No, I totally am.
Shut the front door! It's been a freaking year?? No wait, you've got to be kidding...it's only been a year? It was last summer the power of romance compelled me to tell Jake and Eve's story. I was obsessed. I didn't bathe. I didn't eat (no seriously, I forgot to eat and lost, like, ten pounds. I do NOT endorse the obsessed authors diet. It is BAD for your health).
But I had to tell this story about two people hopelessly in love. Jake was stuck in my head. This guy who was so incredibly scarred by life, but was so in love with Eve that he was willing to do anything to keep from hurting her--including breaking her heart so he could get better. And he did. He became this incredibly strong, wise, freaking hot dude. And of course that meant he needed to get his girl back.
I still love this story like I love my kids. Ok, maybe a little different than my kids, but it's my book-kid, and as such it has a very special place in my heart. Not just because of the story itself, but because of what that story did to my life. The Storm Inside brought me my critique partner, Julia Kelly. And Julia widened my circle of writer friends so much larger than I dared to hope it could get.
It made me closer with my other writer friends Mary Chris Escobar, Lashell Collins, and Tracie Puckett. Tracie became my angel when things got ugly this year, and then she pushed me when I needed a good push.
Then The Storm Inside brought me A.L. Parks, who then brought me T.J. Kline. It connected me with readers. It reconnected me with old friends like Mychele and Jennifer S (I didn't put your full names since I didn't ask permission!). It gave me the courage to have fun and finally write Tease and Undressing Cara for One Week in Wyoming.
It made me closer to my hot hubby.
And all of this, all of you, made my dreams come true. This is the life I always dreamed of having: family, friends, and the ability to write. I feel so incredibly blessed and I don't know what to do with myself except tell all of you over and over how grateful I am to have each of you in my life, no matter how brief.
It scares me to think that I almost chickened out on this. That I almost let the nay-sayers and negative Nellies, convince me to keep my stories to myself. That one little leap of faith has changed my entire life from top to bottom.
If anyone out there is thinking of pursuing a dream, all I have to say is this: You can't be afraid to fail and you can't listen to anyone else but you. If you feel like your dream is real and you are willing to work very hard for what you want, then don't let failure or doubters hold you back. Have faith in yourself, trust yourself, and have the courage to believe in you.
Be like Jake and Eve.
For fun I've included a little excerpt from When Lightning Strikes, the third book in The Storm Inside series. It is Greg's book and I'm working as fast as I can on it. Hopefully it will be out in November. Keep in mind this is completely raw and unedited. The only person who has seen this before now, is me!
“Greg Hamilton.” He said it, almost curtly, thrusting his hand out.
I looked down and cocked my head to the side. This was an interesting turn of events. “Marie,” I replied simply. My last name tended to give me away more often than not, and I had a feeling I didn’t want to be exposed to this man in that way.
I shook his hand and tried my damndest to not get lost in his blue eyes, because damn, they were intense. It felt like he could see beneath my skin and into my soul. They were even more penetrating up close than they were from across the bar.
“I just wanted to come over and tell you that you have the best laugh I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Was that a line? Because if it was, it was one of the oddest ones I’d ever received. “Thank you?”
Greg shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t hear laughs like that very often, and yours was particularly beautiful. I just thought you should know.”
My laugh was beautiful. Not me. Not my dress or my hair. Not even my body. “Well thank you very much. Can I get you a drink? I was about to order us some fresh ones.”
Greg looked down at his mostly full glass. “No, I’m fine, but thank you.”
I leaned my hip into the bar and signaled the bartender. He gave me a wink and held up a finger letting me know he’d be over in a moment. I turned back to Greg. “So is that really the only reason you came over?”
He chuckled and took a drink, a wry smile pulling at one side of his lips. “Look sweetheart, you’re a beautiful woman, I don’t think you need me to tell you that. Or maybe that’s what you prefer?”
Oh…this dude had an attitude on him. “Actually I can’t stand it. I was just trying to figure out what your game is. One minute you’re pissing off Tyler Jones and looking like you’d rather eat nails than be in this bar, and the next you’re over here smiling and telling me my laugh is beautiful.”
I couldn’t decide if Greg was a genuinely interesting mystery or just another half-drunk jackass bored and looking for a quick fuck, or a fight, on a Thursday night.
He took a step toward me. Even in my three-inch heels he had a couple of inches on me, which wasn’t saying a whole lot, I wasn’t exactly tall, but I had to look up to see into his eyes. “I have a policy to always tell people when I admire something about them. Life is too short to keep shit like that to ourselves.”
Oh, that was very interesting. Greg Hamilton had a history, of that I was sure. “That sounds like a very sound policy. For the record, you have the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen.”
Those baby blues widened and then darkened. Hot didn’t begin to cover it.
“And, just for the record, you do have a beautiful body.”
For some reason, that made me blush. His gaze flicked to my cheeks and neck, and then he took a step back, as if realizing he’d embarrassed me and felt bad. But having him step away made me sad. There was something about having him close that I very much enjoyed. His presence was immense. The closer he got, the more intensely I felt it. The air was charged and his scent—some sort of manly Old Spice-type musk—was everywhere.
It was like a little taste of heaven and I wanted it back.
He cleared his throat. “Sorry.”
“Why are you sorry for telling me that? I thought it was your policy to always tell someone when you admire something about them. Unless, you were lying?”
He frowned and cocked an eyebrow. I had a feeling this was a typical expression for Greg. The lines on his brow creased and deepened as if this was the normal position for his skin. “No, I wasn’t lying. But you turned red.” He waved his glass in a circle over my face.
I smiled. This man was a very interesting enigma. “So?”
“So I felt bad.”
“Why did you feel bad for complimenting my body?”
He looked at me like I was crazy. “I just…” he ran his hand through his hair, messing it into a totally different configuration. A totally tuggable one at that. “I just didn’t want you to think I was that kind of guy.”
“And what kind of guy is that?” I knew I was being difficult, but Greg was making it so much fun.
“The kind of guy who picks up women in bars.”
“That’s not the kind of guy you are? You’ve never picked up a woman in a bar before?”
I was absolutely positive that Greg had picked up his fair share of women over the years. He wasn’t exactly young, but he wasn’t old either. My guess was mid to late thirties. A wonderful age for men. They were still young enough to have fun, but old enough to have learned from their mistakes.
He glared at me. “Yes, I occasionally meet women in bars.”
“Then why don’t you want me to think you were trying to pick me up?”
Greg looked completely exasperated by me. His brows were furrowed, he was frowning, and his glass was almost empty now.
“What can I get you?” The bartender had finally made his way back down to me.
“Another white wine and a whiskey and tonic.”
The bartender looked over my shoulder. “Another Knob for you?”
When I looked back at Greg I realized he was staring at me.
“Nothing,” he replied quickly. “And I’m fine, thanks.” The bartender nodded and got busy making our drinks.
Whatever Greg was thinking, it was not nothing. I didn’t know what it was…but I sure wanted to find out. “So Greg Hamilton, drinker of Knob Creek and occasional picker-upper of women in bars. What are you doing over here talking to me?”
He swallowed and shook his head. “I think I might be getting picked up by you.” A huge grin split his face, lighting up his eyes.
I looked Greg up and down before meeting his eyes again. Was I picking him up? I hadn’t done anything that ill-advised in years, and yet…I kinda wanted to see what would happen. I bit my lip while I debated, and Greg’s eyes narrowed. Oh, this was nice. I had an effect on this man. “I haven’t decided yet,” I finally said.
Greg stepped up so that our fingertips were touching. “Well, then let me help you decide.”