! That’s such a great feeling.  This book is so much different–so much better–than the original version that released five years ago. It’s still Dusty and Skylar’s love story, but we really developed the story and their romance beyond the original–developed so much more that we added 20,000 words to the story. It’s coming out April 3 from Samhain Publishing. And I absolutely love, love, love the cover.

Forsaken Talisman by Ashleigh Raine
Forsaken Talisman by Ashleigh Raine

It’s a perfect representation of the heroine and the book, really. I get chills when I look at it.

What else has happened over the last month? Well, it’s been a strange month. Things keep breaking. I’ve had to replace my son’s computer, have my dryer fixed, and just one hour ago my oven died. I’ll be calling a repairman tomorrow–the oven came new with my house, and I’ve only lived here 4 1/2 years, so darn it, that shouldn’t be breaking too.  Do things in the home break in threes, like celebrities die in threes? I hope this is it. I’m waving the white flag of surrender, and offering up prayers to the gods of appliances that this is it. That I will be good to all my appliances in the future, cleaning them properly and offering them appropriate thank yous for taking care of me.

On the writing front, Lisa and I are hard at work on our demon novella. It’s loosely tied to our Talisman Bay series, and we’re having a fantastic time with it. We spent time on the phone today ironing out a few kinks we hadn’t figured out yet, and the story just clicked in that moment. It became real. This is the point where the book usually writes itself–at least until we hit another kink, but for now, I’m enjoying the flow.

Oh, and totally off-topic, but I want to share because I’m totally proud and excited for her, Lisa started her own business making jewelry and purses. If you’re interested in fun and gorgeous handmade goodies–she never makes any two alike–you should check out her two online shops.

I swear I’m one of her biggest fans. I want every necklace she makes and every purse she sews.

Oh, it’s started snowing again! I’m going to go outside and spend a few minutes enjoying the snow coming down. I’ll catch up with you all next month!