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romance

A Peek Inside "Accidental Valentine"

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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.


Shit. 
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!

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A Peek Inside "Our Happy Holiday"

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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!

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A Steamy, Geeky Book Excerpt

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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

Wes

“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.

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A Free Romance Novel For You, Love

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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.

Yay!

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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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