One More Day

… and Friends with Benefits will be live!

And from what I’ve heard from my ARC readers, they are loving it! Campbell has become the favorite right after Dax (sorry, but Dax, I guess is always first for many readers and I can’t blame them).

It’s also really steamy…

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Here’s an excerpt:

We stumble onto my bed, giggling as we land on the soft covers. I can’t get enough of her. My mouth travels along her cheek to the sensitive skin behind her ear, feeling her shiver against me as I continue my exploration down her neck. Her hands undo the buttons of my shirt, tugging it loose from my pants.

“Roll over,” she whispers and circling her waist with one arm, I roll onto my back while bringing her on top of me. As she straddles me, the lights from the neighboring buildings and the city below illuminate her exquisite form, casting her ginger hair in an ethereal glow.

I hold my breath, watching her slip off her dress in a slow striptease that makes me want to pull her down to the bed so I can take over. But I don’t. I like watching Caitlin take charge. I love watching her be herself with me, only this time, in a way that’s only meant for me.

Clad in only her bra and panties, she resumes her mission of getting my shirt off and with a little help from me, succeeds with a grin before blazing a trail of warm kisses on my neck and chest, all the way down my stomach. I’m so hard, her sex pressing against my erection not helping in any way. She’s determined to tease and undress me and by God, I’m letting her do it.

Until I can’t.

“You’re determined to tease me, aren’t you?” I murmur as she starts to unbuckle my belt, biting her lower lip in concentration.

“Maybe,” she whispers. “I never realized you worked out. You’re ripped.”

I trace her thigh with my fingers. “Thank you. But you never asked.”

“You never took your shirt off whenever you stopped by the house.”

“I didn’t have a reason to. Besides, it’s also been a year since I’ve seen you. I missed you last time, remember?”

My belt buckle forgotten, Caitlin slides up my body so we’re face to face again, her hair cascading along the sides of my face. I can smell her shampoo, sage and lavender. “Of course, I remember. I missed you. My partner in crime was MIA.”

“I was working, but I missed you, too.”

“No, you didn’t. You were traveling. Italy from what I heard.”

“Doesn’t mean I wasn’t working.” I gather her hair in my hand and push it to the side as we lapse into silence. I can feel her watching me, studying me. “What are you looking at?”

“You,” she replies, stroking my stubble with the back of her hand. “You’re all grown up.”

“I’m not the only one, Cait.”

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There are also two more days left to download Falling for Jordan for free. It’s where you get to meet Campbell and Caitlin for the first time before you get to dive into their story when it goes live on November 20.

Falling for Jordan http://getbook.at/jordan

Friends with Benefits http://getbook.at/campbell

Check out the series on Kindle Unlimited http://getbook.at/differentlove

 

 

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.”

Tuesday Word Count

I wanted to write this last night but my mind was done after writing 3,133 words. Yup, 3,133 words for a total word count last night of 16k and change.

Today, I added more words for a total of 18,276. That leaves me with the dilemma of not using this story for the box set because we’re only at the middle of the story…. which also brings the chance of me losing that $100 come September 7 when the story is due.

Because even with my diligent outlining/plotting, it turns out I’m still pantser after all… or at least, I’m the type of writer who allows my characters to take the reins and run with the story relegating me to the job of the writer who chases after them, pen and paper in hand.

And that’s the way I like to write them, like writing a steamy sex scene running close to 2,500 words, feels and all.

And since it’s still Tuesday in my neck of the woods (with seven minutes to spare before the strike of midnight), I’m going to throw in a sneak peek for #TeaserTuesday. This is Campbell and Caitlin right after they see Hamilton the Musical at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in Manhattan.

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“Thank you, Cam. This was just amazing. Now I can’t get the lyrics out of my head.”

“You’re welcome, although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with lyrics being stuck in your head. Just don’t suddenly break out in song. Or if you do, give me a warning.” I move my arm from her shoulder. “You ready to head home?”

Caitlin’s brow furrows. “You’re taking me home already?”

“Actually, I was thinking maybe we could go to my apartment and hang out a bit. Come to think of it, you never got to see the tree all lit up.”

Caitlin bites her lower lip as she smiles. It’s a playful smile that makes the knot in my belly tighten. “That’s right. I haven’t.”

Suddenly all I see are the signs that I’ve fought so hard to ignore plain as day. How much longer can I go flirting with her when the last thing I want is to jeopardize my friendship with her older brother? Jordan is my best friend, or as he loves to say, my brother from another mother. He helped get me through the toughest times in my life, brought me into his family and he trusts me with his sister. If I truly value my friendship with Jordan and his family, I need to put an end to this madness now. I need to stop stringing Caitlin along and make her believe something’s going to happen.

But is that what I really want?

“Let’s go,” I say, my voice barely a whisper as I get up, knowing the moment I take her hand that there’s no way I can let her go now.

We make it to my apartment in twenty minutes and by the time we walk through the door, we’ve had it with the self-control. I know I have. It took all of my willpower not to kiss her in the cab or the theater or the bar. It took the last thread of self-control not to kiss her in the elevator. But as soon as the door shuts behind us, it feels like a dam breaking and one touch of her hand on my face, stroking my stubble in the semi-darkness is all it takes for me to let go—that and thanking my lucky stars I hadn’t set the timer for the Christmas tree or all this tension that’s built up between us all night would have gone to hell.

“Cait…”

That’s all I can say before I lower my head and kiss her. While I’d done my best to act cool around Caitlin the entire evening, it left a part of me almost distant, closed off only because I didn’t know how she’d react. I kept second-guessing every touch, every smile, every time she sneaked a glance at my direction during the musical. When I held her hand, squeezing it as an emotional scene played onstage, I suddenly felt alive, as if a real live connection had been established between us. No more guessing.

But there’s nothing like a kiss to seal the deal as I lose myself in the taste of her lips and the exquisite feel of her tongue. It’s heaven in a kiss I’d never experienced before and like a man in search of the sublime, I want more. My hands move along her sides, slipping inside her coat to feel her soft curves and the warmth of her skin from underneath her dress.

“Our coats… they’re in the way,” she mumbles as she lets go of my neck and shrugs off her purse and her coat, her hands tugging at my shirt from under my coat.

“Cait, are you sure?”

She looks up at me with her big green eyes and my breath catches in my throat. God, she’s so beautiful. So what the hell am I doing? Why the hell am I stopping her when this is exactly what I want, too?

Happy Endings

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There are rumblings on social media over what romance really is as a genre. Some state that all you need is a glimmer of hope for a story to be labeled a romance like, let’s say, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes or The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks*.

Therefore, a Happily-Ever-After (HEA) or a Happy-For-Now (HFA) is not exactly required. Allegedly.

I don’t know about you but can #romance just have one thing that’s entirely ours, like a happy ending? That’s really the only requirement for a story to be considered a romance. The happy ending. The journey of two people (or more, if you’re talking about Menage, Harem, or Reverse Harem romances) amid conflict and obstacles toward that HEA or HFN.

The argument about what romance is and isn’t had me looking back at the books I’ve read when I was much younger. Outside of the classics, the first novel I read was my mother’s copy of Harold Robbins’ The Adventurers, clearly not a romance because the Prologue (that’s also an Epilogue) already tells you that the hero is dead. Then there was also my mother’s copy of Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough, clearly not a romance because we know what happens to Father Ralph and Meggie. Not a happy ending.

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And then there’s P.S. I Love You by Barbara Conklin from Sweet Dreams Romance, which was handed down to me by a friend. I can never forget the cover because I got so sucked into this romance only to find out it wasn’t! Talk about an unhappy ending…

That taught me to be careful about books labeled “romance” because many are NOT romances but love stories. It also taught me to skip to the ending, because I’ve had trust issues since reading P.S. I Love You.

Yet for some reason, a lot of people insist that #romance books don’t have to have a happy ending. Um, yes, they do. Everything else doesn’t have to have a happy ending like literary fiction, women’s fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, mysteries, thrillers, and George R.R. Martin, so why insist that #romance not have it as well?

It’s the only reason I read and write romance—for that happy ending… and not in the massage kinda way.

*Sparks, by the way, insists he does not write romance.

“I haven’t written a single book that could even be accepted as a romance novel. I mean, there’s a completely different voice. They’ve got very specific structures; they’ve got very specific character dilemmas; they end completely differently; and they’ve got certain character arcs that are required in their characters — I do none of those things.

It’s like you might as well say, ‘Why have I been bothered by not being called a thriller writer?’ Because I’m not –- that’s not what I write.”

Source: So What Do You Do, Nicholas Sparks, Bestselling Romance Novelist?

Image by Tom Pumford

 

 

Sunday Word Count #excerpt

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I got to 680 before everyone woke up and it’s time to get off the computer and step outside for a while.

That’s 11109 words into my holiday novella and so far, I think I may have found my groove. Caitlin and Campbell seem to be cruising right along and I couldn’t be happier. I’m hoping to get at least 2k more words in by tomorrow so crossing my fingers!

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at a section that I just finished.

***

By the time we make it to the theatre, the mere brush of his hand on my elbow or my hand leaves me feeling giddy, and somehow I can’t help but assume it’s no longer accidental. Even the theatre disappears whenever Campbell turns to look at me, all my senses heightened and focused on what he’s doing, on the words he’s saying. When he holds my hand as we make our way to the lobby during the intermission, I don’t see anyone else.

How long has it been since I’ve been with a man? Somehow I draw a blank. All I remember are the first dates that barely made it to first base, much less the second, my mind constantly on my research projects, meetings with my advisor, and that unwavering goal of making it to graduation and then finding a job.

But for tonight, I’m willing to toss all that out the window. I’m having way too much fun being with a man I’ve always felt safe with, my brother’s best friend and the boy next door. Only this time, something’s different. Somewhere between then and now, Campbell Murphy grew up and I never saw it until now.

Authorly Distractions: Pinterest

Here we go again. I’m stuck. Again.

Yup, it’s that same WIP again. Sawyer’s story that was supposed to be filled with so much angst and heartache. Apparently, subconscious writer-me isn’t exactly down with that and so Naughty Pen has been getting all the words instead. For Sawyer, I haven’t written a thing beyond the angsty prologue (that did nothing for the story at all but sometimes you got to write 3K words to know it’s a terrible idea to start with a prologue) and that’s seven weeks and counting.

So what’s a writer to do? 

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Why, she goes on Pinterest, of course!

Distraction! Anything to remind her that she has better things to do than write! So she starts going through her Pinterest boards and organizing them by book. She makes pretty graphics so they’d all look uniform, and there’s even a board specifically for her Naughty Pen. No, she doesn’t say who it is but she has her steamy inspiration in there… for research.

I’ve had these boards forever but never got around to organizing them so they’ll look nice at first glance and now I have and I wonder what took me so long. I may even have to download the app for my phone even though I know it will be huge time-suck if I do.

After all, this girl’s gotta write.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day and here I am, enthralled with this young ice skating couple representing France, Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres. They’ll be competing in the Olympics with this routine (if they haven’t already done so) and I wish them all the very best.

They’re simply pure poetry on the ice and with the way I can’t stop watching them, I’m bound to have characters by the names of Vanessa and Morgan pretty soon. I haven’t cared for pairs ice skating for as long as I can remember, but when I saw this couple three weeks ago, that was it. I love them.

Anyway, for Valentine’s Day, I’ll probably treat myself to a nice cup of coffee and a cookie and then drop the kid off at school and pick him up after I do some writing because heaven knows, I am so behind. It’s a Wednesday after all and there’s no rest for the weary.

Not even on Valentine’s Day.

There will be roses, probably, something I’ll teach my son that women love to receive flowers on Valentine’s day. He hasn’t quite gotten the meaning of certain days yet; he thinks every special day is HIS day and so he’s the one who should get the cake, the flowers, and definitely the presents.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, one of my books is free for a limited time. It’s Date Night, the one with quite a bit of sex in it, a collection of short stories beginning with Esme and Evan and couples some of you may recognize, Ashe/Riley, Heath/Billie, Sam/Erik, and Dax/Harlow.

Enjoy!

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