Musings

No More Net… or Happy Book Birthday, Harlow and Dax!

Three years ago this month, I released my fourth book. It was a story that had been percolating inside my head about an older woman who falls in love with a much younger man. Originally planned as a novella, one that would have tons of funny and steamy scenes, it would end up taking a different road all its own the moment I sat down to write the first chapter.

I didn’t even know the heroine’s name that night in May. I just knew that she was on some kind of vacation in the Southwest, a place I’d been to in the past and had fallen in love with. There was just one catch.

This was one vacation she planned never to return from.

And so the original steamy lighthearted novella turned into something different but one that I realized was a story I wanted so badly to write. I had to write it like my life depended on it.

Around this time, I had already written three books, all of them commercial failures. I had been so close to quitting writing altogether and heaven knows what my friends and family thought of me and my sad attempt at being a writer. But something inside me decided to give it one more try. One more book.

One more story.

And so, I quit my massage teaching job that summer. I still had my main private practice even if it had already been cut back from five days a week to two days a week because of my son’s schedule which only made childcare costs more expensive because now I was paying per day instead of a monthly rate.

At this point, I’d lost whatever confidence I once had about being a decent writer. I really had no idea if I was good enough or not. I had no idea if the story would resonate with anyone outside of Wattpad (where I was posting each chapter). But I had to try. Quitting my teaching job which I had relied on for that extra boost of income was also that message to myself that said, no more net. Now show them what you got even if you have to bare your soul to do it.

For days and weeks after the book was done, I was so scared of letting it go. If I could have delayed the release, I would have simply because the book, to me, was too raw and too honest in parts. I had also changed my pen name and so people were basically seeing a brand new author at this point. Just another wannabe writer trying her hand in the author world.

But life has a way of reminding you that you’re on the right path. The singer-songwriter whose two songs inspired the book granted me his permission to include lyrics to one of the songs when I saw him perform in Los Angeles two weeks before the release, prompting me to go back and do those additions just in time.

There was no turning back now.

And so if my math is correct, October marks the third book birthday for Dax and Harlow’s story, Everything She Ever Wanted. It marked the official debut for my main pen name and it would remind me that you can’t sit back and wait for things to happen. You have to take that first step and put yourself out there.

You have to go after your dream, share your stories with those who need to read them and do it again and again and again.

I also learned that you do need to set a series bible and timeline but that’s a story for another day…

In the meantime, the ebook version of Everything She Ever Wanted is FREE for a limited time. It’s also available in paperback and audiobook.

When her husband leaves her for a younger woman, transplant surgeon Harlow James hits the open road and ends up in Taos, New Mexico hoping to find out where she went wrong.

Instead, she finds the perfect man.

Master woodworker Dax Drexel is gorgeous, funny, and represents every reason to keep going.

There’s only one problem: he’s too young.

But even if everything about Dax is perfect, can their fling stand a chance against the world that betrayed her… the same world she’s about to return to?

For Dax, a naked woman asleep in his bed when he thought his rental would have been available is the last thing he expected to find on his day off.

He could walk away… but he can’t.

For there’s something about Harlow James that he just can’t turn away from.

Sure, she’s thirteen years older than him, but she’s smart, independent, and beautiful.

She’s also broken.

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Still Behind

This is a quick update about my latest Work-in-Progress (WIP) and it’s not looking like I’m going to make my deadline.

I know. I can’t believe it either.

I thought I had my book solidly plotted but the further along I got, things didn’t feel right. Events and emotions seemed forced, and it wasn’t the characters talking. It was me, the ringmaster, ordering everyone where to go even when it wasn’t true to the characters established in the first book. And that’s the thing – the characters have to be true to the first book, back when I wrote things without plotting a darn thing. I just wrote.

But things are different now. For one thing, I need a timeline as my storylines are all over the place.

And so plotting, I found, was essential for this book even if it’s a prequel—especially since it’s the prequel—the book that introduces the world more thoroughly through the eyes of a popular side couple. A different world view and one that’s hopefully written through the eyes of a more mature and skilled writer.

Unfortunately most days I don’t feel like one.

Last week, I spent five full days writing 8k new words, changing the beginning completely. Then on the sixth day, I snapped out of my perfectionism problem and went back to the original story and from there, it’s been an uphill climb only because I want to get things right. Some days I write 2k words and other days, only 500 although I’m formulating the events of the story inside my head.

To help me do that, I’ve decided to participate in #inktober2019, an online challenge where you draw something in ink according to a prompt for each day of October. I don’t know if I can make it all the way till the end of the month but so far, the first three days are in the books. If anything, it’s teaching me to accept the works as they are in the amount of time I’ve given myself to finish each drawing (an hour, max)—imperfect and simple. It’s like a reminder for that story I’m writing.

Perfectly imperfect and simple.

Book Review: Coyote Dream by Jessica Stein-Davis

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There’s nothing like the feeling of discovering a book you can’t put down or stop thinking about and Coyote Dream by Jessica Davis-Stein is one of them. I read it in one evening two nights ago and boy, do I wish I had taken my time. So I am giving it a second go-around with the audiobook and I’m loving it as much as I did the first time.

Here’s the synopsis:

For Sarah Friedman – smart, sophisticated, urban woman – the chance to journey to the Southwest to buy American Indian art for her family’s successful New York store comes at a time of personal transition. Determined to put aside romantic disappointments, she seeks new perspectives in the serenity of the vast desert landscape. Then her car breaks down on a remote part of the Navajo reservation and fastpaced Sarah finds herself stranded in a slow brown world.

After years of turmoil, Ben Lonefeather has finally gained control of his life. Aloof and tightly wound, he devotes his time to work and caring for the coyotes he rescued as pups. When Sarah Friedman shows up stranded he wants to get rid of her as quickly as possible, and only grudgingly offers help.

The intersection of two lives that would not ordinarily have crossed for more than a moment deepens into a connection that leaves both of them passionately alive and profoundly changed. Within a layered collision of social spheres, Coyote Dream explores the tension between society’s surface and nature’s undercurrent.

This is a thoughtfully written multi-faceted love story about two people from different worlds and how the heart wants what it wants even if time, distance, and society’s expectations keep them apart. It’s about living your life on your own terms even if it means stepping out of everything you’ve always known. And that’s pretty much all I can say about it without spoiling anything.

You can find Coyote Dream at your favorite retailer by clicking this link: https://books2read.com/coyotedream

This is the only book that Los Angeles-based author Jessica Davis-Stein published and I’m sorry to learn that she passed away early this year. You can read her short stories and her blog posts on her blog here.

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Double Life #teasertuesday

Other Side of Love is the story of Sarah and Benny from A Different Kind of Love series. I can’t seem to work on anything but their story so I’m going to run with it. The events in their story happens ten years before Everything She Ever Wanted.

Musings Over Coffee: Spirit of the Wild Horse

I’m on Facebook reading a post by Judy Barnes who runs Spirit of the Wild Horse in Northern New Mexico and feeling heartbroken. She provides water for American mustangs who go to her ranch for water and right now, she’s got none at all. She relies on donations to replenish water for the horses who end up having to cross a busy highway to go to a ranch that has water and risk getting captured and slaughtered. Given that the Bureau of Land Management is culling the herds to take back land for cattle and gas or oil leases, Judy does what she can given that her ranch is in the perfect place to offer the horses water. She is an advocate for the wild horses, the same horses that BLM has sold for $10 each to individuals who then truck them to Mexico for slaughter. You can read more on Judy’s website.

Judy relies on donations to make sure the troughs are filled for the hundreds of horses who come. In the winter, she gets them hay. If you follow her on Facebook or her website, she talks about each of the horses and knows them by sight.

I donate each month to Spirit of the Wild Horse but she needs more to provide water for the horses every day. All donations are tax-deductible. So if you can spare a few dollars, please head on over to her website and donate, even if it’s a little bit. Every dollar counts. You can make a one-time donation or monthly, which is what I do.

Taos News recently did an article about her and her mission to save the wild horses and you can read it here.

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Mikey and Troy – image by Judy Barnes
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Bolt – image by Judy Barnes