Kindle and Paranormal Romance Giveaway

Just a quick little blog to tell you about this really cool giveaway. You can enter to win a Kindle Fire 7 and a bunch of amazing paranormal romance novels (mine included!) I think there might even be some spicier ones in there, (menage…bikers…bears? oh my?) Check out the link and enter to win!

https://cravebooks.com/giveaway/group/october-2022-paranormal-romance-list-building-giveaway

Ode To The Trail

In the spirit of this monumental week (bookending the days with a mountain writing retreat and probably the death of me by trail marathon on Saturday) I give you a short and sweet look at what trail running will do for a soul and what we can learn from a steady state of being present. Enjoy.

Nothing about trail running is easy.  I mean, sure for some skinny running-all-his-life-young-mountain-goat type it’s probably a walk in the park.   But for me, aging-used-to-flat streets-and-shady-neighborhoods, its one of the most challenging things I’ve done.  I like running.  I like hiking.  I hate combining the two.  Not just because it is difficult but it takes the worst parts of both and combines them. 

Running down a sidewalk in the cool and quiet morning is a practice in meditation for me.  My mind can wander; it can go over plot lines or character traits, dialogues and settings.  It can breeze over life’s complicated spider webs of responsibilities and desires.  Hiking up a rocky and single-tract trail, in the middle of the beautiful and chaotic dance of nature, stopping to smell the sun soaked dirt and hear the clicking of bugs as they dodge past your ear is good for the primal soul within.

But when you combine the two, your mind cannot wander.  It must remain focused, because the speed of your journey is encumbered and dangerous, riddled with rocks and snakes and jagged-reaching branches.  You cannot look around beyond the future path of your feet because you will surely falter. Your feet are twisted and tripped and if you aren’t living solely in that specific moment of forward motion, you could end up rolling down a yucca spiked hill and planting face-first in the delicate sharp tear-drops of cactus.

Trail running is hard, not just because of the altitude, or the climbing, or the sheer terror of descending down rocky terrain at a speed that threatens my control.  It’s hard because it forces me to live in a specific moment.  I can only look ahead briefly, I cannot plan the next mile, only the next footfall.  It is hard.  But it’s also a brilliant lesson in staying focused in the moment you are in. 

Very often I get ahead of myself, even more so, I falter back into the past.  It’s comforting to go back in my mind to the places I’ve been and the people I knew.  Its exciting to imagine where I will go in the future, and easy to build it into much bigger dream than attainable.  But to live in the now, with what I have to work with and what lies directly on my path makes me get out of my head and truly live.  And that, my friends, is hard.

Edit Somber: Part II

Today, I’m rerunning a blog from a couple of years ago. It’s interesting that I’m yet again in the editing process…and oddly enough, it’s the same book. Only it’s not the same book. This book is much better. It has grown from a gangly little ugly duckling, into a less gangly, slightly less ugly, near-adult swan. Ok, that makes it seem like it hasn’t improved, which doesn’t say much for my first foray into editing it. But it has. This round of edits comes from an incredibly talented and experienced editor from the publisher the book was picked up by. So, it has progressed, and it goes to show, that every book can always be better.

But, after a few hours of starting the first round of collaborations, I realized that old habits concerning editing for writers, can be hard to break. While I know my bugaboos, and I’m infinitely better at accepting constructive advice and putting aside my writerly pride, than I once was, it can still feel daunting when faced with all of those track changes remarks. I’m here to remind you, in this process to don’t give in when it gets daunting. Don’t give in to pride, when what you’re being told makes sense. So, without further ado, here’s a little piece on editing.

EDIT SOMBER

Nope, that’s not a typo. You’ve all heard the adage (or if you’re a writer worth their Peter DeVries salt you have…)

“Write drunk, Edit sober.”

I’m not going to recommend you write drunk. You can… It’s totally possible, and more often than not, highly amusing the morning after. Unlike the headache you’ll be nursing.

DeVries’ meaning was simpler. Write with abandon, in love, fervent and without inhibition. Lower your boundaries and kiss the words you wouldn’t normally, dance with phrases you’d been afraid to hold in your arms. Grab the lampshade of crazy plot twist and wear that son-of-a-bitch as a hat while you twirl through the story.

But in the morning…edit like you’re highly regretful and aiming to pinpoint every mistake you’d made the night before so as to never repeat the debauchery again. Be remorseful. Be judgemental, and like the Spanish Inquisition, show no mercy.

I’m in, let’s say the twelfth round of editing on my WIP. A round that was inspired by a recent submission editor’s advice. This time I’m proceeding with a more somber attitude, one that knows I wrote it, in part, like a drunken idiot and now have dropped my ego enough to be receptive to the advice.

Never before have I been so close to getting a traditional publishing contract for one of my books. Part of this is due to a more polished product (it’s not my first rodeo…or book kids), a more general genre and subject (why do people shy away from paranormal romances and hot ghost sex?), and, I like to think, a cute, relatable plot that’s just enough dark to be interesting.

So, I’m buckling down and doing what I was told to help get this baby off the ground. I’m about thirty pages in and catching some of the ‘problems’ that were brought to my attention. But as I work, I have a concern:

How much of myself and my voice am I taking out of this thing to appeal to the personal likes/dislikes of one editor.

So we come back to somber. Serious. Earnest. Grave. Unsmiling.

Sometimes there are hoops we have to jump through to get to where we want to go. Sometimes we have to shelve our pride and ego and be willing to see past what we love about our work to what could be better.

How do we make sure it’s not just some dime-store novella like the fifty other ones on the shelf? How do I make sure, with all the dead darlings lying beside my computer, that its still my story?

I don’t know those answers exactly, but I’ll tell you what I do know.

I know my characters and the way they react to situations and each other. And where my grammatical prowess may be lacking, I will always stay loyal to them first. When the critique is centered on prepositions or wordy description, I can be earnest in cutting it clean. And not only will my story be stronger, it will be easier to read…hopefully to the point where hands don’t want to let go of it until they finish “just one more chapter”.

So my advice for this week is this:

Take good advice from people in the industry who know when it comes to the technical mishaps of your work. Take the advice to tighten your writing from people who have to spend hours of their lives sifting through the slushiest of slush piles.

But always keep true to the drunken passion of your story that made your heart dance and giggle while it awkwardly pulled that plot line in for a kiss. Keep your story’s heart, but don’t be afraid to pluck it’s wayward eyebrows and wipe its nose.

Good luck, in whatever step you are of your process. Editing, writing, or contemplation of either.

Happy writing, kids!

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Poetry 9-22-22

Today’s poem was written on the night that Roe vs. Wade was cancelled out by a strange and uneven balance in our country. After a certain Senator’s insistence that it should be made Federal Law…I thought it was time to bring it out.

I know the opinion differs but I think that we can all agree that the moment a human being’s own body is controlled by the government (made mostly of white and extremely privileged men) it is a bad turn of events. Any study of history tells us that when women are subjugated, the downfall of the society as a whole is not far behind.

So here’s a poem. If you’re offended, good. I hope you fucking are. Because if you’re offended a small part of you must recognize that it’s not your place, nor the governing body to tell any human that any one part of their biology is more important than their own life/dreams/heart/health/future. Any person with half a brain knows that being able to plan for and want a child means a happier, healthier and more productive society.

So read on. Or don’t. Write me a demeaning, threatening letter to prove that you really don’t actually care for human life and I’ll share it on the blog along with your email address. Share this with anyone who should know that they won’t stand alone as long as we all stand together.

And fuck Lindsey Graham…

I Fight

So this is for you

piggy tails and pink shirts

mohawks and punk rock and

discoverers of self

I fight for you

regardless of the future you envision

I fight for your right to choose it

To every mother,

daughter,

born daughter is a son

sister

aunt

grandmother

friend

I fight for your dreams

for the ideas and schemes

still settling in your soul

bigger than birthing babies

bigger than your womb

I fight for your life

when these things

turn toxic and would destroy you

if kept inside

I fight for your right to be human

to matter, beyond

your ability to propagate the species

You are not a broodmare

Not a human baby mill

You are greater than your single-cells

You are infinite and divine

and I fight for you

I will never stop fighting for you

for us

after eons of being

the ones denounced

and abused

the ones controlled

out of fear of our powerful force

to create

our strength in the long and

grinding trials of pain

out of the truth that we are greater

and more powerful

than they have ever aspired

I fight for our divinity

which caused them to put our faces

to the ground and

write religious texts

denouncing our evil natures

to keep us beneath,

out of need to control

the uncontrollable beauty

of life and power residing

not just in our bodies

but in our souls

For we were Lilith before we were eve

and we are divine

and our wombs are their birth places

and we are the power that seduces

and survives

and so we are not powerless

and I will fight for you

I will fight for me

I will fight

though I am tired

and I am worn thin and

I am hurt

and I am tired of fighting this fight

over and over

and over

souls and lives

the same battle since long ago

Still,

I will rise, again, and again,

to fight for every person,

born with a uterus,

that should be treated first

as a human

and never

as a maker of more insignificant men

hell bent on the destruction

of all that is more

than they can ever be.

Self-Reflection and Time

The beautiful part of writing your own blog is that, while you can stay with one theme, sometimes its nice to get off the written path and…improvise a bit. Coming up with a blog this week (after I have somehow misplaced my blog plan for the year) saw me wobbling between some kind of self-promotion, poetry, or writing advice.

Well, I haven’t refined a poem that I’m ready to share yet, and I often get annoyed with too much self-promotion (my own mostly). I have lots of writing advice, but today I want to talk about time.

Time is a tricky sort of celestial magic. It is elusive and easy to lose, yet feels infinite and ongoing. The problem is that humans have such short spans of it to spend. And the more we spend, the faster what we have left goes. It is relative, and yet some moments can stop it. Days are long, but years are short. And the amount we are given is never guaranteed, nor is it ever enough.

So what do you plan to do with the time you have left?

I realize that working, sleeping, eating, caring for family and general ‘stay alive’ skills factor in. I’m talking about the minutes when you have a breadth of time to yourself.

Just before bed.

Right after you wake up.

That 15 minute break at work

the 20 minutes your baby is napping

The 2 minutes, sitting in your car before the kids get out.

The hours on your hands when your nest is empty.

The Saturday morning, the Wednesday afternoon, the Tuesday night…

You see, I just had another birthday, and every year when that date rolls around (especially since hitting 40) there is an urgent sense of morbidity.

What if this is the year?

That I get hit by someone watching their phone instead of the road while I’m out running. That my dog (or one, or all in a congregated attack of cats) trips me down the stairs. That I throw myself in front of my children, (or someone else’s) when a random gunman open fires at the grocery store. That I catch a benign case of the flu and run myself into walking pneumonia, and stop breathing in the night.

That the shadow on my pancreas has become a full-fledged tumor.

What if this is the last year I have left?

What do I want leave behind? I’m not trying to be a downer, or anticipate death. But time…

Time doesn’t slow for any of us. And time can stop us, dead, with the slightest universal plot twist.

What if this is the last year you have left? What if it’s the last month?

We don’t have time to wait. There is never a perfect time to do what you’ve always wanted to do. We have a limited time offer to live.

I have moments to enjoy with my children. I have a lot more naps in the sun with my dog. I have mountains to climb, smiles to spread, joy to foster, power to reclaim, and hurtful patterns to break. I don’t want to waste another minute on people who do not see my worth. I don’t want to waste a second on making the same mistakes that robbed me of time, or dignity, or love. I have so many more books to write. I have so many more poems to scribble down. More students to teach. More coffee to drink. More places to travel. More steps, more breaths, more life. And I want to pack as much of it all in, to every moment I have available.

Make a list. Today. This very minute. Pretend that it is all you have left to hope for and not much time to make it a reality. And start today. This very minute.

Time is not on our side. It is a ever-quickening beast, thundering beside us, and gaining ground. Your job, tiny chess-piece of the infinite universe, is to learn to move, and love, and live, every single moment you are here. So that when that monitor blip begins to slow, and the metronome of your heart ticks to ever-expanding spaces of silence… you know that you spent every beat of it well.

Book Review: A Spider in The Garden

Hello!

I’ve been so excited to write this post, since I’ve been loving this book. But, because I’m a literary spazz, and have three to seven books I’m concurrently reading at any given time, it’s taken me a little bit longer to finish. This is in no way reflective of the work. On the absolute contrary, please enjoy a Review of Courtney Davis‘s urban fantasy romance, A Spider in The Garden.

A Spider in The Garden is an urban fantasy romance set in present day and follows our heroine Aranha who is a shapeshifter of ancient origins and the last of her kind. She’s a Webmaker, can take the form of a spider (different kinds but always the same markings) and uses her deadly skills to trap predatory and violent humans, liquify their insides, and feed off of them. Aranha is a kick-ass female, who still holds compassion for humankind. She saves a young werewolf from an abusive and dangerous parent and the two spend their days, living in fear of being discovered by their enemies. It’s all well and good until she meets Dag, a Daywalker (a vampire immune to the sun), and the original-made-for-mate of the Webmaker. The two reluctantly work together to bring down the nefarious plans of the Vampire group, who is staging a comeback of their ancestor, in hopes to be able to breed again.

Davis’ ability to build a believable, fun, and beautiful world is amazing. Her characters are well formed, have relatable faults and fears and are sexy as hell. (Imma need me a Daywalker, like…STAT). The dialogue is fun and snarky and the two main characters weave (yeah, that’s a spider reference) a delicious sexual tension throughout the book that makes it exciting and captivating, even up until the very end of the book. Davis’ does such a fantastic job building a great plot, with dynamic side characters, and delivering a good ending that wraps up the bow of this fun, action packed, and sexy story. I know that its’ a stand alone book, but I really want to see more from this world and these characters. And that’s how you know an author has done a good job telling you a story. Because you just don’t want it to end.

For more of Courtney’s work, please check out the link above. She has a new scifi/fantasy romance out, (Princess of Prias) that’s already on my kindle…but as I’ve been having so much fun reading about Webmakers and Daywalkers, I have to catch up with the other six books before I can start it.

Check out these fun reads, and keep supporting the authors you love by reviewing their work online and by telling your friends.

Happy Reading!

A Week Off

Good morning! If you’ve missed this post because you’re a link clicker then I must apologize. I’m on vacation this week, from teaching and training, from busy city life, and the normal rushed routine. I probably should take a break from writing as well, but lately I’ve been inspired by so many amazing people in the industry (Bernadette Marie, Courtney Davis, James Redmond, Calina and Saylet from “Shhh…We’re Reading Dirty Books”, my writing partner/mentor/coach Kerrie Flanagan, and the amazing group at Northern Colorado Writers as well as Wyoming Writers, Inc.) that it feels more like playing to write and I’m getting a lot of plot holes solved, new material written, and future projects planned.

Part of this inspiration and feeling like my brain is opening up like a flower to sunshine is that I am also taking a break from my social media accounts. Now I KNOW that it’s vital for an author to have a platform and a presence online and I respect that. The problem is that the programs and algorithms used on most of those sites are addictive. Even if your site is professional-based and you try not to interact with anything too volatile. Humans can’t help but be captivated by moving pictures, emotional stories, and the addictive ‘hits’ of clicking on ever-expanding information forums. Whether it’s an endless scroll of pit bull montages, emu interruptions, cats knocking shit off of tables, or the drama that finds and sinks talons into our stress response, it all occupies valuable creative space in our brains. I’ve been off the social media sauce since Saturday night and I actually feel pretty good.

Clearer.

Able to hear myself think…without so many other voices interjecting.

And when I’m bored or fidgety, instead of hopping on line to feed my constant need for entertainment, I’m writing. Or reading. Or running. Or meditating. Or sitting still and staring off into space and not thinking of anything in particular but how the sunshine feels on my back, or the cold nose of my dog, or my children’s laughter someplace in the house.

And letting my mind be bored and sit alone with itself has helped me reconnect with who I am, and what I want outside of the expectations of work and life, and social interactions. Rather than feeling the pressure of who I should be, and what I should want. Instead of stewing in past mistakes and regrets, or worrying over future anxieties of ‘what ifs’, I’m keeping my mind in the present, and focusing on the real moments I’m living, right now.

So, I’m sorry I’ll miss you online this week. Know that it’s a healing and healthy process for me and that I’ll be back sometime…filling your feeds with useless writing memes and loving all the pictures of your dogs and babies, celebrating your successes, and offering sympathy to your losses. But let’s be real for a moment, you don’t need my clicks to know that I love you. That I’m thinking about you. That I’m on the side of your happiness and wellbeing. Because of that I would ask that you try this out yourself. Just for a little while, enjoy some ‘radio silence’ and get to know yourself again.

See you soon.

Book Review: “Something Lost” by Bernadette Marie

Good morning ladies and gents. Once in a while, especially now that I’m trying to carve out more time in my packed days for reading, I like to offer up a review of some of the books I’ve read. In particular, I love being able to share authors with you who are great a story telling (fiction), offer excellent advice (nonfiction), and who’s styles are captivating, whether in fiction or nonfiction.

It makes it even more fun when it’s an author I’ve met and like, because I get more insights into their creative process, their style, and the quality of their work.

So, today, I’m reviewing “Something Lost” by Bernadette Marie, the first book in her Funerals and Weddings Series. Bernadette is an incredibly accomplished and prolific writer with more than 50 books published (Jesus, I’m slacking over here). She is also the head of 5 Prince Publishing as well as a mother of five (all boys…ya’ll this woman has raised 5. Boys.) And somehow, in her spare time she’s also earned a 2nd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do. So, she’s just all-around awesome. To find out more about her, her books, and audiobooks, please visit the links above.

Now onto “Something Lost“.

The book begins at the funeral of Coach Diaz, a beloved basketball coach, father and mentor. His favorite five players, now grown up, return to pay their respects. Among them, is Craig Turner, a once troubled youth who found balance and stability on his team and with Coach’s support. He also once dated the coach’s daughter, Rachel, despite being warned not to. The two meet and rekindle the flame after having lived through some rough and terrible events.

The book is so well written that the story almost plays out like a movie in your head. Readers experience the ups and downs of a relationship that has painful ties to the past, while hope for a different kind of future. Bernadette’s ability to connect readers to her characters through their emotional honest and head-on exploration of hard topics like suicide, depression, self-harm, and abusive parents deepen this book into more than just an average romance novel. “Something Lost” explores what it is to be human, what we do to survive terrible loss, and how we come back from it to be stronger people still capable of honesty and love. The story moves quickly and the chemistry between Rachel and Craig is playful and heated.

I love that Bernadette Marie gives such sexual power and freedom to her female leads. One of my favorite parts about the book is how Rachel admits and prides herself on the fact that she means to seduce Craig and make him hers. And she’s strongly determined in this goal. Another brilliant and timely theme in the book is about the awareness of mental health, the openness of the characters in talking about it, supporting one another, and justifying the importance of it with seeking help and being active participants in their healing process. It’s an important concept that is long overdue to be accepted and practiced in mainstream. I’ve always believed that genre fiction stands as a bellwether for societal change and Marie approaches it with love, respect, and honesty.

The character dynamics between the main characters are wonderful, passionate and sweet, but the dynamics between the side characters (the other members of the team, Rachel’s mother and brother, and her best friend) help to build an interesting world of connected lives that are each unique. This is an art for any author writing series as it makes the reader want to know more about the ‘side’ characters, and promotes the next books focusing on them.

All in all, I loved being able to wind down at the end of a busy day with this book. It wasn’t that it was mindless–quite the contrary, it was a way for my overworked brain to relax and let someone else tell a good story to me. I’ll definately be checking out the rest of this series and all of her titles. With over 50, it should keep me in books for at least a couple of years.

Westbury Falls is Live!!! And Other Cool Stuff

Two promotion blogs back to back? What the hell have I become? A corporate lackey? No–just an artist who’s excited to share her work as well as the work of some really stellar writers.

First things first. Westbury Falls is now available per chapter on Vella and here’s the link:

Westbury Falls

But why read it, you say, if I’ve gotten it up to chapter 10 for free here?

Well, because I’ve added things, changed the chapters around, and you’ll actually get to know what happens when things get steamier beneath all those layers of clothes and propriety. It’s a beautiful and intriguing mystery/sci-fi/steamy romance and I can’t wait to see how it ends (I’m mean–I’m pretty sure I know how it’ll end) Also, per legal reasons, I’m removing it from my website.

The good news is: You can read the first three episodes for free, and the tokens for subsequent chapters are really…really…inexpensive. (Like, I’ll make maybe $3.49 for everytime someone reads the whole book) So if nothing else, you’ll be supporting your friendly neighborhood author for a price less than a cup of coffee.

Second: My charming, delightful and wonderful co-paneling author and friend, Courtney Davis just released her newest book “Princess of Prias” (click on the title to take you directly to the order page). Davis is an author with 5 Prince Publishing, a wonderful small publishing company founded here in Colorado that has a fantastic and diverse line up of romance writers. Check out more of their titles here:

5 Prince Publishing

I’ll be doing some book reviews in the next few weeks of some of 5 Prince Publishing’s major authors as well as some of the cool writers I met with over Fan Expo.

Because I don’t want this to be entirely about promotion, here’s a little writing advice for the week:

I’m in the thick of my first real edits for my 8th novel and I’m realizing that I’m rewriting a great deal of it from scratch. But although its labor-intensive, I’m crafting a story that I like even more than the original and building a world that I want to spend some time in (say two more novels at least?) At the same time I’m trying to multi-market my work as much as possible. I sometimes wonder if I’m spreading my creative energy too thin. This is a new world for writers and authors. We are our own marketing staff. We have to have an online presence and a platform, and still manage to find the time to actually write and edit books.

Don’t forget your purpose. Don’t get so bogged down in the business side of writing that you forget to come back to the joy that drove you to start. I once heard someone say, “Don’t let your ambition get in the way of your joy” and that really struck me. I also believe that when we start with our joy, it is easier to believe in it and feel good about sharing it with others. So here’s the advice…let your joy be the source of your ambition, but make time to enjoy what you love without the endgame always being financial success.

Catching Up and A Whole Lotta Links

Just a quick blog this week to let you know I’ve finally gotten Westbury Falls set up on Kindle Vella, and the first episode will be available Sunday, July 10th. I’ll send a link out via all the socials on it’s release date. There will be additional goodies written into the chapters, so even if you’ve been keeping up so far, you’ll get new insights to Lillian and Matthew’s adventures.

For those of you waiting for the next books (The Sweet Valley Series) I’m afraid you will have a little while longer to wait. I’m exploring some different opportunities but I guarantee that when I hear news you’ll hear it too. My goal is to have them out sooner rather than later.

Also worth mentioning. My science fiction adventure novella is now a completed audiocast! Here are the links in various formats to listen to it.

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/ff4ba549-f715-4fa8-b6f0-a6bc3b9727af/saturn-rising?refMarker=null&

https://www.audible.com/pd/Saturn-Rising-Podcast/B09SNLTJ6B

https://podbay.fm/p/saturn-rising

I’m so proud of this project, and love hearing the story brought to life. A thousand times a billion thanks to Ngano Press Studios and their amazing work. I hope I can collaborate with them in the future on other projects.

Submissions for The Beautiful Stuff Anthology 2023 are still open! Contact me here for more details or visit the submissions page to get a list of the rules. The theme is “A Beautiful Twist” and I’m accepting multiple formats (poetry, short story, flash fiction) of writing.

I attended the Fan Expo in Denver last weekend and was blown away by the amount of talented, generous, and wonderful writers in attendance. In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing up some reviews on their books and services they offer.

In the panels I was able to attend, I met a lot of beautiful humans, both readers and writers, and was able to engage in some great discussions about where the genre of Romance is headed, why it’s important to utilize it in other genres, and how to expand your audience and reach. All in all, it was a successful, fun, and engaging time and I wanted to thank everyone who stopped by.

I’m always heartened by how many people are out there, aspiring to write, working hard on finishing their works in progress, and struggling as we all do. Keep up the good fight. Keep writing. Don’t let life, distractions, or self-doubt kill that desire. Write. Write. Write.

That’s my quick catch-up and I hope in the next weeks to get you some book reviews, write ups on Point of View, how romance has changed and evolved, and what we can look forward to in the future with genre trends. Also, links to more of my work and some exciting things coming out.

Again, feel free to contact me with questions about submitting to the anthology!

Until then. Write. Write. Write.

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