Viewing entries in
writing

A Steamy, Geeky Book Excerpt

Comment

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.

Comment

A Free Romance Novel For You, Love

Comment

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!

Comment

A Sneak Peek Inside THE GALA GIRLS Book #1!

Comment

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!).

Comment

My Favorite Writing Podcasts

Comment

My Favorite Writing Podcasts

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 1.25.16 PM.png

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?

Comment

How to Survive the Fear of Creating

Comment

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!

Comment

A LIGHT BETWEEN US Short Story

Comment

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.

Comment

Mabel's Story Begins

Comment

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!

Comment

The Playlist for FINDING ME AND YOU + What Comes Next

2 Comments

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!

2 Comments