A Peek Inside "Accidental Valentine"


A Peek Inside "Accidental Valentine"

My steamy Valentine’s romance, Accidental Valentine, is officially launched and available!

Want a peek inside the short but oh-so-sweet story? You got it — keep reading to enjoy the first couple of chapters . . .

💋 Chapter One 💋

✨ Beau ✨

I lean back from the architectural plan sprawled out on the table before me, chewing my lip as I consider my work. Ms. Edwards is particularly fastidious, set on creating and owning the quirkiest house in our small western town — but at half the price of what such a house would normally cost. I’ve been trying to find ways to cut corners on the fenestration while still sketching in the spots of flair and character that she expects. 

It is, in other words, a huge pain in my ass.

My cell phone rings and I reach for it, eager for a mental break from the Edwards plans. 
Until I see that it’s from my mother.

It’s mid February, just a few days until Valentine’s Day, and I know exactly why she’s calling.

There’s no point in avoiding her call, though. You can’t hide in a town this small, no matter how much it’s growing. And it is growing, quickly, which is great for business.

Still. As tempting as it is to ignore the phone, I know it would be an exercise in futility.

“Hey, Mom. What’s up?” The words are tired even to my own ears. I brace myself for what’s coming.

“Beau, I just wanted to touch base with you about —“

“The annual Valentine’s square dance?” I finish.

She makes a noise of amusement. “How’d you know, dear? It’s like you read my mind.”

“Well,” I said, voice wry, “I know just how much this event means to you.” I know it a little too well, actually, I add silently.

“You’re planning on being there?”

As if I have a choice. “Of course.”

“Excellent. Now, I’ve got a partner all set for you. She’s a lovely girl from —“

“You don’t have to do that, you know.” I sigh. “I really would rather you didn’t.”

“This is important, Beau. You can’t show up to the big dance alone.”

“The scandal.” I roll my eyes.

She misses the point. “Exactly.” I picture her nodding her head vigorously, her bleached blonde halo of meticulously arranged curls bobbing.

“You know, I actually thought I might find my own partner this year.” I speak without thinking. 
Silence descends over the line for a moment.

“You’ve already got a partner lined up?” she asks.

“Yeah.” I know I should not be saying this — I know that odds are I won’t be able to follow through on such a promise, knowing how picky I am — but I can’t stop myself. 

Another pause. “And you’re sure.” Her words are not a question.

“Mom.” I square my shoulders and lie through my teeth, ignoring the knot of doubt tightening in my gut. “Trust me. I’ve got this.”

Her voice brightens as if illuminated by a rare day of winter sunshine. “Well, I must say, that’s refreshing to hear, dear. I can’t wait to meet her.”

“Yeah,” I say again, the knot in my belly pinching tighter. “You’re going to love her.”

I hang up the phone and lay it next to the architectural plans. Suddenly, this complicated project is not the most difficult thing in my life. 
Now I have to come up with a date to bring to square dance my parents host at their barn every Valentine’s Day — a task that I’ve attempted many years before, and failed at. 

Sure, our once tiny town is slowly but surely blossoming into a small city. But for someone who’s lived here his whole life — someone who knows the vast majority of the people who populate this corner of the world — it’s hard to find a thoughtful, interesting woman who gets my blood pumping. 

Most of the women I’ve met here are strong, capable, gun-toting mountain gals — but can’t hold a conversation about much more than the state football team, hunting season, and floating the river. 

I love all of those things. But I want more. An intelligent conversation about current events, or a book, or, hell, even a Netflix show. I want a woman to stimulate my mind as much as she stimulates my desire — and vice versa. 

That’s hard to find around here.

But I don’t have to find the girl of my dreams for this square dance. I just have to find a woman who will go.

That can’t be so difficult. Right?

I rub my eyes with the heels of my hands. Who am I kidding? This might take something of a miracle.

💋 Chapter Two 💋

✨ Scarlett ✨

I try not to slam my first graders’ chairs on top of their desks as I clean up the classroom at the end of the day. Celine, my fellow first grade teacher and classroom neighbor, is leaning in the door frame, chatting up a storm that has no end in sight.

“This Valentine’s Day is going to be so good,” she’s gushing, “I know it.” I’ve already been the sole audience for a detailed description of last year’s Valentine’s Day. And New Year’s. And Christmas. Her boyfriend is the best boyfriend ever — her words, not mine — and I wish she would just shut the fuck up about him and their apparently perfect long term relationship.

I finish putting the chairs up and move to empty the pencil sharpener, trying to shake out my grumpy feelings along with the shavings.

“I feel so lucky.” Celine emits a dramatic sigh worthy of a high school theater production. “Sam absolutely showers me with love and attention. Isn’t he the best?”

“The best,” I mutter, stalking to my desk and starting to sort the papers covering it. “He sounds swell.”

She doesn’t catch my less than enthusiastic tone. “I wonder if he’ll propose to me this year.” She turns to me, folding her hands and clutching them close to her heart like the most annoying Disney princess come to life. “Do you think he will, Scarlett? Do you?”

I manage to suppress an eye roll, but only just. “I don’t know, Celine.” I shove my laptop in my bag and shrug into my coat. “Maybe.”

She sighs again, practically swooning. She straightens as I cross the classroom toward her. “Do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day? I think it’s the saddest day of the year to be alone.”

This time I do roll my eyes, but it doesn’t phase my co-worker.

I hope you won’t be alone, Scarlett. You’re such a catch.”

Her words are earnest, and I know she means well, but something about them cuts. I give what I hope is a breezy laugh. “Of course I have plans,” I say as I click off the classroom lights. 

“Oh good,” she gushes, stepping out of the doorway so I can shut and lock the door. “What are you going to do?”

“Um,” I say. “It’s a surprise. Yeah. This guy I’m seeing wants to dazzle me with V-Day surprises.” With that I make a hasty retreat, practically running for the school’s main entrance. “See you tomorrow.”

“I can’t wait to hear all about,” Celine calls after me. “It’s going to be awesome.”

It would be awesome.

If it wasn’t a straight up lie.

The truth is, I can’t manage to find a guy who will go on more than one or two dates with me before he disappears, or tells me he met someone else that he’s getting serious with, or decides he’s not ready to date, or or or. 

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. All these guys want to grab a drink with me, but that’s it. It’s not like I’m even sleeping with them. 
It hurts a girl’s ego after a while.

Sometimes I wonder if my standards are too high. There are lots of guys in this place that wouldn’t mind settling down with me — if I would quit working and go full on stay-at-home-mom. Guys who don’t keep up with current events, guys with no interest in the arts, guys who don’t read anything more than their fantasy football team’s stats.

I could be married right now if I wanted that.

But I don’t.

I want more. 

Often I think moving here was a mistake. I came with romantic ideas of studly cowboys and dive bars filled with heart and community. Those fantasies have not exactly come to life.

But I love my job, which is the reason I came. It’s hard to get a good teaching gig in the big cities, because everyone wants to live there. Not as many want to relocate to a tiny, windswept town that sees more snow than sunshine each year.

I knew an opportunity when I saw one, and I took it. I don’t regret that.

I just wish it didn’t mean I had to be so damn lonely.

Stomping snow off my boots and settling into my car, I turn the key in the ignition and let the engine run, warming.

I know I shouldn’t let Celine get to me. I know I have a lot of good shit going for me here. But I can’t help it. Some stubborn part of me takes my co-worker’s question as a challenge.

I am going to have plans this Valentine’s Day. It might not be anywhere close to the lie I told Celine, but I am going to have fun this year instead of moping in my house, alone.

Setting my jaw, I put my car into drive and roll away from school, feeling an unfamiliar hope kindling in my heart.

Want to read the rest of Beau and Scarlett’s swoon-worthy story? You can grab it here — and it’s free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!


A Peek Inside "Our Happy Holiday"


A Peek Inside "Our Happy Holiday"

hot holiday romance book

My steamy Christmas romance, Our Happy Holiday, is officially launched and available!

Want a peek inside the saucy short story? You got it — keep reading to enjoy the first chapter . . .

🎄 Chapter One 🎄

✨ Holly ✨

I close the door of my house behind me and shrug off my coat. My home spreads quiet around me — a welcome refuge after the too-cheerful din of the university’s staff Christmas party tonight.

I can’t stop my lip from curling a little at the scene I’d just left — all my colleagues decked out in their holiday best to gather in the campus ballroom beneath the soft light of twinkle lights. There was a three course dinner, live music, dancing, even a Santa for couples to take their photos with. Everyone laughing, embracing, wishing each other well.

It was, in a word, excruciating.

I slip off my heels and head to the kitchen to pour myself a well-deserved glass of wine. I’d barely had any at the party, after all, and I wanted to wash away the memory of tonight. At least for a while.

I pad to the living room and, setting my wine on the coffee table, begin to build a fire in the stone fireplace. What I wanted more than anything was an cozy night snuggled up under a blanket with Netflix.

The old newspaper that I use as tinder begins to smoke and curl beneath the twin logs I set on top of the stack. I inhale the scent, relishing it. This is what I need — a real fire to warm me from the snow quietly falling against my town’s mountain backdrop, and no one expecting me to show a single ounce of cheer.

Something’s wrong. The smoke isn’t rising up the chimney but instead billows into my living room. I try to wave it away, coughing, so I can get a look inside the fireplace. But the smoke is so thick, burning my eyes. I open and close the flue damper, but that does nothing to help the situation.

Shit. I was so distracted by thinking about the staff party that I forgot to make sure the chimney was clear. I have a hunch that something is stuck in there, and low, too, even though I have no idea what.

I grab a poker and, closing my eyes and holding my breath, shove it up inside the chimney, feeling with its metal tip.

It doesn’t come up against anything, but that doesn’t mean my hunch is wrong. I take the bucket of water waiting next to the fireplace and slosh some of it over the infant flames. They hiss and go out, and I sigh with a small measure of relief — at least there’s no more smoke filling my house.

But I want my cozy fire — no, I need it. Everyone else might think this is the happiest time of the year, but it’s not for me. It’s the saddest.

I push the encroaching memories away. No, I’ve got a chimney to attend to. No time for moping.

Standing up, I dust my hands off on my short satin red dress, not caring if any soot gets on the shimmery fabric. Stalking toward the door, I throw my coat back on and shove my feet into the tall muck boots waiting there.

I head back outside, stamping through the snow for the storage shed. I rummage in there for a moment in the light of the waxing moon and emerge with a ladder and a flashlight. Hauling both to the side of my house, I set the ladder against the wall next to the chimney and begin my ascent.

“Do you need any help, ma’am?”

I freeze at the polite inquiry. Before turning, I know who the deep, liquid voice belongs to — my construction worker neighbor who is always tinkering on his house, and sticking his nose into my business anytime I try to work on mine.

Stifling an expletive or five, I look over my shoulder. Sure enough, it’s him, standing on his side of the fence between our properties. He’s wearing a heavy jacket and jeans that hug his hips in just the right way, and he’s got — I blink — what looks like a black streak of soot across his forehead.

“No, thank you,” I say through gritted teeth. I try to make the tone of my voice sound like a thick wall with a GET OUT sign tacked to it.

He keeps standing there, hands shoved in his pockets, a small smile playing over his lips. “Trouble with your chimney?” He lifts his chin toward my house.

I grind my teeth together. “Something like that.” I make to turn back to the task at hand, but this guy can’t stop talking.

“Funny,” he said, then stopped.

“What exactly is so funny?” I can’t help but ask, feeling my blood pressure rise.

“I had a bit of chimney trouble myself this evening.”

“What an intriguing coincidence,” I said, words devoid of amusement.

To hell with him. Nothing and nobody were going to keep me from my fire. I kept climbing the ladder.

“Yeah,” he continued, talking to my turned back. “I tried to start a fire in my hearth tonight, and ended up filling the room with smoke.”

I’m at the roof now, scanning for ice on the shingles, but his words catch my interest at last. “Really?”

He nods.

“That’s what happened to me just now,” I said slowly, hating to offer him anything like a conversation. “And that never happens when I make a fire here.”

“Me neither. Like I said,” he said, and I caught the hint of humor trimming his words like a garland, “funny.”

I give in with a sigh, turning toward him as much as I safely can on the ladder. “Okay, fine. I’ll bite. What was the deal with yours.”

That small smile gives way to an all out grin. “You’re not going to like it.”

I want to answer, How would you know what I do and do not like? But instead I swallow the words and say, “Spill it.” So much more polite. I roll my eyes at myself.

“Santa.” His voice is like hot cocoa, warm and sweet, and I can tell he’s enjoying himself.

I fix him with a flat stare. “Santa?”

He raises a single hand. “Scout’s honor.”

Shaking my head at myself, I resist the urge to grumble. “Okay, hang on, I’ll come down.”

I begin to the descend the ladder.

Later, I decide to blame the tight dress I’m wearing and the sips of wine I had inside. But it was probably more that I was distracted by that insufferable man, probably always thinking I can’t handle homeowner duties just because I’m a woman.

When my boot, caked with snow, slips against the slick metal rungs, I fling my torso forward to clutch at the sides of the ladder. Instead of steadying me, this only jolts the ladder from its position and causes it to keel over. I cling to it, eyes squeezing shut, bracing myself from a bone shaking collision with the frozen earth.

Instead, the stomach-turning fall ends in softness and warmth. I open my eyes to find strong arms somehow holding me, prying my cold grip from the ladder.

“Hey now,” he says, crooning as if I were a frightened fawn tangled in fencing wire. “Hey there. You’re okay. I’ve got you.”

My heart is leaping liking a wild reindeer, and I can’t tell if it’s from the fall or from his hand cradling my head as if it were a precious, fragile gift.

I also can’t decide if I want him to let me go or keep holding me close forever.

Want to read the rest of Holly and Dash’s hot holiday love story? You can grab it here — and it’s free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!


The "First Time Player" Geek Romance Book Playlist


The "First Time Player" Geek Romance Book Playlist

erotic deathly hallows geek romance book

I really love taking books, silent and stolid, and pairing them with the liquid energy and sound of music.

I’ve done that for First Time Player, which is releasing on December 22nd — just two days now!

Listen to the First Time Player playlist (below) ahead of time, or while you’re reading, then come back and let me know what you think!


A Steamy, Geeky Book Excerpt


A Steamy, Geeky Book Excerpt

Let’s get steamy.

I’m working on my forthcoming book, First Time Player, and am LOVING the chemistry between Lu and Wes.

In fact, I’m loving it so much that I couldn’t keep it to myself.

So! Here is a excerpt for your reading pleasure. Hope it doesn’t leave you too, um, bothered. ;)

Chapter 7


“And you, Wes — what do you want to do with me?” Her words were heavy with a bold and unabashed hunger. And yet they held a barely perceptible tremble of vulnerability that made Wes want to cradle her body close, not to blend their flesh into one — although he certainly wanted that, too — but to protect this woman whose brisk exterior only served to shield the sensitive soul it housed.

Some ancient instinct deep within him rose, wanting to be not only her lover but also her defender. I wondered if she would allow me to be either, or if she only wanted me for the night.

He thought about how, over the course of his life to this point, he’d lucked out on love even while he’d done so well in nearly every other endeavor he put his hand to. But for some reason, he seemed to attract women that only wanted what they saw without attending to his heart. They wanted his body, but for one night or two.

Wes wanted more. He wanted a woman who would let him pursue her, romance her, win her hand. He wanted a woman who would fall back in love with him, with his heart and mind. A woman to share life with.

He knew exactly what he wanted, and what most women offered him? That was exactly the opposite of his desires, and he never said yes to that which was not right for him.

So he’d retained his principles — and also his virginity.

Wes swallowed hard. He wondered if he, inexperienced as he was, could give Ana what her dark eyes were asking him for. And at the same time, everything in him longed to try.

He didn’t know if she wanted him for this night or a string of nights or for forever. She probably didn’t know herself.

But for some reason, with her, he didn’t care. Unlike every other woman who’d wanted him, he didn’t give a shit about how long Ana wanted him for. He would take anything and everything she was willing to give him.

Because this connection, this pull to each other that they both clearly felt — and had been feeling for a long time? He couldn’t walk away from it. He wouldn’t.

He looked at their fingers twisting together, and then at Ana’s eyes, where need and doubt swirled together.

“I want to be as close to you as you’ll allow,” he said, voice husky with his own hunger. “I’ll sit on a bench outside and hold your hand and watch the moon rise and set, or I’ll take you back to my hotel room and make love to you all night. I’ll do anything for you, and with you, Ana. What do you want?”

The worry washed from her eyes, and her full lips turned up at the corners. “I want you to kiss me. Now.”

Wes grinned. “I was hoping you might say that.”

He slid his hands around her waist, fingertips digging into those delicious curves, pulling her to him so that their hips pressed together. She reached up to Wes, clutching his collar and tugging his head down to hers. He hesitated a moment, teasing, lips a breath away, exhalations hot against each other’s faces. And then he tasted her, plying her mouth with his own.

The kiss was soft and hard at the same time, and she tasted like sweet fire and cinnamon. Wes pulled back to press his lips at the corners of her mouth, then crushed back into her full on. She gave a little sigh and yanked on his collar, opening her mouth and teasing his tongue with hers.

He could feel himself growing hard, ready, and he ground his pelvis against hers. She must have felt his arousal, because she grabbed a handful of his ass, drawing his hips into her even more.

Without warning she released him and stepped back, leaving Wes gasping and blinking in shock. The sudden space between them felt cold, drafty, and he longed to return to the heat of their embrace.

“Is everything okay?” he managed, struggling to get his body under control.

A flirty smile flickered across her face. Ana reached out a single hand without stepping closer, taking his.

“More than okay.” Tossing him a last searing glance over her shoulder, she headed for the door of the con bar, leading him by the hand. He followed, eager and willing to submit to her control.

Wes let her lead him through the venue’s foyer and to the main entrance. Here she paused, winding herself around him and flicked her tongue over his lips before diving in for a bottomless kiss that practically made him see stars.

It felt like the kiss lasted a moment, or forever. When she pulled away, she said, voice guttural. “I want you, Wes. Tonight. Take me to your hotel.”

He closed the space between them, cupping her face in his palms and planting blossoming kisses across her cheeks.

And then it was his turn to lead her, fingers entwined, his low belly pulsing with primal desire, ready to let Ana make him hers.

Wes and Lu's story releases December 31st. Grab your Kindle edition of First Time Player for just $0.99 here.


A Free Romance Novel For You, Love


A Free Romance Novel For You, Love

Free book alert!

Are you preordering my new sweet/hot geek romance First Time Player? (And, um, HUZZAH to a new sweet hot book coming out! it’s a nerd romance — yes please! I can’t wait to share this one with you!)

Send me a screenshot of your receipt and I'll send you a free surprise book!

Email your receipt to me at poppy(at)poppyparkes(dot)com and I’ll email you back with a free book.

And! Want a free excerpt to go with your free book? Join our Facebook community, Happily Ever After Addicts, and read the scene where Wes and Lu lock eyes for the first time in First Time Player.

Wes and Lu's story releases December 31st. Grab your Kindle edition of First Time Player for just $0.99 here.



A Sneak Peek Inside THE GALA GIRLS Book #1!


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!).


3 Reasons to Read Romance Novels When Everything Sucks


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!


My Favorite Writing Podcasts


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?


How to Survive the Fear of Creating


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!





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.


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.


Mabel's Story Begins


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!


Release Day + A Book Sale!


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


The Playlist for FINDING ME AND YOU + What Comes Next


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!


GIVEAWAY: Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card


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


A Sneak Peek Inside FINDING ME AND YOU


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!