Monthly Archives: January 2014

Reflected in the Rain is out NOW!

I probably shouldn’t be writing this right now. I’m delirious, emotionally drained, and have about ten other things I should be doing… but why not?

Reflected in the Rain is finally publishing!  The paperback proof should be on my doorstep today or tomorrow.  The ebook is live on Amazon now, and should trickle out to Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, and iBooks soon.

Coffee.  I need lots of it. 

Why?  Because.  This book damn near killed me.  I can and probably will write a real blog post just about the journey to bring Jake and Eve’s love story to the page.  I got really involved with these two and it lead me down a lot of paths.  I’m tired.

And as much experience as I have running marketing and consumer planning initiatives, I can’t seem to put my heart and soul into the marketing of my books.  I know what to do, I just have the hardest time doing it.  I love to write and spend *some* time online, just not all of it.  So I’m trying to be ok with that.

On that note, here’s a favorite excerpt from Reflected in the Rain.  Sexy times.  Enjoy!

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“See that tree over there?  The massive one with the little trees all around it?  There should be a small offshoot of the falls just on the other side,” I called up to Jake who was about ten feet ahead of me with the backpack.

He looked back with a devilish grin on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.  “You sure about this, babe?”

Oh I was sure.  My idea to tease Jake had gone better than planned.  He’d acted like it wasn’t bothering him, but the minute we landed on Guadaloupe the questions started.  The man who had just been so calm and cool on the little commuter plane suddenly turned into a talk show host asking question after question.

But I held out.  I simply smiled each time he tried to squeeze my ideas out of me.  It drove him crazy.  Until this morning.  He was just starting to stir and the morning light was just starting to stream in through the picture window above our bed when I whispered in his ear.

“Today we’re hiking up to the top of the volcano to see the first stage of the waterfalls.”

He smiled and stretched with his eyes still closed.  “Sounds like fun.”

“And you’ll fuck me while we’re up there.”

His eyes shot open and his strong arms tightened around me.  “Yes, ma’am!”

Then he was out of bed and digging out his backpack and sneakers before I could even roll over.  “We still need to eat breakfast…”

He looked up at me with such serious eyes and pointed at the porch.  “Then get eating!  I have a challenge to complete!”

I grinned like an idiot all through breakfast.

Every morning a tray of food and coffee was delivered to our porch.  It was kind of magical to wake up to fresh fruit and croissants every day.  My father’s best friend offered up his vacation house on the French Caribbean island of Guadaloupe for us to escape.  It was perfectly located on the rainforest side of the island, which meant we were a five minute car ride from the beach or hiking, depending on which way we turned when we got to the main road.

Jake still hadn’t told me what he’d packed in that backpack or how he planned on accomplishing his task, but I didn’t care.  It was fun to watch Jake.  He was like an excited kid and that glint in his eyes every time he looked at me… that was precisely what I was hoping for when I brought the game up in the first place.

“Oh, baby.  This is going to be fun…” Jake groaned as he pulled to a stop at a set of small falls that ended in a pool of water, surrounded by forest.  We were fairly high up on the dormant volcano and had timed our hike to leave between the scheduled tours, not that many tourists were hiking.  Most were more than happy to take the easy walk up to the second stage of the falls and enjoy the view from there.  Only a select few chose to make the much harder extra hike the rest of the way up.

It was like we were alone in the world.

The volcano was covered in fairly dense rainforest which made it seem even more intimate.  The tree canopy blotted out most of the sunlight and the humidity was incredible.  When it rained, it was light, like a mist.

It was so humid my hair had become naturally curly for the first time in my life and I was enjoying the unexpected change, wearing it down in soft waves.  At the moment those waves were plastered to the side of my head.

“It looks like we can walk out on those rocks if you want to get closer to the falls,” Jake said.

I nodded and waited while Jake took off the backpack and set it against a tree before taking my hand and leading me out onto the wide, flat rocks.  We stopped at the last one I could reach, and Jake wrapped me up in his arms.  “It is so beautiful up here.”

I nodded as I looked out at the rushing water.  “It doesn’t look real.  The colors are so rich!”

Jake was looking everywhere but at me and that was when I realized he was scouting out a place for us to have fun.  I’d been watching for other hikers the whole time, but we never saw anyone.  I was really hopeful we’d be alone on our hike for a while longer.

Long enough to have an amazing orgasm under the rainforest canopy.

I’d been on pins and needles all morning.  Every sense was tuned to Jake and his body.  So when he wrapped his arm around my waist and held me close, it wasn’t just his warmth and firm body I felt.  I heard every breath and the thud of his heart.  I felt the excited energy running under his skin.  The anticipation was driving him.

But it was the life in his green eyes that really tugged at my heart.  I loved seeing him so happy and light.  He grinned and turned me slightly to the right.  “There, those bushes next to the pool.”

There was a low stand of bushes just in the shade of the trees above.  It might work.  “We should take a closer look.”

Jake threaded his fingers through mine, drawing me along with him as he returned to the shore and retrieved his backpack.  This was what I wanted: fun and excitement with Jake.  But now that it was here, I was nervous.

Luckily Jake wasn’t.  He was completely focused on his mission and utterly adorable.  It was impossible to not get swept up in his sexy confidence.

The bushes were tall and thick enough that no one would see us unless they came right up on us, which we would ideally hear well in advance.  “What do you think Mrs. Spencer?”  He was right at my ear and his warm breath danced along my sensitive skin.  He tossed the backpack down and wrapped his arm around my waist, pulling my backside flush against his front.  “Have I mentioned how much I liked your game idea?”

I laughed as I closed my eyes and leaned into his embrace.  Jake’s other hand had traveled down between my legs.  “I was getting that impression.  What’s in the bag or is it a secret still?”

He spun me in his arms so that we were face to face.  I couldn’t help myself; I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him hard.  After a long, deep kiss Jake pulled back with an enormous grin on his face.  “I’m getting the impression you’re enjoying the game, too.”

We’d barely started and I was having the time of my life.  “A game I can’t lose?  Oh, I’m having fun.”

“You know, I hadn’t thought of it that way.  It really is a win all around.”

I nodded slowly as Jake stepped away to open the mysterious backpack.  “Put this around your shoulders, please.”  He held out an enormous checked blanket.  While I wrapped it around my shoulders like a giant, long shawl, Jake repositioned me with my back to the water.  Then, he kneeled in front of me, kissing my belly and wrapping his large hands around my waist, holding me close.

Standing like that, I imagined I looked like a swimmer drying off.  Jake was completely hidden in front of me.  He was my secret.

He slid his fingers around the button of my pants, slid the zipper down, and slowly removed my pants.  But it was the way he did it—so slowly and lovingly.  He studied my skin with his eyes and fingers, moving me where he wanted me with gentle moves.  And when he looked up at me from his knees with those soft green eyes I was already so turned on I was finding it hard to stand.  My head was spinning.

“Step out,” he whispered hoarsely.  That was when I realized Jake was panting and a little shaky, too.  The moment was affecting both of us.

Underneath my pants and thin white t-shirt I was wearing a bikini.  Jake smiled wickedly as he played with the edges of the fabric, but I couldn’t keep my eyes on him.  The electricity shooting over my skin from his touch was overwhelming.  I closed my eyes and ran my hands through his hair as his fingers moved under the fabric.

“My, my, my… so turned on for me, Mrs. Spencer.  I like this very much.”  I peeked down at him hidden in the folds of my blanket.  My husband was thoroughly pleased with himself.

“You’ve got me turned on, now what are you going to do Mr. Spencer?”

He bounced his eyebrows.  “Win.”

***********

Reflected in the Rain is available NOW on Amazon!  And Book 1, The Storm Inside is on sale for only $0.99!

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Book Review: The Return by A.L. Parks

The Return

I’m gonna start out by listing five things:

Snow.  Sweet, sexy firefighter.  Smart lady lawyer.  More snow.  Sweet, simple love.

If you like these things (and snow) I suggest you keep reading.

The Return by A.L. Parks surprised me.  I liked her first book, Strangers, but I knew it was going to be hard to read a book with two characters that had the same names as my characters (Jake and Eve)–like reading a sexy book with a main character that has the same name as your dad or brother.  Things might get weird in my head.  I didn’t want to unfairly approach The Return.  But A.L. did a great job of immediately introducing me to her Jake and Eve in a way that instantly banished my Jake and Eve from my head.  They are very distinctive and interesting characters and I think A.L. did a great job of creating a well-rounded hero and heroine with personalities I liked and backstories I could relate to.

So let’s talk story.  (As a reminder, in my reviews I DO NOT retell the story or list spoilers.  This is a review not a book report).  Eve is returning to her family vacation home in Colorado (just before Christmas, thus all the snow) to prepare it for sale.  Her life has gone down the divorce path and she wants the house gone.

This is where we meet Jake.  He’s been asked by Eve’s local friend to help get her driveway clear (of the SNOW!) but first Eve skids off the road in her rental car.  Luckily Jake is the fire chief and happens on her very quickly.  The chemistry is immediate and I liked Jake right away.  Parks establishes the tone of the characters and their impeding relationship very quickly, which I liked.

In many ways Jake and Eve have had similar experiences in life and are looking for the same things.  They are perfect for each other!  It is a relationship I started rooting for immediately.  Oh, and did I mention the SNOW?  Because it is almost its own character.  Well, not really, but it plays an important part in the setting and feel of the book to the point I feel like mentioning it a thousand times in this review.  If you like winter romances, snow romances, or vacation romances, this book has that feel all over it.  It made me sad I haven’t seen snow in a couple of years.

But we’re talking about The Return.  This book was very well paced and the plot and characters developed well over the course of the book.  It was easy to read and I finished it in two long sittings (while blowing up my microwave… but that’s a whole other story)

Grab it while it’s cold out, it makes the winter even more magical.  But don’t fear, if you are reading this review in 100 degree heat this summer, you will still want to read this book because it instantly transports you somewhere filled with snow and cooler temperatures.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  It did everything I hope for in a story: it made me love the characters, want to visit the setting of the book, and escape for a few hours while I followed two characters on a journey through their own confusing lives, all while falling in love.  I’m very much looking forward to the sequel!

AL Parks

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Chat: keeping life in “balance” is crap, especially for a writer

Why?  Why must I keep my life in balance?  Is it really that much better?  I kind of like my topsy-turvy chaotic life.  (ok, so sometimes it gets the best of me and I have a minor meltdown, but don’t we all?)  I love throwing myself passionately into my work.  Other things fall by the wayside and I consider the dirty dishes, lack of bathing, and lost keys to be a badge of honor.  I just gave everything to something.  Can’t you tell?  The evidence is everywhere.

That being said, there are a lot of reasons to attempt balance and lot of reasons it is a bunch of misogynistic crap.  So, rather than babble to myself, I sat down on Google Hangouts On Air with Julia Kelly and Mary Chris Escobar (and our drinks) to talk about the myth surrounding balance and why it doesn’t work.  Grab a drink and let us entertain you!

Some fun news: we’re currently in the process of setting up a new YouTube channel just for these chats.  It is called First Draught (because we like to write and drink… get it?)

OH!!! And check out RAWWcon!! Raising Awareness of Women in Writing.  It is my new venture with Julia Kelly and Audra North.  We’re just getting off the ground, but please stop by, checkout the website, follow our social media accounts, and send us any tips or articles that may be relevant to the cause!

So what do you think?  Do I have it all wrong?  Is my crazy way of doing things bad and balance is good?  Sound off:

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2014: A Year of Creative Explosion

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Happy 2014!  Last year was a huge building year for me and my family.  There were lots of ups and downs but in the end it will all be worth it because this year is going to be awesome!  Here is a glimpse of what to expect from me in 2014:

1. Writing

In addition to Reflected in the Rain I have several projects planned including more in the TSI series and finally launching my baby: The Unspoken Game series.

  • Greg’s book is planned for this summer, I’m hoping May/June for release.  I am so excited about an entire book of Greg’s smart mouth and crass humor being balanced by a woman who can keep up with him!
  • The Unspoken Game is an action/adventure/suspense/mystery series I started a year ago.  I’m hoping to launch it by March with a free short story and the first novel in the series.  I have many (many) plans and hopes and dreams for where I can take this story now that I have my writing feet under me!

2. Projects

Oh so many projects!  More than I know what to do with, but that’s is totally fine because they are all worth it.  Since embarking into the publishing world I’ve gotten the chance to collaborate and brainstorm with a lot of brilliant and amazing people.  This year I’m totally kicking it up a notch.

  • More writing chats with my girls.  We’ll keep chatting about romance, writing, books, and life.  And of course our favorite drinks 😉
  • I’m in the very early stages of a collaboration with two other authors on the topic of women in romance (Yes I’m being vague because it’s still early!).  We’ve got a lot of ideas and a lot of goals and it is going to be awesome! I can’t wait to see where this goes.
  • I’ve also got two other personal projects.  One is code named “Lady Jane” and involves equality/women’s issues in America and another that is code named “Asshat Awareness”.  Despite how it sounds it is designed to be a positive project designed to help people focus on their goals and be less negative (especially on social media).  We’ll see where they both go, but I’m pretty excited.

3. Adventure

With all the building/re-building we did in 2013 our adventures had to be put on hold.  No more.  We are back!  Admittedly we will have to take it slow (no European adventures or hiking through the Andes…) probably local adventure (hikes, tubing, surfing) and our first real trip is slated to go see a cave (Xander’s choice).  I’m thinking the panhandle and a pit stop at my alma mater FSU to show the kiddos where mommy and daddy met.

This is actually my conservative list.  I have a bit of an over-achiever problem and my real list is much more involved and ambitious.  I probably won’t get to them all but I firmly believe in the “aim for the stars” philosophy.  If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough!  Aim high in 2014.  This is your life–LIVE IT!

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