#teasertuesday: “That’s My Personal Number”

“Have dinner with me, Alannah,” he says before looking around us. “Somewhere more private than this.”

“That would be a mistake, Parker, and you know it. We didn’t really end on good terms.” And that would be putting it mildly. How long did it take me to pick up the pieces after he said what we had was over?

“Have dinner with me anyway.” He pulls out a card and a pen from his breast pocket, writes something down on the back of it, and slides it across the table toward me. “That’s my personal cell phone number.”

“Parker–”

His beeper buzzes then and he takes the last bite of his bacon. “I’ve got a meeting in five minutes. I hate to leave you but–”

“I know the drill, so no need to apologize,” I say as he gets up from the table. “I’ll be fine.”

He glances at his card, still on the table. “Think about dinner and call me. In fact, just call me. We need to talk.”

I almost tell him we really have nothing left to talk about but by the time I find the words, Parker has left the table. He’s also managed to undo me… again.

Celebrating my New Release with a Giveaway and Some Balance!

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I wish I planned things better but it’s better late than never, right? So one day after the release of my latest book OTHER SIDE OF LOVE, I’m celebrating with a giveaway!

To enter, just click on the image above or this link. And good luck!

I had a really good reason for being late, actually. I spent yesterday morning walking with a dear friend, feeding ducks, and catching up on things. Jackie used to be my walking buddy until I simply dropped off the face of the earth this year… basically burnout and other stuff.

But I’m back on the schedule and tomorrow I get to attend my first Tai-chi class! It’s the balance I desperately need after the imbalance of the last year and I may even have found my sweet spot as far as writing goes. Instead of sitting at my desk for hours at a time only to end up spending most of that time surfing the Internet, I get up at around six in the morning and write for about an hour. No checking email or opening the browser. Just me and my Ulysses app putting down the words.

Then at seven or so, I get up from my desk and start making breakfast for the LilDude. After I drop him off at school, I then go for my walk and then run errands. Then when I return home from the walk or errands, I sit down and write for another hour. Maybe I’ll spend that hour doing marketing/promotion stuff. Maybe some personal stuff like renewing my passport or whatever, but I’ve been more mindful about my time since I felt like myself again in the last two weeks. I’ve even reached out to people to let them know I’m back.

It’s the balance I need and so far, it’s going good. I’m going to be printing out the schedule soon and laminating it, just like I laminate my kid’s schedule! Who knew I need those things more than he does?!

Who knows?! I might even finally delegate!

 

Other Side of Love is LIVE!

I’m combining #teasertuesday with a #newrelease post today because… well, why not?! I’ll also keep it short and sweet!

If you like your contemporary romance with family life and emotional angst, then Sarah and Benny’s got your number. Here’s the blurb with the links to major retailers.

Half-Navajo Benny Turner has lived his life straddling two worlds, never quite feeling he belongs to either one without constantly having to prove himself.

But just when he decides to settle down on the reservation for good, he runs into Sarah Drexel, the only woman he’s always wanted but convinced himself he could never have… until now.

Duty or love? Which one will he choose?

AMAZON ➭ https://geni.us/RPsOtk

IBOOKS ➭ https://geni.us/NzGS32

NOOK ➭ https://geni.us/4oG6

KOBO ➭ https://geni.us/dpwOAN

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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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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Weekly Update #amwriting

I took this photo during my first trip to the Frick Collection in New York’s Upper West Side three years ago this week. It was from a free paper I picked up along the way and I still have it three years later. Sometimes I see the photo posted on other people’s social media feeds and it makes me happy knowing that the saying (and the photo) still makes its rounds years later.

It’s also a quaint reminder of why I write.

Now to the writing update…

So this week, I completed about 28k words but edited thousands out so my final word count is 23k. This is also the point of the story where I start to question myself and have to go back to the outline I had written. This is because I am faced with the option of extending the word count since, most likely, I will not be including the story in that holiday box set that requires closed-doors sex scenes. That’s not to say that the box set is a “clean romance” set. It’s just a holiday Romance box set featuring closed-door sex scenes. Unfortunately, I keep mistakenly referring to it as “clean romance” which baffles some readers and fellow authors as to why I signed up to be in a clean romance set when I write steamy romance stories.

Thing is, I didn’t sign up to be in a clean romance box set. I signed up to be part of a holiday romance box set with closed door sex scenes and no C, D, and F words. That I can’t remove the sex scenes without having my hero look like douchebag and the heroine a slut is simply one of the disadvantages of my style of deep POV writing.

This term “clean romance” also had me wondering. If a clean romance set meant no sex, what is a romance book WITH sex? The antonym to “clean” is dirty. So does that mean novels with steamy scenes in it are classified as dirty romance?

Oh, well… here’s an excerpt in the meantime.

I turn my attention back to the tree, not wanting to ruin a beautiful moment between longtime friends because in the end, that’s what we are—friends. Who cares if we’re sitting on a faux sheepskin rug buck naked? Besides, it had been my decision to have sex—and boy, other than the guilt I’m feeling right now, it was the best decision ever. I’ve always known Campbell to be this quiet, intense and driven kid and I’d never once considered him as anything but a friend mainly because I grew up with him. He’s the boy next door and whenever we get together, my partner in crime.

Who knew that between the sheets, he’s amazing? His hands, his mouth, his… I bite my lip. No, better not go there.

Still, I may not have the experience to make such a declaration that he’s an amazing lover—after all, I’ve only been with two men before tonight—but I’ve also never felt so comfortable, so sexy and so gorgeous with any man before. The way he makes love is just beyond words. And even if I could find the words, I won’t because most of it can’t be described using the alphabet, at least, not in a coherent arrangement.

I turn my head to look at him. I never realized how thick his lashes are. “I wanted it to happen, Cam.”

Campbell kisses my shoulder. “I did, too.”

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!