A Paperback Giveaway!

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Are you on Instagram? Because I’m having a giveaway of Breaking the Rules to celebrate the 4th of July weekend here in the US.

Link to enter is here.

In other news, it’s been interesting having a half-naked man on the cover of my book. When I brought it with me to my son’s class thinking I could proof it while waiting for him at the coffee shop next door (before the instructor asked me to stay with him the whole time for the rest of the week), I realized that I couldn’t just leave it face up without having to cover his torso with something, my phone, a small notebook… anything.

Maybe it’s just me but it garnered a few weird looks. Worse when I had to return to class and stay with the kid the whole time. Because I couldn’t put it inside my purse, it remained on the table face down the entire time. What’s the point of a cover, eh? But then, the Lego class wasn’t exactly its demographic now, was it?

The coffee shop was a different matter. It got me thinking about how reading romance is basically termed by many as “a guilty pleasure,” one where you wouldn’t necessarily flaunt your book cover just anywhere (or admit you like reading it) compared to, let’s say, the latest literary fiction book.

In many ways, it’s made me appreciate the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, no matter the controversy and criticism surrounding its narrative because it flung the door to “guilty pleasures” wide open—not that reading romance is a guilty pleasure compared to literary fiction; reading should be just that… reading.

I remember giving it the side-eye when I first heard about it and I haven’t seen the movies nor plan to mainly because the main actor, Jamie Dornan, sold me as a cold-blooded serial killer/family man in BBC’s The Fall and I can’t see him in anything else.

I’ve had friends and relatives tell me how they never knew BDSM existed until they read FSOG and wonder why I haven’t read it myself. The two reasons why are 1) because I know BDSM doesn’t work the way FSOG depicts it, and 2) I heard of FSOG when it was a Twilight fan fiction story called Masters of the Universe. It had such a huge following that when it was published by a small Australian press called The Writer’s Coffee Shop, it caught the attention of large publishing houses and in the end, Vintage, a subsidiary of Random House won the bidding war for it. It doesn’t even matter that the author changed only 11% of the material from Masters of the Univers Twilight fanfic, but Vintage considers it original work.

And while E-readers also made it possible for us to read whatever we want to read these days without anyone seeing the cover of the book we’re holding in our hands and judging us, it doesn’t mean we’re that comfortable shouting it on the rooftops that we like to read romances… or erotica or smut. My grandfather, a former mayor and judge, used to rip romance books I brought home from school. He didn’t care if it was something I borrowed from a classmate, it had no place in my life. To him, it was trash and there were no exceptions. It actually took me a long time to read romance and a much longer time to admit that I write them. Even now, on my personal FB page, it’s not something I announce to everyone I know that I write romance. it’s just not something any of my friends from school would even come out and admit that they read my books. Instead, I receive private messages telling me they enjoyed reading about Ashe and Riley or Dax and Harlow.

Maybe that’s just how things are depending on where you’re at…

BUT if you’re on Instagram and want to enter to win a book, go check out out my giveaway. I’ll be giving out more than one because we all know the adage, the more the merrier!

 

Winner Announcement!

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Congratulations to Jo P. for winning the Kindle Fire 7 plus $20 Amazon gift card!

And thank you to everyone who entered and helped celebrate the pre-order and launch of Breaking the Rules!

Breaking the Rules is LIVE!

Alma and Sawyer’s story is finally live and I hope you got yourself a copy. There is a little bit of faux pas on my part for Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Somehow I missed the deadline to upload last week and the aggregator automatically set the preorder on 6/26. So I’m off to fix that little problem but probably not until morning when someone can actually answer my email…

In the meantime, you can get your copy from Amazon and iBooks.

Get Your Copy

 

Crack Open A Window

 

EXCERPT

From Barstow, we make our way to Flagstaff. I sit in the back seat next to Tyler, entertaining him with the toys I’ve brought along with me. Sometimes I catch Sawyer watching us in the rearview mirror. Sometimes he catches me watching him.

It’s a harmless game between us and I’m grateful for the distraction. I’ve never met any of Sawyer’s girlfriends before but I’ve seen pictures of them, or at least, one of them, a petite woman with a pixie haircut who Drew told me was a massage therapist and yoga instructor. I vaguely remember Drew saying that she was the reason Sawyer spent a lot of time in Sedona although that was a few years ago. The only thing I know about Sawyer’s love life so far these days is that he doesn’t wear a ring.

“You sure you don’t want me to take over driving?” I ask when I catch him looking at me again.

“Nah, I’m good. Take a nap if you want, Al. I got this,” he replies as I lean back in my seat. “You don’t mind country music, do you?”

So far, our playlist has included Phish and the Dave Matthews Band. No country music—yet. “I’d never have figured you for a country music fan, Sawyer.”

“I’m cycling through all the songs on my phone so I think country is next. I don’t think Tyler would appreciate heavy metal.”

I laugh, shaking my head. “I know I won’t, not with him in the car, but country’s fine.”

Sawyer grins. “Country it is then.”

By the time Kip Moore’s Bittersweet Company plays on the radio, Tyler is fast asleep. I prop one of the neck pillows I brought with me against the window and close my eyes. With nothing to look at but barren landscape and cars and trucks zipping past, I might as well join Tyler in his nap.

When I wake up, Tyler is wide awake and kicking happily on one of the stuffed animals by his feet. Sawyer looks at me through the rearview mirror before focusing his attention back on the road ahead.

“Are we there yet?” I stretch my neck, my body starting to get sore from all the sitting.

“Almost. About ten minutes.”

“Oh, good.” I look at Tyler who seems so content in his car seat before I realize why. He’s busy concentrating. “Uh-oh! I think Ty just went number two.”

“Eight minutes,” Sawyer says as he hits the gas. “You may need to crack open a window.”


PREORDER

Amazon US https://amzn.to/2JFoRF0
Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2l6RFM4
Amazon CA https://amzn.to/2JBd66r
iBooks https://apple.co/2l3n6a2
Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/2HIa5LZ
Kobo http://bit.ly/2JwDrTc

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Have You Heard About My Giveaway?!

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No? Then let me tell you!

I’m celebrating the release of Breaking the Rules with a Kindle Fire 7 PLUS $20 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway and you can enter to win here.

Not only will you get a chance to win a Kindle Fire but you get $20 to buy all the books that are not mine haha. But seriously, you can buy so many books with $20 unless it’s Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s latest novel which will probably set you back $17.99, leaving you with only 2.01 left to buy another book.

There are many ways to enter, too. So many choices!

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So whatcha waiting for?

I’d also like to wish all the cool fathers and fatherly dudes out there a Happy Father’s Day!

Three Days

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Already the ARCs went out and I really hope readers will enjoy Alma and Sawyer’s story. The paperback will be delayed because it took me forever to get things started and my cover designer won’t work on it until next week. But one thing’s pretty sure: I think I’m ready to let go and hand it to the universe.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy from your favorite retailer!

Excerpt

Alma sits in the front passenger seat this time, with a clip-on mirror on the sun visor allowing her to check on Tyler who is yawning as I get on Interstate 40. From here it’s four more hours before we get to Taos. We talk about music for a while before she turns quiet again, propping her bare feet on the dashboard as she leans back in her seat. Before long, she’s asleep, the neck roll cushioning her head against the window.

The deafening pop comes half an hour later and smoke and remnants of the rear tire go flying behind the trailer. A shudder reverberates through the SUV just before the vehicle veers to the right. Behind me, the trailer swerves precariously toward the second lane, the car behind me swerving just in time to avoid us. I ease on the brake as best as I can and make my way toward the shoulder, my knuckles white against the steering wheel.

Everything would have been fine but as the SUV slows to a stop along the side of the interstate, I might as well have been on the edge of some Afghan’s farm with my unit seconds before Smith stepped on the IED, the smell of blood and sulfur filling the air. And instead of Alma’s startled gasp, I hear the shouts of my fellow Marines as we do what we can to get out of the line of gunfire and RPGs.

Getdowngetdowngetdown!

Four Days

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Songs have always inspired most of my stories and Breaking the Rules is no exception. For months, I agonized over the Prologue the way it appears. I’d take it out, rewrite the beginning and then put it back in and then rewrite the beginning again. I was too afraid that it would turn readers off—and I know it will. But if I played it safe with my stories, then what’s the point of telling them if I tell them guided by the fear of, “OMG what will they think?”

With four more days before the release of Breaking the Rules, I’m finally at a point where I can look at the whole picture (in this case, the book), pick out my favorite lines, and look back at the song that inspired the characters.

This is Alma’s:

EXCERPT

I take a few deep breaths, letting my gaze wander around the hotel room, the time, 3 AM, flashing in the semi-darkness. I wonder when the dreams will stop, when my fears will finally allow me to move on.

After all, wasn’t that why I took that apartment even when it was right next to a car repair shop? I’d allowed my apathy to take over after Drew’s death, the guilt I carried spilling over everything I touched. I’d always prided myself as someone who was able to get up and move on quickly but Drew’s death was something else. The guilt was worse.

But things are different now. I’m taking control of my life and this time, I’m determined not to let my grief and apathy win.

Five More Days

While finalizing the playlist for Breaking the Rules, I realized I hadn’t shared some of the songs that inspired the story. There are a few but I’ll start with Sawyer’s song, Are We Too Late by singer/songwriter Tom Leeb.

Excerpt

Half an hour later, I step out of Tyler’s nursery and find Sawyer drying the last of the dishes and putting them away in the cupboard. Tall, broad shoulders, slim hips, he’s perfect in every way. He even puts the dishes away.

“How was the water pressure?” I ask as he turns to face me, drying his hands and setting the towel on the rack.

“Just like dinner, perfect,” he replies.

I hate having to put him on the spot but I don’t want to play any more games. “Sawyer, about the other day–”

“I’m not sorry for kissing you.”

“I’m not either. But why do I feel like you’re pulling away?”

“Because I promised Drew I’d take care of you, not take advantage of you.”

“Who says you’re taking advantage of me?” I ask. “You’ve helped me more than anyone I know. You offered this place when you didn’t have to. You drove with us when you could have flown instead. That’s not taking advantage of me at all. That’s being a… a good friend.”

“That’s the problem, Al,” he murmurs as he closes the space between us. “I don’t want to be just a friend.”

PREORDER

Amazon US https://amzn.to/2JFoRF0
Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2l6RFM4
Amazon CA https://amzn.to/2JBd66r
iBooks https://apple.co/2l3n6a2
Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/2HIa5LZ
Kobo http://bit.ly/2JwDrTc

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A Line I’m Not Going To Cross #teasertuesday

As I follow Dax inside, I’m struck by how quiet the Pearl is. The twins would have been running up to greet me by now and begging me to play with them. I was never into kids but that changed with DJ and Ani-Pea. And now, Tyler. “Where’s everyone?”

“Harlow and the kids are at your girlfriend’s place,” Dax replies. “They’re having a play date.”

“A play date?” I suddenly realize I never got around to introduce Alma to Harlow. I’d been too busy trying to appear cool and pretending she needed her space. “When did they meet?”

“The other day.” Dax walks to the kitchen and takes two beers from the refrigerator. He tosses one toward me. “Harlow and the kids dropped by to welcome her to the neighborhood and they hit it off right away. You never told me she was a kindergarten teacher, Sawyer. Now, she and Harlow are talking lesson plans for the twins.”

“Wow,” is the only thing I can say. No wonder Alma never called me. She’s been busy.

“The kids get along, too, so that’s a huge bonus,” Dax adds.

“She’s not my girlfriend, by the way,” I mutter.

“She isn’t?” Dax looks at me quizzically and then shrugs. “Oh, okay. I figured she was since you guys drove from LA together.”

“She isn’t,” I say again. “She’s my best friend’s wife. The one who died last year.”

“So she’s a widow.”

I pretend not to notice my mistake. “Yeah.”

“Oh, okay.” Dax pops open his beer and takes a sip. It’s probably killing him that I’m being tight-lipped about Alma. But why shouldn’t I be? She’s my best friend’s widow, and that’s a line I’m not going to cross—or at least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself since this all began.

Just One #teasertuesday

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I hand Tyler to him who doesn’t protest one bit, his attention riveted by the house in front of him, his eyes wide. Biting my lip, I take the keys from his hand, and with trembling fingers unlock the door. Sawyer follows behind me as I step inside and the first things I notice are the plants. They’re in planters right inside the south-facing windows and another one in front of the living room and kitchen. I recognize herbs and vegetables like kale and broccoli, snap peas and green onions.

“This is amazing,” I whisper as I stand in the middle of the living room with its stone floors and adobe walls, some of them inlaid with the glass bottle bricks he was telling me about earlier. Sure enough, they reflect light from outside and cast different colored hues on the opposite wall.

“I’m glad you like it, Al. I hope you’ll enjoy it here at the Willow,” he says as he guides me through the house, telling me about the features common in Earthships like air vents that I’ll need to open during the day to allow hot air out and shut at night, as well as the solar power panels, a water filtration unit, and a recirculation unit for the planters. There’s a washer and dryer that runs completely from converted solar power, as well as a full kitchen setup with a stove and oven, refrigerator and microwave, and a big-screen TV. Other than being located in the middle of nowhere, it looks just like a regular house. Just a tad quirky but beautiful.

By the time he hands me the lease to review and sign, I’m in tears.

“Oh, Alma,” Sawyer murmurs as he pulls me against his chest with Tyler sandwiched in the middle. My body is wracked with sobs that I can’t stop, like a dam finally breaking.

“I’m so sorry, Sawyer. I don’t mean to be so emotional like this.”

“It’s okay. I’d have been offended if you didn’t feel anything. I worked hard on this thing,” he whispers, chuckling and I’m grateful for his sense of humor. In his arms, his manly scent envelops me, reminding me of the ocean blended with sage.

“Maybe it’s all that sage everywhere,” I say, sniffling as I pull away. Can I be any more emotional? It’s just a house. “It’s cleansing the hell out of me, that’s for sure.”

“Maybe,” Sawyer says as a truck pulls up next to my SUV. “That should be Todd. He’s going to help me unload the trailer.”

“Oh, he didn’t have to, Sawyer,” I protest. “I can do that.”

“We both wanted to,” he says. “Seriously, Alma, just tell us where you want the stuff and we’ll put it there. No questions asked. The Villier brothers are here to help.”

“Oh, Sawyer, with words like that, you’ll have women lined up from the main road for days,” I say, laughing as I wipe the tears from my face. I’m happy for the change between us, as if we’re back to the way we’ve always been. Friends.

“Nah, no women. Just one.”

I laugh just as Todd knocks on the door, asking if anyone is home. But Sawyer’s not laughing as he watches me. He’s serious.

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Make It Your Best

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“Make it your best. Every time. Anything less is, well, less, and could lose you a reader that might have loved your later, better work. Readers are won and lost one at a time, and they’re very easy to lose and extremely difficult to gain. I have zero compunction about improving my offerings whenever possible.” – Russel Blake

I remember posting this two years ago on my older author blog before I did a name change and I’m glad it showed up again on my FB timeline so I can grab it and post it here as a reminder. It’s why I constantly tweak my earlier books until they’re as good as they can be… unless the audiobook is out then I can’t touch it 😂

In the writing front, I’m 10K words into the new release after starting over from scratch. The release date has been pushed all the way to June which is too far for my taste but for the sake of my sanity, it has to be. It’s really more a cushion and will allow me to release the book earlier once it’s ready. It’s currently only available for preorder on iBooks at the moment because I’ve been too distracted to post it anywhere else. I haven’t even done the cover reveal because I think the cover could be better (but I usually think that when it’s a cover I created outside of the series branding which is my cover designer’s job).

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Why does it look like my heroes are graduating to certain levels of undress? 

My usual level of angst (which was totally missing in Falling for Jordan) is back and I’m loving Sawyer the way he’s fleshing out, word by word. I think with each book I’m writing after the overwhelm of book marketing and promotion, I’m slowly finding that balance.

It means letting go of expectations and doing my best all at the same time. It means turning off Facebook and other social media so I can write even though I want to cancel my account altogether because of the current climate—but then, what doesn’t FB know about me between my personal accounts that connect me to family back home and my author persona? As a romance author, that’s also where my readers are.

So it’s business as usual and it’s back to the words. What do you think of the new cover for Breaking the Rules?

#WIP Wednesay

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Breaking the Rules is currently on preorder only on iBooks at the moment. I haven’t set it up elsewhere but that’s on my to-do list for this week. It most likely won’t be on preorder on Amazon but I’ll decide when it’s closer to release date which is in June.