A Sneak Peek Inside THE GALA GIRLS Book #1!

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A Sneak Peek Inside THE GALA GIRLS Book #1!

Here’s a little look at what I wrote today on the first book in my forthcoming THE GALA GIRLS trilogy. I’m so in love with Esme and Nate, and can’t wait for you to really meet them.

When the cafe door banged open while Nate was in the middle of rinsing out the blender after making a frappe, he heard it. Glancing over his shoulder, his mouth dropped open in surprise.

“Hey,” Esme said, waving apologetically from the other side of the bar. “Sorry about disappearing.”

He turned off the sink, leaving the blender carafe in the basin, and dried his hands, turning to her. “No worries. I’m sorry I haven’t called you since we went out.”

“It’s okay. I didn’t either,” she pointed out. “And anyway, that’s kind of what I’m here about.”

He leaned against the bar, raising his brows. “Oh yeah?”

“Go out with me? There’s a movie playing at the independent theater and —“

“Yes.” He smiled, arching a brow.

She faltered. “But — I didn’t — you don’t even know what I was going to ask you to do.”

“I don’t care. If you’ll be there, I’ll be there.”

A pink flush crept up her neck. “Oh. Well, then, excellent. “How’s Wednesday night?”

“Any night is perfect. Every night.” His voice was dead serious, making her eyes widen.

But when her gaze met his, something in her eyes was steely and hot. “Tonight then. I’ll pick you up. Just before seven.”

He leaned in closer. “I’ll be ready.”

The flush reached her cheeks, and she bit back a playful smile. “I can’t wait.”

Then she turned on her heal and sashayed from the shop, his eyes following her hips.

“That,” Henry said, walking behind Nate bear a basket of dirty rags he was taking to the back to launder, “went much, much better.”

Nate couldn’t stop a beaming smile from splashing across his face. Suddenly the news about Bradford couldn’t hold a candle to the flowery scent of Esme still hanging in the cafe.

Want to be the first to know when this book is available to devour? Sign up for my mailing list here and I’ll personally send you an email (and probably a discount!).

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3 Reasons to Read Romance Novels When Everything Sucks

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3 Reasons to Read Romance Novels When Everything Sucks

I wasn’t always a fan of romance novels. In fact, I wasn’t even sold on the idea of reading them at all. Weird for a romance writer, right?

But that was before I allowed myself to try them (formerly very academic Virgo here so, yep, “allowed” is the right word 🙈). And definitely before I allowed myself to enjoy them and see the value in them.

Once I did, though, there was no going back for me. And while it can be tempting to see the romance genre as fluffy, saccharine, unrealistic, and useless, I believe that it is anything but.

Even when the world — or your personal world — feels like it’s falling apart.

In fact, especially then. Read on to learn why.

1. Romance Novels are Happy

Okay, okay, so romance authors definitely put their characters (and their readers) through the wringer a bit — or a lot — between boy-meets-girl and happily-ever-after.

But that’s the thing — by definition, a romance novel must end happily. The main love interests always end up together. The boy gets the girl, she gets a ring put on — however you like to put it, a romance novel always ends with two happy main characters together, in love.

It’s predictable, sure. But it’s also really nice.

Let’s be real. Life is hard sometimes. Or maybe a lot of times. And if you’re anything like me, existence on this planet in general has escalated in difficulty across the board in the last couple of years. When I look around at the political climate, at who’s in charge of making the world’s biggest decisions and what they’re choosing, at the actual climate and its degredation . . . it’s easy for me to slip into a glum mood at best and despair at worst.

So something that is (after some required plot twists) simple and happy and makes you feel all warm inside? That’s not a bad thing. Not by a long shot.

2. Reading Romance Gives Your Brain a Break

Not only is romance by definition happy and dopamine-boosting, its almost egregiously optimistic boy-always-gets-girl formula provides another service for our brains — it gives our overworked minds a break.

The world of a romance novel is, for all its twists and turns in the middle-ish parts, pretty simple and formulaic. We know what to expect — and if you market a book as romance that doesn’t deliver on the genre’s expectations, your readers will not be pleased.

Combined with the fact that love stories end happily, this means that romances give our brains a much-needed (and deserved) break. We can’t overthink about what feels like the end of the world all the time, otherwise we’d go insane. It’s important to take breaks, for our mental health.

And romance novels are a nice way to take a break. So your love story indulgence? It’s not just an indulgence — it’s one way to take a necessary and healing break.

3. Romances are Really Fun

Romance novels provide some great brain benefits. But you know what? They’re also just plain fun. These stories allow us to revel in our fantasies, to perhaps try on something naughtier or more illicit than we might act in our day-to-day lives, and to simply enjoy.

And that’s awesome. It’s okay for something to be just for fun. In fact, it’s pretty damn fantastic.

I know of so many women (and men) who hide the covers of their romance novels when they read in public for fear of being judged (I’m guilty of this, too).

But there’s nothing worth being critical about reading romance novels. They’re awesome. They can be sexy and silly and sassy and mysterious and spooky — but they’re always just plain fun.

Let yourself have fun. It’s not only therapeutic, it’s pretty darn enjoyable, too.

So go for it, romance fans. Indulge, guilt-free, and know that this is one way you’re being kind to yourself.

Okay, your turn. Why do you think it’s a great idea to read romance novels, particularly when the world feels like it’s a dumpster fire? Tell us in the comments!

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My Favorite Writing Podcasts

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My Favorite Writing Podcasts

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I adore podcasts. Any time I'm in the car, or cleaning the house, or washing the dishes, or going for a walk, or running on the treadmill, you can bet that I'm absorbing some podcast at the same time.

I tend to listen to mostly creativity podcasts and business podcasts, as well as a couple of spirituality podcasts. And lately, every time I listen to the podcasts about creativity, I think about how I need to help boost the signal on this wonderful (free!) resources.

So here I am, doing just that. Keep reading if you want to add some seriously awesome, inspirational, and instructive podcasts to your life.

1. I Should Be Writing

I think Mur Lafferty's I Should Be Writing is the first podcast I ever listened to. It was back in 2005 (wow, how is that over 10 years ago? sheesh), and I was a former Jersey girl just moved to the Rocky Mountains to be the sole employee on a ranch that served as an animal sanctuary, in the middle of nowhere.

I had a lot of work to do, and I did 99% of it alone, and much of it was physical labor that left my mind unoccupied.

So I occupied it with podcasts. Primarily, I Should Be Writing.

Mur started ISBW as a way to help keep herself on track with her own writing, which she struggled for consistency in (hence the title). She has read her own books aloud on the show (hello, Heaven series, I remember you!) but mostly it is a podcast that is perfect for beginning writers. Mur shares great tips and pieces of advice for writers, and also discusses her own personal struggles, successes, and more. I love the sense of companionship this podcast brings me. Even after listening to it for over 10 years (dear god that makes me feel old), I still get so much out of it.

Listen here.

2. Ditch Diggers

Ditch Diggers is the meaner, drunker, and more technical version of ISBW. This is run by Mur Lafferty again, as well as her intrepid cohost, Matt F*cking Wallace (I am not kidding). While ISBW is intended for new writers that need encouragement, Ditch Diggers is created for seasoned writers that need to know about the business of writing -- about keeping on digging those ditches (it's a metaphor, okay).

It's crass, it's hilarious, it's fun to listen to, and most of all it's filled with really important conversations about writing and making money off of it that not too many people are having -- and we need to have those conversations. And they host great interviews with writer pros that are not to be missed.

Mur and Matt also field listener questions (they answered one of mine last year, and it literally made me so fangirlishly happy), so be sure to tweet at or email them if you have something you'd like them to discuss.

Listen here.

3. The Couragemakers Podcast

This podcast from Meg of That Hummingbird Life is not solely about writing. It's about making, doing, and being in any and all ways, and provides sparkly, kind kicks in the pants. We all know that creating, writing, and making is not always easy, and definitely not for the faint of heart. It can be hard, and it can be scary.

Meg is here to help you keep on going and keep believing in yourself and your work. In her words, it will help you make the world a better place. Tune in for real talk, encouragement, and interviews with some fantastic guests. It is guaranteed to leave you feeling warm, fuzzy, and inspired.

Listen here.

4. Smart B*tches, Trashy Books

I listen to the Smart B*tches for fun. And they are fun. I mean, isn't the name of their podcast and site just fun? ALL HAIL THE B*TCHES.

Seriously, though, this is a great podcast all about the romance genre. Not necessarily writing it, although they certainly talk about that sometimes, and always interview authors. Instead, it is generally geared for romance readers. On the podcast as well as the SBTB website you can find reviews, recommendations, and a ton of great interviews.

Okay, I don't listen to this podcast just for fun. I also listen to it because it keeps me going when I feel like my own writing career will never "get there," or I feel like romance might not actually be real art (whatever that means), or whatever. When I need my sass cup filled up, I go to the Smart B*tches. They have never failed me yet.

Listen here.

Okay I've told you mine, now you tell me yours -- what are some of your favorite writing/creativity/bookish podcasts?

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How to Survive the Fear of Creating

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How to Survive the Fear of Creating

fear and creativity

I have to tell you a secret:

Writing scares the shit out of me.

Unfortunately (maybe?), it's also something I love dearly, and is The Thing I want to do with my life. It's also my most proficient skill.

I first began to realize that writing scares me about ten years ago. Sessions of penning fiction at my computer would trigger the eating disordered behavior I was fighting at the time, sending me into a binge or a frenzy of over-exercising and food restriction.

November was the worst time of the year for me, because I would participate in National Novel Writing Month. I'd enter the month with so much excitement, but by the time NaNoWriMo had finished, I'd find my mental health compromised.

I eventually quit writing.

It wasn't worth it, I reasoned. Once I'd come to the understanding of how writing triggered me, I didn't see how I could continue doing it, when it seemed to be harming me.

So I quit.

But I missed it. Words meant (and mean) so much to me. They were my first love. I wanted them.

I wrote poetry. That was easier. I could create them in short bursts, and I didn't have to sustain mentally in the way that a novel-length project requires. I fell (back) in love with writing.

I'd found a way to write without feeling like I was hurting myself.

And yet . . . I still missed writing fiction. Every time I picked up a fiction book, I burned to write my own stories again.

I decided to experiment.

I told myself I would write a romance novel. My previous novels had been rather dark and emotional. Why not try writing something lighter that had to end with a happily ever after?

I tried it.

I did it.

THE LIGHT BETWEEN US was the result.

My mental health seemed to slip a bit . . . but certainly not as much as before. After all, at that point I had years' more therapy under my belt, as well as a prescription anti-depressant in my aresenal.

More than that, I had developed a greater self-awareness. That helped a lot.

I was so proud of myself. I'd done it. Pressed through and realized my dream.

I published THE LIGHT BETWEEN US. I made a lot of mistakes. But still, readers seemed to like it. I was thrilled.

I wanted to write more.

It took me over three years to write and publish my next book and sequel to my first, FINDING ME AND YOU. So . . . what the hell happened, right?

The fact is that, even though I have grown so much as a person, writing fiction still scares me. There is something about creating stories that, while they are largely happy, require me to dig into my depths to produce.

There is darkness in my depths. There is abuse and loss and whispered lies from my childhood that became my inner voice.

My insides love to lie to me.

I suspect this is the same for every creator to some degree, no matter what demons hide inside. After all, that's why we have books like The War of Art and Big Magic (subtitle: Creative Living Beyond Fear), right?

Making shit is scary.

Making shit that you hope is good and then releasing it into the world is even scarier.

And there is so much that is unknown, especially at the beginning. Sure, the first 5,000 words of any project usually is pure fun for me . . . but it also feels like jumping off a cliff without knowing if you're wearing a parachute. You don't know if you'll be able to create the book you envision, and if you do, if people will like it or buy it or if your mom will read it and be mortified by that sexy scene or or or or.

Writing -- creating -- is an act of faith.

I'm not very good at believing these days. I've never been good at believing in myself.

However, I am making peace more and more with the fact that the interplay of fear and faith is an inevitable part of the creation process.

That's not easy.

But it's part of the gig. For me, anyway. Maybe for you, too?

To get through, I make sure to support myself in specific ways:

1. Try to Nail the Basics

Writing is hard work. It takes a toll on the body as well as the mind. So when I'm cranking out a novel-length project, I try to nail the basics of self-care: getting enough water, nutrition, movement, recreation, and sleep (this one is extra important!). You can't draw from an empty well, and that statement is only cliché because it's so true.

2. Work at a Sustainable Pace

Writing books at breakneck speed is becoming more and more trendy. From NaNoWriMo to how-to books teaching how to write a full-length book in a week, speed is the name of the game, especially for indie authors. And for good reason -- the more books you produce, the more you can ride momentum to success. You keep your name fresh in readers' minds, which is fantastic. And obviously, more books means more earning potential.

However, just because it's fashionable, logical, or smart business doesn't mean that you have to write fast. I imagine that quickly penned books are going to require more editing anyway. And speed is certainly not worth it if it breaks you and burns you out.

So write sustainably. Pick a daily word count goal and stick with it. Personally, I find that 2,000 words a day is the most I can write on a daily basis without burning out in the course of writing a single book.

3. Take Inspiration Breaks

We all know the advice -- fill your creative well. Well, do it! While trips to your local museum or that walk along the river might seem frivolous, they are essential to the creativity process. Take in beauty to turn out beauty.

For me, while I am creatively fed by museums, theater, and musical performances, the form of nourishment that is most accessible and essential to me are books. To write fiction, I must read fiction. And I don't read only fiction, but I have to make sure that I consume fiction regularly to support my own writings.

4. Learn

For me, a lot of the fear in the creative process is fear of the unknown. While I can't do much about that, I can mitigate it by developing myself professionally. I try to make sure that I keep learning and growing as a writer by trying new techniques and reading craft books. I'm currently reading Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing by Helen Cixous.

This can also help you learn more about your fear. Don't be scared of exploring your fear, becoming more aware of it. Self-knowledge is only an asset. Finding out what you're afraid of and why is a way to turn your fear into strength.

5. Find Community

Finally, surround yourself with supportive community. They don't have to be writers, but it's a definite bonus if they're creative and/or entrepreneurial and/or ambitious in some way. Not only will they be great sounding boards, but their risks and breakthroughs and successes will inspire your own (and yours them). Don't go it alone. Find your people, online or in person, and form a creative cadre.

Fear in writing is normal. Fear in writing is part of the process. It sucks, but that's the gig. The prize waiting on the other side of the fear, however, is more than worth exploring your fear's genesis and enduring its discomfort.

How do you press through and into your fear? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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A LIGHT BETWEEN US Short Story

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A LIGHT BETWEEN US Short Story

I'm back at it. Writing, I mean. It's both comforting and terrifying. Is that normal? 😂✨☕️

I took some time off after publishing FINDING ME AND YOU  because honestly? I was terrified. Terrified of having a book out there, of it being not good enough...and of it being good, too.
There was a hefty dose of vulnerability hangover in there, too. It takes guts to publish a book, I believe, and it's something that I forget -- that it's an act of courage and hope, which is a large energy expenditure, and which necessitates a recovery period.

I didn't give myself a recovery period.

So it forced itself on me.

Whoops.

So...I'm learning (or trying to) from this experience and insight, and now I'm back at the keyboard.

Right now I'm writing a short companion story to THE LIGHT BETWEEN US  books, told from the perspective of Padme, a favorite supporting character of readers. I'm having fun getting in her head a little more, and also revealing further peeks into Ruth and Derek's lives together.

And you know how I said it would be a short story? Well . . . I wrote 2,000 words of it yesterday, and it feels like it's barely begun. So maybe it'll end up being a novella. We'll see.

I'm about to post those 2,000 words in a separate patrons-only post on Patreon, so be sure to sign up to get access to it -- it's just $1 a month, and it helps me pay for the significant costs that go into indie publishing a great book. Thank you for considering it!

And with that . . . back into the writing den I go. And by "writing den," I mean Starbucks, armed with a mug of drip coffee that's as big as my face.

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Mabel's Story Begins

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Mabel's Story Begins

I've begun.

Writing, that is. Or really, planning, and then writing. A new story.

Mabel's story.

I'm really excited about this one. I don't want to reveal too much yet, as I'm still in the plotting stage, but I can tell you that ghosts and a love triangle will be involved.

I've also created a Pinterest board to hold all my visual inspiration for it. Want to take a peek inside my brains? Here ya go:

I've also started a Patreon page where you can partner with me in the production of such books like Mabel's. I need help financing a professional editor, and for as little as $1 a month, you can help me with that -- AND get instant access to ALL of my writing AS I write it.

So you don't have to wait for a couple months to read Mabel's story. You can start reading its early drafts right away.

Sound good? Get all the details and sign up here!

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Release Day + A Book Sale!

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Release Day + A Book Sale!

It's release day!!

FINDING ME AND YOU  is officially out.

Thank you so much to everyone who pre-ordered...I hope you love reading it! Some books I write for me, and some books I write for you. This one was all for you. 

To help celebrate, for today only, THE LIGHT BETWEEN US is *free* for Kindle. This is the book that comes before FINDING ME AND YOU. Happy Valentine's Day! 

Get THE LIGHT BETWEEN US in print and on Kindle :: HERE.
Get FINDING ME AND YOU in print and on Kindle :: HERE

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The Playlist for FINDING ME AND YOU + What Comes Next

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The Playlist for FINDING ME AND YOU + What Comes Next

I absolutely love it when writers offer peeks into the process that went into my favorite books. It makes the stories come even more alive, and feel more personal and intimate. 

So I thought that I would do the same thing for you. Here is the playlist for Finding Me and You. I think it tells the story of Ruth and Derek in music quite well, although I'd love to hear what your take is on it once you've read the books. Listen for free on Spotify here, or checkout the playlist embedded at the end of this post.

I can't believe that FINDING ME AND YOU officially releases tomorrow. It will be available for Kindle and also in print, which I didn't think I'd be able to make happen, but am so happy that I did! 

While I'm so excited for tomorrow's release, my mind is already pressing on to the next. Yes -- the next book (!!!). I may write a short story with Padme (from THE LIGHT BETWEEN US and FINDING ME AND YOU) as the main character, or save that for another time and start something totally fresh.

It's so interesting -- tomorrow is the big day for you, my amazing readers, but the happiest day for me was three days ago, when I submitted the final manuscript of FINDING ME AND YOU and sat back in euphoric relief, the book out of my hands. And tomorrow, it will be in yours. It's going to be great, and while you're reading, I'll be getting back to the writing. Because it always comes back to the writing for me. And maybe you, too?

While you're waiting for the official release of FINDING ME AND YOU TOMORROW, be sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. The giveaway closes tonight!

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GIVEAWAY: Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

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GIVEAWAY: Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Valentine's Day is drawing near, which means that so is the release of FINDING ME AND YOU, sequel to THE LIGHT BETWEEN US. I'm so excited! I can't wait to share the rest of Ruth and Derek's love story with you. 

To celebrate the release of FINDING ME AND YOU, I thought we'd have a little fun -- with a giveaway!! 

Enter our fun giveaway for a chance to win a $25* Amazon Gift Card!

To enter the giveaway, complete as many of the following options as possible. The more you do, the more chances you have to win! Be sure to check the corresponding box off as you complete each option so that your entries are registered.

Have fun, and good luck! The winner will be announced on February 14th -- the launch day of FINDING ME AND YOU. Yay!

 

*$25 USD

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A Sneak Peek Inside FINDING ME AND YOU

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A Sneak Peek Inside FINDING ME AND YOU

Here's a sneak peek at some of the writing I did on FINDING ME AND YOU today. And yep, it's a sex scene. Enjoy. :) 

Ruth threw herself onto the bed in the rustically decorated cabin, heaving a giant sigh of relief. Upon arrival at the ranch, she, Derek, and Padme had managed to not only evade her own parents, but had also beaten Derek’s parents back and had avoided meeting any more reuniting Stone family members. Derek had shown Padme to the cabin that his parents had designated for her, then led Ruth to the one they’d share.

“It’s quite progressive of your folks, giving us a cabin for the both of us,” said Ruth as Derek rummaged in his suitcase, extracting a fresh blue button down shirt, peeling his travel worn work attire off. “If it was my parents, they would’ve given us separate cabins even after the wedding.”

“My parents haven’t ever really been critical of my sex life,” said Derek, pausing topless. “They were hippies, did the whole free love thing. As long as I’m safe, they’re happy.”

Ruth lifted her head from the bed, her fiancé’s bare torso suddenly very appealing. With a sultry grin, she rose and crossed the forest green carpet to Derek, placing her hands on his chest. He dropped his old clothes onto the floor and tossed his clean shirt back into his suitcase and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close.

“Well, Mr. Stone,” she murmured, leaning her lips up to the tender expanse of his neck, making him shiver. “Shall we thank your parents for their liberal views by practicing our own version of free love?”

Derek feigned shock, pulling back a little even while he tightened his grip around her belly. “Free love,” he said, mockingly aghast. “What are you not telling me?”

She laughed, and trailed feathery kisses along his jawline in response. 

He groaned, feeling his own response start to strain against the inside of his slacks. Twisting away from her teasing kisses, he found her lips with his and kissed her, hard. Ruth drew back for a moment with a little gasp, then caught her breath and returned the kiss just as firmly. 

Then their hands were flying, tugging at this buckle and releasing that clasp, fast and needy, their breath loud with desire in the cozy interior of the cabin. 

Free of their clothing, Ruth fell back onto the bed, tugging Derek on top of her, into her, a loud groan erupting from both of them in unison at the meeting. He retreated and slammed into her, rough and indelicate, and she nipped at his shoulder, his lips, moaning her approval. 

Everything inside of her began to close, to draw together, exquisite tension pulling her deepest places in before she exploded, loud and hard, arms and legs wrapped around her lover as he pumped into her, his own climax washing over him as he rode the waves of hers, melding his hoarse cries with hers, a tangle of salt and skin and desperate feeling.

They lay together, still entwined, tucked into one another as they listened to their breaths slow to the peace of cathartic relief.

Preorder FINDING ME AND YOU, or read the book that came before it, THE LIGHT BETWEEN US. Both available on Kindle!

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