The good, the bad, and the thoughtful.

With Bonded Beach out in the world, I’m starting to focus on the next book. The first draft is done, and I’m going to be feeling out for sensitivity readers for it soon – but first, the good and the bad.

 

Bad news first: Hanukkah Miracles will not be released until December. It’s a holiday-themed book (specially, Hanukkah), so waiting until then just makes sense. Plus that gives me plenty of time for editing and maybe setting up the marketing a little more thoroughly than I have recently. Two years ago, I was able to get slots for reviews and release notifications for my books with only about a month’s head start. Guess those days are over – a lot of places are now booked for their promotional activities six months in advance, which is why Bonded Beach hasn’t had much promotion going for it, poor book.

But this is good, especially for the good news: I plan to go wide with Hanukkah Miracles. In other words – it’s not going to be on just Amazon Kindle. I’m going to also release it on a few other platforms, too, and in multiple formats. I’m still looking into how best to do this, but I’m kind of excited about it. It does mean I won’t be able to submit the ebook into Kindle Unlimited, but it won’t be priced out of the market, either.

Why, you might ask, am I doing this? A couple of reasons. The first is that Hanukkah Miracles isn’t set in the Omegaverse. Yup, you read that right: no alphas or omegas, no heats or raging pheromones. (Raging hormones it will have aplenty, I assure you.) I don’t really have a concrete reason why, except that I was two or three chapters in when I realized, “Oh, wait, I forgot to talk about that part of it.” And then decided, “Eh! Whatever.” And kept on as I had begun.

And you know, I don’t think you’re going to miss it one bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Omegaverse, and I plan to keep on writing it. But it was a lot of fun to write without it, too.

I know there’s a theory that anytime an author changes genre, they should also use another pen name. (See Stephen King, see JK Rowling, see about half the romance authors out there, honestly.) And I get that, I truly do… but I’m not sure that’s the right move for me. For one thing, I’m not Stephen King or JK Rowling. I don’t have an incredible following for one specific thing. Also, I’m not shifting genres so drastically as they tend to do. I’m still writing M/M romance… just without the mpreg added in.

 

I’d also like to think the people who are reading my Omegaverse mpreg adventures are also out there reading regular m/m romance, too. Why change my name and make it more difficult for them to find me?

 

(And if I pick up any extra readers with a more generalized story… well. Maybe when they look at my back catalog, they’ll find a new genre they might enjoy.)

 

Now available, your next favorite beach read!

Looking for something to read while sitting comfortably near large bodies of water? Look no further! My newest release features a gorgeous beach-side resort, a sunset boat ride under the stars, and just in time to cool your fevered brow, a rainy day in Paris. Throw in two hot and sexy guys who think they’ve got this love-game conquered – and you’re in for a heck of a treat.

 

 

What Happens at Bonded Beach

Now Available on Amazon Kindle

$2.99 or free for KU subscribers

 

 

 

JAMAL PATTERSON WANTS TO FOCUS ON HIS CAREER.

Alpha Jamal Patterson hasn’t had a steady relationship in his entire life, and he’s never wanted one, either. When his next job involves photographing his favorite model at the infamous Bondell Beach Resort – known for allowing bonded couples only – that lifestyle proves to be a snag. His boss has a solution in mind – but Jamal takes one look at her “solution” and knows his heart is in big trouble.

BRYCE FULTON WANTS A CHANCE TO HAVE A CAREER.

Maybe secretarial work isn’t quite Omega Bryce Fulton’s childhood dream, but at least it’s in the fashion industry. Photo shoots in Paris aren’t meant for guys like him – especially with the secret he’s sure would get him fired. But when a cute photographer needs Bryce’s help to access an exclusive beach resort, Bryce gets the chance to have everything his heart – and his ambition – have always wanted.

ONCE THEY’VE WORKED TOGETHER – WILL THEY EVER BE ABLE TO WORK APART?

It’s the perfect plan: pretend to be a couple for two days. Jamal gets his photos, and Bryce gets to prove he can handle more responsibility. But Bonded Beach didn’t get its nickname for nothing. Now Bryce and Jamal are going to have to decide what’s really important: their careers, or each other.

It was such a trip writing this story – literally! I got to revisit a whole bunch of old loves of mine, from photography to the city of Paris to living in the big city. (The Parisian B&B I talk about in the book actually exists, and I’m more than happy to direct you to it if you’re looking for an adorable and convenient place to stay in that city.)

Plus I got to play with one of the most popular tropes: the fake relationship. I’ve never actually written this one before, but it was so much fun to do, I’m planning to write more.

Enough of that, though – what are you still doing here? Go! Get your copy! Don’t forget to apply sunscreen! And enjoy!

Summertime Reading!

For the second summer in a row, the boys and I have headed back to Arizona to stay with my parents. Partially this is because it’s too blistering hot in our current country of residence to remain for the summer months. My joke is that we’re trading heat for heat – except believe it or not, it’s actually cooler in Arizona than it is where we are the rest of the year. I grew up hearing people talk about how it’s a “dry heat”… I don’t think I truly understood until I stepped outside my house in the Middle East and experience 120F with 90% humidity. Blech.

It’s amazing how much the town I grew up in has grown since I lived here some twenty years ago, though. When I was a kid, the library was all the way across town, and the kid’s section was in the basement. It wasn’t a bad kid’s section, despite the yellowing lights and threadbare carpets. There were always plenty of books I hadn’t read yet, friendly librarians to help find things, and best of all, a dollhouse with some seriously amazing dolls and teeny tiny furniture and paintings and everything one could want in a dollhouse. You couldn’t play with the dollhouse – it was an antique – but I loved looking at it, and probably spent far too long staring past the Plexi-glass while my mother tapped her foot and waited for me to finish.

Twenty years later, the library is still there across town: but it’s no longer the only branch, let alone the main branch. The new location is much, much closer to my parents’ house, and it’s gorgeous. The kids section, instead of being in the dark and windowless basement, is bright and airy and features no less than five storytimes a week. There’s no dollhouse (I have no idea what happened to the one in my memory) but there’s a cave with benches and a Lego table, both of which fascinate my 3-year-old son.

This summer, like last summer, I signed the boys up for the summer reading program. Isn’t it funny how summer just seems to go with reading? The whole concept of summer reading lists and swinging in a hammock in the backyard with a book and a glass of lemonade. Or sitting on a beach under an umbrella, reading some deliciously silly book with scantily clad people on the cover, the trashier the better.

(True for most people, anyway. I once won a contest for correctly remembering that the last book my husband had read on a beach was Stalin and the Bomb.)

In keeping with tradition, my newest release features sunsets and warm air, scantily-clad cover models and ice cream cones. There’s even a rainy day in Paris to soothe your sunburnt skin! (And no mentions of Stalin or bombs, I promise!)

 

 

What Happens at Bonded Beach:

JAMAL PATTERSON WANTS TO FOCUS ON HIS CAREER.

Alpha Jamal Patterson hasn’t had a steady relationship in his entire life, and he’s never wanted one, either. When his next job involves photographing his favorite model at the infamous Bondell Beach Resort – known for allowing bonded couples only – that lifestyle proves to be a snag. His boss has a solution in mind – but Jamal takes one look at her “solution” and knows his heart is in big trouble.

BRYCE FULTON WANTS A CHANCE TO HAVE A CAREER.

Maybe secretarial work isn’t quite Omega Bryce Fulton’s childhood dream, but at least it’s in the fashion industry. Photo shoots in Paris aren’t meant for guys like him – especially with the secret he’s sure would get him fired. But when a cute photographer needs Bryce’s help to access an exclusive beach resort, Bryce gets the chance to have everything his heart – and his ambition – have always wanted.

ONCE THEY’VE WORKED TOGETHER – WILL THEY EVER BE ABLE TO WORK APART?

It’s the perfect plan: pretend to be a couple for two days. Jamal gets his photos, and Bryce gets to prove he can handle more responsibility. But Bonded Beach didn’t get its nickname for nothing. Now Bryce and Jamal are going to have to decide what’s really important: their careers, or each other.

For release on July 10, 2018

Pre-orders available now!

$2.99 or Free on Kindle Unlimited

 

This is what I did yesterday in lieu of writing an epilogue.

In case you’re wondering about the recent influx of emails in your inbox from your favorite authors, there’s a new EU law that is effecting everyone’s mailing lists. It’s not a bad law – it’s designed to keep everyone’s personal information safer. In light of recent Facebook scandals and whatnot, I don’t think anyone’s going to argue increased safety regarding personal information is a bad thing.

 

It does, however, mean that those of us who operate mailing lists – such as newsletters – are subject to consequences if we have any EU residents on our mailing lists and don’t comply with the laws – whether or not we’re EU residents ourselves. I’m not an EU citizen, nor do I live in the EU, but I’m absolutely certain that some of my readers are. (After all, Amazon does tell me when my books are purchased/borrowed from the French, Italian, or German versions of their website. One can easily surmise those books are purchased by EU citizens.)

And since the fines involved run up into the millions of euros… yeah. I’m damn sure gonna comply.

 

Luckily, it wasn’t too difficult to deal with my end of the bargain. Basically I tweaked the mailing list a little bit: there should be a double opt-in now. Instead of entering your email once and done with it, new subscribers will get a confirmation email. Once they click the link in there and confirm they want in, they’re on the list and I’ve got proof they want to be on the list. For the current subscribers, I sent out an email that basically explains the new law and asks them to opt-in. Once they do, they’re fine and I’m covered.

 

But anyone who doesn’t opt-in by May 25… will be automatically removed from the list. Which is the scary part of the proposition. I know I’ve ignored newsletter emails in the past. A whole lot of them, actually. Or I don’t get to them for days or even weeks.

Don’t we all….

I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen a bunch this month. I’ve got a plan to send out two additional reminders to people who don’t respond, so hopefully that’ll catch most of the stragglers.

 

But in the meantime… so far, so good, and I feel much better off knowing that I’m not risking millions of euro for the lack of a couple of emails.

 

But if you see an email from your favorite author over the next couple of weeks… make sure you open it, please? And if you still want to hear from them, please let them know!

Sometimes life is a Joni Mitchell song

We lost internet for a while this past weekend. Apparently someone somewhere snipped a cable they weren’t supposed to snip, and so the whole block lost internet for two days. The funny thing about losing internet access is I never realize how much of our lives we spend online. Some things are obvious: Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook and WhatsApp are part of our daily lives, but we can live without them for a while. We’ve done it before – heck, most of our lives, those things didn’t even exist.

What surprised me more was how much I’m online when I don’t even realize I’m online. I tried to open a game I play on my phone and was immediately informed that the game couldn’t connect to the server and was thus unavailable. (What? Didn’t I spend five minutes downloading that game? What do you mean I have to be online to play it?)

I wrote for a little while, and then realized I needed to research how to say Happy Hanukkah in French. Except I couldn’t – because the answer was online.

I was in the middle of making a raspberry Danish – but the recipe I printed out that morning suggested watching a video on YouTube in order to do the tricky braid part correctly. Which is online.

I thought, okay, fine. I’ll read one of the books I got off Amazon this morning. Except I couldn’t, because my Kindle hadn’t downloaded them yet and thus they weren’t available yet.

Even Microsoft Word, which I own outright – when I opened a new file to type this up, I was immediately informed that my subscription could not be verified because I was not online.

All in all, it was a really frustrating two days.

What startled me was my reaction to the lack of internet, probably more than actually losing internet in the first place. For some reason – even though my phone still sent texts and received calls and could connect to the internet if I turned on mobile data – I could feel myself growing anxious. My heart didn’t pound, but I had a strange, light-headed, other-worldly feeling. My fingers tingled, like my blood wasn’t getting enough oxygen.

I’m not usually an anxious person; I’ve gone without internet before, when traveling or when the WiFi router mysteriously goes haywire. I spent the first year here without mobile data at all, so every time I left the house, I was unable to connect to anything. And that was okay, it was just part of life, you know? It’s something I accept(ed).

We’ve dropped internet before, of course – everyone does. Sometimes it even takes more than five minutes or so to click back in. After two hours, though, I was pretty sure it was broken – and I still didn’t feel better. My fingers still tingled or felt numb. My chest still felt like I had a vice around my heart. It wasn’t until I sat down and talked myself through it: You are fine. It is fine. It’s just the stupid internet. You don’t need it. You can still call out. You can still get texts. You can access via mobile data if you need it. You can go to the consulate in the morning and talk to the guy in charge of the internet and get this straightened out. You probably just hit the cut-off, and all you have to do is pay and you’ll get it back. No big deal. And maybe find out what the upper limit is so you can avoid this in the future!

And after that rousing pep-talk… I felt a lot better.

I don’t wonder if I’m addicted to the internet; I know for a fact I am. I’m online almost all the time. I like to look things up as I think of questions. I like being able to send a photo of the kids to my mom within seconds of me taking it – and having her respond before the end of the day. My camera talks to my phone; my phone talks to my computer; my computer talks to my Kindle. The only device not talking to anything is the DVD player and that’s mostly because I haven’t had the need to set it up yet.

And yeah, okay, maybe I could spend a little less time online and more time doing other things, like baking or brushing the cat or going to the gym. Or (God help me) reading the three-year-old The Monster at the End of this Book for the five-thousandth time.

Or writing the stories I post online. Tweaking the photos I’ve taken of the boys, to post online. Commenting on the stories I’ve been reading, obtained online. Reading the news of the world… online.

I can’t say that everything I need is online. My kids aren’t, my husband isn’t, my cat’s not. But so much of what I do that I enjoy – and the people I enjoy sharing those things with – are online, that I find it very difficult to face a world where I can’t immediately access it.

No wonder I felt like I was trapped, when without warning, it was taken away. (I can even pinpoint the twenty-minute period in which it happened.) It wasn’t that I was trapped – but I was very much cut off from many of the things on which I’ve come to rely. I’m not used to such isolation anymore, not in the same way I was twenty or ten or even five years ago, before I even owned a smartphone.

I think that’s probably true of most of us. Even my husband has a smartphone now – his work forced him to get one. He resisted for years, saying he didn’t need it. And he didn’t.

But when he upgraded his personal phone over the summer, he got a smartphone. He uses it every day to listen to NPR podcasts.

About a year ago, I read a book called <a href=https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20170404-station-eleven>Station Eleven</a> by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s one of those apocalypse novels, where rocks fall and everyone dies, and then we get to see what happens afterwards. In this book’s case, there’s a pandemic that kills something like 90% of the world population within about a week. The majority of the book takes place 20 years later. It’s a scary, frightening, fantastically imaginative world, and I was completely captivated it – but one of the things that frightened me the most was those weeks after the pandemic swept through the world.

It wasn’t the sudden loss of life. It was that one of the first things to break down was the lines of communication. No electricity, no phones, no internet, no nothing. Everything was gone. Everyone was isolated from everyone else.

I won’t give away more of the story, not really – but the part I loved best about the ending, was the tiny note of hope at the end: the rumor that there was a community that had figured out how to turn on the power again. And with that… the possibility of reaching out to someone else.

The idea of suddenly disappearing… and never finding out the end of anyone else’s stories – it scares me. Mostly because I think in a lot of ways, it’s also inevitable. I’ve been online in some form for over fifteen years now. There’s already people who I talked and interacted with every day who just don’t go online anymore. I have no idea what’s happened to them, how they’re doing, where they are, what their lives are like – and all too often, no way to reconnect, since even the platforms we used to interact are no longer in operation.

I remember when my grandparents were in their 90s, and it seemed like every day, another one of their friends passed away. At some point, that’s going to be us. Times however many followers we have, because of course my grandparents didn’t have a virtual set of friends. They had the people in their real lives. We have so many more.

Grim thoughts for a sunny day – and I’m not quite sure how to end my musings, except that the internet returned with as much fanfare as it disappeared, and sure enough, everyone was waiting exactly where I left off. Which is comforting, in its own way.

Joni may have sung it first, but this is the version I like the best.

On Editing

I’ve been waist-deep in editing the last few weeks, trying to get not only the next book to a stage where it’s ready for other eyes, but also a few other projects that needed intense editing before completion. I used to hate the editing process, because it seemed so tedious – delete a comma here, fix punctuation there, rephrase a sentence until it’s clear. To a younger me, it was mostly busy work.

I don’t feel that way anymore – editing is one of my favorite stages of the writing process. I love getting feedback, hearing what works and what doesn’t, what makes people laugh and what makes people cry. I even like hearing what’s confusing or unclear, because a lot of the times, I already felt the same way and just need confirmation, and maybe another point of view to figure out why so I can fix it.

What changed? I found a couple of really fantastic editors, who not only pointed out the incorrect comma placements, the clunky sentences, and the slightly off characterization – but they also questioned why I’d done things. They pushed back, they pointed out logical leaps, they said things that made me want to explore my plot a bit deeper.

In short, they turned editing from a chore to an absolute delight. Now, when I read through my drafts, I’m trying to emulate them. I ask myself the same questions: not just “Is this where the comma goes?” but also, “Is this where this scene goes? Is this what the character needs to ask right now? Am I missing some important piece of information in their backstory that will make it click?”

I always see posts online about how important it is to get the first draft down: that it’s okay if the words are terrible, because no one expects a first draft to be fantastic. It occurred to me, while I was in the middle of editing, that being a writer isn’t the ability to write a story. Anyone can write a story: that’s the whole point about programs like NaNoWriMo and websites like fanfiction.net. It’s the first draft that turns a daydream into a story.

But it’s the second draft that turns a story-teller into a writer.

Writers don’t stop at a first draft. They sit down and edit the complete drivel they’ve just written. Anyone can write a first draft. Not everyone has the patience to turn those first drafts into middling second, decent third, and fabulous fourth drafts. (Not to mention the fifth, sixth, and even seventh drafts.)

Really, I’d venture to say that the best writers are also the best self-editors. They recognize that first drafts are usually complete and total crap, and then have the patience and self-awareness to fix them.

I’ve always written stories – but I think it’s only in the last few years that I’ve been comfortable calling myself a writer. I think perhaps this different approach to the process is probably key to why.

 

I am the crazy neighbor lady, and I love it

Scene: A pleasant afternoon. Dinner is marinating in the fridge, the kids are out playing, I’m trying to get some writing done.

 

DING DONG.

 

I open the door to find one of the neighborhood girls (age 9) pointing dramatically at an unfamiliar neighborhood child on a scooter (age approximately 7, giggling uncontrollably).

 

Small neighbor child: Miss Penelope! This girl! Ran over! A unicorn. ON HER SCOOTER.

Me: OMG. IS THE UNICORN OKAY?

Small neighbor child: I don’t know!

Me: That’s horrible! (to the giggling child) Couldn’t you have stopped?!?! Aren’t there brakes on that menacing contraption under your control?

Giggling Delinquent child: No!

Me: What? Do you even have a license to drive?

Giggling Delinquent child: No!

Me: OH THE HUMANITY. I can’t bear it! Won’t somebody think of the baby unicorns???

 

The girls run off, I close the door, return to my desk, and write exactly one sentence. It’s not even a long sentence.

 

DING DONG.

 

Small neighbor child: Miss Penelope–

Me, tearfully: Is the unicorn okay?

Small neighbor child: Yes! See, it’s right here! It’s fine.

Me: ….That’s a chalk drawing of a unicorn.

Small neighbor child: Yes!

Me: I THOUGHT YOU MEANT A REAL UNICORN.

Small neighbor child: No!

Me: I was about to call animal control!

Small neighbor child: You don’t call animal control about a unicorn!

Me: You don’t?

Small neighbor child: No! You call the vet!

Me, doing my best Gilda Radner imitation: Ooooohhhhhhhhhh. Never mind!

 

Just so everyone knows, imitations of Helen Lovejoy and Gilda Radner are completely lost on the 9-year-old set.